The latest installment of our Baristanet Profile series, where we get to know the people in our neighborhood:
Name: Doug Gillespie
Where do you live? Bloomfield, NJ
When did you move there? After graduating San Francisco State University in 1993, my wife Sandie and I moved back to New Jersey, ending up in an apartment on the south side of Bloomfield, only a few blocks away from where I first lived in Glen Ridge. But we wanted a house. We were very lucky to buy a house in the Brookdale section of Bloomfield five years later and have lived there ever since.
Where did you grow up? I mainly grew up in Glen Ridge, though we moved around a lot. Born in Red Bank, NJ, in the late 1960s, I lived in Matawan, NJ, for the first three years of my life, until we moved south to Willingboro, NJ, not far from Cherry Hill. Then when I was 5, we moved to Washington Street in Glen Ridge, a block from Linden Avenue School. But my father was offered a job with Rockwell International out in Southern California, so a year later we moved to Irvine and lived there for about 3 years. Just before my 10th birthday, we moved back to Woodland Avenue in Glen Ridge, just up the street from the high school. We love this area of New Jersey. (Sandie grew up on Lorraine Avenue in Montclair where her parents still live today.)
How do you make a living? I am an English teacher at Hackettstown High School (yes, not far from M&M Mars), where I currently teach all seniors. In addition to that, I am an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University, part of the First Year Writing Program. At the moment, however, my high school schedule precludes me from teaching any courses at MSU. I also help one of my colleagues from the high school run a Harry Potter summer camp for two weeks at the beautiful and historic Rutherfurd Hall out in Allamuchy, NJ. It is a blast! Finally, with the help of some amazing people, I recently started The 100th Monkey Foundation LLC, a non-profit organization that puts on musical events to help raise money for and awareness of worthy people and causes in the Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, Montclair area of New Jersey, with aspirations of a greater sphere of influence in the future.
Coffee, tea or … ? Weekdays during the school year, I am a tea-drinker. Weekends, it’s all about the coffee. Over the summer, I think I drink a lot more coffee.
What’s your idea of a perfect Saturday? My idea of a perfect Saturday is pretty much being with my family doing (or not doing) anything at all. Usually, it starts with sleeping in until about 8. Then I put the coffee on. As my kids are teenagers now, we let them sleep in. If we’re lucky, there is a Liverpool Football Club British Premier League game on at, say, 10. We will all watch that. It’s always nice to get outside when the weather is warm, so maybe we do some yard work, or go for a walk in Brookdale Park. If I can’t convince my wife to go out to dinner, the two of us will spend the afternoon making it. Sandie is an amazing cook, and we’re both serious foodies. After dinner, we try to catch up with our TV watching, or watch a DVD. Occasionally, I have a gig with my band Dead Dog’s Eye.
What’s your favorite local restaurant? The restaurant we’ve been frequenting most often the past few years would have to be La Sicilia on Washington Avenue in Belleville. The Palermo Pie is outta sight! We went there this past Saturday and the place was jumping. Our favorite Thai restaurant is Brookside Thai on Broad Street in Bloomfield. It’s fantastic. We also love Villalobos on South Fullerton Avenue in Montclair for their excellent tacos. Unfortunately, we don’t get to go out to eat as often as we’d like.
What’s on your nightstand? Aside from dust, I have a couple night masks, an alarm clock, the phone and a lamp. On the shelf beneath, I have books: Positively 4th Street by David Hajdu, The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, Bob Dylan in America by Sena Wilentz, Watching Walter Cronkite by Austin Kutscher, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Poe, part of The Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets Series, Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, and the 100th Anniversary Edition of The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. However, during the school year I hardly read for fun at all. It’s all show.
What are you listening to? As I am getting ready for the next 100th Monkey Foundation LLC fundraiser, I have mainly been listening to the classic Grateful Dead album Europe ’72, as well as some other albums from that historic tour, particularly Hundred Year Hall and Steppin’ Out with the Grateful Dead Europe ‘72. Before that, it was all about the Beatles – Revolver, Sgt. Pepper’s, and Magical Mystery Tour.
What are your current addictions? Our new cat Fiona is the best! She is a Siberian and the cutest thing on Earth. She loves to play tag, fetch, kick-the-can, freeze-tag, hide-n-seek—all the classics. Any box is her friend, not to mention the sunny, warm spot by the radiator. We just love her so.
Talent you would most like to have. I’ve always wished I could play the piano. It’s such a beautiful instrument, and with the organ and the synthesizer, so versatile. Some of my favorite musical moments have come from a keyboard.
What’s the worst-kept secret about Montclair? Only people throughout the entire world know about the wonderful Presby Memorial Iris Gardens on Upper Mountain Avenue, a living museum of over 10,000 irises. There are also the many amazing and talented musicians and artists. Of course, there’s the food.
What do you hope they say about you at your funeral? I hope people say I was a devoted and loving father and husband who loved his family and friends and did the best he could with what he had.
(Photo Credit: Spy Black)