I have a lot to do today and this wasn’t on the list, but Kevin’s Jersey Shore beach take was so radically wrong that I have to take a big ol’ dump on it.
Also, I’m screeding and will proofread this once, so ignore the typos.
He’s conflating a very reasonable assertion of “take bigger better vacations” (agree) with the oft rightfully maligned parochial Philly mindset of living in our insular worlds, yet discounting the actual advantages of the Jersey Shore, while at the same time offering up equally mediocre (or worse) alternatives.
Let’s break this down:
“You probably know a lot of people like me. They’ve been going to a place like Wildwood for 40 straight years, but there’s no real explanation for it. They just go to Wildwood because they always go to Wildwood. And it’s not necessarily because Cape May sucks, it’s just because Wildwood is their spot.”
This is simply wrong, and his whole premise is built off of it. Sure, Philly folks can be more… adventurous… in their vacations. Guilty as charged. But there are in fact many reasons for why someone goes to Wildwood, or Ocean City, or Sea Isle, or Avalon. The town you prefer is no different than where you choose to live at home– demographics, price point, preference (bars, family, gambling), are all a factor. But ultimately all have the appeal of The Shore, which is a largely unique spot in the annals of WORLDWIDE COASTLINE. Notably:
- It’s close to a major city (so is Long Island, Cape Code, Florida beaches, and so on)
- It has a temperate summer climate (not the case for many more exotic beach locations, which are borderline unbearable in July and August)
- It allows locals to replicate their home living environment in a more condensed, desirable locale
- 3A: Due to this, families and friends can stay within walking distance to each other and the beach, and driving distance to their homes
- There are ample amusements, restaurants, bars, nightlife events, and more
- Ocean activity, regardless of clearness of water, is largely the same in New Jersey as it is in the Caribbean– a jet ski is still a jet ski, fishing is unique to any location but largely the same activity, boats still float on water
- Atlantic City presents a compelling nightlife alternative with genuine B-list celebrities and a few A-list eateries, often not found in more exotic vacation spots, where you get Islanders doing a take-off of the Beatles Love every third night
I could go on. But the convenience can not be overstated. Something as great as the Jersey Shore is a major advantage that, quite frankly, many other large cities don’t have, which ironically is something you would know if you did get out and see the world.
The anti-South Jersey argument posited by Kevin largely hinges on an implicit acknowledgement that the water is brown, the beaches aren’t great, the views are subpar, and YOU SHOULD DO BETTER. More likely, he’s using The Shore as an avatar for his low-key “Philly folks often suck” shtick, which I don’t wholly disagree with a lot of the time.
He also doesn’t address the difference between vacationing vs. owning a house at The Shore. Unless you are super wealthy or just really like airports, weekend trips to a vacation spot 4+ months per year is out of the question. If you own a home at the Jersey Shore, you can conceivably spend 2-3 days per week there, every week, all summer long. There is an absolute appeal for someone’s whose job tethers them to the big city. The alternative is to just stay home all summer or fucking move.
But none of his opinion jibes with his presented alternatives, which are equally insular, not exotic, and in many cases quantifiably worse:
This is a beach vs. mountains argument and irrelevant to the matter at hand. Some people prefer beaches, some like both, weirdos like the mountains. I, for one, hate mountains and lakes, and bears. Mostly bears. So for that reason, I’m out. BUT, I get the appeal of the Poconos for the weirdos who like sleeping in tents and swimming in disease-ridden mud water.
Dumb. Delaware beaches are no better or worse than New Jersey ones, and they present the same alternative as individual Shore towns do– same drawbacks as all Northeast beaches, ultimately mostly the same. If you are arguing against “The Jersey Shore,” you can’t present Jersey Shore South as one of your foils.
“The other side of Pennsylvania”
Yeah, let’s go to Pittsburgh this summer.
“Go to Canada (or Maine)”
Again, this is a largely wilderness vs. beach argument. It has little to do with the Shore. But again, if you want something truly different than a beach destination, we should be thinking bigger than a 5-hour drive.
“New York: two hours”
“Boston: six hours”
“Baltimore: two hours”
“Washington: a little under three hours”
Cities aren’t summer vacations for people who… live near a big city. They’re day trips or long weekends. The choice is never between The Shore or fucking Brooklyn. Two different things.
“Outer Banks: seven hours”
You see this one a lot, and it’s the only reasonable thing on this list. You can get a similar beach experience, for much cheaper, and engineer the social familiarity by renting a massive house where multiple families can stay. But again, the distance and ultimate lack of a radically different experience (it’s not exactly Cozumel or Greece) make it not worth the time and distance trade-off for most.
The point of his piece was to step outside your comfort zone and do something different. Fair. But it touches off a much deeper argument about the appeal of The Shore. We just had a long, penetrating argument in the office about this and I hate my co-workers for the next hour or so because of it. It is easy to dismiss the appeal of the Jersey Shore and chalk it up to Philly people living in their bubbles. But it actually has a lot going for it. Each town has its own appeal that isn’t worth getting into here. But there are few places where beach towns are so heavily condensed into walking distance of the ocean, near a big city, with moderate temperates, that also offer food, drink and entertainment options for a wide-range of people. And yes, the routine nature of going to the Shore helps by breeding traditions and shared experiences with people whom you’re close. That’s the appeal of The Shore.
So by all means, take that grand vacation every year. But don’t shit on The Shore to do it.