Long Island Press

The Long Island Press

New ‘Wicked City’ Thriller About a Serial Killer Gets Lost in the Dark in ’80s L.A.

Set in 1982 L.A., with the classic melody of Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time” throbbing on the soundtrack, a nameless girl inside a car parked in the Hollywood Hills is bobbing between the thighs of an unimpressed Kent Grainger (Ed Westwick) just before he plunges a knife into the back of her head.

It turns out that Kent’s also a serial killer and a necrophiliac. But he does have a softer side—he likes babies.

The opening minutes of Wicked City’s premiere Tuesday night mostly encapsulated the gist of ABC’s newest and boldest show: sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and, evidently, death.

“That’s right, folks,” said a local news anchor character early on. “Another day, another corpse in the murder capital of the country.”

It was a warning there’d be more clichés to follow. While the anchor mentioned above referred to killings in ‘80s L.A. as routine, the same could be argued of modern-day America in general.

Audiences today are numb—desensitized, some claim—to the oversaturation of dismembered corpses, blood-streaked walls, and “shocking” crime scenes lit in the flashing bulbs of the paparazzi, all of which appeared in the first 30 minutes of Wicked City. Differentiating among all these competing crime dramas may be more difficult than identifying a dumped body. This was Wicked City’s true killer: unoriginality.

Beneath his charm and prickly stubble, we discover that Kent has child abandonment/mommy issues. Stabbing unsuspecting women trying to please him is one thing, but apparently he draws the line at killing a nurse named Betty Beaumontaine (Erika Christensen) because she’s a single mom. The plotline’s reprieve ignores the likelihood that he’s probably already murdered lonely single moms before without knowing or caring about their back story.

Conveniently, Betty is also a little cuckoo. This insight is revealed when she crushes a spider in her hand, away from the eyes of her impressionable children. The moment left me wondering if I could be a serial killer, too, because I also kill bugs when they come into my house, but at least I feel guilty about it. Betty hones her sadistic ways on duty in the hospital when she yanks stitches out of an old man after stabbing him with a needle.

Maybe Kent knew Betty had that side to her, just waiting to develop under his tender care. His sparing her sparks the beginning of a whacky and disturbing romance. It’s too early to tell where this pair will go. They are reminiscent of a Bonny-and-Clyde-like duo, but that comparison—referenced constantly by ABC’s marketing campaign—creates concern that this psychotic couple will not stray far enough from the source material to make watching their exploits compelling.

On the flip side of Wicked City, we meet “good cop” Jack Roth (Jeremy Sisto). He bickers with his undesirable-sidekick Paco Conteras (Gabriel Luna) each and every step of the way, making this crime procedural a grueling process. Jack is hell-bent on taking down the famed “Hillside Strangler” (no, not Kenneth Bianchi and Angelo Buono), but the closest the detective gets to Kent in the season premiere is an accidental shoulder-brush in a cramped nightclub on Sunset Strip, making this “cat and mouse” storyline explicit for any viewers who somehow may have missed it.

While Wicked City airs late at 10 p.m., presumably after the kids are in bed, it is a risky step for Disney-owned ABC Family channel, considering their usual fare. Featuring disturbing adult-oriented content like this may be an early sign of what’s to come when the network changes its name in January to Freeform, with the goal of attracting a wider audience in the coveted 18-34 demographic.

The show is being promoted as a 10-episode anthology series, similar to American Horror Story or True Detective, which means the next season—if Wicked City even lasts that long and let’s hope it doesn’t—would jump to a different time slot. But it means 10 episodes of serial-killer-and-tortured-cop clichés, people yelling “bitchin’!” as an adjective, an overabundance of cocaine and way too much hairspray, accompanied by an ’80s soundtrack of Soft Cell, Iggy Pop and Joan Jett. Wicked City might be worth a binge-watch on Netflix, but definitely not a long-term committed relationship.

When The Public Funds Sports Stadiums, Fans Win, Taxpayers Lose



When the Cubs made the final out last week in Chicago, long-suffering Mets fans back home were ecstatic. The line for Modell’s Sporting Goods in Plainview stretched across the shopping center parking lot as people waited after midnight for the chance to commemorate the newly won National League pennant by buying an official baseball hat for $35 or a jersey for $110—a World Series patch raised the retail price an additional $15.

Sports always have an interesting effect on people’s judgment. All one has to do is look at Mineola’s efforts to convince themselves that the New York Islanders will come back. Whether it’s a local government financing a $900 million stadium or fans buying hundreds of dollars of souvenir memorabilia, professional athletics have a funny way of convincing people to spend their money when they know they’re getting hosed.

The Mets, for this season at least, are New York’s team. So goes the fortunes of ball clubs: when you’re on top, you’re the king. When you lose, fans want to throw the bums out and bring in new blood. Somewhere, Yankees fans are counting their 27 championship rings while they wait for next season.

This passion for the home team runs deep – local sports franchises know it, as do the municipal governments that house these teams. The logic is that voters love their teams – and any politician who loses a franchise will rue the day the club packs their bags and leaves town. It is with this knowledge that sports organizations negotiate for new stadiums, arenas and ball parks.

Trying to cater to professional teams isn’t exclusive to Mineola, for even relatively level-headed policymakers succumb to sports madness. Before leaving office in 2002, Mayor Rudy Giuliani doggedly tried to push through a flawed $1.6 billion plan for two new stadiums in New York City. The New York Times editorial board said the mayor’s emotional attachment to baseball had “warped his judgment.” The proposal was axed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who eventually floated his own eventually successful proposals to replace both aging venues.

Locations for a new Yankee Stadium were debated, but the site selection for Shea’s replacement was easy for the Mets. They could build their new monument to America’s pastime in as much of a convenient spot as you can get: the parking lot next to their existing stadium.

Both New York complexes have transit and highway options, which helps determine the geographic concentration of fandom. The better the access, the more fans see baseball—an asset for any team to get people to the game, and revenue into their coffers.

Source: NYC IBO
Source: NYC IBO

The access theory holds, because the New York demographics of New York fandom tell who, exactly, these stadiums cater to. In a 1998 report by the city’s Independent Budget Office, the authors “attended games at each stadium and asked about 1,000 attendees at each game for their zip codes.”  The breakdown is a bit enlightening:

Not surprisingly, Long Island was the principal home of Mets fans for those particular games, while the Yankees can thank New Jersey and Manhattan for the fannies filling their stands, thus lending merit to the argument that easier access can drive fandom.

