I’m still effectively sequestered out here on Long Island, essentially squatting at my mom’s place in Quogue for the summer while wrangling the kids. We’re actually taking a break and going to Canada later in the week, but apart from that, I’m pretty much rooted in Suffolk County until it’s time for the kids to head back to school.
There are assuredly worse fates. While there’s a bit of disconnect out here — time moves at a very different speed than it does back in the city — I’m still managing to conduct my job search. I’ve had three interviews (all phoners) in as many days, encouragingly dispelling the notion that the job market drys up during this time of year. That said, I’m still a ways off from any firm offers.
In the interim, I’ve been reading voraciously. As previously mentioned, I tore through Billy Idol’s memoir and Patti Smith’s “Just Kids,” then proceeded onto “Mad World,” an oral history of 80’s New Wave (s’alright, but certainly no “Please Kill Me”) and am currently finishing up Sean Egan’s “Bowie on Bowie.”
There is only one (1) book store in the immediate vicinity, and I should probably be thankful to have even that (that being Books & Books in Westhampton). Time was when there were actually two warring book shops in that town, but Books & Books ended up being the last man standing. By this point, I have pretty much exhausted their selection of the type of crap I like to read (music books, rock bios, etc.) As such, I decided that I should go check out Southampton's Bookhampton, the seemingly only other book shop in goddamn Suffolk County (actually, I think there’s one in East Hampton, too, but that’s a long goddamn drive).
I was let off my leash for a bit yesterday, so I popped into the car (my mom’s crappy Ford Taurus … it has no air conditioner, but it does have a disc player!) and sped down Montauk Highway to Southampton.
To my initial horror, I discovered Bookhampton’s long-held spot in insufferably posh Southampton to be newly occupied by a juice place. Turns out, however, that they simply moved, albeit to a much smaller location. I’m guessing their probably less-than-robust sales were no match for their spiraling rent.
In light of this, I genuinely wanted to purchase something from them, but …. unfortunately … they just didn’t have anything I was looking for (although I came narrowly close to picking up Patton Oswalt’s new one).
I left empty-handed and ended up strolling around Southampton, a town without much to distract one such as I these days. This, however, was not always the case. At the end of Jobs Lane (kind of their main drag), I spied a store front that made my heart ache a little. These days, it’s a clothier's place of little distinction, but once upon a time, it was a Long Island Sound.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Long Island Sound was a chain of record/disc shops out here on Long Island (geddit? Long Island Sound!! Bahaha). During the 80’s, when I was similarly sequestered out here during my petulant teenage summers (wherein I’d make money by mowing lawns and washing dishes at Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa), I’d frequently blow my earnings on albums at either Westhampton’s branch or Southampton’s.
The shops in question weren’t anything special. Unlike my favorite record shops in the city, they weren’t staffed by bug-eyed rock geeks (like, er, myself), but they both managed to get a ripe crop of new releases in those days. It was in the Westhampton shop (just a burnt banana nut muffin’s throw from my dishwashing cell at the Barefoot Contessa) that I first spied a makeup-less KISS on the cover of Lick It Up (which I neglected to buy, having long since moved on by that point). A few summers later, it was at that Long Island Sound that I bought The Queen is Dead by the Smiths. It wasn’t exactly a hive of esoterica like SoHo’s Rocks in Your Head or Bleecker Bob’s, but it served my needs.
Back in Southampton in 2015, I stared at Long Island Sound’s former storefront at the bottom of Jobs Lane and the song below immediately came flooding into my head.
I still vividly remember a hot summer day in 1986, when my friend Rob D. (who had a car) and I drove to Southampton for no good reason. We stopped into Long Island Sound, and I was pleased to see that they’d gotten a new shipment of cassettes in, among them the most recent Samhain album, November Coming Fire. I bought in on the spot.
We ended up driving around Southampton and then back down Montauk Highway to Quogue to the incongruously malevolent strains of Samhain. To this day, I still associate the songs on that album with that hot summer day.
But, those places are all gone now.