Europeans: England, France, Sweden Salute King of the Hamptons

My youngest son Gabriel was out visiting us last weekend. He’s a musician based in Brooklyn with his own band. Sometimes he comes home and we are happy to have him. But on Friday morning, I thought I’d warn him.

“The Germans will be here at the house Saturday,” I told him. “And then the French on Sunday.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“I just wanted to let you know. It’s going to be a busy, busy day. This is what the Hamptons have come to.” [expand]

I told him a little more about it. Three months ago, a German TV producer by the name of Philipp Engel from the German TV network Arte 1 wrote me an e-mail from Berlin to ask if I would show him around the Hamptons a little bit. Here’s how he described what he was about:

“In August of this year I will schoot for the Franco-German culture station ‘arte’ a 45-minute documentary about the Hamptons. The film will show viewers in Germany and France the unique beauty and cultural diversity, but also the history of this particular area. The documentary is filmed in HD, so the best current TV standard. Maybe this link could be helpful for you and you to get a first idea of our broadcast station.
I found this description of our TV network in English language: the series I work for is called ‘Arte Entdeckung’ (arte discovery): www.arte.tv/de/ARTE-Entdeckung/807506,CmC=881384.html.
The internet page is just available in German language, but here a short summary: ‘arte discovery’ is a series with the intention to show the viewer top quality films about nature, science, medicine, technic, or very special places (like The Hamptons).
In this case we televise a number of films that deal with one subject: ‘famous seaside resorts.’
We show famous seaside resorts in South Africa, Thailand, France, Italy and also ‘The Hamptons’ in the USA.”

“What dates will you be here?” I asked.

“From August 14 to August 23.”

“You can come with me to the Artist-Writers Softball Game. I’m the umpire. You can meet lots of celebrities there. That’s on August 20.”

“We’ll be flying in the weekend before, could we meet with you then, too? We’ve been told you are the King of the Hamptons. Could we come to your house?”

I told him he could do that.

About a week later, I got an e-mail from a French TV reporter named Anais Ciura, a reporter for Channel 1-TF1, the largest network in France. They were doing a showcase on the rich in the Hamptons. Apparently she had been told I was the King of the Hamptons. Her English was even worse than Philipp’s.

I’m looking for the “first inhabitant of the Hamptons,” she wrote, “the person that never thaught that one day Madonna would be his neighboor! and who has picture of the 50-century Hamptons.
Maybe, If you accpet it, it can be you that visit this person and that make the interview being shooting by our camera.
“We don’t speak very much about you… How long do you live in the Hamptons Dan? Maybe it’s you the person I search as ‘first inahbitant’! or your family? How long do you work in the newspaper of the Hamptons? I’m sure that you are the person I need for this report… and don’t hesitate to give me your idea about what I absolutly have to shoot (as you can see on the web site of the TV show, this is a report who must make people dreaming… we have to show the best, the most famous…) in the Hamptons.”

I got it. She wanted me to get a descendant of one of the first settlers. I know lots of Bonackers. So I said I’d invite one over and she could come over too. When would she be here? It would be the same dates the German TV people would be here.

Now there was a new e-mail.

“So he is of your friend since a long time, no? You know what, it will be great if you find your article when for instance the first star settle in the Hamptons, or other article that show how this place has changed! It will not take many time, just time to meet, talk a little, make the sequence with a few questions, see the picture and we will not disturb him a lot!”

They were both coming the same weekend, I thought. I’ve got to keep these two outfits apart. I set it up Saturday for Germany and Sunday for France.

I also thought that with each of these crews, I should put them in touch with others who might help them. Who did I know who was French? Pierre! Of Pierre’s Restaurant in Bridgehampton.

“He is handsome, 40s, bubbly and smooth and owns a well-established restaurant and outdoor cafe in Bridgehampton,” I wrote her. “He has a chanteuse singing some nights. Good friend. He parks a 1962 Deux Chevaux out front. Baby Blue. 631-537-5110 pierreweber@msn.com.”

She wrote back.

“Seemms to be very interesting, I contact him by mail! What about the place of the sequence with you and your friend whose family came in 1640?”

Who did I know that was German? Roman Roth, the winemaker at Wolffer Estate Vineyard. I contacted Roman. He was also eager to help. I had put both in touch with the appropriate language group. That was something anyway.

Thus it was that on much of Saturday, August 13, we had Philipp Engel, an earnest, serious-looking 30-something from Germany leading a film crew around our home. They filmed our cat, our 10-pound tortoise out in the yard, copies of Dan’s Papers. They filmed me sitting in a chair, writing on a laptop by the pool. For what they called a B-roll, they had me filmed making cappuccino for two of them, the steamer hissing away while I worked, with me appearing to not notice them there. At one point, the cat leaped up onto the kitchen sink and began licking at the water coming out of the faucet. He’s a very old cat with a thirst problem. They filmed him in complete silence for a long time doing that.

