Letters to the Editor: 05.29.14

Our readers' comments

Passing the Budget
    East Hampton
    May 23, 2014

Dear Editor:
    On behalf of the board of education and the district staff of the East Hampton Union Free School District, I would like to thank the community for its overwhelming support in passing the 2014-15 school budget.
    This approved budget will enable us to continue to provide a quality education for all of our children.

    Sincerely yours,
    Superintendent of Schools
    East Hampton Union
    Free School District

Forward for Education
    East Hampton
    May 23, 2014

To the Editor,
    How well we educate our kids affects not only their lives, but all of ours as well.
    Technology and the increasing rate of innovation will continue to influence our society in unpredictable ways. Therefore our schools must continually adapt so that students are prepared for the world they will enter as adults.
    I invite (urge) everyone to attend an important meeting-discussion about the path forward for education in East Hampton Town on Tuesday, June 9, at 7 p.m. in the East Hampton Middle School auditorium.


Route Is Unsafe
    East Hampton
    May 22, 2014

To the Editor:
    The Wounded Warrior Ride includes a return trip from Sag Harbor. There is a portion of the route that is extremely unsafe.
    The stretch of road on Route 114 from Stephen Hand’s Path to Toilsome needs repair before the next Wounded Warrior Ride. Remember, this is a family ride.


Singing and Smiling
    East Hampton
    May 20, 2014

To the Editor:
    We tend to get caught up in the challenging news of the world and our own seemingly important issues.
    I was shopping at the I.G.A. in Amagansett and I came upon a young man stocking shelves. He was singing and smiling and really appeared to be a happy person. I told him what a great voice he had, and his smile was enormous and made my heart sing.
    Later that same week I was in Waldbaum’s and again heard a young man singing while stocking the shelves.
    This morning, as I was attempting to organize a great deal of clutter, instead of dreading the chore I decided to sing.
    Indeed, the Seven Dwarfs and Walt Disney were correct. Hope I come upon more singing today.


Still in His Mouth
    May 22, 2014

Editor dear,
    I regretfully send you the following cautionary tale.
    A few days ago, in my ongoing efforts to tame him, I lured into my house a very bold and friendly feral cat who visits daily and keeps me company while I garden. He wandered around inside, investigating everything, until he discovered the kitty treats I’d set out to lead him to where I was sitting cross-legged on the floor.
    Closer and closer! After chewing up the treats, he began to paw and nibble at my eyeglasses, which unfortunately were on the floor next to me instead of on my nose. When I saw that his mouth was now around the lens part of the specs, I reached out to retrieve them. The creature instantly shot out the open door and into the woods with my glasses still in his mouth.
    The cat has not returned the glasses and I have not been able to find them. The two lessons here are both contained in my grandmother’s favorite saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.”
    So I ask your readers to be on the lookout for a black and white cat wearing eyeglasses with red frames. A substantial reward is offered.

    Thank you,

Feral Cat Poem #74
The Calico lies curled
on the sun-warmed cloth roof
of the red VW convertible.

Next door, the sultry Yellow
dozes likewise on the hood
of the silver Lexus.

Two feral cats,
seeming safe and secure.

Sort of like the homeless
bums nodding under the
palm trees in Santa Monica.


The Dog Man
    May 19, 2014

Dear David Rattray:
    On Herrick field: in the huddle of righteous athletes, the Dog man.
    And then the cock crows.


Summer With Salt
    East Hampton
    May 23, 2014

Dear David,
    I hope summer visitors and locals alike take time to appreciate the distinctive voice of The Star’s useful new Hamptons Visitors Guide. As in your restaurant guide, the local knowledge and history are impressive.
    Even after 68 years as a summer kid and 20 as a year-rounder I didn’t know Montauk had “Dog Sh*t Hollow,” and it’s a nice democratic touch to point out that the venerable law keeping beaches public makes it perfectly legal to put one’s towel down “in front of some billionaire industrialist’s oceanfront mansion.”
    Especially good is to see the persistence of an ongoing Star tradition that goes back at least to my childhood — taking the summer life with grains of Atlantic Ocean salt. Good on you for pointing out the existence of a “florist in case you need to apologize and a hardware store that can help you mend what the flowers can’t.”


Thanks to Marijane
    May 23, 2014

    I would like to add my name to those lauding Marijane Meaker and her Ashawagh Hall Writers Workshop upon her retirement. I entered the workshop 17 years ago, an aspiring author; I leave in possession of the writer’s Holy Grail, several New York Times best sellers.
    My heartfelt thanks to Marijane — mentor, colleague, friend.


