Saturday, June 7, 2008

TriCity or WhyCity?

Our pals over at RedBankGreen posted a blog about the TriCity Arts Tour. The Long Branch Advocate has posted blogs before about such things as Art in the Park and really the TriCity Arts Tour doesn't bother the LBA at all. . . at least it won't require green and white traffic lines, tie up traffic or require circling helicopters for 12 hours like the New Jersey Marathon does.

The purpose of this post is not to really discuss the Tour (although we will gladly link to it here), but rather to discuss our position on Long Branch being one third of the term "TriCity," joining Asbury Park and Red Bank which round out the triumvirate.

We suppose there are several ways to look at it.

First the obvious, Monmouth County only has two cities: Long Branch and Asbury Park. For the record, Red Bank is a Borough.

Second, Red Bank is trendy, Asbury Park wants to be trendy, Long Branch hasn't been trendy since Diamond Jim Brady left town nor do we care. Oh, certainly there are people who desperately want Long Branch to be trendy but it really is not trendy. It is a hometown to be sure. Reliable, predictable, diverse, but really not all that trendy. So why does Long Branch have to BE trendy if it is NOT trendy? An exploration of the motivations is appropriate.

The LBA suggests that the phrase “TriCity” was coined by the publishers of the so-called “triCity News” the self-described “alternative newspaper focusing on the arts, culture and politics in eastern Monmouth County.” Before the triCity News came around a decade ago, NO ONE called Long Branch, Red Bank and Asbury Park the TriCities. The LBA suggests that only a handful of people actually use the phrase when describing the towns but the moniker remains none the less.

In explaining their mission and why the three towns are lumped together, the publishers pointedly explain:

1. Our mission is to identify and promote the creative and alternative throughout the area.
2. We have placed particular emphasis on promoting the restoration of Asbury Park to its rightful place as one of the great progressive and multicultural small cities in this country.
3. In Red Bank, we advocate for the creative businesses and groups which are threatened by the creeping conformity of that town's economic boom.

But even the venerable triCity News has a hard time justifying Long Branch’s place in the Granola Trinity of Communities:

4. And in Long Branch, we search diligently for a spark of creative life, focusing on that city's West End as a beacon of hope in an otherwise suburbanized waterfront community.

Ugh. This is the same wishful thinking that has driven Long Branch’s own branding dreams when they have floated Long Branch as the “friendly city,” then the “Presidential city” and now, according to the summer events calendar, Long Branch is officially “Fun City” in 2008.

In any event, it does not appear that Long Branch has some repressed dream of being inexorably linked to Asbury and Red Bank but it certainly seems like some folks in Red Bank desperately want Long Branch linked to Red Bank.

Anyone who has lived in Long Branch for any period of time knows that this is a GREAT place to live and work. Is it any wonder why other towns want to be like us?

So, enjoy the Arts Tour if you are into that sort of thing, but join us at the Long Branch Advocate in resisting efforts to blend our great city into Red Bank and Asbury's pipe dreams of becoming one with Long Branch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The TriCity Arts Tour was conceived as a way to bring visitors into the downtown business districts of all three cities (in Red Bank's case, borough). If you read the event schedule, you will notice that most of the focus is on the downtown area of Long Branch, with only a very few events being held in West End or other locations.

The event is a business development tool--advertising for sponsor businesses has reached as far as New York and Philadelphia and many areas in between. The goal is to make visitors aware not only of the vibrant arts communities in all three locations, but of the wonderful variety of businesses, restaurants and retail establishments (many of which are members of the UEZ program in Long Branch and Red Bank).

Thank you for offering your opinion of this event, and please try to get out and enjoy some of the planned activities.