Six Scores From The Flea Market!

I believe it was an ancient Chinese Proverb that stated, “The early bird catches the worm, well, usually, but only if he can wake his ass up in time.”

Since I’m on a schedule where I wake up ungodly early for work each day, my body’s own alarm clock buzzed me out of a dead sleep around 7am on Saturday. The incessant chirping of birds near my window didn’t help either. The flea market trip wasn’t for a few hours, so I did my best to waste time. Ate some cereal, watched Big Hero 6 for the 11th time, inventoried my entire Monster High collection…HA! Just kidding, that would take me 3 1/2 weeks. Then, before I knew it, it was time to embark on another journey to the Englishtown Auction with Matt from Dinosaur Dracula.

To say that I was soured on my experiences is an understatement. Do you remember when Luke’s X-Wing fighter sunk into the murky swamp on Dagobah? Well, that’s basically what happened to my car, just at a Flea Market in New Jersey. If you missed that little debacle, you can read about it here!

Matt reported that his last trip to Englishtown was a major success, and I chalked that propaganda up to the natural high of finding the absolute most beautiful ceramic E.T bank that was actually manufactured in 1982 by a Hallmark-like stationary store on Brodo Asogi. Come to think of it, maybe getting my ass back there was an intergalactic imperative.

It seriously couldn’t have been a more perfect day for 3-hour walk around an outdoor flea market. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the low ’70s. Even the insane traffic couldn’t agitate me, well, that’s a baldfaced lie. Traffic always agitates me, but when I’m with friends, it agitates me considerably less. Maybe it’s because I can’t let them see my usual stuck in a car with no air conditioning type meltdowns.

Frequently, every weekend even, you tend to see people posting their big finds from the various yard sales (I always called them Garage Sales) and Flea Markets on Instagram and Twitter. What’s irksome to me is that everyone elsewhere across the country seems to find some utterly amazing shit, while often, all I come home with is a Taylor Dane LP not realizing that I already owned 2 copies. I can never get enough of “Tell it To My Heart,” so all is well. Though, records weren’t the only crap I came home with from the Flea Market this weekend.

Their trash is my treasure as they say, and this trip defined that old saying in spades. The dirty bags of junk I hauled into my apartment last night were filled with things that seriously almost no one would’ve purchased. Except maybe our friend, Trash Culture.

Literally, the first table I stopped at gave me an early indication that we’d have a wondrous experience on this day. This guy’s table was filled with the most random junk EVER. The friendly vendor was willing to work with me on prices too.

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1. GENE SIMMONS PLAQUE

Out of all the amazing stuff at the table, my eyes zeroed in on an old Gene Simmons plaque that looked like it was hanging in a den covered in wood paneling in 1978. What that translates to is me having to own this without question. FIVE BUCKS. Boom. Take my money.

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2. FLABBER DOLL – BIG BAD BEETLEBORGS

Oh wait up vendor man, you have a Flabber doll from the Big Bad Beetleborgs? WTF, are you seriously kidding me right now? I will give you $160 dollars for it. 2 days prior, I just got done telling Matt how creepy I thought that dude Flabber was. I think the spirit animal thing has been done to death by this point, but whatever the modern equivalent is, good ol’ Flabs is mine. He was Jay Leno mixed with the ghost of Liberace. NEED.

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3. PROMOTIONAL SOPRANOS WATER SNOW GLOBE TV THINGY

Oh no, wait, don’t ring me up yet, you also have this promotional Sopranos TV that doubles as a snow globe, but instead of snow it’s dollar signs? How much for f*cking Flabber AND the Sopranos promotional TV water globe thing? 4 bucks! How could I go wrong? I could’ve stopped right there and went home with the same level of happiness of a little kid in 1986 leaving TRU with an action figure. Just realizing now that this thing goes for some decent cash on eBay. Some Buy It Now listings for it range from $24 to $66 dollars!

As if these finds weren’t preposterous enough, this was all from the freaking same table! If I hadn’t already overused caps in this post I would’ve typed that entire previous sentence in caps and maybe even bold. A big thanks to that vendor too, because after I was done looting his table, Matt noticed his insane collection of old fridge magnets and he cut him a great deal for the entire collection.

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4. RECORDS! MORE RECORDS!

Leaving a flea market without a vinyl LP is a virtual impossibility for me. This time, I actually had one in mind that I’m trying to track down, but couldn’t find it. Looking at my haul, there was about 10 records, most were a buck, 2 were free, and then with a couple of Tiffany 45s thrown in the mix (Matt found them! One of these I already had, but whatevs, that’s a bad habit of mine.) I won’t detail all of the records I picked up, but I’ll show you some of the best ones.

