Times of Huntington-Northport

Kite. Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

The visitor comes unexpectedly sneaking around corners, invisible in the air even if you’re staring directly at him.

He is particularly welcome in the summer, when it’s so hot that the sweat on your skin only makes you wet and clammy, without providing much relief.

A cold drink might help, you think. As your fingers take respite from the moisture on the cup, your lips, tongue and mouth journey far from the heat, giving your brain the chance to ignore the signals the rest of your body is sending about how hot and miserable you are.

Short as this comfort is, it’s nothing compared to the effect this guest brings.

I tend to make an odd face when I get too hot, curling my short, thick tongue into my slightly larger lower palate and waiting, as patiently as possible, for the fall to bring cooler temperatures, Halloween costumes, pumpkin pie and, down the road, maybe a snowman that’s taller than me and my son who years ago started bending down to hug his father.

Today, however, during that most amazing of now moments, the guest has arrived, offering the kind of cooling and refreshing massage that lasts much longer than an hour. He charges nothing for his services.

He has an open invitation, of course, but he doesn’t always accept the offer, particularly when he’s traveling elsewhere.

He makes the horseflies scatter and alters the surface of the water, causing the kind of rippling pattern that may inspire a young mathematician eager to find a formula to explain what she sees.

He can interrupt even the most heated of discussions, debates and disagreements. It’s hard to be angry or to make an aggressive point when he’s around. And, in case you ignore him, he has a way of making his presence felt, knocking that stylish hat off your head and into the Long Island Sound, causing that expensive silk scarf to ruffle toward your face, or loosening those carefully tucked bangs.

Powerful as the sun and heat are, he can offer a counterbalance.

He can be cruel, knocking a bird’s nests out of the trees. He can also topple a table filled with carefully cooked cuisine, turning the mouth watering meal into a mess. When he feels like attending a baseball game, he can turn a home run into a fly ball and vice versa.

Ah, but go with him when you’re sailing, flying a kite or just sitting on a hot beach, and he brings the kind of cleansing magic to the air that water brings to a parched plate.

He helps send a kite high into the air, tugging on a line that causes the kite to dart, dive, dip and climb.

On a sailboat, he is the copilot, willing your ship, no matter its size, faster. You don’t need a motor when he’s around and you may not even need to drink that iced tea, lemonade, ice cold beer or soft drink you brought along with you.

After a sail, even on some of the hottest days, but particularly around dusk, he provides cool comfort in much the same way a blanket offers warmth during the coolest nights of the winter.

As he climbs through the nearby trees, he seems to ask you to “shhh.” Then, he waltzes past chimes, tapping each sound singularly and together, singing a unique summer melody that changes with each of his appearances.

He is an equal opportunity flag waver, indifferent to the political leanings of the people who hoisted the revered cloth to the top of a pole.

One of my favorite companions during the summer, I celebrate the cherished breeze, not only for the comfort he affords but for the way he alters the landscape and offers a respite from the heat.

Kenya, Africa. Pixabay photo

By Leah Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

One of the reasons we travel is to broaden our horizons, literally and figuratively. Yes, we want to see new vistas, consider how others live, and cut ourselves a little break from our daily routines. The same could be said when we meet people from elsewhere. They come from different worlds, bring their personal history and cultural differences into view, and generally teach us about more than what exists in our own small circle.

Such is also the benefit of diversity. We don’t have to travel to find new worlds, we only have to be aware of others who come from those different worlds and admit them into ours.

All of which is to say that last Monday, as I went about my daily routine, I met a lovely woman from Kenya, and we had time for a leisurely talk. Now there were only three things I knew about Kenya. It is a country in Eastern Africa. A friend went with her extended family on a safari there some years ago and raved about it on her return. Runners from Kenya, both male and female, usually win the New York City Marathon. That’s it.

At least, that was it until we started to chat. Now that she raised my consciousness about her home, I realized that Kenya has been in the news lately. Elections were scheduled this past Tuesday, and they were hotly contested. This much I learned from the PBS News Hour Monday night. Because of my encounter, I paid more attention to that news segment as well as to a couple of news stories in The  New York Times. She brought her country within my view.

The news stories told me more.

