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!

From Mallrats to Miracle World: Monster Mania Adventure Part 3

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Enhancing the ambiance of our departure from Monster Mania was the gray skies, rain, and my fogged up windshield. I couldn’t have asked for a more picturesque day. The sun is nice once in a while, but for this type of weekend, I prefer it to be a horror movie outside. If you’ve been reading along you know there’s a few more stops to make before heading home. Where we’re going we don’t need Google Maps…actually, wait, yes we do. Shit, why did you throw the GPS out the window? Pull over.

It may sound pretty generic, but my first stop was the Cherry Hill Mall. The mall was only a few minutes from Monster Mania so it would’ve been a crime not to stop there. Shannon from Mallrats ™ wouldn’t have any reason to criticize me because I actually did have a very specific shopping agenda. I wasn’t going to buy men’s slacks, nor was I looking to get some junk jewelry and scrunchies from Easy Pickins. Nope, I was there for refreshment of the liquid type. Matt and Ms. X had no clue what the hell I was up to.

I must’ve driven around the entire mall 12 times before I finally settled on a entrance tucked away in a corner. Naturally, this entrance couldn’t have been further from our eventual destination within this “monument of consumerism” (Mallrats ™.) I can’t help myself with the Mallrats references, I’m already getting excited for the sequel.

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For the last several months, I’d been overcome with an insane craving for an Orange Julius. The problem was that there’s no Orange Julius places near me. There’s a Dairy Queen nearby, the company that owns them now, but I really wanted an Orange Julius from a standalone Orange Julius store, is that too much to ask? Getting an Orange Julius from a shop that’s solely a Dairy Queen is like getting a Dole Whip any place that’s not Disney World.

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The mall by me had and Orange Julius for as long as I can remember, but it closed down several years back and millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror. This was devastating and I haven’t been able to indulge in one in a long time. I remember my mallrat days and there wasn’t a mall visit that went by when I didn’t have either an Orange Julius or an ICEE in hand.

Man, things have changed. It seems like all the good shit has to be 5 thousand miles away nowadays (we took quite a trip just to get Ghostbusters donuts the morning they came out), so incorporating the satisfaction of my craving into the MM weekend worked like a charm. And now, behold, the greatest photo you will ever see of an Orange Julius sitting on top of a trash receptacle in Cherry Hill Mall. Its a very specific genre of avant garde photography. I’m presently teaching a lab course on this at The Learning Annex.

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After my tastebuds took part in a delightfully euphoric makeout sesh with that creamy orange goodness, it was onto the next stop, all while obnoxiously sipping an empty cup thinking some extra Julius would magically get sucked up through the straw. It wouldn’t be right if we didn’t make our way to at least one flea market on this trip. After the sad news about The Columbus Flea Market, which we visited last time, I felt that we should drop into another popular Jersey flea market.

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I wonder if Ivannah with the 3rd nipple was doing the psychic readings in that room back there?

Surprisingly, I’ve lived in New Jersey my entire life and had never been to the Collingwood flea market. History was about to change. With the rain, we didn’t get to experience the outdoor vendors, although the inside had old school superhero murals on the wall that had clearly been neglected and covered up over the years. They might have been the most intriguing thing about this place for me.

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We also stopped into a comic shop within the market which sort of reminded me of the vibe of a comic store I used to go to at the old US1 Flea Market.

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From what I saw, the Collingwood market isn’t as eclectic as Englishtown, nor as amazing as Columbus was, yet still a worthwhile stop if you happen to be in the area. #Undertak

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Have you had enough? You can’t tap out just yet, there’s one more detour to make before we get home: Zapp Comics in Manalapan. This was my first time at this shop and it was awesome to see that they offered such a wide selection of new comics, back issues, action figures and collectibles. It’s where Matt picked up Odious Ogre from Dungeons and Dragons. There’s something awesome about a store who has tons of used action figures in plastic Ziploc bags neatly stocking the pegs. Makes them feel brand new, even though they are not MOC or MIP. They are OPP, but not BBD.

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After all this blousing, I mean browsing, we were starving. Turns out that an Orange Julius won’t carry you through all day, so it was time to eat.

But, hell, why not cram in one more thing before we finally shoved food in our bellies. It was my birthday a few days prior and I still had a present to open from Matt. I may have been secretly waiting to open it to extend my birthday weekend that much longer. It wouldn’t be a gift from Dinosaur Dracula unless it was awesomely nostalgic and this took me back to when I was a kid playing Sega Master System on my mini wooden rocking chair.

 photo AlexKiddInMiracleWorldBx_zps3ybwq1pe.jpgBehold, ALEX KIDD in Miracle World. One of my favorite Master System games of all time and Sega’s answer to Super Mario well before Sonic the Hedgehog became synonymous with Sega. Thanks to Matt for the trip down memory lane. Once I’m through posting this I’m going to punch the shit out of rocks with my hysterically giant fist.

Eventually, we decided to eat at a Mexican place called Salsarita’s in Old Bridge. At the time, I had no idea that this was a huge chain. Ordinarily, I make every effort to go to Mom and Pop restaurants because they are usually the hidden gems, but it didn’t matter because I inhaled the food anyway. We were only halfway through our meals and it looked like someone bombed our table with exploding tacos, rice and beans and salsa and chips. It was delicious. The food at this place edges out Chipotle and they also get points for embracing the Mexican cantina atmosphere in contrast with the very basic look of the interior of Chipotle. If you’d like to discuss this in more detail, pick up my new informational pamphlet all about my thoughts on Interior Design in fresh Mexican food chains, it’s called LET’S TALK ABOUT MEX BABY!
You’ve finally made it to the end of our Monster Mania extravaganza. It was quite an elongated account of what really only amounted to the span of Friday night into Saturday afternoon, but reliving it through this post extended the fun even more! Thanks for reading.

The Columbus Chronicle: Part Two

Where were we? Oh yes, we were driving up the New Jersey Turnpike after the Monster Mania convention and decided to make a little detour…

With the record breaking cold temperatures here in New Jersey, reminiscing on one of our warm weather adventures is comforting. We saved the best for last and did our exterior inspection first. The outdoor portion of the Columbus Flea Market is an endless sea of vendor tables. I may be off by one or two, but there must have been 75,000 vendor tables selling everything from knockoff colognes featuring scents like Sweaty Taint and Phys-ed Funk to multicolored belts, statues, and cheap sunglasses. Naturally, we made it our f’n mission to literally walk through every single aisle as if the tables were the hedge maze and we were The Torrances.

Let’s see how much more I can elaborate on the junk at the outdoor tables. We’re talking cheap motorized toys, belts, gaudy sweaters, faux jewelry, generic brands of laundry detergent, and lots of other weird, totally random shit. And then the handbags. Jeezus, ladies and their handbags. If guys were girls they would have one handbag, but girls are girls and they have like 12 and they’re always looking for two more, one for that wedding they have to go to and the other because the ones they have just can’t fit everything. I think I just had a heat stroke. Man it was hot out there.

My body does not handle the sun and heat very well, so we made our way inside to see what treasures awaited us. As we passed through the entrance, Tears for Fears “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” lightly trickled out of the ancient P.A system like a refreshing mist of cool rain.

“…Nothing ever lasts forever…”

The white tile floors, no longer shiny, coated with a decade of dust, forced my eyes to the storefronts that housed all kinds of bizarre bullshit. To the left, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the neglected vending machines, red, encasing charms that now easily exceed their quarter price due to their age. A dollar at least, by today’s eBay standards. Soda machines had the cooler, early ’90s logos. We were in a blissful wonderland, one of the biggest and oldest flea markets in the state and we were having a blast.

You always know the types of stuff that will set off your nerd alerts, but there are also things there that you’d never expect would excite you. For example, I never thought I’d pop so big for Rebecca’s Soft Pretzels, mostly because I barely ever eat pretzels, unless they’re from WaWa and filled with sweet cream, but their menu signage was so damn gigantic, hanging from the drop ceiling like a cumulonimbus cloud made of toasted almond sprinkles, it was hard not to be enticed. I didn’t wind up getting a pretzel, but for some reason Rebecca’s Pretzel’s stuck out in my head. Probably because it was nestled in an offshoot wing of the flea that might have been some sort of Amish haven, if I recall correctly. But, I might be pulling a Brian Williams here, so don’t hold me to that. #WhoopiePies

The reason I go anywhere is if there’s a possibility of seeing or buying old toys, records, or collectibles, because what else is there in life? We immediately zeroed in on one store in particular. I’m sorry Wicker emporium, tablecloth store, Bologna Kitchen, and bedazzled ladies leisure wear shop, you can all go screw.

That Dracula blow mold!! I vant it.

As we continued exploring the shops, there was one store window that had plush toys and giant stuffed animals that looked as if they were manufactured sometime in 1993. If you’ve seen one knock off Lots-a-Lots-a-Leggggggs you’ve seen them all, but, coincidentally, it was another storefront where Jason Voorhees himself brought our Nikes to a screeching halt. “15% off marked toys,” read a homemade cardboard sign laying underneath Grover and Scooby. Yuuup! It was a collectible shop and we were heading inside in full force.

What did we do next? Dove right into this ginormous mess of CRAP, some call it treasure. In this case, it was like a collector’s neglected musty basement where stuff was thrown in every corner. There was absolutely zero organization and no logic to where items were tossed. Put it this way, if you were a contestant on Finders Keepers and had to find a baseball buried in this store, you’d be completely fucked.

It was impossible to process the magnitude of stuff that was stacked, scattered, hanging, and buried around this shop. Paint the picture in your mind of the following items in complete disarray: old magazines, records, statues, loose toys, playsets, sports memorabilia, autographs, mint in box and carded Star Wars and Wrestling toys, masks, ride-on toys, Cabbage Patch Kids, the list goes on and on. Really, none of it was in the best condition, but if there was one specific item that you were looking for, and they happened to have it, you’d be one happy camper.

This lack of organization was like anarchy. It can cause an unfathomable amount of anxiety to a collector. Seeing so many collectibles in such shambles agitated me a bit, but I also found some charm in all of it at the same time, since it created a stark contrast to one of those cold, museum-like stores with no personality. Here, it seemed more likely that there was something really amazing buried beneath the debris. Would we find it?

I kept gravitating toward a full wall-sized shelf that was packed with tons of random retro relics (how ya like me now?). The shelves were like the walls of the 53rd precinct and were literally bleeding junk out of each compartment. I needed a closer look.

OWNER: “You can’t go back there”

ME: “I’d like to look at something I want to buy.”

OWNER: “Nobody goes back there, you’ll knock everything over.”

This was a 12-15 foot span of wall shelving set behind another span of lower shelving chock full of stuff that the owner would not allow anyone to inspect. After his warning, a middle aged woman complained to me that she had the same issue with him and she didn’t understand why. Things couldn’t really get more messed up in there anyway. My eyes kept locking in on old Munsters and Gremlins stuff. Much of the stuff was still in its original, worn boxes.

Eventually, I pitched gaining access to the store owner again because there was one thing I wanted to look at further, I can’t remember what it was, but at the time it was screaming for my attention.

ME: “Can I please just go back there for a minute? I promise I won’t touch anything or knock anything over.”

Somehow, I must’ve assured him enough that I wouldn’t mess anything up and persuaded him to let me get in there. It was during all this that Matt was having a moment not too dissimilar to the time when Janosz locked eyes with Vigo, except picture Dino Drac and a 1979 12″ Kenner Alien figure. It was broken, of course. Even though the figure was loose, far from mint, and its leg was removed, the owner explained how Matt could fix it. The ludicrous price tag for such a fixer upper was so not worth it. It was so expensive that Matt wasn’t heartbroken when he had to part with it when we left. Now, if the Alien figure came with a homemade crutch and the broken leg had a cast on it with a fake Sigourney Weaver signature on it, I think Matt may have paid the guy double for it. Further down to the rear of the store you can see the $4,000 dollar Watto, he was out of both of our price ranges too.

Being in this store was both amazing and completely underwhelming at the same time. Then the mood became borderline sad. “The whole store is on sale for $50,000,” the store owner told me.

Smirking, I looked at Matt and we tried desperately to decipher if we both really just heard that. The price was a bit preposterous. He didn’t mean 50k for the actual deed to his space in the flea market, nope, just the garbage inside of it.

I decided to ask him the prices on a few things just to see if he was trying to scam customers. A vintage Cher doll was a “Hundred bucks.” She was loose, had messy hair, and didn’t have the original clothes. The high prices seemed to be a recurring theme in there. We didn’t buy anything.

I’m sorry to do this to you. Talk about an Empire Strikes Back ending.

A few months later, the poor old guy who ran the store died of a sudden heart attack at the flea market one day. I couldn’t help but think the guy may have been trying to raise money for his own medical bills, or pay some kind of debt, but who knows? Either way, without knowing the specifics and personal situation of the owner, the message I glean from this whole story is that you can literally become buried in your own stuff, and it can weigh you down and cause anxiety. So, why not open a shop and sell all your shit immediately for 50 grand?

Fast forward to November 2014. News broke that a large portion of the indoor part of the Columbus flea market burned to the ground, well at least the majority of the building did. I was shocked. What’s crazier is that I hadn’t heard about any of this until last week when a friend at work mentioned it. Most people I talk to knew about the fire, but not the owner of the store.

It’s been a few months since the fire, and we’re mere weeks away from the next Monster Mania, so there doesn’t seem to be a more appropriate time to reminisce. Looking back, not jumping right away to post a blog and pictures from this trip was probably for the best. It’s given me the chance now to look back on this place and the quirky memories of the day we spent there.

If you’re a collector or just like to go to weird junk places, they sort of all bleed together in your mind after being to so many of them, but this one definitely stands out, not for the bizarre toy den, but more for the PIZZA. Ahh, see, for a second you thought this post was booked to be the most grim in Sexy Armpit history, but, nope, I have other plans.

You’ve heard the old quote about how all pizza is good pizza, and even bad pizza is good because it’s still pizza, right? Unless we’re talking certain kinds of frozen pizza, that statement always rings true.

Inside the Columbus flea market we sat ourselves down at the stools of a large rectangular bar that served pizza. We were lured into Pete’s Pizza because it smelled amazing and the sign was glorious. Their mascot was like a cross between Little Caesar and Frenchy Martin. It was one of the best pizza places ever. Why? Well, a lot of it had to do with the lady behind the counter being so attentive to us, and of course, the pizza was delicious, but what cemented this honor was their choice of dinnerware. Our pizza was served on Happy 5th Birthday paper plates! This is the only thing that can help you forget about the death, disorder, and fiery madness that you’ve had to endure in this post. Happy 5th Birthday!

The Columbus Chronicle: Part One

I fear that if I described a place as “a time warp,” it wouldn’t be as impactful as it once was. I find myself using the comparison fairly often due to various trips to old dingy antique stores or crappy flea markets that all look like they stopped operating legally in the mid ’80s. These are usually my favorite spots. To me and friends like Dinosaur Dracula it’s become commonplace to find ourselves at a hotel, store, carnival, or Christmas display that has been preserved somewhere in time. Same as it ever was…

There’s opposing ideas at work here. It’s quite astonishing that there’s such a newness to old places we’ve never set foot in that simultaneously feel so familiar, as if we have been there a hundred times.

For us, the thrill has not disappeared.

Often though, the thrill in question doesn’t inject my spirit with enough juice to immediately compel me to memorialize it on my blog, at least until the right time.

Whenever I feel like I’m building up some really decent motivation with a steady pace of blog updates, I get knocked off the ladder. Whether it’s a job situation, an issue with my condo, or just plain physical fatigue, publishing a blog post that summarizes in detail how there’s one line of dialogue in an obscure movie where they mentioned a random town in New Jersey is not even in the top 10 on my to-do list. I certainly wish it could be, but you know how it is sometimes. These occasions seem to pop up more and more as time goes on. In fact, one of them happened last summer.

We visited a really cool place and here I am writing about it 6 months later.

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The aftermath of one of our Monster Mania con trips is the stuff of shame. You may have thought I was gonna go with “the stuff of legend,” but, embarrassment, blurry memories, foul language, obnoxious behavior, late night wandering, later night second wind drinking, surreal elevator rides, absurd verbal exchanges with complete strangers, are much more accurate. All of it builds to an extra long car ride home that seriously makes me contemplate what I’m doing with my life. But, fortunately, we had Tequila.

After a night of nostalgia, chaos, and noise, we (Freddy in Space, Dinosaur Dracula, the ladies, and myself) got very little sleep. At some point in the night, at least a couple of us were involuntarily cemented into the same position we’d been in moments before falling into our little mini comas, some of us with our faces set in that weird about to say something look. It was a sight to behold. It’s like that scene when all the citizens of Oz turned to stone in Return to Oz. It was bleak and somewhat horrifying.

The next morning, we were dragging ass. For some reason, the TV is ALWAYS on and blasting when we wake up, tuned to some poorly produced infomercial for a local car dealership. Once the self loathing surges to record levels, we realized that the sun was out, it was actually a nice day, albeit a few degrees too warm, and blindingly sunny, and that we had to get the fuck out of there as soon as possible.

For the ride home, it was all about the energy drinks and the most random mix of music on my iPod to power us through the drive up the New Jersey Turnpike. “If you wanna go and take a ride wit’ me we three wheelin’ in the fo’ with the green and Dino Drac and Ms. X in the back.”

