Monday, May 28, 2018

Take a Peek Inside One of Provincetown's Famous Dune Shacks

Dune Shack Kitchen, Provincetown
My cheeks are beginning to cramp up a bit, because I haven't stopped grinning since the day I discovered this splendid bit of Provincetown nostalgia. I wish I knew who to credit for this photo, which speaks volumes about the history of the dunes without uttering a single word. I found it on the Provincetown Photography Page on Facebook, posted by a man who had found it online, with no information on its provenance.
I was a tour guide on Art's Dune Tours for a few years, and I certainly miss being out there every day, amongst those enormous, sandy hillsides, the wildlife, splendid vegetation, endless vistas of the Atlantic, and most of all, the rambling dune shacks dotting the hills and flats. I would occasionally be asked to drive a shack-dweller into the dunes to spend the week in one of these crude huts, an assignment that I relished. I sometimes got to see inside one shack or another as I helped my passengers carry in things they'd need in a remote little shelter without electricity or even the simplest amenities.
C-scape Dune Shack, photo by Jamia Kelly, shows Pilgrim Monument on the
distant horizon in this lovely view over the dunes toward Provincetown Harbor.
Click to enlarge this photo for a closer look at this venerable shack.
Driving these folks back from their respite, I was regaled with tales of glorious sunrises, the smells of beach roses and wildflowers bursting open, and tastes of blueberries and beach plums found on a hike. Stories of wildlife abound, from the scurrying field mice who share most of these primitive shelters, to foraging deer in the forested spots, or gray seals swimming down the beach every night as the sun sizzles into the ocean and twilight takes over.
The moment I saw this charming photo I knew I was looking through the window of one of the famous dune shacks where the likes of Tennessee Williams, Eugene O'Neill, Norman Mailer, Lillian Hellman and countless other writers had visited, stayed and worked. In the quiet solitude if the dunes, they were inspired by the sights, smells and sensations of this unique refuge. Nearly every important American writer of the early 1900s sought a bit of solitude in these dunes, and artists flocked there as well. Probably the most universally known artist to have taken inspiration here was abstract painter Jackson Pollock.
Click on the dune tour link above to watch a five-minute video showing you a bit of that adventure led by Rob Costa, whose father, Art, started these trips through the dunes in 1939. You can also reserve a tour of the sand dunes for yourself on this site.
Click this link Dune Shacks: taste of Cape Cods' floating & well-aged homes for a 27-minute video, hosted by a man with current dwelling rights. He'll take you out walking the dunes and beach, learning some of the history of these remarkable shacks, and looking inside the dwelling that his family has been preserving for the better part of the last century. I highly recommend this video.
If you're hardy enough you can walk out into the dunes to spot some of these enchanting shacks yourself. Please try to stay on the trails and avoid trampling the grasses and plant life, and be sure not to disturb folks who might be staying in any one of these primitive shanties. You can also take the dune tour to get out there. It will take you very close to a number of these wonderful shacks.

Friday, May 25, 2018

See World Class Entertainment Over Four-Day PTown Memorial Day Bash

Kick off the new season with great entertainment over the four-day weekend celebrating Memorial Day in Provincetown. It starts with rollicking comedy at the Post Office Cabaret. Two of PTown's favorite stand-up comics will each make appearances every day of this fun, extended weekend. Click for tickets or visit the box office at 303 Commercial Street.

 This summer it will be very exciting to see the Pilgrim House reclaim its identity as a premier entertainment venue in Provincetown, and it all starts with the fabulous Miss Richfield 1981 moving her unique, hilarious mix of comedy, song and audience interaction to this stage with her all new show "Born Again." Click below to get tickets early for Saturday, May 26th or Sunday, May 27th at 8:30 PM. Both are likely to sell out. Find the Pilgrim House at the end of the footpath at 336 Commercial Street.
Saturday, May 26th and Sunday, May 27th, 8:30 PM at Pilgrim House

Mark Cortale Productions and the Art House present blockbuster music and comedy this weekend with Melissa Ferrick and multiple award-winning comic and PTown favorite Judy Gold, each appearing at the Art House on Saturday night. The Grammy Award-winning Indigo Girls will perform Sunday night at Town Hall at 6 PM. Their opening act will be our own Zoe Lewis, a "band in a body."
All three of these Memorial Day Weekend shows are one night only, with Judy Gold returning to perform late June through August, along with some 30 more artists playing at the Art House throughout the summer, so bookmark the schedule and check it often, In the meantime, see these shows while you can.
Click above for performer profiles and links to tickets for each show

