The Northeast has been getting the kind of winter weather that, when I lived there, I always expected to find in the Midwest. The winter weather in Iowa has been decidedly Long Island-like lately: around freezing with rain as likely as snow. We expect thunderstorms today, with highs in the fifties. Try shoveling that.
Having joined a fantasy baseball league, I am struggling to come up with a suitable name for my team. I want to go with something Long Island-themed, like the “Terminal Moraines”. That’s how I came up with the domain name for this website after much ruminating many years ago.
Let’s begin with a quick review of Long Island professional sports team names, past and present:
- New York Islanders. Too literal, sort of like calling a city team the New York Citizens.
- New York Nets. Now the New Jersey Nets, the name is so totally inappropriate for baseball.
- Long Island Ducks. Cute—I like ducks—but overused since it was used in the past by a minor league hockey team and is now in use by a minor league baseball team.
- New York Arrows. They were a soccer team in the old MISL. I have no idea why they were called that.
- Long Island Rough Riders. This is the present professional soccer club on Long Island. They are Theodore Roosevelt-themed, which I like (he was the only Long Island president), though the Rough Riders had little to do with Long Island itself.
- Long Island Lizards. The professional lacrosse team (remember this is New York) is named after lizards? In my entire childhood on the island I never saw a lizard or even heard of one living there.
So what to do? For starters, ethnic mascots are out, so exit the Long Island Shinnecocks, Unkechaugs, or Guidos. But as you can see, it is not easy to come up with a team name for Long Island. It lacks charismatic megafauna and fossils. Most of its interesting natural features are glaciological (i.e. terminal moraines) or are unintimidating marine animals and phenomena that suggest only the following:
- Littoral Drift, which describes the formation and reformation of barrier islands by along-shore ocean currents.
- Limuli, from Limulus polyphemus, scientific name of the horseshoe crab, one of my favorite animals.
- Wampum. You can’t walk along a beach on Long Island without the finding purple and white quahog clam shells bits once used by the Indians to make ceremonial currency. Wampum is pretty inert and uninspiring.
- Quahogs. Along the same lines as above, but it has unfortunate associations with “The Family Guy”.
- Pine Barrens. The Long Island pines sure are an interesting biome, but how would the logo distinguish pine barrens from pine anything else? Maybe a flaming pine tree?
- Lloyd Aquifer. A gold star for you if you even know what it is.
- Nor’easters. That might be a good one (or the “Glorias”).
Long Island also has little in the way of nationally familiar landmarks, historical events, or cultural contributions. The Montauk Lighthouse (after which the local microbrew Montauk Light takes its name) is popular among Long Islanders but is not well known elsewhere. The island’s military history is inauspicious: the Battle of Long Island was rout of the Continental Army at Brooklyn Heights (the “Evacuators”?) and the landing of German saboteurs by submarine is not exactly a point of pride (the “Infiltrators”?). And I’ll pre-empt the Billy Joel references right now, so no Long Island Piano Men or Uptown Girls.
The “Long Island Baymen” is in use by an amateur baseball team in Lake Ronkonkoma (Ooh! “The Bottomless Lakers”!). A local term for near-shore fisherman and clammers, “Baymen” has regional charm and working class connotations but could be denounced by radical feminists are “promoting traditional white patriarchy” (something I heard about my college’s mascot once). And I don’t think the “Baypersons” would cut it. What about:
- Snapples? Nah.
- Roast Ducklings? Iced Tea? Maybe for a chuckle.
- Buttafuocos? I’ll throw that one out with the other ethnic stereotypes. And harem pants aren’t easy to play ball in.
- Gold Coast, or even better, Gatsbys? Both are dated and each are respectively elitist and tragic.
Long Island is associated with some high-tech achievements in physics, genetics, and aerospace:
- Heavy Ion Colliders. Pretty esoteric physics stuff goes on at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and from a shadowy federal department to boot.
- Double Helices. That at least won someone a Nobel Prize, but Cold Spring Harbor Lab was also waist deep into eugenics at one time.
- F-14 Tomcats or Lunar Excursion Modules. Unfortunately Grumman left Long Island a long time ago.
Long Island joke: I slip, you slip, we all slip for Islip.
The common denominator of both lists is a broad interpretation of what a Long Island movie is. The Epinions list mentions exceptional movies starring Long Islanders, even in bit parts; for Kenneth Branaugh’s “Hamlet”, which features Billy Crystal as a gravedigger. I haven’t seen that one, but I question the merit of Billy Crystal’s appearance in any film, never mind an adaptation of Shakespeare.
I’ve always ruminated on whether “Wall Street” or “The Godfather”, excellent and iconic films, should be considered Long Island movies. Only small parts of them are set or filmed on Long Island. As for “Jaws”, I’ve seen it many, many times and it was never clear to me that Amity is on or around Long Island or even in New York State (it was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard).
And then there are Ed Burns’ “The Brother’s McMullen” and Steve Buscemi’s “Trees Lounge”, which are decent and in many ways are quintessential Long Island movies, but I don’t find either very memorable.
I find it odd that neither list includes any film adaptation of “The Great Gatsby”.
