Sunday, June 30, 2013

Provincetown's 2013 Portuguese Festival is a Big Hit Despite a Bit of Rain

Giant puppets loom above the heads
of the crowds gathering for the parade
on Commercial Street.
Provincetown's 2013 Portuguese Festival is underway, and a roaring success, as usual, despite threatening weather. I've met people from far and wide who have come for this wonderful annual event; some of them are participating as members of marching bands, comedy troupes, or musical groups performing on stage at Portuguese Square on Ryder Street or under the big tent that takes up most of the little park in front of the Bas Relief plaque on Bradford Street, across from Town Hall. Many are here with Portuguese dance troupes that come every year from all over the New England area and beyond to perform on the streets and in the festival parade, held yesterday afternoon on Commercial Street despite looming rain clouds.
Thousands of others come to enjoy these events along with all the Portuguese food, parties, entertainment, kids events, and other festivities to be found all over town during the festival, which continues through this evening. There are still many events to be enjoyed today, including food and entertainment in various spots around the town. Click here for Portuguese Festival schedule.

Young Portuguese dancers perform in a few drops of rain.
Dancers perform at Portuguese Square, even with occasional rain drops, and a large crowd of spectators gathers as several groups perform on the street.
As the rain tapered off, people took their places all along Commercial Street to watch the parade, with the sun breaking through the clouds shortly before the parade reached the center of town, with dancers and bands performing near Town Hall and in other spots all along the parade route.
The rooster is a Portuguese symbol, found in the parade.
Todays events will include the Fishermen's Mass, the procession to the pier, and the 66th Blessing of the Fleet. Food will be found on the pier, there will be a band concert, and there are many other events to enjoy throughout the day. Click the link above to find the schedule or stop by the festival information booth at the corner of Ryder and Commercial Streets. Look for a bright yellow little structure decorated with a little red and green, and Portuguese flags. Buy souvenir T-shirts there to support the festival.
Folks from Connecticut enjoy some Portuguese food.
These folks didn't know they were arriving right in the middle of Provincetown's annual Portuguese Festival. They are from New Haven, Connecticut, and just happened into town on a visit to the tip of Cape Cod.
They found the food tent, and enjoyed a meal of  Chouriço, porco, and Portuguese rice. Be sure and wander down to the pier yourself today and enjoy the Blessing of the Fleet, dancers in costume, music, and of course, wonderful Portuguese food. Visit the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum for a special exhibit on the  Provincetown fishing fleet of days gone by. There's a band concert at Town Hall at 4 PM and many other events, and nearly every event is free.
Happy Portuguese Festival!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Spontaneous Celebrations Break Out in PTown as DOMA Discrimination is Ended

