Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fire Island 2011: A Magical Night in the Pines

Started writing at 8:49 p.m. on Sunday, July 31, after dinner at the cottage in Ocean Beach.

Always a bridesmaid, but never a bride?

Well I was able to finally pretend to be one at the Pines Party in Fire Island Pines over the weekend. My wedding veil certainly proved popular among the Smurfs, Princess Beatrice, the Playboy cocktail waiter, devils, unicorns and other fairy tale-inspired revelers who took to the sand off Coast Guard Walk. Lady Luck was also on my side: I won $17 at the Arts Project of Cherry Grove’s Casino at Whyte Hall and the sunrise that Mother Nature bestowed upon the beach was nothing short of magical. A post-Pines Party breakfast at Floyd’s in Cherry Grove capped off what can only be described as an amazing night with a wonderfully positive energy.

I continue to come back to life after a very long post-Pines Party walk to Ocean Beach amid a nearly continuous onslaught of sand flies. Some will unfortunately find something about the Pines Party to knit-pick, but this reporter certainly had a thoroughly good time.

Now only if someone would put a ring on it…

Roses in Fire Island Summer Club on Friday, July 29.

A fire gong in Saltaire.

Some beach art near the Fire Island Lighthouse.

Miss Coco Love at the Pines Party Casino at Whyte Hall on Saturday, July 30.

Downtown Cherry Grove shortly before 8 a.m. on Sunday, July 31.

Early morning on the beach near the Sunken Forest on Sunday, July 31.

The mass exodus from the Grove continues with the arrival of the 7:50 p.m. ferry on Sunday, July 31.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fire Island 2011: Eye Candy Amid a Calamity of Errors

Started writing in Marble Hill at 4:48 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26.

The eye candy proved particularly sweet in Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines on Saturday, July 23. A combination of Calcutta-like weather, mosquitoes, an incompetent water taxi dispatcher and a laptop malfunction, however, conspired to create a less than ideal weekend on the beach for this increasingly exacerbated reporter.

Now that I have that rant out of my system, it’s on to the things that actually went well over the weekend. These included welcoming wounded veterans to a sultry Ocean Beach on Friday, July 22, attending the Hetrick-Martin Institute’s annual Pines pool party and Dancing on the Bay on Saturday, July 23. I rounded out the day with Jonny Mack at the Ice Palace in the Grove.

News that Amy Winehouse had been found dead in her London apartment spread like wildfire across Fire Island on Saturday afternoon. Porsche paid homage to the troubled British chanteuse at her Saturday night show at the Ice Palace. “Back to Black” and “Rehab” provided an appropriate, if not tragically ironic, soundtrack for the post-Dancing on the Bay walk between the Pines and the Grove.

In far more positive news, the state’s marriage equality law took effect on Sunday, July 24. I was standing on the dock in the Grove at the stroke of midnight—and I learned that Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd had successfully become the first same-sex couple to legally marry in New York when I saw pictures of their wedding at Niagara Falls streaming on Facebook and Twitter while I was on a Seaview-bound water taxi. Two gay couples from Fire Island exchanged vows later on Sunday after they obtained marriage licenses at Brookhaven Town Hall in Farmingville. The New York Times posted a picture on their website of newlyweds Jim Kelly-Evans and Dan Evans from the top of the ferry as they returned from the mainland.

Congratulations Jim and Dan and other same-sex couples on Fire Island who either married on Sunday or plan to tie the knot in the near future.

Passing south of West Island on the 12:45 p.m. ferry to Ocean Beach from Bay Shore on Friday, July 22.

At the Grove Hotel pool on Saturday, July 23.

Looking towards the bay from inside the Belvedere Guest House in the Grove on Saturday, July 23.

Sunset from Dancing on the Bay in the Pines on Saturday, July 23.

Porsche pays tribute to Amy Winehouse at the Ice Palace in the Grove on Sunday, July 23.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Snapshots of Marriage Equality in New York

Marriage equality is officially a reality in New York!

