The Feast of the Madonna dei Martiri was in full swing, last night the procession pounded past my apartment, and tonight the fireworks go off over the Hudson. I strolled through the crowd, passing the rock climbing wall, the rides, and the games of chance. Taking in all of the dining options available, I had a frozen monkey from the Frozen Monkey Cafe stand. The festival stretched from just below Sinatra Park almost all the way up to Castle Point. After watching some live music, I bought a wonderful Italian sausage sandwich, complete with onions, peppers, and a huge honkin' hot pepper stuffed underneath the spicy sausage. Amazing. Picked up a large block of soft torrone from Oliviero (a weakness of mine, though I usually go for the hard), and enjoyed the atmosphere a bit more. Kids being tossed in the air, little babies patting little baby goats on the head in the petting zoo, music streaming from the local radio station attending the event competing with the live band, a dog licking my foot as I slurped down the last couple of onions from my napkin, and the warm sun on my face. Marvelous.
After I had my fill, I made my way down along Sinatra Drive, giving jenniever a quick call. Joggers, families, and others enjoying the perfect day were to my right while the greatest city in the world was on my left just over the river. Meandering along slowly, I passed Wolfgang Puck's eatery, ending at the base of Pier A. I watched kids play in the water jet fountain, took in the skyline a bit more, and strolled up my favorite street: 1st Street. While Washington's the main drive, full of places catering to the yuppies (myself admittedly part of that population), 1st feels more like the old downtown. Parking is metered, like around the hospital and along Washington. Unlike Washington, there's no street lights, but 1st has right of way. It's a bumpy old tree-lined street, full of older businesses. While it's perfectly safe, it still feels like part of the old version of the_boke. There's the old fish market, there's an old Irish bar with a World Cup schedule up, there's an old fashioned meat market... not like the new meat markets in town. Reaching my street, I pass by the local neighborhood crew that's always on the street. I see them from our windows, I see them playing football from my rooftop, I walk past them when I find parking by the rear of the hospital. At least one's an artist, at least one's a vet, they're a friendly bunch.
I love my fucking town. Sure, jersey_city is the new the_boke, errr... jersey_city is the new Williamsburg, which was the new the_boke. Sure, I'm not at the cutting edge. They've already gentrified this area. The docks have been turned into parks, the poor people have been shoved into the projects, the rents have skyrocketed years ago, the neighborhood has already changed. But honestly, I like that. My insane rent, capable of renting three massive apartments in La Crosse, Wisconsin, is already set. It's about what it was a year or two ago, it's close to what others around here pay, and the average rent probably won't have an unexpected jump any time soon. The sushi restaurants, coffee shops, and other trendy yuppie hangouts have already been built. Beautiful scenic places have been reclaimed from empty lots, and the streets are fairly safe. Sure, some woman was mugged a couple of weeks ago just a few blocks west of me, in the worst section of this tiny one point three square mile city. Two barely legal guys hit her in the face, grabbed her purse... and were caught by police two blocks away. My outrageous rent is worth every penny, as I can't walk a few blocks without seeing the cops. Sure, parking's nigh impossible without ninja skills, but it's a small price to pay to live in this city.
Look at Hoboken. Then look at its neighbors, Jersey City (which surrounds most of it), Union City, Kearny, Newark, and New York City itself. Compare the crime rates, the average household incomes, average house value, and so on. Hoboken's already been cleaned up, built up, and yuppified. Next, the family wave. Fueling my roomie's milf lust, more and more people are raising families in this town. The yuppies have stopped with the one night stands and drunken hook ups, they're getting married, and they're popping off kids in this town. Instead of walking along and watching Feech beat up a longshoreman outside the Clam Broth House, you watch a screaming baby covered in Italian ice get pushed down the street in a stroller. Instead of fearing for your life if you make a wrong turn, you fear that you've lost that parking spot that you saw earlier to the family that was driving on your ass. Instead of hearing gunshots or screams outside my window, I hear kids yelling at each other down the street.
petemagyar can get to his office in midtown Manhattan in under half an hour, counting his walk. If I wait around to give him a ride to the PATH, as I often do, his commute is down to almost fifteen minutes. While that may seem high to some of you who live in frozen Northern wastelands or the like, that's impressive for getting into the middle of the city that never sleeps. When they shined the lights last year and this year, I could see them from my bedroom. It was wonderful, studying database design while the somber minimalist tribute stretched skyward outside. A five minute walk and I'm staring across the river at the city itself. Hard to top that million dollar view.
