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VACATION OVER

I’m back from two weeks in Wildwood. Fourteen straight days of sunshine. Water temperature 73 degrees. No tarballs. I rode my bike 4 to 5 miles per day on the boardwalk, walked 2 to 3 miles per day, and still managed to gain 5 pounds. How many calories are in those margaritas? Two weeks of relaxation at the beach has convinced me we’re all doomed. Here are my observations about Wildwood and the future of our country:

  • The Wildwood boardwalk extends 5 miles and has been in place since the early 1900’s. A three block section of the boardwalk in front of Morey’s Pier was replaced this last year with much nicer Ipe wood. It looks great. Now the part you will really like. None of the businesses or even the citizens of Wildwood had to fork over one dime for this $6 million improvement. You paid for it. The United States Department of Agriculture gave a “Stimulus” grant to Wildwood for this “Union construction” project. Don’t worry. There are only 6,567 other $6 million boondoggles throughout the country wasting your grandchildren’s money. There were a lot less splinters in people’s feet this year.
  • The unemployment rate in Phila is 11.3%. The teenage unemployment rate in the US is 25.7%. Morey’s Piers and the rest of the businesses at the shore find it easier to go across the Atlantic and hire teens from countries such as Ireland, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, South Africa, Thailand, and China.  H-2B seasonal-labor visas allow about 7,500 foreigners to legally work at an estimated 700 businesses on the Jersey Shore. What does this say about the quality and motivation of American teen workers? There are virtually no black teenage workers on the Wildwood boardwalk. The foreign teenage workers are the most pleasant, nicest kids you will come across. See the attitude from American teenage workers in Phila. Night and day. When employers need to go across the Atlantic Ocean to get decent workers, you know we are a country in decline.
  • You can easily tell the Eastern Europeans from the Americans. The Eastern Europeans walk or bike everywhere and are all thin and in shape. The Americans are fat and sitting on the tramcar getting transported to the next fried oreo stand.
  • Did the TV reality show Jersey Shore instigate young people to act like blithering idiots or were they already blithering idiots? Too bad no one filmed me bursting into the condo next door at 5:00 am one morning because the assholes were pounding on my wall. The f bomb diatribe I unleashed on the poor dreadlocked black dude would be too offensive for even my site.  
  • My favorite new game to play on the beach with Avalon is “ARE THEY REAL?”. I always say they are real. Avalon insists that if they don’t bounce, they aren’t real. Truthfully, I really don’t care if I lose the game. I’m just happy to be playing.
  • Is it possible for teenagers to spend $20 bills faster than they come out of the ATM machine?
  • We rarely go out drinking when we’re at home. During the 2 weeks, we got out quite a bit. We went to Keenan’s Irish Pub twice so that my mom could see some of her friends. My dad and her went to Keenan’s for years before his alzheimers hit. I told her Keenan’s reminded me of God’s waiting room. The Blues festival on Friday had some excellent music.
  • The funniest episode was when we went out alone to The Shamrock. This is a little hole in the wall bar that has been in the same spot since I was a teenager. When we walked in there were about 5 biker type dudes in the place. I got a dirty look from the bartender when I ordered a Coors Light. He thought I was a dandy, while Avalon ordered a Bud. We were about to leave after 2 beers when a guitarist started warming up. It was Anton, the Russian folk singer. He is still learning English, but he was an excellent guitar player and a nice kid. Half his songs were Russian songs, and his bevvy of Russian fans (3 girls and a guy) gave him support. He reminded me of Latka when he said “thank you very much” after every song and told us we could clap. We stayed until past 1:00 am (Wildwood bars are open until 3:00 am).
  • I’m constantly amazed by the number of people with tattoos. I don’t understand why people want to have writing or pictures on their bodies. I can understand guys in the military who banded together and have tattoos of their unit or their branch of the military. But angel wings tattooed on your back? Tattooes on your face. Tattooes on every inch of your arms? Why? Is this a way for them to get noticed? Are they doing this as a last resort? I truly don’t get it.
  • The boom is truly over. Three years ago the amount of construction in Wildwood was phenomenal. Now – NONE. Nada. Zilch. There is no new construction. Prices are down 30% to 40% since 2005. Foreclosure sales and auctions are the only home sales.
  • The crowd levels seem to be down 20% from two years ago. There is no recovery happening in Wildwood. Good for me. I like it with less crowds. The fireworks on the 4th of July on the beach were awesome. Probably the best ever.
  • Tomorrow back to the grind. At least my summer commute on the Schuykill is shorter by 5 or 10 minutes.

I hope you and your families are able to take a nice vacation this year.