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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

 

Anti-Bullying Book “I Don’t Want to Be Like You” Now Available on Audiobooks!

Published June 21, 2019 by Maryanne

BookCoverPreview Mistretta

I am ecstatic that my book “I Don’t Want to Be Like You” published by Higher Ground Books & Media, is now available on AUDIO! (https://www.audible.com/pd/I-Dont-Want-to-Be-Like-You-Audiobook/B07TB2VKWY?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-155390&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_155390_rh_us)

Sarah Staton is the voice who made my story come to life!

My book takes place growing up in the 1970s when I was bullied in both grade school and high school. And I’m sad to say, that even in this day and age bullying continues. Children are committing suicide because of assholes who have not yet evolved. Adults are secretly emailing me, “Write something about bullying in the workplace.”

It makes me so angry that 50 years later, it’s not getting better but worse.

Bullies target those who are unique; those who speak up for themselves; those who are shy; those who are creative; those who are very smart and think out of the box; those who don’t follow the crowd; and those who are very good looking. If you recognize yourself in any of those words, you most likely were a target for a bully. Because victims are often so smart and creative, they also carry around insecurities. Smart and creative people never feel good enough. You know that old saying, a genius never sees himself as one. Bullies pick up on this and attack.

The good news is, there is no reason at all to feel shame. It’s not you, it’s them. Bullies are the ones who feel hurt, sad, unloved, ugly, dumb, so they target others to make themselves feel big. Bullies are also masters at gas lighting (making others think THEY are the ones who are crazy). It’s a manipulative way for a bully to “win.”

Truth be told, all bullies are losers. If you can’t come from a place of love, you’ll never evolve. And isn’t evolution the ultimate goal? 

I recently sent out a call for speaking engagements. I let everyone know I am READY to speak out against bullying — in libraries, schools, corporations — and I will travel.

One of the responses I received was that bullying isn’t going away.

I did not know how to answer that. From what I wrote above, you may think I agree that it’s not going away. But hear me out, I now believe differently.

I was speaking to someone in a health food store earlier today. This man asked me if I was a vegan.

I said, “No, but I eat vegan for several days at a time.” I further explained I was a vegetarian/vegan for 28 years, from ages 23 to 51. Then I started eating meat (grass-fed only, and some chicken — no pork or veal!) to get my health in order. (I went from having low blood sugar, thyroid issues, low white blood cell count, very low blood pressure/borderline anemic as a vegetarian to a person of perfect health with some meat back in my body!)

After hearing my story, my new vegan friend thanked me for being one of the leaders in the movement back in the day when it was HARD. Now it’s easy! There are more vegans than ever and you can get vegan food anywhere. But in 1986, I was considered a “weirdo” for not eating meat.

What does this have to do with bullying, you may ask? 

You see, over 30 years ago, people didn’t get vegetarians. But we’ve evolved. Now we get it. And people are health conscious and accepting. The smarter ones are getting along in harmony. THIS can happen with bullying too!

At age 55, I see myself having at least another good 30 years on this planet, in this body I rented. In the year 2049, I TRULY BELIEVE, bullying will be on its way to extinction. We will evolve and change the world. Bullies will be the new neanderthals … so over. People who love will no longer be the weirdos. They will be the WINNERS! The meek will surely inherit the earth.

I CAN’T WAIT!

In the meantime, please purchase my book or audio book, it may save your child’s life when he or she hears about how I was bullied, but grew up to be successful and happy!

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 copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

 

Popp, Bennie, and Burns: Sunday Will Never Be the Same

Published March 1, 2019 by Maryanne

sdc13108Sunday at the beach (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

Do you love Sundays?

I used to love Sundays.

Sundays were always special for me and my husband. When we first started dating, we’d spend many Sundays down the shore. On our drive down, we listened to our favorite radio show, The Glen Jones Radio Program, Featuring X-Ray Burns. (http://www.wfmu.org/Playlists/GJ/archives.html)

Jones has eclectic tastes in music. You could hear both Frank Sinatra and The Psychedelic Furs in the same set. Then there was the talk segment where Jones and Burns would muse about New Jersey subculture like our local drinking joints and pork roll (or Taylor Ham)? In fact, one time at one of their lives shows, Jones chased me trying to feed me a pork roll (or Taylor Ham) sandwich. (And I’m a vegetarian). That’s the kind of fun this freeform radio show offered. No wonder it was part of our Sunday routine.

Once we got down the shore, on a Sunday, we’d often pay a surprise visit to our dear friends Daniel and Patty Popp. Very special friends; they were our witnesses when we eloped. At the Popp’s home, they couldn’t do enough for you. With Daniel being both a cook and a musician, there was always plenty of food and music in their home—a great place to be on a Sunday.

In more recent years, my husband and I started spending more of our Sundays at home, relaxing in the backyard. Last summer, a beautiful feral cat started showing up in our backyard. We named him Bennie. He was so friendly, we fell in love with him. According to the vet, Bennie had FIV, a feline auto-immune disorder, which meant if he got sick, it would be tougher for him to get over it. But we took him in anyway and gave him a happy home. He was only 3-years-old. He was a ginger cat, sunny and bright; our Sunday cat.

They say death comes in threes. Beginning on February 1, our Sunday memories were taken from us, one by one.

Daniel Popp was in his kitchen and just finished cooking food for the homeless, something he did each month. His wife Patty found him lying on the kitchen floor unconscious. He was taken to the hospital and passed. Daniel was a genuine, good-hearted person, who was so talented and so much fun. We were shocked. Absolutely shocked. Not a dry eye at his funeral. And miss him terribly. RIP Daniel Popp.

Sunday will never be the same.

The day after Daniel’s funeral, our kitty Bennie’s health declined rapidly. We had been treating him for an eye infection—or so we thought. He was eating, but not processing the food. He was losing weight quickly and also started having tremors. An emergency trip to the animal hospital and two vet visits later, we learned he had a brain tumor and didn’t stand a chance. Even though Bennie was a little fighter, we still had to put him down—the day after Valentine’s Day, ironically because Bennie was a saint, the best cat I ever had. After we put him down, my legs buckled, and I collapsed into my husband’s arms. We loved him so much. RIP Bennie.

Sunday will never be the same.

The following Sunday, my husband and I were done. Spent. No ambition or desire to do a damn thing. But I had to get groceries. I hopped in the car and as I always do on Sunday, turned on the radio. Glen Jones was playing very sad music. During the first break, X-Ray Burns wasn’t with him to banter. Jones made an announcement that X-Ray Burns was struggling with lung cancer.

Tears started pouring down my eyes.

Jones played some more sad songs, then he came back on to say that X-Ray’s wife called him. X-Ray Burns had passed—and it wasn’t a joke.

My husband and I were already zombies to begin with, and now shared more tears together. Rest in Peace X-Ray Burns.

Sunday will never be the same.

Three lives taken from us, way too soon. Daniel Popp and X-Ray Burns were in their 50s. And Bennie was only 3.

But I’ve learned something from all of them. Daniel taught me to reach out to others. Bennie taught me to keep fighting no matter what life’s circumstances. And X-Ray taught me to stay fun and crazy because life is way too short. And with a blink of an eye, it will never be the same.

That’s it.

SAM_3017.JPGDaniel Popp, Rest in Peace (photo by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

52905284_2210313879190578_8382678320906502144_nBennie Cat, Rest in Peace

Glen JonesX-Ray Burns, Rest in Peace

(Left to right, X-Ray Burns, Glen Jones, Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta)

Sunday will never be the same. 

‘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