New Jersey

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Ah, the long stretch of drudgery after the hectic holiday season. It’s a time of sickened overindulgence and desperate boredom in equal parts. What better moment to post pictures from my own simultaneously crammed and void seasonal stretch? Early in December, arriving home and seeing the full mass of Christmas decorations heaped on our dining room table, I felt inspired* to grab the ol’ point n’ shoot.

(*inspired = wanted to avoid getting pine sap all over me.)

Years of family history lay in tangled heaps, briefly exhumed only to be packed back up in short measure for another year’s basement exile.


This is the oldest ornament my family has, from my mom’s family. I think of her as the Sugarplum Fairy. She’s too fragile and precious to risk hanging low on the tree, easy cat bait, so we tend to hang her high. Wait, that came out wrong.


These must have been created at the behest of some well-meaning elementary school teacher – too clunky to actually hang on the tree, but with photos specifically taken for the holiday season. Nothing says ‘Merry Christmas!’ like awkward personal poses.


One small testament to the skill of Grandma Tillie, not a blood relation but our grandma’s best friend. Aside from copious canvas needlepoint, she stitched each of us stockings for our first Christmas. We still use them.


Brass and vague resemblance to ‘Love Is’. Ah, the ’70s.


Another well-intended class project.

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Stepping into Penn Station after a 2-month hiatus was like stepping into the stupid future. After making my way around the ‘New Jersey Commuter’ wing of the station, a pointless array of marble levels and elevators actively preventing me from reaching my train (no stairs to the platforms = one way movement very, very slowly), I found all the (relatively) small metal ticket machines bearing the NJ Transit logo at the top had been replaced by hulking blue monstrosities with an even more irksome ticket-purchasing interface.


The old machines, looking like ticket machines…


…and the new ones, looking like plastic kids’ toys. Also fun: finding out ticket fares had been hiked twice since last I traveled. Sure, I enjoy riding the double-decker trains as much as anyone and appreciate their clever use of existing space, but two hikes in that short a space seemed gratuitous.

Life is short.

So is your cash.
You said it, vandalized casino ad.

Driving up to North Jersey it was sad to see how many older businesses closed, including long-running garden center Fountains of Wayne (yes, the one the band named themselves after). Fortunately some businesses were booming:
Guitars, Drums

Entenmann's Outlet
Ah, Entenmann’s Outlet. Filling our childhood with lopsided Devil’s Cake and oblong donuts.

Corrado’s, a local grocery chain, had also expanded wildly. No longer just a food emporium, they’d grown to include several stores, a bakery and in-house fish market, and across the street, a business college. Their selection of produce was vast and the aisles were crowded with carts and families.
Chefs chasing you with plates of stuff.
Chefs menacing you with plates of stuff was a popular design theme.

You will buy the rice.
As was having the mascot stare you down.

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And now for the final installment of kitsch, camp and poorly thought-out t-shirt designs from Wildwood.

Wildwood’s littered with 50s-themed diners from the 80s. This one collected a number of original signs from now-defunct motels. Remember that Dan Clowes Eightball cartoon where the future of fashion was various iterations of historical periods? “‘I’m the 80′s version of the 50s.’ ‘I’m the 2010 version of the 50s.’”

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This year’s shirts feature ‘beer’ logos, but they’re really weed logos! Uh, wait, how is that subversive? If you’re a teenager you can’t wear them to school anyway, and if you’re in college, congratulations, you’re on the same level as the kid wearing the ‘Meant to Die’ Christian Moutain Dew spoof.
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Congratulations, Senior class of 2010. Make us proud!

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Don’t touch the creepy animatronic wall-eyed tree? Done and done!

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Who the hell would even think of bringing a cat to the beach? The fact that this sign exists points the answer to ‘somebody, who also probably had them in swim trunks.’

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This name does not inspire one to gorge at the promised ’100 feet of food’.
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This sign condenses a lot of my childhood memories of Rt. 18.
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A pink elephant on top of a liquor store’s a bit on the nose. Why not something subtler, perhaps a neon sign of a guy puking?
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They were so preoccupied with whether they could build dinosaur mini-golf they didn’t stop to think if they should!

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Oh, you didn’t think I was done with the shore yet, did you? Wildwood can’t be encapsulated in a single post, nay! It takes a triad of posts to adequately cover the broad spectrum of signage and boardwalkery available to the average visitor!

This sign was conveniently posted on the fence around the ‘Test Your Strength’ bell. One can only imagine the sea of douchery surrounding this area on summer weekends as each gelled and tribal-tattooed guy tries out-machoing the others.

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The Funky Dolphin sounds like a level of my personal hell.
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While I appreciate the Hot Sauce store sticking with what it knows, aren’t all names ‘personalized’ by the fact they’re your name?
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Yes, that is a giant 2-story water slide going out, then back in to a hotel. Jealous?
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Out of all the kitschy 60s hotel signage, this was the kitschiest.
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Ok, Munchies. While you get points for a name appealing directly to your target demographic, your sign is officially getting reported to the Grammar Police.
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What, is your year an approximation of the normal 365 days the rest of us use? Are you estimating the number of slices and chicken chunks? And what exactly is it that belongs to pizza?

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Suicidal hot dog!
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This is a ‘game’ where you pay to get zapped with electricity. As a tool to measure jockish machismo, I’m sure it’s a big boardwalk hit.
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All the glasses in this claw game were Elton-Johntastic.
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As long as you credit where you took it from, you can slap any picture on a shirt!
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