Angry for Paradise
“This is the kind of thing New Jerseyans are built for – we’re plenty tough and now we have a little more reason to be angry after this. Just what we need in New Jersey, a chance to be a little more angry.” -Gov. Chris Christie, October 31, 2012
As is I suppose true of many folks from here, my relationship with this crazy-ass state is best described as love/hate; like a character in a Springsteen (or even a Bon Jovi) song, I always loved to talk about busting out of this place where I’ve lived 75% of my life, but I probably should have known that I never really would. Even when I tried, I wound up getting drawn back after just a couple of years.
What a strange, peculiar state we are. So often the butt of so many jokes from the rest of the country, I’m not sure we’d change a thing about the place, even as we tell you we’d love to change everything about it.
Brash, rude, loud and obnoxious, you say? Damn right. Brimming with an inferiority complex? Guilty as charged. How could we not be when we are constantly living in the shadow of New York? Even on the rare day when that shadow is lifted, we find ourselves in the shadow of Philadelphia. Hell, our two pro football teams refuse to acknowledge their affiliation with the state despite their reliance on our tax dollars, and our biggest public university insists on using the confusing name “Rutgers.”
Industrial, dirty, and crowded? Absolutely. That’s just the sign of an honest, hardworking life filled with fought-for opportunity. There’s a reason no state has more immigrants per capita from more areas of the world than us, whether we’re talking about the Indian communities of Edison, the Polish community of Manville, or the Latino communities throughout the state.
Short-tempered? No doubt. We do our best work when we’re pissed off – without anger, Sinatra (Hoboken) wouldn’t have been the Chairman of the Board, Springsteen (Freehold) wouldn’t be The Boss, Gloria Gaynor (Newark) wouldn’t have survived, the phrase “blistering dissent by” would never have become part of Antonin Scalia’s (Trenton) name, and Paul Robeson (Princeton/Somerville) wouldn’t have fought every single day of his illustrious life.
Of course, that’s all just the part of Jersey we let you see. The other stuff? The stuff where the Jersey Shore isn’t a bunch of nincompoops from Rhode Island, but is instead a working class family’s paradise? We keep that for ourselves.
Monday night, that paradise disappeared. As the governor said, we’re pretty ticked off about it, and having to dodge downed power lines every couple hundred yards with no electricity in our homes isn’t helping.
Expect to be seeing and hearing a lot of Jersey’s best work until we get our paradise back. Don’t worry about missing it – we don’t do quiet well around here, and we intend to be as piercing as a Whitney Houston (East Orange) high note, as unrelenting as an Allen Ginsburg (Newark) “Howl,” as outrageous as a Kevin Smith (Atlantic Highlands) film, as loud as a Zakk Wylde (Jackson) guitar solo, as unrestrained as a Naughty by Nature (East Orange) lyric, as sentimental as a Gaslight Anthem (Red Bank/New Brunswick) song, and as successful as a Bill Parcells (Englewood) playoff run.