Asbury Park Art Murals, Wooden Walls Project

The featured image at the start of this article is from 2018 and features art by Mike Shine, Porkchop, and Haculla.

I lived on the Jersey Shore from 2008 to 2020, and during that time I was a frequent visitor to Asbury Park. My town (not Asbury) already had a beach and bars. I went to Asbury for the culture: live music, record stores (Groovy Graveyard & Holdfast (RIP)), and art. In the 2000s murals began to appear around town, accompanying its rebirth and the rise of music venues like Asbury Lanes. Many of the murals were attributed to a local artist named Porktomic aka Porkchop, whose art is frequently shown at the Asbury Park art gallery Parlor Gallery. The murals amplified the total vibe of the town. There was all this great music happening, great galleries, music & antique shops, great bars, and interesting people — and the murals provided a cinematic backdrop for it all.

A mural by Porkchop on the Baronet Theatre

Photo taken in 2009. Both the mural and theater are gone.

Art on the Baronet Theater

Octopus Flapper mural by Porkchop inside the Casino building

Photo taken in 2011. This mural still exists, but it is hidden behind plywood.

Octopus lady in the Casino building.

The town and its murals attracted the attention of national artists. Around 2011, world-famous Shephard Fairey (best known for Obey Giant stickers, and the Obama Hope poster) put up murals in the boardwalk area and the Baronet Theatre wall, celebrating punk rock heroes.

Portraits of Joey Ramone, John Lydon, Joe Strummer, Glenn Danzig, Ian McKay, and Henry Rollins by Shephard Fairey (2011) on the Fastlane.

Both the mural and the Fastlane are gone.

Punk Rock greats

Wooden Walls

The Wooden Walls project was established in 2015 to bring more artists and murals to Asbury Park. Wooden Walls is responsible for murals and art projects along the boardwalk on iconic buildings like the Casino, the Stream Plant Building, the Carousel House, and some low-key wooden buildings like the Sunset Pavilion.

Now that I no longer live near Asbury Park, the murals give me a reason to return, particularly in the fall and winter when the beach crowds have diminished, and there is more time to focus and enjoy the art uninterrupted.

A mural by Pau Quintanajornet

Photo taken 2016. You can see that the artist is in the process of completing the mural. It is on the Sunset Pavillion along the north side of the boardwalk.


Boombox Saint by Dylan Egon

Photo taken 2017. It is on the Sunset Pavillion along the north side of the boardwalk.

2017 02 25 Dylan Egon

Ruthie & Andre by Porkchop

Photo taken 2017. It is on the Sunset Pavillion along the north side of the boardwalk.

2017 02 25 Mermaid

“Sea Pegasus” (my name for it) by Mike Shine

Photo taken 2017. This one is about 50 feet wide. It is on the Sunset Pavillion along the north side of the boardwalk.

A detail of a painting by Porkchop inside the Carousel Building

Photo taken 2018.


ONEQ mural on the side of the Carousel Building

Photo taken in 2019.

2019 07 15

Whimsical frog mural by Matt Crabe

Photo taken in 2023. It is on the Sunset Pavillion along the north side of the boardwalk.

2022 10 01

An OBEY sign by Shephard Fairey from 2011.

Photo taken in 2023. This mural has faded and becomes a “ghost sign”. You can see it from Ocean Avenue North.

2022 10 21

A new Octopus Flapper by Porkchop

Photo taken 2023. It is on the boardwalk’s south side and blocks the Casino entrance. Her sister is boarded up inside the Casino building.

2023 10 22

This article is part of a three-article series on Asbury Park, including Asbury Lanes (Asbury Park, NJ) The Best Years and Photos from Asbury Park, New Jersey from the 2000s.


09 29 2012 Pins

Asbury Lanes (Asbury Park, NJ) The Best Years

This story and accompanying photos represent the best of years of the Asbury Lanes bowling & music club from my personal experience from the years 2006 to 2015. No doubt you have your own experience, lore, and opinions about the Asbury Lanes — those are yours, these are mine. This story is a continuation of my story about Asbury Park.

Around 2006 my Monmouth County friends began raving about a club in Asbury Park called Asbury Lanes. It was a bowling alley where bands played on a stage erected in the center of four lanes, it also had a bar, a kick-ass DJ, and a restaurant that served sushi, grilled cheese, and tater tots. And it was a short walk to the beach — what more could you ask for? Coming off the afterglow of the culturally resonant Big Lebowski movie, the nostalgia of a post-mid-century bowling alley, combined with great music, comfort food, and comfort drinks, the Asbury Lanes was like a big hug from 50% of everything I loved.

