AsTheGroveTurns.net

This diary contains diverse views and opinions on what goes on in Cherry Grove, the nation and the world. Racism and bigotry have no place here. Please do not engage in personal attacks on other users. The cardinal rule here is to respect others. The opinions published here are those of individual writers and may or may not represent those of our publisher/editor or any other members of our volunteer staff.

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.)

 

Incidentally, if you enjoy ATGT's free website, BE AN ANGEL and make a tax-deductible contribution. See ad and list of contributors below.

 

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 SAYVILLE 2008, now a weekend long celebration of diversity, friendship, fun, & pride, will be held Friday, May 30 - June 1, 2008. This year will be the 6th annual occurrence of this festival which attracts gay and straight individuals and families from all over Long Island to celebrate “America’s Friendliest Village,” Sayville, and its neighboring community of Cherry Grove, Fire Island. This years festivities will include a Friday Night Kickoff Party, The newly revamped Out In Sayville Music & Arts Festival, Silent Auction from the generous donations of the Sayville Chamber of Commerce in Cherry Grove to benefit local HIV/AIDS organization, Thursday's Child, A Themed Saturday Night Dance Party at Cherry's, Lube Wrestling at the World Famous Ice Palace. All this and more will be put on for your enjoyment .
 

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.

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"Because a great community deserves great theatre."

THE ISLAND REPERTORY THEATRE COMPANY

Richard LaFrance, Artistic Director

Adminstrative Directors: Lorie Bradshaw and Wendy Lewis

E-mail: IslandRepCG@aol.com  Website:pan: http://www.islandrepcg.org/

ISLAND REP'S 2008 SUMMER THEATRE SEASON WILL BE THE BEST EVER!

THREE GREAT SHOWS FOR THE PRICE OF TWO

 SUBSCRIBE EARLY AND GET THE BEST SEATS FOR THREE EVENTS YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS! FRONT ROWS GO FIRST!

 OPENS JULY 2       OPENS AUGUST 1

July 2-13

CONFESSIONS OF A MORMON BOY

 written and performed by STEPHEN FALES

directed by JACK HOFSISS

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8;  Wednesdays, Sundays and Mondays at 7

August 1-3, 8-10, 15-17

SORDID LIVES

a black comedy about white trash

written by DEL SHORES

directed by RICHARD LaFRANCE

Fridays and Saturdays at 8; Sundays and Mondays at 7

August 22-24

NEW PLAYS AND PLAYWRIGHTS SERIES: Three Staged Readings of exciting new works.

Fridays and Saturdays at 8; Sundays at 7
*Free Event — Subscribers Only.

Subscribers will be invited to a staged reading of an exciting new play and participate in a discussion with the director and actors after the show.

 For more information visit http://www.islandrep.org/

THREE EVENTS FOR A TOTAL OF $60!SINGLE TICKETS: $30

SUBSCRIBE NOW!

 Buy your reserved seat subscriptions early and get the best seats available for the show dates of your choice. Three-event subscriptions cost a total of sixty dollars each.

The Island Rep Box Office is located on the ground floor of the Top of the Bay Building on the dock. Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m-3 p.m or

Tickets: Call Island Rep Credit Card Hotline: 631 597-9439,

One-Show Tickets:

"Mormon Boy": Theatermania/Mormon Boy

"Sordid Lives": Theatermania/Sordid Lives

 

 

TO OUR READERS:

BE AN ANGEL!

Dear Friends:

For all the hours of free informative fun you spend reading our webzine, we hope you'll consider making your 2008 tax-deductible donation to The Island Repertory Theatre Company, our sister organization that is asking for your assistance in helping raise the money to produce their ninth fabulous season of presenting gay-themed comedies and dramas that chronicle the GLBT experience at The Tides Playhouse in Cherry Grove.

Please add your name to the following list of contributors:

ANGELS ARE ALIVE AND WELL!

The following people have made tax-deductible contributions to The Island Repertory Theatre Company in 2008 in the following categories. Please contribute what you can afford.

Founder $1,000+:

Richard Fenn

Richard LaFrance

Producer $500*:

Tony Finstrom & Jack Dezak Ron King & Justin Jones

Director $250+:

Jan Felshin & Edrie Ferdun Michael Kobos & Donald Egan
Walter B. Quetsch Charles Whipple

Dr. Anna Tirado & Ms. Henriette Von Woerkom

Patron $100+

Edwin & Neil Juan Punchin
Anonymous Jeffrey Zirpolo
Karen Durka Steven Tepper
Anonymous  
John P. Hughes The House of Mae Bush
Tom Holden Roy and Barbara Flood
Bill Ottignon Virginia McInerney
Dan Nafziger John Philip
Rita & Jack Lichtenstein Bill & Tony Tholtsiniathis 
Jim Kapsalis The Cubby Hole (Fort Lauderdale)
Paul E. Elsener Ralph M. Hays & Harold Fried

Supporter $50+:

Mark Donatelli Anonymous
David J. Garfinkel Al Wolff
Lorenzo F. Pugliese Harold Seeley
Thomas McKenna Robert Michel
Ken Fabbrini Carl & Linda Eisenberg
Al Wolff James Keys
William Marino Anonymous
Tom Cunningham JKTWO LLC
Richard Daddario Gay Nathan and Julie Paradise
Edward Mallon Dan Daly
Jim Kelly Kim Guzalak & Anita Grosso

*Let us know if you prefer that your name not be listed as a contributor.

For your convenience, you can charge your tax-deductible donation in increments of $100 at PAYPAL or send a check payable to The Island Repertory Theatre Company in any amount you can afford to:

Richard Fenn, Treasurer,

Island Rep,

150 East 69th Street, #20M,

New York, NY 10021.

Island Rep is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Be sure to mark your check “tax deductible contribution.” 

You can also charge your donation to a major credit card by calling us at: 631 597-9439.

Unless you advise us otherwise, your name will be added to the list of 2008 donors that is published in every edition of ATGT as well as on the Rep website.

Does your place of employment have a matching-grant program? Donations made in this manner are also completely tax-deductible.

Our 2008 Fundraising Goal is $18,000. Please Help!

"A Fire Island Gem" – Dan Evans, F.I Tide

"The Miracle of Legitimate Theatre" – Jeanne Lieberman, Fire Island Sun

 

For further information, visit our website: http://www.islandrep.org/ 


Thank you,
Richard LaFrance, Artistic Director
The Island Repertory Theatre Company

OUR MISSION: The Island Repertory Theatre Company is a Cherry Grove-based not-for-profit 501(c(3) arts organization dedicated to promoting cultural exchange, social interaction and goodwill between Fire Island communities by presenting time-honored and new plays that chronicle the GLBT experience.

