Plus Drew Toonz, the Album of the Week (Tom Waits), and local ghost tours.
Local Historians at A.C. Library
Ever wonder how Atlantic City managed to have a prevalent nightlife and entertainment scene during Prohibition? Or how Enoch “Nucky” Johnson came into his political influence? Where was Babette’s? Or what the Ritz-Carlton was really like? These questions, and more, will be answered at the Atlantic City Free Public Library on Sat., Oct. 29, from 2-4pm. Three local historians will hold an open forum for discussion and questions about the Roaring ’20s, the period in Atlantic City’s history that HBO’s hit drama series Boardwalk Empire tackles (with a little creative license). So, if you want to find out the real stories behind some of the many characters portrayed in the show, this panel discussion should be your cup of bootleg whiskey. Nelson Johnson, whose book inspired the HBO series, will be among the historians at the event. While he will focus on the politics of the 1920s, covering from Nucky Johnson’s unofficial reign over the Republican Party to Louis “Commodore” Kuehnle, who is credited with being the first leader to build a bi-partisan political machine in Atlantic City, Ralph E. Hunter, the founder and president of the African-American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey, will concentrate on the culture of Atlantic City during the time period. Hunter will focus on questions regarding the nightlife scene at the time, along with how Atlantic City was transformed into a “major city.” Allen “Boo” Pergament, a Margate resident and local historian, will focus on the history of Atlantic City, and will talk about everything from how A.C. had the world’s first Boardwalk, its first airport and its first paid lifeguards, to how Al Capone came to the resort to hobnob with other crime bosses of the era. Visit the library’s “Atlantic City Experience” Web site at atlanticcityexperience.org for more history fun. Saturday’s event is free and located at the main library in Atlantic City. — Lauren Wainwright (RELATED: Click to visit AC Weekly's Boardwalk Empire Notes page, our Local History page, and our Waltz Through Time column page.)
Ghost Tours in O.C. and A.C.
There’s no better weekend in the year to get some ghost stories on than Halloween weekend. If you’ve already seen Paranormal Activity 3, you may not realize that New Jersey’s barrier islands are famous for spooky stories and strange apparitions on the beaches. So if you want to check out some local folklore and stories, here are a couple of suggestions. First up are the Ocean City Ghost Tours, which offer tours of Ocean City starting at City Hall (8pm, Saturdays, through November, with a special added tour Sunday, Oct. 30). The tour takes you through some of the city’s best ghost sites such as the Sindia wreck spot off the beach, City Hall itself and The Flanders Hotel to name a few. Tour guides are dressed in costume and carry lanterns. The tour begins at City Hall and costs $14 for adults, $8 for children 4-12. Call 814-0199. Also, this Saturday (Oct. 29), the Absecon Lighthouse also gets its ghost on with haunted tours of the lighthouse and the lighthouse grounds. The lighthouse’s ghost stories, which center around ghostly keepers still watching the shore and even a touch of that famed non-ghost, but definitely spooky Jersey Devil, attracted the Syfy network’s Ghost Hunters show in 2010. Refreshments will be provided, including beer and wine. Reservations are required; call 449-1360. Tour times are 5pm, 6pm, 7pm & 8pm. Tickets are $20, and must be reserved. — Mike Pritchard
‘Bad as Me’ (ANTI-)
“How is it that the only ones responsible for making this mess / Got their sorry asses stapled to a goddamn desk?” Tom Waits sings on the fittingly chaotic track “Hell Broke Luce” on his new album, Bad as Me, one of the strongest efforts over the growling troubadour’s prolific and phenomenal musical journey. Although some critics claim Waits’ first new studio album in seven years is his best since the early ’80s (Bone Machine anyone?) masterworks Swordfishtrombones and Rain Dogs the album couldn’t be more relevant in today’s turbulent, war-torn, overcrowded and over-commercialized world. Plus, Waits, for the first time has found a way to let loose and combine all of the aspects of his varied career into this new collection — with his Heart of a Saturday Night-era voice crooning low, but with an urgency and maturity that screams now! Among the many new tracks, that voice is contrasted nicely with his ever-evolving croak. Meanwhile, raw, powerful and primitive percussion sounds ala Bone Machine (and Rain Dogs) combine with eerie production effects, amazing guitar riffs (especially on "Tell Me") and downright scary shit, like on the military nightmare of the aforementioned "Luce." Old pals Keef Richards, Marc Ribot, Charlie Musselwhite, David Hidalgo, Augie Meyers and Flea are among the contributors to the fantastically balanced sound (the gruff, the psychotic and the beautiful) of what should be on most Best Album lists this year. That balance is exemplified in the frantic post-modern blues, rags and rockers in the 15 song set, alongside the gorgeous ballads "Last Leaf" (with Richards singing background vocals), "New Year's Eve" and the '50s-meets-Springsteen shuffle "Tell Me." Waits' lyrics seem to be flowing out of him in the same way that Bob Dylan described when asked about writing the songs for his second of three proper albums of the '00s Modern Times.
There are too many highlights to include here, but the Greg Brown-esque closer "What's it's Like After You Die," featuring a voice we've hardly ever heard out of Waits' arsenal; a deep yelping spiritual cry. — Jeff Schwachter
Drew Toonz (See more comics here)
This article is the first of four to be published this month on ‘haunted houses’ and ghosts in the Atlantic City region, written by Amanda Hopkins.
Right around the corner from my house and just a few blocks away, 10-20 women have been meeting and working on their quilts for more than 10 years.
I’ve probably done a thousand location shoots, but none affected me more that this one. That’s because I can trace my family history back to this bawdy and tawdry period in Atlantic City’s history.
The famed seaside resort that is portrayed in HBO's hit drama series Boardwalk Empire celebrated the show's second season premiere on Sunday, Sept. 25, in a number of ways over the weekend.
“[Empire’s] helped remind people of what a colorful history we’ve had as a city, and helped bring these things back into focus for some people. And I think the fact that the series is very well regarded only helps.”
Matchless documentarian Ken Burns captures this volatile, surreal scene in his new miniseries Prohibition, which premieres Oct. 2, 3 and 4 at 8pm on PBS. The three-part, five-and-a-half-hour film explores both the forces that produced the U.S. Constitution’s 18th Amendment and ...
“The three eras that attracted me where the 1920s, the ‘50s and the ‘70s. And really HBO’s mandate was [so broad that] I literally had a huge canvass to work from.”