GUESTWORDS: TripAdvisor-East Hampton

By Francis Levy

“Beautiful Highway, Excellent
Service Plazas, No Traffic Jams”

5 Stars
    We’d been told about motorists who’d been tied up in interminable traffic jams on the way to East Hampton, particularly during the summer months. But we’d also heard about the window of opportunity, which has apparently become a legend like the Loch Ness Monster or the Abominable Snowman. Voyagers to East Hampton have sought the window of opportunity the way King Arthur and his knights sought the Holy Grail, and many intrepid motorists, like Charlie on the M.T.A., “never return” once they disappear into the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. Actually we have to report that there is a window of opportunity that is infallible and begins just before midnight on Friday and ends at 3 p.m. Saturday when most people are still at the beach. Admittedly this means missing dinner on Friday, most of Saturday afternoon, and all of Sunday, but it was worth it to us since we avoided getting stuck in traffic and managed to go back and forth from East Hampton to N.Y. averaging only two hours each way!

“No Strikes and You’re Out”
1 Star
    We’d heard about the Artists and Writers Softball Game in East Hampton for years. I’m a writer as you can see and always contribute reviews of the places we visit to TripAdvisor. In addition, my wife is a painter who possesses a huge inventory of ambitious canvases, which depict, amongst other things, life in East Hampton. With this kind of C.V. we packed our mitts and bats, worrying only about the field and whether or not we should bring our cleats. Both of us are experienced softball players and we figured all’s we had to do was show up and she would be picked for the artists and me for the writers squad. That’s not the way things worked out. We were shocked to find out that you had to qualify. It was a little like the Olympics with a National Book Award nomination in fiction or nonfiction being a minimum qualification for writers and being one of Larry Gagosian’s roster of artists constituting the minimum for painters or sculptors. My wife felt a little better when she learned that Damien Hirst had been turned down for the artists team, before being represented by Gagosian. We could have stayed just to watch the game, but I’ve been writing these travel advisories for years and I spun my wheels in anger before skidding out of the parking lot.

“Let Hurts Put You
In the Driver’s Seat”

1 Star
    We rented in the Springs for the first time this summer. We’d heard on good authority that there was a place that rented luxury cars — Hummers, Mercedes, Audis, Jaguars, Ferraris — which they’d park on the shoulder of the road outside your hedges to make it look like you’re having a big party. The theory is, if your neighbors see that you are having big prestigious parties, they will invite you to theirs. Apparently that is not how things work in East Hampton. There were many gatherings with lines of cars parked outside houses in our neighborhood all through the summer months and we didn’t receive one invitation despite our investment in the rent-a-cars.

“Would Tolstoy Have Gotten
A Table at Nick and Toni’s?”

2 Stars
    They are not nasty, impolitic, or impolite at Nick and Toni’s. In fact, the staff treats deserving couples who drive up looking for a table the way Doctors Without Borders treats starving refugees in the Sudan. The question is, why would the average non-Nobel or Oscar-winning human being want to eat at Nick and Toni’s? For the food? C’mon. The zucchini chips may be good, but is it worth the indignity of actually seeing where one stands in the Great Chain of Being? What I learned from our experience of trying to eat at Nick and Toni’s over the course of a summer is that if you are low on the food chain, then you’d better acquire your food elsewhere. Yes, we did get a table one evening when there was a cloudburst which caused a five-car pileup that cut off all eastbound traffic (we were coming from the opposite direction). The restaurant was still crowded with celebrities who’d been helicoptered in. The service was very efficient and the food as expected was excellent, but the experience was hardly worth the stress. We spent the whole evening tearing ourselves apart for not being as creative as Steven Spielberg or as rich as Ron Perelman and then drove home in silence after getting into a big fight in which we blamed each other for our failed expectations.

    Francis Levy, who lives in Manhattan and Wainscott, is the author of the novels “Erotomania: A Romance” and “Seven Days in Rio.” He blogs at


Francis, with all due respect, a nice attempt at satire, but you need to read up on the history of the Hamptons. First, there is no "window" to avoid traffic any more. The window closed years ago, as evidenced by the traffic jams on all the back roads, even during "off" hours. Second, you are naive to think that the Artists & Writers game is actually played by real artists and writers any more. If you can hit like ARod, maybe they'd let you in even if your blog sucks. It's been a celebrity game for as long as I can remember, and holding up a copy of your recently published book won't get you into batting practice. Third, the really rich people drive broken down pickups. Fourth, the late Jeff Salaway made a big point of not letting celebrities muscle their way ahead of the hoi polloi to get a table at Nick and Toni's. Hence, when Jerry Della Femina was asked to wait, he haughtily walked out and opened up a restaurant across the street so he could always have a table waiting for him. Alas, few of us have the means to explore this option. And Jeff died tragically in a car accident, not too far from where Jackson Pollock crashed a half century before he did.
I'm sorry to say I didn't even realize it was supposed to be satire. I just found a boring, poorly written waste of ten minutes of my life.