William Ruto, 55, the self-proclaimed leader of Kenya’s “hustler nation” [his designation], was vice president for nine years but was now portraying himself as an outsider, representing the masses of frustrated young people, most of them poor, who just want to get ahead. He paints his rivals as elitist. That would include Raila Odinga, 77, who is running for president for the fifth time but who now has made an alliance with his former bitter rival, the outgoing president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who is backing him. The race is expected to be close.

Why should we care about Kenya?

“Since its first competitive multi-party elections 20 years ago, the East African nation has emerged as a burgeoning technology hub, a key counterterrorism partner, a source of world-class athletes and an anchor of stability in a region roiled by starvation and strife,” according to the newspaper article. Some 80 % of Kenyans voted in the 2017 election, making for a democracy in the midst of nations run by strongmen. 

There are major concerns now. The pandemic and the Ukrainian War have badly affected their economy, which already was struggling under heavy debt to China for financing a railroad and road projects. This was part of its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, aiming to expand China’s economic and political influence in Africa. China never has financed the completion of this construction, leaving the railroad to end abruptly in a field 200 miles short of its intended destination in neighboring Uganda. But the debt remains to be paid, and the railroad is further enmeshed in serious corruption charges. Meanwhile China is reconsidering its early investments in African infrastructure since it paid out large amounts of money to countries with shaky economies. But the Chinese government still seeks influence in Africa, as does Russia, which was supplying much of its grain.

The 54 nations and 1.4 billion people on the African continent are important enough to us that Secretary of State Antony Blinken just started a tour of countries there. His trip and the election in Kenya are more meaningful to me now, thanks to the conversation I enjoyed with the woman who may become a new friend.

Now back to travel. She enticed me to visit with a description of their magnificent sand beaches along the Indian Ocean. Travel, imagined or real, is a beautiful thing.

The following incidents have been reported by Suffolk County Police:


■ Target on Veterans Memorial Highway in Commack called the police on July 24 to report that a man allegedly stole assorted Hanes T-shirts and a Norelco electric razor valued at $180.

■ Walmart on Crooked Hill Road in Commack reported a shoplifter on July 27. A man allegedly stole assorted soaps and food worth $53.

■ Home Depot on Jericho Turnpike in Commack reported a petit larceny on July 27. A man allegedly stole a Ryobi generator valued at approximately $700.


■ TD Bank on Pulaski Road in Greenlawn was robbed on July 31. A man entered the bank at approximately 1:10 p.m., and handed a teller a note demanding cash. The teller complied and gave the man cash from the drawer, police said.

Huntington Station 

■ Byron Martinez, 23, of Huntington Station was shot and killed after he answered a knock at the door at his home on 5th Avenue at 1:15 a.m. on Aug. 2. Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives are investigating.

■ Sunglass Hut on Walt Whitman Road in Melville reported a grand larceny on July 27. Two women entered the store and allegedly stole seven designer sunglasses with a total value of $3250.

■ Best Buy on Walt Whitman Road in Huntington Station reported a shoplifter on July 24. A man allegedly stole two Apple watches worth $825.

■ Target on East Jericho Turnpike, Huntington Station called police on July 25 to report that a man allegedly stole assorted electronics valued at $104.

Kings Park

■ CVS on East Main Street in Kings Park reported that several youths entered the store on July 24 and allegedly grabbed assorted groceries valued at $500 before fleeing on bicycles.


■ A woman shopping at Uncle Giuseppe’s Marketplace on Walt Whitman Road in Melville reported that someone stole her wallet from her shopping cart and attempted to use her credit cards shortly after.

■ Dick’s Sporting Goods on Walt Whitman Road in Melville reported a shoplifter on July 26. A woman allegedly stole various Nike clothing valued at approximately $900.

■ A 2013 Acura MDX was reported stolen from the driveway of a residence on Naomi Court in Melville on July 25. The keys had been left insid

Port Jefferson Station

■ A black Ancheer electric mountain bike was reported stolen from the Long Island Rail Road parking lot off Main Street in Port Jefferson Station on July 27. The bike, valued at $700, had been locked.

■ An SE Performance bicycle valued at $1,000 was reported stolen from in front of Planet Fitness on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station by an unknown man on July 27. 

