Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bicycling Hall of Fame

I attended my local county's Freeholder meeting last night. First, I attended the budget session asking the public for input on the County Budget. Like everywhere, next year will be a very challenging year for the county as well as the state and nation. Real Estate is down, (duh, all markets are down) so the county's revenue is also way down which makes an interesting situation ahead.

However, after the budget meeting, I also attending the regular freeholder public meeting. I found it interesting to know that Morristown, NJ is pursuing the opportunity to house the Bicycling Hall of Fame. Who knew, Morristown, NJ could eventually be the home of such a thing. The ironic part is that it currently is in Somerville, NJ. Another small great NJ town.

While there were no discussions of Morris County Freeholder pledging funding support, they all agreed to support in principle alone. A council person from Morristown was there to plea her case to the County.

Another town in the running is Madison, WI.

It will be interesting to see which hometown wins out. Stay Tuned.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Reflecting on 250

About 8 years ago I was working at a big Marketing & Communications company in Morristown NJ. A writer from Santa Fe, Bryan Minogue worked there as well and we had been pretty good friends since he had started at the agency. We both shared a love of odd things, history, ghost stories and useless trivia. I had been taking willing victims on road trips of all the local bizarre haunted railroad tracks, supposed Satanic or occult Churches and glowing graveyards since High School. Bryan was doing the same thing 2000 miles away growing up in New Mexico.

Working as a producer I had an intense interest in independent films, cable access TV and other creative outlets to consume the little free time I had. Of course it just so happened so did Bryan. We immediately started talking one day about the "Jackson Whites" of the Ramapo Mountains. This was a sad tale that bordered on being racist. It involved the Mountain People along the Appalachian Trail in Northern New Jersey. The term "Jackson Whites" supposedly from "Jacks & Whites" and referred to the clan being the offspring of freed slaves, Indians and whites. Much of this is most likely untrue and is resented by the Ramapough Lenape Nation are the real "Jackson Whites". Bryan immediately wrote a short documentary script and we agreed to make some cool documentaries on interesting subjects. We didn't know what we were attempting to do but just wanted to tell our tales.

A year later we ended up with a local public access show and Website called "Hometown Tales". We first started airing at midnight Monday Nights on Patriot 8 Cable in Central New Jersey. Eventually we would spread out to much of the state and some neighboring states as well. Being our audience was generally in the New Jersey area we stuck to producing shows about local subject despite being dedicated to tales from around the world on our website. (Despite the early Weird NJ comparisons, we were always about Tales from around the World before there even was a Weird US). It was tons of fun and we enjoyed being recognized locally by people in stores or on the street. Of course it was a lot of work. Bryan and I always talked about other things we could do with Hometown Tales and being that I was a former DJ, I naturally suggested we try a radio show too. We both had full-time jobs and other lives so this was something we probably talked more about than actually pursued. But then one day that all changed.

I saw an article online in December of 2004 about Adam Curry, former MTV VJ, who had begun "podcasting". Essentially he was creating a downloadable radio show for people to listen to "on-demand". I didn't sleep for weeks. I was researching how to write my own XML code record our own show. I downloaded these crazy aggregators (before iTunes had that option) for RSS feeds and struggled creating my own feed. Finally at 2 am on a cold February night, I successfully created my own Podcast. It was just me saying a couple of things as a test but it worked. I wanted to jump, scream and tell the world but there was no one awake to tell. By March of 2005 Bryan and I were hosting the "Hometown Tales Podcast". We flooded the discussion boards on Podcast Alley and begged friends to vote for our show on podcast sites. We were one of the first 1700 podasts on the Podcast Alley directory, broke the Top 10 Podcasts on the site and were getting tons of emails from listener all over the world within weeks. It was so freakin' cool.

Now here we are - 250 shows later. We've received nearly 1 million listener emails, we are averaging thousands of thousands of listeners and we even broadcast on actual Radio Stations. And we've outlasted half of the "podcasts" that were around when we began. I thought it would be fitting to list some of the highlights over 250 shows that I have been absolutely & unbelievably honored to be a part of.

- BBC Nod
In 2005 "Podcast" was the buzz word of the year so every media outlets was doing a story. Luckily the BBC was turned on to us thanks to our friend Len from Jawbone Radio (Ha Ha Len we got to 250 before you). They chose Hometown Tales and some other notable shows as one of the "Best Independent Podcasts". That was pretty cool and the kind of thing we've been milking for years. Of course whenever we are on the iTunes home screen we get pretty excited too. That's happened twice.

