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Cooling Out on the Cape: From Spare Change to No Change

Martha’s Vineyard: Why pay less?

Summer’s last gasp heating up and so it’s time for the cool to get cool by the shore. Martha’s Vineyard’s shores will be less cool this year because, so we hear, the coolest black president America’s ever had no longer cools out on Martha’s Vineyard now that he has to pay for it. How uncool is that?

Regardless, Martha’s Vineyard still thinks it’s cool because the Most Cool One in the history of the known universe, the Holy O, injected it with many metric tons of cool which the island, eating its seed, now grinds it into fishmeal to feed to the worshipers of the Obama Shrine. When that’s done, the Vineyard will look and feel, at last, pretty much like Provincetown, but without the Gay Pride floats and speedos (so far). People worry about the coming fall and the midterms, but I don’t worry about such fetish fevers when I see that the all-consuming chill of “cool” is likely to get us first.

Cool’s a funny thing. Before it was cool to be cool, being cool was actually sorta cool. But now that being cool is as required as a tramp-stamp at age 14 in order to gain admittance to a U2 Concert, cool’s just not cool. Once “cool” is codified it’s kaput. And since cool’s not cool, there is no way to really be cool. That would be okay since nothing cool is cool forever. After all, the groove must move to keep from becoming a rut.

The problem is that the left-behind Culture of Cool has now infested the landscape like locusts on crack and is gnawing the cool out of the American earth. Cool comes from a random sense of motion whirled within a certain spirit of place. As Kerouac wrote, “Man, you gotta go.” Once you kill that spirit with predictable motion, you don’t have cool, you have kabuki. And moving in that dead dance you don’t find hipsters, but cold corpses twitching in a jerking dance of post-mortum effects. You know, like pithed frogs or latter-day rappers.

I don’t mind rappers since I know that, with time, they’ll melt back into the landscape like compost blasted out of a wood-chipper. What I do mind is how cool, when passing through a place, is starting to scour the landscape of classic American cool places cleaner than a drag-chained desert mesa. As some wise-guy observed, “Once the antique stores and the poodles show up the groove moves on.” The problem is that the groove is running out of places to move to. I’ve come to believe that the lack of cool places is due to the consistent invasion of places that were once cool by progressives disguised as cleaned-up hippies with money still left on their VISA cards.

The always worthy although now abandoned Sippican Cottage once had a meditation on the nature of change in summer places a couple of seasons back with No NIMBYS Need Apply in which he observes:

“Cape Cod, and Provincetown, are very much Not In My Back Yard Places now. It’s hard to do much of anything building-wise. There is no more reactionary person than a wild-eyed progressive who has beaten the forces of the last reactionary, it appears.”

This progressive mental disorder can be seen in Provincetown and any number of other places that once were cool and are now merely the haunt of the privileged pretenders to cool. Indeed, the current going price for a week in the hamlet of Provincetown seems to range from $5,500 per week for something that sleeps 8 to the more modest $650 a week for a cottage/closet sleeping two. For this, plus sundry other expenses, you get to party in the beach zone. It’s a kind of Disneyland for poz gay adults and satisfies the newfound need to be by the sea at least once a year to maintain your cool status. Once cheap, cool now costs lots of cold cash.

Getting in some rented beach time is important since most poor and middle-class Americans now labor under America’s new unwritten law that states: “Nobody with a net worth south of $30,000,000 is allowed to actually live by the ocean.” (Unless grandfathered in by, well, your grandfather and you’d better be able to scrape up the jacked up property taxes too.)

The gutting of the “cool places” by the uncool cool-seekers, from the White House to the outhouse, is pretty much the state of the nation at the moment. It is important to “be cool.” It is not important to live. By and large, this compulsion for cool has gripped the soul of the nation and continues in an unstoppable way.

The cool parts of the cool cities are increasingly decooled by people with more money than style — Soho, Venice, the Haight, to cite a few. Ditto the cool ways to live.

