Asbury Park. December 27, 2014.

I’ve still got my panties in a twist over my malfunctioning comment section. So much so, that I haven’t felt like writing anything. Don’t roll your eyes at me. You’ve got irrational hang-ups, too. The commenting give-and-take makes it all worthwhile. The WordPress wonks aren’t as enthusiastic about fixing it as I thought they’d be. Meanwhile, here’s a photo essay.

We took advantage of a freakishly balmy December day and strolled the Asbury Park boardwalk.

boardwalkThat decaying structure in the background is the old Asbury Park Casino.

boardwalk1casinoThe Casino was an arena built in the 1920’s. The walkway links Asbury Park to adjacent community Ocean Grove. The acoustics of the walkway are ideal for busking.

buskingPorkchop, Casino Mural, (Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ), 2009

mermaidcasino1The Happiest Dog in New Jersey.

dog1Punk Rock godfather Tom Verlaine still working the circuit.

verlaineNo Swimming. Lifeguard Not on Duty.

no-swimmingThe Second Happiest Dog in New Jersey. Dogs love the boardwalk.

dog2Two of many, many, vintage 1950’s-era pinball machines at the Silver Ball Museum, all in working order.

pinball1Detail from Hawaiian Beauty. I’ll say.

pinball2“Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie
for tellin’ fortunes better than they do?”


83 thoughts on “Asbury Park. December 27, 2014.

  1. Twenty years ago on a business trip, the photographer and I stayed in a scary hotel off the boardwalk called the Frontenac. They sold plenty of campy and kitschy Asbury Park memorablilia in the card shop. Greetings from Asbury Park postcards that Bruce modeled his album cover after, for instance. We also caught a show at the Stone Pony and the busted-glass-enclosed memorabilia cases were filled with customer-installed empty beer bottles. Sacrilege. Overall, Asbury Park seemed very, very sad. What say you now, Mark?

    I can’t believe the comment-from-the-Reader bug is still dragging on and on. Geesh. What are the wonks telling you?

    • Asbury Park has been “up-and-coming” for years. And while it’s come a long way in twenty years, it still needs improvement. No matter. I love it. I take my kids there all the time. And in it’s defense, you saw it at it absolute low point. Economically, structurally…any measurement you use, it was on its knees then. I dare say you might have a pretty nice time if you were to visit today. You’d even get a pretty good meal or two.

      The wonks are ignoring me. I think it’s because of the holidays. I can’t believe I’m not at the top of their list of priorities. Strange.

  2. Someone told me today they are having the comment from Reader issue with my blog. This was the first I had heard of it.

    Between that and Playstation, I am an online jinx, it seems.

  3. Hi sweetie! It certainly was a beautiful day yesterday. I love Asbury, although I must admit I reserve it for grownup outings – mostly, to hear music and drink. I don’t often think to take my kid there. Do you just stroll around with your family?

    One thing about New Jersey, if you love a honky tonk boardwalk, and I do, it has those! Our favorite is Wildwood. It’s incredibly cheesy. I love how packed and full of life the boardwalk is at night, during the season.

    Do you know there are folks who haven’t heard of the Stone Pony? I thought it was iconic, like CB’s. No?

    What’s going on with your comment section? And Tom Verlaine is still touring? Jeesh. Good for him. I have trouble even staying up late to see shows; I can’t imagine putting forth that kind of energy to perform late at night. Pass the Red Bull.

    • Nice to see you, as always. You must take your son to the boardwalk in the daytime. It’s great! It’s is dotted with cool little shops and restaurants (although most of them are closed for the season). Wouldn’t he like the pinball museum? My girls love it. They shouldn’t call it a “museum”. It makes it sound stodgy. They should call it a pinball orgasm, because that’s what it is.

      My Bride and I used to visit Wildwood at least once per summer. I love how they’ve made a concerted effort to preserve the kitsch. They know what brings in the hordes. Atlantic City, too.

