Recent Stories: Opinion

September 7, 2017
If a renewed appreciation for home is the criterion, then my cruise last summer was an A+, a proverbial 10 out of 10, Success with a capital S.

“Only the traveling is good which reveals to me the value of home and enables me to enjoy it better,” wrote the philosopher Thoreau — an idea that has always been alien to me. I am the perpetual proponent of the new, new thing. The grass is always greener, is my motto, where you’re not responsible for cutting it. 

Yet all that changed on my recent cruise along the Mediterranean coast. In fact, if a renewed appreciation for home is the criterion, then my cruise last summer was an A+, a proverbial 10 out of 10, Success with a capital S. 

August 30, 2017
For the last 23 years, first thing every morning and last thing every night, I check up on my fantasy baseball team — good news, bad news, mixed bag.

Hello. My name is BB Gun and I am an addict. For the last 23 years, first thing every morning and last thing every night, I check up on my fantasy baseball team — good news, bad news, mixed bag. Never a dull moment. Several times throughout each day, I go to various websites to find out about trades, tirades, injuries, and pertinent updates. The hourly findings trigger substitutions or self-pity or fist pumps. Up and down like a corked yo-yo. 

My league has its own e-bulletin board on which we share every minute maneuver (except our secret strategies). The races are tight, the competition stiff; any nugget of information could swing a whole season, so you best not miss any games, including postseason, spring training, minor leagues, winter ball.

August 24, 2017
While the realtor in chief was not condemning the terror in Charlottesville, thereby condoning it, on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Childcare and Recreational Center, in the heart of the black community, life was happening.

I fall in love regularly.

With a red spindly flower that blooms for only a few days in the backyard. With a rush of tall grass swaying in the delicious South Fork breeze. With family. Old and just-met friends. The band of turkeys roaming our yard. In love with poems and the anticipation of penne with fresh tomato sauce. The surprise of dolphins lifting and diving arcs through the exhilarating waves with which I am in love.

I fall in love with a nugget of promise lighting my path when my eyes are open.

August 17, 2017
What if you came from a society where philanthropy, volunteerism, and “giving back” — all the things we do so naturally here — were shunned?

Every season our marathon of philanthropic events combines our passion for giving back with the splendor of the South Fork. From galas to tea dances, live auctions to dance parties, we improve lives, protect and celebrate nature and art, and model what it means to be good citizens.

This year as I headed back east to kick off another summer, I thought back on my recent travels around the world, struck by something jarring: What if you came from a society where philanthropy, volunteerism, and “giving back” — all the things we do so naturally here — were shunned historically or not part of the mainstream? 

August 10, 2017
In “Reductionism in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the Two Cultures,” Eric Kandel says they can be brought together by looking at overlaps in perception.

In Leonardo da Vinci’s day and in Greek and Roman times, humanities and science were not separated into what C.P. Snow referred to as “two cultures.” Humanities, literature, and art are concerned with the nature of human experience. The sciences are concerned with the physical nature of the universe. Some see them as divorced and divided.

“Science and art are like long-lost lovers,” Alan Alda has said, “yearning to be reunited.” By promoting science communications, he is active as a matchmaker.

August 3, 2017
Republicans in Congress need to feel that people who are actually going to vote for them want action on global warming.

Some of my liberal friends wonder why I bother talking with conservatives about global warming. Everyone knows conservatives don’t believe in climate change.

Well, “everyone” is mistaken. The Yale Program on Climate Change and Communication has found that “more than six in ten Trump voters (62 percent) support taxing and/or regulating the pollution that causes global warming, with nearly one in three (31 percent) supporting both approaches. In contrast, only about one in five (21 percent) support doing neither.” Some other polls are less encouraging, but it is simply wrong to give up on conservatives.

July 27, 2017
This year the gals and I will visit Lourdes, the famous French healing shrine. It’s practically an emergency. The group is falling apart.

The women in my book club, all in the Medicare stage of life, are planning our yearly trip. Grand Canyon? Paris? A posh resort where we can experience the life of the rich and famous? No. After much contemplation, we’ve agreed on Lourdes, site of the most famous healing shrine in the world. It’s practically an emergency. The group is falling apart.

