Thanks to The_Freak for this week's submission for a blog title. When I told him it was going to be my biggest/longest blog ever, he came up with that. Not counting this little part, I'm bringing 21 paragraphs to you, plus the bottom deals as usual. Hang in there, this is going to be one long ride filled with stories that will hopefully keep you awake.
This is a blog that can go one or two ways. One is that you might actually want to read it in sections and take some breaks. Print it off, take it to the bathroom with you, why not. Either that or you might not even want to read at all since it'll probably be one of the longer blogs I've ever written up, but hopefully you don't take that route. There's so many stories that I think I can do justice with to keep everyone focused though. Before I even begin, this past weekend's roadtrip now ranks as my favorite road trip of all time, beating the Philly ECW trip of 2000 that held the mark before. It's time to open this bad boy up and see how the hicks from West Virginia survived in the big city life of Philly and New York City. Get a pillow and make yourself comfortable, we're going to be a while.
Friday morning at 8:00 is where I begin with the storytelling. All true of course, nothing exaggerated. It wasn't a big crew road trip as we sometimes take, this time it was just Spank and myself. We leave Shinnston behind in our paths for a few days and journey northward. In Fairmont, we make our first pit stop to Cracker Barrel. You can't go wrong with some quality breakfast to begin the day with, it's very underrated. We get to near Gettysburg, PA and make a stop for some food. This is probably 3-4 hours away from home and out of nowhere when I'm in the bathroom, I see some people from our town. What's the chances? They were also going to Philly too, but obviously not for the same reason. For the locals, it was the Pulices. I then leave a message on the phone to mom that I just saw the Pulices and had a decent story about it and I'd call her later. A few minutes later, she calls and thought we had a run-in with the actual police from how I explained it. A good start to the trip.
On the way up, most of it was spent with a DVD popped in. I did the driving and didn't figure I'd be too safe as I drove and watched TV at the same time. Luckily, I didn't get into any fender benders for some reason. Mix that in with big city driving and that's a win in and of itself that I didn't wreck the ride. Along for the ride, we wanted a wrestling DVD to set the scene as we drove into Philly. What was it? For anyone who cares, it was the Rise & Fall of ECW double disc, one of my favorites if you want a nice history on the promotion. That made the ride go way faster and I was glad I brought it along. Much more on ECW later on in the trip, but first I will get the New York side of the trip down first.
The entire trip, we were spot on with timing. We were like chickens with our heads cut off, but made it to all of our destinations on time. I'm not about to be late by moping around slow and same with Spank, we can't stand that. Slow people that aren't responsible enough to be on time and want to screw around, forget that. Not us at all. We stayed right next to all of the Philly pro sports teams' arenas: Lincoln Financial Field (Eagles), Wachovia Center (Sixers/Flyers), and Citizens Bank Park (Phillies). One thing that really bugs me in sports is all of these corporate names for stadiums. I know they want to be recognized, but it just doesn't fit to me. I still call a lot of stadiums by their old names, it's easier to remember than some pointless name.
We throw our bags in the hotel, I put up my away messages on the computer and out the door we go. Gone for the weekend and you expected me to leave the computer at home? No way, I'm too addicted for that to happen. So from Philly, we start our journey to NYC. I left the car at the hotel all week, wasn't about to drive anymore than I had to. I'd just like to see the money we spent on transportation once we were going to all of our places, it was nuts. We didn't know much at all, but decided to ride the Amtrak from Philly to NYC. Bad choice. Why so? We looked online and figured it'd be anywhere from $45-$90 round trip. We figured we'd go that route, even if it was more pricey than the dirty subways. We go to pay for our tickets and it comes up to $87 a piece, one way, doh. Not good at all, but were a few minutes away from one train leaving, so we manned up and went Amtrak. Spank pulled out a quote in line and says "$45 my ass" in relation to what we expected to pay. Then the whole line turns around and are shocked or something since he said that. Like that's a big deal? We knew then and there that it wasn't a crowd of people that we'd be able to have fun with. The train was nice, but nothing worth what we paid. Inside it was mostly rich boy people that seemed so stuck up. We did sit next to this dude from Pittsburgh that I talked to for a bit, but nothing special.
Once we got in the city, it was time to jump off that terrible Amtrak setting and get onto a real sub with people that were alert and not sticking their nose up at you. One thing I noticed about when I go north, especially in New York, people aren't into the random chatter. Down here and especially way down south, it's rare to walk by a random person and for them to at least not say hey, ask you how you're doing, or acknowledge you. It got to the point that we knew it was weirding people out when we'd stir up conversations that we tried to do it as much as possible from that point on to amuse ourselves. I did enjoy the cheap subs there though, you run into some total characters and can pretty much say whatever you want. Despite the fact that we never really had a clue where we were going, we made it to all stops on time. I never have a problem going up to some bum and asking questions. If you don't ask, you won't find out.
It's time for the baseball part of the trip. Citi Field as we got to be in attendance to see the Mets host the Yankees. I've seen my Yanks play before, but never at home. This one wasn't at home either, but I'm getting closer. As far as the look of the stadium, it's very nice. It has a touch of PNC Park, Jacobs Field, and Turner Field all mixed into it. It was definitely different to be in a sold out stadium, it's been a while since that's happened at a baseball game before. You have to remember, we're normally going to Pittsburgh games and the last time we were there, it was lucky to have 15,000 in the crowd, sad. Here, you had the place rocking, the atmosphere is as electric as you have always heard from people who have been to games in New York. On top of that, it was Subway Series time, so it was even more jacked up than usual. Just the chants alone starting from the subways all the way into the stadium with Mets and Yanks fans going back and forth was worth it. It did surprise me how respectable each fanbase was towards the other for the most part. I'm sure it can get heated though. We sat beside this guy who has been to 12 games at Yankee Stadium so far and a few at the New Shea Stadium, so that made it fun. It was probably split in half of which fanbase the people were supporting. Atmosphere wise, PNC Park can't compete at all. Judging the stadium though, PNC Park is still easily the best baseball stadium I've ever been to and I stick to that. The two complaints I had from the New Shea was that the seats are really small (it'd be very brutal being a big dude in these seats) and every 2.3 seconds you'd have a jet blazing right overhead while watching the game. LaGuardia Airport is really close, so you'd get that action and it was fairly annoying. Shawna, I know you're immune to that by now, but it was giving me a headache and then some. Still, worthy to check out a game here, I had a blast.
After the game, it was off to Penn Station to head back towards Philly. We had time to kill, but not a ton. We got there around midnight and had a few options. Amtrak was an option, but they didn't have another ride the opposite way until 3:00 AM. Amtrak wasn't even an option on our radar anyways after that first trip, they can keep transporting the richies, forget those no-personality bums. Another option we had was to catch a metro to Trenton, New Jersey at 12:40. We decided to go walk the streets for a few to see what was up. As I was walking outside, it hit me that we were underneath Madison Square Garden, the mecca. Shows what this hick from WV knows about where he was in NYC. We hung in Midtown Manhattan for only about a half hour, didn't get much time to glance around. It was fun seeing some of the interesting bums and their spiels. One dude in particular was saying, "Dime, nickel, penny.. just a penny, just a penny.." It was like that over and over and over, yet somehow it intrigued us. I wondered then if he'd really act excited if I gave him just one penny. I got some street food too from one of those carts, loaded up on a chicken shish kabob that who knows what kind of meat it actually was. I do know though that it was good dirty food, so I was in for it. Bums were even bugging us for a bite of our chicken. Usually I'm a sucker that hooks bums up every so often, but I didn't on this trip. Spank gave some of his chicken to a dude though, he was pumped.
There wasn't much to report on the chick scene, but you'd see it all. It seemed that for the most part, they all like dressing up in the big city, something that doesn't happen at home much. Some had no business dressing up either, but to each their own. I'm not much about the fancy scene if it's overdone and cheesy, give me laid back any day, I'm easy to please. Girls can dress up nice without looking like clowns. I can see now though how people always say that dudes who look like total dorks can find someone way above their level on the hotness scale in a big city. You don't see it the other way around as much, but I'm sure it happens. One thing I did like as far as the populations overall in both cities is the diversity. Every culture you can think of and it's there. Back home it's fairly boring since the majority is the same, but up there, you can be whoever you want and nobody cares. More on the culture thing later on though when Sunday's report comes around.
