November 2010 Archives

Giving Thanks & Giving Grief

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Sure, it's that time of the year where we all get sentimental, and sappy, each writing about how we love our family, health and friends for everything and blah blah blah.

OK, but my one nephew did ask "What are you thankful for, Uncle Sean....?" in a sarcastic/joking way on our car ride home and it prompted this sincere response from me:

"Actually kidding aside, Fredo*, what i'm thankful for is my family. As you get older you realize how you have been blessed in life to have wonderful siblings, family in laws and parents. I definitely have been very fortunate to have a great family. The only thing I wish I had was my father back to enjoy these holidays with him."

*name changed to prevent angry emails from his mother, my sister :)

So that's my giving thanks moment. Moving on. Here's what I'd like to Give Grief about, because that's more fun:

1. I was walking down the street the other day and a guy was trying to jump start a car. He put both leads on both batteries. I stopped and yelled to him, "Hey man, that's wrong. You need to put the black cable on a ground..."

He rebuffed me - "I have done this a hundred times, I know what i'm doing..."

I start to explain why he's wrong. Then stop when I realize he doesn't care. I just said "Forget it." and walked away. I have found that as I get older I start to care less about fixing the world.

2. Why is is that every person on the planet have no idea how to drive? I'm not perfect but I do understand this simple rule:

GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE LEFT LANE UNLESS YOU ARE PASSING.

How hard is that? I don't care if you are going 75 mph or 80. DO NOT SIT IN THE FUCKING LANE. I swear to God that's the #1 thing that drives me insane for my not very often drives to DC or Philly on I-95, I couldn't imagine the road rage I would have if I was in sales and drove around Jersey for a living.

Oh, same rule applies if you are at the PATH station and going up and down stairs, people. If you are a slow motherfucker - get right. I seriously want to invent a scrolling banner, that I can put on the front of my car which will type in reverse. So someone looking in their rear view mirror will see the letters flipped to proper text that says:

GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE LEFT LANE UNLESS YOU ARE PASSING!!!!!!!!!!!

Wouldn't that be awesome invention? Shit, you could write a whole bunch of things to vent your road rage. But I would guess it would lead to many, many more accidents and fist fights. Still would be a great invention. Searchplates.com needs to figure out a way to team up with Facebook so people can link their license plate to their account (but keep their name anonymous to people searching for their license plate) - then people can get plenty of texts about their shitty driving. But most people will be like the jumper cable guy - everyone always thinks they are "right" even when they are wrong.

3. What the fuck is up in Hoboken politics these days? A friend of mine who I haven't seen in ages told me that Hoboken City Hall was the best public theater in town. He was completely and utterly correct. At first when he told me this I didn't own a home and really didn't care about local politics. Let me tell you something - our town can easily rival ANYTHING ON TV. You could easily sit a Hollywood writer down and watch what goes on here and it would be must-see-TV with the backstabbing, conspiracies and bullshit mud flinging that is going on.

If any of this interests you I implore you to read what REALLY is going on in town by reading Mile Square View, Hoboken Journal or Hoboken Patch.

We currently have a 5 person majority city council that plans to do everything possible to obstruct Mayor Zimmer until the May 2011 city council elections. We have to start right now getting the word out, registering voters and getting NEW people on the city council who actually want to move the city forward. There is a small group of people known as "The Old Guard" who want to control the city (anyone watch Boardwalk Empire on HBO? Eerily similar tactics are used in Hoboken!).

Get informed and get involved. I usually don't make my blog about politics, but I simply can't stand watching people who are simply evil and beyond reproach try to character assassinate & intimidate anyone who dares get in their way. My only goal is to get more NEW people involved and registered to vote. My #1 goal in the upcoming weeks is to get everyone in my 100 unit building registered to vote for the upcoming election. There's at least 200+ people in my building and another 200+ people I have in the Eagles and Phillies Club and probably about 200+ unique monthly readers on my website who live in Hoboken.

I don't expect to get all of them to vote - but in these elections its incredible how often the phrase "Every vote counts" is used. It's so true in Hoboken.

I have Pierre Thomas in fantasy football. I also have some other RB options, like Ladell Betts (his backup) and Brandon Jacobs (up until week 12 was the #2 RB on the Giants).

