Been a Fixture
December 27, 2020
Body Tech Fitness in Amagansett is about to lose its lease at 249 Main Street. What a damned shame this is! Body Tech has been a fixture here for more than 30 years. It has been owned and operated by Mike Bahel for the past 20 years. Mike and the gym have served our diverse community well. Now, just when the gym is recovering from the pandemic, and members are returning and membership growing, the building owner is quite literally pulling the rug out from under him!
The building owner is East Hampton Town Justice Lisa Rana. What does she have in mind? To bring in another high-end apparel shop? Perhaps another high-end “home” store? It is unlikely to remain a gym under different tenancy. That would be grossly unfair to Mr. Bahel, if not downright unethical on the part of the building owner.
I encourage everyone reading this to stop in at Body Tech Amagansett or Montauk, and sign the petitions in support of Mike and the gym. Perhaps we can change the owner’s mind.
Season of Giving
December 21, 2020
Dear Mr. Rattray,
It’s the season of giving, isn’t it? We had #GivingTuesday, which I think began a couple years ago as a response to the blatant commercialism of Black Friday. So the Tuesday after Thanksgiving we’re encouraged to do what we can for those in need, whether through the local food pantry or coat drive, or the worldwide organizations: Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, UNICEF, etc. The appeals started pouring into our mail and email boxes early this year. It was 10 months ago when businesses, hospitals, the medical supply chain, artists, musicians, performers desperately needed . . . well you remember, don’t you? We all do. Giving Tuesday could have been assigned to every week since then, and into the new year. Add to that the appeals from candidates from both parties this election cycle -- overwhelming!
I came a bit late to one party this year, a musical event imagined and produced by Nancy Atlas, in partnership with the Stephen Talkhouse, called “The Friday Night Hustle.” The idea was to record and videotape live performances by local artists and present a telecast every Friday night for six weeks. There would be a pay-per-view admission with all proceeds going to the performing musicians and the staff of the Talkhouse, who’ve been unable to share their artistry and hospitality with us for nearly a year and thus, unable to earn their livings.
Promos for “The Friday Night Hustle” just sort of rolled by my scrolling eyes on Facebook, until my friend Ric Kallaher posted a rave review of Episode 6, the "Christmas Episode." I thought about Nancy, and Peter Honerkamp of the Talkhouse, and the dozens, maybe hundreds of benefit events for local families and causes she’s played and he’s hosted over the years, keeping not one dollar of the proceeds for themselves. And decided, kind of matter-of-factly, Okay, I’ll sign up and see what kind of "hustle" Nancy and the crew came up with. On Saturday night I opened my MacBook on the coffee table, and Mary and I dined to the show.
There are many exuberant expletives I could use right now, Mr. Rattray, but none would fit the spirit of the "holly jolly" season. So how 'bout if I don’t and just say that we were blown away by the sound, the video, the performances, and the heart and soulfulness of the entire production. And, yes, a bit of humor tossed in, like sugar and spice -- well what would you expect from legends of the bar, Larry and Phil?
We were stunned. The sound was as good as anything from a Grammy Awards broadcast. The musicianship and vocals, that combination of perfect and loose that a live performance brings. The Talkhouse stage strung with holiday lights, everyone in festive attire -- you felt like you were in the room with the performers, about to order another drink. But there was no crowd noise or clinking glasses. You could hear every note and part. Oh right, the Talkhouse is closed, and we’re watching from home.
Episode 6 performers included Nancy Atlas Project, of course, and Klyph Black, Inda Eaton, Gene Casey, Kate Usher and the Sturdy Souls, Sarah Conway, Lynn Blue, Bosco Michne and the Unsung Heroes, and Phil Vega doing, um, an "interpretation" of “Feliz Navidad.” With messages of good wishes and cheer sent in from Alec Baldwin, zydeco legend Terrence Simien, Jorma, Simon Kirke of Bad Company and Free, and of course Peter Honerkamp who, with the help of Jeremy Dennis, a Native American researcher, gave us some actual history of the legendary figure known as Stephen Talkhouse. Perfect.
The quality of the production I spoke of -- there are many reasons for that beyond the awesome performances. Nancy also let me know that the “Hustle” project would not have been possible without the generosity of the sponsors whose contributions made it possible for all revenue from ticket sales to go directly to the performing musicians and the staff of the Talkhouse, who look forward to seeing us live and in person, in front of the stage, as soon as the fates allow. Still looking for a stocking stuffer? You’ll find ticket information for “The Friday Night Hustle” at nancyatlas.com. Oh, and here’s a little something else Nancy’s putting under your tree: A “Best of the Hustle” show is being crafted together for a New Year’s Eve broadcast. So sign up, pop the cork, and have yourself a merry listening party!
