Tag Archive | "Westhampton"

Tensions Soar at East Hampton Airport Hearing as Critics and Supporters Air Their Views

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Heller_EH Town Board Airport Hearing @ LTV 3-12-15_7268_LR

Andy Sabin warned the board that adopting the four proposed regulations would hurt the local economy. Photography by Michael Heller. 

By Mara Certic

Since proposed flight restrictions at East Hampton Airport were unveiled last month, many members of the local aviation community have argued the laws will surely result in increased taxes and the eventual closure of the airport.

According to some, the four restrictions the town board is considering would not only have repercussions on local aviators, but will also have a devastating domino effect on the local economy and would result in large swathes of summer visitors and second homeowners picking up shop and relocating to towns and villages that are friendlier to air traffic.

“We are a resort community dependent on seasonal traffic, and that can’t be ignored. Facilitating access to the Hamptons is what feeds our economy,” said local pilot and hangar-owner Rod Davidson at a hearing on the proposals on Thursday, March12.

“The proposed restrictions on aircraft traffic are a death sentence not only to the airport but to hundreds of jobs and countless businesses. I find it baffling that the town board continues to place the agenda of a handful of people above preserving one of its most important economic assets,” he said.

Several of those who attended the hearing to speak out in opposition of the proposed regulations were employed by Sound Aircraft Services, the 25-year-old business that provides fueling and ground services at the airport. Maureen Quigley, a 22-year-employee of Sound Aircraft, was adamant that the airport would not be able to survive a trial run of what she described were “egregious” restrictions.

“To some extent, any change in the airport affects the working people more than any other group in the town,” said Mitchell Moss from the New York University  Center for Transportation, because the working people work for many airport-users, he said.

Ms. Quigley added that the restrictions are in effect condemning her clients “for being rich and privileged.”

While those who complain about noise have for years asked the town board to consider their needs over the wealthy 1 percent who frequently use the airport, airport supporters tried to turn the tables when they said that the number of people who are actually affected by noise is actually just a small, but vocal, minority, compared to the number of people who benefit from the airport.

Local pilot Bruno Schreck had several large visual aids made for the hearing, and when his presentation was cut short because of a 3-minute limit on comments, he returned before the town board at its work session on Tuesday, March 17, to finish his presentation.

Mr. Schreck believes that the public has been misled by the presentation of complaint data in previous noise analyses prepared for the town. Mr. Schreck maintained that the town’s use of a logarithmic scale distorted the facts, and made it look as though more households had complained, when in fact, 10 houses represent one half of all complaints.

Mr. Schreck prepared one graph, which was intended to visually show the reward and risks of the airport. Mr. Schreck concluded that the rewards outweighs the risks, with the airport enabling 8,666 people to enjoy summertime on the East End and only ruining the summers of 200 local residents who are “frequent complainers.” Mr. Schreck’s figures are based on the assumption that there were approximately four passengers served in each of the 26,000 operations at the East Hampton Airport last year; he then divided 104,000 by 12, assuming that each of the passengers came to the East End for all 12 of the summer weekends.

Mr. Schreck also warned that if the airport is in fact shut down, planes will continue to travel overhead and disrupt residents as city-dwellers will still jet over the East End to second homes in Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod, but will no longer contribute money to the local economy.

Amagansett resident Andrew Sabin said he moved to the area 24 years ago, and the airport was one of the big draws. Airport users pay a huge chunk of local taxes, Mr. Sabin said, and he, like many aviators, warned the town that these restrictions would likely result in lengthy litigation. The town has already earmarked $3 million for airport-related litigation.

“Wouldn’t this money be better spent helping charities in this town?” he asked. Mr. Sabin’s son Jonathan also warned the town board that restrictions would only succeed in enraging helicopter users and said that if the airport users got together and agreed not to pay their property taxes “the town would be broke over night.”

“I know quite a few of the helicopter users at the airport. I can tell you right now that each and every one of them could afford a yacht, with a helipad, and would gladly park their yacht right out on the water here and land right on the yachts,” he said. “It’s dangerous to enrage that demographic.”

And on the other side of the aisle…

For East End residents craving quieter skies, four proposed flight restrictions at East Hampton Airport are like the light at the end of 20-year-old tunnel.

Heller_EH Town Board Airport Hearing @ LTV 3-12-15_7185_LR

North Haven Village Trustee Dianne Skilbred asked the town to put in place all four of the regulations.

Now that restrictions are finally in sight, supporters spent their allotted individual 3 minutes of public comment at a hearing on the proposals at LTV Studios in Wainscott on Thursday, March 12, thanking the town board for its hard work and transparency and asking it to “hold fast” with the proposed legislation.

In addition to environmentalists and residents, elected officials from four East End towns and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski commended the members of the board for the courage they have shown in what has been described in acting for the greater good in what has become a regional issue.

Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming urged the town to continue with its airport diversion study, which seeks to find out where flights barred from East Hampton would ultimately end up. As the town’s liaison for both Noyac and Sag Harbor, she assured the town board “that there are many, many people in the community whose quality life is impacted” by aircraft noise.

“We thank you for your courage,” wrote Vincent Cavello in a letter to the town board read by Kathleen Cunningham of the Quiet Skies Coalition. “It is a sad truth that East Hampton is becoming a poster child for inequality in this country.”

While the Friends of the East Hampton Airport Coalition, a group made up of several New Jersey-based aviation businesses, and other entities have filed suit against the town, Mr. Cavello’s letter said the board “responded to these and other lawsuits without breaking stride, knowing that the law is on the side of those who own the airport—the citizens of East Hampton—not those who exploit the airport and the town for their own economic gain.”

David Gruber, who has been an airport opponent for decades, said that the rumors that the proposed laws would make the airport financially unviable were “theatrical nonsense.” He also referred to a group of pilots filing suits against the town who call themselves the friends of the East Hampton Airport as “the self-serving operators from far away.”

Mr. Gruber serves on the town’s airport budget and finance advisory committee), which has been so far unable to come to a consensus about the economic impacts on the airport if the proposed rules are implemented. Members of the aviation community have said this inability to reach a consensus shows that the proposed restrictions are discriminatory and extreme. Those who complain about the noise had a different take.

“The airport can easily support itself without any need of FAA grants or taxpayer subsidies. Its income of more than $1 million a year is more than enough for all of its capital budget and other needs,” Mr. Gruber said.

He conceded the town would have to find ways to replace landing and fuel revenue if the town adopted the restrictions.

“A 50-percent landing fee increase would almost surely suffice. It sounds like a lot only because landing fees have been kept artificially low for years by FAA subsidies. The landing fee for a small aircraft would increase to $16.50—less than parking at Main Beach,” he said.

“The additional $330 for a $36 million Gulf Stream 5 that costs $7,500 an hour to operate would also be the cost of three minutes of flight time. This relationship that the fee increase equals about three minutes of flight time holds true across the board. It is a trivial amount,” he added.

Tensions rose on Thursday night when Wainscott resident Irving Paler began naming those who have logged the most complaints against the East Hampton Airport, asking them “Where do you find the time?”

Not only did those supporting the regulations begin applauding the top-complainers, but East Hampton resident Paul Keeber took it upon himself to respond to Mr. Paler’s question.

“I’m sitting with my beautiful wife, at our beautiful home on the back deck. Suddenly the overwhelming noise from a helicopter’s blade forces me to stop speaking to my wife. At that moment we pick up the phone right next to us and call the complaint line. Eight minutes later, a helicopter blade overhead forces me to stop speaking to my wife and I pick up the phone and I call the complaint line. And then 14 minutes later a helicopter blade overhead forces me to stop speaking to my wife so we call the complaint line,” he explained.

Many supporters of the legislation likened the regulations to any other laws that aim to conserve and preserve. “These resolutions embody a time-honored tradition of policy for the greater good, to help industry bring its standards up to community values,” Ms. Cunningham said on Thursday. “We are not asking people not to come here, we’re asking them to come quietly,” she added.

In response to claims that many people come to East Hampton simply because they can fly here in helicopters in less than an hour, Sag Harbor’s Patricia Currie responded “such people are mythical beasts, they’re unicorns, they don’t exist.”

Ms. Currie reminded the room that visitors have been making the long trip to the East End since the horse and buggy.

“If there are people who won’t live here without helicopters, they will be replaced by others who will,” Ms. Currie added.

“We need helicopters like Shelter Island needs a bridge and Montauk needs high speed ferry service to Connecticut casinos. Please pass the restrictions,” she said. “We will survive.”

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.

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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.

East End Hospice Groundbreaking

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East End Hospice will celebrate the groundbreaking for its new inpatient facility in Quiogue on Friday, July 25, at 11 a.m. at 1 Meeting House Road in Westhampton.

The new facility will enhance and broaden the scope of East End Hospice’s existing services, offering a homelike setting for patients to spend their last days.

The space allows hospice professionals and trained volunteers to provide 24-hour acute care, as well as social, emotional and spiritual support for patients and their families.

Eight private rooms will be equipped to manage the complex needs of the critically ill while providing comfortable accommodations for patients and family. It includes a spa room with a soaking tub and a consultation room for intimate gatherings, along with common areas, including a sunroom, library, and gardens for use by family and visitors.

The building has been designed by Roger Ferris + Partners, an architectural firm known not only for its architecture but for its interior design and master planning services for the private and public sectors. The firm has won over 40 regional and national awards and international citations, and is recognized as a world leader in both commercial and residential architecture.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band Brings “The Planet’s Happiest Music” to Westhampton Beach

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The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Photo by Shannon Brinkman.

By Tessa Raebeck

The sound of New Orleans is coming to Westhampton Beach this Friday, as the famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band brings their celebrated jazz music to the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.

Sharing what they call “the planet’s happiest music,” the Preservation Hall Jazz Band was formed in 1961 to bring traditional New Orleans jazz music to a wider audience. A multi-generational ensemble of musicians joins together to share the heritage of jazz in a performance that will leave both novice listeners and die-hard jazz fans smiling, dancing and full of energy.

