Tag Archive | "Southampton"

Evoking the East End with Scented Candles

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By Stephen J. Kotz

With gift shops lining the main streets of East End villages and hamlets, Brittany Torres, a 29-year-old Southampton entrepreneur and owner of the start-up business, Hamptons Handpoured, knows she has entered a crowded field. But she is confident the handcrafted candles she is making with essential oils and other, high-quality natural ingredients, will soon find a niche on store shelves—and better yet, a place in customers’ homes.

Ms. Torres, who says she has always enjoyed the ambience provided by a scented candle, came upon her business idea by something of happenstance after she first envisioned marketing a line of t-shirts.

“I was very sick a few years ago, and I found myself looking for holistic ways to feel better,” she said. That search led her to take classes on essential oils and aromachology, which studies the effects of scents on people, and to eventually start experimenting with her own scented candles. Happy with the results, she decided to leave the t-shirts to others and concentrate on candles.

“The main difference from the candles I see in shops out here is I don’t think there are any candles made in the Hamptons,” she said. “And every one of my candles is handcrafted, right down to the choosing the glassware and the label to the ingredients.”

Ms. Torres works at Therapy Life & Style, clothing and accessories shop owned by Kelly Kirkpatrick at 38 Main Street in Southampton Village. Ms. Torres said Ms. Kirkpatrick has encouraged her own business, going so far as to let her make her candles in a small studio behind the shop.

And she has inherited an entrepreneurial streak from her parents, Bob and Alanna Torres, who have run several businesses, including, she said, the first VHS video store in Queens.

“They have always supported my creativeness and ideas,” she said of her parents, adding that after a short stint “in a corporate setting, I realized it wasn’t working for me.”

Ms. Torres and her boyfriend, Jason Lucas, make the candles in small batches, with each of the six kettles they use holding four pounds of wax and yielding a dozen candles each.

“I use both essential oils and fragrance oils in my candles,” Ms. Torres said, “and they are made with clean burning soy wax and cotton wicks.”

So far, Ms. Torres has named each of her scents after an East End village or hamlet and has developed the scent based on her own impressions and memories of each.

Her Bridgehampton candle, for instance, evokes her memories of babysitting for a family in that hamlet. “My memory is of big grassy fields and I would take the kids to the beach,” she said. The candle has a “bright, brassy, citrus scent,” she added.

Her Sag Harbor candle has a “musky, deep scent” to evoke its many restaurants, while East Hampton is one of luxury. “One of the fragrances I used I called cashmere,” Ms. Torres said. “I was thinking of all the high end stores in the village. It is also a fruity, deep, exotic scent.”

Her Montauk candle has hints of sandalwood and spicy, orange. “Sandalwood is a very grounding scent. Whenever I go to Montauk I feel at peace there,” she said. “And yet there is a liveliness that comes in the summer, so I added some spice.”

Southampton has a clean, crispy scent evocative of fresh linens, and Westhampton Beach’s lavender based scent is calming.

Another three scents will be unveiled in the coming months, Amagansett, Water Mill, and Quogue.

The 12-ounce candles sell for $28 and for now are available at Therapy Life & Style. By next month, Ms. Torres hopes to have her online store, at HamptonsHandpoured.com.

She also said she is aware that small locally owned shops tend to suffer at the hands of online retailers, so she plans to work to promote local shops as well as offer her own wares.

“I’ve learned a lot about small business and helping people,” she said. “Candles will bring wellness to people’s lives, but the greater thing is to connect with the community.”

“Five Presidents” & “The Darrell Hammond Project” Added to Bay Street Mainstage Season

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Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater announced Sunday it has added two new productions to its 2015 Mainstage Season—both East Coast premieres.

