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Letters to the Editor for August 25, 2022

Thu, 08/25/2022 - 13:30

Culture It Creates
    August 21 2022
Dear David,
    There is so much talk these days about how the character of the East End has been ruined by too much money, too much development, too much traffic, and too little attention to the qualities that made this region special that it is easy to overlook the great things that we still have -- and that some things may be even better than they once were. 
    I am thinking particularly of our heritage as a center for the visual arts. True, the era of Pollock and de Kooning and Lee Krasner and Costantino Nivola and Roy Lichtenstein is long past. But the arts still flourish here, and in some ways their local presence is stronger than ever. The other day I visited the extraordinary exhibition of three truly great local artists, Toni Ross, Bastienne Schmidt, and Alice Hope, at the Amagansett Life-Saving Station, where their site-specific works combined with the setting and architecture of this historic building to create multiplicity of powerful aesthetic experiences. This exhibition, organized by Guild Hall, was new art of the highest order, and it was created here, by artists who take their inspiration from this place, just as their predecessors did. 
    Afterward I saw the exhibition "Threading the Needle" at The Church in Sag Harbor, which is an event of sweeping ambition and astonishing quality, terms that describe not only this show but The Church itself, which in a short time has become a vital cultural resource. It's another great example of the very best kind of local creativity, in which the imagination and philanthropy of the artists April Gornik and Eric Fischl have been combined with the architectural skill of Lee Skolnick. 
    And then there is Onna House in Georgica, where Lisa Perry has restored Paul Lester Wiener's Scull House and turned this mid-century modern gem into a unique center for the display of the work of women artists. 
    All three of these places -- the Amagansett Life-Saving Station, The Church, and Onna House -- have rescued key pieces of our architectural heritage and turned them into new and meaningful institutions that are already enriching this community.
    Yes, there is too much development and too much traffic and too much money now. But if you can measure a place not only by how much culture it consumes but by how much serious culture it creates, the East End still matters as much as ever. 

Who Walks Along 27
    August 19, 2022
Dear David:
    My daughter, Atlas, and I would like to give a shout-out to the cheerful fellow who walks along 27 from somewhere in Montauk to at least the Clam Bar (and back?) every morning. My daughter's first summer job has required my driving her from Springs to Montauk around 7:45 a.m. on weekdays, and we could set our watches based on where the fellow -- a lighter skinned middle-aged gentleman with reddish hair and his signature vertically striped shirt with primary colors and often black too --- was along his route. 
    If he was anywhere near Hither Hills that meant Atlas was late to work. Up by the lookout? We were on time. By August, we honked and waved to him at each passing, and he would graciously smile and wave back. 
    Today is Atlas's last day at work, and so I'd like to send our admiration to the gentleman for his commitment to his fitness or his destination or whatever took him on our route every day. He helped wake up a sleepy teenager for her workday and gave us a positive way to start our day. We'd love to know your story, sir! Please write back to The Star. 
    (In the white S.U.V.)

Our Maralyn
    August 21, 2022
Dear Editor:
    I was so sad to hear that my wonderful friend and neighbor Maralyn Rittenour passed away last Thursday at 84 years  old. She was such a dynamo! Full of life. Always ready for a travel adventure anywhere in the world. Tennis, anyone? She was good to go. Book club, garden club, bridge club, dog sitting, volunteering, attending and giving dinner parties. That was our Maralyn. 
    When she was widowed for the second time about 12 years ago, a casual friend remarked to Maralyn that without her husband her social life would evaporate and she would have long, lonely days ahead. How wrong that "friend" was. Maralyn really showed us how to buck up and live life to the fullest. 
    While the rest of us may have bemoaned the fact that we were in lockdown due to Covid, Maralyn, kind of on the sly, managed to pound out a 334-page autobiography: "Thursday's Child: One Woman's Journey to Seven Continents" -- and it was terrific -- as was her life.

Gifts of Nature
    August 22, 2022
Dear Editor,
    It was so nice to read On the Wing "The Hummingbird's Secret" by Christopher Gangemi.
    A while back, I had the pleasure of a hummingbird visit attracted by the flowering plant on my deck. It was fascinating to watch the little one hover and feed from the flowers. As it was, the bird returns every season -- how does it remember? 
    The hummer now flies to the purple-flowered butterfly plant, too, in my overgrown garden. When he appears, I stop everything to view him from my kitchen window. I truly believe Jesus sent him to cheer me up. What a wonderful gift.
    This year, I caught a butterfly landing in our bird box. When he flew in and didn't fly out, I quietly watched. I was given the gift of watching him use his tiny proboscis to suck out the nectar from a piece of watermelon. I watched the box; he worked on it for over 10 minutes. Amazing! When I checked again, he was gone, but the watermelon showed the tiniest piece missing from where he fed. 
    So now it's seeds for the birds, fruit for the butterfly, and leave the flowers growing wild for the hummer. I surely love the gifts of nature.

Be Bold
    August 22, 2022
To the Editor:
    Recently I came upon a local indie author and must share her delightful informative talk about "The Bitter End," her latest novel, at Ashawagh Hall's Meet the Author series last Wednesday night. Nanci LaGarenne has written three books and awaits publication of her fourth novel. She is fully dedicated to her craft and loves writing about her dreamt-up adventures of Montauk, enmeshed with colorful local true-life characters. 
    Nanci engaged her audience for an hour, reading a bit, making us laugh, while teaching us about Montauk's environmental history, intertwining it with her passion for saving our sole-source aquifer. To do all this and weave a murder mystery in one book is quite a feat, in my eyes, and she does it effortlessly. 
    Nanci encouraged wannabe writers to go for it: "Just begin tomorrow. Write down your thoughts, observations, get out and take a small notebook with you. Be bold in your writing. And have fun." I cannot say enough about this writer who will one day surely catch the attention of the publishing gods and be on the best-seller list. How lucky are we to have her in our community! 

Europe on Fire
    East Hampton
    August 12, 2022
Dear Mr. Rattray, 
    To the people who live with greed, this letter will be meaningless, but hear me out. 
    Europe is on fire, they have not had rain for four months. The leaves are turning brown and dropping off like October. In my niece's exquisite garden everything is dead. The hydrangeas, the roses, the vegetables, all gone. This is a tragedy. Beware, America. 
    O England, my fair England, what have we done to you?
    101 years old

Gospel of Wealth
    East Hampton
    August 22, 2022
Dear David
    As the seasons turn, turn, turn, and summer winds down, the frenzy of benefits, charity functions, galas, political fund-raisers, silent auctions, philanthropic gestures, etc., begins to subside -- much as the summer breezes inevitably begin to cool. The strutting, priming, privileging, self-indulgence, self-promotion also begins to wane.
    Don't get me wrong -- I've attended and enjoyed some of these functions over the 35-plus years I've been living here part time in this beautiful part of the world. Many of the people involved are wonderful, gracious, well-meaning souls. 
    But, over the years, I've also noticed an increasing desperation in the conditions among those groups that many of these private and individual charity efforts are supposed to help and ameliorate. I've wondered why.
    I began to get part of the answer by reading Andrew Carnegie -- of all people -- a major 19th-century industrialist, robber baron, and one of the richest Americans and philanthropists in our history. 
    In 1889 he began his essay on wealth by writing: "The problem of our age is the proper administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together the rich and poor in harmonious relationship." 
    He concludes his article by saying, "Thus is the problem of Rich and Poor to be solved. The laws of accumulation will be left free; the laws of distribution free. Individualism will continue, but the millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor; entrusted for a season with a part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it could or would have done for itself." 
    "Such, in my opinion, is the true Gospel concerning Wealth, obedience to which is destined some day to solve the problem of the Rich and the Poor, and to bring "Peace on earth, among men Good-Will."
    There are limits to private charity and individual good works in terms of resolving structural issues facing the great majority of us. It doesn't follow -- as Calvin Coolidge believed -- that the chief business of America is business and government should be automatically business-friendly to their interests. Many of the C.E.O.s, captains of industry and finance, the managers, professionals, artists, writers, and celebrities who have found their way out to our beautiful neck of the woods should have this conversation and confront how their actions and policies might be perpetuating the rationalization for a gospel of greed -- here in East Hampton and around the world. 

Will Stop You
    East Hampton
    August 21, 2022
Dear David,
    Life in a small town, which this place is, is just lovely and quietly breathable most of the time, bar summer, and yet, still, look where we live! We're okay, yes? Have you ever just looked at the beauty around us? Come on, it ain't Coney Island, man. It's quiet mostly, bar the planes landing in East Hampton and flying over the 'hood, our woods. The chock-a-block roads and bumper-to-bumper traffic anytime from June to September, ugh, but, Bubs, we ought to be grateful. This, too, shall pass. 
    That said, how does it look this beautiful? Careful vigilance, good government, concerned citizens -- you don't like that? Go UpIsland or to the Jersey Shore. We aren't turning ourselves inside out for your whims and desire to overbuild or be flown out in your private jets and helicopters. Puhleeze, we're over it. 
    We live here all of the time; you breeze in and out and sometimes leave residue behind. Garbage, fuel exhaust, rudeness, impatience, and your speeding Porsches and sports cars are so boring and unwanted. Slow the flip down, man. You aren't getting anywhere faster than one little road can take you. Live as the locals do, or bye-bye. 
    Okay, you won your private beach (that ain't over yet, bro). You're flying some rich dude in and out of Montauk; we'll see that end one day, too. And now you think you're going to build an industrial complex in Wainscott? Hah! Right on top of the fragile ecosystem and our sole-source aquifer that the hideous sand mine polluted the drinking water in already? There? Nope. It doesn't belong out here and we won't stand for it. We need affordable housing, not more businesses. The same way Hilda Lindley stopped the moguls and old money from trying to overdevelop and ruin Montauk way back when and pollute the waters, we will stop you. This is not your playground or moneymaker. 
    When people cannot live in harmony with nature and have safe roads and clean water, then it's time to stop the nonsense. Come and relax, swim, sunbathe, eat, catch a fish, go see art and hear about books locals write, listen to our great local bands, visit friends and family, but for goodness' sake, stop trying to make this spit of land what it was never meant to be, some three-ring circus or someplace unrecognizable to those who love it and are dug in. 

Wainscott Commercial
    August 22, 2022
Dear David,
    What good news it was to read the following in Chris Walsh's article on the Coalition to Stop the Wainscott Commercial Center (Aug. 18): "David Eagan, an attorney representing the property's owner, the Tintle family, said in [a] statement yesterday that the family . . . 'strongly agrees with the coalition's call for the East Hampton Town Board's purchase of a substantial portion of the 70-acre site in furtherance of the Wainscott hamlet plan.' " 
    So, happily, it seems the coalition and the owners are aligned in their hopes for seeing the "Pit," as the property is fondly known, redeveloped according to the concept mapped out in the town's hamlet study. While it remains to be determined what constitutes "substantial" as well as a purchase price -- not insubstantial, but not insurmountable, hurdles -- the will of the people is there. The town board should take its cue from this and forge ahead to realize this ambitious and admirable goal.

Blue Light
    August 20, 2022
Dear David,
    The problem with the planned LED streetlight replacement is not that they are too bright (which they are), but that they are too high in blue light waves. Blue light, indicated by Kelvin, is very detrimental to our health, vision, and to flora and fauna, not to mention greater skyglow.
    I've given ample proof to the town board that the specifications for the New York Power Authority project are too high in blue light waves and in wattage and that there is a viable alternative. 
    But it also concerns me greatly that there does not seem to be any effort to review the current inventory to be sure that certain streetlights are proven to provide a public benefit before being retrofitted with (expensive) LEDs. 
    The town board has received letters of support for the lower-blue light LEDs from a number of organizations, civic groups, and individuals. I hope these messages are getting through to them. 
    Thank you,

Dismissive Remarks
    East Hampton village
    August 11, 2022
Dear David, 
    The village board meeting held in July was a disgrace. Jerry, your arrogance and your dismissive remarks that you made to Maureen Bluedorn were an embarrassment to the position you hold. 
    This was a public meeting, and based on that, Ms. Bluedorn had the right to speak and not be cut off when questioning the responsibilities of the design review board, the overdue status regarding the comprehensive plan, and the reasons for an aesthetics committee. Ms. Bluedorn, as well as other village residents, had the right to air her concerns, as well as an educated response from you or any other board member. Instead, when you were unable to answer these questions, she was quickly and arrogantly dismissed. 
    When you targeted your second-home owners in getting trustees Doyle and Amaden elected, you said that you were now going to work as a community and be more transparent, something you have been admonished on. I would have hoped that you, as the elected mayor, would have realized that no matter who was on the board of trustees, you were supposed to be working together as a community and be transparent, both of which you clearly did not do. 
    Jerry, this is not about having "your" people in place -- this is about working with whoever is on the board for all village residents, old, young, rich, poor, second-home owners, and year-round residents. What is transparent is who you are working for and catering to. 

Easily Prevented
    August 21, 2022
To the Editor:
    The shocking, heartbreaking news about a 12-year-old Little League World Series player, Easton Oliverson, being almost killed by a preventable fall from a Little League-provided dormitory upper bunk bed that left him in critical condition in a medically-induced coma because of a punctured brain artery that required the removal of a piece of his skull, prompted me to visit the Little League's official website.
    Its extensive website brags about its "ASAP: a Safety Awareness Program," calls itself "pacesetters in youth sports safety." talks about its "efforts to create a safe and healthy environment for its players both on and off the field," states that the "safety and well-being of all participants in the Little League program is paramount," includes a "concussion focus on protecting the health, safety and welfare of children," and even recommends that all of their leagues "have back guard rails and side-rails on their (taller) bleachers"!
    Yet the upper bunk beds that parents trust their sleeping/unconscious/dreaming/tossing-and-turning children to sleep in while playing in the Little League World Series do not have comparable side rail protection? 
    This demonstrates disgusting and outrageous hypocrisy on the part of Little League officials who could and should have prevented this easily preventable near-death tragedy.

Criminal Movement
    North Haven
    August 22, 2022
Dear David: 
    The media continues to  interview politicians who claim to represent Republican opinions, when, in fact, these trolls represent what's left of the criminal movement of Trumpism. The Republican Party was long ago taken over by this intimidating movement of authoritarian insurrectionists. They continue scheming to take over our democracy using lies and deception, as well as outright unlawful acts. If there are any remaining sane and honest G.O.P. members, this is the moment for truth to be told. Without it, democracy may be lost.
    At the local level we still see many people holding desperately to conspiracy theories and boldface lies, trying to support their bigoted, fact-free opinions. Our own "Busy Bea" never lets up her weekly diatribes, which just get longer and less coherent.
    The descending madness of the Ex-POTUS is beginning to look like a failing character in a Greek or Shakespeare tragedy. How many of his blind sycophants will sink with him? Or is it possible for a few of them to wake up and break from this self-imposed tyranny to vote for common sense and the common good?
    The promoters of this insanity, both here and in Washington, are running out of their ability to make any sense at all. They are desperate, which makes them even more dangerous. Defending their own b.s. is becoming impossible, as the facts show over and over again. But these sycophants will defend their madness at all costs. 
    A civilized society committed to democracy needs to move forward with the truth -- and prosecute fully all those who have tried to overthrow law, logic, truth, and order. The fools and accomplices of these criminals must no longer be respected and tolerated.

Presidential Records
    August 22, 2022
Dear David,
    Former presidents pocket multimillion dollar advances for their memoirs while their records are mostly quarantined for decades from the citizens they misgoverned. The Nixon Library didn't release the final batch of his secret tapes until 2013, 39 years after Nixon was driven from office. Lyndon Johnson finally released his secret tapes in 2016, 47 years after his departure from office. President George W. Bush issued an executive order rewriting the Presidential Records Act, guaranteeing public access. Congress overturned parts of that order in 2014. Obama's lawyers repeatedly invoked the P.R.A. to delay the release of thousands of pages of records from President Clinton.
    At the end of his presidency, Barack Obama trucked 30 million pages of his administration's records to Chicago, promising to digitize them and put them online, outraging historians.
    More than five years after Obama's presidency ended, zero has been done. Obama still owns 30 million pages. A law that Obama helped wreck, the Freedom of Information Act. You try to get any info on Obama's records. Responses from presidential libraries can be delayed for years, even more than a decade, if the information is classified.
    President Biden double-crossed Americans on disclosing records from his 36-year Senate career. In 2011, Biden donated 1,875 boxes of documents from his Senate days to the University of Delaware, which receives federal subsidies to curate the collection while it was locked up, promising to unseal these records two years after Biden retires from public office. Biden retired as vice-president in January 2017.
    So for Democrats, no raids, no investigation for a Republican. Go for broke. Nail him to the wall. Corruption like you've never seen.
    While raiding Trump's home, Hunter and the big guy board Air Force One for vacation, while Hunter's investigation remains on the back burner. Keep in mind every dog has his day.
    In God and country,
    The claim that former President Obama personally kept in excess of 30 million pages of records after his second term is a lie. Ed.

Hard to Fathom
    East Hampton
    August 21, 2022
Dear David: 
    We have all been shocked by the impact the G.O.P.'s war against women's rights had on a 10-year-old victim of sexual abuse fleeing Ohio to find an abortion clinic in neighboring Indiana. The only reaction from the G.O.P. was "fake news" -- until the rapist was caught and confessed. Oops!
    Now we have the next inhumane saga in the G.O.P.'s war on women. Under Florida law, for a minor to obtain an abortion she must first obtain parental consent. Recently, a 16-year old parentless girl sought a waiver from the parental consent rule, a request supported by her legal guardian. The Florida court ruled against the girl, incomprehensibly ruling that she was not sufficiently mature to make a decision about abortion -- but, that immature girl was sufficiently mature to bear a child. The inhumanity of the G.O.P.'s notion that bearing a child is akin to turning the lights off when one goes to bed has to stop. The trouble is that this notion is the province of the minds of aged white men and religious zealots.
    And hypocrisy abounds. Last week, in sniping at Governor Hochul, our lame-duck congressman and wannabe governor tweeted that if elected governor, he would never impose a Covid vaccine mandate (apparently tone-deaf to the lives being saved by the availability of those vaccines). He genuflected on one's inviolate individual freedom to make medical decisions (refusing to wear a mask or get a vaccine) and vowed never to interfere in that "freedom."
    That is, unless you have a uterus. 
    Mr. Zeldin has time and again used his congressional authority to interfere with women's individual freedoms to make fundamental decisions concerning their health and family planning. He has been a staunch opponent to a woman's constitutional right to an abortion (a constitutional right until Justice Alito stamped that out with a bigger boot). And, most recently, he struck a blow against the still existing constitutional right of a woman to use contraceptives by voting against a House bill that would have codified that right. This radical view jeopardizes fundamental family planning decisions. This level of hostility is hard to fathom.
    I really do hope that you Republican (and independent) voters who have not yet drunk the Kool-Aid of the radical right will take a deep breath this November and seriously consider which party is more concerned with protecting the rights of Americans. A hint: They will not be found on the Republican ballot line.
    We have two important choices this November. Elect Kathy Hochul as our next governor and vote for Bridget Fleming to be our new congressperson.
    On a separate note, a belated thank-you to Kristi Hood, who not only helmed the Springs General Store for nearly 20 years but was a treasure to the Town of East Hampton. Godspeed to her entire family!

Tool of Oppression
    East Hampton
    August 21, 2022 
    In a New York Times interview, the actor Christopher Walken was asked, "What's a solid, concrete thing that matters to you?" Walken replied, "I'll be looking out the window, and I'll think, 'I feel pretty good. My bills are paid. My wife is healthy. The weather is nice.' That's all I really care about." Life is good. 
    Skip to today and the book by David Wengrow and David Graeber "The Dawn of Everything," an audacious history of how the world developed. The book begins by highlighting debates between Native American intellectuals from tribes on the Great Lakes, in particular the Wandat, and French Jesuit priests. The tribal custom was to debate every issue as a means of conflict resolution, A kind of town hall system without vested leadership; so they were more skilled and erudite then their Jesuit counterparts. 
    In discussing government, the Native Americans viewed the system of kings connected to God as inhuman and barbaric, violent slavery where everyone lives to satisfy the needs of the kings and nobles and not themselves. They found Christianity devoid of humanity and love and basically a tool of oppression. They found the French settlers greedy, selfish, and lacking in love and respect for the earth and each other. In the tribal system, if someone was hungry they fed him. If they needed lodging they gave it to them. They saw little value in wealth, land, or power. Real savages? 
    The connection between Walken's good day and the Great Lakes tribes was about living in the world and feeling good and connected to it. The question is how do we get past this obsession for wealth and power that drives our society? 
    Is it possible to live well in the world and not need to destroy your neighbors? Enslave their souls and eviscerate their natural inclination to free will? 
    Our government and our religions, like the French and English monarchies, are only interested in maintaining order by subjugating free spirit and destroying willfulness. Religion and autocracy are perfectly suited to fascism and other systems of extreme subjugation. However, they are diametrically opposed to democracy. 
    Consequently, when the founders developed our democratic system, they attempted to disperse power and control beyond a single elitist governing body and to guarantee that religion would not be used to enslave and diminish willfulness and spirituality. Practical Christianity in the 18th century was about death and disease. Its contemporary evolution is into wealth and power, and it remains an impediment to the democratic process. 
    We had a million examples of how to live in the world and take pleasure for what is real and natural. Instead we destroyed them because that's what we do, and pretended we didn't. 
    Walken's good day is what we have left. 

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