CROWLEY THE DIABOLIST

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Another summer in the Hamptons climaxes this weekend with the traditional running of au pair girls along Further Lane.

But this is an annual event and there has been much more, everything but the "first sighting" of Jerry Garcia since his death.

Since Memorial Day Hamptons folks have been attending cocktail parties and trying on clothes at Ralph Lauren's shop and attending screenings and buying veggies at Jerry Della Femina's Red Horse and rollerblading and sampling cheese and lugging about bottles of designer water. You cannot walk a hundred yards in East Hampton without a litre of Evian. You'd think people were setting out across Arabia's "Empty Quarter" with T.E. Lawrence the way they cling to their water bottles.

There has also been the odd bout of ill-humor. Mrs. Lawrence (no relation to old T.E.) has put up for sale "the house from hell," for $14 mil! This is the beachfront monstrosity she erected a few years ago that effectively cuts off the beach view of Herb Ross and Lee Radziwill. A number of us are getting up a purse to finance its demolition.

And we have people cutting one another as Ford Madox Ford once did to Belloc in a Paris cafe to impress Hemingway. Except that Ford got it wrong and cut somebody who wasn't Belloc at all but was instead Crowley the diabolist.

In those early days in Paris (which sound to me a lot like East Hampton today) Hemingway wasn't quite sure of the protocol. "Tell me why one cuts people."

According to Hem (see "A Moveable Feast"), Ford explained, "A gentleman will always cut a cad."

Intent on getting it right, Hemingway asked, "Would he cut a bounder?"

"It would be impossible for a gentleman to know a bounder," Ford Madox Ford said.

I would like it understood that in East Hampton we have both cads and bounders.

The best cutting this summer has been Jerry Della Femina's cutting of PR woman Peggy Siegal who neglected to invite him to something, I forget what. Maybe a movie. Here we have the richest people in the world and they own studios and have their own projection rooms and if you don't invite them to a lousy screening they take to their beds with the vapors. Or they cut people. Since I am always getting things wrong (I, too, would surely have taken Crowley the diabolist for Belloc!), it may be that Peggy cut Jerry. I would appreciate it if anyone knowing the precise truth would notify me.

We were supposed to get a hurricane but it got lost at sea. Then we had the Westhampton brushfires. We also had the Artists & Writers softball game behind the A&P. According to Leif Hope who operates the game, Donna Karan actually came to the game last year but it turned out she was only looking for her dinner guests.

Which will give you a fair idea of the celebrity of this game. It is a marvelous opportunity to gaze at various Baldwin brothers and see Dick Cavett in knee socks and look upon Uma Thurman. Hemingway would have loved it (though I cannot speak for Belloc or Ford Madox Ford) having all these writers and artists and beautiful women lounging about and sweating, sort of how it used to be at the Dome and the Select and along the Boulevard Montparnasse. So many writers turn up for the game you may sit for nine innings on the bench and never get a turn at bat. But publisher Mort Zuckerman and "superagent" Sam Cohn of ICM always pitch. They say this is because they can get the ball to the plate without a bounce; others insist it is because they are richer than the rest of us, even George Plimpton and Ben Bradlee.

To my knowledge T.S. Eliot has never played in this game.

While the hurricane was still frolicking out there and kicking up the waves, I kept my canoe in the garage. I capsize very nicely thank you without help. But I took an old rod from the hall closet and went up to Maidstone Park where they said the snappers were running in that fast water between Three Mile Harbor and Gardiner's Bay. When I got there it was sunny with a swift tide and birds working the water and here and there a school of minnows broke the surface with snapper blues chopping at them.

So I cast out into the flow a few times and on the fourth cast my line parted and I lost the one lure I had. Perhaps this was due to the fact I hadn't had that rod or line out of the hall closet since the second Reagan administration. But I was so embarrassed and there were other anglers along the beach I continued to cast for a while, faking it, with no line and no lure.

Then a little boy with a scoop net the size of a badminton racquet came along and stood there staring at me and I told him to get the hell lost. I hate it when little kids come along and watch you make a fool of yourself. Other than that it was nice standing in the cool water in the sunlight and watching the snappers and the cormorants and gulls. That night over a Pacifico beer at The Blue Parrot I lied, telling Richard Ryan and Roland the bartender I'd actually had a few bites. Next morning, as the hurricane pulled away, the humidity went with it and we had the fresh cool that hints of September. This put me in such a good mood I could almost forgive Senator D'Amato for having visited East Hampton.

Though I was saddened to read in The New York Times of the passing of Honeychile Wilder, of whom it was said that Conde Nast used to send his limo for her and that she sat next to George Gershwin on the piano bench (this I sort of doubt) when he composed "Porgy and Bess."

All of this was still very much with me on the Monday when I strolled up into town to catch the 9 a.m. jitney to Manhattan, to the world of grownups and schedules and suits, and then I spied this wonderful ancient red Buick ragtop with the top down and two American flags fluttering bravely on the front bumper and an elegant old party behind the wheel wearing a pith helmet.

Hemingway had Belloc and Ford Madox Ford but did he have pith helmets and rag tops? As I boarded the bus I wondered, could this have possibly been a sighting of Crowley the diabolist?

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