Yahoo, ESPN or CBS Sportsline needs to implement this feature: Injury Swaps.

How it works is simple. Lets say you have someone who is on the NFL injury list, but "questionable". They are a gametime decision, and someone you expect to play. I figured after the bye week that Pierre Thomas would be good to go. I worked until 7am Sunday morning, fell asleep when I got home at 8am, and woke up after the games started.

I have Ladell Betts and Brandon Jacobs on my bench, but had Pierre Thomas in my lineup.

Spare me the armchair coaches who will say "Well that's COACHING. You should have put in a backup manually and should be watching the report 1 hour before gametime."

No. Bullshit. I was working until 7am that night, and i'm sure there are thousands of other owners who get screwed due to real-life issues like I do. We have the technology, we should make fantasy football management smarter.

I had the healthy RB to use on the Saints - Betts. They should make a simple option that works as the following:

If healthy player is scratched from the game at 1pm, then there is an autoswitch option to replace the injured player with one player from your bench. Sort of the same way that auto-draft works in the draft room.

For example, Pierre Thomas sat out Week 11, then the RBs on my bench are tagged in some kind of ranking:
1. Brandon Jacobs
2. Ladell Betts.

Brandon Jacobs would get substituted in if their game hasn't started before Pierre Thomas. If Brandon's game was over, then Ladell Betts should play in place of Pierre Thomas.

I know that some of the traditional fantasy football owners would bristle at my idea, but it is something that needed to be fixed a long time ago. I got 0 points for Pierre Thomas, and Betts & Jacobs weren't fantasy studs, but if I had their 3.5 or 4.5 points I would have won my fantasy matchup for Week 12.

Sour grapes? Sure. But still a good idea.

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In the old days of Hoboken, it was easy to just buy a bar, fix it up, get a few beers on tap, hire cute girls to work at the bar, and get the rake out to pile up those loads of cash.

Today, however, the "Hot Bar of the Moment" has a shelf life of only a few months. Remember 3 Forty Grill? Trinity? Quays? The Chandelier Room at The W Hotel? All once reigned as the "HBotM" in Hoboken, and the title currently belongs to The Wicked Wolf.

One of the next contenders to the crown appear to be The Village Pourhouse, opening at 205 First Street. Originally the site of O'Donoghues, it has been bought by the primary investors, Sean McGarr & Michael Sinensky, of the two Village Pourhouses in New York, located at 928 Amsterdam and 64 3rd Avenue. Hoboken's is one of two new bars by the owners, with the other bar opening up on 366 W 46th St in Manhattan.

I must admit the bar brought back memories. O'Donoghues was once the king of all Hoboken bars back in the mid 90's. Take Black Bear, Green Rock and Whiskey Bar combine them into one bar and you had OD's. Now, looking around, I saw the ghosts of my memories linger in a few corners, I would remember wanting to get to the bar after Seinfeld to listen to the Grateful Dead cover band - was it "Box Of Rain"?

I had a chance to meet with one of the minority owners, Rob Gebhardt, over the weekend, who gave me an inside tour of the newly renovated property. I told him my "HBotM Theory" of how bars are popular when they first open in town, and how they eventually are just replaced by the next bar that opens a few months later.

"We aren't a group of guys who suddenly decided to open a bar. We have a history in this business. We know how to make a successful bar, that's part of the community and adjusts to what the neighborhood wants. The two bars in the city are both next to NYU and Columbia. They are sports bars designed for that community. If you look over our theme nights, we want each night to be a 'destination bar' for different interests from whole town.", Rob told me as we sat in the "The Sky Box" lounge section of the bar.

Rob showed off the various quadrants that the bar was designed. There are four different zones, each with their own sound system. Around the bar are 27 HDTVs, and they have about twelve "Sounddog Wireless Audio" boxes. The Sounddogs give patrons sitting at a table the ability to listen to any of the HDTVs in the bar. So, for example, if one zone of the bar has the Giants game on, you can listen to the Colts game with your friends at the table.

The various sections of the bar are referred as the party rooms. When first entering The Pourhouse, the rectangle mahogany bar dominates the western side of the front room which was designed to embrace the old Irish heritage of O'Donoghues, along with a sports memorabilia case and flickering gas lamps. There will be assorted tables along the wall to sit, along with 8 HDTVs.

