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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summertime -- A Portal To Eternal Youth

Hi All -- Hope you had a great July 4th Weekend.  I've blogged before about declaring one's own independence, but this year I'm declaring my independence from the desire to recycle and re-post.  Sometimes new experiences require posts that take new perspectives.  Since I had one, by popular demand, here it is.

Growing up on Long Island meant summers at our world-renowned beaches.  Long Beach, Jones Beach, Captree, Robert Moses, Montauk and Fire Island all come to mind.  Those care-free months in between school years would usually consist of days swimming in the waves, protected by a healthy layer of what my parents called "shmearox" while laying in the sun, and watching the planes leave sky-writing above the water.  And although I hadn't started doing it at the time, the fully-intact Long Beach Boardwalk provided the perfect spot for summer running, as did the Jones Beach trail, parallel to the Ocean Parkway stretching out east.

If you were lucky enough to have a cabana at Point Lookout or Lido Beach, you had it made.  After waiting patiently on the waiting list, you'd have your space for a BBQ, to play some touch football in the sand, or to just soak it all in.  It felt like living the life of jet-setters in Hollywood or moguls in South Beach, and it was only half an hour from home.

And the nightlife?  Second to none!  Concerts on the water at Jones Beach Theater brought out some of the best groups in rock & roll for the best leg of their summer tours.  Clubs such as Malibu were strategically placed right near the cabanas for those who wanted to get their groove on after dark.  And the bars all along Long Beach made it the centerpiece of the summer.  Nothing but a good time all summer long, throughout the 80's, 90's, and 00's.

This weekend, I unexpectedly found myself on some old stomping grounds -- some friends advised that a new club/restaurant had opened at the former site of Malibu, which had been closed a few summers before.  A well-known cover band was going to be trotting out some classic rock hits from the Beatles, Chicago, and possibly the Man, Billy Joel.  Although I'm quite happy living here in an outer borough, I was more than happy to come back to Long Island's own vacation paradise, and remember a good part of my youth.

And these friends were not only good friends, they were slick, sly, and resourceful.  A reservation had been made for about an hour before this band was to go on for six people -- not a huge party by any means, but enough to put the ever-eager maitre'd and her staff on notice to secure a table for us the minute we arrived, while those with smaller parties would have been relegated to the bar, waiting and waiting for a table of their own for an hour or more.  And the location gave us a perfect view of the band, as well as the sunset that would provide the perfect background for the first half of their set.  We feasted on the most excellent seafood, and some land-based fare, and toasted how damn-near-perfect this time turned out to be.  We capped off the night after sunset as I took the opportunity to show everyone that I had the moves like Jagger . . . well, like somebody anyway . . . on the dance floor.  :)

We often associate springtime with childhood, summertime with adolescence, and "the autumn of the year" with middle age and beyond.  We cannot be adolescents forever, for obvious reasons, but we can always revisit the places that gave us hot times and cool nights in the olden days.  We can remind ourselves how awesome it felt to be temporarily free of responsibility, to let loose and enjoy the setting created for us, and if we were lucky, to meet that special someone to make it even better.  Sometimes those old familiar places can rejuvenate us, and allow us to return to our states of maturity with just an extra little lift, and a few extra smiles.  The week that follows will obviously be no "day at the beach," but it will go somewhat easier after basking in the sun.

The past few years had taken me off the Island, but I should return to this place again and again.  Nothing more than a train ride on the most famous commuter railroad in the US keeps me from it, and that ain't bad (so long as people can keep their cell phone conversations to a low roar and not make a scene, lol).

Not only did it make me feel young again, it also gave me a little bit of long-lost hometown pride.  There's been a lot of talk about the Jersey Shore rebuilding after the consequences of Hurricane Sandy, and more power to them. But the south shore of the Island, particularly Long Beach, got smacked up pretty badly too, and that should not be ignored due to the lack of well-known politicians putting out spots advertising the progress.  Since everyone I was with that night was affected in some way by that SuperStorm, it felt good to be reminded that Mother Nature, as badass as she truly can be, cannot and does not always have her way with us.  Jersey Shore is back?  G-D bless them.  Guess What, So Is Long Island.

That's all I got now, but the video will follow.  But last, and not least, I'd like to welcome a few new "friends and neighbors" to the blog.  As long as a few more summer memories can be created, a few extra "behind the scenes" stories for the Fanfare will be written.  Just keep watching, peeps!