“Five Presidents,” a new play by Emmy Award winning writer Rick Cleveland (“Six Feet Under,” “The West Wing,” and “House of Cards”) will be directed by Mark Clements and will run June 23 through July 12. Originally produced at the Arizona Theatre Company and by the Milwaukee Repertory Theater, the funny and incisive drama is about the meeting of America’s most exclusive club—the ex-presents. Obliged to gather together on the day of Richard Nixon’s funeral, the four “exes” and one current Commander in Chief vent frustrations, revisit old grievances, and reveal the toll it takes on any person foolish enough to seek the highest office in the land.

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The second new production added to the Mainstage Season is “The Darrell Hammond Project,” which will have its East Coast premiere at Bay Street July 16 through July 26. Written and performed by Darrell Hammond with additional material by Elizabeth Stein and Christopher Ashley, the production will also be directed by Mr. Ashley. Originally produced at the La Jolla Playhouse, the production stars comedian Darrell Hammond, best known for spot on impressions of public figures and celebrities like Bill Clinton on “Saturday Night Live.” In “The Darrell Hammond Project” he recounts the harrowing events that gave birth to his talent, on a “detective story of his own life” as he delves into the trauma and tenacity that made him an entertainer. Full of raw emotion, humor and plenty of the impressions that made him famous, “The Darrell Hammond Project” is the story of how a brilliant star rose from the darkest corners of human experience.

The Mainstage Season will still begin with the World Premiere of “The New Sincerity,” a new comedy by Alena Smith and directed by Bob Balaban. That production will run May 26 through June 14. The season will end with “Grey Gardens: A Musical,” directed by Michael Wilson, which will run August 4 through August 30.

“Bay Street Theater is expanding and growing, and we are excited to now present four productions on the Mainstage this summer,” said Scott Schwartz, artistic director for Bay Street Theater. “Both of the plays that we are adding to our season are personal portraits of complicated men. “Five Presidents” explores not only politics, but also the humanity in our leaders. Rick Cleveland is a writer who knows Washington, and his imagining of a meeting of five of our presidents is riveting. Darrell Hammond’s intimate look at his life in his new solo show delves deep into the dark side of funny, and is a theatrical and searing portrait of how this brilliant comedian found his voice.  The artists we have added to our season in Rick, Darrell, and directors Christopher Ashley and Mark Clements are visionary voices in the American Theater and I can’t wait to share their work with our audience in the East End.”

To purchase a 2015 Mainstage Season subscription, visit baystreet.org or call (631) 725-9500. Individual ticket sales will launch May 15.

Refuse the Test Movement Growing on the East End

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Parents bring their children to the Sag Harbor Elementary School at the start of the school day. Photo by Michael Heller.

Parents bring their children to the Sag Harbor Elementary School at the start of the school day. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Tessa Raebeck

A grassroots movement of parents who say the government is taking the creativity out of learning—and doing so in impractical ways that help neither students nor schools—is growing statewide and across the East End, with many parents refusing to let their children sit for the tests the state uses to judge public education.

Advocates for local control of education were outraged when Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed through sweeping education reforms as part of the New York State budget last week (see related story), which include further linking teacher and school performance with student performance on tests written by a private company, Pearson, rather than educators.

The Teachers Association of Sag Harbor (TASH) sent parents a letter last week clarifying its position on test refusal.

According to the letter, TASH “strongly supports a parent’s right to advocate for his/her child and refuse the New York State ELA and Mathematics assessments in grades 3-8. As a collective body, TASH believes that the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers and lifelong learners who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to live good and purpose-filled lives. We believe that the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice. TASH opposes the over-reliance on high-stakes testing that is currently being pushed by both the federal and New York State governments because this testing has not been used to further instruction, help children, or support their educational needs. These commercially prepared assessments are not transparent and teachers, parents, and students are not permitted to discuss the content or to know which questions students answered incorrectly.”

These tests are administered over the course of several weeks each spring in addition to other state-mandated tests throughout the year. Last year, the State Education Department administered the tests on the new federal Common Core curriculum before providing lesson plans or textbooks. This year, schools are more familiar with Common Core, but unions and school boards alike have expressed concern over the connection of a teacher’s or administrator’s employment with a test that doesn’t take into account outside factors such as poverty, non-English speaking students or parents, or what a teacher does in their classroom aside from drilling students for the test.

Parents can “refuse the test” by writing a letter to their child’s school requesting their child be excused from the tests. When other students are taking the test, those who have excused are provided with another space to be so as not to disturb the testing.

Shona Gawronski has had five children attend Sag Harbor’s schools, and this year she is  refusing the test for her youngest two, a son in fourth grade and a daughter in seventh grade, as a form of activism in support of strong public education.

“I’ve been a parent [in the Sag Harbor School District] for 18 years and I’ve seen such a…decline in not the quality of the teaching but the parameters in which the teachers can be creative in their teaching,” she said. “Everything is evolved around these state tests—math, science and reading—and not so much the arts and…the more creative aspects of education.”

Tim Frazier, principal at the Southampton Intermediate School, said that, as of the start of the April break last Friday, about 10 percent of his students had refused, and he expects that number to increase by test time next week.

Aside from the political message it sends Albany, the movement to refuse the tests could have big implications on the performance of teachers and schools. Often, the students refusing to take the test are those who will do the best.

“Those scores will be reflecting the performance of my school and the performance of my teachers, so it’s really not a good place to be as an administrator at a public school right now—especially if a high percentage of students refused to take the test,” he said.

“There are so many other factors that go into making a ‘highly effective’ or highly performing teacher than just how…students do on a test score,” he added. “The state minimizes it to look at just that number instead of looking at all the other factors.”

Many teachers don’t actually teach the subjects being tested and are evaluated based on students they have hardly any contact with. A special education, technology or health teacher will get a score linked to how their students do in English language arts and mathematics.

But with the bill already passed and the governor showing no signs of changing his mind, advocates for education say refusing the test as their best option.

“When Washington, D.C., linked 50 percent of teacher evaluations to standardized test scores, teacher turnover increased to 82 percent, schools in communities with high poverty rates showed large or moderate declines in student outcomes, and the combined poverty gap for D.C. expanded by 44 scale-score points, causing poor students to fall even further behind their affluent peers,” said Anthony Chase Mallia, a seventh grade mathematics teacher at Pierson Middle/High School in Sag Harbor. “It is time to begin to acknowledge that the accountability movement has failed.”

 

The Teachers Association of Sag Harbor is inviting those seeking more information on test refusal to attend a forum on Thursday, April 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Whalers’ Church, located at 44 Union Street in Sag Harbor. For more information on test refusal and other commonly asked questions, visit the New York State Allies for Public Education website, nysape.org.

Personal Stylist Sisters Open Boutique “For Every Girl” on Southampton’s Jobs Lane

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Lisa and Cara Rooney of Girltauk, photographed in Montauk on 4/4/15

Sisters Lisa, left, and Cara Rooney, right, started Girltauk as an at-home boutique for their friends in Montauk, an opportunity for girl talk. Next month they’ll open the doors to new store on Jobs Lane. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic 

It’s been a hard few years for mom-and-pops on the East End, with rents continuing to increase and more and more money coming in from out-of-town. But next month, when sisters Cara and Lisa Rooney hold the grand opening of their new boutique in Southampton, it’ll be a small win for family businesses.

After over a year of looking for a way to make their dreams of success come true on the East End, Cara and Lisa finally found themselves a storefront and on May 1, the Rooney sisters will open the doors to their boutique and personal styling service, Girltauk, located at 10a Jobs Lane.

“The idea behind Girltauk, originally, was to get the local girls together, drink some wine and have girl talk,” said Lisa, 26, at her sister’s cottage last week. “And then on the side, do some shopping and get some cool clothes out of it, too.”

People often mistake Cara and Lisa for twins, but the sisters are two-and-a-half years apart and swear they couldn’t be more different.  Cara, 23, played competitive soccer all through school, garnering herself a scholarship to Fordham, where she played division one soccer and graduated from in 2013.

“Soccer was my job,” she said last week, adding that her background in competitive soccer has found her usually sporting comfortable, laid-back fashions. “And it kept me out of trouble,” she said.

Lisa agreed, and said that Cara’s discipline and dedication to soccer stopped her from repeating some of her big sister’s mistakes.

In terms of clothing, Lisa described herself as loud, showy, gaudy and edgy (“and always in high heels!”), and although very different from her sister, has been her style advisor since they were donning diapers. While Lisa never played competitive sports herself, she said, “the way Cara played soccer was the way I would work. I don’t think I’ve ever called in sick. I started my first job in Montauk at age 12.”

The sisters, originally from Whitestone, Queens, have spent their summers on the East End since their parents bought a house in Montauk in 1995. Lisa spent her adolescence working in different restaurants, eventually working her way up to the infamous graveyard shift at Salivar’s when she was just 17.

“Honestly Montauk saved my life. If I didn’t have Montauk to escape to, I would have felt very lost,” Lisa said. During high school she battled with eating disorders, which is a huge driving force behind the girls’ desire to make women look and feel beautiful.

“We’re trying to slowly, one outfit at a time, help women feel their best. Because there was a very long time when I didn’t,” she said.

“You want to surround yourself by people who feel good, and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Lisa said. “And I think it takes a lot for women to feel good these days,” she added.

Growing up watching her big sister and style-guru struggle with eating disorders was enough to make Cara want to convince other women to feel comfortable and love their bodies, too.

Lisa worked in a few local boutiques to learn the retail business, employing the help of her sister every time she was in town. “We always had this idea that we’d love to have our own store,” Cara said.

In November 2012, Cara and Lisa’s older brother Eric died suddenly. “It was very life-changing and made us see it was time, it was time to cut the cord,” Lisa said.

“We realized that life’s too short to just have a passion for something, you might as well make your own dreams come true,” Cara added.

So the sisters did everything they could to make their dream of owning a store a reality. And then last year they started Girltauk, an at-home boutique trunk show, where their friends would come over, hang out, and buy clothes.

After almost two years of living room trunk shows, and the occasional pop-up shop, the Rooney sisters are now making their dreams of owning a store a reality, and now thanks to the 80-hour bartending weeks Lisa worked last summer and the 23 years of birthday money Cara has frugally saved, their shop will open up on Jobs Lane on May 1.

Girltauk will be sharing storefront space with Keogh, clothing designed by their new partner, Erin McQuail. “She’s a designer and we’re buyers so together it’ll flow nicely,” Lisa said.

“Girltauk is for every girl,” Lisa said. “She’s the beachy girl, she’s the business owner, she’s the stay at home mom. Everyone can walk away with something. And it works,” she said, “because Cara and I have such different styles.”

 Girltauk + Keogh will have its grand opening at 10a Jobs Lane on Friday, May 1. For more information, follow @girltauk on Instagram.

Ashram: Art & Architecture’s Lasting Gesture

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Daniel Ashram's Hooded Figure.

Daniel Ashram’s The Formless Figure

By Dawn Watson

Architecture is more than the study of blueprints and building specs for Daniel Arsham. It’s a living, breathing thing to be experienced. It’s art.

Creating site-specific sculpture directly relating to the space in which it’s erected, the artist’s aim is to transform the entire area into a visceral, yet playful, interaction with the viewer.

“When we think about architecture, it’s the most lasting gesture we can make as human beings—art too, I suppose, although one could argue that architecture is the most visible and present,” says Arsham. “Therefore its disruption can be very uncanny and powerful, and this is where I’m trying to allow the work to reside, a place where people are a little bit shaken by the disruption of the familiar and the everyday.”

He is now working to install his newest piece, “The Formless Figure,” made of fiberglass, metal and plaster, at the Watermill Center. Located in the Water Mill-based artistic laboratory’s main rehearsal studio, the “draped figure, minus the figure,” according to exhibit curator Daneyal Mahmood, will be on view starting Saturday, April 4.

“The form, generated through negative space, looks like a plaster form coming through the wall,” he said during a telephone interview on Monday morning. “Imagine if, as when you were a child, you put a sheet over your head like you were pretending to be a ghost.”

The slightly larger than life-size sculpture, blends directly into the wall, creating an interaction between the work and the building, said Watermill Center special events manager Elise Herget during Monday’s interview with Mr. Mahmood. “It shows, as Daniel’s work often does, of how we walk into a space every single day without noticing our own interaction with that space. What he’s done is to mold or melt that space around you. It’s an amazing duo.”

Arsham, a growing name on the contemporary art circuit, is well known for his work in “Snarkitecture,” a collaborative and experimental artistic expression that he and co-creator Alex Mustonen dreamed up. The name pays homage to the Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of The Snark,” which describes an “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature.”

“Snarkitecture investigates the unknown within architecture – the indefinable moments created by manipulating and reinterpreting existing materials, structures and programs to spectacular effect,” says Arsham. “Snarkitecture makes architecture perform the unexpected.”

The work is “simply hypnotic,” said Mr. Mahmood, who described himself as a big fan. One of the things he loves most, he said, is that it’s instantly accessible to everyone, from children to art critics. “Whether you have a vocabulary about contemporary art or not, Daniel resonates with everybody.”

The busy artist is in high demand as of late. He’s currently collaborating on a film project with Watermill Founder Robert Wilson, who says he appreciates the arresting quality to Arsham’s work.

“I see in Daniel’s work something very personal, a unique visual vocabulary,” he said. “Through sculpture, drawing and performance, Arsham challenges our perceptions of physical space in order to make architecture perform the improbable. The surfaces of walls appear to melt, erode and ripple. Animals contemplate the emergence of floating shapes in nature. Sculptures from antiquity are infused with rigid, geometric forms.”

The New York-based artist recently completed a project with musician and producer Pharrell Williams. For that collaboration, Arsham recreated Williams’s first keyboard, presented as a relic, in volcanic ash. He’s also recently worked with actor James Franco on a “The Future Relic” film series based on his casts everyday objects—such as eroding laptops, cell phones, and cameras—made to resemble archaeological finds made from volcanic ash and plaster.

Current and upcoming exhibitions include:” A Special Project for Leica” at the Leica Gallery in Los Angeles, “Remember the Future” at the CAC in Cincinatti, and solo exhibits at Galerie Perrotin in Manhattan in November and at SCAD in Savannah next spring. Additionally, Arsham’s work has been shown at MoMA PS1 in New York, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Miami, The Athens Bienniale in Greece, The New Museum In New York, Mills College Art Museum in California and Carré d’Art de Nîmes in France.

“The Formless Figure” will open with a public reception at the Watermill Center on Saturday, April 4, from 4 to 6 p.m. Arsham will give an artist’s talk at Watermill on June 6 at 4 p.m. For more information, visit watermillcenter.org

School Merger Forum

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With property taxes on the rise and tuition rates a bone of contention, the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons will hold a forum, “School Mergers: What You Need to Know,” at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 13, at the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

The program will feature a panel of experts including New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., who will speak on the state’s role in school mergers; Eastern Suffolk BOCES chief operating officer Dr. Julie Lutz, who will explain BOCES’ role; Tuckahoe Superintendent of Schools Chris Dyer, who will address the academic and extracurricular impact on students of merging or not merging; and Southampton School Board President Heather McCallion, who will cover the financial impact on budgets and taxes of merging or not.

The panel will be moderated by Judi Roth, the league’s Education Committee chairwoman, who will also field questions from the audience.

“I encourage stakeholders from all Hampton districts to attend; we plan to recognize audience members who wish to add to this on-going conversation,” said Ms. Roth.

Southampton Town’s SEA-TV, Channel 22, will tape and later air the program. For more information, contact Ms. Roth at 283-0759.

Towns to Hold Mental Health Awareness Day

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East Hampton and Southampton towns will once again join forces to host the 12th annual East End Mental Health Awareness Day, “Changing Times, Changing Minds,” on Saturday, April 11, from 9 to 3 p.m. at Southampton High School.

The guest speakers will be Kristie Golden, Ph.D., the associate director operations, neurosciences, at Stony Brook Medicine, and Jeffrey Steigman, Psy.D, the chief administrative officer with the Family Service League.

They will discuss the new South Fork Behavioral Health Initiative, which is bringing additional mental health services to the East End, and the Medicaid Redesign, which will affect how health care is delivered to all residents.

There will be morning and afternoon workshops, a panel discussion, and vendors on hand all day. The event is open to anyone concerned with mental health issues including family members, individuals living with a mental illness, community members and professionals.

The event is free, but organizers have requested attendees register in advance at southamptontownny.gov/mentalhealthday  Although online registration is encouraged, registration brochures are available at local libraries and the East Hampton and Southampton Town halls. To request a registration brochure, call (631) 702-2445.

Local Girl Scout Troop Sells Bricks for Mashashimuet Park

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By Mara Certic

 Discussions about today’s youth often range from test scores to crime rates and drug abuse, and fail to touch on the many ways young people are looking to give back to their communities.

But on the East End of Long Island, large groups of children and teenagers are working hard to come up with new ways to provide services for and improve their neighborhoods and towns, and are raising more money along the way.

Sag Harbor’s Girl Scout Troop 152 actually broke down into smaller groups in order to choose whom to help for its Bronze Award project. The nine girls, who are mostly fifth-graders, decided to do something for Mashashimuet Park after committees met with the park board, library board and members of the Sag Harbor Fire Department.

“The girls voted on the park,” said Scout Leader Jen Glass. “They wanted to give back to the park and would like to see some new stuff; that equipment’s been there since I was a child and I’m 44.” she said on Tuesday.

The troop has decided to raise their money by starting a buy-a-brick program Ms. Glass explained. Bricks will be placed in a new walkway on the Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike-side of the park.

“It’ll open up into a patio and we’ll lay the bricks we sell there in that area,” she said. “And then the park will continue to raise funds and can expand the sidewalk.” The bricks cost $50 apiece and can fit up to three lines of text with 18 to 20 characters per line.

Troop 152 is trying to do all of the brick-selling by May, in order to install the bricks before the end of the school year. The Girl Scouts will then use the money earned selling bricks to purchase a new piece of play equipment for the park.

The girls are also working with local artist Chris Nielson to design a new welcome sign for the park.

One of the scouts has created order forms for those interested in purchasing bricks, which are available at mashashimuetpark.com.

“It’s where these girls have enjoyed their time and they’re getting older now so they just want to give back,” Ms. Glass said.

For the past four years, as part of an effort spearheaded by Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, the Town of Southampton has been helping those who want to give back by offering small grants to youth groups or individuals who need financial support to perform a community service.

Last week, the town board and the town’s Youth Bureau awarded almost $3,000 in grants to 11 different applicants.

“Some of the ideas that the kids are proposing are really interesting and different,” said Nancy Lynott, the bureau’s director. “We have kids of all ages. That’s another thing I really like about it,” she said.

Three siblings in the Westhampton Beach School District won a grant for their community service project called Builders and Books, which provides bookshelves full of age-appropriate-books to kids in need.

“[Our mom] is the Reading Coordinator at Tuckahoe School in Southampton,” One of those children, Emilee Downs, 14, in an email last week, explained that their mother is the reading coordinator at Tuckahoe School in Southampton. “She told us how some of her students were in need of books to read and that some of them weren’t able to get to the public library because they didn’t have transportation or their parents work a lot,” she wrote.

So Emilee and her brother Zach, 18, and sister Ally, 12, started organizing book drives and asked construction companies to donate bookshelves. The teens then curate the selection, choosing books they think specific children would like the most, and they’re delivered to homes in the Tuckahoe and Westhampton Beach school districts. This school year, they have already given out nine bookshelves, each one stocked with anywhere from 200 to 400 books.

This grant will allow them to deliver 11 more fully stocked bookshelves.

“It’s really a great feeling to see how excited the families are to receive them,” Emilee wrote.  “At one house, the two little boys were smiling and laughing and jumping up and down like it was Christmas.”

 

 

 

 

 

Lewis Black Brings His Pissed Off Optimism to Westhampton Beach

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Lewis Black

Lewis Black

By Dawn Watson

Acerbic, opinionated and frequently profane, Lewis Black might not be for fence sitters or the faint of heart. But for the people who love to laugh at the absurdities of life, he’s the comedic king of blistering social and political commentary.

Addressing hot topics such as mental health care, the NRA, activism, social media and fiscal entitlement, the two-time Grammy Award-winner and creator of the “Back in Black” commentary segment on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will not shy away from what he sees as the problems facing the world today during his “The Rant is Due Part Deux” stand-up routine at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 27. There, he’ll share his opinions, and hear those of East Enders, via a new, live interactive portion of the performance at the end of the night.

“It’ll be upbeat, happy, optimistic, joyous, almost Christian-like,” he joked during a telephone interview last week.

Since his tour schedule includes approximately 200 gigs a year, the comedian’s set list is fairly fluid, he said. It also promises to be peppered with tales of his experiences on the road, he reported during a brief stay between shows at his Manhattan home. And of course, since the performance will be here in the Hamptons, he’ll be sure to share his opinions about the 1 percent.

“They know what the score is,” the prolific and successful comic, actor, playwright and best-selling author said of high earners. “I know what the score is. I know that we have an advantage. It’s as simple as that.”

When it comes to philanthropy, the Yale Drama School graduate puts his money where his mouth is. A staunch believer in giving back, he supports a slate of charitable organizations, including the 52nd Street Project, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Autism Speaks, Wounded Warriors, the USO and The Brady Center. He is also heavily involved in the Ron Black Memorial Scholarship Fund, created for his late brother, the Rusty Magee Clinic for Families and Health and a slew of other education and arts programs. Additionally, he’s lending his name and the weight of his support to Flushing-based Vassilaros & Sons coffee company, which he says is “a miracle in a cup.”

The comedian is helping his friend John Vassilaros to put out a signature coffee line, the proceeds of which will benefit veterans, Black reported. After the point was made that it might seem ironic that he of the exaggeratedly tightly wound persona is the voice for a coffee company, he laughed.

“Works for me,” he said.

Paradoxically, the passionately outraged performer, who calls himself more “pissed-off optimist than mean-spirited curmudgeon” is also quite popular in animated television shows and films. He’s voiced characters on the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated” and “The Penguins of Madagascar,” among others. His latest role is that of the emotion Anger in the upcoming Pixar film “Inside Out,” which also stars the voice talents of Diane Lane, Amy Poehler and Mindy Kaling. Working with Pixar, he said, “was one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Black’s next voice role is in Pixar’s animated “Rock Dog” with Luke Wilson, J.K. Simmons and Eddie Izzard.

Splitting his downtime between homes in Manhattan and North Carolina—where he earned his undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina—the comic relishes his days off the road, he said. Traveling half the year via tour bus for work is one thing, he added, but making the nearly 100-mile schlep out to the Hamptons regularly is an entirely different undertaking.

“It’s just too far. How do people do it?,” he griped.

Trekking out to the Hamptons every weekend is definitely not for Black. Instead of participating in the hours-long traffic nightmare, he’s come up with his own solution that makes a lot more sense for New Yorkers who miss the ocean.

“They should just take sand and spread it around on Park Avenue and the Upper East Side and the let people sit out on their beach chairs so they don’t have to drive around for 2 hours,” he said, adding that he sympathizes with year-round East Enders, who should put up blockades to keep the seasonal crowds out. “I really don’t know how you guys allow it,” he said of the massive summer influx.

