Recent Stories: Columnists

Jack Graves
June 22, 2017
“What’s your favorite organ?” I asked Mary the other day, and she looked at me strangely, as she well might since I’d been reading Chuang Tzu.

“What’s your favorite organ?” I asked Mary the other day, and she looked at me strangely, as she well might since I’d been reading Chuang Tzu. 

“Favorite organ? Well, if one goes they all go, so I don’t quite know how to answer.” 

“They are many, yet they are one! That’s it. How they do what they do — what, for instance, does the gall bladder do, or the spleen? — may be beyond our ken, so best let them be.”

Christopher Walsh
June 22, 2017
Manhattan, after the midday downpour that caught me ill prepared and quickly sodden on Saturday, was again humid by midnight, and in Times Square the tourists gaped and the panhandlers pitched and the bridge-and-tunnel roisterers swaggered in roughly equal measure as I made my way back to the hotel from the Port Authority terminal, where M. had boarded a bus for the hours-long journey home. Five years after leaving the big city, it can be a bit disorienting to experience it anew.

Manhattan, after the midday downpour that caught me ill prepared and quickly sodden on Saturday, was again humid by midnight, and in Times Square the tourists gaped and the panhandlers pitched and the bridge-and-tunnel roisterers swaggered in roughly equal measure as I made my way back to the hotel from the Port Authority terminal, where M. had boarded a bus for the hours-long journey home. Five years after leaving the big city, it can be a bit disorienting to experience it anew. 

David E. Rattray
June 22, 2017
They say the first thing readers of The Star open to when they are young is the police news to see who got arrested. When they are older, readers turn to the obituaries to see who has died. I like to think they also turn to the obits for a good read and to learn a bit about lives well lived. At least that’s our goal.

They say the first thing readers of The Star open to when they are young is the police news to see who got arrested. When they are older, readers turn to the obituaries to see who has died. I like to think they also turn to the obits for a good read and to learn a bit about lives well lived. At least that’s our goal.

Obituaries are among the most difficult writing tasks at the paper. I say “write” because that is what we do; the concept often surprises friends and family members who send us material after the death of a loved one.

Helen S. Rattray
June 15, 2017
What was it like to be inducted into the Long Island Press Club Hall of Fame? At the Woodbury Country Club last Thursday for dinner and the announcement of many awards, I felt like an elder stateswoman visiting another country. Who were these 200 reporters and newscasters and graphic artists and videographers? When the prizes were given out, I began to find out. About 200 first, second, and third-place awards were presented, one for perhaps every person there, the club’s president told me afterward.

What was it like to be inducted into the Long Island Press Club Hall of Fame? At the Woodbury Country Club last Thursday for dinner and the announcement of many awards, I felt like an elder stateswoman visiting another country. Who were these 200 reporters and newscasters and graphic artists and videographers? When the prizes were given out, I began to find out. About 200 first, second, and third-place awards were presented, one for perhaps every person there, the club’s president told me afterward.

Jack Graves
June 15, 2017
In rehearsing a speech to give on Helen Rattray’s behalf at her induction into the Long Island Press Club’s Hall of Fame, my nerves got the best of me and I began hamming it up. Actually, it was my inner imp that was getting in the way — I was upstaging myself.

In rehearsing a speech to give on Helen Rattray’s behalf at her induction into the Long Island Press Club’s Hall of Fame, my nerves got the best of me and I began hamming it up. Actually, it was my inner imp that was getting in the way — I was upstaging myself.

“Think of her,” Mary said, pulling me up short. “Stop all the clowning around. Nobody will pay any attention to what you’re saying, they’ll just notice your tics.” She had learned that years ago in a public speaking course. Next to death, her teacher had told her, people are most afraid of public speaking. I am in that number. 

Irene Silverman
June 15, 2017
The message on the iPhone was from my son-in-law, a wildlife biologist who spends his days worrying about biodiversity, habitat, and endangered creatures in the farther reaches of Washington State, and rarely if ever emails or texts unless I’ve written first, which I had.

