MTV stock cast photo, for publilcation
"Manhattan is a narrow island off the coast of New Jersey devoted to the pursuit of lunch." Raymond Sokolov
If you're from New York or Philly, you know we consider New Jersey sort of our 'step-state.' We understand the "Jersey Shore," "Jerseylicious" crowds and the Jersey Housewives too. Deeply. Which is why they amuse, provoke and annoy us so much.
The truth is, Jersey's not about those manufactured celebs (although some do fit a Jersey 'type' or two or three). But please, don't go thinking all people from Jersey are clueless, classless and crotchless.
Most of us are just like you. Well, most of you. Okay, some of you. We love New Jersey, and we consider it less a state than a state of mind. Jersey is special, part of the fabric of our lives and a window to our past.
Oh, and consider this: Jersey is the only "New" state that doesn't require "New" to identify it (try . . . Mexico . . . York . . . Hampshire -- just doesn't work.)
Speaking of new... a new Farleigh Dickinson University "Public Mind" poll attempted to find out who likes --and dislikes-- New Jersey. (Um, why?) Anyway, the results are mixed. But so is New Jersey.
In the poll, 43% who watch "Jersey Shore" and 41% who don't have a positive view of New Jersey. Bonus, New Jersey's positive rating goes to 49% when pollees are reminded up front about "Jersey Shore."
Confusing. Remind them of Springsteen, okay, higher marks. Snooki, The Situation, et al... eh, not so much. But that's New Jersey in a nutshell... not the norm.
The poll also claims people who live near New Jersey feel more positive about the state. The rest of the country doesn't. Feh. We don't need youse guys wit your bad addeetudes.
But really, if you're going to watch "Jersey Shore" or "Jerseylicious" with the right amount of superiority, snark --and understanding-- you've got to know more about New Jersey. Not so much the territory as the gestalt.
I've gathered some facts and factoids for your edification. Even though I'm from Philly, after a lifetime of summers down the shore, I'm a Jersey Girl at heart. Which has nothing to do with Snooki. Really. Ask Bruce.
Natives of New Jersey, New York and Philly will relate, smile, remember, cheer these lists. Those who live anywhere else will find more enlightenment here than from the "Jersey Shore" hot tub.
Who knows, you might even feel a little, well ... jealous. Oh you know you so are!
We'll start with the obvious. Which often defines the New Jersey state of mind.
You know you're from New Jersey if. . .
- At least three generations in your family love Bruce Springsteen. And scream along with his songs on the car radio at top volume with the windows down.
- You know Jon Bon Jovi's hometown.
- In the 80's you wore your hair REALLY high. Maybe you still do.
- You don't refer to beaches -- just "the shore." And nobody goes to the shore, we go down the shore.
- Wherever you park, there's a Camaro within three spots of you.You've eaten at a diner, usually when you were stoned or drunk at 3 A.M.
- The Jets-Giants game has caused fights at your school and/or local bar.
- You know what a "jug handle" is.
- You know what WaWa is.
- You know how to navigate a circle. (Which you also know has to do with driving.)
- You know that a "White Castle" is the name of BOTH a fast food chain AND a fast food sandwich.
- You consider putting mayo on a corned beef sandwich to be a crime.
- You don't in fact ever discuss "organized crime."
- BUT... you knew the exact location of every clip shown in the Sopranos opening credits.
- You've asked people "What exit do you live near?" And no, that's not funny.
- You live within 20 minutes of at least three different malls.
- You refer to all highways and interstates by their numbers.
- You've gotten on the wrong highway trying to get out of the mall.
- You weren't raised in New Jersey -- you were raised in either North Jersey, Central Jersey, South Jersey or Down the Shore.
- Every year you've had at least one kid in your class named Tony.
- You've eaten a boardwalk cheese steak and vinegar fries.
- You know Mack and Manco's pizza is the best in the world.
- You start planning for Memorial Day weekend in February.
