18 July 2013

Stand Your Ground, Montauk Style

Back in the day, when the Feds set out to do something, it got done: the iconic Montauk Lighthouse was constructed in just six months.  But when George (Washington, that is) signed the authorization for this first-ever federal lighthouse in New York State, I am guessing he had no idea of the link that would later develop to another George (Zimmerman, that is.)

Y’see, the magnificent lighthouse stands at the tip of Long Island, and the local charter and recreation fishing fleet drifts and trolls up and back under its majestic oversight. The Lighthouse sees all, and I am confident that last Sunday she winced, and silently communicated with First George, asking, “Ugh, WTF have done here in these colonies?”

Here’s what happened:  A local charter boat was trolling under the light (for my landlubber readers, “trolling” involves motoring slowly, dragging thin wire lines with a fish-catching rig at the far end. The idea is to fool near-sighted bluefish, or better still, striped bass, into thinking the hook-bearing gizmo at the end of the wire is a baitfish, or even a school of them.)  All local fishermen know to avoid crossing too closely behind a trolling fishboat.  Still, on a busy day, stuff happens. Last Sunday, a local recreational fisherman crossed too close to the stern of a charter boat and cut his wires.  The aggrieved charter captain steamed up alongside the offender, doubtless to express his views on the matter. (No, we have no cellphone recording. Note to self: check with NSA). The line cutting pilot, who will surely assert he feared for the lives of his crew as the charter boat steamed toward him, “stood his ground” and employed the weapon at hand--a six ounce lead sinker-- which he fast-balled at the charter boat, breaking a window that showered the occupants of the pilothouse with glass. At the receiving end of the missile, personal injuries were only psychological, but apparently nevertheless real.  The police were called, there was a chase of some sort, the stand-your-ground sinker thrower ultimately returned to the dock and submitted to the authorities, the charter boat guy replaced his hooks, went back to work, and finished off his charter trip with the catch of a 35 pound striped bass.  The big question now is whether CNN will cover the story. Anderson Cooper, are you getting this?

Yup, Montauk is hitting the big time these days.  New restaurants abound, real estate sales and rental prices are climbing, and to show you just how “in” this small fishing-village-with-a-drinking-problem has become, last weekend three young women were seen biking about the village and the harbor area attired only in sneakers and shorts.  While many consider this topless exhibitionism to be evidence of Montauk’s new social status, I have it from an unimpeachable source that this was a test mission of what may be the new political reality: if Messrs. Weiner and Spitzer win their races in New York City, next summer the young women will apologize, seek forgiveness, and run for Town Board.

A final news piece:  Last summer, a guy rented the Crabby Cowboy, a waterside hot dog and lobster roll place just down the road from us, for a bash on the night of July 3.  He had the necessary Town permit for a gathering of 800 people.  Hah. Facebook, Twitter, email, texting and whatever brought in thousands of uninviteds. The parking lot was overwhelmed, cars blocked the road for a half mile, and when the inevitable happened and a drunk fell (jumped?) off the bulkhead, the ambulance could not reach the facility--ditto the cops, except on foot. The drunk was pulled out of the lake by the partygoers, no harm, no foul, but the Crabby Cowboy was out for 2013.   So this year, the party was moved across the lake to the Montauk Yacht Club, a much grander facility with acres of parking and grounds.  Some 4,000 people showed up, the party was peaceful and successful, and, as promised, the music stopped at 11 P.M. sharp. (I know that for a fact because I looked at the bedside clock when the glass in my windows stopped vibrating.)  So was everybody happy?  Not a chance:  The Democrats on the town board criticized the Republicans on the Town Board for issuing the permit without more extensive debate. (No, the Board does not have a filibuster rule....yet.)  The local newspaper was chock full of angry letters from the Montauk Nanny contingent, and the publisher piled on with an editorial chastising the Republicans.

The nature of the complaints? Well,the style of the music bothered some (Glenn Miller it was not),  others groused about the fact that the police overtime cost might climb as high as $2,500, though there was no estimate of the drunk-driving fine revenue which was sure to follow, and the organizers were defamed as being, gasp, “out-of-towners”. ( The party host has a house here on East Lake Drive, but he does have an apartment in New York City, a/k/a Sodom-on-the-Hudson.)

With all that going on, nobody seems to be focusing on the real problems in Montauk:  so far we have had too much rain, fog, humidity, and the only supermarket in town does not carry Red Stripe.  Pinks has been after me to fix all those problems, but I am retired.

A bientot.