The final leg of our Issue 8 trip took us to Montauk for our much anticipated cover shoot with three time Oscar nominee, environmental activist and all things to all men, nice guy, Mark Ruffalo.
For us here at So It Goes, this feature had been years in the making. We mean that literally. In a past life, we had worked on the production of You Can Count on Me (2000), a film that proved to be Ruffalo’s break-out role, and had since drunk-in his everyman charm in Zodiac (2007), The Kids are Alright (2011), Foxcatcher (2014), and Spotlight (2015). In a funny way, Ruffalo embodied so many of the filmic qualities our publication looked to provide a platform for, and when the opportunity to work together on this issue finally became a reality, we committed to make it work wherever we had to.
Somewhere amidst clean water activism, anti-fracking endeavours, stage and screen work, the soon-to-be So It Goes cover star found time to be a keen surfer, so the location decided upon was Montauk; the beachy idyll at the northern most tip of Long Island, made especially popular in recent years thanks to the hit HBO show The Affair.
The Hamptons has, over the years, perhaps shifted a little in the public perception due to its popularity – the charm and out-of-reach grandeur of the island penetrated and accordingly diluted by overcrowding and surging demand. Montauk, has, however been something of an outlier. It would be patronising to draw comparisons with the manicured perfection of some of Montauk’s neighbours to the south, but Montauk, despite having had its own recent renaissance, retains a charm and yes, untouched beauty, that is very, very hard to beat. It would be remiss of us not to note that, in recent years (as the plot of The Affair bears out) there has been a growing tension between the heartbeat of a community that includes local fishermen and seasoned surfers, and the moneyed weekenders from Manhattan, but crucially, Montauk still seems to retain a peace and warmth that makes it special.
Important to note that, bar none, the So It Goes team, and photographer for the feature, Gia Coppola were Montauk virgins, so the day of pre-production scouting Montauk, Amagansett and the surrounding area proved to legitimately be one of the most enjoyable days ‘work’ we’ve ever spent together as a team, seeing Montauk for the first time with thirsty, inquisitive eyes. Our base-camp for our time in Montauk was The Surf Lodge Hotel.
Previously an Irish dive-bar, the Surf Lodge has, since 2008, under the stewardship of Jayma Cardosa been radically transformed into one of the most desirable and sought after getaways on the East Coast. Having carved out a reputation for an excellent taste in live music from the Flaming Lips to Solange Knowles and Gary Clark Jr. (not to mention featured So It Goes artists, the Allah-Las) the Surf Lodge became equally desirable for its finely honed, expertly executed surfer-chic aesthetic.
The huge pillowy beds at the Surf Lodge are offset by slick, bass-heavy Marshall speakers, hanging wicker chairs and little decks, complete with netted yellow hammocks. There’s nothing overly elaborate here and technology is kept to an absolute minimum – after all, Montauk is all about the outdoors.
After initially having to tackle a fair few regrettable e-mails (doing it from the deck of the Surf Lodge’s white-washed restaurant with beautiful views of the lake made it a touch more bearable) our day’s scouting took us wherever our eye wandered. Predictably enough, the first of those places was the infamous, and extortionately priced Clam Bar at Napeague, just east of Amagansett, west of Montauk on the Highway. In the interest of transparency, just one bite into our first $26 lobster roll, we knew we’d be back. And back we were, ‘when in Rome’ stamped across our foreheads. From the Clam Bar, our scouting took us to the richly photogenic railroad, and even more richly photogenic lighthouse, finishing up at the famed rustic, weather-beaten beaches, all to just about make it back in time to the Surf Lodge for one of the most showstopping sunsets we’ve ever seen.
As with all three of our stays during this collaboration with Mr & Mrs Smith and their properties, the one deep regret we had, is that we couldn’t have stayed just a little bit longer. Always the way, we know. However, in the case of the Surf Lodge, there has never been a truer sentiment, felt or expressed. Montauk and the Surf Lodge felt like a little slice of heaven. Granted, it was the weekend after Labor day, and our experience of an off-season Montauk and an off-season Surf Lodge may have been a touch quieter than had we visited squarely in the middle of summer, however, this hotel represented such peace and tranquility for a very weary set of editors after a long and challenging month. With (another) lobster roll in hand (from the excellent Surf Lodge restaurant, Byron) beautiful views of the lake and wavy, relaxed reggae flowing along with (somewhat too freely) flowing Montauk storm cocktails, this, for us could not have represented a better end to what we hope you’ll all agree is our best issue yet.
Our thanks goes out to the very good people at Mr & Mrs Smith for being a part of this collaboration. Their help and hard work cannot be overstated and it is in no small part thanks to them and their beautiful range of hand-picked hotels, that the So It Goes team has been able to make Issue 8 a reality. You can browse Mr & Mrs Smith’s global range of hand-picked hotels from around the world here - https://www.mrandmrssmith.com/
If you’d like to see the results of all these shoots, from Millie Bobby Brown, Abbey Lee and Jay Duplass in LA, to Mark Ruffalo in Montauk, you can order the latest issue here.
Words and photos by James Wright