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To paraphrase a piece of writing that caught my eye on the Internet: "The ability to put my thoughts on (virtual) paper and put them where people can read and respond to them has been marvelous, even if most people who have read my writings haven't agreed with them. If there is any hope for the long term success of democracy, it will be if people agree to listen to and try to understand their opponents rather than simply seek to crush them." -- RLF
In Memorium -- "My primary purpose in writing these articles is to help provide gays with a sense of their history outside of Stonewall. I feel we have to grab it wherever we are living it and get it down for the generations that will follow in our footsteps."--Mary Kapsalis.
May 28, 2008 -- Warm sunny weather attracted people to Cherry Grove in droves over the Memorial Day Weekend. There had been speculation that the recession and high gas prices would inhibit tourism here, but seem to have done the opposite. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here they are and I'll narrate:
This year, a more conservative sign greets ferry passengers as they disembark the Cherry Grove/Sayville Ferry in the Grove (Photo above left). It's quite colorful and welcoming, but somehow I miss the old one that was posted about ten years ago on the dock and other significant places. It asked people not to litter, pick up their dog's poop, not feed the deer, etc. with amusing illustrations that got the message across in a good natured way. Many people would stand in front of them having a great time trying to decipher what the cartoons meant. I passed some nice people having pizza in front of one of the old ones still standing on Ocean Walk and snapped their pic. Say cheez!
One of the benefits of the blight that took away our pine trees was the relief from pollen that everyone here felt last year. But this year, sinus and allergy problems are at a high from Scotch Broom bushes. (Right). They are beautiful to behold but are causing a lot of misery. (Coincidentally, the ones in photo were planted in front of a house named "Mae's Bush.")
As I mentioned in our last edition, a new generation of business owners seems to be attracting a younger crowd. Check out the long line outside Cherry Grove Pizza savoring slices of "the best kickass pizza in the U.S of A. (Photo above left). They have a great staff of mostly college kids waiting on tables again this year. Eat in, dine al fresco or have have a slice and a coke to go.
Cherry's pulled them in bigtime! (Photo above right.) Their Cherry Lane Cafe is also big during the week when people sit and schmooze minus earsplitting music that inhibits any verbal exchange deeper than yup and nope. Cute, friendly bartenders are a plus. We recently had dinner there and raved about spareribs that were to die for. Trust me on this. I would speculate that Cherry's is the most popular club in the Grove, right now. Good, experienced management helps.
After years of neglect, the Top of the Bay building has gone through a transformation thanks to new owner Ron King. Ensconced in the upstairs space that housed the old "Top of the Bay Restaurant," is an informal, slightly sophisticated eatery that Mr. King calls Top of the Bay Bistro. The kitchen puts out good food with a New Orleans touch by Chef Judy, who used to reign over the kitchen at Island Breeze. They're open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the planning stages is an innovative weekend brunch featuring a live New Orleans jazz band. Can't wait!
The Island Rep box office is ensconced in one of the nice new offices on the ground floor of The Top of the Bay Building. Newsday theatre critic Steve Parks just proclaimed the Rep's first production of the season Confessions of a Mormon Boy one of the "Seven shows to see." For the moment, the Rep box office is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can also charge tickets on Master Card and Visa at 631 597-9439 and at www.Theatermania.com. Tickets are going fast for this one!
The Island Breeze is attracting a nice bar crowd this year. They serve a yummy breakfast buffet on Sunday and on weekend nights the place turns into a supper club that features jazz on Fridays and on Sundays you can listen to the beautiful voice of sophisticated singer Bianca Leigh. Bianca is one of my favorite people (sorry, Bianca, the photos I took didn't do you justice, so I didn't publish them.) She was a cast member of Island Rep's first production "Love Letters" with Rodney Giles. Bianca really packed them in last Sunday night and will probably do so all summer long. Among those who stopped by to wish Bianca luck on the first night of her new show was Cherry Grove's own Charity (who was the first Miss Fire Island contest winner way back when.) This past winter, Charity entertained at the new Lips in Fort Lauderdale.
Tides Entertainment Complex -- Photos top l. and r: Getting cozy at the Cozy Bar; Jack Aaronson at the piano. Photos above bottom left: Entrance to Cherry Grove's gay version of a country store This 'n That; Photo above bottom r: Tides Playhouse sign announcing next show.
Tides Entertainment Complex: Under new management, there are five, count 'em five different reasons to spend time in this busy building on Ocean Walk between the ocean and the bay.
Upstairs, there is a big circular outside bar under the big top that's great for chat, karoake and free burgers on weekend afternoons. Also on the second floor is a nice cabaret room and disco featuring club performers and late night disco.
The ground floor houses This 'n That, Cherry Grove's version of a gay country store with everything from beachwear, house wares, toys, hardware, candy, cigarettes and everything else that you'd swear you couldn't find in Cherry Grove.
