Posts Tagged ‘New jersey’

Bruce and I, over a wee dram the other night, were discussing the latest in bridge peccadilloes. The latest of course being that of the redundantly named NJ Governor Chris Christie, Fort Lee, and the George Washington Bridge. Where it will all go is anyone’s guess, but this being New Jersey, my old home state, we should be prepared for an entertaining slew of theories, accusations, denials, finger-pointing, more denials, and ultimately not being any closer to the truth than when this story first broke.

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But in digging through the archaeological rooms of our library, we discovered that bridges have played more rolls in bringing politicians down, or at least to heel, than assisting them in reaching across chasm-like aisles.

Who can forget the lovely Sarah Palin’s Bridge to Nowhere? To where did it lead her? Yes, she is still on the national scene pandering to those old white men who feel they would like to get her in a voting booth for some “fact-finding” or at least go moose hunting with her? Even cable TV tossed her aside, not once, but twice. Maybe she can get a gig as a guest host on Duck Dynasty which despite its questionable politics is quite funny.

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Don’t even mention Chappaquidick. Oops, sorry we did. That was a tidy little bit of bridgework from which Teddy never fully recovered. Of course as with all bridges too far, it was littered with denials before the truth was eventually outed. What is it about bridges that lead pols to folly if not ruination?

And what about Congressman Wilbur Mills (R-Arkansas) and the Tidal Basin Scandal featuring stripper Fanne Foxe. Stopped for a traffic violation, old Fanne bolted the car and jumped into the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC to escape. They didn’t even wait to cross the bridge! That finally gave Fanny an amount of exposure she had never dreamed of previously.

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History is filled with bridges which rather than do what they were originally constructed to do have achieved just the opposite. Just ask the River Kwai.

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But at least, it helped Sir Alec Guinness’s career immensely.

We confess… we go to a gym. More specifically, a fitness center. One of those shiny open 24 (!) hours ones (do they think they’re New Jersey, for crissakes!), with an entire host of medieval devices designed to thoroughly torture you into submission all the while building you up to resemble an ancient deity, depending of course on your peculiar body type. Yeah, we go to one of those. It’s cheap, nearby, and there are thankfully people who look a hell of lot worse than us. Are we small for saying that? Well, maybe small was the wrong word – after all we are going to this place.

But, more often than not we get the feeling that we’re watching outtakes from the cantina scene in the original Star Wars. There are creatures there we don’t and can’t possibly recognize as  human. There are beings there we don’t understand at all. And it transcends gender. Getting fit is one thing; getting weird, unless you’re in Austin, is another.

9394332501_a74f9a5b31  How do my delts look, man?

The age span is unbelievably broad. From seniors who should know better than to hurt themselves in such ways to children(!), yes children who unless morbidly obese shouldn’t need such self-inflicted agony on their way to physical supremacy.

Not only are the mutated bodies otherworldly, so is the clothing. Normally, a lot of this would be found in a discarded grocery bag found by the drop-off bin at a charity store. But upon closer inspection (please, not that close!), one can see that good money was laid out for this. The tell-tale signs are otherworldly bright colors and insane graphics. Coupled with lycra straining against unbelievable tectonic pressures and it’s a miracle there haven’t been more cellulite explosions pasting innocent victims against gym walls.

One style that many guys appear to favor is the t-shirt with the collar band cut off along with missing sleeves. All the better to show you my delts and biceps, n’est ce pa? It’s a look that went out with the original Flashdance movie. And Jennifer Beals rocked it a hell of lot better than they do. Besides, if a guy is not from New Jersey, don’t try and look like one, poseur! Truthfully, it doesn’t work there either. The same goes for headbands on anyone. You wind up looking like baby Huey.

4524567027_f72bb3d4fa Get the idea?

But those aren’t the only issues with t-shirts. More often than not, the shirt is over-sized or advertising something. Commonly it’s a bar which explains why that person is there either working off fat or a hangover. Then there are those concerned citizens whose shirts celebrate some kind of rally, race, auction, cause, church gathering, or a prayer breakfast for literacy. We can’t forget the family reunion shirts either. Do you really need to be reminded who your family is? We sure as hell don’t. We guess we need to revisit those rules about t-shirts: wear it torn and unadorned or advertise and wear your size. It’s a start.

