Duane Park: My First-Ever Burlesque Show Experience in New York City

Duane Park

My significant other wanted to do something special over the weekend and she decided to take me out to Duane Park on Bowery in Manhattan. She told me she went to this burlesque show for her cousin’s bachelorette party and enjoyed it. She also told me that it was the closest thing to her taking me to a strip club.

And she was right in one way and wrong in another. She was right in that there were 6 seductive performers on stage showing everything outside of their nipples and genitals. They each has pasties on and disrobed as they went through their act. Some of them sang, some of them talked comedy and others did a more complex dance routine. All of them were very talented.

She was wrong in that it didn’t feel like a strip club to me, even one that is classier. It was definitely more upscale than that scene and the food & drink selection was dynamite. Here’s a look at what I (I mean we) ate.

Adams Apple Gypsy Rose Lee British Blonde

Duane Park Course 1: Drinks

Once we arrived at Duane Park, we decided to go to the bar while our food was being prepared. We shared 3 different drinks, though we drank more than just 3. The first one was my favorite: the Adam’s Apple, which consists of apple-infused whiskey, apple cider, maple & thyme. There was a really unique flavor to this one and was appropriate for the season.

The second is the Gypsy Rose Lee, which consists of gin, rose syrup, lime, muddled rose & green apple, and was pretty good though I’m not a huge gin person. The last one is British Blonde, a cocktail with vodka, cocchi americano, matilde peche & lemon that doesn’t resemble any of the blondes I met in London. But it was still pretty flavorful, though my least favorite of the 3 ironically since I’m a vodka guy.

Duane Park Tuna Tartare Roasted Shrimp

Duane Park Course 2: Appetizers

I worked up an appetite looking at the menu. While they had octopus and figs with goat cheese & prosciutto as 2 appetizer choices, we would up wanting to share 2 items, the first being tuna tartare with a side of tahini sauce and long sesame tuilles that was very refreshing.

The second item was much more interesting: roasted shrimp. That might sound boring by itself, but the shrimp were cooked well and came with 2 side items: Georgia cheese grits and garlic sauce. Combining cheese and garlic is always a sure-fire way to enhance any food item and it worked here with perfection.

Duane Park Apple Cider Glazed Salmon Pan Roasted Organic Chicken

Duane Park Course 3: Dinner

By this point, I was ready for dinner. I love fish and don’t have it often as I like, but seeing apple-cider salmon on the menu really perked up my taste buds and it did not disappoint. The fish has nuts on it, as did the side salad that came on the plate and that combination was heavy enough to feel like dinner, yet light enough to leave room for dessert.

As was the pan-roasted organic chicken. This moist & delicious piece of meat was served with a starch I didn’t recognize by look or taste and broccoli rabe. The vegetable was the only flaw on the plate in my opinion since I’m not a fan of how bitter broccoli rabe is and would have definitely preferred some sort of heavier sauce to muddle that flavor profile.

Duane Park Banana Upside Down Cake Pumpkin Cheesecake

Duane Park Course 4: Dessert

I’m rarely one to indulge on dessert, but this night was one time I made an exception. Seeing banana upside down cake on the menu was intriguing and the flavor of it made my night. I don’t like very sweet treats and the cake itself was moist (thanks in part to the delicious sauce and hint of pineapple) and not too overly sweet.

I didn’t eat the dessert my significant other got, but if I have devoured this pumpkin cheesecake if I were a fan of cheesecake. Just look at how good it looks between the cinnamon crumbles, nice portion of whipped cream and that sauce that looks like it would wake you up & motivate you to drive home.

My overall experience at Duane Park was such a good time between the food and the burlesque show performance that it was worth the struggle to find parking in New York City, specifically in the Bowery area. I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you’re looking for an excuse to wear a suit.

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Sticks Cigars in Rahway NJ: Going to My 1st-Ever Cigar Bar

Sticks Cigars Rahway NJOn a special occasion like celebrating a life event, I like to have a cigar. It’s once in a blue moon, but I do enjoy it from time to time.

I’ve never been to a cigar bar in my life, but was excited when my friend Jon wanted to do one for his bachelor party in NYC in 2014.  Unfortunately, a couple of people in our group were wearing shorts and the dress code was pants only… so no luck.

But it wouldn’t be until over 3 years later when I got an opportunity to go to a cigar bar near me. It was actually accidental since me and my significant other were going to a Cuban restaurant in Rahway NJ when we stumbled across Sticks Cigars.

Turns out, it’s a cigar bar that just opened like 2 months ago and we decided to go in since we wanted to try something different. We were properly greeted by a woman named Emily who gave us a tour of the establishment that included lockers that you could rent out for a yearly fee and an outside area.