Maximum Distribution
    East Hampton
    May 25, 2014

To the Editor:
    Nanci E. LaGarenne’s claim that self-publishing her book with CreateSpace caused BookHampton to “reject” carrying it (“The Deadliest Sin,” Letters, May 22) is very puzzling. It could mislead other Star reader-authors who are considering using this subsidiary of Amazon for production and distribution of their self-published titles. Her statements that she was “not permitted to have my book sold in BookHampton,” and had to arrange for other local bookshops to carry her title on consignment, flatly contradict my own experience.
    In my case, a well-regarded literary agent tried for two and a half years to place my new book with a publisher. After she regretfully gave up, I was encouraged to contact CreateSpace by Reynolds Dodson, a columnist for The Southampton Press, who had used it to self-publish an anthology of his weekly articles, titled “A Cockeyed Guide to the Hamptons.” 
    I sent CreateSpace a single $39 payment to enroll my book in its “expanded distribution” network. This makes it available to any book retailer who deals with the giant wholesaler Ingram. Not surprisingly, the wholesaler’s markup means that each sale through a bricks-and-mortar store pays the author a smaller royalty than a book sold directly by Amazon online. But my income per copy was far less important to me than having my title as widely available as possible through retail outlets in this country and abroad.
    When people I meet locally ask me where they can see my book, I usually suggest they stop in at BookHampton or their most accessible community bookshop. If my title isn’t in stock at the moment, it can be ordered for delivery in a few days.
    In the three years since my book appeared, more than a third of all copies sold (37 percent, to be precise) have been through bookstores in the expanded distribution channel. No consignments. No hassle!
    Charline Spektor, the owner of BookHampton, initially expressed interest in helping to promote my title (a pet memoir) with a meet-the-author event. Then, she learned that Amazon loomed large in the background — even though I myself, not Amazon, am the official publisher of record — and withdrew her invitation.  But her shops continue to carry my book and fill customers’ requests through its wholesaler, Ingram. And I’ve been fortunate to have won promotional support from other local sources, notably the East Hampton Library’s Authors Night benefit and a weekend reading and signing. 
    I hope others won’t be dissuaded by Ms. LaGarenne’s letter from self-publishing through CreateSpace. On balance, it did a pretty competent job for me. But I’d strongly urge authors to avail themselves of Amazon’s maximum distribution potential.


Tres Yummy
    East Hampton
    May 24, 2014

Dear David,
    I am a great fan of Trader Joe’s. I take the journey to Lake Grove every few months to stock up on everything I can fit in my fridge and pantry shelves. Its selection is extensive, interesting, and very, very reasonably priced. Unlike the so-called gourmet store rapidly expanding out here, T.J.’s is always restocking (even during the week and all through the winter) because every customer is important to it, not just the weekend and summer crowd. It has customer specialists on the floor to answer questions and help search out products. It has many organic items, and at a minimum premium. It also carries many Belgian chocolate items and French tarts which are tres yummy.
    There is apparently a Facebook group site created by a Southold resident called Trader Joe’s Riverhead, N.Y., Location Request Group. If not there, I Googled Trader Joe’s, then to “About Us” on the right side of the page, “Contact TRJ” under “Customer Updates,” to “Customer Questions & Feedback,” click on “Product Information,” click on “Location Requests,” then click on “Show Me,” the form, and fill it out.
    With Costco opening in Riverhead this summer for those extra-large-size basics, Trader Joe’s would be the perfect compliment. A manager in the store recently told us that it is looking for a location, so getting your request added to the list can only help encourage it to make it happen!


Our Common Good
    May 26, 2014
Dear Mr. Rattray,
    Just as our thoughts and ideas lead to language, and our words create actions, community concepts like “home” are codified into laws that protect and defend our common good.
    Such is the draft legislation to address the zoning of “formula” businesses. All who understand the connected values of our local economy and environment should applaud these ideas and support efforts for this legislation.
    Have you ever experienced a sense of homesickness while in your hometown because of the slow but consistent advance of radical change? When your local economy and environment begin to degrade and the basic reasons for living in your hometown evaporate, this profoundly disturbing psychological experience is called “solastalgia,” a word coined by Glenn Albrecht, an Australian philosopher, combining the Latin root for comfort (solacium) and the ancient Greek word algia, for pain.
    It is our unique and beautiful environment, which attracts tourists and second-home owners to our towns in East Hampton, in turn supporting our local businesses. “Locals” and “tourists” alike love our beaches and bays and value our locally owned restaurants, stores, and services. Together, we support our local farmers, fishermen, landscapers, builders, and artists; we all love the local characteristics, which, together, we agree to call our home.
    When formula businesses (a k a big-box stores or global franchises) are accepted into a local economy without consideration, the resultant homogenization diminishes and finally eliminates our ability to source local products and services. When our hometown looks like everywhere else, and later, when formula stores proliferate in our hometowns like an invasive species displacing our local economies, the fundamental connection to our hometown is broken and can never be returned.
    East Hampton Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby’s ideas for formula store legislation are right-minded, and the inherent difficulties we will face translating those ideas into verbiage for our common, economic, and environmental well-being should not be a detriment to enacting these laws which foster economic growth while preserving the local characteristics, which is how we define our home.


