07030 Hoboken Magazine Winter 2019-2020

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WINTER 2019 | 20


Sushi Sensai Gravity Vault Tapioca Sisters


CoVER 34 HOW WE LIVE 7 Seventy House

Cover Image by Max Ryazansky

FEATURES 14 SISTER ACT Girls Open a Tapioca Stand

22 KNIVES OUT Learning to Make Sushi




20 DATES 26 PEOPLE POWER Popup Events

30 DOWN MEMORY LANE Looking Back

36 HOW WE WORK Small Business

38 SPORTS Lynch Defies the Odds

41 POINT AND SHOOT Signs of Hoboken

42 ON THE JOB Gravity Vault

44 THE ARTS Painting in The Moment

46 EATERY Alfalfa


4 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

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Winter 2019 | 20 Volume 8 • Number 2 Published twice annually A Publication of Newspaper Media Group

PUBLISHER Perry Corsetti EDITOR IN CHIEF Kate Rounds ART DIRECTOR Terri Saulino Bish ADVERTISING MANAGER Tish Kraszyk Senior ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Toni Anne Calderone-Caracappa Ron Kraszyk ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Jay Slansky John Ward CIRCULATION Luis Vasquez


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07030 Hoboken Magazine is published by the Newspaper Media Group, 447 Broadway, Bayonne, New Jersey 07002, (201) 798-7800, Fax (201) 798-0018. Email 07030@hudson reporter.com. Subscriptions are $10 per year, $25 for overseas, single copies are $7.50 each, multiple copy discounts are available. VISA/MC/ AMEX accepted. Subscription information should be sent to 07030 Hoboken Magazine Subscriptions, 447 Broadway, Bayonne, NJ 07002. Not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts or other unsolicited materials. Copyright ©2019-20, Newspaper Media Group .All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited.

07030 Hoboken Magazine is a publication of Newspaper Media Group 447 Broadway, Bayonne, New Jersey 07002 phone 201.798.7800 fax 201.798.0018 6 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

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MARILYN BAER grew up in Hoboken and currently lives in Jersey City. She studied journalism at Ohio Wesleyan University and is now a staff writer for the Hoboken Reporter.

Pat BONNER is a Navy veteran and one of Bayonne’s 45th Street Bonners. JIM HAGUE is a Jersey City native, who landed a job with the Hudson Dispatch in 1986. He has been the sports columnist for the Hudson Reporter Associates for the last 22 years. VICTOR M. RODRIGUEZ has studied publication design, photography, and graphic arts. “I’ve been fascinated by photography for almost 20 years,” he says.


MAX RYAZANSKY is a photographer whose work has been exhibited in galleries and published worldwide. A recent transplant to Bayonne, he spends his spare time trying to figure out the best pizza place in town. TARA RYAZANSKY is a writer who moved from Brooklyn to Bayonne. She works as a blogger for Nameberry.com and spends her spare time fixing up her new (to her) 100-year-old home. DIANA SCHWAEBLE is an award-winning reporter and former editor of hMAG. She has covered Hudson County for more than a decade, writing about the arts, music, and celebs.



0 7 0 3 0

DENNIS SEVANO is a former teacher/supervisor in Hoboken and assistant superintendent in Paterson, now teaching at St. Peter’s and William Paterson University.

Jim Hague Dennis Savino


Diana Schwaeble


City for All Seasons oboken is a little town with lots of heft. Its citizens care deeply about what goes on here. Witness the public discourse on scooters, Union Dry Dock, bike lanes, parks, and pot. Hoboken continues to draw new residents who often live in the new developments that have been debated in the Public Square. It’s all good and part of the lively toggle between tradition and trends that keeps the town energized. With that in mind, here’s what’s on tap in this winter issue of 07030 which takes us into the new decade of 2020. Looking back, Pat Bonner reports on the Fire Victims Memorial Project, reminding us of that tragic moment in Hoboken’s history.

see page 29

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Sister act

Kids open a tapioca stand and learn how to be entrepreneurs By Tara Ryazansky Photo by Max Ryazansky


ids in the burbs open lemonade stands, but here in Hoboken, budding entrepreneurs like Elise Papakonstantinou, age 7, create full-scale brands. Last January, when Elise mentioned starting a business, her father, Konstantinos, used it as an opportunity to teach his daughters the skills and challenges that come with being an entrepreneur. “When she showed some interest I was like, ‘Let’s do it’,” says Konstantinos, who founded a video production company seven years ago. “My husband wanted to teach the kids entrepreneurship, how to take it from an idea to market,” Elise’s mom, Susan Tang says. “Entrepreneurship is not really something that they teach in school. We have two little girls, and he wanted to teach them the importance of managing money and finances, and the best way to teach them was to take them through this experience.”

Elise and Coco

14 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

The Origin Story

“I was thinking of a lemonade stand, but then I wanted to do something different,” Elise says. “Lemonade stands were too common.” That’s when she thought of tapioca pudding: “It was one of my favorite summer desserts. My grandma’s friend from Hong Kong usually made it for us. She gave us the recipe.” That’s when her dad started asking questions: “Where are you going to do it? Are you doing to do it at a food market? Are you going to do it outside of school? Is there foot traffic? Are they prepared to pay for something? Are they hungry?” She also had to perfect the product. “We had to try the recipe for like one month,” Elise says. The family pitched in, even her little sister and business partner, Chloe (Coco), who just turned 4. “She helped me chop the bananas,” Elise says. “We had to do a lot of batches, and then we had to try them out for taste tests,” Susan says.

Location, Location, Location

Once they got it right, it was time to figure out where to sell their taro and banana tapioca pudding. “We thought of all the different options, and she came up with Alfalfa,” Konstantinos says. The Washington Street eatery was a family favorite. [See story page TK]. Elise thought that tapioca pudding would be the perfect follow up after one of Alfalfa’s fresh salads or wraps. “It’s complementary,” Konstantinos says. “They had been great customers of ours from day one,” says Dan Sobsey, who owns Alfalfa along with Andrew Arrospide and Dan Londono. “They discovered us at the farmers market. They followed the journey all the way to the store.” The family saw how Alfalfa grew from a stand, to a popup shop, and then to a popular restaurant. Elise approached the business owners to see if they would support her in her own popup effort. The guys were happy to pay it forward and offer some space at the front of the restaurant. “As a team who all went to school locally here, just like Elise, it was nice to help a

young entrepreneur with an idea,” Sobsey says. “She was very busy, and she brought a great energy to the store.” Susan says, “I don’t think a lot of business owners would be open to a kid opening up a food stand in their store, but they were so gracious.” “She got more business than us I think,” Sobsey says with a grin.

Tapioca Time!

Now it was time to sell. They called the business Elise and Coco’s Tapioca Stand and worked with design team, Studio Of, to create a logo. They set up shop at the front of the restaurant, and that’s when new challenges arose. Elise needed to catch the attention of adult customers as they entered the store and convince them to try her product. Not everybody was interested in the pudding cups. “In the beginning when people would walk away, I felt a little frustrated.” Elise says. Konstantinos says, “For me, selling is paramount. I’m scared of it, everyone is scared of it. It’s the most difficult thing, the rejection. The first time somebody walked in, and she asked if they would like to try something, and they said no, I loved it. She was flustered, and I was like, ‘you will do that 100 times today.’ By the end she loved it. I would see her ask people on the way in if they would like to try something, and they would say no, and on their way out, she would ask again, and she actually converted some of those people, and it was amazing.”

Customer Contact

“The funnest part was interacting with the people,” Elise says. “Slowly and slowly it was a little bit more funner.” As the business started to pick up steam over the summer, the kids were earning money. Elise decided to use the money to help other kids in Hoboken. “We donated all the money to the Boys and Girls Club,” Elise says. Susan says that the funds helped area kids attend camp. Giving back made sense. “I think she learned how hard it is to earn money,” Susan says. “When you’re selling a container of tapioca at $3 apiece, you have to sell a lot to make some money. I think it taught her a lot about how hard you have to work, the value of money, and just an appreciation of others in this process. It’s just something that’s a fun thing to do as a family that you won’t learn in school in a class.”—07030


“It’s one thing to have an idea, but the execution is the difficult thing,” Konstantinos says. “I wanted her to see all of those difficulties because anyone can come up with an idea where everything sounds good in your head, but then it’s like, ‘How do I bring this to reality?’”

