Update: Someone bought that shack on a rock in the ocean.


Update: Someone bought that shack on a rock in the ocean.
1 bed, -- baths, 540 Square Feet. Photo: Zillow.

The Sea Welcomes Its New Neighbor

BACK IN SEPTEMBER of 2021, Indignity gazed with terror at a real estate listing for a tiny house on a correspondingly tiny bare rock in the ocean off the coast of Maine (Indignity Vol. 1, No. 15: An island Is a "No, man!"). The property offered, the item noted, "inimitable treeless views of nature: staring straight into nature's unbroken, wind-whipped, annihilating indifference."

Well: someone bought it! The New York Times real estate section rode out with the new owner on a boat—someone else's boat, because the new owner does not have a boat of her own with which to get to and from from her entirely sea-surrounded new home—to have a look at the property, Duck Ledges, and tell the story of how she got there.

As with our coverage of the cruelty of orcas and their forays into attacking ships, Indignity was far out ahead of the pack in keeping you, our readers, properly informed about maritime horrors. According to the Times, the desolate real estate listing became an internet sensation in 2022, a year after we shared it with you, thanks to the seller, a local named Billy Milliken, advertising that any would-be buyer would need to spend a night on the property before making an offer. Stephen King, in his joint capacities as expert on Maine and expert on fear, tweeted about the stipulation.

Among the people who were willing to try it, the Times reported, was Charlotte Gale, an out-of-work massage therapist from New Jersey who had given up her house under the economic strain of the pandemic and who was seeking "a simple cottage with space for a garden." Instead, she bought a shack on a rock.

Can anyone really live like that? The Times' account of Gale's first trip to the island, as told by her real estate agent, Christine Crowley, was maybe more instructive than Crowley meant it to be:

When Ms. Gale got to the one-and-a-half-acre island, she took in her surroundings — the cedar-clad cabin standing there improbably yet invitingly; the flat rock ledges where seals sunbathe; the little sandy beaches and tide pools. It was a summer day with clear blue skies — “the most perfect top 10 day,” as Ms. Gale would later say.

She was not on the island 10 minutes before she pulled out her phone.

“As soon as Billy and his friend dropped her off, Charlotte called me almost immediately,” Ms. Crowley, who had stayed on shore, recalled. “She said, ‘I want it. I’ve got to have it.’”

Ten minutes on the island is substantially shorter than overnight on the island. Despite Milliken's intention, as he told the Times, "for the buyer to make a fully-formed decision," it was still the idea of the island, not the reality of the island, that drove the sale. The story repeatedly used the verb "visit," rather than "live"; Milliken himself, the Times reported, was parting with the property because he "didn’t use it as much as in years past," and he had bought "another island in the area, where he planned to build a proper house with running water designed by an architect."

As far as actual dwelling goes, the story reported that Gale has been living since April in a rented home on the mainland. Her attempt at planting a garden on Duck Ledges "rotted—too much moisture," but she brought in "three antique cast-iron garden urns, each painted white and so heavy that a large boat and a crew of men had to be hired to get them onto the island."

"Her longest stay alone on the island," the Times reported, "has been four consecutive nights; she routinely stays overnight." Gale is advertising Duck Ledges to visitors for "around $250 per night," so that those people, too, can sort of, but not really, experience what it's like to live on a rock at sea.

Come winter, the Times wrote, Gale plans to rent a house on the Jersey Shore.

If you're shopping for a lonesome island home of your own now, the pickings in the Northeast seem slim. I cruised around the Zillow map from the St. Lawrence Seaway to Long Island Sound and came up almost empty. There was one dot way out at sea, listed for $949,000, 12 nautical miles (or 14 regular miles) off the coast of Maine on the island of Monhegan, but Monhegan turns out to be downright urban, by island standards, so the house is on an 0.45 acre lot, sharing the island with some 45 other households.

