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Kevin Redding

'Children in the Park' by Sylvia Kirk

Above, ‘Children in the Park’ by Sylvia Kirk

By Kevin Redding

A classical piano recital  by Alexandria Le will be held in conjunction with the art exhibit. Photo from Ed Mikell
A classical piano recital by Alexandria Le will be held in conjunction with the art exhibit. Photo from Ed Mikell

For the opening of its seventh season as the premiere classical music series on Long Island, Le Petit Salon de Musique will do something a little different and more ambitious than any of its previous events. On Sunday, Oct. 16 at 2 p.m., not only will there be a grand presentation of a variety of classical compositions — performed by Carnegie Hall chamber pianist Alexandria Le — but also a gallery of local art that will serve as visual representation of the concert’s main piece: Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s stunning “Pictures at an Exhibition.”

The famous 10-movement suite was written in 1874 in response to the death of artist Viktor Hartmann, one of Mussorgsky’s dearest friends, and intended to be “evocative of a walk through an art exhibit.” Beginning with an artist reception on Sunday, Sept. 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. and continuing through Oct. 31, the community will be able to take that walk at Pictures at an Exhibition: Revisited at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Stony Brook.

Coordinators of the event, from left, Sylvia Kirk and Linda and Ed Mikell. Photo by Kevin Redding
Coordinators of the event, from left, Sylvia Kirk and Linda and Ed Mikell. Photo by Kevin Redding

Ed and Linda Mikell, the Commack residents behind the concert series, sought to honor the whole theme of the piece and with the help of exhibit curator Sylvia Kirk, 16 local artists working in different forms of media were chosen to visually represent and accompany the music. Linda, who is a former voice major and music teacher, had been a fan of this specific suite for a while when she discovered that Le would be performing it. “It’s one of my favorite pieces,” she said, “and I just kept thinking ‘wouldn’t it be fabulous if we could enlist some local photographers and artists for this?’ and I immediately thought of Sylvia, who kind of curates our little gallery here when we have a show. She knew so many photographers and we have a bunch of artists in the Fellowship so we met three times at my house, played the music, explained what the composer envisioned, and then people just went off and came back with their art.”

Kirk, whose own work will be included in the exhibition, rounded up a wide variety of artistic talent from the area, opening it up to anybody that did anything in any medium. Gallery visitors will see a quilt piece, a pastel piece, paintings, and a large focus on photography — which has lent itself especially well to the concepts within each movement.

“There are 16 artists and 23 pieces [overall], so some artists have two pieces,” said Kirk. “There’s three or four photo montages, two of them did digital art — they do all kinds of things digitally with their photographs — and many of us just took straight photos.” According to Kirk, some of the artists have decided to donate their work to be sold. As is the case for the musicians, their proceeds will be split with the fellowship.

'The Old Castle' by Jerry Levy.
‘The Old Castle’ by Jerry Levy.

Some of the 10 movements include the dark and melancholy sounds of “The Gnome” and “The Old Castle,” more lighthearted scherzos like “The Ballet of Unhatched Chicks in their Shells,” and the triumphant “The Great Gate at Kiev.”

The Artists:

Linda Anderson, Bruce S.G. Barrett, Doris Diamond, Julie Doczi, Susan Dooley, Jan Golden, Faye Graber, Merrill Heit, Kathee Kelson, Sylvia Kirk, Lily Klima, Jerry Levy, Eric Lohse,  Frances McGuire, Keelin Murphy and Len Sciacchitano

“Each movement has a picture associated with it,” said Ed. “I said to my wife that we should have a description or an explanation of what it is that the artists have addressed when they put their pieces together, a description of the events and what’s being interpreted.”

The Mikells, who launched the concert series in 2010 with Le as its first performer, want to continue giving those in attendance — performers and audiences alike — a great experience. “Everybody who comes out over the years have wonderful things to say,” said Ed. “They don’t really know or care what’s playing. They just know it’s going to be quality stuff.”

“People travel all the way into the city to hear this quality of music,” added Linda, “but it’s right here. You can walk right in the door, sit, and be 10 feet from the performers.”

Le Petit Salon de Musique, 380 Nicolls Road, East Setauket will welcome Alexandria Le in concert on Oct. 16 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 adults ($15 online), $15 seniors ($10 online) and $5 for students. For more information, call 751-0297 or visit www.lepetitsalon.org.

