Op-Ed: Lessons on Sustainability from New Jersey’s Bike Summit

BY  |  Saturday, Apr 02, 2016 2:30pm  |  COMMENTS (0)

BG HeadshotThe following Op-Ed was submitted by Essex County Freeholder Brendan Gill:

As part of my ongoing efforts to promote cycling and walking opportunities in Essex County, I recently attended New Jersey Bike and Walk Coalition’s 7th Annual Summit in Princeton on February 27th. Cycling and pedestrians advocates from all across the Northeast were there, bright and early, to share their thoughts on how our state can learn from other states and cities how to create safer and more efficient bike paths and a more cyclist friendly culture. Continue Reading

Flic Spa Shares A Love Story on Valentine’s Day

BY  |  Sunday, Feb 14, 2016 9:00am

flicEvery couple has their own way of communicating. Flic Spa owners Lerrick Santos and Oliver Dimaya have been together for 24 years. Lerrick, on the Flic blog, shares how his definition of love has evolved.

Valentine’s Day is this Sunday, which led me to thinking about love. Romance is definitely in the air, since both branches of Flic Spa have been sold out for Valentine’s Day weekend, for months now. I’m proud to say our spas have been venues for countless anniversary celebrations, date nights and even some marriage proposals. We are honored to be a part of our clients’ love story.

Speaking of which, the movie Love Story was two years old when our family moved to America. The theme song, written by Francis Lai, a French man with an Asian sounding name, was a huge hit with great staying power. My father brought home the Easy Piano version of the sheet music, so he could enjoy the lilting melody played live at home.

That is, until he heard my version, which sounded no different from the padfooted interpretation by our cat Precious, strolling along the piano keys My mother came to the rescue, since she was our family’s genuine musical talent, nurtured by two years of childhood piano lessons and authenticated by first place wins at a string of singing contests during her teen years. Her rich, alto voice garnered cash prizes and inexplicably, a solid teak bookcase and a ukulele.

“A bookcase and a ukulele,” I said, incredulous. “For first place. At a singing contest?”

“I guess it is strange,” said my mother. “Hoy! It’s an honor. Now play.“

She was out of my sight, but I knew she was wincing throughout my performance. Next came the coaching: “You’re not playing it with any feeling!” or “You’re just plowing through it!” and “You play like an animal. With hooves!” I knew she was right. To my defense, the sheet music was littered with black, angry notes, clearly written by a madman with a grudge against child pianists. Playing Love Story felt like walking against the wind, along the edge of a cliff.

The sheet music’s cover, in stark contrast with the dangerous music within, featured a languid portrait of the movie’s lead actors, a strapping Ryan O’Neal and a doe-like Ali McGraw. On the bottom was the movie’s romantic tagline: “Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry.”

“What does it mean?” I asked my mother, pivoting the topic away from my piano playing. Plus the irony was stunning — I must have said ‘sorry’ a hundred times under my breath, after playing every wrong note.

“When you’re in love, you don’t say sorry.”

“Sorry for what?”

“For bad things. When you get older you’ll understand. Now, do your homework.”

“And why can’t we watch it? Bonnie Kessler’s parents let her.”

“That’s why Bonnie is failing in school – don’t tell her that. Now, do your homework, or I’ll give you something to be sorry about.”

“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

“Ay, naku!”

Spoiler alert. If you haven’t seen Love Story, the plot goes like this: Boy meets girl; Girl Dies; Boy Cries; You Cry. I wondered if the writer of that sentence wrote it in a fit of inspiration, or if it took many discarded versions: Continue Reading

Blog: Putting Aside Our Petty Differences

BY  |  Thursday, Dec 10, 2015 11:00am  |  COMMENTS (1)

Evan Cutler & Warren Zanes. (Photo credit:  Lucian Zanes)

Evan Cutler & Warren Zanes. (Photo credit: Lucian Zanes)

On Friday night at the Montclair Public Library, Evan Cutler will be interviewing Warren Zanes (both Montclair residents) about his new book “Petty: The Biography.” The Q&A will be followed by a set of live music with Warren and his band. The event is free to all Montclair residents. Reserve tickets online here. This blog post is written by Cutler:

Friends told us we’d love Montclair because it was a special place— bustling with writers, musicians, scholars, and people who worked in film and television. When our family moved to town back in 2004, one of the first people I met was a guy named Warren Zanes. And he happened to be a writer. And a musician. And a scholar. And yes—he worked in both film and TV.

We became fast friends. I had known of him from his days in the Del Fuegos –a Boston-based rock band he played in with his brother Dan back in the 80s. His family had just moved here from Cleveland, where he had been working as Vice President of Education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As our friendship blossomed, I got to know another side of Warren—one I could not get my head around. And that was his obsession with Tom Petty.

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Blog: Say NO to Rooftop Addition on the Montclair Police Building

BY  |  Monday, Sep 28, 2015 7:00am  |  COMMENTS (18)

policeLinda Cranston is co-founder of the Save Upper Montclair Facebook group:

Say NO to Rooftop Addition on the Police Building Again! Residents have to ask officials and our town planner to do the right thing for our town.

The Gateway 2 Redevelopment Plan seeks to place a two story addition on the roof of the historically designated Police Station/1st Municipal Building, even though it is protected and a key building in our downtown historic district and therefore the exterior cannot be altered.

Even though, The Secretary of the Interior Standards for Historic Preservation Brief #14 States:

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Blog: Stepdog

BY  |  Monday, May 18, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (3)

eddiesadAs odd as it sounds, I finally made peace with my stepdog Eddie in Montclair.

A 40-pound Blue Heeler mix with dark spots on white fur, Eddie and I had been waging war for nearly ten years, ever since I stayed over at my then boyfriend Jim’s townhouse in Los Angeles and his dog peed outside the bedroom door.

The message was clear — “He’s mine.”

When I fell in love with Jim, I had braced myself for two stepkids. Never, ever did I worry about a stepdog. But in trying to find my place within my new instant family, Eddie was the one I couldn’t win over. He barked at the sight of me. He stood guard and tried to intercept me whenever I moved in Jim’s direction. He jumped between us when Jim and I tried to kiss or dance. He behaved like a jealous mistress – one capable of biting — who knew who had come first. Jim got him from a rescue place exactly four months before we started dating. I was the intruder.

When several years into our marriage we moved to New Jersey, I thought I had found my opening. I tried to leave Eddie behind.

“He’s a California dog,” I told my husband. “He’s used to perfect weather and sunbathing. He’ll be miserable on the East Coast.”

“He’s family,” Jim said.

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BLOG: RIP Latrena May: Working to Prevent Future Loss in the Wake of Tragedy

BY  |  Monday, May 11, 2015 9:00am

Latrena May VigilThe following is a blog post by Kristin Wald, an Advisory Board Member of Start Out Fresh Intervention Advocates (S.O.F.I.A.)

Latrena May was a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a teacher, a neighbor, a woman, a person. Latrena May was all those things and more when the father of her child shot and killed her in front of her East Orange home as she flagged down a police officer.

At a Friday night vigil for Latrena in front of East Orange City Hall, a lot of people said a lot of things about her death being a terrible loss, a horrible act, a tragedy. And that is all too true. It is true every time. And that’s why we must do more than lament losses; we must work to interrupt the cycle of domestic violence that allows situations like Latrena’s to become deadly.

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My Mother’s Madness Was My Secret

BY  |  Sunday, May 10, 2015 3:30pm

anne-marie with mom

About a year after I was married, I went into therapy. I was afraid that having children would make me turn into my mother. I know. That is a common worry, but I feared that becoming a mother would make me mentally ill, like my mother.

We were a Catholic family. Five kids born over six years. Not a lot of money. I was the oldest, but not the firstborn. I came along just ten months after my parents’ first child died shortly after her birth. My parents took a lot of pictures of me as a baby. I can imagine their joy that I had survived. I grew up in the days of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best, before the words “dysfunctional family” would be used to describe a category of memoir.