■ A blue and yellow bicycle valued at approximately $215 was stolen from a bike rack in front of Rite Aid on Old Town Road in Port Jefferson Station on July 26. The bicycle had been unlocked.

St. James 

■ Car Tech Automotive on Middle Country Road in St. James reported that a catalytic converter valued at $900 was stolen from a 2004 Ford F230 on July 28.


■ Home Depot on Middle Country Road in Selden reported a grand larceny on July 26. A man and a woman allegedly stole $4,115 worth of electrical supplies.

■ Three men allegedly stole electrical and lighting supplies valued at approximately $2,000 from Home Depot on Middle Country Road in Selden on July 25.

South Setauket

■ Stop & Shop on Pond Path in South Setauket reported two shoplifters on July 30. A man and a woman allegedly loaded grocery and beauty items into a cart and walked out without paying. The items were valued at approximately $730.

■ Home Depot on Pond Path in South Setauket called police on July 25 to report that three men allegedly stole electrical and lighting supplies worth $2,140.

Suffolk County Crime Stoppers offers a cash reward for information that leads to an arrest. Anyone with information about these incidents can contact Suffolk County Crime Stoppers to submit an anonymous tip by calling 1-800-220-TIPS.


METRO photo

During a meeting of the Port Jefferson Board of Trustees on Monday, Aug. 1, trustee Lauren Sheprow suggested building closer ties between the village government and Stony Brook University experts.

Sheprow, who worked as the university communications officer at SBU for over a decade, proposed the creation of a local think tank composed of resident experts whose specialized knowledge could be used in service to the community. We believe that this is a neat idea, worthy of the public’s attention and further exploration.

Long Islanders sometimes forget that there are world-renowned scholars living among us. SBU is the largest single-site employer on Long Island. This institution harbors thousands of faculty members who are trained specialists in their chosen fields.

Citizens can often feel alienated from their local government. Municipal operations — reports, budgets, meetings, hearings and so on — can appear to be endless drudgery at times. Perhaps, innovative thinkers could be the source of new ideas.

With regularity, we read about various scientific and medical breakthroughs made by SBU faculty members. From the sciences to mathematics, the humanities to the arts, SBU students and faculty are changing our world for the better. These are people of immense talent and wisdom, sometimes an untapped resource in solving local problems.

The community would tap into local experts who could offer up their insights on matters that most affect us. Specialists could advise our elected officials to make better decisions. 

This is not without precedent. During the administration of SBU President John Marburger, there was a community advisory council, or CAC, in which such a relationship was forged. It was disbanded some 15 years ago. Perhaps it’s time to bring that back.

Anything that brings the government closer to the people, injecting new blood and ideas into the political process, is beneficial to democracy. We should support our local municipalities in strengthening their ties to local universities. This is good for the government, the university and the people.

By Steven Zaitz

On most days, it is hard to wipe the smile off the face of Commack junior Jeremy Weiss.

After his dazzling performance against the best quarterbacks on Long Island this past Sunday, it now might well be pretty darn impossible.

Commack quarterback Jeremy Weiss wins the 2022 National Football Federation Long Island QB Challenge. Photo by Steven Zaitz

Weiss bested 11 of the finest high school signal callers in both Nassau and Suffolk to win the inaugural National Football Foundation’s Long Island Quarterback Challenge — slinging and smiling his way to the top of the leaderboard in the first-ever event of its kind. As an added kicker, the straight A student also outsmarted the rest of the pack to take the award for highest Football IQ. 

It was quite a haul for Weiss, who is just weeks away from taking his first snap as QB1 for the Cougars when they open the season at home against Sachem North on Sept. 10.

“When I’m out there, in any type of competition, I give it everything I have and leave everything on that field,” said the wispy gunslinger Weiss. “I prepared for this competition to the best of my ability, and I feel that I made the most of this unique opportunity.”

On a perfect summer morning with a few puffy, cumulus clouds occasionally floating past the sun, the event kicked off at 10 a.m. sharp at Kings Park High School. Former NFL QB Matt Simms was the only judge, and he was generous with advice to all the players throughout the day. Long Island University quarterback coach Jonathan Gill ran the players through their drills, and the whole thing was organized by Suffolk County National Football Foundation Chapter president Len Genova.

