NJ Transit Window Display In NY Penn Station

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKusia1m2BE?rel=0]

November is Model Railroad Month! Lots of kids and adults alike are getting ready to set up their toy trains for the holidays. Until then, check out the above video that I filmed back in the summer while waiting for a train at New York Penn Station. This window display is on the NJ Transit side and it’s pretty damn cool, especially if you’re a fan of Jersey history or just dig cool window displays. I never thought I’d see such a tribute to New Jersey in New York Penn Station but it’s actually right there near the waiting area so you can witness it for yourself the next time you are there, OR just watch this video! Of course, it’s not a traditional model train set, but since it’s the work of NJ Transit this will serve as our observation of Model Railroad Month!

Ad Jerseum 8: Dear Philly

Ad Jerseum: So much Jersey advertising it’ll make you vomit!

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Dear Philadelphia,

While on a recent NJ Transit train coming back from Penn Station in New York, I noticed this snarky little tourism ad in a poster case at one of the platforms. At first I grew a little defensive (“eh-oh…oh-eh” oh wait, that was Brooklyn) but then I realized to myself, “Hey self, this ad is pretty damn effective!” But don’t think for a second that it makes me want to run out to my car and drive to Philadelphia. The rest of this letter is left in your hands. I’ll lay it out nice and simple – you’ve got two options. There’s the truth, or there is nothing but outright lies.
LIES:
I DON’T hate Philly. How can anyone possibly hate Philly? It’s the greatest city in the world! I can’t think of a better place to travel than the city where Rocky Balboa hails from. Do you know how many goofy pictures wives take of their husbands running up those stairs?!?! Forget that, what about the good eats? Philly offers one of the most healthy sandwich options, the cheesesteak, which easily puts that doucher Jared and his beloved Subway to shame. Think of all the weight you can lose if you only eat cheesesteaks everyday! And finally, Philly is home to the most famous crack in the world, perhaps even more well known than the butt crack, the crack on the Liberty Bell! Where else would one go to get their fill of brotherly love? Or SOUL? The Philadelphia Soul that is! Everyone knows arena football rocks compared to that second rate sport, REAL football. Walt Whitman bridge, here I come!
TRUTH:
I’m definitely not one of those Jerseyans who hates Philadelphia, but I do have my reservations about it. When I was a kid, aside from it’s historical aspect, all I knew of Philly is that the Fresh Prince of Bel Air grew up in West Philadelphia where he chilled, maxed and relaxed (all cool), and shot some b-ball outside of the school. Oh, and there was that song by New Jersey’s icon Bruce Springsteen “Streets of Philadelphia,”from the film Philadelphia. Bruce singing about Philly didn’t bother me as much as the fact that so many people from South Jersey root for Philly teams. When I notice Jersey people getting hardcore for the Eagles, Phillies, and the Flyers, it makes my skin crawl. There’s so many bars in South and the Western side Jersey that are fully adorned with Eagles paraphenalia, and Philly teams are simply considered “the home team.” Add that to the terrible Pennsylvania accent that many South Jersey people have adopted and you can stop wondering why I do not visit Philly.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of my favorite shows, but who cares, FLIP YOU PHILADELPHIA! And water ice? What the hell is that all about? It’s Italian ice! F-ck off water ice! Nobody cares about you, you don’t even exist to me. You were made up so Philly can brag about having something tasty to eat besides grizzly, artery clogging cheesesteaks. And Jon Bon Jovi’s Soul charity only helps less fortunate families in Philly because he wouldn’t last a second walking around with a film crew kissing his ass in Paterson or Camden NJ.
While creative and offbeat, this ad is merely a feeble attempt at conning Jerseyans into visiting Philly! OK, maybe some of the folks in this state aren’t the brightest in the bunch, but you think using familiar terms like “yous” is going to entice the guidos to hit up all the clubs in Philly? What would they do there? Philly is no place for fist pumpers. Why would you even want them there anyway?

Sincerely,

The Sexy Armpit

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.37: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, has a New Jersey in-joke. Travolta’s subway hijaking character Ryder becomes very defensive when dispatcher Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) makes a punchline out of The Garden State. In reality, Travolta was born in Englewood, New Jersey. In an ironic twist, the film also stars Jersey born Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini as the Mayor of New York City!

new york,new jersey,denzel,travolta
Ryder and Garber



RYDER: “Yeah well you know, you live, you die, you either go with the current or you fight it, but you all wind up in the same place”
WALTER GARBER: “Where’s that, Jersey?”
RYDER: “Yeah you watch it, I was born there man.”

