New Meadowlands Nosebleed

It’s been a while.

I know, I know, no fault of yours. But let’s just say… the Jersey topic train just hasn’t been rolling through the station too frequently. Plus, I’ve been caught up with a few other things in my life (namely my job, personal life, and exciting new fitness goals) – but let’s not dwell on the boring stuff. What I want to talk about is a little place you may have heard of: the New Meadowlands Stadium.

Ahh, the Meadowlands. Home of landfills, pollution, and sewage. Until 1972, the Meadowlands were simply dying ecosystems in Northern New Jersey. They were probably one of the major reasons why non-New Jerseyans despised our state so much (that, and the stretch of the Turnpike near Newark Airport). Once the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority got started, we had Brendan Byrne Arena, then the Continental Airlines Arena, and now the Izod Center. But that’s not my point.

New Meadowlands Stadium

The point of this blog post is to highlight one of the newest stadiums home to a National Football League team. Now, the New Meadowlands Stadium only opened a few months ago, but it’s already seen its fair share of play. I was lucky enough to snag $18 seats (thank you, U.S. Army!) through my significant other, and I thought I’d use the viewing opportunity to pass judgment on the most expensive sports stadium ever built.

Let’s just characterize my relationship with NMS as love/hate.

Love:

1. The food. Surprised? I bet you are. NMS provided me with a tasty bucket of chicken fingers AND french fries for a relatively affordable price. Actual cost? To be determined. I didn’t actually make this purchase myself, but I enjoyed the fries and their finger-lickin’ after effects.

Meadowlands Rail Station

2. The Meadowlands Rail Line. Maybe this doesn’t really count as a positive for NMS, given that it opened a year prior to the stadium. However, the transportation from nearly anywhere in central/northern New Jersey to the stadium, minus the cost of parking, is AMAZING. I give the rail line and NJ Transit two thumbs up for this magical train of efficiency.

LT

3. My Ladanian Tomlinson Fathead poster. I was looking all over for a way to showcase my love for the Jets. Thanks NMS, for handing out free Fathead posters at the end of the game. Too bad I still have to collect the remaining five players.

Hate:

1. The drinks. I know, I know. I just told you how much I liked the food at NMS (and the affordable pricing, at least for the chicken fingers basket). However, the Diet Coke was just plain disgusting. Maybe there was a problem with the soda fountain that day, but I say, no excuses.

New York Giants

2. Sharing. I HATE sharing. Boo on having to share your favorite team’s stadium with another team. The worst thing about NMS is that it’s only one stadium. The good thing is… it’s no longer named after said other team.

Aaron Rodgers

3. The quiet. NMS is already notorious for being a relatively quiet stadium. SO not a good thing, unless you’re Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers yukked it up after the game, explaing that “it wasn’t as loud as I expected. All of us were very surprised, a 5-1 team, as well as they were playing, it wasn’t a louder stadium.” Maybe it’s the fans, or maybe it’s the design of the stadium. No one wants to be known as surprisingly quiet.

All in all, NMS? You’re not too bad. I’ll come back with a different review after my trip to the 2014 Superbowl.

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Movin’ Right Along…

Yes, I did choose a song lyric from The Muppet Movie to be the title of this blog post. Just in case Jason Segel (future writer and star of The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made to be released in 2011) happens to stumble along my blog and falls in love with me. But, as usual, I digress.

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been consumed with this thing called employment and I made a pretty big move in my life – I am now in a new apartment with my significant other. We’ll call him DKNJ.

The “big move” got me thinking about my many stopovers in the past six years. I realized that I’ve actually lived in SIX different towns in New Jersey in the past six years. I even moved to New York City for ten months, but I tried to block that out of my memory. In any case, my variety of Jersey living makes me somewhat of an NJ connoisseur. See? This blog is at least (somewhat) based in fact. Here’s a timeline for you.

Manalapan → Piscataway → New Brunswick → Little Falls → Hoboken → Kinnelon → Morristown

While visiting some of these towns were simply brief stints in my tenure as New Jersey connoisseur, I still consider them to be places where I’ve actually resided for a month or more. You may also notice that I’ve never even come close to living in South Jersey, for reasons obvious to anyone who’s read any of my previous blog posts.

So, what gives? What brings me to my fabulous new home, and how does it compare to these other towns in the dirty Jerz? Let’s compare.

1. Walkability

Morristown has great walkability (I think I just invented this word) and fantastic proximity to things that I love. These being Friendly’s restaurants, cute downtown bars/ice cream shops, Century 21, New Jersey Transit train stations, and even colleges (though it’s a reeeally long walk to Fairleigh Dickinson and Drew from here). The only other towns which compare in this category are Hoboken and New Brunswick. Granted, those two other towns were within walking distance of a Qdoba, but I’m still giving the edge to Morristown here. It provides me with suburban comforts, such as trees, houses, and families – and it does not distress me with lots and lots of drunk people around like the two aforementioned towns.

2. Target

I have to give the edge to Manalapan on this one. I’ve never lived closer to a Target in my life, and this is an important characteristic for me. There is a Target on Route 10, though, just a short drive away. I can handle the distance for now.

3. Neighbors

This is a tough one. I can’t say that I’ve ever truly liked or befriended my neighbors before (save for living in McCormick 7703 my freshman year of college). This is a draw.

4. Historical Significance

Today, I was able to walk to Washington’s Headquarters in a mere 15 minutes. How many people can say they’ve done that? There is supposedly a museum here as well, though DKNJ and I didn’t get much further than the George Washington statue on the corner. I love knowing that I live in a historically relevant city (and state!).

5. Pet-Friendliness

Would you believe that since I’ve moved to Morristown, I’ve actually seen EIGHT cats in my apartment complex? Yes, you read that correctly. This is only one shy of my family’s current nine-and-a-half cat count. Morristown gets the edge on this one, especially because there is a big orange cat that I got to name Morris (for several reasons).

Now, while Morristown seems to have the upper hand for now, I can’t really compare all of my lovely former habitats. Some cities are dirtier than others. Some are only within walking distance of a Wendy’s. And some have more bars per square mile than any other city in the United States. Regardless, I am proud to call New Jersey my true home.

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Gym, Tan, Wawa

As I settle in to watch a repeat showing of this week’s episode of Jersey Shore, I begin reflecting on all of the things about New Jersey that make me nostalgic for a time when the rest of the country didn’t mock us weekly on MTV. It helps that my family is on a short vacation to Cape May this weekend, and I’m able to think back about what makes the actual Jersey Shore so great. I’ve compiled a handy dandy list for my loyal blog readers, and maybe you can contribute something as well. What do you remember that is so clutch about the Jersey Shore?

Fearless Sea Creatures

Do seagulls ring a bell with anyone? I’m not going to lie, the Jersey Shore seagulls are vicious- and they seem to have absolutely no fear of humans. No funnel cake, French fries, or homemade PB&J sandwiches are safe from the scavenging seagulls. I actually have fond memories of one of my family friends being mocked by the seagulls as she tried to enjoy pretzel rods while lounging in her beach chair. NO MERCY.

Wawa

I would be hard-pressed to find anyone visiting the Jersey Shore who hasn’t stopped at a Wawa on their way down. Whether it’s a one-time deal or a weekly haunt, Wawa provides me with the comfort of knowing that I’m in New Jersey and I don’t have to worry about eating a disgusting 7-11 breakfast burrito. Ah, Wawa. Your Fiesta Turkey wrap never lets me down. It’s always a magical food item to bring to the shore, not to mention gulping down a Wawa brand iced tea. Yummmm.

The Claw Machine

Many of you may not actually refer to this famous boardwalk game as “the claw machine”. You might have heard of the crane machine – it’s one and the same. However, when I was younger, I found that I became somewhat of a Claw Master, winning a Beanie Baby or small stuffed animal at every turn. In fact, I created a winning strategy on the crane handle that was unfortunately thwarted when all of the Jersey Shore cranes were turned over to the stupid yellow blinking buttons. One arrow up, one arrow down? Puh-lease. Have you ever seen Snooki or J-Woww winning anything from those machines? Right. Now those claw machines are impossible to win. But I digress.

Salt Water Taffy

Wait. Does anyone actually eat salt water taffy? I distinctly remember bringing home boxes of that stuff but never consuming it. Maybe what I really meant to say was Water Ice.

Water Ice

It’s not Rita’s, Ralph’s, or even froyo (three of my favorite ice-cold treats), but it is forever linked to the Jersey Shore. With a variety of fruit flavors unmatched by any other ice vendors, water ice is delicious and refreshing.

As you can see, whether you’re at the Jersey Shore for just an afternoon of lounging or a late-night naked swim (yes, that has happened to me before… and no, I was not the naked one}, all New Jerseyans hold memories close to their heart. And maybe we’ll still remember them when The Situation is old and gray, wishing for his MTV stardom to return.

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HEYYY YOUUU GUUYYYS

Allow me to set the stage for one of the best celebrity encounters I have ever had – this one in New Jersey!

The Goonies

If there’s one thing I love as much as our beautiful Garden State, it’s a little-known 1985 film directed by Richard Donner and produced by none other than Steven Spielberg, The Goonies. Just kidding. It’s not a little-known film at all. Wikipedia informed me that it was one of the top ten highest grossing films of 1985 (take that, haters). I am not ashamed to admit that I spent most of my tween years wishing and hoping for a Goonies 2 to come out of the woodwork, though it never did. Alas, my love for the most adorable kids from the wrong side of Astoria, Oregon, faded over time. After all, how was a 1986-born girl from New Jersey ever supposed to reap any benefits from the Goonies love?

Little did I know…

It was June 11, 2010. I was sitting at my computer desk at my former place of employment (hint: it is an institution of higher education). I received a text from none other than R.A. Kohlmann (hi, dad!) informing me of the most glorious news that my former Goonie-obsessed self could have EVER expected: the Lakewood Blueclaws were having a 25th anniversary celebration for my favorite movie, The Goonies. Better than that? They were playing host to CHUNK, Jeff Cohen, one of the film’s most beloved characters. Jeff, heretofore known as Chunk, was best known for his role in The Goonies and has hardly (never? I’m not too sure…) worked in the industry since. He’s actually an entertainment lawyer. More surprisingly, he is actually really svelte now. Of course, I knew this when I was about nine years old, researching all of the actors on AOL, but that’s beside the point.

Chunk

Fast forward to this past Thursday night. The stage was set for a beautiful and absolutely disgustingly humid New Jersey evening. What could be a better venue for my dream to come true than First Energy Park in Lakewood? I was even able to overlook the fact that the Blueclaws are affiliated with the Phillies (ugh, see my Philadelphia entry for more thoughts on this) because I was so excited. Additional side note: John Runyan, former Eagles lineman and current Republican candidate for the third congressional district of New Jersey, was also in attendance. This game was seriously in south Jersey territory. Shudder.

Chunk and I

All was made well again, 1.5 hours of waiting in line and one-half of a $5 beer later. I met one of my favorite childhood characters, Chunk. I listened to other baseball game-goers yelling “HEEEY YOUUU GUUUUYS!” while the players actually wore Hawaiian print, Chunk-style jerseys in honor of the film. I never thought that my own state would be such a proud advocate for a movie that was entirely based in Oregon.

But it was. And I was happy.

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Love and Light

Here at Jersey Fresh, we have some extremely pressing news to cover. Let’s begin with a pop quiz.

Is it:

A) The fact that I am moving in three days and haven’t really packed yet
B) My new job (which is going swimmingly, thanks for asking)
C) More political matters, much like the oil spill that keeps on spilling
D) UNBE-WEAVE-ABLE

If you guessed D, then you are definitely the right person to be reading this blog post. Yes, it’s true. I cannot resist commenting on Monday’s record-breaking episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey.

In case you missed it, here’s a quick summary:

Teresa called Danielle “honey”, which apparently is the worst word in the English language. Danielle proceeded to mock Teresa about her house going into foreclosure, which sent Teresa into a tailspin of epic chinchilla proportions – chasing Danielle outside of the North Jersey Country Club. While this was all too much for Danielle, who spent the next 20 minutes crying about her broken heels, apparently it wasn’t enough for the angriest 18-year-old in New Jersey – Jacqueline’s daughter, Ashley. Ashley pulled Danielle’s weave and may have ripped out some of her real hair (though this is questionable) and made the “unbe-weave-able” pun that made the whole episode worth it for me. Let’s face it: I lap this shit UP.

The Book

I have been trying for the past year to accurately assess the thrill that I get from watching the RHONJ. I still don’t think I can describe in words the joy that I felt when I watched the table flip from last season. What is it about these housewives that makes me squeal when drama erupts?

To be honest, I think the truth is – these women are recognizable to me. While I don’t often see housewives ripping out each other’s weaves, I have been witness to the cattiness of New Jersey women for my entire life. I can practically count on one hand the number of women in my neighborhood who actually deign to talk to my family on a yearly basis. I’ve seen the lavish onyx and granite houses, the SUVs, even the rented inflatables for little kids’ birthday parties. New Jersey produces plenty of people who are capable of creating a Danielle Staub-esque scene, and they have the money to back it up. I’ve seen more unbe-weave-able things happen down the street from my house (largest cocaine dealer on the East Coast, anyone?). I know the REAL housewives of New Jersey, they are just as crazy, and I LOVE it.

On another note, I would like to write an open letter to Bravo regarding my favorite Housewife of all time, Caroline Manzo. If the network executives can give Bethenny her own show, I don’t see why the Manzos couldn’t produce reality TV gold. Not to mention, I wouldn’t mind watching Albie on my screen every week. Caroline is real, honest, tough (and ridiculous), but to me, she’s a true housewife. I laugh and get teary with her almost every week. If only we were as thick as thieves.

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West Philadelphia, Born and Raised…

First of all, this blog post will not be about The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, so don’t be fooled. Most of you know that I haven’t seen enough episodes of that television program to fill a sentence, let alone an entire post. Anyway, this post covers a much more touchy subject in my life: the City of Brotherly Love. That’s right, I’m talking about you, Philadelphia.

Recently, I’ve found myself in the midst of a number of heated discussions about New Jersey’s “other” neighboring city. Not to mention those who read my blog know that I am completely biased and have pretty much dismissed Philly, either the city or a related sports team, multiple times thus far. Many of you are probably wondering, why the hate?

Aside from the fact that I was raised a proud Central Jerseyan, I actually have some anecdotal evidence that lends itself to my dislike for all things Philadelphia. It’s completely irrational, but no one said that Jersey Fresh was a haven for my rational thoughts. Hear me out.

At the end of 2005, I was sitting on the couch in my parents’ Manalapan home, being subjected to NBC 10 Philadelphia News. I’m not really sure why my parents frequently watch this station, aside from the fact that it’s on at 4:30 p.m. which is when we usually eat dinner (ha, ha. Sad but true). As a journalism major, I have some slight authority to pass judgment on the news – and this station is kind of a trainwreck. So I was just sitting there, blindly watching their news stories countdown of 2005, ranked in order of newsworthiness. As #3 detailed the life and death of Pope John Paul the II, I pondered who the top two stories would be about.

What was #2, you might ask? IT WAS ABOUT TERRELL OWENS. Negotiating his contract with the Eagles. Yes, above the POPE. Someone who influences more than a BILLION people in the world. This infuriated me and set me on my current tirade against Philadelphia and its Phanaticism. Seriously? What news station would ever prioritize Terrell Owens over the Pope? Your answer: Any in Philly.

All right, all right. Like I said, I am completely irrational in my Philly hate. Instead of continuing to spew venom left and right, I thought it would be worthwhile for me to provide a list (albeit a short list) of things that I actually appreciate about Philly.

1. The Betsy Ross House
Yes, Betsy made the first American flag, and I was fascinated with this topic when I was younger. You can’t deny the history of Philadelphia, and I thought this was one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to (though I was only 9 at the time). Plus, it only costs $3. I can’t complain.

2. The University of Pennsylvania
I have a soft spot for colonial colleges (see Rutgers, founded in 1766). Believe it or not, UPenn was my dream school for a long time. I even bought some shorts with “Penn” written across the butt (an out of character move for my 14-year-old self). Founded in 1740, it’s not only rich with history, but it has a beautiful campus. I still kind of long to go there.

3. One particular Philadelphia Eagle: Hank Baskett
Basically, this item on the list shows you that I have no shame. One of my top guilty pleasures is watching Kendra Wilkinson (former girlfriend of Hugh Hefner and star of The Girls Next Door) on her new show with her husband, Hank. I’m pretty sure that any girl who watches this show completely swoons over Hank and his ridiculously sweet demeanor. He makes me like the Eagles in the slightest, which is saying a lot. Though he might be traded away from them by the time I actually post this article.

4. My friends
Let’s face it: a lot of my good college friends grew up in the Philadelphia area or still live there now. I love them, and they love Philly. I suppose it can’t be all bad for that reason.

See? Wasn’t that a nice, gentle ending to a potentially angry rant about one of my least favorite cities? Jersey Fresh can appreciate different viewpoints, I swear. Unless we’re talking about, say, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. But that’s another blog post for another time (i.e. football season).

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Those Summer Niiiiiights…

Tell me more, tell me more.

Now that Memorial Day Weekend (or MDW, which I totally don’t get) has arrived, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to share with you some of my favorite things about New Jersey summers. This is less of a social commentary about New Jersey culture and more of a Garden State celebration. I’d like to encourage some of you blog readers (if there are any of you out there) to post some of your favorites as well!

Before I make my list, I would like to remind you of my aforementioned biases. One, I have spent approximately 22 summers in Central Jersey, therefore rendering my list very location-specific. Two, I have recently determined the values of North Jersey in the past few years thanks to a certain significant other. Three, I’m a Jets fan and hugely excited about the upcoming 2014 Superbowl at New Meadowlands Stadium. Oops, that third one was completely irrelevant. I just had to throw it in there – excited may not be a descriptive enough word. Anyway, here’s my list.

1. Manalapan Under the Stars
I was one year old when I was photographed eating a hot dog for the Asbury Park Press at Manalapan Day. I was practically born to love a good old Manalapan celebration. Just two years ago, I danced with my dad onstage to Al Jardine and the Beach Boys, continuing my Manalapan-loving legacy. Manalapan Day, as it was formerly named, never fails to entertain. Whether it’s gawking at old high school classmates, eating funnel cake, or watching those Icon dancers showcase their latest America’s Best Dance Crew performance, I just can’t get enough. This year’s Manalapan festivities will be taking place on June 12. And I’m pretty sure I’ll be there, if not simply for the fireworks.

2. Kruise Night
What’s the best opportunity in New Jersey for a casual run-in with the Boss, Bruce Springsteen? I would argue that it’s Kruise Night. In the heart of downtown Freehold, Kruise Night offers free entertainment and lots of classic cars. In my six years of prowling the streets, I’ve been on the constant lookout for my personal favorite classic car – the DeLorean DMC 12. This past Thursday, my dad spotted one. It looks like I’ll have to visit Kruise Night more often. It happens on the last Thursday of every month. If that’s not enough to entice you, chow down on one of New Jersey’s best pizzas (as rated by New Jersey Monthly, Federici’s is downtown, and it’s delicious.

3. The Actual Jersey Shore
I’ve been hearing a lot of my fellow Central Jerseyans voice their anger about Bennies (I’m not sure if this is actually the correct pluralization, but I digress) visiting the shore this weekend. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, a “Benny” is a person from New York/Northern New Jersey who invades the Jersey Shore on the weekends. I still haven’t actually decided if I’m a native or a so-called Benny since I live about 40 minutes drive from the beach. Either way, the actual Jersey Shore – not the MTV reality show – is one of the best things about living in Central Jersey. I love nothing more than easy access to somewhat clean beaches, boardwalk games affectionately known as “Shoot the Geek” (is that even open anymore?), and Kohr’s orange/vanilla swirl ice cream. Yum.

Whether or not you’ve been lucky enough to partake in any of the aforementioned festivities, New Jersey is a great place to be in the summer. You can catch fireflies, engage in badminton at one of my famous Badminton Parties, or enjoy dining al fresco with the mosquitoes and the squirrels. There’s nothing better.

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