Board of Directors: Richard Fenn, President; Lorie Bradshaw, George Cabell; Peter Downes, Pierre Galarneau, Alan Hassell, Justin Jones, Ron King, Richard LaFrance, Frank Santoro, Wendy Lewis, Juan Punchin, Nicole Pressly-Wolf, Bill Todt.

 

SUPPORT THE ARTS IN CHERRY GROVE!

All Donations Are Tax-Deductible!

 

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 Fort Lauderdale's Butch Bar For Men

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To visit our website on the net click here.

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LOCAL SCENES

Richard,

Thanks for your theatre schedule and hope you have a successful season. 
 
I've started doing paintings, digital paintings of landscapes, seascapes, and portraits of pets, people, and Cherry Grove cottages.  I did a painting of your house (r.) which I'm very fond of.  It's printed on 18" by 24" canvas matte.  I attach a preview of it here.  Stop by and I'll show it to you as well as some of my other work, if you like. -- Louis Nelson

THANK YOU

I can't tell you how happy you made me by including the photo and write-up on Bernie Murphy.  He would be so pleased at being remembered by his friends at the Island.  Bern was always so happy there; I wish I had spent more time there with him.  If I see you in the few days I will be out there this season, I am going to grab you and give you a big hug.  Thank you again, Richard.  We have always been a fan of your site, but now I'm a loving fan!
Always,
Terry Lilly

AN E-MAIL FROM THE UK

Oh, Richard, that's marvelous news.

ATGT keeps me linked to Fire Island where I scattered the ashes of my two best friends, Colin and Martyn - they used to come from London to FI every year and it was always their special place.

It's lovely to see that Island Breeze rose from Michaels' ashes, that lovely Brett has made Floyds the success it deserved to be (he just opened when we were over in 2002) and that there is still a sense of community about the Grove.

Finally, I'm glad that you and your better half are able to spend another summer in the place many people call paradise.

Thank you for doing all that you're doing... I'd like to make a donation but can't afford $100 - can I donate, say, $50 via Paypal?

Cheers,
Tony.

PS: Picture of Colin and Martyn attached... do they ever have some kind of memorial service on the Island?

(Editor: Tony, The suggested donation to Island Rep is for people who can afford it, not for those who can't. It's amazing how many faithful ATGT readers have never contributed anything for all the hours of free info they get here. 

(It is very thoughtful of you to send a note to us once in awhile. I can't believe that it was 2002 when we met. Time does fly!

(There was no photo attached. Yes, Cherry Grove has an annual Memorial Day service at the community house where all people (and some pets) who passed away during the previous year are remembered. Take care.)

DAN'S AT SEA

I will be leaving for Europe on May 22nd, and will not return until September. Please keep an eye out for my new website......it will be launched next week with my CD called Flashback to the 1950's.

My new web address is www.dandalymusic.com. It should be up and running in about a week! Hopefully, there will be audio clips, video clips and I will be able to send audio pod casts from the cruise ship this Summer! I look forward to staying in touch!
 
Dan Daly

ONE OF THE BEST SUMMERS YET!

Hi Richard,

We want to thank you for your kind words concerning Cherry's. David,  Donna and I have worked hard to get Cherry's where it is today. Unfortunately, David has been extremely ill for the last several years and hasn't been able to get out to the Island that often. We would like to wish him a speedy recovery and acknowledge all he has contributed to the Cherry Grove Community.

I'm glad you didn't let the person who has been threatening you stand in the way of your very successful website. I myself know how it feels to have people try to deliberately hurt you  and your business, but we will go on. It's in our heart and we love the Island!

I hope all the businesses work together and not against each other to make summer 08 one of the best summers yet!

All the best and good luck with your theatre.

Jacquelyn Piazza
Cherry's On The Bay
Fire Island N.Y.
http://www.cherrysonthebay.com

THANKS TO YOU!

Thank you for continuing your wonderful site!

Jack Cahn

IMPRESSED

I would enjoy the chance to work with your company this summer if there’s a good opportunity to do so.  I saw your production of The Dying Gaul last summer, and really enjoyed it.   

It was my first visit to Cherry Grove, and I was so taken with the community, I’ve decided to spend the summer there this year.

Bob

ALL-IN-ONE

Thank you.  I really missed your insights and local news.  You were the New York Times, the Post and the Wall Street Journal all rolled into one. Thanks again for coming back
Rick

LOOKING FORWARD

Hello Richard,
Boy am I glad you decided to resume publication. Hope everything is well with you and BNM. I looking forward to this year's presentation.
Regards,
Chuck

SENIOR ROCKS

YOU ROCK RICHARD!!!!!     FUCK THE HATERS!!!

Best

Peter Seigleman

(Editor: But I'm definitely too old to roll!)

 

OUT IN SAYVILLE

Welcome Back and thank you for the great publicity for Out In Sayville!
Paul

COINCIDENCE

Funny that your e-mail came through as I was reading the site. Welcome Back Bradshaw

Richard,

WHAT CAN I SAY?

What can I say but WOW!! Just read your newest edition of As The Grove Turns. What a way to start the new season. It was Positive, Upbeat, and Inspirational to say the least. Just as Cherry Grove seems to be on the start of a new beginning, it seems that you too have joined the move. I think this is going to be a great summer. I don't think there was a business that you didn't mention or promote. Its great to be able to read whats going on in an unbiased and fair manner. Thnk you for all the updates and info. I know this is going to be a great summer. Keep up the positive outlook on the Grove. And Thank You for it!

Happy As A Clam

FLAWLESS WISH

So glad to see you are back!!!  Have a flawless summer.

Mark

LAYING DOWN A GAUNTLET

Yay! Enjoyed it and I am delighted that you are doing it again. If anyone bothers you, just let me know.

xo Jan

BRING ON THE ALPO!

Great job! I enjoyed this issue, glad it's back! Also, loved to hear about all the renovations and changes. I attended the PAWS benefit at the West Sayville Country Club last week. It was very well attended-at 100$ a pop. Wish the food was better though.

Love,Michelle

THRILLED

Hey Richard-
Thanks for the update.....and thrilled that you're back...
Will read it tonight!
Best,
Mike Albers

RUINING IT FOR THE MASSES

Welcome back, glad you decided to not let the few morons ruin it for the masses!!!See you this summer. Thanks a bunch and look forward to reading your weekly updates.

Jim

MISSED US

Richard, welcome back! We have missed the website. You continue to be our only source of information. Thank you.

Amy

GLAD

I am so glad. I missed your website so much. Happy season 2008

Nouillorque

GOOD WISHES

HURRAH, SO GLAD YOU ARE BACK....MISSED YOU SOOOO MUCH.....HOPE ALL GOES WELL.
 
LONNI

CLOSING DOORS

If anyone has gift cards to the below stores, better use them since these stores are either closing all or many doors: Pier 1 Imports, Foot Locker, Home Depot, Linens & Things, Disney Store, Ann Taylor, Sharper Image, Pep Boys, Ethan Allan, Rite Aid, Sprint Nextel Corp, Levitz, Comp USA, Catherine's, Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug Talbot's Kids, Lillian Vernon (catalog).

How sad. This is what has become of our economy under Bush. Also, there are many gays and Lesbians in the retails industry and em[loyment with that group will mushroom. Please remember this when voting for President. No matter what you hear from now til November, Bush's third term begins if McCain is electe

Ken

THE CHERRY GROVE ART WALK -- 2008

Dear Cherry Grove Community,
I am pleased to announce
The Cherry Grove Art Walk -2008 which will be held on the first weekend of September as it has been held now for three years.

Everyone is encouraged to participate in this event: owners of : bars, restaurants, houses, decks, poets, artists, dancers etc. You must be a visitor or homeowner to participate as an artist and arrange your own exhibit in a house or on a deck.

Send me a note of interest along with the title of your event or exhibit and a logo if you are a business in jpeg format (high res) with $200.00 check or money order made out to Barbara Ann Levy 600 S. Dixie Highway Apt 717 West Palm Beach, FL 33401 so that I can begin the process of getting the pr materials and walk materials made up. The accounting for this event will be transparent and a ledger with how the $ have been spent will be forthcoming.

I need major sponsors for this event: liquor companies etc. Please put the word out.

See The Palm Beach Post for a business model of what this event can become: 
http://www.palmbeachpost.com/events/content/entertainment/events/guides/sunfest

The Deputy Director of The Brooklyn Museum, Albert Schweitzer, artist  and one house owner have committed to this event so far.  Please join them. I am asking
all businesses to donate $200.00 to participate to cover the costs of the event.

You can drop me an e-mail with any questions: WestPalmBeach08@aol.com or become a 'friend' on Facebook and join
The Cherry Grove Art Walk -08 group.

Thanks in advance.  I miss Cherry Grove and look forward to putting this together this year!

Barbara Ann Levy

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http://www.belvederefireisland.com/

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CHERRY GROVE:

A PICTORIAL ESSAY

Photographs by Robert Conlon

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HUNK OF THE WEEK

ISAAC ,

MR. FIRE ISLAND LEATHER 2008

 

Isaac was named Mr. Fire Island Leather 2008 at the eighth annual leather contest at the Ice Palace on May 17, 2008, beating three other contestants, Master CJ, Frank Spoto and Jerry, and selected by judges David Samuel Menkes, custom leatherwear designer from the Pines, Mr. Long Island Leather 2008 Frank Burdi, and past Messrs Fire Island Leather Diego Vargas (2007), Joe Saporito (2005), and Bruce-Michael Gelbert (2001). 

   As audience favorite, Isaac was also named Mr. Meat Rack.  Isaac particularly impressed the judges with an over-the-top Meat Rack fantasy that found him playing the accordion, fanned, fed grapes, massaged with oil, and generally serviced royally.  Entertainer Ariel Sinclair and Mr. Fire Island Leather 2006 Master Tom hosted the contest. (Photo: by Bruce Michael Gelbert, courtesy of Fire Island Q News.co

 

(NOTE: Someone asked me to eliminate certain photos  and names published with this story, and I complied. RLF)

 

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The Monster website

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Fire Island Follies

 

 

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Sex and the Island

by LLOYD FIDER

EX-tremely Happy

May 28, 2008 -- Carrie Bradshaw once asked, “Can you be friends with your ex?” And as we’ve seen in Sex and the City, she was able to be friends with Big, and ultimately ended up with him. I’ve met and talked to many ex couples who have told me that it’s possible to be friends with your ex. But getting to that point could be easier or harder for some.

This time I will ask, “Can you be happy for an ex?” I mean, REALLY happy for your ex. First of all, what about your ex should you be happy about? It could be a lot of things – a new job, a new apartment, or even something as simple as new furniture in his or her new apartment. Well, of course we should be happy for them for these reasons. But when it comes to matters of the heart, how easy or hard is it to be happy for you ex? Now, this could be a little tougher to answer.

Of all my ex boyfriends, I’ve only been really able to be friends with one person. Let’s call him Tobey, because he looks like Tobey Maguire. We dated briefly 6 years ago. We were both each other’s first boyfriends. And being my first boyfriend, our break up was very tough and emotional for me, even though our relationship was short-lived. I’m sure a lot of you have been in that situation. It took me almost a year to get over him. And after six years, he is one of my best friends. We’ve seen each other grow and achieve our goals. And I have to say, I am certainly very proud of what he has accomplished in the last six years, both on his personal life and his career.

What was interesting about Tobey was that he never really had another boyfriend after me. In the last six years, he would tell me stories about the guys he went on dates with, and the good and horrible experiences he has had. And he would ask me for dating advice. At the back of my mind, I’ve always wondered, “Why is this guy still single?” To me, he is definitely a catch – sweet, talented, responsible, mature, and easy going.

Well, that all changed a few months ago. We were hanging out for the first time since he moved to Queens, watching the movie “Dan In Real Life”, when he told me about this guy he met in Myspace. I listened eagerly as he told me how their first few dates were. And the more he talked about this wonderful guy he met, how much fun he has had with him so far, the more I thought to myself, THIS IS IT! On that night, I knew he found my “successor”. And a few weeks ago, Tobey made the exciting announcement that he is in a relationship.

 I was in tears when I heard the news (I know, I’m such a girl). But they weren’t tears of jealousy or hatred. They were tears of happiness and joy for a wonderful friend. Finally, he found a person who cares for him, who enjoys being with him, who respects him, who understands and is able to relate to him, and accepts him for who he is. Most of all, he found someone who is sincere and REAL. And I can tell that they are both truly happy (thanks partly to some surveys I’ve been reading in Myspace). And as his dear friend, that’s all that matters to me.

Now, the sign of a true friendship is when two people are able to learn from each other. I hope Tobey was able to learn something from me in the last 6 years, because I have learned a lot from him, especially with his experience with Myspace guy. The most precious lesson I have learned from Tobey is PATIENCE. Not once did I hear him complain about being single for a long time. Instead of whining and complaining about it, he lived his life, enjoying his family, his friends, his career, and learning from every bad and good experiences of dating in the past. He is a living proof of the saying that love will happen when you least expect it. Who would have thought that a simple Myspace message to a guy in Brooklyn would blossom into a wonderful relationship?

In the end, Tobey showed me, and I hope to all of you reading this article, that life is not all about dating. Living life is celebrating the love you have with your family, your friends, and achieving your goals. But when the right person comes along, and sweeps you off your feet and steals your heart, then you can say to yourself, “I’m the luckiest guy (or girl) in the world!”  

