It is nice to come home after being away. Traveling is fun, but home is where you settle into your comfy bed and pillow, find the clothes you forgot to pack, the couch you potato on.
The southern part of the state of New Jersey is my home - land of beautiful beaches, the Atlantic Ocean, blueberries and wine, 19th century Victorian homes. Most people know only of the northern section of our state, renowned for traffic jams, expensive suburban homes, decaying inner cities, tanks and pipes and smells, as well as Sinatra, Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Snooki and The Situation...
This is Chris Christie's Kingdom, rated number one of all the states in the Union in a number of categories, including -
Superfund (polluted) sites (most of any other state),
Camden, rated the country's most dangerous city.
Our esteemed leader, C.C., is so proud of his state he is lobbying for a job requiring relocation out of state. He has not spent significant time in the state lately, preferring Iowa (much less crowded than NJ) and New Hampshire (offering pristine air).
My life began in New Jersey, specifically Jersey City, across the Hudson River from the densely populated, popular island of Manhattan, home to museums, restaurants, theater, Wall Street, luxury high-rises, and wealthy, attractive people from around the globe.
Jersey City, on the other hand, is the people's city, brash and gritty, the state's second largest city. Newark is the largest city in the state. I do not have much to say about Newark because I never set foot downtown, only driving through the outskirts. Once, I believe.
Then there is Atlantic City. The character Nucky Thompson from the TV series Boardwalk Empire was inspired by the real Nucky Johnson. Today AC is the site of another sit-com or dramedy in the making. 21st century financiers fight the city, the state, the people, other businesses, and among themselves over the future of their particular piece of casino real estate. Everyone is a pawn in their power games.
The state's notorious history began, research leads me to believe, with the state's first colonial governor (Edward Hyde, also governor of NY at the time), a cross-dresser, bribe-taker, and job-giver, gifting important positions to relatives.
The duel between Aaron Burr (Vice President of the US at the time) and Alexander Hamilton (former Secretary of the Treasury) continued Jersey's claim to infamy. The year was 1804, the place Weehawken. The two men's longstanding political and personal enmity climaxed in this event, resulting in Hamilton's death and Burr's banishment from the political halls of power.
Political corruption is an integral part of New Jersey history. The Jersey City mayor/political boss of the first part of the 20th century, Frank Hague, worked hard to earn the moniker "granddaddy of Jersey bosses" and died a multimillionaire after earning a meager salary for decades.
More recently a past governor came out of the closet and resigned under the threat of sexual harassment claims.
The 2013 four-day Bridgegate traffic jam is under investigation by local, state, and federal agencies. Indictments have been announced and more are imminent.
Meanwhile Atlantic City is taking bets on the next scandal to hit the front pages of newspapers, crash the Internet, and dominate talk shows...
But I digress. I love the state of my birth. And it is good to be home!