“That guy's being awfully forward with that donkey.”- Clerks 2
So, I obviously have nothing better to do with my time, right? I can hear people saying that… casual readers who only put down their travelling guitar to type up their blogs. I can hear them now. ‘This kid, this Aussie- yeah (!), he’s in one of the biggest cities in the world, New York … and what does he do? He buggers off to New Jersey to check out some potty mouthed movie sites?’
Two words, sir.
Oh and whilst I’m here, one more.
That’s right kids, I went to Kevin Smith land!
It was an early start and Jian was dead tired that day after our Washington detour, so I woke, showered, tied up my cons and took off for Red Bank, NJ. Penn station was bustling even at that early hour. It was insane, this continuous blur of people on their way to work- and me going the other way. I felt like the fish John West rejected, swimming upstream. All the way to Jersey no less.
I bought my ticket and fumbled onto the train, leaving behind
the woman who had urinated in her pants next to me on the waiting bench. That sounds like an odd antecdote, and well, it is. But not as odd as experiencing it first hand. It’s moments like these, kids, you need Twisties.
The train was a therapeutic blur, which had me nodding off on occasion, woken only by a friendly Italian immigrant who had been working in the city for two weeks and was eager to return to his family in Redbank. ‘It’s great u come to Ridbunk. Nobody evah comes. We love you!’ It was a nice pre-welcome welcoming.
New Jersey is known as ‘The Garden State’ and you can tell straight away why. It is a lush, green place. So utterly unlike its neighbour New York, getting off the train is like stepping into the twilight zone. You literally feel like you have jumped into an episode of Sliders and are seeing some alternate reality, parellel to our own. Logic told me I should be seeing the remnants of the nearby city. But there are none. Red Bank, Leonard and the small cities in between all feel like highway towns in New South Wales, Australia. Family
owned businesses with a starbucks or two. Malls and the hand painted signs. The people are friendly and helpful, thanks for the directions guys!
My first stop was ‘Jack’s Music Shoppe’, a new/second cd/dvd/record store with a fantastic catalogue (I bought an old George Romero film and the new Rhett Miller CD), which also was used as a filming location in ‘Chasing Amy’. The staff busied themselves, almost seemingly unaware that their store is buried in the subconsciousness of people all around the world. I guess, time does go on and even the zany high of being part of pop culture does wear thin. Hence why I only have photos of the exterior, I thought asking for permission within may have been pushing it.
Next on my Kevin Smith inspired journey was ‘Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash’, located directly across the road. This shop is owned by Smith and his film company ‘View Askew’ and is basically your average (though very well read) comic book/graphic novel store, with the added bonus (and it’s a big one) of being filled with Kevin Smith memorabilia! From Silent Bob's Batman utility belt and pointed hat from ‘Mallrats’, to Seth Rogen's
Woody Allen inspired glasses in ‘Zac and Miri make a Porno’, the life-sized Mooby and Buddy Christ statuettes from ‘Dogma’ to framed un-filmed scripts by Smith himself (including his ‘Superman Lives’ script). At the counter, one of the stars resided. ‘Steve-Dave’ (as in ‘you tell them Steve-Dave’, for those of you familiar with the films), who let me take photos within the store, but not of himself. I duly respect your privacy sir, and a big thumbs up to you and the folks at the stash. The ‘Stash’ was also a filming location in the film ‘Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back’, although the name was changed to ‘Brodie’s Secret Stash’, the sign of which is up on display within the store, the photo of which I will add to this blog post. From the exterior, ‘The Stash’ is just another little shoebox store on a street of similarly unoffending shops which I’m sure struggle throughout the year. It is all a very unassuming place, the ideal location for someone to let their imaginations run wild. After seeing this and Los Angeles recently, I am convinced that the wildest and most creatively talented minds spring forth from the most seemingly
mundane of places (unless you're Roman Polanski I guess, as I hear Nazi Invaded Poland wasn’t exactly a snooze…).
After this, I ventured via bus another, even more ‘easy to miss’ location, on the outskirts of Leonardo, New Jersey. THE QUICK STOP used in the View Askew movies (Clerks, Clerks 2, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back … I think that’s it if memory serves correct). Now this, of all the movie related sites I’ve seen thus far, was the most thrilling. I love the Clerks movies and have for quite some time. As a filmmaker myself (or an aspiring one at least), I do sit there and often wonder how certain scenes were put together, and who scouted this location over that, et cetera. So to step inside the actual, practical location (this in and of itself is rare- or at least a location as small as this, because most small interiors are shot within sound-stages… but not Clerks, with its miniscule budget) is a mega wow, and not surprisingly, inspirational. This is a real place and is a functioning corner store still in operation today. People pull up in their cars just like they did in the
movie and next door is the Video Store, which still carries VHS movies. I even became a member, just for the fun of it, but couldn’t get a card as ‘nobody brings those damn things in anyway so we up and got rid of ‘em’. Inside the Quick Stop things certainly have not changed. The same ‘I.D’ sign for the purchasing of cigarettes from the film is still there. I witnessed an actual ‘Milk-Maid’ IN ACTION (!) who shamelessly stood there looking for the perfect carton of milk, regardless of how her specific type were parodied in the films. I bought myself a pack of Extra Sugar Free gum from the store, as a memento. As of writing, the photo remains though the gum has been chewed.
I waited an hour for my bus on the opposite side of the road with my Ipod playing all the songs I really wanted to hear at that exact second, drinking a warm Diet Coke, and watching with a strange, removed fascination the patrons to the store come and go. They did not realise and why should they, that someone like me would want to go in there for any other reason
than to grab a quick coffee, or the absolute perfect bottle of milk… but then again, this is the joy of travel. The indulgence of travel.
‘I’m not even supposed to be here today!’
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