The Sexy Armpit Goes to Nightmare: Bad Dreams Come True in New York City

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After I wrote this entry I realize, “gee maybe I should Google this idea before I write it.” Of course, the same showdown appeared over at Geekanerd’s awesome blog in ’07. Luckily, I detailed this year’s Blood Manor in an earlier post and this review focuses mainly on Nightmare NY. Either way, I’m sure you’ll find this review helpful if you’re thinking of going to a haunted house in New York City.  If you haven’t done so already, please read my review of BLOOD MANOR before you read this post.

Recently, The Sexy Armpit took a trip to the lower east side of Manhattan (CSV Cultural Center 107 Suffolk Street at Rivington) for Nightmare:Bad Dreams Come True. This haunted walk through bills itself as “New York’s Most Horrifying Haunted House,” and from my experience I can tell you that it definitely isn’t. This is one of the more hyped haunted attractions in New York City, and even though I commend it’s effort, it didn’t make me feel nearly as scared as Blood Manor did.  Here’s why:

“Nightmare New York” attempts to make you feel as if you’re walking through someone’s bad dream. My major complaint is that each phase of the walk through seemed to fall flat without having a “home run” scare before you went into the next room. I realize not all of the rooms should have a major scare, but I felt myself wanting to be more scared. For instance, in one room there’s a small Asian girl (Asian girls have the monopoly on horror nowadays) getting out of bed while the covers and bedsheets come off of her by themselves. I didn’t find this very unsettling since it looked too mechanical. Then the little girl gets up and walks over to the door to coerce us into the next room. Now don’t think I’m being overly picky here, but as she got out of bed and started walking past the visitors in the room, it was a perfect opportunity for her to scare us or for something to happen to her. This was probably just a transitional room so I assume that the covers coming off the girl was the big scare. It just seems like there were missed opportunities for scares. What if she kept her head down the whole time and then when she was finished walking over to the door she moved her head up and her eyeballs are all white and she has black goo pouring out of her mouth. That’s one of the many possibilities that I’ve come up with. But they can call me if they’d like to discuss. 
Please consider that I’m not the type of guy who likes to have constant extreme gore and loud noises battering my senses every second like the younger SAW generation. I love to get creeped out, but I think it’s the authenticity of the actors in Blood Manor that makes it the winner. Since when are gross hillbilly guys scary? It seems like there’s a heck of a lot of horror movies that feature redneck mutants and that’s just not scary at all. One of the rooms in Nightmare NY contains a platform where one of these rednecks resides.  He looks like he’s into some kind of torture and he’s knocking back brews and crushing the cans and and dropping them on the platform. Once the full group enters the room he starts blathering on about something and says he’s got a surprise for us. He begins to motion toward his crotch as the the lights go out. Then, Johnny Redneck squirts water across the room at all of us as if he’s pissing on us. Real nice! That’s class. I’m not being stuffy, but when I think of haunted houses I truly want to feel frightened, not grossed out. I think the horror movies of today are to blame. If horror producers weren’t so concerned with cutting limbs and fingers off and torturing people maybe the climate in the horror genre would be different. Why did the “gross out” shift in horror occur anyway? If I was going to “Gross You Out NYC” then I’d probably have given them a good write up. I guess I’m just a purist when it comes to classic horror and psychological thrills.
Nightmare NY is the clear winner in the length of time it takes to go through the attractions. Nightmare NY actually contains 2 separate attractions for the price of one. I would say that it took about a half hour (give or take 5 minutes) to get through both attractions while Blood Manor was no longer than 20 minutes. In this case though, the length of the attraction doesn’t make up for the fact that I didn’t find it scary at all. 
I was hoping that the the second part of Nightmare, called Nightmare Legends had some familiar movie characters. There were only a few but you won’t see your favorite characters like Freddy or Jason. Legends starts out with a room that has the corpse of Frankenstein’s monster moving his torso up and down as if he’s going to get up.  What I didn’t like about the second part was that there were red buttons that had to be pushed to get the “action” of the room to engage. Naturally there were a bunch of goons in front of me who incessantly pressed the button if nothing happened instantly. Then they would start touching everything in the room thinking they were going to activate the specific room’s display. It was a big mistake giving the people the power to activate the displays because that not only allowed them to act like douchebags but also took away from the spontaneous feeling that these haunted attractions need in order to be scary. When you have to press a button then it seems like any old display in a seasonal Halloween store. “Hey kids! You can buy this life size corpse of Frankenstein’s monster for your front yard for only $800 bucks! Quick, yell for your parents and then press this red button to see me rise from the grave!”
The physical aspect of Nightmare NY turned me off. You’ll see warnings abound before you go into the attraction that there are a few instances where you will need to be “physical” to make it through to the next room. The first obstacle that I had to make it through was a door made up of 2 inflated walls smooshed together. I basically had to muscle my way through it. I’m a pretty claustrophobic guy and I really didn’t enjoy that part especially knowing that it’s been pressed up against a thousand other sweaty people. Keep in mind that it’s pitch dark and at first I didn’t even understand how to get through the contraption in the first place because even with my superior night vision (!) I didn’t see the slit that I had to force myself through. Finally, I realized what I had to do. I guess I was disappointed that I worked for a scare that never happened. Another room had visitors crawl onto and over some little girls bed. The scary part was supposed to be that the girl was actually kneeling on the bed spazzing out from a nightmare. 
All I can say is that if you’re planning a “haunted house night” in the metro area, then do some online research first.  Let Google help make your decision for you. It’ll help your wallet because admission to these attractions are usually quite a few doubloons. Usually these haunted houses are about $20-30 dollars admission and you may have to shell out more for transportation or gas depending on where you live. If you feel like you were just totally gypped after you come out of the haunted house then you just blew some cash you could’ve spent on a couple of DVD’s! You also may want to make a night of it and get a little tanked before or after the attraction. Both Nightmare and Blood Manor offer alcoholic beverages but Blood Manor features an actual swank lounge where you can sit and drink with your friends in style. In this grudge match of haunted houses, for me it’s no contest, BLOOD MANOR contains more higher quality scares, better actors, and it’s way closer to NY Penn Station than Nightmare NY.

