Monday
Sep242012

Peoria

Okay, I had been looking for work for over five months and finally found a job a few weeks ago. It didn’t work out. I don’t want to get into it, so it’s best to say it just didn’t work out. Jobs in the industry I work in are shrinking and moving out of the city. Other jobs I can get don’t pay enough to live in New York City. Even though I live in a rent stabilized apartment, the cost of living is becoming too high for me to live here. So I’ve decided to move. The obvious place for me to relocate is the town I was born in, Peoria, Illinois. My family is there and I have a lot of friends in that city and I’m fairly confident that I will be able to find a job there before my unemployment runs out. So I’m moving there in a few weeks.

What does that mean for this blog?
Well it means in a few weeks Tripping With Marty will be over. My third blog in three years is coming to an end. But as always, one ending means a new beginning. I’m going to be starting a new blog in November, once I’m settled in to Peoria. If you’d like to be notified when that starts, please send me your email address if I don’t have it.

I had a great time here in New York and feel like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to do when I moved here 19 years ago. Life hands you exit signs and you should know when to heed them. My time’s up here and it’s time to move on down the road. I’ve met and made some wonderful friends here and I will miss all of you, but we can keep in touch via the internet, emails and when I come back to visit NYC, which I plan on doing often.

I really want to thank all of you who have followed me on my blogs and on my journey of life.
A new chapter starts in about six weeks, I hope to see all of you there. Peace and love to you all. Thanks for being my friend. You make my day and nights with every page view and comment. I feel lucky to have an audience and hope you all will stay tuned for my further exploits in the midwest. See you soon.

Now I have boxes to pack.

P.S. I’ll continue to update TWM now and again while I move, so stay tuned. I’ll live blog my trip back to Peoria when that happens in a few weeks.

Further Reading: 365 Bars, MAD, POP.

So catch me if you can,
I’m goin’ back.

Surprise link...click on it, I dare you!

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Bonus Beer Photo From Decker!

My friend Decker  (pictured on the left) is a world traveler and he sent in a photo of himself and a friend having a beer from one of his stops on a recent trip. If you can correctly guess where in the world this took place, Decker will buy you a beer there the next time he's there. You, of course, are responsible for traveling expenses. Cheers and thanks to Decker for sending this in!


Monday
Sep172012

Strawberry Fields

This week instead of taking a trip outside somewhere, I thought we’d take a trip inside my mind, down memory lane.

When The Beatles released, “Strawberry Fields,” in 1967, it was the start of a musical and cultural revolution that began with Paul McCartney playing some hypnotic notes on a mellotron before John Lennon sang the cryptic words, “Let me take you down.” The song was a precursor to the “Summer of Love” that gave birth to the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. It looked to me back then that the world was going to change for the better. I felt lucky to be alive and able to witness such mind-blowing things like rock ‘n’ roll festivals, communes, braless hippie girls, free love, LSD, pot, long hair, moustaches and naked hippies frolicking in mud and ponds. It only lasted for two years. In 1969, the Manson murders had happened and the Rolling Stones free Altamont concert were two big needles pricking holes in the colorful balloons that had been floating in the sky and in the younger generation’s LSD-soaked, psychedelic brain trust.

But for a couple of years, things really did seem magical, at least to an optimistic and wide-eyed, nine-year-old Beatles fanatic like myself.
I really felt certain our culture and the world would transform into a beautiful, peaceful place where you’d be free to pursue anything that interested you. There would be no judgements, just peace and love. And that seemed like a beautiful thing to look forward to. That feeling started to take root the first time I heard “Strawberry Fields” on the radio. Let me take you down...

It was a gloomy, weary-dreary day in the second week of February, 1967. Our family lived in Louisville, Kentucky at the time and I was riding shotgun in our family station wagon with my mom at the wheel. It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and we were headed to the A&P grocery store to get some supplies that my mom needed to make our Sunday dinner with. I was bored at home and went along for the ride. The radio was tuned to one of the two rock ‘n’ roll stations that Louisville had on the AM airwaves, WAKY. The other was WKLO, but why would you listen to WKLO, when you could listen to WAKY? Plus, my favorite DJ “Weird Beard,” was the nightly DJ, so my allegiance in Louisville rock ‘n’ roll radio always laid solidly in WAKY.

“I’m A Believer,” by the Monkees had just ended as my mom slid our family wagon into the A&P parking lot. She found a space and was maneuvering into it when the Sunday afternoon DJ said the following mind-shattering words: “Okay, as promised earlier, next up, the groovy new song by The Beatles! But first a few words from the cats that pay the bills around here.”

