Strange Days

In 1982, Godfrey Reggion directed and produced his first film, an admittedly experimental venture titled “Koyaanisqatsi,” which is the Hopi term for “life out of balance.” Considering the precarious instability of the present moment, it seems almost quaint—but is actually sobering—to realize that many people already considered life out of balance in those halcyon days of 37 years ago. 

At Quaquanantuck concedes that it is virtually impossible to put out of our minds the current terrifying global geopolitical tension and willful refusal to acknowledge impending environmental collapse. But let’s just try to take a brief time out and look for a moment at a few local events that seem to signify just how out of balance life in these parts has become lately.

storm brewing
Storm brewing. —A. Botsford Photo

First, we have the horrifying abduction of Sammy, the beloved bald eagle with a partially amputated wing, from the Quogue Wildlife Refuge on July 16, which was widely reported last week. While it seems utterly incomprehensible that anyone would take a beautiful, noble bird that requires professional care and feeding to survive, the boosting of the reward to $20,000 is more about concern for the bird’s welfare and its safe return than punishing the culprit.

Bald eagles are a federally protected species and possession of them is punishable by fines and jail time. The $20,000 reward includes $10,000 from the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and up to $5,000 each from Crime Stoppers and the Nassau County SPCA. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Quogue Village Police Department at 631-653-4781.

Next, we have the sighting of a large shark in the shallow waters of Penniman’s Creek in Shinnecock Bay, right next to the Shinnecock Yacht Club. Thanks to Ian Connett’s photo, Greg Metzger, the shark specialist and field coordinator for the South Fork Natural History Museum, was able to identify the cartilaginous fish as a totally harmless immature basking shark. But still …

shark Connett
Dorsal fin (right) and tail of the basking shark spotted at the Shinnecock Yacht Club on Saturday. —Ian Connett Photo

The fact is, sharks are ocean going fish, and have no natural reason to be up in the shallow water of the bay. This basking shark had no more business visiting the Yacht Club than the mako shark that came ashore there a year ago. So this is clearly a sign of life out of balance … unless the folks at the Yacht Club have found a way to draw the oceanic fish through the inlet and, as we say, up the creek. But to what end? 

At the same time, humpback whales are cavorting and apparently feeding just off the beach in water only 35 to 50 feet deep, coming so close to shore that one became entangled in a fishing net off Sagaponack and had to be freed by surfers. While it’s wonderful for beachgoers to be able to see these whales breaching and blowing, it’s not normal, or particularly safe (for the whales), for them to be in such shallow water.  

On Monday morning, many residents noticed that a police helicopter was circling our village counterclockwise, from the area around Stone Creek traveling west a little north of Montauk Highway down to Quantuck Bay and then turning south and following the canal back eastward. A number of theories were advanced as to what, or whom, the police were looking for. Then our modern security machinery kicked in and landlines throughout the village lit up with an automatic call, complete with robotic voice: 

“There has been a motor vehicle accident at the intersection of Route 104 and Montauk Highway and the motorist has fled the scene on foot. If you see anything suspicious, please call 911. Do not try to approach or apprehend this person; call 911.” Junior Sports at the Quogue Field Club was locked down for an hour or so and the helicopter continued to circle. Suffolk_copter

Turns out the driver had stolen the vehicle, a Range Rover, from a driveway in Sagaponack and police who spotted the stolen car had pursued him on the Sunrise to Quogue, where he crashed into the trees near the southern end of Rte. 104. According to a local newspaper, information received from Quogue Village Police Lieutenant Daniel Hartman and Southampton Town Police indicated that two “accomplices” who were driving a gray Nissan had been arrested, but the alleged thief, Romello Gonzalez, in spite of possibly sustaining serious injuries in the crash, had slipped through the dragnet and was believed to have fled to New Jersey. 

At this point, one could be excused for asking: Are we still in Quogue, or have we slipped into some alternate universe? Life out of balance indeed. 

