Thursday, July 30, 2009

Your Shore Weekend

THE BIG THING THIS WEEKEND: Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival. Yes, that big a deal. I'd be there if I didn't have to work on Saturday. BOO.

So go eat. A lot. And have a serving for me too, yeah?

And, as promised, here's my piece about the Roaming Gnome in Atlantic City.

Yes, still getting back up to speed. I got my stitches out and ran for the first time on Thursday. It wasn't very far, but I still did it. Progress...

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

The Atlantic City International Airport is gunning for more customers.

Here's my question: do people really care about this stuff? And if so, were you ticked she wore what looks like a bed sheet? Jeez. I know AC isn't some "like, totally" California town, but it'd have been nice if you put some effort into it.

A bike bandit? Yes, really -- a bike bandit bank robber down the shore.

Remember when Trump Marina was going to become a Margaritaville-themed casino? Didn't happen. Now the Margaritaville people claim that the Trump people let the place fall apart (which I had heard, too), pushed patrons to other Trump casinos and want their deposit back.

Amy Rosenberg goes undercover in the 4th Street Coffee War.

Swing flu hits the Coast Guard training facility in Cape May.

Here's some nice pictures of Cape May homes.

Liquor liscenses in West Cape May?

Lock up our bikes, people.

Flyers coach John Stevens is going to run the Sea Isle 10 miler on August 8. Bill plans to run the race. I do not, for two reasons: 1. I haven't run in two weeks due to the surgery and 2. I'm supposed to be taking a pickle making class in Philly. If timing allows, I'm going to try to be at the junction where the race moves from concrete promenade to sand (to pick up Bill's shoes) and then at the finish line.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009


How silly is that? I wrote up a piece about the Travelocity visit to Atlantic City for -- will post a link when it's live.

Now, an apology. I know the content hasn't been that great of late. A few things combined to bring that about: surgery, workload, and then, right when I was getting back in the swing of things, I got sick. I've watched about 17 episodes of Law & Order today while on the couch. Tack those on the the marathons I watched after surgery, and is it any wonder I'm jumpy?

I also was lucky enough to be offered a contract on a second book, which I really wanted to write, but the advance was so low that I had to turn it down (seriously -- I picked up an article assignment the next day that paid more. Book business is not booming right now). Roll that into everything else that's happened in the last three weeks, and you have one blah blogger.

But things are turning around. For the first time in 72 hours, I don't feel like I need to be in a 5 foot radius of a bathroom at all times (gross, I know, but true). My stitches come out tomorrow morning, and tomorrow afternoon, I'm filming a segment with 6ABC that will air at a later date. There's also rumblings about a late season shore video coming about, but that's still up in the air.

I've been itchy to get to the beach, too -- not just down the shore, but on the beach to sit in the sun and swim in the ocean. I've seen everyone else's shore pics, and they look so much more fun than lying on the couch, which I've been forced to do. I'll know tomorrow if I'm cleared for beach time (the surgery incision is healing nicely, but you never know), and I should be down the shore next weekend if not this weekend after covering a press conference close to home.

Point is: I'll be back to full speed soon. Thank you for your patience!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

The Gnome Roams... Atlantic City! Even though AC lost its battle to Las Vegas, the Travelocity Roaming Gnome is making a side trip to Atlantic City after his trip to Philly. I just spoke to the gnome's handlers (yes, he has handlers)...He'll be there tonight and tomorrow. Word is he'll take a few rides at the Steel Pier, boogie down at the Pool at Harrah's and then tomorrow try salt water taffy and meet some Atlantic City lifeguards.

Of course this is all up in the air. To follow along, check out the gnome's twitter page.

Yes, it's very silly, but what a smart marketing move, eh? I considered shooting down myself to meet the gnome, but duty calls closer to home.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

I know, I know. Today is usually "your shore weekend" day, but I'm still struggling to get back to regular form after surgery -- an experience that which has taught me there is no such thing as minor surgery. The biggie this weekend: Night in Venice in Ocean City. Expect crowds and parking hassles -- yes, even more so than usual. But it's fun. I wish I could go, but I have to work in Philly on Saturday.

