Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Day "Down The Shore" 2010- Greetings From Asbury Park

Bruce Springsteen by the merry-go-round in The Casino, early 1970's

Yesterday I took a ride down to Long Beach Island and spent most of the early afternoon. It was beautiful and cloudless, and Island Beach State Park was packed, lots of families with a zillion kids getting one last big blast of summer before returning to school either this week or the day after Labor Day. I took some light reading along- it's still summer, you know. And I started Runaway Dream; Born To Run and Bruce Springsteen's American Vision by Louis P. Mazur. It's a pretty good read, dealing primarily with Springsteen's early career and the creative process involved with the creation and recording of his iconic record Born To Run in 1975.

Born To Run was released at about the same time I was getting out of the Air Force. My last two years were in the UK; I had heard some buzz about "The New Dylan" over there, but we were fed a steady diet of False Prophets in those days. I thought it was all hype.

My brother, five years younger than me, was a true believer and a member of Bruce's Church of Rock and Roll, Jersey Style. He worked on me, gained a convert, had me going to the Stone Pony and The Fast Lane on Fridays and Saturdays with him to see if and when Bruce would show up and jam- we saw a couple of Bruce's shows together years later, in fact we were at the then Brendan Byrne Arena on it's opening night during Bruce's The River tour.

The song he opened with; Born To Run.

Anyway.... yesterday I was feeling a bit nostalgic. I hadn't been to Asbury Park in years. That is, MANY years. Instead of going to Seaside Heights on the way home- who knows, an out of control Snookie might still be pounding on people at Seaside- I decided to just stay on Route 35 North to Asbury Park, and revisit some of the past, and get a look at the good, bad, and ugly of what was once a little jewel by the ocean.

Below, selected videos on Asbury Park found on YouTube. The still photographs were taken by me on August 30, 2010. Click the photo for a better view. More text and photos following the jump break

"The boys from the Casino dance with their shirts open like Latin lovers along the shore....Chasin' all them silly New York girls " "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)".

It was as if I was walking among ghosts when I stepped into the shell that was once The Casino. At one time an ornate carousel could be found here, the same one seen in Springsteen's Tunnel of Love video from the late 1980's. And there were the bumper cars, and in the lagoon in back of the Casino were peddle boats for rent, many shaped like swans. On October 28, 1990 it was all over for The Casino. What stands there now is a New Jersey version of a Roman ruin.

The Casino, 2010
The Casino 2010. Murals decorate the west walls.
Interior of The Casino
The Casino from the public parking lot. Where the merry-go-round once stood is now a storage area
Section of the dome , The Casino
Section of ironwork, The Casino
Mural inside The Casino
A mural in The Casino, the words of Junot Diaz
Mural, The Casino

One bit of inspiration and hope was the many boardwalk cafes and restaurants, a diverse and eclectic mix of ethnic delights. And of course, Asbury Park is still a rock and roll Mecca. On a given night in the Seventies or Eighties you could catch Southside Johnny, or Beaver Brown or even some young hair band called Bon Jovi in the Fast Lane or The Stone Pony. And the beat goes on....playing at the Stone Pony in early September; Max Weinberg and his big band. I wouldn't rule out a guest appearance from one or more prominent locals.

The Paramount Theater still has musical attractions, as does Convention Hall. I saw the Kinks there in 1981. We were all on "A Low Budget" those days.

I was really taken by how ornate the frieze on Convention Hall was, as you can see on the photos. It had a nautical theme, with anchors, shells, starfish, and sextons....something from a bygone era that had a quiet glory and elegance.

One of the dozens of sidewalk cafes, Asbury Park boardwalk.
Asbury Park boardwalk, August 30, 2010
The legendary Stone Pony
A COORS poster on the north wall of The Stone Pony
Entrance To Convention Hall
Frieze, Convention Hall
Frieze, Convention Hall
Poster for upcoming shows at The Paramount Theater
Convention Hall, Asbury Park
Poster for "Jersey Shore Roller Girls"
Madame Marie's- I should have asked her when the 8/30/10 power outage in Monmouth County would be over.

"Well the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do".- "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)"

Now, the real Madame Marie has long since been "retired".....so I've been told. And from the sign on her door it wasn't clear whether this was a family member or somebody bought The Franchise....but these days she does work by appointment, and you can call her anytime in case you need a psychic reading at this very minute.

The sign said nothing about house calls.
The Wonder Bar

"Beyond the Palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard.....girls comb there hair in rear view mirrors....and the boys try to look so hard"- "Born To Run"

The Wonder Bar on 5th and Ocean has a replica of "Tille", the smiling face that was found on the green Palace Amusements complex, built in 1888 and closed in 1988. The landmark fell into disrepair, and was finally demolished in 2004. Many of the artifacts from the Palace were held for safekeeping by the Asbury Park Historical Society. A volunteer group of friends of Asbury Park, Save Tillie, reported that 125 of those items were destroyed while in storage.

Below, a video look at The Palace from it's glory days to it's razing

For more information, check out the following sites.....

Preserve NJ

Welcome to Asbury Park- Springsteen Landmarks

Save Tillie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me where you got that black and white picture of Springsteen at the top? Working on a story about the carousel.

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