The Sexy Armpit visits Blood Manor New York City’s Premier Haunted Attraction

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Zombie Girl: Come see me later and I’ll give you a Brazilian on your head.
Jay: No, I’m gonna give you a Brazilian!
Zombie Girl: Too late!

This was an exchange I had with just one of the many wickedly costumed dwellers of Blood Manor whom I encountered as they lurked about at Home the swank club/lounge underneath the haunted attraction. I’ve heard of New York City’s Blood Manor before but I never experienced it. While at the Monster Mania Con I noticed a bunch of postcards ads for it on a vendor table. The Sexy Armpit was lucky enough to enjoy the special press preview of Blood Manor. The building is closer to Penn Station than I realized and it only took about 10-15 minutes to walk there from MSG. (542 W. 27th Street) I have to hand it to the organizers of this attraction since they truly built up my anticipation and curiosity as to what kind of terror I’d find within the walls of Blood Manor. If you’re saying to yourself “But Jay, it’s a haunted house, if you’ve been in one, you’ve been in them all.” Then you simply have not experienced the better ones. Blood Manor is one of the best I’ve been through.

For a Thursday night this was a formidable graveyard smash. Filing in were the super cool hip and trendy group of TV, radio, and print folks with their ultra fashionable messenger bags. (I packed light a cell phone and ice breakers) We all assembled in the sleek Home lounge while enjoying drinks from the bar and watching scenes from horror films on the large drop down screen. It was like a Disney character breakfast except for it being evil, twisted, in the evening, lacking breakfast food, and no shortage of Vodka. That’s smart, give your visitors a bunch of cocktails and then let them loose in a haunted house where they’ll no doubt be so scared and disoriented that they’ll piss themselves. I love it when a plan comes together! The bartender thought he was Ashton Kutcher and he even had one of those plastic hair bands holding his long hair back. You need to remember, this is New York we’re talking about…everyone wishes they lived in L.A but they’re all really from Jersey.