Coming off the recent release of their latest album, “That’s It,” directed by Ben Jaffe, the group is bringing a new spark to its timeless sound. The East End is ready for a taste of the Big Easy, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band promises to deliver it with their signature funky style.

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band will be at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center Friday, May 9 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $75 to $95 and are available online at whbpac.org.

Injustice as Inspiration: Max Gomez at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center

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Singer-songwriter Max Gomez.

Singer-songwriter Max Gomez. Courtesy of New West Records.

By Tessa Raebeck

From pop charts to dive bars, love songs are rampant. A universal topic, love makes it easy for artists to connect with audiences, but singer-songwriter Max Gomez takes a different path.

“I hate to say this old song-writing cliché, but a little bit of heartbreak will turn you into a songwriter real quick,” explained Mr. Gomez, who will perform at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center on Saturday, March 29.

That heartbreak stems from more than lost love. Mr. Gomez draws inspiration from any form of injustice, from restless girlfriends and the hold of addiction to the misuse of power and widespread violence. His music is soulful and gritty at the same time, balancing mellow rock instrumentation with blues, country and folk influences.

Growing up with four older brothers in the remote hamlet of Taos, the most northern of the New Mexico pueblos, Mr. Gomez first learned about music on an old player piano his family had.

“We used to have a closet full of scrolls and we would get our different scrolls and pump the pedals and the piano would start playing,” he said. “It was just kind of a fun thing to do. I always was into any kind of music, really…I played music ever since I was a little kid.”

When Mr. Gomez was 9, his older brother got a guitar. He quickly usurped control over it, playing it constantly.

“Eventually, I got my own and I’ve never really put it down,” he said. “And now, it’s gotten way out of control.”

At just 15, Mr. Gomez was offered a job to play regularly at “kind of a honky-tonk bar and restaurant” that typically hosted country artists. “It was kind of an unusual thing for a 15-year-old,” he said. “I got a little job playing when I was that age and over the years, I just kind of continued to work at it and study different kind of music and I got different influences.”

Originally listening to and playing only the blues, working at the country venue introduced Mr. Gomez to traveling singer-songwriters and new influences, including writers who worked with John Prine, today a major influence of his, and Mentor Williams, who wrote Dobie Gray’s biggest hit, “Drift Away,” in 1973. The experience helped Mr. Gomez establish himself as a singer-songwriter with diverse influences rather than solely doing a “blues or country kind of thing.”

“The blues has been a major influence, the old recordings of Robert Johnson, which I think kind of started American music in the way that we know it, even today,” he said of the Mississippi Delta blues master, who died in the 1930’s at age 27 after finding little commercial success.

Big Bill Broonzy is another blues influence, “and then in the folk world, I’m big on John Prine, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt…to me that music really never gets old, I listen to it a lot.”

With a piano, a mandolin and a banjo at home, Mr. Gomez continues to “dabble on this and that,” but his focus has always been the guitar. Although he remains rooted in blues and folk, the constant in Mr. Gomez’s music is not a melody or an instrument, but thoughtful, intent songwriting.

“Rule the World,” Mr. Gomez’s debut album, was released in January 2013 by New West Records, which represents eclectic artists like The Devil Makes Three, The Replacements, Drive-By Truckers and Steve Earle. Jeff Trott, who has worked with Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow, produced the 10-song album.

The album’s first single, “Run From You,” was co-written by Mr. Gomez and Mr. Trott. It begins:

“I was walking around with my old friend, where the pavement ends and the trouble began, it’s true, that’s where I ran into you. White blossoms in raven hair, got a funny feeling and a dead man’s stare, wishing I knew, I should have run from you.”

The “anti-love” lyrics are supported by the heartbreak evident in Mr. Gomez’s relaxing melodies and mellow, crooning vocals. He often co-writes songs, drawing influence from talented friends like singer-songwriter Shawn Mullins, best known for the 1998 hit single “Lullaby.”

“We get together and we just kind of start playing and find something that we like the sound of musically, and then we start writing a little story to it,” he said of collaboration.

“But when I write by myself,” continued Mr. Gomez, “I tend to only write when I feel really strongly about something and it just can come out in a fell swoop and you just make a little music to go with it, which is kind of different.”

That’s where the injustice comes in as inspiration.

“I was writing a lot of real love songs—specifically for somebody, in a certain sense—and when that whole thing didn’t really pan out, I started writing the other kind of love song, which is the anti-love song.”

“Run From You” is a story about meeting someone and later wishing you hadn’t, a feeling to which most who have endured a difficult romance can likely relate. A specific experience prompted the song, yet Mr. Gomez keeps the lyrics broad for others to decode, so the audience’s interpretation can still be open-ended and every story can also belong to the listener.

“Sometimes you write very literally and you just kind of write a story,” he said, “but I often try to keep the story buried inside, so that it’s not really that specific or literal and it’s something that can be interpreted into the way you feel, rather than a certain, exact thing. I think that’s a good key in songwriting, to not tell the listener exactly what is going on, but to let them make that decision themselves.”

