Flea Market Fiasco!

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Recently I mentioned to Dinosaur Dracula that I had never been to the Englishtown Flea Market. For some reason, I’ve been to every other damn flea market in existence, but not Englishtown. Lived in Jersey my entire life, never been. To others from around here, that’s not an outrage or an insult or anything, but it’s more like “you’ve breathed in air before, right?” I felt that 2014 was the time to finally make this trip happen.

The flea market is not far away and I always heard friends mention that they tend to find cool stuff there, so I really had no justification for never going there. Who better to join me on my first visit to this place than Dino Drac? Partners in crime is really an appropriate moniker for all the calamity and misadventures we’ve inadvertently entangled ourselves in. Matt’s been there several times and he kept mentioning a pretty awesome vintage toy shop that he found in one of the buildings. That was literally all I needed to hear to get me to want to go.

Also encouraging me was the forecast, Saturday was going to be partly sunny and reach the low 50s. Since most of us in the Tri-State area have been cooped up at home for the last month or so battling all these ridiculous snow storms, it was about time that we had a nice sunny day that we could go outside and enjoy rather than breaking our backs shoveling snow and freezing our asses off. Parts of this flea market are indoors while many of the vendors are outdoors, so either way it was a win.

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Loose TMNT figures on a peg board at the Flea Market

Matt, Ms.X, and myself took a laid back drive down Route 9 as I sipped a Monster and we bullshitted. None of us knew what we could encounter on this day. The possibilities were endless. How many useless things would I come home with? I was feeling really confident that going to Englishtown was the right decision. It was the perfect thing to do on the first sunny and mild Saturday we had in forever. Spending it with good friends and having a few laughs was the right move. It’s almost like therapy after the mind numbing grind of a long work week. It all made sense…for a little while.

Finding parking is one aspect of my life that I don’t like to spend too much time on. I’m not sure it’s an actual pet peeve, but for instance, I have absolutely no time in my life to waste on searching for the perfect parking spot at a mall during the holidays. I’d just as soon park 2 miles away and walk. I was pleased to find that the parking scene at the Englishtown Flea Market wasn’t even bad at all. Considering there were two huge lots to park in, I didn’t have to stress about it.

The first lot was literally made of mud. The entire ground was all mud. I started into some My Cousin Vinny lines while we all made the conscious decision NOT to park in the lot that was all mud because my car might sink into the mud and we’d be stranded there. I pulled right out of there and drove into the adjacent lot which, oddly enough, only had about 7 cars in it. Fortunately, this lot wasn’t all mud, it was ALL ice and slush. Much of the ice and snow started melting in the past few days but we figured it would be wiser to park on ice and melted snow than…mud. I walked away with the positivity that we made a very clear headed decision that would benefit us in the long run.

Hopping over puddles and snow, into the flea market we went. At first, it reminded me of any other outdoor flea market. Lots of vendors, lots of similar crap. Discounted drinks in bulk. Women’s bags. Cheap fragrances. Insanely huge Rey Mysterio blankets. You know, all that kind of stuff. Flea Market stuff.

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Airbrushed Terminator T-Shirt and my personal fav: DOUG.
What’s a New Jersey Flea Market without an airbrush shop?

I knew not to really expect much from a flea market because they’re usually inundated with aisle after aisle of the same crap. As you walk through the rows of vendors you’ll notice every 3 of them offer bootleg action figures. You know them – the multi-pack where Batman looks like he’s a repainted Frankenstein and Superman has blue hair and a very scared look on his face. Then always right beside those are bootleg Marvel and Power Rangers figures.

Down each aisle we ventured to see the real garage sale type fare. These people offered the kind of items you might see at a local yard sale or out on the curb in your neighborhood. Piles of used clothes, old cassette tapes, old stereo equipment, random packs of gum, and that was all the high end shit. Down one of these aisles of doom is where I made my first of two purchases of the day.

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If you’ve had no luck trying to track down a high quality King Tut sweatshirt, 
Englishtown Auction is YOUR one stop shop! *Thank you to Sam for correcting me in the comments- I mistakenly referred to this as the Sphinx.

A couple of sellers had random piles of old records. If you know me, I need more records like I need a hole in my head, but for those who aren’t aware, I don’t need more music options at home. I’m inundated as it is. But to me, when it comes to vinyl, I completely grasp the sound differences, but it’s more about discovering a record I would enjoy in a big pile of them and then appreciating the front and back cover art, that’s what really grabs me. Out of piles from two different sellers, I found Blondie’s Parallel Lines and the Flashdance Soundtrack. Although I’ve never even seen Flashdance, it’s got a pretty legendary soundtrack and a great cover, so I went with it. A buck each!