My friend Steve and I were about to sit down on a leather bench until the moment we realized we wouldn’t be doing much relaxing. All of a sudden a freaky fellow welcomed the crew to Blood Manor and began rapping “The Blood Manor Theme Song” which was actually an awesome song with a hip hop vibe to it. It definitely begs to be a part of the Halloween playlist on my iPod. Just as the song started blaring, Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Samara, and a host of other characters made their presence known by greeting each and every person in the lounge by scaring the bejesus out of them. Freddy Krueger kept clinking the blades of his gloves together by my ears and telling me in that slithery voice of his that I was an easy target, which was a correct assumption since he successfully startled me numerous times throughout the night. Later, a little gothic girl who reminded me of one of those living dead dolls came over and stared at us with her huge innocent eyes as if she was confused as to why we just murdered her entire family. We actually didn’t murder her fam but she sure as hell made it seem like we did! The actors did not break character once and their costumes and makeup were exceptional. The oddities continued haunting us until the first group was let into the elevator and finally brought into Blood Manor.

Going into too much detail about the specific rooms inside of Blood Manor would spoil your experience. But I’m feeling generous so I’ll give you a few teasers: The Electrocution is sickeningly realistic, you also may want to reconsider your appointment for that makeover at the beauty parlor, you’ll feel like you’re in another world in the 3-D room with surreal blacklight murals all over the walls, then there’s the Saw room, and of course the boiler room. There are some genuinely unsettling parts of the walk through. The actors do a helluva job of freaking you out without touching you or doing anything crazy. If you’re like me, you’ll probably be more taken aback by some of the unexpected scares rather than the blatant ones. Some of the most fun moments come when you’re unsure of where you’re going in complete darkness. I must say that the finale is the best part. If you make it that far…

Once you’re out of Blood Manor alive, it feels like it didn’t take very long to get through. This might be the “I had so much fun effect” where you’re having such a good time that you had no concept of time or it’s just over too quickly (insert sex joke here). Infusing some good old fashioned carnival simplicity might do the trick. One way the attraction could improve is by possibly adding in a few different transitional areas without actors in between the main rooms. Doing that would make the ride longer as well as calm your senses a bit before you get the shit scared out of you by some of the actors again. These rooms could be just for viewing only and they don’t need to be elaborate. Another aspect that Blood Manor and other haunted houses lack is the presence of ghosts. With all the concentration on such iconic and recognizable horror movie characters, a simple eerie light show projecting some apparitions might work perfectly. Not everything has to be so “in your face.” Ghosts are spooky, just think back to the first time you saw one sitting in your cart the first time you went on the Haunted Mansion ride in Disney.

Blood Manor capped off an amusing night filled with scares, adult beverages, and me almost breaking my nose. In addition to it’s proximity to Penn Station, Blood Manor will not take a big chunk out of your night. Go ahead, plan a night out in New York but if I were you, I’d make Blood Manor you’re first destination rather than you’re last mwahahahaha!!!

Bon Jovi: Free Concert in Central Park Review

Bon Jovi has done pretty much everything a band can do but they didn’t play Central Park until Saturday July 12th. In honor of the MLB’s all-star week Bon Jovi decided to put on a free concert on the Great Lawn in New York City’s Central Park. It was rumored that there’d be close to 60,000 fans in attendance so I knew we’d have a hell of a time getting into the park. I’m not one who enjoys hassle or complications. I enjoy being laid back rather than rushing from Penn Station to hop on the subway to Central Park. Then from there we had to get checked, scanned, and frisked several times and wait in numerous lines. By the time we got into the audience area there weren’t too many people there but the ones that were there were relaxing on towels they brought. I didn’t think to bring a towel or a blanket and neither did anyone I went with. That was the least of my problems. It was only 3:00 pm, so we had another 5 hours to wait until Bon Jovi took the stage. I was betting on them not starting on time but they were in a public park so the rules were a little bit more tight. Go on at 8 and get off the stage at 10 pm you New Jersey rebel rousers!

By 7:45 the place was mobbed with people and the towels were getting rolled up and people started sneaking closer and closer to the barricades. After hearing representatives from Central Park, Major League Baseball, and Bank of America there was another short wait and then Bon Jovi took the stage on this beautiful summer night in NYC. Bank of America had such a damn presence at the show that they may as well have set up portable teller stands where people could do their banking. Their logo was all over the place, I really thought Jon would have worn a Bank of America jersey. Thankfully he didn’t and nor did he wear a Philadelphia Soul jersey either. And gee…all this talk of “jerseys” where the hell is New Jersey in this picture? He’s an owner of a Philadelphia Arena Football team, he’s doing concerts in Central Park and MSG so where does his home state of N.J fit in? They’re always singing “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” so I guess apparently Jon himself is saying they can’t.

