A brief time in the Hamptons

We just returned from a brief stay in “The Hamptons.” I’ve never really known what exactly that phrase means, but in my mind it is large beach houses and Billy Joel and Jerry Seinfeld sunning on their decks. It is technically the east end of Long Island, the southern part of the fish tail that it forms, and is comprised of Southampton, East Hampton, Bridgehampton, and others ending like that.

It was a family gathering in a rented home, and we had a very enjoyable time in this strange land. My observations are about the Hampton’s in general, without any regard to the family members whose company I enjoyed.

The Hamptons appear to me to be very Jewish, in addition to being very wealthy. I had a feeling that it is where the people who own the country spend their summers. The people who run the country are in DC and nearby localities. If you read this blog regularly, you know this does not cause any resentment in me. I like my life, don’t want anyone else’s. By “Jewish” I don’t mean that they wear yarmulkes or sport side locks. I don’t recall seeing a synagogue, though they are surely there. Bacon is abundant. If these same people were walking in downtown Denver, I would not think they were Jewish. In the Hamptons, I think they are. I could be wrong.

But here is what I observed:

The various towns are very expensive. Two double scoops of ice cream cost $17. Parking at a small beach was $25. The stores are very posh, and they have a young clientele, often young mothers driving expensive vehicles. When I say they are “Jewish,” I mean it in a complimentary way, as these young women are very attractive, and just have that look about them that I cannot define and could be so wrong about. As they age, they still carry themselves in a self-assured manner, as if they are used to having their way. Think of Joan Rivers on stage, never doubting herself.

There is the derogatory phrase “JAP”, or Jewish American Princess. I know what it means, but did not think of them that way. They are perhaps privileged, maybe spoiled, but most likely are well-educated and not at all shallow. Christopher Hitchens made a distinction, with which I agree:

“To be a spoiled person is not to be well-off or favored by fortune or protected from brute realities. It is to be well-off or favored by fortune or protected from brute realities and not to know it.”

If they know about their extreme good fortune in life, so be it. Enjoy! If they think they are in their shoes by any other grace than mere birth canal, I have a slight problem. But it would take time to get to know them and understand them better, and my rank in life does not permit this.

More so than in regular places, I noticed there that women are still having babies at a young age. In regular life, as I observe it, Americans are waiting until at least late 20s to have children, even later. This is because it is so hard to launch now compared to years past. But if these young women are married to already-wealthy or successful young men, there is no need to wait. Everything is in place early in life.

Hampton housing a mixture, but often very old, even going back to the 1600s – refurbished many times, of course. Hidden away on side roads are some incredible mansions, maybe 20 bedrooms and four or more fireplaces. I did not look at the mailboxes, though I am quite sure that the Acheson’s do not have a box with their name on it at the head of the driveway. There are also small houses scattered about, one and two-bedroom cottages that I would bet are worth a million or more. Location …

Traffic is frenetic, and mostly of the service variety – builders, plumbers, gardeners. We left yesterday morning via New York State Route 27, and passed miles upon miles of people going into the Hamptons. These are service people on their way to work. Traffic coming out there was at a crawl. This is the daily routine in summer, perhaps all year round. We saw very few buses. The Long Island Railroad services the area, so I imagine that many more come by that route.

It was a fun four days, and we are glad we went to be with family, and also to see another slice of life. Given the heat and humidity and cost of living, I will stay put, but I wish them all happiness.

12 thoughts on “A brief time in the Hamptons

  1. Mark, as Eric Thomas would say: “That’s pretty sweet, bro!!”. Glad you spent some time with family and good times. Thanks for sharing short impressions on your trip. Really? Route 27 (3^3). Wow!! Well, talking about numbers, check out The “1770 House” Restaurant next time you visit the Hamptons. Seriously, no joke.


      1. Let the restaurant speak for itself :”For more than 250 years, The 1770 House has welcomed guests with hospitality and comfort, a tradition that continues to attract guests from around the world to the intimate Inn, steps from the heart of East Hampton Village. The venerable home, today a boutique hotel and restaurant, seamlessly integrates historic elegance with luxurious, modern amenities and first-class dining by Chef Michael Rozzi.”. For real: http://www.1770house.com.


  2. I remember driving down the Jersey coast a couple of decades, and seeing the huge, ugly, modern box mansions mixed in among a few Colonial types. It had to be heavily Jewish, as that fits their tastes. This was just north of Asbury Park, which was mostly a ghetto. Did you see any of that type of architecture in the Hamptons?


  3. Hello Mark,

    Good to read you had a nice time in the Hamptons.
    Hampton's history if looked into would be interesting since it's across Long Island Sound from other historical epicenters of wealth. Also think of the novel  "The Great Gatsby" and it's closer link on the island to New York City.                            

    Rising the name of the Hamptons remotely asks if the current view on twentieth century art is upside down? Could the 1950’s Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock have afforted “$17 ice cream” (sic), inflation adjusted, when according to urban myth he moved to the Hamptons in the 1950’s because his paintings weren’t selling and that’s what struggling creative people do, move to the poorer parts of town like the potato farms of the Hamptons when your article otherwise illustrates it’s already established well to do past. Perhaps if Pollack were any poorer he would have had to move further east living in a shack on Cape Cod doing “drip art” paint jobs on Jaguars to make ends meet.
    So if the Hamptons were already secluded that may imply he was not poor to live there. Taking a leap expand that to the rest of the Abstract Expressionists on how they made a living as avant-garde artists and taking it further out why New York City supposedly inherited the Paris art style. (1913 was a pivotal year in art history after John Quinn helped repeal the tariff on imported art making it possible to market overstocked European art on American buyers and with the help of the Ashcan painter William Glackens along with Quinn, letting his fellow artists shoot themselves in the foot organizing the “Woodstock” of that era, the 1913 Amory Show. European ‘Modern Art’ becomes fashionable and American art’s appeal declines all the way past Abstract Expressionism.)
    The above is my opinion and question whelter Pollack could have afforted to live in the Hamptons then on a painter’s commission (not the service house painter alluded to in the article). I never had lunch with Pollack nor could I even afford the ice cream.



    1. Thanks for an insightful comment. Of course I realize, as do many who write, comment and read this blog, that Jackson Pollack was part of a larger movement meant to debase art. His talent, if he had any, was merely lifetime acting.


      1. Mark,

        Thanks for posting.   

        As your subheadline reads “lt’s easier to fool people …”, my interest is in the second part ” … than to convince them they had been fooled”. HOW are we fooled? Or better “How do we allow (want?) ourselves to be fooled?

        When the prices of Claude Monet's paintings crashed and the rich industrialist's wifes were left holding a bag of paintings not even the French public wanted, what to do?
        Hire Alfred Barr to create a museum of modern art and give lectures on how great he was. David Bowie I believe repeated a phase, paraphasing, Personality + Product = Marketing which he used when he was left holding a bag full of worthless Andy Warhola work. Make a movie to sell his image and move the commodities. 

        POM’s persona non grata Miles Mathis has an article on the movie “Mr. Turner” worth reading, afterall Mathis is a working artist and knows the business of art.

         Rather than blame this group or that person it would be more expedient to ask ourselves why we allowed ourselves to be fooled (lack of info, dis-info, etc.,.) and then compare notes with other people. Learn the seller's technique to build up some immunity. Go to a supermarket and study product placement. In an art museum the center of the product of interest is placed at fifty-four inches, the average eye level. Obvious, but it works.    
        And if you don't care for art, consider that YOU are a commodity, "human capital".


  4. Isn’t there always a concerted attempt to reduce in quality or value any and all that falls into the unfortunate category of commodity? Why is art then, when elevated or reduced by public consensus due to its monetary value, any different than coal, steel, wheat, or pork bellies?
    Forever, it seems, “market forces” have determined which art deserves lower rank, or lower significance than other art “approved” by its propaganda-generated popularity. I am struck, not by the relative value and status of all things that equate to price tag, but how few things we value in any significant way that exist outside those arbitrary, man-made boundaries of so-called “commerce.”


  5. You’re right. There’s a war going on, has been for 500+ years? We’re losing. If you want me to wring my hands in anguish, I will try. Doesn’t seem to help, I warn you.


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