Recent Stories: Columnists

Jack Graves
March 25, 2015

We were sitting on a narrow, pleasantly crowded fine-sand beach in Naples, Fla., the other day, reading our books under an umbrella as walkers paraded by, one of whom caught my eye, wearing as he was black shorts and his long black hair tied back.

What made him come up to us I forget, though it seemed apt. I told him I was reading a book on Zen Buddhism, and he said that that was good, and that — according to Mary’s recall — he liked to propound too much to be a Buddhist.

T.E. McMorrow
March 25, 2015

Her: Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you.
    Him: No you can’t.
    Her: Yes I can.
    Him: No you can’t.
    Her: Yes I can.

David E. Rattray
March 25, 2015

It was difficult last week for me not to go down into a historical rat hole while working on a story about how the East Hampton Library had recently completed the digitization and cataloging of a long-sought collection of papers from Montauk’s early days.

I encourage anyone interested in such things to take a look at the library’s website, under the Long Island History-Digital Long Island tab. From there, one can find a link to the Proprietors of Montauk Collection (Arthur W. Benson Papers) and on to thumbnail images of the remarkable holdings.

Helen S. Rattray
March 18, 2015

An osprey apparently forgot that he was supposed to be headed north in time for the first day of spring, or Fish Hawk Day, as old-timers here call it. Instead he hovered over Lake Arenal — a surprise greeting on our first afternoon in Costa Rica.

Jack Graves
March 18, 2015

While I pay our bills every month, I tend not to follow through with the controversial kind, leaving those annoying back-and-forth agons to Mary, who the other day held my feet to the fire when a hefty one from Southampton Hospital came in.

Over all, I think it came to $34,000 or so — for a few hours in the emergency room and an overnight stay. The insurance company paid some of it, but that left about $6,000 as the insured’s responsibility.

Janis Hewitt
March 18, 2015

When Terry Watson received a call at her winter vacation house on St. John telling her that the Montauk Friends of Erin had chosen her to lead the 52nd St. Patrick’s Day parade as its grand marshal, she thought it was a prank. Her husband, George, is one of the hamlet’s biggest pranksters, so it was a logical conclusion.

David E. Rattray
March 18, 2015

My wife and the kids got out of town the week before last and I took to the basement with a vengeance. It had been something I had intended to do for a long, long time.

After three kids and about 16 years since Lisa I got married and moved into my childhood house, things had, to put it mildly, accumulated. The basement, more of a glorified crawl space for anyone taller than a “Wizard of Oz” Munchkin, has been the receptacle of much of the excess. The weekend plus the few days I would have to myself seemed the perfect time to de-clutter in a big way.

Helen S. Rattray
March 11, 2015

Remember the grape boycotts of the 20th century? The dramatic slogan “It Won’t Wash” helped convince many of us to give up table grapes in support of California farm workers and their families, who were suffering serious health consequences, including birth defects and various cancers, from the pesticides being sprayed on fruit.

Jack Graves
March 11, 2015

While “Birdman” was a wonderful picture, “Citizenfour,” which won the documentary Oscar for Laura Poitras (not to mention Glenn Greenwald’s Pulitzer Prize reporting), is even more of a must-see.

It certainly has a chilling effect — in keeping, I think you’ll agree, with the season.

David E. Rattray
March 11, 2015

Owing to the vagaries of weather here on the East End, few are the winters when we can reliably hope to haul the boats out of the barns and garages, sharpen our runners, and head for the ice. The winter of 2015 abruptly took a turn toward bitter with a Jan. 24 blizzard, and it has been cold enough to make for broad slabs of frozen water, but the snow accumulation made conditions on most ponds and lakes in the Northeast impossible for sailing.

Helen S. Rattray
March 5, 2015

Why is sunlight on a landscape of untrammeled snow more exhilarating than bright sun on the beach or through the woods? I wonder what scientists have to say about the ways visual experiences evoke emotions. 

Jack Graves
March 5, 2015

“You’re one of the youngest old people I know,” my dentist said to me the other day as he excavated around a post in the hopes a filling would prevent the need for a crown. Before I could remonstrate with him — “One of the youngest? Please” — he was drilling away.

Christopher Walsh
March 5, 2015

I’ve been in the presence of Phil Spector twice, so I can say with a measure of confidence that I am very lucky to be alive.

