Tuesday, June 30, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

The Atlantic City Expressway might go EZpass only. Funny connection: my former dentist is interviewed in that article.

RIP Billy Mays, who started out in the Atlantic City Boardwalk.

AC hits back at Pennsylvania casinos trying to steal their business (insider baseball note: why is this an AP story and not reported by the paper itself? I've heard rumblings of a Pa. casino bias at the paper, and even I've scratched my head over the slant of some of the AC casino coverage. Hmm...) Here's the Press of Atlantic City's take on the same story.

Here's info on West Cape May's farmer's market.

Wetlands are for wildlife, not cars.

And items in store are for the shelf, not for stealing.

Drinking and boating do not mix.

Well, this is an interesting development in the Sandcastle Park in Ocean City. They replaced the wood with plastic. I remember when it first opened. Seemed a short time to deem an entire replacement necessary. Maybe the wood was splintering?

Digg this

Meanwhile, Up in Asbury...

Get a jump on your Fourth of July fun in Asbury Park tomorrow. Clean Ocean Action is sponsoring a Rally for Ocean Independence. Things kick off with a Beach Rally and Paddle Out event 4:30pm, followed by snacks and drink specials at Langosta Lounge 6pm. The head to the Carousel Building at 7pm for a viewing of The 11th Hour, Leonardo DiCaprio's climate change movie, followed up by Asbury's fireworks at 9pm.

Best part? It's all 100 percent free! For more information, click here.

Digg this

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dusk Opening and Chelsea Update

On Friday night, I went to the pre-opening party for Dusk, a new club at Caesars in Atlantic City.

Nice place, especially considering it's in the space of what was once a Planet Hollywood. But I can't say it's radically different from what you'll find at other clubs in Atlantic City, which include:

1. Stripper poles (though I'm not sure you'll always find a Philadelphia gossip columnist pole dancing, as I did on Friday).
2. Girls in push up bras and short black dresses working bottle service.
3. Loud, fun mixes of music (a LOT of Michael Jackson).
4. Fancy drinks.
5. Cool light set ups. The main dance floor felt like a circus tent, which was nifty.

Dusk also has a separate room called Dawn, which was chiller and more relaxed. It was also a way for smokers to get onto the boardwalk without having to technically leave the club.

Dusk opens to the public this weekend, and I hope it does well. It's placement on the boardwalk will help (though you can only enter through Caesars). The Borgata has nice clubs, but if you're staying on the Boardwalk, it's a pain to get over to the marina area.

Like my last visit to Atlantic City, I stayed at the Chelsea. Despite booking a room in the annex (the less pricey side), we were upgraded to a room in the tower side (the nicer side). On Saturday, Bill and I hit the pool area.

I still think it's a cool idea -- this day time club called the Cabana Club by a pool -- but the waitress service was yet again awful. We felt like we were bothering our waitress by asking for anything, and it took some time to flag her down for service, and to pay our bill. I could have also done without the snotty attitude from the gentleman working the pool area. Yes, I get that the demand for seats by the pool is high, but there's no reason to treat me like an idiot for not getting to the pool at 10am. Really, kid? I know it's busy but there's no harm in asking. And thank you for telling me I'd never get a seat so why bother putting us on the waiting list...when a lot of people did get seated after I asked to be put on said list.

This is all very puzzling, especially considering the great service you'll get at their other property, Cape May's Congress Hall. The lobby at the Chelsea was also chaotic mid-day -- a lot of frazzled nerves on both the sides of patrons and employees.

Bill and I were just fine lying out on the couch area outside of the pool on Saturday, but those service issues have put the Cabana Club on the "avoid" list until September, when hopefully the attitudes will drop down. I still get the feeling that the Chelsea is trying to find its place in the Atlantic City scene. Let's hope they're just working out some kinks and this isn't a sign of a bigger issue.

P.S. Yes, this was there on Friday. Did anyone care? Not really. Just part of the crowd.

Digg this

And the winner is...

Thanks to everyone who entered the free music contest I held on the blog. After consulting with the band on Saturday night, they have decided that the winner is...


They couldn't decide the best answers, so all of you who left comments win a copy of The Silence's new album, Outside World.

So if you were one of the folks who participated, sent me your address at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com, and I'll get one out to you ASAP.

