Adam Schatz is a member of Man Man, Landlady, The Shoe Ins, Father Figures and other excellent bands. He happens to enjoy donuts and we like him. After appearing on DC editor Brandon Wetherbee’s talk show and eating donuts with NYC editor Megan Burns, it made sense to ask the musician to write about what he knows: touring and donuts. Before we get to the sugar, Landlady recently released an LP tilted Upright Behavior and Pitchfork thinks it’s good.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The Cape itself looks like something you’d want to break off the rest of the state, deep fry and eat during a sunset. The romance of the place is real, and say what you will about the personal tendencies of Boston-area dwellers but Cape Cod is the escape, a separate state-within-a-state forcefielded off by a canal dug into the isthmus (5 times fast) of the peninsula in 1914.
I’ve roped in a co-author for this edition of my donut diary. Luke Pyenson is a terrific drummer, formerly of the strong-chested Boston nautical rockers Krill. Having since moved to London and soon back to the States, I have always admired Luke’s cooking, food writing and human outlook. And he, like me, has roots on Cape Cod.
Before we dive in, lettuce spotlight a mutual friend of Luke’s and mine, Isaac Gillespie and his band the Due Dilligence. Isaac made a music video. For his new song off his new album. The video is relevant. And you shall see why. Go, Isaac Go!
As I drove back from near the far tip of Cape Cod this past June, I stopped at the Hole In One donut shop in Eastham, on the way back to civilization. They are my feature for this edition, however on Luke’s insistence and my easy agreement, Fleming’s Donut Shack shall be included as an equal option in those parts. Fleming’s and Hole In One live on the same road, Route 6, that runs along the entire cape, and moving westward it continues obstruction-free until Bishop, California.
Luke: My strongest Cape Cod memory is actually not a memory that I personally remember, but a story my family has told me/others time and time again. It is obliquely related to food. In between Ballston Beach (our preferred beach) and Long Nook Beach, there is a fabled stretch of sand for those who prefer not to wear bathing attire. A nude beach. When I was young enough that my dad was still carrying me in some sort of contraption on his back, we strayed far enough from whichever of the two beaches we were on that we ended up among the Cape Cod nude beachgoers. Upon zooming in on one of these people, I exclaimed five words to my dad which I have not been able to escape my whole life, “Hot dog, dada, hot dog!”
Adam: I don’t have to tell you that the Cape itself is made out of glacial landforms, carved by a giant advancing and retreating sheet of ice. You know this already. As the land narrows, the beach options are two: bay or ocean. The ocean is wavy, and possibly more crowded. The bay is docile, but nonetheless salty. There are still the dunes. There are still crabs. There are still lots and lots of people a few months out of the year. When it becomes cold, the area goes gray and many businesses close up, the strong-armed residents live their lives with sudden space and the birds fly south.
A lesser known non-glacial fact about the region is that when you, a mainland Massachusetts resident. take a trip to Cape Cod, a native Cape-dweller drives the opposite direction, sleeps in your house, eats your cereal and mows your lawn.
My strongest cape memory: when I was around 10 years old I experienced a classic childhood feeling in the sand. That feeling where fun, where risk, turns into terror. I was buried up to my neck, in a big hole dug by my friends and family. It’s every young man’s dream to be viewed from the outside world as a floating head in the sand. It was going to be hilarious. It was hilarious. We all had a good laugh. And it was time to stop now. Merriam or Webster should get to work on a new word, that means claustrophobic, only with crabs around your ears.
A some-what known non-glacial fact: it’s very easy to quickly to fill in a hole dug by a kid’s sand tools. It’s very hard to quickly dig someone out.
So fun turned upside down and I decided it was time to get out and it wasn’t happening quick enough. And I couldn’t move. At all. I then understood why statues are so mad all the time. As I began thinking about my new life of having my meals brought to me and dumped in the sand and the convoluted pulley-snorkel system we’d have to install for me to survive high tide, and off-duty on-vacation fireman approached our crime scene with a big industrial (read: normal size) shovel in hand, and changed my life forever, returning me to my land-standing future.
Luke: I remember eating my first raw oyster on Cape Cod, at a surprise birthday party for my dad when I was young. I wasn’t so fond of it, but I was a picky eater then. As I gradually began eating more things, I revisited oysters, first in their fried form. I think that’s a better gateway. Now I eat oysters every way I can get them—raw, baked, broiled, even grilled. Still, nothing beats a good fried oyster. Mac’s, a small seafood shack on the pier at Wellfleet harbor, makes a fried oyster po’boy that I have to eat at least once every time I’m on the Cape. You get about six gorgeous fried oysters, served in a griddled sub roll, adorned simply with a spicy mayo condiment. Wellfleet oysters are some of the best in the world, so there’s no need for anything else on the sandwich. I like to get this and an order of Portuguese kale soup, an Outer Cape standby.
Adam: This is without a doubt a land of traditions and a land of slower progressions. Perhaps the 1914 canal slows down technology’s impact on Massachusetts creepy curvy finger, but there’s still spotty cell phone service in most places, internet is a sometimes food, and many a sign, including Fleming’s and Hole In One donuts, are as old fashioned as their best donuts.
The old fashioned donut is a classic cake donut that has it’s cracks memorialized and magnified in the hot oil. Glazed or not, it reigns supreme and seems to taste best when everyone working behind the counter is related. Hole In One fit the mold and I wolfed down two of their donuts as I continued my drive back to New York. The next day I’d start a run of tours that won’t have me home again until September 7th. And without a permanent residence, a killer old fashioned donut will have to do.