I get the stitches taken out on Wednesday, so here's hoping I can get back into fighting form soon. And now, the news:

Beach replenishment is buzzing along in Strathmere.

Woman with Alzheimer's disappears after trip to Atlantic City.

Again with the dog hating in Cape May...don't have your dog on a leash? Get ticketed. While I agree with the need to keep dogs on leashes, ticketing visitors (who appear to be most victimized) is no way to make Cape May more tourist friendly. Come on, guys -- don't you want to keep people in town and filling town coffers with tourism dollars?

Farmer's market in Stone Harbor -- it's back!

Casino execs are getting pay cuts.

Some fun Sea Isle pics!

This is a nice story. My dad coached Greg Burke when he was in Little League.

It's Tropicana vs. Tropicana.

Do we need another reason? Fine. DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE.

Great piece by Dianna Marder about how St. Mary-by-the-Sea is loosening up its restrictions on who can visit.

And here's a great article related to marketing and the West Side Deli in Cape May.

I'm in LBI today working on a story and back home right after. If I didn't still have stitches in my shoulder, I probably would have made a beach trip, but I'm not allowed. Big bummer.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Blog

Hey hey, it's the blog's birthday! Two years ago today, I started blogging about the shore with a post on shore bowling and a post about Tortilla Flats in Avalon.

I started the blog as an outlet -- I was in the thick of writing my book, had no one to talk to about the travel writing process, and picked up information that wouldn't translate into book copy, bored, lonely and worried about my career, so the blog was born. Thanks to everyone who's followed along, and I look forward to entertaining you for another two least!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Could we be seeing a strike in Atlantic City soon? Maybe.

If you've been near the AC boardwalk recently, you've seen billboards and probably been handed a flyer about how workers at Bally's and Caesars are ticked. This week, their union authorized a strike.

Now, nothing's happened aside from a lot of bickering via the media. Honestly? I have no idea what's going to happen. I've been in an Extra Strength Tylenol (CVS generic version) and pain haze since surgery on Wednesday. A strike would be disastrous for both the town and the workers. Hopefully they can work something out.

Speaking of gambling, I'm looking for blackjack dealers to interview for an article. It has nothing to do with strikes -- I want their dating advice (weird, I know, but you'll see why it works). I'll be using first name only, so if that's you? Drop me a line at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Woah Those Wildwood Days

Time magazine named Wildwood as one of 50 Authentic American Experiences of 2009. That should be a nice tourism boost, eh?

Congrats, guys!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Identity Crisis

The always wonderful Miss Expatria brought this to my attention: this MSNBC article lists Cape May as a best beach and features a picture of an Ocean City lifeboat. FAIL. The two aren't interchangeable, folks.

As for the "Jen A. Miller" front: I'm doing OK. Surgery was more painful than I expected, and I'm trying to work a half day today. I'm not allowed to run for two weeks (two weeks?!) so I'll be taking my trashy romance novel to the gym today and doing an easy half hour on the stationary bike. Woo, yeah.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

UPDATE: Cancelled

So I took one look at my stitches today and determined one thing: party's cancelled.

As much as I can deter people from bumping into me, it could still happen and the last thing I want is to pop open those stitches. So we'll do it another weekend. Sorry, folks.

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Blog Break & Birthday

So I let slip on twitter yesterday that I had a little "procedure" done. It's not the kind of thing where they usher you in and out through the back door. I'm not really that famous ;-)

Actually, it was a pretty routine outpatient surgery to remove a cyst from my shoulder.

NOT A BIG DEAL. But I am very sore at the removal site and can't sit at my desk for long periods of time. It might sound like fun to have time off, but I spend most of the time flicking channels and staring at Emily, who is staring at me wondering why I'm so boring. Point is, the blog is on vacation until Monday.

BUT: My Birthday Brew Ha Ha is still on for Saturday -- details are here. I will probably be wearing a sling, not necessarily because of the pain (I hope the soreness has at least ebbed by then) but so people don't whack me on the shoulder to say hello. Consider it a preventative measure.

I probably should have timed this better. I'm not allowed on the beach for two weeks, which is when the stitches come out. I LOVE sitting on the beach on my birthday. I'll just have to figure out something else to do...maybe a little Harry Potter IMAX in AC?

