Nantucket, Barely a 'Part Time' Crowd for Rock

BOSTON — When my wife was a kid, she misheard the KISS song “Rock & Roll All Night” lyric. It famously goes, “I wanna rock & roll all night and party every day.” She heard it as “I wanna rock & roll all night and part of every day.” I mean, in our minds, that’s still a pretty good level of commitment to the life of rock. Even just part of every day seems a worthy goal now that I am 45.

But I still find myself caught between the rock & roll and multiple other worlds on a regular basis. I sell real estate in Lexington, Lincoln, and other western suburbs. Sure, I get some maturing rockers buying modest homes, but I get many folks buying and selling swankier digs and they tend to be running in different circles than I do. And I did not exactly grow up poor. But nothing prepares me for the rarefied air of Nantucket.

Each time I go, I am astounded by the consistency of that life’s (truly, deeply, profoundly) rich pageant: men in “Nantucket red” pants from Murray’s, whale belts, and open collared Brooks Brothers, and skinny ladies with perfectly blonde tresses flowing down over their Lilly Pulitzer sundresses, gliding across finely manicured, croquet-court-quality lawns at evening garden cocktail parties. It is rare when you see someone in something as shabby as even Banana Republic chinos or (gulp) jeans. Listen, I can be as cranky as anyone about the slob-ization of Americans on holiday, but that’s a costume party down there.

I was on the island this past weekend, invited to be a featured guest at the Nantucket Film Festival’s Late Night Storytelling. Other participants included such up-and-comers as Brian Williams, Anne Meara, Jerry Stiller, Tom Perrotta, and director Dave McLaughlin. The packed house of 250 people included Chris Matthews, and a lot of people with extremely white teeth and the sort of healthy glow that yacht-loads of aged money brings. This is not my typical crowd. I sensed that I should be reconsidering my story about getting strip-searched for drugs at the French border in Paris 20 years ago.

I managed not to collapse in a puddle of sweat, stammer, or otherwise embarrass anyone during my turn at the mic. I was just glad to be able to get a couple of laughs. But it was not my audience. This was not a “rock & roll all night,” or even “part of every day” crowd. But there were a few who knew the band and the story went fine. If I ever get the chance again, though, I will have a better ending, even if it means fabricating one.


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  • Greg Creedon

    You’ve obviously never been to Nantucket in winter or any off season for that matter. If you breeze in for an event like the film festival, run by a NYC company for an off-island crowd of swells. Next February, come down on a Friday afternoon and join the crowd at the Rose and Crown that night for the trivia competition. The next day join us for breakfast at the Downyflake where there will be no red pants. Saturday afternoon, head to the beach in any direction to feel the force of the North Atlantic in winter and that evening head to the Chicken Box for the pick-up bands that entertain who ever shows up. There’s no denying that in the summer it’s a mess down here with the wealthy and the priviledged. But we make money off them so we can continue to live another winter here.

    One quick story: my friend is an entertainer here. He was asked the other night what the winter was like this year. Actually, there was some unemployment, some migration, some weather, banks reluctant to loan, an uptick in domestics on the police blotter. Not great. The guy said, and he swears this is verbatim:”Well the hedges are trimmed and the tennis court is rolled so it all looks great to me”.

    • Bill Janovitz

      Hi Greg,

      Yes, of course there is the “real life.” I have been there offseason and been to the Box. And yes, I saw firsthand when a year-round natives making money off us. A Shoreline Taxi driver took us from ‘Sconset and dropped of two people at the Summer House on Fair street. They paid $23. When she took me another half mile to my hotel, I asked how much more it would be, thinking she would say it was paid up, or maybe $5 max. She answered “$23.” I said, “another $23?! From there to here? She started to mumble something about it being “each trip.” I laughed and said, “no way.” she said, Ok, $7. I gave her $10 for effort. Apparently she mistook me for a rich drunk. She was only half right.