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January 15, 2010

A New Decade and the World Looks to -- New Jersey?

A New Decade, and the World Looks to -- New Jersey?

 Alternative title:  Sex, Dope, and Rockin' Robots? Gotta Be Jersey.

By Kathy Sweeney, a southerner

Blog stone-harbor-njLet me begin by saying I have spent many happy days in New Jersey, at the beaches, and many frustrating minutes in New Jersey, at the toll booths.  When The Sopranos took a trip to the Pine Barrens, I knew exactly where they were.  [Note:  That Russian is still out there.  Just sayin']. My family has been vacationing in Stone Harbor, New Jersey since I was a kid.  I have the T-shirts to prove it.  Stone Harbor is at the southern tip of New Jersey, between Ocean City and Cape May. Nothing exciting is happening down there, which is fine with me.  

Blog NJ mapBut let's look north - yes, I know it's a small state, but as you will see, north Jersey is a different world.  We'll start in Hoboken, the site of our first stop - Carlo's Bakery - home of the TLC show "Cake Boss".  TLC used to be "The Learning Channel".  Now it's more like the Side Show Channel.  Hey - I am a very, very short person.  I think it's great that little people are finding more work in show biz.  But really - if a person can get her own show just from being a short candy maker, then I should be in their fall line up.  Pick any or all of the following for the title: "My Short Fat Loud Cake-Addicted Smartass Life".  But I digress.  

Blog cake boss Cake Boss is the manic cousin to The Food Network hit, Ace of Cakes.  It's a bakery run by a big Italian family. They make amazing cakes, and they are very loud about it.  There is yelling and cake-in-the-birthday-face hijinks.  They throw stuff, including cake.  Then Mama Valastro swoops in, smacks people upside the head, tells them to hug, and then sends them back to work.  We love this show.

Next stop, Trenton, the state capitol, where they recently denied gays the right to marry but made medical marijuana legal.  This news will get mixed reviews in Hoboken, where the Valastro family includes much-loved openly gay cousins, and the risk of weed to the boisterous pranks could break the show.  I mean, we already have Geoff at Charm City Cakes, man.

Blog roxxyLincoln Park is next on our tour.  Never heard of it?  I'm surprised, because the sounds coming from the "lab" there had to have been pretty entertaining the last couple of years.  It's the home of the first Sex Robot, Roxxxy. Roxxxy was unsheathed last week in Las Vegas, where two mighty powers collided:  The Porn Show - oops - The Adult Entertainment Expo - and the Consumer Electronics Show.  Coincidence or marketing genius?  Ask a geek, and you'll have your answer.  It was the perfect place to introduce Roxxxy, a combination of high tech and down low.  I am not a man, so bear with me - the 'best thing' about Roxxy is that she will talk to her companion.  Uh huh.  Because if I am going to shell out $9K for a sex toy, I'm really concerned about her vocabulary.  This was almost a whole separate blog - can you imagine writing the script for this project? The mind reels.

Blog mtv-jersey-shore  Which brings us to our final destination - the finest jewel in north Jersey's crown (I'm telling you this stuff writes itself): Jersey Shore.  It's a reality show on MTV.  Which seems confusing, since it's not a talent show. Apparently there is no more Music in Music TeleVision.  It's set in Seaside Heights, a north Jersey beach town.  They brought in self-identified "guidos and guidettes" from a multi-state area and put them in a beach house.  As a proud Italian American, I am not offended by this show.  Why?  Because these kids don't act out because they are part Italian - they do it because they are (cough-stupid-cough) kids getting a free ride at a beach house in North Jersey plus they get to be on TV.  Duh.  

Blog jersey shore 4The show is a rear window to a segment of society many of us have never seen.  The boys primp more than the girls.  I've never met any guy in real life who's schedule revolved around GTL (gym, tan, laundry). One of the guys is in the process of trade-marking his nickname, "The Situation".  The Situation is all about looking good and hooking up, but only if the girl is pretty enough - and thin enough, to suit.  In my town, a guy likes this gets smacked down by the first girl he tries to pick up.  Then her friends mock him until he cries.

The girls slouch around in their sweat pants until it's time to go out.  They refuse to clean up after the boys. In one infamous episode, one of the girls (code name: Snooki aka Snickers aka "I felt like making out and the girl was closer to me than the guy, so I made out with her") got punched in the face by some random jag in a bar.  She was traumatized.  But not so much that she didn't want to get in on a girl fight in a bar the next time they went out.  Reason for the fight?  The F Word.  That's right, Fat.  Drop the F Word towards one of these babes, and you best hang on to your hair extensions.

It's a train wreck, and I dare you to look away.  They scream, they fight, they kiss and make up.  They drink, they fool around in the roof-top hot tub (no chemistry majors in that crew - can you imagine the petri dish of that thing? - It gives me a rash just thinking about it.) Unlike our robot friend Roxxxy, their means of communication seems to require that they drop the F-bomb at least once per phrase. (Words of comfort to Snooki after she got punched: "You know we f#@*'n love you, right?  This guy will never f*@&'n walk in this town again.  F*&#"n hit a F*@#'n girl?  You godda be F@#*'n kiddin' me here.") They pick up people at clubs, then sort them out when they get back to the house.  Sometimes this sorting process involves local law enforcement.  They live on the beach but they go to tanning salons (no real readers in the bunch, either, since tanning booths are like a sign-up sheet for cancer).  Come to think of it, I don't think I've seen so much as a magazine, let alone a book, on that show.  Hmmmm.  

I could go on - and indeed I have.  Because sometimes you need to focus on the ridiculous. This week, our fellow men, women and children in Haiti are suffering.  To the extent you can, please find a way to help. Then count your blessings, and include the fact that you didn't vacation in North Jersey last summer.


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Looking at the bright side of New Jersey, one of my favorite people is from there: Jon Stewart.

Mary - I love Jon Stewart and he comments on Jersey all the time!

Did you see his intro of Bruce Springsteen at the Kennedy Center Honors? Fantastic!

Wonder if any of the men of the blog will comment about Roxxxy. Not that any of them would be interested in anything like that...

The Jersey Alphabet: F*!%in' A, F*!%in' B, F*!%in'C.

Jersey? Ay, fuggedabowdit.


An' I wan' the Penicillin Concession in that Beach house, knowwhutI'msayin'?. An', a'course dere ain't no books or magazines or printed material in dat jernt. From what we've seen of dat crew, dere lips would get tired and dey wouldn' be able to talk or smooch or whatever dere doin'.

An' before any of youse take a trip into the Pine Barrens, youse might wanna read F. Paul Wilson's THE LAST RAKOSH. It sorta kinda could make youse change your mind about what youse might or might not run into out dere. Fuggedabdowit.....

Okay, fine. Here I go again, defending my home state: First, might I note that of the crew on "Jersey Shore," a grand total of ONE of them is actually from the Garden State? We don't have control over the bozos who invade every summer to take advantage of our natural resources and hospitality. And as much an admirer of Mr. Stewart as I am, have we forgotten about NJ's other fine cultural contributions, like Frank Sinatra (just the voice, not the attitude), Queen Latifah (from my home town of Irvington), the aforementioned Mr. Springsteen, and authors like, you know me? I'm just sayin'.

Without NJ there would be no Ceepak. That's allIgottosayaboutit.

I try very hard not to watch reality shows. As pointed out here---I feel as if I need penicillin afterwards.

But . . . last night was the start of the new Project Runway. I'm weak. Very weak.

I have lived in New Jersey for 52 years and counting. I have NEVER heard anyone here say "fugettaboudit," unless they were kidding. I think it's really a Brooklyn thing, like the New Jersey "accent."

When I lived in New York City the first year, I was so homesick, every Friday after work I'd board the bus for Paramus, where my brother-in-law would pick me up and drive me another hour deep into the bowels of the Garden State, where my sister would be cooking up some manicotti . . . to me, Jersey was Shangri-La.

I still find the accents both heartwarming and exotic.

Sorry for the sayaaboutit comment, Jeff. I will not do it again.

My walking friend grew up in Absecon. She loves something called a Jersey Roll. She's also a little person, Kathy!

Also, Jon Bon Jovi is from NJ. He's not only hellahot, but a hell of a humanitarian, too. Many good works.

One of the two most beautiful universities in the US (maybe even the world) is in New Jersey. The Princeton campus is so pretty, only rivaled by that of Duke, which is patterned on, you guessed it, Princeton. The town is very pleasant, too.

And Stephanie Plum comes from Jersey.

But seriously, is it the end of the world, or something? The stupidest, most mind-numbingly dullwitted programming is on TV nowadays. Not as if Leave it to Beaver was any Nobel-worthy material, but at least it wasn't downright crass. And there were, at most, four channels back then, so if you didn't care to see what Father supposedly knew best about, you'd just go outside and play, or read a book. Now there are so many channels available to most homes that just clicking through them takes a programming slot. By the time you realize there's nothing worth watching you could have read a chapter or two.

Well yes, the Adult Entertainment Expo has been in Vegas next door to the CES for years. How else could you get the company to pay for you getting your picture taken with a porn star?

Proving how little reality is in reality TV. "hooking up, but only if the girl is pretty enough"? Real guys know the real criteria is "of age" and "said yes".

Coming from a state that will shortly have an ex-gov (and soon to be on trial) participant on Celebrity Apprentice (oh, Donald, what are ye thinkin'?), I can't diss another state, not even New Jersey, which probably doesn't deserve half of the jokes. Haven't seen Cake Boss, although I do check in on Ace of Cakes once in a while. Too many reality shows (and wannabes) for me anyway. My last venture was The New Iron Chef, and I enjoyed it, but for most of the time, The Amazing Race is the only one I even bother with :o) I'm with Karen on though TV choices. I'd rather just pop in Season One of Life on Mars (the BBC one), which has me thoroughly hooked. (Even the History Channel has digressed once too often for me)
Thanks for the Friday chuckles, Kathy...makes it easier to go out in the dingy melty squishy snow.

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me's Peter Sagal is from NJ (why yes, I am an NPR geek). I hear his accent when he says, "Geh-head [go ahead]" to a contestant.

I wasn't kidding - I love New Jersey. I just couldn't ignore the confluence of significant events from such a small state when it came time to blog today.

Jeff is right about the accent, too. South Jersey sounds more like a Philadelphia accent. Haven't spent time in North Jersey, so I don't know.

As much as I love it, none of them are as odd as Pittsburghese.

I hate reality TV, but like what I've seen of NJ. My in-laws live in Princeton, and on a few of our trips up we've taken a lovely route through Cape May and up secondary roads, staying off the turnpikes. Lovely! Once in town, coffee at The Small World coffee shop (where we joke that we lower the collective IQ) and a stroll through campus where I get my geek on in a very big way. There's a great art museum there, and a lovely arboretum.

I haven't been to the shore - I may need to try it!

I went to Asbury Park to visit my Aunt Marie when I was teenager. I thought it was nice but dull. Obviously, I needed you for a tour guide, Kathy.

I thought this blog was HYSTERICAL. Sorry Jeff. :)

Every state has its idiots. Never watched Jersey Shores, but I swear, my legs crossed at the thought of getting in that chemical cesspool (i.e. the jacuzzi).

And being from ARKANSAS, I will let y'all in on a little secret..I have indoor plumbing. I wear shoes (sometimes). I am not married to my cousin. I know Bill Clinton (but no Me, Margie...not like THAT). I don't eat chittlings (but have tasted them).

I haven't ever been to Jersey, but I may need to go there!

BROOOOOOCE! Or is it Bruuuuuce!?

OKay, that said. I'm on the Acela to NYC! Kind of cool to chat with you on a moving train.
NAncy. I'm all about Project Runway. Keep in touch.
AS for New Jersey, I had one of the most fun times in my life snowed in at the Parsippany Hilton on Christmas Eve. A blizzard. Strangers singing carols. Brandy. (Drinking brandy, not singing it.) Yay, NJ.

It's Me, Margie.

New Rule: If the guy takes longer to fix his hair than you do, it's a deal breaker.

Mia cugina watched Jersey Shore. meh. I mean, we Mediterranean types have always been known for adjusting the fight or flight response to fight or fuck, but this crowd is off the grid. If you are going to have sex on film, you don't do it in that creepy night vision grey and white crap. Doesn't everyone know that? Not that I ever did or anything. Just sayin'.

I was in New Jersey in the early sixties on a road trip with close family friends. Cooped up in a room with teenage girl applying formalyhide based fake fingernails was not a pleasant experience in the dead heat of summer.
About Roxxxy...writing a script for her would seem difficult to me. After the tantalizing talk, would Roxxy be able to answer to companion's request for more beer, doritos or pastrami sandwiches? I think not, since Roxxy does not walk. She is tied to a laptop computer and no way is she going to take orders from the guy who paid thousands of dollars unless he promises to take her to the latest Broadway play on the other side of the tunnel.
As for that guy The Situation on Jersey Shore let's salute him for the mere fact that we're not talking about Tiger Woods anymore. I knew it would happen because we are a fickle nation when it comes to TV.

I've only been to New Jersey once - by accident. I was playing Tourist in Downtown Philadelphia, pulled out of an underground parking garage and was on a one way street. I had no option to turn around since I was within seconds on a bridge headed to New Jersey.

I got in for free, but had to pay to get out. The toll was more than the number of minutes I was in the state!

And for the record - about my state - We do not have cowboys on horseback or Indians in TeePees on the side of our highways. But, evidently we do have accents, because even after 15+ years, whenever I talk to a co-worker in the NE office, she snickers at me when I say certain words. My tone and phrasing amuse her.

Here is Jon Stewart saluting Bruce Springsteen and New Jersey at the Kennedy Center honors. Love it!


Marcia, we have good friends from Oklahoma, and oh, yeah, there is definitely an accent. Of course it doesn't help that one guy lays it on thick on purpose. :P

I think that this year's Kennedy Center Honors was the best in a very long time. Mel Brooks, Dave Brubeck (who didn't have tears in their eyes when his sons played for him?), AND Bruce! When Jon Stewart said Bruce was the love child of James Brown & Bob Dylan, you just know Michelle Obama snorted as she was laughing so hard.

Nancy, Project Runway is one of a select few of "classy" reality shows. Hahahahahah! But I do love watching Tim Gunn.

" . . . can you imagine writing the script for this project? The mind reels."

One may guess that, in Jersey, such a script-writing job will be unionized, perhaps even through the Teamsters. I want to hear the collective bargaining for that one, and the demands for hazardous duty pay.

It's always the Adult Entertainment and Romance industries that lead the way in the New Economy. Even in Jersey.

Wait a minute here...they made a sex robot that could talk? Seems to me that the silent models would be far more in demand, since the type of guy who would be boinking a sex robot is probably not the kind of guy who deals well with having women talk to him.

As for the New Jersey based reality shows, I'll pass. Most reality tv sucks pretty hard and causes us to have to suffer the likes of Jon & Kate. The only reality tv I watch are the ones about animals in the wild.

Anybody want to analyze Doc?
He used sex robot, sucks pretty hard , and likes to watch animal shows, all in the same comment!
hmmmmmmmm, Margie?

Having been born and raised in northern New Jersey then moving to Idaho as a teenager, I could tell you many things about cultural shock. Idaho is in many ways a backwards state. For the tart who is obsessed with Mormons, Idaho is your state. They're everywhere here. In fact,we have more of them then Utah.

I don't remember life been as exciting as Jersey Shore. What I remember the most is all the fun we had as kids. We lived on a lake and spend most of our time ice skating, sledding, fishing, and catching frogs. In the winter we had lots of days with no school because of the snow. It was a great childhood.

I definitely must explore NJ further when life offers the opportunity. All this discussion is causing me to realize I have a very unrealistic view of Jersey as this state-sized, shabby, grey industrial city. How unfair is that? Also must watch the Kennedy Center honors.

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