Been & Going

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Pie Face for Cash # 3

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Would you take a pie in the face for cash?  Jersey Joe challenges his friends to play along.  See if these two contestants can walk away with the cash prize!

Pie Face the game became a blockbuster sensation, sparking thousands of videos online.  The game was originally released in the 1960’s and returned to stores last year.  A popular gift last Christmas, it sold out quickly in most stores.

THE 411

Name: Pie Face for Cash

What: children’s board game, updated for adults with a cash jackpot


Anybody else want to be a contestant?  I’m always looking for more!


[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Recap: Blizzard 2016

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Blizzard 2016 is now over and left New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey buried in over 2 feet of snow, nearly smashing a record.  Jersey Joe took his camera out for a live show in the heart of the blizzard and brings you the highlights in this special episode of his video blog web show.

The blizzard left New York City with 26.8 inches of snow, just 0.1 inch shy of the all time record that was set in February 2006.  A travel ban went into effect and all above ground subway and train service was halted at 2pm Saturday, ahead of the heart of the storm.  Mass transit is set to resume full service on Monday, January 25th, while airports have already reopened earlier in the day on Sunday.

THE 411

What: blizzard 2016

Storm name: Jonas

Total snowfall: New York City – 26.8 inches


Always use your head when a storm approaches.  Stock up with the appropriate supplies you need, sit at home, and wait it out.  Only venture out if the conditions are safe.  While I had scaffolding and large buildings to shield under, when the snow starts whipping — those ice pellets really hurt!


[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe LIVE] What is Your Favorite Christmas Movie?

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Jersey Joe and his friend Pete chat with patrons at O’Hara’s Downtown in Jersey City, New Jersey about their favorite Christmas movies.  Did yours make the list?

THE 411

What: Your favorite Christmas movie

Where: recorded at O’Hara’s Downtown, Jersey City, New Jersey


What is your favorite Christmas movie?  Join in on the conversation now @JerseyJoe50 on twitter!  Did yours make the list?

best christmas movies mini

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Elevator Races

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Jersey Joe and his friend Simon embark on an elevator race at the World Trade Center PATH train station.  Place your bets — who do you think will win?

After being destroyed in the September 11, 2011 terrorist attacks, the World Trade Center PATH station reopened offering train service between New York City and Jersey City and Newark, New Jersey on November 23, 2003.  The second station was only to serve as a temporary station, utilizing the same design footprint and style as the original station.

Plans were quickly drawn up for a spectacular new station, that will serve as a tourist attraction and showplace of Lower Manhattan.  The new transit hub, currently under construction, will once again connect PATH trains with New York City subway trains, without commuters ever having to go upstairs into the elements.  Part of this new transit hub will include shops, restaurants, bars, news stands, and more for the thousands of commuters that will use this station on a daily basis.

The entire project is expected to open in 2015, but for now two small parts are open.  Those being a walkway that connects the PATH trains to Brookfield Place and ferries and Track 1, which serves commuters arriving and bound for Hoboken, New Jersey.  While work continues, all trains will often use this single track.

THE 411

What: World Trade Center Transportation Hub

Purpose: to connect PATH trains with New York City subway

Location: New York City

Open: PATH Track 1 trains from Hoboken to New York City

Open Since: 2014

Link to more information:


It’s not often that you find two glass elevators like this back to back, where you can have a race!

What is open of the station, so far, is really spectacular, but WAY over budget.  I just hope that somehow, all of this money flying out of my pocket to ride the PATH and support this station’s reconstruction, will be worth it in the end.

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Jersey Joe’s Year Four Rewind

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Here it is – my fourth official season finale!  True, I’ve only been writing on Been and Going since it launched about a year ago, but this blog has now been online for four complete years.  It all started 182 editions ago on  As my season wraps, I always go back and update what I’ve written about.  So, get ready as we take a quick look back…

You can click on the title of each blog to check out the original post.


Blogumn #134 – April 12, 2013


This blogumn looked at the new Judge Judy slot machines that had just hit casino floors.  At the time, the machines were highly popular and can still be found in most major casinos.


The popularity of this slot machine continues today.  During a recent visit to Atlantic City, there was always somebody playing them and still had a line of spectators watching at both banks of machines I found at Bally’s and the Golden Nugget.



