Top 10 Blog Posts from 2019!

Posted December 27, 2019 by armpitnj
Categories: Top 10

Tags: , , ,

It’s the end of the year, which means nearly every website will have some kind of listicle recapping the year that was. (By the way, how is WordPress still flagging “listicle” as a spelling error in 2019?!) In my early days of blogging, I’d routinely participate in this annoying habit and share my personal favorite posts from throughout the year each December.

While my posting has been pretty sparse for the last few years, I thought I’d resurrect this feature for 2019. Though it was a bit difficult given the meager quantity of posts from the past year, I gave it my best shot. Here it is!

Top 10 hanging letters over orange background

1) Best Post for Getting in the Halloween Spirit

There are plenty of scary things in New Jersey – the traffic, our sky-high property taxes, Teresa Giudice, etc. But one of the scariest things I ever experienced was staying in a creepy cabin in the Pine Barrens! Read all about the trip here!

2) Best Post about Central Jersey

Does Central Jersey exist? This centuries-old debate has finally come to an end, as New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy officially declared its existence! Check out my thoughts on this meaningful yet totally unnecessary declaration! Read the rest of this post »

NJ Governor Unnecessarily Declares Central Jersey’s Existence

Posted December 20, 2019 by armpitnj
Categories: Central Jersey, NJ Personalities

Tags: , , ,

New Jersey has had a new governor for nearly two years, but it’s easy to forget about him. After all, he’s pretty boring compared to the over-the-top, attention-craving former governor, Chris Christie. Hell, even the new guy’s name – Phil Murphy – is boring. He could have at least changed his last name to “Philly” to keep up a consistent naming convention.

Given his low-key demeanor, you might think that Murphy is only half the man that Christie was. You’d be right, in a sense. But he did do something that Christie never did – he fully acknowledged the existence of Central Jersey. While I previously gave my thoughts on the borders of Central Jersey, Murphy goes a little more broad.

He considers Central Jersey to consist of Monmouth, Mercer, Hunterdon, Middlesex, and Somerset Counties, with Union and Ocean as optional border districts. It’s hard to argue with his definition, unless you’re from Union or Ocean and take issue with being lumped in the with the best Jersey.

All this newfound attention on Central Jersey reminded me of another take I read recently. This article provides the most fact-based explanation of Central Jersey I’ve ever heard. Long story slightly shorter, since New Jersey is sandwiched between New York City in the north and Philadelphia in the south, most residents fall into one of these media markets. You either get the TV and radio stations of one city or the other.

However, there is a thin diagonal strip of land that gets the TV and radio stations of BOTH cities, and thus this area can clearly be considered Central Jersey. And you know what little town sits in this fabled promised land? Yep, my new home of Allentown (New Jersey, not Pennsylvania).

While I never needed a governor to tell me I live in Central Jersey, I won’t turn away the validation. But I am left with one question – shouldn’t the governor of New Jersey have more important things to do than make essentially meaningless declarations like this??

I Stayed in a Creepy Cabin in the Pine Barrens

Posted October 27, 2019 by armpitnj
Categories: Armpit Adventures

Tags: , , , ,

The Pine Barrens cover a large swath of South Jersey and are home to lots of pine trees, pineys (the locals), and some unique wildlife found nowhere else in the Armpit of America. It’s also the stomping grounds of the Jersey Devil – the one of mythological fame, not Chris Christie (anyone remember him?). And there are several creepy cabins you can rent there, too!

So against better judgement, we decided to rent one of these cabins with no TV, no heat, and barest of bones furnishings with an almost-three-year-old. While it was nice to get away from it all, it was pretty damn creepy. Even the drive to get there, passing several trailer parks filled with the aforementioned pineys on dusty, desolate roads was unsettling.

road to cabin

But the creepy factor really set it once we got to what was described as a charming, rustic cabin. I mean look at this thing. Is that not straight out of every horror movie that takes place in a cabin?