My head felt like someone had pumped a canister of helium into my left ear and it had zoomed straight to my brain. A new Beatles song! It had been a long dry spell since there was any new Beatles product on the market. The last single they put out was in August of 1966, which was “Eleanor Rigby” with “Yellow Submarine” on the flip side. The album, Revolver had been released at the same time. It had been seven long months and in this time frame, The Monkees had come walking down the street and had stolen The Beatles thunder. I remember talking to my older brother Jim just a week earlier and wondering when The Beatles would have a new song out. Well, today was that day!

Then my mom parked and turned the car off.

Just as she grabbed her purse, I grabbed her arm and shrieked, “Turn the car back on!”

My mom looked shocked and with me still hanging on to her arm said just one word, but it was said rather sharply, “Why?”

“Didn’t you hear the radio? There’s a new Beatles song coming up after the commercials,” I stated with great and utter urgency.

“My mom shook loose from my grip and said, “I’ve got to get this shopping done and get home and get dinner started, you can hear the song later.”

As I mentally digested the tone of finality in my mom’s calm dismissal of listening to the new Beatles song, I felt queasy and sick to my stomach. My world was suddenly collapsing around me. The helium had left my brain and I felt like I had been pushed off a 157 foot cliff while holding a 50 pound boulder. I had to act and I had to act quickly.

“No, no, no, no...I, I, I, have to hear it now. I have to hear it now. Please..please...PLEASE!” I begged like some distraught, stuttering lost soul sitting in the electric chair pleading for one last cigarette before the switch was thrown.

My mom slumped in the drivers seat and my hopes were heightened. Then she started the car and said, “If it’s not on in a couple of minutes, we’re going in.”

I thanked her profusely as a commercial for the Ratterman Funeral Home was being beamed across the WAKY airwaves into our car. I laughed because the son of the owner of Ratterman Funeral Home was in my class at Holy Trinity. His name was George Ratterman and I used to tease him by saying people were dying to get into his dad’s funeral home. Ah, the laughs came fast and furious back in those youthful, carefree days.

After the commercial ended the DJ was back and made this spine-tingling announcement, “And now as promised, the new song from The Beatles! Get ready, because this is a different sounding Beatles than you’re used to, here’s the new song, “Strawberry Fields!”


I leaned in and turned the radio up and for about four minutes nothing existed except for my eardrums and the new Beatles song. I was shocked when I heard it. It didn’t sound like anything The Beatles had done before. There were strange sounds and while I recognized John Lennon’s voice singing, he sounded different. The whole tune kind of echoed the dreary day outside, it sort of plodded along and didn’t really have a catchy chorus, guitar solos or anything that resembled a Beatles song up to this point. I couldn’t wrap my 9-year-old mind around it. Towards the end of the song it stopped and then started up again and some really weird music ended the song.

As soon as it ended my mom turned the car off and said, “Okay, let’s go.”

I looked at her and said, “That didn’t sound like The Beatles.”

“If I were you I’d stick with The Monkees,” my mom said and we went in to the store. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell my brother Jim that I had heard the new Beatles song.

After what seemed like an eternity, we finally left the A&P and were headed back home.
Two seconds after my mom pulled into our garage, I threw the car door open, ran inside our house and I sprinted up the stairs and burst into the bedroom I shared with my brother Jim. He was laying on his bed reading a copy of Mad magazine.

I was out of breath, but I managed to blurt out, “I heard the new Beatles song!”

Jim bolted up on his bed and shot back, “What?”

By now I was sitting on my bed and had somewhat gained my composure and caught my breath.

“I heard the new Beatles song and it’s called, “Strawberry Peels,” I excitedly told him.

My brother’s eyes widened and his mouth flew open as he asked, “What did it sound like?”

“I don’t know, it was kind of weird,” was my honest answer.

Immediately Jim started quizzing me about the song, asking who sang it, was it fast, how long was it and what did it sound like. As I strained to think of something to compare it to, I finally thought of something.

“It’s kind of like that last song on Revolver,” I told him.

“Tomorrow Never Knows,” Jim answered back and nodded his head.

Then we both sat there thinking about it and then all of a sudden, Jim got up and lunged for his transistor radio which was sitting on his desk. He turned it on and we both sat there waiting for WAKY to play the new Beatles song again.

We sat on my bed and listened. We heard The Four Tops, Dusty Springfield, The Mindbenders, The Rolling Stones and Nancy Sinatra, but no new Beatles song.

“Are you sure you heard a new Beatles song today?” My brother asked as a commercial came on.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” I shot back defensively, “it’s called “Strawberry Peels.”

“If you’re making this up, I swear I’ll kill you,” Jim said shaking his fist at me.

“”Why would I make it up?” I asked incredulously in light of this highly questionable accusation.

Jim thought about it for a minute and answered back, “I don’t know. Why do you take off your shirt and dance around like a retard at the end of “Leave It To Beaver” every day?

Reruns of “Leave It To Beaver” were shown every weekday at four in the afternoon. It was a family favorite and usually Jim and I, along with my older brother, Tom and my older sister Terry would watch as June would confide in Ward that she was worried about the Beaver. One day when the closing credits would came on, I took off my shirt and start dancing like a maniac to the bouncy music that played as the credits rolled. I loved that music. Nobody liked me doing this and I think it was kind of disturbing to my brothers and sister. But the more I was told to stop it, the more I wanted to do it. My brother Tom beat me up a couple of times for not stopping when he told me to, but nothing could stop me from doing it. After a few weeks, everyone either left the room or just ignored me when I started the shirtless “Leave It To Beaver” dance. I didn’t really have an answer for my brother as to why I did this, but it didn’t matter, the DJ was back on the air and it was good news.

“By now you’ve probably heard that The Beatles have a new single out.
And now as a treat to you Sunday listeners, I’m going to play both sides, back to back, babies! So here we go with “Strawberry Fields” and then you’ll hear “Penny Lane!”

“It’s ‘Strawberry Fields’ you retard!” My brother laughingly spat out at me.

I just rolled my eyes and shrugged my shoulders as we listened to both of the songs.

Afterwards we both agreed that “Strawberry Fields” was a weird sounding song. “Penny Lane” sounded more like the Beatles and it was a little catchier. We both wanted to hear them again and the next day after school we talked our mom into driving us to the mall so we could buy the 45.

We walked in to the mall with our mom and agreed to meet back by the big green and grey ceramic turtles that were near the front entrance in a half an hour. Then we hightailed it to the center of the mall where the record store was located and ran to the back where the 45’s were placed in wooden racks. We raced to the Beatles section and found it. Not only was there a new Beatles record in the rack, it came housed in a picture sleeve! The front was a picture of the Beatles with spotlights going off. But it didn’t look like The Beatles at all. They had shorter hair and moustaches and George had a goatee. John Lennon had round, wirerimmed glasses that were like the ones John Sebastian wore in the Lovin’ Spoonful. None of them were smiling and they had on long coats and John had a scarf on. We stared at that for a few minutes and then Jim said, “They look kind of cool like this.”
I nodded my head in agreement. Then we flipped it over and it had the names of the songs and what we assumed were baby pictures of The Beatles. After checking out the sleeve, we bought the record and then went and waited for our mom while sitting on the ceramic turtles and staring at the picture sleeve.
We went home and instead of watching TV, we listened to that 45 over and over on our family’s fake wooden console stereo in the living room, until our mom told us to stop playing it. So we took it and went up to our room and continued looking at the picture sleeve. We both agreed after repeated listenings that we liked both songs, but “Strawberry Fields” was the best. We were both big fans of The Monkees, but “Strawberry Fields” made The Monkees sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks.

“I can’t wait for their next album to come out,” Jim remarked while holding the record.


“I bet it’ll be like nothing we’ve ever heard before,” I said staring straight ahead. I remember feeling like things were going to start changing. And they did. But just for a little while. Five months later, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out and kicked off the “Summer of Love” and everything seemed possible and wonderful. But then time marched on as it always does.

None of the things that I had hoped would happen as I grew older came to fruition.
Sometime in the early ‘70s, I realized that all the ideals, revolutions and revelations I had read about, believed in and listened to in song, weren’t going to come true. It kind of depressed me, but in 1975 I discovered The Ramones and took salvation in punk rock, booze and drugs. It wasn’t the same drug experience that the kids had in the 60’s though, I just wanted to get fucked up and forget about all the things that didn’t come true.

On December 8th, 1980, Mark David Chapman shot John Lennon four times in the back and killed him.

The next day I was driving to work and thought about the first time I heard “Strawberry Fields” in an A&P parking lot with my mom in Louisville, Kentucky. At that moment in time, I stopped trying to forget about things and realized I was lucky to have such memories to replay over and over, like little movies in my mind.


Further Reading:
Songfacts, The Beatles Bible and Performing Songwriter.

Let me take you down, cause I’m going to...Strawberry Fields.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!

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Bonus Swizzle Stick Donation!

My friend Isabella from Seattle recently came into a cache of swizzle sticks and decided to share the wealth with myself and with all of the TWM readers. They're really cool and I want to thank Isabella for sending them in! Isabella's been blogging longer than most people, she started in 1999! Her latest blog is called Get Me Off This Crazy Thing...Called Life. Check it out here, she's a great writer and it's an interesting blog. And if you're on Twitter, you can follow Isabella here. Check out the swizzle sticks she generously sent in below, they're too cool!

Thanks again to Isabella and to everyone who's donated swizzle sticks in the past. Check out the collection below, it's really getting big. I haven't gone out swizzle stick hunting, so maybe that'll be next week's post.

Monday
Sep102012

Jade Island

Back in March I took a ride on the Staten Island Ferry and ended up at Steiny’s bar. I had a good time that night and I’ve decided to repeat the experience. But tonight there’s a different destination once we get to Staten Island. After I put up that post, The Duncester sent me a video of Anthony Bourdain and David Johansen eating and drinking at Staten Island’s only tiki bar, Jade Island, which has been in business since 1972. After I watched that video, I knew I had to go check that place out and tonight’s the night, to quote Neil Young!

Here we are at the Staten Island Ferry. It still amazes me that this ferry ride is free and there's beer to be had on board.

There's a big crowd waiting, which is good, it means the ferry should be here at any minute.

It's 7:32PM, do you know where your ferry is?

Well I know where my ferry is, it's just landed at the dock.

All aboard!

The first stop was the snack bar for a much needed beer and bag of popcorn.

My view from the snack bar. I was able to squeeze in one more beer before we got to Staten Island.

By the time we docked in Staten Island, darkness had fallen on the city.

Welcome to Staten Island!

Jade Island isn't within walking distance, so it's off to the taxi stand for a ride.

Here's the captain of the taxi stand, John. He smiled when I told him I was going to Jade Island and said I was in for a real treat. Then he motioned for a taxi.

And here we are in the taxi.

Checking his GPS or updating his facebook status? You make the call!

And we're off. The driver said it wouldn't take long to get there.

He wasn't lying, here we are already!

Jade Island is open, let's go check it out.

Here's the lobby in all its tiki glory.

A golden Buddha sits on a table next to the menu.

There's a waterfall and flowers behind the Buddha giving the place a real island-like feel.

And most importantly, here's the bar. The tiki lamps hanging overhead bathe the bar in a magenta hue.

A menu is placed in front of me...

And before I think about food, I need a drink. You can't drink beer in a tiki bar, so I decided to go with a Zombie.

Bartender Johnny serves up the Zombie with a smile. He's a nice guy and a great bartender.

The view from my perch at the bar.

Staten Island native, John was seated next to me at the bar. He told me he's a regular at Jade Island as I realized everyone I had met so far tonight is named, "John." I started to feel like a hooker, albeit a Happy Hooker as the potent Zombie was kicking in already. Johnny pours a mighty stiff drink!

There's a large dining room situated behind the bar.

Bamboo booths line the walls which feature Hawaiian back-lit images.

Tiki lamps hang from the ceiling, adding to the island feel in here.

When I returned to the bar, my appetizer had arrived. I got the boneless spare ribs and it came with hot Chinese mustard and sweet and sour dipping sauce. I couldn't believe how big the portion is for an appetizer. This could've been the whole meal!

Despite the huge size of the portion, I sailed through it rather quickly. Great spare ribs! Time for another Zombie!

Frank and Kathleen sat next to me at the bar. They too are regulars here and said Jade Island is one of the best places on Staten Island.

And here's the main course...

The Jade Island Love Nest. It's got shrimp, lobster, pork, mushrooms and a variety of vegetables in a sauce housed in an edible birds nest. Very delicious, but needless to say, after that appetizer I took a good portion of it home with me!

And before I called for a cab back to the ferry, Johnny gave me a special drink on the house. I'm not sure what it was, but it was quite potent and I had a nice nap on the ferry ride back to Manhattan. If you're ever in Staten Island, you need to check out Jade Island for a great meal and potent drinks. Just make sure you've got aspirin for the next morning! Thanks to the Duncester for tipping me off about this place!

Staten Island Ferry
4 South St. (@Whitehall St.)
718-727-2508


Jade Island
2845 Richmond Ave.
Staten Island
718-761-8080

Further Reading: Humu Kon Tiki, Tiki Central and Lost City.

Thank God the tiki bar is open.

Surprise link, click on it...I dare you!

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A New Novel From Mykola Mick Dementiuk!

TWM reader, commenter and author, Mykola Mick Dementiuk had a new novel entitled, "The Facialist" out and he sent me an advance copy over the weekend. I haven't read it yet, but I guarantee it's a good read about the days when New York was down and dirty and filled with excitement! You can check out the book and buy it here and here. Thanks for the book Mick, I'm going to read it this week!

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Bonus Cartoon From Jaws!

Jaws the Cabbie sent in this Zombie cartoon to go along with what I had to drink at Jade Island. Ha ha ha! Nice work, Jaws, thanks!


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