Happy new (improved) year to all.
Now Is the Time
December 28, 2020
All East Hampton Town residents should be alarmed by the looming prospect of Wainscott's being incorporated as a village. Efforts to call for an early Spring 2021 vote on incorporation are underway. Under New York law, only those who live in the would-be village will get to vote. Other town residents will be adversely affected by Wainscott's secession, but they will not be heard at the polls. So, now is the time -- before the vote -- for East Hampton residents to speak out against the incorporation. There are good reasons to do so.
Incorporation is the brainchild of a group of Beach Lane, Wainscott, residents who want at all costs to stymie the South Fork Wind Project and its plan to land a transmission cable in their neighborhood. They call themselves Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, but the more apt moniker would be "Citizens for the Privatization of Wainscott."
It is not at all clear that incorporation will block the cable, but it is clear it will have other, serious and adverse collateral consequences. For example, incorporated Wainscott would control its beaches. The proponents of incorporation have made clear that their new village will require nonresidents to purchase permits if they want to park at those beaches. They expect to reap $66,000 a year in sticker fees. Space is already limited, and there is no reason to be confident that the new, exclusive village would not eventually consider reducing parking space further. But reduce capacity or not, the incorporators plan in 2021 to take free beach access from 80 homeowners in the current hamlet of Wainscott as well as scores of families in Northwest and elsewhere in the town. The exclusion would put pressure on the Amagansett beaches and could easily lead to Amagansett residents' thinking about how they might restrict beach access. Falling dominos. It's bad enough that town residents cannot easily use East Hampton Village's beautiful beaches, but just think of our town becoming one in which you cannot use the beach unless you live in an exclusive ocean-front village enclave.
Beach access is just one aspect of the Balkanization that Wainscott's incorporation bodes. Wealth and high property values are concentrated along the ocean beachfront. Over time, an incorporated Wainscott could easily decide that the town's services are inadequate and that Wainscott should build its own infrastructure or join with a rich neighbor such as East Hampton Village to develop a whiter-glove alternative to what East Hampton Town supplies. If that were to happen, Wainscott residents would see their tax bills rise, but much of the long-term cost would be borne by the rest of East Hampton which would inevitably see its tax base eroded, its shared infrastructure hollowed out, its north-south wealth division hardened.
Proponents of incorporation will likely sneer at such speculation, call it scare tactics, but if incorporation proceeds, a course will have been set, and there will be little that we as town residents will be able do to protect against such eventualities.
Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc has a limited, but critical, role in the incorporation process. He is, by law, required to scrutinize the proponents' petition to assure that it meets the strict requirements of the Village Law. I am sure he will do that, and I am equally sure that incorporation proponents will attack him for merely doing his job. East Hampton Town residents should stand up for Supervisor Van Scoyoc and let him know ([email protected]) that they fully support him and support keeping East Hampton together.
Wainscott United (wainscottunited.org) has been formed to oppose incorporation. One way to better assure the future of the town is to support its efforts. Residents should also write letters to The Star and to members of the town board, talk to their friends and neighbors to encourage a public outcry against secession, against fragmentation of the town.
JOHN H. HALL
Behind Their Hedges
December 27, 2020
Having received the latest packet from the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, containing the obvious calculation distortions, one has to wonder if the so-called consultants used the same calculator that underestimated the original by more than 50 percent.
Considering the monstrous deficit that New York and Suffolk County are under, we will be swamped with the tax increases. With the costs of basics rising weekly it adds another layer of expenditures for everyone. Yet not one word of concern for those of us seniors on fixed incomes or the hard-working families who live here, too, who are just trying to stay above water. We don’t need or want another layer of a taxing authority.
Our town tax bill was just mailed, and there is also an increase -- no mention of that at all. These taxes will remain, as the wizards of finance want to pay double for the services we already pay for. Brilliant or brain-dead? Should I go to the food store and tell the cashier I want you to charge me double the price tag? They omit the police cost -- for five top-tier officers to staff one patrol car is over a million dollars.
The secrecy C.P.W. hides behind is telling. Let the masses be damned. They refuse to name the checkbook-holders who have paid the consultants and the gaggle of lawyers. They hide behind their hedges in their “Boss Tweed” outfits and act as if they are reincarnated robber barons or Don Quixote.
Their real agenda is obvious and it is strictly the cable that is coming down their little pee butt Beach Lane. So their teeth are on fire to ram this through, hijacking every citizens committee meeting with their Zoom farce that eliminates added dissent from those who work or do not have the Zoom capabilities or the time to waste. How devious is this attempt?