The geographic trends found in IBO’s 1998 report were further supported from more recent (and comprehensive) data released by Facebook in 2014, which measured MLB fandom by the number of people’s LIKES on each team’s page. While the Mets are the talk of the town these days, the disparity between Facebook users who showed a preference for the Yankees outnumbered those who liked the Mets almost 3 to 1.

As the Times wrote in their data analysis: “The Yankees are the preferred team everywhere in New York City, and nearly everywhere in the U.S. over the Mets (in more than 98 percent of ZIP codes nationwide).”

What all this data means is that stadium policy doesn’t necessarily cater to the residents that city officials and sports teams always assume it does, nor do the suggested economics bring in the out-of-region revenue assumed. Sports franchises always state that these stadiums will benefit their particular city itself, when in reality, wealthier suburbanites reap the benefits of the increased transit availability and associated stadium amenities.

While detailed analysis has been conducted by IBO concerning both the economics of Citi Field and the new Yankee Stadium, the findings are almost the same: “…findings from econometric studies across the nation consistently agree: taken together, baseball teams and stadiums do not spur economic growth in a metropolitan area.”

While IBO found that stadiums aren’t the economic powerhouses they are touted to be, the group did mention that integrating restaurants and retail into stadium neighborhoods would have a positive fiscal impact. Only a comprehensive approach to development would extract the maximum economic potential of a newly constructed stadium. Smart development in these areas would not only keep visitors in the area longer on game day, but during the offseason as well.

If executed correctly, these areas could help bolster the ball parks in order to bring newfound economic prosperity. But it’s an uphill battle, whose odds of successful implementation hinge on the strength of the regional economy. The problem, of course, is one of coordination. How would a development at Willets Point interact with one of the many projects being built in Nassau or Suffolk County?

As Long Islanders and Queens residents pour into Citi Field to watch the Mets take on the Royals, city officials should understand that the economics of sports isn’t always a home run. After the city invests hundreds of millions of dollars into the Bronx and Queens for improved transit access, demolition of both old stadiums, the foundations of the new ball parks, and in the case of Yankee Stadium, relocation of displaced parkland, is it worth it for the typical New York City resident?

To the thousands of suburbanites who fill the stands, and afterwards leave the area by car or train, it doesn’t matter, for they reaped the benefits of that sizeable public investment…all while wearing a $35 hat.

Rich Murdocco writes about Long Island’s land use and real estate development issues. He received his Master’s in Public Policy at Stony Brook University, where he studied regional planning under Dr. Lee Koppelman, Long Island’s veteran master planner. Murdocco is a regular contributor to the Long Island Press. More of his views can be found on www.TheFoggiestIdea.org or follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea.

Pathmark’s Passing Leaves Pangs For the People Who Stock Its Shelves

Writer James H. Burns bids farewell to Pathmark. (Photo credit: Matthew Rutledge/Flickr)

When the news hit this summer that many Pathmark stores would be closing as part of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company’s bankruptcy, I was stunned, as most here were.

For decades the supermarket has been part of our lives on Long Island. And I’m old enough to remember when the store in Franklin Square opened in the late 1960s.

But, for reasons I’m not quite sure of, I can’t feel any nostalgia for the place.

Maybe that’s because it’s always been there. Or because, somewhere deep in my cranium, I can remember it meant as a boy that my Mom and I were no longer going to be making trips to Hills Supermarket on Franklin Avenue, which ultimately had to close down, or the A&P on Dutch Broadway in Elmont, which persisted into the 1990s, and where one of the cashiers, Clara, had been nice to me since I was even a much younger toddler.

There were times when I’d accompany my parents to Pathmark in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and it always seemed like a chore. In those days, it was considered safe to let a kid wander around alone inside. I would check out the cereal aisle, to see if there were any neat premiums being offered in that era’s assemblage of Quisp and Quake and Sugar Crisp and so many other cereals whose names remain familiar. I still peruse the cereal boxes, to see if there are any neat toys being offered inside.

There was also a toy section featuring an assemblage somewhat bigger than what has become the usual assortment of supermarket bits and pieces.

Ultimately, the neatest feature at Pathmark for a youngster may have been a huge paperback section featuring an amazing array of bestsellers and non-fiction books. Pathmark was where I bought some of my very first books on the history of movies, including, in my monster-loving youth, a biography of Boris Karloff!

From its inception in Franklin Square, Pathmark had tried to be unique. At the back of the store was a section invoking the classic Horn and Hardart cafeterias in Manhattan, famous for all the food, sandwiches and cakes and the like, being offered through slots in the wall protected by a glass cover. If you put coins in the apparatus, you could lift the cover and take your treat.  Horn and Hardart was famous for the quality of its offerings, and for being a very affordable place for any New Yorker to put together a decent meal. More than one location also became known as a writers’ hangout, with some of the best-known reporters and talent of the era sitting for a long while, sipping their coffee, and enjoying the conversation.

Beginning in the 1970s, Pathmark also had a long running series of television commercials, starring James Karen. Most of us probably presumed he was a Pathmark executive, until he also began popping up as an actor in horror movies like “Poltergeist” and “The Return of the Living Dead.”

As I moved back and forth from our area over the decades, Pathmark was my supermarket of choice.

But then, about five years ago, something very sad began to happen, at least at a couple of Pathmark locations that I frequented. If you weren’t careful, it was far too easy to buy out-of-date products off Pathmark’s shelves. My discovery occurred when making a salad dressing mix one night, and a strange gelatinous form suddenly floated to the top of the bowl. I looked at the expiration date on the ingredients box. It had passed six months earlier.

I didn’t stop shopping at Pathmark. I just became disappointed, and far more careful.

Besides, I was very fond of some of the employees, and I had a particular problem: I am addicted to Pathmark Instant Coffee. Or at least I was. The store’s been out of its own label for a while.

I’ve been compensating by experimenting with a myriad of other makes. In years past, I would take several jars with me, on the road.

It was odd, by the way, when earlier this year, my local Pathmark reached into the warehouse, and began using plastic bags, from some time back, apparently having run out of the newer editions.

I also love the deli counter’s fried chicken. To me, it’s the best in New York by far. Pathmark must have a proprietary recipe, which I can only hope it’ll share with its successor.

The loss of the store, otherwise, doesn’t seem particularly perceptible. After all, there will be another supermarket in its place.

What has been heartbreaking, however, is seeing the looks of uncertainty in the eyes of so many of the long-time employees, and even on the faces of the store’s younger veterans. All told, more than 4,000 people on Long Island could be without a job by Thanksgiving. My greatest hope is that the new owners will do the right thing for those who have been part of our lives for such a very long time.

James H. Burns is a writer/actor living in Franklin Square, who has written for The Village Voice, Newsday, CBS.COM, The Sporting News and The New York Times.

Sicario’s Dirty War on Mexican Cartels is Not Yet Reality

I saw the movie “Sicario” the other day. And it reminded me why the border still haunts me.

“Sicario” is an important contribution to a cinematic genre that examines the dark realities of the U.S.-Mexico border. The film centers on an FBI agent in Arizona who joins a shadowy, CIA-led task force pursuing a Mexican drug lord. She becomes alarmed by secretive, brutal methods that leave a trail of corpses. She discovers that the unit’s mysterious Colombian “consultant” is an assassin (sicario) unleashed by the U.S. government on the cartels.

“Sicario” has drawn admiring reviews, commentary about the tough subject, and criticism in Mexico. My editors asked me to assess its portrayal of the underworlds of the U.S.-Mexico border.

I covered the borderlands for the Los Angeles Times in the 1990s and return there now and then. I’ve spent years reporting about mafias, justice and intrigue across the Americas and around the world. And I’ve written fiction and nonfiction in which the border plays a big role.

My first novel, “Triple Crossing,” describes the troubled dreams of a rookie Border Patrol agent: “The border seethed on the edge of his sleep. Haunting him. Disembodied faces surging up out of the riverbed at him.”

That image comes from personal experience. I still see the faces of people I knew — heroes and outlaws, bigshots and grunts — who lived intensely and died violently.

I remember interviewing a reformist police chief days before rogue federal cops assassinated him. I see a young prosecutor in a Tijuana diner telling me about investigating the chief’s murder — 18 months before killers butchered him in front of his house. I relive an early-morning phone call with sad news about a gentle, doomed warden who let me explore one of the world’s strangest prisons: a savage village where gangsters lived with their families, inmates ran shops and eateries, and gunfights erupted on the basketball court at high noon.

So I watched “Sicario” with a wary but respectful eye. I once wrote that the storytellers of the border know there is no better story in the world. But it’s a hard tale to tell, especially for Americans. Even if you speak fluent Spanish and have walked both sides of the line.

Overall, I found “Sicario” artful and thought-provoking. The focus is intentionally narrow: Villeneuve portrays a battleground obscured by a permanent fog of war. The film succeeds in evoking the menace, paranoia and ambiguity of the turf.

“Sicario” falls short for me in other aspects. While it has impeccably realistic moments, the federal agents broke the rules with a casualness (and lack of consequences) unlike anything I’ve reported on. I also would have liked more depth in the depiction of the Mexican side, though there’s a limit to what can be done in two hours.

The first thing I look for in a drama like this is the authenticity of the characters — how they compare to the swashbuckling and ferocious ones I’ve met.

Josh Brolin is convincing as the chief of the task force, a brash spy who drops enigmatic lines about his plan to “dramatically overreact” against the cartel that has murdered dozens of people on the U.S. side of the border.

Benicio Del Toro’s role as the brooding, relentless sicario is the best thing about the film. An early scene in which he shudders awake from a nap establishes him as a man who has nightmares — and inflicts them on others.

The FBI agent played by Emily Blunt is refreshingly unglamorous. Her clashes with the CIA/Pentagon crew have a real-life basis in conflicts among U.S. agencies. Her mystified indignation becomes less credible, however, as she continues to tag along with the marauding unit.

The lack of Hispanic characters on the U.S. law enforcement team surprised me. This is not an abstract issue of diversity in Hollywood; traveling the borderlands, you meet many sharp Hispanic federal agents making the most of their language and cultural skills.

The film sticks to a largely north-of-the-line viewpoint. A nice subplot about a Mexican police officer seemed underdeveloped. That’s a recurring pitfall in this genre: exploring a Mexican reality with limited presence of actual Mexicans.

“Sicario” does include a spectacular sequence in Ciudad Juarez. With Delta Force operators riding shotgun, the U.S. task force zooms in to pick up and bring north a cartel figure for questioning. The tension builds to a claustrophobic shootout in a monster traffic jam at the port of entry. The scene triggered my residual paranoia from many a border crossing.

Officials in Ciudad Juarez were upset about scenes showing cadavers hanging from downtown viaducts and firefights and explosions lighting up the night. They pointed out that crime has gone down since the city was the world’s murder capital. Nonetheless, it’s legitimate to depict the anarchy and bloodshed that have periodically engulfed Juarez, Tijuana, Acapulco and other Mexican cities.

Above all, “Sicario” puts a spotlight on U.S. antidrug policy. It imagines a world in which federal agencies have decided to fight dirty. Del Toro’s Colombian water-boards a suspect at a U.S. military base, physically abuses a corrupt U.S. cop in a vehicle in Arizona and runs up the body count elsewhere.

I understand that movies take liberties in the name of drama. The director has said he’s making a larger point about moral choices, about the excesses of vengeful covert action. I had reservations, however, about the premise of the black-ops campaign.

First of all, most takedowns of drug lords end in arrest and prosecution. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement put money and effort — from high-tech intercepts to training and vetting foreign units — into building cases against kingpins and battering through their concentric circles of firepower and political protection.

I’m not suggesting abuses don’t happen. I’ve covered brutality and corruption in U.S. agencies. But the brazen excess depicted in the film is pretty rare on U.S. soil. American intelligence and law enforcement operatives do work closely with foreign counterparts who are brutal and corrupt. Agents have told me about teaming with Mexican investigators who pursued traffickers diligently, but weren’t given U.S. leads about a certain drug lord because they were on his payroll.

Another story about misconduct-by-proxy: U.S. agents once helped local forces arrest a suspect in a Latin American nation. The Americans waited awkwardly outside while the locals began their interrogation. It went badly and the U.S. agents had to rush in to revive the suspect with CPR.

The larger argument of Villeneuve and scriptwriter Taylor Sheridan is that the drug war risks turning us into the very monsters we are trying to defeat.

It’s tempting to agree — at least about the futility. Despite considerable blood and sacrifice, the basic story in Mexico hasn’t changed much over the past two decades.

In 1993, I covered the capture of Joaquin (Chapo) Guzman, the boss of the Sinaloa cartel, and the discovery of his first smuggling tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego. Guzman has escaped from prison twice. His operation still uses tunnels. The latest headlines suggest his days are numbered, but he has reigned for a quarter century.

I do see glimmers of hope. Look at the remarkable transformation of Colombia, the result of Colombian tenacity backed with U.S. resources. Or Peru’s defeat of cartels, narco-guerillas and a malevolent spy chief. Or Guatemala’s recent strides against high-level mafias. The driving force in those cases was dogged police work, not death squads.

Tangible progress has also happened in Mexico, including Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez. “Sicario” portrays part of the problem. But it doesn’t venture into the Mexican political labyrinth that is the root of the crisis.

My reporting in Latin America has convinced me the conversation needs to be about more than drugs. Mafias profit from an array of rackets: extortion, migrant smuggling, political thievery. The region’s greatest single problem is lawlessness in high and low places alike. Weak justice systems protect the elites.

In a column this week in Spain’s El Pais newspaper, a Mexican academic declared that a “pact of impunity” dominates his society.

“Ample sectors of the political class have established regional alliances with criminal actors,” wrote Alberto J. Olvera of the Veracruzana University. “The regime can’t and doesn’t want to reform itself. A gigantic mobilization is necessary of a united civil society focused on the fight against impunity.”

Signs of such a mobilization can be seen in Mexico, Central America and elsewhere. The vanguard includes brave cops, journalists, activists, and citizens in the streets. Things will change not with the capture of Chapo Guzman, but when the police start arresting senators, governors, bankers and others in suits and ties.

The longer that takes to happen, the more likely the dirty war depicted in Sicario could one day become a reality.


Read senior reporter Sebastian Rotella’s report on terrorists and Europe’s revolving-door prisons.


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Travel Diary: Port Washington’s Waterside Wonders

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Winter is coming.

Yes, this is inevitable. Yet before the plummeting temperatures, blustery winds and menacing snow (hopefully not too much) transform our beautiful island into a frozen winter wonderland, there’s still enough time to eke out one or two more road trips down to the gorgeous, soothing waters bordering our coastline. There’s still one or two last chances to stare out at those precious waves—whether the ocean, harbor, or Long Island Sound—before those whirling winds whip along the shore, sending chills up your spine and cooling that giant pumpkin latte in your hand faster than you can say “Vaaa-Room.”

The North Shore hamlet of Port Washington, with its colorful history, myriad parks, shops and restaurants, and endless, breathtaking romantic waterside views, makes just the perfect destination.

You’ll want to roll into this majestic community in style, however. A 2015 MINI Cooper from NY Auto Giant, therefore, is exactly what the doctor ordered!

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As you cruise into town in your cute, stylish ride, you’ll undoubtedly be interested in learning some history about this special, special gem. Port Washington’s modern-day origins date back to the 1600s, when more than a dozen English families purchased this precious land from the Matinecock Indians. During the 1800s, shellfishing and sand-mining became important industries here, with millions of yards of the area’s sand eventually used to form the concrete comprising some of the most iconic and well-known buildings in New York City, including the Chrysler and Empire State Building!

If you’re a fan of literature, you’ll be excited to know that Port Washington is also represented within the East Egg area of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic The Great Gatsby.

First order of business is caffeine, of course. Luckily, besides the aforementioned wonders awaiting you and your loved ones here at “The Portler,” as some call it, this community is absolutely loaded with java-licious cafes and bakeries to get your heart a-pumpin’!

Swing by COFFEED, a nonprofit micro-roaster that supports numerous charities and employs locals with disabilities, as well as serving some of the most exotic blends around. You simply can’t go wrong with the Ethiopian! Saint Honore Pastry Shop is also worth a visit—this place rocks not only the joe, but cakes, cookies, and cupcakes galore!

Sip those lattes while you stroll Main Street and peruse its many stellar shops and storefronts, including Wright Music, Painting With Flowers, and The Dolphin Bookshop—the latter an independent bookstore that’s been feeding the minds and caffeine urges of patrons since 1946.

You’re going to want some great food on your day adventure, and Port Washington is replete with high-quality restaurants serving some of the most delectable dishes around.

Dating back to 1905, Louie’s Oyster Bar & Grille offers hungry locals and travelers premium seafood as well as absolutely breathtaking views of Manhasset Bay, the New York City skyline and Long Island Sound.

DiMaggio’s is another prime choice for eats and memories. Since 1978 this trattoria and bar has been delighting hungry patrons with traditional Old World cuisine comprising only the freshest ingredients and made-to-order dishes that will leave your lips a-lickin’ for weeks. Roasted rabbit, ossobucco, stuffed zucchini blossoms are just a few of its many culinary masterpieces that make this a must-stop spot on any Port Washington road trip.

So is Ayhan’s Mediterranean Marketplace & Café, serving so many joyous Greek delights—stuffed grape leaves, chicken souvlaki, lamb burgers—you’ll be dreaming of that ancient land and its irresistible cuisine for a long, long time afterward. [Note: Ayhan’s sells Feta Cigars—warm, mouthwatering oozing Feta tightly wrapped into a stogie with crisp phyllo dough—the name says it all!] The place is right next door to Ayhan’s Shish (Fish) Kebab, too!

Ice cream goes great with Feta (as does pretty much everything), so grab a cone and sundae with all your favorite toppings at Sweet Treats On The Wharf before heading over to a comfy bench along the waterfront.

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You and your loved one might just be in for yet another special treat on this uber-special road trip bonanza:

Several gorgeous, enigmatic sea creatures have recently been spotted swimming and frolicking amongst Port Washington’s idyllic surrounding waters. Humpback whales as well as a giddy pod of Belugas have been enjoying the ever-improving depths of the Bay and Sound—providing local residents and adventure-seeking boaters the rare, moving experience of witnessing these extraordinary beauties up close and personal!

You never know what adventures await you in this remarkable, idyllic community, so head down to NY Auto Giant’s Massapequa Nissan to drive home your very own 2015 MINI Cooper today and roll through Port Washington, and any other town, in style!

‘Supergirl’, Superwoman, or Neither?

Supergirl premieres Oct. 26 on CBS.

Midway through the Supergirl premiere Monday night, a waitress voices what CBS hoped would be parents’ thoughts on the debut of Superman’s Kryptonian cousin.

“Nice to have someone like that for my daughter to look up to,” the character says.

She’s actually a wonderful role model for any child, and that about wraps up CBS’ goal with Supergirl: a smart, strong, successful, and overall independent female superhero with a feminist message who can lift the ratings up, up and away.

Instead, Supergirl’s suppressed superpowers are an awkward metaphor for her modern-day oppression as a woman–a ditzy girl concerned with what clothes to wear for a blind date or barely juggling her secretarial duties instead of unleashing her inner “powers”–liberated through a pilot episode alarmingly identical to Saturday Night Live’s satirical trailer for a Black Widow movie, which criticized lead women’s portrayals in Hollywood.

After Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), whose birth name is Kara Zor-El, effortlessly launches herself into the night sky for the first time in nine years and, of course, saved the day, the episode produces what were actually some strong moments.

