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Why It Is Time You Embrace UberX

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Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably are already familiar with UberX, the car sharing service. If you aren't familiar with it, it basically is a taxi service, in which you request a UberX car via a smartphone app. The smartphone uses your GPS location (or you can enter it manually), and you can order a car to pick you up and take you to any destination. The driver & the car are owned by private citizens who work for UberX.
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The pricing is competitive. In the case of my testing in Hoboken, I have found its even cheaper than most Hoboken taxis. Let me give you a few examples:

  1. I needed a car on a Saturday morning. I was going on a golf outing, and meeting people to take a bus at 13th street Rite Aid around 5:45 am. I called Indian Way at 5am - asking if a car could be sent to my place at 5:30am. They said, "Oh, just call back 10 minutes before you need a car." I walked Rocco, grabbed some coffee, and called back at 5:20 am. No answer. Called again at 5:25 am. No answer. Called again at 5:30am. No answer. I'm pissed. I can't be late. I didn't think that UberX drivers were up at 5:30am on a Saturday, but flipped open the app - and had a car at my place 3 minutes later. No fuss. No muss. Crisis averted. Interestingly enough the car ride was, with tip, $6. That's what Indian Way costs without tip. I was so happy that the driver helped me out that I gave him an extra $5 cash.

  2. Recently I needed to see a doctor located in Jersey City heights. I don't own a car. Taxi rides outside of Hoboken can be prohibitively expensive. UberX charged me $10 to get up to Kennedy Blvd and $10 back, both with tip included.

  3. Often I rent cars from Avis in Jersey City, at the Newport Mall. I used to take Indian Way - it was a $12 cab ride from my house on Newark Street to the mall. Its less than a mile away. With UberX it costs me $8, with tip.

Also, I should point out that most taxi cabs in Hoboken are very old. They rattle and squeak and the vinyl seats often are gross - and forget about getting a cab with good air conditioning. With UberX most of the cars I have been in are nearly brand-new. The drivers offered me bottled water many times. They are clean and comfortable. The drivers get rated by the UberX application. If a driver cannot maintain a 4.5 star rating - they no longer drive for Uber. The rating system is from the passengers, after each ride you give the driver 1 to 5 stars. 1 star if the service is terrible and 5 stars if the service is fantastic. I have given 5 stars out to about all my rides so far.

The only downside is the surge pricing. They can increase the pricing based on a supply and demand model. Before you request a car, you can get a fare quote, and I often do this, especially if i'm pricing out a car ride to the airport.

As I told UberX drivers repeatedly, if the taxi industry doesn't catch up to this soon, and create a similar app with competitive pricing - they will become a dinosaur.

When Hoboken Reform started, we all we united under the idea of a "better" Hoboken. We didn't want Hoboken to become like Newport in Jersey City (and still don't), with high rise buildings dominating the Hoboken skyline. We didn't want corruption and back room deals by people who had connections in the city. We didn't want special rules for those who had a hand in someone's pocket.

When Dawn Zimmer, Rhavi Bhalli, Dave Mello, Peter Cunningham and Carol Marsh were swept into office, it was a signal that times are changing for the better. Many of their actions over the last two terms have been worthy of applause and there have been other actions which I have raised an eyebrow at the poor decisions that were made.

Many residents might have heard about a proposed development at 1300 Jefferson Street. Currently the site is an abandoned factory, and surrounding the lot isn't any residental space. Its almost as far to the border of Hoboken and we can get.

The proposal was to turn the site into mixed use development by the same developers who created Pilsener Haus and Biergarten. The majority of the story you can read here.

No one in reform wants high rises, but we do have high rise buildings of 12-14 stories in Hoboken. That's not unusual - and I think consideration needs to be looked into where we build larger buildings. There's currently a lot of pushback on the propose NJ Transit plan to build high rises along Observer Highway & the PATH station. There's also some pushback for a proposed 14 story tower at the Monroe Center.

That I understand, I can understand the resistance.

There's NOTHING in the part of town for the proposed mixed use development. Adding a 14 story tower, along with a rock climbing gym and bowling alley would be great for Hoboken. Imagine a Brooklyn Bowl style bowling alley - which has also a music stage too? Everyone wins here.

Last night the Zoning Board voted down the proposal 5-2 against even when faced with a large crowd of community activists who have been adamant about their fear of overdevelopment - and they were FOR the proposal.

We can all sit here and shrug our shoulders or do something about it. Post about it on your Facebook wall. Write your local councilperson. Ask Dawn Zimmer. Why is progress stalling in Hoboken? The community came together to bring reform to Hoboken and it worked. Change can happen, but it takes your voice to change that.

In 2008, the owner of the Neumann Leather Building, at 300 Observer Highway, had a proposal to knock the building(s) down and build new condos. The artists and tenants at the building, along with the residents united in a common front to staunchly protest this plan and have the Hoboken City Council deny them variances & zoning changes to move forward with their plan. I, myself, spoke at the City Council meeting to protest changing the site, and wrote about it here.

Last night the City of Hoboken sponsored a community meeting to gather input from residents and tenants called "NEUMANN LEATHERS REDEVELOPMENT PLAN COMMUNITY WORKSHOP". As per the city's email:

"The plan will address possibilities of adaptive reuse of buildings, needs for improving utilities, traffic around the site, and potential uses and density for development of the area.

The public is invited to participate in this process. This first community workshop will include exercises to recognize the existing conditions of the site and surrounding area, as well as identify constraints and opportunities for the future development of the area. This will inform the planning and design process for the project team of planners, engineers, economists, architects and landscape architects. The consultant will gather the community feedback from this meeting to help develop a vision for the area and determine appropriate alternatives for a comprehensive plan for the area."

In laymen's terms : They want to see where the public stands on the site & any kind of changes to it - from minor facade repairs to drastic changes. Most (not all) of the people I talked to had this to say:


  1. We like the building, but would also like to see the exterior windows and facade cleaned up & restored.
  2. We like the artists and tenants, and don't want to see them forced out - and definitely do not want more condos.
  3. The city needs industrial lofts. We have enough nail salons, frozen yogurt and sushi restaurants.
  4. The open blacktop parking lot is an eyesore & a waste of good space.

With that said, if I had a magic wand, this is what I would change at the Neumann Leather site, and I think it would be a win/win for everyone from the tenants, the neighborhood and the owners.

#1 - Allow the owner to develop the parking lot into condos.

Condos? NO! NO! We don't need more condos you said it yourself!

Just hear me out.

I'm in the camp that i'd like to see the Neumann Leather building remain where it is and not to displace the tenants. I'm also in the camp that the building looks like shit. I don't think anyone can disagree with me there. The Neumann Leather building is ugly. They have some windows with cement cinder blocks and other windows with broken, chipped windows. It's ugly. The sidewalks are cracked around the entire building. There is one single, lonely, tree planted outside by the bus stop.

Six years ago the public was fairly united that we would love to see the building restored, and the area around it cleaned up. The problem is that the owners have no real incentive to do this. Why would he? Out of the goodness of his heart? The owner doesn't even live in Hoboken - from what I understand he lives in North Carolina and could give a shit about the site aside from collecting money from tenants. The sidewalks are never plowed after snowstorms.

The owner, however, knows that he is sitting on a gold mine. The location is fantastic, and building there would mean a lot of new revenue. The compromise would be to allow for the parking lot to be replaced by a new residential building. Preferably a building that has three bedroom condos, something that we sorely lack in Hoboken. I also would hope that however the new building is designed that it has a new parking garage built into the building, so that tenants of the building can park there for free, or a modest cost like $5 a day (or $100 a month). Also the building should be in line with other buildings that surround it, so no more than 12 stories (Observer Plaza is next to Neumann Leathers at 12 stories tall).

Red: Allow for development
White: Do not develop
Green: Create a pocket park or cobblestone courtyard for community events like farmers market
Yellow: These aren't part of Neumann Leather, but they are already under construction or slated for new construction.
Blue: Pedestrian/Bike Pathway between the building connecting Newark St and Observer Highway.

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Allowing for this development then needs to be tied into my next point:

2. Restore the Neumann Leather building. Clean the facade. Restore the old graphics. Replace the windows. Fix the sidewalks. Add trees.

Something like this, keeping the original architecture, but replacing and restoring the windows to a modern, clean look:
factory.jpg

Again, the incentive to do this would be the trade off of allowing for new construction.

3. Attract Whole Foods or Sprouts Farmers Market.

I think a big win for Hoboken would be attracting a Whole Foods or Sprouts Farmers Market. A perfect location would be here. I think a creative campaign by the city and the owner here could absolutely land a premium super market for this location. Parking wouldn't be an issue, since a new parking garage would be built on site for those who want to park there. I know, for example that the sitemap I drew with yellow stripes also planned to put in a public parking garage, too, along with condos.


How does everyone win?

The owner wins because they can develop (some of) their site, which allows them to generate revenue.
The neighborhood wins because they get a restored, beautiful building, open space (or a cobblestone open courtyard), and a Whole Foods.
The tenants win because we keep the industrial lofts for them.

I think this is a compromise that allows everyone to get what they want, if we allow for some minor changes.

The other day I wrote about how people are going around the barricade at Newark & Madison.

Yesterday I was walking to Crossfit Hoboken, and what did I see? I cruiser parked on Newark between Madison & Monroe, waiting. I walk up to the police officer and ask him to roll down his window. I said, "Too bad you are in a marked car - if you had an undercover car you would be catching a lot of people!"

He replied, "Already caught two people going around the barricade."

Good. Its the first time in THREE years that I ever saw a police car parked there nabbing people. We have some fanatics who cry about everything in this town, but that's where I want my tax dollars spent - safety. News just came out today that the police caught a suspect who has been plaguing our town stealing packages.

Hats off to the Hoboken Police. Great job! I like seeing more proactive police work rather than just reacting to a 911 phone call. Keep up the good work. Now, if someone is reading this at City Hall, can I talk to you about re-painting the crosswalks along Newark Street? Also would love to see a stop sign at Newark and Clinton, on the Eastbound side, while we are at it.

Repost from last year, but it needs to be said every year.

Often in my blog, I laud Mayor Zimmer. I think she's fantastic, and most everything she has done I have agreed with.

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Most everything.

One of the hot topics where I disagree is the St. Patrick's Day parade. This isn't a simple issue. It's complex. There's certainly a lot of people affected by it, and the most obvious issue that critics point to is "quality of life".

Things that can't be disputed that on our parade day there are lots of people who come to Hoboken who could care less about a parade, and are simply looking for an excuse to drink. Considering that most of our fund raisers (Restore Our Shore at City Bistro or The Gala to Rebuild Hoboken) revolve around serving alcohol. You disagree? Try to have either of those events in a "family friendly" setting. Take away the bars from those fundraisers or any serving of alcohol & move those events to a Wednesday night. Think they would have the same turnout? You and I both know they wouldn't.

As for the issue of crime. Recently the city council discussed that last year crime was down compared to years past, and are using that as a reason why moving the parade to a Wednesday was a success. First off, there were far less people in town last year for the "LepreCon", even if 10,000 people online said they RSVP'd - a simple walk around town proved that there were far fewer people versus years past. Hence...less crime. Don't piss on my head and tell me it's raining. Of course if you have less people in town you will have less crime. That shouldn't be a reason to cancel this parade.

Here's the easy solutions that can bring the parade back to the weekends and make everyone happy:

1. Schedule it for a Sunday, not a Saturday. The argument from The Hoboken St. Patrick's Day Committee was that participants could not do a weekday parade because many of them are working. Saturday was the reason, but i'm sure most people will be able to make a Sunday parade. Plus, most younger adults can drink with wild abandon on a Saturday afternoon, whereas most younger adults may have a good time - but many of them have jobs on Monday and that will temper HOW drunk they get.

2. Create a Beer Garden for people to drink & charge them. We have similar tents for The St. Ann's Festival. Plus the St. Ann's Festival has live music. The Nerds played there last time. Why not do the same thing for the St. Patrick's Day event? We had Mumford & Sons play on Pier A last summer. I would do the same event, with live Irish Bands. This would do two things: 1. Less house parties and 2. Keep the drinkers in a place where they can be easily controlled.
It won't stop the house parties. It won't stop bars from having people drink. What it will do is diffuse those events by taking the 17,000 people who would normally be at a house party or a bar - and put them in front of the police. It will allow us to hire Class 2 police or, perhaps, a professional security company (like ones you see at other outdoor concerts) to patrol the "St. Patrick's Day Beer Garden", while "regular" police can patrol the city and respond to calls of disturbances. Visibly intoxicated people at the Beer Garden will be removed with zero tolerance.
Also, the money raised from this event can offset the clean up costs. Mumford & Sons attracted 17,000 people - and they sold beer at that event. Lets imagine to attend the Beer Garden you need a wristband to enter, each wristband is $5. Beer is $4 each, much like you would find at any bar in Hoboken. The wristbands alone would generate $85,000 (17,000 times $5). That's not including what the beer would generate, which I would hazard to say if everyone had 1 drink, that would be $51,000 (this includes beer costs, which would probably be $1 per drink, so expect $3 profile per beer). Also, I would hire for this event licensed Hoboken bartenders at $200 each - and there will be plenty of them available that aren't working the bar that day (trust me, as someone who bartended for 10+ years you can find free bartenders who want to make easy money pouring beer.

3. Move the Parade to Sinatra Drive. This is for multiple reasons. One, the argument from store owners is that they didn't like so many people blocking their store fronts. Two, this blocks major traffic on Washington Street. Three, people live along Washington Street & are affected by the quality of life. Let's move it to Sinatra Drive, where people can easily line up and watch the parade, with NYC as the backdrop. Have the parade begin at 11th Street and "end" at the Beer Garden, with Erie-Lackawanna Park and Hudson Place cars & taxis removed. People who want to watch the parade without having to listen to loud music & revelers along Washington Street can enjoy it without people bumping into them or making noise.

4. Create a "Family Friendly" area at the Hoboken Little League field. Its a large open space which is close to the parade & allows for kids and adults to watch the parade pass by on Sinatra Drive - with a fenced in area so its easy to watch your kids!

5. Work with the bar community. I know more than this than the average citizen. I happen to be friends with many bar owners. You know what they all say - they didn't like the parade. Yes, it increases revenue. But the headache of dealing with drunks on that day - by hiring more security and dealing with drunks really doesn't make it "worth it". An interesting idea would be the following: Bar owners agree that patrons need to buy wristbands to enter their bars - just like the beer garden. The wristbands are a $5 charge, and proceeds will go towards the city. Bars need to "buy" them from the city before the parade.
So, for example, Bar XYZ buys 1,000 wrist bands for that day or $5,000 which they resell. Now, no one is stopping Bar XYZ from selling those at a fair market value. They could sell them at $5....or $20. We all know that bars have a cover on parade days - plus people can then go to the bar or the Beer Garden. Say someone wants to do a few hours at the Beer Garden, and then join their friends at a bar - they can flash their wristband and don't have to pay a cover. People will say "Why should I pay for a $20 wristband at Bar XYZ, when its only $5 at the Beer Garden". Simple, supply and demand and the bars choice on what they price.
Also if someone leaves the bar for a smoke or whatever and they return with a wristband - then they aren't charged a cover again. The bar is "asked" to buy the number of wristbands equal to their occupancy. So, if Bar XYZ has 300 capacity, they buy $1500 worth of wristbands (if not more), which they make their money back by selling to people at $5 each - or maybe even giving those wristbands for free to their "regulars" (the bar eats the cost of $5, like a buyback). This is the easy way to create a Parade Tax, and if you figure we have 80 bars in town and even 40 of those bars get on board and buy on average 200 wristbands, that is $40,000 that the bars just generated for the city - if not more. Its more money than the ill-planned "fund" that Mayor Zimmer tried in 2009. Plus, my idea is $5 for a wristband. You could make them $10 each.

Use the parade to our advantage. My ideas would absolutely work, generate revenue for clean up costs and security costs - I hazard to say the city could generate $175,000+ on parade day (and that's a conservative estimate). It would satisfy the parade committee and if not keep all the curmudgeon homeowners happy, it would satisfy most of them except for the vocal NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) types who will never be happy.


CitiBike. Bike Sharing. Whoop de fucking doo.

Who cares about bike sharing? Limp wristed liberals...amirite?

OK, stop right there. It IS awesome, and I will tell you why, sir or madam. Lets start with the basics of CitiBike.

All over Manhattan are docking stations. These stations hold the bikes in a "bay", which is controlled by magnetic locks. You can use a docking station key (which is bought online) or your credit card to rent a bike. A coworker of mine had a key which I could use, and gives me 45 minutes of free bike time per use. I would suggest watching a video on how to dock and unlock a CitiBike:

Docking stations are pretty convenient, and there's an app which you can download which shows you the closest docking station. Most of them seem to be within a 4 block walk of each other, so the city is canvassed with these docking stations, making them fairly easy to find (more on this later).

The city also has tons of bike lanes. If you were to be a frequent reader of another local blog in town that hates bike lanes & bike sharing & anything that Dawn Zimmer does (she could cure cancer, and they would still fault her for not curing Parkinsons) - but I know that bike lanes are important and should be enforced and respected (especially after testing them).

So, what do we know? It's easy to rent them. There's a bunch of docking stations. Bike lanes make it easy to navigate the city streets. I have a cute French Bulldog named Rocco (how did this get in there? -editor)

And the one key thing that makes it great: It "opens" up the city.

What does that mean? Opens up the city. Well, let me tell you.

I work in a great part of the city called the West Village. It's picturesque. The city that you mostly see on Hollywood TV (they film here every week for TV shows like "Person of Interest" and "Elementary"). Lots of cute boutiques, stores and restaurants but a significant lack of "lunch spots". It was a trillion times worse about 6 years ago, and it has gotten better, with new places opening up, but there was a time in which you had three choices for lunch within a 10 minute walk: a deli, Chinese food, Indian food, or McDonalds. That's it. Often we were told by delivery people we were too far away and they won't deliver to us.

Today it's not so bad, but we are still a bit off the beaten path. One day last week I said, "We should get Shake Shack."

"Too far to walk. And they don't deliver.", the Chorus from work said back.

"We should use the CitiBike. I'm sure I could ride there in less then 10 minutes from here.", I replied.

"If YOU are going to ride there, we are in!", they cheerfully replied.

And so began my experiment as a delivery guy. My co-worker gave me his CitiBike "Key", and my nearest docking station was three blocks away. I had a few problems with the key at first - I didn't understand which way to insert it (begin jokes here) & once unlocked, I found using the bike lane a bit troublesome with very crowded cross-streets (like at Houston & West Side Highway) - people basically ignored the bike lane, and its a bit like playing "Frogger" on a bike. Not for the meek.

Since when am I meek? I was able do work my way across (Out of my way people! I have a package to deliver!) - zipped down the West Street Highway bike path (its a dream!), and then docked my bike at the Battery Park Ferry. Two block walk to Shake Shack. Ordered food, went back to the docking station. I strapped down my bag full of burgers on the front of the bike which had a very handy basket with a bungee cord attachment to hold small bags in place:
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Back to work & we were happily munching on Shake Shack burgers for lunch. Total time was 10 minutes to bike there each way, and 10 minutes to order. Plus it was a nice day outside, and it was fun to get off the desk.

While we were basking in a post-burger glow, a co-worker said, "This was great. Next week - you gotta get us Katz's Deli with a CitiBike."

Challenge accepted!

I mapped out my route that I needed to ride & where I could dock my bike near Katz's. Rode down Bleeker Street which was really simple...until I got to Bowery Street. For those who don't know Bowery Street is a major New York thorofare like Broadway or Canal Street, but not like a "highway" like West Street or FDR drive (you wouldn't have a bike on here, anyhow). Things got a bit more tricky on these roads just due to the amount of traffic and the general disdain by these driver for people on bikes. You could feel their seething wrath for pedestrains, bike, small children and adorable French Bulldogs that have 6500 fans on Facebook (What's with the bulldog reference?? -editor).

More of a minor issue than a major one, but when planning to ride around the city its not a bad idea to stay off the major roads, in my humble opinion. I have watched enough reddit videos from China, India and Russia on what happened to motorcycles & bikes versus tractor trailers & trucks.

I did run into my first issue at Katz's Deli - empty docking stations. The problem with the popularity of the CitiBike is its success. After I dropped off my bike at a completely empty docking station, went to the deli & returned in 10 minutes, the bike was rented by someone else. Using my iPhone app, the cloeset station with free bikes was at least 8 blocks away (a station was 4 blocks away, but empty & a second station was 4 blocks away in the opposite direction I was going with one bike. I didn't want to risk walking there to find it empty - so I walked 8 blocks to the next free station).

I rode back to work, and my docking station had 2 free spots. Not a big deal, but the other problem are areas that have no free spots at a docking station - and you have to find a free spot to park. Like I wrote, most stations are 4 blocks from each other so finding a free spot shouldn't be TOO difficult. I think in the future the people who manage CitiBikes will figure out where to add more docking stations or bikes to offset this problem, depending on usage.

But - we had our Pastrami on Rye's and I had my Turkey Rachel. Co-workers were excited and the security guards eyes bugged out when they saw me walk in with a Katz's Deli bag - and pleaded with me to let them order, too, next time.

On a side note, if you check seamless.com or delivery.com for delivery - they can charge you $20 per delivery & you have to order $75 worth of food to get Katz's delivered to you. Hell, you could take a taxi for $10 each way. The bike is a much cheaper alternative to taking a taxi. I didn't find that it made me too sweaty (however, I would not recommend wearing anything other than casual clothes), but my heart rate did jump a bit versus walking.

I'm signing up today for the annual pass. Even if I don't live in the city, I have often found myself looking to walk to places that were within the 10-20 block radius, which is too short for a taxi and too far for an easy walk - just grab a CitiBike to get around for now on.

Now if only Hoboken's bike share was THIS easy...

Washington Street Coal Tunnel in Hoboken

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I was reading a news article on Philly.com about a root cellar that was unearthed in West Chester. I love reading about things that are hidden under our cities like this.

Did you know that in the middle of Washington Street in Hoboken there is a old coal tunnel? The older buildings on Washington Street all have connecting tunnels from the basements of their buildings to the coal tunnel, too. Most are bricked up. Some aren't, and I have first hand knowledge from people who have explored the tunnel.

Now before we get to thinking that this is some grand, amazing tunnel that is like the old, abandoned New York subway tunnels:
abandonedtunnel.jpg

It is nothing like that. From what I was told by the explorer, it was very dirty and dusty - and you could barely stand up in it. There were quite a few cave-ins and lots of debris. But you did have the ability to explore it, and it wasn't that exciting. I wonder what other hidden structures are in Hoboken.

I saw this update on Hobokenmenus.com:

WindMill Hot Dogs Hoboken has closed! "The WindMill of Hoboken was off to a running start and then BAMM..... Hurricane Sandy hit! Although the restaurant itself did not sustain damage, the Path Station was severely affected, as were many neighboring homes and businesses. Due to flooding and the closure of the Path Station, locals had to find alternative ways into NYC. The commuters stopped coming and pedestrian traffic in front of the once busy location thinned daily. As a result, The WindMill of Hoboken's steadily growing business began to shrink more and more each day. Simply put, after Hurricane Sandy, things were just never the same."


I don't understand how people with money to open businesses don't see what we need now. Hot Dogs? Really? The demographics of Hoboken have shifted. This may have worked in 2003, but 10 years later you have people buying $800,000+ condos and raising their kids here. #1 thing that 'downtown' Hoboken needs is a Wine Bar like Bin 14 or a craft beer bar like The Jeffrey:


For example the owners at Biggie's who are scratching their collective heads and wondering why they are dead on a weeknight should simply look around and see what this city needs, and not more of "Deep Fried food and Bud Light/Guinness/Blue Moon/Stella on tap" and think the crowd is going to come running. Open a great wine bar with small plates to nosh on, with comfortable seats and low lighting, soft music that caters to first dates or groups looking to try new wines picked by a in-house sommelier and hire a chef that graduated from an accredited institution. After working as a bartender for 10+ years in town, I know who cooks our food and often they are just hard working guys from Third World countries that make chicken wings, quesadillas, hamburgers and other basic "American" things.

Recently I have been on a wine bar binge in the West Village. I wrote about Anfora, Vin Sur Vingt Lelabar and Gottino. They are, in a word all fantastic. Each have different characteristics, like Anfora has some ridiculously good crostini. To a point where even writing about it now, I find myself thinking to find an excuse to take someone there to have some more of it.

I walk around town and see clone after clone of everything when it comes to restaurants. Why is that?

I can give you one easy reason. I forget which year it was, but I think it was 2006 Dave Roberts was mayor and decided that, for quality of life issues, that the City of Hoboken would no longer issue "new" liquor licenses. The only way to obtain a liquor license was to buy an existing license. Now, what do you think this did to supply and demand?

The original cost of a liquor license in Hoboken wasn't expensive. After they enacted the law, the cost jumped to over $500,000. Question - do you THINK that someone like Dave Roberts, who from what I understand owned Amanda's and Cafe Elysian would profit from this change in the law?

Second - how difficult would it be for someone to open a new restaurant in town. The law's rule is you can't open a new bar within 500 feet of an existing bar with a liquor license. So basically the same old crappy bars and keep selling the same old crappy food because they have no incentive to work harder. Where is the competition? You need people who have a million dollars or more to open new restaurants in Hoboken. Its certainly not impossible, if you look at how well Little Town NJ has been doing.

My solution would be simple. Create a new Class of liquor license that allows for sale of wine & beer, but not hard liquor - and can be opened near existing establishments. At least that would allow craft beer or craft wine restaurants to compete a bit with the existing bars and restaurants in town. I'm sure every bar owner will gnash their teeth and such a suggestion, but i'm not a fan of suppressing free enterprise. Don't we have enough nail salons, real estate offices and sushi restaurants?

Seriously, if I had a million dollars I could make a million more by opening up a craft beer or wine bar in downtown Hoboken. Man, do I need to win the lottery.

Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken FAQ

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Hello! Welcome to the Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken Primer. Here's everything you should know about us.

Q: Isn't Mulligan's just the "Eagles Bar"?
A: Nope, nope, nope. We started the "Club" in 2004. Our first bar was at The Brownstone. Then we moved the club to Dipper's (now named Mikie Squared) and eventually settled into Mulligan's a few years ago. Sean runs the club, and also bartends at the bar on the gamedays in the back bar.

Q: What specials do you have?
A: We are sponsored by Bud Light. On gameday (when the Eagles are playing) we have $2 pints ($8 pitchers) of Bud Light and Yuengling, along with $10 buckets of Bud Light bottles. Probably one of the best deals in Hoboken.

Q: Does Mulligans have a kitchen?
A: Yep, open every football game, even on Monday Night Football.

Q: I have a friend who likes to watch their team play, do you show other games?
A: Mulligan's has two distinct bars, the "main" bar and the "back" bar. The "main" bar we show all the games on Sunday, including Eagles. The "back" bar will only show Eagles. We have no problems with opposing fans coming to watch the game, but if they are rude or disruptive towards patrons, they will be shown the door.

Q: I want to get a seat to watch the game. What time should I be at the bar?
A: One of the biggest issues we have is seating. We easily get 100 people at the bar, and everyone wants a seat. If you want a seat, my suggestion is showing up no later than 1 hour before kickoff.

Q: Can I save/reserve a seat at the bar or a table?
A: There's no real issue if you are saving a seat for 1 friend. But we had problems in the past with patrons showing up and holding down 8 seats for friends who show up 5 minutes before kickoff. Please don't do that. It is basically first come, first seated.

Q: Do you have sound on for the game?
A: Yes! Its on both the main bar and the back bar when the Eagles play.

Q: Do you have cheesesteaks at the bar?
A: Sorry, no. But I do recommend Midtown Philly Steaks in Hoboken.

Q: How do you organize the club?
A: We have a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hobokeneagles/ - we encourage fans of the Eagles who live in or around Hoboken to join our Facebook page. It allows us to communicate with each other not only for goings-on at the bar but people sometimes have tickets to Eagles games or events that they want to share.

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I read this article from Bloomberg the other day, about Maxwells closing & other obvious "news" that Hoboken demographics are changing.

I think most everyone who has lived here for over 5 years knows that the days of frat boys moving to Hoboken post-college has been replaced by those same frat-boys who got married, had a kid or two and decided they didn't want to do the 90 minute commute daily from Princeton Junction into NYC, which was the typical life of a suburban dad who worked in NYC.

Now people are staying in Hoboken. Also, lets be clear about who these "people" are. They are not your blue collar types. They are people who can go out, and afford, to buy 800,000 to 1+ million dollar homes - and have extra money to buy that BMW, Land Rover or Mercedes SUV - and send their kids to chartered schools or the $3,000 a month day care.

What does this mean? With Baby Gap & Anthropologie opening up along Washington Street, I think this is the first step of how the demographic shifts will affect many businesses. Think about bars in this town. I remember way back when that bars on tap would simply have the following:
1. Bud Light / Coors Light
2. Guinness
3. Bass
4. Harp
5. "Something Different"

Now "Something Different" often depended on the bar, and the year in Hoboken. Remember when Sam Adams was "Something Different" in the mid 90's? Then Yuengling, Blue Moon & Stella Artois came along which caused beers like Bass and Harp to disappear completely from most bar taps in the 2000's.

New bars like Pier 13 or Pilsener Haus Beer Garden opened up to cater to a new generation of Hobokenites. These are not people who are searching for the perfect Guinness pour at a local Irish pub - but looking for something different and unique that other bars in Hoboken don't have.

For example, if you listed these downtown bars:
Four L's, Black Bear, Republic, The Shannon, The Dubliner, Cooper's Union, Cork City Pub, Green Rock Tap & Grill, Hotel Victor & Biggie's...to name a few.

Is there anything unique and different about them? Do they have a great food menu or specific beers or an extensive wine list?

No. These bars, to a greater or lesser extent, and basic copies of each other. When Hotel Victor underwent an extensive renovation I was hoping that something NEW would open up - something like Bin 14. What downtown Hoboken needs is a good wine bar, not another boring bar with 8 beers on tap and an uninspiring menu of wings, burgers and quesadillas.

The next generation of bars to open will understand this. Mark my words. They are going to cater to Hoboken Moms (and the Dads). They will be kid-friendly. It wouldn't be surprising to me if these same moms & dads rise up and start asking a simple question:

Why do we have bars open until 3am on weekends?

We get a lot of kids from out of town who come to Hoboken to drink. Sometimes that causes trouble. Read the nj.com police blotter every Monday and you can see it for yourself - police reports of fights & crimes that occur from 1am to 3am because people are out too late, drinking and causing mischief.

What if we make bars in Hoboken close at 1am on weeknights & at 2am on weekends? I remember the abject horror of this when I was in my 20's. Now that i'm older and i'm surrounded by residents who think staying up late means "11pm", you kind of wonder if this is something that will change. I can only imagine the City Council meeting with a bunch of moms in there shrillishly crying, "THINK OF THE CHILDREN" when they want to change the laws.

If I could wave a magic wand, here are five things I want to see in Hoboken:

1. Shake Shack to open in Hoboken. They are opening one in Paramus, for crying out loud. Hoboken is a mile square with 50,000 residents. It makes no sense to me how Shake Shack isn't opening in Hoboken before...Paramus. As much as I love Five Guys Burger and Fries, I would open up a Shake Shack along Sinatra next to Club H where the old tanning place used to be. It would be a perfect location.

2. Wegman's or Whole Foods - the two super markets we have in town are ShopRite and A&P. There is a teeny-tiny Kings supermarket on River, but is there anything super about that market? There is a Whole Foods in Edgewater - which is nice if you own a car. I don't own a car. Most of my shopping I use Fresh Direct, which is like Whole Foods delivered to your door. But still. A&P is a dump. ShopRite is OK, but its a fucking zoo unless you time it right. City Hall should be calling Wegman's corporate to woo them to open a new store in Hoboken. Tax breaks or other incentives should be used.

3. Wawa. People who aren't from South Jersey or Philly have no idea why people love Wawa. There are three key reasons. One, great coffee. Two, great deli. Three, "the unexplained". Wawa has a great selection of coffee and don't let an old pot of coffee sit for more than an hour. Sort of like how Au Bon Pain is smart about timers on their coffee. The deli section at Wawas have good, fresh rolls and some of them have a cool touchscreen system that you "build" your perfect sandwich, in which you can specify various cheeses or meats & what you want on it - which gets transmitted to the guy behind the counter so they don't fuck it up. The third point I won't bother explaining but Wawa's are just sprinkled with Awesome Dust in which you don't get the same feeling when walking into a 7-11. A 7-11 to me is the cold corporate clone that people decry when they hear about chain stores moving to a town.

Perfect location for a Wawa: Knock down the old Rey Foods building & other eye sores at Madison and Newark. Put in a sparkling new Wawa gas station and super store:

4. We need a real steakhouse. Palm, Strip House, Del Frisco's, Wolfgang's, BLT Prime, Peter Luger or even Old Homestead- if one of these restaurants opened up in Hoboken I would be in heaven. I'm sorry to anyone who thinks that Arthur's is a real steakhouse. Dino & Harry's I heard have fine steak, but to call them a "steak house" is a bit of a stretch. I'm talking about a restaurant that dry ages their own steak. They use things like "goose fat" when frying their potatoes and people leaving their restaurant gush over the creamed spinach they had with their meal. I did include Old Homestead which technically isn't a steakhouse, but I would welcome that too with open arms. For the love of God if someone is reading this and works for a steakhouse, beg them to open up here. Thank you.

5. Dave & Busters: Hoboken. Tell me this wouldn't work. You have Hoboken moms who could go here for lunch with their kids. At night, it would be more of an 'adult' crowd. I would love to see the Dave & Busters open that has a bowling alley in it which they call D&B Lanes. This would be an instant hit.

Operation: Bad Dog Owner

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Ask anyone in Hoboken what is their biggest pet peeve behind lack of parking or potholes and you probably will hear about dog owners who aren't picking up after their dog. Its disgusting to walk down the street and see brown bombs all over the sidewalk. As a dog owner, it pisses me off when I notice dog owners that aren't cleaning up after their dogs "do their business".

When you walk dogs in your neighborhood, often you meet other dog owners and get to know them. Some you know by name. Some you know just by their dogs name. While there are others that you haven't met, but have seen them walk their dog often enough that you recognize them.

One owner, in particular, got my attention. After walking Rocco for the last three years, I notice that there was one dog owner who consistently was not picking up after their dog. This wasn't a once or twice thing, but it was Every. Single. Time. Every time I saw him walk his dog, he would let the dog poop - and then sort of do a quick "is anyone watching me" look to the left or the right and walk away.

At first I was going to say something. If you know me well enough i'm not someone that minces words, nor do I have a very good filter. This isn't the first time I confronted a bad dog owner. In fact, I remember once before I confronted someone else about not picking up after their dog - and they went so far to accuse me of needing glasses. I remember another time the guy was going to punch me that he was so angry that I caught him.

Perhaps third time is a charm, so I didn't say anything - I let my government do the work. I'm friendly with a few of the hardworking people in city hall, so I reached out to them and asked their advice. I first thought calling the police would be the logical step. Maybe they could do an undercover sting operation! This was met by laughter and correction - that I should contact the health department.

It turns out that by using Hoboken311: http://www.hobokennj.org/311/, I was able to report what I saw. I had a pretty detailed account of the guy who was letting his dog poop all over the place, he had a regular morning routine which was right outside his building. I knew what he looked like and knew what kind of dog he had. I basically wrote all the details in a request.

My honest thought was that no one would really do anything. I mean, how often do you really see the "little guys" get anyone to notice them in City Hall? I'm not some big campaign contributor or own a big business in town. I'm just a regular guy who gets easily annoyed at the double parked cars outside of Piccolo's. But that's a story for another day.

Imagine my surprise when I received this email only a few days later (with some details left out):

"Please be advised that earlier this morning, beginning at 6:45am, our Office conducted a surveillance of the area described in your complaint (Hoboken Health Department Complaint #[redacted]) in which the individual you described in your e-mail, was found in violation of 93-16 of the Code of the City of Hoboken (not picking up dog feces) and has been issued a summons to appear in Hoboken Municipal Court, on [redacted].

Director Pellegrini and myself would like to again thank you for taking the time to send the detailed information that you did which led to the catching of this individual in the act of creating a public health nuisance.

Frank Sasso"

Wait, what? It worked? This town isn't perfect. There's always going to be someone who is going to complain about everything City Hall does - and rarely do you ever hear someone complimenting City Hall on a good job. This is just an example that sometimes government works, and that Hoboken311 is a pretty nifty site.

What's a Hoboken Roadway Patrol?

Basically it would be a law enforcement agency which has patrol jurisdiction over all Hoboken roadways (including any county roads within Hoboken's borders). The HRP would be a branch of the Division of Motor Vehicles in the Department of Public Works. Local police are primarily responsible for investigating and enforcing traffic laws - but having a HRP frees local police to focus on other tasks not related to the roadways. HRP officers enforce the New Jersey Vehicle Code, pursue fugitives spotted on the roadways or sidewalks and attend to all significant obstructions and accidents within their jurisdiction. HRP officers are responsible for investigating and disposing of car accidents, disabled vehicles, debris, and other impediments to the free flow of traffic. They are often the first responders at the scene of an accident (or obstruction), and in turn summon paramedics, firefighters or tow truck drivers.

The job of the HRP would be broken down (but not limited to) into the following main goals:

1. Setting up DUI/DWI checkpoints.
2. Combat speeding with speed traps.
3. Ticket for reckless driving.
4. Ticket for failing to yield right of way to pedestrians.
5. Ticket for disobeying traffic control signal or STOP sign.
6. Ticket for double parked cars.
7. Ticket for jaywalkers.
8. Ticket not using seat belt.
9. Failure to stop for a school bus or disobeying a school crossing guard.
10. Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.

I think the reason why we have disorder in Hoboken is that people basically know that our police are busy with other tasks. When is the last time you saw a speed trap or a DWI checkpoint in Hoboken? When have you ever seen a cop pull someone over for blowing through a stop sign?

I have been here 20 years and I was once pulled over by a cop for speeding in 1995 on Observer Highway. They let us off with a warning. I don't recall ever hearing about anyone getting caught speeding in Hoboken - have you?

As for "who pays for all this" - its simple. First off, I would suggest that the HRP should not be designed as a 24x7 police department. I would suggest that these officers would work 8 hour days, and those hours can be staggered/shifted depending on the day. For example, wouldn't you like Hoboken to have that "extra patrol" of HRP when the bars are open at night - setting up checkpoints for drunk drivers and people speeding?

The goal of the HRP isn't about adding more cops. To me, that is pointless. What we need are police who have ONE job which is to focus on the roads and sidewalks. If there is an emergency or special event (like a parade day or city-wide festival) we can utilize these police for those situations rather than outsourcing from surrounding agencies.

Also i'd like to see HRP use Class 2 police officers, if possible. Plus it would be a good way to create a pool of "good officers" to choose from if openings become available within the Hoboken Police Department ranks, too.

More taxes? I don't think so. I would surmise that by using Class 2 police for 8 hour shifts and to focus on ticketing reckless drivers or pedestrians would pay for most of the costs. I think there would be an initial upfront cost, which we already are paying for since we have six Harley Davidson bikes that are barely used by the police. Also, I think in warmer weather you can have HRP cops (in tandem) who can patrol using bicycles like they do in other parts of the country. Also i'd like to see cops utilize body-mounted cameras to record activities by the drivers that can be used in courts.

What you do you think?

I remember reading a Facebook update from a friend last Friday who said, "I may not be a weatherman, but I guarantee you by Monday this "Sandy" will be a non-event."

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I kept thinking about that update for the last few days while I was trapped in my 8 floor condo, surrounded by 4 feet of water on all sides. Our condo is the Jefferson Trust located on Newark between Willow & Clinton. It's about 100 units, and we had about 30-40 people in the building during the storm. Families were there - about 6 kids and two newborn twins. Probably about 7 dogs, too.

We didn't lose power until 2:30am on Tuesday. We woke that day to no power, flood waters surrounding the building, and only a small patch of dry land at the service entrance behind our building. We were, for lack of a better word, "trapped". Our only saving grace was a natural-gas generator that was built at the same time as our building was in 1985. We tested it monthly, and it runs perfectly. It wasn't enough to power our individual units, but we had power to our hallway lights and stairwells.

On Tuesday morning we spent the day staring at the looming water levels from the entrance of our building. We watched the water levels rise together. Then, someone showed up with a six pack of beer - and offered me one. Then another resident showed up with a carton of wine and a few empty cups. Pretty soon, we were having ourselves a little party when someone hooked up their iPod to some speakers.

We were really just making the best of a bad situation. We couldn't get out - no one had waist high waders. Plus only an idiot would wade into water that deep not knowing if a downed power line or you could step on something sharp.

Eventually, one ground floor resident said, "Hey, I have a gas grill." and what started as a few drinks among friends turned into an impromptu BBQ. Everyone cleaned out their power-less refrigerators (we reasoned it was going to spoil anyhow) and started to grill up all sorts of food - steak, chicken and ribs. Everyone was sharing. I had made fresh home made brownies the night before the storm, and ran up to my apartment sliced them up, added toothpicks and started to serve them along side of a few bottles of wine I had purchased at Sparrow Wine a few days before the party. It was really something to behold - a community coming together, sharing what provisions they have with each other. It was fun, most of us really don't know each other - it's the funny thing about life up around the New York City area we are all packed together and mostly mind our own business. I know other dog owners in the building because we have a common interest - our dogs. But most of the building are strangers to me.

Wednesday rolled around and we were still trapped by the floodwaters. Someone discovered that our generator that was powering the hallway lights had electric rooms on the 4th and 7th floors which had power outlets! We procured a power strip and were able to charge our cell phones, make a pot of coffee and someone even hooked up a slow cooker and started to make a vegetable dish made with peas, corn, and other ingredients.

Signs went up at the lobby "6pm! Community Dinner! Cell phone charging & free coffee on the 4th floor!", it was, for lack of a better word...kind of fun. I mean, we didn't have power in our individual units and I was bored out of my mind. I was reading "The Walking Dead Compendium" a bit on Tuesday. Watched some old Dr. Who videos on Wednesday on my iPad. But I didn't have cell phone access or internet or TV. There wasn't much to do.

By Wednesday afternoon the water level receded to the point where I could wear my new Hunter boots (I bought them for The Hunt 2012 with The Turtle Club) - and figured that the waters were safe now to wade into - I saw others going up First Street, and if a power line was down, it would have zapped them first. I slapped my boots on, with Rocco looking at me with a "Is it time for a walk?" and left him behind to brave a journey to Washington Street.

Now you have to understand by this time it was 11am, and since we lost power my AT&T connection was down unless I went to the 8th floor of our building to get a signal. I had no idea that all of Hoboken was without power. I just thought it was our section of town. Walking around it was like a dream/nightmare/surreal experience. I couldn't believe that everything was off. I figured that Washington Street would at least have power - and I was so hoping to just find a place where I could get a hot cup of coffee.

Walked a bit, ran into some people I knew, talked a little. Wandered a bit more, hoping to find that elusive cup of coffee, and saw a small line of people outside Benny Tudino's. Someone then walked out of Benny's with a pizza box and I saw Brendan Mooney from my Eagles Club (The Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken, which I founded in 2004), I said hello to him, see how he was doing and quickly took my place in line.

