A Tour of the “Jersey Shore” House!

Posted July 4, 2016 by armpitnj
Categories: Armpit Adventures, MTV's "Jersey Shore"

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This is pretty epic. If you couldn’t tell from the title, I went on a tour of the “Jersey Shore” house, and it was amazing! Considering how much I’ve written about this show and its crazy cast of greasy goofballs, I can honestly say this was one of the highlights of my life.

It wasn’t planned or expected – just happened to be in Seaside Heights, walked up to the infamous Shore Store where the cast worked during the show, and saw a sign inviting people to take a tour of the house, which is right behind it. Of course, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see where our beloved Snooki, The Situation, J-WOWW, and the rest of the gang lived, fought, hooked up (and God knows what else they did in that house) for four summers.

IMG_2378

They’d probably get more business if they advertised: “Take a picture in the Smush Room”

The tour was led by this guy who worked on the crew of the show, who led us through the back door of the Shore Store and onto the back porch. But before we went inside, he warned us that it’s a lot smaller in real life – something I’m sure many of the girls who’ve hooked up with The Situation have also realized. Read the rest of this post »

Let’s Talk About Vintage Arcade Games…Again!

Posted June 25, 2016 by armpitnj
Categories: Armpit Adventures

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There’s just something about old timey video games that keeps drawing me in (and keeps me writing about them – like this time and this other time). Though I satiate this need by plugging in the old, yellowed Super Nintendo and playing Super Mario World for the millionth time (and still being unable to do that crazy jump in the Cheese Bridge level that opens the path to Soda Lake) or a newly acquired Intellivision, these aren’t always enough.

Thankfully, there are a growing number of arcades serving the not so niche market of vintage electronic entertainment seekers. One such place is the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park, which despite sounding like a gallery dedicated to geriatric genitals, is fortunately nothing of the sort. Having heard about this place for years, I finally checked it out during a recent all-too-rare visit to my beloved Jersey Shore and was blown away – you walk in and see row after row of about 100 pinball games all lovingly cared for and in perfect working condition. And each one has a sign above it giving you the year the machine was made and a brief back story.

And what’s great about the place is that you pay a flat hourly (or half hourly) fee up front, and then have access to every single machine, all of which have been retrofitted with a start button instead of having to feed them quarters. That’s right – no more having to deal with that stupid change machine that keeps spitting your dollar out, or having to keep fishing into your weighted down pocket to get a new quarter when you lose. Although I’m sure some would argue that that’s part of the experience of being at an arcade. Read the rest of this post »

What’s Overrated in New Jersey?

Posted November 22, 2015 by armpitnj
Categories: Top 5

Tags: , , , , ,

Everyone loves to spit on and shit on New Jersey so much that it can be easy to forget all the good things about the state. But on the other hand, there are certain people, places, and things to emerge from the Armpit of America that are, for reasons beyond comprehension, held in undeservingly high esteem. Which is a long-winded way of saying some shit about this state is overrated.

In a recent article for NJ.com, Peter Genovese, a prolific writer on all things New Jersey, listed what he perceives to be the 10 most overrated things about the state. He certainly hit the proverbial nail on the head with many of his selections. Case in point – pork roll – that hodgepodge of various piggy parts most widely enjoyed nestled between a bun with egg and cheese. As Genovese widely points out, who wouldn’t want bacon instead? He also lists the entire city of Hoboken, which indeed is just one big pile of yuppy/hipster overratedness.

And as with any good, provocative opinion piece, there are certain things I’d have to disagree with. Most notably, the inclusion of full-service gas stations. What’s not to love about sitting in your car and having someone else do the dirty work? [While we’re on the subject, I’m pleased to share that after nearly three years of living on Long Island, I am still on track to fulfill one of my life’s goals of never pumping my own gas. It certainly helps to have a full service gas station around the corner (well worth the extra few cents they charge) and a very understanding wife.]

Anyway, Genovese’s post got me thinking about what I would consider the most overrated things about New Jersey. So, here we go:

  1. Saltwater Taffy: Sure, it’s one of the most iconic treats of the Jersey Shore, but does anyone actually like it? It’s always stale and impossible to chew, and all the muted flavors taste pretty much the same. Want something chewy that will rot your teeth? Stick with Starburst, Laffy Taffy, Now and Laters, etc. and don’t waste your money on this boardwalk staple.
  2. Bon Jovi: From what I can tell, Jon Bon Jovi is a wonderful person, generous philanthropist and proud New Jerseyan. But face it, his namesake band is overrated, and their songs that bring to mind images of big-haired 80s Jersey mall brats do this state no favors.
  3. Grease Trucks: Don’t get me wrong, I have fond memories of the Grease Trucks of Rutgers University and their legendary “fat sandwiches” stuffed with whatever you can think of. But let’s face it – those things just don’t taste good. Sorry, but fries on a sandwich are not a good idea – especially when they’re cold, unsalted and shoved between various meats.
  4. Asbury Park: Just like Hoboken to the North, Asbury Park is an overpriced, overrated mix of high-end boutiques, unnecessary fusion restaurants and a level of pretentiousness that has no place on the Jersey Shore.
  5. Bar A: Oh Bar A – the place where summer supposedly never ends. While this Belmar landmark was the location of many fun nights in my younger days, it has transformed into a weird hybrid of a swanky New York City Club, with its long line to get in and $500 a bottle table service, and a Miami Beach night club, with its cabanas on the sand – albeit a sand volleyball court.

