POP QUIZ! What do the following people have in common?
Bruce Willis, Whitney Houston, the Jonas Brothers, The Misfits, Naughty by Nature, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, and George R.R. Martin
WAIT FOR IT…
Yup, they all hail from New Jersey. Actually I was pretty surprised at the list of people who were born in NJ. Most people associate the state with either being the poor suburb of New York or with toxic waste dumps.
Oh, yeah, and speaking of toxic dumps, The Jersey Shore. That so-called show on the travesty that is MTV. But let’s move on.
Because when you think of New Jersey, you shouldn’t just think of mob wives, desperate housewives, or badly tanned guidos.
New Jersey actually has a HUGE list of famous actors, musicians, and writers who call it home (or at least, birthplace). The funny thing is, of course, that it really isn’t one state. I mean, politically yes it is. On the map, it is. But everyone knows that New Jersey is really two states – North Jersey (which is basically everything north of around Trenton) and South Jersey. We even sound different. I, for instance, sound more like a Philly girl (which I am – more on that) than anyone on television who lives in New Jersey (who all sound like New Yorkers gone bad).
But let’s step down for a moment from the glitzy heights of Hollywood. New Jersey is way more than guidos, mobsters, and dumps. We actually have a thriving arts scene. Ever since moving here in 2006 from Philadelphia, I’ve met people from all walks of life who are living their quiet suburban lives on the outside while their artsy, vibrant inner lives light up the page and canvas and stage.
I’ve already talked on here about the South Jersey Writers Group which has recently published an anthology and is looking to publish volume two as a paid, professional anthology open to all writers. But beyond South Jersey, there are many writers groups including the Liberty States Writers and the NJ Authors Network, just to name two. In addition to writers, NJ is home to artists and musicians as well.
I’ll be featuring some of these great creative types in the upcoming months. So, if you’re from New Jersey (or even if you just live here now), and would like to be featured, let me know. I’m looking for people to speak out and be the voice of their communities, their state, and their creative profession.
As an extra tidbit, Albert Einstein, who wasn’t born in NJ obviously, emigrated to and lived in Princeton.
And somehow I forgot, FORGOT, Peter Dinklage…