The Perfect Swarm: A Hamptons Weekend

On the evening of Saturday July 8, actor Alec Baldwin sipped from a plastic cup filled with orange liquid under a white tent that had been erected on the Sag Harbor pier. Dressed in a blue shirt, suit jacket, and some nifty leather moccasins, his sunglasses fairly embedded in his plump face, Mr. Baldwin was doing his part, as one of the Hamptons’ resident celebrities, to spiff up the annual benefit dinner and auction for Sag Harbor’s Bay Street Theater. Under the tent with Mr. Baldwin were model Christie Brinkley, comic Chevy Chase, singer Julie Andrews, playwright Terrence McNally, a small army of press and photographers and, of course, more than 600 benefit-goers who had paid as much as $500 for a ticket. At the moment, Mr. Baldwin was flanked by a handful of handsome, well-preserved women in their 50’s and he nodded his seriously slick head as cameras popped around him and silent auction bidders pointed, whispered and orbited.

It was a familiar sight for July in the Hamptons. Every week, the power elite who can afford to buy or rent on Long Island’s East End gather beneath a humid, sun-kissed tent in the name of the good cause to eat locally grown food and bid large amounts of money for a ride in Jimmy Buffett’s seaplane or a walk-on part in Sex and The City .

There, under the tent, juiced on vodka made from Long Island potatoes and reeling from the glare of Ms. Brinkley’s halogen-lamp smile, it’s possible to still feel the kicky charge of the Hamptons. But stray onto the streets of the Hamptons, past the restaurants, or worse yet, the parking lots and those who aren’t in on the party-whether they can’t afford it or weren’t invited-will tell you a different story. They will say that a tidal wave of frustration and anger has been building in the Hamptons for years.

For Mr. Baldwin, this was hardly a new concept. “I’ve seen it all before,” he said with an indulgent smirk. “People come here looking for some sort of cultural orgasm, and they don’t get it and they go home angry and bitter and full of rage.”

Asked to define a cultural orgasm, Mr. Baldwin thought about it, then leaned forward and in his raspy voice said: “It could be an orgasm of naturalism-the outdoors-or an orgasm of sports and recreation.” Then he laughed and added that a certain group came here seeking a more literal definition of orgasm. “This is a fabulous place to rut,” said Mr. Baldwin. “It’s the best rutting ground in the universe. Long may they rut!”

Perhaps because he is already a celebrity, Mr. Baldwin neglected to name the main reason that people come to the Hamptons. They come seeking not only an orgasm of culture but one of power, the kind that can be gotten by rubbing up against people like him and 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt and fashion designer Helmut Lang. In the 80’s and the 90’s, as the summer playground of the rich and powerful, it caught fire because it was a strivers’ safari. A place where someone on the C list could sit next to an A-lister at the Candy Kitchen and maybe advance to the B list.

But that’s not happening anymore. The A-listers are still coming out and the B-listers, like Jerry Seinfeld, are still buying houses here, but, quite frankly, they’re pretty much staying in those houses, as are the famous house guests. To pursue Mr. Baldwin’s orgasm analogy, those desirables have become harder to find than a G spot.

So, what are the Hamptons like in the Summer of ’00? On the weekend following the Fourth of July-a weekend when there was no particular reason to be there, except to be there- The Observer sent four reporters out to hang out on Long Island’s East End and to ask the people they encountered what they really thought.

JULY 7

6 p.m.: Hedges Lane, Bridgehampton

Actor Andrew Levitas was relaxing bare-chested on the front porch of his parents’ new house on Hedges Lane. He was sporting a black hat, a hemp necklace and white sneakers. His purple-tinted sunglasses sat on prominent cheekbones and masked the scars from a recent accident in the bathroom of his Hollywood Hills house.

“I’d like to say I was rescuing a baby,” confessed the strong-chinned Mr. Levitas, 22. He got his wounds, he said, when he tripped on his bath mat and fell three times, at around midnight a few weeks ago, and received 30 stitches for them. “I fell in my bathroom like a retard,” said Mr. Levitas, who swore that he was sober when the accident occurred. As a result of his injury, shooting was postponed for a new movie in which Mr. Levitas was appearing, and he headed east to recuperate in the Hamptons, where he has spent virtually every summer of his life.

On Sunday, Mr. Levitas had to catch a flight to Los Angeles for the July 15 premiere of his new movie, Psycho Beach Party , in which he plays a gay teenager. But Mr. Levitas is perhaps best known for his role as Cameron Wolcott, the tortured boyfriend of Claudia Salinger (Lacey Chabert) on Party of Five .

Mr. Levitas dates Rachel Nichols, 21, a model living in Paris. They talk at least twice a day, and see each other for two weeks every three months. “We’re so much in love, it’s disgusting,” he said. This weekend, he planned to hang out with his parents and his friends from the Dalton School, many of whom also stay at their parents’ houses in the same neighborhood.

“When I go out [in the Hamptons], it’s not to drink or do drugs. I’m on vacation, relaxing. It’s the easiest way to see everyone in one shot,” said Mr. Levitas as he gave a tour of his parents’ house. “I’m not in New York a lot. On the weekends I can see everyone I grew up with. It’s not like in the city where there are 10 different places to see people.” In the Hamptons, his friends from elementary school, high school, Hebrew school and N.Y.U. can always be found at Conscience Point or Jet East, in Southampton.

