The Internet conflicts with my memories, insofar as I’m now able to take a virtual walk through the city of New Brunswick, thanks to the innovative folks at Google. But the New Brunswick I left in September of 2000, is to some extent gone. Many of the stores, bars,eateries, buildings, people and culture have disappeared. Many parts of town are unrecognizable, due to expansion of the hospital and related medical facilities. At some point, the city seems cut in half, with nothing but bland, clean offices and parking decks, separating one neighborhood from another. One thing on the Google Street View that matches my memory is New Brunswick always seemed overcast.
For me, in the 90’s, New Brunswick was the “funnest” place on Earth. It had great quirky record, comics and video shops, every possible kind of food, clubs, bars, and an amazingly talented and thriving underground music scene. Had New Brunswick been anywhere else in America other than 45 minutes west of NYC, it would’ve gotten as much attention as Seattle. I used to call New Brunswick “the town where the parents went away for the weekend and never came home.” We were free to do whatever we wanted, for as long as we could stand it.
It was the town where I met my wife Judie, the funnest person in the funnest town. It’s where I met some of my best friends and was reconnected with others. There was no place in town I couldn’t go without running into someone I knew or meeting someone new — every night was a party or an adventure. Everyone was in a band or working for a record label or painting or, like Tim Bird and I, making comics. I didn’t appreciate how creative that atmosphere was until we’d left town. But nothing lasts forever — there’s a time, place, and an age for everything. Rat Bastard had been in development with Image Television and it was time to head west.
So years later, I’m working on a story (originally for animation, but probably a comic) called Adventures In Nowhere Land, about five guys who never did leave town, who never looked at the clock. And in working on this story,I’m finding memories of New Brunswick are far more flattering than the factual city ever looked. After all, New Brunswick in the 80’s and most of the 90’s was, well, it wasn’t a pretty place. More to come…