So long summer vacation!


Grab a little summer before it’s gone


There’s still time!


Why Junglerock?

Several people have asked me (or made fun of me) why I use the twitter handle @Junglerock. I wish there was a dark and terrifying secret, some impenetrable mystery. However. the real reason is simple and boring. I needed a gmail address. All iterations of my name were taken. I needed one that wasn’t jetboy1999 or rocky123. So I started plugging in obscure band names, album and song titles and odd cultural references. After countless strikeouts Junglerock worked. It has pretty much become my user name for just about everything. So what is Junglerock? It’s just a killer old rockabilly song originally released in 1958 by Hank Mizell.

Hank might have disappeared completely, but the 70’s pub and punk rock scenes reintroduced people to rockabilly and several bands covered the song. I first heard it as a Replacements b-side buried on a 1987 German double 12′ single. The band changed the lyrics to “Bundle Up,” but it still shines through as rough and raucous.

The inimitable Mark E Smith and The Fall did a bizarro techno-rockabilly version on their 1997 album Levitate.

Possibly my favorite version is LA punk originals The Weirdos and their 1979 Bomp! Records version

Plenty of other folks have covered it, but I have wasted far too much time on explaining the story of Junglerock. Hank Mizell, The Replacements, The Fall and The Weirdos are far more interesting. Time for me to stop yapping and time for you to check out a version of Mr. Mizell’s classic.

Turf – For the Foursquare Obsessive who has Everything

Turf start page

Some might say I am a little bit obsessive with Foursquare … and that might be true. Yes, I have checked in everywhere and anywhere for the past 2 1/2 years. Yes, I spent an entire weekend in 2010 on a quest for badges (extensive blog post coming someday). Right away I loved the game mechanics and the perfect combination of curation, discovery and random serendipity of the location based app. I want each update to give me better tools to find the best dish on the menu, locate the coffee shop with free wifi and help me discover the secrets of every new neighborhood.

I love checking out new Foursquare apps and hacks that add to that experience. A favorite new one that I’ve discovered is called Turf (or fully Turf Geography Club). It started as a Kickstarter project and now you can find the app in the Apple App Store (coming to Android soon). I first read about it on Mashable earlier this month where Turf founder Michael Tseng called it “real-world Monopoly.”

Basically you earn coins and crystals for checking in and spend your loot on acquiring locations. Once you own a property you not only collect rent, but must maintain the properties and can develop them to add to their value. Watch out, other stealthy players will try and spin the wheel to nab your prized properties. Of course, you win trophies as you gain experience and add to your virtual real estate portfolio. Also, it seems like the game offers plenty of opportunity for the developers to add to the experience and make Turf even better.

Initially the user interface and learning curve offer a bit of a challenge, but a little gameplay and trial-and-error will have you navigating the app like a pro. Right now they aren’t that many people playing and since Twitter has been blocking apps from helping you discover your friends, it’s hard to find your people. However, I know a couple of fellow obsessives who are playing so it has been very fun so far. While I love Foursquare apps that are baked into the core app, Turf is a standalone app, but it’s worth your time to open it up and play real estate mogul. And the retro Ranger Rick/Smokey the Bear graphics are pretty cool indeed.

So I am calling on all Foursquare obsessives to check out Turf. Download the app and start buying up your neighborhood. I would love to see you there!

Dinosaur in Captivity


Belonging – Past, Present and Future


Today I visited the Hoboken Historical Museum for their excellent new exhibit I Belong: A History of Civic and Social Clubs in Hoboken. What was truly remarkable was how strong the need to belong to a group has been throughout the history of Hoboken.

More than 250 groups have bonded together in the Mile Square City going back to The Turtle Club, an organization dating back to 1796 initially dedicated to eating all the turtles on the west side of the Hudson. Freemasons, Elks, Oddfellows, theater groups, singing organizations and the ubiquitous social clubs all followed. Today, the Elks and many of the social clubs are still around as well as new groups dedicated to running, motorcycles, parenting, skiing, theater and more.

