Tag Archive | "Southampton"

After Once, It’s Time to Begin Again

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By Danny Peary

The cast and director. Danny Peary photo.

The cast and director. Danny Peary photo.

Begin Again fits my category Movies That Should Play in Sag Harbor. John Carney’s extremely engaging follow-up to the 2006 international sensation Once opened last Friday in New York City and this Wednesday begins its national release. I anticipate that it will soon play in the East End because who isn’t curious about seeing Keira Knightley sing and Adam Levine act?  They, surprisingly, come off with flying colors doing both.  They play a song-writing couple, Gretta and Dave, who split when he becomes a huge recording star and is unfaithful. In New York, she stays with her busker friend, Steve (James Corden, who won the Tony as the lead in Broadway’s One Man, Two Guvnors) and is about to go back to London when she is “discovered” singing at a club by a heavy-drinking, formerly successful A&R man, Dan (Mark Ruffalo).  Dan is estranged from his wife (Catherine Keener) and teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) and is on his last legs, thinking he’d never find a raw talent again.  Hoping that starting her career with a hit album can rescue his career, the re-energized Dan records the semi-reluctant Gretta singing at outdoor locations around the city with a makeshift band of his musician friends.  The movie comes off as a fantasy set in an alternate New York but like Once it effectively brings real emotions and issues to the surface and you’re happy to go along for the ride.  And then there’s the music.  In the New York Times, A.O. Scott was really unkind to the songs.  Pay no attention. It’s a fabulous soundtrack and the way both Knightley and Levine perform the catchy, well-written songs in the movie is exciting. Begin Again is more flawed than Once, but it too is the rare movie you can recommend to almost anyone.  I attended the following press conference held last Thursday in SoHo.  In attendance were (R-L in the picture) Carney, Knightley, Levine, Ruffalo, and Corden.

Kiera Knightly and Adam Levine.

Keira Knightly and Adam Levine.

Moderator: John, there was this movie that came out, Once, that was a global phenomenon.  We talked a few weeks ago, when you were in Dublin, where you live, and you told me that you had the idea for Begin Again back when you were wrapping Once, but that you wanted to wait before you started working on it.  Is that right?

John Carney: I did want to wait so that the two films weren’t following each other directly. I feared I’d just become the ‘music guy,’ which is what has happened anyway. So waiting did nothing for that. But I did want to wait until the story was ready.  I’ve been watching the music industry change so much even since then, so I’ve developed the story on those terms. I think the print industry is the only industry that has changed to the same degree that the music industry has changed.

Moderator: And the inspiration was that when you were in high school you were touring with a band. And you thought it would be interesting to tell the story…

JCa: Well, actually I was in a band after I left high school. I had a bunch of A&R men angling for the next U2, which we weren’t, unfortunately, but Dublin was the city that everybody came to.  I guess they went a lot to London as well. These A&R men were really 25-year-old guys, with coke habits and credit cards without limits. And they were sort of swarming around, bringing these band kids out to clubs and wining and dining them, just in hopes of finding the next big band. The stories they were telling us! And I just look back over my life and I wonder where those guys are now, and I wonder whether they’ve adapted to the massive changes in the industry.  Still got the coke habit? Are they still trying to discover music?  Is that desire still there? Even though the Internet has changed the industry, are there still music-loving A&R men on the hunt for that new magical thing? Is that magical thing still out there?

Moderator: And the first person you cast was Mark Ruffalo as a heavy-drinking, washed-up former A&R man.

JCa: Yeah, Mark was the dream guy for this role.

Moderator: Mark, do you sing at all in real life?

Mark Ruffalo: No. Well, I did sing for the movie and it was cut out. I was singing in the shower.  It was supposed to be a lyric poem song.  But we couldn’t get the rights to that song.

JCa (joking): That’s what I said to Mark.

Moderator: And Keira, have you sung in public before?

Keira Knightley: Yes and no!  I did a film years ago called The Edge of Love and I sang a bit in that. A very 1940s kind of theatrical thing. So yes, I have sung before but it was very different.

Q: Did you take lessons?

KK: They very kindly got me some lessons with a very lovely man called Roger Love. For a lot of those songs, the lyrics weren’t written until a couple of days before we got into the studio so we didn’t have the songs to try to figure it out before we got there.  So it was just about trying to figure out what my voice was, because I didn’t know.  He tried to figure that out.

JCa: It was fun actually. We had this really new song and she went in and sang the first few lines and we all gave a sigh of relief.  We knew we can make this work!

KK (laughing): I wasn’t exactly relaxed when I was doing it.

Moderator: Adam, you did this before appearing in American Horror Story. You hadn’t done any acting before. Did you take acting classes?

AL: No. I tried to take one and it didn’t go well. It was bizarre. I didn’t like it. I didn’t like what I was being told, because it wasn’t making me happy, but that’s a whole other conversation I don’t want to have. So I just thought that I would pretend that I knew what I was doing and hope and pray that it worked, because these people on stage with me are all very, very talented. Mark’s shaking his head because he’s angry with me. But yeah, no lessons, actually.

MR: I’m shaking my head because for some people acting is so easy.  And acting isn’t easy.

Moderator: And James, you’re now in Into the Woods. And you’ve been a singer for quite some time.

James Corden: Yeah, I’m a professional singer. It’s my trade. I’m joking – not at all. But I have a theory that all rock starts want to be actors and all actors want to be rock stars, so I spent my whole school life forming boy bands.  I was in a boy band called Insatiable. We were quite big in the Buckinghamshire area, you might know.  We had a song that I wrote, called “Girl Are You Ready?”  We thought it was amazing, but in hindsight I think it sounds a bit rapey.   It didn’t work out for us. But since Adam’s heard some of Insatiable’s stuff, I think we’re going to hook up for some tracks. I think we’ll most definitely go forward.

