Details, Red Bank, N.J.
But Red Bank is much more than pinball. This eclectic town, where William Count Basie grew up, has more than 70 hangouts and shops selling items both retro and fashion-forward. Even the many foods vary from nouvelle to throwback. Two theaters provide live entertainment, and other venues offer ways for adults and children both to play. Perhaps even with each other.
Hurricane Sandy hit Red Bank, but not as hard as other New Jersey towns, and the only lasting damage seems to be at the hotel we stayed at, which plans to reopen to guests in January. But my friend and I visited before the storm and ricocheted around town like one of those solid silver balls under glass, bouncing from a gourmet cheese shop to an upscale olive-oil tasting store to the 175-year-old house that’s home to the Dublin House Restaurant and Pub, where Ben Affleck went to learn his lines for a film set in Red Bank. But more on that in a minute.
We arrived in town on a gray Sunday of a three-day weekend. We were cold and hungry and dismayed by the drizzle, so we took respite at Basil T’s Brewery and Italian Grill, a block from our hotel. The vat-size bowls of soup and basket of hot rolls did wonders to warm us.
The rain had stopped by the time we left, and we spent several hours meandering around town, which continued to tap childhood memories for me of growing up in the Northeast. The hole-in-the-wall pizza parlor that sells pizza by the slice. The candy store that displays 16 varieties of Pez dispensers.
But it was a nondescript storefront on Riverside Street that unearthed the memory from longest ago. A brochure in the window said “Flipping Fun.” Huh?
As I pressed my face against the window to see inside, someone opened the door and invited us in. I learned that the place makes flip books. Whoa.
My older brother used to make those as a kid. I thought they were magic. He would draw dozens of pictures on paper with slight changes in each, staple them together and then flip through them to create — voila! — animation.
Flipping Fun has modernized the art. A videographer shoots seven seconds of action and creates a stylized booklet of glossy photos, and you get yourself a pocket-size flip book, without the painstaking hours of work that my brother had to do. The folks there even made a book for a famous movie director. “My assistant had the distinction of directing Martin Scorsese,” said owner Meredith Barrett. On Saturday nights, Flipping Fun opens to the public.