      Maybe we’re just being regional snobs about the Stone Pony. Perhaps it’s only a big deal locally. Can you believe Television is playing there? Original line-up, too. Long road to the Pony for those guys.

      I’ve been told by quite a few people that they can’t comment via WordPress reader. Unbeknownst to me, this is where a lot of action takes place. I’m on the case but, as with everything in life, it’s taking longer than I’d like.

      No Patti Smith this New Years Eve? Playing it safer, I presume?

      • Ohhh, they can’t comment through the reader? Boo Hoo. Tragic. So, open the whole blog post! What’s the big deal?

        Yes, my kid would love the pinball museum. Great idea! I’ll even take him to lunch there. Should only run us about $100.

        No Patti this year. For a whole bunch of reasons, the main one being that I’d actually like to celebrate New Year’s Eve with my kid, in a reasonably healthy, un-hung, semi-rested state.

        I’m on your earlier post now, about all the plays you’ve seen. I’m really jealous. How do you afford all these tickets? Do you do TKTS? Most non-musicals (sadly) are there. All everyone wants are those big, glitzy, cluttered musicals. Blech.

      • The Pinball Museum won’t cost you an arm and a leg. It’s $10 bucks for an hour. Slices of pizza are not priced through the roof. Worth it, if you’re in the naib, which you kind of are.

        I belong to a couple of ticketing discount services. The best one is by invitation-only. I used to write theater reviews for a site that nobody reads and I was considered “industry,” so although I haven’t written a review in ages, I still get the pfat industry discounts and, occasionally, a comp.

    • Happy New Year to you, too! I wish I was in the UK to celebrate. Hell, that’s not saying so much. I ALWAYS wish I was in the UK, regardless.

      Is that what’s holding you back from posting? Bad commenting juju? Rise above it in ’15! I like how you write.

  4. Nice! It’s so empty and calm, and those dogs do look happy. I like boardwalks, too. It looks like the perfect place to be on a balmy day. Please tell me there was somewhere to get an ice cream cone! I’m sure it wasn’t hot, but it fits.

    What’s happening with your comments? They have always been iffy as far as I’m concerned. I know I am not always notified of people’s comments.

    • I never see a cat on the boardwalk unless its feral. But I see some very happy dogs. I wish I had taken more dog pics. I love their faces. There are some fantastic, homemade, non-chain ice cream parlors on the boardwalk but they’re all closed up for the holiday. No matter. We had a great time.

      Folks can’t comment from WordPress reader. Not a problem for me because I always visit your sites but for some people, apparently, it’s the only way they’ll roll.

      • I bet there are some feral kitties wandering the boardwalk. 🙂 There’s bound to be some!

        I’ve never commented that way. My reader has always been a bit funky, too overloaded I think. 🙂 I did a whole post about commenting once. and the consensus was that sometimes we didn’t get each other’s responses, and there was no rhyme or reason as to why it happened. Anyway, I am not surprised there is a problem with comments for the reader. Who knows? With all the many changes with WordPress, who can keep anything straight?

      • There are feral kitties all over the place and some of them are quite friendly, but they look kind of diseased. You’re not compelled to pet them. It’s a shame, as I like cats much, much better than dogs. They’re superior creatures in every way.

        Your analysis of commenting isn’t very comforting. Do you know what needs to be fixed? Not WP commenting. My attitude! Why should it matter so damn much if anyone comments? Isn’t the joy in the writing? What a little girl I am. The first step is admitting there’s a problem.

      • Cats rule! I agree.

        As for commenting…yeah, it will probably always be funky. That said, I think there’s nothing wrong your position on it. Of course, you want to get comments. If writing were enough, we would just keep a journal. Comments are half the fun. It’s not a one-sided deal here. I think you just have to accept that it is not a perfect system, and there will be mishaps. But that’s life after all!

      • Just checking…I didn’t really think you were. I think it’s admirable that you care so much about comments. You can see it that way too. I don’t think it’s petty at all. It’s all about the exchange.

