Recent Stories: Opinion

March 18, 2015

I was once a member of a women’s Ping-Pong league. I played for about 10 years, say, from when I was 60 to 70. I’d been baby-sitting my 10-year-old grandson and took him to the local pool hall, where I knew they had a couple of Ping-Pong tables. We could bond as we knocked ourselves out.

Four women alongside us, playing like gangbusters, were taking a lesson. “Why the lesson when you play so well?” I asked.

March 11, 2015

The sign with upside-down letters hangs like an alien landmark on the corner of Shinnecock Road and Foster Avenue, and I know something’s up. When I reach the top of the Ponquogue Bridge I can see a helicopter on the right side of the parking lot and a tented area on the left. At the beach pavilion, people are clumped together on the deck.

“What’s going on?”

“They’re filming a New York State lottery commercial. See that sports car by the tent? Some guy’s gonna drive it across the bridge.”

March 5, 2015

Late in the fall of 2008, Dorothy King told my wife, Carol, and me how to access East Hampton Star archive microfilm through interlibrary loan. This tip greatly aided our research on Jud Banister, a former East Hampton Village mayor and great-uncle of Carol’s. By early spring I had logged 100 hours or more on Amherst College’s microfilm reader when the analogy struck me.

February 25, 2015

Kris Talmage cleans my house and food-shops for me. Every Monday, 8 a.m. sharp, she is here, scanning my face for signs of deterioration and warning me to take care of myself or else, that she’s a tough Bonacker and I’d better not mess with her. I respond that I am a stubborn old Jew, a match for tough Bonackers. She snorts disbelief and then smiles hugely when I tell her I’d just been to Louse Point to see the winter sunrise.

“It was gold dust,” I tell her, “in a frame of deep black clouds.”

February 18, 2015

I’m single. There, I’ve said it, the dreaded S word. The D label fits, but it’s irrelevant.

Not many years ago, in the ’60s, marriage itself was on the brink of obsolescence for some people. Free love, sex, and rock ’n’ roll ruled the day for the young and restless like me. Boys and girls, girls and girls, boys and boys, threesomes and groups cohabitated, guiltless and smug.

February 12, 2015

Even if her life depended on it, my wife cannot tell a joke. In all other ways, she’s brilliant. (Beautiful too.) In fact, the way she ruins a joke is in and of itself amusing and (if I may say so) adorable.

February 4, 2015

We knew, Alice and I, a bit about Ninevah Beach — that it was founded as a community for well-to-do African-American vacationers, especially families escaping New York City for the summer.

It is special, more upscale by reputation than similar black enclaves such as Val Verde Park, Calif., in the Los Angeles area, Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, Idlewild, Mich., Highland Beach, Md., and Atlantic Beach, S.C.

January 28, 2015

It’s that time of year, folks, the holidays are over. We spent too much, ate too much, and drank too much. The season of toomuchness has gutted us and is gone. Time now to buckle down and stop having so much fun. Resolutions, anyone?

January 21, 2015

I was scribbling “Goya painted with a spoon”
when I heard Jane died (Saturn gnawed
his children without a place setting),
I knew enough not to be surprised but I was.
I never got over
the Berliner Ensemble’s Mother Courage,
when she screamed, “I bargained too much” —
for her murdered son’s life.
The actress wore a wooden spoon as a broach.
So tongue tied, I kept “spoon.”
It is not a kind of decoration.

January 14, 2015

Living together is an art, not a mere scientific or mechanical adjustment. All the mechanizations of all the social engineers will not help a heterogeneous people to live together in brotherly, peaceable, happy relationship unless the individuals of society begin early, practice diligently, and learn to delight in the art of living with other peoples and different races.

January 7, 2015

My wife never saw an owl. She would mention this at odd times, fairly regularly. Not just when she was looking at trees in the woods or trees on the street or trees through the car window. And not just when she was refurbishing birdhouses or rehydrating hummingbird feeders or referencing a book of North American birds. She would mention it when putting on her blue snow boots or scrambling eggs, when waiting in line to send a package to our son or get handed a bag of popcorn without butter.

December 30, 2014

When my summer tenants in Southampton asked if they could stay two weeks past Labor Day because their kitchen renovation wasn’t finished yet, I said, “Sure.”

“What would you would charge?” the wife asked on the phone. I knew her husband worked for a wine distributor, so I said, “How about a case of wine? White, red, whatever, maybe a bottle of riesling for my husband.” That seemed fair to me.

December 23, 2014

Long Island from the beginning has had a close relationship with England. On Dec. 24 the United States and Britain celebrated 200 years of unbroken peace.

The peace treaty, the Treaty of Ghent, came after a long period of hostilities. We were on the same side during the French and Indian War, when the wise Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder chased the French out of North America. But as soon as Prime Minister Lord North and George III tried to make the colonies pay for their own protection, the American Revolution was on.

December 18, 2014

A story published in The East Hampton Star on Nov. 27, “Lawyer’s Death Reveals System Failures,” about emergency medical services in the town following the death of Tom Twomey, illustrates the tip of the iceberg. Such stories have played out in the past and will continue to in the future until we implement better solutions.

December 10, 2014

Because of the big storm the other day, the howling winds driving sheets of rain, the ocean beach has written a new chapter for itself. The straggly brown ribbons of seaweed mixed with debris have been swept away, the deeply grooved ruts of crisscrossing truck tracks have been smoothed over, and most footprints are gone.

I’m marveling at clearly visible miles of low-tide, hard-packed glistening sand, brand new and shiny as the sun begins to hover over the day’s freshly painted scene before me. But I can see something is wrong up ahead on the shore.

December 3, 2014

I’m not a gambler, never have been, except for the 2 bucks I lost on the Jets game in ’68 when they lost to the Bills 37-35 and where #12, my idol Joe Namath, threw five interceptions. After that crushing defeat, and after peeling off two worn George Washingtons, I swore I’d never gamble again, ever, and for 40 years that mandate held true.

But recently I discovered the most unlikely of places to alter my anti-gambling vow from “Never again” to “I’m all in,” and it sits in a church on Buell Lane.

November 26, 2014

For the first two decades of my life, Thanksgiving was our only whole-family gathering of the year. The cousins loved the reunion, laughing and hugging and playing an annual game of hide-and-seek. Grandpa cupped his hands, yelled his familiar if not creative “Come and get it,” and the first wafts of Grandma’s wonderful cooking greeted us as we stumbled up the front steps.

November 19, 2014

Cruising T.J. Maxx for designer markdowns and admiring ambitious women are two of my non-guilty pleasures. So when I first heard about Coco Chanel and how she started out as the illegitimate child of street peddlers and ended up a fashion icon and one of the most powerful women of the 20th century, I was hooked by my dolman sleeve.

November 12, 2014

In the locker room each day after I swim, I place my wet swimsuit into a small spin-dryer. Centrifugal force squeezes the water out of my black nylon Speedo.

The sign on the spin-dryer says, “This unit is self-timed and will shut down automatically at the end of its cycle. It will not reset.” This message is an epiphany. An inert spin-dryer sign is communicating not only instructions about a device, but also a decree: After 80 years of being vertical, I Will Not Reset.

November 5, 2014

It was the fourth year we would be staying at Fleuchary House, a sprawling Edwardian bed-and-breakfast in St. Albans, 20 miles north of London, owned by a Scottish woman, Linda Matheson-Titt. The purpose of the trip was to visit my mother-in-law, Violet. We’ve been returning every year since her 90th, when she hired a jazz band to entertain family and friends. I hope my husband, Mick, has inherited her longevity genes. He certainly has his mother’s sense of humor and calm, patient attitude toward life.

October 29, 2014

It’s funny to me when I think about it. Me in circulation. Fifteen years ago my circulation stopped and a man had my heart in his hands and had to put my circulation back together.

October 22, 2014

The last Wednesday before the first day of school, my 14-year-old son, Paul, brandished his $49 two-piece shiny black fishing pole with shocking pink string, rather shocking pink line, while clutching a five-gallon white plastic bucket in his right hand, a small plastic tackle box surprisingly identical to my toolbox in his left, and proudly proclaimed, “I’m gonna catch me a big one today,” and skirted away on his neon yellow 20-inch Tony Hawk signature mountain bike like he was chasing the wobbling green overly friendly alien in “E.T.,” swiveling left

October 15, 2014

Beryle Huntting Stanley inscribed “With Nancy, 1947” on the small black-and-white photo. Her daughter, Carol, and a friend, Nancy Parsons, look back at her, their faces in the afternoon sun. Carol’s slightly pained expression, likely similar to that of many 31/2-year-olds, bears that “Mom, do you have to?” look.

October 8, 2014

“What a great country we have here when it decides to be.” — John Updike
“We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.” — Franklin Delano Roosevelt
In September 1932, Franklin Roosevelt crossed the country to San Francisco to give a speech that contributed mightily to his landslide election to the presidency six weeks later. I yearn to hear the likes of it today from Hillary Clinton.