Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kevin Smith's NY vs. NJ

Director Kevin Smith did a skit for the Concert for New York shortly after September 11th. The quality isn't great, but it provides some laughs.

Friday, June 27, 2008


If you'd like to see some still images from our film, you can visit our Facebook group.

I posed for pictures (in the rain) in Hoboken for our hopeful New York Times article, with Alex diSuvero snapping the photos. . . while the rest of the NJ: the movie crew was in Philly.

Seen below, in Philly, is our editor, Andrei Litvinov and producer, Alena Kruchkova, getting ready for the big meeting this weekend! We're calling it a wrap very soon! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This is what stir crazy looks like . . .

Writing, editing and not sleeping. This has been and will be the rest of my week.


-I am finishing up a couple chapters on our planned book with John T. Cunningham and Bob Barnett. . . and want them to be good. Mr. Cunningham's 93rd birthday is this week and I wanted a "gift" for him to be a two newly finished chapters.

-The entire film crew is meting Friday to go over final cuts, paperwork, marketing strategy, film festival submissions, lawyer paperwork, etc.

-I am working with photographer extraordinaire, Christian Lipinski, and organizing a cover/ poster shoot for the film.

-I am also sinking my teeth into a screenplay about the Jersey Shore that I hope to have finished by September. . . . if you liked my last entry, you'll love it.

-I am here blogging - but you are reading, so I appreciate your interest and support! We still need donations . . . I would like to thank Jeff Kosiorek, and Dennis and John Heenan for their recent online contributions to our project, which without these donations, we could not even afford to enter the film into film festivals, let alone travel there . . . your support will be noted and is welcome. If you want to donate: CLICK HERE . . . Thank you again!

Here is a back clip from October at the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Why Jersey Pride is unfashionable . . . for some

Below I attempt to dissect why New Jersey has a wounded self-confidence that is unrelated to its oil refineries, traffic jammed roads or power plants. . . . let me know what you think.

In October, Jon Bon Jovi was the host of Saturday Night Live. One of his first sketches was portraying Carlo, who works two no-show construction jobs around New Jersey. The game show studio was "located" in Secaucus, NJ and the premise was that anytime anyone found something offensive, they had to buzz in and say, "Ohhhhhhhh" and then explain why it was wrong.

Fred Armisen's character noted that substituting velveeta for ricotta when making baked ziti was like spitting on his grandmother's grave.All of the characters as well as the host were Italian-Americans from New Jersey and even the girlfriend who came on, was a whiny Italian woman who did the unthinkable: insult Frank Sinatra to her on-and-off boyfriend, the game show host.
Even, before the Sopranos - this has been the image of the iconic New Jerseyan: Italian, working class and thus, uncultured. When Ashley Dupre was revealed to be New York Gov. Spitzer's call-girl, this was only strengthened. (Since her mother's last name was Capalbo - it is safe to say that Dupre has some Italian heritage).

If I asked you to imagine what the prototypical Jersey girl is - she'd probably be the North Jersey Italian (or many times Jewish) girl- as describe here, "the dumb brunettes." Even MadTV had a sketch known as "Jersey ladies" which helped popularize the image of the Jersey Girl. . . though they are somewhat more diverse here:

It is true that not every joke about New Jersey goes back to Italians . . some could argue that the cultures have mish-mashed so much that we're all uniquely "Jersey" now. But, I still argue that the image others have about New Jersey - starts with that usual Italian, North Jersey caricature.

New Jersey has the second largest ratio of Italian-Americans in the US and because of the media's romance with the mafia - this is the image that has endured. It has usually been the North Jersey working class guy - "who tawlks with w's when ordering cawfee and chaw-klate" even though some of the largest Italian-American populations in New Jersey are in Hamilton, Hammonton and Vineland.

It is of important note that most are already third and fourth generation Americans, many have married non-Italians and thus cannot even utter a word of the mother-tongue. (Your writer here is half Italian . . . ma parlo italiano abbastanza bene).

