wine by the color

Friday, February 15, 2008

Doesn't it seem ridiculous that in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," Charlie's family was so poor that a loaf of bread was a luxury and the four grandparents shared one bed, but somehow they had a television?

Maybe it's just me.

I have been told I'm a good writer. That's very nice and perhaps I am, depending on the day and the topic. But then you read things like this and realize you are far from being a great writer. When you can hold someone's interest for 4,583 words, you have talent.

And yes, I just complimented a piece of writing from the Evil Empire that did not come from my literary girl-crush, Le Anne. The world may indeed be ending.

Speaking of the published word, I was fired up to see the cover of the most recent NJ Monthly Magazine as I checked out at the grocery store the other day. Advertised as "The Diner Issue," I eagerly grabbed it and added it to my purchases.

Things started well, with the editor's letter offering the following introduction...

Barry Levinson's 1982 film, Diner, proves that the acclaimed director and Baltimore devotee deserves to be an honorary New Jerseyan. His homage to his youth starred a bunch of quasi-unknown actors, including Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Mickey Rourke, and Daniel Stern. But make no mistake - the diner stole the show. That's a concept we in the Garden State and perfectly comfortable with.

Given this, I ask you ... how in the name of all that is holy is it never mentioned that "Diner" is filmed at the Bendix?

I mean, they did a sidebar about movie-making in Jersey diners, and mentioned the Bendix but in reference to the movie "Jersey Girl. And not the Kevin Smith "Jersey Girl" (scenes from which were filmed at the New Berlin Diner and Sandman, make a note that we have to go there), but the Jami Gertz version from 1992 (the hair ... oh, the shame).

Overall, it's a solid issue. But that sort of negligence is difficult to overlook.

A list of my favorite diners would require a good deal of thought. But a preliminary top five would be:

-Bendix Diner, Hasbrouck Heights
-Time to Eat Diner, Bridgewater
-Phoenix Diner, Absecon
-Somerset Diner
-Princess Maria Diner, Wall

A special mention of the Wildwood Diner should also be made. It was an absolute beauty and probably where my love of diners began, as we visited the establishment on Atlantic Avenue many times during my childhood. But sadly, it served its last meal in 2005 and was demolished a year later.

A travesty.

As for my top-five menu items:

-Cheese fries
-Grilled cheese
-Pork roll and cheese
-French toast
-Rice pudding

I could talk about diners all night, but I really have to get packing as I'm due to fly to California in the morning.


  • At 2/16/2008 2:31 AM, Blogger SJPSandman said…

    Shout out to the Tropicana Diner in Elizabeth, and the Union Plaza Diner on Route 22 in Union.

  • At 2/16/2008 12:42 PM, Blogger the joker said…

    It's more sentimental than anything but the Windsor Diner in Clark ranks up there for me.

    While on the Munchmobile last summer, Peter Genovese had this book sitting in the van.

    Amen to the UPD, Sandman. I sometimes steal their thick menu and use it as a seat cushion/lift to see over my dashboard.

    Blame my mom for my being a member of the Lollipop Guild.

  • At 2/16/2008 7:52 PM, Blogger SJPSandman said…


    The lollypop guild's not the only MEMBERship your mom holds

  • At 2/17/2008 2:13 AM, Blogger jersey girl said…

    I have that book, and it is tremendous.

    Poor, maligned Mrs. Joker...

  • At 2/17/2008 2:21 AM, Blogger jersey girl said…

    Speaking of Route 22 diners, special mention should also be given to the Lido Diner, which is no longer with us. Also gone but forever etched in my memory is the Claremont Diner, which used to be on Route 3.

    Commonality between the two, beside their joint demise?

    Both served cocktails.

  • At 2/18/2008 3:01 AM, Blogger SJPSandman said…

    I've been to the Claremont on many an early morning in my youth, though I have to give the Tick Tock Diner, which still exists on Route 3 in Clifton, the nod.

    I primarily hung out in the Clifton/Passaic area as a teenager and in my early 20s, and I've probably inhaled more cheeseburgers in that joint than anywhere else on the planet.

    I still try to hit that place on the way back from concerts at the Meadowlands.

    The diner on Route 22 in Green Brook -- its name escapes me at the moment -- is also very good.

  • At 2/18/2008 3:03 AM, Blogger SJPSandman said…

    Oh, and the Union Plaza Diner also serves cocktails.

  • At 2/18/2008 3:51 AM, Blogger Brooke said…

    I miss Time to Eat. I would move back to Jersey for that place.

  • At 2/18/2008 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Manalapan Diner baby!



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