death of a friend

All posts tagged death of a friend

Dance the Night Away

Published October 11, 2020 by Maryanne

Fun times with my late friend Vinnie, 1982

A few days ago I heard Eddie Van Halen died.

I was not a big Van Halen fan. But when a musician is that huge a hit or two is bound to be backdrop music for whatever is going on in your life at the time of their massive success. So, of course it hits you. Even though I never saw them in concert and never owned a Van Halen record, I have a memorable story to share.

Earlier this year a very dear friend of mine died suddenly of a heart attack, at age 56. My friend Vinnie, who I have known since I was a teenager and absolutely adored.

The stories of Vinnie can go on and on and on. He had a kind heart and a wicked sense of humor. He was the type of person who could say anything and the way he presented it, it would just make you almost die laughing. He had that power about him. And was oh so humble about it. He was the kind of friend everyone wanted to be around. Anyone who knew him was a better person because of him.

As soon as I heard Eddie Van Halen died, once again Vinnie was on my mind. During the early 1980s, Vinnie and I were both into the dance club music of the time — The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs, Culture Club, Haysi Fantayzee … you get the picture.

So what does this have to do with Eddie Van Halen?

When the song “Jump” came out, Vinnie was raving about it. He was always the first to get on the bandwagon of new music. He played the song for me and it was a “wow” for me too. We were not die-hard Van Halen fans, but that was a song we could get into.

There was a bar in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, called Aldo’s Hideaway. Vin and I were regulars there. The owner’s uncle, Pete, was a bartender there and he loved us. He told us many times we were his favorite customers. If I went to Aldo’s alone and Pete looked out the window and saw my Monte Carlo pulling into the driveway, he’d have my drink ready for me at the bar — a White Russian.

One Christmas, Vinnie and I gave Pete a Christmas card and we drank for free all night. The memories we made at Aldo’s were grand ones. Especially the “Jump” night.

On our way to Aldo’s one Saturday evening, Vinnie was playing a cassette tape he made. It was songs we grooved on, by artists we were fans of — Johnny Thunders, Aerosmith … and now that new Van Halen song, “Jump.” It was a great mix.

Saturday night at Aldo’s there was a DJ named Brian. He was very much into David Bowie and Japan; two of my favorites. That’s why Saturday nights at Aldo’s were a win.

This particular evening, we arrived at Aldo’s and ordered drinks. Pete was concerned because a crowd was on the dance floor, more people were coming in the door, and Brian had not yet showed up to DJ. The place was filling up and there wasn’t any music.

“What about that great tape you have in the car?” I asked Vinnie.

“Oh, do you want me to get that?” he asked both Pete and me, as if my say had any clout. It wasn’t hard to twist Pete’s arm; he thought we were great and trusted our judgement. He said, “Sure.”

Now, for those who aren’t familiar with music of the late 1970s or early 1980s, I have to tell you, the hard rock sounds of Aerosmith and Van Halen were nothing like David Bowie, Japan, Psychedelic Furs, and other ambient dance music Brian played. So, obviously, that mix was NOT the type of music Brian played. In fact, you would NEVER hear Aerosmith or Van Halen at Aldo’s. Never, ever, ever!

Nevertheless, people were enjoying the music, and dancing! “They’re digging it,” Vinnie said, and then smiled.

By the time “Jump” came on, Brian showed up. He looked flustered, obviously concerned about what was playing on the DJ mixing board at Aldo’s. His Saturday night reputation of playing austere art rock was now tarnished.

A drop of sweat ran down Brian’s forehead as he jolted towards the dance floor. He got to the DJ booth. He looked out of breath and slightly agitated. “Jump” was still playing. It would be unprofessional to cut the song off mid-way. Plus, people were dancing and enjoying it.

Vin and I sat observing. We felt like little children who got away with something bad. We looked at each other and smirked. A Van Halen song at Aldo’s — and on a Saturday night no less. It was hilarious.

When “Jump” ended, our party was over.

I do not remember the next song Brian played after “Jump.” Most likely something by Depeche Mode or Medium Medium; who knows.

But Vin and I were easy to please music fans. We didn’t care. It was fun while it lasted. Vin went up to the DJ booth to retrieve his tape. Then we hit the dance floor, and danced the night away. Well, until our young appetites kicked in and we decided to leave and hit a diner.

Rest in peace, Vinnie. You are so very missed.

And rest in peace, Eddie Van Halen.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at:

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, she is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats

Visit Maryanne’s You Tube Channel here: Be YOUnique

Another Sad Day, Another Loss

Published September 11, 2013 by Maryanne

loss of a friend

Another sad day.

I just returned from the funeral of a dear friend.

My friend Joan, entertainment editor of The Montclair Times, who I worked very closely with for eight years from 2001 to 2008, died last Friday at the age of 82:

Our desks were right next to each other, so we were very close. Plus, she was my favorite co-worker from the get-go. She just had this positive spirit that made me want to be her friend.

Joan was an attractive lady with a lust for life. She always came to work with her hair done beautifully and perfectly matched her jewelry to her outfits. She never gossiped. She just loved to talk about cultural things and all the fun we had in our personal lives. She never spoke of boring, mundane topics like doing laundry or getting your nails done — it was always about music, and theater, and restaurants, etc. She was just so upbeat — always. I never saw Joan mad about anything and she never complained. Working together so closely for seven years and we NEVER had a fight or disagreement. Except when I said I was thinking of leaving Montclair Times, she was discouraging me because she didn’t want me to leave! She even had her good friend try to talk me out of leaving! And that was the only time I was mad at her. Ha-ha, I gotta laugh now though, it was cute that she went to such extremes to try to keep me there!

Joan was super funny and we had so many laughs. I could talk to her about ANYTHING. She was so hip, she just “got it.” She’d really take her time with young kids who were starting out in the entertainment business and offer advice to them. She was so completely supportive of the arts/entertainment community. She was always eager to help give someone a start in their career. If I had friends perform at the local bar Tierney’s, she’d put them right on the front cover of the entertainment section.

Joan was a very hard worker and always had her section published a week before deadline. She loved to work and always came in smiling and waving this cute little wave. It was adorable.

Thanks to Joan, I had hundreds of articles published in the entertainment section and met so many terrific people in the industry. I was so grateful for the opportunity, yet she always made me feel like I was helping her so much — like I was doing her the favor, when in reality if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have stayed at Montclair Times so long. Of all the jobs I had in my life, I stayed there the longest. And every year on my birthday and for Christmas, Joan gave me amazing gifts to show her appreciation. Not to mention all the entertainment freebies.

Joan and I hung out together outside of the workplace too. We went to plays, restaurants, bars and jazz clubs together. I got to see her beautiful home too. We went to the Christmas parties together. She was like a big sister or aunt to me. I told her everything! She always gave great advice, some of which I’ve included in my business newsletters (and when she saw the emails she just KNEW I was speaking of her wisdom!)

When I left Montclair Times in 2008, Joan shed a tear and walked me out to my car, helping me carry all my belongings that were stored in my desk for seven years. And since 2008 Joan never forgot to send me a birthday card and even sent me a card when I got married.

I only visited Joan a few times since I left Montclair Times.  We kept saying we’d have lunch someday but never got around to it. The last time I saw her, earlier this year, she was frail and seemed sad.

When I heard of her retirement, I was excited for her but deep down it didn’t sit right with me because I knew she absolutely adored her work and said she wasn’t ever going to retire. I had a strong feeling it was just a matter of time. And sadly I was right.

I am so blessed for having the opportunity to work so closely to such a fascinating, inspiring woman. I lost the one photo I had of us together, but I saved quite a few emails she sent me that I will cherish.

Joan will not be forgotten. Not by me. Not by many.

Rest in peace, beautiful Joan. As I said to your daughter today, I loved you! (And will always love you!)