Titus Andronicus, you warm my heart. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’d need all of my fingers and all of my toes to count the people I know with the ubiquitous fetal-shaped outline of my home state inked across their legs, arms, backs, chests and danger zones, but you represent New Jersey—inescapably my home, for better or for worse—in such a affectionate light.
The Glen Rock (now Bushwick-located, sad face) band premiered its latest video, “No Future Part Three: Escape From No Future,” a Tom Scharpling-directed “love letter” to New Jersey, via NJ-only outlets today. This includes the Jersey City Independent, WFMU, the NJ Underground, NJ.com and even my alma mater, WMSC. The melancholy march goes through the Pine Barrens, the Asbury Park Convention Hall, Little Egg Harbor, a New Brunswick basement and a Jersey City rooftop, but it’s frontman Patrick Stickles’ eloquent opening monologue that dots the Is and crosses the Ts.
(via NJ Underground.)
It’s tough, you see. Our backs are often up against a wall. Yes, we are aware that the New York Jets and Giants have been housed in New Jersey since 1984 and 1976, respectively. And, yes, we simultaneously fear and adore the fact that one day—in a punishing blow to American pop culture—television will only be painfully stereotypically NJ-based (take your pick: Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, Jersey Shore, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Cake Boss, The Real Housewives Of New Jersey and even reruns of the retro-hip Adventures Of Pete And Pete).
We can’t help but love and loath our rock history. While we are far too young to remember Count Basie loitering at the Palace Theater, Grandma watched Frank (no last name necessary) croon pre-bobby soxers into soggy puddles in Hoboken (Grandma may or may not still own a two-foot-tall porcelain statue of Ol’ Blue Eyes). Of course our dads saw Bruce (again, nix the surname) at the Stone Pony when he was just a good ol’ boy singing with a gnarly voice and guzzling brews with fans, and yeah, that cad John Francis Bongiovi, Jr. was tossed from our cousins’ high school in Metuchen.
But we’re not the poster children of years gone by the wayside and memorialized on grating classic rock radio. These are not our rock demigods. Our own musical present is rich.
We’ve worked merch tables (one sticker, one cassette tape or CD-R) for our friends’ questionably untalented hardcore bands while they scarred our eardrums in basements and VFW halls—half the room’s hands were X-ed and someone was bleeding from the head. We’ve dug crates in the unending aisles of PREX and only dreamed of a day when we could peruse the stacks of the music library in the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of radio stations, WFMU. We’ve actually bowled at the Asbury Lanes. Our ex-boyfriends dressed as the Misfits for Halloween, and doormen at filthy Austin clubs will point out our well-worn Lifetime T-shirts and say “Hey there, Ms. NJ, the show’s free for you.”
It’s a tumultuous and borderline abusive relationship, and we can’t in good conscience escape or stay, but damn, New Jersey, you’ll always be home. And I love you, Titus Andronicus, for understanding.
Titus Andronicus will play tonight at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. That’s in New Jersey.