Sunday, July 03, 2005

independence day

originally posted at Coffeegrounds...


Belmar, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 1600

In Red Bank, the town where I somehow am allowed to run amok, Independence Day is celebrated today, on July 3.  All of the locals drag beach chairs or picnic tables to their postage stamp front yards and watch the fireworks while eating potato salad and chatting beneath the oily scent of citronella. 

It's one of those holidays that also brings down thousands of out-of-towners, those who we on the shore refer to as "Bennies."  We're not terribly fond of or nice to bennies, and that's probably unfair, as they bring money and spend it.... only there's a certain class of newly rich bennies that are set on making sure you know that they're gracing you with their money.  Often, these bennies drive Hummer 2's and Cadillac Escalades.  My brother, a waiter at one of the fifty thousand Italian restaurants in Red Bank, has noticed that bennies are easily identifiable by the fact that, when told that the restaurant is BYOB because it lacks a liquor license, they will ask, indignantly "Why!?" as though it were a personal insult. 

I complain about the bennies, and I know they'll swarm around my town like pudgy, sunburned locusts today, but they're as much a part of the place as I am.  And, well, they're as much a part of the nostalgia I have for Independence Day (along with Christmas and Thanksgiving, my three favorite holidays).  Pushing through crowds, a sausage-and-pepper sandwich in a paper napkin, the cordite smell of fireworks, the distant sounds of rock and roll made before I was born. 

If I drove down to Sandy Hook, paid the five dollars to get into Gateway National Recreation Area, I could peer into the summer haze and see the Statue of Liberty, and know that near there is an island where my family came in order to escape the Nazis and the Soviets.  The grandparents bought bad synthetic knit shirts that pulled taut over their bellies - the ones that they developed with pride in this new land of good jobs and police that didn't make people disappear - and their sons met, then exceeded, the grandparents expectations, with one becoming a CEO, another a professor at Princeton, and a third becoming a judge.  It was with the grandchildren - my peers - that things got a little crazy, but three generations are sufficient fodder for a little rebellion, and I'm sure my grandfather, had he outlasted his stay in a Stalag for more than six months, would have looked on in amusement. 

We all grew up with love for that something about this country that we couldn't really put into words, even obliquely.  Strange glints were seen in our eyes when we shared barbecue chicken and watery American lagers at summer barbecues, the children playing in a pool in which my uncle had hand-painted a picture of Snoopy surfing.  Contented, slack-faced gazes stared down from couches and the plastic seats at Shea Stadium when my father's generation discovered the ultimate in Americana: baseball and a love for the underdog.  Eye-clenching ecstasy took my cousin by surprise when he discovered that rock-and-roll really could save his soul.  He's a thirty-something father of two now, still rockin' out with the band, a successor in interest to the Ramones and the rest of the sloppy punk scene of 1970s New York City.  I lost my breath, then my heart, to the mountains and deserts of Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming.  I was seduced by the west, by the cowboy, the Navajo and the ghosts of the Anasazi, by the mountain men of the past and the naturalists of the present. 

So, it's a big day for me.  I'm going to head down to the water now, camera strapped around my shoulder and sausage-and-pepper sandwich in hand (albeit briefly) and watch couples with baby carriages and sore shoulders from carrying a toddler on their neck prepare the next generation for its love affair with America.  We'll stand together while the toddlers dribble soft serve ice cream on their fathers' heads.  I'll watch the next generation slowly catch on to the love affair that has taken three generations of men in my family.  Here's to them falling in love too. 