In one scene, the 24-year-old “Supergirl” debates with her stubborn boss, Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart), about the difference between being labeled a girl or a woman. Another scene also shares a nod to long-time comic book fans, combining and modernizing 57 years of Supergirl’s many impractical and sexualized outfits.

Even the villain of the week, a fusion of DC Comics characters Vartox and Lumberjack (Owain Yeoman), descends from a planet where “females bow before males.” Supergirl overpowers the escaped alien convict using the lame and overused overcome-any-obstacle gimmick of self-confidence, but the literal defeat of a monster male supremacist seems blatant and uncreative. Especially when the now supposed strong, independent woman constantly paralleled the Man of Steel himself.

Aside from a brief glimpse of his blue-sleeved arm and flapping red cape at the beginning of the episode, Superman did not and will not appear in Supergirl completely, but his heroic influence no doubt exists. Wearing unnecessary black-rimmed glasses at her newspaper office and, according to one character, debuting her superpowers exactly like Superman by rescuing a plummeting plane, X-ray vision was not necessary to spot the pilot episode’s reliance on the classic superhero. Some characters could not even finish a conversation with Supergirl without connecting her to Superman.

“Anyone ever tell you that you look a little like him right there?” ex-Daily Planet photographer James Olsen (Mechad Brooks) said, vaguely waving his hand at Supergirl’s face, confirming she actually didn’t resemble Superman at all.

Borrowing from and associating with Superman’s story seems contradictory and counterproductive. Ultimately it just differentiates Supergirl very little beyond an unoriginal female Superman. In a strange way, Supergirl relies a lot on a man just to prove herself to viewers.

The show knows what it wants to say, but much like the main character, the pilot episode lacks any confidence in itself, failing to support its progressive message with assertion and capitalize on the opportunity to truly transform Supergirl into something more and drive its positive message home.

In short, random waitress character, there are better heroines your daughter can look up to, and they don’t even fly.

Do This: Long Island Concerts & Events October 22 – 28

Modest Mouse
Indie hellraisers Modest Mouse invade The Space at Westbury on Oct. 22!

Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi
The ex-sloven and classless former train wreck of the Jersey Shore and author will speak about and sign her new book Strong Is The New Sexy. Years ago, many thought she was destined for either rehab or prison. When she rose to stardom on the MTV breakout series, she was 20 pounds overweight from her steady diet of nachos and alcohol. Today, not only is she a mother of two, but she’s as fit and trim as she’s ever been. Book Revue. 313 New York Avenue, Huntington. bookrevue.com Price of book. 7 p.m. October 22.

The State of Long Island Media: Taking Back Our Airwaves
The United States used to be the world’s shining example of a free press. But today’s corporate media isn’t just part of the problem—it is the problem. A public forum on how to fix the media will feature an expert panel followed by a Q&A with media experts, investigative journalists, professors, TV producers and media watchdogs. Huntington Public Library, 338 Main St., Huntington. Free. 7 p.m. October 22.

Above and Beyond: The Untold True Story
In 1948, just three years after the liberation of Nazi death camps, a group of Jewish American pilots answered a call for help. In secret and at great personal risk, they smuggled planes out of the United States, trained behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia, and flew for Israel in its War of Independence. As members of Machal–“volunteers from abroad”–this ragtag band of brothers not only turned the tide of the war; they also embarked on personal journeys of discovery and renewed Jewish pride. Q&A with producer Nancy Spielberg follows screening. Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City. cradleofaviation.org Free. 7:15 p.m. October 22.

Modest Mouse
Touted as “one of the biggest and most beloved indie-rock bands of the past 20 years” by Rolling Stone and “the second coming of Nirvana” by the band Black Keys, Modest Mouse’s reputation clearly precedes them. Expect songs from Strangers to Ourselves, their sixth and latest album, as well as old favorites like “Float On” and “Ocean Breathes Salty.” Opening the show is Hop Along. The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave., Westbury. thespaceatwestbury.com $50. 8 p.m. October 22.

Huey Lewis and the News
These Grammy winners defined the ’80s with multiple top 10 hits: “Hip to Be Square,” “The Heart of Rock & Roll” and “Stuck With You” to name just a few. Don’t miss Huey, his harmonica and the rest of the band performing your favorites! NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $49.50. 8 p.m. October 22.

This rapper/activist/writer/producer is bringing his original, creative and socially-conscious raps to LI. Central to hip hop since 1987, KRS-One started the Stop The Violence Movement in the late ’80s and founded the Temple of Hip Hop. “Sound of Da Police” and “MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know” are oldies but goodies with a set list that’s sure to include songs from throughout his 12 album discography. Warming up the crowd are A Side Of Darkness, Status 631, iDeal & Scotty Mac, DJ Shuttle and D.A. The Future Of A.D.D. Revolution Bar & Music Hall, 140 Merrick Rd., Amityville. clubloaded.com/events $30. 8 p.m. October 22.

Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin with the Guilty Ones
These blues brothers reunited last year on Common Ground after 30 years apart, and they’ve been hot ever since. Their new album, Lost Time, features covers of blues and R&B songs that showcase Phil’s unique, powerful voice and Dave’s electrifying guitar solos. Come hear this one-of-a-kind duo take that bass line out for a walk! YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 West Main St., Bay Shore. boultoncenter.org $35-$40. 8 p.m. October 22.

South Side Johnny and The Poor Fools
Got the Fever for the girl? Well come join New Jersey’s own South Side Johnny for a special stripped-down show with The Poor Fools. A more “stripped down” “acoustic-ish” show, The Poor Fools showcases South Side’s musicianship, songwriting skills, and legendary showmanship in a more intimate setting. A must for all fans of the Jersey sound! Suffolk Theater, 118 E Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com $49-$60. 8 p.m. October 22.

Ever since 2009’s “Birthday Sex” Jeremih’s fans can’t get enough of his smooth falsetto, intimate lyrics and unique style. No stranger to music, this R&B crooner honed his skills on saxophone, drums and piano from a very young age, and has even been known to spit some rhymes on his mixtapes. “Planes,” featuring J. Cole, and “Tonight Belongs to U!” featuring Flo Rida, are the catchy new singles off his upcoming album, Late Nights. The Emporium, 9 Railroad Ave., Patchogue. theemporiumny.com $30. 10 p.m. October 22.

Welcome to Mars – A Conversation and Book Signing with Buzz Aldrin
Space is still the final frontier and Mars continues to make news and attract generations of young people. In this fascinating book, hero-astronaut Buzz Aldrin challenges curious kids to think about Mars as not just a faraway red planet but as a possible future home for Earthlings! With the recent discovery of evidence of water on this extraordinary planet, the human species may be one step closer to Mars’ eventual colonization! #pyramidsonmars Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City. cradleofaviation.org $25 members, $20 public. 7:30 p.m. October 23.

