Welcome back to the Funhouse! That thing up there is the World’s Tallest Watersphere located in Union, NJ. It is visible from either approach to the Union Toll Plaza on the Garden State Parkway and when my sister and I were young’uns, we dubbed it “The Union Onion”. If you’re a kid living in the filthy, overpopulated industrial wasteland that is Central New Jersey, these are the kinds of things you have to do to amuse yourself. Our parents would cart us to the depressing towns of Kearny or Belleville every single weekend to visit equally depressing (and/or drunken) relatives and we had no other choice but to make jokes about every aesthetically unappealing sight (and smell) that bombarded our young senses in the back seat of the family Dodge Dart. I was also a fan of the gigantic billboard affixed to the Tuscan Frozen Pops factory featuring a monster-sized image of Buddy Hackett advising Parkway travelers to “Give ‘Em A Good Pop In The Mouth!”
In almost every way, my sister is infinitely wiser and more well-adjusted than I. Except for one: I had the good sense to move 2,000 miles away from the ridiculously named “Garden State” while she still chooses to call it home. But a week from today, due to some successful coercion from family and friends, I will be taking my first trip back to Jersey in over 5 years. This makes me grumpy. I love my sister and my nieces and the handful of friends that seem incapable of escaping the centrifugal force of New York’s dirty ball sac, but that still doesn’t make me feel any better about this looming trip to the Ninth Circle of Hell. The only upside to all of this is that when I return to Albuquerque the following Tuesday evening, I will feel extremely grateful to be living anywhere but the most densely populated and needlessly stressful state in the country.
This also means that next week, I will once again be handing the Funhouse reins to Merbear74 should she choose to fill in for me for the second time in less than a month. Show her some love, Y’all.
I can think of nothing more appropriate to punctuate today’s Funhouse than the late, great George Carlin’s gleeful ode to catastrophe. Enjoy, entropy fans: