Tag Archive | "Southampton"

Environmentalists and Hunters Say Lower Waterfowl Count Shouldn’t Cause Concern

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Hundreds of American mallards taking flight on Mecox Bay on Monday. Photo by Mara Certic.

By Mara Certic 

Although the black duck and merganser populations were down, East End birders came out in record numbers last weekend to take part in the 60th annual winter waterfowl count.

On Saturday and Sunday, January 17 and 18, environmentalists and volunteers spent hours at ponds, beaches and coves, counting the number of ducks, swans and geese in local waters. Frank Quevedo, avian enthusiast and executive director of the South Fork Natural History Museum, organized the count from Montauk to the Shinnecock Canal.

“I was the regional compiler,” he said in an interview on Monday, “I had about 20 birders there, the most I’ve ever had. I think that’s a reflection of more and more people enjoying birding,” Mr. Quevedo said.

The information gathered in the waterfowl count is passed along to the New York State Ornithological Association, who publish the data and also share it with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which in turn uses it for long-term analysis of waterfowl populations wintering in the state.

Not all of the data were available by the time of this paper’s publication, but Mr. Quevedo said that 47 species in total were counted last weekend, and apart from a few variations, the figures seemed to be in keeping with annual trends.

He seemed particularly excited about a greater white-fronted goose spotted in Southampton. The large birds are usually only found west of the Mississippi River in this country.

“One other thing I noticed was that our merganser population was down this year,” Mr. Quevedo said.

Al Daniels, a lifelong hunter and conservationist, was responsible for counting all of the waterfowl in Sag Harbor. After tallying up the birds at Long Wharf, Long Beach, Otter Pond, Tides Beach and Sag Harbor Cove, Mr. Daniels also determined that the merganser numbers seemed low.

“But nobody hunts mergansers,” Mr. Daniels said of the birds, which are not considered “good eating,” as hunters say.

The waterfowl population on the East End is made up of migratory birds that travel down from parts north in the early winter to find food and water. According to local hunter Tanner Bertrand, these birds will only travel as far south as they need to get sufficient nutrition for the winter.

“They only go as far down as the water freezes,” he said, adding, “as long as they have water and food they stay put.”

The American black duck, which just last month was named one of the species of greatest conservation need in the state, was also not as populous east of the canal as it had been in previous years.

According to Mr. Bertrand, this is not immediately as concerning as it might seem. “The weather’s been so good this year, which has made the hunting season difficult. The birds are content where they are,” he said.

“We’re always affected here by the weather,” Mr. Daniels said on Tuesday.“[Waterfowl] season started in November, and for the first month puddle duck hunting was down,” he said.  He attributed that to the mild weather and noted that since last week’s cold snap, larger numbers of mallards and black ducks have been finding their way south to Long Island.

“A lot of local ponds were frozen, and that displaces a lot of birds in the area,” Mr. Quevedo said. “That was one reason why perhaps we didn’t get the numbers we usually do.” He added that his report to the New York State Ornithological Association includes weather conditions, which are taken into account when final statewide figures are tallied.

With all migratory animals, it is difficult to establish whether the dwindling populations are caused to some sort of dire conservation need, or simply part of a natural cycle. But those who have been hunting for years know that different species of birds change from year to year.

“When my father was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, there were always broadbills and canvasbacks,” Mr. Bertrand said. “They always had them down in the Chesapeake, but they weren’t here for a while.”

“Then three or four years ago we started seeing them in Mill Pond and down in Mecox Creek. Now each year they’re coming up in thicker numbers,” he said.

Mr. Daniels said he too remembers the days when local hunters spent most of their time shooting “white birds.” He also recalls when hunting was more prevalent, before all local waterfronts were peppered with second homes.

“[Hunting] is sort of like keeping the [local] traditions going,” Mr. Daniels said. “It’s sad for the children born today won’t see what we had.”

“I still got to see the good stuff,” he said. “When I was young, we ate wild ducks every Monday for the whole year,” he reminisced.

Duck-hunting season ends on Sunday, January 26. The season for hunting geese will end on Wednesday, February 4.



Amazon Debuts Animated Pilot for “The Stinky and Dirty Show” Based on Sag Harbor Author’s Books

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Amazon has produced an animated pilot for preschool kids based on the work of Kate and Jim McMullan, who, respectively, are the author and illustrator of a series of picture books including “I’m Dirty!,” “I Stink!,” “I’m Brave!,” and “I’m Fast!” detailing the lives of different vehicles including a garbage truck, a tugboat, a backhoe loader and a fire truck.

Titled “The Stinky and Dirty Show,” the pilot can be viewed at amzn.to/1C2w0qG. With enough views and comments, Amazon may make pick up the series and develop it into a full fledged children’s show, according to Ms. McMullan who informed readers and fans about the program via email this week.

Several of the books have been made into videos already. The McMullans’ announced on their website—katemcmullen.com—that Scholastic is making a video of “I’m Fast!” with Stanley Tucci playing the voice of the train. Ms. McMullan also created the Myth-o-Mania series, a parody of Greek myths starring Hades, Helen of Troy and Perseus, among others, as well as several other books geared for children and young adults alike.

To learn more about the McMullans, visit katemcmullen.com and to view “The Stinky and Dirty Show” visit http://amzn.to/1C2w0qG.


Three Southampton Town Board Members Renounce 2015 Salary Hikes

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By Mara Certic

Three of the five members of the Southampton Town Board have rejected their 2015 wage increases, requesting instead that the dollar amount of their 3-percent raises be returned to town funds.

At last week’s organizational meeting, when discussing a resolution to accept salary schedules for the five members of the Southampton Town Board, Councilwoman Christine Scalera and Councilman Stan Glinka asked to forego their $2,000 salary hike.

The salaries for the four members were slated to increase from $60,000 to $62,000 in the 2015 budget, which Ms. Scalera objected to during budget talks late last year. Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst’s salary was raised from $102,000 to $104,040.

Last week, Councilwoman Bridget Fleming asked that the resolution be tabled in order to give her more time to consider the implications of the decision. Her fellow board members seemed reluctant to do so but eventually the discussion was postponed until Tuesday, January 13.

At Tuesday’s meeting Ms. Fleming thanked the board for giving her time to consider the amendment, and said that after speaking with her family, she too had decided to do without this year’s wage increase.

However, unlike her Republican colleagues, who requested their money be returned to the general fund, Ms. Fleming, a Democrat, asked that $1,000 go toward Farm Fresh Farmers Market in Flanders, and that the remaining money go to the Water Quality Protection Cost Center.

Mr. Bender said last week he would be keeping his full salary because his position as councilman is his only job and source of income. He added that he had no objection to his co-workers’ request. Supervisor Throne-Holst also said she understood the implications of the decision, and that she would vote in favor of the amendment.

After Ms. Fleming offered her amendment, the resolution establishing salary schedules for the town board passed unanimously.

In other action, the town board adjourned a public hearing to discuss possible amendments to the Special Exception Uses permit, in order to create stricter standards for retail businesses between 5,000 and 15,000 square feet.

This amendment came to the forefront in the fall, seemingly in response to controversial plans for a 9,030-square-foot CVS on a busy intersection on Bridgehampton’s Main Street.  It aims to create specific standards and safeguards for large stores, in an effort to tighten the zoning code.

At the first public hearing about the amendment in September, members of the Bridgehampton Citizen Advisory Committee, who have been fighting the CVS tooth and nail for months, spoke in favor of it.

At the same hearing, local attorneys representing CVS and BNB Ventures IV, the owner of the property, called the amendment “illegal” and unethical.

Ms. Scalera asked that the hearing be adjourned until the board’s first meeting next month, on Tuesday, February 10, to allow it more time to work on the law with the planning department, adding that the process has been more challenging than anticipated.





SUNY Board of Trustees Unanimously Approves Stony Brook-Southampton Hospital Merger

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By Mara Certic

After more than two years of negotiations, the first step was taken toward a merger between Southampton and Stony Brook University hospitals on Tuesday when the full SUNY Board of Trustees approved the long-awaited alliance.

The board unanimously approved an affiliation agreement between the two hospitals after hearing from a member of its five-member Academic Medical Centers and Hospitals Committee.

SUNY’s hospital subcommittee, which was appointed to make recommendations about the university’s health centers, unanimously supported the affiliation agreement between the two hospitals on Monday morning, finally moving it out of committee.

Trustee Cary Staller gave the presentation to his fellow board members, filling in for the committee chairman John Murad, who was watching the meeting via webcam.

Mr. Staller explained the committee is in favor of the integration and affiliation agreement, as it is formally called, on three conditions. The first is that Stony Brook University and Stony Brook University Hospital are not allowed to seek funding from the state or SUNY for capital projects related to the affiliation on the Stony Brook Southampton campus.

Southampton Hospital has shared some services with Suffolk County’s largest hospital since 2008. The two medical centers signed a letter of intent in October of 2012, which said Southampton would operate under Stony Brook’s license, in hopes that a new facility would be built on Stony Brook Southampton’s 85-acre campus.

