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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) 

Mother’s Little Helper

Published May 10, 2015 by Maryanne

mother's little helperGood chemistry!

Croatian born, Polish-American chemist Leo Sternbach was the man responsible for discovering benzodiazepines — the main class of tranquilizers. He is credited with the discovery of diazepam (Valium) as well as chlordiazepoxide (Librium), flurazepam (Dalmane), nitrazepam (Mogadon), flunitrazepam (Rohypnol), clonazepam (Klonopin) and trimethaphan (Arfonad).

Valium, also known as “Mother’s Little Helper” was a big inspiration for pop culture. The Rolling Stones did a song, “Mother’s Little Helper” to praise the drug. And the novel “Valley of the Dolls” was inspired by the drug. Valium was released in 1963 and was the most popular prescription drug in America. Over 2.3 billion doses were sold during it’s peak year in 1978.

Leo Sternbach told me himself — first hand — he did not like the way pop culture glorified the drug. I had the honor to interview this legendary inventor when I worked at The Montclair Times. Mr. Sternbach was living in Montclair (where he had been living since the 1940s!) His wife had to help with the interview because he was hard of hearing — as he was in his 90s when I interviewed him!

Shortly after our interview he moved to North Carolina where he died in 2005 at the age of 97. (He worked until he was 95).

Leo Sternbach  received his doctoral degree in organic chemistry from the Jagiellonia University in Krakow, Poland. He worked for Hoffmann-La Roche in Basel, Switzerland, which helped him flee to the United States in 1941 to escape Nazis (his family was Jewish) as he was able to work in the Nutley, New Jersey division of Hoffmann-La Roche.

He held 241 patents and his discoveries helped Hoffman-La Roche excel in the pharmaceutical industry.

Leo Sternbach is in the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame and right before he died, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Leo_SternbachLeo Sternbach, inventor of Valium

valley of the dolls

Sternbach told me he did not like how Valium was glorified in pop culture

Mother’s Little Helper Lyrics

“Mother’s Little Helper” (written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard)

What a drag it is getting old
“Kids are different today,”
I hear ev’ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she’s not really ill
There’s a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day
“Things are different today,”
I hear ev’ry mother say
Cooking fresh food for a husband’s just a drag
So she buys an instant cake and she burns her frozen steak
And goes running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And two help her on her way, get her through her busy day
Doctor please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old
“Men just aren’t the same today”
I hear ev’ry mother say
They just don’t appreciate that you get tired
They’re so hard to satisfy, You can tranquilize your mind
So go running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
And four help you through the night, help to minimize your plight
Doctor please, some more of these
Outside the door, she took four more
What a drag it is getting old
“Life’s just much too hard today,”
I hear ev’ry mother say
The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore
And if you take more of those, you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother’s little helper
They just helped you on your way, through your busy dying day

Outpost in the Burbs: Willie Nile, Allison Moorer, Joe D’Urso and Joe Rapolla

Published October 19, 2014 by Maryanne

willie nileWillie Nile

Thanks to Outpost in the Burbs for second row comp tickets to a very special songwriters evening at Outpost in the Burbs featuring Willie Nile, Allison Moorer, Joe D’Urso and Joe Rapolla — all outstanding talents!

I’ve always loved Outpost in the Burbs, as I used to cover shows there when I worked as a journalist for Montclair Times. So six years later, I felt very nostalgic walking in again with my husband to see a show. Special guest Anthony D’Amato was already playing as we got there a little late. We were thrilled it was him, as we saw him earlier in the summer perform with The Smithereens and he is a great guitarist and song writer.

Here’s a song from Anthony D’Amato:

Next up were Willie Nile, Allison Moorer, Joe D’Uros and Joe Rapolla. The artists went around about four times, each singing a song and playing acoustic, though Willie Nile played piano as well. He was my favorite of the four and really brought the house down with  “One Guitar.”

Then at the end, D’Amato was brought back to the stage and everyone performed a few songs together by The Beatles and The Band.

It was a wonderful evening for my husband and I — truly an unexpected treat as I wasn’t familiar with any of the artists except for D’Amato and Nile (who I saw perform back when I was a teenager).

Here’s a taste of all the artists that performed:

Allison Moorer:

Joe D’Urso:

Joe Rapolla:

Willie Nile:

When it Comes to Reviews, Bad = Bad Ass!

