The Bennys Are Doomed

Remember that plot to blow up JFK that was foiled by the FBI about a week ago? It has since been determined that the would-be terrorists were using Google Earth to obtain detailed photos of the airport to help plan an attack that thankfully never occurred. The same strategy has been applied by terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan in terms of Googling their way to sensitive visual information on U.S. targets that otherwise could only be obtained by launching a satellite into space.

Unlike Al Qaeda, the Taliban or Sunni insurgents exploiting Google Earth for purposes of war, one Jersey shore community police force (Belmar) is employing this technology to keep the peace. The evil-doers in the Middle East turn to Google primarily to obtain coordinates of U.S. bases to fire rocket-propelled grenades and mortars with more precision. Here in America, Belmar’s finest will count on Google to keep tabs on the legal standing of rental properties deemed as “Animal Houses”, according to Mayor Ken Pringle.

In short, those visiting the official Belmar municipal web site will eventually be able to pick and choose from summer rental homes courtesy of Google Earth while accessing information of any legal issues that rental may has had this summer and/or in the past.

“We expect to have photos of the 81 animal houses (in Belmar) uploaded by the end of next week,” said Kevin O’Donnell, the borough’s Webmaster. “Over time we will also be including information regarding the status of recent summonses issued against the property, occupancy limits of the units, etc.”

On the screen in one section of the webpage, those surfing the site may access a directory of rentals by home address. The visitor will also have the ability to trigger a filter to allow a specific category of rentals that may be viewed individually (ranging from rentals that have not had a summons for 12 months to properties that now require, yes, an armed guard). When clicking on certain icons, a box opens with an address (as well as the owner of the property’s name) and in the instances of animal houses, the amount of the bond posted by the property owner.

Mayor Pringle (ironic that the Mayor is named after the preferred late-night snack of drunks in all shore towns) indicated that the content on the site will not only assist year-round residents who are suspicious of summer mischief-makers, but for those looking to rent for the season looking to avoid problem properties that have had a bulls-eye on them for police in the past. .

Here’s a disturbing fact: As of June 7 weekend, Monmouth County Sheriff’s officers have supported Belmar police in monitoring over four rentals (on the homeowners dime, of course) deemed as annual animal houses, according to Belmar Police Chief Jack Hill.

Taking extreme measures such as these against any and all rentals in a beach community is a slam-dunk decision for any Mayor or city council member. The reason is simple: Renters can’t vote in local elections, homeowners can. And if there is one issue that dwarfs all others in Jersey Shore politics, it is summed up in one exclamation:

“Drive out the Bennys!”

Bennys, for those scoring at home, is according to Wikipedia an old acronym that locals claim “…stands for the names of the cities that these summer seasonal visitors hail from: Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, and New York. Obviously, the towns need to be updated to spell another name or word, but you get the point.

Wikipedia also speculates that Benny could mean, “…the tourists that would withdraw money before traveling down and then pay with large bills at the local restaurants and shops, earning the name “benny” since Ben Franklin is on the $100 bill.”

An additional theory is that a Benny, “…might cross the Ben Franklin Bridge from Philadelphia in order to get to the Shore.”

Bennys will claim that the Jersey Shore could not thrive economically without them serving as “tourists” (quoted for emphasis since tourists are usually defined on a domestic level as coming from another state). Locals assert that Bennys have no respect for the towns they visit since they haven’t invested anything long-term (see: a home or business) in them.

The result is a one-sided silent war against Bennys being waged on message boards and at Jersey shore city council meetings. Little by little, the rights of renters who pay tens of thousands of dollars on seasonal rentals and collectively contribute millions to local businesses are being stripped in the name of security and a no-nonsense policy towards noise.

Recently, posted a column of mine as its lead story regarding people who ensure a single, unattached existence for the summer. The story mentioned nothing of the animosity or issues regarding Bennys vs. Locals, but the message board quickly morphed into a volley of verbal mortars that would make other hate-filled message boards in Hoboken proud.

Some examples:

Posted by post90 on 06/08/07 at 3:47PM

“Beachbro….all your businesses would be gone if it wasn’t for us (Bennys) coming to your town and spending it up. You’re town huh…Its America and I can go anywhere I want….You know the reason all our fathers fought all those wars for.”

