The View From the South

It’s not easy being from New Jersey. As one who was born, raised, and continues to reside here, I have suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous stereotypes. It’s a reality with which you, dear reader, are probably all too familiar.

Oddly, I didn’t know New Jersey had such a sullied rep until I left home for college. Growing up in bucolic South Jersey (Medford, to be exact), I had no idea the rest of the country held Jerseyans in such low esteem. I never heard a single Jersey joke growing up—never even knew the notion existed, quite frankly. My only New Jersey bummer was the summertime humidity, and that only lasted for two months each year.

But then I arrived at Eastern University in Wayne, Pennsylvania, in 1999, and I found myself interacting with dozens of kids from myriad states—and almost every one of them seemed on the ready with a quip, snark, dig, or pun aimed at the place I called home. Pollution usually ranked high on the hit list, right above political corruption, atrocious driving, and an overall intolerance toward, well, everyone. And when they found out my last name was DiUlio…well, then it was just game over.

I just didn’t get it. Where was all of this venom coming from? Why did everyone look at me like I was some sort of concrete-toting, smog-spewing, Mafioso hell-spawn? The whole experience felt like showing up to an elaborate black-tie dinner only to be laughed at for wearing pants. What was the deal?

More than a decade later, and I’m over the shock. I’m at peace with the whole situation—which, alas, has gotten worse, what with the current lineup of reality shows.

Which brings us to the point of Southern Scene. This blog will be regularly updated to showcase the charms, characters, and, yes, even the peculiarities that make my slice of Garden State heaven such a sweet place to be. Consider it your portal into life down here, where the pine wildernesses stretches into haunting infinity, and the farms recall life from a bygone age. To be sure, Southern Scene is not going to be all sunshine and double rainbows, because let’s be honest, we certainly have our share of dark, weird, and troubling issues with which to contend. Yes, I plan to write about those as well, because it’s all part of the scene, man.

I am not the first to helm this blog; Southern Scene was initiated in 2009 by Jen A. Miller, my predecessor as South Jersey Bureau Chief of New Jersey Monthly. The blog covers the eight South Jersey counties—an area that includes Burlington and Ocean counties and all points south.

Whether you are in that zone or not, we want to hear from you. All of you. The lovers, the haters, even the out-of-staters. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. Please join the conversation by posting your thoughts, wisdom, and vitriol. It’s all part of the Southern Scene.

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