LAST FALL, while fruitlessly querying New Jersey bookstores with copies of Beach Badge No. 2, I decided, on a whim, to send a copy to novelist PF Kluge, author of Eddie and the Cruisers. I had written extensively about the movie adaptation, and had just caught a performance by John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band, who provided its soundtrack, in Somers Point. The movie, my essay, and that beach packed with concertgoers, all singing and dancing in the long late-summer light, got me to thinking about how all of it ties back directly to that book…to that one man’s imagination. I included a short, hand-written note saying as much, and dropped it into the mail.
I was working in my office one afternoon, about a week later, when an email appeared in my inbox. Kluge had apparently not only received and read the issue, but also taken a moment to personally thank me for doing so. He likewise included a very kind and supportive assessment of Beach Badge, which appears (in excerpt) on the back cover of this issue. Needless to say, I was – and still am – over the moon.
More than 40 years later, I continue to hold that book, the movie, and its music near and dear to me – but the most delightfully absurd aspect of it all is that, in its own way, the story has just kept going. In April 2023, my family and I were able to attend a 40th anniversary screening of the movie at the Gateway Playhouse in Somers Point. The evening included a musical performance by Beaver Brown’s Michael “Tunes” Antunes (who played Cruisers sax-man Wendell Newton in the movie), who was joined onstage by, among others, actor David Patrick Wilson, who starred as the Cruisers’ drummer, Kenny Hopkins. Both men graciously signed Beach Badge for me, and I gave them each a copy. I also had the chance to chat with the evening’s host, Carmen Marotta (son of “Tony Mart” himself, Antonio Marotta), whose Somers Point Beach Concert Series USA Today recently named the number one free outdoor concert series in the country (learn more at https://tonymart.com/). Indeed, to quote the great John Cafferty, “there was magic in the night.”
So where does the story go from here? Beats the hell out of me – though I am seriously entertaining a friend’s suggestion of doing a one-shot zine dedicated to any and all things Eddie and the Cruisers, and already have a few ideas on deck. If you’re interested in being part of such a thing, please drop me a line at email@example.com.
William Patrick Tandy
Editor & Publisher