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First, the most random “get” was My Stepmother is an Alien Soundtrack. The fact that this even exists in 2015 is a miracle. The inspiration for owning this soundtrack was clearly not the music etched into the vinyl. Look at that cover! Was that photo one of the rejects from an ad for the Playboy Channel in the late ’80s? So awesome. From there, a Hall and Oates single, one of my favorite tunes by them: “Adult Education,” with the lyrics on the back cover! Also, Wendy and Lisa’s Fruit at the Bottom, former tag-team backup for Prince. And of course, those Tiffany 45s. The design of these covers were so simple, yet so effective. They didn’t overthink it at all. Slap a glamour shot on the cover, a typical font of the era, and some minimal effect, and nowadays you have artists trying with all of their ingenuity to recreate this style on their own releases.

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5. HERCULES THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS FIGURES, 1996

My condo is packed with about 685 million action figures, so clearly I needed more. I don’t even know a damn thing about the Hercules TV show or Xena for that matter, but one thing I will say in my defense is that I won’t needlessly buy figures unless I’m drawn to them in a specific way. Now, when reading the name of this next figure, how could I not be drawn to her?

SHE-DEMON.

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I’m attracted to She-Demons, what can I say?

Hercules: The Legendary Journeys from Toy Biz figures were 2 for $5 bucks. I wasn’t an avid viewer of the show, but I’ve definitely seen it on TV, I believe it aired on our local WWOR-9 at the time. It was that shlocky Saturday mid-day programming that always came through for me when I was eating lunch in the kitchen and needed a temporary diversion. I don’t know too much about the show, but I can now tell you that the figure line was amazing. There are monsters, there are heroes, there are Mesomorphs. I went with that stone cold fox She-Demon and Xena II with her red warrior disguise.

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6. WONDER GIRL CUP 7-11, 1973

Something tells me that a roving therapist or psychiatrist would benefit some of the people at the Englishtown Auction. Whether people want to admit it or not, there are some nutsos running a few of the tables. Some of them are just wacky, while others are seriously delusional.

This one lady had about 5 or 6 of these vintage 7-11 cups on her garbage filled table. Keep in mind, people go to these flea markets to get good deals, not to overpay with eBay pricing. I asked “How much are these cups?” as if I didn’t know anything about them. With that, this woman starts asking me all kinds of questions like “Which one are you interested in, I can sell you all five for $100 dollars, you know they are all so expensive.”

I explained that I didn’t want all of them. She then offered me the price of $15 each and reminded me again how expensive they were, which technically, by eBay standards was actually pretty fair, but we were standing on a pile of dirt that was clouding up every time people walked by, we were in the middle of a big open space with picnic tables that have been there since the ’60s, and there was no freaking way I was prepared to shell out $15 bucks for this damn cup, no matter how bad I wanted it. She asked me how I felt about that price and stone faced I said, “That is too steep for me,” and began to walk away. “3 DOLLARS!” she yelled to me.

SOLD.

And there you have it folks, one of the most successful and entertaining flea market trips I’ve ever taken part in. There were a few other items too, so I’m sure they’ll surface here in the near future. Thanks for reading!

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Flea Market Fiasco!

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Recently I mentioned to Dinosaur Dracula that I had never been to the Englishtown Flea Market. For some reason, I’ve been to every other damn flea market in existence, but not Englishtown. Lived in Jersey my entire life, never been. To others from around here, that’s not an outrage or an insult or anything, but it’s more like “you’ve breathed in air before, right?” I felt that 2014 was the time to finally make this trip happen.

The flea market is not far away and I always heard friends mention that they tend to find cool stuff there, so I really had no justification for never going there. Who better to join me on my first visit to this place than Dino Drac? Partners in crime is really an appropriate moniker for all the calamity and misadventures we’ve inadvertently entangled ourselves in. Matt’s been there several times and he kept mentioning a pretty awesome vintage toy shop that he found in one of the buildings. That was literally all I needed to hear to get me to want to go.

Also encouraging me was the forecast, Saturday was going to be partly sunny and reach the low 50s. Since most of us in the Tri-State area have been cooped up at home for the last month or so battling all these ridiculous snow storms, it was about time that we had a nice sunny day that we could go outside and enjoy rather than breaking our backs shoveling snow and freezing our asses off. Parts of this flea market are indoors while many of the vendors are outdoors, so either way it was a win.

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Loose TMNT figures on a peg board at the Flea Market

Matt, Ms.X, and myself took a laid back drive down Route 9 as I sipped a Monster and we bullshitted. None of us knew what we could encounter on this day. The possibilities were endless. How many useless things would I come home with? I was feeling really confident that going to Englishtown was the right decision. It was the perfect thing to do on the first sunny and mild Saturday we had in forever. Spending it with good friends and having a few laughs was the right move. It’s almost like therapy after the mind numbing grind of a long work week. It all made sense…for a little while.

Finding parking is one aspect of my life that I don’t like to spend too much time on. I’m not sure it’s an actual pet peeve, but for instance, I have absolutely no time in my life to waste on searching for the perfect parking spot at a mall during the holidays. I’d just as soon park 2 miles away and walk. I was pleased to find that the parking scene at the Englishtown Flea Market wasn’t even bad at all. Considering there were two huge lots to park in, I didn’t have to stress about it.

The first lot was literally made of mud. The entire ground was all mud. I started into some My Cousin Vinny lines while we all made the conscious decision NOT to park in the lot that was all mud because my car might sink into the mud and we’d be stranded there. I pulled right out of there and drove into the adjacent lot which, oddly enough, only had about 7 cars in it. Fortunately, this lot wasn’t all mud, it was ALL ice and slush. Much of the ice and snow started melting in the past few days but we figured it would be wiser to park on ice and melted snow than…mud. I walked away with the positivity that we made a very clear headed decision that would benefit us in the long run.

Hopping over puddles and snow, into the flea market we went. At first, it reminded me of any other outdoor flea market. Lots of vendors, lots of similar crap. Discounted drinks in bulk. Women’s bags. Cheap fragrances. Insanely huge Rey Mysterio blankets. You know, all that kind of stuff. Flea Market stuff.

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Airbrushed Terminator T-Shirt and my personal fav: DOUG.
What’s a New Jersey Flea Market without an airbrush shop?

I knew not to really expect much from a flea market because they’re usually inundated with aisle after aisle of the same crap. As you walk through the rows of vendors you’ll notice every 3 of them offer bootleg action figures. You know them – the multi-pack where Batman looks like he’s a repainted Frankenstein and Superman has blue hair and a very scared look on his face. Then always right beside those are bootleg Marvel and Power Rangers figures.

Down each aisle we ventured to see the real garage sale type fare. These people offered the kind of items you might see at a local yard sale or out on the curb in your neighborhood. Piles of used clothes, old cassette tapes, old stereo equipment, random packs of gum, and that was all the high end shit. Down one of these aisles of doom is where I made my first of two purchases of the day.

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If you’ve had no luck trying to track down a high quality King Tut sweatshirt, 
Englishtown Auction is YOUR one stop shop! *Thank you to Sam for correcting me in the comments- I mistakenly referred to this as the Sphinx.

A couple of sellers had random piles of old records. If you know me, I need more records like I need a hole in my head, but for those who aren’t aware, I don’t need more music options at home. I’m inundated as it is. But to me, when it comes to vinyl, I completely grasp the sound differences, but it’s more about discovering a record I would enjoy in a big pile of them and then appreciating the front and back cover art, that’s what really grabs me. Out of piles from two different sellers, I found Blondie’s Parallel Lines and the Flashdance Soundtrack. Although I’ve never even seen Flashdance, it’s got a pretty legendary soundtrack and a great cover, so I went with it. A buck each!

The sun was beaming down and we were enjoying the day as we continued scanning each table. “Let’s check in one of these buildings to see if we can find that toy shop,” Matt said in a very Jay is probably going to write about this so I will make this sentence sound very generic sort of way. The interior definitely reminded me of the types of flea markets that I’ve been to in the past, so I was in familiar territory now. The giant drums of pickles, airbrushed t-shirts, the faint scent of leather, it was all present.

We couldn’t find the toy shop in the first building we went into, but the day was young. Matt and Mrs.X bought some fresh spicy nuts imported from TOMS RIVER, NJ, which I guess is the spicy nut capital of New Jersey. You’d think I would’ve known this tidbit, but I had no clue!

We stopped into a few decent shops, but couldn’t find the one Matt was describing to me.

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There was an action figure shop that had tons of wrestling figures, G.I Joe’s, and TMNT figures, so we were guided by the scent of old plastic and dust. This is where my second purchase comes in. Total impulse buy. At one time I owned every WWF Hasbro figure ever and eventually I sold them on eBay like a chump for no good reason. For a while now I had the original Macho Man Randy Savage back on my radar. This was not the Macho King or the later Macho Man release with the white jacket and hat – this was the original with the star trunks. $10. So worth it, wouldn’t you agree?

