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Friday, October 16, 2015



     The sun is starting to plant itself lower in the Somers sky. There are only a couple weekends left before the chill in the air tells you that autumn is approaching, and also that you left your air conditioner on "hold." Before the leaves start piling up and I have to figure out how to work the lawn blower, it was off to Belmar, New Jersey for a weekend at the shore. After a beautiful day at the beach I like to hop on the bicycle and explore the sights, smells and sounds that have made the Jersey Shore a favorite destination of mine.

     I ride up Ocean Avenue by the Shark River Inlet. I did see some fins, but it was just a '64 El Dorado. I pass through Avon-by-the-Sea, which is pronounced "Ahhhvahhn." They're pretty particular about this, and if you're asking for directions and say it wrong I'm sure the police will give you a ticket. Just for kicks I always say the "Avon" part correctly, but butcher the "by-the-Sea" part. Why are you asking directions anyway? Just travel east until you get to the-Sea, and Avon is by-it. We have the same thing in Westchester, and I say a quick prayer for those poor people who drowned tragically looking for Croton-on-Hudson, not realizing that Croton is BY-the-Hudson, not ON-it.

     Walking my bike along the boardwalk at Asbury Park, I stop to watch a five-on-five beach volleyball game. It's nine guys and one girl, and every time the ball comes her way, a guy jumps in front of her to save the day in a sandstorm of glory. Never once does any of them make the play. America invested a lot of money in Title IX, guys- it's time to reap the benefits.

     I wallk a little farther and there is a jazz band set up at an outdoor tiki bar, with a great guitarist and a mean trombone player. No he really was mean- he almost knocked over a drink every time he hit a low note.

     Back on my bike I head north to Deal. When the name of your own town tells you to get a grip, you'd better re-examine your life. While I was getting an ice cream I heard a clamor erupting from the church across the street- it was a drum circle. I'm a drummer, so I went over to investigate. Drum circles remind me of the first grade, where they gave everyone a hat and something to bang on, and we paraded around the room until recess. I got a little egg to shake, and I remember thinking that when it comes time to hatch this thing, there's going to be a lot of finger-pointing. I'm not much of a church guy, but everyone was having fun, so during the break I asked the timbale player if they knew, "Smoke on the Water." "That's the one we just did," he said. "I thought we played that two songs ago," the conga guy offers. I turned to a guy with a tambourine and said, "Hey, Mr. tambourine man, play a song for me."  He said, "How about 'Mr. Tambourine Man?'" But when he started playing it, it
sounded a lot like "Smoke on the Water."

     I realized I had no feeling from my waist down, due to my uncomfortable bicycle seat, so I make a U-turn onto E Street and head back. Bruce Springsteen permeates the air at the Jersey Shore like a kind of musical smog. His presence is everywhere- even a bus parked at the senior's center had a sticker on it announcing that it was paid for by Bruce. By the time I pointed my car back onto the Garden State I knew every word to every Springsteen song every written, and a few that he was still working on. I was cruising along until I got to somewhere around Matawan, and then all of a sudden the highway was jammed with broken heroes and there was no place left to hide. I made that noise that Bruce makes right before the saxophone solo, and just like that, the summer was almost over....

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