Long ago it was cool to live in a loft, and not one “designed” to be an “artiste’s loft” either. Or at least it was thought to be so. I once lived (off and on) in an old cigar factory loft way below Soho in New York and it was, in its way, pretty cool. You threw down the keys and ran up a half-dozen flights of stairs. When the storms came the clang of metal shutters slamming into brick walls made you think you were sleeping inside of Big Ben. The kitchen was a small fridge and a hotplate. The bathroom door was a shower curtain. But if you wanted to you could make really big paintings and have really big parties and nobody knew you were there.

It was cool.

It was very uncool to have to take a cab 16 blocks in the winter just get to the nearest laundromat with a stack of dirty clothes, but that’s what you did. Now you can have the laundromat pick up the clothes and bring them back folded from the corner — and you pay for that as well, and much more than a cool $2 million plus for your loft. But that’s okay because now, even though you are living like an “artiste,” you don’t have to produce anything that remotely resembles “art” to be cool. If you do have a gallery, you probably own it and fill it with your own personal selection of the kind of dumpster trash that passes for “art” in this mordant age. Creativity is no longer required to be cool. If the Beatles Anthem were written today it would be “All You Need is Cash,” because cool, once generated from within by real talent, can now just be purchased.

Merely owning a loft-like space lets you (and more importantly everybody else) know you are “cool.” This is essential since the greatest desire of modern American urban life is to “get cool and stay cool.” The way you do that, as Sippican Cottege indicates, is by stopping anybody else from moving into the scene once you arrive. In this, a “reactionary” is a “progressive” who’s been mugged by real-estate values, property taxes, and the fact that it is hard to get a reservation at the latest and coolest restaurant in the zone.

I once rented a three-bedroom house in Southport, Connecticut. Southport is a tiny and very rich community sandwiched between Westport (ex-Martha Stewart land) and Fairfield (commuting base at the time for many middle managers of New York City). The house was built by the father of my landlord and was a small masterpiece of New England homebuilding. It sat on three acres of lawn across from a school. Although close to the freeway it was still idyllic in almost every way as was the tiny little hamlet of Southport. For a number of years, I was very happy there. It was pretty cool.

When, after a long time with the wolf at the door, the money arrived it was time to think about actually buying a home in the town. I was talking about this with my landlord one day when I ventured the opinion that the town would be “much better off if we could just stop all these new people from moving in. You know, cut off the building of new houses….”

My landlord fixed me with a gimlet eye and said, “My dad built over three hundred houses around here starting when he got back from the war. If he’d thought the way you do, you wouldn’t be here.”

I got the point. Since then, I’ve always looked at those who move into “the cool place” and want to shut the door after them as traitors to cool.

There’s a lot of this sort of cool class treason going around these days. You see it in those who would like to close the door on development in the 3rd world lest more of that rotten life-denying planet-wrecking CO2 be made. (And let’s get some more bike lanes painted on the roads too!) You see it in the endless zoning laws and restrictions on building thrown up across the landscape until nothing can be built for less than what can be raised by a consortium of rich developers. You see it in the recent Federal decisions on “takings.”

But mostly you see it in the endless desire to be seen and thought of as “cool;” a kind of new status point system in which one must live in the right place, with the right furniture, going to the right restaurants, wearing the right clothes, and most of all having the correct and approved opinions that, well, everybody else has (Don’t they?).

Above all, to be cool you have to be against — on a deep and fundamental level — mankind itself while proclaiming that “ordinary people are the most important people that there are, but….” The only thing more important than people, you must believe, is “the planet.” If you can pull all these things together, along with enough money to live in the cool zones, you too can be thought of by all the cool people around you as…. cool. Cool enough to drop ten grand a week on a Provincetown vacation home where the dunes are protected against everything except Rainbow Speedos butt-floss male bikinis and random fornication.

And how cool is that?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • sharksauce August 12, 2018, 10:12 AM

    Did Sippican just hang it up like most longtime bloggers have? I’m a Maine guy too — Sipp’s posts helped out a lot in the dead of winter.

  • JiminAlaska August 12, 2018, 10:19 AM

    I’m cool with that.

  • MMinLamesa August 12, 2018, 10:28 AM

    That was a very tasty piece of writing.

    I have to be the uncoolest person walking the earth these days. And believe me, there’s several million folks I’m competing with here in w Texas for that…honor.