The first condition of the merger does not in any way put a damper on those plans, according to Robert Chaloner, president and CEO of Southampton Hospital.

“We never were looking for money from the state to do that,” he said in a phone interview on Tuesday afternoon. “We always believed the hospital should be built with private philanthropy.”

The second provision is that Stony Brook University Hospital must establish sufficient cash reserves to cover Southampton Hospital’s liabilities and the final condition stipulates that Stony Brook University Hospital must come up with a comprehensive plan for the integration including specific tasks and milestones.

According to Mr. Chaloner, the merger will allow Southampton Hospital some security at a time when long-term trends for small, independent hospitals “are not great.”

Mr. Chaloner said the two hospitals hope to work side-by-side to extend healthcare teaching programs, share and improve information technology and tap into each other’s resources.

There is a chance of coordinating the Meeting House Lane practices with Stony Brook University Hospital, he said, which has a similar organization.

“We’d like to tie things together, but if anything that’ll be somewhere we need to go full speed ahead,” he said, adding that there is a huge need for more doctors on the East End. For that reason, there will be no employee cuts as a result of this merger.

“One of the major fundamentals is to ensure employees stay in place and that they retain their current union memberships,” he said.

“We don’t want people to leave, we need everybody,” Mr. Chaloner said. “This is a merger to bring two organizations together to grow, not to cut.”

All 18 members of the board voted in favor of the resolution. Trustee Eunice Lewin said she had been concerned about the merger until she visited Southampton Hospital and was “pleasantly surprised.”

Dr. Samuel Stanley, president of Stony Brook University Hospital, was at Tuesday’s meeting and thanked the board.

“It’s not completed yet, there’s still work to be done, but this is an extraordinarily important first step,” he said.

“For both Southampton Hospital and for Stony Brook, this is a win-win in every sense of the word,” he said, “We look forward to the implementation process.”

“This affiliation is a step in the right direction for expanding and improving health care on the South Fork. Both Stony Brook and Southampton Hospital officials are to be commended for their efforts,” State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. said in a press release issued on Tuesday.

“Assemblyman Thiele and I have worked hard to impress upon the SUNY system the need and benefits of bringing these two hospitals together and commend the Board of Trustees for recognizing the changing face of healthcare and advancing this initiative,” Senator Kenneth P. LaValle said in the same release.

“The possibilities are endless. This affiliation could help revitalize the Stony Brook Southampton campus by bringing in new health care based academic programs, and also a new state-of-the-art hospital at the Southampton campus. The agreement could serve as an anchor, ensuring that the college be a permanent fixture in our community,” Mr. Thiele added.


Hampton Theatre Company to Present ‘Time Stands Still’

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Kate Kenney, John Carlin, John L. Payne and Sandy York. Photo by Tom Kochie.

Kate Kenney, John Carlin, John L. Payne and Sandy York. Photo by Tom Kochie.

By Tessa Raebeck

While we often think of completed scripts as specific ideas that were long-brewing in the head then finally put to page, sometimes a new play can begin with an idea as simple as “A new play.” Donald Margulies started “Time Stands Still,” by writing that unassuming idea in his notebook, followed by “A loft,” and a series of questions that became a play framed in the extreme circumstance of the Iraq War, but cemented in questions that plague all relationships.


Sandy York and John Carlin. Photo by Tom Kochie.

Presented by the Hampton Theatre Company, “Time Stands Still” will open Thursday, January 8, at the Quogue Community Hall, the second production in the company’s 30th anniversary season. Directed by Sarah Hunnewell, HTC Executive Director, the Tony Award nominated drama follows photojournalist Sarah Goodwin, who has returned home to Brooklyn after nearly being killed by an IED while covering the Iraq War. Sarah struggles to adapt to life at home with her partner James Dodd. A freelance journalist, James was also reporting on the war, but returned home before Sarah, traumatized by his own horrendous experience and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

James, portrayed by John Carlin, takes care of Sarah, who was hurt by the explosion. As the longtime couple struggles to adapt to a new life together, they are contrasted by the blossoming, promising marriage of Sarah’s editor, Richard Erlich, played by John L. Payne, and his much younger girlfriend Mandy, played by Kate Kenney.

The couple’s respective experiences at war helped to create the issues they grapple with once back home, but their struggles are inherent to many relationships; one partner wants to settle down and lead a “normal” life, while the other aches for the action provided by his or her career.

“It’s really a love story,” said Ms. Hunnewell, the director, adding, “The intensity of the jobs these people do has raised the stakes in their domestic situation.”

