Saltaire Summery
Volume 48, Issue 9
By Hugh O’Brien

Saturday offered conclusive proof of why “defile,” apart from its more usual definition, is also a synonym for “parade,” Well, okay, things weren't really so bad, and what may have seemed to the casual observer a modest degree of disorganization was in fact merely the outward sign of a betrayal so vast in scope, so embedded in conspiracy, so unfathomable in its depravity, that the scheme beggars the imagination. And yet the day was saved, as always, by the derring-do and daring of the SVFC, a group whose very bywords are improvisation and quick-thinking, where the word “impossible” is unknown except when dealing with the Board of Trustees, where people are our business and progress our most important product.
In other words, we lucked out.
Or, like, you know, whatever. Now, first, as to the most-asked inquiry, “How come there wasn't a band?” and its variants, “Why didn't you guys get a band?” “Where the [cheney] is the [cheneying] band?” and “Whaddayas mean, there ain't no band, whaddayas think I come here for, the dogs?” The short answer is, we don't the [cheney] know. Harry Baker, who's often the recipient of always well-earned grief in this space, this time really did his job efficiently, with neither fuss nor muss, in front of a dozen witnesses, three weeks back, making an appointment with the here-unnamed mainland band to show up at our little soiree and do their thing (“It's a Small World After All,” the Budweiser jingle, all sorts of patriotic themes), replete with the expected marchers, fifes, drums and xylophones, all for your listening pleasure. All transport and parking arrangements were set as well, and the Company even voted to use taxpayer money to purchase a solid gold plaque bearing the message “Welcome, Band,” for presentation as they stepped off the ferry. (All right, before anyone starts sending indignant letters, I made up that last part. Actually all we did was fill the Coke machine.) And then we sat back and waited for our well-laid plans to unfold as if by magic, or divine design.
Well, we can only hope that something was well laid around here, because the plan began unraveling almost immediately. The first hint came when the band never got off the 9:30 boat. It's nuanced signals like that that tipped off the more discerning firefighters among us that something might be amiss, as in, Ah-missed the dang ferry. Harry arrived, was apprised, got on the blower and came back with only the vague but ominous report that the guest department was in some disarray, all communications were now irregular, the members were at loggerheads, had had too much beer the evening before and were in fact at lager heads, and that there might be some dissension in the ranks. Translation: no band. Perhaps even Christmas might be cancelled. And it was here, at this critical moment, that Team SalVolFireCo sprang into action.
Ignoring the nay-sayers who urged postponement, mindful of the cases of hot dogs and buns and soda pop and Captain Morgan and Knob Creek that the children had so looked forward to, the members decided that, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade (well, in this case, hands you ketchup, make relish). First, it was quickly determined that we could jury-rig a jerry-built sound system in one of the trucks, utilizing a boom box, tape recorder, microphone and loudspeaker ordinarily reserved for less pressing disasters such as hurricanes and nuclear attacks, in order to project our own music. We briefly considered renting an old barn to put on a show but rejected it due to usurious interest rates. All that remained now was to unearth or otherwise purloin the appropriate music from somewhere. Enter Capt.
Bill James, who declared that he “thought” he had a tape of patriotic marching tunes at his house, and would go look for it, or at the least have it flown up from Florida if we could delay things till later that afternoon. A few minutes later, Bill was back with the bad news: he had had such a tape, in Saltaire, until last weekend, when Anne gave it away to the Bazaar to raise funds for equipment the Fire Company needs, like marching band music tapes. Melancholy was momentary, however, as a casual conversation just minutes later elicited from Henry Glanternik the surprising news that it was Mrs. G., Karen, who had picked up that very item at the Bazaar for her own family's listening pleasure. Life runs in cycles. Circles, hereabouts.
So, a hurried phone call to Karen, who raced over with the tape, labeled, sure enough, “Great American Marching Bands,” and a group of excited fireguys assembled to open the cassette and choose their tunes, when out popped a tape plainly marked... “The Al Jolson Story.” “Waiting for the Robert E. Lee.” “Sonny Boy.” “My Mammy.” “Back in Your Own Back Yard,” a wiser plan of action, perhaps. We could have marched along singing “Alabamy Bound,” I suppose, though Jolson would likely have been rolling in his grave, to say nothing of Larry Parks. (Subsequent efforts by Karen to “lose” this tape at the firehouse were unsuccessful, and she is being prosecuted for malicious music.) Henry did produce an alternative CD, “Best [sic] of Scottish Pipes and Drums,” but the disc remained firmly taped to the Dispatch Room desk till after the parade.
Not that we were out of options, not yet. President Jim McDonald came up with another CD, some untitled Bob Marley album, which would have lent an air of the exotic to the proceedings, assuming people didn't think we had the Ocho Rios F.D. as our guest players. A limited run over the loudspeakers, however, failed to stir much Fourth-of-July spirit in most onlookers. (Oh, yes, this was our official 4th celebration, you'll recall.) Jim also had an album called– and, since I'm well aware of my reputation around here, I assure you I am not making this up, call Jim or Linda if you don't believe me– right, he had this album of WWII patriotic ditties entitled, “Who Do You Think You Are, Mr. Hitler?” (Former Mayor Joel Carr asked, “Who wrote that? Spike Jones?”) I was assured by Jim that there was actually no such song on the album, which came as a relief, not only because of one's obvious distaste for the title subject but, I mean – what rhymes with “Hitler”? “Orange?” (And what's this “Mister” crap?) Lyrics might have been interesting, though. In any case, just when all seemed lost, or just overly dumb, what did we discover but the real Marching Band CD, lying around, in any case in which it fit. As time was ticking away and the bomb was set to go off sooner rather than later, this disc was hurriedly plopped into the player and the procession, peopled by Mayor Rosenblum, Trustees Cox and Rich, our illustrious home team, plus contingents from Kismet and Fair Harbor, began the march only half an hour behind schedule. After which, everything went smoothly. Right? I said, it all went off smoothly. Hello?
Come now, did you forget in which community you lived? Sillies. Let's see... well, first the trucks couldn't turn the corner of Broadway & Bay because too many bikes were scattered around the street. Then, Mario Posillico was recalling the year the procession leaders, instead of turning up Atlantic or Surf or even West from Bay, turned onto Beach, which, as residents like the Kellys and Starkeys could tell you, is a dead end (shades of the marching band's fate in “Animal House”). This trip down memory lane took on an unanticipated import when, a few blocks on (we successfully negotiated up Atlantic and left onto Lighthouse), this year's leaders turned onto Neptune, instead of the prescribed Pacific, for the return trip to the bay. Ordinarily, this might have been of little consequence, save for the multitudes who had inquired earlier what the route was and staked out spots for themselves along Pacific. However, a last-minute decision had been made to include the new No. 2 truck in the line-up, as a way of showing off the vehicle to the public, which was very nice and would have been no problem except for the fact that Neptune was the walk least able to support its weight with any degree of assurance, as Mario himself had found out when taking it for a test swing around town this spring. Recalling the earlier remembrances of the Beach Walk march, as the defile shuffled reluctantly behind leaders whom they knew could be leading them to disaster (they were only following orders – maybe that “Mr. Hitler” thing would have been apt after all), one fireperson called out, “Is this a dead-end street?”, at which point a plainly fingers-crossed Mario muttered, “Not yet, but it might be shortly,” envisioning ol' No. 2 crunching through the stringers as the walk collapsed, cutting off all access and lines of retreat.