Or, for a listed $1.2 million, you could buy one of the six houses in a co-op on High Island, among the granite bedrock Thimble Islands off the coast of Connecticut, a charming and complicated archipelago formerly visited by Captain William Kidd and, later on, legend has it, Liberace. A one-house island among the Thimbles, Prudden Island, was for sale last summer, but the listing came down with no closing price reported. Get in a sea kayak and ask around!

Erik Kratz #31 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws out a New York Mets batter in the third inning at Citi Field on August 27, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

FOR AIR MAIL, I reviewed The Tao of the Backup Catcher, by Tim Brown with Erik Kratz, an account of the tribulations and joys and more tribulations of second-string catchers in general and the highly itinerant and late-blooming Kratz—who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Toronto Blue Jays, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, New York Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, and Tampa Bay Rays—in particular:

[T]hey need to be vocal cheerleaders and motivators for the more stably employed, better-paid players around them—“a security blanket,” as Theo Epstein, the championship-winning Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs executive, tells Brown—without ever allowing their own anxieties and frustrations to surface. “That’s the guy, that’s the spot, that’s supposed to be worrying about everyone else,” Epstein says. “We’re not supposed to be worrying about him.”

The players who can live with the game on these terms are the ones who have, Brown writes, “the emotional or competitive capacity to accept something slightly less than the whole dream.” A middle-aged mood hangs over the book, an extended meditation on the way that hopes and opportunities yield to obligations.

New York City, July 30, 2023

★★★★★ The cat watched a house sparrow, backlit by the early sun, preen itself on the landing of the fire stairs. Then she glared at the rings of light coming off the battered old tea mug. A load of people in runners' bibs spilled out of the subway, heading toward the Park. The coolness of the morning had not reached the still-stifling depths of the downtown platform. Up aboveground in the 70s, though, the breeze blowing along the cross street was crisp and nothing short of autumnal. The clouds were immaculate white. Back home, fresh drafts came in the windows. It was almost panic-inducing how fine everything was, after so much unbroken foul heat. The shards of a demolished squirt gun lay on the basketball court like confetti. The greens of the trees looked deeper against the deep blue of the sky; every shot looked like a winner.


Indignity Morning Podcast No. 118: Bad and crappily made.

Tom Scocca • Jul 31, 2023

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WE PRESENT INSTRUCTIONS for the assembly of select sandwiches from "Dame Curtsey's" Book of Recipes, by Ellye Howell Glover, Author of “Dame Curtsey’s” Book of Novel Entertainments, etc. Published in 1909, this book is in the Public Domain and available at archive.org for the delectation of all.

Anchovy Cheese Sandwiches
TO one cottage cheese add two teaspoonfuls of anchovy essence, one teaspoonful of paprika, and two tablespoonfuls of chopped parsley. Spread between slices of entire wheat bread.

Almond Sandwiches
THE proportion for the filling is one part chopped almonds to two parts shredded or grated salted celery moistened with mayonnaise and spread between thin slices of brown bread.

If you decide to prepare and attempt to enjoy a sandwich inspired by this offering, kindly send a picture to us at indignity@indignity.net.


19 FOLKTALES collects a series of timeless tales of canny animals, foolish people, monsters, magic, ambition, adventure, glory, failure, inexorable death, and ripe fruits and vegetables. Written by Tom Scocca and richly illustrated by Jim Cooke, these fables stand at the crossroads of wisdom and absurdity.

HMM WEEKLY MINI-ZINE, Subject: GAME SHOW, Joe MacLeod’s account of his Total Experience of a Journey Into Television, expanded from the original published account found here at Hmm Daily. The special MINI ZINE features other viewpoints related to an appearance on, at, and inside the teevee game show Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Your $20 plus shipping and tax helps fund The Brick House collective, a Publishing Concern featuring a globally diverse set of publishers doing their own thing, with interesting items and publications available for purchase at SHOPULA.

Thanks for reading INDIGNITY, a general-interest publication for a discerning and self-selected audience. We depend on your support!