All Hale Long Island

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January 12, 2015 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

I met a girl at some party during my freshmen year of college.  We were inseparable; we spent the whole night dancing, hooking up, and taking shots.  Sitting on my lap as the night wound down, engaged in that flirty, getting-to-know-you-to-see-if-you’re-worth-more-than-a-one-night-stand discussion, she asked me where I was from.  As soon as I said “Long Island” she jumped off my lap in pure disgust and scurried away as if she’d just been kissing a leper.

It was that night that I realized that to most Americans, or drunk college girls from California, Long Island is the most loathsome place in the country, behind only Boston and New Jersey.  Although I’ve had my qualms with Long Island, I was curious to find out why the rest of the country hates my hometown.  It wasn’t just this one girl though, the more I put an ear to it, the more I began to realize that everyone outside of Long Island is either wearily resentful, or activity loathes Long Island.  From hearing other girls say “You don’t seem like you’re from Long Island” with a sigh of relief, to listening in on a bunch of drunk frat bros trying to find someone from Long Island to jump, Long Island really does seem to be reviled by the rest of the country.

Then, about a year after graduating I found out exactly what it is that makes every person in the free world hate Long Island-Long Island has an incredibly irrationally inflated sense of self-worth.  From the misplaced idolization of Billy Joel, to the sycophantic devotion to the Jets, to the over exaggerated importance of whaling, Long Island is a place that thinks way too highly of itself, without really doing anything to merit its own hubris.

For someone who moved out there when he was a stubborn eight-year-old already set in his own ways, it was pretty easy to see that the indoctrination starts at an early age, and in our very schools.  In 6th grade we learned about world history, in 5th grade it was U.S. History, but 4th grade was solely dedicated to Long Island/New York history.  I don’t know why, but in every history class I’ve ever taken in grade school, 7/8 of the entire year is dedicated to colonial and pre-revolutionary times; literally the most boring time in any civilizations history.  So not only did we learn about how great Long Island is, but also how important and influential it was to the very formation of the United States.

In reality, it’s nothing more than a deceptive trick to brainwash a bunch of kids to never want to leave Long Island ever again.  Everything from the geographical shape of the island to the antiquity of certain villages are all used to foster a populist sense of hometown pride.  The problem arises when kids turn into adults and actually think that the wineries out east rival those of Napa Valley, or believe the completely arrogant and false notion that Long Island is somehow the only island of New York.[1]

I also don’t understand how being one of the first colonized areas of the U.S. is a claim to boast about.  They taught us how the Native Americans had a rich tradition on the Island…until the Europeans wiped them all out.  They then taught us how the Dutch, French, and British all lived on the Island trying to assert their own superiority…as if Long Island was some cherished treasure that every colonial power tried to lay claim.  This completely ignores the fact that European nations had been fighting over any piece of newly discovered land, be it continent, island, or rock for about 1000 before anyone even heard of “The New World”.

We were taught that Long Island is a paradise with a rich and impeccably influential history surrounding it.  We were even given our own figurehead to patronize, one Nathan Hale.

Probably the most famous, and therefore worst, spy in American history Nathan Hale was a spy for the American forces during the American Revolution.  He was hanged by the British for high treason almost as soon as his mission began.  The accounts vary on who exposed him as a spy, the History Channel says it was his loyalist cousin, but Wikipedia says it was a complete stranger looking to turn patriots over to the British for a fee, but the gist of the story is that Hale got drunk one night and loudly proclaimed himself to be a spy working for General George Washington.  Obviously, the source of his betrayal was never told to to us as children.  What they also left out of the textbooks, was that Hale was actually from Connecticut, and that it was his spying that brought him to Long Island.

Why?  Well because New York State, especially Long Island was an incredibly Tory state, loyal to the British crown.  Something else they didn’t tell us as impressionable 10-year-olds.  Despite having a supposedly rich history, foundational to the formation of the United States, if Long Islanders of the 18th century had their way, we’d still be a part of the British Empire.  Maybe it’s me but self-sovereignty seems a little more badass than being a colony.  Hale was on the Island not because he wanted to, but because Long Island hated the idea of the United States of America.

Kind of like Jedidiah Springfield, the founder of the Simpson’s hometown, Hale is immortalized at the cost of history.  Springfield who was purported to have killed a bear with his bare hands, was in fact, killed by the bear.  Hale, a spy who died for his country, told anyone who would listen that he was a spy and essentially turned himself over.  These tales are taught to us to create a sense of pride in our community, but it’s over exaggerated to the point of being self-centered.  Part of the true love is recognizing and accepting the faults in the person or thing that you love; that’s what helps to keep it real and sincere.  What we were taught is that Long Island is flawless and has everything you will ever need, so everyone else can fuck off.  That’s the root of the self-absorbed and jingoistic attitude most Islanders possess.  There’s aggressive, but blind loyalty to the Mother Island that manifests itself in myriad ways: never leaving the Island, historical reenactment villages in every fucking town, a hockey team called “Islanders”, and shouting “J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS when the Jets are down by 30.

This is why people hate Long Island

Accepting that something you love can be kinda shitty only makes you love it more.  Just look at the Knicks, or Marvel Comics, or being in love with a fully functional adult.  However, most Islanders aren’t taught that Long Island isn’t a Utopian paradise that has everything they’ll ever want or need in life.  We’re taught that it’s the greatest fucking place ever.  How can we complain what with Adventureland[2] and our very own Hockey team?  I never bought into this fanatical devotion that Long Island tried to instill upon me.  Maybe that’s why we’ve never really gotten along.  But, I always figured that if Long Islanders really loved Long Island, they’d renovate Nassau Coliseum.

 


 

[1] I once got into a 23-against-1 argument in 4th grade over whether or not Long Island was actually the only island of New York.  My classmates thought it was the only island and my teacher agreed with them.  Apparently my teacher forgot about Staten Island, Manhattan Island, Fire Island, Ellis Island, and Governors Island.  I got in trouble for trying to mislead my classmates.

[2] How they’ve never been sued by Disney amazes me.

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