Growing up less than 30 minutes from the renowned and now, somewhat infamous Jersey Shore, the sun-soaked memories of my childhood summers recap days of beach and boardwalk.
I recall early morning boogie boarding sessions with my dad at Seaside Heights on waves that, in retrospect, were pretty awful most of the time. I remember smashing Heineken bottles with worn baseballs and flipping frogs onto misshapen lily pads for a precious inflatable baseball bat or sweatshop-sewn stuffed animal.
On the Casino Pier, I remember praying for life as that suspicious mini rollercoaster crept out beyond the pier and over the ocean.
I recall being wholeheartedly convinced that the Wild Mouse ride would either snap my neck or finally roll off the edge of its narrow track. My reward for surviving what I thought were inevitable deathtraps? Usually a Kohrs vanilla-orange soft serve swirl or a cheeseburger.
The water was dirty, the food was greasy and I loved it. I loved, and still love, what I remember of my Jersey youth. What I do not remember, and therefore do not love, are the guid-tastic adventures of the gang from MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”
These over-gelled, over-tanned, fist pumping, self-serving sociopaths have stamped the Jersey Shore that I, and many others, know and love with a stigma of parody. They are an embarrassment and disgrace to our little neck of the beach.
This is what everyone probably wanted to hear, right? That MTV has ruined the Jersey Shore for all of us? Get over yourselves. All that this ridiculous program has done is bring a pretty hilarious reality into the spotlight.
I before spoke of my wholesome childhood memories. My observations as an adolescent and adult are a bit different. For those of you who are not typical shore goers, let me tell you that when the sun goes down and Lucky Leo’s lights up, the Snooki’s and Mike “the situation” Sorrentino’s flock by the hundreds to Seaside, dancing at Karma and Bamboo, roaming the boardwalk and even fighting in Beachcomber Bar and Grill. MTV’s version of this “Joisey” nightlife is not so farfetched – not in the least.
In 2006, when Italy won the World Cup for soccer, retailers drooled as “Viva Italia” shirts blanketed boardwalks up and down the Shore, and “guidos” ate it up. Anyone who has visited either the Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant or enormous Wildwood (watch the tramcar please) boardwalks knows that you cannot take more than a few steps without seeing a pizza or Italian sausage stand both in front and behind.
The bottom line is that for all of its family-oriented entertainment, i.e. Jenkinson’s aquarium in Point Pleasant, the Jersey Shore has become a melting pot of New York and New Jersey Italian stallions whose hair products, if dropped on the wooden planks and ignited, would burn the boardwalk from end to end in a matter of seconds. It is what it is whether it’s filmed or not, and whether we like it or not. Give it up fellow Shore kids, the suck fest is here to stay.