About the author: Lloyd is 25 years old and has a BA degree in Psychology from Stony Brook University. He is currently pursuing his Masters degree in Social Work at Fordham University. He currently works for a printing/graphics design company as a production coordinator. He loves volleyball, badminton, bowling, movies, books, writing, biking, hiking, the beach, and hanging out with his friends. He is currently single. He currently resides in Jackson Heights, Queens, NY. Prior to that, he lived in Huntington, Long Island for 6 years.

For comments or questions, please email him at thatslife1982@yahoo.com

 

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FIRE ISLAND MEN 2006 WALL CALENDAR

Packed with 13 breathtaking natural scenes of Fire Island Men on pristine beaches and forests of Fire Island. The images are from Emmy award winning film maker Tom Castle's upcoming photography book licensed exclusively for this project. All models are Pines/Grove residents or visitors over 18 years old who volunteered to be photographed ‘as is’ in clothing optional areas of the beach and forest.

www.fireislandmen.com

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POLITICALLY INCORRECT

CALIFORNIA COURT AFFIRMS RIGHT TO GAY MARRIAGE

By ADAM LIPTAK, The New York Times, May 16, 2008

The California Supreme Court, striking down two state laws that had limited marriages to unions between a man and a woman, ruled Thursday that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

The court's 4-to-3 decision, drawing on a ruling six decades ago that struck down the state's ban on interracial marriage, would make California only the second state, after Massachusetts, to allow same-sex marriages.

The decision, which becomes effective in 30 days unless the court grants a stay, was greeted with celebrations at San Francisco City Hall, where thousands of same-sex marriages were thrown out by the courts four years ago. It was denounced by religious and conservative groups, who pledged to support an initiative proposed for the November ballot that would amend California's constitution to ban same-sex marriages and overturn the decision.

Same-sex marriage has been a highly contentious issue in past presidential and Congressional elections, but it was not immediately clear what role the ruling would play in this year's elections. The Democratic and Republican candidates for president have all said that they believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, but Republicans could use a surge in same-sex marriages in the country's most populous state to invigorate their conservative voters.

Given the historic, cultural, symbolic and constitutional significance of marriage, Chief Justice Ronald M. George wrote for the majority, the state cannot limit its availability to opposite-sex couples.

"In view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship," he wrote, "the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples."

Supporters of gay marriage said the ruling was a milestone. "This decision will give Americans the lived experience that ending exclusion from marriage helps families and harms no one," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry, who noted that same-sex marriages are now legal in South Africa, Canada, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.

But opponents said they expected the proposed ballot initiative, which has been submitted to state election officials with more than one million signatures, to pass in November.

"The court was wrong from top to bottom on this one," said Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage. "The court brushed aside the entire history and meaning of marriage in our tradition."

There about 110,000 same-sex couples in California, according to census data, and the state has a strong domestic partnership law giving couples who register nearly all of the benefits and burdens of heterosexual marriage. But the majority of the justices said that is not enough.

The court left open the possibility that the Legislature could use a term other than "marriage" to denote state-sanctioned unions so long as that term was used across the board — for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

The state's ban on same-sex marriage was based on a law enacted by the legislature in 1977 and a statewide initiative approved by the voters in 2000, both defining marriage as limited to unions between a man and a woman. The question before the court was whether those laws violated provisions of the state Constitution protecting equality and fundamental rights.

Mathew D. Staver, a lawyer with Liberty Counsel, a public interest firm that defends traditional marriage, said it would ask the court to stay its decision until the election in November, meaning that Thursday's decision could be overturned before it becomes effective.

"It would only be logical" for the court to grant a stay, Mr. Staver said, given the confusion that would arise if same-sex marriages were available for only a few months.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, said in a statement that he respected the court's ruling and did not support a constitutional amendment to overturn it.

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Marvin R. Baxter said the majority should have deferred to the state Legislature on whether to allow same-sex marriage, particularly given the increased legal protections for same-sex couples enacted in recent years.

"But a bare majority of this court," Justice Baxter wrote, "not satisfied with the pace of democratic change, now abruptly forestalls that process and substitutes, by judicial fiat, its own social policy views for those expressed by the people themselves."

Also dissenting, Justice Carol A. Corrigan wrote that her personal sympathies were with the plaintiffs challenging the bans on same-sex marriage. But she said the courts should allow the political process to address the issue.

"We should allow the significant achievements embodied in the domestic partnership statutes to continue to take root," Justice Corrigan wrote. "If there is to be a new understanding of the meaning of marriage in California, it should develop among the people of our state and find its expression at the ballot box."

The Supreme Court was the first state high court to strike down a law barring interracial marriage, in a 1948 decision called Perez v. Sharp. The vote in Perez, like the one in Thursday's decision, was 4-to-3. The United States Supreme Court did not follow suit until 1967.

At present, six of the seven justices on the California court, including all of the dissenters, were appointed by Republican governors.

Thursday's decision was rooted in two rationales, and both drew on the Perez decision.

The first was that marriage is a fundamental constitutional right. "The right to marry," Chief Justice George wrote, "represents the right of an individual to establish a legally recognized family with a person of one's choice and, as such, is of fundamental significance both to society and to the individual."

Chief Justice George conceded that "as an historical matter in this state marriage has always been restricted to a union between a man and a woman." But "tradition alone," the chief justice continued, does not justify the denial of a fundamental constitutional right. Bans on interracial marriage were, he wrote, sanctioned by the state for many years.

In a second rationale from the interracial marriage case, the court struck down the laws banning same-sex marriage on equal protection grounds, also adopting a new standard of review in the process.

When courts weigh whether distinctions among people or groups violate the right to equal protection, they general require only a rational basis for the distinction, a relatively easy standard to meet. But when the discrimination is based on race, sex or religion, the courts generally require a more substantial justification.

Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the majority ruled Thursday, also requires that sort of more rigorous justification. The court acknowledged that it was the first state high court to adopt the standard, strict scrutiny, in sexual orientation cases.

Lawyers for the state identified two interests to justify reserving the term marriage for heterosexual unions: tradition and the will of the majority. Chief Justice George said neither was sufficient.

Still, Chief Justice George took pains to emphasize the limits of the majority's ruling. It does not require ministers, priests or rabbis to perform same-sex marriages, he said.

He added that the decision "does not affect the constitutional validity of the existing prohibitions against polygamy and the marriage of close relatives."

Other state high courts to consider the question of gay marriage in recent years, including those in New York, New Jersey and Washington, have been closely divided but stopped short of striking down state laws forbidding it. A decision from the Connecticut Supreme Court is expected shortly.

