Friday, July 29, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 84: The Food Network Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival is this weekend

FOODIES! Get your butts to Atlantic City for the Food Network Food & Wine Festival, which started yesterday. Don't worry that you're late on this. You can still grab tickets to hang out with celebrity chefs and drink and eat to your heart's content.

Believe it or not, I've never been to the event. There's always been something the weekend of the event (this year, it's a memorial service and a christening). I mean, how could I deny this little guy?

Ryan, on the left, is the one being Christened. Drew, on the right, will be in attendance with his parents who are coming up from Baltimore. Who are these adorable creatures? My nephews - and Phillies fans - of course.

I'll be back down the shore next weekend. I was going to hop into the Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island Run in Sea Isle but I think we're going to be a little silly and do the No Shower Happy Hour at the Ocean Drive. Why not?

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 83: You CAN suffer from the heat down the shore

I was down the shore for part of that monster heat wave. Yes, some days it was cooler because of wind blowing off the 60-degree water. But when that breeze turned and passed over the land instead, the only cool place was to actually be in the ocean. It was the only place you could escape the greenhead flies, too (partially - I stood in the water and read my book but one of them STILL got me on the back).

Looks like we're getting another heat wave shortly, so please be careful if you're down the shore. Hydrate more than you usually do, and be careful if you plan to run or bike while you're there. My suggestion for runners: jump into the ocean after. It's no longer 60 degrees, but it's a wonderful cool down.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

High Roller at the Tropicana

The second part of my birthday treat last week was a stayover at the Tropicana. I was lucky enough to be booked into one of the brand new Cielo Suites - so new that the tag was still on the ironing board.

Pretty swanky. Our room had a living room, two bathrooms, and two separate rooms with king sized beds. TV in the bathroom, huge walk in shower in one. I was heavenly.

The suites also have a 24 hour concierge service and butler service. I have to say: it was pretty cool to call my parents and tell them I was staying in a high roller suite.

Tropicana added 26 of these suites, and they're part of the recent $5 million in improvements to the property.

This is a step in the right direction. Most people who have told me they've stayed at the Trop did so because they were there on a bachelor/bachelorette party and tried to cram 8 people in the cheapest room the Trop offer. That has lead to a not great reputation (and the place did go bankrupt, so there were obviously problems).

But if they keep moving in the "Cielo" direction, I think the Trop has a good chance of wiping that away. It was packed for the entire time we were there - and we stopped in a few times on nights we weren't staying there, too.

Dinner was at the Knife & Fork, which I love more than I could possibly say. You've got to read the history if you haven't.

Old Atlantic City and new. Perfect way to spend my getting older day.

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Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 82: Avalon was once covered in juniper trees

That is a branch with berries from a juniper tree. These kinds of trees used to cover the island that is now known as Avalon.

I learned this while having diner at the Diving Horse last week - my favorite meal of the six fancy dinners I enjoyed while on vacation. The dude took notes and will be posting reviews on the blog in the near future. Until then, though, I wanted to share that juniper tidbit.

The reason I learned this is because we were served a dish that involved juniper. I don't have the dude's notes, or I would share. Until then, how about a picture from dinner?

This is their tomato and watermelon salad, served with feta, avocado, mint and cured olives. And that was just the start...

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vintage Atlantic City

Need an afternoon break? Ok. Take a look at these bathing beauties, photographed in Atlantic City in the late '40s or 'early 50s. Back then, you could go on the dunes.

Looks like they're having so much fun. I would have been, too!

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Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 81: Lights on the GSP for one more year

Looks like we'll still be stopping at lights on the Garden State Parkway. The project that was to remove them in Cape May County has been pushed back to 2012.

According to the Press of AC, the issue isn't funding but a "wetlands mitigation plan."

Always thought it was funny that there were lights there, but I don't know if anyone anticipated how traffic heavy that end of the GSP would become.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Day-Cations at the Chelsea

Tuesday was my birthday (hooray! I'm older!) As such, the dude and I planned to sit on the beach all day, then have a fancy dinner at night.

In between, we tried out a Day-cation Package at the Chelsea in Atlantic City. As many times so I've stayed here, I never hit the spa.

