Mind Over Moon

September 9th, 2014 by Moonie

NYC Transplant Part 1: Finding an Eagles Bar


I knew that moving to New York City would present new life challenges: finding the grocery store, navigating the weekend subway schedule, getting a job. Chief among these concerns, undoubtedly, was figuring out how to watch out-of-network Eagles games. For weeks prior to the 2014 NFL season opener I scoured Yelp for helpful reviews of Philadelphia Eagles bars in NYC. I opted to bypass options that, according to the reviews, boasted an obvious BroTown convention gathering for fear of being reminded exactly why Philadelphia fans have such a repugnant national reputation. I opted for Shorty’s, a Philadelphia themed bar with multiple locations and decent cheesesteak reviews.

We arrived a half hour early to the Financial District location in hopes of getting a seat. To our surprise the bar was nearly empty, save a couple of Jets fans nestled in at a corner TV. I recoiled immediately, entirely suspicious. We asked for a table near a TV with the Eagles game and the waitress regretfully informed me they were having problems with their NFL Network connection and would not be showing the Eagles game. A group of half a dozen Eagles fans congregated outside the bar in disgust, openly pondering how a bar with the Liberty Bell as their logo could commit such a blunder. With 24 minutes until kickoff, however, we were desperate. We chose to make a mad dash to the second Shorty’s location, at 28th and Madison, where we were assured the game was playing. There was no time for additional Yelping: the season opener was minutes away and we wouldn’t have to transfer trains to get there.

We approached the bar with hopeful trepidation: all was quiet on the streets of this Flatiron neighborhood. As we entered the doorway, however, a shift in energy: we barely squeezed inside amidst the sea of forest green jerseys. I could barely see the bartenders, let alone make contact with them. The game was in its first few plays, and the Eagles defense made a good tackle as the entire bar erupted in an abrupt but deafening cheer.

I looked over at my boyfriend. He was a good sport for agreeing to come with me, despite not being a football fan. He had brought his laptop in hopes of settling in at a table to get some work done while I watched the game. It was apparent there was no option in this bar except to stand shoulder to shoulder with raucous fans. He looked at me with this dejected, almost painful expression that clearly conveyed how unbearable he found this current situation. He was like a 2nd grader on the first day of school, lugging an oversized backpack while being asked to pose for pictures at the bus stop. I felt terrible for dragging him across Manhattan only for it to come to this.

“Just go,” I told him. “There’s nothing for you here.” He agreed to try to find a coffee shop nearby. I wasn’t keen to be at this bar by myself, nonetheless I persevered. When it came to watching an Eagles game, there was no choice in the matter.

After a beer, I settled in a bit. Everyone standing around me was friendly, and we all helped each other get the attention of the bartender. The sound guy even offered to put my beer on his table while I ate my cheesesteak standing up. It became apparent, also, that the reason I was standing amidst this crowded sea of strangers was that we all shared a common bond: our love of the Eagles. By the time the Eagles’s performance picked up in the second half, I felt as comfortable as I would on my own couch. The screaming at every play, singing and chanting at touchdowns, high five-ing strangers: it was actually fantastic. I even liked my cheesesteak.

I grew to not just tolerate, but enjoy this uncomfortably crowded bar. We didn’t just share a common love of a team; I had forgotten that we also once shared a location outside of this city. I chatted with people from rival high schools and joked with others about jerseys they bought of players who ended up being busts. We bonded over missing Wawa and discussed how our options looked downfield without Desean Jackson. For a few hours in the middle of Manhattan, I was home.

August 14th, 2014 by Moonie

My Winter in Atlantic City: as told by a Once and Future Shoobie

Photo courtesy of Monique Colon http://www.moonbeastpro.com/ Photo courtesy of Monique Colon http://www.moonbeastpro.com/

First there is a long stretch of dense, tree lined highway in which you pass sleepy rural towns with humble main streets peppered with long standing local businesses. Eventually the billboards begin to pop up. To the uninitiated the adverts seem out of place: big, flashy signs for alcohol brands. Further on they start showcasing dice, slot machines, and attractive people laughing over the blackjack table. Soon enough bright lights appear on the horizon, and the smell of salt water permeates through your closed car windows. The horizon of casino lights eventually encompasses the entire width of your windshield, and at the end of the Atlantic City Expressway there is one last billboard: In 1 Mile, You Will Be 1,000,000 Miles Away.

