high school

All posts tagged high school

Teens Deserve a Voice as Much as Rock Stars

Published September 11, 2015 by Maryanne

Keith-Richards-Jerry-Garcia-630x420Photo by Jason Merritt, Getty Images, Warner Brothers

The big news in rock today is that Keith Richard bashed the Grateful Dead, calling the music of the late Jerry Garcia “boring shit, man.” (http://ultimateclassicrock.com/keith-richards-grateful-dead-comment/).

People are all over Facebook putting in their two cents. Since I follow rock groups, it’s most people that agree with Keith … agreeing that The Grateful Dead suck.

In later years our tastes change. As a woman in my early 50s, I’ve grown to the point where I enjoy some Grateful Dead songs and will listen on a Sirius, but I have no desire to see them live or purchase their music. As a teen, my attitude was not so kind. I agreed with Keith — they were boring shit. (Sorry, Jerry!) However, unlike Mr. Keith Richard, I was bullied, relentlessly, for my opinion.

I suppose Keith Richard will never have three guys attack him in a school hallway and have a teacher turn a blind eye. (Yes, that happened to me — a little girl, skinny, and probably the smallest in the class). Simply because I didn’t like the Grateful Dead, as most of my high school did. No, it was 1979 and I liked PUNK ROCK.

So every day I was punished for my musical tastes. When I shared with my husband that three guys tried to beat me up (again this tiny little thing) he said, “What kind of guys did you go to school with? I was always taught to respect girls.” PIGS! That’s the kind of kids I went to school with. Disrespectful, disgusting, fools who didn’t know how to be kind to others. By now half of them are probably serving time.

In another incident, a German girl who got left back a year in order to learn to speak English properly, was twice my size and always picked on me. I wasn’t sure why. We were once friends but one day she was over my house, playing in the pool. My mother told her not to splash around so much. Since then the German girl harassed me. I think she had a crush on my mom, as she always told me how beautiful she was. So since my mother yelled at her, she took her garbage out on me. She never laid a hand on me, but she threatened and verbally abused from grade school throughout high school. Then one day she actually took a photograph of me while I was changing for gym class. This German girl was now 18-years-old, picking on me — still a minor at 17. Again, twice my size. I was a tiny thing. She was a woman. I was still a kid. Shame on HER. Interesting one time she was in the school bathroom, strung out on acid, crying to me that she was upset I had a boyfriend and she didn’t. I thought that was an ice-breaker and an opportunity to be friends. Feeling bad, I listened. But then she came down from her trip and the bullying resumed.

These are just two incidents, but there were many … every single day and not one teacher did anything to help.

Did I deserve this, just because I chose to listen to punk rock?

What can I say, I thought The Clash had a lot more to say than, “truckin’ like a doo-dah man.” Though the funny thing is The Grateful Dead are about love and community, right? How funny that me, the little punk rocker, was just a shy, but good-hearted kid who was a great friend given the chance. Once I became a senior, in 1980 to 1981, I was happy to defend younger children from bullies. Listening to punk rock eventually gave me confidence — and a voice.

What was really funny though was one Halloween when I decided to go to school dressed like a Dead Head. Instead of wearing my leather jacket and black Nancy Spungeon make-up, I went to school without make-up. All these hypocrites approached me telling me I was “so pretty.” They were nice to me for one day because I fit in.

If not being true to myself meant making fake friends, I wanted no part of it.

SAM_1942“Scumbag” and “Dog” were names I was called every day

So where were you, back in 1979, Keith Richard? Gathering no moss, of course. Now you are an old codger who has paid your dues. Everyone listens to what you have to say and puts in their two cents. God bless you.

But, let me take this opportunity to put in a voice to those who need it: teenagers (and children) who are being bullied and harassed RIGHT THIS MOMENT just like I was once, simply for being themselves. In the words of the late Joe Strummer, “Go easy, step lightly … stay free.”

And in my own words, DEAR TEENAGERS:

Please be strong! Don’t do anything horrible, like killing yourself. I know I wished I was dead, many times, but that is not the answer. Be strong and be YOU-nique. There is life after high school and things do change. Though adults are no better and still bully, but in more passive/aggressive ways, so there is no escape. The good news is, as you grow, you’ll find others who are just like you — and know, in your heart, that your life has a purpose. People need you and someday you’ll be the one who inspires others!

Much love from one who has been there, Maryanne xo

SAM_8410Today = 52 and happy as shit! ❤

Here is my most recent interview on anti-bullying on The Drew Carson show (my segment is about 12 minutes in) http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/maryanne-christiano-mistretta-interview_57952

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist.” This book shares her experiences with bullying. Available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

She is also an anti-bullying motivational speaker. Email for rates and availability: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Westfield High School Students Shine as Paper Mill’s ‘Rising Star’ Nominees

Published May 17, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_0832Westfield High School cast and crew of “Bat Boy: The Musical”

Photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of interviewing some students from the cast and crew of “Bat Boy: The Musical.”