The Day-Cation lets you experience the Sea Spa at the Chelsea even if you're not staying overnight. For $99, you get a $100 Sea Spa credit, $30 Teplitzkys dining credit, complimentary use of Chelsea pools and solarium, complimentary use of beach chairs/umbrellas (in season), and complimentary valet parking for one car.

I started with with a Blond Ambition classic massage, which ended up also being part medical treatment. The masseuse could tell based on the way that my muscles were twitching that I carry my stress in my shoulders, and that I'm low on potassium and should eat more bananas. She was also the first person to tell me how to breath through pain in a massage (I ask for hard massage because I know it'll release knots - this is not necessary on your experience, of course). My masseuse was Laura, and the dude's was Donna. They are both recommended.

Then the dude and I took full advantage of the rest of what the Day-Cation offers: he used the sauna, and we both hung out in the salt water jacuzzi. We sat outside at the non-jacuzzi salt water pool to have a drink and a snack (the pretzels are amazing, and they have pretty good happy hour drink deals) before relaxing back in the solarium until the spa closed. I have never felt so relaxed.

I didn't take my camera into the spa, so here are the fancy photo they provided (credit ©2009 Don Pearse Photographers, Inc.):

Fine print time: Deal is good Monday through Fridays, 9am to 5pm. Does not include room, taxes, gratuities and alcohol. Want one? Call 609-428-4554.

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Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 80: Wildwood is considering beach tags

This came out while I was away: Wildwood is considering beach tags.

Forget the Ocean City BYOB issue. This has much more important implications. The beaches of the Wildwoods are free free free, and they tout themselves as being the beach that won't charge. Do they get a lot of day trippers because of this? Yes. But those day trippers are also tourists, who spend money in town. If Wildwood starts charging for beach tags, these visitors will just go to Atlantic City, which also has a free beach. And they'll take all that money with them. Besides the day trippers, this will carve into the budget of people who come to the Wildwoods. Will they accept it? Or reason that, since the Wildwoods are charging, they might as well just go to an Ocean City or an Avalon.

If you see any articles about this, you'll notice the venom in the comments about keeping the riff raff off the beaches. These carry racial undertones - if not blatant bigoted comments. I'm not linking to those stories because I think those comments are disgusting.

If the Wildwoods really need revenue, they could do the one thing that makes absolute sense: merge. Why do there need to be four separate towns on that one island? If they merged into one, they'd save a boat load by sharing services, and would ease taxpayer burden. But this is New Jersey, where apparently that's taboo. But it could work.

Something's going to break here. I hate for it to be one of the reasons the Wildwoods beaches are so popular.

The press release in its entirety is below. Let me know what you think in the comments - but I will reject and mark as spam anything that hints at racism. Please also note that this is from the mayor of just Wildwood, not all four towns:

Mayor Ernie Troiano, Jr. stated that there has been recent publicity advising Wildwood not to enact beach fees. He commented that Wildwood has for decades been a very inclusive town with blue collar roots. “We welcome people from all over the world to enjoy the beach, boardwalk and entertainment at our vacation destination. However, our first responsibility must be to our Wildwood residents and taxpayers, many of whom do not benefit from the huge influx of beachgoers in summer.”

“Tourism is the lifeblood of our economy and Wildwood maintains a world class beach and boardwalk, sponsors events, encourages business development and promotes family fun and relaxation,” commented Commissioner Pete Byron. “The burden on the Wildwood taxpayer has been tremendous and we recently inherited an extremely difficult financial situation. The previous administration left us with more than $1 million in unpaid bills from 2010 and hundreds of thousands of dollars in contractual obligations that were not allotted for in the budget. Even if the irresponsible plan to slash police officers were enacted, we would still be facing a budget deficit. We have an obligation to the taxpayers to explore every possible revenue source.”

The Board of Commissioners agrees that Wildwood’s free beaches have an appeal, but they are not free to retirees on fixed incomes and young families struggling to make ends meet. All Wildwood taxpayers have been, in effect, paying beach fees for a very long time. Wildwood is a small, one square mile town that hosts literally millions of people every summer. Consequently, our taxpayers support an urban infrastructure with expanded public works, public safety and emergency personnel, all far beyond what our small ratable base can reasonably sustain.

