Know Kidding
December 22, 2005
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New Jersey Searching for a New Handle

It seems the folks in the Garden State have finally disabused themselves of the notion that their particular slice of paradise enjoys that blend of attributes most closely associated with the term "garden".  You know - fresh air, trees, grass, small woodland creatures.  Simple stuff like that.  All absent, at least on that iconic stretch of the NJ Turnpike that passes from New Brunswick clear through to the New York State line.  
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New Jersey:  Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It – If Tony Soprano was asked his opinion, this is probably what he'd come up with.  It expresses the sort of angst-ridden resignation that would drive an otherwise normal crime boss to the shrink's couch.  Something New Jersey does to those that come from less hardy stock.  And it's an appropriate handle for the final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa.  
The Truth Will Set You Free
New Jersey:  We're Workin' On It – People like honesty, and everybody knows New Jersey has an image problem.  So my advice to the Governor is to just fess up and let folks know that you know?  It makes them feel like you care even if you don't.  And you don't really have to do anything - just saying you're doing something will convince some fools that you're really serious about it.  Supplement the slogan with a liberal dose of yellow "Work In Progress" signs around the state and the sense of a thriving self-improvement program is unmistakable.  People will flock to the state just because they feel sorry for you. 
While it might seem like this obvious conclusion was a long time in coming, as a former Garden Stater myself I suspect that many of my previous neighbors realized they were on shaky ground long ago and just didn't want to rock the boat.  We all knew this day was coming.

Since New Jersey is part of the republic, and their state constitution adheres to many of the democratic traditions of its federal cousin, their first instinct was to ask the people of the state for ideas.  Tough crowd.  And a crowd that knows whereof it speaks.  One resident took ruthless aim at the ludicrous "garden" moniker, suggesting "Come to New Jersey - It's Not as Bad As It Smells."  That stretch of the Turnpike I was telling you about really reeks.  And let's not leave out that NJ reputation for corrupt hacks, which is summed up nicely in this entry:  "New Jersey:  We Can Always Use Another Relative on the Payroll."  

Not satisfied with this clutter from the rabble, the Governor hired a consultant, paying him $260,000 to suggest "New Jersey:  We'll Win You Over."  That's like saying "New Jersey:  Give Us Another Chance!".  Great slogan if your state has an inferiority complex, but somewhat lacking in the confidence and grace normally associated with vacation magnets.  Really, New Jersey's not that bad.  I know.

Somehow the Governor wrung a few promising candidates from his cynical, cranky constituents and these have made it to a list of finalists.  Here they are, along with a few caustic asides from yours truly:

Well, I was thinking, if some consultant can get $260K for coming up with something crappy like "New Jersey:  We'll Win You Over", why can't I take a stab at this?  Here's what I came up with:
In Today's News:  Barley's In, Fiber's Out
The same people that brought you the wonders of a fiber-rich diet have now retracted and point to new studies showing that eating cardboard and such will not necessarily reduce your risk of colon cancer.  Bummer, I was counting on that.  But barley's a different story.  Eat lots of that - it reduces your risk of coronary heart disease, according to the FDA.  At least until they find out that barley causes colon cancer.  And fiber improves heart function.  And smoking improves muscle tone.  Just wait.  There are lots more studies where that came from.
It's Worse Than I Thought!
Not Happy In NJ? We Can Fix That
New Jersey:  Give Us A Break For God's Sake – If all else fails a blatant appeal to pity can't hurt.  Most people already sympathize with the poor residents of New Jersey, so they probably won't mind dropping in and spending a few vacation bucks if it means helping out a neighbor in need.  New Jersey residents will have to be given proper welcome training, though.  Wouldn't want to mix the "Give Us A Break" message with the usual "Screw You" message that is common in Jersey.
Pretty Please?
New Jersey:  Get Over It – Well, I guess there is one last option.  Just admit you suck and stiff-arm potential vacationers.  There are people out there that are submissive by nature and will respond to this perceived threat, especially when it comes from a state with Jersey's reputation for dealing with troublemakers.  Care to keep those knees?  That brings us back to Tony (see first idea). 
Got A Problem With That?
Throw Out The Lipitor