Phish Adventure & the Days that Followed

 On Saturday 29 June 2019 I drove to Camden New Jersey to meet with Jason and Mike for my first Phish concert. I got there very early and if you know me you know I do everything early. I drove around a little to try and find parking for less than $40; bad idea, I finally parked and paid $30 about six blocks from the venue. If you’re familiar with Camden you know I should’ve just paid the $40 across the street from the amphitheater. Although it was extremely early I figured why don’t I just walk to the river and chill while I wait for Jason and Mike to come over on the ferry from Philly. 

About two blocks into my walk it started to rain a little, knowing the previous nights storm I figured it was a good idea to go to the overhang at the building I was walking past and see how the rain would turn out. Within a few minutes of me taking cover the sky opened up in the wind kicked in and I was trapped at the front door of the Camden charter high school. The rain and wind was so intense I could barely see the building across the street maybe 50 yards from where I was standing. I called Jason from my shelter to see if him and Mike were on the ferry yet, luckily they were not; they were planning on coming over a little bit later. 

After about 10 minutes or so there was a break in the storm, I figured this was my best chance to get back to my car so I made a break for it. When I got back to my car it was completely surrounded by water so I had to get into my car without getting my feet completely soaked since I only had the sneakers and socks I was wearing, luckily I managed to pull it off. When I finally got back into my car I figure it’s probably a good idea to move it to a different section of the parking lot where maybe its a little bit higher and dry, and not currently flooded.

My logic was if it wasn’t flooded at this point it most likely wouldn’t flood if the rain started up again. So I moved my car to a different location and just hung out for about a half hour until the rain finally stopped for good. 

It was at this point where I decided I would walk back to the venue and find a bite to eat before meeting up with Jason and Mike at the ferry. As I got closer to the venue there was a food cart with a dude selling hot dogs which I don’t eat, but he also had pretzels so I grabbed a pretzel and for three dollars I got the biggest pretzel I ever saw my life and it was pretty damn good. As I was eating my pretzel I walked down towards the water to check out the battleship New Jersey which is docked next to the concert venue in Camden.  I also just looked across the river into Philly where the submarine USS Bacuna is berthed at Penn’s Landing right next to a Ship from WW1 and is part of the Independence Seaport Museum. A few years back we filmed a short on the sub so this brought back some pretty cool memories for me. 

A short while later the ferry was docking so I walked over to meet with Jason and Mike. When we finally got inside Jason and Mike wanted to stop at the beer stand. While we were waiting they bumped into a friend who said she had a great spot on the lawn with other friends so we all headed in.

Shortly after the concert started I could no longer stand in the middle of that crowd so I let Jay know I was running to the bathroom to take a leak and I would not be coming back to the spot. (I don’t fair to well in the middle of crowds like that). He said he would take the walk and hang out with me and just head back to the group later. We finally settled into a spot at the top of the lawn area that was open and had a great view of the stage (this was much more enjoyable for me). 

After the first set I decided to go for a walk and told Jay I would be leaving early and not staying for the entire second set so at that point we separated, Jason went back down by Mike and their group of friends and I just walked around a little bit and eventually split. 

In between Phish sets down by the river there was a fireworks show which was really cool. I tried to get some photos but didn’t have a clear view so the pics sucked.

My first Phish show was very enjoyable, I had a great time and me and Jason made a deal that since I’m not a big Phish fan but went to the show with him that he (not being a Slipknot fan) would come to see Slipknot with me. By the way I can now call myself a Phish fan. 

To be continued………….

 

From the show we went to

Jiu Jitsu in St Barthélemy – 1

Question – What’s better than a vacation in the French West Indies? 

Answer – A jiu jitsu vacation in the French West Indies. 

So this was the 6th BJJ camp I’ve been to and although I love them all for different reasons this one I believe to be my favorite to date. More on the reason for this thought later. 

The trip started with a flight to St. Maarten. After getting through customs I jumped into a cab to Philipsburg so I could catch a ferry to St. Barthélemy. When I got there I had a couple of hours to walk around town and grab some lunch. The biggest thing I noticed in Philipsburg is that they have yet to recover from hurricane Irma. The city seemed pretty run down and although there is rebuilding in progress it seems some areas are forgotten and it’s going to take quite some time. I did sit in a small bar/restaurant for lunch (I don’t remember the name but the wifi code is buybeer). The place is what I pictured as a stereotypical Caribbean bar and while I don’t drink I was hungry and the place looked really cool so I felt compelled to get lunch there. My lunch; an awesome vegetable wrap and fries.

Did I mention I ate like shit for the past 9 days? 

*Side note – left Saddle Brook 10 Feb 174.8 pounds, this morning 19 Feb 171.6.. Scratches head…..

Ok, the ferry from St Maarten to St. Barthélemy, where do I start? Do not, and I mean do not under any circumstances sit outside in the last row on the left side of the boat unless you dig the smell of diesel fuel and like being soaked with salt water, by the time we docked it looked like I swam there however, I was in St. Barthélemy and about to begin a week of surfing, jiu jitsu, and all around fun with a group of awesome people.