I waited about 30 minutes and got to the front of the line. It seems that Benny's ovens were powered by natural gas, so while they didn't have power, they could heat the ovens. They weren't taking credit cards, it was cash only. Each slice was $3. Oh, and you can't buy them 1 slice at a time, you buy a "box" of three slices...which costs $9. Oh...and we don't have change so it's $10 if you don't have $9.

Yes, Benny Tudino's ladies and gentlemen. No, they didn't have to be open, and I was grateful to get a slice of warm pizza from people who didn't have to be making me a slice. Some people will take the side of Benny here and others will call this price gouging. You decide for yourself - i'm just the guy telling the story.

I grabbed 6 slices for $20 and left, carrying the pizza back to Jefferson Trust. People asked me along the way where I got pizza. I told them. Then started to wade back into the water at 1st street with my pizza boxes. A reporter from WCBS 880 caught up to me. He started to interview me about the pizza and where I was going. We talked for about 5 minutes, and I made jokes about surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Not sure if that ever got on the radio, but he said that I would be a hero when I got back to my building.

And you know what...I went up to my apartment, and gobbled down a slice for myself - and then sliced up the rest of the pizza into strips. Went to the lobby and handed it out to residents who were walking around and didn't have boots to get out. Everyone was grateful and it made me feel good to watch them say, "Pizza?!"

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Later Wednesday around 6 PM we had our community dinner. The water levels receded to a point where most everyone could "get out" but there was a curfew in effect and most everyone stuck around. Once again it was neighbors, who really didn't know each other, emptying out what they had and making the best of the situation. The slow cooker on the 4th floor made a BIG pot of cooked veggies, in a curry broth - and we had hot white rice along with it. Burgers, dogs, chicken wings, sausages - at least 10 bottles of wine, and two bottles of port were out there. Kids (and even a dog) were dressed in Halloween Costumes and I brought a Jack-O-Lantern that I carved earlier in the day.

Little did I know that Anderson Cooper was reporting 100 feet away from our party on Newark and Clinton that same night! If I only knew, he would have had one of the best stories ever to report on Halloween during the Sandy aftermath. It was the real tale of good people during a bad storm - about residents coming together as neighbors, friends and a community in Hoboken, to pool their resources, feed each other, share wine and break bread. It made me proud to watch it - and also I SO wanted others to see this. See this organic thing just come together, out of a tragic situation - and proud to be from New Jersey.

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Thursday I woke up at 7am and took a taxi to 14th street ferry. From 14th street I took the ferry to 39th street and then a taxi to my office at Houston and West Side Highway. They were on generator power, and it was amazing to see how bad lower Manhattan was - everything was powered off like Hoboken. I worked that day and it wasn't too bad - I was happy to be back at work doing something - and they even provided us free food (they normally have chips, soda, pretzels, etc) - and I wolfed down big plates of pasta and bread - very grateful to have a hot meal. I didn't know if going home Thursday night what I was going to do about dinner, and sleeping that night was going to be rough without heat or hot water.

Going home, I walked from 14th street ferry home wearing a head-lamp that I normally use on camping trips with the guys who do Team Hike. I saw all the power was still out, and saw a few places here-and-there that had power. I rounded the way off Washington to Newark and saw Jefferson Trust in the distance. I first thought, "Hey I can see the candles from here..." and then realized as I got closer that my neighbors lights were on! They had power!! I started to cry. I know that sounds stupid, but yeah I was walking towards my house and tears were welling up in my eyes because I knew I wasn't going to go to sleep cold tonight and that I could take a warm shower before work on Friday. I got into my apartment, flipped on all the fuses and hugged Rocco, who really had no idea why I was hugging him - but he was cool about it.

Maybe it's luck that we got our power back. I'd like to think it was a little bit of good karma Fate tapping Jefferson Trust on the shoulder and saying, "Good job, here's one back for you."

Whatever it was, i'll take it. I originally planned to head out this weekend to my mom's, and I see a lot of people have evacuated Hoboken - which makes sense if they don't have power. But what I would say if you DO have power - stick around. Lend a hand. Maybe make a warm pot of coffee for a neighbor who has none. My friend Chris Halleron has been making charging stations out of front of his house when he's not busy chasing down reporters from The Wall Street Journal or The Irish Times to give out his "everyman quotes". Nice job there, Chris.

Anyhow. November Thanksgiving just came a few weeks early. I'm sure most of you will feel the same way as I do when the power comes back on for you and if there's anything you need - don't hesitate to email me.

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If I were in discussions with NJ Transit this is what I would want. Some kind of bridge for pedestrians and bikes that go over the train tracks to 18th street.

You can walk along the waterfront to Jersey City, but the path is like being caught in a mouse maze. You zig and zag around the Train terminal and light rail stop and then get to Newport. It's OK, but not ideal. Plus it's only good for people who live downtown near the train station.

Marin Blvd is like playing "Frogger". There's a billion cars, and crossing the street is a nightmare - even when you have the light. Ever try crossing the street at 18th street and Marin Blvd near the A&P? You have to have eyes in the back of your head.

What they need is a bridge that connects Hoboken to Jersey City. Similar to what they did in Philadelphia: Schuylkill River Parks Connector Bridge.

Now, of course, that bridge was paid for with federal money - for 5.6 million. Considering what NJ Transit proposes here, I think it's a drop in the bucket to get a bridge to connect our two cities. Think about how easy it would be to get to Newport Mall?

That's what I would do. Of course it will never happen - why would NJ Transit ever want to help us?

The Best Of Hoboken 2012

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I often meet people from out of town who ask, "Hey do you know a good place for..." and I always have an answer. This is my unabashed list of favorites, in no particular order, and maybe you should try them, if you haven't already done so.

Italian Restaurant: Augustino's
Sandwiches You Need To Try: Hoboken On Rye
Late Night Eats: Windmill Hot Dogs
Chicken Wings: Village Pourhouse (try the Sweet Chili Sauce!)
Cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger: Five Guys Burger and Fries
The Mutz?: Fiore's
Brunch: Elysian Cafe
Steak dinner: Dino & Harry's Steak House
New Bakery: Choc O Pain
Pizza SLICE: Giovanni Pizza
Pizza PIE: Grimaldi's Pizza
Diner: Malibu
Sushi: Maru (Robongi is a close second, trust me Maru gets fresher sushi!)
Indian: Karma Kafe
Irish Bar: Moran's
Cuban Sandwich: Havana Cafe & Lounge (La Isla a close second!)
Dog Walker: Email me - I have someone
Cup O Joe: Legal Beans (Try the Costa Rican brew!)
Place You Never Heard Of, But Need To Try - NOW: Cucharamama
BYOB Restaurant: Cafe Michelina
Drinks with the guys: Pilsener Haus & Biergarten
Drinks with the girls: The Turtle Club
Wine Bar: Bin 14
Second Best Wine Bar Where You Won't Spend A Fortune: Court Street Restaurant & Bar
Ice Cream: Rita's Ice Cream (the frozen custard rocks!)
Dog Store: Beowulf
Best Bar To Get A Buyback: Mulligan's
Where To Meet Other Under 25 Year Olds: Shannon Lounge
Where To Meet 25-32 Year Olds: The Madison
Where To Meet 33+ Year Olds: Cafe Elysian
Where To Meet Born And Raised Hobokenites: The Wilton House
Where To Take Your Parents For Dinner: Amanda's
Where To Take Your First Date To Dinner: Zylo's
Where To Take Your Second Date To Dinner: The Dining Room At Anthony Davids
Chinese Food: They all are pretty average in Hoboken, no awards given!
Italian Deli: Vito's Delicatessen (Fiore's is great, but Vito wins because they have so many more options whereas Fiore's Roast Beef is the main draw)
Bagels: Hoboken Hot Bagels
Restaurant You Should Really Try More: Onieals
Best Sports Bar: Wicked Wolf Tavern
Best Sports Bar, If You Are A Philadelphia Fan: Mulligan's, where the Philadelphia Eagles Club and Philadelphia Phillies Club meet!
Best Restaurant If You Live In Northwest Hoboken And Are Too Lazy To Walk To Washington Street: 10th & Willow Bar & Grill

That's basically my list.

Penny Pincher?

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Life is funny.

As I get older, I start to notice things differently. When you are a kid, or even a teenager, or even a so-called "adult" in college, you don't notice the little tricks that business owners do to fleece you from your money.

One example was a local Italian deli that I was at the other day (not Fiore's, who I love!). They were selling Boylan's soda, and I wanted to buy a orange seltzer that they had. They were making my sandwich, and I asked the cashier how much was the 12 ounce seltzer.

$2.50.

Two dollars. Fifty cents. For orange flavored seltzer water. Normally I don't care. But I started to think about it. I mean, really? It costs THAT much? I was expecting maybe $1.25, at the most. Frustrated, I put the water back into the fridge. It really wasn't the PRICE but to me it was just absurd they would charge that much for such a tiny drink. Instead I walked a few blocks on my way home with my hero, and stopped in a local bodega, bought a can plain seltzer (not Boylan's) for $.85 cents. I'll spend my $1.65 somewhere else.

Another example.

I work out at the CrossFit. Often, I will grab a bottle of the 23 ounce Poland Spring sport bottle at a deli. They charge me $1.75 for a bottle. I don't really think about it until I looked at FreshDirect, and they charge $12.69 for 24 bottles: $.52 per bottle! I ordered two cases of those and keep them in my fridge. Insane in the membrane! Insane in the brain!

A third example:

Coffee. I drink coffee in the morning at work, and now that I embraced more Paleo-style eating, I drink it black. I used to HATE black coffee, until I realized that Dunkin Donuts coffee is woefully average. You don't realize this until you stop pouring cream and sugar all over it. Bottom line is that a cup of coffee now is $3.25 for a large cup at my local NYC Dunkin Donuts. Instead I started making my own coffee, with my french press, and even buying "cheap" Costa Rica or Puerto Rico coffee at $7 for a 1/2 pound. It's fantastic. I bring it to work in a 16 ounce Thermos. I can make about 15 thermoses of coffee, or 3 business weeks. If I bought Dunkin everyday - that's $45 bucks. My way? $7, plus whatever electric costs i'm paying to boil water.

This isn't some new concept. The idea that you can save money buying in bulk isn't something novel. But here's my "million dollar idea" that does with what I wrote.

Now there are other apps out there that allow you to scan barcodes & find the lowest price on the web. But think of it more like how FourSquare works. Lets say you go to a local deli, and know that cans of Coke are $.75 cents. You enter that into the FourSquare app. It uploads it. Everyone using FourSquare if they look for Coke, know that XYZ deli sells Coke at $.75 each. Now taking it further, imagine all the bodegas in town were linked that way, by manual entries by the users. Aside from the obvious ways it could be manipulated, you could have a map of where you can buy food or drinks.

Now I know some of you aren't going to walk 7 blocks to save $1. But, lets say next door to that Italian Deli uptown I knew there was a bodega which sold the same exact Boylan soda for $1.25. I think most people would do exactly the same thing as me. You could do the same for beer. Lets say you wanted to know the cheapest place in town to buy a 6-pack. Or maybe a bottle of Grey Goose. Most places I know (aside from specials) pretty much keep the same price of their liquor or beer.

A good example was Hoboken Vine versus [left blank on purpose]. I would go to LBOP to pick up a 6 pack of Corona. Cost? $12. Then one day i'm in Hoboken Vine, which is 2 blocks away from my house and Corona six pack was $9. Why would I ever go to LBOP again? Even other things at Hoboken Vine were cheaper, like Grey Goose or Ketel One.

At the end of the day, you just start to notice this. There has to be a way that social media needs to combine with SAP-style inventory. An easy way for consumers or business owners to scan inventory and let the world know. Stopping popular businesses to gouge the consumers because they either don't know (or don't care) about it. There has to be a better way.

JWOWW & Snooki's New Jersey City Home

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Not confirmed, but rumor has it they are moving into Grove & Mercer in Jersey City. Here's is a picture from Google Street View of "The Fortress of STDs":


View Larger Map

Looks like they are right behind City Hall and only a few blocks from Zeppelin Hall Beer Garden. NJ.com has photos of the place from 2008 here.

Here's What's Wrong With America: Selfish!

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After being on this planet for many a moon, I have finally figured out what's wrong with our society. It has taken me a long time, and it really isn't one single factor, but basically it does boil down to one key point:

We, as a society, are selfish.

That's it. That's the answer. Each and every one of us, are basically selfish. Being selfish morphs into many forms and examples. One of the forms that being selfish takes is lack of consideration. Here's some examples of lack of consideration:

1. How many times have you held open a door for someone? Or said "Thank You". Or said "God Bless You" when they sneeze. Then get stone cold silence from the person you were considerate towards?

2. Stand by the PATH train exit and watch how many people blatantly disregard the walk signal and walk directly into traffic. I'm not talking about your basic jaywalking (which I do, too), when the signal is red and there are no cars. I'm talking about pedestrians who walk directly into traffic and expect cars to stop for them. Then glare at the cars for nearly hitting THEM!

3. Umbrellas. Walk down the street on a rainy day. How many assholes have the golf umbrellas which can fit about 4 people under it. They walk on the sidewalk, without a care in the world, and hit people with the edges of their umbrella - and glare at the people they hit like it is THEIR fault.

4. Double parked cars, cars parked on sidewalks, cars parked in yellow zones or on corners. Even Google Maps shows cars double parked outside of Piccolo's.

You ask anyone why they do it - and it's always "someone else's fault".

If someone runs a red light, it wasn't their fault, it was because everyone else is driving too slow.

If someone double parks, it wasn't their fault -- there's no parking in town!

If someone gets a parking ticket it wasn't their fault -- it's City Hall's fault for the signs not being easily understood, even though they have been in place for 10 years.

Selfish. That's the problem. Lots of my friends have gotten married or are getting married, a great example of selfishness are seen how people adhere or disregard the traditions of marriage, depending on how it helps them.

For example, who pays for marriage?

Traditionally it was the bride's family who paid for that. How often do you see the brides splitting that cost?

Who pays for the wedding ring?

Traditionally that would be the groom. How often do you see the brides splitting that cost?

Who takes on the last name of the groom?

Traditionally brides take the grooms last name. It's symbolic. Selfless. Showing that the bride is joining the groom's family.

Now what do you see today when people get married? Brides want the groom's family to split the wedding costs & they want to keep their last names - but the groom still pays $10,000+ for a wedding ring, a tradition they like to keep in place.

Lets look at American politics.

Taxes are a big issue right now. No one wants to pay taxes. But everyone wants healthcare. Everyone wants jobs. Everyone wants social security. Everyone wants the other guy to pay for it.

Perfect example is healthcare. You have people out there who are actors or artists, and they complain that they aren't getting healthcare. But they aren't paying their fair share into taxes. They say that they "deserve healthcare - Canada or Europe does it!!"

Have you looked at Greece or Italy lately? They are beyond broke. The rest of the EU is getting dragged down because of the selfishness of their people.

Is it being selfish to ask for healthcare? No.

But it is selfish to ask for healthcare and not pay into it. I personally think every TAXPAYER should get healthcare. Isn't that fair? You pay taxes, you get something in return.

You defend our country in the Armed Forces - you get healthcare for life.

You are a senior citizen who paid taxes their whole life - you get healthcare until you die.

You are an illegal immigrant who is getting paid in cash illegally? YOU DON'T GET HEALTHCARE.

You are a "staving artist" living in SoHo who thinks they are too good to get a menial job? YOU DON'T GET HEALTHCARE.

They are the selfish ones. Taking something without giving back. To me, healthcare should be universal for everyone who is paying (or had paid) into the system. Citizens of America, with the only exemption for those in religious services.

How is this different than, say a generation ago?

Families were brought up more concerned about their neighbors than themselves. Ask not what your country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your country. Parents taught their kids right and wrong. There was 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. Not "achievement ribbons" for every child. Every kid isn't going to be an astronaut or a lawyer or Michael Jordan. You can't coddle kids, tell them that they are all special, and that they can never do wrong. What you get is exactly what's wrong today: a generation of kids who are entitled brats.

A generation ago words like "Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, Sir/Ma'am" were taught to children by their parents, not something kids said while rolling their eyes. How many times are you on a crowded subway and someone blasts through the door snarling: "EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!" because YOU are in THEIR way.

Remember a key term: It's always the other person's fault.

You can't find a job? It's someone else's fault.

You can't pay your loans? It's the credit card companies fault for making it too easy to apply.

You can't pay your mortgage? It's the governments fault you put 0% down and paid for a home you couldn't afford on your $60,000 salary.

You can't pay your student loans? It's Bush's fault for destroying the economy so I couldn't graduate with a BA in Rhetoric and make $250,000 a year starting salary at a dot com.

It's always someone else's fault. No one is allowed to take ownership of their actions. Ever. This goes back to the entitlement. Me first. I'm special. It's not about you, its only about me. Me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Marty O'Brien's: First Impression

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The other day I had the day off from work and decided to try Marty O'Brien's - over on 1st and Bloomfield. Same owners as the old restaurant, Buskers, but they did a fresh new paint job, and renovations to make it fresh, along with new menu items and attitude.

When lunch rolled around, I had lots of choices and figured i'd try out Marty O'Briens. Over the last two weeks I have been out walking Rocco and seen lots of crowds at the bar for dinner service. I have looked over the menu and it seems like a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

Now, I have written it once and I will write it a thousand times but here's my issues with blogs who write their so-called reviews of new restaurants:

1. Every restaurants will put on their "good face" for the first three months. The owners usually are on hand daily and are watching to make sure everything is going well. You can really tell how good a restaurant is after a few months if people are coming back again and again.

2. People write "one and done" reviews. I personally think a restaurant should be attended at least three times before someone writes an official review. I write "first impressions" just for fun, but when I sit down to write something concrete I do my homework on the place.

3. The worst culprits are so-called-reviewers who are also paid by the establishment for advertising. I know a few people in Hoboken who blatantly write glowing reviews of their clients restaurants and they have no shame. It's sad. There should be people who have some kind of integrity when writing reviews to state that they have been compensated with a free meal.

Anyhow, i'm sure aside from my three rules you wonder - what did I think?

Lets talk first about what I liked. I love what they have done to the old Buskers. I like their waiters uniforms which are black shirt with black tie. Very "mob" like Italian sharp look. They have a standard beer menu, with a few specials. They have a decent wine-by-the-glass list, which is nearly unheard of at downtown restaurants aside from Brass Rail. Lots of outdoor seating, and very "dog-friendly" attitude by the restaurant to bring your pooch out to eat, outside too. The bartender Chris who served me was very cool, and had a great personality - which I think is more critical than people know for a success of a restaurant or bar. People come BACK to see bartenders that they like. Chris heard it was my first time there, and my first beer was on the house.

I ordered Buffalo chicken wings & the "Philly" cheesesteak.

The wings were good. Not great. Good. I'd order them again. They had a decent buffalo sauce, with just a light bit of spice and not like someone slathered on Frank's Hot Sauce and called them buffalo wings.

The Philly cheesesteak was below average. The roll was fantastic. Great roll. Big pluses there. But the steak had some kind of brown gravy with it...and the cheese looked like two slices of deli-style yellow American cheese slapped on top. To the owners of M.O.B.:

I am available as a consultant to fix your cheesesteak dilemma. Please email me at philly2hoboken@yahoo.com - it's really not THAT hard to make a good steak, especially that your rolls are so damned good. You don't need "whiz", just get provolone cheese instead of whatever you were using and give the steak more than just two slices. The meat itself was actually fine, but the brown gravy-like substance threw me off. I mean if you didn't call it a Philly cheesesteak, and called it Marty's Steak Sandwich, and told me that i'd get some kind of gravy in there I wouldn't have ordered it. I was secretly hoping that someone in Hoboken finally learned how to make a good steak, like Carl's makes in the city.

But one bad steak won't stop me from going back and trying again. I mean, it was their new "lunch" menu, so i'd like to try dinner one night. The cost of the lunch wasn't terrible, especially that I was comp'd a beer - it was $21 with a $6 tip - $27 total. I'll be back to try some more of the food, especially that I love wine and always look for a place on Sunday nights to replace my lost long love, Court Street - it's just too far to walk 11 blocks now, and I tried a few dinners at Clam Broth House, but CBH is just too expensive for the kind of food they are serving. I'd rather save my $60 and eat somewhere in the city like Raoul's!

I'd say that Marty O'Brien's is off to a good start, but I remember when Buskers was hot out of the gate, and fizzled. I guess I better go out there and try it a few more times before passing judgement.

My friend Dave is running Trivia AD, so here's another shameless plug. I will definitely be there, and might have to see if I can bring Rocco as my "caddy".

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Choc:o:pain Coming Soon

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I was walking Rocco on Sunday, and look what I saw at the old Premier Soccer shop on 1st street:

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They also have a webpage up here: Choc:o:pain.

I'm looking forward to it, 1st street can use some more places like this.

Seinfeld Trivia @ The Hudson Tavern

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A friend of mine runs Trivia AD, and turns out that they are running Seinfeld Trivia at The Hudson Tavern on August 23rd at 8pm - RESERVATIONS REQUIRED! Details here:

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The Jersey Shore Trivia @ Mulligan's

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A friend of mine runs Trivia AD, and turns out that they are running The Jersey Shore Trivia at Mulligan's Bar (159 1st street) on August 15th from 8-10pm. Details here:

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Bad Sean, BAD.

Not updating the blog enough. Truth be told, I once said how Facebook would kill blogging, and in a way it's true. So much easier to quickly update my Facebook page with thoughts, blurbs and quick links.

But, I still like this old fashioned thing, so why not give you some of the updates I have written on Facebook.

So.

Well.

Um.

OK, how about how about Hertz Connect, now known as Hertz on Demand. I tried it the other day, and it was fantastically easy. I had registered earlier in the year, so already had my membership card. There's two cars right on the corner outside my condo on Newark and Clinton. Oh, quick segue...

There's a lot of people on city council who ramble incessantly about corner cars and how they take up parking spots. That's ridiculous. I was someone who parked in a garage. I paid $185 a month for that garage spot. I sold my car. So there was one free garage spot now and one less car that could be parked on the street. 400+ others like me have been doing this because of the availability of Zip car and Hertz on Demand. More people would be willing to do this if they knew better.

Deeper SEGUE...

I was on the beach last weekend (more on that later), and talking to a friend, Kara. I told her about Hertz on Demand...and she never knew the details. Didn't know the details? After all the blogging and news about Hertz on Demand and Zip Car. Yep. Didn't know that Hoboken residents who register for Corner Cars with the "HOBOKEN" keyword will receive two years of free annual membership and a $75 credit to their account. A one-time $25 registration fee is required. Just go to this site to register: http://hobokennj.org/cornercars/.

OK, back to the story, it was EASY. Register, swipe the card and if you didn't know here's a secret for you which I dread letting people know about...

Fridays Hertz on Demand has $5 per hour cars. Yep. Just go to their Facebook page and check it out. They call it "Cars of the Week", and they change it each week. Last week I rented a VW Jetta for 3 hours and it cost me $21 ($5 per hour for 3 hours and NJ has a goofy $5 tax on car rentals which affect Corner Cars. Incidentally, our own Ruben Ramos has entered legislation to make these programs exempt from it.)

I dread telling people that only because now more people will know and I will have to fight for my great car deal on Fridays!!!

I took the car out, it was a pleasure to drive. Went to the driving range in Edgewater. I'm not kidding when I said that there were 30 Asian people there and me.

Then, afterwards, I went to Trader Joe's which is about 100 yards away from the driving range, and picked up two of my favorite things from there: Trader Joe's Chicken BBQ pizza and Trader Joe's Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches. Bad for diet, but sooo good.

OK, so that's my update today. I promise to write more. More tomorrow about what I have been up to...

Texas Arizona Version 2.0

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Living here for as long as I have, I basically have formed opinions on all the restaurants and know what I like and what I don't like. Often, I like trying new places that open up and more often than not - they get one chance with me to prove they are better than the rest.

Texas Arizona is a good example of this. It's been open for years and years, and I have probably drank there about fifteen times in my 17 years here. I ate there about two. I always found the food to be very average, and nothing to write home about. It was basic bar food, greasy and "meh".

Last Saturday I found myself walking around the area, because I just got a fantastic 90 minute massage at Body Balance 1 block away. I read something about their recent changes. Texas Arizona redesigned the bar a bit, adding a new "Craft Beer Bar" with taps to a section where there used to just be table seating. It was very impressive. 051611.jpgThey must have 250 new beers on tap or in bottle.

Remind you of anyone? Oh, that's right: Village Pourhouse. Not only did I predict that Village Pourhouse was going to raise the bar, but it appears that I have been vindicated. Texas Arizona gets it. The standard Hoboken bar with the Guinness, Coors Light, Yuengling, Sam Adams, Blue Moon and Stella isn't going to cut it anymore. As a bartender I pleaded with my bar owners to find a niche, to get more off the beaten path beers or put up a "Beer Of The Month" where a new beer is rotated into and out of circulation. There's only so much space a bar has to store beer in kegs or coolers - I get this. But clearly the discerning palate will opt to go to places like Texas Arizona or Village Pourhouse.

And it's not just about beer.

See, having a nice beer list will only get you so far. I decided, reluctantly, to order lunch at Texas Arizona. Now I say "reluctantly" because I have ate here in the past and remembered the food basically sucking. But I figured that they couldn't screw up a grilled chicken BLT too much while I sampled a few IPA's from their list (tried Flying Dog Raging Bitch IPA & Nectar IPA, both were very tasty).

I was served my food in about five minutes. It was Saturday, and there were about 25 people in the bar, but I was a bit shocked at how fast I was served.

To my surprise, the sandwich was quite good. Chicken is chicken. It's hard to screw up grilled chicken. What makes a sandwich, to me, is the roll and what's inside. The roll was soft and flavorful. The lettuce and tomato clearly were fresh, they weren't sitting in a fridge and limply added to the roll. The bacon, crisp, as I love it. The kicker was the chipotle mayo. Really made the sandwich complete. Even as I write this now I want to eat another one.

The bartender, Greg, was there patiently explaining to me the beers that were on tap. He was a bit reserved at first, but I kept pestering him with questions and being the only person at his bar, he started to warm up a bit by the end. He told me that they replaced their chef a few months back, and nodded in agreement that the food, at one time, wasn't very good at the bar (he worked there for six years). Greg also noted that the bar made other internal staffing changes and is very much actively trying to improve themselves.

One lunch won't make me a convert, but it's certainly a good start for a bar that I once written off my list of places to eat. My only concern about Texas is that the menu is a bit...basic. They have the standard burgers, wings, quesadillas, sandwiches, etc...

I told the bartender, Greg, that they found a niche with the beer, they need to find a niche with their menu. If they are "Texas Arizona" shouldn't they do Tex-Mex or BBQ? Name one good BBQ place in all of Hoboken (Joey's BBQ is closing)? You can't. Something to think about if they want to distinguish their bar food over the rest of the bars here in town.

Bottom line is that if you have tried Texas Arizona in the past, you may want to try "Texas Arizona Version 2.0" - it's not the old tired bar it used to be. Looks like not only do they have one of the best locations in town to watch "The Parade", but now they have some of the best beer and food, too.

Thanks Everyone!

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Great job getting back the council majority. It could have been sweeter to sweep out Mason or Castellano. Seems like every election we learn the lesson of the importance of rallying the vote. We have people who post on their Facebook walls "Remember 9/11" or "Remember our fallen soliders" - but those same people don't vote? What do you think our soldiers are dying for - freedom. Freedom to vote. If you didn't vote in the council elections (and could have) I think that's a terrible shame.

If I were in charge i'd do the following four things:

1. Motor Voter registration. You register a drivers license, and are registered to vote.
2. Automatic vote by mail. Everyone who is registered gets the ballot mailed to them.
3. Explore the possibility of changing our voting day to a weekend. In other countries, like France, voting is held on the weekend, when most voters are away from work.
4. Vote over internet. Countries like the UK, France and Switzerland use internet voting.

Politicians are notoriously against changes like this. Why? They claim its about security, but really bank on low voter turnout.

I think the most 'realistic' change for Hoboken is one of two methods:

1. Move the election to the November elections.
2. If we want to keep it separate, move it to the second Saturday in May.

What would you do to increase voter turnout?

Little Did I Know

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Living in Hoboken for 17 years, I often have heard from my friend Billy, "Hoboken politics is like free theater."

It's 100% true.

For a long time I didn't care. I remember when I first voted, I voted for Mayor Russo. I didn't know much about him, but there was a rumor that was floating around that his opponent, then Carol Marsh, wanted to shut down the bars an hour early - at 1am on weeknights and 2am on weekends.

What a horrible thought! We can't have that! At 20-something I registered and happily voted "Russo" to keep the bars open. Little did I know.

In the next election, only a few years later, I voted Roberts. I voted for him because he was going to move things forward and keep taxes down. Unfortunately, I didn't know it involved gimmicks like selling the municipal lots and applying that to our tax bill. Again, little did I know.

The more I started to listen, and read, the more I learned. I started reading a local community blog that was one sided in its commentary. I believed it. I bought into it. Sadly, they probably think they are being honest, when in reality they are just telling half of the story in order to sway opinion. They leave out facts. They don't report ALL the news, just the news they want you to hear. It would be like someone watching only Glenn Beck on FOXNews, and not listening to other news sources. Half-truths, and one sides of the story. Little did I know.

Then I started to read other blogs that started to tell the WHOLE STORY (Mile Square View and Hoboken Patch). That's when my eyes really opened. That's when I realized I was simply being deceived. That's when I knew that there were many Hoboken politicians and their handlers who were like the wolves in sheep's clothing.

Folks, I can't stress enough how this election is really about good versus evil. Voter apathy is rampant in Hoboken elections - and sometimes the bad guys win. Most people don't see the difference of one vote. These local elections are decided by around 100 votes. If you are registered, I would ask you to please take 5 minutes of your life and vote tomorrow. FIND YOUR POLLING PLACE HERE.

Vote for the reform of Hoboken. Sweep out the people who want to send Hoboken back to the old days of back room deals and shady politics.

Please vote for the future of our City by voting for:

Eric Kurta - 1st Ward
Tom Greaney - 2nd Ward
Greg Lincoln - 3rd Ward
Rami Pinchevsky - 4th Ward
Peter Cunningham - 5th Ward
Jen Giattino - 6th Ward

Every vote counts. Polls are open from 6am until 8pm.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

I was briefly out for the Festival and snapped some pictures of The Baseball Project playing & Ian Hunter, too. I have to say that over the years this festival just gets better and better. Its probably one of the best reasons to live in Hoboken.

I would just like to let a lot of you know about some of the insanity that's going on in Hoboken.

Many of you may have been like me when you first moved up here, not really giving a shit about local politics.

There's a bunch of people in town who were born and bred Hoboken, called "The Old Guard". They hate us (but sure like our rent money!). They hate the new people who moved here, and would do anything to put things back to the way it "used to be". They are the people who are the most corrupt bastards you ever met, who want to keep the public in the dark and steal as much money as they can through corruption and bribes from developers.

The champion of The Old Guard is Mike Russo. Take five minutes of your life and check out this link which details a conversation between him and an undercover FBI informant:

http://grafixavenger.blogspot.com/2011/04/this-is-game-were-in.html

Basically Mike verbally accepts a bribe (in the form of very large donations) from the informant. This is the same informant who caught Peter Cammarano, our former mayor.

The only difference is that Mike backed out in accepting the bribe at a later date. Otherwise Mike Russo would be in jail right now.

Look, I get it. Why vote? Some of you don't plan to live in Hoboken for a long time or even if you have been here you think that one vote can't make a difference.

Some of the 2007 ward elections were decided by around 100 votes. The Old Guard wants it to stay that way. The DO NOT want the "yuppie scum" (as they lovingly call us) to register to vote. For this next election you have until April 19th to register, it takes two minutes to print this out, fold it and drop in a mailbox:
http://www.njelections.org/form_pdf/09-voter-regis-forms/hudson-voter-reg-form-013111-rev..pdf

Even if you don't have a HOBOKEN drivers license, you can still vote for the local elections. If you lived in Hoboken 30 days before the election you are fine. People have said to me before "But my license is still registered at my parents house..."

You can vote. You simply fill out the registration with where your rent in Hoboken & the license of your old home. No license, no problem, just enter your social security number. Read the form, even HOMELESS people can register to vote, LOL!

Hoboken Revolt is organzing a rally tomorrow, Wednesday, outside City Hall at 6pm. There is strength in numbers, and even if you can take 30 minutes to stand with me and stand up to corruption, I implore you to join me and others outside City Hall.

But seriously, I can't stand the bullshit that's going on in this town, I need YOUR help. I don't say that very often, but I need my friends to come to City Hall tomorrow and stand with the rest of the people who are sick and tired of people like Mike Russo who think it's OK to lie to the public. Sick and tired of his fellow council people and friends who stay mute when you can clearly see him getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar by an FBI informant.

We rallied to get Cammarano to step down and he did. Time to show the city council that we are sick and tired of people like Mike Russo.

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Some other things we need to do in Hoboken:

1. Close all bars by 11pm. Why do we need them open so late? There's no reason for that. Maybe we can have an exception until 12am on Saturdays.

2. Stop the sale of alcohol on Sundays. The Blue Laws work!

3. End the Arts and Music Festival. It's just another excuse for people to get drunk.

4. End New Years Eve parties at 12:01am, so parents and children - THINK OF THE CHILDREN - should not be kept awake by the revelers.

5. Hoboken bars should ID all patrons and make sure only Hoboken residents drink at Hoboken bars on holidays. Anyone from out of town should get a permit to drink here.

6. City Hall should make vouchers for scared residents, most who hide out in their homes for two days, afraid to venture into our town, to stay in hotels in Weehawken.

7. The quality of life for the residents of Hoboken should come first! A few other things that need to be banned:
a. Dogs. They defecate on the sidewalks and scare children - THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
b. Music. In fact, any music should not be allowed to play from 7pm to 9am.
c. Bikes on sidewalks: Children have been terrorized by this for long enough.
d. Public Displays of Affection (PDA). Anything more than hand holding is pornographic.

8. Hoboken has long traditions, and these all need to end because more parents and children are living here now. We don't need outsiders coming in here with backpacks and suitcases on a Friday and holding our town hostage until Sunday! We need to review all the Hoboken Festivals and change the hours to make them more family friendly.

Yeah, you guessed it - satire! I lived here for 16 years. I'm half Irish. I don't sit there and cry about this parade. It was a booze fest in 1995. People were urinating on the streets and falling over themselves then, too. So, if you chose to buy here, you kind of knew what you were getting into, right?

People don't move into New Orleans and cry about Mardi Gras, do they? You don't have new residents of the Big Easy saying "Hey, we need Mardi Gras to be more CHILDREN FRIENDLY..."

It's the one time of the year that Hoboken has a big party. I was out this weekend from noon until 8pm and didn't see one issue while walking down the street. I read the police report, and have one simple statement:

Find me any parade or festival where there aren't alcohol-fueled incidents.

This isn't to marginalize what happened on the parade day. But when you have a city-wide festival, there's going to be problems. In New Orleans in 2009 there was a shooting on the parade route. Was the 2010 Mardi Gras parade cancelled? Did they change the times of the parade? Were there sub-committees formed and hang wringing from politicians?

Part of the responsibility should fall on residents. The building I live in is a 100 unit condo building. 10 days before the festival each resident was clearly warned about having obnoxious house parties, and that the police would be called for anyone breaking our rules. I also noticed that one multi-story condo building hired four private security guards to stand watch outside their steps on 9th and Adams.

If I were in charge here would be the serious changes that I would implement, and I think would keep the party fun and allow for a more family friendly atmosphere:

1. The parade starts at 11am. As a compromise, I wouldn't sell alcohol at bars until the parade was over at noon. This won't stop house parties or people from getting drunk, but at least the kids & parents who want to come out to watch the parade don't have to deal with someone who is falling down drunk at 11am because they started drinking at a local bar by 9am.

2. Every bar take a page from The Farside and start a countdown clock of three hours. Close the bar for 30 minutes. Clear everyone out. Allow the bar to reset and then let people back inside. This would limit the patrons who stay in one bar all day and get far too intoxicated.

3. I think each bar with a liquor license should pay a special tax on St. Patrick's Day. The money should go towards cleaning up after the parade and all the overtime that is worked by our police and fire fighters. I worked in a bar for 8 years. I know exactly how much money these bars make on parade day. Asking each bar to pay $5 per person occupancy limit (translation, a bar which has a capacity of 200 people pays $1,000). The bar will easily make that money back in about 1/2 hour.

I don't agree with killing the parade by moving it to a weekday. That's nonsense. If you moved into Hoboken, you knew about the parade. It's like moving into an apartment above a bar and then complaining about the noise every weekend. It's like moving next to a firehouse or an Emergency Room and complaining about the sirens. You knew this.

People complaining about public urination on the parade day should try to walk around Newark Street at 1am to 3am on a Friday or Saturday. My dog Rocco and I take late night walks and I catch people all the time going to the bathroom behind cars or on our building at least once a month. I see broken bottles every weekend. I watched a guy walk up 1st street a few weeks ago with a bottle of beer, and he was sly about it - but once he was done he stuck the empty beer into a snowbank and kept walking. This happens all over town, just is magnified by the parade.

Lastly, I find it is always the same people who complain. These are people who forget what it was like to be young and free. People who are concerned about mortgage payments, taxes and open space and not about America being the land of the free. Every once in a while we need to let our hair down and celebrate. No one is proposing that every weekend we have a St. Patrick's Day parade. It's once a year. For those who love statistics - it's only .002740% of the year!

Crossfit First Impression

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Back in the day, I would spend every summer in Ocean City, NJ.

I was very lucky to have great parents who could afford a summer rental at the shore. Each summer, I would play at the basketball courts at 34th street, in pick up games. I wasn't some super star talent, but the games were fun, and I remember at the start of each summer how my lungs would burn after just one game, and i'd be gasping from running up and down the court. I'd get home and have blisters on my big toe, and my legs would be sore from the game.

Weeks would pass and my legs would get stronger, my endurance would grow, I could run multiple games in a row without a major problem. By the end of the summer, I was definitely in real good shape for basketball, and fall would come, i'd be back at school...and it would repeat the next summer.

When I went to Villanova I enrolled in NROTC. Both my brother in laws were Naval Academy graduates, and this motivated me to join the military. My first six weeks of college weren't about partying every night, but getting to bed early to be at PT by 5:45am - Monday through Friday. It was brutal stuff. Pushups, situps, jumping jacks, and pullups. Running until you are about to drop and finding that last burst of energy.

Why do I mention this now, when i'm supposed to be writing about Crossfit Hoboken?

Well, I was thinking of both of these things when I was gasping for air last Saturday. When the instructor towered over me saying "Lift up the medicine ball...higher. Higher. HIGHER!" When an extremely cute brunette girl was watching me do situps and motivating me with "Come on! Push! Do 1 more...1 more..." When I was done, and feeling like a weakling and would have a complete stranger pat me on the back and say "Good job, man".

At one point of time I wondered what the hell I was thinking by doing this. It was almost too difficult for me, I hadn't worked out in months - and even back at my days at Club H, most of my "lifting" was at a pretty easy pace. I would lift, rest two minutes, lift, rest two minutes...and just work out building up muscle but not a ton of endurance.

Crossfit is definitely different. It's hard, but good. What the trainers did with our group of about 30 people was divide us into six teams of five people. Then we had teams pair off until we had three groups (two teams to a group). We then had a competition where we had to do the following:

Row for 250 meters - Teammate #1
Box jump - Teammate #2
Shoulder Press - Teammate #3
Sit up Press - Teammate #4
Rest - Teammate #5

We had 8 minutes. The goal was to get the most number of reps in 8 minutes on whatever station you were on, and would ROTATE to the next station when the rower reached 250 meters. So the rower would go to the box jump, the box jump would go to the shoulder press, the sit up would rest and the guy resting would row for 250 meters. Rotate. Repeat. Rotate. Repeat. After 8 minutes, the second team would start and we would rest, counting their score up and tallying what they did.

Then when they were done - we did it again.

Lets just say for someone like me, it was a quick slap in the face for how out of shape I really was. Plus, you had people watching me barely able to do 10 situps (especially in the case of the cute brunette, only added to the humiliation) - but there was a key difference.

In many ways it reminds me of those days playing basketball at Ocean City and NROTC at Villanova. I can't sit here and tell you I was enjoying myself necessarily at the workout - I was really looking forward to it being over. But what did make it a bit more enjoyable was the camaraderie by the trainers and the other participants.

Working out at Club H over the years one of my biggest complaints were about the staff and the people who went there. Everyone had an attitude at Club H. My friends and I would laugh about it, but it's true - the trainers walk around like they own the place and wouldn't say a word to you unless you were in their way. Never a friendly smile. Always the "I'm the quarterback" smug look on their faces. Same was true with nearly everyone who worked out there. Nasty people, with a nasty attitude. I always, always, always asked permission and said "Please" and "Thank you" and never heard that in return except from the people working the front desk or the juice bar.

I think Crossfit brings to the table something different, fundamentally different, not only in the way they train people, but also about motivating people. This isn't the Marine Staff Sergeant yelling "YOU ARE A WORM! YOU ARE WEAK! YOU ARE WORTHLESS!" - but more of a team oriented group that definitely made a good impression on my first visit.

Much like everything else I write about on here, I think it would be disingenuous for me to write up a glowing review on one visit. But as first impressions go - score one for Crossfit Hoboken.

I plan to sign up for the fundamentals class. You can't just join Crossfit and go right into the classes, you first have to learn their calisthenics, and build up the energy and muscle over 8 classes, which are spread over a month long course. I'll take that course and write more on that later. But if you are interested in this, I would suggest trying out the free beginners class every Saturday at 10am. Crossfit Hoboken is located at 38 Jackson Street, you can't miss the entrance it has a nice blue banner over the doorway and it's located on the 2nd floor.

I wrote a few years ago a list of things people should get for a rainy day. With all the recent snowstorms and cold weather, I thought of the things I enjoyed wearing on a cold, snowy day which have made a big difference in my walk to work. Enjoy!

1. Boots, real boots. Far to often I see people walking in the slush and snow in sneakers. You got to be kidding me. Man up and buy actual boots. What I did was buy hiking boots, from Asolo. I'd get the Moran GTX. They are made in Romania. You think they know snow? You bet they do. These are like winter tires for your feet. I plow past the other slowpokes on the sidewalks who are walking in the tamped down snow. Plus, if you get hiking boots you can use them - to go hiking or camping, so you can get year round use out of them. I'm going hiking/camping in a few weeks.

2. One wool sweater. I have one wool sweater I bought from J. Crew about 6 years ago. It's thick, but not too heavy. Fits me really well and doesn't itch one bit. I put this sweater on, and I can be outside all day long in cold weather. Wool is where it's at. It was good enough for our copper-age brothers, and still perfect even today. This sweater I have is so warm that I have literally had to unbutton my coat sometimes because I would get so hot, but wool breathes so well - that I don't sweat, unlike cotton.

3. Fingerless gloves. My one friend laughed called them "Hobo gloves", but they are simply awesome. One would think "Why buy it - my fingertips will be cold!" That's not true. I don't know why, 20110121.jpgbut I guess the fact that 90% of your hands are covered just doesn't make my fingertips cold at all. Plus, having my fingertips exposed, I can easily use my iPhone, whereas with gloves, i'd have to take my gloves off and then put them back on. Also with gloves you lose your sense of touch, so when I reach into my pocket and pull out my keys, wallet or metrocard - its a trillion times easier. Definitely my #1 purchase I made this winter, and I bought it on gap.com. I got the green colored ones and not the red ones - to match my next topic...