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Pictures from the new library in Strathmere!

Here's a nice piece about Chicken Bone Beach in Atlantic City.

As Monica Yant Kinney pointed out, a guy gets four years in jail for stealing lobsters in Atlantic City, but Sen. Vince Fumo can be convicted of 137 counts of criminal activity, abuse his political power for person financial gain and only get 55 months? Sheesh.

Looks like we'll be getting some Sea Isle food updates from this blogger soon.

And this one would like some suggestions.

Welcome Canadians! Toronto will be connected to Atlantic City by air. Good, eh?

Whine, whine, whine.

Swine, swine, swine.

I don't get it. How can you put a curfew on a beach? IT'S A BEACH, people. Really, Ocean City?

Hey, welcome to the Jersey Shore! I'd drive 10 hours from South Carolina to the shore...but I'm biased ;-)

Careful, shore bikers!

Here's some fun Strathmere vacation pictures.

Once again puzzled by Craig LaBan's food pics. Well, to each his own I guess.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Swing and a WIFF

Like wiffleball? Then you might want to sign up for the Sea Isle City Wiffle Ball Classic, which this year takes place on August 15. Teams of three to five players must register by August 1. It's a fundraiser, of course -- proceeds go to Autism Speaks.

I'm a horrible Wiffle ball player -- almost as bad with that yellow bat as I am with a Frisbee. Emily likes to chew Wiffle balls, though. Doesn't make her a good player, but she seems to appreciate the sport.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Shore Weekend

See those shoes? Cute, right? They are, but they are also blister makers. After walking all over Asbury Park on Friday night, my feet were so wrecked that I couldn't do the Belmar 5 on Saturday (and it was not because I had been drinking -- I was the DD on Friday and fit as a fiddle Saturday morning, except for the feet).

Pinchy shoes aside, Bill and I had a great time in what we consider the northern shores this weekend. Plus, we were celebrating. I met Bill right before his birthday. But his birthday isn't just one day -- it's celebrated over a week. Since my birthday is on July 19, we started celebrating my birthday on Friday night in Asbury Park.

Bill had never been to Long Branch, Asbury Park or Ocean Grove before. After he wound he way around shore traffic on Friday, we headed to right to Asbury. Bill brought his camera, so the pictures of AP are his (the one that lead off this post was taken at the photo booth in Asbury's arcade).

I had my heart set on dinner at Langosta Lounge, but that would have carried an hour and a half wait (an hour and a half!) I know, I know, I should have made a reservation. But the alternative was wonderful. We had tapas on the deck at the Watermark where we could sit outside and watch the boardwalk go by. We also watched as pirates stormed the bar.

It was a themed bar crawl birthday party. The gentleman in the above picture was celebrating his 27th. A big group, too, from Ocean Grove.

After our first course at Watermark, we headed to downtown Asbury for entrees at the Brickwall tavern. Big thumbs up to the mac and cheese (and no wait but a kick ass band playing).

Then we walked down Cookman Ave. to the Silverball Museum. I don't tend to exaggerate, but this is quite possibly the coolest thing I have seen on my shore travels.

It's a working museum. Pay $10, and for an hour, you have free play of pinball machines from the 1930s through 1980s. Bill and I walked around with our jaws open, like kids in a candy store. We both grew up playing pinball down the shore (me in Ocean City and he in Wildwood), and what a great way to re-live that past, and play what was the best of the best from the past. It was so worth $10, and even getting a little turned around in finding it (the museum is housed in the basement of a clothing store).

We had the whole place almost to ourselves, and I quickly learned that Bill is a much better pinball player than I am (he won six games, and I won one). It didn't feel like it mattered if you won or lost, though, because of that one $10 fee for an hour of play. Such a cool place. Such a cool idea.

After pinball, it was off to show Bill some of the places I liked from my last trip to Asbury Park. First, it was to the Annex for some sangria. Given my DD roll, I only had a few sips of Bill's drink, but it was enough to know that I like both the white and red sangria they serve.

We wrapped up the night at Asbury Lanes:

The tater tots? Out of this world.