For Mr. Gomez, performance is an extension of that creative process. He tries to play at least one brand new song at every show, to see how the crowd reacts to it and gauge how it can be improved. The audience is crucial to his craft; a draft cannot be complete until the song is tested live, he said.

Despite his anti-love tendencies, Mr. Gomez remains a romantic at heart: In “Love Will Find a Way,” he writes, “Take a good look around, you’ve got both feet on the ground. Kiss the pain, and taste the truth, while you hang onto your youth. You can fly far away and dream of yesterday, and pray, pray that love’s gonna find a way.”

Max Gomez will perform Saturday, March 29, as part of the Breakout Artist Series, in partnership with WEHM 92.9 and 96.9 FM at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. For tickets, call the box office at 288-1500 or visit here.

Holiday Show Brings Newcomers and Returning Artists to Grenning Gallery

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"Antique Grasshopper Weathervane" by Sarah Lamb, 2011

“Antique Grasshopper Weathervane” by Sarah Lamb, 2011

By Tessa Raebeck

Some 20 years ago, Maryann Lucas brought her two young toddlers to visit Laura Grenning at the Grenning Gallery, then located next to the Corner Bar on Sag Harbor’s Main Street.

“I’ll never forget,” said Lucas, flanked by materials and colorful oil paintings in her new studio behind the Romany Kramoris Gallery in the Carruthers Alleyway off Main Street. “When I walked into her gallery for the first time and thought, ‘Some day.’”

Over two decades later, ‘some day’ has arrived; Lucas will join seven other artists in the Holiday Show at the Grenning Gallery this Saturday. Celebrating the gallery’s most successful year since its 1997 opening, the Holiday Show features a range of carefully selected artists, coming from as far away as Sweden and as close by as Lucas’ studio. While Lucas is showing her work for the first time, headliner Sarah Lamb is returning to the gallery after years of success.

Grenning gave Lamb her first show in 1998, when the artist was in her early 20s. After showing with Grenning for a little over two years, Lamb entered into an exclusive deal with the Spanierman Gallery in New York City. The Spanierman Gallery, which is still open today and continues to show Lamb’s work, no longer has an exclusive deal with the artist, allowing her to show with Grenning once more.

“I’ve been calling her every six months for five or six years now,” Grenning said Monday. “I have clients that want her work.”

After years of waiting, Grenning is excited to exhibit ten new works by Lamb in the Holiday Show.

“What she’s doing is she does these amazing still lives,” said the gallerist. “She’s very prolific. The thing she spends most of the time on is setting them up and deciding the composition. She’s got an excellent eye for design.”

Lamb puts more time into designing her work through the composition than she does with the actual execution, which Grenning says usually takes just a day or two.

“The irony of the classical realist movement,” says Grenning, “is the classical realists paint but they don’t extract themselves to remember why they’re painting and what they’re painting. They don’t think of the composition too much – the abstract design of the painting.”

Since the early days of the gallery, when Lamb was a recent art school graduate looking for a break, she has grown tremendously as an artist. In her first show at Grenning, her works sold for $6,000 tops. This weekend, they will sell for up to $25,000.

"Wherelwork" by

“Wherelwork” by Joe Altwer, 2013

As evidenced by the Holiday Show line-up, Grenning excels at finding and mentoring new artists. She found Joe Altwer when he was an assistant to Mark Dalessio, one of her gallery’s featured artists.

“He actually came to his first opening here on a skateboard,” she recalls of the young Altwer, adding that his paintings in the show are “very beautiful, very well done, very bright light…It’s all about the light reflecting around the room, it’s not so much about describing the objects in the room.”

"River View" by Daniel Graves

“River View” by Daniel Graves, 2013

In the Holiday Show, Daniel Graves will exhibit four new landscapes “inspired by the most lyrical and relaxed tonalists.” Work by Michael Kotasek, who has been likened to the prominent realist painter Andrew Wyeth but is, according to Grenning, “a lot more refined as a painter,” will also be displayed.

The show will feature a “very beautiful” piece of a glass of beer and a musical instrument by Kevin McEvoy, paintings of farmhouses at twilight and a moonrise by Kevin Sanders and an original nocturne of Sag Harbor by Greg Horwich.

And then, of course, there’s Lucas.

“I didn’t realize all the times I was talking with her that she was an avid artist,” said Grenning. As Lucas’s talent developed, she began bringing her oil paintings to the gallery for Grenning to critique.

“I find when Laura critiques my work,” said Lucas. “I really come away with clarity of how to make it better and at the same time, she makes you feel really good about what’s right – she’s a wonderful mentor.”

"Duck Walk" by Maryann Lucas, 2013

“Duck Walk” by Maryann Lucas, 2013

“I, for whatever reason, tell people exactly what I think of their paintings,” said Grenning. “Unless you’re really open to a serious critique it can be unpleasant. She took every observation that I had and responded like an unbelievable student. She had talent but she kind of reorganized herself aesthetically. It’s kind of exciting and apparently this is a longtime goal for her.”

