Wednesday, July 28, 2010

City settles Sean Bell shooting lawsuit

The city has agreed to pay more than $7 million to settle a federal lawsuit after five New York Police Department officers shot and killed Sean Bell and wounded two of his friends outside a Queens strip club on what was to have been his wedding day.

The officers fired more than 50 shots at the car in which Bell and two friends—Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield—were as they attempted to drive away from Club Kalua in Jamaica on Nov. 25, 2006. The two children Bell had with his fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, will receive $3.25 million. Guzman will get $3 million. And Benefield will receive $900,000.

“No amount of money can provide closure, no amount of money can make up for the pain,” said Bell as she left federal court in Downtown Brooklyn.

Michael A. Cardozo, the city's Corporation Counsel, issued a statement after the settlement with the Bell family was announced.

“The Sean Bell shooting highlighted the complexities our dedicated officers must face each day,” said Cardozo. “The city regrets the loss of life in this tragic case, and we share our deepest condolences with the Bell family. The city is also settling claims with Mr. Guzman and Mr. Benefield. We hope that all parties can find some measure of closure by this settlement.”

A Queens judge in April 2008 acquitted three of the NYPD detectives who had faced criminal charges in connection with the shooting.

A tasty slice of summer

It goes without saying fresh tomatoes are one of summer's most enjoyable foods. And my garden here in Bushwick has produced a bumper crop of the savory fruit this summer.

Here are a few I picked yesterday afternoon to bring out to Fire Island.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Severe thunderstorms sweep NYC

A tornado warning is one of the last thing about which a New Yorker may hear on a Friday night, but the National Weather Service issued one for the five boroughs as severe thunderstorms passed over the city.

The storm did not spawn any tornadoes, but the sky did suddenly turn black -- and even green -- ahead of a vivid lightning show, gusty winds and torrential rain. The storm arrived here in Brooklyn shortly before 9 p.m., but it only lasted about 20 minutes. Here are three videos of the storm as it approached.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dead jellyfish stings 150 people on N.H. beach

This is truly one of my worst nightmares come true--a dead jellyfish stung 150 people at Wallis Sands State Park in Rye, N.H., yesterday.

I have seen several jellyfish in the Great South Bay in recent weeks, but fortunately I have not experienced their painful stings first hand. And hopefully today will prove a far more enjoyable day at the beach at Wallis Sands.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fire Island 2010, part nine

Written around 10 a.m. while on the beach in Corneille Estates eating breakfast with my publisher and her family.

The tide is going out as Nicole, Ben, Sashi, Judy and I eat breakfast. The weekend crowds have thinned out significantly. And the “real” Fire Islanders are enjoying the beach on this sultry, but breezy Monday morning.

It was Fire Island Dance Festival--or the Bruce Vilanch experience for the comic’s die-hard fans--weekend, but a plethora of other events found themselves onto this reporter’s calendar. They include meetings of the Ocean Beach Association and the Cherry Grove Community Association, fundraisers for the Hetrick-Martin Institute and Assemblywoman Ginny Fields, Sunday brunch at the Blue Whale in the Fire Island Pines. And several hours of dancing at both Low Tea and Cherry’s on Saturday night.

It was a typically busy July weekend on the beach, but here are a couple of notes, observations and even lessons from the past couple of days.
- The group of 20-something women who couldn’t figure out where to stand (or sit) on the packed Montauk-bound train as it left Jamaica on Friday morning need to quickly school themselves on proper LIRR etiquette for their fellow passengers’ sake.
- Seared tuna makes for a wonderful lunch anywhere on Fire Island.
- Riding on the back of a water taxi at night remains one of the most magical experiences one can have on the beach.

The weekly schlep from Brooklyn to the beach.

Is this what Lyme disease looks like?

Momix's "Marigolds" at the Fire Island Dance Festival's kick-off party at Whyte Hall on Friday, July 16.

The end of the road in Cherry Grove on Saturday, July 17.

Fire Island Dance Festival stage on Sunday, July 18.

The surf off Corneille Estates on Monday, July 19.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Argentine Senate passes marriage bill

The Argentine Senate approved a bill earlier this morning that would allow gays and lesbians to marry in the South American country.

The 33-27 vote came after 14 hours of debate. Activists in a Buenos Aires cheered and began to chant ‘igualdad’ or once legislators approved the measure.

President Cristina Férnandez de Kirschner has said she would not veto the measure, but Argentina would become the first South American country to sanction marriage for gays and lesbians.

Monday, July 12, 2010

¡Viva España!

I understand soccer as much as some members of my family comprehend why I decided to move to the five boroughs, but I must congratulate the Spanish football team for winning the World Cup on Sunday. ¡Viva España! ¡La Roja está el campeon del mundo!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fire Island 2010, part eight

Written earlier today while listening to music on my bed in Ocean Beach and eating eggs and drinking coffee.

The increasingly steady drum beat of complaints about the heat and humidity was a dominant theme of yesterday’s conversations on the beach—it was 105 degrees in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday so I have little sympathy for those who “sweltered” here on Fire Island last week. A welcome downpour, however, broke the sultry weather’s back (at least temporarily.) And today dawned sunny and far less humid.

