In Defense of… New Jersey (Unless You’re from South Jersey)
Written by Bwog Staff
In the past Bwog has managed to stick up for the little guy, whether it be the McBain Shaft, the PE requirement or Fire Alarms. For the latest defense project, we turn to our in-house Jersey native Alexandra Svokos and ponder the terrible wonder that lies on the other side of the Hudson.
Listen, we get it. It’s super fun to shit on New Jersey. The armpit of America, full of guidos and bankrupt housewives, Jersey seems to boast nothing but grimy beaches and Newark International Airport. But if that were really all there was to it, wouldn’t residents get so sick of the demeaning and sometimes pitying response to “I’m from New Jersey” that they’d have all left by now? As it is, Jersey is the most densely populated state in America, so there’s gotta be something else.
First off, New Jersey schools consistently rank among the best in the nation, and the two highest average SAT scores from any high school in the United States come from the state. That’s right, those are some smart mall rats smoking up a cool appearance in the parking lot. Also, I don’t know if you know this or not, but New Jersey is, like, right next to New York City. It’s the easiest way to be in New York without actually being in New York, and it’s so much less overdone than Williamsburg. “I live in Fort Lee. You’ve probably never heard of it.”
That said, New Jersey has a lot of suburbs. But growing up in the suburbs doesn’t have to be as bleak and stifling as Arcade Fire portrays it! They’re safe, convenient, and full of malls and movie theaters. You’ll also learn how to drive really well, because you’ll be doing it every day, sometimes against and other times allied with the craziest drivers in the nation. You’ll have every clichéd high school movie moment from windows down with music blasting to visiting haunted asylums to seeing everyone you know after midnight at your favorite diner. Every suburban child has that special bond of complaining that there is nothing to do while secretly loving where they’re from.
New Jersey is more than just a coastline—it’s called the “Garden State” for a reason. In South Jersey (yes, there’s more than a geographical difference) it’s pretty much all farmlands and the occasional porn store behind an old barn. Back in the north, just off the highway, there’s a multitude of trees and mountains. Many people actually enjoy the wilderness and do things like hiking, biking, and other COÖP activities. Plus it looks really pretty when it snows.
And, yes, there is a shore. Well, there is the shore. Contrary to Jersey Shore, however, there are more shore points than just Sleazeside. Try going DTS to Cape May with the family, Pt. Pleasant for the low-key boardwalk experience, Wildwood for the big boardwalk experience or Long Branch if you feel above all this. The shore provides an excellent location for the weekend after prom – Jersey high school seniors usually spend at least 3 days in a shambly house near the water and go hard. Enjoy the kitschy rides and screaming children, admire the hot gelled-up lifeguards (trust me, they want you to) and get yourself something deep-fried, preferably an Oreo. Embrace it, and the shore will embrace you back.
If the shore doesn’t seem appealing, one can always head to the Stone Pony in Asbury Park and pretend to be Bruce Springsteen. New Jersey is home to an incredibly talented array of musicians including Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan, Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah, the Fugees, Titus Andronicus, and My Chemical Romance. Fun fact: Sinatra was famously arrested in Bergen County on charges of “seduction.” Jersey kids attempt to continue the musical tradition as everyone and their mother is in a band, and it’s never difficult to find a basement concert. Aside from its bustling music scene, New Jersey brought up many actors, directors, writers, and artists. Not to mention everything set in New Jersey – On The Road starts in Paterson, and when Billy Joel needed a rhyme for “heart attack ack ack ack” he chose “Hackensack.”
Living in New Jersey toughens you up – if it’s true that only the strong survive, have you seen our governor? It requires fortitude to drive the highways every day and maneuver the crowds in the malls every weekend and still make it off the Gravitron without vomiting all summer. It takes stamina to survive the suburbs, and, more so, to escape them and continually reassert that most of the Jersey Shore cast is not actually from New Jersey, that only two of the Real Housewives are from Franklin Lakes, and that Tony Soprano does not actually exist, despite that 85% of your hometown is Italian. Nonetheless, intense and unrivaled pride exists, so the next time you want to shit on New Jersey, just remember that we’re not afraid to rear-end you, give you the finger, and disappear before you can catch our license plate number.