Monday, August 5, 2013

Fact + Bonus Fact: New Jersey

Jersey has always held a special place in my heart. As home to the airport I flew from while growing up, its partially responsible for my childhood love of aviation. Its 100 plus miles of sandy coastline is often where my merry band of misfit friends would recreate, typically preferring them to the tampon and syringe-seasoned beaches of our beleaguered home base, Staten Island. I had a high school crush in the Garden State who I would sneak out in the middle of the night to see, carelessly speeding across bridges and through tunnels in various states of inebriation - risking life and limb, all in the name of fleeting teenage infatuation. Fond memories, intricate and well preserved like ships in a bottle. 

New Jersey however has another side to its resume. A darker, more insidious list of traits. Like the fact that it often smells like dead hookers. And if you miss your turn, you have to drive another 30 miles past 300 RadioShacks, Dunkin Donuts and Bed Bath and Beyond-anchored strip malls to turn around. Or that the sports fans of Jersey can't seem to decide if they like the neighboring Eagles, Giants, Jets, Phillies, Yankees or Mets but all miraculously agree on one thing: being a giant pain in the ass. 

I suspect the debate over its livability will rage on for as long as the erroneously self-proclaimed Blueberry Capital can hold off the World War Z style-wall of approaching catastrophe. Betting is still open on what might eventually befall them: its handful of lawless, Mogadishu-like cities, unregulated chemical factories, flamboyantly corrupt government officials, psychotic Russian mobsters, crumbling infrastructure, cancerous industrial pollution, aging nuclear plant failures, gambling-addled senior citizens gone wild? No one knows for sure. One thing is certain though: America's longstanding love-hate relationship with Jersey will thrive until its very last fist pump.  

Fact: NJ has the highest population density in the U.S. An average of 1030 people per square mile, 13 times the national average. 

Bonus Fact: When I asked a local resident how he felt about the population density, he waved his arm toward the inflatable pool and Bruce Springsteen flag flapping in his shared front yard and said "Duz it look like dares friggin people walkin' around everywhere? Didn't think so." 

Fact: Home to the most diners of any state, New Jersey is known as the 'Diner Capital of the World'.

Bonus Fact: Home to the highest concentration of shopping malls, largest petroleum containment outside the Middle East, and the greatest number of oily, roid-raging guidos, New Jersey is also known as 'Virtually Uninhabitable'. 

Fact: New Jersey is the largest chemical producing state in the nation. 

Bonus Fact: Top chemicals produced include: Axe Body Spray, Jwow's One and Done Dark Tanning Lotion and Rumplemintz.

Fact: Atlantic City is where the Monopoly street names come from.

Bonus Fact: Atlantic City is also where paranoid, amputee prostitutes with Bon Jovi tattoos and Chiclet teeth come from. 

Fact: New Jersey is the car theft capital of the world, with more cars stolen in Newark than any other city, including NYC and LA combined. 

Bonus Fact: Newark is a spectacular place to move to if you're from Camden.
Fact: New Jersey has 108 toxic waste dumps. The most of any one state in the nation. 

Bonus Fact: Some of the more famous ones include Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, D'Jais Bar & Grill and Wildwoods Boardwalk. 

Fact: New Jersey is a peninsula.

Bonus Fact: So is Florida...and Italy. Perhaps there is a connection between peninsulas and extreme social dysfunction. I think I just found a thesis topic for my imaginary PhD. 


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