Friday, July 30, 2010

Thank God This Month Is Over!!!

This had to be one of the worst months I've experienced in I can't tell how long. It was easily the hottest month I have ever experienced in my life and with no AC and several 100+ degree weather it ended up being torture, man.

The Mets, My team lost a slew of games including one I attended live. Their west coast trip was a nightmare rendered worse by the fact I would wake up finding out they lost again.

The one day I decide to go to the shore, I get a ticket at a police checkpoint because I hadn't got my car re-inspected in due time. That was because I was hoping my "check engine" light would go off long enough for me to get it re-inspected. It never happened so there you are. It cost me 1500 dollars to fix what is basically an engine that works fine but emits a little too much smoke.

My social life was dull. I stayed inside most of my non working time and was unable to get anything going outside of myself. I was a virtual recluse. My artwork suffered. I find it hard to draw covered with sweat.

So other than the times I spent with my family particularly my nephew Sean, It's a month to forget and I look forward to a better month in August.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Appreciation of John Callahan

John Callahan died the other day.

Who was John Callahan?

He was a cartoonist who was published in various alternative weeklies starting in the 80s. He had a dark sense of humor with his work. He poked fun at anything he could with the most acidic sense of humor. His cartoons could be tasteless, insensitive, blasphemous, sexist and borderline racist but almost always funny.

He had a rough style of rendering brought about by the fact he was a near quadriplegic due to a drunk driving car accident he was in when he was 21. He wasn't driving but he drank so much He didn't know the severity of his injuries. After a few lost years, He went back to his cartoonist interests and developed his style using his hands clasped together and took the alternative comic scene of the early 90s by storm.

He wrote an autobiography complete with pictures called "Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot: The Autobiography of a Dangerous Man" is a fantastically funny read. He was able to laugh at himself about his handicapped situation, His upbringing and his outlook on life.

Of course when he made fun of the handicapped, He outraged many people. But he was an equal opportunity offender. He outraged anybody and everybody which for me as a free speech liberal was refreshing. No cows were sacred.

Even snowmen.

I wish I hadn't lost touch with his recent work and I have seen that he had not lost his edge when I checked it out when he died.

These are only a few of his cartoons. RIP John Callahan.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Myth of Summer (A Long Winded Rant)

I wonder why I look forward to summer every year. Summer is about halfway over and I haven't enjoyed it one bit. Summer 2010 has been an extra bummer in many ways. Now when I was a kid summers were cool, No School, Family vacations and what have you. It seemed like endless activity. But When I was an adult, Summer hasn't been special, Or at least no more special than the other seasons. I think the last summer I really enjoyed was in 1983. I was 16.

The summer of 2010 has made me realize how I just can't seem to figure out how to enjoy it, Yet it seems that I may be in the minority on my inability. Still, The weather has been awful. Way too hot, Way too humid to enjoy my normal activity. Sometimes it seems too extreme to even go outside at times. Even my first trip to the beach this year was a bummer.

I guess the major reason I don't enjoy summers is that I have to work. Other than delivering papers, 1983 was the last summer in which a job (Or looking for a job) didn't interfere with my fun. The day was mine to enjoy and I made the most of it. I had nearby neighbors who used to enjoy playing baseball in the dead end street around the block from me, I enjoyed my strenuous bike rides to nearby Chester to pick up my comics and I just went about the neighborhood looking for activities.

Starting when I was 17, Work took much of my time but that was offset by the first summer in which I could drive. That minor bit of freedom allowed for me to explore towns too far to get to by bike. It was also the first summer in which I was able to skip church on Sundays. Work made for a convenient excuse for me to go wandering around the local towns instead of going to church.

I did have a good summer in 1985 after I graduated high school. It involved mostly going to parties. I was denied this before I had my job and use of a car. But it wasn't a "summery" thing. No pool parties, No beach runs other than a post "prom I didn't go to trip" to Seaside Heights. However, I did take a trip late in the summer to Ireland which while enjoyable it too was not really summery. It would be the last vacation I'd take for many years. I then broke my ankle at Action Park right before I went to SVA. Couldn't work after that.

