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May  12

Heroic Dudes

Since we've been hearing a lot of sirens lately, let's tip our hats to the guys who protect us by running into burning buildings, rescuing children, and fighting street crime.  Twenty five Essex County policemen and firefighters were saluted Wednesday by the 200 Club of Essex County, with valor awards for exceptional bravery, courage and dedication during 2005.  The greater Baristaville heroes included in the awards ceremony were Lt. Timothy Murphy, Bloomfield Fire Department, Capt. David Flanagan, Firefighters Joseph Coletta and Philip Malia, Bloomfield Fire Department, Sgt. Robert Acceturo and officer Timothy Banta, Verona Police, Corey Keepers, Cedar Grove Fire Department, and Batallion Chief Anthony DeBerto, Belleville Fire Department. Congratulations, guys. Read their stories here.

May 12, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (12)

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May   1

The Truthiness Hurts

ColbertvacMontclair's favorite funny man is everywhere you look these days. There's his high-profile gig at the White House correspondents dinner and then a revealing turn with Morley Safer on 60 Minutes.

Watch the video, then weigh in with your favorite Colbertism.

May 1, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (128)

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April  25

Sleeping Around in Montclair

Masterstone_1Want to know who slept here?

For the answer, go to Real Estate.

April 25, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink

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April  18

Rwandan Relief Efforts Produce Re$ults


Major kudos to the Baristaville women whose local fundraising raised thousands of dollars for AIDS afflicted women in Rwanda.

Girls For Life:Rwanda, a group of seventh grade girls at Glenfield School, wanted to raise awareness and dollars for women surviviors of the Rwandan Genocide. A bake sale at Watchung Plaza and donation cans in local stores has raised more than $650.

Walk2 Dscn6589

When Bloomfield resident Jessica Rasp, organizer of the Manhattan Tip to Tip Walk, first publicized her walk-a-thon, she was hoping to raise $1500, to support for one woman for a year.  Jessica tells us “pledges are now at $8400 and counting”. She is hoping to reach her new goal of $10,000.  Jessica estimates that there were about 90 “Tippers”, half of them twenty somethings or younger. Three Rwandans joined the walk, including Isidore Munyakazi, a survivor of the genocide & former diplomat to the UN.

And we learned that Baristanet isn't the only one reporting on Jessica's efforts -- the story made it to a Rwandan newspaper, the New Times. Check out “US Children Walk for Rwanda.

The next Tip to Tip Walk for Rwanda is already in the planning stages. This time, it's being organized by students from Montclair High School, and will take place a little closer to home -- in Montclair.
-- Top photo, Karin Diana, lower two photos courtesy of Jessica Rasp.

April 18, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (5)

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April  14

Celebrity Gridlock

So we've got Stephen, Yogi, and Bobbi, that guy from Spamalot, countless soap stars -- and all of those  famous authors...now we're about to have another famous celeb call Baristaville home. Rocker Warren Zanes who played in Del Fuego, and just released his second solo recording is moving here this summer. The Professor of Rock is leaving his “dream job” as veep of education and public programs at Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, to be closer to family, reports The Plain Dealer. (Good to hear we're still the number one pick for some house hunters...) So we're hoping wondering, could Zanes' arrival mean a “School of Rock” is in our future? (Actually, we'd rather an occasional gig at Tierney's...)  In the meantime, Zane brother, Dan, will play a concert at Montclair State University, April 30.

April 14, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (9)

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April  11

A Huge Void

Glen Ridge resident Ron Clifford was one of just a handful of 9/11 family members who testified yesterday before the jurors who will decide whether to sentence Zacarias Moussaoui to death. Clifford's story is not only tragic, but layered with strange coincidences. He was visiting the World Trade Center that morning and narrowly escaped death, but returned home to discover that his sister and niece had been on the second plane to hit the towers.

"It's a huge void that will never be filled," Ronald Clifford testified. (CNN)

The Barista wrote about Clifford's story in The New York Times on Oct. 7, 2001. For those who don't have Times Select, here it is.

JERSEY; Clinging to a Sliver of a Loved One's Life

By DEBRA GALANT (NYT) 861 words
Published: October 7, 2001

RON CLIFFORD, who lives in my town of Glen Ridge, is an Irishman, and he has the legendary Irish gift for gab. One story leads to another. Coincidence winds through his tales like a silver thread, until a dozen different people each become part of a great shimmering spider web of connections. But he has never had a story to rival the one he has about Sept. 11.

Ron escaped from the Marriott in the World Trade Center -- after stopping to help a woman who had been burned head to foot -- but his sister, Ruth McCourt, and his niece Juliana, 4, were in the second plane, which hit the south tower of the World Trade Center. Compounding the horror, Ruth's best friend was on the first plane. Both were going to a spirituality conference in California, but flew in separate planes because Ruth wanted to use her frequent flier miles.

Many of the victims have become larger than life in their death, but Ruth McCourt seems to have been larger than life even in life. She lived in a magnificent house, with three beaches, built on the foundation of an old casino in New London, Conn. She had a meditation garden and owned a day spa in Boston. She was intimately involved with the details of Ron's life, telling him what tie he should wear for a business meeting on Sept. 11, which was -- in another amazing coincidence -- scheduled at the Marriott Marquis in Midtown, but moved to the World Trade Center at the last moment.

Ruth's memorial service was attended by 1,200 people, and afterward 700 people came back for a meal on her front lawn. Ruth's survivors did their best to make it the kind of gathering Ruth would have approved of.

"Her memorial had to be exactly how she would plan a party,'' Ron said. ''Ruth wouldn't, for any event, have plastic. It had to be silverware.''