The sun was beaming down and we were enjoying the day as we continued scanning each table. “Let’s check in one of these buildings to see if we can find that toy shop,” Matt said in a very Jay is probably going to write about this so I will make this sentence sound very generic sort of way. The interior definitely reminded me of the types of flea markets that I’ve been to in the past, so I was in familiar territory now. The giant drums of pickles, airbrushed t-shirts, the faint scent of leather, it was all present.

We couldn’t find the toy shop in the first building we went into, but the day was young. Matt and Mrs.X bought some fresh spicy nuts imported from TOMS RIVER, NJ, which I guess is the spicy nut capital of New Jersey. You’d think I would’ve known this tidbit, but I had no clue!

We stopped into a few decent shops, but couldn’t find the one Matt was describing to me.

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There was an action figure shop that had tons of wrestling figures, G.I Joe’s, and TMNT figures, so we were guided by the scent of old plastic and dust. This is where my second purchase comes in. Total impulse buy. At one time I owned every WWF Hasbro figure ever and eventually I sold them on eBay like a chump for no good reason. For a while now I had the original Macho Man Randy Savage back on my radar. This was not the Macho King or the later Macho Man release with the white jacket and hat – this was the original with the star trunks. $10. So worth it, wouldn’t you agree?

We did manage to find one shop that housed everything for your army/navy surplus needs all the way to a Ben Cooper style Jake Lloyd costume from Phantom Menace. There’s four dealers in the world who specialize in young Anakin collectibles and this guy must be one of them. This store looked like someone’s basement. 50 years worth of dusty junk packed into this tiny little store. Hanging from the ceiling and stuffed into shelves were a couple of TV trays that caught my eye. One was Batman Returns and the other was E.T. I can’t remember the exact price the guy quoted me for the used Batman Returns tray, but I believe he said he couldn’t accept less than $20 – $30 dollars because “these TV trays are really hot right now.”

At this point, I was almost happy that we didn’t find the toy shop yet because knowing me I would’ve found something that I desperately wanted for some exorbitant amount of money. The same moment that thought crossed my mind is the exact same moment Matt found the toy shop. He wasn’t joking, this place is the crown jewel of the Englishtown Auction. Matt and Ms.X had me close my eyes as I walked in. Opened them up and was immediately in awe.

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I spy a Jack Napier WANTED Poster hanging on the wall!

From a vintage Strawberry Shortcake bake shop to about 200 original Kenner Star Wars figures in varying degrees of condition, this place was definitely worth the trip. You’re not going to get yard sale prices here though, prices here basically mirror what’s on eBay. Nothing stood out for me specifically, but I think this is where Matt came into contact with his latest toy “adoptions” as it were. More on that in a bit.

Next, I needed to find a bathroom to pee out all the energy drink from earlier. We found one and I cautiously entered. I saw a bathroom greeter, the type of greeter you might see at a swank restaurant. Sometimes they hold the towel for you as you wash your hands. Well, this guy was the absolute greatest men’s room greeter OF ALL TIME. This was his schpeel word for word or as accurate as I can remember it: “WELCOME TO THE BATHROOM MY GOOD MAN, I HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR STAY, THIS BATHROOM IS VERY CLEAN AND SMELLS OF FINE, FRESH CITRUS FRUITS, IF YOU SO CHOOSE PLEASE LEAVE A SMALL TOKEN OF YOUR APPRECIATION AND YOU WILL BE GRANTED ONE WISH – THE CHOICE OF ANY CANDY OUT OF THE 8 RANDOM PIECES ON THIS MAGICAL PLATE THAT I FOUND OUTSIDE. PLEASE COME BACK AGAIN VERY SOON.”