July 20, 2017
Bummy Davis, shot dead outside his own bar at age 26, could've become a welterweight champ.

Bummy Davis was shot four times. He was only 26 years old. A lot of people thought he could have become a welterweight champ. His manager and trainer, Johnny Attell, thought that Bummy could have gone right to the top.

One of my mother’s cousins grew up next door to Bummy in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn in the 1920s. I quizzed cousin Joe about his memories of Bummy Davis, for I have been a boxing fan since age 12 and have been a sponge when it comes to soaking up boxing information. My knowledge of Bummy had been, at best, sketchy, and I wanted to learn from an actual witness. Here’s what I was told:

July 13, 2017
The hard of hearing face two fundamental questions: Under what circumstances do we conceal, concede, or actively discuss our deafness, and under what circumstances will we strive to hear or allow ourselves not to hear?

Each of us who is hard of hearing faces a dilemma. We dislike conceding or explaining our deafness, and we want to hear as much as we can. We can’t have it both ways, advertisements of miracle miniature hearing aids notwithstanding.

July 6, 2017
Thirty years ago in Lhasa, my life took a turn when Chinese police fired on unarmed Tibetans. Now, my documentary, "Eye of the Lammergeier," will premiere at the Madrid International Film Festival.

Thirty years ago, my life took a tangential turn in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa when Chinese police fired on unarmed Tibetan men, women, children, and monks on China’s National Day.

On July 4, 1987, my climbing friend John Ackerly and I flew one-way to Hong Kong and traveled overland across China to the Tibetan side of Everest. The “granite in our brains” at Dartmouth College had propelled us to scour cliffs across the United States, spend seasons on Yosemite’s big walls, and to go mountaineering in Peru. Going to the Himalayas was the logical next step. 

June 29, 2017
Among some of us who live past the biblical age of three score and 10, there is a quaint Jewish belief that we have entered a “second childhood,” so we honor the 70th anniversary of that first bar mitzvah with another one.

“The problem with religion,” said Zero Mostel, “is that it’s devoid of comedy.”

During a major personal milestone (my second bar mitzvah at age 83) I re-encountered religion. 

June 22, 2017
Late in life, Joseph Campbell said the age of the hero’s journey was over, but a new story has found us. It's called climate change, mass extinction, the Anthropocene.

I’m a journalist and an author, and I write mostly about science and the environment. My career has been somewhat roundabout, but like journeys do, mine has come full circle. My journey starts right here in East Hampton.

When I was growing up, great writers abounded in the community, and I wanted to be one. It was more the idea of the writers and their lives that appealed to me than their actual work, to be honest. The prominent writers here when I was a kid were very macho, focused on war stories and gangsters, and I was more inclined toward Virginia Woolf and Henry James. 

June 15, 2017
There is understandable concern in the fishing community as to how offshore wind will affect their livelihood, but how many are aware of the threat to fishing posed by burning fossil fuels?

I didn’t emerge from the womb alarmed about climate change. As a young man, I worked offshore in the Gulf of Mexico oil industry. A few years after that I was lured to Alaska by the promise of big money working on the North Slope oil fields. It did not enter my consciousness at the time that I was doing anything bad. As a builder in East Hampton for the last 25 years, I’ve worked on a lot of houses that were designed with little attention to how much energy they used. 

I mention that personal history to point out that I understand that many well-intentioned folks who are working hard trying to feed their families see the political issue of climate change primarily as a threat to their livelihoods. 

June 8, 2017
When patients are first diagnosed with cancer, they are faced with a psychological crisis in the form of emotional trauma.

A cancer patient recently presented me with a metaphor: “Doctor, you know I feel as though we are both standing on the corner waiting for a bus. The difference between you and me is that I see my bus coming. You have not yet seen yours.”

What does this tell us about the cancer experience? Reference to travel evokes the metaphor that cancer is a journey, a journey like no other. While the diagnosis is no longer considered a death sentence, serious questions about the purpose and meaning of life emerge. All journeys have a beginning and an ending — the cancer journey is not unique in this regard. We are all waiting for our bus, but the schedule is less than perfect. 

