Growing up it always seemed like my home state of New Jersey got a bad rap. Everywhere I traveled people appeared to think that it was just one big cesspool full of loudmouthed Italians. It pissed me off but it also gave me a heightened sense of Jersey pride.
Four years ago, me and my friend Steve Lenardo opened NJ Skateshop (months of brainstorming went into that clever name) in our hometown of Sayreville. We made it a point to create fun Jersey-themed tees to get young skaters stoked on the Garden State. Here’s a few we’ve done over the years.
Our first shirt. The Americans were what the New Jersey Nets were called before they moved to Long Island. Now the Nets are moving to Brooklyn, so fuck them and fuck Gay-Z. The Devils are the only Jersey team left and hockey sucks. Rad.
THE WORLD IS R’S
Our second shop, ingeniously called NJ II, opened last March in New Brunswick, home of Rutgers University (and Don Imus’s “nappy-headed hoes”). It was supposed to open in 2006 during Rutgers football’s nearly unbeaten season. Steve and I would sit at the bar and say, “We could sell so many Rutgers shirts if we were open now.” A year later we made these tees just in time to watch them lose nearly every game. It’s like having accidentally made Super Bowl champs shirts for the 2007 Dolphins.
NJ OR DIE
If I were president this would be my first law: “NJ OR DIE!” I’d erase the borders to all 48 continental US states and make it all one big New Jersey. We did this tee for the release of the last Zero Skateboards DVD. Looking back at it, I feel like it needs a skull.
DON’T MESS WITH
This was one of our first tees and it’s still one of my favorites just because of how retarded it is. I wore it in Texas once and it confused everyone.
We made these shirts for the opening of my brother’s bar, Sayreville Bar (our family rules at naming things), which is just a few blocks from the skateshop. I think it says everything a good bar shirt needs to say.
Our newest shirt, inspired by one of the biggest skate companies of our youth, H-Street. Long before Danny Way was jumping over China and Matt Hensley was squeezing an accordion for Flogging Molly, they were teen pros for H-Street and everyone wanted to be like them. Twenty years ago every skater wore cut-off cargo pants and chain wallets and kept their arm at a right angle while practicing their back 3s because of Matt. This is how we say, “Thanks.”
Did you know Bruce Springsteen is from Freehold and not Asbury Park? Well, he is. But that album cover was sick. So we did our own take on it. For all you screenprint nerds, there are 12 different colors used on this shirt. Beat off to that!
RON JOVI BOOTLEG
We didn’t make this shirt but I wish we did. Look how amazingly awful that face is. It literally could be ANY long-haired man or woman. Bon Jovi is from our town of Sayreville. My brother Dave went to Jon’s rival school and fought him in rumbles in the park.
THE MORE YOU
You can’t ever go wrong with a Morrissey shirt. We only made two dozen of these for friends and family to wear when we took a bus trip to see Moz at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel. No one bothered to tell us the show had been canceled.
A bunch of our friends ride for Zoo York, as does one of our shop guys, Ron Deily. It’s one of our best-selling brands. But New Jersey is way better than New York so we corrected their spelling. (I’d be stoked if someone made Zoo Hampshire shirts or Zoo Zealand ones. It’s a great idea. Take it. You’re welcome.)
JERSEY BY NATURE
Naughty by Nature is from Jersey. Remember when “OPP” was the shit? Maybe you’re too young. Either way, Treach is from Jersey and Treach married Tupac. Therefore if you do the rap-math, Tupac is from New Jersey.
NJ ALL DAY
Our friend Stevie Williams has a company called Dirty Ghetto Kids and he makes a shirt that says “DGK ALL DAY.” But for us it’s Jersey every day, all day. If Steve or I left the state once a month it would surprise me. And it’s like, every time we try to get out, it pulls us back in.
This face was painted on the wall across from the old Casino Skatepark in Asbury Park 300 years ago. Recently it was torn down. This is our tribute. We added the teardrop because, you know, Tilly probably killed a lot of people.
Danzig and the Misfits are from Lodi, NJ. This shirt glows in the dark. That’s about how scary Danzig is these days. Boo!
A few years ago we released a Nike Dunk on Bon Jovi’s birthday, modeled after those old cans of Aqua Net hairspray from the 80s. This tee was made to go with those shoes. When people ask me what girls are like in Jersey, it’s always been my joke to say, “They all have high hair and low expectations.” My wife is a Jersey girl. And marrying me sort of proves I’m right.