Lucas Thomas

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View from The Top

The buildings, when bunched together in such a manner, all seemed to reach the same point. I wasn’t sure if I was seeing the tops of them as I looked up, or if that was simply as much as I could see before the sky got to them. In that regard it was impossible to tell the difference between fifty stories and 110 stories.

“Look up,” my uncle said, “we’re here.”

We went inside of course. This was my first family vacation, and I was twelve years old. I’ve always had a fascination with cities and tall buildings that I’ve never been able to explain, so at this point I’d reached the ultimate attraction. The plan was to get to the top before lunchtime and view the Greatest City in the World from its apex. We picked the perfect day for it, 90 degrees and barely a cloud in sight. It was tough to believe that it was still the morning, and I couldn’t imagine the sun being more radiant than it already was. Read the rest of this entry »


Covered up in Oil

This all seems so familiar I thought as I waited for Tony Hayward to arrive. A media circus that includes CNN, ABC, and MSNBC is gathered outside of the doors of the Rayburn House Office Building waiting for the CEO of British Petroleum to give his testimony to congress regarding his company’s embarrassing Gulf Coast oil spill. The reason I’m here is to possibly catch a glimpse of him as he goes by and get it on video.  I knew that nothing would come of this so to take my mind off the trademark heat that comes with a June morning in D.C., I replayed the events of two days ago:


“Maybe we need a full time safety center on these rigs,” said Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas), “There was nobody on-board whose job was to make the safe decision.” His words echo from room 2123 of the Rayburn House Office Building of the Capitol of the United States. He’s addressing Rex Tillerson, John Watson, James Mulva, Lamar McKay, and Marvin Odum—the CEO’s of America’s five oil giants (Exxon Mobil, ChevronCorporation, ConocoPhillips, BP America, and Shell respectively).  Read the rest of this entry »

Revelations of Moammar Gadhafi’s death

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

-Animal Farm

Moammar Gadhafi was slain in his hometown of Sirte, Libya. Rebels, or revolutionaries, or thugs, or bandits, or patriots, finally hunted him down after an eight month siege of Libya. He went out in a coup the same way he came in.

Gadhafi was found running from the men who would eventually kill him. The man looked like a rat, was dubbed a rat, and symbolically spent his last moments on earth with rats in a drainage pipe. His death would come shortly after being captured–but after forty-two years dictating Libya, countless encounters with world leaders and extravagant escapades around the globe, the man who was seen by some as a real life Bond villain and by himself as Africa’s “King of Kings”, made the last conscious decision of his life to hide in a dirty tunnel. First it was Saddam Hussein hiding out in a fox hole, now this with Gadhafi…it must be something about totalitarian tyrants ruling oil-rich Arab countries, a sixth sense perhaps, that prompts them to seek refuge and set up shop in filthy, burrowed out portions of the the earth. Read the rest of this entry »

American Psycho

Houses tucked away behind swirling farm roads, carved from the woods of countless rural Maine towns often defy the logistics of GPS technology, justified by my mystification of 139 Garland Road’s whereabouts. After passing it three times I’ve finally located the muddy driveway and when my car rolls in pot holes ravage the floor pan. Stepping out, six creaky steps lead to a musty porch. After a knock I’m greeted at the door by a large man in his early fifties–probably six-foot-two and 270 pounds, holding himself up
with crutches on each arm. He invites me inside his home, where nothing would ever be mistaken for modern architecture. The house is clustered and dusty, not really dirty but very apparent that cleaning is not an everyday occurrence in this home. I’ve spoke with this man on the phone several times so we are familiar with one another and he welcomes me into his home to tell me his story. I take the first seat and throw my notepad down as Ron Baroca White Rum fills the available space in a glass sitting on the kitchen table of Lester Carrow’s Exeter, Maine home; a home he’s dubbed “The Exeter Ghetto”.

