Nashua, New Hampshire
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Nashua is the second largest city in New Hampshire, but that is tantamount to being the second-biggest flea on a very small dog. Its population is around 90,000, including all the French Canadians you couldn't want. It is called "The Gate City" because calling it "The Clap City" would be ambiguous.
Nashua was first settled as the town of Dunstable by British colonists. Its modern name comes from an Indian chief, who Nashed his teeth at the boorishness of the colonists. National junk-mail databases aptly refer to the city as Nausha.
edit The mills
Though it is more lucrative for a town to have one too many lawyers than one too many prostitutes, Nashua always chose the latter. Mills sprang up on the Nashua River and employed many "mill girls" who did not work in the mills. The mills opened up job opportunities for the Quebecois who had not gotten homesick for even harsher winters. Many stayed in Nashua and became mill girls who actually worked in mills. In 1853, historic Dunstable was finally incorporated as Nashua after multiple rapid-fire name changes, including "Poultry-rama" and "Pick-A-Chick."
Eventually, electricity surpassed Nashua's plentiful water power, the mills declined, and the Quebecois moved to a part of town called French Hill, to become the ancestors of the modern city's white trash. But soon, the concept of a shopping Mecca that was close to, but not taxable by, Massachusetts became compelling, and Nashua's modern era began.
edit The malls
The Pheasant Lane Mall on the south Nashua strip, named by a focus group after absolutely nothing, is Nashua's biggest mall ever. Previous biggest-ever malls, such as the Nashua Mall to the north, lie underused, with overcoat factory outlets and year-'round Christmas tree stores that no one ever went to. (There are people who don't mind being ten years out of fashion, but no one drives out of his way for a chance to do so.) Pheasant Lane Mall has been in decline since the Massholes started returning to the rival Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts. Mall management toyed with the idea of banning the schoolgirls in their hot pants who loiter after school until closing and never buy anything, but saw extinction staring it in the face.
The mall can be seen above. Despite the brick façade, it doesn't look like a historic woolen mill; it looks like a mall. Most of the parking is in Massachusetts, where there is a 6.25% sales tax; all of the stores are in New Hampshire, where there isn't. The nubile young shoppers who returned to Burlington obviously aren't there to purchase. But the sales tax doesn't apply to services.
Signs on US-3 at the city limits brag that Nashua was considered "The Best City to Live In" in 1987 and 1997. Now it's about 80th place, unless you like government spy cameras on tall poles.
edit Key decision-makers
The previous mayor was Bernie Streeter, notorious for crashing a city staff car in Manchester on a private errand (Didn't know it was a one-way street), and for his version of "giving back," using a city dumpster to dispose of leaves from his home.
Former alderman David McLaughlin was popular, though not so popular that any of his colleagues inquired about his long absence from City Council. He was in a Massachusetts jail, serving time for felony drunk driving. His third offense would not have been a felony in New Hampshire, where drunk driving is an Olympic demonstration sport, so he was not barred from seeking re-election--except, happily, by his own shame.
Former alderman Tom Alciere is notorious for stating that a citizen who feels he has been wrongly arrested should try to kill the policeman. Alciere will always be a candidate, though not of any party that has a State Committee, but is no longer a Nashuan.
In 2012, Nashua elected Stacie Laughton (D-Ward 4) to the state legislature. Readers who wonder why Hillary Clinton's Southern accent keeps appearing and disappearing had a rather larger issue with Laughton — the first transsexual legislator to be elected in the state (as Althea Garrison made the switch only once safely in office) and maybe the first anywhere. Unfortunately, before the House could convene, Stacie was found out to also be Barry, and Barry was on a good-conduct release for felony credit-card fraud. While the political parties debated whether that meant she/he could hold office, he/she gracefully resigned. The next month, however, Laughton announced she would run to fill the vacancy she had created. Her party now took the opposite stance, the other party didn't, she abandoned the effort, and she has gone on to a successful career phoning in bomb threats.
The next town over is Dunstable, as Nashua itself was briefly, and there are no fewer than twenty roads with Dunstable in their name, including Main Dunstable Road, Middle Dunstable Road, and Funky Dunstable Road. The suburban housing in this area serves as a buffer between downtown and the real world.
Luxury condos exist near the Merrimack River. If you are shopping for one, follow the signs carefully; the outrageous detour will keep you from seeing Canal Street, the Spanish-language signage, the bars representing every Latin nationality, and the envio de dinero offices that all nationalities may use. You'll get to know them well when you take the direct route on your daily commute.
edit Water sports
In a region of the world where ground water has a faint taste of rust, the taste of tap water in Nashua instead varies between muck and bleach, depending on the chef on duty. The scenic Pennichuck River north of town, and the very scenic Cyclone fences that protect it from thousands of vacationing Massholes with poor hygiene, are the city's water supply. In 2010, the City condemned and acquired the Pennichuck Water Works. This move replaced a single unresponsive system, to which citizens are unavoidably linked by underground pipes, with the same thing run by bureaucrats.
The other activities of City Council include wrestling with the reasons that people are not flocking downtown to pay the parking meters to view vacant storefronts.
The key initiative during the term of Mayor Donnalee Lozeau was to put additional planters on the sidewalks. However, the City Council voted that it was too hard to get there, and condemned dozens of properties to replace scenic frontage on the Nashua River with an even more scenic four-lane Broad Street Connector and a new river crossing (which anywhere else would be known as a "bridge"). Rev Two scaled back the plan to two lanes, renamed the Broad Street Alley. The City Council repackaged slivers of the seized land for resale to interested parties.
The current mayor is Jim Donchess, whose campaign slogan was, We don' need no stinkin' "key initiatives."
edit What to do in Nashua
Minor League Baseball was played in Nashua for years, but the 2009 season ended early when the mayor placed a front-end loader on home plate in lieu of a ninth notice to pay the rent.
So there is now nothing to do. Residents are expected to have a basement with Internet and video games and spend the evenings there, if not the entire day. The chief amusements in town are (1) complaining to the City that the government should provide amusements, and (2) whining on blogs that 12 years was too long to wait for that crummy ball club and its sweetheart rent deal to finally go out of business.
Of course, you can always go to the mall and watch the chicks; or park at the end of the runway and watch the planes land.
- ↑ No, these are actually former take-out joints, not to forget the Mexican seafood place, "El Poseidon."