Posted by beachbro on 06/08/07 at 2:02PM

“Benny’s suck in general. you come to our towns and think you own it. Maybe you should be considerate for the locals who put up with all your bullshit. There would be a “down the shore” and we locals don’t call it that. plus the beach would be a lot cleaner without your benny trash there during the summer. BENNY”S NEED TO GO HOME. SUPPORT LOCALISM………………………………….”

Posted by BelmarBenny on 06/08/07 at 4:56PM

“I have nothing to add except I don’t understand why the “locals” feel the need to cause a problem every time they visit the blog. That “support localism” thing is hilarious… what the hell does that even mean?”

Posted by DiscoSteve on 06/08/07 at 5:13PM

“Chuck1961, if I ever see you throw a hot dog wrapper on the street in NYC, I’m going to blow you up on a NYC tourism blog for crapping up our streets! I think NYC’ers aren’t ignorant enough to realize that without tourism, we’d be paying a HELLUVA lot more in state/local taxes….the “Shore” is a tourist magnet, for partyers and families alike…don’t try to crush it, because without it, the “Shore” is just another beach.”

Posted by bobby4206 on 06/08/07 at 4:28PM

 “I think the “Benny’s” on here don’t really understand why the “locals” are upset. What most locals are trying to say is have some respect when you come down here. Don’t leave trash all over and destroy somebody’s property. Don’t fight in the bars with some other guido who looked at you wrong. You’re welcome to come down, just don’t fuck up everything you touch. Just treat people with some respect and don’t walk into the diner in the morning with the crusty gel in your hair and start yelling at the waitress to get you a egg white omelette and a large water. Now isn’t that a reasonable request?”

Posted by lushious on 06/08/07 at 4:19PM

“For the record, I’ve seen local Manasquan high school kids steal beer from garages, leave garbage on the beach, and generally be loud and obnoxious. Some people are just rude and inconsiderate, it isn’t always about local vs. non local. And for the record, I live in Hoboken and spend summers in Mansasquan. Call me a Benny, but I’ll keep coming back…”

Posted by BennySuck on 06/08/07 at 1:06PM

“Hey Joe what are you having a mid life crisis. Stay the fuck in Hoboken with the rest of the Bennys.”

So as you can see, the arguments are as boisterous as BennySuck is illiterate. But as pointed out earlier, homeowners rule the day no matter what the season is anywhere south and east off of Exit 127 to Exit 1 of the Parkway. For about three months, Bennys fuel beach town economies while simultaneously fueling hatred from those who view them as disrespectful, condescending transients that exist solely to upset the optimum tranquility found at the shore after Labor Day and before Memorial Day.

Google Earth will now provide the law enforcement community looking to maintain order and politicians looking to stay in power an even tighter noose around the neck of an already dying concept: The summer, non-family, mixed-gender seasonal rental. It may not be extinct now or in even five years, but don’t be surprised when your kids—fresh out of college—ask you about what you did with your summer months in your 20s or 30s before you met Mom or Dad…

“Actually, I met your (mother/father) in our beach house that we shared with other groups of people,” you will respond.

Our beach house?” son/daughter will ask. “Did you own it?”

Confused, as you don’t know where your suddenly stupid son/daughter is going with this, you try to walk them through a process you figured they already were well aware of…

“No, we didn’t own the house. It was…you know…a rental that a bunch of us interviewed for. We ultimately met all of these other great people around our age who were mostly single that we didn’t know before. It was a blast and we ended up making some of our best friends in the process.”

“Wait, let me get this straight…” your son/daughter will say, their eyes squinting to think hard about this concept. “Are you saying that the police and the Mayor of, say, Spring Lake, allowed single people to live under the same roof, like at college, but it was at the shore?? That sounds like it could have been so much fun for us to do!”

You will look at your child the same way Brian Madison looked at Billy Madison (Adam Sandler) in the 1995 movie about a daft and lazy son needing to pass grades 1-12 to inherit his retiring father’s company.

“What, you never heard of the summer share concept?” you will ask incredulously.

“Oh right…” they will say in the same tone teenagers currently talk about Atari, “that whole deal was history at the end of the 00’s!”

Exaggeration? Hyperbole? Scare tactics?

Well, check out this stat:

In 1993 in Belmar alone, there were approximately 1500 summer rentals, according to town’s director of code enforcement. This year, that number has decreased by 1180, or only 320 summer rentals.

The future of summer as we know it is scary.

But don’t blame Google Earth.

Blame the unstoppable anti-Benny movement…