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Connections: Unpopular Causes

Wed, 05/13/2020 - 17:38

I have been in a reflective mood as I prepare the last few weekly iterations of this “Connections” column, and as I go over columns from decades past cannot help feeling the stirrings of pride about so many things The Star has done over my decades here.

I am proud of our literary standards when it comes to language, proud of our effort to represent the lives and interests of not just the wealthy and the grand but of the working people who make up the fabric of our community.

I am particularly proud of the good work The Star has done — and continues to do — on our editorial pages in championing the nonpartisan causes of environmentalism, open space, and controls on commercial development. I don’t think I exaggerate when I say that the East End between town Line Road in Wainscott and Montauk Point would look like a very different, and much more suburban, place if The Star had not been holding developers and politicians to account on land use, zoning, and development since way back in the 1960s (when we were a voice crying in the wilderness).

At the dawn of the 1970s, I jumped on the new moniker “Ms.,” making The Star among the first weeklies in the New York Press Association to adopt its use, in addition to old-fashioned Miss or Mrs. This was before Ms. Magazine had even launched.

During my tenure as the editor as well as publisher of The Star, I supported more than a few unpopular causes. You could even say that unpopular causes are my forte.

One that springs to mind is the Hamptons International Film Festival, which I was in favor of, back when it was just a glimmer in the eye of a founding committee, despite the fact that many die-hard village residents feared it would bring unwanted crowds into our quiet October midst.

I was also for a proposed highway bypass, a controversy in the 1980s that would have channeled traffic away from our Main Streets, and along an alternative road that was never built. We’ll never know how that might have panned out, since the popular opinion prevailed, although surely a bypass would have made drive times — and ambulance trips between Montauk and Southampton — shorter and less tense.

Way back in the day, I had something to do with the decision to standardize our look with a Caslon typeface. It still looks good to me today. I continue to pay homage to the classic William Strunk and E.B. White “Elements of Style” and suggest it to any green reporter who arrives at our door.

As I step down from the weekly fray, I will still be editing and writing from time to time, as the spirit takes me, and you can be sure I will still pursue my proudly nit-picky grammatical pet peeves — combating the incorrect use of the words “that” and “which,” arguing over the difference between an “exhibit” and an “exhibition,” and singing the glories of the serial comma.

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