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Carnival. By Paul Goldfinger. © Carnival. Chester, NJ.  By Paul Goldfinger. ©  Left click for full view. Shot on Kodachrome.

 

NORAH JONES.  “Carnival Town”  from her album Feels Like Home

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The Milky Way. Photo from the Internet

 

Re-post from 2012.  Charles Layton was a member of the Blogfinger staff when he wrote this marvelous piece. Charles now lives in Philadelphia.  He is a professional editor from the Philadelphia Inquirer, now retired.

 

By Charles Layton

A few years ago we lived for three weeks in Nicaragua, in a house at the edge of a small, very remote fishing village called Casares. It was a spectacular place. Instead of shooshing and murmuring, as they mostly do in Ocean Grove, the waves on that shore towered and crashed and sucked and splattered and spat. They were never subdued.

From our porch, looking out on the Pacific Ocean, we watched pelicans dive bombing for fish. Each afternoon huge flocks – a hundred or more at a time – would fly right past us, headed for their nesting grounds.

But even better was the sky at night. After all the meager lights in that little town went dark, the sky became a light show of blazing stars and star clusters, plunging meteors, wandering planets. Sometimes, very late, when the call of nature roused me from bed, I would walk out on the patio alone and stare and stare at the universe, and especially at the Milky Way, wheeling above me. Stars by the thousands, unbelievably distinct and clear.

In Ocean Grove, on most nights, you can actually count the number of visible stars. Often it’s no more than a dozen. Sometimes it’s none. Living under a permanent scrim of light pollution, we forget how many stars are out there. Many of us have never actually seen the night sky in its true state – as I saw it on the coast of Nicaragua, and as our ancestors knew it.

In a couple of weeks we’ll hear jokes about the Mayan calendar coming to an end, and how that will be the destruction of the earth and all mankind. No need to do your Christmas shopping or pay your taxes now, our doom is written in the stars, har har. What idiots, those Mayans.

But really, the Mayans and all ancient peoples lived their lives in constant communion with the teeming, moving lights in the natural sky. The ancient peoples had no idea what those lights were. They noted that the lights moved in strange ways. Sometimes one could be seen to streak and fall out of the sky. Sometimes a comet would appear, ominously hovering. (What did that portent? Something important, right?) The night sky was those people’s television, fraught with drama and bad news.

The constellation Orion. The three middle stars are his belt

Religions arose to explain all those moving lights. Stories were told. People saw pictures in the sky – a lion, a crab, a hunter named Orion holding a bow in one hand and a club in the other. Because the planets moved independently of the rest of the turning firmament, the ancients associated those special lights with gods – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.

But because the sky was so brilliant, prominent, ever-present and mysterious, ancient people studied it methodically. They built observatories and took and recorded measurements. They found that the heavenly bodies displayed repeating patterns which, when plotted, yielded information useful to hunters, farmers, nomads and sailors. Astrologers tried to discern when “the stars were right” for planting or marrying or doing business or giving birth.

The Bible says the “wise men” (men who understood signs in the sky) were guided to Bethlehem by a star. If such a beckoning star rose in the sky now, I doubt we’d even see it — unless JCP&L suffered a major blackout.

Hurricane Sandy taught us the value of electricity, and I’m happy to have the power back on; I would never want to do without it. Still, it’s not a trivial thing, our loss of that ancient awareness of the richness of the sky.

 

 

BILLIE HOLIDAY  (this song added on 4/23/21):

 

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California dreamin’

 

xxxxxx

 

BAND OF H.M. ROYAL MARINES:  “Cavatina” from The Deer Hunter.

 

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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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Mulberry Street, near Chinatown. By Paul Goldfinger © Sept 2013.

Mulberry Street, near Chinatown. By Paul Goldfinger © Sept 2013.  Click to enlarge.

 

Little Italy has been fading away for years. Yet you can still take a food tour there and visit family businesses that exist after more than one hundred years.

On Columbus Day,  the Italian-American community is celebrated —-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.

