Posts Tagged ‘Springsteen’

This is the summer of my discontent, at least when it comes to where I live. It’s a nice enough development, convenient to transportation and just outside the tony town of Princeton. But the twenty-something-year-old townhouses are showing signs of wear and tear. I’ve been having my cracking popcorn ceilings removed room by painful, messy and costly room, only to discover that the popcorn was hiding the contractor’s original sheet-rock handiwork, which is lousy. The new hospital to be built across the increasingly noisy highway my development abuts isn’t thrilling me either; it just means I can listen to the wail of an ambulance fighting its way through Route 1 traffic along with the constant squeal of trucks braking.

What’s got me even more crabby is the state I’m in – not my emotion or physical state but the state of New Jersey. It’sis the most densely populated state in the union with the sorriest excuse for a transportation system you can imagine. The property taxes have long been outrageous. We can’t even manage a world-class public university on the order of University of Pennsylvania or Michigan or Massachusetts. We have all these autonomous little towns, townships and school districts, each with its own library and fire department and school and well-paid administrators located maybe two miles from another fully outfitted township. Total waste of resources and taxes but you know that no one’s going to consider consolidating and letting go of his, her or their piece of the pie. Anyway, in New Jersey, the surest way to lose an election is to remove well-connected people from their comfortable jobs. Thus we have a whopping 38 or 40 or 42 – I’m losing track – billion dollar deficit to go along with the tanking economy. I’m also losing track of the number of politicians and so-called civic leaders who’ve been indicted or will be indicted or should be indicted. Try reading a book by reporters Bob Ingel and Sandy McClure called “The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption.” It’s funny and infuriating, especially if you live here, which I find I’m too embarrassed to admit. I hate when people ask me where I’m from when I’m traveling; I tell them I was born in Wisconsin and New Jersey is so not my fault.

Not that I’m doing much traveling, because this is also the summer of the day trip and the “staycation” which means we’re all hanging out where we are.  Which is why I was so unaccountably moved by an essay in the New Jersey section of the NY Times,  a review of a Springsteen concert turned into a love song about New Jersey. Physically, not to mention culturally, we sport enough  diversity to mirror the entire country. You can travel from the shore to the Delaware River, from the mountains to the marshes and reach the greatest city in the world, New York and its not too shabby cousin, Philadelphia, all on less than a tank of gas.

So while I dream of a warm and welcoming community someplace more afforable and less tainted, where I can live with pride in my small, sustainably green house, well, I’m here. The popcorn ceiling is gone in the kitchen and I’m ignoring the crack in the living room. I’m an hour from the shore and a half hour from the river. It’s summer in Jersey and if it’s good enough for the Boss, it’s good enough for me.

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