Impromptu celebrations of the DOMA ruling and the Proposition 8 decision took place at the
HRC store at the Aquarium Marketplace and all around the town several times over the day.
I happened to be passing the Aquarium Marketplace a few minutes after !0 o'clock yesterday morning, and from 50 feet down the block I heard a sudden eruption of cheers from a small crowd that had come together outside the doorway of the Human Rights Campaign shop. As I got closer I could see many folks jumping up and down, others shouting and whistling, and many who were waving cell phones, iPads and numerous other electronic devices in the air as they cheered, shouted with joy and hugged each other. The US Supreme Court had just announced its 5-4 decision in the case of United States v. Windsor, ruling that the provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied federal benefits to same sex couples who were legally married in their own states was unconstitutional.
By a single vote the justices had found that this provision of the 17-year-old DOMA legislation unfairly denied same sex couples more than 1000 rights and federal benefits that marriage gives to heterosexual couples. The court's majority opinion held that denying these rights to a specific group of citizens created a different class of marriage that was not equal to other marriages where these rights were recognized. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had famously referred to "... these skim milk marriages" in March as the court considered arguments to decide whether it would hear the case. At the same time, the Obama administration had announced that it would not defend DOMA, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
The DOMA ruling means that all married couples are now entitled to federal benefits relating to inheritance taxes, filing joint tax returns, claiming Social Security and veterans benefits, and a thousand other rights, as well as responsibilities, conferred on more than 72,000 legally married same-sex couples across the country. This ruling also helps to stabilize the families of these couples, who now can claim standing equal to other families under federal law.
The court also announced its decision on Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that had banned same-sex marriage in that state in 2008, not long after the state's supreme court had legalized it. Supporters of same sex-marriage then argued that such a ban was unconstitutional, and federal courts in California agreed. Then supporters of the ban asked the US Supreme court to uphold the ban, citing constitutional issues relating to rights of the state, but yesterday the US Supreme Court announced that it would decline to address those issues, stating that it lacked the jurisdiction to decide the case because those who had brought the case to the court lacked the proper standing, so the California court's ruling will stand, and same-sex marriage will once again be legal in California. Such marriages could take place there once again within a month. Current laws in other states remain unchanged.
Spontaneous celebrations of these two court decisions were found throughout the day as a group gathered in Town Hall, people on Commercial Street were jubilant, and the bell rang constantly for several minutes in the tower of the U U Meeting House, where a group had joyfully gathered on the lawn in front of the church.
In 2003 Massachusetts was the first state in the US to legalize marriage between same-sex couples. Since that time thousands of gay men and lesbians have come to PTown to get married. Statistics for this June won't be totaled until the end of the month, but by the last day of May, 3,455 same-sex couples had been married here. When California once again grants equal marriage rights, there will be 13 states, as well as the District of Columbia, where marriage equality thrives in this country. Married couples in these municipalities will all now be entitled to the same treatment under federal regulations, regardless of the genders of each couple, as will couples eventually marrying in other states that legalize same-sex marriages in the future. These two decisions by the court bring the United States a couple of steps closer to true equality for lesbian and gay people all over the country.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blondie's "Settles In" at the Art House

Blondie's bacon cheeseburger hits the spot.
This spring Blondie's Burgers moved across the street and a few doors west to the Art House, at 214 Commercial Street. All your favorites are still available, like the deep-fried corn on the cob, one of my favorites, and the mac & cheese balls. There's a chili dog and others, sandwiches like shaved steak, chicken, a veggie burger and many other choices on a fairly large menu.
One of my favorites at Blondie's is the Brunette Bliss. That's portabello mushroom, roasted red peppers, sautéed onions, and feta cheese.
They make onion rings and hand-cut fries, as well as shakes, slushies and root beer floats, and there's a gigantic cookie to top off your meal. Bogey's Bar is now open here, too, so you can get beer, wine and cocktails along with your food. There's also a new patio so now you can sit indoors or out. Of course, Blondie's does takeout as well.
The other night, after a late movie shown in the fabulous Provincetown International Film Festival, I needed something to eat before I headed home. It was nearly midnight on a weeknight, but Blondie's was staying open to accommodate late night cinephiles. I had the bacon cheeseburger, with cheddar between two grilled beef patties, lettuce, tomato, pickle (bacon, of course) and some chopped onion. Tasty, juicy and piled high on a soft, very fresh bun.
Right now Blondie's is open daily from 11 AM till 11 PM, and till 2 AM on weekends. The summer will likely bring longer weeknight hours. The service here is really excellent, and genuinely friendly. You can call ahead at 508 487-0568 for orders to go.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Ptown Groove Brings a Beat to the Street

The other day as a couple of musicians began creating a beat in front of Town Hall, a spontaneous performance broke out as people walking by stopped to join in, either by picking up an instrument, or singing, or moving with the rhythm, and pedestrians began dancing their way down the street. Roxanne Layton and Sylvie Richard have formed Ptown Goove, a percussion ensemble that's bringing a beat to the street. They will be found this summer creating a little rhythm along Commercial Street, and perhaps in a few other spots as well.
A man begins break-dancing as Cheryl Aruda (in white) sings, and
Roxanne Layton (seated on her drum) and Sylvie Richard create the rhythm.
When I mentioned that I wished I had a video camera with me, Roxanne handed me her cell phone and I began shooting a little video as she and Sylvie got a beat going with their two drums. And then a remarkable thing happened... Cheryl Aruda (bluesy vocalist extraordinaire from the Dirty Blonde band) was walking by, and broke out into a soulful rendition of Fever, the Peggy Lee hit from the 1950s. Then a young man stepped up and began breaking to the beat. Click to Watch Ptown Groove on Commercial Street, and the others who joined in with them in this serendipitous street performance. Ya gotta love a town like this!
Roxanne Layton, seated, plays her cajon
while Sylvie Richard plays her djembe.
Later, a woman walking down Commercial Street grabbed a pair of rhythm sticks from Roxanne's drum bag and began adding another layer of percussion to the mix. She was soon followed by local street performer Billy Striani (a wonderful singer and guitarist) who grabbed a pair of rainbow flags and began swirling and twirling them behind the drummers as they laid down the rhythm.
Another day, in the photo to the left, Roxanne is again seated on her cajon, a large box drum hailing from Peru, with wooden walls, each of different thicknesses, making different sounds when struck with the hands. Inside the drum, a snare (a series of long, wiry fingers, like those inside a snare drum) has been attached, so it vibrates against one side of the box when it is struck, creating another kind of sound.
Sylvie plays the djembe, a West African goblet drum capable of a wide variety of sounds. In the Bambara language, spoken in three West African countries, "djembe" translates to "gather together in peace" and defines the purpose of this drum.
Watch for Ptown Groove to appear in front of Town Hall and in spots around town as they perform on our streets, and if you're so inclined, join them in creating that groove, and a bit of marvelous entertainment on the streets of Provincetown.

Friday, June 21, 2013

PTown's New West End Restaurant - Devon's Deep Sea Dive

Devon's roasted oyster appetizer is terrific.
Devon Ruesch has opened a new Provincetown restaurant where the old Tip for Tops'n used to be, at 31 Bradford Street. I went for dinner shortly after the opening night of Devon's Deep Sea Dive and found that some of the homey charm of the old neighborhood restaurant still exists amid the sleek new table tops and chairs and the new floor and paint job that bring this restaurant out of the 1960s. The old ship's wheels still divide the dining area, and a variety of stuffed fish mounted high on the walls still ring the room, recalling a bit of the funky charm of the former dive that had occupied this space since the Carreiro family began running it in 1966. The neighborhood will miss the old restaurant and it's Portuguese staples, but Devon's Deep Sea Dive brings a bit of creativity and some really good seafood to this part of town, and soon it will also become a beloved little neighborhood eatery.
Stuffed scallops, broccolini and delicious crimini rice.
The menu is divided down the middle with one side offering "old school" appetizers and entrées such as a lobster bisque, clam fritters, a Portuguese seafood stew, and whole fried clams served with fries and house slaw. The "new school" side of the menu lists appetizers like the guanciale wrapped shrimp and a massaged kale salad, along with entrées like olive oil poached cod and a Caribbean fish stew. I ordered from both sides.
I had the roasted Wellfleet oysters, pictured at the top of the page, made with crumbled bacon and pickled ramps, a member of the onion family, somewhere between a wild spring onion and a baby leek. The oysters were served atop a spinach nage, delicately poached in a flavorful broth. This course ranks as one of the best dishes I had tasted anywhere in Provincetown during the week.
For my entrée I went old school, with the stuffed scallops. A good-sized ramekin was filled with big, tender scallops and a seafood stuffing made with shrimp, perfectly cooked and seasoned. It was served with broccolini and a delightful crimini rice, nicely flavored with fresh crimini mushrooms and finished in a frying pan, giving it a flavor and texture I've been craving ever since I tasted it.
Devon's Sundae is one of several dessert choices.
For dessert I had Devon's Sundae, made with Tahitian vanilla gelato and a drizzle of hot fudge and caramel sauce (it could have used a smidge more of the hot fudge and caramel) and garnished with whipped cream and a tasty bit of salted nut brittle. All in all, quite a satisfying meal.
The menu is a little pricey, but the food is really quite good, made with impeccable ingredients. All meats are organic and free range, seafood is wild-caught and sourced as near our harbor as possible. Service was good, which is not always the case in a brand new restaurant, and you aren't likely to find a more affable and gracious host than Devon. This little spot will become a Provincetown dining destination.
The Dive will be open daily except Wednesdays starting this weekend, with breakfast from 8 AM till 1 PM, and dinner from 5:30 PM till 10 PM, closed Wednesdays. There is a small parking lot on the east side of the building. For reservations call 508 487-0266.
I want to go for breakfast tomorrow. It'll be nice to have another breakfast place where your meal will undoubtedly rise to the level of the legendary breakfast that is served at the original Devon's on Commercial Street.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

