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Double Wide Oceanside

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As I come within spitting distance of my 45th birthday, I really can’t help but wonder about my life and how it might compare with others my age. Is anyone who’s 45 today really living the life they thought they would have 25 years earlier at the ripe age of 20? Below I’ve detailed about fives hours of my life from this past Saturday, a very small snippet of all my years so far, but I believe that I have a very unusual life.

Following my fifth workout of that week, for the fifth week straight, and now ready to celebrate two off days in a row, we decide to visit Jack Mackerel’s Island Grill in Kure Beach for lunch; barely a mile away from our little beach rental. During the quick trip to the restaurant, we pause to take in some of the new “for rent” signs on a few of the homes and trailers along the way. We are in the process of negotiating a rent-to-own agreement with the current owners of our duplex two blocks from the beach. While things seem to be moving in the right direction (progress!) with negotiations, there is still a possibility that our rental term will end in April and we’ll find ourselves temporarily homeless. Driving south from Carolina Beach to Kure Beach there is an odd combination of million dollar oceanfront homes adjacent to $40,000 trailers dropped on lots decades ago – almost all of which are in Carolina Beach. Kure Beach is cleaner, consistent and very AARP. As we contemplate our various housing possibilities, I remind my wife of a new term I’ve adopted since living in Carolina Beach; Double Wide Oceanside. I go on to suggest that just as we use to be “broadcasting live from a bonus room over the garage” for 80s Airwaves, back in Wisconsin, when I win that third of a billion dollars on Powerball tonight, my new country/surf/reggae radio station will broadcast live from a “Double Wide Oceanside”. Welcome to the Redneck Riviera!

As has become a new habit for our weekend lunches at Jack’s, we begin with the Jack’s Punch – an exciting blue boat drink that comes with an unnecessary yet attractive orange slice. This greases the rails for frank discussion about what to do with the third of a billion that’s just waiting for the mere formalities of drawing bouncing balls and then writing an oversized check in my name. We determine pretty quickly over our hummus platter (highly recommended) that our wants are really pretty narrow: eliminate debt, once again (getting out of Connecticut did not come cheap), buy a home on Cape Cod, get a decent size boat that would allow us to swiftly travel from Carolina Beach up to Cape Cod or out to the Bahamas or potentially even down to Cuba, once it’s legal, of course. I don’t know ANYONE who would travel to Cuba these days. And finally, we would travel often, beyond the boat that is. There’s lots to see and do and as I’ve said at least four times, you won’t know if you don’t go. Aimee would of course keep doing her personal training via Skype thing and I would launch Double Wide Oceanside as a local/global radio station for our little Carolina Beach island community (and the one million tourists who visit our burned-out boardwalk every season).

After decimating my medium-rare BBQ Burger, along with a pair of Rolling Rocks (just $2 on Saturday’s!) we start our journey north to Wilmington. We’ve agreed to visit our new artist friend Drew during the “Art for All” show set for the Brooklyn Arts Center (BAC) on Fourth street in ILM. During the drive I outline a strange need to have outdoor movies again. While living in Wisconsin we had several nighttime, neighborhood bonfires where I set-up a projector borrowed from work, along with a portable DVD player and some wireless speakers and a long-ass power cord and we would show movies on the side of a neighbors shed. I’ve even used the back of my large 80s Airwaves vinyl banner as a screen, hanging from two fiberglass ladders, purchased especially for this outdoor movie purpose. But as per usual, I focus on naming/branding/domains first… The city of Carolina Beach already does free “family” movies in the park during tourist season. But I want something for adults – I want to show The Shining or Jaws or Zombieland on a rooftop somewhere or on the north end beach (Freeman Park) at 11pm at night. After running through a few name combinations, Aimee mentions “Zombie Surf Cinema” – which I think I like best.

Then our casual car conversation turns serious. The day before, I had left late in the morning to visit with Rich, the executive director of the same Brooklyn Arts Center we were now traveling to. My meeting was a follow up to an email I had sent them, which was a follow up to an email I had sent to the management team of The English Beat (and lead singer Dave Wakeling). Those of you who’ve followed my Twitter account or are friends of mine on Facebook know what a fan of Ska music I am and the many times we’ve seen The English Beat while living in CT. Now I have made it my mission to bring the Beat to Wilmington, come hell or high water. Unlike the larger surrounding cities of Charlotte, Raleigh or Myrtle Beach, Wilmington has a number of pubs, clubs and event spaces for concerts, but is usually passed-by the larger national musical tours. My goal is to change that, singlehandedly if necessary, starting with The Beat. And there are really two places to host such an event with about 200-400 of my new closest friends: the Soapbox Laundro-lounge (a combination of trendy night club and functional laundromat) or the BAC. My hour-long Friday meeting with Rich is highly informative and sheds new light on the concert event business that I’ve never known despite several years in radio and attending well over 100 concerts personally. Rich takes me on a personal tour of his 125 year old church that has been turned into a “world-class concert venue”. His quote, not mine, but I believe him. A week earlier Third-Eye Blind entertained over 700 Wilmingtonians in this same room.

