Sunday, August 31, 2008

Picture of the Day

This picture was snapped by Steve "PodcastSteve" Lubetkin. I laughed, of course -- I've been hearing about shoobies all summer.

So what's a shoobie? I say it's someone who comes down the shore during the summer but runs away after Labor Day. Local, year-round residents would probably disagree. To them, I am a shoobie, even though I come down in the fall, winter and spring (and I accept that -- as long as you buy my book!).

So where do you think the term "shoobie" came from? And don't just copy and paste what it says in Urban Dictionary. I heard that it came about because a post man would gather up flyers from local businesses, put them in shoe boxes, and give them to people coming down the shore on vacation, hence shoobies.

What's your version of the story?

On another note, shoobies apparently don't go to North Jersey beaches. They're Bennies up that way. I'll leave that explaination to Steve Chernoski of New Jersey: The Movie.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

The beach drama

The big news around these parts (and I'm typing at you from the shore, so today it's "these parts") is that a whole lot of beaches were closed due to medical waste washing up onto the shore. I'm sure this will prompt a lot of "New Jersey is dirty" jokes, but let's be honest: it's not the beach's fault that some idiot dumped medical waste into the water. And considering the officials think it's sabotage? That has nothing to do with the quality of our beaches, just the stupidity of people.

Check with your local beach patrol to see how things are doing on your beach today. And enjoy the shore -- seriously. It's a great place to be.

P.S. Want to follow someone else's blog of vacationing at the Jersey Shore without the news updates, your shore weekend reports and 'vote for me' pleas? ;-) Click here. They had a much longer road to travel to get here than I did.

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Your Shore Weekend

Before we get to my final "Your Shore Weekend" of the summer: I'm doing a little happy dance of glee this morning. Why? Because my article about West Wildwood is in today's New York Times. I pitched this article last August, but by then it was too late to get the article done for summer 2007. It's almost fitting that it made it in the last weekend of Summer 2008 -- a great cap to a wonderful shore season, journalism wise (and many other ways wise) for me.

And on with the show:

This is it, cats and kittens: the last official weekend of Summer 2008. So load up the car, pick your favorite backroad and head down the shore for one last gasp of summer (unless you're like me and vacation there in the fall).

To start, I'll be signing books at Sun Rose Words and Music (756 Asbury Ave., Ocean City) on Saturday from 11am to 1pm -- after which I will be seeing if I can scoop up any end-of-summer sales at the fab shops on the Avenue.

Foreigner's at the Trump Taj Mahal on Saturday night.

Smashmouth plays the House of Blues on Saturday.

The Hooters will be at the Borgata on Saturday.

Carlos Mencia's at the Borgata on Sunday night.

If you're in Sea Isle, check out the Heritage Surfing Competition happening on Saturday and Sunday. It'll be at the 40th street beach.

Ocean City's having a big Labor Day crafts festival on Saturday at the Tabernacle Grounds (6th & Asbury) on Saturday from 10am to 5pm.

There's also a 5 mile race in Ocean City -- this one's on Labor Day.

But the big race -- at least to someone like me who spent a lot of time in Avalon -- is the Tim Kerr 7 Mile run, which covers the seven mile island of Avalon and Stone Harbor. That's on Sunday, and there's also a 5k if you're not up to seven mile distances. I was very tempted -- my training schedule calls for six miles on Sunday -- but I will be home by then and probably not wanting to head back down the AC Expressway.

And that's it! Well, not quite it. We've still got a few days left. I made my way down the shore yesterday and will be here until that last book is signed on Saturday (and probably after a stop at Dixie Picnic for some upcakes). I'm not sure how I'll feel when it's over because, well, I'll be back soon -- maybe even next weekend. I had my contemplative moment, I think, and accepted that it's almost over. My brain's already geared up for fall, too, and the temperate weather we had this week has helped transition my mind to September.

So stay tuned -- Labor Day may be here, but the best is yet to come.

If you wanted to see that Hot Blogger calendar picture I mentioned yesterday, click here.

UPDATE: I'm not sure if the picture ran or not -- I can't get to the blog on this computer. Oh, well. Vote for me anyway!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Quick reminder before we get into the news: I'm having my picture taken at the carousel at Wonderland Pier in Ocean City tonight from about 7pm to 8:30pm. Come out and gawk if you'd like.

Also, one more: the voting for that blogger calendar thing is still going on. Vote for whoever you think should be in it (hint hint) by clicking here. I was also told that they'd be running a picture of me on their blog today, so click here to see it (it's not quite Jersey Shore material, which is why I'm not posting it here -- though you do get a nice shot of what running can do to someone's midsection). **UPDATE** The picture is running on Friday. Sorry for the confusion.

And onto the news:

Yikes: 42 people arrested for drugs and prostitution in Wildwood in August. And oh boy do they name names.

This is sad. R.I.P.

A "shockumentary"? Read more here.

So where did the medical waste the washed up in Avalon come from? Could it have been sabotage?

From the wacky files: work-release fugitive nabbed because he tried to escape via the beach and didn't buy a beach tag.

More from the wacky files: guy gets arrested for trying to skip out on a cab fare from Atlantic City to Ocean City.

The PR team at the Cape May County Zoo have been busy: they've had one article in the Cape May County Herald and one in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Old New York subway cars are finding new life near Cape May as bases for new reef systems.

Here's a report from the Stone Harbor 10k. And here's another one!

Cape May Diamonds! Never heard of them? Click here.

Amy Rosenberg of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes about how beach space gets pinched at high tide.

Cape May Point for the National Registrar? Cape May proper's already on the list.

Here's an article on how to master the surrey.

I knew this would happen eventually: Chloƫ Sevigny shows up at Atlantic City's Chelsea. Her brother is one of the two people who run nighlife there (can she do anything about how people are not allowed to hang out at the pool bar unless they're staying at the hotel? Thought that was a very stupid rule if the ultimate goal is to make money because -- really? -- it wasn't crowded).

