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A. Park as seen from Ocean Grove across Wesley Lake. Paul Goldfinger photograph © c. 2014

A. Park as seen from Ocean Grove across Wesley Lake. Paul Goldfinger photograph © c. 2014.  click to enlarge  RE-POST 2018.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor@ Blogfinger.net   Photos and text.  Relevant in 2018 regarding the contrasts between Asbury Park and Ocean Grove.

 

In case you haven’t noticed, according to last Sunday’s NY Times,  Asbury Park, at least the part by the ocean, is a huge success attracting hot-shots from all over the mid-Atlantic to this “beach destination.”  It seems that the turning point is the new 110 room Asbury Hotel, a brilliantly conceived venue which the chief designer, Anda Andrei, calls “luxury with modesty.”

According to the Times, the “City  by the Sea” has officially risen from the ashes and has become a place where “everyone and everything” is happening.  Below are some of the observations reported  by the Times in their featured article in the “Next Stop” series on Sunday, July 10, 2016, written by Eric Lipton, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist:

“IStar is the NYC based real estate company that owns all 35 acres of beachfront land.  Madison Marquette is the company in charge of leasing retail space at the beachfront.   These companies plan to invest over $1 billion in AP over the next 10 years.”

Regarding the demographics of those who populate the scene in AP, it is described as an “eclectic mix of professionals, families, young bar hoppers, and a large gay population—-all of them across income levels.”

The author of the article said, “Now the rebirth of Asbury Park is no longer in question.  The only question that does remain is how much of Asbury’s character will be retained as it becomes a summertime mecca again.”

The executive in charge of iStar told the Times that “his company is determined not to turn Asbury Park into Disneyland.”

You can already get a feel for that when you check out the eating establishments on the boards—no pizza slices and French fries for them.

“The music scene is still the element that holds Asbury Park together with at least eight venues featuring live music.”

Paul Goldfinger photograph ©

Paul Goldfinger photograph ©

Downtown more than two dozen restaurants and bars comprise an eclectic collection of fine shops, galleries, and bakeries.   The Festhall and Biergarten across the lake from OG is filled with “over 700 patrons on busy weekend nights.”

Clearly this Times article was aimed at a crowd that would respond to the “Brooklyn by the beach” nickname, but when Eric Lipton wondered about retaining the original AP “character,” it wasn’t clear what image he had in mind.

The article failed to consider that AP is a city that consists of more than just a destination for glitterati.  There are people who live there who are ordinary folks—not hipsters, and they bring a beautiful down-home, multi-racial sensibility to the City which has deeper roots than fancy restaurants and cool destinations.   There is a tapestry in Asbury Park, not just designer clothes.

Asbury Park Boardwalk. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Asbury Park Boardwalk. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Also there is no recognition in the article of the state of affairs in some parts of town west of the tracks, the poverty, the unemployment, the poor condition of Main Street,  and the pervasive crime problems, primarily surrounding the considerable drug scene over there.

Farmer's market in the Caorusel building. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Farmer’s market in the Carousel building. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  click to see the fun.

And as we all know who live in this area, Asbury Park is not isolated—it has neighbors. Regarding the “eclectic mix” that visits A. Park, the author says that the mix is “in striking contrast to the more stuffy (and staid) nearby beach towns, like Spring Lake.”

Uh, excuse me, but if you are going to contrast Asbury to a nearby town, there is an actual striking contrast with next door Ocean Grove, just south of A. Park—-a much more interesting place than “staid” Spring Lake.

There is a small reference to OG in a side bar which, like most inattentive media, gets it wrong about us—painting us as some shriveled-up museum-like religious town.  He says, “Ocean Grove is a dry town built around religious summer camps—God’s Square Mile is its slogan—-so no bars with music there. But it is a museum of Victorian architecture.”

Ocean Grove as seen from Asbury Park. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Ocean Grove as seen from Asbury Park. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Eric Lipton  mentions our ” more than a dozen bed and breakfast options,” but who would want to visit our embalmed town?  The dynamic interaction between these two beach towns which is developing, goes unrecognized by the media.  Ocean Grove may not be where the cool crowd goes, but our history, diversity, beauty, quietude, and family lifestyles provide quite an impressive and favorable comparison to the sparkling high life going on across Wesley Lake.

