I was stoked to return to my old stomping grounds of Hoboken, NJ, and even more psyched to return to my old drinking grounds of Green Rock Tavern. It actually first opened in 2002 when I lived in town and has been serving up $1 mugs of beer ever since. I've always had a soft spot for the hometown of Frank Sinatra, baseball, and drunks, and I even made the main character of "How to Fail," Stu Fish, a former Hoboken resident himself.
And, in the chapter "How to Locate and Find Yourself Paying Rent to a Slumlord," Stu discusses the said slumlords who rented him his first post-collegiate place in Hoboken:
There was Boris and Ena, a Ukrainian couple that dressed in black and looked like they stayed up all night fucking using weird implements, devices, and machines. Which is feasible considering they were both inveterate drug addicts. Mostly coke to keep their senses honed for screwing people over and squabbling about petty building repairs, but on weekends they'd experiment with mushrooms and LSD and obscure hallucinogens even my drug addict then-roommate Calvin had never heard of. The two talked like stereotypical Soviet bad guys from 80s movies. “Eez furst of munt. Rrrrent iz dew!” topped off with the occasional Draculian cackle “Ah ah ah!” When they weren't badgering us about minuscule improprieties, Boris worked a lucrative day job on Wall Street while Ena handled the day-to-day operations of the fifteen units they owned. I have no idea how they possessed so much property as they were both just off the boat and clearly illegal. Very smart and savvy, it wouldn't surprise me if they had blackmailed easily-corruptible Hoboken city officials or were simply appointees of some Kiev-based cosa nostra. We were daft twenty-three-year-olds just out of college, living in our first real world place. We didn't know any better. We thought this was how all landlords treated you and, quite frankly, the Ukrainians amused us. We liked mimicking their accents, creating elaborate scenarios about their late night pillow talk: “Borrris, eez now time forjyu to leek my pooosy.” Though, maybe it was actually Boris and Ena that were the dopes as they told us we weren't getting back our $4,000 security deposit the day before we moved out. We spent our last night in the apartment swilling cheap Ruskie vodka, hurling the shattering bottles into the fireplace, and relieving ourselves in the center of the living room carpet.
Furthermore, the question I have been getting asked most often while on tour is, "So...where'd you come up with the idea?" And, the simple answer is actually: Hoboken.
More specifically, I was walking down the street in Hoboken one day in 2004 when I thought, "Hmmm...has there ever been the reverse of a self-help guide? A self HURT guide???" I held that idea in the back of my head for years, praying that no other writer would come up with the idea, certain some other writer would come up with such an easy high-concept. Yet it never happened and I was able to be the man to bring the first self-hurt guide to the world. All because of Hoboken where, now in 2010, it was pouring rain outside which was causing tons of people to pour into the bar and have themselves poured countless cheap mugs of beer. I meet some cool Brits, some dudes that actually bet on women's college basketball games (fail!), an upstate fellow Matt, and a nice Stevens Institute coed Myriam. A fun day.
FAIL OF THE DAY:
Stopping at a NJ Turnpike reststop Roy Rogers for the second night in a row. Ouch.
SUCCESS OF THE DAY:
An awesome story about me appearing in the NY PRESS.
DRINK OF THE NIGHT:
A neverending supply of $1 mugs of macro swill. After nine days on tour drinking highly alcoholic shit, I actually needed some beer water.