Blogumn #139 – May 17, 2013


This blogumn took a look at one of my favorite video games of all time, Burger Time.  The game is simple, you are the chef and your job is to assemble hamburgers in a crazy kitchen where the ingredients have come to life and are after you!


I love to play this game at Barcade, in Jersey City, New Jersey.  Barcade is a cross between a bar and arcade that thankfully, is for adults only.


Sadly, the machine has gone missing from this location.  Barcade is in the process of opening a new location in Manhattan and I can only hope that it will end up there.  Both locations will only be a PATH train ride away.



Blogumn #140 – May 21, 2013


In this special edition, I discussed the new Burger King Rib Sandwich that the fast food chain had added to their menu.  It was their first big jab at McDonald’s by creating their own version of McDonald’s legendary McRib.


The Burger King Rib Sandwich was added to last summer’s menu and I judged it to be far superior to the McRib.  While it did sell well, the sandwich finished its summer run and was removed from BK’s menu early last fall.  Sadly, it has not returned and there have been no plans announced to bring it back.  I hope that Burger King reconsiders and makes this a permanent addition to their menu.



Blog #157 – December 5, 2013


In a little over a week after online gambling was legalized and officially launched in New Jersey, I tested out a few sites to see what all the hype was about.


Like it or hate it, online gambling has generated extra revenue for both the state and the Atlantic City casinos who took part in it.  Sadly, the state overestimated how much revenue would be brought in.


The state was estimating that $10.6 million would be earned in just six weeks.  The total earned was $7.3 million, which is still a success.  The revenue earned from legal online gambling has saw steady growth from January – March, with April being the first to see a slight decline in the amount wagered.  The state still expects continued growth moving forward.



Blog #162 – January 9, 2014


This blog took a look back at the night I was there for the final moments of the Sands casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  With my old camera phone, I captured the final blackjack hand and security ushering everyone out, while the slots were being turned off.  The casino was closed for a project, that was to build a mega casino and hotel in it’s place.  Sadly, the economy went bust and the project never happened.


The Madison House, a hotel that is located across the street from the site, was once used as an additional hotel tower for the Sands.  It closed when the casino did, but finally reopened this past January.  Sadly, Tripadvisor reviews of the initial opening were terrible.  Guests complained of slow elevators, filthy and outdated rooms, and a strong cigarette smoke smell.  Many guests have commented that a renovation has begun and hopefully this will be a step in the right direction for the historic property.  I plan to check it out as some point in the future.


The Sands site still sits unused, outside of a light up artist installation.



Blog #169 – February 27, 2014


In this hilarious video I found online, we get to see TV’s Judge Joe Brown all liquored up and hitting on a group of women at some kind of resort.  Joe even makes fun of his old TV show.


Since then, Judge Joe has gone back to being a lawyer in Memphis, Tennessee.  Back in March, during a court child support preceding, he went on a tirade against the judge and it got him thrown in jail.  (You can hear TMZ’s copy of the court room audio here.) He was sentenced to five days, but was released in a couple of hours.  He is also running for District Attorney in Shelby County.  Could it have all been a publicity stunt?


THE 411


Name: Kicking Back with Jersey Joe


What: weekly blog on


Time: new editions post Thursday at Noon Eastern / 9am Pacific




Thanks again for all your support and for checking out my blog.  I love how we get to chat like this each week.  As always, feel free to comment below each post or reach out to me on twitter @jerseyjoe50.


This summer, I have a quite a treat for all of you TV fans.  Starting with next week’s blog, I am going to post 10 at a time, my 100 favorite TV show theme songs.  You’ll get to see show opens from some of your favorite series and a few that I’m sure you’ve forgotten.  Don’t miss it – starting next week!


Image credits – Chris Marquardt, Kathrina Birkenbach,

The Two State Lottery Challenge: The Rematch [Kicking Back with Jersey Joe]

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Last year, I put the New York Lottery and the New Jersey Lottery to the test.  I wanted to find out which state’s instant scratch off tickets paid off the most – The Empire State or The Garden State.  Using the same amount of cash and a random selection of tickets, I joined the ranks of millions who are scratching off to win big bucks on these instant games.