In a reverse sort of “don’t look at my body, I’m a person not a piece of meat”, men have adopted to wearing enormously baggy shorts as currently favored by NBA players. Gone are the good old days when a bit of leg showing was OK. On the other hand if you’re a woman, you are probably wearing the tightest of lycra (here we go again!) shorts which are painted-on-your-body tight. Yeah, they’re comfortable, but so are baggy gym shorts and you won’t get candida. Think about it.

Has anyone noticed the trend in gym shoes? Some of them make sense in case there’s a power outage and you can’t find your way out of the dark. They’re that bright. The same unfortunately can’t be said of those wearing black gym shoes with matching socks. Really? Does one really need to wear formal gym shoes while working out? So in keeping with that, how about the gym rat who wears the tuxedo t-shirt? He’d better be wearing black shoes to match especially after Labor Day.

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Now the gym we go to, sorry – fitness center, is pretty complete. In addition to all the equipment, it features lockers, showers, toilets, and water fountains. So why in hell do people bring in bottled water? Why is there a vending machine, right next to the water fountain, selling bottled water along with other drinks designed to match your hideously colored shoes?  Why indeed.

And what about the inhabitants of this sweat shop? Grotesquely over-developed muscles make the body do rather odd things. Many of the denizens cannot walk straight through a regular door as their arms are sticking out from their bodies at strange angles. They appear to be at the ready in case they’re dropped into a tub of scalding water and are preparing to launch themselves out accompanied by terrified screams.

They also walk funny, duck-like almost, as their feet are splayed out also at ridiculous angles. Couple that with the psychedelic colored shoes, cut-off t-shirts, tightly clutching water bottles, and baggy gym shorts/or lycra and you’ve got a cast of extras from a typical Troma film. Good times, good times.

7439327504_7ea446bdf8                                                                  And as much depth as this cardboard cut-out.

So, during an hour or so at Castle Glute, one can witness all of this and more. So tell me why we pay for cable tv when this is so much more entertaining??

Previously: Brilliant was right. In the same way a 15 watt light bulb is brilliant. This was not going to end well.

And now: Little did any of us towering intellects know that we would soon be needing a mouthpiece sooner than later and not just for resisting arrest.

Pops was down with the lawyer idea. He thought it might bring some here-to-fore needed class the pizzeria sorely lacked. F. Lee Bailey, Alan Dershowitz, and Johnny Cochran could not have brought class to this place, but, hey, I’ve crushed enough of Pops’ dreams to say anything about it. So, unbelievably, the resisting arrest scam was working. Look, it’s New Jersey, anything is possible here. And things were quiet. No PETA protests, Doris Day was happy with her new dogs, Pops was selling pizza and juris medicine in the back. It was too quiet. But we take our gifts where we get ’em.

6327151234_bd3c0dbf8a Not the caliber of lawyer at O’Shea’s.

Now that all that was humming along nicely, the drama reduced to a low, barely-discernible moan, I could go visit O’Shea’s and watch Ahmed polish his new glass, and finally indulge in one of his falafels. Life was good. Yeah, for the moment. I know I told you about O’Shea’s before, but it does have the best falafel in town. Town being Newark. Newark is out there, hanging on in the dark by its fingernails to the border, right across the river from New York City wishing it wasn’t in New Jersey. It had pretensions once, but now it’s come to grips with itself. It even at one time had its own theatre district. Now why you ask am I mentioning that? Well, what remains of the old and decrepit theatre crowd of hangers-on and former wannabees like to come into O’Shea’s and reminisce over their falafels and gin and tonics. It’s a strange crowd. It’s like watching outtakes from the old Mel Brooks movie, The Producers. Usually, it’s a harmless and almost amusing group of farts. Usually.

Tonight, we’re about to experience an out-of-body event, but I’m not sure whose body. One of the old-timers, named Kippy Sewell, creeps up to the bar next to me and signals Ahmed to join us. Us? I’m just sitting there nursing my falafel. I didn’t ask to join this but it looks like I’m into it.

