entertainment

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Blinded by The Light = BEST MOVIE, EVER!

Published August 25, 2019 by Maryanne

Sarfraz ManzoorSarfraz Manzoor

First off, let me just say this is not a movie review. It’s more of a personal account of why I thought “Blinded by the Light” was the best movie I ever saw in my entire life!

I went in last night, thinking it was another beautiful date night with my husband. From the trailers, I knew the movie was going to be fun, and funny. Little did I know how much depth it was going to have, and that it was based on a true story.

While many of us will never know the tragedy of prejudice, which brought tears to my eyes, many of us growing up in the 1980s know the struggle between child/young teen and parents who don’t understand our hopes and dreams. This was a time when there was still a great generation gap between parent and teenager. (Unlike today when parents are best friends with their kids).

When Sarfraz’s father ripped up his Bruce Springsteen tickets, a part of my heart was ripped out. I had a similar experience when my mother ripped up my beloved Queen posters when she was mad at me. That happened when I was 12, and all these years later, it still cuts me like a knife, seeing my young mom standing on my bed tearing down what was to me, my life. I wanted to die right then and there.

Like Sarfraz, I started writing poetry as a teenager, as well as song lyrics I hoped friends from bands would use. (One friend said he’d pay me $100 to use one line. I said, “You could have it for free as long as I could write more songs for you.” That never happened. And another friend stole my lyrics. I realized it later while I was sitting at a bar in a nightclub and I heard my lyric being sung onstage. I was devastated. When I confronted him, he said, “It was just one line.” But it was a great line.) The struggle was real.

You always see movies about how music inspires aspiring musicians to start a band. But this just may be the first and only movie about how music inspires a young journalist.

Before I became a professional journalist, I began reading my poetry to an audience. A girl wanted to interview me for a fanzine. She shamed me by putting every “um” and “uh” I said during the interview. (And later she wondered why I didn’t compliment her on the interview. Well, duh!)

When she asked who inspired me, I rattled off the names of musicians and bands. She insisted I tell her which WRITERS inspired me. Okay, Patti Smith and Jim Morrison wrote poetry, so AGAIN, I tell her about musician who inspired me. She didn’t get it. I could have said e.e. cummings, whose work I carried around with me in my wallet. But, no, I was stubborn and I wanted anyone reading the fanzine to KNOW I was inspired by music. ….And still am. I need music like I need oxygen.

Music fans, whether it’s Bruce Springsteen or not, can relate to “Blinded By the Light” replicating that intense feeling of discovering music that you relate to for the first time and how it can get you moving. Whether it’s writing, starting a band or just getting out! Like a few weeks ago when I first discovered the music of Sierra Ferrell and insisted that my husband take a trip with me to see her in Kingston, N.Y. because, I said, “She’s going to get really big and we may someday regret seeing her in small club.” So we went, and had a fantastic time. She’s the best thing in music since Amy Winehouse! Well guess what? She’s now signed to Rounder Records!

I just ordered Sarfraz Manzoor’s book, “Greetings from Bury Park.” I need to support this author who wrote such an intense account of his life. Like his quest to meet Springsteen, I am now on a quest to meet Sarfraz Manzoor. Just a few weeks ago both he and Bruce Springsteen were in New Jersey for the premiere of the movie!

I missed it. And of course I would. I’m not a big Bruce Springsteen fan. I only have one album, “Darkness on the Edge of Town” which is his best! But perhaps now I may explore more of his music. Ain’t that the way it goes? But more so, I want to explore Sarfraz Manzoor. After all, we authors have to support each other! (Especially authors who are moved by music).

Tell me, readers, how does music inspire you? 

Blinded by the Light: https://www.warnerbros.com/movies/blinded-light

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

 

Did You See the Movie?! Yes, But Real Life is Better!

Published July 30, 2019 by Maryanne

SAM_2908Me, in front of Queen tour bus a few years ago

I loved the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody.” But ever since it came out, I hesitate to wear my Queen t-shirt. Before the movie, if I wore a Queen t-shirt, true fans would speak to me about the band I loved so much since I was 12. And I’d have a conversation I’d truly enjoy; especially if fellow Queen fan was a little older than me and saw an earlier version of Queen. Or better yet, when they did the double bill with Mott the Hoople! I’m all ears to hear about that!

These days, when I wear a Queen shirt, it’s no longer about the rock band Queen, but the Hollywood movie about Queen, played by actors.

A typical conversation will go like this:

“You like Queen?”

“Yes, I saw them perform many times! Even with Freddie Mercury!”

“Did you see the movie?”

What’s wrong with that conversation? I share with you that I saw Queen perform with Freddie Mercury and you ask me if I saw the movie? I’m sorry for being a music snob, but this is just not right. A similar conversation happened regarding Elton John a few weeks ago. The song “Rocket Man” came on the radio in a store and a woman in passing said, “I love it!”