I was on the dock in Cherry Grove when the law officially took effect at midnight, and the marvels of Twitter and Facebook allowed me to read that Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd had become the first same-sex couple to legally marry in New York. The DJ at Cherry's played Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" shortly after midnight, but there were no outward celebrations of the historic milestone.

A few hours later, I was finally able to board a water taxi from Ocean Beach. A large rainbow flag flew above an American flag on the end of the dock in Grove. In the Pines, an ecstatic Robin Byrd proclaimed in the harbor that it "was about damn time" that same-sex couples could marry. Florist Erin Black was busy putting the final touches on a flower assortment and matching boutonnieres for a gay couple who went to the Brookhaven Town Clerk's office in Farmingville to get married.

I ended this historic day at the LGBT Community Center in lower Manhattan where state Sens. Tom Duane [D-Manhattan] and Diane Savino [D-Staten Island], New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, Ross Levi of the Empire State Pride Agenda and Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah joined dozens of same-sex couples who married earlier in the day.

Here are some snapshots that capture the day.

Newlyweds Stacey Minondo and Barbara Tremblay shortly after they stepped out of a cab at the LGBT Community Center in lower Manhattan. The Brooklyn women were the first same-sex couple to marry at Borough Hall in Brooklyn on Sunday, July 24.

Eufemio and John Torres of Brooklyn attend the LGBT Community Center's wedding reception on Sunday, July 24.

Pride and patriotism flew high in Cherry Grove on Sunday, July 24.

This message certainly resonated among some of those who celebrated marriage equality in New York on Sunday, July 24.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The view from Jefferson Street

It's 9:12 a.m., and it's already hot!

An Excessive Heat Warning will be in effect in the five boroughs from noon to 8 p.m. The temperature could reach 95-degrees in Bushwick today, while the heat index could eclipse 102. Tomorrow's high temperature in the city could surpass the century mark.

Let's hope that I get everything done the to-do list so I can make a hasty retreat to Fire Island in the morning.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

City Unveils Lottery to Accommodate Expected Crush of Same-Sex Weddings

With five days to go until gays and lesbians can legally marry in New York, city officials earlier today unveiled a lottery designed to accommodate the expected crush of same-sex weddings on the day the marriage equality law takes effect.

The lottery, which will accommodate 764 same-sex and heterosexual couples, opened at noon. It will close at noon on Thursday, July 21.

"We are going to make history on Sunday, with the eyes of the nation once again turning to New York City," said Bloomberg as he spoke at City Hall alongside City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Clerk Michael McSweeney. "We’ve done our homework, and it’s clear that the number of couples who want to marry on Sunday is more than the City Clerk’s offices could possibly handle. And the last thing we want is for couples to wait on line for hours and hours, only to walk away upset on what was supposed to be the happiest day of their lives. The fairest way to determine who gets the chance to wed on Sunday and ensure everyone can properly plan for their own big day is through an even-handed lottery system."

Log onto the City Clerk's website for more information about the lottery.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Young cyberbullying summit panelist: Words can hurt

Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words can hurt.

An eight-year-old girl who is wise beyond her years provided this concise, yet powerful sound bite during a cyberbullying summit at the Times Center in Manhattan earlier on Monday, July 18. City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance City Councilmembers Robert Jackson and Lew Fidler, Parry Aftab of, New York Times reporter Jan Hoffman and Jason Dzepka of MTV were among those who took part in the event. I honestly had very few expectations going into the Times Center earlier tonight, but the summit quickly evolved into something more than another potential article or blog post I had to write once I arrived home in Bushwick.

As I’ve previously written, some of my middle and high school classmates routinely taunted me about my weight and sexual orientation. More than a decade later, I continue to enjoy the life I have chosen to live. Periodic feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that undoubtedly stem from my experiences in middle and high school, however, continue to linger to this day.