Instant lottery scratch off tickets: they’re meant to play a fast game and to make a quick buck.  It’s portable form of gambling that states have relied on for extra revenue since the 1980’s.  (You can read about my original discussion of instant lottery games here). The instant games are more popular than ever, to the point where states are now installing vending machines to attract commuters to play on the go.


Lottery player uses the vending machine to purchase scratch off tickets at the 33rd Street subway station in New York City.

Lottery player uses the vending machine to purchase scratch off tickets at the 33rd Street subway station in New York City.

Last year, I invested $55 and stopped first at the New York Lottery vending machine at the 33rd Street Herald Square station in New York City.  I put $30 into the machine and randomly selected a number of tickets.  Once I got off the PATH in Jersey City, I stopped at a local newsstand and had them randomly select tickets with the remaining $25.


After over 40 minutes of scratching, the New Jersey Lottery $25 investment earned me $42, while my $30 New York Lottery investment earned me only $4.  I declared New Jersey the winner and the whole experiment left me with a net loss of $9.


You can read the full report of last year’s challenge here.


Now, these are supposed to be random games of chance, so to be completely fair, I decided that another challenge would be needed and I did just that last week.


Once again, I stopped at the New York Lottery vending machine at the 33rd Street station and deposited $25.  I again picked one large $5 ticket and then randomly chose a selection of lower denomination games.  Once back off the PATH in Jersey City, I again stopped by the same newsstand and had the clerk select $25 in random games, with the only rule being that I needed one $5 ticket to match what I had purchased in New York City.

ny lottery tickets

Upon arriving home, I examined the stack of tickets and here’s what I got:


From the New York Lottery – 12 tickets


$5 Million Dollar Money Clip

$3 Spin 3

$2 Lucky 8’s

$2 Lucky 8’s

$2 Lucky 8’s

$2 Happy Birthday

$2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life

$2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life

$2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life

$1 Loose Change

$1 Amazing 8’s

$1 5x Cash


nj lottery tickets

From the New Jersey Lottery – 10 tickets


$5 Money Match

$3 Power Play Crossword

$3 Zuma

$2 Love to Win

$2 Classic Bingo

$2 Big Money Spectacular

$2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life

$2 10x Money

$2 Fire & Ice

$2 Hit $50’s


Since there were more tickets in the New York Lottery stack; I went with those, first.


I started with the lower denomination tickets and first up was the $1 5x Cash.  To win, all I had to do was match 3 symbols.  And…. a loser.


Then went with the $1 Amazing 8’s.  Same deal, match three 8’s and win.  Too bad, I lost again.


Next up was the $1 Loose Change.  This game was a little different.  The player is presented with six boxes containing coins.  After scratching off the six boxes, the total of what’s inside must go over $1 to win a prize.  Mine did!  My total was $1.05.  I scratched the prize box to reveal I had won my $1 back!

ny lottery loose change

Finally, a winner!


Next up, was the three $2 Win $1,000 A Week for Life games. I was really hoping for a big win on this one.  I could use a grand handed to me every week!  Who couldn’t?

ny lottery winner 12

These tickets contain two games each.  The first game is a classic beat the house game.  The player is given a number, if the player number is higher than the house number – you win the prize shown on the line.  On my first ticket – a hit!  I bet the house 12 – 7 and won $2!

ny lottery winner 5

The second game on the ticket is the classic New York Lottery standard of matching three like dollar amounts.  On the next two tickets, I did just that winning $2 and another $5!


Four winners in a row!  Things were starting to look up for the Empire State!


I then went for the $2 Happy Birthday… another dud.


I then had 3 of the $2 Lucky 8’s games.  In this game, you scratch off the player area which features a number and a prize amount.  If your number matches one of two house numbers, you win the prize.  If an 8x symbol appears, you win 8x the prize!  A coin picture also denotes an instant prize win.

ny lottery winner 8x win

I scratched the first two tickets – and nothing.  Finally, I went for the third ticket.  Right away, I matched the house number of 16 and won $10!  Further down the line, I uncovered an 8x symbol with a $5 prize that paid off $40!  That’s a total of $50!  I’ve never won that much on a scratch off lottery ticket in my life!


I still had two of the biggest tickets to go.


