Posts Tagged With: Hoboken

Nine in the suburbs: How to drive in Basking Ridge

OldWomanDriving

Average Basking Ridge driver, give or take a denture

We moved from Hoboken, N.J., to Basking Ridge, N.J., at the end of August 2012, and the adjustments have been plentiful, particularly for yours truly, a lifelong city dweller experiencing the suburbs for the first time.

One of the biggest differences between the New York metropolitan area (obviously including Hoboken, but I grew up in Manhattan) and Basking Ridge is the way people drive. To put it simply, people in the immediate area around the city drive like assholes, while people out here drive like pussies.

After one year and a few months out here, I have put together a set of rules for how to drive if you want to fit in with the norm here in Basking Ridge:

  • The speed limit is merely a suggestion for the pace you should maintain in the case of unusual events, such as having to take an enormous shit, or transporting a woman in labor. In normal circumstances, it is perfectly acceptable to drive 15 miles per hour under the speed limit, or maybe 10 MPH, if you’re feeling exceptionally spry, but don’t get carried away. Remember, if the sign says “Speed Limit: 40,” 25 MPH will suffice.
  • The newer your car is, and the larger the price tag is, the slower you should drive. Despite the fact that safety is built into the exorbitant costs of your vehicle, you can’t be too careful. I recommend a top speed of 25 MPH, and whatever you do, don’t let that high rate of horsepower tempt you. Horsepower is the bait used by Satan.
  • When making a turn, it is best to come to a complete stop, and not simply glide into the turn. You wouldn’t want your $75,000 Audi to end up on its side like a rickshaw, would you? The people behind you will understand.
  • When stopped at a stop sign, the safest policy is to remain there until no car is visible in either direction, no matter how long that takes. The mail truck may be a half-mile down the road, but as long as you can see it, it represents a clear and present danger, and it must be avoided at all costs.
  • By no means should you ever flick your brights off, no matter how many cars are oncoming or directly in front of you. Being able to see is half the battle! Take solace in the fact that if a blinded driver smashes into you head-on, the insurance company will probably declare that driver at fault, and not you.

“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” — George Carlin, R.I.P.

Categories: cars, Hoboken, life, venting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nine in the suburbs: Why is it so damn dark out here?

It has been just over four months since we moved from Hoboken to Basking Ridge, and we’ve settled in nicely, for the most part. We really like it out here, and everyone is adjusting well, from yours truly, to Mrs. 9, to 0.9, and even the cats.

9House

The 9 Compound

The positives definitely outweigh the negatives. I mentioned some of these things in a previous post, but that was months ago, and most people online don’t have any attention span, anyway, so here goes:

  • Mrs. 9’s commute has been shortened to about 15-20 minutes, with little to no traffic, from 50 minutes on paper and much longer in real life when we were still in Hoboken.
  • 0.9 loves his daycare and the teachers there.
  • Driving around here in general is a far more pleasant experience. Not only is traffic rarely an issue, but there just seems to be a lot less douchebaggery on the roads.
  • Life in general is a lot less stressful. Things like shopping, or going out for dinner, are much more manageable out here. People just seem to be a lot more relaxed, and it shows.
  • The two fat cats have actually lost weight since we moved here, likely due to having a lot more room to run, as well as the steps. Even 8-Ball, who used to move twice a day, has actually shown signs of being spry. The only bad thing about 8-Ball and Trouble getting into better shape is that one of them might catch Skittles one day, and eat him, because he continues to bait the two of them mercilessly, figuring that he can outrun them.
  • This will not be a factor for another five years or so, but the elementary school 0.9 will eventually attend is picturesque. It looks like something Norman Rockwell would paint. It’s a beautiful building, with so much space around it. I am actually jealous of him, as I feel like when you grow up in Manhattan, classrooms feel more like cells due to the lack of space. The thought of having a vast expense of grass for him to play on, instead of a slab of concrete, is comforting.
  • I have taken advantage of the fact that it is about three-quarters of a mile from our house to the train station and taken New Jersey Transit into Penn Station or Hoboken a few times. It’s pretty easy, and for someone who has been known to enjoy the occasional beer or 12, it’s a great option to have.
  • Being walking distance from the downtown area of Basking Ridge has been a huge plus, as well, and we have taken advantage of it a few times, weather permitting. It’s good to get out, walk, and exercise, rather than having to drive everywhere.
  • I work in the basement, right next to a window that faces our back yard, and I have been fortunate enough to see deer on a number of occasions, and even a red fox, which was larger than I thought, but quite a beautiful animal. It’s nice to see species other than stray cats, PATH rats, squirrels, and pigeons.
  • As I suspected, Cablevision’s Optimum is not even in the same ballpark as Verizon FiOS, especially when you factor in the Internet speed of the latter. Good riddance, Cablevision.
  • I raked leaves for the second time in my life, and shoveled snow for the first. Neither was too tough to pick up. I didn’t rake the entire yard, so sue me. We would eventually like to get a lawn mower, but with all of the expenses related to moving, new furniture, and 0.9, the lawn mower is on the back burner, for now, as is the snow blower, the generator, and the grill, which will likely come first.

There are a few things I’m definitely having trouble adjusting to, however:

  • I simply cannot get over just how fucking dark it is around here at night. I didn’t expect Basking Ridge to be lit up like the Vegas strip, but it is absolutely pitch black. There are very, very few street lights around here, and other sources of light are scant. As soon as the sun goes down, this is what the view from our window looks like:
Our view ...

Our view …

  • Speaking of the dark, when I take the train back to Basking Ridge and arrive after sundown, I have to walk by a cemetery while it’s pitch black outside. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo have the right idea being rattled. It’s definitely creepy.
  • I said earlier that drivers around here seem to be a lot more courteous and less ruthless than those closer to the city, but the one thing I’ve noticed, kind of related to my point above about the darkness, is that a lot of folks out here have a tendency to not bother to switch from brights to dims when other cars are approaching, and some of the newer cars out there, especially some Audi models, have headlights that are completely blinding. One of the first things I was taught when driving at night was to switch off my brights if another car was coming. But for whatever reason, many people out here simply can’t be bothered.
  • Luckily, we haven’t had to deal with anything major yet in terms of household repairs, but I find myself missing the phrase “call the super” more and more. I did have one unfortunate incident that required an emergency plumbing call due to cat litter clogging up the drain to our slop sink. I know enough not to intentionally pour something that is designed to clump when wet down a drain: It was a stupid and costly accident, as I didn’t realize the trash bag I was dumping the litter box into had slipped, and the litter was going into the sink, and not the bag. You learn from your mistakes. But after living in apartments for the first 44-and-a-half years of my life, it’s still scary that there is no safety net. People can make fun of me all they want for some of the things I don’t know how to do, but I have never had to do them. I am more than willing to learn. We’ll see how it goes. I just hope future mistakes or repairs for other reasons aren’t too costly.
  • I never thought I would find a power company that would make PSE&G look like a superstar, but JCP&L can kiss my ass. There is apparently a history of JCP&L neglecting this area, and their response, or lack thereof, to Hurricane Sandy was an utter and complete joke.

Mrs. 9 and I were talking about this the other day: Despite the fact that we’ve been here a little over four months, we both still have the feeling that we’re on vacation, and that we’ll have to pack everything up one day and go back to our apartment in Hoboken. This place is very much like home, but there are times when it feels like the beach house on Long Beach Island that I was part of for years: You feel at home, but it’s still not your home. Obviously, it is, and we will not be returning to our apartment in Hoboken, or any apartment, for that matter. But there are times when this move still doesn’t seem real or permanent.

Overall, I have no regrets: This was a wise and necessary move. Are there things I miss about Hoboken? Sure, but not enough to make me wish we had never moved here. And there are some treats coming up this summer, as we will hopefully join the local pool, and I will try to get a spot in an over-40 (fuck you in advance for what you’re thinking) softball league.

Yeah, Basking Ridge doesn’t suck. But why is it so fucking dark?

Categories: cats, Hoboken, life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Setting the record straight about why I am so angry with JCP&L over our power situation

I think a lot of people (particularly on Facebook) are misinterpreting why I am livid with Jersey Central Power & Light due to its handling of our lack of power, which started around 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, during the roughest part of Hurricane Sandy, and has not been resolved as I type this.

As of 4:30 p.m. today (Nov. 7), more than 168,000 JCP&L customers in New Jersey are still without power, and I am one of them. Do I think I deserve preference over any of the others on the list? I absolutely do not. Do I have any malice toward those whose power has been restored? Again, I absolutely do not.

My problem is with the awful communications between JCP&L and my new hometown of Basking Ridge, or Bernards Township. We have received little or no information throughout this process, and the precious nuggets of news have been inaccurate, conflicting, and useless.

Two close friends (ironically both former roommates) live in areas serviced by JCP&L. One, in Brielle, was told that power would be out for 15 days, and it was restored in seven days. The other, in Whippany, was told that power would be out for 18 days, and it was also restored in seven days.

We received no such information, other than a very vague statement that most homes would be restored by today (Wednesday, Nov. 7), nine days after power was lost. The implication was that power would be restored gradually throughout that period. The truth was that very few homes in the area had power until Sunday, or six days after it was lost, and as of 3 p.m. today, 4,494 out of 12,567 homes were still down. Does the number of restored homes qualify as “most?” I suppose so, but JCP&L’s communications to our town were still extremely misleading.

I don’t know if the issue was that the company was afraid to deliver bad news, but had it come out with a statement saying something along the lines of, “Most residents of Bernards Township will not be restored for several days,” I would have come up with a much more efficient plan for getting through this than the one we chose. No one wants to be told that they will be without power for several days, but after digesting the news, no one could possibly blame JCP&L or any other company for the damage caused by this storm. I can, however, blame them for not being honest with us and allowing us to plan accordingly the way our friends did.

We are currently staying with my mother-in-law in Cherry Hill, an hour-and-a-half from Basking Ridge. We chose to do so because we were led to believe that this situation would linger for a handful of days, not nine and counting.