“Hehnnn… Ahmed. C’mere.” hisses Kippy. Hissing is about all Kippy can manage after Tranks and Barry shook him down, literally, for an unpaid debt of some forgotten nature. “Ahmed, c’mere.”

Ahmed is deep into polishing the glass and doesn’t want to be bothered especially by the likes of Kippy. But Kippy is that rare bird seldom found in O’Shea’s – he pays his tab, so Ahmed reluctantly wanders over, but not before slowly straightening every bottle on the shelf behind him. “OK, Kippy, whadisit? I got glasses to polish.”

“Ahmed, you’re going to love this. You too Fog. But you’ve got to keep it on the down low.” You gotta give Kippy this – he speaks really well, enunciating each word as if in a Shakespearean play, only with hissing sibilance. You can take the boy out of the theatre, but… well, you know the rest.

Neither Ahmed or I are particularly interested in this, but boredom seeps in quickly at O’Shea’s so we listen. “What is it this time, Kippy?”

“I’ve just come across the most unique and original script of a play that I’ve seen in a long time. It is guaranteed to bring live theatre musicals back to the top. I’m looking for backers and you two need to get in on the ground floor. You’ll get rich!”

8318342482_5eb31fdb56 Yeah, it is a Broadway musical, but it looks more like the PETA protest.

Ahmed looks around and realizes there are more bottles that need straightening and departs for his shelves, leaving me with Kippy. I have to decide whether to make an excuse and leave, not finishing my falafel. Nope, can’t do THAT. So, I stay and listen to what Kippy believes will make us all rich. Looking back, I realize I can get a falafel pretty much anytime, but too late.

“Fog, do you go to the movies? Do you like movies? Musicals? Dance numbers?” Kippy says. “This is important.”

“No, Kippy, not really. The last movie I saw didn’t have sound.” I really didn’t want to indulge him, so sarcasm was my only refuge.

“Fog, I know that’s not true. I remember seeing you removing Polly from a Dana Delaney film festival. So there.” he hehnned triumphantly.

“OK, Kippy, shoot. I can’t hide the truth from you any longer.”

“Fog,” he always starts each query with your name. “Remember that actress with the big lips, Angela… what was it? Not Lansbury. No, no. Angelina, Yes, yes, Angelina… Jolie. That’s her. remember her? She was married to that weird guy who tattooed her name on himself. Well he made a movie that I’ll never forget.”

Oh great. He’s made a few. Which one and why? “OK, I’ll bite..which one?”

“Fog, you know the one. The one where he mumbles all the time.. Hmgnnhh. Right. Well, this script is marvelous. It’s a musical version of Sling Blade!”

2788022437_7cf29e2035 Hey, he does sing. Maybe it could work!

Good grief, I wish I had a blade so I could cut myself out of this joke. But, Kippy was serious.

Introducing…

Posted: January 23, 2013 in Food, Life
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It was a miserable night. It was rainy, damp, cold – a real skank of an evening. In short, a typical Keansburg, NJ kind of night. I loved it.

2250173012_8c968d7918 Keansburg. Yeah.

I was sitting in my car, watching the wipers describe lazy arcs across the windshield, waiting for my brother to finish whatever he started in that ramshackle, sorry little excuse for a house. Drugs? Women? Who knows? He’s that kind of guy and I’m waiting for him. Guess that makes me another kind of guy. Right?

If you don’t know me, let me introduce myself. I’m Fog Calamari. Yeah, yeah, make your jokes now. I’ve heard them all. Thanks to the illustriously hard-working people at the INS, my name was butchered into what it is today. Not that the original was any better, but at least it wasn’t so accurately descriptive.

The hack at the immigration office couldn’t get over our real family name of Occtavia, so he wanted to list it as Octopus. Grandpops wasn’t having any of that, thank god. But his language skills weren’t that good and he thought he had to at least follow the direction those jamokes set out upon. So, translating octopus became Calamari. Go figure.

Fog – well that’s another story. Being a redhead as is most of my family, it was originally Fuego for fire. But being blessed as much of my family is with another affliction, flatulence, it became appropriately but not happily, Fog. Thanks a lot Mom and Dad, love you too. Yeah, I got issues. Who doesn’t?

