Tag Archive | "the Hamptons"

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.



The Hobbit’s Hunks Part I: Orlando Bloom

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By Danny Peary

It’s an amazing statistic.  In its first weekend in theaters nationwide, The Hobbit:The Desolation of Smaug bested the second-place movie at the box-office, Frozen, by a whopping $51 million. Among the theaters that contributed to its $73.6 million gross was the UA Southampton 4, where there have been repeat viewers at both its 3-D and 2-D screenings.  That nearby theater will surely continue do boffo (an industry word!) business through the holidays. There are many reasons that the second part of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein’s marvelous fantasy classic–a prelude to his The Lord of the Rings trilogy–is attracting so many viewers.  One reason that is getting little mention is sex appeal.  Lost’s lovely Evangeline Lilly has been added to male-dominated cast, playing an alluring elf who is not in the book.  And those who look past the nonsexual Bilbo, Gandalf, and Gollum, who are front and center, will notice that several of the male characters, who come in all shapes and sizes, are played by hunks.  Several months ago I was sent by the Australian magazine FilmInk to participate in an international press day with three of them: Lee Pace, who plays Thranduil, the Elvenking; Richard Armitage, who plays Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarves who are on the epic journey to reclaim their fortune and kingdom (which requires they battle the dragon Smaug on the Lonely Mountain); and heartthrob Orlando Bloom, who was so appealing as Thranduil’s elf son Legolas in Jackson’s Rings trilogy that the director inserted the character into his new film although he isn’t in Tolkein’s book.  Next time I’ll post the roundtables with Pace and Armitage.  The following roundtable was with Bloom, who was rehearsing Romeo and Juliet for Broadway at the time. I note my questions.

Q: So you’re back to play Legolas.  Did you expect it or was it a surprise?  Did you jump at it?  Were you hesitant?

Orlando Bloom: It was all of the above. I sat down with Peter Jackson, and my first thought was, “This is great!”  I thought it would be great returning to Peter’s world.  But my next thought was, “How will Legolas feature in the story because, of course, he’s not in the book.  How’s that going to work?”  But Peter had a very clear vision for the elves world and how Legolas’s story would intertwine with the story of Thranduil [Lee Pace], his father.  I also was a little apprehensive that it was treading ground previously tread. But that was only a fleeting thought, because I love the character and I love Peter. And I love New Zealand.  So those are three pretty big boxes to check. Peter gave me my start in life, you know. He plucked me out of drama school, pretty much, and put me on the map. He gave me the opportunity to play a crazy mad cop in Zulu, which I just did in South Africa, which was amazing for me. He also gave me the opportunity to go to Broadway.  In many ways, I’ll always be grateful to him.  So if he said, “Just start jumping in a circle,” I’d say, “How high?” So it was: here we go back to New Zealand for eight months, and we’ll figure out how it’s all going to come together.  It was exciting and wonderful.

Q: Is that how Peter Jackson typically works, expecting things to come together?

OB:  It’s a unique way that Peter makes a film. In his creative process, which involves a lot of preparation, he explores things on the ground and finds more things in the mining and all those things start to move, develop, and grow.

Q: And did things come together with your character to your satisfaction?

OB: Yeah, I had a great time.  I wasn’t entirely sure how my character’s and the elves’ stories were going to play out, but ultimately I’m really happy with what we did.  The elves of Mirkwood are unique. They’re not run-of-the-mill. I think Tolkien said the elves of Mirkwood are less wise, more dangerous. It’s kind of true. I see them as being militant.  Legolas, who is a Mirkwood elf, was always different from the Rivendell elves. He’s got a bit more of an edge.  His father Thranduil has an edge, too.  They’re not messing around. The journey that Legolas goes on in the second and third Hobbit movies leads beautifully to his journey in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. You can see why he would go on the Rings journey and became a member of the Fellowship of the Rings. The writers and the creators of this world, and Peter as a director, really thought that through.  They’ve had one eye on Tolkien and his world and maintained a healthy balance of integrity with that, while taking some creative license to make the story entertaining for a mass audience. I think the second movie is riveting, a really exciting film. If you think of the stories, the three Hobbit movies as one, this is the middle piece that you want to ride to the closing in Part III.  I’m excited to see what this second movie brings.

Q: Has Peter Jackson’s style of directing changed since you last worked together?

OB: No, he’s remarkably the same. Of course the world is bigger–the technology of the world that he’s created down there has advanced at an alarming speed–but in terms of his personal demeanor and character, he’s still very youthful.  Peter’s a wonderful man who has a childlike quality, which I think is what you see in his movies. He’s like a big child; he likes things, he collects things. We get on pretty well because he’s got a funny sense of humor that reminds me of my mates at school. We discussed scenes prior to shooting. For big moments, we would always have good conversations before we shot them. There was always an opportunity to bring up what we wanted to change. At times things developed really nicely through conversation. I went back for reshoots and I did a lot of stuff that played interestingly that had come up in conversation.

Q: Would you say you’re a different actor from when you did the Rings trilogy?

OB: I would hope I’m a different actor from the previous trilogy, which I did years ago. I would say that a lot of what I’m doing in The Hobbit is what’s being provided for me.

Danny Peary: In the trailer, you suddenly appear with a bow and arrow.  Is that Legolas’s entrance into the movie?

OB: How did you know that?

DP: I guessed. I assumed your character would make a grand entrance.

OB: It’s quite a cool entrance with Legolas confronting Thorin with his drawn.  I kind of appear from behind.

Q: Did doing action scenes come back to you easily?

OB: I went back and did some training with the bow and arrow and some movement training, and horse riding. I spent about five weeks doing that. It was great, because it was a refresher and a reminder of what we had done, a great way of getting back into the character. I still have fun with a bow and arrow.

DP: In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, your character reminded me of the supercool, smoothly-moving master swordsman in The Seven Samurai.

OB: Funny you should say that, because that was one of the big influences on the character from the get-go in The Lord of the Rings. I love looking into the movement of elves and how they carry themselves with grace.

DP: Did Peter Jackson ever mention Akira Kurosawa’s film to you?

OB: Yeah, I’m sure he did.  We watched movies all the time and we talked about film, and he provided a really great platform to experience and talk about stuff. I can’t remember talking specifically about Seven Samurai but I know I did watch and I wouldn’t be surprised if that had been on his recommendation.

Q: Legolas has a love interest in this film, Tauriel, played by Evangeline Lilly.

OB: She has the responsibility of being the sole female elf, aside from Galadriel [Cate Blanchett]. Tauriel is kind of a rookie elf. She’s a willful and kind of petulant and does what she chooses to do, which is something Legolas is both excited by and annoyed by on some levels. There’s something rather attractive about that quality that she has. I always thought, wow, if you were an elf and lived for eternity, those feelings you have would be very deep and rich, and not as fleeting as ours.  It’s a very different kind of thing.  I wouldn’t say it’s an elven love story, I’d say it’s an interesting connection between them. There are some complications to it. I think their story along with the father-son dynamic, acted with Lee Pace as Thranduil, plays really well and adds interest to Legolas’s story and the film’s story.

DP: What role does the father-son relationship play in the film?

OB: It helps us see why Legolas goes on to be a part of the Fellowship.  That’s important because in those films you wonder why he would leave his elven world and go on the journey. I think the clever way we play out this father and son story explains a lot about who Legolas is and why he would go off. It’s a struggle. I think the father-son dynamic is for most actors, most men, not too difficult. It doesn’t take the greatest leap of imagination. Having the responsibility of my child now has put a lot of life into perspective –it has been a really wonderful thing–but I’m not sure having a son is necessary to understanding fathers.

Q: As an actor, do you still like taking risks, liking starring in Romeo and Juliet on Broadway?

OB: I feel like I’m taking quite a lot of risks, including playing Romeo on Broadway.  It’s my Broadway debut, and I’ve never played Shakespeare before. Of course I went to drama school but I’ve never actually mounted a production of Shakespeare and doing it in front of a live audience eight shows a week is, I feel, like climbing Mount Everest on my own.  And I’m excited by it.  Anything could happen…which is kind of cool.  I think that taking risks keeps me young and sharp. I think that pressure is what keeps me going. It keeps me hungry and eager to try different things.


