July 8, 2023
The Friends of the Montauk Library had our annual Book Fair at the library on July 1 and 2 this year. Through a fantastic team effort and the generosity of our local businesses, it was a great success.
We thank our many volunteers who did everything from baking before the Book Fair to cleaning up after. We thank the strong people who we so badly need to move books and tables, also the many businesses that donate supplies for us to use and sell, and items to be part of our popular bucket raffle.
We must mention Denise DiPaolo and the staff of the Montauk Library, without whom none of this could happen. And the wonderful executive board of the Friends of the Montauk Library who prepare for this all year.
We particularly enjoyed this years craft at the Book Fair. First children, then many adults, decorated old surfboards donated by Corey’s Wave. The end result is now displayed in front of the Library. Try to stop by to see them.
Friends of the Montauk Library
July 8, 2023
To the Editor,
I would like to thank Katy Pesky and Annette Danto for organizing Spoken Word at LongHouse Reserve. They provided a venue for writers, including students of Andrew Visconti of the East Hampton Library memoir class, to gather and share their work. The theme was “Father’s Day,” and the stories were intriguing. Hopefully they will be able to host additional gatherings of writers at this beautiful venue.
CHRISTINE CORSO STLUKA
Rash of Thievery
July 10, 2023
Last summer and again this year, the East Hampton Town Board approved the temporary seasonal placement of the East Hampton Group for Wildlife bright-yellow roadway signs on resident’s properties and on the town’s right of way that asks drivers to slow down and protect wildlife. The signs help to remind drivers not only to slow down and adhere to our local speed limits but also for the thousands of visitors to remind them that we still live in a somewhat rural area and most of the people in our community cherish our wildlife populations. I say most because for the second time this summer someone in broad daylight “lifted” my East Hampton Group for Wildlife “Slow Down Protect Wildlife” sign from the front of my property.
I know many people are happy to post them and/or like seeing the signs because we feel they help keep all of us a little safer on our busy roadways during the crowded summer months. These signs are bought and paid for by the group with generous donations from our members and community and are given out to anyone who wants to post them whether they make a donation or not.
When the sign I had saved from last summer was stolen from my property about a month ago, I naively thought that possibly the person who took it also lives on a busy traveled street and didn’t know that the signs were available free of charge or didn’t know where to request one. But when just last week my newly replaced sign disappeared on Wednesday afternoon sometime between 2 and 6 p.m., I thought differently.
Since then, I noticed the signs that placed on Springs-Fireplace Road, Cedar Street, and Oakview Highway near me were missing as well. In speaking with my fellow member Yuka Silvera about this issue, she informed me that there has been a rash of thievery in the recent weeks. Over a dozen that we are aware of have been taken from along Route 27, near the airport on Daniels Hole Road, the Northwest Woods area, Hands Creek Road, Bluff Road, the Napeague Stretch, and Old Montauk Highway, to name a few.
I reached out to our East Hampton Highway Department to see if possibly their road crews did not know we had approval from our town board to place these signs from Memorial Day to Columbus Day weekend on the sides of our roadways. I was told that the highway crews were not removing them.
So, of course, we do not know who is taking them without seeing it happen, but I get the feeling that whoever is taking them is doing it with intent and disrespect for our right to protect and support the safety of our wildlife and community.
In closing, David, I am asking the person or persons who are responsible, if they have not yet been destroyed or, worse, became part of our landfill, can we please have them returned to us. I know it’s a long shot, but maybe someone will have a come-to-Jesus moment and will drop them off for us, and/or to please contact us at ehgw.org to let us know where we can go to retrieve them with no hard feelings or questions asked.
Thanks so much, David, for letting me use The Star’s letters to the editor to make this request.
All the best,
A Good Start
July 6, 2023
I hope you’re having a good start to summer. The recent weather has surely pleased those who thought June a nonevent. Personally, I like to ease into these halcyon sweltering days, bringing to mind cool Vermont lakes near my Gram’s and all those summers with kiddies by the bay at Napeague. Ya can’t go back. These days, I’m happy to be hermit-like by the pool under the shade of an umbrella, reading a book after errands are done. Knees don’t love the sand anymore, so with the exception of Gin, I don’t do the beach. I’m a good swimmer, but give me a pool or a wave-less body of water with no “scene.”
