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July 31, 2006

One Ocean View

Filed under: Fire Island,Rant by Bill @ 9:04 pm

One Ocean View, ABC’s latest reality TV show premiers tonight. Ugh…

What’s the big deal? Why do I, the one who doesn’t even watch TV, care?

One Ocean View, in case you don’t already know, was filmed this summer in Ocean Beach, Fire Island.

If you know Fire Island at all you know that hosting a reality TV show is the last thing Fire Island would wish upon itself.

If you don’t know Fire Island, let me explain…

Fire Island is Long Island’s best kept secret and most of us would like to keep it that way. Just a few miles across the Great South Bay, Fire Island offers 32 miles of pristine beaches, shops restaurants, summer cottages, small marinas, and a charming old lighthouse.

Local residents, summer renters, and regular visitors all love Fire Island for the tranquil, unpretentious escape it affords us.

Once Ocean View will bring undue attention to Fire Island. While that’s great for the business owners it’s not so good for the rest of us or the Island itself.

I’m not necessarily worried about crowds, but crowds that don’t care. Imagine hordes of people who know nothing about Fire Island coming over and treating it like the mall parking lot. That’s what I’m afraid of.

Once Ocean View will probably misrepresent Fire Island. Fire Island is already victim enough of misunderstanding. “It’s gay” is the most common myth and today’s Newsday article, Ocean View is same old by Verne Gay is case in point.

Writing for “Long Island’s hometown newspaper,” Verne carries on the myth by suggesting that since this is Fire Island there’s a chance of “guy getting guy” on the show.

There are two gay towns on Fire Island, Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines. Ocean Beach isn’t one of them and the chances of a gay relationship happening in Ocean Beach are the same as anywhere else, not higher because it’s on Fire Island.

But, gay romance is not the misconception I’m concerned about from One Ocean View. One Ocean View is about a bunch of very attractive, very successful twenty-somethings living it up on the beach.

The Fire Island lifestyle? It’s not like that and I don’t want people watching One Ocean View to think that’s what it’s all about. Sure, there are rich people on Fire Island, but they wear old jeans and torn up boat shoes just like the rest of us.

And that’s how I want it to stay. You want fancy, go to the Hamptons, but don’t try to turn Fire Island into the Hamptons. Just leave it alone.

And that’s what I think One Ocean View should have done in the first place—left us alone. Fire Island is a fragile place. And now, it’s not only the beaches that are subject to erosion, but the very essence of Fire Island itself.

Maybe One Ocean View will stink and all this unwanted publicity will just go away.

We’ll know in six weeks.

July 13, 2006

A book About Long Island’s Baymen

Filed under: Sand, Sea & Sky by Bill @ 9:57 pm

A book coverAn incredibly detailed and well written account of Long Island’s commercial fishermen, Men’s Lives is a book that I find hard to put down.

But then again I am a fan of all things nautical and there’s a part of me that wishes I could have been part of that nostalgic era.

I remember back in the late 1970’s when I graduated high school; you could almost walk across the Great South Bay from clam boat to clam boat.

A lot of people I knew then where buying boats and clamming. But I had a “real job” and was trying to build a career in engineering.

How I wish I had taken a year off and spent it on the bay. That experience would have been priceless and now, thirty years later would there be any noticeable difference in my job status?

My teenage son, Joe who has taken several years off (these kids today…) had the privilege of working with one of Long Island’s noted baymen, Frank Sloup.

Frank is unusual in that he is thriving rather than starving. His main fishery, crabs is still viable on Long Island and Frank is a true bayman, working the bay all year long.

Each season brings its own catch and Frank is master of them all.

I’m sure the time Joe spent with Frank will be a treasured memory in later years and, as I said, the experience is priceless.

Interestingly, an unsolicted confirmation of the hardship Matthiessen writes about in Men’s Lives came when Joe told me his new job in construction is easier than working with Frank.

Carrying wood up ladders is not as hard as hauling crab traps by hand for 12 hours a day on a pitching boat. And, 2×4’s don’t bite.

But enough of my rambling…

Read my review of Men’s Lives.

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