school of rock

All posts tagged school of rock

‘To Sir With Love’ and ‘Lean on Me’ — Black Educators That Made a Difference

Published February 21, 2022 by Maryanne
Sidney Poitier and cast of “To Sir With Love”

Yesterday my husband and I saw “To Sir With Love” on the big screen. It’s not only Black History Month, but yesterday was the late Sidney Poitier’s birthday. He died earlier this year, but had he lived, he would have been 95 on February 20, 2022. The movie was shown at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, New Jersey. This is where portions of “School of Rock” were filmed. My husband and I attended many shows at this theatre throughout the years, including their outdoor concert series prior to the pandemic.

“To Sir With Love” deals with social and racial issues at an inner city school in London. Poitier plays teacher Mark Thackeray, who is waiting to hear about an engineering job he applied for while teaching tough high school students. The movie also features Lulu in the cast of students and also singing her hit, “To Sir With Love.” I won’t give away the rest of it, for those who haven’t seen it, but I will say, I didn’t not expect to get so choked up about it. It was a fantastic movie.

While watching the movie, I was reminded of another male, Black professional who worked in the school system and also handled students with tough love. Paterson, New Jersey principal, Joe Louis Clark. I was honored to write about Clark, not once, but twice in my writing career. First for The Paterson Press, and later on, after his death, I wrote a Joe Clark tribute for Grey Journal:

Joe Clark inspired the 1980s movie “Lean on Me” which you can read more about in my article.

While one film is fictional and another is based on a true story, you can’t deny the impact these films had on society. With one more week of Black History Month, it’s a great time to check out either movie–or both.

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

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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:

Michael Nesmith at Union County Performing Arts Center, Rahway, NJ

Published April 13, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_0562Famous Union County Arts Center, Rahway, New Jersey

(“School of Rock” was filmed here!)

SAM_0555Legendary Michael Nesmith (Photo by Dennis Mistretta)

Last night my husband and I enjoyed the most extraordinary evening — a performance by music legend, Michael Nesmith. We had fifth row!

Nesmith is mostly known for being in The Monkees. But what most people don’t realize is how many amazing songs he’s written for other artists and in his solo career. Two of my favorites are “Different Drum” and “Some of Shelley’s Blues,” which were recorded, beautifully, by Linda Ronstadt. And then hearing these gorgeous songs live, by the man who wrote them, was just off the hook. I got so choked up as I held back tears, I was totally moved.

He opened up with one of my other favorite Mike Nesmith songs, “Papa Gene’s Blues.” (Side note, my cat Billy likes this song. When we play it downstairs, he comes running down! So cute!) I also love “Joanne” which shows off the diversity in Nesmith’s voice, as he does some Slim Whitman type style vocals.

Also want to mention how NICE the Mike Nesmith fans were!! Everyone was talking to us. It was like one big party. People of all ages were there. Some so old, they probably saw the original Monkees back in the day! Definitely a diverse crowd and Nesmith got one standing ovation after another!

Prior to each song, Nesmith told a story about the song, painting a visual with his spoken words, which was equally as enticing as the music itself. I could have sat and listened to him tell stories all night and enjoyed it just as much!

So, I’ll shut up and let the concert speak for itself, as I found a You Tube video of the entire show, filmed a few weeks ago in Santa Cruz. The guy who filmed wasn’t as close as we were but you will get the gist.

Enjoy: Michael Nesmith in Santa Cruz, 2013

I want everyone to enjoy the original version of Joanne: Joanne

And cutie pie Michael Nesmith, when he was a young Monkee, doing “Different Drum”:

And here is Linda Ronstadt and the Stone Poneys doing the song that made her famous, written by Nesmith:

Different Drum

Michael Nesmith, recording of “Some of Shelly’s Blues”: Some of Shelly’s Blues

The Monkees doing “Papa Gene’s Blues” (my cat Billy’s song): Papa Gene’s Blues

Note: Guitarist on “Papa Gene’s Blues” is James Burton — he played with Elvis!

SAM_0561Me (center) with Lauren Presley (left) and Suzi Colucci  (right) 

At the end of the show I ran into my friends Lauren and Susie from the punk rock band, “Candy Apple.” When I was a teenager I crashed a party they played at so I could meet them. Then a few years ago I met Suzi and Lauren on Face Book and  I was OFFICIALLY invited to their parties ever since! (Is that the coolest fun story or what?)

I’ll give a little shout out to them because they’re so awesome. Here’s one of their songs from Max’s Kansas reunion in 2010 at Otto’s Shrunken Head in NYC, playing their single “Stargazer” which I had a on 45 rpm record.

Stargazer – Candy Apple


My husband and our kitty, Billy

And when Dennis and I got home, we ended the evening listening to “Papa Gene’s Blues” for Billy, ’cause I love you and I know you love me!

(And as some of you know, my other cat Derick loves The Turtles). When it comes to music, my cats have GOOD TASTE!