Sunday, August 26, 2007

Visiting Martha's Vineyard

I had a wonderful time on Martha’s Vineyard in Oak Bluffs (although it was cold and windy for most of the week). Chronicling this adventure will take several postings so stay tuned ladies and gentleman.

I decided not to drive – opting for Amtrak and the Vineyard Fast Ferry from Quonset Point, Rhode Island instead. I really enjoyed this way much better. The commute can be ‘tear your hair’ out traffic towards Connecticut from New York as you race into Woods Hole, MA praying that you can catch the ferry over to the Island on time.

By taking Amtrak & the ferry, I could sleep and read while relaxing since I took this trip solo.

Once on the island, I skipped up and down the familiar streets of Circuit & Kennebec Avenues, walked around Ocean Park, and enjoyed the harbor.

Then, I started bumping into several people I knew from my hometown, tons of my sorors, Sister Links, Deltas, Alphas, Ques, Boule members, and other fab Black socialites. And of course, the invitations to “house hop” soon followed.

I literally could have dine at a different home three times a day everyday if I elected to do so - as one of the great Black traditions of the Vineyard are the parties held at all times of the day and evening. Part of this tradition stems from a history of discrimination where Blacks were often not welcome at certain Island eatery and inns.

Now don’t misunderstand me - it was really nice to receive all of the invites and I appreciated every last one of them. I did attend a few gatherings. But honestly, I really went to decompress a little bit before the fall ramps up.

Plus, think of all of the ‘costume changes’ multiple parties would have required. I would have to take LOADS of luggage and frankly, I wasn’t in the mood for lugging if you know what I mean.

So instead, I caught up on some sleep, did a bit of shopping, talked to my real Mom a few times on my mobile phone, and caught up with a few of my adopted Socialite Diva Mamas.

I had an opportunity to enjoy a fabulous lobster roll (which is fresh lobster meat mixed with celery and mayonnaise served on a toasted hot dog bun) at the Island House Restaurant. My meal was dished up perfectly by a very handsome, charming, blue eyed muscular waiter.

Later, I popped into cute apothecary (RougeLuxe) that recently opened up on Kennebec Avenue. You can now lather yourself in Bliss, Mario Badescu, Mistral, Kiehl’s products until heart’s content versus having to bring scores of products with you from home. The shop owner Kathryn Magistrini (a perky redhead with a bubbly personality) turned me onto my latest obsession – mini scented candles from Red Flower.

The big chatter on the Island was Senator Hillary Clinton’s arrival later in the week. She was doing a series of fundraisers ranging from $50 to tens of thousands at various homes and venues. I saw Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton near Circuit Avenue and we gave each other a quick wave as we headed in opposite directions.

I kicked myself for procrastinating on RSVP-ing for great reading and book signing by Dr. Kenneth Edelin, sponsored by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS). He is the author of Broken Justice: A True Story of Race, Sex, and Revenge in a Boston Courtroom that chronicles his experiences as Black OB/GYN who was taken to court in the early 70s for performing abortions. A vocal advocate of women’s rights, Dr. Edelin was the speaker at several events on the island last week.

OK, now for the color commentary.

I am so disappointed in the low number of Black owned businesses on the Island. There may be four in total including the only Black owned restaurant in Chilmark - which is a good 30-40 minute drive from Oak Bluffs. It’s kinda heartbreaking because Black folks have been vacationing on the Vineyard for years.

It was delightful that Cousen Rose’s Gallery is still hanging in there after almost thirty years in business. She sells ‘sisters and brothers on the bluffs’ t-shirts along with art, music, and books. She also hosts fabulous showings and author events.

Also, the famous ‘Inkwell’ beach (immortalized in books and films) is a hot mess! Rocky, dirty, and full of shells – it is a far cry from some of the other well maintained beaches on the Islands. There is a petition circulating to ask the township to help restore the beach but truthfully, some of this is personal responsibility as well. Folks need to stop being tacky and pick up their trash when they leave.

It’s funny to me that no matter how sophisticated we try to appear, we seem to lack pride in taking care of our history.

If we don’t operate like we care, who will?