We collected a lot of advice while researching the possibility of a new newspaper here. What we heard inspired us to go ahead and dive in, but every now and then someone said something that scared us. On one of those occasions a very smart person looked at us over her drink at the Red Inn and said, “Provincetown is over.”
Provincetown and the entire Outer Cape is not the same place it was 10 or 25 or 40 years ago. It is constantly changing, and some things that have been lost cannot be recreated. As Berta Walker said this week, the storytelling style of the late, great Napi Van Dereck will never be equaled.
But the stories yet to be told, in words and photographs and drawings, continue to multiply.
It seems appropriate that the death of this consummate collector of Provincetown art came in the week that we were compiling this special New Year’s issue, an experiment that some media industry consultants will no doubt consider knuckleheaded.
The results of our invitations to artists and photographers to contribute to what we hope will be an annual collection are, to our eyes and hearts, immensely moving.
Just look at the three women in Marnie Samuelson’s photograph of wild shellfish pickers and imagine telling them that this place is “over.” Spend a while in the presence of Marian Roth’s and John Andert’s memories of another time in Provincetown. Sample the weak coffee and stale cheese at A. Crock’s Unreliable Cafe as you consider the price of progress.
The works of the 15 visionary, generous, and decidedly eccentric friends and co-conspirators in this issue of the Independent go far beyond the scope of the “news” in any ordinary newspaper. But this is no ordinary place. It is confoundingly different and maddening and heartbreakingly precious. Newspapers have always been about words, with images to draw your attention and break up the gray columns of type. But art, like music, has the uncanny power to reveal and express meaning and truth that words cannot.
Our corner of the world with its earth and sea and sky has an unmatched beauty that pulls and holds us, even as the wind and sleet and rent and sudden, unexpected losses trip and stagger us. Not knowing who will answer, we send out our invitations and the answers come back, telling us that the end is over.