When it Comes to Reviews, Bad = Bad Ass!

Published July 31, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_3767“It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.” — Mae West

One of my favorite episodes of “Sex and the City” is when the character Smith Jerrod is the new poster model for “Absolut” vodka and referred to as the Absolut Hunk. That is, until some jealous person scrawls over the ad,  if my memory serves correctly, “Absolut Ass.” (Someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

Smith Jerrod was so put off by the cruel, unnecessary act that he almost quit his acting career. Yet his gal, Samantha, encouraged him. She explained once the gays and teenyboppers embraced him he’d be a hit! And he was.

But dear readers, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need justification from fans. As an artist, writer, musician, etc. — you are already GREAT!  The fact that you are an artist willing to share your work is something to be proud of. Having the desire/will/dedication to publish (or self-published, doesn’t matter) — more power to you! AND … if you are making money to boot, darling you are so THERE!

So, now you have it all — guts to share,  people who enjoy, people who buy, and the blessing of not relying on anything else but your art for a living. Then the bomb drops … a bad review.

Thank God I learned early in my career that a bad review is the total opposite of what you’d think. A bad review is not “bad” at all. In fact, it’s “bad ass.” It simply means: people are reading! It also means people are being provoked by your work, and/or people are jealous (though I like to believe I’m strong enough to accept a bad review without using the word “jealousy” to go tit for tat with a hater). AND it can get you MORE readers — yeah!

When I was a writer in New York City for several publications at News Communications, one of the writers/editors was trashed in a “letter to the editor.”  I was new to the industry and feared she was going to get reprimanded or fired. Luckily I was wrong! The editor cheered her on and said, “People are reading you!” She became the darling of the news room.

A few years later, when I was an editorial assistant at The Montclair Times, I got my first bad review. I had written a feature article on the three tattoo shops in the town. A man from NYC, obsessed with our New Jersey newspaper, griped about hating tattoos and wondered: “…if Maryanne Christiano has any tattoos herself!”

I was ecstatic! Someone was reading me! My first bad review took me to Cloud 9!

That same man wrote letters to The Montclair Times, every three weeks, like clockwork, usually griping about something someone wrote. I saved the funnier ones in a folder. Part of my job as editorial assistant was to confirm “Letters to the Editor.” Eventually I built up a relationship with this man and we became friendly with each other. Another staff member said to me, “I can’t believe you get along with that guy!” This man was infamous for attacking the car of a NYC politician, so the fact that I got along with him was impressive.

Bad reviews don’t mean anything. They are no reflection on your character, not even your talent. Even best selling authors and the hottest rock ‘n’ roll tickets in town get bad reviews. Take for instance, one of my favorite bands, Queen. After seeing them for the third time two weeks ago, I started re-reading “The Queen Story” by George Tremlett, a book I had since I was 13.  I had long forgotten how they were trashed by the music magazines when they first came out. In fact, two journalists in very reputable newspapers trashed them after their amazing show with Adam Lambert. One was so off the money,  I was tempted to write a “Letter to the Editor” about his bad review.

“Go get ‘em, Tiger!” my husband said to me. Though after a little research, I realized the journalist was around my age and a musician himself — a good one at that. I re-read the article and though I disagreed with him saying Brian May had a bad voice and his guitar solo was too long, I realized the dude was all about Freddie Mercury, and I’m okay with that. I couldn’t bring myself to trash a fellow middle-aged journalist and Freddie lover. However, his bad review inspired me to visit Google search and give the “thumbs up” for every excellent review I could find about the Queen + Adam Lambert world tour.

I rarely write bad reviews about musicians even though I’ve made a living as a music journalist for many years. Though I’ve given many bad reviews to venues I’ve received bad service, like Whole Foods and a hair salon I won’t mention because the owner stalked me down, harassed me on the telephone and demanded I take the bad review off Yelp. The only reason I did was because we had a mutual friend so I decided to take the high road. I deleted the bad review but will never forget the bad service: a stylist leaving dye and foils in my hair while she went to the bathroom to fight with her husband on a cell phone! (The result, my hair got fixed, two hours later; but she got a divorce. Bad karma, right?)

Bad reviews I’ve given other writers, I can count the times on one hand. The only times I trashed a book were two that were super popular and it was definitely no skin off their ass; and another book that criticized every band she wrote about, because to me that said, “well, then, why even bother?”

I never got people writing about things they hate when reviews come across so much more exciting when you write about what you love (and are knowledgeable about!) Bad reviews never stopped me from seeing a band, seeing a movie, buying a book or a CD. I’ve even befriended people who have gotten “bad reviews” from others. I fail to judge by anyone’s opinion except someone I really trust that knows me inside and out.

The thing I’m getting at here, is that bad reviews are just like mosquito bites. Annoying, but not nearly the end of the earth. The classy way to handle them is just ignore them.

But do embrace those who get you. Some may totally, some may a little, some not at all but like you anyway. What I’ve also learned, as a creative person, though some people may like me and not my work, others may NOT like me, but love my work. The greatest compliment ever was when it got back to me that a person who didn’t like me was trashing my character, but added, “She’s a great poet though.”

