Dick

By Daphne du Maurier and Iris Smyles
Doyle Bramhall II, left, and Adam Minkoff gave a group of Guild Hall supporters a preview of what they can expect at the Guitar Masters series in July as they sat on the lawn at the seaside residence of Dick Cavett in Montauk. Paul Forsman and Lenny Stucker Photos

Last night I dreamt I went to Tick Hall again. It seemed to me I stood under a bright sky in the Montauk Playhouse parking lot waiting for shuttle van service, for parking at the house was barred to me, I’d been told in an email. After back streets led us away from the town, there was a white wooden gate, which we seven in the van passed, before following a meandering tree-lined path that at last opened onto the 20-acre oceanfront estate. 

Wandering through the storied 136-year-old shingle-style house built by Stanford White in 1882 as one of the Seven Sisters” that make up the Montauk Association (which was created by the real estate developer Arthur Benson, founder of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, as a hunting and fishing resort for himself and his friends), I saw that Dick Cavett, the home’s current owner (until he sells it for the $62 million ask), was not at home, but a real estate agent from Corcoran and subscribers to Guild Hall’s Guitar Masters Festival (coming up July 5 through July 7 in East Hampton) were.

Over the lawn, as Doyle Bramhall II (known for his work with Eric Clapton and John Waters) played for the festival kick-off party’s guests, I wandered like Daphne du Maurier’s unnamed narrator in the gothic romance “Rebecca.” No smoke came from the chimney (which was the only thing to have survived a disastrous fire in 1997 before the house was painstakingly reconstructed “down to its sagging porch,” a process documented in Scott Morris’s 2003 film “From the Ashes: The Life and Times of Tick Hall”), and a stained-glass window looking out from an empty staircase landing, gaped forlorn.

Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed, of a sudden, with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through a footpath leading to the ocean. Standing atop a bluff in my gold heels and turquoise St. John suit while worrying about Lyme disease, at first I was puzzled and did not understand why I had come (I was tired and had wanted to stay home and watch “Dynasty”), and it was only when I bent my ear to the low murmur of conversations penetrating the bushes that I remembered why I was there. 

The weekend had arrived again, and, little by little, in its stealthy, insidious way had encroached upon me with its long, tenacious fingers. Saturday, always a menace even in the past, had triumphed in the end. And now, revelers, rosé-soaked and uncontrolled, crowded Tick Hall’s wraparound porch. 

The faces were bright, as they leaned close to one another for photos, their purses and drinks overlapping in a lattice-like embrace behind their backs. 

Smiling best-selling author of “Come to the Edge” (a memoir of the author’s five-year romance with J.F.K. Jr.) Christina Haag in summer white. Purist publisher Cristina Cuomo in adorable animal print tea dress. Sports photographer and Dick Cavett neighbor Walter Iooss in the oak-paneled dining room next to a table of sandwiches. G.E. Smith, formerly of the “Saturday Night Live” band, passing under the porch canopy, while the director of the Hamptons International Film Festival, Anne Chaisson, held up her phone to make an Instagram story. 

There were other guests as well, guests that I did not recognize, older ones with marvelous Lucite earrings and younger ones in chic jumpsuits, who had thrust themselves out of the quiet earth — she’d recently moved to Sag Harbor from the Midwest, she told me — like flowers in one of the many fantastic gardens designed by the Perfect Earth founder Edwina von Gal, who co-chaired the event and said, “Hey.”

Also co-chairing was the designer Nicole Miller (a few of whose brilliantly patterned silk shirts I just got for a steal at Collette’s pop-up in Bridgehampton Commons); the concert promoter Ron Delsener; Jason Ienner; Lee Skolnick, who designed New York City’s 9/11 tribute museum; the former Barnes & Noble head Steve Riggio; the author and founder of Peppers & Rogers Group (and Mr. Cavett’s wife) Martha Rogers; the founder of ENTtech Media Group, which recently acquired Paper Media, Tom Florio; the 303 Gallery proprietor Lisa Spellman (whom Vulture calls “a national treasure”); the fashion and costume designer Mary Jane Marcasiano; the power attorney for Pearl Jam and Dave Mathews Band Elliot Groffman; the president and C.O.O. of Wenner Media, which publishes Rolling Stone, Gus Wenner — are you still with me? — and the Guild Hall board chairman and closet guitarist Marty Cohen, whose Instagram feed reveals he once rocked a mustache.

The drive was a ribbon on the way back at 7 p.m., a thread of its blazing 5 p.m. self, now choked with grass and moss under a rising moon. The sky had thrown out clouds, giving impediment to twilight, while a half-drunk can of Montauk beer was clutched by one, wild among the jungle growth of post-party conversation, in the van’s back seat. And the gnarled roots under-wheel, locked like skeleton claws, like, you know, at Manderlay. 

The van left us off in the parking lot.


Read more Iris Smyles at Easthamptonstar.com/Iris

Attending the party were Sara DiOrazio and Tomas Hill.
Eden Williams, Paul Forsman, and Cornelia Forsman.
G.E. Smith and Billy Squier (seen flanked by the performers).