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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New Jersey

I remember my friend James' reaction when I told him that I was moving to NJ.

"The Garden State, huh? Not a freaking garden in the entire state. More like a toxic waste dump masquerading as a state."

Quite true. But that brief assessment is too overly simplistic. The fact is that this state is even more craptastic when you take in the mob, corruption, and the joint love affair for Springsteen and Bon Jovi.

The map of this craptacular state.

NJ is clearly one f*cked up state with the highest dickhead to nameless victim ratio in the USA.

To make matters worse the typical NJ dickhead also claims to be a victim; Because it's a dog-eat-dog world and he/she/it has to do what it takes to survive. Whether that involves ramming their SUV into your sh*t car, outright robbing you, lying to get ahead, etc... Their mantra can be summed up as follows:

"Hey it's not my fault. I'm just trying to get my slice of the pie f*ckhead. Nothing personal."

Hence is the lack of manners in this state where everyone is looking over their shoulder at the supermarket; Prepared to fight to the death over a toxic Jersey tomato. There's no "hello" or "how ya doing." If there is then you better check your wallet.

The Fat Darrel (fat sandwich) in New Brunswick

The typical NJ dickhead also believes that all traffic laws (actually all laws) do not pertain to them. So you get honked at when your car comes to a complete stop at a four way stop sign. Heaven forbid their Mercedes hits someone as a result of running through a stop sign. They would have no qualms stating firmly to the cops that it was the other guy's fault.

I guess this illogical behavior is to be expected. It is the end result of people literally on top of each other.

The McMansion dweller lives next door to a ranch sporting a tarp on the roof whose lawn hasn't been cut in two months. In some places this would spark a neighborhood riot. Here it's just accepted as, "I can't wait until they tear that piece of crap down and put in another 5000 square foot home." Keep in mind we're talking about lots that are well below a quarter acre. The McMansion dweller doesn't give a damn that he lives in a poorly constructed movie set. It looks halfway decent and big from the front; From the back not so impressive.

Besides the back stabbing NYC commuters that perpetuate the landscape, there's the stereotypical trapped in the 1980's Jersey girl and the Howyadoin' "Wish I was New Yorker" male. These timeless idiots sometimes referred to as "shore trash" provide much amusement.

Jon Bon Jovi: "Haha you bought my cheesy album. Loser!"

The Howyadoin' male pretends to be ultra-tough, but really is a relatively harmless dude with some lame tattoos. The Jersey girl believes big bangs still have some mileage, and may or may not have a really lame tattoo. Both speak a brand of broken English that would make a high school teacher cry.

The Jersey girl's voice and mannerisms can be grating. She talks fast; Wears a lot of makeup; Has leather skin. She believe she should be put on a pedestal and taken care of all the days of her life. She might be into the male NJ dickhead, but only if he has a lot of money. She can best be described as pretentious. Many of these former beauty queens enter middle age as muted heavier versions of their former self causing many to vomit in repulsion on the boardwalk. Note to all 30+ former Jersey Girls: "A highly leathered beer belly in a bikini is not hot."

The Howyadoin' guy, which Joey from TV's Friends imitates is an interesting study. He's a fighter. If there isn't a fight, he'll start one. Just like the dickhead though, it won't be his fault if something bad happens. He's proud to be from NJ, but claims to have spent some time working in the city. He likes to talk about all that bad stuff he did in the past, but leaves out the part about living in his parent's garage. He believes the world is out to screw him over and will attempt to get in your face. He's got no problem about being up front with you, but will be displeased if you give it back. It's best practice to keep a distance from these guys especially if alcohol is involved.

Then there is the rest of us. We range from rich to poor of every age, creed, and skin stripe. NJ has a huge influx of immigrants ranging from Italian, Irish, Polish, Russian, Hispanic, Spanish, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Mexican, etc... Quite a few are first generation to boot. Perhaps that is why Spanish is becoming the predominate language in parts of the state.

As far as sports go, East Coasters are not into hockey, but they love their baseball and to a lesser degree football. Basketball comes in a solid third. It is mostly ignored unless the Knicks are hot. No one cares that much about the Nets. The Jets and Giants are talked about at length. The Giants are much more popular. Like the Mets, the Jets are only liked by a handful of people. The Yankees on the other hand. Holy crap! It's a religion. Everyone knows and talks about the Yankees: past, present, and future to the point of nausea.

The Yankees: the most popular religion in the region.

NJ only has one professional sports team, but most people claim hockey is not a professional sport (The Nets are moving.). The NJ Devils got it bad. No one cares even when they won the Stanley Cup. The little love there is for hockey goes exclusively to the Rangers. The Islanders are in the same boat as the Devils.

