By Alex Distefano
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I also learned that njguido.com's message board can be a little scary, and not in the fun way. Typical postings include a girl lamenting her boyfriend's "ghey" voice, or another poster who declared, in an otherwise uncontroversial DJ set-list thread, that "orlando is nothing but spics and shifty niggers, might as well just hang out on delancy (sic) st."
Those posts were almost as scary as the two dudes at Seaside manning the paintball booth called "Shoot Osama bin Laden," who saw me taking pictures and urged me to come over. They were strangely disturbing, especially the guy in paint-splattered military gear. "I can get the mask," he said in a creepy monotone, producing an oversize Osama bin Laden mask, slipping it on, and helpfully standing still while I shot at him. (Pictures!) I left just as Osama's partner was shouting "Shoot Osama! It's the only place you can shoot his ass!" to passersby.
Crazy! But I was still looking for a different kind of crazy at the Jersey Shore, and eventually found it. For my driver's license-less self, it was a liquored-up New Yorker's dream: walking distance from the house. It was called Used-To-Be's, because, yes, as a bartender explained, it used to be several other places before it was Used-To-Be's.
I knew upon enteringand paying the $5 coverthat my cousin Jeff and I had struck Fly Lifegoes-to-theJersey Shore gold. How did I know this? Because there was a man playing guitar, accompanied by a blonde, presumably drunk woman singing an off-key version of "Living on a Prayer," a tune by my teenage self's very favorite band, Bon Jovi. This was quickly followed by a truly awful, unlistenable, but awesomely fantastic version of "Wanted (Dead or Alive)."
The man playing the guitar turned out to be a guy named Rich Meyer. He passed out bumper stickers bearing his slogan: "One Man, One Guitar, One Good Time." A quick hop to richmeyer.com revealed that Rich has mapped out the perfect life: He summers at the Jersey Shore, and winters at the ski lodges in Vermont. One can only imagine he's a professional guitar-playing surf-and-ski bum. Rich Meyer, I salute you.
He serenaded the crowda mix of barely-21 frat-and-sorority types buzzing on their big night out and ladies of a certain age from the 'hood getting their own swerve onwith vintage bar favorites, some of them a little too vintage. One of the ladies helpfully explained why the crowd couldn't sing along to the relatively simple chorus of Mentor Williams's "Drift Away": "They're too young to know this song!" We were also serenaded with renditions of (someone please take the mic away from the blonde woman already!) "Centerfold," "Summer of 69," and "Sweet Home Alabama." However, points were docked for not playing any Springsteen while we were there. No Springsteen in a Jersey bar? Now that's really crazy!