Authors Posts by Jack Shea

Jack Shea

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“Little Bighorn: A Novel” by John Hough Jr., Arcade Publishing. 320 pages. $24.95.

The battle of the Little Bighorn still rages, 138 years after George Custer and several hundred of his troopers were killed by Sioux and Cheyenne tribal warriors on a Montana hilltop on June 25, 1876.

Countless books and articles have been written on the man and the event, Custer apologists and satanizers are still dueling today. Was Lt. Colonel Custer a raging egoist who created his own last stand, or was he the victim of colleagues who commanded 60 percent of the on-site U.S. cavalry force but did not come to the aid of Custer’s 7th Cavalry regiment?

“Not many people do understand Custer,” author John Hough Jr. of West Tisbury told The Times this week. “He was a very big hero in his time. When I’m speaking about the book, I’m going to try to explain the mystery and drama around the event. My idea was to depict that [the Bighorn massacre] as a horrible nightmare. Look, everyone with him knew he was going to die that day.”

Mr. Hough will discuss his new book, “Little Bighorn,” on Sunday, July 20, at 2 pm as part of a speaker’s series at the Vineyard Haven Library, and again at the West Tisbury library at 5 pm on Saturday, July 26,  at the West Tisbury library.

Mr. Hough has delivered with a riveting novel of the life, times, and death of one of America’s most captivating personalities. The story is told in the voice of Boston-bred Allen Winslow, of Phillips Academy in Andover and Harvard College-bound.

Turns out Custer may have been a fanatic, but not about marriage, and he had cozied up in Washington, D.C, with Mary Deschenes, a well-known actress who was Allen’s mom. Allen is summoned to dinner in D.C. Custer dines with them and offers Allen a chance to ride with the 7th Cav in their summer campaign against Sitting Bull and the allied Sioux and Cheyenne nations.

Mom loves the idea, Allen hates it, and Custer doesn’t really care — until he learns that the unchaperoned 16-year-old sister of his regimental surgeon has run away from home in New York City to join her brother in the West. Custer may have finished last in his class at West Point, but he also knew that when momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, so Allen is dispatched to meet the wayward lass in New York and accompany her to the campaign staging quarters at Fort Abraham Lincoln in North Dakota.

Some of us find the prospect of visiting North Dakota unappetizing, even in 2014. In 1876, the journey took more than a week by train, in heat and dust, with multiple way stops and transfers. For Allen and Addie Grace Lord, the trip also entailed dodging Pinkerton detectives hired by orphaned Addie Grace’s self-righteous and well-heeled Cambridge aunt and uncles to return the lost lamb to their Calvinist fold.

Here is where one of Mr. Hough’s particular skills as a story-teller emerges. He is a concise, deft writer and a journalist who researches the hell out of his subject matter here, as he did in “Seen the Glory,” his very successful 2009 novel on two Vineyard lads who fight in the American Civil War in the Battle of Gettysburg.

His willingness to learn the quotidian aspects of late 19th century life and manners, speech and vocabulary, and to incorporate them into the story puts us in the horsehair seats of the coal-burning monster chugging across America.

I learned about life in the 19th century from his description of that train ride and its passengers: a melange of traveling salesmen, card sharps, and wide-eyed idealists seeking to start anew in the West.

The youngsters fall in love and inch toward their date with destiny, a process that Mr. Hough uses to build tension in a story whose outcome has been known to every schoolchild for more than 100 years.

Writing against a known outcome can be a thorny business and raises the stakes on the writer’s ability to create willingness by readers to suspend disbelief, a necessity for novels to be successful.

And he does it without hurrying, using a steady, constant pace that allows the reader to steep in the characters and their decision making and to occasionally shout silent, alas unheeded, warnings. I mean, you know it’s gonna go balls-up in the end, but you’re nail-chewing anyway.

Along the way, he dispenses bits of ominous dialog. Custer tells his new recruit that he is embarking on, “A new destiny, Allen. It won’t come round again.” Addie and Allen meet Joe Merriwell, a dead-eyed old Indian fighter on their passage who says, “There’s two, maybe three thousand fighting men waiting for you on the Powder River. Tell that to Colonel Custer.” Other characters, including military wives and Native American scouts, report dreams and feelings of impending doom.

At Fort Lincoln, Addie and Allen have consummated their love and are married, which defangs the Pinkertons who return to Cambridge to pick up their check.

On May 18, 1876, The 7th Cavalry rode out of Fort Lincoln in search of Sitting Bull, giving Mr. Hough the opportunity to describe life on the march, and the interior battles between Custer and his colleagues, who heartily loathed him and his success. We also learn that Custer was a more complex man than his popular image. His colleagues also hated him because Custer was an Army whistleblower.

Custer was in Washington, D.C., when he met Allen to testify willingly before a Congressional panel investigating theft and corruption surrounding “Indian” affairs throughout the financial and supply relief chain for native Americans. The U.S Army, as it turns out, was involved up to its forage cap.

So we also learn that Custer’s ethic included both a willingness to kill and subjugate his foe and, at great career risk, a complete unwillingness to abuse the vanquished.

Author’s Talk with John Hough Jr., Sunday, July 20, 2 pm, Vineyard Haven Library. Saturday, July 26, 5–6 pm, West Tisbury Library.

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“Eden in Winter” by Richard North Patterson, Quercus, N.Y. and London, July 15, 2014, 620 pages. $26.95 hardcover. Available at Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown Books, and at Island libraries.

Read this book.

Richard North Patterson is not a New York Times best-seller for nothing. In the third and final book about three generations of the Blaine family trilogy on Martha’s Vineyard, Mr. Patterson has produced the best of the series.

The book will work for readers anywhere but has a particular appeal for us because Mr. Patterson, a longtime member of the community, describes this place, its people, and its seasons with particular clarity. Island residents who know this place will nod in recognition. Visitors seeking to know this quirky community will be informed.

