Mildly Amusing Musings & Some Photographs

Posts tagged “nj


I finally got back into Liberty Humane Society to see my kitties

I finally got back into Liberty Humane Society to see my kitties

Tiger took a nap on my lap when I tried to take his photo.


Flava in Ya Ear – May 15, 2012

I just uploaded my pictures to ADAY.ORG for their worldwide photo project.  The goal was to capture your daily life in ten photos shot on May 15, 2012.  I worked that day but I also had to to take Big Papi to Mini to have his power steering replaced.

My loaner was a 2012 Mini Countryman.  I loved the color & the SiriusXM.  I didn’t have anyone with me to take advantage of the extra roomy backseats but they looked really nice.   There was a sunroof for the front & a moon roof for the rear but I still prefer the full convertible.

Most of the day was grey & rainy & my workload was so spread out that I didn’t have much time during work to shoot anything outside of my route.  Around noon, I decided to take advantage of the loaner Mini’s SiriusXM radio & I started shooting what I was listening to as well as a photo of what was outside at that time.  Syncing the photos to the radio photos was a task I would never complete in a timely fashion & I couldn’t find just ten that worked well for the project.   This made me miss SiriusXM & it also made me want a radio that displayed all the titles of what I listen to.  I suppose an iPod would work too but I liked the idea of selecting from 100+ stations that I didn’t control.  I did take a break from the radio for a little bit to re-take the “There’s A Law” shot I missed last time I had a loaner.

Subsequently, I tested some of the other CDs I had with me to see which would register the song titles.  Besides those few, here is what I listened to May 15 between 11:57am & 6:13pm when I returned the loaner.

I wound up not getting the power steering repaired because they saw my brakes & tires as a bigger safety issue & I just couldn’t afford both.  Big Papi & I are in a very abusive relationship.  Whenever something breaks, I feel like I should sell him & get something cheaper to fix but then I see him & drop his top & our love affair continues…

I really love my expensive, little buddy. His brakes, two tires, a belt and an oil change came to $1100.  The power steering & new related hoses will be in excess of $1500 but they said I can’t damage it anymore than it already is & I can continue to drive him without power steering.  K turns are now Super Triple W turns but otherwise I almost prefer the tighter steering & my arms really could use the workout.  Already the driving muscles I used to have from driving the Dart are coming back.  I wish the Dart would come back too.

“I’m a loner, Dottie, a rebel…”

On November 22, my beloved Big Papi was rear ended.  Four & a half months later, the insurance company & direct repair shop (who will remain nameless until a later post) finally arranged for me to take him to Mini myself to get his backup sensors & trunk latch fixed properly.  I was told by the insurance company that “inconveniences are to be expected when you’re in an accident,” but this has been a total nightmare.  Luckily, a trunk light that constantly turns the interior lights on & off is “not a safety hazard that prevents you from driving.”

Big Papi is a 2005 Mini Cooper convertible.   He has some pretty big issues with his CVT transmission.  Every 10,000 miles, he needs to have it adjusted.  Unfortunately, due to poor timing & being poor, I let it get to the point where he could barely drive 45mph.  Shifting into the manual mode, I could sometimes get up to higher speeds but downshifting was a 50/50 chance of a jolting trip to 6000+RPM.   This leads to the only positive experience of the car accident – I was forced to take Big Papi to Mini of Monmouth.  Since they opened, I had wanted to give them a try but it is often more important for me to be editing when I am not working & I could get by driving 45mph most of the time.

I was a little worried that Mini of Monmouth would not be as great as Princeton Mini.   I thought maybe Mini stopped trying now that so many non-waving, boring people were driving Mini Coopers.  Even their advertising is not as fun.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the staff at Mini of Monmouth was equally awesome.  I dropped my car off around 9:30 & received a call less than four hours later to say that Big Papi was ready.  Part of me was a little disappointed because I wanted to test the 2012, take nice pictures of it & write a review.   Because I was working, the nice pictures didn’t really happen & I didn’t get to experience the Mini at night, but here are some mostly cosmetic notes on my six hour drive.