Not everyone is going to like everything about you. Some might not like ANYTHING about you. The cool thing is, it’s no reflection on you or your merit in the art/music/publishing world. The bad critic has no real power over you — especially when others are digging what you wrote and you’re selling art, books, articles, etc. and have been doing so for many years. In fact, a bad review may do many good things, like getting the right people curious or inspiring your true fans to defend you.

While there’s always room for improvement, never beat yourself up over a bad review. Take all reviews with a grain of salt. Don’t compromise your style or voice to appease a critic. And for God’s sake — keep creating!

Queen + Adam Lambert at IZOD, New Jersey (July 24, 2014)

Published July 24, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_5357Getting psyched!

My 51st birthday will be on August 19 and one of my gifts from my husband was taking me to see Queen + Adam Lambert at the Izod last night!

Now, first a little background. How much do I love Queen, let me count the ways! I’ve been a fan since I was 12 or 13 in the 1970s. I got every album they made at that point and listened to each song on each album, every single day, in the order they were recorded! I memorized who wrote what song and all the liner notes of who played what featured instrument on all the songs. As well as all the lyrics. To this day, if you call out any Queen song from the first five albums, I can tell you who wrote it.

The first time I saw Queen was in 1982 with Freddie Mercury. I saw them again 10 years ago, with Paul Rodgers. And last night with Adam Lambert. All three times were special and unique.

The anticipation build up was off the hook. They had a little problem with the curtain, delaying the show by a half hour. A pre-recorded “Father to Son” from Queen II was played and I lost it. “They’re going to play this?!” But it was just a tease. However, they opened with “Now I’m Here” from “Sheer Heart Attack”  then went into “Stone Cold Crazy” from the same album.

“Fat Bottom Girls” was next, followed by yet another from “Sheer Heart Attack” — “Lap of the Gods”! I was losing it, it was just one great song after another! Then “Seven Seas of Rhye” from “Queen II.”

Then Adam Lambert camped it up during “Killer Queen.” A red velvet couch was brought out for him to ham it up on (he couldn’t even keep a straight face and he was cracking up). He drank from a bottle of Moet and then spit it into the audience, followed by a few cute double-entendre jokes. He even had panties thrown at him. “Somebody to Love” followed and this was the first time you got a true taste of Adam Lambert’s astonishing vocals. He was a stellar front man — a wonderful choice. Yet, the entire band worked together as a group and everyone had their spotlight. Adam appeared extremely grateful to be part of the act and raved about how he loved Freddie and even bowed down during May’s ever-so-sweet guitar segments.

It was cute when Brian May asked a cheering crowd, “How do you like the new guy?”

And in equal cuteness, Adam Lambert endearingly referred to Brian as “Doctor Brian May.”

One of the most special moments, which I saw Brian perform back in 2005, was when he played “Love of My Life” — a song originally played by Freddie on a harp — on his guitar. Brian sang beautifully too. During this time Adam Lambert took a break and after “Love of My Life” Brian was joined on stage with others, including Roger Taylor, his son, Rufus Tiger Taylor (who looks just like his dad!) to do a bare bones version of “’39” followed by “These Are The Days Of Our Lives” which featured a touching tribute to Freddie Mercury.

Then came a great bass solo by current touring bassist, Neil Fairclough and an exciting drum battle between the Taylors (which is probably why “I’m in Love with My Car” was forfeited).

Adam Lambert returned to sing a duet of “Under Pressure” with Roger, followed by “Love Kills,” (a Freddie solo number), then “Who Wants to Live Forever.”

And then the moment we were all waiting for — a Brian May guitar solo, which featured riffs from “Brighton Rock.” (Also during the show, I don’t remember when, but there was a tease of “White Man.”) After the solo, Adam Lambert took front stage again and sang Brian’s hit, ‘Tie Your Mother Down” (which was sung by Freddie on “Day at the Races”).

After “Radio GaGa” Adam broke into a sexy little number called “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and then the grand finale of “Bohemian Rhapsody” which was off the hook with their modern stage show. They had a monstrous “Q” lit up with the tail of the “Q” leading all the way out into the audience. Inside the “Q” there were video segments throughout the show. A second drum kit was set up in the front for some of the softer numbers. The light show was mind blowing and there were raised platforms on each side of the stage where Adam Lambert and Brian May would perform.

Throughout the night band members did several costume changes and Brian May looked like the true guitar god he is when he was wearing a gorgeous gold poncho, reminiscent of the white one he wore during ‘Night at the Opera” days back in the 1970s. And Roger Taylor still looking as cool as ever, looking like Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll in all white and dark sunglasses. And at this time I’d like to give a shout out to Spike Edney on keyboards.

Queen encored with “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.”

Definitely a night to remember! My husband brought me two t-shirts — a sexy tank with the Queen crest in red foil and a tour shirt with Adam Lambert. I am ECSTATIC!

SAM_5379Adam Lambert (vocals), Roger Taylor (drums) and Brian May (guitar)

SAM_5426Adam Lambert

SAM_5435After the show, am I in heaven?

“On the Radio: Adventures of a Guest Co-Host”

Published July 21, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_5333Going over the bridge!

A few weeks ago, I was a guest co-host on Keith Roth’s “Electric Ballroom” radio show on 95.9 WRAT, which airs down the Jersey Shore. The show aired last night at 8 p.m. so my husband Dennis and I took a ride down the shore to listen — making it truly authentic. We parked the PT Cruiser in front of the beach and listened to the two hour broadcast! Keith Roth was an awesome host! I had a blast hearing the show. My husband Dennis was so proud!

SAM_5335Catching some salty air before the show aired!

SAM_5341Tuned in!

SAM_5217Me with Keith Roth, on July 9, when we first recorded the show!

Here’s the awesome set list of songs we played!

“I’m Gonna Make You Mine” – Lou Christie

“Trash” – New York Dolls

“Safe European Home” – The Clash

“I’m Bored” – Iggy Pop

“Hey Little Girl” – Dead Boys

“She’s the One” – The Ramones

“1-2-3″- The Professionals

“Jezebel” – Joan Jett

“So Alive” – The Ramones

“Rip Her to Shreds” – Blondie

“Gene Jeanie” – David Bowie

“Evil Boy” – Stiv Bators

“Bohemian Love Pad” – David Johansen

“Steppin’ Stone” – Monkees

“Out of Control” – Wayne County

“Crystal Blue Persuasion” – Tommy James

“Suicide” – D-Generation

“Monkey Suit” – Plasmatics

“Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore” – Angel

“My Fairy King” – Queen

Then Keith ended the show with “Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon” by Queen — which was a stellar choice!

To purchase your copy of “Guest List” visit: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

Met My First WordPress Friend in Person!

Published July 19, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_5327Two bloggers! (Me and Joanne!)

I met so many amazing people via WordPress, but the one I most wanted to meet was Joanne Best! We are both Jersey girls, we love the same music, saw the same bands, went to the same nightclubs, are in the same age bracket, are both writers and we both have great personalities! We even look like sisters!

I don’t remember if she first found my blog or I first found hers, but we had a great connection from day one. In fact, it was thanks to her that I pushed to get my book out a little faster than I anticipated when Joanne wrote on her, “I need this book!”

Joanne was also the first person to post my first interview on her blog!

Interesting, I was in her area twice this week … Tuesday evening when I went to a concert and today when I did a book reading at Old Bridge Library. I was ecstatic to see Joanne walk through the door! When people tell me they’re going to show up, I never take it for granted that they will. Plus, I knew she had somewhere else to go. So you can imagine how happy I was to see her! And she gives the BEST hugs!!

I love you Joanne! I can’t wait to get together again when we can hang out longer!

And thanks to WordPress for bringing like-minds together :)

Another friend who came to my book signing today, was John, a friend I met on Live Journal around 2002! He used to come see me DJ in NYC all the time. Once in awhile we run into each other (like at the Gary Numan concert last year) or meet for lunch.

SAM_5323Me and John

Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals at Jenks Club in Point Pleasant, NJ, July 15, 2014

Published July 16, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_5313Me with Felix Cavaliere

It was a stormy night at the Jersey Shore, but my husband Dennis and I braved the storm to check out Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals at Jenk’s Club.

We had the time of our lives. We got a sweet seat at the bar and had a super cool bartender named David who thought he was unfamiliar with the music, but turned out he really liked all the songs and kept asking my husband which songs were Felix’s. The three of us were in such awe. I couldn’t help but cry during, “It’s a Beautiful Morning” and “Groovin’.” Other favorites were “How Could I Be Sure,” “Good Love,” “You Better Run” (later recorded by Pat Benatar), and “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore” (which was co-written by my friend Lori Burton who I knew since I was 15), sung by the drummer.

Felix also did songs by Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Sly and the Family Stone.

A really great time! I’m ecstatic!

SAM_5294Storm outside

SAM_5314Felix Cavaliere on the marque!

Come See Me Today, Somerville Library, 4 p.m.!

Published July 12, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_5261
Come one, come all! Today I’ll be at the Somerville Library, in beautiful historic Somerville, New Jersey, at 4 p.m. reading from my book “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” and signing copies.

It’s a gorgeous day to take a nice ride!

If you’re not in the area, you can purchase copies of “On the Guest List” at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

Guest on WRAT, 95.9, Belmar, New Jersey!

Published July 9, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_5217Me with Keith Roth, host of Electric Ballroom

I was super thrilled to co-host Keith Roth’s radio show today (the show will air July 20) promoting my book, “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist.”

We recorded about 40 minutes air time talking about music and fun stories. It’s always great fun chatting with someone you have the same musical tastes as. I got to pick out all the songs, but I’ll keep that as a surprise and share the set list afterwards!

Here are some of Keith’s links:

www.facebook.com/frankenstein3000
www.frankenstein3000.com

www.mainmanrecords.com

And to purchase “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” visit Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X