Photo: Asbury Lanes (9/29/2012). Like most Jersey Shore businesses, the Lanes look the brunt of hurricanes, nor’easters, and rowdy humans. It was not rare to see a missing letter on the wall, a missing part of a sign, or an abandoned U.F.O. on the lawn.
09 29 2012 Asbury Lanes

Repairing the sign (5/12/2012):
05 12 2012 Asbury Lanes

I saw and heard at least 100 bands at the Lanes. Shows performed by The King Khan & BBQ Show, Peelander-Z, Quintron & Miss Pussycat, and Fancy Space People were the most memorable. The King Khan’s shows were so phenomenal and mesmerizing that people would put their phones in their pockets, and dance. This was the era when a crowd would stand still as statues and film concerts with their cell phones. When a band was so good that the phones disappeared, that was a great band.

Aside from these hyper-unique national bands, indie rock bands like Electric Six, Supersuckers, and the Horton Heat, and local favorites like The Obvious and the Ribeye Brothers played memorable shows there. (Visit for more Asbury Lanes shows).

Aside from music, The Asbury Lanes was home to the first two Asbury Park Comicons, a Big Lebowski festival, a Troma movie festival, D.J. dance contests, Sex Toy Bingo, garage sales, and many art shows curated by Lanes manager Juicy Jenn, who also co-owns the art gallery Parlor Gallery and runs the Wooden Walls mural art project.

The Door, starring the father of Milk & Cheese, Evan Dorkin (9/29/2012). This photo was taken during Asbury Park Comicon 2.
Evan Dorkin at Asbury Park Comic Con 2 09 29 2012

The Bowling Lanes (9/29/2012). A “Dutch angle” or “drunk about to fall” shot.
09 29 2012 Lanes

Pick your shoes (3/3/2012):
03 30 2013 Shoes

Bowling balls (9/29/2012). The Lanes had dozens of balls to choose from, in classic black and a myriad of spacey, swirly candy colors.
09 29 2012 Balls Blue

Disco balls (10/25/2011) are also spacey and colorful, but for floating above the lanes, not rolling down them.
10 25 2011 Disco Balls

The Bowling Pin Art Show (9/28/2008):
09 28 2008 Bowling Pin Art

Jucifer (7/27/2015) was one of the loudest bands I saw at the Lanes (I think Mr. Payday was the loudest band I’ve seen).
07 27 2015 Jucifer at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park 1

The Obvious (10/20/2009) were local favorites back in the late 2000s.
10 20 2009 The Obvious

One of the members of Peelander-Z hiding in the crowd (8/15/2010). Peelander-Z is equal parts Power Rangers, a Japanese game show, and a power-pop-punk rock band.
One of the members of Peelander Z hiding in the audience

Fancy Space People (10/25/2010). Fancy Space People are part psych-rock, glam rock, space rock, and shiny glitter body suits. Not a cult.
10 25 2011 Fancy Space People

The floor plan as I remember it from the 2006-2015 era.

Sadly, Asbury Lanes has been under new ownership and management since 2018. I have not been there since 2015.

Get wrecked

Photos from Asbury Park, New Jersey from the 2000s

This article represents my personal experience of Asbury Park. No doubt, it lacks information, contains errors and hyperbole, and does not match your personal experiences and perspectives.

In the late 1980s, I developed an obsession with music. Once I could drive, I became obsessed with seeing music shows. I collected band t-shirts, wheat-paste posters, ticket stubs, and wristbands. I met other people with these obsessions. We formed tribes and went to shows in New York City, Philly, and throughout New Jersey… Trenton, New Brunswick, and Asbury Park, a Jersey Shore town, known for its music venues. Most touring bands went from New York City directly to Philly, but on rare occasions, they took the hour detour to Asbury Park to play a gig.

Asbury Park has a rare mix of music venues that attract touring bands and the Shore (which is the total experience of New Jersey’s beaches, bays, boardwalks, boating, birding, bars, art, clubs, casinos, amusement parks, restaurants, shopping, fishing, surfing, hotels, motels, lighthouses, and any other type of fun that can be had within a narrow strip of land, sand and surf from Laurence Harbor in Raritan Bay to Fortescue Beach in Delaware Day). Over the years Asbury has had good times and bad, but it has always had a beach and for the past 50 years, at least one club (the Stone Pony).

