03/11/13 8:00am
03/11/2013 8:00 AM

I’ve never been a big fan of booing. Maybe that’s because it’s such an unnatural reaction.

Screaming, crying, laughing, that’s all real stuff. You do it both on your own and in a group. When have you ever seen someone sitting by himself, booing?

Booing is something you do from a distance, in a mob, and when you don’t really care too much. If you truly hated that slumping athlete, you wouldn’t pay a small fortune to see him play. And if someone was really troubling you, I can’t imagine you’d use just one prolonged syllable to let them know how you feel.

Booing is a primitive distraction that accomplishes nothing — the caveman grunt of modern day reactions.

That’s why on some small level I can see why the Riverhead Town Board banned booing at its meetings, even if I don’t necessarily agree with them.

If you want to object to something a government body is doing, get up before the board and say something — offer a counterpoint or a solution.

We’re in the midst of a full year of politics in Riverhead and the surrounding towns. We’ve already had a special election for the North Fork seat in the county Legislature. And now that Dan Losquadro was elected Brookhaven Highway Superintendent last week, a May vote for the 2nd District seat in the state Assembly is on the horizon.

It’s also been an early town election season in Riverhead, where two challengers have already emerged to oppose a town supervisor they see as vulnerable, and a well-known candidate announced his intention to run for a Council seat before we even Auld Lang Syned in the new year.

It’s safe to say 2013 is going to be a loud year full of eruptions and disruptions at Riverhead Town Hall. Which brings me to what I don’t like about the resolution passed last week: the timing of it all.

The bill will enable the Town Board to admonish anyone they see commit a “disruptive demonstration” in a year where disruptive demonstrations at town meetings will be as common as constructive ones.

This resolution was not passed because booing had gotten out of hand at Riverhead Town Board meetings, but rather because a group of politicians is afraid it soon will. Personally, I’m never in favor of bills that do more to protect elected officials than the people they represent.

What makes this bill even more silly is its vague language: A “disruptive demonstration” is a broad, objective term that could include everything from a quiet belch to a screeching fog horn.

It’s going to be confusing, too, when Councilman Jim Wooten’s supporters start “woooooing” at meetings, as a sign of affection.

The biggest question of all, though, is what the punishment will be for those found in violation of the new code. Do they have to leave the meeting? Or  should they just pop their dunce caps on and retreat to the corner of the room?

It’s certainly an interesting resolution Riverhead has passed, but one that can be just as easily booed as it can be applauded.

gparpan@timesreview.com

02/14/13 10:57am
02/14/2013 10:57 AM

Yes, it’s true, ladies and gentlemen! You have arrived at our annual Academy Awards contest column, wherein readers of same are challenged to pick the winners of the 85th Academy Awards, which will be revealed on ABC-TV on Sunday, Feb. 24. 

Once again this year, due in no small part to a couple of friends who are members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I have seen all 10 nominees for Best Picture. (Well, to be perfectly honest, 9 1/3 of the films; more on that below.)

And if you can hang in there until the end of this column, there’s a challenge awaiting that could win you a $100 gift certificate to the Mattituck Cinemas.

But first, my picks:

BEST PICTURE—“Les Misérables” is the film I could not make it all the way through. (It was, in fact, miserable.) I’ve always had trouble with dramatic musicals (see 1962’s “State Fair,” with Ann-Margret and Pat Boone crooning in their underwear when normal, red-blooded people would have had other things on their minds), and Russell Crowe’s croaking forced me to admit defeat long before the credits rolled.

Conventional wisdom might indicate Spielberg’s “Lincoln” for the top award, and my personal favorite was “Zero Dark Thirty,” which turned off some moviegoers because its core is a procedural about an obsessed CIA analyst who won’t quit in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But this contest isn’t about who should win, but who will win. And in that case my vote goes to “Argo,” director Ben Affleck’s engaging, if somewhat predictable, retelling of another CIA-based tale. Note: With the exception of “Les Mis,” “Lincoln” and “Life of Pi,” which was a tad too fantastic for my taste, I really (really!) liked the seven other finalists.