The Crown & Anchor complex, at 247 Commercial Street, has so many events going on for the four-day holiday weekend that it's hard to even list them all here. 16 parties, events and performances will take place between now and Monday evening, starting with singer/comic Julie Wheeler performing tonight thru Monday at 7 PM in the Cabaret Room, followed by Rise Up, the kickoff party for Memorial Day Weekend, starting at 9 PM tonight in the Paramount Room. 
There are more dance parties scheduled in the evenings, as well as a pool party Sunday afternoon. The legendary Illusions Drag Revue and the fabulous Thirsty Burlington will each perform Saturday and Sunday nights. Bobby Wetherbee brings his award-winning piano bar and sing-along to the Dive Bat tonight thru Sunday with no cover charge, and Doug Repetti will be on the piano Monday and Tuesday nights. Check the schedule, and follow the links there to get tickets, or stop by the box office at the edge of the Crown's new pet friendly patio and outdoor grill.
Click for parties, events and performance schedules

Get your summer started right. Look over the schedules, make a spreadsheet if you have to, and get to as many of these venues as you can for shows, parties and more taking place all over Provincetown, all weekend. For events requiring tickets, get 'em now! (Julie Wheeler, for example, is sold out for tonight, but she'll do three more shows.) There are dozens of events here for you to enjoy.
Have fun, be careful, be kind to each other, and have a great holiday.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Outer Cape Chorale Spring Concert Soars

The annual spring concert of the Outer Cape Chorale and Chamber Singers is, as usual, fabulous! You still have a chance to catch their Saturday evening performance in PTown or their Sunday afternoon performance in Orleans. Make sure you get out and enjoy  this unique Cape Cod event.
Here's how their website describes this concert:

A program of choral music inspired by the beauty of Cape Cod - Featuring Ronald Perera’s Why I Wake Early, based on the poetry of Mary Oliver, and a program of songs, composers, and more – all from or about our beloved Cape Cod!
Saturday May 19th at 7:00 PM, Provincetown Town Hall
Sunday May 20th at 3:00 PM, Nauset Regional Middle School, Orleans
This is a free concert with donations gratefully accepted. It is always one of the year's most highly anticipated events, so be sure not to miss it!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Coffee Pot Opens for 29th Season, Signaling Spring in Provincetown

The Coffee Pot's "Rescue Squad" breakfast sandwich is among the best in town.
One sure sign of spring in Provincetown is The Coffee Pot opening up for the new season. This will be their 29th summer serving breakfast, lunch, supper and fresh baked goods, right in the heart of PTown.
You'll find them at the edge of Lopes Square, just before MacMillan Pier, and right across from the Chamber of Commerce.
Even though their address is listed on Commercial Street, you'll find Coffee Pot by walking toward the pier and the harbor from the corner of Commercial and Standish streets. It's a Provincetown thing. They're in the center of a long, narrow building that once stretched all the way from Commercial Street to the beach, so the entire building still retains the old Commercial Street address.
Each year, as spring billows into Provincetown, The Coffee Pot is one of the first spots to open. I'm always eager to have my first breakfast sandwich after the long winter without one. I usually make my first order a Rescue Squad with cheddar. This may be the most satisfying breakfast sandwich on the cape. I'm pretty sure it's the biggest.
They take a really big sub roll and toast it on the grill while the eggs, sausage and bacon are cooking. In go three large eggs, two big sausage patties side by side, and 3 slices of bacon, cooked just right. Two slices of cheese complete the sandwich. I order mine with cheddar. I usually get the eggs cooked as a fluffy omelet, but this day I had 'em fried. I paired my breakfast with a nice, robust cup of coffee. For me, it's dark roast all the way.

Omelet-style egg, slices of grilled deli ham, cheese, of course - Breakfast # 5
Now I'm jonesing for a ham and egg and cheddar on a croissant. And a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa rolled in a tortilla. Add meat if you'd like, but I kind of like it without. You can also get your basic plate of eggs, home fries and toast for $5.99. That's a PTown bargain.
Breakfast sandwiches are a natural for takeout, and if you call ahead, Nelson and Linda and the gang can have your food ready when you get there to pick it up. Call 508•487•2580. Or make it a sit-down affair in their dining room with picture windows looking out onto Lopes Square, or you can have your meal in the sun and the breeze of their open air patio, which welcomes well behaved pets.
They also make a great lunch for after your whale watch, but we'll talk about that another day.
Enjoy your meal, and have a glorious day in Provincetown!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

