In the controversy over a proposed topless beach in Asbury Park, the triCityNews, my personal favorite Jersey Shore free paper, got a great compliment. A member of the city council left a voicemail when returning a triCityNews reporter's call, saying, "I think you orchestrated this whole thing. I think you are behind this." triCityNews commented in their latest article, "You bet we are".
Last month, Asbury Park resident Regine Flimlin, owner of Yoga Basin, asked the City Council to formally allow a topless option for women on a quiet beach north of Convention Hall. The beach that Flimlin has suggested, is away from the busy beaches and restaurants on the boardwalk. The beach in debate, is quiet and there are no boardwalk businesses there.
No one expected the City Council to not reject the proposal without debate. Instead, they asked the city manager to prepare a report on the options and legalities for the meeting today.
Straight from the triCityNews, they immediately swung into action. "We knew how big this story could become - and how great it could be for our city. This newspaper loves to leverage our power by getting bigger media to pick up on our stories. We do it all the time. And so, it was with this topless proposal - the merits of which we'll get to in a moment. We plastered it across the front cover a couple of weeks ago, knowing it would attract the attention of journalists in the NY region. It worked. Brian Thompson of WNBC-TV, who lives in Monmouth Beach and reads our paper, picked up on it first and broadcast the story. Then they all came charging in - channel 2, channel 7, channel 11, News 12, and Fox News. The Asbury Park Press came along huffing and puffing a week later. So, what is teh real issue driving us? The answer: This is a powerful way to associate Asbury Park with internationally known great cities. Places like Miami Beach and the cities in Europe that allow women to go topless. That's the image we want Asbury Park to project - as a progressive and open-minded city up there with the best int he world. That's what this is all about. If this topless option is enacted, it will become a national story. Actually, it already is. The Associated Press picked up on it and a google search shows media oulets all over the place using the AP report. Imagine how big it would become if enacted."
The people that understand the benefit of this proposal to allow for a topless beach in Asbury Park, even if they are not the type to go topless, are the type of people that have made Asbury Park what it is today. These are people that understand what it is to be known as a progressive urban area and what the connection to European beaches and Miami Beach could do for lil ol' Asbury Park.
Being a resident of Asbury Park, I have my view on the issue. Asbury Park is a place for broadminded people and whether or not I support a topless beach, I like the idea that creating a reputation like such places as Miami Beach and Europe as an open-minded, diverse locale, will draw more forward thinking, progressive people to the area.
triCityNews wrote a few quotes that sum up a lot of the issue for me. "If a small topless beach away from all the crowds and restaurants bothers their parents, then just don't go north of Convention Hall. You can enjoy the rest of the city. Like 99 percent of it."
"Asbury Park will not fall apart (if this proposal is accepted). Give us a break. People will not stop coming to the city. Those who don't like it, simply won't go over to that beach. And, the very few that actually stop coming will be more than outweighed by the large number of new people this will attract - both directly and indirectly. It will be big."
Lastly, triCityNews brought up these thoughts, I had not... "On beaches in cities where this is allowed, women of all ages, shapes, and sizes go topless. Just like men do. Some are nice to look at. Some are not as much. Just like you can say about men with their shirts off. In fact, we don't see why a little equality between the sexes wouldn't be healthy on this issue. Even further, perhaps it's not such a horrible thing for young women and young men to see older women comfortable with their bodies in this way just like men. What's so awful about that?"
The City Council was meeting on the 7th of July so I will certainly keep you posted on the progress. I would love to hear your opinions on this issue.