  • Roy Lofquist August 12, 2018, 11:11 AM

    I’ve got a table made by Sipp. Beautiful!

  • Vanderleun August 12, 2018, 11:15 AM

    Yup. He did. I’m thinking on it as well.

  • Harry August 12, 2018, 11:19 AM

    The favorite progressive/reactionary argument against building these days seems to be a lockstep view against “changing the character” of the cool place in question. The suburb my wife and I live in wasn’t “cool” when we moved in many years ago with a toddler or two, but had “cool” forced on it when the nearby “cool” suburb became to expensive for the “cool cats” to live in.

    With a bunch of new housing developments being built for people who may not be “cool” enough to live here, we’re hearing a lot of moaning, groaning, and gnashing of teeth because the character of our community is in danger of changing. While this is going on, and the value of my house is rising to “seriously? are you kidding me?” prices, another community further on down the road is becoming cool. The more things change . . .

  • Mike Anderson August 12, 2018, 12:01 PM

    Amen, Brother. What a bunch of frackin’ posers.
    I’ve seen cool, and all that bizz-bazz ain’t it. There’s rules for cool:

    (1) If you say you’re cool, you ain’t cool.
    (2) Trying to be cool, ain’t cool. It’s just trying…everyone’s patience.
    (3) You can’t buy cool. You might be able to earn it.
    (4) Cool people don’t give a sh*t about being cool, and that’s cool.

  • Guamaniable August 12, 2018, 12:44 PM

    Nobody’s been cool since Dean Martin.

  • Sam L. August 12, 2018, 1:22 PM

    Steve McQueen wasn’t cool, Guamaniable?

  • Sam L. August 12, 2018, 1:23 PM

    I miss Mr. Sippi, and his Mrs., and the Heir and the Spare.
    I am bummed.

  • vichris August 12, 2018, 1:43 PM

    I’ve always taken a certain pride in not being cool or caring about it. Keeping up with the Jones’s, Ambience, and keeping up appearances are all expensive habits. And the kind of people keeping score are not the kind of people I care to spend my time with anyway.

  • vichris August 12, 2018, 1:45 PM

    I’ve always taken a certain pride in not being cool or caring about it. Keeping up with the Jones’s, Ambience, and keeping up appearances are all expensive habits. And the kind of people keeping score are not the kind of people I care to spend my time with anyway.

  • Rob De Witt August 12, 2018, 3:01 PM

    …I’m thinking on it as well.


  • Callmelennie August 12, 2018, 3:14 PM

    Don’t worry Rob, GVD isn’t really thinking of quitting … he’s just yanking on your chain, ma-a-an; cause that’s what the cool folks are doing just now.

    And how did you like the way I only used your initials, Gerard? That’s the latest “thing” in cool, along with ironic “scare quotes”

  • jwm August 12, 2018, 3:23 PM

    At least I’ve had cool bikes.


  • Skorpion August 12, 2018, 5:10 PM

    We’re through being “cool”!

  • AmericusMagnus August 12, 2018, 5:20 PM

    Think for yourself, be your own man, do your own thing… now that’s cool!

  • Casey Klahn August 12, 2018, 7:00 PM

    Damn it! I finally went to PTown, and now it’s not cool, anymore. I wouldn’t know the difference between “cool like up till the 80s” PTown, and now, except the gayness was a running sore there when I visited. I mean, I’m not supposed to give a shit what they do (which I don’t), and at the same time I’m supposed to celebrate the extreme coolitude of gay-y-ness.

    Cool. I find where I live to be very cool, and the key to that is nobody will ever care or know about it.

    GS and his fam are often on my mind. I really ought to drop them a line sometime. Before winter sets in.

  • Vanderleun August 12, 2018, 7:04 PM

    It’s “GV” for me. The D and the L are assumed and subsumed.

    Are we cool about that?


  • Casey Klahn August 12, 2018, 7:53 PM

    GV, I was talking about Sippi (GS). You, I read daily. It is essential. You know all this.

  • ghostsniper August 12, 2018, 7:55 PM

    I once knew a hoon that was cool.
    He made his own wind.

