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For Artists and Poets, the East End Is No Dead End—Just Another ‘Hole in the Ocean’

By Sandy McIntosh

At the Los Angeles Convention Center this March, 12,000 to 15,000 writers, members of the nation’s graduate creative writing programs, will meet in workshops and networking parties at the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs gathering. They’ll be representing thousands of fellow writing students, many of whom will shortly graduate as fully qualified poets.

That’s a lot of fully qualified poets!

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Given the lack of openings for poets in the job market, one question they must ask themselves is: “What will happen to me outside the walls of academia? Has there ever been a real, vital life out there for the serious writer?”

My new memoir, A Hole In the Ocean, a Hamptons’ Apprenticeship, offers an answer.

Back in 1970, when the East End of Long Island was a quiet, difficult-to-access refuge for painters and writers who’d washed up on its shores from cities and towns around the world, I enrolled as an English major at Southampton College. The college, now Stony Brook/ Southampton, was then the furthest outpost of Long Island University. It had been founded to teach the children of the year-round residents, the workers living in the towns along the East End shore.

What I found were teachers unlike any I’d met. Not merely scholars, these professors were the real thing: writers and artists of national, even international repute, quietly spending their winters in a warm and collegial place.

These were artists such as Willem de Kooning, Ilya Bolotowsky and Ibram Lassau, and award-winning writers such as H. R. Hays, David Ignatow and Charles Matz.

Why had these accomplished artists gathered at a small, rural college? De Kooning once explained it to me: “We’re here in the wintertime. We work in our studios all day and some of us want to get together at night, usually at some bar. Then people get drunk and into fights and the police come. But now we can meet at the college and talk, and we don’t get into too much trouble.”

A Hole In the Ocean is my recollections of these unique artists I got to know on campus and off. Instead of classroom instruction, these craftsmen offered me their criticism, as well as their friendship, for many years to come. In return I played unofficial chauffeur, therapist, straight-man and witness to their successes and foibles.

And I learned that it was possible to live as a writer and as a member of a supportive—if  incessantly quirky—artists’ community.

One summer evening in 1970, after my shift pumping gas, I was driving home along Springs Fireplace Road in East Hampton when I had to brake suddenly to avoid hitting a tall, thin man on a bicycle.  He had swerved out of a side road, and crossed in front of me without looking. I pulled over to catch my breath.  As I drew closer, I recognized Willem de Kooning, whom I had met at Southampton College during my first year. I watched as he rode along, pedaling uncertainly, his bike weaving figure eights from right to left.  At one point he seemed to lose interest in pedaling. The bike came to a stop, stayed motionless for a moment, then pitched over to the right, its rider falling gently into the thick, uncut brush and rolling two or three times until coming to rest under some trees.  I shut off my car and ran over to him.  He didn’t seem hurt; in fact, he was smiling pleasantly, his eyes closed as if dreaming. I touched his arm and he looked up.  He was okay, he told me, but could I give him a ride home? It was getting dark and he had no light on his bike.

Hole in the Ocean

I helped him into my car and loaded his bicycle into the back seat. He told me to continue east, then take the right fork before Barnes’ grocery store.  He was living in a farmhouse opposite the Green River cemetery, he said, but this was only temporary, until they finished building his new studio.  “I don’t want them to finish the damn thing,” he said with some bitterness.  I asked why not? “Because when it’s finished, I think I will be finished, too.”

We drove on for a few minutes until he told me to stop. “I live right here,” he said.  He looked in the direction of the cemetery and pointed: “All my friends are buried over there.”

I was curious. I helped him out of the car and to his front door, and when he was safely inside, I crossed the road to the cemetery.

It seemed a conventional graveyard with moldering tombstones.  But then I caught sight of a grave marker that was odd.  It was an obsidian monolith standing about four feet high. Engraved on its face was a man’s signature: the painter Stuart Davis.  Looking around in that section of the cemetery, I found other oddly shaped stones, each with the name of an artist or a writer I had heard of.  In front of Stuart Davis’ grave was a white marble square that marked the grave of Ad Reinhardt.  I discovered the flat slate grave maker of Frank O’Hara, the New York School poet who had been run over by the only vehicle on Fire Island. Inscribed on it was his quotation: “Grace to be born and live / as variously as possible.” Just north of O’Hara’s grave was that of the writer A. J. Liebling, the war correspondent, boxing expert, world-class eater, and, for many years at The New Yorker, a critic of the press.  Finally, at the end of the cemetery, almost in the woods, a great boulder with a bronze plaque marked Jackson Pollock’s grave.  I continued on, following the horseshoe road until I came to a fence. On the other side were objects—gravestones, I thought—that were extremely weird, even grotesque, resembling Native totem poles.  I wondered about that section of the cemetery for a long time. (In fact, I learned eventually, the odd objects were not grave markers but rough carvings in the side yard of the sculptor Albert Price’s house.)  Later I described the little graveyard to my friends as a place “with dead people on one side and artists on the other.”  I visited the place often, even picnicking and napping on an artist’s plot that was behind some trees, out of public view.

The cemetery was a quiet place in all seasons, and from Labor Day to Memorial Day around 1970 the noisy Hamptons’ main streets were quiet, too. The only businesses open after 8:00 p.m. were the bars and cafes, each town supplied with one or two of each. Standing  on Main Street you could actually hear the crashing of ocean waves a half-mile away, a sound reverberating against the empty sidewalks and closed summer stores, surprisingly primitive and frightening.

——

Green River Cemetery has been expanded by at least an acre or two behind Pollock’s boulder.  Artists and writers continue to be buried there, and who they were and what they are famous for reflects something of the upscale attraction of the modern Hamptons. Filmmakers such as Stan Vanderbeek and producer Alan Pakula are buried there, as is the celebrated French chef, Pierre Franey, to name three.  The cost of graves, I understand, is prohibitively expensive, except for the very wealthy—as is everything else thereabouts. Even so, the cemetery was silent at my last visit as all of the Springs had once been, even at the height of summer.  I reflected on my encounter with de Kooning long before, and had the sobering thought that in subsequent summers a tipsy artist wobbling on his bicycle in a Hampton’s road would have little chance of surviving the tourist traffic, which is grim, relentless and unforgiving.  In fact, I realized, the easy access I had in my time to the wonderful artists and writers living there may no longer be possible.  These days they all seem to remain cloistered in their compounds, their public appearances protected by bodyguards.

At Canio’s bookstore in Sag Harbor some years ago, Harvey Shapiro  read a poem called “For Armand and David” that touched on feelings shared by those of us who have considered the Hamptons a refuge for our poetic selves.

