Dan Rattiner, our president and editor in chief, founded Dan’s Papers in 1960 and, remarkably, he continues to write three new stories every week for this fine publication. Each year he regales us with dozens of personal recollections from his enviable and often very amusing life, commentaries on local issues (without any fear of choosing a side), quirky tidbits from national headlines, long historical tales of East End fact and folklore, fabulist fantasy, hoaxes and even a peppering of farce. And we love him for it. The Hamptons just wouldn’t be the same without Dan.
Here are his five most read stories of 2016, presented in descending order. Enjoy!
1. End of a Legend: East Hampton Finally Has Its Way with Cyril’s Fish House
Dan always shines when it comes to speaking up for local people and local issues—and he’s never had a problem speaking out against those he feels are doing the wrong thing. In this May 26 story, he talks about the sad end of Napeague Strip mainstay Cyril’s Fish House, owned by legendary eccentric restaurateur Cyril Fitzsimons. The place was shut down by East Hampton Town for zoning violations, which was, as Dan put it, “egged on by the townspeople who were alarmed by the crowds of happy people crowding inside and outside Cyril’s bar with drinks in their hands alongside the Montauk Highway on the Napeague Strip.” He goes on to add, “Let us be clear about two things. Cyril was never accused of running a raucous, out-of-control bar. No one ever got into a fight there. No customer ever got hit by a car out front on the way to or from a parked car. No neighbor complained of too much noise. The crowd did seriously slow traffic late on a Saturday night a few times years ago. In response, Cyril, for the last four years, closed at 9 p.m.” It was a sad end to a storied Hamptons business.
2. Save Our Views! Truck Beach & the Road in Front of My House in East Hampton
Weighing in on another hot-button issue of 2016 in this June 16 post, Dan writes about the efforts of summer oceanfront homeowners to keep local trucks off Truck Beach in East Hampton. What would Truck Beach be without trucks anyway? Dan compares this case, which was eventually decided in favor of the trucks, with an issue in front of his house on Three Mile Harbor in East Hampton. He wrote, “My house is just 160 feet from the harbor, but there’s a road here that passes between my property and the water. And I have researched the deed about this road and I find there is about a six-inch gap in the right of way deed rights between where this road used to end—south of my house—to where it continued on going north up to Maidstone Park. This gap is right in front of my house. Its lack of proper wording makes the passageway to vehicles in front of my house illegal. They can go up to the six inches, and they can begin again beyond the six inches, but they cannot transverse the six inches. He threatens to sue, but it’s all in good fun.
3. Earth Is Flat: The World According to B.o.B
Stretching his scope beyond the Hamptons, as Dan likes to do, this story from February 6 looks at the social media battle between Grammy-nominated rapper-singer B.o.B and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson over whether Earth is flat or not. “It seems to have started when a video lesson posted with Tyson explaining to a bunch of college kids that the world was round was seen by B.o.B. He disputed it. The world is flat, he declared. He’d seen it from high up. He posted pictures out to where you could see the horizon. Flat,” Dan explains. He then quotes reporter Daniel Victor of The New York Times, who wrote, “People at one time did not have the privilege of seeing a famous rapper debate a famous astrophysicist about whether the earth was flat. We are deprived no more.” Pretty funny indeed.
4. Captain Kidd: Pirate Buried Treasure on Gardiner’s Island
Anyone who reads Dan’s Papers also knows that Dan loves to write about local history, especially when it has to do with Nazi saboteurs, Albert Einstein, the Amistad, Teddy Roosevelt, the Gardiner family and, of course, Captain Kidd. Needless to say, this February 7 story about Captain Kidd’s secret treasure buried on Gardiner’s Island was enough to make Dan swoon. Here, he writes, “In June of 1699, Kidd’s sloop appeared off Gardiner’s Island, a privately owned island between Montauk and Amagansett. Coming ashore, Kidd encountered the owner of the island, John Gardiner, together with his wife, kids and servants. Kidd gave a piece of gold cloth to Mrs. Gardiner as a gift. Then Kidd took Gardiner aside to a beach and let him watch as he buried the boxes of treasure he had brought ashore, after which he said he would soon return and, if the treasure was gone, he’d kill all the Gardiners.” The story continues from there.
5. East Hampton Shows its Fangs: From Uber to Cyril’s to Montauk to Rentals in Springs
In this broad May 21 story, Dan looks at all the regulation in East Hampton over the last year. He writes about the Town stopping Uber from operating there, about them closing Cyril’s, about efforts to reign in all the partying in Montauk and about the rental registry. “East Hampton is on the job. Maybe not on the job you might have thought. But nevertheless. Roar,” Dan says.