And here's lots and lots of your pictures: cute kid in Cape May; early morning in Sea Isle; flip flops on the boardwalk; Atlantic City Air Show; sweet doggie in Strathmere; good times in Ocean City; couple in Sea Isle; walking in Cape May; beachy kids at Cape May Point; more fun in Cape May; good times in Sea Isle; cuteness in Stone Harbor; beach fun in Sea Isle; and family reunion in Cape May.

Stay tuned -- I have a piece in tomorrow's New York Times about a certain shore town. I'll post it here!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

End of Season Deals

Summer's coming to a close, which means that the crowds pack up and move away until next May. That also means that many shore retailers will do just about anything to get you to take the rest of their stock with you.

I checked out the Stone Harbor sidewalk sale last weekend, and it can be summed up in one word: bedlman.

You won't find the same kinds of mass purges now, but you can still find great bargains. I'm gunning for a trip to the Attic in Stone Harbor, which carries leftover stock of Mimi's and Suncatcher, on Friday. Last weekend, everything was $30 or 75 percent off -- whichever was cheapest. This weekend, if they do the same thing they did last year, everything will be $20. That's quite a bargain when you consider that some of their items starts off over the $300 mark. I wish wish wish that the Nicole Miller dress they have left was in my size. If it's still there this weekend, I might buy it and get it altered. It looks something like this:

And, no, I don't want it because of the Angelina thing -- I found this picture when I was looking for a shot of the dress. It's pretty, and it's summery, and it'll be good for next year. I doubt it made it through the $30 round, though. A gal can still hope...

Other spots to check out? Hoy's 5 & 10 in any shore town for souvenirs; Wave One Sports in Stone Harbor and Cape May for quality sweat shirts; and Sun Rose Words and Music for local books about the shore (last time I checked, my book was selling for 20% off). And if you have a favorite shore store, see what they've got left. It's shore to be a steal.

Another tip: keep your eyes open for yard sales if you're into that sort of thing. Lots of shore houses are cleaned out about this time.

I thought about writing a piece on the Atlantic City Outlets, but Leah Ingram (who's been known to pop up in Wildwood) wrote such a great piece on the concept of outlets on her blog that I'll let her do the talking. You can get great bargains at Atlantic City outlets, but I've had much better luck at the clearance racks at the Pier at Caesars in Atlantic fact, I wrote about it last summer. You can check that out here.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This is Why I'm Hot? Part 2

Thanks to everyone who nominated me for the Hot Blogger Calendar -- I'm an finalist! Can you do me another favor? Click here to vote. Because, after all, who'd make a better Miss July than a gal who wrote a book about the shore?

On a similiar note (maybe?) here's the shot of me outside Wildwood's Doo Wop Experience:

I forget how blond and tan I get if I spend a few days on the beach -- I haven't had hair this light since high school (and that's my natural color -- I have a hair dye phobia).

That whole tan/blond thing is one of the reasons I'm excited that the Exit Zero boys are taking my picture this summer for next year's Ocean City guide. That way, I'll look like a shore girl, not a pale version dressed in summer clothes (though I really did like the Cape May picture that ran in Cool Cape May this year). If you'd like to see the shoot in progress, we'll be at the Carousel on Wonderland Pier in Ocean City this Thursday from 7pm to 8:30pm.

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Down the Shore with Jen: Avalon

Here you go, Avalon peeps!

And if you haven't already, drop in and vote for me here. I'm gunning for Miss July :-)

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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Jersey Shore for the Holidays

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, about one out of every four books I sell at signings are bought as gifts. We did brisk sales for Mother's and Father's Day, and I've met a lot of people who are buying signed books now so they can give them as gifts in December.

A woman who stopped by at my Sea Isle City signing asked if she could buy books directly from me -- with personalized inscriptions -- in bulk for the holidays.

The answer, now, is yes.

Here's the deal: If you want to buy a signed copy of The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May as a holiday gift (or any other kind of gift), but either can't get to a signing or would prefer the book be sent by mail, you can buy directly from me and have the book signed with whatever inscription you want.

Stumped? Some examples:

"To Nanna: Enjoy the Shore! Jen A. Miller."
"To Mary: I hope you enjoy this book, which is about your favorite place on earth. Jen A. Miller."
"Dear Josh Duhamel: Will you marry me? Jen A. Miller."

The cost is $20 (which includes tax, shipping and handling) for the first book and $15 for each additional book sent to the same address. So if you buy one, it's $20. If you buy two, it's $35. If you buy three, it's $50. Ordering is as simple as emailing me at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com with:

1. Your Name
2. The address where you'd like the book sent
3. What message you'd like me to sign

And you can pay me one of three:

1. Check
2. Carrier Pigeon
3. Paypal

Yes, I know this is early to be talking about the holidays (and to feature my dog in reindeer ears on the blog), but I've already started my holiday shopping, and I know the shore isn't always on the forefront of my mind at the holidays -- yes, even for me. So I figured I'd get the ball rolling while the beaches are still crowded and lifeguards are still on the stand!

Remember: today is the last day to nominate me as a "Hot Blogger." Details on how to do so are here.

**UPDATE**I'm a finalist! Thanks again for all your nominations. Now you can vote by clicking here!

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sunday Notes

What a beautiful beach day yesterday! I had a great time in Avalon capped by a lovely evening in Sea Isle signing books at the Book Nook. That signing also gave me a great idea: setting up a system where people can buy personalized, signed books for the holidays. About a fourth of everything I sell at signings are books people are buying as gifts. So stay tuned.

There's a few articles in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about the shore. One is about how shore business was slow in June and July and then kicked up this August. It's important enough to go on the front page of a Sunday paper, but apparently not important enough to go online. So pick up a dead tree copy if you're interested.

Another article discusses how Atlantic City casinos are offering less comps. And yet another highlights what happened in Avalon yesterday: the beach was shut down because some bozo dumped medical waste in the water. It was such a great beach day, too. I got one round of body surfing in, then they shut down the beach. Boo.

