Recent Stories: Opinion

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.

October 1, 2014

The East Hampton Town Board recently proposed a rental registration law that has become the topic of much debate. Ostensibly it is designed to address the problem the town has long had in enforcing the existing laws prohibiting group and transit rentals. Unfortunately, the proposed law does not really solve this problem in a meaningful way, although with a few tweaks it could be a lot more effective.

September 24, 2014

In 1961 I was 8 years old and Sandy Koufax was the most dominant pitcher in baseball. He was also my favorite player. It wasn’t common in those days for girls to collect baseball cards, but I did. The only card I did not have was Sandy Koufax.

September 10, 2014

With all of the iPhones, iPads, tablets, laptops, and other devices teens have access to these days, you would think textbooks would be a thing of the past . . . right? Guess again. Carrying around heavy backpacks all day can be very detrimental for growing students, causing stress fractures in the back, inflammation of growth cartilage, and nerve damage in the neck and shoulders. Even with the advancements in technology, the burden of the backpack has not been lifted, in fact it has only increased.

September 3, 2014

I discovered the eminent economist William Vickrey, a 1996 Nobel laureate, in an odd way. Although I’ve written about Wall Street and money for many years, my academic background was not in economics, but in American literature. So when I was looking for a pungent epigraph for “Up From Gold,” my 2012 book on the development of our modern dollar-based economy, I thought of a quip by Gertrude Stein (the doyenne of American writers in 1920s Paris, famous for “a rose is a rose is a rose”). As I remembered it, she said, “Economics is simple.

August 28, 2014

Though the wages are low, man, I don’t get the willies actually starting a new and vastly different career at the overripe age of 66. A part-time summer salesman job in Amagansett, to help out during the busy season.

I came to this decision out of sheer boredom. What to do now that I was doing nothing? So I agreed to sell antiques and tabletop accessories and beach bags and candles and whatnot in a lovely “lifestyle” store, as I adapt to my new lifestyle of retirement-slash-unemployment.

August 20, 2014

“You need to put the sound of a Ferrari, a Porsche, or a McLaren engine in the sound system. When the driver starts the car, he turns a dial and can pick out whatever engine noise he wants that day.” Accosting a board member of a European car maker in a Florida post office, my husband was half-jokingly pitching his brainchild with, atypical for him, enthusiasm.

August 13, 2014

My 11-year-old self is sitting in a chair from Ebbets Field, drinking from a bottle of Pepsi, checking out the charms of the August 1969 Playboy Playmate. I stop staring into Debbie Hooper’s siren eyes when I hear a shout from John F. Murray Jr. — owner of this deck in Wainscott’s Westwoods, forever Brooklyn Dodger fan, supplier of Pepsis and Playboys to hemi-hormoned boys like me, my honorary uncle, and author of the new novel “The Devil Walks on Water,” my current number-one book.

August 6, 2014

Late last fall, I abandoned my signature close-cropped hair for a look that I thought would be less severe and more forgiving to a man of a certain age. Outgrowing the modest tonsorial skills of my partner, David, I retired the home clippers and sought the aid of a professional. And so that is how I found myself in Dustin’s chair.

July 30, 2014

The language of the ocean is vital to anyone who enters. A failure to recognize a rip current or a misreading of the imminent collapse of an approaching large wave can drag any swimmer down in seconds. Comforting thought, I know.

For bodysurfers, timing a wave can make all the difference between a great ride and eating sand the hard way. Before I head into the ocean I take a look around to see how the waves are breaking, and to see if there is a noticeable rip current.

July 23, 2014

I am led by two extracts of wisdom, both acquired while sitting on porches. From Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood.” From Charles Baudelaire: “Genius is childhood recovered at will.”

July 16, 2014

I used to own a home in Amagansett. It was a lovely home, with a pool. A block from the ocean! It was a lifetime ago that I bought it, and a year ago that I sold it.

I move on. Or try to.

I rent now. I rented before I owned — that was a couple of lifetimes ago, and also in Amagansett. A half share, a full share, a couple of thousand dollars, if even that.

July 9, 2014

It was 20 years ago, and I had just written “Visiting Mr. Green,” my first play. The title character is an 86-year-old. Someone introduced me to Eli Wallach, 78 at the time, who without seeing the script or knowing me agreed to do a reading of it.

I was thrilled, until I was told that Eli wouldn’t rehearse the play before the reading. I didn’t know whether this was a star trip, or some kind of Method approach to a new play, but I wasn’t happy about it.

July 2, 2014

“The wonderful thing about football,” the actor and satirist John Cleese says in a two-minute monologue on YouTube, “is how creative it is. And this is why it never caught on in America.”

By football, he means the game played with your feet and with a ball. In our parlance, soccer.

“You see,” he continues, referring to American football, “in America the action is deliberately kept short so that the sponsors can get in as many commercials as possible.”

June 25, 2014

As it has for the past 30-odd years, my White Dawn rose has blossomed the third week of June. I call it the Tuna Rose as the bloom coincides with the arrival of giant bluefin tuna into our local waters. Or so it was in the ’80s when I planted this young rose.

June 18, 2014

I get the feeling that some of our prosperous institutions and second-home owners here are engaged in a race to the bottom to see who can be top Scrooge.

A wealthy East End school announces it will cease paying salaried employees for their 30-minute lunch period. This amounts to a 6-percent pay cut. A country club in sound financial condition awards a 2-percent pay raise to its staff, then, pleading poverty, reduces its health insurance contribution by an amount that surpasses the salary increase.