I doubt that many fans of Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, and Kourtney Kardashian overlap with fans of Vin Scelsa. Much to the chagrin of East End residents and visitors, the summer of 2014 was called by some the summer of the Kardashians. Might 2017 be the summer that Bayonne Butch invades the Hamptons? Will we see him and his wife Freddie walking down Jobs Lane?
Sometimes worlds collide for me. Legendary FM pioneer, Vin Scelsa has retired. Vin was my partner for a brief while during a radio show called “Live at Lunch” and was directly responsible for my longtime friendship and radio partnership with Pete Fornatale at Mixed Bag Radio. Vin was, and is I imagine (although I can no longer hear him prove it on the radio week after week), one of the most creative, intelligent, and inspirational people.
Regular readers of Hamptons.com expect to find an article in this space on landscape design, and see a few incredible photos of pergolas, pools, and patios. You might read an amusing (or insightful if I was doing my job) thought or two, on how an investment in your backyard living can pay dividends for years to come. In honor of Vin, I’ve chosen to do some free form writing.
This week, I wondered how many artists, musicians, painters, and writers have been inspired by the Hamptons landscape and our beautiful surroundings. In our business, we work for a lot of well-known people. Sometimes they impress me, sometimes they don’t; in much the same way that unknown people do. I value meeting my clients more than many of my contemporaries. I love hearing their story, sometimes getting to know them a bit, and often being inspired by the journey that led them to their beautiful part-time Hamptons summer home. Some make it clear that I’m a cog in the wheel that beautifies their backyard surroundings; some are far more personal and swap stories with me about our careers.
At Mixed Bag, I spent time with some of the world’s greatest songwriters and musical minds. I would sit in studio and listen to Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Weir, Pete Seeger, Roger McGuinn and countless others tell their story about their careers. The younger performers were often more into themselves than the veterans. One day, Neil Sedaka stopped by for a long session. He recounted the early days, played all of his hits, and was a true gentleman. When he was done playing and talking, he said, “Chris, I’ve been doing this for 50 years. I talk about myself, play my songs all the time. I’m actually more interested in someone else’s story. You have been around radio and been part of interviews with countless musicians. What’s your favorite story?” I told him about my day with Bo Diddley. I spent an entire day with Bo and he talked nearly nonstop. He spoke about his early days as a musician, his visits to the White House (meeting every President since Kennedy), and the invention of the legendary Bo Diddley beat.
I was about halfway through recounting my day with Bo, when Neil Sedaka stopped me and said his favorite story was also a Bo Diddley story! In the very early days of rock and roll, singers with chart topping songs would often tour together. Although egos may have been involved, there was a rule that the singer with the number one song would be the headliner. All others would be opening acts. Neil Sedaka told me that he was thrilled when he found out that he would be touring with Bo Diddley. He was less than thrilled when the promoter told him that “Calendar Girl” was the number one song and Bo would be playing right before headliner Neil took the stage. After a prolonged debate, Neil lost the argument and he would be closing the show. Neil told me, somewhat sheepishly, that after the debate, he went home to his wife Leba and said, “I hope Bo Diddley breaks his leg and can’t go on before I play.” Neil, even more sheepishly, speaking to me barely above a whisper said, “Wouldn’t you know that he broke his leg! I went on stage to a huge ovation proudly singing ‘(January) You start the year all fine, (February) You’re my little Valentine, (March) I’m gonna march you down the aisle.'” He then leaned toward me, and spoke in a slightly louder voice, and said, “And how they screamed!”
If I happen to meet with you to discuss your landscape options, please feel free to share a story about your career. It would be amazing if it somehow involved Bo Diddley! As for Vin Scelsa, if you see him wandering down Love Lane in Mattituck (he seems like more of a North Fork guy), he may not be able to resist the urge to share a story about Joey Ramone.