On that note, we ended our stay at the Englishtown Flea Market. 
We headed back to the car. Happy with all our purchases we hopped in and I started up the car and the music. Only problem was, the wheels were spinning, but we weren’t moving. We were kicking up lots of mud and eventually it sunk into our heads that WE were also sunk…IN THE MUD. Underneath all the snow and slush was mud, just like that other lot. Who knew that we probably would’ve been better off parking in that other lot after all? 
Matt suggested that we use our records to wedge under the wheels to give the car some traction. It was a valiant effort. Him and I then used our incredible super powers to try to push the car out, but that didn’t work either. Ms.X wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty and she hacked away at large pieces of ice near the wheels. Luckily I had a shovel in the back of my car and I was trying to shovel us out, to no avail. There was no winning this battle. The wheels were sunken into the mud about halfway! Making matters worse, the front bumper of the car was hanging over one of those concrete stoppers that kept you from driving out onto the road. This cause the front of the car to basically snap off.
My only defense was calling road service. As I did that, a nice guy with a giant 4-wheel drive ORV with bullet holes the size of matzoh balls who looked like Lebron James offered to tie a rope to the back of my car and attempt to pull me out. This guy also helped several other cars that got stuck in the mud and slush as well. Thank you to that guy. I would say “if he’s reading this,” but there’s less than zero chance that he read The Sexy Armpit. This guy saved us from sacrificing those records!

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We needed to get on the road so this day didn’t start to deteriorate even more rapidly. With some parts of the undercarriage dangling onto the road we hightailed it out of there. After a few miles, Ms.X and I saw a Mexican place on route 9 that reminded us of Jose Tejas. Formerly Damon’s Grill, this place took on a Mexican gimmick back in October. I’d been interested in going there, but haven’t had the chance. As we came upon it, I abruptly made an executive decision and turned into the parking lot. We needed some Mexican beer, Patron, Mexican food, and of course, guacamole power – in that order. It saved the day…for a little while. Name of the place is Rosalita’s Roadside Cantina in Manalapan, NJ if you’re ever in the area or want to replicate this debacle of a trip.

Thanks to Matt and Ms.X for all their help and their patience. We were all soaked and full of mud, but they persevered! Once we got home, I brought down the mood once again by losing an eBay auction on an item that I wanted more than you can imagine for the better part of my life. What a day! Thank God Miss Sexy Armpit brought snacks.

*I urge you to read about Matt’s finds from this experience. Being the benevolent guy he is, he found “5 Misfit Toys” that needed a home, and he paid the adoption fees and signed all the paper work so he could give them a good home. READ ALL ABOUT IT AT THIS LINK OVER AT DINOSAUR DRACULA!!

Grocery Store Gluttony

I often go on “kicks.” Occasionally it’s a Dorito kick, other times its a certain energy drink. Whatever the ingestable item is, it’s usually way overloaded with carbs and calories and it isn’t vital to maintaining my body’s daily functions. But what’s life without it’s little treats, right? I really just think I have a “Hi My Name is Sucker” sticker tattooed above my left pectoral. I feel myself blowing up into a fat blubbery mess rapidly as I write this post; the calories are even making the words gain weight. Remember how Audrey engorged herself in National Lampoon’s European Vacation? Well, call me Audrey Griswold and today I’ll show you what I’ve been stuffing my face with.

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After my recent flight to Vegas, I immediately found myself a new early morning obsession. And NO…it’s not New Multi-Grain Masturbate-O’s so get that out of your head! Airplane food is supposed to suck, but on this trip a breakfast epiphany came in the shape of a neat travel sized package of Honey Nut Chex. It was one of those plastic packages where I peeled back the plastic covering, poured the milk right in and I was ready to go. The only time I ever eat Chex is when I’m at a family gathering and my aunt has Chex mix in a bowl. These Honey Nut Chex were a whole different facet of the Chex experience. They made my morning and from that moment I knew had to go on one of my obsession bent shopping sprees to obtain as many varieties of Chex as I could. Since then, my mouth has been enjoying my morning mistress named Honey Nut Chex. Where have they been all my life? Screw Multi-Grain Masturbate-O’s I hear they make you go blind!

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Pringles are highly addictive. It’s my theory that their texture has much to do with their popularity. They are crunchy, yet soft at the same time. The variety of flavors offered by Pringles is also another one of their strong points. You might walk into your chip aisle in the store and find up to 6 versions of Pringles. Just the fact that I have that type of choice turns me on. I could hate their product but I would still be completely in love with the idea that I could choose from Chili Cheese, Jalepeno, or Loaded Baked Potato. I don’t fuck with any of those even though they’re no doubt luscious.