The summers during my art school years usually involved full-time unpleasant jobs to pay but there were some highlights:

The summer of 1986 involved following the Mets while I worked swing shift at a Nursing Home. It was fun to listen to what was a angst free regular season of multiple wins. the rest of the time I grew fat.

The summer of 1987 did feature the best 4th of July weekend of my life. And it was spent in Orange County New York (of all places) at my friends place. It was made extra Great by the fact a rift I had with another friend was healed. A few trips to the shore made it a half decent summer.

The summer of 1988 had a great 4th of July party my parents hosted, Not much else happened though.

The summer of 1989 occurred after I graduated SVA. A transitional year I screwed up. It ended with my pioneering move to Jersey City, Taking on THREE jobs including working for my Dad. Probably the summer I worked more than any other summer of my life and thus denying me summer fun.

I don't remember 1990 but 1991 was when I made the decision to move to Seattle. I traveled up and down the west coast and avoided the ugly Augusts of the east coast. Heck, it was actually cold in San Francisco! I met a lot of people along the way but it was fleeting, Nothing that lasted. But the vacation was tempered by the fact I had to Get a place, Get a job and figure out what I was going to do with my life.

The summer of 1992 started with a nasty breakup involving cheating with a friend of mine. This meant that I had to sever ties with everyone I was friends with at the time in Seattle. A lot of soul searching, A lot of bike riding, Several flings and ironically the best tan I ever had almost made up for it. But it was a lonely summer.

The summer of 1993 started with being laid off from a sleazy night club called Celebrity and dealing with my first bout of forced unemployment. It lasted beyond the summer in which I spent a lot of time with fruitless pursuits of jobs, Even jobs "beneath" my stature. I gained weight, Hung out with people who had such a effed up living situation.

The summer of 1994 I had moved to Federal Way, WA. Yuck. I had a girlfriend who I moved in with, Lost another job I held for less than 6 months, Cobain blew his brains out in spring, OJ took up all the headlines, Baseball season was canceled, I took on a a crappy job to get by, A summer to forget.

The summer of 1995 was better. I still had that crappy job but I had a second job doing caricatures for Guinness that enabled me to travel all around the Puget Sound. It was fun, I saw some great places and met some interesting people. the Mariners went on their playoff run and the city was alive. Still no summer vacation to speak of.

The summer of 1996 was highlighted by a trip to the east coast to my brother's great wedding, My cousin's almost great wedding and a fun camping trip with my friends. I guess it counts as a vacation but I was depressed at losing yet another job and gaining so much weight that I never feature pics from my brother's wedding anywhere.

Don't remember anything about 1997 or 1998 but 1999 was memorable for all the wrong reasons. It started off well, I finally proposed to my girlfriend of 5 1/2 years and used the summer to celebrate. I was ignorant on what was going behind the scenes however. One party with her co-workers ended with me in a heated argument with a racist friend of the host over racism and manners. Whoops! Liquid courage can be a bitch! I walked out of the party and headed down the road. the problem is that the party was 35 miles from home and my fiance stayed behind at the party. IT turns out she was already in a new relationship and when we finally saw each other the next day, we were finished.

The year Two Thousannnnddddddd was miserable but the summer was made interesting by the most dysfunctional relationship I ever had. From roughly Memorial Day through Labor Day I had my rebound relationship with someone who was really weird but who I was attracted to. It's unfair to pin the dysfunction on her. She merely had rules for potential partners that I definitely did not live up to. Physically the relationship was great, Emotionally we were not right for each other. I guess we were lonely. I was STILL getting over the breakup with my fiance and I made this other woman's life stressful with my whining about updated information on what was going on with my ex. It came to a head on Labor Day and finally I was able to muster up the courage to tell this woman I would not continue to wreck her life. She reacted like a heroin junkie who was being told that she would get no more heroin. It was the first time I ever broke up with a woman. Truly the idea that I hope she is doing well ten years later, Better than me I hope. It's not an empty platitude.

The summers of 2001 was mostly memorable due to the Seattle Mariners dominant run for 116 wins, The joy of that was ruined by 9-11 and being excoriated by my aunt for rooting for the Mariners against the New York Yankees because of it.

