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4th of July, Asbury Park: A History of the Promised Land by Daniel Wolff

By Daniel Wolff

"Wonderfully evocative…a grand, unhappy tale of racism and actual property, political hardball and seashore pleasure-seeking."―A.O. Scott, New York instances publication Review

When Bruce Springsteen known as his first album Greetings from Asbury Park, he brought a new release of fanatics to a fallen beach hotel city that got here to symbolize working-class American existence. beginning with the town's founding as a non secular promised land, track journalist and poet Daniel Wolff plots a direction via Asbury Park's a hundred thirty years of entwined social and musical historical past, in a narrative that captures all of the attract and heartbreak of the yankee dream.

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Extra resources for 4th of July, Asbury Park: A History of the Promised Land

Example text

Then, some movement catching his eye, he glances to the side. Baker has stripped down, too. Imitating his boss, he's lying at the edge of the water, the ocean lapping his body. " Nothing obviously important has happened. Two men lie side by side in the dark as the ocean crashes before them. But something about the moment so burnt itself into the white man's consciousness that fifteen years later, when Asbury Park is a prosperous tourist town and Bradley decides to write a short history of it, this bathing incident takes up one of only thirteen paragraphs.

When Springsteen sang about driving the circuit— down Kingsley Avenue and back up Ocean— we were with him, steering with one hand, nonchalant. We knew the backstreets, the darkness at the edge of town. And that's because Asbury Park never existed. At the peak of its popularity, in the early twentieth century, it wasn't really a city at all but an amusement. The economy was driven by spectacle: one hundred thousand people showing up to watch the annual Baby Parade, where hundreds of toddlers dressed up as adults and competed in a kind of miniature Miss America.

That's because it's following the idea of the place: the changes in meaning. How the Methodist dream became a stronghold of the Ku Klux Klan. How the principles of capitalism were rooted in the Mob. " The specifics are the story, and Asbury Park is a unique place. But this isn't just a local history. The brand of Northern racism that characterizes Asbury Park is only exceptional to the degree that it was publicly debated and held up as a national example. Other characteristics that seemed to set the nineteenth-century resort town apart became, in the twentieth century, commonplace.

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