With the surge of motivation derived from the Red Bulls and 5 Hours that were miraculously keeping our hearts pumping after our Monster con bender, we couldn’t just head home because that would be us tapping out, and defeat was not an option.

It would be an automatic fail if we arrived at home without taking some kind of detour on the way back first. If anything, it breaks up the monotonous drive. And I’m not talking about just rolling into Cracker Barrel with fanny packs engaged, wearing our Zubaz pants either, I said, “Let’s go to one of the most famous flea markets in the entire tri-state area.” I said it exactly like that too, as if I was in a local TV commercial for the place with the owners niece holding a balloon as his Guido cousin touted the 3000+ vendors and the 56 dining options including pretzels and meat sandwiches. “So come down to the Columbus Flea Market, Route 206 in Columbus New Jersey!” That ad probably ran right just before the car dealership infomercial on TV that prompted me to rise like The Undertaker from my temporary departure from consciousness earlier that morning.

In hopes of finding some dumb old toys, we all unanimously opted in for the flea market. After all, nothing cures a hangover quite like dusty old records, military supplies, and crates full of paint-chipped action figures.

Known as one of the oldest and biggest flea markets in the area, The Columbus Flea Market made us feel like we literally entered a time warp. Interest gauge: Piqued. Mood meter: pinned in the red. Who needs to be whisked away to beautiful Waikiki when you can can be abruptly hauled back to a flea market circa 1990? That rhyme scheme was completely unintentional, but pretty slick.

Unfortunately, it’s right at this point where you’re realizing that all this fluff was just a lead-in to Part Two where we’ll delve into one of the “special” shops we stumbled upon during our exploration of the Columbus Flea Market! Come back to read about it tomorrow!

Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market Yields a Terrifying Trinket!

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Trenton’s Punk Rock Flea Market has endless vendor tables selling everything ranging from original art and toys to random knickknacks and vinyl record collections. On Sunday August 3rd, we were on our way back from Atlantic City for the KISS show and I’m glad we decided to stop into this array of randomness. Read on to see what I came home with!

The PRFM takes place inside the nationally registered historic Roebling Machine Shop, which was built in 1890 and is dusty, sort of decrepit, and chock full of charm. There’s no better place for this type of event, unless there’s another available historic machine shop in New Jersey that’s twice the size and offers air conditioning. Doubt it. It was quite steamy in this place, and the incredible turnout of people only made it feel warmer. I felt like Janosz Poha in Ghosbusters 2, only I was drippingz with sweat, not goo, but judging by the photo below, you can see why we toughed it out.

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Attracting a ton of people into Trenton who may not normally venture into the city, the PRFM has become a hotbed for people to buy and sell STUFF. I had a blast just gazing around at aisles upon aisles of it all… the stuff that is. As enticing as it was, and with Monster Mania coming up in matter of weeks, I promised myself I would keep my purchases to a minimum. Thankfully, I stuck to my guns.

Out of all the old records, posters, jewelry, comics, and toys, the only thing my eyes locked onto was a small Dracula figure. I was mesmerized by it for a few seconds, but instead of being overzealous, I waited on it because I had no idea what I’d find at the rest of the tables. What if I blew my minimal amount of cash on this small Dracula figure and then had nothing left if I ran into the Holy Grail item to end all Punk Rock Flea Markets?

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The Art of Bob Burke!

It was right around this moment that I actually stopped in my tracks as I noticed one table full of glow in the dark canvases of horror art. What really got me was the homemade Halloween 3 TV setup behind their table! Talk about eye candy! My eyes were salivating over all these amazing pieces that were based on everything I like including Joker, Orko, Skeletor, Frankenstein, Fright Night, Dark Helmet, Jack Torrance, The Misfits, and Cobra. Every character and movie I’ve ever liked was here at this table and it was INSANE. Who is this mysterious incandescent artist you ask? His name is Bob Burke and he’s without question one of the coolest artists I’ve ever met.

 My new glowing Halloween 3 art by Bob Burke!

I couldn’t leave without this beautiful Halloween 3 piece. It will be perfect hanging in my place just in time for Halloween and beyond! Check out Bob Burke’s Facebook page and give him a LIKE! and Follow him on Instagram http://instagram.com/bobburkeart

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Without forgetting my little vampire figurine from earlier, I kept him in the back of my mind as we made our way to the rest of the vendor tables. Miss Sexy Armpit picked up an NJ tank top from True Jersey, and she also got me the Jersey Batman T-shirt that I’ve had my eye on for a long time. Thanks to Miss Sexy Armpit for adding to my massive t-shirt collection! I’ll get a lot of wear out of it that’s for sure. True Jersey is a shop that I usually just hand my bank account number over to every time I see them at an event like this. When I pass their setup at Monster Mania I’ll have to put my head down and move along or else I’ll go bankrupt!

