Tag Archive: Jersey Shore

Our Road to Insanity, But A Destination to Our Hearts: My Parkway Schtick

There are few things as quintessentially New Jersey as the Garden State Parkway. It starts and ends at no major destinations, yet it goes everywhere that’s important in the state, and connects everything in the state to everything else. It’s the fastest way to get down the Shore from North Jersey, except when it’s snarled up in traffic, which is 98 percent of the time, except in mid-July, when it’s 100 percent of the time. But let there be no doubt, in Jersey, it’s our Main Drag, even though there aren’t any businesses to mention on it and there aren’t any parades on it, or at least, none that I’ve heard of.

So, my fellow New Jerseyans, here is my Talking Points Memo on the Parkway. If you ever find yourself at a bar, or a job interview, with nothing to talk about, and you’re stunted by the silence, you can bring up these novel thoughts about the Parkway and its central role in the life of the state, and our lives in particular.

1.   It’s New Jersey’s Own Version of a High Interest Loan – Hey, didn’t we finish paying for the Parkway back in ’73? Or was it ’86? Why are we still paying for tolls for a route that was completed when David Lee Roth still led Van Halen? And why have tolls increased at such an astronomical rate? When I was a kid, back in the 80’s, the tolls were 10¢. Then in the 90’s they went up to a Quarter, then a few years passed by and now they’re $1.50 and up. What happened? Who is getting rich here? Besides, the tollbooths look as crummy as ever.

I figure that if you’re going to keep the tolls this high, we need more services on the Parkway. First, they should offer free neck messages at the rest stops. And the food should be complementary. And taste good. And there shouldn’t be weird people at the rest stops…you know, the kind that sing in front of the bathrooms…how did they get there anyway? Are they licensed drivers?

And then there’s the $1 Billion question: when will the tolls stop? When will we be done with paying for the Parkway and not have to sweat about having change or getting caught up in that ridiculous Toll booth traffic?

2.   There are No Alternates or Real U-Turns – Okay, this really gets on my nerves. Driving down the Parkway is a real commitment, because if you need to turn around, it’s going to be a logistical nightmare, if not an impossibility. There are very few if any genuine U-Turns. Each exit is a one-way portal to its own Jerseyesque Dimension. And if you get caught up in a bottleneck, there are no parallel roads. Route 9 does go along the Parkway in some areas, but its path weaves along far too erratically to be counted on.

3.   Old People Rule It – The Garden State Parkway is New Jersey’s equivalent to a moving rest home. I cannot think of any other highway in the nation that is so proportionally used by such a high percentage of the geriatrically-challenged. Don’t take my word for it. Next time you’re slowly cruising south of the Driscoll Bridge, take a look at the cars around you. In the busses? Old people heading to Atlantic City. In the cars? You guessed it. Old people heading to Atlantic City.

4.   Man Eating Sharks Swim Next to and Under It – This is an historical fact. The Parkway, when it gets south of the Heaven-scaping Driscoll Bridge, has long portions which are built directly atop of some of the state’s richest salt water wetlands. And in these dark, murky waters are maneating bullsharks. Don’t believe me? You don’t have to. Just go and see “Jaws.” The inspiration for that movie came from a series of inland shark attacks in the early 1900’s along the present-day path of the Parkway. So if you break down in Monmouth County, don’t go in the water. Really. I’m not kidding. Don’t even play around it.

5.   Zombies are Sure to Destroy it On Judgment Day – Okay, this may seem like a strange point, but bear with me here. The Parkway was constructed through and aside some of the state’s largest and oldest cemeteries, particularly in Essex county. In fact, there is a mile-long portion near Newark that cuts directly through a cemetery that has to be a square mile in size. Well, if you believe in the Zombie apocalypse – and most New Jerseyans do – you know that when the dead rise they’re going to be pissed and hungry, and they’re going to start their feeding at the most logical of places: The Garden State Parkway. So if you don’t want to get caught up in World War Z as it breaks out in Essex County, be sure to have your EZ-Pass so you can speed right through.

6.   It Goes Down the Shore, and Through Our Hearts – If you live in New Jersey, and you do not love and cherish one or more of the Shore towns during the summertime, then you have no right to live here. In fact, it’s in the State Constitution. You have to love the Shore. You have to be willing to schlep down there a few times each summer, in the broiling heat, along the Parkway, to enjoy yourself and while you get into a huge argument with your kids in the back seat. And you have to pay for the tolls, and gas, and the parking. But you have to love it too. Believe me, I’ve never felt more blessed then when, over the past few years, I’ve finally sat down in the sand after a long journey on the Parkway with my wife and kid at, say, Wildwood, on an August day. The sound of the sea, the alternating pretzel and pizza scents in the air, the cackling of laughter from the rides…the hint of “Born to Run” in the background…it makes life worth living.

So that’s my Ode to the Parkway. I can’t think of any other major points concerning it – either positive or negative. If you can, be sure to add your comment. I’d love to hear from you. But until I do, I’ll keep a Cash Lane open for you at the Raritan Tolls…

Christie’s Stuffed Animal Problem

promoted by Rosi

So out in Colorado at the Republican Governor’s Association Chris Christie’s mouth got him in a little hot water again, this time defending Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama against the GOP’s libertarian wing opposing blanket NSA surveillance.

Michael Tomasky has a great take on Christie, what makes him tick and why it’s going to be a problem in the race for the GOP nomination in 2016:

I have a friend, extremely smart about politics, who subscribes to the “stuffed animal theory” of Christie’s candidacy–that he has been too chummy with Obama (symbolized by that stuffed animal Christie won him on the midway) and that will prove too big an emotional hurdle for conservatives. And here he praises Obama again, when it was completely unnecessary to do so.

The guy can’t help it. Thus the quality, which is not Obama praise but something more general: He just needs to say something that he knows will challenge his audience. He just needs to. That’s something a lot of people admire. Arch-conservatives, however, not among them. He’s going to keep doing it, at debates and such, and if he is eventually sunk, I think that is what’s going to sink him.

Pretty accurate, not just the Obama part but also the need to challenge his audience.  It’s a form of needing to be the smartest guy in the room.

What Is Obama Thinking?

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So President Barack Obama is flying in today to visit the Jersey Shore with Governor Chris Christie.  There will be photo-ops and news stories and probably a hug with one of the participants wearing a fleece.  It’ll be great theater, and give even more bipartisan cover to the Governor as he runs for reelection.

Against NJ state Senator Barbara Buono.

A Democrat. The same party as the President.  Who is going to hug Christie on national TV. A Republican.  The opposite party of the President.

Now, it made sense in the fall after Hurricane Sandy ripped through the area for the President and Governor to show up, work together to make a change.  It’s true that Christie didn’t have to be as effusive as he was, but the President came not only with photo ops but also potentially billions of dollars to help Christie recover.

Billions of dollars Christie will be able to disburse this summer.  Just before his reelection campaign heats up.  Against Buono who, as noted above, is in the same party as the President.

As far as I know, President Obama is not also meeting with Buono, or holding a fundraiser, or encouraging other Democrats to get on board already.  This looks like a tacit endorsement of Christie, and essentially a Presidential Pardon for any Democrat who wants to cross party lines to go against their nominee.

That’s a pretty lousy thing for a sitting President to do.

And it’s not as if he had to come to New Jersey this week.  There is massive devastation in Oklahoma he needs to address, and people who could really use his warmth and comfort.  There’s beaches up in New York State he could have visited.

But instead he pointedly came here to be with the Republican Governor and just as pointedly snubbed his Democratic opponent.

What is Obama thinking?

Conservative Legislator Calls for the Government to Fund Free Beaches

I love promoting good posts with which I disagree – promoted by Rosi

The Jersey shore was devastated by Sandy.  We all know that.  It was a potential knock-out punch to thousands of homeowners, vacationers and businesses, one they had no means to prepare for other than purchasing insurance and hoping for the best.  It’s simply not their fault, not due to their negligence, that their communities, homes and resources were squashed  into nothingness.

Many people are calling on the state and federal government to provide funds to help them recover.  One of the primary calls is for money to rebuild the beaches so that businesses can have summer traffic, rentiers can have renters, and vacationers can have beaches and boardwalks.

It’s a reasonable, rational use of our collective wealth, our common wealth, as a people.  The folks who live at the shore cannot afford to recover from this disaster on their own, so we help them to do so by pooling our resources from ME to AK, from FL to HI.  It’s what government is for, taking care of the things that we can’t take care of as individuals.

Now uber-conservative Assemblyman Mike Doherty says that if we do use federal and state funds to restore our beaches the beaches should be free to use.

A Conversation with Jeff Tittel

The Christiepalooza is over. He didn’t save the world, or for that matter, the party. He’s also not about saving the environment, as this interview attests to.