Cabin front

Read the rest of this post »

Well We’re Living Here in Allentown (New Jersey, not Pennsylvania)

Posted December 19, 2018 by armpitnj
Categories: Allentown, Best of NJ

Tags: , , ,

A few months ago, we bought a house in Allentown. No, not the Allentown in Pennsylvania made famous by coal and Billy Joel, but the one in New Jersey. Never heard of it? You’re not alone.

Like when I told people at work I was moving to Allentown, the response by many was, “Woah, that’s gonna be one hell of a commute!” To which I’d respond, “No, not Allentown, Pennsylvania – Allentown, New Jersey.” I soon realized it was better to preempt such a response by saying “Allentown…New Jersey, not Pennsylvania” and avoiding the confusion. Only, it would lead people to say, “I didn’t know there was an Allentown in New Jersey.”

Allentown

For the many who are unfamiliar, Allentown is home to just over 1,800 people. It’s located at the northwest corner of Monmouth County, and very close to the borders of no less than four other counties: Mercer, Middlesex, Burlington, and Ocean. While it may seem like the geographic center of the Armpit of America, it’s actually 14 miles from that spot. But close enough.

Though located right off the Turnpike (Exit 7A) and very close to the large town of Hamilton, Allentown feels like a world apart from the rest of the state. It’s surrounded by woods, farmland, and creeks. One of the main roads to get out of town is literally a gravel path passing over each of those landscapes.

I also have to highlight Allentown’s Main Street, which looks like something from the past – all local businesses and not a single chain. No Starbucks, no McDonald’s, no Dunkin’ Donuts, no CVS. Given that the town was founded in 1706, historical buildings are all over the place, including an old church that now serves as the town library, and the old mill building, which currently houses a coffee shop and other boutique stores.

There’s also some unique attractions in town, like the combination bicycle/chocolate shop (for real), or the Pork Roll Store – a butcher shop specializing in New Jersey’s favorite spiced pork product. Incidentally, I wrote about this place way back in 2010 after seeing one of their vans on the road. Never would have imagined I’d be living up the street from it eight years later.

What’s also great about Allentown is that it’s near several other attractions that I either never knew existed, or never bothered to visit. For instance, there’s an Amish market (run by real Amish people!) in the town of Columbus. There’s the oddly named Assunpink Wildlife Management Area complete with a lake and gun/archery range. It’s also close to the Pine Barrens, home of the Jersey Devil…and pineys. And let’s not forget about Roosevelt, probably the weirdest town in New Jersey.

Given the small town charm, surrounding farmland, gun range, and even Amish people , this Allentown seems a hell of a lot more Pennsylvania-ish than the real one.

All told, I couldn’t be happier in my new town. But since nothing is in life is perfect, I’ll share my one complaint. Being close to the border with South Jersey, there’s one item on pizza shop menus and the like that irks me to no end. I hate to say it, but I’m now officially living in hoagie country…

 

Central Jersey – It Does Exist!

Posted June 25, 2018 by armpitnj
Categories: Food, NJ Personalities

Tags: , ,

I am proud to be a resident of Central Jersey, the middle stretch of the Armpit of America. Though some would say it doesn’t even exist, that’s a bunch of nonsense. Not only is it real, it’s the best part of the state.

For one, people here don’t have accents. Many of those in North Jersey have obnoxious New York accents. And many in South Jersey have different, but no less obnoxious, Philadelphia accents. And in the more rural parts of both the North and South, people have traditional Southern accents somehow. But in Central Jersey, there’s no such thing. We say our words how they’re meant to be pronounced. No “New Yawk Pawt Authawrity” as they say in the North, and no “hooome” or “phooooone” as you might hear in the Southern part of the state.

map-nj

Key to Map: Green = Central Jersey. Not Green = Not Central Jersey.

As our brethren to the North and South continue to debate about the right words for certain things, Central Jersey often casts the impartial deciding vote. When it comes to the “subs” of the North vs. the  “hoagies” of the South, we’re Team North all the way. (After all, “hoagie” is the most revolting word in the English language and should never be associated with food). Speaking of revolting food, we’re Team South on the “pork roll” vs. “Taylor ham” debate, calling it pork roll. (Although, “tailored ham” would be a more accurate name for New Jersey’s favorite mystery meat product.)

