People of the Amistad
August 28, 2023
Last Saturday, I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the unveiling of Montauk’s first New York State Historic Marker dedicated to the people of the schooner Amistad, who came ashore at Culloden Point in Montauk on August 26, 1839. To follow up, on Sunday at the John Jermain Library in Sag Harbor, cuts from the film “Amistad” were shown, followed by a panel discussion about this historic event and larger questions concerning progress being made toward equity and civil rights in this country and beyond.
Both events paid tribute to those Africans kidnapped, shackled, and transported to the New World to be sold into slavery but who fought back, securing freedom after years of litigation and awful loss of life. This important story of enduring courage and justice played out, in part, on the shores of our own East End.
The impressive, two-part program was sponsored and presented by the Eastville Community Historical Society, the Southampton African American Museum, and the Montauk Historical Society. Thanks to organizers, Eastville’s Georgette Grier-Key and Dr. Maria DeLongoria; Brenda Simmons, director of the Southampton African American Museum, and Mia Certic, director of the Montauk Historical Society.
Our thanks to East Hampton Town Board members Cate Rogers, Kathee Burke-Gonzalez, and David Lys, and Southampton Village Trustee Robin Brown, who all attended. And, as always, gratitude to our ever-supportive State Assemblyman, Fred W. Thiele Jr., who spent part of his birthday celebrating this worthy event.
Planning for next year’s celebration, it seems, is already underway, as it should be.
Montauk Historical Society
Lit Up Our Lives
September 3, 2023
We lost one of the great ones last week. All of us at the Talkhouse were deeply saddened to hear Jimmy Buffett had passed. We were blessed by the dozen or so times he graced our stage, sometimes playing a full concert, sometimes just joining performers who were friends. He played with Mac McAnally and Peter Mayer, members of his Coral Reefer Band, at their concerts. He played with Caroline Jones, Sonny Landreth, Tom Curren, and Jerry Jeff Walker. In 2011, he opened for an artist he was championing named Elew, with Bill and Hillary Clinton in the audience.
Over his career, he supported numerous charities and causes; no one did more than Jimmy on the East End. At the Talkhouse, he played to help the Child Development Center get started, and he played to help the members of my softball team, the Maidstoners, travel to Cuba to play good-will games in 1999. Most important, he helped the Wounded Warrior Project.
In 2005, Nick Kraus and I organized a concert to welcome Chris Carney, Tek Vakaloloma, Reg Cornelia, Heath Calhoun, and Ryan Kelly home after their 4,200-mile bicycle ride across America. Nancy Atlas, Mary Wilson, and the Funk Brothers performed at the Martha Clara Vineyard. WEHM, the vineyard, and I put up the dough and we were looking at losing over $40,000. The day before the show Jimmy heard we were in trouble and offered to play. We got it on the radio and netted over $50,000 profit for the charity. He also played at a benefit for the Wounded Warriors in New York City and one in Amagansett Square. He showed up for breakfast with them at our annual ride in Key West. The soldiers, like his devoted Parrot Heads, adored him. It wasn’t merely his artistic talent that wowed them. It was his humanness, his uncanny ability to make you feel he felt like you, like he was one of you.
Every time this saloon or a cause needed support or any kind of gesture, Jimmy, who was besieged by overtures from everyone and everywhere, graciously delivered.
He lit up our stage one last time last June 11 after his illness forced him to stop touring. He lit up our lives for over 35 years since he first came in the bar in 1988.
We’ll miss him.
Lost a Friend
September 3, 2023
Our community, nation, and much of the world lost a friend when Jimmy Buffett passed away this Friday. The ultimate Parrot Head became a worldwide phenomenon and well-loved local summertime resident.
Through his freewheeling music and concerts, some folks may have thought him somewhat silly and frivolous, and perhaps stuck in a bygone era — but a closer look would show much more depth to the man than that.
In addition to philanthropy and preservation of the environment, Jimmy built a successful empire providing products, services, and entertainment to folks short on pretense, and long on the need for fun, in an economy offering oppressive costs and political strife.
Entertainment is an important part of the fun we need in life. Mr. Buffett did more than his share to spread joy.
He always seemed to enjoy himself here in the Hamptons, and with his various water toys, including his beautiful sloop Music, which was always a treat to notice.