I had an interesting conversation with the curator, Bob Foster, about the impact of social media on Hoboken’s groups and organizations and on the museum itself. I introduced him to Fourstalgia and solved the mystery that had brought me to the museum in the first place.

Fourstalgia kept surfacing a vintage picture of the Quartett-Club whenever I checked in on Foursquare in uptown Hoboken. Where was this striking building and what was this club? It turns out that the club was a German American singing organization formed in the latter half of the 19th century and their hall was right next to the present day Elks Club on Washington between 10th and 11th. It became the Gayety Theater early in the 20th century and was unfortunately torn down in the twenties.

Throughout the exhibit the photos, stories, programs and memorabilia told a fascinating narrative of proud people uniting around common interests and fulfilling that strong basic need of belonging. We marvel at the power Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to attract millions of users, but sometimes forget how people have always come together to share stories, laughter, causes, passions and fellowship. Maybe we just have better tools today.

I love the power of social media and the ability to find my people, but wonder if gathering online adds or subtracts from our capacity to come together in the real world. What do you think?

Rainbow in the Fountain


Stick Your Head in the Fountain

My kids and I have a finely developed routine when we visit the doctor. Doctor appointment. Pet store. Chipotle. Cookies. It has been scientifically tested and approved over the last several years by our sub-committee of three.

A few weeks back we went in for annual physicals. Despite some pre-doctor trepidation concerning the possibility of shots (possibly fueled by dad), my two offspring were well behaved and looking forward to our post-appointment ritual. Both kids were determined by the pediatrician to be tall, skinny and healthy. Plus, there would be no shots this year.

We hastened on our way to the pet store to begin the no-shots celebration. Since I can remember we have visited the puppies in the window of a Sixth Avenue shop. Horror of horrors! The shop is closed and the puppies are gone. This threw our schedule off balance and our well-knit team began to unravel.

What started as sniping and teasing in Chipotle had become guerrilla warfare as we headed east on 8th Street to Insomnia Cookies. My son and daughter had turned against one another and both angry words and threats of violence passed between them.

With frowns and cookies we wandered into Washington Square Park. Our usually blissful meandering afternoon in the city had become a nasty forced march. By the fountain I sat down to negotiate a peace between the warring parties. The 90 degree plus heat and humidity wasn’t helping. One faction was sulking, while the other was exercising his vocabulary of borderline curse words.

Then something happened. The little one stuck her toes in the water. The older one kicked off his Crocs and stepped right in as well. Despite signs declaring the fountain off limits a few other kids had dared defy the law and were cooling their heels as well. Leave it to my kids to up the stakes and dash into the jets, soaking their clothes and encouraging cheers from the dozens around the edge of the water. Several other kids dashed in. I feebly protested, but the huge grins on my kids’ faces and the ensuing free-for-all silenced my inner hall monitor.

Shortly the recent enemies emerged from the mayhem they instigated, dripping, laughing and best friends once again.

My kids provide me with great lessons sometimes. It’s my job to teach them right from wrong, but they show me that occasionally you have to break the rules and be a kid to really enjoy life.

Lately when I get off the PATH train in Hoboken on a hot day I almost always head straight to Pier A Park and wet my face and head in the cold spray of the fountain. Yes, my shirt (and sometimes my bag, pants and shoes) gets wet and all the adults stare at the guy soaking his head in the water, but the joy, freedom and refreshment make it all worthwhile.

Go ahead. Stick your head in the fountain.


In Praise of Fourstalgia

One of my favorite new additions to Foursquare is Fourstalgia. It’s a very cool hack project built by Jon Hoffman @hoffrocket, an engineer at Foursquare.

When you connect the app your check-ins surface local historical photos through SepiaTown, a crowd sourced database of historical photos.

What’s awesome about Fourstalgia is both how simple and immediately rewarding it is. You get additive content that is completely relevant and it is built right into your Foursquare experience. If you want to share the photos you can tweet right from the app.

The only thing on my wishlist is additional historical information that tells me more about the pictures. You get a short description, but I need to know everything about the Quartette Club Hall in Hoboken right now.

Try it out and let me know what you think.