reasons i love nj

I’m proud to introduce the new baby of the family, Aaron. He’s a Princeton Elm. Recently, my parents have lost several trees in their backyard: a crabapple to old age, a mulberry to hurricane Irene, a maple to superstorm Sandy. They wanted a big shade tree to replace the maple. As you may or may not know, almost all of the Dutch Elms died ages ago due to Dutch Elm Disease. The only one that survived, in New Jersey, was growing atop Aaron Burr’s grave. Obviously, any tree fertilized by him was simply too stubborn to die. Cuttings from that tree were used to create a new species of Elm, resistant to Dutch Elm Disease. They called it the Princeton Elm. My parents read up on the subject, and decided it was meant to be. Around here, Aaron Burr is kind of a big deal, as his wife, Theodosia Prevost, grew up a few blocks away, at The Hermitage. They went through hell and high water to get their hands on a specimen. Now they’re happy, and Aaron looks happy, and I think he’s just the cutest thing. We weren’t sure it if was an Aaron or a Theodosia, but Mom had an extensive conversation with it (because my family is like that) and declared it’s an Aaron. So that’s that.

I’m about to pick up my friend Kelly. Then, we’re headed to Skate and Surf. Obviously it’s 2003 again. I made in-theme questionable fashion decisions, to boot. If you don’t want to be spammed with my day, block the #skateandsurf2015 tag. Sorry not sorry.

If you don’t know what Skate and Surf is: many moons ago, when I was in middle school and early high school, Asbury Park, NJ hosted an annual pop punk festival. It was held on the boardwalk, though some years they used stages in the Paramount Theater, the Convention Center, and the Stone Pony. In 2006ish, it was moved to the Meadowlands, expanded to include other genres, and renamed Bamboozle. Now, they’re reviving the original, with less pop punk. Since that’s not a thing anymore. Gaslight Anthem is headlining.

This should be hilarious.


Continuing my series of concert reviews, which started here.

I saw Fountains of Wayne at The Mayo Performing Arts Center tonight. If anyone wants to give me shit about Fountains of Wayne’s clout as a talented band of untold worth, we can take it out back and have a “conversation.” I’m the biggest music snob of all time, and you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about.

It’s a matter of Jersey pride, you see. And you all know how I am about Jersey pride.

Jesse Malin opened. He was adorable. He’s one of those guys who’s been cruising the bottom rung of the music industry for decades, never breaking out big, but never fading away. Malin’s a decent singer-songwriter, so I was entertained. I might look into buying one of his albums.

Fountains of Wayne were great. Despite their sixteen year career, they rarely tour, and they obviously don’t know what the heck to do with an audience. Still, they were pitch perfect. Part of the engagement problem was obviously the seated venue. Some of it might have been related to the copious quantity of beer Collingwood consumed throughout the set, without ever missing a note. It was impossible, of course, for the band to play everything I’d want to hear from all six albums, but they covered most of their bases, with highlights including Hey Julie, Hackensack, Mexican Wine, and Sink to the Bottom (above). They didn’t do The Summer Place, which was a bit bizarre considering it was the single off of their most recent album. Both the band and the audience suffered through Stacy’s Mom. The song may have been written as a joke, but the royalties have enabled Fountains of Wayne to sustain their career, while members are nominated for Grammys, Tonys, Emmys, Oscars, etc for movie scores, theme songs, and the like. Besides, in all of its pop punk satire glory, the song is pretty damn catchy. I may or may not have cried a little when they started the encore with Cemetery Guns. That song does that to me.

Well, lots of songs do that to me. I usually cry once during any concert I go to.

Speaking of FoW songs that make me cry, someday I’ll write a post comparing Action Hero to the works of James Thurber. They didn’t play that one, though. Moving on…

The Mayo Center is a great venue, but I’ve never seen a rock show there. The Vienna Boys Choir? Yeah. Kevin Smith? Yeah? The New Jersey Ballet? A few times. It’s not a rock venue. The sound was a tad off.  I’m assuming the tech guy was at a bit of a loss. Still, it was pleasant, and the pre-show dinner options in Morristown are awesome.

Next review will probably be World/Inferno Friendship Society with Rasputina opening.

I'm really glad that the rain's holding out for the kids trick-or-treating.

Between hurricane Irene and superstorm Sandy, these kids haven’t had Halloween in two years. Between the weather, the fallen trees, the fallen power lines, and power outages, it just wasn’t safe or even possible for them to go out. After both events, they made attempts to “reschedule” Halloween on a mass scale, several weeks later. You can imagine how well that worked out. (Not at all.)

When you’re four, two years is a long time. Hell, when you’re fourteen two years is a long time.

So yeah, I’m really glad it worked out for them, today.

It is such a gorgeous day.

How is every summer day so gorgeous, even the unbearably hot ones, even the rainy ones?

Last night we discovered that we have a problem. We are approximately equidistant from three 7-11s, none of which is quite within reasonable evening walk distance. We walked to one anyway. It took us about two hours to get there and back. We didn’t need to go to 7-11. We could’ve taken a car. But we wanted to walk.

These are suburban summer problems.

The night before that, I watched the fireworks at my hometown’s adorable little carnival with the girl who’s been my best friend since middle school. Well, we didn’t watch the fireworks from the carnival. We were on line to buy zeppoles and lemonade when we saw one too many people who picked on us in high school. So we ran off with our sweets and watched the fireworks from her mom’s backyard, like we have for the past decade.

These are suburban summer problems.

The cicadas are so loud that with the window open it’s hard to hear myself think. It’s a sure sign that today will be a scorcher. I can’t drive down to the beach because I’m working, and I can’t afford the gas money anyway. Still, the breeze is nice.

These are suburban summer problems.

Spent the day lying on the beach with my little cousin.

It doesn’t get any better.

P.S. From what we saw, Sandy recovery in Ocean Grove and Asbury Park is going well. The boardwalk is completely repaired in Asbury Park. It’s almost completely repaired in Ocean Grove, except the fishing pier, which is on hold while they gather funds. (The OG boardwalk is owned by a non-profit, so they don’t get any state aid.) Tent city in OG is shockingly completely intact.  In between OG and AP, the old casino and carousel building is in rough shape–erm, rougher than usual–but they’re working on it.The roof of the Great Auditorium in OG is under repair; Convention Hall in AP is gorgeous and immaculate. The Stone Pony in AP is rocking on. The dunes in OG got wiped out, so they made a temporary bluff by stacking every Christmas tree in town, and running a fence through them. Bizarre looking, but effective.


Because luckycharmsandspecialdrink says I’m not fun and I don’t post about anything besides serious library school stuff.