Product Spotlight: Shear Revival, Round 2 – Elm Street Lightweight Pomade

elmstreet1Back again after trying a different Shear Revival pomade, and I must say, I am once again thoroughly impressed. It’s awesome that 1) Shear Revival’s products are consistent in premium quality and 2) They’re American made and are based in the Garden State.

As I mentioned before in my post on the company’s Crystal Lake Water-based Pomade, I am not a big fan of oil-based pomades. This is because many oil based pomades you’ll find in most stores are just chemical labs in a can with ingredients you can barely pronounce. If I can’t pronounce the ingredients’ names, I don’t want them sitting in my hair; as oil-based hair products tend to stay in the hair much longer than water-based.

However, today I decided I would try an oil-based pomade, as I always have my hair styled and I would like something that stays put for a longer period of time. Of course, knowing Crystal Lake was a great product made with natural ingredients, I had no hesitation to try a Shear Revival oil-based pomade for my first foray into this type of product.

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As with Crystal Lake, the packaging on Elm Street is seriously cool. The minimalist fedora icon, an obvious reference to the Nightmare on Elm Street film series, looks sleek and strong. The blue plastic canister with the metal lid also adds a lot of understated depth to the packaging which makes it a stylish statement piece in itself. The pomade itself smells exactly as the company’s website describes: “a clean oak & citrus scent” and it is a scent I am more than okay with carrying on my person.

After a few hours with a moderate amount of the product in my hair, the hold stays true to form. What’s great about both Shear Revival pomades that I’ve tried is that they hold the form you desire for your hair, but they do not leave your hair dry and sticky. You can comb and re-comb all day without any resistance from the product.

However, the best part about Shear Revival’s products is that they are made with natural ingredients. With ingredients like organic castor oil, pure jojoba oil, organic beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil, you know that what you’re putting in your hair is not a toxic batch of artificial chemicals. Rather, Shear Revival’s products are committed to giving your hair an excellent look and a healthy lifespan with natural ingredients.

You can grab your own canister of this quality product on the Shear Revival Website or pay a visit to one of the places that carry it like Calabrese’s Barber Shop.

(All images taken from Shear Revival’s website)

Quickstop Groceries: America’s Most Famous Convenience Store

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(Image courtesy of Typophile.com)

Now why would something like “America’s Most Famous Convenience Store” be something to brag about? What makes it so famous? Well, it just so happens that Leonardo, New Jersey’s QuickStop Groceries is the Convenience Store that served as the primary setting location for one of the independent film industry’s most successful movies of all time, Clerks.

The QuickStop is located at 58 Leonard Ave. in Leonardo, just off NJ 36 North right above Atlantic Highlands. In the early 1990s, now-famous film director Kevin Smith put together his masterpiece, Clerks, shot in black and white with a budget of roughly only $27,000. Smith also worked for the QuickStop at the time, and was granted permission to film scenes at night.

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Production photo of actor Brian O’Halloran as Dante at the QuickStop front counter. Currently, the front counter no longer features an ice cream cooler at the front and the overhead clock and Marlboro banner are both gone as well. (Photo courtesy of ViewAskew.com)

The film focuses primarily on an average day-in-the-life gone wrong for two convenience store clerks, Dante (played by Brian O’Halloran) and Randall (played by Jeff Anderson). Both characters are QuickStop employees, with Randall also occupy the RST Video register next door. While Dante is an overly-serious employee, Randall often makes comments and remarks in reaction to Dante that can sometimes be overly crude or offensive but are still completely hilarious. The film had originally received an NC-17 rating due to the content of the dialogue. Dante deals with a myriad of different issues in the film including relationship troubles, difficult/odd customers, and even a dead customer! While Dante and Randall have very little interaction with Jay & Silent Bob in the film, they do express a certain dislike for the duo.

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Employee bathroom where one of the film’s most shocking and hilarious situations takes place. (Photo courtesy of Yelp User “Michael G”)

Smith released Clerks in 1994, and has since become a major director in the film industry. The film also is the first to feature Smith’s most iconic creations, Jay & Silent Bob. Silent Bob was also portrayed by Smith in the film and every subsequent appearance afterwards. While Jay is a loudmouth who often says whatever is on his mind, Silent Bob mostly expresses himself nonverbally but will speak when he feels he has something important to say.

The QuickStop made a few more appearances in some of Smith’s later films. It was mentioned in his film Chasing Amy, featured in parts of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and at the beginning and end of Clerks II. Since then, the place has become an underground mecca of sorts for both fans of independent films and Smith’s creative works. As both a New Jersey resident and a huge Kevin Smith fan, I have made multiple visits to this place.

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Above is a picture of how QuickStop appears from the outside. There is a long strip of two or three more abandoned store fronts not visible in this photo, and the RST video storefront no longer sports the sign above its window. This is where Jay & Silent Bob often loiter in their films and sell weed to neighborhood kids. (Photo courtesy of Yelp user “Y.W.”)

