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!!

Metal Day in the NJ 11-11-11

“Barry Manilow you better cover your ears…”

In honor of METAL DAY, here are a few items from around the Internet that help illustrate New Jersey’s prominence as one of the most METAL states in America. Check these out! \m/\m/

– I found this classic clip from News 4 New York on YouTube that features interviews with employees and shoppers at Rock n Roll Heaven, a legendary music store in Clark, NJ. Reporter Anna Bond asks the folks in the store about the appeal of heavy metal with the underlying spin of metal being “the devil’s music.” The nightly news hasn’t changed much. Thanks to YouTube user playmobilfriends for posting the video!

– Read Newark Metal Music Examiner writer Scott Boutsikaris’ memories of Rock n Roll Heaven record store!

– Back in January 2009, the website Metal Injection did an awesome post on The State of METAL music in New Jersey. Some of the most popular metal bands from the Garden State are discussed in the article including The Dillinger Escape Plan, God Forbid, Monster Magnet, Overkill, and they also included The Misfits for their far reaching influence over rock and metal.

– Also, keep on the lookout for young and relentless NJ metal heads Rapid Fire: http://www.reverbnation.com/rapidxfire

15 Bon Jovi Songs That Won’t Turn You Into a Pussy

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When We Were Beautiful sounds like a coffee table book featuring photographs comparing and contrasting female senior citizens with glamorous photos of them from 50 years earlier. When I first heard that Phil Griffin ‘s Bon Jovi documentary, that recently premiered at the Tribeca film festival, and the upcoming book with the same name (slated for Fall ’09 through Harper Collins), was to be called “When We Were Beautiful,” I seriously almost puked.

In case the folks at Harper Collins read this, here are a few of my top choices for new titles for the book:

1) When We Were Ballsier
2) Back When We Had Some Degree of BALLS!
3) When We Were a Band Who Wouldn’t Ever in a Million Years Think of Releasing a Book With a Name as Ghey as “When We Were Beautiful”
4) This Left Never Felt Right in Any Way Shape or Form, You Know What, As a Matter of Fact, Just Stop Making Turns Altogether!

Combining such a weak book title with albums like Lost Highway, Bon Jovi has certified that the band they were in the ’80s has officially been put to rest. I’m constantly hoping, secretly of course, that Bon Jovi will finally return to their rock roots and unleash an album for guys. Songs like “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “You Give Love a Bad Name” are songs that guys could rock out to because they’re bold and written from a guys point of view.

Age 4 through age 9, I prided myself on being a Bon Jovi fan, along with other rock bands like KISS, Motley, GNR and Poison. It was OK to like Bon Jovi even if you were a guy, in fact, being from Jersey even gave you street cred by association. For the past 15 years or so, that hasn’t been the case, even though Bon Jovi has enjoyed continued success from hit singles to blockbuster tours. Unfortunately, now, all they do is coddle their 40-something female fans dying to jump some Jovi ass. Sometime around 1992, every guy who liked Bon Jovi started to get persecuted for being a fan. Some blame the onslaught of Grunge, but after years of contemplation, I could tell you that Jon Bon Jovi is to blame for the whole problem.

If Jon Bon Jovi was born just a little bit uglier, oh say…more Lemmy looking, we MALE Jovi fans would have our freakin’ Jersey ROCK back. Once JBJ realized that the key to his goldmine was singing songs to wives, fiances, daughters, and girlfriends all around the world, his musical mission became melting hearts and not our faces. Dude’s 47 and women still have coronaries when he hits the stage. Dude does spirit fingers and women go into cardiac arrest. Important tip for guys: don’t do spirit fingers…ever…it won’t work for you. Unless you’ve sold 120 million albums worldwide and have appeared on Oprah, girls will not like it if you do spirit fingers. Dude kisses random women in the audience while their husbands stand beside them, faces glowing with a shit-eating grin. How many guys’ wives can you go up to, grasp their arms, and plant a nice big kiss on without their psycho hubby’s attempting manslaughter on you? Jon Bon Jovi can do that kind of shit.

Picture it: The summer is here. You’re cruising around town in your newly washed car. The light turns red, you have to stop. Your music is blasting, but wait! Oh shit! Your windows are down! You can’t let anyone hear what’s playing on your stereo! Don’t get nervous, you need not worry. Just load this playlist onto your iPod and you’ll be fine. While I can’t guarantee you won’t get made fun of for listening to Bon Jovi, you’ll definitely have less of a chance of being accused of having a vagina by the guy in the monster truck blasting Slayer’s “Angel of Death.” Don’t be afraid to crank up your car stereo because listening to Bon Jovi does not have to be an emasculating experience. – The Sexy Armpit: Helping to Keep the Jovi schmaltz to a minimum.

Click here to check out this playlist on iTunes!

15) King of the Mountain, 7800 Fahrenheit (1985) – This chest pounder will make you feel like you’re on top of the world. “Boss man says, ‘Hey boy, you’ll never be no good’…Tonight’s the night they can’t put you down, no one could.”

14) Hook Me Up, Bounce (2002) – It’s ridiculous that I’m writing a post about Bon Jovi veering too far away from their hard rock roots while critics ravaged Jovi’s half-hearted hard rock comeback album, Bounce. “Hook Me Up” opens with the line “Hello, is there anybody out there?” Not only is this similar to the line that kicks off “We Got It Goin’ On,” from Lost Highway, “Is there anybody out there looking for a party,” but also reminiscent of when Bruce Springsteen begs the question of his listeners “This is Radio Nowhere, is there anybody alive out there?” in the first track of his ’07 album, Magic. The underrated “Hook Me Up,” has a bleak, foreboding quality rarely heard in Jovi songs.

13) Blood on Blood, New Jersey (1988) – By far this is the “Bruciest” Bon Jovi song ever. In the vein of Springsteen and other Jovi songs, “Blood on Blood” tells a story using names and places: “Danny knew this white trash girl, we each threw in a ten, she took us to this cheap motel, and turned us into men.”

12) We Rule the Night, 100,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong (2004) – Thanks to it’s menacing swirl of rising and falling guitar sounds and trancelike drum beats, this reject from ’85 is easily one of the coolest finds on Bon Jovi’s box set of unreleased material, demos, and alternate cuts. The lyrics make the song sound like it could have been on the soundtrack to The Lost Boys or The Warriors: “No one can save you, there’s nothing to say, Deception’s the name of the game” The “Whoa-Oh’s” sound like the precursor to those in “Livin’ On a Prayer.”

11) I Believe, Keep The Faith, (1992) Bon Jovi used to incorporate this song into their concert set lists but has rarely been performed as of late. It’s one of their most hard rocking songs that rises to immense proportions. Lyrically, “You and Me Can Turn a Whisper To a Scream” recalls the title of The Icicle Works’ hit “Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream).”

10) Breakout, Bon Jovi (1984) Back in the day, Bon Jovi wrote songs that were all about being lied to and getting fed up with the deceptive hoebags that they were dating: “Your lies can’t hide what I see, I’m better off on my own.” The band’s mega success and bagging chicks like Diane Lane and Heather Locklear seemed to have squelched their scornful sentiments rather quickly.

9) Social Disease, Slippery When Wet (1986) – “You can’t start a fire without a spark” was ripped straight from Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark” and as eloquent as it is, “She could run the bullet train on 38 Double D’s” sure as hell wasn’t. “Social Disease” is a fun and lively romp about love, sex, and maybe even a PSA about STD’s: “You cant hide when infection starts…”

8) If I Was Your Mother, Keep The Faith (1992) – Possibly the oddest, most f’d up Bon Jovi song ever. If you don’t listen closely you might miss the pussified lyrics because they’re smothered by crunching rhythms and blistering guitars. BJ wonders “Tell me what I got to do, To make my life mean more to you, I could get so close it’s true, If I was your mother.” There are various rumors as to what the message to this song really is, but it just seems to me that Jon’s singing about seeking a deeper, more elusive connection with a woman. Or maybe he’s just being a pansy.

7) Hey God, These Days (1995) – An average guy with a family asks God why he’s making life so tough for him. The music kicks into a tornado of desperation while the lyrics describe family problems, and financial troubles: “Hey God – Tell me what the hell is going on, Seems like all the good shit’s gone” The most awesome aspect of this song is that Bon Jovi can still write songs from the perspective of the regular guy and still make them sound relatable, even though the band is worth millions.