Also downstairs is the historic Cozy Bar where you can relax and schmooze while Jack Aaronson sings show tunes at the piano. It's Cherry Grove's only piano bar and lots of friendly fun.
On the ground floor rear, The Island Repertory Theatre Company presents the best in gay-themed time-honored and new plays that chronicle the GLBT experience. This year's theatre season at Tides includes blockbuster hits "Confessions of a Mormon Boy", "Sordid Lives" and a weekend of staged readings of new plays. See ad below for more show and box office information. (Photo right: Writer/performer Steven Fales in "Confessions of a Mormon Boy" under the direction of Tony Award Winning director Jack Hofsiss.)
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When it was announced that no extra police were going to be assigned to Fire Island for the summer, a lot of people were very upset and understandably so. There is a lot of brawling that goes on here, particularly on weekends, and the mere presence of officers of the law convinces all but the drunkest and highest to cool it. Many of our businesses hire their own security for on-premises ruckus, but street brawling is usually taken care of by the men in blue.
I understand that there were so many complaints about the cutbacks, that a compromise has been made and about fifty percent of the police force usually added on in the summer months will be back again this year. People come to Cherry Grove in droves and a police presence is absolutely necessary to promote order, If not, it’ll be dangerous to go out on weekend nights again, like it was in the old days.
In our last edition, I wrote favorably about a new generation of younger business owners who are energizing Cherry Grove for the better, but need to cooperate with each other on how they do it. Last weekend, it seemed that several of them were competing to see who could play the loudest music into the wee three and 4 a.m hours. At 10 a.m, one establishment had a live DJ blasting music on outside speakers that must have wakened several people who were trying to sleep in late.
On Saturday night, I went out at eleven o’clock to take some photos for this edition. As I walked through one club, I tripped on something that sent me crashing to the ground, cut, bloody and dazed. (No, I wasn't drunk or high.) What I had tripped on was a large nail head that hadn’t been hammered into the decking properly. When I pointed it out to a security guard, he said he’d take care of it. Out of curiosity, I went back the next morning to see if the offending nail had been taken care of . . . it had not. I spoke to a manager, who said that he would take care of it, but was it still there later in the day (Photo right). C’mon guys, it’s not just about makeup and hair. Have your maintenance men check the premises occasionally for potential hazards to customers. If I had broken something, you’d have a lawsuit on your hands that you’d fight with all your might to defend so you wouldn’t be liable. Remember: R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y, C-O-N-S-I-D-E-R-A-T-O-N- and B-A-L-A-N-C-E!
MR. FIRE ISLAND LEATHER 2008 -- On Saturday, May 17, The Ice Palace hosted the Mr. Fire Island Leather 2008 contest. On that cold, rainy night, I meandered over to the Grove Hotel (in tacky camouflage pajama bottoms, which is the closest thing I own that remotely resembles fetish gear) to photograph the winner. When I got there, some guys looked me up and down quizzically in wonder at what I might be into that involved camouflage pajama bottoms. Feigning annoyance, I petulantly turned on my heel and gave them a Masterfully mean Tom of Finland glare that seemed to infer: you'll never know. (Photo upper courtesy of Emad Heikal)
Upper photo courtesy of Joe Saporito
For the rest of the Mr. Fire Island Leather 2008 Contest story, see "Hunk of the Week" below.
OUT IN SAYVI
People, Places and Things: Remember the ruckus that the first Underwear Party caused four years ago? This summer, there will be three, count 'em, three such events (at different locations) where you can dance all night in your scanties. One day, all you'll need to pack for the weekend will be three pair of clean underwear . . . well, maybe a few more, in case of accidents. . . . This summer, Island Rep's original production of "Two Boys In A Bed On A Cold Winter's Night" by James Edwin Parker will play Provincetown with Scott Cunningham and sexy porn star Spencer Quest, again under the direction of David Drake. . . . Remember, li'l Brendan who used to work at Cherry Grove Pizza? Well, he's all grown up and in the Army now! (Photo above left.)
At the Cherry Grove Memorial Day Service at the community house last Sunday, the following people were respectfully remembered: Lucia Sutera, Nanetti Cuccia, Bill Schulherr, Dan Lanning, Bernard Murphy, Bill (Violet) Silver, Bo Perillo, Sandy Mopnis, Robert Durell, Dutch Wavering, Joe Fuller, Marie de Guame, Bill McGraw, Florence Mingolelli-Lovell, Sandy Morris, Lou Persinger, Elsie Pisani, Freda Rosen, Assunta Diana Solitorio and Gene Taylor. Rest In Peace!
If you'd like your event mentioned here on ATGT, just e-mail info to AsTheGroveTurnds@aol.com and you'll no doubt see it in our next edition.
As The Grove Turns was founded on May 15, 2000. So far, we have received over a million visits to our site from over fifty countries. Next edition of As The Grove Turns: May 28, 2008. 'Til then, God bless.