They’ve honed the skill of attracting attention by building some of the largest and ugliest houses this side of the Russian-owned Riviera ones, yet the luminous little village still retains signs of a bygone civilized era. A few grand houses built a long time ago are proof that not all Americans are nouveaux- riches, and some even have good taste in decoration — you know the kind: wicker chairs, yellow and white umbrellas and long green lawns.
I used to own a house like that, with a swimming pool, tennis court and a cellar full of wine, but I sold it because of its proximity to a relative of mine. My daughter was heartbroken at the sale, especially after I bought a large piece of land in northern Connecticut and made plans to build a Yankee palace. She moved to England and her mother, brother and reluctant father followed.
As everyone who has not built a glass atrocity on Dune Road knows, artists and writers descended on the land now called the Hamptons around the late 1800s. When people such as Walt Whitman praised the place as magical, the rich burst in like gangbusters. Back then the rich copied their betters, and their good taste in building their summer “cottages” is evident today. The recent dot-com crowd, alas, believed only in themselves, and ended up constructing monster houses that would scare away Frankenstein. Their imprimatur will one day be seen as proof of why AI decided to do away with humanity.
Never mind. The coup de grâce for the Hamptons came some time ago, when Paris Hilton, Puff Daddy, Busta Rhymes, Gwyneth Paltrow and other such rich undesirables (to me, anyway) discovered the place. I now visit once a year, stay at my private club, and rush back to the city after two nights. Even the club has changed, with many famous old WASP names gone to a higher-ranked club above. The only person I knew at breakfast was the club president, who came over to say hi and who was asked by a rude me who the hell all these new members were. This is the type of club where the white-painted exterior resembles the membership. For a moment I contemplated going to Graydon Carter’s party in the Hotel du Cap, but I decided to stay with the memories of my youth and stick to the Hamptons.
I’ve been a bit off Carter for some time. A few years ago he filmed Reinaldo Herrera and me talking about the good old days when manners were all-important and society dames were not on Twitter discussing their periods. He told me he was happy with the finished product but then #MeToo began. I reckon that what we filmed would have been awarded the Palme d’Or by #MeTooers. All we did was praise the gals for their beauty and elegance, and so on. But when Michael Mailer asked to see it and exhibit it, Carter refused. I’ve never seen it. We spent days filming and I was told that everything was hunky-dory. Then silence.
I like both Graydon’s current and ex-wife and all his children, but he’s on my blacklist until he exhibits the greatest documentary ever made. Would Leo attend his publisher’s party after War and Peace had been turned down? Would Gustave go to his agent’s for drinks after the latter had convinced him Madame Bovary was a loser? If My Dinner with André put some people to sleep, the one with Reinaldo will make them feel as though they’ve been injected with ketamine, whatever that means (I’ve never taken it).
And now for more things that are verboten: Djokovic dared to speak about Kosovo, and some human-rights woman called him a fascist and demanded he be punished. What the hell is this? There is nothing in the rulebook that prohibits a player from making political statements. Athletes today might be as thick as polo ponies but they have the God-given ability to speak — most of them, anyway — so why deprive them of the only advantage they have over dogs and horses?
Otherwise it’s time for a hasty migration from the Bagel. Alyssa, whom I recently wrote about, complained that I misspelled her Christian name, but I have complaints of my own: why, oh why, must she be so attractive and her skin so soft and porcelain? I’ll tell you why, because she’s fifty years younger than I am and she’s half-Swedish, half- Norwegian, that’s why. It’s a well-deserved comeuppance for a serial philanderer, but one never knows. Stranger things have happened, and I remain confident.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s August 2023 World edition.