4. Flip Your Lid - get a winter hat! I remember for years and years I would go to work in winter all bundled up, with my sweater, coat, scarf, gloves - and i'd never wear a hat because "I didn't want to mess up my hair". As I got older, and more annoyed by the cold - I have completely changed my view here. Hair be damned! Plus, my "style" is messed up hair anyhow, so the hat actually helps. Personally, I recommend you buy your favorite football, hockey or baseball team hat and wear it with pride. I sport a Philadelphia Eagles winter hat or a Philadelphia Flyers winter hat (I haven't found one besides the basic black that I like yet).

5. Winter is the best time for port wine... I have long written about how much I love port wine, and it really is a cold weather kind of love I have for it. If you haven't had port wine, I can honestly say you are missing out and I feel sorry for people like you. But then again, just means more port wine for me. The other day I was at Hoboken Vine. Really an underrated store that more people in Hoboken should know about. I was going to pick up my Taylor Fladgate port, when I saw they had another 10 year old tawny rated at 92 by Wine Spectator, I think it was Cockburn's, but I have to double check. Suffice to say, I loved it. Hoboken Vine has all sorts of helpful people working there, and worth checking out their other wines, too.

PATH Train Teddy

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Many years ago, a local blog wrote about PATH Train Teddy. Here's Teddy in action.

I'm all for giving to charity.

This year I gave to Charity: water and to the Red Cross.

But in case you encounter Teddy, here's what you need to know.

1. There's no such organization as the Bergen Lafayette Coalition To Feed The Homeless. I called various shelters and they never heard of it, but some have heard of Teddy.
2. I called the PATH Police (201-216-6078) about Teddy. The officer I spoke to knows Teddy, he's always on the PATH - and said to call them or use the public phones if he's panhandling.
3. Giving money to homeless exacerbates the problem. If you want to give money, there are PLENTY of local shelters I need this holiday season. I recommend:

http://www.bowery.org/
http://www.nycares.org/
http://www.thehopeprogram.org/
http://www.doe.org/
http://www.hobokenshelter.org/

A few people have commented things like:

Q: Why is it important to throw a homeless guy in jail???
A: It's not what i'm asking for here. You may think that Teddy just wants a cup of coffee or some food - there are legitimate homeless shelters all over the tri state area ready to feed and house the homeless. More often than not homeless ask for money because of alcohol or drug related issues. You aren't helping them by feeding that addiction.

Q: Come on I feel guilty! What does it hurt to give .25 cents to a guy?
A: Wouldn't you feel 10x better and give to the Hoboken Shelter instead?

Q: Put yourself in his shoes! Imagine BEGGING for money.
A: I can imagine it, but I have seen him begging for money for 16 years, since 1994. He used to be a middle aged guy and wore a Medicaid card around his neck to look legitimate. I used to give him money, too. Once I did a bit of research I found out that the organization didn't exist and he was lying to people. Look, if he was homeless and just said so, I wouldn't have as big of a problem as someone who claims to be collecting for a shelter. Once I called the shelters they told me that no one collects money on a train like that, and even THEY said not to give him money. It was an eye opener.

So this holiday season, give to actual organizations and not PATH train Teddy.

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.

Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

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.

Another Night, Another Near Brawl...

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I'm at Farside the other night, having a beer with friends.

It was kind of quiet at the bar, with patrons drinking at the bar and a few playing darts. I went to the dart board to sign up for a game and saw a guy at the bar wearing a "Hatboro-Horsham Wrestling" T-shirt.

Hatboro-Horsham is a town in PA which is squarely between where I grew up, in Richboro, and where I spent my teen-age years, in Gwynedd Valley, only 20 minutes away from either town. Since I run the Eagles and Phillies club in town, I often befriend strangers from PA - talk up the Eagles or Phillies club and invite them down to the bar. I walk over, slap a hand on his back and he turns around.

Wearing a YANKEES cap.

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

Look, I get it. Maybe you grew up in Philly and we had suck ass Phillies teams for most of our years from 1984-1992, a brief blip on the radar in 1993, and then a whole lot of suckiness (?) from 1994 to 2005. I get it. My own brother called the Yankees "his American League team". Fuck you. You grow up in Philly, you gotta stand behind your teams!

Now my reaction, was of course dignified and profound when I said to the very large & beefy 22 year old, "YOU FUCKING TRAITOR!"* (*but, I did say it with a smile, and not threatening)

He looks at me like you would expect, with a who-the-heck-are-you-and-why-am-I-a-traitor? look at me, but he's smiling wondering what i'm going to say next.

Now, dear reader, you must realize that Uncle Sean has had a few drinks at this point and add my usual Red Bull to the mix and I was Mr. Motormouth.

"You are wearing a Yankees cap," I began with my mock-seriousness and Sherlock Holmes like intensity, "Yet you are wearing a Hatboro-Horsham T-shirt - which says you are clearly from PA. That doesn't make sense, you should be a PHILLIES fan!" I exclaimed.

"No, I grew up around Hudson County."

"But...the shirt. Where did you get it?", I asked.

"She gave it to me.", he gestured to the 22 year old blonde haired girl standing next to him.

"OK, so you grew up in Hudson County...but are wearing a Hatboro-Horsham shirt that your girlfriend gave you...and she wasn't a wrestler..."

You know what's coming next, don't you? Foot meet mouth.

"Was it her ex-boyfriends?"

BOOM.

He chuckles at first, and the girls eyes widen a bit. Then he goes "Wait a second. IS THIS YOUR EX-BOYFRIENDS SHIRT?!", he mock-growls at the blonde haired girl. She stammers a bit, and i'm edging away with a comic "CHECK PLEASE" to try and break slight bit of tension which erupted with my comment.

Now, truth be told, this guy isn't angry. He's laughing it off and "mock-angry" with her, while i'm laughing along. I'm telling him, "Ah, my bad dude I thought you were from my neck of the woods..."

When in comes friend #2.

Now we are bantering back and forth about the t-shirt and stuff when "Friend #2" jumps into our business. She's a short annoying looking rat of a girl who puts her finger in my face and says "WHO ARE YOU? WHY YOU CARE WHO'S SHIRT IT IS..."

Her tone and manner wasn't suggesting anything but anger and trying to stir shit up between me and the Hatboro-Horsham guy and Friend #2's boyfriend who was sitting at the bar, but only half paying attention. The difference between me and Friend #2 in our actions was that I was jovial and kidding - she wasn't. She got into my business quick and I could see this turning ugly if I didn't diffuse the situation fast.

"I run the Phillies and Eagles club in town, I thought he was from PA, so that's why I was talking to him....", I started.

The blonde haired girl turns to me and said, "Hey, you are the Mulligan's 'guy'. You do that? I have been there before!"

The tension level drops. The guy at the bar pulls away Friend #2, with a half-bored "Leave him alone..."

And the rest of our conversation between me and the T-shirt guy ends up talking about baseball and how the Phillies would smoke the Yankees in the World Series. Ha ha.

I went to the Wicked Wolf on Saturday night, a new bar that opened up on the corner of 2nd and Sinatra Drive.

What's there to say? It's new. Has lots of TVs and seating. A good beer selection. A big crowd was there.

It was the latest "Popular Bar Of The Moment" in Hoboken.

After living here 16 years, and missing my "You need to move out of Hoboken and raise a family" expiration date, I have seen bars like this rise and fall. Here's my quick primer, and please note that my order may not be 100% correct, i'm doing this from memory...also i'm just talking about bars that were HUGELY popular, not every bar in town...

O'Donohughes: This was the #1 bar back in the mid 90's. Raising Cain was the best band. Sure, the place smelled like old beer and looked like it was decorated by a local frat house. People didn't care, it's where all the hot girls were and there really wasn't many other good bars to go to besides Moran's or Stinky Sullivan's.

10th and Willow: During OD's reign, 10th and Willow became the cool place to go dance in 1998. Now most guys couldn't give a shit about dancing - but since all the girls would freak the fuck out and go to 10th and Willow, most of the guys would just go there. I remember this bar being beyond insane with the lines out the door, down the street and people dancing in every room. It was about as close to a "club" that Hoboken had back in the day.

Black Bear: OD's was supplanted by this new upstart, and their all-black clad bartending staff. With a great DJ, two floors and lots of open space, Black Bear set the bar to how the evolution of the bar scene was starting. Before Black Bear a local hole in the wall pub like Rogo's and their $1 draft night would get a line out the door for thirsty Stevens kids...but Black Bear said "fuck that" and just made a great bar which became the Go-to place in 1999. Technically The Whiskey Bar should get a good nod here, but I don't remember it being as popular as The Black Bear. Don't get me wrong The Whiskey Bar was insane, but I just remember more of my friends saying how they were going to Black Bear all the time.

The Madison: If you can imagine, this used to be a lonely boring sports bar on the corner of 14th street. There wasn't any of the new construction. The Tea Building was just renovated when The Madison opened up with a bang. Hoboken went from the days of where all the reigning bars were Irish Pubs to the "Everyone wears black and we have velvet ropes" phase. The Madison was the first bar in town to successfully gather all the local douchebags and the women who loved them into one place. This was (I think) around 2000.

Green Rock: Before Green Rock opened, this was a bunch of failed bars that couldn't do anything right, one even had the name of "The Screaming Viking" - which was a reference to the TV show Cheers. This bar opened in 2002 and even today is probably still one of the most popular bars in town, with lines outside the bar for the idiots who are too stupid to find another bar.

The Waterfront Bars: To name just one wouldn't be fair. It seemed that new bars were opening up at a frantic pace. Each one listed became the "Popular Bar Of The Moment" for about 6 months starting with 3 Forty Grill in 2003. Then Trinity. Then The Quays. Don't forget Lua, uptown! This was the first documented appearance of The Man Suit - the tried and true uniform of every Hoboken man!

The Shannon: A very old bar, that got smart and renovated. Before the renovation it was filled with locals and was about as popular as The Wilton House. After the renovation, they became the #1 stop for every frat boy and the women who love them.

It seems to me that Hoboken has a big history of those Popular Bars Of The Moment. I hereby announce that Wicked Wolf is our current champion. Enjoy it while it lasts, boys, because I bet that The Pour House and One Republic are waiting to take over.

Lucky's Famous Burgers - Hoboken

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Was just on the phone the other day with Michael Trenk, the managing partner for Lucky's Famous Hamburgers, which is opening a new store at 79 Hudson Street in Hoboken.082610.JPG

Michael currently owns two Lucky's, and is expanding his "Angus Empire" into Hoboken, with the creation of the third store. Signs have been up for months saying "Summer 2010", and I emailed him asking what the deal was. Turns out, he says that the store is only three weeks away from opening!

Talking to him he told me that he was planning to open a store in the area for years. First was at the old Kebab House (now The Taco Truck Store) and the other place was at Yeung II Chinese (now W. Kodak Jewelers). Both deals fell through, and he has been trying to find a suitable location since 2007.

The story behind Lucky's is that it was first created in 2002, and "the three New York City restaurateurs" bought Lucky's in 2005. After a few years, Michael is the owner and general partner of the restaurant - and note that this is NOT a franchise. He runs each store much like he runs his bar and restaurant, Prohibition, on the Upper West Side. Michael believes strongly in that the customer comes first. He told me that "if we have regulars who come in once a week, I want our store managers to know what their favorite items are on the menu. If my employees aren't kind to our customers, they won't be working at my store very long".

Michael worked as the general manager of The Capital Grille (42nd street), and before that managed at Nobu and The W Hotel in Manhattan. Originally from South Orange, Michael moved to New York 20 years ago. Turns out the NJ boy is coming back - he's moving to Hoboken in about eight months.

"Yeah, my wife wanted to move back to NJ, so this is our compromise. I still want to be close to Manhattan and Hoboken to me, just like another neighborhood of New York.", Michael told me, "But, I am having a hard time finding a place to live - I have two dogs, and many new apartments in town don't allow dogs - like the Tea Building."

With the hamburger becoming the new steak of the masses, Mr. Trenk is very aware of bringing a quality ingredient to the plate of Hobokenites. He uses 100% Premium Gold Angus Beef (80% lean, 5.5 ounces), which is NEVER frozen, along with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and onions on a Martin's Potato Roll. He notes that because he is using Premium Gold Angus Beef, that when cooked, his beef does not greatly shrink. Also, Lucky's has two sauces, the Lucky Sauce and the Chipolte Sauce, which have been huge hits in his current stores. He also offers "really great veggie burgers, sweet potato fries and turkey burgers" on his menu for those looking for an alternative to beef burgers.

He plans to offer free delivery (watch out Five Guys!), and have late night hours. Currently, he plans to be open Sunday to Wednesday from 11am to midnight, Thursday 11am to 3am and Friday & Saturday from 11am to 4am.

Open Letter To City Hall

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Ian Sachs was kind enough to reply to my open letter the other day. If you haven't read his response, please see the website Mile Square View here.

It seems that my open letters are getting some attention, so here's another idea I have for City Hall.

One thing i'd like to see in City Hall is an online ticket system. At "Corporation X" we used BMC Remedy - in our office before creating our own proprietary one.

The job of a ticketing system is simple, you create a ticket and can use those tickets to follow up on open issues. For example:

1. When is the Boys and Girls club swimming pool opening?
2. There's a street light that is out - can you open a ticket with PSE&G? Can you keep this ticket open to follow up?
3. There's a pothole on 6th and Garden.
4. Revaluation Project - where do we stand on the tax maps?


One resident can open a ticket, and everyone can reference that ticket, online, for the answers and updates from City Hall? A master ticket can be created, and sub tickets created off the master ticket for sub-projects - for example the Reval Project has multiple issues that need to fall into place, like tax maps - we can create a sub-ticket for each issue and follow them.

Even more bold would be the ability to create tickets online by residents for requests. If there was an existing ticket open, the new ticket be consolidated into the old ticket.

This would provide more transparency, accountability and open city government. You can create metrics from those tickets, keep track on who OWNS the ticket in city hall, and the time it takes to complete. Those metrics can be measured and we can see who in city hall is going the extra mile to get work completed.

Why wouldn't City Hall look into creating an online ticket system for their residents?

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The other night City Hall had a meeting about fixing issues along Newark Street. I think this is one of the key areas that has the most traffic. What they need to do is fix Newark between Washington and Hudson, adding a three lanes: a left hand turn, a straight lane and a right hand turn.

If the parking is a huge issue, then they should at least create a right hand turn lane. During high traffic hours, I have been at that light waiting for pedestrians to cross and would watch traffic get blocked from it.

Taco Truck Open!

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I was customer number one at the Taco Truck Store opening day. There was a line of people at the entrance and I was the first order.

What did I get? The "Seanito" of course.

Much like famous places like In-N-Out burger, who have their own "secret menus", the Taco Truck in Hoboken also has a secret menu.

The Seanito was designed by me, for people who like a rice bowl. The ingredients are: braised pork, cilantro, avocado, onions and their Mexican rice. It's great, trust me. Anyone can order it, just go up and ask.

Here's a few pictures I took of the event and I uploaded them here. Also Rocco, my wingman, was with me, so there's some pictures of him in there too. Enjoy!


Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

Boys and Girls Club Pool - Delayed?

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On Hoboken411 they reported that the Boys and Girls club pool was delayed in their opening. During that report, they had a quote from Tim Occupinti and "Hoboken parent Kylia Colon", which read more like a another way to make City Hall look bad rather than a news story. I like some of the things that Hoboken411 does, but think when it sounds like MSNBC attacking the Republicans or Fox News attacking the Democrats, that I roll my eyes - just report the news! Plus my comment on the thread caused 411 to now "moderate" all my future comments for approval before he posts on his site. Who does that? A 14 year old or a 41 year old? It isn't the first time that Hoboken411 has done this to me, and often I have to email him "asking" why my comments are moderated and he gives me some kind of bullshit answer.

Rather than seeking out quotes from people who clearly don't like the current administration, I wondered why wouldn't someone simply do 20 minutes of research to get the answers about how the pool is operated.

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You can read it here: http://hoboken411.com/archives/45890

A few of the commenter's took exception to the article reading like another way to slam City Hall from a website that clearly loves to slam City Hall. Like many of the other people who asked - why not just make a phone call and ask why it is delayed.

Before doing that I did a quick bit of research on the web. Look what I found:

In 2009 the pool was opened because of fundraising work by trustees of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hudson County, and even then Mayoral candidate Cammarano used $1,000 of his own money (or was it from the $25,000 bribe money?) to open the pool. The pool was opened by the end of July.

In 2008, the pool was delayed which Director of Health and Human Services John Pope blamed on Hoboken's budget problems, and noted that in previous years the pool has opened July 1st.

So, is there a delay? I did some further research by first calling the Boys and Girls Club in Hoboken. I spoke to a very nice person at the other end of the phone who informed me that the pool is owned and operated by the City of Hoboken Recreation Division. They told me that they had other people trying to find out what the delay was all about - and thought it was due to the budget.

I called The Recreation Division and spoke to the person who first picked up the phone. They assured me it would be open by July 19th. I asked why it was delayed, and who was responsible for that. They told me it was the responsibility of Ed Miller. I asked to speak to Ed. Ed was on a call, but would call me back and I left my phone #.

Ten minutes later I was able speak to Ed (Eddie) Miller. Here's what he told me:

1. The pool is delayed because the summer fun program has six different programs: Gymnastics, Tennis, Baseball, Basketball, Soccer and the Pool. By pushing the pool opening towards the end of the month it gave his department more time to focus on four of the six programs (gymnastics, tennis, baseball and basketball) which open at the beginning of the month.

2. There's only $10,000 budgeted towards the pool. This gives the city the ability to keep the pool open for 6 weeks due to administrative costs. By opening at July 19th, it gives the City the ability to keep the pool open for 1/2 of July and four weeks in August.

3. They have three lifeguards and pool aide (to help kids walk to the bathroom, for example) and a pool operator (who comes in the morning to check the pool & and the end of the day to clean the pool). That's the where the majority of those funds are allocated - the cost to have people operate the pool in a safe manner.

It comes down to money & budget. Our city is in a fiscal crisis, and even funding $10,000 towards the pool may not sound like a lot - it still gives those kids six solid weeks to use the pool. With the current heat wave, it certainly drew more attention to the pool and why in the past it was open by July 1st, yet this year is July 19th. My guess is that in years past the $10,000 that was funded could keep the pool open longer. Costs go up and the $10,000 we have allocated in 2010 only lasts six weeks, according to Ed Miller.

If the taxpayers out there want the pool opened earlier, we have to fund more money to the pool, because the money we have only allows the city to operate the pool for six weeks. If they did open the pool by July 1st, then they would have to close the pool six weeks later...by around August 16th, because they are budgeted for $10,000.

All of this information was given to me by Ed Miller, who I think was very forthcoming and very professional. Anyone, including Hoboken411, could easily call him through the phone number available on city of Hoboken's website.

After writing my open letter to Ian Sacs last week, I got to thinking about what other open letters I would write to people in City Hall. I thought about what was important to me, and what i'd like to see changed in Hoboken.

This week are police patrols, and i'd like to preface my opinion with three points:

1. I fully respect and understand that I don't know the inner workings of a police department. I fully respect and understand that my opinion is, frankly, ignorant. But, I still think my opinion is valid to some degree and worthy of simple consideration rather than a quick dismissal from the file and rank to "someone who just doesn't understand the police force" - as often I hear online from the police or firemen who dismiss citizen criticism.

2. I'm not a police officer. I don't have experience in law enforcement. I'm a citizen, a taxpayer, and my taxes directly pay for our uniformed officers to do their job. So I think i'm well within my rights to make an observation, and suggestion about what i'd like to see in Hoboken.

3. I believe in my taxes going to pay for first responders (police, fire, EMT). But i'm also someone who is fiscally conservative. I think we need to look at national averages for pay scale and apply them to our police and fire departments in all ranks. Then, I also think we need less brass and more patrolmen. When police state that we don't have enough cops - I think we need to be more creative in looking to streamline our police.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to my point.

One of the things I have issue with in town are the amount of police that we have in cars. Yes, I think responding to a call is best served as quickly and as efficiently in a police car, but during the warmer months why don't we have more police on foot in our mile square town? Even in December 2009 I saw a police officer on the street and wrote about how much I liked it.

In a study of Kansas City police officers, they concluded that "60 percent of the time spent by a Kansas City patrol officer typically was noncommitted. In other words, officers spent a considerable amount of time waiting to respond to calls for service. And they spent about as much time on non-police related activities as they did on police-related mobile patrol."

This same study did present strong evidence that increase in mobile police patrols didn't have a significant effect upon crime or the feeling that the residents were any safer.

Which, I agree with.

I think we need more police on the street, on foot. I would do this:

Hoboken is already divided into six wards, make each ward a "zone".

Then assign one officer who patrols each ward a day for two 1 hour patrols from 8am to 8pm.

Six wards. Twelve patrols of six officers who patrol on foot. Yes, there will still be police cars doing their job, and if a call comes in where a foot patrol officer is located, they can be dispatched to the call, and may even be faster to respond versus a police car which is 14 blocks away in some instances.

Now you might be saying why.

In the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment, it said "Residents see their communities as safer and better places to live, and are more satisfied with police services". The report also wrote: "It should also be noted that close contact between police and the citizenry helps the former develop first-hand information about crime and possible criminal behavior. Such information systems are likely to have a positive long-term impact."

With all of the talk of Governor Christie looking to create a 2.5% cap on property tax increases, which would, in turn, effect police staffing and salaries. There's also the Hoboken Police Audit which calls to reduce the number of police in Hoboken.

Seems to me that if you want the public to support the police one good step is getting the police more involved with the public. Rather than sticking two police officers in patrol cars and doing loops around the city, there should be more police actually interacting with its citizens.

That's my opinion. Take it for what it's worth, Officer Falco.

Open Letter To Ian Sacs

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This is a letter I sent to Ian Sacs, the Director of Parking and Transportation, a few weeks ago. Actually I can't remember if he replied, but I don't remember him doing so. What are your thoughts on fixing parking along Washington Street?

"Hi Ian,

I just wanted to know two things:

1. Are we looking to perhaps replace the meters on Washington Street with smart meters (meters that you can use credit cards, etc) with like they have in NYC?

2. I was writing on Hoboken411 about the double parking situation and did some research. New Haven had an issue like us with parking and I wrote this:

"One solution is we should have smart meters on Washington Street, which use "Dynamic parking" (refers to a system in which parking fees rise and fall according to demand. For instance, during the busiest part of the day downtown, it might cost $2 to park for an hour. When there are fewer cars around, it might be only $1.) Smart pricing also frees up curb space by incentivizing long-term parkers to use off-street lots and garages.

New Haven had similar issues with parking as we do, you can read more here.

Donald Shoup, author of The High Cost of Free Parking, says: "His proposed solution, implemented in a number of cities around the country: charge the "right price" for parking - not too little (or free) and not too much so as to discourage people from coming downtown.

That could be done either by varying the price according to time of day, or by charging for length of stay, Shoup said. He said optimally, most parking spots would be full but there'd be enough open spaces to make finding a spot relatively easy.

Second, he proposed returning parking meter revenue to the neighborhoods that generate it, to pay for improvements neighbors and merchants want to see.

Then cities should remove or reduce off-street parking requirements, shrinking the amount of pavement surrounding urban buildings and facilitating the creation of more human-scaled development, he recommended."

--

The bottom line is that Washington Street is too easy for people to park there in the middle of the day, popping quarters into a meters all day and taking up space. Someone like me would gladly pay $1 to park for 15 minutes if I can get in & get out.

I know plenty of business owners who park on the street and keep feeding the meters all day long to park. They clog the streets from people like me or parents who just want to pick up their kids or someone who simply wants 15 minutes to do a quick pickup and get on their way."

Wanted your thoughts on that if you had a second. I mean, don't you think the issue on Washington Street is that we don't have enough quick turnover & that it is too cheap to park? I think we should be looking to raise the price to park along Washington Street, for people like me who may be in their car and want to pop-in and out to buy something. Sure, there's the argument for people who want to eat along Washington Street, but I think a) they can pay more to park there for an hour or b) They should look to use a public parking garage if that cost is too high (I mean $4 for 1 hour is still probably cheaper than a garage).

Sean"


Even after writing this I think a key issue is having enough parking garages. A perfect location for a multi-story garage would be on Observer between Washington and Hudson. That's a huge parking lot that if it was converted into a multi-story lot it could house a ton of people who drive into town looking for a quick place to park for downtown dining or shopping.

Learn To Lie

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Random weekend.

Let's just dive right in there and tell the tale of drama, intrigue and everything else.

Thursday night, the start of my three day weekend, i'm walking Rocco. I pass by Mulligan's bar, and two girls are outside the bar. I recognize them, Kira & Sarah they are bar regulars, who I often chat with, but don't "hang out with".

They stopped me...or better said, they stopped Rocco. Lots of petting for him and kisses and excitement from Rocco. The one girl, Kira, says "It's my birthday weekend! I'm turning 33. We are headed to the Zeppelin Beer Garden. There's going to be a bunch of people from here. Why don't you come along? It's Saturday at 4."

Why not?

Saturday rolls around and I head over to the Zeppelin. I don't know a soul going to the party, except Kira and her friend Sarah. I get there, order a drink and see them in a group sitting at the picnic long tables out in the back of the bar. I sit down, and start chatting with Kira & her friends. It was a good scene, everyone were "my kind of people" (which are the non-pretentious down-to-earth types).

Perfect example were two guys name Steve and Issac. Both are graphic artists, and they like street art. We talk about Banksy, Warhol and Basquiat. Issac has a skateboard and we talk about skateboarding, and my long-ago days where I was a teenage skate rat. It was beer fueled, but inspired chatting about those subjects that was a fun time to just...talk.

I meet other friends of Kira and the day turns into night. One of them is named Emma. Emma was a very gregarious, outgoing personality with a fun sense of humor. She was about 5'8, brown hair, hazel eyes and weighed about 235 pounds.

The reason why I mention her weight will be clear later.

Emma sits down next to me at about 8pm. We get to talking and she's funny. Clearly has a sense of humor, and who doesn't like that. While we are talking she says "So I heard you are single."

I didn't tell Emma this, but I know that Kira knows I am single. So Emma must have found out from Kira. No big deal.

I tell her that i'm single, and she's shocked by it. I thank her, and try to defray the issue. She continues on, saying how she's single and we should date each other.

I'm trying my best to just downplay that. Saying that's very nice of her, and i'm flattered, etc.

She continues on, saying how cute I am and then is more persistent. Finally she says, "Straight up - tell me the TRUTH, why wouldn't you date me?"

OK everyone. I have been writing this blog for a while and if by now you don't realize this about me, here's a little tidbit. I tell the truth. Far, far, far too often I tell the truth especially when it wasn't asked for. No, I don't go running up to random strangers to insult them or go out of my way to really make my friends feel bad by the wrongly placed comment. But my mouth always gets me into trouble because i'm terrible at lying. Lying takes too much work. You have to think of a good lie and then you have to remember it days or weeks later. Nah, not for me, I will just tell the truth rather than lie.

So lets recap. We have Emma who is giving me the full court press. Up until this point we had been chatting for a good 25 minutes, one on one, and most of the conversation had been about why I should be dating her. She also told me about how she was on weight watchers and lost 35 pounds, too. So at one point of time, she was 265 pounds. I encouraged her and told her about how I often go to the gym and how I, too, have issues with diet and food.

OK. So back to the "Straight up - be honest, why wouldn't you date me?"

I reply back, "Straight up?"

She says, "Yep. Tell me why. I want you to be honest."

What do you do? Sure, in a perfect world I could have a perfect answer here that doesn't hurt anyone's feelings. But it was 8pm on Saturday after 4 hours of drinking. I have a girl who is clearly interested in me...but I'm not.

My goal wasn't to hurt her feelings, but she told me to be honest.

This is what I told her: "I think you have a a great personality, nice eyes, but for me, the weight would be an issue."

That was about as gentle as I could say it.

And, I will save my friends the emails about how you NEVER say ANYTHING to a girl about her weight. I fully recognize and understand how this is a big issue. It's not like she was 20 pounds overweight and i'm saying to her, "You are ENORMOUS!" This girl is clearly about 100 pounds overweight and knows i'm single - so what do you say? I could gently be like "Well, you just aren't my type..." and stay vague with that one. Yes, in many ways I feel somewhat bad about saying what I said, but she ASKED me.

I know that I should have handled the whole situation better. One of my greatest faults is that I very honest & I always speak my mind...and having a few extra beers in me didn't help this situation. My thought process really wasn't about being cruel, it was just she asked me for an honest opinion...and I was, well, honest. In retrospect, I should have just lied or deflected.

Her reaction to my comments were, well, unexpected.

She wasn't angry or ran away crying. She told me she knows she is overweight, and working on it. Even going so far as to tell me she should date her NOW while she's overweight to get the "best thing ever" when she is skinny again. I encouraged her to keep working at the weight & exercise goals - telling her that I, too, struggle with eating right and exercising four days a week.

We talked for another 20 minutes, and even after I told her I wasn't interested she STILL was hitting on me. I showed Emma streaming video from my iPhone which was connected to cameras in my apartment using VueZone. I saw that Rocco was up, and sitting in the middle of my family room. I looked at my watch and I have left him from 4pm to 8:45pm, so I knew that it might be a good thing to get back and walk him in the next hour. She suggested that WE go back to my apartment and walk Rocco.

Ahem.

Anyhow, I told Emma thanks but no thanks and said my goodbyes to her and others in the birthday party. I told Kira that if they leave the party at the beer Garden that I would see her at Mulligan's later. I left the bar and took a cab to Hoboken.

I get home, and take Rocco for a walk. Up to this point, I would say that I wasn't stone cold sober but wasn't raging drunk. I was in a good place and since it was only 9:30pm, I figure that I will have a few drinks.

I would normally walk Rocco home at this point, but I looked in Mulligan's and it was fairly dead. There were a few bar stools open, and I brought Rocco into the bar, even if he is underage. :)

Of course in 99% of other bars I wouldn't bring a dog into a bar. But I know all the bartenders and the owner, and they have told me multiple times that Rocco was always welcome in the bar. Up until this point I never really had Rocco in the bar for longer than 10 minutes. But screw it - he can hang with me at the bar.

Well, suffice to say, Rocco was a big hit. I sat at the entrance of the bar, and every girl or guy who likes dogs would walk in and immediately bend over to pet or play with Rocco. I sat there drinking, and made sure he didn't trip anyone up. While I am sitting there for about an hour, meeting various people I get a text message from Kira at 11:15pm:

"Did u say 2 my friend that u didn't wanna talk 2 her cause she's a bigger girl?"

Now I told you the story as I remember it. Emma and I easily talked for about 40 minutes at the Beer Garden. Now living in Hoboken one of the things that comes with living here and having multiple random friends is the key word: DRAMA.

DRAMA: Everything is exaggerated and misunderstood by outside observers.

Now Kira wasn't next to Emma or myself listening to our conversation. It appears that Emma said something to Kira about our conversation and that's the text message I get and boy...isn't that just drama 101.

One thing I have learned about Drama is that responding on text messages or email or chats are a bad idea. You lose so much when you try to defend your actions over those mediums and anytime this happens you have one goal: talk to the person who is offended in person.

So I reply back that I would rather talk to her about this rather than text about it.

The night goes on, and at about midnight at the bar, there's one really cute girl who is digging my dog. She's tall, blonde and pretty. Yes, yes, and yes. We chat a bit, and she's giving me good natured grief about bringing a dog into the bar - and i'm telling her how I never did it before. But then get on to the subject that "everything happens for a reason" and one thing leads to another...and we have a date this week. More on THAT for another day.

I still have to talk about Kira in person about what happened.

Learn from me, people. Learn to lie. It will save you much grief.

Clam Broth House: First Impression

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I was there today for lunch.

I had the clam chowder & roast beef sandwich.

My friend had the wings & steak bruschetta.

The chowder was average. Eh. Could have been from a can for all I know. The roast beef was, well, roast beef on a toasted roll. No sides. Just roast beef. Roll. That's it. For $12.

Now folks, I know this isn't SUBWAY. I'm not expecting my $5 footlong. But I was, well, expecting something MORE. How about fries? How about chips? Nope. Nada. How about maybe swiss cheese on the Roast Beef? Nope. Just roast beef on a toasted roll. My opinion? Tasted like they took pre-sliced roast beef out of the cooler, microwaved it and slapped on a toasted roll.

The wings we good, not great. Not amazing. Good. I would order those again. They had a nice kick afterwards and were meaty wings.

The steak bruschetta was very good from what I was told. I didn't have that myself, but as my friend told me he would "absolutely order that again".

I'll go back and try more things. So far, I am underwhelmed. Also adding insult to injury were these two key things:

1. When we sat at the bar, we weren't acknowledged for a good 6 minutes. It was lunch and there were 8 guys at the bar. One bartender. I worked behind the sticks, and I guar-an-tee you that I wasn't the fastest bartender, but I at least made eye contact with people and would say "Hi, I will be with you in a minute" if I was busy. Nothing. I was like she didn't care we were there until finally we are looking at each other and muttering that she came over to us. Again - 8 people at the bar. It's not like she had tables and a bunch of orders flying in. Gotta get better at that.

2. We closed our check without looking at the bill - just handed our cards and had her run it. The bill was $34 each. We tipped her, walked out and while walking away we did the math in our heads and realized there was NO CHANCE we just ate $76 dollars worth of food. We walked back and asked the bartender for the itemized bill. She looked it up and OOPS - she ran our cards on the wrong bill. What. The. Fuck. She voided it and re-ran our bills and it was $23 each.

I understand the "new business kinks" that need to be worked out, but that's just pathetic. In all my years as a bartender and a waiter, I KNOW that I haven't seen such crappy service by someone behind the bar - ever.

This place won't be in business for very long if it keeps up.

Also another last issue I have is with the prices on the dinner menu. I'm all for paying good money for good food. I go out to NYC restaurants and will pay NYC prices. But if Danny Tattoli wants to have people in Hoboken pay $28 for a filet mignon, it better be something comparable to New York City. I mean, I take the PATH to Christopher Street, eat at Wolfgang's or Raoul's and pay $6-10 more for one of the best steaks in 100 miles.

I will try it a few more times and write a final review in a bit. But right now...i'm on the fence. I think one thing they can do fast for the bar menu is add fries when you order a sandwich. 99% of all restaurants at least give you a side to nosh on with your sandwich. Nothing at CBH except beef & bread for $12.

Thinking Of Getting Rid Of My Car

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One of the biggest things of being American is car ownership. People love their cars. It is an extension of themselves, in many ways. From the neo-hippies in their Prius, to the muscle-car guido in their Ford Mustang to the yuppie driving the Range Rover. Everyone loves the freedom and fun that their car brings them.

When I first moved up to Hoboken, I didn't have a car. Now, this was back in the mid-90's, and it was a bit of a pain in the ass to get back to Philly. I basically had two choices. One, I could take the train. Two, I could rent a car.

Taking a train then was the days before the Acela. It was usually around $125 round trip from 34th Street / Penn Station to Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, taking the Keystone or NE Regional train. I remember lots of nights waiting for the PATH at Newark Station and really hating not owning a car.

Then, I tried renting cars. At the time we had Hertz in town, up by 14th Street in Hoboken, and I would usually rent a car Saturday morning and want to return it on Sunday. The problem with renting a car, was that every car rental place is CLOSED on Sunday. I hated that. I know why they were closed Sunday and it wasn't because they want to keep the Lord's day sacred - they want to jab the consumers with having to rent their cars an extra day. It would steam me when I would get back to Hoboken by 6pm and then have to wake up before work, the next day, and drop the car back off at the rental place. Was a royal pain in the ass.

Then Zip Car came along. They have parking spots all over Hoboken. There's one parking garage two blocks from my apartment. With my Corporation X discount fee I only pay $25 a year membership to Zip Car, and then weekday hourly rates for a Mazda 3 from $11 or weekend hourly rates of $13 (BMW 328i as $15 weekdays or $17 weekends). With a Zip Car you just park it where you found it, without the hassle of going to the rental counter to check your car back in or paying for extra days. If I have a car for 26 hours, I pay the daily fee plus two extra hours of use, which would be $115 + 26, or $141 for the Mazda.

Sure, it isn't *my* car. But lets break down what I pay for my car a month.

First, I own my car. I bought it in 1999 for $7,000. I pay some maintenance costs over the years, like oil or new tires. The car A/C doesn't work anymore, which was a real pain last weekend when I drove my cousin and her fiancée to our family reunion.

Second, I pay $185 a month for my parking spot across the street from my building.

Third, I pay about $90 a month on insurance for my car & condo.

Fourth, each long drive costs me about $25 in gas.

So, what are we looking at? $300 a month, or $3600 a year just on that alone.

I could drive the Zip Car BMW for 20 days a year or the Mazda 3 31 days before I spent $3600.

I use my car maybe 4-5 times a year to travel outside of Hoboken. Then another 4-5 times a year I may use it if I want to go to the mall or watch a movie or something. My car gets to the point where the security and clock drain the battery down to empty and I have to carry out a battery jump charger to restart my car. Every year I spend about $100 and buy a new car battery from the auto center.

But there is that sense of "freedom" that I enjoy. Also, I would hate to be dependent upon the "Rental Gods" and hope that around the holidays that I get the car I want to drive vs everyone who uses Zip Car to rent the car on Thanksgiving or Christmas weekend. I know me - I know if I thought about a quick trip to the food store or Home Depot or seeing a movie I would "think" about that $11 weekday charge versus paying (in my mind) $0 for my car (when, technically I am paying $300 a month for the car).

Maybe it is time for me to seriously consider getting rid of my car.

Do you have Zip Car? How do YOU like it? Leave a comment below or email me!

Rumors, Observations, Hearsay...

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A little birdy told me that an Applebees is looking to develop at the old Barnes and Nobles site. They are looking to get a liquor license, and running into some resistance. I personally think that even without a liquor license that the place would still rake in money. I'm standing firm to my belief that an IHOP would destroy everyone if they built one there.

Another rumor I heard is that Stacks is looking for a second location...might be uptown or downtown. Do you think a second location to Stacks would hurt the midtown location's traffic?

A third confirmation (from the owners) I heard was that Park & Sixth is opening a new deli on Grove St. So you people working in Jersey City get a great new deli to order from for lunch.

Another interesting tidbit I heard was that at the

I was at a community meeting on Saturday. There was a crowd of about 20 people, listening to the presenters. The presenters were parents, who, on their own, reached out to other parents, playground manufacturers and children to come up with some ideas about updating some of our playgrounds in Church Square Park.

They seemed like good ideas to me. The plan was about trying to raise money, use grants or corporate/private donations. Larger donations could involve specific park benches having a plaque affixed, while smaller donations would get bricks with the person who donated name on it. Seems like some good ideas here, and hopefully the park can get some desperate upgrades. Every time I walk Rocco into CSP, the parks are full of kids playing & parents watching over them. Clearly there is a need for better use of our existing park space.

95 Willow Street Fire

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Get the flash player here: http://www.adobe.com/flashplayer

As a dog owner, I start to see certain aspects of our city in a new light. One of them is our parks. We have such few open space, and are lucky to have quite a few dog parks in our town. Sadly, they are often in various states of disrepair.

Our city is cash strapped. It is very hard to justify expenditures to renovate and restore our dog parks. Heck, it's very hard to even get new gravel.

Over the last two months I, and others, have been emailing Mayor Zimmer, Councilperson Cunningham, and Director Pope to ask for new gravel to be put down at our dog parks. It cost $13,000 just to re-gravel all our dog parks.

Also the design of many of these parks are in poor shape. They don't have proper drainage, which leads to runoff of dirt, gravel and dog waste into our streets and sidewalks. Hoboken411 had a nice article about the dog run at Elysian Park and their issues.

Here's my ideas for fixing the situation:

1. A dog license in Hoboken is $10.00 if spayed/neutered (proof required) or $14.00 if NOT spayed/neutered per year. That's peanuts. One drink at The W Hotel bar costs more than that. I'd just increase the license to $15 / $20, with the idea that the extra money is going towards capital improvements of our dog runs, rather than taking from the taxpayers to fund it.

2. We have to get it easier to license our dogs. As of now, dog owners have to mail the application, rabies certificate and spay/neuter proof to 124 Grand Street. In Pennsylvania, you can do this all online at http://www.padoglicense.com/, which was designed and maintained by http://www.epaymentnow.com/. How hard can this be? Have the newly installed Environmental Services Director, Jennifer Wenson Maier, contact this site and find out how much it would cost to set up a similar website in Hoboken or possibly Hudson county.

3. We need better enforcement of dog licenses in town. We need police to patrol our city parks and check dogs for licenses. Where's the incentive to GET a dog license if there are no repercussions for not having one?

4. Councilperson Cunningham, who founded the HDA, mentioned about doing advertising at the dog parks. I agree with that, and think it's a great idea. We need to approach local businesses (perhaps start a non-profit fund that is tax deductible?) for donations towards the restoration of dog parks. Also we can encourage dog owners to donate to this fund while they register their dogs online for the dog licenses.

5. We need to actively seek loans and grants that can be used towards the restoration of our dog runs.

6. We need to possibly seek out new locations for dog runs. I agree with Hoboken411 who mentioned that there was a great spot by City Hall that would be a good spot for a new dog run (again, funded by dog licenses and donations, not taxpayers).

Right now, from what I understand Director Pope was told to re-gravel the dog runs. But I hope to work with City Hall with finding a way to renovate and restore these runs for better drainage and general repairs that wouldn't affect our taxpayers and can be funded by dog licenses. In a town of 40,000 residents how many dogs do you think are here? I would hazard at least 1,000 dogs. Even if we get 50% of those people to lawfully license their dog, that's about $10,000 a year we could raise just with licenses alone, not including business donations & advertisement.

If you haven't been paying attention to the Hoboken tax situation, some bad news to report. Judy Tripodi was good enough to make an error for all of us. Oh, whoops, she forgot to report a 4.2 million debt that the city owed to the state. Mayor Roberts introduced a plan to let 25 municipal employees retire early, which was designed to save the city money...until later we found out this was basically illegal because those that retired drew their pension and the state of NJ flipped out and slapped the city with a 4.2 million bill.

Great!

So who gets to clean up this mess? Mayor Zimmer.

I'm not happy about the tax increase but it is clear to me that there are just a ton of people in Hoboken who royally screwed the rest of us with their mismanagement. But, i'm certainly glad that we have people like Dawn Zimmer, Ravi Bhalla, Dave Mello and Carol Marsh in office. Could you imagine a bunch of "the same old same old" in office with this mess? No doubt it would only get worse, not better.

I certainly feel for Mayor Zimmer in this situation, she promised a 25% cut in taxes based on what was given to her by Judy Tripodi, our fiscal monitor. Heck, everyone was misled. Beth Mason, who was a candidate at the time, she promised a 25% tax decrease also. If you listened to Frank Raia, he was very vague about how exactly he would do anything about fixing the budget except "he wouldn't VOTE for a tax increase". Maybe we should have all voted for Frank, since he didn't make false promises.

I don't believe that this was not some calculated plan, but the City of Hoboken inheriting the problems of the past. I'm a tax payer. I'll gladly pay my taxes to fix this mess and hope to put people in place NOW that our future taxpayers don't have to bear our burdens. Plus, I think a lot of people in recent years have been getting more and more involved in business at City Hall. I like that and glad there are websites out there up reporting the local, unbiased political news.