Not all the stereotypes are about Italians, true, but many have started there. However, despite these labels - New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation. We are many cultures, religions and ethnicities and have benefited from them all. We have a vast array of awesome ethnic restaurants because of this. And if you ever check out the New Jersey tourism guide - you can celebrate many ethnic and religious holidays at very big festivals - and gorge yourself on the food that - let me tell you - you cannot get in many other parts of the US. And if you can, the quality is questionable. (My parents now live in Arizona and my dad begs me to bring a piece of pizza or a bagel back from New Jersey . . . we won't even get into Taylor Ham Pork Roll).

When you are right next to the most cultured city in the US, and on your southern half, you have the birthplace of the nation, you will automatically have a complex like you're not good enough. This is why many educated people from North Jersey will tell out-of-staters that they are from "the New York area" or their southern brethren will say they are from "the Philadelphia area" and cringe if they had to utter . . . New Jersey.

While this is going on - many of the blue collar people that I spoke about earlier will embrace the tag of saying, "I'm from New Jersey" along with the Shore people who usually don't try to escape the tag either.

So Jersey Pride has mostly been equated with blue-collar, working class culture (and thus unfashionable for many of the more educated New Jerseyans). And though many musicians like Springsteen, Bon Jovi the band and director Kevin Smith have embraced the state in the media - the bad taste for many remains.

So people fear saying that they are from New Jersey would have them labeled as a "Guido" or perhaps even, "The toxic avenger." And up North, there are those who shun it too and I would think it is why they would rather be Ranger fans than New Jersey Devils fans . . . but let's stay on topic.

I have seen many people at the shore changing this image, whether they meant to or not. They do not hide their Jersey Pride, and although they clash with the group known as "Bennys" - they do share something in common with those Bennys from New Jersey - Jersey Pride, though it may be of a different variety.

So I believe that part of our complex (not the part related to North Jersey being thought of as ugly) is that New Jerseyans, right or wrongly have been stereotyped so much in the media, the North Jersey mafia-tied, Guido guy and big-haired girls- that we seem like such a culturally distinct group - such as the Cajuns in Louisiana - but an undesirable one at that.

And those of us that don't fit under these labels - shun the state as to avoid being labeled unfavorably. In my experience is it certainly why South Jerseyans would say "South Jersey" or "Philadelphia-area" before saying "I'm from New Jersey." . . . They don't want to be called Tony Soprano.

But New Jersey does have culture. We have a tremendous amount of museums, theaters, concert venues and trendy downtowns to make most states jealous. The iconic New Jerseyan as portrayed in the media does exist. . . most stereotypes aren't invented out of thin air and yes, the state has a lot of corruption, but they do blur some lines.

Part of my project in this film has been trying to explore the many New Jersey cultures and find things besides Springsteen and Bon Jovi that unite us and give us all pride. Going here is a big part of that pride for sure. . . but what is Jersey Pride for you?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

NJ 101.5 traffic report

NJ 101.5 FM radio does traffic every 15 minutes, and during rush hour - they break each traffic report into "New Jersey Traffic North" or "New Jersey Traffic South."
It exactly follows our Dunkin' Donuts line, and by now - you probably don't have to be a genius to figure out that NJ 101.5 and Dunkin' Donuts follow the greater media market each NJ county falls into: New York or Philadelphia. But people keep labeling Mercer County either the "Princeton-Trenton metro area" or New York (which wikipedia claims is new as of 2000). I can't seem to prove it . . . but I will say that our line goes through counties . . . and towns!

Monday, June 16, 2008

My favorite New Jersey towns

I am very busy this week - but will try to blog as much as I can . . .

So I thought I would quickly list my favorite NJ towns. I would recommend these to any of you for day trips this summer:
1. Atlantic City - Some bars don't close at all and either do the casinos.
2. Lambertville - Right across from New Hope, PA - If my girlfriend and I ever get married and start a family - this is the number one spot in Jersey where I would want to live (if I ever wanted to leave the fast-paced Hoboken).
3. Red Bank - Locals tell me the town has changed, but with a great mix of culture and salt air (and many Devils' fans) this town ranks very high with me.
4. Haddonfield - a wealthy Philadelphia suburb gets major points for its downtown and its accessibility to the PATCO.
5. Princeton - Because of the University, this feels more like a New England town in many ways, especially with historic Baker Rink, which is still my favorite place to watch an ice hockey game.
6. Cape May - If you're a couple - there is no better place . . . ANY season. Ranks third in the US in wedding destinations behind Disney World and Vegas.
7. New Brunswick - So much energy because of Rutgers and is much more of a city than Princeton.
8. Hoboken - It's my town and if you're young - there is no better place to party . . . well . . besides . . . AC.
9. & 10. . . . you PICK with your emails and comments; I'm interested!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

