There’s something unique about being “down the shore” in New Jersey. It’s not “at the shore” or “at the beach”, it’s “down the shore”, the geography of the state’s nicer beaches (and better parties) clearly delineating work from fun. As much Labor Day is an artifical line on the calendar with heart-felt impact, separating summer vacation from the real world, once you go “down the shore” you are governed by an artifical but completely sensed different set of rules.
Someone finally captured that feeling in in a book.
I’ve just picked up James Campion’s Deep Tank Jersey, a chronicle of quintessential Jersey shore bar band Dog Voices. The book is a peculiar 3-way intersection for me: We spent many summers on Long Beach Island, where Nardi’s bar occupies what would be the pierced navel of that body of sand. Dog Voices was on the marquee nearly every Sunday I drove by, watching the line snake around the building. Second, Dog Voices has been the “house band” for the New Jersey Devils for a few years. Why have a Stanley Cup parade down some state highway (with or without Springsteen’s broken heroes) when you can have a parking lot block party with Monte and the boys? It’s so, well, Jersey. And finally, bringing it home in a literal and figurative sense, James Campion sat next to me in more than a few high school classes. He writes what he knows because he knows life in New Jersey. Situated and saturated in it. I just never knew I was in the vicinity of the heir to the Hunter S. Thompson school of adjective slingshots.
Life must imitate art which imitates life.