Saturday, March 17, 2012

Its a Jersey Thing.....

So When Last we met, I had tackled the Gangland Turf of Detroit and Chicago, and was Headed for the Peace and quiet of my new home state of New Jersey - home of...Big Pickles and Snooki, Teased Hair and Hogies - not in any particular order of course!! Well the first week started off well - nothing out of the ordinary to report - a few misdemeanours I'm sure while driving, but nothing I got pulled over for - I'm yet to have the full driving experience where I am pulled over and forced to produce my Aussie drivers licence...hmm I should really get to the DMV and get my NJ drivers licence soon -I believe my 6 months grace period has long since expired -  but who has the time!  After a slogging good effort, I pulled into Philly for the weekend to spend a couple of days with friends and chill out. Mind you  - I pulled in, but had to get my friend to find a park - which he proceeded to do within 5 minutes of getting into the drivers seat, and something that I had been roaming the streets like a crack dealer for over an hour to no avail...FFS - Have I mentioned that I have a hatred for finding car parks? Perhaps that needs to be its own special blog for another day - I believe it is  Jersey thing not to worry about "tapping" the car in front and behind you when doing a reverse park - its almost mandatory even - just a quick tap each way and OLA - you are snugly parked where no one else would have ever thought a car could have fit - never mind getting out - just tap your way out - Its a Jersey thing...

My Philly Friends - Perhaps they should have warned  me about the turf I was stepping into - a little bit of neighborhood background for a weary traveller - but coming home from Dinner on Friday night, we saw flashing cop lights and like most responsible people, did nothing about it and continued on our way. Next day on the news - - someone was shot at the end of the street - those flashing lights - No Bazinga - it actually happened - not sure if it was a fatality or just a knee capping? Does it matter? Welcome to Philly - home of Cheese steaks, Mob Hits, and Restaurants to die for - the Italian Mob markets just south of Philly are old school and yet draw the new school yuppies, bargain hunters, local foodies and peeps with food stamps to buy their pork - yes that's right - the house of pork has some great cuts of pig - you can even buy a whole, boneless suckling pig with your food stamps - now that is looking after your People right there! God Bless America....
Pork aside - just for a moment anyway,  it was a weekend filled with great things - good friends, great food, gang shootings, a visit to the emergency vet, a trip to the pet store to buy goldfish for an outdoor pond...did i mention we are still on the cusp of winter here people?? But when they sell these cheery looking swimmers for under $3 for 20, then it really seems like an experiment you should do - just to find out how many can live in frigid, arctic like waters - when they are deemed to be tropical dwellers for all intents and purposes..The answer - about half - so far - and that is quite impressive, I actually thought it was not worth naming ANY of them, as by morning, they would all be belly up like the shooting victim the night before, but golly gosh - these "feeders" have some fight in them - most still swimming, and only a couple doing the sideways shuffle...RIP you poor frozen bastards!!

It's been a week since I have been home, so its time to get going, and say good bye to Philly, and Hello Home - currently Hoboken NJ - home of Carlos Bakery, birthplace of Frank Sinatra, and alleged birthplace of baseball. Don't get too cosy home - I leave again tomorrow - so a quick laundry run, download some more trashy shows onto the ipad - current fav is the TV series SHAMELESS - very trashy but hilarious! Monday arrives, and I'm a heading south people - not quite to the Jersey shore - but South of here - through places like Bucks county - where I get lost as the GPS system does not recognize the zip code for this address as it is such a small place - so I spend my mornings roaming the streets until i finally find what i am looking for - Why does this kind of thing always happen to me? Because it can, and so i can entertain you all that's why lol. Wilmington is next on my list - and again, I am lost - because the address i am given is a shopping centre address - no mention that there is a "hidden" staircase a top of a stationery store with a flight or 2 of stairs that will actually deliver me to the place I am headed......these people must think I am a retard - always getting lost - but seriously - some of the places I am going to are very random, and obscure locations and some of them are down right ghetto ganster-ific - and that brings me to my next stop - Richmond, Virginia!


