the clash

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Teens Deserve a Voice as Much as Rock Stars

Published September 11, 2015 by Maryanne

Keith-Richards-Jerry-Garcia-630x420Photo by Jason Merritt, Getty Images, Warner Brothers

The big news in rock today is that Keith Richard bashed the Grateful Dead, calling the music of the late Jerry Garcia “boring shit, man.” (http://ultimateclassicrock.com/keith-richards-grateful-dead-comment/).

People are all over Facebook putting in their two cents. Since I follow rock groups, it’s most people that agree with Keith … agreeing that The Grateful Dead suck.

In later years our tastes change. As a woman in my early 50s, I’ve grown to the point where I enjoy some Grateful Dead songs and will listen on a Sirius, but I have no desire to see them live or purchase their music. As a teen, my attitude was not so kind. I agreed with Keith — they were boring shit. (Sorry, Jerry!) However, unlike Mr. Keith Richard, I was bullied, relentlessly, for my opinion.

I suppose Keith Richard will never have three guys attack him in a school hallway and have a teacher turn a blind eye. (Yes, that happened to me — a little girl, skinny, and probably the smallest in the class). Simply because I didn’t like the Grateful Dead, as most of my high school did. No, it was 1979 and I liked PUNK ROCK.

So every day I was punished for my musical tastes. When I shared with my husband that three guys tried to beat me up (again this tiny little thing) he said, “What kind of guys did you go to school with? I was always taught to respect girls.” PIGS! That’s the kind of kids I went to school with. Disrespectful, disgusting, fools who didn’t know how to be kind to others. By now half of them are probably serving time.

In another incident, a German girl who got left back a year in order to learn to speak English properly, was twice my size and always picked on me. I wasn’t sure why. We were once friends but one day she was over my house, playing in the pool. My mother told her not to splash around so much. Since then the German girl harassed me. I think she had a crush on my mom, as she always told me how beautiful she was. So since my mother yelled at her, she took her garbage out on me. She never laid a hand on me, but she threatened and verbally abused from grade school throughout high school. Then one day she actually took a photograph of me while I was changing for gym class. This German girl was now 18-years-old, picking on me — still a minor at 17. Again, twice my size. I was a tiny thing. She was a woman. I was still a kid. Shame on HER. Interesting one time she was in the school bathroom, strung out on acid, crying to me that she was upset I had a boyfriend and she didn’t. I thought that was an ice-breaker and an opportunity to be friends. Feeling bad, I listened. But then she came down from her trip and the bullying resumed.

These are just two incidents, but there were many … every single day and not one teacher did anything to help.

Did I deserve this, just because I chose to listen to punk rock?

What can I say, I thought The Clash had a lot more to say than, “truckin’ like a doo-dah man.” Though the funny thing is The Grateful Dead are about love and community, right? How funny that me, the little punk rocker, was just a shy, but good-hearted kid who was a great friend given the chance. Once I became a senior, in 1980 to 1981, I was happy to defend younger children from bullies. Listening to punk rock eventually gave me confidence — and a voice.

What was really funny though was one Halloween when I decided to go to school dressed like a Dead Head. Instead of wearing my leather jacket and black Nancy Spungeon make-up, I went to school without make-up. All these hypocrites approached me telling me I was “so pretty.” They were nice to me for one day because I fit in.

If not being true to myself meant making fake friends, I wanted no part of it.

SAM_1942“Scumbag” and “Dog” were names I was called every day

So where were you, back in 1979, Keith Richard? Gathering no moss, of course. Now you are an old codger who has paid your dues. Everyone listens to what you have to say and puts in their two cents. God bless you.

But, let me take this opportunity to put in a voice to those who need it: teenagers (and children) who are being bullied and harassed RIGHT THIS MOMENT just like I was once, simply for being themselves. In the words of the late Joe Strummer, “Go easy, step lightly … stay free.”