Deface and Destroy
    East Hampton
    May 26, 2014

Dear David,
    I am proud to be an East Hampton resident, particularly after attending Thursday’s Town Hall meeting, where I learned about the town’s commitment to harness solar and wind energies in the near future. Bravo to the committees and the town officials who have seen the light of our sun and shores.
    But we cannot ignore the outrageous PSEG utility towers that have been perpetrated on the most beautiful village and town in the country.  They were put up without a proper discussion, almost in the dark of night. Some are on small residential streets, looming over homes. They contain chemicals that may be harmful, and the power transmission so close to homes may also create health hazards. Trees were butchered as they were installed.
    The stalag-like structure at the Amagansett railroad station that now blights our landscape has to be rethought completely. This is why we have zoning rules, require building permits, review boards, and yes, town and village boards: to prevent the very atrocities that have occurred in the past few months. I hope our governor realizes what has been done to our town and gets the lines buried as they should have been in the first place.
    Are we going to let an out-of-town company deface and destroy our beauty, health, and safety? I’m not taking it anymore.


By 2020
    May 26, 2014

Dear David,
    Last Thursday evening, the energy sustainability committee, chaired by Frank Dalene, gave a presentation on the comprehensive energy vision for the Town of East Hampton. It was extremely informative to the many residents who attended. It was also filmed by LTV, so make sure you get to watch the presentation when it is aired. The liaison to the committee, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby, deserves our praise for taking the lead in creating a town document that is the first in New York State. It states that the town will be energy self-sufficient by 2020.
    Gordian Raacke, a member of the committee, was part of the presentation, as was John Botos of the Natural Resources Department. The establishment of goals for renewable energy is in East Hampton’s future.
    In Saturday’s New York Times, Gail Collins wrote an op-ed piece about the federal government letting the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill be squashed. The bill’s demise makes East Hampton the real star in pursuing energy efficiency for our town.
    It is energizing to know our government is taking the lead in this area. Kudos to Ms. Overby, Mr. Dalene, Mr. Raacke, and Mr. Botos and Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell for seeing to it that this will happen.


Victims of Terrorism
    May 26, 2014

To the Editor:
    In the editorial section of The Star last week as well as in your article the week before, you kept referring to the “Dark Elegy” memorial as a dedication to the bombing of Pan Am 103. Although “Dark Elegy” was certainly born out of that horrific tragedy, which remained the largest terrorist attack against American civilians until Sept. 11, 2001, it has always been dedicated to all victims of terrorism!
    I felt that this important difference should be pointed out to you!
     Thank you for your newspaper’s support.


Stay Where It Is
    East Hampton
    May 26, 2014

To the Editor:
    Suse Lowenstein created “Dark Elegy,” sculptures of oversized naked women crawling, crouching, kneeling, lying, and rolling on the ground, lamenting and exhibiting their grief over their husbands, sons, and daughters killed in the bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland. Ms Lowenstein’s work may be a consolation to her, having lost her son in the bombing. However there are several hundred other relatives who might prefer to have their killed family members memorialized in a more discreet and tasteful manner. After all, the memorial should be for the people who died, not their wives and mothers.
    Several memorials for the Lockerbie bombing victims already exist in the United States and there is one in Lockerbie. The Pan Am bombing was not a Montauk disaster and therefore — in my opinion — has no place to be exhibited in a Montauk park. It should stay where it is now, on Ms. Lowenstein’s property.


Moving ‘Dark Elegy’
    May 26, 2014

Dear David,
    “Dark Elegy,” a massive sculptural assemblage by Suse Lowenstein, a Montauk artist, has been offered for placement by the artist in Montauk’s Kirk Park.
    “Dark Elegy” is an anguished reminder for the naked brutality of the loss of a child. “Dark Elegy” is Suse’s expression of how she, and other mothers, felt upon learning of the death of their children by terrorism over Lockerbie, Scotland, on Pam Am Flight 103 in 1988.
    I am part of the sisterhood that has outlived their child. I am grateful that, for those who choose to, “Dark Elegy” can be visited at the Lowensteins’ beautiful property on East Lake Drive.
    I fear that moving “Dark Elegy” to Kirk Park, a public park, could create a worrisome precedent for other donations, and I fear for possible inappropriate reactions.
    Perhaps the new East Hampton Arts Council might have some mitigating ideas?