See (or Be) the UU Meeting House Annual Talent/No-Talent Show on Sat., May 12th

Come and see the show at the UU Meeting House, at 336 Commercial Street, or sign up to be part of the show yourself. Whether you are quite talented, or, not so much, you can perform before a supportive audience of folks who are likely to applaud anything. Groups as well as solo acts are welcome.
Are you secretly a comic? Do you sing a little, dance like a dream, read poetry, or have no discernible talent whatsoever but want to play your banjo solo anyway? Sign up by calling Char at 508•487•4193, or e-mail her at
You'll want to be there by 6:00 PM with dessert or finger food to share in the "bistro" that will be set up for the evening, but don't be late because the show starts at 6:30. Come even earlier if you want to help set up the bistro and theater.
The evening will also feature an auction for services that will be sold to the highest bidder. You can offer a service yourself by e-mailing Will at, or call him at 310•486•2900. Or perhaps you'll win the bid for someone to come and clean out your rain gutters, or do your grocery shopping, crochet an afghan or bake you some cookies. There's no telling what sort of services might be auctioned off.
So get to the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House on Saturday and have some fun. Those folks are among the most vital champions of just about every Provincetown group or cause you can name, and they certainly deserve our support.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Wednesday May 9, Join the Walk in Beech Forest, Find Sites of Mary Oliver's Poetry

You'll likely spot this fellow, or some of his friends and neighbors, on a walk through Beach Forest.
On a walk through Beech Forest you get a chance to use all of your senses. You can't walk more than a few yards without spotting, and hearing, a diverse assortment of wildlife. Some will be scurrying away from you, through the underbrush and tangles of vines, and some will be dive-bombing you from branches overhead when they fear you've come too close to a nest full of eggs or chicks.
The smell of damp grasses after a spring rain, or of young buds becoming blossoms, can rush back to you long years later and put a fresh smile on your face. In Beech Forest, at various "right moments" of the year, you can even taste a few of the marvels growing around you.

Beach Forest is full of sights and sounds of wildlife, like this chipmunk photobombing my trail shot.

Here, on walks alone, I can feel a sort of necessary solitude, among friends. I feel quite lucky to have one of my favorite momentary getaways so close to home. It seems to me no wonder that renowned poet Mary Oliver has found inspiration, and done some writing, on what must be countless Beech Forest walks.
Checking the weekly events section of the Unitarian Universalist Meeting House site, as I do, I found a blurb about tomorrow's walk in the forest, visiting sites of the poetry of Mary Oliver. That blurb led me to the site of the Outer Cape Chorale, where I found this invitation for all of us to join in:
Walk: The Poetry of Mary Oliver at Blackwater Pond, May 9, 1:00 pm. 1 ½ hours, 1 mile.
Ranger Jody Anastasio and writer Kathleen Henry, both members of the Outer Cape Chorale, will explore the place that inspired several of Mary Oliver’s poems.  Reflect on the natural elements that play into pieces from the upcoming Outer Cape Chorale concerts.  If you would like, bring your favorite Mary Oliver poem to share.  Meet at the Beech Forest Trail parking area, Race Point Road, Provincetown.
The UU has a great event coming up. More about that here tomorrow night, or click the UUMH link above, but be sure to save the date this coming Saturday night.
The OCC is preparing for their upcoming spring concert on May 18th, 19th and 20th. Again, I'll tell you more later, or you can click on their link above. As mentioned, Mary Oliver's poetry figures into this concert.
Try to get to Beech Forest tomorrow. When will be the next time you'll have a chance to join an event like this?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Bagpipe Music on Cinco de Mayo? Only in Provincetown

Dancers at the annual Cinco de Mayo Festival in Washington, D.C., photo by D. B. King
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Any excuse at all can and will be used to create a party in Provincetown. You'll likely find a celebration or two in the bars, and elsewhere as well. Today is also the Kentucky Derby.  The last couple of years I've spent it at Vorelli's, where they really get into the spirit of the race, with everyone at the bar rooting for their particular horse. Bartender Connie makes it a lot of fun, and she may even come up with a special beverage or two for these two occasions. Vorelli's is famous for great drinks and a very friendly bar.
I heard bagpipe music in the center of Provincetown for just a few minutes this afternoon. By the time I got dressed and out the door the piper was nowhere in sight, and I didn't know whether I should head east or west to try to catch up and find out what was going on. Does anybody know? Was this a funeral procession? Has the fellow who piped here many years ago returned? Was this meant as an ironic giggle celebrating Cinco de Mayo?
As a whole, we Americans  are woefully ignorant of other cultures. We use the occasion of Cinco de Mayo as a reason to chug-a-lug a good bit of tequila or Corona, and we eat tacos and burritos, the same way we slug down green beer and eat corned beef and cabbage on Saint Patrick's Day. There's nothing wrong with that, but we're co-opting another country's holiday without really knowing anything about it. And most of us do have it wrong.
Here's a partial list of goofy (dare I say stupid?) questions posed to Google by well-meaning folks who wanted to celebrate this Mexican holiday, which actually gets more attention in the US than it does south of the border...

When is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco means five in Spanish, de Mayo means of May, so, the 5th of May is Cinco de Mayo, and that’s when it’s celebrated.

Where is Cinco de Mayo?
Is that a trick question? Where are you? If, on May 5th, you are somewhere that recognizes the 365 days of the year, chances are, Cinco de Mayo is wherever you might be. If in doubt, stop in at any neighborhood bar and inquire.

What is Cinco de Mayo in Spanish?
            Cinco de Mayo.

When is Cinco de Mayo celebrated in Mexico?
            On Cinco de Mayo.

When is Cinco De Mayo in the US?
            On Cinco de Mayo

When is Cinco de Mayo in  Portland, Oregon?
Actually, Cinco de Mayo runs from May 4th through the 6th in Portland this year. Turns out this is the largest multicultural festival in the state of Oregon, held on its downtown waterfront, and it is definitely a bigger celebration than those typically held in Mexico.

Is Cinco de Mayo Racist?
No, but donning a sombrero, a poncho and a cheesy fake mustache while speaking in a mock-Spanish accent all day might be.

And, yes, people actually asked Google:
Is Cinco de Mayo about mayonnaise?
            Seriously? No, really…

So what is Cinco de Mayo? Americans often think it is Mexico’s Independence Day, but it’s not. That’s Grito de Dolores, held on September 16th. And, no, it’s not the Day of the Dead. That’s Día de Muertos, the three-day holiday when Mexican families gather together in remembrance of deceased relatives and friends. It is usually held from October 31 to November 2.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the day in 1862 when the tiny Mexican Army, against all odds, prevailed against the powerful French fighting forces in the Battle of Puebla, a small town that was expected to fall to France that day. But the seriously outnumbered Mexican troops surprisingly won the battle, galvanizing the Mexican forces.
When the French returned a year later and easily seized the town, Cinco de Mayo may have lost a bit of its luster. It is considered a minor holiday in Mexico, but now it  is probably celebrated in America with more gusto than anywhere else in the world. Here’s how that happened…
During the 1960s, many Mexican-American civil rights activists began using the occasion as a source of pride. By 1989, a shrewd importer of Mexican beers launched a holiday ad campaign aimed at Latinos, but eventually ads in magazines, newspapers, and on TV garnered a much wider audience.
Fast-forward to the year 2013, when, despite the growing criticism of cultural stereotypes unleashed for a day every May 5th, this holiday had become part of the annual party circuit in the US. That year Cinco de Mayo beer sales reached $600 million, far outstripping Saint Patrick’s Day and the Super Bowl!
There’s nothing wrong with a party on someone else’s holiday, and the world should celebrate other cultures and their heroes, but let’s be respectful of others and their traditions. Let's spend a moment thinking about the soldiers that fought that day, on both sides, and lets think twice before doing, saying or wearing something that might advance racist stereotypes.

Now, how about a margarita? In fact, how about some carnitas tacos or pozole verde at the Central House? The Crown & Anchor’s restaurant has changed their menu a bit for the spring, reflecting a bit of the heritage of Chef De Cuisine Edwin Amaro. He offers an all-day menu Friday through Sunday featuring a couple of Mexican entrées amongst the traditional American dishes and seafood.
When the new menu came out I was so happy to see that Thursday is still Mexican Night. A salad served with your choice of seven Mexican entrées is just $18. I can’t wait for Thursday to roll around. I love Mexican food, and I’m nurturing a genuine, growing affection for the culture, too.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Red Inn Kicks Of Their 2018 Season With Tonight's Opening Party

One of PTown's most charming spots is The Red Inn, officially opening tonight!
The party that officially opens The Red Inn for the new season is always one of the most anticipated events of springtime in Provincetown.
Tonight, the dining rooms, decks and grounds of this world-renowned restaurant and inn will be filled with people greeting old friends as they drink in the fabulous view of Provincetown Harbor from every corner of this charming waterfront venue.
Folks will be reveling in the music, dancing to the beat, perhaps having a beverage or two, and, of course, enjoying some of the wonderful food that brings such acclaim to this revered, beloved, PTown landmark.
The Red Inn's opening party marks the true season opening for many of us.
Tent tops are raised and a special outdoor dance floor has been assembled for the occasion. All are invited to enjoy the hospitality of The Red Inn as they kick off the 2018 season.
There will be music, hors d'oeuvre and dancing on the edge of Provincetown Harbor. There's simply no better way to spend your evening.

Remember to wear sensible shoes, not only for the dancing, but for the floors. Parts of The Red Inn are more than 200 years old, and spiked heels might be a little too cruel for some of the gorgeous, wide-plank flooring. The special dance floor installed over part of the lawn for this evening is also not meant for spiky shoes, so, please, no stilettos.
Beginning tomorrow, May 3rd, The Red Inn will be open daily for the 2018 season, with their Raw Bar Happy Hour from 4 to 5 PM, featuring those famous Wellfleet oysters. Dinner service will begin every night at 5:31 PM. Time to make a reservation for a memorable dinner in a spectacular setting, or an elegant getaway overlooking magnificent Provincetown Harbor.