In the summer of 1998 while staying just south of Asbury Park I decided to explore the once great resort town. I was warned by locals not to but the ghosts of my childhood were calling me. What I saw is not very different than the Asbury of today. Maybe less activity. I felt like Heston in the Planet of the Apes. They had blown it up. On that summer day I stood there stoned, staring out at the Atlantic while thinking I wanted to broadcast from the boardwalk there. I didn't think it was truly possible at the time. The following year a charlatan was planning yet another Asbury resurgence and the IBJ found themselves in the thick of it. Broadcasting from the boardwalk on the day it was to reopen. It never did reopen and the IBJ was the only sign of life on the boardwalk that day. During the broadcast I spotted the charlatan at the corner of my eye. He was hightailing it out of town. With him went any chance we had of returning this year. Or so I thought.
One leap off of the roof and a Soprano's episode later I found myself standing before the Asbury Park City Council pleading my case for a permit to broadcast during the summer of 2000. This time I was the charlatan. The man who appears out of nowhere to exploit the towns resources for my own evil doings. The permit was granted, necessary equipment procured and the IBJ was ready for a Rock & Roll beach party.
I hit Asbury the morning before the broadcast and stocked my hotel sink with ice and Rolling Rocks. I was alone for the moment but that wouldn't last long. Seconds after hitting the boardwalk I ran into our old friend Mad Dog Vinnie Lopez Senior. A delightful old gentlemen who sits in his wheelchair just outside of the convention center day in and day out. Happy just to share a moment of your time. Happy to be alive in a dead town. A town he has lived most if not all of his life. We chatted as a listener named Hal approached. Hal travels from Vermont and appears to follow the Fat Pack wherever we go. It was falling into place. It was about to happen.
Mister Chin and the former Maytag Bill Skiff arrived with the necessary equipment later that day. We drank and strolled the beach as a fireworks display exploded over our heads. Magic was in the air. In nearby Ocean Grove the three of us bum rushed a Dionne Warwick concert. The show was in a church and security was not prepared for the likes of us. We didn't intend to pay and they didn't want to fight so they turned the other cheek. We topped it all off at the Stone Pony where we saw John Eddie - one of the Jersey Shore guys who never got out.
After the standard technical glitches the broadcast went smoothly. The sun, which hadn't been seen in weeks, made an appearance at exactly 12 noon. The cops stayed away and Burns and I only fell down once. And most importantly the IBJ showed up in spite of the torrential downpours that were ongoing throughout the listening area. Something I was not aware of until after the show.
Afterwards we had Rock & Roll hotel party that would have made Keith Moon proud. The IBJ took over the hotel pool and lounge. Garry Alcoholic seized a mobile luggage rack and transformed it into a bar on wheels. Boozin' broads vomited in our hotel room. Mister Chin continued his one-man effort to liberate any and all art works from the walls of the hotel lobby. At midnight those of us who remained standing took the party to the beach and gave ourselves to the Ocean. Fortunately the Ocean spit us back out. Back at the hotel Chin and the General gained entry to an unlocked room where would they would spend the night free of charge. Though not official guests of the hotel the General went as far as to demand a wake-up call and a toothbrush from the front desk.
Asbury Park, New Jersey.....I think there might still be some Rock & Roll left in that town after all. See you next year!