Excerpt from Dandelion War - Chapter 7

...Then one sultry Sunday morning last September, with the striped bass running thick and the surf rolling in on long, symmetrical waves, Bass Inlet blew up in Peggy's face.
A few days before, the Eastcogue Animal Saviors League had succeeded in persuading her to revoke a circus permit on the basis of its cruelty to elephants. Heady with victory, they would now save the striped bass.
Here's what I pieced together from TV and police reports, and from Katonah, who, at the time was up on the cliff above the beach, holding a chakra-awareness workshop for members of the Eastcogue chapter of Cell Phone Abusers Anonymous.
Shortly after noon, about 50 marchers massed at the top of the road singing "We Shall Overcome" in the steadfast but creaky voices of eons of true believers who have raised high their chins in defiance of the multitudes who mock them. Then, accompanied by local and network TV crews they had alerted, they marched down the road, bearing placards depicting children frolicking in the sea with happy fish and of a little whale snatching a gigantic Captain Ahab as he was about to harpoon a striped bass. Marchers were holding and hugging their household pets. A man carried a birdcage with a canary and parrot, their chirps and chatter happily coexisting within.
At the edge of the beach, they formed a phalanx and started walking very slowly towards the water now signing their won lyrics to the tune of God Loves the Little Children...
They looked so venerable, so harmless that the crowd on the beach made way for them without noting that several were wearing hip high watertight boots. Within seconds the bot wearers were flashing and stumbling through the surf, snipping fishing lines with shears they had concealed under their clothing.
As the surfcasters stared into the water dumbstruck, a marcher's two cats lept free and unseen on to a record breaking 56 pound striped bass that an old Coguer had just reeled in, weighed, and gently placed, with unbounded pride, in an ice filled cooler.
With all the goings on, the cats had a tidy little snack and were contentedly ambling away, spitting scales into the sand before the old Coguer, a Marine veteran of Guadalcanal, noticed. He let out a banzai scream, charged into his van, gunned his engine and roared off to run them down. The cats pranced aside. The van sped past them and over a $1300 Zoel Cuvor custom Plexiglas long-board, which under the speed and weight of the vehicle cracked in two and arced skyward, twirling and whirling, up, up and up, as if sucked into a tornado funnel, and then, reaching its peak, plummeted back down dead center onto a $500 bottle of 1973 Dom Perignon Oenotheque as it was being uncorked by some bi-coastal media folks who were about to have a simple little picnic by the sea.
The picnickers blamed the surfer and chased him. The surfer was faster. A picnicker fearful of losing her prey hurled her cell phone at him. The phone roared past his head and obliterated an expensive model of an off shore windmill that a wind power advocate, having heard of the potential presence of TV crews, had hopefully set up on the beach and was demonstrating to a group consisting mostly of nude sun bathers who, in rising numbers, were also availing themselves of Peggy's no-police policy.
Meanwhile, a contingent of surfcasters charged into the surf, ready to do battle, only to find that the strategists of the Eastcogue Animal Saviors League, in a brilliant move, had assigned the line snipping mission only to women, all of senior citizen ilk, the eldest being 96. Though they were in fine condition from their nature trail walks and organic vegetarian diets, old ladies were not appropriate targets for mayhem, no matter how justified. Indeed, when one of them tripped and fell it was a surfcaster, who turned out to be her nephew, who gently lifted her from the water and escorted her back to shore.
His gesture had a calming effect. No one was hurt, including the cats. No actual blows were struck and property damage was light, though the champagne and surfboard were both top of the line. The consensus around town is that were it not for Katonah's cell phone abusers workshop, everything would have simmered down and Peggy's anyone-can-drive-in policy remained in effect.
However at that moment, Katonah's event was approaching its climax -"The Renunciation." All workshop attendees had made their one last call, pledged abstinence, petted and thanked their phones for their loyal service and placed them in a large slingshot. As Katonah's raspy old tape deck played a Tibetan chant, to abate the renunciators' feelings of separation anxiety, the phones were lofted to the sea, where they plopped amidst the surfcasters and fishing line snippers who were still in the water. Feeling themselves under attack, they reinvigorated their thrashing and shouting. People on shore, convinced a riot had erupted, resorted to their cell phones to summon help. There were lots of cell phones on the beach. Even the nude sunbathers had them. Cell phones were also on the cliff, among a group of high school kids who were doing pot and beer in a old gun emplacement.
And, alas, many of the addict renunciators in Katonah's workshop had spare phones stashed in their clothes and knapsacks. So, in what must be one of history's supreme examples of unintended consequences, the renunciators brought forth their secreted backups to call for help to quell the apparent violence their discarded phones had provoked.
Police records indicate that 76 calls for emergency help were made during a period of 10 minutes. Before the last call was placed, help started to appear and soon the State Highway Patrol, the Eastcogue Town Parks and Animal Control Departments, the State Department of Conservation, the State Park Police, the County Sheriff, the Eastcogue Town Harbors and Bay Marshall, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Preservation Commission, the State Marine Mammal and Stranded Sea Turtle Commission and last and definitely least in the pecking order of local law enforcement, the "Trustees of the Freeholders and Commonality of the Town of Eastcogue" -almost everyone with a badge in or near the town, except Peggy's Town Police, was careening down the road and crowding into a scene that miraculously had enough space left to accommodate them, as a Coast Guard helicopter appeared overhead and rescued a perfectly safe surfer who waved his longboard triumphantly as he was lofted into the plane.


