Tag Archive | "Maryanne Calendrille"

Villagers Question Reason to Burn Flag

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Norway Flag adjusted

By Claire Walla

On July 22, when the Scandinavian nation of Norway suffered two brutal attacks which killed a total of 77 people, the world reeled. Headlines around the globe broadcast reactions from communities shaken by the grisly events and political leaders expressed their deepest sympathies for the country.

Here in Sag Harbor, Anton and Christine Hagen — who lived in Norway for four years in the late 70s and even gave birth to a son there — hung a Norwegian flag on the gate outside their home.
On Thursday, July 28, that flag was burned.

“I have no idea who did it,” Anton said on the afternoon the charred flag was first discovered. “But I think what it could point to is an individual who doesn’t understand that that’s a Norwegian flag and just sees another flag and has hostility toward anything foreign.”

According to an incident report at the Sag Harbor Village Police Department, the Hagens also received a suspicious phone call on Friday, July 29 from a caller who said she was looking for a man named Eric, whom she said had called her from the Hagens’ home phone. Neither Anton nor Christine knew who the caller was, and when Anton asked her identity, the woman allegedly replied: “I’m am not in f***ing Norway, f*** you,” and hung up. She has not been identified.)

As for the flag, Anton continued, “Anyone who would be aware of what happened in Norway would understand it, of course, and couldn’t possibly object to it.”

The killings in Norway were pre-meditated acts committed by an extreme Christian right activist named Anders Behring Breivik, a native Norwegian. On the morning of July 22, he set-off a car bomb outside the Norwegian parliament building in Oslo, which killed seven people, before dressing as a police officer and traveling to an island just outside the Norwegian capital where he proceeded to kill 70 people with an automatic weapon. In a 1,500-page manifesto he published on the Internet shortly before the killings, he ranted against the left-wing Labor Party, which he felt was too sympathetic toward Muslims.

The Hagens’ flag — which was left hanging for several days before being replaced — appeared to have been burned from the bottom right-hand corner. The flames ate away at the right side of the red, white and blue rectangle, burning long oval holes into the material before fading away. The fence itself, which was made of wood, was undamaged.

According to the Hagens, Pierce Hance — former Sag Harbor Village Mayor — was the last person to have seen the flag on Wednesday night, and the first person to have seen the charred version of it the next morning.
“I was on the other side of the street when I saw it,” he said. “And I thought, ‘For God’s sake, why did somebody do that?’”

Hance was out walking his dog around 9 p.m. when he last saw the flag intact. He said the flag had been there several days at that point.

“The next morning at 7 a.m. I was again walking the dog and it had been burned,” he confirmed. When he told Christine about the incident, he said he encouraged her to leave the flag where it was. “Let people see it, for what it’s worth,” he said.

The Hagens, who rarely fly flags at all, said they put the Norwegian flag up out of solidarity for the Scandinavian country, where they still have some family members. Since the flag was desecrated, several community members have expressed disbelief and shock.

A caller to the Sag Harbor Express last week said he was “horrified” to see that the flag had been burned. “It’s just terrible,” he said. “I was really upset by it.” And Maryanne Calendrille, who works a few feet away at Canio’s Books, said the sight was “unnerving.”

“You think [Sag Harbor] is this sweet, sleepy resort town, and then you realize there are these other things going on,” she said of the incident.

While the motivation for such an act is unclear, the Hagens tend to think it was committed by someone in thecommunity with a particular aversion to anything appearing to be foreign, rather than any political comment on the incidents in Norway. This is mostly because, they say, unfortunately they’ve been privy to such events in the past.

“Over the years, we’ve been subjected to foreign vandalism,” Anton said, which he and his wife link to the prominence of their German heritage. Both he and Christine speak fluent German, as do their kids, and Christine was raised in Germany. (Anton was actually born in France, where he lived for 12 years before moving to Bridgehampton.)

Not only has their home been vandalized, but Christine said it was once shot at by someone with a BB gun in the middle of the night — a pellet even hit Christine in the head. “The last straw,” according to Christine, was about five years ago when local kids poured acid into the fuel tank of their son’s car.

“We make no apologies for being German, at all,” Anton said. “In fact, there’s a great deal of anti-militarism in Germany… They’re really careful with flag-waving, which is why I’m also still very careful about flag-waving,” he said with a slight smirk, recognizing the irony of the situation. “And then… there goes our Norwegian flag.”
But the Hagens don’t believe this event is anything that targeted them personally.
“I just think it’s some ignorant person…” Christine began.

“Who doesn’t know the difference between a Norwegian flag or an Earth flag,” Anton continued.

The Hagens have since replaced the totem with a new Norwegian flag. It is hanging, like the last, over the gate that leads to their front door.

Like the Hagens, Hance said he felt the flag was burned on purpose, but without any tie to the recent killings in Norway.

