Monday, November 5, 2012

Frankenstorm Vs Halloween

Hows that for a Syfy Saturday Night title? Throw in NJ and you've got gold! Suffice to say, my birthplace of New York and my adopted home town of New Jersey has gotten its collective ass kicked by mother nature and just as we are picking up the pieces, I hear another storm is on the way. I'm currently soaking up the electricity at my Mom's place; a mere 10 minutes from my own dark home. There was no telling when my power would return and when I heard she had power..well..let's just say she would have had to have beaten me at the door with a broom stick to stop me from dropping in. We'd heard power was being restored to the south and as it moved up rt.35 it lit up Red Bank, then Freehold, then Hazlet...then skipped right over us and landed on Rahway.

This haphazard striking seemed to be the theme of this storm as some folks endured total devastation while others mere miles away didn't get so much as a flooded basement. Downtown New York City was engulfed in the 20 feet tidal surge while uptown, my friends Ted and Bev watched the tree out front slightly shimmy in the breeze. Route 35 was completely drivable 2 days later, yet along it's guardrails were boats stacked atop one another like some surreal and ridiculously expensive art installation. While we in the path of this storm were told to prepare...I have to say there was no practical way to prepare for what came next. In my little patch of Parlin, NJ, atop a bit of a mountain, we heard the winds howl and watched the rain come down sideways, but indicative of the townspeople's attitude, I saw two girls head out in the maelstrom toward the Quick Check and return minutes later with coffees. THAT my New Jersey. Sadly, as night came on, the power went poof. I'd thought my neighbor left his lights on all night by accident, thinking it was going to suck to be without power AND need a jump in the morning, but it turned out the genius hooked his house up to his car via a super long extension chord and rode the storm out in style. Again...New Jersey.

 I woke the next morning and knew full well the power wasn't coming back any time soon, so I grabbed my SONY Spidey-cam and went out to see how my town survived. At first glance, you couldn't really tell anything intense had happened. Sure, a few tree limbs lay about, but otherwise our cars were untouched and windows unbroken. The fakey spider-webs I'd left up in defiance still hung about my balcony as if to say "Fuck you storm, Halloween always wins." I decided to head down to the nearby lake because..why not. Here, you could see how this storm was like a giant, rampaging baby, knocking things over in some places...tearing others to shreds...and leaving the rest fairly untouched. Some trees appear tipped over from a monstrous shove while others look like something grabbed the top and twisted violently until it all came crashing down. I came out of the park and saw the street leading up to my development was closed off, but since there were no objections, I began the walk up hill. Street lights had been wrenched from their poles. Large trees lay splintered everywhere you looked. One such tree took out an electric pole..which probably was why we were without power. As I reached the top of the hill, I could only wonder what the rest of the state looked like and more importantly than my continued survival ..WHAT DID THIS MEAN FOR MY HALLOWEEN PLANS?!

Those that know me well know that every year I attempt to be a part of the NY Village Halloween Parade with the awesome Heather Buckley. Every year, something fucks that up. This year's natural disaster was a pretty good excuse to stay home and chill, but something inside me wouldn't let me pack it in. After all, Was this not the only apartment in the area with two pumpkins, a crap load of fakey spider-webs and gel blood writing on the windows?! I'd started the day gathering my supplies which consisted of two official "The Fog" flashlights, one awesome little LED flashlight (which was the only one I could find anywhere before the last storm), Peanut Butter and Jelly, Fried Chicken, a super pack of AAA batteries and a case of Ramen Noodles. If the water was to go out, I was going to wing it. Mom had gotten me two led light bars some weeks back and my search for the perfect battery powered, hand held light for shooting those toys at Toy Fair and Comic Con that weren't sufficiently lit..turned OCD.. led to a box of lights that didn't cut the mustard for their intended job, but sure did light up my apartment just fine. Pro Tip: A bike headlight is AWESOME in this capacity. Pro Tip 2: A strobing pumpkin light, while not great for lighting your house, can be used as a defensive weapon to blind a blackout creeper. And now you knoooow. I also had the NewTrent Large Capacity Portable Charger ThinkGeek had given me for San Diego Comic Con...which was still fully charged and ready to rock. I got about 8 charges out of that bad boy before it begged for power. It kept me in touch and online all through the blackout. Since I live in Sayerville and the town motto is clearly "What the fuck?", I had a nice pile of Trick r Treaters. Granted, some didn't even bother with costumes, but the ones that did got extra presents from me like Batman toys, My Little Pony crowns and Domo patches. Of course Avengers got Avengers tattoos. Apparently, I prepared more for Halloween that I did for the fridge going out. It was to be expected.

As the night came on and the kids went home, I decided my Halloween would not be ruined when Ted and Bev had a party to attend, stocked with all the delicious energy my phone could drink. The catch...they were in NY and my trip there would not be unlike the Warriors return to Coney Island..or so I pictured it in my head. My Casey Jones costume was all the more fitting! I geared up and headed for the Holland Tunnel..which was closed..and rerouted for the Lincoln. There is one road that goes from one to the other and unfortunately, it was a bit under water. I wondered why some people had abandoned their cars in the middle of the street before I realized ...OH! They floated there. That was the first time I got that "What the fuck am I doing out here" feeling. Some cars ahead of me braved the mini lake of a puddle and did OK, so I tried it myself and came out unscathed. There seemed to be nowhere to go but forward, and having traveled this road many times, I knew it lead right to the path station. This section of town looked like Vampires had attacked...and won...and left. The streets were bare...the lights were out...little sandbag posts were deserted...and in the distance you could see flashlights of people scurrying from hideout to hideout. Luckily my handy charging pod had boosted my phone before I left, so I booted up the navigation and listened as it continually told me to go down closed off roads. With every failed turn, you could hear the nav lady sigh with disgust at me. As I got further up Washington, the streets became more populated and everyone carried their own flashlight, blinking at cars who blinked back. I too found myself falling effortlessly into this sort of emergency morse code. After passing a gas station that looked to be manned by armed guards policing a line longer than 3 city blocks, I finally made it into the tunnel...and into the city..and uptown to Bev and Ted's place where nothing at all had happened. God gifted me with a parking spot on the corner and I slipped inside to enjoy Spanish Dracula, flavored Vodka and a baby who thought playing Cliffhanger off the side of the couches was the best idea ever. I asked if she would prefer to be Rooker or Stallone. She did not answer, but we played on all the same.

Halloween Always Wins.

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