Amy Hill Hearth on The Cape

In May, I wrote a piece for Philadelphia magazine about the astonishing story behind The Cape, by Charles Whitecar Miskelly — a manuscript that had languished in a closet for 50 years until Cape May-based Exit Zero published it in July. The Cape tells the tale of John McJack, a 1600s shipwreck survivor who becomes part of the Lenni-Lenape tribe that lived in southern New Jersey where Cape May is today — but the story of how Miskelly, who never finished high school, managed to write such an accurate and stunning book is still a mystery. (You can read chapter one here.)

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5 Ways to Play Hooky Down the Shore Next Week

These are the days when summer lovers start to panic: The first few leaves have fallen, hoodies are being pulled out of closets, and, even though we’re still having humid days, they don’t torture as much as they did in July because the sun doesn’t burn as bright. Fall is coming, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

But not all is lost. We still have one week until Labor Day Weekend. If you’re looking to play hooky for a day and soak up as much summer as you can next week, here are five ways you can enjoy one more gasp of summer at the Jersey Shore.
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Why Bad News for Shore Tourism Is Good News For You

Some not great news out of the South Jersey Shore this week — though that could mean a good deal for you, especially the procrastinators.

In a recent interview with Shore News Today, Diane Weiland, Cape May County Director of Tourism, said that tourism numbers are down 10 to 20 percent.

But let’s not put all the blame on Sandy. Remember when it rained just about every single day in June? That threw a big wet blanket on the Jersey Shore. As much as we like to mock Shoobies, those day trippers do drop cash while they’re in town before they leave.

How is this a good deal for you?

Strathmere | Photos: Jen A. Miller

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Will U.S. Casinos Adopt an Algorithm That Could Identify Problem Gamblers?

Harvard researchers have come up with an algorithm that could identify problem gamblers. But will we see this being used to help gamblers who frequent area casinos anytime soon? I doubt it, not when casinos make so much money off addicts.

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal reported on new tool that could flag possible problem gamblers through data obtained by a casino loyalty card. Using what Sarah Nelson, a Harvard Medical School professor, calls the “Sports Bettor Algorithm 1.1,” researchers can identify who might have a gambling problem by looking at “risky betting patterns such as intensive play over long periods of time, significant shifts in behavior or chasing losses — betting more heavily in an attempt to recoup prior losses,” according to the WSJ. The algorithm has already been tested on data provided by government-run casinos outside the U.S.

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New Jersey Has Had Just About Enough of Your Medical Waste

Here we go again. New Jersey’s getting a black eye because of another state’s waste management problems.

On Friday, 36 syringes washed up on the shores if Island Beach State Park, according to the Asbury Park Press.

Is this trash from New Jersey? Most likely not, says the Environmental Protection Department. Their best guess right now is that it washed down from New York.

But will we take the brunt of this? Of course.

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New Yorker Calls for Retreat From the Jersey Shore Barrier Islands. Easy for the New Yorker to say.

On Monday, I drove to Seaside Park to visit a friend who’s staying there this summer. For the last six years, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about the Southern Jersey Shore, which I consider Atlantic City to Cape May. This was my first time seeing this part of our coast not via pictures of post-Sandy damage.

Seaside isn’t one town. It’s a cluster of towns that share part of the same name, just like we have Wildwood, North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest instead of one Wildwood at the South Jersey Shore.

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Let’s Ban Smoking at the Shore!

On a recent Sunday at the PATCO station at 9th-10th and Locust, five people were waiting for a train to New Jersey. At the same exact moment, four of us turned our heads in the same direction. One passenger had lit a cigarette in a place where smoking is not allowed.

Soon, hopefully, this will be the same reaction to anyone who lights up on the beaches of the Jersey Shore, where cigarette butts make up the number one type of debris

A new proposed bill would ban smoking in all New Jersey state parks, beaches and wildlife management areas, making one blanket policy for everyone to follow. It’s about time for New Jersey, which in 2006 became the 11th state to ban indoor smoking.

Right now, we have a patchwork of laws and ordinances when it comes to the shore. A few examples: In Seaside Park, smoking is banned on all beaches and boardwalks. Long Branch and Sunset Beach in Cape May County are also smoke free. Smoking is banned on the boardwalk in Belmar, and on sections of its beaches. Harvey Cedars and Ship Bottom have banned beach smoking while lifeguards are on duty. Ocean City has designated smoking areas on its boardwalk. Cape May tried to pass an beach smoking ban in 2012, but the proposal was shot down by the argument that it would hurt tourism.

I don’t buy that. Belmar saw a 17.6% jump in beach tag sale the year after it restricted smoking on its beaches. I heard similar shrill scare tactics in advance of New Jersey’s 2006 indoor smoking ban, and that didn’t quite pan out. The big exemption is casinos, but that’s a mountain too big to climb right now, given that the state continues to throw good money after bad in Atlantic City, and too many politicans think that allowing one addiction to feed into another is going to inject new life into our flailing gambling halls. (I hope Revel enjoys the new cleaning bills on all that gorgeous white, textured wall art that’s going to turn yellow now that they allow smoking.)

Banning smoking on our beaches and in our parks, however, is a no-brainer, especially given that 85% of adults don’t smoke.

There’s no upshot to smoking. None. Not for smokers (the risks here are obvious), non-smokers (second hand smoke is a carcinogen), or for the beaches onto which the butts are thrown, where kids digging in the sand can pick them up and stick them in their mouths. Now that smoking is banned from bars, restaurants and malls (yes, I remember when shoppers could smoke in the Deptford Mall), the smell is more pungent where it does still live. I sure can smell a cigarette lit on the beach. We’re more sensitive to that smell now that it’s banned in so many places, which is why all four of us simultaneously whipped our heads toward the offender in that PATCO station that Sunday morning.

Smokers already schlep outside in all sorts of weather if they want to smoke while at a bar. They’ll do the same to a designated area if we ban smoking on beaches. If they want to destroy their lungs, they, of course, can go right ahead and do it together in a defined space. They don’t need to hurt me and New Jersey’s biggest tourism asset at the same time.

Main Line U.S. Open-Haters Incorrectly Referring to Visitors as “Shoobies”

A funny thing happened on the way to the U.S. Open.

As practice rounds kicked off on Monday, a few Pennsylvania residents took to Twitter to yell about “shoobies” gumming up traffic on their way to Merion.

Nice try, guys. But that’s not your word. Read more »

You Can’t Police Wildwood Boardwalk Style

Oh dear Wildwood, you’re at it again.

Officials of the South Jersey Shore town are proposing a ban on baggy pants  on the boardwalk, and also a requirement that boardwalk patrons wear a shirt between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. and shoes at all times. The vote will be on June 12.

This is stupid.

Have you ever been to the Wildwood boardwalk on a Friday or Saturday night? It’s strutting ground for teenage peacocks, the girls covered in whatever fashions People Style magazine are promoting as hot this month, while guys have stuck to the same uniform for the last 20 years: white muscle tanks and shorts. The baggy thing is just a more recent development. Read more »

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