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Teresa Palmer in a scene from ‘Lights Out,’ one of this summer’s sleeper hits with a sequel already in the works. Photo courtesy of LA Film Festival

By Kevin Redding

“Lights Out” may appear to just be another entry in the often cheap and soulless things-that-go-bump-in-the-night subgenre that reigns supreme in modern horror, but don’t let its seemingly conventional premise, of an evil entity that shows up to haunt when the room is dark, fool you: This movie is scary, clever and — surprisingly — elevating by addressing mental illness and the effect it could have on a family.

First-time director David F. Sandberg takes on the challenge of stretching his original three-minute short — which was praised for being on a level of terror and suspense that most contemporary horror movies fail to reach — into something that sustains its 80-minute runtime and doesn’t grow stale quickly, which is tough when the concept is as simple as this. It’s creepy and makes for some exceptionally eerie visuals (the freaky silhouette appearing and disappearing with the flick of a switch will undoubtedly stick with you before bed) but how can that work for an entire narrative?

As Sandberg showcases, the answer is with great acting, characters we care about, and real human drama that raises the stakes when the inevitable horror fill the screen.

Gabriel Bateman and Teresa Palmer in a scene from ‘Lights Out.’ Photo courtesy of LA Film Festival
Gabriel Bateman and Teresa Palmer in a scene from ‘Lights Out.’ Photo courtesy of LA Film Festival

At the center of the scares is a family in crisis. A young boy named Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is left alone with his mentally unstable mother Sophie after his father dies in a mysterious freak accident at work (which makes for a really intense opening sequence). Sophie, played by an incredible Maria Bello, is way too damaged to be raising a kid; she spends most of her time locked away in her room talking to a dead woman named Diana, with whom she spent time in a mental institution when they were both young.

Diana is like the physical embodiment of Sophie’s psychological problems, which allows the movie, through jump scares and a freaky atmosphere, to talk a little about the dangers of trying to hide these issues and the consequences of harboring them — or unleashing them.

Diana makes herself known by standing in the shadows, aggressively attacking her victims, and doing everything she can to ensure that the lights don’t go on and halt her terrorizing, and the lengths to which she’ll go are really unnerving. Even during the day and when all lights are on, she could be hiding in darkness under the bed, or a corner of the room, or strike when the inevitable power shortage occurs. She can also travel to different locations, so safety is never really guaranteed no matter where you go.

Martin seeks refuge in his older sister Rebecca, played with a realistic chip-on-her-shoulder attitude by Teresa Palmer, who has long since moved out to escape her own dealings with her mother and Diana. Over the course of events, she becomes hell-bent on protecting Martin at all costs — even going as far as wanting to be his legal guardian. Together with her unexpectedly likable and resourceful boyfriend Bret (Alexander DiPersia) Rebecca helps Martin battle the evil that has latched itself onto their mother in an ending that contains plenty of high-tension scares and a big moment that’s sure to be contentious among viewers, in relation to mental illness.

Produced by modern horror master James Wan, who recently gave us a winning horror movie filled with great acting, characters we care about, and real human drama, with last month’s “The Conjuring 2,” “Lights Out” is truly effective and bold, serving as proof that a PG-13 rating slapped on a movie in this genre doesn’t always mean that it won’t deliver.

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Event organizers and participants come together for one big group photo during the event. Soldiers on the Sound has been an annual celebration of thanking American heroes. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

On Saturday, the St. James community continued to show their appreciation toward active members of the military as the eighth annual Soldiers on the Sound Fluke Fishing Tournament hit the waters of Smithtown Bay.

Since 2009, the tireless efforts of the event’s organizers – all volunteers – make for a day of gratitude for those in uniform, camaraderie and smiles, and, of course, friendly competition out on the fishing boats. With each passing year, the event gets bigger and better, drawing in more boats, contributors and donations, to help give back to those service men and women who sacrifice their lives everyday. This year’s tournament was its biggest yet, drawing 61 boats, all donated and hosted by local captains and mates, and 150 registered soldiers, representing the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and the 106th Rescue Wing of the New York Air National Guard based in Westhampton.