David E. Rattray
March 5, 2015

Forgive me if I have mentioned this before, but winter has been hard on Leo the Pig.

For those of you unfamiliar with Leo, he is our pet 75-pound, 2-year-old, neutered boar, which my wife and oldest child bought for a ridiculous sum from a Texas con artist they met over the Internet. “He’ll only be 10 pounds, grown up!” they were told, “or your money back!” Ask them how that worked out next time you see them.

Helen S. Rattray
February 25, 2015

Ten years ago this June, my eldest granddaughter fell in love with a kitten at the Animal Rescue Fund’s shelter. I can’t imagine what my daughter-in-law, Lisa, was thinking when she took her there on a lark as a fourth birthday treat: Lisa is allergic, and their household has always been something of a dog menagerie to begin with, without much spare room for extra sets of paws.

Jack Graves
February 25, 2015

This can’t continue much longer, it sucks: I’ve gotten stuck, I’ve struck a co-worker’s truck, and I’ve just told a cold-caller to “take a flying ——.”

You get the idea — one’s nerves begin to fray when beset by the cold, not to mention cold-callers.

I was beginning to think that all the reserves of joy that are to be found in mutual suffering had been spent when a wonderful couple bearing tea came to our aid, but more about them later. 

Janis Hewitt
February 25, 2015

I’m sure many of you have heard the newest catchphrase, “No worries,” which is said by many people these days in what I believe is a totally inappropriate use of the phrase. I’ve had a lot of people say it to me lately, and I think they’re just bragging, because I have plenty of worries, especially now in winter, when it’s so cold out our daily lives are limited by snow and ice and our finances are at an all-time low.

David E. Rattray
February 25, 2015

This winter has been hell on man and beast alike, and it has been hard on houses as well, with frozen pipes, ice dams leaking under soffets, and over-taxed furnaces. Our house has taken a blow or two, including a never-before freeze-up on a kitchen drain, and, one morning this week, a door that came apart in my hands.

Helen S. Rattray
February 18, 2015

Guess what song has been going through my head for more than two weeks since two feet of snow fell and the temperature started to go down. Sorry, but I can’t help setting things to music. What I keep hearing, a la Louis Armstrong, is:

“Oh, the weather outside is frightful/ But the fire is so delightful/ And since we’ve no place to go/ Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”

Jack Graves
February 18, 2015

I’ve got to get beyond the birth-and-death thing, as my Zen book advises, though the good news is that my birthday is tomorrow and Mary is going to take me out to dinner.

When recently the subject of first loves came up, I told her that mine had tossed me over in the end because I had “no ambition.”

“That was what Mom and I always admired about you, that you had no ambition,” she said, “that you chose to go your own way.”

Morgan McGivern
February 18, 2015

Madge did not disappoint. No one thought she would show up for an impromptu photo-op on one of the picturesque lanes in the Village of East Hampton last summer.

The rumor circulated among a few of the camera-toting East Hampton inhabitants. Something fun: Hawaiian beach wrap by the seaside — Madge sporting a modest swimsuit. How about a discreet Wiborg Beach visit? Or her posing with the Georgica Beach lifeguards?

David E. Rattray
February 18, 2015

Sharp-eyed readers might have noticed something a little out of the ordinary on one of The Star’s recent obituary pages. Down in the lower right corner was a correction — nothing strange about that, of course. But what was unusual was that the notice concerned Phoebe Scott, an East Hampton woman who died in 1938.

Helen S. Rattray
February 12, 2015

Did you read about the gigantic opossum that got stuck in a wooden gate in Sag Harbor last week? The story of its rescue was told on easthamptonstar.com almost as soon as it was freed, and the ’possum pictures, which The Star didn’t have room to publish in print, were ridiculously adorable. This week, like all weeks nowadays, plenty of feature and sports photos that weren’t used in the paper itself appeared on the web.

Jack Graves
February 12, 2015

I’ve been reading about Zen Buddhism lately, and was reminded of the Yogi Berra koans I’d seen at the Artists-Writers Game last August.

    Here are some:
    “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
    “It gets late early out here.”
    “We made too many wrong mistakes.”
    “Baseball is 90 percent mental — the other half is physical.”