    • My irrational hang-ups fuel a hell of a lot more than just some cast-off photo essay posts. You’re just scratching the surface, my young friend.

      Creepy + fun nails it. That’s be best description of Asbury Park I’ve ever seen and you’ve never been there. Remarkable.

      • Thanks for checking up but, more importantly, thanks for stopping by despite the obstacles WP is throwing in your path.

        What happened to your anti-emoticon vow? Did it vanish all at once or gradually over a length of time? So sad. Fight the power!

      • Ha! I wish I could. But I learned my sarcastic sense of humor doesn’t always translate well without tone of voice or facial expression. Thus, the emoticon. Grrrr. But I will never ‘heart’ anything. I promise.

      • Well, then, maybe I should turn to emoticoning. (I just invented a new verb. You’re welcome, World Wide Web.) My *ahem* sense of humor is often misinterpreted. Perhaps I can diffuse it with a cleverly-executed emoticon. Thanks for the tip.

        Just as a side note: You don’t post very often, do you? Perhaps twice a month. Is that the secret, then? Quality over quantity?

      • I only post two to four times a month. That allows me time to visit other blogs without getting bogged down by my own. I know the advice is to post frequently, but who has time for that? Plus, I think it’s difficult for people to keep up with blogs that publish frequent content. But that’s just me. Sometimes I post quality (or so I like to think); sometimes I post silly crap. The latter is always easier.

      • I’m with you, sister. Sometimes four or five days pass by before I can get to the blog world and if I see a half dozen unread posts on a single site I typically clear them. No offense to the owner. I can’t keep up!

    • Hello Carrie and Mark, sorry to barge in, but I wish more people would take your advice and not write so frequently. We live in a permanent mountain of noise now and I just can’t cope with reading daily or even twice/three times a week updates. It starts to feel like work. Less is often more.

      Now, let’s copy this to a text editor, save it, and see if WordPress is in a good enough mood after Christmas to graciously allow me to comment.

      • I try to keep it to once a week. That’s PLENTY. I wouldn’t read Hemingway or Raymond Carver every day and I love those guys. There’s no way I can keep up with three or four posts per week from the same source. I end up feeling guilty for deleting posts from my feeder before reading them. I feel like I’m disrespecting the author. But what can I do!? I hope they understand.

        Do you really have to scrub these comments through a text editor?! That’s awful. Technology was supposed to set us free. Now look at us. A bunch of slaves to a text editor.

      • It’s just safer to save it first somewhere else in case it chucks me out. It’s not the same doing it “once more, without feeling”.

      • Less is indeed often more, including on Facebook. Frequent status updates just clutter our newsfeeds. A daily or every other day FB update would be fine. Ah, such a social media scrooge I am. 😉

      • You’re not a Scrooge at all! You’ve got a life to live offline. This subject is worthy of its own post but I fear a lot if feelings would be hurt. People would take it the wrong way.

  5. “My malfunctioning comment section.” So what gives with the comments? I see folks have commented on this post. And the photos are very nice ones.

    So you have complaints. Well so do I. The comment section will not open up on my last post. And no way in hell, I mean, heck, can I get the dang thing to show. Who or how do you complain to the powers that be?

    Please don’t get your underwear in a twist trying to answer my questions. And I use the little faces 🙂 sometimes. Does that mean that one is juvenile in how one writes? Or is it better to use “tee-hee or ha-ha? Or nothing at all?

    • Thanks for the nice wave to my photos. Digital photography is the best. You take dozens and dozens of pics and a few of them are bound to turn out. Do you remember film photography? I do. You had 24 shots and you had to make them count.

      As far as my comments, people are unable to submit comments through their WordPress reader. I know I shouldn’t care so much but I do. Sad fact.

      Use the faces! They’re an effective way to convey your intention. As has been discussed above, sometimes a subtle sarcasm can be mistaken as a sincere criticism. The emoticon can help explain that away.

      • I’m probably almost twice as old as you. I’ve been taking photos since I was about 20 years old. I’ve had 4 SLR cameras and a medium format, Polaroid, and Kodak Brownie. So yes, I know about those 24 shots or even, I think, 32 or 36 on a roll.