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Rosemary Orozco

67 Park Ave. linton

131 C



Planning ahead, looking back

Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project Story and photos by Pat Bonner Archival images courtesy of the Hoboken Fire Department Museum


n January 21, 1979, a cold wintry night, a fire raged through a building at 131 Clinton Street. Twenty-one people died, including Neelavati Rampersad, age 2, Sharmun Rampersdd, age 4, Pradeep Drepaul, age 5, and Premnath Drepaul, age 6. The fire started at 5:15 a.m., spreading to the buildings at 129 and 133 Clinton. 18 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

Rosemary Orozco wants us to remember. The retired nurse has led the efforts to establish the Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project. She and those working with her want us to remember the victims of the Hoboken fires of the late 1970s and early ‘80s, including those who died, their families, those who were injured, the families who were uprooted, as well as the residents who lived in fear.

A Tinderbox In the late ‘70s, Hoboken was undergoing rapid changes. Many Hispanics, primarily Puerto Ricans, had moved to

the city in the 1950s and ‘60s to work in Hoboken’s numerous factories. The city was densely populated with rooming houses and tenements as well as older wooden buildings that had been subdivided to house additional families. At the same time, Hoboken began to attract middle class professionals who were drawn to the town’s many historic brownstones. To landlords, it began to make economic sense to replace the old tenement buildings with luxury condominiums. Between 1978 and 1983, there were almost 500 fires in Hoboken. These fires killed 55 people, including many chil-

dren. Thousands of people, mostly Puerto Ricans, were made homeless. Many in the city feared for their lives. Although all signs pointed to arson-for-profit, no one was ever convicted of setting the fires.


Looking Back Viewing the properties today, you would not guess their histories. The fire at 131 Clinton was one of the first and one of the worst. The fires continued through 1979, 1980 and 1981. There were two very bad fires in October 1981. On October 13, 67 Park Avenue was consumed by fire, killing Modesto Galicia, age 7 and his brother, Javier, age 2. This site is now home to a parking garage. Later that month on October 25, a fire started in the dumbwaiter at 1200 Washington Street. Eleven people died, including six members of the Mercado family. Ten families were displaced, and there was speculation that the fire alarm was inoperable or had been disconnected. It might be a cliché to say that Hoboken was gripped by fear, but it was. Tommy Molta, a former Hoboken Fire Captain and currently President of the Hoboken Volunteer Ambulance Corps, was in high school at the time. He recalls that some buildings set up a watch system from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The men of the building took turns roaming the halls for a few hours each night, armed with baseball bats to scare off arsonists. The final fire of this era was on April 30, 1982 at the Pinter Hotel, 151 14th Street. Thirteen people died, with names such as Perez, Vasquez, Serrano, Garcia, Colon, Torres and Negron. This fire started at 4:20 a.m. Most of the fires were ignited early in the morning or late at night when families were sleeping.

131 Clinton St.

67 Park Ave.

Looking Ahead The purpose of the Hoboken Fire Victim Memorial Project is to remember the victims of the fires, named and unnamed. There is no precise number of those who died because some victims died in hospitals days, weeks, or months later, and their names are not known. There are no accurate records of the hundreds of people injured or the thousands displaced. Rosemary stresses that the purpose of the project is “not to point fingers, but merely to remember.” The Hoboken Fire Victims Memorial Project hopes to find a place—a park or part of a park—where people can go to remember the victims of these tragic fires.—07030 1200 Washington St. 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20 • 19

D a T E S 0 7 0 3 0

Want your event listed? Please email us at 07030@hudsonreporter.com and put “07030 calendar listings” in the subject line.

ONgOINg The Mile Square Toastmasters Club Meetings, Hudson School, 601 Park Ave., milesquare.org. Mondays,7:30 p.m. Develop public speaking skills and leadership skills in a safe and supportive space. guitar Circle, Symposia Bookstore, 510 Washington St., chaase@ chdesignsolutions.com, symposia. us. Thursdays, 8:00 p.m. Come jam with local guitar players in a casual, friendly atmosphere. Share

20 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

your favorite songs and learn new ones. All playing levels and styles are welcome. Free Yoga Class, Symposia Bookstore, 510 Washington St., Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. Contact certified yoga instructor Carmen Rusu at 201-805-1739 or carpathian_air@yahoo.com for more information of to register. Suggested donation: $8. Open Level. Registration required. Puppetonia Puppet Shows at Symposia Bookstore, 510

Washington St., Puppet Shows are Monday, Wednesday and Friday 10:00-11:00 a.m. Spanish Puppetonia is Tuesday and Thursday 10:00-11:00 a.m. These music and puppet shows incorporate important social skills, early academics, thinking skills, motor skills, and self-expression. Penny’s Storytime at the Museum, Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson St., (201) 656-2240, hobokenmuseum.org. Fridays at

see page 28


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Head Sushi Chef Eddie Ho

enjoy it, and they have fun. I can show them the easy way.” The backroom has been converted into our classroom. Pub tables are set up with stations, including colorful sushi rolling mats, sharp knives, and various ingredients like tuna, salmon, crab and veggies. Ho walks us through classic menu items, including a tuna roll, California roll, and salmon avocado roll. “You will learn how to cut the cucumber and how to cut the avocado, the basics,” Ho says.

No Beginners’ Angst

Katie Hayes and Nick Palumbo By Tara Ryazansky Photos by Max Ryazansky


aku Sushi is on Park Avenue in the building that was once the Turtle Club. It’s an easy choice for a chill date night in Hoboken. The ambiance is just right, with décor that makes it look like cherry blossoms are growing from the walls and ceiling. The drinks and the

sushi rolls are innovative and delicious. It’s the perfect place to sit and relax. But tonight, I’m going to get a little messy with a unique, hands-on Saku SushiMaking Class. First, we suit up with aprons that say Sensei In Training. The real guy in charge, head sushi chef, Eddie Ho, greets us. “I show everybody how to make sushi,” Ho says. “Everyone says they

When Ho learned to make sushi almost 25 years ago, it was a tough field to break into. The chefs who he learned from didn’t openly demonstrate their sushi-making techniques. You had to prove that you had a passion to learn how to do it. “You’ve got to look at the chef to learn, they won’t teach you,” he recalls. “You’ve got to learn by yourself. You learn by watching. You learn by asking.” Ho says that now it’s more instructional in the culinary world. His class makes it easy for beginners to enjoy a fun night learning the basics. As class participants start to trickle in after work, I check the bar menu, which includes special wine flights and lots of sake options. Saku has creative cocktails like a tequila with wasabi syrup, and The Boba Fett, which combines whiskey, violet liqueur, and boba pearls. A bartender takes our order and checks in throughout the class to keep the drinks flowing.


Slice and Dice Ho explains what our ingredients are. We learn the proper way to peel an avocado and chop a cucumber. When I struggle to get the julienned slices to look as great as Ho’s, the chef steps in to help. With a bit of practice, I make thin slivers just like his. Next, he shows us how to spread rice over our sheets of nori seaweed. Then we pile in the ingredients to create a California roll. It’s a struggle not to snack as I go, but luckily that doesn’t seem to be a problem. My table-mates are doing the same thing. Nick Palumbo and Katie Hayes found out about the class when Katie was looking for a birthday outing that Nick would enjoy. She was surprised to see something in her own neighborhood. “We’ve been here before and we loved it,” Nick says. “We love sushi,” Katie says. “We eat a lot of it.” Now it’s time to roll up our sushi. This is the most challenging part. It’s hard to find the right amount of pressure to make the roll stay together without squishing the roll so that the ingredients pop out the sides. Katie and Nick pull it off. I bet they will be ordering less takeout now that they can do this themselves. Mine isn’t quite as beautiful. However, deconstructed sushi is just as delicious. At the table over Dana Prignoli is taking the class with her friend Veronica Bocheneka. Dana found out about the class on Instagram. She says, “I’ve al24 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

Veronica Bocheneka and Dana Prignoli ways wanted to do this, but I never took the initiative,” Dana says. “This is a few blocks away from my apartment, so I was like, ‘let’s just do this on a Tuesday!’” With each roll, we learn more skills, and the final product looks better and better. Ho is fun, engaging, and super helpful. At the end, Ho makes a special roll for everyone to share while we sit down to sample our creations.

