Wednesday, July 2, 2008

4th of July, Asbury Park

Two days from now, DJs around the states will cue up a lot of trashy Independence Day songs. One you will be lucky to stumble upon is the one I always love to hear driving around in the summer - the 4th and beyond - with the window down ... "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)."

It's just got that feel, the boardwalk, the sights and sounds. And it's got the characters, led front and center by Madam Marie, the fortune teller I didn't know was real until I saw her myself my first trip down to Asbury. I figured, like most, I'm sure, that she was as made up as Sandy was, a device or a fake name for the real fortune teller who might dare to tell fortunes better than the cops do.

Anyway, it's a great song and a great image.

Thanks to my good buddy Tronz, I learned that Madam Marie died the other day, 94 years old. The Asbury Park Press had a great little obit. Even better, I found the last interview she did, also in the Press. In that interview a couple years ago, she talks about a punk kid named Springsteen who used to come by and, as the story goes, she predicted would become famous one day. It's a great read ... and a good reason we should invest in local newspapers (imagine a blogger trying to get an interview with a 90-year-old Jersey lady who'd been telling fortunes on the boardwalk since the 1930s?).

Anyway, Marie is gone. The boardwalk probably too, maybe even Asbury Park. But the song will live and the tales will probably get taller as time passes. But that's what's great about music and storytellers like Springsteen, the legends are sometimes better than the real thing.

Speaking of which, I wandered by Marie a couple times the two days I spent down the Asbury Park boardwalk. I never went in though. First, fortune tellers really creep me out. But more importantly, I think I knew the legend would be better than the real thing.

Here's to Marie, to Sandy, to Bruce and the song.

Happy 4th.

UPDATE: Bruce posted on his own blog, check it out here. Among other things, he says "She always told me (my future) looked pretty good - she was right." Indeed.