Got Talent GR?

Monday, Feb 28, 2011 7:02pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Think you’ve got what it takes to be the Glen Ridge Idol? Whether you sing, dance, play an instrument, tell jokes, or whatever, you’re invited to audition for the annual town wide talent show, open to all residents, regardless of age or skill. Deadline for entries is Friday, March 4th. Auditions are March 14 -15.

The Talent Show is at 7:00 on March 18, in the Ridgewood Avenue School Auditorium (stage rehearsals March 16 – 17).
To enter, e-mail Brian Fisher at Brian.P.Fisher@verizon.net

Maplewood Man Struck and Killed While Changing Tire

BY  |  Monday, Feb 28, 2011 6:13pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and the Newark Police Department are investigating a fatal hit and run that took place Sunday night about 11:45 p.m. when 47-year-old Maplewood Douglas Hodgson of Maplewood was struck and killed while changing a flat tire in the area of Routes 1 & 9 South, near the Pulaski Skyway.

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Hot From The Kettle: Organic. Local. Sustainable. Market in Montclair

Monday, Feb 28, 2011 4:30pm  |  COMMENTS (5)

Last month Hot From The Kettle visited Market, now located at 12 Church Street, Montclair, to experience their new Church Street digs, and their new executive chef, Tre Ghoshal.

Chef Tre joined Market in November 2010. Chef Tre, who is of East Indian descent, has been cooking since he was thirteen. “It’s all I know,” he says.

And cooking is all he needs to know; he’s a natural.  Chef Tre is imaginative, passionate, artistic, and intuitive. He prepares his dishes with confidence and moves about the open air kitchen with fluidity and focus. Continue Reading

Oscar Night in Maplewood was Musical Magic

BY  |  Monday, Feb 28, 2011 3:07pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

While most of Baristaville was waiting for the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to hand out the 83rd round of Oscar Awards (my bets were right on the money, btw), around 65 people headed over to the Highland Place Bar & Grill in Maplewood to witness an incredible musical performance in Baristaville’s newest live music venue.

The event was the mastermind of Maplewood newcomer Nat Grauman — a former music booking agent and manager who now has a corporate gig. “I missed being involved in music,” explained Grauman. “This is really a labor of love for me.”

Grauman saw the opportunity to create live music events in this musically-oriented community that had no venue. He teamed up with Highland Place’s like-minded owner Chris Farrow, whose similar vision of a neighborhood concert setting had compelled him to build a stage and sound system in the back of his restaurant. “Before this, there were no places in town to hear live music. This sets us apart,” said Farrow. While they’ve had local bands perform regularly since opening in June, Sunday night was the first Highland event that offered nationally-known performers.

Nat Grauman and Ellis Paul

Urban folk master Ellis Paul — an old friend of Grauman from his music industry days — and rising star Liz Longley provided the audience with a highly memorable, up close and personal acoustic show. Think of the intimacy of a living room concert with better acoustics, excellent food, a full bar and wait staff.

If you’ve never heard of Longley, you will soon. A recently graduated songwriting major from the Berklee College of Music, the 23 year old is soulful beyond her years. While she actively tours with performers including Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, Nanci Griffith, Amos Lee, Colin Hay, Crowded House, Jesse Colin Young, Jonathan Edwards and Livingston Taylor, it’s doubtful that she’ll be an opening act for long. Longley released her third CD, Hot Loose Wire, last July and is the 2010 1st Place Winner of the BMI John Lennon Songwriting Scholarship Award for her song Unraveling. But enough with the credentials… once you hear her sweet and sultry voice, filled with gut-wrenching honesty, you won’t care about her pedigree.

As for Paul, well, I think it might be impossible to listen to him sing and not become transfixed by his intelligent lyrics and extraordinary voice. At times, I almost thought he was harmonizing with himself. His voice was alternately a riveting whisper and a powerful force to be reckoned with. Paul’s ability to seamlessly transition between vocals and playing the harmonica was noteworthy. Essentially, Paul’s songwriting looks into the soul of America and pulls out nuggets of truth, which he delivers with sincerity and humanity. It’s no wonder that the Woody Gutherie Foundation recognizes his contributions.

Given their proximity to the audience, it was clear that both performers genuinely enjoyed interacting with their listeners. You can’t fake something like that, and it doesn’t necessarily come hand-in-hand with talent. Both were quite funny and dared to reveal their emotions, both in lyric and stage chatter. For example, after a song about her recently broken heart, Longley assured the group that she didn’t need to be fixed up on a date with anyone’s brother/son/friend, thanks anyway. Paul sang happy birthday (with a twist) to two audience members, one celebrating her 81st. When he stepped off the stage, away from the microphone and surrounded himself with his listeners — he called it a folk singer lap dance — you had the feeling that he was your own personal bard. His charisma and charm up close have quite the affect.

The musical magic that defined the evening radiated both from the performers themselves, and from the audience, whose good fortune it was to venture out on Oscar night and find such a neighborhood gem in the Grauman/Farrow event partnership. Next up will be KJ Denhert on March 26. Oh, and Ellis Paul says he’ll be back, too. The Highland’s food and wine were a big selling point for him, apparently. Stay tuned for details.

Photos by Walter S. Oliver Photography

Coffee with…Natty Bumpercar

BY  |  Monday, Feb 28, 2011 1:00pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

Montclair surely has no shortage of interesting characters who perform, act or showcase their unique talents in the township or in the surrounding area, but this fellow — who calls himself Natty Bumpercar — has to be amongst the most colorful. An animator, artist, comedian and director, Bumpercar (who declined using any other name in this article) was formerly a graphics and web designer for the New York Times before it outsourced his entire department a few years back. When he’s not occupied with his design consulting business, Bumpercar produces art and humor that is refreshing, whimsical and extremely amusing.
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Red Cross Blood Drive, 3/2

BY  |  Monday, Feb 28, 2011 12:32pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

The American Red Cross will conduct a blood drive on Wednesday, March 2, 12:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the Women’s Club of Glen Ridge. Anyone aged 16 (with signed parental consent) and older who would like to donate can register and schedule an appointment here.

Happy Wet Seat Monday

BY  |  Monday, Feb 28, 2011 12:00pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

Is grey and wet an improvement over bright and white? For me, the answer is an absolute yes.

Commuters pay a price in almost any weather, however, and today’s rain left our local commutefromhell blogger in a bit of a puddle on her trip in.

Read her post here.

Cary Africk: Budget Process Update

BY  |  Monday, Feb 28, 2011 10:31am  |  COMMENTS (7)

This past Saturday morning the Council heard the last presentation in the budget “hearings.” As in prior presentations, departments outlined some expenditures, and salaries, and tried to categorize the services they provide, separating “critical” services from other.

As part of this budget process, I had hoped for a series of committees to review various aspects of town expenses and revenues, with an eye to significant change, both on the spending and revenue side of things. The Board of Education successfully did this and indeed, the day after we concluded 2010 municipal budgeting I tried to institute the same procedures with the Municipality, to no avail.

We did form a single, Operating Budget Advisory Committee, and they have been trying to put together specifics for going forward, but it appears to be slow going for them. They have yet to present their report, but are planning on doing so on the 8th of March. Given that the Council must vote on the introduced budget before March 11th it is unlikely the Council will be able to incorporate any specific changes they might suggest, in time. They are a very talented, and very hard working group. We should find a way to take advantage of their expertise, this year.

The budget has been difficult to handle. I come prepared with a “corporate” mind set to analyze expenses and revenue. To look at variances and to forecast. The form of the data this — and probably other municipalities have — makes this extremely difficult. On the salary line alone, for example, an individual might do work for multiple departments. Or, as it turns out, an individual might do work that can be “charged off” to debt, e.g. the town engineer working on a capital project. And looking at individual departments total spending on salary and wages, for example, and trying to make sense of a trend means nothing when you don’t know how many people have been in the department over the years. Or if a function within a department has been “spun off” with its accompanying expenses and personnel.

One thing that does come through is the need for data, and management reports. Both Councilor Murnick and I had discussed with the prior manager the need for additional high level staff within finance. Not only did that not happen, the finance department lost one member (and then lost the CFO). In order for analysis to be done someone needs to do it.

All this being said, here’s what stands out from Saturday:

Councilor Baskerville spent considerable time encouraging the Manager to look at reorganization. I concur and asked specifically whether, for example, the number of directors could be reduced. In particular, in years past, both Community Services and the Water/Sewer Utility were one department with one director. As we remove some responsibility from Community Services, e.g. outsourcing of parks maintenance, perhaps it even makes more sense now.

Councilor Baskerville and indeed the Council spent over an hour on the Recreation Department. There seems to be strong feeling that it could be “outsourced” to a non-profit. I don’t see how, but see no harm in the suggestion, i.e. issue an RFP for an organization to run the recreation department, as a non-profit entity.

Recreation presented both programs, and expenses. We are, in effect, subsidizing activities (expenses less fees) to the tune of $400,000. Our fees are dramatically lower than surrounding towns for a broad range of activities. Suggestions were made to reduce/eliminate the “subsidy.” Council members are against raising fees. I am not. I think this a better solution than outsourcing.

Code enforcement discussed their role in correcting code infractions. While almost 2,000 “warnings and other notices” are issued, summonses amount to approximately 400, or $40,000. Two of the five enforcement officers are being let go. The Director made a fine presentation pointing out that what the Department does involves much effort, and results cannot be measured in fines. Code enforcement also has responsibility for the Environmental Department. The Mayor explained how this has brought in significant grant money and is an integral part of who the town is.

The Fire Chief presented, and raised extreme concern over the number of fire fighters that are being planned to be let go, and the possible endangerment to the Glen Ridge contract which is worth almost $1MM in revenue to the Town. That contract is up for renewal. I suggested outside consulting help be brought in to see whether additional efficiency could be accomplished with the Fire Department. The Chief says this has already been done, and offered to send me the report. I eagerly await it as the Chief says the report confirms we are currently operating as efficiently as possible and, indeed, should have even more staff. Continue Reading

Bloomfield Oil Spill

BY ,  |  Monday, Feb 28, 2011 9:00am  |  COMMENTS (26)

It wasn’t a spill of the environmental disaster type, and thankfully the substance in question wasn’t petroleum based or toxic. Think more in the category of Chinese food oil, and then drip the slippery stuff all the way from Broad Street (near Waverly Terrace) in Bloomfield to Main Street, East Orange. Continue Reading

We’re Rooting for Our Hometown Girl, Anne Hathaway

BY  |  Sunday, Feb 27, 2011 8:28pm  |  COMMENTS (2)

Anne Hathaway isn’t a nominee for Best Actress, but the Millburn High School graduate, profiled earlier this month in the Star Ledger, is a co-host of this year’s Academy Academy awards.

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Thanks to Rose for the many good meals, and great moments with family and friends. Rest in peace.

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