The summer of 2002 I worked at a restaurant right near the baseball and nearly completed football stadium. It was a fun summer even though I worked a lot. I made lots of money and hung out a lot with co-workers.

2003 and 2004, Not much happened summer wise. No vacations. I did visit my folks once at their new place and went to Seaside Heights a few times. The first time I went to the Jersey shore in more than a decade.

2005 was when I made the decision to move back to Jersey. I was in a relationship with a young woman for about half a year when she moved back to Jersey. I missed her enough to make that decision to move back to Jersey myself. The summer was spent saying goodbye to Seattle, Hello to the red states of America and hello once again to the state I grew up. It was fun going to the beach while I was still not working but like in 1991 I was stressed with the task of looking for work and the stress was compounded by the fact I needed a better job than restaurant work to survive in Jersey.

The summer of 2006 was spent looking for a place to live in with my girlfriend in Spring Lake Heights, Working in a fish restaurant in Belmar, Welcoming the birth of my wonderful nephew, and making good use of being close to the beaches. However most of the time on the beach was spent alone because my girlfriend was a bit weird about beach life. She says she loves it but this is more or less how she spends her time there:

Still, It was a much better summer than 2007. It started with My girlfriend walking out of our apartment with 4 months left on the lease she signed. She gave lame reasons for the breakup but I know it was for a reason that she kept hidden. She of course got defensive buy any suggestions I made on what I already knew. Still, I was more upset at the financial pit she put me in than the fact she left. She was even more crazy than my "rebound" relationship of 2000. On Memorial Day I lost yet another restaurant job after I got into an argument with my boss. Meanwhile I had gone into overdrive trying to find a better job, Finding an apartment I could afford and bothering all my long distance friends with my anxiety. I somehow got "bait and switched" into taking a part time job at UPS that was totally unsuitable to a 40 year old, Hard physical labor. However horrible the job was, It enabled me to finagle my way into a desperately needed apartment. Life begins at 40 they say, But I had to really use my willpower to prevent my life from ending at 40.

The summer of 2008 was interesting in that I lived close enough to Sandy Hook to take advantage of their beaches. Including the nude one at Gunnison. A liberating experience that with three days off from my new job at EWR I took advantage of. Gas prices were so high I barely drove. No need. It was not a bad summer, except I had no vacation, No girlfriend.

The summer of 2009 had bad weather early on, It was cold and rainy a lot. I had wanted to move from my teeny tiny apartment to be closer to the airport. since my lease ended in July, Much of my time was used moving.

Which brings me to this year. There's still time to have an enjoyable summer but it doesn't look good. I have no plans for any vacation this year. The weather has been horrible and my current place retains heat and has no practical place to install an AC unit in the room I spend 80% of my time in. The heat and humidity puts fear in my taking any long bike rides. My social life has stalled after looking promising back in May. I'm not close enough to the shore to make use of any post work excursion. NYC is to be avoided in the summer. A trip to Citi-Field was almost marred by the 100 degree weather. Thank God my nephew enjoyed himself at the game. Which brings me to the fast becoming bummer that is the Mets baseball season. WILL YOU GO ON A WINNING RUN ALREADY!!!!! I use baseball as a diversion to any personal angst. You're not doing your job Mets!

Anyway, I prove my point in having a dull summer by the fact I can take up this much time writing about it. I'm not a recluse nor am I a party pooper but sometimes I think that's what other think I am.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Downtown Union Center...

I have been living in Union, New Jersey for about a year now. I moved up from the shore to be closer to work and chose Union mainly because I loved the look of the place I saw. I was looking to move to Millburn or to South Orange but the apartments in Millburn were expensive and subpar. I should have given South Orange a look but felt pressured to take the apartment in Union because the owner lower his price to my level.

The place is very close to my work in an okay neighborhood of well groomed modest houses. I'm close to the downtown area that extols the advantages of shopping there. The problem is, that's a lie or a dated sentiment. Union Center isn't what I call a thriving downtown at the moment. On a six block walk, I count a minimum of 20 empty storefronts, Five of which became empty since I moved to Union. Granted, the economy is still stagnant but it's not a ghetto environment but seems to be at a point of redefining itself.

I think.