“When we were young,” Shapiro’s poem begins:

And our children were young—

the water was such a mystery,

the sky so blue.  Everything

breathed promise.  The language

would blaze forth,

did blaze forth…

 

To the rich vacationers

our lives meant nothing.

We kept investing them with meaning

until the enterprise broke us.

I see these same sights,

bleared now.  Words

broken into stony syllables,

blackened in remembrance.

 

At the end of 1970—and as we did each year back then—Armand Schwerner, David Ignatow, Harvey Shapiro, Hoffman Hays, Allen Planz, Sy Perchick and others of us gathered during November or December to celebrate some last event before winter. A few times I remember Armand grunting a kind of benediction to end the season.

“And now,” he’d pronounced in his ominous tones, “for four months of shit.”

We’d look up into the grey sky, and that would be it till we’d meet again in spring.

Sandy McIntosh is the author of eleven volumes of poetry, as well as books on business, cooking, and a best-selling computer software program, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing! He taught creative writing at Hofstra University and Long Island University. He was managing editor of LIU’s Confrontation magazine. He is publisher of Marsh Hawk Press.

(Featured photo illustration: Ken Robbins)

14 Long Island Stereotypes Through The Eyes Of A Queens Chick

Long Island Stereotypes
14 Stereotypes About Long Islanders Through The Eyes Of A Queens Chick!

By Danielle Esposito

I’ll preface this article by saying I’m a chick from Queens who loves Long Island. I’m partial to Queens, we are a very loyal breed, and to this day I still feel pretty bad ass when I say I have grown up in the best, most culturally diverse and food-centric borough (sorry, L.I., but our pizza and bagel joints will win in any food duel), but I’ll admit that I’ve enjoyed a long love affair with the Island.

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As a Queens native, I’ve definitely viewed Long Island in all sorts of ways growing up—and as a lot of my family currently lives on the Island (shout out Wantagh), I can resoundingly say that a lot of these remain true, at least in the eyes of us Queens folk, and in a totally loving way.

Without further ado, here are my (and some fellow Queens friends’) 14 Long Island Stereotypes:

1. Long Islanders can’t parallel park.
Truth be told I can’t blame most of you. I’ve heard on more than one occasion that “I haven’t had to parallel park since my road test” from my L.I. friends and family, but it still makes me laugh when a Long Island friend comes to visit me and I get that frantic phone call that they need help parking their car on my block—and rest assured, I’ll get it right—on the first try.

2. White BMWs! White BMWs everywhere!
As I know this to only be a half-truth now, growing up we did always picture Long Island as a sparkly alien land where all teenaged girls received white bimmers on their sixteenth birthdays. Although this might not reign true for everybody, I bet you still know someone who got one!

3. Speaking of sixteenth birthdays, what’s up with Sweet Sixteens?
Personally I feel that Long Island invented this crazy ritual of overly extravagant Sweet Sixteens. Or was it that terrible MTV show? Regardless, having a mini-wedding for your sixteenth birthday still makes no sense — although I will admit I did attend approximately 678 of them in high school, back when reggae music was a thing.

4. Long Islanders really like to hang out in malls.
Like after school, or when they’re cutting school, or on the weekends, and especially in the summer. Mainly in the food court. Sometimes whilst walking around with an iced Starbucks Frappuccino (extra whip, extra caramel, no coffee).

5. Lacrosse.
I still don’t get lacrosse, but Long Islanders sure do.

6. Long Islanders are scared of coming to Queens (and NEVER wear jewelry on the subway!).
This one makes me sad, but I’ve definitely heard it on way more than one occasion. If you come to visit me, don’t worry, you’re safe. We actually have trees, and sidewalks, and really cute puppies. Subways are a means of transportation and it’s definitely a faster way to get from neighborhood to neighborhood. You shouldn’t be scared of them. In fact, I’ve participated in some amazingly fun dance parties on subways before—seriously, a band was playing music on the 3 train on New Year’s Eve 2013 and IT. WAS. AWESOME.

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7. If a group of 10 Long Island girls goes out on the town, at least three will end up crying (and they really like to yell “WOOOO!”).
I’ve seen a lot of crying drunk Long Island girls before. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen a lot of crying drunk Queens girls before, too. But the ratio is like 264:3. I don’t think I have to describe the latter; you guys are just really excitable—not necessarily a bad thing.

8. Long Island bars are always in strip malls.
You guys really do have a lot of strip malls. They’re cool and all—but why are there so many? And isn’t it weird drinking while squeezed between a vet’s office and a nail salon?

9. Brunch.
“Yaaaaaassss. Put on your best 6-inch heels, Kelly, we are going to BRUNCH!”

10. Shorts and slippers and polo shirts, bro.
A Long Island man’s casual outfit of choice.

11. Long Islanders have very unique beer pong abilities.
We’ll give you that—but your house rules tend to be unnecessarily intricate.

12. Everybody is some percentage of Italian.
You can also get into heated debates on whether that red stuff on meatballs is called sauce or gravy. Pick your battles? This one is worth it. And don’t forget, “We eat pizza on Fridays.”

13. Long Islanders love diners.
No argument here.

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14. Long Islanders have so much room.
Seriously. Or maybe I’ve just lived in the confines of New York City for too long—regardless, whenever we come here we can’t believe how much room you have. You guys also have actual backyards—and POOLS. Your Queens friends will be coming over all summer. We’ll bring meat for the barbeque.

Listen, I love Long Island. In fact, I very happily and consciously pursued finding a career on the Island. Trekking into the city (The City = Manhattan) was just not something I wanted to do any more, and I’ve found the people who reside on this Island aren’t so alien after all. I’ll keep my roots planted in my borough, but I do love heading out here each day. And even though I still feel a slight separation in the way Long Islanders do things (or maybe I’ve just had too many 40 oz on stoops in my time), I find the differences endearing.

At the end of the day, Queens and Long Island are really just like two arch enemies who secretly both love each other deep down. Frenemies, if you will.

I’ll make fun of you all day but don’t worry, I’ve got your back when Jersey butts in.

‘Truth & Power’ Examines How Citizens Are Fighting Back Against Government Surveillance

By Rashed Mian and Christopher Twarowski

Top-secret technology that was once exclusive to the US military has recently funneled down to local law enforcement agencies, and for years, only its creators and those ostensibly using it in the name of justice knew of its existence. But thanks to intrepid attorneys, an IRS fraudster (believe it or not), journalists and now filmmakers, this effective but deeply controversial cell-tracking device is being exposed to much-needed public scrutiny.

Known as Stingrays, or “cell site simulators,” the devices are covertly being used by law enforcement agencies across the country to track down suspects—and not just those accused of terror-related crimes.