Marcus Sudsky's Castle, Eastcogue, New York
Gus Sonalag lives “north of the highway” (The other side of the tracks) in Eastcogue, the eastern seaboard’s Mecca for the mega-rich. Though nearly impoverished and on the cusp of his 75th birthday, he has a good life – a low rent house in lush woods near a beach; a girlfriend who likes to make love on the dunes; a best friend who is a street-smart émigré from New York City; two devoted Shepherd/Retrievers who flunked out of service dog school for being incorrigibly playful, and a part time job he values, town advocate for seniors and people

with disabilities. But Gus and hundreds of other seniors face homelessness from the effect of their hot town’s real estate boom. Failing to get affordable housing via legitimate means, Gus and his friends set out to blackmail Jason Chumley, a movie star who is a shoo-in for best actor academy Award, and Marcus Sudsky, a billionaire devotee of tough love, women’s basketball and notorious works of art. The heroes decide that both men are vulnerable to humiliation and conceive ingenious schemes to extract the $5 million they need for a new housing project by setting them up as fools and hypocrites.

Ferociously blocking their way is Gus’ boss, Peggy King, the combustible, celebrity-groupie Supervisor of the Town of Eastcogue, who feels affordable housing is incompatible with her town’s patina of graciousness and tranquility. The battle is joined when King, along with the US Department of Housing & Urban Development, orders the eradication of the dandelions in the one low-income housing complex Eastcogue’s seniors do have. To King and HUD, the dandelion is a lowly, noxious weed, an unruly threat to the Town’s golf courses and ornamental gardens. To the seniors, it is a beautiful, life-extending, wild vegetable that staved off starvation during the great depression and embodies their determination to thrive in the face of the politicians, billionaires and celebrities who dismiss them.

The Dandelion War is hilarious, optimistic and timely with a sense of place, humor, bureaucratic folly and touches of outrageousness reminiscent of the films of Frank Capra. It revisits a long-neglected American tenet – that common people have value and the grit to overcome powerful foes.

In many respects,the town of East Hampton is also a character in the novel – its glitz, beauty, rudeness, conspicuously invisible labor force and conflicted year-round residents who simultaneously covet and despise its in-your-face opulence.

The Dandelion War is available from Amazon.com, Bookhampton, East Hampton and Southampton or from the author at rrosenth@optonline.net.


"A thoroughly satirized version of our beautiful, over-the-top …. East Hampton. A bold narrative, sharp with detail and laced with sincerity of the cleanest stripe.”
-- Evan Harris, The East Hampton Star

“A terrific book. The satire is hilarious. Rosenthal is a primo unknown talent.”
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“Lovable losers, venal villains, a Hamptons you’ve never visited. If only the real thing were this much fun…”
--James Brady, author of Further Lane

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--Joan Baum, “The (East Hampton) Independent"

“At the age of 77, (Rosenthal) realized that the work he was doing (for the Town government) was perfect fodder for a satirical novel about the hypocrisies and absurdities of the housing crisis in East Hampton. ‘There are thousands of homes empty nine months a year,’ said Rosenthal, ‘and hundreds if not thousands of people are homeless. . . . It is unjust and it is absurd.’”

--Beth Young, The Sag Harbor Express

“For a gutsy director, there’s a good movie here, in part because of Rosenthal’s talent for uproarious action scenes. One such is when a half-dozen different groups converge on a beach all at once and create a physical and ideological hurricane of hilarity showing political correctness at its most absurd.”

--Diane Moriarty, ABLE,

"Rosenthal has created a work bursting with relevance and tenderness.There are sweet moments so filled with love and tenderness you will long remember the feelings these emotions inspire."
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"A page turner of the first order about the extraordinary lives of ordinary people with very credible accounts of hell raising (and good sex) from an experienced troublemaker like Rosenthal."

--Charlie King, song writer and singer

by "Allen Richards", a pseudonym

"A rewarding first novel ... forceful and vivid."
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