It was time to head back to Philly. We jumped on the metro and it was only $12.50 to ride from town to Trenton, New Jersey. You can't beat that with a stick. On the metro we sat beside this older lady who was getting off of work and was heading home. She was really quiet and probably wanted no part of us when we sat by her, but I was at least going to try to get her alive somehow. After a few minutes of her being timid, she opened up a bit and knew we were just two idiots and had no clue on the big city life. She gave us the comment that we get on all road trips, "You're not from around here are you?" and once again, she picks up on the accent. Maybe that put her at ease that the hick accent we bring along gave her some of the southern hospitality feeling. When we got to Trenton, we faced a jam. It was about 2:45 AM and there wasn't another train going to Philly until 7:00 AM. I wasn't about to sit there for 4 hours, especially in this station that had absolutely nothing and it was straight up deserted. Luckily, we found another girl there in the same situation. The only people in the place and she was going our path. She had to be at the airport by 6:00, so the 7:00 train wouldn't do her a bit of good. Our only option was to get a cab and take that route. The chick was down since she didn't have any other ways. You gotta be hard up to ride in a cab with two dudes you've never met in your life and go along with the plan. Total cost of the ride? $125. We split it three ways, but that's insane. It was cool with me though because we had yet another person to ramble on to. This time, there was no escape since we were in the cab all together. She was a weird one, but things worked out fine. In the end, we saved probably 5 hours worth of time before we'd be back into Philly if we waited for the 7:00 train, so chalk up a win there.
One thing and it's no surprise to anyone, is the standard of living up there. I know what you're thinking, I'm coming from the middle of nowhere in West Virginia, so of course it'd be much higher. Another thing that would really bug me would be the lack of free time some of these people have. I'm spoiled in that I'm 15 minutes from where I work. I go there, do my business, come home and that's it. No traffic, no nothing. These people? They're riding trains for hours at a time each way everyday (like the old lady was telling us). I don't care how much money I'd be making, I'm not about to waste several hours of my day just riding around. Time is way too valuable for me to do that. Most of the time I realize I'm not doing anything special, but I still want all of the free time I can get. Back to Philly..
Now it's Saturday and we're at THE reason we made the trip. We were saying the baseball game was just a warmup and it really was. I know that's hard to consider when we just were at a Yanks/Mets game, but just stating the truth. How could the weekend get any better off of that? Well it did, multiplied by about 20. When I tell most people I'm going all the way to Philly to watch wrestling, they look at me like I'm a freak. Maybe I am, but I always say wrestling is a passion of mine and it's a soap opera for guys, it's entertainment. I've been to Philly quite a good bit of times, but the last wrestling trip I made there now ranks as my #2 road trip of all time. That at the time was for ECW CyberSlam 2000, which was an internet convention that had fans from almost every state and a ton of different countries show up. I could write a blog just on how I feel about ECW related things (the original version of course), but I'll try to condense it down to a few paragraphs, although that'll be tough for me to do. It's right up there with my Celtics love, which is saying a lot.
This year's event? Legends of the Arena. At the corner of Swanson and Ritner Streets, it's the infamous ECW Arena in South Philly. It doesn't look like much on the outside, I know, but if you've ever been, you know it is hallowed grounds. The talent that has been in that building over the years and what has gone down is straight up legendary. In my opinion, I'd rather be inside this arena than any sports arena in the world, no joke. To the non-wrestling fans, I know I've lost you, but I'll get you back soon enough, be patient. This show was set up by "The Queen of Extreme" herself, Francine Fournier. A lot of the money into the show went towards the fight against cancer. Last September, Francine lost her father due to pancreatic cancer and then only four days later, her oldest sister passed away from cancer of the bile duct. Then, a month later, another sister of hers found out that she has kidney cancer. She was able to beat that one. Due to that cause, most of the original ECW roster was in attendance for the show. Also, since we were two of 80 to have front row seats at this event, we got some big hookups. What'd the front row price get us? Starting at 1:00 that afternoon, we were able to hang with all of the wrestlers, get pictures, eat with them, walk around everywhere in the arena unattended, be part of a Q&A session with the wrestlers, autographs, and were able to take our chair home which was a commemorative version. The fans not in the first three rows had to wait till the show started. To most people, what we paid to be able to do this might blow your mind, but in my book, you can't put a price on that at all. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Within minutes of being there, we had already received more than our moneys worth and then some. Most have already seen the MySpace and Facebook pics from the trip, but check them out if you're behind everyone else and are bored. I could give story upon story about hanging with each wrestler, but I'd probably be talking to a wall. Write me up one day and ask if you want to know more details on the wrestling side. 95% of these guys are as down to earth as it gets and gave us all the time in the world. You could tell they really wanted to be there, didn't mind getting pics taken with you and were totally professional. We got to hang with everyone there, but some names just to name a few: The Legend Terry Funk, Raven, Sabu, Lil Guido, The Sandman, Al Snow, Rhyno, Spike Dudley, Justin Credible, ECW founder Tod Gordon, and many others. Paul Heyman wasn't at this show, but I've been near his presence before. Heyman has near god-like status to me.
If you've ever been to an ECW show back in the day, you'll know it's the best crowd ever, bar none, no questions asked. I'll match it up against any sporting event, seriously. The baseball crowd on Friday was great, but this is on a completely different level being inside the ECW Arena. The most knowledgeable and respectful wrestling fans there are, yet also the lewdest and crudest as the saying goes as well. If you are a great wrestler, the crowd will let you know and you'll be a hero. If you can't hang, they'll get you out of that arena so fast you won't know what hit you. The chants alone in there are something to behold, stuff that kids need no part of. The event itself, amazing, off the charts good. As a side note before we got into the building, we were in line waiting to get in. That is where we saw the woman from Massachusetts who had the Larry Bird tat in my pics which was one of the greatest tats I've ever seen. I've come a long way on tats lately. I wouldn't get any myself still, but if you're creative enough, you can pull off the look nicely. It's just the ones who aren't creative at all that bug me. Get something different, not what everyone and their brother already has. Just saying, but I don't mind them now too much in most cases. A lot of these people had ECW tattoos all over them and of the wrestlers. Yep, adding to the dork level of the crew I'm associated with, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Speaking of the Larry Bird tat woman, she had an idea that she wanted to slice her head open. She climbs the arena fence that has barbed wire all around it. It's not sanitary at all, but then she takes the wire and starts raking it across her forehead. Blood gushing out, I kid you not. After that, she took singapore cane shots to the head for the fans and got crunched with them. Of course I watched and loved every minute of it since it was so out there. Somehow I only wrote three paragraphs on the ECW part of the trip, but I'll stop now as much as it hurts me to, really it does.
We get back to the hotel and that night a Kenny Chesney concert was at one of the stadiums. I thought I left WV to escape that mess, but apparently it followed us up. It was really weird seeing a bunch of rednecks and big trucks in Philly. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but just the setting was weird to see and I come from an area like that. Not my cup of tea. I'm in hick land and still feel uncomfortable around country music fans for some reason. A lot of them stayed at our hotel and even though most of the chicks were obliterated out of their minds and would have done anything and everything you asked I'm sure, it just wasn't appealing at all to me, so they got a thumbs down on my end. Just being honest about it. It was nice seeing cornhole busted out in the hotel parking lot though, never seen that up north before. Some aspects of the redneck life I can handle and take part in, but never could do a whole lot with country music. Maybe some day.
Whew, I'm running out of breath here. Sunday arrives and that's our day to come back home, but not so fast. For breakfast, we do the "touristy" thing and head off to Geno's Steaks for some cheesesteak action. The night before after the show we tried some dirty mom and pop cheesesteaks and they were pretty good, but I'm still a fan of Geno's even though it's mainstream and not cool to people that are up there a lot I'm sure. We went to Geno's after the ECW show on Saturday and it was so packed it was going to be a 2 hour wait, doh. That's when we decided to get one elsewhere and then go back in the morning. After we tore up some cheesesteaks, it was time to rock it out to see the city. In count, Spank ate 5 cheesesteaks on the trip, 4 in one day, good get man.
We start walking and we're not the lazy type, we'll walk just about anywhere if we have to and not complain. Plus, it gave us more chances to talk to random bums and see what was up. We got to walk through each community and I liked that as much as anything. Little Italy, Chinatown, the hispanic section, and on and on and on. We got to Chinatown and that place was pimped out. We went to an acupuncture place to check out the deal and what they had to offer. We were almost sold, but decided instead on a massage shop. Ironically, the prices here were about the same as in my area, we were pumped for that. This had to be the best massage I've ever had. This little asian woman brought the pain and knew what she was doing. No, not what you're thinking you pervs. She couldn't have been 100 pounds, but she had some force, but more on that place in a bit. Chinatown has some shady places, but we were all about that. A few we walked into that had steps from the streets and would go way down into a little area. How some of these shops stay in business is beyond us. A good bit have to be fronts for another type of business.