“It was obviously deliberate,” Hance said. “You don’t accidentally set a flag on fire on somebody’s gate.” But Hance said he could not reasonably speculate on why a person would do such a thing. “There’s no motivation that’s acceptable,” he continued. “You can speculate from a very, very foolish, ignorant prank to some editorial comment.”

Hance said he’s inclined to believe the act was random — not a statement of protest.
“If it were someone who recognized the flag and was cognizant of current events, you’d have to assume that person was burning it in support of the person who committed the murders in Norway…” His voice trailed off. “And you don’t want to go there.”

Books: Adjusting to a Changing Readership

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Books Pic adjusted

By Claire Walla

The closing of the Borders chain of bookstores two weeks ago served as another reminder to those in the book biz of how fragile the industry has become in the last few years. And it’s caused some to wonder: what’s the future of the book?

In a serendipitous course of events, last week our local independent chain Book Hampton in Sag Harbor hosted a talk with Harper Collins publisher Jonathan Burnham, called “On The Edge: The Future of Publishing.” In a conversation with BookHampton owner Charlene Spektor, Burnham discussed the elements now plaguing the industry, and what booksellers can expect to see in the future. (The forecast is rather uncertain.)

“What’s happening at the moment is that there is a migration of readers from books [or, what the publishing industry now refers to as p-books] to e-books,” Burnham explained. He said digital sales at Harper Collins started as a nascent trend about a year ago. But, while e-book sales were about five percent of Harper Collins’ overall business last year, that total has now hit around 40 percent.

“What’s interesting to us is how fast that’s happened,” Burnham continued. “There has been a huge change [in consumer spending habits] and we the publishers are finding it hard to keep up.”

While many have blamed Borders’ downfall on the company’s failure to latch on to e-book publishing as early as its competitor, Barnes & Noble, which actually manufactured its own e-reader, the Nook, the boom of the digital market has made waves locally, as well.

Burnham called this “the year of difficult questions,” an assertion with which independent book sellers here in Sag Harbor would agree.

Both Spektor, owner of BookHampton, and Maryanne Calendrille, owner of Canio’s Books just up the way, expressed uncertainty when it came to the future of their business. Though both shops are finding creative ways to increase local interest and up revenue (including upping their online presence and expanding the scope of business to include public speakers), neither can tell what the future will hold.

For Spektor, changing times has meant shifting gears. While she said BookHampton rests on a tradition of personal service, that concept has broadened in the wake of the digital revolution.

In the past year, BookHampton has begun selling e-books to customers, largely in response to the fact that people began walking in the store, taking stock of interesting titles and then purchasing those books online at a later date. The chain has also put effort into boosting its online presence, creating a website that, Spektor said, bears the intimate feel of the store itself. In fact, employees refer to the site as “the fourth store.” (BookHampton has physical locations in Sag Harbor, Southampton and East Hampton.)

What it really boils down to, she said, is that “independent bookstores reflect the community that they’re in. “What we have is a tradition of personal service: making recommendations and listening [to people’s questions],” she explained. “All of those things you don’t really get when you go online. Online, it’s just an algorithm.”

On a warm Tuesday afternoon, Maryanne Calendrille answered a customer’s questions and made literary recommendations at Canio’s Books on Main Street, just up the road from BookHampton.
After noticing a worn collection of Harvard classics lined-up atop one of the store’s many shelves, the customer wondered aloud, “Is anyone interested in this anymore?” As it turned out, Calendrille knew of a local author, Chris Beha, who happened to write a book about his experience reading the entirety of the Harvard classics in a single year, called The Whole Five Feet.

The woman’s husband, Harold Rubin, spoke of his fondness for the store as his wife purchased the book. “Coming here, you can talk to people who are knowledgeable and can give you the feel for a book,” he said. “Online, you get the technical. Here, you get the emotional.”

It’s a notion Burnham referenced last week. He said there are certain genres, like romantic fiction, erotica and—surprise, surprise—vampire books that sell very well in electronic form.

“The Internet is a world of geeks and cults,” he explained. Whereas non-fiction tomes and even business-related texts tend to sell better in paper. For many book buyers, he added, sales are contingent on that idea of the bookstore as a community.

Like BookHampton, Calendrille said the purpose of her local shop is not only to provide a place where people can browse for books. It is a gathering space for those in the community. And it’s a reflection of the creative interests and outgrowth of the neighborhood. Local artwork hangs on the walls, writers speak in the shop on the weekends and Calendrille herself teaches writing workshops in the back.

“You can’t deny the business is changing,” she said. “But, what we have here are the kinds of books that curious readers are interested in. It’s a collaboration of our interests and our customers’ interests,” she continued. “And to me, that’s the beauty of the place.”

As Spektor put it, the survival of independent bookshops is contingent on the communities in which they exist. “In the long run,” she said, “it depends on whether or not you want to see these Main Streets thrive, or whether you want to see Main Street as a concept dry-up.”