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Small Town No. 2


Belmar, NJ
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Fuji ISO 1600

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Small Town No. 1


Belmar, New Jersey
Canon Rebel 2000, Kodak Portra NC ISO 160

Sunday, June 19, 2005

We Say Goodbye So Often


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Ilford Delta Pro ISO 400

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Untitled No. 15


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Ilford Delta Pro ISO 400

Friday, June 10, 2005



Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Ilford Delta Pro ISO 400

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Untitled No. 14


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon Elan EOS 7ne, Ilford Delta Pro ISO 400

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Untitled No. 13


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Ilford Delta ISO 3200

Friday, June 03, 2005

Public Service Announcement


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Ilford Delta Professional ISO 400

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

City Hall


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Ilford Delta Professional 400

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Untitled No. 12


The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Ilford Delta Professional 400. 

Friday, May 27, 2005

Untitled No. 11


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Ilford Delta Professional 400

First of all, I appreciate everyone coming over from John Shabe's blog over on  I promise to limit my negativity toward the good doctor Springsteen

I read somewhere that there are eight standing, original HoJo's left out there, including the abandoned one above.  The Asbury Park HoJo's is a great structure, a two-story cylinder that used to have a winding concrete ramp that spiraled up to the second floor (as seen here) before running alongside the pitch-n-putt and outdoor movie theatre that ran the length of the boardwalk in between the Paramount and the Casino (see this post for photos of both). 

I had the pleasure of attending a fundraiser for Assembly candidates Beck and O'Scanlon (R, 12th District; Ms. Beck is currently a councilwoman in Red Bank, and is a smart, funny, charming woman; I'm just getting to know Mr. O'Scanlon, but, so far, I'm impressed) last night.  They're up for quite a fight, I imagine, but I think they've got the gusto to win it.  Apparently, others do as well, as gubernatorial candidates Bret Schundler and John Murphy joined us for the event at Red. 

Right now, I'm feeling a little "fatigued" from last night's event, so don't mind me.  I'm just going to  crawl over to the coffee maker for worship before I head off to the shower and try to get this sandpaper out of my eyes.

In the meantime, contemplate the wonder that is Doctor Gigi*, dental surgeon

*Not affiliated with Doctor Nick Riviera.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, Ilford Delta Professional 400

Sandy, the angels have lost our desire for us
I spoke to 'em just last night and they said they won't set themselves on fire for us anymore
Every summer when the weather gets hot they ride that road down from heaven on their Harleys they come and they go
And you can see 'em dressed like stars in all the cheap little seashore bars parked making love with their babies out on the Kokomo
Well the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do
This boardwalk life for me is through
You know you ought to quit this scene too

Bruce Springsteen, 4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy), on The Wild, The Innocent, and The E Street Shuffle (1973). 

Springsteen was once one of those personal heroes that I had as a kid and probably should not have.  I was fascinated, though: you mean a local boy like me could write and be famous?  By the time college came around, and I had exhausted my share of "Yeah, I see Bruce around town," stories, he came out with The Ghost of Tom Joad, Springsteen's incredibly sparse quasi-tribute to Woody Guthrie and John Steinbeck.  With this album, with its incredibly well written songs - Springsteen's Straight Time is, without a doubt, my favorite song he has ever written, and Dry Lightning is as emotionally complex as anything written by Raymond Carver or Tobias Wolff - I was in awe. 

I picked up the newest album trying to hide my nervous excitement.  I had heard enough about Devils & Dust to know it was supposed to be a return to the Tom Joad sound.  I had thought The Rising was a blandly over-produced album that, even with its connection to 9-11, had no emotional pull for me.  Unfortunately, Devils & Dust also seems to lack power.  Perhaps, like The Ghost of Tom Joad, it will take me a year to finally appreciate this album, but I feel a sort of resentment to how the album was presented.  It's in this annoying DVD format (and only that format, as far as I can tell), which means that it cannot be played on my PC (and this is apparently part of some sort of intentional anti-piracy measure).  This means that I can't use my "good" speakers (my PC has Dolby 5.1 speakers and outclasses every stereo I own).  The songs... nothing's hit me yet.  There's no song that makes me feel gut-punched, like on The Ghost of Tom Joad.  There's still that slick sound of over-production, that far-too-clean sound that says the album was recorded in a multi-million dollar studio instead of on some low-fi 16 track recorder in a barn (like Nebraska, The River, or The Ghost of Tom Joad). 