We have cats, and they absolutely do not travel well, and are completely freaked out by change. So I have driven back-and-forth from Cherry Hill to Basking Ridge every single day since we set up camp down here last Wednesday to check on them, feed them, reassure them, and spend some time with them. I don’t even want to think about how much I have spent on gas. On the way back from Basking Ridge to Cherry Hill this morning, I topped the 1,000-mile mark of distance driven specifically because of Hurricane Sandy.

We have a six-month-old baby who is absolutely driving us nuts and not letting either of us get any work done. It’s not his fault. He is stir-crazy and bored out of his mind. But our daycare center, also a JCP&L customer, is out of power, as well, meaning that we can’t even make alternate daycare arrangements so that we can have a few hours of peace and quiet to get some work done.

This situation is far from ideal. If I had any inkling that it was going to last this long, I would have tried to figure out something better, where the cats weren’t left alone in a house with a temperature that has dropped as low as 50, and where we had better resources in terms of sleeping (we bought an air mattress because the sofa bed was slaughtering both of our backs), possible child care, and other things.

In other words, if JCP&L was honest and upfront from the start, we would be in a completely different situation.

No one wants to hear bad news, and no one wants to be told that something as vital as power will be kept from them for several days. But that was the reality dealt to us by Hurricane Sandy. JCP&L should have been honest and straightforward about how long this process was going to take, rather than spending two days saying it was “assessing the situation,” and then issuing three completely conflicting estimates of when work would start in our town and how much of it would get done.

I’m sure my next-door neighbor, an older woman who lives alone, would have come up with a much better plan, as well, since her plan consisted of sitting in her car with the engine running to stay warm, and eating crackers because her stove is electric and she can’t cook. Do you think she would have done something different if she knew we would be dark for nine days and counting?

JCP&L told my friend in Brielle it would be 15 days. JCP&L told my friend in Whippany it would be 18 days. Why didn’t the company give our town the same courtesy?

And on another note, it doesn’t help my mood that my former hometown of Hoboken, which was absolutely decimated by the storm, with most of the city under two to three feet of water, is fully restored. Naturally, I am happy that Hoboken is back up, as I still have many friends there, but when it comes to restoring service, my old provider, PSE&G, is kicking JCP&L’s ass, and sadly, there is no way to switch back.

After reading that, if you don’t think I have a right to be angry, then we will have to agree to disagree. But I would think friends would take the side of their friends, and not of an ineffective power company.

Speaking of friends, a lot of ours have made generous offers, and I wanted to explain why we haven’t taken any of them up on those offers.

Parents out there can back me up on this: When you travel with a six-month-old baby (or any baby, for that matter), the amount of stuff you need to bring with you is ungodly. Packing and unpacking it is a mission, as is setting it up. We don’t want to uproot the baby at this point, and force him to get used to another place, when we have no idea whether it will be for one night, one week, or one month.

Plus, for our friends who don’t have kids, they take over your entire house. I know everyone’s offers were sincere, but some of you don’t know what you were potentially getting yourself into. We are used to being awakened at 4 a.m. by piercing screams. We don’t want to put anyone through that.

And for those who have offered to help with the cats, I really don’t think it’s a good idea to move them at this point. They are already completely freaked out, not to mention cold and lonely, other than the one hour or so every day I have spent with them. Bringing them to a new place would be overload. And they might do a lot of damage to someone’s place, not out of malice, but due to stress. Plus, if anyone whom they don’t already know comes to check up on them, 8-Ball will be happy to get fed, but the other two will hide and not benefit from their company, and likely think they were abandoned.

So I do thank everyone who made offers, and there were many of you, and, as I said, I have no doubt every single one was sincere.

In any event, I hope anyone who reads this now understands that I wasn’t simply whining about not having power, as there are still hundreds of thousands in the same boat. I believe I have a right to be angry about JCP&L’s communications with my town, or lack thereof, and I stand by everything I have said about the company on Facebook. And if you still side with them over me, well, I just don’t know what to say anymore, but I take nothing back.

Categories: cats, Hoboken, life, venting | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I’m moving to Basking Ridge, not Greenland

I met a few friends for a few beers a couple of weeks ago as part of an unofficial “Farewell to Hoboken” tour, and with the way some of them were acting, you would think I was moving 40 galaxies away, instead of 40 minutes away, to Basking Ridge, N.J.

The prevailing tone of the evening seemed to be, “We’re never going to see you again.” Really? I’m not going to prison for life, or to the chair — just the suburbs.

I do see their point, though. Some of my friends who made similar moves before we did have warned that when you are no longer in Hoboken, you tend to slip off the radar screen after a while.

It’s not as if you are forgotten by your friends, or they’re not thinking of you. I think it’s a combination of things. After moving, when you’re invited to a few events and don’t go, people tend to leave you off the list for future events, figuring that you won’t be able to make them. And the same applies for spur-of-the-moment gatherings. If a group of my friends suddenly decides to go out for drinks on a random Tuesday night after we move, the chances of me traveling from Basking Ridge to Hoboken to join them are minuscule, so I wouldn’t blame them if I wasn’t invited.