One of the things you didn’t hear about from the governor (or from any of the speakers) at last night’s GOP love-fest was anything on our precious environment. Governor Christie has been on the side of the Koch Brothers pro-pollution agenda for some time. Earlier this week, after the press conference on wind energy, I spoke with Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, on fracking, Barnegat Bay, and Mitt Romney’s “drill, baby, drill” agenda and its impact here.

Will Jon Runyan Ruin My Summer Vacation?

If you follow me on Blue Jersey, my own blog, or Twitter, you may have noticed that my usual rants have slowed down this past week. That’s because I’ve been down the shore relaxing with my family. I love the Jersey Shore. For the past several years, I’ve been spending a full week here every summer, along with occasional weekends throughout the year.

One thing I’ve noticed is the large number of cars from other “shore” states like Maryland and Virginia. I love that they choose to spend their vacation dollars supporting Garden State tourism.

But if Jon Runyan has his way, things may change. The Jersey Shore may become a polluted wasteland that would take decades to clean up. I’d lose my favorite vacation spot, but more importantly, thousands of New Jerseyans would lose their livelihood.

How can this happen? After all, Runyan’s position is that he is opposed to oil drilling off the Jersey Shore. He says the states should decide on whether or not to allow offshore drilling.

His position is calculated to curry favor from his Ocean County constituents, but he’s working under a false premise.

Virginia governor and Tea Party member Bob McDonnell is an acolyte of the Sarah Palin “drill, baby, drill” philosophy. So if Runyan supports “states rights” for drilling off the Atlantic coast, we can expect the Virginia shore to resemble the Gulf of Mexico. How does this affect New Jersey tourism? Simple. The inevitable oil spill knows no state boundaries. Oil from a Deepwater Horizon type disaster off Virginia can follow the Gulf Stream and end up on New Jersey’s beaches. This would be disastrous for our tourist industry. Thousands of New Jersey residents would be out of work, adding to our higher-than-average unemployment rate. It is difficult for me to understand why Runyan has so much support in Ocean County when his policies are detrimental to one of its largest industries.

There are a multitude of reasons why the Runyan/Ryan/Romney team is bad for America and the entire world. But Runyan is especially bad for New Jersey.

Photo: Sunset at Long Beach Island, by author

A Tale of Two Stories

promoted by Rosi

Sometimes, I feel like it’s opposite day watching this Governor and his supporters.  Bad unemployment numbers come in, Jersey is on a comeback. The Legislature wants to do their job and provide oversight, it’s just playing politics. Christie cronies get plumb jobs with great salaries and benefits, no it’s the janitor, teacher and police officer that are the cause of New Jersey’s financial problems. Here’s the video his supporters are running on tv:

But while our Governor and his supporters continue to tout bipartisan cooperation in ads paid for by wealthy hidden donors, here’s a remix of their video in a second episode of the Jersey Shore, starring our Gov and his patented ‘take the bat out on her’ brand of bogus bipartisanship.

Maybe he can take a look when he gets back from his latest trip to Aspen, before he leaves to go to California next week.

Governor Jersey Shore: A Character In The Drama He Has Condemned

Mashup, and Chris Christie totally deserves it. – promoted by Rosi

By now you’ve probably seen video of the Governor yelling at some random person on the Boardwalk in Seaside Heights who had the nerve to disagree with him. Brian Donohue at the Star Ledger expands on the similarities between the Governor’s latest outburst and the Jersey Shore crew he is so fond of trashing:

When I saw the video of the incident, four words immediately came to mind: “Come at me, bro.”

That was the now famous phrase shouted by Ronnie Magro-Ortiz of MTV’s Jersey Shore reality show as he taunted a heckler on the same boardwalk before beating him silly in the show’s first season.

The visual similarities in the two videos is striking. Christie’s “you’re a real big shot..keep walking away” taunt was one step short of Ronnie’s “Come at me, bro,” a phrase that now emblazons t-shirts sold and worn up and down the boardwalk.

It was inescapable what had just happened.

He includes links to video of Christie and Ronnie, suggesting you watch both videos at the same time and then reaches this conclusion:

In the mind’s eye, Christie had suddenly become a character in the same trashy drama, played out on the very same stage, we’ve all been forced to endure for a few years now, and which he himself has condemned. You almost expected the camera to cut to a shot of Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, eyes bulging as he answers the duck phone, blurting “The Governor did WHAT?”

And then there’s this video, which splices it all together to show you just how close the behavior really is: