USA and Denmark Friends Unite Over Love for Animals

Published April 9, 2017 by Maryanne

Her photoIben (left) and Maryanne at Mundo Vegan in Montclair, NJ 

Yesterday was an incredibly special, happy day. I finally got to meet my lovely friend Iben, who is visiting the USA, from Denmark. And her 14-year-old son, Mads, who is wise beyond his years and an all-around great kid.

Two years ago, Iben and I bonded online, over our love for animals. Cecil the lion was just killed and, of course it bothered us both terribly.

This was the summer of 2015. A short time later, Iben told me she’d be visiting the USA in 2017, so we planned to set a date to meet.

Yesterday I met Iben and Mads for the first time at a train station in Cranford, New Jersey. They’ve been staying in NYC, enjoying their holiday.

After two days of rain, we lucked out with a warm, windy day, perfect spring day. First stop was Montclair. We first went to an indie bookstore, then enjoyed a fabulous lunch at Mundo Vegan: http://www.mundovegannj.com/

We couldn’t rave enough about how great the meal was. I had organic quinoa salad and pumpkin “cheese” cake for dessert (made with tofu, almond crust, pumpkin and cashews). Delicious!

Afterwards we did some shopping in Montclair, then went for a walk around the gorgeous Verona Park. There, we coincidentally started a conversation with a woman who was from Denmark, living in the United States for 60 years! What are the chances of that?! And her brother lives in the same town as Iben.

And why did we start talking to the woman to being with? Because she had two cute dogs! It’s always hard to resist stopping to meet dogs, especially in a park.

We all ended our beautiful day with a last stop to my house so Iben and Mads could meet my kitty Nicholas. Nicholas is definitely a “people kitty.” Nicholas loved my new friends and did his “Circus flips” for them (which my husband taught him).

I’ve been so high since yesterday, meeting two incredible people. Fresh air, good food, and great conversation. So much fun!

I wish Iben and Mads a beautiful, safe trip while they continue their visit in the USA. And thanks to Facebook, we’ll be in touch, ’til we meet again! ❤

Montclair - MadsMaryanne and Mads, Montclair, NJ 

Verona ParkVerona Park (Photo by Iben) 

Shape Shop ‘Angel’ Tours with Living Legend Punky Meadows

Published March 24, 2017 by Maryanne

Barbara Serbes

Here’s an article I wrote about Asbury Park Shape Shop owner, Barbara Serbes, touring as back-up singer with Punky Meadows: http://www.shapeshopasburypark.com/single-post/2017/03/20/Shape-Shop-%E2%80%98Angel%E2%80%99-Tours-with-Living-Legend-Punky-Meadows

True Friends Fight Nice

Published March 12, 2017 by Maryanne

Friends 2

Fighting sucks.

It gets your riled up, sad, and maybe even depressed. But it’s inevitable that even the best of friends may argue from time to time. And why wouldn’t they? It’s impossible that people will agree on everything. Or that we’re perfect and will always say the right thing at the right time. Sometimes things come out wrong. Sometimes we simply misunderstand. Sometimes we let things go. Sometimes we can’t.

Whatever the situation, we can’t help it, we will argue.

The thing is, true friends will fight nice.

There’s a big difference between fighting nice and fighting nasty. Fighting nasty is name-calling, being irrational, or possibly looking for an excuse to end the friendship. That is NOT cool. And that’s the kind of “friend” you are better off without.

A real classy gal knows how to fight “nice.” This means, stay focused on the issue at hand. Don’t ever insult your friend. Don’t question, “What’s wrong with you?” (Ew, that is such a gross thing to say to someone!) Don’t question your friends mental stability just because he or she disagrees with you. (That’s even more gross!) And don’t forget, to belittle is to BE LITTLE. Only jerks name call. Whenever someone pulls that crap with me, I write that person off … forever. If someone does it to you once, they will do it to you again. Arguing and fighting will happen, but it doesn’t have to stoop to a schoolyard bully level. Instead, do it with style!

I am so blessed to have quite a few wonderful friends that can handle shit in an honest, intelligent manner. At the time, it doesn’t feel good, but we get through it. I LOVE that my friends stand up for themselves and can disagree with me; and vice versa, as they allow me speak my mind too; because a good friendship is based on honesty.

Some of my friends and I will actually tell each other we love each other WHILE WE ARE ARGUING! How cool is that?! It’s like, “I love you, and we can work this out! I WANT to work it out!” And we always do work it out!

All of these smart, gorgeous, creative ladies that I’ve bonded with over the years; those I met in high school, those I met at concerts, those I met through my husband, those I met via my career, I love, love, love, love them so much!

When a friendship is worth GOLD, a real friend doesn’t run away or end it. They stay strong with you; as you do with them. They know deep in their hearts that putting each other down is not the way to go; as that’s stupid and the friendship will be ruined for life.

To always be kind, even when you are mad, is a great blessing. Talking things out like adults is the way to go.

I LOVE all my friends and get excited just thinking about them! Thank you for knowing how to be a true friend; through thick and thin! And for loving me as I love you … forever

All in the Family, When Everyone Was in on the Joke.

Published February 28, 2017 by Maryanne

all-in-the-family

Archie wasn’t PC — but his lessons were learned via REAL humor, not hate 

I am friends with one, two, three, at least, couples who have an autistic child; and had the honor to write articles about their triumphs and struggles. Years ago, people who had autism were referred to as “retards.” Sadly, it’s an ugly word that people are using today, especially in the political sense when they disagree with people. The word “Libtard” (meaning that a person who has liberal views is retarded) is ugly. I don’t do ugly.
I am not a “snowflake” as I’m been called. Nor am I PC obsessive.I just have compassion and will definitely stand up to something I don’t think is right, especially when I see it in my news feed.
Years ago, you had celebrities joking around name calling, like on the Dean Martin Show and on All in the Family. But in the end, the one who was wrong was made the buffoon and a lesson was taught. Just like in modern shows like “Superior Donuts” and even going back a few years to the movie “Zac & Miri Make a Porno.”
On these television shows and movies, everyone is in on the “joke” and they are written with humor — not hate. There’s a punchline, people laugh, and no one is bullied.
Hatefully using a word, comparing a person to someone with autism is more than not right — it’s scary, condescending and insulting on so many levels. What really gets me is that I’ve heard so many parents say it. How would they feel if their son or daughter was autistic and they had to hear that nasty word on a regular basis?
I do not have children, but I’ve spoken to friends who have and both Republicans and Democrats views and agree that it’s not cool to say that unkind word.
I’m just really shocked at how many other parents think that word is “okay.”
It’s NOT okay.

Dream Come True!

Published February 25, 2017 by Maryanne

sam_2169Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, author

Yesterday my life changed.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the email that my third book that I’ve been shopping around for almost a year was going to be published — traditionally!

My first two book efforts were self-published, which was an incredible experience in itself. I am forever grateful for making the effort of putting out two of my own books. It was exciting hiring good friends to do the cover and to proofread. And then be in charge of my own marketing experience, getting myself on radio stations, in libraries, and record stores for book signing events. What a ride!

Then it got to a point where I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t go for the instant gratification. What would happen if I shopped my third book around?

“The Gypsy Smiled” is in a unique category, music fiction. I did not invent that genre, as I’ve seen it used before. Last year I sent it out to several publishers and then waited.

And when I least expected it, I was contacted by a traditional publisher! My book will be published and available all over the world in the next three to six months!

So, not to be secretive, but I’d rather stop here and when the book is published, I’ll talk about it — especially how super cool my publisher is!

All I will say, at this point, to anyone — don’t give up on your dreams! Keep believing in yourself and enjoy every bit of the ride. I mean, the chances of being published traditional are pretty slim; and I am so humbled to be one of the fortunate ones.

You just have to love what you do, whether you are successful or not. Love every minute of the process: the writing and the writer’s block; the success and the rejection letters; the praise as well as the bad reviews … and the long days where it seems like nothing is happening, because it really IS; the universe is just getting all the ducks in order for you to start shining.

It happened to me, and it could happen to you!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, now an upcoming traditionally published author, has self published two books, both available on Amazon:

On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist: https://www.amazon.com/Guest-List-Adventures-Music-Journalist/dp/162903908X4

Love Cats (in paperback and Kindle versions): https://www.amazon.com/Love-Cats-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta/dp/1681020513

She is also an award-winning journalist, currently writing for Vitamin Retailer magazine and New View Media news publications; as well as proofreading legal ordinances at Coded Systems in Spring Lake, New Jersey. 

Pop Rock Music Icon Tommy James Inducted into NJ Hall of Fame

Published February 20, 2017 by Maryanne

tommy-james-photo-from-carolTommy James (Photo used courtesy of Carol Ross-Durborow)

This article originally appeared in The Verona/Cedar Grove News (New View Media)

Pop Rock Music Icon Tommy James Inducted into NJ Hall of Fame

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

Tommy James, said he is “very honored” to be inducted into the NJ Hall of Fame, which will be held in Asbury Park in May. The Cedar Grove iconic musician has 23 gold records, nine platinum albums, and over 100 million records sold worldwide.

“Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony Mony,” “Draggin’ the Line,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” and “Hanky Panky” are just a few of his many hit records. His songs have been covered by other famous artists like Prince, Joan Jett, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Idol, Dolly Parton, REM, Carlos Santana, and The Boston Pops.