- Bigfoot with Bibb
When I look back, I realized how many Podcasts were on top of the world in 2005 and how many of them have completely disappeared. One of them was Bibb and Yaz take over the world.
They were both New Jersey guys and we had exchanged posts on forums but then it go serious when Bibb asked us to come out to PA on a bigfoot hunt with him. He used to go to a mountainous spot as a child and there were always bigfoot sightings. So we agreed to meet this complete possibly psychotic stranger in the middle of nowhere. Bryan wore a mixed martial arts shirt to help create the illusion that the guys from Hometown Tales couldn't be easily duct taped and potato sacked in an abandon ditch off the side of a road. It must have worked because Bibb was quite fun and we had a blast forcing him to barrel down dirt roads in his brand new truck. I believe the overgrown trees scraped the bejesus out of his vehicle. And we all made it home alive. It turns out Bibb thought we were going to kill him and leave his body in a ditch as well.

-Salmon in Seattle
I'm listing some individual items over the last 250 Hometown Tales Podcast & Radio shows but there truth is there is an overarching theme. Without sounding like a total loser, the coolest thing has been meeting people. We've met a lot of good friends who started out as listeners. It's cool to announce that we'll be in such and such city or state and then have someone email us to meet for a quick beer or burger. And so far no one has been psycho. The biggest highlight though was when I was in Seattle and arranged to meet the legendary Paul "Fruit Trees". I do believe Paul has been a listener since day 1 and most importantly has probably emailed nearly every day since we began.

- Into Battle
While Hometown Tales "covers" the world, there is something about small town Americana that always seems special. Generally, I like my country and I think Bryan does too. I still love a conspiracy theory or two and love to blame the big bad government for anything I can. Regardless of that, I truly have an utmost respect for those serving in the military. We love getting an email from any listener but its very special when we get an email from someone in the armed services. Since our podcast began we've had people write in and say they've listened to Hometown Tales on a ship in the persian gulf, on an airplane about to jump out for a training mission and relaxing in barracks in several states and countries. Again, we are so grateful that anyone listens to us, but just hearing from 1 of them makes up for any time we spend on our show. Thank you.

- Recognition
So I'll steal this one from Bryan, occasionally I've had a neighbor or friend of a friend notice me from the TV show but Bryan gets recognized by people in the Apple Store. That's freaking cool

- Turning down a President?
I also enjoy American History and really get into presidential history. I take pride being able to name all the presidents back to Cleveland's first term at the drop of a hat (OK, sometimes I have to think a little), and can probably get the rest of them if I take some time. That being said, I enjoy politics but Bryan and I make every attempt to keep any political persuasion out of our show. I'm pretty "independent" and I think Bryan is too. Truth is, Politics is all spin. Both sides have some good points and some bad too. Therefore it was an easy decision to turn down a sponsorship offer from a Presidential Candidate. I'm sure other "podcasters" had that opportunity too. Through Libsyn we were offered a sponsorship from "Obama 08". Nothing against the guy but I think it's fair to say, we weren't interested endorsing any candidate. In fairness to Obama, we would have turned down McCain too. But come on John, you could have at least asked. Aren't they both from an alien race plotting to subjugate all earth anyway?

- The Contests
The first was auctioning off a sponsorship on our show. An eventual fellow podcaster won. Haunted New Jersey won the auction for something like a $100 bucks. And most glorious we've even been mentioned in books about Podcasting for that stunt. Another eBay auction was insane. Three attractive women from Los Angeles won an auction to spend the night with Hometown Tales and our former sponsor HNJ. Of course, a couple of drinks later and they were not so happy at me for dressing up like a ghost. Regardless it was highly entertaining.

But most of all it has been really cool having listeners, having folks write in about their town's tales, strange foods, odd experience or just saying "hi". That has been the best part of all 250. So thanks to all of those for reading, listening and sharing. Here's to another 250 !

Reflecting on 250

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Presidential Fun

What a month of television. First the Olympics, then the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention. Unfortunately, no channel covered the Ron Paul Convention and H. Ross Perot doesn't run for president anymore. If that were the case I'd never get any sleep from all the late night television.

