August 18, 2010 | Talk of the Town
East End locals have coined a terrific term to describe city sophisticates like us who risk life and limb to flock to Surf Club, parking at the side of a busy road in Montauk to booze it up on a Saturday night: “citiots.”
Well, Dispatches never felt more like a citiot than when I stood outside of Dave’s Grill on Sunday speed dialing for a reservation in hopes of trying the lobster roll. A sign indicates that the reservation line opens at 4:15 PM, but the woman in charge didn’t arrive until 4:30 PM. We stood next to a tony couple from Amagansett who had been screwed over at The Palm the night before. They had a 9:30 PM reservation and were still waiting for their table at 10:30 PM while others allegedly palmed the maître d’ cash and walked in off the street. When the couple inquired, they were told that their reservation had been lost (they’d obviously rubbed someone the wrong way). Then one of their guests pulled a Steven Slater-esque maneuver by grabbing the reservation book, finding their name and ripping the book in two.
Why come back for more harsh treatment from another overheated restaurant the next night? It is Nietzsche’s masters and slaves. Locals seem to relish treating uptight Manhattan types like the latter.
But back to Dispatches. When we finally got through to Dave’s, we were offered 5:30 PM or 9:30 PM. We arrived to the table at 5:30 PM on the dot. Unfortunately, Dave claimed he forgot to order the meat for his famous $34 lobster roll. So my 12-year old son, Finbarr, and I both ordered the baked stuffed lobster, one of the artery-clogging ho-hum meals of my youth. The dish left one question: if they filled the lobster shell with so many scallops and shrimp, where did the rest of the lobster meat go and why couldn’t they make a freakin’ lobster-salad sandwich out of it? The bill for four required scientific notation. Call me a citiot, but the whole time I ate I wanted to run down to Gosman’s and pick up a darned lobster roll.
Montauk is under siege. The town has considered trying to sell off Second House, the first historic site that one encounters on the way into the town. And locals were assured that the 7-Eleven that chair John P. Lycke and his planning board “accidentally” approved would put up signage under a different name. But orange 7-Eleven decals blaze from the windows. I fumed when I took out a Hobie Cat on a breezy afternoon and viewed the hideously shaped convenience store with its windows facing the water all the way to the dock on Fort Pond.
Julianne Moore, a local Montauk resident, and I spent part of our youths on an idyllic lake in Virginia. Believe me, there were intractable zoning laws that would never in a million years have allowed a 7-Eleven to spoil the views. My father was on the zoning board of our Virginia hamlet for years. He was aghast that a local real estate broker would be allowed to head a planning board.
Oddly enough, Lycke has also done his best to try to allow a convenience store near my house on North Main Street in East Hampton. I had to put a top lawyer on retainer to halt the project. Apparently his building inspector screwed the pooch when he wrote the note to upgrade zoning at the site. He wrote that note months before the request. Huh? He also failed Zoning 101 when he wrote about characteristics of the structure itself and attempted to apply laws meant only for the use of a structure. Lycke himself wrote that one could ignore a statute that no convenience store could be within so few feet of a fueling station. He quoted paperwork that referred to the fueling station as a gas station. And we’re the citiots? This is a Republican trying to apply Clinton sex logic to zoning.
Montauk residents should take a good look at the handiwork of this very same building inspector regarding the new 7-Eleven backing onto Fort Pond.
On Friday I attended the opening of the Barbara Kruger show at Guild Hall. She did an extraordinary job painting large white words on the black walls and ceiling of the largest exhibition space. The artist, with bushy blonde hair and glasses, attended the opening but didn’t want any photos taken of her.
Afterward we joined Alec Baldwin and rode golf carts from the Three Mile Hollow beach to a tented dinner on land next to Judy Taubman’s spread. There is the most extraordinary white beach house on stilts right there—big, boxy, filled with quirky modernist seating and surrounded by the most untouched ocean-front acreage. Wow!
Later that night, I arrived early to Wendy Diamond’s Lily Pond dinner for Animal Fair. Paul McCartney dined on veggies and tofu next door at Philippe with Nancy Shevill. He was driving a black convertible Rolls with the steering wheel on the right.