Anyway and eventually, my do-not-much-of-anything brother comes out of the mystery house and decides he’ll probably show up for work at the dollar store. You got to understand this is a step up for him, a promotion. Previously, he worked at the 69 cents store. What’s that line about a rising tide raising all boats? Here it is in real life. I drop him off and decide to stop in at my favorite falafel bar, O’Shea’s. It takes a little longer than usual to get there because the old Yugo, painted in Slovakian Racing Beige, only wanted to make left turns today. Somedays it’s left, other days only right. And that’s when by the grace of some dark-humored deity it starts.

After a Magellan-like plan to get there, I arrive. Ahmed O’Shea has the best falafel in town, Let me correct that – he has the only falafel in town unless you count the combination gas station/sushi/ falafel/ and dry cleaning establishment down on Central. How he came to open this dubious venture is best left to another time, but it did involve bearer bonds, zoo animals, and grey market Gummi (Trademark!) Bears. You figure it out. I’m not saying anything else on this subject.

Walking into O’Shea’s is like entering some New Age candle shop. Besides the Yin and Yang decor, the beaded curtains covering only electrical outlets, it’s the over-powering scent of cilantro that grabs your attention. That and the mangy Labradoodle attack dog by the front door. Say what you will, the joint has ambiance. And cheap beer. Oh, and did I mention the falafel?

Ahmed is behind the bar polishing, I swear, the same damn glass he’s been doing for years. It must have been very dirty. He looks up, well, raises his eyebrows at me and acknowledges my presence, “Fog.”

“Ahmed.” No need for words between us. Hell, he doesn’t know much more English than that anyway. He nods to a booth on the far wall. I look over. Damn, if it isn’t…

TBC.

For the longest time. ever since we were in prep school… wait, that’s not entirely true. Bruce went to prep school, the Lucey Loughless School of International Affairs, which accounts for his taste in Ralph Lauren retro-prep style clothing complete with Fair Isle sweaters and club and knit ties, not to mention his xenophobia. All that stuff you hear about old school ties – it’s real. If I never see a button-down shirt again, it’ll be too soon.

Bruce’s inexplicable taste in clothes.

I, on the other hand, am a product, for better or worse, of the illustrious public school system of the great state of New Jersey, grades K through 12 to the third power. (OK, so I had to repeat Senior year a few times.) To say that I was a stellar academic performer is to also to state that Michael Chiklis has a great head of hair. It’s not true, any of it. But during my time in the state’s institution of enforced education, good old RSP, (Rahway State Prison – and it’s because I couldn’t afford a real mouthpiece and had to accept a Public Defender who couldn’t argue a case off of a shelf and had to do time as a result – I was innocent!), I availed myself of all the provided materials and became an expert in diplomacy. Little did I know at the time that Bruce was on a similar track, but while he was inside looking forward I was still inside looking out. I guess being born to the “right” parents do count. But I’m not bitter…much. I’ve really gotten much better and don’t have the need to strike out at someone as often. See, diplomacy works.

So after a dinner with our wives, Bruce and I did the cooking, (we are both quite good – another skill I learned inside) since the inestimable but damnable Mrs. Crosby had the night off again. We sat down with the ladies fair and shared a bottle of an old Port we picked up at our neighborhood purveyor of such fine spirits, Target. That place is amazing! But, as usual I digress. We were quite dismayed at the state of affairs on weary, old Mother Earth. It then dawned on us that we were letting our incredible skills go fallow. Why are we not lending ourselves to the world to make this a better place in which to live? Yes, indeed.

We set about to create a business plan which would provide our services to countries and governments  of every size, shape, and financial ability. We will not do this for free! Nossir. Peace does not come cheap. We also determined that there couldn’t be only one approach to winning the peace. Every nation, each despot, must be handled individually. Some may need a more nurturing approach – that would be Bruce. Others might need something a little more forceful and direct – that would be me. Others might need a hybrid approach with a little bit of both us. I will say this, the hybrid is the most effective but is not for the faint of heart.

Not exactly the UN, but it’s a start.

One of the hybrid approaches is something we like to call “Good Diplomat, Bad Diplomat” or GDBD. Popularized by bad police dramas, this has the advantage of letting the participants decide for themselves how they would like to proceed with our retaining the authority to over-ride it as we see fit. You want peace? Of course, we’d be happy to help. What’s that? You don’t like that country and you want to go nuclear on them? Wham! How’s that for nuclear? Capisce? That’s just one approach.

A singe-minded approach is also quite effective. Some people, attorneys and judges, might say it’s coercion. We like to say it’s just bringing persuasive pressure to bear until we achieve the desired outcome. It’s sort of like Esalen toilet training but for countries. This is called the Torquemada App.

Yet another way of achieving our/their goals is called the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Decision. (Bruce has such a dark sense of humor.) Simply put, we play the two parties off one another until they’re almost there and then introduce a third player. The third party intimates action along the lines of a scorched earth policy. This of course screws everything up with its Triangulation and threat. All of a sudden, each party is more amenable to meeting demands in hopes of shutting out the interloping third party. It’s brilliant, it works, and no one gets hurt…usually.

So, there it is. We naturally cannot go into more detail here, but should you or your country be in need of seasoned and/or ruthless Diplomats, we’re your guys. Look for our ads in Soldier of Fortune magazine. We’re in the back of the magazine right next to the Male Enhancement ads, you know the one, that’s it with “Why is Bob is smiling?”

Good Diplomat/Bad Diplomat. Not the Two Bruces, really.

The State of New Jersey.

What is it about New Jersey that commands such ridicule? Is it the mob life as depicted in The Sopranos or the lesser and incredibly appalling Mob Wives that fuels the national ridicule? Is it the peculiar cuisine defying description? How about its accent? Yes it’s all that but largely it’s New Jersey! Currently, television with it’s Jersey preoccupation is starting to resemble a Jersey mall with all the options that entails. In no particular order, there is the late, lamented Sopranos; Jerseylicious, Cake Boss, Jersey Shore; Glam Fairy; The Real Housewives of New Jersey; Boardwalk Empire; House; Jersey Couture; and really, many more.

It’s there, in the dark, hanging on only by it’s fingertips to the side of New York for dear life, hoping for some glamor and fame to rub off. It’s girls named Dawn, with outrageously teased hair and large jewelry driving around in their Camaros looking for the latest from Hot Topic or whatever else is being hawked at the one of the countless malls in New Jersey. It’s wife-beater shirts being considered appropriate attire for most anywhere, especially the mall.

The State Car of New Jersey.

You have to understand: as soccer is the largest sport in the world, shopping is its equivalent in New Jersey. And as in any sport, there are different levels of proficiency and ability. There are amateurs and there are pros. The amateurs have only a couple of credit cards and none of them are of the gold/platinum/sapphire/unobtainium variety. No, those are for professionals only. (Do not try these shopping stunts at home. You WILL hurt yourself!)

Pros also have charge cards from all the individual stores they stalk. A hugely fat, bulging card wallet is a sure-fire sign of experience, success, (and impending credit default, but that’s for another entry). Shopping in New Jersey reaches Olympic dimensions and should probably have its own event in the summer games. Winter games though might be better because they would involve Christmas and its myriad sales. We’ll bring this up before the committee.

One of the Olympic size shopping stadiums in NJ.

So what do Jerseyans buy? Anything from Pier One for starters, but that’s probably a tie between them and IKEA; all discount electronic and/or appliance stores on major highways with large signs in the windows; and finally anything from a store in Paramus with a “Going Out Of Business” sign on it; don’t laugh, that accounts for at least 25% of all retail businesses in NJ. Incidentally, “Going Out Of Business” is also a major sport in NJ.

What do Jerseyans sound like? It’s a nasal wannabee NYC dialect that sounds like the speaker is chewing gum whether or not they are. Just watch an episode of “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and you’ll get the idea. You”ll also get a preview of how Jerseyans decorate their homes. It’s like the visual equivalent of a nasal dialect that sounds like the speaker…. well, you get the idea.

New Jersey has so much to offer and so much to write about. Trust us to keep you in the loop for all things Jersey.