Three places have opened up in recent months, Two nail salons and a Pizza place. the pizza place is filling in a need not provided by the 4 other pizza places and the two nail salons fill a need not covered by the other ten nail salons on the six block stretch. The five places that closed were two very old school establishments, A 99 cent store and an unfortunate named burger place called Banana Burger.

So Union Center is at period of transition but a transition to what I dunno. It doesn't look like it will become a hipster/yuppie paradise like Hoboken or Red Bank. Not many singles live in the area. It mostly is a neighborhood of modest bungalows with few apartment buildings.

It's blue collar with a growing Portuguese and Polish immigrant population. Their presence is represented by small grocery stores and bar-b-q places. I do fear an influx of 99 cent type store and an increased presence of offices for lawyers and accountants. I can't expect to have each of the available properties to be filled with places I'd really like to see but it's be nice for at least three places to be a place I would frequent.

As it stands there are only five places in Union Center I go to on a regular basis.

One is Burnett Bar-B-Q II, They are a Portuguese place that makes great grilled chicken.

Two is Stop & Shop supermarket.

Three is Quick Chek where I get my morning coffee.

Four is a Polish owned thrift store with a decent clothes collection at great prices.

Five is a small comic book store I only go to once a month.

So, I don't go to many places in my downtown, I ride my bike to towns like Millburn, South Orange, and Maplewood to go to fun stuff like good movies, better bars, Gourmet Groceries and a better places to eat. So what do I hope would move into the empty spaces of Union?

1.A Brew Pub or at least a pub with a varied craft brew selection. Union center has a few bars, None worth a damn and some pretty damn scary. I'm kind of a yuppie when it comes to my bars. I love good beer and pleasant surroundings that's not too froofroo, Like your average Manhattan old school bar or every other bar in Seattle. I'm not holding my breath waiting for that to happen, I'll stick with the Gaslight Pub in South Orange and O'Connells in Jersey City. It's be nice to be able to drink a lot on a Monday night and stagger home a short distance instead of driving.

2.Another Coffee Shop (Even Starbucks) There's a place called Van Gogh's Ear that is interesting but needs a little competition to make it a better place for good coffee. I would prefer a smaller shop that doesn't have such a full menu.

3.A burger joint. I'm not far from a Five Guys, About a mile but I would like to have one open up closer to me or maybe a Shake Shack or something like that. Hey! How about Red Robin? Also, It's be cool to have a fish fry place.

4.Real Bar-B-Q. An Alabama friend of mine from my fork lift driving days set me straight on what Bar-B-Q really is. What we call Bar-B-Q is actually grilling, That's what the 3 or 4 Bar-B-Q places near me really is. None feature a good BBQ sauce, pulled pork or decent baby back ribs. A place like taht and keeping the southern theme, It be nice if we had a fried chicken place.

5.Any Fast Food Place. The nearby highways are littered with them but the downtown area has none. A Popeyes, Wendy's, Heck even a Burger King would be nice.

6.A Whole Foods Wannabee. South Orange features a great gourmet grocery store called Eden's Gourmet. It's smaller than your typical Super Market but features quality gourmet products. Unlikely to be in downtown Union but I can wish.

7.A Better movie house. the one in downtown Union would be great if it was fixed up better and played better movies.

8.An arcade or a roller rink. I know, How anachronistic. I just find it funny that a roller rink can't survive due to high liability insurance rates but at the same time skateboard parks are opening up all over the place at tax payers expense no less!

9.Art galleries. Only so I can demand some culture.

I only plan on spending one more year in Union so I won't be around long enough to see any of the things on my wish list open up. After that I plan on moving back to Seattle or if I have a reason to stay here in Jersey I'll look to move to Jersey City since that's wher the action is at.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

King George...

I hate the Yankees. I make no bones about it. They were too corporate, Too buttoned down, Too patriarchal. I rooted for two teams growing up, The New York Mets and whoever played the Yankees. Most of what I hate about the Yankees is because of one man. That man was George Steinbrenner.

Why? Because he did whatever he could to make sure that hated Yankees team won. As a Mets fan that was hard to deal with when I was in grammar school and for most of my adult years except for a brief period of time in the late 80s.

I became a Mets fan sometime in 1973 when I was 6 years old. That was the year the Mets were in their second World Series in less than 5 years. They were setting records with baseball attendance in NYC. They were in a modern stadium near the Flushing waterfront. They had a great pitching core that looked like it would be intact for years to come.

Meanwhile in the Bronx, a mismanaged Yankees team was sold to a shipping heir from Cleveland named George Steinbrenner. In 1973, the Yankees were definitely second rate. Their stadium was old, Located in a borough of a city going through very tough times. They were going through their longest post season drought since they changed their name from the Highlanders. A mere 8.8 million dollars was needed to purchase the team from the CBS Media group. Think that might have been a good investment?

Anyway, One of the first priorities Steinbrenner put on the table was to renovate the aging Yankee Stadium to 70's state of the art standards. Second of all, He wanted to build a winning team by any means possible. During the early 70s the most notable trade involving the Yankees was the families of pitcher Fritz Peterson switching places with fellow pitcher Mike Kekich. George made some good trades but a new opportunity came along in 1975 which made building a winning team easier if you were willing to pay for it.

Free Agency reared its head in 1974. Baseball players challenged the idea of being property of a team as long as the team deemed fit. If you don't like it, tough. Players can be great have a terrific season like Ralph Kiner and get a pay cut because their team could lose 113 games without him. Free Agency allowed for players to sign with another team usually the highest bidder. Steinbrenner was one of the few owners who embraced this opportunity. Most owners including the Mets owners resented players who became free agents or looked to get long term contracts over threats of being a free agent.

Not George. He signed players like Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield and others to generous, expensive,(at the time) contracts that gave the Yankees two World Series titles, four AL pennants and 5 National League East titles in 6 years. He also made offers for players on teams they payed in post season. Players like Don Gullet, Tommy John, and Steve Sax.

Success came at a price. The Yankees of the late 70s and early 80s were a volatile bunch of personalities in which Steinbrenner was right in the middle of. Strong personalities like Thurman Munson, Graig Nettles, Reggie Jackson, and most of all Billy Martin the Yankees manager. The dark side of George Steinbrenner came out. He was a meddler, A "hands on" owner who fired and hired managers left and right. From 1973 until 1991 he:

Hired/Fired Bill Virdon

Hired/Fired Billy Martin

Hired/Fired Bob Lemon

Hired/Fired Billy Martin (again)

Hired/Fired Dick Howser

Hired/Fired Gene Michael

Hired/Fired Bob Lemon (again)

Hired/Fired Gene Michael (again)

Hired/Fired Clyde King

Hired/Fired Billy Martin (Third time)

Hired/Fired Yogi Berra

Hired/Fired Billy Martin (Fourth Time)

Hired/Fired Lou Pinella

Hired/Fired Billy Martin (Fifth Time!)

Hired/Fired Lou Pinella (again)

Hired/Fired Dallas Green

Hired/Fired Bucky Dent

Hired/Fired Stump Merrill

Steinbrenner wanted to win at any costs but obviously was impatient. The Yankees brought whatever players they felt they needed to win in the 1980s. In fact the Yankees had the best total winning record in the 80s. Still, They had no World Series titles to show for it. Meanwhile in Queens New Yorkers were embracing the Mets in record numbers. The Mets were building a solid team of home grown players mixed in with a few veterans. Meanwhile the Yankees traded away great prospects like Doug Drabek, Jay Buhner, and Jose Rijo. the 80s ultimately were the decade of the Mets.

Then the 90s came and the fortunes of both teams reversed and for the Yankees it came because of controversy courtesy of King George. Steinbrenner was upset at losing the 1981 World Series to the Dodgers and he blamed it on his highly paid outfielder Dave Winfield. Winfield signed a ten year contract that Steinbrenner was trying to figure out how to get rid of, He was looking for dirt on Winfield and had paid gambler Howard Spira to blackmail Dave Winfield. This led to Steinbrenner being banned from baseball operations of the Yankees.

The lack of meddling led to a stable management of the team. Buck Sholwalter became the first Yankee manager to manage more than three years in a row under Steinbrenner. Their farm system was replenished with future superstars like Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettite, Bernie Williams, and Jorge Posada. By the time George Steinbrenner came back after some very lean years, The Yankees had a solid core of home grown players.