Digg this

Friday, June 26, 2009

Your Shore Weekend

FINALLY! The sun is supposed to be shining all weekend, so let's get at it.

Paul Anka, Ann Margaret and Tony Orlando are all doing a show at Caesars for the casino's 30th anniversary.

It's time for the North Wildwood Italian-American Festival.

There's also a soccer event in Wildwood all weekend

And free Friday fireworks are back!

Funland is opening in Sea Isle City this weekend!
Boyz II Men will be at Resorts.

Shannon Elizabeth, Greg Giraldo, Andy Dick, The Whitest Kids U'Know will be trying to make you laugh at the Tropicana.

Lots of music in Ocean City this weekend.

Cape May's kite festival starts today and runs through Sunday.

It's blueberry time! The Hammonton Blueberry Festival runs from 10 am to 5pm.

I'm off to Atlantic City for the opening of Dusk. Unfortunately, this will be there, too. I guess there'll be some sort of curiosity to seeing him, but I think it gives off the absolutely wrong vibe. More exciting, though, is it's supposed to be a beautiful weekend down the shore, and I'm looking forward to lying on the beach Saturday and doing absolutely nothing. Isn't that what the shore is all about?

Digg this

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cape May Day

I know this post is late -- a week late -- but I lost the little do hickey that lets me upload photos from my camera to my computer. How did I lose it? By cleaning my desk, so it wasn't on the desk but tucked away somewhere that would make sense to an organizer but not to me.

Anyway...I was in Cape May last Thursday and Friday for work, and got the chance to check out the new Sea Spa at Congress Hall. How fun and sunny does this look?

I only had time for a half hour massage, but it was nice. Last Thursday was also the 20th anniversary of the Virginia (yes, owned by the same company). Here's a picture of owner Curtis Bashaw making a speech before the crowd that tucked itself into the lobby:

I've never stayed at the Virginia, but it's where my dad and step mom stayed when they got married in Cape May, and their plan is return every year on their anniversary.

I *did* however, much to the jealousy of local foodies, have dinner in the Ebbitt Room, the restaurant at the Virginia. Why would foodies be jealous? Because I sampled the new menu of the new chef, Lucas Manteca, former of Sea Salt in Stone Harbor. This was big news in the local food scene. To me? I'm no foodie know what tastes good, and the dinner was wonderful.

Too bad the weather stunk last week, but I did grab these shots of Cape May in the mist after dinner:

And then there's this:

I was feeling restless after dinner, so I checked out "Are You Smarter Than a Bartender?" at Cabanas -- it's a version of quizzo.

Cabanas is the bar downstairs of Martini Beach, one of the pieces featured in that New York Times piece I wrote about upscale bars. It was a rowdy crowd for a Thursday night, and I'd guess the average age to be 23 or 24. I spent most of the night chatting to a nice young man, 22 years old, who came out that night to play wingman for his friend. His girlfriend is 20 and couldn't come to the bar. I ended up giving him some career counseling, and while we were talking about where else he could work that summer, the body shots started not far from where we sat. And, no, that's not me. Come on now.

It was a fun night, but I was sluggish the next day. Not 22 anymore, I guess ;-) We'll see how I hold up at the opening of Dusk tomorrow night.

Digg this

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

We'll start today's news update with a little bit of Hollywood: Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler are filming a movie in Atlantic City. Nick Nolte will be in town starting today to film another movie.

Hayden Christenson and Rachel Bilson stayed at the Virginia in Cape May last week. I knew this. Why didn't I write about it? To give the kids some privacy. Would you want to be bugged by fans on your shore vacation?

Another mysterious death in Sea Isle.

Only eight kids graduated Sea Isle City's elementary school this year. With more rich vacationers buying second homes on the island and less year round residents on the island, this was bound to happen.

The Washington Post takes a trip to Ocean City.

Atlantic City's "Dr. Feel Good" gets caught.

We need to get Liz Roberts onto the "Not Our Jersey" campaign.

Here's a report from last weekend's Cape May Harbor Fest.

Rainy day report from Cape May.

Digg this

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What are Your Backroads?

Shore traffic stinks. I'm lucky in that I rarely have to drive in rush hour since I can set up my schedule around it. But for a lot of people, they want to hit the ground running once they get out of the office, which means jams.

So what are your back roads to the shore? I know some people will never ever ever share (I had this experience last year), but others are proud of their alternate route and how much time it saves. So leave your way in the comments and maybe help a fellow traveler.

My parents have a nice set of backroads routes, but neither one of them tell me what they are. They've been taking those roads since they were teenagers, and never had to write it down.

Digg this

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Update on Not Our Jersey

Last month, I posted this to show how ticked I was by TV shows that supposedly show what it's like to be from New Jersey. Thank you to everyone who posted and tweeted about it -- got a nice bout of attention. I don't think it's done a lot to negate those awful "reality" series, but it did help get the idea out there that we're not all like that

So let's bring the campaign back up again, shall we?

Got the below email today. Not only is it an example of a bad press release (poorly hijacking a trend to promote a client), but it also shows why the Not Our Jersey campaign is needed -- because crap like this is going around.


From: [redacted]
Date: Tue, Jun 23, 2009 at 7:15 PM
Subject: New Jersey Housewives Re-Define Jersey Girls and Their Bubies

Dear [redacted],

New York is out, and New Jersey is in—or so the viewers seem to say. Bravo has hit ratings gold with its latest reality show Real Housewives of New Jersey, garnering more than 3.5 million viewers for the show’s season finale—the highest-rated finale in the Housewives franchise history. The popularity of the show has sparked a national interest in New Jersey, and has succeeded in re-branding the state as a place in America that can be undoubtedly filled with glitz and glamour.

From the opulent mansions to the housewives’ toned, tanned bodies, this latest installment of Housewives has made Jersey hot again. And with help from [redacted], a New Jersey-based plastic surgeon, anyone can get a Housewives body. Dr. [redacted] offers a full selection of services, from the minimally-invasive Jersey Mini Tummy Tuck to breast augmentation to thigh lifts.

I would love to set up a time for you to speak with Dr. [redacted] to further discuss his New Jersey-based services, as well as other trends in plastic surgery. I look forward to hearing from you.


Wow. Just...wow.

If this was sent to you, what would you email back? A reminder: keep it PG. Yes, the Marples are reading. And if you tweet about it, remember to include #NotOurJersey

Digg this

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

I'm not a big drinker, but once I got to Cape May on Thursday afternoon and had to wait a bit for my room at Congress Hall to be ready, I figured why not grab a drink? It was rainy and gross out, and it was 5 o'clock somewhere, right?

So I went to the Brown Room and ordered up a bloody mary (or, er, two. If I looked a little wobbly Thursday afternoon, it's because I didn't realize those suckers are strong, and given that I don't drink a lot, my tolerance was a smidge overpowered). I've had this bloody mary a few times before -- it's the same one served at the Blue Pig Tavern and the Chelsea (though the version at the Chelsea came with celery).

I've been doing an informal taste testing of versions of the drink since May, including in Key West, and this is my favorite so far (worst was at Flames in Atlantic City). If you were to choose your favorite shore bar drink, excluding any beer specials, what drink is it and where? Hit up the comments.

Speaking of the Chelsa, I'm going to be in AC on Friday night for the preview party for Dusk, a new nightclub at Caesars (with a weird movie thingie online now). Because we figure there will be drinks involved, me and Bill are staying overnight at the Chelsea again.

Why there? For $118 on a summer Friday night, why not? Rooms at Caesars are sold out. The best I could find elsewhere is all over $200. Plus we're actually going to bring bathing suits this time and try to snag seats for the pool party or a cabana on the beach on Saturday since the sun is FINALLY out. I'll report back on Monday -- on both Dusk and the pool party.

And I didn't forget about the music contest. Still waiting for the band to pick the winners ;-)

Digg this

Monday, June 22, 2009


Hey folks. I'm dealing with a big back log of work today, so until I'm back up and posting, check out this piece Leah Ingram did about my tips on how to save money at the shore.

And also check out this post about food bloggers top picks for NJ.

Promise to be back shortly with tales of rainy days in Cape May and Beach Haven -- plus the winners in the music giveaway!

Digg this

Friday, June 19, 2009

Shore Press

It's finally out! My story about upscale shore bars is in today's New York Times. So go check it out!

