mardi 23 avril 2013

New York Series 3 1/2: On The Road We Grow

- So why Montauk?
- Why not Montauk?
- Is that a reason tho...
- Well... you know what it’s like to say you’re going to the Hamptons.
- Yeah, I suppose. But just to you and me, we’re going to the Hamptons, right?
- East Hamptons. The place is massive, it’s got a giant swimming pool and a hot tub.
- Ok.

I’m off with Benjamin to pick the car up in Gowanus. I want to get a massive car too, a dream-carrier straight out of a film nominated at the Sundance film festival in the 90s. No one else does, we’ll get what we’re given. But first we ponder on the name Gowanus. Interesting way to call a place surrounding a dirty canal. In terms of punt I doubt we’ll be pioneers. Still, we are on good form.

The car is fine and we get a free upgrade. Of course we do. We drive round a few blocks for a warm-up. I turn on the radio, Madonna is suggesting us to dance for inspiration. I want to lower the window and show-off my moves but Benjamin points out that the builders in their wife-beaters at the crossroad won’t be impressed. Whatever.
We stop at the flat to load luggage and friends. I have made a playlist for the journey. Won’t share it with you except for the first track. Cantaloop by Us3. The window comes down.

Yes Montauk is a good choice and somewhat not such a random one. There is the monster, which is a plus, and it was also a holiday retreat for Warhol and his freaks in the 70s*. I am glad I hadn't heard the anecdote before we left, only discovered it on our return. I still don’t know how to feel about Warhol. The closest thing I can compare it to is putting my faith in a car salesman. He’ll convince me that I am the king of the world, to buy the car and enjoy the frill, and then I will realise too late that I was acting the life of somebody else, a character at a zenith of hipster mythology. But again this is another cliche about car salesmen, ours was very professional.

We drove on for a few hours, the traffic becoming rapidly fluid. Laughs all round, we are all very excited. Lookin’ Out My Back Door comes on the stereo, I slap the dashboard as hard as I can. Benjamin swerves and I hit a lamppost of reproval. Fine. I turn the volume down.

The landscape whizzes by at 55mph, a criminal speed for obliging prisoners on the run. It is flat essentially. I’m just happy to be driven in America, finally on the road. Hunger is creeping up once again. We are in the West Hamptons and want to find a diner. All we see are antiques shops and swimming pool retailers.

But not for long, we catch a glimpse of a tank on the other side of the road, american flag planted in its turret. I think of Lemmy in a Nazi uniform. This is the place where we must eat. We take a few photos and eat a healthy burger served by an Irish waiter obsessed with avocados.

Back on the road, entering a naked forest sprouting each side of the yellow line. We are driving carefully, we are nearing monster country. Red Dirt road is the name. This is what we always wanted. We get off the car and go round the back of the house. We let ourselves in, complying with the host's instructions. Inside it’s bathrobes and towels galore, cosiness and good hosting aplenty. Already searching for the hot tub. Wine is in the fridge. We’re on.

Montauk, 1975 — Mick Jagger, Catherine Deneuve, and Andy Warhol – Image by © Peter Beard

*Read the Selvedge Yard's article about the Stones in Montauk, 1975 

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