They Made New Jersey Weird!

Two legends share their stories searching for the strange around the Garden State

by Mike Ham

In the early 1990s, long before the advent of the internet, Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman embarked on a journey that would forever change the way people perceive the Garden State. What started as a quirky, Xeroxed, and typewritten newsletter shared among friends soon evolved into the beloved publication, Weird New Jersey. This grassroots magazine captured the state’s oddities, legends, and paranormal stories, cultivating a dedicated following and becoming a cultural staple.

Mark and Mark’s journey began with a deep curiosity and a passion for uncovering the hidden stories of New Jersey. They ventured into local bars and diners, engaging with residents to gather firsthand accounts of strange phenomena and eccentric individuals. Their dedication to documenting these tales, despite the technological limitations of the time, was a testament to their commitment to preserving New Jersey’s unique heritage.

The magazine’s growth was organic, fueled by the intrigue and fascination of its readers. As their following expanded, so did the publication, transforming from a black-and-white newsletter into a full-color glossy magazine. Bookstores like Barnes & Noble began carrying Weird New Jersey, further cementing its place in the hearts of New Jerseyans. The magazine’s evolution mirrored the growth of its content, delving deeper into the state’s peculiarities and presenting them in an engaging and accessible format.

One of the hallmarks of Weird New Jersey’s success is its objective approach to storytelling. Mark and Mark present the stories as they are, allowing readers to draw their conclusions about their authenticity. This journalistic integrity has resonated with readers, fostering a sense of trust and credibility that has endured over the years.

Among the many stories captured in Weird New Jersey, the tale of the Great Notch Inn stands out. This iconic roadside bar (where we recorded this episode), with its rich history, is a microcosm of the state’s eccentric charm. Originally moved to its current location by rolling it on logs, the bar has seen significant changes over the years. Under the stewardship of the current bartender, Rich, the Great Notch Inn has opened its doors to a diverse crowd, including musicians and motorcyclists. This evolution reflects the broader inclusivity and adaptability of New Jersey’s cultural landscape.

The publication’s exploration of abandoned places and unexpected encounters adds another layer of intrigue. Personal experiences, such as having a gun pointed at them while exploring deserted locations, highlight the adventurous spirit of Mark and Mark. These stories, often untold before Weird New Jersey’s inception, contribute to the magazine’s unique allure and enduring popularity.

Weird New Jersey’s impact extends beyond the pages of its magazine. Over the past 31 years, it has grown into a multi-faceted entity, encompassing books and other media that continue to document and preserve New Jersey’s quirky history. The founders’ memorable experiences, including meeting celebrities and collaborating with authors nationwide, underscore the widespread appeal and significance of their work.

Despite their success, Mark Moran and Mark Sceurman remain grounded, focused on their mission to share the peculiar stories of New Jersey. Their dedication to uncovering and documenting the state’s oddities ensures that Weird New Jersey will continue to be a treasured resource for future generations. The magazine’s legacy is a testament to the power of curiosity, creativity, and a deep love for one’s home state.

Weird New Jersey stands as a beacon of the strange and wonderful, inviting readers to explore the hidden corners and untold tales of the Garden State. As Mark and Mark continue their journey, one thing is certain: New Jersey’s eccentricities will never cease to captivate and inspire.

About the Author/s

Mike Ham is the voice behind the popular podcast, "Greetings From the Garden State". Traveling up and down New Jersey, Mike brings his listeners the stories of the people and places shaping the Garden State. Not only is he a Jersey diehard, he is also a respected member of the podcast community and has spoken at several podcasting conferences. As he continues to amplify the voices of New Jersey, Mike Ham remains a passionate advocate for the diverse narratives woven into the fabric of the Garden State.

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1 comment

Shirlee Sceurman Griffith July 3, 2024 - 10:44 am

Thank you for this! I am Mark Sceurman’s sister Shirlee. I have watched both Marks start this great idea from the beginning when Weird NJ was just an idea. They have worked hard all these years to make that idea a reality. For those who are starting their own business, know that it is a 24 hour 7 days a week job. These two men have made their business a success after these many years by doing just that. Today they are two of the nicest men both humble and so thankful for the support and love of their families and readers. Rock on! Peace!

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