We did manage to find one shop that housed everything for your army/navy surplus needs all the way to a Ben Cooper style Jake Lloyd costume from Phantom Menace. There’s four dealers in the world who specialize in young Anakin collectibles and this guy must be one of them. This store looked like someone’s basement. 50 years worth of dusty junk packed into this tiny little store. Hanging from the ceiling and stuffed into shelves were a couple of TV trays that caught my eye. One was Batman Returns and the other was E.T. I can’t remember the exact price the guy quoted me for the used Batman Returns tray, but I believe he said he couldn’t accept less than $20 – $30 dollars because “these TV trays are really hot right now.”

At this point, I was almost happy that we didn’t find the toy shop yet because knowing me I would’ve found something that I desperately wanted for some exorbitant amount of money. The same moment that thought crossed my mind is the exact same moment Matt found the toy shop. He wasn’t joking, this place is the crown jewel of the Englishtown Auction. Matt and Ms.X had me close my eyes as I walked in. Opened them up and was immediately in awe.

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I spy a Jack Napier WANTED Poster hanging on the wall!

From a vintage Strawberry Shortcake bake shop to about 200 original Kenner Star Wars figures in varying degrees of condition, this place was definitely worth the trip. You’re not going to get yard sale prices here though, prices here basically mirror what’s on eBay. Nothing stood out for me specifically, but I think this is where Matt came into contact with his latest toy “adoptions” as it were. More on that in a bit.

Next, I needed to find a bathroom to pee out all the energy drink from earlier. We found one and I cautiously entered. I saw a bathroom greeter, the type of greeter you might see at a swank restaurant. Sometimes they hold the towel for you as you wash your hands. Well, this guy was the absolute greatest men’s room greeter OF ALL TIME. This was his schpeel word for word or as accurate as I can remember it: “WELCOME TO THE BATHROOM MY GOOD MAN, I HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR STAY, THIS BATHROOM IS VERY CLEAN AND SMELLS OF FINE, FRESH CITRUS FRUITS, IF YOU SO CHOOSE PLEASE LEAVE A SMALL TOKEN OF YOUR APPRECIATION AND YOU WILL BE GRANTED ONE WISH – THE CHOICE OF ANY CANDY OUT OF THE 8 RANDOM PIECES ON THIS MAGICAL PLATE THAT I FOUND OUTSIDE. PLEASE COME BACK AGAIN VERY SOON.”

On that note, we ended our stay at the Englishtown Flea Market. 
We headed back to the car. Happy with all our purchases we hopped in and I started up the car and the music. Only problem was, the wheels were spinning, but we weren’t moving. We were kicking up lots of mud and eventually it sunk into our heads that WE were also sunk…IN THE MUD. Underneath all the snow and slush was mud, just like that other lot. Who knew that we probably would’ve been better off parking in that other lot after all? 
Matt suggested that we use our records to wedge under the wheels to give the car some traction. It was a valiant effort. Him and I then used our incredible super powers to try to push the car out, but that didn’t work either. Ms.X wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty and she hacked away at large pieces of ice near the wheels. Luckily I had a shovel in the back of my car and I was trying to shovel us out, to no avail. There was no winning this battle. The wheels were sunken into the mud about halfway! Making matters worse, the front bumper of the car was hanging over one of those concrete stoppers that kept you from driving out onto the road. This cause the front of the car to basically snap off.
My only defense was calling road service. As I did that, a nice guy with a giant 4-wheel drive ORV with bullet holes the size of matzoh balls who looked like Lebron James offered to tie a rope to the back of my car and attempt to pull me out. This guy also helped several other cars that got stuck in the mud and slush as well. Thank you to that guy. I would say “if he’s reading this,” but there’s less than zero chance that he read The Sexy Armpit. This guy saved us from sacrificing those records!

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We needed to get on the road so this day didn’t start to deteriorate even more rapidly. With some parts of the undercarriage dangling onto the road we hightailed it out of there. After a few miles, Ms.X and I saw a Mexican place on route 9 that reminded us of Jose Tejas. Formerly Damon’s Grill, this place took on a Mexican gimmick back in October. I’d been interested in going there, but haven’t had the chance. As we came upon it, I abruptly made an executive decision and turned into the parking lot. We needed some Mexican beer, Patron, Mexican food, and of course, guacamole power – in that order. It saved the day…for a little while. Name of the place is Rosalita’s Roadside Cantina in Manalapan, NJ if you’re ever in the area or want to replicate this debacle of a trip.

