THE LAST FIVE ...

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- Wednesday, May 17, 2006

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- Friday, April 21, 2006

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- Wednesday, March 1, 2006

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101 in 1001
American Road Trip, 1998


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2000-12-11 - 23:37:27

My teeth hurt

Went to the dentist today.

Nothing special, just a cleaning and x-rays. I've had good teeth all my life, and I don't mind going to the dentist.

Only I hate it. It hurts. It wouldn't be so bad if it didn't feel like he was jamming that pointed metal instrument directly into my gums. That and he talks throughout the visit, not unlike most dentists, I imagine. But you know how it is -- he's always asking questions while you lie there with a wide-open mouth, the moisture suction tube thingy gurgling away, his hand-held mirror in one hand and the pointy metal thingy or the cleaning thingy in the other.

It's just like how waiters always ask how your food is when you've just stuffed a forkfull into your mouth.

"How is everything."

"If wfrfufl." ("It's wonderful.")

No matter how many times it happens, I still feel the need to attempt speech when I know a nod and a stuffed-cheek smile will do the job. Or a thumbs-up or OK with my free hand.

After the appointment I drove over to Asbury Park, which seems to be a Hollywood hotbed this month. In addition to a new DeNiro flick, "City By The Sea," "The Sopranos" is also filming there this week. Last season's finale featured some boardwalk scenes from Asbury Park, and I heard on the radio that they were filming on the boardwalk again, near the Howard Johnson's next to Convention Hall.

I didn't see much evidence of a filming presence, other than a few scattered film trucks, which could've been for either production. But walking down the boardwalk, I did see a group of people in one defunct cafe cleaning up from the shoot. Lights were being taken out, and although the windows facing the boardwalk were boarded up, those around the corner on the side were not, which is how I saw into the cafe.

I walk along the boardwalk in the gray gloomy winter dusk. The horizon is barely discernable in the distance as the gray fog meets the slate ocean, the two melding together as one. The waves pound the shore with winter force -- the only sound, save for the occassional car, in deserted Asbury Park. This section of town can so often resemble a ghost town.

I walk the length of the boardwalk alone, passing two men separately paused near the sand, and reach the old casino at the southern end. I turn around and see an empty boardwalk behind me, stretching all the way back to Convention Hall, an imposing building looming out over the sand, almost to the waterline.

I walk the boardwalk past old deserted shops, a defunct miniature golf course and Madame Marie's boarded booth, my feet bending some of the weathered boards along the way.

A light breeze comes off the ocean and it is a pleasant winter evening.

Back at my car, I look at the front of Convention Hall, towering above the boardwalk buildings beside it. The front, facing an open lawn, is decorated with lights and wreaths -- "GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK" spelled out across the top. Four lamp posts on the boardwalk behind HoJo's hold candy canes and red garland -- the only ones along the boards, which I take to mean as a sure sign of production. Not that the film truck and the blue Dodge pickup I now see with "The Sopranos" logo on the dash board aren't a clue.

But seeing no mobsters or movie stars, I drive off in the fading light and head home.

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