April 3, 2018

Ventnorites Start New Podcast

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Ventnor natives Sean Hughes and Emily Van Duyne have started a new podcast called Exit 38, after the ramp on the Garden State Parkway that points you to Atlantic City. Their idea for the podcast is to get two people from different sides of the fence to discuss the issues of the day, and instead of shouting at each other, find common ground.

I played football in high school with Hughsie, but dropped out of touch when I went to college. He went to the Naval Academy, mostly because his dad coached crew there (he’s said) “planning on become a former Naval officer” as quickly as possible and then taking a job on Wall Street. On September 11, he was on the deck of the destroyer John Paul Jones in the Gulf of Arabia/Persia when the Twin Towers came down, and that seems to have marked the “trajectory-change” was I think his term.

For his second deployment, he was a RIB Detachment Commander, or something, attached to SEAL Team ONE, which I think means he drove the SEALs around in a semi-inflatable boat and did other SEAL-ish things in Africa and the Iraq.

Emily Van Duyne, of the boat-building Van Duynes, is an assistant professor of women’s studies and of writing at Stockton.

Emily Van Duyne

When she’s not teaching or writing her own poetry, she’s written about Sylvia Plath, and why Plath scholars, for instance, have been reluctant to acknowledge that Plath was abused by her husband, the poet Ted Hughes (no relation to Sean). She’s also written about the “precariat” and academia.

She taught at three different schools while working as an adjunct and single mother. Her Elf on the Shelf is named Speedshark. In 2017 she was taking home less per paycheck as a third-year tenure track faculty member than she had been when she started life as a visiting assistant professor due to the shocking way our government treats public education. If you’re not familiar with the term “precariat” now’s a fine time to Google it.

Sean describes himself as a political Conservative, though he’s plainly trying to figure out what that means in 2018.

Sean Hughes

“I believe that men and women, whenever possible, should be free to live their lives without government intervention. My family and my Christian faith are the center of my life. I like my guns. Chances are, I’m better than you at using them,” he wrote in one of his posts.

Many of his friends, devoutly conservative, stayed quiet after their candidate “trashed their personal values,” he said. He’s pretty obviously determined not to.

I asked him a year or so ago if he would write something for Route 40, and he responded with a story about the camp in Africa he and his colleagues had pitched on the edge of the bush, where they were suffering from a baboon infestation. Imagine training for years to fight WWIII and then getting your asses absolutely handed to you (Sean’s words) by a troop of monkeys with hairless rear-ends. The baboons, Sean said, were like our familiar raccoons only stronger, smarter and far more organized. He found one in his tent one time. “I swear he was reading,” he said.

After a failed attempt or two at baboon control, the Navy was ready to surrender the field, but, being resourceful fellows, the canvassed the neighbors and eventually settled on a home remedy that entailed capturing one baboon and painting its head white. The story culminated with a young, female baboon punching Hughsie in the chest and then skittering off into the trees while Hughsie lay on his back, a small, fist-sized bruise forming on his sternum.

I don’t know why we never ran it. Probably because we’re making up this editing thing as we go along. But since then he’s had essays in The Washington Post and Stars & Strips and regularly, or semi-regularly at least, gets a million visitors to his politics blog Chartwell West.

Anyway. Exit 38, brought to you by two Ventnor Middle grads. Here’s to more upstart media projects named after the local road system! Common ground and all that.

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