While in Vegas I spent $10 for a side of guacamole with my tortilla chips at The Border Grill at Mandalay Bay. Upon my return to the armpit I bought a whole canister of pringles that combined chips and the flavor of guacamole all for around 2 bucks. These chips are a light green color and taste just like guacamole. So forget about having your wallet raped at some Mexican restaraunt when you can go to the store and buy a can of Pringles. I should go back and mention this to them when they offer me guacamole and don’t bother to tell me that they’re going to charge me $10 bucks for it! Rat bastards.

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The Soda Wars are an eternal discussion between my friends, family, and I. I don’t know what it is but Soda always incites such a debate. People feel so passionate about their bubbly beverages that they’ll fight to the deaths for them! You’d think Coca-Cola was some sort of messiah. Don’t fuck with fervent fans of Coke and Pepsi because the argument will get you nowhere. For some reason people just get confused when you tell them you’re favorite soda is Dr. Pepper. The DP has always been my favorite soda, even though I did commit a few adulteries with Mountain Dew when I couldn’t stay up studying for those exams back in college. I remember when I was very young and I first had my taste of Soda, Coca-Cola was the only brand I knew of. Naturally that was the only one I asked for until I was finally able to taste Dr. Pepper. As I got older and started shying away from such sugary, syrupy concoctions, I began to prefer Pepsi over Coke if I was forced to make the decision.

Nowadays I try not to drink soda unless it’s the only thing available, Pepsi has released a soda that may very well be exactly what I needed in a soft drink. I’ve tried to end my reliance on energy drinks, and I feel guilty downing regular soda so Diet Pepsi Max has filled the void. It’s taste is so close to real Pepsi that I couldn’t believe it! The fact that the drink also features a jolt of caffeine and ginseng is just an added bonus. If the prescenece of caffeine doesn’t bother you then consider that Diet Pepsi Max is the way Diet Pepsi should taste. As for the jolt of energy, and even with all of the double shots of Amp and Monster that I’ve gulped down, Diet Pepsi Max leaves you off with a slight euphoric feeling. I’m not saying you’re going to run around hugging people, but there’s a definite nice low key buzz without the jitters.

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Fuze has a refreshing line of beverages including my preference the Green Tea with honey and ginseng. Somehow it contains 2 servings of vegetables the all important yerba mate. I’ve never heard of yerba mate but it seems to be the latest in trendy foreign plants that may yeild possible health benefits such as stress relief and colon cleansing. Fuze Green Tea also all throws in all that fancy stuff like polyphenols, antioxidants, folic acid, and a plethora of vitamins which may or may not have any effect on me but sound important. In another amazin feat, Fuze also markets versions that claim to help you lose weight, give you energy, refresh your sorry ass, balance your check book, and help you win at poker.

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Recently, I was on an Ice Breakers Lemon Iced Tea kick, and I still am, although I found a new variety (pictured above) that are also enjoyable. Watermelon was the grabber for me in this variety pack but I also enjoy the Pink Lemonade flavor. These Ice Breakers turn sour in your mouth so if you’re into that kind of thing then give them a try.

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The act of stealing food from a child may be called despicable, but swiping a child’s Scooby Snacks is just plain wrong. I’m kidding, I didn’t steal them, I was bestowed an entire box of individual packages of Scooby Snacks! My mom bought them for my niece and nephew and they didn’t like them so I hit the jackpot. I’ve always been a big fan of Scooby and graham crackers so baking them in the shape of a dog bone and selling them as Scooby snacks is a smooth move on Keebler’s part. There’s been a few different versions of Scooby Snacks on the market but these are the best.

If there’s any other items you’d think I should add to my grocery shopping list please let me know in the comments!

The Sexy Armpit’s Trip to Monster Miniature Golf

As sports go, I’ve never been truly good at any of them. I have my moments in basketball but my talents are better suited for thinking of outlandish ideas and growing slimy Captain America’s in my kitchen.

I always thought I was above “par” at miniature golf, but that one got shot down the other night when The Sexy Armpit took a trip to Monster Mini Golf in Fairfield New Jersey. I discovered this place on a Google search with my boss during lunch at work. We were thinking out loud and wondered if any indoor miniature golf places existed in New Jersey. What if it was raining one night and we just had an urge to go mini golfing? Damn, we’d be shit out of luck! So, as Google always does, it came back with plenty of helpful search results.

To my surprise, one of the results lead to Monster Mini Golf which looked awesome. I couldn’t believe I never heard of it before. Apparently it’s a chain across the country. Monster Mini Golf is basically the miniature golf version of a dark ride. I don’t see how anyone could not think that is one of the coolest things ever invented. It’s right up there with the advent of Peanut Butter and Jelly.

