Driving Jersey: Jake D’Arcangelo: Barnegat Light, NJ

Jake D’Arcangelo was the first person we interviewed when we started Driving Jersey.  He was part of the Barnegat Light tow boat team of Tow Boat USA, but he’s also a singer-songwriter, a fisherman, a waiter, a wanderer, a jester, a genius, a poet and a philosopher of blue collar wisdom or, at least, a wisdom all his own. 

We decided to catch up with our first subject again to see how life and the long, cold, Jersey Shore winter was treating him.  We ran into D’Arcangelo at the docks, as he was preparing to go out fishing and trolling the water around the bay jetties for shrimp.  It was below freezing with winds gusting to 30 mph, D’Arcangelo laughed when I suggested it might be too cold for him to wade waist deep in the chop around the lighthouse.  He muttered something about appreciating life through experiencing all earth’s conditions and jumped in.

After an hour of “experiencing” the unforgiving wind of the inlet, we retreated to the hull of the tow boat.  D’Arcangelo, who had escaped the Jersey winters for two years in South Carolina, philosophized there about enjoying instead of simply enduring the winter.  “A lot of folks down here, have June, July and August on their minds in the middle of January,” he said, “it’s their way of getting by, but that ain’t good enough for me.  That’d be like loving the one you’re not with.  I’m stoked to be using the winter, so it’s not abusing me.”

D’Arcangelo outlined for us his “certain rules for getting through the Jersey winter.”  They include:

1. Being comfortable with yourself.

  1. 2.Finding a good group of people. - “If you’re going to be bored,” he said, “you might as well not be lonely.”  D’Arcangelo rents a room in a large, old beach house that is busy with life and family and friends and fisherman.  The matriarch of the household, who resides on the top floor, gave us a tour of the house, including her walk-in closet.  We never had so much fun in a walk-in closet before.  Three generations of one family live in the house and many others as well.   It’s clear the energy of the place is important to D’Arcangelo.  The night we were there, housemates all shared in preparing and eating dinner.  D’Arcangelo slow danced with his girlfriend to Bruce Springsteen on the radio singing for the lonely. 

  1. 3.Staying busy. - D’Arcangelo has been using the winter to write, record and perform live as a member of the six man band, The Following.   They have also contributed music to this film series.  “We got a lot of people stoking on us,” he said, “We feel like we’re near to the point we always wanted to be back when we were in high school looking up at bands we respected.”

  1. 4.NOT beating yourself up.

  1. 5.NOT letting yourself get wrapped up in some kind of romantic turmoil.  “It’s a lot easier to get on with your girl when you’re frolicking in the warm summer spray, than it is after week eighteen of both of ya sitting in a room somewhere saying whadda-ya feel like doing?” he said.

Enjoy JAKE IN WINTER, and be sure to check out the fishing in Barnegat Light and The Following, where ever they play. 

Music for JAKE IN WINTER was written and produced by Ryan Bott.