The East Hampton TowniesAfter trying to buy the Blue Book at Bookhampton in East Hampton (they were "out" of the social register, but they'd take my number), we ran into this kind of scary bunch of kids hanging out outside of Starbucks. The ringleader—we'll call him Brian—sported an Iron Cross tattoo on his arm. Above it was written "Race..." and "Culture..." Underneath it, he said, he was planning to get "History..." added on. He had carved "FTS" into his calf. It stood for "Fuck the System," he explained. His friends, who ranged in age from 13 to16, nodded. "I was part of the system," said one sullen girl. "Me too," volunteered a younger boy named Justin, who turned out to be Brian's brother. The system, it turned out, was the juvenile detention system. Couples clad in short white Ralph Lauren shorts and salmon polo shirts looked at me and Amelia Bauer as we chatted with the locals. The kids stared straight back.

The East Hampton Townies

The East Hampton Townies

The East Hampton Townies

East Hampton has its share of year-round locals, 12.5% of whom live below the poverty line, according to the census. The kids were remarkably temperate about the New York summer invasion. "We don't have that many problems with them. They leave us alone and we leave them alone," said Justin. "But if someone comes up here and acts all 'gangster' well then there'll be a problem," said the soft-spoken girl next to him.

One of the kids, who actually turned out to be in his late 20s, asked us where we were headed next. "Wainscott," we said. He wanted a ride to Montauk. "Hitchhike," we suggested.

Leaning close to us he said, "Naw, man, that's not safe around here. I don't know if you're gay but there's a lot of them around here. You'll get in a car and all of a sudden you'll be lost and a hand is on your leg." Whoa, we thought; this is about to get awkward. Then we wondered: Why was a 29-year-old hanging out with 13-year-olds anyway?