Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ
Here I am. Back where it all started. It’s amazing. It’s amusing. It’s a place I’ve iconized in my minds eye. It was a place of growth and a place of rebirth. For me. For many. Part of something bigger than all of us. Youth. Art. Music. Lust. Passion. A culmination of time, talent, opportunity, and friendships, crystallizing into the stuff dreams are made of. But at what point do we wake up?
It’s now 2010 some 25 years later. Time has taken a toll, on memories and conditions. Asbury is still a town in transition. A town possibly on the verge of rebirth, but still a slow and painful one. As I walked the streets with my friends Geoff Hoover & Dorothy Orant Morrison, ghosts of days past shown themselves and at times were laid to rest. Places that were once dead were now gentrified. For better or worse. Time marches on. And so did we.
From my digs on Bond Street, a once old decrepit storefront, came sounds of industry and rebirth. In 1986 I found this place, after a bit of searching. It looked like something “post WW II … after the bombings”. I came in and pumped a few thousand dollars into the interior. With the help of an unemployed carpenter hungry for work, and my friend Ziggy Shock, we re-framed, insulated, sheet rocked, and painted, both upstairs and down. Turning the downstairs into an (illegal) apartment for myself, and the upstairs into my practice space and recording studio. The outside looked as “trashed as ever” to disguise the new-found gem within. I had worked out and signed a five year lease with the landlord. I would pay $75.00 a month for rent the first year. The second year jumped to a whopping $150.00, and every year after would only increase 10%. By the end of the fifth year I’d still be paying under $200.00 per month rent! Not a bad deal!
My Bond Street address was the perfect place to make music. Businesses did business during the day, and at night, well into the wee hours of the morning was the time to make music and practice. The only other businesses near by were the Bond Street Bar, a then lesbian bar, and Dottie’s Back Street Vintage, there were no residential addresses for blocks. If I was feeling the muse and the beginnings of a new song, I could go upstairs, turn on, tune up, and start playing.
I wish I had more photos of the actual storefront. I never took many photos of the place. Don’t know why. That’s just the way it was. There are the few Polaroids you see above.
The girls of the Bond Street Bar use to watch my place … just because they could … anyone in the place had a
clear line of sight at my front door. So I’d always get reports from Cookie the bartender if someone strange was lurking or knocking.
Back then Dottie’s Back Street Vintage was the place everybody met. All the musicians, artists, and drag queens would go there to shop for new old threads. That’s where we all met. And Dottie would also be a social matchmaker. “Joe you need to meet X, Y, Z … you’d love them!” And so it went. I met a lot of great people who walk into those doors, musicians and artists alike. There were amazing parties, band playing, and Dottie’s “Vintage Fashion Shows” … what a spectacle those were!
With this latest trip back to New Jersey, I visited my past … on so many levels. Tramping around Asbury Park with my buddy Geoff & ex-girlfriend Dorothy. Me telling the stories of my past and seeing the Asbury of the here and now, and trying to embrace and comprehend both. The reason I was there, was to attend the Hoover Hootenanny. And incredible musical extravaganza and party where friends, played music or sang for friends, new and old. There was enough nostalgia to go around. Whether walking the backstreets of Asbury, or going to the beach with Geoff and his boys … I was home!