Sunday night, after dark, as I write this, the air outside my terrace door is thick with heat. The weather forecasters are predicting the thermometer will hit 100 the first couple of days of this week. Even if you don’t subscribe to theories about global warming, it inevitably comes to mind. Although I do recall other times many years ago when it was very very hot in summertime.
I was in the Hamptons this weekend with JH and the Digital to have a look at the social elements in that neck of the woods. We put up, dogs and all, in the guesthouse of interior designers John Barman and Kelly Graham. That night we went to dinner at Pierre’s, a French restaurant (owned by Pierre) in the center of Bridgehampton. The place was packed. They were celebrating Bastille Day and the entire waitstaff was dressed in 18th century costume. Although not everyone on the staff looked like they were into it. At one point someone turned on La Marseillaise full blast, sung by a contralto and there was a very short rush of francophilia that flew amongst the tables. One of the customers tried to get everyone in the restaurant to stand up for it. In Bridgehampton, Long Island on a Friday night? Uh-uh.
We stopped en route at Schmidt’s, the foodstore in Southampton.
It’s one of those markets where even the things you don’t like look good. It’s take-out and sandwich and salads section is my favorite.
The Mexican Roller – turket, salso, guacamole, shredded lettuce, tomato and cheese in a wrap.
The rides either on the back roads or on 27 all the way to East Hampton, are full of beauty and history. A deer about to bound into the waves of grain.
Barman and Graham live just a few hundred yards down the road from the beach in Sagaponack. Late Friday afternoon we took the dogs down there (they’re allowed before nine and after six) for a walk in the sand. Mine have never been on the beach, let alone had an ocean wave wash up against their legs. They’re such city dogs at this point they seemed to be wondering what the hell this was all for. Although it’s always nice to be with Dave.
Graham and Barman with Buster on their back terrace.
Hauling it in for the day.
The moon with its craters looms large on Friday night.
Walking down Main Street in East Hampton on Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning we took a trip over to East Hampton where two of our advertisers, Pamela Ferrari and the Monogram Shop have establishments. East Hampton is a typical busy, bustling summer resort town on a Saturday morning. Breakfast and ice cream cones are in the air. People reading the papers on the roadside benches. Shorts and flip-flops.
Pamela Ferrari’s little shop is at the end of a small brick paved alley. We’d never met Ms. Ferrari before and didn’t know much about her except for her business visible in the ad. You can see that she’s a very pretty blonde woman, sort of Swedish looking. On meeting she’s a very friendly woman and within minutes we learned that she is also a very enterprising and creative woman. And an artist: Pamela is a painter and her store features her original prints.
Born and brought up in Buffalo, she was one of seven children. Her father was a sculptor and painter. When she was 9 years old, her father took the family to Rome where he had a studio. Today two of her brothers are sculptors.
She was married for thirty years to an Italian Luciano Ferrari, who had a buying office for Italy’s top department and specialty stores, and with whom she had a son and a daughter, and lived in Firenze where she still keeps a house. It was there that Pamela developed a line of sweaters with her prints for Galeries Lafayette and Printemps, and it was there that she began her career painting and designing fabrics which are inspired by her art work. Think Pucci. After Mr. Ferrari died in 2002, she decided to use her textile designs to create a ready-to-wear collection.
During a trunk show in Palm Beach, Mrs. Ferrari met Jarvis Slade, also a widower. They married and Pamela moved back to New York and East Hampton where Mr. Slade has had a house for years.
The Slade house has some touches of the artist/mistress of the house, such as the handpainted walls of the dining room and the library. It is one of those lovely old houses, mainly untouched by time. Over the fireplace in the library is an American flag (above, right) that was flown by Mr. Slade’s great-grandfather on 14th Street on the day of Lincoln’s Funeral. Richard Hoe was an American inventor who was in the business of manufacturing printing presses. He revolutionized printing in the 19th century with his Hoe rotary or “Lightning” press, patented in 1846. Mr. Hoe was also one of the founders of the Metropolitan Museum.
Pamela sitting underneath a painting by her father, Larry Griffis.
Clockwise from above: The family's 13-year-old Bull Mastiff retreats from the converted barn; One of the first swimming pools in East Hampton.
Above, l. to r.: A view from the library towards the dining room and living room; Dog and duck door jams.
Left: Pamela's studio in the converted garage.
