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May   1

Boldface Names Mingle in Montclair

If Dorothy Parker was still alive, she would have been at the big MEWS party last night at the Montclair Art Museum, where all the local literati swigged mojitosMojito with palm-tree sized mint (rumored to have been imported from Colombia) and swapped business cards at the speed of light. Seen (and forgive us for not being comprehensive here) Pam and Dick Satran, Alice and Larry Dark, Anne Marie Nolin and Bob Adler, Neil and Roberta Baldwin, Julia Roberts (the Glen Ridge one) and Adam Phillips, Liza and Havis Dawson, Warren Levinson, Monica Abbott (sporting a chin-length wig and Binky Urban nametag), Mary Ann D'Urso, Dana and Deborah Jennings, Benilde Little, Jolie Solomon, Susan Weinberg, Tim Harper, Hedi Molnar, Frank and Laurie Lico Albanese, Rosalee Blooston and JMo, Kalindi and Bruce Handler, Fred Strasser and Mary Hickey, Fran Bartowski, Nancy Star, Christina Baker Kline, Sasha Troyan, Valerie Block, Sharon Dennis Wyeth, Elizabeth Ludas, Jennifer Braun, Pat Berry, Rachael Egan, Karla Dougherty, Margot Sage-El and of course Barista luminaries Debbie Galant, Liz George and the elusive Betty Albright. Missing: Dottie Frank, away on book tour, and Phil "Scoop" Read.

Ok, so, any business transacted last night, kids? Any book deals signed? We're thinking there's enough literary talent here to put on a Montclair Writers Conference. Pam, you have to time put that together, right?

May 1, 2005 in Our Favorite Diversions | Permalink


All right, I'll bite. What's a MEWS?

And who are all these people? (I know who you are, Debbie, your sisters-in-arms and JMo, but noone else.) Guess I need to get out more.

Posted by: MiloG | May 1, 2005 3:34:54 PM

Sorry, MEWS = Montclair Editors and Writers. As for who all these folks are, Google 'em.

Posted by: Barista | May 1, 2005 4:07:09 PM

I'm very proud to say I know exactly one of the couples on that list. Guess I'm not of the luminati! Thank goodness.

Posted by: Marshall | May 1, 2005 4:57:00 PM

r we suppose to know who these people are?

Posted by: s. | May 1, 2005 5:55:31 PM

Mostly writers and book-related people-- I recognize the names of several authors whose novels I've read.

Posted by: latebloomer | May 1, 2005 6:06:22 PM

Gee, a regular who's who of petit bourgeois suburban New Jerseyans! You have to be kidding listing all those names! I bet you are!

Posted by: Egg and I | May 1, 2005 8:20:29 PM

MEWS is sort of like studio montclair but for writers. last night was the first time i was unable to attend the party because of a family commitment, and i was sorry to miss it. part of what makes montclair such a fun town are all the great writers--funny, smart, talented, warm and chatty people who may or may not be petit bourgeois. every year pam satran has helped put together a MEWS cocktail party at great personal expense of time and energy. thank you pam, for being so great and i am so sorry i couldn't be there.

Posted by: fran | May 1, 2005 10:53:44 PM

Okay, I gather Dorothea Benton Frank wasn't there. (It's interesting that she writes not-bad, if somewhat pulpy, novels about the Low Country from her suburban fastness in Montclair. Shouldn't she at least summer in Charleston?) But the party itself, kind of self-congratulatory, no? And tame? Not a whole lot of un restrained revelry going down, I hope the Barista throws a more bacchanalian sort of party. And Jon Katz didn't show? (Or doesn't rate mention? I kinda think he does.) I also thought Montclair shaded more literary lights than you've listed above. My favorite part of a fairly tepid evening was noting that the "alternative" name tags slapped on backs were occasionally misspelled. It is, for example, "Ben Bradlee," not Bradley as in the former Knick-senator. Great Brinley rums (nice Brinley people. too), however, and pretty good mojitos, although I think the mint sprigs should have been "muddled" at the bottom to impart flavor as they are in mint juleps, instead of simply sticking up from the glass like broccoli stalks, and with the leaves themselves safely above all the alcoholic "action."

Posted by: cathar | May 1, 2005 10:57:05 PM

i may be misinformed, but i have met dottie frank a few times and i think she may have grown up in sullivan's island. and what does "self-congratulatory" mean? is it something like this:
writer #1: I say, we are a jolly bunch. look at my nice shoes.
writer #2: why, they're pips. Hush Puppies! bet they cost you a pretty penny on ebay, eh wot?
writer #3: yes, yes, lovely. Say, i have just had a piece on penny stocks published in institutional investor. aren't i pleased as punch with myself.
editor #1: Institutional investor? You don't say! why you'll be beating the pussy off with a stick, you old roue.
writer #4: oh, we are a clever bunch, i love us.

Posted by: fran | May 2, 2005 9:09:49 AM

Apologies to mojito connoisseurs who may have gotten their cocktail later when the evening was in full swing. I began the evening briefly muddling the lime, mint leaves and homemade simple syrup in each drink before adding the ice, rum and seltzer. However, once I found myself "in the weeds" and mixing drinks at warp speed, the whole muddling thing was simply not possible. As an alternative strategy, I encouraged each guest to "stir them as you go," knowing the mint leaves I placed in the bottom of each glass would be bruised by the straws and thus further infuse their flavor.
...and yes, the rumor is true: the mint in your mojitos arrived in Miami from Columbia on Thursday afternoon and was shipped directly to me. Gotta love FedEx! -Eric

Posted by: MEWS Mixologist | May 2, 2005 10:17:04 AM

nice, fran. i can almost see these characters, in their monocles. you make institutional investor sound like a publication of the royal society.

saul bellow once wrote somewhere about a literary gathering as a place where people go to be ecstatic at the sight of one another.