Being a Patricia Cornwall fan, I thought it was a little exciting to be driving past Quantico, FBI headquarters, and home of the "Body Farm" that she discusses in many of her Dr Scarpetta Novels - while that does explain the slight stench I drove past on Highway 95, it does not explain the ghetto grotty Doubletree hotel that I stayed in - nor the smell of fear on my face, when i cross the street in search of cola before settling in to do some work. After 3 blocks of walking, i had been approached by 3 drunks asking for smokes, money or god knows what else - by the 3rd time, i had already decided to get the coke and possible jog back to my room, It was not a surprise to see a fried chicken shop just at the end of the street - I have figured it out now - if the neighborhood is a little dodgy, then i will generally know that by 1 of 2 things - 1 - there will be drunks/hobo's/thugs lurking on corners, or 2 - there will be a Popeye's Chicken store within a 3 block radius of every corner...just saying - This is NOT a Jersey thing - Its a Ghetto Thing, and so far, this theory has proven to be correct every town I have applied it. If you recall my last Ghetto fabulous destination of New Haven - Popeye's chicken right across the road, and thugs 2 blocks down with Walkie talkies...mmm  hmmm - you know it - its gangster for real - just sayin....
The next day, when i get to the office, I am told that the area i stayed in, is on the border of the projects - translation for those not in the know - its crackville pure and simple.... Time to sack my travel agent me thinks... Now just a lazy 7 hour drive in the afternoon and I am home again!

Phew - what a ride - during those 7 hours I proceeded to get given questionable currency by a Pakki guy at the Quik-e-mart - $2 US Bills - which I hadn't seen before, but feared getting shot if I questioned it, so took my change and left without question... I managed to get off the wrong exit when driving through Washington DC - almost made it to Capital Hill - I could see it very clearly - perhaps that may have been why I took the wrong exit - too busy checking out the scenery....











This week I'm home - Hooray!! and In a weeks time, I'm off to Miami, Los Angeles, and Vegas - 2 weeks all up and I'm sure more than 1 blogs worth of content for you all...
Today is St Pats day - I may have to go and get a pint now - its been quite the week!

Happy Travels and Enjoy  :)























Friday, March 2, 2012

Its Chicago or its nothing...
So The last time I posted - I was battening down the hatches and awaiting what was to be a snow Thunderstorm of massive proportions - 6-8 inches they said...Well the last time I was promised that, I ended up divorced as that never delivered either..so needless to say - the snow storm was a massive non event for Chicagans but hey - at least it would be easy to get around with no piles of snow everywhere!
First things first - get rid of my pimpster car - As ghetto Fab as it was, it was also costing a ridiculous $50 a day to park in the windy city - so adios Hot Rod and Foot Falcon here I come :)
In the interests of keeping the economy alive, i did something that I believe I have said in the past that I would never, ever do again - a guided city tour with a bus load of non engrish speaking peeps...and yet - here I was on Saturday morning - getting onto a 56 seater Greyline, where, for the next 4 hours, I would not only hear the monotonous drone of the driver/tour guide Bert, but also the chatter of 20 plus Germans - who were oblivious to the fact that we were at the mercy of Bert - who was trying to be informative about the delights of the Windy town...yet not quite as entertaining as my European Descendants.. With the horror of being stuck for the next 4 hours aside, the tour itself was good in the fact that we got to see most of Chicago - N,S, E and West Side...Word.
It really is a smashing city - perhaps my new favorite place in the US ( not counting Vegas of course ) What is it about Chicago I hear you asking? Well, I'm still not sure, but it is one of those cities that has an electric kind of vibe to it, the moment you arrive. Something in the air even. Coming from New York City, its tough to say you could compare them, but Chicago has something else - something NYC perhaps doesn't - number 1 - probably a couple of million people less would have to be the first thing I noticed - its like NYC's cousin - a small country town compared to the apple - yet enticing enough to want to go out every night and eat at one of the foodie lovers delights - so much to choose from and so little time!! That's the number 2 reason - Food - and good food - its everywhere - every kind, specialties like the deep dish ( aka fondue pot ) pizza, Chicago dogs, Ribs - of course I had to oblige on this one, and Italian and Irish bars as far as the eye can see...Needless to say, I ate my way through the windy streets, and vowed to get back to continue on for my next visit. My place to visit on the next visit is the "Purple Pig" - I really wanted to go here - the menu looks amazing, but I just couldn't face another restaurant eating solo....next time for sure!!
# 3 reason - the buildings are amazing - I especially love the 2 glass brick towers that are a fountain - with pictures of Chicago peeps and a virtual waterfall - its right around the corner from the silver Bean that has become the symbol of Chicago..that and a few pounds of cheese in the pizza...I mean really the pizza was delicious, but to be honest is it really necessary to fill a pizza that is - and lets put all cards on the table and be honest - really its a "cheesecake" of sorts and should be labelled as such..just saying...
Onwards and upwards - time to kick start my gangster life and head to Detroit...home of 8 mile, Crips and Bloods, Madonna's home town, and run down and burnt down houses that I often see on one of my fav shows - COPS...Bad boys what u gunna do...Good lord - why do we have business's in these towns, and shouldn't I have some kind of Kevlar  embroidered uniform to indemnify my employer from death and destruction of their employees???
I am seriously considering taking my second amendment right as a US citizen and bearing arms...Will they let me conceal a dirty harry special I wonder? I have already got the ammo... don't ask don't tell...just know that if I need to - I can defend...



