Remembering the Portlander who ‘rewrote the history of psychoanalysis’

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Here’s the news.

What we’re talking about

Today I wanted to feature this Bollard story from 2012 about a Portlander named John Kerr whose research into the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung ended up becoming a major motion picture.

John Kerr (The Bollard)

John Kerr (The Bollard)

It’s an interesting story, which sadly made the rounds again on social media Monday when friends shared the news that Kerr had died that day.

A friend, 71-year-old John Muldoon, who knew Kerr for 20 years, was at the hospital just before the author and actor died. He told me today that Kerr had been battling various health problems. But he was still “holding forth” and telling stories to a steady stream of hospital visitors the weekend before his death.

Here’s what Bollard writer Carl Currie wrote about Kerr back in August of 2012:

When he’s not editing psychoanalytic manuscripts in his Brackett Street apartment, you can often find John Kerr at Ruski’s, the West End watering hole where I work. That’s how I met this unassuming man of about 60. A transplant from Brooklyn who moved to the neighborhood in the late ’90s, Kerr is quick-witted and gracious company. He has welcoming Irish features and a seemingly endless supply of stories, most dating back to his days in New York. Kerr has so many stories that you could know him for quite some time before hearing the one about how he spent eight years reconstructing the scandalous circumstances that led to an infamous feud between Carl Jung and his mentor, Sigmund Freud.

Read the full story here.


Ships that refuel in Casco Bay don’t use this precaution against oil spills — Jake Bleiberg and Darren Fishell dug into a practice that some people say could put Casco Bay at risk:

Ship-to-ship fuel transfers are normal but, presently, infrequent events in the waters of Casco Bay. But what bothers [some] is that these at-sea refueling stops generally occur without the use of floating barriers meant to block the spread of oil in the case of a spill.

It is standard practice to set up one of these containment devices, known as a boom, when fueling a ship moored in a berth. But Maine law does not require their use when vessels are refueling in open water. …

State officials say this is a regulatory tradeoff that balances the low probability of a spill against the high cost and difficulty of setting up a boom around anchored ships. But some water watchers, oil professionals and lawmakers argue that transferring oil in open water without the insurance of a containment device is an unnecessary and unacceptable risk.

Mike Herz, a Maine resident who served 20 years as the San Francisco baykeeper and worked on the Alaska Oil Spill Commission after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, emphasized the damage done by an oil spill and said booms serve as important protections against human error.

“I spent a lot of time paying attention to oil spills and the threat of oil spills and responding to incidents that occurred,” Herz said. “When you are moving large quantities of oil product under high pressure and you have a human making the decision about how to start and stop the flow of oil, there’s the threat of spills.”

Read the full story here.

A Portland actress makes a cameo in this transgender rights ad set to air at the RNC — Troy R. Bennett writes: “The one-minute commercial, released July 10 on YouTube, shows real-life transgender woman Alaina Kupec being denied access to the women’s restroom by a staff person at a restaurant. [Portland actress Jenny] Anastasoff plays a sympathetic character greeting Kupec and inviting her into the restroom.”

The former owners of Paul’s Food Center bought a new place — The Trusiani family closed on a two-building strip mall with various tenants, including a funeral home and Impawsible Impressions Dog Salon.

“We have a wonderful Chinese food restaurant that we greatly enjoy, a yoga studio, mortgage broker, hair salon, nail salon, model train store, Casco Bay Home Care, which provides services for people requiring care in their homes — it’s a wide-ranging group of people serving the community,” Paul “Buzzy” Trusiani told MaineBiz.

Portland’s legal age to buy tobacco goes up tomorrowThe city issued a statement Tuesday instructing local businesses to “cease sales of all tobacco products to persons under the age of 21 and post a notice notifying customers of the prohibition,” putting into effect an ordinance passed unanimously by the City Council in June.

Big ideas

‘What Science Says To Do If Your Loved One Has An Opioid Addiction’ — Author Maia Szalavitz lays out in FiveThirtyEight what the research says about how to best address the problem. She should know. She battled heroin and cocaine addictions herself. She writes: “[F]amilies are often given guidance that bears no resemblance to what the research evidence shows — and patients are commonly subjected to treatment that is known to do harm. People who are treated as experts firmly proclaim that they know what they are doing, but often turn out to base their care entirely on their own personal and clinical experience, not data.”

Here’s today’s full statement from organizers of Friday’s Black Lives Matter protest — The statement was posted on the Portland Racial Congress Facebook page. Here it is in full:

We are proud to have peacefully joined thousands of people around the country and world who have taken to the streets in recent weeks to call attention to the national emergency of police killings, and vigilante violence against black people, following the state-sanctioned murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We joined at least 70 other demonstrations and disruptive actions nationwide, from Baton Rouge to Minneapolis to New York. People have blocked highways, marched in the streets, and held silent vigils uniting around one key principle: Black Lives Matter.

Civil disobedience has a rich history in the United States, and we hope that our direct action offers an opportunity for those who feel challenged—those who felt inconvenienced—to learn about this history. Direct action, disruptive methodology, and protest are all integral to our democracy. Because we are aware that extrajudicial killings of black people are still prevalent, and normalized in our society to this day, we are proud to have peacefully followed in the footsteps of ancestors and elders in leadership roles within the Black Freedom struggle—who have blocked highways and roads, withstood police and white supremacist beatings, and sat-in at segregated counters in the ongoing struggle to drive out the scourge of racism in the United States.

We refuse to beg for a community that cares about our lives and fights for our collective safety. We demand it.

Our justifications for our action this past Friday are implicit in the responses to it. We have heard more outcry over the Old Port detours around high-end boutiques or ice cream shops than we have over the senseless acts of violence and spilled blood drying on streets in neighborhoods nationwide.

We have heard police, public officials, and news outlets rationalize that a white agitator was justified in putting our lives at risk by getting into his jeep and driving into a line of people standing peacefully with their hands clasped together, when he had the option of turning left where there was no obstruction.

We urge you to look at what your privileges allow you to pay attention to. To all those who can easily shout “Blue Lives Matter” or “All lives Matter” we ask that you do the work needed to unpack for yourselves why those statements are exclaimed with such pride, whilst reminders that Black Lives Matter elicit such immediate anger and dismissal.

We stand firm in our decision to disrupt “business as usual” during one of the busiest nights of the fiscal year, because we believe that police killings of black people constitute a national epidemic.

We remember our black siblings lost to these killings: Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Mike Brown, and so many others.

We refuse to yield to those who are invested in derailing conversations about accountability. We refuse to yield to those invested in controlling the narrative when black people are articulating their lived experiences. We will continue to stand for what is just and what is right.

We are proud to have created public space for black mourning and anger, in a world where our voices are censored, silenced and shouted over.

Ultimately, our freedom is bound together. For those willfully choosing not to pay attention to our linked humanity, we are seeking creative ways to urge you to listen.


Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.