I’m not getting into the middle of a local gunfight; I hope y’all work it out. The only thing I’ll say is, just because you heard the groundwater was safe and unpolluted doesn’t mean that it is. We have been fighting to save our sole-source aquifer for years — nothing to do with guns, more to do with too much sand mining and greedy people.
The world gets kookier and kookier. Everyone isn’t equal. You know that. Don’t be coy. Let’s stop splitting hairs and going backward. And for Pete’s sake, bake the damn cake and stop the nonsense. What do you care who is eating it? I don’t get it. Is this how you want to be remembered, for being, as my dad would say, a schmuck? And he was no Gandhi, believe me.
Keep breathing, let out those cleansing exhales and slow down if you can and take a dip, sit a spell on a shady porch (hopefully not a “Tough Porch” — good story, Judy D’Mello), have some iced coffee, or a G and T with elderflower, and let yourself dream, if only for the moment.
July 5, 2023
To the Editor,
I write in response to the editorial titled “Friend of the Court” (June 20). As an attorney in practice for nearly 30 years, I have appeared in front of Justices Baisley and Catterson (while the latter was a New York Supreme Court and an Appellate justice) on many occasions. I have received both favorable and unfavorable decisions and rulings from both of these well-respected jurists. While I was not always pleased with the rulings, I never found them to be biased or tainted in any way.
Further, while these two respected judges may have both worked in the same district attorney’s office early on in their careers (as is the path of many judges, who start, and largely remain in public service), they were both simply members of an office that serves one of the largest counties in the state.
The Star’s editorial is replete with innuendo and, quite frankly, odiferous. While same categorizes the fine levied against the town as “high-dollar penalties,” it offers no comparison or even anecdotal evidence that the penalty is not in line with others levied in similar circumstances wherein local governmental officials run afoul of the law.
Perhaps, instead of criticizing these esteemed jurists and tacitly accusing them of collusion, The Star should advise and remind its readers of the reckless actions of East Hampton Town’s “leaders,” whose folly continues to cost its taxpayers millions of their well-earned dollars.
EDMOND C. CHAKMAKIAN, ESQ.
Protect Primary Dunes
July 7, 2023
To the Editor:
Two members of the town’s zoning board of appeals dropped very interesting comments at their July 27 meeting, as they were announcing their approval, by a 3-to-2 vote, of a minimansion with swimming pool being proposed on a rare, unbuilt virgin dune on the beach on Napeague.
Both reproached the town for not buying the property with community preservation fund money. I have two reactions to this. On the one hand, blaming the town does not let the Z.B.A. off the hook. As two dissenting members pointed out, there was much more the board could have done to manage and limit the project, including rejecting the swimming pool — an amenity, not a right — and requiring the house to be smaller and to be located a little farther from the primary dune and the beach.
On the other hand, the two members had a point. I can’t imagine a more-critical, urgently important use of the C.P.F. right now than to protect our primary dunes, which are our last bulwark against sea level rise. At a time when there has been serious public discussion of moving buildings in Montauk back from the water’s edge, why are houses still being built right on the beach? The C.P.F. offers at least a way of addressing the problem consensually, without eminent domain or pre-emptive legislation.
Quick question: In your editorial last week, did “Random Capitalization Guy” refer to me? Cute!
For democracy in East Hampton,
The editorial board had a different letter-writer in mind in last Thursday’s commentary on writing and artificial intelligence. Ed.
Can’t Keep Up
July 6, 2023
Hello, Amagansett. That sound you don’t hear is your water heading out to Montauk.
The smart people at the United States Drought Monitor have told us that we are experiencing “moderate drought” conditions, and a long-established local well-drilling company has warned us that our water table is falling. Nevertheless, ever more and bigger houses in Montauk are thirsty, and our wells out here can’t keep up. Hence, more than 50 percent of Montauk summertime public water is being piped from Amagansett and other up-west aquifers.
Is this a problem? I can’t say. There are experts somewhere who make such declarations, but it is something the people in charge of local planning and zoning might want to keep in mind.
