montclair times

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How I Became An Award-Winning Journalist

Published April 8, 2022 by Maryanne

When I view the stats of my blog from the back-end (what the public can’t view), I see that many people are finding my blog by writing “How did Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta become an award-winning journalist?” Okay, I’ll tell you (again)….

Back in 2002, I was an editorial assistant for The Montclair Times. I wrote about five articles per week. While I was complaining about how fast people drive, my co-workers were complaining about getting so many parking tickets.

My co-worker, Angela King and I decided to write an article, asking the question, “Do Montclair policemen give out more tickets for traffic violations or moving violations?”

What do you think?

The Montclair police department were not too happy that we exposed them — the fact that they wrote out more tickets for PARKING violations, as opposed to moving violations. Honest to God, someone went through a red light, almost hit me while I was walking, and a nearby cop was sitting in his car eating a donut, what a cliche, right? I knocked on his window and asked if he saw the guy go through the red light. He insisted he didn’t. URGH!

Our story won 2nd place from the NJ Society of Journalism and I got my award in the Bloomberg building back in 2002. I still have it showcased in my home.

My point here, if you got this far, my idols are all women who speak up. You can’t be a quiet mouse and expect to make a difference in the world. If something is wrong, do not turn a blind eye to it. I look back and have no regrets in my life because I don’t let anything stop me from doing what is right. I will always fight for what I believe in. And never stop fighting.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at:

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:

Maryanne is also available for book editing and coaching. Rates are competitive.

And for positive messages, visit Be YOUnique, the Anti-Bullying You Tube Channel:

A Shout Out to Teaneck Public Library, Teaneck, New Jersey

Published March 20, 2015 by Maryanne

 Teaneck LibraryTeaneck Public Library

A shout out to Jonna Davis and the Teaneck Public Library (

Today I was honored to present my lecture: “Newsies: History of the Newspaper Industry” to an audience of over 75 people. I’ve worked in the newspaper industry as a journalist most of my adult life and this is always my favorite lecture to present.

In my presentation, I take the audience back to ancient Rome when the first “newspaper” was carved in stone, up to modern times and how the radio, T.V. and internet caused a decline in the newspaper industry.

My credentials are that I wrote for New York papers: The Westsider and the Chelsea Clinton News (which is named after an area of NYC, not the former president’s daughter). I was also a journalist at The Montclair Times for seven years. After I left The Times, I went on to write for several online publications including The Paterson Press, where my feature articles also appeared in The Herald News. I also wrote for The Aquarian Arts weekly, a newspaper that is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

For more information on my lectures, pricing and availability, please visit my website at:

CBGB (Could Be Good But…) Movie

Published October 17, 2013 by Maryanne

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMe and Emily from All the Pretty Horses at CBGBs in 2004

When I heard they were making a movie about CBGBs I was excited. I missed the 1970s heyday, as I was too young, but did catch another generation of bands there in later days (from the 1980s to 2000s) — one of them being Jayne County who is on the soundtrack for the movie.

I’m not a musician, but one night I had the pleasure of being on the CBGB stage. It was for a battle of the bands. I was a journalist and suggested that Father Divine, from Montclair, enter the contest as I recently reviewed their CD for Aquarian Arts Weekly and also did a write-up in Montclair Times. They were great — and they won the contest.

I was seated at a table of celebrity judges: John Holmstrom, founder of Punk Magazine, plus-size model Mia Tyler and musician/producer, Genya Raven. When the emcee was too drunk to continue his job, it was Genya who suggested I emcee! It was a thrill to be on the famous CBGB stage.

So, that’s my little CBGB story. I’m no one famous. I wasn’t at CBGBs during it’s heyday. And even when I was old enough to go to night clubs and see bands legitimately, I was more of a Max’s Kansas (again, tail end, not heyday), Peppermint Lounge and Ritz kinda gal.

STILL — I’m all jazzed for the movie because A. the soundtrack and B. my very good friend John Holmstrom has a major role in the film, he’s played by Josh Zuckerman.

When my husband told me the movie was playing in South Orange, I was so happy! We set up a “date night” mid-week (last night) and decided to go after voting. I washed my hair and was all set for DATE NIGHT! And CBGBs!

Everything was running smooth as silk. We voted quickly, got to the theatre (which was in a lovely artsy area near Seton Hall University) and parked with no problem. It was a gorgeous night in October.

SAM_2642CBGB movie at 7:30

SAM_2634We’re here! Going to see CBGB’s movie — yeah!

We went inside and it was just us — and another couple. The entire theatre was EMPTY.

My husband made a joke that we were at a private showing. I took advantage running up and down the aisles, jumping in front of the screen and taking photos.

Then the movie started. It looked amazing. Excellent cinematography. Then I saw my friend John Holmstrom’s name and I screamed, “YAY!”

Then …. it dawned on us …. there was NO SOUND!

My husband and the other woman in the audience went to complain to management. The answer they got was, “We’re working on it.”

Nothing happened. They just couldn’t get the sound working.

Now, my husband is very tech savvy, and the other guy in the audience worked as a cameraman for CBS. Both offered to try to get the sound going, but the management wouldn’t have it. “We can’t just let people go back there.”

Since it was a DVD, not film, the woman had a genius idea. She wanted to BORROW the DVD, leave her license there, and then have Dennis and I over their house for wine and a movie! How sweet is that? I was in shock of the kindness of strangers. But the management said, “No.”