DeGENERES, de ROSSI PLAN TO MARRY, AP IS TOLD

By LYNN ELBER, AP Television Writer Fri May 16, 2008

In this 2008 file photo actress Portia de Rossi, left, and television personality Ellen DeGeneres arrive at the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday, April 26, 2008, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. DeGeneres is putting the state Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage into action — she and actress Portia de Rossi plan to wed, DeGeneres announced during a taping of her talk show Thursday May 15.

LOS ANGELES - Ellen DeGeneres is putting the California Supreme Court ruling in favor of gay marriage into action — she and Portia de Rossi plan to wed, DeGeneres announced during a taping of her talk show.

DeGeneres was taping the episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on Thursday, the day the state's high court struck down California laws against gay marriage, and it was to air Friday, a person close to the production said.

The person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly, spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.

Citing the court's ruling, DeGeneres said she and girlfriend de Rossi ("Ally McBeal," "Nip/Tuck") would be getting married.

De Rossi, 35, who was in the studio, and DeGeneres, 50, were applauded by audience members, the person close to the production said.

Calls and e-mails late Thursday to DeGeneres' publicist were not immediately returned.

The court ruling means same-sex couples could tie the knot in as little as a month. However, religious and social conservatives are seeking to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would undo the Supreme Court ruling and ban gay marriage.

DeGeneres has boldly used TV before to make a stand for gay rights.

In 1997, she brought her character on the ABC sitcom "Ellen" out of the closet, making the show the first on prime-time network TV to have an openly gay lead. The move drew cheers from gay civil rights organizations but was condemned by some religious groups.

A month before, DeGeneres had proclaimed from the cover of Time magazine that she was a lesbian.

DeGeneres and the glamorous de Rossi have been a familiar couple at Hollywood events, including the Academy Awards. Previously, DeGeneres had a high-profile relationship with actress Anne Heche.

In a 2005 interview with Allure magazine, the comedian said she hoped she and de Rossi are "together the rest of our lives."

"I never would have thought my life would have turned out this way," DeGeneres told the magazine. "To have money. Or to have a gorgeous girlfriend. I just feel so lucky with everything in my life right now."

WHAT THE GAY MARRIAGE RULING WON'T DO

By JOHN CLOUD, Time.com

May 16, 2008 -- Dozens of gay and lesbian couples attend a street celebration of Thursday's California Supreme Court ruling declaring that gay couples in the nation's biggest state can marry — a monumental but perhaps short-lived victory for the gay rights movement Thursday May 15, 2008 in West Hollywood, Calif. Same-sex couples could tie the knot in as little as a month. But the window could close soon after — religious and social conservatives are pressing to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in November that would undo the Supreme Court ruling and ban gay marriage

A little more than an hour after the California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that gay couples can legally wed, one of the plaintiffs in the case, Stuart Gaffney, was exultant. Speaking for himself and his partner of 21 years, Gaffney told a press conference, "This is the happiest and most romantic day of our lives." Really?

Gaffney and his boyfriend should consider a gay cruise, or just a walk in the park before the weather turns hot. As sweeping as they can be, court decisions are not romantic. The sentiment that courts can deliver happiness is one cherished by generations of civil rights attorneys (and, apparently, their plaintiffs), but before we get too excited, we might pause to consider what the California court did not - and could not - deliver: legal equality for gay couples. As I pointed out in an earlier story, more than a thousand federal laws apply to married couples, and many of them accord substantial benefits in an array of programs, from Social Security to food stamps to federal housing. Gay couples in California will now be able to wed under state law, as those in Massachusetts can, but their marriages will still be something less than what straight Californians enjoy.

I am hoping for invitations to some lavish gay beach weddings in the next few months, but at the end of the year, the gays who stage those weddings will still be filing separate 1040s. That's not going to change any time soon, since both John McCain and Barack Obama (and, for that matter, Hillary Rodham Clinton) share the same position on equality for gay couples: they oppose it. Neither candidate would end federal discrimination against gays who want to marry.

One of the most puzzling things to me about heat for Obama on the left is that the Senator has taken such retrograde positions on gays. A little more than a year ago, after Peter Pace, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Chicago Tribune that he believes gay sex is "immoral," Obama initially declined to disagree with him. Obama's campaign waited hours before making clear that gays aren't actually immoral. (Thanks so much!) Later in the year, Obama's campaign enlisted the support of a Christianist entertainer, Donnie McClurkin, who publicly advocates the idiocy that people can change their sexuality by praying to Jesus.

Obama would benefit from reading the California court decision. At enormous length (nearly 30,000 words) and with great clarity, the court laid to rest all the silly arguments against marriage equality marshaled by the right over the last few years. Three quick examples of such arguments:
1. What gays really want is a wholly new right, the right to "gay marriage." The court answered by citing Perez v. Sharp, its own 1948 decision legalizing interracial marriage: "The court did not characterize the constitutional right that the plaintiffs in that case sought to obtain as 'a right to interracial marriage,' and did not dismiss the plaintiffs' constitutional challenge on the ground that such marriages never had been permitted in California. Instead, the Perez decision focused on... the importance to an individual of the freedom to join in marriage with the person of one's choice... It is a fundamental right of free men."
2. Marriage exists mainly for the purpose of protecting society by encouraging stable homes for children. The obvious retort to this position is that plenty of straight couples don't have children, and yet they can still marry. Those opposed to gay marriage answer this objection by saying that the state can't go around inquiring which straight couples are fertile and which are infertile; they do know, though, that no gay couple can have kids on its own. The California court's wonderfully dismissive response: "If that were an accurate and adequate explanation for the absence of such a limitation, it would follow that in instances in which the state is able to make a determination of an individual's fertility without such an inquiry, it would be constitutionally permissible for the state to preclude an individual who is incapable of bearing children from entering into marriage." Not even the most hard-core opponent of marriage equality takes that position.
3. If gays are allowed to marry, it will send a message to straight people not only that having children isn't important, but that it doesn't really matter whether kids are raised by their biological parents. The court's response: "Although we appreciate the genuine concern for the well-being of children underlying that position, we conclude this claim lacks merit... Our recognition that the core substantive rights encompassed by the constitutional right to marry apply to same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples does not imply in any way that it is unimportant or immaterial to the state whether a child is raised by his or her biological mother and father. We do not alter or diminish either the legal responsibilities that biological parents owe to their children or the substantial incentives that the state provides to a child's biological parents to enter into and raise their child in a stable, long-term committed relationship."

I could go on - the court certainly does - but suffice to say that this ruling effectively ends the academic debate over whether marriage inequality can be justified. By taking on virtually every objection to marriage rights for same-sex couples, even the most transparently bigoted, the court has produced a document that will be cited for generations. By comparison, the 2004 Massachusetts decision legalizing gay marriage in that state was much less ambitious. The California ruling will undoubtedly fuel the efforts of those who want to amend the U.S. and California constitutions to ban gay marriage, but for now it's enough to enjoy the court's bracingly simple money quote: "An individual's sexual orientation - like a person's race or gender - does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights." I just hope someone alerts the candidates for President. View this article on Time.com

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NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL NEWS

 NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL:

CALIFORNIA SUPREME COURT OVERTURNS GAY MARRIAGE BAN

May 17, 2008 -- The battle is far from over, even in California. Opponents of giving gay couples the respect, benefits, obligations and protections that come with marriage are already mobilizing to try to nullify the historic decision through a proposed state constitutional amendment likely to appear on the November ballot. All three presidential candidates oppose same-sex marriage, although the two Democrats at least support recognition of civil unions.

Still, the California verdict was a major victory for civil rights. At issue in the case was a ban on same-sex marriage based on a law enacted in 1977 and a statewide initiative approved by voters in 2000. Both defined marriage as available only to a man and woman.

In striking down the ban for violating state constitutional provisions protecting equality and fundamental rights, the court’s 121-page opinion fittingly drew on a 1948 decision in which California’s high court removed the bar to interracial marriage 19 years before the United States Supreme Court followed suit.

The new opinion found that “the right of an individual to establish a legally recognized family with a person of one’s choice” is fundamental. The court said California’s strong domestic partnership statute was not enough to solve the inequality problem.

“An individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold rights,” wrote Chief Justice Ronald George, first appointed to the bench by Gov. Ronald Reagan.

He noted that “tradition alone” did not justify the denial of a constitutional right to same-sex couples, any more than it did to interracial couples. Coming on the heels of John McCain’s rant against so-called “activist judges,” the decision provides a refreshing example of a Republican-dominated state court transcending ideology and political pressures to render a scrupulously fair ruling based on law, precedents and common sense.

It is unclear what impact this ruling will have on the presidential elections. Polls show the nation divided on the issue, and there remains considerable debate over how a similar decision by Massachusetts’ high court affected the 2004 election. Same-sex marriage is the kind of issue that is likely to resonate with socially conservative voters. But neither of the Democratic candidates supports gay marriage, and voters this year seem far more focused on a shaky economy, a seemingly endless war and skyrocketing gas prices.

What matters more than election tactics is that the California court’s ruling stands, and that voters reject the ballot initiative. It is encouraging that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he will uphold the ruling and oppose the antigay ballot measure.

Since the presidential candidates’ positions on gay marriage seem based more on tactics than principle, we do not expect them to shift ground. We would like to hear all of them support Mr. Schwarzenegger in opposing a constitutional amendment. Mr. McCain’s reaction that he “supports the right of the people of California” rather than judges to decide the question was not encouraging.

NEARLY ONE IN FOUR GAY AND LESBIAN ADULTS LACK HEALTH INSURANCE

Thomas Jackson, Gay News Digest.com

May 20, 2008 -- According to a recent national survey conducted by Harris InteractiveR, nearly one in four gay and lesbian adults lack health insurance and are nearly twice as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to have no health insurance coverage. When asked, 22 percent of gay and lesbian survey respondents reported having no health insurance, compared to only 12 percent of heterosexual adults in the survey.

The new nationwide survey of 2,710 U.S. adults, (ages 18 and over), of whom 343 self identified as gay or lesbian (which includes an oversample of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults), was conducted online between April 7 and 15, 2008, by Harris Interactive, a global market research and consulting firm, in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., a strategic public relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise in the GLBT market.

"We know the problem of the uninsured has reached crisis proportions in this country and, unfortunately, this survey shows that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community is today at greater risk. What GLBT households and all Americans deserve and need is affordable access to quality health care that results in positive outcomes and facilitates prevention, wellness and chronic care coordination," said Peter Francel CEBS, Head of Sales-Product Group for Aetna. "We must step up all efforts to serve the uninsured and take the lead in transforming our health care system for not only our GLBT members but all those who are not covered by health insurance today," he added, noting that Aetna's GLBT friendly workplace policies have earned the company a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index since 2002.

When asked about factors that influence their likelihood to consider specific health insurers, almost the same number of gay and lesbian adults said that it was important to them that the health insurance company provide domestic partner health coverage for companies to whom they supply health insurance (85%) and to their own employees (84%).

Also, 79 percent of gay and lesbian adults reported that seeing a print advertisement for a health insurance company that provides information about insurance products and speaks to gay persons with images of gay and lesbian people would be an important factor on their likelihood of considering the company's health insurance products. Assuming factors such as price, quality, and convenience were not considerations, nearly 8 out of 10 (78 percent) gay and lesbian respondents said they would be likely to consider an insurance provider or plan that was marketing to the GLBT community and 67 percent said they would be likely to consider a health insurer if they knew that the agent selling the health insurance plan also was openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

"Studies consistently show that gay and lesbian consumers are far more likely to focus their spending on companies that sensitively and specifically reach out to them," said Colleen Dermody, Vice President of Witeck-Combs Communications. "GLBT consumers place a high value on brands, including health insurance companies, that earn and grow respect within the community. GLBT consumers are among the most motivated to 'vote' with their dollars and to seek out brands they believe to be very friendly and supportive of the GLBT community."

Methodology

Harris Interactive conducted the study online within the United States between April 7 and 15, 2008, among 2,710 adults (ages 18 and over), of whom 2,303 indicated they are heterosexual and 343 self-identified as gay or lesbian (this includes an over-sample of GLBT adults). No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. A full methodology and data tables are available at www.harrisinteractive.com.

About Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc.

Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc is the nation's premier marketing communications and consulting firm, specializing
in developing and implementing effective strategies reaching the gay and lesbian consumer market. With 15 years experience in this unique market, Witeck-Combs Communications not only serves as a bridge between corporate America and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender consumers (GLBT), but also provides counsel to countless non-profit organizations that aim to educate the public on gay and lesbian issues or to better reach their GLBT membership.

In April 2003, American Demographics magazine identified Bob Witeck and Wes Combs as two of 25 experts over the last 25 years who have made significant contributions to the fields of demographics, market research, media and trend spotting for their path breaking work on the gay and lesbian market, and in 2006 Bob Witeck and Wes Combs co-authored Business Inside Out: Capturing Millions of Brand Loyal Gay Consumers (Kaplan Publishing), considered the first-ever book on marketing insights, practical tips and strategies targeting the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender market. They have appeared in worldwide media outlets including Fortune, CNBC, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, Ad Age, New York Times and Washington Post. For more information visit www.witeckcombs.com.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms.

LOST PARROT TELLS VET HIS ADDRESS

Weird News.com

TOKYO (May 21) - When Yosuke the parrot  flew out of his cage and got lost, he did exactly what he had been taught - recite his name and address to a stranger willing to help.