Not enough places take the time and effort into making their establishment original. Remember the quirky places you loved as a kid? Between the Showbiz Pizza places and Razmatazz, they all had charm. After a while there wasn’t one place that was brave enough to stand out. What happened to the “show,” and the “spectacle?” I think all people, especially kids need to escape the real world and be reminded that life is fun, not all business. I love the over the top animatronics and spooky displays that you see in dark rides and in amusement parks. It’s a mystery to me how we don’t have a place inspired by Magic Kingdom in the tri-state area. Besides Great Adventure, Sesame Place, and Chuck E. Cheese there’s nowhere to bring your kids for a fun time. Until now.

Finally there’s a place that reminds me of the type of place I loved to go to as a kid. Monster Mini Golf is the kind of place that makes a kid’s jaw hang open in awe for a while. I’ve posted a few pictures of some of the phantasmic displays you’ll see as you’re trying to put the ball in the hole in under 5 attempts. (Something I occasionally had difficulty with.) I’m usually easily amused by glow in the dark stuff and blacklights, so perhaps I was distracted?

When you’re finished with the game you can head over to the game room and play some air hockey, shoot hoops, and even get a taste of the boardwalk with some ski-ball. All the games will spit out some tickets that you can cash in for some creepy little monster toys. We all opted for the Goblin rings. We were a few points shy, but the the guy at the desk was nice enough to give us all rings anyway.

This trip was a lot of fun and if you live far from Fairfield, N.J, I recommend you plan a little trip to Route 46. You won’t be disappointed, and afterward there’s no shortage of restaurants and malls in the surrounding area. Go with a group or bring your kids and you’re sure to have a good time without spending a lot of money. If you’re apprehensive to take a far ride, then at the very least you should plan to go before Halloween. It’s one of those places that definitely has personality, and I commend the owners for being brave enough to open one in New Jersey and for having such a courteous, helpful staff.

Also, you may want to stop by Jose Tejas after the big game for some Tejas Chicken. They are the best Tex-Mex restaurant in existence and it’s authentic atmosphere will make you feel like you’re in From Dusk Til’ Dawn or something. Ever wonder about the “meat on a stick” conversation in There’s Something About Mary? Well, Jose Tejas listened and created boneless chicken on a stick with a semi-hot buffalo type sauce. After a knock down, drag out game of Monster mini-golf, they were a perfect way to end the night.
With my silly little Sony Cybershot camera I took some video and edited it up real nice for you! Take a look and leave a comment if you enjoy it! Perhaps next time I’ll take a crack at Women’s Beach Volleyball?

The Sexy Armpit Goes Hollywood Dawg!

From the swamps, fumes, toxic sludge, and the congestion of New Jersey, The Sexy Armpit flew all the way across the country to Los Angeles, California. Like alot of other kids I knew, I grew up with a bit of an inflated idea of Hollywood. As a kid, I pictured famous people everywhere, hot girls galore, and bright sunny days. Regardless of my love for the state I was born and raised in, Hollywood sits on a gold encrusted throne high above any other city I’ve ever visited. There’s a slew of reasons why this town offers so much more than just the random celebrity sightings. (Mena Suvari, Ian Ziering, and Rebecca Gayheart just to name a few) If you’re trying to keep up with “the scene,” then you know that everything in Hollywood IS based on you’re look. It seems like the only people there who aren’t beautiful are some of the tourists, excluding myself of course…ahem. joke. I looked like a mutant compared to some of the natives. Those hot, hot, natives. Even the f’n mannequins are hotter there.

The most minuscule details of life in Hollywood seem to make everything about my life in New Jersey seem meaningless. I’ve always complained that “nothing cool ever happens in Jersey.” Of course that’s a generalization but it’s mostly true. It’s a disservice to say that the only thing cool about Hollywood is that there are celebrities all over the place. Actually, celebrity sightings just added to the amazing times I had there. In fact I don’t know if I can say I’ve ever had that much fun doing anything in New Jersey. If I stood on one leg eating a leftover bowl of macaroni in the middle of a street in Jersey and then did the same thing on the Sunset Strip…something tells me that it would be about 250,000 times more fun on the Strip. Maybe it’s because it’s called “The Strip?” It’s no coincidence that The Strip is home to the illustrious gentleman’s clubs that Motley Crue’s Vince Neil shouted out in “Girls, Girls, Girls” like the Seventh Veil, and The Body Shop. I couldn’t believe I was walking past places that are mentioned in a song that I’ve sang along to about 4,000 times! Screw you, that was exciting to me.