BEST DIRECTOR—And the winner is: Spielberg, mostly via default because neither of the real best directors, Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow (“Zero Dark Thirty”), was nominated.

Longshot: Michael Haneke (“Amour”) — because he got the very best out of his lead actors, 82-year-old Jean-Louis Trintignant and 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva. But when asked by a friend if I liked the film, I emphatically responded: “No, it’s way too depressing.”

BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE—And the winner is: Daniel Day Lewis (“Lincoln”). You may safely bet the ranch on this one. If ever there were a prohibitive favorite in this category, it is Mr. Day Lewis. His bravura performance as our nation’s 16th president actually outshines his earlier bravura performances in “My Left Foot,” “There Will Be Blood,” etc.

Longshot/Should Be: Don’t even bother.

BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE—And the winner is: Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty”). She may be young, but she’s building an impressive body of work, including in “The Help,” “The Tree of Life” and “Take Shelter.” And there would have been no “Zero Dark Thirty” without her riveting performance.

Longshot: Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”). Like Chastain, she’s young and previously overlooked. But as with her 2011 performance in “Winter’s Bone,” this one may be a tad too dark and too quirky for the decidedly conservative Academy members.

Honorable Mention: Quvenzhané Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild”), who was 5 years old when this movie was filmed, and is the youngest actress ever nominated for this award.

BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE—And the winner is: Tommy Lee Jones (“Lincoln”). This time, his deadpan delivery, bloodhound eyelids and southern inflection work to perfection as Lincoln’s vice president.

Longshots: Alan Arkin (“Argo”) and Robert DeNiro (“Silver Linings Playbook”). Both of these old pros chew up the scenery in engaging but predictable roles.

And the winner should be: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, but not for his performance in “The Master,” for which he is nominated. Rather, for his performance in “The Late Quartet,” an outstanding ensemble piece roundly snubbed by the Academy.

BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE—And the winner is: Sally Field (“Lincoln”) in a brave performance as Honest Abe’s somewhat-unsympathetic mate. It’s also the safe pick, me thinks.

And the winner should be: Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”). Speaking of brave, what other 50-something actress would consider a role that requires her to appear in the buff for what seems like most of the film?

And now, the chance to claim that $100 gift certificate. All you must do to win is locate this column online at suffolktimes.com and be the first to post a comment below naming the most winners in the six categories cited above — having done so, of course, prior to the Sunday, Feb. 24, airing of the Academy Awards broadcast. Sorry, but in the event of a tie, the value of the gift certificate will be divided by the number of winners. But once again this year, popcorn is included.

tgustavson@timesreview.com

02/06/13 2:00pm
02/06/2013 2:00 PM

Page 3 of the Feb. 11, 1988 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

25 years ago

Riverhead detective indicted in illegal taping scandal

Town police detective Vincent Gianni was indicted on Feb. 9, 1988 on perjury charges for allegedly making a false statement to a grand jury investigating the illegal taping of outgoing calls made by people in custody at Riverhead police headquarters, according to a story in that week’s Riverhead News-Review.

Det. Gianni was indicted after a female juror asked if he had ever listened to the recordings. He responded “no ma’am.”  However, other officers testified that he had listened to the tapes.

Postscript: The charge against Det. Gianni was dropped about a month later. Later that same year he was probed in another scandal, in which it was alleged he used drugs on the job, supplied drugs to others and twice tipped a friend to a drug raid on her home. He resigned in June 1989 after 16 years on the force and the case against him was closed, according to a Newsday report.

SEE A COLLECTION OF HISTORIC RIVERHEAD PHOTOS

5 years ago

Endangered owl found at EPCAL

An endangered species of owl is apparently wintering at the former Grumman site in Calverton, a discovery that could have significant implications for Riverhead’s development plans at EPCAL, former executive editor Denise Civiletti wrote in a Feb. 7, 2008 story in the News-Review.

Patricia Pelkowski, Pine Barrens site director for The Nature Conservancy, told us at least three short-eared owls were living at the site.