Around midnight, designers Richie Rich and Pachi Lake debuted a sensational fashion show of their recent work. Rich used to design Heatherette, and the shows were pure theater. He went all out at Lily Pond that night, too. It was a small special show, and the crowd knew they were lucky to witness it. The men on the catwalk wore skimpy banana hammocks. One wore a macramé top, another sported a white jumpsuit zipped way open in front. They looked like strung-out club kids from a gay German disco, and the women also didn’t disappoint. My fave was a tall, thin African-American woman who wore a halter that ended in shorts so short it revealed carpenter’s cavern.
Everyone in Lily Pond was screaming. And at the end Rich, in a usual death-defying act, came out on the runway in roller skates.
The next day, German friends asked if we could bring their houseguests to the Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge in Bridgehampton. They were tall and snappy, like the Swiss couple in Dinner for Schmucks but a bit less blonde. He is one of the world’s experts in restoring old Mercedes, and is currently helping to bring back a one-of-a-kind model that Pope John Paul II left behind in the Congo.
At polo Khloé Kardashian kept to the SWAGG Mobile Application tent. She looked curvy-fab in Missoni and Louboutin. We sat in the breezy VIP area with Sharon Bush and John Gruen, who noticed Finbarr reading The Iliad and gave him kudos. Finbarr’s line? “He probably just wants to encourage me to read so I’ll end up buying his eyeglasses.” Out of the mouths of babes.
That night Ron Perelman threw a big shindig at The Creeks for the Apollo Theater. I heard John Bon Jovi had played there. Someone gave me Perelman’s private office number, and I had phoned on Saturday afternoon thinking I’d just leave a message. But the most kind and efficient woman I’ve ever spoken with took all the information. They apparently didn’t want press, but were very nice about it.
In East Hampton, the Eric Firestone Gallery opened a fun grafitti show called “Down By Law.” The artists tagged canvas boards for guests, and Michael Halsband told me that his photo of Keith Haring was signed with a drawing on the back by Haring himself.
Across the street at Calypso, Francine LeFrak did cocktails for the gorgeous bracelets (a collection called Same Sky) she has made for charity in Rwanda. They sold like hot cakes. A woman named Sada made the one I bought for my wife and it came with a note that the work had changed her life.
At 8 PM Michael Braverman—my fellow Hamptons columnist and a gifted writer, wine expert, philanthropist and social historian, as well as a former real estate powerhouse—invited me to his dinner for authors in support of the East Hampton Library. I rode a golf cart down the winding driveway south of the highway to his amazing home. Built just 10 years ago, the shingled manse houses a vast library/living room that feels positively Jeffersonian. Below the elegant turned-spindled railing of the gallery that overlooks the bookshelves you’ll find the written names of history’s greatest minds: Plato, Aristophanes, Goethe… the list goes on and on. Braverman told me he had chosen the great thinkers who had influenced his life. Wow!
I arrived early and spoke with the lovely Katie Lee, who had a book in the gift bag. What a sweetheart. Alexandra Lebenthal was one of four writers being honored. She wrote Recessionistas, which I already started reading. It paints a delightfully accurate portrait of life and the schools on the Upper East Side. Lovely woman.
Dinner was by the pool at tables covered with zebra-striped tablecloths. Each author hosted one table, and dessert (including little cheesecakes on sticks) was served back in the regal library. Superb host.
As I was leaving, Braverman graciously remembered to ask me to keep him informed about my rather public brawl with the Planning Board over the convenience store (The East Hampton Star recently came out on our side). And Judy Licht and Jerry Della Femina kindly had Kitty Merrill at The Independent weigh in decisively.
Braverman’s thoughtfulness and kind manners reminded me of Caroline Bessette Kennedy, whom I last saw when she hurried out of a cocktail party at the US Customs House in Manhattan two weeks before her fatal plane crash. She followed me a few steps down the marble steps out front, touched my arm, and asked me if everything was okay at a magazine where I worked because she’d heard there had been some drama. Earth angel.
BY JEFFREY SLONIM