Thanks to Matt and Ms.X for all their help and their patience. We were all soaked and full of mud, but they persevered! Once we got home, I brought down the mood once again by losing an eBay auction on an item that I wanted more than you can imagine for the better part of my life. What a day! Thank God Miss Sexy Armpit brought snacks.

*I urge you to read about Matt’s finds from this experience. Being the benevolent guy he is, he found “5 Misfit Toys” that needed a home, and he paid the adoption fees and signed all the paper work so he could give them a good home. READ ALL ABOUT IT AT THIS LINK OVER AT DINOSAUR DRACULA!!

UNBEARABLE #1 From Crucial Comics Is Rad

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Since I’ve read mainly DC Comics for the majority of my life, indie comics rarely appear on my radar. It’s not intentional, but unless someone shoves one in my face, like my friend, Sexy Armpit Show co-star, and writer at Comic Booked, Mike Wirth (@leafenegg on Twitter), then it will probably pass me by completely. Recently Mike had a feeling that I’d be interested in, Unbearable, the latest offering from Crucial Comics that’s just laced with New Jersey nicety.

Typically, I’ve been reading my comics through the Comixology app, which I get a lot of shit for. It’s similar to how audiophiles felt when people started buying cassettes and CDs and they remained loyal (and snobby) to vinyl. I had no qualms about moving on from the actual physical comic book to having them beamed to my device digitally. I’m fascinated by technology, what can I say? Many of my comic book readin’ friends still worship the actual book. Not sure if they are trying to be hipsters or counter-culture or whatever, but I’ve moved on. This time though, Mike mentioned that I could find Unbearable at Little Shop of Comics in Scotch Plains, NJ. So I went retro.

I’ve been to Little Shop a bunch of times so I stopped there after work one day. The woman working there directed me right to Unbearable which was highlighted by a small sign attesting to the fact that this is a local book by an indie company. While I was there I picked up a couple of other DC issues that caught my eye and went on my merry way.

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Picking up a Tiki Bar at The Englishtown Flea Market

Reading Unbearable was definitely not akin to it’s title, although some parts hit close to home (pun intended). The story centers around an aimless, out of work dude named Ben who is living in his girlfriend’s place in New Brunswick, NJ. Ben and his friends chill, play video games, drink beers, and get high, all while he’s NOT looking for employment opportunities – something that royally pisses off his girl Liz.

On a larger scale, whether intentionally or not, writers J.C Luz and Cliff Galbraith bring to life a group of guys who are notoriously “Jersey.” For all the ambitious celebrities and rock stars from New Jersey that I discuss here at The Sexy Armpit, there’s hundreds of unmotivated slackers in this state who talk a lot of shit, but never actually do anything. Kevin Smith wasn’t joking around when he showed us similar characters in Clerks and Mallrats. That wasn’t an exaggeration. It’s not like we’re in the mid-west where a kid with dreams of going to L.A or New York would have to save enough money for a plane ticket before setting out on their quest. We’re merely miles away from the greatest city in the world and we still manage to breed so many slackers. But, that’s not to say we don’t have a high concentration of go-getters, it just makes me wonder why staring at that New York skyline in the distance isn’t igniting even more creative fires. In Luz and Galbraith’s case it wasn’t New York City, but New Brunswick, NJ that set their minds in motion.

There were aspects of the book that reminded me of people who I once knew and some who I still know today. The first issue, while mostly serving as set-up, features our main character in an uncomfortable situation. The dude can’t keep his shit together so I went from rooting for him all the way to thinking “Dude! How could you forget your girlfriend’s BIRTHDAY?” Ben is certainly frustrating, but there’s room for improvement. I doubt he should even entertain trying to win Liz back though, she’s clearly not right for him.

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I haven’t read Galbraith’s Rat Bastard, so I can’t compare, but the art in Unbearable shows hints of The Simpsons and even the short lived late ’90s animated sitcom Mission Hill. At the end of this issue Galbraith reveals that Unbearable was originally planned as a possible TV show for UPN, and it certainly has that TV-type quality to it. The art was fun and the book was not hard to follow. My favorite panel is when, in horror, Ben sees that he has 47 messages from Liz on his phone. We’ve all been there.

So, a directionless crew of bros who drink, smoke pot, and play video games sums up about 45% of New Jersey – guys and girls. It’s sad that not much has changed since the early ’90s, but this is precisely why Unbearable works – it’s familiar. A lack of direction has actually simultaneously opened up a world of possibilities for Ben and his friends. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

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**The New Jersey references were a bonus for me since I obviously love NJ crap. There were references to The Misfits, a knockoff version of The Court Tavern (The Cork Tavern), and the Englishtown Flea Market.