    All good things,

Amazing Work
    East Hampton
    May 25, 2014

Dear David:
    Last week I had the opportunity to see Suse Lowenstein’s amazing work, “Dark Elegy.” Your May 22 editorial expressed misgivings about moving the installation to Kirk Park, citing the risk of vandalism and the size and scope of the memorial. These seem to me poor reasons for the town to reject this powerful work of art.
    “Dark Elegy” evokes in the viewer the pain suffered by those who lost loved ones at Lockerbie. It’s an emotional experience that brings home the horror of terrorism in the most personal of ways. To put it on public display in Montauk, the home of the Lowensteins, would be a true gift to our community.


Homage to the Dead
    May 23, 2014

Dear David,
    When I saw the title to your editorial, I said, “Terrific.  David really got the message. This sure is a ‘Different Memorial.’ ” But the truth is that you missed the message entirely. “Dark Elegy” is a memorial that speaks to the universality of the victims of terrorism. It is about the commonality of us all in our reaction to the horror of terrorism. It speaks not only to grief, but to love as well. There was not one mention of the term terrorism or terrorist in the editorial.
    You cannot get the message of “Dark Elegy” unless you personally experience it. A photo cannot capture the emotional impact that a personal viewing imparts. Please visit or revisit it and then write the article, not because it is, or isn’t, appropriate to a Memorial Day deadline and holiday, but more because it goes way beyond that of being a homage to the dead. It is because terrorism has been and still is both real and potentially local.
    Montauk is more than just a place for “revelers.” It is an important historical location with other important historical locations in it. Having “Dark Elegy” in Montauk will help keep in balance our thirst for fun and the need for more sober reflection.


Hateful Politics
    East Hampton
    May 9, 2014

Dear Editor,
    It is with much nausea and anger that I read and listen to the same echo-chamber remarks of an obviously Fox Faux News-programmed woman letter writer, and others, about a “cover-up” by the White House after the Benghazi terror attack and now about the horror in Nigeria.
    They don’t espouse ideas. They don’t look for solutions. They just hunt for scandals.
    What was there to cover up about Benghazi? That four Americans, including a wonderful ambassador, were killed in a terrorist attack? Fully reported! That the first day or two after the deaths, the White House, the State Department, and the C.I.A. weren’t sure if it was a terrorist attack or a revenge attack for some anti-Muslim video? The dead, including a popular ambassador, were killed and there were immediate explanations compiled and issued.
    Unfortunately, as often happens under pressure, the “talking points” from the White House were scrambled and unclear. Now the Republicans think they smell blood and begin their usual concerted attacks and blame game.
    The incident at Benghazi was investigated by Congress twice. The Senate, with a bipartisan committee, held hearings and issued a report describing failures of the rules and regulations set up to protect our embassies and personnel working overseas. It issued a report and many changes were implemented in the State Department protocol for overseas protection of our people.
    Secretary of State Clinton testified at a hearing in the House of Representatives.
    Neither investigation and no other evidence elicited showed lying or a cover-up as the Republicans are charging. Over 10,000 documents and emails were provided to the investigators but one email — mind you, one — has surfaced which indicates that the White House discussed the so-called talking points issued concerning the incident. So what, for goodness sake? Has no White House ever managed its press releases? Has no other White House, Democratic or Republican, ever altered facts for reasons important to them at the time? Come on!
    Look, these people hate Obama. They fear Hillary. So they need dirt to bring them down.
    Now they have a select committee to investigate a third time to determine other similarly innocuous questions. Why the ambassador was in Benghazi in the first place. Hmmmm. For this they need a multimillion-dollar investigation?
    This woman letter writer and her cohorts on the right are obviously unaware (as usual) of the history of terrorist attacks overseas against American outposts and how the political opposition in the past, rather than make political points, turned to the matter of how we could prevent them from happening again.
    From 1990 to date, never has either political party attempted to use foreign policy for partisan local political purposes as is now being done with Benghazi, nor raised contributions based upon the alleged blame game! Today, these Republicans, dying to find a scandal to use against Obama and Hillary, are lost. Using Benghazi and now Nigerian terror groups, are just other ventures into hateful politics.
    And now they’ll hold contempt hearings on poor Lois Lerner, but that too will fall flat as the American people see the Issa syndrome as overkill.
    Tune in again soon, folks, when the collective minds and computers of the sworn Obama haters try to conjure up more. Whoops, here come the V.A. horror stories, which, we do know at least, are the reprehensible actions of hospital administrators looking to enhance their résumés and falsify records of timely care. Guaranteed they will be gone in 30 days.