Bullies are nothing more than cowards. Their “short-term action” can have “a long-term effect” as Joshua correctly pointed out during one panel. And I remain among those who continue to come to terms with this aftermath long after it ended.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Fire Island 2011: All About the Dance

Started writing at 1:04 p.m. on Sunday, July 17, while lying on the Grove Hotel’s pool deck.

Mother Nature has once again blessed the beach with beautiful weather—a deep blue sky with low humidity and a refreshing ocean breeze. In other words, it is the perfect time for this reporter to write by the pool between the Cherry Grove Community Association’s July meeting and the Fire Island Dance Festival in neighboring Fire Island Pines.

This weekend’s busy schedule included Larry Kramer’s talk at the Blue Whale in the Pines, a late night moonlit walk from the Grove to Ocean Beach after Daniel Nardicio’s underwear party at the Ice Palace on Friday, July 15, the Fire Island Pines Fire Department’s annual block party and Gay Men’s Health Crisis’ reception at Whyte Hall in the Pines on Saturday, July 16. The day’s schedule ended with SAGE’s annual Grove fundraiser.

On this busy mid-July weekend, it seems appropriate to acknowledge some of the characters whom I observed and/or encountered since I arrived on the beach early Friday afternoon. These include the two-year-old boy who was holding court in downtown Cherry Grove on Friday night who will become a future mayor of the hamlet one day, the long-time Grove archivist who remains proud of his community’s history, the sexy Complexions Contemporary Ballet dancer who wowed this reporter and other FIDF supporters at Whyte Hall on Friday night and the “A-List” crew members who were shooting scenes around the Pines harbor on Saturday morning. Five drag queens—Ariel Sinclair, Jason Cosmo, Dallas Dubois, Logan Hardcore and Sabel Scities—also boarded my Ocean Beach-bound water taxi in the Grove while I was on my way home from FIDF. They were scheduled to perform at the Island Mermaid at 9 p.m.

Welcome to summer on Fire Island!

Moon over Point O' Woods around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 16.

Grove beach scene on Sunday, July 17.

Some gusty winds in the Grove!

At the Fire Island Dance Festival in the Pines on Sunday, July 17.

Members of the Complexions Contemporary Ballet at Whyte Hall on Friday, July 15.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The view from Jefferson Street

Good thing I found my keys!

A sudden downpour descended upon Bushwick shortly after 7 p.m. I had just arrived home from the supermarket when a strong gust front forced me to frantically shut my bedroom and office windows. And then the rains came--and hard for about 10 minutes.

So what does any good journalist do when a sudden downpour inundates his neighborhood?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Quinn: We Made History Because We Never Lost Faith

Speaking at the Dream Hotel in Chelsea earlier tonight, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn once again applauded those who spurred state lawmakers to support the marriage equality bill.

The presumptive 2013 mayoral candidate told supporters that they made history "because we never lost faith," referring to the state Senate's 24-36 vote against a marriage equality bill in Dec. 2009.

Quinn's partner, Kim Catullo, was among those in attendance.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fire Island 2011: Disaster Averted!

Started writing at 3:11 p.m. on Sunday, July 10, at the pool at the Grove Hotel in Cherry Grove.

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon here on the beach with a deep blue sky, low humidity and DJ Chuck spinning Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” before Ariel Sinclair’s first number.

This post-July 4 weekend included Congressman Tim Bishop talking about marriage equality in New York, the Defense of Marriage Act and other LGBT-specific measures on Capitol Hill and local beach management. Lambda Legal’s annual Fire Island Pines fundraiser took place on Saturday, July 9, while Logan Hardcore thankfully did not nearly drown anyone at the Grove Hotel this weekend. And a group of Islip lifeguards who were trying to raise money to attend an upcoming lifeguard tournament on Saturday night quickly learned that Cherry's patrons are far more generous to those who take off their shirts.