North Jersey guido’s or Jocks who are still re-living their high school football memories need not even visit Hollywood because they won’t fit in. The freaks, the flamboyant, and the filthy rich create the city’s aura and keep it’s blood pumping. New York was always said to be the city that never sleeps but Hollywood is way more of a constant party. There’s always an after party, and you’re never at a loss to find somewhere else to go. The people of the town are way more sociable than the angry, uptight NY/NJ people. Being a lifelong Jersey native and a person whose hung out in New York more times than you can imagine, it’s a fact that we’re a cold, aggressive bunch of folks. Even with smog blocking the sun on some days, Hollywood keeps it’s positive, go getting, adventurous atmosphere. That atmosphere may be what fuels people to go there to follow their dreams. Whether it was playing in a band, or acting, everyone seemed to have talent and ambition to “make it.” Believe it or not, just going out and showing your face consistently gives you your own “fun size” sample of star power.

Going to New York to follow your dreams may only land you a job on Wall Street or at a corner store selling fruit, energy drinks, and flowers. New York City in comparison to Hollywood is nothing but business. Not too much fun to be had there in Manhattan. You like Opera? Show tunes? Working your ass off? Traffic and honking? Getting lost? Then Manhattan is the place for you. Hollywood is all about a laid back, party atmosphere and it looks like not much has changed there in quite a long time. We even stayed in the Hyatt, West Hollywood because of it’s rich rock history. Click the link for a great rundown of facts about the hotel at Wikipedia.

In any local establishment in NJ all you hear over their sound system is Rhianna, Leona Lewis, John Mayer etc. All I had to do was travel 3,000 miles and in every establishment, EVEN MEXICAN RESTAURANTS, you can hear a whole slew of ’80s rock. Everywhere I was I heard Motley, Guns, Van Halen, Poison, and Bon Jovi. Even though it was only a few days, it gave me hope that at least some place in the world still likes to ROCK! Jersey sure as hell doesn’t remember that one of it’s own stereotypes was BIG HAIR!

The rock music scene is still alive and flourishing. While there seems to be no place for rock in New Jersey, Hollywood wears their rock rags proudly. Whether you wear eyeliner or high heel boots, everything rock is accepted. In fact, all kinds of music get their fair share of stage time on the strip. New York and New Jersey are famous for certain venues but I guess I missed their golden age. Music venues in Asbury Park, Atlantic City, and Hoboken have become historic because of the artists that would frequently play there. Heck, even the Izod Center in East Rutherford and The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville constantly has huge concerts with all the big names. The problem is, they aren’t the type of places you go to just hang out and coincidentally catch an awesome band who might hit it huge in a few years. Regardless of the fact that Manhattan is home to the most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, as well as places like Roseland, Hammerstein, and the defunct CBGB’s, the good stuff takes a while to travel over to the East Coast. Perhaps it’s the vastness of the metropolitan area that hinders it from being as great as Hollywood. You can’t walk down a street and choose between 3 concert venues all featuring several solid acts. I can’t imagine how far it would be to walk from Starland Ballroom in Sayreville all the way to the Izod Center in East Rutherford. (According to mapquest it’s about 36 miles and it would take about 50 minutes depending on traffic…bummer) In Hollywood I can walk from the Viper Room to the Key Club, to the Roxy all in a matter of a few minutes. Venues like the Whiskey-a-Go-Go and all the clubs on the strip are legendary for the great bands and artists that have played there. When you visit the Jersey Shore, you can hit up Jenkinson’s and check out a cover band, and then also check out Martell’s Tiki Bar and then…check out a cover band! Now don’t get me wrong I love cover bands but after you had the time in Hollywood that I did, Jersey pales in comparison.

In about 4 days here’s the rundown of all the bands I got to see, and it wasn’t even a festival! Check this out:
The Donnas 15th Anniversary show, a very intimate gathering for the Donnas hardcore fans, and family members. Wow, these girls have worked hard for 15 years already and they’re music and performances just keep getting stronger. Back in ’01 I got to interview Torry, (The Donnas drummer) for my radio show and finally got to meet her in person at this show. Their latest album Bitchin is a kick ass rock party album and is in stores now.

