Reading Is Scary!

Motels love their bibles. Without fail, every bedside drawer houses the thick piece of literature. Whether you're in the mood to repent or just need some light reading before bed, motel owners have you covered. What if I owned my own motel? I would model the place after The Sewer Den - Ninja Turtles everywhere. The walls would be covered in classic art, the shelves in awesome collectibles, and the beds would be draped in only the finest of TMNT sheets. As for the bedside bibles, I'd totally buck the trend. Sorry to the big guy in the sky, but my motel rooms would provide the mutated bible - the word of the sewers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History.

Have you read this holy Half Shell book? It begins with the early origins of TMNT and carries up until the 2014 movie was nearing its release. Between those big beats, smaller niche moments in TMNT history are given some love too. Fun toys, goofy merchandise, wacky events - so many iconic and not-so iconic moments are covered. Nickelodeon did an amazing job curating, fact checking, and bringing this massive undertaking from idea to book store shelves. The book truly is a beast. I still haven't finished the book after having it for years. I often poke around the pages, noticing new images and passages.

The Monstrous Mistake

Pizza-eating teenage Turtles? Strange concept.
Pizza-eating teenage Turtles dressed up for Halloween? Stranger concept.

TMNT has had many crossovers since their early days in the 80s. The fun-loving mutants and their brand of zany hijinks make mashing up with other franchises an obvious opportunity. From stupid silly to completely cool, the Heroes in a Half Shell have donned many looks, borrowing from many pop culture characters. Star Trek, WWE, Trolls, and now Ghostbusters - there weren't, and still aren't, any limits to the looniness of TMNT crossovers. My favorite, and a favorite to all Halloween fiends, is the TMNT x Universal Monsters crossover. This wave of toys saw the Turtles mash up'd with classic movie monsters. We're talking the big players in horror history, every freak from Frankenstein to the Invisible Man.

This batch of weirdos was a long time much-sought-after Holy Grail for me. There were 2 waves of figures, 4 in each, and I only had one of the 8 figures while growing up (Creature from the Black Lagoon Leo). Bless the sewer gods, I successfully scooped up a complete set years ago for a decent price - before TMNT toy prices went off the rails. I am engaged, own a house, and even directed 98-minute feature film, but this purchase still might've been the best thing I've ever done.

Mutant Music: 90s TMNT Albums

My taste in music sucks. I’ve never been a trendsetter for tunes. Over the years, it’s evolved to something more respectable. But, those early years of my youth were dark times. The first cassette I ever owned was Weird Al’s “Bad Hair Day.” Things got worse from there. Bands like 311, Limp Bizkit, and KoRn bookended my stack of CDs. Hip hop lyrics from Ma$e and Mo Thugs Family could be heard from my bedroom. Hits from the 90s weren’t safe either. Sound Garden, Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind – they all had their moment in my stereo. There was no curation to my bad tastes. If it was trendy and lame, I probably listened to it.

I blame this on TMNT. From my earliest days of childhood, I was singing that catchy theme song from the original cartoon series. “They’re heroes in a half shell, and they’re green!” It’s one of the best cartoon theme songs ever! But, did this have a negative effect? It made me think all TMNT music should be just as good. I ended up listening to more mutant-inspired music – sucked into the Ninja Turtles phenomenon, hoping to find another iconic track. Most of the time I found myself rewinding tapes in disappointment, but it did land me a fun collection of cassettes in The Sewer Den. Check out this batch of tubular tapes from the 90s.

Flea Market Fallout (2017, Part 2)

The junker hunt for treasure continues! After a solid Saturday of NJ's finest offerings, the next day Jess and I decided to visit another local flea market - the Dover Flea Market. The website made the place look ridiculously hokey, like it was designed by a retired 1950s circus clown. The market was hailed as one of the better Sunday fleas in the area. The silly website, enticing reviews, and its location by a train station was making the spot seem legendary.

We obediently followed the GPS to the flea's location. As we approached, I expected to see the livelihood of market moving about like a well-oiled machine. But, there was nothing. No vendors. No shoppers. No flea market at all. After looking at the (hilarious) website once again, we realized it was dated from 2016. Flea market fail! Our mission for more junk was crashing and burning. We were annoyed, slightly embarrassed, but most of all, completely bummed.

With our plan scrapped, we parked the car and brainstormed how to salvage this adventure. None of our ideas mustered up much excitement. We were about to call it quits, but a block away we spotted something that perked us up - a dinky sign for an antique store! One measly shop can't compare to the grandeur of a flea market, but it was enough to raise our spirits from defeat.

