Saturday, June 13, 2009
Saturday in Rockaway Beach: 3rd Annual Rockstock + Barrels - Surfing, Skating, Live Bands!
We love Rockaway and pretty much grew up there in the summers, with our family going way back on the peninsula:
Grandma Ethel Shapiro Sarrett on the beach at 17 in 1927
Our mom & dad, teenagers, met there in the summer of 1945
Here we are a decade later, at the bungalows of Lincoln Court between Beach 56th Place & Beach 56th Street, where we first came when we were just a few weeks old (and our Grandpa Herb Sarrett would complain, even we were in our thirties, how he had to schlep us to the boardwalk in the middle of the night because our crying annoyed the whole bungalow court)- but by the time we were 4, we just whined a lot
Another decade passes, we're 14, still at Lincoln Court, with our bro & mom (& a fading black eye we got in an under-the-boardwalk boxing rematch with a 12yo who had better luck than Sonny Liston)
On the boardwalk in winter 1969 (just like the opening shot in Wim Wenders' 1974 "Alice in den Städten"), by the apartment buildings where both sets of grandparents lived on opposite sides of Beach 105th Street
The house we grew up in was near the Brooklyn side of the borough's most underrated bridge, the Marine Parkway, and used to drive over to the beach in 15 minutes every chance we got
Our first apartment on our own, a rent-stabilized studio for $240 a month, was #5J at 129 Beach 118th Street, right on the boardwalk, and we have been writing about Rockaway since forever
So we were excited to get from Dumbo Books' Williamburg HQ out to Rockaway Beach for today's Third Annual Rockstock & Barrels festival of surfing, skateboarding and live music by the boardwalk, surfer's beach and sk8r park where our Great-Grandma Bessie Shapiro used to live in the 1970s. Rockstock is sponsored by the great Boarders Surf Shop on Beach 92nd Street and the surf fashions of St. James Clothing.
The most direct route to the Rock would be the L to Broadway Junction and then the A and shuttle to Beach 90th Street, where we used to watch the few surfers back in the Nixon administration.
But due to typical summer weekend track work, there was no Canarsie-bound train at Lorimer Street, only a shuttle bus.
So we settled for the fabulous G train to Fulton Street and made the usual trek past BAM to Atlantic Terminal for a MetroCard-only "transfer" to the 2 to the Junction, where we got the Q35, which we were taking back when it was still part of the Green Bus Lines, to the end of the line.
At Beach 116th Street, the new Rockaway Beach Diner may be temporarily closed due to the Board of Health (we miss the old Ram's Horn, torn down for an HSBC drive-thru) and the WaMu a few doors down from the Chase branch is shuttered, but familiar stores from our childhood like Brown's Hardware, Rogoff's Stationery and the Rockaway Surf Shop are still open for biz.
Grabbing a slice at Ciro's - like we did in the 1980s when we spent summers on the Upper West Side but visited Grandma Ethel every week - we were accosted by the rich old lady beggar from Neponsit who tried to get us to buy her a soda even though her family are millionaires. We encountered three other, poorer, panhandlers on 116.
Then we caught the Q21, got off just before the bus turned into the Cross Bay Bridge, used the men's room at the Peninsula branch library and walked down Rockaway Beach Boulevard to where Rockstock & Barrels started around noon. (The surfing contests began at 8 a.m.)
Last year's Rockstock & Barrels had more sun and heat, as shown in this pic of
Indaculture, a cool Rockaway band who also performed today.
It had been sunnier earlier, but by noon it was pretty much overcast and a good wind was blowing. Maybe that was good for the surfing competition sponsored by the Eastern Surfing Association.
There were about 100 to 200 people around during the couple of hours we were there. One thing we have always adored about Rockaway is that you can feel like you fit in even if you look like a mental patient - or maybe especially if you look like a mental patient. Today everyone just looked like they were having fun.
Rockaway is very diverse - we spotted bunches of houses flying the Puerto Rican flag, por ejemplo - but the Caucasians we saw mostly had the deep tans we used to get before ours came sprayed on. (The last time we saw Grandma Ethel, in 1993, she'd just had some earlobe skin grafted to her nose to replace what had been cut away for basal cell carcinoma.)
There were some booths from St. James and Far Rock's Gangplank, as well as other businesses that cater to surfers and skaters.
We watched some of the surfing heats, and were particularly impressed with a couple of very old and very young surfers. It was the summer of '69, forty years ago, when we first caught Endless Summer, watching it at the Brooklyn College student center with two Orthodox Jewish kids who gaped open-mouthed at the film's surfing action.
It was soon after that we watched our first surfing at this very spot.
Some Rockaway boys are surfers, some are skaters, some do both. We didn't see girl skaters, only girl surfers.
The other really good bands that played today included Walker and the Brotherhood of the Grape, Rat Trap Bumpkin, Daha, Symptom 7 and Imaginary Weapons.
Another thing we love about Rockaway is that we can feel like we're in Southern California without leaving the NYC limits. We had a good time today.
We left kinda early, due to our advanced age and long trip home, but we know that for some, Rockstock & Barrels is all about the after-party.
For us, the after-party was the Q22 and Q 35 buses and the 2 and G trains. But we hope to be back next year to Rockstock & Barrels. We're grateful to the sponsors, the surfers, the sk8rs, the bands, and to our beloved Rockaway Beach itself.