Tag Archives: seaside park

Stuck in a Corner With You: An Ode to the Claw.

The best kind of cornered. With Dot, Freddy, and B Bins.

The best kind of cornered. With Dot, Freddy, and B Bins.

The Crab’s Claw Inn. An institution. -al establishment. I’ve been familiar with the Claw for years, but I only began to properly cherish it this past summer, while working next door at Shaded Vision. (An institution.)

On Friday, the Claw re-opened its door to the public for the first time since Superslut –storm Sandy. When I arrived at 10 p.m., the place was packed with jubilant patrons, doling out hugs and high fives by the hundreds, downing Winter Ales and Yuenglings, and, mostly, smiling. So much smiling.

Houses have been flattened, gutted, renovated, rebuilt. The Heights opened its streets to… everyone. Park residents were allowed to go home. Cheese balls were served. But this? This felt like a real milestone. It felt like the mail man and the boutique owner and the bar owner and your mom’s friend and the pro surfer and the restorer were able, maybe, to feel almost normal again. Maybe. They saw each other with drinks in their hands again, in a place to which they all pledged allegiance, a long time ago, without ever saying a word.

You see, the Claw is like our Central Perk. It’s where we go after work and spend our hard-earned dollars on deliciously unpretentious fare prepared and delivered by people with heart. Where plans are made and friends are met. Where we replenish ourselves after hours in the sea. And remind ourselves that we’ll be in the sea in just hours. We go to eat dinner. Or to skip dinner. We sing and dance, talk story, talk shit, aggrandize waves and fish and babes. Everybody probably doesn’t know your name, but I’d bet that everybody knows your face. It’s where we go when we don’t want to go home, or when we can’t go home. It is a sort of home.

I know how this sounds. It’s not that we’re a bunch of alcoholic bar flies. Because the Claw isn’t really just a bar. It’s an institution. And it’s back.

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Dispatches From The Eye Of The Storm. AKA Oh Sandy. Two.

On the morning of Saturday, November 3rd, I wake up at 7:30 a.m. to a dark room. The nightlight I plugged into the wall, a subtle alert to the presence of electricity, is still dim. I grudgingly push two down comforters aside and climb out of bed, wearing the latest in pajama couture: Long socks, shorts, sweats, and a hoodie layered beneath a ski sweater. It’s our sixth day without electricity and it’s 4 degrees in my house. But at least I have a house. I keep reminding myself. So many of my friends lost everything. But at least they are safe.

This headspace is surreal. I remember watching Katrina and her aftermath on the television, and being unable to process what I was seeing. Too much destruction and sorrow. Human kindness–as well as malevolence.

The night before, I sat in my friend’s living room, absorbing borrowed warmth, and watching the nationally televised Sandy benefit concert, broadcast from Rockefeller Center in New York City, where half of Manhattan still didn’t have power. Another friend who made the journey back through the Lincoln Tunnel said returning to the City was the strangest thing she’s ever experienced. It’s hard to fathom New York standing still.

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The September sessions. So far.

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I stumbled out of bed at 5:12 a.m. on Wednesday, washed my face. Changed into a ‘kini. Pulled on cutoff jean shorts. Listened to early morning political discussions while I drove to the island. I grabbed three coffees from Wawa and grabbed two friends from up the street. We checked a spot just to the north and headed for the inlet. Somehow, we found parking. The lineup was a madhouse. Mad people, mad waves. Pulsing, beautiful, large. The skilled, the swell-deprived junkies blocked and dropped in on each other as the unskilled allowed their boards to drag them over the falls on top of their fellow watermen. And women. There were two of us out there. A minuscule percentage.

I managed the paddle out easily, navigated the clean-up sets without incidence, stayed sufficiently out of the way. I sacrificed noteworthy rides for peace of mind. Dot suffered sets on the head and aggro challengers, a board to the mouth. She situated herself amidst the action. Not interested in staying out of your way, sir.

After an hour and a half, I aimed for the beach, only to be tossed around and crushed to the bottom by menacing shorebreak. I clawed my way onto the sand and sat down with a not-so-small effort to refrain from embarrassing collapse. I told myself I’d wait for Leslie to pass before paddling out again.