After fishing, all soldiers returned to the Smithtown Bay Yacht Club, where they were treated to a large barbecue, a hot food buffet and a slew of raffle prizes generously paid for by companies and individual donors. The prizes included gift cards, coolers, speakers, 40” flat screen TV’s, Billy Joel tickets and a weekend vacation at the Hawks Cay resort in the Florida Keys, to name a few.

According to the event’s president and founder, Mark Garry, the only thing asked of the soldiers is that they have a good time.

“That’s what it’s all about – everybody hugging and high fiving, and thanking us sincerely,” he said. “They’re gonna go and eat like rockstars. We buy 800 cigars to give them. They have food, sodas, beers. It’s good, it’s very simple and rewarding.”

Photo by Kevin Redding
Photo by Kevin Redding

The conception of the event hit Garry when he was watching war coverage on the yacht club TV and saw soldiers reduced to lying in the sand, resting their heads on their helmets. He immediately went to work, focused on honoring those currently serving our country and giving them something relaxing to come home to. It didn’t take long for he and his “army” of volunteers to get the event underway, calling on everyone from military liaisons to boat captains to fundraisers.

“I’m retired Air Force and I knew the unit out in Westhampton,” said Skip Heine, the only founding member with a military background. “Mark called on me and we invited them the first time and they’ve been involved since. It’s great because back in the Vietnam days, you were not revered at all by the public, so it’s nice to see the people that protect get the recognition.”

Even though he didn’t have the best of luck catching fluke, active Marine Felix Torres was grateful for the event.

“To me personally, I feel like this is a great thing,” he said. “To have whole bunch of soldiers and Marines and Navy guys all go out together and fish, have a good time…it just shows how together we all are.”

The winning fluke of 6.4 pounds was caught by Captain Andy Smith and his boat crew, which included Air Force Mjr. Jesse Fritz and Tech Sgt. Nathan Dean.

“We’re very fortunate to have a community-based program like this,” Fritz said. “Being a military member out here on Long Island, there is not support like this everywhere so it’s amazing to be part of something like this, to be part of the community and see the support. Yes, it’s a fishing tournament and it’s fun but it means so much to see the support and how it all ties into the community. We’re very grateful.”

The Setauket Fire District breaks ground on Saturday. Photo by Kevin Redding

By Kevin Redding

Sound the alarms. On Saturday, June 4, Setauket Fire District officials broke ground on the community-approved New Era construction project, which aims to renovate and expand the current firehouse to provide safer, more efficient and “greener” emergency services. For more than a decade, the $14.9 million project had been through its fair share of planning and proposals, and after a long community effort to get it approved, a bond vote in June 2014 finally sealed the deal.

With construction finally starting, District Manager David Sterne, along with members of the Setauket Fire District and elected representatives, commemorated the slow but worthwhile journey toward the refurbished firehouse.

According to Sterne, the primary issue with the firehouse that’s being replaced is that it was built in 1935 and doesn’t meet the needs for today’s fire services, both in size and safety.

For example, today’s modern fire trucks are bigger due to safety necessities, like closed cabs and seat belts and so the project will provide properly sized apparatus bays for new trucks, as opposed to custom ordering the trucks to fit the smaller firehouse. Along with equipment upgrades and storage space, the firehouse also plans to install a partial green roof, a high-efficiency heating system, and solar methods for energy capture.

Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Supervisor Ed Romaine deliver their remarks at the Setauket Fire Department groundbreaking. Photo by Kevin Redding
Brookhaven Councilwoman Valerie Cartright and Supervisor Ed Romaine deliver their remarks at the Setauket Fire Department groundbreaking. Photo by Kevin Redding

“We have turned this into what we feel is a responsible and efficient project that will help us meet the needs for today and the next 50 to 75 years,” Sterne said. “Knowing the dedication of the men and women who volunteer their time to serve the community, to have the community come out and support this project was a reaffirmation of all the hard work that we do. We felt good in continuing to serve.”

With the sun beating down on a small gathering behind the firehouse, backhoes parked and surrounded by dirt hills, the ceremony was brief and to the point.

Among the speakers were Chairman Paul Paglia, Supervisor Ed Romaine (R), Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) and Councilwoman Valerie Cartright (D- Port Jefferson Station).

Speaking first, Paglia said that this building not only symbolizes a renewed commitment to the community, but also underlines the community’s decision to invest in the future of the fire department. It’s a major endeavor, he said, but one that will give the town a sense of pride for what will come of it.