If you follow Hometown Tales, you might know that both Bryan (co-host and co-creator of Hometown Tales) and I are big fans of history. Admittedly this is as a hobby and we are far from experts. I am also a huge fan of American Presidents. I somewhat pride myself in being able to rattle off all the presidents back to at least Grover Cleveland's first term. So the presidential election is usually pretty exciting TV. This year, we even had the privilege to turn down a Presidential Candidate as a sponsor for Hometown Tales. We were asked if we would run a sponsor spot for Barrack Obama. Ok, so Obama himself didn't Skype me and beg for some ad time but as part of Wizzard Media's ad program we were "approached" as I'm sure many Podcasts and Vidcasts were. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against Obama. But I think anyone who listens to Hometown Tales would agree that we have no business endorsing a political position or person. However, what I will gladly do is ramble off some fun "hometown tale"-like political anecdotes and facts about American Presidents. And these are facts I actually know on my own, not just swiping it from some Presidential Trivia page. I hope I'm right.

- Since 1900 only 2 Presidents have come directly from a Senate seat to the Presidency. Both John McCain and Barrack Obama could do the same.

- Teddy Roosevelt was the youngest president to ever hold office at age 42, John F. Kennedy was the youngest elected at age 43.

- Honest Abe Lincoln was the tallest president at 6"4'.

- George Washington grew marijuana on his farm and was an advocate of it's use as hemp and a soil stabilizer.

- Fourteen presidents were freemasons (neither Obama or McCain are)

- George Washington also introduced the mule to America.

- President Gerald Ford was the only President to never be elected. He was appointed as Vice President during Nixon's term then took over after Nixon resigned. Sounds like a great conspiracy.

- President George Washington was the only President to actually suit up and command federal troops into conflict during his presidential term. This was during the Whiskey Rebellion. Read more here.

- President Andrew Jackson was the only President to deliberately ignore a ruling by the Supreme Court. This resulted in the "Trail of Tears" and the removal of Native Americans from the Eastern United States. Countless documents and treaties, some signed by George Washington, were produced by representatives for the tribes. These treaties granted Native Americans the right to remain in U.S. territory.

- Eighth President, Martin Van Buren was the first to offer a Executive interview to a reporter.

- Camp David was established by Dwight Eisenhower and named after his grandson.

- Both John F Kennedy and Abe Lincoln were elected to congress 100 years apart, both were elected president 100 years apart, both last names contain 7 letters and both were shot on a friday in the head. Lincoln's secretary was named Kennedy and Kennedy's named Lincoln.

For more Presidential Fun Check out "HT RADIO SHOW #93 The Bell Witch and Other Presidential Hauntings"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Do You Remember U68?

This was the greatest channel ever.  It was a Music Video Channel on UHF television.   I remember staying up late to watch the Metal Power Hour and then the channel would go off the air.  They even played the national anthem when they went off the air.

It was an independent station (sort of) that would eventually be bought, sold, changed, etc...   It was a very sad day when it became a Home Shopping Channel.   I remember me and neighborhood friend Darren Weins used to call our local cable company and just say "put U68 back on !!" and hang up .   It was our version of "I want my MTV".  (BTW U68 played much better videos).   Meanwhile, it turned out the actual station WWHT became Home Shopping so it had nothing to do with the cable company.  Enjoy this classic U68 Promo

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Let's Get Back to the Real Bigfoot

At Hometown Tales, we often discuss Bigfoot.   The legend of Sasquatch is a staple of any urban legend and folklore discussion.   Of course, Bigfoot is getting headline news again (as he does every 3-6 months) because of the supposed body that has been found in Georgia.   BTW, its a fake,  the guys who found it pull this tall heap of malarky every couple of years.  Don't get me wrong I'd love to be wrong but it's probably a bunch of donkeychips.

So all this hype over Bigfoot got me thinking back to the good ole' days in the 70s when Bigfoot was even hotter.   Everybody was talking Bigfoot then.  And long before he was a Pizza and a Monster Truck he was a character on the Six Million Dollar Man (which by itself was the greatest TV show with the greatest TV theme music ever).   Too make it better they added a "bigfoot" character.   To make it even "more better", Bigfoot was played by Andre the Giant at first.   Unfortunately it didn't ever get to "most better" because Bigfoot ended up being a robot and I think he even started to talk later in the series.   However, the first appearance on the SMDM was truly classic.   Perhaps if Fonzie encountered Bigfoot instead of jumping a tank filled with sharks we'd still be watching Happy Days.

Enjoy this classic trip down TV lane.   (Just ignore the crappy "" super on the video, -don't you hate it when people do that?  Are we supposed to credit this masterpiece of TV theater to some dumb kid who registered the URL ""?)

How Embarrassing

In full disclosure,  I am not a fan of the Today Show.   I am a GMA guy.   I just can't connect to any of the Today Show cast and I don't like the way the studio is set up.   However, I have been watching it recently because I've been really into the Olympics and obviously NBC has more of the athletes and stories from Bejing than the other morning shows..

So I'm not really a big fan of Matt Lauer or Al Roker but what I saw this morning was just ridiculous.   They had a segment of Al and Matt performing Rhythmic Gymnastics.   It was so bad and I was so embarrassed for them.  They have just destroyed all cred.  Matt Lauer should never ben in sweat pants and Al Roker should never be in a onezie (sp?). Take a look for yourself

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Movies to Watch Down the Shore

I love "Top 10 Lists". And I love to make my own top 10 lists of things I like. But, truth is I don't always have ten and I also have trouble putting them in a favorite order. That being said,  no other "title" really works. "Gene's Top _______ list" is lame. "Top 5 or 6" is even lamer so here is my Top 10 Movies to Watch Down the Shore, except it's not 10 but it is in order. And I do love going to the shore in the summer.


Ok, it's not great but good beach scenes.


Dudley Moore, Bo Derek. Isn't this a natural choice? I don't know why except I remember Dudley Moore falling down a cliff onto the beach and of course the famous Bo Derek running scene. This just evokes summer to me. Probably because I saw it while sneaking to my neighbors and they were watching it on HBO during the summer. I was definitely young and remember it was the first time where I comprehended how a girl could be "hot". I didn't think Bo Derek was pretty like some of the girls in my 2nd grade class but I understood that whatever she was, that term I would hear my older brothers say ("hot") just seemed to work.


This came out in the 80s and was so bad it was good. A horrible being beneath the sand was pulling people under and killing them. I think the tag line was something like "This summer you won't make it to the water" with an obvious reference to JAWS. Cheesy 80s Horror and It also had "Paulie" from Rocky.


This is like the Karate Kid goes surfing. Actually shouldn't The Karate Kid be on this list too? I mean they do have that beach party. Plus Macho Machio kicks the soccer ball around on the beach with Elizabeth Shue. Ok so back to North Shore, It's a classic. Kid comes to Hawaii from Arizona thinking he's a surfer and ready for the North Shore. He has a lot to learn and luckily gets an apartment or room right next to a Miyagi sort of dude, I mean a true "soul surfer". This Guru teaches him the real ways of the North Shore. Plus Nia Peebles is in the movie and how about this for a bonus- she has a song on the soundtrack too. Watchout.


see above. I convinced myself


I think this started the whole philosophy that sequels are never as good as the original. But this one was so close. I can picture some big Hollywood executives sitting in a room brainstorming how to make JAWS 2 better. Obviously the natural conclusion was to have "more shark" and more shark "killings", which they did. But I love that someone thought. "How can we make the monster scarier?, I got it , lets scatter him with gruesome burn scars" So they added the big explosion scene to give JAWS a messed up face. Now Amity Island is not only being stalked by a giant killer shark but a giant killer shark with burn trauma. Classic ! I am a huge JAWS anything fan. (I've even seen JAWS: The Revenge, aka JAWS 4, a million times) So i've decided to put a top 10 within a top 10. I know brilliant, right.


10 - There's no Hooper so there's way too much of Deputy Hendricks.

9 - Littlest Brody kid, Sean, was a little gay in JAWS 2.

8 - The scene of Shark Fin "heading towards the island" (Spielberg would have never shot that).

7 - Miss Amity, "Tina" was in way too many scenes. She saw the boat blow up, found the dead whale carcass, JAWS eats her Bo, She goes in shock. Can't someone else have some fun.

6 - Too much Chief Brody "Looking Out to the Ocean Like I'm Going to Get You JAWS" Scenes. (I think there is at least 3)

5 - JAWS eating the Helicopter might have gone too far.

4 - The helicopter pilot who got eaten looked like he was Amish.

3 - Cable Junction (WTF is Cable Junction and it looked like something from a miniature golf course.)

2 - Brody says "say Ahh" to JAWS as he shoves electrical cable into his mouth. Man that was a long cry from "smile you son of a bitch" in the first movie.

1 - Quint was killed in JAWS 1.


It's simple, the bar in the movie is the greatest fisherman's shore bar. The movie is ok but the bar gets this puppy on this list.


BobCat Goldthwait, Demi Moore, John Cusak, the guy from the Twister Sister videos and Animal House, an ugly red-headed kid and a dog with a lampshade plus it takes place on the isle of Nantucket, the epitome of being at the shore. (In Jersey we say "down the shore").

Hoops McCann (John Cusack) like Demi Moore, who's a rock singer. Except the lip syncing is so obviously not her. Hoops' arch enemy, some blond haired dude who was in a lot of those movies, has a dad that wants to destroy a house or bar and probably build condos. Actually I don't even know if I have the plot right but who cares. The movies involves an epic sailing race to save something and has a lot of really weird scenes and characters that didn't really need to be there but are brilliant. There's some cartoon montages too because Hoops is trying to get into Art School Only 1 flaw - WHY NO SEQUEL? Come on !! "Another Crazy Summer" is a natural. It would involve new characters too. My thought was a skinny bearded kid who always wears neon swimming goggles and funny shirts with sayings on them. (like "preserving my body in alcohol for science") No reason but I just think it would fit in great.


I know everything there is too know about this film. I am definitely and expert in JAWS Trivia. Who was the kid eaten on the raft? - Alex Kitner. Who's boat to they find in the see - Ben Gardner. How many people does JAWS eat? - well I have to count. While the original movie is clearly the best I can still put the other 3 on this list too. Yes, even the fourth one. They could come out with JAWS Meets Harry and the Hendersons and I would still go see it. (BTW he ate 5 people and 1 dog) The first film is one of my favorite films and a must when you are at the shore. There is nothing like swimming out in the ocean as far as you can and then starting to think about JAWS and have to high tail back to the beach.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'll See You at the Debates Bitches

I always hated Paris Hilton.   However, I've changed.   Now, I've voting for Paris Hilton for President because of that one awesome line.   "I'll See you at the Debates Bitches".   If you are one of the 3 people on earth that have not seen her latest video.  Check it out.  It was in response to John McCain's ad comparing the Obama Celebrity Machine to Paris and Britney.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I am Disappointed with Shark Week

In the last Hometown Tales Radio Show and Podcast, (#237) I revealed how disappointed I am in Shark Week on the Discovery Channel this year. It's a very simple observation. I remember in early college when I couldn't wait for Shark Week. It was practically 24 hours of non-stop man-eating socially irresponsible irrational-fear-mongering delight. There was a flood of shows on brutal attacks, great whites, world's most dangerous beasts and more. Ok, so it was contributing to the death of thousands of innocent fishies, but man was it good entertainment.

I suppose I can accept that the Discovery Channel's need to clean up the act a little by sandwiching the occasional Shark Kindness PSA (performed by a guilty Peter Benchley, author of JAWS) urging the public to get behind the understanding of sharks and how they weren't all out to eat us. Although I do miss thinking that every-time I went into the ocean there was a giant JAWS and his Mama about to attack me possibly in 3D.

But what's with the programming now? My God, they just take every Discovery Channel "Star" and "Sharkize" them. We see the Mythbusters ruin every awesomely stupid Shark Myth I always believed. You're telling me sharks can eat a helicopter like in JAWS 2? Thanks Debbie Downer ! They also throw big Discovery Channel celeb, the Survivorman, into the mix by unscientificially instructing us how to not be eaten by a shark. Yawn. Now, I love Mike Rowe and Dirty Jobs but come on, there is no need to make a Dirty Jobs Shark Week Edition. I have not problem having Mike Rowe do something for Shark Week but forcing his show into the mold was week. "oooohh, shark's poo too and someone has to clean it up, here's Mike Rowe. So what's next? I got it, the guys from American Chopper will jump a shark in a tank with their motorcycle. Just like Shark Week has.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I am Staring a Blog

If you are finding this via Hometown Tales you might be saying "isn't there a hometown tales blog and man it's not updated very often"

Yes, that's true but the reason why I am starting my own blog is that I noticed I was being a little pretentious with the HT blog and often just posting things about myself. Truth is, Minogue (my cohort in Hometown Tales) doesn't get too into the social media thing, (honestly he keeps plenty busy just trying to answer emails which I never find time to do so no complaints there) - I was pretty good with the blog but really noticed in the effort of update the Hometown Tales blog often I was forcing very "gene" things, personal things that really had nothing to do with tales, ghosts, myths, etc... While I plan to more diligently post on the HT blog I figured I'd also have a personal one where I can rant about useless things, relevant things regarding my career, technology, social media and other professional items. Some of you may also be reading this because you know me professionally and are interested in some Digital Marketing, Social Media, Online Promotions or other related tidbits. I am a partner and Managing Director in an Digital Marketing and Online Promotions company, DataPositive (shameless plug) and we do try and stress our commitment to social media.

Ok so also, many of my friends have blogs (i.e. Scott Cocchiere) and I love it but he only updates once every 8 months and I just want to boast how I blog more than he.

So stay tuned, here we go, The Gene Fitzpatrick blog.