Now that the dust is settling on Summer 2013 and we’re all getting back to some semblance of village life, headlines in the local papers begin to sound reassuringly ordinary as planning board proposals and library budgets now pepper the news pages and boys soccer and girls field hockey fill the sports sections. For the most part, the infractions of a summer gone haywire have dwindled from the police blotters and complaints of overcrowding from Westhampton Beach to Montauk are replaced with fall festival chatter that brings out the reluctant traffic-weary local folks.
In the flurry of the season’s closing weeks most of us just went on hyper-blur, willingly turning a blind eye and deaf ear to behavior that would normally offend or outrage, in hopes of inching closer to the mass exodus that delivers, like clockwork come Labor Day, a lulling effect to the senses. So it’s no wonder if you happened to have overlooked the most tickling of headlines that made its way to the Daily News, Newsday, CNBC, The Huffington Post, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail and Colorado Newsday.
A perusal of the numerous datelines indicates that Newsday’s Mitchell Friedman apparently broke the story just after 9 p.m. on Sept. 4. Learning of such a tasty morsel the others quickly fell into line, serving up their clever spins on this ever-so classic Hampton’s real estate tale.
For those of you who already read the article, having been baited by Curbed Hampton’s cheeky Twitter teasers, you likely did not enjoy the full breath of the “icing on the cake” quality the account is delivering to those of us who are now just hearing of the bidding war which took place between two ocean front neighbors in Amagansett. The pair ran the price of a Suffolk County-owned, one-foot-wide and 1,885-foot long path, which leads to oceanfront access, from $10 to $120,000.
There’s a punch line in there somewhere that starts out, “What do you get when two Manhattan financiers battle over a Hampton’s right-of-way to the Atlantic Ocean…”
Thirty-four bids later and the amusingly sardonic Hamptons real estate story is born and traipsed across the internet on news desks from Colorado to Great Britain. I like to file these stories under the “Only in The Hamptons” category of soft news that sheds more light on pride and entitlement than on overreaching property price tags. Amusement aside, the ripple effect this sort of headline broadcasting creates reinforces the myth-building narrative that encourages the indulgences of Manhattan financiers and voila! — ‘The Hamptons’ become even more hyperbolic by the day.
It’s pretty much a common phenomenon in a place where front page headlines include zoning tiffs and driving mishaps in which Madonna gets issued ‘cease-and-desist’ letters from the county for ignoring access road restrictions and Mort Zuckerman is taken to court over two successive traffic accidents that call into question his driving abilities. In both these instances, celebrity makes the headline all the more titillating as these individuals get caught in the news cycle right in our backyard. Both instances would more than likely have been printed on interior pages had the names been Smith and Jones.
A former news editor, essay writer CHRISTINE BELLINI is an editorial consultant who spends a good deal of her time pondering the cultural curiosities of The Hamptons from her Sag Harbor tree house.