P-Town Quick Takes

1. Nothing stays the same. Tennesse Williams and Blanche Lazell and Hans Hoffman aren't walking through that door.

2. That said, P-town seems not to change, at least for the two and a half decades we've going been going there to decompress and get revivified. The staff at the Bayshore condos, where we stay, has had little turnover, and their consistent good cheer is a balm and a delight. James and Albert at the Albert Merola Gallery are as cool and kind as ever, and in fact they might be aging in reverse. The same goes for their friend John Waters, last seen bicycling down Commercial Street.

3. Wait, I contradict myself. There seem to be more kids than we've ever seen, with parents both gay and straight. In my view, that's wholesome. Parents get to answer questions like "Why is that man wearing a dress?" I think it's great to push outward the boundaries of what's considered normal, as long as it's creative and peaceful.

4. What the Puritans who first landed here before proceeding to Plymouth might make of all this I can't imagine. Though the seeds of what we are and Ptown is must have somehow been planted then. For example, the fishermen who have worked out of New England harbors such as Provincetown and Gloucester and New Bedford for so many years possess a kind of fearlessness and heartiness that the Pilgrims themselves surely possessed. The Atlantic can get forbidding indeed.

5. Is P-town harbor more visually awesome at low tide or high tide? It's kind of like that old debate of who's better, the Beatles or the Stones? Low tide probably wins. People are out there letting their kids and dogs run free among the pools of water reflecting the sky and the boats whose hulls have come to rest on the evanescent sand bars. On the other hand, at high tide you see people paddle boarding by with their faithful canines at their feet, tripping out over the experience.

6. Does it matter that Provincetown isn't for the most part a site for "newness" in art any more? It certainly doesn't bother me. I love classical abstraction and painterly impressionist works and mixed media pieces and so on, all the forms that flowered in Ptown many decades ago and which are still superbly expressed by serious contemporary artists. I would no sooner turn my nose up at that than I would take a pass on going to hear Sonny Rollins improvise just because he practices a mid-century musical form. In fact, we get a thrill from learning about P-town's aesthetic history. (To clarify: The current P-town art we like isn't nostalgic. It works with classic forms, sometimes re-contextualizing them, and always seeing through the eyes of today.)

7. Melville said that "meditation and the water are forever melded." P-town is paradise if that rings true to you.

8. Every time we go to Ptown I feel we've stepped into a beautiful dream.


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