Titus Andronicus - In A Big City
I feel like I’ve posted this before, but the more I listen to this song, the more it becomes a personal anthem to me. Like all good Titus songs, it’s about fighting the faceless enemy that is mass society, being simultaneously proud and resentful of New Jersey, and asserting your identity by screaming it.
I think everyone from New Jersey who moved to New York to peruse something creative relates to these lyrics:I grew up on one side of the river I was a disturbed, dangerous drifter moved over to the other side of the river now I’m a drop in a deluge of hipsters … and some of my dreams are coming true and some of the smoke from the other room is seeping through and some other ghost in another tomb is screaming too
but as silly as it sounds, it feels deeply personal to me. I’ve told people about the weird anger transplanted New Jerseyians have, this deep desire to constantly and aggressively prove themselves, unable to fully wash off the metaphorical stench of the Garden State that they think they have, that alienates them from the rest of the city folk. I’ve been going to New York since I was a kid, but it’s never going to feel like home to me no matter how long I’m here. Some people can move to New York and fully integrate themselves, learn the subway systems and where the good pizza is, but people from New Jersey can’t shake the lifetime of begging your parents to take the upper level of the George Washington bridge so you could take the whole city in, of taking the PATH after a terrible show and wondering why you’re not funnier, of Secaucus Junction and the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels and the infinite ways to get from Jersey to Manhattan but no real way to feel like you belong.
Reblogged because I forgot replies were dumb:
This is interesting because it seems like a North Jersey thing. South Jersey is basically a world away and inhabits none of the stereotypes (or the feelings of inadequacy), so in many ways I always felt like a transplant in “Real” New Jersey. Moving to New York for me was like a duck taking to water.
Part of me thinks that’s because our regional identifier is Philadelphia and not New York, which is a very different metropolis to aspire to. Philly is a town of underdogs. “Belonging” is about the worst thing you could do there, because it would mean you were a bigheaded calf fat on its own offal, and therefore ripe to be butchered by the nothings you ceased to notice. And since practically nobody knows (or cares) about the difference, any time someone lobbed a stink-type salvo at me, it only served to prove their ignorance and meant probably they had nothing to offer but TV quotes.
Patrick Stickles strikes me as a very Northern musician in the same way Springsteen is so much of the South (which, I don’t think we need to get into any “Central”-ized delineations, but any beach town has a Southern soul)—Bruce fully knows he can show everyone if he could just get out of this dadgum place; Patrick is sure he’s going to be miserable so he might as well be miserable here. There’s a stout resoluteness common to both characters (and I’m pretty sure you’ve talked about that in a Titus post before) but I think the Southern version has a little bit stronger faith in itself, in the aggrandizing sense that it views the rest of the world as just some fuckers who don’t yet know.
(And there’s probably a definite parallel to be made to the whole Confederate South pride-in-ignorance thing, as much of that part of the state remains rural and racist. Case in point, as of 2005, one of the teams my school played football against was still called the Fighting Clan.)
Anyway I could talk about this for hours but I’ve never for a single second been ashamed to be from New Jersey, because it contains so many multitudes in such a small space, and as a result seems to produce the most adroitly normal people in the nation. What can you show a Jersey person that they haven’t already seen, processed, complained about, and learned to enjoy (without being a jerk about it)? I’d much rather be that than some rat-dick city kid, any time of the day.