I said, “I saw him perform in concert twice. Once in Central Park, 1980; and in the ’90s at Madison Square Garden.”

I should have seen it coming…

“DID YOU SEE THE MOVIE?!”

I quickly walked away to avoid further conversation. YES, YES, YES, I SAW THE MOVIE! I thought to myself. It was a great movie! But why, all of a sudden, is a movie about an artist, played by an actor, more interesting than an live concert with that very artist performing?!  

Years ago I was working at a magazine. The vice president was an older gentleman, who happened to see Elvis Presley perform, as a warm-up act to Hank Snow! My mind was blown. I wanted details, details, details! And more details! Can you imagine seeing Elvis Presley as a warm up act?

Now imagine if I was to ask, “Did you see ‘Elvis and Me’?” What a conversation killer, right? Do you see where I’m going with this?

Don’t get me wrong, over the years I’ve seen many good movies about the lives of musicians, singers, and even criminals. But can I inspire you? Don’t stop at the movie. Instead, explore.

After I saw the movie “Man on the Moon,” I purchased anything I could get my grubby hands on about Andy Kaufman. I didn’t go around talking about the movie for months. I wanted MORE. Much more than a movie could offer. I read books written by people who knew him. I watched all the old “Taxi” shows that he was featured in. I watched Andy Kaufman in action on various television shows.

All this stuff took time to accumulate because back then it wasn’t as easy as it is today with all the internet access. Back then the internet was just taking off. Which brings me to being a young Queen fan and searching for months in the mid-1970s just to find their album Queen II in a record store. There was no Amazon back then.

But that was part of the fun! Digging for stuff about the real thing was cool. And uncovering real truths is cool. Like finding out that the REAL Mr. Arnstein wasn’t quite the charmer he was in “Funny Girl.” Like finding out the real Bonnie Parker wasn’t nearly as hot as Faye Dunaway. Like finding out the real Andy Kaufman was even more crazy than he was portrayed as in “Man on the Moon.” Like finding out the Doors concerts were much more mild than portrayed in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors” movie. In fact, I was told by a person who went to a Doors concert that they were boring.

See, this is why you can’t rely on a movie alone. Movies are often Hollywood-ized. They take snippets of a life and put them into a 2.5 hour film. It’s entertaining, but it’s not the complete picture.

When I read on a Queen Facebook page that a fan saw “Bohemian Rhapsody” over 50 times since it came out last November, I cringed. Why not spend that time exploring the real work of Queen? They have a grand library of studio albums from 1973 to the time of Freddie Mercury’s death. Plus several live albums, videos, and books. My favorite is “Mercury and Me” by Jim Hutton. I loved the book so much that I reached out to Jim Hutton, via his publishing company. This was back in the 1990s, before everyone had email. I forgot I wrote the letter and about three weeks later I received a handwritten letter from Jim Hutton himself! The letter was actually a homemade card, featuring his new kitten in a Christmas tree, since he didn’t get to keep any of Freddie’s cats after Freddie passed away.

The takeaway here is, movies are all fine and good. Yes, we all love movies. Even me.

But, don’t stop there. You can start by getting out of the theaters and going to a live show. It’s fun and exciting. Explore more of a band; not just the greatest hits. Take movies with a grain of salt. See it once or twice. If you have to see it again, wait at least a year. In the meantime you can learn more from reading books, watching interviews on You Tube, and purchasing full albums or CDs, not just the songs you like. You might just surprise yourself and say, “Real life is better!”

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (in which she mentions Freddie Mercury in both, and how he inspired her as a child, teenager, and still today!):

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Freddie Mercury, Bullied as a Young Boy

Published July 3, 2019 by Maryanne

Freddie Mercury as a BoyFarrokh Bulsara (photo found via Google Search)

The other night, my husband and I once again went to see our favorite Queen tribute band, Almost Queen (http://www.almostqueen.com/). Note that they have been around long before the successful Bohemian Rhapsody film. That said, if you’re a true Queen fan who loves the deep tracks, as well as the hits, be sure to check them out, as you will definitely hear some rare gems.

Anyway, before the show, I thought about how I’ve heard the stories of Freddie Mercury being bullied as a young boy because of his overbite. He was called a donkey by school bullies.

But did that stop him from becoming Freddie Mercury? Absolutely not.

If you’re having a hard time and being bullied, perhaps you have that special something that you can bring to the table by being YOUnique!

Check out my new video, where I speak about Almost Queen, Freddie Mercury, and how being bullied didn’t stop him from becoming a household name! (And if you like it, give me a thumbs up).

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books (in which she mentions Freddie Mercury in both, and how he inspired her as a child, teenager, and still today!):

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Youngsters Do Vinyl

Published June 30, 2019 by Maryanne

SinglesMy tattoo of the 45 rpm spindle

If I had a nickle for every middle-aged or old person who stopped me in the street and commented on my tattoo, “I bet young people don’t know what that is,” I’d have a hellavu lot of nickles. It’s almost as bad as people asking me, “How’s Gilligan?” whenever I say my name is Maryanne.

I’ve never been a fan of redundant comments, especially when they are incorrect.

Allow me to school MY generation (Generation X), and those who are slightly older (Baby Boomers)…

YOUNG PEOPLE LISTEN TO VINYL.

Yes, they do! This is not something I am making up. It’s a fact.

My husband and I are vinyl listeners and buy on a regular basis. We score records online, in record stores, and in antique/vintage shops. We always see young people buying vinyl. On Record Store Day there are more young people around to buy vinyl than older people. Young bands put out vinyl records. And they’ve been doing so for some time now.

Here’s a link to a recent article about the vinyl revival: https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/millennials-are-going-nuts-for-vinyl-revival/

But I didn’t need an article to tell me that. In my line of work (writing/journalism/speaking) or even shopping for groceries, I chat with many young people who share their love for vinyl with me. Most of them get their vinyl/music passion from their cool parents. We’re living in a time where the generation gap is closer than ever. Kids are no longer at war with their parents. They bond. They do things together (especially going to concerts). So of course they share the same taste in music. That’s not surprising at all. Thanks to tribute bands, rock movies, radio stations that didn’t cave in to modern music yet, Sirius, You Tube, and many music stream stations, kids are exposed to the good stuff. Plus, there are so many bands around that emulate music from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Like all good things, you may have to dig for it, but it’s there.

Maybe 15 years ago young people disrespected parents, and older people in general. When I was in my late 30s and early 40s, I truly felt a gap from those 15, 10, and even seven years younger than me. It was uncomfortable and not fun. But young people today are the best younger generation ever. As a 50-something adult, I have to say I’ve never enjoyed talking to 20-somethings as much as I do now!

From those 30 and younger I’ve heard amazing things like:

“I’m sick of texting and considering giving up my phone.”

“Don’t underestimate me because I’m young. My parents have a record player in the basement.”

And in response to me sharing my story about oldsters commenting on my spindle tattoos, saying that young people don’t know what it is: “Of course I know what it is. How old do they thing my parents are?”

Young people checking out vinyl is also a matter of curiosity and exploration. During evolution, we have set backs, but life becomes full circle again. Young people have ears just like we do. They want to explore the sound on a record. Young people see a movie about Queen and they want more than what is just spoon-fed to them. Like it was when I was young, they want the records, they want the liner notes. It’s not just about Freddie Mercury and Queen’s greatest hits, they want to hear the deeper tracks.

For a very long time, we were experiencing a me-me-me generation. But that’s now a thing of the past too. In a month, I’ve had several young people ask me questions about my life, rather than just talk about themselves. This new generation is flipping the switch to something more positive and genuine. So why wouldn’t they listen to something more authentic like vinyl?

So, to all my middle-aged peers…

If you see someone cool in your age bracket with a 45-rpm spindle tattooed on them (and there are many — since I got mine in 1996, I’ve met at least three people with the same tattoo!) think twice before inserting foot in mouth…

  • I’m not dating myself. Young people know what a spindle is. And I predict within the next three years you’ll see young people getting spindle tattoos themselves.
  • Young people are COOL. Give them a chance and pay some attention to them!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing, and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books:

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: Ten Ways to Become Your Own Hero” will be available October 2019. To pre-order, go here: https://kicamprojects.com/shop/be-extraordinary/

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

 

‘Pat DiNizio Way’

Published May 5, 2018 by Maryanne

Pat DiNizio Way

Pat DiNizio Way (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

Scotch Plains Township Ceremoniously Unveils ‘Pat DiNizio Way’ in Honor of Late Smithereens Frontman

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

(Artical originally appeared in Scotch Plains Monthly)

Smithereens fans, friends, family, and township officials gathered on April 17, 2018, at Montague Avenue, at the corner of Westfield Avenue, for the official Pat DiNizio Way street unveiling

Pat DiNizio, frontman for The Smithereens passed away December 12, 2017, at the age of 62. He was a proud resident of Scotch Plains.

“It’s a little bittersweet for us. Obviously, we’d rather have him than the sign,” said Paul “Paulie” J. Smith, who grew up in Scotch Plains with DiNizio. “It’s very heart warming for the town we grew up in to give him recognition. It’s emotional he’s not here anymore. Deep inside he’d feel touched and honored. He was humble, he’d be a little embarrassed about the recognition.”

