OK, I grew up there. I know that Jersey, or New Jersey to the rest of the world, is a lot of things - but cool is not one of them.
Growing up, a lot of the terrible things about Jersey could be morphed into semi-cool things:
All the malls
The giant hair
The accent - cawfee tawk anyone?
Led to a few really cool things like:
Kevin Smith movies
Welcome to the Dollhouse
The Nets, who were the laughing stock of the NBA when I was a kid, actually kind of redeemed themselves. The Devils dominated the NHL for a bunch of years. Oh and does anyone realize that both NY football teams, the Giants and the Jets actually call New Jersey turf their home stadium?
But despite all of it's awesomeness - most Americans still consider New Jersey to be the armpit of New York.
So boy was I surprised by the reaction when I met Swedes 'Wow, A Real Life Jersey Girl?' 'Seriously? New Jersey? How cool is that?' (Not very?). Usually I add in a little caveat that I actually live about 15 minutes from the GWB - that's 15 minutes from Manhattan. Very close for a non-native New Yorker, practically another planet for a New Yorker.
Why do Swedes think New Jersey is so cool? Mainly I have Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi to thank for that. Both of whom I pretty much stopped listening to when I reached the 3rd grade - although I have found new appreciation for Springsteen in my later years, Bon Jovi still baffles me.
Even when I went to take my Swedish driver's license test, when the guy found out I was from New Jersey (he asked about where I had driven before) he ended up gushing all over Springsteen and then apologizing for making me go through the test all over again. I was too ashamed to admit that my New Jersey test involved driving around a parking lot with 'Stop' signs and parking between some orange cones. I passed both despite some serious errors.
Now, thanks to Jersey Shore, the reputation of New Jersey in Sweden is hanging in the balance. I am sad to see it lose it's last grain of 'coolness' thanks to the likes of Snookie and The Situation, but on the other hand, having spent some time 'down the shore,' well, what can I say. There are all kinds of folks in New Jersey.