Letters to the Editor: 01.05.17

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Ruined Our Christmas

East Hampton

December 26, 2016

To the Editor,

This past Christmas Eve, for the first time in a few years, we made a dinner reservation at Almond restaurant as a result of the inviting, featured Christmas Eve entree at Almond printed in The East Hampton Star: Suckling pig, spaetzle, braised cabbage, and apples — a rare entree and accompaniment feature for the Hamptons (with the exception of the Topping Rose House former Sundays pig roast). While making the reservation with Nick of Almond, my enthusiasm reciting those menu items to him was shared by his acknowledgement of the menu. 

While placing our entree orders, our birthday boy waiter (who was enthusiastic, positive, mature, and did his job well) told me the described aforementioned was not so. The suckling pig did not come with spaetzle or braised cabbage and apples. “That was last year’s” menu, he said. 

Rather, the accompaniments were basmati rice and something else, as my jaw dropped in disappointment. I could not even hear what the mismatched accompaniment was while expressing my displeasure and frustration.

I said to the waiter, “I did not make it up, so how could a newspaper advertise your restaurant menu without the restaurant’s knowledge?” 

The waiter responded appropriately by going to the kitchen to see what the situation was. The bottom line, the only thing we can do is make you the cabbage and apples.

I expressed my appreciation, sipped my warm glass of Mount Eden white wine, whereby ice cubes had to be added to chill it down (ruining the wine), as the warm split of Moet, after finally getting the eyeballs of any floor personnel, had to be sent for chilling (an ice bucket left would have resolved the wait time to finally get the bottle back). 

The people sitting next to us ordered the Christmas Eve East Hampton Star-advertised suckling pig menu and concurred what the advertised menu was. They, too, were disappointed and decided to accept what was for other reasons. The next party that was seated next to us came to Almond for the same reason.

All of us except that newly seated duce had the same: maybe four slices of pork, which everyone had to search for — me especially, under a full plate of non-vinegar-flavored, caraway seed-laden cabbage with silvers of a few apples (I do understand this was made on the fly). 

Although our reservation was a half-hour after opening, the experience was of wines not chilled thoroughly, the dinner and appetizer plates that were never cleared, rather piled up. After the appetizer china was cleared, the entree platsand silver remained.

My complaint to Nick the host about the advertised menu went like this: He said they never advertised the suckling pig menu. He asked what newspaper I saw the ad in. He said it must have been a typographical error. 

I said how could a newspaper take it upon itself to list for free on your behalf? He said before they opened for service the chef went over the menu. 

In his way of disregarding my issue, telling me it’s Christmas, I should be happy. I said that is my point, it is Christmas Eve with a special menu. 

The restaurant was not that busy, with his hostesses flanking him, a more appropriate professional approach could have been taken shortly after, had he taken the time to get back to me. 

The purpose of my letter to the editor is how you ruined our Christmas Eve dinner, dining at a restaurant we don’t care for because the menu is not appealing to us, having poor beverage service for a celebratory dinner (from 6 to 7:30 p.m., there were the two same people seated at the bar with no active service required by them, nor was the barman busy tending to any bar tasks).  The East Hampton Star ruined Christmas Eve dinner for some, not just two diners.

And for Almond restaurant, as any dining establishment always looking to stay on top of things: Tweak the wine service mis en place, spend time with the floor hostess teaching them to have their eyes all over the dining room table by table so they just don’t do the walk-by blindly unaware of the customer’s needs. Have the birthday boy waiter (I don’t remember his name) give Nick some training pointers on how to handle matters as this.

The old Almond bar is missed, with a three-deep packed bar on the weekends that never missed a beat, a menu that was straight-forward French-oriented menu compared to the unusual combinations and flavor profiles of this Almond. A disappointing experience, but we are just two customers.

Eric Lemonides: Give a visit and focus to the place when you can. And The East Hampton Star: You can send me a check for the price of the two entree meals that you listed, which never existed.



Dinner at Almond

Great Neck

December 29, 2016

Dear Editor:

This letter is regarding “News for Foodies,” Dec. 22, 2016.

Your article described a rather specific menu for Christmas Eve dinner at Almond. Included was roast suckling pig served with cabbage, caramelized apples, and spaetzle. 

