A Review by Tim Furey
I stumbled across this humorous travel zine called “Cool Spots, USA: New Jersey” while categorizing a random, unlabeled folder at the Soapbox Zine Library. It is part of a series that highlights unique historical markers, crime locations, dead celebrities, and other roadside Americana not found in the average travel guide. Being a New Jersey native, I was intrigued to see what I might have missed about my home state. There was a lot I didn’t know about America’s “Cockpit of History”.
For example, it is still illegal to sell cucumbers in Pennsville. I actually used to work in Pennsville as a driver/cleaner for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. On my lunch break I would walk over to the nearest Wawa and buy an Italian hoagie with lettuce, cheese, hot peppers, and of course…cucumbers. We also have a few Bigfoot sightings apparently. A Bigfoot was spotted in Salem shaking a car while a man was changing a tire.
This Obscure facts and locations are scattered throughout the zine with addresses and other nearby landmarks when the road inevitably turns into a backwoods adventure. I particularly appreciated this touch because I’ve gotten lost on these backroads many times. If you don’t have a frame of reference for this part of the state, you can end up at the shore or in another state entirely. Each “cool spot” is also given a Weird Rating from 1 to 5 stars.
“Cool Spots, USA: New Jersey” is filled with out of the way small business, eclectic local museums, urban legends, strange monuments made out of hubcaps, and Albert Einstein’s retirement home in Princeton. Jerome Pohlen as done a lot of leg work and met a lot of wonderfully eccentric New Jersians on his trip around the Garden State.