photo: Joe Maloney

If you grew up on the mid-Atlantic area of the East Coast in the Seventies (like we did), you went to the shore in the summer. And there were basically two strains of shore culture in those years: you were either defined by Ocean City, Maryland or Ocean City, New Jersey.

The differences might not have been obvious on the surface, but there was an invisible line of demarcation running in a backwards “J” shape roughly a 4-hour drive east from the coasts of New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware – the hook cradling the Philadelphia area. The O.C./MD experience was defined more by crab feeds, trailer parks on the bay side and college kids cramming into summer shares on the Delaware beaches – a little more, well, “country,” if you will. The O.C./NJ thing was peppered with influence coming south from New York City and year-round dwellers who lived and ran businesses on the Jersey shores – slightly more “cosmopolitan” in traditions that filtered through from Atlantic City and generations of immigrants coming through the gates of Ellis Island.

One of those Jersey shore towns was Asbury Park. Yeah, yeah, yeah – it’s also the home of The Stone Pony: the home bar venue of Bruce Springsteen (nothing against the guy – and yeah, we’ve seen the old photo of him in the ‘Vette – but we just can’t take that music). One of the greatest things about the Eastern shores, for us, is the car culture. In the Seventies, you got to the beach by car and Asbury Park was no different. And what went on at the beach because of all those cars was pretty epic: the boardwalks, the girls, the bars, the hair…it was all good.

Now, a show at the Rick Wester gallery of the photographs made by Joe Maloney in Asbury Park during those beautiful analog years is open and we dig it. All of a sudden, we can smell the melting rubber in the boardwalk t-shirt shop irons and the gentle waft of ditch weed and suntan lotion on the sand…

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