Friday, March 30, 2012

Where I'm From.

Yeah. Vassar boy is from Jersey too. Parts 2 and 3. Of course,
he doesn't know the half of it. Namely, the whole southern half
of the state. But that's Jersey, a mystery even to its own sons.

HOME. I've been thinking about the Jersey map below because it seems oddly relevant in the latest round of liberal attempts to divide Americans in every way possible. New Jersey routinely gets treated to the same kind of contempt the intelligentsia visit on the part of the country between the coasts, say 98 percent, because they don't know much about it. I've travelled a lot, like many Jersey folk, and what I've discovered is that wherever I go in the U.S., we have some of everything I find right here in my home state. We're a microcosm, good, bad, beautiful, ugly, and unique, just like the United States as a whole. Yet we do contrive to live together and for the most part get along. I once urged Barack Obama to take a tour of the country he knows so little about, but now I'd settle for him touring the Garden State. We have it all, north, south, factories, fishermen, farms, rustic hamlets, cities, mountains, wilderness, beaches, lakes, rivers, history, casinos and Chris Crafts, landfills and lavish horse breeding estates, movie stars and mobsters and motorheads, vast riches and terrifying poverty of both the urban and rural kinds, and hundreds of solid old middle class neighborhoods featuring ethnic combinations galore.

I was going to sit on this perception for a while, but then I happened on Anthony Bourdain's wry return to his place of origin, and I took it as a sign. Thanks, Tony.

Here's Jersey:

In case you're wondering, I'm from the part labelled "Pretty Much Alabama." But I've been to all the other parts too. They're at most an hour and a half away via the Turnpike. Which I live below the bottom of. In the deep south of what everyone assumes is a blue state. It's every state, all wrapped up in one. Why so many of the Jersey born flee and then ultimately return.

The way, I'm sure, many are presently locked into a love-hate relationship with the whole country. It's awful. It's unbearable. It's too deep in our souls to root out. And it's home.

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