Oh geez; I meant to give a big yay to my sister for running a marathon and all, but Jersey distracted me. So, Yay! Rachael rocks! Run, girl, run! Oh wait, that sounds kinda threatening. Jog on, baby.
Jersey was everything I hoped for and more. At the Secret Stash, they had something like 20 issues of a magazine entitled "New Jersey Weird", that talked about all the strange stuff that I've been looking for on this trip. I didn't get a single one. I barely even looked at one. I just couldn't, it woulda broken my heart. Someday, Jersey, I'll be back. I know most people don't consider the Garden State to be a hotbed of tourism, but I could easily spend weeks there, roaming from strangeness to strangeness. Sigh.
I started my tour at the Marina Diner, the spot from where Silent Bob gives his mega speech in "Chasing Amy". I was appropriately awed by the green plastic booths, and sipped my lima bean soup while listening to the staff (apparently all from the same Greek family) finish up their shifts and shoot the breeze. Apparently I missed Bon Jovi by one day. He had been in just yesterday morning; they had several signed napkins.
I need to take a time out from my Jersey tour to come out of the closet. I love Bon Jovi. I mean really. No other band makes me rock so hard. I still headbang like crazy the instant I hear one of his songs starting, and a big goofy grin comes over my face, and I'm instantly a rebellious teenager again, just living on a prayer. And he's cute. Moon. Sigh.
Anyway, now that I have completely ruined my street cred with y'all, back to Jersey. My next stop was the Quick Stop, right next to RST Video. It's just a little convenience store, but it's... it's the store! I couldn't decide what to get. I wanted to sit on the floor and spin all the eggs, or attack someone with red vines, or... the options were limitless. I got gum.
On to the Stash, where I picked up supplies for my super secret shrine project, as well as just a few comic books. I've been so good! I deserved a few... or five.
My last stop was Asbury Park, right on the coast. This was where God was attacked after a skeeball game. I was drastically disapponted that there weren't any skeeball places open, but it was a Monday morning, and that was the only thing about the place that disappointed.
It was beautiful. A slew of old buildings, many of them abandoned or condemned, or just looking that way, many of them looking like they were built for a World's Fair way back when. The board walk was completely empty, with shutters covering all the ice cream stands and videogame parlors. As I was approaching the railings, a man staggered out of the convention center. Remember the really freaky hockey minion with the long hair and wicked eyes? This was him, 20 years later, wearing the same outfit. And very down on his luck. He must have pawned his stick. He was asking for change, because he'd been stuck 'here' for days. Here, as in Jersey? The shore? This dimension?
I was certain the convention center had been abandoned years ago, until I took a closer look. Turns out the Miss Gay NJ Pageant had been held there just this weekend! That would explain the 30 foot pride flag covering the front of a fabulous deco hotel. The back of the hotel was missing, actually, semi-covered in plastic.
Everything has this strange empty look to it that is only dispelled if you look closely. I would love to come back on a weekend, and see if it really gets hopping. I only saw a few locals, and a pair of tourists that looked frightened and confused, like they wandered onto the wrong metro line. They gamely shot a few pictures before retreating, probably to the safety of Caesar's in Atlantic City.
Which was exactly where I was headed. What I wouldn't give for a chance to go back in time to the days before the casinos. The best thing in Atlantic City was the free historical museum, packed with souvenirs and pictures, and even a few remnants of sand sculptures. The worst things were the casinos. I have a gambling problem. I know this. Still, I thought I could handle a half hour in a casino Long story; the gist of it is that I had to spend a half hour there in order to park for free and to win a 12 pack of coke. I also ended up winning $5. Unfortunately I lost $20. That's like a whole day of travel! Grrr. Oh well, I'll enjoy that coke for weeks to come.
The only reason the museum is the best thing in Atlantic City is because Lucy the Elephant is just down the road in Margate. He's a beautiful big beast, wonderfully renovated. I was able to sneak onto a tour, even though they weren't officially open today. The inside was painted Gastronomic Pink, and you could look out windows in his eyes and butt. A family lived there once, in 1902. I found myself fantasizing about washing my undies and hanging them from his tusks, or sliding my outgoing mail down his tail. The other half of the time I wanted to start singing the Love song from "Moulin Rouge". Quite possibly the best bit of roadside americana I've seen so far.
On to Philly. It's a beautiful city, and I would have loved to spend more than an hour there. I didn't even get to the Mummer's museum. And I found the church with a body entombed in glass, but it was locked up today. Poop. But time is of the essence, and at this late date, I've found I don't have much patience at all with city driving and attempting to park. On top of that, cities are places that you have to plan out careful, decide what you want to do and how to get there, where to stay... nuts to that. Down with planning. (Sorry Christy, just kidding!)
So on to Hershey, and Chocolate World. Much more my speed. I'm on my way there now, but I had to stop in Intercourse. For one thing, I haven't been getting lucky much recently, and I thought this might... shoot, parents reading. Just kidding! Ha ha. Really I stopped because it is the center of Mennonite life in Pennsylvannia. There seem to be more horse and buggies than cars, and every second farm sells strawberry pies, or quilts, or ice cold watermelons.
I haven't been able to figure out exactly what their beliefs are. There's the whole dress code thing, which is a little startling when you see 20 little boys lining up to get on a bus to a baseball game. Do you think they play like that? How would you slide in suspenders? They don't do cars, but are John Deeres okay? And I saw a few with sunglasses. Hmmm. Are they averse to photos? I tried to be surreptitious, but the busfull of baseball boys in straw hats was impossible to pass up. I guess I'm going to hell. If not for that, then definitely for lusting over the cutey mowing the lawn down the road. It was so hot, he had to open his shirt a bit, and he'd hung his hat on the fence... don't let anyone tell you suspenders can't be sexy.
Well, it's getting dark outside. Looks like I'll have to spend the night in Intercourse. I'm so easily amused. It's almost as good as I-da-ho. Tee hee. Pleasant dreams, y'all.