Mr. Patterson credits insight drawn from several friends, including Marcia Gay Harden and Drs. Charlie Silberstein and the late great Bill Glazer, both Islanders. In the book’s acknowledgments, the author added a poignant postscript about his friendship with Dr. Glazer, who died in 2013.

Dr. Charlie Glazer is their psychoanalytical alter ego in “Eden in Winter,” and his character not only brings lucidity to an emotional and psychological Armageddon, but he also provides insights for the readers to use in their own lives. Superb writing craftsmanship here.

The critical central character in the trilogy is Ben Blaine, a charismatic swashbuckler, womanizer, and best-selling novelist who has stood tall on the national stage for decades. He is the darling of the Island’s summer celebrity sniffers, an absolute brute and mysteriously dead as the novel opens.

Ben was a 1950s Island kid, born of the Island’s unseen poverty to an alcoholic fisherman and wife-beater. Ben uses his rich friends to get up and out, to Yale and a writing career, with a way stop in 1960s Vietnam, courtesy of Charles Dane, upper-cruster and father of Whitney Dane. Mr. Dane did not appreciate the attentions of this Island urchin to his daughter. He whispered in some well-connected political ears and voila!, Ben was draft bait.

Vietnam fed the fire in his belly and he used it to become rich and famous, living in the Chilmark neighborhood that had spurned him. The twists and turns of his life and those in it continued for decades and generated secrets and accompanying emotional and psychological dysfunction that come to a head when a dying Ben Blaine fell, jumped, or was pushed from a Chilmark promontory to his death on the rocks 80 feet below.

The police and D.A. like the latter theory and launch an inquest into people with a motive, including Ben’s brother; one of Ben’s sons; Ben’s current but estranged blueblood wife; and Carla Pacelli, Ben’s current and pregnant girlfriend, a recent Hollywood mega-star who has come to the Island to recover from the booze and drugs that destroyed her career.

Carla is the most sympathetic character in “Eden in Winter.” Mr. Patterson draws a believable story of her life, based on a childhood that honed her acting skills as she sought approval from a dad who dispensed love like he was throwing a manhole cover — that is to say, infrequently and not very far.

Adam Blaine, Ben’s nominal younger son, had it easy when all this was unfolding. He is a deep-cover CIA operative hunting Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders in Afghanistan’s mountain regions. He is the only family member not under suspicion because he was 10,000 miles away. The action scenes of his assignments in Afghanistan are as good as it gets in the spy thriller genre. Adam loathed Ben as heartily as the rest of the clan.

Now he returns to the Vineyard for the funeral and immediately determines to defend his family using a variety of covert obstruction of justice methods — the tools of his trade, if you will. The unraveling of all this is the plot of the novel.

But Mr. Patterson has created a much more gripping, psychologically parallel plot: what happens to people when uncovered secrets challenge their belief systems, what happens to people who have lived a lifetime of corrosive relationships, and, finally, is it possible to become whole again?

That’s where the stuff is. I can imagine Mr. Patterson and Dr. Glazer sitting on the front porch, unraveling the formative experiences of several generations, mapping the emotional landscape of a diverse group of people with an eye to emotional recovery and, dare we say it, coming to peace.

What came out of those meetings and into “Eden in Winter” is fruitful for all of us. While we may not have experienced the dramatic level of events of this novel, all of us wrestle with past and present relationships. You will recognize yourself and others in these characters. In addition to a great read, Mr. Patterson offers us usable insights to recognize our own devils and some methodology to put them to rest.

Hear Richard North Patterson talk about “Eden in Winter” and the Martha’s Vineyard trilogy on Thursday, August 14, from 7:30–9 pm at the Chilmark Community Center as part of the Author Lecture Series hosted by the M.V. Book Festival.

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Joe Sollitto, waving on the right, marched past the Harbor View in Edgartown's Fourth of July parade last year. To the left of him is Fred B. "Ted" Morgan, who led the parade for 43 years. — Photo by Alison Shaw

Being the guy after The Guy isn’t always easy.

Sometimes it doesn’t work out (Pete Carroll after Bill Parcells). Sometimes it does (Bill Belichick after Pete Carroll).

Joe Sollitto, riding in the Edgartown Fourth of July parade.
Joe Sollitto, riding in the Edgartown Fourth of July parade.

No worries for Joe Sollitto. The Dukes County Superior Court Clerk will step off first on Saturday (note the date has been changed because of a prediction of foul weather) as Grand Marshal of the Island’s grandest event, the Edgartown Fourth of July parade. Mr. Sollitto follows Col. Fred B. (Ted) Morgan Jr., who led the parade as grand marshall for 43 years before passing the torch after the 2012 event.

Mr. Morgan has been interviewed ad infinitum about the parade and its Island significance. He has always been clear that July 4 is Independence Day and the parade is a celebration of freedom.

Last year, the two men worked together in a transition year. It helps that both men are on the same page and that between them they have more than 80 years of parade participation.

Mr. Sollitto has participated in the parade since 1972. Both are members of American Legion Post 186 in Edgartown, the parade sponsor. Did Mr. Sollitto’s long parade involvement help make him Mr. Morgan’s hand-picked successor?

“Absolutely,” the 92-year old World War II  hero said from his Edgartown home last week. “Joe has done a great job on the parade. He’s worked with me over a number of years…and he’s very familiar with what’s going on.”

Mr. Morgan is considering whether to march again this year. “I’m really not sure whether I will,” he said with a chuckle.”Probably, I’ll decide on the day of the parade.”

The Harbor View presides over the parade each year.
The Harbor View presides over the parade each year.

Last Friday, Mr. Sollitto sat with The Times to talk about the “don’t miss” event and its meaning to the Island. “This will be always be Ted Morgan’s parade,” he said.  “When you think about the Martha’s Vineyard Fourth of July parade, you think Ted Morgan. Ted is one of the few real heroes I’ve met in my life – that any of us will ever meet. He’s very quiet about it. Ted is not one for the spotlight.”

Mr. Sollitto, as his predecessor has, also credited the work of Kristy Rose, assistant to town administrator Pam Dolby.

Well over 1,000 marchers  participate – a significant portion of Island residents. “Well, when you think about it, yes, it could be that 10 percent of the Island marches,” Mr. Sollitto  said. Residents who aren’t marching are lined up four deep on downtown Edgartown streets along the nearly mile and three-quarter parade route.

“People will put together a float or march for a specific cause that’s been helpful to them. Camp Jabberwocky and the Navy Band are perennial favorites,” he said.

Parade planning begins in February. The thought of the Navy Marching Band sitting in standby at Woods Hole on July Fourth is ugly. “The logistics are pretty big. We get with the Steamship Authority, the New Bedford fast ferry and organize buses and vans for transportation. It’s like conducting an orchestra; everyone has to be on the same page,” he said.

But, as an authentic Island event, it can also be a cappella. People show up with a float, ready to go, on parade day. “We encourage people to let us know by this Thursday so we can plan positions,” Mr. Sollitto said. “But, you know, people wake up on July Fourth and decide to participate. We accommodate as best we can.”

The Harbor View presides over the parade each year.
The Harbor View presides over the parade each year.

In addition to celebrating freedom, the parade has become manna to Island organizations and service agencies who show the flag and raise awareness about their work. Mr. Sollitto understands that value. He marched (and trumpeted) with the MV Boys and Girls club marching band until it disbanded in 1988. “We always saw a bump in donations after the parade,” the Marine Corps veteran said. “We’re asking this year for a patriotic theme on all the floats and we encourage businesses to partner with agencies and service organizations and to sponsor their floats. The agency publicizes its work and the company advertises its business.”

The parade is a boon to Edgartown business. With the support of the Edgartown Board of Trade, there is enough going on to keep visitors busy, literally from dawn to exhaustion, culminating with a fireworks display after dark over Edgartown harbor.

The parade begins at the intersection of West Tisbury Road and Pinehurst Road at 5 pm sharp. It turns right onto Main Street and then  left onto Pease’s Point Way (next to the monument). It follows Pease’s Point Way, makes a right onto Morse Street, a left onto Fuller Street and a right onto Thayer Street. At the end of Thayer Street marchers turn right onto North Water Street. Next it takes a right up Main Street and pauses in front of the reviewing stand in front of the Whaling Church. It continues up Main Street. takes a left onto the West Tisbury Road and finishes at the Edgartown School.

When the bells chime at 5 pm on Saturday, the parade will step off on time. Joe Sollitto will be wearing his tan Marine Corps “Charlie” uniform, Ted Morgan will be in the house, and all will be right.

Note: The parade has officially been postponed until Saturday, July 5, at 5 pm. The fireworks will also go off on Saturday night, at dusk.

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— Courtesy Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz has written his 32nd book to put his legal work “… into the broader context of how the law has changed over the past half-century and how my private life prepared me to play a role in these changes.”

For brevity’s sake, we will not introduce Mr. Dershowitz here. If you don’t know about him, feel free to return to your video game. Knowing about him and understanding him are two different things, Mr. Dershowitz asserts in the introduction to this autobiography. He also pledges unswerving honesty in his life story, a quality found in few self-bios. For the record, he delivers, along with liberal plaudits for himself and others. He also pops a few mythic bubbles about well-known public and legal personages.

Whether he is painfully honest in describing “Dersh,” his public persona, or “Alan,” the person, is moot to those who have already made up their minds. He is either a savior of the human condition or a self-aggrandizing rascal. Proponents from both the left and right seem equally confused.

In “Taking The Stand” the back cover blurbs, usually reserved for love-bombs, are a riotous blend of smart people, sometimes sharing the same political camp, who love or loathe him in clearly-marked prose.

For example, you’d think Noam Chomsky and Henry Louis Gates would be fellow-travelers on the subject of Dershowitz and civil liberties. Here are their blurbs:

Chomsky: “Dershowitz is not very bright (and) he’s strongly opposed to civil liberties.”

Gates: “Astonishingly brilliant courtroom presence (and) a subtle and compelling theorist of civil liberties.”

A pride of similarly divergent views from presidents, prime ministers, and some really neat people complete the pastiche. Go figure.

When all else fails, we must actually read the book and decide for ourselves. What we learn is that the Dershowitz public persona — relentless, dramatic, with dollops of high-profile public rudeness — can overshadow the estimable legacy of important law he’s created over the past 50 years.

For example, I assumed that public defenders have always been available to indigent defendants. Not so. As a law clerk, Mr. Dershowitz worked on opinions that led the way to establishment of the public defender system in the mid-1960s. There are other substantial examples of his legal pick and shovel work that advanced justice for all.

However, as legendary pitching coach Johnny Sain said: “The world doesn’t care about the labor pains. It just wants to see the baby.” The image of Dershowitz defending O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson, Claus Von Bulow, President Bill Clinton, and a bundle of other high-profile defendants defines and overshadows the work of a gifted legal mind.

“Taking the Stand” is tidily arranged around two themes. The first is a recounting of his early life, education, and career. The second arranges his public casework under topics named “The Changing Sound of Freedom of Speech” and “Criminal Justice” and a particular sweet spot, “The Never-Ending Quest For Equality and Justice,” dealing with human rights, race, and the division of church and state.

Mr. Dershowitz was raised in 1940s and 1950s Brooklyn, N.Y., by orthodox Jewish parents (and grandparents) whose lives spanned the Great Depression, World War II, the Holocaust, and diaspora. He was relentlessly reminded of the dictates and prohibitions of rabbinical law as well as interpretations of those laws. DVR setup instructions are child’s play in comparison.

He was a lousy student with a big mouth and an unbanked passion for being in the thick of issues that captivated him, evidenced by signing petitions as a pre-teen to working on Julian Assange’s Wikileaks defense last year.

He became a great student and Harvard Law School’s youngest-ever professor at 24. The big mouth and the unbanked passion? Not so much change. The record, as they say, speaks for itself.

What’s the greatest value we can take from a book? Self-knowledge, I think. Truth is, I didn’t want to review this book because I’ve never been able to figure out whether I admired this guy who I’ve never met. I would make a mitzvah for my pal, Peter Simon, no slouch himself at opinion-offering.

Peter and his wife, Ronni, are having a catered send-up for Mr. Dershowitz and his book at their Simon Gallery on Main Street in Vineyard Haven on Sunday, July 6, from 5 to 7 pm.

What I learned from my read is that objectivity effortlessly falls victim to opinion. Using a self-administered test, I asked myself about my opinion of three Dershowitz headline cases before the facts were in. The truth is I believed Mike Tyson did it because he’s a violent, asocial man. I believed Claus Von Bulow did it because he’s a rich aristocrat, and I believed O.J. didn’t do it because he was a gridiron artiste.

Try it. You may not like what you find, but you will think and learn. It made me feel better to know that great legal minds have also fallen prey to their belief systems. Mr. Dershowitz chronicles, by name, several legal luminaries who were misogynists or were devoted to civil rights law practice while belonging to private clubs that excluded African-Americans and Jews as members.

Mr. Dershowitz includes a lot of behind-the-scene dynamics in the process, including a hilarious bit of dialog between he and Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger on the cosmic subject of bear-baiting and obscenity.

Part of the confusion about Mr. Dershowitz, I think, is rooted in his commitment to argue both sides of a question. It seems inconsistent to us. So I’m going with the idea that the guy has been applying Newton’s Third Law of Motion for the past 50 years: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Author’s Talk with Alan Dershowitz, Sunday, July 6, 5–7 pm, Simon Gallery, Vineyard Haven.

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World Cup enthusiasm at local venue.

MFC Menemsha FC player James Ostrow scores the second goal during the opening game of their season. — Michael Cummo

The Vineyard Football Assn. opened its 14th season Tuesday night with a doubleheader at Veteran’s Memorial Field in Vineyard Haven. The Menemsha Football Club (MFC) outlasted Sports Haven (Spo H) 2-1 in a tightly-played contest.

In the nightcap, a younger, faster Island Star (IS) squad trotted past Island Copper (IC), 5-0.

While a dozen fans in the stands watched and listened to a grueling U.S.-Belgium World Cup game (Belgium won 2-1 in extra time) on their iPhones, MFC and Spo H played a skillful chess match in the center of the pitch, using short passes, overlapping and probing for opportunities for a run at goal.

With less than minute left in the half, a MFC midfielder lofted a medium depth pass down the right side, collected by a wing and centered to Gabriel DeOliviera who put it home. The McBride brothers, Declan and Jackson, contributed to Spo H knotting the score at 1-1 early in the second half. After goalkeeper Jackson made two good stops on Martin Aranzabe and Nainoa Cooperrider, play flowed the other way and Declan scored in a scrum in front of the net. Martin Aranzabe scored the clincher for MFC on a laser from mid-range a minute later. The teams cat-and-moused the rest of the way with limited scoring chances.

The summer soccer league is coed and open to all ages, including high school age players. MFC is known as “the high school” team because its roster is comprised of current Martha’s Vineyard High School (MVRHS) players and members of the Island’s 2014 state champion Under-18 travel team. Current MVRHS players Ben Poole, Jason Lazes, and Elie Jordi play for MFC.

Spo H’s roster is dominated by experienced players in their early 20s and the matchup was a clinic on successful soccer play based on skill with both feet, good technique and positional play and zero “diving.”

In the nightcap, the venerable mostly 40-something IC squad took on a frisky, younger IS team that tested IC keeper Andrew Warlock early and often, taking a 2-0 lead into halftime on a header from Ethan Gunty and an open-netter by James Ostrow.

At the other end, IS goaltender Kyp Cooperrider was the loneliest man on the pitch as his team dominated time of possession in IC territory.

At halftime, a weary but unbowed Kristofer Rabasca of IC explained that summer games against young, fresh legs serves his team well. “This is good for us: they make us run the whole game,” he said. “When our over-40 league starts in the fall, we can run circles around our competitors,” he said. Certainly the Island’s over-40 squad has distinguished itself in recent years, including an undefeated regular season and a league championship,

That’s not to say IC does not compete hard. Play got chippy in the second half as IS built a 5-0 lead on goals by Gustavo Silva, John Oliviera, and Max Karakul and the dreaded red card (ejection) went to an IC defender after he enthusiastically dumped an IS player who had stripped him of the ball seconds earlier.

The league plays high-quality soccer, and fans of the game would enjoy the level of play. The best teams offer a clinic experience to youth soccer players. Matches are played on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights at Veterans Memorial Field at 5:30 and 6:45. Admission is free.

Coach Esteban Aranzabe comments

The Times caught up with Esteban Aranzabe, coach of the n Martha’s Vineyard United under-18 boys travel team on Tuesday night, two days after his record-setting squad captured the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions trophy in Lancaster in a five-game sweep.

Mr. Aranzabe was standing quietly on the sidelines watching several members of his team, including his son, Martin, prepare for a summer league match at Veteran Field in Vineyard Haven.

The sidelines were buzzing about the U-18 achievement. Andrew Warlock, longtime Island soccer maven, was impressed. “Not only did they win five games, they were unscored on,” he said. The Vineyard team outscored their competition, 13-0.

Mr. Aranzabe, who will take the reins as head coach of the successful MVRHS boy’s soccer team in the fall, was also impressed by his charges. They outscored opponents 71-5 in the regular season, including the Needham Invitational Tournament, where the Vineyarders outscored opponents 9-0 before falling to a team from Southbury, Conn., 1-0, in the championship match.

”Needham is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the country,” he said. “It draws teams from all over the Northeast and it’s become a showcase for college soccer program recruiters.”

How did Martha’s Vineyard United pull it off? “We play a system,” he said. “We’ve been coaching these kids for years, since they were 8 or 9 years old and they understand the system.  They trust it, because it works for them.”

A builder here on the Island, Mr. Aranzabe was born in Uruguay of Basque descent. He is now a U.S. citizen and a law school student. He has a broad view of soccer possibilities on the Island. “People need to open up to soccer more,” he said. “‘The Rock’ can compete anywhere. Look at this match: there are five or six nationalities — Asian, European, American, South America, the Caribbean — represented in this game tonight.”

Will he take the system to the high school with him? “The system will be going to the high school,” he said.

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Senator Dan Wolf shared his concerns about the Pilgrim Nuclear Station at a public forum Tuesday. West Tisbury selectman Richard Knabel is in the background. — Michael Cummo

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts may have the authority to shut down the embattled Pilgrim nuclear power plant, State Sen. Dan Wolf (D-Cape and Islands) told about 60 people in Vineyard Haven Monday night during a panel discussion on the nuclear plant and related environmental issues.

Karen Vale of Cape Cod Bay Watch speaks to West Tisbury residents.
Karen Vale of Cape Cod Bay Watch speaks to residents.

“Let’s be clear. We are not having an energy discussion here tonight. We are having a public safety discussion,” the founder of Cape Air airline said.

Cape and Island opponents of the 40-year-old Pilgrim nuclear power station in Plymouth applauded the second-term senator’s assessment of a letter to the state from the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which regulates nuclear power plants at the federal level.

Mr. Wolf made his remarks at an event titled, “Could Fukushima Happen Here?” a reference to the partial meltdown in 2011 of the nuclear plant in Japan. He was joined at the Katharine Cornell Theatre by representatives of Cape Downwinders, Cape Cod Baywatch, and Pilgrim Watch, three groups opposed to the continued operation of the Pilgrim station. The discussion was sponsored by 350.org, The Gay Head Gallery, and the Democratic Council of Martha’s Vineyard.

Mr. Wolf said the landscape has changed as the result of a letter from NRC chairman Allison M. McFarlane to outgoing Gov. Deval Patrick. “The letter is telling the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, if you want to shut down that power plant, we’re not going to get in your way.  That is a very powerful letter,” he said.

Mary Lampert, of Pilgrim Watch, speaks about the Pilgrim Nuclear Station.
Mary Lampert, of Pilgrim Watch, speaks about the Pilgrim Nuclear Station.

Ms. McFarlane’s letter, dated June 9, said, “The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has the overall authority for making protective action decisions (e.g., sheltering and evacuation) to ensure the safety of Massachusetts residents during a radiological event. In addition, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency maintains the FEMA-approved State Radiological Emergency Plan for implementing those decisions. Therefore, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a significant role in determining the adequacy of Pilgrim’s Emergency Preparedness program.”

Noting that an effective emergency plan in place is a requirement of licensing a nuclear power plant, Mr. Wolf said, “We have been told over and over again that the state has a very perfunctory role in this (matter).”

The NRC recently relicensed Pilgrim by downgrading its performance level. Under intense pressure, including a statehouse sit-in by groups opposed to the plant, Gov. Patrick sent a letter of concern dated March 17 to the NRC. The June 9 NRC letter was its response.

Entergy, Pilgrim’s owner, will shut down its Vermont Yankee nuclear plant this year, citing competition from lower-priced natural gas. The Louisiana-based energy provider and distributor operates nuclear energy plants in eight states.

West Tisbury selectmen Richard Knabel,offered a comment before the meeting began that became a mantra for the evening. Quoting anti-nuclear activist Arnie Gunderson, he said, “Forty good years can be followed by one very bad day that will last 100 years.” Mr. Knabel noted that 21 Cape and Island communities had passed a resolution at annual town meetings this year requesting Gov. Patrick to call for a NRC shutdown.

Speakers focused on three major themes: the impact Pilgrim has on its environment; the impact on people and the land in the event of a Fukishima-type accident; and risks at Pilgrim before and after decommissioning.

More than 14 million fish, 160 billion mussels and other aquatic sea life die each year in Cape Cod Bay as a result of interaction with the Pilgrim cooling system, Karen Vale, a wildlife biologist and campaign manager at Cape Cod Bay Watch.

Mary Lampert of Duxbury, founder of Pilgrim Watch more than two decades ago, provided a map with concentric bull’s-eyes that estimated 3,000 immediate and 23,000 long-term losses of life in the event of a Pilgrim nuclear accident.

Diane Turco of Cape Downwinders unveiled two crudely drawn MEMA maps of the Cape bridges which indicate that the bridges would be closed in the event of a nuclear accident with residents advised to “shelter in place.”

Ms. Turco joined Sen. Wolf in his call to pressure legislators. “The political landscape will be different in six months, enabling us to put pressure on state government,” she said.

“Now is the time to get commitments from candidates, in writing, about what they intend to do about this,” Mr. Wolf said.

During a brief question and answer period, West Tisbury resident Anna Edey, a solar energy proponent, said a financial solution, requiring more expensive safety systems is the right strategy because “the political process takes too long.”

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The reigning champs beat the Cubs, 10-0. In the minor league matchup, the Dodgers beat the Orioles, 9-2.

The Red Sox beat the Cubs, 10-0, Saturday afternoon at Veira Park and claimed the title of Martha’s Vineyard Little League major league champs for the second consecutive year.

Earlier in the day, the Dodgers became the minor league champions with a 9-2 win over the Orioles. Both games were played before crowds of several hundred enthusiastic and courteous family and friends.

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Dodgers Jakie Glasgow, right, and Cam Napior celebrate winning the Little League Minor Championship as teammates rush to embrace. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Martha's Vineyard Cubs left fielder Finn Lewis ducks as he watches a called strike three during the Little League championship game in Oak Bluffs. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Orioles player Tobey Roberts hugs Teagan Myers after an incredible diving catch in left field. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Little Leaguer Owen Dibiaso pitches during the championship game in Oak Bluffs. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Gunnar Graham crosses home plate with a smile. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Orioles player Parker Blake hits a pitch. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Little League player Devonne Saunders high fives his coach Jimmy McKean after hitting a triple. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Dodgers coach Jay Napior instructs Little Leaguer Seamus McKean during the championship game. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Little Leaguer Silas Abrams, center, celebrates hitting a home run with Jack Lionette during the championship game in Oak Bluffs.Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Silas Abrams rounds third after he hit a home run during the Little League championship game. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Silas Abrams shows his stuff. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Orioles pitcher TJ Lett throws a strike during the first inning. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Orioles player Teagan Myers swings and misses during the Little League championship game. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Orioles player Derek Reed swings at a pitch during the Little League championship game. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Dodgers player Devonne Saunders launches a triple. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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TJ Lett comes in hot. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Jack O'Brien looks out on the field during the Little League championship game in Oak Bluffs. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Martha's Vineyard Red Sox pitcher Jake Howell throws a strike during the opening innings of the LIttle League championship game. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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The Martha's Vineyard Dodgers celebrate winning the Little League Minors championship. Photo by Michael Cummo.

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Martha's Vineyard Dodgers relief pitcher Cam Napior celebrates at the moment the Dodgers won the Little League championship. Photo by Michael Cummo.

Little Leaguers Emily Mello and Hoffie Hearn sang the national anthem before both tilts. Emily’s coach and dad, Rick Mello, accompanied on electric guitar on a perfect day for baseball.

Both the Red Sox, in the major league game, and the Dodgers, in the junior circuit, won by virtue of two explosive innings in what were otherwise tight, high-quality baseball games.

Former Little League and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School standouts Will Stewart and Ben Ciciora threw out the ceremonial first pitches before the Red Sox (17-1) took on the Cubs (13-5). Current MVRHS star Tim Roberts threw the minor league game’s first pitch between the Dodgers (14-2) and Orioles (14-1). Ken Goldberg, Bill Vrooman, and Larry Johnson umpired both games.

Big bats power the Sox

Saturday was Jake Howell’s time. The Red Sox starting pitcher mixed a fastball and a changeup with movement to keep Cub hitters off-balance and off the board for four and two-thirds innings, striking out 12. Pete Gillis walked for the Cubs to open the game before Jake struck out the side. He finished the season with a 5-0 record and 2 runs in nearly 24 innings.

 

Cubs starter Keaton Aliberti was also dominant early, surrendering a first-inning run on an infield single to Red Sox leadoff hitter Peter Burke who advanced to third before scoring on Joe Serpa’s infield out, giving the Sox a 1-0 lead.

The Cubs had a golden opportunity in the second when they loaded the bases. Andrew Marchand boomed a double to right, Mike O’Brien worked a walk on a long at-bat, and Max Potter’s sharp single to right advanced them, but a crisp grounder to third with two outs resulted in a force-out.

The Red Sox went quietly in the second as Keaton struck out the side, on his way to five consecutive Ks. Jake returned the favor with three Cub K’s in the third. The Red Sox struck for five runs in the bottom of the third, courtesy of walks and two-run singles by Jeremy Regan and Joe Serpa. Lefty Mike O’Brien relieved and recorded a strikeout before Joe Serpa stole home and Oliver Lively walked to force in a run. Andrew Marchand relieved Mike and got the final out.

Following a break for a rendition of Sweet Caroline, the Boston Red Sox seventh-inning anthem, in the top of the fifth, the Cubs’ Pete Gillis ripped a single into right. Jake Howell reached his pitch limit (85 per game) and was relieved by Jared Regan, who snuffed the threat with the help of a pickoff.

The Red Sox ended the game in the bottom of the inning, scoring four runs on triples by Oliver Martin and Jeremy Regan, chasing home Finn Lewis, Nick Cranston, and Peter Burke, who had walked. Then the Dropkick Murphys victory song skirled over the PA and the player pile was on, followed, by the Red Sox team rushing the left field fence and flipping over it, reminiscent of Torii Hunter’s vain try for a David Ortiz homer during the 2013 playoffs.

Dodgers prevail

The Dodgers got busy early in support of starting pitcher Silas Abrams, scoring four in the first, courtesy of a lofty triple by Devonne Saunders and some shaky Oriole defense. The Orioles got a runner to third in their half of the first but Silas’s nice pick of a grounder up the middle ended the threat.

The Dodgers and Orioles both got runners to third base in the second inning but good defense kept them there. The Dodgers began to pull away in the third inning when catcher Jack Lionette roped a double and Silas hit a two-run bomb to support himself. Cam Napior doubled and Owen Dibiaso singled him home to give the Dodgers a 7-0 cushion.

Seamus McKean ended the Dodger scoring with a swinging bunt two-run homer in the fourth after a throw to first tangled the base runner and an O’s defender. The ball skipped merrily down the right field line as Seamus scored behind Jack Crawford, who had walked, for an 9-0 lead.

The O’s kept coming, adding a single run in the fourth when Nate Story singled, advanced to third and scored on a single by Tobey Roberts. The O’s loaded the bases but were unable to add more runs.

In the fifth, after a sparkling catch by O’s shortstop Teagan Myers ended a Dodger threat, the O’s loaded the bases again on a single by Richie Combra and walks to Derek Reed and Mateo Darack but were unable to score.

The O’s closed out the scoring in the sixth inning on a reprise of the Nate Story/Tobey Roberts run-scoring effort in the fourth inning. The Dodgers shut down the O’s final threat and the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” accompanied the player pile.

Future championships will likely be played at a nearly-completed Penn Field on Pennsylvania Avenue. Wherever the games are played, Little League, as it’s played here, offers a sense of pure Americana.

Watching league safety officer Chris Porterfield carefully and artfully channel his inner Joe Mooney (legendary Boston Red Sox groundskeeper) watering the field between games, it became clear that the Island understands and acknowledges the all-volunteer effort that allows us to witness the coming of age of the Jake Howells and Jack Lionettes.

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Two close games and a blowout started off the League’s 10-week season.

Rug sox batter Elizabeth Clark hits a single during their opening night softball game. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The six-­team Martha’s Vineyard Women’s Softball League (MVWSL) opened its 10-week season Tuesday night at Veterans Park in Vineyard Haven with two nail-biters and a blowout.

Snaps batter Kaylea Moore swings for the fences during their opening game against the Creamers.
Snaps batter Kaylea Moore swings for the fences during their opening game against the Creamers.

In early games, Mocha Mott’s Creamers came back against defending champ Long and Meehan Snaps to win, 7-­5, and the Wharf Restaurant’s Shady Ladies scored five times in the first inning and held on to defeat the MacDonald’s Rugs and Carpets Rug Sox by an 8-­7 score.

The Shady Ladies are sponsored by Vineyard Complementary Medicine. In a murky nightcap played under dense fog and sub­par lights, the 2013 league runner-­up Honeys defeated Mama’s Girls, 21-­3, with a 10-­run explosion in the fourth inning. The mercy rule was invoked after Mama’s Girls batted in the fifth inning, scoring once.

The MVWSL plays a 10-­game regular season and up to 11 playoff games between now and Aug. 14. The games are played at 6 pm in Vineyard Haven on Tuesday evenings and on Thursday evenings in Vineyard Haven and at the West Tisbury School field in West Tisbury. Children, sports fans, and dogs are welcome at no charge.

The 2014 Island softball campaign includes some significant changes. For one, a large square orange mat has been added behind home plate, expanding the strike zone for the men’s league.

There is no change in the women’s strike zone, though the mat does seem to give catchers a truer bounce on pitches in the dirt. Perhaps the biggest change will be the absence of Ralph Stewart, the recently ­departed sports editor of The Times who was the beloved chronicler of league play since its inception. Mr. Stewart was in attendance Tuesday night but modestly declined a public introduction, citing his completely unreasonable fear of applause.

Several teams have experienced significant roster turnover. Honeys coach Nicole Gazaille has replaced four players, bringing on shortstop Sarah Wennes, catcher Amanda Gonsalves, and outfield sister duo Kat and Emily deBettencourt. Ms. Wennes, an Iowan transplant, felt right at home, homering twice in a four­-hit debut.

Across the diamond, Big Momma Mike Magaraci has brought in four new Mama’s Girls: shortstop Danielle Pappas, second baseman Jess Matus, multi-­position player Diana Nash, and right fielder Hayley Panek who joins sister Jackie on the team. And yes, Mr. Magaraci said he is hoping for multiple “Panek attacks” this season.

One Island softball icon remains unchanged. Richie “Ripper” Roy began his 30th year umpiring men’s and women’s softball this week. Mr. Roy was behind the plate for the Honeys­–Mama’s Girls tilt, issuing his stentorian and choreographed “Stee­rike” calls.

Winter rust was not apparent in the season openers though outfield play turned problematic late in the game when several seemingly catchable fly balls disappeared into the misty fog and came to rest untouched.

Infield play was steady, spectacular at times, in all the contests. The ladies brought their hitting shoes, scoring 46 runs in 19 innings of opening day play, aided by some heady and gambling base running by Shady Ladies Harriet Broun and Megan Lizotte and by Dylan Spencer Kenney in close contests.

The Rug Sox encourage their teammates during an opening night loss.
The Rug Sox encourage their teammates during an opening night loss.

The Creamers­–Snaps affair was particularly tense. The Snaps nursed a 2­-0 lead into the fifth inning when a booming triple by Nicole Bodeau scored two Creamers to knot the score. The Snaps went up in the bottom of the sixth, stealing a run on a two-­base scoring dash by Dylan Spencer Kenney on a groundout. They added two more on a throwing error to take a 5-­3 lead into the seventh.

The Creamers took a 7-­5 lead, tying the score on four consecutive hits, highlighted by Becka Gorham’s triple. Zoe Nugent singled in the winning runs to end the scoring.

The games showcased heady play by the infielders. Of particular note were shortstop Carol Bailey of the Rug Sox, Snaps third­-sacker Ryann Gold, Ms. Wennes and Ms. Pappas, and left­-handed Shady Lady shortstop Sue Sanford.

In Thursday games this week, the Creamers face the Honeys in West Tisbury and the Rug Sox face the Snaps in Vineyard Haven

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— Photo courtesy of MV Museum

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum has morphed from a venerable, dusty institution into a center of Island cultural energy over the past several years.

The process has been fascinating and very cool to watch, cool enough last Friday afternoon to draw more than 100 people to hang outdoors through an enthusiastic series of summer showers to celebrate the opening of the Museum’s summer season.

The group chummed up nicely under the tent during brief downpours then expanded outside on the lawn under dry skies to munch, sip, talk, and listen. And to watch Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse players enact a scene from “The Whaleship Essex,” a play by Joe Forbrich based on a true story that also inspired Melville’s classic novel, “Moby-Dick.” The play opens June 19 at the Playhouse.

Museums and plays? “This is not your mother’s museum,” Dan Waters, the museum’s development director, noted whimsically just before a Playhouse crew of 19th century whalers created a foredeck between the munchy and drink tables to enact the dynamics of a fateful voyage about to set sail in 1820.

The museum has had a bit of a voyage of its own. Incorporated in 1922 as the Dukes County Historical Society, it was later known as the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society before adopting its present name in 2006 and embarking on a series of high-visibility events and exhibitions, many involving Island schools and community groups. Indeed, the demographics at Friday’s event spanned 20-somethings to grandparents. The audience included steady hands like Denys Wortman and Leo Convery, the Playhouse ensemble, and folks like you and me who are drawn to the energy.

“We wanted to move away from a closed environment to an open place of participation,” Mr. Waters said.

Executive director David Nathans added, “It takes time to change from an academic environment. We would get you to come once a year and that was it. But if we can get you to come five or seven times a year, we’ll become part of your life.”

Both men acknowledged that the quiet work of committed historians and academicians over eight decades provided the treasure trove they are mining today, including the work of Sheldon Hackney and Matthew Stackpole, former museum executive director, who has facilitated a visit to the Island by the Charles W. Morgan to coincide with the Morgan exhibit unveiled this month, featuring America’s oldest commercial sailing vessel still afloat and the last living example from the American whaling fleet.

The exhibit includes a whalebone replica of the ship, images of the ship’s logbook from a Morgan voyage, and an oil portrait of Thomas Adams Norton of Edgartown, the Morgan’s first captain.

Mr. Waters said the volume of stories, data, and information, such as the Morgan exhibit, amassed by museum pioneers, is extraordinary: “Only two percent of the museum’s collection has ever been publicly presented. Just two percent.”

In the corporate world, re-branding an old institution is sometimes likened to turning the Queen Mary with a string: it can be done but you have to be careful and it usually takes a long time. The museum’s transformation has been underway since 2006, fueled by some watershed events, and it has momentum.

The Stan Murphy (painting) and Alfred Eisenstadt (photography) shows, The Enchanted Island exhibits, and the History of Island photography were among marquee events that first caught the public eye, Mr. Nathans said. The museum seems in the business of creating living history for patrons in the mode of Linsey Lee, a museum stalwart who has created a century’s worth of priceless oral history interviews with Island notables.

The fun ain’t over yet. In 2017, the museum will move most of its facility to the Marine Hospital, now being rehabbed, overlooking the Lagoon in Vineyard Haven, as the anchor for a new state-designated cultural district.

Mr. Waters believes that the new-found energy in local libraries and museum, on the Island and elsewhere, is a response to people’s need for more community. “The Island is realizing the importance of hearing and telling history and stories in their lives,” he said.

For more information about the M.V. Museum, call 508-627-4441 or visit mvmuseum.org.

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“Terminal City,” by Linda Fairstein, Dutton Adult, June 17, 2014, 384 pages. $21.08.

Entering or leaving New York City through Grand Central Terminal is an exotic and romantic  experience for most travelers. But even weary daily commuters will be enthralled by “Terminal City,” Linda Fairstein’s latest thriller, which explores 130 years of secrets hidden in the giant terminal and under the eight stories below its 48-acre footprint.

Ms. Fairstein has produced 16 novels in the Alex Cooper series and she manages to make a Manhattan landmark a lively character in each of them. This time, assistant DA Alex Cooper and her NYPD pals see more of the world’s sixth-most-visited tourist attraction (according to Travel + Leisure magazine) than they — or we — ever knew existed.

Ms. Fairstein knows the geography and the grittiness of New York City. As chief of the Sex Crimes Unit of the district attorney’s office in Manhattan for more than two decades, she learned to negotiate the labyrinths of both New York City and the big-city criminal justice system, skills called upon in “Terminal City” after the mutilated body of a young woman is found in a suite at the Waldorf-Astoria, a few blocks from Grand Central.

The Cooper clan is intact and on the job. Alex Cooper runs the special victim’s unit for the New York district attorney. Mike Chapman is an NYPD detective from a “blue” family in Queens. His father was a cop who died on the job. Mike went to college, but he’s a street guy at heart. He and Alex, a trust-funder, have been trying to unravel their romantic feelings for years. In “Terminal City,” they’ve almost, maybe, solved that mystery.

Mercer Wallace, an investigator with the sexual victims unit, and NYPD Lieutenant Rocco Corelli are in the house. Mercer is Alex’s best friend on the job, and he is a crime-solving logic machine.

Lt. Corelli’s unenviable job, alas, is to solve crimes while placating headline-happy police commish Keith Scully, and helping Alex to manage DA Paul Battaglia, ever-greedy for information he will convert into career-friendly political capital. Neither man seems to exhibit any regard for crime or its victims except as risk-reward factors in their career advancement plans. Thus, we can agree that this series is reality-based.

So now we have a dead girl in Waldorf Towers with criss-cross patterns cut into her thighs. Bad, but it’s New York, you can live with it. Except that POTUS (The President Of The United States) has decided to take a train ride into New York for political haymaking. He will enter Grand Central in the Presidential train on the Presidential track next to an elevator that will drop him off at the Waldorf where presidents always stay. For real, all this exists under Grand Central today.

Then a second similarly-marked woman’s body is found closer to Grand Central, then a third, a man, in the bowels of the terminus. The team enters the station’s subterranean world to meet a community of “moles,” under-dwellers who may have clues to the mystery.

Alex (like Ms. Fairstein) has a house in Chilmark, which is looking particularly attractive after a few days in the heat, smells, and darkness, not to mention the third rail, in this murky world. Feh!

Up above, the feds are going crazy, the mayor is over the moon. Scully and Battaglia are grinding the investigators.

Oh, did I mention that, in a testament to our criminal justice system, a perverted wacko Alex put away a few years ago is now on the loose, looking to take her off the board?

Is this killer part of a terrorism plot or a solo flyer? Who is he? Where is he? And why is he acting so badly? They find out all those things, and that he grew up roaming Grand Central’s underbelly and knows all of her secrets. You gotta read the book for the rest. That’s the rule here.

You’ll like it. I really liked it. I’m finding that as the series matures, Alex the trust-funder has gotten tougher. The dialogue generally is more “street.” Of course, Mike Chapman has always been street and he still watches the final question on “Jeopardy,” regardless of the circumstances.

Ms. Fairstein’s greatest passion is to stop violence against women and Alex Cooper is her voice. The Alex Cooper series gives us a look at big-city crime from the perspective of a prosecutor who lived with it for more than 20 years, and it shows.

In the series, you also get a travelogue, albeit on the seamy side, of the Big Apple. Why, you might even rush to catch a train into Grand Central yourself. Here’s a tip. If you run into New Yorkers who yell, “Watch it, I’m walkin’ heah!,” pay attention. They mean it.

Linda Fairstein will sign books on Friday, July 4, at 3 pm, at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 508-693-2291 or visit bunchofgrapes.com.