So, what will Ocean Grove become by comparison as AP morphs into a very special place with its own character, fame, and attraction?  Will we evolve into a historical prototype of small town America with a famous Victorian architecture, a religious flavor, a unique character, a classy culture, and a wonderful personality of its own that will complement what is happening to the north?

Or will we be left in the dustbin of history as a place with stifling crowding, insoluble  parking concerns, a has-been Victorian success story,  condos all over town, a pseudo-Asbury  at the North End, and a town devoid of community—– known for gizmos and Abba on the Pathway but no art, culture, or values of its own?  All that will be left to focus on will be the Camp Meeting Association with its specific mission and lifestyle—worthy as part of the community, but less impressive all by itself.

CELIA CRUZ:  (Live)   Turn on the music and then look at the gallery below.

An Asbury Park gallery—-the other side of A. Park,  by Paul Goldfinger @Blogfinger.net.   Click on one and follow the arrows.  Use the small X upper left to return to Blogfinger proper  (or improper as the case may be.)

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Asbury Park boardwalk. June, 2015. By Moe Demby,Blogfinger staff. ©

Asbury Park boardwalk. June, 2015. By Moe Demby,Blogfinger staff. ©

 

Moe Demby has his eyes on more than pepperoni as he visits the A. Park boards.

We don’t know if Moe actually ate pizza or if he was using that café as a duck blind, hunting for chicks.

If any of you get some great shots of girls in summer clothes, we are working on a center fold edition, so send them to us before you settle for Playboy.

Thanks Moe—as they say in baseball, “good eye, good eye.”

 

 

THE MARVELOUS WONDERETTES:

 

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RE-POST  from  2015.  Still relevant:

 

Old Salvation Army housing is being turned into a boutique hotel in Asbury Park. Prosper Belizia photo, Blogfinger staff. Old Salvation Army housing is being turned into a boutique hotel in Asbury Park. Prosper Bellizia photo, Blogfinger staff. April, 2015. ©

 

Is this the historic look that the HPC wants for the North End? The CMA seems to create the good old days in the Grove and call it Is this the historic look that the HPC wants for the North End?*   The CMA seems to want to re-create the good old days in the Grove and call it “historic.”

 

This space on the southern border of Asbury Park, across from Wesley Lake will get condos in the future. Does Ocean Grove need to add more condos to the neighborhood? Blogfinger photo. This space on the southern border of Asbury Park, across from Wesley Lake, will get condos in the future. Does Ocean Grove need to add more condos to the neighborhood?  Isn’t AP more in need of “redevelopment” than we are?      Blogfinger photo.

 

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

 

If you were wondering what our new North End hotel might look like, better hope it doesn’t take shape like the one on top.   The NERP calls for an 85 room hotel, but don’t worry—-remember that the HPC must approve the design.  What? You don’t trust the HPC? Perhaps you are thinking about the Greek Temple on Main Avenue or about the new Mary’s Place which will take up two lots and look like a pseudo- Victorian building designed to fool the tourists.

Or perhaps it occurs to you that there are enough hotels in the neighborhood counting the one above, so maybe we don’t need another hotel in the Grove. Currently in Asbury Park there are 3 hotels:  Berkley-Carteret, Tides, and Empress. In Ocean Grove we have Majestic, Shawmont, and Laingdon.

How about a nice park which we could call “Hotel Park” to remember the old North End Hotel which became useless in its time and was finally torn down in 1978.

Did you have a look at recently built condos in Ocean Grove  (e.g. on Ocean Pathway)  or in Asbury Park?  What do you think?

Editor’s note March, 2021. We have posted the architects design* for the hotel and condos.  It has a pseudo-Victorian look.

Historic zoning should not have permitted a hotel now at this site.  Just because there was a hotel before in that vicinity does not mean that another one should be allowed.  The 1911 hotel at the North End was demolished in 1978.  Note that the Asbury Hotel has opened in the interim, while the Tides has closed.

 

 

JOE WILLIAMS  From his album Music for Lovers

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MOGO time Asbury Park, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo ©. July 12, 2016.

MOGO time Asbury Park, NJ. Paul Goldfinger photo ©. July 12, 2016.

 

FRANK SINATRA

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Madam Marie's. Asbury Park boardwalk. October 21, 2015 © Blogfinger.net

Madam Marie’s. Asbury Park boardwalk. October 21, 2015 © Blogfinger.