Postscript: A month after this story was published, former Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale met at the site with News-Review photographer Barbaraellen Koch. He was sitting in his car explaining how there were no owls there when she spotted one. Check out the hilarious photo below of him seeing for himself.

15 years ago

Ex-supervisor’s son killed in Route 25A crash

Jared Janoski, the youngest son of former Riverhead Town Supervisor Joe Janoski, was killed in a Route 25A crash on Feb. 1, 1998, we reported in that week’s News-Review.

Mr. Janoski, who was 27 years old at the time, was driving alone when his Nissan veered off the roadway and struck a tree.

He was a left fielder on the 1987 Shoreham-Wading River baseball team that won a state championship.

20 years ago

New council targets Suffolk Theater renovation

The East End Arts Council’s Business Council decided at its inaugural meeting Jan. 20, 1993 that it would explore the possibility of restoring the Suffolk Theater on Main Street in Riverhead, reporter Bob Liepa wrote in the Feb. 4 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

“I think the Suffolk Theater could be a tremendous magnet for downtown Riverhead,” said then-East End Arts Council president Troy Gustavson, who was also the News-Review publisher at the time.

Mr. Gustavson said the cost to renovate the theater, which was put up for sale in 1987, might be too much and the council had only begun to explore avenues of funding.

Postscript: Many dollars and years later, the Suffolk Theater will finally reopen next month.

Little Flower caregiver charged with abusing kids

A childcare worker at Little Flower Children’s Services in Wading River was arrested for sexually abusing seven children on Feb. 5, 1993, according to a News-Review report.

Barry J. Wiggins, who was 28 years old and living in Riverhead at the time, was accused of fondling the boys, who ranged in age from 13 to 15 years old, we wrote.

The incidents took place over the course of an entire year, police said at the time.

Postscript: Mr. Wiggins was convicted in December 1993 and served three years in jail. He now lives in South Carolina, where he is a registered sex offender.

30 years ago

Library opens at SWR High School, pool next?

The North Shore Public Library opened at Shoreham-Wading River High School the week of Feb. 10, 1983, according to that week’s edition of the News-Review. But the brief we published focused on another expansion that never came to fruition.

“[If voter’s approve], a $2 million swimming pool will be the next addition to the school,” we wrote.

The 100 x 200 pool would be financed by floating bonds, we reported. (I’m not sure if the pun was intended.)

Postscript: The district has previously proposed building two more “training pools” at the elementary schools, but that was scrapped by the time the high school pool resolution was adopted. Based on the fact that the school has no pool today, I’d guess voters “sank” the measure that March.

45 years ago

Two-million dollar river span is planned

A second highway bridge has been tentatively planned to span the Peconic River just east of Riverhead, we reported in the Feb. 8, 1968 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

The new bridge, which would cost an estimated $2 million, will be part of a 6 1/2 mile roadway cutting south from Hubbard Road in Aquebogue to the Riverhead-Quogue Road south of Ludlam Avenue in Southampton, we wrote.

Postscript: These days it’s hard to imagine the area without the 105 bridge.

75 years ago

The fat lady at the circus is a winnah

On this platform lad-e-e-s and gentleman, you will see Little Luella, one of the fattest of fat ladies in the entire w-o-o-rld, read the lead of a Feb. 11, 1938 Riverhead News story about the circus coming to Roanoke Avenue High School.

The circus, which the story noted would feature “midgets” among its 100 performers, was being presented as a fundraiser for the American Legion. Organizers expected it to net $10,000.

Postscript: Yup, we had a different style back then. 

gparpan@timesreview.com

02/03/13 6:00am
02/03/2013 6:00 AM
A Bushmaster M-4 semi-automatic, similar to the one allegedly used in the Newtown school shootings last week.

A Bushmaster M-4 semi-automatic, similar to the one allegedly used in the Newtown school shootings.

So I have this old, rusty, single-shot, 20-gauge shotgun sitting in the corner of our bedroom, awaiting its fate.