This Week's Hot Ticket - The 15th Annual Provincetown International Film Festival

PTown's 15th PIFF begins today and runs thru Sunday.
Hold onto your hats... Provincetown's film fest looks even bigger and better than ever before, packing 132 films and events into these next five days. If you count all the shorts (and I certainly do; I'll be seeing at least 20 of them) there are well over 100 films to be seen before the end of the festival on Sunday night. There are panels and seminars, awards events, parties, and a number of opportunities to meet actors, producers and directors of films large and small. Many of the films will be followed by a Q & A session where the audience can ask questions of the filmmakers, producers, actors and directors.
The festival gets underway tonight with food, music, filmmakers and a fun evening at the opening party, at the Crown & Anchor at 9PM. Tonight's movies begin at 7 PM and include 16 short films, three narrative features and a documentary. Tomorrow will bring 48 films and events including a book reading and signing, breakfast with filmmakers, and special screenings of notable films returning to the screen for this occasion, such as Drugstore Cowboy, starring Matt Dillon, playing at Waters Edge Cinema inside the Whalers Wharf at 4:30 PM. Dillon will be in Provincetown to receive this year's Excellence in Acting Award at Town Hall on Saturday at 5 PM.
Call for tickets or go to box office at 247 Commercial Street.
Tomorrow's films include a tremendous variety of short films, many narrative features and documentaries, including Whoopi Goldberg's directorial debut which chronicles the racial and gender breakthroughs of legendary comic pioneer Moms Mabley, playing at Town Hall at 2 PM. Get tickets for any and all of these films and events by calling 866 811-4111, or visit the PIFF box office, located at the Crown & Anchor, at 247 Commercial Street. Festival passes are also available, providing admission to films, parties and events. Become a member of the Provincetown Film Society and get a discount on festival passes, and many other benefits. Get tickets as soon as you know what films you'd like to see because many will sell out. Be sure to be in your seat at least 5 minutes before the scheduled screening time to assure that you get a seat. Since ticket holders don't always make it to the theater, any empty seat will be sold to someone in the wait-list line, so arriving late with a ticket in hand does not guarantee you a seat. Conversely, you can sometimes get tickets to sold-out films by standing in the wait-list lines, which form at each venue 30 minutes before the film's scheduled starting time.
Every day of the festival is jam-packed with so many wonderful films and events that I couldn't possibly begin to list them all. Get the catalog and schedule at the box office, or at the old fire station just west of Town Hall, where you can also buy festival T-shirts and hats. You can also get information online, at Be sure to check this website periodically to keep up with last-minute schedule changes that commonly occur during events like this. Times or venues sometimes have to be adjusted when film prints are delayed in shipping, or other mishaps occur.
Film is a vital part of the character of PTown. See some terrific films during the festival and help to support year-round independent film at the tip of Cape Cod. Click to see John Waters talk about film in Provincetown over the last 47 years or so.
Volunteers are still needed to help us pull off this colossal 5-day event. Send an E-mail to or go to the PIFF volunteer page of the festival website if you can help, and get a free T-shirt and some great perks for volunteering.
This year's closing event will be a block party Sunday night held on Commercial Street, between Bubala's and Enzo/ Local 186, promising sights, sounds, entertainment, special guests and the very popular HBO Audience Awards. See you there!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Enjoy the Flowers of the Season in PTown

