Liquid Lines

The ’80s Revival Is Over, Much Welcome Average Wave and Weather Conditions, and a Hill to Hit

By JON COEN | Feb 20, 2019
Photo by: Kyle Gronostajski Dave Werner from an interesting angle in last week’s swell.

It seems the ’80s revival is finally over.

Thank Zeus on that one.

I was age 6 to 16 in that decade; it certainly encapsulated my childhood. And for myself and most of my friends, it set the course for who we would become. Mind you, it wasn’t what we loved about the ’80s, it’s what we hated about it.

At that age, we certainly didn’t have much context for forming opinions, but we knew what we didn’t like. Sure there were things that we took with us for life – checkered Vans, aggressive surfing and classic hip-hop – but for the most part, we grew to be dead against the phenomenon that came to identify that whacky decade. Surfing whored itself out to pop culture like never before. Neon, glam rock, big hair, IROCs … you could keep all that. Don’t pour any of your sugar on me, thank you very much.

I’m not the only one who didn’t find it all that cute when ’80s revival came back in the mid-2000s. The surf industry got huge again and the top brands pushed day-glo to a new generation in every shopping mall in the country. Millennials ate it up. Dancing to Franky Goes to Hollywood in high-waisted jeans didn’t look any better in 2003 than it had 17 years earlier. And in a twist of sad irony, the throwback trend lasted even longer than the actual ’80s. It’s wasn’t so dramatic as to call for a national emergency, but it wasn’t pretty.

Well, I think it’s safe to say that the ’80s revival is just about over because the ’90s are coming on strong. We’ve seen the foreshadowing, but now it’s happening. And some of Gen X, millennials and even Gen Z are adopting it. The ’90s were somewhat of a counter reaction to all the ugliness of the ’80s. It was a different kind of ugly, and it was beautiful.

Vans is doing some full ’90s-inspired kicks and I’m seeing more Doc Martens than we have in two decades. I’m hearing talk of crushed velvet, although I didn’t know what that was in ’95, nor do I really know now. Overalls are making a big comeback, for which I am eternally grateful. Fashion experts say that the return to flannel is part of the movement, but let’s face it, flannel never went anywhere on LBI for either gender. That is some nostalgia I can get down with, even if cassette releases are actually a terrible idea.

The big question remains, will men’s boardshorts start to creep back down toward the knee after finding a happy medium on the lower thigh? Or will we continue to see chubby millennials prancing around the beach in their boxer shorts again this summer?

“Duck Tales” and “Murphy Brown” are both getting reboots this year. (Apparently, TV writers have run out of ideas.) But I have heard wind of a “White Men Can’t Jump” reboot. I’d give Rosie Perez a ride in my old Toyota Celica anytime.

Ice Cube has a new album out. It was also announced this week that the Bash festival is coming through Englishtown Raceway on June 2 featuring Rancid, Pennywise, Suicidal Tendencies, L7 and H20. And the Stone Pony’s Summerstage is already prepping to have Sublime come through. No doubt, there will be some chain wallets.

I’ll admit that for me, the ’90s never went out. I mean, I don’t just rock the same kind of styles as I did in the ’90s; I actually have some of the very clothes. (Then again, l’m the last person who should be talking style.) But man will I be happy when all that neon green is finally put to rest.

WONDERFULLY AVERAGE: The past couple of weeks round here have been pretty average. No great waves and no big news weather. The snowfalls have been pretty. The bay has thawed. And I think for a lot of us, average is just fine. I, for one, am happy we got through a few days without any polar vortexes or a blizzard.

Because average weather has meant some mild temps mixed in, as well as several days of average surf. The last few winters haven’t given us a whole lot of “average surf,” the kind where you go out and get a handful of waves that are thigh to head high without any serious cold water poundings. Last Wednesday was surprisingly fun in those stiff offshores with head-high peaks. Saturday was better than expected, too, with some sets up to shoulder high. I heard reports of some really nicely shaped micro longboard waves on Monday as well. We’ve been having a few of these days a week, which is sometimes nicer than that one day of massive pitching barrels with a northwest gale warning.

It has seemed the last few years, especially since our jetties got buried, that smaller, decent winter days have been harder to come by. All the clean 2- to 3-foot days have been accompanied by a lot of closeouts. This winter has seen several of those sessions, and we welcome them. Not that we don’t want a super-sized nor’easter swell, but to not have the 2 feet of snow, multiple tide cycle floods and week of single digits and offshore winds after the swell has died is pretty nice.

Also, I certainly don’t mind doing a turn every now and then.

The danger with that, however, is that some folks are starting to think we’re seeing the spring light at the end of the winter tunnel. Don’t fall into that trap. Admittedly, the remainder of February doesn’t look terrible on the misery index. This week has been fairly mild and we’re not seeing any extreme weather for the rest of the month. But March has a way of coming back to bite you. In fact, if February is mild, it almost gives March a vengeance to make us pay.

The ocean is still 37 or 38 degrees. As our winters go, that’s average to a little below average. With the long-term forecast, I could see that coming up to 40 by March. But that’s just 40, which is enough to keep us in the ice box here for a few months. And when the air temps do start to come up in March and April, so will the onshore wind, to cancel things out on the Island. If you’ve got spring fever, tend to it right away. Either buy a new Carhartt or a plane ticket. No, you can’t start planting spinach yet.

And enjoy the averageness. The sun isn’t setting now until 6 p.m., which is almost a full hour later than sunset at the winter solstice in December. That at least gives you extra time for a session or whatever else you want to do outside.

THE HILLS: It’s been a pretty good season in the regional mountains and there have been a lot of local surfers and their families heading for the hills of PA, North Jersey, New York and New England.

The resorts here in the Mid-Atlantic have done pretty well despite some rainfalls. Up in the Northeast, the season has been aces.

We’ve hit a spot called Bear Creek Mountain Resort that some of our summertime friends turned us on to a few times now. My 6-year-old has been learning the basics for a few years and is just starting to get his edge. Bear Creek is a prime spot for teaching a young family with ample space for learning. For more experienced riders, it’s a pretty small hill, but they do a nice job with the snow, and the terrain park is always fun and well maintained.

While they do have a pretty extensive lodge (I’m told an excellent restaurant) and very nice hotel on the hill, the resort itself is just in the middle of Pennsylvania’s rolling farmland. It’s south of Allentown, making it a tad bit closer. It’s also a pretty good deal, at $50 for a full day of riding. And they have lights to extend your session.

What we’ve done in the past is played hooky on an unseasonably warm March day; while the Island is 45 degrees and windy, Lehigh Valley is in the 60s and sunny. Sure, conditions are a little slushy, but when you’re teaching a kid in a T-shirt and getting sun on your face, it’s a pretty good tradeoff. Consider it when we have a week of no surf before the snow season is over.

LOCAL MUSIC: Since I take every opportunity in my column to poke fun at cover bands and the way LBI crowds would prefer to bellow “Sweet Caroline” than hear anything resembling original music, it’s only fair that I state that local musicians have turned up the volume on releasing work this year.

First off, Giovani Alex, known for his role in local outfit Chevy Lopez as well as being the spark behind the now annual New Year’s Eve Bash, just released the “Superhero” EP, a five-song folk release that is available on iTunes or CD. This kid simply exudes positivity and you have to love his boundless energy.

Second, we have Karate Charlie, which is for the generation of surfers raised on punk. These locals have been playing some shows at various venues and just released 10 irreverent driving punk tracks of a self-titled album on Beach Scum Records. I’m recommending this one for driving to check the surf and getting yourself amped for cold tubes.

Third, we have Manahawkin’s Pete Palladino, a PA native and former frontman of the Badlees, which had a nice run as a rock band through the ’90s. Palladino has been writing and recording some songs and will be performing with a band of enlisted musicians as “Pete Palladino and Friends” at the Mauch Chunk Opera House in Jim Thorpe, Pa., on March 17. I’m sure a few folks will head out to support, but maybe there are some local shows this year as well?

These three efforts are all pretty different sonically, but it’s just great to see locals putting out original music.

LATE FEB HAPS:This isn’t the most exciting time of year for events, but hey, we do what we can around here.

Foremost on the list is the Arctic Outreach this Saturday, the fourth annual fundraiser at Mud City Crab House in Memory of Mallory McBrien. This year, money is also being directed to Manahawkin’s Maryann Murray Levine, who was in a devastating recent car accident.

As in the past, the day will feature great food, craft beer, a stage of live bands and plenty to entertain the children. This year, there will also be head shots for a donation of $20.

But really, the big draw is getting to hang out with all the awesome people around here in the middle of winter when folks tend to hibernate. The event starts at 11 am and will run until 7 p.m. and is run by the Tide Table Restaurant Group (Mud City), the Jetty Rock Foundation and Rustic Drift.

Note: there will be free parking at Southern Regional Middle School with buses looping all day. Also, temps look above average for Saturday.

Science Saturdays continue at the Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences as Matt Greg and Theo Gerike of Forty North Oysters present “Oyster Culture & Cuisine” this Saturday. On March 2, Jonathan Carr of WeatherNJ will explain the difference between weather and climate (something our president seems to have zero understanding of). As always, they run from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and they are free to LBIF members, $5 for nonmembers.

Also, just a reminder: South End Surf N’ Paddle’s Polar Paddle, which had to be postponed from earlier this month because the bay was too frozen, has been rescheduled for March 30. You have plenty of time to train. Get on it.

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