6) In and Out of Love, 7800 Fahrenheit (1985) – I like blasting this one, and I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a good sexual euphemism. Like Jane Lynch motioning perversly with her bagel dog in Role Models, “Shes here to make my night complete.”

5) 99 In The Shade, New Jersey (1988) in the category of carefree summer songs this one wipes the floor with Lost Highway’s “Summertime.” Remember when the band was young and had fun getting into some trouble and had trouble getting out of their spandex pants? Lines like “I got a party in my pocket cause you know I just got paid,” indicated that the possibilities were limitless. The perfect song for looking at girls in bikinis on a sunny day at the Jersey Shore. In comparison, “Summertime” is reserved for the folks relaxing in their retirement community.

4) You Give Love a Bad Name, Slippery When Wet (1986) Just as he is in “Breakout,” Jon is all tied up in those metaphorical chains again in this Jovi classic. I heeded their warning back in ’86, girls promise you heaven, then put you through hell.

3) Wanted Dead or Alive, Slippery When Wet (1986) No other band or singer should ever think of covering the ULTIMATE Bon Jovi song, Chris Daughtry, this means YOU!

2) Roulette, Bon Jovi (1984) – The purest example of what Bon Jovi did best. The driving bassline is accentuated with a gambling analogy. Apparently, banging a woman who’s in a relationship is comparable to placing bets on a roulette wheel. I’m placing all my money on the fact that she’s actually a cheating whore. “You just keep on playin’ when all the bets are down”

1) Raise Your Hands, Slippery When Wet (1986) – No, it’s not the old Sure Deodorant commercial, it’s the most kickass Bon Jovi song EVER MADE, just ask Lone Star and Barf. They had to buy new speakers for the space winnebago after cranking this one. If the heroes of Spaceballs can rock out to it, then it’s good enough for you to BLAST in your super silly smart car. Fun fact from New Jersey to Tokyo: As the song fades out, listen closely for the shout out to Jon’s hometown of Sayreville, NJ.

How I Discovered Music Not By Clicking a Mouse

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Mining through my parents vinyl LP collection was something I did often as a kid. On a summer weekday morning when my parents were working and my sister was yapping on the phone in her room, I’d be gazing in wonderment as I opened a colorful gatefold record sleeve.

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A few of my favorite albums to look at were The Beatles’ Greatest Hits The Red Album 1962-1966, The Blue Album 1967-1970, and the Bee Gee’s Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack, simply because I thought they looked ridiculous (this coming from a kid who at the time thought Brutus Beefcake and Jesse “The Body” Ventura were the epitome of cool.) I was also mesmerized by every other album in their vast collection ranging from Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw to Sinatra and Streisand. I’d also feel remiss if I left out the free Christmas albums they got from the gas stations.

Discovering music in this paleontological way was risky. What if I scratched one of their records? I’d feel terrible and they’d immediately know it was me since I was the only “hi-fi curious” one in the household. In subsequent visits to my parents record collection, which resided in a shelf under the stereo components, I made sure I was extra careful. Once I got the courage to actually put a record on the turntable, I placed the needle ever so gingerly onto the groove of the record. I may have had my first heart attack at that tender young age when I heard the record playing on the wrong speed. After my ears nearly bled, and I almost soiled myself, I was convinced that I ruined their pristine records. Seconds later, I figured out what the problem was.

Once I got the hang of it, playing records became a favorite hobby of mine as a kid, especially when no one was around. Eventually, I inherited my sister’s portable turntable which I would set up on an open area of the floor, plug it in, and lay out my very own collection of 45’s. I used to play Bobby Freeman’s “Betty Lou’s Got a New Pair of Shoes,” and spin around like a maniacal dreidel. Some of these mini records were mine and others were ones that my sister scratched or my father was bored with. I had a nice little collection going even though I padded out the bunch with some book and record sets like my absolute favorites, “Batman: Stacked Cards,” and Masters of the Universe The Power of Point Dread and The Danger at Castle Grayskull.

