May 24, 2006
LET THEM EAT LOBSTER SALAD
The French revolution of the Hamptons can't be far off.
What we see under the current administration where the rich are getting richer and the middle class is being destroyed, is only magnified in this atmosphere in which sky-high real estate is being bought up by speculators or summer residents while the local bourgeoisie can't afford a home. Are the only philistines at the hedgerow going to be hedge fund managers and those who clip their hedges?
Several factors have led to our decline. One is the confusion about the preservation of open space. People took this to mean within their houses instead of between them. Those six bedrooms must remain empty of children or guests 90% of the time and the uber kitchens are not to be used except for the transfer of takeout food to plates. Grand living and dining rooms are to be admired, not, god forbid, soiled with people actually sitting or eating there. The interior open space rule also translates to your car. Many believe a hybrid to be a tank meets a station wagon, perfect for running into town by yourself for the morning paper.
Marie Antoinette was said to have three weaknesses: clothes, diamonds, and gambling. She'd be right at home on Main Street, which is dominated by fashion designer boutiques, jewelry stores, and the best OTB around — real estate agencies. I'm sure if there was Starbucks in the palace, she'd be addicted to that too.
And what of the creative types who made the Hamptons their home? It's not so starter-artist friendly here anymore. There's no way that Citarella would take a painting in exchange for a rosemary roast chicken, and the famed East End light is now the whopping LIPA bill. Without the influx of new blood, the writers and artists softball game will be reduced to E.L. Doctorow and Eric Fischl mano a mano with Roy Scheider reffing.
Forget bread, we are a population that measures inflation by the price of lobster salad. At a whopping $58 dollars a pound, most of us can barely afford a bite — the irony of lobster salad being that originally servants here were fed the large crustaceans, which were considered undesirable eating by their wealthy bosses.
But like a tube of toothpaste, the Hamptons middle class is also being squeezed out from the bottom. If you own a business and pay all the requisite insurance, workman's comp, and update your licenses, you are being undercut by those who operate without them. With an increasing population not paying taxes here, those of us who do pay see our property taxes increase so that children can go to school for free. Our money also goes towards exorbitant health insurance to subsidize those who use the medical services without paying.
What all of these forces lead to is people feeling stressed and angry. But will the bourgeoisie revolt? Will we see the storming of Ira Rennert's house — the closest thing we have to Versailles? Will Hamptonites take up arms and overrun the Maidstone Club, insisting on tee times for everyone? Does Jerry Della Femina want to be the next Robespierre? Probably not. But it may lead to a slow exodus of the very people who make it great to live here.
So give us liberte, egalite, fraternite, or give us . . . affordable lobster salad.
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