Ruth was certain of the rightness of her convictions, and so was everybody else. She often began her proclamations with the words, ''In the life'' -- an Irish expression that means ''in this life.'' Juliana was beginning to turn into something of a force herself. One morning, about a week before the tragedy, Ruth told Juliana to eat her Cheerios.

''And Juliana turned around and said, 'Yes, your highness,' '' Ron said. ''Ruth called me right away and said, 'Where is she getting this?' ''

In the middle of our interview, Ron pulled something from his pocket.

It was a piece of glass, tinted black, irregularly shaped, but smooth on the edges. It was a piece of the World Trade Center, and now Ron carries it all the time. He held the glass, about two inches long, and turned it over and over in his hand.

''It gives me some solace to have something,'' Ron said. ''Some remembrance. It's tempered glass. You can hold it as tight as you can and it's not going to cut you.''

The glass was given to him by a New York City policeman who went back to ground zero to retrieve some ashes for Ron to send back to a brother in Ireland. Ron had once done a major favor for the policeman's mother, and in return her son, Tommy the cop, got the ashes and the piece of glass for Ron.

And yet the favor turned itself inside out, and Tommy found people clapping and waving for him as he left ground zero with his package for Ron.

''I've had people kick me, spit at me, call me every name under the sun,'' he told Ron. ''And now, for the first time in my life, I'm feeling human.''

More coincidences: the weekend before the attack, Ron met a maintenance engineer from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, recently retired, who told him story after story about the 1993 bombing. And on Sept. 11, Ron's daughter Monica turned 11.

The amazing thing is, Ron still smiles. Ron still laughs. He is having trouble sleeping, but he has gone out on his sailboat. His house is full of flowers and cookies that neighbors have brought or sent. Nobody can visit Ron without an offer of cookies.

''Do we have cookies!'' he says with a laugh.

Years ago, Ron and Ruth had a conversation about death. They agreed that focusing too much on grief would prevent a loved one's soul from getting to the next life. Instead, Ron came up then with the concept of good thoughts called ''rads'' -- he had been reading about Madame Curie -- that would send a loved one on.

Ron plans to take have his piece of glass engraved. On one side it will say, ''What a sister.'' On the other, ''In the life.''

April 11, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (13)

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April   9

Katie's Boyfriend is Home Safe

And we're not talking about Tom Cruise. It's always good when cute boys - and even not-cute boys - come home Iraq. Let the celebration begin.


April 9, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (52)

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April   6

Watchung Booksellers Wins

Watchung_booksellers_pic Our town wasn't even on New Jersey Magazine's top 190 desirable places to live in the state, but we gave them a bookstore to love. Watchung Booksellers took the honors as "Best Book Store in New Jersey" in  New Jersey Monthly's March issue.

"Watchung Booksellers serves as a refreshing change in a Barnes & Noble world, with weekly readings by local authors, poetry readings and book clubs for aficionados of every genre. The warm and inviting space reminds us of the best of small-town life."

Well, we'd have to agree with them and thank goodness they noticed. Congratulations to best in the state, Watchung Booksellers, which has held its own for 10 years as an independent purveyor of literary culture and charm. And yes, they also have the good taste to advertise with us. (Bookstore owner Margot Sage-EL, shown center.)

April 6, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (43)

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April   2

A Shout Out to Mark in Iraq

The inimitable Montclair State student Katie Mancine, a regular on these pages, happened to mention in a comment the other night that her boyfriend Mark is over in Iraq - and that he actually reads Baristanet over there. Well, we thought, we'd get in the patriotic spirit and send a big shout out over to the war zone and say hi to Katie's man. Except he turns out to be a boy.

Mark is in Air Force Reserves, and Katie's known he'd be doing this tour of duty since she met him two years ago, but when we look at this picture all we can think is: get him home safe. He should be  back in time to join us at Red Cheetah on April 29, if - that is - he's old enough to drink. Here's what Katie blogged on February 24, just a few days after Mark left.

If you haven't guessed why I am so lonely and updating so much these past few days, I will tell you: Mark is at Spring Break: Iraq until the beginning of April. For a while they were partying in Qatar but now he said it's full blown fun times in Iraq. It's only been about a week and I've already relearned how to feed myself, do the dishes, and have conversations in my head that are as fun as real life conversations with real people. I've even started to be the voice for the Mister. I'll say something to him or tell him a story and then I speak in a higher cartoony voice as him, replying to everything I say. He really knows how to listen. Sweet babies I am lonely. On a serious note, for those of you who pray, keep Mark in your prayers, it's not all fun and games down there as we'd like to think.

The Mister Katie refers to is the dog sleeping with Mark in the picture, and we're guessing that Mister must be going a little crazy with Mark gone too. Here's love and prayers for all three of them to be united, safe, real soon. And Mark - if you're out there - give us a holler, too.

April 2, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (48)

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April   1

Now Can We Sit In The VIP Lounge?

Baristanet proudly welcomes its newest advertiser: the Red Cheetah, Montclair's most "high class" martini lounge. In a press release to announce the new association, Cheetah CEO Ed Rodriguez said,

"LOL. deez guys are nuts. i am advertising just having some fun isnt that what life is about fun meeting new friends dancing laughing. I thot these guys were hoplessly unkool but i was rong, but even if they r they could rilly rock this club! live love ed.

dress code still enforced."


"Ed, we're glad you got a PR person," said Baristanet co-editor Liz George. "We look forward to a long and mutually fruitful relationship (psst... for an extra $1000 a month, we'll throw in press release proofreading services.)."

April 1, 2006 in Major Dudes | Permalink | Comments (20)

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