Recent Stories: Opinion

February 7, 2018
Ah, the largely independent joys of this thing they call an apartnership.

In this newish century, who needs marriage? Eight of my closest friends are in four marriages, each of which has lasted more than half a century. Admitting that fact is designed to dispose of any suspicions that I don’t support conventional marriage — if that’s what you think you want.

January 31, 2018
If you knew what’s really in those detergents and softeners, you might change your laundry routine forever.

Have you ever wondered what’s in that bottle of detergent or softener you pour into your washing machine, or on that fragrant dryer sheet you throw into your dryer? Well, it’s time you did, because the truth about your laundry products might make you change your laundry routine forever.

January 24, 2018
In hindsight, the Beatles were as Nobel worthy as Bob Dylan or Albert Einstein. Original, thoughtful, creative rebels, they rejected what came before them.

In hindsight, the Beatles were as Nobel worthy as Bob Dylan or Albert Einstein.

They’re always quoted. Their words mutate, not into gold, like a surreal version of the Midas touch, but into printer’s ink. They inspire intense admiration. They stand on tall pedestals. They display outrageous behavior. Boldness. Notoriety. Irreverence. Blasphemy. Albert Einstein, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan inhabit public universes linked by Google. 

January 17, 2018
Bernadette Peters with me in the audience? On two opening nights 20 years apart? And now she’s got her own opening night in “Hello, Dolly!” on Jan. 20.

I love musicals. Maybe you’ve seen my writing about them here. My encounters with Stephen Sondheim, my adoration of Kander and Ebb. And now, how much I also love Jerry Herman, with “Hello, Dolly!” hitting the big-bucks time with the revival (tickets top a grand, I just read). I’ve seen it twice. Once with the Divine Miss M, and then with the lesser but equally fabulous other Miss M, Donna Murphy.

Brilliant.

January 10, 2018
A First Congressional District candidate with a scientific background emphasizes environmental protection.

Like many of you, when I was growing up, all the outdoors was my playground. From the rocks left behind by long-ago glaciers to the mysterious seashells washed ashore on the beach, this dynamic environment of ours has always fascinated me. That fascination with nature turned into my pursuit of science. Physics led me to a world of problem solving; biology reaffirmed my reasons for trying harder to understand our world and to make it a better place. 

Bruce Buschel
January 3, 2018
If “battling cancer” has long been a misguided metaphor, it seems spectacularly inapposite in connection with the redoubtable John McCain.

Whatever transpires in 2018, cancer will not defeat John McCain. 

Cancer is neither an opponent nor a binary condition, and the sooner we stop pitting humans against a disease, stop using war metaphors in the field of medicine, the better off we all shall be, especially cancer patients and their loved ones. Many a mislabeled loser has been quietly valiant and privately heroic.

December 27, 2017
Will we no longer be able to read or see work by thieves like Jean Genet, sex offenders like Roman Polanski, or bigots like Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot?

I am sending a letter of resignation to Minnesota Public Radio, the three major networks, CNN, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The Washington Post in anticipation of allegations that I might harass someone if I were hired to become part of their staffs. Harassment is viral and I am no longer certain my autonomic nervous system can be relied on in situations where there are other bodies in an enclosed space. After all, it’s by definition autonomic, right? It’s easy to forget that man’s an animal as well as a conscious being.

December 20, 2017
It's time to get back to the divinity who inspired us originally — to love and forgiveness, to turning the other cheek and total nonviolence.

I am 76 years old and I have been listening to sermons for all those 76 years. My religiously devout parents took me to church from the get-go. I had the longest string of perfect attendance pins in the history of the Oak Park Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia — one of the longest strings of perfect attendance pins in the whole of the U.S.A. I have heard thousands of sermons, sung millions of hymns, and heard the Bible explained in trillions of ways.

Often while listening or singing I have wished I had a basket of rotten fruit to heave at the pulpit and express my opinion of the preacher — such nonsense from the pulpit, such pap in the hymns, such utter confusion in Bible spinning. 

