All posts for the month May, 2012

Me, age 48, with and without make-up

Published May 28, 2012 by Maryanne

Me, September 2011, age 48 – NO MAKE-UP!

Me, December 2011, with make-up (Photo by Darlene Foster)

Last summer, a month after my 48th birthday, something was going on with my eye. The eye doctor I was going to at the time couldn’t find anything wrong and said it was allergies.

It was so bizarre. Every time I went to put make-up on, my right eye would pinch and tear and hurt. This went on for a few months. So from September to November I didn’t wear any make-up at all and my eyes felt fine.

In late November, the eye problem mysteriously went away as it mysteriously came. And now it’s spring and the “eye allergies” never came back.

Going without make-up was equally liberating as it was humiliating and frustrating. Make-up has been a part of my personality since I was a teenager. I love make-up, especially eye make-up. I felt naked without it and always thought I looked washed out or tired — or like a plain Jane.

But after looking at some photos of me without make-up and seeing how nice my skin looks, I feel I had nothing to worry about. I do look kinda cute without it as long as I remember to SMILE!

So, to ladies who love make-up, if there’s ever a time you have to go without it — don’t be scared, you might be pleasantly surprised at how refreshing it feels going all natural!

How to Respect a Vegetarian

Published May 28, 2012 by Maryanne


Happy Memorial Day Fellow Bloggers!

It’s a day to respect what our soldiers fought and died for. This morning I lit my candle and took a moment of silence three times throughout the morning and afternoon.

Today also marks the day that starts off the summer cook-outs. As a vegetarian, it’s hard enough getting through the winter holidays with people not getting it. Now there’s a whole slew of summer holidays to get through with people not getting it.

It really is a shame that people don’t make more of an effort to understand the vegetarian lifestyle. Yes, some of us are vegetarians because we love animals. But we are also vegetarians because we care about our health and are conscious about what we eat.

So here are my top five issues with people who don’t understand the vegetarian lifestyle and hopefully someday in the future, life will be a little bit easier for all of us.

Top 5 Tips for Non-Vegetarians

1. TRY the food that a vegetarian brings to your party!  I’ve been to numerous parties where I was the only vegetarian. I’d  bring food and not one person touched my dish. I find this insulting and hurtful, especially because I’ve been told by a lot of people that I’m a great cook — vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Some even said I should open my own restaurant. Vegetarian food doesn’t meant it’s tasteless or just “grass.” That old  “rabbit food” joke went out the same year your mullet did, so we vegetarians are just sick of hearing it!

Most people can afford to lose a few pounds anyway by eating something healthy, so just be a sport and you may be pleasantly surprised.

2. Fruit and vegetables are delicious without unhealthy toppings! Strawberries are delicious. Period. They do not need whipped cream on them or to be smothered in cheap ass milk chocolate. String beans are very tasty raw. They do not need to be put into a casserole with breading and cheese overload.

3. For the love of God, give the veggie burgers a separate section on the grill. A friend did that for me once and I was absolutely tickled! That was very thoughtful and unexpected! No vegetarian wants a veggie burger with meat juice.

4. CHEESE IS NOT VEGETARIAN! I can’t say that loud enough. Unless it specifies on the wrapper, “suitable for vegetarians” cheese is not vegetarian. It contains rennet, which comes from an animal source.

5. We Eat a Helluva Lot More Than Pasta and Vegetables. To everyone in the 21st Century who is entertaining guests, I highly suggest buying a vegetarian cookbook or do some heavy duty “Googling.”

I dread going to yet another party, wedding,  or gathering where the only thing I could eat is pasta, potatoes and salad. And cake is made with animal lard, so when I refuse cake do not be offended.

It would be nice if there was something sweet I could enjoy at the end of my meal, besides a generic fruit salad purchased at an A&P. There’s a ton of vegetarian and vegan desserts that can be purchased pre-made or you can experiment and make yourself by just doing a Google search for “simple vegan desserts.”

So to all the non-vegetarians in the world, please be a little more creative. I beg you!

–Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta


‘Getting Cards and Letters (and Blogs) From People I Don’t Even Know’

Published May 27, 2012 by Maryanne

Legendary Glen Campbell and daughter, Ashley

Last night my husband and I got to see Glen Campbell perform his “Goodbye Tour” at Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank, New Jersey. We didn’t know what to expect because a year ago Glen Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and has been suffering memory loss.

His warm-up act was Instant People, an indie rock/country band which included three of his eight children. They did a wonderful short set (and I really enjoyed them, they had a style similar to one of my favorite new(er) artists, Ben Kweller).

I would definitely love to see them again — performing a longer set!

After a short break, Instant People returned to the stage to assist the legendary Glen Campbell perform. Members of Instant People and others who make up Glen’s band are: Ashley Campbell (banjo, keyboard & vocals); Cal Campbell (drums); Shannon Webb Campbell (guitar); TJ Kuenster (keyboards) who has performed with Glen over 35 years; Ryan Andre Jarred (guitar); and Siggy Sjursen (bass).

Glen hit the stage and began with “Gentle on My Mind.” He was forgetting lyrics from the get-go and had to restart the song.

The best things about the show were: #1, Glen Campbell, at age 78, is still a wonderful showman. This was the first time I ever saw him and he really commands the stage and has a great presence. He still looks good and healthy, in spite of having Alzheimer’s.  God bless his soul.

#2, Glen can still play the guitar. And unless you’re a musician or have a really good ear, you may not even realize he was playing the wrong key. (Most of the time I didn’t, but one song it was very obvious and his daughter, Ashley, kept helping him out and mouthing the right key to him).

#3, To hear so many songs that I love and have loved since I was a little girl, performed right before me by a legend gave me thrills throughout the night. I screamed like a teenager throughout the show. Even though he did many hits, including “Rhinestone Cowboy” and “Southern Nights” I have to say my all time favorite Glen Campbell song is — and always will be — “Galveston.”

We ran into a bunch of friends at the show, and one mentioned how sad it was to hear the line in “Galveston,” that says, “I’m so afraid of dying” as that line now takes on a whole new poignant meaning, as he called this his “Good-Bye” tour. And thinking about this, will now and forever bring tears to my eyes.

Yes, Glen struggled a lot with his set. Aside from forgetting words and chords, it seemed something was going wrong with the bassist, Siggy Sjursen and Glen didn’t want him to play. That was sad to see and I felt so bad for the kid, as I thought he was doing a great job (and so did my husband, who is also a professional bassist). Siggy sat out a few songs, then eventually left the stage.

We were guessing that maybe because of the Alzheimers something he heard from the bass was throwing him off. Maybe we’ll find out soon enough when some of the professional reviews come out.

But aside from the struggles, his fans were extremely supportive and cheered him on throughout the night with several standing ovations.

His daughter, Ashley, was  a doll. She watched over him during the entire set, coaching and encouraging him, and taking flowers from fans and putting them aside for him. The father/daughter love between the two is so evident and moving. Ashley is a beautiful girl, no doubt, a cross between Christina Applegate and Lisa Marie Presley. But her beauty also comes from within. Such a young girl (I just read she is only 24 or 25), and seemingly wise for her years, looking out for her daddy is heart-rendering.

Glen and Ashley did a killer dueling banjo and guitar duet that was off the hook fantastic.

One of my favorite Glen Campbell songs, “Country Boy” wasn’t performed. But he has so many hits, that it was expected he would omit a few. What I am grateful for was that he did the ENTIRE songs! I always hate going to see an artist and they chop up songs and make them into “medleys.” It’s like painting a mustache on a Mona Lisa and simply should not be done.

It was nice to hear a few tunes from his new album, “Ghost on the Canvas.” It’s a great album and on it are collaborations with Paul Westerberg, Jakob Dylan, Chris Issak, Rick Nielson and Billy Corgan.

Prior to the show we met a nice bunch of ladies who called themselves the “biggest Glen Campbell fans from New Jersey.” They told us they saw him perform in the 1970s! (I am so jealous!) and gave him flowers.

After the show, my husband and I walked past the tour bus. I said, “It’s a gorgeous night, let’s hang out a bit.”

The first thing we witnessed was bassist Siggy Sjursen asking where the nearest bar was.

When Siggy returned, I whispered to my husband to tell him that he was great in spite of what happened. My husband yelled out to him, “You were great, man!”

After we saw some fans taking pictures with Siggy, we asked if we could take a picture. He was generous enough to do so and even patted me on the back when I said “Thank you” and he said, “Thank YOU” back.

Soon afterwards Ashley came out of the tour bus and met with fans and took photos. I straight out told her, “You’re beautiful, talented and you take such good care of your father.” She was really appreciative that I said the part about taking care of her father.

The love between those two reminds me of how much I love (and miss) my late grandmother.

I wish Mr. Campbell lots of luck as he continues his tour. This is a show that will be etched in my mind for a very long time!

The Joy of Interviewing Students

Published May 24, 2012 by Maryanne

I love when my career in journalism gets me out of my home office for a few hours or so.

Yesterday I had the pleasure and honor to interview over 20 high school students from the Rosa Parks School of Performing Arts in Paterson, NJ, for two articles to go online at  the Paterson Press.

The Rosa Parks students had a lot to be excited about. One group was going to Maryland to compete in the History Day finalists. The other group were finalists in the MSG Varsity Talent Show, a cable TV show covering the tri-state area.

And they were excited to meet a reporter for the Paterson Press (me!)

Little did they know, I was just as excited to meet them. I interviewed over 20 kids in two hours. These kids were good, polite, fun, charming and inspiring. If I had to interview 40 of them in four hours for half the money, I would do it in a heartbeat!

At the end of the interview, they all lined up to shake my hand. These kids stole my heart!

Finally, as I was getting to leave, one of the teachers asked if I could stay just a few minutes longer, as one student was running late and was “so excited” to be interviewed. Of course!

And a few minutes later, a sweet girl named Clarice was all set for her interview. She had high hopes about winning the history competition because she said the winners would get to meet the president Obama.

I said, “Oh wow, that’s great! I had a dream that I met Obama last night!”

She said, “Tell me your name. If I meet him, I’ll tell him about you!”

Now that was priceless!

After the interview, I thanked her and asked if she could show me how to “get out of here.” (Why are schools so hard to navigate?)

Clarice led the way and as we were walking she asked me if I liked journalism. I said that I loved it, especially when I get to interview students. I added that I was a journalist since 1995. And Clarice told me that was the year she was born.

I said, “Then that was a GOOD year!”

Of course I didn’t tell her that the year started off as the worst year of my life. That was the year my beloved grandmother passed away. A few months later when I had my first article published in a magazine, I told a friend, “I wish my grandmother was alive to see this!” (As she ALWAYS encouraged my writing talent!)

My friend replied, “Well who do you think is making this happen for you?”

So, 1995, my grandmother died and a baby was born. A baby who grew up to be a lovely young lady, smart enough to make it to the History Day finalists.

My grandmother would be proud of her too.

My grandmother had a wonderful attitude about growing old and death. She always said, “You have to make way for the next generation.”

And what a generation it is! God bless the Rosa Park High School students!

A Pear Tree client walked into a bar ….

Published May 23, 2012 by Maryanne

Alan Kitty, as Mark Twain, with fan

Last night I thought about the colorful assortment of clients I’ve had since I began my home-based business, Pear Tree Enterprises ( four years ago.

My original vision was to simply provide services that I was good at, such as editing, proofreading and typing. But somewhere along the way, I got sucked into doing promotional work, something I never even thought I’d like, let alone be good at. But after gently being encouraged by a Mark Twain impersonator, I gave promotional work a shot — and BAM! Another talent to add to my resume.

So for the past four years, doing book and website editing, promoting, personal assistance, modeling and acting, I’ve met some of the most interesting people in the world.

If I put all my cast of characters into a room together, it would make great material for a reality show, a damn good joke or the dinner party of the century!

For the past four years, Pear Tree clients included: actors, a rock star, a mobster, a bank robber, a Mark Twain impersonator, a transsexual, photographers, musicians, authors and an Orthodox Jew. (And as my husband said last night, I may even be forgetting a few — as four years is a pretty long time!)

My clients are a potpourri of people from all walks of life, all cultures, all ethnic backgrounds, all religions and all mindsets. So, not only do I get a career, I get educated, entertained and spiritually fulfilled.

Money can’t buy the happy little niche I’ve created for myself.

Maybe I should start a Pear Tree Enterprises school to help get others get started on the path to a satisfying, self-created career? Just a thought …

Happy Munster Day!

Published May 13, 2012 by Maryanne

Maryanne w/Butch Patrick “Eddie Munster”

Maryanne with Candy Clark

Maryanne and original BATMOBILE!

Car show season has arrived!

Kicking off the season is an event my husband and I love to attend each year called, “Dead Man’s Curve.” There are hundreds of hot rods and historic cars, vendors, bands and celebrities from yesteryear.

This year we got to meet Butch Patrick from “The Munsters.” He was super cool. I actually meet him years ago in a bar. He approached me and said, “Hi, I’m Butch.” I just said, “Hi,” smiled and didn’t say much because I am shy. When I’m not in journalist mode, interviewing someone famous, it’s so much easier when my husband is around because he’s great with people.