I found this stunning bed of tulips, a variety I'd never seen before, on Anthony Street.
At this time of year a walk will bring you to flowers that will be gone all too soon. As the season turns into summer some of the gorgeous flowers of the spring will begin to disappear as other varieties come into bloom. On Anthony Street I found these lovely tulips, a new variety for me. The colors and shapes of the petals are a little different from any others I've ever come across. I'm not sure how long they will bloom, so I'm definitely enjoying them while I can.
Out in the National Seashore, along Provincelands Road, and on Race Point Road, near the Provincelands Visitor Center, the Scotch broom is in bloom for only another few days or so. This seasonal plant, with its bright yellow little blossoms stretching the length of its clusters of long stems, is actually a weed, related to the pea family, and capable of growing in harsh conditions like the sandy hillsides on the edges of the dunes. In some parts considered an invasive species and a nuisance, here, it helps to hold the sand in place, keeping it from constantly blowing onto the roads, or disappearing altogether in the stiff winds that can blow through this area, making it useful as well as beautiful. It may have been brought here from its native Scotland as a means to control coastal erosion, having been noticed thriving in the rather harsh maritime conditions found "across the pond" in the British Isles.
Blossoms of Scotch broom resemble those of green peas, but a bright yellow.
Some research sources say it may have been brought over as an ornamental plant used in Victorian gardens. Other sources say it began growing in US locations by accident wherever it fell to the ground. Since it was quite springy, resilient, cheap and plentiful, it was used in shipping cases of Scotch whiskey to foreign lands, layered between the precious bottles, acting sort of like packing peanuts or bubble wrap in the middle 1800s. A lot of it sprung up in California Gold Rush towns in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, where it is often considered a nuisance these days. A lot of whiskey was transported out west to lonely miners with a few dollars to spend, and no doubt many cases found their way to Provincetown as the cargo was shipped across the Atlantic and arrived on Yankee shores.
Take a walk or a bike ride out on the trails before this plant disappears, and take a stroll on Provincetown's streets to enjoy the flowers of the season before we get into the heat of the summer and the wonders brought by that kind of weather.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Find Glorious Fresh Produce at Farmers Market and Other Local Spots

There's nothing like really fresh produce, found every Saturday, all summer
long, at Provincetown's farmers market, across Ryder Street from Town Hall.
I managed to get to the farmers market this afternoon just as all the vendors were packing up. I was after some fresh strawberries, and was lucky enough to find a couple of farmers from Dartmouth, Massachusetts, still able to get to the strawberries they had already loaded into their truck for the drive home. I got some beautiful, juicy, perfectly ripe berries, at the peak of their flavor, and probably their nutritional value as well.
They had that smooth, shiny look of impeccably fresh fruit. Really fresh strawberries look different from the ones you typically find in supermarkets. They feel different, too, and they certainly taste different from fruit that has been picked before its prime and shipped across the country.
It's no secret that a lot of supermarket produce travels hundreds or thousands of miles to get to a big warehouse somewhere, and from there it's put on another truck for another ride, maybe to a regional distributor, and perhaps yet another ride before it finally gets to the supermarket. All that travel uses a lot of fuel, creates a lot of pollution, and the food loses nutrients by the minute once it is picked, so the farther it has to travel, the more nutrients are lost, and the fewer vitamins and minerals are available for your body to use once the food finally makes it all the way to your table. A lot of it also has to be picked before it's actually ripe so it won't go bad while making its cross-country journey, or worse, traveling across international borders. A lot of fruit, for example, travels from Chile to get to American supermarkets.
A much better system is to buy food grown as close to you as possible. That way it isn't harvested before it's ripe, it doesn't use a lot of fuel for delivery, and it retains more nutrients because it gets to your table so much faster.
Purple and green beans from Lucky Field Organics, about
17 miles off the cape, have been found at our farmers market.
I found a web page for the Provincetown Farmers Market that will show you some examples of what might be found at this market week by week, and if you click around a bit on the page you can read about many small farms all over the cape and beyond. I learned about a small company in Westport, MA, that's found at our farmers market each week with a variety of cheeses from three different Massachusetts farms, as well as organic olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and chocolate products from small farms in Italy. Small farmers generally offer the best foods.
Other booths at our farmers market may offer their own jams and fruit spreads, or fresh herbs, or eggs. Fresh baked goods are often available, along with, of course, all kinds of fresh produce. It's hard to predict everything that might turn up from week to week, but at this time of year you'll likely find arugula, green beans, radishes, peas, spinach, a variety of lettuces and salad greens, and strawberries, among others.
If you don't mind traveling a bit, there's a web page to show you dozens of small Cape Cod farms where you can get fresh produce, eggs, honey, dairy products, flowers and bedding plants, herbs... you name it. There are several spots where you can "pick your own" when the crop is at its peak. Later in the season you'll be able to pick blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and many others.
From Truro to PTown, these greens traveled about 7 miles.
You can also often find fresh local produce at small neighborhood markets, like Far Land Provisions, at 150 Bradford Street. They get hydroponic mixed salad greens from Hillside Farm in Truro, so the food travels only about seven miles to get here, and it could be on your table in a day or less after it's harvested.
Did you know organic eggs are produced right here in PTown? You can get those at Far Land, too. I've found local tomatoes there, and other things as they are available. They also sell Wellfleet Sea Salt, which is an all-natural and eco-friendly product, using repurposed oyster floats in its production.
Bradford Natural Market, at 141 Bradford Street, often has locally grown tomatoes and other produce. I once got some really beautiful multicolored peppers there that were so delicious that I ate them for my lunch for a couple of days, munching them down just like you would an apple.
Try eating more ultra-fresh, local produce for a week or two, and see if your body doesn't notice the difference. See you at the farmers market every Saturday till early November, in the little parking lot across Ryder Street from Town Hall.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Volunteer at 2013 PTown Film Fest and Get Some Great Perks!

