Sunday, November 29, 2015

Walking with my dad in Sagaponack the day after Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving found me on Long Island visiting family.

On Friday, I walked the roads of Sagaponack with my father to burn off calories from the night before.

As we walked, he talked of friends and acquaintances gone by, memories of the New York literary and art worlds that called that place home in the middle of last century.

The listing was impressive. Some were famous, others less so. Many had connections to Harvard.

Even if New York City was the lodestar of culture then, the painters were attracted to the light and big skies of eastern Long Island and the writers perhaps to the luxuriant, quiet fields that grew potatoes and corn. Still, to be that far out of the city was to be quite some distance from civilization, at least as it was understood in 1955. This was long before the uber, uber wealthy began turning the fields into house lots.

Here were some of the names:

Peter Matthiessen
George Plimpton
Joe Fox
Truman Capote
John Irving
Willem de Kooning
Jackson Pollock

They were all white men, but that's all that world consisted of. It's interesting to remember the postwar anointed, unmistakably bourgeois and precious in their tastes but in some ways much more radical and interesting than today's lawyer soccer moms and their Audi-driving tech entrepreneur partner dads.

This old crowd gripped American culture tightly in both hands and argued with much passion about it all over too much booze at Elaine's.