The reality of Atlantic City isn’t as lavish as the billboards suggest, but in many ways that makes it a better, more authentic experience. The real Atlantic City presents a head scratching dichotomy: a small town environment that masquerades as a big city. Even when inside a casino, with all of its feigned opulence and difficult to navigate corridors, the people found within have always had local flavor.

When I first came to Atlantic City I was a shoobie. My experience was limited to summer vacations in Ocean City and Sea Isle and occasional concerts at the casinos. I thought breakfasts down the shore were always done at Uncle Bill’s pancake houses and the best pizza was Mack & Manco’s. I had never even had tacos down the shore. I thought I truly understood the place; but the reality was my perception reeked of that of a weekender, a tourist, an outsider, or as the notorious colloquialism goes: shoobie.

Most disparaging of all, I have come to realize, is that I never took the time to ponder the year round livelihood of Jersey shore residents. What did they do when us summer squatters returned to Cherry Hill, to Moorestown, to the Main Line? We content ourselves on flooding the beaches and casinos for three months, then come Labor day the only thing flooded is the northbound side of the Garden State Parkway as we all escape back to suburbia. We had raided the boardwalks and loaded up on Salt Water taffy. We returned our rented umbrellas, vacuumed sand out of our cars, and stored away our beach tags in hopes of reusing them next summer to avoid paying again for access to the shoreline.

All the while no one gave one iota of thought to what these store owners, casino workers, and year round residents do for the remaining 9 months. It’s almost as if they don’t exist except to open their community to tourists: to feed us, to clean up our trash, to serve us. Don’t get me wrong: shoobies are invaluable to the local economy, and their patronage is essential to the continued preservation of the New Jersey coast line. But what shoobs need to remember is that they’re needed the rest of the year, too. And there is plenty for them to do.

I first came to Atlantic City on a cool Thursday in September. We were headed to The Boneyard: a small, local music bar on Virginia Ave a few hundred yards from the Taj Mahal. I had never been to a place in Atlantic City that wasn’t located within a casino, and I had no idea what to expect. People (re: shoobies) never had much to say about the rest of Atlantic City, and when they did say something, it wasn’t positive. My boyfriend was entering a DJ competition there and I didn’t know a soul. I was apprehensive. But, never one to shy away from new social gatherings, I tagged along.

It didn’t take more than an hour or two to feel comfortable. Turns out I did know some people there, and the ones I didn’t know I soon would. The vibe was easy and friendly. People were down to earth. The attire was Anything Goes: from blue mohawks and sleeve tattoos to high heels and fake lashes. There was even a group dressed gothic: complete with studded face masks and large, bulky pants littered with straps. I dare say the goth kids were actually some of the nicest: they were some of my first friends down there. The food was delicious and the drinks were cheap. After only one night I had decided that this dive bar in Atlantic City, of all locations, was my kind of place.

My boyfriend ended up winning that DJ competition, securing him a residency at Boneyard Bar & Grill every Thursday night. And so began a sacred ritual: each Thursday around 8 p.m. I would travel down the Expressway to Atlantic City. We would eat, drink, and dance like no where I could think of in quiet, suburban Medford. Once a week turned to twice, and sometimes three times a week I would venture down to AC to see what was going on. Sometimes it was to support music and comedy events put on by my friends, sometimes just because I wanted to get out and couldn’t think of a single place by me that I would rather go. I came to Atlantic City for the music, and I stayed for the people.

I made real friends there, probably upwards of 100 of them. There were so many types of people: musicians, hair stylists, bartenders, news reporters, DJs, waiters, construction workers, chefs, comedians, college students, postal workers, nurses, people in lawncare maintenance, tech industry professionals, masseuses, promoters, artists. They all wove into this unique identity of Atlantic City. Many came from the small surrounding towns you pass on the Expressway, some were born and raised right on the island. And everyone had a story. I listened to two ex-enlisted guys compare their experiences in Afghanistan. I got hair styling advice, casino industry gossip, and restaurant discounts. I saw fire breather demonstrations and glow in the dark hula hoop dancers. I participated in trivia contests, and contributed to live, group paint sessions on canvases set up at music events. I strategized with friends trying to start their own endeavors: lifestyle brands, restaurant managers, and event organizers. Once I stayed late to the bar drinking water to sober up, and the bartender and another patron traded crazy stories about their alcoholic parents.