So we live in an urban area. I take Rocco out with me for any errand I do. If i'm picking up food or going to CVS or a store. One of my main "issues" is when I want to go inside, what do I do with him?

Often, i'm lucky because I can tie him to a parking meter or street sign while I go inside a deli and order my sandwich. Yes, trust me, i'm watching him from the store. But there have been times where there isn't a convenient place to tie him up in Hoboken.

For example, Vito's Deli or Energy Kitchen.

There's no parking meters or signs, so I found some pipe that I could tie the leash to. That worked and I ordered my food and he sat there, patiently, waiting for me.

I think it would be a great thing if businesses in town could put up dog hooks for owners with pets. Simply install it outside a business, preferably in front (or under) of a window. Dog owners can walk up, hook the leash and go inside.

What can it cost, a dollar or two? Only issue is that I don't know of a real "dog hook" that can be purchased for such an idea. Plus I also don't know how local businesses really care or not about installing something like that outside their business (I did Google this a bit and found that they are popular in England). It would have to be far enough away from the door as not to impede traffic.

What are your thoughts on this? You could say "leave Rocco home", but I want my dog to get exercise as much as possible, because a tired dog is a happy dog.

Patrolling Police?

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I have been walking to the PATH station for many years. Sure, you always get the local and port authority police who are standing AT the PATH station, which is good.

But for the first time in a LONG time, I actually saw a police officer PATROLLING on foot yesterday afternoon after I got out of work on the corner of Newark and Hudson.

I was shocked and impressed. Walked up to him and said, "Not to be condescending, but it's great to see a police officer on the street."

He smiled and said "Thank you!" and shook my hand. Then he told me his name, and I told him good night.

Lo and behold, but this morning on my walk into work the same police officer was patrolling again, around the same area. I was going to say hello, but he was busily chatting with another neighbor on his way towards the PATH station.

Every once in a blue moon (not counting festivals or parades) I see a police officer actually PATROLLING the streets. I love it. Taxes to pay for that, no problem.

Less officers sitting behind desks and more officers on the streets. I'll gladly pay my fair share of taxes for that and a reasonable pay & rank scale (based on national metro averages, and not some insane numbers that past Mayors and City Council members cooked up behind closed doors).

I personally would love to see police officers assigned to specific wards. They should patrol those wards, on foot, get to know the neighbors. Rotate these patrols yearly to get new cops in new wards. Wouldn't that create a better bond between the police and the neighborhood? I think it would. How often do you really meet a police officer who is patrolling in their cruiser?

Maybe the patrolling police officer is just an analomy or maybe it's something new to do with Police Chief Falco. I am hoping for the latter.

Congratulations Dawn Zimmer!

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I am very excited to see change come to Hoboken. After Cammarano gave our city a black eye, I was very pleased to see over 5,000 Hobokenites voted for Dawn Zimmer in today's election. I have been close to the election campaigners and Dawn during this whole race, and i'm really happy to see her win. Dawn is the first female mayor in the history of Hoboken, and someone that I hope will bring new, fresh change to City Hall.

Congratulations to all her supporters, workers and family on this historic day!

Protest 7/25 @6pm City Hall

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Life is a series of events, if you think about it.

We certainly are defined by our day-to-day mundane events, but life is about putting together those "moments of definition".

It could be a life living abroad. It could be enjoying life in the wine country of Italy with your family. It could be a day you lost someone special.

These are the moments that define you. There are hundreds of these in a lifetime.

Tonight is one of those moments. It's easy to sit on the sidelines when events like this happen, but to take action says more than anything. It doesn't matter who you voted for in the last election, I think we can all agree that we do not want to stand for corruption in our city.

Peter may be innocent. He may be guilty. It is not like he was caught by a local blogger on tape admitting to taking bribes -- he was recorded by the FBI. They don't accuse seated mayors unless the evidence is fairly conclusive, and i'm sure you have read the complaint, which details what was said.

Mayor Cammarano's ability to govern has been compromised, even before a trial has started. What he needs to do is step down, face the charges he is accused of, and let the courts decide if he is guilty or not. To have this circus going on, for the next couple of years, and for him to try to push forth an agenda is ludicrous. Who is going to trust anything he says? Who is going to trust anyone he nominates in his cabinet?

Until we find out the truth here, Hoboken will never progress. I highly encourage everyone to show up at City Hall tonight at 6pm to peacefully protest. It will only take 20 minutes of your life to define who you are...someone who stands up against corruption.

Where Do We Go From Here?

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Well, the news is buzzing about Cammarano.

What's there to say that really hasn't already been suggested? A mere two weeks ago Hoboken Housing Authority Commissioner Hector Claveria was arrested for taking bribes. Cammarano said:

"This Administration has a clear-cut, zero tolerance policy against any violation of the public trust and I am calling for Housing Authority Commissioner Claveria to resign his position with the Hoboken Housing Authority immediately. Should he refuse to resign, I am demanding that the City Council President immediately begin proceedings for his removal pursuant to New Jersey State statute 40A:12A-17."

Fair enough. Even before Claveria had his day in court, Cammarano was crowing for him to step down. I can only hope that Cammarano talks the talk and walks the walk. He needs to step down.

Ok, then what?

City council would vote for the interim mayor.

That interim mayor would run things until we have another vote in 2009 to determine a new mayor.

Ok, so fast forward to Nov 2009. We have a new mayor. Where do we go from here?

Well, if you watched the press conference from yesterday, you will see that the FBI eluded to "changes that we can make" to make corruption more difficult.

U.S. Attorney, FBI hold press conference on corruption arrests

OK. I'm not an expert, but shouldn't we reach out to the FBI and ask them to advise the City of Hoboken on what laws we can pass to make it harder for corruption to occur. I think I can speak for the average citizen when I say that we are sick of the way that our town has a double standard. And i'm not just talking about politicians. There's a double standard that seems to exist in every part of city government. That needs to be stamped out, immediately.

If you sit on the sidelines and make snippy comments and don't get involved -- you are part of the problem. If you don't vote -- you are part of the problem. If you are apathetic -- you are part of the problem.

Where we need to go from here is keeping the public informed. Revamping the city hall website for better open government. Taking away the mayor's authority to appoint members to the Zoning Board would be a good step. Think about what happened with the corruption probe.

The FBI used an informant -- the "CW," or cooperating witness, in April 2009 to approach Michael Shaffer (a North Hudson Utilities Authority commissioner) and mayoral candidate Cammarano:

The CW told Cammarano he would give Shaffer $10,000 if the mayor could "expedite" his development plans.

From the complaint:

Defendant Cammarano explained that "[i]t can go on the agenda just as soon as there's a sponsor for it . . . That happens like that."

The CW inquired, "So, if you sponsor it, boom?"

Defendant Cammarano replied, "Yeah."

When the CW stated "make sure you get my stuff expedited," defendant Cammarano assured the CW that "I promise you . . . you're gonna be, you're gonna be treated like a
friend."

Shaffer said later:
"When we get elected, we put our friends on the boards so we know we get the - don't listen to those morons who say put this environmentalist on, but they're - they're all f*cking kooks."

According to the criminal complaint, Shaffer acted as a middle man for the money.

So they put their friends on the boards. That's what Shaffer said. Only a few days ago, Cammarano revealed who such "friends" are when he revealed his cabinet. I recognize that Hoboken is a small town, but we have 45,000 people to choose from. Why are we putting an ex-algebra teacher into a position like the Director of Health and Human services? The same person who shouted down constitutents who "dared" suggest that we trim the pay of the fire department. This is the best we can get?

This city won't be fixed overnight. But I think our first best step is getting people into city hall positions who aren't "connected" one way or another to people in other departments - which can be hard with a city our size.

We need to get the budget under control. We need to take a hard look at streamlining our city departments, and asking questions comparing how Hoboken does things and comparing that to other cities. Find out what works and how we can keep our taxes low and our salaries competitive, but keeping in-line with state wide averages, for all public safety departments.

That's where our new mayor & city council should focus their efforts.

Thanks to Jesse for whipping this up so fast...

Don't Be Stupid If You Live Here

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I'm walking into work and on the corner of Newark and Willow, I see a smashed window on a car. I personally see this about every few months, and often reported on Hoboken411.com.

Do not leave anything in your car. Sure, there are idiot kids who smash or key cars for fun on the street. But if you look at the box in the picture above - that's what the guy was looking for. Most of these people are homeless, and look for something they can sell, like CDs or GPS systems.

As much as part of me feels sympathy for the car owner, another just shakes my head. The trunk area was just too cluttered with items.

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I'm planning on going to this. If supporting artists and the community is something you like, I encourage you to attend, also.

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I don't want to turn my site into a political blog, but I have to say this...

Tuesday is the election. If you are registered to vote, it only takes 15 minutes to vote for local elections, and I urge you to vote for Zimmer and her slate. It's going to be a tight election (don't get swayed by all the endorsements for Cammarano, it's a political strategy, and they are panicked by the Zimmer threat).

Just remember that of all the Hoboken voters, only 33% of them voted in the last election, and Zimmer came in 2nd place by 84 votes. Mason, who came in 3rd place, endorsed Zimmer for Mayor...and the HDCO machine has come out in full force with their "endorsements" because they are freaked out by the idea that Zimmer could actually rock the boat and bring change to City Hall.

I read the "endorsements" that Peter Cammarano is getting, and it doesn't say to me that we have people who are really concerned about Hoboken, but people threatened by the idea that Zimmer could win. We have police, firemen, unions and developers backing Cammarano. What does that say to you?

Says to be that we have people who are interested in things remaining the same. People who are afraid that Zimmer will actually do the right thing and bring Hoboken in-line with the rest of the country. Examples?

Well in Manhattan, they have 1 supervisor for every 5 cops. In Hoboken? We have 1 supervisor for every 2 cops. The police would fret "We need more cops" rather than saying "Hey, maybe we have too many supervisors! Maybe instead of paying one supervisor $165,000 a year we could hire three patrolmen at $55,000 a year. "

Wow, what radical thinking!

I have (or had, depending on how you look at it) friends who were firemen and cops and are furious that I dare to blog such ideas. I wrote many times before that it is a question of compromise, and i'm not the only person who says that Hoboken police and firemen's salaries and benefits are above the average when compared to the rest of the state.

City Hall spends 80% of its budget on salaries and benefits. When we ask where our taxes are going -- they are going straight to our first responders and city hall employees.

Of course it is in the best interest of the police and fire department to endorse Peter Cammarano. He, and his slate, represent the "Entitled Hoboken". The entitled Hoboken are the people who have benefited by city councils and mayors sympathetic to their issues. They are the ones who made back office deals to give away our waterfront like at Maxwell Place or the W Hotel. They are the ones who think it's ok to extend PILOT agreements for Church Towers.

Example #2: Did you know that Church Towers has 402 units and pays $463K in taxes? That would mean an annual property tax payment of $1152 per unit. How does that compare to YOUR tax bill? The city council voted 6-2 (with Cammarano and Zimmer who were the dissenting votes). The funny fact is that those against Zimmer blast her for voting against this, but keep forgetting the fact that Cammarano also voted against it. Don't let facts get in the way of things, folks!

One last blog post for you, to give you and idea of what we are up against.

I went yesterday to vote for Longean, and while voting I hear one of the people
who work at the desk talking to someone about why he was voting for Cammarano.

I step out of the polling booth and it's a man doing the talking, with long
grey hair, and tattoos. Sort of looks like an old biker, with missing teeth and
glasses. He rides around in a old person scooter, sort of like those that you
see on late night TV "the freedom to do anything you want!"

Anyhow, he is talking to four people. A mom & dad and their two kids (who look
about 18-20), were at the polling station voting for the governor. I stop to listen to what he says, and he starts with the "Well if Zimmer and Mason didn't call in the state supervisor our taxes would only have increased 7%, not 43%!! Zimmer wants to fix this town overnight! I like that Peter represents 'Old School Hoboken'."

I stopped him and said, "You know what. You are correct. That's true, and a problem with the Cammarano campaign. He is telling you half-truths. It is true that if Judy Tripodi didn't come in, we could have raised the budget only 7%, but we still did owe the money that is reflected in the 43% increase. Where would it go? Into debt. So one way or the other we had to pay that money, and someone had to get our books in order, for years we haven't been doing it right. That is 'Old School Hoboken's' fault for the last eight years."

He starts to sputter and gets more irate with me. He then quickly changes subjects, "Well did you know Zimmer wants to build a wall around the projects?!"

I reply, "Say what?"

He starts tapping on his cell phone, saying "Yes! It's true! I have her phone number, call her and ask her, she said she wanted to build a wall around the projects!"

I replied, "OK, I don't think that is true, but i'm not going to call her to ask. Is that what's important to you in this election? A wall around the projects? I thought we were talking about the taxes and budget..."

He got more animated, waving his arms, while I was calm. The family was standing there, watching this, and I was countering all of his stuff easily, because they were absurd statements. I finally told him "Look, we are both concerned about the same thing, but Cammarano isn't the answer, he is supported by ex-council members and developers who basically gave Hoboken away for free with their pilot agreements on the waterfront. It's sad because you are telling people what you think and you are clearly misinformed. At the very least, do some research before you begin to tell people these half-truths, rather than passing on to them things that were just "told" to you."

Then another worker walked over and nicely said, "You can't continue this discussion here, both of you (to me and him). You can't talk politics in a voting area."

I wasn't about to argue the fact that the other guy, the one working at the polling station, started the discussion - so I said "No problem." and walked out.

The four people followed me out, and they got my attention, by saying "Hey, wait up...". I spun around, and saw them waving to me, and the first my first words out of my mouth were, "Now, do you believe a guy like ME or a guy like HIM?"

The guy smiled said, "No, no. We are Zimmer supporters. We just got to talking about the state election and that's when he started up about the local election."

They were very nice, all four of them (including the kids) were voting Zimmer in the run off. We talked for about a good 20 minutes about the election, and I told them a few things they weren't aware of. It was fun and also really disheartening because a guy in the election booth was so adamant about Zimmer being the devil that he basically didn't want to listen to anything I said.

That's my story. Here's a video from Dawn's campaign. We don't have the big developers or the PAC groups to support us. Everything has been a grass roots campaign. I donated to their cause, and if you can, I encourage you to, too:

Things I Think About...

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This is one of those cheap posts where I kind of ramble a bit. Some people like it and some get annoyed. I hope you are the former.

I kind of want to get a dog. I wrote about this before. The main thing stopping me is the whole "walk" part of owning a dog, and specifically - MORNING WALKS. I'm just terrible at waking up, I just love sleeping and it's mentally painful for me to get up early to do anything. So tell me, if you own a dog and aren't a morning person, did you get used to this? Remember I don't have a back yard - I have to walk the doggie.

I kind of want to buy a car. Been kicking it around forever. I think since 1996 been saying how I was going to buy a BMW, but kept putting it off - saving my money to buy a home. OK, so I have the home...time for the new ride? Lots of factors are in this decision which in no particular order:
a. I drive, perhaps, 3,000 miles a year. I don't *need* a car. But having family in Philadelphia and Washington DC - makes renting a car very annoying for holidays & special events.
b. I have lived without a car in Hoboken for my first 4 years. I was miserable. Yes, you purists who don't have a car - GOOD FOR YOU! But when the zombie / robot uprising finally happens at 3am in 2010 I will be driving my car into the hills of PA to begin my resistance movement (a la "Red Dawn") while YOU will be next on their menu!
c. My current car, the 1993 Volvo, has been a (mostly) reliable friend since 1999. 10 years, 28,000 miles and only a few minor mechanical hiccups. It's reliable but isn't FUN like my Jeep. Car owners who SMILE when they drive their car know what i'm talking about. My Jeep was a joy to drive, part of me thinks about getting another one, but then I start to think: is this a midlife crisis kind of car? I looked at buying a Jeep again, but they are ridiculously expensive (and I like the old square headlights better!). For the money to buy a new Jeep I can get a used 2007 BMW instead. That's the problem with American automakers, they should be making Jeeps in the $18,000 range, not $28,000 range.
d. As someone who overthinks everything, part of me wants to lease a car. A BMW 328i or Mercedes C300 is only $350-400 a month, and that's in my affordable range. Only problem is that i'll spend $18,000 over 3-4 years and then...nothing. At least buying a car, I will have some return on my investment.
e. My main "issue" is justifying the expense of about $400-500 a month on a car that I use so infrequently. $6,000 a year on the car...another $2,220 on parking, $1500 on insurance...who knows how much gas...$10,000 a year for the luxury of owning a newer car...my current car, albeit older and not as exciting as a newer car still gives me about $6,000 extra a year that I can spend on...other things.

I had the last week off from work. Nothing of merit happened. I'm fine with that. After many years of looking over my vacations and travelling, I am most happy when i'm not doing very much. Beaches are always a favorite of mine. I can lie on a beach all day. Swim a bit. People watch. See, instead of spending $6,000 a year on a new car, that is only part of money I could use to go to Club Med Turkoise, instead.

I got to meet Dawn Zimmer the other day. Her team actually wanted to meet the Philly2Hoboken Philadelphia sports fans (part of the Phillies and Eagles clubs I run). She came with her council to Mulligan's and we had a nice, if small, crowd of fans there to meet her. It was great to meet them, and can only hope that she is successful in a few weeks. If not, then we keep fighting the "good" fight against the "connected" folks in City Hall. It's the Newcomers & the Born and Raised together vs the people in City Hall who make back office deals to protect only a few people.

I have no problem with a budget of $90 million for Hoboken. I will pay more taxes. I am 100% fine with it. Lets compare the structure of our Fire and Police departments with other regions and see how they are able to streamline their workforce to keep salaries, pensions and benefits down. We can't just throw up our hands and say "Oh well. That is how we have been doing it since 1978! Taxpayers pay up!" It seems like the word out of most of what I read from Cammarano says that taxpayers aren't going to get any breaks if he is elected and things are just going to stay "as is". I don't want to see firemen or cops lose their jobs. Not one. I simply want to do an analysis of other cities, compare their structure and salaries and compare it to Hoboken. If the results of that analysis says that Hoboken is in-line with what the rest of the major cities do, then i'm all for paying for good first responders. If the analysis comes back and says "We need more cops or firemen" or "We need to pay them more". I am 100% for that. But if the analysis comes back and says "You are overpaying your cops and firemen" or "The structure of your police force can be changed, if compared to the way that 'City X' does it..." Then why wouldn't we look at logical, rational views to be fiscally responsible, while protecting our citizens? I think our police and firemen do a thankless job. As the grandson of a Philly cop, I have respect for our first responders! Suffice to say I can only hope that change is coming to City Hall. I remember what happened to Philly in the late 1970's, and how they strangled their populace with taxes - and drove them out of the city. The same can happen in Hoboken, if we aren't careful.

Enough serious stuff. Been enjoying my Phillies this season. Crossing my fingers that we get some pitching help. I'm hoping some of the new prospects we have in the farm system show up this year and maybe we can find a diamond in the rough. Antonio Bastardo, Carlos Carrasco and Kyle Drabek are the three pitchers that you need to start brushing up with, if you are a Phillies fan. Gotta love that our team has the offensive firepower to roll over teams even if pitching hasn't been great. Remember - EVERY FRIDAY IS PHILLIES FRIDAY AT MULLIGAN'S. Tell your friends who are Phillies fans. :)

As you may or may not know, I often review restaurants on the blog or back in the day on Hobokeni.com. I read others in town who write restaurant reviews and it always makes me think about my five rules I always try to stick to:
1. Never "review" a restaurant when it first opens. It doesn't make any sense. Kitchens are learning their routines. The owners are on their best behavior and the new staff who are on bad behavior have yet to be disciplined or fired. Wait about three months.
2. Never tell a restaurant you are reviewing them until after you eat.
3. You should never get a free meal, and if you do it should be written in the review.
4. Bring friends. Have everyone order a different dish. Have everyone sample and give you feedback.
5. I personally prefer to eat at a restaurant three times before I write a review.

If you want to write a "first impression" about a new place, that's fine. But it shouldn't be damning or praising. Save that for a formal review of the establishment after multiple times eating there after it has been open for many months.

People often ask about my condo, since this marks my 2nd year owning my own place. My minor regret is that if I only held out 2 more years, I would be in an even better market to buy! I knew this was coming, but I expected mortgage rates to skyrocket when the market crashed, much like they did in the late 80's. So much for history repeating itself. But otherwise i'm super thrilled with my own home, and have two "projects" on the backburner. One is a minor renovation of my bathrooom. The other is a hardwood floor project. I already have a friend lined up to help with the bathroom, but if anyone knows anything on hardwood floors...i'm all ears. Email me if you have any good info.

Otherwise, I have no "summer plans". No Bradley Beach this year. My buddy Chris wasn't going to do it, and he was the main reason why I did it last year. I did make some new friends last year, and toyed with the idea of doing the beach house again, without Chris, but ultimately decided against it. Maybe I will try to get in a few day trips to the beach here and there this summer.

I finally paid off my PSE&G bill after many years of paying $100 a month extra to pay it off. The condensed story is basically PSE&G was estimating our bills for about 10 years at my old apartment. I fought and lost (well, I did get a slight reduction), and owed many THOUSANDS of dollars to the electric/gas company. Jon & Kristen did pay me, but when I asked my old roommates, who moved out, to pay what they owe, they basically said "Screw you, it was your fault - you pay.". I wonder if my old roommates have an ounce of remorse for sticking me with that bill. I doubt it. I hope that Karma just deals with them.

I'm looking forward to the 4th of July fireworks. I want to get a tripod for my camera and get some night time shots. Anyone recommend a good tripod for a digital SLR? I'm looking for lightweight and compact, I hate to lug something around that is unwieldy.

I guess that is mostly it. I hope this summer to get out in Hoboken and review some new places and upload some new pictures. I have the summer with a lot of time on my hands, so why not?

W Hotel Hoboken Pictures

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With April 23rd as the "official" opening date for the W hotel, here's a few pictures I was able to obtain last week. Enjoy.

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I read this article in the NY Times about Yankee Stadium and the problem they are having with large sections of premium seating left open.


Here's what I would do if i'm the Yankees or Mets:

1. Speak to Premium Seat holders and offer the "Open Seat Plan". First, you have to enroll. Those who don't want to enroll don't need to bother with the next part of my plan.

2. Those that do enroll, get these benefits: If you haven't shown up by the 4th inning, the Yankees or Mets will offer $25 per seat credit back to that premium seat holder. It won't cover the cost of the seat, but at least you get something if you can't use your seats. Also the "payback" is at the discretion of the Yankees or Mets. So they may not buy back seats for every game. There's no guarantee that if you miss a game that you will get $25 back. The seat is bought back by the Yankees or Mets.

3. If the seat holder plans to make the game after the 4th inning, they can email or call the box office to "hold" their seat. If you are "in" the plan and haven't made it into the stadium before the 4th inning, then your seat will be bought back by the Yankees or Mets organization, for that game.

4. That means any seats in the premium sections are now owned by the Yankees or Mets. The Yankees or Mets (using the ticket scanners they have at the gates) will know which seats are "open" and if they are enrolled in the plan.

5. Then the Yankees or Mets will do a lottery. Season ticket holders in non-premium seats will win the chance to sit in premium seats. Think of it like when you get to the airport and there are business class or first class seats - and you get an upgrade by the airline for your patronage. Maybe 20-30 people win, total, and you will have the Yankees or Mets who hand out vouchers (special ticket stubs) for those seats. The fans can then walk to their new seats and enjoy the game.

6. Wouldn't that say THANK YOU to all the season ticket holders who can't afford $2,000 seats? Per game, what are we talking about? $750 that the Yankees or Mets are spending to reward their loyal fans? They don't have to do it every single game, maybe they do it once a week (but truth be told, don't you think when paying ballplayers hundreds in millions in salaries, they can afford $750 a game?).

The only problem with the plan is when some jerkoff premium ticket holder does show up after the 4th inning and didn't email or call the box office. The solution can be a bit more tricky. If the premium seat holder is enrolled in the plan, they have to agree to the rules. If they show up late and claim they did call or did email to hold their seats, then the lottery people would have to give up their seats.

Maybe some kind of consideration would be given to those lottery people, like the "next game" they do the lottery they can sit in the premium seats (so instead of 30 tickets raffled, they raffle 28 tickets and hold 2 for those who were bumped).

It won't be easy, but it is absolutely doable with our technology today.

We all have been affected in various ways by the recession. One of the benefits of working at Corporation X is that I have been at my job since right out of college. Coming up on 15 years. Corporation X has fairly solid fundamentals, and there won't be mass layoffs anytime in the near future.

I think.

But that still hasn't stopped me from trying to make small changes in my life to make my dollar stretch further. I have been doing a few things to be more "fiscally responsible", if you will. But it also doesn't mean that i'm going to completely stop spending my money!

1. Body Balance Discounted Massages: I reviewed the massage therapists at Body Balance, and think they are outstanding. Sitting in a chair & typing all day and running on a treadmill take their toll on my body, and this is my gift to myself on a bi-weekly basis. They have some excellent discounts on their website, and I bought a package deal to help save some money.

2. Refinanced my mortgage: Good time to look for loans, if you can get it. I was able to offset my property tax increase with a lower mortgage payment. I still say now is a good time to buy if you are in a stable job and can get financing. Many of my friends have refinanced at 4.5% on 30 year fixed loans in the last few months.

3. Coffee! Mmmm. I bought a coffee maker from Amazon, and recently bought a coffee grinder, too. I tried Illy coffee from Italy and it's excellent. Considering that a large coffee at Dunkin Donuts costs $2.50-3 up here, the money I save is great. I bought a large metal thermos and bring my coffee into work.

4. Slow-Cooker: Also known as a crockpot, it's about taking food, cooking it while you are at work, and then walking in the door to a meal waiting for you. I have yet to use this, but just got it a few weeks ago. Need to figure out what to make first, i'm guessing some kind of beef stew would be nice. It's always a good idea to save some cash by making more homemade inexepensive meals.

5. Pre-Party: This is as old as my college days, but easily the smartest move. Grab a few red bulls & A bottle of Belvedere Vodka. A six pack of Yuengling. Captain Morgan and a bottle of Coke. Having a few drinks at your house before you go out is classic college move, but damn smart in this economy. Heck, invite a few friends over first and have a pre-party and then go out. Bars are barely affected by the recession, but your wallet is. Always a good idea to limber up before you excercise and just as smart to liquor up before a night of drinking that can save you a ton of money. With the extra money you are saving, use it to grab brunch the next day.

I'm a small corner of Hoboken. A writer with a voice, and for this election, I wanted to at least publicly endorse someone who I felt strongly about, and did the title just for flourish.

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I'm endorsing Dawn Zimmer for mayor of Hoboken in 2009.

I average about 200+ daily readers here. About 200 registered friends follow the Eagles and Phillies from my Google Groups and are also registered voters. I sincerely hope they also vote for Dawn Zimmer in the upcoming election.

My Phillies and Eagles friends have saw what the power of a few people can do in a city like Hoboken. We went from me sitting in the Farside bar on Sundays saying to my Eagles friends, "Why don't we band together like those Steeler guys?" (Thank you Steelers Club for that inspiration!) to a ridiculously large following every Sunday at Mulligan's Bar. We organized. We grew. We overcame a lot of people who told us "no".

I encourage all 400+ people who do read this site and my club members that that they visit and read what all the candidates have to say. Beth Mason & Peter Cammarano offer plenty of good ideas and solutions, and you should read what they have to state.

But after reading what they have written and those that they surround themselves with as council people, Zimmer is my vote. I feel she AND her team have the best chance to bring fresh, new voices into a city hall that often gets accused of cronyism, shady back office dealings and favoritism.

These are the issues that are important to me, and I believe that Dawn and her city council candidates are our best chance at seeing it happen:

1. Independent Review Of All City Departments. Hire a company from the outside to look at how we structure our police and fire departments. They would gather independent information about pay scales and state averages for city employees and to base our contract negotiations on that, not on cronyism and outdated contracts from the 1970's.

2. Property Tax Reassessment. My taxes went up 42%. Ok. I'm paying my fair share. But is the rest of Hoboken? Some people live in enormous homes and pay extremely low taxes. Some new Homeowners are taxed much higher. That's not fair, and we should have an independent analysis of what everyone is paying in Hoboken for their taxes and raise/lower/even everything properly. I'll my taxes at the increased 42% rate, as long as the rest of Hoboken is paying their fair share.

3. PILOTS. Understand them better. Make sure the public is informed. If we are giving government breaks to places like Church Towers - then shouldn't that "waiting list" be public, along with who owns the tower? Church Towers is one of many upcoming buildings where they are reviewing PILOTS. If my taxes increased 42%, why aren't building owners that rent units paying their fair share, too? I don't advocate increasing costs to subsidized renters or senior citizens. But there are lots of people living in Church Towers making plenty of money that can afford a rental increase to cover their fair share. They use the same public infrastructure that I do.

4. Modernization. Hoboken's city records are archaic. A better, modern system of record keeping, paying parking tickets online, and a 311 call center.


I have reviewed what Peter Cammarano and Beth Mason have said and wrote from various online websites. I was torn between Beth Mason and Dawn Zimmer, but I think at the end of the day i'd rather get people into public office like Ravi Bhalla and Dawn who are trying to sweep away the various scandals, mismanagement and political dealings of old Hoboken to bring new ideas, leadership and inspiration to a city that simply has been disappointed for many years by the Russo and Roberts administrations.

Encourage your neighbors to register. Every vote counts in this election.

As many of you know, I run the Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken, but I also run the Philadelphia Phillies Club, too.

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This is our 3rd year in Hoboken, and i'm looking forward to our season. To those Phillies fans in Hoboken, if you want to come out and watch the game we gather on FRIDAY nights , here's the schedule at Mulligan's for the season:

Friday, April 17 San Diego at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, April 24 Philadelphia at Florida, 7:10 PM

Friday, May 1 NY Mets at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, May 8 Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, May 15 Philadelphia at Washington, 7:05 PM

Friday, May 29 Washington at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, June 5 Philadelphia at Los Angeles, 10:10 PM

Friday, June 12 Boston at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, June 19 Baltimore at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, July 3 NY Mets at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, July 10 Pittsburgh at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, July 17 Philadelphia at Florida, 7:10 PM

Friday, July 24 St. Louis at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, July 31 Philadelphia at San Francisco, 10:15 PM

Friday, August 7 Florida at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, August 14 Philadelphia at Atlanta, 7:35 PM

Friday, August 21 Philadelphia at NY Mets, 7:10 PM

Friday, August 28 Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, September 4 Philadelphia at Houston, 8:05 PM

Friday, September 11 NY Mets at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM

Friday, September 18 Philadelphia at Atlanta, 7:35 PM

Friday, September 25 Philadelphia at Milwaukee, 8:05 PM

Friday, October 2 Florida at Philadelphia, 7:05 PM


It's a loooong season. And just remember that Friday nights are Phillies nights at Mulligan's. We will have the same specials that we have for the Eagles club, $2 Yuengling and $2 Bud Light drafts during the game, along with $10 buckets of Bud Light bottle.

Nova Nation: Unite!

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I'm throwing another gathering at Mulligan's bar. Expect the tempo to be high and the beer to be cold.

Mulligan's will host the Villanova Wildcat Alumni on Saturday 4/4. Those rooting for Villanova will get $2 Yuenglings and Bud Light drafts, along with $10 buckets of Bud Light bottles.
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The sound of the game will be on in the "Pool Room" and the rest of the bar will be showing the game on the 8 other HDTVs with music playing. Tip off is at 8:47 PM EST, and I would suggest showing up EARLY if you expect to get a seat. Note that the "back bar" is hosting a private party, and public entry will be for the front bar.

Quick Hits

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Still wracking my brain for a "good thing to write about". Nothing incredibly new since St. Pats, so a day of quick hits...random thoughts, etc...

My brother turned 40 on Saturday.

His wife arranged a surprise birthday party in DC, and my whole family arrived at a restaurant called "Marrakesh", along with some of his friends and his wife's family.

It was an interesting Moroccan restaurant, with belly dancers and traditional fare. I liked the food, and discovered a very good beer that they had called "Almaza". It was ice cold and I drank three of them in quick succession. Gotta see about grabbing a 6 pack for my fridge around here.

Back to the gym

I somehow had a strange injury to my chest that was driving me nuts. I was on anti inflammatories from December to January and stopped with all workouts since late October.

I haven't gained "more" weight, but definitely feel the effects of not working out and eating badly. Feel...flabby. Not like I was rock hard before, but you start to notice the change with clothes not fitting the same.

Well, been back on the treadmill in my condo gym for about 2 weeks. Just slowly getting myself back into cardio shape and then will see about going to Club H in April. I hate lifting again after a long break. Back to struggling with low weight barbells. Sigh.


Villanova to the sweet 16!

I hated the fact that when I went to Villanova, it's social scene was terrible. From what I heard it's much better today, and often get quizzical looks from recent graduates when I tell them how much I hated it.

But I did love the basketball program, and have followed it since I graduated. Looking forward to Duke vs Villanova on Thursday. Very cool to see so many Big East teams representing this year.

Xbox players: Buy Fallout3

Was told about this game by Brad. Bought it. It sucked me in and I was playing non-stop for every free moment I had for about 2 weeks until I finished the game. You need to like RPG games with first person shooters to get into it. Lots of exploring, fighting and the ability to either be good or evil as a player. I liked this a lot.

Trying to figure out a vacation spot

I want to go on vacation, since I won't be going to Bradley Beach this year. I'd like a vacation that's warm, prefer a beach. Prefer not incredibly expensive. Prefer not to be isolated or on some island where it's all couples (read: Aruba). I always liked Las Vegas, but I am leaning towards just doing something...different. If there was a fun Caribbean island like Vegas or a Miami hot spot or a place in Mexico that's fun for someone in my situation (read: single, a guy, looking for a fun time, but not a frat party).

Any ideas? I wonder if there's some Greek party islands like Kos, Ios, Mykonos, Crete...but closer to America. Seems that most islands are for couples celebrating. Thought about doing Club Med Turkoise, but not 100% sure if that's for me.

Open to suggestions, you can email me at philly2hoboken (at) gmail.com.

Scotch Tasting?

Everyone has wine tasting in Hoboken, and I was toying with the idea of doing a scotch tasting in Hoboken. Been kicking that idea for the last two years, since I got turned on to scotch. Seems to me that a more sophisticated crowd is replacing many of the younger kids in Hoboken, and with that tastes have become more discerning.

I'm not a scotch expert, but would love to try to put something together, where you get 8 "tastes" of scotch from varying regions of Scotland. Was trying to figure out costs and logistics. Paul from Mulligan's offered me his bar, so that's good. But also have to figure out if it would go over well. I'm sure people ARE interested, but how far does that interest go? With the economy and many people in Hoboken being frugal, not sure if I can get 20 people to pay $35-45 each to try 7 good scotches and 1 superb scotch.

Would you do a scotch tasting? What would you pay ($0 isn't an option)?

Hoboken Mayor Race

Lots of strong emotions in this race for mayor. Right now i'm leaning towards voting for Zimmer. People point to her lack of experience, but everyone voted in Obama for President just a few months ago, who was also just a community organizer only a few years ago.

The key to Hoboken is the facts. We have many people all clamoring to get paid. The police, firemen, city workers and other city costs. We have taxpayers crying about paying too much money. We have a system that needs to be corrected.

We need to look at state averages for salary. What does a police officer in NJ get paid? What does a firemen in NJ get paid? Hey, my grandfather was a cop. I'm pro-police and pro-firemen. I'm all for paying my taxes to have the proper force in place for our safety.

We need insiders and outsiders to look at our structure, the employees, and say "Does this make sense" for a city of 1 square mile to pay $35 million a year (nearly 1/3 of our budget) in payroll and retirement to our first responders.

But i'm also someone who thinks with logic, that we need to be fiscally responsible with the city workers and with our tax payers. We need to understand why people who have been living in their house since the 70's pay taxes from 1970 and people who have new construction pay the "new taxes". There needs to be a reassessment of all property taxes, for everyone with transparency for all to see.

We need to end PILOTS now, and any new renewals need to be stopped. We have plenty of people who want to live here and lots of available housing in Union City, Weehawkin or Jersey City for those who don't want to pay the premium of living in Hoboken. We can't put the burden on just homeowners, the renters in PILOT buildings need to start paying their fair share, too.

What can you do?

Simple. Vote. In a town of 40,000 people only 4,000 actually vote. When I was renting I voted, too. Sadly, I voted for Dave Roberts, thinking he was so much better than Russo. Dave was just a criminal in a different form...paying all his cronies and friends with hidden funds that he pushed forward for us to pay today.

They say that the darkest part of the night is just before the dawn.

Ironic saying, now that we have Dawn Zimmer running for mayor. If you can, take the time to get to know all the candidates and make an informed vote.

St. Patrick's Day was this weekend in Hoboken. It's my 14th year in town, and every year it seems that more and more young people come into town to celebrate.

Personally, I don't care about the kids having fun. I guess that's because i'm not married and don't have kids and still care about having F-U-N. Most of the people that are against banning the parade are the same people that 10 years ago were throwing up or pissing in the alley, but now that they have kids they are typically selfish yuppies who want the world to revolve around them.

Hey, I don't care if the kids want to have a good time. If people in your building trashed your courtyard, maybe YOU should take responsibility and have your condo board or building management make swift decisions banning parties on holidays. My condo board was smart enough to deliver fliers to each resident saying basically "Have fun but if you bother any neighbors, the cops are coming and you will be fined by the condo board."

Surprise, surprise - our 100 unit building was on lockdown and everything went just swimmingly.

This year for the parade, I wasn't bartending. I stopped working at Mikie Squared last April, since I had a shore house at Bradley Beach & just didn't pick up a new shift when the summer was over.

I skipped taking pictures of the parade this year. I figure I wasn't missing anything new that I didn't have from 2007 or 2008. I went to a few parties, met a few friends, and around 4pm, wandered over to my 'local' - Mulligan's.

Over the years, if you know me, I have had a few locals. Hennessy's, Farside, Moran's, Dipper's were all my homes away from home at one point of time in my Hoboken life. Now it's Mulligan's. The bartenders are great, the owner is always kind and the people I meet there are the down-to-earth kind of people that I enjoy hanging out with.

Plus, it doesn't hurt that my Eagles and Phillies clubs operate out of the same bar.

I went over to the bar, and talked to Paul, the owner, for a bit. We chatted, and he says "Hey, did you have your bar card?"

Now to those who don't know, in Hoboken to work in a bar you need a "bar card". I wrote about it a bit before, but it's basically a license to work in a bar in Hoboken. Or as I call it the "Bartender Tax" because you need to renew it every 2 years and pay over $100 for the renewal.

I had my card at home, which is a few blocks away, and he asked me to get it. I figured that he needed me to help for a bit, and I grabbed the card and came back.

Paul said, "Ok, here's the deal. I had another bouncer working here but he was an idiot and started to accept money from patrons outside trying to get inside and circumvent the line at the front door. The shift is until closing and i'll pay you XXX dollars."

I was fine with that. I figure i'd help out Paul who has been great to the Eagles & Phillies club and some extra money never hurts. I was hoping it was only going to be a few hours and not the whole night, but whatever.

It was pretty easy work, but ran into a few issues, which I will just list in no particular order, with how to deal if you are in this situation (in reverse):

1. On a parade day you get a lot of grief as a bouncer. I don't know everyone, especially VIPs (friends of the owners or regulars) - so I got a bunch of people giving me grief when I wouldn't let them in. I'd just send them over to the head bouncer and if he said OK, i'd let them in. That was the first annoyance.
How to deal: Ok, you are Joe VIP, personal friends of someone. Just ask me when i'm free to go inside and ask Paul or whoever if they know them. I did that on a few occasions if they asked nicely enough and in some circumstances got "yes" or "no" if they should bypass the line. It's not the bouncers fault they don't know you.

2. Secondly, you get plenty of people from out of town who get separated from their friends, who are inside, and then they give me a sob story (usually chicks) about how "All my friend are inside and I CAN'T GET IN!!!". I tell them they have to wait in line and pay the cover. I usually get more grief from them over this.
How To Deal: Really this is a bit more tricky. One person was a complete bitch to me, and I gave her my full wrath, which really shouldn't be reprinted here. Another little Indian girl was all alone, pouting and she waited a good 30 minutes outside until I finally broke down and let her in. She wasn't necessarily nice about it, but she was persistent and didn't try to berate me.

3. People who came up to me with "Hey man I was JUST IN THERE can I get back in." Um, no. They all got shot down unless I, or someone else, remembered them leaving. It was hard to remember everyone, but I did my best.
How To Deal: I had people admit to me, when I shot them down, that "Yea, dude, i was lying, sorry....but can you let me in anyhow?" - They still didn't get in. Wait in line, pay the cover.

4. Someone was dumb enough to get into a fight. How? Well, they brought INTO the bar a can of beer. Opened it right next to the bouncer (not me), which sprayed all over the place and into the bouncer's face. Not only was bringing the beer in a no-no, but the fact that the bouncer got doused in beer didn't help matters. The offender was escorted out, but started to lean back and give the bouncer trouble, and then the offender's friend jumped the bouncer. Melee starts at the back door, and who is standing right there? Me. Once again...I just grab one of the dudes, and put him into a Three-quarter nelson, like I did a month ago, except this time I have my arm around his neck in a choke hold. He struggled with me at first, but I released some tension when I heard him start to have trouble breating and since my head was next to his just whispered in his ear, "Calm down dude, i'm the bouncer."
How To Deal: Ya got 5 bouncers outside a bar, the way to deal is back down. He did & we let him leave without stomping his head into the pavement.

5. You don't know anyone working at the bar. You want to bypass the line. How?
How To Deal: If you are a girl, cute, and have cute girl friends, you really shouldn't have to wait in line - most smart owners or bouncers will just let you in. If you are a guy - bring cute girls to the bar. One lone dude was outside the bar and asked if his girlfriend and her friend could get in. I asked "Are they hot?". He said yes and pointed them out. Easily they two hottest girls in Hoboken and they were all inside in a heart beat without paying a cover (Yes, I was given the approval to do this ahead of time). Why? It's good for the bar. You want cute girls in the bar. I couldn't help to think about the club scene from the movie "Knocked Up" while I was doing this.

Quick segue: My buddy told me a story a few weeks ago. His wife had a bachelorette party. She was going to get 15 of her girlfriends, in their late 20's up to the city and wanted to go out to a bar. She knows a few promoters, made a phone call - and they were set up. All 15 were going to a popular club, provided with free table service & booze, and they don't wait in line or pay a cover.

I was a bit shocked at this. What? No cover? They don't pay for drinks?

My friend looked at me and shrugged. "That's the way the world works, dude. The bars want 15 young, cute girls dancing in their clubs. Doesn't matter if they are married or have boyfriends or whatever, but they don't make their money from the girls...they make it from the guys who go there, pay a cover, pay for bottle service, buy drinks for the girls..."

I shook my head. Must be a wonderful city if you are a girl and know how to play the game.

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful. A girl did come up to me and say "You are that guy...right...the blogger...philly to hoboken, right?" - not sure how she recognized me, but that made me chuckle.

Also, I did get to hook up a few of my friends, which is another side benefit to bouncing. Like I wrote about the VIPs, there are the VIPs in my life, who take care of me and I take care of them. I saw them in line, picked them out of the line, walked them up to the front and into the bar to the chagrin of the rest of the people waiting.

This was my guide in 2008, and still relevant for 2009. Repost from last year, and a few edits. Good luck this weekend, and have fun!

