I think one of my favorite things to do is to think of my life as a movie that is in the process of being made. If things aren’t going so well, then at that point in my movie, it’s simply the main character’s struggle with the plot that has developed around him. But eventually of course, there is a happy ending.
WELL, THERE HAD BETTER DAMN WELL BETTER BE.
Last weekend I watched the movie The Rum Diary and I honestly couldn’t help from thinking that this movie was about my life. Of course, that is far-fetched, but never in my life have I watched a film and said to myself, “Oh my God, that’s almost exactly what my life was like while living in Montauk.”
The Rum Diary stars Johnny Depp, who naturally, of course, resembles me, and the movie is about Hunter S. Thompson’s job as a newspaper writer in the tourist town of San Juan, Puerto Rico. He lives in a place that is falling apart, he meets some crazy people, he drinks too much, and he engages in the constant struggle of trying to get serious news published in a tourist newspaper.
When I first moved back to the East End after college, I took a job as the Managing Editor of The Montauk Pioneer, which was the first newspaper that my Dad started in 1960, and to this day still operates out of the offices at Dan’s Papers. I also lived in Montauk, year-round, at 23-years-old, and met T.J. Clemente, who wanted to freelance write for the paper and who was going through a hard time in his life and needed a room to rent.
The two of us lived in a trailer in Montauk, which was constantly running into problems, and we very much made The Montauk Pioneer a reflection of who we were as people.
In the movie this is exactly what Depp’s character does, only it’s set in Puerto Rico, and the guy he lives with is a photographer at the newspaper.
I would advise anybody who has ever worked in publishing to watch this film, you will laugh at so many of the inside jokes in the movie that you won’t even know what to do with yourself.
The movie really made me reflect on that time of my life living out in Montauk. I was broke as broke could get. The paper was going through a difficult time as well, and I was constantly dealing with people in Montauk yelling at me for a story I wrote that they didn’t agree with. I even wrote the horoscopes for the paper, which is exactly what Depp’s character does. At the time, my greatest refuge was my sailboat. At the end of The Rum Diary, Depp’s character sails off to escape imprisonment.
I never had any problems with the law and certainly did not and do not drink as much as Hunter S. Thompson did, but I have got to tell you, this movie really brought back how I felt back then. Just a general sense of out-of-controlness was something that I remember very well, and that I had to sort of embrace the chaos.
I miss those days in Montauk sometimes, and I smile every time I’m back there. I’d say I still lead a pretty weird life as the online editor of danshamptons.com and as a staff writer for Dan’s Papers. Now I live in Southampton, and my life is certainly much more normal than my experience in Montauk as the editor of the local paper there.
I think we all have a movie out there that really speaks to us, the type of movie where we can say to ourselves, “That’s what my life was like.”
Mine is The Rum Diary, and I’m proud of it.
Don’t miss David Lion Rattiner’s take on the Hamptons every day in “Dan’s Daily”—only at Danshamptons.com.