By Christine Bellini
They crop up every year like wild strawberries – filling the idles spaces, shop entries, box office lobbies, coffee shop windowsills and pizza parlor alcoves. With their shinny slick covers they tempt even the most reluctant passerby to succumb to their inky world of desire and wanton ownership. These street-walkers of the magazine trade have arrived right on time to remind us that we live in The Hamptons – that magical Neverland for the perfectly toned, excessively self-obsessed, über blasé with time, money and desire to burn.
If you drink in the elixir of their ink-rich spreads, working excessively hard to appear nonchalant and uninterested in the snares of everyday life, you would expect to find The Hamptons a much different place than where The Hampton Jitney, it’s Ambassador line, or even The Luxury Liner transport you to after two-and-a-half-hours of crushingly pedestrian travel along the Long Island Expressway.
Once here, if you are not among the four percent who have helicoptered in to private helipads patch-worked into the beach grass along Dune Road who are greeted by drivers who whisk them across the perfectly decaying tar cattle path to their sprawling estate, you spend the entirety of your ‘Hamptons vacay’ trying to find this aspirational Neverland depicted in the summer trades.
There’s a price to pay in being fabulous in The Hamptons – one that is most commonly paid by attending weekend gala after weekend opening, as you clamor to be invited by the folks who get to sit on the beach towels on the other side of the rope line (not 20 feet in front of you) at The Watermill Center to hear Rufus Wainwright sing for the umpteenth time. It’s all very cozy and chummy and cloyingly icky to watch considerably accomplished adults clamor to be among the in-crowd who try their damndest to behave like the Fitzgeralds and Murphys.
For a long time I viewed the summer trades as a Hamptons’ wish book for the masses who stuff themselves like sardines into the 4:30 from Penn Station looking to snag a weekend of wanderlust amid the ocean surf and club scene. Now I see them as a yearbook for the self-proclaimed ‘we’ve arrived’ it-crowd. The transformation came with this summer’s premiere issue of Beach Modern Luxury edited by Cristina Cuomo. In her opening letter she writes, “These pages are filled with a lifetime of friends – stars of the silver screen, lots of artists and writers, some comedians, a generous handful of tastemakers – and their take on the world around them… They’re all together on this great island’s sandy end. We haven’t overdone the “beach” theme, have we?” A photograph of her lanky beauty as she nose kisses her youngest daughter on the ocean sand in Southampton adorns the page.
With Beach Modern Luxury topping the entries in this summer’s crop, we have now witnessed the true coming of age of the summer trade into full-blown Murphy adulthood. Move over Hamptons Magazine with your super-glossy club obsessed 35-year-olds strutting The Surf Lodge drinking peppered vodka and make room for the 50-plus bourbon drinking yoga minimalists who have spurned their raddled consumptive youth to revel in the luxury of open space, art collecting and the refined art of revered consumption that works hard at looking like you don’t want to own a thing but have to.
It’s a broad brush, en plain air approach, to Hamptons living, a little less fueled by real estate ads and more inspired by Town and Country meets Vanity Fair when all the good writers have gone on holiday. The Fictionists section at the back of the mag, which is devoted to beach reads is a nice touch after pages of style, cultured and resort offerings. A nod to green living, Hamptons contemporary architecture and a cautionary tale on Lyme disease (written by local journalists) lend an air of feet-on-the-ground sensibility long enough to suffice passing conversation. And Cuomo’s interview of 40-something ethereal movie it-girl turned earth mom, rock star wife – “Iron Rich” Gwyneth Paltrow ties together the lore of Twenties glamour with 2013 chilled charm.
If we are what we read, these are fascinating times.
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.