Romaine expressed his immense pride for the men and women who serve the department, and men and women who guide the district.

Englebright brought his attention to the design plans.

“Your planning has just been exemplary,” he said, facing the fire district officials. “The result is a design that is compatible with the historic neighborhood. We are in the core area of the town of Brookhaven historic district in Setauket and there was every chance on a project of this scale that we could lose our sense of place. But that is not being lost. It is being preserved. I think that the community will be very grateful when they see this rise out of the sand and still look familiar, while serving their needs to protect life and property as never before.”

At the end of the ceremony, the officials and representatives posed in hard hats and dug shovels into the dirt. Even though this will be an 18 to 24 month project, the completion of over a decade’s worth of work is in sight.

“A couple of years from now,” said Sterne, “we’ll be holding those giant scissors and having a big ribbon cutting [ceremony].”

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File photo

By Kevin Redding

“We have a problem, and that problem is heroin. It’s a harsh reality.”

Setauket Fire Commissioner Jay Gardiner spoke at length about the heroin and opiate addiction issue that has swept Suffolk County at a Three Village Civic Association meeting at the Emma S. Clark Library on Monday night.

As guest speaker, Gardiner addressed the importance of having a dialogue with teens and children about the dangerous consequences of these specific drugs and staying on top of how much medication people consume to avoid overdoses. Gardiner also said it was important that residents recognize why heroin has become so prevalent.

According to Gardiner, the county’s affluence plays a large factor.

“Among the most common hard drugs, including methamphetamine and crack, heroin is the most expensive,” Gardiner said. “Out on the South Shore and other areas on Long Island that have different financial demographics, cheap drugs like methamphetamine and crack are much more obtainable while heroin isn’t. High schoolers and college students in Suffolk County, whose ages make up the majority of users, might have an ability to buy the more expensive drug.”

In the United States, drug overdose deaths have exceeded car crashes as the number one cause of injury death, according to U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). Two Americans die of drug overdoses every hour and 2,500 youths aged between 12 and 17 abuse prescription drugs for the first time every day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids — a class of drugs that include prescription pain medications and heroin — were involved in 28,648 deaths nationwide in 2014.

Gardiner admitted that he can’t lecture on how to control every North Shore kid’s behavior, however, and steered his presentation less on how to prevent the drug use and more on how to recognize when somebody is experiencing an overdose and being able to take the appropriate steps to save their lives. He specifically focused on using the anti-opiate overdose antidote Naloxone, sold under the brand name Narcan.

Gardiner said he knows of hundreds of cases just last year in which Narcan saved someone’s life from overdose in Suffolk County, and said that number is growing exponentially.

“We use this atomizing medication Narcan when the person we see is not responding,” said Gardiner, who demonstrated how to exert the intranasal spray into each of the patient’s nostrils. “You will revive these patients, if you’re fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time, in minutes. We use the nose because it’s a large area where it will be absorbed to the bloodstream and remove the opiate effects in that bloodstream quickly.”

As Gardiner explained in his presentation, it’s nearly impossible to find an IV on a patient who has just overdosed because the veins are often badly sclerosed, as indicated by track marks all over the arm. On top of a quick and effective route for absorption, by using the nose as an entry, there’s a much lower risk of exposure to blood.

Because Narcan is also effective against more commonly taken opiate drugs, pain reducers like morphine, oxycodone and fentanyl, older people especially should be aware of how it’s used in a worst case scenario where too many pills are taken to subside an excruciating pain, and an overdose occurs.

Shawn Nuzzo, president of the Three Village Civic Association who brought Gardiner in to speak, says that despite the war on drugs in our country being a failure socially and medically, normal everyday people can make a difference now.

“It’s like having a fire extinguisher in your house,” said Nuzzo. “It’s not gonna fix faulty wiring, but it’s good to have it there if you need it. It’s so important that people learn how to use antidotes like this. People need to learn how to use a fire extinguisher and they need to learn how to use Narcan.”

Earlier this month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that pharmacies across New York State would be providing Narcan to its customers without prescription, making it an extremely convenient and important addition to every resident’s medicine cabinet.