And in my own words, DEAR TEENAGERS:

Please be strong! Don’t do anything horrible, like killing yourself. I know I wished I was dead, many times, but that is not the answer. Be strong and be YOU-nique. There is life after high school and things do change. Though adults are no better and still bully, but in more passive/aggressive ways, so there is no escape. The good news is, as you grow, you’ll find others who are just like you — and know, in your heart, that your life has a purpose. People need you and someday you’ll be the one who inspires others!

Much love from one who has been there, Maryanne xo

SAM_8410Today = 52 and happy as shit! ❤

Here is my most recent interview on anti-bullying on The Drew Carson show (my segment is about 12 minutes in) http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/maryanne-christiano-mistretta-interview_57952

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta is the author of “On the Guest List: Adventures of a Music Journalist.” This book shares her experiences with bullying. Available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/162903908X

She is also an anti-bullying motivational speaker. Email for rates and availability: maryannechristiano@gmail.com

Aquarian Arts Weekly Makes Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame

Published May 12, 2012 by Maryanne

I am thrilled that New Jersey’s Aquarian/Arts weekly has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!

Aquarian debuted in 1969, but I discovered it when I was a teenager, circa 1980. I’d walk to the Quick Check across the street from my high school to buy the magazine when I was 16 or 17 to see what bands were playing. Not that the information did me any good, as we didn’t have “all ages” shows back then. So, the big thing, for me, was seeing what bands were in record stores signing autographs, or performing at Great Adventure.

Other than getting music news, the Aquarian played a role in my career — on a few levels. It was the first newspaper to ever publish a letter that I wrote. At age 17, I trashed another letter writer who put down punk rock. My letter had to be at least 500 words (hand-written, as there were no home computers for the middle class in 1981) because it took up an entire column! I defended punk rock and told the world that teenage girls knew that The Clash stood for much more than “Mick Jones is so cute.” And what great people The Plasmastics were because they were so loyal to their fans.

When I was 19, I started designing crossword puzzles by hand (the American Society of Mechancial Engineers later published one in their newsletter). Again — by hand — because there were no home computers to do these things on. While my idea for a rock ‘n’ roll crossword puzzle was declined back then (they later had someone else do them!) I got to speak on the phone with the founder, James Resinbrink, pitching my idea!

By age 28, I made it in the Aquarian again. This time, it was modeling for a Fender guitar promotion ad for Long & McQuade Music (a Canadian music chain, and the only store in the U.S. was in New Jersey!)

I was dressed in a black teddy, in the best shape of my life, with cherry red lipstick, and the headline to the ad read, “How Would You Like to Take This Baby Home?” And in a subhead, underneath, “Of course we mean the guitar!” Ooh-la-la!

Friends that I haven’t heard from in years called me up to say how “killer” that ad was!

A few years later, my friend, actor, Scott Schiaffo, had a feature in the Aquarian because he was the Chewlies man in Kevin Smith’s film “Clerks.” During this time, 1994 (I was 30), I was on a compilation tape with Scott, called, “See It Feel It Hear It Vol. 1.” I read my own poetry, with Scott playing guitar in the background. Scott promoted this tape in his article and once again, my name was in print in The Aquarian.

And finally, in 2002, at age 39, I had my own goth column in the Aquarian! I got to interview amazing people like: The Nuns, Diamanda Galas and Lydia Lunch!

During that time period I also did CD reviews and part-time copy-editing for The Aquarian.

The goth column was a short run, but I didn’t mind because I was working full time at another newspaper and also deejaying in NYC.

Who knows if I’ll ever be a part of The Aquarian again. It’s not something I’m actively pursuing, as I’m pretty burnt out on writing about music since during my career I’ve also written for music.com, Punk Magazine (which is also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) and participated in a column called “On That Note” for The Montclair Times.

There may have been more things of significance with my involvement with the Aquarian that I’m forgetting due to the fact that just so much that has always been going on in my life.

But, wow, I’m so happy that a music newspaper from New Jersey, that played a role in my life made it big time!

My husband and I will save the special pull-out section, as an ad for his 1980s band, Pharoah is also in there!