” Everyone walks through them. It’s kind of like a reunion every time I’m out. I’ll go out, kiss 500 people on the cheek.” “It’s like camp,” he said, except that “the bed is made in the morning” by a maid.

Mr. Levitas’ friends include publicists Lizzie Grubman and Samantha Phipps. “There are more eyes on Hamptons social life than there used to be,” he said, referring to the society pages . But, he said, “if the Hamptons are crowded, it’s not going to change who’s at my house … No one is going to fuck up and piss on my lawn.”

Mr. Levitas’ father, Robert, a semiretired real estate developer, and his mother, Laila, had owned houses in Westhampton and East Hampton for eight before buying their new house, with a screened-in porch and a pool in the backyard, last Christmas.

“This is the house where, in the future, my wife and kids will come,” said Mr. Levitas.

Then his mom, Mrs. Levitas, appeared in a doorway of her home and said, “Get moving, please!” He had to pick up the lobsters for dinner for 20. Mr. Levitas ran to his bedroom upstairs, threw on a faded light blue T-shirt with “Atlanta Fire Bureau” printed on the back and jumped into one of two silver BMW’s in the driveway. While driving, he said that “I became an actor not to get rich enough to have a house in the Hamptons.” He paused, then said: “I’ll inherit one anyway.”

6:17 p.m.: Bridgehampton train station

Chevy Chase, the comic actor and Maidstone Club member, stood by the pay phones as the Bridgehampton train station platform became a chaotic mass of people swinging luggage and looking for their rides. Mr. Chase, dressed in shorts, a polo shirt and sunglasses, was waiting for his own house guests. When asked if he noticed that the Hamptons seemed to be an angrier place these days, he said: “I’ve been coming out here since 1949. I’ve been angry since 1960.”

Mr. Chase walked through the parking lot to his BMW 735i and opened the trunk to stow his guests’ luggage. “When we’re at our house, nobody bothers us, we stay inside with our kids.” Before he got behind the wheel, Mr. Chase called attention to his pro–Al Gore bumper sticker. “Don’t mention that,” he said, quite seriously. The bumper sticker read, “Lick Bush.”

8 p.m.: The Grill restaurant, East Hampton

A tanned guy in a Lilly Pulitzer surfer shirt was attracting attention as he ate his chicken wings. He was flanked by two blondes and looked an awful lot like Rod Stewart. The rooster-haired man turned out to be Carmine Cassino, a landscape architect who for 25 years has pretended to be the pop star. Recently he impersonated him at a Fourth of July “boat function” thrown by artist Peter Max.

“I think there’s a little less pressure this year out here than other years,” Mr. Cassino said as, nearby, a group of waitresses argued over whether or not he was Mr. Stewart. “I’ve been out for the last four days. And I feel people are a little less tense.”

“People are getting sick of going to parties,” said Mr. Casino’s friend Liz Derringer, a publicist and the ex-wife of a real rocker, guitarist Rick Derringer. “People come out here and that’s all they do, it’s like a pretty New York City, and people are getting tired of it. They want to relax more.” She gave it a couple of years before it achieved some kind of burnout. “I just think it’s going to get too crowded and too crazy,” she said.

11:07 p.m.: Tavern nightclub, Southampton

Richie DiMatteo stood protectively next to the rope-linked stanchions outside Tavern. A bouncer and doorman at places like Chaos, Limelight, and Roxy in the city, Mr. DiMatteo has been working the Hamptons’ nightclubs for six years. Sporting a long blond ponytail and dressed in a black denim jacket, he unhooked the rope for every group of patrons who approached. Another doorman dispensed free drink tickets every few minutes. No one was kept out of the club.

Mr. DiMatteo explained the Friday-night scene at Tavern: “We have a lot of bridge-and-tunnel crowd.” He said that Saturday nights are more Hamptons based, and typically feature “a B-model type crowd.”

A gaggle of young women approached the rope. Three blondes and two brunettes in their 20’s in brightly colored tube tops said that they had traveled from Massapequa, Astoria and Staten Island. “It’s the only good place on Fridays!” one of the women enthused. The tallest and blondest of the bunch added: “I like it that the outside and inside [areas of the club] are two different worlds. I don’t know if that sounds too deep or serious.”

“Do not touch the rope! Do not touch the rope!” interrupted Mr. DiMatteo, just before unsnapping it and allowing the women entrance.

Asked if any celebrities might be expected later in the evening at Tavern, Mr. DiMatteo considered the question, then said “Probably, maybe … none.”

“Last week we had Joe Frazier, the boxer, down here. And last year, Carmen Electra and Calvin Klein. This summer I don’t think we’ve had any celebrities,” he explained. That seemed fine with Mr. DiMatteo. “I’ve gone to parties where there’s a lot of celebrities and … nobody’s having a good time. They’re doing business and seeing what they can get from each other.”

When Mr. DiMatteo was warned that there was a Rod Stewart imposter floating around, he said that he used to date a woman whose stepfather looked just like the rocker.

Mr. DiMatteo said that he thought the man’s name had been Carmine.

11:30 p.m.: Jet East nightclub, Southampton

Even though he was dancing alone, Ali Hashemi-Nejad, 21, appeared to be having the best time of anyone at the club. Mr. Hashemi-Nejad, a graduate of N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business and currently a 21-year-old banker at Bank One, had spiky dark hair and was wearing a tweedy Ralph Lauren jacket, a spread-collar white shirt and loose linen pants. After a few songs, he sauntered off the dance floor carrying his glass of Johnnie Walker on the rocks. Mr. Hashemi-Nejad, who said he was of Persian descent, estimated that it was “perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps” his fifth drink.

