The Boys from the Casino

 

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The Cold Seas

 

I want to tell you a little story. This story, unlike many of my posts, has a beginning a middle and an actual end. It starts back in Melbourne about a year ago but mostly plays out on a steamy Summer’s night (last night in fact) at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park.

Shall I begin, then? Good.

Sometime last year (I forget quite when it was), while I was stuck back in Melbourne feeling nostalgic for all things Jersey, I was reading up on the history of Asbury Park. I was particularly interested in the musical significance of venues like The Stone Pony and the Wonderbar and was getting that familiar itch to be back there.

On a whim, I typed, “Asbury Park bands” into YouTube, thinking, “I wonder if the next E Street Band is slogging its heart out around the traps of AP, hoping a little Bruce magic might rub off on them?”

Almost immediately, I stumbled across some videos of a band called Deal Casino. The first was a live video of them playing a small gig at Porta (that’s the old Student Prince, Springsteen fans). They sounded tight and I was pretty impressed by the songwriting.

Next, I found a number of their recorded tracks and was instantly taken with this one in particular (obviously the Bruce reference helped).

 

I got on iTunes then and found them easily enough (a minor miracle on the Australian version). They had a number of EPs out at the time and so I downloaded the lot and ‘liked’ the band on social media so that I’d be able to keep track of what they were up to.

Jump forward to just a few short weeks ago, me back now in Jersey and newly married. I was aware that the band were about to drop their first album and was fully intending to download it at the first opportunity when, quite out of the blue, I received a friend request from Christopher Donofrio, drummer with Deal Casino.

I accepted, of course, and, almost immediately, got a message from him saying, Hi Tony! This is Chris from the band Deal Casino. We are mailing tickets directly for our record release show because T**********r sucks. Let me know if you’d be interested in coming!”

Needless to say, I was in and so, we purchased said tickets – at a considerable saving – and, just a few days later, they duly arrived (complete with a free vinyl single, I might add).

So, last night, Jersey girl and I jumped in the car and drove down to Asbury Park. The traffic gods were kind and we arrived with time to spare, so we strolled the boardwalk, had a couple of beers at the Beach Bar, and then a delicious dinner at our favourite Cuban restaurant, Cubacan.

As it turns out, we hadn’t had quite as much time as we’d thought, so missed the first support band, Born Cages. We did, however, catch the second band, The Cold Seas and they were amazing. If I had to categorise them, I’d say they fall within the Post-rock genre.

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We both really vibed on these guys and I downloaded all their available recorded material as soon as I got up this morning; really good stuff.

Deal Casino took the stage not long after (I like a band that doesn’t keep its audience waiting around too long) and the gig took off.

 

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Deal Casino are: vocals, guitar – Joe P. Parella,  guitar, keys – Jozii Cowell,  bass – Jon Rodney,  drums – Chris Donofrio. I’m not sure how the band divide writing duties but the songs have a consistency of vision that suggests that it’s mostly down to one member.

The thing that struck me the most about the gig was how dedicated the crowd was. You got the distinct impression that there was a strong core of people present who go to every show the band plays in NJ. Having now experienced them live, I can understand where that loyalty comes from. It all made for a really entertaining experience.

At one point, a large section of the audience suddenly squatted down on the floor during an extended guitar build, only to leap back up as one and go wild at the song’s big crescendo.

 

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Getting ready to jump (image: Jeff Crespi‎).

 

 

Joe really is a very good vocalist and his voice never wavered through what was, in the end, a pretty long night. His command of the stage was impressive and he even indulged in a little onstage Springsteenesque storytelling. And what was the subject of his story? How he came to be inspired by Bruce and the E Street Band, of course.

It transpired that Joe and another member of the band (not sure which) have held day jobs at Porta. I wondered if they knew the significance of that place in the Springsteen legend.

I also have to say that, though every member of Deal Casino is extremely good at what they do, Chris needs to be singled out for special mention here; he is one of the best rock drummers I’ve seen in a very long time. I wish I’d filmed the crazy solo he performed (with a little technical aid from Joe), it was mind-blown good.

 

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that’s Joe holding a snare (or maybe a tom) in the air and moving it about in space as a kind of challenge to Chris who is playing between the kit and the moving target in Joe’s hand – flawlessly, I might add.

 

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Here’s a much better shot of that not taken by me on a crappy cell phone. (Image:Delaney Gerard)

 

So that was my first ever gig at the famous Stone Pony (Jersey girl saw The Gaslight Anthem play the Summer stage several years ago so, for her, only the first inside gig). It seemed very appropriate to be seeing a couple of young up-and-coming bands at the venue that birthed such legends as the Asbury Dukes and Bon Jovi all those years ago.

Oh, I promised you an actual ending to my story.

This morning, I was putting some of my phone pics of the night up on my Facebook page and, literally within moments, Chris posted a comment thanking me for coming. That’s before any of my actual friends had even hit ‘like’ and, even more incredibly, at 9.30 am!

What he was even doing awake so early after a gig like that is beyond me, but I predict that kind of dedication to the fans is going to take this band far. If this show was anything to go by, they certainly deserve to get where they’re going.

 

 

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The Stone Pony wall of fame.

 

Deal Casino’s self-titled debut album is available now.

 

Words and images (except where otherwise credited) are my own.

 

©2017

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I wanna be where the bands are

 

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“Before we play a little bit, I’d like to say a few things about why we’re down here tonight. Mainly I’d like to say that I think that the marriage between a community and a company is a special thing, it involves a special trust and even 400 jobs is a lot of work lost in a small town.

“What do you do when after 10 years or 20 years, you wake up in the morning and you see your livelihood sailing away from you, leaving you standing on the beach? What happens when the jobs go away and the people remain? I’d like to say what goes unmeasured is the price that unemployment inflicts on people’s families, on their marriages, on the single mothers out there trying to raise their kids on their own.

“Now, the 3M company, it’s their money and it’s their plant but it’s the 3M workers’ jobs. I’m here tonight to just say that I think that after 25 years of service from a community that there’s a debt owed to the 3M workers and to my hometown.”

Bruce Springsteen at the Stone Pony; 19 January, 1986. performing a benefit gig for workers from the Freehold 3M plant that was about to be permanently closed down.

 

The Stone Pony in Asbury Park is generally acknowledged to be one of the most important live Rock venues of all time. It is often mentioned by music historians in the same breath as CBGB, Whiskey a Go Go, and the Cavern Club.

And for almost the entire of the club’s forty three year history, it has been closely associated with one rock icon in particular. Bruce Springsteen’s relationship with the Pony is legendary. Following the closure of the Upstage club when he was still living in and around Asbury Park, through all the years of touring, Springsteen has been a fairly regular fixture at the club.

It has been estimated that the Boss has played the Pony stage some 100 times and, with the exception of private gigs to fundraise for his children’s various schools, has never once been billed there.

His first ever Pony performance was on Sept. 8, ’74. Springsteen was jamming with an outfit called The Blackberry Booze Band featuring none other than Steve Van Zandt and Southside Johnny Lyon. Blackberry would go on to become the Asbury Dukes.

 

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Bruce and Stevie, the early days. Picture lifted from the Stone Pony website.

Springsteen’s star was already in ascendance when the Pony opened its doors in 1973 but, even after he had gained considerable fame and recognition with his breakout album, Born to Run, he could still be found hanging around the Pony, occasionally even jumping the bar and serving drinks to customers (by all accounts he sucked pretty hard as a barkeep).

Almost all of his public appearances at the pony have been jams with other artists. These have included: Blackberry Booze Band, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Clarence Clemons, The Shakes, The Band’s Levon Helm, Joe Grushecky, Soozie Tyrell, Lord Gunner Group, Marshall Crenshaw, Little Steven, Bobby Bandiera, Nils Lofgren, and Jimmy Cliff.

