Garden State to Celebs: Don't Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out

keepout

In his song "Who Says You Can't Go Home," proud New Jerseyan Jon Bon Jovi (née Bongiovi) sings of his birthplace: "Been all around the world and as a matter of fact, there's only one place left, I want to go." The rock ballad, which hit the Top 40 in 2006, was so warm and fuzzy about the place that gave us Woodrow Wilson, Frank Sinatra and Jon Stewart that the song was soon appropriated by the state's tourism authority. Apparently, however, the welcome embrace of towns like Perth Amboy (Bon Jovi's birthplace) is decidedly absent in the community of Long Branch or at Newark Airport

Bob Dylan may have looked like a rolling stone, but even he must have been stunned when he was picked up by police in the seaside community of Long Branch for wandering the streets without identification. When a wary resident called in a report, two twenty-something officers arrived on the scene, and neither one had the remotest clue who the legendary performer was. Indeed, even after he offered his name, he won no recognition. Which is particularly sad, because Dylan was not casing houses, of course, but rather visiting the area while on tour with fellow musicians John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson. Fortunately, although Dylan's ego may have been bruised, from all reports he was very well-behaved and kindly treated. Upon arriving at the Ocean Place Resort & Spa where the performer and his mates were staying, the officers were given a quick primer on who the 68-year-old man they'd picked up was and he went on his not so merry way.

All did not go quite as well for Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan, who was detained and questioned for more than an hour at Newark Liberty Airport, ostensibly because his name matched one on a security watch list. The irony in all of this is that Khan was in the United States to promote a movie exploring the hot-button issue of racial profiling. It took the intervention of the Indian embassy in the United States to procure Khan's release from an experience that he says left him feeling angry and humiliated.

As a born-and-raised New Jerseyan, I'm the first to speak up when the state gets a bad rap. (Which is often.) But in this case, I say, shame on you, Garden State. This month, you failed a cardinal rule of being a host: always know who your guests are. Would you have pulled the same stunt with Jon Bon Jovi?