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Bob McMillanAn Opinion

By Bob McMillan
Presidents v. The Supreme Court

The recent political chatter about “Obamacare” before the Supreme Court of the United States got a great deal of media attention.  President Obama added fuel to the fire when he declared, “Ultimately, I am confident the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

For someone who was a law professor those words were absurd.  Even if a bill passed unanimously in the house and senate, it could still be overturned – if the law was in violation of the Constitution.


Michael Miller

Viewpoint

By Michael Miller
1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing

Nelson Rockefeller’s nomination for Governor in 1958 was partly an upstate revolt against the continued domination of party affairs by the Nassau Republican organization. Rockefeller was a man who always had bigger fish to fry, and throughout his almost 15 years as governor, he often went out of his way not to step on the toes of the touchy Nassau GOP. That’s why Nassau is the only large New York county without a state office building. Respect the turf.

Just before taking office, Rockefeller announced that State Senator William Hults would be Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, but not until the end of the 1959 legislative session, so that Glen Cove, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and a sliver of Hempstead wouldn’t lose their Senate representation until 1960.


Mike BarryEye on the Island

By Mike Barry
The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’

The Nassau County district attorney’s (DA) office makes a cameo appearance in Empty Mansions, an incredible book about Huguette Clark (1906-2011), the Manhattan-raised heiress whose generosity and eccentricities were legendary.

Now that Ryan Murphy, a creator of television’s “Glee,” has optioned Empty Mansions’ film rights, I imagine a scrum of top actresses are vying to play Clark.


Dorothy Parker’s Encore

Violet Epps, the 37-year-old protagonist in Ellen Meister’s just-published novel, Farewell, Dorothy Parker, needs to channel her inner b____, and the late Dorothy Parker’s often-inebriated ghost takes Epps under her wing to help Epps do just that.

Meister, a married mother of three who resides in Jericho, will be promoting her fourth novel with appearances on Sunday, Feb. 24, at 4 p.m., at Huntington’s Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., and on Friday, March 1, at 7 p.m., at Barnes & Noble, 91 Old Country Road, Carle Place.  

The narrative device Meister conjures up—the idea that the late writer Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) could return, albeit in spirit, to inspire a modern-day woman to be more assertive in all aspects of her life—works surprisingly well. And the author definitely knows every facet of Parker’s biography, effectively weaving many of the famed Algonquin Round Table member’s actual life experiences into the many challenges the fictional Epps faces. In the 1920s, New York City’s Algonquin Hotel regularly hosted a luncheon attended by the era’s top writers and editors, and Parker was one of the Table’s most celebrated members.

Set primarily on Long Island, the story focuses on Epps, a divorced woman who has found professional success as a movie critic at Enjoy magazine, reaching millions of Americans each week with a publication that sounds comparable to US Weekly. Yet Epps cannot translate the moxie evident in her written words into the concrete actions needed to bolster her day-to-day life, where office politics, a bitter custody battle, and the prospect of romance looms with her kung fu instructor, a fellow named Michael from Plainview.  

Parker’s ghost provides wise counsel to Epps on how she should address all of these matters, and the late writer is able to launch an endless series of entertaining observations and one-liners while consuming more alcohol than a frat house on a Saturday night. Epps’ enemies at Enjoy, the grandparents who want sole custody of Violet’s 13-year-old niece, and Michael, the martial arts expert, have no idea what they’re in for when Parker’s various game plans are set into motion. The action only slows down when Parker’s ghost runs out of gas near the end of the book, perhaps because her heightened blood alcohol level has rendered Parker speechless.  

Meister also keeps Parker’s spirit alive on Facebook, where the novelist launched a Dorothy Parker Fan Page that has attracted nearly 70,000 followers, making Parker the “liveliest dead author” on Facebook, according to G.P. Putnam’s Sons, the book’s publisher.

“I always suspected there were legions of Dorothy Parker fans out there, and finding so many of them has been a singular joy,” Meister said.  “Best of all, the page has become a community—a place where smart, literate people can connect to enjoy a national treasure.”

In addition, Meister teaches creative writing at Hofstra University School of Continuing Education and runs an online group where she mentors aspiring women authors.

One minor complaint about Farewell, Dorothy Parker: I read fiction to escape current events so I groaned audibly when Parker’s ghost got teary-eyed in one scene upon recounting Barack Obama’s victorious 2008 presidential campaign.  I was wondering why Parker would be crying about that turn of events, and then it occurred to me that Parker’s ghost is probably earning at least $250,000 a year.