 

 

The relationship has not always been harmonious, however. There was a period from October ’77 until May ’82 where Springsteen shifted his allegiance from the Pony to the Asbury Lanes across town. This reputedly had something to do with fellow E Streeter, Danny Federici getting tossed out of the Pony one night for general rowdiness which apparently did not go over too well with Springsteen.

By May ’82, all was presumably forgiven as Bruce took to the Pony’s stage again with a vengeance, playing 14 Sunday night jams with house band, Cats on a Smooth Surface.

 

 

On June 8, ’84 The E Street Band launched their mega, Born In The USA tour with a warm-up gig at, you guessed it, The Stone Pony. Twelve songs were played that night, including the live debuts of Born in the U.S.A., Glory Days, My Hometown, and Darlington County.

The Pony has not only served as a handy place for Bruce to play, it was for many years a safe haven, one of the few places he could relax among the public without the fear of constant harassment from eager fans. It is an unwritten law around the Pony that you don’t get up in Springsteen’s face. That’s a rare kind of respect.

The Pony also happens to be the place where, back in the early 80’s, Bruce met his now wife and fellow band mate, Patti Scialfa.

 

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The Stone Pony

 

 

Words and images (except where otherwise stated) are my own.

 

©2017

 

 

Local heroes

 

Tonight I’m layin’ here
But there’s something in my ear
Sayin’ there’s a little town just beneath the floodline
Needs a local hero
Somebody with the right style
Lookin’ for a local hero
Someone with the right smile
Local hero local hero she said with a smile
Local hero he used to live here for a while

Springsteen, Local Hero

 

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In many ways, this blog is about dreams coming true. After finding each other in this vast ocean of humanity and then being forced to live a world apart for over five years, Jersey girl’s and my dream of being together finally came to pass last month.

And last night another dream came true.

As a special Birthday treat, Jersey girl took me to Asbury Park to see the world premiere of ‘Just Before the Dawn’, a new documentary about the history of the local music scene and in particular the jam club known as the Upstage.

After the movie (which screened at the Paramount theatre), there was to be an Upstage style jam session featuring some former E Street band members including David Sancious, Vini ‘Mad Dog’ Lopez, and Ernest ‘Boom’ Carter.

I was really looking forward to seeing these E Street legends play and was thrilled by rumours that Little Steven (Van Zandt) might join them up on stage.

We arrived in Asbury about an hour and a half before the show and, after a quick pit stop (burgers and a couple of beers at the Anchor’s Bend, conveniently situated in the Convention Hall), we joined the queue that was now snaking through the Grand Arcade. After a small wait, we got inside and took our seats in the balcony with a good view of the stage and screen. There was a lot of equipment on the stage and I realised this was going to be a bigger jam than I’d imagined; all the better.

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The movie was great. I’m not going to write a review but it was thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking in equal measure. I’ve covered many of the events that the movie focused on right here on this blog but this was different. These were the experiences of people who lived these events so it was fascinating for me to see how their recollections added to the historical tapestry.

After the movie, the thing we’d been half expecting was announced, “Little Steven is in the house!” Uproarious applause, then, “Southside’s in the house!”

I was ecstatic. Two of my idols! Then the curtain went up on the show and those in the know were already cheering with delight. Jersey girl was looking at a certain guitarist in the back behind Stevie. “Wow, he looks like – wait – is that?”

“SPRINGSTEEN!!”

The man himself – fresh from his well-documented celebrity cruise with the Obamas on Geffen’s mega yacht – had made it back to Jersey for this most special of nights. The crowd, predictably, went wild and we were treated to a night of raw musicianship from some of the very best in the business.

Highlights for me included a spirited rendition of The Band’s classic ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ and David Sancious and Marc Ribler executing a perfect performance of the Hendrix standard ‘Voodoo Child’. It turns out keyboardist Sancious can shred on a guitar like a boss.

The real Boss also managed some primo shredding and, though he chose not to dominate the proceedings, certainly made his presence felt.

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It’s obvious from the photos that we only had our phones with us to capture the event. Jersey’s phone is slightly better than mine and so the closer shots come courtesy of her.

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I’m sure that, in the days ahead, there’ll be a plethora of wonky videos shot on smartphones capturing every aspect of the evening. Like, for instance, these…

This night was a real ‘I was there when’ moment if ever there was one. Just one month in New Jersey and the magic’s already sparking.

Springsteen, Southside, Steven, Sancious, Mad Dog and more at Upstage Jam.

Words and images (with the exception of pics 6 & 7 by Jersey girl) are my own.

©2017

Come together

 

Men Without Women

On July 2, 2011, something really quite wonderful happened. A group of musicians – all renowned exponents of the vaunted Jersey Shore sound – came together at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ to perform a particular album in its entirety. The album was Men Without Women by Little Steven (Van Zandt),  his solo debut from 1982.

 

 

Men Without Women was to be the first toe in the water for Van Zandt’s solo career. He recorded it over two sessions (working on Born in the USA in between) and released it under the name Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul.

Steve would eventually leave the E Street band in 1984, unhappy with his role in Springsteen’s shadow and exhausted by the punishing marathon recording sessions that accompanied each album release by the band.

Van Zandt believed strongly that an album should be recorded in a few weeks or at most a few months but E Street recordings were dragging out to a year or more with ten songs written and recorded for every one that made the final cut. And the truth was, many of the rejected songs were, in Van Zandt’s opinion, superior to those that made the final sequence.

In the end, Steve decided that the best course was for him to go it alone as Little Steven but this first ‘solo’ album features contributions from several E Street band members including (uncredited) The Boss himself.

The final result was an eclectic, energetic, and infectious record. Standout tracks included; Inside Of Me, Angel Eyes, When the Good is Gone (the two latter featuring backing vocals from Springsteen), and Under the Gun.

 

Some of the musicians who featured on the album were members of the Asbury Dukes (Southside Johnny included) and  The Miami Horns and they all obviously enjoyed their involvement because 30 years later they got together and played it again.

You have to understand that for an aficionado of the Jersey Shore sound, there can be virtually no greater confluence of utter cool than imagining Southside Johnny and the Asbury Dukes getting together with members of the Disciples of Soul at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park to play a classic album by Little Steven (also in attendance).

Fortunately, one doesn’t need to imagine it because it was all recorded for posterity. The subsequent recording has been put out by the Dukes as Men Without Women (which from a recording archivist’s perspective is a little confusing). And what a recording it is! If anything, the songs shine even brighter in this performance.

The tracks that really grabbed me were; Men Without Women, Until the Good is Gone, Lyin’ in a bed of Fire, Inside of Me, and Angel Eyes.

 

 

Johnny (Southside) Lyon was in terrific voice and the band firing on all cylinders. The sweat must have really been flying because they’re all giving 110% and the sounds coming off the stage are electric.

Southside Johnny is one of the most underrated performers out there. He has the voice of a true Soul Man and his stage presence alone should have catapulted him into the stratosphere. Alas, his rise to prominence was mirrored by a general decline in interest in the soul sounds of the 60’s. This was a crime considering the dross that now passes for music in the commercial arena.

However, for those in the know, The Dukes are a rare gem who have built their loyal following and continued to party live with their friends in both the US and Europe. And their careers have lasted just as long as those of their fellow Jersey brothers in arms the E Street Band. I would recommend the reader give their recent(ish) release Soultime a spin for confirmation that this band is still a hot property.

This recording of the gig at the Pony, to me, epitomises the very heart and soul of the Jersey Shore sound. The only way it could have increased its cool factor a few degrees would have been if The Boss could have been coaxed onto the stage. However, considering the fact that Clarence ‘Big Man’ Clemons had died just a few weeks earlier, that really wasn’t a likely outcome.

Had Springsteen been present, however, it probably would have looked and sounded a little something like this…

©2017

Outside looking in

 

The machinist climbs his ferris wheel like a brave
And the fire eater’s lyin’ in a pool of sweat, victim of the heatwave
Behind the tent the hired hand tightens his legs on the sword swallower’s blade
And circus town’s on the shortwave

Springsteen, Wild Billy’s Circus Story

 

 

So what is it I found in Jersey? Well love, obviously, but not just love. I also found a surprisingly deep vein of local folklore. Jersey is a mysterious place where many fabled events have transpired, events often so unusual and extraordinary, that they’ve become the stuff of legends; even mythology.