We wound up sitting inside in comfortable chairs as the cigars they had in stock were explained to us. I wound up leaving to grab a bottle of wine since it is a BYOB with a glass fee. When I got back, we enjoy 2 different cigars with our wine: one mild one made for 1st-time smokers like her and one a little more robust.

Overall, Sticks Cigars gave me (and my significant other) a very fun experience with a helpful & nice staff. We’ll definitely visit again and I recommend going there if you’re looking for a cigar bar in the Rahway, New Jersey area that offers a budget-friendly smoke and an intimate atmosphere with a big screen TV.

Business Card Count: 36,449

How It Feels to Get Pseudo-Evicted From My Apartment

Well, I was given 2 months notice to move out of my apartment. My living situation is a little bit complicated.

You see, I live in the basement of a house and I pay rent to the landlord who is a mother living with her son and boyfriend. 2 separate people, just to avoid any confusion.

The house is owned by a married couple in their 80s who I’ve never met. They have decided to put the house on the market, which has created upheavel.

Kenneth Kawash Eva Mok

Realtors have been coming frequently, such as Eva Mok from Next Age M3 Realty. She was speaking in an Asian language (I don’t want to sound ignorant by saying the wrong country or dialect) to her client & both were polite.

The complications come in when my landlord doesn’t get notice and people just show up, like an incident of them walking in as she was getting out of the shower.

Eventually, my landlord got fed up and said she can’t live like this and was moving out by September 1st. I did get almost 60 days notice, which is nice.

I was planning to move, so the stars aligned. But I was still mad though since I didn’t like how I couldn’t control my fate. I felt that way in my marriage and would have liked the option to be the one to say “I’m done” instead of being pseudo-evicted.

It feels like I got laid off at home, which has happened to me twice already in my work career. It really felt like I was getting some secondary treatment though the notice was a good amount of time.

I’ll talk about the move itself in another blog post in the near future.

Business Card Count: 35,915

How Therapy With Tery Gerard Michaud Helped Change My Life

Tery Gerard MichaudAt this time last year, my life was very much in flux. Admittedly, I felt like my life was spiraling out of control.

Between a failed/failing marriage, living paycheck to paycheck and feeling like I’ve lost my identity, I knew I needed help. That’s when I decided to get therapy.

I called up my health insurance provider and got a list of local therapists in my area. I chose Tery Gerard Michaud because she specialized in divorce and that was the most pertinent change in my life.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but going through it and picturing it are 2 different things. That’s because you don’t fantasize about the gradual progress you make. You also don’t think about the emotional strain it takes to talk about your shortcomings and, specifically for me, that there are certain aspects you can’t control since you can’t make someone do something.

I’m keeping this mostly vague since my therapy sessions with Tery Gerard Michaud are nobody’s business except my own. But I did take away a lot from my sessions. One main takeaway was that I was not as confident as I felt like I was, factoring in love, work and other passions in my life.

I’ve also learned not to judge books by their cover, so I no longer jump the gun when I see something. There’s always an explanation, no matter how illogical it seems to us. I know my choices over the past year astound some people, but I’m doing what makes me happy and not trying to satisfy others.

After almost a year, I decided that my need for therapy lessened exponentially when living in a new home by myself and starting a monogamous relationship with a new significant other. Tery Gerard Michaud gave me a yellow sheet of paper with a few mantras I look to when I feel down.

  • I am strong, I am confident.
  • I am genuine.
  • I am starting over with someone who appreciates me.
  • A new company will be lucky to have me. I’m good at what I do. I work hard & have much to offer.
  • Now, I’m free to pursue my dreams.

I’m grateful for the therapy I did with Tery Gerard Michaud and I’m taking that experience with me for the 2nd half of my life. I’m still growing and gradually reducing my flawed points to have a minimal impact on my life.

Business Card Count: 35,774

Somerset Patriots vs Bridgeport Bluefish: My 1st Minor League Baseball Game

Somerset Patriots vs Bridgeport Bluefish

I’ve been to plenty of baseball games in my time: the Mets, the Yankees, little league. Hell, I’ve even been to some spring training games when vacationing in Florida as a kid. Not to mention my dad’s softball league when he was part of a team called Top 40, where all of the players were over 40.

But, I went to my 1st-ever minor league baseball game over Memorial Day weekend between the Somerset Patriots and the visiting Bridgeport Bluefish with Jess & the kids. It was a fun afternoon/evening out with nice seats right behind home plate. They sold one of my favorite alcoholic beverages at the stadium, Not Your Father’s Root Beer, along with a variety of food such as ice cream (soft serve and flash frozen Dippin’ Dots style), Oreo churros, cheesesteaks and more (most of which I did not eat though I would have if I was hungry).

In between each inning, they had a number of shenanigans with the most notable being a race between a carrot, apple & another piece of produce, kids racing on horses, kids rolling up a buddy in a carpet & rolling them back out and my favorite: shaving cream, bug spray and sunscreen racing to put cans in a recycling bin that turned into a wrestling match. The night ended with the home team winning 5-1 and fireworks. A fun time was had by all.

Where The Business Cards Come In

Allied Wealth Partners Martinsville NJThe part of the story where business cards are associated are the vendors I saw. Apparently, minor league teams like the Somerset Patriots and perhaps even the Bridgeport Bluefish at their home stadium have local businesses pay for space to get in front of a diverse audience of baseball lovers.

The first one is Allied Wealth Partners out of Martinsville NJ. They had a couple of advisers on hand to I assume help people in need of keeping track of their finances. I would venture to guess that you must have some money if you can plop down for a minor league baseball game.

I can see how that can make sense.

Seton Hall ROTC Pirate BattalionThe second one is for Seton Hall University. But not for the school: it’s for their ROTC Pirate Battalion program. As I approached the table, the national anthem came on and the two reps turned around right away & saluted the flag as it played… while I snagged their business cards in between God Bless America and the Star-Spangled Banner.

I also see the logic in a university military program setting up shop at a minor league baseball game. I’m sure there are potential high school students who would consider serving their country and like baseball, America’s pasttime.

There were other vendors at the Somerset Patriots vs Bridgeport Bluefish game, but they didn’t have business cards. I’d definitely go to another game in the future between the nice weather, fun atmosphere and great company.

Business Card Count: 35,749

Working Out at the YMCA Aquatic & Family Center: Orlando Part 3

YMCA Aquatic Family Center Orlando FLWorking out is important to me, even when I’m away. That’s why I was happy to find out that there was a YMCA Aquatic & Family Center located right next to my hotel: the Orlando Metropolitan Resort. And it was free because I was staying at that hotel.

I walked into the gym and was greeted by signing in. After that, I walked in and saw that it looked like a typical gym ala Planet Fitness… just without the judgment-free zone jargon and free pizza. There was one of every piece of equipment, which was more than adequate for my workout.

That day, I chose to do arms because it was the quickest workout and I was with a friend. I didn’t want to be that guy who took too long, but I did want to burn some calories. It was a good workout and I did some core afterwards.

The only regret I have is not bringing a bathing suit to Orlando. Not only was the weather great, but the YMCA had a HUGE pool with an open-air atmosphere and loads of Olympic-sized lanes for swimming laps. If I ever go back there, I’d love to take a swim in there and have a longer workout.

I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’ve never been to a YMCA before, but I had an enjoyable workout. I was expecting something with not-the-best equipment and maybe an aerobics class set to some oldies.

I’m not ashamed of that joke. Or to blast the Village People at full volume while driving slowly through a rough neighborhood.

Business Card Count: 35,125

Some Quality Brother Time and Mexican Food in Poughkeepsie

Mexican Restaurant Poughkeepsie NYIt’s always good to spend time with family, but it’s usually for a family gathering so it’s a lot of moving parts in a very finite window of time. This time around, I got some 1-on-1 time with my brother since his wife was away on business.

I arrived to his house in Poughkeepsie, New York Friday night and we talked a lot about life over some good BBQ (they didn’t have a business card, so no free plug though I thoroughly enjoyed the Billy Cheesesteak and New England clam chowder) & played video games.

The next day is when some more fun started after sleeping for a while and also watching some TV. I went to school at Marist College up in Poughkeepsie and I actually saw the updates made to my campus, including the destruction of my sophomore housing where a famed message was left by me on my friend Jon’s voicemail falsely implicating my other friend Jerry causing the fire alarm to get pulled.

That was not the only place I went.

El Azteca Mexican Deli

El Azteca Mexican DeliWe went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant called El Azteca, which triples as a grocery store and a DVD market. It was a bit confusing at first since we weren’t sure whether to order at the counter or sit & get served.

I ultimately decided on a taco salad with chipotle chicken, cheese, lettuce, black beans, queso fresco, pico de gallo and guacamole inside of a taco shell. It’s one of the better Mexican salads I’ve ever had and I’ve enjoyed so much Mexican food over the years. I’d definitely go to El Azteca again.

Locust Grove

Locust GroveA real highlight of the trip was going to Locust Grove. For those who don’t know, it’s the house that Samuel Morse is most known for living in and it’s turned into something of a tourist attraction.

The private organization that owns the land kept it as historical accurate to when the Young family moved there in the early 1900s as possible and the posh lifestyle in that time was quite interesting from the rooms in the house to some of the “advanced technology” used during the time period.

We also hiked the trails to get some nice nature views including a great one of the Hudson River. Not to mention seeing some of Samuel Morse’s inventions, art (he painted before he invented the telegraph) and products inspired by him like 2 antique board games I’d be curious to play.

All in all, it was quite the fun experience. I hope to spend some more frequent quality family time together in the future… though the stack of business cards I’d get would be smaller… womp womp womp.

Business Card Count: 33,885

Ron Snipes Birthday Bash: My First Multicultural Comedy Show

Comedy Show Perth Amboy NJIf you couldn’t tell by my photo (which is from my most recent birthday bash), I’m quite white. I’m probably the whitest person I know and I once met Casper.

I put the Caucasian in Caucasian. Okay, I’ll stop now.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not as entertained by Hispanic comedians like George Lopez or black comedians like Chris Rock for whatever reason, but I recently went to the Ron Snipes Birthday Bash since a friend of mine knew the man who was being honored on this night.

Ron Snipes Birthday Bash

And I’ll also admit that I was skeptical going in that I wouldn’t really get a lot of the humor being portrayed. And I must say that there were parts I couldn’t related to from all 5 comedians who performed at the Ron Snipes Birthday Bash.

However, I could appreciate the humor since I was surrounded by the laughter of others with the few jokes I didn’t exactly get and there were a good amount of jokes and plays on words that I found humorous. They all brought me into a world where I can imagine their hypothetical situations happening in real life.

Among the comedians who gave a set were Marshall Brandon, Edgar Rivera and Ruperto Vanderpool. I honestly don’t know who was who except by the order they went in, but their topics varied across the board. I must say I truly enjoyed myself and would do it again if asked, especially if they served a buffet like this event did (with meatballs, rice, roasted chicken, hot wings & carbs I opted out of).

The only other comedy club I went to was in NYC for my friend Jon’s bachelor party. That was funny as well, though the funniest moment was when my other friend Jerry hit one menu and it started a domino effect into another menu, into my glass of wine and landing splat onto my pants. Funny times.

I spoke with the host/guest of honor and Ron seemed like a good person, as were the other comedians on hand for the after party.

Business Card Count: 33,733

I Almost Went to Grad School at Adelphi University

Adelphi University Grad SchoolBack to school is here… and for my niece Taylor, it’s her first time going to school. And for a time, I considered going to graduate school.

It was late 2007 or early 2008 after graduating college and I was really unhappy with my life. I was living with my mother’s basement (the stereotypical “loser” cliche) and working a horrible job in the deli department at a King Kullen. The job market sucked and I thought I was destined for better.

That’s when I started researching graduate schools that had good English programs that were local and I decided to go to an open house at Adelphi University.

After sitting for like 3 hours listening to Adelphi professors and administration speak about the English program, it seemed intriguing. Then, I forgot that I really didn’t like school. And I didn’t really have money for more school. No desire, no money, no school.

It was in June 2008 when I started my first full-time job, so I wasn’t waiting long for work. Until I got laid off in March 2009 and couldn’t find a job for 2 years because of the recession.

Do I regret not pursuing grad school at Adelphi University or elsewhere? No, because I wouldn’t be where I am now if I had. I would have lived with my mother in the basement for longer and would not have grown as a person in the same way.

Though, I would have probably dropped out once I got the job anyway, but maybe I would have gone to another grad school in NJ.

Business Card Count: 33,506

I Got Poison Ivy & Went to Doctor’s Office Urgent Care

Poison Ivy AllergyIf there’s one thing to know about me, I have a severe allergy to poison ivy. So severe that I was once hospitalized since half of my face was oozing orange within 3 days.

This time wasn’t as bad, though my face is marked up red on my forehead, throughout my eye and on the tip of my nose. My eye was also swollen shut, which is when I decided to go to The Doctor’s Office Urgent Care location in Manalapan, New Jersey.

Doctor's Office Urgent Care Manalapan NJ

I got there right after 8:00 am when they opened up since I wanted to ensure I could get in and out so I could go back to work. I took a sick day the previous day and I worked from home on this day. But let’s talk more about my visit to The Doctor’s Office Urgent Care.

It was typical urgent care treatment, except I didn’t have to wait too long since I was one of the first people there. The doctor gave me a shot and some pills that I took. I still have a little bit of a rash and will probably see another doctor about it, perhaps not Doctor’s Office Urgent Care since urgent cares could run more expensive than a regular doctor.

I have some other reasons to see the doctor, but I enjoyed going to the urgent care. The only other time I went to an urgent care was to get my elbow drained since I dinged it at some point wrestling. It definitely beats going to the emergency room if your ailment is not dire. I’d definitely go to The Doctor’s Office Urgent Care in Manalapan again.

Business Card Count: 32,998