I have a soft spot for low-brow culture. I’ve admitted that before and I’m not ashamed of my embrace of certain popular trends. One would think with that being the case that I’d be a huge fan of the Reality Television genre. I’m not, and I don’t know why. By all rights I should be able to enjoy a good human train wreck as much as the next commoner. I’ve even tried to hop on board a few different times and it’s never stuck. My primary issue, I think, is that they all seem so fake, scripted and predictable in spite of being so-called "Reality." Generally reality day-to-day is pretty boring. It doesn’t make for good television.
Nonetheless, I have a certain cultural awareness of what’s happening in that demographic. So even I was taken aback when I spotted a certain town in Pennsylvania named Jersey Shore. It’s not an obscure place either. More than 4,000 people live there.
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How odd. It’s nowhere near the Jersey Shore conceptually or geographically. One would find it difficult to reconcile Snooki, Pauly D and The Situation drinking and carousing along the banks of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River in central Pennsylvania some four hours away from the nearest crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It just doesn’t fit. It hurts my brain to reconcile Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, with the actual Jersey Shore, much less with the reality television show of the same name.
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Seriously, does this look like the Jersey Shore? Where is the sand? Where are the waves?
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This looks to be about the closest thing Jersey Shore has to a boardwalk, too.
Naturally I had to discover how Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania got it’s name because I figured it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with MTV. For that I turned to the "History of Lycoming County Pennsylvania," CHAPTER XXVIII. BOROUGH OF JERSEY SHORE.
As the settlement grow it came to be called “Jersey Shore,” because Manning and Forster were Jerseymen. At first the name was applied in derision by the Irish settlers in Nippenose Bottom, across the river. The place was named Waynesburg in 1805, but the title, “Jersey Shore,” had obtained such notoriety that it prevailed, and when the act incorporating the borough was passed it distinctly said that the place “shall be called and styled the borough of Jersey Shore.” That legalized it, and by that title it has been known to the present day.
So it was named for a derisive slur, as if the people across the river in "Nippenose Bottom" had a leg to stand on.
Snooki probably never set foot in Pennsylvania’s Jersey Shore, however even slightly less improbably, Hunter S. Thompson once called this town home. Apparently he lived in Jersey Shore while working as the sports editor of a local newspaper between his stint in the Air Force and his move to New York City to take creative writing classes. The guy who wrote "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" used to live in Jersey Shore?!? Apparently he was confused, as he explained, "When I got out of the Air Force I got a job in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, which for some queer reason as an innocent child I believed was on the Jersey shore somewhere."
For those unfamiliar with Fear and Loathing, here is how Amazon describes it:
Under the pseudonym of Raoul Duke, Thompson travels with his Samoan attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in a souped-up convertible dubbed the “Great Red Shark.” In its trunk, they stow “two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers…. A quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls,” which they manage to consume during their short tour.
It must be tough to live in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. It looks like a perfectly nice town. On one side they’re slandered by a booze-fueled reality television show. On the other, their most famous former resident is best known for an extended drug binge.
Keep the faith Jersey Shore. You are still better than Nippenose Bottom.