Been & Going

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Fun Exploring a Cave

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Jersey Joe and his friends explore Crystal Cave in Eastern Pennsylvania, but come up with more creative names for the formations inside.

THE 411

What: Crystal Cave

Location: Kutztown, Pennsylvania

Discovered: 1871

Cave Temperature: 52°


This was a fun roadside attraction to check out.  I’ve seen the signs on I-78 advertising it for years.  The tour itself, took about an hour, after watching a 20+ minute introductory film.  If you’re in Eastern PA, it’s a great place to take the family.


[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] One World Observatory

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Jersey Joe checks out the observation deck, One World Observatory on top of One World Trade Center in New York City.

THE 411

What: One World Observatory

Where: top of One World Trade Center

Location: New York City

Purpose: observation deck, tourist attraction

Floors: 100-102


This is a great tourist attraction in New York City.  I never got to visit the original World Trade Center before it was destroyed, but I’m glad this is open to once again allow visitors a chance to experience the view.

There are a couple of things to remember… first, expect airport style security.  They check everything going in.  It is exactly the same security as you would expect at the airport.  The only difference — you are not required to take off your shoes, but everything else is the same. Hats, jackets, belts… they are all coming off!

Secondly, if you want to visit the bar or restaurant, you must purchase an observatory ticket.  There is no way around this.  So, don’t expect to just ride an elevator for a view just to go to the bar — you’re paying for the full experience.

The World Trade Center area is still a construction site.  As of this post, there are still massive areas of construction and the main transportation hub for the PATH and subways is still not complete.  Expect to find many temporary walkways and partially opened entrances at this time.


[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Are You a Johnny Bull?

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Are you a Johnny Bull?  My grandmother explains this depression era saying and Jersey Joe tracks it’s origin.

THE 411

Name: Johnny Bull or John Bull

What: term used for a rich British person

Used: 17th century – 20th century


An interesting term from British and American past that is rarely used.  It shows the early power of the media as the term migrated across the sea and was spread around in the US via newspapers.

johnny bull mini

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Drinking a Moscow Mule

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Jersey Joe and his friends gather at a local restaurant to sample a Moscow Mule.  How this adult beverage became popular on the East Coast, before traveling to the West Coast, and back!


THE 411

Name: Moscow Mule

What: alcoholic adult beverage

Ingredients: ginger beer, vodka, lime juice

Traditionally served in: copper cup



It’s another one of those drinks that was popular in the past and is making a comeback.  Craft cocktails are now all the rage, so more drinks like this will be added to bar menus.  It’s interesting how this became a fad in New York City, then went west, only to be mostly forgotten in the East.

I still think it would be better frozen, though…

And remember… drink responsibility!  Sorry kids, 21 and over – please!

[Citizen Filter] Wallowing in Decadence, Your Late Afternoon Papal Laugh-In

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So now that my rage has subsided into a low, manageable simmer (despite TWO MORE shootings in the last several days. TWO. MORE. No wonder humanity is going extinct in 86 years) let’s talk about something fun! Let’s talk about popes.

Whatever your views may be on the Catholic Church (one holy catholic and apostolic Church…we acknowledge one baptism for remission of all sins… sorry, I got caught in the Nicene creed for a second), it sure has given us much in the way of comedy. Growing up Catholic, that comedy often came from my mother making fun of the priest during mass if he went on too long. (Her motto: If you can’t say it in ten, don’t say it in twenty.) Between family stories about setting things on fire, wearing kleenexes on your head (if you forgot your hat), and taking a sip too many of the sacred backwash that is communion wine at one’s First Communion (age 8), the laugh riot never ends, but truly, our most holy gift is the pope.

With a history more bloody and scandalous than Game of Thrones, a library of apocryphal stories with all the blood, gore, and crossdressing one could hope to be titillated about, and aristocratic families fighting for control of the giant golden throne, one can only imagine the glorious scandal that a comprehensive history of the papacy could be. Well, too bad, because I’m only going to talk about the things I think are funny. To wit:

Pope Joan

According to popular history, Pope Joan ruled at as Pope John Anglicus for several years in the 13th century, and was actually pretty damn good at it. Wise, learned, and with that sense of fun you only find in a transgender pope, she was revealed as a fraud when she gave birth while parading through Rome on horseback. Of course, she fell from her mount and was dragged for a half a mile before dying, at which time she was buried in disgrace.

