I’ve spent 20 years of Sunday afternoons listening to the radio broadcast “The Glen Jones Radio Programme featuring X.Ray Burns”, from WFMU at 91.1fm out of New Jersey, come rain or shine–including frigid Sundays listening in piles of snow on my roof, with my foot jiggling the antenna and drinking tallboys in the days before internet streaming.
Glen Jones and his co-host X.Ray Burns have a three hour program of free-form radio from 12-3pm, covering Sinatra to Elton John; Ramones to Daft Punk . It is an eclectic show held together by nuanced themes, measured tempo and clever segues. Smart listening is rewarded. At the top of each hour, the two men interrupt the set with banter, bickering and minutiae. At times, stretching into a love letter to fading memories of a New Jersey-of-their-youth. Within this are reveries on the diners, drive-thrus and food stands that dwindle in a lazy radius around metropolitan New Jersey. You arrived at the program for the music but it isn’t long before you realize that there is an under-current of “food blog” to it. This aspect is promoted by both hosts, but most certainly underscored by X.Ray Burns who posts tablescapes of excessive lunches and ornate dinners at home, staged with newspapers, condiments and tableware.
Naturally, a few years ago I started taking food notes from the radio broadcast and X.Ray’s editorials on Facebook–hoping that some day I too would travel up and down eastern corridors of New Jersey to sample curated selections of comfort food: grilled, griddled, fried, battered and breaded that was continually broadcast at me from across the Hudson River.
X.Ray Burns is a colorful character. His opinions and tastes are often larger than life. These then are my notes from his conversations. This is a road map to Nirvana paved with gluttony. When the check comes, tell them X.Ray sent you. Bon appetite.
- Clifton: Corrados Deli, x says: cold cut sandwiches
- Clifton: Rutt’s Hut x says: rippers. gotta have onions.
- East Newark: Topps Diner
- Elizabeth: Tommys Italian Sausage and Hot Dogs* x says: double italian hot dog w peppers, onions and fried potatoes on pizza bread. Also, try a sausage sandwich.
- Elizabeth: Jerry’s Famous Frankfurters* *there is some Jersey tradition that refers to a Tommys/Jerry’s double. Hitting up both famous hot dog joints.
- Elizabeth: Santillos Brick Oven Pizza
- Kearny: Big Stash’s Sub House x says: many tasty items but his staple is a 12” Turkey & Swiss, extra onions, no mayo, oil + vinegar (estimated time to completion approximately 13 minutes.) Also: Prosciuttini, Cappicola, Pepperoni, Salami & Provolone, extra onion on a hero. [with 2 Clinton’s Iced Teas. update: sadly, Clintons is no more; just fresh ice tea these days]
- Lyndhurst: Lyndhurst Pastry Shop x says: best italian ices.
- Lyndhurst: Thistle & Fish & Chips x says: Fish, Shrimp, Scallops and Chips. Perfect.
- North Arlington: The Stack x says: 2 sausages, 5 pancakes, 4 slices Taylor Ham, 3 hash brown patties
- North Arlington: Pizza Land
- Paramus: The Fireplace x says: char-broil joint. Taylor ham w cheddar on a hard roll, Hickory ham w cheddar on a hard roll, order of fries and large coke. bowl of pickles. hamburger with raw onion and relish and fries on it.
- Patterson: Libby’s Lunch x says: for hot dogs
- Roselle: White Rose System x says: Two large burgers, extra fried onions, french fries, large Pepsi.
- West Orange: Jimmy Buffs x says: italian hot dog.
Some additional x-food notes:
- Cheese: Sharp Provolone preferred; no American cheese, unless melted on Taylor ham sandwiches.
- Don’t add salt and pepper to sandwiches.
- White Castles order: 12 burgers no cheese, one sack of fries, large chocolate shake.
All photos are courtesy of Kenneth Green, aka X.Ray Burns.
Among his less savory qualities, he's a poor sport, a sore loser and ill fitted for honest labor. He makes bad friends and worse decisions. Animals avoid him and children despise him. He's been known to drink to excess, carry on with seditious talk and leer at women. He's a coward, a card cheat and a known liar.