“What’s going through my mind,” Mr. Hashemi said, “is that, when you come out to the Hamptons, it’s like,” he paused. “It’s time to have fun. And it’s time to have a little excursion, a vacation, you know … and all things come loose here and what I’m trying to do is exuuuuude some of that energy.”

At that moment, a similarly well-dressed pal of Mr. Hashemi-Nejad instructed him to say something quotable. “You can’t be speaking in these aphorisms and these long-winded sentences,” he said. “Give him soundbites! Soundbites, you fucking idiot!”

Mr. Hashemi-Nejad started over with “a quote from Vladimir Nabokov, one of the greatest authors. He said: ‘Your adaptibility is an amazing substitute for your complete lack of culture.’ What he’s saying there is that your ability to come to Jet East, your ability to hang out in the club and do your business pales in comparison to what etiquette is supposed to be, right? This is just nouveau, this is bourgeois nouveau shit.” Then he said that this summer, after a long slough, the Hamptons were coming back.

JULY 8

12:17 a.m.: Jet East nightclub, Southampton

Three beautiful blond women huddled together on a red banquette. They were seated at one of the nightclub’s “bottle tables,” which meant that the fifth of the gin that they were sharing cost a minimum of $275 and that the women had to drop at least $325-gratuity not included-before the evening was over. “Sometimes you want to sit down so badly that it’s just worth it,” said Arianna David, 23, as she rummaged through her black purse looking for Marlboro Lights.

Twenty feet away at the bar a swarm of men in their late 20’s, in sports jackets and glistening hair, punched each other’s arms and yelled, “Yo, dude!” A group of even younger men with tight Ryan Philippe–style curls and T-shirts stretched by muscled chests glided past to get a glimpse of the comely trio who were beginning their weekend by paying 15 times retail price for a bottle of gin.

Ms. David, a Sarah Michelle Gellar look-alike in a black tank top, found her smokes and looked relieved. As she lit up, she said she wasn’t having a great time. “I’m not really into scenes, and the Hamptons is a big scene-pretentious,” she said. A media planner in Manhattan, she has always summered in Nantucket, but comes to the East End of Long Island to hang out with her friends. Ms. David pointed to one of her companions, Robin Kaye, and said: “Her grandfather is Walter Kaye, the man who got Monica Lewinsky into the White House.”

Then she leaned forward with a serious look on her face. “I would rather be on the beach in Nantucket with my boyfriend that I don’t have than be here dealing with this fucking shit,” said Ms. David. “I would rather be by myself.”

12:49 a.m.; Jet East, Southampton

Josh Escott, 24, works in sales for The Princeton Review . He shares a house with, he said, 60 other people in Quogue. He was enthusiastic about the scene, but he said that the pinnacle of the summer so far had had nothing to do with the action at bars or clubs, but with the moment last weekend when 25 people in his share house packed a whirlpool and “bonded.”

1:34 a.m.: Jet East

Norah Lawlor stood outside of Jet East, shivering slightly and holding a drink. A publicist who’s been coming to the area for the past five summers, Ms. Lawlor was at something of a loss in describing this season. “It’s a mixed summer. I think a little bit of Puffy, a little bit of … I don’t think anybody’s really … I think Ted Field did that big party, but … I think that everyone has their little niche.

She mused that next year she might go somewhere else. “There’s a high about coming here every weekend,” she said. “The Hamptons really is about the same hundred people and everybody wants to get on that list of 100.”

Ms. Lawlor went inside the nightclub and emerged with Ola Solomatina, a 20-year-old model from Siberia. Ms. Solamatina raved about the scene at Tavern. Midway through her spiel, a young man with big blond curls and sunglasses in a white untucked button-down shirt lurched toward her erratically. He yelled and jumped, pantomimed disgust and then came to her side.

“This is Addison,” said Ms. Solomatina, with pride. “He’s the person you have to talk to in the Hamptons.” Addison O’Dea, a Tavern employee, spoke quickly and with an accent. He looked 35 but said he was 21. He said that he hated the Hamptons. He said his reason for staying was “the money … Where else are you going to get 21-year-old sons of real estate magnates who are dumb enough to come out here and spend 500 dollars on a bottle of booze that cost us 13.99?”

1:10 a.m.: Jet East, Southampton

Andrew Sasson leaned against the host stand outside of Jet East, the nightclub he owns, and dealt with a crisis that had just erupted at the rope line. A large pack of men stood about 15 feet away behind the rope waiting for the honor of getting a table on the dance floor of the club, which looks like a dilapidated clam shack set down in a dusty parking lot.

Recently, the town of Southampton took Mr. Sasson to State Supreme Court for nuisance issues, Mr. Sasson agreed to move the entrance of the club to the back, build a six-foot-tall fence around property line, and construct a sound-deadening wall around three sides of the old club.

Mr. Sasson, who is 30, British, and was dressed in a black Hugo Boss suit and metallic grey shirt, looked over at the guys and shook his head. The doorman at the velvet rope approached him. Whispering into Mr. Sasson’s ear, he explained one of the guys who was trying to get in was the cousin of a regular. “He’s got all these guys and two ladies … “

“No,” Mr. Sasson said, not letting the doorman finish.

