Montclair has music venues of all shapes and sizes, but The Wellmont Theater is a stage you only get to play when your band has made it. And THING-ONE has made it.
The band started in Spen Miles’ Glen Ridge basement, and after paying their dues at venues like Tierney’s Tavern, the now-defunct Bloomfield Avenue Cafe, local house parties and gigs at Montclair State, THING-ONE will be at the Wellmont on Saturday, February 25, opening for The Gin Blossoms.
“To be playing the Wellmont, a venue we grew up going to, will be pure glory,” says THING-ONE co-founder Joey Palestina, who remembers being in the crowd for The Flaming Lips, The National and Steely Dan—“They were all epic Wellmont shows.”
Palestina started playing with Miles in the summer of 2003, and they put together a musically omnivorous sound that has evolved over years of playing and recording. Their initial music included hip-hop and jazz elements, and their latest EP, the three-track Fair Weather Friends, puts dance-rock beats under big melodies and hooks. Continue Reading
Since Montclair’s own Pinegrove released its breakthrough album Cardinal earlier this year, the band has been touring the world and making new fans. One of the Pinegrove’s newest audiences is the staff at NPR Music, which gathered around to hear Evan Stephens Hall and crew play a Tiny Desk Concert. Continue Reading
If you have a Harry Potter-sized hole in your reading life, Montclair author Henry Neff is here to fill it with Impyrium.
The first book in a series of fantasy novels for middle school-aged readers, Impyrium is the story of Hazel Faeregine, a 12-year-old girl who is one of a set of triplets in line for the throne of Impyrium, and Hob Smyth, a 13-year-old boy who joins the revolutionary Fellowship and becomes a spy in the royal palace. Their world is emerging from a long-ago Cataclysm, and future of the magical royal family and the non-magical people they rule is, to say the least, in peril.
Neff is launching Impyrium after wrapping up his five-book Tapestry series, which also sits comfortably alongside a young reader’s Potter collection. The new book alternates between Hazel’s and Hob’s point of view, providing a way into Impyrium for any fantasy fiction fan.
Neff talked to Baristanet about the new book and the upsides for writers of Montclair as a home base. Continue Reading
As the weather gets colder and your kids need indoor options for exercise and fun, Palisades Climb Adventure is a dizzyingly high-flying day trip.
This five-story indoor ropes/zip-line course is in one of the giant atriums of the Palisades Center mall in West Nyack, NY. The concept is pretty simple: everyone puts on a secure harness with a large strap that threads into an overhead-rail system, and then you make your way across high-flying obstacles that zig and zag and interconnect in ways that are either thrilling or terrifying, depending on your point of view.
I went with “terrifying,” but my son was squarely on Team Thrilling. Once he figured out that the overhead rails would keep him from falling more than a couple of inches, he bravely crossed the wobbly bridges, sideways rope webs, narrow beams and every other challenge across the five levels of the course. There are friendly and helpful staff members on every level of the course, keeping climbers safe and helping people who get stuck or scared on the obstacles.
The amazing thing is that there are no nets below and no side rails—because you’re never disconnected from the overhead rails (you have to guide your strap through the rails even on the stairways between levels), Palisades Climb provides a perpetually on-the-edge experience.
(Full disclosure: I spent most of our two-hour visit watching my son climb while I waited nervously on the corner platforms.) Continue Reading
As parents in suburbia, we count on day care to keep our kids cared for, busy—and safe. In a new e-book called In Good Hands, journalist David Hechler suggests that we don’t always think about day care safety in the right ways, and we need to re-examine our ideas of good/bad day care options.
Hechler focuses on a notorious murder case from Irmo, South Carolina. Gail Cutro was convicted of killing two infants in her childcare facility over a stretch of nine months in 1993. As part of a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism fellowship, he spent time in SC researching the murders and trials, and he interviewed Cutro in prison.
In Good Hands not only lays out the specifics of the Cutro case, but also looks at what we get wrong (and right) about day care safety and adds an Appendix of recent interviews with experts about what parents need to be looking for and thinking about when choosing a day care provider for their children.