Now I need to address what’s makes this camp so special,  besides the prefect weather and island life of course. Most of the camps I’ve attended have anywhere from 100 to 200 participants so training partners of all size and skill levels are readily available however, it’s hard to meet everyone and people tend to group off. This camp has about 35 to 40 people in attendance so it was easy to meet everyone and actually get to know them. We ate dinner together ever night, went to the beaches together, trained together and just had a great time hanging out and playing games, one night after dinner I witnessed one of the most intense games of pick up sticks ever played. 

Cliff Hanger…..

To be continued……..

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Bio-Logic

A while back I started writing my story. It started off with the fact that I was adopted from birth and although I grew up in a 100% Italian family I did not know my biological back ground. Before I could finish the story Tara told me she had a gift for me and would be giving it to me later that night. What was the gift you may be asking; an Ancestry DNA kit. At first I wasn’t sure if I would even use it and I let it sit there for a while before I made the decision to spit in the vile.

Now just to take you back a little bit, my family somehow had a connection with the family of the woman who gave birth to me. Also my mother had all the papers from the adoption and gave them to me before she died so I had all the information on the adoption. A while before Tara bought me the DNA kit I did a quick google search and within 5 minutes I knew quite a bit about my biological mother and her immediate family. 

Just to makes this clear I had the best mom I could have ever asked for and wouldn’t have changed that for anything. My father died when I was very young and after that we struggled a bit. My mom worked extremely hard to make sure me and my sister had everything we needed, she sacrificed her time and happiness for us. Im sure she would’ve loved to go out with friends and possibly meet someone but she didn’t because we became her top priority. For this I am extremely grateful but also feeling a little guilt because she deserved to be happy and Im not really sure she was. 

Getting back to the DNA test I really don’t care much about the nationality part of the test. I was born Bayshore NY, grew up in Lodi NJ, and I carry an American passport; I am 100% American plain and simple. I did’t think I would care about biological family, turns out I was wrong about that. 

 

To be continued…….

I’m Back

Re-posting one of my past blog entries yesterday made me realize how long it’s been since I wrote anything new. As the new year came in I made a list of things I would like to accomplish in the coming year. This list includes starting a sauerkraut business, being consistent with making soap to grow that biz, release a weekly podcast and several other things I already do but incredibly inconsistently. I just added post a new blog weekly to my list.

This coming Sunday I will be heading to Saint Barthelemy for my 6th BJJ Globetrotters camp (4th time as an instructor). I will be teaching 2 classes at the camp, the 1/2 guard sweeps class I also taught in Iceland last July, and a new class I recently developed on the lasso guard. I’m really looking forward to this camp because it takes me away from the New Jersey winter for a few days even though this has been a mild winter. As much as I’m looking forward to going to the camp I still get an incredible amount of anxiety every time I attend BJJ camps. I think the fact that I’m usually one of the oldest if not the oldest martial artists at the camps contributes to my anxiety, also flying makes me very uncomfortable especially flying over water, however this usually passes quickly one I arrive at the camp.

My BJJ journey has been a long amazing trip and is finally at the junction where I feel like I’m passing knowledge to those who I reach through teaching and training. Although I’m not very old (52), when you spend a lifetime physically beating on your body 52 can sometimes feel like 100. Myself and most of the martial artist I know and train with do a variety of things to keep ourselves in good shape to continue training, teaching, and to keep our bodies strong and healthy. The catch 22 is the things that keep us in that condition can also be the very same thing that break us down. At this point in my life my main goal as a martial artist (BJJ specifically) is to be the best instructor I can possibly be and share my knowledge with as many people as I can. As much as I love to roll (spar) I need to be smart about it and limit myself so I can stay healthy and teach and train for many more years.

One more subject to cover here.
As most my friends and family know I was adopted from birth. Although I consider myself 100% American and I grew up in an Italian family (Sicily and Bari) I never knew my actual biological background. I do now…
Stay tuned………….

 

Eat Fresh

So let me start off with this; when someone tells you a specific exercise, diet, cleanse, or whatever the latest buzz happens to be will help you burn fat from a specific body part it’s in you best interest to walk away. This also applies to “cleansing” specific organs. Drinking lemon water, ginger water, apple cider vinegar water, salt water, pepper water, or any other spice water isn’t going to make your liver or any other internal organ cleaner and more functional, what it will accomplish is that you be drinking shitty tasting water all day which in most cases will cause you to dink less water than you should be drinking; end result, dehydration.

The people who making these claims come from one of the following groups; people who will gain financially from you believing their claims, or people who are not properly educated on the subject.

The truth is, if you follow a good diet eating fresh food and drink at least half your body weigh in water (body weight 150 pounds, drink 75 ounces of water) on a daily basis, (if you’re very active add 10 to 15 % to this), eliminate processed food, and excessive sugar, and do some exercise daily you will start to lose excessive body fat.

Supplements, do you need to take them; well, the 80 katrillionbillion dollar supplement industry will tell you that you need every vitamin, mineral and herb on earth to maintain a healthy balance, strengthen your immune system, have a strong healthy heart and digestive system. Truth is if you eat fresh foods and in great variety you are most likely getting everything you need to stay healthy. Best way to find out, go get a full physical and blood work to test for deficiencies. Better yet, do you feel good, eat fresh food in variety? Yes, you don’t need supplements.

