It feels weird to be back in Binghamton after spending so much time on the Island. Even the rudest people seem polite compared to their LI counterparts. When people are angry, they are angry, when they’re happy, they are and they laugh. Most people I’ve met on the Island, especially adults, are emotionally flat, like they’re always hiding some dark secret that could destroy the world if revealed.
I guess it’s normal to be like that in a place where not much happens, to the point the media has to make up information to destroy the monotony of its existence. I heard about a shooting in Brentwood that never happened. Who knows how many of the things Islanders read on papers or see on TV are made up just to add some spice, to make their lives a little bit more interesting while they demonise the large immigrant population in Farmingville, tell their kids not to play with the “n****rs” at Lido Beach, wave their rainbow flags and proudly display their donkey bumper sticker but are terrified of their kids not being straight.
Unless you’re there to buy cigarettes or you know someone, the people on Poospatuck will be extremely wary of you. They don’t trust anyone, much less Islanders, and, hell, they do have good reasons.
In Amagansett, this (presumably Native American) man told me about the Montaukett, the land transfer fraud that Wyandanch signed and the Montauk Point claim. The story was sad and kind of pathetic, but some of his words stayed with me:
"They ravaged a homeland to build this place. You would think they’d make something great. They made a place most people ignore nine months a year. A fucking beach colony! Thousands kicked out so hundreds could roast under the sun and dock their million-dollar yatchs."
His statement might have been chronologically inaccurate, but the sentiment is valid and real.
All this land is stolen land, but some acts of theft are worse than others. White men stole Paumanok and turned it into a giant capsule of dullness and false security. A shadow of the City perpetually stuck in time. I don’t know what’s sadder: the fact that it’s stolen, or the fact that it was stolen for this.
Maybe the dark secret Islanders keep behind their dull smiles and almost plastic emotions is that they hate the place as much as the next person, yet they are prisoners of the “American Dream”.
It’s hard to escape from that.