Up on 96th, between Broadway and Amsterdam, walking by with the SWC:
Far away from the needy is Jersey Shore, which is both the pinnacle of television programming and the downfall of Western society. Someday in the future when we have to answer to our Chinese overlords, we'll be able to point at Jersey Shore as one of the reasons. That, and whoever pays a million dollars to Lindsey Lohan to get her first post-prison/rehab interview, and whoever's taken the most pictures of Britney Spears' vagina.
So why do I love this show so much?
It reminds me that there for the grace of God (or Satan, or punk rock, or Black Sabbath, or common sense — pick one), went I.
I didn't grow up on the Shore. We didn't even vacation there when I was growing up. We weren't a shore family. But there was plenty of Americanized Italian culture to go around. Half of my little town was Italian and half of them were related to other and were involved in all aspects of municipal government. But that's getting off the track here. I like those people because I know them. I knew them. Not personally, but their ilk. Maybe it's more accurate to say that I knew their forebears, especially 20 years ago, when I was a student at Bergen Community College.
We called community college, "high school after high school," or "the thirteenth grade." I was fond of using the former. Even though I never dressed or comported myself like "those people," I didn't think they were odd. It just wasn't me to have my hair done in a rattail mullet, nor did I drive a white IROC-Z with ground effects and a talking alarm. Neither did I wear muscle shirts (not that I could have filled one out), or loose-fitting black and white tiger print pants with a New York Giants helmet on them. They wore lots of neon, too. I referred to them as "day-glo dagos" (not to their faces, of course).
Another thing about the cars is that they'd do them up with purple neon lights under the carriage that they'd turn on at night. The first time I saw it I thought it was a UFO driving down the street. Or maybe that's because I was with a bunch of drunks walking from one of our houses to a restaurant bar.
And what does this have to do with me liking Jersey Shore so much? I'm not sure, really. Maybe it's just that the show reminds me of all these silly people from way back when. I wonder what ever became of the Guidos of Yesteryear? Did they get their associates' degrees and move on to the 14th or 15th grade? Did they steer clear of becoming faggot-hating wife-abusers? Though I guess today their greater fear are towelheads, sand-niggers, and people in favor of the "Ground Zero Mosque." Though "sand niggers" got lots of play during the First Gulf War. Yes, these weren't the most enlightened people in the world.
I'd like to think that Snooki, The Situation, DJ Pauly D, and the rest carry with them a more current, broader understanding of the world today. Of course they try to live in a "Grenade-Free Zone" (and who wouldn't), but that doesn't preclude a more enlightened weltanschauung (a word I learned in community college! You see, it's not all worthless!). Perhaps they do carry a certain tolerance their forebears didn't have.
I really hope so.