Remember: one more day to nominate me as a "Hot Blogger." Details on how to do so are here.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008


Yes, it was as beautiful as it looks: sunset at Sunset beach in Cape May. If you've never gone, it's an absolute must. It was the perfect way to cap a late summer day -- and the summer. It's been quite a ride.

On a completely different note: a few friends were recently laid off -- no fault of their own, really. So if you have any openings in marketing, advertising, or graphic design, drop me a line at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

This is Why I'm Hot?

Apparently, someone nominated me as a "Hot Blogger." Also, apparently, if I win, I get to be in a calendar. How this happened, I'm not really sure, but it would be kind of cool to win, huh? It's been a while since I've done any big photo shoots (my head shot not included).

From what I'm reading, I need to keep being nominated through Monday to make the finals, so if you'd like to give a girl some help, email Jane [at] hotbloggercalendar [dot] com or click here. My twitter name for the nomination form is @jerseyshorejen.

Photo -- from the Doo Dah Parade in Ocean City -- by Marc Steiner of Agency New Jersey.

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Your Shore Weekend

Thirteen down, two weekends to go, people. This is just about the end of Summer 2008, so let's get right to it:

The most important thing (obviously) is that I'll be signing books at the Book Nook (37th and the Boardwalk) in Sea Isle City on Saturday night from 6-8pm. It's my second to last summer signing, so stop by to buy a book, hang out or just say hi. Should be a nice night for it.

Some other people might be interested in that Jimmy Buffet guy, who's playing Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City on Sunday night, but what's he got that I don't? Parrot heads?

But before he gets there, Jordin Sparks and Jesse McCartney are playing Boardwalk Hall on Friday night.

Do you think he's sexy? If you do, Rod Stewart will be at the Borgata this weekend.

I don't think Rod's so hot. But John Mayer? Yeah, he'll do. He's playing the Borgata on Sunday.

Bust out the bleach blond hair and earring Billy Idol will play the House of Blues on Friday.

It's sidewalk sale time in Stone Harbor! Check it out on Saturday. Want a preview of the scene? This New York Times article from last summer just about sums it up.

Up for a workout? There's a triathalon and duathon in Wildwood on Saturday.

And there's a "hands on art" event at Historic Cold Springs Village this weekend.

If you're looking ahead: Monday is the Taste of the Quarter at the Tropicana. Proceeds benefit the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Hard to believe that it's almost over, isn't it? I spent some time down the shore this week, and it didn't even feel like summer -- we didn't have that bone crushing humidity but sunny skies, nice breezes, and cool nights.

If you're itching to go but don't you have a shot at scoring a place to stay, I have a suggestion: get online (or get to my book) and start calling places. Many are booked, yes, but you never know when a cancellation will open up a prime room. I stopped yesterday to visit Jay and Mary Ann Gorrick of Cape May's Inn at the Park yesterday, and while we were talking, someone called in to cancel. "That'll get booked back up," saidMary Ann. "They've been calling all day." So if you still want to go, take a little time, make a lot of calls, and you, too, can have your shore weekend!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Book You Can Really Sink Your Teeth Into

This is Elizabeth, my cousin's baby (does that make her my second cousin?) Anyway, their clan was visiting the shore and snapped this picture in Avalon. It's a tasty read.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Doo Wop Experience

Last night, I dashed down to Wildwood to have my picture taken in front of the Doo Wop Experience, a museum of sorts dedicated to Doo Wop architecture, which is so prevalent in Wildwood.

It's a neat spot -- an old diner that's been retrofitted to include part museum part malt shop. They also have rescued neon signs outside in what's called a "neon garden." Last summer, I snapped a picture of the garden, and included that picture in my book. Then, they had only two signs. This year? Well, it's quite a different story. It's a bright garden of flashy glam -- I'll post the picture when I have it if I can.

If you have my book, I wrote about Doo Wop in Wildwood on page 162. If you don't have my book (and why not?!), then check out a short blip I wrote about it for New Jersey Monthly. It's under "Doo Wop Tour".

I took a walk on the Ocean City boardwalk this morning before I dashed home (there's a lot of dashing going on here, but it's busy in the offices of Jen A. Miller with the end of summer coming). It was a gorgeous day and perfect for a long walk. I saw everything from high school soccer teams running to packs of bikes making their way up and down the boards. I'm going to miss this summer -- really.

**UPDATE** Forgot to mention this one: as I was walking on the Ocean City boardwalk, I heard a man say to his family "let's have breakfast at that Upcake place." Maybe I did have an affect on what people know about the shore :-)

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

High, High, Up in the Sky

Two big mid-week events:

The first is for the ladies (though we do welcome men): the South Jersey chapter of eWomenNetwork is having a fab event at the Foundation Room in the Showboat this Thursday from 6-8pm. Check out the details here. I'll be there -- our last shore event at the Pool at Harrah's was a blast, and I expect no less this time around.

The second is for everyone and one of Atlantic City's most popular events: the Atlantic City Air Show, which takes place this Wednesday. Check out the schedule here. Don't freak out if you hear the planes zipping through the sky on Tuesday -- it's their practice day. I saw the practices last year, and they were unreal. I was offered a media ride today but given that I'm not exactly that adventurous, suggested that the gentlemen of Agency New Jersey give it a go instead. I'm sure their pictures will turn out much better than anything I could take!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

End of Summer Signings

There's part of me that still -- STILL -- can't believe we only have two summer shore weekends left. Time flies when you're having fun, eh?

I'll be doing two more signings this summer, one on each weekend:

1. August 23 in Sea Isle City. I'll be doing the signing through Dalrymple's. I *think* it's going to be at their boardwalk location from 6-8pm. I'll let you know when I confirm that location and time.

2. August 30 at Sun Rose Words & Music in Ocean City (756 Asbury Ave). The ladies at Sun Rose have been a big champion of this book, and this is my third signing with them. I'll signing from 11am to 1pm.

And that'll be it for my signings at the Jersey Shore this summer. Still hard to believe that it's almost over.

Well, not quite. The shore doesn't just disappear after Labor Day. That's when I'll be on vacation, after all. Plus, I've already lined up assignments and events for summer 2009 (I need a killer dress for a photo shoot that'll be done this September to run for Summer 2009 -- suggestions?)

I've got some things cooking this fall, too. The big event is that I'm part of the Ocean County Library Bookfest on September 27. Look at the lineup! I'm so excited to meet Aliza Green. Her food books are staples in my kitchen. And hopefully I'm going to be part of the Collingswood Book Festival on October 4. I have the paperwork...somewhere. Hopefully the home town gal can still squeak in her entry form on time.

And in case you were wondering...I was in Margate this weekend. Lovely beach, lovely town, but it carried that "end of summer" air. The cooler temps added to that, too, I think. I'd be a happy camper if the humidity stayed away until next summer -- or at least takes a break when I'm on vacation!

I've been thinking about the end of summer a lot over the last few days, especially on my drive home yesterday. I'm tempted to watch sunset on Sunset Beach in Cape May on Labor Day, but I think I'd be too sad. As much as I say that I'm looking forward to the fall -- and I really am -- it's another summer gone and tucked away in the memory books. But this summer was something else. In reading back over the blog, I can't believe how much has happened in the last three months. It's one of those things that I'll remember, and that will have affects on me, both personally and professionally, for a long time.

I'll write more about that later -- probably when I flip over to September on my calendar. Until then, enjoy what we've got left!

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Shore Break: Top of the World

Like a lot of "shoobies," I live in the Philadelphia area, and on Thursday I was lucky enough to take a trip of the Comcast Center, which is Philadelphia's tallest building. I was there for work reasons -- I write the marketing materials for L.F. Driscoll Co., who built the building -- but it was so cool to get up to the top.

Aside from the neat-o factor, this picture has another meaning. Behind me is Liberty 1 and Liberty 2. My grandfather was the superintendent for Liberty 1 (his last project before he retired), and and three of my uncles, my cousin and my sister worked on the Comcast project.

You'll also notice that I'm wearing a cardigan. We've been blessed with some moderate temperatures the last few days, which has been a nice break. I have many memories of hot sweaty days on the beach in late August. I much prefer slightly cooler temps!

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Beach Read addendum via Philly Mag

Still don't have that perfect beach read? Then check out this review I wrote for Philadelphia Magazine of Terry O'Brien's Murder-Oke! And Other Spooky Cape May Tales.

I'm currently working my way through Nora Robert's Tribute. It's good, but I'm not as attached to it as I have been with other NR novels. I don't know what I'm going to read next, though I better figure that out fast -- I plan on spending the majority of today lying on the beach, and a book is a must have.

So let me ask you: What's been your beach read this summer? And where do you buy your beach books? (bonus points if it's from an independent book store!) My family spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on beach books at Hideaway Books, which used to be in Avalon. One summer I got "serious" about reading and would only choose books from the "literature" section -- quite a change after summers of Sweet Valley High. When I started in on the Edgar Allen Poe, my parents were 'concerned.' I turned out okay though...I think.

If you need beach read suggestions, you can check out my "52 books in 52 weeks" blog project (which ended up beeing 52 books in 7 months...but I digress). Lots of reviews, lots of suggestions -- for free!

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Your Shore Weekend

I don't know about you, but my shore weekend is going to involve a lot of sun, a lot of sand, a lot of food and a lot of sleep with a few naps possibly thrown in. Where am I going? Well, I won't tell you that (though I'll post about it next week).

But before we get into what's going on this weekend, Steve Lubetkin was kind enough to interview me about the Jersey Shore for his fabulous podcast series. Check it out here.

To kick things off, there's a new nightlife site up for Atlantic City (if you're looking for an impromptu office dance party, click on the site and turn up the music).

Chris Rock's at the Borgata on Friday night.

Bob Dylan's playing the Borgata on Saturday night.

And Herbie Hancock will also be at the Borgata on Saturday night. I wrote a paper about him in middle school and I remember absolutely nothing about it.

The Little Miss Ocean City pageant is on Friday.

The Little Miss Townsends Inlet contest is also on Friday night.

On Saturday in Ocean City, watch out for two dueling divas.

The big events this weekend in Avalon center around the Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund (the same group to whom I donated the proceeds from last weekend's book signing). Friday is the Method Skate Jam at the Avalon Skate Park; Saturday night is a Reunion at the Windrift; and Sunday is the big surf competition. Full details here.

Ahoy! The Hobie Cat races come to Wildwood this weekend.

And, finally, this weekend, Cape May's having an antique car show.

Well, not quite finally. I wrote an article for today's Philadelphia Inquirer about how to buy used furniture. Featured in the article is Heather McCulley, who found her prized dining set down the shore. Turns out her husband is Matt McCulley, who's in charge of the Tri for Our Veterans event that happened in Sea Isle City this year. It also turns out that Matt was quite the troublemaker back in Avalon Campground. He's a shade older than I am, but we figured that we must have crossed paths in the campground pool since our familes had summer places there around the same time. He also worked as a bartender for the OD, and ran or rode his bike to and from the campground to the bar. I'm sure it was great training for you, Matt, for what you do now.

I've been inspired by the folks I interviewed for this story and started looking at used furniture on my own (plus, my budget dictates it). They'd be happy to know that I alleviated my neighbor's trash of a porch set last week -- nothing wrong with it, they just weren't taking it with them to their new place.

I was tempted to do something with this, too:

I wasn't going to take it per say, but maybe go all Office Space(the clip has naughty language) on it. Why? Read the full story here -- the picture is of the offending stereo.

Only three weekend left in the summer season, folks. So if you're a summer shore person, time's running out. Etan Horowitz, a reporter with the Orlando Sentinel, who's down the shore this week, said that the end of season feeling has hit, and I agree.

