Saturday, November 01, 2008

I Can't Escape My NJ Driving Stereotypes

This afternoon, amid 70-degree weather in Maryland, I drove to the land of this blog's name. I'm in the NYC suburbs to enjoy tomorrow's 4:15 Giants/Cowboys game (in person!) with my daddy. I've made the drive between MD and NJ countless times, yet I've never been able to escape NJ stereotypes along the Turnpike.

When I'm far from my DC/Baltimore radio presets, I become a lonely ship captain trying every frequency for a glimmer of human contact. Scanning FM, and even AM stations is a tiresome exercise; there's nothing to listen to.Often, the most reliable signal is the NJ Turnpike Authority's looping reminder to buckle seat belts.

NJ license plate? Check. NJ stereotypical modus operandi? Check.

Because NYC radio stations aren't reliable until I'm north of exit 7, I'm forced to listen to the hodgepodge of southern Jersey classic rock. It's either that or the wind. I lose no matter. Call it the Turnpike Dilemma.

I recognize that I'm traveling in southern and central Jersey, but must every radio station play the same songs on the way to my parents' house? If you have passengers, make bingo cards to play along while you scan for something first played in the last 15 years. Because nothing released in the last 15 years makes it to air, checkoff songs from the following: Bruce Springsteen (of course), Bon Jovi (still stereotypical), and Billy Joel (if only for his references to the NJ suburbs).

Don't hate on NJ's jughandles...they just make sense.

Every drive this way includes at least two songs from those three artists as well as a few from Journey and Fleetwood Mac. Either the stations haven't played anything new in 15 years or southern and central residents along the Turnpike don't know any better. No matter, this afternoon's drive included (and I wish I was making this up):
  • Fleetwood Mac: "You Can Go Your Own Way" and "Landslide."
  • Bon Jovi: "Livin' On A Prayer" and "It's My Life." I realize this was released in the last 10 years, but Bon Jovi's act hasn't changed and this is just more of the same.
  • Billy Joel: "It's Still Rock And Roll To Me" and "Piano Man."
  • Bruce Springsteen: "Born To Run" and "Glory Days."

My sister and I don't represent these stereotypes, but they're alive and well.

Just when I'm in range for NYC stations, with their better signals and songs that don't reinforce NJ stereotypes, I catch the end of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" while smelling the chemical tanks seen in the opening credits on The Sopranos.

Yep, some of my homestate's stereotypes will never die.

1 comment:

MoCoLotion said...

Part of this may be that I'm 130 years older than you, but no trip to the Garden State is complete until we've gotten our fill of New Jersey 101.5. “Not New York…Not Philadelphia…Proud to be New Jersey!”

The perfect mix of music, talk, news, and traffic every 15 minutes.