Pulling up to the place always gives me a giddy excitement that I am visiting the place where one of my favorite films was shot. You can literally park outside, lean up against the same wall Jay & Silent Bob did for most of the film, and just take it all in right from the start. Then, you remember you can actually go inside and view the place for yourself. Though RST Video is no longer a business, you can still peek inside and see shelves still full of video cassettes amongst various storage items. Perhaps Smith has some sort of ownership of that storefront to retain it for filming purposes?

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How the abandoned RST Video appears from inside. (Photo courtesy of Yelp User “Tiffany W”)

Though a few cosmetic changes to the store have been made, the store still mostly resembles how it looked back in the early 1990s. It is, for the most part, a normal convenience store featuring items you would expect to find in one: some grocery items, candy, coffee, beverages, magazines, etc. The one cool item available there is a Clerks Zippo lighter that I am almost positive is exclusive to the store, as I have not found a website or other store that carries it. I still want to go back and buy one just because!

The store also features a few nods to its history as an iconic film location. There is an old Clerks II promo poster in the front window and a few press items hanging on the wall behind the register, but still is able to retain its primary identity as a common everyday business. There have been some times that I’ve went in where I was the only customer. However, just buying something and going up to that counter gives me the same giddy excitement that I get when I pull up to the place. So many great movie moments have happened on, in front of, and behind that counter that it just feels surreal to be in there.

I’ve never asked any employees any questions related to the movies, as I’m sure they get enough of those inquiries and are probably pretty done with hearing them by now. However, there is a special feeling of satisfaction when you buy something there. You could buy the same blue gatorade there that you’d buy at 7-11, but buying it from America’s most famous convenience store makes drinking that gatorade all the more refreshing.

Link to Clerks Trailer

Link to YouTube user YuichiTara’s video tour of the building in its current condition

Link to Clerks WikiPedia article 

FIRST POST: Wilson Hall/Shadow Lawn Estate at Monmouth University

wilson2 (Photo Courtesy of ronsaari.com)

Monmouth University, a small institute of higher education just a mile from Long Branch’s share of the New Jersey shoreline, is home to one of the most beautiful antique mansions in the country. The Shadow Lawn estate, now named Wilson Hall, is one of my favorite pieces of New Jersey Architecture. It now primarily serves as both the University’s administration building and their most premier venue for events.

What makes Shadow Lawn an important location in New Jersey? The answer is simple. Shadow Lawn represents the iconic architecture of pre-depression bourgeoisie (think The Great Gatsby) where every piece of decoration was hand-fashioned and wealth was shown off in more lavish ways than even modern times. Visiting the building will make you feel like you should be in a fine-pressed suit with a wine glass in one hand and a lit cigar in the other.

According to the Shadow Lawn WikiPedia article, the estate was built in 1927 on the site of the original Shadow Lawn estate. The original had burned down some time before. The new version of Shadow Lawn was built for Hubert Parsons, the F.W. Woolworth Company’s president at the time. The new Shadow Lawn sported 130 rooms and 19 bathrooms. Eventually, Parsons fell on hard economic times and had to sell the building. It became part of the University in 1956, and has since become one of the institution’s most recognizable and distinguishing assets.

Both incarnations of the estate have major claims to fame. The original served as the summer White House for President Wilson (which is why the building is currently named Wilson Hall). The current Shadow Lawn had been used as the primary film location for the 1982 classic Annie, where it was used as the setting for Daddy Warbucks’ mansion.

When I first visited the estate, I was blown away by the intricately-detailed art in every corner of every room. According to University personnel, the building was modeled after the Palace of Versailles in France. There were definitely some artistic connections. Each room’s walls made heavy use of pastel paint and the hand-carved trims all sported gold paint.

Upon exploring the available rooms, I noticed the foyer sported a central grand staircase with hand-carved marble bannisters. On the second floor, an antique organ sat quietly un-played for years with blockades preventing public access. The pipe organ was once connected to many pipes on the side of the main concourse, hidden by intricate gold lattices.

The building truly gave me a feeling of stepping back in time more so than any museum possibly could. Most of the building’s detail remains original and many university personnel have great knowledge of its history. For a true historical experience, visiting this estate should be a primary item on your checklist.

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Above is a photo of the building’s front entrance that is also the primary entrance for both students and faculty. (Photo courtesy of thekourtneyrosefoundation.org)

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Photo detailing the estate’s three-story main concourse/foyer at night. The ceiling is made of hand-fashioned stained glass, and the support beams all sport hand-carved marble.

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Photo from the third story showing the main interior staircase. The marble bannisters cannot be seen too well from this perspective.

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Photo from the third floor showing the antique pipe organ, still with original keys and casing.

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Photo of one of the lattice works that covered the organ’s pipes. Again, as many works of art in this building, it is hand-made.

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Hand-sculpted and painted ceiling detail at the top of the main staircase. It is a true artistic marvel of a bygone period in history.

Link to Shadow Lawn WikiPedia article.

Link to Annie trailer.