Needless to say, Neptune held okay, and the Lost Parade, armed with compass, sextant and several sets of licked fingers hoisted into the wind, made its way back to civilization, or rather the ballfield, where a game was in progress just as the CD began blaring out the National Anthem. A couple of quick “cut” signals from Chief Dave Kaufman, who wanted that theme held until the final ceremony at the firehouse, put a stop to that, but the next selection was some God-awful rendition of “America the Beautiful,” Not Kate Smith, or Ray Charles – absolutely not. Not that everything on the album was perfect: a great “Stars and Stripes Forever,” a so-so “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” a good rendition of “Strike Up the Band,” played without any apparent irony; but this mess, evidently by someone who learned English as an enemy language, sounded like an old vinyl 78 played at 33 1/3, with a couple of fingers pressed down on the record as it tried to revolve on the turntable. This time, despite the sight of Dave and Angus Jameson and John Merchant making frantic cutting motions and semi-obscene gestures to the boombox crew to knock it off, the song kept recurring in spurts until the entire recording was simply stopped as we breasted the field. The marchers filed on with the same enthusiasm displayed by, say, Scott of the Antarctic while he led his men to their deaths, until all finally reached a bedraggled finish at FD HQ, where efforts at the traditional National Anthem ceremony quickly fizzled due to poor acoustics and an unruly, hopped-up hot dog crowd.
But you know what? It was fun. A lot of people said they had the best time they'd had in years, or ever, whichever comes first, at one of our parades. Everything had gone so goofy that you had to enjoy it. It didn't hurt that Chip at the market had provided us with a newer, better-tasting hot dog (Boar's Head) than previous 'rades, and most people noticed and liked the change. Name-brand sodas were also (mostly) used. Eardrums were spared fife-and-drums. The rain held off. We manged to keep the procession out of Lonelyville this time. We didn't use “W” brand ketchup. Some folks brought in donations in gratitude (for what, we didn't press). It was great. It worked. We were resourceful. Our parade-holding abilities are almost a match, you should pardon the expression, for our fire and rescue capabilities. In sort, we done good, and thanks to everyone who came and laughed and had a time. Wouldn't trade it for another march up Beach. Maybe Navy. Baby.
From the past, to the future, and a columnular advisory: this issue marks our last weekly appearance. From here on in, or is it out, the Gazette goes biweekly, so our next rendevous will be the weekend of Aug. 14/15. The writing staff gets a kind of vacation, a Sunday to ourselves, but that means we have to cram twice as much info into each outing in order to keep ahead of communal schedules. This being understood, here comes August....
The SCAA Directory Supplement, featuring updates, corrections and spare, non-Jim-Wicso artwork, is out, available as posted for all dues-paying members; a full new Directory is guaranteed by chair Clare Briody for spring 2005. On a related subject, former Trustee and lifetime technophile Frank Markus is the individual charged with maintaining and updating the calendars for all Saltaire dot orgs, coms and govs, and he has recently completed a project linking all such sites (VOS, SCAA, SYC, ETC) to one another so that, when planning your summer socials, you can readily consult for conflicts by simply logging onto one site's calendar then clicking your way throught the others'. For reasons Frank deems too technical for anyone this side of Pluto to comprehend, you apparently cannot click from the SYC calendar to the others – yet – but you can go in reverse. This set-up was Frank's suggestion and seems to work well, a lot handier than a previous proposal to print out an unwieldy, mutli-colored cross-indexed calendar jamming every event scheduled by every group in town on one sheet, not very convenient (you could, and still can, more easily consult individual calendars for SCAA, recreation, library, Club, and so forth, events). Thanks to Frank, scheduling a party on Disco Nite just got easier; he also credits Mario P. at the office for his invaluable and ongoing labors in this field. Mailings, bulletin boards or websites, we try. [Sorry, Nicole: newspapers too, of course.]

July 31: the T. Roosevelt Nature Conservancy has its next live animal demo, at the gazebo; Friday, August 6 – the fifth annual Maggie Fischer Memorial Cross-Bay Swim, from the Lighthouse to Gilbert Park in Brightwaters. Saturday., August 7 – the Music & Art Festival, courtesy SCAA, and its events again: 10-4, artisans at large on B'way by the field; string quartet and the woodwinds, still both claiming the 11-1 slot at the gazebo; The Al Skinner Watermelon Party, playground, 3:30-5; sunset picnic by the bay, by the way, with the Mike Barry Trio, or maybe there'll be eleven performers by that time, starting at 6.