What to do with it? Leave it where it lies, indefinitely? Attempt to melt it down in the burn barrel out back by the garage? (No, that would be against all sorts of laws, including those of nature.) Sell it through this newspaper’s classified ads? (No, can’t do that because the paper no longer accepts such ads, even for “antique” guns.) Or perhaps eBay? (No, “actual firearms” can’t be listed for sale there either.)

What to do with it? Hey, I have an idea: Why not encourage local police departments to implement gun buyback programs similar to those that have been so successful around the nation, particularly in the aftermath of the Newtown school massacre.

This is basically how they work: Police departments set a place and time where and when guns of any sort — from single-shot derringers small enough to fit into the palm of your hand to the sort of multi-round assault rifle used to mow down elementary school children in Connecticut — are turned in voluntarily, with no questions asked. Those turning in the guns are compensated — sometimes with cash, but more often with gift cards that can’t be used to buy another gun — and the unwanted guns are properly disposed of by the cops.

I very much doubt that buyback programs here would generate the quantity of guns produced in big city programs, if only because our populations are so much smaller by comparison. But any gun taken off the street is a gun that won’t figure in an accident or an act of violence, such as the tragic shooting in Flanders this weekend, and that’s a very good thing.

Skeptics routinely disparage them as “feel good” programs that do little to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the criminally insane, but that’s not the only objective. As The Trenton (N.J.) Times editorialized after that city’s recent gun buyback program: “They represent an opportunity to safely dispose of old and malfunctioning firearms that could mean death in the hands of a child. We regulate the disposal of appliances, of paint, of outdated medication lest they spill destructive chemicals. It’s logical to be as conscientious about the clearing away of potentially deadly instruments.”

This week I have surveyed the chiefs of police in Southold, Riverhead and Shelter Island, asking them if they would support such a program in their towns, and I will let readers of this column know their responses as soon as I receive them. The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department used to buy back guns, but that program was discontinued when the grant money dried up, according to the department’s public information office.

And time is wasting, as they say, with recent reports in this newspaper about unprecedented sales of guns and ammunition in the wake of the passage of New York State’s tough new Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

Meanwhile, a reader of my December column on gun control has pledged $1,000 to help implement such a program in Southold Town. And depending on the response we receive from the police chiefs, the former Joan Giger Walker and I will pledge another $1,000.

I wonder how many other community members would be willing to make small pledges to get the guns off our streets.

And if you’re wavering on this question, please take to heart these words of ex-New York City policeman Howard Martin of Manorville, as quoted in this newspaper last week: “Behind every tree, every window, every door there is a gun. It is the one thing that keeps America free.”

And bloody.

12/22/12 7:58am
12/22/2012 7:58 AM

A Bushmaster M-4 semi-automatic, similar to the one allegedly used in the Newtown school shootings last week.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

— Second Amendment to the
U.S. Constitution 

“I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.”

—National Rifle Association
bumper sticker 

So the Bushmaster M-4 semi-automatic carbine that fired 11 lethal bullets into the body of a 6-year-old last Friday in Newtown, Conn. was legally purchased and licensed by the killer’s mother. Oh, isn’t that reassuring.

And where will it happen next time — and there will be a next time, there’s always a next time — a nursing home? Or the halls of Congress? It’s not a question of when, only of where.

This madness must stop, and it’s perfectly clear to me where we must start. And it’s not with better mental health screening or with better security in schools or, as some idiots have suggested, with arming school principals.

We must start by banning the ownership of semi-automatic (and automatic) weapons by private citizens. Period.

Screw the Second Amendment. We no longer have a “well regulated Militia.” Nowhere is it written that we have a right to own weapons of mass destruction. The guns Adam Lanza wielded last week — and I’m talking about both the rifle and the two semi-automatic pistols — should be available only to military and law enforcement personnel. And the ones already in circulation should be subject to a buyback program like the one that worked so successfully in Australia after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.

And that’s not all we should do. No one who walks into a gun show should be able to walk out with a new gun. Anyone who purchases a new gun should be subject to a reasonable waiting period — during which his or her background should be properly vetted — before taking possession of that gun. And the vetting doesn’t have to be that complex. In Canada, they require gun purchasers to provide two personal references, which probably would have stopped the obviously troubled Adam Lanza in his tracks … if his mother hadn’t purchased those assault weapons legally. Which is exactly my point. Those guns never should have been available to her.

