07/05/19 8:00am

Jeffrey Sussman will discuss his latest book, ‘Boxing and the Mob: The Notorious History of the Sweet Science,’ at the next Friday Night Dialogues.

Here comes a big one-two punch. But this is a one-two punch to be enjoyed by all, since it’s coming from Jeffrey Sussman, described in the Huffington Post as “the strongest boxing author alive.”


08/02/13 5:00pm


It wasn’t long after we moved in when Mary noticed the miniature video cameras attached to trees on our neighbor’s side of the fence.

This was a few years ago when we lived in a cottage near Westhampton before we moved to the Island.

There were two of the little video cameras, aimed at spots along our gravel drive way, which snaked about 50 yards from a sleepy road to our little house under the trees. Our neighbor’s house, set on the road, was shielded from us by that 10-foot-high fence and a stand of bamboo 20 feet high. Noticing the cameras was a bit of a shock.

We’d already noticed the dog.

The brute didn’t howl but did something beyond howling, something wrenched from his unholy depths. He was enormous, white, one of those Arctic breeds, but this boy wouldn’t be caught dead pulling a sled. No, he was the one the Innuit sic on the polar bear. I mean he was big.

If he was patrolling the semi-hidden backyard — a pool, pool house, basketball court, sprawling patios — and I took the garbage out, he started his thundering one-way conversation: “I hear you. I’m on duty. I’m a big dog. Big dog, big dog, big dog.”

I considered strychnine-laced burgers tossed through the bamboo, until I realized the wolf in wolf’s clothing was inside the house most of the time, and after raising his alarms, he quickly shut up.

When we first moved in on a snowy February day, we both thought the only downside would be the Klondike Demon briefly but piercingly reminding us that if we were nuts enough to climb the fence he’d make short work of us.

If that was the only problem with our paranoid neighbors, we’d be fine. But then, thinking about the coming summer evenings in our garden, we looked at each other and said at the same time: “Parties.”

With that amusement park layout next door, it could be a sleepless summer. “Imagine,” Mary said wearily, “what kind of sound system they have.”

We decided the only thing to do was make nice and they’d invite us over for the all-night swim/dance bacchanals. But even though they had all that outdoor Great Gatsby party space there was never a sound.

Once every three months or so they had guests over.

Very, very quiet guests.

I met the neighbors once. Sort of. One afternoon we lost power. To find out if LIPA had just picked on us or if  everybody was included, I walked down the driveway — past the little cameras ­— across the lawn and up on their porch.

After knocking several times, I was about to leave, when the door opened halfway, revealing a slight, middle-aged woman. I introduced myself as her neighbor, hand out to shake, which she didn’t seem to notice. (Or she had her hands full with one on the doorknob and the other hand, shielded by the door, clutching a Glock.) No issues with power she said, since if LIPA failed they had their own generator that automatically kicked in.

I looked past her and saw a man down a shadowy hall holding a choke chain around the neck of the Alaskan Assassin, growling, quivering with rage.

Who were they? Who knows?

I thanked her for her time and walked off the porch. She’d been pleasant, barely.

I once worked with a guy who had the same ideas as our neighbors, if a bit down market, who said, “I got a really big fence, a really big dog and a really big gun.”

Swaggering, a homesteader taking care of his own. This cowboy wasn’t from South Dakota, but Southold.

Oh, for the days, old timers say, when you never had to lock your doors. That would be now, if you accept some truth. Serious crimes outside big cities are lower in the U.S. than they’ve been in 20 years, and crimes against property are down everywhere according to the FBI.

But we’re putting our money where our myths are. National polls consistently find Americans believe crime is spiraling out of control, and according to Dallas-based Park Associates, a market research outfit specializing in technology, we’re paying $10 billion annually for household security. That’s slated to rise 30 percent over the next several years.

Good fences make good neighbors, Robert Frost wrote. But we discovered living in the cottage that no fence is completely neighbor-proof.

One summer day Mary went into the kitchen and saw the neighbor’s insane dog on the back porch looking through the screen door. When he saw her he rose up, playfully putting his front paws on the door, a puppy nodding his head, wagging his tail.

He then bounced away to the back and stood, looking silently at some landscapers in the distance, until the neighbor lady stormed into the yard with the chain and led him away.

He was looking over his shoulder as he was dragged away at Mary standing on the porch.

“I felt so sorry for him,” she said. “I wanted to wave.”