Posted by: walleroo | May 2, 2005 10:18:43 AM

I had three mojitos and they were heavenly...

Posted by: Liz | May 2, 2005 10:19:07 AM

I find this a bit disturbing. Fran was there, I gather. And so was Cathar. And Liz. How many Baristanet characters are actually professional writers and editors? So why do you all bother giving away your gems for free? (Or are you on Barista's payroll?) And what's next? Is Butch a pseudonym for Anna Quindlan? Is ROC really Jonathan Alter?

Posted by: walleroo | May 2, 2005 10:55:06 AM

After three - and they were pretty stiff - I can well imagine you found everything around you heavenly, Liz.
But "local" mint wasn't good enough. Or is the imported stuff (and I never knew Colombia was known for its mint crop as opposed to other forms of vegetation) still cheaper than the going rate at Whole Foods?

As for Ms. Frank, she writes convincingly about an area she comes from. Yep. You bet. I just wonder if even she, as a best-selling author, has been priced out of the Low Country. That would be pretty scary.
And the event was so self-referential (the Chaucer work "Parliament of Fowles" crossed my mind Saturday night), although what fran above so accurately characterized was, I feel, more what passes for "dialogue" on egullet.com, where they really do sound like that when posting to each other.
Another great moment from Saturday night that should not pass unnoted: on the table holding copies of books by Montclair authors was one titled "The Essential Guide to C-Sections" (or something like that). Probably the most useful volume there, maybe it'll even be the eventual best seller too.

Posted by: cathar | May 2, 2005 11:07:02 AM

Gems or no, nothing is free, walleroo. Your soul always ends up paying at some point. And how do you know, for instance, that I'm not simply a museum guard with a waspish tongue? (As opposed to the many Waspish tongues I;m sure were in attendance Saturday?)

Posted by: cathar | May 2, 2005 11:11:00 AM

For one thing, because you were at that self-referential party.

Posted by: walleroo | May 2, 2005 11:25:15 AM

But so were museum guards, because it was held in a museum. And for all I know because the Montclair Museum feared all those self-referential writers and editors might have tried to pilfer some of its paintings.

Posted by: cathar | May 2, 2005 11:52:55 AM

Self-referential or self-reverential?

Posted by: The Barista | May 2, 2005 12:01:51 PM

Well put from the woman I still see as a local deity.

Posted by: cathar | May 2, 2005 12:11:51 PM

Oh, I get it. Sorry.

If you were a museum guard, you would have been posting all sorts of observations about local art snobs for the last few months.

Your buttering up Barista is getting a little obvious. Surely you don't need to call her a goddess more than once a day. And obviously you're not on the payroll, as I had thought.

Posted by: walleroo | May 2, 2005 1:46:42 PM

Art snobs? In Montclair? Pshaw! (Besides, they're too easy a target.) Since you want continued verbal sniping, however, I will give you, gratis, an offhand comment about the turquoise Amerind jewelry the Montclair Museum is showing alongside its Edward Weston photos: I really have seen better stuff on a lot of country and rock music stars, including Waylon Jennings and Dolly Parton and even the old heavy metal band Blackfoot. Satisfied now?
As for the goddess stuff, I was dismayed a) that her associate was seemingly tossing her out for the delectation of local liberal rubes, thus trying to act "knightly" on her behalf and b) further dismayed that the barista herself in turn suggestively tossed out her associate to, in bikie terms, pull a train for posters(which showed me what the barista thinks of chivalry in general). So okay, I may have to rethink this mindless adoration stuff. Just when I think I'm finally out, "they" go and try pulling me back in again.....

Posted by: cathar | May 2, 2005 2:09:55 PM

I should add, walleroo, that both the barista and her ADC made banteringly sexual hay (of their surely undeniable attractions) on another thread on this website. I mean, they weren't so readily available Saturday night as far as I could tell. No one was, which in part was why it was so demure a gathering.

Posted by: cathar | May 2, 2005 2:12:58 PM

I can't imagine any gathering so potentially awful as a gathering of writers and editors, especially in Montclair. Such a self-satisfied group, and yet also deeply insecure, which in combination makes for very tedious socializing. (Barista and her associates I'm sure constitute an exception, of course.) However, I can now see why you went, and why you were so bitterly disappointed. I haven't seen the earlier thread you allude to, but rest assured I'll be combing the archives.

Posted by: walleroo | May 2, 2005 2:26:02 PM

You have already seen it, man. You've posted on it yourself, (Remember now suggesting you could pass on the Yankees game?) Good mothering grief! Stuff like this is why I'm contemplating retirement from posting. (Along with a rather involved magazine assignment I now have, plus a few other issues.)

Posted by: cathar | May 2, 2005 2:32:47 PM

A gathering of editors and writers, however, is fine. Beats a bluewavenj conclave by a nose, for example. And I can only imagine the horror to be experienced at an ACLU convention. They were probably mainly nice people in attendance Saturday, it's just that I got the feeling they were all there to look back over each other's shoulders to see who might be gaining professionally on them. And those kinds of concerns really do get in the way of the roistering.

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