I first discovered Asbury Park in the 1980s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that I went there for shows. Sometimes the Stone Pony, the Rock Horse, the Saint, but mostly the Fastlane aka Fast Lane 2 (I don’t know why the name changed). Over time, my brain has blended all my experiences into a single meta-experience that goes like this: a car of 4 to 5 rowdy neer-do-wells, an hour on the New Jersey Parkway, maybe tolls were paid with Necco wafers, at night, cold, fourteen degrees Fahrenheit, arrive in Asbury Park, rumble down roads that are more pothole than asphalt, park, avoid zombies, see the show, run down to the beach, run up and down the ramps of the seemingly abandoned Howard Johnson, run back to the car avoiding zombies, leave. Unlike New York City or even New Brunswick, there wasn’t much of anything to do in Asbury in the 1990s besides see a show. No murals by internationally famous artists, no groovy record shops, no pizza joints or dive bars, no pinball arcades — not even a place to get a coffee for the long drive home. In the early 1990s, there were just a few music clubs, the smell of the sea, the crash of waves, the CLANG CLANG CLANG of the dangling beams of the rusting skeleton of uncompleted construction, and looming, massive and lifeless buildings like Berkeley Hotel, the Convention Center and the Casino. Everything seemed to crumble, rust, mold, pool, peel, flake, gasp, and occasionally scream.

Madam Marie’s (4/29/2006). I’m pretty sure she’s been around forever.
Madam Marie's

I don’t know why, but in the early 2000s, Asbury started to change. Friends started talking about a new club called the Asbury Lanes (which needs its own article), a hybrid bowling alley/punk rock club/diner next to the Fastlane. Businesses opened up on the boardwalk and in the Convention Center, local artists decorated the town the murals, and ALL my friends were excited to go there — not just the punk rockers. The town still looked rough and rusty, but for every ounce of cynicism there was an ounce and a half of hope, and the town changed.

“The Debris by the Sea” (4/29/2006). This sentiment changed over time, and in different ways for different people.
where the debris meets the sea

This is the wreckage of a large building by the oceanfront that was never completed. 4/29/2006.

If my memory is correct, this scrap pile was the second attempt at a building in this location.

This is The Stone Pony, with the Phillips Seaview Tower in the distance (4/29/2006).
Stone Pony

Both are essentially the same as of 2023. The Pony is about as no-frills as you can get. As long as I can remember it has been a single-floor stone building painted white. It has a stage inside and outside. It has clean bathrooms with a guy who will help you dry your hands.

This is The Casino, viewed from the neighboring town Ocean Grove (4/29/2006). Over the past 20 or so years the Casino houses art murals by local artists Porkchop and Bradley Hoffer and serves as a portal between Ocean Grove and Asbury Park.
Asbury Park Casino

What I see is brick, molded concrete, oxidized iron and copper, plywood, and the cover of the Bruce Springsteen album inspired by the town, Greetings from Asbury Park.

This part of the Casino building was demolished… probably because it was falling apart and too close to the sea.
Asbury Park Casino

“LIQUOR” Building (1/25/2006). It was blown up on 12/31/2009. I think it was at the end of Cookman.
Liquor Building

Though it looks like an ancient temple, this Asbury Park Steam Plant building powered the automated boats of Wesley Lake (4/29/2006):
Tower of sacrifice

And this might be what it looks like inside (10/29/2010):

This is the box office of the Baronet Theatre (3/29/2009). The Baronet was next to the Fastline 2 aka the Fast Lane, a music club, which was next to the Asbury Lanes.
Baronet Theatre
More about the Baronet Theatre.

This was the alley between the Fastlane and the Baronet Theatre (10/16/2008). There was a couch wedged in there and sometimes people wedged in there.
the space between the Fastlane and the Baronet

This is a photo of Asbury Lanes from 10/29/2010. Not sure what happened to the bowling pin sign. Hurricane Earl? Read more about it: Asbury Lanes (Asbury Park, NJ) The Best Years.
Asbury Lanes

2006 to 2015 was my favorite era of Asbury Park. It had a perfect mix of music venues, art, bars, multiple record shops, and a place or two to get coffee. Now (2023) it’s not quite as perfect, but it’s still worth visiting once a month or so. If you do go, I recommend the art murals by the boardwalk, Parlor Gallery (art), Groovy Graveyard (records), Silverball Museum (arcade games & pinball), and Bond Street Bar.

More to read:

An insightful article about the Wonderbar and the early 2000s era of Asbury Park.

Setlists for the Fastlane.

