Last Friday’s 42 minute Oak Bluffs fireworks achieved yet another milestone. Of the nine U.S. presidents who have visited the Island, the first, Ulysses S. Grant, and now, the present, Barack H. Obama, have become the only two to witness the glorious display in Cottage City’s remarkable Ocean Park. Thank you to Black Entertainment Television whose considerate and unsolicited financial assistance helped bring the fireworks back. I hope someone from town leadership will send BET a more formal thank you note.
Tomorrow, August 24, marks the 178th anniversary of the first camp meeting in 1835. Our now famous town would never have come into being had not those pilgrims sat in the woods of our great watering place at Wesleyan Grove to pray. Thirty-seven years later, the secular community built by the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Company had a big week at the Tivoli when, along with other scheduled activities, Tuesday evening August 27, 1872 featured the season’s final popularity contest. The event promoted as “Always Interesting” used spectators’ applause to decide which couple would win five dollars in gold. Comparatively, five 1872 gold dollars are worth approximately $825 today, perversely proving folks like Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton correct — even in 1872 it paid to be popular.
Oak Bluffs quiet celebrity Dawn Davis is popular indeed as I found out last Saturday at her third Martha’s Vineyard literary brunch at Hooked — a sit-down, full service, invite only, no charge brunch sponsored by Morgan Stanley and 37 Ink, Dawn’s new imprint of the Atria Publishing Group, a division of Simon & Schuster. Readings were given by authors Bill Cheng (Southern Cross the Dog), Edward P. Jones (All Aunt Hagar’s Children) and the entertaining Nikki Giovanni, who read from her soon-to-be published new work. Dawn became the publisher of 37 Ink, having joined Simon & Schuster in May from Harper Collins where she was the publisher of Amistad. 37 Ink plans to publish 10 books annually — the first of which is Wil Haygood’s The Butler: A Witness To History, the companion book to last week’s box office winning movie starring Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and a star-filled cast that premiered at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society on August 14. Dawn has published Edward P. Jones’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Known World, Chris Gardner’s The Pursuit of Happy Ness that the Will Smith movie of the same name was based on, and both of Steve Harvey’s yearlong-plus New York Times best sellers, Straight Talk No Chaser and Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man. The books launched a movie and Mr. Harvey’s new top-rated television show. Dawn’s new assignment was a coup in the publishing world where she is described as “having impeccable credentials, great taste and a discerning eye.” In even bigger news at the brunch, Dawn Davis announced the formation of the Inkwell Book Club, a national club dedicated to draw attention to books by black authors and provide readers with more choice and influence in literature. Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Martha’s Vineyard Hospital hosts the 25th annual Sullivan Run/Walk tomorrow morning with a goal of raising $50,000 in an effort to enhance the lives and health of the Island’s diverse community. The indefatigable Dr. Sullivan has long encouraged daily exercise.
Natalie Cole and Babyface perform tomorrow at the Tabernacle for On The Vine’s music festival, raising funds to eradicate kidney disease, at 6:30 p.m., doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Rev. Canon Edward Rodman leads services at 9 a.m. at Trinity Church on Ocean Park Sunday with a sermon entitled The Road From Charity to Justice.
Shout out to the Biggers, the Kelly and the Norton families whose gorgeous corner of Ocean Park was filled with love, laughter, libations and music for all to enjoy before and after last week’s fireworks, a wonderful tradition.
I’m chagrined to hear so many comments from so many longtime homeowners about the closed up stores and movie theaters, numerous T-shirt shops and general shabbiness of many establishments on Circuit avenue. Perhaps we could make some collective effort for some global planning to obviate the obvious. The short answer is that businesses that do not own real estate are faced with steep rent increases when leases come up. Countering that, visitors are encouraged to buy more. The response is, all too often—there’s not much quality merchandise to buy. Note to the folks at town hall: time to update the website. The lifting of the boil water order was in June.
In last week’s coastal erosion story, Joan Hughes, chairman of the conservation commission, made a comment I hope none of us takes for granted, “Oak Bluffs has the advantage of being the only town on the Island where you can see water from one end of the town to the other.”
Hats off to whoever is (or was) providing the light show at the house on Beach Road just before Hooked. Very creative.
Tomorrow Vineyard men will take a stand against domestic and sexual violence by standing on the seawall near the drawbridge at Vineyard Haven. The event is sponsored by Connect to End Violence, part of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., committed guys will stand holding posters with the names of women they wish to honor. Join us — it’s another positive way to . . .
Keep your foot on a rock.