My new neighbors: Heat Miser and Puff the Magic Dragon

We’ve had two sets of new neighbors move in over the past few weeks — one in the building directly across from us (we face the backyard), and one in the apartment upstairs. So far, I’m having a hard time deciding which ones are weirder, and I may just opt to go soccer-style and let this competition end in a draw.

I'm Mister Heat Miser ...

When the neighbors across the way moved in, I noticed how much they took advantage of their outdoor space, and I was a little envious, since they have a deck and a small backyard, while we have a terrace that barely fits two chairs and a small table. But after a couple of weeks, the envy turned to confusion and dismay.

For the benefit of anyone who has been in a cave for the past few weeks, it has been brutally hot and humid, every single day, with temperatures often drifting past 100. We are both on the second floor, and while our buildings and the ones around us are far from skyscrapers, they’re tall enough that there is no breeze whatsoever. I will always try to opt for open windows over air conditioning when possible, yet I gave up that battle weeks ago.

Despite the excessive heat and humidity, these people are outside all of the time. And even when they’re not outside, their door is usually left wide open, and there is no trace of an air-conditioning unit.

Are these people insane? Triple-digit temperatures, oppressive humidity, no breeze, bugs (no worse than anywhere else, but they’re still around), and they leave the door open?

Convinced that they are not human, I have decided that they’re direct descendants of Heat Miser, from The Year Without a Santa Claus.

This past weekend, I found out that not only do I live across the yard from Heat Miser, but I live on the floor below Puff the Magic Dragon.

My new upstairs neighbors have been quiet since they moved in, aside from the first couple of days, when they were moving furniture and boxes around, which is to be expected. Saturday night must have been their housewarming party. I have no issues with that whatsoever. If you’re going to throw a party, you might as well do it on a Saturday night during the summer, when the building is half-empty, and they weren’t particularly noisy or rowdy, so party on.

Puff the Magic Dragon

However, these guys played the worst freaking music ever during their party. Like much of Hoboken, our building was built in about 25 minutes, and one of the many details overlooked was noise protection between floors and ceilings. We hear every step our upstairs neighbors take and, when they do play music, it sounds like it’s coming from our apartment.

They played nothing but atrocious 1980s and 1970s songs all night. I don’t dislike 1980s music, but they stuff these guys were playing was pure crap, and not any of the fun 1980s tunes that at least make you laugh a little even if you don’t particularly like them. But the capper of the evening was when “Puff the Magic Dragon” came on. Really? Seriously? Who in the hell listens to “Puff the Magic Dragon?”

Moments after that disgusting song, the party broke up abruptly. I blame the song, either for making guests sick, or making another neighbor sick enough to call the cops (I did no such thing, nor would I). Five days later, I’m still shaking my head. “Puff the Magic Dragon?” Wow.

So, I don’t know if the Heat Miser folks or the Puff people are stranger, but they’re definitely keeping things interesting around here.


What in the hell am I doing watching Big Brother, and why do I actually care what happens?

I was sitting in the sequel to my very first summer house two weeks ago today, watching CC Sabathia dominate the Milwaukee Brewers, when I received a text message from an unfamiliar phone number that read, “Please watch and support Adam Poch on Big Brother 13 starting July 7 on CBS.”

Hoboken's favorite reality show contestant on the left, and Hoboken's favorite blogger on the right

I had no clue who the text was from, so I started hunting around online with my Droid. I initially found a story about the returning cast members, but no mention of new additions. I then looked at Adam’s Facebook page, and everything was blocked off to private (I assume it’s part of the contract). I finally found the official CBS release, and his was the first name on it.

I later found out that the text was from Adam’s girlfriend, who I have met briefly a couple of times, and I am very appreciative of her efforts to alert everyone.

I am not a fan of reality TV at all, aside from Jersey Shore, which is more like a horrific scripted sitcom these days. But Adam has been a Big Brother junkie since the show began airing. Adam joining the cast is roughly equivalent on the dream scale to New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi calling me up and asking me to play first base tonight. I am absolutely ecstatic for him.

Adam and I have been friends for a few years now. We’re not close friends, as in, we don’t talk every day and hang out all the time, but we’re definitely friends. We exchange banter on Facebook quite often (although that will be on hold for the next three months, or so), and we watch a decent number of Dallas Cowboys games together during football season. But I was so happy for him, you would think the good fortune had struck me, or someone I was much closer to. This is truly an event.

Needless to say, I have begun watching the show. It’s amazing how quickly I went from not giving the least big of a crap about Big Brother to having pregame jitters like I was about to watch one of my favorite sports teams in a playoff game. He has waited so long for this, and it’s absolutely nerve-wracking to watch. I obviously would love to see him win, but if he does fall short, I at least want him to advance deep into the competition. Hey, this crap is fun!

By the way, I know that a lot of reality TV is missing the reality part, due to selective editing and some scripting of supposedly unscripted TV, but if you’re watching this season of Big Brother, when it comes to Adam, what you see is what you get. His persona on the show is his persona on real life, which is why it’s been so much fun for me to watch. My wife and I predicted some things that would happen before the season kicked off, and he didn’t disappoint, taking only one-and-a-half episodes before a 250-decibel heavy metal yell of, “BACON!” Folks, if you know him, that isn’t play-acting, and no one on the production crew had to prompt him to do it.

I know this has been a dream of Adam’s since the show debuted, and the $500,000 prize for the winner wouldn’t suck, but it’s still got to be incredibly difficult to completely cut off all communications with society for three months. My wife travels on business quite frequently, but even her worst trip was about two weeks, and we still talked every day. The thought of not talking to her for three months is staggering. Adam and his girlfriend hit it off about as well as any couple I’ve ever met, so this has to be really tough on both of them. And then there are sports, which I eat, sleep and breathe. Three months with no clue whatsoever about how my teams are faring would drive me insane. The Internet has become such a big part of my everyday life, and I think I’d get the shakes if I couldn’t get online for three days, much less three months. I love music, but Adam is an absolute music junkie. I have no idea how he’s going to last three months without being able to fire up some Slayer.

The one thing I absolutely can’t get into, however, is this whole concept of Big Brother After Dark, and the live feeds on the Internet. I am completely wrapped up in this season of the show and will be as long as Adam is still a contender, but I don’t need to know what’s going on every minute for three months. The episodes on CBS and the spoilers I can’t seem to avoid are more than enough for me. I mean, really: Live feeds? Stop the madness.

My summer is usually reserved for the Yankees’ pennant drive, but I’m really enjoying the addition of a second rooting interest: Team Adam, or, as I’ve been referring to it, Poch Nation. I hope it lasts for, oh, about another three months, and then I can go back to hating Big Brother!