Owner’s Manual Saku Owner, Daniel Grey, who lives in Hoboken, comes by to say hello. I ask how he came up with the idea of hosting a sushi-making class. “I’m the kind

of person who would always go into the city looking for fun stuff to do with my fiancé or my friends,” he says. “It’s harder to find stuff like that to do in Jersey, so I thought, we could do sushi making classes here.” The class runs from 7-9 p.m. and costs $55 per person. Private sushi-making parties are available. Grey says Tuesday was a natural fit for the class because on weeknights they see less of a dinner crowd. He dedicates one room to the class but keeps it limited to around 10 participants, so it’s an intimate experience with plenty of hands-on instruction from Ho. He says, “It’s something fun to do for a night out here in Hoboken.”—07030

Main Street

Pops with Life

A trio of Hoboken women is luring people away from their computers and into the community By Diana Schwaeble Photos by David White Photography


s we head into 2020, the holiday madness is fresh in our minds but hard on our emotions. It’s a time of year that’s meant to bring out the best in everyone, yet often leaves us stressed and regretful about missing the important connections—you know, the ones happening IRL. It was this notion of connectivity that inspired three savvy Hoboken women to launch their new business, Main Street Pops, during the Christmas holidays. The “Pops” is a hyper-local, artfocused, temporary business that aims to fix what’s ailing us: lack of connection and community in our tech-saturated world, says Zabrina Stoffel, one of the founders of Pops. To call what they’re doing a business doesn’t quite capture the spirit of what they hope to inspire. In a broader sense they’re creating popup events, particularly the Instagram-ready photo staging area for the holidays. They also set up a food and artisan market and a popup art gallery. Stoffel says that the popups are designed for those who can’t afford to buy a space but also don’t want to sell items out of their homes. “Where people can’t afford their own store, they can have this,” Stoffel said. “I love the art. I think it gives people something to talk about. I love the food.” Tracy Gavant, another founder, says none of this would have come together without Stoffel. Stoffel had suggested that Gavant start her own business. Gavant has a history of making things happen for businesses. She is a former publisher and current board member of Mile Square Theatre, where she worked extensively with Stoffel to find the theater a permanent space. Through a series of conversations over the summer, the women discussed the kinds of businesses they could have, and the kinds of things they wanted for Hoboken. They brought in another friend, Shan Gettens, whom Tracy thought would round things out with her experience in sales. “I felt like there was a good balance between us with personalities and experience,” Gavant said.

days, and it’s so easy, and no one gets out of their house anymore.” Gavant said. “You know, it’s like herding cats to get people to do things. We moved to Hoboken because we want to be near the city. We want to have access to the arts, to music. We are doers. We really figured the seeds were there if we figured out the right way to do it.” Ultimately, their goal is to build community and connections. Or as Stoffel succinctly put it, the mission is to get people out of their houses. “We don’t like our town having these holes,” Stoffel said. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has written about the epidemic of loneliness in this country. Kristoff cites the measures Great Britain has taken, including appointing a minister of loneliness to help correct the problem. After the troika’s ah ha moment, they had to paint the spaces they were using for events. It’s one thing to identify a problem. It’s quite another to find a solution. Stoffel said they needed to shut up or do something about it. They hope to save Hobokenites from becoming too isolated. For all the conveniences that technology brings, there lies a darker truth. Perhaps we have all gotten a little too comfortable in our homes, which is not good for business or for over-the fence interaction.

Future Pops The women have gotten a lot of positive feedback. Eventually, they plan to have more popups all over town. And Gavant wants to promote their mission in other towns. As their company grows, and the business takes off, they want to tie in some of the events with local charities. “We want to create meaningful connections,” Gavant says. “Main Street has to be reimagined. It’s not coming back. We’re doing special events in unexpected places. We’re turning them into little boutiques.” –07030 For more information, visit: www.mainstreetpops.com

Empty Storefronts As the trio discussed ideas, they talked about bringing people together in ways that used to happen organically, when a Main Street in every town bustled with life. “We really wanted it to be more of a gathering, what Main Street used to be,” Gavant said. “Main Street is a feeling. It’s a concept of togetherness and connecting with people. That’s been lost with the streaming and the internet and the phones—all of it.” As they sharpened their focus on what they imagined for Hoboken, the conversation got a bit darker when they touched on all the empty storefronts in town. The women wondered what they could do to fill all those holes. “We feel guilty when we see all these internet boxes on recycling 26 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

GIRL POWER! – Main Street Pops hosts popup events featuring food, art, and more. (L-R) are Tracy Gavant, Shan Gettens, and Zabrina Stoffel.


DATES 07030 from page 20 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Museum staff and other guest readers share stories with children ages 2 to 5 and their caregivers. Registration required. See webpage for link, posted at 10 a.m. on the day before each session.

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Mindfulness Meditation with Lindsey Swindall, Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson St., (201) 656-2240, hobokenmuseum.org, Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. Each session will include 45 minutes of meditation practice plus time for questions and discussion. Class is $10 per person, per session, collected at the door. Open to all levels and all faiths. Bring cushions or accessories if desired. Chairs will be provided. Storytime at the Fire Department Museum, 213 Bloomfield St., Sundays at 1:30 p.m. The Museum host a weekly Storytime program for children between the ages of 2 and 5. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Free. Lunchtime Yoga Basics and Meditation at the Museum, Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson St., Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00 p.m. Restore your bliss with our weekly hour-long Basic Yoga class. Bring your own mat and towel, and wear comfortable clothing. $10 per session. Adults only. Advanced reservations required. Register at hobokenmuseum.org. Tai Chi at the Museum with Pieter Sommen, Hoboken Historical Museum, 1301 Hudson St., Wednesdays from 10:00-11:00 a.m. Tai Chi is a Chinese form of exercise: a series of movements practiced in a slow and focused manner, coordinated with breathing. $10 per class. Open Makerspace Time, Hoboken Public Library, 500 Park Ave., Mondays from 1-7 p.m. Come have fun and learn how to make buttons, key chains, magnets and lots more. We have a virtual reality headset, 3D printer and a variety of other creative activities. Ages 5 and up. Morning Art with Liz Ndoye, Hoboken Public Library, 500 Park Ave., Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. These art classes will accommodate beginners as well as more experienced artist. Artists will go from their first triumphs of drawing the human face to drawing the entire human figure. A live clothed professional model will pose for the students. First come, first served. Afternoon Art with Liz Ndoye, Hoboken Public Library, 500 Park Ave., Wednesdays from 1-3 p.m. Due to enthusiastic enrollment of Morning Art with Liz Ndoye, these classes will be a repeat of the morning classes. First come, first served with priority to students who did not attend the morning class.

see page 49

EDITOR’S LETTER 07030 from page 10 Also in the past, we remember Teofilo “Tom” Olivieri. A park has been named in his honor, reminding us yet again of the great contributions of our immigrant neighbors. Resident Dennis Savino loves to stroll down memory lane sharing his recollections of a bygone era. In this installment, he talks about life on Fourth and Madison back in the day. At the same time, Hoboken is on the cutting edge of trends in art and entertainment. Don’t like big box stores? Want an alternative to online buying? Two Hoboken women are cresting the wave of popup shopping. Diana Scwaeble is on the case. Watercolorist Morgan McCue’s custom portraits, wedding invites, décor, and very popular pet paintings are finding a home in Hoboken and beyond. Check out her work in this issue. Looking for a toehold? Tara and Max visited Gravity Vault to find out what kids and adults love about climbing the walls. Full disclosure: I love Jim Hague’s story about J.R. Lynch. This guy’s a 5-foot-3 professional basketball player. A short person myself, I’m rooting for short people everywhere. But whatever your stature, you’ll find something to inspire in our winter issue.—07030

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Photo courtesy of Stephanie Montañez

DOWN MEMORY LANE The name Teofilo “Tom” olivieri is enshrined in Hoboken history


egion Park will be renamed in honor of former Hoboken tenant advocate and activist Teofilo “Tom” Olivieri after the city council unanimously approved the resolution on the fifth anniversary of his death, June 5, 2014 at age 75. Olivieri fought against the widespread displacement of poor residents during the 1970s and helped teens struggling with drug addiction. Council President Jen Giattino sponsored the resolution with Council Vice President Ruben Ramos. “He was already a legacy, but now he will be recognized for that,” Giattino said.

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“Hoboken has a lot of unsung heroes who don’t get the credit for the contributions they’ve made to our city,” Ramos said. “Tommy is one of those unsung heroes. It’s nice to see an unsung, humble quiet, diligent, hardworking family man get the respect that he deserves. He stands for every hardworking family man who ever lived in Hoboken.” Legion Park, at 1225 Willow Avenue in the neighborhood he called home, will now be Teofilo Olivieri Memorial Park.

A Lifetime of Service Olivieri was born in Puerto Rico in 1939 and immigrated to Hoboken during the 1950s. One of the attractions of Hoboken was the large number of factory jobs. Olivieri was raised in what was known as the “Tootsie Roll Flats” at Willow Avenue and 13th Street. Most of the people who lived there worked for the Sweets Company of America. After living in Brooklyn for a couple of years with his wife Margie, Olivieri moved back to Hoboken in 1964. While hunting for an apartment for his family, which now included two young children, he was exposed to the racism that would forever change his life and push him toward advocacy. “We moved back to Hoboken, and in 1965 it was a big, rude awakening for me when I was looking for an apartment to move in,” he said in the chapbook, When People Get Together and There Were Feasts. “That’s when I really became conscious of the prejudice and became witness to personal incidents of prejudice.” Olivieri called a real estate agent who thought that because his last name was Olivieri, he was Italian. The agent initially said there were no apartments available. Then she suddenly said, “Wait a minute. I’m sorry that I couldn’t say anything before, but I had some Puerto Ricans in the office, and you know how it is.” “That really gave me the chills,” Olivieri recounted in the book. “I still get chills to this day.” Shortly thereafter Olivieri launched his lifetime pursuit of social justice. From 1969 to 1973 he worked for the State Regional Drug Abuse Agency, counseling addicted teens and going to schools to educate the county’s youth. From 1973 to 1975 he counseled drug addicts in the state’s Model Cities program. Olivieri worked in city hall for tenants’ rights in the city’s relocation office from 1975 to 1979, where he helped educate families about their rights and gave them the best options to stay in the city.

From 1979 to 1984, Olivieri worked in the Community Development Agency Housing Rehabilitation Program. From 1985 to April 30, 2001, he was the city’s tenant advocate, informing both tenants and landlords of their rights under Hoboken’s rent control laws, which date back to 1973.

A Long Time Coming It was standing-room only in council chambers when dozens of residents came to support the resolution. “This is so overwhelming, I can hardly put this in words,” said Teofilo Olivieri, Jr. “On behalf of my family, we are really honored for the recognition that my father so deserved. To describe my father I have to use words like humility, caring, selflessness. He always put other people in front of him, and he always wished the best for people.” Olivieri is survived by his wife Margarita and children Vivian Colon, Teofilo Olivieri Jr., Margarita Olivieri, Kristle Olivieri, and eight grandchildren. “No words can describe how grateful and proud we are that the city recognizes all that my grandfather did to help the city and its people, said granddaughter, Isabella Purro. “He was passionate about making sure everyone was treated fairly. It’s something he instilled in my aunts and uncles, and me and my cousins, to always do the right thing.” The park was originally named for the nearby American Legion Post. Commander of American Legion Post 107 John Carey endorsed the renaming of the park. “Tom was a dedicated tenant advocate who fought the good fight against the displacement of the poor residents who had no voice,” he said. “He worked tirelessly for tenant rights. His legacy will live on with the renaming of this park in the neighborhood he loved.”—Marilyn Baer

Tom Photo courtesy of Stephanie Montañez

Photo by Daniel Israel 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20 • 31


Tony (Bullet) Sevano, middle, back row

Fleeting Moments of Fourth and Madison Story and photos by Dennis Sevano


ho would have thought that a tiny New Jersey city, a mile square, could command street names like Madison, Monroe, Jefferson, Washington and Adams, the inspirations for our country’s great experiment? These presidential streets boasted at least one famous resident: Frank Sinatra lived on Monroe. Others were famous in their neighborhoods. There were Biggie’on Madison, Fiore’s on Adams, Lisa’s on Jefferson, and Molloy’s on Washington. 32 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

MEMORY LANE 07030 James Madison, our fourth president (1809-1917) didn’t know much about the Mile Square, which was incorporated in 1855. But many a local luminary lived on the street named in his honor. Take Grandma Ernestine Carbone who voyaged on the SS Madonna out of Naples in 1905 to make her home on Fourth and Madison Streets in the Third Ward. She married Nick Sevano, giving birth to Tony, Jack, Nick, and Mary. They got haircuts at Augie’s, who rented the cold water flat on the first floor at 401 Madison Street. They shopped for clothing at Three Brothers when hand-me-downs couldn’t be had; bought candy at Mish Mish; the best pickles in a barrel at Lucy’s; and slurped malts and milkshakes at Skinny’s Luncheonette.

‘Twinkie’ Tony Tony was the hardworking, blue-collar kid who, during the Depression, left grade school to assist in the delivery of milk for the tiny family business. He and his close friend Gumps Borelli left the area in their late teens to join the Civilian Conservation Corp, a government program whose primary purpose was to put young people to work. Gumps and Tony, now known as Bullet, wound up in Pennsylvania. When he returned, he met Madeline and was drafted into the Army in WWII, serving in the Pacific, where he crossed paths with another Hobokenite, the late Frank Chiocco. After the war, Tony became known as the “Snowball and Twinkie King” when he began a 30-year stint at Hostess, on the Hoboken border. He also pumped gas at the Esso station on Eleventh and Clinton Streets and joined the social club circuit in the 1940s and ‘50s, indulging in some questionable—now legal—gaming activities. While he and his family moved a lot, he thought of downtown Madison Street as his home base.

The Sibs Brother Jack used a wheelchair because he had cerebral palsy, but he still hung out on the corner of Fourth and Madison, managing to avoid attending the local public school. Brother Nick finished Demarest High School as a self-proclaimed aboveaverage basketball player. He went into show business with his Monroe buddy, Frank. Nick rode the crest of Hoboken to Hollywood, managing Glen Campbell, Lindsey Wagner, Jack Jones, Al Martino, Charo, and booking many acts at Las Vegas venues. He eventually moved to Beverly Hills, where he had two close neighbors, Lucille Ball and Jimmy Stewart. Mary married John Dooley and made the best Italian gravy and meatballs. She did most of the cooking when company arrived from all over and took the entire family to Radio City Music Hall for Christmas. Tony said she was the most giving of the clan.

Third Ward … Always Residents of the Third Ward, predominately Italian, looked out for each other in the Little Italy of Hoboken. This included the “C families, the Cappiellos, Cervellis, Capporinos, and many more. Church-goers were split between attending St. Francis and St. Ann’s with a few attending Our Lady of Grace. The Italians had to break through the Dutch, German, and Irish power grid, but intermarriage and political partnerships lessened the tension among emerging ethnic groups. Hoboken has grown and evolved over the years, but you still find signs of its past, especially on Madison and Fourth. Rosina Orefice has lived there since 1920. Many neighborhood folks remember marbles, hop scotch, Johnny on the Pony, and waxed bottle caps. And while James Madison may have been the Father of our Constitution, he missed out on the magnetic force of Madison and Fourth.—07030

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live HOW WE

Henry (left) and David

By Tara Ryazansky Photos by Max Ryazansky

7 Seventy House


avid Seuling and Henry Hecht-Felella might live only a hop, skip and a jump from Manhattan, but the view from their living room is picturesque and wooded. So much so that when they recently posted a photo on social media, a friend asked if they had moved out of the metropolitan area. “There’s no compromises when it comes to being close to the city, but we also get a lot of foliage,” Henry says, indicating the lingering fall colors. “It’s like our own little mini Central Park.” The 14 windows in their open concept living space face the ridge of Jersey City Heights, a view the couple has been enjoying since they moved in three months ago. They were among the first tenants at 7 Seventy House, on the west side of Hoboken. The pair enjoyed exploring the amenities in a mostly empty building. “When we first moved in, it was still hot out so we were going on the roof all by ourselves,” David says. “It was like a private pool.” 34 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

That part of the building boasts a grilling area and a very different view: the New York City skyline. “Now it’s becoming a lot more populated and very fun.” “You can already tell that a community is forming,” Henry says. “We have a shuttle that takes us from the building to the PATH in the morning. That’s been kind of like a meeting ground for us to meet our new neighbors. Every week we see some new face, so that’s been really exciting.” Because of the shuttle, his commute into the city takes only 25 to 30 minutes. “There’s an app that allows us to post messages like a bulletin board, so we posted last week to see if anyone wants to have a game night, and we had a handful of responses. We’re looking forward to having everybody over.” If the group gets too big to host at the apartment, a club room can be reserved for parties. There’s also a game room with foosball and other entertainment. But they like hosting at home. Prior to moving in together, they lived with their parents. David is from Long Island; Henry is a Hoboken local.

They love having their own kitchen. A long stretch of counter offers lots of room for their appliances, and there’s more cabinet space than they need. “There are only a few units that look like this,” Henry says. “Just this side of the building has this kitchen layout.” “I wanted a big open space,” says David, who does the cooking. “Now that we have our own space, we can be a little bit more creative with what we cook. We made tuna tartar last week.” The kitchen spills into the dining area, which flows into the living room with its cozy sectional. The apartment has a fun, social atmosphere, much like the couple who lives there. “It’s midcentury modern,” David says. “More modern than midcentury. We wanted it to have a light and airy feel.” They’re still decorating the bedroom, which features windows overlooking the Heights. There’s a walk-in closet, too. The place is spotless. “There’s something about walking on the floor that only you have been on,” Henry says. Another amenity at 7 Seventy House is a weekly visit from Hello Alfred cleaning service that’s factored into their rent. The service cleans and puts away the couple’s grocery delivery. “When we were looking at apartments, we just assumed we would have to make a tradeoff,” David says. “Maybe we would have nice amenities and a smaller space, but this building is incredible.” “One of my requirements was having a gym in the building,” Henry says. “It’s really a beautiful gym. There’s a cardio room, a weightlifting room. The fact that you have all of these nice amenities is really a game changer.” “It’s a two-story gym with Peloton bikes,” David says. “It has an Equinox feel, but it’s right in our home. It’s incredible to have access to all of these amenities, plus you can’t beat the location. Getting across the river is really easy.”—07030 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20 • 35

B U S I N E S S M a k es H O B O K E N W O R K Interviews by Pat Bonner

Director of Orthopedic Surgery, Edward Feliciano, MD.

THE ORTHOPEDIC HEALTH CENTER 720 Monroe Street Suite C209 (201) 561-7091 orthohc.com

Photo by Victor M. Rodriguez


he Orthopedic Health Center has opened a new office at the Monroe Center at 720 Monroe Street, Suite C209, bringing innovative surgical care to the Hudson County com36 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

munity. The office is open five days a week and accepts most insurance plans. Among the surgeons staffing the office is Director of Orthopedic Surgery, Edward Feliciano, MD. Doctor Feliciano was born in Patterson to parents who settled there from Puerto Rico. He spoke Spanish growing up and retains his fluency, so he can help Hispanic patients. He attended Yale University and Cornell Medical School. He did his internship at Emory University, and after completing his internship he joined the United States Navy. He served

three years active duty with the Navy. He has sea time, spending six months on the aircraft carrier USS George Washington as a flight surgeon. The Orthopedic Health Center provides the full spectrum of orthopedic care, specializing in a comprehensive range of surgical orthopedic options, including minimally invasive orthopedic joint and spine surgeries, sports medicine, and shoulder and knee arthroscopy and pediatric orthopedics. However, surgery is never the first option at the Orthopedic Health Center. The center favors a conservative approach. Its philosophy is to exhaust nonsurgical options, with treatments such as physical therapy, pain management, oral medication, home exercise, and injections before moving on to surgery. The center tailors its treatment to each individual patient. The doctors at the center will recommend surgery only when the injury affects the patient’s ability to do what he or she wants or needs to do. The center prioritizes the doctorpatient relationship, allows extra time for appointments, and direct access to its doctors. Cell therapy has evolved rapidly, and treatment at the center has evolved with it. Doctors at the center have continued their training. When surgery is needed, they use the most modern techniques to minimize recovery time with the least invasive procedure. One such procedure, called the MACI procedure, is used by Doctor Feliciano to potentially avoid or delay the need for a total knee replacement in many individuals. Over time, the cartilage in the knee is worn away. Feliciano can extract cartilage cells from the knee to allow cell growth and regeneration in a lab, and then transplant the cartilage back into the patient’s knee where it bonds with existing cartilage. Since the tissue comes from the patient’s own cells, there is less risk of rejection or improper bonding. This results in a quicker recovery time. Feliciano specializes in arthroscopic shoulder separation stabilizations, arthroscopic rotator cuff repairs, and knee arthroscopies. Arthroscopic or keyhole surgery is a minimally invasive surgery where the surgeon inserts a very small camera called an arthroscope into the joint to see the problem, and if needed makes small incisions to repair it. The surgery is usually done on an outpatient basis without the need for an overnight hospital stay. The Orthopedic Health Center is ready to help the people of Hoboken and neighboring towns. It’s no longer necessary to go to New York City or elsewhere for topflight care. Topnotch orthopedic specialists are within walking distance. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Imagine repairing a knee or a hip and walking without pain!—07030

(L-R) Nick Burke, Paul Fried, and Peter Axtens

Paragon Painters

230 Madison St. Suite B (201) 492-5555 paragonpainters.com Photo by Daniel Israel


aul Fried saw a need for reliable painters in Hoboken. Recently, he hired painters to paint his apartment at 230 Madison, and the job dragged on. He realized that most painters take on more work than they can handle. They take some money, start the job, and then move on to a second or third job before the first one is done. “What should take two painters, two days, ends up taking weeks,” he said. They start returning a few hours a day, and it seems to take forever to get your apartment painted. Paul started Paragon Painters in May, with his two partners, Nicky Burke, a Hoboken police officer, and Peter Axtens, to respond to that need with a novel offer. Paragon guarantees completion of the job within the time it estimated, or it will put you up at the W Hotel in Hoboken until the job is done. The guarantee does not apply to delays caused by the homeowner or fires, floods, and others acts of God. It ensures that Paragon painters will do what they said when they agreed to the job. So far, Paragon has completed all its jobs on time and has not had to put up anyone at the hotel. The company is able to do this because it staffs the jobs properly. They promise to work full days and not leave your apartment for some other job. They realize that painting an apartment is “invasive,” and they do their best to make this invasion as short as possible.

In addition to finishing on time, Paragon uses non-VOC paints. These paints do not contain volatile organic compounds and are much better for the environment. They also do not smell as much. There is still the freshpaint smell, but there are minimal harmful vapors. This particularly benefits babies or pets as well as the Paragon painters, who are fully insured, bonded, and licensed. Paragon stresses transparency and includes labor, materials, and preparation work in its quotes. Based on its experience it can offer reasonable price ranges for standard units, with a studio/one bedroom one bath, up to 800 square feet for $1500-$1,800; a 2 bedroom, 2 bath up to 1200 square feet for $2100-$2,500; and a 3 bedroom, 2 baths up to 1500 square feet for $2700-$3,100. The company is connected to “Maid in Hoboken” and includes a complementary home cleaning when they paint an entire apartment. Landlords are also attracted to Paragon’s guarantee of completing on time. Paragon offers to paint an entire apartment in one day, thus minimizing the time an apartment remains unrented. Paragon works throughout Hudson County. It’s not operating via voicemail from a basement in North Jersey. It has a store at 320 Madison Street. Paragon plans to stay in Hoboken and wants satisfied customers. Paul Fried lives “above the store” and asks passersby to drop in and discuss their needs with him when they are walking by. Paragon is happy to give quotes, and if it cannot meet its time estimate, start enjoying your stay at that luxury hotel.—07030

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The Little Engine

T h at C o u l d J.R. Lynch defies the odds ue

Story and pictures by Jim Hag


he incredible journey this basketball player took from Hoboken to Argentina may be too marvelous for words. But here goes. The naysayers began to doubt Jon a Rodney Lynch from the time he was toddler. “I started playing basketball when I n was five years old,” said Lynch, know my with play go to ted wan “I J.R. as brother [Eddie Gonzalez]. I always had a basketball in my hands, and I was But dribbling the ball everywhere I went. use beca play the other kids said I couldn’t I was too small.” Lynch’s love of the game came from watching his older brother. “I would see my brother [a former , and Hoboken High School standout] play h Lync me,” in g ethin som red spur that said. “Just watching him and how good he was really got me going. I thought maybe I could be as good as him.” 38 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

Lynch’s Playing basketball was in nzalez, was a Go di Ed r, genes. His mothe en High in the basketball player at Hobok a phenomenal s 1980s. His sister Sybil wa ketball bas r, cce three-sport athlete (so g nin ear en, bok Ho at and softball) Athlete of ale Fem r rte po Re n Hudso before earning a the Year honors in 2012 College. nor Ma e Pin scholarship to and I watched s, ling sib l tota five “I have played “I d. them all play,” Lynch sai eer move car my de ma every sport, but I d to do.” nte wa I at wh g win early on, kno

Good Things …

allest kid Lynch was always the sm Park in eet Str rth on the block at Fou Hoboken. s who were “I played with a lot of guy said. “So ch Lyn ,” much bigger than me h a lot of wit yed pla and re I went out the passion and emotion.” caught the When Lynch was nine, he ched a team coa o wh do, eye of Luis Delga CYO program in the famed St. Michael’s in Union City. actful on my “Coach Lou was so imp a role model to s wa e “H d. sai life,” Lynch me. He believed in me.” really thought “When I first met him, I said. do lga De ” all, he was too sm

“I was coaching a fifth grade AAU team, and I was actually thinking of cutting him. I remember sitting down and having a conversation with him, and his personality blew me away. I liked the way he interacted with the other kids. They looked at him as a leader even if he was only nine years old. I remember ending up driving J.R. home that night, and I told him he made the team. He was mature so much beyond his years.” When Lynch was 11, Eddi Gonzalez, Lynch’s mother, asked Delgado for a big favor. “She wanted to see if I could be his godfather,” Delgado said. “It’s a role I took seriously.” “That meant more to me than anything,” Lynch said. It helped that Delgado had a son, Jonathan, who was four years younger than Lynch. “J.R. was like Jonathan’s big brother,” Delgado said. “Jonathan looked up to J.R., but I think J.R. really needed Jonathan. I think their relationship made it easier for me.” “There was one game where Coach Lou took him out of the game,” Lynch recalled. “And he was crying and sitting on the end of the bench. I went over to

SPORTS 07030

him, talked to him, and he went back into the game and ended up winning the game. I always played the role of bein g the big brother. As he got older, we talke d about that a lot. I made sure to keep him in the position to have some success.”

Against the Odds It didn’t take long for Delgado to see what kind of a basketball talent Lync h had. “J.R. was the hardest worker by far,” Delgado said. “He was only 5-foot-2 and didn’t think he would be a basketball player, but he was as tough as nails. I told him that I didn’t think he’d be a basketball player, but he proved me wrong.” Lynch’s parents, John Lynch and Gonzalez, played a huge part in Lync h’s development.

Lynch said. “My parents were strict,” hang out in to me w allo “They wouldn’t have time with the streets. I really didn’t sn’t allowed to all I was doing. But I wa an in high shm fre go out until I was a out was ting get of y wa school. My them all. I played playing sports. I played ankle and that my football until I broke soccer.” and ll eba bas was it. I played ng piece Eddi Gonzalez had a stro of her five st of advice for the younge children. my Mom told “There’s only one thing me to play me,” Lynch said. “She told rt, I should spo a k pic every sport, but I n a very bee e hav ld cou I stick with it.

stuck with it. I good baseball player if I chose basketball.” eer playing After his grade school car CYO, Lynch el’s cha Mi St. at for Delgado gional High Re attended Hudson Catholic School. head Veteran Hudson Catholic iello recalls rin Ma k Nic ch coa l basketbal ch. the first time he saw Lyn -3, 120-pound “He came in as this 5-foot d. “The one freshman,” Mariniello sai was how hard me thing that stuck out for ly one of bab pro e am he worked. He bec kids we ven dri and ng rki wo the hardest ever had.”

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Height of Confidence

Lynch was determined to never let his diminutive stature get in his way. “I never looked at it that I was the smallest guy,” Lynch said. “Once I stepped onto the basketball court, I felt like I was the best player there. That had may sound cocky and arrogant, but I ys to have a little bit of swagger. I alwa wanted to make everyone else on my t was team a better player. All I cared abou .” goal my was That ing. winn Lynch played freshman basketball, then moved to the junior varsity as a sophomore. “The best thing about J.R. was that he could control our locker room without could even playing,” Mariniello said. “He et. bask a ing control the team without scor ” hed. coac ever I He’s the best leader “The first time I heard from someone n saying I was too small, I said, ‘Was Alla ?’ mas Tho h Isaia Iverson too small? Was I figured if they could do it, then why can’t I?” From his junior to senior year at Hudson Catholic, he showed marked improvement. a “I wanted to see if I had a shot to get ip,” larsh scho I] (NCAA) D-I [Division was Lynch said. “I heard one coach say I e too small and that I was nothing mor to than a long shot. My intentions were g goin was I and or, seni a as play varsity .” there get to s take it r teve wha do to 40 • 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20

Stats Don’t Lie Lynch averaged more than 17 points and seven assists per game for the Hudson County Tournament champion Hawks, earning Hudson Reporter AllArea honors and All-Parochial and AllHudson County from other newspapers. However, no school offered Lynch a scholarship. “It was very frustrating and deflating to me,” Lynch said. “I was in the gym every day getting better.” Lynch went to a postgraduate prep school, St. Andrew’s in Darrington, R.I., a steppingstone for such stars as Michael Carter-Williams (Syracuse University and later the NBA Rookie of the Year with the Philadelphia 76ers), and Terrell Brown (University of Pittsburgh). From there, Lynch went to the University of Hartford, a D-I school, on a scholarship. Lynch became the first player in Hartford history to record 1,000 points, 350 assists, and 150 steals. He was First Team All-America East Conference in 2019, was third in the nation in minutes played, and was a three-time member of the America East All-Academic team.

I went from being a non-Division I player to one of the best players in the history of the University of Hartford,” Lynch said.

But there’s More “I always wanted to be a pro,” Lynch said. “When I was eight years old, I wanted to play pro basketball.” After graduating from Hartford, Lynch was introduced to former Temple point guard Pepe Sanchez, who was involved with several pro teams in Argentina. “I got signed by the Bahia Baskets [also known as Bahia Blanca] in central Argentina,” Lynch said. So just a few days after returning to Hoboken, Lynch was jetting off to Buenos Aires. “It’s wild how it all happened,” Lynch said. “I’ll be there for 10 months. I’ll be fine. I’ll learn how to survive.” Lynch scored 10 points in his first game with the Baskets, but then exploded for 28 in the second. “I’m excited to have this opportunity to continue to play,” Lynch said. “I still can’t believe it. I’m living a dream.” The little kid whom everyone doubted is now a professional basketball player. It’s no dream.—07030


Signs of Hoboken Photos by Victor M. Rodriguez 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20 • 41

By Tara Ryazansky Photos by Max Ryazansky


he multi-story windows at Gravity Vault give passersby a peak at what’s going at the Clinton and 14th Street climbing gym. Shift Leader Bryan Ko says that it isn’t uncommon for people to walk in off the street when the tall walls covered with colorful climbing holds catch their attention. They see climbers looking like Spiderman and want to give it a try. When that happens, Ko is there to show them the ropes. Ko has been an avid climber since 2007. He discovered the sport in college when he was studying at the University of Pennsylvania. “They had a gym with a small climbing wall,” he relates. “A friend and I decided to just try it out one day, and then next thing I knew I had shoes, rope, harness, and I was going on outdoor trips and stuff. It just kind of snowballed.” He spends a good part of his work day outfitting newbie climbers with rented harnesses and gear. “For a lot of newer climbers the most popular option is a staff belay session,” Ko says. This means that he will handle the ropes for climbers so that they can concentrate on the climbing for an hour. “When you walk in, it can be pretty intimidating. You have these 40-foot walls and all of this rope and all of this equipment. It helps us to ease new climbers into the sport.” He’s also there to give instruction when needed “We give them some basic guidance and pointers on how climbing works, some technique and things like that,” Ko says. He helps calm anxious first-timers. “I tell them to take it one hold at a time. You look at this wall with all of these plastic holds coming off it, and it is very easy to get intimidated. If you just break it down to one movement, one foot placement, one hand placement at a time, pretty much any new climber who could come in could summit at least one of the routes that we have.” Kicked Upstairs


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Ko often starts new climbers on the shorter walls upstairs before having them attempt the larger ones downstairs. The gym boasts 25,000 square feet of climbing surface, so there’s plenty to choose from. Gravity Vault often changes the placement of the plastic climbing holds so that experienced climbers find new challenges and never get bored. Ko says it’s unusual to find a climbing gym of this size in an urban area. “I think most gyms, especially with this height, you’re probably going to find in a more suburban area. It still blows my mind that they found this kind of space in Hoboken. I’ve climbed in a lot of gyms, but this is definitely a unique space.”

ON THE JOB WITH 07030 Gravity Vault offers staff belay sessions for kids as young as 5. In fact, the place is a popular birthday party venue for children. “Sometimes kids just try it out at a birthday party and then they’re like, ‘Oh I really like this,’ and they get involved in our kids programs,” Ko says. Gravity Vault has classes and camps for children, as well as teams where kids can climb individually or as a team in competitions governed by USA Climbing. Ko works as a kids’ instructor for Gravity Vault’s team and Hoboken Public School. “It’s kind of a mental and physical puzzle. It’s very cerebral,” Ko says. “They see these colored holds, and they envision how to get from point A to point B to point C. Then there’s executing it and having the strength and the agility. You have to have the physical strength to connect all of the pieces together.” “Another really important part is the community aspect,” he adds. “It’s a really supportive community. It’s not like, ‘I can climb much better than you can.’ Everyone is kind of on their own personal journey, and everyone kind of supports each other on their own skill level. It’s also a great physical workout. It keeps kids active.” Trust Exercise

Today Ko grabs rental shoes and a harness for a client and explains how to put them on. The climber steps into the harness and tightens the leg straps. Ko selects a route for the climber. Each climbing zone has a rope that is looped through at the top. Ko ties a figureeight knot with one end of the rope through the loops on the climber’s harness. The other end of the rope is connected to a belay device attached to the harness that Ko wears. The climber ascends the wall. As the climber goes up, Ko tightens his end of the rope. That way, if climbers fumble, they won’t fall. When the climb is complete, Ko yells up to be sure that the climber is ready to come down. “The advice that we kind of joke about, but it is good advice is, don’t look down. When you’re very focused on your immediate surroundings move by move, you don’t really notice how far off the ground you are,” Ko says. For some, the height doesn’t psych them out until they’ve made it to the top, which is when it’s time to come back down. “For new climbers, that’s the hardest part, to get back down to the ground, you have to let go and trust the rope. That’s when people freeze. Trust that the rope is going to have you, and the belayer is going to have you.” Ko gently lowers the climber, now safely on the ground and ready for the next adventure.—07030 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20 • 43

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By Tara Ryazansky

In the moment

Photos courtesy of Morgan McCue


organ McCue’s Instagram account @morganmccue artist is mesmerizing. This Hoboken artist posts hyperlapse videos taken overhead while she paints with watercolors. In the span of only a few seconds her followers can watch a blank piece of paper become a beautiful work of art. There’s something about the way that the paint swirls together and melts into the paper as the image takes form that’s impossible to scroll past. Despite making such quality content, McCue doesn’t do it for the Gram. “I don’t really like social media,” she says. In fact, she avoids it when she can. “It’s important to have secret work that’s not going to be seen by anybody else. It’s important in general,

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like go on a hike without your phone. Be in the moment.” But she knows that social media can be a necessary evil for the small business owner. “It’s a hard thing to do. It’s tough because the only way to keep your business afloat and get clients is that engagement from viewers.” McCue creates custom portraits, wedding invites, maps and nursery décor. Pet portraits, known as pawtraits, are especially popular. Currently, they make up the bulk of her work. “It’s part of the millennial trend of being really into your pet,” she says. “Hoboken people are crazy about their dogs.” McCue brings a realistic style to her custom work. She says, “I think pet portraits can be really hokey, and some of those are hilarious, but there’s a way to make it a piece of art in its own right. That’s what I strive to do.”

THE ARTS 07030

As a mother, Morgan McCue

paints when she can.

Lone Star to Mile Square McCue grew up in a family of artists in Dallas. Now she creates her work in her Hoboken apartment on a custom easel built by her artist uncle. “It folds out of the wall,” McCue says, “I was lucky to be raised in a very creative environment.” She found her way to New Jersey when she attended college at Drew University with a double major in art and German. After college, she didn’t use her artistic training right away. Instead she worked in various other fields. “I didn’t have a vision,” she says, explaining that she felt she needed a great big reason to practice fine art. “I just knew that I could make pretty things, and I liked doing it.” She was familiar with Hoboken because she had an aunt who lived here whom she visited growing up. “I always loved the accessibility to the city without being in the city,” she says. She’s been here for 15 years.

The Mother Underground It was after having a baby a few years ago that she reconnected with art and started her business, Little Sister Studios, which is named for a Stevie Ray Vaughan song.

“Motherhood is a huge milestone that changes your perspective on everything,” McCue says. This is her perspective on art now: “There aren’t any rules. Art is something that you create. Some people are driven to create art because they have something to say, but it doesn’t have to be that. You can do whatever you want with it.” Now, as a work-from-home mom, she paints when she can. “All I have is nap time,” she says. “As a mother you don’t have time, so you have to make strategic, efficient decisions,” McCue says. She says that motherhood has helped her art in one unexpected way. “There is a community of artists here in Hoboken, but the community that I find to be the most outstanding and supportive is the mom community,” McCue says. “It’s really remarkable how supportive these moms have been to spread the word about my work and involve me in projects.” She laughs, “This whole town is run by babies and dogs.” McCue was at the City Hall Craft Fair with Ho Ho Hoboken holiday cards and gift tags as well as baby blankets. She takes custom orders with a discount. She says the gift of a custom portrait can last a lifetime. “This is something that’s completely unique and will be cherished forever.”—07030

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rospide, Dan So (L-R) Andrew Ar o and Dan London

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By Tara Ryazansky Photos by Max Ryazansky


lfalfa is a bright and airy cafe known for its farm fresh salads. It’s on Washington Street in what was once Schnackenberg’s Luncheonette. At first glance, it’s easy to think that the legendary luncheonette has made way for hipster health food, but Alfalfa retains some Hoboken history and offers a cozy, cafe experience complete with comfort food. The owners are lifelong residents. Dan Sobsey, Andrew Arrospide, and Dan Londono have been friends since their school days. “Dan and I went to school together at All Saints in Hoboken in second grade, and then we went to the Hudson School together, and then we went to Saint Peter’s Prep in Jersey City together, and that’s where we met Dan Londono,” Arrospide relates. The trio spent time at Schnackenberg’s when they were kids. “It’s kind of surreal to be here having been here maybe 15 years ago as kids,” says Sobsey, who is a member of the well-known Sobsey Produce family. He points out original details like checkerboard tile and a giant arched mirror. The old is mixed with new millennial pink modern décor, including a neon logo and lush plants courtesy of the design team at Studio Of. They also kept the antique Coco-Cola sign out front. “People are excited to come here

and see that there’s some preservation of what was here before,” Sobsey says. The menu includes The Schnackie, a tribute in the form of a marscapone donut. But the journey to opening this March and offering donuts was a long one.

The Three Amigos

Sobsey and Londono, who at the time worked in finance and management consulting, ran into each other in Midtown Manhattan during lunch. They were discussing the lack of healthy food options in uptown Hoboken. Sobsey and Arrospide had been talking about it as well. “We ended up teaming up together,” Sobsey says. The three started with a tent at the farmers market in May 2018. “At first it was just salads. That was the original thesis,” Londono says. “The question was, was this food that people would like around here? The answer was a resounding yes.” “Week after week we would sell out, so we were always increasing our quantities,” Arrospide says. Customers weren’t the only ones taking notice. Eugene Flinn, former owner of Schnackenberg’s, had a stand across from Alfalfa at the market. 07030 HOBOKEN | WINTER 2019 | 20 • 47

EATERY 07030

“He saw that we always had a consistent line, and he watched us working hard every weekend,” Sobsey says. While Schnackenbergs was still open we were given an opportunity to run a popup there,” Londono says “We would convert the space every night.” Sobsey says that at 5 p.m. when the luncheonette closed, they’d set up a space for Alfalfa. “We created a salad bar every day for two months. It taught us a lot.” Then Flinn approached the guys about taking over the space permanently. “He’s been a great mentor and really encouraging,” Sobsey says. “We went from cutting our own vegetables and selling salads to having a proper space,” Londono says.

Salad Days

“Most places where you go to get a salad have very conventional ingredients like cucumber, tomato, and onion,” Sobsey says. “One of our bestsellers is the West Coast salad, which incorporates Medjool dates, strawberries, goat cheese, and avocado. I think that’s a combination that you really don’t see in your day-to-day lunch spot.” The salad balances fresh, sweet, and creamy flavors. “We try to make the perfect salad,” Londono says. “There are a lot of things out there that we don’t like about salad, like when they cut the leaf at the wrong dimension. We really tried to sit down and think, ‘what does the perfect salad look like?’” The final product includes an addictive balsamic dressing that perfectly coats each bite-sized leaf.

Lunch to Lattes

The West Coast salad was inspired by Arrospide’s time living in L.A. This, along with the hopes of being an all-day destination, also inspired Alfalfa’s breakfast burritos, which include chorizo and a vegetarian option. The cafe offers coffee by Intelligentsia and drinks ranging from oat milk matcha lattes to turmeric lemonade. The newest menu options are sweet treats. “We’re in the middle of our Goodies by Alfalfa launch,” Arrospide says. Try the Amber Maple donut topped with Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal. It pairs perfectly with a classic latte. Sobsey steams milk to top off an organic espresso shot. “Intelligentsia is very much about sustainable practices like sourcing through micro farmers,” he says. “It’s an up and coming, very forward thinking brand. Coffee brings people together.” Alfalfa is the perfect place to enjoy coffee or a meal and stay awhile. Arrospide says that they aim to appeal to patrons of all ages. This included making space for strollers and adding funtiered seating in back that encourages children to explore. “The first time we saw a mom reading to her kids on the bleachers it was really nice to see,” he says. “This whole area was maybe ten little booths when we were kids, and we would just sit in the back and eat burgers.”—07030 Alfalfa 1110 Washington St. (201) 790-0491 eatalfalfa.com

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DATES 07030 from page 28




New Works by Meredith Turshen, Hoboken Historical Museum, 2-5 p.m. This art opening will be held in the Upper gallery.

FEBRUARY The Hoboken High School Theatre Company presents “The Wolves” by Sarah DeLappe. Performances are February 7 at 7 p.m., February 8 at 2 and 7 p.m., and February 9 at 2 p.m. Hoboken High School, 800 Clinton Street. Tickets are $5-10. hhsnj.booktix.com for tickets.

LIBRARY EVENTS Mar Salá Sunday Afternoon Concert on Sunday, January 12 at 1 pm The Library’s Sunday Afternoon Concert Series presents Mar Salá (Marta Hernández), an International singer songwriter from Seville, Spain (now based in Brooklyn. Her original compositions mix Flamenco infused rhythms with Spanish Pop and Latin Sounds. She will be performing with Jan Kus (sax), Fernando (percussion) and gabriel Vivar (bass). (Snow date: January 19.)

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Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of Frankenstein on Monday, January 27 at 10 am The Cultural Club welcomes Dina gerasia, a professional museum educator, as she discussed the recent 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein—a classic of world literature and a masterpiece of horror. grand Street Story Time. Fridays at 11 am & 12 pm Join us at our grand Street Branch — at 124 grand Street — for a grand Story Time. All ages. No registration required. Cooks and Books* on Friday, January 31 at 3:15 Budding top chefs learn easy food preparation with Dietitian Elisabeth Holtzer from Hoboken ShopRite. Ages 4+. Block Party on Thursdays at 3:30 pm. Do you love Lego bricks? Come build with us every Thursday afternoon, from 3:30 to 4:30. For children ages 4 and up. Sci-Fi Book Discussion & Movie Semiosis, by Sue Burke Monday, January 27 at 6 pm Human survival hinges on a bizarre alliance in Semiosis a character-driven science fiction novel of first contact. Sci-Fi Movie Monday, January 27 at 4 pm. Everyone is welcome to join us for the showing of a classic Science Fiction Film, Starman.

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DATES 07030 from page 49 Art with Liz: Wednesday. Mornings and Afternoons Every Wednesday. Mornings: 10 am – 12 pm, and Afternoons 1 pm – 3 pm Art teacher Liz Ndoye’s Art Series at HPL in January focuses on making your own doll, but this time with clay. She will also give you a brief history of what each medium of dolls means. The work of sculptor Simone Leigh will be observed to inspire your creations. Coffee & Canvas Saturday, January 25 at 1 pm. Have you enjoyed 2019’s Sip & Paint workshops? Come continue the New Year with beautiful art pieces on canvas you get to take home. While you’re at it, enjoy some tea and coffee. Introduction to Small Tapestry Weaving Class with ARThuy Thursday, January 16 at 7 pm. Join Thuy for a 90-minute class on an Introduction to Small Tapestry Weaving. Learn step by step instructions on how you an make your own woven tapestry. For all skill levels. Spaces are limited, come early to secure your spot! All supplies included. Bilingual Birdies: Speakin’ French* Monday, January 13 at 10:30 am. Learn French at the library through live music, movement, dance, puppetry, and theater-based games. Ages 1 - 5. Registration opens January 2 at 10:30 am.


TOYBRARY Mondays 3 pm – 6 pm: January 13 & 27, Tuesdays 10:30 am – 2 pm: January 14, 21 & 28 Wednesdays 10:30 am – 12 pm: January 15, 22 & 29 Thursdays 10:30 am – 12 pm: January 16, 23 & 30. Enjoy a fun free play with all the great toys in the TOYBRARY! Located in the lower level of the Library’s Annex at 256 Fifth Street. Saturday, January 11 at 11:30 am. The Lizard Guys are a New Jersey based educational entertainment group that provides live animal presentations with lizards, snakes, turtles, frogs and various bugs. A typical presentation showcases about five “starring guests.” This program is open to ALL AGES! Everyone loves animals, why should children have all the fun? Grand Street Play Group Wednesdays 1 pm – 3 pm: January 15, 22 & 29. Come to the Grand Street location at 124 Grand Street for an open play. All ages. No sign up required.

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*Registered Events. Sign up for January’s registered program begins 10:30 am Wednesday, January 2. For Children’s events, only children need to be registered, not accompanying caregivers. To register, please use the calendar at HobokenLibrary. org, or call 201.420.2346 x 5103, or register in person at the Library.

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