today tom and i headed to the shore. tom wanted to do some more work on the boat (install a new ice maker, some speakers, tons of projects that he loves to do)! These were pretty much one man jobs (which I was ok with-its cold out still and the marina is no exception) so I decided to play tourist and check out the shore a bit more intensely. As many of you may know ( i HOPE you know), Bruce Springsteen began his career in Asbury Park. He, being one of my all time fave artists and this city being so close to the marina, it was an ideal destination for me today!
Let me set it up a bit:
There are some areas (most I would say) of the Jersey Shore that are beautiful, but there are also some areas that have, potential; potential to become what they once were a few decades ago. The latter describes Asbury Park. From one angle you see can see huge homes, some along the water, that will amaze and from another angle quaint, tree lined main streets that make you feel like you are in a small town. However, Asbury, I have learned is not what it once was. The most kind way to describe this town is that it is in a remodel--one that it has been in for years. Giant unfishinshed hotels line the shore, condos promising shore living that have had their creation halted due to the mortgage crisis, boarded up homes and hotels littered with graffiti.
Granted, it is Winter and probably not the most beautiful time to visit the Shore: the sandy beaches and vast boardwalks lose some of the awe they hold in the warmer months and I am guessing in the summer sun, just like with most people, everything looks a little better with a tan. :-)
Anyway--I decided to hit some of the hotspots that are famous for Bruce.
As I drove to each destination I was shocked to find that I literally was the ONLY person on the streets (driving or walking). It felt odd. I realize its Sunday, but still--I saw one person signing his own version of Opera in a small corner park and a jogger--that was it.
My first stop was the Stone Pony. This is the most famous Bruce spot in the city as this is where he played most gigs and its noted as his favorite. Looking at some old pics of the place, it still pretty much looks the same now as it did back in the early 80's. I attached a pic. It resides across the street from the beach and in the early days, one could see ferris wheels, huge hotels and tons of people out each night. The view from the Stone Pony look drastically different today. Its sad.
My next stop was the Boardwalk. I cannot wait until the summer! The boardwalk is beauiful and its steps from the beach. It is the one place that hasn't changed over the years. In the summer it will be packed with people as it was in its hey day.
Check the pic.
Next, the Fast Lane. This club can boast that the best have played here, including: Bruce, U2, REM and... Bon Jovi! to name a few. The pics here show the Fast Lane today as well as an early pic I found on the Fast Lane site of Bruce and Jon Bon Jovi playing there.
After driving past the remnants of the Metropolitan Hotel (see vintage before pic and after) which is for sale currently, I decided to walk Main street. I found a great little off the wall coffee shop and spoke to a local about the towns music history and the impact its made on the world. We also discussed what has become of Asbury today and the promises from various city and state governement entities promising to make it again what it once was. I was encouraged to come back and visit in the summer when I will see for myself why the residents here want to belive these promises. As for Bruce, according to this guy, he still makes the rounds a few times each summer, stopping to say hello to many (he lives just a couple towns away).
(side note: I think this guy lost a bit of respect for me when I asked if Jon Bon Jovi ever came in... his answer was a flat "no").
After this full day I went back to the boat, marveled at how much Tom had gotten done there and we headed home. It was a great day and Asbury is now a destination on my "to visit" list that I can mark complete.
I have also added a link (below, copy and paste) to some current news on the status of bringing Asbury back to what it once was. Sadly, its not a very promising article.