I think this is very German, I thought.

My wife and son were bustling about, but it’s a good-sized house and they kept out of the way. There were chips and guacamole on the kitchen table. Pellegrino. The Germans asked about how the Hamptons had changed since I got here in the 1950s. I told them the seminal moment of change was when Steven Spielberg came out here for the premier of Jaws and then moved out here. That was in 1976. Before that, we had movie stars and talented writers and artists, but their homes were secluded in the woods and everybody left them alone. After 1976, it was all about see and be seen.

“I think a celebrity gas kind of wafted into the Hamptons after he arrived here,” I told them. “Hey look at who I see?” After that we had limos and red carpets and paparazzi and all of Hollywood came here.

Later in the day, I took them to the Authors Night at the East Hampton Library. Over 150 authors, including me, were there, sitting at tables under a tent, offering up their books for sale with the proceeds going to the library.

“Celebrities?” Philipp asked. He and his crew had come over. People stopped to see. Was that DAN RATTINER?

Alec Baldwin is here. Susan Lucci. Robert Caro. Lots of them are celebrities?”

They didn’t seem to know who Alec Baldwin was.

“He may run for Mayor of New York,” I said.

It was an amazing event. About a thousand people were there. I sold 26 books. The total sale, everything considered with donations, ticket sales and other things, brought nearly a quarter million dollars to the library.

On Sunday, Anais and her French crew arrived at my house. As our entire contact had been, up until then, by overseas phone and e-mail, I did wonder what she looked like. Her appearance did not disappoint. She was in her mid-20s, small and graceful. We set up a seating arrangement in my library, where I have one of the sets of back issues of Dan’s Papers. With me was my Bonacker of choice, Stuart Vorpahl, who’s family, through the Bennetts, goes back to when the settlers first arrived in 1639.

Stuart told Anais about fishing and clamming and farming in the old days. He was one of them. But there was little money in it now with all the new regulations. He said he thought the transformation of the Hamptons happened when the town passed laws banning an ancient sort of fishing they did from the beach, called haul-seining, in which large nets were cast into the sea. He had photographs to show. I had photographs to show. I opened one of the issues of Dan’s Papers from 1976 and showed her the article about Steven Spielberg coming to the Hamptons.

Before that, I told Anais, we had movie stars and talented writers and artists, but their homes were secluded in the woods and everybody left them alone. After 1976, it was all about see and be seen.

“I think a celebrity gas kind of wafted into the Hamptons after he arrived here,” I told them. “Hey look at who I see?” After that we had limos and red carpets and paparazzi and all of Hollywood came here.

Afterwards, Anais and her crew went off to film inside a wealthy man’s house on the ocean.

I am writing this on Monday, the day after Authors Night, and I am thinking how I will be showing the German crew around next weekend at the Artists-Writers Game in Herrick Park in East Hampton. There will be plenty of celebrities there and they will hit and run and catch and do all sorts of things. I wondered if Anais will show up. There may also be celebrities at the Dan’s Papers Cover Art Show at the Seasons of Southampton, which I will be going to right after the ball game. I have to check my schedule to see what else I was going to on Sunday.

I grew up in a suburb in New Jersey, and got brought out here to the Hamptons when I was a teenager by my dad who bought a store here. In those days, this was in the 1950s, all the stores closed on Sunday. Sunday was a church day. Dogs slept on the white line on Main Street. TV was three channels from Connecticut and it was in black and white. And the artists and writers and Broadway show people had houses in the woods.

Now it’s this.

 

*        *        *

 

Well now it’s the Swedes. I am not making this up. My cellphone rings and it is Peter Kadhammer from the Stockholm daily paper Astonbladet. They will be coming out to the Hamptons too, on Wednesday. Could I talk to him about the Hamptons?

“It’s the playground of the rich, yes? What kind of a place is it?”

I tell him it is sort of rural and was originally a place for farming and fishing and tourists and there were a lot of beaches and potatoes.

I told him the seminal moment of change was when Steven Spielberg came out here for the premier of Jaws and then moved out here. That was in 1976. Before that, we had movie stars and talented writers and artists, but their homes were secluded in the woods and everybody left them alone. After 1976, it was all about see and be seen.

“I think a celebrity gas kind of wafted into the Hamptons after he arrived here,” I told them. “Hey look at who I see?” After that we had limos and red carpets and paparazzi and all of Hollywood came here.

I think I’m going viral.

BACK TO Dan Rattiner's Stories

 

Please log in to vote


You need to log in to vote. If you already had an account, you may log in here


Alternatively, if you do not have an account yet you can create one here.