Tomorrow, our mother celebrates the 50th anniversary of living in her house in New Jersey. The anniversary comes at a time when New York radio host and attorney Mark Levin is on a crusade against New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for conduct unbecoming a governor. Like the trailing winds of Hurricane Irene as she departed the metropolitan New York-New Jersey area, Mark is lashing out at the portly governor for his rude and crude orders to New Jerseyans to get off the beach before the storm.
The governor’s manner of speaking is perfectly all right by most New Jerseyans. However, he’s a little hard on the ears of out-of-staters and transplanted New Yorkers who are accustomed to such language (except when driving on the LIE or the Cross Bronx). If Mark has ever been east of the West Side, if he’s ever been over the East River, he has to know that the language is much worse there. The Bronx and Brooklyn are where New Jerseyans learned to talk. My parents were from the Bronx. My brother’s ex-in-laws were from Brooklyn and Queens. Then there was my grandfather, a seaman whose language was as blue as the seas upon which he sailed.
Who are we kidding, here? New York is the cradle of Jersey Crude. My parents moved north to Westchester for awhile. Living amongst wealthier relatives and neighbors, they gladly adopted the more genteel culture. But the Bronx was still in their blood. In our bedtime Bible tales, God spoke with a Bronx accent and attitude.
“Hey, Noah! Where’s my ark?!”
Once the George Washington Bridge was completed, New Yorkers who once only came (by ferry) to New Jersey for riverside vacations (!), came to live here permanently, building suburbs upon suburbs. My grandparents took up residence in a former cottage on the banks of the mighty Passaic River. Good thing Grandpa was a seaman.
My parents, eyeing the landscape and all the rivers warily, chose one of the New Jersey hills for our home. Mudslides instead of floods. They came to New Jersey to escape New York City and Westchester’s high taxes (by way of California). Only, New York City moved right in with them, including a neighborhood filled with former residents of New York’s infamous Hell’s Kitchen. The Hole in the Woods Gang.
The natives didn’t know what to make of the newcomers up on the hill. They weren’t happy we were here. But they had their own peculiar brand of roughness. One friend told us that as early as just before World War II, the locals had hillbilly feuds, where they’d shoot across the river at one another.
Hee-haw! Welcome to the suburbs!
The natives began moving farther west as New Yorkers encroached upon their territory. You can still find their remnants in western New Jersey. The second, third, and fourth generations went somewhat native, but we’re all more urban than rural. Mark can criticize the governor if he wants to. That’s his God-given, all-American, First Amendment right. However, it is interesting to note that just prior to the storm’s approach, the governor indeed told the beach bums to get off the beach. But he didn’t tell them that the government would come and get them. He told them that the government wouldn’t come and get them. If they got into trouble, they were on their own; he wasn’t going to send any law enforcement or rescue personnel out to try to save them. Good for the governor.
How many more people’s lives would be lost in the future, if our rescue personnel died trying to save some fool surfer out there in a hurricane, trying to “catch a wave”? If they want to catch a wave, go out to California, where the water is colder and so, the waves are higher. Our rescue personnel are more important than some darned fools running around in a hurricane.
Legally, the governor did what he had to do to cover the state’s assets from a lawsuit by these fools, or their families. He made it very clear what the state would and wouldn’t do. He had to. No, the government shouldn’t be ordering people what to do, except in an extreme emergency. Mark Levin is a great radio host and Constitutional attorney, but he’s not a weather forecaster.
In a little state like New Jersey, even a little hurricane can cause a lot of damage and danger. It takes a pretty big governor to get through to a lot of small-minded people that putting themselves in danger doesn’t just put themselves in danger, but many other people as well. Since only a relatively small number of people died (although any death is always tragic), mostly they were blockheads who didn’t listen, not even to someone as blunt, brusque, rude, insulting, and crude as Gov. Christie.
Everyone else got the message.