After we left Pamela Ferrari we went one shop down to The Monogram Shop where we were planning on getting a couple of shots and a few words with its owner Valerie Smith. Valerie has had the Monogram Shop for some time now. She does business on the internet too. I met her several years ago at a dinner in East Hampton she talked about her business. I’ve never been interested in monograms but for some reason after our discussion I was fascinated. I still don’t have anything monogrammed, and at the rate I attend to things like that, I probably never will. But I’m in the minority in a lot of groups. Valerie Smith, however, was not in the shop on Saturday because she was in Atlanta for the weekend. Her mother and a friend were running things and the place was filled with shoppers. It’s one of those small but quaintly alluring shops in a resort town that feels like a beach morning.
Inside and outside The Monogram Shop.
On Saturday afternoon I went to Elizabeth Fondaras’ annual Bastille Day luncheon in East Hampton. Mrs. Fondaras fell in love with Paris at a very young age and has since maintained a grande passion for France all her life. Furthermore she’s expressed that passion by working hard for French and American relations as well as philanthropies. She’s also kept an apartment in Paris for the past six decades (she celebrated her 90th a few months ago). Her Bastille Day luncheon in East Hampton has been a big draw for almost as many decades. And the buffet is home cooked and delicious.
There must have been about sixty. Mrs. Fondaras has always attracted a wide array of people from society grandes dames to tycoons to artists, writers, sculptors and just plain old friends. In their day Irwin Shaw and James Jones were in attendance, very happy to be a guest of this gracious lady. The luncheon was called for one although they were still arriving at two. People got their plates about 2:30-2:45, and found chairs and the conversations amongst newcomers and old friends began.
Liz Fondaras and Jean Harvey Vanderbilt
Marit Gruson and Jill Krementz
Geoffrey Thomas and Sharon Sondes
Billy Rayner, Wendy Vanderbilt, and David Mortimer
Kathy Rayner and Kristi Witker
Frances Hayward and Shelley Mortimer
Clockwise from above: The Eiffel Tower decor; Wendy Vanderbilt and Judy Auchincloss holding court; Vive les blueberries, marshmallows, and raspberries.
The luncheon decor
Ellen Scarborough and Nancy Holmes
Elizabeth de Cuevas and friend
Liberte and Egalitate
A Fondaras centerpiece
Walking through and relaxing in the Fondaras living room
Joan Hardy Clark
Exiting the luncheon
Jill Krementz, the photographer, (her photojournals have been featured on these pages), was there and we gave her a ride home since she and Kurt Vonnegut live less than a half mile down the road from where we were staying. The Krementz/Vonnegut residence is a 1740 three story house with barn and pool. Jill invited us in for some excellent (slightly tart) fresh lemonade and was kind enough to satisfy our curiosity and give us a tour of her beautiful old house full of the creative marks and works of her and her husband and their many creative friends.
Jill Krementz and Kurt Vonnegut's 1740s Sagaponack house.
Jill in the backyard with Flower.
They made some architectural changes in the interior when they bought it, opening the rooms up a bit. However, the original fireplaces are still there, as is most of the paneling and the doors, the beams and many of the fixtures.
Clockwise from above: Norris Mailer's portrait of her father-in-law, Norman Mailer's father, on the beach in Provincetown; A painting hanging on the wall over the second landing; One of three guest bedrooms.
Two bedrooms. Jill's antique quilt collection (right).
Kurt Vonnegut's work station.
A peek inside side the barn which is located in the back of the property.
Krementz and Vonnegut have been very much a part of the literary/artistic community of New York and the East End for decades and it’s fair to say they know very many if not most of the principals in the players in media and publishing industry, as well as the performing arts. Theirs is an established artist’s life, and characterized by the continuing interest and realistic perspective of the world around them and around us.
Saturday evening it was a visit to the Hampton Designer Showhouse benefiting the Southampton Hosptial, as well as Robert Wilson’s Water Mill Center annual fundraising benefit. We left Water Mill just as the hundreds were taking their seats for dinner, and drove out to Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton where Harry and Laura Slatkin were giving a dinner for Alex Papachristidis, the interior designer who has an installation in the Showhouse. They were also celebrating the 23rd anniversary of Alex’s sister and brother-in-law, Ophelia and Bill Rudin.
Entering Robert Wilson’s Water Mill Center annual fundraising benefit on Saturday night.
Maybe it was the fondness of absence, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Hamptons more beautiful in all the years I’ve visited. It was very green. The fields of vineyards and the fields of corn and vegetables that run along so much of the roadside from Southampton due east were knee-high and fecund. Lots of roadside stands on the edge of farmland were selling fresh strawberries, cantaloupe and raspberries which seem to be more popular than ever. Lots of sunflowers and hydrangeas festooning white and indigo blue blooming everywhere, and also as cut flowers at the stands.