We heard of his illness earlier this summer, so it was wonderful and reassuring to see that boat reappear on its mark again recently. I admired his fortitude and drive to be at the helm of Music again. I will always remember that and realize he truly seemed to be a guy who understood the old saying carpe diem, no matter what difficulties arise.
My condolences and best wishes go to Jimmy’s family and the Parrot Head community, too. Thanks for sharing him!
August 18, 2023
I’m writing in regard to the letter from Amy King in which she chooses to cast aspersions on the late Connie Fox and whether she was, as your obituary correctly stated, “a leading abstract expressionist.”
The writer should know, given that her father, Bill King, was Ms. Fox’s late husband and a sculptor of great fame and accomplishment, and that art history is a constantly evolving appraisal and reappraisal of both individuals and movements. Within the context of the contemporary art scene, this reassessment of recent history is heavily weighted toward paying attention to women artists, such as Connie, whose visibility and consequence were heretofore always minimized and even denigrated by an art world that until quite lately might best be described as viciously sexist and chauvinistic.
If Ms. Fox is not yet a household name, which Ms. King seems to superficially believe is the ultimate arbiter of import, I am confident that over time the general art public will rectify that injustice.
Connie was my friend but, more important, she was an artist whose painterly expressiveness, compositional eloquence, and assertive use of color stand as monuments to Abstract Expressionism’s elegantly raw and visceral power. To denigrate her paintings and belittle her impact on her fellow artists serves to betray a measure of profound ignorance on Ms. King’s part regarding Connie’s work and art itself.
ERIC MAX ERNST
Amazing ARF Staff
September 2, 2023
To the Editor,
In the Aug. 24 edition on page C8, you featured several pictures taken at the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons Bow Wow Meow Ball. In each of the photos, you identified each person by name, except for one who was identified as “ARF employee with dog.” Not identifying by name this ARF employee was an unfortunate omission on your part. While those individuals you identified are important because they provide key financial assistance to ARF, without which ARF’s very important missions would be more limited in scope.
ARF employees are the individuals who care for the animals every day. ARF is extremely lucky to have a caring, hard-working, and dedicated staff whose commitment to the animals is unmatched. They show up in snowstorms, rainstorms, freezing temperatures, and heat waves, not to mention pandemics, to make sure that the needs of the animals are met. Hannah Metcalf is one of those staff members and well worth the couple of seconds it would have taken to ask her name and the name of the adoptable dog she was holding.
I am fortunate and privileged to have been an ARF volunteer for many years and to have worked with Hannah and so many amazing members of the ARF staff. In the future, please show respect for people who make a huge contribution by showing up every day so that the important work of animal rescue can be accomplished. Hannah Metcalf deserves that respect.
Very truly yours,
East Hampton Village
September 4, 2023
A group of East Hampton High School students has contributed some 250 hours of community service while also juggling summer jobs, independent study, and family commitments by participating in the ReWild Long Island East End Chapter inaugural summer program to fight hunger and climate change.
The participants, Lola Garneau, Sophie Riva, Stella Brecker, Abe Stillman, Kelly Pucuna, Stella Peterson, Dylan Ward, and Hope Masi (along with Savi D’Agostino from West Patchogue) have demonstrated their understanding and stewardship of East Hampton’s natural resources, including our soils, native plants, and pollinators, as well as promoting biodiversity and food security. Just a few of their accomplishments include: At Share the Harvest, which donates 97 percent of its produce to local food pantries, they harvested lettuce and herbs, squash, sunflowers, kale and more kale, in addition to some 2,000 pounds of tomatoes.
At the East Hampton High School pollinator and vegetable gardens, they tended a new pollinator garden, identified monarch caterpillars on the milkweed, shoveled truckloads of compost and mulch, cultivated vegetables and flowers, and valiantly conquered a jungle of invasive mugwort and porcelain berry.
With East Hampton Compost, a collaboration between the Town of East Hampton and ReWild Long Island, they collected and sorted nearly 2,000 pounds of food scraps while educating the public about the benefits of composting. They’re looking forward to helping to continue the pilot through the school year.
They also explored the East End’s biodiversity with experts at LongHouse Reserve, Third House Nature Center, and Edwina von Gal, founder of Perfect Earth Project, and worked with ChangeHampton at the Town Hall pollinator garden.
Please join me in congratulating these students, along with their East Hampton High School club advisers, Aubrey Peterson (Environmental Club) and Karen deFronzo (Garden Club), and Councilwoman Cate Rogers, for their contributions to our community.
August 31, 2023
To the Editor,
Kudos to Arthur French’s “Not Approved” letter in The Star on Aug 31. He detailed all the driving madness on our highways but forgot to mention all this is done with zero involvement of the East Hampton Town or Village police departments.
Also: What about all the beer cans and bottles that litter our town roads everywhere? Drinking and driving? Probably.
September 4, 2023
To the Editor:
The full-page anti-airport add in the Aug. 31 edition of The Star surely looks threatening. Even the dark greenish background color looks ominous; I would not even know what to call it. And then, the black silhouette of an airplane, on the very top of the page. Impressive!
This is clearly a twin-engine, single-aisle airliner and although there are thousands and thousands in operation worldwide, this type of aircraft has never, ever landed on our airport, not even once, in its decades of existence. The rest of the ad is of the same flawed caliber, purely subjective, full of out-of-context statements, approximate statistics, and half-truths. I could debate and counterargue them one by one, but that is not my point, not here, not now.
What is troubling however is the layout of the bottom of the page. It is populated with the names and emails of the town board members in very visible white, nicely staggered, as if they were the authors and supporters of this monstrosity. The actual author, and payer, “The Coalition to Transform East Hampton Airport,” is in drop-out dark green on a black background, barely legible, no names, no emails, no phone, no address.
I urge the people of East Hampton as well as their elected officials not to be fooled by this low-level scare tactic, or this obscure and anonymous “coalition.”
August 21, 2023
To the Editor,
I read with interest about the proposal to mandate all-electric residential construction in the town starting in 2025, unfortunately, the town still doesn’t address the largest problem that it faces in order to meet its lofty 2030 goal of eliminating all greenhouse gas emissions — namely, the necessity of upgrading the roughly 22,000 residences that already exist.
As I’ve mentioned in this section in the past, multiple times, as well as directly to the town board and its energy and sustainability committee, the Town of East Hampton needs to establish a sustainability fund and tap a small percentage (10 to 20 percent) of the community preservation fund to finance it. Similar steps were taken to fund both the new Community Housing Fund recently and the local septic rebate program before that.
Why is this necessary? Because the town refuses to spend any meaningful amount of its own money in this area and that has been made clear since 2014, when the town first pledged to reduce emissions that are now higher today, Hopefully, when the roughly $1 million annual fees from the offshore wind project start to roll in, they will be designated to help local residents upgrade their homes to both solar and heat pumps where it makes sense. One million, though, doesn’t go that far and may help supplement federal and state programs to allow for 150 houses annually to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
If the town could access at least several more million a year from the C.P.F., it might be able to increase the number of residents making necessary upgrades by another 400 each year. This clearly wouldn’t solve the problem, but at least it would finally put the town on the path to make meaningful strides. This really should not be a difficult step to take, given one could argue the preservation fund would not miss a few million a year each year, as that amount barely buys a home or two these days.
I also noted the concern mentioned by one board member that the utility couldn’t keep up with the potential increase for electric demand but the town has only itself to blame for that. A 37-megawatt solar project was proposed at the airport in 2015 and never followed through on. It is not too late to look at this area again, especially since 90 acres of land that comprise the gun club are up for renewal now — perhaps at least part of that lot should now be leased out for a community solar project?
If the town is serious about its various pledges and declarations when it comes to slowing global warming, now is the time to finally put some money where its mouth is. Moreover, this proposal to access the C.P.F. doesn’t even require the town to take any money from its own budget, so please stop talking about climate change as if it is some far-off issue and do something today.
All Is Forgotten
September 3, 2023
To the Editor,
Previously, when other owners have done something that they shouldn’t have done, a simple answer is given to the town: “routine maintenance,” and all is forgotten. I believe next year we are in need of a pool. Routine maintenance, after all.
September 3, 2023
To the Editor,
Since term limits prevent Steve Bellone from again running for Suffolk County Executive, I beg him to replace Bruce Blakeman (or should I say, Bruce Blakeman!?) as Nassau county executive. Why, you ask?
Well, not only has this narcissistic Nassau County executive Bruce Blakeman spent a lot of taxpayer money for new, larger signs advertising his name above and in larger letters than the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theater stage sign, but the proof of Mr. Blakeman’s outsized ego was demonstrated by yesterday’s Sunday Newsday ad on L.I. Life section, page E15, disingenuously headlined, “Bruce A. Blakeman, Nassau County Executive, Presents Lakeside Theater Concerts: Sugar Ray,” inexplicably, and probably intentionally, omitting Harry Chapin’s name from the name of the theater and stage as if Mr. Blakeman personally paid for the concert. These concerts are not his; they are a decades-long county tradition paid for by county resident taxpayers. Not to mention the fact that Mr. Blakeman has for the past two years ignored my 2021 suggestion that he ask his ex-wife, Nancy Shevell, to get her current husband, Paul McCartney, to put on free 2022 and 2023 summer Eisenhower Park “super group” concerts co-starring Ringo Starr, George Harrison’s son Dhani, Jonn Lennon’s sons, Sean and Julian, and Paul’s good friend Billy Joel.
Mr. Blakeman never responded to my repeated requests, and I bet he never asked Nancy.
On Air Force Two
September 3, 2023
Former Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin says he believes President Biden and son Hunter took bribes to push him out of office in 2016: “I do not want to deal in unproven facts, but my firm personal conviction is yes, this was the case.”
Hunter Biden flew on Air Force Two with his father, then Vice President Joe Biden, to at least 13 countries, often arranging meetings with business associates for his investment firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners.
Let’s not have to name all the countries Hunter visited: It’s on record, but how does the V.P.’s son earn the right to use our tax-paid Air Force Two as his private jet?
Joe Biden constantly bragged about having the son of a bitch fired.
We have a disgraceful group of politicians and should be ashamed of the said top-two candidates.
There must be a school that classes are free, learn to see how crooked, how much you can lie, steal from John Q. Public. These classes are for politicians only.
Happy Labor Day.
In God and country,
September 4, 2023
Thirty years ago Francis Fukuyama wrote a book called “The End of History.” It praised the neoliberal democratic model as the ultimate form of governance but was also written to provoke and stimulate debate and reflection. Essentially, because while the philosophical model was strong, the practical model lagged substantially behind.
Enter the buffoonery of Donald Trump and the MAGA idiocy. (Idiocy is a generous description.) America was never great. Never close to greatness. Mediocre by almost every measure, yet better than the rest of the world. Sometimes known as the best of the worst, like in Little League when every player gets a trophy. So mediocre, that even after World War II destroyed much of the world, we remained mediocre, meaning our greatness or mediocrity was quantitative, not relative.
The problem we have is that our political class is a group of pathetic boobs. They have little vision beyond yesterday and absolutely no sense of what a world order means beyond United States supremacy. Is being blind relative? Does the blind leading the blinder exist?
So, China. China is really old, but before the 1980s was considered to be a fourth-world country. Communism was never really a threat to our capitalist model. By the early 1950s the Soviet economy had collapsed and the model was broken. We knew this but persisted in bringing it down as opposed to bringing it into the fold. Because we were either too dumb to look that far into the future or too unsure of our superiority or we needed an enemy to deflect the public from too much scrutiny.
So, China. China overwhelmed the world with its economic miracle. The world was so enamored with China that when the pandemic hit, only China had masks. Trump, moronically, told the States to bid for the masks because the U.S. couldn’t get it together, a double dose of incompetence and stupidity. We were so taken by the inexpensive efficiency of the Chinese model that we threw our manufacturing sector under the bus. We viewed China like a third or second-world country that we could manipulate and abuse. When they wouldn’t accept this designation they became an enemy. Our new bestest enemy?
So, with the example of the Soviet collapse 30 years ago erased from our consciousness, we have no clue about how we missed the opportunity to co-opt Russia and bring it into the fold as a member of Europe and the world — not a simple process but one worth the effort given its nuclear capacity and its incredible economic dysfunction. We reacted, as we always do, by genuflecting to our short-term greatness our blind obeisance to faux democratic principles.
So, China. Facing a downturn in the economic cycle and the collapse of millions of small businesses, is almost on the ropes. Resistance to a repressive government in the face of economic chaos is on the horizon. China has no internal mechanisms to alleviate the economic mess, and the outside world has absolutely no sympathy.
Do we take the opportunity to develop a long-term plan with China as a friendly competitor, or do we insist on the enemy model? The Republicans have to go enemy because they have no policies or programs beyond social negativity in their portfolio. The Democrats don’t like breaking with the tradition that enemies are good for business. While both are useless in this matter, one is a little sicker and probably should disappear.
In hindsight It is easy to analyze our behavior critically. But hindsight is the mother of foresight and the ability to understand our path is what will secure our future.