SANTANA

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Santa baby. Perhaps the sweetheart of Sigma Chi. Asbury Park. December, 2015. Paul Goldfinger portrait. © Blogfinger.com

Could this muse be the sweetheart of Sigma Chi?   Asbury Park, NJ, December 2015.  Photo by Paul Goldfinger © Blogfinger.net. Re-post.

 

THE AMES BROTHERS:

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Asbury Park. 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Asbury Park. 2014. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©   Click to call this meeting to order.

FRANK RANDALL:

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Asbury Park. June 19, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo. ∂

Asbury Park. June 19, 2016. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©  Click to enlarge.

 

MONICA ZETTERLUND  (Swedish jazz singer)  and THE BILL EVANS TRIO.   This is from an album called Waltz for Debby which was recorded in 1964 to great critical acclaim.

“Once Upon a Summertime” is a French song written by Michel Legrand.  Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics as heard in this album.

 

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Café Volan. A.P. Paul Goldfinger photo. July 15, 2015.

Café Volan. A.P. Paul Goldfinger photo. Re-posted from 2018.

 


Eileen Goldfinger at Volan sampling a scone from Balthazar’s * in SoHo. Paul Goldfinger ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.  There are a few minor revisions in this 2015 and 2018  re-post.

Some of you might wonder about the persistent search for a great coffee shop near OG, since there are several places in the Grove where you can buy coffee.  The reason is, for some of us, we seek more than just coffee.  In our culture, and in Europe, the coffee shop is a comfortable gathering place where one can appreciate the best coffees from around the world.

Such shops are not general practitioners, they are specialists, and they know how to create a first rate cappuccino or latte.  Coffee is of primary interest in such places, not an afterthought.  The Barbaric Bean was beginning to be like that, but the Grove’s only true coffee shop has vanished.

A real coffee shop is a welcoming place which  has seating and where you can savor the barista’s drinks  while reading the paper, having a fascinating conversation, people watching,  or enjoying a special snack. It tends to be where the local characters go. Wi-Fi is often available for those who are working on the next great American novel.  After all, J.K. Rollings wrote Harry Potter while sipping some brew in a local coffee shop.

In Asbury Park today an Ocean Grove friend introduced me to a real coffee shop;  in fact, Café Volan  seems like a throwback to old Soho or Greenwich Village in the ’60’s.   Café Volan  on Bangs Avenue, just off Cookman near the Brick Wall, is so laid back that you can imagine Bob Dylan singing unamplified on a stool, or Lenny Bruce doing shtick.

It is a dumpy place, but that’s fine because it feels like home—–like cafés I visited when my friends and I would wander around Bleeker or Christopher Streets in “The Village.”   It is the sort of coffee house where the locals and regulars wander in.

My impression from the moment I walked in was:  “I am going to like this place.”  It resonated at a very personal level and felt like somewhere you might re-visit again and again.

A visit to Café Volan is  like time travel, but there is one thing that doesn’t spell nostalgia—it is the delicious high quality of their coffee.  They also serve some unique snacks and toasted exotic breads.  They get their coffee from North Carolina, and their breads and pastries are brought in from Brooklyn.  I haven’t been to Williamsburg for many years, but this entire place seems to have been shipped intact from there.

If you like places that seem authentic and live up to it, try Café Volan —within walking distance of the Grove.

Note:  2020:  There now is a coffee shop in the Grove . Odyssey is on Main Avenue, and Buskerdoo is at the intersection of Sunset and Memorial in Asbury.

And the OG bakery does a nice job with coffee, and they do have a wide selection of baked goods.

*Link to our post about Balthazar’s from 2013:

Blogfinger post on Balthazar 2013

 

CHARLIE PARKER.  He got his start in New York, but this jazz great didn’t play in coffee houses. Mostly he was up in Harlem in jazz clubs.   The folk singers were in the Village coffee houses  in the ’60’s, but there were jazz venues in the Village which my friends and I visited often, growing up in a Jersey bedroom community, 20 minutes from downtown.

This is “All the Things You Are.” It was written by Jerome Kern (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics)   We recently posted a Miles Davis version, and the song holds up even without those magnificent poetic lyrics.  Below is Charlie Parker on alto sax.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

 

 

 

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4th Avenue, Asbury Park. Paul Goldfinger photo. Nov. 2014. ©

4th Avenue, Asbury Park. Paul Goldfinger photo. Nov. 2014. ©  Click to enlarge

The Two of Us:   “The Rainbow Connection”

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