Living on the East Coast Part 2: Observations of Jersey

If you read Part 1, chances are you will find this quick story highly amusing. If you did not get a chance to read the highly entertaining piece on east coast misperceptions of California(ns) click here. I was getting X-Rays for my foot last Friday, don’t worry everything is fine, and the X-Ray Tech asked me where I went to school. After saying UC Berkeley he goes… you all know what is coming by now since everyone has read my first blog right? “Is that near LA?” To which I responded, “I think you are thinking about UCLA. Berkeley is in Berkeley.” Sigh. This photo sums up my thoughts on this topic.

No further discussion necessary.

On to the question that everyone is waiting for: Is everyone in Jersey like the cast of Jersey Shore?!? Is every female as much of a mess as Snookie? Are there hundreds of The Situation clones molesting the gym and unattractive grenades? The answer to all of these questions is… going to come later so you will still read the rest of my blog post!

I am sorry it took so long to post this. Getting two days to move in before school starts really hindered my ability to do anything other than run around for a week. Finally settled other than a few boxes still in my apartment. Anyway…

A few general observations:

-Having never lived outside of the Bay Area, I was not expecting the frequent thunder and lightning storms and subsequent rain. And when it rains here, it REALLY rains. Two to three times a week it will be a cloudless, sunny day in the mid 80’s and then all of a sudden: BOOM clouds, rain drops the size of golf balls and rolling thunder.

I am not exaggerating when I say that it feels like getting shot by an airsoft gun. If you don’t have any idea what that is or what that feels like, a similar comparison would be if tiny pebbles were hitting you from a trajectory of 10 feet away. I’m not even sure that makes sense. But this weather still is important to JERSEY SHORE. But how, you ask. In due time my friend.

-People drive like assholes. Or maybe like newly licensed teenaged girls, whichever works best for you. No other way to explain it. I always wanted to race in NASCAR, and I like to think driving in Jersey is like the peewee leagues. Most of the highways are either one or two lanes and If you aren’t driving more than 10-15 mph over then the person behind you is cruising on your bumper. This driving style makes my sister Danielle fit right in of course.

Driving in Jersey is like playing Crazy Taxi

-What people in Jersey lack in driving ethics, they more than double with their welcoming demeanor. The amount of support my family has received from complete strangers has been quite shocking. Many people who we meet in the grocery store, at the bank, or at a soccer field distribute their business cards or give us their number if we have any questions or need any help about anything.

Coming from a town like Danville, where some mothers are more concerned about their recent botox or plastic surgery, this is a pleasant surprise. When I was not working in the city, I worked a few days at a summer camp and I can honestly say that staff was some of the nicest/ well rounded people I have met. The old ladies who worked at the grocery store even offered for me to date their grand daughters.

– The roads here are beyond confusing and if we didn’t have a navigation system, probably would not be able to leave the drive way. Many roads don’t have street signs and off ramps appear out of no where with no indication of “Exit.” Even more bizarre, U-TURNS ARE ILLEGAL IN NEW JERSEY. If/When you pass your exit, have fun driving another 10 miles before you can get back to that exit because you can’t turn around.

Similar to the game of “Snake” that we all used to have on our phones, except you have to turn left 4 times until you get back on track towards your original destination. In some unique locations, you veer off the highway to a designated turn lane called a “Jug Handle” mainly because it looks like the handle of a jug.

Turn here or else

So you stop pulling out your hair, I’m just going to be straight up. Only a small number of people in New Jersey are guido douchebags who fist pump and GTL. There definitely are some Ronnie clones at the gym, but as a whole, not so much. On my very first night in NJ, I ran into a couple at the super market who were The Situation and Deena reincarnated. I was horrified. Luckily, this was not common.

As a Californian watching Jersey Shore, I always wondered why the cast always went to tanning salons rather than just laying outside. Connecting the dots from a few paragraphs ago, the thunder and lightning storms kinda sorta hurt that strategy. Go figure.

That Is my belated look at Jersey. My mother was instructed to call it Jersey, never New Jersey. So there you go. Hurricane Irene did knock out the power to my house, but no other damage. Since the power may not be restored for a week, my dad drove 12 hours to obtain a generator. Ambitious. As a send off, I’ll leave you with this gem. Come on Eileen, not Irene.