June 1, 2017
The downtown Montauk beach has been destroyed, and, sadly, we predicted this would happen.

Here is a simple fact. The downtown Montauk beach has been destroyed. Sadly, we predicted this would happen. In September of 2014, I wrote an evaluation of the (then) proposed project at the request of the eastern Long Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. My letter to the United States Army Corps of Engineers stated the following:

May 24, 2017
You don’t go to diners for the food, but for solace. The booths are like confessionals in which you spill out your angst.

Have you ever attended a funeral on a gray morning in February with just a few flakes of snow swirling in the air and then afterward retired to a nearby diner with some of your close family or, depending who was buried, friends? That’s the thing about diners. You don’t go for the food, but for solace. The little booths are like confessionals in which you spill out your angst, or relief — in this case at not being the one who was grimly reaped. 

You don’t go to diners for the food, though there are some exceptions, but for company. If you haven’t yet been initiated to the wonder of diners and are wary of the converted silver train cars that some occupy, try to imagine being part of a congregation and sitting in the pews of a church. 

May 18, 2017
One man's Bette Davis obsession, stirred by the recent FX series “Feud,” set during and after the filming of the legendary “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”

“Feud,” the Bette Davis and Joan Crawford saga on FX, is over. Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon play Joan and Bette during the filming of the classic “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” and beyond. It takes place mostly in the early and mid-1960s and is rather eye-opening concerning inside Hollywood and the infighting.

May 11, 2017
With a single bumper sticker I took sides in a war between the dying ranks of stay-at-home moms and the burgeoning throngs of working mothers.

Before social media existed, bumper stickers were one of the most effective communication tools for broadcasting personal business. Nothing announced a neighbor’s family road trip to Disney World via I-95 in their 1976 Ford Country Squire station wagon quite like a South of the Border cactus-and-sombrero motif adornment on the rear chrome.

May 3, 2017
Memories and aftereffects of a thousand foul tips delivered flush into my catcher's mask.

Long before I was invited to try out for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium, I dreamed of being the guy in center field, rubbing eye-black face paint on my cheekbones, making over-the-shoulder, World Series-type catches like number 24, a gazelle shagging flies on a lime-colored, open grass pasture, my body fully extended diving to my left, inches from the ground, snagging a low line drive, lobbing a

April 27, 2017
I coined the term “nostalgia friendships” after someone I’ve known for a quarter-century remarked, “I hope you don’t feel you’re meeting me out of nostalgia.” But I was.

Sometimes it’s hard to be with contemporaries. Perhaps, like me, you have several “nostalgia friendships.” I coined the phrase after someone I’ve known for a quarter-century, and whom I meet every year in Cape Town, remarked, “I hope you don’t feel you’re meeting me out of nostalgia.”

April 20, 2017
The March for Science on April 22 in Washington, D.C., will emphasize that scientific findings should not be ignored by policy makers or made partisan.

Recently, there has been a mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which seems to have given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence. The March for Science on April 22 in Washington, D.C., was planned to emphasize that scientific findings should not be ignored by policy makers.

April 13, 2017
It was in 1972 that Dr. Al Mott came up with the idea for a pageant that would honor the accomplishments, dignity, and inner beauty of women over 60.

“If my friends could see me naaaow . . .”

And many of them did, and family too, at the 2017 Ms. New York Senior America Pageant held last week at the State University at Old Westbury, where I competed. 

Ms. Senior what?

April 6, 2017
A worthy organization flying under the radar and started by an East Hamptoner now needs help.

I am one of those single, childless people who exhaust all their maternal or paternal instincts on their dogs. Scratch that, they are not even my dogs.

March 30, 2017
What if the collaborative brain power that went into the smartphone were applied to society's most intractable problems?

Six neighbors were sitting in a circle when idle chatter began to edge into a discussion of hot-topic social issues — health care, budget proposals, public education, housing, employment, and the environment, just to name a few. Speaking quietly at first, the sharing became more animated, words spoken with increasing vigor and persuasiveness. And volume.