New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge

The Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey is the closest thing New Jersey has to the Cannonball Run. You have two days to visit 10 land-based lighthouses, 3 life-saving stations, and 1 museum. At each location, you collect a souvenir (postcards, pressed pennies). Collect all the souvenirs and you win. If you plan your trip well, you can do it in one day. If you take your time, tour each museum, and climb each lighthouse, you will need both days — in fact, you might not make it if you spend too much time enjoying each location.

Bring extra money for souvenirs and donations for each lighthouse. Most lighthouses feature collectible pins commemorating the location.

I took the Challenge in 2019 with my friend Cat, an expert tourist & photographer. We took breaks to take photos of New Jersey landmarks, like Wildwood’s neon signs, gleaming chrome diners, and oddities like the cement champagne bottle in New Gretna.

I think I could have completed 2022 in one day if I hit the first location at 9 am, instead of 1:50 pm. If you can find out when each location opens or closes, and you start at either Sandy Hook or Tinicum, you can make it. The hardest part is having to navigate tiny shore towns with 25mph roads, then drive back to a major highway, and then back into a tiny shore town. The Jersey Shore is like a fractal with seemingly infinite twists and turns to get around bays, rivers, inlets, swamps, and places where the road just stops.

The Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey is worth taking, whether you just want to challenge yourself & our vehicle, you want to experience New Jersey shore history, or you just want to spend a few fun days with friends.

Tinicum Rear Range Light (Paulsboro):

I finished 2019 at this location and started there in 2022. This lighthouse is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. It is worth climbing for the views of Philly and the surrounding industrial & shipping areas. It looks more like a cannon than a lighthouse.

Tinicum Rear Range Light

Finns Point Range Light (Pennsville):

This lighthouse is across the Delaware River from Wilmington, Delaware. Like Tinicum, it looks like a cannon or smokestack.

Finns Point Range Light

East Point Lighthouse (Heislerville):

East Point faces Delaware Bay with Cape May to its east. It’s relatively short for a lighthouse and is in danger of shore erosion. Maybe it should be lifted a story if the ground beneath it can support that. This location is the hardest to find parking.

East Point Lighthouse

Cape May Lighthouse (Cape May):

One of the four (Cape May, Absecon, Barnegat, Sandy Hook) lighthouses that look like a classic lighthouse: tall, white with some color and a light at the top. This lighthouse is the toughest to get to because of the maze-like, 15mph local roads.

Cape May Lighthouse

Tatham Lifesaving Station (Stone Harbor):

I ended day 2 of 2022 at this location. I spend an hour here checking out their lighthouse & war museum and historical murals painted by a guy named Thomas.

Tatham Lifesaving Station

U.S. Lifesaving Station 30 (Ocean City):

I ended day 1 of 2022 at this location and then spent the rest of the day on the Ocean City boardwalk, which was still open. I got some of the saltwater taffy, thick-cut fries, and coconut macaroons that Ocean City is famous for. I should have gotten some pizza, but pizza is a gamble when you have a 2-hour drive home.

U.S. Lifesaving Station 30

Absecon Lighthouse (Atlantic City):

A classic lighthouse.

Absecon Lighthouse

Tuckers Island Light (Long Beach):

This one, I believe, is a replica. It features a museum and a gift shop.

Tuckers Island Light

Barnegat Lighthouse (Barnegat):

Maybe the best-looking Lighthouse in New Jersey (arguably Sandy Hook is more interesting).

Barnegat Lighthouse

Barnegat Light Museum (Barnegat):

Look for the seagull note where it sits.

Barnegat Light Museum

Squan Beach Lifesaving Station (Manasquan):

The antenna next door is impressive, as are the dedications on some of the benches surrounding the building. This one is a lifesaving station, which housed men and boats for saving people from shipwrecks.

Squan Beach Lifesaving Station

Sea Girt Lighthouse (Sea Girt):

Another of the short lighthouses.

Sea Girt Lighthouse

Navesink Twin Lights (Highlands):

This one is impressive in form and worth climbing for the view of Sandy Hook & Sea Bright. It looks like a military fortress. It is difficult to get a nice photo featuring both towers in the same photo. Parking is limited and the winding drive up to the lighthouses is a single-lane road.

Navesink Twin Lights

Sandy Hook Lighthouse (Highlands):

I started 2019 here. I think its shape makes the Sandy Hook Lighthouse the most interesting lighthouse in New Jersey. The entire Sandy Hook park is a former military area with forts, cannons, and missile launch pads. It’s worth visiting during the spring and summer.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse

Laurence Harbor Beach, yesterday and today

I visited Laurence Harbor Beach, (New Jersey) on 12/30/2022. Unfortunately, it was high tide, so beach combing was “slim pickings”.

Laurence Harbor Beach today:
Laurence Harbor Beach

Here’s a postcard from the first half of the 20th century of the same beach:
Laurence Harbor Beach

Laurence Harbor is good for rounded brick chunks, bathroom tiles, and bay-tumbled stones. There is also some nice gneiss, but it is part of the sea wall, so don’t remove it. The sea wall at Laurence Harbor needs to be rebuilt. There’s a lot of erosion.

Finding nothing interesting on Laurence Harbor beach…

As usual, beach combing on Cliffwood Beach was better for beach combing. Neither beach is good for sea shells, but they’re good for weird rocks and human debris (old coins, bricks, railroad spikes, ceramic electrical insulators):

Green basalt with crystals:
Green Basalt

Ironstone with an interesting pattern:

Cliffwood Beach used to have cliffs made of prehistoric wood & amber

Cliffwood Beach, a community in Aberdeen, New Jersey, used to have cliffs made of prehistoric wood called lignite & amber. The cliffs have been covered with rock and concrete to prevent erosion, but if you’re patient, you’ll eventually find some lignite, marcasite, and even amber on the shore. Other than lignite and marcasite, I’ve found siderite, fossils, blue crystals, jasper, green basalt, almost-clear quartz pebbles, and human artifacts like electrical insulators and old bricks. Unlike the New Jersey beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, Cliffwood Beach is a beach of Raritan Bay. Don’t expect big waves, a boardwalk, or the cast of the Jersey Shore. Do expect some interesting rocks and artifacts.

Mindat page for Cliffwood Beach.

Lignite with Maracasite:
Lignite with Maracasite

Whale Creek
Whale Creek

Cliffwood Beach: plenty of rocks, clay, and old iron from buildings and boats.
Cliffwood Beach

Iron-stained quartz:
Iron-stained quartz


Lucy the Elephant

Margate New Jersey’s Lucy the Elephant

New Jersey prides itself on its weirdness, whether that be cultural, architectural, historical, or cryptological weirdness. There’s a magazine devoted to it: Weird NJ. We have a hockey team called the Jersey Devils, named after a mythological demonic chimera that torments the Pine Barrens.

But why?

New Jersey might be “weird” because is not an easy place in which to live — it’s ridiculously expensive, it’s polluted, it’s unforgiving, and I’m guessing the first human to be called an “asshole” was born here — the Garden State grows more of them than tomatoes, blueberries, and corn combined. Perhaps weirdness is both a product of and a refuge from the harshness of Jersey. I also think that a lot of what we Jersians label as “weird”, might actually be perfectly normal — we just call it weird as a defense mechanism to keep the assholes at bay.

I scoured Roadside America’s New Jersey page (Doug Kirby used to live in Jersey, btw) and my own memory, for the roadside attraction in Jersey that is both weird and magnificent. Something you might travel from another state to see. My answer is Margate City, New Jersey’s Lucy the Elephant (9200 Atlantic Ave, Margate City, NJ).

A square photo of Lucy:

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy is a stunningly beautiful, 65 feet tall statue of an elephant that spends her days admiring the Atlantic ocean. She has lovely painted nails. You can visit her at her home in Margate City. You can take a tour, climb through her insides, ride her back, and get the best view of the beach and sea in town. She’s so wonderful that it pains me to call her “weird”, but since “normal” on the Jersey Shore is a beige condo complex or a gaudy McMansion (with too many “voids”), weird is a compliment.

I was working on my “bucket list” on the 31st of March and realized that I’d never seen Lucy in the flesh. I thought “I can check this one off my list today”, entered my vehicle, and steered toward Margate City.

You have to pay a toll (“the Downbeach Express”) to get into and out of Lucy’s hometown. E-ZPass won’t work, so bring 4 singles. Seeing Lucy for the first time was an experience. Not cathartic, but definitely worth the trip — worth bringing others with you. There are a plethora of souvenirs to purchase — stuffed elephants, t-shirts, mugs, keychains, pens, candies — I got a fridge magnet.

I recommend stopping by the Margate Dairy Bar & Burger for a snack while you’re in town.

Lucy’s Toes (on fleek):

Lucy the Elephant’s Painted Toenails

A water tower featuring Lucy:

Lucy Watertower

It wouldn’t be New Jersey, without an asshole:

Lucy's rear end