Pope Joan did not exist (although I’m willing to bet that we have had a few popes who were actually women–see anyone who did not have illegitimate children during the Renaissance because EVERYONE had illegitimate children in the 16th century), but if she did, I have questions. 1. How was she so unaware of her impending labor that she decided to ride around publicly on horseback? 2. How did the papal staff not realize that the pope was getting fat on a remarkably specific timeline? 3. Who had sex with the pope in a) such a way as to impregnate her, and b) not tell all their friends in a drunken stupor? Was it an extremely disappointed gay man? Was her lover unceremoniously offed? Is the ground under Rome filled the corpses of Joan’s loose-lipped lovers?! The world may never know.

The Three Popes in a Boat and No One Can Steer (The Western Schism)

So as you might imagine, the Middle Ages were a peaceful time filled with stable governments, easy transitions of power, and many happy and tolerant people who lived long, productive lives.

HA. Ha ha. Hahahahaha. Ha.

The Middle Ages was a time when people were either fighting over paltry portions of land and power, or they were so bored they started killing each other. (That’s how the Crusades started. Seriously.) And by people, I’m obviously referring to landowning men and their sons, because neither poor people nor women nor non-Christians were considered people, a tradition that continues today in the thoroughly not-a-theocracy United States.

Anyway. At one point, the papacy up and moved to France for several decades, and since the pope essentially ruled Rome, the people in ye olde country were none too happy about it. (It’s like the next president being a British citizen, living in Britain, and consulting with whoever the fuck is in charge over there. It’s an emperor, right? Emperor of the Galaxy or something? Politics are stupid.) So the Romans demanded a Roman pope, and since people never turn down enormous power and wealth, the College of Cardinals picked some guy from Naples, who became Pope Urban VI. (He was terrible. The only good thing to come out of Naples is the ice cream, and I’m not even sure about that. But most popes were awful, so there you go.) So the College got together again and chose Pope Clement VII, who skedaddled right on back to France. (He also wore an onion on his belt, as was the fashion at the time.) So they fight it out for thirty years or so (‘I’m the true of voice of God on Earth!’ ‘No, I’m his only holy representative!’ ‘You’re a blasphemer!’ ‘You’re a blasphemer!’), and the then College meets up again (rather than having a couple of good, old-fashioned assassinations, which would be so. much. easier.) and they elect a third pope, Alexander V, based in Pisa (‘Neener neener boo boo, I’m the real pope now!’ He was also known as the antipope, perfect for all your papist infection needs.).

Cut to five years later, and enough’s enough. The College meets one more goddamn time, they fire everybody, and elect a fourth pope, Martin V, whom no one hates enough to kill or depose, and everyone lives happily ever after. In Opposite Land. No, he actually initiated some wars, attempted genocide against the so-called heretics in Bohemia, organized a crusade in Africa, and endorsed slavery. History is fun!

The Crusades

Everyone loves the Crusades! The following is factually true:

-There were four of them.

-They all involved the same (mostly French) aristocratic families.

-They all started with bored idiots and their swords rampaging through Europe, decimating local Jewish populations.

-The Children’s Crusade was real, and while those darlings wandered to the sea to take back the Holy Land for Jesus, they mostly died of exposure, starvation, and disease, and the ones who lived got the grand adventure of being sold into slavery! Where they probably died of exposure, starvation, disease, AND horribly cruel beatings!

-The Crusades started because Western Europe was too peaceful. (Does that not explain everything about Western society ever?) There were a bunch of landless, battle-trained younger sons wandering around killing each other (because you’ve got to have some spare knight-sons in case your first couple die and you have to give the land to your daughter’s husband), and the Pope had a nope sandwich and created the first crusade so they could blow off steam in the (then) peaceful, productive, well-educated and tolerant Middle East. So rather than embracing peace and hammering their swords into plowshares, the (mostly French) aristocrats gather an army, kiss their wives and mistresses goodbye, and invade a series of countries, kicking off about a hundred years of conflict at home and abroad and ruining the pretty great societies thriving in the Middle East. THANKS, POPES.

In Conclusion

You may find yourself asking why this is relevant? Good question, yourself, HISTORY IS ALWAYS RELEVANT. But actually, it’s because history is always relevant and has echos that affect us today. Here’s a little thinky-think: it’s on the funny side, seeing Pope Francis plead for peace in Israel and elsewhere, when a little less meddling from the papacy would’ve been much more helpful in the following: 1. Deconstructing the long-held idea that Jews were less than human and deserving of genocide, eventually leading to the Holocaust, 2. Never planting the idea that Western Europe has any sort of mandate to act politically in the Middle East (see also: colonialism, Gulf War), and 3. Using violence as a solution for just about anything (see also: violent antisemitism, colonialism, Gulf War).

