As much as I may moan and groan about life in the middle ages, I’m really not that old! Sure, I’m old enough to remember when Resorts International became Atlantic City’s first casino, but old enough to remember Nucky Johnson — not so much. That’s right, Nucky Johnson the South Jersey political boss upon whom Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson is based in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
Here’s a true story (would I ever share otherwise?). It was during a conversation, in which I was rambling on about how I loathe the Jersey Shore (the TV show, not the area where I grew up), talk then turned to Boardwalk Empire. Toward the end of the chat, the person to whom I was speaking asked – knowing I was from Atlantic City – was it really like that back then. I stopped, waiting for a smile to cross the person’s face, or some other indication they were kidding.
In fact, the look was more quizzical. It was as if the person was expecting me to do a Ken Burns and go into an historical telling of Atlantic City life and culture in the early to mid decades of the 20th century. Instead of giving them the URL to the Atlantic City Library, I took the tried and true self-effacing route and said something about needing to brush up on my history. Of course it was all in good fun and the person meant no harm.
Having lived well south of Garden State Parkway exit 1 for a few years now, I have gotten used to and have come to proudly embrace my unofficial role as a Garden State pop culture ambassador. This, of course means I’m expected to know the lyrics to every Springsteen song, in what part of Hoboken Frank lived, how many members were in Whitney’s first church choir and where the Situation trains.
In hindsight, I missed my opportunity! Why didn’t I ask this person – a native Atlantan – did Ray Charles really have Georgia on his mind, what was Rev King’s favorite entrée at Paschals, or exactly why didn’t Rhett give a damn?
Oh well, maybe next time.