Tag Archive | "matt lauer"

Forgive Us Our Daily Read

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By Christine Bellini

It may have been the Matt Lauer cover story in Hampton’s Magazine’s season opener, uncovering his penchant for cleaning up debris from neighborhood back roads, a garbage bag in his rubber glove clad hand and pre-teen daughter in tow, that tipped the scales for me.

Kudos to Lauer for his civic duty and sense of place. He’s spent his summers in Amagansett for the better part of his life and has lived in Sag Harbor full time long enough now to garner headlines for normalcy – suffering a separated shoulder from a bicycling accident (2009) to recently winding his way through planning board approval — albeit for a 40-acre horse farm off Deerfield Road in Water Mill.

Is the celebrity news cycle so under nourished that a Huffington Post headline, flashing a ‘scruffy’ Matt attends a recent Hamptons bash, is actually newsworthy? News flash: On the ‘weekend’ Matt Lauer actually likes to unbutton his collar and, drum roll please, chillax a bit. Hurry, ink up the presses.

It’s the Johnny-come-lately celebrity reporter that does us all a huge disservice by making news out of ordinary life witnessed in arm’s reach of ordinary folk. Why, I saw Edie Falco choosing lamps and placemats at Sylvester and Co. but you don’t see me running home to post. We can’t expect her to eat by candlelight forever.

Coming of age in The Hamptons, you get to witness a great many ordinary moments of extraordinary personalities. Truman Capote and Jim Jones in rousing debate at the old Bobby Van’s; DeNiro sitting quietly on a bench outside of Book Hampton Southampton on a late fall afternoon (circa 1975), Bill Bradlee (post Pentagon Papers) parking his car in the Reutershan lot in East Hampton Village on his way to the liquor store; Fran Lebowitz exiting a Woody Allen movie (circa 1980); Craig Claiborne picking up his order from the butcher counter at Dreesen’s  — ordinary moments nobody wrote about at a time when you were recognized for your talents and achievements, not your ability to be like the rest of us.

These days it’ll wind up on more than one celebrity page if Billy Joel parks his BSA motorcycle outside The American Hotel while stopping in for lunch. Alec Baldwin makes headlines going to yoga class with Lorne Michaels and Paul McCartney in Amagansett. If Kelly Ripa takes her kids to Bay Burger the blogosphere lights up in awe.

However, it gives me great pleasure to find John C. White, of the resolute Bridgehampton farm family, on Hamptons Magazine’s “Power List: The Hamptons 100” — the only native to make the grade, commended for doing what his family has done for generations, farm an oceanfront plot of land in Bridgehampton. Though, the heart saddens when it is for having to defend his rights to ownership in court — a genuine newsworthy battle was provocatively reported in the July 2011 issue Vanity Fair, in an installment of “Letters From The Hamptons” by Michael Shnayerson, titled “Betting the Farm.”

I think it was Russell Baker’s coining of ‘the white wine and Volvo set’ in his New York TimesObserver” column (circa 1978) which first fueled my appetite for a keen essay treatment which shines a light on our very human vulnerabilities. His was a wry and satirical grace, having the effect of walking you into a room and introducing you to the dinner guests, winking from the corner of his eye as he sits you down beside the social climber who inadvertently offers up delightfully quotable faux pas right on through cocktail hour.

It is not that The Hamptons, this year’s Fab 100, and the rest of us simple folk are not up to something newsworthy — it’s the competitive laziness of glossy page editors and reporters who serve up thinly drawn snippets of the mundane. With such a rich and fertile landscape of personality, intrigue and creativity afoot from The Crow’s Nest to Red Bar, the Montauk Bluffs to Conscience Point, this is our daily read?

Oh — did I fail to mention that I saw Jon Stewart at the dump, Angelica Houston ordering tacos at La Fondita, Jerry Seinfeld watching a Whaler’s baseball game, Donald Sultan drinking coffee and Jason Epstein out walking his dog?



A former news editor, essay writer Christine Bellini is an editorial consultant who spends a good deal of her time pondering the cultural curiosities of The Hamptons from her Sag Harbor tree house.


Lauer’s Plans For Horse Farm Move Ahead

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By Claire Walla

Sag Harbor resident and “Today Show” host Matt Lauer is one step closer to building a horse farm on a 40-acre piece of land off Deerfield Road in Water Mill.

At a meeting last Thursday, May 24, the Southampton Town Planning Board officially closed the public hearing regarding the proposed Edge of Woods Horse Farm, near the intersection of Deerfield and Edge of Woods roads. The board voted to leave a 14-day window for written comments before town planner Claire Vail drafts her final report on the application.

The board is not expected to make its final determination on the application until next month at the earliest.

However, while the process seems to be moving forward, residents who had been vocal in their opposition to the building project had their last say.

“My concern is with the use of an [agricultural] reserve — [for which] the town purchased the development rights — for building a project of this size,” said Water Mill resident Kim Covell, whose home is adjacent to the proposed horse farm. “This is something we should think long and hard about.”

According to the application, Edge of Woods Horse Farm would include two 34,000 square foot outdoor riding rings, a 23,940 square foot indoor riding ring, as well as a 17,455 square foot barn with space for up to 36 horses. The proposed “grooms quarters” and utility building would exist within two structures currently on the property.

Currently, only 6,010 square feet are dedicated to buildings. The proposed horse farm would increase that to about 49,742 square feet.

Southampton Town purchased the development rights to the 30.3-acre property on Deerfield Road, then known as Frankenbach’s Deerfield Nursery, for $3.6 million in 2005. That action effectively preserved the land for open space.

However, according to planning board member Jacqi Lofaro, the proposed Edge of Woods Horse Farm does not, in fact, violate the town’s rules and regulations when it comes to preservation.

“As odd as it seems, New York State considers horse farms farming,” she explained. “Many people don’t realize that.”

In fact, “equestrian rights” is listed as one of the exemptions when it comes to limiting the development of open spaces. The property owner therefore has “the right to use and erect structures for the purpose of boarding, breeding, raising and training of horses or other equines,” according to official Grant of Development Rights signed in 2005.

The exemption does not include “riding academies” or “equine events.” But Tim McCulley, a lawyer for the proposed Edge of Woods Horse Farm, insisted the stables would be for private use only, and no classes or camps would be administered from the farm.

“We’re not trying to draw people from all over,” he told the board. “It can’t be a riding academy.”

Water Mill resident J. Andreassi, who has lived in the area for about 11 years, said overall, in his opinion the horse farm is a much better use of the land than what it’s been used for in the past. As a former commercial space, he explained that it brought a lot of tractor-trailers to the area, including trucks making deliveries early in the morning.

“My wife and I think this application is going to be much better for the future of that particular area,” he added. “From our point of view, there will be less traffic.”

However, some neighbors also cited concerns with a row of cypress trees proposed for the edge of the property.

Neighbor Peter Barylskie noted that some homeowners would be affected by the new row of foliage, in that they would lose sun earlier in the day, therefore shortening their days “by two or three hours.”

Harriet Wittenberg agreed with Barylskie.

“I don’t see any problem with this project, except that it might block our view,” she said.

McCulley said the landscaping plans are still “in the works.”

“We can accommodate the neighbors,” he added. “If the people want to see the horse farm, then we’re going to try to accommodate them as best as possible.”

HarborFrost Announced for 2012

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By Claire Walla


Riding the coattails of last year’s well-attended event, this year’s HarborFrost celebration was officially launched this week. And according to Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce member Robert Evjen, it will up the ante over last year’s inaugural fest.

In addition to fireworks over Long Wharf and ice sculptures on Main Street — both events are returning in keeping with the event’s “Fire and Ice” theme — Evjen said this year the event will also incorporate a three-and-a-half-hour set of live music, which he referred to as “Musical Brunch.”

