May 24, 2006
SELL YOUR HOUSES, IT'S THE END OF THE HAMPTONS
It was a sneak attack.
It was planned with military precision and they showed up in the middle of the night by the thousands while we slept the sleep of innocents.
It was a well-coordinated attack. They flew in, each carrying a single twig.
Most of us had underestimated them. Yes, I admit I was one of those people who had taken them too lightly. I called them birdbrains. I was wrong and now I must admit I have a grudging respect for them.
My wife, the beautiful Judy Licht, believes they were coached by Connecticut realtors. I say they did it alone. Besides they are much smarter than Connecticut realtors.
The first one to realize we were under attack was Jim Tenny, a state policeman who, at 4 a.m. the night after Memorial Day, was on Route 27 near Manorville. Tenny was heading east for the state trooper barracks.
He never got there. Far in the distance his headlights picked up some rubble on the highway. It was two feet high and a foot wide; it was positioned across the highway. He flashed his light on the westbound lane and that too had the same rubble stretched across the road.
"What the hell is that?" he said as he pulled up to the rubble. He stopped his car and turned on his emergency light to hold up any cars that might be heading the same way.
"Nests," he said. "It's a wall of nests."
His light picked up many tiny eggs the size of jellybeans on steroids resting in the nests.
He got closer and suddenly 30 or 40 piping plovers came rushing towards him, squeaking and squawking. One of them dive-bombed him, streaking past his ear, and he found himself retreating to his squad car.
He radioed his headquarters and spoke to his boss, Captain Pat Shaine.
"Pat, it's the damndest thing. I can't get to the barracks. Piping plovers have built a gigantic nest stretching across the highway."
"Oh my God," said Shaine. "I just received a report that every road on the North Fork has had a nest built across it and there is no access to and from there either."
"Can't I just drive over or around the nests?" said Tenny.
"Are you nuts? This is an endangered bird. This is a federally protected bird — you have to drive at least 200 feet wide of even a single egg. Just block all traffic leading into the Hamptons. I'm sending Officers Yustein and DiGiacomo to make sure no cars or trucks attempt to leave the Hamptons and harm those nests."
"Well it looks like the only people going in and out of the Hamptons are the very rich who fly their own planes."
"Jim, I would have agreed with you but someone just handed me a report that the plovers have built their nests across all the airstrips and they have built nests blocking the wharfs from Sag Harbor to Montauk. Jim, we are under attack by a diabolical enemy and they have the Federal Government on their side."
By afternoon there was chaos on the East End. Local tree huggers had virtually taken over the governments in every town, claiming it was a federal emergency and that the poor, innocent plovers had the right to build nests wherever they wanted to. They reminded everyone that the plover eggs would hatch at the end of August and then traffic in and out of the Hamptons could resume a week after Labor Day.
Of course there wasn't enough food and bottled water in the Hamptons to last a week and food trucks were prohibited from coming in.
Within a week there were food riots, which started at Citarella when cooks and maids and restaurant chefs fought each other for the last of the foie gras.
Four billionaires, Carl Icahn, Ron Perelman, Mort Zuckerman, and Bruce Wasserstein (you know how antsy they get), called for a helicopter to land and pick them up from Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton. They climbed aboard and as the chopper propeller started to spin for takeoff, four suicide plovers flew into the propeller. It was carnage. Pieces of plover all over the place. Linda Olken, the local wildlife savior and Queen of the Tree Huggers, ran up and declared it was a massacre. Then she performed a citizen's arrest of the billionaires. Wasserstein, Perelman, Zuckerman, and Icahn were taken off the helicopter in handcuffs. They were arrested for contributing to the death of a protected bird and were carted off to the local East Hampton jail and held without bail.
The headline in the N.Y. Post was:
BILLIONARE BEASTS BRUTALIZE A BEVY OF BEAUTIFUL BIRDS
Page 6 reported that Mort Zuckerman, the owner of the Daily News, was spotted with some bird feathers hanging from his lips. Senator Charles Schumer called still another press conference and blamed President George W. Bush. "Where was he? Why was he asleep? I knew for years that sooner or later the piping plovers would want their own home. I'm sponsoring legislation to change the name of the Hamptons to Ploverland. I'm not just for the little guy. I'm for the birds," said Schumer.
Hillary Clinton blamed it on George W. Bush, too, and announced in the future her lucrative summer Hamptons fundraisers would be held in Yaphank.
Food ran out fast and all the restaurants went out of business.
The Shelter Island airlift lasted five weeks, when a parachute with a box filled with Franco-American Spaghettios for the starving Shelter Islanders accidentally landed on one of the plover eggs and crushed it. The airlift was called off. Alarmingly, e-mails from the starving population keep referring to the conditions being similar to those of the poor settlers who starved trying to cross the Donner Pass.
In a few weeks, everyone figured out that the piping plovers would be coming back and laying their eggs in the same place year after year. This brought the housing market to its knees. People tried to sell their homes for a fraction of what they once thought they were worth but there were no takers. This of course put realtors out of business and that put construction companies out of business which put landscapers etc . . . etc . . .
Slowly all of the local papers and magazines went out of business. First to go was the East Hampton Star. The Southampton Press lasted one week longer than the Independent and claimed a Pyrrhic victory.
Dan's Papers is still being published. In fact, Dan's Papers is crediting itself with even more circulation, claiming that a number of plovers have been sighted pooping on tied-up bundles of Dan's Papers outside of major Hampton outlets. This of course has led them to a new slogan "Whether they're reading it or pooping on it, Dan's Papers still is used by more readers than any other magazine in the Hamptons."
I'm writing this, the final Jerry's Ink, from a secret hiding place. I have been told that the plovers have a contract out on me. At this stage of my life I should be used to being "pecked" to death (sorry, Judy), but I've run away and I'm somewhere in New Hampshire and I've met this interesting guy I call Johnny Cakes. But that's another story.
I should have known this was coming. Last year on July 4 I was walking the beach and I saw this message scratched out on the shoreline. There were bird feet impressions all around it.
TODAY THE FOURTH OF JULY FIREWORKS, TOMORROW THE HAMPTONS
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