The briefcase-sized device essentially mimics a cell tower, allowing authorities to track down a suspect through their cell phone—and collect phone numbers of those they communicate with. In some cases, the actual content of calls can be collected. What’s most concerning, activists say, is potential dragnet surveillance of areas where the device is being used, because Stingrays also gobble up information from phones in the target’s vicinity. Its existence—and what its being used for—is so secret that even judges have objected to its use without court authorization.

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Seeking to shed more light on the spy tool—and a whole lot more—are the creators behind “Truth and Power,” a thought-provoking docu-series on Pivot narrated by Oscar-nominated actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. The series covers a number of hot-button topics that aren’t as clouded in secrecy as Stingrays—from drones and surveillance to privatized prisons and America’s broken campaign finance system.

Journalists and members of the public got a front row seat to the series Thursday night in Manhattan during a screening at The Paley Center for Media, followed by a engrossing panel discussion. The event was hosted by Gyllenhaal. The actress briefly spoke about her own challenges confronting surveillance and the difficulties of dealing with every day life while questioning the mechanisms governments are using to spy on its own citizens.

“Somewhere we already knew everything that [Edward] Snowden told us,” she told the packed audience. “Not the horrible details and the specifics, not the proof. But we unconsciously knew that our privacy—our constitutional and human rights—were being violated. And I think maybe we didn’t really want to think about it. So the information Snowden gave us didn’t shock us into action, and in a way, we didn’t care.”

But those brave enough to confront the ever-expanding invasion of privacy, whether it’s by governments or mega-corporations collecting mounds of info on citizens, should serve as role models and heroes, she said.

Documentary filmmaker Brian Knappenberger, the director of “The Internet’s Own Boy,” serves as executive producer on “Truth and Power.”

For the first episode, he follows Daniel Rigmaiden, a complicated character who exposed the program after he was indicted on 74 counts, including tax fraud. Rigmaiden, who made a half-million dollars by filing fraudulent tax returns by using the identities of dead people, was arrested in 2008 in large part due to help from a Stingray device. Confounded by how the authorities were able to uncover his whereabouts, Rigmaiden, known only as “The Hacker” before his arrest, sifted through hundreds of court documents and later exposed the use of Stingray in his apprehension. Federal prosecutors eventually offered a guilty plea of time served. In the show, Rigmaiden suggests it’s because the government did not want Stingray to come under public scrutiny.

Nathan Wessler, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU)’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, and a panelist at Thursday’s post-screening discussion, emphasized the importance of Rigmaiden’s role in finally forcing the Stingray and related technologies out from the shadows.

“He cracked this open in a way that nobody had done before,” Wessler told the audience, “despite the fact that federal law enforcement communities [were using] these devices for well over 20 years.

“As the phone networks have gotten more sophisticated, the devices have gotten more sophisticated,” he continued. “But they’ve been around for a long time, and shrouded in really extraordinary secrecy. And so, the first challenge was to learn what was going on, and Daniel is the person who figured that out.”

Since Rigmaiden’s release from prison, Wessler and the other panelists explained, the felon-turned-activist and a host of attorneys at the ACLU have been tirelessly filing public information lawsuits to decipher just how many agencies use Stingray, or similar devices. So far, the ACLU has identified the device in 59 agencies across 23 states, including New York State Police. Despite the progress that’s been made, little is still known about Stingrays. Just getting agencies to admit to simply purchasing the technology is a difficult task because local authorities are tethered to a non-disclosure agreement they sign with the FBI upon purchasing the equipment.


“We unconsciously knew that our privacy—our constitutional and human rights—were being violated.”


Just as problematic, news agencies sifting through police department budgets looking for Stingray purchases will likely come up empty-handed, because such acquisitions may be made through federal grants, thus skirting legislative approval or public discourse.

Knappenberger, who also directed the acclaimed documentary about activist Aaron Swartz titled “The Internet’s Own Boy,” says the series will focus largely on how citizens are standing up to government intrusion.

“The basic thing is looking at abuses of power and people fighting back against abuses of power and broad institutional failures,” he tells the Press.

The first episode that premiered on Jan. 22 examined how law enforcement tracked Black Lives Matter protesters. The most recent looked into how hackers uncovered they were being surveilled through government-approved spyware. The 10-episode series will end with an episode on how drones are being used on US soil.

If Netflix’s “How to Make a Murderer” forced a maintsream audience to accept the flaws within the US justice system, then “Truth and Power” endeavors to lift the veil on government surveillance and how it’s not only criminals who are the targets of uber-secret technology, but the American public’s constitutional rights as well.

The series will air each Friday until its finale on March 25.

(Photo credit: Pivot/YouTube)

Beyond Manning & Cam: 10 Super Bowl Storylines You Should Follow

By Nick Pasco

By now everyone knows that the Super Bowl may be the last game of Peyton Manning’s career and that Cam Newton is a budding star who may eventually assume the mantle as face of the league. Since we get two weeks of nonstop Super Bowl coverage, those two storylines, while extremely relevant, have us yearning for other notable nuggets to sink our teeth into before we gorge ourselves on wings, chips, and copious amounts of delicious, tummy-soothing guacamole, which we’ll no doubt wash down with hop-heavy craft brews.

Since our beloved local franchises weren’t good enough to even make the playoffs, we’ve been stuck in a torturous malaise since the end of the regular season. Finally, the season is coming to an end and pitchers and catchers will be reporting in a matter of weeks, so we have something else to look forward to. But before you sit down and power on your brand new flat screen, check out some Super Bowl storylines that haven’t gotten as much attention in the lead-up to this year’s Manning Retirement Bowl.

1. Thomas Davis: Davis has had some tough luck. The linebacker tore his ACL in the same knee three years in a row, from 2009, 2010, and 2011. To his credit, Davis has not given up. He is reportedly the only known player to battle back from three ACL tears throughout his career. On top of that, Davis broke his right forearm in the NFC Championship game wipeout of the Arizona Cardinals. Davis says he will play despite the fact he has 12 screws and a metal plate in his arm.

2. Cam Newton/Von Miller: Carolina QB Cam Newton and Denver pass-rush extraordinaire Von Miller were taken No. 1 and 2 in the 2011 NFL Draft. Now the dynamic athletes find themselves opposing each other in the biggest game of their careers. When Newton steps up behind center, he’ll no doubt be paying close attention to Miller out of the corner of his eye, given the linebacker’s dominant performance against the New England Patriots and Tom Brady in the AFC Championship game. Newton is no slouch himself. Should be fun.

3. Jared Allen/DeMarcus Ware: Allen and Ware, two of the most ferocious pass rushers in the league for the past decade, sit atop the list of active sack leaders and are both 33 years old. The veteran QB chasers will both be playing in their first Super Bowl after previously falling short with their former teams. Allen is tied with Green Bay’s Julius Peppers with 136 career sacks and Ware is right behind with 134.5 sacks.