Flea Market Fallout (2017, Part 1)

Are you starting to sweat? Is that summer heat sneaking its way into your life, making your body uncomfortably warm? That can only mean one thing...flea market season is upon us! It's that joyous time of year where we comb endless aisles of junk in the blistering heat. It's a sad, yet glorious, search for something "special." Your quest might be specific, but with a flea market, you never know what you'll walk away with. Each visit is a trip into the unknown, a trip into a Twilight Zone of secondhand goods. My 2017 flea market season kicked off like no other.

Since moving out of NYC, I found myself in uncharted flea market waters. My new home in Kinnelon, NJ presented a promising batch of new places to explore. NYC was a flea market wasteland with high-end, hipster-fueled markets making up the majority of the scene. Don't get me wrong, I love a good artisanal donut, but I love dirty junk for cheap prices much more. It's safe to say my new NJ home has opportunity everywhere for junk exploration. But an experienced explorer knows better than to make his maiden voyage alone. Luckily, my fiancé (Jess) and my buddy Simon (aka @NecroticDoctor) were willing to navigate the new flea market scene with me.

I'm not the biggest football fan. I enjoy a game here and there, but if you really want to lure me to the stadium it's best to have a flea market there. And that's just what MetLife Stadium has done with the New Meadowlands Flea Market. Every Saturday in the summer, the parking lot of the Giants & Jets' home becomes alive with bustling vendors. The gigantic stadium idly watches over the action as the aroma of savory street foods pull you through the maze of concrete paths.

Home Sweet Home: The Sewer Den Sequel

The Sewer Den has been pretty silent lately. 2017 has been proven to be a busy year so far. The biggest cause for the quiet? I bought a house (not avocado toast)! 

After moving to NYC for school well over a decade ago, I pretty much have never left. My Big Apple escapades have been an absolute blast. But after years of city living, the time has come to move on. I'm escaping concrete jungle and venturing to a town called Kinnelon, a quiet North Jersey region known for its sprawling lakes, rolling hills, and extensive hiking trails. There's also a Target! It'll be a drastic shift from my normal routine, but I'm still a stones-throw away from Manhattan. 

Life in NYC has always limited me to one bedroom living. I've never had more than that. But with my new house? 4 bedrooms! The house is by no means huge, but it's a daunting amount of space in comparison. One thing is for sure though, one of these rooms will be dedicated to fun. Call it my office if you must, but know that this room will be a sequel of sorts to The Sewer Den (my TMNT room that houses my collection, currently at my parents' house in Cape May, NJ). This new room may not be entirely dedicated to Turtles, but it's going to be a spot with Sewer Den-like spirit. From classic toys to awesome art, the space will be exciting. It'll be like The Sewer Den is getting its own sequel! 

The collection has already kicked off with a thoughtful housewarming gift from my Dad. Yes, I received a "pile of living garbage" as a housewarming gift. I don't have any furniture yet, but I'm happy to have a Muckman in my life. This trashy dude will help break in the new home. 

Expect more homeowner hijinks! I imagine Money Pit meets Home Alone...

PALM SPRINGS: PART 3 (of 3) - Tramways & Thrift Stores

Live like a celebrity in Palm Springs, California. It's an oasis tucked between mountains and known for its midcentury architecture, a throwback to the days of old Hollywood when Carey Grant and Elvis Presley reigned supreme. Join me for this 3-part travel series as we hike the Mojave Desert, explore a local toy show, comb countless thrift stores, and venture eight thousand feet into the sky onto a snowy mountain top.

PART 1: Mutants In The Majave
PART 2: The Temple of Toys

Palm Springs is thrift store mad. The secondhand shops are everywhere! No two are alike, they all have their distinct styles. From high end furniture to musty old clothes, there is no shortage of used goods in Palm Springs. Each place is a mini museum that presents different levels of American junk. The physical locations also reflected this, and were just as unique as their items inside. Many shops were in your run-of-the-mill strip malls. Others were hidden gems, sometimes classier, that took a little navigation to find. The search for these diverse stores was sometimes more fun than the stores themselves.

Whenever we had time to kill between activities, we'd find a new thrift store to explore. For a trip lasting five days, we made a decent dent in the Palm Springs thrift scene and ventured inside many places. I scanned the cluttered shelves and dug through dirty bins all for the sake of Turtle Power. Franks & Son was such a disappointment, I hoped the thrift stores would shift my fortune.