“Echo in the Canyon” Nixed by Blackout July 23, Screening July 30 and 31
Though far less scary, another oddity transpired on Tuesday night this week, this time in Westhampton Beach. A little before 7 p.m., with no active electrical storms anywhere nearby, the power went out for a large number of stores on or near Main Street, including at the PAC, where a sellout crowd had started to gather to see “Echo in the Canyon.”  

A little after 7, fearing that power would not be restored within the half hour before the documentary was scheduled to start, PAC Executive Director Gram Slaton cancelled the screening. About five minutes later, the power was back, but Slaton, citing the potential unfairness to the people who had gone home after the film was cancelled, told the hundreds of moviegoers who continued to gather in front of the theater that he could not go ahead and show the film.

Jakob D TP
Jakob Dylan and the late Tom Petty

The good news out of this episode is that “Echo in the Canyon” will now be screened next Tuesday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m. (barring another power outage), with commentary from Andrew Botsford and the same guests who were scheduled for this week, Brian Cosgrove and Megan Noonan, two DJs from WPPB 88.3 FM with extensive knowledge about the music of the period. More good news—since there seem to be more people who want to see the film than the PAC can accommodate at one screening—is that the film will also be screened, minus the commentary, on Wednesday, July 31. For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, visit

The sad news is that, in order to reschedule “Echo in the Canyon” to next Tuesday and Wednesday, the film originally scheduled to be shown then, “All Is True,” has been bumped from the schedule and now will not be shown at the PAC this summer. At Quaquanantuck, for one, really wants to see this movie, and so will keep eyes out for cable or streaming options going forward. 

Junior Theater Troupe Benefit Friday; “Mamma Mia!” Opens July 30
Things are heating up for the Quogue Junior Theater Troupe. The company’s annual benefit is slated for Friday, July 26, and if there are any tickets left they can be purchased from the website,

Mamma 1
Rehearsing a scene for “Mamma Mia!” —Photo courtesy of QJTT

The benefit begins at 7 p.m. at the Quogue Community Hall, with members of the casts of “Mamma Mia!” and “Beauty and the Beast Jr.” performing alongside some alumni and supported by the pit band. It’s general admission seating (no reserved seats) for this approximately hour-long performance; after which guests will repair to the Quogue Field Club for dinner and more music.

Next week, the older cast of the QJTT will open “Mamma Mia!” at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30, with three more performances scheduled on July 31 and August 1 and 2, all at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for reserved seating, available at the QJTT website,

Tickets can also be obtained now from the website for the younger cast production of “Beauty and the Beast Jr.,” opening on August 20 and running through August 23. 

Hearts and flowers? No, Hats and Flowers
Members of the Westhampton Garden Club wore creative floral designs not on their sleeves but on their heads at the club’s annual Hat Party and Tea at the Quogue home of WGC President Inger Mejean.

The party celebrates a year of accomplishments, including redesigns of public gardens, awarding of the annual scholarship, and conservation projects. The inimitable Rori Jones of Flowers by Rori, at right above, had a rapt audience for her demonstration of unique applications of flowers, including a “living” handbag for special outdoor events.

Children’s Art Lessons Offered in Advance of August 10 Show
With the Children’s Art Show coming up on the Village Green from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on August 10, the same day as the Quogue Historical Society’s annual  Art Show and Sale, it is time once again for the Historical Society’s free Children’s Art Lessons, held this year at the Firehouse on Jessup Avenue. 

The free classes for children age 6 to 14 will be offered on Wednesday, July 31, and Wednesday, August 7, from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. both days. Bear in mind that, as is customary, artworks created during the classes will be judged at the show along with works submitted by other young artists from the community. 

