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Farewell to a Cape Original

Damien Palanza - Damien Palanza


I sat waiting. Not sure who I was waiting for. But I waited. At a relatively empty Quahog Republic in Falmouth, seated at a table in the rear of the restaurant facing the door. When someone would come in– which wasn’t often, this being a November evening, three years ago - I wondered if that was him.

He (or him) went by Hippie. The week prior we had exchanged emails; I had hoped to interview him about his fledgling website known as The Real Cape for The Falmouth Enterprise. When I had originally pitched the idea to my editor, he initially balked, arguing that the site was competition. I laughed, explaining that The Enterprise would never publish the type of raw, brutally honest and strongly opinionated content that was being generated by The Real Cape.

And so I had an assignment, though after several emails back and forth with this mystery man I only knew as Hippie, I still had no idea who I would be interviewing. Or if he would even show up.

He eventually did, more than 30 minutes after we had agreed to meet (side note: I find it hilarious he did the same to Glitter Ginger). And that was my first real introduction to Damien Palanza, the heart and soul of The Real Cape who sadly passed away on Sunday.

I won’t pretend that I knew him well, but reading his work made me feel like I did. And that’s how many people felt. The Real Cape was water cooler talk not just for the townies, but for all of us. Damien wrote from his heart even if it meant hurting the feelings of his readers, especially the fun police and fans of piping plovers.

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Yes, he was edgy and controversial, but he also cared about this place he called home, placing it under a microscope because he understood what the Cape is and what it could be. He took chances. He had fun with it. And he did something that had never been done before by the local media.

When I interviewed Damien, he acknowledged there were some who took offense to his posts. His response? “I come back to that quote, I don’t know who said it, but ‘life doesn’t cease to be funny in serious times and it doesn’t cease to be serious in times of laughter.’ Just because it is a serious subject doesn’t mean you can’t laugh at it.”

Thank you, Damien, for making us laugh, for making us think and for making us look at life, and Cape Cod, in your own unique loving way.

A visitation will be held this Sunday, July 10, from 3-7 pm, at Chapman Cole & Gleason Funeral Home at 475 Main Street in Falmouth. A burial service will take place at St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Monday, July 11 at 11 am followed by a Celebration of Life at the Coonamessett Inn at 311 Gifford Street, Falmouth. For those who have pictures of Damien, please email them to Ben at ben@benshotme.com for the memorial.