Liquid Lines

If Nordstrom Is Selling Fake Mud-Caked Jeans, We Can Surely Do Better Than That on LBI

Filthy fashion faux paus, spring waves, warm water, Island Beach's bar and you can meet Cory Lopez at Farias
By JON COEN | May 03, 2017
Photo by: We work really hard around Long Beach Island. But now you can buy jeans with fake mud that make you look like you get ‘down and dirty,’ even when you don’t. And they'’e $425.

There is absolutely no way I could let this one go without sufficient commentary. Last week, the luxury department store Nordstrom released something of a bomb on the fashion world. They’re called the Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans. These “heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans in a comfortable straight-leg fit embody rugged Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action,” says They have a button fly closure, classic straight cut, and five pockets.

And they’re caked with fake mud.

Admittedly, Nordstrom pretty much gave me my column gift-wrapped this week. I unwrapped it and discovered the words “crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.”

These are jeans caked from the ankle to the waist with some kind of brown stuff. Even the ass is a brown mess. As if this weren’t enough of a gift, Nordstrom went a step further with a $425 price tag.

I think I can speak for a lot of us around LBI when I say we are getting into a very busy time of the year. We’re not quite there yet, but there’s this period of prepping for the season that requires an awful lot of work. Much of it is actual “down and dirty” work.

Pretty much every local has their hands full stocking inventory, pulling weeds, booking summer visitors and getting that addition built before the owners come down for Memorial Day. The SandPaper is ramping up for bigger issues and multiple publications. Economically, we are preparing for our do-or-die season.

But why don’t we work smarter, not harder? if Nordstrom can make $425 on a pair of faux-fudge blue jeans, I’m sure LBI can capitalize on this trend. I’m developing my own line of apparel, and I think we’re going to do very well with it. Here are a few of my ideas:

Holgate Hoody, $385. Heathered wardrobe essential in soft cotton, draw string hood, ribbed hem …. This iconic sweatshirt is covered with real Little Egg Harbor Bay sediment for that true South End look and sand in the pocket; reminiscent of those long afternoons of clam digging that you never actually had, and always with that low-tide smell.

Junk in Your Trunks, $245: Performance fit polyester/cotton stretch boardshort with Velcro fly. Everyone knows that LBI surfers carry a big package. The Junk features brushed twill waistband and a secret wax pocket strategically set into the crotch to make your manhood look massive on the smallest of waves. Authentic pizza-dyed cotton to give the impression you go to epic beach parties.

Fisherman’s Flannel, $499: Yarn dye flannel woven shirt with classic plaid pattern and front button closure – an LBI classic. Chest button flap pocket is fashionably ripped; right sleeve features authentic treble hook tear. You’ll be the talk of the climate-controlled beach house cocktail party with actual bunker blood on the chest. Stale-beer stained –100 percent cotton.

She-Crab Sleeveless Blouse, $420: V-neckline button-front closure top, hits at hip. The She Crab is a collab with our friends at Dexter Russell, complete with rusty clam knife in the pocket, as if you’re always prepared for aggressive suitors at the bar or opening clams at happy hour. (Perish the thought.) Authentic Surf City seagull poop accent.

WAVE GOODBYE: Well, that was fun .... Know what else has been fun? The surf lately. We haven’t had anything epic and the winds continue to be a thorn in our collective side, but all in all, not bad for springtime.

And I say springtime with confidence, now that it’s May. Or should I say despite the fact that it’s May. We’ve already had almost a dozen days that would qualify as “beach weather” this year (going back to February, mind you). That’s pretty impressive considering we’ve certainly had frigid May weekends where going anywhere near the water felt colder than a Mike Pence stare at a tolerance rally. “Late winter” is officially over. Rejoice.