My plan is to try to let as many people as possible know when I actually am going to be in Hoboken, so I can try to see a good percentage of them. Will it work? That remains to be seen.

As I said in my blog post talking about the impending move, it’s not like I’ve really been going out a lot, anyway. The impending arrival and successful addition of 0.9 to the family has not left much time for debauchery.

Will some friendships fade in time? They probably will, as much as I don’t like to think about that. It happens constantly throughout life. But I intend to try to remain in the loop as much as I can, and, as I said, to try to make the most of every trip back to the area.

The next person who says, “We’re never going to see you again,” owes me a shot and a beer. I’ve had it!

Categories: alcohol, beer, Hoboken, life | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Pre-moving mixed emotions

I am now smack in the middle of the most frustrating period of our impending move from Hoboken to Basking Ridge, two very different New Jersey destinations. On the one hand, time seems to be crawling, and on the other hand, it feels like it’s accelerating out of control.

Less than one month …

This experience is new to me, as I have never been involved in the purchase of a home, having spent my entire life in rental properties. It is basically a two-month period between the point when the house was pretty much officially ours until the point when we actually move in, and the two months has seemed like forever.

It’s hard to contain my excitement about the new space, and as much as I want to get started on buying things and laying out areas like my office, there’s so much we can’t do until the walk-through at the end of the month. We need to find out if things like shelving in the storage area are staying in the house or going with its previous owner. And even though we took measurements of all the rooms, there are certain things we can’t really buy or order until physically being in the house. I still don’t have a desk, and I work from home.

Plus, there are certain things that I just couldn’t do that far in advance. For example, I am embracing our upcoming switch from horse shit Cablevision to Verizon FiOS, but I had to wait until the other day to set it up because I couldn’t get an appointment as far in advance as the day after we move in. The same is true for things like magazine subscriptions, which I hope to begin taking care of this week.

On the other hand, there are so many things I wanted to do and places I wanted to go before leaving Hoboken, and all of a sudden, time is short. For example, there are three beer gardens in the immediate area that I must say farewell to, including Pier 13, which I haven’t been to yet, so it will be a hello and a goodbye.

A prevailing theme on Facebook today was surprise at the fact that it’s August already, and, as I said in my status update, it hit me even harder because I will be a resident of an entirely different place when this month comes to a close.

Having a baby in the family doesn’t necessarily have to mean an end to everything fun that we liked to do beforehand, but it also makes things more complicated. It’s not like Mrs. 9 and I are going to strap 0.9 into his car seat on some random weekday night and drive into Hoboken for dinner. It’s all about picking your spots, which we’re still learning to do. We’re new at this. It hasn’t quite been four months. There are so many things I want to do between now and Aug. 30, when the moving truck pulls up to the front of our building, and I know I will never get to all of them.

Although I am 100% confident we are making the right move, if I needed a sign, I got one today, when my neighbor knocked on my door to tell me that a car had been broken into in the parking area of our building. This is the first time I have heard of this happening in my nine years or so here, and it’s a little disturbing. By no means do I believe Basking Ridge is a crime-free utopia, as no such place exists, but I’d like to think our car will be a lot safer in our own garage, instead of in a building’s parking area where the door is constantly being left unlocked, or the lock is constantly broken.

My emotions are very mixed right now. As much as I can’t wait to open the door to our new house for the very first time, I almost wish I had a little more time here in Hoboken. But you can’t have everything, I suppose.

Categories: alcohol, beer, cars, Hoboken, life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The end of an era: Saying goodbye to Hoboken and hello to Basking Ridge

On Aug. 30, my life will undergo the third most dramatic change of its 44-plus years, behind somehow suckering Mrs. 9 into saying yes, and welcoming 0.9 to the family.

When I wake up on the morning of Aug. 31, for the first time in my life, I will not live in a city. We are leaving the mile square of Hoboken for the friendly confines of Basking Ridge, N.J.

We would have had to move eventually, anyway, because the next good word I hear about the schools in Hoboken will be the first, but Mrs. 9’scommute is just too long. And since my commute is measured in steps and not miles, I could not put up a convincing argument to stay. Besides, it’s time.

This will be a huge adjustment for me, as I have only lived in Manhattan and Hoboken. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me knows that I love to throw back a few good beers on occasion — days that end in “y” count as occasions. Not being able to walk to a bar will be a culture shock. And I would never think of drinking and driving.

We will actually be walking distance from the Basking Ridge New Jersey Transit station, which is a huge plus. It will be nice to be able to sneak into Hoboken or Manhattan occasionally and not have to worry about driving home. I may try to do it for a few Dallas Cowboys games this season, to avoid having to add DirecTV to the long list of goods and services we are investigating or purchasing.