Twenty years after the release of their self-titled debut, the band will play the record in its entirety for the first time, including the smash hit “Only Happy When it Rains.” The band came together in 1993 and shared an intensive 22 on-and-off years since. Their provocative alternative rock, sung by Shirley Manson’s iconic Irish accent, will echo off the stage to the roar of thousands of fans. The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave., Westbury. thespaceatwestbury.com $45-$65. 8 p.m. October 23.

Rodney Carrington
Don’t let his cowboy hat, checkered shirts, and Southern-drawled charm fool you! The guitar-playing comedian’s uproarious remarks cut straight to the gut, leaving you “Yehawing” all the way home. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $29.50-$69.50. 8 p.m. October 23.

The Machine
One of the oldest and purest of the Pink Floyd tribute bands based in America, The Machine has been playing on the Dark Side of the Moon since 1988, when New York-based musicians Tahrah Cohen and Joe Pascarell first started to think Pink. Now Cohen has been joined onstage by Adam Minkoff, Ryan Ball and Scott Chasolen. As Spin magazine put it, they sound “exactly” like the British band. These guys are devoted, delving into 16 albums of material to come up with the perfect playlist. They’ll unleash requests, too. Once they performed songs from A to Z, in order, and they’ve also done gigs accompanied by full symphony orchestras. As Rolling Stone magazine’s Matt Diehl put it, “The Machine duplicates the sound and hits of Pink Floyd with chilling accuracy.” No Wall is too high or too far for this foursome to top. [Video above is actually Pink Floyd, not this extraordinary cover band.] NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $29.50. 8 p.m. October 23.

Noah’s Arc
This East Patchogue band absolutely rock, dropping reggae beats that’ll move your feet and free your soul! Opening the show are Roots Foundation and Half Breeds. 89 North Music Venue, 89 North Ocean Ave., Patchogue. 89northmusic.com $10. 8 p.m. October 23.

Gary Vider
In the history of NBC’s hit show America’s Got Talent, less than five stand-up comics have made it to the final 10! Gary Vider is one of them! A favorite of Howard and Howie throughout Season 10, Gary’s hilarious, deadpan style rocked the house repeatedly at Radio City Music Hall and his “Boobsippi” joke even won Heidi’s approval and trended nationwide on Twitter! Gary has also made a stand-up appearance on Late Night With David Letterman, and he will absolutely floor you here! McGuires Comedy Club, 1627 Smithtown Ave., Bohemia. mcguires.govs.com $22-$52. 8 p.m. October 23.

Long Beach ROXX Music Festival
This lineup includes 10 music acts from across Long Island and NYC, including Dave Kellan, The Liverpool Shuffle, Rorie Kelly, Four Way Street, Risky Business, The Electrix, and Mudslide, featuring Ann Klein. This sonic smorgasbord benefits the nonprofit J-Bird Music for The Arts, Inc., supporting music programs in New York State education. Long Beach Public Library, 111 W Park Ave., Long Beach. longbeachroxxny.com Free. Times vary, October 23-25.

Long Island Hurricane Expo
Just in time for the third anniversary of Sandy, News 12 Meteorologist Matt Hammer will be on hand to talk about hurricane forecasting along with several other speakers. The Suffolk and Nassau county Offices of Emergency Management and 20 other organizations will be providing hurricane and storm preparedness information. Participants will learn how to track storms, pack a family disaster kit and prepare an emergency plan for their pets, all crucial information everyone should know to fully be prepared! St. Joseph’s College Gymnasium, 155 West Roe Blvd., Patchogue. longislandhurricaneexpo.com Free. 2 p.m. October 24.

Shinnecock Shamrock
This music & cultural festival is replete with Irish & Native American bands, raffles, dancing, beer, wine, chowders & so much more. Organized by members of the Shinnecock and Unkechaug Tribes of Long Island. Shinnecock-Sewanaka Society, Inc., 14 North Howell’s Point Rd., Bellport. shinnecocksewanakasociety.org $40, kids 12 and under free. 2 p.m. October 24.

Dinner in the Dark
A unique sensory experience, blindfolded. Participate in a firsthand journey to appreciate the world the blind and visually impaired live, every day. Upsky Hotel, 110 Motor Pkwy., Hauppague. Siloinc.org $60. 5 p.m. October 24.

Mike Orlando
This is an absolutely riveting event for guitarists, heavy metal and hard rock fans alike, who want to both meet and learn from Adrenaline Mob’s six-string savior, Mike Orlando. get ready for an up-close-and personal guitar clinic along with a Q&A and autograph session with this tremendous guitarist, producer, and overall musician! All Music Inc., 397 South Oyster Bay Rd., Plainview. allmusicinc.com Free. 6 p.m. October 24.

Jackie Mason
Widely regarded as one of the greatest stand-up comics of all time, Mason combines satire, observations on the foibles of modern life and impeccable timing to create material that leaves audiences laughing until they cry and critics raving show after show after show. NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $49.50-$99.50. 7 p.m. October 24.

“Rockin’ Fights 21” Featuring Zac Dunn
The red gloves of undefeated Middleweight World Champion Zac Dunn and Denis “The Momma’s Boy” Douglin will hook and jab quick and hard in the arena. Join the thundering cheers of aggression and tension surrounding this bruise-tastic brawl. Who will remain standing at the end of this fist-fest? Only one way to find out! The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $50-$200. 7:30 p.m. October 24.

Forbidden Films
More than 1,200 feature films were made in Germany’s Third Reich. According to experts, some 100 of these are blatant propaganda. More than 40 remain—nearly 70 years after the end of the Nazi regime—under lock and key. This is their story. Director Felix Moeller in person at reception. Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. cinemaartscentre.org Members $10, Public $15. 1 p.m. October 25.

“Boo! A Family Friendly Halloween Musical”
Hallie Opal Ween, an 11 year-old, sets out on a mission to stop the “World Holiday Commission” from canceling the Halloween holiday due to low candy and costume sales. During her travels, Opal Ween meets a trio of recently unemployed and good-natured monsters whose very livelihood depends on the survival of Halloween. It isn’t long before they join Opal Ween and the audience on their quest to save the holiday from extinction! Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 East Main St., Patchogue. patchoguetheatre.org $10-$18. 3 p.m. October 25.

Bethenny Frankel
The former Real Housewives of New York City personality’s reality docu-drama, Bethenny Ever After, aired regularly on Bravo until 2012, and her talk show Bethenny was cancelled last year, but she still has opinions about fun foods, smart business, romantic relationships, and her hyper-dramatic life. How did she handle her divorce? How is dating going for her? What’s up with that plastic surgery? Head on down and find out! NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $49.50. 7 p.m. October 25.

Boz Scaggs
This accomplished appreciator and performer of timeless blues, R&B, rock and jazz tunes’ soulful tones and nuanced instrumentals mesh his multi-tiered dimension of authenticity on respected American root classics with his own original music. From his seminal role in the Steve Miller Band in 1967 to his stellar solo career, Boz Scaggs has deservedly earned a reputation as a singular artist. And did we say he’s a crooner who will melt hearts too? Yes, yes we did. Are you in the mood for a romantic evening? Who isn’t? This is the gig for you. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $59.50-$99.50. 8 p.m. October 25.

Long Island Beauty Ball For Cancer Care
A groundbreaking showcase event featuring unique interactive experiences & extraordinary networking, this must-attend event includes an open bar, food stations, DJ spinning dance music, beer and wine gardens, nail and cosmetic lounges, psychic readings, a fashion show, pop-up boutiques, paint night, photo booths, raffles and so much more! This is truly an extraordinary event for an extraordinary cause! Come show your support and let’s make a difference, together! Crest Hollow Country Club, 8325 Jericho Tpk., Woodbury. $125. 6 p.m. October 26.

When not surfing off the coast of California, this infectious band spreads their “luv” through feet-moving, hand-swaying, original alternative/reggae. Since 2007, the group has released three popular albums while remaining in the top 20 on Billboard’s Reggae Album Chart. Supporting acts include The Green and Hours Eastly. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $15-$35. 8 p.m. October 27.

Rubble Kings
This fascinating, valuable work of social, music and New York history, is a celebration of a peaceful revolution by those who helped birth it. Filmmaker Shan Nicholson will be here, and the vibe of something purely magical will be radiating through the air. A reception with music by DJ Kool Herc, founder of Hip-Hop Culture, is included. Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. cinemaartscentre.org Members $10, Public $15. 7:30 p.m. October 28.

—Compiled by Chuck Cannini, Desiree D’iorio, Timothy Bolger & Zachary B. Tirana III

Common Renovation Mistakes To Avoid, From Your Friends At Alure Home Improvements

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This time of year, many homeowners start to think about finally getting around to the renovation projects they’ve been putting off all summer. The intention is noble but the results may not be what they bargained for. Here are some common mistakes homeowners should avoid, brought to you by the home renovation experts at Alure Home Improvements.

In a nutshell, the most typical errors involve ignoring prep work, setting unrealistic goals, low-balling the budget, and neglecting safety.

It’s very important to anticipate the chaos factor that can arise in any renovation project. Pace your project and allow for the unexpected because things always get more complicated than you expect, especially if you’re not an experienced professional. Don’t start a big project on a Friday night that remains unfinished when it’s time to go back to work on Monday.

Whatever project you decide to do, put your personal safety first. You need goggles for your eyes, gloves for your hands, a good set of work boots for your feet (especially for your toes), and a well-stocked first-aid kit just in case. And if you’re going to be working with noisy power tools for an extended length of time, remember your ears.

You know that old adage: You get what you pay for. If you try to do it on the cheap, that’s the way it’ll end up. And if you can’t afford to do it, then you can afford to wait. Remember, once you tear down that wall, you may be surprised what you find on the other side. It could cost you a small fortune to fix. Also, when you plan your budget, remember that labor is one of the biggest expenses. Be realistic about the time involved, whether you plan to do it yourself or hire a professional.

Do it the right way, right away. Take the time to get it right and your time will not be wasted. Never put off your prep work. Professionals make it a priority. And they know the importance of saving time and money. Don’t get in over your head.

And if you’re not going to do the job yourself, at least know what you’re getting into before the project begins. Do your homework first so you can ask the right questions and keep tabs on what your contractor is up to. Not everyone is as reliable and trustworthy as the team at Alure Home Improvements.

Click here to learn more about Alure Home Improvements

Make sure you have a well-thought-out plan before you embark on your renovations. Gutting everything may not be necessary; in fact, you could quickly get in over your head. Think about the scope of your project first. Don’t just go into it and clear everything out when it may not be necessary. A skilled professional would know immediately how to keep the project in perspective.

Hiring the wrong contractor is a mistake people make too late to rectify. If your job is too big for a weekend handyman or handywoman, then it makes sense to bring in the professionals from the get-go. Before you commit, interview the contractors first. Check their references and see what they’ve already done. Promises don’t build houses; people do. Here’s a simple test: How fast do these prospective contractors return your phone calls? A contractor who responds quickly is probably more responsible than the one who leaves you hanging. After all, committing to a renovation project is stressful enough, why compound the anxiety?

Remember: There’s no shame in bailing out of a project that proves more than your match. In fact, knowing your limitations is a sign of wisdom. The skilled professionals at Alure Home Improvements are ready to help you, no matter what stage you’re in. Of course, the earlier you consult them, the better the project will look—and the faster it’s likely to be completed to meet, and exceed, all your expectations.

Your Smart Home Knows a Lot About You

A house on Long Island (Wikimedia Commons)

How much does your smart home know about you? That was the question that Charles Givre, a data scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton, set out to answer in a recent experiment. Givre has an account on Wink, a platform designed to control, from a single screen, his Internet-connected home devices, such as door locks, window shades and LED lights. He wanted to learn what could be learned from his usage behavior. It turned out it was a little too much.

Last week, at a big data conference in New York, Givre presented his results. By accessing his Wink account, he (or anyone with his login information) could identify his social media accounts, the names of his devices (like “Charles’s iPad) and his network information. An app that monitors his grill’s propane tank recorded the tank’s latitude and longitude, thus revealing the exact location of his house. From his Nest thermostat, he could figure out when his house was occupied and when it was not.

The goal of his experiment, Givre said, was not to demonstrate security flaws in his devices, but to document the wealth of information that they amass through everyday use. To access his usage history, some accounts required verification keys; others only asked for Givre’s email address and password. He wrote programs to “ping” his devices to gather new information about what was going on in his home in real time, and to find patterns there. He noted that his smart devices seemed to transmit information securely on its way to the companies’ servers, “but most of the interesting stuff was in the cloud anyway.”

As the trend toward networked “smart homes” and “connected cars” continues, security precautions are more important than ever. The Federal Trade Commission put out a report this year with best practices about how companies should notify their customers about data retention. Device makers say that customers can opt in or out of sharing their personal information with developers and third-party apps. But customers may not always be aware of just how much information their devices are collecting about them in the first place.