If your diet eliminates specific foods you may need to supplement, for example if you follow a vegan diet you will need a B12 supplement. Also in the winter when you’re not getting the proper sunlight you may need a D supplement. Of course with varying issues there may be some exceptions to this, but I speaking to generally healthy people.

In summary:
Eat a good variety of fresh food, eliminate processed food and sugar, and move your body.

Peace

Sab-Jits The Podcast Episode 2

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Featuring Mike Sgroi of Iron Horse Cinema

We discuss indie and fan films, film making, stand up comedy, photography, film editing, and a little more.

ironhorsecinema.com

Instagram/Twitter @ironhorsecinema

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Twitter @mikesgroi

Instagram #mikesgroi21

Musically Irked

I’ve been playing in working bands (both cover and original) since 1985. Over that 30 plus years I’ve seen a lot of change in the music industry and local music scene. My first original release was in a predominant cassette era, then it was CD, now it’s predominant digital download with vinyl making a strong comeback. Also without the backing of a major label it was damn near impossible to achieve success, now you can achieve success with a good recording and an iPhone video through the social platform.

The area of change currently affecting me is the local scene. Back in the day I had an endless stream of gigs, with both my cover and original bands. Back in the day the clubs knew they needed to bring in patrons and it was not the sole responsibility of the band, now; not so much. Yes, it was important for the band to draw to keep gigs, but the burden was not placed on the band alone. Now when I contact clubs the very first question I’m asked is how many people I can bring into the club. Well, how many people will the club be bringing to see me? It should be a mutual effort, no?

Hey club owners I have a question for you, during you hiring process with your bartenders, cooks, dish washers, servers, and security do you ask them how many people they can draw to your bar? Maybe bartenders are asked if they have a following (as many do) but I doubt you rely solely on them to fill your bar.

As a band with a following we are always looking to build our following as we can’t rely on the same people to attend every show. The way to build our following is for the club itself to have a following so we are consistently exposed to a new crowd.

The other area where I find great frustration is with promoters who never return phone calls or messages. This is unacceptable behavior, if you don’t want to book my band simple tell me I’m a big boy and can take it. This lack of response from club owners and promoters especially from clubs where we have an established relationship is simply disrespectful and they should be ashamed of themselves for such poor behavior. You have the right to book or not book anyone you like, but at least have the common courtesy to return a call, not much to ask.

I once had a club promoter tell me he would book a monkey banging on a garbage can every week if people came in to see it, and I get it. But that being said even on nights we had less than stellar turnouts from our fan base, his club was full.

Back in the day Northern New Jersey had a great local music scene, now I have to say it sucks and it’s draining me of the passion I once had as a musician. May be time for a change.

Peace

 

Peace Chester

Chester Bennington’s death by suicide affects me but not for the same reasons as most. You see I like his music, but only casually. He didn’t influence me in any way and I don’t feel he pioneered a new sound in music. I think he capitalized on a sound and took it to a higher lever, at least with “Hybrid Theory”, I don’t care for much after that. This being said I do realize the impact and influence he had on the younger generation; the music we grow up with has the biggest impact on our lives, and his death definitely leaves a void for many fans.

Chester’s death and that of Chris Cornell affect me because I too deal with depression every day of my life, and every day I also consider the same route they ultimately decided was the only way. It’s not an act of selfishness, and it’s something you will never understand unless you live it. The best we can do is try to find a way to manage it 1 day at a time, 1 hour at a time, 1 minute at time, and second by second.

Where I feel a lot go wrong with this is going the drug route, whether prescribed or not. At least in my situation this made things worse. I know many people use anti-depressant drugs with great success, however they’re not a fix all for everyone. For me personally physical activity has been the best medicine, when I’m on the mats training and/or teaching Brazilian jiu jitsu my mind is free and I don’t have a problem in the world and I’m happy. I truly believe Brazilian jiu jitsu and physical activity in general can help everyone who fights with depression.

I privately train a USMC vet who has PTSD, we have very similar issues although we have them for very different reasons. I see how being on the mat training makes his load lighter for the time we train and I see how his face changes the second he walks through the door. I know this is the very best therapy available to fight through depression. I also know everyone is different and needs to find what they feel is best for them in dealing with depression and the thoughts and pain that come with it..

Over the past couple of days I’ve seen a lot of posting on Facebook about Chester, mostly positive but there are always some who feel they know it all and feel the need to go the douche bag route. To the douche bags I say enjoy your perfect lives. To the positive and all the people who are hurting from the loss of Chester, pop in Hybrid Theory and crank the volume and enjoy the gift he gave us all…

Peace..

 

 

The Audition

Here’s your sides learn them well

Stand in line prepare the sell

Just one chance the pitch to make

Nerves kick in is this the break

 

Look around is he the one

Stand on ground reach for the sun

Name gets called walk to the door

Give your best to get the score

 

Walking home review the pitch

Coulda woulda shoulda ain’t that a bitch

View the sky dreaming big

Phone rings, got the gig….