Archive for the ‘Personal’ category

My Hometown(s)

January 20, 2014

The world is full of “twin cities” – two cities side by side that are essentially one. Just consider St. Paul and Minneapolis in Minnesota, Dallas and Fort Worth in Texas, and Buda and Pest in Hungary. But, New Jersey, and more specifically, northern Monmouth County, is home to its own pair of cities forever linked together for better or worse. I’m talking about Matawan and Aberdeen, or if you prefer, Aberdeen and Matawan. Not only is/are it/they the most famous twin cities on this side of the Mississippi, but it/they is/are the town(s) in which I grew up.

Matawan Region HS

Matawan Regional High School…located in Aberdeen

I won’t bore you with the full  history of Matawan and Aberdeen, but just know that Matawan is officially known as Matawan Borough, and Aberdeen was originally called Matawan Township, until 1977 when residents voted to change the name to avoid confusion. Interestingly, Wikipedia tells me that the name Aberdeen was chosen so the town could appear first alphabetically of all the municipalities in the Armpit of America. Given the nature of the two towns, that is quite understandable. You see, Matawan is the older of the two and is full of history; it’s been around since the Revolutionary War and has seen a lot of action since then. Most prominent, the town was one site of the infamous shark attacks that plagued the shore in 1916. As for Aberdeen, it is the much more boring of the two, notable for absolutely nothing. (more…)

From the Jersey Shore to the North Shore

April 7, 2013

The unthinkable has happened.

I am no longer a resident of New Jersey.

No, Chris Christie hasn’t exiled me for all the shit I’ve talked about him – it’s due to personal reasons. After 29 years of living within a 30 mile radius of my birthplace, I’ve left the only state I’ve ever lived in and relocated to the North Shore of Long Island. Based on my first two weeks of living here, it is clear that Long Island is more like New Jersey that New Jersey could ever hope to be.

From the strip malls and strip clubs to highways and loud obnoxious people, I doubt I’ll ever get homesick.  If New Jersey is the Armpit of America, then that would make Long Island the smelly pit hair of America.

Anyway, so what does my relocation mean for this little blog?  I’ll still update as infrequently as you’ve come to expect.  And I’ll still be writing about New Jersey. If that makes me a poseur, then so what? It’s my blog and I’ll do what I want.

Despite being in New York, my heart still hasn’t left New Jersey.  That’s why I will still try with all my might to avoid pumping my own gas.  Even if that means taking a trip back to Jersey for the sole purpose of having someone else do it.

As sad as I am to have left the Armpit of America, things could always be worse….I could have ended up on Staten Island!

Resorts Hotel and Casino: Not Much of a Resort, Hotel, or Casino

March 1, 2011

Caution: blatant false advertising!

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of my Atlantic City recaps. Not necessarily a while since I’ve been there, my trips just haven’t been too noteworthy. But that all changed last weekend during a trip to Resorts Hotel and Casino. Don’t worry, no one else ever heard of it either.

The reason for the trip was my girlfriend’s birthday – and her venue of choice was Boogie Nights, a 70s/80s themed club in AC. The club is located at the aforementioned Resorts, which is noteworthy for absolutely nothing else. Since we knew it was going to be a late night, we decided to get a room there as well. After spending a night at Resorts, I can officially declare that the establishment is a pus-filled zit on the Armpit of America.

I never knew too much about Resorts, and I wish I could go back to my days of ignorance about it. But here’s what I knew prior to my visit: It was one of the original casinos in Atlantic City, being built in the 70s, but not much has changed since. Although all the other casinos in Atlantic City have been renovated, rebuilt, expanded, and transformed into the mega-hotels like those you’d find in Vegas, Resorts has stayed mostly unchanged. And, while all the other AC casinos have merged together into giant conglomerates, Resorts is there by itself. And for good reason.

We got there last Friday, and the trouble started as soon as we entered the parking deck. While the other casinos have split-leveled and tiered parking garages that are marvels of modern engineering, this one was small and overcrowded, with an impossibly steep ramp to get from one level to another. And, while I was trying to go up a level, the car in front of me had to stop short because another car was trying to go down the ONE-WAY ramp. Idiot. (more…)

A Little Slice of Texas at the Jersey Shore

February 15, 2011

I give this place my squeal of approval!

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of dining at Jersey Shore BBQ, a Texas-style barbecue place right here in Belmar. Now I don’t claim to be an expert in the art of barbecue; my barbecue experience is pretty much limited to backyard burgers and hot dogs and the food at the ubiquitous Famous Daves chain. Still, I know good food when I see it, and I found it here.

Jersey Shore BBQ is located in a typical strip mall behind Main Street. But don’t let that description turn you off – some of the Armpit of America’s national treasures are found in strip malls. Just look for the black sign with a pink pig on it, and you’ll know you’ve found it.

Once inside, you’ll find the dining room to be laid back and unpretentious, qualities that are becoming increasingly harder to find due to the simultaneous gentrification and guidofication of the Jersey Shore. Though nothing fancy, the interior is warm and welcoming. And no need to wait for some hostess to look at a map of tables before telling you where to sit – this place has open seating.

But enough about that boring stuff. The main draw here is the food, advertised as authentic Texas BBQ. As mentioned above, the most authentic barbecue I’ve eaten is that of Famous Daves or Texas Roadhouse – another chain, in which everything is covered in some sweet and tangy sauce. Boy was I in for a surprise.

We started with the special “Ribs Appetizer,” which, appropriately enough, was just a plate of ribs – three baby back, and three St. Louis style. While I expected them to be glazed in that familiar sticky sweet sauce, these ribs were completely different. They were smoky and peppery and just so flavorful. Though it didn’t really need anything else, I poured some of the two different types of vinegar-based barbecue sauces on the table and dipped the meat in. Wow. The vinegar just punctuated the meat, elevating its taste even more. (more…)

I Wrote a Guest Blog!

January 3, 2011

I was recently asked to write a guest post for the travel blog, onetravelbloggers.com.  I was told I could write about literally anything.  Since there are so many places in the Armpit of America that I could write about, I couldn’t pick just one.  So, I decided to write about New Jersey as a whole. Though other bloggers have written about more exotic locales, like India, Thailand, and Romania, I think mine holds up pretty well!

Without further ado, here is my article, “New Jersey – An Unlikely Tourist Destination”.

An Evening with Michael Pollan

October 9, 2010

Hahahah never heard that one before....

Back in September of 2001, I was a nerdy, overweight freshman at Rutgers.  During that first semester, I took Expository Writing 101 (AKA Ex-Pos), the dreaded freshman writing course.  The first assignment for that class was to read an essay about genetically engineered potatoes and write a paper about it.  The author of that essay was a certain Michael Pollan, a fact I only remember because I thought how funny it was that a guy named Pollan wrote about plants.

Before the teacher handed back those first assignments, she said most of the class did pretty poorly.  She explained how that can be expected on our first papers and that we shouldn’t get too discouraged; we can only get better.  When she handed my paper back, I was shocked by my grade.  It was a B+.  That’s when it happened.  It was at this point, dear reader, that your humble narrator realized he could write.  Since then, I’ve pursued writing educationally, personally, professionally, and blogally.

So where am I going with all this?

Nine years (holy shit) after that fateful day, I heard that Michael Pollan was giving a talk at Rutgers.  I couldn’t pass up the chance to hear the guy who indirectly launched my writing career at the place where it started.  So, this past Wednesday, I headed up to the College Ave gym, where the talk was being held.  On the way, I passed the Rutgers Student Center.  There was a big sign in front of the building saying there was going to be a memorial for Tyler Clementi that night.  The sign also said that both New Jersey senators, Frank Lautenberg and Bob Menendez, were going to be there.  I thought about ditching Pollan and going to this event for no other reason than the remote chance that I could convince one of the senators to sit down for an in-depth interview for this little old blog.  But they clearly had something more important to do that night. (more…)

The Wild, The Inebriated, and The E Street Shuffle

October 5, 2010

 

One of my souveniers from the night...the other was a hangover.

 

I’ve never been one to make a big deal out of my birthday.  Well, aside from my epic 21st birthday weekend (My birthday was on a Friday that year, so we went to the bars at midnight on Thursday, went to the Breakfast Club Friday, and had a house party Saturday), that’s mostly true.

This year, things were a little different.  Now that I have a beautiful apartment in Belmar, along with plenty of bars within walking distance, why not go all out?  So I invited a bunch of people over to check out the place and then hang out at a bar.  Even though my birthday was once again on a Friday this year, I limited the celebrating to only one night.

After the guests started arriving, I tried to order a couple monster pizzas from 3 Brothers.  Alas, they never answered the phone.  After calling a dozen times, and after a few other people tried to no avail, I ordered pizza from some other place.  Though perfectly adequate, this regular pizza is nothing compared to giant 3 Brothers pizza.

After hanging out at the apartment for a while and getting sauced up, we headed out for the Boathouse.  As luck would have it, there was a live band there that night.  Even luckier, it was The E Street Shuffle, a Bruce Springsteen tribute band!  Though I never heard of them before that night, I was impressed.  They did a great job, playing both the hits and the lesser known songs. (more…)