Next was a $3 Spin 3.  This game was kind of lame, there’s no spinning involved.  You are presented 10 different games.  All you have to do is match three like symbols in each game to win the prize.  Think of it as a slot machine on a scratch off card.  It didn’t matter, I got squat.


Finally the big $5 Million Dollar Money Clip game.  Match your number to one of the house numbers and win that prize.  A 10x awards 10 times the prize and a coin icon wins that prize.  Sadly, I got nothing here.


So, for my $25 New York Lottery investment, I walked away with $60!

nj lottery 50s ticket

Then it was time to do battle with the New Jersey Lottery.  I started in the same order with the lowest tickets first and that was a $2 Hit $50s.  (New Jersey doesn’t seem to offer $1 scratch off games.)  Again, you have to match your number to one of the house numbers and win the prize shown.  I matched with a 12 and won $2!  Things were already looking up once again for the Garden State.


Next was a $2 Fire and Ice game that was definitely icy cold.  Nothing.  Same deal for $2 10x Money, $2 Win $1,000 a Week for Life, and the $2 Big Money Spectacular.  The win $1,000 a Week for Life is a popular game that is available in many different states.  I’ve played that in Pennsylvania in the past.


A New Jersey Lottery Bingo scratch off instant game ticket.

A New Jersey Lottery Bingo scratch off instant game ticket.

Now it was on to the $2 Classic Bingo.  This game took a long time to play.  You are presented with 25 Bingo Ball numbers on the left.  You scratch them off one by one and play the numbers on one of your four Bingo cards.  Payouts are different for each card and each way you get a bingo.  There are 12 different payouts that are printed next to each game.  After scratching off all the ball numbers, I had to transfer them to the game board.  After 10 minutes or so, I had a diagonal bingo on card 2 and that scored me $2.  Had that been on card four, that payout would have been $5.


I then went for the $2 Love to Win, which was a classic match the house number scratcher.  No love here, I got nothing.


Next up was a $3 Zuma ticket.  Have you ever played this game online?  In the online game, you have to shoot at multicolored balls rolling along a track to make them disappear before reaching the end.  I was surprised to see how well this turned this into a scratch off game.


It was one of the more unusual layouts.  You are presented a circular game board with six games of balls presented in groups of three.  If your three balls match the color, you win.  Sadly, mine did not.  It was a great nod to the online game, though.


Next was the $3 Power Play Crossword and this thing took a long time to complete.  You uncover 10 house letters.  The player is then presented with a completed crossword puzzle.  You task is to take the 10 house letters and scratch them off anywhere they appear in the puzzle.  If you complete three words, you win a prize.  The prizes go up with the more words you completely uncover.  A pay table is posted on the back.  It was useless to me; I only rubbed off two words.

nj lottery money watch

Lastly, was the $5 Money Match game.  Same deal as many other tickets.  You get 5 house prize amounts.  If you match one, you win.  If you match an amount, but yours is in green color, you win double the amount.  Find a money bag and win $50.  Find a green money bag and win $100!  I matched and won $5.


So, the total won in New Jersey from my initial $25 investment was only $9.  I lost $16 to the Garden State.


Many of the New Jersey games that I played were quite involved.  Instead of just finding three like symbols as in most games, here you are required to use some thought.  Matching the letters in the Crosswords game took some time as did the Bingo game.  So, if you’re looking for instant gratification with matching three symbols, then look for the simpler games as some of the choices can get quite complex.  The bonus with selecting one of these tickets from a vending machine is that you can take a closer look at what’s required before making your selection.  It’s a little hard to do when there’s a ton of people in line at the bodega waiting to play their Powerball numbers and pay for a jug of milk.


The total time I spent scratching 22 tickets: 41 minutes 31 seconds.  It was thanks to some of those complex games I got from New Jersey that added took extra time.


All the mess left behind after 40+ minutes of scratching off instant lottery tickets.

And here’s a look at the pile of shards left behind from all the scratching.  Wonder if this stuff is toxic?


THE 411


What: Instant Lottery scratch off games


States played: New York, New Jersey


Denominations: $1 – $5

scracthed off lottery tickets



This was a completely different outcome from the last experiment.  I won $60 in New York and only $9 in New Jersey.  It was that one large hit on the NY ticket that changed everything.  For my $50 investment, I walked away with $69.  Not a life changing amount, but still a winner none the less.