We are also walking distance from the downtown area, but that statement needs a little perspective. Downtown Basking Ridge looked really nice when we drove through it, with some cool shops and restaurants, but downtown Basking Ridge is not Washington St. in Hoboken, or any street in Manhattan. It’s still nice to have the option of walking over, rather than being a typical suburbanite and having to drive everywhere, but I didn’t happen to notice any sports bars, taverns, pubs, beer gardens, or other watering holes.

Another radical change for me will be learning how to do small repairs and maintenance around the house. I have spent my entire life in apartments, where you call the superintendent with any issues. When you buy a house, a superintendent does not come along with it. I am not completely incompetent, but calling me handy would be a stretch, to say the least. The only yard I have ever had was a really tall glass filled with beer. I have never had a lawn to mow and maintain. I have never owned a grill that didn’t say “George Foreman” on it. I am more than willing to learn, but I have already decided that anything involving electricity or plumbing will result in an immediate call for professional help. I will not be responsible for blowing up, burning down, or submerging our house.

I couldn’t be happier with the house we found, though. I love the location. In addition to the proximity to the downtown area and train station, it is also really close to schools that have good reputations, so 0.9 can work on that full scholarship. The yard is a great size — large enough to have a catch, but not so large that it will be difficult and costly to maintain. There is already a neat little patio area built into the yard, which will be the new location for 9’s Outdoor Office, Beer Garden & Wine Bar. There is a small deck right next to the kitchen that is perfect for a grill. The house is pretty set back from the street. And it comes with its own Christmas tree for us Jews, as there is a huge pine in the front yard.

I moved to Hoboken in September 2000, and I have loved my 12 years here, but it’s just not the same anymore. It really hasn’t been the same for me since Ted & Jo’s, my absolute favorite bar and living room, closed in March 2008. And while I still have several friends here, many of my closest friends have let “real life” run its course, married, had kids, and moved elsewhere. Hoboken in July 2012 for me is nothing like Hoboken in September 2000, or any time between then and the untimely demise of T&J’s.

I can’t talk about Hoboken without mentioning another bar where I have felt like part of the family from the get-go: The Shannon. I don’t go there much on weekends because I am old enough to be the father of most of the patrons, but going there after softball games has been the source of some of my most fun nights in Hoboken. Everyone has always treated me and the rest of the various softball teams very well, from the owners, to the bartenders, to the bouncers. With T&J’s gone, The Shannon is the only bar in Hoboken I would even think of going to alone.

One of the biggest advantages to living in Hoboken is the ability to go out every night, with the entire town within walking distance, and between being married, having a son, and not having a lot of my close friends around anymore, I barely go out, so it’s a wash.

I’m sure we will find some decent places to eat, and hopefully a few that deliver, especially Chinese. I would have to turn in my barely used Jew card if I didn’t have regular access to Chinese food. However, after 12 years in Hoboken, I’ve developed an addiction to certain restaurants and dishes, and they will be difficult to replace:

  • Precious: When I moved from Manhattan to Hoboken, I thought I was saying goodbye to good Chinese food. Fortunately, I was mistaken. Precious is as good as any of the places I ever ordered from in Manhattan, and I am convinced that sorcery is the only explanation for how quickly they show up. Chicken Amazing is one of my favorite dishes of all-time.
  • Maru: Sushi from Maru is always fresh and delicious, and some of the specialty rolls are off the hook. I think the Hawaiian Roll is my personal favorite.
  • Rosario’s: I have never actually set foot in the restaurant, but Triple Fiesta is one of the best pasta dishes I have ever enjoyed, and it has been a delivery staple in our household.
  • Fiore’s: Roast beef, gravy, and fresh mozzarella — need I say anything else?
  • Leo’s: I will truly miss this genuine, family-run, inexpensive Italian restaurant littered with Frank Sinatra memorabilia. The stuffed mushrooms appetizer and the marsala sauce are to die for.
  • Zack’s: Bizarro Ted & Jo’s (same owner, nearly identical to the old homestead) imported Balsamic Chicken from the old T&J’s menu. After making the mistake of removing it for a while, it returned, due to popular demand. The beer selection is fantastic, too.
  • Three A’s: I will miss the outstanding dirty martinis and the second-best pork chops I have ever had, trailing only the ones my dear friend and old roommate used to cook up.
  • Philly’s Cheesesteaks: OK, it’s not Tony Luke’s, or Jim’s, or even Lee’s Hoagies, but the cheesesteaks here are the closest to real Philadelphia cheesesteaks I’ve had up in these parts.
  • Cucharamama: I have yet to refer to this place by its actual name, usually alternating between Cucaracha and Coochie Mama, but the Spanish food is outstanding, as are the cocktails. I could use a Mojito right about now.
  • Zafra: This is another source of excellent Spanish food, minus the cocktails. I only wish it had more than three tables (OK, I’m exaggerating on the number of tables, but not by much).
  • Biggie’s: I have been neglecting this place, and the new location where Clam Broth House used to be has an expanded menu, for those who haven’t been. I must treat myself to clams steamed in beer, very soon.
  • Hoboken Bar & Grill: This is another place I have neglected recently, for no good reason. It has a fantastic menu and an equally fantastic beer selection.