“We have great high school football here on Long Island,” Genova said. “Events like this go a long way in honoring scholar athletes and promoting these great players and this great game of football.”

Weiss was not the only quarterback from northwestern Suffolk to impress Judge Simms. Senior Dante Torres from St. Anthony’s High School, one of the highest rated players at any position on Long Island, won the award for Best QB Anticipation. Junior Brayden Stahl of Smithtown West was crowned the Most Accurate Passer. 

“It’s all in the fundamentals,” Stahl said. “Consistent work with the same form for five years will make every throw the same and accuracy more attainable.”

Northport’s quarterback Owen Johansen compete in the challenge. Photo by Steven Zaitz

Northport’s Owen Johansen threw the longest ball of the afternoon — a 64-yard missile, despite participating with an injured thumb on his throwing hand. Tommy Azzara of Smithtown East also acquitted himself well, showing good agility and a nice touch on many of his corner route throws. The other quarterbacks in the competition were Devin Page from Kellenberg Memorial in Uniondale, Michael Wheat from St. John’s the Baptist in West Islip, Matt Metzger of Carey High School in Franklin Square, Brady Clark of Bayport-Blue Point High School, Matt Cargiulo of Manhasset High School, Zion Woodhull Trippett of Holy Trinity in Hicksville, and Peter Liotta of North Shore High School in Glen Head.

But this day belonged to Weiss, who in a few short weeks, will be given the keys to the Commack offense, replacing graduated star QB Matthew McGurk, who led the Cougars to a 6-2 record in 2021. 

Weiss performed well in the grueling battery of quarterback drills which included tests of accuracy, touch, agility, arm strength, x’s and o’s, mobility, and pocket presence. The boys were always on the move, sprinting from drill to drill, only breaking for water while receiving instructions from Gill on the rules of each exercise. 

It was an exhausting day, but well worth it for Weiss, as he looks to use this performance as a springboard to success for not only himself, but for all his guys back in Commack.

Brayden Stahl of Smithtown West competes in the challenge. Photo by Steven Zaitz

“Winning this award and competing with these great players definitely gives me confidence going into the season,” Weiss said. “Not necessarily in the form of personal confidence, but rather in the way that having a great quarterback makes the team and everyone around him better. One of my main goals this year is to create a ‘community’ on our team in which we all help one another.”

In that spirit of helping, legendary Long Island Quarterback Coach James Brady has worked with Weiss and many of the other contestants who participated in Sunday’s event.  He was not surprised by how well the Cougar quarterback performed.

“Jeremy embodies a beautiful recipe for the making of a great quarterback,” said Brady, who starred at St. Anthony’s a decade and a half ago and has coached hundreds of young quarterbacks at his Suffolk-based Elite QB Academy. “He has a load of natural talent, is incredibly smart and a sponge for knowledge. Every time we hit the field together, I can see that he is working to master his craft. That kid’s work ethic is off the charts and my heart is so full seeing him receive those trophies with that great smile on his face. I hope he remembers this day forever.”

Ah yes, that smile.  On or off the field, running, throwing, or evading giant defenders, it never disappears.  Is it simply because Mr. Weiss is such a happy guy?

“I call it my focus face,” he joked. “I’ve been smiling on the playing field ever since I can remember.”

Walking out of Kings Park stadium after a full day of focus face, Weiss, as well as his parents, were ear-to-ear as they struggled to cart out all the new additions to the Weiss family trophy case.

“It was an amazing experience to be here and to compete with this group of outstanding players,” he said. “I learned a ton from this competition, and I think it will help me become a better player and thus make us a better team.”

That would, for the next four months, certainly make him, and all of Cougar Nation, all smiles.

The reported rate of positive tests for COVID-19 is likely well below the actual infection rate, particularly for the highly-transmissible BA.5 strain of Omicron, health care officials said.

“I expect that we’re at least double, and we’re probably significantly higher than double,” said Dr. Sharon Nachman, chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. “I, like many others, am quite concerned for the fall and winter.”