We lived with my maternal grandparents until I was about six. Then we moved into a house my parents built from a kit, on a lot they bought in a suburban neighborhood. We had less than many of my friends and our neighbors had, but I thought we were pretty much like everybody else. We ate dinner every night at six, knelt beside our beds to say our prayers, and went to church on Sunday.

I didn’t think my mother was unusual. She was a good cook. She sewed and she had a lovely flower garden. She was active in the PTA and was a den mother for the Cub Scout troop. She worked as a nurse in the pediatric ward of the local hospital on weekends. As kids we often made cards for her patients. I thought she was beautiful, and I told her so as she got dressed up and put on makeup on the rare occasions that she and my dad went out. Continue Reading

Blog: A Declaration of Peace, So We Can Have Some Progress

BY  |  Thursday, May 07, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (87)

Baristanet-BlogsIn a few short weeks, impossibly, my youngest child will graduate from Montclair High School following the footsteps of his brother and sister and closing a seventeen year journey with the Montclair school district for our family.

My sister once said, jokingly, that she wouldn’t have any more children because she wouldn’t want to do PTA again. Many of us can appreciate that sentiment, but I cannot regret any of the hours I have spent reading with kindergarteners, cooking for class projects, hosting Toasts for Teachers, running book fairs or participating in the endless fundraisers to buy books for the library or send kids on field trips.

Perhaps most significant were several years I spent on the School Action Team at MHS, where I found I could be actively involved, make my voice heard and hear others’ voices. We effected real change. Partnering with Principle James Earle, a school administrator committed to working for excellence and to hearing about what works and what doesn’t, we were able to start slowly turning the tanker in a better direction, and I believe the students at MHS are getting a better deal than they did five or six years ago.

But oh, how far we still have to go. And oh, how unlikely it is that we will get there, unless the teachers, administrators and parents work together.

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Matthew Frankel: Our Children Deserve Better, Our Community Deserves Better

BY  |  Monday, Mar 02, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (46)


Each of us needs to be aware that over the last few years Montclair’s public servants, who want only the best for our children, are being bullied and attacked.

Come to a Board of Education meeting. Go on social media. Attack is the tactic of choice by a small group of people in our community.

They use buzzwords like “McCarthyism,” and “corporatization.” They cite easy to understand, political driven and poll tested reasons for the state of our District. They disrupt meetings like the AGAP group, where good people are trying to come together to build consensus. They create lawsuits against Board members. They issue OPRA, after OPRA request to the our school’s headquarters. They publicly question the integrity of long serving, beloved District staff. Most of all, they assume the worst in anyone who may disagree with their point of view. This is the playbook we now have grown accustomed in Montclair. If you look at these actions, solutions or ideas are not offered, only blame and criticism.

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Blog: Protect Historic Status Of Upper Montclair Train Station

BY  |  Monday, Feb 16, 2015 10:30am  |  COMMENTS (4)

Baristanet-BlogsThe following blog post is from Scott Kevelson, President of the group, Friends of Anderson Park:

Because Anderson Park is directly south of the Upper Montclair Railroad Station, Friends of Anderson Park has deep concerns about New Jersey Transit’s efforts to remove the station from the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

Once federal preservation regulations are removed from the train station, the genie is out of the bottle: NJ Transit would have more freedom to develop and Anderson Park could be adversely affected by inappropriate construction across the street. Building on or beside the station could alter the park’s viewshed and destroy the historic feel not just of the park but of the Upper Montclair Village.

Upper Montclair Railroad Statio

A fire significantly damaged the station in 2006, but fortunately its historically significant porte-cochere — now the restaurant entrance — survived. The entire station was carefully rebuilt under preservation guidelines to ensure that it evoked the feel of the original 19th-century station and that it meshed with historic Upper Montclair. For more than 120 years, the station has been tightly interwoven into the architectural, historical and cultural fabric of Upper Montclair, and the train shaped our town into the suburban commuter community it is today.

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The Montclair Film Festival is one of the great joys of living in the area.

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