Two deals on the 14/15... One, Ralph's 6th annual soccer tourney, going greater than ever. Registration runs from 9-10 Sat. morning, ages 13 and up, $15 a head [sic], anyone from the two most prominent sexes is welcome; teams will be announced, and the game schedules posted, at the field at 11 a.m., with the first game at noon. Once signed up for the Perlberger Cup, mosey on over to the Village Hall, where from 9-12 that morn you can flip out entirely and register for the next day's Jogathon – I can't remember; have we hit 30 yet? No, probably 27 or 28 – anyway, I don't yet have word on the price of admission (we will have time to get this in for next issue), but it's usually around $20 or so, for which you get a T-shirt, a trophy, and limited medical coverage. (I misspaced two words in that last sentence and it came out “atrophy.” You get that, too.) The two J'thon races, 1 and 3.5 miles, will commence by the firehouse or thereabouts Sunday the 15th. Times will be kept, prizes awarded and relatives notified.
People notes... My apologies to Gregory Barancik, whom I was notified (reminded, actually, after I heard) had won last year's SYC fishing tournament. Of course, no one person really “wins” the whole tournament, as Commodore Steve does indeed make up and mix up various categories on a year-to-year basis, but Greg was a winner in '03, though he couldn't make it out for '04. Steve Trentacoste says I can blame it on him, and I happily oblige. He still wants to get Paul Kampa some tough competition, but as the C. also says, it's not so much about the fishing as it is about having a good time (I paraphrase here). Remember what the slaves who accompanied the conquering heroes in ancient Rome would whisper in their ears as they rode through the cheering multitudes – remember, all glory is fleeting, this too shall pass, and thou art only a man. Which is still better than a fish. In the matter of sic transit gloria mundi, however, or rather “Jeopardy,” the Women's Doubles T. boiled down to a duel between the duets of Barbara Rosenblum & Pia Notaro v. RoseAnn Trentacoste & Joan DiCostanzo. As I write in splendid isolation the tourn is over but the results not yet filtered through; however, with all respect to the phenoms named Joan and RoseAnn, the faves were Pia and Barbara, whom I will presume in best DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN fashion won, unless I hear they didn't, in which case I'll knock off a correction tout suite. That's why these things are often like this guy on Jeopardy – getting a bit predictable. Yeah, that talent stuff, that's all right. Men's Doubles, 8/14-15. (And that Yacht Club schedule sure evaporates in August – very little, compared with jam-packed July.)
Cheers to Heather Jones and David Carswell, who effected three rescues (Heather two, Dave one) one day last week, of people trapped offshore, unable to swim in; just another example of some of our finest at work.
On various mends. Suzanne Sahi; Morton Digby Elkind; and Chief Mark O'Connor, a slow recov from his near-fatal fall in May. Get back in harness soon, Mark. Oh, yeah – I used that joke already. Here's hoping you'll soon be sound of wind and limb. Ooh. Sorry. On that topic, Dr. Bob the Furious leaves us for the States after Saturday, but his shoes, rather less scuffed up, will be splendidly filled, first by Dr. Paul Auteri (Aug. 1-15), then by a new guy, Dr. Peter Paisley, whom Bob gave a tour of the place to a few weeks ago; nice man, nice family, and if they were unintimidated by the Village Office or the Fire Company they have nothing to worry about. Peter practices internal medicine and pediatrics and will sit in August 16-September 1. Bob comes back 9/2.
Speaking of doc(k)s, the GPS coordinates for Saltaire's is 40 deg., 37 mins. N, 73 deg., 11 mins W. The complete Saltaire zip code is 11706-8965. I was asked by two Mysterions to publish these factoids. I have no idea why. I do discount the rumor of the village's being selected as a testing site for the new Global Orbiting Disintegrator (GOD), a supposed successor to SDI, and affectionately known as the Ronald Ray-Gun. Just the same, I could do with two weeks away. Um, I mean off. But Tim Early, formerly of the local constabulary, now one of NY's Finest, was in town Friday night and dropped off the NYPD's alert bulletins for the upcoming GOP convention. From the chaos Tim insists is coming, complete with plots and threats and schemes from virtually every nutcase on the planet, you'd best plan to be in Toronto when the pinhead comes to town to accept the nod for “another” term. Well, that's politics for now. More, after the dust from the Boston bean-bake this week.