As Texans, we know a lot about media condescension from New York and Washington.
For me, growing up in New Jersey, I became inured pretty early to being looked down on by the big city across the river.
But snobbish pomposity was taken to new heights in The New York Times travel section this Sunday. Alessandra Stanley, the Times' TV critic previously known most for making a lot of errors in her copy, was assigned a travel piece on the Jersey Shore.
Now we don't like Jersey Shore the TV show, but Stanley's article is so over-the-top in its arch contempt that you almost think it's a parody.
How so? Check these five things out:
5. This quote:
I wasn't exactly flattered when asked to take a trip there. I did feel a bit obligated, since I have written about "Jersey Shore" several times without really knowing much about the territory. I cast around for a travel companion and asked my friend Robin if she would be willing to come along. She said yes instantly, which surprised me until I realized that she thought I meant the Isle of Jersey, part of the Channel Islands. Robin lived in London for many years, and since my last travel assignment had been to the exclusive island of Mustique in the West Indies, hers was an understandable mistake.
She "wasn't exactly flattered" but "did feel a bit obligated" to take on the heinous assignment. That's pluck, lass!
Naturally, she was utterly surprised when her friend actually agreed to go. Of course, it was all a wonderful lark of a misunderstanding, which results in this incredibly self-satisfied collection of words, which could never be written by poor schlubs like you or me: "since my last travel assignment had been to the exclusive island of Mustique in the West Indies, hers was an understandable mistake."
Oh-ho! We bet Alessandra and Robin will get many a rueful chuckle out of this as they endlessly relate their adventure into darkest New Jersey to their friends. "Well, she said Jersey and naturally I thought...."
4. The Breakers: Oh, you wanna-be We've been to a wedding at the Breakers, which is a perfectly fine and old shore hotel. Unless you're Alessandra Stanley, who will cut you for your pathetic attempts to appear above your class:
The online brochure boasts that its "sparkling chandeliers, etched glass windows, granite floors and custom-woven carpeting are reminiscent of European resort properties."
Actually, the cracked acoustic ceiling tiles and frayed carpeting were more reminiscent of Eastern European resort properties, and as Robin pointed out, the closest thing to a genuine antique was the Ms. Pac-Man video game near the exit to the swimming pool.
Oh, snap. That will teach them to try to ape their betters!
3. The "My friend said it, not me" card You don't want to be all negative, but it is New Jersey, for crissake. What to do? Have your friend do the slagging, then you provide a (half-hearted) defense.
Downtown Spring Lake turned out to be nothing special, a few prosaic streets lined with stores and real estate offices, and not at all like Nantucket, as Robin kept reminding me reproachfully. But the surrounding landscape is charming.
That Robin will just never understand the common people as well as Alessandra Stanley.
2. The plucky, daring elan of a war correspondent Fearing you're coming off as a delicate aesthete? Be sure to bring out your gritty war-reporter experience, but do it in what you think is a charming, self-deprecatory way. What does this have to do with New Jersey, you ask? Precious little, but this is about Alessandra Stanley, people!
At first I had hoped not to spend a single night in Seaside Heights, figuring that we could dart in, take a look around, then hurry back to the comfort and quiet of a hotel well outside the town limits.
This was the same faint-hearted impulse that I used to experience when I was a correspondent in Moscow at the beginning of the war in Chechnya and had to make daily forays in and out of Grozny to file my articles. My colleagues grumbled about this exhausting, time-consuming commute across the border, but I secretly relished not having to sleep over in Grozny, where there were aerial bombings and very few toilets.
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And yes, "I had begun to see Seaside Heights as Grozny," she writes.
1. A little humor that will go right over the heads of these New Jersey slobs Her nightmare evening out in Seaside Heights comes to an end. It could have been related in a way that was funny, but it wasn't. But here comes the boffo punch line:
We reluctantly returned to our motel, which was no cleaner and a lot noisier. We lay above the sheets, wrapping ourselves like elderly ladies in protective layers of beach clothes, and each took a sleeping pill -- Ambien and Old Lace.
Somehow she didn't add a parenthetical sidenote "I of course am referring to the Joseph Kesselring play, not the garish Hollywood adaptation."