Mayor: I didn’t know whether to bring ‘boxing gloves or bourbon’ to meeting with city manager

“Just die already.”

No, that’s not a quote from tonight’s City Council meeting meant to air the grievances between Mayor Ethan Strimling and City Manager Jon Jennings. More on that in a little bit. Keep reading.

No, that’s actually the message a team of researchers delivered to aging and ailing cells in a group of test mice, and by doing so, they seemed to actually reverse the aging process.

(I assume Mickey Mouse, who turns 90 next year, was in the test group somewhere.)

The quick synopsis is this: The body’s cells die off and are replaced by new, healthy cells over time. As the body ages, the cells that probably should be dying off to make way for new cells start hanging on longer than they should. In the mice, researchers introduced a compound which manipulates the proteins in such a way that the dying cells kick off, and the new cells pop up to take their place.

As Discover magazine reported this past spring, “The results were fairly clear: After 10 days, the rapidly aging mice regrew fur; at three weeks they performed better on tests of physical fitness; and after a month they began to show signs of improved kidney performance.”

Now let’s get through some of the top stories for the day so I can go kill off some cells.

What we’re talking about

The historic Casco Bay island property which at one point was a holding spot for quarantined immigrants is being proposed as the site for a luxury campground. Developers Stefan Scarks and Travis Bullard are seeking the local Historic Preservation Board’s approval for a 21-site campground of yurts and tents, as well as three permanent central buildings, near House Island’s Fort Scammel.   

Can you imagine taking music lessons from someone with snakes literally up his sleeves? In the 1800s, English composer and one-hit-wonder Frederick Nicholls Crouch moved to Portland and swaggered around the city like he was a big deal. Quite noticeably to the locals at the time, he was infatuated with snakes, had them hanging out of his pockets and sleeves, and had hundreds slithering around in the space where he gave lessons. The BDN’s Troy R. Bennett has the tale in his weekly series on Portland history.

Portland is seeing a mini-boom in residential subdivision proposals as developers continue trying to keep up with housing demand, according to the Portland Press Herald. Three separate projects aim to add a total of 100-plus new single family homes outside of the city downtown, which stand in contrast to the explosion of urban apartments and condominiums that have been added in recent years, the Press Herald reported.

Gov. Paul LePage is rallying his supporters against his former ally U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. Collins has been one of few Republicans willing to break ranks with the GOP and oppose recent efforts to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and LePage is reportedly telling local supporters he’ll campaign against her if she runs for governor next year. Which she has not said she’ll do.

This week, in celebrity sightings, we see some social media chatter that actress Liv Tyler, daughter of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, was dining at Scales restaurant on Commercial Street. Liv Tyler has ties to the area, having attended Waynflete School in Portland. I once saw her at a concert by the band Seether at The Asylum — now Aura — back around 2002.

Last, but certainly not least, the BDN’s Jake Bleiberg went to tonight’s Clearing Of The Air meeting between Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling and City Manager Jon Jennings, as well as the rest of the City Council. “I couldn’t decide whether to bring my boxing gloves or a bottle of bourbon,” Strimling said at the meeting. The two city leaders have tussled over policy priorities and a vision for the city moving forward. Strimling reiterated tonight that he feels Jennings is obstructing his access to city staff, which the mayor needs to help flesh out new policy proposals. Jennings accused Strimling of having an “aggressive demeanor” and not respecting the already heavy workloads of city staff.

Tweet of the day

From Jake, setting the scene outside City Hall at the aforementioned meeting:

The Big Idea

Remember last week when I wrote in the newsletter about how robot vacuum cleaners are mapping your homes? Oh, no big deal, but machines developed their own language, too. Researchers had to shut down an artificial intelligence system after they discovered bots in the system had developed their own code words to communicate and were no longer using English. Where was this research going on? Why, Facebook, of course. No, I’m not worried at all that computers have created a secret language. Or that they were working for the company that knows more about all of us than any other company on Earth. Nope. Not worried at all.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email us at or, or tweet @JZBleiberg or @SethKoenig.

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