 

My Tribute to New Jersey Corn

Posted August 22, 2015 by armpitnj
Categories: Food

Tags: , , ,

It’s been way too long since I last posted, so let’s get back into the swing by talking about something of crucial importance: corn.

corn

That most humble of crops, corn is one of the most widely consumed plants there is. But it rarely gets the respect it deserves. It’s processed and transformed beyond recognition into things like corn chips, corn syrup, ethanol, animal feed and who knows what else. Or, it’s kernels are unceremoniously stripped off their cobs and shoved into tin cans or stuffed into plastic bags where they end up in the supermarket’s freezer section for eternity.

But for two months a year, we get to experience how corn should be experienced – slathering it in butter and gnawing it right of the cob. Sure it’s messy and unsightly, but when it’s summer and the corn is ripe, there’s no better way to eat it. And there is no place that does corn better than New Jersey.

For whatever reason, Jersey corn is the best in the country (take that, Iowa!), offering ears full of juicy kernels as sweet as candy, putting that nasty candy corn shit to shame. But why New Jersey of all places? Some say it’s the naturally fertile soil – or maybe there’s just a lot of fertilizer in the soil. Could it be that all the chemical runoff causes some kind of reaction to make it better? Or maybe when God was creating New Jersey, he knew that one day it would be the butt of everyone’s jokes and known more for corrupt politicians and trashy reality TV stars than anything else, so he blessed the land with the best corn on earth. It’s plausible.

But as good as the corn in New Jersey may be, there is one place that offers corn superior to anywhere else in the state, Samaha’s Farm Market of Aberdeen. This staple of my home town simply offers the best corn there is. I can’t tell you how many summer meals from my childhood to my adult life were made all the more better with Samaha’s corn. It’s so good, anytime we’d make the trip to Long Island to visit relatives, said relatives would implore that we stop at Samaha’s on the way and bring this holy Jersey corn (or as native New Yorkers call it, “cawn”) across the border. And now that I’m living on Long Island, I’m the one demanding delivery of Samaha’s corn.

And it’s definitely worth it. From the minute you eagerly rip away the husk and gently brush away the fair silk to reveal those virginal, cream-colored kernels, you know you’re in for something special. And when they’re in their water bath steaming away, it will seem like the longest minutes of your life as the scent of corn gently caresses your nostrils. Once cooked, you might be tempted to dive right it in, but be careful, it will be pretty hot; besides, the corn, being the temptress that she is, wants you to take it slow and savor every minute.

corn porn

Corn porn!

Woah, got a little carried away there. Anyway, you definitely could eat the corn as is and be perfectly content – it certainly doesn’t need any additions. But there are no heroes when it comes to corn. Go ahead and gild the lily by slathering it with butter and salt – it makes the experience all the better and perfectly acceptable to use a phrase like “gild the lily.”

corn butter

So, if you’ve never had Jersey corn before, I strongly recommend that you make the trip to the Armpit of America and try it – you’ll never look at corn the same way again.

Movie Review: Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!

Posted January 17, 2015 by armpitnj
Categories: Music, Reviews

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Almost two years ago, I took one for the team and watched – and reviewed – the craptacular movie known as Eddie and the Cruisers, the 1983 film about a fictitious Jersey Shore band that was a complete rip-off of Mr. Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band. Though I was less than impressed with the movie and its dumb plot, it did capture the spirit of the Jersey Shore pretty well. And though I swore back then that I’d never watch it again, I did feel compelled to watch its sequel, 1989’s Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! – admittedly for no other reason than to have something to blog about.

To understand this film, I’ll first give a brief recap of its predecessor. Back in 1963, we’re introduced to singer/guitarist Eddie Wilson and his band, the Cruisers. They play the Jersey Shore bar scene, make an album, and get popular. Then they make a second album, but the record label didn’t like it, so the overly sensitive Eddie freaks out and steals the tapes, hides them, and kills himself. After an excessively long and drawn out plot, which hints that Eddie could have possibly faked his own death, his former bandmates find the lost tapes and sell them to the record label.

Fast-forward 20 years to when Eddie and the Cruisers II: Cruise Control takes place, and the band’s music is more popular than ever. That makes things weird for a particular construction worker in Canada who – spoiler alert – is really Eddie! Turns out he didn’t kill himself and just wanted to escape the spotlight by taking a blue-collar job in some alternate version of Montreal where no one speaks French and everyone has an American accent. To blend in, all Eddie has to do is grow out a pornstache and change his name to Joe West, and no one has a clue about his former identity.