Celebrating the Ladies Who Landscape

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By Joan Baum

When Cynthia Zaitzevsky, a historian specializing in architecture and landscape design, agreed to a request some years ago from Robert B. MacKay, the director of the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA), to look into a curious set of findings he and his colleagues had come across about women landscape architects on Long Island, she didn’t imagine how time-consuming but also how rewarding the inquiry would be. Records from 1890-1940 showed that “landscape architecture was one of the first areas in the design field where women really made their mark, and that Long Island had been central to these developments,” with prominent women landscape architects laying out “half of all the gardens.”

Could one reason for this unusual concentration in the golden age of American estates have been the existence then of 1, 931 prominent garden clubs on Long Island, Dr. MacKay wondered. And what kind of women in the late 19th, early 20th century would have entered this field, clearly a male preserve, and why? Of course, an implicit contemporary question would be to ask about the significance of such scholarly findings today, a possible discussion point when Dr. Zaitzevsky, author of the handsome, oversize and generously illustrated Long Island Landscapes And The Women Who Designed Them,” addresses The Meadow Club in Southampton on May 20. Dr. Zaitevsky is also the author of numerous scholarly publications, including the award-winning Frederick Law Olmsted and the Boston Park System (1982).

In a foreward to Long Island Landscapes, which came out in 2009, Dr. McKay notes that he met the author in the `70s when she was in graduate school at Harvard, and was delighted that she agreed to take on the SPLIA project. In the book’s preface, and in interview, Dr. Zaitzevsky says she was challenged trying to locate materials on some of the women where there were no extant archives, and surprised by some findings. She had expected to find commonalities — “no shrinking violets” among the 18 women featured in the book – six first-generation pioneers, 12 second-generation professionals – but she also discovered they were not as a group necessarily wealthy. Devaluation of currency created conditions in some privileged families that prompted educated and determined women to try to make their own way in the world.

Other patterns became discernible (among them, to judge from birth and death dates, longevity). The first-generation women, each given a chapter, are Beatrix Jones Farrand (1872-1959), Martha Brookes Brown Hutcheson (1871-1959), Marian Cruger Coffin (1876-1957), Ellen Biddle Shipman, Ruth Bramley Dean (1889-1932) and Annette Hoyt Flanders (1887-1946). What the women shared was having a male mentor (if this was a family member, even more to the purpose); being born into a life of privilege and therefore having had educational opportunity; and earning a reputation for producing top-quality work, on Long Island and nationally.

The first-generation women had been studied before but not from the perspective of professionals working on Long Island. Dr. Zaitzevsky also wanted to make sure readers would see the women as women, “see their faces, hear their voices,” and so she included portraits of them and relevant quotations from their writings and interviews. As part of her historian’s perspective, which took her well beyond questions of personality and gender, she also spent time looking at where they studied and compared curricula (the program at MIT differed dramatically from course work at University of Illinois at Urbana, for example). She came away from her research convinced, as was Dr. Mackay, that the “almost meteor-like entrance of women into a new profession” and the expanded opportunities to design estates on Long Island, signaled that in the development of landscape architecture, Long Island would become, as indeed it did, “a microcosm of activity for the country.”

Dr. Zaitzevsky teaches at Harvard’s Landscape Institute and continues to explore a favorite subject, American parks, with a special interest in New York State which boasts strong advocacy groups and a healthy infusion of private funding.

Not incidentally, it should be noted that the Long Island planting-plan drawings augmenting the gorgeous photos in the book are themselves works of art, part of an 18th and 19th century tradition of ink, pastel and gouache works on paper that illustrate formal garden designs, decorative arts and engineering commissions of the past.

Dr. Zaitzevsky’s lecture, “Long island Landscapes And The Women Who Designed Them,” takes place Friday, May 20; 11:30 a.m., lunch 12:30 p.m., The Meadow Club is at 555 First Neck Lane, Southampton All proceeds will benefit the Halsey House herb garden. Lecture $35, Lecture and Lunch $75. The event is being hosted by The Southampton Historical Museum. Call 283-2494 for further information.

It May Get Tough To Host A Big Party In Sag Harbor

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Sag Harbor Village officials are considering a special events permit law that would restrict the number of large parties a residence or organization can host each season following a series of concerts planned, and halted, this summer on Glover Street that had neighbors crying foul and police concerned about safety.