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4. Demaryius Thomas: Thomas’ mother Katin Smith was recently released from prison after serving 15 years for a drug trafficking charge, which came with a 20-year sentence. Smith in November was released to a halfway house after President Obama commuted her sentence, along with 45 other federal prisoners. On Jan. 17, Smith for the first time watched her son play on an NFL field when the Broncos battled the Steelers in the AFC Divisional Round game. After the Broncos’ big win, Thomas gave the game ball to his mom. On Sunday, she’ll be in San Francisco to watch her son play in the Super Bowl.

5.Ron Rivera: Panthers head coach Ron Rivera can make history in a few ways Sunday if Carolina comes out on top. He can join three other head coaches who won a Super Bowl both as a player and a head coach. Rivera could also be the second coach in history with Hispanic roots to win the big game.

6. Michael Oher: A year after struggling with injuries as a Tennessee Titan, Oher, the inspiration for the book The Blind Side and the hit film of the same name, was recruited to join the Panthers by Cam Newton because the quarterback’s brother Cecil played with him in Baltimore, albeit as a member of the practice squad. Oher, whose tough childhood was documented in the popular film and whom bounced back after being waived by Tennessee, has yet to give up a sack in the playoffs.

7. Greg Olsen: Olsen, who is the Panthers’ top option on offense, is making waves off the field for a good cause. Olsen is selling retro t-shirts showing some of the Panthers players on a trip to California for the Super Bowl. The shirts are selling for $25 each, with proceeds going to Olsen’s “HEARTest Yard” program, which helps families of children with congenital heart defects.

8. Ted Ginn Jr.: The Panthers wideout and former ninth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft was once considered a bust not too long ago, after failing to live up to his billing as a play-making receiver. After bouncing around the league, which included stops in San Francisco, Carolina, and Arizona, Ginn is back with the Panthers, but this time performing like the player Miami thought they were getting when they invested a top-10 pick on him nine years ago.

9. Jerricho Cotchery: Jerricho Cotchery, a former Jet, has come a long way since joining a gang at age 12 in Birmingham, Alabama, and surviving a car wreck that killed his friend. Cotchery, an Ed Block Courage Award winner, which is given to players who demonstrate sportsmanship and courage, is also a highly religious man and a great locker room presence and ultimate professional. The 33-year-old is a very reliable possession receiver for the Panthers.

10. Corey Brown/ Bradley Roby: Corey Brown, a Panthers wideout, and Bradley Roby, a Broncos corner, will most certainly face each other at some point during Sunday’s game. While their matchup is not a hot topic, what is interesting is they were roommates in college when they played at Ohio State.

Do This: Long Island Concerts & Events February 4 – February 10

Lil Kim
Lil Kim

Centenary of the 1916 Easter Uprising
Barbara Jones, the consul General of Ireland, will discuss Irish history and the commemorations planned in New York for the Easter Uprising’s 100th Anniversary. On Monday, April 24, 1916, the day after Easter, Patrick Pearse and his comrades took over the General Post Office in Dublin and read what is known as the “Proclamation of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic to the People of Ireland.” They proclaimed their sovereignty over the then-British controlled state. While the proclamation at that time did not hold, within the next few years, Ireland declared its independence. Madison Theatre at Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre. molloy.edu Free. 5 p.m. February 4.

Sam Woolf
This folk/pop singer songwriter known for his original arrangements, beautiful pitch perfect tone and emotional original songs. He gained national recognition as a finalist on American Idol’s 2014 season where he placed in the Top 5. Warming up the crowd are Dylan Brady, a multi-instrumentalist, and Como Brothers, a blues, pop music and rock band. 89 North Music Venue, 89 North Ocean Ave., Patchogue. 89northmusic.com $10. 7 p.m. February 4.

Jack Licitra
Triple J Productions presents: Jerry Schaefer’s Americana Showcase with Jack Licitra. Expect a musical mash-up as they play together and on their own, with musical director Jack Licitra providing some extra flavor! Radio host, Jerry Schaefer will be hosting a Q&A, with each artist, prior to their respective sets. The whole show will be recorded for broadcast on Jerry’s Sunday night Graveyard Blues program. Treme Blues and Jazz Club, 553 Main St., Islip. tremeislip.com Free. 8 p.m. February 4.

Bye Bye Birdie
This classic musical comedy about rock star Conrad Birdie, the women who love him and the guys who want to be him. But when the U.S. Army drafts Birdie, his manager sends Conrad to small-town America to plant his goodbye kiss on one lucky fan for the entire world to see. See what happens next! Landmark on Main Street, 232 Main St., Suite 1, Port Washington. landmarkonmainstreet.org $27.50. 7 p.m. February 4, 8 p.m. February 6.

Earth, Air and Water: A Celebration of Tri-State Wildlife and Nature ***RESCHEDULED TO FEBRUARY 12
An opening reception will be held for a photo exhibit showcasing the natural beauty and splendor of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In addition to many spectacular images of animals, flowers and breathtaking water scenes, some photographs include people and man-made structures. Exhibit runs through February 27. Main Street Gallery, 213 Main St., Huntington. huntingtonarts.org Free. 6-8 p.m. February 5.

Todd Rundgren
This multi-talented songwriter and producer will play his classic hits spanning 24 albums, including “Hello It’s Me,” “I Saw the Light” and “Bang the Drum All Day.” NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $39.50-$69.50. 8 p.m. February 5.

Eric Martin of Mr. Big
This hometown hero is best known for penning/singing the classic ’90s ballad “To Be With You” when he led the supergroup Mr. Big, before going solo. Now he’s back and playing both Mr. Big classics as well as new solo material. Opening the show are Craving Strange, No Angelz, Mick James and The Heartless Devils. Revolution Bar and Music Hall, 140 Merrick Rd., Amityville. clubloaded.com/events $18, $20 DOS. 8 p.m. February 5.

Lez Zeppelin
The New York City-based all-girl band has gained worldwide critical acclaim—from no less than Jimmy Page himself, who praised the group for “extraordinary musicianship,” passion and the sensuality they bring to the music of Led Zeppelin. Opening the show is Anna Rose. Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com $35. 8 p.m. February 5.