On WPHT 1210am tonight

I will be on Philadelphia Radio Station WPHT 1210 AM tonight . . . talking about the film, NJ facts and taking calls. The show is 1210 Tonight with Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli and I will be on at 10pm . . . check it out!

Also become a fan of our film on our Facebook or Myspace sites!

Friday, June 13, 2008

On NBC 40 this weekend . . . Zip Code Map

I will be taping an interview with author Jen A. Miller today in the Atlantic City Area on NBC 40.

Don't know when it will air, but they will show some of the first clips from our film on the broadcast . . . if you are in the area, check us out!

Also below is a requested "Zip Code map" . . . splitting NJ with zip codes that start with "08" and "07." It is a weird map and I don't know if it proves anything . . . especially since in Middlesex County, it cuts of the "07s" and makes most of Monmouth County "a 07 island" swimming in "08s".

Thursday, June 12, 2008

New Jersey Stereotype # 9: New Jerseyans are the worst drivers in the US

Well, this made the news recently as New Jerseyans scored lowest in the country (even counting DC) on the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test. The highest score went to Kansas.This is one of those statistics that seems OK on paper, but not in practice. True, we may scare New Yorkers with our propensity to turn on red lights, but like this article says - if you were to take a driver from Kansas and plop them in the middle of the Pulaski Skyway or Route 42 during rush hour or ask them to navigate a traffic circle, or merge after paying a toll . . . that would be as funny as watching Clark Griswold try to get out of traffic circle in London as portrayed in National Lampoon's European Vacation.
"Hey kids! Look! There's Big Ben! And Parliament!"

This was a recent post - but click here to see what one pair of New Yorkers said about our driving skills.

After watching, remember it when you see a New York or Pennsylvania license plate on the Garden State Parkway going down the Shore!

And what does this have to do with North or South? Well we had a driving competition between a North and South Jersey girl for bragging rights. You'll have to see the film to see who won!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A good Jersey Father's Day gift

If your dad is a HUGE baseball fan, as mine is . . check out: No Minor Accomplishment: The Revival of New Jersey Professional Baseball by Bob Golon.  It covers all 8 New Jersey Minor League teams and their interesting stories. 
Thanks to Ms. Jubliee at Brick City Bruins (her Newark Bears page) for the photo and plug for our film!

Down the Shore . . .

Here is some footage from last year . . . since I'm in a Shore mood with this weather!


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Monday, June 9, 2008

Mail from the Jersey Shore . . .

I told you we'd share some readers' emails.

Dear Sir,

My name TJ, I am 23 years old, currently live in Brick and can tell you that I do not live in North Jersey or South Jersey, but live at The Shore and have so my entire life. I have never lived north of Neptune or west of the Parkway. I have flown out of both Newark and Philly. While I root mostly for the Jets and Yankees, my family also supports the Phillies and the Eagles and would never, ever root for the Giants. My family has been based here for generations. Many of my friends are like me, ambiguous on teams, get made fun of for our accents by both north and south Jersey people(found this out when I went to Rutgers), and call it pork roll. Please don't call the towns in Ocean county and Monmouth county north Jersey due to the large influx of Bennys permanently relocating to the area( as a friend of mine now lovingly calls the area "little Long Island"). We are the shore, both area's come to vacation here, but we don't vacation there.

One other thing about this great state: While the North hates the South, and the South hates the North and we at the Shore hate everybody, one thing holds true. Like the Greek City states of old, we do battle with each other on a regular basis, however should a foreigner like NY or Philly, like Persia, attack one of us, we band together to fight off the invaders and I will help my brother's and sister's in the north or the south. Anyway good luck with the movie.