As their desired paths diverge, Sarah and James struggle to find a way in which their love can be enough to sustain a relationship that is no longer practical.

“You can have the best intentions and you can actually really love someone, and sometimes it still doesn’t work out. It’s this really beautiful, bittersweet aspect of just, life sometimes has other things in mind,” said Mr. Carlin.

The four actors, who are all newcomers to the company, and Ms. Hunnewell are working to find the truths of their characters beyond what the script provides, from where they were born to whether they took the subway or a cab to get to the stage that day.

“What every actor tries to do,” said Mr. Payne, a Long Island native who plays Richard, “is to make the person a real human being, and a real human being has lots of stuff that they carry around with them—they have history from their previous life, they have history from that day.”

Despite the traumatic circumstances surrounding the play, there is much humor found in the script, often in the form of Richard and Mandy, Sarah’s 55-year-old editor and his 25-year-old fiancé, who are having a child together. The trials of James and Sarah’s love are counteracted by the ease of the story’s other couple.

For Sarah, “this is the most insane thing she’s ever heard in her life,” said Ms. Hunnewell, “but he is incredibly happy, so it’s a question of priorities and what works for one couple and doesn’t work for another. It’s a study in relationships of all kinds.”

At first appearing to be the standard, happy 25-year-old bride-to-be that is oft positioned as the natural nemesis to an older female, Mandy challenges Sarah in a much more human, and intriguing, manner. The significance of Sarah’s career in her own eyes is heightened by the sense that photographing the war helps the situation by telling its truth to the world, but Mandy questions the substance behind seeing the bloodshed.

“I guess,” said Ms. Hunnewell, “it could be said about the value of anyone’s work—particularly for workaholics and for people who just put work above everything—is what any of us actually do for work that important? Are we achieving something? Is it changing the world for the better, is it not changing the world for the better, and if a job is as dangerous as hers, is it worth it?”

“Time Stands Still” runs Thursday, January 8 through January 25 at the Quogue Community Hall. For more information and special dinner packages, visit hamptontheatre.org or call 1-866-811-4111.

Hamptons Wellness Week Takes Over the Month of January

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Anastasia Gavalas and Kiley DeMarco, founders of Hampton Wellness Week. Michael Heller photo.

Anastasia Gavalas and Kiley DeMarco, founders of Hampton Wellness Week. Michael Heller photo.

By Emily J. Weitz

Kiley DeMarco and Anastasia Gavalas came from totally different perspectives when they met a couple summers back at an event at Wolffer Estate in Sagaponack. Ms. DeMarco was behind the web site onehealthyhamptons.com, where she writes about wellness on the East End. Ms. Gavalas was an author and busy mother of five.

“We just hit it off,” said Ms. DeMarco, “and started brainstorming ideas of working together.”

Ms. Gavalas’s book, “Wing It”, is about staying sane in the madness of parenthood. She also started the Wing It foundation, which helps fund global and local education initiatives. The women were supportive of one another’s work, and wanted to figure out a way that they could bring the backgrounds of wellness and family together to create a healthier community.

“We like different things,” said Ms. Gavalas. “How we relax, fitness, eating. We have different lifestyles but we both want balance.”

They were both tired of spending lots of money trying to find a wellness regime that worked, often without success. They thought about how in the winter, there are so many wellness businesses struggling to stay on people’s radar.

“We wanted to find a way,” said Ms. DeMarco, “to allow locals to try fitness classes for free or for less to empower themselves to be healthier.”

That’s how Hamptons Wellness Week was born. Last year, more than a hundred people and about 18 businesses took part. This year those numbers have already grown exponentially. The event will now span the entire month of January. More than 30 businesses are already on board, and more are joining every day.

“You buy a bracelet for $45,” explained Ms. Gavalas, “and you wear it for the month. You get free fitness classes and 50-percent off wellness treatments, from manicures and pedicures to massages and facials.”

The businesses involved really stretch to the limits of the wellness industry, including dentists and acupuncturists, chiropractors and yoga studios.

“We want people to be able to find what they like,” said Ms. Gavalas. “It can be fitness, wellness, or nutrition. We were able to encompass everything: essential oils, nutritionists, colonists. Anything that will better your life.”

They decided to make it a month long so that people really have time to explore. If they’re away for a week, they can still take advantage. If they’re late to start, they can still buy a bracelet. And, they have time to try and fail and try again.

“It takes 21 days to form a new habit,” said Ms. DeMarco. “It’s not just going to the gym for three days and giving up. This is about forming a new habit that you’ll stick to and love. It’s about doing something you love that improves your life in so many ways.”