Published July 31, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_3767“It’s better to be looked over than overlooked.” — Mae West

One of my favorite episodes of “Sex and the City” is when the character Smith Jerrod is the new poster model for “Absolut” vodka and referred to as the Absolut Hunk. That is, until some jealous person scrawls over the ad,  if my memory serves correctly, “Absolut Ass.” (Someone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong).

Smith Jerrod was so put off by the cruel, unnecessary act that he almost quit his acting career. Yet his gal, Samantha, encouraged him. She explained once the gays and teenyboppers embraced him he’d be a hit! And he was.

But dear readers, I’m here to tell you that you don’t need justification from fans. As an artist, writer, musician, etc. — you are already GREAT!  The fact that you are an artist willing to share your work is something to be proud of. Having the desire/will/dedication to publish (or self-published, doesn’t matter) — more power to you! AND … if you are making money to boot, darling you are so THERE!

So, now you have it all — guts to share,  people who enjoy, people who buy, and the blessing of not relying on anything else but your art for a living. Then the bomb drops … a bad review.

Thank God I learned early in my career that a bad review is the total opposite of what you’d think. A bad review is not “bad” at all. In fact, it’s “bad ass.” It simply means: people are reading! It also means people are being provoked by your work, and/or people are jealous (though I like to believe I’m strong enough to accept a bad review without using the word “jealousy” to go tit for tat with a hater). AND it can get you MORE readers — yeah!

When I was a writer in New York City for several publications at News Communications, one of the writers/editors was trashed in a “letter to the editor.”  I was new to the industry and feared she was going to get reprimanded or fired. Luckily I was wrong! The editor cheered her on and said, “People are reading you!” She became the darling of the news room.

A few years later, when I was an editorial assistant at The Montclair Times, I got my first bad review. I had written a feature article on the three tattoo shops in the town. A man from NYC, obsessed with our New Jersey newspaper, griped about hating tattoos and wondered: “…if Maryanne Christiano has any tattoos herself!”

I was ecstatic! Someone was reading me! My first bad review took me to Cloud 9!

That same man wrote letters to The Montclair Times, every three weeks, like clockwork, usually griping about something someone wrote. I saved the funnier ones in a folder. Part of my job as editorial assistant was to confirm “Letters to the Editor.” Eventually I built up a relationship with this man and we became friendly with each other. Another staff member said to me, “I can’t believe you get along with that guy!” This man was infamous for attacking the car of a NYC politician, so the fact that I got along with him was impressive.

Bad reviews don’t mean anything. They are no reflection on your character, not even your talent. Even best selling authors and the hottest rock ‘n’ roll tickets in town get bad reviews. Take for instance, one of my favorite bands, Queen. After seeing them for the third time two weeks ago, I started re-reading “The Queen Story” by George Tremlett, a book I had since I was 13.  I had long forgotten how they were trashed by the music magazines when they first came out. In fact, two journalists in very reputable newspapers trashed them after their amazing show with Adam Lambert. One was so off the money,  I was tempted to write a “Letter to the Editor” about his bad review.

“Go get ’em, Tiger!” my husband said to me. Though after a little research, I realized the journalist was around my age and a musician himself — a good one at that. I re-read the article and though I disagreed with him saying Brian May had a bad voice and his guitar solo was too long, I realized the dude was all about Freddie Mercury, and I’m okay with that. I couldn’t bring myself to trash a fellow middle-aged journalist and Freddie lover. However, his bad review inspired me to visit Google search and give the “thumbs up” for every excellent review I could find about the Queen + Adam Lambert world tour.

I rarely write bad reviews about musicians even though I’ve made a living as a music journalist for many years. Though I’ve given many bad reviews to venues I’ve received bad service, like Whole Foods and a hair salon I won’t mention because the owner stalked me down, harassed me on the telephone and demanded I take the bad review off Yelp. The only reason I did was because we had a mutual friend so I decided to take the high road. I deleted the bad review but will never forget the bad service: a stylist leaving dye and foils in my hair while she went to the bathroom to fight with her husband on a cell phone! (The result, my hair got fixed, two hours later; but she got a divorce. Bad karma, right?)

Bad reviews I’ve given other writers, I can count the times on one hand. The only times I trashed a book were two that were super popular and it was definitely no skin off their ass; and another book that criticized every band she wrote about, because to me that said, “well, then, why even bother?”

I never got people writing about things they hate when reviews come across so much more exciting when you write about what you love (and are knowledgeable about!) Bad reviews never stopped me from seeing a band, seeing a movie, buying a book or a CD. I’ve even befriended people who have gotten “bad reviews” from others. I fail to judge by anyone’s opinion except someone I really trust that knows me inside and out.

The thing I’m getting at here, is that bad reviews are just like mosquito bites. Annoying, but not nearly the end of the earth. The classy way to handle them is just ignore them.

But do embrace those who get you. Some may totally, some may a little, some not at all but like you anyway. What I’ve also learned, as a creative person, though some people may like me and not my work, others may NOT like me, but love my work. The greatest compliment ever was when it got back to me that a person who didn’t like me was trashing my character, but added, “She’s a great poet though.”

Not everyone is going to like everything about you. Some might not like ANYTHING about you. The cool thing is, it’s no reflection on you or your merit in the art/music/publishing world. The bad critic has no real power over you — especially when others are digging what you wrote and you’re selling art, books, articles, etc. and have been doing so for many years. In fact, a bad review may do many good things, like getting the right people curious or inspiring your true fans to defend you.

While there’s always room for improvement, never beat yourself up over a bad review. Take all reviews with a grain of salt. Don’t compromise your style or voice to appease a critic. And for God’s sake — keep creating!

Selling “Guest List” at Montclair Street Fair

Published June 14, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_4884Me, center, with Diane and Gerard Barros

Today was an absolutely PERFECT day to be out selling copies of my book “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” at a Montclair Street Fair.

SUPER SPECIAL THANKS to Robert Greco of Atelier Couture (http://atelier516.blogspot.com/) for letting me share a table with photographer/author/poet Robert P. Langdon (http://robertplangdon.blogspot.com/). I had a blast guys! All your friends were great too!

Thanks to:

My Pear Tree (http://www.peartreeenterprises.com/) clients Diane and Gerard Barros  (http://barrosmelody.com/) for coming out to support.

To my friends Diane and Mike McGowan — it’s always a pleasure to see them! (And if you have a copy of Guest List, Diane is in a few of my adventures!)

And to Neal Cavallo of Ladida, which has supported local artists, poets, musicians, etc. for a couple decades now. If it wasn’t for Neal’s Ladida shows, where I performed my poetry and spoken word, in the early 1990s, I would have never had the confidence to pursue a writing career! It was so great seeing Neal for the first time since the early 1990s!

SAM_4878With Robert Langdon

SAM_4879With Robert Greco

SAM_4882

The band pictured above was AMAZING!!! The best band of all three that played. They did originals and a super cover of a Smiths song. Unfortunately I did not get their name, as they were playing across the street from where I was selling. If anyone out there knows who this band is, please come forward and tell me their name!

SAM_4883A Ladida reunion with Neal Cavallo!

SAM_4887With Mike and Diane McGowan, two of my favorite people!

If anyone is interested in purchasing “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

Father & Daughter Reunited After 20 Years!

Published June 9, 2014 by Maryanne

vintage-dads-day

Well, here’s an inspiring, heart-warming story for all of you — and it’s WordPress related!

I played a role in, helping a father (my friend Bob Farina, former marine and Plasmatics roadie) reconnect with his daughter, Cheyenne!

Last September I shared an excerpt from my book “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist” (before it was published) on WordPress. It was about “Over the Rainbow” a very unique health food store in Montclair owned by Bob Farina.

His daughter Cheyenne contacted me on that blog, asking if I could help her look for her dad. Cheyenne was living in North Carolina. Here’s the original blog, with her comments in the comment section: https://maryannemistretta.wordpress.com/2013/09/17/over-the-rainbow/

I was rummaging through an old box because I knew I had Bob’s number somewhere. I finally found a number, but it was disconnected. So I figured, as a last resort, I’d write a letter to the editor of The Montclair Times to see if anyone knew of his whereabouts. The day that it was published, I got a call THAT NIGHT from a Montclair resident who knew Bob personally. She gave me his number, I called him and he called Cheyenne that very night!

You can read the full story here: http://www.northjersey.com/community-news/going-over-the-rainbow-1.1031461?page=all

Get your tissues out, you will definitely get teary eyed!

 

Saturday = Friendship Day!

Published March 8, 2014 by Maryanne

SAM_3725Linda and me!

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been putting almost every Saturday aside to lunch with a friend. Had a wonderful time today with fellow vegetarian Linda! Lunch, shopping and a walk in the park. I love Saturdays.

Like all my friends, Linda is one of the most positive people I know! Definitely a five-star day!

New Jersey has been having a helluva winter … colder than usual and one snow storm after another. But today it was warm enough for a cute jacket.

SAM_3729Anderson Park, Montclair, New Jersey