April 2008 Archives

TV Is My 2nd Best Friend At Home

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Now that i'm living solo and don't have roommates or puppies to come home to, I have my TV as my friend at home.

Oh, my PC is my #1 friend, and my #3 friends are my plants. One of which is dying and I may need your help to figure out why this one plant is dying, but more on that next week.

So here's what i'm watching, and if you are watching it, feel free to comment!

{SPOILER WARNING AHEAD!}

I learned a lot of things buying a condo, and I figured that i'd share with you what I learned. I'm sure there's a lot of people out there who are still renting in Hoboken and often wonder, like I did, about buying. Here's a list of important mistakes and discoveries I made.

Square Footage: I walked into my current condo, and liked it right away. I read the paper they had out and it said "750 square feet". Cool. I looked at about 8 other places and, sure, I guess it was that size. When I did the math, and figured out the price per square foot, I figured that the price was fair.

I was about to sign the contract and found out that my condo was actually 635 square feet! I could have walked away from the contract. I had 24 hours to think it over, and at the end of the day what I learned is two things:

1. When looking over a condo and pricing it, confirm the square footage with the seller.
2. Don't get hung up on square footage.

There's big factors that square footage can play. New construction vs pre-war. Location. Parking. Amenities. Can the square footage of pre-war 635 square foot bedroom on 12th and Adams be compared to a 635 square foot new construction on 1st and Garden that has parking and a gym?

Learn from me, buy where you want to live not the square footage.

Taxes: Wow, what a tax break. I always heard from my friends and family about the "tax umbrella" that a home provides. I didn't know how much this was? Was it $1,000? $2,000? $10,000 a year? This also depends on many factors, like your income, the mortgage and the taxes you pay, but for me - WOW. I recognize that each year my tax break will decrease, but I would have to work about 8 months bartending every Saturday night at Mikie's to earn that kind of money.

When you think that home ownership is so much more expensive than renting, you have to knock down your monthly costs on that tax break.

Check the financials of the building: If you bought a condo, like me, make sure you find out how the condo association is spending & saving your money. I didn't check this, but I was very relieved to find out that my condo association was firmly in the black. I was told by other realtors that lots of people don't check this and then are on the hook for various repairs and emergencies by the condo association.

Get a firm date from contractors in writing & don't pay upfront: I used a contractor that my realtor knew, Sammy, and he did a very nice job - but man oh man, I was way too nice with him. Sammy would tell me stories about why he was delaying and I would be cool with it, and figured that the good karma would hopefully come back to me. Nope. Sammy just would come in once a week, do a little bit, and then go to his next job. He had a million excuses.

All contractors do this, and what I would suggest is to get into writing a timetable for their work, along with payments when each job is completed. So if your entire job cost $5,000, then make five $1,000 payments, each with a specific job completed and understanding that the contractor would not get paid until each milestone was reached. I did three payments with Sammy, but paid him when we were nearing completion...and what was supposed to be a 6 week job from April didn't get finished until August.

Find ways to save: My place had wall mounted PTAC air conditioning units. I called various HVAC places and was quoted $2500-1300 to buy & replace my existing unit. I looked online and found I could buy them myself for $500. $2,000 for labor? They were just going to swap one out and slap another one in.

I was lucky that my brother in law was electronically savvy - and if you ask around I bet you have a family member or friend who can help here. I bought the AC myself, installed it and I won't say it was easy, but for $2,000 dollars saved? That's huge. Also I found out that it was also a tax break because buying a new A/C unit is something that my accountant was able to deduct this year.

Just remember that if you are careful, you can find ways to save.

You can't time the market: For years I was bearish on the housing market. I fully understood that the market explosion from 2001 could not sustain itself. In past years, such an explosion would last a few years before going back to reasonable levels. It kept going. Kept expanding. In 2003 I sat on the sidelines and scoffed at the prices I was seeing - and could have bought but waited. Then 2004, 2005, 2006 passed and I was shocked to watch those condos which were $250,000 turn into $400,000 on paper.

In 2001 I remember I looked at a 1 bedroom (it faced another building and didn't have much sunlight) selling for $183,000 that was on 10th and Washington (near the Elk's Club). I laughed at it. $183,000 for THAT? No, thank you, i'll rent.

A perfect example is what's going on with the market right now. I was part of the "Doom & Gloom" people expecting an implosion of the market. It's certainly possible. There's plenty of stories out there about foreclosures & job losses.

But did you know that the word "disaster" and "opportunity" are the same word in Chinese?

Ok, not really, maybe I watch too much of The Simpsons...

Sure, the market is falling - which gives the buyer more leverage. Where's the bottom? Who knows? You could be like me, sitting on the sideline and expecting it to keep falling and a year later maybe the morgage rates go up.

What was now a 1 bedroom for $300,000 at 6% over 30 years is $1,799 a month becomes $300,000 at 7% is $1,995 a month. Or even if prices drop and the rates go up, you still can get zapped.

$300,000 at 6% is $1799.
$270,403 at 7% is $1799.

Sure, you saved $30,000! Yippie! Or did you save 30,000? If you look closer at the loan, and the interest rate - you actually will pay nearly the same cumulative amount (interest + principal) over the life of the loan.

Just remember, rates are at historic lows. You have a bargaining chip of fear with some sellers (like those that overextended themselves, those that lost jobs, those that NEED to move). I don't think the housing market, at the moment, is in a panic. My friend Chris just signed a contract for a condo on 5th and Madison last week.

When I bought, my logic was:

1. The mortgage rates are at a great rate (I got 5.875% over 30 years with no points).
2. The price was something I could afford.
3. The location & amenities were perfect.
4. I'm not planning to move for at least 5 years, if not longer.

If you are someone who is renting now, it can behoove you to wait a few more months, but you are always rolling the dice with those mortgage rates.

I mean if the housing market crashes and people think they are going to buy things dirt cheap, I have a strong feeling that we are all going to be out of jobs at that point and will have bigger fish to fry than worrying about buying a condo.

If you don't overextend yourself, and make a rational purchase that fits your lifestyle. In the past, in my previous misgivings about buying - I was always concerned about finding that PERFECT time to buy.

There isn't one.

You can have all sorts of pundits who i'm sure are going to decry that this is the 2nd Great Depression and have all sorts of counter-arguements to what I say. You mention real estate at a party and you may as well decided to talk about Catholics vs Protestants at an Irish Pub.

The perfect time to buy, to me, is when you have:

1. A good mortgage rate, and enough of a downpayment to avoid PMI.
2. A stable job.
3. A house you can afford without overextending yourself.
4. If the economy doesn't look like it's going to go into a major recession (right now, its a 50/50 chance at the moment).
5. And you don't plan to leave before, say, 4 years.

That's about it.

I wish I knew this in 2001.

The Good Samaritian Traffic Cop

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I went to Maru after the gym, and got some take out sushi for dinner.

On my way out, I see a busted up old minvan sitting in the middle on 2nd street and Washington, like if it was stalled. It sat through the light and the traffic on Washington were going around the minivan - some people honking their horn and people on the sidewalks were starting to gather watching this spectacle in progress.

I was walking south, watching this with detached amusement.

I waited until the east-west light turned green, and was going to cross Washington at 2nd, and noticed that the minivan still didn't move, with westbound traffic going around him. Now this was getting silly and everyone on the streets were just standing there gawking.

There was an elderly man in the front seat of the dirty, damaged minivan and he looked confused and disoriented. Everyone was just watching from the street and cars didn't want to be bothered were going around him. It was a spectacle and no one was doing anything.

Fuck it.

I walked into the middle of the street, waving cars to stop, and walked right up to the minivan. He has his window rolled down, and I said, "Hey, what's wrong?"

The elderly man was wearing a ratty baseball cap, unshaven, and spoke in a light-Spanish accent, "I can't see - the light - the glare...."

I looked down 2nd street and he was right, the sun was setting in the west, and it was hard to see down the street.

"Ok, well I can guide you forward from out here, you can follow me...", I started to say when a cab passed behind me and honked his horn, yelling "USE THE GAS, BUDDY!"

Another Good Samaritian showed up and was on the other side of the car trying to help, but I think it just confused the old man more.

The elderly man was just out of it. He looked around a bit and wouldn't move the car.

"Why don't you turn down Washington, make a left here, and the sun won't be in your eyes...", I suggested.

"No, I got it. I got it.", he stammered. The car still didn't move.

Finally I had enough, and knew that being gentle wasn't going to work here.

With a bit more force in my voice, I said, "LET'S GO! MOVE IT!", and I spun my arm like a traffic cop might when directing cars to move.

Worked like a charm. His car slowly moved forward, and he rolled down the street. I walked to the westside of Washington, and the crowds that were watching this dispersed, and I heard them all mumbling about the old man being foolish.

I felt bad for him, it was clear he was just "out of it". Needed someone to snap him out and get him moving. I seriously question if a guy like him should be behind the wheel of an automobile, but that's not my job. I just wanted to get him out of danger, off the street.

Then I remembered, while walking home, a story my sisters told me once when they attended the University of Delaware in the late 80's.

I was walking down the street yesterday, freshly showered after a hard shoulder workout at Club H, and drinking a tasty "Mango Tango" protein shake, and carrying a "Classic Club" (very tasty, try it) on whole wheat from Quiznos.

Quick segue: Someone would make a killing in this town if an Energy Kitchen or The Pump opened up shop in Hoboken. I mean, think how many residents work out and then want a good, clean kitchen to order low-fat, low-sodium dinners? Hoboken411 reported an Energy Kitchen was opening up, but I think that fell through. Please don't mention "Pita Grill" to me. Should call it "Cardboard Taste Grill". I ate there at least 8 times, over the years, and i'm never satisfied with anything I have ordered.

Moving on.

I was walking down the street across Washington and 1st street, towards my house when I see two people head of me, next to City Hall, walking two well fed, dogs a pug and a puggle (For the record, I like Pugs and not fond of Puggles). Both dogs were wearing dog-sport-shirts, I read one that was blue/red and said "New York". Part of me was rolling my eyes because a) I was frankly amazed how overweight the small dogs were and b) I think any animal that is forced to wear clothing is stupid. Unless it is winter, and the dog's natural coat can't handle the cold, but it was a nice spring day about 55 degrees out.

I'm looking at the owners, and both are two well-fed Hobokenites, a guy and a girl, who appear to be in their early 30's. The guy is in a suit, with a ill fitting long black raincoat over a sloppy suit with a loosened tie. He's balding - one of those stubborn balding guys who think they aren't bald, and keep fighting to keep some kind of sembalance of a hair cut going. He's talking to her, and both of them are your typical LOUD YUPPIE HOBOKENITES that give the rest of us a bad name. The kind of Americans who go on holiday to Europe and annoy the the rest of the world with their loud, obnoxious behavior. I'm watching both of them and inwardly groaning at the both of them.

The girl is wearing a light blue pullover around her rotound frame, jeans that aren't flattering AT ALL, they hang limply from her waist, straight down to her legs - where normally 90% of the world has something for Sir-Mix-A-Lot to sing about - she has nothing. Baby got no back.

Now, bear with me people.

Look, I try not to be terribly judgemental.

Ok, scratch that, i'm kind of judgemental.

Very judgemental?

Ok, i'm basically the Judge Smails of Hoboken (bonus points if you know who that is without Google).

But seriously. Overweight and no ass? It's like a double whammy. I mean the one caveat of overweight women is that they have curves in the right places over the stick thin women with flat chests and no ass.

Yea, so, i'm a guy. I walk down the street. I look at girls. The straight men are checking out the girl's body and the gay men are checking out her shoes. I think 99.95% of the men do this. The other .05% are liars.

Then...slowly...slowly...I recognize the assless girl by the time I reached the corner of 1st and Bloomfield.

I haven't talked to this girl in over a year. I she was once a pretty good friend. You haven't been in Hoboken very long if you haven't lost friends over bullshit drama. She was now married and that was her husband she was walking with.

I was having a dilemma, while I walked behind them. Part of me was thinking I should stop and say hello. It's been so long, and honestly, I just have no real interest in being phony with someone that I really don't like. I certainly have no problem being cordial with people I don't like. But i'm not going to go out of my way to say hello to someone like this.