Sounded so delicious, I was prompted to make a reservation. Have not enjoyed spaetzle in years and was looking forward to the culinary delight. 

You can imagine my disappointment when the server said they never planned to include spaetzle on the menu this year. Instead, there was a rice dish. Bah, humbug! Then the proprietor came over and was extremely exasperated and frustrated because he said they never even advertised this year. 

Interestingly, other dining guests sitting close by were similarly disappointed and also stated that they saw the same blurb in The East Hampton Star. 

Can it be that you irresponsibly printed information from previous years without clarification? If Joanne Pilgrim cannot get it correct and be cognizant that the information imparted in her article may impact your readers, then perhaps some coaching is in order, at minimum. 

In the bigger picture, spaetzle is not such an important issue, but being able to depend on the content in your publication is a huge issue. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.


The “News for Foodies” description of the special menu was accurate at the time of publication. However, Jason Weiner, Almond’s executive chef, explained that because of a pre-Christmas cold snap, the restaurant had trouble getting cabbage from its East End farmer-suppliers. Instead of ordering cabbage shipped from far afield, and, after talking to a restaurant staff member who is from Brazil, he decided to substitute for it with a variation on feijoada, using kale and beans grown by Marilee Foster in Sagaponack. Mr. Weiner said that a fund-raiser that night for the Pajama Program charity brought in nearly $1,000. Ed.

Party Town


December 30, 2016

Dear David, 

I have driven for and owned several taxi companies in Montauk since 1991, including Pink Tuna Transport. I had to read and read again the letter written by Paul Monte and Laraine Creegan in your recent edition. 

These individuals must be in complete denial, or else deliberately attempting to mislead the community, not to realize Montauk has become the party town with no equal. I have never witnessed more drunken, reprobate behavior as what I’ve experienced driving a taxi in that “quaint fishing village” this last summer. 

So bad were my experiences that I have packed my bags and left town. I guess that is the real issue here: that tourists will eventually do the same.



Not Great Again


January 1, 2017

Dear David,

In this time when I and my friends are depressed, despondent, despairing, I found a smile the other day when reading the bumper sticker “Make Montauk Not Great Again.” 

Where can I obtain such a sticker, which should be stuck everywhere on the East End?


Town Land Sale


January 1, 2017

Dear David,

The town should not declare the former site of the scavenger waste plant as surplus, or unneeded, property without looking at all of the ramifications of a sale.

Many municipal decisions are constrained by the amount and size of a town’s land holdings, where the land holdings are located, and their actual or feasible zoning. The recent search for the best East Hampton location for the future Southampton Hospital satellite emergency room and treatment center is an example that shows that town-owned commercial land is a rare and needed commodity.

The town owns very little vacant commercial land outside of the airport, and that land has unique financial constraints. The town can rezone its own land, but the vast majority of town-owned properties are nature preserves or community preservation fund open space. The procedure to change any such land to commercial use would be controversial, difficult, and time consuming, sometimes requiring a town-wide referendum.

In my opinion, the rezoning and commercial use of the playing fields behind 300 Pantigo Road for the emergency room will require permission from New York State under its parks alienation doctrine.

Additionally, most of the town’s general municipal properties that do not already have designated uses are in residential neighborhoods, where it would be unsuitable to rezone for heavy commercial use.

Another concern of selling the former scavenger waste site would be the town’s use of the proceeds. Land is a non-depreciating asset, meaning that its value does not go down based on its age or use. Buildings and equipment are depreciable assets with exactly the opposite characteristic. Ideally, the proceeds of a town land sale should go toward purchase of other land. It would be less than optimal to use the proceeds from the sale of land, which is increasingly hard to find and costly to replace, to pay for buildings and equipment that almost always become less valuable as they age.

The conclusion of the above considerations is not that the former scavenger waste site needs to be left empty until there is a compelling town need. One option worth considering is a long-term lease. The airport land on Industrial Road is leased to tenants who construct the improvements, and the town is gaining increasing expertise in how to structure these agreements.

Another option is to sell or swap the land for land that could be used for affordable housing. I have written previously (“Path to Build” in the letters to the editor on March 31, 2016) that the town does not own enough land to meet even a small fraction of that most important need.