Digg this

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Seven Shore Rainy Day Activities

Anyone got an ark? Because it's STILL raining here in New Jersey.

If you're down the shore this week, I feel for you. Really. I still remember being stuck inside during what should have been a fun, sunny trip. So here's seven places to go until the weather clears up:

1. Ripley's Believe it or Not in Atlantic City. Yes, it's cheesy and weird, but it's a fun thing to do with the kiddo-s.
2. Water show at the Pier Shops at Caesars. Another cheesy thing to do, but pretty. Plus, you can start scoring summer clearance deals. Yes, already -- throw together a recession and those "transition" fashions that came out around Easter, and you can get yourself a deal (and a drink if you head up the third floor).
3. Lucy the Elephant in Margate. How could a wooden elephant NOT cheer you up?
4. Ocean City Bayside Center. A big ol' home turned into an education center with plenty of things for the kids, including displays on shore ecosystems and ships. Head to the third floor for a knock out view.
5. Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor. Learn everything you ever wanted to know about turtles -- key now since it's turtle season! There's lots of other things to do, of course. It's a complex ecosystem out there.
6. 3J's Wildwood Bowl. Who doesn't love bowling on a rainy day? This is why you should call ahead -- no point getting ready to knock things down with a heavy ball if the place is mobbed.
7. Beach Theatre in Cape May. Yes, it's old. No, it's not going to have the latest movie technology, but it'll be a throwback day for those of us who remember what it was like for a theatre to only have two or three offerings instead of twenty.

Of course, you can also try out that restaurant you've been dying to get to. I plan on parking myself by the fireplace at the Brown Room in Congress Hall this afternoon (working down there today and tomorrow). Who thought I'd be writing about fireplaces in June?

Digg this

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Yet another update on Strathmere's bid to remove itself from Upper Township. The latest: it's not about taxes.

Trump wants to buy back Trump Entertainment? I give up.

Yikes! There was a stabbing in Sea Isle.

Yikes again! Teacher abuses student at Cape May hotel.

What would YOU do with Atlantic City? Vote here.

Sea Isle's got a farmer's market.

New York Times looks at job market down the shore.

And don't forget! The free music contest closes on Friday at 5pm. So if you haven't given your answer, do it! Do it now!

Digg this

Monday, June 15, 2009

This is How I Roll

On Saturday, I joined the Collingswood Bike Share. For $25, I get a bike plus free maintenance and parts for a year (a benefit of being a resident). After a biking fiasco that involved me on a boardwalk cruiser riding with Bill on his triathalon bike, I've been aiming to get a ride of my own -- and there she is, a sweet cherry vintage Schwinn road bike that my mom said made a fine racer in her day. It's enough to get me started and interested in biking again for the first time since high school when I tore up the trails of Avalon Campground.

I'm going to be bringing Cherry (her name is either that or Sweet Cherry Pie sung to the tune of "Sweet Caroline") down the shore, and look forward to doing some island-to-island rides (though I'll leave Emily's behind and tail out of the picture).

So, bikers, where do you like to ride to the shore? And even though Cherry is a road bike, I'm sure the readers would be happy to hear some mountain bike suggestions, too (and don't forget to enter the music contest!)

Digg this

Free Music Monday!

If you follow along with my Njmonthly.com column, you'd have read a piece I wrote about The Silence, a local band making big inroads on the music scene.

If not, I'll forgive you -- just click here to read the story.

The band has been kind enough to give me a few copies of their new album, Outside World, for a giveaway. It's a great record, and you might have heard bits and pieces on WXPN or broadcasts of Phillies games.

The rules to win a free copy? Simple. In the comments below, tell us what song and/or artist defines your experience of the Jersey Shore, and WHY. No restrictions on that artists or song, either -- just keep your answer PG (remember, the Marples are reading).

I'll take comments and answers until Friday at 5pm. Then the guys in the band will pick their two favorites, which I'll reveal next Monday, and then mail the winners a free CD.

I thought about making it a requirement that you send this link to five friends, and they send it to five friends, but there's enough chain emails going around, yes?

Got it? Good. Now get commenting!

Digg this

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Giveaway tomorrow...

Thanks to everyone who sent encouraging words -- it really did help. I'm feeling more even keeled after this weekend, which was the first I had at home in five weekends. It was nice to do nothing, if by "nothing" you mean a lot of cleaning, dog walking, some running (still coming off an ankle sprain), and getting a bike (more about that later this week).

I'm starting a contest on the blog tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Digg this

Friday, June 12, 2009

On being a travel writer

If you'll allow me a shore digression...

Today mashed up two things that put on me edge:

1. I don't have central air. My little brother was supposed to install my AC window units but didn't. I have one in the bedroom, but none in my office. It's HOT in here.

2. I failed the digital TV conversion because my TV is old (a free used one from a cousin) and is stuck in antenna. It has no remote, so I can't fix it.

I posted about both of these things today on Facebook and Twitter and was shocked by the response. The reaction was almost horror that I didn't have cable and that, before we figured out what the problem was, I'd be OK living without it. I rarely watch TV -- usually at noon to listen to the news while I eat lunch.

As for the AC thing, I find most people don't "get" why it's a big deal, usually because most people go to an air conditioned office for the day. I'm in this stinking humid mess all day long. I also lived with a microwave for three years. I didn't have space for one before I bought a house that had one installed in the kitchen.

I thought a lot today about why these things bothered other people -- or not so much bothered but thought that that this is a weird way to live.

Could I get a job and make more money so I could afford these other things? Maybe. Will I be making that change any time soon? No. These are the things I give up in order to call myself the boss, and to own my home rather than rent another space.

I think this post comes in part, too, from comments people have made to me recently, suggesting that it must be nice to live a glamourous life. Far from it -- I work 60-80 hours a week, many on weekends, and between Easter and last weekend, I think I was away from home more than I was here. Then there's publishers who don't pay me on time, or not at all (I'm still owed $500 from someone who vanished last year). Or the assignments I pitched that are given to someone else, or being asked to "audition" for a writing assignment, or offered insultingly low rates, like $2 a story, or being asked to write for free in exchange for "exposure." If I wanted exposure, I'd stand on the corner in an open trench coat.

Then there was this snide post that assumes a website has a big budget because it's throwing an event, which is not the case. Those events are usually sponsored and combined with other venues so that it's more trading space/promotion than cash being exchanged (hence why my book launch party only cost $250 but looked more expensive). When people assume otherwise and make snap judgements for it? In public? No matter what you think of philebrity.com, it's not fair to make that kind of assessment on so little information, just like it's not fair for a neighbor to say "must be nice to travel all the time" without realizing it's work. Gets my back up.

Anyway, this is a round about way of saying thank you for helping me out, whether you've forwarded me story ideas, sent links from this blog to friends, encouraged me in the comments, or bought a book. Because on days like today when I'm lying on my basement floor, crying because I tried to pick up an AC unit and to install myself and failed, wondering why the heck I live like this; or going out on the road for my fourth or fifth weekend away from home, it's those things that keep me going. It might not seem like a lot, but it's keeping me in business (even if central air is a distant dream...maybe after I sell the next book!)

But I don't want people to think this is a pity party: I have a roof over my head, food on my plate, an exciting job, and the love of family and friends. After hearing my AC plight, two friends are coming over to help me out (I can't lift AC units because of a shoulder injury), and they offered a few weeks ago to give me a TV they don't need anymore -- one that isn't stuck in antenna! That is worth more than any flat screen.

Digg this

Your Shore Weekend

Ready, set, go....

Busta Rhymes is playing at the House of Blues at the Showboat in Atlantic City. **UPDATE** THIS SHOW HAS BEEN CANCELLED. SORRY, FOLKS.

Chicago! And Earth, Wind & Fire! They're both at the Borgata on Friday and Saturday night (little known fact: my first instance of intoxication was at a Chicago concert. Don't tell mom).

Apparently, there's a "Red Carpet" and "Celebrity" thing at Bally's on Friday night. I have a hard time calling it "Celebrity" when "Tonya Harding" is included in that grouping.

There's a shuffleboard tournament in Ocean City!

Vince Gill's at Caesars.

Reminder: Sea Isle City bar crawl is on Saturday.

Ocean City's having a museum fair on Saturday.

It's Mummer's weekend in Wildwood! FREE

And Saturday marks the start of a big journey for these guys, who are rowing 17-foot Van Duyne Surf Boats 1500 miles from Boca Raton, Fla. to Sea Isle City. They hope to make it to Sea Isle by August 1. Why are they taking on such a feat? To raise money for autism awareness and research.

Flag day! And my grandpop's birthday! (RIP) Stone Harbor's having a ceremony to honor the holiday. FREE

As for me? I've been away for the last five weekends in a row, so I am doing nothing. Enjoy the shore for me!

Digg this

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Down the Shore with Jen on NBC 10

Here's the clip!

Digg this

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Thanks to everyone who tuned into NBC10 yesterday! I think it went well. I don't have a link to the segment, but I am trying to track one down. I'll post when I have it.

Now, onto the news:

It's turtle season. Be careful!

Here's an update on HBO's Atlantic City project.

Here's some Cape May breakfast recommendations -- feel free to add.

They're surveying shore birds in Stone Harbor.

Casino revenues are down again. But at least some are hiring.

Of COURSE Antique's Road Show comes to Atlantic City when I'm out of town. Thank goodness Amy Rosenberg was there.

There's a beach bar crawl in Sea Isle this weekend. If you're planning ahead, Avalon's Tour de Shore bike bar crawl is on August 23.

Interesting editorial about table games that uses Atlantic City as an example, but not a good one.

Update on the groomsman who drove drunk and killed a bridesmaid in Strathmere: he's in prison.

Digg this

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Atlantic City Sillies

Quick reminder: I'll be on NBC 10 sometime between 5:30 and 6pm tonight. Tune in!

There's two sorta silly things happened in Atlantic City tomorrow. The first is a Beer Pong tournament, which starts tomorrow. This might not sound like something shocking to see at the shore (I see it all the time in Sea Isle), but the winner of this tournament could win $25,000. Want details on the Atlantic City Beer Pong Championship? Click here.

The second is the first Airtran Atlanta-Atlantic City flight comes into the Atlantic City International Airport tomorrow. That might not sound silly. But Earth Wind & Fire meeting that plane? THAT'S silly. There's also going to be a water cannon salute over the aircraft when the flight arrives. So don't freak out if you're on that plane.

Digg this

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day Trippin'

I've been working on my notes for tomorrow's appearance on NBC10 (sometime between 5:30 and 6pm!), and as comes up any time I researching good deals down the shore, the concept of "day trippers" comes up. Everyone's trying to guess what the shore season will be (better because of the recession as people stay close to home? or worse?), and a lot of focus has been put on day trippers. Plus, yesterday this guy was tweeting from an Ocean City day trip (he tried to convince me to skip work and come down the shore...but that is my work!)

The Chelsea is playing off the daytrippers and offering a special day-cation package through June 26. For $99 to $109 per person, you get 50-minute signature Swedish massage at Sea Spa, access to The Solarium (a hydro-therapy room featuring a clover shaped Jacuzzi surrounded by heated stone floors, heated stone benches, and plush, cushioned loungers, sauna and steam room, and salt water pool with sundecks), and a two-course dinner at Teplitzky’s with complimentary mocktail.

Two things to know, though: This package does NOT include overnight stay (which I thought it did first time I saw it), and is not avaiable on Saturdays.

Do you day trip? If so, where do you go? Is the drive back and forth onerous?

I day trip all the time, though it's more "drive to work meetings and back" now -- when I was as teenager and in my early 20s, I go down in the morning, sit on the beach, then drive home. Atlantic City is only 45 minutes away from my house -- not bad when you consider that one summer during college I commuted an hour back and forth to a secretary job.

Digg this

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wedding Season

Egads, is that a bridesmaids dress I could actually wear again? IT IS!

I'm back from my brother's wonderful, lovely and very VERY fun wedding, which took place at the Overhills Mansion in Catonsville, Maryland. I would have posted a picture of the bride and groom, but, um, I don't have one. I was too busy being a bridesmaid!

It's wedding season -- full swing. The Jersey Shore is a big wedding spot, and I've helped a few couples with queries (Where can we get kosher catering in November? Where should we stay in Atlantic City for a bachelorette party? Where's a good spot for a vow renewal?) So if you're getting married at the shore and have any questions, let me know! I'm happy to help.

A few bridal parties have received my book as a thank you gift -- if you're interested, contact me so I can get you the bulk rate discount!

Digg this

Friday, June 5, 2009

Your Shore Weekend

Busy weekend down the shore, and the weather's supposed to turn around (I hope hope hope since my brother's getting married outside on Saturday!) So here's what we've got:

Get thee to the White House Sub Shop! This classic (CLASSIC) spot has declared this weekend "Elvis Weekend” and will be honoring the King with a Grilled Peanut Butter & Banana Sub. It's tied to the "Atlantic City’s Ultimate Tribute Artist Contest," which is being held on Friday and Saturday at Resorts.

On an, um, different note, Caged Combat is on at Trump Marina on Friday and Saturday.

Mary J Blige is playing the Borgata tonight.

Kathy Griffin's at Borgata on Friday and Saturday.

Brigantine's having a craft fair from 9 am to 4pm.
Cheech & Chong are at the Borgata on Saturday.

Paul Oakenfeld is at the Trump Taj Mahal on Saturday.

Like to bike? Check out Kelly's Ride, which happens on Saturday. Watching is FREE.

A PARADE! This one's the New Jersey State Elks Parade in the Wildwoods. FREE

Like strawberries? Get yourself to the West Cape May Strawberry Festival on Saturday from 9am to 5pm. YUM. And if you haven't tried a Jersey strawberry since California specimens started being shipped to your grocery store -- yeah, YOU -- go. It's a world of difference. FREE

And there's a charity walk in Ocean City on Sunday.

Digg this

Thursday, June 4, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Here's the soft serve/custard argument.

The Trump sale is a no-go.

But the Tropicana has a new owner. It was sold at auction -- but there was only one bidder.

This was a classy move: table games at Trump Plaza were suspended for six hours so employees could go the funeral of a slain colleague.

Time for Cape May restaurant week!

Not surprised: issues with ballots in Atlantic City.

Hmmm...do they just run around to get as much PR as they can?

Digg this

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

AC Tripping

I'm back. Sorta. My brain's still clogged, and I'm about to pack up to leave for the weekend. Again.

But this is for a happy occasion: my brother's getting married on Saturday! Hurrah! I'll be in the Baltimore area doing bridesmaid-y things like making sure the bride doesn't get a nervous stomach and that my brother doesn't blubber through the ceremony (and if he does, I have permission to walk across the aisle and smack him).

In the meantime, a post about the weekend.

On Friday, I took an early Amtrak train from Philly to New York City for Book Expo America, a big annual publishing conference. I usually go for two or three days, but I could only squeeze in a few hours this year. And look who I found: my publisher!

We had a nice chat about travel writing, and how a travel book can help you build a platform that leads to more work, which is what this book has turned into for me. I was very flattered when he told me that they use me as a model for other authors in the "how to build a platform" sector. It was so great to hear, especially since my mind was still mush from that deadline -- a deadline that I'd never had if not for the shore book.

Then I hoofed it over to Penn Station to catch the ACES train to Atlantic City.

First: the schedule for ACES sucks. My only two options were to leave at 2:28pm or 8:17pm. If I took the first train, it meant cutting short my BEA trip. If I took the second, I'd get into Atlantic City late. I know that this isn't ACES fault -- they are at the mercy of NJ Transit and Amtrak since they're using train tracks already in place. But I've been writing a piece about ACES for NJMonthly.com as a follow up to my earlier report, and this is the number one complaint (I also got a few emails about how they did not run trains on Memorial Day for people who wanted to enjoy the entire holiday weekend -- again, not their fault, but people buying tickets don't know this. It's a PR problem).

Second: the ACES folks are not releasing ridership numbers. They're giving me a lot of flowery prose about how the train's not supposed to make money, blah blah blah. But given prices have now dropped twice ($29 one way tickets June 1 through July 5) and they're not bragging about high numbers, I didn't expect a packed train, and it wasn't. My coach car was about half full, and the first class sections even less. Still, not a bad crowd being deposited into AC.

