That the South Fork is part of the greater metropolitan area rather than the rural place we used to think it was has become almost impossible to deny. You get the message from conspicuous consumption, both in the size and shape of many new houses and in the boutiques that have turned East Hampton’s Main Street into Madison Avenue East. But you also get the message by simply taking note of all the millions of special events you can participate in on any given jam-packed weekend.
Take Saturday, for example.
I was surprised by the 26 activities listed in The Star’s Winter Holiday supplement for that one day. And, really, the figure should have been 27, because one of the events I attended — the Hamptons Take 2 Documentary Film Festival at the Bay Street Theatre — was missing from the list. Some 16 documentaries were shown at the Take 2 festival last weekend and, Saturday night, Susan Lacy, the founder and executive producer of the terrific PBS series “American Masters,” was honored at a reception and one of the films she has made, “Leonard Bernstein: Reaching for the Note,” was shown. I wouldn’t have missed it, even though we had spent the afternoon at Guild Hall for an HD screening of “La Clemenza di Tito” from the Metropolitan Opera.
Our enriching Saturday selections meant that we had to skip another favorite event: one of Music for Montauk’s outstanding free concerts, this one by Freddie Bryant and the Melting Pot Jazz Sextet. We also couldn’t make it to that night’s screenings in the OLA Film Festival at the Parrish Art Museum, although we would have loved to.
Talk about choice!
Not only has our overall population ballooned, but so has every imaginable kind of pursuit, hobby, and entertainment — from farmers markets to road races, from public gardens to book clubs, from kids’ art lessons to baking classes. We no longer just have the original Hamptons International Film Festival and the HT2FF and OLA, we also now have an East End Black Film Festival, which had its seventh incarnation at the Parrish in November. (For two years we also had a Wildlife Conservation Film Festival here, although it seems to have given us up in favor of New York City, where it will take place in early 2013.)
I’ve been amazed, and sometimes amused, by the way in which city folks always seem to maintain busier schedules — a hectic recreational, social, educational round — than the rest of us, even when they are supposedly out here to take it easy.
I am pretty sure this is the case because many of the people we used to think of as city dwellers now spend as much or more time here “in the country” than they do in Manhattan. It’s not so much that they have moved to the country but that the country has been absorbed by the town. The only question that remains is why so many of them persist in wearing barn jackets and Wellington boots.