Sitting on the patch of beach in front of the Tropicana, I see endless oceans. There is the water, of course. Also the gangs of seagulls, occasionally punctuated by what one assumes are marauding pigeon posses or sandpiper squads, infringing on territory and staking a claim on the sand. One gull, his head markably larger and whiter, seems to be both outcast and leader--no other birds challenge him, but neither do they embrace his differences. Throngs of sunbathers, wavejumpers and builders of sandcastles and dreams.
Treading the boards, a slice of America--a cross-section of the heartland, or at least the East Coast--refugee extras from "Supersize Me," here for optimism and hope, in the guise of sun or slots. The endless train of casinos provides exits and rest stops along the wooden highway. The spectre of Donald Trump and modern kitsch, uniting splendidly in a black T-shirt that reads "You're Fired!", seeks to smother the history and spirit of the classical Atlantic City, the one of memory and nostalgia.
My friend walks for miles along the ocean's edge. I write to the margins of my paper and feel somehow inadequate. Best to come here with someone, I think. It helps avoid the temptation, brought on by the waves, that I might feel to walk endlessly, on board or sand or in water, until I disappear.
There's a freedom in anonymity here. I worry less about what other people think and let whim and relaxation be my momentary masters. The mist here helps me, hiding the truth, masquing brightness in haze and clouds in sun--the resultant blend of meteorological humors mixes me up with my metaphors.
The casinos rising in the distance are supposed to represent temptation, the promise of wealth, euphoria and hedonism. But one look at the reality and you see hope and humanity flipped over in a ditch. No fun to be had there. No hope for them. No humor. Just the thousands of prayers to the God of chance, treaties that fall on deaf ears.
Flanked by aggressive seagulls who squawk strategies at each other, my relaxation is present, appreciated, but tenuous. I still can't help feeling surrounded.