In Defense of Hoboken
When it comes to Hoboken, baseball and Frank Sinatra doesn’t come to mind for everyone. To paraphrase a recent conversation, I was asked what’s its like to live a yuppie-ville, cookie-cutter, faux Irish pub land. But, if the Obama “Beer Summit” has taught me anything, it’s that open communication is the key to change. That, and a few beers can solve anything.
I’ve never liked confrontation. I prefer to, as Jean Shepard narrated in A Christmas Story, lay down like a slug, à la Randy when encountered with the bully Scut Farkus. It was his only defense.
While the slug tactic may have been my choice of defense in the past, nowadays, I opt for demonstration. After moving from the niche of neighborhood spots that I had found when I lived uptown, down on Second St., I became disillusioned, even using the word “cookie-cutter” as an excuse as to why I did not want to stay in Hoboken for a night out. But, as I found three Sundays ago, you can find a genuine neighborhood experience anywhere in this town, and so, in the spirit of the “beer summit” I openly invite any doubters to a Sunday Funday in this dear little town, to experience this old town, neighborhood charm that still resonates in between some of the newly poured cement of the river high-rises.
Of all places, the bar that converted me was at The Shannon. Though the building’s molded rooftop may invoke images of an older Hoboken, (after all, it was est. 1956) I’ll admit, this bar doesn’t always exude a small town appeal. Often times, especially on the weekends, the crowds are “fresh off the PATH.” (New Yorkers call us the Bridge and Tunnel Crowd, and we have our own terms of endearment.)
But, this stigma shifted when my friend and I entered the bar on a Sunday in late July. A calmer, relaxed vibe took over the space that I had never seen before, and between 12 strangers sitting around on stools, ordering rounds, conversations slowly began to expand beyond the couples and groups of three. With a little friendly competition in the form of a few games of trivia, random talk about our original hometowns, how I knew that Tex Cobb was a boxer (educated guess based on sheer dumb luck), in between empty glasses and Chinese take out cartons was not only the best way to fight off the fast-approaching Monday, but confirmed what some doubt Hoboken can provide—a legit, small town experience. We were there for six hours, and only left because it was midnight and my friend had to haul it back to Queens.
Sure, blame it on the $2 beers served until close, or the fact that I wandered in with a friend who always provides good company, but that afternoon, The Shannon offered the quintessential neighborhood experience that I’ve been looking to discover ever since I moved downtown. I just had to look and listen a little harder to confirm what I already knew.