Writing regularly about this place for local newspapers has been one of my more intense experiences of romance... I was being interviewed by the selectmen for a position on a town committee when one of the interviewers started by saying: "Why do you hate this town so much?" She had read a column ("At Home With Entropy," 1994) in which I describe the unpretentious charms of what would elsewhere be called eyesores. I was sure the fondness of my irony would be clear to all readers; in fact my romantic identification with this town was still in its monolithic stage in which I assumed all whom this town had touched shared one soul, that we were all one citizenry—Wellfleet people— characterized among other things by both irony and a taste for the unpretentious and even the rundown. But here was one of my fellow citizens, a n ative as a matter of fact, with one of those names one sees on street signs, who obviously didn't appreciate my way of being fond of this town. My own mother used to give us the advice "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," so I suppose I have only myself to blame for a response to a column a few years back. I wrote, despite having little nice to say, about a man who, in a town just off-Cape, had shot his ex-girlfriend's current boyfriend, raped her, and then shot himself. The real point of the piece was to criticize the role played in the tragedy by the glamorizing of violent men. The morning this column appeared I answered the phone and was assaulted by the opening line, "What is this ---- you wrote, you ------?" It was an Outer Cape example of one of those violent men I had been talking about, objecting, as far as I could make out through the abuse, to my call for de-glamorizing his kind. My mother also used to say, "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me" (which seems to mean roughly the opposite of the other advice). Apparently the words in my column had hurt this guy enough that if I ever actually met him in the flesh it would be sticks and stones I'd have to worry about. On the other hand, there was the time I was jogging past the lumberyard when a woman employee with whom I had hitherto had only friendly over-the-counter business dealings ran out and waylaid me with a hugmy reward for having written a column ("The Implied Ocean," '97) that struck her in just the right way.
I have, since starting to write locally in 1994, written well over 300 columns for the Cape Cod Times and The Provincetown Banner (1996-2003), ranging from (in no particular order) the local themes, some collected in Wellfleet and the World, to comments on TV as scapegoat, movies, U.S. war and empire, Christmas and solstice, the religion problem, nukes, computers, answering machines, the Y2K panic, modern art, Prozac, the police, dogs and cats, public nudity, the loss of Robert J., 9/11, global warming, globalization, election politics, Christmas trees, artificial intelligence, too tall buildings, world wars 1 and 2, gay marriage, whether it's happening here, terrorism. And more.