On a Sunday two weeks past, we headed into New Jersey, to the shore. I wanted to breathe in the ocean air one last time before the days started to got too short, wanted to gaze out across the ocean to where the curve of the Earth meets the sky, to bang some pleasure machines.
I realized that the things that I love about Asbury Park have disintegrated. It has become dotted with people with more money than I can fathom, crowds push by on the boardwalk, which now has good restaurants and nice shops, instead of silence. I suppose that it is a good thing for the town, since it needs the tax money but Asbury, with it’s promises to me of quiet, sand, desolation has gone away. It is strange. I am not sure where to go now, when I want to run away to the ocean and inhale the promise of summer.
After Asbury there was the expected drive down long strips of highway dotted with businesses in various states of disrepair and the obligatory trip to a Jersey diner. Over fried food and big glasses of soda, I people watched and eavesdropped.
A few Saturdays ago, there was a trip to Asbury Park. Again. As I was anxious and bored, I wasn’t up for staying at home so I took off and did some running away. I spent about 6 hours in Asbury Park, looking, photographing and wandering. I ate ice cream. I played pinball. I sat in the sand, looked at the ocean, absorbed sun light. I thought about the idea of endless summer/youth, the end of boardwalk, the texture of ocean. I enamored with the juxtaposition of the culture that exists on the very short boardwalk and the rest of the town. Driving into town to the beach is a little strange, since the town is so ragged.
On the boardwalk, in this place of eternal summer, there is money, there is polish. In rest of town, there are pawn shops, there are rough edges. It is very quiet and unpopulated outside of the small space between the casino and the convention center. Silence lingers along Kingsley Street, in the green spaces that mark tourist population from the rest. I am interested in the space between the boardwalk and the rest of town. I want to explore it and work around that line, that threshold, that demarcation.
Outside of the running away, I am drawn to Asbury Park because it doesn’t have emotional weight to it, like the places from my past. It feels a lot easier to make images here, to make them without this heaviness in my heart and limbs. It is emotionally exhausting to make images in places loaded with personal history. I realize it is a bit problematic to make images of Asbury Park, because it has been photographed so much. I am not interested in making images that I know exist already; I want to look around them and extract something different.