Adam Levine (straight-faced): I look forward to that.

JCo: It’s a big surprise but I can share it with you guys. We’re going to be called Maroon 6.

MR: And Satiated.

Question from Journalist: Now that you’re all wonderfully successful, was it easy or hard to go back to that experience of being a struggling artist?

MR: It wasn’t my favorite place to be, so it’s not easy to go back there.

JCo: Mark really committed to the alcoholism aspect of the film. Because at the time I was on Broadway, I would shoot in the afternoon and get in a car and whisk across town to do the play and then quite often go back afterward and shoot quite a lot of the montage stuff.  And it was a great time when we were on the subway shooting this montage scene, and Mark said, “You must be exhausted from just doing the play, you must really need a drink,” and he was holding a Starbucks cup, and I said, yeah, I could really use one, and he passed me this Starbucks cup and it contained a vodka tonic. I really thought, well, this is the greatest moment of my life. I’m drinking booze with Mark Ruffalo while watching him film on the subway.

JCa: A little anecdote to that: the first AD comes up to me on the film set and says, Mark and James are both drinking alcohol–they think we don’t know, but we do know!

Q: Can Adam and Keira answer that question too about whether it’s hard to go back to play a struggling artist.

KK: I’m an actress, so yeah.

AL: You know, my character is kind of in the midst of becoming successful, and it was a very specific time when it happened to me. I was probably tempted by some of the same things that Dave is.  My story’s very different than his, but it was very easy to tap into what it was like to experience all these things that we never expect to experience. When you’re a musician, I don’t know if you’re ever very sure of anything.  You never know what’ll pay the bills–you don’t care about that as much as you care about playing music.  So this guy is just overwhelmed, and so was I, so that was pretty easy to play, actually. I believe that had something to do with why John called me.  Very few people get to experience those things and I think he thought I’d be able to articulate it for the camera. It was all John telling me what to do the entire time.

Q: Did you say yes right away when John called you?

AL: Yes.  Fuck yes, I believe..

Q: Adam, now that you’ve gotten a taste of acting, where do you want to take it?

AL: I have no idea. All I know is it was really fun. It was a dream experience.  I don’t think I could have done it [without these people up here.] This sounds really kiss-assy, though it’s really not meant to be, but I love these guys–all of them. They were so nice. I had no scenes with Mark, and the first day I got there and was trying on my clothes for the film, and he was so welcoming and warm and sweet. He and John and Keira and everybody made it easy. It was just one of those things, I don’t think it can get better than this, so I might not ever make another movie!  There’s no way it can surpass this as far as how much fun I had, it was a blast.

JCo: It stops being fun after the first movie!

Q: And, Adam, how did you tap into and relate to your character?

AL: I wanted to treat this guy, Dave, like a totally different person from me, even though it was impossible, because I literally don’t know how to act. So I was like, okay, some of me is coming out here, it’s not fucking possible that’s not going to happen. Referring to my character, like I said, there was a very specific point in my life, where I thought, “Oh my God, you know, I’ve made it!” There were fifty of those moments, I’ve been so fortunate in my career. There was a time probably in the early 2000s when our album went platinum, when I said, “What, are you kidding me?”  That was when I partied too hard and did a lot of stupid things and that is part of who Dave is. I was that guy.

Q: Keira, did you draw on anyone for inspiration for Gretta.

KK: I didn’t, no.  The part wasn’t based on anything for me, we just sort of worked on it from the character’s point of view, like “Okay, this is somebody who doesn’t like fawning, she’s just somebody who really likes being in the background.” It was just about finding what would work for me.

Q: What about the inspiration for Dan?

JCa: I had a really good conversation early on, years ago, with Mark.  Mark, you were shooting somewhere in Ireland, and I couldn’t believe that I’d gotten your phone number and I rang you up and we had a discussion about this character. And we ended up talking a lot about 1970s movies that we loved, like The French Connection with Gene Hackman.  We we were trying to find what the vibe might be like with this guy, and a bunch of late ‘60s, early ‘70s films were references.

MR: Well, I did want him to feel a little bit like a throwback.  And I liked the kind of A Star Is Born relationship that Dan has with Gretta. It’s warm, it’s not sexualized. He’s someone who really sees a talent and wants to develop it. I do a fair amount of daydreaming about these people, and I somehow came to this idea that any music person I played would be like Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips.

AL: It’s so fucking funny you just said that because the second I saw you, you just exuded that guy.  That’s Wayne Coyne! You looked like him, your hair looked like his hair. Wow!  I’m so glad you said that.

MR: I really love him, he feels like the real deal as far as music goes. I hope he doesn’t take offense to my homage to him. But I’m a big fan of his. So he was probably the only music person I drew from, although with Dan’s glasses, there was probably a little weird Dylan type gene. But that was pretty much it.

JCa; You use one thing as an actor, and that alone gives you the character. I thought the glasses were that for you, Mark.

MR: That and Dan smokes. I knew an old Jewish songwriter who was a manager in the ‘70s, and he was on the music scene and so a lot of my character’s qualities, especially the Nat Sherman cigarettes and that gruff quality, that throwback quality, were his. He was a really interesting character.

Q: Keira, In regard to clothes, was there anything about [your previous characters] Anna Karenina or Sabina Spielrein that you found in Gretta, and if either of them were to give advice to Gretta, should she take it?

