Top 10 Most-Read Long Island Feature Stories of 2014

Clockwise from top left: The Blue Angels, comic Jim Breuer, Brentwood’s Modern Times, guitar hero Joe Satriani, a Long Island underground railroad stop, a scene from AMC’s TURN series about the Culper Spy Ring, Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo and LI’s take on the cronut. Center: a couple strolling along the shore in Long Beach.

We at the Press love taking a look at what news stories readers clicked on most in a given year, but that list omits the more fun feature articles the staff wrote.

So, here are the top 10 most-read stories covering lighter subjects such as cronuts, trips down memory lane and celebrity interviews—a few of which went more smoothly than others.

Here’s to another year of informing, entertaining and educating the opinion leaders of Long Island!

10. Cronut Craze Sparks Long Island Donut Pastry (R)evolution Whenever you get to visit some of the top donut spots on Long Island and sample their delicious products, you know it’s a good day at the office. We found a bakery in Huntington that produces lovely croissant donuts, an Italian bakery in Bellmore that specializes in the Inis–a fried zeppole donut filled with connoli cream–and a forward-thinking baker in Greenport whose “Sconut” became the talk of the town.

9. How Long Island’s Culper Spy Ring Helped Washington Beat the British
Black petticoats, white handkerchiefs and invisible ink were the tools that enabled the Culper Ring of Long Island spies to help Gen. George Washington turn the tide against the mightiest empire the world had ever seen. The ring linked a courageous farmer in Setauket to an eccentric wealthy merchant in Oyster Bay and the owner of a coffeehouse in Manhattan who published a pro-Tory rag but was actually collecting information on British troop movements. The name was a play on Culpepper County in Virginia, where Washington once worked as a surveyor. After the war was won, Washington came back to Long Island to pay his respects to those whose identities he knew but he never learned that “Culper Jr.,” his most valuable spy, was actually Robert Townsend, whose father’s place, Raynham Hall, still stands in Oyster Bay today. [Read More About George Washington’s Time On Long Island HERE]

8. Inside the Blue Angels 2014 Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach Practice
Every year, before the Bethpage Air Show at Jones Beach, daredevil pilots invite local journalists to strap in for a fly-along as the airmen and women do their practice runs. Without fail, someone always pukes. But, that’s half the fun.

7. Slavery and Salvation: Long Island’s Underground Railroad
How many slaves came through Long Island to escape their chains may never be known for sure but a growing body of evidence points to the key role that Long Island Quaker “conductors” played on the Underground Railroad, which had as much resemblance to the LIRR as the LIE does today. There were no tracks, just a path to freedom that sometimes ran through places here like the old Maine Maid Inn in Jericho. Certainly the Island had its share of slaves—in fact the Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, which once was the largest working plantation north of the Mason Dixon line, still stands today as a reminder of that long disgraceful period in American history.

6. Long Island’s Guitar God Joe Satriani Talks Strange Beautiful Music
Guitar virtuoso and Carle Place-native Joe Satriani chatted with the Press about growing up on Long Island, passing on his prodigious skills to such notable guitar giants as Steve Vai, and musicians from such varied bands as Metallica, Third Eye Blind, and Counting Crows. Satriani’s inspired rock memoir Strange, Beautiful Music and the accompanying box set documents his meteoric rise to legend status, yet in an exclusive interview, Satch revealed what was behind his monstrous talent: a humble, intelligent, extremely nice guy. That is, until you get him talking about Chickenfoot bandmate Sammy Hagar…

5. Where Brentwood is Today Once Stood Long Island’s Own Utopia
Today’s Brentwood residents can be forgiven if they’ve forgotten that their community was once known as Modern Times, a utopian experiment in communal living with no jail, no judge and no police, since the name was changed 150 years ago while the Civil War was raging. The most visible reminder of that halcyon period, when “free love” reigned there for 13 years, is the wooden octagonal school house, built in 1857, now on the grounds of the Brentwood school district and listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

4. Beach Hacks: An Insider’s Guide to Long Island Beaches
Did you know that there are more oceanside places to lay out on the sand on Long Island’s South Shore other than Jones Beach? If you answered no, you probably need to read this roundup of lesser-known beach spots. You’re welcome.

3. Jim Breuer, Long Island’s Former Bay Boy Jokester, Opens Up About Life, God and Heavy Metal
This portrait of SNL alum and Valley Stream-born comedian Jim Breuer took a deep turn when, over a cup of Joe in a coffee joint in Breuer’s current hometown in New Jersey, the comic opened up about his relationship with his wife, his dedication to his family, including his father who passed away earlier this year, and God. Of course, he still managed to work in his raw observational humor and the love of hard rock that inspired his many metal born friendships and the rock album he recently recorded (on Long Island!)

2. My Squashed Interview With Steve Madden, Shoe Guru Turned Ex-Convict
In the squashed interview that turned into a user’s guide for P.R. professionals on exactly what not to do, Press writer Jaime Franchi’s attempt to meet up for a scheduled one-on-one with the shoe-guru-turned-criminal-turned-shoe-guru-again became a handler’s nightmare when at first his marketing director tried to control the pre-scheduled questions, then cancelled the interview last minute, and then lied about Madden being stuck in traffic for a mall appearance. This unprofessionalism just might have been influenced by a story we’d published a few weeks before profiling the victims that fell prey to Madden and fellow Long Islander Jordan Belford’s scam that landed them in prison and inspired the film The Wolf of Wall Street [Read That Story HERE].

1. My Not-So-Psychic Experience With Long Island Medium Theresa Caputo
In the most read story of 2014, Press writer Jaime Franchi tried to suspend her disbelief during a performance of the Long Island Medium at the NYCB Westbury theater. Alas, while she found Caputo sassy and entertaining, her attempts to connect audience members with those on the other side seemed almost completely contrived and, more often than not, fell flat. Does Thesera Caputo communicate with the dead? Quite possibly. Did she on the night that our writer observed her show? Um. No.

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