East of Southampton the fields get wider and the horizon is often interspersed with the rooftops and chimneys and tops of weathered-shingled houses. The traffic along 27 is heavier than ever, and there are many more houses that have sprouted up amonsgst the fields, or so it seems, than just two or three years ago. And they are enormous, two or three stories, mostly shingled and porched and verandahed, like stretched and slightly flattened Victorian arks.
The Show House this year was in one of these elaborate, brand new houses. You could call them mansions. I couldn’t help imagining how comfortable it would be to live so laid-back grandly. Lucky I don’t dwell on a foolish fancy. The Show House had a Jacuzzi beside the pool that looked bigger than some swimming pools I’ve seen. I thought it was the kiddie pool when I first laid eyes on it but soon realized it’s for the bigger kiddies.
In the distance several hundred yards away to the south and to the north were equally as large woodframe weekend (presumably) residences abuilding. With equally large Jacuzzis, no doubt.
Laura and Harry Slatkin's candlelit dinner for Alex Papachristidis in East Hampton.
There were big crowds everywhere we went. On Saturday night there were hundreds at Water Mill and at the Show House. At the Slatkin party there were 150, I was told, although for some reason the grounds of their property accommodated the crowd so effortlessly that it seemed like a small party.
All of that running from one party and location to another, and another, is characteristic of Hamptons summer weekend living. Not for everyone, of course, but for a lot of the social people and the younger set. Even the most peripatetic eventually tire of and withdraw, but there are always new faces of all ages with fresh enthusiasm and agendas and well fixed for the ride to take their places and keep the wheels turning. It’s Manhattan Out East. We’re creatures of habit.
Sunday morning I went over to the American Hotel in Sag Harbor where Steven Gaines broadcasts every Sunday morning on WLIU. Steven, author of such bestselling nonfiction such as “Philistines At the Hedgerow,” biographies of Halston, Calvin Klein, the Beatles (with Peter Brown), Dylan, and the Beach Boys, among others conductds this broadcast interview show every week.
I was surprised to learn what a pro he is at the mike. It will be only a matter of time before he’s going to have a wider audience. Nothing escapes his notice or candor although he’s not interested in picking a fight. It’s all conducted from a table just inside the front door of the hotel’s bar and restaurant. The American Hotel, if you didn’t know, is old and funky and as cool and hip as you’re ever gonna get in the company of actors and authors and artists and such. Steven Gaines’ style complements it nicely.
Among the guests on the hour were former Manhattan borough president and President of the American Jewish World Services Ruth Messenger. She talked about the genocide in Darfur and the Sudan. Her message was informative and sobering but I’ve got to take some time in another Diary. Also on the roster was Gael Greene, the food critic/author/founder of CityMeals on Wheels with the late James Beard. Her new book: “Insatiable: Tales From a Life of Delicious Excess” is a memoir. Which I learned during the broadcast -- not having read the book yet -- included Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Elvis (yes, Elvis, when she was very young (and so was he) in Detroit). As she was leaving the hotel room afterwards, the Pelvis, still in the sack, asked her if she’d get them to send him up a fried egg sandwich. She was happy to, of course. Food, always food, figured in the life of Ms. Greene’s libido. It seems like life might just be much easier that way. And more delicious.
Gael Greene and I have even been introduced a couple of times at her Citymeals fundraising lunches, but I had no idea of her epicurean wit and generous sense of humor. She must have best friends. During my segment on the show we talked briefly about “society” today. Is there? Isn’t there? Yes. No. Yes. No. Don’t forget to take your vitamins.
It was over before it started, it seemed. From there it was over to a health food breakfast place where I had a big fat, precisely wrapped scrambled egg burrito with salsa, onions and melted Monterey Jack. From there we were Manhattan bound. Traffic in not so bad; a pleasant surprise.
It was a pleasant weekend although I can remember other times when so much gallivanting had a more frenetic energy to it. The weather was beautiful– very warm and sunny in the daytime and cooler at night with its starry starry sky. It was nice to see many familiar and smiling faces, bright and blushed by the sun. The events were beautifully done. Although…although…there was something in the air. Maybe it’s me and this sometimes treadmill schedule we keep. Maybe it was the houses getting too big or the beautiful rolling fields of corn or grapes. Or all the beauty and abundance and peace and quiet around and about us. Or maybe it was the world of Hamas and Hezbollah, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, halfway cross the planet from here, where the heat of the air is blowing the winds of war. What do we really want? What do we really need?
Part II of our Hamptons Weekend coming tomorrow ...