The End of 215 Chicago, and other Indiscriminate Deliberations

If you took the house that was located at 215 Chicago Blvd in Sea Girt, threw it in on a flatbed truck and delivered it to somewhere in Kansas, it might, might, be worth as much as it is to rent a three-bedroom condo in Hoboken for a year.

215 was old. It looked more beat up than the crowd at The Columns, had no real charm inside, and was the lone element of semi-white-trash on a block full of beautiful summer homes. Sure, the lot was big and the backyard generous enough to fit 400 people comfortably, but this four-bedroom house itself hadn’t had a lick of upgrades since it was built back in the mid-sixties.

Except by me, a four-year renter, of course.

Outdoor shower added.

New hot water heater that could handle 25 showers a night.

Little things like TVs, beds, indoor and outdoor furniture, lights, and utensils.

College pennants of every member’s undergrad school to cover walls in desperate need of a paint job.

And then faster than you can say Exit 98, it was gone.

Demolished, actually.

After being sold for a cool $1.6 million, of course…

And that’s the way it works down at the Jersey Shore and particularly in towns like Sea Girt these days. Buy a home strictly for the land, bulldoze it to the ground, and rebuild something a little more 21st Century-looking on it. One home just down the block from 215 Chicago went through this exact process: It sold three years ago for $1.45 mil, was rebuilt for an additional million, and was sold for $3.2 million.

Not a bad 1/2 mil profit after taxes if you can afford it upfront.

So what is now known as the old 215 Chicago will be remembered as the old Yankee Stadium of the summer scene. Hobokenites who rent down at the shore, and there are many of you, will say that the days of parties right out of Weird Science and Sixteen Candles have almost vanished. There are simply less rentals, less tolerance by law enforcement, and most importantly, less people willing to take a chance on getting a $750.00 noise violation.

But 215 was one of the very few places where the lost art of mass gatherings still occurred. It was unique in that the soccer-stadium backyard was completely hidden from view from the street. The police still knew exactly what was transpiring there every July 4th Weekend (SundressFest). But as long as the leasee had everyone out by 10 PM (not a hard proposition with Parker House two blocks away), there wasn’t anything they could legally do outside of giving a few open container tickets to individuals desperate enough to hang onto a warm cup of keg beer for the three-minute walk to PH.


In total, 215 Chicago hosted five major parties in its day: Sundressfests I-IV, and White Party I (clothes, not race, although both seemed to apply). There were also intra-house Olympics, a Budweiser Beirut Bonanza, and even slip-and-slide contests (Note: a 1-inch piece of plastic was not made for sober adults to use).  All told, these parties had 70 kegs, 120 large bottles of Grey Goose, and about 60 bottles of Captain Morgan, among other spirits. Sundressfest alone hosted three 16-team Beirut tournament and 40 Flip Cup Teams (where all-female squads won 3 of 4 years).

It also holds the dubious distinction of earning four noise violations over a four-year period (ironically, all during non-party situations…but that’s what happens when you have 16-22 people in the block’s lone rental on a given weekend).

And then there was Abu Ghraib, which was our nefarious nickname for the large, albeit somewhat-unfinished basement that turned into a six-bedroom brothel for the ages. Thanks to 24 room dividers usually found in alcove studio apartments, we were able to create six bedrooms (one female tenant called them AbuCabanas) featuring queen beds and all the relative privacy and complete darkness any shore house member you could ask for.

Abu has more stories than this space, or most full-length novels, allow. Let’s just say that it earned its nickname as a place that, as Colonel Jessup once said, “…you don’t want to talk about parties.” Amazingly, not one photo was ever taken down there of the hundreds taken in and outside the house over four summers. And maybe that’s a good thing…

But Abu and 215 were not just places for fun and frivolty. Four couples in four years, guys and girls who hadn’t even met until entering the beach house, were married off. And at least three more will be engaged soon. That’s a total of 14 people who met their future spouses in the kind of environment that doesn’t exactly scream commitment. Either way, it thereby guarantees my place in heaven for bringing these folks eternal happiness (no divorces yet, anyway), or at the very least, purgatory.

Although far fetched given the sticker price, 215 Chicago was something I had hoped to buy someday. It’s owner, now deceased, had said weeks before he died that I was the only person to ever actually care about its well-being. I secretly hoped this would result in some kind of Willy Wonka ending where the chocolate factory/house is bequeathed to me from the old man, but his spoiled kids got it (along with seven other houses he owned down there) in the end.

215…Thanks for the memories. You will be sorely missed.

For those of you who think Steelers-Cardinals is a horrendous matchup for Super Bowl 43, just think of it this way:

It very easily could have been Eagles-Ravens.

Which is like Phillies-Rays in the World Series, but with Joe Flacco pitching all seven games.

After a string of warm winters with balmy highs in the 40s, Hoboken finally has that nightmare winter we were due for.

And we’re barely a month into the season.
Looks like Dawn Zimmer will be officially announcing her candidacy for Mayor on February 5th. And while she seems genuine enough with good intentions, someone needs to get in her ear and explain that she won’t be running against the Blagojevich of Hoboken politics, Chris Campos, this time around.

Memo to new Hoboken blogger Deb Steinberg: Having a GED doesn’t equal having a journalism degree (just ask your mentor Perry Klaussen). And it shows. So if looking for something else to do, perhaps starting a movement called 30 Really is the New 40 is the way to go…at least if that photo is any indication.

So if I understand President Obama correctly, he’s closing Gitmo but doesn’t have a plan yet where he’s going to hold all those pesky terrorists who are being so unfairly treated there?

Hasn’t he had a little time to think about an exit strategy?

Only in America could we actually have a segment of the population who is sensitive about the way we handle those who want nothing more but to kill us.

Meanwhile, three Gitmo prisoners who were released last year are back fighting for Al Qaeda, making more videos than Kayne and issuing the usual threats from Yemen to Afghanistan.

I feel safer already.

But if we are to believe MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who just turned 50-years-old and now is the proud owner of a 50-inch waistline, and his most recent hypothesis, an innocent, amiable humanitarian and furniture salesman may have been motivated to become an al-Qaeda leader because he was falsely imprisoned at Gitmo, courtesy of the eeeeevil Bush administration, who “created [his] reason for hating us.”

Insert joke here.

Speaking of deranged, and not that he’s even relevant in the sports world anymore, but for Mike Lupica to say that the Mets or Yankees should avoid signing Manny Ramirez because he hasn’t been any kind of a difference-maker for any of his prior teams shows why the mental midget hasn’t had a good column since Andy Stankowitz was playing in the Bronx. All Manny has done is capture two World Titles, a World Series MVP and put on display the most impressive August-September-October performance in the history of baseball last year for the Dodgers. When all is said and done, he’ll be known as the greatest right-handed hitter ever, and there’s still plenty left in the tank.

But naaah. He sucks.

Is there any reason why in every movie and television show ever made that when someone picks up a phone and nobody is on the other end, that they keep saying “Hello” or “Is anyone there” repeatedly? This fictional process can go on for 8-40 seconds in some cases.

Just wondering.

Super Bowl final:

Steelers 31

Cardinals 21



If you’re thinking of watching the game at Texas-Arizona, plan on getting there, like, Saturday afternoon.

But at least there will be plenty of good seats available at Mulligan’s…