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I'm from New Jersey.
There, I just wanted to get that right out in the open so none of you will take me too seriously.
I'm from New Jersey, and that makes me--along with my fellow Garden Staters--one of the most ridiculed-because-of-where-I'm-from persons in this country and quite possibly the world.
Unfortunately for us Turnpike-Tooters, things are not getting any better.
Yeah, we've still got the noxious fumes off exit 12, the urban nightmares of Newark, Jersey City and Camden and the syringe-laden beaches of the Jersey shore. But as if that wasn't enough, it's pretty apparent now that we've been cursed with two inept sports franchises.
I don't really have to specify exactly which two inept sports team from New Jersey I'm talking about, since we've only got two sports teams (no, the New Jersey Generals don't exist anymore). But I will mention their forsaken names for the benefit of those who don't believe that any franchise would be willing to call Jersey home.
The New Jersey Devils and New Jersey Nets have done nothing in the last week to raise New Jersey in the eyes of everyone else.
If anything, both teams have used their marginal successes in their respective regular seasons to to broadcast the shortcomings of New Jersey on a national level.
The Nets losing to the Knicks without Ewing and the Devils dropping two at home against the Bruins certainly hasn't changed anyone's opinion of the third state.
In last Sunday's Boston Globe, columnist Dan Shaughnessy ran a column featuring fabricated quotes from Bruins owner Harry Sinden about his team's upcoming series against the Devils.
"'New Jersey sucks,' the Bruins boss said yesterday. `Not just the team. The whole state.'"
"'Everybody hates Jersey. Too bad some people have to live there."'
While the quotes were obviously the products of a jealous columnist's imagination, I get the distinct feeling that most of the free world was rolling over with laughter at the caustic comments about my home state.
I realize that every sport needs pathetic teams, but why do they have to be from New Jersey? Is it right for so much shame to be heaped on such a small state?
And it doesn't help that the teams across the river--the Knicks and Rangers--have been doing so well in their playoff appearances.
I admit that sometimes I've tried to use the Rangers' and Knicks' successes as a refuge from my eternal damnation as a Jersey sports fan, but to no avail.
Last week I casually mentioned to my girlfriend that I was rooting for the Knicks in their series against the Nets.
"Wait a minute," she snapped at me. "You're from New Jersey. You can't all of a sudden be a Knicks fan."
Deep down, I know she's right.
I have to learn to accept my position in the geographic hierarchy of the United States--the bottom rung--and its attendant responsibilities.
That starts with my role as a fan.
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