I won’t concentrate on the worst. You are totally capable of imagining it for yourself. Think rhinestone belt buckles, muffin tops, and Gino the Guido (not work safe). While a daytime visit would have been warmer and allowed for an $8 romp on the beach, I appreciated the over stimulation provided by the bright, colorful lights on the rides and game stands. I’ll summarize the evening’s events:
- Kat and I played at the
frog-launchingFrog-Bog stand at Casino Pier and won a teddy bear.
- I punished a large cone of Kohr’s frozen custard.
- I watched Bidya exploit a nine-year-old boy sitting next to her on a roller coaster. If you’re reading this, don’t be ashamed little man.
- And I ate some pizza that had been on display all day and did not get sick… yet.
This trip was my first to the Jersey Shore. Despite exclamations of fear of their own state, my guides, Kat and Bidya, apologetically asked me not to judge the state based on what I saw at Seaside Heights. Thus far, I’ve passed plenty of judgment on NJ just by driving on her roads and highways, if they can be called that. My tune hasn’t really changed after this weekend’s visit, but now I have some appreciation. I could say that the NJ shore is Americana’s tombstone, but I don’t really know what that means. It sounds smart though. However, if that sentence makes any sense, then it might explain why Kat was upset to see a Dunkin’ Donuts on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights. There’s almost nothing wrong with it, and in that sense it’s like an invasive species of seaweed. It doesn’t look like it doesn’t belong, but it doesn’t. It hitched a ride on a foreign vessel took root in this new harbor, and won’t ever go away. There’s no point in even trying to make it go away because it’s just seaweed. But you have to appreciate all the seaweed, and I sure do. Why? Because its extract, carrageenan, is used to make ice cream which is delicious. Going back to the frozen custard, I love the decadence. I want a machine to myself so I can bask in the dense, yolky glory of it all. Until I find a closer source of this joy pudding, I’ll still have some tolerance for NJ’s traffic.
But I digress. My point is that what makes places like Seaside Heights special is slipping away. These places aren’t exclusive to NJ. This year looks like the beginning of the end for Coney Island, for example. Some people will say that the remission is due to bad groups of people and their disrepute that are moving in. I disagree. Diversity is what makes these places in large part. The same goes for independence. Cramming various amusement parks, bars, and individual rides and games with different owners within a small area helps to keep prices down. Having more than one of the same ride or game within walking distance keeps lines bearable. In short, everything is more fun. Yet there are forces that are invading, be they subtle, passive, deliberate or blatant. I wouldn’t call the lone Dunkin’ Donuts blatant. I would, however, call what is happening and has been happening in Coney Island very blatant. For a concise history, read the Wikipedia article. And patronize one of the boardwalks. These places are not being allowed to just be and it’s a damn shame.