Indeed, with positive results for PCR tests in the range of 10 to 12% during the summer, the percentage of people who might contract the most infectious variant of the virus yet could surge in the colder months, when students return to school and people spend more time indoors.

The good news so far is that the number of people who have been hospitalized with COVID has stayed relatively steady at Stony Brook University Hospital, at around 50.

Over the past few weeks, the number hasn’t dipped below 40 or gone above 75, which means that the current infections generally aren’t causing hospitalizations, Nachman said.

“While COVID-19 rates may be higher than reported, cases are less severe than they were at earlier stages of the pandemic and hospitalizations are fewer,” Dr. Gregson Pigott, commissioner of the Suffolk County Department of Health Service, explained in an email. “Vaccinations play a large role in the reduction of hospitalizations.”

The number of people hospitalized with COVID on Long Island averages about 450 per day, which is down from 4,000 in April of 2020 and 2,200 in January of 2022, according to the county Department of Health.

Suffolk County hosted a back to school test kit distribution event on Tuesday at the H. Lee Dennison Building for parents and residents.

Raising awareness of monkeypox

At the same time, government and health care officials are dedicating more resources to combat the threat from monkeypox, a virus with symptoms including fever, headaches, exhaustion and a rash that can last two to four weeks.

In Suffolk County, the number of confirmed cases has climbed to 22 as of the beginning of August, according to Department of Health officials.

Working with Northwell Health and Stony Brook University, the county has been providing monkeypox vaccinations. The county expects to get more vaccines later this month, although the demand continues to exceed the supply.

Governor Kathy Hochul (D) declared a state of emergency on July 29 over the outbreak, which will allow a faster response and enhance the distribution of vaccines in the state. The governors of California and Illinois have also declared states of emergency over a virus that is rarely fatal but is painful and can cause scarring. The more vulnerable populations include pregnant women, young children, people who are immunocompromised and individuals who have a history of eczema.

Nachman said the response from the governor was a “way of getting ahead” of the spread of the virus.

The state of emergency “raises everyone’s concern,” Nachman said. “When you go to a local physician, more people are thinking, looking and testing [for monkeypox]. Testing is critical” to confirm cases and to reduce the spread.

Vaccinations, which involve getting two shots that are four weeks apart, can accelerate the immune response, Nachman said.

Stony Brook hopes in the next few weeks to work on a National Institutes of Health-funded clinical trial with children, pregnant and postpartum women on a potential treatment for the virus.

Spread during physical contact, the large majority of monkeypox cases have occurred among men who have been intimate with other men.

Pigott has been working closely with the community to promote prevention efforts and vaccinations. He spoke on Monday at a forum hosted by the LGBT Network, where he said gay or bisexual men in their 20s and 30s were at the highest risk.

Other viruses

In addition to COVID concerns for the fall, Nachman explained that other seasonal respiratory viruses have become more prevalent and problematic through the summer.

Flu has historically been a winter virus, starting in late November or early December and ebbing in its infectiousness around March.

In 2022, the flu season stretched through June. At the same time, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, typically starts in November and lasts through February.

“We had RSV all summer long,” Nachman said. “We never had a break.”

Nachman is concerned that the overlap among the viruses with infection rates may increase at the same time.

“I worry about the juxtaposition with other respiratory pathogens” that have exceeded their usual seasonal limitations, Nachman added.

Those other viruses are highly contagious, but were limited in their spread when people were wearing masks. Once people stopped taking precautions for COVID, these other viruses also spread.

“No one had been exposed, and it was like a match to tinder,” Nachman said. “It spread through the population” after few people had contracted these illnesses.

Health care providers urged people to take several steps to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.

“If you’re sick, please don’t go to work,” Nachman said. ‘If your child is sick, please don’t send them to school.”

People also need to practice safe cough techniques. If they need to cough or sneeze, they should minimize the number of aerosolized particles by covering their nose and mouth or coughing into their clothing.

A plea for proper vaccinations

With a reluctance to return to the widespread use of masks or other restrictions that might limit the spread of COVID, health care officials continue to urge people to benefit from the protection vaccines provide.

Indeed, most of the people who have required more extensive medical care at Stony Brook University Hospital have not been fully vaccinated.

