Thursday, September 4, 2014

The never never land of Asbury Park

Thursday, September 04, 2014

It’s already days after our last visit to Asbury Park, and so, the details tend to mingle with previous visits.
I like to keep track of these things, because in retrospect, the details are sometimes important.
Traveling south in fair weather on Saturday, we ran into very little traffic – with the exception of the usual jerks, who treated the parkway like a raceway, weaving around slower moving traffic with the audacity of knowing no cop will catch them.
This trip solved one small mystery that has plagued me for a few weeks. During a recent trip, we found a detour off the highway between the parkway and the beach, a two block shift that oddly enough we did not encounter on the trip back in the dark.
This time I realized that we don’t take the same highway all the way back, but are diverted at a light, and that there are two entrances to the north bound lanes of the parkway. We get off on the northern most of these and encounter the detour, but on the way back, we access the parkway on the southern entrance.
Our goal this visit was to explore some of the side streets near Cookman Avenue, something of a disappointment since all of these are angled and the only real life in that part of the town is along Cookman or Main Street (where the city splits between tourist and poorer neighborhoods). We wound up returning to the boardwalk for a short stroll along the beach at a time of day when some of the poorer people occupied the area. This may be due to the fact that the beach becomes free after 6 p.m.
One important difference between this sea shore resorts and others like Sea Side Heights is the larger amount of people of color. Sea Side for the most part is an enclave of white people, a vacation spot for all those post World War II babies, who when life got tough in the northern part of the state eventually moved in mass to places like Toms River – explaining the hard right wing mentality of that part of the state.
This beach and its boardwalk tended to be mixed, and full of a different kind of while population, as if a retreat for the post hippie generation – a fact that made this even more attractive to me, even if this place lacked the memories the white enclaves had.
Unlike previous weeks, we saw no weddings on the beach or boardwalk, although I’m certain some must have taken place with the weather so fine, and we eventually settled into one of the eateries on Cookman where we had to wait only ten minutes for burgers and wraps as opposed to the hour and half projected wait we encountered during an earlier visit.
Then we went to The Saint for music, and ran into a comedy troupe which had run longer than expected. Comedy is always tricky, a matter of taste and timing, and this troupe largely reflected bar humor, less obnoxious than some, but filled with the same juvenile humor – which likely explained the large crowd that had come to see it, and why the crowd thinned significantly when the music finally started.
The four bands that followed included one that had some of the comedy troupe members, and this was also the least satisfying of the bands – partly because like the humor, the original material tended to have nothing of significance to say.
The other three bands we caught (we didn’t stay for all) varied in talent, but all were competent, most of them older, the saddest of which was the aging punk rock band (with a young female bass player) that tried desperately to recall the rage that had made punk rock popular. Another band was also of the geriatric variety, old men trying to relive their past as all old rock and rollers, successful or not, do.
The best was a hard core more or less heavy metal band so grungy, they seemed utterly authentic, rocking the house for their set until they had to step down to make room for the next band. I could have listened to them all night because they seemed so real.
All this extended our stay, though when we left, the staff thanked me for a story I had written about the club and the Hoboken bands that had played there the previous week.

I guess, I miss writing about music. It has been a long time. And so the trip back that night seemed like a trip back from Never Never Land, from a dream world to the harsh reality we all must face.

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