This may be your first parade or maybe your 30th, and here's some advice from little old me, a resident of Hoboken for the last 14 years.

Hoboken St. Patrick's Day Parade from 2008:

1. Please read my Bar Etiquette Guide. The basics for that day is that every round you order should get a tip ( if you order five Guinness throw down a $5 bill - maybe a little more if you are adding shots). I wouldn't suggest a bar tab on a parade day, unless you really know the bartender well. Buybacks on parade day definitely happen, and I always look for good customers (The customers who say, "Please", "Thank you" and not "HEY PAL!" or "CHIEF" while waving money) & good patrons (the customers who are putting money into our register & also our tip jar) to throw them an extra round.

2. Get in the spirit. Nothing is worse on St. Patty's day to see the two guys wearing black leather coats and sipping their Coors Lights in the corner like a bunch of stooges. Ya gotta have something green to wear in your closet - wear it! Who cares if you weren't born Irish - everyone is Irish on St. Patty's Day!

3. Have fun, but don't be an fool. I can't stress this enough. You can be an idiot drinking for most of the other 364 days of the year. If you have been living under a rock, here it is again: Hoboken has a zero tolerance policy on open containers on parade day. Result? $1,000 fine. No second chances. I'm sure that their zero tolerance will also apply to many other wonderful laws like public urination, disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. If you can't handle your drink, stay at home on parade day.

4. You want to drink like a pro? Follow my easy advice: 1 pint of water for every 2-3 drinks of alcohol. Yes, hard to remember when you are getting bombed, but most of my friends know to do this. Don't worry about snide remarks from your douchebag friends. When they are kneeling to the porcelain God at 9am Sunday morning, you will be in much better shape, I swear.

5. Do not, under any circumstances combine painkillers (Tylenol, Advil, Motrin, etc) with alcohol. It's a nice way to destroy your liver at an early age. Far too many newbies pop two painkillers before bed after a day of drinking, and don't realize that they are doing even more damage to their liver & stomach than drinking does alone. It's like eating french fries and drinking a cup of grease. To avoid hangovers, you must hydrate and follow rule #4. If you forget to drink during the day, drink two large pints of water before bed. You may wake up at 5am to pee (if you do, have another pint of water), but it will definitely help the hangover (until you turn 32 and the water remedy starts to fail).

6. The following songs must be banned from St. Patrick's Day: House of Pain, "Jump Around"; Black 47, "Funky Ceili". I'm sure there are more. I moderately tolerate Metallica playing "Whiskey In the Jar". Anything by the Dropkick Murphys is allowed. Playing even Irish Folk music sounds great to me versus some of the old, tired rock songs that only show up on St. Patty's Day.

7. If you are attending the parade, just realize that the "height" of the parade is from about 12pm to 4pm. If you are smart, just find one bar and stay there. Waiting for an hour in line at a bar during the prime time hours is a terrible idea. You should call all your friends now and choose a local pub NOW. Get there at 10am, and get in line (don't be those people who are on the street at noon and whining about the lines). When the bars open at 11am, 022808.jpgget inside, and stay there. Around 4pm you can leave the bar, get some food, recharge a bit and then drink some more. I know lots of bars in town that are selling tickets or having private parties because there are far too many stupid kids from out of town on Saturday, and they don't want the headaches from dealing with them.

8. Most bars basically die out around 10pm on Saturday. In years past only the hard charging pros were able to drink all day and night. So don't expect to go to a house party in the day and then drinking in Hoboken that night. Just not gonna happen. The real party at bars in Hoboken is in the afternoon.

9. Take public transportation if you don't live in town. Parking in Hoboken is a bitch. On a day like this, it's beyond bad, and you can be looking to park for an hour while your friends are sending you text messages from the bar.

10. This is a great day to meet people. Go out. Be social. Buy someone a drink. Smile and say hello to everyone. Be friendly with the bartenders, old people, dogs, cats, turtles, policemen and policewomen. Having a good attitude will reap huge benefits on days like this. No one wants to talk to the angry guy or primadonna girl. Don't posture like you are those "tough guys" from D'jais on njguido.com. Also a good day to have your rejection hotline number handy for the creeps! Don't know it? The number for NJ is (201) 808-6011. New York City is (212) 660-2245.

Bonus for 2009: Don't forget that this Sunday "morning" at 2am the clock spring forward to 3am!

Five Places To Mention...

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It's a snowy Monday, and here are five places that deserve a brief write up...

Sweet (343 Garden St): I have a fairly big sweet tooth. Love me some chocolate Juniors by Tastykake. My second favorite treat are the cupcakes at Sweet. Even if you are on a diet, you are allowed that one "cheat day", right? Make sure you cheat here. Try the Red Velvet cupcakes, you will thank me even if you curse your waistline.

Vito's (806 Washington St): Every Saturday I walk over there and grab a London broil with mozzarella (mutz!) sandwich - it's a 10 minute walk for me from Newark and Clinton, but so worth it. The trick to this sandwich is going no later than 2pm. The London broil dries out a bit when it's sitting all day. If you get there by or before noon, it's perfection. I have been to Fiore's on Saturdays multiple times for their roastbeef. I keep finding myself wanting the London Broil for Vito's more. Luca Brasi's, which is 2 blocks from my condo, is woefully average when compared to Vito's or Fiore's.

Napoli's Brick Oven Pizza (1118 Washington St): Before I begin, pizza is like talking about cars. Some people like sportscars. Some like SUV's. Some like luxury cars. The same is true about pizza, everyone has an opinion on slice thickness, sauce flavor, cheese, etc. So it will be hard for me to convince people that this is the "best" pizza in Hoboken. But I can only thank Hoboken411 for writing about it. I would have never discovered this gem. Excellent, thin, brick oven pizza, and far better than Grimaldi's.

Energy Kitchen (96 Hudson St): When I start feeling guilty for eating cupcakes and pizza, I will head over here to make myself feel better. Love the turkey meatloaf, with low sodium marinara. Usually add some spinach and lentil soup to complete the meal. Super protein power punch meal, perfect for a post-workout meal. It doesn't come cheap, but i'm someone that is willing to pay a few extra $$ for a nutritious meal versus saving some money and buying a Subway sandwich.

First Street Cafe & Deli (263 1st St): Mustafa! That's my man behind the counter and he's always in a good mood. Love grabbing a breakfast sandwich from him on Sundays, and he's a super nice guy. I stopped going to Bagel Smashery, and been his regular customer for a year now. The Bagel Smashery people could learn a lesson or two from Mustafa and his casual, kind attitude.

There you go. Try those places if you haven't been there yet.

Chapter 9 Bankruptcy For Hoboken?

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Well things are going to hell in a hand basket for Hobokenites. The HUMC (Hoboken University Medical Center) appears to be hemorrhaging money. Taxpayers are demanding union givebacks. People are clamoring for a property tax revaluation, claiming the system is uneven.

408 years ago, Shakespeare wrote "something is rotten in the state of Denmark", and I think the same could be said for our city today.

Rather than bore you with details, I will stress again, we need to analyze where Hoboken's money is coming from and where it is being spent. We need more transparency. We need to use national averages as a tool for negotiating contracts, not contracts that were written up behind closed doors by friends and family members on both sides of the negotiating table.

Taxpayers are concerned, and misinformation is rampant. I think we all need to realize that we are in a huge mess here and the old ways of doing things isn't going to work anymore. If we continue down this road, you know what will happen? Hoboken declares bankruptcy. The 'collective bargaining agreements' that the unions hide behind become moot, when old contracts can become invalid (a state judge decides this).

Vallejo, California voted (the city council did this, 7-0 by the way) to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy did this in September 2008 when police, fire and public employee contracts became a problem.

Remember, people. Its revenue versus income. If you are on the side of public employees, then we have to reassess our city property taxes for everyone. If you are on the side of taxpayers, then we have to analyze where the money is being spent - we have to ask how did our budget balloon to $121 million? Vallejo spent 74 percent of its $80 million general fund budget on public safety salaries, which was significantly higher than the state average.

I'm on both sides, even if my friends don't see it that way. I feel for those city workers who have families to feed. I feel for the taxpayers. But we can't continue down this road with the "same old" Hoboken philosophy. I don't think we are at the point where we need to declare Chapter 9. But if we keep doing nothing, then we will.

Haste

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Hoboken has a fiscal crisis. We went from a budget of around $50 million to around $120 million in a very short period of time. It's not like we didn't know this was coming.

This needs to be fixed.

What will fix it?

I'm not sure. I am not a member of city council. I'm not a fireman. I'm not a policeman. I'm not a city worker. I'm a taxpayer. I'm a homeowner that was paying his taxes last year for services and amongst the other taxpayers who are paying up to 84% more in taxes. We have to address this tax burden.

Something is wrong with that.

I don't know what the solution is, i'm not an accountant. But, I think it is in the best interest of everyone within Hoboken, from taxpayer to city worker, to analyze our current fiscal situation. Then, we need to come up with solutions that make sense for everyone. Everyone, being the taxpayers and the hard working employees of our town.

We need to review the following:

1. Are we taxing properly?
Are the city taxes (property, commericial, industrial) in line with where we should be in 2009? Or are taxpayers still getting taxed like it's 1979. We need to review this.

2. Are we utilizing our taxes properly?
We need to review where the money is going. To all departments and services. We need to use national averages and other cities as an example to get proper baselines for the use of our funds. We need to make sure there is proper use of our subsidized housing to ensure the right people are living there.

That's all. How this will affect everyone, from taxpayers to city workers, should be done in a fair, logical, but compassionate way. There are people, from taxpayers to city workers, who are rightfully concerned about this situation.

But something has gone massively wrong in our town that I have lived in for 14 years. We can't look at the budget today and think that a 100+% increase is normal. Something must be done.

Philly2Hoboken's Best Of 2008

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A new year approaches and I figure it's time to update the site with a new design. What do you think?

I know some of of my readers check this site daily and some just check in from time to time. But here's the entries I wrote over the last year, and think you should check out if you missed it!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! Also I updated my site. Try to comment if you can...I think they have been fixed. If not just email me and I will keep trying to fix it.

Body Balance Review: I wrote this last year, but they have new owners and a special until 1/3/09, $59 for 1 hour massage and $80 for a 1.5 hour massage. You should really treat yourself and get a massage here. It's great!

Omaha Bedding Company: Bed lumpy? Not getting a good night's sleep? My bed is redunkulously awesome. Check these guys out.

Put Up Your Dukes! - I'm many things, but I don't back down easily. Another amusing story about the trouble with alcohol.

St. Patrick's Day Advice - Good even during Christmas. I'm still hoping one day to meet that girl in the pink shirt and fedora.

Ego & Self Worth On The Internet - Do you read Hoboken411 or any other site with heavy commenters? Tell me that this entry doesn't sum up all those commenters.

Good Manners In The Big City - a friend and I were trying to understand what's the problem with the world and I think it's just that Generation X doesn't have any consideration for anyone else. It doesn't matter if you are single, married or a parent with a behemoth baby stroller...too many assholes that don't care enough about each other.

Snacks For the Active Hobokenite - I know this is the time of the year for diets...read this. Seriously. Small changes in your diet with great food = keeping the pounds off. I know far too many people who change to a radical diet, it lasts three months and they are miserable again. My key word is "moderation".

Vera Gets Serenaded - our neighbor at Bradley Beach was never the same again, after my singing performance to her.

Top 5 Rules For Shore Roommates - one year at the shore, and i'm already making rules. I had a good time at Bradley Beach this year, I should be back next year. Now is the time to plan for those things!

Top Five Casual Restaurants That Would Own in Hoboken - I stand by all of this. Problem with most restaurants in Hoboken is that they are woefully average and often inconsistent with the quality of their food.

World Series Game 5 Video At Mulligan's - if you haven't seen this video, it was taken at Mulligan's right at the moment the Phillies won the World Series. Easily one of the favorite moments of my life, it was a sea of joy and happiness. The song that comes on is Queen, "We Are The Champions". Great job by the crew at Mulligan's to play the song and hand out bottles of champagne for us to spray the crowd.

Blogging Is Dead. Long Live The New Facebooking! - Do my descriptions sound like anyone you know? :)

I went to a local pub yesterday and sat down after work. I wanted to try their food there, and figured i'd have a beer and relax at the bar. I chatted with the bartender a bit, since I knew her when I was a bartender at Mikie Squared.

The food was good pub grub, and the Yuengling draft went down smoothly. I enjoyed watching a bit of CNN and ESPN on the flat screen TVs, while I chatted her up a bit, catching up on old times.

I was finished eating and I whipped out my card, asking the bartender to put my tab on the card. She turned to the register, checked my tab and turned around, with a half-smile / half-frown of someone about to tell me something I didn't want to hear and said: "Hey, Sean, sorry we have a $20 minimum purchase rule here with credit cards."

Minimum purchase?

I was fairly sure, but not positive, that, to ask for a minimum purchase it was violating their contract agreement with the credit card companies. I started to tell her about it, but she shrugged her shoulders saying, "The owners makes the rules, and they give me grief if I try to charge anything less. Sorry."

I didn't have any cash on me. They had one of those cheap ATM machines in the bar, and the closest "normal" bank (and not my bank) ATM was a few blocks away. The bar ATM or the local bank would charge me $2 per transaction. Plus, it was just inconvienent for me.

I wasn't about to get her in trouble over this. I know the owner, not very well, but I am on a first name basis, and I don't know if he will even care enough to do anything if I complain to him. I could report his business to the credit card companies, but I don't know if I even want to bother.

It wasn't the $2 fee. It wasn't even getting up, using the ATM. What happened to the customer coming first? Is the poor bar owner really going to cry over credit card fees when the markup on drinks is ridiculous*?

*Quick segue: Think about it. The price of a 1/2 keg of Coors Light, as an example. It costs $73.99 for us "regular people", and i'm sure a bar owner gets a better rate because of bulk discounts from distributors. So maybe it is $62 a keg. A keg holds 124 pints (16 oz.) of beer. Lets do the fun math. $62 for a keg, divided by 124 beers = .50 cents a glass. Remember that next time you are drinking a $4 glass of Coors Light at your local pub, and the owner makes $434 profit per keg (124 x $4 glass minus $62 cost per keg...not including spillage) .

What would you do? Feel free to email me at philly2hoboken at gmail.com and tell me!

Feast of the Madonna Dei Martiri 2008

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The Feast of the Madonna Dei Martiri procession on Sunday September 7th, 2008 marches in Hoboken.

Fleet Feet

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Fleet Feet
604 Washington St
Hoboken, NJ 07030
(201) 533-1200

I started my interval training, and I noticed that my shins (in both legs) were getting very sore by the fourth week of running. I made sure I was stretching right, targeting my hamstrings, quads, glutes and calves before and after each run. Yet, I still found that I was plagued with shin splints, and remembered that when I ran track (briefly) in high school that the same thing would happen but eventually they would go away.

Of course that was 20 years ago, and it didn't seem to be getting better as I ran. I took the last week off from running, and did some on line research. Aside from HOW I ran, and HOW I stretched, many sites also mentioned that your running shoes could be the culprit.

My Nike shoes were in good shape, but I bought them about 4 years ago when I first joined Club H, and really just didn't do much research into the shoes. I figured they were by Nike, they were running shoes, and they cost over $100 - so they must be good.

Little did I realize that there are many factors that go into buying the correct running shoe, and we all have different biomechanics and foot shape that affect what shoes we should wear. There were online sites that had various recommendations to guide me, but most said the same thing: "visit a biomechanics expert or experienced shoe retailer" when choosing a good running shoe.

I orginally wanted to just figure it out myself, and buy something online, and asked a friend what were his running shoes. He said "Asics. I buy them at Fleet Feet, I think they take the time to fit your foot properly...my wife swears by them, plus it's a small business in Hoboken providing something different, I like to support that stuff."

Last night, I stopped by the store, which was located on 6th and Washington to see if they could help. I was greeted by the employee, and he asked if he could help - and started to talk to him about running, my running style and what I was looking for (including my problems with my shins). He listened to what I had to say, and I told him that I was interested in Asics (Nimbus-10 to Cumulus-10), and he agreed that Nimbus were a good brand to look at, but first said we should measure my feet and see how I walked.

I have always been the same side shoe over the years, but what I didn't take into consideration was the flexibility of my arch. A "normal" foot has an arch, which also gives (flexes) when you put weight on it. Some people have flat feet, which is when there is no arch to the foot, and others have high arches.

There's also pronation, which is the rolling motion of the foot from heel to toe and you can determine pronation by the wear on the rubber sole of your shoes. Neutral is an even roll, Underpronation is when the outside of the foot absorbs more weight and overpronation is when the inside of the foot takes the majority of the weight - and the wear of the insides or soles of your shoes will help determine this.

These were things that I never really considered when buying a running shoe. I figured shoes were shoes, and it was a bit of an eye opening experience. After working with Shawn, who later I found out was the owner of the store, he knew which shoes would work for me, and we tried on a bunch of shoes from Brooks, Asics and Mizuno. He showed me one model of each maker which were the "intermediate" shoes and one model which were a bit more "advanced".

I had six pairs of shoes in front of me, and I tried on each shoe, feeling how the length and width of the shoe fit my foot. I found that the Asics were a bit more narrow than I liked, but very soft on my feet. The Brooks were good, but I wasn't super impressed. By the time I tried on the Mizuno, I felt like my feet were leaping off the ground and ready to run.

I was even encouraged to try a "test run" with the shoes, and I walked outside, and ran a half block down Washington street, stopping at East LA. The shoes felt really good, and I wanted to go running right away!

I went back to the store, and asked Shawn that they felt good and he told me a few things about buying from Fleet Feet.

First, if you buy them and in the next few days find that the shoes are uncomfortable, you can always come back and return the shoes for an exchange of something new. I really liked that because I was afraid of buying shoes and making the wrong choice. For example, the Asics felt great but they had a more "cushiony" feel to them. The Mizuno were more "springy" to me, as if they propelled me forward with each step. So I was happy that I bought with Fleet Feet versus buying from an online site that may not have such a flexible return policy.

Second, they keep track of your purchase history at Fleet Feet, and once you spend $250 at their store, they send you a $50 gift certificate. That's a nice way of rewarding customer loyalty.

Third, Fleet Feet isn't just some faceless corporate entity. The local running clubs HoHa and The Mile Square Running Club include Fleet Feet & other locations in Hoboken as their local starting point. Both clubs are co-ed, social and always looking for new members of various ages and running paces.

I was really impressed after leaving the store and happy with my new purchase. I was glad I went to a local store to get properly fitted, rather than guessing at a shoe from an online store.

Junior's Papaya on Saturday

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On my way home Saturday night, after bartending at Mikie's, I stopped in Junior's Papaya Grill for a late night snack.

It is a new business in town, and just starting to get their "legs". I tried the sliders last week, and they were very good, with a fresh bun, juicy burger and yummy sauteed onions. The french fries, with cheese, were a bust for being undercooked and bland.

When I walked in, I saw the employees in there and "A Someone".

I put "A Someone", because it was clear as soon as I walked in this had to be a manager or owner, just by the way they were acting. I ordered my food, sat down, and waited a bit, while I sat in the mostly empty lounge at 2am on Saturday night.

After watching the Someone, and seeing him pass by my table, I blurted out, "So, are you a manager or an owner?"

He turns and sheepishly says, "I'm the owner."

I started to chat with him a bit, asking if he read his reviews on Hoboken411, and the comments by the people. He said he had read the site, and asked if I owned it. I explained that I knew the owner, and I merely contributed some of my content from philly2hoboken.com to their site.

I asked if he knew about the negative comments about his french fries. I told him that the french fries were too inconsistent, some people said they got them well done and some said (like me) that they were undercooked. I told him that one of the most important things he needs to stress with his employees is having a consistent product - from hot dogs to burgers to french fries. I mentioned that people may dislike many things about McDonalds, but the consistency of their product is key to their growth.

He agreed, and asked what I ordered. I told him I got the sliders and cheese fries again, and he called back to his employees to make sure the fries were "well done".

We spoke a bit more, he explained that his business partners were "friendly" with the Grey's Papaya people in New York City, but it wasn't associated with them.

Also went on to tell me that they are thinking of doing a Saturday & Sunday brunch. I told him that ever since mid-town Diner shut down that the mid-town would love to have a greasy spoon kind of diner back again. I said that an idea he should think of is having breakfast available, along with the regular menu, on late-Friday and late-Saturday nights for the late night revelers.

The owner was nice enough to throw in a sample of his fried perogies, and gave me a cup to sample his fruit beverages (papaya, pina colada, orange cream). I thought the fruit beverages weren't bad at all, even if the papaya was a bit weak (he explained that someone must have mixed it wrong).

I thanked him for his time, and told him that I thought once the word got out there that he would draw a good late night crowd. I brought the perogies down to Mulligan's and had Tommy the bartender & his pals try them out, along with me. The perogies were a hit, and i'll probably order them next time I get over there.

Neumann Leather Building: Spin City

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Monday night, myself and other tenants from my condo gathered in our fitness room (which serves as our temporary conference room), to listen to Dean Marchetto (Architect) and representatives of Trammel Crow Residential (Developer) present their vision of developing land where the Neumann Leather Building is located at 300 Observer Highway.

If you haven't heard, they are In Contract. I decided to make this in a FAQ form, for easy understanding of what they told us, and what I can remember the residents asking. There were lots of questions and Mr. Marchetto and the representatives from TCR were extremely considerate, patient and forthcoming with their answers.

But I also added in a new element with The Spin Doctor, who will remain anonymous, contributing to my story. I planned to just write a FAQ, but the Spin Doctor, an avid reader of my site, saw it when I posted it and feared I was misled. So, I have the (Q)uestion, (A)nswer, and Spin Doctor (SD) comments. The answers were what the tenants were told at the meeting. The spin is what The Spin Doctor says about my answers (which are basically what TCR representatives Rich Murphy and Tricia Gutowski told me).

Spin Doctor: TCR and Marchetto are coming to Jefferson Trust seeking support because they are not getting it from inside the Neumann community or from key decision makers in the city. Many others who have seen the TCR proposal are against their plan to demolish the entire historic Neumann property, removing all buildings and existing uses in an unimaginative and destructive way. The Neumann Leather Tenants Association and Observer Highway Redevelopment Advisory Committee are working on plans to redevelop and revitalize Neumann Leather without destroying it.

Q: WHAT? The building is SOLD?!
A: Not sold yet, under contract. Under Contract means that TCR has made and offer and deposit on the property.
SD: Under contract also means if TCR can't come to a consensus on a plan to develop the site in whatever it considers a timely manner they can decide to take their losses and move on to the next project without paying the full purchase price for the Neumann Property.

Q: Oh great, another monstroustity is getting built? What are the details, man?
A: TCR claims it will be a 5 story building. They said that the building that's going up at the Municipal Garage, would dwarf this project. The city currently allows for larger buildings that line Observer Highway and they could have proposed "a 12 story design", but TCR was aware of the residental backlash against the urban sprawl currently going on in town and loves us, the people, so much.
SD: The city zoning code does NOT allow for 12 stories on the Neumann Leather property. 415 Newark was built through zoning variances, not current zoning. Neumann is currently zoned industrial, which allows buildings no higher than what you see there today. 12 stories is NOT currently allowed for the Neumann triangle.

Q: They are extending Clinton Street? That sucks!
A: TCR claims this is not correct and a "misperception of many residents". They aren't creating an "extension", it will be for pedestrians only and blocked for use by any vehicle traffic. Designed with cobblestones, trees and artisan street lamps, it will be more like a Italian plaza-esque design for the extension of the first floor commercial customers. It would be similar to what was done at 11th street at the Maxwell project.
SD: Do not fall for the line that Clinton Street will not be extended through the new project, because it will. TCR and Dean Marchetto can say they don't "plan" on it being a through street, but they know Hudson County is likely to insist on it if the city allows TCR to clear the entire Neumann property for development. Planners at the county and city level have been talking about connecting Newark and Observer via Clinton for decades. Newark and Observer are county roads and the type of redevelopment TCR is proposing at Neumann cannot be done without a county permit. When TCR applies for the permit, the county will tell them to drive the road through the property. Marchetto knows this, and this is why I believe he designed the project this way. One of the reasons given for the "need" to extend Clinton is to allow ambulances to get to Hoboken University Medical Center faster via a straight shot down Clinton. If it looks like a road, it's a road.

Q: That area is in a flood plain, anyone who buys there is so screwed.
A: That's true, it is in a flood plain and the architect and developers are well aware of this. First they plan to make a "Green" building, using many enviromentally friendly measures. The first floor will only have commericial zoning, or the garage. Dean Marchetto developed 300 Newark Street, which is across the street.
SD: Nearly all of Hoboken is in a flood plain. Lots of developers are saying they are building green buildings, but Dean Marchetto is also the architect of Dean Geibel's Metrostop building with all the "Think Green" ads you see. The truth is Metrostop is not even close to being a green building according to LEED standards. Don't just take a developer's word that they are building a "green" building. Ask for their LEED certification information.

Q: Are they condos or rentals? How many?
A: 275 Rentals. TCR is well aware of the current market and plans rental units. If the housing market changes, they may change that, too.
SD: This is what they say today, but as history shows us developers in Hoboken often start with plans that have a tendency to get bigger as the years go on.

Q: What will be on the first floor?
A: They have a (approx) 375 car garage, designed for 1.5 cars for every renter. They are fully aware that not every renter will own a car, but also very aware of the terrible parking situation in Hoboken, and are designing a building with easing street congestion.
SD: A 1.5 parking spot-per-renter ratio would be frowned upon by the city's planners. Besides, just because there are parking spots for every renter doesn't mean the new residents will use them. There are more than enough spots at the Archstone at 77 Park, but many renters balk at the $225 a month fee and just park on the street, adding to congestion.

Q: Wait! What if they have extra parking there? What will they do? Daily space rental? Monthly rental?
A: No definite plans with that action, but they were leaning against daily rentals.
SD: They will likely lease the parking to a contractor like Central Parking or Little Man, who will manage daily and monthly rental operations. Don't let them tell you otherwise. These are the economics of parking facilities in Hoboken.

Q: Any plans for a park or green space??
A: No plans for a park, but the rooftop will be a "green roof", with real grass rooftop. Neighbors looking down on the Neumann Leather building will see this.

Q: But Neumann Leather has STARVING ARTISTS!!! What of them?!
A: Actually, there is a plan to create a seperate building (it's located near the corner of Newark and Willow) which will be 5 stories and only house studio space for artists, which will be rented at below market costs.
SD: We are heaing TCR is reaching out to artists groups outside of Hoboken to supplant the artists who now have studios at Neumann. Their plan appears to be to remove everyone from their Neumann spaces, destroy the building and start anew. This will take several years, and people currently in Neumann may be unlikely to return if TCR turns the keys over to a "new" artists building to an outside group.

Q: What? That's bullshit, TCR wouldn't do that.
A: TCR reps made it very, very clear that the community angst was their main reason for the low building height, the artists studios (at below market prices to assist those current, real starving artists), the green building materials, and the Clinton Street pedestrian walkway.
SD: You were probably right the first time.

Q: What about the industrial people in Neumann Leather, what about them?
A: Sadly, there wasn't a plan to accomodate the industrial tenants.
SD: TCR has no plan to accommodate any existing tenants of Neumann Leather at this time, not just the light industrial tenants. No existing tenants have signed on with the TCR plan.

Q: What kind of commerical properties will TCR allow on the first floor? I don't want a McDonalds there! I don't want a nightclub/bar there! I don't want a restaurant with a liquor license there!
A: TCR stressed they were on the same page and weren't going to allow something like McDonalds, but would be amenable for something like a Starbucks (which I think is great). They would be interested in restaurants, but not interested in a liquor license variance. Maybe something like a gym could be located there (Wouldn't it be cool to have a Crunch Fitness located there? I think so. They wouldn't need a pool, they would have one instantly when it rains)
SD: If TCR says they are interested in providing space for restaurants there is nothing they can do to stop anyone from bringing a liquor license there. Any restaurateur who leases space in TCR's building could buy one of the available "pocket" liquor licenses and place it at Neumann. Hoboken has a 500 foot rule that bars restaurateurs from getting liquor licenses, but the next bar is far from Neumann Leather.

Q: If they allow commericial projects what about trash? We don't want litter all over the streets like Garden of Eden did on Bloomfield!
A: There are two internal loading docks designed in the building, unlike GoE which didn't have one. The one entrance will be on Willow between Newark and Observer Highway. The other will be on Newark, between Clinton and Grand. The design of the loading docks will be to minimize noise and parking issues that trucks create on such streets like Washington.

Q: TCR should just buy the land and make one big park!
A: TCR was farily blunt, but direct about their intentions. They aren't going to sugar coat it, they are a company that develops projects like this across the country. They designed this property with the intention of making most of the people happy, but realizing that not everyone in Hoboken is going to be happy. They are a company that, like any company in America, wants to realize a profit. They don't make money in litigation, they don't want to get tied up in a courtroom over this project. They want to make a project that will make their company money, and keep the surrounding residents content with their project.
SD: Which is why they are selling their project so hard to immediate neighbors, because it is not going over well with others in town.

Q: Couldn't you just keep the building intact and build rentals inside it like they did with other buildings in town?
A: Neumann Leather building is very old. It isn't up to current construction techniques that protects against earthquakes (yes, this is a law for our area). There's also enviromental contamination (asbestos, industrial chemicals that have been used there over the years), and when doing the demolition, they are very aware that they will be EXTREMELY careful about this. They won't implode the building, they have a plan for a controlled removal of the structure, to minimize dust and contamination.
SD: If an Earthquake hits Hoboken we are all in trouble. This is a non issue designed to obfuscate. As for environmental contamination, the extent of it is unknown at this point, but not considered to be significant. Neighbors would likely face greater jeopardy in the demolition of the site than they would from the rehabilitation of historic structures. This is a smokescreen.

Q: Do you have pictures?
A: They have pictures and floorplans. It isn't final yet, and I hope to get it up here soon.

Q: Who will manage the building?
A: TCR will have an on-site management company.

Q: Hoboken should stay like it did! Change is bad!
A: Yea, that's just not going to happen. TCR claimed that the city collects about $125,000 in taxes from the Neumann Leather site? With the new plan they project the city would collect about 10x in yearly taxes from the rentals and commerical customers. With our current fiscal situation in the city, this will contribute to helping Hoboken generate revenue.
SD: First of all, that $125k number does NOT come from the tenants. It comes from the property taxes paid by the owner of the property. The tenants themselves contribute millions to the Hoboken economy by employing people and being a part of the community they work and in many cases live in. These are your neighbors. As for the potential to bring in "ten times" the revenue to the city, studies have shown for every dollar in new residential ratable tax revenue gained, municipalities spend more than a dollar to provide essential services (trash/police/fire) for the new units.

Q: Why is TCR approaching the neighbors of this project? What's in it for them?
A: TCR is trying to learn from the mistakes of other developers and design a project that the majority of residents will find suitable, but also realizing that "you can't make all the people happy all the time". They want to create something that makes them a profit (This is America, folks), but also doesn't have the entire community up in arms over their project and trying to get it blocked (This is Hoboken, folks).
SD: That's a nice sounding story, but others believe they are approaching neighbors after receiving lackluster and negative responses to their plans from others who want to see the Neumann Leather complex fixed up and revitalized, not destroyed and replaced. The NLTA and OHRAC are working on alternative plans that they look forward to sharing with the residents of Jefferson Trust and the entire City of Hoboken.

Q: Why your condo building? How many people live in your condo?
A: We have 100 tenants (renters/owners) that live across the street at 300 Newark. TCR said they are meeting with neighbors about this, and had met Observer Place residents last week about it. In our building we had flyers put up in the hallways and at the elevators for days. About 15 residents showed up on Monday night at 7pm.

Q: Do they plan a similar public forum at City Hall?
A: We didn't ask this, but from the Spin Doctor, i'm sure they won't.

Halloween At Mikie's

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The owners of Mikie's decided that they will also throw another Halloween party for Wednesday October 31. It will be 1/2 priced well drinks and spooktacular beer special! Jello shots will be out again, and there will be a shot special. Hopefully there won't be a 6'6 cousin of Sasquatch in a Pirate outfit at the bar this time.

Welcome Back, Kotter!

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It was only a matter of time before he came back.

The man. The myth. The legend. Chris Schiraldi is back behind the taps, and here to serve the public.

You may remember Chris at Dipper's bar, serving you for years. He took a break from bartending, and it was like a scene from the Godfather: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in..."


He's back, and if you may not have met Chris behind the sticks, you should.

Easily the quintessential Hoboken bartender, with service, personality and charm that exude from his persona, and now he is a bartender at O'Donohughes on 1st street between Garden and Park.

Available on Thursday nights, his specials are $1 Yuengling drafts and $2 Coors Light Bottles.

Let me repeat this.

ONE DOLLAR YUENGLING DRAFTS.

Hello? One buck? Where else in town, on a Thursday night, can you get a beer, a good BEER like a Yuengling for ONE DOLLAR?!

Come down to O'Donohughes, have a beer, watch some baseball and see Chris in action.

You Have a Baby. . . in the Bar?

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This was written by a friend of mine, who we will call "Trish". She asked to write this for my site...please just remember someone else is writing this...lol...:

I know I am selfish. I know that I can barely keep my cats and myself alive, so I have no business getting a dog, or having a baby. In fact, I am fairly certain at 29 that I will probably be too selfish to have a child of my own ever. Maybe someday I will grow up, but I am not counting on it. At least I am self aware.

Since I am completely driven by my own desires, I can do whatever I want whenever I want, and one of my favorite things to do in Hoboken revolves around football. Every Sunday (or Monday night) for 16 weeks I show up at Mulligan's and sit in the back room cheering with 50-100 of my closest friends. A few weeks ago, an Eagles fan dubbed our Sunday meetings "The 700 Level." For those of you unfamiliar with the Eagles, The 700 Level refers to the upper deck in the Vet. The section was notorious for drunkenness, fighting and generally outlandish behavior. While we do not fight at Mulligan's, we are certainly loud and obnoxious (editor's note: Ummmmm, yea?), and the title is a good fit.

Most weeks I leave the bar with my voice reduced to a hoarse whisper and my ears nearly bleeding. In fact, it is not unlike the feeling I got when I walked out of Metallica concerts in the 90's, I am halfway deaf and have no voice. It is a GREAT time!

Knowing this type of debauchery is going on, imagine my surprise when halfway into the 3rd quarter a family walks into Mulligan's, a family with 2 small children, about ages 2 and 5. The kids seemed to be well behaved, I did not notice them crying (not that I would have heard them anyway) or being disruptive in any way. What I did notice, though, was that there were no seats for these kids, and that Mulligan's is a bar, not a bar/restaurant or a restaurant of any sort, just a straight up bar. I noticed that these kids came in following their parents and that they had no say in where their parents took them (the baby being in a carrier attached to the mother). I also noted the colorful vocabulary being used by the patrons as the Sillies lost and/or bad calls were made by the refs of the Eagles game.

Giving these people the benefit of the doubt, I figured they had no idea that their 5ish year old son was likely to get trampled if we started cheering wildly because no one would be looking down at the floor for a 3 apples tall person. I also figured that they must have walked in during a lull in the game and that they had not heard us chanting and singing. Most importantly, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and figured they would leave quickly once we got going.

I was wrong. What we actually had were two people who should never have had children at this point in their lives, bring their children into a situation that was unhealthy and potentially dangerous for them. These two were not young parents. Dad was clearly 10-15 years older than mom, and mom was in her early 30's. These people could not use youthful indiscretion as their excuse for their poor choice. In fact, it was clear that they had come to join a few of their friends, all of whom were in similar marital situations, but none of whom had brought any children with them.

My thought on this situation is this: When you have children, it is your responsibility to make sure that you care for them, and it is your responsibility to make sure that they are your #1 priority. It is incredibly obvious that if you want to go to a bar for the Eagles game, you need to get a sitter, even if you only stay for 30 or 40 minutes. The situation was dangerous, and it is clear that these two people were examples of incredibly selfish parents who put their own wants and needs in front of their children's well being. It makes me sick and my only regret is that I did not say something directly to their faces. I wish I had said something like "Are you here for your child's benefit, or your own?"

I can honestly say that when I asked my fellow Eagles fans if they had ever been to a bar at 5, every single one of them admitted that they had not. In fact, we all agreed that it was bad parenting that allowed these two buffoons to think it ok to have their children in that type of setting. And it was an absolute certainty that the kids did not want to be there. I watched as the 5 yr old first asked to go to the bathroom and then started pulling on his dad's arm to leave the bar. He was at the very least uncomfortable.

I have noticed that since smoking inside was banned in Hoboken, people have started treated bars like coffee shops and daycare centers. What needs to be considered and remembered by all is that bars are still a place of drunken debauchery and adult pleasures, and they really are no place for your children to receive an education in proper behavior. I am glad that the air inside is now clean enough for you to deem it breathable for your children, BUT, it must be noted that the people inside are still the types of people you do not want around your children. Drunks and children do not mix. And to be clear, I mean bars, I am certainly not talking about restaurants or even bar/restaurants with separate bar areas.

Children do not belong in bars, crowded or otherwise. Be responsible as a parent, or risk losing your children period. Next time I see something like this, I am going to say something, and then I will consider contacting the authorities. Grow up, or do not have children.

I usually check the Philly Pretzel Factory website "locations" list every few weeks, trying to see if someone was smart and and steal my million dollar idea...

Just open up a Philly Pretzel Factory in Hoboken, approach every bar in town about buying a box for football Saturdays and Sundays and rake in your money.

I'm telling ya, it will be gangbusters.

Well imagine my surprise, but we have one coming to town, thanks for Dave and Chris Chalmers. I don't know them. The address says "2 Newark Street", but I know that address and isn't that at the end of the block between the post office and the cigar store? Would be a good location, but I just can't see it being there and think it was a temporary address (or I could be wrong...)

Anyhow, very much hope they open very soon!!

The Cheese Store

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Hobokenites often lament that our town is losing its character and charm to every new chain store, bank and real estate office that seems to spring up on Washington Street every few months, but there are charming new businesses if you know where to look, like at 720 Monroe Street, home to The Cheese Store.

It is owned by Chung Park, 081907a.jpgwhose passion for the dairy culinary arts began because of fate. This passion began with a job many years ago at specialty store, Todaro Bros, in New York City. He was assigned to the cheese department by the management, and where he started to learn his craft for over a year. Then, reading the New York Times one day, he saw an ad for a six month apprenticeship at a Goat Cheese Farm in Jeffersonville, New York, near the Catskills. It would not only enhance his knowledge, but it was free room & board, too. He jumped at the chance, and after learning what he could, he came back to New York City to work at Murray's for about five years. After Murray's, he worked for importers / wholesalers and would consult various businesses on what cheese they should buy - and why. Then Chung realized that he could be that business. He had the knowledge and the interest to start his own business in a field which he was an expert.

The long winding road brought Chung to Hoboken, where he offically became a cheesemonger on July 19th 2007, only 4 days after the birth of his first child. 081907e.jpg
He chose Hoboken, because of the people who live here, people who would be receptive to the variety and depth of his product. At his store, it isn't only about cheese - he has cured meats, olives, walnuts, dried apricots, pate, sausage, yogurt, milk and cultured butter, and baugettes.

But I do have to take a moment to mention the fresh sandwiches. Upon my visit to the store, I walked in, and looked at the ever present chalk board, which has the daily written specials. I chose a sandwich with French Ham, Gruyere, lettuce, dijon on a baugette from Baltazar's Bakery. It was simply, my friends, worth the walk alone. He tells me that the sandwiches change often, but has made a "signature sandwich" from mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, balsamic vinagrette and fresh basil leaves and it was also just as exquisite as the first.

After sampling that, Chung took the time to explain the various process of cheese to me, from understanding how you can have artisan, farmhouse, dairy and industrial cheese makers who all produce an enormous wide variety of cheese for the international consumers. Much like in the world of wine, you have specific vineyards who are renown for their wine, you also have specific cheesemakers who are renown for their cheese.

Chung is able to wade through the quagmire, 081907c.jpgto bring a great selection of cheeses, which he classifies as: Hard Ripened (those that age and become dense), Soft Ripened (those that age and become, well, soft), Washed Rind (rubbed with brine at a young age and allowed to age) and Bleu Cheese (those that age and have mould on the outside or inside). Some customers will walk in knowing exactly what they want, and others are curious.

Chung tells me that he has a motto: "Whatever they are curious about, I encourage them to taste."

He does so without hestiation, often using a cheese slicer on the hard cheeses, or a small spoon on the soft cheeses, to let the customers try what is behind the display case. Much like a sommilier, Chung can guide the consumers towards what may interest them. Unlike going to a wine store, where it is nearly impossible to sample a wine before opening it, the customers at The Cheese Store, are welcome to sample everything that strikes an interest.

My knowledge of cheese is very basic. At a young age, I knew only of swiss, cheddar and mozarella. As I got older, I was exposed to gouda, brie and havarti. There can just be a dizzying array of cheese out there, and Chung has an amazing selection. We tried Fromager D'Affinois, Humbolt Fog, Delice De Bourgogne, Foglie Di Noce (Tuscan pecorino wrapped in walnut leaves, and my favorite I think!), Abbaye De081907d.jpg
Belloc. I found that upon tasting that I liked the hard ripened more, and didn't enjoy the briny taste of the Washed Rind as much. But I found myself learning and enjoying everything that Chung was teaching me about this experience.

What The Cheese Store has is exactly what is missing from other competing stores in Hoboken - someone like Chung Park. If you walk into Garden of Eden, certainly they have a large cheese selection. Who would you rather describe to you the cheese you are interested in, a teenage employee who is working there part-time or someone who has the experience of Chung Park? Will that store open the cheese up for you, and let you sample it? Are the prices as competitive as The Cheese Store? I doubt it.

I absolutely encourage everyone to expand their horizons. Go out there and try new things. Take an hour out of your day, and just try something new. Say hello to Chung, he is a great guy and so was his father Peter, who was helping behind the counter. We need more establishments in Hoboken like The Cheese Store, places that restore our faith that Hoboken isn't losing its personality, but gaining them, if you know where to look.

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Don't Buy Fish On Mondays?

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I was getting off the PATH train yesterday when a local restaurant had people handing out flyers & promoting 1/2 priced sushi on Monday nights. I cringed when I saw that. I knew full well never to order fish on a Monday.

There certainly are places you can dine that will have excellent fresh fish every day of the week, because they are taking the extra steps necessary. Restaurants that order "Day Boat" fish, are those boats that get the fish the same day and sell it to restaurants. There's also "Top Haul" which are the fish recently caught by non-day boat trawlers (for deeper sea varities like Tuna and Swordfish), and refers to those fish which sit at the top of the haul in the boats hold. Flash-freezing is a new technique by boats which they catch the fish, freeze it on the boat, and it keeps the fish fresher, longer. Only problem is that this is good for certain types of fish, and not great with others.

Usually there is a premium price tag associated with this, and would be found at the three to four star restaurants - not the restaurants selling sushi at half price.070307.jpg

Anthony Bourdain wrote In "Kitchen confidential", his tell-all memoir of working in NYC kitchens:

"You walk into a nice two-star place in Tribeca on a sleepy Monday evening and you see they're running a delicious-sounding special of Yellowfin Tuna, Braised Fennel, Confit Tomatoes and a Safron Sauce. Why not go for it? Here are the two words that should leap out at you when you navigate the menu: 'Monday' and 'Special'.