Some of those who have required medical attention received a single dose of a vaccine over two years ago, which is effectively not vaccinated, she said.

Nachman expects that COVID vaccinations may become required as they are for measles mumps and rubella and other diseases for students to attend class in person.

“I do see in the future that will happen,” Nachman said. “Not vaccinating hurts the child and the entire community.”

Lucas Films

By Daniel Dunaief

Daniel Dunaief

When times are tough, we can use nostalgia as a bittersweet salve.

Nostalgia serves as both a source of comfort, allowing us to step out of our current situations, while also providing a longing for something that may be impossible to find or rediscover.

To that end, I’d like to share a nostalgic and a not nostalgic list.

— Being out of touch. I know that may seem odd, particularly for someone whose job involves keeping people in touch with information, but I miss the days when people couldn’t find me. I remember getting a beeper for the first time and thinking this was a slippery slope to nonstop accountability.

— Snow days. In the most intense heat of the summer, it’s easy to become nostalgic for the unplanned gift of a day off from school and, way back when, for some time at home with my parents. The night before a snow day, I would go to a particular window in the backyard, turn on the light and assess the size of the snowflakes. If they were too big, the temperature was likely far too warm and the snow would likely turn into rain. Smaller and super numerous snowflakes, like a colony of termites building a home, could work their magic overnight, causing the trees to bend in front of my window.

— Cultural excitement. We are so divided on so many issues these days, but I miss the general excitement that comes from blockbuster movies. I remember the experience of seeing the movie “Star Wars” in a packed theater and the excited conversation from people as the John Williams music sent them home happy.

— The meaningful sitcom. “M*A*S*H” somehow combined humor and drama, blending comedy with intense situations in an army hospital in the Korean War. The sitcom “Mom,” which deals with addiction, friendship, familial issues and loss, brought the same impressive acting to difficult situations softened by humor.

— Eating less healthy food. I miss the ability to eat a burger, fries and onion rings at one of my favorite restaurants (RIP The Good Steer) without having that food interrupt my sleep, create unfortunate digestive experiences or contribute to an expanding girth.

— Letting our dog roam the neighborhood. Our current dog is rarely off his leash. Decades ago, we’d ask our dog if he wanted to go out, he’d run to the door and return to play when he heard us outside or to have his evening meal and play at night. He walked himself.

— My dad. My father had the uncanny ability to make me laugh, even and especially when I was frustrated. Seeing my sour face, he’d come toward me in a battle of wills he knew he’d win. He’d make a strange face or do something unpredictable, forcing me to smile despite myself.

Okay, so, how about a few things for which I am not nostalgic.

— The rear-facing seat of a station wagon. The seat often didn’t have much room, because we also packed bags and suitcases back there, and was facing the wrong way, which meant that nausea, particularly on tight turns, was a constant companion.

— The Yankees around 1990. With a respectful nod to Don Mattingly, those teams were pretty close to unwatchable. 

— Marching band practice. I loved so many parts of my musical upbringing, but marching band doesn’t make the list. We sweat for hours on hot fields. During performances, our heavy, unflattering uniforms trapped heat and felt stiffer than denim that had dried too quickly.

— Going to the airport to change tickets. Awful as today’s airline experiences are, we drove to the airport and waited in line to change tickets. Today, we can go online, where systems are busy and the airlines tells us to try back later.

— Waiting for carpools. To borrow from J.D. Salinger and William Golding, waiting for exhausted parents to pick up a collection of teenagers dripping with Holden Caulfield angst was akin to living through a sociological “Lord of the Flies” experiment.

'The Hangman and his Wife'

By Leah S. Dunaief

Leah Dunaief

Driving along a residential street in what seemed from doorbell videos to be a white Prius, a man tossed a plastic bag on each lawn as he moved along. It might have been a newspaper delivery, but it wasn’t. It was a package of hateful flyers whose words were directed against Jews. The bags contained rice or pebbles to weigh them down and keep them from blowing away in the wind.

Police have been investigating the hate messages delivered to homes in Rockville Centre, Oceanside and Long Beach in Nassau County and have blamed an anti-Jewish group for the activity, which has also occurred in other cities in the country. Whether these groups are aligned through the internet has yet to be determined. But we do know that the internet has carried hateful messages throughout the world, a far cry from the original idea that digital connectivity could be only a positive platform for revealing despots’ brutality in far corners of the globe.