KK: No on the advice.  The clothes–we actually had discussions with the costume designer.  I wanted Gretta to dress for women, not for men.  I wanted her clothes to be something that women would like and get for themselves, and men wouldn’t necessarily get it for them. So we worked quite hard on that kind of idea. So that slightly tomboy, slightly Annie Hall, completely non-sexualized thing is what were going for. The men’s trousers was a big thing.

Q: This movie is an attack on selling out in the music industry, but all of you have to confront that daily, whether you’re in the film industry or the music industry. For instance, you make small films but after a few small films, you have to make a big film. So when that happens, do each of you say, “Well, I have to sell out a little today?”

KK: Do I have to go first?  Well, I like differences, and I think that’s what’s been really nice about being Gretta.  I don’t dislike big blockbusters, in fact I like them very much and sometimes that’s exactly what’s called for on a day when it’s raining and I want to sit and have popcorn and just kind of get lost in a movie. I think about that as far as making them, as well. I did Jack Ryan because I wanted to do a pure piece of popcorn. And it exactly fit coming after I did Anna Karenina, this incredibly stylized movie that was—we were sort of trying something in a new way—very, very dark. What I really wanted after that experience was to make something absolutely different. And it was the same with Begin Again.. I wanted it to be really low-budget and hit the ground running and keep going as fast as possible, all that. I wanted that kind of speed. So I feel incredibly privileged that I get the opportunity to do both types of films. I certainly don’t sneer at big-budget things, and I don’t sneer at small-budget things, I think it’s about the opportunity for me to do all different styles of movies.

JCo: Most things aren’t very good, but that’s nothing to do with scale or size or any of those things. Most things, 90%, just aren’t that great. No one sets out to make something bad, sometimes they just are. And the trick is to operate in that 10%, whether it be something with a huge budget or a small budget, and that goes for music, television, theater, art, everything. You want to operate in the 10% but acknowledge that sometimes you’ll miss the mark with that, and sometimes you’ll make mistakes.  But those are the only things that teach you to go on and try and operate in that place where you can make something that’s really good. I love watching films that some people would say are trash, and I love  watching things in a different style. I don’t think it’s a question of selling out or not selling out, I think it’s just trying at the core to make something that’s good. And there’s no better representative of that than this film, where a group of actors get on board with a director they love because they’d seen something of his that they loved. We all went, “Yeah I’m in on this journey with you, John, whatever it is and wherever we go. And I’ll absolutely do my best to make sure it sits within that 10%.”

AL: I really want to answer this question. There’s a great scene in the movie with you guys [Mark and Keira] when Dan and Gretta talk about how people spend a lot of time figuring out who they are and presenting that to the world and then re-calculating.   I think in order to understanding selling out, you first have to define what it means to sell out. To do something you don’t want to do because you might be able to gain something financially, or to not be behind something that you wind up doing for some other reason–that’s probably what I’d call selling out. Not feeling good about doing something that might help you get ahead. But doing something that you love regardless of whether it’s making a blockbuster movie or writing a pop song or trying shamelessly to succeed at something–that’s not selling out, I think that’s actually fine and I would encourage that all the time. Selling out really comes at a point when you sacrifice your own personal credibility in order to have success on a larger scale.  Doing something that makes you feel gross and benefitting from it. That’s what that is to me. And it’s very clear-cut. But people do have a hard time defining it, and they kind of throw a lot of things out there and say it about giant movies or a huge record that’s very popular and a lot of people like…and people then say they don’t like them anymore [because they had commercial success]. I always hated that growing up and if my favorite bands became successful I thought, “Good for you, that is fucking amazing, congratulations, I still love you!”  I didn’t get a selfish, possessive, bullshit attitude and think “Oh, they were mine and now they’re everyone else’s and I don’t like them anymore.” That’s a horrible way to operate. God, they get to pay the bills and have amazing lives, that’s great. And they’re a great band, fuck yeah.  So that’s how I feel.

MR: I got into acting because I wanted to act, and I love acting. And so that’s my true north, to be creative and to be challenged in what I love to do. And sometimes that takes me into a big-budget movie, sometimes that takes me to a small-budget movie, but I’m doing essentially the same thing in each one of those, which is stretching in a way that I hadn’t. That’s my aim. I come from the theater, and in the theater you’re never pegged for one thing. You can be in a comedy in one season and you can be the romantic lead the next season, and you can do a period piece the following season and do something modern the season after that. No one ever says to you, “This is what you have to do! This is what we expect of you!” So that work ethic is what I know to bring to my film work as well. It just takes you on this wild ride.  And, cynically, the day that I decide to do something just purely for monetary gain or because it is going to get me to the next thing  will, I think, only lead to my downfall somewhere. It hurts your creative self. And so I think the idea of selling out is a lot of times a projection that people create about artists that is more a reflection of who they are than what is actually happening in front of them with the artist.

JCo: I slept with John to get in the film, and it didn’t feel like I was selling out at the time. I’d do it again.

Q: Keira, how did you relate to the romantic and the heartbreak aspect of the movie?

KK: I think it’s what I liked about the film. You can kind of take it out of the music industry story, and essentially what it’s about is people falling down in life and trying to pick themselves back up, and whether that has to do with a relationship or a career or wherever. I think you can’t be adult and not have felt that in whatever extreme way. So obviously yeah, I completely understood where Gretta was coming from and the feeling that you know exactly what’s going on and who you are and where you’re going and suddenly finding that you have no idea who you are, where you’re going, or what’s going on. All adults have experienced that.

Moderator: Finally, John, can you talk about the scene in which Gretta and Dan walk around Times Square. Was it at three o’clock in the morning and you had a handheld camera?

JCa: Yeah, we did actually. That was the one true maverick moment working on this movie, when we did not get permits and it was Mark, Keira, me, an AD, and a focus puller. There was supposedly no way we were doing to get that scene I had written in Ireland of walking around in Times Square.  Those three words—“in Times Square”—terrorized the producers.  People would get the script and go, “Ha, that’s not going to happen!”  It can happen as long as you don’t tell anybody or try to close it down, because that would have looked ridiculous.  We didn’t want extras pretending that they’re looking up at signs going, “Wow, Times Square!” So they’re real tourists walking around in the movie.  If I extended any shot in that sequence by two frames, there’d be someone going, “It’s Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo!”

AL: There’s a scene Keira and I shot in which our characters are walking into an apartment building together and someone recognizes Dave and comes up to him–and only thirty seconds earlier two girls had come up to me on the street. So literally it was happening and then we shot the scene where it was happening and there was just no difference between reality and what we shot.  There was zero projection of anybody and it was great because we were immersed in all of it the whole time. It felt real because it was. Shooting on the street was amazing.

JCo: I’m still surprised that we got away with it in New York. Sorry man, but the paparazzi just follow me wherever I go.

JCa: We had to take James’s name off the call sheets to try to get them off his scent.

Koral Brothers Addition

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In keeping with family tradition, Koral Bros., Inc., a Southampton building firm, has announced that Spencer Koral has joined the company as head of its new marketing and business development department.

Mr. Koral is the fourth generation of the Koral family to join the business. Started in 1920 by William Koral, the business has been passed down through the generations. Bill Koral, the current president, has been with the company since 1979 and is Spencer’s father.

The company, which is celebrating its 94th year, is the oldest general contracting firm in Southampton and the East End. Located on North Main Street in Southampton, the firm specializes in building custom homes on the South Fork and works closely with architects to ensure both quality craftsmanship and customer satisfaction.

To contact Mr. Koral, e-mail skoral@koralbros.com. For more information on Koral Bros. Inc. visit www.koralbros.com or call 631-283-0033.

New Location for Old Town Crossing

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Old Town Crossing recently announced its new location on Mariner Drive in Southampton.

The home furnishings store, which is also located on Main Street in Southampton, has been in Southampton for 35 years. It specializes in importing fine antique furniture and accessories from England, France, Italy, Spain and China and also has private collections of custom made pieces, including picture frames, bar ware, candles and other decorative accessories.

At the new location, there will be a variety of fabrics, shades, drapes, woven and wood blinds, carpets and rugs, as well as wallpaper installation services. There will also be services for interior design and furniture restoration.

For more information, call (631) 283-7740 or visit www.oldtowncrossing.com.

East End Weekend: Highlights of June 27 – 29 Events

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Marc Dalessio, "Tina Under the Olive Tree" 43 x 35 inches, Oil 2014.

Marc Dalessio, “Tina Under the Olive Tree” 43 x 35 inches, Oil 2014.

By Tessa Raebeck

Marc Dalessio, "Laundry in the Wind" 36 x 28 inches, Oil, 2014.

Marc Dalessio, “Laundry in the Wind” 36 x 28 inches, Oil, 2014.

There’s a lot going on on the East End this weekend. Here are some highlights:

The Grenning Gallery in Sag Harbor is hosting an opening reception Saturday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. for a new solo show of Marc Dalessio, a regular artist at the gallery who spent the last year traveling the world looking for beauty. “Ironically, the most beautiful subject was found right at home,” gallery owner Laura Grenning said in a press release, speaking of “Tina Under the Olive Tree,” a plein air painting of his newly wed wife at his longtime farmhouse in Tuscany.

According to Ms. Grenning, Mr. Dalessio’s “humility, a rare commodity in the art world today, is sincere–just look at the paintings. These ideas, although not articulated at the time, explain my personal choice to leave the world of international finance and move to [the] East End almost 20 years ago.”

“The Grenning Gallery,” she added, “was created to provide a stable exhibition space and steady source of capital for these artists to continue their efforts to seek out and record nature’s beauty for the rest of us.”

Ocean the seal in rehabilitation in Riverhead.

Ocean the seal in rehabilitation in Riverhead.

 

A seal named Ocean will be released by the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Ocean the seal will return to his home and namesake following two months of rehabilitation at the foundation after he was found in Montauk suffering from a broken jaw and respiratory condition.

After Oceans of Hope, the foundation’s annual fundraising event Friday, Ocean the seal will be released from under the Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays.

 

 

Design Night Sag Harbor opens high-end stores for charity Saturday in an evening of shopping, wine, and fundraising for at-risk youth. Participating stores are donating 10 percent of sales to Community of Unity, a non-profit that empowers young people at risk to make good choices for their futures.

Ten Sag Harbor boutiques are participating: Urban Zen, Bloom, JanGeorge, Sylvester & Co., La Lampade, Ruby Beets, La Maisonette, Black Swan Antiques, JED and MAX ID NY. Design Night runs from 5 to 8 p.m.

 

Rounding out the weekend Sunday from 4 to 7 p.m. Sylvester & Co. At Home is hosting an opening reception for EJ Camp’s show “Faces of the Sea.” The Amagansett branch of the store, which also has a shop in Sag Harbor, will show the photographer’s photos of the East End sea, from fog over Orient Bay to the tide crashing into the jetty on Georgica Beach in East Hampton.

E.J. Camp, "Trumans Beach Sunset."

E.J. Camp, “Trumans Beach Sunset.”

 

Bob Bori

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 bobbori

Bob Bori is beginning his fifth season as the Sag Harbor harbormaster. He discusses his job and how he prepares for the summer boating season.

By Mara Certic

You worked as a police officer for Southampton Town for 23 years. You have been a member of the Sag Harbor Fire Department for 35 years. Is experience in law enforcement a pre-requisite for becoming the harbormaster?

For civil service it’s a good idea to have some prior experience, if not, you have to go to a police officers school held by the Sheriff’s office.  And some marine experience—I mean I worked on the bay when I was younger before I started working at the police department. And I’ve been on the water ever since I was a kid, clamming, fishing, scalloping.

With a staff of only eight, how do you manage to keep on top of the waterways when hundreds of boats arrive for the summer?

Ed Michaels is a senior harbormaster in East Hampton; he’s in charge of the marine patrol. And he was pretty much instrumental in putting the East End Law Enforcement Task Force together about six or eight years ago. And what it did was brought all the East End marine patrols together. I was just working on the preparations for the upcoming fireworks. For example, because we only have one boat, the other jurisdictions get together. East Hampton’s sending a boat, Southampton will send two boats, Shelter Island will send a boat and we’ll use a couple of fireboats.

What else have you been doing to prepare for the Independence Day fireworks?

Everybody’s assigned an area, a certain sector out there that they’re responsible for, and then in case there’s an EMS issue or somebody gets sick, or there’s an arrest situation we figure out ahead of time how that’s going to be addressed. The firework barge goes about 2,000 feet northeast of the breakwater; so there are a lot of boats that go out from all over. We have to keep a certain zone cordoned off as a safety zone.

How many accidents are there during a typical summer season?

It varies. Last year was pretty quiet, but the year before we had quite a few. I’m guessing maybe 12 or 15 accident reports the year before last; for the most part those accidents are people hitting rocks at Gull Island—which is just north of here, south of the main channel. Some people just don’t know the area and don’t really know what they’re doing. The last really serious accident was about eight years ago—a few kids got seriously injured, but since then, at least in the last five years we haven’t had anything major.

What preventative measures do you take to avoid accidents?

We started last summer, and we’re doing it again this summer, having some boating-while-intoxicated checkpoints. It works out pretty well, everybody’s limited in resources but then when we need them—or if there’s a serious boat accident or a search and rescue trip, then everyone gets involved.

If there is an accident out on the water that requires an emergency response, what is the general procedure?

If there is a boat accident, I get dispatched and if it comes through that there are injuries onboard, then the ambulance will be dispatched too, and the fire department. Everybody goes out. We usually have a plan in place where I take a few EMTs out with me on my boat and a few of them also go out on the fireboat, and we assess it from there.

This week, the Village Board approved advertising spots in your mooring field, just south of the breakwater. What provoked you to seek that approval?

People just aren’t re-upping this year; we have two lists for dock spaces and moorings, residents and non-residents. The dock spaces are the premium and we have a lot of people who want them. But for some reason, we haven’t received as much interest in our mooring spots this year.

 

The Secret Life of Long Pond Greenbelt

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deerfoweb

 

Two deer fighting in Long Pond Greenbelt. Photo by Jill Musnicki.

By Mara Certic

After a burglar repeatedly tried to break into her parents’ home, Jill Musnicki and her husband had the idea to install motion-sensitive cameras around the property to try to catch the crook red-handed. The police ended up catching the pilferer without the help of the cameras, but the security system she had set up inspired Ms. Musnicki to embark on an artistic investigation of her own.

“As I watched what images came out, I thought it would be neat to use them in an artistic way,” she said. As part of the Parrish Art Museum’s road show in 2012, Ms. Musnicki installed game cameras from Water Mill to Montauk to shoot pictures of unsuspecting creatures as they moved past.

The artist, who is a fourth generation East End resident, wanted to show the lives of the animals who continue to live among us, in spite of all the development that has depleted their natural habitats. The show was called “What Comes Around,” and provided a fascinating glimpse into what animals do when undisturbed by humans.

This Friday, June 27, at the South Fork Natural History Museum in Bridgehampton, Ms. Musnicki will present “What Comes Around II,” which will show the secret behavior of the animals who live in the 1,100 acres of Long Pond Greenbelt.

According to Ms. Musnicki, the cameras she installed throughout the area—which stretches from Sagaponack to Sag Harbor—are typically used by hunters to “track where the action’s going on.”

The artist, however, uses them to catch glimpses of foxes, osprey and endless deer interacting, uninterrupted by the hustle and bustle of humanity. The cameras take still pictures whenever something moves in front of them, Ms. Musnicki explained. She then collected them and has spent hours whittling down the series of images from 100,000 to 5,000.

“I put myself in the zone, sit in front of the computer, scroll through thousands of pictures,” she said. The process, she said, is hugely time consuming: “It definitely takes me away from my painting in the studio,” said the artist who is primarily known for her work in that medium.

After whittling out the photos triggered by a leaf or a twig blowing in front of the camera, Ms. Musnicki enters them into a film editing software in which she, with help, edits the pictures together, speeds up the process and creates a stop-motion film of the undisturbed animal kingdom. “It’s a little tiny pocket of animal life,” she said.

A large part of the artistic process is in the presentation of her hidden cameras’ shots.

Ms. Musnicki’s edits become a “fast little film,” adding an interesting artistic element to the project. The same film will be projected onto two giant screens at the Museum Barn at SOFO. The films will be screened in a round, if you will, with one starting five minutes after the first. “The more screens I have the more dynamic it becomes,” she said.

The Long Pond Greenbelt cameras have captured pictures of “lots of creatures,” Ms. Musnicki said. The nine-month span of this project has allowed Ms. Musnicki to document baby foxes growing up. “There’s a little log that a turtle jumped off of,” she added. The artist’s house faces part of the reserve. “I particularly love the [camera] across the street from me, so much stuff happens there,” she said, citing a brawl that she captured between two deer locking horns.

The project, she added, “involves people in every step of the process. When it comes to show it, I definitely feed off of people. I need help, I get help, people like to help, and so it turns into a nice collaboration,” she said.

Each project is very different, she said. The friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt “know where to go, and that was fun for me, to learn a few places that I didn’t know of.” Ms. Musnicki has also been working in collaboration with the Nature Conservancy on a similar project at the Warhol Estate in Montauk, thanks to grants from the conservancy and Warhol Foundation.

A preview of the Montauk project will be shown on five different screens the next day on Saturday, June 28, at the Nature Conservancy’s Beaches and Bays Gala at the Center for Conservation in East Hampton.

The final Warhol project, which has been in the works for a year, will be shown at a later date and will be the artist’s most dynamic and detailed view into our animal neighbors and “a life of their own in the middle of all of us,” she said.

What Comes Around II will be shown on Friday, June 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the South Fork Natural History Museum Art Barn, located at 377 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton. A preview of the Warhol project will be shown at the Beaches & Bays Gala on Saturday, June 28, which will take place at the Center for Conservation on Route 114 in East Hampton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turnout for Traffic Calming and Dog Park

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An overflow crowd filled the Sag Harbor Village Board’s meeting room Tuesday night to support traffic calming and a dog  park. Photo by Stephen J. Kotz

By Stephen J. Kotz

An army of residents of Sag Harbor and the surrounding area crammed into the Sag Harbor Village Board’s meeting room Tuesday night, spilling out into the hallway and sitting on the floor.

They were there to lobby the board to approve a traffic calming pilot project promoted by the organizations Save Sag Harbor and Serve Sag Harbor and to show support for a Bay Point woman’s request for the village to set aside a portion of Havens Beach as a dog park.

Traffic calming proponents, who were hopeful that they would finally be given the green light to launch their pilot program, left deflated, as the board tabled the matter yet again. While dog park supporters were buoyed by the board’s agreement to form a committee to further study the request.

“Can I at least tell the people who have donated their time that we’ll be on the agenda next month?” asked Susan Mead of Serve Sag Harbor, who has spearheaded efforts to fund the traffic-calming project.

Board members promised that they would pick up the discussion either at their July meeting or at a work session later this month.

“I support the concept, but I have a lot of issues,” said Trustee Ed Deyermond. “I’m not prepared to vote on this.”

Trustee Ken O’Donnell said he also wanted to move forward, as soon as possible. “Let’s pick an intersection and get it right,” he said.

He also complained that he had not been given adequate time before Tuesday’s meeting to review the proposed sites and lashed out at Mayor Brian Gilbride over the lack of communication.

“I gotta look at Facebook. It’s the only way the board finds out about traffic calming tonight is to look on Facebook,” he said.

Trustee Robby Stein also pledged support for the pilot program. “We’re in agreement that something has to be done,” he said, adding that he wanted to make sure that concerns of emergency services representatives were also met.

Mayor Gilbride, who has in the past encouraged the traffic calming supporters, waffled a bit on Tuesday. “Being born and raised here, I’m not seeing the need for it, he said, adding, nonetheless, that Save Sag Harbor and Serve Sag Harbor had done a good job and he would support a pilot program.

“Traffic calming happens in Sag Harbor every summer,” the mayor later quipped, “because you can’t go that fast.”

Earlier in the meeting, a steady stream of visitors stepped up to the podium, most of whom were strongly in favor of the traffic calming measures.

Among the supporters were Neil Slevin, the planning board chairman, and Anton Hagen, the chairman of the zoning board.

“I’ve lived on Main Street for 34 years. Traffic and speed have always been an issue,” Mr. Hagen said.

“Main Street has gotten so much busier than when I moved in 28 years,” said Mr. Slevin. “I’m asking you as a neighbor and as a leader of this community. I’m asking you to give it a chance.”

Bob Plum, another Main Street resident, also called for the board to support traffic calming. “I think in the big picture this is a great opportunity to establish a precedent,” he said. “Robert Moses can roll over in his grave.”

Drivers speed down Main Street “as they try to catch the light” at the intersection with Jermain Avenue and Brick Kiln Road, said Mary Anne Miller. “No one ever abides by the speed limit. I believe it will do a great amount of good for the village.”

April Gornick of North Haven was one of several people from outside the village who supported the traffic calming effort. “We’re trying to make this as flexible as possible,” she said. “I think the benefit would be enormous.” She added she hoped that Jermain Avenue and Madison Street could be targeted because the intersection is so close to the school.

“Change has come. Whether we like it or not, we’re all under siege by cars,” said Eric Cohen of Collingswood Drive, just south of the village.

“Until we try something we don’t know if it will work,” he added. “Try this. If it doesn’t work, try something else.”

Jane Young, a resident of Northside Drive in Noyac, said, “I think traffic is getting crazier and crazier out here by the year I hope you will give the pilot program a chance.”

But not everyone was in favor of the program. Rue Matthiessen, a Main Street resident, said while supported “efforts to control traffic,” she opposed the changes proposed for Glover and Main streets that she said would reduce the width of the road. “There have been attempts to explain to us that putting obstructions in the road will not narrow the road, but we fail to see how this is possible,” she said.

Ann Marie Bloedorn, a Hampton Road resident, said putting planters in the road would make it too hard for fire trucks to maneuver.

Sag Harbor Fire Chief Jim Frazier agreed. “It was stated earlier that or trucks didn’t have difficulty negotiating some of those circles. That’s not the case,” he said.

And Ed Downes of the Sag Harbor Volunteer Ambulance Corps said that when traffic lanes are narrowed to slow traffic, it also slows emergency responders. “It makes it more difficult for us to get to the ambulance or get to the person in trouble,” he said.

Dog Park

Tina Pignatelli of Bay Point, whose dog Huckleberry was struck and killed at Havens Beach a month ago, appeared with a phalanx of supporters to devote a portion of the field on the southeast side of Havens Beach as a dog park.

“I want to make this park safe for dogs, so what happened to Huck never happens again,” she said.

Ms. Pignatelli said she wanted the park to be a place for people and pets to enjoy and repeated her vow to find private funding to landscape an area for the project.

Ms. Pignatelli’s father, North Haven Mayor Jeff Sander also spoke. “The loss of Huck was devastating to her and our family,” he said.

A steady procession of speakers also supported the proposal, for which the landscape architect Jack deLashmet has agreed to provide plans.

“I support something like this being done down there,” said Mr. Deyermond looking over a rough sketch of the proposal. “I’m afraid that this takes up most of what’s there.” He asked if the plan could be scaled back.

Mr. Stein also said he would support the plan, but would like to make sure it is landscaped with plants that would prevent erosion and runoff into a dreen that drains into the harbor.

“I tell you, I never thought that was a spot for a dog park,” said Mayor Gilbride before addressing Mr. Sander. “You sure you don’t have an property over there, Jeff?”

Despite the joking tone, Mr. Gilbride promised to set up a committee to work with Ms. Pignatelli to come up with more formal plans.

Sag Harbor Candidates Discuss Issues

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Candidates Robby Stein, Bruce Stafford, John Shaka and Sandy Schroeder at a roundtable discussion.

By Stephen J. Kotz

The four candidates for Sag Harbor Village Board gathered in The Sag Harbor Express office last Thursday to outline their reasons for running and discuss how they planned to approach some of the key issues facing the village in the coming years at a roundtable discussion.

The election is Tuesday, June 17, with voting from noon to 9 p.m. at the firehouse on Brick Kiln Road.

Sandra Schroeder, a retired village administrator who fell short in a bid for mayor last year, is making her first run for a trustee seat, as is John Shaka, an active member of the group, Save Sag Harbor. Bruce Stafford, who served one term, from 2009 to 2011, is seeking to reclaim a seat, and Robby Stein, who is finishing his fifth year on the board, is seeking another term.

“The waterfront and water quality are important to me,” said Ms. Schroeder, echoing a concern also raised by Mr. Shaka and Mr. Stein. She also cited traffic, disappointment that the village was unable to settle a contract with its police union, and the need to invest in infrastructure, including the Municipal Building, Long Wharf and the sewage treatment plant.

“We need new things and we need new thinking,” she said, “and someone who is looking to the future at where we want to be.”

“I love this place,” said Mr. Shaka, who owns a painting business and has lived in Sag Harbor for 15 years. “The reason I’m running for trustee is I want to keep it beautiful and livable.”

Mr. Shaka called for better communication between the village and the school district to solve problems like traffic tie-ups at Pierson High School during drop-off and pickup times; a sharper focus on the environment, especially water quality; better efforts at historic preservation, citing the John Jermain Memorial Library expansion of an excellent example; and traffic calming, an initiative he has been deeply involved with in recent months.

Mr. Stafford, a landscaper who was born and raised in Sag Harbor, cited his local ties, including 36 years of service with the Sag Harbor Fire Department and his leadership role as chairman of the board of the Sag Harbor United Methodist Church.

He said there was a need to hold the line on taxes and cited his efforts to rein in spending while on the board.  He agreed that traffic is an issue but noted that options are limited because village streets are narrow because they “were made many, many years ago for horse and buggy.”

Calling Sag Harbor a great place to raise a family, Mr. Stafford added, “this is no longer our little home. It has been found. I’m just trying to keep it as long as possible.”

Mr. Stein, a therapist who now serves as deputy mayor, said there were many key issues facing the village, and cautioned against expecting easy fixes for any of them.

He said he was “passionate” about finding ways to manage “water and the health of the harbor and the way water is absorbed by this whole village.”

Mr. Stein said he would like to see the village review the code to see that it is keeping up with the times. The village, he added, needs to determine what infrastructure projects it will tackle first and where it can find new sources of revenue. An immediate challenge, he added, is that once the village police contract is finalized, the village will be headed right back to the bargaining table because of the short term of the new deal. He noted that negotiations have not been particularly cordial and said it was important to stabilize the contract for the long term because police costs account for more than half the budget.

“I think we really have to look at what our priorities are,” he said. “The character of the village is something we want to protect.”

When it comes to safeguarding water quality in the bay, Ms. Schroeder said a systematic plan needs to be put in place to install larger catch basins and dry wells to prevent as much initial runoff as possible. She also said she expected the village would eventually have to undertake a major upgrade of its sewage treatment plant.

The village will have to work with its neighboring towns and Suffolk County to tackle water monitoring and pollution abatement solutions.

“Sag Harbor can’t do it all by ourselves,” she said.

Mr. Stein, who has focused on runoff and water quality issues during his time on the board, disagreed.

“You can’t build big enough catch basins to hold the rainfall,” he said. It would be far more effective to try to retain as much rainwater on-site through porous natural solutions like rain gardens, which are typically planted depressions, which allow rainwater to be absorbed into the ground, he said.

He also disagreed that the sewage treatment plant needs to be expanded, saying it is operating at only about 30-percent capacity now.

Mr. Shaka said he was equally concerned about nitrogen seeping into the bay from overtaxed septic systems and said the village needs to collect baseline data of the situation by conducing regular water sampling.

He agreed with Ms. Schroeder that the village would be hard pressed to correct pollution on its own and said it would have to forge alliances with neighboring communities and levels of government to tackle the problem.

Mr. Stafford said the village could convert a portion of the Cilli Farm into a drainage and filtering area.

“Right now, it’s just a brushy pile of nothing down there,” he said, “and we’ve owned it for how many years?”

The ongoing contract dispute between the village and Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association was also a source of concern.

“The bottom line is taxes,” said Mr. Stafford. “The smart thing to do is wait and see what the arbitrator is going to come back with and eventually put on a referendum and let the village taxpayers decide” if the village should maintain a department.

“I like having a police department,” he said, “I like having two on at one time.” But he added that the PBA has been unwilling to work with the village and suggested that the village would be better off going with a reduced force and hiring more part-time officers.

“If it goes to arbitration, you are in trouble,” said Ms. Schroeder. “Arbitration rarely benefits the village.”

Mr. Stein said the problem went deeper than negotiations. The village is limited because it can only hire officers from a local Civil Service list or the county list. He said the department would be able to hire young officers at lower wages if it could use the Southampton Town hiring list.

He said it was important that the police pay be controlled much as the village is controlling spending elsewhere.

“It has to be a consistent piece of the pie,” he said, adding that police will have to ask for smaller raises and contribute to their health care costs in the future.

“I like having an affordable police force,” said Mr. Shaka. “Let’s wait until the arbitration is in, but I can tell you what isn’t affordable—if police have 4-percent raises every year.”

All candidates, save Mr. Stafford who praised Mayor Brian Gilbride’s pay-as-you go approach, said the village would benefit by borrowing money now, while interest rates are at historic lows, to tackle major infrastructure projects, like repairing Long Wharf.

Mr. Stein said the village should lobby East Hampton and Southampton Town for a larger share of Community Preservation Fund money, which, he said, might be used to buy easements from waterfront property owners to plant buffers to protect the bay.

“There’s no property here,” he said. “We aren’t going to buy anything else. There’s only one thing left on the East End and that’s the water.”

Sag Harbor needs to ramp up its code enforcement and revisit its zoning code, the candidates agreed, if it wants to protect its character.

Mr. Stein said the zoning code should be updated to limit the construction of oversized houses on small lots, as well as not overly restrict commercial uses.

“Code enforcement would be a good place to start,” said Mr. Shaka. A leader of the fight against a plan to redevelop the Harbor Heights service station with a convenience store and other amenities, Mr. Shaka said such plans should be stopped in their tracks.

Mr. Stafford said he was particularly concerned about illegal rentals and overcrowding in homes.

All four candidates agreed that there could be better communication both among board members and with the public.

Mr. Stein called for a better website and regular newsletters to taxpayers. The board should also hold monthly work sessions, he said.

“If nobody says anything you don’t hear anything,” quipped Ms. Schroeder, who said the board needed to be willing to listen to people who may have more expertise than they do.

“If you get enough people talking, you’ll solve your problems,” she said.

 

Southampton Considers Trails Map

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The Southampton Town Board last Thursday after meeting with Ross Baldwin, the director of its Geographic Information Services, and members of the Southampton Trails Preservation Party, agreed to support a pilot program to print maps of publicly owned trails in the town.

“We have spent so many millions of dollars preserving these trails, it’s a way of highlighting them,” said Councilwoman Bridget Fleming.

“If we had 100, they would go like hotcakes,” said Howard Reisman of the trails society. “We do get a lot of demand.”

The board debated whether it should try to find a contractor to print the maps or do them in house. Councilman Stan Glinka suggested that the trails society might want to work with local chambers of commerce to sponsor the maps and pledged to work with the group to find a way to print a small number of the maps.

Glorian Berk, the president of the trails society, asked the board to handle the distribution “because the trails society is not really a business.”

The maps would be sold at the town clerk’s office and the town Parks Department. A price was not set.

League Offers Stony Brook Southampton Tour

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The League of Women Voters of the Hamptons has invited the public to take part in a tour of Stony Brook Southampton’s state-of-the-art School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences Building on Monday, June 16, at 5:30 p.m. and to learn about the program from its manager, Christopher Paparo.

The $8.3 million, two-story, 15,000-square-foot building, which opened last fall, is a high tech research facility on Little Neck Road, overlooking Old Fort Pond, which connects to Shinnecock Bay.

It houses a seawater laboratory with a computerized circulation system, two wet labs, an analytical lab, classrooms, a conference room, and other spaces such as an outdoor tank area.

Moored outside is a fleet of three research vessels used to collect specimens and conduct classes.

The facility is being used for Stony Brook University’s graduate programs in marine sciences, four undergraduate degrees and programs such as Semester-by-the-Sea, and high school field trips and two-week summer oceanography classes.

Refreshments will be served at the beginning of the meeting.

Parking is available on Little Neck Road, just past the SoMAS building, which is diagonally across from the Stony Brook Southampton campus on Montauk Highway.

Additional information is available from the League at (631) 324-4637 or by visiting www.lwvhamptons.org.