Police rescued the African grey parrot two weeks ago from a neighbor's roof in the city of Nagareyama, near Tokyo. After spending a night at the station, he was transferred to a nearby veterinary hospital while police searched for clues, local policeman Shinjiro Uemura said.

He kept mum with the cops, but began chatting after a few days with the vet.

"I'm Mr. Yosuke Nakamura," the bird told the veterinarian, according to Uemura. The parrot also provided his full home address, down to the street number, and even entertained the hospital staff by singing songs.

"We checked the address, and what do you know, a Nakamura family really lived there. So we told them we've found Yosuke," Uemura said.

The Nakamura family told police they had been teaching the bird its name and address for about two years.

But Yosuke apparently wasn't keen on opening up to police officials.

"I tried to be friendly and talked to him, but he completely ignored me," Uemura said.

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MOYERS: "DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA IS A SERIES OF NARROW ESCAPES, AND WE MAY BE RUNNING OUT OF LUCK"

By Bill Moyers, Doubleday

For all of America's shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, "The system works." Now all bets are off. The following is an excerpt from Bill Moyers' new book, "Moyers on Democracy" (Doubleday, 2008).

Democracy in America is a series of narrow escapes, and we may be running out of luck. The reigning presumption about the American experience, as the historian Lawrence Goodwyn has written, is grounded in the idea of progress, the conviction that the present is "better" than the past and the future will bring even more improvement. For all of its shortcomings, we keep telling ourselves, "The system works."

Now all bets are off. We have fallen under the spell of money, faction, and fear, and the great American experience in creating a different future together has been subjugated to individual cunning in the pursuit of wealth and power -and to the claims of empire, with its ravenous demands and stuporous distractions. A sense of political impotence pervades the country -- a mass resignation defined by Goodwyn as "believing the dogma of 'democracy' on a superficial public level but not believing it privately." We hold elections, knowing they are unlikely to bring the corporate state under popular control. There is considerable vigor at local levels, but it has not been translated into new vistas of social possibility or the political will to address our most intractable challenges. Hope no longer seems the operative dynamic of America, and without hope we lose the talent and drive to cooperate in the shaping of our destiny.

The earth we share as our common gift, to be passed on in good condition to our children's children, is being despoiled. Private wealth is growing as public needs increase apace. Our Constitution is perilously close to being consigned to the valley of the shadow of death, betrayed by a powerful cabal of secrecy-obsessed authoritarians. Terms like "liberty" and "individual freedom" invoked by generations of Americans who battled to widen the 1787 promise to "promote the general welfare" have been perverted to create a government primarily dedicated to the welfare of the state and the political class that runs it. Yes, Virginia, there is a class war and ordinary people are losing it. It isn't necessary to be a Jeremiah crying aloud to a sinful Jerusalem that the Lord is about to afflict them for their sins of idolatry, or Cassandra, making a nuisance of herself as she wanders around King Priam's palace grounds wailing "The Greeks are coming." Or Socrates, the gadfly, stinging the rump of power with jabs of truth. Or even Paul Revere, if horses were still in fashion. You need only be a reporter with your eyes open to see what's happening to our democracy. I have been lucky enough to spend my adult life as a journalist, acquiring a priceless education in the ways of the world, actually getting paid to practice one of my craft's essential imperatives: connect the dots.

The conclusion that we are in trouble is unavoidable. I report the assault on nature evidenced in coal mining that tears the tops off mountains and dumps them into rivers, sacrificing the health and lives of those in the river valleys to short-term profit, and I see a link between that process and the stock-market frenzy which scorns long-term investments -- genuine savings -- in favor of quick turnovers and speculative bubbles whose inevitable bursting leaves insiders with stuffed pockets and millions of small stockholders, pensioners, and employees out of work, out of luck, and out of hope.

And then I see a connection between those disasters and the repeal of sixty-year-old banking and securities regulations designed during the Great Depression to prevent exactly that kind of human and economic damage. Who pushed for the removal of that firewall? An administration and Congress who are the political marionettes of the speculators, and who are well rewarded for their efforts with indispensable campaign contributions. Even honorable opponents of the practice get trapped in the web of an electoral system that effectively limits competition to those who can afford to spend millions in their run for office. Like it or not, candidates know that the largesse on which their political futures depend will last only as long as their votes are satisfactory to the sleek "bundlers" who turn the spigots of cash on and off.

The property qualifications for federal office that the framers of the Constitution expressly chose to exclude for demonstrating an unseemly "veneration for wealth" are now de facto in force and higher than the Founding Fathers could have imagined. "Money rules Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us." Those words were spoken by Populist orator Mary Elizabeth Lease during the prairie revolt that swept the Great Plains slightly more than 120 years after the Constitution was signed. They are true today, and that too, spells trouble.

Then I draw a line to the statistics that show real wages lagging behind prices, the compensation of corporate barons soaring to heights unequaled anywhere among industrialized democracies, the relentless cheeseparing of federal funds devoted to public schools, to retraining for workers whose jobs have been exported, and to programs of food assistance and health care for poor children, all of which snatch away the ladder by which Americans with scant means but willing hands and hearts could work and save their way upward to middle-class independence. And I connect those numbers to our triumphant reactionaries' campaigns against labor unions and higher minimum wages, and to their success in reframing the tax codes so as to strip them of their progressive character, laying the burdens of Atlas on a shrinking middle class awash in credit card debt as wage earners struggle to keep up with rising costs for health care, for college tuitions, for affordable housing -- while huge inheritances go untouched, tax shelters abroad are legalized, rates on capital gains are slashed, and the rich get richer and with each increase in their wealth are able to buy themselves more influence over those who make and those who carry out the laws.

Edward R. Murrow told his generation of journalists: "No one can eliminate prejudices -- just recognize them." Here is my bias: extremes of wealth and poverty cannot be reconciled with a genuinely democratic politics. When the state becomes the guardian of power and privilege to the neglect of justice for the people as a whole, it mocks the very concept of government as proclaimed in the preamble to our Constitution; mocks Lincoln's sacred belief in "government of the people, by the people, and for the people"; mocks the democratic notion of government as "a voluntary union for the common good" embodied in the great wave of reform that produced the Progressive Era and the two Roosevelts. In contrast, the philosophy popularized in the last quarter century that "freedom" simply means freedom to choose among competing brands of consumer goods, that taxes are an unfair theft from the pockets of the successful to reward the incompetent, and that the market will meet all human needs while government itself becomes the enabler of privilege -- the philosophy of an earlier social Darwinism and laissez-faire capitalism dressed in new togs -- is as subversive as Benedict Arnold's betrayal of the Revolution he had once served. Again, Mary Lease: "The great evils which are cursing American society and undermining the foundations of the republic flow not from the legitimate operation of the great human government which our fathers gave us, but they come from tramping its plain provisions underfoot."