At this point we were getting a little antsy from the heat and we needed some food. Headed toward the front, I navigated over to the vendor that had the little old vampire guy. He was still there waiting for me. I inspected him further and noticed he was dusty, and far from mint condition. I also saw that he had a button and a battery compartment in the bottom, but he wasn’t working. “How much for this?” I asked the young girl behind the table. “I’m asking $10.” Seemed a bit steep of a price for a small figure with dead batteries that was in shabby condition, yet I had exactly $10 dollars left. Typically, I would’ve asked to go a little bit lower, and the girl even offered to go lower, but with two fives in my hand, I just felt it was meant to be. I exchanged the cash for the Drac and we swiftly made our way toward the exit.

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from Instagram.com/sexyarmpit

Just before leaving, I ran into Robert Bruce who you may know from AMC’s Comic Book Men. I busted his chops because he still has my heli-pad from my Kenner Hall of Justice that I got from him a while back. While bullshitting, he gave me the inside scoop that, the week before, Comic Book Men had been filming a show guest starring KISS when they were in the area playing a show at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, NJ. Shh…exclusive info for the 4th season!

There were about 5 or 6 different food trucks and the lines for each one were pretty intense. We got tired of waiting, and it was hot and humid out, so Miss Sexy Armpit suggested we try this little restaurant adjacent to the machine shop. Our impatient asses walked a few steps over to Mario’s Bar & Grill. Despite missing out on the food truck cuisine, we went home happy and with full stomachs.

There were some Mexican entrees featured in the menu, and although I didn’t see them listed I asked the waitress if they had empanadas. She said they aren’t on the menu, but they could certainly make them for me. So the secret super special unlisted empanadas were a GO! They were delicious and the entire bill for the both of us cost less than $20 dollars.

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Photo on the Left from eBay and photo on the right via Monster In My Pocket Wikia

Immediately after getting back home I had to consult with eBay and a Google image search to find out more about this unusually creepy looking Dracula figure. Most likely, there are many toy crazed maniacs out there who recognized this guy in .2 milliseconds, but I hadn’t the slightest clue what line he was from. The girl who sold it to me mentioned it was a Monster in My Pocket, but I thought that was odd because all I remembered about that line was that the figures were all M.U.S.C.L.E sized and each one was painted a different bright color. This guy was more detailed and had a different look than the Monster in My Pockets that I recall, and those crazy sinister eyes!

My reservations about her accuracy were debunked as soon as the Google Image search results returned (Approximately 0.41 seconds, in case you’re keeping track). He wasn’t Dracula technically, he was simply “Vampire,” and was indeed part of a 1992 offshoot series of Monster in My Pocket called Super Scary Howlers. This series of 4 figures featured Vampire, Wolfman, Swamp Beast, and Monster, each with eerie light up eyes and scary monstrous sounds!

Of course, I wish I had the packaging, but even if I did buy it Mint on Card, I probably would’ve taken it out, no matter how sacrilegious that sounds.

No idea how I missed this one when it was out, but according to at least a couple of sites that I perused, this line has become pretty rare, and a working set is even harder to come by. Presently, there’s a Mint on Card Vampire going for $44 dollars on eBay, which is obviously much more than what I spent on this loose version. Even better, a loose complete set of 4 is selling for $175 U.S dollars on eBay. That said, I’m already looking into financing my Master’s Degree in Ufology based solely off of what I make from selling this guy. Shit, I’m totally not serious about selling him. Way serious about the Ufology though.

This was an unexpectedly cool pickup! If you were wondering, I placed an order for LR batteries on Amazon so I can check to see if this baby works. If it does, he will be my official buddy for the 2014 Halloween season. Keep you posted on Twitter: @sexyarmpit.

Let’s break it down in case there’s a pop quiz. I brought home a glowing piece of Halloween 3 art from my favorite shot in the film, a Batman style Jersey t-shirt, got the inside scoop on an upcoming Comic Book Men episode, and have added a 22-year old light up Vampire figure to my collection. As you can see, the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market was an overwhelming success, and if you can get there, I totally recommend going to the next one!

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!!