And we still have waves, which is the nice thing. Last week saw the Atlantic Ocean light up with swell, although New Jersey didn’t get the very best of it. We did have some overhead waves, but I heard varying reports last Wednesday. Some surfers (the very best goofyfooters) were claiming that it was mental. Others I spoke to drove to the beach, checked it, watched it, and decided it wasn’t worth a paddle. So it was somewhere between mental and not worth it.

Last Thursday proved to be the highlight of the week with a few waves still in the head-high range. The wind was supposed to be offshore, but you’re more likely to see a yeti running around LBI in April than true offshore winds when there’s any kind of swell. Instead, we had to take the next best thing, which is light onshore.

By this point in the swell, there was no decisive swell direction, but there were some pretty fun peaks out there. Surf City was nearly empty with a few beefy ones. Word is that the South End was lining up a bit better, not really long peelers, but a few slabs and barrels. Anytime you’re still getting barrels in late April is good news.

Saturday was just about gorgeous on LBI. Though winds were more southerly than we would have wanted, they kept doing a little south-to-southwest switch. The more west/southwest angle came in the evening to make for some clean little rights. Sunday was mostly chilly and flat.

Monday’s southerly blow rebuilt the surf, and Tuesday was another day of marginally fun surf here. We tend to relish any wave over 3 feet in May, as they get harder to come by the closer we get to summer.

The best news is that the ocean water temp has crept up higher than normal for early May. On Monday, the gauge at Atlantic City read 59.4, and Sandy Hook came in at 57.4. If you figure we’re somewhere around 58.5 F, that puts us a full 5 degrees warmer than average for this time of year. And that is the reason, more than anything, that late winter is finally over on LBI. Yes, the Northern Hemisphere angling more toward the sun and general warmth from the Ohio Valley instead of Arctic air masses from Canada certainly help. But the difference between the wind whipping off a 58- and 53-degree ocean is a big deal. Notice how the marshes are already greening up? More importantly, did you notice how the wind was south on Saturday and the Island didn’t go into the total freeze box? That’s the difference, even if it was 15 degrees cooler east of the dune than west.

It also means we’ll be dropping down to our 3-mil wetsuits a bit earlier this year, perhaps shedding the gloves soon, and maybe even ditching the boots. Three days of south winds could ruin all this pretty quick, but if we were to continue on this path, we could be surfing in trunks by Memorial Day.

BEACH BLASTED?: At the end of last season, Island Beach State Park opened up the Red Fox Tiki Bar and Grill, a for-profit bar and restaurant, and it looks to be firing up again for this summer. I know Island Beach, the mostly untouched barrier island just north of Barnegat Inlet, isn’t part of LBI, but it’s a very important place to folks in Southern Ocean County, whether we get there by land or by sea.

Lots of LBI folks go there by boat, and locals will actually drive up the Parkway, out Route 37 and through Seaside Park just because they can take their dog on the beach there in the summer. It’s a natural gem, also known for great fishing, and the waves tend to be pretty consistent.

The vending rights were awarded to folks who own Chippy’s French Fries on the boardwalk in Point Pleasant. And apparently, the state issued a new liquor license… ’cause they’re the state and it’s a state park, and they make the rules.

The move to open a bar in such a natural place drew some attention. Let’s face it: Island Beach is special because it hasn’t fallen victim to development. Some fear that such a natural sanctuary selling booze could lead to a slippery slope. I tend to agree that protected areas should stay protected. Seaside Heights is a measly 6 miles away, but a different planet in terms of Jersey beaches. It’s not like you’re a day’s drive from the nearest beer tap.

My thoughts are this: I’m not into the idea of opening such a sacred place to commercialism. The state park system says it needs the revenue stream, which might be true. Everything is for sale in 2017. According to the IBSP website, you have to keep booze within a fenced-in area, which they will regulate. And if the state of N.J. is good at one thing, it’s regulating.

Drinking is already a part of the fabric of Island Beach. I guarantee if you checked, eight out of 10 coolers have cold beer on a summer day. People drink and act responsibly for the most part. It’s an Island Beach tradition.

And a tiki bar?! Seriously, if you’re going to start a commercial venture in Island Beach, do it right. This is New Jersey. How long are we going to associate the beach with cheesy Hawaiiana, flower shirts and Jimmy Buffett? We don’t have tikis. We have our own coastal culture, and the best eateries are creatively celebrating it. At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s going to change the natural beauty or character of the place that much. Just come up with something better than a “tiki” bar.

THINGS HAPPENING: Throughout most of the winter, events around LBI take a little different tone. Though they are no less important, they’re not as well attended, more academic, and clearly colder. But from here on out, these gatherings are going to be a little more lively.

First up on the docket is O’Neill Wave of the Winter playing at Farias’ Ship Bottom location on Saturday evening. Every year, Surfline and O’Neill document the best rides submitted from the North Shore of Oahu each winter. Surf legends pick the best of the best, and the riders walk with some serious cash.

This year, O’Neill is taking the show on the road and will show a premiere of the movie. Not only is Farias offering giveaways, free food and bevvies, but the gathering also gives a chance to meet Cory Lopez. Lopez hails from Florida, the Gulf Coast if truth be told, and had a long career on the ASP World Tour. He was among the first surfers to draw new lines at the man-eating wave known as Teahupoo and finished ranked No. 3 in the world in 2001. If you want to meet a true surf hero, watch the best action from the North Shore last winter and see everyone who’s been hibernating since November, this is your chance.

Next Thursday, May 11, one of LBI’s favorite waterman ambassadors and other locals will be featured on the big screen (or nine medium-sized screens, technically) at the Old Causeway Steak and Oyster House for Season One, Episode One of “Just Beneath the Surface.” The documentary series partnership with the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce will have four new episodes out this season, the first one launching at this party.

The episode, “Paddling and Pineys,” features the growth of stand-up paddling in the area, specifically Ken Gallant of South-End Surf N’ Paddle and his crew. It also takes a look at life in our local Pine Barrens and highlights the work of Barnegat Light photog Bob Birsdsall, who has two books of photography out, People of the Pines and Seasons of the Pines. If you haven’t seen his wildlife photos, it’s high time you learned about this guy, as well as the land and the local harvest.

Looking a bit farther out, you can build your own wooden surfcraft on May 20-21 at Garden State Surf & Art in Beach Haven Crest. This two-day class will teach you the history of the original Polynesian surfboards known as alaia. You’ll also learn basic woodworking skills (no prior craftsmanship or surf experience necessary) as taught by Greg Melega of Papa Planes. The best part is that you’ll walk away after two days with your own alaia under your arm, to either try in the surf this summer or hang above your fireplace.

Also on May 20, Wave Hog Surf Shop will host its first Summer Swap Meet, a surfboard swap outside the shop. This is a chance to buy, sell and trade boards and gear with other surfers. This one promises to have a lot of local board builders, shapers whose stuff isn’t normally sold in shops. These are always worth checking out.

This is still a way off (actually only a month!), but the fourth annual Hop Sauce Fest is June 3. This year promises new flavors and new brews, with local boys The Double Negatives opening the day on the Volkswagen stage. Then a host of national acts play, including Hardwork Movement, ELEL, Susto, and headliner Lee Fields & the Expressions. As always, the morning of Hop Sauce will give you a chance to work up your thirst and appetite with the Hop Sauce Tune Up. Run by South-End Surf N’ Paddle to benefit Alliance for a Living Ocean; this is traditionally the first paddle race of the year. It’s a great way to start the day and the season.

Looks like another south blow this weekend with some decent-size surf. We will have to see how we do with wind. LBI is notorious for sloppy surf in the springtime while neighbors to the north get cleaner surf. But perhaps we’ll score late-weekend. And even if you don’t score, you can say you did. Just don’t let us see you walking around with fake dirt on your clothes.

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