Story last updated at 3:03 p.m. Thursday, July 29, 2004

NYT captures Cosmic Hamlet flavor
by Carey James
Staff Writer

photo: news

  Photo by Scott dickerson, Special to the Homer News
Homer appeared last Friday inthe New York Times travel section accompanied by photos by Scott Dickerson, maps and contact information.  
It's not the cover of the Rolling Stones, but the travel page of the New York Times will do just fine for Homer area businesses mentioned in last Friday's profile on the Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea.

Written by former Homer resident Maria Finn Dominguez, the article featured several photos by local camera-wielder Scott Dickerson, as well as information about area dining and activity options.

In the article, Dominguez describes Homer as a "funky, dynamic town that is a bit eccentric even by Alaskan standards," with a view from the top of Baycrest Hill that "stops you dead."

The article goes on to describe what one could do if they had 36 hours in the community, including places to stay, eat and have adventures, along with maps, information on getting here and contact information for every business mentioned.

Among the Homer and Kachemak Bay businesses and organizations included in the article are the Saltry, Two Sisters Bakery, True North Kayak Adventures, Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies, Kachemak Bay Flying Service, the Homestead Restaurant, and Mark Marette's Trails End Horse Adventures.

Open just over a year, the Cosmic Kitchen's cuisine got favorable play in the column, though its segment was more about the restaurant's connection with the late Brother Asaiah, a Homer sage, as the writer described him, who coined the description of Homer as the Cosmic Hamlet by the Sea.

For co-owner Sean Hogan, however, a chance to be known by the more than a million New York Times readers was great.

"We are really thrilled about it," Hogan said. "We are honored to be mentioned as one of the places in Homer to go to and we'll keep on doing what we do."

Photos of the Homer Spit as well as activities such as horse riding, hiking and kayaking were featured in the full-page article.

Dickerson, a local graduate in his early 20s who has launched a photography and graphic design business called Photism, said he got the freelance job with the auspicious newspaper through a referral from the Anchorage Daily News with which he has worked in the past. The New York Times called him two weeks ago and sent him on an all-expenses-paid weekend of activities to provide the photos for the story.

"It was great," Dickerson said. "I got to be a tourist for the whole weekend."

Dominguez, who worked in Homer fishing and doing other odd jobs less than a decade ago, expressed a similar sentiment.

The writer actually came to town last year to work on the story for Lexus Mag-azine, a publication sent to people who purchase the high-end vehicles.

Selling the article to the New York Times was a bit of a stretch, she said, because the section Escapes typically highlights weekend getaways for overworked New Yorkers.

"Homer's not exactly a weekend getaway," she said. "But I said it could be if you lived in Seattle or Anchorage."

Though the article was a tough sell, convincing people in the Lower 48 to come to a place like Homer is not, she said.

"Alaska is such a resource," she said.

A resource she hopes maintains its movement toward embracing ecotourism as an industry.

"No one wants to travel 5,000 miles to see an oil rig," she said.

Dominguez said she and her husband got to do some amazing things while in town working on the story, like eating one night at the Saltry and the next at the Homestead Restaurant.

"It really was the greatest week," she said. "I got to do things I never got to do as a resident."

Ironically, the freelance journalist who has written several articles for the Times said she tried to get a job with the Homer News as a clerk at one point, but failed the typing test.

"I said, 'Oh well, I'm going to graduate school then,'" she said.

Homer Chamber of Commerce Director Derotha Ferraro said the article was wonderful coverage for the community, though it hasn't yet produced a flood of calls from people with distinctly New York accents.

The community has been featured in many leading papers and magazines in the past, including the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Francisco Times, Ferraro said.

Homer was even featured in the New York Times a decade ago as one of the top 100 best small art towns in the United States.

"It gets our name out there," Ferraro said. "It's really neat for a town our size to be recognized around the country."