Living on the East Coast: Misperceptions of California(ns)

There are four “issue areas” I came across early and often while spending the summer in New York City/ Jersey. The most obvious I can only attribute to The Beach Boys. One of the more common questions I have received, “Hey Bro, do you surf?!” I love The Beach Boys, they were my first concert ever when I was in 1st grade ( I’ve only been to 5 in my life, can you believe that?) And “Kokomo” still remains one of my all time favorites. But look, they romanticized California beaches. I think I’m going to coin the new term “Beach Boy Effect.”

Anyway, to the surprise of almost everyone in NYC and Jersey, I don’t know how to surf. When I say no, the common reaction is intense disbelief. “But doesn’t everyone in California surf?” Uh, negative ghost rider. Once people realize I’m serious that I don’t know how to surf, they either no longer take me seriously and still think I’m full of it. Either way, I still can’t surf.

Thanks to The Beach Boy Effect, every person outside of California thinks all Californians go on a Surfin

“Where are you from?” Since Danville does not have much name recognition outside of a 20 mile radius from the Oak Tree, San Francisco is the answer of choice. Undoubtedly a product of The Beach Boy Effect, there clearly is a lack of geographical understanding of California. 90% of people (not exaggerating) follow-up my statement with… the second misperception… wait for it… “I LOVE SAN DIEGO! IT”S SO BEAUTIFUL.” What is this, amateur hour?

The first couple times this happened I laughed and thought people were joking. But then it became a bit of a game once I realized that there was no understanding that these two cities were not even remotely close. And I found it highly amusing. I mean come on, they are at opposite sides of the state! Do people not look at Google Maps these days? It’s good to know that San Diego, LA and San Fran are all separated within a few minutes of each other, this will certainly help with getting from one place to the other faster. The carry over traffic from LA and SF could create some problems though on the one highway that connects the whole state though.

The campus that does not exist to the East Coast

I was definitely expecting the surfing question, some what expecting the SoCal love but was totally unprepared for the final problem: When people ask what school I go to, over half did not know what the University of California, Berkeley was! I mean, blank expressions would follow. I could have been speaking Spanish for all they knew.

I know this isn’t a major travesty that applies to all Californians but look, the UC system is the best public university system in the country. If people don’t know the best one in the state/ country, this is a problem! Cal? What is that? I found this shocking. One lady asked where UC Berkeley was located. I said “Uhhh… in Berkeley?” Others would ask how I like Cal Tech or Cal State. JV Tryouts were last week folks!

Probably the funniest thing people think about California is that the weather is perfect. During a blistering heat wave in June, someone made a comment to me that it must be difficult for me to deal with 90 degree weather since I’m from California. “Uhhh, during the summer time it does actually get into the 90’s and 100’s some times, we just don’t have humidity.” Other person- “It’s not always 70?” I can not make this stuff up if I tried, people really think these things! I’m probably going to melt because I have never experienced such heat before in perfect weather California.

Clearly most people have never been to San Francisco or else they would not think these silly things. The only logical explanation behind the surfing, geographical ignorance and aloofness about the weather can all be tied together with one simple idea: The Beach Boy Effect. While spectacular music that is great to listen to on a summer day while at the beach, it has forever altered and distorted the views of others everywhere.

Random Tidbit of the Day: If you like action movies/ their musical scores, the best Pandora channel to listen to is: Halo (Film Score) Radio. Damn right I’m listening to a Halo radio station. Get on my level. This station has it all from The Dark Knight, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Pirates, Indiana Jones and even Transformers. The song that is on while I’m typing this paragraph is the musical score when Jack Sparrow charges into the Kraken at the end Pirates 2: Dead Man’s Chest. Hello, Beastie. You’re welcome.

Is there a more manlier death than this? Why did the third movie suck so bad? Why is Jack Sparrow such a champion? If you went through this entire post without a song from The Beach Boys playing in your head, then you must be a Communist. Back Monday on Jersey Shore, Subways and more! Your cousin, Vinnie.