Aside from the blistered feet that left me limping on the walk between Cookman Ave. and the boardwalk, we had a blast. I'm glad Bill liked it since I had talked up the town.

A few more notes from the weekend:

1. We stayed at Ocean Place in Long Branch. Great spot:

Nice views, nice service, great location. I realized after I booked the hotel that my dad and step mom stay there every year. The brunch buffet is fantastic. If you go, make sure to pick up what looks like orange juice with a raspberry in it -- it's actually a mango/yogurt/smoothie thing that was the perfect cap to my meal.

2. The beach in Ocean Grove is lovely. I spent Friday afternoon on that beach, and would do it again if I was in the area. Great beach day, too. Rough surf.

3. Thank you, Atlantic Books in Long Branch, for carrying my book:

4. I had dinner on Thursday night with Caren Cheser, a fantastic Jersey freelancer. We met up at Rooney's. Can we say yum?

That artichoke heart was out of this world.

5. On Friday, I had brunch with ANOTHER fabulous Jersey freelancer, Gwen Moran. She showed me Sunset Landing in Asbury, which was a great spot for a shady, quiet outdoor meal.

6. What genius scheduled road construction in Long Branch on a Saturday during the summer?

Aside from the blisters and the traffic snarl on Saturday, it was a great weekend. It's also a lot different than what I usually cover down at the South Jersey Shore. Sure, these are beach communities, but they seem to be more year round spots than barrier islands like Sea Isle and Avalon. It changes the dynamic. I've seen restaurants in Asbury busy in the off season and could easily see a place like Brickwall working where I live. It's by the shore, sure, but it's not tied to it.

I'll be heading back down to Sea Isle on Friday for my Saturday birthday brew ha ha. I've given it a vague sports theme since Bill insists that basketball jerseys are THE thing to wear to the OD. Anyone know why? I'm curious.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Be Right Back

Hello from Long Branch! Just a quick post to say that there won't be a "Your Shore Weekend" today -- I just ran out of time to put it together (those things are labor intensive!)

But check this out.

These are the Queen of Hearts, a very cool lady band I caught at McLoone's Pier House last night. They're playing at Tim McLoone's Supper Club in Asbury Park tonight if you're in the area! I shot a video of the ladies rocking it, but my internet connection's a bit slow and it didn't upload. Will try again when I'm home!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

A fellow NJ Monthly blogger shares her favorites from Cape May.

Fourth of July crowds helped make up for a crummy June.

A good sign: casinos added jobs this summer.

Yikes, shenanigans outside of Shenanigans in Sea Isle. What is happening in SIC this summer? Lots of odd stuff going on.

The Philadelphia Inquirer food critic writes about new shore restaurants. I agree with him about the Virginia (and thanks for giving Dixie Picnic a shout out), but I disagree with what he wrote about Blackfish in Stone Harbor. I didn't like it at all. As I wrote in the New York Times: "This spring, the seafood restaurant and bar Blackfish opened in what used to be Henny’s Cafe, a 78-year-old bar and restaurant that closed in 2008. But its raw and stripped-down space, which belies the glamorous image it tries to project, is only a temporary situation." I was underwhelmed.

Pictures from the always-interesting Strathmere Fourth of July parade, where they say what they really feel about Upper Township.

Nice to see someone else notices that Atlantic City has other things to offer than gambling.

More griping about dogs in Lower Township where Bill Connors says what he really thinks about dog owners. From the story: “'So-called dog lovers could care less about our feelings or health concerns and they totally disregard the law and run wild on the beach,'” he said. “'If you say anything to these people, you risk an argument or a confrontation with them.'” Two things to point out as I get on my soap box: One, most of us leash our dogs. Yes, some dog owners are irresponsible, but what about parents who let their kids feed seagulls, kick sand in our faces, or shake out their beach towels over everyone else? Two, dog owners are not some gang prowling the beaches with a pack of wolves looking to pick a fight. Yes, you are a taxpayer, but we pay taxes too, on hotels and food and souvenirs and fill the town's coffers. I guarantee if dogs are banned from those beaches, fewer people will come to Cape May on vacation. When I planned that fall vacation, bringing the dog with me was a must. If Emily was banned from the beach? Why bother? This "no dog" argument is another incarnation of "shoobie go home." That's got to stop. With shore towns scrapping for every possible tourism dollar, this kind of stuff will hurt Cape May. Every other beach in Cape May bans dogs in the summer. Leave us with these slivers of sand.