The Lords of 52nd Street
Long Island’s best musicians—Liberty DeVitto, Richie Cannata and Russell Javors—whom Billy Joel hand-selected to help create his classic hits and unforgettable tours, reunite on stage once again as The Lords of 52nd Street! Get ready to hear an eclectic mix of tunes from the Piano Man’s music catalog including hits and rarities with the same energy and passion as you’ve always known, because the band recorded, toured and performed extensively with Joel during his prominence in the 1970s and ’80s. The Lords aided in the creation of hit records with Joel including: “The Stranger,” “52nd Street” and “Glass Houses.” Opening the show will be Rick & Tara Eberle of iRideSense The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave, Westbury.venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $30-125. 8 p.m. February 5.

Rex & The Rockabilly Kings
This Elvis celebration show is all about The King’s early era. Bring your Pink Cadillac and your Blue Suede Shoes and dance to the dozens of amazing songs that inspired John Lennon, Keith Richards and so many more, and changed popular music forever. The Rockabilly Kings features Scotty Moore-style electric guitar, Bill Black-style slap back bass, DJ Fontana-style drums and Elvis Presley-style acoustic guitar plus great lead, and Jordanaires-style backing vocals. Add it up and you get a whole lot of burning love. YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 West Main St., Bay Shore. boultoncenter.org $25-$30. 8 p.m.  February 5. highlands_voices_high_res_w_logosSingStrong New York A Cappella Festival
The movie Pitch Perfect and the TV show Sing-Off give you a glimpse of the incredible A Cappella concerts at SingStrong. Five completely different concerts and two days of classes feature A Cappella pop, jazz, doo-wop, barbershop and even beatbox artists—all performing with nothing but the human voice. Professionals, high schools, college groups—there’s even an open group you can join! Adelphi University Performing Arts Center, Adelphi University, 1 South Ave., Garden City. aupac.adelphi.edu $20-$200. Times vary, February 5-7.

Artists’ Choice 2016
An opening reception will be held for this art exhibit that compares and contrasts artists’ interpretations of subject matter and styles. Gallery members invite artists they respect and admire to show with them. “The emotional strength of Evan Campanella’s artistic vision influenced my newest series of photographs,” said member Katherine Criss. Runs through February 28. b. j. spoke gallery, 299 Main St, Huntington. bjspokegallery.org $3. 6-9 p.m. February 6.

Joey Kola
This comic’s high energy, spot-on punch lines and fast delivery assault an audience like a comedic freight train. Joey’s topical and timeless material combine to always make his audiences laugh hard. He always leaves everyone drunken with laughter. The Brokerage Comedy Club, 2797 Merrick Rd., Bellmore. brokerage.govs.com $22. 7:30 p.m. February 6.

Eric Burdon & The Animals
Fifty years since this great band took over the airwaves at the forefront of the British Invasion, the band is back on tour so you can relive the legendary singles such as “Baby, Let Me Take You Home” and “House of the Rising Sun,” and enjoy so much more of their powerful repertoire as it evolved over the years, from San Francisco to New Castle. With Burdon’s soulful vocals, they’re the definition of classic rock and roll. Opening the show will be Randy Jackson of Zebra. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $15-$45. 8 p.m. February 6.

Long Island House of Rock
Long Island classic rock bands Blue Oyster Cult and Vanilla Fudge will rock their hometowns once more. BOC, who’ve sold 24 million albums worldwide, need no introduction, but for those readers living under rocks, they’re best known for their hit “The Reaper.” Fellow hometown heroes Vanilla Fudge are best known for their hit “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” Opening the show are fellow New York-based band Blue Magoos. NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $39.50. 8 p.m. February 6.

Paul Reiser
The star of Mad About You shares his tales of love, life and the funny things people do in relationships while he tours the comedy circuit between movie roles. The Main Stage at Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nichols Rd., Stony Brook. $48. 8 p.m. February 6.

Shahkar
Shahkar Bineshpajooh’s accomplishments as a musician, composer, singer, poet and producer could fill volumes. Born in 1972 in Tehran, Iran, Shahkar taught himself guitar, piano and drums when he was only 15 years old. At his family’s behest, he turned his focus to academics and became the youngest student in Iran to receive a doctorate in urban planning. Still, his love of music and poetry never died. His moving vocal performances with the Los Angeles and London Symphony Orchestras electrified his audiences. The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave., Westbury.thespaceatwestbury.com $55-$150. 9 p.m. February 6.

Lil Kim and Funk Flex
The high-power hip hop DJ and the Queen Bee herself on one stage? No, this is not too good to be true—these two rap legends are joining forces for one incredible show. For more than a decade, two million listeners a week tune into Flex’s sizzling radio show on Hot 97, where he’s played ‘Lil Kim hits aplenty over the years. Actress, rapper, songwriter, record producer, and model, Kim has established herself as one of the world’s most accomplished female rappers. She knows exactly what her audience wants: classics from 1996’s double platinum Hard Core, plus newer tracks from her mix tapes Black Friday and Hard Core 2k14. The Emporium, 9 Railroad Ave., Patchogue. theemporiumny.com $20, $30 DOS. 10 p.m. February 6.

Black History Month Celebration
The Uganda Cultural Art Network presents an African cultural experience through interactive storytelling, music and dance. Jones Beach State Park at the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center, Ocean Parkway. nysparks.com Free. 1-3 p.m. February 7.

The Many Moods of Mommer
Transformations of a Visionary: Paul Mommer is an retrospective art exhibit exploring the diversity of the painter’s style and technique throughout the first half of the twentieth century. This exhibition offers an opportunity to experience the work and historical documentation of the artist. Mommer died suddenly in 1963 and only one piece of his work has been exhibited since, making this a rare showing not to be missed. This transcendental reception features live music and refreshments. Exhibit runs through March 13. Islip Art Museum, 50 Irish Lane, East Islip. islipartscouncil.org Free. 1-4 p.m. February 7.

Paul Mommer
“White and Black Abstraction” by Paul Mommer, 1950.

Super Poem Sunday
The annual Super Bowl Alternative for Poets—which still ends in enough time for you to catch the actual Super Bowl—will be, as usual, a poetry slam! (Note: you do not need to memorize your poems to compete.) Every participant gets three minutes to perform a poem. First, 2nd and 3rd place prizes will be awarded. Food will be provided. Co-sponsored this year by the Bards Initiative. Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, 246 Old Walt Whitman Rd., Huntington. waltwhitman.org $10. 1-4:30 p.m. February 7.

Bert Williams: Lime Kiln Club Field Day
Headlined by Bert Williams, the first great black star on Broadway, the never-released Lime Kiln Club Field Day is thought to be the oldest surviving feature film with an African-American cast. The film was added to the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry in December. MoMA Associate Curator of Film Ron Magliozzi, and Peter Williamson, Preservation Officer, who oversaw the film’s restoration, will discuss the project and its historical importance at the screening. Cinema Arts Centre. 423 Park Ave., Huntington. cinemaartscentre.org $10 members, $15 public. 7:30 p.m. February 9.

