When Lance Tapley described his experience shooting with Maine author Carolyn Chute in the June 16, 2000, issue, there was some question about whether the hulking tome in her living room would ever see bookshelves — "she doesn't know if Harcourt Brace will publish her latest book . . . because it is an epic 2000 pages in typed form. It took six years to write. A copy is in a box by her rocking chair. I lift it. It is about 10 pounds even typed on both sides . . . Her publisher has been sitting on it for a year now." Almost 10 years later, it was; Atlantic Monthly Press published The School on Heart's Content Road last year, to the same curious, tentative, and appreciative reviews as her mid-1980s debut, The Beans of Egypt, Maine.
Tapley's description is still apt: "Carolyn doesn't like being called a 'character,' as in a character in a novel. But unquestionably she is self-invented. She has created her unusual persona, way of life, and politics with as much imagination as she has created the unusual characters in her novels, and there are many similarities. She also lives in the same style she writes: in the present tense . . . staccato . . . humorously, emotionally . . . and she talks with frequent ellipsis and LARGE CAPS."
Steve Rowe's ascension
In 2000, we reported on attorney-general candidate Steve Rowe's then-nascent political career. Lance Tapley described how much Rowe's fellow legislators liked "the quiet, civil, deliberate UnumProvident attorney whom they elected as their leader and with whom they have spent many a long evening wrestling with the slippery legislative snake. Generally, they like Rowe a lot. Even many Republicans like Rowe."
Maybe that's why lawmakers and politicos have given him an easy time when it comes to certain transgressions: his support for stonewalling by government officials (Lance Tapley described Rowe's stance on government openness in "Press Behind Bars," in June 2007), or his refusal to defend the Freedom of Access Act, which gives the public access to crucial documents and information (as Jeff Inglis detailed in an October 2007 article).
Of course, Rowe won the AG's post back in 2000; now, he's readying for a 2010 gubernatorial run. We'll see if Rowe's bipartisan affability continues to persuade Maine voters.
Celebrating commitment, fighting for change
On January 12, 2001, we reported that Austin Franklin Brown Jr., of Gardiner, and Alan Byron Stearns, of Hallowell, were the first same-sex couple to have their commitment ceremony announced in the pages of a Maine newspaper — specifically, the Bangor Daily News.
"'There's a cultural change going on, and this is our way of manifesting it,'" then-executive editor Mark Woodward was quoted as saying. He continued: "'Clearly the precedent has been set.'" The Press Herald, at the time, said they would not publish same-sex wedding announcements until gay marriage was officially recognized by the state legislature.
Tony Giampetruzzi and others have covered GLBTQ social and health issues extensively for the Phoenix over the years. In April 2003, Giampetruzzi told the story of Kael Parker, who was transitioning from biologically female to male. Through Parker's story, the Phoenix explored questions of gender identity and what services were available for transgender people in the Portland area.