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I was about 5 or 6 years old when I started to have a major crush on a girl, Stephanie, and that record player really came through for me. My dad had given me a 45 of Ricky Nelson’s version of “The Very Thought of You” from Decca Records that he had since 1964. It’s definitely a testament to Teaneck NJ native Ricky Nelson that a little kid in the early ’80s used to lay on the floor spinning one of Nelson’s singles daydreaming about a girl he had a mind altering crush on. None of my friends at that time would have even known who Ricky Nelson was. I’m sure I would’ve gotten shit for listening to that and being in love with the little girl with dirty blonde hair who paid no attention to me.

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Around the same time, my neighbor Darren always granted me permission to admire his KISS record collection. Was he just being nice or did my incessant requests drive him nuts? The gatefolds of KISS Alive and KISS Alive II both made my senses go into overload. In fact, I remember literally asking the poor guy if I could look at his albums every time I was at his house. He must’ve thought I was out of my mind. In actuality, I was merely admiring the way the album sleeve opened up and featured these outrageously scary and bizarre photos of a larger than life band. Perhaps more enticing to me than those gatefold Alive albums were their albums Kiss, Dressed to Kill, Dynasty, and Creatures of the Night. These are album covers that focus on the band members’ faces which helped acquaint me with each of their “characters.” (The Beatles started this trend with their album “Meet The Beatles.”) I wasn’t old enough to know what multiplication was, but I sure as hell could tell you that Gene Simmons was the “scary one who spits blood.”

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The records I’ve mentioned had much influence in shaping my musical taste. I’ve always had an affinity for bands who have band members with their own distinct appearance. As basic and cliche as it is, it helps greatly in a band’s chance at success. C’mon…everyone had a favorite Spice Girl! One of the most classic cases of this is another gatefold album cover that I used to stare at while listening to their music: Time Peace: The Rascal’s Greatest Hits.
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The album was released in 1968…so what? I was a little kid and the music sounded fresh and rocking to me. All their big ones were on here, including “Good Lovin’,” “How Can I Be Sure,” “It’s Wonderful,” “Groovin’,” “I’ve Been Lonley Too Long,” “Mustang Sally,” and “You Better Run.” What made listening to the album a complete sensory experience was that I could hold the album and stare at the comic strip style cover art that featured each member of the band. I remember wondering to myself “which one of them is singing?” during each song I listened to. It was almost 20 years later and The Rascal’s music sounded upbeat and made me feel like jumping around. What made them even cooler was that I remembered that my mother told me how a couple of members of The Rascals went to her high school and hung out in town before they were famous. (Eddie Brigati and Dino Danelli are both from Jersey.) In Bruce Eder’s All Music.com review of Time Peace, he writes “Arguably the greatest greatest hits album of the ’60s. A White-Soul classic.”

As I write this, it’s the first day of 2009. Vinyl records have since came and went and came back again just for shits (and collectors). I’ve lived through vinyl, cassette tapes, and CD’s…hey does anyone actually BUY CD’s anymore? I know I do. How else am I going to get to know each of the band members and get caught up in their aura? If CD’s are put to death, are actual living breathing bands still going to exist? Will music be made my nameless, invisible spirits? 1-click will bring us the sound. No more setting up a record player or carefully placing the needle down. I’ll never again have to fast forward a cassette tape to my favorite song for what felt like ages. I guess I’ll have to adjust to looking at slow-loading spammed up Myspace band profiles or promotional sites full of annoying bells and whistles. My eyes are straining already. My head is spinning. It’s not delivering me to another world. I’m not mesmerized. I’m definitely not in awe. I don’t really have anything to be curious about.
It’s sad to see the extinction of the process of a young kid discovering music in his own little way. In the next several years will kids discover books through the use of an Amazon Kindle? It just doesn’t sound as adventurous as walking up to the Turnpike bridge and then digging through old books in the air conditioned library on a hot summer day. I still want to discover music in my own way. Maybe I even want to daydream a little and not stare into a computer screen. I don’t look forward to the moment when time brings the official end of CD’s and downloading becomes the only avenue of procuring music. I still want to hold the artwork because it pulled me into another world. I want to open up a gatefold and see what’s inside. There was curiosity. Possibilities. Details. It wasn’t intangible, it wasn’t merely sound. I want to lay on the carpet with my chin in my hands, get hypnotized by the spinning black Decca 45, and imagine what it would be like if she was mine.