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February  26

Who Needs Sangria?

In case you haven't heard, the owner of Cuban Pete's was arrested last week for serving alcohol in his sangrias. An old Baristanet friend, who moved out of town last year, decided to visit the restaurant Friday night and filed this, ahem, interesting report. Don't skip the jump. The best part of the story is about four paragraphs down.


We made the 40 minute trip from Wayne to Montclair tonight to take some friends to Cuban Pete's. One of them is from Puerto Rico and wanted to try the cod appetizer and was looking forward to a cup of good, strong Cuban coffee to end the meal. I had been there before and had a great time, especially after drinking the "non-alcoholic" sangria. I had read about the owner's arrest and was expecting maybe a 45 minute wait, but thought it was worth it.

So, we arrived at the restaurant at 7:15 and were told it would be a 45 minute wait. After having some tea and coffeee at Cafe Eclectic, we headed back over only to wait some more - we were seated at 8:30 and at a table with 3 chairs. We stood waiting for the 4th chair for about 3 awkward minutes until finally we got one.

The place was packed and we were prepared thinking they might be out of a few things and service may be slow. Our waiter came over and we said "Hi, how are you?" His response : a deadpan "Tired." OK. We placed our order quickly and clearly but received sad news - no cod fritters for our friend, no limonada sangria and the dish my other friend order was gone too. We made the best of it and carried on.

Our appetizers came quickly and were delicious.  As we nibbled away, we were treated to some live entertainment too.  First, an angry customer who must have been waiting a very long time got in a loud argument with one of the staff and Dominick.  He soon left, red-faced.  Then, Montclair's own Dick Grabowsky showed up wearing a neon orange outift with a shirt that said "Free Dominick".  He waltzed around with sangria pitchers for a few minutes.  Our friends were impressed with all this excitement.

Then, after finishing our meal, which was delayed by about 5 minutes due to missing cutlery, we were looking forward to that coffee.  As we started to order the coffee, our waiter said, "We are not serving coffee at this time."  HUH?  I was utterly confused, so I said "Do you mean you're not serving it at this minute but will a little later?" No, not serving it at all he said - too busy for coffee.  Too busy for coffee?  What kind of restaurant doesn't serve coffee?

What could we do?  We ordered some dessert and laughed it off, until we spied some younger patrons sipping something from what looked suspiciously like coffee mugs.  But by then we had already asked for the check and had had enough of Cuban Pete's.  An interesting night out in Montclair, to say the least. 

February 26, 2006 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (129)

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February  14

Friends are Like Angels Who Lift Our Feet When Our Wings Have Trouble Remembering How to Fly

February 14, 2006 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (18)

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November   9

Is There Anybody Out There Not Blogging?

A great big digital bear-hung and welcome to the blogosphere to some Baristanet regulars who've just set up their own internet soapboxes: Jerry Mosier, blogging now from anywhere in the world at JMo'sDailyRant, Miss Martta bringing us her regular blend of fitness, doggines and political conservativism at Martta's World and realtor Adrian O'Toole now blogging at Crystal Ball Real Estate.

November 9, 2005 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (18)

I Guess This Means No More Calls from Bill Clinton

Ok, can we move on from politics now?

Finally some good news for the Democrats, and they didn't even have to put up a candidate who knew the drinking age in NJ. Before we move on to Baristanet's brand of total inanity though, did anyone catch Barack Obama on the Daily Show the other night?* Smart, handsome, funny -- laser sharp. Are we ready for a black President? In fact, may we suggest that the Democrats vet all their candidates on the Daily Show before nominating one?

*As captured by Newsday:

Before the discussion could be weighed down with specifics about a controversial plan to withdrawal troops from Iraq, Stewart turned to a lighter topic: Obama's celebrity.

"It is true, I worry about the hype," Obama told Stewart. "The only person more over-hyped than me is you."

Stewart collapsed onto his desk with laughter as the cameras rolled.

November 9, 2005 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (8)

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September  28

The Latest Literary Genre: Montclair Cop Memoirs

Street_kid_to_top_copIf the occasional blurb on Baristanet about shootings and robberies just whets your appetite for reading about local crime, you're in luck. There are two -- that's right -- two new tell-all memoirs out by former Montclair cops. First there's "Street Kid to Top Cop" by former police chief Thomas Russo, just out and available either online or at Watchung Booksellers. Then there's "You'll Never Believe It," by Anthony Naturale, who joined the Montclair police squad in 1957, which is available at Barnes and Noble.

Phil Read wrote about Russo's book last week in a Star Ledger story that didn't make it online.

To be sure, Russo is meticulous, citing newspaper articles as he lays out dozens of cases. Among them: the Montclair postal massacre of 1995, to which a whole chapter is devoted; the grandmother who took provocative pictures of her young grandchildren, and whose defense sparked a debate over the fine line between art and pornography; and the murder-suicide of a mother and her three daughters, students at Northeast School, to name just a few.

And of course, the lighter side.

[Russo's] book not unlike Naturales, has a homespun, self-published flavor. There are pictures of his bride and then, years later, him dancing with his bridal-gown-wearing daughters. There's the police "baseball card" of himself as chief. There's him, again, entertaining trick-or-treaters at police headquarters and a shot of him at a shooting, not the result of a holdup, but the result of "The Sopranos" film crew.

And then there's the time Naturale was holding four holdup suspects at gunpoint and his mom drove up and said... Well, we don't want to give it away.

September 28, 2005 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (4)

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September  19

Get Well Soon

An update on our favorite 100 year old...

In June you featured Mrs. Marion Brown, the Glen Ridge resident who turned 100 years old. Well, the Unsinkable Mrs. Brown hit a bit of a rough patch last week but is weathering the storm in style. She fell in her home last Wednesday morning and fractured her hip. I was with her in the ER at Mountainside Hospital, and even in excruciating pain the Mighty Mite (down to about 70 lbs. now probably but still in fighting form) recalled all of the phone numbers and information required of her without missing a beat. Hospital staff checked her birth date all day, repeating "1905?" with a questioning look my way. Yep...1905, believe it or not!; She had emergency surgery that same day and while recuperating on the fifth floor she charmed and amazed her doctors, nurses and the rest of the hospital staff. She is now in residence at the West Caldwell Care Center. None too happy about being away from her beloved animals and her Fox News (she's really missing the O'Reilly Factor) she is nonetheless toughing it out - physical therapy and all.  Members of her Animal League (it will always be Marion Brown's League!) are keeping her company, caring for her animals, bringing in supplies and generally helping to keep up her spirits.

--Karen Banda. Bloomfield

September 19, 2005 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (11)

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September   7

Oh the Humanity

Our man in Louisiana, Warren Levinson, is safe so far, having spent the night in the front seat of an RV near the French Quarter and the day on a boat, covering the search for survivors. What we're not getting on CNN,   he tells us, is the smell.

I spent about five hours on a boat looking for survivors, operated by Brian Smelker of Lafayette, a real top-notch boatman. We found five in a three-story apartment complex. The picture of one, an elderly lady named Ernestine Hudson, is enclosed. She had high blood pressure and emphysema, and this morning fell between the bathtub and toilet in her bathroom. They had to take out the toilet to get her out.

I can use all the regular words to describe the scope of the calamity. Miles and miles of streets and neighborhoods flooded to the porch or first floor level, cars up to the hood. You can tell the water has gone down; the cars used to be flooded to the roof.

What I can’t possibly convey in words is the utter foulness of the water. It’s a vile soup of poisons and rot. Think of the sulfurous decay you smell as you pass through wetlands, then multiply by the stench of a chemical plant. Every now and then, I will catch an echo of what it smelled like, either in  my clothes or my (admittedly limited) hair, and I shudder.

Picture, by Warren Levinson: the corner of Piety and Humanity. Later, he wrote this:

OK, so you of all people know that I am not a dog person. That I make fun of it when stories about cruelty to dogs get more attention than stories about cruelty to people. Or how bizarre I think it is that of all the horror stories Mary Foster wrote from the Superdome, the one that got the most attention was the one about Snowball (look it up if you haven't heard it). But I have to say I had what can only be described as a heartbreaking run-in with a dog today. I was on a rescue boat for most of the afternoon, and we found five people stranded in an apartment building with toxic, stinking water up to the first floor. It was a great thing to witness, and both the rescuers and I were on kind of a high when it was over. But later in the afternoon, as we continued to check the neighborhood, this dog appeared at a second floor window. Unlike another dog that barked but never showed itself, this one stood quietly as we approached. But as it became clear that there was no one in the house, we started to back away. The dog did not bark, yelp, whine or complain in any obvious way. I am sure I am anthropomorphizing here, but it seems to me that as we grew smaller on the horizon, the expression on its face said, ``What? Where are you going? What have I done wrong here?'' Do I feel guilty about leaving this dog behind? No. But I also think it will be a while before I forget about this.

More on the stranded animal story in New Orleans here on the Montclair-based website Petville.

September 7, 2005 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (111)

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July  20

Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda

What happens when your kid goes to camp with the daughter of a famous rock star? Montclair writer Deirdre Day-McLeod, who blogs over at My Life as a Rabid Blog, found herself sitting in the audience with a rock legend recently. Her son went to camp with David Bowie's daughter and Bowie was in the audience for the end-of-session show.

At first though even though I knew he was with David Bowie's daughter and David Bowie's wife, I refused to believe that the guy in the bermuda shorts and the yellow rugby shirt could possibly be the androgenous Ziggy Stardust. He had a bit of a paunch and some saggy areas. How could he be that chiselled faced glam rocker? But in the middle aged face it was possible to see the features of one of rock and roll's most talented beings.

Wonder what she would have thought if Mick Jagger had been in the audience?

Anyway, with the local news in a mid-summer slump, now would be as good a time as any to solicit camp stories, current or past. What happened when you went up for visiting day? Have any camper letters to share?

July 20, 2005 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (6)

daily dish

May  24

Next Time We're Sending Scot

Fuzzy_gere_1 Our faithful correspondent JMo attended the World Economic Forum in Jordan and filed this report:


Spent two days at the World Economic Forum Dead Sea and all I got was a lousy photo of Richard Gere. (See attached). Yes that is him in the background sitting next to Jim Zogby. Sorry it is out of focus but trust me it’s him. I would have sat next to him but Ragdha Dergham (Al Hayat newspaper and BBC) frequent guest on Hardball got first dibs on that seat. At least I got a pic of her. Anyway heard a lot of interesting speeches - and panel discussions, and it seemed that Gere was everywhere.


Practically every session I attended he was there as well. Laura Bush received a lot of attention regarding her speech on the enfranchisement of women in the Middle East, and poor Shimon Peres, was seen walking the halls and practically no one was talking to him. He looked pretty lonely. On a positive note, Israel, Palestine and Jordan announced a joint cooperation agreement to build an aqueduct between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea to save the latter from completely drying up. Other news I got to see where Jesus was actually baptized – no kidding.


Poor Shimon Peres, not getting to sit with the popular kids. Jmo, for those readers in Glen Ridge and Bloomfield who are not familiar with him, is a Montclair preservationist and token conservative, as well as a regular poster to many internet boards. A frequent traveler to the Middle East, he has a salad named for him in Beirut.

May 24, 2005 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (22)

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May   8

In Honor of Those Who Bore Us

In honor of Mother's Day, we asked readers to send in Mother_icon_1poems, essays or things their mothers were famous for saying. Here's what they came up.

Said every year at Parents' Night (but not just by my own sainted parent, let's get that clear, this was the price you paid back then for attending Papist schools): "If he gives you any trouble, Sister (or Father or Brother), just belt him. Don't be afraid to belt him. Just do it. Don't even think about it. Just belt him." - Richard Szathmary

I still haven't figured this one out: "Don't eat standing up. You'll get fat legs." - Karen Eisen

"If you could do one thing right in your life, it would be for the first time!" My mom always said this to me. Fortunately, I am not now a serial killer. - Stuart Weissman

"If you kids don't stop (hitting your sister/jumping on the bed/throwing toys), I'm going to get the wooden spoon!" Nowadays these words could land you a trip to Department of Family Services, but when I was a kid, this was Mom's mantra.

To tell you the truth, I really don't remember her ever actually wacking us; usually the threat alone was enough to quell the objectionable behavior. Culprit and siblings would stop in our tracks, eyes wide and breath held as she dashed off to the kitchen. Hearing the inevitable whoosh of drawer opening would be the unofficial signal to sprint.

I'll never forget the day my brother decided to do away with this daily ritual. While Mom was unaware, he collected all the spoons and hid them. As a full-blooded Italian who was proud of her culinary skills, she had quite the collection too. I will never forget the shout that issued from the kitchen that day, when she opened the drawer. She was apoplectic. Not one of us 'fessed up about who had hid the spoons and later, predictably, we were ALL punished. But it was worth it.

To this day we (mom included) still laugh about it. - Pam Gould

My mother said this as she dropped me off at college orientation on West 116th St. and Broadway, NYC, "Get out quick before the light turns green." Later when reminded of this, she said it was because there was no place to park as all the other parents were dropping off their children. So much for motherly love. Or I guess that's what happens when you're the third child. - Amy Revell

Writing about my mother makes me wish that I had a screen name, but I have nothing to hide. My mother died 18 months ago and I've been thinking about the things my mother said, trying to interpret some of her statements as though they were poems. She said that FDR taught her to swim at Warm Springs. She said she dated Paul Newman. She said she was the nurse in the famous photo of the sailor returning from war, in Times Square, sweeping her off her feet in a clinch. My mother was a nurse, but none of these things happened. She wasn't a writer or an artist. She was just out of touch with reality quite a bit of the time, undiagnosed and untreated. The last time that I saw her, she said that when she was a child, she complained about how hot it was one summer, so they put her on a slab in the morgue, and there she slept. That's what I thought about when I got the phone call that she was gone. She never saw a therapist, but I did, and I often think about the things my mother said. - Anne Marie Nolin

May 8, 2005 in A Friend Writes | Permalink | Comments (4)

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