Apparently. After bringing her work to Grenning last spring, Lucas made some changes, landing herself a spot in the Holiday Show, her first exhibit.

“I used to say to my daughters, we would say, ‘Do you think this painting is Grenning worthy’,” said Lucas. “Being in her gallery, this is my first – I guess it’s like a wish list…I’m thrilled and excited for the opportunity.”

The opening reception for the Holiday Show will be held at the Grenning Gallery, 17 Washington Street, on Saturday, November 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more information, call 725-8469 or visit Grenning Gallery.

Water’s Edge Radio Hour Celebrates Local Voices of the East End

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.web Waters Edge Radio Hour @ Wolffer 11-9-13_1804

By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

Without lighting effects, set design or elaborate costumes, the audience is transported in time and setting, traveling from the waiting room of a modern day doctor’s office to the whaling docks of 1840’s Sag Harbor in a matter of minutes.

“Language is the most powerful thing we have,” says Josh Perl, co-creator of Water’s Edge Radio Hour, a new variety show on WPPB, 88.3 FM. “Good writing is compelling. We can transport people there with just a few words or sound effects and their imagination follows the rest of it.”

Along with partners John Landes and Peter Zablotsky, Perl proudly unveiled his newest project in the tasting room at Wölffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack last Saturday.

A locally based radio show a la “A Prairie Home Companion,” Water’s Edge promises to capture the unique character of the East End without catering solely to visitors. The hour-long program includes three short plays, three essays, and two full songs, as well as musical interludes. It will be performed before a live audience and recorded for broadcast on WPPB.

Inspired by his own love of radio, Landes came up with the idea for an East End variety show and quickly enlisted the expertise of Zablotsky and Perl, partners in the Naked Stage Theatre Company and HITfest, the Hamptons Independent Theatre Festival. Perl and Zablotsky added theater connections and experience to Landes’ vision. Also contributing acting chops, Perl hosts the show.

While many local artists wait to unveil their projects until the crowded summer months, Landes felt the winter was the perfect time for Water’s Edge to begin regular broadcasting.

“It occurred to me that the Hamptons – the North and the South Fork – in a lot of ways are perfect for a show like this because we have kind of a captive audience in the winter time,” said Landes. “Those of us who live out here year round and love living out here year round, we know each other in the community and there’s so many good, talented people out here – writers, actors and people who love it out here and want to get the message out to others about what it’s like out here.”

In April, Water’s Edge presented a pilot run at Guild Hall. The story centered on the conflict between a well-known group of locals and some unwelcome outsiders, represented by surprisingly talkative deer ticks and bed bugs.

Following positive feedback on the pilot, Landes, Perl and Zablotsky moved forward, crafting enough material for four shows and continuously working on more. The environment could switch from a whaling ship to a corn maze instantly; it is entirely dependent on sound effects made by the actors. In one scene, two dads sit in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, supported by sounds of a receptionist, baby noises, and Velcro ripping.

“The nice thing about radio is you can do anything,” says Perl. “Our tagline is where anything can happen – and it usually does. We’re able to transport people to the Sag Harbor waterfront in 1840 where Herman Melville is seeking work on a whaling ship.”

Although they range in time period and location, all sketches have one common thread: humor.

“He just happens to have a Jewish mother who’s very worried about him being in a boat with 100 men. His mother errs on the side of a little bit over protective, she wants him to be a butcher like his older brother,” Perl says of Herman Melville.

The creators are hopeful this is the start of a long running variety show with locally written pieces and locally based characters, ranging from celebrities to surfers to fishermen. Water’s Edge strives to go beyond the public’s perception of “The Hamptons” and deliver a compelling and authentic narrative that includes the year round community. Composed entirely of original work, the program is wholly inclusive; the creators are consistently looking for new local writers to contribute editorials and plays. According to Perl, although the plays use “Hamptons kinds of archetypes,” the stories are universal. In one scene, a wealthy older couple searching for entertainment during a fall visit find themselves slightly out of place in a corn maze.

“When a friend tells you a story about people you don’t know, if they’re a good storyteller, you’re right there in the moment with them,” he said. While the stage actor acknowledges that costumes and set design add to certain productions, he said that without those elements, radio allows for the text to truly triumph.

To complement the stories, Hopefully Forgiven, comprised of musicians Brad Penuel and Telly Karoussos, will perform several times during the show.

Water’s Edge Radio Show celebrates the East End community in a way “the Hamptons” are not always celebrated – from a local perspective – and it does so with good humor.

“It’s kind of funny,” says Perl of the variety show. “It’s not kind of funny, it’s actually very funny.”

Upcoming live broadcasts of Water’s Edge Radio Hour will take place on November 23 and December 14 at 7 p.m. at the Wölffer Estate Winery Tasting Room, 139 Sagg Road in Sagaponack.

Eighth Annual Black Film Festival Explores Roots

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Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild which will screen at the Eighth Annual Black Film Festival this weekend. 

By Tessa Raebeck

On screen, he played the evil overseer who raped her character, the helpless slave. Off screen, they were dating.

“Imagine how hard it was,” said Tina Andrews, recalling her experience playing Aurelia in the hit 1977 mini-series “Roots.” Along with director John Erman, Andrews will discuss the groundbreaking television series at Southampton’s 8th Annual Black Film Festival Thursday.

Started in 2006 by the newly formed African American Museum of the East End in order to get the organization’s name out there, the festival has grown from a one-day event to a four-day experience. This year’s line-up features live jazz, spoken word poetry and panel discussions, not to mention an array of diverse, thought-provoking films. The featured filmmakers range from renowned documentarian Ken Burns to Kareema Bee, a 2013 scholarship recipient at Stony Brook Southampton.

“Opening night, we generally have a screening and panel discussion on a really important topic that needs to be shared,” explained Brenda Simmons, a co-founder of the museum and festival organizer.

The festival begins Thursday with a screening of “Central Park Five,” a 2012 documentary by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon. The award-winning film covers the background, investigation and aftermath of the Central Park jogger case, a notorious crime that made waves in 1989 when five Latino and African American male teenagers were arrested for the rape of a white woman in Central Park. They were proven innocent when a convicted rapist and murderer confessed to the crime 13 years later. Following the screening, a panel discussion will include Yusef Salaam, one of the Central Park Five, and four experts in related fields.

On Friday, Charles Certain and Certain Moves, the museum’s “house band,” will perform “jazz, rock, funk and R&B with everything in between — all with a smooth jazz twist.”

Local up-and-coming jazz singer Sheree Elder will also perform Friday evening, along with guest poets who will present spoken word poetry in a café type setting.

“We like to promote people who are starting out, give them a chance,” said Simmons. “Especially local people.”

Another young artist the festival is excited to feature is Kareema Bee, the 2013 scholarship recipient for the 20/20/20 film program at Stony Brook Southampton. On Saturday, Bee will screen “Tug O War,” a short film she wrote, directed and edited.

Also on Saturday, the festival will feature “Beat the Drum,” a family film.

“You have to understand how to deal with diverse, controversial issues,” said Simmons. “It’s a great film for young people.”

Nominated for four Academy Awards, including a nomination for Quvenzhané Wallis, the youngest Best Actress nominee in history, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” will screen Saturday.

Closing out the day Saturday is “I Am Slave,” a film based on the actual experience of Mende Nazer, a Sudanese girl who was abducted at age 12 and sold into slavery.

“It’s a thriller, but it’s a powerful, powerful movie,” said Simmons.

Academy Award-winning director — and longtime East Hampton resident — Nigel Noble will present two films Sunday, “Voices of Sarafina!” and “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall.”

“It’s very serious, but it’s very light,” said Simmons of “Voices of Sarafina!” Noble’s  documentary based on the 1987 Broadway musical. “The singing and the dancing in this film is extraordinary.”

In its world premiere Sunday, “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall” is sure to move audiences. Drawn from footage shot over a six-month period in Iowa State Penitentiary, it is one of eight documentary short films that will compete in the 86th Academy Awards in 2014.

“I can’t even tell you how awesome it was to see that movie,” said Simmons. “It made me cry, it made me think; it is such a dynamic documentary.”

In addition to exciting newcomers, the festival will feature the Emmy award-winning second episode of the “Roots” first season. The Q&A with Erman and Andrews follows, during which Andrews will explain the emotional experience of playing a slave.

“We’re going to do it in a very interesting way,” said Andrews of the Q&A. “It’s going to be from both a black and white perspective…[It was] a very unique perspective for us because it conjured up the ghosts of all of our ancestors.”

Prior to “Roots,” the complete story of those ancestors, from being taken from Africa through the Middle Passage and onto plantations and being sold into slavery, was never told, said Andrews, who splits her time between Manhattan and the North Fork.

According to Andrews, the actors on the show — black and white — faced immense difficulty in coping with the emotions brought on by playing both the oppressed and the oppressors.

“Most of us who were black actors on that show who were playing slaves, we would drive up in our Mercedes and we had our homes in the hills and we had our fabulous lifestyle and then we had to go in and don these rags,” she recalled. “The actors who were playing plantation owners or slave owners, they had a hard time playing those characters, a hard time using those words.”

“It was one experience that I will never forget, it is why I am a writer today,” said Andrews, who wrote the critically acclaimed CBS mini-series, “Sally Hemings.” “It was just the hardest thing for these actors, to go from joking around with us, going out later and having a drink with us, then they’d have to put on these characters and play these roles to you — who they’re looking at and saying the ‘N word’ or beating you or stripping you naked — that’s a hard thing to ask an actor to do. The ancestors showed us who we had to be.”

The 8th Annual Black Film Festival will be shown on November 7, 8, 9 and 10. For tickets and more information, call (631) 873-7362 or email info@aamee.org

East Hampton Man Charged in Federal Child Pornography Case

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By Tessa Raebeck

Michael S. Bonnet of East Hampton was arrested last Wednesday afternoon on charges that he transported child pornography, according to federal officials.

