Recent Stories: Opinion

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.

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: