The death of sex, reflections on being a Marine, and dishing on my week…

three images consisting of restaurant, US Marine Corps plaque, and train arriving with crowded platformDeath of Sex – One of the truly unique things about being human is that we have sex for fun. There are possibly only two other species (pigs and dolphins) that share this trait; every other species has sex simply to procreate. Today, however, in an unprecedented era of trial by newspaper, the whole process of flirting, courting, and casual sex doesn’t seem like much fun anymore.

I applaud and support the many women who have had the strength to come forward and call out the many men who have abused their positions of power. However, this watershed moment makes me also worry for innocent men who are now much more exposed to having their careers ruined by allegations that they said something inappropriate, rather than having just flirted with someone.

The recent swing of the pendulum has also increased the risks associated with consensual sex. The emotional tug-of-war that exists when one person doesn’t feel the same way as the other person causes people to do all sorts of irrational things, so what used to end as a “walk of shame” and some emotional text messages can now potentially result in criminal charges being filed on the say-so of someone who feels jilted and wants revenge. This possibility has always existed, but I fear that today’s climate has made it easier for the dishonest among us to totally ruin someone’s life.

I understand and agree that the priority right now is to make sure that women who have been victimized are safe and able to tell their stories. However, going forward, it is critical that we find the right balance between keeping victims safe and not overreacting when normal human behavior has occurred. Otherwise, we will create a world in which written consent forms will need to be signed prior to any sexual dialogue or activity, and that can only result in the death of sex.

Marines – It was 32 years ago this week that I reported to Parris Island, South Carolina for basic training to become a Unites States Marine. I was 17, and I can remember it like it was yesterday. I keep in touch with many of my Marine friends (it’s why I joined Facebook), and although we may be older and fatter, we always pick up with one another as if it were just yesterday. The bond that Marines share is impossible to describe to non-Marines; Marines are trained from day one to be the first to enter a hostile environment or combat situation, and we are reminded every day that the person standing next to you today may very well not be there tomorrow. Being a Marine is not something you do; it is someone you become, and I will always be proud to have become one.

At my wedding this year, I asked my friend Senator Tom Croci (a Naval Officer) to preside over the color guard and give the opening prayer; he thoughtfully and respectfully chose the Marine Corps prayer. I would like to reproduce it here as a holiday tribute and prayer to all the Marines who will not be with their families this holiday season because they are out there keeping watch over us all. Semper Fi, brothers and sisters…

Almighty Father, whose command is over all and whose love never fails, make me aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will. Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty in purpose and deed and helping me to live so that I can face my fellow Marines, my loved ones and Thee without shame or fear. Protect my family. Give me the will to do the work of a Marine and to accept my share of responsibilities with vigor and enthusiasm. Grant me the courage to be proficient in my daily performance. Keep me loyal and faithful to my superiors and to the duties my country and the Marine Corps have entrusted to me. Make me considerate of those committed to my leadership. Help me to wear my uniform with dignity, and let it remind me daily of the traditions which I must uphold. If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith; if I am tempted, make me strong to resist; if I should miss the mark, give me courage to try again. Guide me with the light of truth and grant me wisdom by which I may understand the answer to my prayer.


East End Holiday Luncheon – Last Friday I enjoyed celebrating the season with many of our East End clients and friends at our holiday luncheon at the Topping Rose House, right across the street from our Bridgehampton office. Merriment filled the air as the Harbor Bells English Bell Choirdirected by the aptly named Valarie Bellz, treated our guests to a lovely performance of Christmas classics. I had a great time catching up with some terrific people in such a beautiful setting. Thank you to all who celebrated with us!

Dinner with Friends – While enjoying delicious foie gras and Duck Mirabelle on Monday night at Mirabelle Tavern, I had the pleasure of running into Dexter Bailey, the Senior Vice President for Advancement at Stony Brook University and the Executive Director of the Stony Brook Foundation, and his family. Dexter is one of the most prominent forces in the advancement world, and Long Island is lucky to have him. I deeply appreciated Dexter’s recognition of last week’s Off the Record piece on white privilege, where I talked about the critical investment of white dollars into underserved minority communities. I also appreciated him paying for our dinner!

CMM Live – We’re gaining a lot of traction with our investigative live-stream video series, CMM Live, which provides a forum to both interview and educate thought leaders about critical issues impacting the local economy, from law and energy to housing and entrepreneurship. This week we had a special double feature where I caught up with two good friends, Dr. Yacov Shamash (VP for Economic Development at Stony Brook University) and Mitch Pally (CEO of LIBI and an MTA board member).

Yacov and I talked about the many ways Long Island has changed in the 20 years since we met, including the emergence of Long Island’s innovation economy; exciting things happening at LIHTI, the “godfather” of business incubators; and the secret to keeping talent on Long Island (ssshhh… it’s internships).

Following my conversation with Yacov I had an animated discussion with Mitch about changes to Long Island’s home-building economy, as trends shift from single-family homes to mixed use developments, condominiums, and transit-oriented hubs; the example Patchogue set about proactively revitalizing communities and the leadership it takes to make that happen; and why Long Island can’t build its way out of transportation problems with highways, but that we can and should invest in bus and rail transit improvements.

Both discussions left me very optimistic about the future of our beloved island as we head into 2018.