        Oh, and I still have all my camera equipment stashed away in boxes.

      • I completely understand about watching the rescue videos. But the ones I post always have a good ending. I have a problem with those images staying in my mind, as well.

  6. now i understand why i have no problems with commenting here! i don’t use a a reader, i just check my blogroll and when a new post shows up, i click on over. pretty cool pics, sweet pea! i’ve never visited asbury park, so it’s always a treat to see your photos. the only time i’ve been to new jersey is once when we drove up to nyc and passed through. it was not a pleasant experience. something about my using the wrong turn lane… i told you this story, didn’t i? xoxoxox

    • I use a reader as well. Feedly. But I like to visit the sites. That way, I’m looking at the site design, not a feed. A blog layout says a lot about a person. I’d rather look at their homepage than a stupid feeder layout.

      The part of NJ you visited was rich with chemical plants and heavy industry. Every state has its ugly neighborhoods and that’s ours. Not so bad down where I live. Kind of nice, actually. Especially if you like water.

      • Sounds like it… holidays good, just on the road a lot visiting people. This is a big goddam country. Takes forever to get anywhere, and in the winter you just never know when you might have to pull over because the road just turned into an ice rink, or your youngest just pooped in a chip bag. These are the days, my man!

        Hope your holidays are going good with your family – the best to you. Also, never stop writing blog posts, else I will probably melt. I sense a blog post on that topic one of these days. I have this awful thing going against sameness… probably not making much sense owning to the morning irish cream’d coffee… but hey, it’s cold up here…

      • That’s an astute comment. I didn’t quite realize how vast our countries were until I went to Europe. You can drive a few hours and be in a completely different society. Different language, food, traditions, etc. Here, you can drive for DAYS and it won’t look any different than where you started.

        Not to engage in a mutual ass-lathering session because I can stand those, but I hope you plan to post more frequently in 2015.

  7. I’m glad those pinball machines have been preserved – they’re certainly finer works of arts than many you’ve shown us. I didn’t realise balmy December weather was possible in your part of the USA. Big change from last year – what are the weather people saying?

    • You should see the Pinball Museum. There are dozens and dozens of beautifully preserved pinballs, all in working order. You pay $10/hr. and the next thing you know, you’re transferred back to your youth. Well…MY youth, anyway. I love that place and pray it never goes out of business.

      We’ve been having some interesting weather patterns since blowing a giant, gaping hole in the ozone layer. A pleasant stroll on the boardwalk just shouldn’t be happening in late December. It’s unusual. Everyone was out taking advantage. Even the dogs.

  8. Hello Mark. Forgive my tardiness. Happy Christmas, New Year, Easter, Valentines Day and whatever else….It’s been a slog!
    Well, As a photographer, I’m liking the pictures. Particularly the guy and his guitar. Great light, great mood, I notice a bit of graffiti too! Are you the new dog whisperer?

    Did the life guard die or is that a seasonal wreath?

    Good to be back and I promise I’m here for the duration.;)

    • It’s alive. Take as many breaks as you need, for as long as you need. But just so you’re aware, I keep tabs. I’ll be over to your place later today or tomorrow.

      Of the lot, I think only THREE of the photos above have any merit at all. Graham Greene used to divide his books between ‘novels’ and ‘entertainments,’ looking down his nose at his lesser works. Well, what we have here is a group of entertainments with a couple of novels thrown in just to prove I can do it. They are, in hindsight, a mostly lazy affair.

      • yes. it lives….
        Well I kinda like being kept tabs on. Makes me feel globally safe.

        lazy or not – I like the feel.

        I think the first pic should be made into a piece of wall paper and put on a wall that has a nice chesterfield sofa, a few book cases, a red rug, some randomly sculpted, arty lamp made from recycled metals and an antique desk. I think you should do that…

    • The nice people at WordPress are working on my site. It’s got some routing/pointing issues. Consequently, all sorts of horrific things are happening. I’m trying to be all Zen about it but it’s not easy.

