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April 15, 2024

Oort Cloud Oddities: State Slogans

By Alexandra Queen

Reuters reports that New Jersey has been having some trouble coming up with a new state slogan to help it overcome its current reputation for being a toxic waste dump overrun by organized crime and traffic jams.

Though it's been a long time since I lived back east, I still recall people talking about New Jersey as the armpit of the northeast. A popular joke told of a man who loaded his car with trail rations, canned foods, bottled water, tent, and inflatable raft. "Wow," asked a neighbor in the joke, "Where you headed for your vacation?" only to have the man respond, "I'm not going on vacation, I just gotta drive through New Jersey."

With that kind of reputation, it's understandable that the state government hired an image consultant. $260,000 later, the nicest thing the consultant could come up with was, "New Jersey: We'll win you over."

So the state decided to accept suggestions from the public. That yielded results like: "New Jersey: We can always use another relative on the payroll," "Why should death end your voting rights?" "Come to New Jersey -- it's not as bad as it smells," "Toxic waste for all!" and "New Jersey: Hey, at least it's not West Virginia!"

Personally, I'd go with something like Missouri's nickname as the "show me" state. Maybe New Jersey could be the "smell me" state. Or, "New Jersey: Hoffa never left and neither will you!"

Now, California's official state motto is, "Eureka," but I'm thinking that if New Jersey's image is getting a makeover, why shouldn't we join in? Kind of like going to the day spa with your girlfriends. It can be a state's night out. Maybe we can let New Jersey borrow our motto, though they'd probably have to modify it to "We reek-a."

I looked around to see who has got some good ideas for a new California catchphrase. Camp Kitsch suggests, "California: As seen on TV!" "Birthplace of Lindsay Lohan's breasts!" and "California: By 30, our women have more plastic than your Honda!"

I'm not so sure any of those are going to win over the decision-makers in Sacramento, though. So I figured I'd better try to think up a few, also.

"Food, freaks and fun," is short and to the point. Or "California: Your own Silicon Valley is just a nip and tuck away!" We could nod to the $180 designer canvas bracelet crowd and call ourselves, "The Gold-Collar Worker State". Or we could put a positive spin on the rising cost of housing and say, "California: It's a great place to commute to!"

Maybe we could say, "California: Those weren't rolling blackouts, we were just doing the wave!" Hm. That's not real positive. What about focusing on our strengths, like our football teams? "California: Home of the Raiders and the Forty Niners!" On second thought, maybe it's better to stick with the rolling blackout concept. What about, "California: For god's sake, don't let the Governor make any decisions -- like the couch in the front parlor, he's just there for looks."

What about focusing on environmentalism and our excellent colleges? "California: Fairy Shrimp or Education -- it was a tough call." Even if football isn't our strong point this year, surely we have some other sports we can focus on. How about, "California: Helping professional basketball players dodge military draft since 1989!" (Ah, Vlade, you slippery rascal. They say you can never go home again, and now we all know why.)

How about finances and commerce? "California: Wal-Mart may gross more than the entire national product of Israel and Ireland combined, but we're still bigger!" "More nail salons per capita than anywhere else in the civilized world!" or "California: Firm in the belief that there's no imbalance a therapist and drugs can't cure, budgetary or otherwise!"

But at the end of day, no matter how much fun we poke at ourselves, in a nation known for it's glamour, wealth, natural splendor, cultural melting pots, agricultural abundance, technical savvy, popular culture and creature delights, California is arguably the top of the list in all those areas. We've got it all, and we've got more of it than pretty much anyone else. And now that Jesse Ventura has retired from politics, our governor can beat up everyone else's governor, too. Whereas New Jersey... well...

I think their best bet is just to go with: "New Jersey: It's not California, but then who is?"

Comments and slogan suggestions to Alex.Queen@gmail.com.

This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin.

Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-12-12
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