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I grew up, for the most part, in suburban New Jersey, along the shore. It’s probably pretty obvious to those of you who share that point of origin, and will, I suspect, become obviouser still from the coming pages. Which is to say that my heart is often there, haunting its old haunts, retracing its steps.

What happens, I’ve been wondering, to those ghosts confined to towers that have crumbled away? It’s an unsettling question, but ultimately, I feel certain, an academic one. ‘Cause let me tell you something about the folks back home: they’re a bunch of stubborn bastards, and they won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon. Come spring, they’ll be barbecuing to Springsteen, taking their kids on the brand new ferris wheel, cutting each other off and cursing each other out in their lightly-armored SUVs. New Jersey, for better and worse, is a kingdom frozen in time, unaided by its advances but impervious to its ravages. Just you wait and see.

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