In addition to making sure their family members are signed up, parents and grandparents should pass along the registration information to as many of their friends and neighbors as possible. Email registration is requested as soon as possible, as space is limited; send children’s full names, age, and phone number to

The “Rocket Time” program was one of the highlights for younger Quogue Library patrons this month. Parents and grandparents and their children and grandchildren learned how to create the rockets together in the family program. At right above, Miss Pat teaches the group how to create rockets in preparation for the July 20 launch at the Quogue School.—Photos courtesy of Pat Stehling

Save Dates: QFD Open House August 4; QA Beach Party August 9
This year’s Quogue Volunteer Fire Department Open House, always one of the highlights of the summer season, will be held on Sunday, August 4. 

The annual Quogue Association Beach Party will be held this year on Friday, August 9. 

Details, we hope, to be fleshed out in upcoming columns. Members of these two organizations are asked to please email updates about these events asap to

Rev. Robert Dannals Leading Services at Atonement Church July 28
This Sunday, July 28, the Reverend Dr. Robert Dannals will officiate for the first of his five services at the Church of the Atonement this season. 

After many years as Rector at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Dallas, Rev. Dannals continues to do interim ministry, guest preaching and is a parish consultant. He earned his Master of Divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary, his Doctor of Ministry from Drew University in Madison, NJ and his PhD from the Graduate Theological Foundation in South Bend, IN. 

Reverend Dannals and his wife, Valerie, have three daughters: Danielle, married with two daughters, living and working in Jacksonville, FL; Kaleigh, married with an infant son, living and working in Charlotte, NC; and Mary Blair, working as a mental health therapist in Washington, D.C.

Services are at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. All are welcome. The Episcopal church is located at 17 Quogue Street.
Junior Choir Reminder
All children in the community ages 7 to 14 are invited to sing in the junior choir at the Sunday 10 a.m. services at the Church of the Atonement. The choir is led by organist and Choir Director Patricia Osborne Feiler. Rehearsals are at 9 a.m. on Sunday mornings. For additional information regarding the junior choir, contact Mary Vogel via email at

“Joan Thorne: Visionary Color and Light” at Quogue Gallery through July 31
“Joan Thorne: Visionary Color and Light” is the second solo exhibition of the summer at the Quogue Gallery. Featuring nine of the artist’s paintings from the 1980s, the exhibition will be on view through July 31, 2019. 

Work by Thorne was included in the Whitney Museum’s last Annual Exhibition in 1972, the year before the museum shifted its major show to a biennial schedule. The following year, she was given a solo show at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In 1979, the artist was included in Barbara Rose’s seminal exhibition, “American Painting: The Eighties,” at the Grey Gallery at New York University. And the next year, she was included in an exhibition of critics’ picks at the Grand Palais in Paris, sponsored by the Société des Artistes Indépendents. In 1981, her work was selected for inclusion in the Whitney Biennial. 

Thorne’s work has received laudatory reviews in The New York Times, Art In America, and ArtNews. Museums around the U.S. that have her paintings in their permanent collections include the Brooklyn Museum and the Albright Knox Gallery of Art.

Voluntary Subscriptions Appreciated
Many thanks to all those readers who have signed up for a voluntary subscription, or subscriptions, to At Quaquanantuck. A reminder to all those who have not done so, if you enjoy the column and would like to see it, like Wikipedia, remain free for everyone, please consider visiting the At Quaquanantuck PayPal page by clicking here (or pasting into your browser) and taking out a voluntary subscription for a suggested $60 a year. If PayPal is not for you, consider sending a check made out to this columnist, Andrew Botsford, and sending it to PO Box 1524, Quogue, NY 11959. 

To all who read the column, At Quaquanantuck offers heartfelt thanks … and a reminder: This is your column, too, and it only gets better when readers send in photos and news and social items of interest to A column for the community is at its best when it is at least in some measure created by the community. 

Your Comments Welcome
At Quaquanantuck is happy to provide a forum for civil discussion of village issues and initiatives and welcomes all comments. All are encouraged to share observations, ideas and opinions by writing to

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