      I finally won something? I want to thank the academy, etc.

  9. I enjoyed your boardwalk tour, I bet it’s heaving there in the summer isn’t it? Do they have lifeguards then at least?

    As much as I love hot days, there’s something special about the light when the sun shines in winter, we have so many grey days here, that I really appreciate winter sun. A couple of days ago I took the kids to a Winter Wonderland thing in Hyde Park in London (basically an outdoor ice-rink, and lots of stalls and fairground rides), and it was a perfect day for it – very cold and crisp, but with a very blue sky. I hate the cold, but I’m an expert at layering so I barely felt it.

    Hope you have a good New Year, do you go out into the city on New Year’s Eve? I’ve never been one for doing much on New Year’s Eve. I always stay up to see it in, have a glass of something bubbly, a few party poppers, watch the fireworks on TV, and then feel emotional and hug the people I’m with a lot! I’ve occasionally gone out on NYE, but I can probably count those occasions on one hand.

    • I don’t know how the New Jersey shore became a punchline because you’re right; in the summer that place IS heaven! The water is clean (albeit not that azure you’d like) and the beaches are all soft sand. It’s quite nice. And, yes, there are lifeguards all up and down the shore from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Off-season the beaches are wonderful because there aren’t any tourists about.

      You’re absolutely correct about the light in the winter. It’s different. The shadows are blacker. At night, the skies are clearer. There are more stars. I would love to go to a winter festival in Hyde Park. How lucky you are!

      I used to go out on NYE when I lived in the city but now that I’m ensconced in the suburbs I attend a neighborhood get-together and call it a night at about 12:15. Happy New Year to you. Thanks, very much, for all the conversations over the past 12 months. You’re interesting.

  10. Every time i see eastern shore boardwalks i get lost in daydreams of my mis-spent youf… and i realize i’m a music nerd but the Stone Pony is pretty much legendary, ala the Cat’s Cradle or the Agora or the Empty Bottle or the Electric Banana or CBGB’s, of course some of those are gone now and of course i did have a college roommate from Joisey who worshiped at the altar of Bruce so i got a crash course… and for the record i was never a huge fan of Television or Tom Verlaine, i fall squarely in the Richard Hell camp, imagine that?

    • There’s something about east coast beaches that makes me all warm and fuzzy. They’re not beautiful like Cali or FLA beaches, but I like the kitsch.

      Richard Hell is an author now. Have you ever read any of his books?

      Can you believe the Stone Pony is still open? Frankly, I’m amazed. They’re all gone. No more Mudd Club. Or CBGB’s. We ain’t got time for that now. There’s a bowling alley in Asbury Park that hosts bands. For real. It’s great!

  11. No problems technically at this end. Enjoyed the pics. I’m amazed how time flies by with these places. I heard of the Asbury Dukes back in the day. Have you ever done Times Square on New Years Eve?

    • I went to Times Square ONCE on New Years Eve. It took me all of :20 minutes to get separated from my party. I spent the remainder of the evening by myself, trapped in a pen freezing my ass off. I can’t say I’d do it again.

      According to the WP wonks, my commenting problem should disappear starting with my next post. We’ll see. Apparently, people couldn’t comment from their WP readers. Imagine!

      Happy New Year to you, too, Tom. Thanks for stopping by. Much appreciated.

  12. On my next visit to NYC, i have to go here… Absolutely must. A show at The Stone Pony? i don’t care who… And if i could perchance stumble upon He Who Has Moistened My Loins for Decades? That would be a bit of alright…

      • Not weird. Awesome. Yeah… that’s the word i’d use!

        My son was out that way during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Might have taken a leak on a fence post that could be near the property. i was mad at him for that… he said at the time, he didn’t know….

  13. Makes me nostalgic for a place I’ve never even seen! Also reminds me of the movie Big…not even the same place I don’t think, but reminds me all the same.

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