But now reality was setting in for my usually highly supportive wife. She had begun asking questions on Friday afternoon about how many tickets needed to be sold, what kind of marketing had to be done, who pays for those things, where does the money come from and why do I need to be involved. All very good questions, and now, a day later, I am reminded of the serious financial state we are in. That as nice as it would be to bring The Beat to Wilmington, if its going to cost us thousands, we may as well travel four hours to Charlotte and see them the Saturday before (March 24th). Further discussion ensues but I am successful at postponing any promises or commitments until she actually experiences the BAC first hand for the art show that day.

Lucky for me, immediately after paying our cover charge to view Wilmington’s best local artists, wine and beer is available just inside the door. Beyond easing the tension between people and their pocketbooks, my new friend Rich is likely capturing 100% of this “net bar”. I provide a rough duplication of the tour for my wife that Rich graciously gave me the day before, but now with much more to see and do. I show her the upstairs “VIP” balcony where I would charge $50 per ticket for up to 50 people who want a “top-down” vantage point of the show (Republicans who can’t dance or be seen sweating) along with their own personal bartenders. I take her backstage – actually it’s more a side stage. Actually, it’s really side HOUSE, because a narrow passage way takes you to a 100+ year old house which functions as the dressing room(s) for the bands lucky enough to play the BAC. From the floor I point up to the beautifully draped cathedral ceilings and explain the LED lighting system that allows us to set the mood and color of the neutral drapes quickly and easily. And I also show her the back courtyard; an ideal space for a pre-show party or potentially even a separate event that might combine food and music for hundreds for a separate ticket price. Or maybe a meet and greet for the VIP ticket holders… The concert opportunities are endless and the wife seems duly impressed.

We venture back to meet up with our new artist friend Drew (“Andrew”, as his mother and father named him properly). I had been bothering Drew, in various states of drunken stupor, for months to paint an homage to Hunter Thompson for me. While he clearly doesn’t want to do commission work, he is a big fan of HST and, as it turns out today, is wearing a yellow t-shirt with a Ralph Steadman portrait of the good doctor. After our initial hello and discussion of his shirt – where I intentionally do NOT bring up wanting him to do an HST painting – he’s actually in the process of selling Rich and his wife one of his works. Something about UFO’s and Rich’s connection between his in-laws and UFO’s. Not sure I made the connection while downing my Yuengling tall-boy, but I’m happy to see Drew as a successful artist at this show. The social drink and artistic atmosphere seems to be working its effects on us as well, as we purchase a special rendition of the “Screamer” that Drew created last year. While we still aren’t even sure if we’ll have walls to hang it on three months from now, at least we’ll have something very cool and unique to hang in our tent. The wild canines that roam the North End beaches are certain to appreciate Drew’s work.

As we bid our friends adieu, fifty dollars poorer and slightly more spirited than when we started, we decide that heading back to the island doesn’t make sense given that we are already in downtown Wilmington. Intending to visit The Cellar, a pub that’s successfully eluded our hours of operation with theirs, we decided to hangout for a bit at the Pour House. After much discussion about Zombie movies and TV shows with a few of the local patrons/staff, and the Run For Your Life 5k zombie marathon, we stumble further down the block to discover that the Cellar still isn’t open. I remember that Orton’s pool hall, famous for being a part of Wilmington’s Haunted Pub Crawl (because it’s haunted) and because it was home to the pool table where Willie Mosconi set a world record run of pool balls (300+ I believe) has reopened. Late last year the place was closed due to “remodeling” and I am quickly disappointed to discover that remodeling included the removal of Willies world record pool table. Hopefully they didn’t remove the ghosts here as well. Is there a Ghostbusters franchisee in Wilmington? Aimee and I shoot some free pool and down another drink before making our way back to our little island home.

So now, after spending nearly 2,000 words describing roughly five hours of my life, I need to ask any forty-something friends: What the hell? Does your life resemble this in anyway? Are you having conversations about creating strange new radio stations, rent-to-own agreements for beach condos, screening zombie movies on rooftops or first time concert promotions with your spouse? I’m certainly not looking to live a “normal” life, but at the same time, this outside perspective seems a bit out there.

By the way, what are you doing on Sunday, March 25th?
I may have a great concert that you will not want to miss!


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