We now know the internet can be a powerful tool to radicalize otherwise ordinary people who might be susceptible to the hateful messages. But how do ordinary people become radicalized?

A book was just published that attempts to deal historically with that subject by focusing on Reinhard Heydrich, who became the head of the SD (the intelligence service) and the Gestapo as well as an architect of the Final Solution for the Third Reich. “The Hangman and His Wife,” by Nancy Dougherty, tells of a man without ideological roots, who was not a fervent believer and only joined the Nazi Party in 1931, two years after his future wife, Lina. Yet he began what the senior New York Times book reviewer, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, who wrote the forward to the book, described this way.

“One searches in vain for a rational explanation of Heydrich’s descent into evil. No single biological fragment satisfies.”

According to the book’s author, Heydrich evolved from a musically gifted, intelligent and lonely little boy into a monstrous, hyper-rational technocrat with a photographic memory and unmatched organizational abilities. How he was perceived may have been a starting point. He had “striking Aryan looks,” and for Heinrich Himmler, who first interviewed him, and who “was weak-chinned and squinted from behind thick glasses … a physically unimposing” figure, Heydrich fit the Nazi ideal. “For all their focus on Nordic physical perfection, the Nazi leaders were a bunch of misfits … Goering was fat and jowly; Goebbels was clubfooted.” Hitler himself did not match the paragon. Here was this tall, blond candidate for head of the SS, who would be a poster child of Aryan perfection in his new uniform. He must have loved that.

Further, a close relative had a Semitic-sounding last name, and “he was shadowed by rumors that there was Jewish blood in his family and mocked during his nine years in the navy; one former roommate attested that ‘everyone more or less took Heinrich for a Jew,’” according to author Dougherty.

And this from another bunkmate: “there is no doubt that ambition was his characteristic peculiarity … On all occasions, he wanted to be outstanding — in the service, in front of his superiors, with the comrades, in sportsmanship and in bars.” Put that together with “his Luciferian coldness, amorality and insatiable greed for power,” according to Dougherty, and he became head of the Gestapo until he died in his Mercedes convertible from an assassin’s grenade on May 27, 1942. He received a full-dress state funeral from Hitler.

So do those personal qualities plus opportunity explain the emergence of a hate monger? Could any of these bag-tossers today become deeply evil and potentially homicidal? Or are they merely practicing freedom of speech? Do they just wish to stand out and be seen? Is capacity for malignant behavior what Freud called the “death instinct?” Or, as the book reviewer, Daphne Merkin, suggests, is there an inherent perverse glamour in evil?

Walt Whitman Birthplace Association will be burying a Time Capsule on Friday, August 5 at the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site, 246 Old Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station at 1 p.m. The ceremony will also commemorate William T. Walter, Ph.D. (1931-2020) for his long-time leadership and lasting contributions to WWBA as Trustee, Officer, and Member (1981-2020).

The Time Capsule will contain Whitman memorabilia, related artifacts, written historic texts and books along with newspaper articles of the current times reflecting a significant economic, political, or social news event.

A boulder will be placed at the site with a commemorative plaque inscribed: “I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.” W.W., Song of Myself, Section 52.

This project was initiated during the bicentenary year of Walt’s birth, 2019. The time capsule will be opened during Walt’s 250th birthday celebration in 2069.

The ceremony will take place under a tent with refreshments served. No registration is required, all are welcome.

For more information, call 631-427-5240 or visit https://www.waltwhitman.org/walt-whitman-birthplace-state-historic-site-time-capsule.

This project was made possible through the financial support of the Town of Huntington, Suffolk County, and the continued support of New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

File photo

Suffolk County Police Homicide Squad detectives are investigating a shooting that killed a man in Huntington Station on Aug. 2.

Byron Martinez was shot at the threshold of his residence, located at 212 5th Ave., after he answered a knock at the door at approximately 1:15 a.m.  Martinez, 23, was pronounced dead at the scene by a physician assistant from the Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner.

Detectives are asking anyone with information on the shooting to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.