"Here's how it works: The chef of this fine restaurant orders his fish on Thursday for delivery Friday morning. He's ordering a pretty good amount of it, too, as he's not getting another delivery until Monday Morning. All right, some seafood purveyors make Saturday deliveries, but the market is closed Friday night. It's the same fish from Thursday!

[...]

"Why doesn't he throw the left-over tuna out? The guy can get deliveries on Monday, right? Sure, he can ... but what is preventing his seafood purveyor from thinking exactly the same way? The seafood vendor is emptying out his refrigerator too! But the Fulton Street fish market is open on Monday morning, you say!! He can get fresh! I've been to the Fulton Street market at three o'clock on Monday morning, friends, and believe me, it does not inspire confidence."

Certainly refrigeration of fish is important, but Anthony also described how the fish is in a fridge that is packed with other foods over the weekend. The refrigerator is opened and closed countless times while the kitchen workers are grabbing items from it - which harms the fresh fish.

Even if a restaurant is getting a fresh fish delivery on Monday, you know that they are trying to get rid of old inventory over new inventory. I'd be very squeamish about ordering fish on a Monday in New York City, let alone Hoboken.

But for some people their wallets come ahead of their health.

What do you think? Would you order fish on a Monday in Hoboken?


Premier Soccer Shop

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Opening up last weekend at 157 First Street, was Premier Soccer Shop, catering to fans & players around Hoboken & northern 062707a.JPGNew Jersey. I had a chance to stop by and speak to the owners, who told me that they will be the place to shop for everything soccer. They have videos/DVDs, soccer balls, turf shoes, bags, referee equipment, shorts, t-shirts, shinguards, outerwear, socks and any other accessories you may need. Featuring such brands as Adidas, Nike, Puma, Diadora, Lotto, Sells, Sondico, Umbro, and more. Premier Soccer Shop have team jerseys from the American to European leagues. Are you jonesing for that new Barcelona Thierry Henry jersey? Sorry Arsenal fans!

When I spoke to the owners, asking why open a soccer shop - it was simple really. While in college, studying for an MBA, they felt the demand was strong in our area for such a store. They first pointed out how far someone from our area had to travel to find a good soccer store. Secondly, the owners played in the Hoboken Adult Soccer Leage, which has 800 people alone, and doesn't include all the various schools, NJ leagues and enthusiasts who love soccer - and concluded that Hoboken was ready for such a store.

Where else would you build a soccer store (or should we say "football"?), but next to the best soccer bar in Hoboken - Mulligan's, which has plenty of fans watching various American and International Soccer. The owners of Premier Soccer Shop are partnered with the New York Red Bulls, and plan on having player appearances and cross promotions in the coming months.

The store062707b.JPG is very large, bright and has a beautiful plasma TV showing GoalTV all the time. When I walked in I was greeted by employees wearing soccer jerseys, and asked a few questions, to which they were very helpful and interested in answering. I have to say that one of the grestest strengths of the success of any business are the owners AND the employees, and Premier Soccer Shop certainly will make you feel welcome no matter what skill or knowledge level you may have.

They have also partnered with Sound Soccer Academy, which develops soccer players of all skill levels, from recreational/intermural to ODP, College and perhaps even the future professional. The owners stressed that they really want to develop and encourage the love of the sport and hope that their store will become the one stop shop for everything soccer related. They can discuss team & league packages, and you can also inquire about how Premier Soccer Shop can be your club's official sponsor. They are always open for suggestions and comments, and can be contacted at info@premsoccershop.com.

Help Stop Urban Sprawl!

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In life there comes a moment when we all need a little help from our friends.

This is one of those moments.

No, I don't need a kidney. My heart is ticking just fine, thank you. I'm not in dire need of money, my cashflow is fine even with evil PSE&G taking $100 away from me per month.

What I need are bodies. Lots and lots of bodies.

Evil genetic experiments? No.

Porn shoot? I wish.

Stop the evil developers of Hoboken? Yep!

Yes folks, I need you to stop the sprawl. Developers in Hoboken are looking to make a seven story building at the corner of 1st and Clinton. It is currently the site of The Jefferson Trust Bank Building.

I'm all for the renovation of the bank building, and think there are lots of uses that the building can be used for, but we don't need more luxury condos in town. Developers are flooding the market to meet a supply that just isn't there.

A strong show of support against this would be a great way of helping me and my fellow residents of this neighborhood. How can you help?

Look, it's simple, i'm only asking for an hour of your time. There are two meetings:

June 12th at 7pm (Historic Preservation Committee) and June 19th at 7pm (Hoboken Planning Board) at City Hall.

Even if I can get 5, 10, 15 extra people to these meetings to show that we are against this development, it would be a huge help and I would absolutely appreciate it. You can email me for details or questions.

Thanks again.

Bar Tips For Newcomers

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Last Friday, I got off the PATH train, and was flagged down by Steve, sitting outside Texas Arizona and watching The Parade. It was Friday, I didn't have nuthin' to do, so I said, "Fuck it".

Sitting down, he introduces me to the 3 girls at table sitting next to him, Jen, Kelly and Carrie. Kelly and Carrie are new 24 year old transplants to Hoboken, and brimming with questions.

One question was, "Where can we go to DANCE?"

Steve and I collectively rolled our eyes and I laughed because it was such a 24 year old question of a girl to ask. Yes, I know the fairer sex likes to dance, but I have noticed that the desire to find a place to dance lessens over the years with Hoboken women (oh, if dancing is doing on - any woman of any age will partake, don't get me wrong).

My answer to their question was that i'd suggest Willie McBrides, Whiskey Bar or O'Donohughes for live music. I'd suggest The Madison or The Bar at 10th and Willow for a DJ.

They asked, "What about Black Bear - is that fun?"

Steve and I both groaned and gave a very similar answer, "Sure, its great when you are a 22 to 26 year old frat boy who likes to stand elbow to elbow in a packed bar. I stopped going there 10 years ago, but you are 24 so maybe you like that scene."

They asked, "How about Bahama Mama's?"

We answered, "You can't be seriously considering going there? They put the 'ass' in 'class'. We wouldn't be caught dead in that bar. Plenty of better bars to choose from."

Our suggestions were Green Rock or Black Bear, taking into consideration their age and what they were looking to do.

Then that got me to thinking. I have lived here quite some time and maybe I should add my .02 cents out there about what I think about local Hoboken bars, and what I think you can expect from going there. So, here's the Philly2Hoboken list of bars, and my commentary...

City Council Meetings 2007

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2007 - Hoboken Meetings

Combined
May 10, 2007 Planning Board Thursday Sub Committee
May 14, 2007 Shade Tree Commission Monday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
May 15, 2007 Zoning Board Tuesday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
May 16, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7
May 22, 2007 Historic Preservation Tuesday caucus 6, meeting at 7

June 5, 2007 Planning Board Tuesday Regular Meeting 7:00
June 6, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7
June 11, 2007 Shade Tree Commission Monday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
June 12, 2007 Historic Preservation Tuesday caucus 6, meeting at 7
June 14, 2007 Planning Board Thursday Sub Committee
June 19, 2007 Zoning Board Tuesday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
June 20, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7

July 1, 2007 City Council Reorganization Meeting Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7
July 3, 2007 Planning Board Tuesday Regular Meeting 7:00
July 9, 2007 Shade Tree Commission Monday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
July 10, 2007 Historic Preservation Tuesday caucus 6, meeting at 7
July 12, 2007 Planning Board Thursday Sub Committee
July 17, 2007 Zoning Board Tuesday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
July 18, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7

August 7, 2007 Planning Board Tuesday Regular Meeting 7:00
August 8, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7
August 9, 2007 Planning Board Thursday Sub Committee
August 13, 2007 Shade Tree Commission Monday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
August 14,2007 Historic Preservation Tuesday caucus 6, meeting at 7
August 21, 2007 Zoning Board Tuesday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor

September 4, 2007 Planning Board Tuesday Regular Meeting 7:00
September 5, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7
September 10, 2007 Shade Tree Commission Monday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
September 11, 2007 Historic Preservation Tuesday caucus 6, meeting at 7
September 13, 2007 Planning Board Thursday Sub Committee
September 18, 2007 Zoning Board Tuesday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
September 19, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7

October 2, 2007 Planning Board Tuesday Regular Meeting 7:00
October 3, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7
October 9, 2007 Historic Preservation Tuesday caucus 6, meeting at 7
October 11, 2007 Planning Board Thursday Sub Committee
October 15, 2007 Shade Tree Commission Monday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
October 16, 2007 Zoning Board Tuesday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
October 17, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7

November 5, 2007 Planning Board Tuesday Regular Meeting 7:00
November 7, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7
November 8, 2007 Planning Board Thursday Sub Committee
November 13, 2007 Historic Preservation Tuesday caucus 6, meeting at 7
November 19, 2007 Shade Tree Commission Monday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
November 20, 2007 Zoning Board Tuesday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
November 21, 2007 City Council Monday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7

December 4, 2007 Planning Board Tuesday Regular Meeting 7:00
December 5, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7
December 10, 2007 Shade Tree Commission Monday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
December 11, 2007 Historic Preservation Tuesday caucus 6, meeting at 7
December 13, 2007 Planning Board Thursday Sub Committee
December 18, 2007 Zoning Board Tuesday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor
December 19, 2007 City Council Wednesday Caucus at 6, Meeting at 7

January 15, 2008 Zoning Board Tuesday 7:00 Conference Room City Hall -ground floor

With my move, I have decided to get out and explore a bit more. Two friends of mine suggested I try Fiore's Deli, located at 414 Adams St., saying how incredible their famous Roast Beef and Mozzarella heroes were.050707a.JPG

But they warned me. First - They only sell this on Saturday. Second - I needed to be aware that they run out of this very fast, and I needed to be there early. Third, there could be lines outside the door. Fourth, they were very no-nonsense there and even likened them to the Seinfeld episode of "The Soup Nazi". I have to admit I wasn't that interested in going to a deli to get yelled at, but the prospect of this roast beef compelled a visit.

I got to the store at 11:30am on a Saturday. There were about 6 people in line ahead of me, and I casually looked around, trying to watch how others were ordering their food. It didn't seem very tense, and even the workers there were joking with what appeared to be "the regulars".

There was a tall blonde girl ahead of me, listening to music on her Ipod. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Ok, i'm new here what's the deal?"

She seemed to have no idea what I was talking about. I clarified.

"You know, the whole "ordering process" like The Soup Nazi. Do I have to do anything special when ordering, like have my money ready or shuffle left?"

She laughed, and so did an older italian couple to my left who were finishing up with their order.

The older italian man said, "I saw that episode last night!"

The girl replied, "No, it isn't that bad. Just first choose your bread - the hero or the roll - and go up and order what you want."

I was a bit relieved, this place seemed ok to me.

I grabbed a long, fresh italian bread from the dispenser and waited. I love the italian bread in Hoboken - is it the water? - something that Hoboken and Philly always did right was their bread. I only wish someone up here made Fresh Soft Pretzels (Whoop! Whoop! Million Dollar Idea - someone franchise a soft pretzel factory in Hoboken, make millions then thank me...could you imagine owning a place that that, approaching every bar in town on Football Sundays to see if they want an box to sell...trust me, it will sell...), like home.

I get up to the end of the line, and make my order quick, like I know what i'm talking about, "Roast Beef, Mutz, Light on Gravy..."

The guy listened to the point where I said "Roast Beef, Mutz..." and started to talk with a regular customer, so my "light on gravy" intertwined with their conversation. I wasn't sure if he heard me, and didn't want to push my luck by saying, "LIGHT ON GRAVY!" or something. I hate a mushy sandwich when the gravy soaks into the roll and ruins everything into a sloppy mess.

I turned waited to the right, and the worker, lead me to the side, so he could finish the order. That's where I decided to push my luck. I asked him if he could hold up the sandwich.

"What? You want something to remember it by?", he joked.050707b.JPG


The old italian couple laughed at this.

I explained I wrote for a local website. I was going to write an article about "My day I went to Fiore's..."

He nodded, and reached into a pan, and quickly handed me a slice of fresh Mozzarella, saying "We have the best in town."

I tasted the slice of mutz, and felt the milky creaminess mixed with a salty brine, overtake my senses. It had a great consistency, not too firm and not too soft. I was already looking forward to my sandwich.

I scurried home, sandwich in hand and quickly realized something.

I may have ordered too much.

Hey, i'm an eater. I can wolf down lots of food, but my first mistake was picking a long italian hero. This was enough sandwich for two people (look at the picture!). I remember at the store they did ask me, "You want a whole italian hero?" and I was confused at the question and said, "Yes?"

I think they sort of knew I was biting off more than I could chew (no pun intended.....ok, maybe a little). In retrospect, I think they would have sliced the bread in half for me, if I asked.

The roast beef was on the rare side, the way I like it. When I was at the store the older italian lady did ask them for "Not-so-rare-roast-beef", so you can order that if you like, if they have it.

The gravy was added perfectly, there was a bit of "mush", but the buttery goodness of that roll, the mutz and the hero created a symphony of delight in my mouth. It was that rare time when i'm eating and thinking, "Man, this is so good."

I finished half of the sandwich and was DONE. I felt bad that I couldn't share it with someone else, but now I can. Get down to Fiore's this Saturday. Order the Roast Beef and Mozzarella. Remember the rules:

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Then email me or post a comment about what YOU think. I have been in Hoboken for 12 years now. This is written for those people, like me, who need to get out and adventure, and try new places in our town.

Fundraising at the Jubilee Center

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I got this from a friend of mine, and I will be attending. Interested? Come along for a good cause.

Please join us for a night of wine, beer and dinner from local
Hoboken restaurants including:
Baja, 10th and Willow, Liberty, Quays, Garden of Eden, Lounge 11, Court
Street, Luca Brasi, Hudson Gourment, Biggies, El Flamboyan, Tutta Pasta,
Salad Works, Gas Light, Luca Brasi's, Ganache, It's Greek to me, Qdoba,
Dominoes, and Starbucks.

Come bid on auction items including....
Andre Aggasi signed ball and cap, Martha Stewart signed autographed
book, Hockey Puck by Devil's player #21 Brad Lukowich, a poster signed
by Jets John Vilma and Giants Eli Manning,Tiger Schulmann month of
classes and uniform, Club KO gift cert, one night stays from several
local hotels such as Sheraton, Marriott, Doubletree, and Candlewood
Suites.
Baskets by Good Kleen Fun, Flowers by Diane, Zip Car, Lucy's, Soley
Ours, United Media, and Starbucks. Symposium puppet show tickets,
dinner gift certs from Margheritas, 10th and Willow, Harbor Bar, Casual
Thai, Shannon Lounge, Sushi Lounge, Lolas, Carlos Bakery, Casual Thai,
and Panera. Makeovers and Clipp One Salon certs, Dr Brayton, and Zen
Touch.
Other sponsorsed items from Big Jeff Music, Rita's Ice, Johnnie Walker
Blue, Hoboken Golf, Budweiser, Inko Tea, Story Land, Botanical Design,
and Secret Chef.

Proceeds benefit Hoboken's Jubilee Center, a safe haven for children
from public housing to participate in tutoring, extra curricular
activity, and a daily meal.

Tickets $50 in advance / $60 at door
Purchase tickets through Shelly Ferguson at
Remax Gold Coast
56 Newark Street, Hoboken
or via email shelly@hobokenproperties.com (Shelly)
or caltberger@gmail.com (Cindy)


Bartending in Hoboken

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I'm relatively new to Hoboken (I've been here since last June). Things have pretty much settled down with my job and all, and I see that I have some free time a couple nights a week. Also, being completely self-sufficient in Hoboken at age 23 isn't financially easy. Couple those with the fact that I love bars, and I thought it'd be a good idea to pick up a couple of bartending shifts per week, not only for the cash but because it's something I enjoy (I've worked down the shore for years as a barback/bartender).

Obviously, this was much easier in my head than in practice. It's impossible to get a bartending job around here! How did you do it? Do you know someone, or did you get lucky, or what? I'd love to know, since this search is driving me nuts. Also, any suggestions would be much appreciated.

I got that letter in my gmail account, and figured that it would be a good thing to discuss on here, especially for other readers who were interested.

Even with experience, I think it is very hard to get a job bartending in Hoboken. I got my job due to my friend Joe. Dipper's was a new bar and Joe was going to manage the place and needed "guys that he could trust behind the bar".

That's the first rule of this service industry. Trust. The problem is that in our industry it is very easy for people to steal from the owners. Stealing by giving out too many free drinks, stealing money that should be going into the register by putting it in your tip jar (also known as "tipping the tills") and other nefarious ways. So if the owner or the manager sees a guy walking in off the street, and asking to bartend...that doesn't happen very often.

Also you have to consider that guys are a dime a dozen in bartending. The draw for most guys in a bar is their ability to keep the customer happy with good service or with good communication skills. They aren't there for their good looks.

Lots of women, on the other hand, are also very much judged on that special "third factor" - their looks. Quite simply, it helps the bars business to have a good looking woman behind the bar. A good looking female bartender will keep guys sitting at a bar for hours. Trust me, I have seen this first hand. I have seen guys walk in the bar, say, "Where's Susan?" and then spin around and leave when they find out that she isn't working that night. I know that the guy wasn't Susan's personal friend, he was a guy who simply liked to watch Susan work while he sipped his beer.

To get a job, i'd follow my old rules about Hoboken. Find a "local". A "local" is a local pub that you frequent at least once a week. My current local would probably be Court Street, since I go there for dinner about once a week. Moran's is also a local, but that was something I established years ago, and don't go there every week, but the bartenders all know me and we get along well enough. Mulligan's can be considered a local for me, because of my Eagles club.

Find a bar where you get to know the bartenders. Pubs are easier than some of those lounges in town. Find a bar where they don't have an entrenched staff - like people who have been working there for 10 years. Lots of "new" bars are opening up like "Four L's", for example. If I were in your shoes, i'd go there every Friday. Make yourself a regular. Get to know the owner and the staff. Tip well. Get a feel for who is working there. Is it the owner? Who are the bartenders? Maybe they need a barback or a waiter.

Get your foot in the door. Doesn't matter what you are doing. Just get the foot in there, and mention to the owner that you have bartending experience and would be happy to "fill in". "Fill in" is just as it sounds, you fill in if a bartender calls out sick or something. The owner knows he can call you last minute. Also i'd get a bar card, just in case. They cost $100 and last for 2 years. Then the owner will know that you can legally serve, too.

I simply got lucky over my job. I was fortunate enough to be a regular at Farside, and knew my friend Joe through the bartenders there. Joe and I became friends, and when the chance happened at Dipper's, I got my shot and never looked back. When Dipper's changed hands to Mikie's, the new owners re-interviewed everyone on the staff, including people off the street. I was the only person hired from the old employees at Dipper's. That's when the chances happen, if a new bar opens they interview staff. Established places already have their people and only luck or if you know someone will be the chance you get a job there.

Find a place as a local, preferably a newer place. At Mikie's we only have 2 people working there from the original 10 that started last year. I'm one of them. Turnover happens. People quit or get fired. The guys I have seen move into the ranks of bartending were either recommended by someone who worked there, and in some cases we took waiters & barbacks and turned them into bartenders.

Now that's my advice for guys. Women, a whole new rule set applies to them. Read on, if you dare...

Spa H 2: This time it's personal

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At Club H, I took a spinning class on Wednesday. I didn't mean to take the class. I was at the gym, like normal, working out. I wanted to run for about 25 minutes, as part of my workout. But most of the treadmills were occupied. So, I decided to go into the spin room and just ride the bikes for a bit. After 10 minutes, a few people started to enter, including some very cute girls. I asked a guy next to me if a class was starting, and he told me that one was starting. He also said if this was my first time I better get a large bottle of water and a large towel from the locker room. He said that I will dehydrate really fast and sweat a lot.

I was cheerful about it, so I ran out and grabbed a water and a towel. I got back inside and more cute girls were in there and I was very aloof about the whole thing. I figured I had been working out for the last 3 years and wasn't terribly scared about the class. I figured it was going to be hard, but I would be able to keep up.

Did I mention i'm 35? Did I mention that I had fairly major leg surgery 2 years ago? Did I mention that my highschool yearbook pegged me as "Most likely to die from laziness"? I kid about the yearbook.

My friends, let me enlighten you. Spin class was first designed in 1818, by the Germans and lead by the aerobic instructor Karl von Drais. He was no pansy, folks. The dude knew how to whip those krauts into shape. Its true! I swear!

Not much has changed since then, and the class is basically sado-machoism on a stationary bike. They play music, the instructor I had was Robert from Club H. Has anyone seen the movie The Fifth Element? Remember the character played by Chris Tucker, "Ruby Rhod"? Ok, imagine a more fit, muscular version of him leading this class. I told Robert in the beginning of the class that I was new. I think he translated that into, "Fuck with the new guy".

I tried to keep up with them, but couldn't. I had to take a few breaks and I downed the entire liter of water. After the class I wasn't too bad, but wondering how sore I would be the next day.

My groin was killing me. My thighs were very tight. My lower back was a bit sore, but not too bad. My friend Tina laughed at me over email and told me that I was basically an idiot for taking the class and if I expected to take more, that I should get a gel seat cover for the bikes. It helps.

Thursday was a tough day at work. I was very sore. I tried stretching a few times, to the amusement of my co-workers. It really didn't help.

I had a gift certificate to Spa H. It was given to me by a friend for my birthday, and it was for an hour long massage. Perfect day to use it, I thought. I called the spa, and scheduled an appointment for Thursday night.

I have been to Spa H before, but it was 18 months ago. I really haven't been back, because of their prices. I usually go to Body Balance because it is cheaper, here's a comparison of prices with also the higher cost sports massage from Spa H, also:
30 minutes: Spa H: $60 (sport $65) / BB: $45
60 minutes: Spa H: $90 (sport $100) / BB: $75
90 minutes: Spa H: $125 (sport $130) / BB: $100
2 hours: Spa H: n/a / BB: $130

Even with my 10% discount from Club H, Body Balance is still cheaper. I reviewed Marma Day Spa, also. Marma was about the same price as Club H. Interestingly enough, and what I didn't know, is that Spa H charges more for deep tissue (sport) massages.

I get to Spa H, and it was just as I remembered. They did change a few things. Gone was the shower & changing room. Before, they had me change into a robe and go into the room. This time, I did my changing in the massage room. I found that rather clumsy, for such a steep price. I liked having a private changing room, rather than just dumping my clothes on a chair in the massage room.

The massage was really good. The massage therapist, Samantha, was a petite woman with a very good touch. I really enjoyed the massage and found myself dozing off a few times during the hour.

Once it was done, they didn't have (or offer) the shower to use. I missed that. So I put my clothes back on, and tipped Samantha $20 for the massage. She offered me a glass of water, and I drank it while I went outside to give them my gift card.

The receptionist rang up the card, and asked how I felt. I felt great.

The interest in my massage quickly turned to interest in my payment. The person at the desk informed me that there was a problem. She said that the person who bought the card for me paid for a 1 hour long swedish massage, not sports massage. The second problem was that the person was charged $81, not $90, based on the idea that since I was a member of Club H that she could get me a discount. According to the receptionist, this wasn't right.

So, I owed $20.

$9 extra for the difference of the 10% discount that was voided. And $10 more because it was a sports massage. Also taxes made the cost $107, but she was a bit frustrated with the whole thing and was like, "Oh just give me $20."

Now I didn't go to Spa H in the last 18 months because of the price. An hour long massage I saved $12.50 with Body Balance, which doesn't seem like a lot, but to me it is the principle. Now here I was, at Spa H again. Up until that point I was really impressed with everything (albeit slightly disappointed I couldn't have the post-massage shower, and walk home with moisturizer sticking to my clothes).

I wrote before that you never have a second chance to make a good first impression. This was my second time at Spa H. Their first impression was good, but not great. The prices were a bit of a put-off. I was back again, and after my experience with the receptionist (she could have been the owner), I don't think I will be back there anytime soon.

I think Spa H needs to do two things:

1. Lower their prices.
2. Learn the essential art of making a customer feel welcome.

I think they fail on both counts. In my humble opinion what she should have done was just say that a mistake was made, but not have me pay for it. The gift card was a BIRTHDAY GIFT. I certainly don't expect them to know that, but normally when someone is given a GIFT CARD, it was for something special. Like a birthday, an anniversary, for a job well done - or to get over something (like an accident, a breakup, a funeral).

Both jobs I have in my life, my Manhattan job and my bartending job, customer service is our #1 priority. Nothing gets under my skin more when I hear someone had a bad experience with a coworker of mine at either job. I take pride in my work. I take pride in where in work, also. I want people to either get off the phone with me or walk out of the bar with a good experience.

In the bar, I can give buybacks. If a customer didn't like their wine, i'll pop open a new bottle and of course not charge them for the first glass of wine they had. If a customer doesn't like the food, its going to be off their check. That's customer service. That is a lost art in today's day and age.

When I was leaving I asked them if they ever read my first review of their establishment, and they didn't know who I was or that I ever wrote anything about them. When i'm done with this, i'm going to email them both of my reviews. I figure that they should know what someone out here thinks of their spa.

Arts Festival 2006

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Another year, another Arts Festival. This one was different in which a "real" band was booked (We love you Nancy Sinatra, really), The New York Dolls. Some may say that maybe if this were 1980, it would be more of a buzz, but if you ask me, they sounded fantastic on Sunday. After listening to them today, i'm definitely going to buy their CD. Some cool shots I got of the band, the naked cowboy and some other things that caught my eye:

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I just wish that Hoboken would bring more HOBOKEN BANDS into the music festival. Just set up one stage for local talent, is that asking too much? I know plenty of bands that get denied each year to play by the powers that be. Very annoying.

Rita's 400th Store Opens In Hoboken

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Last night I was walking uptown on Washington Street, when I saw a familiar face. It was the red and white striped awning of a Rita's, serving their famous Italian Water Ices, Gelati and Custard.

If you aren't familiar with Rita's, let me introduce you. It was founded in 1984, by the Tumolo family in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. Bob Tumolo used his mother's recipie, to create a smooth and delicious "Italian Ice" (Or as those in Philly call it "Italian Water Ice". "Italian Ice" is a fruit flavored frozen treat, made with slushy water, real fruit and fruit flavoring. It was a huge hit around the Philadelphia and South Jersey area, and Rita's expanded their operations until they eventually franchised their name and were bought out by Pittsburgh-based McKnight Capital Partners in May 2005.091906b.JPG

Today, Hoboken gets the 400th store in their chain, owned by brother and sister, Shereef and Laila Hammad. I met with them both last night and we talked for a good 30 minutes about their store and their excitement to be part of the Hoboken community.

Part of that excitement includes a Grand Opening Celebration on Wednesday, September 20th. The CEO of McKnight Capital Partners is arriving to kick off the opening, along with Mayor David Roberts and the store is hosting an Italian Ice Eating Contest at 11:30am! There will be 400 free Rita's shirts given out, along with 400 free Regular sized Italian ices.

Shereef and I talked about Hoboken411's article about Rita's about a week ago. I asked him about the high costs of renting on Washington street and would this be a major obstacle in his store making a profit. He said that certainly the costs are a concern, but he and his sister have many years of experience in operating their mother's Rita's store, and know exactly what they are getting into. He feels that his experience will be the difference in making this a successful venture.

Rita's is more than just water ice. They have old-fashioned frozen custard, which is so amazingly sinful and delicious. Try the frozen custard. Then try any ice cream store on Washington street. You will absolutely see how Rita's is so delicatable. Want the best of both worlds? They also have "Gelati", where they alternate layers of Italian ice and their custard and create a tasty frozen dessert. Maybe in the mood for a cool shake? They make "Misto Shakes" which is a blend of vanilla or chocolate frozen custard and your choice of Rita's Italian Ice or Cream Ice. Oh, what's "Cream Ice"? For those with lactose intolerance, this might be the treat for you. They use a non-dairy creamer to make a tasty treat "without that heavy feeling". Plus, they have a sugar-free Italan ice on the menu for those looking to moderate their caloric intake. They also have soft pretzels and bottled water, along with Rita's Squeezers - a 6 pack mixture of of the italian ice (Cherry or Mango) and creamy vanilla customer swirled together in a easy to eat package.

Shereef and Laila were interested to hear that I was from Philadelphia, and they expressed shock about how many Hobokenites weren't familar with their brand. I told them that was the same shock I had when I moved to Hoboken when people didn't know what a "Tastykake" or a "Hoagie" or a "Yuengling" were. Only over the last decade have Philadelphia-based foods and drinks have made inroads to Northern Jersey. There are a lot of ex-pat Philly natives around here who are very familiar with Rita's, but they certainly want to get the word out to those who aren't familiar with their product. I watched over the night as Shereef and Laila explained to each new customer their menu, and offering free samples to people. 091906a.JPG

I joked with Shereef that it was like the old anti-drug commerical from the 80's. "At first you give it our for free, and then they come back to buy more." We both laughed about that, because we know that once Hobokenites start getting hooked on this they will love it much like many Philadelphia natives loved growing up eating it, too.

If you haven't tried it, why not go down to the store today? It is located on 121 Washington Street, 201-880-1767. You can email them at ritas.hoboken@gmail.com.

Summertime brings out all sorts of new folk into Hoboken. Lots of them aren't locals, and you can tell this because most yuppies in town order 90% of the same drinks or beer: Jack and Coke, Stoli and Club Soda, Bud Light. Those are the standards. But, every once in a while you get the strange orders from customers, and they all fit into a stereotype. Here, for your pleasure, is the drink and stereotype list for Hoboken customers:

Budweiser: You are a teamster or belong to the local union. Have a strong preference to wearing flannel and rooting for the Jets.
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Long Island Iced Tea: Still working on that GED, huh? Every person who orders this drink is on a quest to get as fucked up as quickly as possible.

Manhattan: 'Old Man River' will be the kind of guy who orders this. One drink and then off to watch some 'Matlock' at home, with a tall glass of prune juice.

Cosmopolitans: 'Sex and the City' is off the air, and you really shouldn't be ordering these anymore, honey.

Guinness: Anal, opinionated white people order this. The know-it-alls. They always tip exactly $1 per pint.

Sex On The Beach: People who order this drink are idiots. Airheaded girls or foreigners always order this drink. Yea, sure, it was popular sophomore year in college when you were making them at the Tri-Delt house.

Blue Moon: This is the "beer of the moment". Every beer goes through phases. When I first moved into town, like in 1995, Amstel Light was what everyone ordered. Then, Sam Adams. Then Yuengling. Then Stella. Now it's Blue Moon. I'm not saying its a bad beer, but its like EVERYONE orders it now.

Red Bull and Vodka: Your leased BMW is illegally parked, your "boys" are all at Lua or Lounge 11, you made sure you didn't wear your wedding ring and you are out of cocaine and need your fix.

Scotch, neat: The Alpha Alcoholics. All other drunks tremble in their presence. I pee in my pants a little when a customer orders it.

Martini, dry: International Law Of Bartenders declared in 1978 that anyone asking for it "Shaken, not stirred" is subject to a slap to the face and public humiliation. But anyone else who orders this is either over 40 years old or some jackass Gordon Gekko wanna be who works in a boileroom and wants to appear sophisticated in his $600 suit and $85 shoes.

Jim Beam: Beam drinkers are always the frat house guys. I'm not talking about Jack drinkers or Maker Mark drinkers, just Jim Beam. They are either in a frat, or when they order one - thinking about the days of Penn State and getting wrecked on Beam every weekend. Beam drinkers are fun people to hang out with.

Margaritas: These people are the same idiots who were ordering the Long Island Iced Tea 5 years ago and now want to get even more fucked up and ready for a fight. If you are a man and use Patron for a Margarita, you deserve to be kicked in the crotch, you prententious bastard. If you are a woman, you get punched in the breast. Yea, we all know that will be sore for days.

Frozen drinks: Chicks order frozen drinks. I thank God everyday I go to bartend that we have a frozen drink machine and not a blender. Thank you baby Jesus in Heaven.

Rob Roy: Never heard of a Rob Roy? You aren't alone. In 1908 Henry Ford created the Model T, which ran on gasoline and the Model R, which ran on the Rob Roy. Every once in a while you can find someone who still drinks this "alternative fuel" of the Ford Motor Company.

Vodka Cranberry: The 90's are over. Please let it go.

Gin and Tonic: There's a reason why Gin is called "Mother's Ruin", and just take a good look at the people drinking them. They might raise their glass and say, "It's medicinal!" while they quaff their 8th one of the afternoon while if you listen closely, you can hear their livers scream in agony.

Courvoisier: I have yet to meet a single white person who orders this. Those that do order it are horrible, horrible tippers. Oh, and don't forget - they will always look at the snifter and say, "Hey, that's it? Can you fill it up more?" When they get tired of Courvoisier, they order Heineken.
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Corona: Two types of people drink Corona. Yuppies who put their cute limes in the drink or a bit of Bacardi Limon, and maybe a shot of "something fruity". The other people who order it are illegal immigrants who work in the kitchens of Hoboken. They drink it like water. Everytime I see a south american worker walk in I don't even have to ask what they want (and for the love of God don't insult them by giving them limes). If I ever had to enter the Chugging Olympics - i'd just go back into the kitchen and get Jose, Jose and Carlos on my team. I'd get a case of Corona, sip on 1 and let them handle the rest which will be gone in about 34.5 seconds.

White Wine Spritzer: Its usually the housewives or ultra conservative girls who order these. 3 drinks later and they are sloshed and have the same reactions of every drinker (horny, angry, silly) but since they are lightweights they are always much LOUDER about it. I love my job when I get to watch Miss Priss lay into her cuckholded boyfriend about how he doesn't love her enough. I'm just washing glasses and trying not to laugh.

Patron Tequila: 90% of these sullen drunks are either in a really bad relationship or just got out of one in the last 3 months. The other 10% get drunk, go home and sacrifice a puppy to their lord, Satan.

Coors Light: No one really will admit they like Coors Light. Much like no guy really admits they mastrubate to their girlfriend's girl friends. Enough said.

Screwdriver: I can honestly say I think I made this drink about 5 times in the last four years. I'm sure in 1978 this drink was huge at Studio 54.

Dewars, on the rocks or neat: Annoying people drink this Blended Scotch whisky. They were probably the hall-monitor in elementary school. Ran the projector in class. Would nark on everyone if they were cheating on a test. As an adult, they aren't much different. They are the kind of coworker that would email your boss if you got into an arguement with them at work, rather than handling it like a man. Easily slighted and can't be the "better man" in any arguement.

White Russian: Only the most clueless drinkers will drink MILK with ALCOHOL. You drink more than 3 of these, and I will guarantee that you will be puking all over my bathroom.

Captain and Coke: Suave, sophisticated and charming are these drinkers. Perhaps they have many extracurricular activities like running a Social Sports Club, blogging, and writing restaurant reviews, while fending off the multiple advances of women (and men!) in their lives. They also have a huge ego and a very good imagination, so keep the compliments coming.

Cuba Libre: Fuck you. No, seriously, FUCK YOU. Cuba Libre. Shut up, you asshole, and just order a Rum and Coke.

White Zinfandel: Lets be honest here. It should be renamed "White Trash". Everyone from Bayonne and Staten Island who somehow let lost and end up in Hoboken, and try to come off as sophisticated. You want to know a quick way to immediately scream "WHITE TRASH" - order wine and add ice to it.

Sex, Lies and Hoboken

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Bartending over the years in Hoboken I have picked up on a few common "trueisms" about our town. Especially in the world of dating, mating and relating to the opposite sexes. Here are a few things that I have noticed about both sexes and you may agree, you may not agree, but I believe every one of them.

Just remember my golden rule: When I say "Women" or "Men" i'm talking about the majority. Most of them. Not all of them. Yes, there will always be the minority who read what I write and be dying to pipe up in the comments or an email to me. I'm just talking about the stereotypical here and remember, its all in fun don't take it personally.

1. There are two types of women in Hoboken - those looking for a career and those looking for a husband. If I had a nickel for every school teacher I met looking for a rich financial banker type i'd have a sack full of nickels.

2. There are two types of guys in Hoboken - bad boys & boring boys. The bad boys get laid all the time. The boring boys watch the bad boys get laid and wonder why they can't get laid.

3. 90% of all bad boys are really, well, bad. There isn't some nice heart in there, there is just a selfish prick who wants to get laid.

4. Most women love the bad boys from the ages of 21-25. Most grow out of it, after being burned time and time again by the bad boys. Some women luck out and find the bad boy with the heart of gold, but this is few and far between. I have personally witnessed it once, but the girl was a knockout & had a great personality and it makes sense that the bad boy treat her like gold.

5. "He's just not that into you" is a great book to read as a girl...or as a guy who wants to understand women better.

6. Understanding men is fairly basic, but most women cringe at it - if they don't understand it. What every guy wants is basically are all the good personality traits of their mother. If they had an italian mamma-mia mother who cooked & cleaned for them, they are gonna want that in their wife. If they had a fun & laid back mother - they are gonna want that, too. If they come from a broken home or had a really crappy mother, well they will be one of those confused motherfuckers who can't figure out what woman is good enough for them. If you are dating a guy and really dig him, figure out what kind of mom he had. Even if you don't want to be that chick that cooks and cleans (hey, I know some girls who dig that), even doing the little things are gonna get his attention (maybe like making him chocolate chip cookies...). Its not about changing who you are, but it is about finding out those things that make your man tick. What buttons you push that make him happy or make him mad are very important to learn early on in any relationship.

7. I'm convinced that every woman (and not just Hoboken women) is crazy to lesser or greater degrees. Now when I say "crazy", I mean that the are different than guys because they have a lot of factors that make them crazy. Hormones. Boys. Weight gain. Money problems. Parents. But the #1 reason: Baggage. You meet a girl at the right time in their life, everything is gravy. You meet a girl coming off a bad relationship where some guy completely fucked them up - you are gonna be the one to pay.

8. This doesn't mean men are any more normal than women. The problem with men in Hoboken is that its like a fucking buffet here. You meet one girl who is beautiful. Then you meet another who is beautiful and cool. Then you meet another who is beautiful, cool and extremely intelligent. Then you meet another who is beautiful, cool, extremely intelligent and has rich parents. Then maybe you meet a latin chick who is different than your caucasian girlfriend and now you dig her. Or maybe you are dating an awesome girl that every one of your guy friends think you will marry - but you now want to date a model. The amount of choices for men are insane around here. Also its not only a question of choices, but availability. Like I tell other people, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" i.e. Why get married when you can get laid all the time? Lots of guys put off the whole idea of marriage because they are getting tail. They think they can keep getting it for a long time and have no real incentive to "settle down" with just one girl, especially the bad boys & the players. This is why you see people who marry around here at 35, not 25.

9. Hoboken is loaded with very shallow people. Its funny when I talk to girls at the bar. When they think i'm "just a bartender" they don't really appear that interested. As soon as I mention that I have a corporate job, you can see the ones who are shallow who get a LOT more interested in me. It makes me laugh. And no, I wouldn't date them. This happened with a few other bartenders I worked with, too.

10. Hoboken is a town of fair weather friends. Being a transient town, and if you live here more than 5 years and are single, you are probably going to do the #1 activity - drinking. You will go to bars. Meet new people. Make new friends. Maybe you get a shore house and meet people that way. Take alcohol into the situation and inevitably there will be some kind of drama that will rear its ugly head. It comes in so many forms. Who slept with who. Who gossiped about who. Ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends and who's side do you take. Cheap friends. Who gets the bigger shore house room. I have seen great "best friends forever" (BFF's) become horrible enemies over the smallest of things.

11. Men judge their self worth with 3 basic criteria. Money. Body. Intelligence. Here's the breakdown. If you are rich and have a great job, you feel like you are important because you drive nice cars and wear nice clothing. If you aren't rich, but have a great physique you feel important because you are in tip top shape and can kick the ass of any of those "homo yuppie bankers" around. If you are smart, but don't have a lot of money and are in poor shape, you feel above those "meatheads" and "frat boy yuppies" because of your Mensa degree. Or maybe you don't have money, a great body or are very smart and you are some hipster working out of Frozen Monkey who have great tattoos and a collection of AFI b-list songs that make you cool. I don't know. My point is that most of the Hoboken guys can be broken down into those 3 basic criteria on defining their self worth, and you also could be a combination of all 3. You could be a semi-wealthy guy, with a good body and a noodle for a brain. So you are maybe 50% money, 40% body and 10% intelligence. Or a tech guy with an I.T. job, with a terrible body, and some smarts, so you are 40%, 0%, 60%. For me? I think i'm fairly well rounded. I have a good job, an athletic body (stop laughing, really), and an above average intelligence (i'm not that smart, look at my grammar), so i'm like 33%, 33%, 34%. :)

12. For women, well its basically the same thing but much more complicated. The hot girls know they have something about them that's hot - so you could be a girl who is flat chested - but you have a hot face. Or you could be a girl who is overweight - but have great boobs or a round ass. You could be an overweight girl, with a homely looks - but you are a doctor and make more money than those vapid yuppies, so that makes you better than them. But if you meet another doctor then it becomes "Where did she go to school" to define who is better.

Hoboken Clock Tower

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I was reading about how Hoboken was going to restore the bell tower at the Hoboken Terminal. When reading about the terminal, it talks about the Beaux-Arts architecture. You can read more of it here. I didn't even know that there was a bell tower at the terminal, so I started to dig around for pictures of what it used to look like. I found this old one:
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I also found another drawing here:
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Also was able to find a blueprint of the new tower, too:
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Pretty interesting stuff, to me. I figured i'd share it with anyone else who liked this sort of thing.

Ubu

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Yesterday I shunned my favorite sushi restaurant and went to Ubu (205 Hudson St) for a quick bite.

I walked into the small restaurant and asked if they served beer. They didn't, so I ran up to Washington Street and bought my tall Sapporo and went back to try their sushi deluxe & edamame.

I thought the quality of the edamame was so-so. They steamed it nicely but I wished they used a kosher salt on the beans, rather than a table salt. Also there were lots of "bad" ones in there and I had to push those aside.

Trying the sushi deluxe I was presented with two tuna, salmon, yellow tail and halibut (I think, it was a white fish), along with 1 shrimp and a california roll. Not a huge fan of california rolls, I like it when sushi deluxes are served with a spicy tuna roll (which can nearly be the most common roll ordered at all sushi restaurants).

This brings up an interesting segue. Ever look at a sushi restaurants roll list. Check out how much a plain tuna roll costs versus a spicy tuna. The markup at some restaurants is incredible - and what are you getting with a spicy tuna roll? Mayonaise and spice? Some rolls I have seen a price difference of $1.50-2 a roll! Incredible!

They first served miso soup & a salad, which I only tried the miso soup. I like the miso soup at Maru better, but it was satisfactory.

Ok, so I thought the fish was fresh and tasty. The waitress asked before ordering if I liked my sushi spicy, I said I did and they added to the top of each fish a small drop of spicy mayo & soy. I didn't have to dip the fish into anything and I wolfed them down so fast that the chef remarked, "You certainly are hungry!"

The california roll was satisfying enough, and the total cost for the meal was a shade over $20. There were only 2 other people in the restaurant and the service was fast and attentive. The place only seats about 20 people, so I don't think i'd be very worried about slow service.

I'd go again, but i'd choose Maru over Ubu any day of the week. But i'd choose Ubu over the super expensive Sushi Lounge across the street. I'm still pissed that they serve Sapporo beer for like $7 a pint. You can BYOB to Maru or Ubu and it is $3.75 for a 20 ounce can of Sapporo at the Liquor Store on 2nd & Washington. I understand paying more at a restaurant or bar, but Sushi Lounge should be charging like $4.75 for a pint of Sapporo.

I got this from a friend of mine:

The American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life will be taking place in Hoboken on May 20th from 11 a.m. to midnight on Pier A. RFL is a community celebration where individuals and teams come together to camp out, barbecue and walk around “relay style” to honor cancer survivors and pay tribute to those who have lost their battles with the disease. Funds raised support cancer research, education, advocacy and patient services in Hoboken.

Cancer survivors are invited to celebrate their triumph over cancer by participating in an inspirational “Survivors’ Lap” to open the relay. Come nightfall, the Luminaria Ceremony will light up Pier A with hundreds of candles - each one purchased in honor or in memory of a loved one who has faced cancer.

Club H has also organized a simultaneous event called Spin For Line – a one-hour spin class that will be held at Sinatra Park. Classes will take place between 10 a.m – 4 p.m. for $25 per person.

Teams can still sign up to participate in either event, whether made up of friends and family, colleagues or community organizations.

The Young Professionals Committee of the ACS will also be hosting a happy hour at Tenth and Willow this Thursday, May 11. In the spirit of competition, the theme of the night will be baseball, as the Yankees take on the Red Sox and the Mets face the Phillies. The cover fee is $5, with total proceeds being matched by the bar and donated to the ACS. Drink specials will be also be available, including half price martinis and bottled beers. Festivities begin at 7:00.

For more information, contact Christina Attardo at clnyu78@hotmail.com or visit www.cancer.org.

Mikie Squared Update

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I went to a meeting for Mikie Squared on Sunday. It was our first staff meeting.

We had the owners, the bar manager, the floor manager, the overall manager, and the employees all gathered in the newly renovated bar. It was a meet & greet time for everyone to say hello and fill out some paper work. The owners went over the rules & expectations of the staff.

Where do I start?

First, the bar is still the way everyone will remember it. But everything has been cleaned up & painted. The bar has been re-sanded & will be stained and sealed soon. The ceiling was removed and the original tin ceiling has been painted and restored. The area behind the bar has wine racks, instead of mirrors. Most of the TVs are gone and will be replaced by 3 large plasma TVs behind the bar. The dartbone is gone and will be replaced by a nice seating area in front by the bay windows. We have wonderful new comfortable chairs for sitting outside. They will be building an retractable awning to cover the sidewalk on rainy days.

Second, the bar is more upscale but not pretentious. The owners are really focusing on the simple idea of "the customer comes first" like the staff did at Dipper's. We want a professional but fun atmosphere. There will be a dress code for the employees (all black) & black polo shirts with "Mikie Squared". The food is going to be bar food, but the key will be FRESH. Fresh burgers, wings that are meaty, tasty ribs and delicious salads. Also there will be specialty drinks - mojitos, frozen margaritas & pina coladas, martinis and sangria. We will have an extensive wine list, great wines by the glass (with a vaccum system to keep it FRESH) and PORT wine. I told them to get Taylor Fladgate 20 Year Old Tawny for me.

Third, the name. In case you haven't heard the owner's name is Mike. His son is Mikie. The bar is Mikie...squared. It was "the best we could do on short notice" as Mike said. It is a trillion times better than working under the name "Dipper's". Maybe if we were serving ice cream Dipper's would have been a great name...

Lots of ideas are bouncing around. The owners are interested in all sorts of things to try. It was like when we first opened up Dipper's - everyone is involved and excited. I, myself, feel very happy to be working there only because both the owners have been extremely nice with me. They have been nice enough to let me keep working on Saturday nights (I might be doing some Fridays, too) and I might do some fill-in work during the week.

They expect to be open very soon. No official word yet, but if everything goes as planned, they hope to be open this weekend. After seeing the bar and the kitchen - I think the BAR could be open by the weekend, but the kitchen might need some work. Who knows? We certainly want the old regulars back to the bar along with a new crowd of people. I think Larry is getting his own monogrammed chair, along with a personalized Guinness glass.

I will keep you updated with the grand opening and get some pictures on the site when I can.

Levels of Men in Hoboken

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I was reading this thread on Hobokenchat, and it got me to thinking of the different levels of Men around Hoboken. I'm a product of my upbringing - LaSalle High School was a preppy school and Villanova was J. Crew's wet dream. I would guess i'm a Level 4 guy.

Level 1: This is your basic man who drinks only domestic beer, eats any meat from a 4 legged animal or has fins and thinks "carbs" refers to engines. Dresses in flannel and has 1 pair of jeans. Likes to hunt & fish. Has a scraggly beard. Uses motor oil as a cologne. Thinks all cats should die. Dog choices would be mutt or pit bull to protect his junkyard.

Level 2: A bit of a step up. Thinks wearing Professional Sports Team outerwear is fashionable. Sweatpants are what he wears around the house. Owns a sportcoat and 3 ties, one of those ties has beer cans or fish hooks on it. Has one bottle of cologne from 1987 which is 90% full, and he wears it on special occasions like NASCAR opening day. Owns a car outside his house that sits on cinder blocks and is his "weekend project". Has a subscription to Penthouse. Thinks mullets should make a comeback. Saving for a 401K is for wussies - Saving for Hockey season tickets are for men. Likes manly dogs like Rottweilers, German Sheppards and Dobermans.

Level 3: "The Regular Joe". Likes any form of beer, will even drink lite beer if it tastes good. Loves shots. Spends money on 3 things: His car, his good weed and porn. Likes cigars. Thinks white socks can be worn with anything. "Grooming" to him is going to the barber shop, never spending more than $20 on a haircut. Reads the sports section first of the paper. Doesn't understand why people go to the gym - "You are gonna die, too you healthy bastards!", he would think. Only subscribes to Sports Illustrated, Maxim and/or Playboy. His girlfriend or mom gets him nice clothes and the rest he just gets at a American Eagle store. When he turns his TV on or off, it is set on ESPN. Likes dogs you can "do stuff with" like retrievers or beagles or hound dogs.

Level 4: Joe Prep. The next level from the regular Joe is normally the guy who just happens to have more money to spend. He likes his Abercrombie & Fitch. Would be the kind of guy to shop with girls. Only drinks Amstel Lite or Stella Artois, along with mixed drinks. Wears whatever GQ says to wear as fashion of the moment. Bought a Trucker cap 2 years ago. Has used a razor on other parts of his body besides his face. Will drink wine, as long as it is expensive. Fairly lazy about clothes, but has a nice enough selection that anything he wears looks fairly decent. Uses one bar of soap for his body & face. Would be the kind of guy to buy Ralph Lauren Paint. Likes expensive big dogs, like Ridgebacks, Burmese Mountain Dogs or Boxers.

Level 5: The confused Pretty Boy. He doesn't need to bring a girl with him to shop. Refuses to shop at Target or Wal-Mart. Works out at the gym 5 days a week to get killer abs and arms. Has a stylist. Coordinates clothing to what his date is wearing or the event he is attending. Shops at Barney's and Hugo Boss every other week. Will get a monthly pedicure. Snorts a lot of coke. Has three seperate soaps - one for body, one for face, one for crotch. He drinks mixed drinks, Red Bull and Vodka or imported wine. Will get his back & chest waxed. Occasionaly drinks imported beer that no one ever heard of. Gets designer cute dogs like Puggles, Pugs, French Bulldogs or Boston Terriers.

Level 6: The True Metrosexual. Gets his eyebrows threaded. Gets a manicure every other week. Is a slave to fashion and trends. Makes fun of girls (or guys!) who wear knock off designer clothes or bags. Watches Will & Grace. Has a variety of grooming products for his skin, costing hundreds of dollars. Got a $250 faux mowhawk "creation" from Bumble & Bumble. Goes to the gym to see his "friends". Drinks only champagne or mixed drinks with premium alcohol, never beer. Only goes to the hottest clubs, it doesn't matter gay or straight. Likes wearing tight shirts to show off his arms. Has a subscription to Details. Would get a dog like a Teacup Schnauzer or Italian Greyhound.

Beach Bum Tanning: Hoboken

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You can always count on Hoboken to never run out of sushi restaurants, nail salons and real estate offices in the near future. Also on that list are tanning salons. With the yuppie residents working long hours under flourscent lights, the only tan they will get will be from the radiation coming off their computer monitors.

I will admit that i'm a "electric beach" advocate. I'm not going to sit here and try to sell people on tanning. Either you like it or you don't. I, myself, believe that if done in moderation and proper care that it isn't any more harmful than sitting outside in direct sunlight. Having my Italian / (black) Irish skin I tan easily, so for me using a tanning bed is a good way to start a base tan before the summer months. In years past, with all of my golfing I got a nice "farmers tan" which looked ridiculous. Instead of sitting on Pier A to fix this, i'd just bop down to a tanning salon to even the tanlines out.

I have been to a few places in town and found i'm basically satisfied with their service. Most of the employees I meet there are usually not very happy to be working there, and have the charm of a potted plant. Some places have a very industrial look to their business. Some are located below ground. Some are just too far away for me to really be interested in trekking to their location.

On my way home from Club H on Sinatra, Beach Bum Tanning opened their doors for the first time. It was only a few doors down. I stopped in to snap some pictures and look around the place.

Imagine my surprise when entering BBT I was greeted by four very enthusiastic employees. Being the proper salespeople they were quick to go over the different tan bed designs and Tanning Consultation Guide, along with being nice to show me around the place. Not only was I impressed with their good customer service, but the business itself is very charming and clean for a tanning salon.

They have different service levels, depending on the bed that you are interested in using. Each bed has a different design that will generate a certain level of UVA & UVB rays. Each are essential in tanning, and I will leave it to the sales people to try and explain the various differences. They also have spray-on tan machines, and from what I am told, they are using top of the line "California Tan Sunless" machine.

Here are the different tanning levels. For the members of Club H, you get 15% off every tanning session or packages:
Bronze, $9 per tan session, 5 tans $35, 10 tans $59...up to 50 tans for $199.
Silver, $12 per tan session, 5 tans $45, 10 tans $79 and up to 50 tans for $199.
Gold not available in Hoboken.
Platinum, $20 per tan session, 3 tans $49, 5 tans $75, 10 tans $129 and up to 50 tans $499.
Titanium, $25 per tan session, 3 tans $59, 5 tans $95, 10 tans $169 and up to 50 tans $599.
Diamond, $30 per tan session, 3 tans $69, 5 tans $109, 10 tans $199 and up to 50 tans $699.

Just a warning but the packages DO EXPIRE. 3 tans expire in 1 month. 5 tans expires in 3 months. 10 tans expires in 6 months. 20 tans or more expire in 1 year.

Each tanning level you can buy a beach pass, which gives 1 month unlimited tanning on that level's specific bed. For example, Diamond has the top of the line bed, the P-90. It has a mix of UVA at 90% and UVB at 10%, which, from what I was told, was ideal for getting that "perfect tan".

There are also Beach Passes available for each Tanning level. Basically you can get 30 days of consecutive tanning, for an annual fee. You need a 3 month minimum commitment and also pay a cancellation fee to stop the plan. It sounds harsh, but you actually save a good deal of money if you are someone who tans frequently.

Just another option in town for you to try. I know that I will probably try out that new P-90 soon. Here are some more pictures I snapped...

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Farewell Smoky Bars!

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I'm very happy to see the smoking ban come into effect for New Jersey. I quit on October 13, 2003, and wrote about it here in an old entry..

Hoboken 411

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New site in town, written by some friends of mine. Check out Hoboken411...

Hoboken411.com

It reviews restaurants, businesses and the Hoboken scene. Crisp design and great pictures over there. Very interactive, you can comment too.

The Business Class PATH Seat

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Everyday when I take the PATH train home, I always try to get a seat in business class.

Didn't you know that the PATH train has business class seats?

When the PATH trains were first designed 30 years ago, the seats were made for one individual, of certain size and weight. I'm sure in 1975, the average rider fit just perfectly in those plastic molded seats, with plenty of room for other riders to sit next to each other. Sadly, due to our Supersize Nation, our girths have expanded, with less room between other passengers. Countless times I have had a large hipped passenger decide that it was ok to wedge her ass between me and another rider, just because a seat was open.

After a short while I discovered the business class seats in the PATH train.

Each train car has 1 or 2 (it depends there are different car designs on the PATH) of these seats. They are located by the inter-train doors: the doors that you open to walk between trains. The seat, itself, is the last seat in the row, and has about an extra 4 inches of plastic panel between the seat and the end of the car. It may not sound like a lot, but that extra room allows me to cross my legs while reading a paper, or just scoot a bit further away to the right from the passenger that sits on my left side - and avoiding their "ham shank legs".

To get this seat, each day when I take the PATH at the 34th street station, I will usually walk down the platform, to the second to last car. Most people who board get on the first 3 train cars, and getting to the business class seat is usually a hassle. Normally when I walk to the second to last car, there are maybe one or two people waiting. I know where the doors will open, and stand right where they open up, making sure i'm first on the car and making sure I can get the same seat nearly everyday.

Imagine my surprise yesterday when I was boarding the train and someone tried to take my seat. I will explain.

It was like any other day and I was lined up for the door. The train was rolling into the station and a taller girl, with dark hair and a cream colored long coat stood next to me, waiting for the door also. I was a bit perplexed, because where we were on the platform, she could have waited at ANY door. There wasn't anyone else.

I was there first. She was going to try and take the business class seat. Call it a moment of clarity, but I knew she was going to try and use her feminine wiles, thinking i'd let her on first, and then she would sit at the only seat that I really enjoy sitting at on the PATH - the business class seat.

The train came to a stop, and we were both with small, minute moves, jockeying for position at the door. I'm 6'3, and much larger than her, but I was in the disadvantage because I was on the left side of the door and she was on the right side of the door. When the doors opened, I would have to walk across her left side to edge her out of the seat.

The doors opened and I made my move.

I didn't touch her, I just made a quick move to the seat and sat down. I notice on the corner of my eye she tried to go in my direction, but then sat down at another seat. So, i'm happily getting out my magazine and crossing my leg when I notice her quickly stand up. I glance over at her, and she walks away, then looks behind her - directly at me. She gives me the MOST withering stare I have ever gotten. To me it spoke "You fucking bastard I wanted that seat!"

Trust me, I know she wanted that business class seat. If I was imagining that she was gunning to get on the train before me, I now know that she was angry because of that look she gave me. It wasn't an angry look of "Why did you walk in front of me". It was easily a look of, "You took my seat!"

She walked to the other end of the car and sat down, with a pissy look on her face. Me? I was absolutely chuckling to myself while I read my magazine the entire ride.

You know, its just the little things in life that I enjoy.

Don't Forget To Turn Out The Lights...

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Living in Hoboken for the better part of 10 years I have learned that one of the things that defines your experience in town is the bar you associate with.

Each bar has it's own varying "reputation" if you will. Some bars are guido hangouts. Some bars are for the snobs. Some bars are dives. Some are neighborhood pubs. Some are irish hangouts. Some have a great music scene.

When I first moved in to town, I didn't know anyone. At my 9 to 5 job I met some co-workers who lived in Hoboken and they marched me over to Hennessy's bar, which was located on Newark street, in between River and Hudson streets. It was one of many irish pubs in town, with a decent weekend crowd and strong group of regulars. I became part of the regulars, friends with the bartenders and those early years were filled with drinking, laughs and comraderie.

Hennessy's changed owners, and the bartenders there moved to midtown to a new bar called "Farside". Farside was "our" new home. All the regulars from Hennessy's moved with the bartenders to the new bar, along with hanging out at Moran's. We were a motley crew of non-conformists, some locals and some yuppies. We liked to drink, play darts, listen to Patrick Fleming and play late night card games. Many a holiday we spent together, plenty of adventures outside of Hoboken we had and we had the common bond of the bar that kept us together. New faces would show up and old friends would leave, but we always had Farside.

Then Dipper's opened up in late 2001. It used to be Dooley's, a bar that I would go every once in a while to order some food or watch football. I didn't frequent Dooley's very much - the "regulars" didn't go there, and we didn't really know the bartenders. After Dipper took over the bar, he took on my friend Joe as a manager. Joe handpicked the new bartenders, bringing in "people he could trust behind the bar". He approached me about bartending, and I was very interested. I saw how much fun Goody and Kenny had at Farside, and wanted to have that same fun also. To me, the money was secondary. I had my 9 to 5 job - I was just looking forward to having a good time.

Like I wrote before, every bar has a reputation. Dipper's, to me, was a neighborhood pub. It was located smack dab in the middle of town, and looked like its decoration budget was $500. You didn't take someone to Dipper's for its "scene", you took someone there because you either knew a bartender or knew a patron. Dipper was very involved with making sure we treated the customer right. He set up "comment cards" and would ask customers what changes he could make to make the bar better. Some he attended to, some he disregarded, but he would always be willing to listen.

It was cool to be at the bar when it first opened, because all the bartenders had so many ideas to try out. We had bands that would play at the bar, we tried theme nights, martini nights, shot nights, ladies nights, dart leagues, Golden Tee league, football clubs (Go Birds!) and trivia nights. Some worked, and some didn't. But it was still very exciting, because Dipper just let the employees do whatever they wanted - as long as if we were generating a profit.

The bar wasn't about making money, it also a social scene for many of our regulars. Dipper's is easily responsible for many marriages, friendships and of course a few break ups, too. Oh, I had my share of good girls and psycho girls that I met there. But I want to take this time for a special shout out to some of my coworkers who made the last 1500+ days special:

Joe: You took a chance on me, and I always appreciated it. I think until the day we die, we will both chuckle over the 'Twin Story'.

Teresa: T - you and I, bartending Friday nights. Listening to Rage Against The Machine and Beastie Boys, having a blast behind the bar. I will bartend with you any day of the week.

Chris: I think you were the most underappreciated bartender at Dipper's. You were like the unofficial owner of the bar and the hardest working bartender I ever saw, plus having a spot-on Rodney Dangerfield impression always made me laugh.

Tom: We had our ups and downs, but I have to admit that now the ride is over I'm proud to have worked for you. My only complaint is that for the last 4 years I had to explain why you called the bar "Dipper's". Meh!

Heather: Heather, you are easily one of the nicest people I know. If I had a nickel for every person you charmed (I'm looking your way Nikki & Jay), I would have a bag of nickels. You can have your choice of bars to work in town - you would have a legion of people who would go there just to visit you.

I have told people before that our bar, like Farside and Hennessy's, was like a "Cheers!" kind of pub. A place that if you were the bartenders knew your name (and your favorite drink), we would get you drunk and show you a good time. The bar could be hit or miss. Some nights we would get a great, fun crowd and some nights it was D E A D.

The demographics of Hoboken is changing, and the type of bar-goer is changing along with it. Less and less 20-something college graduates are moving into town, only to be replaced with 30-something homeowners with a more discerning choice of venue. Bars like Trinity, Lua, 3 Forty and The Madison are popular for a reason - they attract the crowds because of the way they are designed. I remember The Madison when it was a non descript sports bar, that was never very popular. But, once renovated, it became the bar to be seen at.

Dipper's would never be those bars, nor did we ever want to be those bars. The last 4 years we did well enough, and Tom made a tidy profit from his sale. Contrary to any rumors, Tom sold the bar because he lives in Virginia and has a booming business with the U.S. Government. His orginial idea to buying the bar was that he hoped his children would want to run it eventually - but they didn't. They had other aspirations in life. So, he sold it at a very nice profit. That's it. It's that simple.

It is an end of an era. A slice of my life that is over and I enjoyed most of it, with a few minor issues that were an annoyance. No matter what other ignorant people can write about Dipper's, it wasn't the Taj Mahal, but it was the home away from home for a lot of Hobokenites over the last 4 years. It will be missed.

Yesterday was one of those rare days when I actually feel the load of life slip off my back and think that maybe, for once, things were going right.

If you have been reading the blog for a few months now, it seems that Lady Luck has been really pissed off at me for leaving the toilet seat down in our apartment of life.

But she can only stay angry at me for so long, I suppose.

As you know, I had leg surgery 2 weeks ago. It was to remove a titanium bolt from my tibula, which was put in there so the government could track my ever....I mean, it was put in there to fix a broken bone.

The last two weeks haven't been a lot of fun. Like, I couldn't take showers, for example. For two weeks. Oh, I could run the shower and lean inside of the shower and wash my hair - but I couldn't get my wound wet, for risk of infection. So every other day i'm leaning inside the shower, washing my hair and then I have to stand at the sink and bathe. I would take a washcloth and it was like I was an extra on the set of Deadwood. Showers are relaxing, this was tedious. Some mornings I would wake up for work - look at my hair and just say "Bleh, its good enough to get through the day" and go into work. I was regressing to a 3rd grade level.

But yesterday I was freed from the shackles of my staples. Dr. D (a great orthopedic doctor in Manhattan that Lisa recommended), removed the staples from my leg and I could instantly feel the skin expand. The staples pinched the leg for the last 2 weeks, and it was like instant relief, I felt so much better when walking.

Plus, he gave me the green light to walk without crutches. He said "No running, no jumping, stay away from pitcher's mounds..."

Yea, real funny, doc. I haven't heard that before.

The whole leg saga finally felt over. This whole crappy situation started last May and now it was behind me. No more surgery. No more titanium bolt. No more crutches. It was over. I was nearly skipping down Lexington Avenue and feeling great.

At the end of the day I went to Mad One Jack's for a haircut. My mood was already feeling good and going there made it even better. If you didn't read my write up about Jack's before - its simply a great establishment. You walk in and everyone is NICE. After going there for a few months - Jack, the receptionist, and other hairdressers all greet me with a, "Hi Furey!"

They are genuinely friendly. When I used to get my hair cut at a stylish Manhattan salon - I never got that. My old hairdresser, Barbara, was awesome and I loved to see her. She was probably the only reason why I kept going and paying that much for a haircut. But Jack is proof that there are people who can do just as good as a job - and cost less.

So while i'm chatting to Jack - he tells me that people read my article about his place, came into his salon and said, "Yea I read about your place from Furey's blog on www.philly2hoboken.com..."

I was tickled to hear that. It is very of cool to hear that. I get a lot of people who email and tell me that they like the site, which is always nice to hear a compliment, but even more cool to hear that an owner of a great hair salon is getting more business because of what I write. Kudos to Jack & Co!

After leaving the salon, I was feeling great. I'm the kind of guy who just walks down the street and i'm in my own world. My friends will walk within a foot of me and get angry that I didn't notice them. Hey, i'm just bad like that. But this day, i'm walking down the street, and taking in the world around me, it was just feeling like a good night.

I decide that I want do my usual routine of Wednesday sushi. I went into Sushi House - to try something new. I was going to get something to-go, and watch Lost at home. But, to my dismay, the sushi deluxe at Sushi House comes with a Manhattan Roll (Salmon), and not a Spicy Tuna Roll. I asked if I could substitue a Spicy Tuna roll and they said it would cost extra. Screw that, I went to Maru instead.

Maru, on 2nd and Washington, is in my rotation of Hoboken Sushi restaurants. I go to Sushi Lounge when i'm with a group of people, I get Robongi when I want take out, and I eat at Maru when I want to sit at the Sushi bar and talk to the chefs.

Before going to Maru I stopped at the liquor store three doors down from the restaurant. I grabbed a chilled silver can of Sapporo for $3.50 (something which angers me about Sushi Lounge where they charge me $7 for a pint of Sapporo!!), and went into the restaurant.

The super-nice waitstaff showed me to the bar, took the Sapporo can from me and poured it into a beer glass. I ordered up edamame and a sushi deluxe and read my newspaper for a bit while drinking the beer. I was amped, feeling good and you know that feeling of relaxation right after you have a sip of delicious, cold beer? You exhale and the worries just float away.

Once they served me the sushi deluxe, the chef mentions that he gave me a special pate roll to try and if I didn't want it - he could replace it with something different. I declined, saying that I was happy to try it.

So while I ate, I chatted with the chef, talking about Sushi Yasuda, Tomoe, and where he learned his skill. I found out that Tomoe is pronounced TOh-MoE-A. 020206.jpg I was pronouncing it TOh-May. That's nice to know. The chef, Terry, was a bit hard to understand with his accent and the music in the restaurant. I'm the type of person who likes to learn about things. If I drink wine - I really get into where the wine is made, what kind of grape is used and what kind of food should be paired with the wine.

So I started to ask him all sorts of questions about eating sushi. He went on to explain that there is "summer sushi and winter sushi" - times when the fish is better to serve depending on the season. I found the presentation of the sushi at Maru to be top notch. Unlike many other Hoboken sushi restaurants, Maru really puts attention into the details. Some of the sushi were ungarnished. Some had a light garnish. Others had a light sauce on top. One had a razor thin slice of lemon on it. I commented how I loved the seaweed they used for the spicy tuna roll - he went on to explain that there are "grades" of seaweed that places use. Maru used the higher grade seaweed, which should just crunch easily in your mouth, and not be chewy like many other lower grade seaweed.

I got on to the subject about how I used to write restaurant reviews for Hobokeni, and still do it from time to time. He said, "I thought I recognized you."

I blinked.

He said, "Yes, I read a website a few weeks ago about a guy who was going to go to Sushi Lounge and then saw a cute girl in the window at Maru and gave it a try..."

He was reciting my blog entry!

Are you kidding me? Not only is Jack at Mad One Jack's telling me about people reading my blog and coming to his salon, but now that Terry, the chef at Maru is saying he read my blog? Come on.

Well I was flattered, to say the least.

What a great day. I paid my bill, thanked Terry and told him that I would absolutely be back again.

I try to tell people about Hoboken, and Jack's and Maru are just two examples why I love this town so much. I don't feel that same closeness while I work in New York. The owners of stores there have seen me for 10 years and barely give me a grunt when they see me. Hoboken has that small-town experience, which is so very gratifying.

Mr. Rogers would be proud.

Sushi and Me: Review of Maru Sushi

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I, myself, was not in a family of sushi lovers. I used to be one of those people who would laugh at the raw fish eaters and part of my ignorance was because I was never properly introduced to sushi.

My first experience with sushi was in Ocean City, NJ, on the boardwalk at some hole in the wall establishment run by people who were as Asian as me. It was terrible, I hated it and it just reaffirmed my hatred of raw fish for many years. In 1999, my brother and his wife moved to New York, in an apartment on Duane Street in SoHo. They, being the quintessential yuppies, loved sushi and decided to formally get me interested in it - by taking me to a proper sushi bar.

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They decided on Tomoe, on Thompson. If you haven't been to Tomoe, well it certainly ranks up there with one of the better sushi bars in the city. What it lacks in decor and size it certainly makes up for in fish quality and deliciousness. It began with much trepidation, but my fears were soon allayed and I was hooked (no pun intended).

Fast forward seven years and i'm now in Hoboken, where I eat sushi at least once a week. My trips to Tomoe are few and far between, and I find myself trying various establishments in Hoboken over the years for my sushi fix. In recent memory, our town has seen an explosive growth of sushi or Japanese restaurants: Sushi Lounge, Sushi House, Robongi, and Illuzion to name a few.

Before the sushi purists read the rest, I will save us all time. Don't email me and or add comments about how Hoboken sushi can't compare to New York. Yes, I know this. New York rules. But for Hoboken, and my standards, the quality of the fish I have discovered has been pleasantly surprising..

Up until lately, I would usually dine at Sushi Lounge every Wednesday, at the bar around 7pm. I would sit down and order the same thing every week - a bottle of Sapporo, an order of edamame & a sushi deluxe (Sushi Lounge calls it the "Sushi Rock"). When I eat sushi, I add only a small bit of soy sauce (with wasabi mixed in) to the edge of the sushi. Pet Peeve Alert: I really hate people who DUNK the entire piece of fish into their bowl and saturate the entire thing. Why not just drink the soy sauce, people?

Anyhow, that was my routine for a few weeks. I liked being able to sit at a bar, order sushi and have a drink. My only thing that I didn't like about Sushi Lounge is that the Sapporo was $7 for a 16 ounce bottle. Sure, I understand the whole cost/drink ratio of bars and restaurants, but $7? The beer was ice cold, and I loved that, but paying over $20 for my food and 1/3 of that was for 1 drink - it would always annoy me when I got the bill. But I would pay my 20% and still would walk away satisfied.

If I didn't want to sit down for sushi, I would normally order from Robongi. When Robongi first opened, I hated it. I would constantly find scales in my fish, and whoever the head chef was, didn't do a good job. But, as of the last year, Robongi has been delicious and the scale problem disappeared. This is the place that I would order takeout, and enjoy eating at my apartment.

Yesterday some people were talking about sushi on Hobokenchat, and we talked about our interests in sushi. It was Wednesday and I was jonesing for some raw fish, but didn't want to walk in the rain (I forgot my umbrella) to Sushi Lounge.

Instead, I went home and thought I would try Illuzion for the first time. I went to the 7th and Park liquor store and bought a 6 bottle pack of Sapporo, for $8.50. $8.50! I stopped by the dry cleaner to get my clothes at Sarah Cleaners. The girl who works there (is it Sarah? Or is Sarah the owner and she doesn't work the place?) is Korean and extremely nice. She has the most adorable Yorkie named Asia, that I love to play with each time I go in there.

I was holding my six pack and she said, "It has been a long day I need a drink too!" I replied, "Yea why don't you come back to my place and I will give you a cup of Furey..."

I kid! I kid!

No, I mentioned how I was going to order sushi and the first thing she said was, "Maru!" and gestured towards Washington Street.

Ah, yes, Maru. The red headed stepchild of Hoboken sushi. Before the recent influx of japanese restaurants, Maru has always been the quiet favorite amongst the established Hoboken resident. I never really went there because i'm your typical Gen X - we like the trendy looking places over the non-trendy. Sushi Lounge was, well, cool. Flat screen TV's and black glossy bar with a great soundsystem playing house music. I was drawn into that place like a fly on sugar.

Maru was stodgy and old. Like the defunct Tamura II - it just didn't visually appeal to me. So I never went to that restaurant. In the last year or so, I noticed that they actually renovated their interior, and it wasn't on the same level as Sushi Lounge, it looked much nicer inside.

Once Sarah (?) mentioned Maru, I decided to give them a try again.

I did go to Maru once before. The first time I tried Maru I was passing by the restaurant one night and dedided to try it. I saw an absolutely gorgeous girl sitting in the window, who was waiting for sushi and talking on a cell phone. I wanted her - and I wanted sushi, so I went in to order. Sadly the cell phone girl was engrossed in her conversation and I didn't get to chat her up. My second strike was that this night that one of their chefs called out sick. I literally sat there for 30 minutes for a takeout order of a sushi deluxe. I wasn't happy on both counts and I really wasn't impressed with my sushi order.

But I usually give restaurants a second chance. I learned in my days of restaurant reviews for Hobokeni - that you really shouldn't go to a restaurant once and try to write a review. Businesses are like people - they can have good nights or bad nights.

I went home, iced down the Sapporo and ordered from Maru over the phone. My order was delivered 30 minutes later, and i'm trying to think the best way to describe this...

It was absolutely fucking God damn ridiculously delicious.

Yes, I just took the Lord's name in vain. I'm sorry, it had to be done.

Holy shit (there I go again), what the fuck just happened? This was dee-lic-ious (that's three syllables people). I was in 7th Heaven with that takeout order, drinking my $1.50 Sapporo and watching TV while tapping my feet and wolfing down the fish.

Farewell, Robongi! I loved ya, babe, but I have a new takeout lover in my life.

If you haven't tried Maru, well, make sure you try it soon:
Hours - (Please confirm) Mon-Thu 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-10:30pm, Fri 11:30am-3pm, 5pm-11pm, Sat 12noon-11pm, Sun 12noon-10pm
Address - 219 Washington St
Telephone - (201) 798-3311

Free Advice: Never order fish on a Monday. I always get sushi on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday for good reason - that is usually when you have the best chances to get FRESH fish.

On the other side of the Hudson, I try, in vain to explain why Hoboken is a great town to live in. Most of the reactions I get vary from feigned amusement to outright derision for anything associated with New Jersey.

I know where that is coming from. I lived outside Philadelphia and we used to think the same think about "people from Jersey". Making fun of a Jersey resident was like an Englishman making fun of someone from Poland - there was always a good joke waiting to make fun of those people because of some air of superiority that is assumed.

If you talk to anyone from New York City, especially Manhattan, there is a chip on their shoulder attitude that most have. They could be from Topeka, Kansas and lived in Manhattan for 2 years, but they were a "New Yorker" now because they saw Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in concert before anyone else and go to Magnolia Bakery on Saturdays, while walking their puggle in the West Village, plus talking on their black RAZR cell phone, and pushing their Peg Perego Pliko P3 Classico Stroller with their colorful "garden boots".

Can Hoboken be compared to Manhattan? Of course not. Manhattan is enormous, with so many different neighborhoods, from the likes of the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, The Village, SoHo, NoHo, Murray Hill and Hell's Kitchen. I wouldn't even dare to throw Hoboken to the wolves and think we contend.

There are plenty of negatives about Hoboken, but i'm here to list a few positives, that are things I like...

1. I like being able to go into New York and then come home to Hoboken. It is just "less busy" to me. I feel like when I walk around the New York sidewalks I need to be going somewhere.

2. I like the girls around here. Plain and simple. Every day I take the PATH train to work, go to the bars around town, or workout at the gym (ok, to be honest my gym time has been bad as of late) I constantly see beautiful women that are "my type".

3. One of my past times before the blog was writing restaurant reviews for Hobokeni. I would go to the restaurant, have a meal, pay for it and then interview the owners afterwards for a "guy on the street" perspective of their establishment. I wasn't trying to come off with phony pretenses or false airs, I was just a regular guy writing a review. I love the restaurants we have in town, there are so many great places to choose from Japanese to Italian to Indian to Chinese to classic American. Aside from Frankie and Jonnie's - I think Hoboken could use a quality steakhouse (Arthur's is very average), I dream of the day "Peter Luger: Hoboken" opens.

4. I like my car. I may only use it twice a month for a weekend getaway, but I lived without a car for years and still missed having the freedom to go where I want when I wanted. Sure, its an added expense, but try renting a parking spot in New York City, it is about triple of what you would pay in Hoboken. Or you can just park on the street, as long as if you move the car every week and it costs $10 for a year long parking pass.

5. Festivals. I can't count them all but Hoboken has about 5-6 block parties a year. Arts & Music Festival is the most popular - and that is run twice a year in the summer. We have our own St. Patrick's Day Parade, and it's a blast.

6. The People. I like everyone I meet around here. There is a great community that Hoboken has, from people who have been long time residents to the newcomers who want to contribute to the town. More often than not I find myself using the term "down to earth" when describing someone who lives in Hoboken. We get a lot of down to earth people around here, and it seems that the snobby/class A types are over in Manhattan. They can stay there, thanks.

7. One of the best skylines across the water. Hey, I love New York City, too. I just like living in Hoboken and one of the best parts of my day is my walk home from the PATH station, along the Hudson, and looking at the New York City skyline. It's picturesque, and on certain nights when the moon is just right, almost magical. You really feel like you are living next to the seat of the civilized world, what it must have felt like to been living in or around Rome 2,000 years ago.

People always ask me, "Why don't you move into New York city?". My #1 reason is that my rent is fairly inexpensive, and i'd rather use the money I save renting to treat myself in whatever way I choose. I have a lot of purchase power every month by saving about $800-1,000 by not living in New York. I can do just about anything a New Yorker can do - I can go to the same shows, plays, bars, clubs and restaurants. I have the PATH train which runs all night to take me home, just like if I were living in Queens, Brooklyn or the Bronx.

When I started this website, I was going to call it The Sixth Borough, thesixthborough.com - but the variations of that name were all taken by other sites. I really do feel like Hoboken is the real sixth borough to New York, but we are like the Rodney Dangerfield of boroughs - we get no respect.

Maybe the day will change when that happens. With the standard websites like Hobokeni.com and the latest one, RealHoboken.com, I think a lot of opinions about this town are slowly changing over the years. Sure, we aren't going to be in the same stratospehere as Manhattan, but we certainly just can't be considered "Jersey". We are more like New York Jersey.

Before anyone from New York reads this and says, "Wait, New York is so much better...". Yes, you win. But Hoboken certainly is a great little town for those of us who do like it around here.

Hoboken's Secret Entrance

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For years I lived in Hoboken without a car. All of my trips back to Philadelphia were on the train from Newark. One year, my sister and brother in law offered me their used 1993 Volvo for about $7,000 and I was free to drive anywhere I wanted at anytime I wanted.

Then I realized what I didn't miss about driving - traffic.

If you are like me, and take frequent trips out of town on the holidays and happen to arrive near the Holland Tunnel around peak driving times, it is always backed up. For years I used to sit in this traffic, and would always wonder if there was a back street way to drive into Hoboken via Jersey City. I was a bit afraid of getting off the highway and making a wrong turn - and ending up in an episode of "COPS", if you know what I mean.

This is what I call the "Secret Entrance" into Hoboken if you are coming from out of town. For years I didn't know about this, and it wasn't until trial and error that I found out about using this route into Hoboken. Maybe you already know about it, and if you do, congratulations! If you don't, well, I hope it serves you well, it easily will shave off a good 10-30 minutes of sitting in traffic at the Holland Tunnel light (depending on traffic).

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  1. After you pass exit 14B, heading towards exit 14C, and you pass the final set of tolls, there will be an exit marked "Jersey City / Columbus Drive". Take that exit into Jersey City.

  2. Go down the offramp, and thru the first light. The road will come to a curved "T" section, with traffic directed right or a stop sign for those going left. Follow it to the right onto Columbus Drive. Go to the second light.

  3. At the second light is Monmouth Street. Make a left on to Monmouth.

  4. Follow Monmouth 14 blocks to 14th Street (remember, this is Jersey City's 14th street). Make a right at 14th street. You will notice that just before you get to 14th street, you drive under a few overpasses: it's all the tunnel traffic above you!

  5. At 14th, you make a first left on to Coles St. Ahead of you, there will be the large white building that says "American Self Storage". On Coles, you drive four blocks to 18th street.

  6. On 18th, you make a right (if you can go left here, it would take you to the Storage building) and the first light you come to, a block away, you make a left on to Jersey Avenue.

  7. As soon as you do that - you will see the turn on to Newark Avenue and the large "Welcome to Hoboken" bridge.

There are other ways and other roads, that i'm sure to get comments or emails about - but this is certainly the best way to also avoid any lights and I believe the quickest way, too. I used to take Columbus Drive to Washington Street (Jersey City's Washington Street) and that has a trillion lights and takes far longer than my "secret" route.

I guess it's not a secret anymore!

*Oh technically this is also a trick to bypassing all the traffic waiting at the offramp. Instead of making a left on to Jersey Avenue, you can make a right and the second light make a left to the Holland Tunnel, which will be right in front of you. Unless you like waiting in line on the ramp...

Syrup Smell Coming To Hoboken?

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Anyone else notice the syrupy smell on their PATH ride this morning?

Aside from the normal smells of urine, rat hair and too much cologne, I could easily smell a sweet smell, much like 121505.jpg Mrs. Butterworth herself was sitting next to me.

It started as soon as I sat down on the train in Hoboken and continued the whole time to 33rd street.

There has already been reports in the last couple of weeks about that odd syrup smell. I noticed it weeks ago, across the water in Hoboken.

I asked a few people on the train if they smelled syrup and they all had the same abashed reaction and sheepishly agreed with me.

Anyone have any idea what it could be?

Crema Lita

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The ice cream and pastry shop, Crema Lita, opened on Friday in Hoboken on the corner of 5th and Washington. Since it was a blustry autumn day I opted to hold off on trying their ice cream, but did buy some of their SoHo bakery cupcakes. Very tasty, but not sure if they are worth $1.90 each.

I was able to meet Ms. Kim, the owner and thanked her profusely for not opening up a Nail Salon, Sushi Restaurant or Real Estate office.

Dipper's Haunted?

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I worked at Dipper's when it first opened, changing from Dooley's to its present form. One of the creepy aspects to the job was its basement, which was very old. It was so old that it has a brick coal storage room that extends to the present day Washington street. Every time I used to work late nights alone at the bar, closing up was always very eerie. Sounds, noises and cold feelings would play tricks on me and I remarked to a few people how much I didn't like being in the bar alone.

It turns out that other people working there described similar feelings of dread, and we all started to think the bar was haunted. No one ever saw anything, but you would get that feeling that someone is watching you. Your skin would get the chills and goose bumps are common. No one has seen anything, and there is only one story that I have heard from someone working there.

Chris was working at the bar late one night, closing the bar and finishing work on the register. Tall Heather was there with him, at the end of the bar having a drink. From how the story was told to me, Chris was occupied doing his work but caught on the corner of his eye, a movement at the end of the bar where Heather sat. A pen flew into the air, off the bar, and landed on the floor. Heather didn't touch the pen. Chris certainly didn't throw the pen. It just went into the air and on to the ground on its own. Both of them were very perplexed about the situation and jokingly said the ghost must have moved it.

So imagine my surprise when I was looking at the digital photos from last Saturday night. The cloud was smoke blown from a patron next to me. But look AT the cloud. I see a skull in the cloud, do you? I didn't alter this image in any way, nor did I do any photoshopping here. I think it is pretty freaky.

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Here were the 1st and 2nd place winners of our costume contest. On the left is Al & Peg Bundy. On the right is a biker guy (no, he really is in costume, we know how he normally dresses and he looked amazing). Congrats to both!

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Chris dressed up as a beer bottle, he looked hilarious. Also had some good lines whenever he would say something sarcastic..."Hey, it's just the beer talking..."

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DC's Record Swap

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I got this from a friend of mine...yes I have one or two...

Is it October already? Well then, here we go again for one of my favorite legal activities...THE DC'S TAVERN SATURDAY RECORD SWAP! Four times a year we try to make everyone happy like drunken Santa's with our sacks filled with vinyl. And a one, a two, a three "...our sacks filled with vinyl!" That's enough comic relief for one email. Eating & drinking with vinyl swapping, selling, and buying just like a 70's Swingers Porn.

If all goes well we'll have several sets of music spun by a variety of DJ's including myself (Primitive Sound System), Greg Tormo, Todd-O-Phonic Todd, and a few DJ's who haven't gotten back to us. (You know who you are.)

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On top of the usual attraction of food, alcohol and vinyl I'll have boxes of slightly off copies of "Grooovy Sounds Unltd. and Mr. Fine Wine Presents: The Vital Organs - Vol. 1" Unfortunately some of the copies were stored improperly and have an ever so slight warp. The copies can't be sold to distributors but are more than playable. If condition is everything to you then you can get the last remaining Mint copies from Dusty Groove in Chicago via their website - http://www.dustygroove.com/varfunklp2.htm#27934 You can read about The Vital Organs here - http://recordbrother.typepad.com/imagesilike/2005/02/vital_organs_.html

Bring a box to sell or trade. Bring a friend. Bring something edible (if you are capable). Bring money for alcohol. Remember, if you're drinking don't drive, if you're driving don't drink and always tip your bartenders. (Jersey still smokes.)

[Keep in mind, not everyone is a hardcore collector. Just some guys and gals who want some good tunes whether it is rare or not is not an issue. Condition is not always everything when you are looking for records to listen to! Of course rare gems and mint condition records are always welcome.]

Saturday October 15th - 1/2PM - 8PM (We've been known to go later.)
DC's Tavern
"Back In Back"
505 8th Street (Between Jefferson and Madison)
Hoboken NJ
For More Info:
phone: 201-792-5550
www.dcstavern.com
email: dcs@dcstavern.com

Go to DC's and then make sure you come and see me at Dipper's this Saturday night afterwards. I'll be rocking out my new "80's Arena Rock" mix (Cheap Trick, Journey, REO Speedwagon and more) sometime that night.

New Lights At PATH Station?

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Finally someone woke up and said, "Perhaps we should install lights at the most congested part of Hoboken?"

I don't know how much good they will do, since people blindly cross the intersection anyhow. But at least it's a start.

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Mad One Jacks

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My hair and I have quite a history.

Back when I was in NROTC at Villanova, I had the high and tight hair, parted on the side. Once the program was terminated, I grew my hair long, went to Italy and came back as Eurotrash. Then I cut it for graduation, since my parents pleaded with me to do this.

When I moved up to town, a co-worker told me about a place 092005c.JPGon 22nd and First called Sigfrido's. I loved this place, it was an italian barber shop, open 7:30am to 6pm Monday thru Saturday. I think a haircut was $12, and they did the hot shaving cream and straight edge shave, too.

Then, I got a roommate from London named John, in 1999, and it was downhill from there. Sad to say, but he was the first guy I saw with the "bedhead" haircut. I was a fan, and knew that my italian barbers wouldn't have any idea what i'm talking about.

I have two rules when I shop for things - one, I like to buy the best I can. Two, I want to be as efficient as possible when I shop.

This was true for choosing a new place to get my haircut. I did a few internet searches on Metro New York. I really couldn't decide on a place, and finally broke down and chose Vidal Sassoon and met a great stylist named Barbara.

Yes, I know i'm going to get grief over this. We all spend money on what is important to us but frivilous to others. Clothes, hair, golf, food, wine, cars, PS2 games, whatever.

Expensive? Very. Great hair cut, loved it. Barbara was a cool woman, older - used to be in the punk rock scene at CBGB's in the 80's and had great stories.

I went to her for the last 5 years and each year Vidal kept upping the price of a haircut. As a guy paying for the haircut and tip every 5 weeks drains your wallet after a while.

I decided to try something local. But, i'm not the kind of guy that is going to go to Supercuts and get my hair trimmed by a pimply 17 year old kid from North Bergen who secretly hates yuppies.

I discreetly asked around to some guy friends about where they get their hair cut.

As a guy, have you ever tried to ask 092005b.JPGANOTHER guy where they get their haircut? It's breaking all sorts of hetero-guy rules. I may as well say, "Hey did you see the score of the Giants game...and by the way your ass looks great in those jeans, Bob!"

Alright. Maybe it's not that bad. You just have to make sure you ask someone you know.

If you are a guy who doesn't relate to my story, see if Sigfrido's is still open, 212-475-9513, and get a $12 buzz cut there (don't forget to tip!). If you are a guy who relates to my dilemma, I have a place for you in Hoboken to try: Mad One Jacks.

Have a doggie that needs walkin?

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A friend of mine has started a dog walking business. Her name is Kathleen and if you have a pooch in town that needs an hour walk a day - this is your girl.

I have known her for the better part of a year and met her through The Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken. But she gives the same kind of good lovin' to all dogs - even those that are Giant fans. :)

Know someone in Hoboken or Jersey City that needs their dog walked daily? She plays with the dogs and sends me emails about each of her little fellas that she walks. I'm jealous, it sounds like fun. Now if I could get a 401K and healthcare benefits, I just might quit my day job.

Of course, for her its fun NOW - just wait until winter, Kathleen!

I'm not sure on her rates, but if you shoot her an email: wardk66@yahoo.com - she certainly can talk to you about it.

Massage at Spa H

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I decided this week to treat myself to one of my favorite ways to indulge myself - with a massage. I'm a fan of massages, head rubs or back scratches. Any of my ex-girlfriends can attest to this. I will return the favor, and I think i'm fairly good at it.

I had 082205.jpgto decide where in Hoboken to get a massage, and there are many places you can get one. I chose Spa H, formerly known as River Spa (3 months after River Spa opened another spa trademarked the name "River Spa"). I chose the spa for two reasons:

1. It was bright, clean and new. The facility just opened less than a year ago and the design is much like Club H's environment. I have been to some massage parlors in the city that, while cheap, had each "booth" just seperated by a curtain. I wasn't interested in hearing someone next to me get a massage.

2. Club H members get 10% off all services. The massage, normally $90 - was only $81 with the discount. For all the money I pay at Club H - it's nice to get a break for being a member.

I could go into fanciful details about the massage, but it was just as expected. An hour long massage. I chose a Swedish massage, but in retrospect I probably should have gotten a deep tissue massage. I am very tight and sore from working out 4 days a week, plus it really felt great to get my injured leg worked on.

I did talk to my massage therapist and decided to ask her some straightforward questions about her job. I figured that i'd share them with you, so that the rest of Hoboken can learn a thing or two from your friendly neighborhood massage therapists.

1. They are massage therapists, not a masseurs or masseuses. I learned this because I was about to ask Amanda, the massage therapist, her advice on "good" clients and began by saying "As a masseuse...". As soon as I said those three words, I could immediately tell I used the wrong words. We had been chatting amiciably during the massage, and it was a small and slight change in the vibe I got from her that I knew I used the wrong word. I immediately corrected myself and said "Wait - do you guys call yourselves that? What's the proper term". She informed me that a "masseuse" is a bit of a deragatory word which categorizes her profession, but also those that would be found in the back pages of the Village Voice - if you know what I mean. Massage Therapists prefer not to be called a "masseuse". Learn from Furey.

2. Tipping is important. As a bartender, and working as a waiter during my adolescent summers at Ocean City, I learned about how important it was to tip properly. I paid $81 for a massage. If I was at dinner, and had an $81 dollar meal, I would have tipped about $15-20, depending on the service and quality of the meal. The same is true for a massage. If you get a massage, expect to tip in the same range. A $5 tip isn't cutting it, folks.

3. Take your happy endings and shove it. While writing this I was expecting a few snarky emails on Monday asking "Did ya get a happy ending - har har har...". Massage Therapists are performing a job to help you. Guys, no matter how great the massage was, they aren't there for you to hit on them. If you happen to see your massage therapist in a bar, hey, buy 'em a drink - and try to impress them about how much money you make or what kind of car you drive. But at Spa H, or any spa, let the professionals perform their jobs.

4. Hygiene is important. If you just had a big workout - TAKE A SHOWER BEFORE YOU GET A MASSAGE. That means, soap, water and a washcloth. Amanda told me how some people don't exfoliate their skin and during the massage the skin peels off and gets under her nails. How disgusting! It is simply considerate to make sure you don't smell like a New York City cab driver or are sweating like Michael Jackson at a nursery school before you get a massage.

5. Get there early. If you make an appointment for 7pm, try to be there 6:50pm. Massage Therapists are on a schedule. They have clients every hour, so if you are late - that means less blissful massaging for you. Also, that backs up their other appointments if they do give you the full hour. Again, it's another simple way that you, as a client, can be considerate towards the massage therapist, who is trying to give you the very best experience possible.

I thought the massage was good, but at $81, it certainly isn't inexpensive. For the same price, I can get a similar massage in New York City. If you are living in Hoboken, you kind of expect that services around here would be a bit less expensive than the city.

I told Amanda that there were two types of people who lived in Hoboken: Those that love the town or those that can't afford New York. Those that can't afford New York are probably the same people who are poor tippers. They aren't going to shell out $90 for a massage but when they do, they would be the type to skimp on a tip. They are the same people who tip $1 after making them 3 mixed drinks and a Cosmo.

I'm always interested in your comments and emails. If anyone has another spa for me to try - let me know where I should be going for a good massage.

No One Listens To Furey

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See, now if you read about Hop Devil a few weeks ago you would have been on the inside track to the cool beers that are out there. News is out from Philly.com that Hop Devil earned the #14 spot on the "Best 100 in the World".

Read the article here.

Since now that I have been confirmed as the King Of All Knowledge, here are my other ideas for Hoboken (if you are a member of Hobokenchat, you may have seen my rants before on similar topics):

1) Someone build a Taco Bell. I tried Mission Burrito, Fresh Tortillas and Qdoba. The're ok. But I want that cruchy goodness of a Taco Bell. Tell me this place wouldn't clean up if they were open 24 hours? Yes, I know about the Taco Bell Express at the train station and No, it never counted. It wasn't a real Taco Bell.

2) Open J. Crew or Banana Republic. No one likes going to the Newport Mall - it's crap. Garden State Plaza is too far. You know that your target yuppies are here. Anyone know that old bank with the granite facade which is three doors down from The Planet (to the right)? Perfect location for this store.

3) Start making The Arts & Music Festival about Hoboken. There are a lot of talented local musicians (Has anyone listed to the Jazz performers at Scotland Yard?) that I would want to see on stage. I don't understand why the powers that be find these has-been acts to clog our stages. The festival should be about those local artists and musicians. I'd ask Chris Burkhardt from Bama Galleries in Hoboken to help with the art part of the festival, myself. I'm sure the guys at Whiskey Bar or Maxwell's Bar might have a better bead on the local performers that can really rock the stages.

4) Once a month churches should give back to town. Hear me out here. I was once a religious person. I did CCD and all that. Once a month, instead of boring your masses by singing hymns and telling them they are sinful bastards - why not organize 1 hour to helping the community. Tell all your parishoners that next Sunday that instead of mass - we are going to use our 1 hour to try and make our corner of the world a better place? How about an adopt-a-unit campaign for our soldiers in Iraq? Each parishoner gets a soldier as a "buddy" - who they write to, telling them "Thank you for making our world safe" and seeing if we can send them a care package to make them happier while they protect our freedoms? I mean how many "Our Fathers" do we need to get into Heaven, anyhow?

5) Repeal the restrictions on bars. I think the limit on the number of bars you can build in town is horseshit. It figures that Mayor Roberts, who owns East LA, wants to limit the number of bars that can open up. It allows his shithole to have less competition. Also jacks up the prices of crappy bars that are out there, since the owners know that someone with a better idea can't just open up a new bar on Washington St. Sure, we can open up sushi bars, nail salons, real estate agencies and banks to our hearts content but can't open a bar (unless you follow the bizarre restrictions set forth by our city hall)?

6) Lower the Hoboken train station. Build on top of it. It seems a terrible waste that there isn't a better link between Jersey City and Hoboken. Imagine if the train station was underground, and you could build a beautiful park on top of it? Wouldn't that keep all the people who keep yelling for more parks happy? The park would be huge. Of course I don't know how we can PAY for this, but i'm an 'idea man', dammit!

7) Steal my idea - coffee shop by day & bar at night. During the day - you just serve coffee, tea, snacks like a Starbucks geared towards the stay at home moms & the stroller set. Once 9pm hits, the urns shut off and the bar opens up for the drinkers.

8) My million dollar idea: In this age where we single people have become increasingly isolated, there should be a better system to let someone know you are interested in them. Oh sure, all your coupled friends talk about how EASY it is to walk up to strangers and hit on them - until they become single again and whine how hard it has become. I was thinking of some kind of way you could combine match.com with your cell phone's blue tooth. So, let's say you are at a bar and see a cute girl. You casually walk by, click the "#" key when you are in range of her cell phone. The bluetooth from your phone talks to the bluetooth on hers - and if she's single, your phone then connects to the match.com site and you can read her profile & then walk up to her with, "Hey you went to school in Virginia - me, too." as your opening line. If she isn't single, your phone will just display "In A Relationship", and then you don't have to bother her. Of course vice versa for ladies out there who see a cute guy. This idea could work anywhere - on a bus, the gym, work, walking down the street (how many times have you seen a cute girl or guy and wondered if they were single?). Plus match.com (and other sites) need to allow a search function which only displays the area code of "07030". Lets see all the single people in Hoboken, not 1 mile away in New York.

9) There needs to be a law passed at Club H (or other gyms) to stop the following: loud gum snapping, singing while you work out, talking on your cell phone at all, staring at women while they workout, lifting heavy weights with terrible form, or wearing wedding rings (or any jewelery) while you work out.

10) The Hoboken Reporter should reach out to local bloggers and writers for adding their commentary to the newspaper. We do it for free - all you would need to do is fix all my spelling mistakes and credit our sites.

I'm really looking foward to my delivery from FreshDirect on Saturday. I'm very curious about the service and I expect to write up a nice little review on my order for the site and those interested in the quality of the food.

Texas Arizona: Steelers vs Eagles

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Randy sent me an email when I got into work on Monday:

"After reading your website and seeing your schedule for Dippers' hosting of the Eagles I noticed that you are not doing a pre-seaon. Since I have yet to go to a local official Steeler bar I wanted to invite you to join me at Texas-Arizona to see the Eagles get smashed by my Pittsburgh Steelers."

Why not? The Steelers Club of Hoboken has been going in town for 5 years, and from what I heard they are packed every Sunday during the year. Plus it's pre-season, and I figured it would be fun.

In retrospect, I learned a lot of things from this experience:

1) When I walked in, there were easily 40 Steeler fans there. Every barstool and table was occupied by someone in yellow and black. I was impressed for the turnout for just a preseason game.

2) Texas Arizona has excellent buffalo wings. The food is delicious. My only grief is that the service is SLOW. It took 30 minutes for me to get those wings - I figured i'd get a buyback or something. Nada.

3) They have a Steelers fan who DJs for free at the bar. Before the game he is pumping the crowd up with your typical songs that they would play at the stadium and during the commerical breaks during the game - they turn the sound off the TVs and play a song. What a great idea. Time to load up the IPOD with, "Fly Eagles Fly", and some commerical break songs.

4) Every touchdown they play a Steelers variation of "The Pennsylvania Polka" (remember the song from "Groundhog Day?"). They play this song after the touchdown - and during the commericals. I hate polka. It sounds like it was invented by drunk retards who couldn't play real instruments. People may hate the Eagles song - but thankfully it lasts like 30-45 seconds? This polka song is beyond annoying - it ran for at least 5 minutes - I thank God that no one made an Eagles variation. Holy shit. After the 4th Steeler touchdown I was ready to buy a sniper rifle and find a watertower.

5) There are some hot Steeler girls at Texas Arizona. Wow. If I met a girl who was a Steeler fan, I certainly could date them because they were an AFC team - plus anyone from Pennsylvania is cool in my book. She just better hate polka, too. If I met a girl that was a diehard Dallas or Giants fan - I don't think I could date her. I'm serious. I don't hate the Redskins as much, but I wouldn't be happy. I mean - could a diehard Yankee fan date a diehard Red Sox fan?! I'm not talking casual fairweather fans here. Think about it.

6) Texas Arizona has 10 stunning flat screen TVs with HD satellite reception. Crystal clear picture. It was like Ben Roethlisberger's nose was jumping off the screen. After watching the game I was really interested in getting a flat screen TV & hoping never to see a close up of Ben's greasy face again. No offense Steeler fans, but if you slapped a pair of overalls on Ben & handed him a banjo he would look like he belongs on the cast of Deliverance 2: Electric Banjaloo.

7) For those in the club last year - think we had energy? The Steeler fans were right up there with us. Cheering, clapping, singing and high-fiving the whole game. During the regular season, I heard that they have wall-to-wall fans who go bonkers. Last night I would cheer when the Eagles scored, but much like if I was sitting at Giants Stadium - I made sure that I wasn't obnoxious about it. If you know me well enough you will know this did take a supreme act of willpower to remain silent.

8) Like the Eagles club - 75% of the Steeler fans left at half-time. Monday night football is a tough draw. I bet these are the same people who leave a game early to "beat traffic". You pansies.

9) Randy and Tina were 1 hour late - showing up just after 9pm. I was ready to chew on broken glass at that point, with Steeler fans breakdancing around me and listening to them try and clap to their polka songs. I see that white people from Pittsburgh don't have much rythym.

10) At kickoff, I turn to one of the Steeler fans and tell them i'm an Eagles fan and run the club in town. Eagles first posession - interception - TD and after they get done cheering and singing the gay polka song I turn to him and say, "I guess I shouldn't have admitted that." I also had to correct everyone I met that I run the CLUB, and we aren't associated with Scotland Yard.

My thoughts for the game itself (and this is before reading the Eagles website or Philly.com):

1) Anyone think the Eagles miss Ike Reese? I agree that one player isn't a whole team - but he was the leader of that group. They have 4 weeks to fix that coverage.

2) Wow, what a crappy way to start a game with a horrendous pass that gets returned for a TD. Reminded me of the Giants/Eagles playoff game 4 years ago when Ron Dixon returned the kickoff for a TD. Just knocks the wind out of your sails.

3) 21 points on special teams/interceptions. Steelers didn't do squat offensively with the 1st team.

4) The first drive for a touchdown should be what Eagles fans take away from the game? McMullen (4-59), Brown (5-52) and Lewis (3-28) looked terrific. There wasn't one error in that drive. It was crisp and professional - I think that the first fears of, "We can't win without TO (0-0)" should be soothed. Lets see how these guys do the next 3 games.

5) Who would you rather be the #2 QB? Koy (5-10-1, 59 yards) or McMahon (8-11-0, 73 yards)?

6) Everyone talks how Moats (6-22)is a little guy - loved both his touchdowns, he was barreling & bouncing thru defenders.

7) Contract extension for Westbrook who rushed 4 times for 5 yards and caught 2 passes for 18 yards? Hmmm.

8) The offensive line looked, at times, like they belonged in a Pop Warner league. We may have some fresh talent there but boy were there some missed assignments.

9) I'm happy there are no major injuries!!!!!

10) ESPN did a terrible job with covering the game last night. This is the future of Monday night football? God help us.

Yes, so we lost. Realistically the blame was on special teams that we lost the game. Otherwise the first team Eagles defense looked crisp. The offense clicked after an initial mistake. Just be happy this wasn't the first real game of the season.

The Dubliner: Pre-Open Update

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Last Saturday I had the chance to take a few pictures inside The Dubliner, a 081505a.jpgnew bar opening up where Gerrino's used to be at 96 River Street. A friend of mine is doing some of the electrical work inside the bar and it looks spectactular. Like many of the new renovations and constructed bars in town - it's laden with flat screen TV's and new interior designs.

Unlike many of the new incantations of bars and lounges in our town - The Dubliner is the best of many worlds. They have three floors, each designed a bit differently to satistfy the fickle taste of every young Hobokenite.

The first floor is more like a quiet pub lounge. The music is a bit lower, so you can easily chat with friends or a date. The second floor is a bit more open, with a DJ booth, great sound system and a pool table. The third floor, orginally Skybar, will soon be an open air Tiki Lounge, open "as many months as possible" during the year - possibly even New Years Eve, if the owners can swing it.

I spoke to Aiden Boyle, the owner on Saturday night. He also owns a popular irish pub, McSwiggan's on 1st and Bloomfield. He stressed how the bar is still a work in progress, and that the 081505c.jpgofficial opening of The Dubliner is still about a month away - they expect the offical opening to be mid September. They have some very creative ideas brewing for the opening, I won't give too many details away - but it involves a theatric "Irish Wake" and an open bar for we patrons who attend the wake. I'll provide details when the date draws closer.

There are two kind of bar owners in town - those just out to make a buck and those that really enjoy the business of a tavern. Aiden, like many other pub owners, reminds me of the latter. He is filled with ideas on how he wants to make a bar that keeps as many patrons as happy as possible.

Keeping patrons happy, and coming back to the bar is up to the bartenders behind the bar. One thing I have learned is that two things make a bar - the bar itself and the people working there. You have an unruly staff who serve with mock sincerity or downright arrogance - it doesn't matter how popular your bar is, there will be people who won't want to go there. While talking to Aiden, I also got to meet with Walter and Rob (see picture, Walter is the taller one) - two really great bartenders in my humble opinion. They were charismatic and friendly, and Walter, being a season veteran of bars (he owned one in Staten Island), was on the same page with me on how to treat customers.

I'm really impressed with what I have seen at the bar so far. The first floor and second floor are mostly completed, with some extra work happening over the next few weeks. The 3rd floor should be ready by the grand opening. The bar is open for business, but like I said - it is still under some construction so it is not a finished product.081505b.jpg

They also have a bar menu right now, and from what I hear the food is really delicious - especially The Dubliner Burger (8 oz of grade A ground beef grilled with melted cheese, bacon and onion served with fries for $9). There are also some tasty looking soups, salads, appetizers (wings, fingers and skins) along with sandwiches and wraps. Not one thing was more expensive than $9.

Maybe one night you want to get dressed up and hit Nine, the new lounge on Washington street - and the next night you want to kick back and drink a few under the stars at The Dubliner. Absolutely worth going to check out and I like what I see so far.

Quirks About Hoboken

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Living here for the last 9 years, there are a few quirks about Hoboken, that the regular newcomer may not know about. These are just a few of my random thoughts on the subject, and what applies to me, may not apply to you and should be read if you have a fucking sense of humor. Please, really, save the angry emails. ;)

1. Born and Raised Hobokenites (known as BnR's) hate all newcomers.

2. BnR's have an hierarchy based on how long your family has lived in Hoboken. The longer your family has lived in Hoboken, the more valid your "rights" are in town. Even snotty teenage BnR's who haven't been on this earth as long as YOU have lived in town get this attitude.

3. Everyone in Hoboken gossips. They gossip in every small town in America, just get used to it.

4. If you are single, you have two choices: a) Go out in New York to meet people or b) Make a pub your "local" (a regular pub you visit at least once a week and tip the bartenders well so they take care of you) to make friends and network.

5. If are a girl, you must have a cell phone. You must blab constantly on the cell phone in a very loud voice outdoors. Even if you don't have friends, just talk to yourself with your cell phone in your ear.

6. Every guy needs to get the "Jeans and Button Down Shirt" uniform, otherwise known as The Man Suit. Its the only look that you can wear when visiting Trinity, Lua or Madison's.

7. If you are a guy and are in a gym, you can only work out your upper body because women like that "thin chicken leg with a ripped upper body" look.

8. Realize that all your neighbors will be bastards. They will be very loud when they are closing doors, walking up stairs or playing bocce ball on their hardwood floors at 3am on a Wednesday morning. No matter how nicely you ask them to be quiet, they won't listen to you and its your fault that you didn't rent the top floor apartment, not theirs.

9. Are you a dog lover? Conformity rules in Hoboken, make sure you get the same dog everyone else has: The Pug - for single women, gay men or women in a relationship who have their poor boyfriends walk them. The Labrador - for the yuppies with one baby. The Jack Russell Terrier - For guys who get dogs to meet women and give them to the shelter after they realize that JRT's are neurotic like them. Anyone who doesn't own those 3 dogs owns a hound that is very expensive to make up for it.

10. You will live 15 minutes from New York, most Hobokenites haven't visited the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty or any of the amazing museums. Almost everyone has been to Jake's Dilemma, however.

11. When in New York City and you negotiate a yellow cab ride back to Hoboken the cost is $35. Just agree to $35 before the ride starts and if he gives you grief, don't give in and pay more - you will fuck it up for the rest of us. If you are hot girl, you can get a lower price than us guys.

12. If you like any sports team that isn't from New York City, you are fucked. Sports reporters here suck ass and only talk as if the New York teams are the only teams that exist on the planet. Hey fuck it if the Philadelphia Eagles are ruling the season in December - lets talk about Derek Jeter and the Yanks! Oh, but the reporters here are happy to talk about your team when there is controversy.

13. Hoboken and NYC is the bandwagon capital of the universe. See anyone wearing a Knicks jersey? Nope. Wait until they start playing good and everyone crawls out of the woodwork with a new jersey.

14. Fashion in Hoboken is a joke, every girl wears the same "must have" fashion accessory of the moment. Right now its the Jackie O big ass ugly sunglass look or the "fruity-galoshes-that-I-would-have-worn-in-3rd-grade" look (when it rains).

15. Remember its not about saving money, its about making people believe you have money in Hoboken. Lease a BMW. Rent an expensive apartment. Buy designer clothing on your mommy and daddy's credit card or max out your own. A savings account? What's that?!

16. Any girl that tells you she is a grade-school teacher or works in Human Resources you can immediately translate into: "I'm waiting to meet a husband and be a stay at home mom".

17. Any guy who works "On the Street" or wears a suit out to Madison's on Tuesday nights (seriously guys - you can go home and change) will cheat on you at the drop of a hat.

18. Diet and exercise? Hah! It's cocaine, ephedrine or steroids in Hoboken!

19. If you own a home in town, you don't want more construction, because it will depreciate the price of your poorly constructed overpriced condo or brownstone. If you don't own a home in town, get used to the fact that everything is overpriced and poorly constructed.

20. You will make many friends in Hoboken until they meet a special other and then they disappear.

21. Most single Hobokenites get a shore house during the summers, unless they despise what they look like in a bathing suit or their parents own a place near the beach.

22. Bartenders really don't like you. They act like they like you. They really just want to make you think they like you to get you to visit their bar and tip them. As soon as you stop tipping them, they will stop liking you.

23. Hot single girls don't stay single for very long. When a new girl starts hanging out at your local - its like throwing chum into a shark tank - you better be the first guy to ask her out lest some loser gets to her first.

24. Hot single guys are always single. At least when their girlfriends aren't around.

25. Vito's Deli is a great deli - the hero specials they have up each weekend are delicious. They really need to make the London Broil with Mutz a regular sandwich, and not a special.

26. Politics is a big, big part of Hoboken. Before moving here I couldn't tell you who was mayor of my hometown, let alone any council people. Like I said before, its a small town so everyone talks about what the city government is doing with their money.

27. Sinatra was born here, but if you ask anyone where - no one really knows.

28. Girls like to dance in nice bars. This is why Madison's is popular and Dipper's isn't. It takes a special breed of women who enjoy pubs, and usually they are the most interesting ones to talk to.

29. Self worth is important to many Hobokenites. Some people define it with money (cars, clothes) or relationships (it doesn't matter who you are dating, as long as if you are dating) or school (Ivy League!) or status (summer in the Hamptons, dinners at Tao, drinks at SoHo House).

30. Two types of yuppies live in Hoboken: People who love Hoboken and people who can't afford NYC.

31. Going out in Hoboken isn't about meeting people. You get a circle of friends on the rooftop of City Bistro, only talk to them and look at everyone else there and don't talk to them.

32. In Hoboken every holiday has some event to get drunk.

33. BnR's hate yuppies, but are more than happy to make money off them.

34. It still boggles my mind that a J. Crew, Gap or Banana Republic haven't opened a store in Hoboken. It also boggles my mind that a Taco Bell hasn't opened here either.

36. Do not buy candy from the kids on Washington street, you aren't helping anyone. Every candy you buy means that more kids will invade the streets to bug us while we are trying to walk home.

37. Traffic lights are for cars AND pedestrians. Before you cross any street on Washington, look at the god damn light, you idiots.

38. Anyone caught by the police uriniating in public should have their face rubbed in it, like a dog, along with the fine. This also includes people who walk their dogs and don't clean up the dog crap on the sidewalks.

39. People enter the PATH train on the opposite side of the tracks, so they can get a seat first. Just realize that there are a lot of selfish people in Hoboken.

40. If you are single and under 35 and your weekend is about staying indoors and not going out to socialize - move to Jersey City or Weehawkin, please.

New Hoboken Website

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Here is a new website about Hoboken. It could be called "Hoboken.com Ex-Writer Site": http://www.realhoboken.com/

The writers are all very creative and interesting, I enjoyed reading their entries on hoboken.com. Joe Concha, love him or hate him, is one of the co-owners and will have his commentary up there on a bi-weekly basis.

Good luck to the team and I wish them the best.

Roberts vs Marsh

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The final tallys are in and this election will go to a runoff of Roberts vs Marsh. Roberts grabbed 3,803 votes, Marsh garnered 2,976 and Raia had 2,004 votes. For my first election I chose someone who I felt was the best for Hoboken, now I have to re-think about the next two candidates.

Roberts, as a person, is very charismatic - much like any good politician should be. He is pro-development, but I don't like the fact that it seems like an "old-boys" network with him - he has a lot of people with deep pockets throwing money at him. That says, to me, that they have a vested interest in him being in office.

Marsh, I don't know extremely well, but I do like her idea of "Smart Growth" - more public parks, affordable housing and commerical districts. I like "End tax abatements for luxury housing" - it makes no sense to give away waterfront property. They insist on fairness - stop city officials from "playing favorites" and harassing critics.

I'm not sure which person i'd vote for right now. I'm leaning towards Marsh - only because I think their adjenda is more about helping Hoboken than helping themselves. There are some issues that I don't like about Marsh, but I guess I can overlook that.

It was a beautiful day on Sunday and here are some pictures from the festival. I was out with friends.

Enjoy!

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A picture of me at the festival, wearing my shirt I got from my visit at Temecula. Yes, i'm growing my hair out if you haven't noticed.

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A sample of the art at the festival.

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I ran into another friend, Lindsay (on right) and her friend at the festival. Pay attention girls - the cool new look this season are the Jackie Onassis super sized sunglasses. Lindsay works in real estate and I once again reminded Linsday that this market is overheated and can't continue. She says that i'm wrong and it will keep skyrocketing. One of us is going to be right.

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John S. - owner of the Farside bar & co-owner of Trinity bar with his normal cheery demeanor. John told me he is redesigning the bar to change it from an irish-style pub to more of an American bar. Step one was painting the entire outside black. I'm not sure what other changes he has planned. Farside Lounge, maybe?

Hoboken Celebrity

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In town, there are minor celebrities all over the place.

Of course the biggest, is Frank Sinatra, who while dead, is still the soul of old school Hoboken.

We also have Danny Aiello, who 95% of the time can be seen within 10 yards of Tutta Pasta. The guy must live there. Also, for the record, Danny is very friendly to everyone and a class act.

Artie Lange, from the Howard Stern Show, lives in the Tea Building. Normally he can be found at City Bistro, and he is beyond drunk everytime I saw him. I think last time I saw him he was having an animated conversation with himself.

Eli Manning & Jeremy Shockey are said to live in town, but I haven't seen them on the street. I had some photo evidence that Eli is a lightweight not only ON the field but OFF the field.

Imagine my surprise when today, while walking up Washington Street - I see three of my friends on a billboard, advertising Coors Light. Heather, Lauren and Maria wearing black Coors Light t-shirts, holding Coors Light bottles all towering over the sidewalk on 2nd and Washington Street - here is the picture...

billboard.JPG


Heather, Lauren and Maria could be the three hottest bartenders in Hoboken, and they all work at Dipper's. Heather is a sweetheart, one of the most beautiful people I know - inside and out. Lauren was a former child model who I have known for years, and has a penchant for playing "Hangman" while drinking. Maria is a wonderful person and full of life, always quick to laugh (sometimes at my expense) and always ready to defend her honor with a good right hook (feel free to ask her about that story). Sorry fellas, all three are very much in relationships. But feel free to stop by the bar on 6th and Washington and throw money at them to make them like you. Just remember my tips on how to act in a bar.

I admit that i'm shocked - they are larger than life, over the streets of Hoboken.

This wasn't a mis-steak

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I walked over to Philly's Steaks last night, after going to the gym.

Its sort of hard to figure out a cheesesteak into a diet when you are trying to watch what you eat - but for the sake of curiousity, I went inside.

If you have been to Jake's before, nothing much has changed except for a new peach paint on the walls and they got rid of the "Jake" cartoon character from the place.

One of the owners was working the register and the other owner was doing some "finishing touches" - like putting up the menu & helping customers.

I ordered a pizza steak with provolone (not mozzarella), and fried onions. Chatted with the owner at the register, but I didn't get his name. I made fun of the fact that he was from Philly and was wearing a NY Yankees cap. Traitor!

Lo and behold in walked a friend of mine, Brian G. Brian was on the email list that I sent out and is a fan of cheesesteaks. He had his super cute 6 month old Ridgeback with him - Fenway.

For the record, he named the dog Fenway BEFORE the Red Sox championship. The pup got the nickname before the series of "Fenway the Rally Puppy".

Fenway was a bit skittish at first, but she is a very pretty pooch. Makes me want to get a dog, but I don't think its 100% fair in my current situation to get a dog...I don't want to coop up a dog in a crate for hours a day. Plus waking up 30 minutes earlier to walk a dog before work would be a nightmare for someone with my sleeping habits.

On to the steak....

The roll is much better for cheesesteaks, its soft and chewy with a slight buttery hint. Plus they were so melt in your mouth kind of freshess that I love about Hoboken breads.

The meats, I think could use a dash of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. I told one of the owners via email that suggestion this morning - but they are leaning towards not adding salt and pepper in case the consumer wants to control their own salt intake. I wasn't suggesting a TON of salt - just a dash.

The marinara was a simple tomato based sauce, no real frills there.

The onions were NORMAL fried onions, not the sweet carmelized kinds that aggravated everyone. Well done.

If you haven't visited Philly's yet - it only just opened up. I can't wait to grab a cheesesteak this Sunday and watch the Birds fight the Vikings.

Philly's Cheesesteaks replaces Jake's

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There was a restaurant in town called Jake's, which tried to make their own version of the Philly cheesesteak. Sadly, they didn't get it quite right.

  • They tried sirlion meat, when Philly uses rib-eye.

  • They tried carmelized onions, when Philly uses regular onions.

  • They tried special ciabatta bread, when Philly likes their Amoroso's.

  • They tried to serve a steak with a lot of bread and a little meat.

Cheesesteaks are a religion with the Philly born and bred - you don't make radical changes to our religion and expect the faithful to genuflect. They rebel. They get angry. They avoid your business.

I spoke to one of the new owners today, named Sean. He bought out Jake's and has a new vision for the place:


  • Get the same meat that Jim's and Geno's uses.

  • Get bread like they have in Philly (have you tried Hoboken bread - there are some very delicious bakeries around, it can't be that hard!).

  • Throw out the carmelized onions, get regular fried onions.

  • Serving up a steak with more meat than Jake's.

What does this all mean to you? Maybe someone finally got it right. Sean is from Bala Cynwyd. Went to the Prep in his high school years. He knows what a steak is all about. If this translates into this town finally being coverted to the religion of Cheesesteaks - not sure. I'm looking at the new menu that Sean emailed me - its all about the Cheesesteaks.

Oh, one other thing they will have is italian hoagies.

NOT HERO'S! Yea, hoagies are invading Hoboken!

The store, which will be renamed to "Philly's Cheesesteaks", is set to open up Wednesday or Thursday. I'm excited, especially that the Eagles this weekend play Vikings - I need to get my Philly fuel for the game.

Illuzion

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Here are some pictures of Illuzion.

Its a new Sushi/Chinese restaurant in Hoboken. Which is exactly what Hoboken needs, since we have so few Chinese and Sushi restaurants.

They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. In the case of a Hoboken business owner - they see what makes money in this town and copy it ad nauseum. Monday's Top 5 will be the Top 5 Stores I want to see opened in this town.

Anyhow, enjoy the pictures and if anyone wants to try this place with me - I planning on doing a write up on it for Hobokeni...

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Halloween Hoboken Style

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The Halloween weekend in Hoboken. Basically the excuse for good girls to dress like bad girls and for men to admire them with their digital cameras.

As soon as I walked out of my apartment I see two naughty schoolgirls on the corner of my block. I ask to take their picture, and they oblige. If I remember correctly, my exact words were "You two are fucking hot let me take your picture." They giggle, and are really cool about it. More girls need to have this kind of laid back attitude.

Personally, I think Halloween should be every weekend, but that is just me.

I quickly scurry up to Dipper's to see some friends and to document some of the more "interesting" costumes I saw that night. Here are the rest of the pictures, along with two stories at the end of my semi-eventful night...

Out Of My Gourd...

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For some fun last night, my bestest roommate in the world (if I didn't say this she described some "consequences" that may happen), Kristen and I decided that it would be fun to carve some pumpkins. 1004hob 063.jpg

Pumpking carving. On a Thursday.

Yes, folks, its come to this.

What would normally be a night of getting plastered at the "Midtown Triangle" (the three main bars that I hit - Farside, Moran's or Dipper's), turned into a night of domestic tranquility.

While carving our creations, I wondered about the history of jack-o-lanterns. Well thanks to Pumpkin Carving 101, I am fully educated!

For you Irish out there - did you know that Halloween was created from the Celtic holiday known as "Samhain" (pronounced "sow wan"), which means "Summer's End". It is also translated from the Hoboken term: "Weekafterhunt" which roughly translates "Winter Drunkfest".

Yes, Samhain is the end of the Celtic year which ended promptly at sundown on October 31. The night was not only the end of the year, but as lore has it - the time in which the veil between the realm of the dead and the realm of the living was at its thinnest. It was considered the most magical night of the year, with the spirits of the dead appearing in the lands of the living.1004hob 065.jpg

Because of this, our drunken ancestors decided that it would be a bright idea (no pun intended) to carve turnips and set them around the house to protect them from evil spirits. Call me crazy, but if I set a truckload of turnips around my house in the wilderness to "protect" me from spirits I would have to think they would just kill me out of spite. I get angry just seeing some of the bad decorations that people put up for Christmas around here and want to egg their house like the old days.

Ok, back to the story. So after the zombies and ghosts of the Irish heckled their living relatives about the turnips, it was agreed that maybe turnips weren't the best idea. Plus, they also agreed to stop using lumps of coal and switch to candles after everyone started to burn down their houses.1004hob 066.jpg

It wasn't until European settlers, particularly the Irish (with the surname of Furey, im sure), came to America that they started using pumpkins - since they were indigenous to the western hemisphere. Plus, our ancestors learned from the ridicule of carving turnips and didn't want to hear it from the undead Native Indians who were constantly coming up with new ways to heckle the Europeans. So pumpkins it stayed, and last night I continued the tradition of becoming a lame bachelor and stayed in to carve my pumpkins.

Please send your donations of lithium to my home address.

As for our carvings, Kristin's pumpkin was the "Boo Brothers" and I tried to make the "Bat Cave". I rushed thru my carvings, and was done well before her, only to destroy the upper two "bats" because I wasn't careful enough. Now I have to get some toothpicks to fix that for this weekend. Also after carving one, I woke up this morning really jonesing to carve some more. But carver be warned - scooping out a pumpkin is rough stuff!! Our backs were killing us by the end of all our scooping - so I would only suggest trying to do one a night. I included some links for people who want to get into the spirit of Halloween, or are slowly becoming lame like myself. I plan on fixing this situation by getting very drunk at Dipper's tonight, feel free to join me around 10pm.
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  • Pumpkin Masters, they make pumpkin kits and stencils for carving.

  • The Yard Hunter, this is what happens when you move from Hoboken into the suburbs - you redirect your drinking money into constructing scary yards.

  • Fontenstein - if you want to be cheap and download fonts rather than buying them, here is a good site to find stencils.

  • Grow your own Pumpkin patch - never too late to plan for next year.

  • Halloween Ghost Stories - learn a few stories here to scare the bejesus out of your children, nieces and nephews this weekend. We all know the ghost of Dipper's bar? If you don't - ask the bartenders about the ghost and the stories...

  • Halloween Web Cam - Not enough trick or treaters stopping by your Hoboken condo? Go online and see what webcams you can find...

  • New York's Village Halloween Parade - Or you can join the fun yourself and hit the Village to see how the other half lives...

  • Willie & Ted

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    I wrote about Willie before...

    But I got to see him last night at Dipper's, while I was there with some friends and Heather the bartender. If there was a contest in town for the hottest bartender in Hoboken - Heather would win the contest in my book. She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, she is incredibly sweet - a rare combination especially in this town. Of course, I am not just saying this because she is very generous to me when it comes to tallying my bill at the end of the night.

    Plus, I got to hear the music of Will O'Connor and Ted Dougherty jamming together, along with a new percussionist. They sounded Uh-MAZING together. Could this be the start of something good? I hope so. Will has honed his craft to a new level, and I will hands down argue that he is one of the best guitarist/singers living and working in Hoboken. Pat Fleming used to hold that crown before he ditched all of us and moved to Austin, TX. Just kiddin, Pat, we still love you even though you despise us.oconnor.JPG

    Will and Ted were rolling last night, with some sets that you could just feel the energy and fun they were having together. Sadly, there weren't a lot of people out last night, I am guessing most Yankee fans didn't want to be around town watching Boston fans celebrate.

    I really would love to see Will and Ted play together more often, and even moreso - see if they can get some original music going. Will and I worked on some lyrics a year or so ago, and its something that I should try to sit down with him again.


    Grand Theft Auto: Hoboken

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    A nerd herd gathers outside the Hoboken GameStop.

    I can make fun of them because I am a nerd also. I get excited when a new PC game comes out, and while I am walking home tonight I see my greeks, freaks and dweebs all outside of Gamestop waiting in line for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

    For those of you who don't know Grand Theft Auto (read: 75% of women or people over the age of 40), its simply the most fun a nerd can have without it involving Leonard Nemoy. Its a video game that involves everything a young, growing gamer needs: violence, sex and good music - with your primary objective is to gain power, wealth and status stealing cars, eliminating your enemies and staying alive in 1990 "San Andreas" (A pseudo Compton style city).

    I'll get my hands on this game in the next few weeks, and put a review up. In the meantime I am playing Tribes: Vengeance and Star Wars: Battlefront during my free time. Both are first person shooter (FPS) games, and are so far so good, but nothing super exciting.

    If anyone owns those games and feels like challenging me to a duel or wants to play online - drop me an email. I will be happy to destroy you.

    This wasn't very exciting...

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    But its not too often that you see a stop light smashed on Washington Street.

    So I figured I would get a picture of our tax dollars at work...

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    Insider's Look at Club H...

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    I was at Club H Fitness (110 Sinatra Drive, 201-656-9989) last night and spoke to Adam, who is in charge of PR. He was nice enough to show me around the new section of Club H, which should be opening up very soon. From what I was told he is waiting on the Port Authority, who owns the property, to 'OK' the new additions and let members use them. Adam expects the new area should be open by this weekend.

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    Nice new machines...Only 225 days until Memorial Day Weekend 2005...

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    Training room and basketball half court....that is 5,400 hours...

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    New Lockers...324,000 minutes to Memorial Day 2005...

    Also there is the new River Spa area which is nearly complete. I got to look around but it was very messy and Adam would let me back later to take pictures of the place...it looks really great.

    Here are some more pictures of the new section...

    Somewhere a guido quietly weeps...

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    Some of you may know that I bartended in town for a little while. It was a small bar, but got a decent crowd of regulars and I had a lot of fun there. To me, it was like having your own personal bar, because a lot of my friends would visit, drink, and we would be able to shoot the shit all night long while getting drunk together. Plus, on top of it, I got paid at the end of the night. Since I was a bartender I got to know other bartenders, bouncers and owners in town, and I usually have my ear to the ground on the rumor mills...

    I was passing by the old "River Street" bar, and noticed like everyone else that they, once again, are renaming and renovating their bar. Also it appears that they are going for the whole "Martini Bar/Lounge" theme that all the other bars in town are copying. Word on the street from Huggy Bear is that they are trying to get rid of their guido image and going more upscale. I snuck inside today and was able to grab some photos before they chased me out. Actually that is another lie - they were nice about it and let me in when I asked if I could take pictures.

    The "Martini Bar Explosion" is obviously the latest trend for bars in Hoboken. Gone are the days when Irish pubs ruled Hoboken - now its all about the bling bling.

    There seems to be five common rules to Martini Bars:

    1. Flat screen TVs.
    2. Lots of wood - hardwood floors, wood panelling, etc.
    3. Dark and lit by candles.
    4. Ottomans and couches.
    5. Prices must increase.

    Anyhow - here are the pics from inside the place, enjoy.


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