Monday, June 7, 2010

76-Second Travel Show: 'America's best beach'

Episode #036
F E A T U R I N G * 4 2 * B O N U S * S E C O N D S

Dr Beach, aka Stephen Leatherman, has picked America's best beach for 20 years, based on all sorts of factors like sand condition, temperature and whether you can smoke on it or not. Over the years Hawaii has dominated like a German bobsled team, taking the honors 12 times. Florida has six gold medals, North Carolina one and (this year) New York one, as Coopers Beach in Southampton* took the honors.

It's worth pointing out what this means.

Sorry Brian Wilson, but New York is a better beach destination than California. It's also better than more commonly considered beach destinations like Texas, Oregon, New Jersey, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Alabama.

I went to Southampton a few days ago to talk with year-rounders about the effect of the news ('surprise!' was a word I heard a lot, even the mayor said so). But one guy -- my favorite -- was not moved by it all. In fact he was disgusted.

Sitting on a giant chopper in the center of Southampton Village, outside Dunkerley's stationery store (travel rule: never go past a stationery store without stepping in), on Main Street between (Ted) Nugent Street and (Mick) Jagger Lane, he had the single most-impressive Viking helmet of all time. Triumphant horns -- closer to tusks -- shot out either side, and a swoop of plastered-on Mohawk hair ran between. And his dog -- a sweet collie with a Jimmy Buffet bandana on -- was in the bike's back basket.

I asked him about Coopers Beach being America's best. 'You kidding? I'm from Montauk. Come to Montauk and I'll show you real beaches.' I told him I believed he would. 'Really, come out there and we'll BS awhile.'

I'm guessing it won't be hard to find him.

* That's right Coopers, not Cooper's. No one seems to know when the apostrophe dropped. Fewer care. The Cooper in question is John, an original settler from 1640 -- and the guy who ran the lone tavern, fish-drying and whaling business. Quite a Cooper, that one.

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