How a Maine lobsterman could change the face of reality TV

"Cap" Weimer on his boat in 2012.

“Cap” on his boat in 2012.

This past Saturday morning I read Bangor Daily News contributor TIm Cox‘s article, which announced an open casting call for a new reality show planned by media mogul Al Roker. Mr. Roker wants to create a show that features current Maine lobstermen and he’s asking for emails from guys like me to make our pitches to get cast in the series.

I figure it’s a long shot, but I spent the morning typing out a pitch to send in. In the process I’d say I put together a pretty strong case, but I doubt anything will come of it. Either way I think the email that I wrote might be amusing for readers, so here it is-

Mr. Roker,

A little about myself– My name is Chris, I’m 30 years old and I’ve lived in Portland, Maine my entire life. After toiling away at low paying labor and service jobs for most of my 20’s, I started working for Bart “Cap” Weimer, a 70 year old lifelong lobsterman, on his lobster boat out of Portland Harbor. Ever since then my life has continuously improved for the better. I’ve grown immensely as a person working on the water with Cap. Meeting him truly changed my life in many ways.
Now for a bit about Cap and his family– Cap is the most hilarious person I’ve ever known, he’s well regarded among the Portland fishing community as a complete character. He’s got a wild past. He worked as a merchant marine when he was young and had all kinds of raunchy adventures with his shipmates all around the globe.

When he moved back to Portland following his service he married and had two kids by the age of 30. Then, after amassing a small fortune from lobstering, he went through a brutal divorce with his wife. She got the house and a new boyfriend, he shacked up in a motel for over a year and spent his time either lobstering or drinking. When he got back on his feet a few years later he re-married and had three more kids.

Now a legendary old-timer on the waterfront, he’s become a religious man (sort of). He reads the Bible avidly, routinely attends new churches to get a better understanding for the different religions and denominations, and he even goes to a synagogue (which he refers to as “the Jewish church”) every now and then just to strengthen his grip on his spirituality, but he usually identifies as a Baptist Christian.

He’s also got the filthiest mouth of anyone I’ve ever known, and loves a good dirty joke. It always cracks me up when he goes from preaching religion one minute to telling raunchy stories the next.

He likes to tell a story of how he once got kicked out of a Bible study group for using a mild curse word, he always finishes the story with, “they kicked me out for that but then they ignore all the children dying and suffering everyday all over the world. As long as they think they’ve been good enough to get into heaven then they haven’t got another care in the world.”

When it comes to politics, he identifies as a conservative, and he goes off on me every now and then for my liberal viewpoints. But one day he slipped up and told me he had actually been a registered Democrat for a while, “after Bush gave that huge tax cut to the rich I drove right down to Town Hall and changed parties.”

Some of the conversations that we have about religious, social, and political issues would absolutely have viewers on the edge of their seats in hysterics. They would also, at times, be quite moved by the depth of our dialogue and the thoughtfulness and compassion that he displays every day instinctively, without even thinking about it.

A great way to gain some understanding for what I’m talking about would be to read a blog entry of mine called “When Rot Leads to Growth“.

Cap’s got a bunch of grand kids who absolutely adore him. He almost always tries to put up a real tough exterior, but anytime he’s around them he’s like putty in their little hands.

His youngest son, Tim, in his early 30’s, is one of the most successful lobstermen in the region. Tim always looks grumpy, and he’s known for being a real difficult guy to stern for, but he’s about as hard of a worker as you could find and his stern men always make really good money all year round.

His second son from his first marriage, Adam, in his early 40’s, recently moved back to the Portland area from Georgia with his wife and four young daughters to start a new church which he is the minister of, and in the process decided to buy a lobster boat to work on the water part time. Adam is always smiling, he loves to give his dad a hard time and he has a very positive, spiritual outlook on life.

Cap’s brother’s son, his nephew Al Junior, in his late 20’s, is a friend of mine who played high school football with me. He’s the one that helped get me the job with Cap a few years ago, and he has his own boat as well. Al Junior is known as a fun loving goofball. He likes to joke around and enjoy himself while he works.

Al Junior and Cap have the same twisted, sick, ironic sense of humor. Cap sometimes likes to joke with him, “you know you’re secretly my sixth kid, don’t tell your mother I told you,” he’ll say cackling. To which Al Junior will reply, “don’t think that means I’m gonna help take care of you when you lose your marbles in a couple years.”

Tim, Adam, and Al all tie their boats up alongside Cap at Guild Wharf, Portland’s oldest wharf, and we all fish the same waters in Casco Bay.

Also fishing the same waters are Cap’s three other nephews, all brothers, and their father, Wallace, married to one of Cap’s sisters. The four of them all tie their boats up a few wharves down from us on the waterfront.

Josh, in his late 20’s, is the youngest. He’s known as the carefree party animal. He takes jobs all over the place, oftentimes shipping off to Alaska for work, but primarily focuses on lobstering in Casco Bay. He gets a lot of girlfriends and is known around the water as a bit of a playboy.

Matthew, in his early 30’s, is the one that no one likes. He’s constantly ticking people off by ignoring the etiquette that lobstermen are suppose to abide by, and he really doesn’t care. He likes to yell and bully and make as much money as he can as quickly as possible.

Owen, in his mid 30’s, is the oldest. He’s a real personable guy, loves to tell a good story or a funny joke, but man can he work. He really seems to have a grasp on how to balance hard work with a positive attitude.

Then there’s Wallace, Cap’s brother-in-law. Wallace doesn’t say a whole lot, but from what I can tell he’s a good man, good father, and good guy to work for. He’s seems to operate on a strong moral compass, and even after all the years of knowing Cap, I still don’t think he quite knows what to make of him.

Well he might be a hard guy to understand, but if given the chance, old Cappy boy could really be a star- not just one that would be funny or amusing, but one that would inspire and enlighten.

Everywhere he goes around town, someone’s bound to know him. Anytime he takes me anywhere as soon as we walk through the door it’s “hey Cappy! How they crawlin’?” He’s a bit of a local celebrity, and not because he’s a lobsterman, but because he’s just such an entertaining, engaging guy.

If given the chance, all the characters described could combine to form a cast funnier, more amusing and thought provoking than any other reality show out there.

Not that outdoing shows like Duck Dynasty or The Kardashians is anything to hang your Grundens on.

Thanks for your time,
Chris Shorr

Note: all character names, other than the author’s, have been altered.

Chris Shorr

About Chris Shorr

Chris is a sixth generation Portlander who loves all things Maine. He has worked with mentally ill and marginalized adults at a Portland non-profit, on a lobster boat in Casco Bay, at several high-end Portland restaurants, and at a local meat packing plant. He also ran for Portland City Council in 2013, wrote a weekly column in the now defunct Portland Daily Sun, and currently writes a weekly column in The Portland Phoenix.