Yes, the shore is in its peak frenzy, but it's all going to be over soon -- at least until next summer. I have mixed feelings. I love the shore in the fall, so I'm looking forward to smaller crowds (and my personal vacation). But the end of summer is sort of the end of my book sprint. Of course I'll keep writing this blog and talking and writing about the shore -- in fact, I booked my first Summer 2009 event today. But I get this feeling that a time like this is never going to happen again. It was my first book, and it did better than I could have possibly imagined. I never in my wildest dreams hoped that it would get so much media attention, or that I'd have fans coming to my book signings. So thanks again to everyone who made this summer so very special...and enjoy these final three weeks. I know I will.

Speaking of that three month sprint (and so as not to leave on a sour note)...ever wonder what it's like to spend your summer promoting a book while trying to write full time, at the same time? Tiring...

...which is why you need a nice, warm, snuggly pillow :-)

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fan Mail

Last weekend, I mentioned that the Marple family from Massachusetts stopped by my book signing at Pale Moon Boutique in Avalon, NJ. And here they are! Dad Marple emailed me the picture today and said that the kids were so excited to meet me -- I was excited to meet them, too ;-)

The Marples subscribe to this blog, meaning they get these posts email to them every day. Want to subscribe, too? Drop your email on the box on the left.

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News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Horrible, horrible news: a body washed up on the Atlantic City beach.

More bad news for Atlantic City: gaming earnings are still down.

But the Tropicana's still hanging on.

Another Chowhound request: bachelorhood party in AC -- where should they go? I already answered...

OH NO! Kabat's Men Shop is closing! I loved this place in Ocean City -- it was literally a step back in time. We already lost the men's dress shop in the Flander's Hotel. What's next? Please don't take Hassis. Then I'll have nowhere to visit and remember how bored I was while my dad bought new work clothes (I get it now, but what kid wants to wait for dad to try on clothes where there's rides to be ridden and ice cream to be eaten?)

Gov. Corzine was in Ocean City to promote tourism. But I guess he can't save Kabat's.

Where the h*ll is David? Well, he was in Stone Harbor.

Could be a series coming to HBO called Boardwalk Empire (Atlantic City Boardwalk that is). What big name is attached? Martin Scorcese. Can't get much bigger than that.

Is Pinnacle really going to build? Time will tell.

Here's your fun shore pictures of the week: cute baby in Sea Isle; cute kids in Wildwood; cute family in Wildwood; lovely sunset in Cape May; boat in Stone Harbor; family photos from Avalon; retro Sea Isle; and visit with grandmom and grandpop in Ocean City.

Speaking of Ocean's a picture of me taking pictures at Miss Crustacean courtesy of Local Ocean, a branch of the Exit Zero publishing empire:

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Housekeeping, and a Word From Your Sponsor

A few housekeeping notes:

1. I was interviewed for a New York Observer piece about The Chelsea. You can read that here (I'm on page 2).

2. Over at my blog, I wrote a piece about looking back at my freshman college self (good reading for all you college kids and parents of soon-to-be college kids). You can read that here.

3. And now a word from your sponsor (that sponsore being me): Christmas shopping early? Next time you need to hop on, get there by clicking on the box that says "My book" over on the left hand side of the blog. Why? Because it's a small way to support your favorite shore blogger (I'm part of a program where I get a little percentage of every sale that comes from people clicking into amazon from my page -- same thing if you book a hotel room from the link under "Going to AC?").

Thanks, Down the Shore with Jen readers!

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More Ways to Save Down the Shore

I've posted before about ways to save money on your shore vacation (and talked about that same topic on CN8). Here's a few more quick tips on how to save cash:

1. Take the Ten Toe Express.
That means walk -- yes, walk -- to where you need to go. This works two ways. First, if you walk as opposed to drive, you save money on gas. Second, if you want to park close to the beach/amusements/restaurants, you'll most likely pay a fee (meter or parking fee). If you walk, you don't have to pay. If you drive into town and park a few blocks away from the action, then walk, you can still save because less crowded streets usually don't have meters. I did this recently in Ocean City and Atlantic City and saved about $10. That's not a lot, but it adds up when you're back and forth to the shore all summer.

2. Pack it Up. Shore food's expensive, so cut out at least one paid-for meal by bringing food to the beach. My typical beach lunch is trail mix, pretzels and a piece of fruit (peaches are my latest choice). If I don't make the trail mix, I pick up two bags for $7 at Walgreens. Just make sure you don't get the variety with chocolate if you're out in the sun for a long time.

3. Water, Water, Everywhere. Bottled water's another expensive item, so I've been bringing mine or finding public places with water fountains -- most public bathrooms have one attached. If that freaks you out, hit up dollar stores and drug stores for bottled water. Last year, someone tried to charge me $3 for a bottle. Yikes. It was $.99 a few stores up the boardwalk.

4. Sit Smart. For beach chairs, it would seem that you have two options: rent one or buy one when you're down the shore. Here's my suggestion before you even hit the highway -- see if anyone you know has one. I don't have a beach chair (for shame!) but my mom has two, so I borrow one of hers. Also, if you're renting a shore house, ask if they provide beach chairs. While you're at it, ask if they provide beach tags and bikes, too. House tags will save you pin money, and house bikes will save you the gas of hauling down your own. If you're at a hotel, you might be in luck, too. I didn't bring my beach chair to my stay at The Chelsea, but they had their own set up that I used. Another tip: if you've got a lot of kids running around, bring an old bed sheet for them to sit on. That was my 'beach chair' as a kid -- though I rarely sat.

5. Quarter Bribe. This isn't really a tip, but one of my favorite grandparent-shore stories. My Grandmom and Grandpop Miller had a place down the shore, just a few miles away from where my family stayed at Avalon Campground. Sometimes we'd head down with them for the weekend or week, and to make sure we behaved (there were four of us, after all) and not pester them about the drive, each child was given four quarters. Every time we complained or acted up, we had to give Grandmom one of our quarters. Then, when we arrived at their campground, we were allowed to use whatever quarters we had left in the game room. It might not seem like such a big money saver, but it did keep us quiet, and it set a limit to how much we'd spend on video games, which can add up if you keep giving out quarters.