Of course they and the talking heads didn’t walk the streets in court jester costumes, where the deplorables live. Knock on their doors and tell them, “We have decided, Yer out! We had to draw the line somewhere!” So find yourself another beach or pay the fee, as you are banned and are not worthy to be included. As I mentioned before, who with blatant arrogance anointed the Edlichs and their little Sharpie to abolish a 350-year-old hamlet boundary line to disenfranchise 85 homes? Whose families will be denied the basic right to vote on this debacle?
The C.P.W., whose secret checkbooks paid for all the litigation, as they are the plaintiffs, stand ready with quivers of lawsuits as if they were arrows. They lie by omission, in that the litigation costs initiated will now list the incorporated village of Wainscott as plaintiffs. That is, the taxpayer who will be buried by the millions of litigation costs.
Stop trying to ram this down our throats with your devious, self-serving scam. That cable is a done deal, so fund it yourself and leave us alone. Here is a quarter to call someone who gives a damn about your scam.
ARTHUR J. FRENCH
December 27, 2020
Dear Mr. Rattray,
I read with interest this week’s editorial entitled “What Now, Republicans?” While certainly Democrats have reason to gloat about the election of their standard-bearer, Joe Biden, I would suggest that rumors of the death of the loyal opposition -- namely the Republican Party -- though convenient, are entirely premature. Consider this time capsule from The Washington Times newspaper from 2008: “In short, the Republican Party faces an identity crisis of its own making and a profound voter backlash that began in 2006. But even at this late stage, there is time to avert disaster. We urge party leaders to chart a winning course for 2008.” As the French are fond of saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same!
As for the true importance of Jennifer Horn’s resignation from the Republican Party, several observations seem appropriate:
This was hardly unexpected, especially given that it comes on the heels of President Trump having been endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans, a national L.G.B.T.Q. organization of which she was a board member. Let us remember that while President Obama talked a good game, it was Trump who appointed the first openly gay ambassador, Rick Grenell.
In the long run, good riddance. As noted conservative essayist Mollie Hemingway put it: “It is really stunning that it is Donald Trump, someone that the media have painted as a racist, racial demagogue, who is managing this transformation of the Republican Party toward a more multiracial, working-class party.” The phrase “lead, follow, get out of the way” seems quite apropos here.
There is no need for RINOs in the party, whether it be Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Lisa Murkowski, or Jennifer Horn. In the long run, the name Jennifer Horn having been the siren call of the moment for those Democrats seeking to blame Trump will most likely have the same importance over time as Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, John Bolton, or my personal favorite, Michael Avenatti -- all Deanna Durbins of the modern era.
Let me suggest that Democrats would do well to concentrate on setting an example of excellence, rather than wallow in the game of blaming Republicans, and especially Donald Trump, for what they perceive to be the ills of the world. It would also seem that this would be an excellent time for the media to rise from their lately claimed status as muckrakers that rival the supermarket tabloids of the 1960s to again being (unbiased) disseminators of news rather than acting as political activists. To quote the soon-to-be-dead Rush Limbaugh: “What this country needs is a highly educated electorate; what it has now is a highly impressioned electorate.”
Whether there is life for the Republican Party post Nov. 3, 2020, the Democrats have but 681 days (as of today, Dec. 27) to prove they do not or just perhaps face a tsunami.
JAMES R. WELDON
December 24, 2020
December is an incredible month. First, we start with the extraordinary story of the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, known as the Festival of Lights, from Dec. 10 through 17. Against incredible odds in the Second Century, a group of Jewish rebel warriors, the Maccabees, led a revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Miraculously the Maccabees were able to drive their oppressors out of Jerusalem. During the Second Temple’s rededication in Jerusalem, there was just one day's worth of holy oil. Miraculously the oil lasted eight days to keep the temple’s menorah lighted.
Second, on Dec. 25, we celebrate Christmas to remember the birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Christmas is a time of giving, forgiveness, and compassion for your fellow man. I believe the meaning of Christmas is best summed up in the Bible, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Lastly, we get to say goodbye to 2020 and hello to 2021; 2020 was a trying and challenging year for many. We experienced the miracle of life through our children, the sorrow for losing family and friends, the hardships of illness, and the difficulties of earning an income. But through it all, for many of us, our faith in God, the love and compassion that are the fabric of our community, and the many life lessons learned helped each of us be better people and despite our sorrows no worse for the wear.
Let us make 2021 a year to apply the lessons learned in Hanukkah and Christmas when we do the impossible and defeat the enemy. Let’s so love the fellow man that we each give of ourselves. Check on your elderly neighbor who may not be able to get out. Please support our local food banks and organizations that help those who are financially troubled.
Lastly, let us do away with those unsightly lawn signs on a political note and donate the money spent to our local charities that help feed our families in need.