 

SALISBURY CATHEDRAL BOYS AND GIRLS CHOIR   “The Lord is my Shepherd”

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Ken Davis of Estero, Florida, breezin along with the breeze. By Paul Goldfinger

Ken Davis of Estero, Florida, breezin’ along with the breeze. By Paul Goldfinger.     2013 Re-post.

 

We met Ken Davis at the Causeway Islands Park which stretches from Ft. Myers to Sanibel Island.  It is a remarkable  park where you can just pull over and drive onto the beach.    We saw Ken pull his 4-wheel drive up to edge of the Gulf of Mexico. His car was filled with wind-sailing gear.

It took him quite a while to put his wind-sail together. It was a breezy afternoon, but he shook his head and said that there wasn’t enough wind to get a really good result.  Nevertheless, he got on board and aimed for Cuba.  But a short while later he returned toward shore and then headed out again.  That’s when I got this shot.

Ken is a “local” and he was there with some friends who huddled on shore to keep warm. Soon it would be sunset, but we were gone after getting this photo. Ken was still cruisin’ around when we departed.  Sunsets are corny, but you already know that.   —Paul Goldfinger

 

SOUNDTRACK.  Sue Raney

 

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Swimwear from Victorians’ Secrets. Re-posted from November, 2012.

 

By Paul Goldfinger, history editor @Blogfinger

 

In 1869, the Founding Fathers founded Ocean Grove in Larry’s Park (later, the name was changed to Founders’ Park.) Soon thereafter, many visitors came to this popular resort. Some people wanted to live here, but sleeping in tents began to wear thin, so a building boom began, and along with that came realtors in 1872.

They opened an office on Main Avenue and called it Century 19. Many of the realtors were young ladies who wore billowing dresses with hoops and crinolines that made them extra wide. It was fun watching 2 or 3 of them squeeze inside a tent. They drove their clients around in shiny buggies that said “20% down” on the back.

The sales pitch for selling houses here must have been a challenge because of all the limitations: no horses in town on Sunday, no alcoholic drinks, no tossing pie pans on Sunday, no carousing on Saturday night, and no hanky panky.

Well, that last one was quickly tossed out due to overwhelming opposition by the folks in the choir, especially the basses and the sopranos. Besides, Grovers did need something else to do on Sunday.

Another reason why there was no “blue law” for sex was that a baby was conceived in the tent colony,  and that is where the term “Founding Father” was born.

One of the problems was that Rev. Stokes had organized a lot sale. People came from New York City and Philadelphia to buy land in this unique town. Then, somehow, it turned out that they had purchased a lease. “What the heck avenue,” they complained.

But even today, no one knows why their house is sitting on somebody else’s land. Luckily, lawyers followed the realtors into town and they made it all official.

It should be noted that you couldn’t go to Asbury Park for fun back then, because it was a sedate place having just been founded in 1871. The Asburians tried to emulate the example of Ocean Grove, but good luck with that idea.

Watch for our next installment of “OG Historical Snapshots” when we will tell the story of Jewish Grovers and how they introduced bagels with cream cheese to God’s Square Mile.

 

And here is Dinah Washington, who knows what to do on Sunday:

 

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Streit’s matzoh factory is on Rivington Street, lower east side of Manhattan.

Scene:  Wegmans checkout counter.  A man is at the “7 or less” register to pay for a box of Streit’s matzohs.

Checker:  “Did you have a nice holiday?”

Man: “You don’t have to be Jewish to eat matzohs.”

Checker:  “It’s the Star of David around your neck.”

Man:  “Oh.”

—Paul Goldfinger

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The Lighthouse Cafe, Sanibel Island, Florida. Breakfast. Paul Goldfinger photo.

The Lighthouse Cafe, Sanibel Island, Florida. Breakfast. 2012.  Paul Goldfinger photo.  Click left for larger version  (Don’t you wish life were like that?)

 

SOUNDTRACK:   Scrappy Lambert from The Great Gatsby.  The Colonial Club Orchestra.  —PG 

 

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Checkin' it out. The New York street series. By Paul Goldfinger. 2011. ©

Checkin’ it out. The New York street series. By Paul Goldfinger. 2011. ©

 

 

COUNT BASIE, THE BAND AND A SPECIAL VOCALIST DOING COLE PORTER:

 

 

 

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