The message on the iPhone was from my son-in-law, a wildlife biologist who spends his days worrying about biodiversity, habitat, and endangered creatures in the farther reaches of Washington State, and rarely if ever emails or texts  unless I’ve written first, which I had.

“Jeff!!” I messaged him on May 29. “We have sent Julia’s birthday present, which will be delivered on June 1 by FedEx. If at all possible can you please somehow intercept the package and hide it away till June 15? No signature required for delivery so maybe you’ll find it on the porch who knows. XX”

“Consider it done,” he replied.

David E. Rattray
June 15, 2017
On early, still mornings at this time of the year I often hear the sound of a helicopter near where I live. It is a small chopper, and from its repeated passes, I can tell that it is spreading a mosquito-control pesticide on the salt marshes at Napeague Harbor or at Accabonac.

On early, still mornings at this time of the year I often hear the sound of a helicopter near where I live. It is a small chopper, and from its repeated passes, I can tell that it is spreading a mosquito-control pesticide on the salt marshes at Napeague Harbor or at Accabonac.

Quite a number of people I respect, including Biddle Duke, who founded The Star’s East magazine last year, and Kevin McAllister, the former Peconic Baykeeper and the head of Defend H20, an environmental group, say that what the helicopter is doing is far from benign. They say the airborne methoprene used to kill mosquito larvae is having devastating environmental effects.

Helen S. Rattray
June 8, 2017
There we were, seven of us, in a circle with prosecco in stemmed glasses and lovely hors d’oeuvres on a table at center. Like-minded people, we were talking about Trump. What else?

There we were, seven of us, in a circle with prosecco in stemmed glasses and lovely hors d’oeuvres on a table at center. Like-minded people, we were talking about Trump. What else?

It’s easy to go on about the president. Each of us had something to contribute to the conversation, a bit of news the others had not heard or a droll comment. When I asked if anyone had a friend who voted for the president, one of the seven said he had tried without success to talk someone out of it; another said the same about a parent. When I asked if, subsequent to the election, anyone had spoken about national issues with Trump supporters, or made an effort to do so, the “nos” had it. We admitted we lived in a bubble.

Jack Graves
June 8, 2017
Ever trying to reconcile good and evil, I came across in Joseph Campbell’s book on Oriental mythology what Chuang Tzu said when his friends found him drumming and singing after his wife had died.

Ever trying to reconcile good and evil, I came across in Joseph Campbell’s book on Oriental mythology what Chuang Tzu said when his friends found him drumming and singing after his wife had died. 

Not only nature, but mankind had seasons, he said. Why would we think we could alter the eternal round, what use would it do to wail and lament someone’s death?

“Maybe he just didn’t like his wife,” said Mary.

She’s always injecting reason into my reverie. (And beating me far too many times in backgammon.)

Judy D’Mello
June 8, 2017
If you wander through New York’s Museum of Modern Art, you’ll eventually come across “Painting Number 2” by Franz Kline, a set of thick, unruly black lines on a white canvas. Elsewhere, you will find one of Mark Rothko’s many untitled works, consisting of various colored rectangles. And in front of both paintings, you will inevitably find visitors wearing an expression that is best interpreted as “I could have done that.”

If you wander through New York’s Museum of Modern Art, you’ll eventually come across “Painting Number 2” by Franz Kline, a set of thick, unruly black lines on a white canvas. Elsewhere, you will find one of Mark Rothko’s many untitled works, consisting of various colored rectangles. And in front of both paintings, you will inevitably find visitors wearing an expression that is best interpreted as “I could have done that.”

David E. Rattray
June 8, 2017
A dark shape flitted past as I headed toward the house after parking my car in the driveway Tuesday night. In the near distance, a whippoorwill was calling, and I assumed the stocky black bird that moved across my vision from left to right was one of them.