To all on behalf of the East Hampton Town Republican Committee and East Hampton Republicans, we wish all a safe and happy holiday full of family, good health, and prosperity for the new year.
East Hampton Town Republican Committee
December 28, 2020
Thank you, Nancy Pelosi, for all the pork, pork, some bacon, and more pork, in the 6,000-page package, more debt added for our children and grandchildren to pay back, tons of money going to foreign countries, museums, more of everything, very little to do with Covid-19. This was supposed to be a clean bill. Thank you, Pelosi, for showing your hatred to the Americans that are desperate for help. Where is the small business help? Where is help for the poor who have nothing right now, no unemployment money, no food no help, desperately begging, many suicidal, while you show off your $24,000 freezer filled with gourmet ice cream?
So let's see, Pakistan gets $250 million for economic aid, $15 billion for grant programs for live entertainment, $700 million for Sudan, $10 million for gender programs, etc., etc. It goes on and on for countries that hate us. Who in the name of God thought these things up? Covid, remember we the people need help.
If we are going to get rid of the hate, we should stop the four-column hateful, name-calling articles. The Dems have tried thousands of times accusing Trump of scheming to rid Social Security, he answered that many times. He would not and has no plans of doing away with it. This was planted in the media by the liberals. Seniors fell for it, thanks to the media.
The campaign manager should do something about her language calling G.O.Ps [explicative]. I live in this town. I'm a proud American. I do not like Trump for many reasons, but I believe he was good for the country. He did more than any other president for the country, but the hate shown to him, impeachments daily, so much more lying. Let's talk lying Adam Schaffer and the Chinese friend Swalwell. He didn't stop making statements about proof he had that Trump was a Russian spy. Next Hunter Biden, plenty to say you think?
Both sides have their skeletons.
In God and country,
December 27, 2020
If you grew up in the 1950s, baseball was the thing. No other sport captured the imagination like baseball. In New York we had the Yankees, the Dodgers, and the Giants. Baseball was everywhere. It was everything. Everybody knew baseball. Had a favorite team. Had an opinion. After school we’d rush to the playground with bats and balls to play or to listen to the games often simulcast on the radio. When television arrived, we lived for October and the World Series, and there was almost always a N.Y. team playing. It was called the “national pastime.”
Baseball was life, and life was sometimes baseball, but not for everyone. For people of color, and most Jews, baseball was a reminder that in the American society they were second-class citizens and sometimes not even that.
As kids we never thought about the other players except for how good or bad they were. We were essentially unconscious about color or race or religion or just never paid much attention to it. We never thought that the Black kids never played in the same playground that we did.
This week Major League Baseball decided to elevate the Negro baseball leagues to the same level as professional baseball. When NPR did a feature about it, John Yang interviewed ESPN’s Howard Bryant and was taken aback when Bryant wasn’t ecstatic or welcoming of the gesture Major League Baseball just made. His most salient point was that the league destroyed those Black players by not allowing them to play in the white league and obligating them to play only with other Blacks.
M.L.B. allowed its first Black player in 1948. Up to that time Black baseball players could go to war and die for their country but they couldn’t play baseball on the same fields as white players. Baseball, a simple kids game, not sex, not marriage, not working together or living in the same neighborhoods, just a bloody game. But white America wouldn’t let it happen. "Over our dead bodies," Black players were told. Which really meant over their dead bodies.
So, when we think a little bit about Black Lives Matter with our self-righteous Christian bullshit about violence in the cities, we need to try and imagine the violence that was perpetrated on these Black baseball players, just normal, good, Christian American values. They didn’t want our wives, our jobs, our money; they just wanted to play ball with us. What an effing crime that was.
Their crime was the color of their skin, which by the laws of the land defined them as being guilty, perpetually guilty, historically guilty, guilty because life dealt them a bad hand. Yet, guilt is a sickness. People who do things out of guilt will always turn inside out. Guilt is a weird poison with no antidote.
The gesture by Major League Baseball seems okay on the surface, but it doesn’t redress the problem. Doesn’t assuage guilt. Doesn’t provide a lifeline to the players who are already dead or their surviving relatives. Wow, a plaque in the Hall of Fame is worth a dozen Baby Ruth bars.
We think of the damage as an unpleasant metaphor of the period. We bear no responsibility. If racism is not systemic what does anyone want from us?
So, baseball in all its simplicity, a game played with a bat and a ball, devoid of all social or political baggage, the image of America in all its essential glory explains and formalizes the entire issue of systemic racism. The absolute normality of the Negro leagues lays it out so simply and clearly that all discussion about the validity of systemic racism stops there.
Major League Baseball is owed a debt of gratitude for clarifying the question of systemic racism in our country for the past 400 years.