Jim Babjak, Smithereens guitarist agreed. “He’d say, ‘Don’t make a big deal of it’ on one hand, but he’d be winking; Pat would be very honored.”

Babjak performed a Smithereens song, “Life is So Beautiful” prior to the street unveiling. He also gave a heartfelt speech, ending with, “He was a real trooper, he kept playing to the very end.”

Severo Jornacion, Smithereens bassist, who was able to fly in from L.A., said, “Of all places Pat lived in his life, Scotch Plains was his favorite.” He reminisced about the places in Scotch Plains that Pat took him to, like Alfonso’s Pizzeria, Stage House Tavern, and even the local Quick Check.

Band members Dennis Diken and Mike Mesaros weren’t there, but Babjak read emotional messages from them, as well as a heartrending letter from DiNizio’s daughter, Elisabeth.

Musician Rick Winowksi, who played in Pat’s other band, The Scotch Plainsmen, performed a poignant song he wrote in honor of DiNizio.

Mayor Al Smith said the he “got emails from all over the country. Best thing we could do is have a street named after him.”

Township Manager Al Mirabella said, “I wish we weren’t here. I wish Pat was here. I’m glad you are here to honor Pat. Pat was a real fan of Scotch Plains and we’re a real fan of his.”

Bill King, fan and friend, said “We’re still mourning. His voice is so full of emotion reflected in his songs. One thing was evident; how much he loved his mom.”

After each speaker at the podium shared their memories of Pat, there were cheers and tears from the audience. It was truly a moving event. After the unveiling Antoinette DiNizio, Pat’s mom, made an appearance. She proudly spoke about her beloved son to the many who approached her.

Fan Frank Lima, who spearheaded the event, said, “Pat’s one of the greatest songwriters. I’m sad the whole thing had to happen. I’m glad to get the whole ball rolling. [Regarding the street naming].”

The Smithereens sold millions of records/CDs of melodic pop alternative hits like “A Girl Like You,” “Only a Memory,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” and “Blood and Roses.”

For more information on The Smithereens, visit the official website at: officialsmithereens.com.

To see original article, including more photos by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, visit: https://rennamedia.com/scotch-plains-township-ceremoniously-unveils-pat-dinizio-way-in-honor-of-late-smithereens-frontman/

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” available on Rebel Press: https://www.rebelpress.com/product/on-the-guest-list/

 

 

The History of Motown

Published February 11, 2018 by Maryanne

IMG_1117 (1)

From left: Audience member, Librarian Kassundra Miller, Stephen Fuller, and Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

Saturday, February 10, 2018, Pear Tree Enterprises presented “The History of Motown” featuring music by Stephen Fuller.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta gave a 45 minute talk on Berry Gordy’s Motown artists, followed by live music from Stephen Fuller (https://www.fullersounds.com/).

The audience sang along and danced to artists like The Temptations and Michael Jackson.

To see when the next program is visit Pear Tree Enterprises at https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/

To book this program for your school, library, or senior group, contact Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

 

 

“The Life and Music of Freddie Mercury”

Published February 5, 2018 by Maryanne

Jayne's picture 1

Jayne's picture 2

Rob Fusari and Maryanne Christiano Mistretta (photos by Jayne DiGregorio)

Pear Tree’s Learn & Listen Series presented “The Life and Music of Freddie Mercury” (February 4, 2018) at Kinnelon Public Library, Kinnelon, New Jersey.

Maryanne, a Queen fan since the 1970s, began the presentation by talking about the life of Freddie Mercury, born in Zanzibar, an island on the East Coast of Africa; how he worked at the Kensington clothing market in England, and soon became a member of Queen; his life with Mary Austin and Jim Hutton; and his solo career.

Audience members were invited to share their memories of Queen.

Maryanne ended the “Learn” portion of the show by reciting the lyrics to the Queen song “Teo Torriatte” first in Japanese, then in English.

Then Maryanne made the audience clap to the tune of “We Will Rock You” to cheer Rob on to the stage.

Rob Fusari, three-time Grammy Award winning producer, put on an incredible performance, singing, playing keyboards, and guitar, and telling stories about each song. He performed “Radio Gaga,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “We Are the Champions,” and “The Great Pretender.”

Rob ended the show by encouraging the audience to sing the chorus of “We Are the Champions.” The energy in the room was electrifying! The audience wanted an encore, and several audience members cheered for an original, which he did.

It was a show many will never forget! Freddie Mercury would be proud.

Jayne's picture 8.jpgRob Fusari (photo by Jayne DiGregorio)

For more information on Rob Fusari, visit: https://www.robfusari.com/

For more information on Pear Tree Enterprises, visit: https://peartreeenterprises.wordpress.com/