To do what I’m suggesting will, of course, involve a direct confrontation with those defenders of the Second Amendment, the National Rifle Association. Bring it on. In the wake of this epidemic of mass killings in America, the NRA can no longer be considered viable or relevant. If it doesn’t moderate its position, these treacherous assault weapons must be pried from the organization’s cold, dead hands.

The U.S. Constitution is not, and was never intended to be, inviolate. It has, and it must, change with the times. Government must have the power to regulate assault weapons — just as it has the power to ban smoking in public places or require the use of seat belts — neither of which could have been foreseen by our founding fathers. (Also, see suffrage for women and the abolition of slavery.)

I had hoped President Obama would address the gun control issue when he spoke in Newtown Sunday night. His remarks were sensitive and consoling, but I think he missed, once again, an opportunity to say what must be said. I kept thinking to myself, “OK, Mr. President, but what are you going to DO? Specifically, what are you going to DO?”

If Barack Obama is the man I think he is, the man I hope he is, the man I’ve voted for two times now, he ultimately will be remembered as the president who led the fight to bring some sanity to the issue of gun ownership in America.

tgustavson@timesreview.com

08/13/12 8:00am
08/13/2012 8:00 AM

AP Photo/Francois Mori | Shelter Island’s Amanda Clark competed in her second Olympics this past week, doing her hometown proud with a ninth place finish in the Women’s 470 sailing competition.

Why do we love the Olympics so much?

I found myself involved in several conversations on this topic the past couple weeks.

Is it our love of country? Our obsession with sports? Maybe it’s just a great inexpensive way to fill our nights in the dead of summer, when most of our usual programming is on hiatus.

No matter what the reason, Americans were watching the Olympics more than ever before this year, even if many viewers complained that the tape delay in a new social media world ruined much of the surprise.

I watched the Olympics just about every day this year for all those reasons and one more: the personal connection.

When I first broke into this business as a sportswriter nearly a decade ago, a young sprinter in the Southern California town where I worked was all the rage.

Just a senior in high school, some folks were saying she could be the best in the world one day. This weekend, she proved she is.

I turned on my television just in time Saturday night to see a now 26-year-old Allyson Felix win her third gold medal of the 2012 games after failing to capture that precious medal in her previous two Olympic bids.

I got goosebumps as I heard commentator Lewis Johnson announce to the world that Allyson ran her leg of the mile relay in 48.1 seconds.

It wasn’t the only time my skin tingled this Olympics.

Jamel Herring was still in middle school when I graduated high school in 1997, but it still gave me great pleasure to watch a fellow Longwood High grad slug it out in his first Olympic boxing match July 31. Even in a 19-9 defeat to Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan in his only match, the Coram native did his hometown proud.

The same can also be said for Shelter Island’s Amanda Clark. She proved once again that you don’t need to wear a medal around your neck for your friends and neighbors to celebrate your Olympic achievements. After finishing 12th in Beijing four years ago, Clark improved her standing in what will be her final Olympics, when she finished ninth in the Women’s 470 sailing competition.

There’s no doubt she’ll receive the hero’s welcome she deserves when she returns to the Island. Of all the young sailors to take an opti out on local waters, she’s the one who went as far as the sport allows, sailing the world and representing her country.

She proved to us once again that anything is possible, so long as you set your sights on getting it done.

Maybe that’s what makes the Olympics so special: The feeling that one of us can do all that.

Here’s to hoping we can carry on with the Olympic spirit long after these London games have passed.

Every one of us is longing to accomplish something. Now seems like as good a time as any to say goodbye to the tape delay.

Grant Parpan is the executive editor for Times/Review Newsgroup, publishers of the Riverhead News-Review.

07/31/12 8:00pm
07/31/2012 8:00 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The NOFO Rock & Folk Fest at Peconic Bay Winery was one attempt to bring live music to the North Fork.

At the risk of stirring up some of those old “Troy has South Fork envy” complaints that arose many years ago when I compared downtown Greenport unfavorably to downtown Sag Harbor, this week I wish to discuss the distinct differences between Long Island’s two forks when it comes to presenting live music.

At its most elemental level, it comes down to this: How come the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center is so vital but Riverhead’s Suffolk Theatre remains stuck in neutral several decades after it was first proposed as a performing arts center?

Or why does East Hampton’s Stephen Talkhouse nightclub consistently attract nationally acclaimed performers while North Fork venues present mostly local talent.

Call me negative, but when I think of live music here I think mostly of what might have been. Like the several hundred hearty souls who attended the East End Arts Council’s Delbert McClinton concert at the Talmage farm on Sound Avenue in Baiting Hollow.

Or the disappointing turnouts (to me, at least) at the first two NOFO Music Festivals at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue — although festival organizer Josh Horton has a more upbeat interpretation of that experience, as expressed in his comments below. Or the suspension for one year of the Riverhead Blues Festival, followed by a 2012 resumption that left the sponsor, Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, thousands of dollars in the red.

There have been some limited successes, of course. Like the short-lived rock and roll shows promoter Preston Powell once brought to the movie theater in Greenport. Or the generally low-key musical performances that have become standard at North Fork vineyards. (Said one wag I surveyed on this question: “It’s just that those bands all work for less than $200.”)

Or the live music offerings of The Arts in Southold Town — although even that volunteer-based organization was forced to disband in part because of the rigors of presenting.

Also on the plus side of the ledger, says East End Arts executive director Pat Snyder, is “the success of Winterfest Jazz on the Vine, which drew an estimated 7,500 people to the North Fork in the dead of winter. Even though vineyards were not built for performance,” she continues, “we make the best of it (along with a really good glass of wine) and enjoy world-class music. Last winter we had at least six Grammy-winning or -nominated musicians. The audience came from well beyond the Suffolk County borders. I believe it’s a matter of knowing who we are as an area and leveraging those qualities.”

What it comes down to — most of the people I’ve spoken to seem to agree — is geography and demographics.

Geographically speaking, Westhampton is much more accessible to the hundreds of thousands of potential customers who live in Brookhaven and Southampton towns. What’s more, as another friend points out, somewhat defensively, “While North Forkers will readily go to the South Side for stuff, those people often feel like they’re taking their lives in their own hands to come north.”

Demographically speaking, there’s significantly more wealth and a younger audience on the South Fork. The kind of wealth, in the form of corporate sponsorships and individual donations, that can help underwrite operating losses at the performing arts center in Westhampton.

And the kind of audience that most likely will sell out upcoming shows for such big name acts as Rufus Wainwright, Joe Walsh, Pat Metheny and k.d. lang. And with ticket prices ranging from just under $100 to just under $150!

Price resistance is definitely a factor here on the North Fork. One-day passes to the NOFO Fest approached $50, and even at that comparatively low level there appeared to be resistance. That’s one of the reasons why NOFO will be reconstituted this summer as a concert series instead of a multiple-day festival.

Still, organizer Josh Horton chooses to place a more upbeat spin on the change of plans, saying it’s “not grounded in the difficulty of producing live music initiatives.” Nor was he discouraged by the response to the first two festivals.

Instead, he says, “There’s a tremendous opportunity and demand for quality live music. That’s what we experienced with the first two NOFO festivals in 2010 and ’11. But this year, we’re taking a slightly different approach. Instead of being all things to all people over the course of two days,” he said, NOFO will become a concert series that presents national acts in a “more intimate setting.” And at a significantly reduced price.

Case in point: the just-announced tribute to Levon Helm, the recently departed founding member of The Band, scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19, on the main lawn at Peconic Bay Winery. It will feature Helm’s daughter, Amy Helm, and the Dirt Farmer Band, which backed up Levon Helm on two award-winning albums. And tickets will be priced at just $20 in advance, $25 at the gate.

So instead of needing to sell 1,000 tickets, as they did with the larger festival, Josh said, they’ll need to sell 200 to 300.