After that, we rolled back to the opposite end of town, towards the hotel where the car was at. Just for that stretch alone, we walked over 10 miles and I'm not making that up. We figured we'd get to check out some areas, shop around, and save yet another cab fare to get us to the hotel, we could walk it out. On the way back, we hung out in Little Mexico as I'll call it. Little Italy and Chinatown have names for their areas, but why not this place? I was just rambling on and looking for lucha libre wrestling masks in these shops. In one of the last places I checked, they had a ton of them and I was in heaven. Hey Cali Jas, I'm one step up on you now, it's time for you to get that lucha mask. It still is crazy to me that nobody in your fam is into lucha, a religion in Mexico, but I won't hold that against you, never have. :) I've talked to you about it already since I put the pics up, but you're a blog diehard, so I had to send the props out. Just being a goof, I figured I'd get a few pics in front of a store there and then I kept it on for a good while after that. I was walking through the streets of Philly in a lucha mask and the looks people were giving me as they drove and walked by was worth it alone. The things I do for fun, I'm different, I know.
So after walking 10+ miles, we made it back to the car.. only we had a problem. I was searching around and said that I didn't have my keys. I freaked out for a few minutes. Luckily, I did have a spare in one of my suitcases in the car if we needed to bust in. Then I thought things over and maybe I left the keys at the massage parlor. Ironically, I asked for a card from those people on the way out just because. We call them up and whoa, they have the keys! Now what? For all of that walking we did to save money, we now have to go back in that direction to get the keys. It was Sunday, the stupid soccer game was going on at the time (are Spank and I un-American since we rooted for them to lose to Brazil so we wouldn't have to hear as much soccer talk for a while?), so it was tougher to get a taxi to come get us at the hotel. We were getting impatient when they'd call cabs for us and none would show. Then out of nowhere, this guy drops off his buddy who was a hotel desk guy. Since the cabs weren't coming anytime soon, we run up to this stranger's car and ask him if he wants to make some quick money. Nice way to start the conversation huh? Then we explain that we need a ride to the massage shop and back to the hotel and we'd hook him up. What are our chances he says yes? Sweet, he said yes, he must be bored to death or not sure what else. So we jump in stranger's car and he ended up being a funny dude and wasn't freaked out. He was a big stoner, nothing I condone, but in my opinion, stoners cause no problems for the most part. They're always laid back and aren't all into the aggression. Plus, he was a big rap fan and was jamming away, can't beat that. And an ECW fan too? We found a winner. We made it back safely and the guy was pumped when we hooked him up with some hard earned cash. Now he can go buy some dope with it, good job buddy, but we did appreciate the ride.
Dang, that was a lot of work. Hopefully I did the road trip some justice instead of boring everyone, but we'll find out soon enough. I wrote this up mostly in one sitting and it took ages. Usually I do pieces at a time, but for some reason, I zoned out and just kept typing away. That's why I value my time so much as I wrote earlier. The people in NYC, they might not have enough time to have nothing else to do with their time and write random blogs about living in the middle of nowhere. I didn't really get to tour NYC at all either though except for that short bit, so my answer might be a bit biased, but in my dealings and a final verdict? Philly > NYC.
Bird's Dirty Thug Ho of the Week: This week's submission comes to us from Arizona Jas. Here is what Jas has to say: "whatcha think of her? not that many pics... but some def. quality ones.. well.. lemme see.. if i can find a better one first.. dirtier. cause shes.. actually kind of pretty.. just slut-tastic" I decided to use that one. Plus, the girl says she is "MISZ B THEZ BOYZ JUST WANT ME!!!" and "Your man was not in my plans-his cash was!". Hey, I can't make this stuff up, these are real people. Here we go: http://www.myspace.com/miszb09
Bird's Video Moment of the Week: Of course I'm throwing in an ECW vid in here for history sake. Here's a tribute:
3 Quick Thangs:
1. Weird Fact #1: Mosquitoes are attracted to the color blue twice as much as to any other color.
2. Weird Fact #2: An old law in Bellingham, Washington, made it illegal for a woman to take more than 3 steps backwards while dancing.
3. Over 5200 words in this bad boy. If you made it to the end without hating yourself, you're a champ. Don't expect a novel each week, but that was fun.