Atlantis Alumni

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My Late '60s Nostalgia

There was a special time, beginning about 40 years ago with the "Summer Of Love" in 1967, when many young people, including myself at age 18, were attracted to the gentleness, optimism, and the promise of peace and love that marked the late 1960s. However, not all of us so affected became "hippies," did "Acid," or moved to San Francisco. I was busy trying to figure out what to do in college besides avoiding the draft. I had no money so the summer of 1967 was a working summer for me. I needed to make some money to cover expenses when I returned to school.

In mid 1967 I was just becoming aware of the counter culture that was developing. A friend "turned me on" to the Beatles "Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band" album. Sometime that year or in early 1968, I discovered "The Marconi Experiment," a free form, progressive FM radio show hosted by "Herman" (Dave Herman) on WMMR in Philadelphia. This show was my connection to the "movement" of the late 60s. Contemporary music was so much a part of what was happening then in the country. Musicians and their songs were often unabashedly political. Country Joe And The Fish, Big Brother And The Holding Company With Janis Joplin, Donavan, The Jefferson Airplane, It's A Beautiful Day, Spanky And Our Gang, The Doors, Phil Ochs...these were just a few of the bands and performers that I was listening to during the 1967-1970 period. Songs like "White Bird," "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," "Small Circle Of Friends," and "Give A Damn," seem naively Utopian to us today, after the past 40 years that brought us the cynicism, greed, and war mongering of Nixon, Reagan, and the Bush father and son acts, interrupted only briefly by the mediocrity of Gerald Ford, the incompetance of Jimmy Carter, and the grave disappointment of the Clinton years.

I would gladly return our country to the late 1960s promise of a decent, peaceful, love-filled society if I could. Since then we've gone awry as a nation with both domestic and foreign policies that are selfish, arrogant, and reactionary. Unfortunately, I don't see the possibility of this turning around anytime soon, especially when I look at the front runners in the current crop of presidential wannabees. I yearn for a return to the promise and hopefulness of the late 1960s even as I realize the improbability of it. It was a great time to be alive and young. My idealism, instilled in me then, still remains even if tarnished and buried under the weight of the decades that have passed since those special few years that came and went all too quickly.

(Thanks to for the graphic)


Monday, July 30, 2007

A Full Circle

(please click on the photo on the left to enlarge it.)

This past weekend a friend from New Jersey, Paul Orlando, visited Cherry Grove.
Paul and his partner Charles used to be Grove regulars, but in recent years
they have not often visited and are selling their home here. So it was a sentimental
journey to see them again, and I had wanted all summer to give Paul
a copy of "Queer Collection" which has a story based on certain adventures in his life.

After he recounted an early period of his life several years ago, I asked him if I could use the material in a short story. He consented and I wrote a piece called "The Golden Tattoo." With a certain amount of artistic license the story recreates a period in America's history, that time in the early 1970s when the country was full of hopes for a better future. These dreams are intermingled with the story of how Paul came out as a gay man.

During a few years when another gay magazine considered the story for publication but ultimately rejected it, I hoped somehow the story would eventually be published.Then I heard of the new publication "The Queer Collection" and sent the story out yet again.That's frequently the way it works in publishing fiction. I was pleasantly surprised when"Queer Collection" accepted the story last Fall and published it this Spring.

This past Saturday I was finally able to give Paul a copy of the magazine with the story.
Both he and his life were great inspirations, and I hope he enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

In the photo: a picture of Grove friends dinning in the Pines, taken in 2003, the year that Paul recounted the fascinating story of his early adulthood. Paul is the handsome gent in the foreground left, seated next to his partner Charles. I'm next to Charles, in a yellow shirt. Among the other Grove friends, the waving, smiling man in the background was Jerry Ehrlich, now no longer with us, but fondly remembered as one of the finest persons Jim and I have ever met and known on Fire Island.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

An Edwards Iowa Win Means What?

"Heavenly Blue" morning glories. This is one of my favorite flowers but one of the more difficult to cultivate into a fully blossoming plant. I've found that the best results are achieved by purchasing potted specimens rather than growing them from seed.

I'm listening to the political shows on TV this morning while I'm typing this morning's blog entry. Presidential politics is the hot topic. While HC and Obama are the main subjects, John Edwards is currently ahead in the very important Iowa Primary, and he could change the entire dynamic if he were to win Iowa. The team of political pundits on "Meet The Press" is putting a lot of emphasis on the win, place and show final outcome of the Iowa caucuses. Their analysis is helpful in understanding the Democratic primary process.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Weekend Events In The Grove

The beach here in Cherry Grove is really quite beautiful. The white quartz sand lends itself to all sorts of fun activities including sand sculptures. Bob Russell took this shot of one person's sand art in early July.

Speaking of art, the Arts Project Of Cherry Grove annual community art show opens today at the Community House. This give local artists a venue to display and sell their creations.

Last evening Dan and I attended a lovely party at "Blueberry Hill," one of the largest homes in the Grove. Hosts Bob and Dick know how to throw a party complete with a full bar and wonderful food.

This weekend we'll also get a chance to see our Philadelphia friends Gary and David who are guesting with our friend Juan. We're looking forward to chatting with them all.


Friday, July 27, 2007

The Hillary And Obama Show

Another great picture by Bob Russell. Bob is Dan's brother Bill's partner. This is Nikko, our 15 year old Burmese beauty.

Is Obama's strategy of touting himself as the "change" candidate going to work? Some analysts think it's a smart move. Portray Hillary as "Bush Lite" while presenting himself as the real force for change. It will appeal to the Democratic base that is virulently anti-war. However, in the general election some of the Obama soundbites like "I'll talk to Chavez, etc." may hurt him. Andrew Sullivan has some new Gallup poll data on his blog today that shows Hillary losing to Giuliani but Obama beating both Giuliani and Thompson if the election were held today. Hillary's negatives are sky high. Sullivan wonders why any Democrat would prefer Hillary over Obama. It's an interesting question. Because she's a woman?


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Congress Can Correct The Supreme Court

The July 26 New York Times has an interesting article on what can be done to de-politicize the court by balancing out the hard line conservatives appointed by Bush. In a nutshell, Congress has the power to "adjust" the number of justices on the court. A Democratic Congress could increase the number in order to give a Democratic president the opportunity to appoint liberal justices:

If the current five-man majority persists in thumbing its nose at popular
values, the election of a Democratic president and Congress could provide a
corrective. It requires only a majority vote in both houses to add a justice or
two. Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative colleagues might do well to
bear in mind that the roll call of presidents who have used this option includes
not just Roosevelt but also Adams, Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln and Grant.

Of course, this assumes that the Democrats win the presidency in 2008 and maintain control of both houses of congress. It also assumes that the Democrats have the political will to reverse the backward course that the Roberts Court has charted - which is not a given. It does give us some hope that the damage done by the Bush-appointed neanderthals can be limited.

Photo: "Bradley" - by Bob Russell


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More OF The Same

Some passengers, children of our friends Michael and Tom, riding the Cherry Grove Rail Road during the annual garden tour.

Clinton and Obama are going at it. That's nice. They both have a pile of money so it will be a long fight.

Alberto Gonzales, the Attorney General without a memory, went before Congress again and lied, I mean, told them he couldn't recall.

And the show goes on...and on....and on.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kucinich YouTube Debate Support For Gay Marriage

Here's one more DRA photo...the dance company is "DARRELL GRAND MOULTRIE" dancing "Trois La Femme."

From the Democratic YouTube debate last evening, this question and answer caught my attention:

COOPER: Our next question is on a topic that got a lot of response from
YouTube viewers. Let's watch.
QUESTION: Hi. My name is Mary.
my name is Jen.
QUESTION: And we're from Brooklyn, New York.
If you were
elected president of the United States, would you allow us to be married to each
COOPER: Congressman Kucinich?
KUCINICH: Mary and Jen, the answer to
your question is yes. And let me tell you why.
Because if our Constitution
really means what it says, that all are created equal, if it really means what
it says, that there should be equality of opportunity before the law, then our
brothers and sisters who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender
should have the same rights accorded to them as anyone else, and that includes
the ability to have a civil marriage ceremony.
Yes, I support you. And
welcome to a better and a new America under a President Kucinich

If only that could happen. Other than Mike Gravel, the rest of the Democrats are opposed to same-sex marriage. My vote will go to a candidate who is courageous enough to support my right to marry my partner. I know I won't be voting for a Republican but I doubt that I will be voting for a Democrat.


Monday, July 23, 2007

More DRA Pix!

Here's the venue, at the home of Jon Biondo and Tim Horman, in the Pines. This is a fun event to shoot, although it's a little tough to fully enjoy it while concentrating on trying to get the best shots of these often fast moving performers!

(click to enlarge)


(all photos Copyright Jim Kelly)



Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fire Island Dance Festival In Pictures

The most spectacular and beautiful event of the summer on Fire Island. Dancers Responding To AIDS (DRA) brings so much talent to the Pines each year, and has raised well over a million dollars to fight HIV. The setting is gorgeous, with the Great South Bay as a backdrop.


(click on each photo to enlarge)



Host: Whoopi Goldberg

The cast takes a well-deserved bow.



Kirven J. Boyd



Saturday, July 21, 2007

An Interesting Scenario - Total Democratic Control

Another view from our roof deck looking North. The Great South Bay in the background separates Fire Island from Long Island and it's several miles wide.

America has really gotten off track under George Bush. This has largely be due to the fact that for the first six years of his presidency, Bush had a Republican controlled Congress that rubber stamped everything he did. We had "unitary" government, where both the executive and both houses of Congress are controlled by the same political party - the Republicans.

However, with the Republicans struggling to remain viable thanks to Bush's disastrous presidency, it now appears highly probable that they will not only loose the presidency in 2008, but the Democrats are poised to retain control over BOTH houses of Congress. In other words, the Democrats will have the same advantage of unitary government beginning in 2008, assuming this scenario plays out. This will present a wonderful opportunity for them to reverse course and jettison Bush's terrible domestic and foreign policies. But it will also put the Democrats on the hot seat - they will have to produce. It will be interesting to watch this play out. Let's see if the Republicans use this as a scare tactic by warning:"Don't give the Democrats total control of government." No matter that when they had it they screwed up the country.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Cherry Grove: Recent Break-Ins

Click on this picture to view the larger version. Kudos to Charlie Isola for keeping the community informed and for the good advice on what to do if you see something suspicious. I spoke with another police officer yesterday. They have someone in custody but they can't discuss the details yet. Let's hope they got the culprit. Still, we need to come together as a community and institute some sort of local crime prevention program, such as a community watch.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Stormy Day...And Some Other Thoughts

The early ferry wasn't very full on our trip over to America (Long Island) on Wednesday. The weather was threatening and before long the rains came. The storm hit hard on Long Island. Many roads were flooded. I went to one store, Best Buy in Patchogue, only to find out that they weren't sure they would even open because of the severity of the storm. We did our chores and returned to Cherry Grove on the 11:30 AM boat.

The freight boat on its way over to the Grove loaded with supplies.

Another freight boat containing construction supplies, and the garbage scow leaving the Pines harbor.

I spoke with a Suffolk County Police Officer late yesterday afternoon. I asked him if the police had apprehended any of the bad guys who are responsible for the recent crime spree in The Grove. He told me that they caught one individual, but he did not elaborate and apparently did not know what particular crime(s) that this individual was charged with.

Have you been following the free fall of the American dollar vs. European currencies? The last time we were in London a couple of years ago, we felt the pain of the unfavorable exchange rate at that time. It's worse now, with the dollar worth only about 1/2 a British Pound. Ouch!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cherry Grove - Party Town?

Yesterday was just about as perfect of a day as you can get here in Cherry Grove. It was sunny and warm, not too windy, and the water has warmed up to about 70 degrees, still too cool for the Florida "snow birds," but nice enough for me to spend three long sessions body surfing in the afternoon. Later, our little family (me, Dan, and the pets Bradley the dog and Nikko the cat) enjoyed cocktails on our roof deck. It was a beautiful evening. I took these pictures of the Grove from the deck.

On the down side, we continued to get reports of the burglaries and other unpleasant incidents that have taken place recently on the island. It's summertime and the popularity of the Grove as a "party-hardy" adult resort brings with it a certain element that creates problems requiring the presence of law enforcement. On Monday, a police helicopter circled the community while police on foot searched for suspects in a burglary. Some residents feel as though in summer the Grove morphs into a party town where anything goes. We have only about 300 homes here, yet we have SEVEN bars! We seem to lack the resolve as a community to organize and take back our town from the wild bar/party set that controls it in summer. One example of how out of control this has been is the noise problem that has existed here for years. Loud music is clearly audible in much of the community well into the wee hours most summer nights. There has been a lot of talk about it year after year, but nothing much has been done to control the problem. Another resident assigns the blame for this state of affairs as follows::

I blame our local civic organizations who would rather address raising
money and pretend that everything is ok than confront real issues and make waves. Were these disturbing recent events even given lip service at last Sunday's CGCAI/CGPOA (community association) meeting? I haven't heard that they were. Probably too busy dishing out the "I'm okay, you're okay bullshit."

That's a pretty damning assessment, but it is well past time that the community stands up for itself. Over a year ago I sent an email to the president of the community association with the following suggestion (among others):

12. Organize a town watch in conjunction with the Suffolk County Police to help
address pressing community concerns such as noise pollution.

I have noticed that another community on the Island, Ocean Beach, has some sort of auxiliary town youth corps that appears to serve a function similar to a town watch. Why not try this approach in The Grove?


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Scarborough/Ridley On Vitter

Dan (L) and I had dinner out last evening with friends Mel (C) and Edward (R) at Jumpin' Jacks Seafood House in Cherry Grove, a popular eatery located right on the beach. I thought the best items served were the steamers, which were big, tender, and delicious, and the broiled combination seafood platter that Dan ordered.

It was relaxing to dine out after our grueling 200 mile road trip on Monday to Maplewood, New Jersey. We paid a visit to Dan's father, who turns 99 this week. He still lives at home with 24 hour nursing care. After our visit we drove to Ft. Lee to do some fine sake shopping. This trip had me driving on four of the most notorious highways anywhere: the Belt Parkway, the Staten Island Expressway, The Cross Bronx Expressway, and the Long Island Expressway. I usually avoid the LIE, but the Cross Island was jammed so I took the LIE. The Cross Island was the only one of these tough highways that was a problem!

The AM replacement for Imus on MSNBC is former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough. He's mostly predictable. This morning he half-heartedly defended pig "family values" Republican Senator Daivd Vitter (R- LA), who came out of seclusion to hold a news conference yesterday to apologize to "those he let down" by frequenting the now famous DC Madam. Vitter, of course, all the while he was seeing prostitutes was beating up on gays and lesbians claiming we are a threat to marriage. What a creep. Anyway, Scarborough argued that Vitter had done enough by apologizing. "What more do his critics want him to do?" asked Scarborough. Well, one of the important differences between the Scarborough morning show and the former Imus trash is that Scarborough has one John Ridley as a co-host. Ridley often represents or articulates the "left" political position. Ridley told Scarborough that Vitter should have apologized to gays and lesbians for demonizing them all the while he was soiling his own marriage. Scarborough had to agree albeit reluctantly. It was a refreshing bit of honesty on national TV.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Iraq Dust Up!

Sunday morning political shows recap:

"Meet The Press" featured a heated discussion between Senators Webb and Graham about Iraq policy. Andrew Sullivan has a link to the video on his web site. It was interesting.

The other big discussion was about John McCain, and whether he can make a comeback from the free fall that his campaign is in. The jury is out on that one. I say good riddance. Now if we can get rid of the other backward candidates....about a dozen of them....


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Gravel - An American Patriot

Former Senator Mike Gravel, who is running for president, was, at first, not invited to join the HRC/LOGO debate that will take place in August between most of the Democratic candidates for president. This is in spite of the fact (or maybe because of it) that Gravel fully supports gay equality. However, HRC changed its mind citing "an enthusiastic community response" and has now invited Gravel to appear in the debate. One can imagine the tone of the "enthusiastic community response" that HRC received!
Will Gravel win the nomination much less be elected president? No, he's a dark horse candidate with little money and therefore little chance of getting very far in the American political system, which is all about money and the power and influence that money can buy. This is "democracy" American style. One can only wonder what the Founding Fathers would think of the way our political system functions today. They were upper class Lockeans so perhaps they would not be all that upset with money-based politics. But I do not believe that they would be too happy with the corruption of our politics wrought by the influence of money over everything and everybody political.
We ought to be thankful that people like Mike Gravel are willing to enter the fray, speak truth to power, and thereby at least raise the level of discourse to a higher plane that would exist if he were not running. Here's an anecdote that illustrates what I mean. Ms. Clinton and John Edwards were overheard, taped I believe, chatting about the need to weed out the lesser candidates from future debates. It seems as though they would prefer not to have to have their positions juxtaposed with those of real progressives like Gravel and Kucinich. However, one astute observer, Craig Crawford, who writes for the Congressional Quarterly, thinks that Ms. Clinton was being disingenuous. Interviewed on the Today Show, Crawford thinks that Hillary would actually prefer to keep the less monied candidates in the debates. This is because she could then stick basically to her talking points instead of having to go into detail about her positions. The bottom line is that either way these power candidates really don't want to have to face the fire of or be compared to progressives like Gravel. They would prefer to either exclude the likes of Gravel and Kucinich, or allow them in but not have to respond in detail as to why their positions are not as progressive as the long shot candidates like Gravel. So, be glad for Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich. It's thanks to them that we have any hope of forcing the politically mighty to say and do the right thing.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Constructio Ad Absurdem!

Our neighbors Walter Q and Renee have done their second consecutive annual installation at Walter's lot. Needless to say, it gets lots of attention from visiting onlookers and locals alike. What to make of it? Click on the photos to blow them up so you can read the signs.

Friday, July 13, 2007

HRC Pandering?

I've always been a bit leery of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), probably the most prominent gay rights organization in the country. They have always struck me as being a bit too mainstream, too conservative, and too willing to settle for less than full gay equality in exchange for supporting politicians. This year the group came under fire from activists and bloggers who claimed that HRC was more about fund raising and their own survival than about fighting for gay rights. Some observers have accused HRC of being too closely associated with the Democratic Party, and some have suggested that HRC has already decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for president, even though there are serious concerns on the part of some gay activists about her positions on gay rights. The latest flap has to so with the presidential debate that HRC and LOGO, the gay TV channel, will be sponsoring later this summer. HRC has declined to invite Senator Mike Gravel, a candidate who has a strong gay rights position, stronger than most of the other candidates. This seems to me like HRC is pandering to the mainstream candidates. HRC ought to invite all of the candidates, but especially those with the strongest gay rights positions. What are they afraid of?

