Over yonder in New Jersey, our license plates have the phrase “The Garden State” on them. That’s what New Jersey is known for most. Gardens. It’s true. If you’ve never been here, you can’t dump a dead body somewhere without stepping on a tomato in a garden. There’s a potted plant in front of my apartment. I don’t know who put it there or why it’s filled with cigarette butts. That’s still a garden though, by our standards. You know that much about New Jersey. What you may not know is that the one thing we have more than gardens are hacks.
Webster defines a hack as someone who lacks talent, originality, and has at one point gone by an alias. Webster of course being my black neighbor Jerry Webster. He so smart! I’m a firm believer that outside of Branson, Missouri no place has more entertainment hacks available to the public. You name it, New Jersey has a worse version.
(This isn’t my neighbor Jerry Webster but I’m racist so all black men look-alike to me)
I’ll start with comedians, something I know all too well. Go to just about any comedy club in New Jersey’s website and look at the upcoming schedule. If you recognize someone’s name you’re a pretty big comedy fan. We have guys with names like Bob-O, Spitzy, and Richard “The Human Pretzel” Ramirez. At least two of them use a dummy or a strange instrument in their act which drives the crowd wild. These are the stereotypes of hacks in the comedy world. They do goofy voices, invite audience members on stage, and have headshots older than I am. Yeah, they were on HBO. That was 1991 and it was as an extra on an episode of Tales from the Crypt. I don’t have a problem with exaggerating your credits. It’s hard to convince people to see a comedy show when they could do more fine things like go to a poetry open mic or circumcise themselves. I’m mostly annoyed that no matter what comedy club I look at I see the same damn names over and over again. New Jersey, if you haven’t made it here, try another 15 years. Bookers don’t have time to look at anything new. They go with what’s familiar to them.
(These guys do a great bit about Roosevelt’s “New Deal”)
Professional wrestling is pretty big here. The film The Wrestler actually took place here. It’s a pretty realistic story. You can’t go to a VFW without seeing a poster for an upcoming wrestling show. Why do I go to VFWs you ask? To shout “Baby killers!” at everyone inside. Thing is, these wrestling organizations involve everyone on their way up and then on their way down again. You can see the evil German Jack Fritzenstein take on someone like Jimmy Snuka on any given night. Of course Jack is going to lose. His real name is Ted Hall and he lives in East Orange. He’s just a kid trying to make it in the competitive world of gay sports theater, wrestling. I’m not sure who actually goes to these shows. Probably drunks and weekend dads lying to their sons saying that they’re watching the stars of tomorrow, today!
(If you turn your head quickly and are color blind you might think The Rock is the guy in the upper right hand corner. Thankfully we know better)
The biggest city of hacks is also located in New Jersey. It’s called Atlantic City. Sure, there are some big acts that play there once in a while. But for the most part, you’re stuck seeing people who couldn’t make it in Las Vegas. I’ve been to AC twice. It wasn’t as crummy as everyone made it out to be. Yeah the beaches looked gross and the only person performing whose name I recognized was Liza Minnelli (oh joy!) but it still had some charm. It has a boardwalk where Asian women yell out at you demanding they give you a massage. The security isn’t even all that tight. I could have easily walked into a “member’s only” swimming pool. But why would I do that? I’m too much of a pussy to screw around with anyone’s business.
(All of Cindy’s
fans friends showed up to show her some support as she watched her hopes and dreams slip away)
I’ve only lived in one area of the world so I don’t know what it’s like where you live. Are you too surrounded by hacks? I can usually spot them. If you know a musician who sounds quite a bit like someone more famous, they’re a hack. It’s not being a hack being a cover band though. I like to call them rip-off bands because that usually pisses them off. Learn something original asshole. If Lifehouse can play Lifehouse songs, anyone can play Lifehouse songs.