Beach Endorsements

Fort TildenPhoto: Karine Laval

1. Fort Tilden
Matthew Shawlin, 27, Actor-Waiter
“Fort Tilden is starting to get more populated, but you’re still not bothered by anybody. There aren’t that many crazies. It’s like a mini-vacation, like you’re not in New York at all. My old ritual was to chain-smoke on the beach. But that’s going to have to completely change because I quit smoking. Now I’m thinking of maybe running along the beach. Maybe doing a couple push-ups. Just a few. I’m going to be that jerk who’s running and doing push-ups while rubbing baby oil on his muscles. Like, ‘What, doesn’t everybody bring a mirror to the beach? What’s wrong with my cheetah-print Speedo? Don’t I look amazing?’ ”

2. Long Beach
Diane Kwan, 34, Bartender
“Long Beach is such a great commuter beach. I have a whole system: The night before, I get a water bottle and unscrew it and stick it in the freezer. On my way to the Atlantic Terminal station (which is only a six-minute walk from where I live), I buy the New York Times, and I read the paper on the L.I.R.R. It’s about a 57-minute ride. Once I’m there, I buy lunch at the salad bar at Waldbaum’s. Then I lay out. Usually, I do 50 minutes on each side. I’m like a little rotisserie chicken. I go in the water when it’s hot, or to pee. When I lay out, I’m topless. Sometimes there’s some weird ogling or I’ll get dirty looks from moms, but usually people don’t give me trouble. I’ll be laying out and all of a sudden there’s a community of topless women around me. I guess they see me and realize it’s okay. Afterward, I go for a drink at this place across the street from the station. I watch the clock, drink my wine, then I get on the train. An hour later, I’m back in the city.”

Georgica Beach during a storm swell, from Clifford Ross's "Hurricane" series, exhibiting at East Hampton's Guild Hall, June 25 to July 31.Photo: Clifford Ross

3. Georgica Beach
Clifford Ross, 58, Artist-Photographer
“The beaches of the East End of Long Island from Amagansett to Bridgehampton have been in my life since I was 5 or 6 years old. Part of what runs through my own blood is accumulated moisture and light from those beaches. Over the past 40 years, my affections have been tethered to Georgica Beach. There’s a place called the gut, a little strip that separates the Atlantic from Georgica Pond. A couple times a year, there’s a major storm, and the ocean breaks into the pond. It’s a very dramatic thing. I think Georgica is the Cary Grant of beaches. It’s so beautiful and elegant, but put him in a bad-guy role and watch out.”

Sea BrightPhoto: Jeff Mermelstein

4. Sea Bright, N.J.
Gregory de Gersdorff, 13, Eighth-grader
“I like Sea Bright because I know everyone from going there for so long. I have friends I’ve made over the years, and cousins like John and Murray and Zuzu and Annie. Some people have beach girlfriends. I don’t, but, yeah, there are cute people there. At the snack bar, it’s mostly girls working; they’re all like 25 and 30. It would be really cool to work there if I ever need a summer job, which I kind of think I will one day.”

Chris de Gersdorff, 9, Fifth-grader
“I’ve been dreaming of the beach during the winter. I like how hot it is and how, after I get out of the ocean, it dries me off. I wish the water was a little bit cleaner, but besides that, it’s a nice ocean. If it were up to me, I would go four to five days per week.”

5. Coney Island
William Petrosino, 45, Sand Sculptor
“I was born and raised in Coney Island, and I’ve lived by the beach my whole life. I’m a natural-born beachgoer. Sand sculpting is what I love to do: I’ve done a Finding Nemo thing, a Snoopy lying on a blanket, a naked Venus woman, a Homer Simpson coming out of a doughnut. There’s a lot of therapy to it. There could be 25 or 30 people surrounding me, with little kids asking questions, but I’m totally in the zone. It’s almost as if you walk into a church and you’re hearing angels singing.”

6. Jacob Riis Park
Rob Jett, 55, Computer Technician
“My wife, Robin, and I rediscovered Riis around ten years ago. Initially we were taking the bus out there, then we discovered a nice bike path. We go every weekend, and we call it our own private Idaho because no one ever goes there. We swim and bring portable binoculars to watch the birds. There are tons of them. It seems like every tern in the neighborhood is diving into the water.There are some shorebirds called oystercatchers that sound like little kids screaming. You also get piping plovers, which have the tiniest, tiniest baby birds. When they hatch, they’re immediately mobile. Picture a cotton ball on top of two toothpicks scurrying up and down the beach. That’s what they look like.”

Orchard Beach Photo: Wayne Lawrence/Institute for Artist Management

7. Orchard Beach
Angell Bartee, 23, Hairstylist (pictured)
“I’m originally from New York, but I just moved back here from Pennsylvania. I remember my parents bringing us here when I was younger, and I would take my towel and put it on my head as if it was my hair. I was always into the fashion life, even back then. Since the economy changed, people don’t come together like they used to; they stay home. But I think coming here is a social way to get peace of mind. It’s really relaxing to sit and watch people laugh. We pack everything: blankets, the kids’ food, our Coronas, sunflower seeds. I feel like I’m home again.”

Orchard BeachPhoto: Wayne Lawrence/Institute for Artist Management
Brighton Beach Photo: Pari Dukovic

8. Brighton Beach
Irving Cohen, 93, Retired
“The best beach in New York City is Brighton Beach. You kiddin’? Nothing like it. At the age of 3, I was in the ocean here. My father was in the refrigerator business, so he brought home cork, and my mother made a vest out of it. And she took me and threw me in the water. That’s how I started. I left at 26, when I got married, but I came back to retire because I still liked it. About two weeks ago, I walked all the way down to see the new boardwalk and then sat down on a bench on Brighton 4th Street, where my friends and I used to meet every night when we were 15 to 17. I swear to you, I looked at the beach and I saw them all. My wife laughed at me. I said, ‘Helen, it just came to me. That’s where we all used to meet every night when we were kids.’ We became such good friends that we wanted to be buried together.”

Interviews by Rachel Baker, Kaija Helmetag, and Molly Langmuir.

Beach Endorsements