It sounds like the sort of album that a member of my parents' generation would make at this age, the brief, final moments of just being an adult before one slides into one's sixties and enters a different period of life.  I can't say this is really an "age" thing, because I can pop Johnny Cash's American IV: The Man Comes Around into the stereo and hear a 70-year-old's fresh take on the raw American roots sound (and more to the point, I can hear one do a version of Nine Inch Nails' Hurt that has me gasping for breath by the end). 

For some reason, this really bothers me.  It's like finding out that Mickey Mantle - or whoever one could claim is his modern equivalent - used 'roids or beat his wife (okay, I guess that some have had to deal with this one already, at least if they were fans of Joe Dimaggio, the biggest fool in American history just by virtue of his cruelty to Marilyn Monroe). 

I want that thrill again. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Untitled No. 10


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 3200

I know, I know; it's taken me a long time to post anything.  I've been giving myself a break during/after my recent move to the new apartment.  I needed it.  I've been insanely busy with litigation, which has been a great experience.  I feel like I'm learning more and developing more skills as a lawyer than I ever have before.  That's an incredibly fulfilling sensation.  I also feel like I am one of the many torture victims claimed by the diabolical Swedes of Ikea (I'm sure many could discuss why they don't like Ikea and so forth, but I'm a fan of birch finishes and modern design, which means I either shop Ikea or spend an extraordinary amount of money on furniture). 

Still, all work and no play.... 

So, this weekend, for the first time since just after St. Patrick's Day, I picked up my camera and headed out to take pictures (I went down to the lovely Island Beach State Park, just south of not-so-lovely Seaside Heights {back when Rolling Stone used to do journalism, it had a great piece on the young derelicts attracted to the boardwalk of Seaside Heights that had to have been one of the most depressing works of journalism I have ever read; still, it was also crisp writing}). 

I'm going to continue with my last project, which was a series focused on Asbury Park.  Asbury Park, along with Sandy Hook/Gateway Nat'l Recreation Area and Ocean Grove, seems to be one of my favorite photography subjects. 

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Alternate Version


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 3200

I couldn't decide which version I liked better, so here's the second of two shots of the same building (once part of the great Asbury Park Casino). 

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Every Steeple a Perversion...


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 3200

... and every fragment a reminder of what was and what is now a hollow memory. 

Monday, April 11, 2005

Untitled #9


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 3200

Friday, April 08, 2005

Untitled #8


Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 3200

I wandered around the Asbury Park boardwalk one Saturday.  I wanted to sneak into the abandoned casino and take some pictures in there.  I found an abandoned card table and positioned it beneath a broken window into which I thought I might shimmy.  I got up onto the table, and was halfway into the window when this fellow startled me.  I shoved myself out of the window, nearly toppling over the card table. 

He said he was just investigating the place, but the napsack looked like it was filled with this man's worldly possessions. I didn't inquire further as to how or why the man broke into the casino.  I backtracked around the building, my hands numb from the wind coming off of the still wintry ocean, and took this shot of the man wandering the beach. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Untitled #7


Asbury Lanes
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 3200

An example of the wonderful developing done by A&I.  They did wonders to my black and white shots, particularly since many (as you will see) were taken in the seaborne fog of Asbury Park's boardwalk.  Crystal clear, with great burning/dodging.  I couldn't be happier. 

Monday, April 04, 2005

Garden of the Dead Triple B-Header


I.L., Asbury Lanes
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 1600

Friday, April 01, 2005

Untitled #6


Asbury Lanes
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 1600

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Untitled #5


Asbury Lanes,
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 1600

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Get me a little oblivion


Asbury Lanes,
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Canon EOS Elan 7ne, ISO 1600, 1/30th Sec.