Restaurants and hotels have also gotten involved. Some, like c/o at the Maidstone, Forever Bungalows, and the Quogue Club bought packages of bracelets that they’ll be giving out to their guests in the month of January. Some restaurants, like the Old Stove Pub in Sagaponack, will also offer special wellness menus.

“We wanted to involve more businesses and more people in the community,” said Ms. DeMarco.

The timing of Hamptons Wellness Week (or month) is consciously chosen to coincide with people’s New Year’s resolutions.

“It’s kicking off the New Year in a healthy way,” said Ms. Gavalas. “But this is also the most realistic goal you can set. This is four weeks of possibilities for anything you want to try. Air quality assessments in your home, haircuts, you name it. You get to try these things and see if it’s something you can fit into your lifestyle.”

Ms. DeMarco added, “It’s head to toe wellness. You can take this month and take care of every part of your body.”

Check out the full list of participating businesses, which are located from Montauk to Westhampton, at their web site hamptonswellnessweek.com. You can also buy bracelets online, or at Blow Hampton in Bridgehampton.


Southampton, East Hampton Towns Get Organized

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Larry Cantwell photo for web

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell announced some of the town’s goals for the coming year. 

By Mara Certic 

The year 2014 was a busy one for the East Hampton Town Board. It closed the scavenger waste facility, voted for a townwide ban on plastic bags, and accrued more Community Preservation Fund money than ever before. But according to Supervisor Larry Cantwell,  2015 has just as much in store.

The East Hampton Town Board held its 2015 organizational meeting immediately before its first work session of the year on Tuesday, January 6. Supervisor Cantwell discussed the many triumphs of the previous year and some of the goals for the next 12 months.

“I wanted to reflect for a moment on the past year and look forward to 2015, and first I want to express my appreciation to each of the board members,” Mr. Cantwell said in his opening remarks on Tuesday morning.

“Listening to the public, allowing for disagreement and maintaining courtesy and respect, we established civil discourse at town board meetings. Civility is the glue that holds us together as a democracy and as a community and it allows all of us to participate in a reasonable dialogue,” he said, adding that the board has done more to improve its transparency than previous administrations, and to improve the cooperation between departments.

Mr. Cantwell also announced some of the new initiatives the town hopes to fulfill in in the coming year.

The town plans to move toward adopting restrictions to tackle the noise problem at East Hampton Airport. Grant obligations from the Federal Aviation Administration expired on December 31, allowing the town to exert more control over the airport, officials say.  The third and final stage of a noise analysis is currently under way, and the board plan to adopt restrictions in time for the summer season.

Plans for a new community center will also be discussed in the coming year, Mr. Cantwell said, noting the town plans to replace the Senior Center on Springs- Fireplace Road.

The town is planning to adopt amendments to increase penalties and fines for zoning and code violations, and will also look to restrict the creation of new nightclubs.

East Hampton will adopt a water quality protection program this year, in order to replace failing septic systems in harbor protection districts.

Although plans for a rental registration law fell flat in 2014, Mr. Cantwell said the town will strengthen the existing code in order to combat illegally occupied housing.

The board will work on several studies, including a comprehensive review of hamlet studies of Amagansett, Montauk, Wainscott and Springs as well as a townwide business needs study and a coastal resiliency plan.

The town board will continue to encourage elected officials to call for PSEG power lines to be buried. The town has plans to adopt improved setback requirements on highways, in order to prevent what the supervisor has a called a planning mistake, the Wainscott Home Goods store, which is still under construction.

Finally, the town will also consider the creation of the office of town manager, in order to improve the efficiency of the town government.

Supervisor Cantwell also announced new members for the various appointed boards within the town. Kathy Cunningham will be the only new face on the planning board, which Reed Jones will continue to chair, with Nancy Keeshan as his vice chairperson.

There will be no changes to the Zoning Board of Appeals this year, with John Whelen and Cathy Rogers both re-appointed in their roles as chair and vice chair of the board, respectively.

Edward Krug and Peter Michael Gumpel will join the Architectural Review Board. Mr. Krug will fill the unexpired term of Rossetti Perchick. Richard Myers was named the chairperson of the ARB and Patti Lieber the vice chair.


It was business as usual at Southampton’s organizational meeting later that day.

“This is the town board’s organization meeting for 2015, which is really our housekeeping meeting as we start off the year, and most of these are rather pro forma,” Supervisor Throne-Holst said before the board launched into a series of resolutions.

The real work, she added, will begin at next week’s work session on Tuesday, January 13.

The town board moved speedily, and passed 56 resolutions in 20 minutes, with just one inciting ample discussion.