Who lives at The Shore

This one is from the Rutgers' Football message board and a guy from Monmouth County:

Wanna' start a bar fight with someone from Monmouth County? Ask him if he's from North OR South Jersey!

For all of you, out there, who seem to think that the entire state can be neatly divided between North and South, wake up! Central Jersey has always existed but you can't seem to wrap your heads around it because you're too busy fighting over your sports teams, with your godforsaken accents!

I'm from Monmouth County .. it's CENTRAL JERSEY! I can't imagine that it can ever be considered anything but that. Of course, when I got to Rutgers, those folks from Bergen County told me that I probably had "relations" with livestock because I was from way-down-South. And, those from Camden County told me that I was from that nasty area "all-the-way" up north.

The reality is all of you seem to think that the part of the state that revolves around your particular identiy is yours and EVERYTHING ELSE is the other. It's not. There are many parts to the Garden State. It isn't just a question of North and South!

OK - There is something different about the Jersey Shore . . . admitted. Lifestyle is the biggest thing I've noted. But I do think that this last post and his "friends" in Bergen County were all cheering the New York Giants' Super Bowl victory this past year. . . but after that? Is there much in common? As always - you debate.

But now all I want (and I am serious and even contacted his PR guy) is for Greg Schiano to just say "We're ALL New Jersey" for our film . . . anyone out there know him?

New Jersey Stereotype # 10: North Jersey is ugly

Now, there is a certain smell as you travel on the New Jersey Turnpike, roughly between Exit 11 and North. It is hard to refute this . . . we trust our noses.

Additionally, many visitors to the New York Metropolitan area, fly into Newark Airport and never stay in New Jersey . . . they go right into the City. They catch that smell and coupled with the sight of oil refineries and other eye sores in the area - a certain negative vision of New Jersey is etched quite rapidly into visitors' minds. However, North Jersey is not all of this.

There is the beautiful Northwest as seen in Sussex, Warren and Morris counties. Even Passaic county, with the most chain stores on one roadway that I've ever seen (see Route 3 in Clifton for yourself), has much beauty in its far North.

Bergen has the posh lifestyle - great downtowns, an abundance of high end shopping malls and of course - something that is rampant in North Jersey: nail salons.

In Essex County, where I work, there are even more great downtown areas (have you strolled through Millburn ever?) Even Newark is revitalizing with its Portuguese restaurants in the Ironbound area, "the Rock," the new home of the New Jersey Devils, . . . and across the Passaic River in Harrison will be the Red Bulls' new stadium, Red Bull Park.

And of course, there is Hoboken (my current residence) or "playground on the Hudson" as one NJ Transit conductor constantly exclaims.

So yes, there is a certain "smell" in some parts of North Jersey. And it definitely has its share of eye sores (none worse than those in Gary, Indiana). But North Jerseyans have their ego for a reason up here. The assortment of arts, culture and beauty are what many locals think of . . . instead of the congestion, the economically depressed towns (well - they do exist) and the haze.

Sure New Yorkers bust on North Jersey all the time. But when you are so close to one of the greatest cities in the world - that is bound to happen. North Jersey still has a large amount of culture that is a result of being near the creative nexus that is NYC . . . . and despite the comments, it has more to offer than just guidos.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

In the Philadelphia Inquirer tomorrow . . .

You can read the article here. Thanks to Amy Rosenberg at the Inquirer for taking the time to do this story on us! :)
As an aspiring writer, I have to admit: Amy is a great writer. But I was misquoted a couple times. I would never want us to have Staten Island, that is what I said that I believe New Yorkers wanted! And the inbreeding quote was not mine! But I do appreciate an artist trying to paint a picture . . . Amy Rosenberg . . . thank you again!

Readers: Please subscribe to our blog for film updates and other Jersey trivia (link is on the left bar) . . . Soon I will be starting a TOP 10 list of Jersey stereotypes! Email or comment for ideas.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

No major accomplishment, but . . . .

I correctly picked all 21 counties and how they would vote in the New Jersey Democratic Primary for the US Senate in the post below on Monday. I went 100% - 21/21.  . . . Now, most political pundits would have also agreed too, and Lautenberg was heavily favored - so this is no big accomplishment on my part. But how does a guy like me, who is not an insider on NJ politics pick this so accurately?

