The summertime exodus is upon us. The Hamptons are overflowing with mouth-frothing groupies looking for celebrities, and the Long Island Expressway is ringing with the hissy fits of enraged drivers stuck in traffic for hours on end. One reason I gave up a beautiful estate in Southampton L.I. was the inability to get there before a lady who had initially said yes changed her mind because of the fatigue and boredom of sitting in a car watching other stationary cars.
The Hamptons have become an artistic pit stop for the summer. The nouveaux riches need art as badly as #MeToo needs sexual predators; it justifies their grandstanding. A feverish peak is reached some time in July — when the mosquito invasion is at its height — with woods and gardens taken over by artist installations, and performances range from the freakish to the horrible. Here’s an example or two of the rare and great art that was exhibited last year alone: a man feigning terror while trapped in a tank of water; a disrobed woman submerged in a trough of molasses; two females relieving themselves on a — yes, you guessed it — man. Thank god Edward Hopper is no longer with us. He would have died of envy, as would that other great, Norman Rockwell.
Yes sir, the Hamptons are worth visiting not only for the art, but also for the cast of high fliers of Wall Street, whose names I cannot mention in the elegant pages of The Spectator, such is the stench that emanates from some of them. I was up there for Memorial weekend and stayed at my fraternity house — actually, it’s a club and a perfect place to see people who are not into the art I just mentioned. For some strange reason we did not talk about bentwood chairs on tubular copper bases or carved-wood ancestral figures from Africa, apparently the latest craze among the artsy-fartsy crowd.
Once upon a time the Hamptons were a magical place, like Scott Fitzgerald’s French Riviera, a place where beauty, wealth and birth ruled the roost. The light was the special kind, and it drew those artists, now extinct, who painted on canvases and can actually draw an apple if needs be. Just like in the south of France, it was too good to last. The ignorant, the base, the vulgar and the newly rich arrived with a vengeance and bought up the potato fields. They put up mansions the Hilton family would find ‘de trop’. Many of these new arrivals were stupendously successful in business but otherwise talent-free, their epigrammatic wit limited to two words: ‘how much?’.
Mind you, the Hamptons are not as bad as the south of France because the oligarchs and the Saudis have kept away. Nor do they have the same level of crime as the Riviera, because the local police, who are mostly Polish, are not overly concerned with the human rights of drunks behind the wheel or slobs who spit on the sidewalk. This is the good news. The bad is that every nouveau riche in the Bagel wants to spend their summers in the Hamptons. The vulgar ones used to go to the Catskills, now they want to live in South Main Street, near Taki, who vacated the place 20 years ago. (Yet another catastrophic mistake on my part. Now I look out at cows and have to mix with Geneva conmen.)
Then again, I would have moved to Germany long ago if it weren’t for that plebeian functionary Merkel, who has turned the country over to refugees from Libya, Lebanon, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan and all points south. Baden-Baden was a beautiful resort when I was young and played in the tennis tournament in the city every September. You also got lucky there — and I don’t mean winning let cords. Last time I was there the people were badly dressed — socks and sandals — and the women old and virtuous. Poor little Greek boy, what is to become of me?
I should build another Bushido, but women refuse to be picked up by me because of my age, and I don’t like pros, either in sport or in the sack. I used to, but not any more. And Madame Claude, who had the best girls, is also long gone. A boat is only good for picking up women. Otherwise you just put on weight, drink too much, sit too much, get too much sun. Poor little Taki; as that fat prick Sartre said, hell is other people, who murmur, gasp, paw and grasp, and talk too loudly in public places.
Last week I dined with Michael Mailer and Thomas Pompidou, and two more couples, and the decibel level was so high that we actually ordered in sign language. Our waiter was gay and extremely nice but took a shine to Michael and made goo-goo eyes at him all evening. I wanted to discuss politics with Pompidou but never got the chance. It was just too noisy. Reflective surfaces like mirrors or glass cause sound to reflect just as they do light. And Noo Yawkers are already among the loudest in the world. Dining out has become a health hazard and causes certain hearing loss. Poor little me, where will it all end?
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