Most people, myself included are more inclined to what happens in New York. Philadelphia is more reserved for the South Jerseyans. Regardless no one living here talks about how great NJ is. The only exception is summer when there is a mad dash for the Jersey shore.

That my friends is quite an adventure, worthy of it's own post. Imagine waking up at 7:00am. Packing your car full of beach crap. Driving 30 miles south on the Garden State Parkway in stop-and-go traffic; Only to arrive at the beach before noon. Once there you are greeted with hordes of people.

Atlantic City Boardwalk: The thing to do once your broke.

At this point you have two choices: beach or boardwalk. It all depends on your tolerance level and how much clams you are willing to shell out. The sad fact is that you have to pay for a beach pass, parking, food, and sometimes even bathrooms if you go the boardwalk route. Before you know it you paid over a hundred for a day at the beach. The other option is a public beach like Island Beach or Sandy Hook. Both are more scenic and economical since they charge by the car. It's still frustrating though since you will have to drive for hours to find a parking spot.

Despite all this, the Jersey shore can be fun. Watching the weirdos congregate on the boardwalk, riding crap rides, and having a few beers while eating clams could be a good way to spend a summer evening. It almost erases the pain of fighting traffic on the way back home.

Atlantic City: Crazy ass boardwalk cheese.

NJ can be divided into three regions: North, South, and Central. Both the North and South can be somewhat remote at the extremes. The Northern part of NJ is not as populated and tends to be swampy. It can be a bit picturesque in the mountains. South Jersey is flat and is home to the NJ devil, the pine barren forest, Atlantic City, boardwalks, and the Jersey shore. I won't get into the lame tale of the devil here. Lets just say that both the North and South are quite different geographically speaking. Central NJ which forms a corridor between New York City and Philadelphia is the most populated portion of the state. The northern line is somewhere around Morristown and the Southern line is somewhere around Trenton or Princeton. NJ is a very tiny state especially width wise. The entire east-west stretch can be transversed in less than a hour, traffic permitting.

Mount Tammany at the Delaware Water Gap

I feel I'm a couple of car crashes short of understanding the Springsteen love-fest, which is even more prevalent on the shore. Sure he paid his dues; Worked his ass off to make it big. I can respect that. But have you ever listened his music? Really listened to it? It's freaking cheesy! Yet there he goes selling out Giant stadium for 5 days straight. Holy crap! People just eat that stuff up here. When you talk about the "Boss" you aren't talk about the guy who controls your work day; You are talking about the Bruce. He's played on the radio as much as Motown is played in Detroit. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Not that there is anything good about that either. Bon Jovi is much worse. I can't stand that "Have a Nice Day" song. It's crap. All of it... crap.

The politicians are beyond corrupt. Since moving here it's been one scandal after another. Our last governor gave a lofty job to his boyfriend and had to resign soon after the news broke.

OK so here are the rules for surviving NJ:
  • Don't move here unless you like being poor. The property taxes are the highest in the country and real estate prices are approaching California level.
  • Never honk your horn at anyone unless you think you can win the fight.
  • Remember that it's always the other guys fault.
  • Keep away from the "Howyadoin" guys especially if they been drinking.
  • It always costs money to leave NJ. Make sure you have close to a month's salary so that you can pay your tolls.
  • Never give the Policeman's Benevolent Society money. They will keep calling every few weeks, trying to get more of your wages.
  • Don't drink the water. It causes cancer.
  • Don't live in a flood zone. Half of NJ floods.
  • The politicians are all corrupt. Do not believe anything that anyone says.
  • Learn to like the Yankees.
  • Never talk to anyone. New Jerseyans do not like friendliness.
  • Don't go to Camden at night. This city is scarier than Detroit.
  • Don't live in Newark, Camden, Asbury Park, Atlantic City, or Trenton. All these are hellholes.
  • Try eating a fat sandwich in New Brunswick. It's yummy and it's one of your only chances to eat a sandwich with hamburger, cheese sticks, french fries, mayonnaise, tomato, onions, and ketchup.
  • Don't play the boardwalk games. You will lose every time. Stay away from the ones run by the mafia. Hint: They're Italian and look kind of old.
  • The Atlantic City casinos will charge you for drinks.
  • Some of those boardwalk rides are not safe. Observe ride operation before participating.
  • Do purchase a Weird NJ magazine. It's pretty entertaining stuff.
  • Do talk about how the Boss should run to be governor of this state.
  • Learn Spanish or at least a few Spanish swear words.
  • Stay away from the Raritan train line. It's ghetto baby!
  • Make sure your home is not sitting on a super fund site.
  • New Yorkers think New Jersey is a trash dump. Don't tell people outside the state that you live there.
  • Your car lights must be on if it is raining. It's the law or something.
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