Hoboken baby! I’ve already seen the subterranean scenes from every New York street corner. I’ve lived or almost died in every neighborhood, I’ve been on its asphalt stage, backstage, side-stage, and swung from the black steel mezzanines that adorn the bricks and stones. Now, I got the best seat in the house.
Look, I’m all about bopping the boroughs. I got Brooklyn in my blood, 7 generations thick, and no, Hoboken ain’t too far! It drives me crazy how everyone stays stuck in their little corners. It’s not the old days, when staying in your neighborhood meant you stayed safe, or you were in a gang defending turf. I bounced from Bay Ridge to the Bronx, everywhere in between and back—before the days of Walkman’s let alone smart phones—voraciously reading, backpack filled with beat novels, chap books, notebooks, markers, pens & paint. I scribbled and tagged every brick, tile and page I could get away with, claimed and gutturally declaimed the writing on the walls before I took to jumping borders like school yard fences. Nothing was ever too far.
Now, my passport strewn with security clearance stickers sits in a Colombian cigar box on a shelf, and I reside in Hoboken, the 6th borough, the mile square city that, to me, is more like the Brooklyn I grew up in than the Brooklyn of today. Hoboken has a rich history of being a haven for artists, long before The Dirty Ones cleared out of Williamsburg, and made way for the hipsters. Even before Soho, Hoboken was where the expressive took refuge from the expensive, just a short ride from magic of metropolis! Minutes away.
Being one stop from The Village it keeps my bohemian heart beating at pace. The view is amazing, and sometimes the view of the city I adore is far better than being in it.
I still bop back n forth between the boroughs, to feel the heat, and smell the suffering that is strangely soothing to me. I still slither through like I’m copping. You’ll only see me if I want you to. Thankfully there are still Silver Factory style assembly lines along the underground streets, and like peeking in on a baby I quietly shut the door, and split, satisfied the young and unstable are flying the flag of being fabulously fucked up. At this stage in the game I prefer to purchase their finished works from a safe distance, far from the turmoil of tortured artists- god bless them- away from the angers, addictions, and angst of it all.
Today, my tastes and tendencies have changed, and the painstaking passion of the tortured artists I adore sits better professionally framed over my Chesterfield. From here in Hoboken I can love the scenery like some men marvel at a mountain range, and put my efforts and energy into an unforgettable fire that burns brighter than anything I’ve seen…even in my own flashbacks.
Don’t cry about the trip. Come. I’m cooking with fire.
Written by Chef Paul Gerard.
Chef Paul Gerard went from hidden gems in The French Quarter to popular underground Brooklyn joints and then international-cool corporate houses. Chef Paul opened his first restaurant in ‘13, and he hasn’t stopped since.