The majority of the resolutions involved reappointing committees, setting fees and making other authorizations.

The membership of the Sustainable Southampton Green Advisory Committee remained much the same, with Dieter von Lehsten and Scott Carlin remaining co-chairs. Jenn Halsey Dupree, a 12th-generation Southampton resident, fruit farmer and co-owner of the Milk Pail, is the only new appointment to the board, replacing Dee Russell.

The majority of the discussion took place after Councilwoman Christine Scalera requested to amend a resolution adopting the annual salaries for elected officials. Ms. Scalera and Councilman Stan Glinka both asked that their salaries be reduced from $62,000 to $60,000, and that the remaining $4,000 be put back into the town’s general fund.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming requested the resolution be tabled in order to give her more time to “understand the implications” of their decision. Ms. Scalera said it was a matter of principle, rather than a political decision.

After much deliberation, discussion and some confusion, the board voted 3-2 to table the resolution until it meets next Tuesday, in order to give Councilwoman Fleming the time she requested.




Bay Street Theater Celebrates The King with Tribute Concert

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Gene Casey

Gene Casey

By Gianna Volpe

If Elvis Presley lives, he’ll be in Sag Harbor this Saturday for a celebration of his 80th birthday that will surely blow any fan of Rock and Roll – “King” or not –  right out of the water.

Two of the East End’s most beloved musical acts will take the stage at Bay Street Theater to pay tribute to a 20th century cultural giant who musician Gene Casey – who tops the bill alongside his Lone Sharks – claims to “think about everyday” in the leading song to his 2012 rockabilly record, “Untrained.”

“It’s not that I’m obsessed – or maybe just a little,” Mr. Casey sings in “I think about Elvis Everyday,” a song he said was borne from “one of those very absurd, funny things you find yourself saying in conversation” but one that is “very true” for the well-known local musician who keeps his Christmas lights lit through January 8 out of reverence for “The King.”

“Elvis is such a cultural icon because of what he did,” said the baritone vocalist. “He wasn’t conscious of it, but there’s something very pure about his original music because of a natural melding of influences that still resonates to today when people are mixing genres and being influenced by world music. Elvis was doing all of that quite naturally back in the ’50s without any kind of grand design. That’s just what he was.”

For Mr. Casey, this weekend’s show is not about paying tribute to a “King of Rock and Roll,” a misnomer the guitarist said is part of  “the ridiculousness and absurdity about Elvis that people latch onto,” distorting the soulful superstar’s grandeur into a caricature of gyrations, glitter and misguided claims that the handsome young Hound Dog himself invented Rock and Roll.

“Elvis never claimed to be the ‘King of Rock and Roll’,” Mr. Casey explained. “He wasn’t trying to be that. He was trying to be an all-around entertainer; that was his ideal. He wasn’t hung up on Rock and Roll. He wanted to be a movie star; he wanted to sing all types of songs. What I actually think, my own personal take on what he actually brought to Pop music, was the notion that a white singer could be sensitive and sensual because before Elvis all the white entertainers just stood there staring straight into the camera holding the microphone. It was forbidden to move your body and the irony was that Elvis really got all that stuff – all those outrageous moves, all those gyrations and the expressiveness in his voice – he got that from Gospel music, which in the South was very, very fiery and very emotional. That’s really what Elvis loved; that’s who his models were as far as Rock and Roll. He wasn’t so much a Blues man, but he listened to Black Gospel very heavily and I think that’s what was really new about him. He was a white singer who was singing with this churchy feel.”
Unlike some of his contemporaries, who misappropriated works by black musicians – Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys was initially credited as the sole composer of his group’s first hit single “Surfin’ USA,” though the tune is actually Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” with different lyrics – Mr. Casey said Mr. Presley always gave credit where it was due.

“A lot of artists don’t have control over what name is put on a record label, but Elvis never had a problem with giving credit to anyone whether the artist was black or white,” Gene Casey said of this weekend’s rock idol of honor. “For a guy born in the Deep South in the ’30s he was pretty progressive. He had a great respect for black musicians. He was never derogatory…he was a sensitive, respectful person and his upbringing was very much about that. His mom really made him a well-mannered young man.”

For Jay Janoski, whose band The Vendettas will also perform at Bay Street’s Saturday night tribute show, it isn’t just Elvis’s “great voice and matchless stage presence” that made an impression on Mr. Janoski as a developing musician.
“His guitar player, Scotty Moore was hugely influential on every guitar player that I and many people my age listened to growing up, whether they are aware of it or not” said Mr. Janoski. “Clapton, Beck and Page – and later Mark Knopfler and countless others – were all fans and students of Scotty Moore’s guitar playing.”

Similar to Gene Casey’s appreciation of Elvis Presley is Mr. Janoski’s appreciation of Scotty Moore as musicians who both eclectically melded established genres while also bringing something entirely new to the table.

“Jazz, country and blues were all elements of his style,” Mr. Janoski said of Mr. Moore. “A record like ‘Hound Dog’ is a really early example of overdriven power chords, well before The Kinks. He also played with a lot of finesse. If the Punk DIY ethos stated, “Anyone can do this,” Maybe Elvis and Scotty Moore said, “You gotta work to get this good.”

Though Elvis himself may not actually be in the building this Saturday – conspiracy theorists will need to wait until 2027 for the unsealing of Mr. Presley’s autopsy report, which was ordered by and sealed by Elvis’s father for 50 years after his son’s death – both Gene Casey & The Lone Sharks and Jay Janoski & The Vendettas will absolutely be at Bay Street Theater this Saturday, Jan. 10, to perform at “Elvis 80: A Tribute to the King,” which begins at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $25 by calling the box office at 725-9500 or visiting www.baystreet.org

East Hampton and Southampton Towns Adopt Plastic Bag Ban

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By Mara Certic

The days of choosing between paper and plastic are officially numbered here on the East End, as the town boards in both East Hampton and Southampton this week voted on Thursday, December 18, to ban single-use plastic bags by Earth Day of 2015.

For the past few months, mayors and supervisors and other elected officials have discussed the possibility of a regional ban on the bags, which are the largest consumer item in the world.

The ban will target the types of plastic bags that are commonly used in grocery and other retail stores. Bags larger than 28 by 36 inches would be exempt from the ban, as would the thin, clear plastic bags used for produce or baked goods.

Recent studies estimate that 105 billion single-use plastic bags are given out in the United States every year, with 23 million of those being distributed in Southampton Town, where very few of them are recycled.

Shopkeepers will be required to offer customers either recyclable paper bags or reusable cloth or plastic bags for their purchases. Those found guilty of continuing to hand out one-use plastic bags after the law takes effect could face a fine of up to $1,000.

The ban will be implemented on Earth Day—April 22, 2015—in order to give business owners an opportunity to use up their current stock of single-use plastic bags, which are much less expensive than their reusable counterparts.

In Southampton, Councilwoman Christine Scalera who spearheaded the town’s education and outreach program on recycling plastic bags, is of the opinion that continuing her efforts would be more effective than a ban.

“With a prohibition you can’t have it both ways, with incentives and education you can,” she said.

“This ban, this prohibition, fails to recognize that environmental responsibility does not have to be dictated to the residents of the Town of Southampton because our residents and businesses have proven to be environmentally responsible without threat of punishment,” she said.

“This prohibition fails to provide greater environmental integrity to this region as we are surrounded by two of the largest towns to our west and north and are a destination stop from all parts of the world, most of which are not under such a prohibition,” Ms. Scalera added.

Councilman Brad Bender, who voted in favor of the ban, said “it really isn’t a bag ban, it’s a bring your own bag.”

“I’ve travelled outside the country,” he added, “and they look at you with three heads if you don’t have your own bag.”

“The fact of the matter is in the United States of America we’re woefully behind on this issue and other similar issues,” said Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who was born in Sweden.

California and Hawaii both implemented statewide bans on plastic bags this year and countries all over the world have either put bans in place, enacted a bag tax or now charge those who continue to use the light plastic bags.

Eritrea, Rwanda and Tanzania are just three African countries that have had similar bans in place for more than five years.

Councilwoman Scalera also expressed concern that the increased use of paper bags will have an equally negative effect on the environment, and that the figures presented to the board pegging the recycling rate for plastic bags at 4 percent was incorrect and unfair.

“I’ve never seen a paper bag stuck in a tree,” Councilman Bender said, adding, “If this gets the plastic bags out of the trees and off the side of the roadways in the community, it keeps them out of the stomachs of our wildlife, of our fish.”

Mr. Bender added he’d love to see the town go even further by one day banning single-use drink containers, too.

“None of us liked it when we were told we had to wear seatbelts,” said Supervisor Throne-Holst, moments before she gave each of her fellow board members small, compact, strong reusable bags.

The measure passed by a 3-2 vote, with Councilman Stan Glinka joining Ms. Scalera in opposition.

In East Hampton, the town board held another public hearing on the proposed ban on Thursday evening. Jay Peltz of the Food Industry Alliance of New York spoke up both at the public hearing on November 20, and when it was reopened last Thursday, December 18.

Like Ms. Scalera, Mr. Peltz suggested that reducing, reusing and recycling and continued outreach would do more to solve the problem.

Following the public hearing, Councilwoman Sylvia Overby introduced a resolution to adopt the law. Councilman Fred Overton said he was not ready to vote due to the new information the board had just got from Mr. Peltz.

Councilwoman Overby said the information was the same the board had previously been given and the board passed the ban 4-to-1, with Mr. Overton offering up the only “no” vote.

Sag Harbor’s Wharf Shop Gears Up for the Holiday Season

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Wharf Shop proprietors Nada Barry and Gwen Waddington with some of their unique Christmas items. Michael Heller photo

Wharf Shop proprietors Nada Barry and Gwen Waddington with some of their unique Christmas items. Michael Heller photo

By Emily Weitz

Nada Barry and Gwen Waddington, the mother and daughter team behind The Wharf Shop in Sag Harbor, have a holiday tradition of their own: manning their toy store until the last gift of Christmas is purchased on Christmas Eve. But these ladies start gearing up for the holiday months in advance. While people are still strolling through the store in flip-flops and cover-ups, the staff of The Wharf Shop is at the trade show in New York City, picking out their selection of gift ideas for the holiday season. And while it’s always a bit of a gamble what’s going to be the next “it” gift, The Wharf Shop rests on a foundation of the tried-and-true toys that have brightened children’s eyes for generations.

They were confident that the Frozen storm that swept the world would still be going strong into the holidays, so The Wharf Shop is stocked with specialty items inspired by the Disney movie. But they also thought the new Paddington movie, which was slotted for a November release, would be a big influence on holiday shoppers. When the release was postponed until January, The Wharf Shop found their shelves a little more crowded with Paddington items than they might have otherwise.

But whatever the trends, Ms. Barry and Ms. Waddington, as well as the store’s longtime staff members, want to ensure they provide shoppers with exactly what they want while at the same time, inspiring parents and shoppers by offering toys that have an educational or creative value.

“We curate our inventory,” said Ms. Waddington. “We try to have inventory that is positively educational, that has value for play.”

Some of the most reliable, inspiring toys are some of the simplest. Christmas crackers, which are foil wrapped cylinders with a toy inside, were a tradition when Ms. Barry was growing up in England.

“I don’t think there’s been a Christmas in my life that I didn’t have Christmas crackers,” she said, “and I bring that tradition with me and pass it down.”

They put together a gift basket that includes only toys that have been inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame. It includes old favorites like the Slinky, the Yo-Yo, and the Frisbee, among other things. Along with the items is a document, written up by Ms. Waddington, that tells the history of each toy.

“The Frisbee,” she explained, “was originally a pie tin from the Frisbee baking company, and college students started throwing them around. That’s how they became a toy, in 1908.”

Tying all of these toys together is a stick, which was inducted into the Hall of Fame as perhaps the most basic and beloved toy of all time.

“The other day,” said Ms. Waddington, “after we put our baskets together, we had kids come in with sticks they had picked up off the street.”

But they are not solely about nostalgia. For all the arguments against plastic and technology in toys, there are also great educational strides that have been taken in the toy industry.

“There are lots of new, innovative toys that have come out,” said Ms. Barry. “A perfect example is this game.”

She brings out “Robot Turtles”, a game that teaches young people how to code. Computer coding is now being taught in school, and this game makes it accessible to even very young children.

The ladies of the Wharf Shop love the holiday season, and not only because it brings a boost to business at the darkest time of year.

“Main Street is so gorgeous and inviting with all the lights and decorations,” said Ms. Waddington with a smile. “And customers are genuinely in a good mood.”

Each year, they pay attention to who the last customer is on Christmas Eve.

“Mom and I close the shop each Christmas Eve around 6 p.m.,” said Ms. Waddington, “and every year we notice who comes in.”

Christmas Eve day feels like a party: they have a buffet for the staff in the back, and even staff members who aren’t working will often stop in to celebrate.

“It’s such a celebration,” said Ms. Barry, “and the atmosphere in the shop is so special.”

What they love about running a small shop in a small village is that they become part of people’s Christmas traditions, and they get to know their customers.

“Every year one customer needs to buy a Christmas mouse,” said Ms. Waddington, “and another always needs a German Christmas ornament. Another woman always picks out ornaments for all her nieces and nephews, and we inscribe them with the names and date. We never want to be an Internet business, because we enjoy interacting with our customers.”

The Wharf Shop is located at 69 Main Street in Sag Harbor and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call (631) 725-0420 or visit wharfshop.com.