Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Kathy G over at the G-Spot is my favorite new entrant into the crowded blogosphere. Though I couldn't pick her out of a lineup, anyone who writes knowledgably about economic inequality, Joan Crawford, and Republicans who barbecue dogs all in the same week deserves the widest readership possible. Even better, Kathy G shares my perverse fascination with New Jersey, arguably the most interesting state in the U.S., politically, economically, socially, spatially, ethnically, and racially. And I say this as someone who was not born in the Garden State, who watched the Sopranos on bootleg videos way too late, and who attended his first Bruce Springsteen concert just three years ago, in the best venue ever, the Atlantic City Convention Center, thanks to the inveigling of the uber New Jersey historian and over-caffeinated cultural critic Bryant Simon. Though I wouldn't want to live there, NJ is a great place to spend an afternoon. Last summer, I traipsed through Newark with my kids (yes, they liked it). Admittedly we had the whole New Jersey Historical Society to ourselves, but it's well curated and worth the stop. We rode the subway, ate ice cream to the tune of Brazilian drummers, and had lunch in one of the dreariest diners that I have ever set foot in. For those accustomed (like me) to blasting through the Garden State at 70mph (alas, I got a ticket for speeding there last summer), I recommend veering off the Turnpike for a lunch stop in Plainfield, a marvelously diverse town home to Jim McGreevey, but better yet some of the best Guatamalan food in el Norte. And for a romantic getaway (yes, that's possible in New Jersey), check out Frenchtown, an old mill village along the Delaware about halfway between New York and Philly, a low-key alternative to nearby Lambertville and New Hope.


Pete Jones said...

So it seems NJ/NYC>PA>OH>Detroit, in terms of urban/economic developments and according to some of your recent posts. Why is it that New York/New Jersey can come out of the post-industrial age and brush the rust off while cities like Baltimore and Detroit continue to decline?

Brian said...

as someone with the opposite new jersey pedigree - born in south jersey, BA through PHD in New Brunswick, lived at the jersey shore (Asbury park, yet i have no springsteen experiences), and spent a year in princeton, i conur with your view - lots of interesting things to see, newark is fascinating, yet i wouldn't want to live there again.

as to the above comment, it seems like new york and new jersey go in two directions. in new jersey the urban areas, almost without exception, are key sites of deindustrialization, postindustrial urban decline, and failed reviatilzation attempts, with Camden and Newark being the primary examples, but Elizabeth, Patterson, Asbury Park, atlantic City, etc. also exhibiting similar conditions. yet, the state as a whole does not suffer in the same ways as rustbelt cities in large part because it is located between two of the largest metropolises in the country. the transition to the postindustrial economy - based in both service and knowledge production - is facilitated by new york and philadelphia in ways that midwestern cities, and arguably even baltimore, are not.

by the way, this is a great blog tom. maybe we will bump into each other in mt. airy.

brian connolly

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