Monday, December 20, 2010

My day on the Sports Dividing Line

I stopped at 3 bars yesterday during the Eagles - Giants game. The results of what I saw were as unpredictable as the result of the game itself.

My journey started at the Dublin Square in Bordentown. Then, we went northwest to my hometown of Ewing at the Firkin Tavern. Finally we drove south (through PA) & finished at the 45th Street Pub in Edgewater Park.

First, I have stated here before that Bordentown, in Burlington County is safely Philadelphia sports territory. I still stand by that. If you were to go to Bordentown High School, it would be pretty evident. However, because Routes 206, 130, 295, 195 and the Turnpike all intersect in or near Bordentown and because the town has three great sports pubs right next to each other, these establishments are often filled with many Mercer and Monmouth County people - which means more Giants fans. This was obvious at Dublin Square, where I counted 17 people in New York gear and only 4, including myself, in Philadelphia apparel. There were others there, including the Boston guy, but it gives you the atmosphere.

We then trekked to Ewing in Mercer County, which was 6 - 4 Eagles in terms of apparel. But most of the people were Eagles fans. When the Giants scored to finish out the first half, only those four people (pictured) cheered. It was like a funeral in the bar and was a completely different atmosphere from Bordentown. Even though Ewing is further north, it is kind of isolated along the Delaware River if you look at the roads. All you've really got is the Interstate 95's infamous gap to PA and Route 29 to Trenton and Lambertville. The Firkin was an Eagles bar. The four Giants fans also looked like TCNJ students.

We finished by going 95 South through PA and hitting up Edgewater Park. This was safely Eagles country. There were two loud Giants fans at the bar and that was it. I got some locals to pose for a picture, but this was before the big comeback. They reluctantly agreed, but by the end of the game, we are all hugging and high-fiving each other. It was quite a sight. It was quite a game.
It was quite a fun travel day through the sports dividing line of New Jersey.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Battle of the Bulges: Wawa line moves farther north

The opening of Wawa in Parsippany - Troy Hills this winter makes it Wawa's northernmost New Jersey location. It eclipses Phillipsburg, which previously held the title since 2008.
This has created another bulge in the Wawa map. The problem is there are many people in the middle of these two extensions who are still far from a Wawa, thus making the map somewhat deceiving.

Many, like their non-shaded brethren, are hoagie refugees

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Where in NJ to watch the Eagles at Giants

This Sunday. 1pm. It's the Philadelphia Eagles at the New York Giants.

Most experts predict whoever wins this game will win the NFC East Division title and stamp their ticket to the playoffs. For the other team, they'll likely be looking at the last spot or worse - they'll be out of the playoffs all together.


VS
If we follow the New Jersey sports dividing line, below is a list of some bars that will have divided crowds.

So get out the people watching binoculars, get your jersey, pick your side and enjoy this VERY rare occasion. It's too often the NFL schedules these two opponents at night. While it's great for TV at home; it's not the same at the taverns. This Sunday is going to be special.

Get off the couch and out to one the following places this Sunday.

Warren County



Mercer County



Burlington County




Ocean County/ Monmouth

Plumsted Grill - on border of Cream Ridge/ Plumsted Twp.

Ocean County



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It could happen: HS Winter Classic in NJ

Ice Hockey. New Jersey. Outdoors.

It is something that we rarely picture. But could it happen here?

Possibly.

On Sunday, Paul Bruno of NJ.com thought out loud about
holding a high shool outdoor ice hockey event in the Garden State.

Alliance Hockey photo
It is a rare occurence that allows me to write about two of my passions in the same post. As a kid, I skated on a branch of the Assunpink Creek that went through my parents' property. It rarely freezes over anymore, but in North Jersey, especially the Skylands, they get to lace up skates outdoors quite often. Even parts of the award-winning documentary, Pond Hockey, were filmed farther east - in Bergen County.

But where in the state could a game like this occur?

The coldest place in New Jersey of course - Sussex County. And they have two potential venues that would work.

My first thought would be Skylands Park in Augusta. It is home to the Sussex Skyhawks of the Cam-Am League. If you could get Century Link and other sponsors on board, it would be the perfect venue.
If that doesn't work, I have heard the new owner of Mountain Creek, Eugene Mulvihill, who has a big vision for the resort, could pull it off.

Then, get the New Jersey Devils involved in that Northwest corner that often goes ignored PR-wise (co-owner Jeff Vanderbeek did not stop here on his summer Jersey Tour) and you may have something.

If not high school, make it college teams like Princeton, Seton Hall, William Paterson, Rutgers, Monmouth, Rowan, TCNJ or Rider. Men's and Women's games.

Hot chocolate, revived roasted chestnut stands, a guest announcer like Glenn "Chico" Resch and ice hockey outside - the way it was meant to be played.

New Jersey as a winter sports paradise? Add it to the tourist books.

Monday, November 15, 2010

See Steve's new movie on Thanksgiving & after

Steve's new film, Hockey in the USA - part I, will be screening online starting Thanksgiving Day. It will be screaming for free on the Backyard Hockey website and for a couple weeks thereafter. Please check it out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Friday, August 20, 2010

Uncle Floyd vs. Captain Noah

In New Jersey: the Movie we documented the TV differences in the state.

However, we missed a channel specific divide. We'll call it: the Uncle Floyd - Captain Noah line.

For instance, in North Jersey, most people have very fond memories of Uncle Floyd Vivino.

In the early years of cable, and even on my old antenna TV, we could get The Uncle Floyd show in Mercer County. My father absolutely adored the man; and watching his show became something of a family ritual in our household that would only be rivaled years later by Fox Sunday Nights with The Simpsons and In Living Color.

The years have passed, but when Uncle Floyd announced his run for New Jersey Governor, my dad immediately emailed me from Arizona, where my parents live now, to make sure I considered him as a write-in vote.

Turning the rabbit ears south, in the past, many kids in PA and South Jersey ritualistically turned their TV sets to Captain Noah on their local network affiliates. Captain Noah was more of a children's show compared to Floyd's, and because dad didn't watch this - I really don't have any memories of Captain Noah.


More familiar to me was the musician who scored the show, Larry Ferrari, because he played at the Ewing fireworks every 4th of July. But the Captain's set still lives on at the Please Touch Museum.

However, I do have a clearer Philadelphia/ South Jersey TV family tradition.

Every New Year's Day, our household usually tuned into a Philadelphia affiliate and watched the Mummers parade. Especially since my father was stationed for a time in Philadelphia's Naval Yard, this was a big deal. I even attended a wedding where Mummers dancers were part of the entertainment.
I often wonder if we still lived in our old house today, if our family would watch the Mummers or the Winter Classic.
As for the divide?
Ask someone from North Jersey who Captain Noah was or what the Mummers are, you'll likely be met with blank stares.
Ask someone from South Jersey if they remember Uncle Floyd (even though he was syndicated for a short time on Channel 29). Unless they have a relative up north . . . they probably won't know either.

Don't believe me? Go ask a friend or a colleague now. But make sure they're over 30, or they'll probably have no idea what you're talking about:

It was pretty cool growing up in Mercer County, NJ in the 1980s and 1990s and getting all four network affiliates on basic cable: NBC, ABC, CBS & FOX from New York and Philly. And it probably contributed to this NJ identity complex that I have.

If you grew up in Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Monmouth or Ocean counties, I'd be especially interested to hear your experiences on the Uncle Floyd - Captain Noah Line.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Jersey Regional Food Traditions

The food we eat defines us. In, New Jersey, we already have access to some of the best food in the world due to our diverse demographics. Our pizza & bagels are top notch and our ethnic foods are far reaching. However, there are some areas of NJ where the locals swear by a certain food. In Mounmouth County, it's Windmill Hot Dogs, but next door in Mercer, people barely have heard of them. This lead me to come up with a small map showcasing a local area's culinary chains. I've got 5 so far; what would you add to the list?

In the Trenton area, (besides Pork Roll which we've pointed out enough times), DeLorenzo's Tomatoe Pies, are a tradition.

In Monmouth County (and one in Westfield), you have the aforementioned, Windmill Hot Dogs.

In the River towns along Burlington County, you have Boost! Cola, which is like catnip to young residents there.

In Ocean & Monmouth counties, it's Surf Taco (thanks to John and Lisa for the rec).