Third: If you want to shell out the cash, you can rent a lounge that gets you drink service and access to entertainment systems. I thought this was a great idea when I first toured the train. I didn't realize, though, that the lounges aren't closed off from the rest of the train. A thin curtain that resembles a divider you'd find in a trailer did little to shield the rest of the car from the four men (two in faux straw cowboy hats) drunkenly singing karaoke and stamping their feet. So annoying and irritating to everyone else who paid to be on that train and happened to be in my car.

Fourth: The train stopped six times (plus the one usual stop as they switch from Amtrak to NJ Transit tracks) and was 45 minutes late. One time was announced as a mechanical problem. Lovely.

STILL: if the ACES train wasn't available, I never would have come down to AC on Friday. I would have taken Amtrak back to Philadelphia and probably driven down to Sea Isle. It helped expand my AC plans, too, though probably not in the way the casinos subsidizing the train would want. I didn't spend a dime in Harrah's, Caesar's or the Borgata.

Instead, I booked a tower room at the Chelsea. Despite the rock bottom prices in the annex section of the hotel, I've heard less than positive things about that side and I figured a few extra bucks for a nicer room was worth it. The fee was only $200 for a Friday night in season, which isn't bad at all.

I'd hoped to get in a Boardwalk run, but the late train prevented that. Instead, I checked in, quickly showered and changed and then headed out to dinner at the Knife & Fork, which was splendid. If you go, pay special attention to the menu additions, which take full advantage of Jersey Fresh produce.

Then we checked out C5, the new nightclub at the Chelsea that used to be called the Living Room and the Game Room. We had no problem getting in at around 10 pm -- no line, no cover -- and the crowd was a little thin. So we took a walk through the Tropicana, had a beer at Hooters (Why not when I'm in a cocktail dress and Bill's in a suit?) and then a mohitio at Cuba Libra. When we got back to the Chelsea, C5 was more crowded, so we danced, people watched and hoped the rain would stop so we could have a drink by the pool (it didn't, but oh well).

The next morning, we had brunch at Flames on the Boardwalk, which I do NOT recommend. Despite the nice outdoor Boardwalk location, the food was blah, and they messed up my order and still charged me for the mess up. We stopped in at the Trump Plaza Beach Bar just to see the scene, and had a drink at the pool-side Cabana Club back at the Chelsea to see that scene, too.

The bloody mary, I'm happy to report, is just as good at the Cabana Club as it is at Congress Hall (which makes sense because they're owned by the same company).

The crowd at the Cabana Club was, um, interesting. We stopped by around 1pm. The folks on the lounge chairs ranged from 40 and 50 somethings on a weekend away to younger folks getting -- sorry if you're reading this -- wasted and being slightly obnoxious in the process. I also overhead whoever was running the operation at the pool say how poor the waitress service is (Bill, a former bartender, agreed) and list all the problems they had and how they can be corrected. It's not exactly something that the staff should be saying in front of paying customers (even if a reporter isn't in the midst).

I'm not sure if this is the right way for the Cabana Club to go. I understand this scene at night, but if the Chelsea is trying to present a more refined image than the casinos, pool side DJs during the day and allowing smoking in the enclosed pool area is not exactly going to help (or if it's not allowed, it needs to be enforced). I didn't have my bathing suit, so we sat to the sidelines. But if I had my suit and had the chance to lie in one of the pool chairs? I don't know if I'd have found it relaxing or even inviting. It's disappointing since one of my favorite memories of last summer was sitting by the pool at Congress Hall and zoning out after running through a gamut of shore articles and TV interviews. I don't think I'd have found the same bliss at the Chelsea on Saturday.

This is going to be my last shore report for a while given that I'll be away this weekend and plan on staying home next weekend. I'm tired. I'm traveled out. Bill and I didn't stay down the shore on Saturday night because I was a zombie, and I wanted to disappear into something that I didn't feel I needed to write about (we went out with friends in Philly instead). I only get this way rarely, but it has been an exceptionally busy shore writing season. A short break and I'll be all good. I think recognizing the need for that break is important. I'll still be writing about the shore (of course), but my next "here's where I was report" will start out on June 20 when I'm in LBI working on a story.

Speaking of TV appearances...I'm going to be on NBC 10 on June 10 at 5:30pm. I'll be talking about how to get good deals at the shore. I've already written my outline to send into the producers, but if you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Digg this