Ideas, idle gossip and occasionally important odds ’n’ ends… by Jack Wright
Like a lot of people, I always associated the Caribbean with, you know, paradise, though I’d never actually been there — until last week. And much of what I experienced was equal to what I had imagined — impossibly turqouise water, pristine white-sand beaches, night skies awash with stars, and lots of annoying references to “island time” (which is almost as annoying as Cape Maybe — let’s not use our location as an excuse for being a slacker).
So how come I didn’t feel like I was in paradise while taking in the attractions of St John, on the US Virgin Islands? And how come I often wondered what was going on in Cool Cape May as I slowly roasted on those glorious beaches? (I guess I wasn’t really paying proper attention when my beloved chickadee told me the UV Index was 11 while we were there, and I can promise you I will never again use spray-on sun lotion — I have the stripes to prove how ineffective that method is.)
Probably the first reason is that I don’t really get a kick out of lying on a beach all day — gets old after the first couple hours, unless you have a killer book (I did) and the sun isn’t turning your skin beet red in front of you (it was). And once you come off those beaches, I don’t think the likes of St John operates in the same league as our little seaside town when it comes to offering good things to do. The shopping was mainly mediocre, and very overpriced. There were, though, restaurants on a par with Cape May’s — funnily enough, our best meal came at a place called Rhumb Lines, which reminded me of 410 Bank Street. Especially when I looked at the menu and saw a dish devoted to 410’s legendary Chef Sing. Turns out that former 410 waiter Matt Gyuraki works at Rhumb Lines, and it was his idea to dedicate the dish.
But you couldn’t walk the streets — it’s much too hilly and the sidewalks are either too narrow or non-existent. The driving was a lot of fun, though, if you like negotiating hairpin bends with gradients so steep you think the car is going to topple backwards (which I kinda do).
I will miss one thing, though… the salty water provides so much buoyancy that it made a water clown like me look good on a standup paddleboard. By that I mean I could actually stand up on the paddleboard. Which was not the case when I made an ass of myself at Townbank beach recently, despite the expert tutelage of my friend Victor Grasso, who is almost as adept in the water as he is with a paintbrush (you have to hate that about him).
So the moral of the story? The Caribbean is great; Cool Cape May is greater.
~I never thought I would every compare the Emlen Physick Estate to Woodstock, and obviously I’m not really comparing it, but when myself and the aforementioned Grasso wondered through the grounds of that magnificent old building on Saturday, it felt like a whole new vibe had come to Cape May. For that we have to thank Michael Kline, whose new(ish) Exit 0 International Jazz Festival has been the best thing to hit town since HotDog Tommy’s Potato Tornado. And kudos also to the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts and Humanities and its longtime leader Michael Zuckerman. MAC, because it’s been around for five decades, is sometimes regarded as being a fusty old organization, but they remain tireless advocates for this city, and dovetailing their own Cape May Music Festival with the jazz festival was a master stroke and the kind of smart co-operation that sometimes is lacking in Cape May. Before Michael Kline came along, Cape May had been hosting jazz festivals for nearly 20 years, events which did a great deal to boost the town in the off-season. What Michael has done is build on that, adding a sexy dynamic that is much more inclusive. You don’t need to be a jazz geek to enjoy the sounds that were exploding all over Cape May last weekend. Kudos to all involved.
BIRD IS THE WORD: Created by Rosemary Dery