And though he did admit to enjoying a visit to Sag Harbor every once in a while, the comedian said he plans to stay put in New York City. If not for his peace of mind, then for his career.

“Sag Harbor is beautiful and serene,” he said. “I couldn’t live there though. I wouldn’t get anything done.”

Lewis Black will bring “The Rant is Due Part Deux” to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Friday, March 27 at 8 p.m.  Tickets are $95, $125 and $150 and are available online at www.whbpac.org. 

Fire Destroys East Hampton House of Hard Rock Cafe Co-Founder

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Heller_EHFD Structure Fire 57 West End Road 3-18-15_7940_7x

Firefighters spent almost eight hours extinguishing a fire that destroyed the house at 57 West End Road. Photography by Michael Heller.

By Mara Certic

Seven fire departments spent most of the afternoon and evening of March 18  battling a fire that destroyed the East Hampton house of Hard Rock Café co-founder Peter Morton.

Strong winds fueled the fire, which otherwise “could have been manageable,” according to East Hampton Fire Department Chief Richard Osterberg. The oceanfront house at 57 West End Road caught fire apparently when construction workers used a torch on the roof. Pockets of fire continued to burn late that night. There were no injuries.

“The house is a total loss,” Chief Osterberg said over the phone on Friday. According to the chief, the 911 call came in at approximately 2:35 p.m.; nearly 100 firefighters responded to the call and the last tanker did not leave the scene until 10:30 p.m., almost eight hours later, he said.

Chief Osterberg said that the fire appeared to be accidental and that there was no reason to believe it was suspicious.

“The wind really didn’t do us any favors,” the chief said, noting that the house has wide open fields on one side and Georgica Pond on the other.

By the time the first firefighters were on the scene, it had become apparent that it would be too dangerous to allow firefighters into the building and instead they decided to attack the flames from the exterior, dousing the burning house with huge quantities of water.

Winter winds were blowing hot embers around and firefighters worried that the flames would spread. “The house to the east was our main concern,” the chief said. West End Road is long and narrow, Chief  Osterberg explained, making it difficult for firefighters to get water from their tankers to the pumpers.

Not long after the call came through, other nearby departments were called in to provide mutual aid, the chief said. The Amagansett Fire Department sent a tanker as well as an engine and helped to lay hose, Mr. Osterberg said.

Springs, Montauk, Sag Harbor,  and Southampton fire departments all responded to requests for mutual aid and provided more manpower and firefighting equipment.hellerfire

Members of the North Sea Fire Department were sent in to serve as standby at the Emergency Services Building on Cedar Street in case another emergency call came in.

At approximately 5 p.m., the North Sea firefighters responded to an alarm at East Hampton Airport, when a plane skidded off the runway. With North Sea responding to that call, volunteers from Hampton Bays were brought in to stand by at the East Hampton headquartes on Cedar Street.

According to East Hampton Town Police, David Bulgin, 62, of Sag Harbor was the pilot and the sole occupant of the Beechcraft Baron BE 58 that skidded off the runway after experiencing a landing gear malfunction after landing on the main runway.

The plane was damaged and had to be removed from the runway. Mr. Bulgin walked away from the scene unscathed. The Federal Aviation Administration will conduct a full investigation on the incident, according to a release issued by the East Hampton Town Police.

“Out here we’re so lucky—everyone works so well together,” Chief Osterberg said. In addition to all the help from various fire departments, Amagansett and East Hampton Village sent ambulances to the fire near Georgica and the village police were “a tremendous help.”

By the mid-evening, an excavation crew from Keith Grimes, Inc. was working on removing debris from the property, and by the next morning, thanks to village police keeping an eye on the house, there was nothing left burning on the land.

“I feel I have a good department, to know you have friends that are willing to do whatever” is great, Chief Osterberg added.