A dark shape flitted past as I headed toward the house after parking my car in the driveway Tuesday night. In the near distance, a whippoorwill was calling, and I assumed the stocky black bird that moved across my vision from left to right was one of them. 

One of the pleasures of living where I do, surrounded by swamp on three sides in Amagansett, is that the underbrush is filled with life. The insects on which whippoorwills feed thrive here, drawing in other birds whose voices are the soundscape from dusk to dawn.

Helen S. Rattray
June 1, 2017
So what was everybody talking about last weekend? People. Too many of them!

So what was everybody talking about last weekend? People. Too many of them!

A taxi driver told me his weekend began on Thursday, not Friday. I am sure this was true, because by Friday morning the parked cars were chockablock on either side of North Main Street when I ventured out to the dry-cleaners. I wandered up the street to find out what was going on, and discovered that they belonged to people browsing in the farmers market in the Nick and Toni’s parking lot. 

Jack Graves
June 1, 2017
“It’s all the same fuckin’ mall, man,” I said to Mary as we headed west from Pittsburgh last week on Route 80 in search of greener pastures, which we were to find in Perrysburg, Ohio, whose historic district reminds one of Sag Harbor on a river.

“It’s all the same fuckin’ mall, man,” I said to Mary as we headed west from Pittsburgh last week on Route 80 in search of greener pastures, which we were to find in Perrysburg, Ohio, whose historic district reminds one of Sag Harbor on a river.

There were malls that appall and treeless tract housing there too, though well beyond the village, whose historic district is welcoming, its sidewalks lined by gnarly trees, whose roots have been known to thread through old sewer lines and cause cataclysmic cloacal backups such as happened the last time we were there — just as we had sat down to what was to be a celebratory family feast. 

David E. Rattray
June 1, 2017
By chance Saturday night around suppertime, I had nowhere to be and nothing I had to do and ended up at Indian Wells Beach sitting in my truck in the parking lot having a bite to eat.

By chance Saturday night around suppertime, I had nowhere to be and nothing I had to do and ended up at Indian Wells Beach sitting in my truck in the parking lot having a bite to eat.

Not to plug a local business necessarily, but it is worth mentioning that Michael Clark, at the Cavaniola’s shop in Amagansett Square, had set me up nicely with some shrimp salad and a few other things; I had half a Carissa baguette that I had bought at the Amagansett Farmers Market in the morning. And so, I sat in the truck and watched the evening show. And what a show it was.

Helen S. Rattray
May 25, 2017
It’s not often that The Star reviews student productions, but having seen — and having highly praised — East Hampton High School’s recent staging of “In the Heights,” I decided to follow suit with “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at the Ross Upper School last weekend.

It’s not often that The Star reviews student productions, but having seen — and having highly praised — East Hampton High School’s recent staging of  “In the Heights,” I decided to follow suit with “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at the Ross Upper School last weekend.

Jack Graves
May 25, 2017
“It’s so green, O’en, so green!” I said as we walked down Main Street recently. “See the dark green, the yellow green, the gnarly roots. . . .”

“It’s so green, O’en, so green!” I said as we walked down Main Street recently. “See the dark green, the yellow green, the gnarly roots. . . .”

Back at the office, Isabel and I talked, I forget why, perhaps because the giddiness that the grass, the trees, and the deliciously chilling spring air invoked, of “Moonstruck.”

David E. Rattray
May 25, 2017
Those returning to East Hampton after a time away will be sure to notice that the green near the flagpole does not look quite the same. Where until this year it was unbroken grass, a winding ribbon of plants and low shrubs now extends to the little bridge on Mill Lane. This, we are told, is a bioswale, which is, as I told a group of Ladies Village Improvement Society members in a recent talk, a fancy word for swamp. This brought a laugh, as one of the next speaker’s topics was to be the Village Green and how it recently came to look different.