Our democracy has prospered most when it was firmly anchored in the idea that "We the People" -- not just a favored few -- would identify and remedy common distempers and dilemmas and win the gamble our forebears undertook when they espoused the radical idea that people could govern themselves wisely. Whatever and whoever tries to supplant that with notions of a wholly privatized society of competitive consumers undermines a country that, as Gordon S. Wood puts it in his landmark book The Radicalism of the American Revolution, discovered its greatness "by creating a prosperous free society belonging to obscure people with their workaday concerns and their pecuniary pursuits of happiness" -- a democracy that changed the lives of "hitherto neglected and despised masses of common laboring people."

I wish I could say that journalists in general are showing the same interest in uncovering the dangerous linkages thwarting this democracy. It is not for lack of honest and courageous individuals who would risk their careers to speak truth to power -- a modest risk compared to those of some journalists in authoritarian countries who have been jailed or murdered for the identical "crime." But our journalists are not in control of the instruments they play. As conglomerates swallow up newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, and networks, and profit rather than product becomes the focus of corporate effort, news organizations -- particularly in television -- are folded into entertainment divisions. The "news hole" in the print media shrinks to make room for advertisements, and stories needed by informed citizens working together are pulled in favor of the latest celebrity scandals because the media moguls have decided that uncovering the inner workings of public and private power is boring and will drive viewers and readers away to greener pastures of pabulum. Good reporters and editors confront walls of resistance in trying to place serious and informative reports over which they have long labored. Media owners who should be sounding the trumpets of alarm on the battlements of democracy instead blow popular ditties through tin horns, undercutting the basis for their existence and their First Amendment rights.

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OF INTEREST

 

BREAST CANCER HELP TO RAISE FUNDS WITH 5K

Stroll On Ocean Beach Walk to Raise Funds for Life-Savings Early Detection Equipment

May 16, 2008 (Bay Shore, New York) Enjoy the summer breeze while supporting a good cause. Breast Cancer Help, Inc. is proud to announce it will be holding its 1st Annual Stroll on Ocean Beach   5K Walk to raise funds for life-saving early detection equipment. The Walk will take place on Saturday, June 14 at Ocean Beach, Fire Island, New York beginning at 10:00 a.m.  There will be special reduced fare ($5.00 roundtrip) ferry for participants leaving from the Maple Avenue dock to Ocean Beach at 8:00 a.m.  Donations from this event will help fund a digital mammography system at Southside Hospital, as well as to support programs at the Long Island Cancer Help and Wellness Center located in Bay Shore.

Breast Cancer Help, Inc. is a non-profit grassroots organization with a focus on action and advocacy to eradicate breast cancer.  Founded in 1994 by breast cancer survivor, Lorraine Pace, Breast Cancer Help, Inc. uses a multi-pronged approach in the fight against breast cancer and other cancers. In 2003, the organization opened the Long Island Cancer Help and Wellness Center, originally in Lindenhurst and has since expanded to its current location.  Through the Center, patients and survivors of breast cancer and other cancers have access to support and other wellness programs such as yoga, reflexology, reiki and more.  The Center has pushed to increase cancer awareness, while providing patients and survivors support for the challenges they face.

“Ocean Beach is a summer destination and an ideal location to hold this fundraising walk,” said Lorraine Pace, co-president of Breast Cancer Help, Inc. “We hope that Long Island residents will join us for a day of enjoying one of Long Island’s most beautiful places as we raise funds to help save lives in the fight against breast cancer.”

The registration deadline is on June 2, 2008. To register for Stroll On Ocean Beach or to find out more about Breast Cancer Help, Inc., call (631) 675-9003 or visit www.breastcancerhelpinc.org.

 

 

Breast Cancer Help, Inc. is a not-for-profit grass roots organization with a focus on action and advocacy to eradicate breast cancer.  Founded in 1994 by Lorraine Pace, a breast cancer survivor, and Father Thomas Arnao, Breast Cancer Help uses a four pronged approach to promoting education and awareness of breast cancer issues. The first of these prongs is the West Islip breast cancer mapping project initiated by Lorraine Pace, which mobilized patients and pinpointed breast cancer clusters. This original mapping project, which spearheaded the breast cancer environmental movement, has now spread to other parts of New York, the U.S. and abroad. Since its inception, the group’s goal has been to raise awareness and promote education for the cause, treatment, and cure of the disease; while maintaining a focus on action and advocacy to eradicate breast cancer.  It has accomplished this by mobilizing patients into coalitions leading to breast cancer mapping projects, serving as advocates to change state and local laws to protect breast cancer patients, and working to bring about positive changes in protecting the environment.  Breast Cancer Help has helped to ensure that Long Islanders have access to the best possible diagnosis and care through the purchase of cutting edge medical and research equipment. It has also supported research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. In 2003, Breast Cancer Help opened its Long Island Cancer Help and Wellness Center, in the Lindenhurst Rainbow Center. In April 2006, they relocated to North Shore LIJ Southside Hospital in Bay Shore to provide increased cancer awareness to promote education and early detection while providing patients and survivors with much needed support.

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COMMUNITY BULLETIN BOARD

 

DUNE POINT. Neat and clean oceanfront rentals available daily, weekly, weekends, seasonal. Call 631 597-6261. Visit our website: http://www.dunepointfireisland.com/

 

DOK-TA-HOUSE MOVING. We go down on everything, but the price. Jack 631 597-6638, Bob 631 597-9756, Cell 631 671-9688.

LIMO SERVICE. Rainbow Rides. Prompt, Courteous Service. Alex Bender 516 351-4481.

LONG ISLAND THEATRE FOLK always read the latest LI show biz news on  http://www.debsliweb.homestead.com/.  It's got casting calls, audition information, theatre directories and more. Check it out.

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MOTS AND NOT SO BON MOTS

 

SEX WITH A COWBOY

Prior to her trip to Texas , Buffy (a New Yorker),  confided to her co-workers she had three goals  for her trip to the Lone Star State:

1. She wanted to taste some real Texas Bar-B-Que.

2. She wanted to take in a bona fide rodeo. And..
3. She wanted to have sex with a real cowboy.

Upon returning, the girls were curious
as to how she fared.

'Let me tell you, they have a tree down there called a
Mesquite and when they slow cook that brisket over that Mesquite , it's ooooh so good. The taste is unbelievable!'

'And I went to a real rodeo. Talk about athletes... those guys wrestle full grown bulls! They ride horses at a full gallop, then jump off the horses and grab the bull by the horns and throw them to the ground! It is just incredible!'

They then asked, 'Well tell us, did you have sex with a real cowboy?'

'Are you kidding?
When I saw the outline of the condom they carry in the back pocket of their jeans, I changed my mind!'

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