A registered sex offender, Bonnet, 28, is being held without bail in federal court in Central Islip, after being arraigned around 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 30 said Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen Bode. He is being charged with one complaint of transporting child pornography for interstate commerce, or distribution, according to Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Under the alias “Bob Jones,” the defendant knowingly sent numerous images depicting child pornography to an undercover FBI agent in February 2013, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court on Tuesday. Public defender Randi Chavis, who is representing Bonnet in the case, declined to comment.

Bonnet, of Cosdrew Lane in East Hampton, is currently on probation with the Suffolk County Office of Probation after being convicted of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl in 2008, states the complaint. While Bode did not have the exact location of the 2008 incident, he said it did occur in New York State.

According to the complaint, the defendant responded to an advertisement seeking to “trade” images of child pornography which was posted by an undercover FBI officer on a “Human Sexuality forum” website. Using an email address that includes the first initial of his first name and his full last name, Bonnet responded to the undercover advertisement on February 24, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that Bonnet, using the name “Bob Jones,” and the undercover agent exchanged several emails that day. In one email, according to the complaint, Bonnet wrote to the undercover agent, “Just hoping your [sic] not a cop or anything don’t need trouble.” On February 24, “Bob Jones” sent the undercover agent a pornographic image of a prepubescent female, the complaint states.

The advertisement posted by the undercover FBI agent said, “send to receive,” according to the complaint. In response to the pornographic image allegedly sent by Bonnet, the undercover agent sent a corrupted video to “Bob Jones” with a title alluding that the file contained child pornography, states the complaint. Using an online program that is available to the general public, the FBI identified the IP address, a unique number that identifies a computer or device using the Internet, being used by “Bob Jones” when the file was opened by the recipient, said the complaint.

The complaint states the agent then determined that the IP address was associated with a cellular phone. During the conversation between “Bob Jones” and the undercover agent, the defendant allegedly said he used a cellular phone so the IP address could not be linked to a particular device, the complaint states. “Bob Jones” sent the undercover agent two more pornographic images of underage females, states the complaint.

According to the complaint, the undercover agent located additional postings under the name “great times” by a user using the same email address on a different forum, each time with the location of East Hampton, New York. Using the letters in the defendant’s alleged email address, the undercover agent then searched for subjects with the last name “Bonnet” and the first initial “M” in East Hampton, according to the complaint.

The complaint states that the search provided the undercover agent with one name, Michael S. Bonnet of Cosdrew Lane, East Hampton. An additional search revealed that the defendant was a registered sex offender located at the same address, according to the complaint.

On or about October 24, the defendant was interviewed at his probation office after being advised of and waiving his Miranda rights, the complaint states. According to the complaint, the defendant stated that he had sent the images of child pornography to the undercover agent in February 2013, that he traded and received child pornography with others via the same website and that he had approximately 100 pornographic images of children on his cellphone.

According to the complaint, after searching the content of Bonnet’s cellphone, authorities found “numerous images of apparent child pornography depicting victims ages five to 11 years old.”

Because of his prior conviction, Bonnet faces a minimum of 15 years in convicted.

Southampton Town Supervisor Candidates Argument Focuses on Finances

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By Tessa Raebeck; photography by Michael Heller

Southampton Town Supervisor candidates Anna Throne-Holst and Linda Kabot have faced off in numerous debate and forums throughout town in recent weeks. They sparred again on Thursday, with both parties making allegations that ranged from fiscal irresponsibility to political smear tactics and even deep-rooted corruption.

At the debate, hosted by the League of Women Voters of the Hamptons and moderated by Carol Mellor, the candidates were allowed 15 minutes of response time to use at their own discretion, either to answer questions or for rebuttals. Questions were posed by Joe Shaw, executive editor of the Press News Group, Sag Harbor Express editor and publisher Bryan Boyhan and Judy Samuelson of the league, as well as members of the audience, who filled the room at Rogers Memorial Library  in Southampton beyond capacity.

Incumbent Throne-Holst, an Independence Party member cross endorsed by the Democratic and Working Families parties, was elected to the town board as a council member in 2007 and beat Kabot, a Republican also running on the Conservative Party line, in the supervisor’s race in 2009. In her opening statement, Kabot, who served as councilwoman from 2002 to 2007 and as Southampton supervisor from 2008 through 2009, alleged that Throne-Holst falsely claimed that Kabot caused the prior budgetary problems and mismanaged the town. Both candidates agreed that this election is about “the truth” and alleged that their opponent was taking credit for their own successful financial management.

Referring to a debate hosted by the Speonk-Remsenburg Civic Association October 9, Shaw asked Kabot, “you were asked what your qualifications were for supervisor and your answer was that you were married with children and were a homeowner, what did you mean by those remarks?”

Kabot said the phrasing was incorrect and untruthful and noted that no reporters were present at that debate. She referred to similar statements on her website, which states: “As a property owner, I can better represent the majority of taxpayers and voters in Southampton Town. As a married mother of three children, I can provide values-based leadership with deep roots in the community.”

