Monday, June 01, 2015

Anthony Bourdain's home state: "New Jersey Is Still Awesome"

Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” focused on his own home state of New Jersey, Sunday May 31. He says "New Jersey Is Still Awesome".  I remember that phrase from a job interview at Univac in 1972. 
The film focuses on the shore areas, and did not mention the northern part (where I lived in the 70s for a time) which has hills and ridges.
Bourdain visited Atlantic City, where the casino boom (partly stimulated by Donald Trump) has gone bust. Another $2 billion casino closed after two years.  He compared Atlantic City to Asbury Park, which has tried to recover the “natural way”.  He really didn’t get into the recovery from Hurricane Sandy much (areas that I visited in March 2013).  
But he did spent a lot of time in Camden, one of the poorest communities in the US.  But a half-century ago it had manufacturing jobs, like RCA Records.  RCA used to have a presence in Cherry Hill (when I started working there in 1970, although I worked at the David Sarnoff labs in Princeton).
Of course, Bordain focused on “the food”.  Like some people I know.  (Both Timo Andres and Timo Descamps love to post food pictures on Instagram.  Bourdain should meet them both.) There are food quasi-selfie in New Jersey locals from the show here  and here .  There's a taffy machine with interlocking swirls that suggests a math exercise (parametric equations from pre-calculus class). 
Bourdain also covered the legend of the “Jersey Devil” in the Pine Barrens of the flat, southern part of the state (where the ocean-tempered climate is usually quite mild, like much of the South, although Bourdain did show scenes in snow), a relatively unpopulated area where people are “left alone”.  That legend was the subject of the 1998 horror-docudrama “The Last Broadcast” (Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler), which is quite effective (and uses the idea of “fact or fiction”?)  I actually saw that film at the University of Minnesota Bell Auditorium in a Twin Cities film festival.  Will Bourdain visit Minnesota? 

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