I loved the fun paint on the loaner & was really glad that the Countryman body has not become the only body style.  I think it looks like a Subaru & lacks the charm of the regular Mini Cooper.

I love the orange eyeballs in the headlight eyes & the second set of eyes in the parking lights.

Super cute tail lights too.

I want one of these.   Overall, I approve of the exterior.

The seat controls are still lacking a bit.  I hate that the back adjustment faces the center console.  It is really inconvenient to get your hand in there without jamming your knuckles.  Maybe the non-base models have power seat controls?

The windows have a power down & power up which would be a decent feature if it wasn’t quite so difficult to get it to stay about 3/4 open.   Also, while the location of the cup holders is a bit better than the 2006, there really isn’t much room for a big drink still.  Anything taller than this would have made it really difficult to operate the windows.  There is another cup holder behind the center console but I learned that it isn’t good for cans.   Also, the side/door pockets don’t have as much room as the 2006.  I could barely fit a few CDs in it.  (Yeah, sorry, I don’t have an iPod.)

Ahhhhh, a defroster that doesn’t require super-loud high power defrosting only.  In theory, since I didn’t actually need a defroster today, this is a huge improvement over the 2006.

The round key & push button start took a little getting used to.  When I first tried to start it, I had no idea I needed to put my foot on the brake so I sat there basically turning the radio on & off.  This criticism is for all car manufacturers who have opted to alter the wasn’t-broken-don’t-need-to-fix-it standard turnkey ignition.  Who decided that the motion of turning a key was just too much work?  Instead of letting your designers gadget up something like that, how about working on the mechanical aspects & improving fuel efficiency?  Oh never mind, I saw “Who Killed the Electric Car?”  It is much more important to have a key that doesn’t need to be in the ignition (Audi) or a car that parks itself (Lexus).  If you can’t park your car, you shouldn’t be driving.

On to the slightly less cosmetic…  I didn’t have nearly enough time on the highway but I made the most of my 2.8 miles of speeding.  If the police ask, this was photoshopped.   I was only trying to catch up with the car that passed me.  I like the large speedometer & the 2012’s ability to kick some ass quickly but found the gas indicator a little distracting.

I nearly failed to mention that I hate the new turn signal/directional.  It doesn’t stay clicked in position until you turn or turn it off yourself after a lane change.  It was very hard to figure out if it was on.  Turn signals too were fine the way they were.

Before I found out my car was ready, I was listening to NPR so I didn’t realize the radio displayed the song titles.  I love that.  If I knew it was there, I would have put on “There’s a Law” so that there’d be some irony in breaking the law.  By the way, I was listening to The Disciplines.  You should too.  I don’t think this stereo was as good as the Harman-Kardon though.  At loud volumes, there was quite a bit of distortion.  At times, I felt a little like the people I make fun of for having a stereo so bass-y that it shakes the plastic aftermarket body kit.  I also dislike that the radio buttons aren’t numbered & there was no quick way to switch between a CD & the radio.

None of these cosmetic issues I had outweighed the fact that it was indeed fun to drive.  Add in the nice people at Ray Catena Mini of Monmouth & I found myself falling back in love with the Mini Cooper brand.  When I picked up Big Papi, I was happy to see that they gave him a bath.  Also, I can now back up without beeping, open & close my trunk without lights coming on AND, the best part, drive over 45mph!  Separate from the insurance company’s bill, I had them adjust the transmission.  My buddy is back!!!!  Now, when people ask me how I like my Mini, I can once again tell them just good things.

This is the radio I love AND the super cool plastic window/lock overlay that they should reissue because mine is cracked.  I prefer that new climate control though.

A very big thanks to Steve at Mini of Monmouth.  I’ll be back for an oil change soon.