The couple were walking side by side on the sidewalk, taking up about 85% of the sidewalk. I walk very fast, and they are walking too slow, letting their dogs sniff everything they pass. I want to pass them, I literally will have to brush past one of them, with a hurried "Excuse Me", which would draw attention to me.

I looked for an opening between Bloomfield and Garden, right outside of Mulligan's...and I walked across the street to where the Guitar Shop is, and kept walking down 1st to avoid the risk that i'd have to talk to them.

I continued my brisk walk, and decided cut back over to the other side of the street at O'Donohughes. I'm sure they could have saw me cross the street. I'm sure they could have recognized me. I didn't really care if they saw me from behind.

While passing OD's, I heard them behind me, on the corner of Garden and 1st, still talking very loud to each other. Like the kind of people who walk down the street yapping on a cell phone.

Yes, a day in the life, and these are the things I think about. Am I the only one? I mean writing this I kind of feel bad, but it's what I was thinking. Maybe I write what other people don't say or maybe i'm just an analomy.

I was thinking later as to what stopped me from talking to her. We never left each other on bad terms. I just didn't want to go through the whole pleasantries. Part of me wasn't in the mood. If I ever ran into her at a bar or whatever, i'd be nice. I certainly don't hate her. She broke my trust once, and that's it for me. You lose my trust and you lose my friendship. She's just not a part of my life anymore.

That's about it.

Good Manners In The Big City

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I read this in the UPI the other day:

BOSTON, April 7 (UPI) -- Growing numbers of U.S. parents are enrolling their
youngsters in etiquette classes to reinforce behaviors they struggle to teach
in the home, families report.
Parents say changing times have made manners harder to teach, blaming rushed
meals, television, movies, and technology for the erosion of social skills, The
Boston Globe said Monday.
"Parents are doing the best that they can at home. This is just to give the
kids a little additional reinforcement," said Jen Schaeffner, a mother in
Marblehead, Mass.
Etiquette classes reportedly have become a popular way for kids as young as 4
to learn table manners and conversational skills.
Critics argue the classes are unacceptable for young children, the newspaper
said.
"It's something that should be integrated into their entire day and not
transformed into a structured activity," said Susan Linn, a psychologist at the
Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston.

I don't claim to be Mr. Manners. Especially if you are a Giants fan. But I do often take public transportation, use the gym or i'm out in the bars and try to adhere to what my parents taught me. Here's a list that my friends and I came up with when it comes to lack of manners from our fellow residents. Add your own in the comment section!

1. Saying "Please", "Thank You" and "Excuse Me". Three of the most basic words ever taught to anyone and rarely heard on the streets of Hoboken.

2. Learning how to wait in line, behind the person in front of you. No, not to the side. Behind someone.

3. Holding a door open for a someone! If I already have passed through a doorway, and notice someone is behind me, i'll hold the door for them, so it doesn't swing back and hit them in the face. I dare any of my girl friends to say that I don't hold open the door for them when we enter any establishment.

4. Learning how to go up & down the stairs. Up the stairs on RIGHT, Down the stairs on RIGHT. If you are faster, and not impeding traffic - feel free to quickly ascend or descend on LEFT.

5. "Wide Legged" men on public transportation & people who put their bags on the seat next to them on the bus. Grrr.

6. Asking if someone is using a bench or equipment at the gym or offering to share the bench/equipment. Is it really that hard, "Excuse me are you using that?" or "I'm using it now, but you can join in." I think we all learned "sharing" in 1st grade.

7. If you don't have something nice to say...keep it to yourself! No one wants to hear, "Wow, you gained some weight, huh?" or "Your roots are showing!", or "Hmmm, you have one ugly baby."

8. Learn how to get on a subway or PATH. Step 1: Doors open. Step 2: Let passengers off. Step 3. Quickly get on the train, take a seat, or stand in a place that isn't right in front of the fucking door. Versus what I see every morning....Step 1: Doors open, the outside linebackers in high heels slamming shoulders into the defensive linemen in sneakers trying to get off the train. It's like Full Contact Musical Chairs.

9. Loud cell phone talkers. Shut up! I don't want to hear that your boyfriend isn't paying enough attention to you. I don't want to hear you beg mommy and daddy to lease you an Audi A4! I really don't care if you think you are the next Guido Gordon Gekko and talking about the "LAMBO" you drove last weekend with your "BOYZ". Shut the FUCK up! I get a call on a cell phone in the gym or on the bus - i'll say "Hey, can I call you back?", not, "LETS MEET AT LOUNGE 11! THAT'S RIGHT BRO! DJ'AIS THIS SUMMER AT BEL-MAWR!!"

10. Passing gas. Dude, seriously? Seriously? You have to fart in the middle of a bar or on a PATH train? What's wrong with you, exactly? At what point in your mental midget life did your parents completely forget the part about teaching you not to be a complete and total scumbag in public?

11. Not giving up a seat for the elderly, injured or pregnant. On the PATH I had a few people - men and women - who were very nice to me when they saw me with my crutches. I always make sure I get out of my seat if I see someone who needs it more than me.

12. Learning how to walk on a sidewalk. Much like the stairs, stay to your right. Don't sloooooooowly walk down the sidewalk with a friend, shoulder to shoulder and stop people from passing you. Also the stroller moms know what i'm talking about - you push your stroller, wandering the street, like you are on too much cold medicine.

13. Learn to hail a cab - don't stand 5 feet in front of someone else who was hailing cabs before you.

14. LEFT LANE = FAST LANE (i.e. Faster than Speed Limit!). RIGHT LANE = SPEED LIMIT LANE. Stop being idiots NJ drivers! Do not pass someone in the right lane, then get in front of them and SLOW DOWN. This is also true for you STROLLER MOMS out there! Stay to the right, ladies!

15. When it's raining use an enormous GOLF umbrella when GOLFING. Not for walking down the sidewalk and making other people duck or move out of the way from getting hit in the head by your umbrella. Gustbuster makes a great umbrella.

16. People who don't slow down at an intersection for pedestrians & pedestrians who blindly cross the street without looking. Both drivers and pedestrians feel like they have the "RIGHT" of way. You don't. Make eye contact with a driver before you cross the street, and LOOK at the lights to see if you have the right of way before you cross the street. Far too often I see mommys with strollers crossing when the light changes and then give the drivers the "oh yea just try to hit ME buddy" look while they cross the street.

17. Saying "Bless you" when you sneeze. Have we really become so self contained that we don't say that anymore?

18. Helping someone out that you don't even know. I was walking into my building when I saw an enormous newly delivered couch against someone's front door. While passing by I saw the neighbor who owned the couch eyeing it curiously and looking a bit helpless. I said, "Do you need my help moving that into your place?" He looked completely relieved, saying "Thank you so much! I didn't know what I was going to do, I would have to call some friends to help me." Another example, i'm walking around Tribeca and always see the "tourist lost" people. You know the type. They stand there with a map, looking around, completely lost and trying to find street signs. I just walk up and don't say "Hello" - I simply say, "Hey, where you trying to go?" They always look so happy and surprised that a NEW YORKER (heh) is helping them. Everytime they leave I always get them saying, "Wow, everyone said that New Yorkers are rude..." Of course that's because i'm a PHILLY BOY in New York, but lets not get to particulars.

19. Learn how to shake someone's hand. Learn it. There's an actual art to how you should shake someone's hand. Make EYE CONTACT. Show that you are interested in them. I always get the people who shake my hand and look away like i'm not important enough to pay attention to - how very rude. Or they give me the dead fish handshake. Or the "I'M THE NEXT DONALD TRUMP" vice grip with a strong pull towards them. Learn how to shake someone's hand. Really. It's good manners.

And finally for my peeps at ICAP in Jersey City...

20. The terms "Print", "Done" and "I'm a seller" or "I'm a buyer" when talking about anything in normal conversation, outside of work, is over. Mmmm-kay? You sound like a tool, and it's not really bad manners, but it's just lame. Also if anyone says "I gotta hop" anymore, I think it should be legal to take them outside, behind the shed and shoot them like Old Yeller.

End Of An Era

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I started bartending back in 2002. I didn't need the money, really, but it was more of something that opened up with my friend Joe the fireman saying that he was managing a bar and needed trustworthy people to bartend.

We assembled a crew of regulars to bartend who were all Farside regulars, and jokingly called Dipper's: "Farside 2" when we first opened.

