Life in the big city; and big doings out in the country, too

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Toppled tulips. Photo: JH.

Monday, April 26, 2021. A nice, oft-times sunny weekend in New York with temps touching 70 on Saturday and dropping to the upper-50s to 60 yesterday. It now doesn’t get dark until almost 8 o’clock. The flowering trees along Park Avenue and throughout the Parks are dramatically beautiful as they shade the bowers of tulips (red and yellow).

I had dinner Saturday night with Shirley Rosenthal and Peter Heywood. At Sette Mezzo. With them the table conversation moves along and continues. I mentioned that it was actually Shakespeare’s birthday and Peter immediately remarked on how (one of) the current situations in our world today was dramatized in a scene from Henri IV. A moment of grim. 

I also learned from Peter and Shirley that last Wednesday’s Diary about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s fund-raising “Kickoff Celebration” — that they are personally involved in — got a good response ($$$) from Diary readers. With many thanks! 

Meanwhile, at table at Sette Mezzo, the room was full as were the tables outside (which included Hilary and Joe Califano getting out for the Sette treat). That grand total is five tables less than normally would be inside only. Social distancing.

The outdoor dining scene at Sette.

Meanwhile, a few blocks to the south, the eye of the NYSD, JH, and wife Danielle were dining at Le Bilboquet with Sylvester and Gillian Miniter. Also very busy. Along with the lively clatter of the conversations — a sound which this writer loves for the sake of it. Good for our mental health especially after months of isolating.

Meanwhile, the city is still relatively quiet. Many have grown used to it, but it is disturbing because the “energy” is the city’s ace.  You really notice it on the weekends when the avenues are often sparsely trafficked. Although, the neighborhoods, full of restaurants of all kinds, are busy and “normal.” But there are still lots of “New Yorkers” who skipped town months and months ago to avoid the vagaries of the pandemic (projected) in the city and haven’t returned. Pretty little quiet Palm Beach, from the sound of it, is “full-up” with new residents — part-time and otherwise. Night times, I’m told,  the streets around the restaurants (of which there are now several popular ones) are jammed with the maskless as well as the masks. Everyone is loving it. Same with Miami. And the West Coast of Florida, too.

Vanity Fair last week sent out an email on VF stories including one called “A Wave of Displaced New Yorkers” (“is upending the Hamptons Social Order”). Since I know a number of New Yorkers who have migrated Out East for the (personal) duration, I was curious.  Many have found that they prefer the quieter pace of “the country.” That’s not surprising

I read the article looking for something new about the situation. The “new” is that, according to VF, a lot of the locals aren’t fond of the supercilious and/or pretentious behavior of some characters of the “displaced.” (It’s the ladies of the multi-million dollar houses who tend to most annoy the locals who do business with them). It occurred to me that there are a lot of the “displaced” who probably aren’t particularly happy away from the hustle-bustle of city life, also. It is a habit and a hard one to shake for some of us.

It’s also true that the Hamptons “industry” is actually the city people who own property and/or rent big time for much of the year. And who spend in the quest of some (not all) for pleasure; generally for keeping themselves from their own flights to boredom. They are what is called the “leisure class.” Now. That is not all individuals who fit the bill but only few (as whew). But the lure of it goes with the same financial territory. 

The population of the Hamptons has grown enormously over the last three decades because of that aspect: the financials. And so have the prices and the wages of the service providers. Their clients often require more attention than usual, and are not exactly a day in the country, let alone a year round pain in the pratt (as my Ma used the term when she was annoyed).

Aside from little woe here and there, the article began and ended in the title. And left me thinking about the Hamptons I knew as a very young man looking to make a life as a grownup. Southampton still has families who are descended directly from those who first built houses and  were staying there during the duck hunting season in the late 19th century. In the 20th the Summer colony had grown and had a “religious” side to its popularity.

There were a number of Roman Catholics who presided in their own Society which included the Murrays, McDonnells and Fords. East Hampton had the WASPs as well as some RC’s. The nature of exclusion aka selection via religious beliefs was still very strong throughout all areas.

Family was the byword for the earlier “settlers.” Meaning they socialized with each other and “their own kind.” This was generally true of the world in America at that time. When the changes began in Southampton in the mid-1960s, real estate was by today’s standard, dirt cheap. I remember going to look at a very old house on the corner of South Main and Gin Lane; Victorian, two stories, four or five bedrooms, a half acre, and the beach just down the sandy path on the other side of the road: $35,000. Yes, and it needed work but: today that same restored house is a multimillion dollar property. It now has a life in the fast lane.

Meanwhile, Friday afternoon I was reading a website that I often peruse and was in the process of moving through the Comments when I came upon a couple of vid/screen shots: one of Brian Wilson and George Martin sitting at piano in Brian’s house, and the second with a title “George Martin – In My Life.”  These two videos were so far away from the “Comments,” but I knew who George Martin was although I knew very little about him, so just for the hell of it, I started watching it.  

One moment led to another and I watched it all in one moving, happy sitting. Because I could not turn it off! I was overcome by the pleasure of watching the activity of this amazing man, a Big man, a smart man and a genius. It changed my day, then and there. I felt GRATEFUL to have sat there and taken it all in.  So, if  it should even VAGUELY make you curious, try it on and see if it fits:

Watch in order …

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