December 20-something is typically my cue to begin contemplating holiday shopping. It is a personality flaw that makes newspaper publishing and its strict adherence to deadlines the perfect vocation. Although the thought of joining the throngs of last minute shoppers is more stressful than the actual process itself—it’s like merging into oncoming traffic on the Long Island Expressway—all of the trepidation disappears when you punch it and join your fellow Islanders in the madness that is our existence, whether it’s on the roads or in the stores.
We’re a tough lot, Long Islanders, and the run up to the holidays tends to bring out the worst in many of us. Civility is all but lost when parking spots, long lines and Zhu Zhu Pets are concerned. In a past life, when I was in the catering business, I quickly learned that holiday parties required more security than every other social event. Nothing said the holidays quite like pent up coworkers fueled by last call at an open bar event.
Once upon us, however, the holidays offer a brief respite from the chaos and give us the opportunity to reflect on seminal moments of the past year, or in this case, the past decade—the decade Time magazine referred to as “The Decade From Hell.” The Long Island Press takes a more provincial view of the past year in this issue and comments on the events that most impacted us as a community. Some are national, but most are Island-centric issues and events that shaped our collective experience and continued to define us as a unique and wondrous species.
Personally, 2009 was nothing short of momentous as I bade farewell to several important pieces of my past, both material and human. Shedding each was both painful and important—any time we lose a piece of ourselves, for better or for worse, it hurts temporarily, but the scar tissue that forms is always stronger.
I hope the same is true of Long Island. We lost a great deal of ground in 2009 politically, economically and socially as the effects of the recession were felt across the spectrum and caused tempestuous reactions in all circles. And while I spent the better part of this year shouting at the rain and railing against certain politicians and organizations, it came from a place of deep love and admiration for this island we call home.
We deserve better in so many respects and the silver lining I see appearing is that we are beginning to speak with one voice and push back on the status quo. And if 2009 was a battle then the war will rage on in 2010. My battle-tested colleagues at the Press and I are prepared to wage war on inertia and challenge your sensibilities in 2010 and have never been so confident in our ability to direct the conversations that need to be had. Tumult is great for journalism and a stimulated, informed readership is a powerful audience and ally.
So as the first decade of the millennium comes to a close I thank all of you who care enough to read the words that we write and the issues we bring forward. I thank you for all of your feedback and support and promise greatness in the stories we will bring you next year. The truth contained in these pages is our gift to you as your trust in us is the gift that we cherish most. Here’s to a glorious 2010.
If you wish to comment on “Off the Reservation,” send your message to email@example.com.