Anyone who is curious to know how this came about needs to look back a few decades. There was a time when there was no pipeline connecting Montauk with water sources west of here, but two things happened to change that:
First, there never was much water beneath the Napeague stretch, certainly not enough to supply the new motels that were being proposed back in the 1970s. Real estate interests started to lean hard on town government and the Suffolk County Water Authority.
Second, and about the same time, the S.C.W.A. began to detect slight saltwater intrusion at some of its Montauk wells. Growing summer demand had already begun to strain the local aquifer, and saltwater intrusion is a very serious no-no. Let it get out of control and you lose the well — forever. Without the pipeline, Montauk growth would have come to a screeching halt.
We got the pipeline. Motels and houses sprouted along Napeague. And water now flows in abundance to a seemingly endless growing number of Montauk businesses, nightclubs, and homes (mine included). So thank you, Amagansett. I guess.
Real, Ongoing Threats
July 10, 2023
South Fork Wind has achieved steel in the water and will be generating clean energy by the end of this year. Hooray! What takes the longest bringing offshore wind to operation is not building it, it’s legislating, permitting, and siting it. Our future security depends on speeding up those processes.
Do we all appreciate how important this is? Do we all recognize that offshore wind is key to generating clean electricity and phasing out the fossil fuels whose emissions are heating up the Earth? Has everyone woken up to the evidence of the climate crisis that we are experiencing right now, today: more frequent severe, record-breaking heat, and wildly intense precipitation?
There have been evidence-free assertions that offshore wind causes whale deaths, or that the wind farms will decimate the commercial fishing industry. But it’s the heating and acidification of the oceans caused by fossil fuel burning that are the real, ongoing threats to marine wildlife and to our coastal way of life.
Kudos to Gov. Kathy Hochul and to Rory Christian of the Public Service Commission for their support of Beacon Wind. Now the governor needs to publicly support Empire Wind 2 and sign the Planned Offshore Wind Transmission Act.
These projects will help ensure that New York meets its mandate of enough offshore wind for 4.5 million New York homes by 2035. More steel in the waters off Long Island means working toward what that we and future generations need: climate security.
July 10, 2023
A letter from a shooter of 23 years indicated that “as far as lead in the ground water, I have heard there is no problem.” What or who is the source he heard that from?
Apparently unaware that lead is a neurotoxin with severe consequences to the brain and vital organs, as per his own statements of the decades of shooting skeet at the range. It is not mentioned that there are 658 lead pellets in each number-9 shotgun shell, amounting 16,450 a box of 25! They decompose faster than most projectiles, from the combination of acid rain and sand. The soil out here is acidic. Where are the percolation testing reports? Where there any?
Many years ago, the natural resources director attempted to the test the range soil for lead content — he was denied access. In addition, there were
“forever toxins,” PFOS and PFOAs, discovered just north of the terminal in close proximity, and the town leaders rushed to install public water in Wainscott. That water authority well he mentioned was installed decades ago. There were also unidentified chemical solvents found in test wells.
The range has never been cleaned, and the many tons of lead were never mined or removed. So much for being so aware. I direct him to the Reid Hill View Airport in San Jose, Calif., similar to ours. There was a multi-year study, that revealed that 20,000 students had dangerous levels of lead in their blood. Further studies were instigated to determine soil contamination. Lead from aviation-gas is a main source.
Just last week, a nationwide study revealed that 50 percent of drinking water in in this country is contaminated. He should read that report and the Clean Water Act.
Perfect Safety Record
July 10, 2023
To the Editor,
I am a member of the Maidstone Gun Club. I was also in the United States Marine Corps and had the honor of being a member of the Camp Lejeune rifle and pistol team. I have had many hours of training in gun safety, shooting, and gun handling.
I have been to many gun and pistol ranges. I can assure you that Maidstone is one of the safest gun ranges I have ever attended. Shooting a rifle through an enclosed 50-foot concrete tube into a sand hill and having a pistol range underground is above and beyond safety. With that being said, I fast forward three months to when hunting season opens.
Hunting on the East End has been a tradition longer than anyone can remember. Many people, high school students to senior citizens, have been trained in safety and gun handling at the Maidstone Gun Club.