In 1995, after not appearing in the playoffs for 14 years, The Yankees got a wild card spot by the fluke of having the same record as the Seattle Mariners and the California Angels. The Mariners played the Angels in the a one off playoff game and whoever won, Won the American league west and who lost went home. And for some reason the Mariners played the Yankees in the American League Wild Card playoff in a best of 5 series. The Yankees came out strong, winning the first two games at Yankee Stadium only to lose the next three games to the Mariners in Seattle in dramatic fashion.

Ken Griffey Jr. scoring on Edgar Marinez's double remains 15 years later the greatest moment in Mariners history. Let me tell you as a Yankee hater living in Seattle, I got such smug satisfaction seeing George Steinbreners face in the limo leaving the Kingdome.

That smugness was short lived. King George got his revenge. He made a steal of a trade with the Mariners for Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson for two stiffs and the new dynasty was on its way. FOUR World Series in 5 years including the 2000 team who had only the ninth best record in baseball. They beat my Mets of course.

The Yankees looked unbeatable into the 2000s. They beat a 116 game winning Mariners team in 2001 but throughout the decade until 2009, The Yankees had great records but no WS titles. George Steinbrenner was slowly backing out of daily responsibilities and was ailing. A new stadium was built next to the old one and saw yet another World Series thanks to the massive spending the Yankees were able to pay for a mere three missing piece players.

Both long time public address announcer Bob Sheppard and George Steinbrenner die having their favorite team being defending World Champions. Good karma that's for sure.

George Steinbrenner was a rich businessman who ran his operation with an iron fist. However, He paid his workers well, He wasn't cheap, He helped those under his employ when they were in need and gave his customers the best product he can possibly give them. A paradox perhaps but with the exception of a few personality flaws he left MLB a bigger success than it ever was.

Steinbrenner courted the media well, Was able to laugh at himself in commercials and TV Shows, Hosted SNL and was the inspiration for "George Steinbrenner" on Seinfeld.

RIP George. I still hate the Yankees and hope for a period they have a downturn like they had before you owned the team but let me tell ya, You were never dull.

Friday, July 09, 2010


I was highly amused by Michael Kay's rant against Lebron James going to the Heat. Kay called Lebron a loser because he felt Lebron couldn't win in Cleveland nor (Kay's preferred) Knicks and because he needed to go to a team that had equal caliber players to him in the Heat in order to win an NBA title.

Of course Kay broadcasts baseball games for the Yankees, A team filled with players like A-Rod, Mark Texeria, and C.C. Sabathia, players who came to the Yankees specifically because they weren't confident their abilities were enough to guide their previous teams to win it all.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

I was recently watching "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World" at an art opening with some friends. It was a perennial TV event when we were growing up and a favorite of many of my generation. My friend Joe and I were discussing who is still left alive in the cast. There was a huge all star cast in the movie but since it was made in 1963, Not many people are still alive.

By way of Wikipedia I'll list those that are still alive as of July 8, 2010.

Jonathon Winters
b.1925-played Lennie Pike a furniture mover who tears down a gas station.

Mickey Rooney
b. 1920-played Dingy Bell who was going to Vegas with Buddy Hackett.

Sid Caesar
b.1922-played dentist Melville Crump who teamed up with Edie Adams to destroy a hardware store.

Peter Falk
b. 1927-played a cab driver who teamed up with fellow cab driver Eddie "Rochester" Anderson to find out what the hubbub was all about.

Barrie Chase
b.1933- played Dick Shawn's bikini clad dancing beatnik girlfriend.

John Clarke
b.1932-played a helicopter pilot.

Stan Freberg
b.1926-played a background part as a Deputy Sheriff.

Marvin Kaplan
b.1927-played the co-owner (with Arnold Stang) of the gas station that gets destroyed by Jonathon Winters.

Jerry Lewis
b.1926-made a very brief appearance running over Spenser Tracey's hat.

Nicholas Georgiade b.1933-played a detective at the beginning of the movie with Norman Fell. (updated 2014).

It seems like a decent list but remember the movie had a HUGE cast.