Baristanet: What got you interested in the Cutro murder case?
David Hechler: I’d written a book on child sexual abuse. A friend of mine—an expert on child abuse—knew that I was interested in sudden infant death syndrome and the difficulty of distinguishing SIDS from murder. She’d been consulted by the prosecutors in this case and knew that the initial diagnosis of the two babies who died was SIDS. After Gail Cutro was convicted, my friend told me about it and suggested that the trial illustrated just how tricky this issue can be. She was right.
Thinking about your initial view of the case from the articles in The State newspaper, is there anything about the case that changed in your mind after researching it for the book?Continue Reading
Since 2009, Rent Party has been putting on shows with local and national bands to benefit three area food pantries (Our Lady of Sorrows, St. Joseph’s and Oheb Shalom), support a community garden in front of the South Orange Elks lodge and run the BackPack Pals program to help food-insecure kids.
That dedication to serving those in need in Maplewood/South Orange has been baked in since the beginning. “Rent Party’s mission has remained the same since our inception: To fight hunger ‘hyperlocally,’” says Party leader Chris Dickson. “It’s the community that supports it and the community that Rent Party has become. That community is the musicians who play the shows and our volunteers in the garden and the BackPack Pals program. That community is the folks who come to the shows and support our mission.”
This season-opening show should rock that community right. Malin has a deep New York punk background and a songwriting voice that has grown into more clear-eyed rock and roll storytelling. Over the years he’s collaborated with Bruce Springsteen and Ryan Adams, and paid tribute to The Clash and The Replacements. Last year he released two records, Outsiders and New York Before the War, which cast his sturdy songs both in spare arrangements and full-on band rave-ups with crackling guitars and punchy horns.
The Brooklyn-based quartet Girls on Grass (featuring Luna lead guitar player Sean Eden) are opening the show, bringing the catchy-as-hell songs from their self-titled debut LP.
Michael Turco never shook the spell that magic cast on him as a 5-year-old kid in Wayne, NJ, and now he’s coming home with the Masters of Illusion tour at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair on October 6.
Taking the hit CW show from the small screen to the big stage, Masters of Illusion features magicians who bring the TV show’s “Believe the Impossible” credo to life, performing large-scale tricks and feats that don’t skimp on the spectacle. And among the masters is Turco, who used to spend his summers checking out the magic shows in Atlantic City and dedicated himself to mastering every trick he saw. Continue Reading
My 6-year-old son bounced in for a 60-minute session and had nothing but raves (Sky Zone offers 30, 60, 90 and 120-minute options). “The best part is there’s a dodgeball pit with trampolines,” he told me. Ultimate Dodgeball is one of four activities at Sky Zone, along with the Main Court of connected trampolines, the Foam Zone (pits filled with foam cubes) and the bouncy basketball Sky Slam courts. And at each station, the staff members are well-trained and extremely helpful.
All kids are required to wear a pair of Sky Socks, which are $2 but can be reused for future visits. The bright-orange socks have small rubber treads on the soles that help kids do maximum jumping with minimum slips and falls.
(Just in case you’re worried about slips and falls, know that Sky Zone is, too—all parents have to fill out and sign a detailed waiver for each visit.)
As much fun as my son had going to Pine Brook for some bouncing with a buddy, he came back with even ravier reviews when he was invited for a birthday party there. As with many places that offer parties, Sky Zone offers private rooms for post-bounce pizza and cake, and it’s a solid addition to any parent’s list of party place options.
Speaking of parents, Sky Zone can be a full-family workout. Adults can join in the jumping, and the Pine Brook facility even has a calendar of Skyrobics/Skyfit classes that add some bounce to your workout regimen. “Adults would like it,” according to my son, “maybe with their kids.” Continue Reading
Modern tech has gone a long way in making science education more fun for kids, and the new STEAM Works Studio in Livingston is bringing all the fun of robots, cartoons, Minecraft and more to its science, technology, engineering, arts and math classes.
STEAM Works launched its classes and camps in Princeton for kids 6-16, and recently has expanded with branches in Livingston, Parsippany, Edison and Bayonne. The menu of offerings reads like a cross-section of everything today’s kids love to do.
For kids in kindergarten through 3rd grade, STEAM Works has Nano Bots, which uses computer-connected LEGOs to teach kids the basics of robotics and coding. My son worked with his lab partners to build a motorized alligator that they hooked up to a laptop. Following along with a character-driven video, they used a simple block interface to program the alligator’s jaw to open and close on cue.
Older kids can take those basic STEAM concepts and move forward in a few different directions: Continue Reading
As you no doubt know (and now I do, too), Pokémon Go is an app on your phone that uses the camera, GPS and wireless connections to let you hunt for virtual Pokémon characters all over your house, your neighborhood, your city—heck, the whole world. There have been tons of stories circulating that range from weird to political to grizzly. And there are even reports of people getting some unintentional exercise.
Apparently, just about everyone everywhere suddenly has to #CatchEmAll.
Montclair has tons of Poké Stops all over town (The Wellmont Theater, The Rooster on Park, the Stencil mural by Lululemon) and Gyms (Edgemont Park Memorial, Applegate Farm, Christ Church on Church Street). And calling all Pokemon fans! Montclair Center will be filled with Pokemon to hunt on Thursday, July 21 from 4-7 pm. The Montclair Center BID will bait the various Pokestops with lures throughout the district to attract as many Pokemon as possible. Various shops will also be giving some special offers to trainers that night who show pictures of their captured Pokemon and the Montclair Center BID is sponsoring a contest which encourages players to snap pictures of their Pokemon sightings within the BID district and repost on Instagram. A random winner, chosen after July 28, will receive a gift card to East Side Mags, Pokemon card decks and four single scoop ice cream cones from Chocolate Works. The prizes are courtesy of East Side Mags, Chocolate Works Montclair and the Montclair Center BID.
Montclair also has a Pokemon Go Montclair Facebook group! Join to find out who is hunting and meet up with other players.
Montclair State University has jumped on the Pokemon bandwagon, bragging about its two dozen Poké Stops and creating with a helpful Pokemon GO Campus Map and NJ Monthly’s feed featured a confession that journalists are playing the game at work (and yes, your favorite hyperlocal in Montclair, too). And calling all Pokémon fans! Montclair Center will be filled with Pokemon to hunt on Thursday, July 21 from 4-7 pm. The Montclair Center BID will bait the various Poké stops with lures throughout the district to attract as many Pokemon as possible. Various shops will also be giving some special offers to trainers that night who show pictures of their captured Pokemon and the Montclair Center BID is sponsoring a contest which encourages players to snap pictures of their Pokémon sightings within the BID district and repost on Instagram. A random winner, chosen after July 28, will receive a gift card to East Side Mags, Pokémon card decks and four single scoop ice cream cones from Chocolate Works. The prizes are courtesy of East Side Mags, Chocolate Works Montclair and the Montclair Center BID (more details to come soon).
Of course, not everyone is happy about all the hunting. According to Maplewoodian.com, the Maplewood Police Department said, “As of this time we have not had any incidents as a result of the Pokémon Go application,” but warned citizens to take precautions against being lured into strange places or preyed upon by thieves. The game, according to the cops, “has the potential to be and has been exploited by criminals.”
What’s the best local source for Pokémon Go info? As always, I turned to Montclair’s No. 1 newsman…Stephen Colbert. On The Late Show, Colbert said the game is “revolutionizing the way people get hit by cars while using their phones,” and he introduced some brand-new (and not entirely serious…) characters for people to look for while watching his show. So now we’re looking for “Prawnquistador” while Colbert makes us laugh?
What about you? Are you walking all over Essex County and beyond looking for Pokémon characters? Has your phone led you somewhere shady, or is Pokémon Go proving to be the perfect distraction from election news? Tell us your Pokémon Go stories in the comments!