“We want to make sure the focus is on the music,” he said, noting how the “time and focus spent on vendors and additional activities became a large part of the festival and diminished the focus on the music.”

So, North Fork music fans, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. Let’s start small, with the purchase of a ticket or two for the Levon Helm show. And if that works out, we can start to think bigger, say the purchase and remodeling of the old Greenport Auditorium into a live contemporary music venue that makes the ghost of Stephen Talkhouse wish his Native American tribe had relocated to the North Fork.

tgustavson@timesreview.com

07/07/12 7:00am
07/07/2012 7:00 AM

It’s a long road up to Maine, even after taking the ferry.

The shortest route still runs through Connecticut, Massachusetts, a sliver of New Hampshire and finally across the cantilevered bridge spanning the mighty Piscataqua into the Pine Tree State. And it’s another two and half hours to Boothbay Harbor, a small, friendly tourist village hard by the shores of, well, Boothbay Harbor.

At the earliest opportunity after arriving, day or night, me and the Mrs. make a point of walking out onto the footbridge to take in the sights, familiar yet different, of lobster boats riding at anchor, folk sipping drinks on restaurant decks and, to the south, the pines on the island that marks the entrance to the Gulf of Maine.

I know, I know; we have boats at anchor and waterfront restaurants aplenty hereabouts, but there’s just something about that place. Should the folk from Publishers Clearing House rap on our front door with toothy grins bearing an oversized check, one of the first calls we’d make would be to a real estate agent up there.

The second call would be to a Lamborghini dealer, but let’s keep that between us, OK?

And so it was that while I was driving down to Legends in New Suffolk on a recent weekend evening to pick up dinner for the Mrs. — no, I didn’t stay. Picked up, paid and left. No, really — it dawned upon me that many, many folk must get that Boothbay feeling when coming out here.

I know. Duh! Hey, genius, why do you think so many pay so much for their own piece of North Fork paradise? That I had to think about it is evidence of how meself — and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone here — has come to take this place for granted.

So the next time I motored down that road more traveled, I tried to look at it with a visitor’s eyes. Well, a visitor in a good mood. Not one who thinks any stretch of road longer than 150 feet is an invitation to attempt a new land speed record.

Hey look, there’s a small-town firehouse and just beyond a stretch of very pretty houses. Will you look how the road swings through verdant fields and fruitful orchards? That little red schoolhouse is right out of a storybook and if you grabbed a photo of the old weathered barn and the small patch of soil where folk tend to their own row of vegetables it would have to be sepia-toned. And how beautiful a sight is it to see a fleet of sailboats leaving Cutchogue Harbor under the golden sun of a summer evening for the round Robins Island regatta?

Honey, let’s sell the Tribeca loft — Hey, if you’re going to dream, dream big, right? — and get a little place out here. We could swim in clean water, breathe clean air and eat fresh vegetables. OK, you’d eat fresh vegetables. Who needs the hustle and hassle of … OK, you get the idea.

But such flights of fancy are fleeting and few. It’s more likely I’m thinking, “Dammit, why is the gas tank on E? I just recently put in 20 bucks.” Or, “Please, God, don’t let me hit a damn deer.” Or, “If my direct deposit isn’t credited toute suite there’ll be a debit card bouncing all over the shorefront and a restaurant that’ll never let me in again.”

Don’t need anyone to tell me that while Maine is wearing its summer best now; the bloom is long off the rose by the time January, February and March roll around. Then there’s mud season, black fly season and the invasion of those damn southern tourists from down Massachusetts way.

No doubt it wouldn’t be long up there before I’d be thinking, “Dammit, why is the oil tank on E? I just put in $1,500.” Or, “Please, God, don’t let me hit a friggin’ moose.” Or, “Honey, if you see a guy in a suit with a briefcase coming up the hill fetch my scatter gun.”

OK, so maybe I’d better think twice about calling the real estate people when my ship comes in. Still, what could it hurt to talk with the Lamborghini folk? But let’s keep that between us, OK?

Tim Kelly is the editor of The Suffolk Times. He can be reached at tkelly@timesreview.com or 631-298-3200, ext. 238.