Postcards From The Hamptons
Finding the Real in a Surreal World; Plus a Cocktail Recipe!
I know. This is not the sort of headline you expect from The Mix. When we hit the open road, we tend to strike out for glamour spots like Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Binghamton. We like the old and seasoned, not the bright and shiny. We’re Rust Belt people.
But if you live in New York long enough, The Hamptons just kind of seep into the periphery of your life whether you like it or not. Particularly during the summer, when the area amounts to a sixth borough, because so many of the people that are usually here are out there.
I suppose I’ve been to The Hamptons a grand total of eight times over the past thirty years, always for a day or two. (I’ve been to the North Fork of Long Island more often.) The first time was shortly after I moved to New York in 1988 when I drove out with a couple friends on a summer’s day whim. I got there, looked around, thought “So, this is The Hamptons”; drove to the beach, looked around, thought, “So, that’s the Atlantic”; then drove home. I don’t think I bought anything; couldn’t afford it.
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The second time I was on assignment. I was writing a story for TheaterWeek magazine about the creation of Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater, which was founded by Sybil Christopher (aka, Richard Burton’s ex-wife) and Emma Walton (aka, Julie Andrews’ daughter). I remember liking Sag Harbor; it was less Hamptonsy than the other Hamptons. It was also a writers’ town. John Steinbeck, James Fenimore Cooper and Lanford Wilson had lived there. Later, my idol Spalding Gray would move there.
The third time, I went out thinking it would be a relaxing way to spend the weekend before I started a new job. That was a mistake. Hamptons traffic alone erases any sense of relaxation. The fourth time, I went out thinking it would be a good place to start work on my first book. That was also a mistake. I kept romanticizing The Hamptons and it kept blowing up in my face. Truthfully, I’ve never gotten the hang of the place or understood why people like it so much. But I keep going out from time to time, because of The Hamptons’ gravitational pull on the city during the summer remains strong.
My most recent visit was perhaps the most pleasant. I was invited to take part in a charity event benefitted Guild Hall, which is a longstanding cultural institution in East Hampton. I spoke about mezcal and tequila at Estia’s Little Kitchen, a lovely little Mexican restaurant near Sag Harbor that is open only for breakfast and lunch (I recommend it) and a lot of fine people came out in support. (Estia’s has one of the best restaurant slogan’s I’ve ever heard: “Tacos every day, but Tuesday.”)
Of course, as is our habit, Mary Kate and I got up to some other things while we were there…