The New York Lottery games also offer a second chance drawing.  By going online and entering the code on the ticket, players have a chance to win more random prizes.  That’s a great feature more state lotteries need to adopt.


The New Jersey Lottery has also gotten into the ticket vending machine business.  They recently signed a contract with Wawa convenience stores to have machines installed in all of their Jersey locations.  I hope this program extends to other stores throughout the state.  Judging by the popularity of the New York machine at 33rd Street, New Jersey could make some big bucks putting these in train stations targeting commuters who are just standing there waiting.


With the second match now complete, the lottery challenge series is tied 1 – 1.  It looks like I will have to do a tiebreaker in the future to find out which state has the loosest scratch off lottery tickets.


For more information:

The New York Lottery

The New Jersey Lottery


[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Caught on Tape: Fight over Fried Chicken

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Sometimes you just end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Last weekend, my friends and I had one of those moments when simply trying to get some late night fried chicken.


(WARNING: strong language in video)



After living in Northern New Jersey / New York City area for all these years, one thing that I’ve come to learn is that each town, city, and suburb has their own iconic fried chicken joint.  Many of these places are open until the wee hours of the morning and Hollywood Fried Chicken on Newark Avenue in downtown Jersey City is no different.

hollywood fried chicken

Hollywood Fried Chicken on Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ


The fried chicken is super cheap, super tasty, and probably not the best for you.  The breading is not too spicy, but is crisp while the chicken inside remains moist.  Their menu consists of fried chicken and all the sides, plus burgers and gyros.  There are three locations in New Jersey and this restaurant has been a neighborhood staple for decades.  Just say the name – and most locals know all about it!


And by cheap, I mean you can purchase a 15 piece chicken box with 2 sides and biscuits that will feed the entire family for $13!  While there are dozens of door buster meal deals, an individual chicken wing starts at the rock bottom price of 75 cents!


The restaurant opens at 10am and doesn’t close until 4am.  Those late night hours often make the place a last stop for those who’ve had a little too much to drink bar hopping all night.


We’re not sure what started the brawl.  As we turned the corner from Jersey Avenue, you could hear lots of commotion and arguing going on inside the restaurant.  Next thing you know it, one group is pushing the other and within a minute, people spill out the front door onto the street.


No one was seriously hurt and we left right after I stopped recording.  We had a conversation with two other customers who were inside when everything happened.  As one of them told us:


“It was stupid.  One girl bumped into the other and things got out of hand.”


The Jersey City police heading toward the scene.

The Jersey City police heading toward the scene.

Within about 10 minutes after everything broke up and being called, the Jersey City police finally arrived on the scene.


The sad thing is in this day and age with all the lawsuits and cameras, a simple misunderstanding like this can really blow up into big trouble.  While some of it was fueled by alcohol (and you could clearly see at least one girl, barely able to walk) too many people are looking to sue.  Just watch daytime TV with all the injury lawyer commercials!


Hollywood Fried Chicken has a 3½ star rating on Yelp with reviews mixed from really good to really bad.  Many of the reviews note the rowdy customers and late night drunks, but thank Hollywood for saving them from a massive hangover.


But, like it or hate it, the restaurant has a profitable business model.  The place is always busy no matter what time of day and they turn out lots of chicken during business hours.  They may want to add some more late night security, however.


Does your neighborhood have a late night chicken place like this?


THE 411


What: Hollywood Fried Chicken


Where: Jersey City, New Jersey


Date of incident: after midnight, January 20, 2014



banana pudding

The Hollywood Fried Chicken banana pudding.


The neighborhood along the Jersey City waterfront across the river from New York City continues to gentrify.  What were once railroads and warehouses are now expensive rentals and high rise condos.  Hollywood Fried Chicken has certainly seen the changes in the neighborhood over the decades.


The food is really good; sadly the crowd sometimes is not.  I eat there on a regular basis; I just scope it out, first.  If it looks packed and rowdy inside – I pass.


But, you’ve got to try their banana pudding!  It’s absolutely succulent and quite the little hidden bonus item on their menu!


Image credit – Paul Lowry