2014-10-30 / Community Blog

Gambling Your Life Away

Gambling Your Life Away

To the Editor:

“The sparks devour the marlin while the old man tries his best to protect it”. One of my favorite authors, Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), wrote one of my favorite short stories; The Old Man and the Sea, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. That novel, if you recall, had 3 protagonists-The Old Man, the giant marlin trophy fish and the school of sharks. The story takes place in the water off Cuba. The Old Man has been a fisherman all his life, living alone in a small shack off the beach and going out to sea daily in his fishing skiff, as did most of his fellow fishermen.

On the day of this adventure, he rows and sails out on the ocean, much further than usual, out of sight of land and other fishing boats. His food and water supplies are meager. The story hinges on him catching and subduing the largest trophy marlin of his career. The marlin is larger than his skiff! He estimates it to weigh more than 1500 pounds. After laboring for several hours, he manages to harpoon the marlin and lash it alongside his skiff. He then starts the long journey home under sail, elated with his catch and knowing that he will be the envy of all his fishing companions.

Hi euphoria turns to grief, however, when 2 Mako sharks detect the smell of blood in the water and descend on their prey. The Old Man initially fights them off at first with harpoon and later with his knife strapped to his oar. However, both of these weapons are soon broken and lost.

Additional sharks over the next several hours join in an eating frenzy, biting off huge chunks of the fish. The Old Man becomes exhausted and unable to protect hi catch. Several hours later, he returns to port, beaches his skiff and goes home discouraged and depressed.

Early the next morning, a crowd of fellow fishermen gather about the skiff amazed at the length of the marlin’s skeleton, which has been stripped of flesh. The marlin’s sword extends beyond the bow and it’s tail past the stern of the skiff by several feet!

My point in presenting this story is to suggest that you imagine:

  1. The Old Man to be a prototype of the Newport voters.
  2. The trophy marlin to be the epitome of the City of Newport
  3. The school of voracious, blood thirsty, relentless sharks to represent the Newport gambling interests bent on devouring the city with a full fledged casino gambling empire.

Then I would suggest that you re read this abridged version of the Old Man and the Sea, substituting these 3 new protagonists for those in Hemingway’s novella.

But-this would just be an enjoyable piece of fiction, wouldn’t it? Or would it!

Ed Madden


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