They were fun years. We weren't the "cool bar", we were a dive bar. We attracted people who liked to drink beer, throw darts, and get drunk - cheap. If you walked into our bar with $20, you would walk out feelin' great.

I would tell my family that bartending, to me, wasn't a job. It was like I was going out Saturday night, see my friends, get drunk with them and get paid. How great was that?

Certainly bartending was a great way to meet people, and meet girls, too. Behind the bar a guy can say anything he wants. Has a stocked bar to throw free drinks at cute girls. What guy WOULDN'T want that kind of job? I can only think of one other job that gets you more access to cute girls - a trainer at a gym.

When Dipper's closed, it was certainly end of something great in my life, and many others. The outsiders won't understand the spirit that a bar can infuse on their staff and regulars - it isn't just a place to imbibe, it's like a second home. I'm sure the regulars of Ted and Joe's know how I feel.

When Mikie's opened up, I had to go through the new interview process with new owners and once again, Fireman Joe was my Ace In The Hole. Turns out that he knew the owners, and I made sure that during the interview to drop his name in our talk.

It worked. I was on for Saturday nights. My only shift for an entire week, and it was exactly what I wanted.

But, the bar wasn't.

As much as the new owners, Mike and Cindy were fantastic to me, the spirit of Dipper's slowly faded away. I met new, great people, but missed my old friends. Some moved away. Some made new bars as their regular pubs. It was once a fun diversion at Dipper's and now turned into a 9 hour long job at Mikie's.

Every Saturday would roll around, and I would start dreading my weekends. It was hard to go out on a Friday night, because as you get older, your "bounce back" from drinking fades - it becomes harder to drink all night and get up fresh the next day. Sleeping in on Saturdays until 11am - 12pm would kill any chance of me getting much accomplished on a Saturday afternoon.

Sundays were just as rough, since I wasn't getting to bed until 3-4am. I'd sleep in again, and try to do something those afternoons, but I had my corporate job the next day. My sleep cycle would be all fucked up and often I wouldn't be able to fall asleep until Monday mornings after midnight or later.

Then Mondays would roll around and I'd be tired at Corporation X from the weekend, and i'd be catching up on sleep during the work week, often coming home Monday and falling asleep for 10+ hours.

Rinse, wash, and repeat for 2 years.

It was time for a break.

I knew I had the summer house in Bradley Beach coming up in a few weeks, and was planning to ask Mike and Cindy about taking a break over the summer. I planned to work out April and May, then possibly coming back in the fall if they had an open shift again. If they didn't, then it wasn't a big deal to me.

But things just reached a breaking point for me, and I needed to start my break sooner than expected.

I called Cindy, to ask if we could sit down and talk, I didn't want to quit over the phone. But she pressed, asking what was up and I could just tell her over the phone. I said how bartending just wasn't as fun for me anymore and I didn't want to quit, I just wanted to take a break until the fall.

She was cool, as usual, about it, asking when I wanted my break to start. I told her that I'd like it as soon as possible.

I guess my Saturday nights are free for the first time since March 2006.

I met with Perry from Hoboken411 last night over at Nag's Head. He was nice enough to design a bunch of cards (you can view it here) printed up for the Phillies club, which have on the front a picture of Mulligan's bar, Ryan Howard and the Phillies logo and says, "Are you a Phillies fan or know one who is...?"

On the back is the schedule for our gatherings at the bar, and the bar specials. Trying to figure out the "best" way to get these out to Phillies fans in Hoboken. Was thinking of going out next week (and draging some friends along), during the Mets vs Phillies games and trolling some bars for Phillies fans - hand out the cards and hopefully don't piss off the bartenders/owners.

My mom drove up last weekend, taking me to see Macbeth, starring Patrick Stewart, as my late birthday gift. I have been a Shakespeare in the Park junkie since I moved up here, catching a show almost every year. I got to see Patrick Stewart in The Tempest in 1996, in fact, and loved it.

Macbeth was....good. I can't say GREAT, only because I really had a hard time following the dialogue. I normally haven't had this problem in other shows, and someone suggested that with Shakespare in the Park that the actors have microphones and it may be easier to hear/understand them. Maybe that was it. Or maybe i'm just getting deaf in my old age.