James’ music is heard in 31 films to date and numerous television shows including “Breaking Bad,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Goldbergs,” and “Aquarius.” You can also hear James’ songs in commercials. His “Crystal Blue Persuasion” is now the theme song for Crystal Cruise Line.

Born in Ohio and brought up in Michigan, James has been living in New Jersey almost 45 years. He’s lived in Clifton, and now resides in Cedar Grove. “I love it in New Jersey,” he said. “The weather’s moderate. The people are fun. It’s right by New York, where I have to be. I don’t think I can operate anywhere else. You’ve got the ocean, New York, Philadelphia. You’re in the center of the universe. Nothing is like New Jersey.”

While James has spent such a long time in New Jersey, he’s been in the music business even longer – 50 years! Regarding his endurance in the biz, he said, “I look at three generations of people in concert audiences. The music has never not been on the radio. I’ve been very blessed.”

James started playing music when he was 4-years-old and his grandfather brought him a ukulele. “I learned everything I could,” he said. “I started singing right away.”

His mom, who played piano, got James an acoustic guitar after he saw Elvis on TV. “The ukulele went out the window,” he said jokingly.

In addition to Elvis Presley, James was greatly inspired by the first generation of rock ‘n’ roll. “Gene Vincent … Buddy Holly,” he said. “Then The Beatles came along.”

Always encouraged by his folks, James taught himself to play acoustic, then graduated to playing an electric at the age of 10. He started his first band at 12, and got his first gig at 13. James graduated high school in 1965 and by 1966 his first hit, with The Shondells, “Hanky Panky” exploded.

“That’s how the good Lord works,” said James.

As a writer of so many hits, James says that inspiration for a song can come from anywhere. “I’m always looking on billboards for a little phrase,” he said. “I like to start with chord progression and it will tell you where it wants to go. ‘Crimson and Clover’ started with a title.”

He feels lucky to have had so many other notable musicians’ interpretations of his music. “I’m very flattered,” he said. “It’s always interesting to hear how another artist covers your songs.” His favorite is Prince’s version of “Crimson and Clover.”

James’ critically acclaimed autobiography, “Me, the Mob, and the Music,” was listed on Rolling Stone magazine’s “Best Music Memoirs” and is now in the development for a film, with producer Barbara De Fina, whose credits include “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” “Cape Fear,” “Color of Money,” “Hugo,” and the most recent, Martin Scorsese’s new film, “Silence.”

Matthew Stone just finished the screenplay for the film. His credits include “Intolerable Cruelty,” “Man of the House,” and “Big Trouble.”

James may have a cameo appearance in the film. “I may be a corpse,” he said jokingly, referring to his career which is now spanning 50 years and still thriving.

Now working in the studio on a new album, “Alive,” James expects an April release. “This is an album with eight new songs and four remakes,” he said, “A lot of nice little surprises.” One of the surprises includes an acoustic remake of “Crystal Blue Persuasion.”

Being able to thrive in the music business for 50 years and still have fun makes James feel so lucky. He said, “It’s been an amazing journey to be a lifer in this business. The fans, and the good Lord, I thank for the longevity and staying focused. That has meant a lot.”

For more information, visit: https://www.tommyjames.com/

 

 

Reunited with Sixth Grade Teacher!

Published February 13, 2017 by Maryanne

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Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta reunited with sixth grade teacher,  John Sabbak 

I think it’s every creative person’s dream to see one of their school teachers in their audience. Today, February 13, 2017, I didn’t realize one of my teachers was in the audience when I gave the lecture, “The History of Valentine’s Day” at the Fairfield Library, Fairfield, New Jersey.

After the lecture, I spent some time speaking with audience members. And after mentioning that Cedar Grove was one of the towns I grew up in, an audience member asked if I attended North End grammar school, because he was a teacher there. Turns out he was my sixth grade teacher, Mr. John Sabbak!

It was 1974 when I was in sixth grade, which makes it 43 years since I last saw Mr. Sabbak, who is now in his 80s — and me, in my 50s.

When we put two and two together, I was almost in tears. He was really one of my favorite teachers; such a nice man!

I gave Mr. Sabbak a big hug and then his lovely wife took our photograph. The Sabbaks are not online, so they gave me their home address and I promised to send a print of the photograph to them. Mrs. Sabbak said she was going to frame it!

Mr. Sabbak even remembered me from back then; that I was very quiet. (Even my own mother doesn’t remember me being quiet! Now don’t get me wrong, I am not a chatterbox, but I am definitely not quiet — as a public speaker, you can’t be!)

In the modern day of the internet when you reconnect with people via Facebook, it’s an incredible surprise when someone important from your past shows up — when you least expect it.

God bless Mr. Sabbak! He’s awesome!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is a writer and public speaker in New Jersey. To view her programs, visit: https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/