ANYWAY: I'm off to Long Branch today for work, and I'll be there until Saturday morning when me and Bill run the Belmar 5. Of COURSE after all this glorious weather, Saturday is going to be hot and sticky. I don't expect a spectacular time since I've been cross training instead of straight running, and I hate running in the heat. So we'll see!

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Board Games

It's no secret that tourism offices go into overdrive to get as many people to their designated area for the summer. Usually this leads to ad campaigns in other districts. Ocean City, Maryland, for example, runs ads here. Cape May runs ads down there.

But the battle of the billboards has taken an ugly turn for Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Atlantic City casinos. Here's a billboard that the Trump properties put up in Pennsylvania:

And here's one of a series of billboards Connecticut casinos are putting up on the northeast corridor:

Other slogans include: "Way beyond the boredwalk" and "Escape the Jersey snore."

Well now.

The Trump billboard doesn't bother me that much. It points out the difference, which should be obvious to anyone who has visited both casinos. It points out its advantages rather than making fun of its competitor. But the Connecticut ones? That's just catty, and is it really fair to slap at the whole region when what they're really focusing on are casinos? Why not promote what you do have instead of tearing down another region? It's not a boredwalk. It's a BOARDWALK with a capital B. And the only snoring going on down the shore is if you're catching a beach cat nap to the tune of cool ocean breezes.

The billboard that got it right?

This is a Philadelphia tourism billboard up in Wildwood. It's cheeky. It's fun. It's not going to make people pack up early and zip to Philadelphia, but it's a takeaway for when you get back home that Philly might be worth visiting. It doesn't tick off visitors who love the Jersey shore.

What do you think?

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Who Kicked the Dogs Out?

Last September, I took a vacation in Cape May and brought my dog, Emily, along. We spent our days at Higbee Beach, right along the Delaware, and Emily spent her days figuring out how to swim and chasing birds. We saw a lot of dogs on the beach -- always leashed, cleaned up after.

That might no longer be the case as some residents are making a stink about the dogs and demanding they be barred from the beach. Read their complaints here.

Cape May has long been the most dog friendly South Jersey shore spot. Not only is there an inn made for you and your dog, but just about every restaurant with outdoor seating allows you to bring your dog, and there's even a dog park. The bay beaches were always known to dog lovers as the place they could play with their pets.

Kicking dogs off those beaches would change that. I don't know if I would have picked Cape May for my vacation last year if I couldn't bring my dog. That was one of the reasons I picked it -- and what would I have done with Emily if she couldn't be on the beach? Lock her up all day?

No measures have been taken so far. Hopefully those residents will get the sand out of their pants and let the issue lie.

If you do take your dog to the bay beaches, make sure that the dog is leashed and you bring plenty of poop bags (the town provides them on the beach, too). Let's make sure that our dogs have at least one spot to play on the beach.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Birthday Bonanza

My birthday is July 19. It is my last birthday in my 20s, so I have decided to celebrate in appropriate fashion: On July 18, I will be attending the No Shower Happy Hour at the Ocean Drive in Sea Isle City.

If you've never been, here's the skinny: at 4pm, the OD opens its doors and offers $1 bottles from 4-6pm, $2 bottles from 6-8pm and $2 Kool-ade all day, all set to Go Go Gadget, a cover band that does a pretty good Lady GaGa cover. Since the OD doesn't have many windows, it looks like 1am in there by about 6. It's the kind of thing 21 year olds find extremely exciting. If you've ever walked by the main drag in Sea Isle around 8pm on a Saturday, you'll see patrons from this beer special invading Wawa and trapeezing down the sidewalk.

It's like wanting to watch a bad movie. You know it's going to be cheesy, which is why you go.