  • TN Tuxedo August 12, 2018, 8:36 PM

    We took a family vacation in Cape Cod this June, staying in West Falmouth. For the most part, it was a pleasant stay.
    The Sunday we were there, however, we decided to make the hour-and-a-half road trip to Provincetown. Being the naïve country bumpkins we apparently are, we did not know about Provincetown being a gay enclave until we actually got there. My first clue was the Episcopal church with the rainbow flag out front, along with the marquee sign proclaiming that “ALL ARE WELCOME” (a statement regarding the admittance policy of this particular church, although not necessarily that of Heaven). After passing the third hairy, Speedo-clad couple walking hand-in-hand along the beach road, we decided to write off our time in Provincetown as a loss and make a determined retreat back to the relative calm of West Falmouth before our inquisitive eleven-year-old daughter took notice of her surroundings and initiated a conversation no one in the vehicle was ready to have.

  • Nori August 12, 2018, 8:44 PM

    Latter-day encapsulation of whatever the effing eff cool is. Maybe,like pron,you know it when you see it. Clint Eastwood has it in his DNA,and would bitch-slap me for mentioning it. Mad-Dog Mattis
    doubly so. Urban Chicdoms live desperate lives seeking it,and it is the Grail they are incapable of finding.

  • Island Girl August 12, 2018, 11:45 PM

    Very cool article, I did see that the coolest ever ex-president is in fact being worshipped over there.

  • Snakepit Kansas August 13, 2018, 4:28 AM

    Locusts on crack, I’m stealing that one!

  • ghostsniper August 13, 2018, 4:44 AM

    “…inquisitive eleven-year-old daughter took notice of her surroundings and initiated a conversation…”

    If she’s in a public indoctrination facility she’s already had it.
    Many times.
    They drill it into the young sponge heads.

  • steve walsh August 13, 2018, 4:46 AM

    Having just had my 61st birthday I’m pretty sure I’ve now aged out of cool.
    The missus and I spent the last week in Ogunquit ME, another gay enclave which is/was cool. Went out sailing one day with a local (traces his family’s arrival back to the mid 1600’s). As we passed the beach in Wells he told the tale of how a number of folks who own houses along the beach are fighting to claim the beach in front of their homes as their own so as to disallow access to tourists. The fellow telling the story said, “These people buy a place here because of what it is and how it is different and better than where they live. Then they work on changing it to be more like the place they came from.”.

    Ain’t it the truth.

  • John The River August 13, 2018, 8:10 AM

    “Getting in some rented beach time is important since most poor and middle-class Americans now labor under America’s new unwritten law that states: “Nobody with a net worth south of $30,000,000 is allowed to actually live by the ocean.””

    My sister lived in a seaside house that had been in her husbands family for three generations. Until the guy across the street (wrong side of the street, no direct view of the water) sold his house for 800K to a buyer who immediately knocked the house down and proceeded to build a new and higher domicile, whose top floors would be able to get an unobstructed view of the water.
    Of course this action set a new price for property on the street and she and her husbands property taxes tripled the next year. To rich for their middle class blood they sold and moved away from the sea.

    epilogue: The buyer of their house also knocked it down and built an even bigger and higher structure on the site. Incidentally blocking the “unobstructed view” of the first rich guy from Boston.

  • Ann K. August 13, 2018, 8:16 AM

    A virtual world without Sipp AND GV would be desolate, indeed.

  • Skorpion August 13, 2018, 11:04 AM

    Q: Why did the hipster burn his lips?

    A: He drank his coffee *before it was COOL!*

  • firefirefire August 14, 2018, 12:26 AM

    I don’t live on the beach but I can see, hear and smell it from my front door.

  • Callmelennie August 14, 2018, 7:35 AM

    We cool, GV. We cool

    In fact we be at such a high level of coolness, that the proper use of linking verbs no longer be a necessity

  • Vanderleun August 14, 2018, 10:30 AM

    More cool:

    We Real Cool

    The Pool Players.
    Seven at the Golden Shovel.

    We real cool. We
    Left school. We

    Lurk late. We
    Strike straight. We

    Sing sin. We
    Thin gin. We

    Jazz June. We
    Die soon.