One question that always gets brought up when discussing this subject: where is Central Jersey? In my perspective, Central Jersey is made up of all of Monmouth and Mercer Counties, the southern portions of Middlesex and Somerset Counties, and the northern part of Ocean County. And maybe we can throw in some other parts of the bordering counties, as long as they swear off their annoying habits.

The great debate about the central part of our state was recently given national attention on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” The host sat down with Phil Murphy, our state’s new governor and Central Jersey resident. Like any politician, he tried not to take sides, referring to “Taylor pork,” and refusing to weigh in on the sub/hoagie thing. But it was still an entertaining interview, like when Colbert asks Murphy what town he’s from, and consistent with his middle-of-the-road approach to the interview, he responds albeit truthfully, with: “Middletown.” Then Colbert asks if Central Jersey is a mystical place like Narnia. I’d say it’s more Middle Earth – that would have been the perfect answer.

The one thing I don’t like about the video is the part with Jon Stewart at the end. Yes, he’s from Central Jersey as well, but I just don’t understand why the former host of a show on Comedy Central is venerated as a god by so many. Sure, he gave Colbert his start and all that, but if you really wanted someone to weigh in on the subject, it would have been much better to get a Central Jersey resident worthy of more respect and admiration. Like how great would it have been if instead of that bullshit with Jon Stewart as the Supreme Chief Justice of New Jersey, they had Phil Murphy say, “Let me check with the boss” – and there’s Bruce himself to declare that Central Jersey really exists.

Instead, the segment ends with Stewart sitting in a diner eating a sad-looking sub (not hoagie), and I can’t help but think what an egregious mistake that was. No matter where in New Jersey you’re from, whether North, Central, or South, left or right, up or down, one thing every resident of New Jersey can agree on is that you don’t get subs at diners. You get them from a Mom and Pop sub shop in a strip mall, or from a reputable local chain, like the appropriately named Jersey Mike’s. Or if you’re in a pinch, you get an inferior sub at Wawa for no other reason than the joy of pressing the buttons on the screen.

Bottom line, yes Central Jersey exists — and I think we should banish Jon Stewart from it.

 

Tracking Down a Lost Sitcom About the Jersey Shore

Posted February 4, 2018 by armpitnj
Categories: Belmar, Jersey Shore

Tags: , , ,

The 1990s were such a magical time in which to grow up, so different from today. We had a lying, womanizing scumbag for a president. People drank novelty beverages like Crystal Pepsi and Zima. We watched amazing shows like Full House, Roseanne, and Murphy Brown. Well I guess things really aren’t that different after all.

In reminiscing about all those shows from my childhood that have come back from the dead, there is one show that has been sticking out in my mind for a while. Only, I wasn’t sure if the show was ever alive.

Let me explain.

I don’t know why, but in the last couple of years, I’ve had this vague memory of a certain sitcom popping up in my mind. It was about a bunch of young adults living in a beach house in Belmar. My only memories of this show are 1) that it existed, and 2) recalling one scene in which the roommates are trying to bring a refrigerator upstairs. Read the rest of this post »

Goodbye, Chris Christie!

Posted January 16, 2018 by armpitnj
Categories: politics

Tags: , , , ,

As of noon today, January 16, 2018, Chris Christie is no longer the Governor of the Armpit of America. What a relief! Though immensely popular at the start of his tenure, he’s leaving office in shame after eight incredibly long years. With a 14% approval rating, he has the distinction of being the least popular governor in New Jersey’s history.

While I’m happy to see him go, like many people, I’ll miss making fun of him (which I’ve done plenty of times). So in honor of his last day, let’s take a look at some of the highlights of his time leading New Jersey.

Like that whole Bridgegate thing:

Bridgegate

And who can forget about Beachgate?

Beachgate

And that time he sold his soul to the devil himself:

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