“He wants to buy a table,” the doorman continued. “Want to hit him for three bottles?” The doorman was referring to the practice of making club patrons who are seated buy bottles of liquor at inflated prices. A $20.00 liter bottle of Absolut vodka goes for $295.00. Penny pinchers can settle on a $10.00 Robert Mondavi Chardonnay for $150.00.

“Don’t take ‘em,” Mr. Sasson said, even though several tables in his club were still empty, and one of his best tables in the house was occupied by three sweaty men in their fifties who had been joined by three young women whom one Jet East cocktail waitress had identified with certainty as prostitutes.

The doorman explained that the hostess had already agreed to seat the party of men and the two women who were waiting behind the rope.

” She decided that?” Mr. Sasson said. ” She decided that? Than why did you come and ask me?”

The doorman-who was twice Mr. Sasson’s size-stumbled over his words. “The communication could have been much better,” he said.

“Stick them on the upper deck,” Mr. Sasson said, of the group that was about to spend in the neighborhood of $1,000 dollars in his club.

As the men bounced past him like they were about to go on Space Mountain, Mr. Sasson gnashed his teeth. “She should have never accepted that many gentlemen,” he said. “Once you are gone, I will give her a tongue lashing.”

Mr. Sasson went on about how to create a perfect room, how getting the power elite, the Keith Barishes and Ronald Perelmans into his club was just as important as bringing in the Leonardo DiCaprios and Martha Stewarts-who, by the way, had been to Jet East, and was, by Mr. Sasson’s estimation, “perfect.”

Just then, one of Mr. Sasson’s regular clients, a round-faced man, breezed past the rope. As he passed the host stand, Mr. Sasson grabbed his hand. “Ah, the good doctor!” Mr. Sasson said.” How’s the dental practice?”

The man lit up. “Always thrillin’, drillin’ and billin’,” he said.

2:05 a.m.: Jet East

A willowy longtime Hamptonite who requested anonymity says quietly: “You want the real story? The real story is the Hamptons are over.”

12:50 p.m.: The Candy Kitchen, Bridgehampton

Lucy Benfield, a 17-year-old waitress, saw a reporter’s tape recorder and a sly smile crossed her face. “Kurt Vonnegut comes in,” she said. “He’s a regular. He’s not a good tipper, though. No tip at all! I heard he had a fire in his apartment, so maybe it’s like payback or something.”

A tanned older gentleman named Leif Hope was wearing a purple T-shirt from the 1989 Artists and Writers softball game. He said that for the last 25 years he had managed the Artists team, which in August will square off against the Writers team in their annual charity game. He was gearing up for another tension-filled game. Last summer, one of the Baldwin brothers-he can’t remember which-plowed over Jay McInerney in a close play at home. Mr. McInerney was apparently rattled.

Inevitably, said Mr. Hope, some captain of industry will show up on game day wanting to play. “I had a guy, I won’t mention his name, but he was a businessman from New York,” he said, “and he showed up last time. I said ‘What kind of art do you do?’ He says, ‘Well, I fund documentaries.’ So I said, ‘I’ll tell you what, you can get out on the field and practice, but I’m not going to promise you the game.’ The first inning I’m making up a lineup, and he comes up and says, ‘Where am I?’ and I said ‘You’re not in this game right now.’ The fifth inning rolls around, and finally his daughter came up to me-she was about 20, with big tits-and she came up throwing her tits at me, saying, ‘You’re not going to put my father in this game? He’s the best player out there!’ And this guy was a mediocre player. I said, ‘Darling, I don’t think so. I got all these people waiting to get into this game.’ She said, ‘You suck!'”

Ms. Benfield returned to the table. She’d had a little talk with the boss about the clients. “I just wanted to tell you that Ron Hewitt ( sic) comes in here all the time,” she said, nodding her head. “And Calvin Klein was in this morning. I waited on him, but I don’t know what he looks like.”

2:15 p.m.: The Blue Train tobacco store and newsstand, East Hampton .

The owner, a blond, square-jawed man with a tattoo on his arm (raven sitting on a skull above the word “Nevermore”) stubbed out his cigar and lit a cigarette.

“I think it’s the most obnoxious summer we’ve had,” he said. “Just abusive people, everybody so nasty. It gets a little worse every year; this year’s exceptionally bad. It’s the general attitude, ‘We’re all so superior than anybody out here.'”

He had a message for these people: “Look, if you have all this money and if you’re on vacation, what the hell do you have to be unhappy about? You’re supposed to be out here to enjoy yourself. There’s no reason to be pushy, bitchy, whining, moaning, demanding.”

“The comedy value was much better last year-this year, it’s hostile,” he said, recounting the “cursing, screaming, and swinging” fights over parking spaces he had recently witnessed in the parking lot behind his store. “Last year was the comedy summer, this is the angry summer,” he said.

4:07 p.m. BookHampton, East Hampton

Four people stood at the front counter, thumbing through copies of The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook . The shiny yellow tome was the store’s most prominently displayed book.

5:05 p.m.: Ocean Avenue, Easthampton

Nichole Re, 16, and Lauren Dyner, 15, were walking up the street, away from Main Beach, where they had been sunning themselves. “The highlight of the Hamptons is bars and clubs, which we’ve not been able to attend yet,” Ms. Re said. She was barefoot and wore a cowry-shell choker. A healthy swath of bikini cleavage peeked from under a tight grey tank top, and she had painted her eyelids with iridescent blue eyeshadow. She looked popular. She said she lived with her dad, who owned a house in Southampton.

Boyfriends?

“Well I have a boyfriend, and she’s with somebody,” Ms. Re said, pointing at Ms. Dyner.

“I do not!” gasped Ms. Dyner. She was a glum little Wednesday Addams type, who goes to high school in Livingston, N.J. She has been meeting her friend Ms. Re in the Hamptons since they were tykes. Her parents rent.

“Last night we went to a party at Indian Wells,” said Ms. Dyner. “It’s a beach down the street.”

“There’s like a huge bonfire, and there’s like millions of kids around it, and then there’s millions of cars, so that when the police drive up, they can’t see anything,” said Ms. Re. “It’s all dark and stuff. It pretty much goes to like 4 or 5 at night. People put their stereos on and you can just hear the music and the ocean.”

Much romance for the young set in the Hamptons?

“Definitely,” said Ms. Re. “It’s like a summer fling. You meet people and hook up with them.”

“One time, we like, snuck out, around, like, one, and we came back at five, and my friend Jesse was so drunk and so retarded,” said Ms. Dyner, “and like, she sat on a chair, and like whoosh, she peed all over it.”

Ms. Re piped up. “Like, you meet all these guys on the beach, and it’s just absolutely crazy, and they’re like really good-looking and they’re all like surfer dudes who like to surf and listen to Sublime, and they have everything in common that you do, and it just clicks because the scenery is so perfect, the waves, the stars, the music,” she said. “There have been times that I’ve gone to the beach and met guys and we’ve talked the whole night, and ended up hooking up at the end of the night. I remember trying to wait for the sun to go down on the beach so that the boats couldn’t see us. This was with my boyfriend. I don’t have any sex with anybody else but him.”

Is there a Hamptons bad girl?

“This girl Crystal …” said Ms. Re.

“… She’s a bitch and a slut and she’ll fuck anything that walks …” said Ms. Dyner. “She lives in Easthampton. She’s sixteen. I things she’s fucked 30 people this summer.”

“And Jennifer Lopez is the biggest bitch in the whole wide world,” said Ms. Re.

“I hate her,” said Ms. Dyner. “Last summer, my friend called us on the cellphone and was like, ‘Oh, come to Puff Daddy’s party. Wear all white, blah, blah, blah.’ And we went from a beach party to her house, and we put on rags, we put on her curtains . I wore a tanktop as a skirt, because we didn’t have any white clothes. And like, we got there, and I met Puff Daddy and Jennifer Lopez, and I asked her to take a picture of me and Puff Daddy, so we got the picture, and of course it didn’t come out, she forgot to put on the flash, and she’s a dumb little bitch.”

6:15 p.m.: Alex Lasky’s Saab, Bridgehampton

Alex Lasky, 28, a filmmaker preparing to launch a Web site providing footage from night clubs and parties around the world, drove his black Saab from B. Smith’s restaurant in Sag Harbor to a book party in Bridgehampton. His brown hair was gel-spiked and he was wearing a washed-out pink button down shirt, white cargo pants and green tinted aviator Oliver Peoples sunglasses. His girlfriend of three years, Patricia Herrera, 26, a fashion editor at Vanity Fair and the daughter of designer Carolina Herrera, rode shotgun in a white tank top, jeans, leather sandals and diamond stud earrings.

They both grew up summering in the Hamptons-Mr. Lasky used to show horses in the annual Hampton Classic tournament. Both are also in this month’s Hamptons Magazine’ s “The Little Black Book”-Mr. Lasky is described as a “mover and shaker,” “social peacock,” with “skeletons in the closet”; Ms. Herrera is a “great beauty,” “bon vivant,” “night owl” with a “trust fund.”

This summer, for the first time, they decided to forgo their parents’ Hamptons homes and rent a house in Watermill with a few friends: actress Lisa Ling; model Carmen Kass and her boyfriend, publicist Richie Akiva; and Samantha Phipps, part owner of a public relations firm.

Mr. Lasky explained his Saturday nights.

“I’ll go to Conscience Point or Tavern or Jet East, get a table, get a bottle, have a drink … until Slim Shady comes on and then you get up and then sit down until Slim Shady comes on again, and then you stand up and leave,” he said. He comes to the Hamptons, he said, to “get away from it all.”

Over the July 4th weekend, he had filmed a football game sponsored by Sean (Puffy) Combs, Jay Z and Russell Simmons. A promo for Mr. Lasky’s site, bthere.net, ends with Puff Daddy telling the camera, “You’re watching bthere.net. What’s up motherfucker?”

6:30 p.m.: 418 Mitchells Lane, Bridgehampton

Alex Lasky and Patricia Herrera drove up to the home of author Ellen Wright whose book Bridgehampton Weekends: Easy Menus for Casual Entertaining was being fêted by Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman and 60 Minutes executive producer Don Hewitt and others. A valet took the keys and the couple was ushered onto a waiting golf cart. The drive to the house took less than 30 seconds.

The couple went for the guacomole and chips. Mr. Lasky unsuccessfully tried to convince Ms. Herrera to drink a glass of white wine. (The rail-thin couple claim they eat all the time and never exercise). The guests were more the age of their parents . This was Ms. Wright’s fifth book party. The Vernon Jordans had thrown her a party in Washington, D.C., and the Tom Brokaws had one in Manhattan. But chances are those parties could not compete with this one in the realm of casual wear. There was a gentleman who looked to be close to sixty wearing a pair of white Capri pants. Mr. Hewitt seemed to have borrowed Dan Rather’s little Desert Storm outfit: He was wearing a brand-new-or at least immaculately maintained-khaki safari vest over a dark blue shirt, with a pair of blue jeans that had been pressed to have a crease. He topped the outfit off with enormous, Swifty Lazar–sized sunglasses.

Nobody’s jean crease could compare with Mr. Zuckerman’s, though. His creases looked sharp enough for him to be able to do a little hedge trimming. And the jeans themselves! He was sporting perhaps the very last pair of an endangered species: stone washed blue jeans with … pleats. His outfit was completed by a heavily starched white shirt, with Member’s Only–style epaulets and a silver studded belt.

6:40 p.m. Bay Street Theater benefit; Sag Harbor.

Joan Jedell, the photographer, writer, editor-in-chief, publisher, and owner of The Hampton Sheet , was walking down the wharf toward a big party tent. It was he first of many pit stops. Ms. Jedell probably attends more parties than anyone else in the Hamptons. Since 1998, she has filled her bimonthly magazine with party pics, party writeups and celebrity interviews.

Inside the cocktail tent, Ms. Jedell got a drink and kept a lookout for famous arrivals, her camera slung around her neck. She looked around. “It’s a little early, let’s see,” she said. Alec Baldwin arrived wearing black sunglasses. “Alec, you look like a movie star,” Ms. Jedell said as he walked by. A stooped, white-haired man entered the party and immediately grabbed the elbow of a publicist. “Where’s the bar?” he asked. She waved him toward the booze. “Thank god,” the man muttered. “Only reason I’m here.”

7 p.m. 74 Winding Way Road, Watermill

Alex Lasky parked his Saab and walked by a gated pool and up some porch steps, where he was greeted by the house’s five dogs, including his German shepherd, Echo. His girlfriend, Patricia Herrera, ran upstairs to their bedroom. Mr. Lasky started preparing the food he had bought earlier that day at Citarella in Watermill. He took off his shirt while marinating red meat in garlic and herbs.

7 p.m.; Bay Street Theater benefit, Sag Harbor.

Actor Roy Scheider, star of Jaws, was sipping white wine at the bar and explaining the Hamptons. “It just seems to invite more people, just more people,” he said. “I wonder if it’s going to burst. Saturation point. Maybe the bottom of the market has to fall out. The most attractive thing about the Hamptons, I think, is that it tries to stay low- key, and finds it impossible. Because there are too many influential and wealthy people. There are too many movers and shakers and from them you can get money and you can get things done, so this is a good place to come and get things done.” He admitted it was good to be famous. “Listen, it’s not difficult to accept a lot of love,” he said. “It’s easy. Believe me, it’s not a big burden.” Still, the Hamptons have him worried lately. “I noticed people are ripping off my beach fences and making firewood out of it,” he said. “Now that’s really a lot of gall.”

Chevy Chase peered disinterestedly through large sunglasses and shook hands with a fan, narrowly avoiding the distended belly of one a flock of pregnant women milling about the tent. He said the Hamptons sometimes felt like “Woodstock after the concert.” “It’s not so bad for me,” he added. “I don’t drive to Southampton every weekend. I don’t run to town every minute. I can stay at home with my kids in the house and be perfectly fine.”

The celebrities were beginning to take refuge in the adjacent dinner tent. Joan Jedell started to follow, but a stocky, short-haired female security guard ran interference. “Can I ask you….?” the security guard said, finishing sentence with a two-handed shoving gesture.

“Don’t you think you’re a little unnecessarily pushy?” Ms. Jedell asked.

7:25 P.M. Bay Street Theater benefit, Sag Harbor;

Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Photo op! Joan Jedell thrust her drink into the hands of the nearest male, Josh Sapan, president of Rainbow Media and a left-wing activist. Mr. Sapan said he’d recently left the Hamptons for Shelter Island. “I think people here are on the verge of nearly spontaneous murder, precipitated by excessive wealth coming in unanticipated ways,” he said, laughing.

Christie Brinkley and her husband Peter Cook were about to slip into the dinner tent. But Ms. Brinkley let go of her husband’s hand at the chance to reveal what was different about the Hamptons this summer.

“Everybody’s joining the Star Foundation,” she said, eyes beaming. “The movement to close the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. The Millstone Nuclear Power plant sits 11 miles off the shore of Long Island and Long Islanders haven’t been very aware of it because we’re one mile outside the evacuation plans. But in the past year, people have really become aware of it, everybody’s joining forces, so we’re going to clean up the environment out here in the Hamptons, keep it as beautiful as it is, and make it a safer and healthier place.”

Had she seen anyone explode in rage this summer? “Oh, the parking lot , East Hampton!” she said. “You have to avoid that area. It’s all the citiots,” she said, coining a term to connote `city idiots.’ “You know, the citiots get in there and they bring their city attitude instead of, like, easing off.” Her husband suggested it was time to go join “Alec”.

“I can spot a celebrity’s vibes from the back of my head,” Ms. Jedell said. “Oh, I can feel them in the room. I can see them under the hats, under their glasses, with no make-up, looking like a rag.” She marched over to her white Mercedes Compressor. She opened her trunk and fished out a 1999 issue of Hamptons Sheet , with John Kennedy Jr. on the cover. For her covers, Ms. Jedell photographs a subject, then uses a computer to colorize it.

“This came out the day he died,” she said. “It was distributed while he was in the air on Friday night, and then Saturday, when the news was heard, it was all over the Hamptons, became a collector’s item, and they hoarded them.”

8:15 p.m.: 74 Winding Way Rd., Watermill

Publicist Richie Akiva arrived at the house he shares with Alex Lasky and Patricia Herrera. He brought Mike Heller, 23, who works for his father, Mark J. Heller, at his law firm Heller & Heller by day, and by night organizes the VIP table seating for Jet East and Conscience Point. With them was Helly Nahmad, who works for his father’s art gallery in the Carlyle Hotel. One very young blonde model, who said she was in town from Montana for a fashion shoot the next day in Montauk, said, “I was driving Helly’s Mercedes out here and it was soooo nice, it was like, Oh my God!” No one responded to her, even when she repeated the comment about the Mercedes 15 minutes later. Then she said, “I’m so hungry, all I had today was like those eggs this morning.” When the models realized that Mr. Lasky was still marinating the meat, they left to get some pizza.

Screwdrivers were poured, Marlboro Lights were smoked, and tiny silver Motorola cell phones-the brand new V series-trilled and were answered.

Ms. Phipps, wearing a white tank top, jeans and stilletto heels, answered hers. “Britney Spears just got engaged to the guy from ‘N SYNC!” she announced as she wrapped potatoes in aluminum foil.

Mr. Heller and the blonde model got into a little tiff over just who stuck whose tongue down whose throat a previous weekend; Mr. Heller said the model had initiated the kiss after he told her that his parents had a house in Southampton on the beach . The dispute seemed to end when Mr. Heller said that he was a third year law student (at Cardoza Law School). “I didn’t know you were a lawyer!” cooed the model, who a few minutes later climbed onto his lap.

The actor Ed Burns showed up with his brother and a few attractive young women at around 9:00 P.M. He introduced himself as “Eddie” and slinked off to a porch overlooking a large field, where he sat with one woman by a tikki lamp.

At about 9:15, some of the party, including all the models crowded around in the den, watching bthere.net’s live webcast of Brazilian super model Giselle during a fashion shoot. She was wearing shiny black shorts and dancing down a cat walk.

“I’ve never seen her dance before,” said the blonde model.

A brunette model with a foreign accent asked, “What is zee area code for Montauk?” Someone told her, and she chanted “631, 631, 631″ trying to memorize the numbers.

8:30 p.m.: Joan Jedell’s Mercedes; Sag Harbor.

Ms. Jedell pushed a red button and a female voice told her what street she was on and how to get to Route 27. “Isn’t it scary?” Ms. Jedell said. She cranked up Bryan Adams and started driving fast. “I love speed,” she said. She pulled into Wolffer Estate Vineyards in Sagoponack, where the James Beard Foundation was hosting a dinner. In the parking lot, a photographer named Steve Sands came over to Ms. Jedell’s car to say hello, but she didn’t want to talk to him. He was chatting through the car’s passenger window. She hit a button and the window started to go up. “Put your hand in, you’re going to lose your hand, bye!” she said.

“Don’t be fucking rude, Joan,” he said through the glass.

“Oh, I can’t stand that guy!” she said, laughing.

In the parking lot, two partygoers were placing two goodie bags in the trunk of their car; then they went back to the party for more.

Ms. Jedell talked about playing tennis with Vitas Geraluitis, and photographing him, on the day he died. “I played tennis with him that day, in a clinic,” she said. “And I went to a party and I said, `Where’s Vitas ? He’s usually here.’ I had just gotten the film back and I’m listening to the TV that he died. And they put me on A Current Affair. So why am I there when they die?”

After dinner, Ms. Jedell pet a few horses, then walked back to her car. She’d forgotten to take pictures at the party. “I’m never off duty,” she said, surprised at herself. “My camera’s with me all the time. I even photographed a person that just killed themselves. I had my camera when someone jumped out a window and killed themselves in the city. I photographed it.”

10:45 p.m.; Nick & Toni’s, East Hampton

Mike Maniscalzo, a musician who lives in the East Village, plays in a band called Ritalin Boy, and looks quite a bit like Ricky Martin, was finishing his meal at the bar of Nick & Toni’s. He was shouting into a cell phone. “Rod Stewart! Rod Stewart’s there?”

When he finished his call, Mr. Maniscalzo said that a friend of his, a manager at a restaurant called Easthampton Point had called to tell him that Mr. Stewart was in the restaurant.

The Observer asked him if his friend was certain that it was actually Rod Stewart, and not a guy named Carmine Cassino.

Mr. Maniscalzo said that his friend had gone up and said hello, and that there was no possible way that it could have been anybody other than Mr. Stewart. (A representative of Mr. Stewart said that the rock star was out of the country when Mr. Maniscalzo’s buddy spotted him at Easthampton Point.)

Mr. Maniscalzo, who said he was a Nick and Toni’s regular, said that the restaurant was a good place to spot the famous. “I’ve seen a lot of people in this place,” he said. But when asked to give a few examples, he seemed to freeze up. “Gene Hackman, a long time ago” he said, finally. “That’s the only one I can remember. But that was years ago.”

1:30 a.m., Conscience Point, Southampton

Britt West, a manager at the club, was dressed all in black and armed to the hilt with walkie-talkie, headset, and beeper. He shouted over the noise, “Christina Greeven of Mahattan File is the only interesting person here. We usually have a much better looking crowd than what’s here, a more select crowd.”

2 a.m., Conscience Point, Southampton

Samantha Phipps, Richie Akiva, Alex von Furstenberg and socialites-in-training Nicky Hilton, Charlotte Ronson and Eleanor Lembo were partying in the VIP room to hip-hop music. The party was promoting Manhattan File ‘s summer issue. Publisher Christina Greeven, 27, came with her boyfriend, Chris Cuomo, the weight-lifting son of former New York governor Mario Cuomo.

Ms. Greeven, who has summered at her parents’ house in Southampton her entire life, picked Conscience Point for her party because she thinks it’s “the hot spot this summer…the place where everyone goes first.” She said the routine of “everyone” is to start the evening at Conscience Point, head over to Jet East and end up at Tavern just before dawn.

2:30 a.m., parking lot, Conscience Point

Chris Means, the general manager for Float nightclub, waited for the valet to bring around his Mercedes Compressor. He was wearing a black silk Armani drawstring suit and Prada shoes. He stood with three women, one of whom, Claudia Mendes, was wearing a black diaphanous slip dress with a red rose planted centrally on her amply exposed cleavage. Mr. Means said this was his first full summer in the Hamptons. “I am, as an African American, very surprised that there are a lot of other African Americans,” he said. “It’s very nice. Especially with the whole Tiger Woods, Venus and Serena thing going on. We’re acclimating ourselves into country club sports and country club nightlife.”

But he warned not to have high expectations. “When you come out here you’re going for a different monster, so don’t expect too much. Expect smaller places with a lot of people and everyone trying to dress to impress and that’s it. And you’re going to spend an arm and a leg.”

July 9

3:20 p.m; Main Street, Southampton

Artist Ross Bleckner and designer Calvin Klein stood in front of a store called The Fudge Company on Main Street in Southampton. While a smiling animatronic baker in the window stirred his bowl of fake confection, the Observer tried to ask Mr. Klein about his visit to the Candy Kitchen the previous day.

The designer looked uncomfortable even though his eyes were hidden by sleek, opaque shades. “Oh, I wasn’t there,” he said.

When it was pointed out that a waitress had observed him there, Mr. Klein finally replied, “I can’t remember.” Then, as he and Mr. Bleckner walked briskly away, Mr. Klein said over his shoulder: “Have fun.”

4:06 p.m.: Main Street, Southampton

A 22 year-old blond Ordinance Enforcement Officer walked her beat on Main Street in Southampton. She wore Oakley sunglasses, and had her cop hat pulled down tight on her head. “I’m 22, but I feel 45,” said the woman, who requested anonymity. “I’ve aged a lot over the past couple years.” She is a Southampton native, and studies Physical Education at St. Joseph’s college in Patchogue, and she sounded like she was worried about bigger things than her regular purview of enforcing Southampton’s many ordinances: telling men that they can’t walk around town shirtless, and snarling citidiots to move out of illegal parking spaces.

“It’s a whole change of attitude,” said the officer. “It’s gone from more of a laid-back, friendly `Hey how you doing’ attitude to an `Oh well, I’m only out here for the weekend and I want this and I want it now’ [mentality]“. Based on the problems that have occurred over past couple summers here”, she said, as well as the “fact that we have so many big names out here too, everybody’s kind of got that feeling that something’ s gonna happen.” She looked both certain and amused. “Nobody really knows what or who,” said the officer. “When Puff Daddy was driving through here all the time last summer, everybody would duck jokingly. We work three, four people on a road and the person at the end of the road would yell ‘Puff Daddy driving!’ and he’d duck and everybody would know who it was coming down the road.” She smiled and added: “We do these little things to keep ourselves entertained.”

5:05 p.m.; The Grill, East Hampton

Matt, a 23-year-old waiter who’d served Kate Capshaw Caesar salad last week, pulled a chair up to the outside tables and described a memorably unpleasant run-in with one of his civilian customers. Matt, who requested that his surname be withheld, said that he’d recently waited on a vacationer and his daughter, neither of whom were happy with their outside table. When shown to his seat, the patron had turned to Matt and said “Is this the best you can do, shithead?” On leaving the restaurant, the patron, his daughter in tow, addressed Matt by grabbing his crotch and saying, in reference to the tip he did not leave, “Here’s your five bucks.”

Matt, who once had been through an intensive two-week training program at Disney’s Magic Kingdom in Florida, lost all his ingrained customer-service cool. “I started cursing him out,” he confessed without remorse.

A sociology major at Stony Brook College, Matt called the Hamptons, “the unhappiest place on earth” and wondered why “everyone out here is so miserable.” He scoffed at the summer people, noting that most of them had never waited on a table or stood behind a deli counter. He dismissed them as “people in a rush to go nowhere.”

A self-confessed former “rich prick” whose father lost his money in the 1987 crash, forcing the family to live year-round in their old Hamptons summer house, Matt said that he entertains a revenge fantasy that a huge hurricane will wipe out the property and “teach these people some respect.” He also revealed a personal fantasy: he’d love to have $30 million dollars with which to buy up all the property in the Hamptons, raze the buildings, and replace them with trees and wildlife. Actually, that’s about what Jerry Seinfeld paid for his house in Amagansett.

As Matt spoke, Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” began playing through the Grill’s speaker system. When asked if he’d seen Mr. Stewart at the restaurant on Friday night, Matt looked across the table warily and said: “You guys know that wasn’t really him, right?”