I Envy Scanman Circa 2005...

...because that Scanman didn't own a car.

It's funny, I am more jealous of people who don't have a car and don't need than I ever was of anyone who had a car when I didn't.

I never felt any joy in owning a car. I briefly owned a car when I was a teenager. I got it free but had to pay all the other other expenses and that was pretty substantial even in 1985.

I rarely feel the freedom of car ownership but I sure as hell feel the burden. Insurance, Registration, Gas, and repairs are only part of the obstacles that interfere with any auto pleasure. I know I'm not alone but since I have only owned a car for the last 3 and half years I know what it's like to be spared these expenses when I was living in NYC and Seattle.

Freedom! From most traffic rules, From parking issues, From fat accumulating. Seattle was ideal for a non car owner. Lots of other options at your disposal, including bike friendliness. If I was living in Seattle and had the same job with the same hours I have now I wouldn't need a car.

But I live in Jersey. The joke state. I made the mistake in moving back here because I put my trust in a woman who didn't earn it. After a year or so of getting by without a car, I was thinking that I might need it if I want to expand my options to get a better job than one in town or NYC. My Dad was getting a new car and thought I should have his old one. I was resistant because I was pretty cash poor at the time even for insurance.

It worked to a certain degree. I didn't get the dream job but was able to settle for a decent paying but less enjoyable option. And on the first official day of my job, That car got totaled in an accident that wasn't my fault. I got compensated fairly with a few extra hundred for that matter. But it wasn't enough to buy a decent car so I was out a few thousand dollars. Insurance and gas use increased too.

The car was fine but my commute was an hour and gas in 2008 went up to record levels. Somehow each one of my four tires went flat and two had to be replaced. Within 6 months my clutch went and I was out 1500 dollars. Man I wish I was able to commute but my hours at Newark Airport are insane. I start at 5AM which disallowed commuting by public transportation in Atlantic Highlands.

So I'm stuck with a car that I rather not have, I rarely drive on my days off. I use my bicycle to get around or I take a bus into the city when I feel like doing something fun.

Meanwhile I'm making steady progress in saving enough money in hopes to move back to Seattle. Sure enough anytime I reach a certain amount of money my car ensures that I have some financial setbacks. Insurance increased a lot when I moved closer to my job. I guess they're not fond of the demographics in the nearby towns. soon after moving I kept getting the "check engine" light on. I went two years without it but every time I dealt with it it would pop on soon after getting it "fixed". However, I learned that it would come on and off periodically and I just dealt with it.

Anyway, I'm dealing with it until inspection time came. Another expense I avoided was fixing my windshield. It got dinged by a large stone that came off a truck that I lost track of. the ding became a large crack that didn't interfere with my line of vision.I waited until inspection so when it failed I would get it fixed. More $$$$$$. I got my oil changed then I got my windshield fixed the next day. On the way to getting it fixed the "check engine" light came on and it hasn't come off since. A friend at work who used to work for the motor vehicle bureau ensured me I didn't have to worry about getting reinspected for 6 months. So I waited for any opportunity for the "check engine" light to light off but it never came.

Then I made a mistake in going to the shore. And I made the BIGGER mistake in taking the scenic route through the Fascist town of Sea Bright. Sea Bright is one of those rich towns that likes to set up "cop stops" to hassle people on their way to having fun as a way of making revenue that would involve raising the taxes of the wealthy of the town who somehow are able to claim stretches of beaches as their own.

Well, I was one of several men that had to pull over, the only one who was white. I was the last one to be held because sure enough my rejection sticker was a violation despite my work friend's assurance. $130! That put a damper on my day down the shore.

So anyway, Since I was fair game for the cops, I needed to deal with my car. so I go to my auto store to deal with a situation that needed taken care off, Along with determining what made the "check engine" light keep lighting up. I was quoted on what struts would cost and I figured in the average cost of the three times I came in to fix the "check engine" light situation. Then I doubled it to highball the cost thinking I was secure in what I was gonna pay. Well, I low balled it by a lot. I won't take care of the struts in order to deal with the "check engine" situation and even THAT is costing me hundreds of dollars more than my highball figure.


God, I hate having a car.