A Column So Nice, It Was Printed Twice…

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Here they are again, for easier reading:

The Blinders Are Off…

As a Hoboken transplant, I’m not always an invested citizen. Since college, not sure as to where I will ultimately settle, every “home” I’ve had comes with an expiration date. This limbo sometimes skews my vision of Hoboken as if it were the Fisher Price Little People Village.

In this plastic village, I only pay attention to the news that I deem important, like my favorite bar, The Gold Hawk closing, rather than local politics. This analogy of course is ridiculous: First, real people have arms and legs; second, Hoboken is not plastic, nor void of non-toxic issues I can dismiss at whim.

It was in the second grade when I discovered I had this ability to tune people out. Like all children who find out that they have been blessed with a super-power, not everyone took to it without some disconcertion sent my way.

Day after day during lunchtime, I would finish my peanut butter and jelly on potato bread and as if I were unwrapping dessert, pull a book out of my desk, lick my fingers, and flip through the pages to consume a story.

When my classmates played “Silent Ball,” a game when kids sat on their desk and tossed a red, rubber kickball back and forth—a public school teacher’s solution for a rain-out recess—despite all the commotion (silent ball was never quite silent), I became so absorbed in my reading that I was unable to hear anyone calling my name, even to tell me “Head’s up!” Teachers worried and called me a loner; kids dropped the ball on my head. I just had other interests that reserved my concentration.

As I grew, I learned a better term for my ability—“blinders,” similar to that forward stare New Yorkers wear to ignore panhandlers. I self-diagnosed myself with an acute case of “the blinders.”

But, one night, when I wished nothing more than to wiggle my nose and transport myself from the office to my bed, I found that a small town like Hoboken may be my kryptonite. Only minutes after engaging my blinders on my trudge home, they immediately crumbled away when I heard “The Godfather” theme performed by a local marching band during its stopover at Leo’s Grandevous on the way to the St. Anne’s Italian Festival. It immediately demanded my attention, and I had to laugh. The town got in.

Last week, when our recently appointed, 32-year-old mayor was arrested, I finally saw Hoboken for what it really is—a real town, complete with its good bits, and the very disheartening.

Cammarano’s future in this town is yet to be determined, but mine as a more active citizen has been written in stone. Now, eyes wide and ears open, I hold myself accountable for my blinders. I will leave mine with the safety button on, as we all should as citizens of this town.

Here’s To You, Goldhawk

It was a steamy Thursday evening in late August, and we were feeling…thirsty. Antsy to move, I swirl my teeny black straw in my drink as my company began to chomp on the ice in their empty glasses—a sign of frustration. The half priced ladies night drinks at Stinky Sullivans just weren’t doing it, and we ached for something more engaging.

New to Hoboken, the bar scene was still very unknown to me. My knowledge of the bars started at The Black Bear, and ended with The Green Rock. I was a fish out of water, gulping and flopping for a bar crowd with a supply of fresh air.

It was then, the first time my friend Kristine, a few months my senior as a resident of Hoboken, suggested we make some moves, to the side of town where Facebook was not king, where Chuck Taylors were worn instead of heels, and the clientele prefer Lou Reed to DJ Louie Vega.

Enter: The Goldhawk. Like the rattling of a subway grate remind us that life and energy radiate literally on every level in the city, the glowing amber light from Goldhawk’s windows on Tenth St. and Park Ave. were telling of the still very active music scene in Hoboken.

This Thursday night visit grew into a few more, and before we knew it, Kristine had me hooked. As I found my footing in this town, Goldhawk became my portal to my own neighborhood of Hoboken. Faces first seen on the stage during Tuesday People’s Open Mic Nights became the first familiar smiles around town. In this bar small talk was not tolerated—here, as if everyone was already on their fifth date, discussion about passions flowed in between pints and sets.

Thanks to the crowd at the Goldhawk, I was introduced to other mainstays in this town, such as the legendary Maxwell’s on Washington St., and the less known, but just as rich with local flavor, DC’s Tavern on Jefferson and Eight St. I also learned that not all Hobokenites want flat screens in their living rooms, as I saw with my own eyes that two musicians actually turned their own studio apartment into a legitimate concert hall.

And they say that no one ever gets to know their neighbors—but thanks to the Goldhawk, my first apartment building became like a dorm. When 2AM hit, and the bar had to close, my neighbor who lived on the second floor, lovingly nicknamed the opera singer of Hoboken, rounded everyone up for night caps of Red Stripe and dance parties. When I had enough, I just walked upstairs to go to bed.

Last Saturday, the Goldhawk closed its doors. I believe that the makings of a truly great bar include the careful pairing of drink, crowd, and setting. But, with The Goldhawk, there was no grand equation. Somewhere in the middle of a few worn in couches, a stage, and some bar stools, stood one of the finest living rooms in Hoboken. Here’s to you Goldhawk. Cheers.

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