On Wednesday, November 12 at 6 p.m. the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing on the proposed law, as well as hearings on three other local laws including whether to designate the Sag Harbor Cinema façade as a landmark. The last two hearings will look at whether the village should allow the Town of Southampton to take over as tax assessing board and whether or not the board should extend a commercial moratorium — currently in place as the village rewrites its zoning code — another six months.

On Monday, Sag Harbor Trustee Tiffany Scarlato explained that in the face of events like a planned Lionel Ritchie concert for 250 people on Glover Street this summer, which the village convinced the owners to move following a number of complaints by neighbors, the village realized it needed a mechanism by which to regulate these large-scale events. 

“It was of grave concern to the neighbors, the police and the village board,” said Scarlato of the event, which was scheduled during Fourth of July weekend fireworks when village police already have their hands full overseeing the safety of the throngs of people who descend on Sag Harbor for the celebration. “We realized we have little to no control over events people hold on their residential properties, no matter how big they are.”

Scarlato said she understood that Sag Harbor is a place where people want to throw parties and host events, but that this law would enable village officials to have a little more notice on some of the larger of these festivities.

The draft law defines a special event broadly, as “any social occasion or activity whether occurring on public or private property, having more than 75 persons in attendance.” Special events are events that are public or private, free or for a price. A permit will be required for any walk, run or bike event, or any event that requires a road closure for that matter. Events that are open to the public, no more than 90 minutes long, occur before 7:30 p.m. and have no more than 150 people expected to attend are exempt from the law.

Permits will be required for all other special events, and an application for the permit needs to be filed 60 days prior to the event.

Only one special event permit will be issued per calendar year for parcels in a residential zoning district, according to the draft law, with parcels in all other zoning districts limited to three per calendar year, only one of which can be held at night. Properties owned by not-for-profits or charitable organizations can hold as many as six per year.

The board may grant an exemption for the number of events held per year, according to the proposed law.

The board has a right to decide whether or not to grant a permit depending on the size of the property in relation to how many guests are expected, traffic controls in place, the potential impact on neighbors, whether the event conflicts with other events and if there are outstanding violations on the property.

Prohibited and restricted events will include those that are largely for profit or if the purpose is to advertise a product with the exception of the sale of local produce, baked goods and food products. Craft fairs, flea markets and similar events are prohibited unless the event is taking place on a parcel owned by a municipality, charitable organization or not-for-profit, as are events on parcels that have buildings without a valid certificate of occupancy. Carnival rides are also prohibited on residential lots.

People who decide to hold their event without a permit may be subject to a $2000 fine for the first offense, and as much as $10,000 for the second offense, as well as a year in jail.

 “This is the unfortunate result of living in non-neighborly neighborhoods these days,” said Scarlato. “In the past we really felt like we could depend on people doing the right thing. I think this is an unfortunate reality the village has to deal with.”

Sag Harbor Cinema

At the request of the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board, the village board of trustees will also hold a public hearing on Wednesday to decide whether to designate the Sag Harbor Cinema façade as a historic landmark. The cinema is already in the historic district, meaning any owner must already approach the ARB with any changes it plans on making to the façade of the building.

In August, after word spread the cinema’s owner, Gerald Mallow, had placed the Main Street landmark on the market for $12 million, the ARB asked the board of trustees to consider this designation to protect the building’s exterior, and in particular its neon sign.


The board will also consider a local law on whether to transfer the assessment duties of the village over to the town. Sag Harbor already contracts with the Town of Southampton for assessment services, although the board of trustees still serves as the village assessment board, hearing out resident’s concerns about their village property values and taxes in February on Grievance Day. If the trustees opted to eliminate itself as the assessment board, village residents on the Southampton side would only have to grieve both their town and village taxes at one location and at one time – in May and in Hampton Bays – instead of twice.

Lastly, the board will consider whether to extend a commercial moratorium on site plan review and change of use applications by six months. The board enacted the commercial moratorium in June of 2007 as it began work on revamping a 20-year-old zoning code. The moratorium has been extended several times since, although on Monday, Scarlato said she hopes this is the last extension the board will need before it adopts the proposed code. 

“I don’t foresee any reason why we should continue on past a six-month period,” she said.