The other couple said they were dying to see the movie because they were big CBGB goers back in the day. And the guy had a cousin who was in The Shirts. They seemed so cool and it would have been so much fun to hang out with potential new friends. But it wasn’t happening …

So, this was the only night it was playing in our area. Otherwise we’d have to drive to NYC, which is out of the question due to being actively busy both socially and business, so there are major time constraints.  (We could do it on a Sunday, but hey, it’s October, my favorite month of the year and I don’t want to be cooped up in a movie theatre in the afternoon).

We got a refund and tickets for a future movie. I’m totally bummed because “CBGB” is the only movie out I wanted to see. I’m not a movie person. The last movie I saw was “Frankenweenie” — a year ago!

“That really looked like it was going to be a good movie,” my husband Dennis said as we walked out.

So, I guess we will wait until the DVD comes out. Which means it will probably be a great movie because everything I ever had to wait for in my life was well worth waiting for!

UPDATED SIDE NOTE: I just realized Village Voice used the same headline I did in an earlier article about the movie! This was strictly coincidence.

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!)




Letter to the Editor, re: Wreckless Driving

Published February 15, 2013 by Maryanne

Letter to the Editor

I wanted to share with all of you a letter I just had published in The Montclair Times:

I’m so glad this was published because maybe SOME DAY people will get behind the wheel and think of other people besides themselves and how fast they want to get somewhere.

It was bad enough being a witness to the crazy driver in a school zone, but I know, in my heart, if I EVER had to be a witness to someone hurting a child, it would probably be the worst thing that could happen to anyone.



child traffic

A Sauce To Die For!

Published July 14, 2012 by Maryanne

The following is an article I wrote, published in The Montclair Times, January 11, 2006, after I interviewed Sopranos actor, Joseph R. Gannascoli, who had created an all natural Italian pasta sauce.

Quite a few people got a kick out of the fact that Gannascoli admitted to me — a reporter — that he was a food fence!

I asked him, “Is this ON THE RECORD?”

He said, “Yes.”

So, here is the full article, one of my favorites that I ever wrote — ENJOY!

The Sauce of All Sauces: ‘Sopranos’ Actor Joseph Gannascoli Creates Sauces ”To Die For’

By Mary Anne Christiano of The Montclair Times

Most chefs say their sauce is to die for, but when the chef is a gangster, he might mean it a little more literally.

Or maybe not. After all, this chef only plays a gangster on TV.

Joseph Gannascoli, who plays Vito Spatafore on “The Sopranos,” the noted series on HBO cable television, has crafted natural, additive-free sauces to be introduced in his new book “A Meal to Die For.” Both the book and the sauces made their debut on Tuesday, Jan. 10.

There are three sauces to choose from: “Roasted Garlic and Eggplant,” “Wild Mushroom” and “Sunday Sauce.” According to Gannascoli, his sauces feature ingredients, such as wild mushrooms, not often used in other sauces on the market today. The garlic in the “Roasted Garlic and Eggplant” sauce is roasted, not sautéed, which makes the taste sweeter, and there is sherry in the Sicilian “Sunday Sauce.”

Gannascoli, who recently lost 160 pounds, said he tries to eat healthy and that’s why he decided to concoct sauces without any preservatives. “I’d like to see my sauces in Trader Joe’s,” he said. “It’s a novelty.”

While the sauces start out with pretty basic ingredients, Gannascoli suggests doctoring them up. For instance, olives and capers can be added to the “Sunday Sauce” and put over fish. “If I wanted to cook mussels, I can add white wine to the ‘Sunday Sauce,'” he said. Gannascoli also suggests putting the “Wild Mushroom” sauce on pizza.

Before Gannascoli got into acting, he was a chef for 20 years. “People always loved my sauce,” he said. Leaving law school, Brooklyn-born Gannascoli decided to open up a restaurant in Manhattan.

The self-taught cook has been inventing dishes since his youth. He said, “When I was a kid I wanted to be this great chef. All cuisine is interesting, Japanese, New Orleans, Italian …”

During the 1980s and 1990s Gannascoli fulfilled his childhood dreams by opening up a few restaurants while dabbling in acting. But he said he always got bored and started gambling. After losing $60,000, Gannascoli paid off his debts and decided to pursue acting in Los Angeles. He made a few movies but couldn’t take being away from home.

“I went home, opened up a few more restaurants, didn’t gamble as much,” Gannascoli said.

Then Gannascoli got the break he was waiting for, being cast as the character Vito Spatafore in HBO’s Emmy Award-winning show, “The Sopranos.”

It’s possible that Gannascoli’s fictitious character in the show about organized crime in New Jersey lives in Montclair. “I think my home is in Montclair, or close to it,” he said. Gannascoli lives in Long Island and is not too familiar with the area.

After reading a story about a gay character involved in organized crime, Gannascoli decided he wanted his character Vito to be unique and suggested they make him come out on the show. When asked if Gannascoli’s character Vito is anything like him, he said, “No, I love women too much. I just got married!”

However, the character in Gannascoli’s book, “A Meal to Die For” is so similar to Gannascoli he says it’s almost autobiographical.

“It’s based on my life,” he said. “It’s a culinary novel of crime. I think it would make a great movie. It has food. It has the mob. It’s funny.”

The lead character, Benny Lacoco, is a “food fence” who wants to become a great chef. Lacoco moves hot items such as olive oil and expensive wine.

“I was a food fence for five or six years,” said Gannascoli. “But I never got ‘pinched’ [arrested] as they say.”

But even as a food fence, Gannascoli stayed true to his exquisite culinary tastes — if the quality wasn’t there, he said he wouldn’t sell it.

In the future, Gannascoli hopes to get into a bigger food line. He said, “Barbecue sauces, spreads, olive oils … I want to pitch my own cooking show. I want to expand and do as much as I can, while I can.”