Eddie looking just like a porn star...or gym teacher

Eddie looking just like a porn star…or gym teacher

However, his little secret is getting harder to keep. Not only did the record label release the album that they originally hated, but they also released the super secret tapes that Eddie recorded without his Cruisers. So, now that his music is all over the radio (and discussed on TV by special guest stars Martha Quinn of MTV fame and a rather spry 1989 version of Larry King), Eddie’s tough exterior is starting to crack. He even confides in his new love interest, Diane, about his real self. Read the rest of this post »

Destination Dogs in New Brunswick: You’ve Never Had a Hot Dog Like This

Posted January 3, 2015 by armpitnj
Categories: Food, New Brunswick

Tags: , , , , , ,

The hot dog is one of the most humble foods imaginable – take the animal scraps and organ meat that no one else will touch, throw them in a blender with nitrates and pink food coloring, put the resulting slop in a plastic casing, and serve it on a bland roll that falls apart as soon as you touch it. But at Destination Dogs in New Brunswick, the simple hot dog is elevated to entirely new levels.

Though I heard about this establishment a couple of years ago, I didn’t make it over there until recently – a very poor mistake on my part. Like most people when they think of a “hot dog place,” I had imagined just a dumpy little shack where you go to a counter, they pull a hot dog off one of those rotating warmer things and slop on some sauerkraut as you stand there. Instead, Destination Dogs is a full on, sit-down, fill-up dining experience. Residing at the what used to be Doll’s Place, which despite sounding like a strip club was actually one of the nicer bars in the midst of the numerous hole-in-the-wall drinking spots surrounding Rutgers University, Destination Dogs offers a menu full of gourmet offerings that go far beyond a simple hot dog, including a wide variety of meats and almost unlimited number of toppings.

Hot dog, or work of art?

Hot dog, or work of art?

Putting the “destination” in destination dogs, each item is inspired by a different part of the world. For instance, you’ve got the “Howlamo” from Texas, consisting of a wild boar sausage topped with pork belly, chicharonnes, and baconaisse; the “Swede-Dreams” from Sweden – a Swedish meatball sausage covered with mashed potatoes, gravy, and lingonberry jam; and the “Slumdog Meal-ionaire” from India, a vegetarian hot dog with samosa filling and curry sauce. Read the rest of this post »

A South Jersey Vocabulary Lesson

Posted August 2, 2014 by armpitnj
Categories: Random

Tags: , , , , , ,

South Jersey DictionaryMuch has been written and discussed about the divide between North Jersey and South Jersey – not just the literal border between the two regions, but also the cultural differences. And having spent 29 years in the neutral ground of Central Jersey, I’ve been witness to the best and worst of both sides. And one of the worst things about South Jersey is its vernacular, which is unlike anywhere else in Jersey – or the world.

So if you ever find yourself below the belt of the Armpit of America, as in south of Route 195, you will likely hear the following crazy new words:

Hoagie

While the rest of the world would call a long roll filled with various meats and cheeses, smothered in shredded lettuce and dripping with oil and vinegar a sub (or submarine sandwich if you want to get formal), South Jerseyans refer to this item by the totally unappetizing term of “hoagie.” To me, hoagie sounds like something you would call the vomited up remains of a sub, but in South Jersey, that’s what they call dinner.

In either case, they love their hoagies down there, with South Jersey convenience store chain Wawa even having Hoagiefest each year. (Warning: by clicking on that link, you’ll hear a jingle about hoagies that will immediately get stuck in your head.)

Wooder

If you are dining at a restaurant in New Jersey’s Dixieland and the waiter asks you if you would like a “wooder,” don’t be alarmed; he isn’t offering you his erection. That’s just how the natives say the word “water.”

Wooder Ice

One of the most perplexing terms you’ll hear in South Jersey is “wooder ice,” or water ice. That is the term they call the frozen dessert that everyone else refers to as Italian ice. Even more confusing, there are places in South Jersey that advertise their “Polish Water Ice,” which sounds like the butt of some joke and not something I’d want to put in my mouth.

Jimmies

Staying on the topic of frozen treats, we move on to “jimmies.” Everywhere else in the world, those brightly colored bits of sugar and wax are called “sprinkles” – but not in South Jersey. South of the border, they call these ice cream staples jimmies for reasons not fully understood.

Hoooome

This word simply means “home,” but in the South Jersey accent it is pronounced with a ridiculously long “O” sound. I know it’s hard to explain, but try stretching the “ho” part of the word, with your lips gradually coming closer together until you get to the “m” part. And that’s how they say “home” – and similar sounding words like “phone” or “alone” – in South Jersey.

[Yes, I know these words and pronunciations are more indicative of the greater Philadelphia area, but it’s just fun to pick on South Jersey. Don’t worry, I’ll be making fun of North Jersey soon enough!]