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.

PREVIOUS ENTRIES
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.

PALM SPRINGS: PART 2 (of 3) - The Temple of Toys


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.

OTHER ENTRIES


Hiking the deserts of California is wonderful. The land is covered with unique plant life that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth. But you know what it doesn't have? Toys. The desert doesn't have toys. I'm sure you already knew that. But, toy hunting is something I try to wedge into all my travel excursions. Outdoor hiking and desert curiosities had stunted my quest, but the time for toys had finally arrived. I wanted the best. Best options, best selection, best use of time. Going for the best meant going the distance. That distance was about 90 miles outside of Palm Springs to Frank & Son in Anaheim. Frank & Son is a collectible show with a focus on toys, with nauseating-long vendors' aisles sprawled throughout a Foot Clan-like warehouse. It's a collectors dream that occurs every Wednesday & Saturday. Even if hoarding old junk isn't your thing, the culture and lifeblood of Frank & Son is still a fascinating experience.



As an east coast kid, how did I find out about this haven? Back in 2012, I was traveling California and popped into an Anaheim comic shop. While I was perusing vintage TMNT toys, the store clerk and I got to talking. He was an Anaheim native and a super cool guy. We spent a good 30 minutes talking about everything from toy cleaning methods to the pitfalls of California pizza. Before we parted ways, he left me with one travel tip - Frank & Son. He described the toy mecca with such mystic grandeur, the place sounded like a collector's dream. I took his advice and went to the show that very day. It was amazing. Years later on a family vacation, I went again - pulling my parents along for the ride. They loved it too. Now in 2017, it was the third visit.

PALM SPRINGS: PART 1 (of 3) - Mutants In The Mojave


Join me for this 3-part travel series in Palm Springs, California.

Celebrating birthdays is like getting pizza delivery. You know it's coming. Anticipation is high. You hope it'll be great, but disappointment has struck before. This year for my fiancé Jessica's 30th birthday, we ordered a pizza with the works. Once it arrived, she didn't delicately nibble a single slice. She devoured the entire metaphoric pie - embracing the milestone birthday to the max. We cashed in airplane miles and escaped the cold winter of NYC for the sunny, mountain-filled skies of Palm Springs, California.



Why 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. It was an escape from tinseltown. The glitz and glam of Los Angeles were replaced with poolside cocktails and hotel martinis. Over the years, Palm Springs has evolved but still maintains its old Hollywood charm. Vintage shops and thrift stores are the backbone of the town with the surrounding Coachella Valley offering hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails for outdoor adventures. Palm Springs offered us the chance to live like celebrities...although I'm not sure what celebrity hunts TMNT toys in grungy secondhand stores.