So if you're in the area and want to come, I'll be there. We've got a group of about six right now. My tip: wear closed-toe shoes you don't mind getting dirty. The floor is quickly coated in a grimy mix of spilled beer and dirt. Also, casual wear is best. I'll be in old gray shorts, a navy blue "Bellmawr Baseball" t-shirt and old running shoes. Will you see girls decked out to the nines? Sure. But considering how crowded and dirty it gets in there? The old running shoes are more appropriate.

I will probably have a very tasteful and appropriate celebration for my 30th birthday next year. But until then? Why not go for something silly?

Fun fact: Matt McCulley, who runs the Sea Isle Tri for our Veterans, met his wife while working at the OD.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Get this Gnome to Atlantic City

Travelocity is running a contest of sorts between Las Vegas and Atlantic City. They're asking readers to pick where their gnome will visit next.

If y'all help get him to Atlantic City, I promise that I will do my best to track him down and interview him -- on camera. So go vote!

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Rusty Reno

Back from the beach! Well, I've been back since Saturday morning, but what a glorious weekend it was. I finally got some serious beach time in: Thursday in North Wildwood and Thursday night in a barefoot beach run in Sea Isle (yeouch on the calves), and then Friday in Sea Isle. Each day was packed, busy and beautiful.

One highlight of the weekend was checking out the new Rusty Nail in Cape May. It's the renovation of a classic lifeguard hangout -- it's change for the old bar, but the chill and relaxed vibe is in tact. You can sit outside under the stars by a bonfire, or inside to listen to music. Best part? Beer served in frosted mugs (so says Bill and my brother since I was the designed driver). It opened on Wednesday and was busy yet not overcrowded on Friday -- much different scene from the mess that was the Whitebrier in Avalon earlier in the day. Yikes.

We had also stopped at the renovated Windrift in Avalon before heading down to Cape May. I'm not feeling the changes. It's like when you knock down a quaint shore cottage and build a bland vinyl-wrapped building in its place. It loses character, whether they're now serving sushi or not. Best bet? Head upstairs to the deck. It's still the same. Why did the Rusty Nail renovation work better? Because it didn't try to change the bar. It was an upgrade, not an attempt to make it something it's not.

On another note: I drove home very early on Saturday morning. I was the DD on Friday night because I knew I'd be leaving at about 6am Saturday. I saw not one but two arrests on the Atlantic City Expressway on the way home. Remember, kids: just because it's morning doesn't mean you're sober.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Your Shore Weekend: Boom Boom Pow Edition

I got the Victoria's Secret fall catalogue today. WHAT?! July 1 and apparently I'm supposed to be thinking about fall? Nuts to that -- here's your Fourth of July weekend shore report:

Traffic. Lots and lots of traffic...and a FREE concert at Chicken Bone Beach in Atlantic City.

Plus movie under the stars in Sea Isle.

Il Divo is divoing at the Borgata.

And the Doobie Brothers are, um, doobieing at the Tropicana.

Wallflowers! Also at the Borgata.

Boom boom pow! We've got fireworks in Atlantic City, Sea Isle, Wildwood and Cape May. FREE

Other than fireworks...Joe Cocker is playing the Atlantic City Hilton.

There's a beard growing competition wrapping up in Cape May.

The House of Blues at the Showboat at in AC is having a free Michael Jackson Tribute Concert show at 10:30pm.

Ocean City's having two bike parades. And there's one in Cape May, too.

Lots of stuff going on in Stone Harbor, too.

Cape May Stage will feature Go North Penguin, an extra special show for families by puppeteer Scott Hitz & Company in the spirit of Jim Henson.

And, of course, there's the beach -- the beautiful, glorious beach. Weather reports are calling for a stand out weekend -- warm and sunny with low humidity.

I'm heading down on Thursday morning to Wildwood for work, then will be in Sea Isle until Saturday morning when home. WHA?! you might ask? Why leave on what could be the nicest shore weekend of 2009 so far?

One word, folks: family. It's the big Verzella family shin dig on July 4 where we eat, drink, swim and light little pellets we call "snakes" on fire (not actual snakes), then watch fireworks and drink some more. It's not the shore, but for me? That's a nice way to spend the weekend.

So enjoy the July 4 weekend! And if you see a sort of tall women with shoulder length blond hair watching the scene at The OD in Sea Isle, stop by and say hello. It might just be me ;-)

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