Another Flip Wilson line that has always stayed with me all these years was; I grew up in Jersey City...and I wasn't very good in school. The nuns were tough and after I caught a beating, it wasn't unusual for them to say...its because of bad children like you that the Statue of Liberty turned its back on Jersey City.
THE JERSEY CITY VIEW OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY.
I have had little contact with Jersey City. With complete respect to any friends from there, I usually picture the town as a slum. But the more I think about it, nothing can be more far from the truth.
The swamps that formerly dominated the shoreline overlooking New York harbor have been land filled, manicured and maintained. Today, beautiful Liberty State Park sits on that property. The Liberty Science Museum, (LSM), is situated there too.
GEARED FOR KIDS, LSM IS AT 222 JERSEY CITY BOULEVARD, (201) 200-1000. IT OPENED IN 1993. EACH OF IT'S THREE FLOORS CATERS TO INDIVIDUAL THEMES; ENVIRONMENT, HEALTH AND INVENTION.
I took my son Andrew there on November 8, 2001. My three big memories of that great day include; the IMAX movie about the Brazilian rain forest, my big guy handling a giant Madagascan hissing cockroach and crawling with him through the absolute darkness of the sensory deprivation chamber. Ouch my knees were killing me for days.
Jersey City also boasts Ellis Island. Ellis Island was the main immigration station on the east coast. Nearly every European refugee entering the United States was processed there. In the 80's, after decades of neglect, the old administration building was transformed into a state-of-the-art museum. To get there, visitors park in Liberty State Park and take a five minute boat ride to the island.
IN 1989 MY FOLKS AND I TOOK MY NIECES TO ELLIS ISLAND. WHILE WE WAITED FOR THE BOAT, WENDY PHOTO-BOMBS THIS PICTURE WITH DONKEY EARS ON ME.
Jersey City also came to mind on both cruises we went on, (Bermuda in 2008 and the Caribbean, two weeks ago). Passengers board ships at the West 55th Street pier. On the way out to sea, the cruise liners sail past the ritzy riverfront real estate of Hoboken and Jersey City.
This past Friday, I made another trip to Jersey City. My wife Sue and I attended the wedding of her friend's daughter at the Hyatt-Regency on the Hudson. Sue googled it and discovered that it was an elegant hotel situated on the picturesque waterfront. I thought it was curious how they kept the name Jersey City, out of the hotel's name. The reason is obvious, most people associate Jersey City as a poor crime invested place.
We got off the Jersey Turnpike at the Christopher Columbus Boulevard exit. The two miles to the hotel are dominated with sad looking apartment buildings and rundown or boarded-up businesses. But the last few blocks before the Hudson River are suddenly transformed into a thriving ultra-modern business center. Futuristic electric buses glide by on tracks as huge, clean office buildings with built-in commuter garages sit atop fancy restaurants and other support enterprises. Then at the prime location of the water's edge, sits the Hyatt-Regency.
The park-like exterior beckons you to stroll along the promenade. But it was 90+ degrees, we needed the restroom and we were exactly on time. So went went straight in. Luckily we did because the wedding's cocktail hour was served on a colossal, private deck just above the promenade.FROM THE HOTEL'S PATIO ONLY THE MEMORY OF THE WORLD TRADE CENTER AND 9-11, STAINS THIS BEAUTIFUL PICTURE. WITH A TRAINED EYE YOU CAN SEE THE CRANES AT GROUND ZERO.
The best part of the cocktail hour was the hors d'oeuvres. And because the party combined elegance with the old-world charm of an all Italian wedding, the food was excellent and abundant. In addition to three open bars, they also had a sushi station and a separate banquet table for a wide selection of cheese, cold cuts and salads. Plus, a chef prepared sliders, crab cakes and barbecued pulled pork. If that wasn't enough, waiters mingled through the crowd with trays of shrimp cocktail, lamb chops, mini-lobster raviolis, pineapple chicken and so much more.
This feast was a great test to my ten-day old Atkins diet. But I vowed to remain strong and devoured the Atkins friendly offerings and washed them down with Diet Pepsi. With dinner in the distant future, I managed to remain true to my convictions...even though I really gorged myself.
The bride was beautiful and the groom was handsome. Nine floors up in the main ballroom, they set a relaxed mood that made all 250 guests feel at home. The band played everything from club banging music to contemporary romantic favorites. When they took their breaks, a DJ played Italian love songs, highlighted by plenty of Sinatra. I was so moved by the vibe in the room, that I spent a considerable amount of time with Sue on the dance floor.UPSTAIRS, THE SCENERY WAS ROMANTIC AND SPECTACULAR. AFTER DARK, IT WAS EVEN BETTER.
The gourmet dinner was delicious. It started with Atkins-friendly scallops wrapped in bacon. Luckily me, I had three portions. Being the clever lad that I am, I passed on the salad. The entree was heavenly. I got the fillet Mignon. In the dim lighting, it looked severely burnt. But upon closer examination, the topping was a spreadable concoction of pureed garlic and mushrooms...to die for.
The party was going so well that the host paid for an hour and a half of overtime.
Hard to believe but true, I finished my eating marathon without straying into the abyss of carbohydrates, (I did use a smidgen of cocktail sauce on the shrimp). Still I was forced to loosen my belt on the way to the restroom. Along the way, outside the dining hall, the lure of temptation grabbed me one last time...by the throat...and belly.
NEVER SUCCUMB TO THE DESSERT TABLE WITHOUT A FIGHT. IT'S CERTAIN DIET ANNIHILATION ! WHEN FACING ENEMIES LIKE FUDGE LAYER CAKE, PECAN PIE AND A CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN...I SAY TAKE THE PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH OF ATTACK. (above), I PRETEND TO BE EATING A DREADED STRAWBERRY. AS YOU MAY RECALL, THE ODOR OF THOSE BAD BOYS MAKE ME NAUSEOUS. SO, I LOST INTEREST IN PUTTING ANYTHING IN MY MOUTH THAT NIGHT.
The next day when the smoke cleared, I had gained three pounds. Even the ghost of Dr. Atkins never said its okay to eat THAT much protein. But two days later it is now gone. I survived. I'm still motivated and back on track. Two weeks into the mission, I have lost nine pounds.
In retrospect, I must admit that before taking the strawberry for the photo shoot, I circled those desserts with a watery mouth. Kids were making s'mores as I eyed the sugar wafers and imagined dipping them in the melted chocolate. Then I pictured the Statue of Liberty and remembered that she turned her back on the bad children of Jersey City. After I gulped, I told the devil that he WASN'T going to make me do it. So I took the strawberry to my mouth and purposely sabotaged whatever was left of my insatiable appetite.