Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jersey Shore

OK, I know it's hard to think about the beach with winter snow storms threatening my Northeast friends but apparently there is a storm a-brewing at MTV (sorry! I couldn't resist!).

If you don't watch MTV anymore, here's some background info: MTV has aired a new reality TV show that is a cross between the ground-breaking Real World and the HBO series The Sopranos. The new show follows a group of "loud and proud" Italian-Americans (also known as self-proclaimed "Guidos" and "Guidettes") during a summer at the Jersey Shore. And yes, it's called "The Shore" not the Beach and you don't say "I'm going to the Shore this weekend" you say "I'm going down the Shore." Where you going 4th of July? I'm going down the shore. Daughter #1 cracks up at this!

I grew up in Rockland County, New York just north of the GW Bridge on the "Jersey side" (meaning I had to take the Palisades South into Ft. Lee, NJ to get onto the GW) so I do have a bit of experience and knowledge on this topic. As a kid I went with my family to the shore for weekend trips and then as a teen and a young adult. Each beach has it's own personality and kind of caters to different age groups. Very similar to the "Redneck Rivera" here in the south (when we first moved here, everyone was simply aghast that Chris & I liked to go to Panama City. I was told that no one and I mean NO ONE goes to Panama City. Birmingham folks only go to Gulf Shores, Orange Beach or Destin. We liked PC because it's seedy and tacky and reminded us of home!).

Here's the thing about the Jersey Shore: the water is freaking freezing and doesn't really start warming up until August. A typical day at the Jersey shore went something like this: leave your house at the crack of dawn, fight the traffic on the GSP and drop a couple of bucks at the tolls (and no GSP doesn't mean a Garmin or TomTom, it means "Garden State Parkway"), hang out on the beach, check out members of the opposite sex, walk back to your seedy mom & pop-owned motel to shower (nothing like drying off with a scratchy, paper thin towel) and get ready for a night on the boardwalk. Walk back to the boardwalk, eat funnel cakes, play games, go on a couple of rides (always save the log flume for get really wet and it totally messes up your hair), have the most delicious lemonade EVER, check out the tatoo parlors, play some mini-golf and basically walk around seeing and being seen.
I will admit I have not been to the Shore in years and years but I do understand that a lot of the mom & pop motels have been replaced by upscale high-rise hotels and condos. So sad. Those little drive-up motels are a Shore institution with many families frequenting the same motel for generations.

When I was growing up and went to the beach on family trips, we went Wildwood a had a great boardwalk. We also went to Ocean City a couple of times. When we were in high school we went to Seaside Heights (aka "Seaside" --infamous for one of BonJovi's earlier videos) and thought we were so FREAKIN' cool! Seaside was maybe 1 1/2 to 2 hours from home and going to Seaside sans parents was a big right of passage for my group. As a matter of fact, we (as in 20-25 of our closest friends) went to Seaside the night after our Senior Prom for the weekend. It was the mid-80's and big hair was totally in. At that time, I-rocs, Camaro's and 280Z's were the big muscle cars (you HAD to have the t-tops) and no self-respecting IA (Italian-American) was without one. Neon was also in and I seem to remember a lot of guys with hot pink or hot yellow, neon green board shorts. After high school the big thing to do was rent a house with a bunch of people at Belmar (I had very strict parents so I was never allowed to do this but Chris did one summer and still has stories to tell).

So, as a Yankee living in the South, I can honestly tell you that yes, Guidos and Guidettes are alive and thriving in the Northeast, particularly New Jersey. It is a total lifestyle...the big hair, the nails, the gold jewelry, the cars, the tans. IA's are also very, very loyal and very, very family oriented people. The show is creating a lot of controversy from several Italian-American civic groups and has been blasted for stereo-typing this particular ethnic group. My question is this: is it stereo-typing when the "actors" are proud, true Italian-Americans simply being themselves?


*Yankee Belle* said...

I could have written this post. Classic...and only true NY'ers get it. And Jersey folks too. =)

*Yankee Belle* said...

ANd I love love love the Hoff pic!!! lmao.

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