For our Afterglow Festival opener last year I wrote something fairly political for Stella and myself to perform, together and separately. Using the frequented Herring Cove beach in Provincetown as a metaphor for the political climate, the right and left, and their varied alliances with foreign power I wrote the following monologue for Stella to perform:
Originally performed September 12, 2016 in Provincetown as part of the Starsky + Cox “Us and Them” show:
So if you know Herring Cove beach then you know that you drive out and you get to a fork in the road at the entrance where there’s a ranger station and you can either swipe left or swipe right. And really that’s what you’re doing because: If you swipe left you enter the lefty liberal beach of the gays and lesbians. The boys and girls, well, the men and women. Well the women first because they stick close to the beach entrance; not because they don’t like the exercise but because they have so much, shall we say, equipment—folding chairs and tents and typically dogs, if not kids, and books and hats and towesls and sweatshirts and floats and games and sporting goods and dinette sets and, you know, equipment—which is in sharp contrast to the boys who are further down and, depending on the tide, will have taken the short cut to that outer beach, “the boy beach” through the dunes, traveling super light, you know, with just a David Sedaris book, a towel and a TimScapes tanktop slung over their shoulder. So even if you swipe left you encounter that contrast, that sub faction.
However if you were to swipe right when you enter Herring Cove you really are swiping right, except if you venture really far out, which you can only do on foot, to the very tip of the beach where you will encounter a small colony of elite, off-the-grid libertarian gays, but for the most part, when you swipe right, it’s RV after camper after mini-van after trailer, many of which are festooned with right-wing bumper stickers and “populist” propoganda or patriarcal paraphenalia like those disgusting truck balls. Just a few weeks back, On my way out to visit my gay libertarian friends, I passed one vehicle with a bumper sticker that read Trump That Bitch. Yeah that’s what it said Trump That Bitch. I always travel with a Sharpie so I added a comma after Trump and drew a quick caricature of Ivanka. (Period.) I’m not proud of it. Vandalism. It’s typically not my style. But these are drastic times and the polarized duality of our existence here is stunning. Again, especially here. And it works every which way….
….The other day, I bumped into a friend as he pedalled back from his travel-light daily jaunt to the Boy Beach, who was terribly distraught because he felt what he called his “safe queer space” was being invaded by straight people. Apparently a forty something hipster couple was trying to cross the dunes to the Boy Beach with a stroller which must have been a sight and a big surprise to them and the fellows sunning themselves sans thong upon their arrival. And I get it. Provincetown has long been a refuge for the LGBTQ community for a century but as it becomes less marginalized, which is the goal, right, it loses it’s margin, it’s outer fringe. And so, yes, though it would be jarring to see some likely well-funded artisinal chocolatier millionaire couple in what appears to be19th century garb—she in a gunny sack, he sporting suspenders and a Smith brothers beard—crossing what must seem like the Sahara with a stroller, it’s just the way, it literally goes. This is where it’s going. I tell me gay friends here: You can’t have the World of Interiors, or House & Garden or Elle Decor or Guns & Ammo come and photograph your mudroom and then expect to keep out the Brooklynite offspring of the Fortune 500. You know the expression?…I think it was Shakespeare or maybe it was Christopher Marlowe…who said: First the gays, then the girls and then everybody else? It’s true. But I’m talking beyond that, beyond that. More globally.
It way goes beyond the domestic cultural wars playing out here microcosm. It’s global. Yes the global conflict is right here, in Provincetown. Oh yes. You don’t go to other boutique destinations like Key West or Palm Springs or Asheville or Marfa and see what we see here. I mean in terms of global dichotomy as far as we are concerned, there is a split, right, wouldn’t you agree, between the former Soviet Union, still espousing many of their cold war ideals, and the rising power in the world, that is China. And of course, closer to home, we have this dualistic vision of Mexico. The right seems to be all about the once and what could be the future Eastern Bloc—and the left seems to be more welcoming of China, and they are split down the middle on Mexico. And, though I don’t have as many Mexican friends in Provincetown as I used to, I certainly know a lot of people here who hail from the former Soviet Union and, at the same time, I’m being slowly introduced to our new friends from China. And I don’t have to fly seven thousand miles to understand the historic and cultural significance of this particular brand of global dichotomy—all I have to do is stroll from here to Canteen next door for a dish of sauteed brussel sprouts in fish sauce to get a sense of the cultural waves that are occuring out there on the world stage. With all the different factions that make up the Provincetown experience, it is said that walking down Commerical Street is like cruising the halls of high school with it’s myriads cliques and hoots—but walking down the street is also, in its own way, a playing out of the great race for world power and dominion, some factions driving pedicabs, some shielding themselves from the sun with parasols, some sticking to the tar in forshadowing of the dinosaurs we are to become. (take mic out).
And then Stella sang the Tori Amos song: China