I once heard a story attributed to Mel Gibson (long before the world knew he was bat-shit crazy) recalling his sister’s experience, which illustrates how people have the unfortunate capacity for unjustified hatred.
“My sister was getting her hair done one day. She was sitting in a chair and I came up in conversation, and this lady was slagging off on me. She didn’t like it very much. So my sister is sitting in her chair and the lady doing her hair said, ‘This is his sister.’
And the lady turns to my sister and said, ‘I don’t like your brother.’
So my sister said, ‘Oh, I don’t like your brother.’
And the lady said, ‘You don’t know my brother.’
And my sister said, ‘You don’t know mine.’”
Every now and again I find myself guilty of feeling hatred without proper provocation; I know this is wrong. So, whenever this happens I am faced with an internal conflict between what I feel and what I know. I am ashamed to admit that there are a number of people and places that I have grown to hate for no good reason at all. I can’t point to any specific wrong inflicted on me personally, only some intangible quality that has drawn my intense dislike. Sure, there are some people whose reputation is so notorious that hating them without ever actually meeting them seems justified: Adolph Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Michael Vick, etc. But to hate an entire city that I have never fully explored seems a bit unreasonable.
At the risk of losing work at every college and comedy club in town, I must make a public confession; I hate Newark, New Jersey. There I said it. I’ll be the first to admit I have not given Newark a fair shake; not once have I sought out a reason to like the place. This is because every time I have been in Newark my prevailing thought is how can I get out. I’m sure the city boasts many wonderful attractions and many residents who are a credit to humanity, it’s just I have yet to encountered one. Since my experience of Newark has been limited to it’s exit routes, it’s safe to say I do not base my unabashed loathing on what I found while in Newark, but rather the products of Newark that have found me. I’m looking at one right now.
How do I know the object of my scorn and ridicule originated in Newark? I was privy to her deafening cell phone conversation as our plane was landing (as was everyone else on the aircraft and perhaps a few people on the ground). I am now inspired to jot down my vile impressions of this Newark resident while we are gathered at the baggage claim. She has just been met by her husband, who I hate by default, if for no other reason than his appalling taste in women. I fear they are breeding a litter of annoying offspring in Newark, no doubt in training to master the ability to irritate the rest of the world.
My flight started with the woman in question attempting to board before her row was called and then blocking the passageway for everyone else. It ended with her refusing to allow the passengers seated in front of her to deplane first; she bolted up the aisle before the seat belt sign was off – the aeronautical equivalent of cutting in line.
Good manners prevent me from providing an accurate physical description, but I will say that if she should ever need medical treatment for a fall I would not be surprised if she would be attended by all the King’s horses and all the King’s men. As is often the case with people who obviously never participated in any exercise that did not involve chewing, she is wearing a jogging suit. And as is often the case, she has the hooded top of her athletic outfit tied around her abundant waist in the manner my friend, Ron Morey, refers to as “flying the big butt flag.” I just noticed that the hood of her sweatshirt is hanging down below her rotund buttocks so that it resembles the poop-shoot contraption that is attached behind the horses that pull the carriages through Central Park.
The horse’s ass analogy has me laughing, and now I’m feeling a bit guilty for hating Newark. I remind myself many people I know hate the entire state of New Jersey, so I suppose my unfounded abhorrence is, by comparison, moderate.
Growing up in Texas I was unaware how widespread the bad feelings for New Jersey are along the eastern seaboard; in effect, the closer you get to the Garden State the more critics you will find. I feel sorry for children that grow up in New York City; they are probably in college before they learn that “fucking Jersey” is two words. The contempt for New Jersey is so acknowledged they actually sell t-shirts for Garden State residents that proclaim, “New Jersey – We Hate You Too.”
But I have always felt that New Jersey gets a bad rap, and have been very quick to defend it when I can; an increasingly difficult task thanks to the likes of Snooki and The Situation. For example, when someone ridicules New Jersey for having beaches littered with medical waste and hypodermic needles, I would point out that no one in New Jersey actually goes to the “beach,” they only go to the “shore.” (I think the reason they never call it the "Jersey Beach" is because that sounds too close to what they call their girlfriend.)
I have met my near demise countless times in the streets of Manhattan by almost being rundown by a reckless driver, and despite that the offending vehicle invariably bears telltale yellow plates, I continue to defend New Jersey. Regardless that New Jersey is the only state that I’m aware of that doesn’t trust the residents to pump their own gas without stealing it, I defend it. In spite of New Jersey’s only noticeable contribution to society is providing the setting for the Sopranos and Springsteen, my battle cry has always been “Give Jersey a break, it’s not all bad.”
Here is a little test to determine your inner feelings about the Garden State. Pick the person that was NOT born in New Jersey:
If you picked Howard Stern you are correct. However, if you are shocked to discover that someone as classy as Meryl Streep hails from New Jersey, then you too have Garden State prejudice.
I’ve always felt sorry for poor little New Jersey, the state that just can’t seem to please. It shares the very same geographic features and climate as its neighboring states, yet Pennsylvania produced the acclaimed city of Philadelphia, “the city of brotherly love,” and in its shadows New Jersey produced Trenton, “the most dangerous city in America.” The Empire State produced the best city in the world, New York City, and New Jersey answered with nearby Newark. The different values of these municipalities is best illustrated by the fact that the Lincoln Tunnel runs two directions; to go towards New York costs a whopping eight bucks, but to go towards Newark costs zip, nada, nothing, not one red cent. (Fred Allen said the reason they built the tunnel was so people could go to Jersey without being seen.) When Nevada and New Jersey both relaxed their gambling laws, Nevada created Las Vegas; Jersey countered with Atlantic City, which as impossible as it sounds makes Vegas look tasteful. Try as it might, the Garden State just can’t seem to get it right, but I think we should show pity rather than contempt.
Tell me you hate everything about New Jersey and I will compassionately try to change your mind. But tell me that if it was necessary to give the world an enema, you would insert it in Newark… I will buy you a beer.
“The Laff Guru” has taken his message of LAUGHTER=NIRVANA to all 50 states and 23 countries. His awards include: “Comic of the Year,” “Campus Performer of the Year,” and a “Cable Ace Award.” His credits include over fifty TV appearances, including: Showtime and The Late Show. He is represented by GP Entertainment. To find out more about his award-winning comedy act please visit: laffguru.com