You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
You can scroll the shelf using ← and → keys
Welcome, one and all, to upperWETside — “just another blog on WordPress,” or at least it was until we changed the header a few moments ago.
As we’ve taken pains to point out, we’re dealing here with the Upper Wet Side of Down the Shore — that’s the “wetside” of New Jersey; that spongey shangri-la that lies east of the GS Parkway and runs north-south from about, say, the abandoned Amboys Multiplex to about, say, an old-timey ice cream parlor on Long Beach Island. But it goes beyond simple geographics — the UPPER wet side’s a Permanent Staycation and a state of mind; an attitude more townie than tourist, more year-round culture vulture than migrating snowbird, more dirty-stayout than day-stay tripper.
Put another way, we’re that thin blurred line between the equally tiresome poles of Jackass and Douchebag — and we’re elitist as hell about it.
“We” being, in an editorial way, your servant Tom Chesek — longtime arts/entertainment correspondent and critic for the Gannett NJ Newspapers (Asbury Park Press, Home News Tribune) and websites; regular contributor to the pixelated pages of redbankgreen; slightly shady publicity guy and the kind of freeloading freelancer who’s pretty much driven “normal” people away from most area coffee shops. Aging hipster, lapsed capitalist, cynical media mutt, shameless namedropper, welfare snob, party crasher par excellence and interviewer extraordinaire — this is what we are, and nobody but nobody does it better.
You might also have stumbled across us, in print or in person, as the editor of Red Bank oRBit, a (now-defunct) site that we worked the whee out of between summer 2008 and the early spring of 2010. A slick and colorful repository for up-to-the-minute local entertainment news, calendar listings and people-oriented features on the music, theater, art, film and literary events going on around Monmouth County’s most happening haunts, oRBit quickly made a name for itself through its comprehensive updates, its lovingly punning perspective and its deep-dish interviews with everyone from international restaurateurs to roller derby queens; sex workers to symphony musicians; Ralph Nader to Howie Mandel; US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky to Jackie the Joke Man. This new endeavor picks up where oRBit left off — with a wider patch of turf, a more freewheeling and uncensored attitude, and a commitment to the glorypower of the WORD that’s more unfashionable than ever in blogland. It’s simply us doing what we do, whatever that may be.
So, if you’re looking for a fresh, fun and informative take on the cultural landscape in this neck of the weeds — the SOUNDS and the SCREENS; the STAGES and the SCENES; the SIGHTS on the gallery walls and the SYLLABLES that tumble from an author’s mouth between inhales of muenster and merlot — well, we don’t mind telling you nobody does that better either. Let other sites have their slideshows of drunks hoisting Silver Bullets; their regurgitated press releases and their aggregated bunny-pellets of instantly obsolete UnFo. And let upperWETsidebe your place to go for passionately playful coverage, for the Shore lifer’s point of view and for the sort of Q&A interviews that almost nobody seems to have room for these days.
We’ll also feature daily STAYCATION tips — completely biased of course, and free of commercial considerations — on that day’s doings and events. We expect at some point we’ll be instituting a formal calendar feature; audio and video posts, and we’ve even taken the time to archive some of the best of the stories that appeared on the old oRBit site within the past few years. Beyond that, we’re just making it up as we go along — which is as it should be — and we invite any of you who share our general outlook to suggest and contribute stories. You will not be paid; a fact that actually makes us competitive with some of the biggest names in online media.
A word about the look and functionality of upperWETside. We’ve formatted this dingus within the recently introduced WordPress “theme” known as Shelf, a Premium offering that we see as a fun (and long-overdue) alternative to the standard pile-up design that’s made the whole notion of a “blog” almost as dinosaur as the daily newspaper. This is something different; a display of self-contained features that are navigated on a horizontal slide — something that especially makes sense when viewed on a phone or tablet, as more and more of us are doing these days. In fact, we’ve even made available the option of experiencing upperWETside in a version that’s specially formatted for iPad users — complete with a “blavatar” (Kappy the Keansburg pig, an Upper Wet Side icon rivaling Tillie or Evil Clown) that displays on your home page, so it launches and works just like what the kids are calling an “app.”
Beneath all of that, however, upperWETside is but a humble blog hosted on WordPress — not an outpost of a big print or broadcast media group; not a spinoff from a parent commercial enterprise, in fact not even a commercial enterprise at all for now. It may evolve at some point into a “real” website — and we or somebody else may finally figure out how to monetize such things — but for now it’s up to us to make this thing make itself useful, to stand as something of a go-to source for an experience and an outlook that’s available nowhere else. And no, we don’t solicit or even particularly care about reader comments — you can contact us easily enough if need be.
Like we said, elitist as hell. So if anybody tries to peg you as a “wetsider,” you tell ‘em your week beats their year — and that when it comes to life on the Jersey Shore, you’re strictly upperWETside!
Thanks, by the way, to the one and only Danny Sanchez for the portrait, complete with gravity-defying coffee…and if you know another definition for “upperwetside,” well, it’s only going to drive additional traffic to the page now isn’t it?
great blog in a great format. Nice to have you back.
Hey Tom, congratulations. What a great idea. This is just what we need, sort of an antidote to the usual mindless fluff that permeates the media. This area is ripe with the arts and the people creating world class presentations. Its wonderful that you shine a light on it all. Now I’m going to try to see how to get it on my IPad… I am really looking forward to reading all about the great stuff you cover. Good luck!
Finally a place to cut through the endless crap on the internet, plugging ( guilty and proud ) on Facebook, beyond anything interesting you can find in print…about the real Jersey Shore..
Good Luck with it all
Hey Tom, it was great to chat with you on Sunday Kirsty pointed me at this site and i LOVE it! im an instant fan
i hope you’re doing well, and to see ya again soon~
Love the name…love the slightly shady description. Tom – Would love you to hear my new album, and perhaps give it a review. What say you?
Also starting a Tuesday Classic Rock Hippy Gong Show Jam (that was a mouthful) At Asbury Blues. Come on by!
DANCE MORE LESS WAR,
oops…thought that was a message for you!
Nice to see the Keansburg pig’s
mug on the Upper WET side.
Thanks for having my link
Loved the Scrabble article. Thanks to Brett for an imaginative fund and fun-raiser. Sorry I won’t be able to play in the final.
Dig the for mat…Tom, you came and saw my show, “You Can’t Say That” at Eatontown in’10 and gave the show a nice little shout out last year when it was done at First Ave…Gotta new show, ‘The Next Sara Silverman” going evry weekend until 10/1..Condiser yourself invited…shoot me an email for details about the show…Thanks
Hi, Tom! It’s Pat Veil, formerly of the Sex Zombies. I sent you a presskit to what I think may be a defunct email address. Hit me back if you got it!
I was going to post the blog referenced above, but it seems to be missing? Pls advice. Thanks.
I really resent the information I posted to my friends appearing in your blog. I was actually horrified to see it..and I am miffed that you did not even request a current photo from me, and opted to use a terrible photo from a very bad time in my life when I was a victim of a illegal scam in Florida for which I suffered a great deal.
Please contact me for a current photo and perhaps a more thorough outline of why I was posting to my friends in the first place.
Congrats Tom! I love Upper WET Side!
Love this site. Seriously! This isnt spam, Tom. Cheers!