Monday, July 18, 2011

Sunday night on the boardwalk

Seaside Heights brawl leads to arrest of 8 N.Y. residents

Eight Brooklyn, N.Y. residents were arrested following a fight in Seaside Heights early Sunday morning,

Police used peppery spray to break up the brawl around 1:30 a.m. near the intersection of Hancock Avenue and Ocean Terrace, the report said. All eight were charged with disorderly conduct. Three were also charged with resisting arrest.
That's  the whole story. A few weeks ago Seaside Heights had a very rough night after the 4th of July Fireworks. Arrested about 60 people & needed help from other police departments.

This kind of story draws shocked & angry comments about how Seaside Heights has gone downhill, people from New York, illegal immigrants, yadda yadda.

Nearly 30 years ago, toward the end of the first draft of my long poem about the boardwalk, in a section I never saw much need to revise, fights break out, beer bottles are thrown from motel balconies, people are arrested, girls cry. It was based on my observations of Seaside Heights late on a Sunday Night - early Monday morning.

From the time I began staying with my grandmother in Atlantic City as a young adolescent I noticed that Sunday nights (or a holiday Monday night) are a bummer on the boardwalk. Families that just arrived for a week's vacation pack in it early for the night, they have a full beach day coming up & they aren't blowing their mad money the first  evening they're in town. Every family has a vacation pace, a routine. What's left on the boardwalk Sunday nights are mostly nasty leftover weekenders who can't let go & go home.

Seaside Heights was always rough & rowdy on weekends. It's close to the Garden State Parkway. You can drive there from North Jersey & New York for a day & evening if you don't mind the tired drive home - & I've made plenty of those drives.  Generally, I've avoided boardwalks on Fridays & Saturdays, & Sunday nights, as noted, could even be grim.

I got so fed up with hearing drunks on the street at 3 a.m.  in Wildwood (& occasionally in the motel where I stayed) that I moved up the island a mile, & it was peaceful there at night.

If you want a Jersey boardwalk to be like Disneyworld, sorry, ain't gonna happen. You have to accept & even like  the chaos, the diversity, the honky tonk. Many people don't like it. In fact, Seaside Heights is fine for kids, assuming you keep an eye on the younger ones  & aren't letting them run loose at midnight. Boardwalks are designed for spendthrifts - same as Orlando. They invite excess. Difference is, theme parks (& casinos) put the bars & clubs in the hotels so all you have to do is stagger to the elevator.

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Our shore house is on Long Beach Island, but we would make ride to Seaside a few times a year. Sometimes by car and others by boat. It actually took less time by boat. We called it Paterson By the Sea. Still do.
Boardwalks have always been disreputable places. Coney Island, Seaside,Atlantic City, Wildwood. & the Puritans & snobs have always clucked about how bad they are, the rip off stores, games of chance, overpriced bad food, fortunetellers, loud music bars. Rich, poor & in-between all mixed together. I say, OK, that's cool, go to Spring Lake & Stone Harbor. I have never felt in danger on a Jersey boardwalk at 9 pm on a summer night, & I don't go to boardwalks to get mean drunk in some stuffy loud club.
There were a few years when I wouldn't go on the Asbury Park boardwalk after dark,
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