On December 12, 2012 (12-12-12), New York's Madison Garden hosted a five-hour benefit concert to raise money, (to take a bite out of the $63 billion), for the victims of Sandy. Some the greatest legends of music as well as other notable entertainers and sports figures associated with the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) donated their time, energy and talents on stage...as well as hundreds more working behind the scene, (organizing, coordinating, producing and accepting phoned in donations).
The charitable, ROBIN HOOD RELIEF FUND took center stage. Through their efforts, 100% of the "12-12-12 Concert" proceeds will go directly to programs that will help the needy.
|FOUNDED IN 1988, THE ROBIN HOOD FUND HAS TARGETED THE IMPOVERISHED, IN NEW YORK CITY. FOR THE VICTIMS OF THE SUPER STORM, THE FOUNDATION HAS WIDENED ITS INFLUENCE TO ASSIST THE EXPANDED METROPOLITAN AREA.|
One of the consistent messages that the speakers brought out was the idea that the Sandy disaster severely crippled many beach communities. And while it's true that the suffering of recreation areas can never be compared to deaths, entire homes swept away and other colossal calamities...it is something we almost all have in common.
Regardless of where you live, you can understand, at least indirectly, to the many happy memories of "going down the shore" represents, (in New Jersey, the beach is called the shore. I was here over twenty years before I finally started properly calling it, the shore).
The great "going down the shore" moments of our childhood, coming of age with our friends or starting the cycle over with our own kids are now at least temporarily, in jeopardy. Yes, these areas will be rebuilt but when and what form? Is it possible that a whole generation will miss out? Or even worse...never be seen again.
I grew up in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn. If my memories of Coney Island, Rockaway Playland, Freedomland and Palisades Park were erased from my mind, a huge chunk of my idealism and imagination would be missing. Just the anticipation and the excitement of the car ride there would fire me up. Similarly for my son Andrew, it would be criminal to take away the beach and everything associated with an outing there from his development.
Back in the day, my wife Sue, Andrew and I spent a week in Ocean City Maryland ten different years. From the time Andrew was six-months old when we spread our blanket under the protective fishing pier, to the boardwalk junk food and schlock-store shopping sprees, we all had a ball.
|THE SHANTYTOWN SECTION OF OCEAN MARYLAND 1998. IN HIS EARLY YEARS, MOTION-SENSITIVE ANDREW SAVED ME MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN QUARTERS BY INSISTING I DON'T PUT MONEY IN HORSEY RIDES.|
When he got a little older, we spent a lot of time in the arcades. Andrew didn't take to the kiddie rides right away but he loved watching his mom catapult a rubber frog with a mallet into a lily pad for chintzy prizes, posing in the fun house mirrors and dancing to the music of the antique circus calliope.
|ANDREW GOT HIS FIRST, "HOW TO DRIVE LIKE AN OLD LADY" LESSON AT THE JOLLY ROGER AMUSEMENT PARK IN OC MARYLAND.|
A couple of years later, after 36 holes of Jungle Golf, my boy was driving his own Winnie-the-Pooh racer.
|UNLIKE HIS DAD, MY HARDCORE NASCAR HOPEFUL TRADED PAINT WITH THE KID IN THE FLINTSTONES CAR AND FORCED HIM INTO THE BARRIER. JUST AS ANDREW WAS LAPPING HIM, AN ATTENDANT HAD TO ASSIST THE POOR DRIVER OFF THE TRACK.|
We also had loads of other oddball adventures too. Andrew was five when I watched him march from our beach blanket to the waters edge and make a sharp right hand turn, (I followed him ten blocks along the wet sand, in the middle of 4th of July chaos), until he started to scale the rock jetty. At that point, I tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and said, "Dad, what are YOU doing here)?
|OCEAN CITY MARYLAND BOARDWALK JULY - 1998. WHAT IF THIS NEVER HAPPENED, ANDREW LETTING ME RIDE HIS BIKE RENTAL FOR TWO MINUTES, (MY NUMBED BUTT WAS SORE FOR TWO WEEKS).|
Another golden moment was Andrew's first time playing a pinball machine. A man let him use up the 20+ games he still had after he got bored, (the SOUTH PARK-themed game was accidentally calibrated to give a free game by reaching a small amount of points). We hadn't been exposed to the South Park TV show yet so we were all mesmerized by the strange toilet flushing and farting sound effects. While laughing, Andrew felt like a champion every time that thunderous knock signaled another free game, (if we didn't get bored...we might still be playing it now).
In 1966, baseball's Casey Stengel said of the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis, "It sure holds the heat well." That could also be said of Ocean City Maryland.
|JUNE - 1997. BEFORE ANDREW GOT HIS "SEA LEGS" WALKING ON THE OC BOARDS MEANT ONLY SWEATING PROFUSELY... UNLESS YOU MET BOOMER THE DOG, AND THE OWNER LET YOU FEED HIM STICKS.|
Four-year old Andrew first recognized the beach as a great plaything, in the summer of 1998. We met my sister's family and my mom in Seaside Heights and we all witnessed his love of getting smacked around by the waves.
Closer to home, Brigantine Beach was visited multiple times each year and therefore played the greatest role in Andrew's beach development. Sandy ravaged the north end of town but we are hoping that the stretch of shoreline we like (around 26th Street) will be the same.
|IN FIFTH GRADE, MY LITTLE MACHO-MAN FLEXED HIS "HOT DOG BUN" BICEPS ON BRIGANTINE BEACH.|
Other local hot spots that were spanked by the super storm include nearby Ventnor and Margate.
|THE MARGATE STREET FAIR (SEPTEMBER 2000). ICONIC 100+ YEAR OLD LUCY THE ELEPHANT (A HALF BLOCK FROM THE BEACH) WAS BRUISED BY THE STORM WHEN THE OCEAN MET THE BAY.|
It seems like eons ago but my wife Sue's casino used to provide an annual employee appreciation day in Wildwood. I cherish those golden moments and hate to think of the emptiness of never experiencing; the look on Andrew's face when he became tall enough to go in the haunted house, the first time he got a putt-putt hole in one, the time he sat in automotive grease at the bumper cars, when his wrist got sliced open from the friction of the burlap bag he was sliding down in, splashing around in the water park, the fudge shop, his imitation of "w-w-w-atch the tram car please" and of course the fireworks.
|2006, NOTHING BEATS THE EXHILARATION OF RUNNING IN SOGGY SOCKS AFTER A LOG FLUME RIDE.|
Twenty miles (south) from home, there's an Ocean City New Jersey. In the summer, every Thursday night is family night. Before Andrew was born, we took my sister, her husband and two daughters there. The girls(four and six ) got disoriented in the "House of Mirrors." Their dad heroically charged in to "save" them and smashed his face into a mirrored wall...he's lucky he didn't break his nose, (it's still funny to me, too bad, that was pre-camcorder days).
My best Ocean City NJ memory was Sue pushing Andrew in his stroller (with another mom) on the boardwalk. Sue motioned into the distance and her tennis bracelet detached from her wrist. In slow-motion, she watched in horror as her favorite bauble got launched through the air and landed, in a million-to-one-shot, between the only narrow slit in the boards wide enough that it could slither through. While her girlfriend stood over the spot, Sue went underneath the boardwalk to search and after a while, she sifted enough sand and actually recovered it.
Twenty miles north is Long Beach Island (LBI). The beach and amusement areas suffered catastrophic damage.
|MAY - 1998. THE TOWN OF SHIP BOTTOM ON LBI, REGULARLY RESTORES ITS SAND DUNES. IN THE AFTERMATH OF SANDY, THIS YEAR MIGHT BE A LOT MORE DIFFICULT.|
The many layers of the Hurricane Sandy 12-12-12 Concert supports a wide range of needs. I chose to share my great memories and my wish that new ones will continue for everyone, starting next summer.
|BOARDWALK FOOD? I PREFER SAUSAGE AND PEPPERS, SOME PEOPLE LIKE CRAPPY PIZZA, OTHERS PUT VINEGAR ON THEIR FRENCH FRIES INSTEAD OF KETCHUP. BUT NOTHING SCREAMS OUT EATING AT THE SHORE LIKE COTTON CANDY.|
|JAGGER WAS ASKED HOW HE SUMMONED ALL THAT ENERGY FOR HIS BRIEF APPEARANCE DURING THE 12-12-12 CONCERT. HE WAS QUICK TO POINT OUT THAT HE'S BEEN TOURING AND DOING IT FOR WHOLE SHOWS. HE THEN ADDED, "I JUST DO WHAT I DO."|
I hope that the Robin Hood Relief Fund can just do what they do. And that is, get money, goods and services to the right people and those effected can get beyond the sadness and reach some decent level of resurrection.