Vains of Jenna – I first heard about these Swedish guys a few years ago on Stevie Rachelle’s Metal Sludge site and I picked up their CD (which was released on Bam Margera’s record label) as soon as it came out. I’ve always been a fan of Swedish rock bands (like Dogpound) because the folks in Sweden eat, sleep, and bathe in rock and roll. They are so obsessed with it that they study rock music that was popular in the ’70s and ’80s in the U.S. You might ask, for a bunch of guys so serious about their craft how can they be bad? Unfortunately I was actually disappointed in the recording quality of “Lit Up, Let Down,” and there wasn’t that many tracks that blew me away. It just seemed like a bunch of guys doing throwback sleaze rock from the ’80s. WAS I WRONG! Have you ever heard the old adage that you have to experience a band live to make an accurate opinion on them? Remember how the first few KISS albums weren’t big sellers but after people started seeing their explosive, loud, rocking live show the band started to blow up. This is exactly how Veins of Jenna is going to do it. They played one blistering set of tunes that sounded almost completely separate from the tracks on the album. Their CD does not do them justice. They also threw in a cover of Tom Petty’s Refugee which was heavy and friggin‘ amazing.

I also got to check out The Atomic Punks – The Tribute to Early Van Halen with lead singer Ralph Saenz, who coincidentally is also the lead singer of STEEL PANTHER. For those who have been under a rock for the last 8 years or so, Steel Panther (formerly Danger Kitty, Metal Shop and Metal Skool) are rock’s reigning kings of the sunset strip. Their original brand of Hair Band Parody sells out every Monday night. They play ’80s hair metal from Bon Jovi to Poison and always throw in one of their original comedy rock songs like “Death to All But Metal” or “Fat Girl.” Celebs are known to show up and sing with them from time to time like Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson, and Pink. I was lucky to see Matt Sorum introduce the band, Scott Ian from Anthrax join them onstage, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, and Whitfield Crane formerly of Ugly Kid Joe/Another Animal.

Some of the other amazing bands I saw during my stay in Hollywood: Franki’s Broken Toys (Franki Doll=great frontwoman), Mack Winston and the Reflections,(original, pretty damn mesmerizing music) The Binges (BEST band I’ve heard in years) and the hard driving Bullets and Octane. And more! I don’t think a feat this cool could ever be accomplished in NY/NJ or for that matter, anywhere on the east coast. There’s always a band to discover there before it makes it’s way east. I originally intended the name of this site to embrace the good stuff Jersey offered but, man, I’m not far away from making it all about how it’s so not as cool as Hollywood. But really…not many places are.

I heard of Coal for Christmas, but E. Coli?

Where are the stoners, slackers, and lovers of artificial Mexican cuisine going to get their sustenance? The outbreak of E. Coli in the Tri-State area specifically New Jersey has sparked a major media reaction. The news has been all over this story and with good reason. Not too long ago in this very blog I was raving about how heavenly Taco Bell food is. And if it weren’t for a few bad scallions I’d probably still tell you the same thing. Hell, a couple of diseased vegetables can’t kill such a great fast food chain. Taco Bell shall overcome.

As I continute to desperately sprint for the border and grasp onto what little piece of glory is left of the Taco Bell legacy, let me tell you about the Secret Santa swap we’re doing at work. It’s imperative that you know how I despise Secret Santa swaps. They are insipid. Fortunately this year, a woman at work decided to tweak the tradition ever so slightly so we can all enjoy it a bit more. She came up with writing not only our name, but also 3 things we would like for $20 on our little secret ballot. I think that’s a lot better than getting some dumbass gift you would never ask for or want in your entire life. So, I wrote down an Amazon gift card, followed by…(drum roll) $20 bucks in Taco Bell gift certificates! Mind you, this was only about a week before the E.Coli outbreak hit the news. I was so pumped to get the oddest, most white trash Secret Santa gift in history. In an effort to save myself from shitting blood I decided (against my better wishes) to take good ol’ Taco Bell off my Secret Santa ballot. I didn’t want the punch line of this story to go down like this:

Jay: Hey Suzy, what did you get from the Secret Santa swap?
Suzy: Bob got me a great flashlight/umbrella hybrid, what did you get?
Jay: I got E.Coli. I never wanted it to end this way.
Suzy: Oh stop, your life isn’t over…yet! You still haven’t finished your Extreme Supreme Chalupa with extra scallions.
Jay: Death by Chalupa. I guess the bell tolls for me.