Those returning to East Hampton after a time away will be sure to notice that the green near the flagpole does not look quite the same. Where until this year it was unbroken grass, a winding ribbon of plants and low shrubs now extends to the little bridge on Mill Road. This, we are told, is a bioswale, which is, as I told a group of Ladies Village Improvement Society members in a recent talk, a fancy word for swamp. This brought a laugh, as one of the next speaker’s topics was to be the Village Green and how it recently came to look different.

Helen S. Rattray
May 18, 2017
In June it will be 50 years since Israel and its Arab neighbors, Syria, Egypt, and Jordon, fought what is known as the Six Day War, a conflict in which Israel secured a military victory, though, to put it mildly, hardly a lasting one.

In June it will be 50 years since Israel and its Arab neighbors, Syria, Egypt, and Jordon, fought what is known as the Six Day War, a conflict in which Israel secured a military victory, though, to put it mildly, hardly a lasting one.

Jack Graves
May 18, 2017
My son-in-law and I were treated to a squash lesson by the young Egyptian pro, Mohamed Nabil, at the Southampton Recreation Center recently. He was kind, kept feeding the ball back to us so that we could smash it crosscourt or down the rail, and it was a lot of fun, especially for one whom the game has long passed by.

My son-in-law and I were treated to a squash lesson by the young Egyptian pro, Mohamed Nabil, at the Southampton Recreation Center recently. He was kind, kept feeding the ball back to us so that we could smash it crosscourt or down the rail, and it was a lot of fun, especially for one whom the game has long passed by. 

David E. Rattray
May 18, 2017
So I was down at Town Hall the other day, picking up my dump, ahem, recycling permit, and a clam, uh, shellfish license. As I waited for the next available assistant clerk, I noticed a Latino man taking care of some complicated business at the next assistant clerk’s station. A moment later, a tall man with a long beard wearing a white crocheted cap came in, seeking town taxi paperwork.

So I was down at Town Hall the other day, picking up my dump, ahem, recycling permit, and a clam, uh, shellfish license. As I waited for the next available assistant clerk, I noticed a Latino man taking care of some complicated business at the next assistant clerk’s station.

Helen S. Rattray
May 11, 2017
The funniest thing about Donald Trump is his taste — not just in gold-plated toilet-paper holders, but in food. He may be plunging the world into dangerous waters, with aggressive talk aimed at North Korea and threats to take the United States out of the Paris accords on climate change, but he also is setting a terrible example for bad health, particularly among low-income Americans, by what he eats.

The funniest thing about Donald Trump is his taste — not just in gold-plated toilet-paper holders, but in food.

Jack Graves
May 11, 2017
I had been asked to make O’en’s dinner and had not — at least by the appointed time — and heard about it, concluding that it had not just been the dog’s dinner, but the last 32 years.

I had been asked to make O’en’s dinner and had not — at least by the appointed time — and heard about it, concluding that it had not just been the dog’s dinner, but the last 32 years.

David E. Rattray
May 11, 2017
One of the things that sets East Hampton apart from so many other American communities is respect for its own history. Up here around our office, Main Street looks much the same as it did 100 years ago. Some of the houses here date much further back still, as much as a century before the Declaration of Independence.

One of the things that sets East Hampton apart from so many other American communities is respect for its own history. Up here around our office, Main Street looks much the same as it did 100 years ago.

Helen S. Rattray
May 3, 2017
We visited Winterthur, the Henry Francis du Pont estate in Delaware, last weekend at the invitation of Charles F. Hummel, the curator and scholar whose 1968 book, “With Hammer in Hand” (reprinted in 1973), describes three generations of Dominy craftsmen in East Hampton and the objects they made — clocks, chairs, case pieces, looking glasses, tables — as well as the conservative rural culture here from the early 18th century to the mid-19th.

We visited Winterthur, the Henry Francis du Pont estate in Delaware, last weekend at the invitation of Charles F.