Doing Harm

East Hampton

December 12, 2016

To the Editor:

As a physician, I have always strived to bring health care to every patient. The Hippocratic Oath, as its central tenet, states, “First do no harm.” But if physicians, hospitals, and insurance companies, regulated by laws created by Congress, collude to deny medical care from those that cannot afford it, that is exactly what we are doing: harm.

The current system is not perfect and needs a few fixes. We know that. But at least 24 million people have been newly covered since Obamacare’s inception. At least pre-existing conditions are no longer an issue. Many of the newly covered are poor and many have chronic medical conditions. Emergency rooms and hospital budgets are seeing some relief from having to care for those previously uninsured.

In addition, who doesn’t have Medicare? Specially here, on eastern Long Island, we are a community of retirees above 65 years of age and we all have Medicare. Should we be worried? 

Obamacare and Medicare are linked. Medicare was supposed to be bankrupt in 2017 but its financial life has been restored until 2029 and this is being achieved in part by Obamacare itself, which instituted accountable care organizations — those entities designed to coordinate care — and is changing the way Medicare is paid for, that is, transitioning from a fee-for-service model (paying on volume) to a bundled payment model (paying on disease episode). So, eliminating Obamacare endangers the life of Medicare.

Donald J. Trump’s selection of Representative Tom Price to head the Department of Health and Human Services is the clearest signal yet. Representative Price and Speaker Paul Ryan intend to scrap Obamacare and privatize Medicare and Medicaid. The idea is simple: Cut the costs to the government and put the financial burden on the elderly, the retired, the poor, and the sick. 

Those who are young and healthy may get cheaper insurance policies, but others may find it increasingly difficult to get affordable insurance. 

They say that privatized Medicare will be phased in and initially only apply to those under age 55. If it is such a great deal, why deny it to those over 55? You guessed right: It really is not a great deal.

So what can a bunch of anxious retired folks on the East End of Long Island actually do about it? Well, Lee Zeldin is our First Congressional District representative in Congress. He depends very much on the votes of retired folks in his district. His primary goal must be to get reelected in 2018. Now is the time to let him know how you feel. 


The Dance Continues

East Hampton

December 30, 2016

To the Editor,

Debbie and Carrie: If you can hear us in heaven we just want to say thank you. You are two remarkable, ingenious, gifted, clever people who left us in December.

Warm, comedic, responsive, intrinsic, loving, beautiful, mother-daughter on the world stage. The dance continues on the silver screen forever in our lives. We hold you in our hearts, so lucky to have known you, the joy you bring, the path you take into twilight. Heartfelt loss. Deepest sympathy to your beautiful family.

You are missed. So very sorry from your grateful, sorrowful audience.


Morally Bankrupt

East Hampton

January 1, 2017

To the Editor,

David Friedman, the Donald’s choice for ambassador to Israel, is a bankruptcy lawyer who has shown himself to be morally bankrupt. He has accused President Obama of being an anti-Semite and compared those who support a two-state solution to the kapos, Jewish concentration camp prisoners who were coerced or volunteered to assist the Nazis in their campaign of genocide. His call to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a holy city for Muslims, could provoke extraordinary violence.

Fortunately, Gen. James Mattis, the nominee for secretary of defense, sees the need to press forward on a two-state solution lest the continued construction of settlements lead Israel toward an “apartheid” system.

We don’t need or deserve David Friedman, and the Senate should act responsibly and reject his nomination


Drain the Swamp


December 31, 2016

Dear Editor,

I want to write one last letter to The Star before Donald drains the swamp. I don’t know if I can go on after reading how much George Michael, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Princess Leia, and now, sadly, her mom meant to me.

It wasn’t President Obama who stabbed Netanyahu in the back, but our never-united, unless it concerns Israel, United States Senate, which gave Israel $38 billion.

Lastly, free Michael Skakel.


Dear Mr. President

North Haven

January 1, 2017

To the Editor:

Dear Mr. President,

As the year turns and as you, our leader, leave the helm, I wish to resist the overwhelming urge to hang on to your pant leg and scream, “Don’t go!” and to instead thank you — thank you for your service. 