“What I meant by that,” she explained, “was as a homeowner and a taxpayer, my husband and I receive a tax bill and we know what the impact is of increased taxes to our budget and a renter doesn’t receive a tax bill.”

Kabot maintained the person who posed the initial question was a member of the town Democratic Committee.

“They’re the ones writing the letters to the paper to indicate that this is about single mothers or something about somebody’s marital status,” she said. “It has nothing to do with that. That is political spin and it is wrong.”

Throne-Holst responded that the original question was submitted by an unknown member of the audience and asked by a moderator.

“I find it curious that you feel better able to protect people’s taxes as a homeowner,” she said to Kabot. “I will remind everyone that Linda Kabot raised everyone’s taxes by a full 15 percent as supervisor and I have raised them zero.”

“I know that I am a single mother,” continued Throne-Holst, who has four grown children. “I know that as a result of a very painful divorce, I am no longer a homeowner. Maybe someday I will be but now I am not. Sixty percent of our residents live in single households and 40 percent of our residents do not own property and you all have my assurance single mother or married, property owner or not, I represent you equally.”

“Again, someone’s marital status has nothing to do with it,” countered Kabot. “It’s political nonsense being stirred just like the statements are out there that I single-handedly raised taxes 15 percent — this is an untruth.”

Kabot said that corrective tax levies were put forward in 2008, 2009 and 2010 that Throne-Holst voted for as a councilwoman.

“These were the correct things to do,” Kabot said. “And it’s easy to spin it and twist it and distort it but I’m proud of my record as your supervisor of doing the brave and necessary things to do.”

The candidates used a significant portion of their allotted 15 minutes to continue back and forth on Shaw’s question.

“I don’t think you talk about value-based representation because you are married,” said Throne-Holst. “The clear implication is if you are not you do not espouse those values. All I can say is I’ve been your supervisor for four years; you don’t achieve these numbers based on someone else’s work.”

“It’s not about taking credit. It’s not about passing blame. It’s about moving forward,” concluded Kabot.

Boyhan asked the candidates to what degree their administration should prepare for the “continued dramatic and inevitable erosion of our ocean shoreline,” as well as their position on shore-hardening structures.

Throne-Holst said the issue has been at the forefront of her administration and voiced her opposition to shore-hardening structures, which she said help one property while adversely affecting those around it.

“We have taken a hard stance on them in the Town of Southampton, we will not permit them going forward,” she said.

Throne-Holst pointed to her creation of erosion control districts in Sagaponack and Bridgehampton, which allow for oceanfront homeowners to be taxed separately in order to fund a $26 million beach re-nourishment project that is expected to add 60 to 70 feet of beach, adding that she is working with other areas of the town interested in pursuing similar projects.

Kabot also opposes shore-hardening structures. She advocates improved relocation efforts in the event of major storms and said that although the nourishment project is beneficial, “there’s no guarantees that that sand is going to stay in place.”

Her criticisms of the project, she said, have to do with the use of park reserve funds, $1.7 million of which were used to fund the pavilion and public beach access areas of the erosion control districts.

“Those [erosion control district] homeowners are very grateful for the work that has been done in local government to see to it that the beach nourishment has been brought forward and they are contributing very heavily to the supervisor’s reelection campaign,” Kabot alleged.

Samuelson asked an audience member’s question about what obstacles the candidates would remove in order to allow more business and private sector jobs.

Throne-Holst pointed to her creation of an economic development task force in the Riverside/Flanders area, which she said secured a total of almost half a million dollars worth of grants.

“That will probably bring the most amount of jobs to this area when it comes to fruition,” she said.

The supervisor also spoke of the “major job creation possibilities” posed by the Clean Water Coalition, a regional task force she developed, and its “bringing the manufacturing and marketing of those technologies to this area.”

Kabot said she would enact the targeted redevelopment of blighted sites by “incentivizing certain sites so that there would be investment by private developers to allow for the creation of a tax base to create more jobs.”

She is committed to reestablishing a small business office in Town Hall in order to help local business officers get through the regulation process and aims to increase senior and affordable housing, rethink rental laws and review permit standards.

“We have to work at the government level to get out of the way so that businesses can create those jobs,” Kabot said. “We have to simulate business by allowing the government red tape to be lessened and in some cases we need to facilitate their ability to get through the board of health because that is one of the biggest things that holds up a number of businesses.”

“The business advisory group does exactly what Linda’s talking about,” replied Throne-Holst. “They help expedite, they help business owners through the process. So been there, done that already. As far as the Health Department goes, we cannot expedite that. It’s a nice thing to say but we can’t. It’s a county permitting authority, we have actually no control over that.”

“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” the supervisor said in her closing argument. “I love my job, I love serving all of you and I will bring the same level of commitment, enthusiasm and service to this job should I have your vote.”

Kabot concluded the debate, “Together we can take back our town from special interests, restore honesty and integrity and capability to that supervisor’s office and we can bring back the only true independent candidate who cannot be bought.”

The supervisor election will be held on November 5.