I actually really like Pope Francis and I think he’s creating more change in just a year than most popes aspired to ever. But history is long and filled with assholes, and it’s our job to call them out.

And Now Your Moment of Zen

The Pope Francis Popener, ideal for opening all your beer and adding a taste of the holy.

He smiles because alcohol!

[Moons Over Monuments] The Carp Moon

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One of the main purposes I wanted to start mooning historical markers (other than the concept of it made me giggle) was to draw attention to monuments that we pass by, without giving much thought to the history of the thing. I didn’t realize how appropriate my inaugural Been and Going moon would be for that, exact purpose.

carpbeachThere is a little town, about 80 miles north of Los Angeles, called Carpinteria. It is the epitome of quaint beach village. Weary travelers often stop in ‘Carp’ (that’s the local nick-name for the town), to check out the state beach or grab a bite to eat on their way to Santa Barbara. There are two historical markers in Carpinteria; one for the world’s tallest Torrey Pine, which I didn’t care about, and one immortalizing the Chumash indian village of Mishopshnow, which piqued my interest.

The location for the Mishopshnow marker was listed at 1000 S. Carpinteria, which the iPhone Google Maps app translated as the starting point of Carpinteria Ave., just south of town. There was no marker there. So Mr. Moon (aka the husband, Seen) and I headed deep into this town of 13,000 souls to see if we could find the illusive marker. We pulled into the Carpinteria State Beach parking lot and asked a lovely couple, who were obviously just out for a morning stroll, where they thought it might be.

Me (leaning out my car window): “Hey there, you guys look like you live here!”

Man in running pants: “Yeah! We do!”

Me: Do you happen to know where the historical plaque, marking the location of the Chumash indian Mishopshnow village is located?”

Man: (stunned look) “No. Never heard of it. I can tell you where the Torrey Pine is!”

Seen: “There’s an RV behind us, I gotta drive.”

Me: “Ok, thanks!” (waves as we drive away)

If locals didn’t really know about it, and Google Maps couldn’t find it, this is the perfect marker for a Moons shoot. It’s a hidden monument that we can shine some light on and drop a little historical knowledge on y’all.

MuseumAfter paging through the Google results, voila, an alternate address for the  marker, 950 Maple Ave. AKA, the Carpinteria Valley History Museum. So not all that hidden, but apparently overlooked. The location made me a little nervous. I don’t like having a lot of people around while dropping trou. A historical marker next to a museum means there might be employees and visitors milling about. Luckily, at 7:45 on a Sunday morning, the museum is closed. The only audience I needed to worry about was the guy doing yard work at a business across the very quiet street.

When the landscape guy ducked into the backyard where he was working we moved fast.

Seen ran across the street and I bared my tuckus to the cool, December morning air. Mooning complete.

Waiting for the landscaper to leave.

Waiting for the landscaper to leave.

The Moon Rises!

The Moon Rises!

ThePlaqueRealzSo now for the important stuff. The marker actually says:

The Chumash Indian village of Mishopshnow, discovered by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo on August 14, 1542, was located one-fourth mile southwest of the monument. Fray Juan Crespí of the Gaspar de Portolá Expedition named it San Roque on August 17, 1769. Portolá’s soldiers, observing the Indians building wooden canoes, called the village La Carpinteria-the Carpenter’s Shop.

This monument is a very clear example of how the conquerer gets to write history. Because, basically, this Spanish dude wandered into a town, with people living, eating, building canoes and said “Oh hey, I just discovered this spot. Also, your language is invalid, based on the fact that I don’t speak it, so I’m gonna call this place…um…’The Carpenter’s Shop.’ Yeah…”  Not sure if the original locals would describe the interaction that same way.

There are a ton of Chumash Indian monuments in California, and happily, the Chumash tribe has survived. For those of you living in California, please spend some time in one of their casinos.

The town of Carpinteria itself is a beautiful spot, located between a gorgeous beach and the mountains that rise up on the Eastern border. There is an abundance of local farmland and lots of big companies choose to have office space here. After my public airing, Seen and I drove 2 minutes over to the Carpinteria State Beach. Our drive took us down Linden Avenue, which is lined with small businesses that give this village it’s charm. It’s a wonderful town and I hope they don’t hold my mooning against me and let me come back to eat and play in Carpinteria.

It comes from a place of love, Carpinteria!

It comes from a place of love, Carpinteria!