Your unflagging dignity in the face of unprecedented resistance, in the face of adoration, idealization, disrespect, despair, doubt, extreme crisis, and ever-present expectations of superhuman perfection, has exemplified and made a long-hoped-for wish of mine a reality. And it is this:

There is simply no doubt in my mind (and, I believe, in the minds of all who tell the truth) that for the past eight years as our leader your every decision, every goal, every breath, every day, your many great victories and, yes, a few bad mistakes, were exclusively guided by your desire to do the right thing and to offer our country and its people the best circumstance, chance, and life possible. Irreverent regarding your own political gain, your politics as president have been guided, again and again, to serve. 

This is an exceptional thing to watch and experience. I want to tell you that it heals us in ways we may not see for many years to come. It opens the door to creative possibilities inside us and around us that come from the safety of having confidence in our leader’s intentions. Wherever we’ve stood, we have been able to trust that the one charged with being in charge is doing that job not only to the best of his ability, but uncompromisingly for us. 

On a personal level you’ve shown me, and most important my now-adult children (they grew up with you — you were my daughter’s first vote for your first term and my son’s first vote for your second), what it is to live in a land with a righteous leader at the helm, a nurturing parent, a true self. 

As I, and so many in the country move through an incredibly difficult post-election period of mourning (a bit dazed and confused, actually, in utter disbelief that the unrestrained sandcastle-kicker is somehow being escorted to the throne), I struggle to find meaning or cause. I can only assume this must be the universe displaying contrast so that we sharpen our discernment skills. “This is what works.” “This is what doesn’t.” “This is what I want.” “This is what I don’t.” Discernment requires participation. Maybe we are being prodded to participate.

Be that as it may, you must (please) convince, cajole, or, if necessary, guilt your brilliant wife into running in four years. Though she’s already stated she couldn’t possibly do that to your family — tell her anything. Tell her it’s her duty. Tell her we need the first woman president to embody democratic ideals and be guided by the true concerns of our people. Tell her she has to do it for the American children (okay, low blow). Tell her you’ll completely take care of the kids (she may require this in writing). Tell her that her country needs her so it can be whole again. 

As for you, sir, my children and I, eternally grateful, wish you and your beautiful family peace on your continued journey. Your unflagging vision of us as good people, your dedication to our well-being, your sacrifice, and, most profoundly, your inspiring grace and dignity have offered a small bit of that peace to us and to our country. 



No Time Wasted


January 1, 2017

To the Editor,

Here I have to go again: very sad, even tragic, to see that sometimes intelligent, enlightened citizens do not learn from experience, are not strong or brave enough to face and admit embarrassing reality. 

The hype about Vladimir Putin, Russia’s threat, shear nonsense. Russia is practically broke, bankrupt. Oil is its main product, and we all know where that stands. Its population is dwindling: birth rate, migration. Its fleet is badly maintained. Its planes are falling out of the skies. Putin boxed himself and Russia into a dry and barren version of our Vietnam in Syria, with the assured same end results as ours, and this country is a threat to us? Please! 

There is a reason why he, they, are seeking friendship with us: They need us more than we need them. They probably did their best to help Donald Trump to get elected. So what? It only helped the truth to be revealed, the truth. 

Credit to President-elect Trump, the way he handles, plays, this episode as a cool, astute businessman should, so does President Putin. Come on, Democrats, stop whining. If you are looking for reasons of your whipping, look in a mirror, take a good look. Madam secretary, defeated nominee, take a good look. 

Trump and Putin, you do not have to be an expert Freudian personality evaluator, nor an old-fashioned schadchen (matchmaker) to see that these two are made for each other. They will make a great pair, assured to get along beautifully. Temperament, egos, energy, quick on the draw, same speed, and velocity of brain, wheels, and gears. There will be no time wasted when these two will be at the helms of their ships of state. 

And please don’t wave the Ukraine-Crimea happening. The Ukraine was continuously governed, and screwed, by a series of corrupt leaders. The Crimea was more and longer part of Russia than not. The vast majority of the Crimeans prefer and want to be part of Russia. Be assured that if Ukraine and Crimea would have bordered on our country, we would have done the same and more. 

So stand by, Jan. 20: the dawning of a new era, future, exciting, adventures (not dull and boring), accomplishing. And, please note, remember that you heard (read) this here first, in The East Hampton Star, within one year, Russian President Putin will be taking golfing lessons on one of President Trump’s golf courses in Florida. 

Eternal optimist,