“The bottom line is we wanted to extend the day over last year’s half-day event,” Evjen explained. The music will begin around 11:30 a.m. and last until 3 p.m. when the rest of the day’s activities will begin, starting with the first ice sculpture carved on Long Wharf. “We wanted to make it a full day this year and entice people to come down to the village early for brunch.”

And, of course, live music.

The musical portion of the day is being organized by Kelly Connaughton, head of the Sag Harbor American Music Festival (which, like HarborFrost, also made its debut in 2011). Though the details are still being hashed out, Connaughton said the morning will include performances by at least five artists (most likely local), who will play music in the various shops and businesses on Main Street.

The businesses will pay to host the artists and, Connaughton added, that fee will be partially supplemented by the Chamber of Commerce, which Connaughton said she hopes will give the businesses further incentive to pay for a show. In addition to providing live entertainment and bringing shoppers to Main Street, Connaughton added, “It will be great for us to get musicians earning some money in the lean winter months.”

So far, she said she’s received verbal commitments to host music from Page at 63 Main, Phao, Lifes’tyle and BookHampton.

As for the main attractions, Evjen said the fire dancers will be back this year, whipping strings of fire for a crowd at the foot of Long Wharf. Evjen said the Grucci family is already committed to doing the evening’s fireworks show and Fear No Ice will be here again this year (chain saws and all) to create two new ice sculptures on Main Street. The sculpting — to take place at 3 p.m. on Long Wharf and 4 p.m. behind the Civil War monument on the southern end of Main Street at the Madison Street split — will bookend HarborFrost’s fundraising Frosty Plunge, at 3:30 p.m.

In addition to making a mass of bodies shiver and teeth chatter, the event will raise money to benefit the Sag Harbor Ambulance Corps. Last year’s event attracted a crowd of more than 50 participants and more than 100 spectators, according to Evjen. While TV personality Matt Lauer (a Noyac resident) and Southampton Town Attorney Tiffany Scarlato (a Sag Harbor native) wowed crowds by bracing the cold at last year’s plunge, to shake things up this year, rumor has it the Sag Harbor Village Trustees will challenge Southampton Town officials in a race to raise funds for the plunge. (That’s just what we heard.)

As of yet, the 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. slot has not officially been filled with an event, but Evjen said this will most likely include some sort of race along Main Street. Whether this includes dog sleds or bed sleds — both ideas have been floated (the Chamber is currently looking for volunteers willing to conceptualize and organize the event)—the hypothetical race will in some way spotlight the HarborFrost King and Queen.

New to HarborFrost this year, the Sag Harbor Express will be organizing a contest for which those so inclined are encouraged to submit the names of individuals they believe should be crowned HarborFrost royalty. Details will be provided at a later date. (Check back in on our Facebook page for more.) Also, yoga instructor Hailey Schmitz will be hosting a candlelit yoga session at the Sag Harbor Gym Corp. and Dodds and Eder will organize an evening art show.

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, February 11, with a rain date slated for Sunday the 12. Don’t worry, the weekend is sandwiched right between the Super Bowl and President’s Day weekend.

“Last year we planned HarborFrost during Super Bowl weekend, and we didn’t contemplate a snow date or a rain date,” Evjen explained.

When inclement weather threatened to rain on last year’s parade, Chamber members were caught in a pickle. (Fortunately, the rain that came down didn’t deter festival goers from enjoying the day.) This year, Evjen said they’re prepared.

“Our main concern is the fireworks,” he said. Evjen estimated the cost of the fireworks display would be about 60 percent of the event’s overall budget, which is currently estimated at around $10,000. (Last year’s HarborFrost cost about $7,000 to put on.) He added that this year’s fireworks display is expected to be even longer than last year’s.

“Although last year there was inclement weather,” Evjen continued, “The general atmosphere was great. The idea is to build upon that this year.”