LIFE AMONG THE STARS

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They wrapped up the third annual Hamptons International Film Festival the other day and I can tell you, it was none too soon.

There has never been such a crop of famous people no one ever heard of descending on East Hampton at one time. Roland the bartender at The Blue Parrot said that business was brisk but it took patience. One guy arrived at the door and announced, "I am a very important official of the festival and I want a table now."

They had no tables and no one knew who this guy was anyway. Then a woman came up and said that she too wanted immediate service. "My name is Erika. And make sure you spell it with a `k."' What these people must understand is that not even Richard Ryan, who is there almost every night, gets instant service at The Parrot.

Up and down Main Street there were lots of people wearing badges and talking into cellular phones and at the movie house the cops had set up blue wooden horses to handle the crush. In one line I counted 17 people, in another two. The third line was full of people, maybe a dozen, throwing kisses to people in other lines. A camera crew from the local cable TV station was there shooting footage of people that nobody knew who they were either.

Organizers of the festival were quoted as saying they expected 30,000 people to attend. I figure maybe 350 showed up. They say the Hamptons deal is swiftly becoming "the Sundance festival of the East." I'm sure this is so although we don't have Robert Redford or many mountains but the bluefish are running and the weather's been pretty good and up at the Pantigo farm on Montauk highway if there was no one there at the stand you picked out your Halloween pumpkins and left a couple of bucks on the honor system.

There are plenty of movie stars in the Hamptons like Roy Scheider and Kim Basinger and the Baldwin brothers and Steven Spielberg and his wife Kate Capshaw but you see more of them in the IGA grocery store in an ordinary week than you do at festival time.

They said Walter Matthau was here but I didn't see him, either. Down at Two Mile Hollow Beach, which they call "the alternative beach," because that is where middle-aged gay guys go to cruise the lads, trade was no brisker than normal. But maybe that is because the weather turned chilly and few of the lads were wearing their summer-issue Speedos.

We were having an election here and that nice Tony Bullock who's been town supervisor of East Hampton went off to run for even higher office and that took off some of the edge. But Bob Cooper, the town councilman who is forever suing the town, was running for re-election. I ran into Bob in front of Dreesen's grocery the other morning when I went to get the paper and made the mistake of asking him if he were still suing the town and how that sort of bothered me because I pay taxes here. He said yes, he was, and following 10 minutes of palaver, he pressed on me some legal briefs and such for me to read and report back to him my opinions.

So I had to do that this past weekend instead of watch football games but I feel pretty proud of myself for being such a good citizen.

The big excitement, I mean apart from the film festival, was that some local counterfeiters (allegedly so) were captured here in East Hampton in a house they rented. What tipped off the federals was that this gang went to the East Hampton public library (where Debbie the waitress from The Blue Parrot also works) and they took out how-to books about counterfeiting and used their real names and addresses.

So you can probably conclude this was not a high-powered international ring trying to de-stabilize our currency but just some folks trying to make a buck. Literally.

Two of the last pieces of farmland along Further Lane have been sold and two new houses are going up. I go over and sort of give the builders sour looks but this doesn't seem to discourage them and they keep right on pouring concrete and sawing and hammering on the old two-by-fours. One of the architects was very pleasant and showed me the plans and said it was probably going to take eight or nine months to finish. At the other building site one day there were pumpkins growing all over the place and the next a bulldozer was plowing them up along with the topsoil to dig a foundation. Which annoyed me because if I knew that was going to happen I would have gone in there at night and stolen some pumpkins and saved the money I left, on the honor system, at Pantigo farm.

Sudsy the gossip columnist for the weekly Independent newspaper was as usual doing an assiduous job taking notes and getting names of the rich & famous and at The Blue Parrot he heard that Tom Hanks had just left and was probably going down the street to shop and by the time Sudsy got to this other shop, they'd been alerted and they told Sudsy, yeah, Tom just left for a meal at another place. And when Sudsy got there they told him details of what Mr. Hanks ate at the counter.

So Sudsy came back to The Blue Parrot and reported that they were certainly correct about Hanks, that Tom was all over town and even eating at counters. Which is how the film festival is getting quite a reputation as "the Sundance....of the East" because we have motion picture stars like Tom Hanks in attendance.

But there have been no "Joey Buttafuoco sightings" this year as have been reported at past festivals.

As for the bluefish, I very rarely ever catch one and am just as happy about that because then you have to get the damned hook back and a big bluefish will take a finger, sure as look at you. But I got a good blue the other morning off the beach at Maidstone Park and got that rascal right up on the sand before he wriggled free and got away. Swear to God! You could ask Tom Hanks.

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