The account for Givre’s “Automatic” device, which plugs into his car and tracks its trips and performance, included his car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), with which accident and ownership history is easily accessible. He had also hooked his Automatic account to the web-based service IFTTT (“If This Then That”), which connects smart devices with shortcuts and triggers like “when the ‘Automatic’ device senses my car is home, turn on the lights.”

Interconnectedness, while convenient, is a trade-off. This portion of the experiment demonstrated how someone could “leapfrog” from one less-secure account to other accounts with more sensitive information. IFTTT collected his individual car trips in spreadsheets—including times, locations and even the exact routes he had taken—and protected this information only with an email address and password.

“If you were to start aggregating this over time, you could get a frighteningly accurate picture of pretty much where I am at any given time of day,” Givre said.

In fact, this data could also help build a character profile of someone. At the conference, Givre showed a graph of his car-trip frequencies by day of the week; there was a noticeable lack of activity on Saturdays. Why could that be? “I don’t roll on Shabbos,” Givre said, quoting “The Big Lebowski.”

When asked about Givre’s findings this week, a spokesperson from Wink emphasized that each customer can only access his or her own account information. “Users should not share their passwords with others or grant access to untrusted applications,” he wrote. A spokesperson from Nest wrote, “Customers have complete control” over what types of information developers would have access to, “and can stop sharing at any time.”

Buckley Slender-White, a spokesperson from Automatic, said Givre’s car’s VIN was only accessible to the app because Givre had opted to share it. As to Automatic’s sending his car trip information to IFTTT, Slender-White said, “importantly — that data is only accessible to the user and any app that they explicitly grant permission to.” Wink, Nest and Automatic address security and privacy concerns on their websites and suggest best practices to keep account information safe. (Attempts to reach the grilling app and IFTTT were unsuccessful.)

Smart home devices are part of an industry called the Internet of Things, which attaches data-collecting sensors to objects in order to track, measure or remote-control them. While the technology involved is not new, the industry is still young. Last summer, Ben Kaufman, the founder of Wink’s former parent company Quirky, told The New York Times that the Internet of Things is “still for hackers, early adopters and rich people.” But the industry continues to grow. “I think consumers need to understand that their relationship with their devices is fundamentally going to change,” Givre said.

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‘Cool Downtowns’ Won’t Cut It If Long Island’s Millennials Can’t Afford to Live, Work and Play Here

An artists rendering of the Tritec Redevelopment in Patchogue, one of Long Island's so-called "cool downtowns" where developers have built affordable, transit-oriented housing (Photo courtesy of Village of Patchogue).

All too often when the subject is Long Island’s millennial population, the topic is only addressed rhetorically at best: “What do Millennials Want?” “Why Are Millennials Different?” Or, tellingly, “Where Will Millennials Live?”

These questions are genuine but the discourse never draws any significant conclusion.

Policymakers, stakeholders and developers need to realize that millennials here—and across the country—want what every generation that came before them has wanted: decent housing at a fair price, and a good paying job. Not much mystery there, yet our region continually struggles with these issues.

Throw into the mix the ever-ominous phrase “Brain Drain,” and what you get are buzzwords and inertia. The Brain Drain, a topic which I’ve written on at length, is a multifaceted excuse for developers, policymakers and whoever else is itching to put a shovel in the ground, to justify their projects.

A quick look into the actual population statistics reveals the fact that LI is experiencing a “birth dearth,” a natural cycle that highlights lower birth rates. Further research also yields another interesting trend—seemingly every area is experiencing a “brain drain” of some kind. The pressing question that none of these policymakers or stakeholders ask is: if every county, town and village is experiencing a brain drain, where, exactly, are these young people winding up?

Since I’ve started writing on the topic (and will continue to do so!), the narrative on the Island is starting to recognize the birth dearth theory, which was popularized locally by progressive planners such as Seth Forman.

Recently, Amanda Fiscina, a former classmate of mine at Fordham University, wrote a compelling column for Newsday entitled “Where Should 20-Somethings on Long Island Live?”  By focusing on actions that can be taken like approving mixed-use zoning and supplying more apartments and co-ops, she offered a fresh take on topics that have been beaten to death by vested interests.

LI’s millennials, often the focal point of development strategies from both local government and private enterprise, need more affordable options. Instead of merely arguing for “cool downtowns” as so many think pieces on the subject tend to do, Fiscina argues for smart incentives to promote greater diversity of housing stock and suggests realistic means for millennials to build equity while remaining in the region.

Time and time again, policymakers, and the nonprofits, developers and the stakeholders who local leaders task with addressing this supposedly critical issue all say the same thing. If you build it, they will come—“cool downtowns” with restaurants, rooftop bars, bus-rapid transit and so on—with little to no consideration on how, exactly, the millennials who are being targeted with these “destinations” will be able to frequent those places being built. Millennials on Long Island need decent job opportunities, not organic spas that they can barely afford.

Fiscina hit a nerve when she wrote: “The lack of housing choices is pushing millennials off the Island or to move in with their families. It’s time to stop judging when we pick those two options if Long Island won’t build what we need.”

She’s right—we’re not building what millennials really need. Our regional economy must be diversified. Retail expansion is what passes for economic development, but few millennials loaded down with student loan debt can support a “cool” lifestyle on LI on retail wages alone. It’s time to adapt the Island’s suburbia to the employment trends and economic demands of the 21st century.

As our hospitality and retail industries swell, other occupations offering higher salaries and better opportunities for educated residents continue either to decline, as is the case of local manufacturing, or struggle to establish a foothold in the Nassau-Suffolk region. Our current transit-oriented boom is rooted in sound planning principles, but the region must go further. It is one thing to build rental housing, but if it isn’t affordable for the supposed target audience, then what good is it?

Fortunately, there is hope. Efforts to incubate new technology firms from non-profit groups such as Accelerate Long Island and LaunchPad Huntington, and a renewed focus by the Rauch Foundation to help coordinate the Island’s prestigious research institutions may attract attention from the right business sectors and lead to job creation. Let’s take it to the next level by synchronizing the approach of local Industrial Development Agencies to accompany the endeavors of the Long Island Association. If LI’s municipalities no longer have to compete with one another, our region will be free to stave off bigger threats from other states.

As a result, millennials may finally get the creative solutions to the complex problems vexing them here today.

Rich Murdocco writes about Long Island’s land use and real estate development issues. He received his Master’s in Public Policy at Stony Brook University, where he studied regional planning under Dr. Lee Koppelman, Long Island’s veteran master planner. Murdocco is a regular contributor to the Long Island Press. More of his views can be found on www.TheFoggiestIdea.org or follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea.