...serving up your daily dish.
Another tear down, this time at the prominent intersection of Watchung and Upper Mountain Ave. in Montclair. Captured, of course, by ace lensman Scot Surbeck.
If you missed Elaine Bromka's performance in "Tea for Three" at 12 Miles West this January, you're in luck. She's doing a special show -- free -- at the Bloomfield Public Library, June 12 at 2 pm. In the one-woman show, Bromka plays Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon and Betty Ford, and the results are both poignant and hilarious. For info or reservations, call 973.566.6200 ext. 212.
We're halfway through iris season, according to the official "bloom status" page of the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. Many of the tall bearded irises are blooming late, thanks to the unseasonably cool weather. Baristanet readers Jessica Sporn and Martta Rose visited this weekend and sent in their pix.
According to today's New York Times, NJ Transit has finally gotten the message: nobody wants to sit in that middle seat. They've ordered up "double-decker" coaches with two seats on each side. (We're having a hard time wrapping our minds around an upstairs/downstairs Midtown Direct.) Still, all the social engineering in the world won't stop jerks from being jerks, will it? Commuters: chime in any time.
Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, and the Barista is on a double duckie on the Youghiogheny River in Pennsylvania. This kayak trip down the Middle Yough is the centerpiece of the Memorial Day family reunion (other side of the family, you can be sure) and is billed thusly:
The ultimate family float trip is how most refer to the Middle Yough. Its calm and scenic Class I and II rapids are gentle enough for the young and enjoyable enough for the young at heart.
Hmmm. We saw it a little differently.
ultimatelast-ever family float trip is how mostwe now refer to the Middle Yough. Its calm andscenic Class I and II rapids are gentleharrowing enough for the youngthe Barista to lose her sense of humor for four straight hours and enjoyablethe nine-mile journey is enough exercise forto cause blisters and COMPLETE MUSCLE FATIGUE in the young at heartmiddle-aged. You may especially enjoy the fact that after NO INSTRUCTION WHATSOEVER, you are launched into the Middle Yough with your 13-year-old nephew, and within seconds your boat turns around and you are heading downstream backwards because you don't know how to steer the thing. You discover that your lake kayaking skills are not only completely useless, you never had any; it becomes painfully apparent that until now every kayak you were ever in was really powered by your husband, who is now, unfortunately, in another duckie. For that special sense of invigoration, sit in REALLY COLD WATER for hours, and for that extra challenge, kayak against the wind the whole time. For special excitement, enjoy GETTING PINNED AGAINST A LARGE ROCK and watch your husband's cousin and his five-year-old daughter FALL INTO THE WATER trying to save you. FEEL UTTER DESPAIR as you try pushing your oar against the rock and discover THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LEFT IN YOU. After you miraculously break free and get to the take-out point, climb onto dry land on wobbly legs and proceed to sob. Then learn that your 12-year-old son, who was ahead of you on a single duckie, FELL INTO THE WATER downstream from you, but LUCKILY HELD ONTO THE BOAT AND IS STILL ALIVE. Return to car, where four children will fight about food for an hour until all paperwork can be completed and you can begin 45-minute return trip to hotel. Sleep.
...serving up your daily dish.
Scot Surbeck captures beautiful moments of Memorial Day in Edgemont Park. His shots tell the story of the day as throngs gather at a well-attended ceremony, including resident Canada geese having a "collective nervous breakdown from being pushed off their island, with the exception of one momma bravely sitting on her nest."
Is bigger always better? Not if it's a big box retailer like a K-Mart, but a mega Whole Foods? Bring it on. Unfortunately we're not getting it. Seems Cary Africk has been doing some investigative reporting (he has his own "Deep Throat") and posted on the Watercooler comfirmation that West Orange will score a giant Whole Foods (someting akin to the monster that ate Columbus Circle) and of course, the requisite huge parking lot. Of course, readers of Barista knew that already. Africk does stir the pot -- asking why we let that big fish get away...
The ex-Pathmark building, on Prospect next to the K Mart, will shortly be turned into one of Whole Foods "large" stores. This is great news for fans of the store (of which I am one). These stores, such as the one in New York City, are astonishing! But I did have one question: Why West Orange and not Montclair? What with Montclair's eagerness to bring "ratables" into the town, did our officials meet with Whole Foods and try to convince them to build in Montclair, rather than West Orange? A store the size of the new Whole Foods will bring in considerable tax money, not to mention jobs and shoppers who would have brought additional revenue to Montclair's other restaurants and stores. What did we do to go after this "business?" Presentations? Meetings? Tax breaks? Why did we lose? And although my "source" said the Montclair store will remain open, Why would it? In fact, the store in Montclair just transferred their liquor license out of the store. A prelude to closing?
OK, officials, or others in the know, -- tell us, did we even stand a chance of getting a bigger Whole Foods? And what about the scuttlebutt over a potential Trader Joes?
- The Bloomfield Parade kicks off at 9:30am.
- The Montclair Memorial Day Observances will be held at Edgemont Memorial Park at 10am. The Montclair Community Band starts playing at 9:45am. In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in Montclair Township Hall at 205 Claremont Avenue.
- The Glen Ridge Parade kicks off at 11am with services at the memorial in front of Ridgewood Avenue School. The parade and services are followed by a townwide picnic at Hurrell Field.
Photo by Scot Surbeck.
...serving up your daily dish.
Sudden Rain, by Maritta Wolff. Scribner, New York, 2005. 435pp., $26.00.
Maritta Wolff wrote her first novel, Whistle Stop, in an undergraduate English class at the University of Michigan. It was published to immense critical acclaim in 1941 when she was twenty-two years old, and five years later was made into a film featuring Ava Gardner in her first starring role. Wolff’s seventh and last novel was completed in 1972 and stashed away in manuscript because the author refused to promote the book and, further, refused to approach another publisher. After her death three years ago, Ms. Wolff’s estate discovered and released the book -- Sudden Rain –- for the great benefit of all of us 21st century fiction lovers in desperate search of an engrossing read, something harder and harder to find in this postmodern world where narrative is becoming a dirty word.
A prevailing theory holds that the ‘60's did not completely end until about 1974. Sudden Rain is a fascinating reinforcement of that hypothesis. Set amidst the lush landscapes, sprawling ranch houses, glittering swimming pools, smoke-filled bars, and, yes, steamy hotel rooms of L.A., the novel is a round-robin saga of the tribulations of four couples in different stages of alienation. Tom and Nedith, suffering through the dissolution of their son's marriage, are themselves pretending not to be estranged. Meanwhile, their neighbor, Cynny, would like to believe that all is well with her husband, Jim. And Cynny’s best friend, Nancy, wonders where things are heading with Dave.
In an early interview, Maritta Wolff said that her characters "have a habit of getting their own ideas...They run away and do as they please." Aside from being strategically ingenuous, this is easier said than done. The author’s pre-eminent accomplishment is that she causes us to care about her characters, most especially the devoted wives, buffeted by arguing teenagers, ignored by straying husbands, bored by days of errands, and imprisoned by interior decor. Every woman in the book is in an endless battle to preserve her self-respect. As we bear witness to these painful struggles, another of Maritta Wolff’s gifts rises to the surface.
This is her uncanny ear for marital dialogue, the ways in which husbands and wives talk to and sometimes "at" each other, the ways in which words can act as a screen to deflect entree into the deeper self. When Tom talks in hurried passing to Nedith, all he wants to do is put her off. But when he packs his bag and leaves on the pretext of a business trip and joins his lover, Hallie, all he wants to do is engage with her and share the vicissitudes of his life.
With its couplings and uncouplings, clandestine trysts elaborately covered up (but not really, because someone is always expressing suspicion), and aspects of love verging on brutality, there is a tantalizing film-noir tenor to Sudden Rain. Now that Desperate Housewives is over, you could do worse than keep this tense and entertaining book on your bedside table. I wager you will be hard-pressed to dip in for fewer than one hundred pages a night.
– Neil Baldwin’s new book, THE AMERICAN REVELATION, is in bookstores now.