The Silverball Museum

This past weekend, I took the kids on a road trip to New Jersey, to meet up with Shoot Again’s director and co-producer, Blake Faucette.  The first interview conducted was with Jack Guarnieri of Jersey Jack Pinball.  I wasn’t present for this one, sadly, as I would have loved to see the Jersey Jack facilities (especially after Blake showed me some of the pictures from his visit).

We met up at the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park on Saturday morning.  The place has a typical unassuming boardwalk exterior, but once we got in, we were greeted by a statue of Elvis, and beyond him, a forest of pinball machines.  So many pinball machines, beautiful vintage machines as well as a solid offering of modern DMD games.  A couple hundred all told, all set to free play; you just pay an admission fee and the world’s your oyster.  Not my oyster, mind you; we were there to film, and I didn’t get to play more than half a dozen games.

There was also a cool seating area with a retro diner feel:

 

Kids playing some classics at the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park, NJ

Kids playing some classics at the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park, NJ

 

One thing that struck me was the number of kids playing pinball.  One of the concerns about pinball’s future and whether we’re looking at a resurgence or just a “bubble” depends on whether or not the current popularity is being driven purely by nostalgia.  Obviously that’s a big factor, but it’s also necessary for the younger generation to take to the hobby for it to continue.  Shortly after I took the picture above, the kid in the orange socks got a high score on one of those machines (the one to his left, with the dancing ballerina in the backbox).  Got his name up on the little scorecard and everything. His Mom took a picture of him posing next to the machine (the owners even moved the machine over a bit so he could scootch in between them).  That’s the kind of thing you love to see when you think pinball resurgence.

You can see Blake’s gorgeous photos from this trip on the Shoot Again Facebook page.  There are albums for the Silverball Museum Interview, the Silverball Museum itself, and the Jersey Jack interview.  The proprietors at Silverball are great people.  They’ve all got a passion for pinball, which is mandatory to maintaining such a large collection for public play.  It was really interesting to hear how they’d come to be, what drives them to keep it up, and of course the story of hurricane Sandy and how they survived that.  If you are in the neighborhood, do not miss this place, and give yourself at least half a day to play.

On the way back, we got stuck in the infamous George Washington Bridge traffic.  I crafted a poetic heavy metal rock opera about it (Tenacious D, eat your heart out!) but the kids were dubious about my future as a singer.  Oh well.

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