It’s a striking image, one that inevitably leads me to a mental split screen. On the left is the current image described above of Lester as he sits with me in his home; the right side plays a mixture of pharmaceutical commercials that my brain is accustomed to seeing. They depict a middle aged couple bathing in a hot tub on top of a grassy hill in the middle of nowhere, holding hands in love, another one shows man and woman walking along the beach as their golden retriever runs along the edge of the breaking waves to fetch a stick, and the last one that seems to strike me is the family picnic on the prototypical family picnic day, not a cloud in the sky.

I ask myself: how would the nature of prescription drug use in America be different if Lester’s image—rather than that of a happily married white couple who, by their outdoor physical activities, are still vibrant and healthy well into their mid-50s—was the scene as the soothing voice of an AstraZeneca spokesperson explains to me why I should ask my doctor about Seroquel?

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The top 5 finest micro-brews from the state of Maine

5. Harvest IPA by Black Bear Brewery- Orono, ME

This IPA is brewed by the pride of Orono, Maine, the Black Bear Brewery. Only available seasonally and in limited batches, this beer is unique because the hops are picked fresh and thrown into the tank wet. No drying takes place between the harvesting of the hops and the brewing process. This adds to the flavor, which is thick and lingering. This very hoppy beer is a must try for IPA lovers.

4. Pail Ale by Black Bear Brewery- Orono, ME

Another distinct beer from the Black Bear collection. This beer is a borderline IPA. It is lighter than the #5 beer, but like the Harvest IPA this brew has an after taste that is very prevalent. The hops and grains are balanced well in this beer. Very similar to the Harvest IPA but does not have such an explicit taste as its brew-mate.

3. Bar Harbor Real Ale by Atlantic Brewing Company- Bar Harbor, ME

This beer is brewed at both of Atlantic’s Maine locations (Portland and Bar Harbor). This beer is the darkest and richest one on the list. It has a dark red tint to it and when poured produces a thick, creamy head. The taste of this beer is an acquired one, carrying a bitter aftertaste to it. The darkness and heaviness of the beer is what sets it apart and makes it unique. Not everyone will enjoy this beer, but if you enjoy broadening your micro-brew horizons, give this exclusive taste of Maine a shot.

2. Allagash White by Allagash Brewing Co.- Portland, ME

The only white beer on the countdown. This classic Belgian white brew has a cloudy, yellow tone. Unlike other Belgian white’s like Shock Top or Blue Moon, the Allagash White is not quite as smooth. A noticeable pine taste sets this beer apart from others in it’s category. This is a drink that is best enjoyed during the summer months. For a fan of Belgian style white’s like myself, this is a must have in your arsenal. The taste is refreshing and, like the previous brew, is a nice asset to the uniqueness of Maine brews.

1. Pumpkinhead by Shipyard- Portland, ME

At #1 is a crowd pleaser throughout New England. Fun fact: no pumpkin is used in the brewing of this beer, which will come as a shock to anyone who’s tasted it. This delicious brew can be drank by itself, with a touch of Guinness added to it, with Captain Morgan’s (or any vanilla spiced rum), or with a sugar and cinnamon ring around the rim of the glass (my personal preference). After drinking Shipyard’s fall seasonal, one will feel like they just ate a piece of pumpkin pie. This beer has a full-bodied flavor, is smooth, and perfect for the fall season. Yes this beer has something for everyone in it, making it the best beer brewed in the state of Maine.

The conclusion

Tonight is my last night in Washington and the finality of my looming departure has taken a toll in the last two days. Saturday saw a large chunk of the core group leave, and Sunday was huge because Adam left early in the morning. Jon Boy peaces out at ten in the morning tomorrow and I’m gone at five in the afternoon. Despite a series of circumstances that have prohibited me from making a “clean break” from the city when I leave tomorrow, the moment feels heavy. I know I will be back shortly but knowing everybody, including Amos, will be gone assures me that I will never really be “back” to where I was this summer.

The people I came in contact this summer have delighted me every day. Even the police officers, I am delighted to have spent the evening in their graces. I came across a black man dressed in a white-hooded cloak. I hung out with Phill Grimes in his camper for two hours. Phill claims to be the man people have dubbed responsible for legalizing marijuana in America. I shook Paul McCartney’s hand and walked past Ben Stein on the sidewalk. I met Martin Deschamps, a disabled musician that kills it on guitar and can sing like Louis Armstrong. All of this was new to me, and that is the common element of these experiences that create such vivid memories. Memories I am thankful to have, yet aware of their price. A certain youthful innocence was lost in it all. Things will never seem as new to me as they did this summer.

What made this summer so curiously hard to let go is tough to identify. The unknown always fascinates people. There was a lot of unknown in late May when I arrived: the people, the internship, the media, the pace of the city, the personality of the city. I tried to stay away from forming expectations on those topics because I knew for absolute certainty that whatever idea I came up with was based on 100% speculation. Not knowing a damn thing about any of the things that will begin to have an immediate impact scares the shit out of you early on. Especially when considering this was my first bit of exposure to a major media market. I had no idea if my peers were going to be experienced, or more apt to handle what was going to be required to survive in this setting. Unsure whether or not you will be the weak link can be a troubling thought, it manifests deep in your brain. Now on my last night, hanging on at 2AM as one of the last threads of the summer program, I realize the naïveté that bred those insecurities. I can say that I’ve come along way these past two months in that regard; understanding that there is more reason to embrace these changes rather than be intimidated by them. The pit in my stomach that has existed the past few days takes me back to the day I arrived. It’s the same feeling. Then it came from feeling unprepared. Now it comes from taking myself away from the very place that has dispelled those notions that two months ago bothered me. I know I’m better off for it, but it is a bittersweet goodbye.

So I leave Washington, with many things. None of them really tangible all I have are my clothes and laptop which I am typing on now. But lots of intangible things. Assurance. Experience. A network. A record. A culmination of adventures, sometimes disastrous and sometimes glorious. And in their own ways all of these things blend together causing a perfect storm within myself. I can’t put my finger on it exactly but I know it’s there. I can feel it. And so that storm brews and I leave this city behind with a strange sense of confidence in the unknown.

Mission Statement

Journalism is about preserving the ideals of free speech, something so important our founding fathers wrote it into the Constitution as the first right of the United States. This is an incredible responsibility that is not always met in current mainstream media outlets. In the 222 years since the Constitution was ratified free speech has evolved into controlled speech. Since the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, the information presented through the airwaves has been pre-cooked and reheated, becoming carefully tailored news stories that resonate with fear and win public opinion. The repeal of the doctrine opened the window for the controlling of information, in subtle and sometimes unnoticeable ways, creating a system ripe for corruption.

The media is one of the vital aspects of a society with such potential for power that not even federal regulations can overpower it. So network news stations hiring former vice-presidential candidates should be met with public outcry. Unfortunately, this is just another subtlety gone unnoticed by the masses, oblivious to ask the simple question: How can this person present me with an objective point of view? Because, that is what news is, objective presentation of information, meant to be interpreted by the receiver, not the distributor. That essential, once most important aspect of journalism, has become a casualty.

Journalism in my life means a platform from which to speak. For this reason I don’t view it as a “job”, instead an embedment of life. Being a journalist allows me to live life while making a living, not live life after I come home from making a living. It is one of the truly unique professions where the line between work life and personal life isn’t even necessary to draw. That is what I value so much about studying this field, and the respect I have for it stems from the First Amendment. Free flowing of all information to the masses that deserve it. As a new generation of journalists emerges, we carry a certain burden of responsibility. We owe that responsibility to the men who signed the Bill of Rights. They understood that above all else, in order for a society to truly be free, the information available to that society must also be free. It is absolutely necessary. In order to fulfill that responsibility we need not to look any further than the First Amendment and the Fairness Doctrine. Consider it a restoration project.