As you may have heard, a bipartisan pair of New Jersey lawmakers are sponsoring a bill (S-2368) that offers the state’s dazed and shattered Shore towns a Hobson’s choice: Accept public funds to restore beaches from the ravages of superstorm Sandy and forfeit the right to charge beachgoers an admission price in the form of beach tags OR don’t take a dime of public money and charge at will.
Also, if you do choose to take the taxpayers’ money, you MUST provide seaside public restrooms, which would put an end to incontinent shoobies doing the barefoot peepee dance for five blocks on a hot skillet of sidewalk only to get to the 7-11 and be told by the obligatory pimply kid behind the register reading Juggs that the bathroom is for employees only, asshat.
This bill has, as you can imagine, ruffled a lot of feathers down the Shore. There is a lot of money at stake. Cape May alone pulls in a cool $2 million a year in beach-tag fees, which is roughly what civic leaders claim it costs to maintain two miles of beach.
A coalition of Shore mayors and public officials have vowed to fight S-2368 to the death. And if they lose, there will be terrible consequences. “If this bill passes, we will probably have to close all our beaches to the public because we just won’t have the money to pay for lifeguards anymore,” Cape May Point Deputy Mayor Anita van Heeswyk told the Inquirer.
My reaction, as a lifelong Jersey Shore daytripper—if you call me a “shoobie,” I WILL cut you—is twofold.
First, you can’t have it both ways. Yes, I know God recently tried to erase you from the face of the Earth—for reasons I don’t even want to know, that’s between you and him. But you stood your ground, and I applaud your dogged tenacity. Like I always say, New Jersey never did know when to give up.
Still, you simply cannot take money from the pockets of taxpayers to restore your beaches—on top of the $50 billion in FEMA funds taxpayers are shelling out to fix your beach houses—and then turn around and demand a cover charge from said taxpayers for the privilege of using the beaches they just paid to fix.
Second, it’s the fucking ocean. As it says in the Bible, thou shall not put a goddamn turnstile in front of it. The sea is one of the last unassailable public spaces on this Earth, let’s keep it that way. Can’t afford to staff the beaches with lifeguards? Fine. Make the entire Atlantic coastline swim-at-your-own-risk. It was that way long before we got here and it will be that way long after we are gone. I say the nanny state ends at the water’s edge. The Jersey Shore is way, way over-regulated. No dogs, no bonfires, no beer, no fun. Pick that up. Put that down. Spit that out. Jump down turn around pick a bale of cotton. Enough already. Give me liberty or give me death.
Besides, the ocean is a dangerous place, an awesome force of nature; there’s no reason anyone should be going further into the surf than knee-deep in the first place. You want to go swimming? That’s why the Lord invented swimming pools—so people don’t have to drown in a riptide or wind up some tiger shark’s lunch trying to get relief from the summer swelter.
If they can’t charge for beach tags, the Shore mayors say the cost of maintaining the beaches will fall on the backs of residents in the form of higher taxes. Fine with me. People who live in Shore towns should pay higher taxes. That’s the thing about desirable real estate: It costs more. That’s how you know it’s desirable.
Same thing here in Philadelphia. We pay a little extra for the perks of big city life, and some of that money goes toward making sure it’s a (reasonably) safe and inviting place to visit. You don’t see us making the legions of barely legal Jersey douchebags who pour over the bridges on weekends—to drink, fight, fuck in our alleys, vomit on our ATMs, piss on our cars and break our shit—buy city tags, do you?
Actually, that’s not such a bad idea.
Jonathan Valania is the editor-in-chief of Phawker.com.