New Jersey

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My Story Featured in an Upcoming Queen Book

Published October 21, 2021 by Maryanne
The above will be featured in an upcoming book by Richard Houghton

I told the story so many times about reaching out to Jim Hutton–and that he wrote back to me. I’m excited to have this story in an upcoming book so the rest of the world can know what a great guy he was. I highly recommend “Mercury and Me” for a true perspective of the relationship between Jim Hutton and Freddie Mercury. It’s poignant and at times hilarious.

After all these years, I still cherish the card. Now you can too, this is it! The kitten’s name was Minky.

Jim Hutton’s kitten, Minky, from a Christmas card he sent me in 1996.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino – Atlantic City, NJ

Published November 10, 2020 by Maryanne

NJ Musicians, promoting one of my favs, Debbie Harry

My husband and I recently stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel in Atlantic City. It was so cool I had to give them a big shout out via a blog.

First of all, I’d like to point out that my husband and I are diehard music fans, not “Greatest Hits” types, nor music streaming types. We like to have the actual albums/CDs/tapes. (And I’ve been that way since I was a kid. I wonder how many people had Cher’s “The Way of Love” single who know the flip side “Don’t Put It On Me” was just as great? I was always about both the A-sides and the B-sides.

That said, I went expecting nothing more than a fab time with my husband. We’re a great couple who make our own fun. As we were making our way to our room (we got lost–this place is huge!) I heard Blondie music. The song “X-Offender” which was not a big hit. I was shocked, and immediately got silly and started singing. Followed by that I heard Interpol and Generation X. Bands you don’t hear too often.

I’ve been to the Hard Rock in NYC and Atlanta, and have seen so much rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, but what got me the most excited was a letter Buddy Holly wrote to his family while he was on the road, before he hit it big.

Here, you can also see Elvis’ Rolls Royce, Joan Jett’s hand-written lyrics to “Bad Reputation,” costumes worn on stage from rock and pop stars including Ann and Nancy Wilson, Prince, The Beatles, and Cher, to name a few. There’s also guitars, footwear, and other artifacts. Not to mention lots of shopping. (A side note, the Hard Rock clothing and jewelry line is incredible. Shirts/sweaters/hoodies are form-fitting, cozy, and durable. Jewelry is also well-made).

In the Cafe itself, the food was good. The only issue I had was they were playing more sports videos than music videos. It is the Hard Rock Cafe, right? But that didn’t stop my husband and I from having fun.

There’s also a pool and spa. The room we had offered a super view of the city and water. But most impressive about the room is that they use soaps, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion from a company that doesn’t test on animals! I always bring my own stuff because I’m a cruelty-free supporter, so imagine how thrilled I was to see that!

The Hard Rock Hotel took great precautions due to Covid19. As you entered, your temperature was shown on a screen. There are social distancing Beatles “records” painted on the floor situated 6 feet apart. People stood on them while they waited on lines for restaurants and cafes.

Stores were careful too. You weren’t able to try stuff on, which made clothes shopping impossible. That was the only drawback.

I’m sure people want to know about gambling. I’m not a fan. Not for any moral reason, it just doesn’t amuse me. But, yes, gambling was in full swing.

The hotel staff was the best ever. They truly give the high hospitality. Everyone was so friendly and efficient. Service dogs are allowed inside the hotel and casino.

I highly recommend Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Atlantic City.

For more information, visit: https://www.hardrockhotelatlanticcity.com/

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

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, 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: Love Cats

Visit Maryanne’s You Tube Channel here: Be YOUnique

Over 50 Modeling

Published October 21, 2020 by Maryanne

DSC-6670

October 2020, Weehawken, NJ

I was honored to work with photographer Joseph Shade of Crimrise Photography, last week. He’s an incredible photographer and we had a great time working together.

Autumn in New Jersey is absolutely amazing. It was so windy, especially by the waterfront, but as you can see in this shoot — it worked in our favor!

With this shoot, I want to encourage all women over 50 that we are still beautiful, relevant, and modern! I turned 57 on August 19 — and am proud of it!

Jeans by Democracy; shoes by Katy Perry Collections; Eye glasses by Guess.

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

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, 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: Love Cats

Visit Maryanne’s You Tube Channel here: Be YOUnique

20 Things I Learned in 2020

Published September 21, 2020 by Maryanne

Twenty Things I Learned in 2020

  1. Life can change in an instant; embrace NOW!
  2. Grandma was right, “When your time is up, it’s up.” But if it’s not, 2020 taught us one thing — live for today; it’s a gift.
  3. I’m not as afraid of modern technology as I thought. Giving classes via ZOOM is FUN!
  4. Outdoor dining is fun too. The wind blows your long hair in your mouth as you eat, but that’s okay. Fresh air is good.
  5. If you can change and roll with the punches, you’ve nailed this!
  6. You can eat all the kale you want, but meditation is the ultimate in feeling good.
  7. During a major crisis, you can still thrive and be in control. April 2020, I made more money than I ever did in my life.
  8. Taking in a feral kitten is love. We can’t control the world, but we can embrace what we have in our own homes. Having a little soul to feed, train, and adore is the purest your heart can be!
  9. I can sing well when I put my mind to it.
  10. I did not write that sixth book during COVID19. And that is okay. Being lazy is okay.
  11. Discovering new parks in New Jersey is fun.
  12. Social distancing at restaurants is romantic, sitting far away from everyone else is like having the place to yourself.
  13. A crisis can bring others together, but don’t be blinded by this fact. People can still be jerks fighting over politics, smoking in public places, and cutting you off in traffic. We’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go.
  14. Being locked down was NOT boring. It was fun. I loved spending so much alone time with my husband and lots of reading.
  15. Belonging to online shopping clubs like Stitch Fix and Daily Look, and having a personal stylist, is so much better than shopping in stores! I may never shop in a boutique again!
  16. Even if you’re not a fan of phones and apps, just belonging to Amazon Prime alone is worth it. Products coming to your home within two days without shipping charges is a wow for me!
  17. Staying home more often is healthier! It was a breeze staying in shape this spring and summer because I ate out less. Even with take-out or dining out on the weekends, I managed to stay in shape.
  18. You don’t miss indoor concerts when you can see live music outdoors.
  19. I was never a gym person. Now I’m the go-to person for recommending the best online home training videos. (One example: Lucy Squad!!)
  20. Now that indoor dining is an option again, choose restaurants that are more “old school” (where the owner comes to your table, where older people go). Sports bars and trendy vegan restaurants are are nightmare during this time–short staffed, long waits even with reservations, and people smoking in the dining areas because staff is afraid to say something to them. Try places like farm-to-tables, take-out places with a few spots for dining, and even diners. During these times, in my experiences, these are the types of eateries that truly have their act together.

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

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, 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: Love Cats

Visit Maryanne’s You Tube Channel here: Be YOUnique

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

 

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

West Orange Arts Council Event

Published May 5, 2018 by Maryanne

DSCF2086Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta and Carol Black-Lemon, artist

As a journalist, I’m usually covering stories on the weekend. Today was the first Saturday I had free in a long time. I looked up NJ Events and saw that the West Orange Arts Council was having a Mother’s Day Shopping Boutique event. For those in the area, it’s happening again tomorrow (Sunday, May 6, 2018) from 1 to 5 p.m. at 551 Valley Road, West Orange, New Jersey.

This event was so cool, I just had to blog about it! Check out all the links and maybe you can guess which artists I purchased from. It was a tough choice!

Carol Black-Lemon (www.blacklemonart.com) has original paintings, plus handmade jewelry.

Vivienne O’Neill (https://www.etsy.com/shop/vivienneoneill) has unique handmade fashion accessories, home furnishings, and all-natural beauty items, including natural soap made with goat’s milk.

JDenaro (https://shop.aboutfacejdenaro.com/) is a fashion designer who has unique t-shirts, pillows and much more.

Sheila N. Kibutu (http://www.shiiscollection.com/) has incredible jewelry.

DSCF2089Sheila N. Kibutu, jewelry artist

I hope you enjoyed checking out all the artist’s websites and remember to buy local whenever you can! ❤

For more information on the West Orange Arts Council, go here: http://www.woarts.org/

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is an author and award-winning journalist. Her latest book, “The Gypsy Smiled” can be purchased on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9

Stay Wild — Wildwood, New Jersey

Published September 7, 2017 by Maryanne

DSCF0144The gorgeous, retro, Starlux Hotel

Of all the places to travel, the one place I keep going back to is New Jersey’s Wildwoods. This hot vacation spot really does have it all. Whether you want to relax in the pool or hot tub — or on the beach; or enjoy nightlife, the boardwalk, and good eats, it’s just pure magic. People come from all over the world to vacation here. I’ve been coming here since I was a little kid and am always happy to come back again and again and again with my husband; even off season!

DSCF0101Outdoor patio at Epicure

Of course vacationers can pig out on every kind of Boardwalk food you can imagine, but I preferred the healthy route. It’s awesome when you can come home from a vacation weighing less than you did when you left for vacation! And Epicure really did the trick enticing my healthy palate. It was one of my favorite dining spots on the trip. I had a vegetarian chili with a beautiful salad, that featured the best miso dressing I ever had in my life.

DSCF0110Salad at Epicure

DSCF0158Beach Creek Oyster Bar & Grill

And then for even more good food and a nice dose of romance, head over to Beach Creek Oyster Bar & Grill and watch the sunset. Hint: If you don’t want to wait for a table inside, just go out back for appetizers. I had a huge salad of shrimp and lump crab meat; and a half dozen oysters, which satisfied and filled me. I never saw a restaurant that had an appetizer list three pages long.

DSCF0074Morey’s Piers

And, of course, you can’t forget the super long boardwalk, with several piers of amusements. It’s the best at night, when it’s all lit up. Check out that full moon in the background!

DSCF0078

Wildwood is known for preserving it’s mid-century aka “doo wop” architecture, which is why vacationing in the Wildwoods is more than a vacation — it’s a transport back in time.

DSCF0168Two-tiered Merry Go Round

These photos do no justice to the greatness that is The Wildwoods. You’ll just have to visit and see for yourself.

And for other Wildwood enthusiasts, I leave you with five famous words — “Watch the tram car please!”

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is an award winning journalist and three-time author. A lover of retro, her fictitious book “Love Cats” takes place in the 1980s. Get your copy of “Love Cats” on Amazon today: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YBGVJQS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

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) 

Pop Rock Music Icon Tommy James Inducted into NJ Hall of Fame

Published February 20, 2017 by Maryanne

tommy-james-photo-from-carolTommy James (Photo used courtesy of Carol Ross-Durborow)

This article originally appeared in The Verona/Cedar Grove News (New View Media)

Pop Rock Music Icon Tommy James Inducted into NJ Hall of Fame

By Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

Tommy James, said he is “very honored” to be inducted into the NJ Hall of Fame, which will be held in Asbury Park in May. The Cedar Grove iconic musician has 23 gold records, nine platinum albums, and over 100 million records sold worldwide.

“Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Crimson and Clover,” “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Mony Mony,” “Draggin’ the Line,” “Sweet Cherry Wine,” and “Hanky Panky” are just a few of his many hit records. His songs have been covered by other famous artists like Prince, Joan Jett, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Idol, Dolly Parton, REM, Carlos Santana, and The Boston Pops.

James’ music is heard in 31 films to date and numerous television shows including “Breaking Bad,” “Criminal Minds,” “The Goldbergs,” and “Aquarius.” You can also hear James’ songs in commercials. His “Crystal Blue Persuasion” is now the theme song for Crystal Cruise Line.

Born in Ohio and brought up in Michigan, James has been living in New Jersey almost 45 years. He’s lived in Clifton, and now resides in Cedar Grove. “I love it in New Jersey,” he said. “The weather’s moderate. The people are fun. It’s right by New York, where I have to be. I don’t think I can operate anywhere else. You’ve got the ocean, New York, Philadelphia. You’re in the center of the universe. Nothing is like New Jersey.”

While James has spent such a long time in New Jersey, he’s been in the music business even longer – 50 years! Regarding his endurance in the biz, he said, “I look at three generations of people in concert audiences. The music has never not been on the radio. I’ve been very blessed.”

James started playing music when he was 4-years-old and his grandfather brought him a ukulele. “I learned everything I could,” he said. “I started singing right away.”

His mom, who played piano, got James an acoustic guitar after he saw Elvis on TV. “The ukulele went out the window,” he said jokingly.

In addition to Elvis Presley, James was greatly inspired by the first generation of rock ‘n’ roll. “Gene Vincent … Buddy Holly,” he said. “Then The Beatles came along.”

Always encouraged by his folks, James taught himself to play acoustic, then graduated to playing an electric at the age of 10. He started his first band at 12, and got his first gig at 13. James graduated high school in 1965 and by 1966 his first hit, with The Shondells, “Hanky Panky” exploded.

“That’s how the good Lord works,” said James.

As a writer of so many hits, James says that inspiration for a song can come from anywhere. “I’m always looking on billboards for a little phrase,” he said. “I like to start with chord progression and it will tell you where it wants to go. ‘Crimson and Clover’ started with a title.”

He feels lucky to have had so many other notable musicians’ interpretations of his music. “I’m very flattered,” he said. “It’s always interesting to hear how another artist covers your songs.” His favorite is Prince’s version of “Crimson and Clover.”

James’ critically acclaimed autobiography, “Me, the Mob, and the Music,” was listed on Rolling Stone magazine’s “Best Music Memoirs” and is now in the development for a film, with producer Barbara De Fina, whose credits include “Goodfellas,” “Casino,” “Cape Fear,” “Color of Money,” “Hugo,” and the most recent, Martin Scorsese’s new film, “Silence.”

Matthew Stone just finished the screenplay for the film. His credits include “Intolerable Cruelty,” “Man of the House,” and “Big Trouble.”

James may have a cameo appearance in the film. “I may be a corpse,” he said jokingly, referring to his career which is now spanning 50 years and still thriving.

Now working in the studio on a new album, “Alive,” James expects an April release. “This is an album with eight new songs and four remakes,” he said, “A lot of nice little surprises.” One of the surprises includes an acoustic remake of “Crystal Blue Persuasion.”

Being able to thrive in the music business for 50 years and still have fun makes James feel so lucky. He said, “It’s been an amazing journey to be a lifer in this business. The fans, and the good Lord, I thank for the longevity and staying focused. That has meant a lot.”

For more information, visit: https://www.tommyjames.com/