- You refer to Great Adventure, not "Six Flags."
- You've NEVER, EVER pumped your own gas
New Jersey Facts
The entire state of New Jersey is a peninsula.
Elizabeth, NJ is the largest seaport in the US -- 80% of our imports come through there first.
New Jersey is the only state where all counties are classified as metropolitan areas. (More taxes? More mayors? Anybody?)
New Jersey has more race horses than Kentucky.
New Jersey has the densest system of highways and railroads in the US.
New Jersey has the highest cost of living, auto insurance and property taxes in the nation. (Lookit Vinnie and try to figure that one out).
New Jersey has the most diners in the world and is sometimes referred to as the "Diner Capital of the World." (You gotta love diner food, it's the last bastion of old fashioned 'home cooking').
Union, NJ has the tallest water-tower in the world. (I would so love to throw a few New Jersey Housewives off it...)
Atlantic City has the longest boardwalk in the world. Not to mention salt water taffy. Water ice. Fudge made on the spot. "Paddles."
New Jersey is the largest chemical producing state in the nation, including pharmaceuticals.
New Jersey has the largest petroleum containment area outside of the Middle East.
New Jersey has the most stringent testing for coastline water quality control than any seaboard state in the country. (Well, duh, look at the previous two facts).
New Jersey is the world leader in blueberry and cranberry production (and you thought Massachusetts?)
Jersey tomatoes and corn are the best you can buy. Seriously. The. Best.
New Jersey Firsts
The first brewery in America opened in Hoboken, NJ in 1642. (Hey, what's more important than that?)
The light bulb, phonograph and movie projector were invented by Thomas Edison in Menlo Park, NJ, the first town ever lit by electricity. The first phonograph records (aka "vinyl") were made in Camden, NJ.
The first AM radio station and broadcast was in Paterson, NJ.
The first airmail --to Chicago-- started from Keyport, NJ. (Not sure where the first email started, maybe UPenn?)
Atlantic City, New Jersey was home to the Miss America Pageant for 85 years. (Moved to Las Vegas in 2005 and broke my heart. 'Show us your shoes!')
The world's most popular board game, Monopoly, features actual streets in Atlantic City.
Jersey City had the nation's first medical center. (Not sure, but it's possible the face life and the boob job were invented there).
New Jersey built the first underwater tunnel -- the Holland Tunnel, under the Hudson River. (Speaking of Snooki... okay, just kidding).
The first baseball game was played in Hoboken, NJ -- also the birthplace of Frank Sinatra. (Wow. Hard knocks all around).
The first drive-in movie theater was opened in Camden, NJ. (See? NOT in California!)
The first Indian reservation was in New Jersey's Watchung Mountains. (This sounds important. I guess because you'd think the West, not Jersey).
And not counting Snooki or those fake hotties from Jerseylicious, here are some other well known role models. Or not.
New Jersey Natives
Jason Alexander, Robert Blake, Judy Blume, Jon Bon Jovi, Aaron Burr, Grover Cleveland, James Fennimore Cooper, Tom Cruise, Danny DeVito, Alan Ginsberg, Alexander Hamilton, Whitney Houston.
Ice-T, Joyce Kilmer, Nathan Lane, Queen Latifah, Jerry Lewis, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Ray Liotta, Norman Mailer, Marilynn McCoo, Eddie Money, Jack Nicholson, Shaqille O'Neal, Joe Pesci, Zebulon Pike, Joe Piscopo.
Kelly Ripa, Susan Sarandon, Elisabeth Shue, Paul Simon, Kevin Spacey, Bruce Springsteen, Meryl Streep, Loretta Swit, John Travolta, Walt Whitman, Bruce Willis, Flip Wilson, Woodrow Wilson, William Carlos Williams, Robert Wuhl.
Ahem, and finally, for allaya 'I Love NY' people...
Both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are in fact located in New Jersey.
New Jersey is home to both NEW YORK pro football teams!
(Don't even ask which one I am!)