On a far more serious note, Grove firefighters thwarted a potential catastrophe on Friday, July 8, when they quickly extinguished a fire at Xanadu at Lewis and Gerard Walks. The blaze only damaged the second floor of the complex’s guesthouse, but it could have been far worse. Those sitting here at the pool show watching Sinclair prance around the pool in a gold-sequined dress may not realize that one spark or one carelessly tossed cigarette butt can quickly become a raging inferno.

Mother Nature—there was no wind and it was raining when the fire broke out around 6 p.m. on Friday—certainly spared the Grove from a potential disaster. One Xanadu resident summed it up best while praising firefighters’ quick response and local residents who helped with the cleanup.

“The heart of the community showed that night,” she said.


Impromptu modern art at a Pines home on Saturday, July 9.

At the pool show at the Ice Palace on Saturday, July 9.

Another beautiful sunset from the Grove's dock on Saturday, July 9.

Ariel Sinclair at the Ice Palace's pool show on Sunday, July 10.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The view from Jefferson Street

It's a sultry summer morning here in Bushwick with thunderstorms on tap throughout the day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fire Island 2011: Oh Mary!

Started writing at 8:06 a.m. on Tuesday, July 5, while uploading Invasion pictures in Ocean Beach.

My voice remains hoarse, my feet are somewhat covered with mosquito bites, I still have bright pink nail polish on my finger and toenails and I am in somewhat of a desperate need for a shower, but it was certainly one hell of a July 4 weekend on Fire Island.

Dancing at Cherry’s in Cherry Grove was a recurring theme over the last few days, while DJs Susan Morabito and Lina provided additional soundtracks at Low Tea and Sip n’ Twirl. Some scantily clad Mormon missionaries found their way onto the dance floor at IndepenDANCE at Reflections in the Pines. And I also found myself dancing with new friends from Fort Lauderdale whom I met at Andy Tobias’ annual July 4 clam bake at High Tea and the Pavilion. I had so much fun that the water taxi literally turned around to pick me up. It certainly would have been a long walk back to Ocean Beach, but a higher power sometimes works in rather mysterious ways.

July 4 on Fire Island would not be complete without the annual Invasion—coming into the Pines harbor with thousands of people cheering for the hundreds of drag queens on the ferry is without a doubt the best moment of the summer. Miss Fire Island News sported a floral frock with pink Gucci knock-off sunglasses (from Canal Street) with a matching wand and transparent handbag. She also sported a curly white wig and six-plus inch platform shoes that nearly caused multiple footwear malfunctions. All in all, she survived the treacherous Pines and Grove boardwalks and reveled in the moment alongside Lady Gaga, Sarah Palin, Mona Lisa, the late Princess Diana and hundreds of other queens who made the journey.

Miss Fire Island News thanks Alejandro for finding her fabulous frock among the $10 rummage pile at the Drag Tag sale in the Grove and Doreen for coaching her on how to properly walk in heels.

Friday, July 1, 2011

New York City + 7 Years

Started writing at 8:42 a.m. while eating breakfast and listening to “Morning Edition” in the cottage in Ocean Beach.

The last week has made me feel even more fortunate to live in New York—state lawmakers late on Friday, June 24, acknowledged that gays and lesbians should receive equal treatment through marriage, the pure joy over this landmark vote was beyond palpable at the city’s annual Pride parade on Sunday, June 26 and watching the fireworks over the Hudson River later that night with my boyfriend against the backdrop of “Chapel of Love” was simply magical. I also remain grateful for the opportunity to work on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

Today marks seven years since I moved to Bushwick from New Hampshire. Any number of clich├ęs and superlatives can be used to describe this then-22-year-old’s decision to leave his hometown behind. The five boroughs and some of those who live with them can certainly prove particularly unkind at times. The chorus to Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind”, however, captures this Bushwick resident’s current sentiments.

Now you’re in New York.
These streets will make you feel brand new.
Big lights will inspire you.