Printmaking Exhibit Opening Reception
An opening reception will be held for this exhibit focused on the many methods of fine art printmaking: woodcuts, engraving, etching, lithography and screen-printing. The art of printmaking consists of the production of images, usually on paper, but occasionally on fabric, parchment and even plastic. Exhibit runs through March 10. Gallery North, 90 North Country Rd., Setauket. gallerynorth.org Free. 5-7 p.m. February 10.

John Reid
This magician and Long Island native will speak and sign his new book, I Got You Something! This full-color book with attached silicon bake form has more than 100 pictures and 365 ideas and recipes of something you can make—everything from candles and soap to gummies and a microwave cake. Make something gluten-free, something to say thanks, something for your dog, or leave something on your friend’s doorstep. The possibilities are endless! Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington. bookrevue.com Price of book. 7 p.m. February 10.

-Compiled by Nick Pasco and Timothy Bolger

Here’s a Presidential Campaign Trump Could Win Hands Down—And That’s No Lie

Donald Trump
(Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

“You long to ‘leap at a single bound into celebrity.’ Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable. Fame usually comes to those who are thinking about something else, – very rarely to those who say to themselves, ‘Go to, now, let us be a celebrated individual!’ The struggle for fame, as such, commonly ends in notoriety; – that ladder is easy to climb, but it leads to the pillory which is crowded with fools who could not hold their tongues and rogues who could not hide their tricks.”  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

By Arnie Dodge

Despite what happened in Iowa, Donald Trump may yet have his way and become the 45th President of the United States. If he does, his head is very likely to explode. The run up to the nomination is a narcissist’s dream. Imagine if he actually makes it all the way. The pressure on his psyche is sure to be uncontainable. At the Inauguration we may watch a blood-soaked Supreme Court Justice and five to 10 of Trump’s concubines—there to celebrate their emperor’s coronation–screaming in horror, as they witness the incipient leader of the free world self-detonating before their eyes.

Now, let’s imagine that Trump does not win the election. He is a loser. In fact, he is the biggest loser. How can he possibly go on, his megalomania fatally damaged? What does he do? Go home and get under the covers? Build another Trump tower? Fire more employees. Offer a billion dollars to Kim Jong-un to step down so he can assume the presidency of North Korea? After all, president of some country is better than president of no country.

Or, is there another possibility for fame? A post that may be more suited to his gifts. One that ensures that millions of his followers–still sick and tired of politically correct politicians—will stay the course and follow their leader.

Rumor has it that Trump, should he lose the election, will try for the Presidency of The Liar’s Club.

Herewith a quote from one of the members of the club found on “The Liar’s Club, A Blog by People Who Lie for a Living”:

“Lying is essential to good story-telling. Daily, we writers . . . write down a bunch of untruths, piling one on top of another, page after page. We compound them, massage them, edit them, spin them, until we’re satisfied that, despite how outlandish or other-worldly these lies are, you the reader will swallow them.”

Can there be a more appropriate leadership opportunity for the Donald?

Getting ahead of the curve, sources report, he is already considering his Board of Directors.  Names on the short list are Charles Ponzi (posthumously), Richard Nixon (posthumously) and Bernie Madoff (ex officio).

Circulating Trump’s bona fides for the new position will be an easy task for his team. His credentials for residency in the liar’s club executive suite will be drawn almost exclusively from his national presidential bid. Most would agree that Trump, during his rallies, the debates, the interviews with journalists, has taken prevarication to a whole new level, one that followers and detractors alike find breathtaking. The Trump brand, if you will.

Gross exaggerations, sociopathic insults based on stereotypes, torrents of slurs and half-truths, outlandish (and transparent) contradictions, impulsively spewed epithets, calculated misstatements designed to reinforce his position, grandiose declarations about international issues that are stunningly incorrect, accusations based on hearsay, ad hominem attacks on rivals to divert attention from his inability to answer a question. And behavior, throughout these public displays, befitting a troubled adolescent: tantrums, bathroom jokes, rants, threats.

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Can anyone ask for a more consistent track record?

Eat your heart out, Bernie Sanders. While you’ve espoused the same values and principles for a few decades, the Donald has been lying his entire life.

When questioned about his image, Trump supposedly replied: “Do I lie? Of course I do. I didn’t get to where I am today by telling the truth. But I love integrity!”

Most impressive of all may be Trump’s delusional self-perception. A stretch, perhaps, for the Liar’s Club requirements, but let’s not forget that a delusional person is more likely to have little or no remorse when lying. And we know the Donald does not apologize even when caught red-handed.

Who better to lead an organization of spin doctors than a man who comments that Mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals, and in the next breath says that he will win the Latino vote because the Latino voters love him? That’s lying bordering on the psychotic! He’s a shoo-in for the job.

But who to select as his running mate? Those in Trump’s inner circle report that he is considering Joaquin Guzman Loera, aka El Chapo, the Mexican drug lord. Smart. Thinking outside the box. Who better than a billionaire drug smuggler to appeal to the Latino constituency? And, what’s more, El Chapo shows signs of being as delusional and grandiose as Trump. The New York Times reports that he has said that drugs destroy, but he has found no other way to make a living. When asked about the trail of blood he leaves behind in his drug business, El Chapo replies that all he does is defend himself. “But do I start trouble? Never.”

And, most Trump-like of all, he had plans to make a movie about his life.

A liar with international creds and box office potential.

Told that El Chapo had been recaptured by the Mexican police, Trump laughed. “I’m rich,” he chortled. “Think those lowlifes won’t give me what I want? Think again. I’m a business man. I make deals. I want this guy. He’s tough. He’s a winner. I like winners.”

Trump, fully aware of the birther issue, insists that he has uncovered documents that certify that El Chapo is actually an American citizen. Case closed.

Can’t you just see it now? Masses of the faithful gather at a “Trump for Liar’s Club President” rally, waving placards that scream new Trump sound bites, keeping the Liar’s Club members in thrall:

Fake it ‘til you make it.”

“The truth is overrated.”

“We’re going to lie so much, you’re going to get sick and tired of lying.”

They are hungry for more Trump–no matter what he says, no matter what his goals.

And the Donald, poised to address them, dons his baseball cap, emblazoned with his new message: White Lies Matter  

It goes without saying that we’re sick and tired of being lied to.

But we love this guy.

“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” ~Winston Churchill

Do This: Long Island Concerts & Events January 28-February 3

Ron White
Comedian Ron White will perform at NYCB Theater at Westbury.

