The well-heeled South Coast region of eastern Long Island (from Hampton Bays to East Hampton) is open and leafy with a nice settled vibe. Huge trees and big lawns, wealthy and low-key, no one out to prove anything. Route 27 or the Montauk highway is swamped with traffic 24/7, but as you drive along you’ll run into several food and fruit stands and every little town, it seems, has an old-fashioned, non-corporate ice-cream stand with a neon sign or some kind of mom-and-pop signage from the Leave It To Beaver era.
And then you leave Hampton Bays and drive in a northwesterly direction up 24 toward Riverhead. Five or so miles past Riverhead and you’ve crossed the Mason-Dixon line, and you’re suddenly in the general North Shore region with the whole vibe having turned corporate and the old-timey, family-run business vibe gone with the fucking wind. It’s really quite unattractive. The story of two Americas — the balmy, laid-back one that used to be and is preserved in the South Coast region, and the chilly, corporatized present-tense America as represented by the North Shore region.