Friday, November 1, 2013

Setting and Soundtrack

So I already discussed this in Theme Song: my actual 2013 NaNoWriMo project (as opposed to my original idea) is taking place at the Jersey Shore. And if you mention that reality show to me here in this space, so help me....

But yeah. Nostalgia city.
As previously mentioned at the end of last Friday's post, it's going to take place largely in Asbury Park,  a town I spent quite a lot of time adjacent to, if not specifically in. I also *cough* wasn't born in 1979, but you see, that's when so many "family adventures" took place, the stories my aunts and dad and uncle told as I was growing up.
I'm not going to be using their stories, as that seems a bit disingenuous, but there's a certain mood those stories evoke, a feeling of possibility and golden hazed summer afternoons, too-hot car seats and blue skies and Bruce Springsteen on the radio. Always Bruce Springsteen; many of the people mentioned above have their own "Bruce Springsteen stories", though I realized I'm missing from that deck of card's my uncle's story (if he has one) and my youngest aunt's. I'll have to ask. 

It's strange, though, combing my admittedly faulty childhood memory (as all of ours are) for geographic information. Where was the old Shop-rite? Where was the Acme? I remember the Acme distinctly; it was in an indoor strip mall type jobby that had a musical instrument store next door (I think it's where Neptune and Asbury kids rented their school instruments? I dunno). It also had one of those ride machines for small children which cost a quarter. That particular ride was a big green frog with darker green spots.

It's hard to acknowledge to myself just how much the Neptune landscape changed since I was 5, in the mid-80's. What's still there, what isn't still there. The Dairy Queen is a Cone Zone, the one Carvel is Rita's Italian Ice. I don't know what the other Carvel, the one by Foodtown is (but now I'm wondering where the hell that Foodtown is, see? See what happens when you were 3 or 5 and got driven around?) (oh, that Foodtown is where Stop and Shop went. Stop and Shop used to be in a different, smaller area, adjacent to a Walgreens. Walgreens seems to have moved as well.) Maybe it's still Carvel. They didn't just used to be a brand of ice cream cake in the store freezers, you see. They were stores you went to. They still exist, sure, but it seems like less of a Thing.

Google Street View helps, bless its heart. Going for a rambling drive next time I'm home would help as well, but I know it good enough to fake it. If I don't think about it too hard, of course I know how you go from A to B to C. You don't need to think about the street names when it's in your muscle memory.

Asbury Park, as I said, I spent less time in. One of my aunts, or two, had apartments there are one time or another that I remember visiting. I went to at least one of the 102.7 WNEW concerts that they had on the beach (remember beach balls getting tossed about in the crowd at outdoor summer concerts?). I know I went to Palace Amusements at least once before it closed, and now that's gone. I read on the Interweb that the Casino's Carousel was sold off and moved in its totality to Myrtle Beach. Better than a junkyard, I guess. I saw Bruce Springsteen play in Convention Hall; I was only four or so people back from the stage by the end of it. That was the first time I heard "My City in Ruins", which he wrote for Asbury Park, but which went onto that collected artists September 11 CD. Strangely apropos, I guess. I've been to the Stone Pony (though accidentally shrunk my Stone Pony hoodie, dammit).
 (image from Wikipedia, though I think I still have one of these stickers somewhere)

That's another thing that's changed: radio stations. In that area of New Jersey, New York City stations are readily available, but I don't know what people listen to anymore. I used to listen to 102.7 WNEW which is now defunct, and 104.3, (WAXQ) which might not be (it's still Classic Rock, according to Wikipedia, but considering "classic rock" nowadays encompasses the Goddamn Stone Temple Pilots, I don't even know what to believe in anymore). I know WMMR came in from Philadelphia. I know that Nils Lofgren was not always teamed up with the E Street Band, and some radio stations were Nils Lofgren stations and others were Bruce Springsteen stations.

But anyway. I'm from New Jersey. I'm going to write New Jersey, summer nights at the beach, the music, the bar scene. Full moons and tattoos and magic, because why write just plain "literary" when you can throw some occult in there? That's what I thought. ( Weird NJ is also a fun resource, though they have far less on the web site than they used to). Buckle up kids (though I think seat belt laws might've been a little different back then too; I know the drinking age was 18, pertinent to our story).


  1. Sounds like you're definitely getting psyche for it.

    1. Psyched for it, or homesick...whichever ;)

      It's been going pretty well so far, I'll say. Approaching 6k!