While my husband took our picture, Butch said, “So, Maryanne, you finally escaped from Gilligan’s Island.”

I said, “Actually, I’m a Ginger wannabe!”

How true! How true! (My favorite episode of “Gilligan’s Island” was when Maryanne got amnesia and thought she was Ginger and sang, “I Wanna Be Loved By You.”)

We met Candy Clark too. She’s best known from “American Graffiti” and I must say, she’s still a fox! Very nice lady and funny as hell. We overheard her telling another fan that she spent some time in Montclair (my former hometown) and she loved shopping for antiques there. VERY COOL!

We got to see the Batmobile (for the second time! And this time I got to go inside!)

There were some great bands too: The Tarantinos, a surf garage band from NYC that did all songs from Tarantino’s movies. And Rockabilly Express played, which featured Brian Setzer’s (from Stray Cats) brother, Gary Setzer. A friend of theirs came up front and did some crazy hula hoop moves.

Finally, we got to check out vendors. I scored an old issue of “Planet of the Apes” magazine and “Dynamite” (an ultra cool publication for teens in the ’70s published in NYC).

Ahh, what a happy day and a great start to car show season! And I just started my tan!

Aquarian Arts Weekly Makes Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

Published May 12, 2012 by Maryanne

I am thrilled that New Jersey’s Aquarian/Arts weekly has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Aquarian debuted in 1969, but I discovered it when I was a teenager, circa 1980. I’d walk to the Quick Check across the street from my high school to buy the magazine when I was 16 or 17 to see what bands were playing. Not that the information did me any good, as we didn’t have “all ages” shows back then. So, the big thing, for me, was seeing what bands were in record stores signing autographs, or performing at Great Adventure.

Other than getting music news, the Aquarian played a role in my career — on a few levels. It was the first newspaper to ever publish a letter that I wrote. At age 17, I trashed another letter writer who put down punk rock. My letter had to be at least 500 words (hand-written, as there were no home computers for the middle class in 1981) because it took up an entire column! I defended punk rock and told the world that teenage girls knew that The Clash stood for much more than “Mick Jones is so cute.” And what great people The Plasmastics were because they were so loyal to their fans.

When I was 19, I started designing crossword puzzles by hand (the American Society of Mechancial Engineers later published one in their newsletter). Again — by hand — because there were no home computers to do these things on. While my idea for a rock ‘n’ roll crossword puzzle was declined back then (they later had someone else do them!) I got to speak on the phone with the founder, James Resinbrink, pitching my idea!

By age 28, I made it in the Aquarian again. This time, it was modeling for a Fender guitar promotion ad for Long & McQuade Music (a Canadian music chain, and the only store in the U.S. was in New Jersey!)

I was dressed in a black teddy, in the best shape of my life, with cherry red lipstick, and the headline to the ad read, “How Would You Like to Take This Baby Home?” And in a subhead, underneath, “Of course we mean the guitar!” Ooh-la-la!

Friends that I haven’t heard from in years called me up to say how “killer” that ad was!

A few years later, my friend, actor, Scott Schiaffo, had a feature in the Aquarian because he was the Chewlies man in Kevin Smith’s film “Clerks.” During this time, 1994 (I was 30), I was on a compilation tape with Scott, called, “See It Feel It Hear It Vol. 1.” I read my own poetry, with Scott playing guitar in the background. Scott promoted this tape in his article and once again, my name was in print in The Aquarian.

And finally, in 2002, at age 39, I had my own goth column in the Aquarian! I got to interview amazing people like: The Nuns, Diamanda Galas and Lydia Lunch!

During that time period I also did CD reviews and part-time copy-editing for The Aquarian.

The goth column was a short run, but I didn’t mind because I was working full time at another newspaper and also deejaying in NYC.

Who knows if I’ll ever be a part of The Aquarian again. It’s not something I’m actively pursuing, as I’m pretty burnt out on writing about music since during my career I’ve also written for, Punk Magazine (which is also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and participated in a column called “On That Note” for The Montclair Times.

There may have been more things of significance with my involvement with the Aquarian that I’m forgetting due to the fact that just so much that has always been going on in my life.

But, wow, I’m so happy that a music newspaper from New Jersey, that played a role in my life made it big time!

My husband and I will save the special pull-out section, as an ad for his 1980s band, Pharoah is also in there!