Posted tagged ‘Asbury Park’

Let’s Talk About Vintage Arcade Games…Again!

June 25, 2016

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. (more…)

Advertisements

What’s Overrated in New Jersey?

November 22, 2015

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.

 

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

January 17, 2015

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. (more…)

Top 5 Bruce Songs About New Jersey

March 9, 2010
I wish my Jew-fro looked half as good as that...

Are we sure he's not Jewish?

A few weeks ago, I created a list of what I consider the top 5 songs about the Armpit of America. Noticeably absent from that list were songs by Bruce Springsteen. Since the patron saint of New Jersey has written so many songs about the state, it would be impossible to pick just one. So I made this list of the top 5 Bruce Springsteen songs about New Jersey.

1. Born to Run – Perhaps the most famous of all Bruce’s songs, Born to Run takes us into a world of motorcycle-riding punks looking for love and a way to escape from this horrible state. Now you may be wondering why I would include a song that is so obviously about getting the fuck out of New Jersey (especially with lines like “Baby this town rips the bones from your back / It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap / We gotta get out while we’re young / ‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run“). But, as anyone who has ever lived in this state knows, wanting to get the hell out of here is part of the whole Jersey experience.

2. Rosalita (Come Out Tonight) – In this fun little song, Bruce sings about the trouble a guy has trying to get the girl of his desire to go out with him. Though he pleads and pleads to get her to come out (to meet up with characters like Jack the Rabbit, Weak Knees Willie, and Sloppy Sue) Rosalita refuses, since her parents don’t approve of her rock-n-rolling suitor. Our hero refuses to give up, though, and explains to the girl that a record company just gave him “a big advaaaancceeee!!!” At this point, the narrator forgets about convincing Rosie to hang out with local hooligans and, instead, he’s dead set on getting the fuck out of New Jersey. Especially since someone slashed his tires, rendering his car “a dud, stuck in the mud, somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.” Though we don’t know if he was successful in ever getting Rosalita out of her room, it sure is fun watching him try. (more…)

Why Gay Marriage Should Be Allowed in NJ

December 8, 2009

The state legislature of New Jersey will vote this week on whether or not to make gay marriage legal in the Armpit of America. Last night, the New Jersey Senate’s Judiciary Committee voted 7-6 in favor of legalizing gay marriage. The measure will go before the entire senate this coming Thursday. Should it pass that round, the vote would then go to the State Assembly. If it passes there, it would end up on lame duck Governor Corzine’s desk, and he has vowed to sign this bill.

I, for one, hope it passes. Though I am by no means a gay rights activist, and my life will continue just as before if the bill doesn’t get passed, I simply don’t see any reason why two men or two women shouldn’t be given the same rights that us straight people have. If a completely wasted couple that just met in Las Vegas can walk into a chapel and get legally married, why can’t two women or two men that have decided to devote their lives to each other have that same privilege?

I have another reason for hoping New Jersey allows gay marriage. If it does, it would certainly make the Armpit of America a better place. Think about it. Should New Jersey grant homosexuals the right to marry, our state would likely see an influx of gays and lesbians. And when the gays and lesbians come to town, good things happen. Don’t believe me? Just look at Asbury Park. What was once a trashy, run-down ghetto, our gay brothers and sisters have transformed into a center of high culture. What were once decrepit old restaurants are now exotic fusion cuisine eateries. What was once a sleazy pawn shop is now a high-end clothing boutique. And let’s not forget about those decaying Victorian houses throughout the town that the lesbians and gays (with their unrivaled carpentry and decorating skills) have restored to their former glory.

Now if our homosexual friends can transform Asbury Park like that, imagine what they could do for the rest of the state. And if they can make New Jersey just a little more fabulous, we might finally break free of our bad reputation. Well, probably not, but it’s worth a try.

If gay marriage is allowed, New Jersey will be the sixth state in the country to make it legal. We would be in good company with several other liberal, northeastern states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The other state allowing gay marriage? Iowa. Yes, that middle of America state known for its farm folk and not much else allows gay marriage. New Jersey, are we really gonna let a state like Iowa outdo us on this? If we don’t act know, who knows, maybe other backwater states like Kansas or West Virginia will beat us to it as well. Aside from that, New York recently shot down its gay marriage bill. So now is our chance to outshine our bigger, more popular neighbor.

The vote to legalize gay marriage in New Jersey is pretty urgent. In about a month, Jon Corzine will leave office and Chris Christie will take over as governor. Corzine pledged to sign the bill should it reach his desk. Christie vowed to veto any such bill once he’s in office. So, hopefully our legislature will make the right decision. It will be the first step in improving the Armpit of America, and it would let the disgraced Corzine leave us with something more to remember him by than that embarrassing car crash.

I <3 My New Jersey License Plate Ashtray

November 21, 2009

About a year and a half ago, I was on the boardwalk in Asbury Park and walked into a little shop selling various New Jersey paraphernalia. The shelves were full of baseball caps with the logo of the Stone Pony, glittery t-shirts stating “Jersey Girl,” and a whole bunch of different items with the Tillie face on them. In the middle of all these Jersey Shore beach shop standards was something different.

It was a piece of a New Jersey license plate that was made into an ashtray. It had a depressed, round center and grooves on the side for placing the cigarettes. I was in love at first sight.

Could there a better symbol to epitomize the trashiness of the Armpit of America than a beat up New Jersey license plate transformed into a receptacle for cigarette butts? I think not. The very act of smashing a lit cigarette into the heart of New Jersey’s iconic pale yellow plate is a metaphor for something I’m not quite sure of myself. And the image of a pile of ashes right next to the words “Garden State” is such an irony that even Alanis Morissette wouldn’t know what to do with it.

Despite the philosophical issues that a stupid New Jersey license plate ashtray provides, I didn’t buy it. For one, the price was a little too steep for my liking. Especially since, (reason #2) I don’t smoke. Thirdly, I was honestly too embarrassed to bring the item to the register. Even though the store was staffed by two emo freaks with those nasty plugs in their ear lobes, I would have felt like a misfit spending $40 on a discarded piece of metal banged up until it vaguely resembled an ashtray.

So I left that shop empty handed. And I have regretted the decision ever since. Fast-forward to a couple months ago. I found myself back in Asbury Park on a mission. I was going to buy the license plate ashtray. Running past hoards of the homosexual yuppie hipsters that have now taken over and enormously improved Asbury Park, I made my way to that beach shop. I was shocked with what I found. The whole shop was gone. Along with it, my dreams of putting out imaginary cigarettes on a New Jersey license plate.

But the dream didn’t die. I’m happy to announce that, as of today, I am the proud owner of a New Jersey license plate ashtray! The circumstances of how exactly it came into my possession are still somewhat unclear. I don’t know who made it, where exactly it came from, or what it cost. All I know is that someone wanted me to have it. And now I do. Here she is:

Is that not a thing of beauty? The golden yellow color is reminiscent of the sun setting over Newark Bay. It also makes one think of the teeth of a cashier at Wawa. Or the urine-soaked pants of a hobo on the streets of Jersey City. All in all, the essence of New Jersey.

So now that I have this thing, what in the world can I do with it? Taking up smoking is clearly an option. But I figure it would take days, maybe even weeks to get addicted. I need a more immediate use for my New Jersey license plate ashtray.

I could use it as a pen holder:

Or a coaster:

Or a change receptacle:

Or a bookmark:

Or a place to put my keys:

It could even be a candy dish:

So in the last picture, those are actually Tylenol PMs, since I don’t have any candy. But you get the idea.

What do you think I should do with my new New Jersey license plate ashtray???