I stumbled out of bed at 5:32 a.m. on Thursday. Continue reading

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Last Wednesday: West Winds and Parkway Beats

Last Wednesday, I brought my board when I met Jackie at the beach–mostly because I could; not necessarily because I expected the surf to be any good. The Park has decided to let us surf anywhere that is not a designated swimming area. Finally. This means that if you happen to have a day free of work or other obligations, you don’t have to rise with the sun to get in a decent session before the lifeguards kick your ass down to the ever-migrating surf beach. Since the regulation relaxation, I’ve noticed a lot more surfers in the water. Lured out by facility, I guess. Getting up super early/dropping by post-work does require some additional effort, which I can see being a deterrent–especially when the afternoon swell is often killed by the wind and the tides only occasionally ally themselves with your free time.

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“That man behind you is naked.”

“What?”

I’m laying on the beach in Seaside Park. Katy doesn’t appear to be fucking with me, so I prop myself on an elbow and peer south: Penis. Of the middle-aged persuasion.

Then Speedo. Never thought I’d be so grateful for a Speedo.

As we’re recovering from the shock of such flagrant nudity on a non-nude beach, the guy begins walking determinedly in our direction, sunscreen in hand. No. We strategically avert our eyes and act as if we haven’t noticed. Until he is upon us, glaring sun behind his aged back, in all his Speedoed glory.

He quickly utters lots of German words that probably translate, most nearly, to “Will you please rub this sunblock on my back? I can’t reach. I’m German.”

I find myself speechlessly shaking my head with a dazed and horrified look in my eyes. Jackie glances from him to me and back, amused. Katy grudgingly says, “I’ll do it,” and stands up.

For the entire 30 seconds that she’s applying cream to the nude dude’s back, her expression is one of absolute disgust. Like a vegan confronted with freshly hacked pig flesh. Disgust to the nth degree.

“GermanGermanGermanIndecipherableGermanDankeGermanDanke.” This is obviously the reason he’s unaware that it’s not okay to expose your d at F Street. Fair. Maybe.

He returns to his blanket and lays down. On his back. Katy is bewildered.

She is also from England, visiting our fine shoals for the first time. Welcome to the Land of Enchantment (Jersey totally deserves it more than NuMex).

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Seaside Park 5.25.10

A few not so great photos of a pretty decent day…

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Sandblasted Benches + Slop (+ Fog)

This is what the beach looked like today…

…hoping for better conditions (and visibility) mañana, though it does look all eerie and cool in the fog.

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Thanksgiving Weekend: Better Than A High School Reunion

I have it on good authority that Thanksgiving Eve is a pretty widely celebrated event (unlike Sunday Funday – Hello, Jersey!) but I think beach people do it up right.  We’ve got boardwalk bars and theoretically, no bennies to behold, as it is not appropriate wife beater-donning weather.  You and everyone you wish you went to high school with go out and get merry.  Then, to your parents’ dismay and/or relief, you crash on someone’s couch and end up at home just in time for an absurdly early dinner feast.  Or at least that’s how it “should” be.  This year on Thanksgiving Eve, I slept in my own bed, and spent the [hangover-free] next day baking apple pie.  Seaside hardly saw any of the familiar faces, let alone the used-to-be-familiar ones, who usually show up on this venerated bar night.  Maybe we can blame the economy.  Or the fact that we’re beginning to grow up?

On Saturday, I celebrated two of my friends’ birthdays with dinner and a party, which definitely made up for a lackluster Wednesday.  Just about everyone I missed on T.E. was there.  As I scanned the room full of good-looking guests, I realized that the couch looked like a scene from 1080 Snowboarding: 4 or 5 guys with scruffy facial hair and beanies lounged with beer cans resting on their Billabong-clad knees.  These guys have lived in Hawaii and Costa Rica and talk of returning, and oddly enough, dreaming of traveling to these paradises made me feel like I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

The morning after:

Blown-over sand dunes = forced rule breaking (if you want to access the beach).

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