On and Off The Deck
By Jon Wilner

If you read this column one year ago this week, you would have read about the wondrous and spectacular party thrown by Albert LePage at his oceanfront compound. Well you’ve had one year to wine and dine Albert to get invited to this year’s even greater spectacular affair. It was last Saturday night and it was one of the most gracious parties I have ever attended in the Pines, and I have been going to parties in the Pines since 1982. Albert is one of a kind, he is a first class gentleman, as handsome inside as he is outside. The lobsters were plentiful, the champagne was flowing and his hospitality was evident in every twinkle of his eye as he greeted each and every guest at the front door. The house was completely renovated this past year by Architect Scott Bromley, designer Alexander Baer, and builder Billy Santangelo. This is definitely the finest job Scott, Alexander and Billy have ever done in the Pines, the house is grand yet warm, luxurious yet comfortable, formal yet beachy. The shower in the master bathroom is larger than my first studio apartment that I had in New York City. The entrance alone is a private walkway that makes you feel grand just following. Anyone as wonderful as Albert deserves to wake up in that master bedroom each and every morning. You are very special Albert, and everyone invited to your soiree felt very special indeed. Graciousness and making your guests feel welcome is something that is heartfelt, and when it is real, in the case of Albert LePage, it brings pleasure to everyone attending. Albert is also one of our largest donors to Whyte Hall, thank you Albert. Oh yes, he even gave us a Maison de Mer t-shirt, but I forgot to take mine.

Ariadne Villareal is the woman of the weekend. She is the producer of Dancers Responding to AIDS, the yearly three performance dance festival benefiting Broadway Cares. Thank you Jon Biondo, Tim Horman and Sean Peggs for donating your bayfront home, the largest piece of property in the Pines, for this eagerly awaited weekend. Watching the dance festival is like being over the rainbow. The Great South Bay is the set, the sunset is the lighting, and the performers dance on a stage that covers the swimming pool. The audience is seated on an outside raked auditorium built just for this event. How could we mention this event without thanking Frank Stark who hosted the event during its early years at his magnificent bayfront home before it grew to the size it is today. Also thank you Luke Rawls and David Masonheimer, the two men behind Ariadne, providing the sound and set.

Please join Tony Roncalli and Eric Von Kuersteiner next Saturday, July 22, from noon to two at the bayfront home of Perry Wolfman, as they welcome Senators Charles Schumer and Barbara Boxer. This event will benefit the Democratic National Committee, but most importantly your presence will show Senator Schumer how much we appreciate his continued support of our beach replenishment project for Fire Island Pines. Tony is about to embark on our fourth beach replenishment project scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2008. Your support of this event is crucial to our beach.

Hal Rubenstein says it’s going to be the best Pines Party ever! Heroes and Villains, all night long on the beach, Saturday July 29, it’s the Pines night to shine! Buy your tickets in the harbor, private tents still available, I heard one tent even has a private hot tub!

Lambda in the Pines, Saturday July 22. Laurence Isaacson, guest chef for FIPAP, the second in a series of cooking classes, is also on Saturday, July 22. And counting down, just in a short five weeks, THE ASCENSION PARTY, all day on the beach, Sunday, August 20th, benefiting the Gay and Lesbian Task Force. That weekend should be nonstop dancing. On Saturday August 19, Ernie Cervi, Alan Gandolfi and Will Schulz will once again host the Empire State Pride Agenda all afternoon dance party at their fabulous oceanfront home, which should be duly noted, is not for sale! This party is one of my favorites for if you stand on the mezzanine level facing the dance floor and the ocean, you have the best view of shirtless wonders dancing to the most glorious backdrop, the most beautiful beach in the world.

Thank goodness the E. Coli threat to our water supply is over. There was very little drama or panic, immediately Alan Brockman was on the phone with Suffolk County Water Authority and bottled water was delivered to our dock and distributed before noon. Eric Von Kuersteiner purchased clean ice at seven o’clock in the morning and brought it to our dock as well for the entire population of the Pines. Everyone lined up and was given six bottles of water per person, funny how the same people always in the front of the buffet line were also in front for the water line. Sara and Sal in the Marina Meat Market said I should be a bit more cutting in my column, but that’s as cutting as I’ll get, sorry Sara and Sal.

About three weeks ago, I was sitting writing this column in my den and I turned to the right and saw sitting on my deck a raccoon. I screamed. The raccoon didn’t move. I then closed the windows, doors and blinds. For the next week I heard the raccoon on my roof, on my deck, all about the house. In fact, my skylight in my bathroom is all scratched with paw marks. I called Advance Pest Control, a cage was delivered with an apple, then another cage was delivered with cat food. The raccoon was not caught. One night I saw it on my deck and it jumped from the deck to a tree and then onto my neighbors Fern and Lori’s roof. With its glowing eyes, and enormous body, this was something that I knew I had to deal with. I put dark chocolate in the cage and low and behold at two in the morning, I was awakened by the sound of the animal who was finally caught and trying to get out of the cage. The cage was moving up and down and creating a loud disturbance. The next morning I called Advance Pest Control and Doug Teague and LaFountaine came to remove the cage and the animal. They brought the animal to a forest over five miles away. So many of our neighbors have also been disturbed by raccoons, they are a menace to the Pines and if they get into your house, they can cause enormous damage. A friend of mine on Fire Island Blvd had over $15,000 damage to his roof alone. Dark chocolate is what you want to put in the cage as bait, available at the Pines Pantry.

How about a tremendous thank you to the boys of the liquor store, Stephen, Paul, Chris, et al, without you what would we all do? And not only are you always available to take our luggage, packages, etc, and schlep them all over the Pines, but you do it with a smile, a hearty smile at that.

How about that Flower Shop? Bamboo has to be one of the great discoveries in the Pines, Golfe will design you an arrangement of your dreams, and in your favorite colors too. And Ryan? How many ponds and forests have you now created in the Pines? You’re everybody’s favorite! Those fashions at Index were all chosen by Steven D’Ascoli for us this Summer. How did he know all our sizes? Amazing!

Was that really Bette Midler on the walks last week? Guess!