Hunters are permitted to hunt on state parkland, county parkland, town land, and private land. These are the same areas with hikers, bikers, dog walkers, and others. In past years there have been no complaints, hunters practicing courtesy, and safe hunting and gun handling. Much of this is attributed to the accessibility of the Maidstone Gun Club practice and training ranges. Keeping Maidstone Gun Club open for training will keep our community safer.
Maidstone Gun Club has over 1,000 members, made up of local citizens, the Coast Guard and police agencies, to name a few. It seems that a small group of people want to shut down the club, perhaps for their own benefit.
Maidstone Gun Club has a perfect safety record. Let’s keep the East End safe by keeping the club open.
Is this a battle about gun safety — or is this about something else more self-serving?
On the Beach
July 9, 2023
To the Editor:
East Hampton Town Code 91-4 prohibited conduct:
“No person shall erect a fence, barricade or other impediment to vehicular and/or pedestrian traffic on the beach without the written consent of the trustees or town board. And, “No person shall intentionally obstruct vehicular or pedestrian access to the beach.”
Does anyone in the town have an explanation for the obstruction on Bay View Avenue? I guess magic must be real.
East Hampton Village
July 7, 2023
I’m a new vice chair at No Labels, where we’re working to provide ballot access in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., for a moderate, independent ticket of one Republican and one Democrat for the presidential race in 2024.
The two major parties continue to speak only to their base with partisan divisiveness and fearmongering, rather than solving our country’s most pressing issues. No Labels is the voice of the common-sense majority of Americans who decline to identify with either major party — a group that polls nearly equal numbers to the two parties combined (49 percent in the latest Gallup Poll).
No Labels has more than a decade of success in political innovation to revive bipartisanship and get our federal government working again for ordinary Americans. No Labels first conceived of and convened the United States House Problem Solvers Caucus 12 years ago, the group responsible for much of the bipartisan legislation passed in the past decade. No Labels more recently had the idea to create and host regular bicameral meetings, where Problem Solvers Caucus members work with aligned U.S. senators from both parties to create legislation that not only can pass in one chamber, but has bipartisan support in both chambers. This group birthed what ultimately became the first major bipartisan infrastructure investment in more than a generation. Now, No Labels has set sights on its third political innovation — the 2024 presidential insurance policy described above.
The moment is right for this effort. Nearly 70 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with what is most likely a rematch of President Biden and former President Donald Trump. And in most polls, Trump is polling ahead of Biden in a head-to-head matchup. If it still looks like this is the menu the two parties will be serving up to American voters after Super Tuesday next March, No Labels will have the runway set for a moderate independent ticket to run and, our extensive polling data shows, win outright and not just “spoil.” In the meantime, both major parties have the opportunity to wake up and listen to the widespread voter dissatisfaction with the status quo and shift their focus, in which case No Labels will stand down. But if they don’t, No Labels will provide the alternate choice Americans crave and deserve.
A new era of politics is at hand and no amount of attacks or shouting will keep us from this important task.
MARTHA E. CONTE
The Sad Truth
East Hampton Village
July 6, 2023
Thanks as always to Neil Hausig for simply pointing out the truth, this time concerning the role of our current Supreme Court. Perhaps it was ever so, and the writers of our own sacred scripture were simply catering to the owners of the cotton plantations of the South, seeing to it that they had no salaries to pay their enslaved workers, and that their wealth could only increase endlessly.
The sad truth may just be that the guardianship of wealth remains in the hands of the one part of our system which is never genuinely accountable.
July 10, 2023
After 9/11, George W. Bush said he asked Jesus for advice about what to do. So he started two wars, destroyed two countries, killed 600,000 people, destabilized the Middle East, and cost us $2 trillion. Bush may have misunderstood Jesus’s message, but he did what the church has been doing for almost 2,000 years, though Bush, in retrospect, was an idiot.
The Inquisition was supposed to have begun in the 12th century and ended in the 18th — 650 years of violent repression, torture, and pain in the name of Christianity. The previous 800 years were hardly a cakewalk, and most of my Jewish friends think that it never ended.
The Inquisition was Hell on Earth. There were an estimated 8 million casualties in the 30 Years War alone that might have lasted 60 years. You can’t go to Heaven if you don’t pay the fare. That’s why Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin insisted on the separation of church and state, essentially to protect the population from the institutional church.
So Title 9, passed in 1972 and functioning by 1979, gave girls the right to participate in sports, similarly to boys’ rights. It was rabidly opposed by racist, misogynist conservatives who were against the state mandating people’s rights and wanted women kept in their places. Fortunately, the bill was a huge success. Unfortunately it didn’t anticipate the massive influx of transgender kids.
Fortunately, Mothers for a Christian America, along with a variety of other Christian organizations, were on the case. Dozens of states passed hundreds of laws limiting what transgender people could or couldn’t do, probably the biggest and most aggressive response to a major problem.
Consider the responses to other serious problems: climate change, water quality, institutional racism, Covid-19, gun violence, etc. — squat, nothing, nada compared to the transgender crisis.
We all know the crisis is real, even if it is difficult to find much evidence to support it. Estimates of transgender female athletes on the college level are about 50 out of a total of 40,000, or .0125. percent — massive, some might think. “Just the beginning.” In truth, it is a massive fabrication for the sole purpose of beating the crap out of a small group of people.
So, while the violence of the Inquisition was clear and direct, ours has become more subtle yet consistently lethal. Instead of exterminating native populations, we let the court do the dirty work. Will L.G.B.T.Q. people move to Europe if we refuse to serve them in our shops? Will Black and brown people decide to go back, to wherever that might be, if we limit their benefits and not let them vote? Will the Jews decide that Palestine is the only safe place if we bomb enough synagogues? Will women get back in the bloody kitchen if we take away their reproductive rights as a lesson on too much uppityness?
Thank God for SCOTUS. If only we could get rid of the Constitution our perfect union would attain perfection.
June 26, 2023
I’m responding to the Jan. 19 East Hampton Star review of “The Outsize Life of a Bon Vivant” by Janet Goleas on Graham Boynton’s book “Wild: The Life of Peter Beard.” The primary reason for writing is to preserve Montauk’s historical record, at least regarding people and places. The itch to respond to The East Hampton Star is because Mr. Boynton states that he and his wife did extensive research to “tell the definitive biography of photographer Peter Beard speaking with his closest friends and researching his family’s history.” As a Montauker who researched photographic history since 1970 and was associated with Peter from 1972 to 1978, I’d like to inform the readership and correct the misleading and incomplete information presented by the author and reviewer.
My comments will reflect the years 1972 to 1978 with minor thoughts on the book. I was a 24-year-old Montauker, interested in photography and local history when I first met Peter in 1972 at Shagwong Tavern, a.k.a., “the office,” which was the beginning of a long and close association with Peter and his work. From 1973 to 1977, I lived in Peter’s mill managing all darkroom activities, assisting him on photo shoots and exhibitions, such as the International Center of Photography in 1977. I met hundreds of Peter’s friends and associates from around the world, famous or not. The mill burned down July 27, 1977, and at that juncture I was well acquainted with Peter and his work.
Ms. Goleas, a photographer, echoed the typical overview on Beard’s work. She comments that in 1973 he bought a “stone cottage” in Montauk. She could have at least googled “Peter Beard House in Montauk” for actual photos to find out it wasn’t a stone cottage. The mentioned “stone cottage” was actually a complex of five wood buildings including a 60-foot-high octagonal windmill structure. The windmill residence was moved to Driftwood Cove in 1973 and represents a distinctive segment in Montauk’s history. Originally built in 1928 as the Sandpiper Hill Windmill, it was at one time an architectural symbol of “new world” money representative of Carl Fisher’s dream society and was transformed into a creative compound that, in five years, would be known, as Francesco Scavullo called it “one of the coolest darkrooms in the world.” It also housed about 800 historical Montauk photographs.
Norman Keane, a Montauk resident and Broadway producer (“Oh! Calcutta!”) bought the estate from Rheinstein in 1968, and by 1972 erosion was placing the windmill in jeopardy of falling off the cliff. East Hampton Town wanted the land for a park but not the residential structure. They bought the property from Norman Keane and put the entire five-bedroom windmill residence up for a quick auction. At the time, Peter was dating Lee Radziwill, who was renting the Church Estate, and recognized the historical and architectural uniqueness of the building. In February 1973, Peter placed a bid and was the highest bidder of three bidders at $15,151, with the stipulation that the entire structure had to be moved in six months. The full story, from sky cranes to the Polish potato farmer, including the history of buying, dismantling, and moving the windmill eight miles to Driftwood Cove, is a captivating story itself and is far too long and complicated to report here.
I read “Wild” in October 2022 and I was hopeful, knowing Peter for 50 years, that the author would provide some new and exciting insight about Beard’s life and his involvement in art and photography. Unfortunately, I was familiar with most of the stories from various publications over the years, so nothing really new was revealed. For me, it was Peter being Peter, creating theater and entertainment with others paying the bill.
Peter had a staggering list of local and world personalities who may have provided insightful commentary, but only a few were interviewed. Why didn’t he interview the African trackers that Beard knew for 60 years? Why were none of his family interviewed? Peter’s ancestry is laced with early American achievers but nothing mentioned about James Hill (1838-1916), the “empire builder,” and Pierre Lorillard IV (1833-1901), the “tobacco king” who tried to develop Montauk before Carl Fisher, and after whom Peter Hill Beard was named.
Of particular irritation, the book presents through various interviews that Beard was “unscrupulous, callus, cruel, physically hitting people, violent, yelling and bi-polar.” These disparaging characterizations may be true, but were not the case during my six years associated with him. When he was home in Montauk, we interacted daily, and he exhibited none of those traits. In fact, when meeting people in social settings, Peter’s manners were exemplary and he was always welcoming, gracious, and friendly to all. I was dismayed and surprised to read about excessive drug use as it was not prevalent when I was working with him. Marijuana was his occasional recreational enlightenment of choice and I never once saw him indulge in “marching powder,” psychedelics, or harder drugs. Beard had a high tolerance for alcohol consumption and I never once saw him out of control.
Boynton did attempt to tell a few Montauk stories about Beard’s activities, such as meeting Iman at John F. Kennedy Airport and his reaction to the night of the mill fire, but they were all wrong. Boynton missed many pertinent stories: buying, moving, and restoring the windmill (which was Peter’s passion), the “Beauty and Beast” project with Larry Rivers, the Rolling Stones Tour with Truman Capote, the 1976 Bicentennial “Big Foot Blues” diary given to him by Jackie Kennedy, Peter’s first portrait by Francis Bacon, the many photo shoots by Peter with Bianca, Jerry Hall, Margrit, Donnelle Lunar, Beverly Johnson, etc., the master prints for the 1977 International Center for Photography show, the design and installation of the cliffside erosion project, Montauk community fund-raisers, and so much more.
Thunderbolt Ranch, named because the mill tower was struck by lightning during renovation, was a theater of life and art blended into one tasty soup. Yes, there are many stories of social gossip interest from Halston and his pal Victor Hugo, Truman Capote at Bobby Van’s, a private screening with Andy Warhol of “Behind the Green Door,” attending an S and M meeting with a famous actress, Dick DuPont and Robert Fulton III buzzing the mill with vintage planes, visits by Edith Beale, Margaux Hemingway, Elia Kazan, Terry Southern, and more. It was always interesting and fun including events too personal to tell.
“Life is like mayonnaise on your sandwich: Too much is not enough” was Peter’s comical descriptive but realistic approach to living life to the fullest. This mantra was part of his belief system, that to experience a full life you have to take risks, be spontaneous, see what’s on the opposite side, react to reactions, and never be afraid to fail, as the greatest event or experience in your life may be the extra “mayonnaise” you put into it. He not only followed the extra-mayo theory of life but he would often bring a small jar of Hellmann’s Mayonnaise to the restaurant if having a fish dinner.
I wish Mr. Boynton the best with his book; however, the definitive book on Beard is yet to be written. Peter was a wild card for sure, an enduring character on the world stage, and a trail blazer in life and art, whose path will likely remain untraveled. For those interested in Beard’s thoughts about life, read “Zara’s Tales” published in 2004.
Thank you for the opportunity to submit this letter.
KEVIN J. MCCANN