Volunteer and help us put on the 15th annual Provincetown International Film Festival.
Since 1999 Provincetown has been welcoming the independent film world to our little village for what has blossomed into one of the best film festivals in the country. The schedule is out, so find one and get tickets early for things you want to see (many films sell out) and arrange your schedule so you can help put on this wonderful event bringing us independent films from around the world!
It takes a tremendous number of volunteers to pull off this remarkable feat. I've been a volunteer for all 15 years, right from the beginning, and it's one of the best things I do every year. The Provincetown International Film Festival is one of the greatest events in the country every year for independent films to be seen and appreciated by grateful audiences.  I've met all kinds of "film people" over the years, and have had the chance to have conversations with famous actors, producers, directors, screenwriters, and with many who have served in all of these functions at once in order to get their own tiny, independent films produced and made available to the public.
Gus Van Sant receives his 2002
PIFF Filmmaker on the Edge Award.
I got the chance, for example, to thank Gus Van Sant for his wonderful film To Die For, which I watch again at least once a year, with Nicole Kidman absolutely nailing the part of the local TV weather girl who aspires to greater things and who would do anything to hit the big time. Jane Lynch talked with me about scripted dialogue vs. ad libs in the "mockumentaries" she's done with director Christopher Guest, such as Best of Show and A Mighty WindI.
I'm not a collector of autographs, but Marcia Gay Harden was kind enough after our conversation to write a personal note for me to take to a friend who couldn't get out of work to attend that year's event where Ms Harden was honored with the festival's Excellence in Acting Award. This year that award will be conferred upon Matt Dillon at this annual event which takes place at 5 PM on Saturday, June 22nd, at Town Hall. Get tickets to attend this evening where festival award winners get the chance to speak extensively about their work, with an audience Q & A session as well.
Matt Dillon will be in Provincetown to receive
this year's PIFF Excellence in Acting  Award.
As you can imagine, it takes an awful lot of work to put on a huge event like this one, which will bring 132 films and events to PTown from June 19th through the 23rd.
You can get tickets (or volunteer!) for events like parties, award functions, filmmakers in conversation about their work, as well as screenings of more than 100 films ranging from shorts, animation and documentaries to feature films from around the world.
You can become a volunteer by visiting the PIFF volunteer page on their website, or contact Director of Volunteers Katie Ledoux directly. Here's a message from Katie:

We are celebrating the 15th year of the Provincetown International Film Festival and we would love for you to be part of it. In order to produce one of the best festivals in the country we need your support !If you love films and want to get the chance to get up close and personal, VOLUNTEER today. Volunteer perks include admittance to the Opening and Closing Parties, a movie voucher for every four hour shift worked, a free t-shirt and on Monday the 24th we have a volunteer party with free food and drink and a free screening of one of the films from the festival!
To sign up please email our Director of Volunteers directly at:

Thanks so much!

My volunteer experience over the years has included countless different functions such as taking tickets as patrons enter the theater, introducing a variety of filmmakers to the audience, putting up banners at the sponsor's exhibit, ushering at events like the awards ceremonies, and one year I counted ballots for the audience awards given at the closing party at the end of the festival.
Volunteer, get some great perks, and help us put on Provincetown's best film festival yet.