He's fat, with a goofy jacket that only makes him look fatter and a hat and sunglasses that make him look like a tourist. He lights a cigarette, and starts talking to one of my friends who leers at him with curious disgust. I'm right there with him. We've just gotten off the train and are heading into the heart of Hoboken for the St. Patrick's Day parade and celebration that is a couple weeks early.
"Look, I fought some guy." He holds up a swollen right hand that's not in good shape. "Last night, I fought some guy. He was like 6'10". I got'em though. I always get in fights when I go out... will you guys help me if I get in a fight?"
It takes all I have to not laugh at him. It takes even more to not be terribly dickheaded and tell him that we don't want him following us and BSing. We're being pretty nasty towards him though, being as none of us want to be bothered with this annoying fat man.
"No, we won't," we all say, nearly in unison.
"Oh.." He looks disheartened in a pathetic way. "They told me people in Hoboken are nice... you guys aren't nice."
I look at him when dead eyes. "You're looking for the Yuppies. They're off today."
We swing into a liquor store and buy a couple pints of whiskey for the walk. I put it in my breast pocket, and grab a long straw so I can slide it down into the bottle in the midst of a crowded bar. It's working well, and I'm all over trying to keep a handle on one of my compatriots who is walking up to every broad in front of him and dancing and talking. I am apologizing and bullshitting with a mediocre looking Polish girl about Warsaw or something when I see my friend whirling like a gyre, resisting the futile dance towards the door that the bouncer is making him do.
"Isn't that your friend?" the blond says to me.
"Ahhh fuck me yea it is."
It's been a long while since I got thrown out of a bar, the last time being last St. Patty's day when I connected with a right hook so big that it shattered the bones in my hand and started all my problems. I've never had a bouncer put his hands on me, a good thing because when I'm drunk enough to not listen to you telling me to leave, I'm drunk enough to hit you. It's likely that I'm the guy that Rob the Bouncer complains about all the time (minus the coke habit that the guidos have.)
It's a two way street with bouncers. I'm very respectful to most people, and I don't go out to cause trouble. I know your night sucks, and I'm not there to make it worse. But if you think that the black "STAFF" written on your shirt gives you the authority to talk to me like the cops talk to me, you are sadly mistaken. These bouncers were assholes, and I decided when I was sober that if this guy put his hands on me, he was getting my signature right hook to the body.
"Let's go to Trinity".
"Let's go to City Bistro".
My buddy looks at the girls, blowing smoke up with a quizzical look. "Bistro? Sounds like a fag place. I won't drink anywhere called a "bistro."
I realize how oddly out place I feel here. The people aren't dressed any better, and certainly aren't as good looking as me, but there's a heavy arrogance that wafts off the water, pervades every bar here. The guys are, well, complete metrosexual bitches, and the women have their noses so far in the air that it's a wonder they're not walking into chairs. The bars are hip places, but the people just suck.
I remember playing Hoboken for the State Championships back in my football days. They were all blacks and Puerto Ricans, tough, lean kids and you saw it in their eyes, that look that boxers have when they're coming up through the ranks- they were hungry. They wanted out. No more ghettoes- these boys were playing for their mammas, playing to escape and get to college where the white kids would idolize them for the talents on the field, and there'd be no more bangin'. They weren't like playing the Paterson teams, which were lazy, fundamentally unsound messes. No, playing them was like playing guys who were fighting for their lives.
As I look down Washington Street, with its lines of neon lit bars, $3.50 dark roast coffee latte joints with fake ass French names and red signs, and liquor stores where a pint of JD costs $15, I can only shake my head.
Some people would say the place is better now. You'll hear the catchphrases, the same ones they're throwing around about Newark and Jersey City now. "Safer." "Cleaner." "Happier." I say it's lost it's heart, sold out amongst a sea of commercialism.
Where those kids at now... where's that hungry look? Even though I have a job that is going to be filled with actual professionals, I always want that connection to the streets. I'm not from them, make no mistake; but I know plenty of guys who are. When I start boxing, that's who I want to be around. They'll keep you down to Earth, they'll keep you jabbing, they'll never let you sit back.
That's why I say give me a strip club in Newark any day over this souless mess, give me the place where people are struggling and striving and there's flames in the streets burning like an flash fire and riots are always a step away. That's passion baby... That's fire.
This is baby boomer shit. And you motherfuckers can keep it.