As for the setlist for the night, you can’t expect much of a departure when you go to see Bon Jovi. They kicked things off with “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.” After “Born to Be My Baby” they rocked with “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” which ended with their version of “Twist and Shout” which is always a fun song. Of course, I prefer it when Matthew Broderick is singing it on a float in a parade. “Whole Lotta Leavin’ Goin’ On” their latest single, made me realize that they should just change the title of the song to “Not a Whole Lot of Rock Going On” because the song makes people want to go country line dancing. Aside from “..Whole Lotta Leavin” they also performed “Lost Highway,” and “We Got it Goin On” from Lost Highway. While still managing to wow the massive audience with his guitar riffs, Richie stirred the crowd with his rendition of “I’ll Be There for You.” We also got to hear (not in this order) “It’s My Life,” “In These Arms,” “Have a Nice Day,” “Keep The Faith,” and “Bad Medicine.”

The band said goodnight but came back for an encore of “Always,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and “I Love This Town.” For a full set list check out my friend Anthony at The Screen Door. From there it was time to hop back on the subway and then find out what NJ Transit track we’d be on. Isn’t the train ride home always the best? Lots of obnoxious people, you get whipped around, and you’re just trying to sleep for a minute since you’ve been on a 9 hour Bon Jovi retreat.

I’m looking forward to the Madison Square Garden shows because the sound seemed to get lost in such an enormous outdoor area. There was a good amount of delay between the sound way up in front and the sound coming out of the speakers that were in the middle of the audience. That was natural, it just got annoying at times. I kept thinking “what song is Tico drumming to?…that isn’t part of the song.” Actually it WAS part of the song…just 3 seconds before. Regardless of those minor details it was a welcome feeling to have attended a Bon Jovi concert where they sounded excellent as usual and I didn’t pay $200 to get in.

Bathrooms Rock

Lately when I sit on the toilet and take a crap, I am overwhelmed by a sense of appreciation for modern plumbing and bathrooms. Recently I was on the NJ transit train heading toward NY Penn Station. I had to pee really bad. I forgot that there was a bathroom on the train so I took the chance.

Even though if I would have peed myself it wouldnt have mattered cause it looked like a lot of the people on the train had done the same thing. Suddenly, my nostrils were struck by the foulest odor. It was impervious. I could not handle the odor. My mission was to urinate as fast as possible while trying not to inhale the mixture of all the previous visitors shit/fart/piss/puke smells. I peed while holding my shirt over my nose and avoiding making eye contact with all of the stuff that missed the aluminum bowl. I got more nauseated as my liquid fell into some sort of brownish orange goo that resided there. My regurgitation was really close to joining the rest of the crew to hang out. Luckily i was finished. I got the hell out of there.

It’s always funny when you come out of public bathroom and you think that the next person that goes in there is gonna think that YOU made the stench, or the mess. Not true. Always give them the benefit of the doubt. An example is the bathrooms at college. In between English classes I have to take leaks. I look down past my junk to the urinal and see on the sides of the bowl part – long ass pubes. WHO THE HELL are these morons whose pubes fall off and decide to perch themselves on the bowl of the urinal. Mind you that they dont fall in the water, its the part above it, like the ledge. Most important – we are in a technologically advanced 21st century…why do guys have huge bushes? Guys shouldnt have pubes that are as long as my middle finger. That is fucking disgusting. Shave your fucking bush down you fucking psychos. And stop yanking your pubes while using the urinal.

Finally, modern day bathrooms RULE. They are amazing. They are the “shit.” We don’t realize how good we have it. Ever use a Johnny on the spot? Or a Portosan? It’s like the outhouses people had in the old days. There was odors, flies, and other people’s excrement. Let’s be thankful that we can shit in a peaceful, nurturing environment. We even have spray to wipe out the odors. It’s grand.

So, it’s all good. Thank God for modern bathrooms, cause without them I wouldnt be able to laugh so much when my shit is too big to flush down the shoot. It acts like its holding on for dear life, fighting the supreme suction. It just does not want to get devoured by the abyss. I don’t blame the shit. The shit finally gets out into the open and then gets sucked away. Shit doesnt have a very long life. It’s kinda like Boba Fett and the great Pit of Carkoon from Return of the Jedi.