Photo: a beachfront view in the Pines.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It's The Oil

Our presence in the Middle East, our occupation of Iraq, and our bases in places like Saudi Arabia, is widely acknowledged to be the primary irritant that drives militant Islamic hatred of the U.S. So, why are we there? Because we have "strategic security interests in the region." Translated: we need the oil. We've had almost 40 years to wean ourselves off of foreign oil since the first round of gas shortages and price hikes back in the early 1970s, yet we've done virtually nothing to become energy independent in all that time. This is a national disgrace and a wholesale failure of leadership on a grand scale. We're in for a big fall. It's just a matter of when. That's why Bush refuses to change course in Iraq. He knows that if we pull out of Iraq, the Shite government that will emerge after the civil war ends will be hostile to U.S. interests and would probably align itself with Iran. Both countries could then use their oil as a weapon against the U.S. We've created this mess with decades of disastrous foreign and domestic policies. Whatever happens with Iraq, we're in big trouble. That's the real reason why most of the major candidates for president on both sides of the aisle talk of a long term American presence in Iraq and in the region. It's the oil.

Photo: one of our favorite Pines beachfront houses


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Iraq Debacle

Four years into the war in Iraq and today we learn from the AP that the Iraqi government has not met ANY of the benchmarks that were set for them in conjunction with our "Surge" and the $10 billion a month we're spending there. I feel for those who have lost family members in this misadventure as their loss will be multiplied many times over as they come to realize the senselessness of the entire Iraq debacle. The rest of us can only imagine what good could have been done with the fantastic amount of money that Bush has squandered on the Iraq war. As even Republican senators begin jumping ship over Iraq, we can only wonder how many more lives will be lost before we get out, as we most surely will.

Photo: another short of a lush Fire Island Pines garden


Monday, July 9, 2007

A Conservation Tax?

Congressman John D. Dingell (D-MI), is considering proposing a "carbon tax," a measure that would tax the burning of all carbon-based fuels. The aim would be to force the country to move to more energy efficient and ecologically friendly forms of energy. However, the proposal is a gambit because Dingell is convinced that his proposal will generate a firestorm of opposition. He believes that Americans are not willing to pay the price to move to better forms of energy. He's probably right. We have the luxury, at least for now, of continuing down our path of energy gluttony and irresponsibility. I would actually favor a conservation tax on gasoline. We have to do something to end America's dependence on the automobile. But, this would have to be accompanied by a domestic Marshall Plan to reinvigorate mass transit. We need to get on the European Plan. They have been paying $6 a gallon for gas for a long time now. So they drive smaller cars that get much higher gas mileage. More importantly, they have much better mass transit and great train service. We're going to have to bite the bullet sooner or later. It will be painful, but the longer we wait the tougher it will be.

Photo: a favorite garden in the Pines


Sunday, July 8, 2007

If It's Sunday, It Must Be About Taxes

I've been reading about taxes this morning. I followed a few links on some of my regular sites and I ended up focusing on a couple of tax proposals that are new to me. One is something called the "Fair Tax." This proposal would end all federal income taxes on everybody and everything, including corporations, it would repeal the 16th Amendment, and do away with the IRS. The replacement tax would be a national sales tax of 23 percent with a rebate to taxpayers on their spending up to the poverty level. The rebate is supposed to add progressivity to the plan. I'm always suspicious of plans like these, which tend to be wildly popular with right wingers and extreme libertarians, so I looked around for some critical reviews of the "Fair Tax." I didn't have to look very far. It seems as though it would be tough on the middle class, unfair to baby boomers, and if passed by Congress, it might not eliminate the IRS. Instead, we could possibly end up with both an income tax and a consumption tax. My own critique of the "Fair Tax" is that it ends taxes on corporations and shifts the burden totally to consumers. The plan has more support than the blatantly regressive "flat tax," but it seems unlikely to actually pass, according to what I've read. Personally, I'm for keeping the current setup, albeit with simplifications, and restoring the pre-Reagan progressive tax rates that had the wealthy paying a bigger share of the total taxes collected. But then I'm for levelling, redistribution of wealth, and against the ever rising gap between the rich and the poor in this country.

Photo: another Pines beachfront palace


Friday, July 6, 2007

More Invasion Pix!

Patriotic Team Spirit!

Pretty, pretty!

Bad hair day?

"Lady Gardner" (Don) & "Frau Matilda Von Sluttenberg" (Roland)

Brian & Troy and friends.

Rose & Michael

Bannana Boat hunks.