The issue of beach fees must be carefully researched, with all effects considered before a decision is made. Wildwood would, for example, lose some local room tax revenue that is linked to maintaining free beaches and we must be certain that beach fee revenue would outweigh any lost income. We would only advocate a very reasonable beach fee, lower than nearby communities, so that we remain accessible to hard working families.

We would rather see an imposed moderate fee on boardwalk amusement rides, allowed by state law, but needing local legislative support for enactment in Trenton. An amusement ride fee would give some relief to the taxpayer, while allowing us to improve the boardwalk with funds generated by its users.

Wildwood will continue to open its arms to visitors. Our challenge is to provide first class amenities and services without unfairly and disproportionately encumbering taxpayers. Commissioner of Public Safety, Anthony Leonetti said “By generating beach fee revenue, we can further improve our beaches, boardwalks, streets and parks and possibly add amenities. We know who we are as a resort community and we know we need to promote tourism for our economic vitality. It’s also equally important that our local residents are not taxed out of their homes.”

The Board of Commissioners knows they have an obligation to the taxpayers to explore every possible revenue source.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm Back!

Yes, I'm back. Tanned, relaxed and with a few more greenhead bites that I'd anticipated (winds were BAD the last two days I was down the shore).

I'll have plenty of posts coming up about my week. Until then, check out two articles that I wrote for the Summer issue of Edible Jersey magazine.

The first is about the food scene in Atlantic City.

The second is about Jersey Shore foods.

Enjoy! Now to get the sand out of all my clothes...

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 79: There's a Jersey Shore, PA

Weird but true - and thank you to Ben Garvey for reminding me of this: There's a Jersey Shore, PA. It's part of Williamsport, PA, which is actually near one of my client's project sites. Never knew they were so close.

Ever been? I'm curious as to what it's like.

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 78: Head to the Attic for Deals

One of my favorite "wandering" shops down the shore is Mimi's and Suncatchers in Stone Harbor. I STILL get lost winding through the block-sized store. The clothes are definitely high end. Lots of Nicole Miller and the like.

If you're a bargain hunter like me, make sure you head to the Attic, which is next door. It's items that didn't quite sell in the big store next door, and everything's marked down. The level of how down depends on when you go. By Labor Day weekend, everything is usually maximum $20. I bought a Nicole Miller floor length dress that way. Saved it for the next summer.

P.S. Mimis/Suncatchers is also one of the places that built a great website between when I wrote the first book and now. Thank you thank you thank you!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 77: Martini Beach and Cabanas are Run by the Same Person

If you're going to Cape May and want to hit a restaurant with ocean views, you will probably see both Martini Beach and Cabanas. One is stacked on top of the other.

They're actually owned by the same owner, which I didn't know until I started working on this piece.

I like both places, for different reasons. I got roped into a really long night at Cabanas on a Tuesday because I started talking to a bunch of locals at the bar. I ended up giving relationship advice to a 21 year old whose 19 year old girlfriend was at home. Then someone did a body shot. It was weird - but fun! Martini Beach has a fantastic bar, and as being on the second floor, amazing views.

So if you are to pick between the two: more casual, stay downstairs. Slightly fancier, go up. And beware of locals who keep you out waaaaaay past your bedtime ;-)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 76: Boardwalk is your Best Running Surface

In the book, I have a two-page yarn about running down the shore. Yesterday started my marathon training (yes, I hate running in the summer, no don't get me started on how I got roped into this). The shore is a good place to go because boardwalks are some of the best running surfaces around.

The reason? There's give. You're not running on hard packed street or concrete. You're running on wood that gives.

The only wrench in the boardwalk running plan is when to go. Mornings aren't great because of all the bikes and surreys (which, yes, I've written about before). Mid-day is too hot, and night bring the evening crowds. So either get out super duper early or take your chances at night (and please, if you do, run with someone else).

Also of note: Sea Isle's boardwalk does not have boards. If you run on this at night, watch for the crabs that scurry across. They look silly.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 75: Boardwalk Hall was an Architectural Marvel of its Time

Hey there! I'm on vacation, so I pre-wrote the fact of the day posts for the week. So if there's some breaking Jersey Shore news that I'm not covering on here, it's probably because I'm in a beach chair somewhere blissed out.

Today's fact of the day comes from Atlantic City. Did you know that Boardwalk Hall was, at the time it was built, the largest auditorium in the world to be built without post or pillars? It's true! It opened in 1929 as a marvel of modern architecture.

It has a long and storied history. My favorite fact: it's the only place the Beatles ever played in Atlantic City. They escaped the crowds by leaving the building in a laundry truck.

P.S. Hey, I write about running! This is from the August issue of Runner's World.

P.S.s. Today's my birthday. I'm a Cancer, so I feel the need to point that out.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011



I tried to make this an entirely non-working vacation, but a big shore assignment for 2012 rolled in on Thursday (photographs need to be taken this summer, hence the year lead time), so I'll be doing a smidge of work. Just a smidge. Other than that, NOTHING!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 74: You CAN watch World Cup down the shore

Sunday is the women's World Cup Final: USA vs. Japan. I don't care how nice a beach day it's going to be, but I will be glued to the TV watching this match.

Here's where you can go to watch the game while you're down the shore:

Atlantic City: Game On. It's OK if you roll your eyes. This place is big and crowded and packed for big sporting events, but that is exactly where I want to be for a game like this (and where I will be, in fact. More on that later). You can't get more TVs in one spot down the shore.

Sea Isle: O'Donnell's Pour House. Good beer selection, big TVs, right near the heart of Sea Isle.

Avalon: I have two. First, the Princeton. Second, the Concord Cafe. The Princeton will have plenty of space, whether you want to sit or stand. I prefer the cozy feel of the Concord - but only if I have a seat.

Wildwood: The Shamrock. Space to stand, sit, play pool, whatever you want around the oval bar with plenty of TVs to watch the game.

Cape May: Cabanas or the Ugly Mug. Both have plenty of TVs and good bars with decent beer selections. I assume both will be packed.

I will be at Game On with the dude, who is very VERY conflicted about who he should cheer for. He's Japanese-American, and I understand his dilemma. He'll be wearing his team Japan jersey. I sorta tried to find a U.S. Women's jersey but no luck, so I'll probably just be sporting red white and blue.

Sunday is the first day of my shore vacation - HOORAY! It'll be split between Atlantic City and Avalon this year with a dash of Cape May thrown in. I. CAN'T. WAIT. I've pre-written next week's facts of the day, so hope you enjoy them while I'm doing absolutely nothing.

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 73: You can take a ferry to Cape May

If you're coming to the shore from the South, or looking to make a quick trip to Delaware, the Cape May-Lewes Ferry is a travel option.

The ferry runs often between Cape May and Delaware, and, yes, you can bring your car aboard. My sister and her husband took this ferry last year when coming up from that OTHER Ocean City to spend a few days in Sea Isle. They were pretty happy with it overall. If you don't want to bring your car, they do have shuttle buses that run between the ferry and some Delaware spots.

If you're taking your car, make sure you reserve your spot in advance, and pay special attention to when they recommend you get there in relation to the time of your ride.

Happy sailing!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Functional Bathing Suits - Found!

Thank you to everyone who made suggestions (mostly on Facebook and Twitter!) about where to find functional bathing suits. I admit I was a bit wary when a lot of you suggested Lands End. Lands End to me signals dog beds, sensible pants, and Sears.

Glad to find out I was wrong.

First up: this bikini top but with this bikini bottom. (And I'm sorry I'm not posting pictures here. Lands End won't allow you to do that - BOO!)

No strings! It has a bit of a retro feel, too, given the shape of the bottoms. Very comfy, flattering and won't be falling off in the ocean and/or lake anytime soon. Given the prices (under $40 for the whole thing!) I might order another set in time for my August trip that involves the aforementioned lake.

The second one is this one piece. I mentioned in the previous post that there will be a swim competition on one of my trips - a trip that will involve the dude's family including 12 year old boys - so this is an option for that. Its quite comfortable. Not the sexiest thing around, but that's not the point. Love the coloring. Very pretty. Also under $40.

This is what I pulled from a very limited selection of what's left at the Sears in the Moorestown Mall. I also ended up buying what's labeled as a beach coverup skirt, but seems more like a regular skirt to me - it's not online, though. I'm eyeing up this one online , but I might take the risk and wait until I'm back from vacation.

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Jersey Shore Fact of the day 72: Cheap Bikes in Sea Isle on July 19

Looking for a cheap bike? Head to Sea Isle on Tuesday, July 19. They'll be auctioning off abandoned or unclaimed bikes.

The auction will be held at the Public Safety Building (233 JFK Boulevard). You must register between 9 and 10:30 am, and bring photo ID.

I've been to one of these types of sales, but in Collingswood. You can get some fantastic deals, depending on what others have left behind.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 71: $40 for Harry Potter in Atlantic City

I'm going on vacation next week (HOOOOOORRRRRAAAAAAYYYYY!), and I'm splitting time between Atlantic City and Avalon that week. Since I'm a big nerd, I wanted to see the new Harry Potter at the Tropicana's IMAX on Monday night.

The price tag: $40 for two people.

Um. Yikes?

I knew something was off when I had to look for tickets on Ticketmaster. I expected to pay a little more than I would to see it in a regular theater, but $40? How does anyone take their entire family to see a movie here?

Ugh. Annoying. Oh well. I'll see it when I get home.

In the meantime: ladies, this is Neville Longbottom all grown up. You're welcome.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

On the Hunt: Functional Bathing Suits

I need a functional bathing suit. Not one that works for sitting in a beach chair, or by a pool, but one that could be used for actual swimming and would not be inappropriate to wear with a group that includes teenage boys.

As it stands, I have this bathing suit in four colors:

Cute. Fun. I've gone with this style for the last five years (and OBVIOUSLY I do not look like this in them - I like beer, cheese and more than 1000 calories a day, thank you very much). But this is not good for, say, body boarding or a swim challenge. I believe I accidentally flashed beach patrons in Strathmere two weekends ago when I tried to jump over a large wave. For that I sincerely apologize.

Maybe if I looked like that, I wouldn't mind hunting for a new, functional bathing suit. But I do not. I liked my friend Joy's suggestion to go with an empty stomach except a glass of wine, but since I'm driving, that's out.

Here's the type of stuff I'm looking for:

Simple, functional, still a bikini, not outrageously priced - at least not on If I don't find anything else, this'll be my choice. I considered buying it in red, but I'm not a lifeguard and, for the safety of all, should not be mistaken for one.

I like this one, too, especially for the swimming challenge portion of why I need this bathing suit. I'm going to through a bit of a Xanadu phase, too - at least when it comes to music I'm listening to in my office - and the crazy colors seem to fit that. Also, not outrageously priced, and doesn't look like a swim team uniform.

This one was suggested to me by @gretchtables:

But Holy Tan Lines, Batman. I have crazy strips as is on my back from my running sports bra. How'd this work out? (and, yes, I wear SPF 30, and I re-apply, but I still get tan. Been that way since I was a kid. Baffles my mother still).

Normally, I'd look at Athleta, but they're not on my Do Not Buy list. They have a very backwards return policy that involves touting FREE FREE FREE! shipping and exchanges, but charging you if you want to return something. What a gyp. Never again.

So tonight I'll venture out into the strip mall lands of Cherry Hill, NJ and see what I can find. I'm leaning toward something along the lines of the first option, but if I could find that on a deep discount rack since stores already have winter coats out? Gold.

I'd also take any of these, except for the fuzzy one. That doesn't look too functional.

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Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 70: Smaller Casinos are Coming. Maybe

Word came out over the weekend that three different groups are looking to use this to build smaller casinos in Atlantic City: Hard Rock Cafe, a group associated with a local businessman, and Pinnacle Entertainment.

Yes, Pinnacle is still around. Remember when the Sands was imploded in 2007? The video's above to refresh your memory. It was imploded to make way for a new, grand casino to be built by Pinnacle, which resulted in...nothing. Zip, zilch, zero. Well, we did get one thing: Pinnacle billboards EVERYWHERE, long after most people figured what Pinnacle eventually admitted: that their casino was on permanent hold.