“Addiction’s an illness,” Gardiner said. “If you’re a diabetic, you carry insulin. If you’re bipolar, you have drugs to treat bipolar illness. We can’t treat addiction with drugs but we can certainly have these things around in case of an emergency because it is an illness and it’s so important to have this in your home. We can’t cure the addiction, but we can save the life even if it’s only temporarily.”

Ed Mikell shows off a clean bus stop in Commack just as his Seven Cents Club launched earlier this year. File photo by Alex Petroski

By Kevin Redding

Along Crooked Hill Road in Commack, garbage bags are piled up and filled with everything from fast-food wrappers to plastic cups and glass bottles. Tires, hubcaps, license plates and various construction materials are leaned up against a wooden post.

Only an hour or two prior, all these items were littered over the roads, sidewalks and grass. However, thanks to 73-year-old retired Commack resident Ed Mikell, the founder of the Seven Cents Club of Commack — a volunteer group of young people and retirees alike — the community can enjoy something scarcely seen when traveling through any town: cleanliness.

For all of his work cleaning up Commack, Mikell was named a 2015 Times Beacon Record Newspapers Person of the Year.

It all started when Mikell was cleaning a bus stop, where he discovered seven cents on the ground.

“My father [is] super energetic,” said Ed’s daughter and cleanup volunteer Jennifer Mikell. “He’s been retired for eight years and in his retirement he’s really done a lot to help others, whether it’s helping people balance their finances and figure out their own retirement, or helping out a local charity group that he works at a couple days a week.”

The Seven Cents Club sports its name on a spiffy garbage can in town. File photo by Alex Petroski
The Seven Cents Club sports its name on a spiffy garbage can in town. File photo by Alex Petroski

She explained that her father was frustrated that so many areas in his town had become so uncared for and unclean for so long.

“He wants to make the difference that nobody else is making.”

On Sept. 21, 2014, Mikell first took it upon himself to clean up an “unofficial” bus stop on Crooked Hill Road simply because he didn’t want people to have to stand in garbage. He went home, equipped himself with pails and some tools and went to work.

Using an abandoned shopping cart that had been turned sideways so people at the bus stop could sit down, Mikell filled up his pail four times, threw the garbage in the shopping cart, and wheeled it across the street to toss in a dumpster.

After making the bus stop pristine, Mikell reached out to the supervisor of Smithtown along with other Suffolk County representatives for some help, as he had become driven to clean up his neighborhood. A year later, Mikell has rallied together a small group of determined volunteers and has partnered with Suffolk County’s Adopt-A-Highway Program to secure cleanups on Crooked Hill Road up to its intersection with Commack Road.

The unofficial bus stop now has a white bench and a brown garbage can marked “7 Cents Club of Commack” placed alongside it.

“This is something that I thought would be a nice thing to do for the community,” Mikell said. “I’m just doing my part, [and] doing what I can as opposed to not doing something. I’m not marching and championing causes and all that stuff, but this is something I could put my hands around, and maybe make a difference. Abraham Lincoln once said ‘I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives …’ and that’s on the letterhead for the Seven Cents Club.”

The place in which Mikell lives has not ignored his efforts. Suffolk County Legislator Leslie Kennedy (R-Nesconset), who was among those first contacted by Mikell, sees him as “the epitome of a good citizen.”

Ed Mikell overlooks one of his first sites as part of the Seven Cents Club. File photo by Alex Petroski
Ed Mikell overlooks one of his first sites as part of the Seven Cents Club. File photo by Alex Petroski

“He takes a bad situation and makes it better,” Kennedy said. “Instead of sitting around doing nothing in retirement, this man created something. He called the county to get the garbage picked up, he dealt with the town and he did everything that was needed. Who wants to live in ‘pigginess?’ I don’t think he had any other reason for doing it, other than to make something better. We’ll never stop people from littering, [but] truthfully, the difference between last week and the end of what was done this week is noticeable. Really noticeable.”

With volunteers from Dix Hills, Centereach and Hauppauge, there are hopes that this group will inspire more towns to have their own Ed Mikell and Seven Cents Club, but it won’t be easy.

“That’s a big undertaking,” said Ed Feinberg, a Commack resident and club volunteer. “That would require a lot of time and effort. If I’ve walked away from this with one piece of knowledge it’s that it’s not easy, working your way through the red tape of county government and getting corroboration and information, but Ed’s done it. He’s done it very well.”