Talking about going deaf & getting old...it's another night with Ratdog (Bob Weir's band after The Grateful Dead)...

This will be my third show in three years with Ratdog and it's at the Beacon tonight.

I've been reading that their recent shows have been a lot of fun. I sincerely hope it isn't another night of me at Grey's Papaya and getting home on autopilot.

What also is a lot of fun? Hearing how popular I am over at ICAP in Jersey City. I was out to dinner with Tiffany at Maru last night in Hoboken (so much better than Robongi - the fish was so fresh last night at Maru) and she was telling me how my little blog is the subject of lots of coworkers at her office, to a point where the heads of the desk shout: "WILL YOU SHUT UP ABOUT PHILLY2HOBOKEN.COM!!!!"

I blame our recession on Philly2Hoboken.com. I'm sorry everyone. Now get back to work, Danny.

Manhattan Mystique

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Been working out of a Corporate office in the West Village, and i'm starting to now understand the "Manhattan Mystique". For all my years I worked in midtown, at 59th and Park, and would go back to Hoboken each day. I would meet a lot of people in Hoboken who were just in Hoboken because they couldn't afford Manhattan rental prices and were just waiting to make more money or find a roommate so they could move into the city. I never really understood why. To me I didn't see the "big deal". I didn't get what the big difference between Hoboken and Manhattan was. I'm not a Jersey guy, i'm from Philly, to me Jersey has always been a joke of a state, but I have found that Hoboken was a pleasant melting pot of, well, suburban middle class white kids.

Now that i'm working in the West Village, i'm starting to see the city in a whole new light. It's really not something that I can describe well in words, and I highly doubt anyone reading this will fully understand what i'm about to say, but bear with me.

Manhattan is just very....cool.

I hate to use a word like that. "Cool". Gee is the Fonz showing up? But it's the closest word I can really just decribe it. The midtown office wasn't cool. Sure, it was on Posh Park Avenue, but there's something very sterile and corporate about where I was - and the shops were all on Madison Avenue, the feeling to me was like you couldn't just meander around - you had to be "GOING SOMEWHERE" and the tourists were in full effect, standing on the sidewalks and blocking everyone.

In the West Village, however, it's just a more mellow vibe. I have been taking my lunch breaks just walking around. Exploring. Looking at the shops, boutiques and townhouses along tree lined, quiet streets. I feel like, on some streets, that i'm walking down a movie set - and in some cases i'll recognize a corner or street from a movie. There's also the people that live and work there - there's something just different about them. Something that Hoboken doesn't have.

You see, Hoboken has a great group of residents, but there's something very homogeneous about most of the town. The West Village has just a spectrum of people, and in some ways I get the feeling that many of them fall into three categories:

1. They are local & rich. This is the most popular person I see around the West Village. I walk around and see people between 25-45 just hanging out in their $500 Japan-imported distressed jeans, D&G sunglasses and well coiffed hair, with their dogs at the dog park or just sitting at a cafe and there's something different about them. They aren't on their lunch break and they aren't a rich tourist. They are definitely showing by the cut of their clothes and their expensive accessories that they are a "somebody" (or trying to be a somebody).

2. They are local & not rich. Sure, they may not have money, but the artists, dog walkers and ex-hippies that meander around are still just...interesting. I love to people watch, I could sit on a bench for hours and watch people pass by, look them over, and try to figure them out. They could be a working Joe like me, and just add to the flavor of the town. There's also a lot of kids around, which I didn't see so often in midtown Manhattan. There's a definite energy of the parents and kids vibe that I never really saw uptown.

3. They are a tourist. Lots of tourists walk around, you just can't escape them.

10 years ago I would have wrinkled my nose at the idea that Manhattan was so "special". I didn't get it. To me, what's the difference between the West Village and Hoboken which were seperated by a river? Heck, we could be the West West Village. On my lunch breaks, I walk along the river, by Pier 40, and I can see the Lackawanna Terminal and people on Pier A.

But I can say as much as Manhattan bug has bitten me, I won't be abandoning Hoboken anytime soon, I do look forward to exploring some of the bars and restaurants around my office in the West Village.

Anyone have some good places to check out?

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