Hey reckless mind, don’t throw away your playful beginnings…

 My first Dave Matthews concert was in 1998? with my bestest buddy in the whole wide world, Thindy.  After that one, there were many more.  I don’t think I ever appreciated the sound of the guitar until I saw Dave Matthews.  Listening to DMB made me feel happy, sexy, one with the world yet totally detached from it.   My Thindy moved away, my other friends don’t really like DMB & new worlds of music were opened up to me so I lost touch with my “playful beginnings” until this past weekend…

It was a tremendous honor & a re-birth of sorts that found me front & center in the photo pit for this past weekend’s Dave Matthews Band Caravan shows in Atlantic City.   I still have a ton of pictures to edit but I am not sure any will be as cool as this one:

Boyd smiles
This was from the Sunday show.  I believe the song was “Seek Up” but all I was trying to do was not let my knees cave in.  Boyd Tinsley violining like a fiend, making beautiful music mere feet from my eager ears.  I didn’t have time to double check the settings & prayed this would turn out so I could remember this moment forever.  Selfishly enough, my primary reason for wanting to photograph musicians I love is so that I can relive the experience.  If seeing the photos transports me back to the moment, I am satisfied.  Of course, it is also great when they take other people to that place too.  So, fan or foe, present at this show or not, here are a few other shots…


More photos will be added to my flickr

Thank you Dave Matthews Band for a weekend of beautiful music & reminding me of why I fell in love with you in the first place 🙂

All my life, you’re a friend of mine…

Ever since I was little, I wanted a hug from Clarence Clemons.  The sad news of his passing reached me in the middle of Jonathan Tiersten’s show in Philly.  He passed the guitar to Dave & an impromptu tribute was given.  As soon as we came home, I went to the record player & played “You’re A Friend of Mine” while dancing.  Since I have no words, please enjoy some of the beautiful tributes that were left outside The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ.

For the complete series, please visit my flickr page.

Rest in Peace, Clarence.

“Give me the fevers that just won’t break… Tell me ’bout the cool he sings you in those songs…”

For my birthday in June, I bought tickets to see The Gaslight Anthem at The Stone Pony on August 5, 2010 & tickets to see them play with Weezer at the Allentown State Fair (PA) on September 1.   With all of the Ticketmaster fees, this nearly bankrupted me but seeing concerts is always more fun than having good credit & paying student loans, right? 

So, the August show… was full of the Gaslight fans who really like to mosh & crowd surf.  This makes taking pictures & having a good time difficult.  Plus, during my favorite new song, “Bring It On,” the lady behind me decided to start a fight with the girls behind me – pushing, punching & homophobic words were all pleasantly shared.   As with the Terminal 5 show, I had some moments of wanting to never see them again live, through no fault of their own.  We started walking to the car during the first encore & realized that the sound was actually way better from there (it was an outdoor stage & the car was about 40 feet to the side of the stage) & I loved them again. 

the gaslight anthem stone pony summer stage

Cut to:
September 1 – Allentown

I thought for sure the crowd would be full of people to see both Weezer & The Gaslight Anthem.  I like  love them both, so why shouldn’t everyone?  Oh, that’s right because people today need to be told who to like.   The only thing that could have made this show better would be if some version of Big Star/The Posies were playing too.  (Weezer pics will be in a separate post)…

(c) conni freestone conn!

The Gaslight Anthem played a whirlwind set comprised of almost 20 of my favorite songs.  Since my last attempt at rocking out to “Bring It On” was a failure, this was the exact opposite.  When they started it, I let out a whooping scream that made those around me laugh.  Sorry for being excited.  What a crime!  It was SOOOO nice to be able to dance to these songs.  SOOOOO nice.   I even had the freedom to cry during “American Slang.”  I didn’t cry a lot but sometimes when I really get into it, my emotions get the best of me when he sings “We called for our fathers but our fathers had died…”  I love The Gaslight Anthem. 

brian fallon gaslight anthem by conn!

brian fallon gaslight anthem (C)conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

gaslight anthem (C) conn! freestone

Compared to other shows of theirs I have seen, I would rank this pretty high up there just based on being able to really rock out & sing along.  It was a bummer that more people around me didn’t seem very into it.  How can you hear these songs & not at least tap your foot?!   Not to mention that this incredible show was to be followed by Weezer!

The State Fair setting made it even cooler when they played “The Backseat” – “Come July, we’ll ride the ferris wheel, go round & round & round & if you never let me go, well I will never let you down…”

(C) conni freestone conn!

Technically speaking, my close proximity to the stage & the lack of flying feet into my head & camera (except for the last song) would have made this show pretty easy to shoot if I wasn’t so busy enjoying it.  Brian, Alex, Alex & Benny are all enjoyable to watch & highly photographable.   I did have some trouble making adjustments as the sun was setting, until they turned the big lights on.  See how technical I am with terms like “big lights…?”

“I always say my thank you’s but I don’t ever ask please…”

Wednesday night, 06.02.10,  our favorite female singer/bass player, Misha, had a show with her band, Grace Beats Karma at The Local 269 on East Houston (NYC).  Missing their drummer, it was just her & Eddy the guitar player.  I cannot even begin to tell you how much we love Misha.  She will be driving herself across the states (again) starting in July.  You should find her on facebook/myspace & go see her or watch her here.

As we were saying our goodbyes after the show, a guy entered the bar wearing a hat that said “Bass Master.”  I told Misha to steal it but we all agreed that he probably meant the bass that swims.

The day before was the only day I worked (for money, at my job) this week.  While that may sound like Heaven to most, such is not the case when there are bills to pay & summer shows to see.  I work much better (for free, on pictures & such) when I don’t have the added wonder of how long I will be able to not have to go back to waiting tables.  Oh, & the day I did work, was at our new lower pay & involved twice as much driving.  That being said, the one day I did work was most interesting & fairly enjoyable.  I spent the first half of the day with the top down, elated to be getting paid to drive around listening to good music.  I also let a small turtle cross the road.

The second half of my day began with me having to put the top up because of a rain shower.  Boooooo!  Then, I got hit by a deer which made me sad. 

While the speed limit on this road is 55mph, I along with four or five other drivers stopped because the deer was running back & forth across the four lanes running into cars!  My first thought was to get my camera out but I didn’t think to change the settings from the earlier sunny day shots and I couldn’t keep my eyes off her.  When she came running for my car, I didn’t know whether to move forward, get out & stop her (because I have all those years deer wrangling experience & it was quite possible that her mouth was agape with saliva dripping out because she was perfectly healthy) or just sit there.  I opted to just sit there as she rammed her body across my front fender into my passenger mirror.  I could see that she had many ticks embedded in her neck & she looked really sick, like she wanted me to help her but all I could do was call 911.  My car & I were fine save for some fur (hers not mine) & my broken heart.

My encounters with wildlife continued when I saw a group of three small birds having a gang bang.  Sorry to be blunt, but it was clear what was happening there.   I also saw a chipmunk & a groundhog in the backyard of one of the vacant properties (not having a gang bang).  That was all good.  I like animals of the furry sort.  I do not like snakes though.  The last time I saw one, I went running so quickly that I tripped & broke my camera.  Smart.  Well, I knew that walking through unmown wet grass in the more suburban areas would eventually lead to me seeing a snake & today was my unlucky day.  I don’t remember what color it was.  I just know that it was a snake & it was almost two feet long & I don’t want to talk about it.  After that, there were three separate down pours.  Each occurring after the radio weather people promised they were over.   

Also, one of my favorite record stores was closing when I got there but I did get the missing piece for the drumset (not that I am anywhere near caught up enough to practice).   Oh, I also saw this guy Wednesday on the way to NY.

I didn’t realize someone was in the SUV until I went to get a shot of him from the front & the driver said “What, is there something up there?”  “Yeah, a really cool seagull who keeps peeking in your moon roof.”  I expected him to look but he didn’t.  I would have.  He should have.  Appreciate the little things.  The seagull pooped on his car after that.  He deserved it.

This Saturday, Snowball 37 is playing at Crash Mansion.  You should come see them.  I borrowed an old movie poster to make this flier/flyer.