This play received many nominations for the Paper Mill Play House Rising Star awards which will happen on June 4.

Note, Jersey girl and Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway received a Paper Mill Rising Star award, back in the day!

Enjoy my full article here: http://thealternativepress.com/articles/westfield-high-school-students-shine-as-paper-mil

Chapter 2 of My Music Book

Published March 26, 2013 by Maryanne

Lori BurtonLori Burton inspired me! (Photo from Google Search)

Here is chapter 2 of the music memoir I am working on. Any feedback appreciated.

CHAPTER 2 – Number 9 Dream

High school was not a fun place for me and I never got why. It wasn’t until many later years, when I started my own home-based business that I learned I am way too creative to live by any structure. And I am not a team player either.

I did my duty and got good grades in some classes like art, music theory (I, II and III), creative writing, English and child development. And got by the skin of my teeth in other areas, including gym, which is surprising because later in life I became a health advocate who exercises regularly and follows a pretty impressive health regimen.

I found it so hard to fit in with other kids. No one really interested me except a dreamy poetic soul named Sandy who I became friends with. Sandy, like me, wore satin pants to school. She once told me, “When I brought these pants I said, ‘Good-bye to Sandra Dee’” quoting from the popular movie “Grease.” Like me, Sandy was trying to find her way. But Sandy found her niche with the smart kids who wrote for the school newspaper and those who went to Bible studies; whereas I never found my niche, only a part of me could connect with any given group. I just couldn’t commit myself as others did. I was too much a free spirit.

I crossed my school days off the calendar like a prisoner counting down his jail time. I dreamed about being like the rock chicks and rock muses I saw in Rock Scene magazine. I bleached my hair blonde to look like they did – Cyrinda Foxe, Debbie Harry, Cherie Curie and Nancy Spungeon.

Needless to say, this did not fly in 1979 where suburban kids in Little Falls, New Jersey were still grasping on to the Summer of Love and thought Jim Morrison was God. All fine and good, but at the time I fancied myself a modern girl at heart and was more into The Sex Pistols (but kept my Doors records stashed away in a closet because every so often I liked hearing the song “Touch Me.”)

My room didn’t even look like the rooms of other kids – well, at least not the girls, who kept dolls on their canapé beds. The walls of my bedroom were plastered with Creem magazine covers. And my prized collection was a beautiful bookcase my mom got me, where the bottom part was large enough to fit records. My growing album collection was filling up the bookcase nicely.

Kids in school threw rocks at me because I wore a lot of eye make-up and had bleached blonde hair with the roots showing. Extremely tame compared to what rock kids eventually morphed into in years to come. Today young people have magenta hair and facial piercings, and depending on where you live, it’s socially accepted. But sad to say bullying is still a very serious issue, which no child or teen should have to endure.

Even though my musical tastes were more modern than my school mates, I did get along fine with my music theory class and spent some time hanging out with some of the guys in that class, like my friend Teddy, an easy going, laid back Dead Head who was very nice to me and allowed me into his circle, even though some of his friends didn’t get me.

Teddy had a very cool cousin, George Hall who went to another school in West Milford, but came down to visit from time to time. George and I were both very into music and became friends fast. We went to see the movie “Hair” one night and the next night George invited me over to dinner at his father’s.

His father, Warren Hall, lived in a townhouse, The Claridge House in Verona owned by his girlfriend, Lori Burton (Cicala). Lori was a famous singer and song writer. She sang back up with May Pang and John Lennon on his song, “Number 9 Dream.”

The gold record was hanging up in the dining room. She also wrote the song, “Ain’t Gonna Eat out My Heart Anymore” which was recorded by the Rascals, as well as one of my favorite bands at the time, Angel. So needless to say, I was impressed to have met her.

I got along great with Lori and she was a loyal friend to me even when not in my presence. George once told me he shared with Lori that I was having problems with other kids in school because I had bleached blonde hair and wore heavy eye make-up.

But Lori defended me and said, “So what’s a little bit of eye make-up?” Little did she know at the time her words changed my life.

While guidance counselors and the school psychiatrist felt it best that I change my image to fit in with the other students, I stuck to my guns and continued to be the “me” I felt most comfortable with.

The only time I ever looked somewhat like the other students was one Halloween when I came to school without make-up and wore jeans and a Grateful Dead t-shirt I borrowed from a girl who borrowed my clothes to be a rock chick. Everyone told me I looked pretty without make-up, but it just wasn’t me. I couldn’t wait to get back to being the real Maryanne again the next day. Back to normal. My normal.

Thank you, Lori Burton, for making me realize that everyone has their own personality and should embrace wherever they are at – at that moment.

No one should change for anyone. I’m glad I didn’t.

 By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta, COPYRIGHT 2013