And it may be a stretch, but if you went to Rutgers, Grease Trucks, are part of your vocabulary.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Even the Media knows it's an East-West line

New Jersey's hot right now. So hot, we'll be boasting five reality TV shows come summer (take that California and New York). The New York Times even had a recent article on this entitled, "Going to New Jersey to find America."

But when looking at the locations of these reality TV shows - seeing a divide is obvious. Let's call it, "The Media Divide."

In, New Jersey: the Movie, we theorized the cultural dividing line in the state wasn't North or South, but East and West. We drew the line, but also mentioned the historic Keith and Lawrence lines. If you look at a map of the Lawrence Line (giving East Jersey the least amount of land) and where the reality shows are located; they all fall into old East Jersey:

You could argue that this is merely a product of East Jersey's population being much larger. You could say that East Jersey just has more Italian-Americans, which all five shows focus on. And having the Zeitgeist of "Mayberry" with the voltage and excitement of New York City doesn't hurt either.

But as a half-Italian kid growing up on the west side of this line; I always wondered why big media never focused on us. Even looking at fictional shows like, The Sopranos, and oft-forgotten, That's Life and movies like Date Night and Kevin Smith's Jersey trilogy, East Jersey OWNS NJ's media portrayal to America and they always have.

And outside of films focusing on Princeton University, all the West seems to have is Boardwalk Empire - which will most likely have its fair share of New Yorkers anyway.

West Jersey people would most likely say that they would never parade their lives on camera for lowbrow television. Maybe it's the Quaker values . . .

But it begs a question:

Are people in East Jersey just more interesting?

If you had an idea for a West Jersey reality show - what would it be?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Which blogger will win a free DVD?

Since it is the NHL playoffs and New Jersey has been divided by sports again, I wanted to bring to your attention two great sports bloggers both from New Jersey, one of whom writes all things surrounding the New Jersey Devils and the other who writes about the Philadelphia Flyers.

John Fischer of the blog, In Lou We Trust, which is named after New Jersey Devils' General Manager and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Lou Lamoreillo, is from Middlesex County and also a New York Giants fan in addition to pulling for the Devils.

Travis Hughes of Broad Street Hockey, which is named after Broad Street in Philadelphia, as well as the Broad Street Bullies, is a total Philly sports fan, even listing the expansion Philadelphia Union of the MLS as a favorite of his.
They write for the grassroots fan network, SB Nation and when I tell you that it's some of the best sports analysis that I've read, that would be an understatement. It is true that when I was younger on field trips, I still remember going into the offices of the Star Ledger and the Trenton Times and hoping I would see Rich Chere or Mark Eckel respectively. And most of the beat writers' articles are linked on these blogs. But the number crunching and stats compilations these bloggers sometimes pull off is quite breathtaking. The fan interaction options also highlight the experience and its part of the whole (Sports Blog) Nation's philosophy.

Now the two are debating back and forth about this series, Devil and Flyer things on the ice, but also off the ice as well.

So, here's the deal. If the Devils win, I'm going to send a free copy of our DVD to Fischer. If it's the Flyers, I will send one to Hughes. And because I am a big Phillies and Devils' fan, I own sports things they both might like - I will also include a little slice of paraphernalia, probably an old hockey or baseball card or some other form of nostalgia as well with the DVD.

In the meantime, check our their blogs and also the many contributors they have that keep it all running so well. And cheer for your favorite team.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Devils and Flyers score hattrick - split New Jersey for 3rd time in 16 months

I'll have more on this, but it's been 3 times in the playoffs now in 16 months time. Wow.



Now, it's the Philadelphia Flyers playing against the New Jersey Devils in the NHL playoffs. It's hockey, it's the 1st Round and thus . . . not as important to New Jerseyans, I'm suspecting.
But since hockey is my favorite sport, it's BIG for me. And I'm calling this: the tiebreaker.
More to come . . . I will be at Game 1 in Newark and Game 3 in Philly.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Jersey's Property Tax Divide

Numbers are from 2007. Here is the map and ranking of counties' average property tax. Highest 11 are highlighted green. Statistics taken from NJ.com's By the Numbers.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Jersey: the Movie ON SALE!

New Jersey: the Movie is ON SALE!

It will ship by February 10th. Discount code to get you 15% Off - ewing2010. If you buy the 2 pack you get an additional 10% off.