Looks like they're trying to get back in by building a smaller property. They do still own the real estate. Will they actually follow through? We'll see.

Weird place, Atlantic City.

And just because:

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 69: The Angel by the Sea was Once One House

Best Cape May B&B story ever: In 1850, Philadelphia chemist William Weightman Sr. had a house built in Cape May. When the house was complete, he decided it was too far from the beach, so he hired farmers to move the house over the winter.

Their idea was to cut the house in two and move the house in halves. Then, when they were in the new beach spot, they'd push the two halves together.

Oops. The halves were too heavy.

So they built walls on the open sides of each building, and Weightman had two houses.

Those two houses today are the Angel by the Sea. Check it out even if you're not staying there.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Trio of favors

Alright, kids, I'm going to ask you a few favors. Nothing big, but they could be fun!

1. If you bought the book and love love love it, would you consider reviewing it on amazon? Here's the link. Hey, even if you didn't love love love it, I'll take your opinion!

2. Take a picture of your book, wherever you take it, and email it to me at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com. I'll run it on the blog. A few of you have done this informally (usually posting a picture through twitter), but I'd like to post them here too!

3. Take a picture of your shore hoodie. This started as a twitter conversation last night: hoodies are an essential piece of Jersey Shore fashion. So send me a picture of your hoodie with the story as to how it became this crucial piece of wardrobe. If I get enough, I'll run them too.

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Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 68: Wildwood has a Boardwalk Chapel

It's so small you could miss it, but it's there: a chapel right on the Wildwood boardwalk.

In 1945, Reverend Leslie Dunn opened this boardwalk chapel. Today, different churches from the Orthodox Presbyterian Churches of New Jersey take turns running the chapel, with services at 8pm Monday through Saturday and 7 on Sunday (in season only).

Short one today, but stop by again this afternoon where I'm asking YOU for a favor or two!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 67: Lucy's Hurt. Again :-(

Poor Lucy! On Sunday morning, she got walloped by lightening during that big, bad storm that rolled through the area. The Press of AC reported on the damage - all the electrical systems are out, which means no AC and processing all transactions by hand.

But the good news is that after the LAST lightening strike, they'd installed lightening rods, and it seems to have prevented more damage than she'd have suffered otherwise.

Poor girl. Well, I know where the $315 I just mailed to her will go - that's how much was raised at my book launch party. So thank you to everyone who came out and chipped in to get Lucy back on track!

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 66: Tina Fey was in Cape May

Yup, it's true: Tina Fey was in Cape May last week on vacation.

This was sort of an open secret. She wasn't hiding. My phone blew up the night she had dinner for about a dozen people at the Blue Pig Tavern at Congress Hall. I was also told she's much prettier in person than she is on TV - and that's quite a compliment because I think she looks great on TV.

I didn't want to post anything then out of respect for her privacy. I mean, come on. She's finally getting a break, and she's very pregnant. If anyone deserves a nice, peaceful, Jersey Shore vacation, it's her.

Hey, she's just like us! She stayed in Cape May on the same weekend last year too. Appears she's a life. As a kid, this Upper Darby native vacationed in Wildwood, which was a previous JSFotD.

Cape May is used to Hollywood stopping by. The week before, Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen made a trip to Cape May (they're repeats, too). She is a huge fan of Louisa's Cafe in Cape May, and even offered to post for a photo with the staff (which they did - their owner told me she's the nicest person on the face of the planet).

But I think the biggest star splash was made in 2008 when Anne Hathaway camped out in Cape May after a break up. Part of her get over him cure? Karaoke.

Got any other star sightings to share? Let me know.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day Sale!

Happy Fourth of July! In America's honor, I'm dropping the price on signed, shipped copies to $17.76.

Getting one is easy. Just email me at jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com, and I'll send you the details.

Sale ends at midnight!

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Friday, July 1, 2011

DMB Caravan Review

The following is a review of the DMB Caravan by my brother, Mike Miller, who went to all three days of the music festival.

The Dave Matthews Band Caravan in Atlantic City surprised a lot of people including myself, a DMB vet who has been to over 30 Dave Matthews Band performances. On the surface, the asking price of $195 for the three-day pass was reasonable for a fan like myself. Attending three straight DMB performances alone would cost you this for a spot on the lawn at the Susquahana Bank Center. But add in the value of other quality acts and even the occasional DMB fan got their money worth.

Bader Field played a perfect playing ground for this unique road show. It was spacious enough to hold the three stages for the 39 acts, but was not too big where it was a hassle to float from one band to another. The spacious abandoned airfield also allowed for one key element – plenty of bathrooms. The free water stations were plenty and even when you had to wait and extended period of time for some H20, it didn’t seem that bad as they were all located within earshot of a stage so that you could at least enjoy some music while you waited.

Transportation was not as big an issue as I thought it would be. I did not take the shuttle buses that the festival offered back to the Philadelphia area for $35 a day nor did I bite on getting a hotel room that I thought were overpriced. Instead I was one of the few that took the train from Cherry Hill to Atlantic City and back every night. Every night I walked into the train station to see that the next train would not be for a few hours my heart sunk only to be filled with joy that they announced an extra train due to the demand. Sure I still got home at 2:30 AM every night, but I only paid $12 round trip each day. In the long run that saved me at least $23 a day, good enough for three beers at the show. And what is a DMB concert without a few suds in you?

The festival was not all roses and peaches. The biggest problem was the dust and dirt. With the amount of people that attended the shows on any given day, there was always a dust cloud that, combined with suntan lotion, created a dirt paste that would take two post-concert scrubbings to get off. All this dust also caused problems breathing at times, though it was not totally unbearable.

One foreseeable problem was the crowd. For the most part, fans do not go into a DMB concert until right before the band goes on and instead enjoys the parking lot atmosphere until the last second. I myself am a culprit of this. And with the temptations at the many casinos within walking distance, I honestly thought that there would be a low crowd until right before DMB took the stage.

To my surprise, the majority of the crowd was there for the entire day. And it made the festival better. This gave the smaller acts that played in the afternoon, such as TR3 and Fitz and the Tantrums, a livelier crowd and in turn made the fan experience that much better.

Concert goers were also more exploratory than I expect too. I am a huge Guster fan so I made sure they were one of the bands I got to a bit earlier to get closer to the stage. Not only was the entire crowd digging their hour set, but as I was walking after their performance, I overheard quite a few people saying “I’ve never heard of Guster but I am glad I came over to see them.”

As I said before, I’ve been to more DMB shows than my parents probably would like. I’ve seen them up and down the east coast and usually have to defend them to an average concert goer when they play an unreleased song instead of playing Crash or Ants Marching. That being said, Night 1 was lackluster at best. I’m not sure if it’s because this is their first show of the year, but at the end of the show I was left standing saying “that was it?” even though their rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Good Times, Bad Times was great. The energy from the stage was great, but the performance seemed a bit rusty.

The second night they were getting their act together a bit better with the help of a few friends such as Vusi Mahlasela guesting on Everyday, Warren Haynes on #41, and Leon Mobley on Two Step. But this band could do a bit more.

For the final night the band brought the house down. It was one of the best mixes of hard hitting fan favorites and older and unreleased tunes that brought a punch. To the opening notes of Seek Up off their first album Remember Two Things to the crowd leaving the venue singing the refrain of the final song Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again) it is hard to say that out of all the shows the Dave Matthews Band has played in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area that this was not one best that they have played.

In the end I must say that if this festival becomes an annual event, I would be torn as to whether I would enjoy it or not. For a one-time thing this was great. But doing this year in and year out could play itself out, especially since I am sitting here a week after the festival and still feel tired just thinking about those long days.

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Jersey Shore Fact of the Day 65: Fourth of July Weekend is Here

Thanks to everyone who made Saucehose Day so much fun. It got kind of ridiculous, like conversations about saucehose keg stands, and then this epic related post.

The sad part is, I was sick as a dog yesterday, and not feeling so great today. So instead of the weekend calendar of events I was planning to write, how about a picture of my nephew and some guy?

Happy Fourth!

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