Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Atlantic City: Always Turned On

After I finally -- FINALLY -- digested my sandwich from the White House Sub Shop, I set out to check out the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

In the course of writing this book, I've spent plenty of time on the Boardwalk. But I'd never "walked the boards" on a night during the summer. And even though it was a Monday, the Boardwalk was swarmed with all kinds of people, from families to couples to maybe a prostitute or two. No joke. It has a bit of that seedy feel of the Wildwood Boardwalk, but I think because there are so many different people, it's not as obvious. Though the smoking on the Boardwalk is very annoying.

I stopped first at the Irish Pub (164 Saint James Place, Atlantic City, 609-344-9063). One of my housemates couldn't stop shouting the Irish Pub's praises, and he has good reason to do so. It's off the Boardwalk and doesn't look like much of a spot, but once you step inside, you're enshrouded in dark wood and Irish paraphernalia. But not the cheesey "I just bought this off ebay" kind -- the Irish Pub's been around the block a few times. The menu said the bar itself is 75 years old, and it looked at it, though it at least felt like the chairs had been reupholstered in 75 years. I sat next to a father and son in town for the day from Philadelphia. The son said he hadn't had a great day at Blackjack, but he was enjoying his dinner. The Eagles game was on, too, so me, the son and the father, alternated between chatting about our lives and the game.

I continued on my way down the Boardwalk, going into all the casinos and checking out the restaurants and bars. This was, after all, why I did one more trip through Atlantic City. The crowds were thickest around Caesars and Trump Plaza, no doubt because of the bars, restaurants and shopping around the Pier at Caesars.

I walked all the way down to the Hilton, which is the Southern-most casino on the Boardwalk. It also looks like one place that's not ready or willing to snazz herself up as the rest of Atlantic City has, and I think there's a draw in that to some people. It's also the smokiest casino I've been in. Yes, the casinos still allow smoking, but most have done their best to corral the smokers in one spot. The Hilton, well, not so much. I also peeked into a big band dance, but that was invitation only. Boo.

After that, I trucked back up to the Tropicana to watch the end of the game at Fire Waters, which is a slip of a bar that has 50 beers on tap and 101 in bottles. The crowd was mostly guys gearing up for a night of gambling while watching the game. But I was feeling worn out and left after one beer. That certainly was a long walk back to my room at the Trump Taj Mahal, but it felt lovely to sink into the big, fluffy bed in my room. I don't know what I expected from the Taj, but it wasn't the sleek, clean and comfy modern room that I stayed in. I remember the Taj from its glitzy big 80s day -- it's come a long long way. Though I really didn't need Donald Trump's face on my room key.

I left very early this morning and headed back to Avalon. When I thought about what else I had to check out in AC, the only thing I could come up with was the Atlantic City Air Show, which is roaring through the skies on Wednesday. The teams were practicing yesterday and will be today, which made for a noisy afternoon. But I've got more book to write, and more research to do, so it's to another shore town I go.

What I'm Listening to: Whatever's on ESPN.

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