The Dugout, near the south end of the floor, was designed to host two separate booths that can seat 6-8 people or one big booth for 12-16 patrons. HDTVs frame both sides of The Dugout, to give patrons control of what they want to watch. They were specially designed for comfort and utility - each leather banquettes has their own pullout drawers to store purses or light coats.

The Red Light Room is the eastern section of the bar, which can be designed to have its own bartender and sound for groups up to 90 people. They have 8 HDTVs in this section also. Plus, there is a "private entrance" for people hosting parties, to avoid the lines outside.

The Sky Box is situated in the southern end, where the old stage used to be, replaced with raised leather banquettes, a small separate private bar, and open area which can be used for additional tables or open space. 7 HDTVs are scattered around this zone, and there's a skylight, hence the name, which allows natural light to shine in from the roof, or can be shut to reduce glare. The southern wall also has a high definition projector to show special events like the Super Bowl, NCAA tournament or boxing.

"Having the various sections of the bar gives the Village Pourhouse the ability to be fluid.", Rob told me. "You can have in one section some parents with their kids and in another section can gave a crowd of Yankees fans watching baseball."

Kids? I asked Rob that one of the reputations that the other Pourhouses had was that they were a frat-bar hangout. Was that their plan? I noted that the Flip Cup Guys were signed on to have Thursday nights at The Village Pourhouse, did he expect parents to bring their kids to the bar while those tournaments were going on?

"We recognize that we have a community here of diverse interests. From stay-at-home parents during the weekdays to the typical young bar crowd you get on a Thursday-Friday-Saturday. We aren't interested in being a frat bar. Both of the owners are parents, and have children. Part of our strategy here is to be inclusive. When parents come here, kids under five eat free. Now, do I expect parents to be here on Flip Cup night? Maybe. The design of the bar, the sound system and the various seating areas, gives us the flexibility to be almost four bars in one.", Rob explained.

Looking over the weekly events, they did take into account various interests besides the Flip Cup crowd on Thursdays. There was karaoke night on Wednesday. Taco Night on Tuesday. Saturday college football and Sunday NFL football (with breakfast bingo!). They also plan to be open for European football on Saturday & Sunday mornings.

Plus with the 2nd floor kitchen renovated, they will be offering an exclusive menu. I told Rob that some bars open up with much fanfare, with an executive chef, and two months later the chef leaves and replaced with a much cheaper and not as skilled labor in the kitchen.

"No way. Not here. Each Village Pourhouse has one chef who is trained by our chef in the city. We want to be consistent. If you ate in a Pourhouse in the city, we want you to be able to come to Hoboken, order from our menu and get the same delicious meal you ordered in the city. We aren't trying to be anything but normal good American pub food, but do add a little twist on our menu. For example, the Lamb Burgers are outstanding."

I asked him if they really had 130 beers available. What if I wanted to sample them?

"We have flights of beer here.", Rob told me, "From the beers on tap & we will open a bottle and that's part of the flight service."

What about proper glassware? Rob nodded and showed off the various kinds of glasses, each for a different brand of beer. I asked to make sure the Guinness was on nitrous tap, separate from the rest of the beer. It was.

I was impressed. I asked about the owner situation here. Sean McGarr and Michael Sinensky were primary owners, along with the previous owner of O'Donoghues and a few other minority owners, like himself, who all had a vested interest in making sure the bar works. Rob told me that all the employees from OD's were offered jobs to come back, and it appears that Vinny and Janine, along with the bouncers would be returning. All the new servers and bartenders are specially trained by the management to give service with a smile. Even stenciled on one of the walls is "[insert phrase here]"

I must admit I did walk into the interview a bit skeptical. After reading a few comments on Yelp.com about the Village Pourhouse I was afraid that this was going to be another frat-kid bar. Certainly seems like it will have some of that, but also appears to be a very welcome addition to the downtown neighborhood, which has a had a few recent renovated pubs, but The Village Pourhouse just raised the bar to the next level. It would be a shame to just call it a sports bar. I would surmise to say The Village Pourhouse is primed to become THE sports bar to which all other so-called sports bars in Hoboken will be measured.

May the best bar win.

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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