To everyone that's written, thank you for your kind words.  Flounder is doing much better, having suffered, at worst, a rather substantial concussion (as I've put it, once that clears up, I'm certain my father will entertain giving Flounder another one).  The car isn't doing so well, but I take the good with the bad. 

My trial stretched across the week, right up to the poing when I wrapped myself in blankets and slept through most of Good Friday.  Today, my Nyquil-addled mind is wrapped around Bob Adelman's and Tess Gallagher's Carver Country: The World of Raymond Carver (here's the Amazonian link).  Old, derelict shacks and roughneck motels that dot the Yakima landscape are my afternoon.  I am loathe to spend the day at home, being sick. 

A few months back, I went the Wednesday night punk rock bowling show at Asbury Lanes.  Old Troma Studios horror movies on a sheet across the middle lanes, a bad, angsty punk band churning out power chords in front and a good cheap bar in the corner.  I'm a fan.  Swing by, have a bucket of tater tots, a PBR, and smoke a Lucky Strike.  It'll be good for you. 

Monday, February 28, 2005

The Gates #4


Central Park,
New York, NY
Canon EOS Rebel 2000, ISO 100; Color Isolation and Removal.

I suppose it's a little silly that I find removing color from isolated sections of pictures (or, vice versa, leaving color in isolated sections of pictures) to be so pleasing.  I really think that this is what Christo saw in his head when he envisioned The Gates.  I can't imagine him being impressed with his orange gates, now no longer up, blending in with the scenery of a vibrant Central Park.  The only possibility, then, is that he saw Central Park as a monochrome palette, either due to snow or a falsely black & white vision of the park. 

Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Gates #3

Central Park
New York, NY
Lomo LCA-1, ISO 100

Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Gates #2

Central Park
New York, New York

Joe's NYC has its first anniversary.  His photos kick butt. 


Friday, February 18, 2005

The Gates #1


The Gates
Central Park
New York, New York

Monday, December 27, 2004

It's All So Obvious


New York, New York
Update: Gothamist has more on the Pale Male protests that spawned this photo series. 

Sunday, November 28, 2004



Trenton, New Jersey

What I've kept with me
And what I've thrown away
And where the hell I've ended up
On this glary random day
Were the things I've really cared about
Just left along the way
For being too pent up and proud

Woke up way too late
Feeling hungover and old
And the sun was shining bright
And I walked barefoot down the road
Started thinking about my old man
Want to get into a car and go anywhere

- Ben Folds Five, Evaporated



Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Asbury Park, New Jersey

I'll think of you tonight, I'll think forever
There's no way to predict this kind of weather
Ashes fall to earth, the words are severed
Feathers turn to broken beads in pillars
In Midway Park, Streetlights shine on a road that is dark
Down on the graves where we'll lie

Whiskeytown, Midway Park, from "Faithless Street"

Saturday, October 30, 2004



Trenton, New Jersey
(Just north of the Hughes Justice Complex and the Superior Court of New Jersey, Mercer County Vicinage, for those so inclined; it's a great bit of nature in the middle of the state capitol's judicial section.)

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Love & Image


Red Bank, New Jersey


Red Bank, New Jersey

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Bahr's Lobster House, Highlands, New Jersey.

Supposedly, this is one of the local "places you must take out-of-towners because it 'represents' the area." I wouldn't know. I'm one of those locals who "develops cholera-like symptoms upon ingesting lobster or crab."

I'm having one of those weeks. Three cases simultaneously before the Federal bench. A full two weeks of "no gym and no gin makes TPB go crazy." The sort of headaches that only come after two to three days of getting no more than four hours of sleep. So don't mind me for a bit. I'll be back with more of America's pastime (surprisingly, by saying "America's pastime," I don't mean "graft"), grainy pictures that were all shot to hell by the studio I use for developing. Or used to use. One of the two. I've got to find someone better, I think.

Thursday, May 27, 2004



Market Street, Newark.

Update: Wish I had taken this shot instead....