We used our insider discounts to stay at the casinos overnight. Soon I learned that breakfasts were actually done at Shea’s and Gilchrist. Pre-game tacos were at Panchos, and for late night fare we always went to Pizza King. We played beer pong at Mountain Bar at Bally’s until 3 a.m., and sometimes the guys would get DJ gigs at Dusk, a dress code enforced nightclub at Caesars.

We stopped at Boneyard unplanned once on a Saturday night because it was my boyfriend’s cousins birthday and she wanted to go out. Lo and behold there was an air guitar contest on stage. I entered on a whim, and after many grueling rounds I was crowned the winner. The organizers requested an encore performance at the end, and I invited all the contestants on stage to perform with me. It crescendoed with myself and at least a dozen other people in a raucous air strumming, lip syncing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. Afterwards the entire bar sang happy birthday to our guest and the owner bought everyone there a shot of whiskey. It was one of the most hilarious nights of my life.

All of this goes on in Atlantic City under the shadowy nose of the crippling casino industry. The real and truly authentic people that comprise Atlantic City are crumbling beneath the gargantuan, bankrupt towers they were told were built to save them: their job, their livelihood, their city. In reality, these extravagant constructions merely contain them. The people found in Atlantic City truly sparkle far greater than the glittering chandeliers above them.

Every week lately seems to bring news of another casino closure. I shudder to think of the thousands of residents these failing casinos are rendering jobless. Politicians and city officials have failed this city, but I haven’t lost hope. The time I spent getting a true Atlantic City experience has taught me that a city can be defined not by its grandiose buildings, but rather by its people. And now more than ever Atlantic City is ripe for reinvention by the eclectic people that make it special.

April 8th, 2014 by Moonie

Somewhere between Cheesesteaks and Cat Bowties: Musings on Portland

“We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot

I am from a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia. That means that in some ways I both identify with and typify many of the stereotypes associated with this part of the world. For the uninitiated, the general sentiment is that we are somewhat crass people: bold, loud sports fans, fat Italians, too tan, too gaudy, edgy, blue collar. There is a little piece of me in all of those descriptions. I don’t think about it all that much, unless I’m traveling.

The differences in my upbringing and lifestyle choices were never more apparent than during my most recent visit to Portland, OR. The thing is, I’m pretty sure everyone that isn’t from Portland might come out of it feeling shell shocked, questioning every life choice they’ve ever made.

My boyfriend and I had settled into our hotel downtown and figured we would meander about the city to find a place to eat. Not long into our walk we spotted a man around his forties with long silver hair sitting on the street corner with a small fold up table, pecking away at an old fashioned typewriter. A handwritten sign taped to his table read, “Poems about Anyone or Anything”. I looked at my boyfriend like, there really was no choice in the matter.

We get to talking to our newest poet friend, Bill Keys. He likes to get to know his subjects a little before composing his prose. We start telling him about our travels, where we’re from, and how we are eventually headed to a wedding in Hood River.

Suddenly I couldn’t help but notice a hipster looking fellow approaching us very intently on his bike. He had all the tell tale signs: he wore tight jean shorts that came down to his knees, Keds, and a look on his face that just screamed, “I listen to The Offspring ironically.” I had been told Portland is something of a Holy Land for hipsters.

Hipster guy is keen to talk to Bill. He tells Bill that he has heard of him, and he wanted to connect because his roommate also does an interpretation of street poetry. Hipster guy wanted to try and set up Bill and his roommate in order for them to do some sort of street poetry event together. Hipster guy bought one of the stapled paper poetry books Bill was selling, so he could give it to his roommate. It was just like attending a corporate networking event, except it was Portland so the industry was poetry and the event was on a street corner.

Bill then inquires if hipster guy is also a poet, to which he responds, “Me? Oh, no, man. I have started making and selling a bunch of cat bowties, though. I’m seeing a pretty large demand so I think I’m going to keep going with that.”

To which I interject, “Oh, like bowties with cats on them?” Thinking I knew a few avid Redditors that would appreciate such attire.