When the Hindenburg made its notorious flight across the Atlantic it was a stunt designed to showcase to the world the genius of Nazi technology and engineering. What amounted to a floating luxury liner made its way majestically across the pond, deftly avoiding the hazards of the fickle Atlantic weather by simply flying above it.

Proudly displaying the fascist emblems of Hitler’s regime upon her tail fins the great ship glided – near silently – over the skyscrapers of Manhattan drawing stares of admiration and dread from the crowds bellow. By any measure, it was a propaganda triumph for the Reich.

Then she arrived in Jersey.

Before the massive zeppelin had come within thirty feet of Jersey’s soil she met her end in flaming humiliation and the rest, as they say, is history. One of the earliest and most spectacular iconic newsreel images was born that day.

 

There were sadly no newsreels when George Washington, seeking to turn the tide of the revolutionary war, decided to cross the Delaware into Jersey and surprise the Hessians in Trenton, he did so on Christmas Eve in the depths of a frigid winter. This too created an iconic image, one of Washington standing in the prow of his little boat as his men struggled valiantly to propel it through the ice-strewn waters.

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Washington crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

The history books also recount the grim tale of his small army, many without shoes, marching grimly through the snow, their cold blistered feet leaving a trail of frozen blood in their wake. And yet they marched to a decisive victory over the Hessians. If Washington had accomplished this feat in any other season but the dead of winter would it have achieved the same iconic, near mythical status? Doubtful I’d say.

The two incidents recounted above loom large historically speaking but there are many smaller instances of legends and myths that have sprung from the land of New Jersey.

There is an even more exotic example of the rich tradition of folklore that has contributed to Jersey’s mystique. For several centuries, the area known as the Pine Barrens (itself verdant with tales of the wild folk who live secretly in hiding there) has been host to the legend of a mysterious and terrifying creature called the Jersey Devil.

According to the popular folklore, the origins of the Jersey Devil lie with a Pine Barrens resident known as Mother Leeds. The legend states that Mother Leeds had 12 children and, after finding she was pregnant for the 13th time, cursed the child in frustration, crying that the child would be the Devil. In 1735, Mother Leeds was in labor on a stormy night while her friends gathered around her. In some versions of the tale, Mother Leeds was supposedly a witch and the child’s father was the Devil himself. Born as a normal child, the 13th child changed to a creature with hooves, a goat’s head, bat wings, and a forked tail. Growling and screaming, it killed the midwife before flying up the chimney and heading into the pines.

Some versions of the legend state that there was subsequently an attempt by local clergymen to exorcise the creature from the Pine Barrens, or that the creature proceeded to kill the local children.

~ Wikipedia

Even Springsteen has taken a run at this particular myth.

 

 

And speaking of Springsteen, few New Jersians have contributed more to the rich body of local folklore than the man commonly known as The Boss. Over the first three albums of his recording career, Springsteen created a rich tapestry of mythic figures and situations based around the small seaside town of Asbury Park NJ. The Boss had made that eclectic place his home and built his musical reputation in its clubs (particularly the Upstage club) and bars.

The history of Springsteen and the E Street Band itself is one of myths and legends. In particular, the story of how Clarence Big Man Clemons joined the band has been the subject of both tall tale and song.

The picture of a sax bearing giant making his way – unbowed by the lashing winds of an Atlantic storm – to the door of the Student Prince pub where the band was rehearsing, only to have that very door blow away with the wind like Dorothy on her way to Oz, is familiar to every true Springsteen fan.

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Asbury Park itself has an other-worldly feel to it. The amazing architecture of the Convention Hall at the northerly end of the shore front is complimented by the Nouveau elegance of the old heating plant tower and the baroque ornamentations of the carousel house to the south.  And in between, the fabled Asbury boardwalk which connects all three.

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mythology

Legend has it that the convention hall was the site of Jersey’s first Rock ’n’ Roll riot. Asbury park also suffered the blight of race riots in the early 70s, a blight from which it took decades to recover. As a direct result of these riots, the town began a long decline and for many years was a crime infested shadow of its former glory.

And whilst on the subject of crime, in the 1990s a mythical New Jersian found his way onto millions of TV screens. His name was Tony Soprano and his evil antics kept America and the world engrossed for many years. Soprano was the archetypal gangster for our times. Amoral, petty and manipulative, he and his gang were an instant hit; modern additions to Jersey Folklore.

So popular was Tony S, that when the actor playing him, James Gandolfini, passed away (during my very first visit to New Jersey strangely enough) People all over Jersey were asking, “did ya hear the news? Tony Soprano died”.

While still alive, Tony Soprano, like The Boss, was no stranger to Asbury Park. It was the landscape of his surreal fever dreams. Clearly, the show’s makers were only too aware of Asbury’s uniquely phantasmagorical aspect.

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Image: HBO

So much about Jersey – the landscape, the music, the personalities – evokes a dream-like otherness. I have certainly never known a place to match it. From its haunted asylums to the wilderness of the Barrens, it is a place with a plethora of intriguing sights and sounds.

I simply cannot wait to return.

Words and images (except where otherwise credited) are my own.

©2017

84. The waiting

 

I woke up in the darkness scared and breathin’ and born anew
It wasn’t the cold river bottom I felt rushing over me
It wasn’t the bitterness of a dream that didn’t come true
It wasn’t the wind in the grey fields I felt rushing through my arms
No no baby it was you

Springsteen, Valentine’s day

The wait to hear news from the US Government as to my visa status has me on my last nerve. It literally feels like we’ve been stuck in this holding pattern forever. I find myself running through every imaginable negative scenario in my anxiety riddled mind and so today I’m going to write about my favourite day in Jersey to keep my spirits up.

My favourite day was one I spent with Jersey girl on my fourth visit. Now, it’s not at all a simple matter to reduce all the amazing times we’ve shared down into one perfect day (I’m not even claiming that Jersey girl and I share the same regard for this particular one) but after much weighing up, I’m pretty certain this is mine.

My fourth visit was my second summer spent in Jersey And so, of course, we had a trip to the Shore planned. Though I’d managed to be in NJ three times before this, I had only visited the much vaunted Asbury Park once…at night….in a storm. We’d had a great meal at a cool Cuban restaurant (which we’d had pretty much to ourselves because – storm) but all I’d really seen of note was the squat outline of the Stone Pony directly across the way from the restaurant.

I’d wanted to go in, but there didn’t seem to be much happening (again, really bad storm) so I missed out on getting a genuine Asbury Park experience then. This time would be different.

The moment had come for a proper expedition. I wanted to see what the heartland of the Jersey shore sound was really all about. Unfortunately, there weren’t any Jersey shore bands actually playing that month* so our plan wasn’t so much to see a band as, to get to know (at least in my case) the landscape that had informed the music of legends like Springsteen and Southside Johnny. I wanted to tramp the streets that were so familiar to them and which permeate much of their music.

We arrived on a pretty perfect sun-drenched afternoon and parked about a block from the Stone Pony. We decided to head south down Ocean Ave first, taking us past the door of the Pony (which gave every indication of being closed) I was struck again by how very unattractive the building is. The impression I’d gotten on my first sighting of it over a year earlier had been of a bunker that someone had painted white. It was a little less stark in the bright light of a summer’s day but only just.

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I had a particular destination in mind for our first stop, the famous carousel house. I’d seen online pictures of the ornamental ironwork that bedeck it and was keen to get some shots of my own. I wasn’t disappointed either, it’s a fine example of the early twentieth-century obsession with mythological subjects.

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I know I’ve covered this ground before in a previous post but what I didn’t go into then was just how amazing it felt to be doing it all with this gorgeous woman I call mine. Every aspect of that day was made a hundred times richer simply because she was there experiencing it all with me. This is true anytime we do something together but especially true for this particular day; my favourite day.

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My girl has New Jersey in her blood. She is the very embodiment of the Jersey spirit. Some people try to deride New Jerseyans, make risible everything about them that makes them unique. To those people, I would offer a heartfelt go fuck yourself (yes, that Jersey spirit is contagious).

NJ is the state that gave the world the Ivy league Princeton University (where the great refugee from tyranny Albert Einstein found a home) as well as the attitude that informs TV shows like The Sopranos. And both of those disparate elements are seemingly present in the DNA of the average New Jerseyan.

This dichotomy is also at the heart of Jersey girl. She constantly surprises and continually delights with her mercurial shifts, like cloud shadows moving fast across a landscape.

This particular day was full of smiles and easy laughs. As I took my time over the images of the carousel house and the adjacent ruin of the old casino, Jersey girl watched on with her wistful smile and patient contentment. That’s the word for the mood of that day, contentment, we were both feeling it and it was blissful.

When I’d captured all the images I could find, we wended our way back north up Ocean. I kept stealing looks at her as we walked. I doubt a day will ever dawn where I look at her with anything less than wonder. And I will never understand why she chose me.

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Our wanderings took us past the tiny Wonder Bar and we commiserated with each other over the fact that we’d missed (by just three days) Springsteen’s surprise two-hour set with Joe Grushecky and his band at this very club the previous Saturday night.

My Springsteen obsession is a source of constant amusement for her but she gets it and loves the passion it invokes in me.

We then wandered past the Paramount theatre and into the Convention centre. By this point, we were ready to imbibe and settled onto a pair of stools overlooking Asbury beach on the veranda that houses the famed Beach Bar.

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Had to step out of this perfect moment to get the shot.

As I mentioned, the day was warm and beautiful and the beach before us was packed with sun worshippers. Sitting there with the love of my life on the shore of an ocean that has nothing to do with where I come from, I found myself marvelling at the twists and turns of my life.

I don’t think I even realised in that moment that I’d kind of been here before. I’d watched an important dream sequence (who doesn’t remember Big Pussy the talking fish?) play out on this very spot in an episode of the Sopranos years before I knew Jersey girl (or Asbury Park) even existed.

We sat there enjoying the view until we grew hungry and then decided to drive up Cookman Avenue to the commercial district and, after a little wandering, found the best Italian restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. This is saying a lot because Melbourne’s Italian restaurants are world famous but this one had them all beat.

Cibo e Vino on Mattison Avenue is simply sublime. Though it was a little early for dinner, we’d worked up quite an appetite in our wanders and so were in a kind of ecstasy at the quality of the food that was served up.

All of this, I got to do with her. It may not seem like such an amazing day when it’s written down like this but there were so many more layers to it than can be told. The entire day has lived in my memory ever since and always brings a dopamine flood to my joy-starved brain.

So there it is, my favourite day. This blog post was just the shade of an impression, a thumbnail at best but I hope I’ve given at least a sense of it for you.

This is why the wait is interminable.

*Except for Bruce frickin’ Springsteen that is.

Words and images are my own.

©2016

The line between two points.

Just a wee reblog while I work on my David Bowie top 20.

Runaway American Dream

I wanna be where the bands are
I wanna be where the bands are
Where the bands are
I wanna be where the bands are

~ Springsteen, Where the bands are.

 

There are more than a few iconic buildings in Asbury park. The Convention Hall, the old heating tower, the Stone Pony (to name but three). They cluster around the boardwalk, hunkered down against the often inclement (if not outright hostile) attentions of the Atlantic ocean. If you listen hard, these buildings will speak to you. And if you have the patience, they may tell you something of beginnings and of endings.

Two buildings connected by such a tale can be found on Ocean Avenue. At its southern- most point, by Wesley lake sits the famous Carousel house. Once, as its name implies, this building housed a classic 1930s era carousel. Sadly, the gaily, painted collection of horses…

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