I will also miss Pier A, the park with the best possible view of Manhattan. I don’t know Basking Ridge well enough to know what bodies of water are nearby, but I’m pretty sure none provides the view of Manhattan across the Hudson River.

Naturally, there are some things I will not miss about Hoboken, although, as I said, I wouldn’t trade the past 12 years for any other place.

It will be great to invite people over to the new house without worrying about where they will be able to park. Parking in Hoboken is absolutely nonexistent, but we have a small blacktop area that could probably fit nine cars, if needed.

Speaking of parking, I won’t miss the parking area in my current building, and the assholes who believe ownership of a BMW entitles them to park free-of-charge while the rest of us pay $200 per month.

I will also not miss the corruption that runs rampant throughout politics in Hudson County in general and Hoboken in particular. I am under no delusions that corruption doesn’t exist in Basking Ridge and Somerset County. Corruption exists whenever a person gains control over decisions that affect others. It’s human nature. But when you have a mayor who begins serving his term July 1, 2009, and is ousted July 31, 2009, you have some serious issues.

I will not miss the inevitable traffic that comes with trying to get in or out of Hoboken, due to its proximity to the Hudson River and the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. I am sure Basking Ridge has its own traffic trouble spots, as a map of New Jersey should accompany the listing for “traffic” in the dictionary, but I am just about done with sitting under the covered roadway (if you live anywhere near here, this requires no explanation) for minutes that seem like hours.

I am also sure that living in the suburbs will come with its own driving challenges, but I will not miss driving in Hoboken, as the stupidity level of people behind the wheel seems to accelerate at a more rapid rate than the price of gas. Every time someone stops at an intersection when they don’t have a stop sign, I want to pull over and kick their car. Doing that only causes accidents, as people are unsure whether to proceed or not. And the same people who stop when they don’t have a stop sign usually fly right through the intersection when they do have a stop sign. Plus, double-parking is a fact of life, especially with the dearth of available parking I mentioned earlier, but it would be nice if people tried to get as close as possible to the legally parked cars, rather than just sitting in the middle of already narrow streets.

I will not miss having upstairs neighbors. I have no beef with anyone who has lived in the apartment upstairs. The problem is that my building was constructed in the typical Hoboken method of getting it completed as quickly as possible and cutting every corner, so there is absolutely nothing muffling the sound of the people walking upstairs. I jumped out of bed a few times the first couple of weeks I lived here because it sounded like someone was walking through my living room.

I will not miss Cablevision in the least. I have hated that company and its piss-poor service and treatment of customers for years. Having worked for a weekly newspaper that covered the cable industry, I also know about the detestable Dolan family, and I hate them, too, particularly cokehead James Dolan. Fuck the Cablevision-owned Knicks and Rangers, as well. We could have gotten Verizon FiOS in our current apartment, but we knew we were moving, so there was no point. FiOS will be a welcome addition in Basking Ridge, however. There is no way the Internet service won’t blow away Cablevision’s spotty, overrated Optimum Online, which seems to get slower every day.

All in all, I am looking forward to starting a new chapter in my life. As I said, it will be a huge adjustment on many levels, but I am confident that it will turn out to be a good move in the end. Hoboken: It’s been real. Basking Ridge: Duck, punk! Here we come.

Categories: alcohol, beer, cars, food, Hoboken, life, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

I apparently live atop a BMW dealership … who knew?

The issue of dickheads parking for free in my building’s parking area, while most of us pay for the privilege, has gotten worse and worse, and my landlord finally called in the tow truck again, in a long-overdue move.

SO LONG, SUCKERS!

As I said in my blog post the last time cars were towed (all the way back in October 2010, which is a big part of the problem): Our parking area has several assigned spots, but it also has an area in the back where parking is not allowed. Most people use it as emergency parking, for a short time, since parking here in Hoboken is God-awful and often nonexistent. I have absolutely no problem with this, and I’ve done it myself on occasion. But I don’t abuse it.

Unfortunately, people do abuse it, and it makes me wonder why my wife and I pay to park two cars, including keeping mine several blocks away, while other people take advantage of our landlord’s “threaten often, but do nothing” policy and park at will.

In defense of the landlord, yes, he should be more vigilant about this issue, but he also should not have to be a babysitter and constantly tow cars. And tenants like myself should not have to be bothered with perpetually complaining about the problem.

Three cars have been the worst offenders, parking for free literally every single day for months, and often parking in the two really dangerous “illegal” spots, which makes navigating the garage very difficult for those of us who actually fucking pay to park there.

Space is very tight as it is, and when cars are parked right next to the two turns, those turns must be navigated with only a couple of inches on each side. I scratched up our car a few weeks ago, and I see similar scratches on other cars in the garage — cars owned by people who, again, actually fucking pay to park there.

Two of the three cars are BMWs. I have nothing against the brand, and they’re beautiful vehicles, but if you can afford a fucking BMW, then you should be able to afford a legal parking spot. Adding to the annoyance, a very recent addition to the illegal parking brigade is another, brand-new BMW, so new that it still has its temporary, paper license in the window, as its owner is awaiting license plates.

The other car is a royal blue Honda that should have grown roots into the ground based on how infrequently this car moved before it was towed. In fact, at one point, the car was left in an awkward diagonal position a few days prior to Christmas, and did not move an inch until well after the New Year.

The absolute indifference of these people just galls me. What makes them think that they can park without paying every single day for months on end, often in spots that threaten damage to the cars of those of us who belong in the garage?

The day after four cars were towed (I didn’t recognize one, but since this person parked in a dangerous spot, tough shit to them), one of the BMWs was back, fresh from the tow lot, with the yellow crayon writing still on its back window, and a note on the dashboard. I had to go read this note, because I figured it would be good for a laugh.

The guy left a sorry-assed excuse of a note, begging the landlord not to tow his car again, and saying he was doing everything possible to get the proper permit from the Hoboken Parking Authority so that he could park his car on the street.

Seriously? OK, while anyone who has ever dealt with the Hoboken Parking Authority knows they are incompetent beyond belief, your car has been back there every single fucking day for almost six months. What’s your excuse for that? Bottom line: If this guy’s car hadn’t been towed, he would have continued to park for free, every single day, with no regard for paying tenants like myself.

I know human nature should not surprise me at this point in my life, but the utter and complete disregard for paying tenants and the sense of entitlement shown by these people is sickening.

Categories: cars, Hoboken, life, venting | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Two completely random observations from an errand run in Hoboken

A simple walk around Hoboken to run some errands generated two ideas for blog topics, so I’m putting them in the same entry. Why? It’s my blog and I feel like it. So there.

Cake Boss Buddy Valastro in front of Carlo's Bakery

First: My travels took me past Carlo’s Bakery, of Cake Boss fame. Have you ever seen footage from when The Beatles first came to the United States, and teenage girls were screaming at the top of their lungs and completely losing their minds? Bakery owner and reality star Buddy Valastro drew the same reaction by leaning out of his office window to wave to the throngs of people waiting in line. It was deafening, and I’m not exaggerating.

Since Cake Boss took off, there has been quite a bit of anti-Buddy and anti-Carlo’s sentiment around Hoboken. I am not part of that camp. I say get while the getting is good, and I hope they profit as much as they can while they’re still in the limelight. I’ve heard a lot of people say the quality of Carlo’s goods has diminished, and that there are better bakeries in Hoboken. I’m not an expert on the subject (shut up), but I’ve never been dissatisfied with anything I’ve eaten from Carlo’s, including our wedding cake.

I just can’t help but laugh at the people who wait in line, though. The line this afternoon stretched the equivalent of two Manhattan blocks down Washington Street. I like the show, although I’ve tired of it a little — after a while, every episode tends to be the same, including the moment in every episode that seems to be required: Buddy freaking out and yelling, “How am I gonna make this cake?” — but the idea of waiting two to three hours, often in bad weather, to buy pastries or cookies and possibly catch a quick glimpse of someone who’s been on-air, is baffling.

The real morons, however, are the ones who wait in the back alley behind the bakery, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the featured employees loading up a cake into a truck. Really? Seriously? When I walked by today, there were 15-20 people hanging out in a nondescript, dingy alley, all with cameras at the ready. Why? Stalk much?

On to the second, completely unrelated thought: I realize the Hoboken Police Department has plenty on its plate and fewer officers to help reduce the workload, but a crackdown on people talking on cell phones while driving is an absolute necessity. I was in the street for a total of about 40 minutes, walking probably the equivalent of one mile, and witnessed two situations that were dangerously close to accidents, including one in which I would have been hit while crossing the street. The common denominator: Both morons were holding cell phones and jabbering away, barely paying attention to the road.

Bimbo driving while jabbering

One white male moron in a blue BMW made a turn without looking while I was crossing, absolutely with the right of way. If you can afford a BMW, I think you can afford a Bluetooth headset, since they’re available for under $15 these days.

The second moron was a white female, driving an old Toyota, who blew right through the stop sign on Jefferson and 1st, also with a cell phone attached to her jaw. While the first near accident rattled me personally, because I was almost the one getting hit, the second one was downright scary. The two cars coming through the intersection missed each other by about a yard, and while I didn’t catch the make of the second car (the one not at fault), I give the driver huge credit for avoiding a collision.

If it is absolutely necessary to yack away while driving, there is enough affordable technology out there to eliminate having to hold the cell phone. Enough is enough already, people. If you hit me, I will kill you, whether it’s in this life or another.

Categories: cars, Hoboken, venting | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Good Morning, Mr. Tow Truck Driver!

Most people are not happy to see tow trucks, as it either means their car was parked illegally, leading to aggravation and expenses, or their car is dead or inoperable, also leading to aggravation and expenses. I was watching tow trucks all morning, right in my apartment building’s parking area, just outside of my window, and I was ecstatic.

Happy Tow Truck, Happy 9nine9!

Three cars were removed from my building’s parking area this morning. I normally cringe at the sight of someone’s car being towed, feeling sympathetic toward the car owners, but not this morning.

Our parking area has several assigned spots, but it also has an area in the back where parking is not allowed. Most people use it as emergency parking, for a short time, since parking here in Hoboken is God-awful and often nonexistent. I have absolutely no problem with this, and I’ve done it myself on occasion. But I don’t abuse it: I’ve been in this building about seven years, and I have probably put cars back there 10 times, including overnight twice.

The cars that were towed this morning, however, are owned by people who thoroughly abuse the privilege, for lack of a better word. Seeing the same cars parked illegally day after day after day really wears on my patience, especially when my wife and I are paying for a spot in a garage several blocks from here so we can keep both of our cars (we only have one spot in our building, and the odds of getting a second are negligible, as there are far fewer spots than units).

I really hope I’m fortunate enough to be near the window when these people come home to discover their vehicles gone. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a lengthy, evil cackle.

My only regret is that this action wasn’t taken two months ago, before a former tenant left the building. This former tenant apparently believed that being a rabbi also made him lord and master of the parking area, as he had one spot, but his second car was parked illegally anywhere from 20-25 days per month, and he often had a third vehicle back there, too. I don’t miss having him and his 26 kids in the building, but the look on his face upon realizing that his car was gone would have been priceless. And had it happened on a Friday, like today, he would have had to wait until sundown Saturday to even do anything about it!

Yes, I am evil, and I am culling far too much enjoyment from the misery of others. But this should have happened months ago, and I’m glad we’re not shelling out the cash for a second spot for no reason whatsoever, which sometimes felt like the case.

Give some people an inch, and they take a mile.

Categories: cars, Hoboken | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Unemployment Nine: What if?

About four years ago, I was very unhappy at my old job. I was moved against my will from a publication where I had spent my first 11-plus years at the company to another title where I just knew it wasn’t a good fit for a number of reasons, having had previous experience working with that magazine. I tried everything I could to fight it, but failed, so I began to consider options. In October 2008, the choice was made for me, as I was one of the victims of the first of what turned out to be several rounds of layoffs. But what if I had followed through with a plan I was seriously considering and left on my own?

Field of Dreams

A lot of things would have had to fall into place for me to actually go through with this plan, but this is what I was giving some very legitimate thought to doing.

As I said, I was unhappy with my job situation, and the entire process of working for a large company had made me quite jaded. I was in a situation where I was locked into a 3% raise no matter what my performance was, which gave me no incentive whatsoever to extend myself beyond my normal duties. This attitude was made worse when a co-worker who routinely showed up to the office around lunchtime (no exaggeration whatsoever) got the same raise I did, despite the fact that I ended up picking up most of the slack in his absence. So, my thinking was: If I’m going to work this hard and get so little reward, rather than working for a company where not giving a shit was mutual — I didn’t give a shit about the company, and it didn’t give a shit about me — why not do something I’m passionate about and try to find a job with a minor-league baseball team?

My plan was to enjoy one last summer on Long Beach Island, and then spend the next year making a very sincere effort to save as much money as I could, in anticipation of a lower salary. And then, when the following baseball season ended, I intended to bombard just about every minor-league and independent-league team in existence with my résumé in the hopes of landing some kind of position that involved a combination of writing, editing and Internet work.

Would I have ever gone through with it? I really don’t know, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

First off, I absolutely, positively suck at saving money. Saying you’re going to do something is different from actually doing it, and I’m not sure that I could have been that disciplined. In fact, the odds are against it.

Second, and most important: I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to pack up and leave the New York area, where most of my friends and family still live. It’s a very, very difficult decision to make. It seems like everyone has one moment during their life when they say, “Fuck this shit, I’m getting the hell out of here,” but again, there’s a big difference between threatening to leave and packing up the car.

Finally, even if I had actually gone through with my plan, would I have been happy? I’ve talked to a lot of people involved in baseball and, not surprisingly, the closer a minor-league team is to a legitimate city, the harder it is to get a job with that team. Teams like the Newark Bears and the Kane County Cougars (located pretty close to Chicago) will get significantly more résumés than, say, the Billings Mustangs or Casper Ghosts. I mean no disrespect to those cities, but they just don’t have the appeal of larger metropolitan areas. So, would I really have been happy living in Montana or Wyoming, after spending my entire life in Manhattan and Hoboken? I guess I’ll never know.

Anyway, as I said, I don’t know if I would have really gone through with this plan, but during what I envisioned as my last big-time summer on LBI, I really clicked with one of the girls in my beach house. She is now my wife. Needless to say, packing up and moving to the middle of nowhere is no longer part of the equation, especially since giving up her salary in this economy would be beyond foolhardy. And I have no regrets: Family should be more of a priority and a concern than career, and I am much, much happier being married in Hoboken than being single in Cedar Rapids.

But it doesn’t keep me from occasionally wondering what would have happened, especially with my frustration boiling over when it comes to my current unemployment situation.

Categories: baseball, business, Hoboken, life, sports, travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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