New Life Crisis
This highly original four-piece group constantly evolves with the technology of the time to present the most polished live sound on the circuit to date! Their captivating set list consists of an endless stream of material that is never the same twice. They rise to any occasion. The Space At Westbury, 250 Post Ave, Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $10. 8 p.m. January 28.  

Ice Nine Kills
This Boston-based experimental metalcore quartet is touring to promote their fourth album Every Trick in The Book, which was released just last month. Warming up the crowd will be Affiance, More To Monroe, Come & Rest and As Days Fade. Revolution Bar & Music Hall, 140 Merrick Rd, Amityville. clubloaded.com/events $15. 6 p.m. January 29.  

Marianas Trench
This Canadian pop-punk band’s The Hey You Guys!! Tour is coming to Long Island in support of the band’s fourth studio effort, Astoria, which dropped last fall. Opening the show will be Mainland. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $15-$45. 8 p.m. January 29.  

Robyn Hitchcock
A surrealist poet, a talented guitarist, a cult artist and a musician’s musician. Hitchcock is among alternative rock’s father figures and the closest thing the genre has to an English Bob Dylan. Blending folk and psychedelia with a wry nihilism, Robyn describes his songs as “paintings you can listen to.” Landmark on Main Street, 232 Main St., Suite 1, Port Washington. landmarkonmainstreet.org $29-$44. 8 p.m. January 29.

TAO: Seventeen Samurai
The new show will bring you athletic bodies and contemporary costumes combined with explosive Taiko drumming and innovative choreography. TAO: Seventeen Samurai has critics raving about TAO’s extraordinary precision, energy and stamina. They’ve got the rhythms that go pounding into the pleasure center of the brain. Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, LIU Post, 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville. tillescenter.org $20-$75. 8 p.m. January 29.

Tony & Tina’s Wedding
In this live theatrical smash, the audience members become part of the action as they partake in a wedding gone awry. The New York Times has called this outrageous comedy “audaciously imaginative.” Price-fixed dinner included. Suffolk Theater, 118 East Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com $69.50. 7 p.m. January 30.

Ron White
Ron “Tater Salad” White is best known as the “Blue Collar Comedy” funnyman whose TV special They Call Me Tater Salad earned Comedy Central’s highest-rated Sunday in its history. His vices are his virtues. He is a cigar-smoking, scotch-drinking comedian with a witty charm that his fans absolutely love. Don’t miss this gig. NYCB Theatre, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $59.75. 8 p.m. January 30.  

Marshall Crenshaw & The Bottle Rockets
Born in Detroit, Marshall Crenshaw grew up when the Motor City was hot and happening. He’s drawn upon his roots to carve out a unique career that evokes echoes of Buddy Holly—especially when he hits those high notes and his fingers are flinging out chords faster than a Ford Thunderbolt. He’s also a great songwriter with an ironic twist that he’s deployed to full effect as he chronicles the human condition of our time. And as fans of his WFUV-FM show “The Bottomless Pit” know well, Crenshaw’s record library rivals the Smithsonian. This uncompromising musician is the real deal. “Someday, Someway” simply has to be heard live. YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 West Main St., Bay Shore. boultoncenter.org $35-$40. 8 p.m. January 30.  

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Roaring ’20s Party
The Aaron Johnson Quintet jazz band leads the party, featuring Prohibition Era cocktail specials. Free select cocktails for those who dress the part. And you don’t even have to hide your booze when The Man comes knocking. Just raise a toast to the good times you’re having and ask the barkeep for another round! Treme Blues and Jazz Club, 553 Main St., Islip. tremeislip.com $10. 8 p.m. January 30.  

Kyle Dunnigan
This standup comedian and actor is best known for his role as Craig, aka The Truckee River Killer, in the hit Comedy Central series Reno 911! among his many other TV appearances. If you don’t enjoy Kyle live, there might be something wrong with you. No, seriously, you should get that checked out. Maybe your insurance will cover it. Heck, you never know, and the cure may be worth it! Governor’s Comedy Club, 90 Division Ave., Levittown. govs.govs.com $22. 7, 9:30 p.m. January 30.

Junie B. Jones, The Musical
It’s Junie B.’s first day of first grade and a lot of things have changed for her: Junie’s friend Lucille doesn’t want to be her best pal anymore, and on the bus, Junie B. makes friends with Herb, the new kid at school. Junie also has trouble reading the blackboard and her teacher, Mr. Scary, thinks she may need glasses. Throw in a friendly cafeteria lady, a kickball tournament and a “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal,” and first grade has never been more exciting. This is family fun at its best! John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport. engemantheater.com $15. Times vary. January 30 through March 6.

Long Island Bacon Bash
You like bacon? Then this is the event for you. You can revel in bacon tastings and bacon buying so you can really bring home the bacon. There’s all kinds of bacon—cured, uncured, smoked, you name it—plus bacon bits, bacon desserts, chocolate-covered bacon, various foods and more. Vendors include Bespoke Bacon, Willie B’s, Bulls BBQ, Bacon Hot Sauce, Catskill Food Company and Madhouse Creations. Come pig out! Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City. cradleofaviation.org $6-$18. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. January 31.

Cesar Millan
The Dog Whisperer is back and just in time, because our pups stopped listening to us a long time ago. Harris! Davis! Get over here! Oh, Millan is gonna have a field day with you two! NYCB Theatre, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $29.50-$49.50. 3 p.m. January 31.  

Reel Big Fish
This California-based ska-punk band that survived many line-up changes is coming back to play their catchy upbeat hits, including “Sell Out,” “Beer” and “Everyone Else is an Asshole.” Get ready to skank! The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $20-$35. 8 p.m. February 1.

Groundhog Day
What better way to celebrate Groundhog Day than by watching Bill Murray’s 1993 movie of the same name on the big screen? When it’s over, you may want to see it again. And then see it again. To quote Yogi Berra, it’s deja vu all over again. YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 West Main St., Bay Shore. boultoncenter.org $8. 7:30 p.m. February 2.

Mulholland Drive
Author Dennis Lim will sign copies of his book David Lynch: The Man From Another Place, during a rare big-screen showing and exploration of the filmmaker’s modern masterpiece released in 2001. After a car wreck on the winding Mulholland Drive renders a woman amnesiac, she and a perky Hollywood-hopeful search for clues and answers across Los Angeles in Lynch’s dazzling venture that goes beyond dreams and reality. Cinema Arts Centre. 423 Park Ave., Huntington. cinemaartscentre.org $10 members, $15 public. 7:30 p.m. February 2.

Oscar-Nominated Short Film Screenings
The Gold Coast International Film Festival will screen the five nominees for Best Live Action Short Film at the 2016 Acedemy Awards. They will also host a Q&A with Mara Kassin, an Oscar-winning short film producer, and Joe Bakhash, a short filmmaker. The shorts to be screened include: Ave Maria, about five nuns living in the West Bank who need to break their vow of silence to help a family of stranded Israeli settlers; Shok, about two boys living in war-torn Kosovo who find their choices threaten their lives; Everything Will be OK, chronicling the fateful journey of an 8-year-old girl visiting her divorced father; Stutterer, following a the struggle of a lonely typographer looking for love online; and Day One, about an Afghan-American woman who joins the U.S. military and is deployed to her homeland to serve as an interpreter. Bow Tie Squire Cinemas, 115 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck. goldcoastfilmfestival.org $10, $15. 7:30 p.m. February 3.

-Compiled by Timothy Bolger & Spencer Rumsey.

Barbie Doll Makeover: New Curvy, Petite & Tall Body Types Not Diverse Enough

Barbie
Mattel announced three new Barbie doll shapes: curvy, petite and tall!

By Sylvia Durres

Well Mattel finally got it right—sorta.

The global toy manufacturer introduced its latest line of Barbie dolls Thursday, its new “Fashionistas” crew, and they actually look a little bit more like actual, real, living, breathing women.

A wee bit more, at least.

Instead of that historic stick-thin frame, Barbie dolls will now be available in three new body types: curvy, petite and tall, sporting a variety of hairstyles and skin tones.

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Creating dolls that differ even just a little bit from that classic, all-too perfect blonde giant we’ve all come to love and/or loathe is most definitely a step in the right direction, but the toy behemoth has a long way to go in reflecting all the dimensions of actual women—among them, the very same ones who trek down to the toy stores to buy these plastic mutant clones in order to appease their kids.

Indeed, it’s a vicious cycle.

We’ve heard the criticism for decades: Producing such a popular toy that’s only representative of a certain particular subset of the population and its respective hair color, body shape, size, and height—in Mattel’s “Original” Barbie’s case, blonde, busty and Amazonian-like—distorts young girls’ impression of everything from ideal beauty to their own sense of self-worth.

It gives them a distorted view of the world, really.

Nobody looks exactly like that classic Barbie! Okay, maybe a miniscule percentage do, and there are plenty of adults injecting Botox and undergoing plastic surgery to closer resemble that mold, admittedly, but still. For the majority of the population, that Barbie look is unattainable, and no one should be brainwashing our youth into aspiring to look like a plastic doll and in the process, psychologically abusing them if they do not fit that mold, and never will, simply because of who they are and what they look like.

Humans are perfect in our individual uniqueness! That’s what makes us so great!

Every woman is beautiful, no matter what their skin color, hair color, height or chest size, and so, again, while these latest “Fashionistas” are a step in the right direction, Mattel has a long way to go, and should continue creating Barbies that are more reflective, and better representative, of actual women.

It seems they will, and for that, Mattel deserves some kudos.

From the Barbie website:

“Girls everywhere now have infinitely more ways to play out their stories and spark their imaginations through Barbie. Along with more overall diversity, we proudly add three new body types to our line. Here’s a look at why we did this, and the team that made it possible. #TheDollEvolves”

“This is just the beginning. From offering products that feature more empowering and imaginative roles to partnering with best in class role models, we believe in girls and their limitless potential. #YouCanBeAnything”

Changes such as these (Perhaps even a plus-size Barbie!?) will help build self-esteem and self-worth among its target audience, and teach these youngsters a valuable lesson in the process:

#BeautyIsUniversal.

Cuomo Orders Testing Of Bethpage’s Ever-Creeping Toxic Plume

Time-progression charts mapping the South-Southeasterly spread of the toxic plume emanating from the former Grumman aerospace complex and naval weapons industrial reserve plant in Bethpage. (Long Island Press / Massapequa Water District)

By Rashed Mian & Christopher Twarowski

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered the US Navy and Northrop Grumman to provide the state and a local water district access to monitoring wells so it can test for potential contamination caused by a toxic underground plume.

Samples from the so-called “Grumman Plume”—the subject of a 2012 Long Island Press investigative multimedia report exposing its continuous southward journey and disastrous public health ramifications—will be tested for hazardous carcinogens by both the state and Massapequa Water District, Cuomo’s office announced Wednesday.

“There have been too many questions about the extent of contamination caused by this plume and residents are frustrated with the lack of answers from the Navy and Northrop Grumman,” Cuomo said in a news release.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said testing of wells is “just what the doctor ordered” for residents in Massapequa, Bethpage, and South Farmingdale—communities where the plume has threatened water supplies.

The news may provide some relief to residents and water district officials who’ve been lobbying the state for years to act. The plume is essentially a 4.5-mile long by 3.5-mile wide cocktail of potentially harmful chemicals which has been traveling south-southeast unabated for decades. The underground plume first crossed Hempstead Turnpike years ago and is currently on the verge of creeping past the Southern State Parkway.

As recently as last November Massapequa Water District President Stan Carey wrote a letter to the US Navy and Northrop Grumman asking permission to sample monitoring wells to test for the “correlation between the TCE in the monitoring wells and the TCE emanating from” the plume. TCE is short for Trichloroethylene, which is classified as a human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

As part of the state’s plan, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation will collect groundwater samples from monitoring wells in order to test for potential contaminants through a process called compound specific isotope analysis (CSIA), officials said. The Massapequa Water District will conduct its own independent analysis.

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State testing could be expanded if necessary, officials said.

Carey thanked Cuomo for granting the water district access to conduct sampling and stated he looks “forward to continuing to work with New York State to protect Massapequa’s water wells.”

The Massapequa Water District has maps charting the plume’s path spanning more than two decades.

Local and state officials have feuded for years as to how to contain the plume and protect water supplies, with officials from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) even supporting “post-wellhead treatment” for a time—allowing wells in the hazardous chemicals’ path to first become contaminated, then receive treatment.

Critics panned the contamination-first strategy and demanded extraction wells to stop the spread of the toxic plume before it contaminated more public drinking water supplies and ultimately, the Great South Bay.

In his statement, Schumer accused the Navy and Northrop Grumman of “stonewalling” the water districts in their attempts to test wells.

The Navy has an agreement with the state DEC that calls for it to actively track down and remediate hot spots in the plume.

Residents in the impacted areas are forced to deal with the effects of disposal practices dating back to World War II by the former aerospace and weapons manufacturer, previously known only as Grumman.

Grumman was credited with helping the allies win the war, but its handling of waste has since come under scrutiny.

In 1983, the 600-acre Grumman Aerospace-Bethpage Facility Site was listed in the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites in New York State.

Long Island Blizzard 2016 in Photos

Satellite image of Nor'easter churning toward Long Island. (Photo credit: NASA/NOAA)