Amanda M. Fairbanks
December 13, 2017
Walking into the garage and dusting off our box of Christmas decorations moved me, unexpectedly, to tears.

“Moving to California is a lot like living in the future,” my friend Peter said to me, as I was fresh from the trauma of moving from Sag Harbor to Marin County one year ago. 

Though Los Angeles runs through both sides of my family for generations, our relocation to Northern California couldn’t have come as more of a shock. The early days of moving felt a bit like trying on a foreign country for size — learning new ways of dressing (Patagonia and Birkenstocks) and socializing (make plans but don’t commit too forcefully). Also, fragrance is forbidden, and recreational cannabis has replaced the evening cocktail.

December 6, 2017
When I was diagnosed with lymphoma eight years ago, my search for strength and solace involved bringing as much music into my life as possible.

Those of us who’ve been there know where the mind goes when the words “It’s cancer, I’m so sorry” become an indelible part of one’s story. I won’t even try to cover the possible reactions we experience, whether the news refers to us or to a loved one. But the shock passes and the acceptance slowly takes over, and the search for strength and solace begins.

November 29, 2017
In the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, a grad student's deep dive into the question of equal protection vis-a-vis the integration of public schools.

When I entered grad school at the University of Wisconsin in the fall of 1956, my graduate professor in American history asked if I had a thesis subject in mind. I said I didn’t yet have one, and he asked if I would take a project on. Then he explained what it was.

November 22, 2017
During this 200th anniversary of Henry David Thoreau's birth, let's rededicate ourselves to the high value he placed on childhood.

This year is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Henry David Thoreau. In recognition of the occasion, celebrations have highlighted the better-known aspects of his life and work. For example, events have featured Thoreau’s two years of spartan existence at Walden Pond and his decision to go to jail rather than pay taxes to support the Mexican-American War and slavery.

I would like to call attention to a relatively neglected theme in Thoreau’s thinking: The high value he placed on childhood.

November 16, 2017
I don’t think I can take another Thanksgiving with my overzealous, politically inclined relatives.

I wonder if it would be socially acceptable to dump my family and invite myself to eat the holiday feast with the Johnsons, total strangers who live down the block — ’cause I don’t think I can take another year with my overzealous, politically inclined relatives. And I predict this year will be a doozy.

Besides, I hear the Johnsons are politically apathetic. So what if the cooking is bland? I can picture my surrogate relations now — they’ll have mellow yellow candles glowing in each window. Zen music will be coming from every orifice of their walls. Maybe all they’ll argue about over dinner is the wishbone. 

November 9, 2017
We don’t need Facebook or Twitter to teach us about the timeless harassment of women. Just open up the Bible.

The harrowing tales of sexual assault and harassment have continuously bombarded my computer screen for the last two weeks. I knew this kind of abuse was happening throughout the world, but I didn’t know how ingrained it was in the everyday lives of American women. I thought Harvey Weinstein, who tyrannically harassed and assaulted Hollywood actresses, was a phenomenon, but I was wrong. The trending #MeToo has opened my eyes to see that sexual violence, assault, and harassment are far too common. 

Yet we don’t need Facebook or Twitter to teach us about the timeless harassment of women. Just open up the Bible.

#MeToo: Sarah is forcefully inducted into the harems of Pharaoh and Abimelech (Genesis 12 and Genesis 20).

November 2, 2017
Lessons from the Block Island Wind Farm apply to the Deepwater plan off Montauk.

Recently I joined a group on the Viking Ferry to Block Island to see and hear more about that island’s experience with its five offshore “windmills” and the proposed farm of 15 or more, 35 miles over the horizon from Montauk in federal waters. Deepwater Wind’s proposal to provide clean power for Long Island with offshore turbines was chosen by the Long Island Power Authority as the least expensive bid, and it is clearly the environmentally preferable one too.

October 26, 2017
The floral odyssey across northeastern Pennsylvania was part of a master plan to help my mother forget her fading body.

Last fall my mother and I planted 16 hyacinth bulbs in five municipalities in three counties all over the northeastern Pennsylvania countryside. Our pilgrimage took us to her Zionsville cemetery, the Kutztown church where she had a nearly nasty fall, and a Moore Township tree almost as old as her 94 years. 

October 19, 2017
We are faced with a senseless one-stop shopping order that treats us like irresponsible children.

An open letter to Diane Patrizio, director, Department of Human Services, Town of East Hampton.

Re: Disturbing changes in the Suffolk County Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program, or EISEP.

Dear Diane,

As I noted to you in my email of July 5th, your recent one-store-only food shopping order for the town’s EISEP clients requires me to defy my doctor’s orders.

This results from diagnoses over recent years of such old-age-related conditions as a carotid artery blockage, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and low red cell counts, which translates into my need to consume fresh fish and meats. I have not found the fish at our local supermarkets, the I.G.A. and Stop and Shop, to be reliably fresh.

October 12, 2017
Memories of chasing stars, after-parties, and a plane falling from the sky at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

Over the past 25 years covering the Hamptons International Film Festival for newspapers, TV, and radio, it has been a wild ride of different theater venues, celebrity interviews, after-parties, and films that often went on to win Academy Awards.

Sir Patrick Stewart, of Shakespeare and “Star Trek” fame, said it best at one of the festival’s “A Conversation With . . .” programs on Saturday when he emphasized the importance of the arts. Whether it’s painting, writing, music, or dancing, he said, the arts give a community its soul and inspiration.

October 5, 2017
For a while I liked having the fine art catalogs around, for making collages and turning into Christmas cards. The problem, of course, was the prices.

About two years ago, I canceled our subscription to Sotheby’s fine art auction catalogs. I canceled our subscriptions with Christie’s and Phillips too. During auction season, which is roughly twice a year in New York, the catalogs would come fast and furious, hand-delivered by a bicycle messenger, sometimes twice or three times a day, a battered delivery log for me to sign, a creamy white “With our compliments” card tucked into the package. 

September 28, 2017
Where is that wayward but always underfoot shadow of a dog? And can a brother be forgiven for believing his late sister lives on in her pet?

It’s gone. I know. Another summer, another year barreling by.

That title up there actually has a second meaning. Summer is the name of a poof of a poodle, under six pounds, jet-black hair, now aging with some white around the mouth. She’s got this very (purposely) unkempt look — her hair covering her eyes and dangling haphazardly in soft twirls off her bony body. She also appears as if she’s walking on tiptoe. Everyone on the street wonders what kind of dog she is. 

She’s Summer, dark and small and shapeless, hard to tell her front from her back. At rest, she resembles a black mop head. Or a fake-fur throw pillow.

September 21, 2017
I just lost a good bit of the sight in one eye, and in this ephemeral time of adaptation my brain is learning how to weave information together in a new way.

This morning, brushing my teeth, I closed my eyes. I saw only black. I opened them again, all without thinking, and the light rushed back in, not just light but the outpouring of information it brought, the edges, the planes, the colors, the textures of the world; its orientation, heaviness, opacity and translucence, weight and delicacy and shimmer, its meeting points and the interplay between everything and everything. So much. It spoke to me from all around.

September 14, 2017
The oceans absorb about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels, making seawater more acidic and in turn impairing shell formation and stressing corals.

While some politicians claim that climate change is a hoax, and climate scientists try to refine their models and forecasts of exactly how much warming will take place in the next few decades, marine scientists can see clearly the evidence of what has already happened. 

Everyone has heard about melting glaciers and dying coral reefs, but climate change is doing something else that is equally dangerous. The oceans absorb about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted from burning fossil fuels. In one way that’s good, because it slows down the warming, but it is making the seawater more acidic. CO2 in the ocean combines with water to form carbonic acid and makes the water more acidic — in fact 30 percent more acidic in recent decades. 

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.