BECAUSE there IS A NORTH - SOUTH JERSEY DIVIDE - notice they couldn't hide behind "Central" here?

How the Democratic vote went yesterday seems awfully similar to our Dunkin' Donuts line, with Mercer playing the role of flip flopper as usual.  The anomaly of Ocean County continues (something we'll explore in the film too).  Click here for the results.

Monday, June 2, 2008

NJ Democrats and the NJ Divide

So, New Jersey, who will you be voting for tomorrow?  Many people have emailed us to bring this up in the movie - but we don't want to get political.  The movie is a fun look at the divide in our state . . . it will make you laugh and may teach you a couple things.

That being said, on this blog, I will bring it up because it does seems like there is an electoral divide based on geography.  True it has been noticeable before - but expect the divide here to be made more apparent.  

If you don't know - democrat Rob Andrews from Camden County is challenging longtime Incumbent, democrat Frank Lautenberg, for the right to run against the Republican winner in November.  It is true, the winner of this contest on June 3rd will still have to beat the Republican nominee.  But among the three Republican candidates: Dick Zimmer, Dr. Murray Sabrin or Joe Pennacchio there is no debate about North and South . . Zimmer's old congressional district is the middle but not south enough to see a great divide in voting geographically; the other Republicans are from far north.  

But, the Democrats' contest is likely to see a split by voting: North and South.

Expect to see Lautenberg heavily winning in the Northern counties (where more of the population is) and Andrews will win heavily in the south.  It will be fun to look how the counties go and if we would be able to draw a line, huh? 

Here is how I see the voting panning out - (and I haven't been following it that much -just my feelings after traveling the state for a year)

1. Bergen
2. Passaic
3. Morris (though Cresitello could hurt him here)
4. Hudson
5. Essex
6. Union
7. Middlesex
8. Hunterdon
9. Somerset
10. Monmouth

11. Salem
12. Cumberland
13. Cape May
14. Atlantic
15. Gloucester
16. Camden
17. Burlington

The dark horse counties:
18. Sussex and 19. Warren - I could see good numbers for Cresitello here, but Lautenberg probably winning. 
20. Mercer and 21. Ocean . . . I am expecting Mercer to have a 'North Jersey" showing here and going for Lautenberg. . just look at the poll of my town to see how close. Ocean . . I am predicting a very, very narrow Lautenberg win.
But I am not an insider on NJ politics like this guy: Blue Jersey who predicts differences on Middlesex and Ocean amongst others.

Either way . . . vote tomorrow!

Frank Lautenberg


Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wikipedia debate

One of the funniest (and frustrating) things that I have seen written about New Jersey on the web has been the wikipedia entries: North Jersey, Central Jersey and South Jersey. They helped me for the documentary. Then, they changed. Things got deleted and people got mad.

Considering wikipedia's open-source editing - this is to be expected: someone with an agenda gets control and crowds out the others. Also I realize that this blog entry could be inviting disaster - keeping in mind that anyone can edit the online encyclopedia.

But, the North and South Jersey entries need to be improved to what they were a year ago . . . I just feel strongly here because these original articles helped immensely in starting my quest. They didn't influence me so much as they provided me with links and theories that had some foundation. And I kept in mind that it's wikipedia - and has many flaws - but still a source that I enjoy.

Then I had a South Jersey girl write to me about how she thought there was no "Central Jersey." She referenced the newly-edited version of Central Jersey - which she considered biased to the "Raritan Valley." If all of "Central Jersey" is within the New York Metropolitan Area (as the author claims) - then surely that means it's North Jersey, yes?

The article has gotten better with debate - but I tried to add the idea of Plumsted Township (which is near the state's geographic center) and it keeps getting deleted. It just reinforces my opinion that we can't agree on anything within this state! And I don't have to patience to include our documentary's findings yet in these pages.

I'll let you decide. Check out the discussion that contributors to the Central Jersey article have been having. I added a comment. To me, again, it just shows that we can't agree on anything. . . . Let alone if there is a Central Jersey or not.

Still looking for someone to tell me something that they all have in common.