There’s a phrase that describes that stereotypical New Jerseyan who takes pride in our homeland, and decide to be spokesperson of the state: dimwitted douchebag. And taking a piece of that oh so charming Jersey confidence, trust me: if anyone of those trashy, no-nothing morons were set a fiery blaze, Bruce Springsteen wouldn’t think to piss out the flames, even with “The Rising” playing proudly in the background.
I’m sorry for that filthy mouthed introduction to a previously conceived positive review. It’s that self-loathing that most Jerseyans get when we finally catch a break, and our fellow brothers and sisters ruin it once again.
An article in the Wall Street Journal gave the Garden State a back-handed rave review recently naming New Jersey a “hidden state of culture …[and an] epicenter of artistic talent”, but not without a lacing in a few jabs:
“Of course, think “New Jersey” and cultural epicenter doesn’t immediately spring to mind. Instead, the name summons up unsparing caricature: grime, gangsters, pollution, ugly highways, Byzantine shopping malls, Saharan parking lots and a level of culture somewhere between troglodyte and troll.
Even the nickname “Garden State” seems to be something like a defensive reaction meant to fend off ridicule. In 1954, when the state legislature passed a bill adding the sobriquet to license plates, garbage disposal had long been a crisis in Jersey. Not only did the tiny state lack sufficient space for discarding its waste, but it had become a dumping-ground for garbage from other states. Gov. Robert Meyner vetoed the bill, writing, “I do not believe that the average citizen of New Jersey regards his state as more peculiarly identifiable with gardening for farming than any of its other industries or occupations.” The state legislature promptly overrode his veto, and the rest is license-plate history.”
The article goes on to name several of New Jersey’s famous alums in limited acclaim, describes how utterly dog-shit disgusting the Turnpike is, and demonstrates, through minimal lyrical quotations, that Lee Siegel thinks the only album Bruce has made is “Born to Run”. We can have our cake, New Jersey, but you’ll be damned if you want to a bite.