After considering these lists, here are my criteria for forming my own:
- I define Long Island as including what most Long Islanders consider it to include: Nassau and Suffolk counties and their offshore islands, and excluding Brooklyn and Queens.
- The film must be set substantially and filmed at least partially on Long Island, and if set there identified as such. I don’t consider a short scene demonstrating that a character has a summer home on the beach somewhere to be substantial, so exit “Wall Street”.
- I have to have seen it.
- I have to like it. I’m willing to stretch my definition of “like” to mean I feel it conveys some sense of Long Island or its people.
So far, the only films that pass muster are:
I’d like to put a fifth one in there to at least make it a top 5, so if you think I missed something please leave a comment.
Elliot Spitzer, you have taken Jim McGreevey’s gay-blackmail cake.
I can’t let another day go by without riffing on this debacle. Newsday was kind enough to post screen shots from the “Emperor’s Club” website, along with a full page photo of a $10,000 hooker on the front page. Has Newsday gotten trashier since I left Long Island? Or is it just the nature of the news?
John sent me a link to an article detailing the Cliffside Park connection to this sordidness. It seems gentrification has greatly improved the quality of prostitution there, but has clearly put the American dream (and by this I mean illegal sex with a 22-year old hottie) out of the reach of the common man.
So does a call girl is called “high-end”, does that mean… never mind, I’m finished with this topic. Good night.
Another thing I’ll miss from Long Island are the Atlantic Ocean beaches on the South Shore. These waves are breaking on Fire Island. December 27, 2005 (.MOV file, 7.5 MB).
Whenever I went back home to Long Island, I’d always stop by Hoyt Farm, at town park that was a working farm. December 27, 2005 (.MOV file, 6.9 MB).
This indicates some of my cynicism about “The Greatest Generation”. My brother and I wrote this to the Long Island newspaper in response to another nonsensical letter to the editor. The original writer (J.P.B.) was responding to a run on groceries caused by sensational media forecasts of a blizzard that never materialized. I wonder how he reacted to the terrorist attacks six months later. I’m sure he didn’t advocate torture or anything like that.
March 8, 2001
J.P.B. wrote correctly in his March 8, 2001 letter that his (or her) generation did not panic when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. They only locked all the Japanese-Americans away in desert concentration camps until the war ended.
J.P.B also suggests that the younger generation should not panic in the face of snowstorms, but should get angry and retaliate. Why would we get angry at the weather? And against whom shall we retaliate?
God bless J.P.B.’s generation! They made the most out of a fourth grade education.
“Some of my best friends are from terminal moraines,” confided the stranger to the long-time resident of Huntington, New York, “But terminal moraines are some of the worst places on earth.”
“Long Island is a terminal moraine,” replied the offended old-timer.
November 4, 1999
Ava came out to the Island (Long, not Ship) to visit. Today we drove down to Fire Island and walked along the beach to the Fire Island Lighthouse, which is very well restored. A man from the Preservation Society gave us a more-or-less private tour. He was ex-Park Service. We went all the way up to the top. I love the beach in winter. I worked on a beach for several winters. There is both a beauty and harshness to it that most beachgoers will never know.
Then on to the East Village. We ate cheap on Curry Row (that’s 6th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues). Ava wheedled the street hawker into lowering the special by a dollar. We took a train up to Rockefeller and saw the tree. We didn’t see a lot skaters, but we saw the zamboni polishing the ice.
I am in a sudoku slump. After acing a couple I botched two hard puzzles and finally one easy puzzle. I need to rethink my “system”.
I’m on Long Island after a weekend in NJ and a couple of day trips to the city. Ready for turkey.
The first thing my brother and I did when he picked me up at the airport was go for a slice of pizza and a Snapple. Later I went for a bagel with my dad. Snapples being generally unavailable in Mississippi, the barbarians; pizzas being generally unavailable by the slice; bagels being largely nonexisent.
A couple of news items not often found in Mississippi: snow, local people concerned about their families in India after the tidal wave.
Aaron and Tara flew back to Colorado yesterday. Aaron got a new job all of the sudden. He sent out one resume the Thursday before Christmas, and was hired by Monday. Last time I was job hunting it took me a year and fifty applications. Seems his coming departure set off a little shitstorm at work. I’m curious to hear what happens.
I think I’m done farting around at my parent’s place and I’m ready to start farting around at my friends’. Last night I drove to Staten Island for dinner with a couple of them.
While I’m typing, I can smell Christmas tree bread. Every Christmas morning my mom bakes bread shaped like Christmas trees for breakfast.
I arrived on Long Island early Thursday afternoon. The weather here has been mild (kind of fall-like). I was delayed an hour and a half in Atlanta because the flight’s crew was stranded by winter weather in Flint. Air travel has been downhill since then; I’m glad I got through when I did.
Last night, we went to my brother’s in-laws for food. Sort of an hors-d’ouvre buffet. Always too much good food there. I was really tired yesterday for some reason, and a little bored, but it was nice having nothing to do for a little while.
I miss Lorena. She called me a few nights ago. She’s taking a job with an American architectural firm. There’s a chance she might work in one of their US offices at some point.