Detroit - after all is said and done, there really wasn't too much to get worried about - it turns out that we had nothing to be concerned about - we flew ( in a driving sense of course ) past the ghetto and landed in a "suburban outskirt " of the town - a humble city called UTICA, so were far away from the gangland wars of the 8 mile...2 trailer park girls - nowhere to be seen :)
Good advice for all of you watching at home from our Car rental person - make sure you check your car prior to leaving the depot and make sure that the tyres are not bald... Why is that we ask - it is not something I would have ever thought to look for when getting a rental - NOT so in Detroit - and here is why...
Apparently the way to get new and Fresh tread on your wheels is to rent a similar car to that of which has similar treads to your Vee-hicle - and rent it for a day - swapping over the tires to your beast and returning the rental with the balding rubber version..hence saving yourself more crack money than you could ever dream of!!  Ingenious - those of you who are in the running for new treads - consider it - it is apparently all the rage in the western world..I have to give the ghetto peeps credit - they are smart people and do really come up with some glorious ways to make a buck...Cant say i would have ever thought of that..WORD and Carry on P Diddy..
It Seems fitting then, that in the middle of gangland, I get a text message from my landlord advising me that there had been an attempt to break in to our apartment building - through the hatch in the roof - back in Jersey!! Not a really great feeling and with flash backs to the Great burglary of 2010 - when my brother and I both slept with either a golf club, or a meat cleaver for at least a week in order to deal with any further intruders that may embark upon the joys that were the Ridge...Again - really?! It must be mentioned that a break in is especially bad when you arrive home same day to realise what has happened, and that peeps who are probably tweaking in the lane way adjacent to your house are not old enough to know what kind of fear they have installed into your sensis - but for it to possibly happen again is just not acceptable - especially since i am out of state and not able to be there, and also - I don't have a meat cleaver to ward off the tweakers... thankfully, the intruder attempt was thwarted by the residents in #5 - top floor and whose apartment actually has direct access to the hatch in the roof - but still it is making me feel like it could be time to move again - perhaps somewhere with a dirty doorman and no roof access?? I will save that for another blog...
Detroit - you were OK - nothing as fabulous as Chicago, and I'm glad to be headed "home" - albeit via Chicago again on a connecting flight...Can someone say almost 5 hour delay in Chicago due to bad weather?!! I hate my life sometimes - the glamor that is flying around all the time is wearing very thin...instead of a 930pm arrival to my own bed , I am not home until 130 am and am cross at the world for everything shit that keeps happening to me...
I forgive and forget the next day, after I make friends with Winston - a 5 foot Chinese man with fingers of steel - as he give me a chakra cleansing, deep tissue, knot finding massage that quite possibly changed my world lol - Champion effort Winston, and what a great ending to a week of Gangland, Deep dish Cheese pies and Pimped up rides - Next week, I'm off to the Jersey Shore...I'm sure this will be another adventure not to miss - will have to tease my hair for this one...
Happy travels peeps
Jo