The post-July 4 weekend found this reporter running back and forth between Ocean Beach, Cherry Grove, the Fire Island Pines (and a few places in between.) My travels brought me to the annual Lambda Legal fundraiser in the Pines, the Fire Island Pines Fire Department’s block party, a rain-soaked pool show at the Ice Palace in Cherry Grove, Jeanne and Anita’s 45th anniversary party at Cherry’s, Low Tea and Sip n’ Twirl, a “Boys in the Sand” screening at Whyte Hall, a meeting with Fire Island Association President Gerry Stoddard in Ocean Bay Park with my reporter Tim and a fundraiser for state Sen. Diane Savino [D-Staten Island] in the Pines. In other words, it was a typical July weekend on the beach.

The blisters on my feet from last weekend’s Invasion have mercifully healed, but here are a couple of noteworthy items from the last couple of days. Walking the same catwalk Casey Donovan did in “Boys in the Sand” in the summer of 1971 (I was fully clothed in case anyone is curious) is one of the experiences I have had on Fire Island I will treasure. Any drunken fool who dares to call my sarong a dress in an attempt to prove something to their equally stupid friends will learn very quickly how sharp my tongue can be. And it is arguably unwise to publicly object to a part of a specific community's history that helped to put it on the map.

Swans and their cygnets in the Bay Shore ferry terminal on Saturday, July 10.

Riding the Ocean Beach-bound ferry on Saturday, July 10.

From the water taxi to Fair Harbor.

A downpour approaches Fire Island around 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 10.

Hunter celebrates his friend's birthday at the Grove Hotel.

Cherry Grove dock after the downpour.

The beach in Cherry Grove on Saturday, July 10.

The original "Boys in the Sand" poster.

Looking west towards Ocean Beach from the roof of one of the houses in which Wakefield Poole shot "Boys in the Sand."

Looking out to sea in the Fire Island Pines on Sunday, July 11. An oil tanker passed a few miles off-shore when I shot this picture around 3 p.m.

Some law ornaments at the intersection of Ocean and Beach Hill Walks in the Fire Island Pines on Sunday, July 11.

The setting sun on a Bay Shore-bound ferry on Sunday, July 11.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fire Island 2010, part seven

Written earlier this morning while listening to "Vogue" on the porch of the cottage in Ocean Beach.

It’s definitely a hot summer day here on Fire Island, but one image that remains entrenched in my mind is the woman who decided to have sex in the hot tub during Bay Dance in the Fire Island Pines – a straight woman, a possibly gay man and a lot of substance consumption! Did I mention it’s hot on the beach today?

Women—and I use that term quite loosely—were definitely a common theme on Fire Island over the long holiday weekend. Tracy Young was fabulous as usual at IndepenDANCE at Reflections last night, but the “women” from Cherry Grove who invaded the Pines really stole the show. This reporter spotted the Real Housewives of the Gulf Coast, Wendy Williams, Tormenta: Queen of the Seas, Acid Betty, the Rockford Peaches, Dorothy with her illegitimate child, M.I.Anus, Betty Beach Ball and even a possible sighting of Carla Bruni-Sarkozy on her way to the Meatrack during the annual Invasion of the Pines yesterday afternoon. My brown cocktail dress with fishnet stockings and elbow length gloves was quite the hit, but the blisters on my feet prove this queen should never wear anything that resembles heels.

As I continue to nurse my feet, however, a couple of obligatory shout outs are in order. I would like to thank the kind woman on the dock in the Pines who offered me her margarita yesterday afternoon. And I dedicate this entry to my Madonna-obsessed friend John and everyone else at Cherry's last night who made an already great holiday weekend even better.

The Rockford Peaches pose for their post-Invasion photo op

The incomparable Gusty Winds

Joyce as Lady Gaga

This reporter poses for her close-up at the Ice Palace

Some queens

How you doin'?

Dorothy Doodrop and her illegitimate child

Miss Vuvuzela

The Real Housewives of the Gulf Coast

IndepenDANCE at Reflections in the Pines on Sunday, July 4

The Pines harbor on Friday, July 2

Dallas Dubois at the Grove Hotel pool show on Saturday, July 3

The setting sun at Bay Dance in the Pines on Saturday, July 3

Amid the crowd at Bay Dance in the Pines on Saturday, July 3

July 4 at Andy Tobias and Charles Nolan's house in the Pines

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New York City + 6 years

It's a beautiful Thursday afternoon here in Ocean Beach as I rush to finish this week's work--the newspapers are delivered, I just wrapped up a lengthy interview with a journalist I've known for years about the controversy surrounding my latest Village Voice story and I'm looking forward to making a kale and yellow squash salad (and maybe even taking a much needed cat nap) before heading to Cherry Grove tonight.

I spent a significant amount of time last night and this morning thinking about what I have learned since I moved to Brooklyn six years ago. The insanity that has been my life over the last two weeks has made this contemplation appear less important at this very moment. That said, however, one thing remains abundantly clear as I acknowledge my sixth anniversary in New York: I am still in love with the city, and I remain immensely thankful for everything it has allowed me to experience and accomplish.