And that’s when he drops, “No. Like, bowties for cats.”

It was just very much one of those, “We’re not in Philly anymore, Toto” kind of moments.



For the curious, here is what Bill had to say about traveling:

“It’s funny like that.
New Yorkers who’ve never been to the Empire State Building.
My mom lives in Florida, and has not been to the beach in six years.
But you leave town
to another american city.
And they are a different breed.
Gourmet food for six bucks from a truck.
Very friendly death rockers
sitting in a coffee shop
the sunsets beautiful
over the river
the bridges
and its true
bridges and rivers are beautiful
its wonderfully fun
and we have this stuff at home
not far from the house
you find adventure
everywhere you find it.”

March 24th, 2014 by Moonie

5 Telling Signs That at 26 I Realize I’m Old

Forget the fluffy “my back hurts” woes, let’s get down to the nitty gritty big girl pity party: mid twenties style.

1. I actually read, save, and utilize my CVS coupons

During my hippie loving liberal arts college days, all I could think was how it was a monumental waste of paper. The receipts were 10 freakin’ feet long. I just assumed they were all coupons for useless shit I don’t need, like bunion cream. God forbid I took two seconds to read anything, it’s not like I was reading 100+ pages a day of assigned work. Nowadays I scour, scheme, and strategize based on what coupons I have hoarded into a special compartment in my car. They’re precious to me in a Gollum type of way.

2. I don’t enjoy Snapchat

Sure, I downloaded the shit. I downloaded it because that’s what the kids are doing, and in a moment of weakness I felt like I still identify with the kids. Meanwhile I am teetering on the edge of the target demographic range. Needless to say, I think it’s stupid. My friends send me pictures on it and they’re usually funny or cool and I want to save them, but I can’t. After 10 seconds they disappear into the abyss, for the NSA’s eyes only. Unless you’re 15 and sending nip slips to some douchebag, I really don’t see the point. Just text me a picture.

3. My wardrobe is all black

I could never figure out how people rocked all black without looking like a waiter. Turns out there are variations in texture and cut, so with just the right accent color (white, gray, dark gray, or beige) and a statement jewelry piece, one can achieve Morticia Addams chic in no time. Color me mature.

4. I’m bad at selfies

My arm is always in the most awkward position, the shot never looks as good as it does in the mirror, I can’t figure out how to get the lighting to not be weird, I’m so tall I have to stand really far back to get my entire outfit in the frame, and then I’ll get one I sort of like but oh, wait, shit! …there’s toothpaste residue on the mirror. God damnit. I don’t know how you kids do it, and with alarming regularity at that.

5. I’m vigilant about wearing sunscreen

Mind you, I’m not doing it to prevent skin cancer. I just do it to avoid wrinkles. Don’t get too carried away now… it’s not like I’m 30, jesus.

March 12th, 2014 by Moonie

Bushwick Street Art Sightings

Right off the Jefferson St L stop there is a treasure trove of beautiful street art. They punctuate the empty buildings in between the swanky hipster restaurants (farm to fork in these streets). Irony aside, the art was too captivating not to pose in front of; I was overcome with excitement over a potential new Facebook default picture. Anyway, in case you don’t care about how I look in front of graffiti (haters), here’s the art by itself:
August 24th, 2013 by Moonie

Orange You Glad? A Pop Culture Win for Intersectional Feminism


In a post Sex and the City world, many iterations of female leads have stormed our televisions and cinema, covering a tour-de-force of hilarious and raw subject matter. There’s the cringe worthy realities of Tina Fey’s brilliantly written and acted Mean Girls, to the next phase of life in girl-dom, the role of Bridesmaids, to the uncomfortably honest lives of the leads in Lena Dunham’s Girls. All of these female driven plots, however, have something in common: they all depict lily white, upper middle class trials and tribulations, from Manolo Blahniks to parents funding their post graduate rent in Brooklyn. Let’s be real: this isn’t even close to accessible for all women.

A new female led dramatic comedy, however, is gaining mainstream traction, and it isn’t what we’re used to seeing. Orange is the New Black, Netflix’s latest original programming, is a series about one woman’s brief foray into drug running and subsequent time served. This show stands out for it’s ability to finally (FINALLY!) demonstrate an intersectional portrayal of women. The primary setting is the prison, and the show often delves deeply into the lives of fellow inmates, which include blacks, latinas, and even a feisty Russian, of all ages.

Taylor Schilling, who plays Piper Chapman, does a fine job of portraying the timid, white upper middle class protagonist who in an alternate universe could have been friends with the Bridesmaids characters, or an older version of Marnie from HBO’s Girls. However, despite being the lead, Piper’s generally mousy demeanor facilitates the need for bold acting to support her. The ensemble does not disappoint. Piper’s fellow inmates are often hilarious, and always poignant amidst their struggles. Stand out performances include Laverne Cox, who plays transsexual Sophia, and is a real life transgender woman and activist. Also there’s Uzo Aduba, who plays Suzanne aka “Crazy Eyes”, whose performance is a truly enlightened take on mental illness.

Orange is the New Black is the first major win for intersectional feminism in mainstream pop culture. The irony is that it took a jailhouse setting to finally inject some color, literally and figuratively, into strong female leads. While this fact may seem unsettling, the show does an appropriate job of highlighting the inmates’ lives prior to jail, and humanizes the circumstances leading to their incarcerations. Additionally, the prison setting is offered as something of a great equalizer for these women of varying backgrounds. On the outside many of them function in differing cultural and socioeconomic environments, whereas in prison they are often forced to pool their resources against misogynist guards and substandard living conditions. As inmates, they are all wearing bland, state issued prison uniforms. This lack of materialism means we as an audience get to know these women for their personalities. Viewers are forced to critique the characters based on their words, a privilege rarely afforded to female characters.

Episodes include controversial and seldom covered topics ranging from homosexuality, race, age, class, and even patriarchal oppression through the eyes of this diverse cast. One episode centers around elections for inmate liaisons to the prison authority, except each candidate is elected based on race, by their own racial group. Another highlights the struggles of a poor, white, uneducated woman who clings to her religious convictions, racism, and homophobia, despite backlash from the more diverse and liberal prisoners.

Some argue that the show is another portrayal of racial and classist stereotypes: a transgender woman prioritizes her Hormone Replacement Therapy over her family, a Hispanic woman goes to jail for her drug dealing boyfriend, a black woman campaigns for fried chicken. Where stereotypes exist, however, there is also defiance: that same black woman is fluent in the law library, a homeless drug addict plans to pay back the people from which she stole, the aforementioned transgender woman befriends a nun. Orange is the New Black is not simply cut and dry stereotypes; the characters are far more dynamic, and more importantly, their perspectives are made accessible to those that cannot relate. Injecting these story lines in an easily attainable, mainstream show captures the very spirit of intersectionalism.

It is apparent that women have many hurdles yet to jump before female led casts become as ubiquitous as those of our male counterparts. But it is a testament to our boundless potential that these gritty female leads are literally locked in cages, relegated to a confined space and stripped of their clothes and makeup, only for audiences to realize how utterly beautiful, poignant, and entertaining they can be. We have not yet been released, but there is no doubt that Orange is the New Black is shaving time off our sentence.

December 7th, 2012 by Moonie

It Does A Fool No Good to Spend Money on Education

“All I’m saying is that if there were a family tree, hard work and education would be related, but school would probably be a distant cousin.”

I’m just going to say what this guy so eloquently avoided: I know a lot of stupid people with college degrees. Do you know why that is, though? It’s from being indoctrinated since birth with the higher education gospel. It’s from drinking the go-to-college-and-you’ll-definitely-be-successful koolaid. We’ve all heard it. Here’s a question, though: Do you recall an adult ever saying to you as a child, “Whether you go to college or not, make sure to be as smart as you can be.”

No one ever said that to me.

Don’t get me wrong, school is imperative. I have this theory that if the teaching profession was as competitive and highly compensated as medicine or law, students and consequently, the nation as a whole, would advance considerably. But when I say advance, I don’t mean everyone will be carrying around a $200,000 piece of paper. I mean they’ll be smarter. I mean they’ll be invested in their education, because they see it as an extension of themselves, rather than a means to an end.

Anyway, just watch the video. It’s important.

October 30th, 2012 by Moonie

My Friend, Michael Vick


Michael Vick and I are a lot alike.

Aside from the major differences, namely our age, gender, demographics, ethnicity, career, and physical stature, we’re pretty much the same person. You see, I was beginning to wonder why after all these mediocre outings by the Eagles, that I continue to insist that Michael Vick should be the starting quarterback.

When we signed Michael Vick in 2009, in my personal life I found myself at a disillusioned crossroads. I didn’t know it at the time, but I would spend the next three years fighting some of my toughest personal battles. I thought I was doing the right thing when I dropped out of college in 2009. I was sorely mistaken. So for the next two years I replaced a fancy college education at an expensive liberal arts school for slinging beers behind a bar, cleaning up after people’s dinner, and asking my customers to ponder important questions, such as “Would you like a side of fries, rice, or a baked potato?”

One person that was always there while I scrubbed beer off the bar, or balanced five plates of food in my arms, or when I took a second to massage my calves during a 12 hour shift, was Michael Vick. He brought constant excitement to my stagnant life. The Eagles had finally jettisoned Donovan McNabb after many years, and suddenly we had a new sheriff in town. But this wasn’t just any sheriff, this was one who was crawling his way back from a felony conviction, time served, and serious debt, just to name a few. For me, I needed this story. I needed a comeback like this one. In the back of my mind I always wanted to get back in the starting lineup again, I just didn’t know how. But Mike did. Mike had gotten back, and furthermore, Mike was on my team.

I finally did make a push for the starting lineup. I moved away, finished school, and immediately found a full time position after I graduated, all within one year. I quit smoking, took up running, and make time every week for hobbies I enjoy. My life has done an about face. I also never miss a Sunday with my old friend, Michael Vick. The same year I made my triumphant comeback, Vick signed a $100 million dollar contract, to my beaming delight. Turning my life around is the equivalent of a $100 million contract, and for him it meant he truly returned. He could settle his old debts, and he could move forward. Just as I am.

For three years, Michael Vick has been the penultimate example of losing yourself, making poor choices, suffering the consequences, and working extra hard to compensate. He was always there in the back of my mind, the shining beacon of success by way of experiential mistakes and valuable perspectives gained. He was never given a second chance, he worked hard and earned one. His efforts continue to resonate with me.

So while the rabble rousers and media vultures gather at the gates of Lincoln Financial Field with their pitchforks in hand and demand Vick’s head on a spike, I am reminded that despite coming so far, adversity will always persist in life. As proud as I am of all my accomplishments, I can’t be naive to think that more will not be on the horizon. In this life, we continue to be knocked back, and there are always new challenges that require weathering. I try not to worry too much though, because like my friend Michael Vick, this isn’t our first storm.

October 25th, 2012 by Moonie

Whatchu know about wearing a wolf on your noggin?

I have been eager to post on this fella here, mostly because ever since the day his steezy stuntin’ self arrived on my radar, I have been bursting at the seams to tell the whole world about him. Luckily, he inspires this in many folks as last week his debut album with (awesome) producer Ryan Lewis went to #1 on iTunes as well as #2 on the Billboard charts… oh, and did I mention he isn’t signed?

I waited, however, because I wanted to give the album, The Heist, a thorough listen before I fully endorsed him. The video above, to his single Thrift Shop, is exceptional through and through. But we live in a world where we are in constant danger of experiencing anti climactic hype over someone who is simply a one-hit-wonder.

Fortunately, I believe our boy Macklemore is here to stay. His raps are irreverent, often topical, and always astute observations, even when the subject matter is trite. I always feel like he is talking right to me.

Conveniently, I have provided you with the link to buy his album on iTunes. That’s right, I said buy it. It is $11.99 for the deluxe version (that’s cheap), and this isn’t some label lackey. This guy posted a top notch brand, and successfully marketed it himself. He deserves whatever cut he is getting from this album, and I hope it’s a lot.

Special thank you to Rusty for opening me up to this musical influence that has brought me great joy since. HT

September 4th, 2012 by Moonie

Glennz Tees – this guy is a genius


I’ve been like a mad scientist at my desk for days, trying to bring Frankenstein (my portfolio) to life. I find my productivity exponentially increases if I take half hour breaks every couple of hours. Luckily on my most recent break I found Glenn Jones on dribbble, which led me here. This guy is an incredible illustrator, so buy his t-shirts! That’s right, I linked it twice.

That is all.