The Great American Saloon Series / The Jersey Shore

Mysak, Joe

1_HF [~HFAl' THE JERSEY SHORE The first attraction of the Jersey Shore is the beach, stretching for mile after unbroken mile along the Atlantic. The second is drinking. Not drinking in the...

...Eyen then, it is never rtaliy . gone., fiat :.rather towed out to the 4000 Loran Line, where it provides homes for tilefish and Big-Eye tuna...
...May .1980 good early episodes featuring William Frawley as Bub (because those were shot in black and white), discuss the sinister aspects of Fred MacMurray ("he showed his true colors in The Caine Mutiny"), and tackle such favorites as cars, girls, war, What They Will Do, possible salaries, Everyone Else, sports, Sunday's double-header, and the transcendental qualities of the ocean...
...The Shore is, in a word, unrelieved...
...I am speaking of morning-after scenes that resemble nothing so much as Shiloh...
...At the Shore, such conventional Americans look out of place...
...The boardwalks, which are only sometimes made of boards and more often of asphalt, have provided the state's only contribution to the architect's vocabulary: Shore Gothic, best described as an agglomeration of structural summer designs dating from 1870 through 1958, when all construction apparently ceased...
...Nothing at the Shore is ever torn down, ever -but in some rare cases it is moved from one spot to another...
...There is vintage Cape May, which is Victorians run amok, Asbury Park, variously known as Newark-by-the-Sea or Big Arcade Slum, and Atlantic City, which, before the steel and glass revival of the Casino Age, was Ocean Art Deco...
...A number of distinct styles have emerged from Shore Gothic, but are known only to experts...
...gross...
...At the Shore there are no trees...
...I am speaking of virtual orgies of self-destruction and alcohol abuse, of blind staggers, dry heaves, the basic shakes, the heebie jeebies, and ultimate delirium tremens...
...Nor are the occasional families-as seen in the typical automobile ad, the kinds who adorn their rented cottages with plaques done up with woodburning sets: THE KENNEDYS-no, they are not the Shore either...
...FFC SI}Y s: Ľof Bos~lle P rk," The itrntriea:Spadror...
...The boys drink...
...There is no mystery about it...
...There are no front yards, and there is no ozone layer...
...In car-fighting, the matador steps into the street with a shirt or tartan plaid blanket, waves it, and executes several passes against automobiles, at times on his knees...
...A few psychologists have opined that most of those who occasionally visit the Shore are hell-bent for alcohol, while those who rent houses there are so bored out of what is left of their minds that they try .to drink them (continued on page 36) THE AMERICAN S CTATAR SEPTEMBER 1981 27...
...Experts have noted that the Jersey Shore consumes more beer, from May to September, than does the continent of Australia in a year...
...In the waning twilight hours, one of them might begin car-fighting, a sport inspired by Jean Shepherd and by Ernest Hemingway's Death in the Afternoon...
...Here we have the better kid cars: Corvettes, TransAms, Firebirds, Camaros, Mustangs, Triumphs, BMWs, and Volkswagens -as well as the miscellaneous ancient wrecks usually driven by the young...
...They would roll into Manasquan around 2 a.m...
...The parents know exactly what is happening, and the kids admit as much when they leer at a friend's parents with a look that says, "Imagine the worst, and know in your heart of hearts that it's all really happening...
...The Shore is affectedly low-rent in appearance, although its inhabitants gladly fork over about $1,000 a bedroom for summer bungalows that would not look out of place in Appalachia, suburban Pittsburgh, or the Blue Ridge...
...Amateurs usually choose cars with dimensions of cabin cruisers, while more advanced matadors readily challenge smaller, more maneuverable Toyotas and Datsuns...
...The beach is interrupted only by vast plastic and neon palaces of garish design and vulgar appeal, known quaintly as boardwalks...
...The only way to kill it is to blow it away in a hurricane, which _happened_ in 1938, or to dynamite it...
...1 ~rl:Rl( ..\ S:I1.(K )\ ~1.4tti1.` by Joe Mysak No, the Real Shore is kid heaven, thousands of white, upper and middle-class bluejeaned kids on a mam moth, summer-long bender, in cars, awash in beer, the Beach Boys, and Bruce Springsteen...
...Not drinking in the conventional, convivial sense, for the Jersey Shore is not exactly inhabited by sane people...
...I am speaking here of your basic collegiate, gut-wrenching guzzling, of fabulous and fantastic drinking contests, of sheer stupendous quantity battling with bottomless capacity, of colossal hangovers...
...bizarre...
...Consider, for a heroic but hardly unusual example, the Cranford Athletic Club, which in its more exuberant years rented a house in the notorious Shore ghetto of Manasquan...
...Friday morning and collapse...
...Sure, there are rich homeowners whose gorgeous oceanfront piles dot the windswept bluffs, whose manses make up such burgs as Spring Lake, Deal, and Long Branch...
...For one thing, the Shore is kid fantasy land, forever populated with males and females aged 16 to 28...
...But this goes so far and no further...
...And they would drink...
...Now that the stage is set, follow a typical group through a Shore road trip...
...And drink, case after case of Michelob, Budweiser, Heineken, Miller, Schlitz, Schmitz, and Shaefer...
...Five, sometimes ten, but no less than three members would storm the Shore after a Thursday night consisting of three hours of softball in the Cambodian heat of central New Jersey, followed by four hours of heavy-duty beer drinking in the 35-degree reaches of the famed Frenchy's beer hall, previously described in these columns.' As many ACs as were going down would pile into one car, preferably the '69 Cadillac convertible with the 470 engine, and roar down the beautiful and picturesque Garden State Parkway...
...The ground, when it is not part of the Garden State Parkway, is sand, blacktop, chipping concrete, splintery grey wood, broken glass almost exclusively from beer bottles, and bottle caps...
...In other words, the stuff of stories told in premature old age, of things we don't even now actually quite believe we did then, even though then is not so very many years ago...
...Shore towns are planned by the same fellows who laid out Hong Kong, and are bleached white under a fierce sun and a cloudless sky...
...The kid announces that this weekend he's going to the Shore, Beach Blanket Animal House, and the parent says, "Have a nice time at the beach, dear...
...There is no grass...
...But they are not the Shore...
...The Shore also has a population of millions of cars, whose existence is separate and distinct from the thousands of tender delinquents who apparently own them...
...Instead of panic, the typical parental response is one of studied unconcern...
...The reasons are complex, and probably understood only by Aleuts and Swedes, who have delved into the effects of environment upon alcohol consumption at great length, most notably in Bergman films and in the carved scenes on walrus tusks...
...even pathetic...
...Friday they would go to the beach, watch the girls, swim, watch "My Three Sons" on television over lunch, comment on the absence of the really ;doe Mysak ltd not go to tb~ Shore vthis year...
...Some of the more lasting records of prodigious consumption include 34 cans in an eight-hour stretch, and 21 in less than three hours...
...The bigger autos make more of an impressive show, but the smaller ones take more skill to fight...
...At one point, it was estimated that every five seconds somebody on the Shore is knocking down a brew...
...I am speaking of drinking done by those in search of the First Real Hangover, of drinking as done by the young, by those just learning, and by those desperately trying to reach their peak consumption level, which, as we all come to know, declines rather drastically after age 25...
...The whole Shore thing surpasses even such events in the Jersey kid's life as getting a license or going to the prom...

Vol. 14 • September 1981 • No. 9


 
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