6. Check Your Change. Speaking of...we played a lot of video games at Jillian's in Ocean City. My little brother once cashed a dollar in the change machine and got back a quarter from the 1800s, which was worth well over $.25. So check your quarters before you use them to play.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The End is Near

If you don't live in the NJ area, you missed a beautiful day yesterday. It was sunny and warm without the humidity that usually bathes this part of the country every August. I had a nice drive down the Margate last night, too -- I had to wear a cardigan over my summer top to stay warm, and I'm glad I had it as I ate dinner on the deck at Greenhouse last night.

It got me thinking about fall, and how my views of the Jersey Shore have changed over the last year and a half. It used to be that special summer place, and it still is. As I wrote the book last summer over an intense three and a half month period, I steeped myself in that vacation culture, trying to put into book form why the area was so popular, and what specific things are on the must-see list.

Then, after I turned in my manuscript the day after Labor Day, I figured my shore time was over -- until the book came out at least. But I kept going back, whether it was to research articles, do advance PR work or because I wanted to. Those fall/winter/spring months gave me an entirely different view of the shore. I had the time and space to really appreciate a special area of the country. Those repeat trips back and forth forced me to realize something else, too: the shore isn't that far away. It took me 45 minutes to get there last night -- that's a quicker drive than getting out to King of Prussia.

I thought of this as I rolled down the Atlantic City expressway, no traffic, a slight clip in the air. I do admit that I felt sad that the summer was coming to a close (Labor Day is three weeks away), but anticipation for my favorite time at the shore.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

At Least Saturday Was Beautiful

I know I said yesterday that it looked like it was going to be a nice beach day, and it did...until I got home and the skies opened. Hopefully you didn't have too bad a commute home last night.

I had a wonderful weekend in Atlantic City and Avalon. My tip to you if you're staying at a casino this summer: go early, check in and have them hold your bags. This way, you can beat all that Saturday summer traffic and still avail yourself of the casino's amenities. I did just that and got to work out at Caesar's fab gym (I was the only one there, which meant I could sing while running -- and no one would hear, I hope). I also laid by the pool and sipped on something that might or might not have been spiked with my lunch (I love drinks that have umbrellas in it). This was following by a quick shopping trip and pedicure, all before I even checked into the room -- which was fabulous. They just renovated the rooms in the Centurion tower. I was a little worried about getting stuck in a 'classic' cheeseball casino room, but these were elegant, tasteful, and my bathroom mirror had a TV in it -- can you say state of the art? It was also smack in the middle of the Boardwalk, which I appreciated. I think I will be going back to this one.

After a nice hot shower and some relaxation time (which may or may not have involved a cheesteak), I headed down to Avalon for my book signing. I hoped that I'd do well -- after all, the money was going to charity -- but I didn't expect to sell out. Yes, you read right -- I SOLD OUT. That's the first time something like that happened, and it couldn't have been for a better reason: money raised went to Brendan's Fund, which helps families who have a child undergoing cancer treatments.

It was wonderful talking to the people buying the book, many who were locals or had read about the book in paper. I gave one free copy out, to a young man who helped me carry the books to the signing, and when I saw him on the way back, he raved about the book -- he's all of I'd say 15 years old, so I'd say that it's a hit.

Special thanks to the Marple (sp?) family for stopping by. They live in Massachusetts and travel to the Jersey Shore for two weeks every year. They're also avid readers of this blog, and asked if they could take their picture with me (and hey Marples! Remember to email me that picture!) I've met 'fans' before, but that was really something special.

Then it was back to Atlantic City, battling Saturday night AC traffic (can you tell I'm itching for fall at the shore?) to get back to Caesar's and head down to the Chelsea to meet up with friends. I was disappointed when I was told that I couldn't sit at their pool bar because I wasn't a guest, but Chelsea Prime, now open, looked busy. So me and a friend headed down to the Trop for drinks at Firewaters (which has 50 beers on tap) where we witnessed an impromptu push up competition; then up to Adam Good Sports Bar where I guess I saw about 17 bachelorette parties and people drinking 40s -- yes, 40s, paper bags included.

Even with the doom and gloom predictions about Atlantic City, and shop owners in other shore towns telling me business has been slow most of the summer, the casinos were packed. I could barely get through the Caesar's gaming floor.

I was back in my room by midnight. It had been a long day, and I'm not much of a party girl anyway. When I threw open the curtains the next morning and looked onto the beach, I wished I could have stayed all day, but had to go home to get my dog. Good thing, too -- the weather turned rainy fast, and I was tucked in on my couch by the time the worst of the rain hit. It makes me long even more for fall -- I know a lot of people think of spring as the season of renewal, but for me, that's fall. Think about it: most of those hot, sticky days are over. Everyone's sort of back to a regular schedule, you're not rushing to and from the beach on weekends. And the weather is gorgeous. I know winter's not far behind, but on those hot sticky days, I'd rather have winter than summer. I guess that's why I'm a cold weather runner. As much as I loved lying on that pool deck and soaking up the sun, such a lovely non-humid summer day is rare. I'm looking forward to those gems coming in September.

On a sad note, a young man died on Saturday at the Pier at Caesars. I newspaper report says that he sat on the railing of the escalator and fell backwards, then down 40 feet. I've spent the last hour trying to figure out if I was there when it happened. I don't think I was, or else I would have seen something. Very sad. Please be careful on escalators.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Shopping in Atlantic City

Good morning from atop Atlantic City! And I do mean that literally -- I'm writing this blog post from the 44th floor of Caesar's in Atlantic City. I'll write more about my lovely stay tomorrow.

But until then, I'll write about a much more important topic: shopping.

I kid, I kid, but it is something people do when they're down the shore, especially in Atlantic City, which gives you plenty of chances to spend. Two big favorites are the Atlantic City Outlets (aka the Walk) and the Pier Shops at Caesars. You can walk between the two, which helps.

I know people go nuts for outlet shopping, especially now when everyone is not only looking for but needs a deal. Here's my tip: at this time of year, you could get better deals from the sales racks of non-outlet stores. I had that luck last summer at Banana Republic and Charles David, and I did it again this year.

I spent about an hour at the outlets on Wednesday and came home with running socks from the Adidas store. Yes, just running socks. I'm a pretty thrifty person, and they were the only thing that really jumped out at me (and the dryer has been eating my running socks, so I had a need).

Yesterday I headed into the Pier and found a gorgeous green knit dress that I'm calling my first Mad Men-inspired purchase of the year. It's a fall color at a summer clearance price:

It looks a little different on someone who's er, a little more hour glass-y :-)

I also made a fabulous purchase for the upcoming school year. Yes, I said school year: I'm teaching technical writing at Rutgers-Camden this fall. This is my 'school bag':

I'm a big fan of LeSportsac bags (and Russian nesting dolls -- I have one in my dining room), and I sometimes need to see a pattern in person to grab me instead of looking at it on a website. So it's nice to be able to come to an actual LeSportsac store. Thanks, Pier at Caesars.

With that, I'm going to pack up and head home. It looks like it'll be a beautiful beach day (though Saturday's going to be hard to top), but my pup's waiting for me, and I've got some things to do at home. Ciao!

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City (and Avalon)

I'm headed back to Atlantic City today to check out another new thing that opened this summer: Caesar's. Well, it's not entirely new, but they did renovate the rooms, and they did open up Qua, a new spa experience.

Of all Qua has to offer, I'm most excited about...the gym. Typical.

And remember! Book signing at Pale Moon Boutique in Avalon tonight from 6-8pm! All of the proceeds go to charity, so get your copy now!

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Your Shore Weekend

The most important thing about this week is that I'll be doing a book signing at Pale Moon Boutique in Avalon from 6-8pm on Saturday. But that's not an entirely selfish message because 100% of the proceeds from Saturday's book sale are going to the Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund. That's right -- 100%. So if you haven't gotten your copy yet, or you want to buy them as Christmas gifts, Saturday's the time to do it. My book signing is also the kick of for a week of events that all benefit the fund, so check it out.

I made a mistake in last week's "Your Shore Weekend" -- Tour de Shore (a bar tour on bikes, in costume) is this Sunday. My apologies for the mistake. Speaking of, does anyone else get the "UN Official Newsletter" from Quimby? What's the beef with The Princeton? Inquiring minds would like to know...

It's also an important calendar date: 8/8/08. Last year, we had 7/7/07, but 8 is a lucky number in a lot of Asian cultures. Asian gaming is big in Atlantic City, so if you're going to the casinos tonight, ask about any 8/8/08 specials.

The big Friday Night concert in Atlantic City is Maroon Five and Counting Crows at the Borgata.

Also on Friday, and also at the Borgata, is KT Tunstall.

On Saturday night, Stone Temple Pilots play the Borgata.

The Miss Ocean City Pageant is on Saturday night.

There's a US Air Force Liberty Band Concert in Avalon tonight at 7pm. Check it out at Veterans Plaza.

I don't quite get wrestling, but if you do, WWE is camped out in Wildwood tonight.

This is always a sight: the United Way of Cape May County's Rubber Ducky Regatta is on Sunday at Raging Waters Water Park at Morey's Piers. Rubber Ducky, you really are the one.

If you're in Cape May today, check out the Sand Sculpture Contest at 2nd Avenue and the Beach.

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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ocean Silly

Yesterday, I was honored to be part of Ocean City's annual Miss Crustacean pageant where the fairest maiden of them all was given a beautiful cucumber cup for her supreme beauty.

It was all very silly -- and hot. I should have worn suntan lotion and bug spray (those darn greenheads got me). But it was fun and reminded me more of a fourth of July bike parade than actual beauty pageant. Here's a lot of pictures (the first is of 1 2 3 Draw, a fun teenage rock band):

That last picture is of the winner from the Halloween/Herman Munster themed house. I included the second to last picture because, after all, a queen must have her paparazzi.

Very silly, but, for the 34th year in a row, very fun.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Chelsea

I wrote a "Slant" a.k.a. op/ed piece for this week's Philadelphia City Paper about Atlantic City, using The Chelsea, a new boutique hotel, as the hinge for my opinion. You can read that op/ed here.

I want The Chelsea to succeed. I think it can succeed -- Lord knows I love Congress Hall in Cape May, which was renovated by the same group.

And yet........I have my doubts.

You can read about most of them in the op/ed. It's not a slight to Curtis Bashaw and The Chelsea team, but more a concern about the state of the city in a spiraling economy.

Then there's The Chelsea itself. I stayed there Tuesday night, and it was cooler than I thought it would be. They did such a good job making the whole place retro, and that's my thing. I like going to a hotel that doesn't have a casino. I like not having to walk through smoke to get to my room.

And yet........I don't think the building is ready for customers. They're already behind schedule but decided to open up anyway without the bars, restaurants, or spas being ready. The rooms didn't have any information about the hotel -- nothing about room service, which I really wanted this morning. The elevators were slow, and even then, contractors were more than ready to kvetch about the construction process to staying guests (many of whom were grumpy). I checked in right after a couple checked out and asked for a credit or partial refund.

These are the growing pains of a new hotel, but the place is so frantic and so unfinished that I wish they'd waited another two weeks or even month to open. Yes, they would have lost the cusp of the summer season, and, yes, they would have lost the money from everyone who's stayed so far (they were sold out), but I bet a lot of people who stayed last night will not come back.

It's a fun place, and I think it will do well, but it's just a bit too early.

Here's some pictures. They really did a wonderful job. I just wish they'd held back a few weeks to fling open the front doors.

(If you are going to stay at The Chelsea, I hear the first restaurant will open Thursday night, and I'm going to swing by on Saturday night after my book signing in Avalon 6-8pm at Pale Moon Boutique. Of course I will report back...)

One of my favorite parts...private beach with cabana boy service:

The lobby:

A room. The details in the furniture and decor really make it a swell room. Couldn't you see a Mad Men-esque photo shoot here?

Another one of those little touches that make the difference: look at everything in this kit. It makes up, in part, for not having a hotel gift shop or bar. The retro candies! The quality gin! You can even buy yourself an "intimacy kit," which has exactly what you think it would have:

This is part of "The 5th Floor," what will be the nightlife center. Again, looks super cool and I can't wait to try it:

And outdoor couches by the pool:

So my take? It's a beautiful, fun renovation of what used to be two so so hotels. If I were a magazine art director, I'd be setting up fashion shoots there pronto. But if you're going to go, wait a month. It should be in full swing this fall.

Since there was no wining and dining at The Chelsea last night, my evening involved drinks at the Hilton's Dizzy Dolphin (it's a ship! with a bar!) followed by an immaculate dinner at the Knife & Fork Inn -- which could explain why I craved room service and possibly a Bloody Mary this morning. Ah, well. Bagel and coffee from Adam Good Deli at the Tropicana was probably a healthier bet.

I have lots of pictures from today's hermit crab beauty pageant...will post tomorrow.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Hermit crabs are one of those shore things that kids love and parents hate. Every other boardwalk shop has them, and most entice kids in with something free, colorful shells and the promise of a pet when you leave that night.

My parents resisted for a long time, but eventually caved -- can you blame them? Four kids asking over...and over...and over again?

They weren't bad pets. We'd let them race across the living room floor, watch them munch away, and scare our friends by picking up the crabs and showing off the claws.

But all that ended one fateful day when my crab, Charlie, decided to make himself top dog and ate my sister's hermit crab.

OK, so maybe he didn't eat the crab, but we thought he did. Turns out he just ate the molting, which is what comes off when a hermit crab sheds. After molting, a hermit crab is supposed to eat his or her own molt for strength. After my crab at that of my sister's, my sister's crab died. You can imagine what kind of turmoil that brought to the Miller household.

I bring this up today because, as I mentioned before, I'm judging the Miss Crustacean Hermit Crab Beauty Pageant in Ocean City on Wednesday. It starts at 1 pm at 6th and the Boardwalk. If beauty's not quite your thing, there's a hermit crab race after. I bet Charlie would have been a factor in that one.

So do you have a hermit crab story? Put it in the comments below.

Also, back in May, I interviewed Justin Catanoso, author of My Cousin the Saint: A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles, for the blog. He's featured in a wonderful article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. Check that out here.

Photo by Vanessa Pike-Russell. And, no, it's not of Charlie. He was too sexy for the camera.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Fall Shore

I know, I know, summer's not over yet, but I'm already looking ahead at fall down the shore. Why? Two reasons:

1. I just made final arrangements for my shore vacation, which is going to be in September.
2. I'm writing an article about it (of course!)

So here's where I need your help: I'm looking for someone who chooses to vacation at the South Jersey Shore (for this article, that would be LBI to Cape May) in the fall. If you'd like to be interviewed, drop me at line at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Is that you? Let me know! Or comment below about why you love the shore in the fall.

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Cape May and a Whole Lot of Mad Men

I haven't been feeling so great this weekend, so I hunkered down with the first seasons of Mad Men on DVD. First of all, it's a fantastic show. I highly recommend it (and I can already tell some of that fabulous circa 1960 fashion is going to have some influence on how I'll be dressing this fall -- that is, if you can ever get me away from this desk). But why am I writing about it on a shore blog? Because the Draper family (the 'main' family in the show) vacations in Cape May.

Now, Cape May in 1960 was not Cape May today. Those gorgeous old mansions weren't seen as something worth saving -- a lot of people wanted to get rid of them. Aren't we glad they didn't? Carolyn Pitts, who I wrote about on this blog, had a lot to do with that. Read more here .

There were no Cape May shots in the show (save one bedroom, but that doesn't count). So I'll leave you with the season 1 trailer

P.S. Does anyone still do boozy lunches? I'd love to write an article about that...

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

You Gotta Have AARP

"The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May, by Jen A. Miller, zeros in on the region's best of the best."

That is from the September/October issue of AARP magazine. Yes, that AARP magazine -- the magazine with the largest worldwide circulation. It's in an article about Atlantic City by Laura Daily.

I'm excited. VERY excited, as in I-ran-around-my- mom's-house-in-my-own-version-of-a-victory-lap excited.

If you get AARP, it's on page 90. The article's not online, or I'd link to it, of course. Also, check out Perry Garfinkel's piece about the Jersey Shore from the same issue. I talked to Perry, author of Buddah or Bust a lot while he was putting the piece together. It's nice to finally see it in print.

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Friday, August 1, 2008

Your Shore Weekend

Can you believe it's August already? One more month, folks, until the real world strikes again (though if you're like me and love the shore in the fall, you can't wait until the calendar flips over).

Here's what you'll find down the shore this weekend:

Big concert of the weekend: The Killers at the Borgata on Friday night. I almost went (they're great in concert), but it's my friend's 40th birthday. And what's more important than that?

It's not unusual...Tom Jones will play Atlantic City on Friday and Saturday nights. He'll be at Trump Taj Mahal.

Jill Scott's at the Borgata on Sunday.

And Kevin Costner -- yes, THAT Kevin Costner -- will play the House of Blues on Friday and Saturday nights.

This weekend is the Art of Surfing festival in Ocean City. As I mentioned yesterday, my friends in the band The Silence will be playing Friday night.

Check out a sand sculpting event in Avalon on Saturday.

The Greater Wildwood Yact Club is hosting the 70th Greater Wildwood Yacht Club Regatta.

Got teenage girls? Delia's is having a blow out sale at the Wildwoods Convention Center through August 7.

And if you're in Cape May on Friday Morning, the annual Baby Parade starts at 11am.

**UPDATE**How could I forget this one? Tour de Shore is this weekend! It's basically an Avalon bar tour done in bikes and in costumes. This will be the 22nd year. Things get rolling at the Princeton on Sunday at noon.

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