And you don't have to look elsewhere to find beauty. From my roof you can see the Castle, the Fortress, Citadel, many of the other buildings with cool names. I love that cheesy tacky part of this town, the yuppie condo complexes with names. You can live in Cast Iron, the black metal building with tiny crappy windows on the side, an awesome front, and porches overlooking the A&P. Well, you can't have everything. But seriously, there's some amazing real estate here. Massive yuppie filing cabinets along the water, converted warehouses, and little brownstones. Converting warehouses, a practice today known as adaptive reuse, was supposedly first done at Hoboken at the Clock Towers on 300 Adams. Hell, the first central air system was here, at one of the many terminals. We've also got the first Blimpie, the worst of the sub chains out there. You can't have everything, like I said.
I love this town. I love the hushed conspirational conversations between old men about chop shops and who's paying who off at the midtown local eatery. I love the eye candy, let's be honest, beyond the milfs - this town's full of hotties. But beyond drooling over the multitude of fine young things that I walk and drive past daily, there's other stereotypes that populate the streets. Guidos wearing gold chains and wife beaters, people who never left college wearing sweats from their universities wandering about hungover, packs of twenty something girls all dolled up on the prowl, smiling and murmuring at the packs of frat boy guys hunting for them. It's a fun town. Sure, there's the mindless bane of humanity known as Bahama Mama's. Sure, there's the crowd that pours out of the PATH after the NYC bars let out that reminds me of old Hoyt at two in the morning. But part of me enjoys having that boisterous, raucous, exuberant group around. Having more bars per square mile than any other city on the Eastern seaboard, it's a fun town to go on a bender in. And the variety of food easily available! Some of the most amazing Indian, sushi, Malaysian, and more... all within walking distance.
Speaking of walking distance, everything is within walking distance. And if there's something you need that isn't? You're in NYC for a buck fifty in minutes.
A few weeks ago, I was walking to Jake's Cheesesteaks for a quick bite to eat while watching G4 on TechTV. angryjonny and wassailler called, they were at Maxwell's (yes, on the site of the coffee company factory), where a band they were waiting to see wasn't going on for hours. So I gave them a quick tour of the East side of the city. I grabbed a bite from Artie Lange's favorite pizza joint, showed them where he lives, and wandered down the length of Washington. Got a round at Louise & Jerry's, then drinks and sushi at the Sushi Lounge. After that we enjoyed the live act, and did some breaking and entering. Read my version, his version, or her version. But getting back to the_boke, I showed them a huge percentage of the city, all on foot.
The week before that, I first found the aforementioned pizza place with jenniever, found where the legend lives, and took a lovely walk along the waterfront admiring the view. Except for when she stepped in dog shit, but luckily she was able to wash up at the uptown Starbucks. The pier up there is almost as lovely as Pier A. Earlier that day we watched Paddington for one of the last weekends it was on, visited the Frozen Monkey Cafe I mentioned before, and she made me breakfast. The night before that, wassailler had invited us out to St. James Gate to celebrate angryjonny's birthday. You've got to love a place that has Guinness on the menu under appetizers. It was a fun evening. I guess I've gotten off the topic of how much the_boke rocks, so I'll end this rambling post now before I say something horrible like how I used to sing Type O's Fay Wray Come Out and Play when no one could hear me.
Types of Mountain Dew consumed today:
- Pitch Black