Hopefully, not affectively ineffectual --- since February

Cool Site for finding restaurants, coffee shops, etc.
I recently visited the 'Montclair Eats' site, where I learned that there are TEN Caribbean and Jamaican places alone in Montclair. (There were eleven, until the recent demise of The Jerk Pit). In adddition to searching by category for food venues, and by other factors such as BYOB, delivery, outside dining area, reservations required/accepted, you can map the location/locations you have found in a category, and get a display such as this:

I actually trimmed a lot of map features from this screen shot; you have zoom controls, and other standard Yahoo! Maps capabilities. Moving your mouse over a location on the map displays detail, and lets you get directions. Very nice.

Tapas anyone?
Word has it that a certain very successful local restaurateur was recently seen in search of visual and menu-al (I made it up) inspiration for those Spanish preprandial treats in venerable downtown book store Montclair Book Center. The more the merrier in Montclair. ¡Eso!

    A good friend and local artist, Circe Dunnell, has recently put up a web site.

While looking at her work, I was taken by the one shown at the left. I flashed on Salvador Dali with his Soft Construction and Boiled Beans, and Frida Kahlo when I saw this one ---Dali, well, I don't really know, other than that I'm a guy, and Wifey says Dali is an artist guys like (along with Escher---right guys?) Frida, because the theme of Circe's work in her site is an injury she suffered some years back, and we know how much pain Ms Kahlo went through after a devastating injury early in her adult life; we recently went to a great show of her work, with photos taken by third parties, in Philadelphia.

Salma Hayek portrayed her in a recent movie---something guys will ALSO like; (believe me fellas!)

I also was reminded of those Japanese monster movies of my youth, Godzilla, Mothra, and others. Did you know those movies had a subtext relating to atomic devastation and the American occupation?

One (more) reason I love Montclair
Recently, I was walking to get my dry cleaning from Parkland Cleaners, near Krauszer's, and witnessed Mrs. Park involved in an animated discussion with the gentleman who is usually behind the counter at Beyond Pita, whose falafel and creamy dreamy hummus are family favorites. He was sitting out front, smoking a Hookah, and I think she was concerned about the contents of that pipe. I walked by as the encounter was already underway, and heard him gently tell her "It's not pot, it's apple". When I went in to get my suit, Mr. Park was his usual efficient self; a Koren soap opera was on the TV, as it often is. I felt it would be useful to offer some perspective on the hookah, to allay any concerns. Once he repeated this explanation to his wife, the usual smile returned to her face. Later that day, as I was walking to Belgiovine's Deli for one of their excellent Italian subs, I passed one of the lovely Mengistu sisters, owners of Mesob (that's pronounced meh-soab, people), and we exchanged pleasantries, and news about her recent trip to Ethiopia, and her Dutch-born nephew's experiences in the US. Later that night, we had a sumptuous meal at Taj Palace, which has been in Montclair for some twenty years now, and has NEVER disappointed us with the quality of their food. We could have just as well have have eaten barbecue, Caribbean, Greek, Turkish, Argentinian, Cuban, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Soul Food, French, Asian fusion, Mexican, Italian, nouveau, etc. etc. And ALL within walking distance of where we live.

For the sheer fun of it, check out Art*o*Mat, an organization to which Circe and Wifey have contributed (tiny) works, and learn what they mean when they say they are celebrating "10 years of kerplunking culture".

Glibness and Gli Sienese
Some have said that I have been unnecessarily snarky about the Siena in earlier posts, but I repeat that I wish them well---I wish us ALL well, and why not? We are in this together. Friends, Romans, Latinos, I quip not to bury Siena, but to praise her, er him, er it --- I mean, is it like with a ship, or what? Is the gender of a building metrosexual? Anyway, like one of my Southern relatives once said of me: "You crack wise, but you don' mean nethin' by it."

Sally Forth
They have finished demolishing the old Trinity Place headquarters (Forward Operating Base?) of the Salvation Army (affectionately called 'The Sally' by some locals), in preparation for a newer, bigger building, with underground parking. As often happens in such projects, a couple of lovely trees get sacrificed to 'development'. I miss the scent the small patch of pine trees gave off, a lovely olfactory anomaly. The local church (officially, called a 'citadel') draws attendees from several neighboring states. One of the fondest memories of ours when we first moved in was to hear a brass band outside, and to see the Sally band, in force, and in uniform, marching down our street. This is part of their way of giving witness to their message. Did you know that originally the Salvation Army was an edgy, urban, controversial faith, using the popular music of the day 'on the block' to woo new converts, or that it is one of the world's largest providers of social aid, with expenditures including operating costs of $2.6 billion in 2004, helping more than 32 million people in the US alone?

This author wonders if, with new neighbor The Siena coming online nearly concurrently with the new Sally citadel, maybe some Salvation Army brass will move into those quarters, and our humble town can become a minor version of Salt Lake City, and the home base of a future Presidential aspirant.

Local Organic Food Co-op
If you have not tried the Purple Dragon (located near Nishuane Park), you will be pleasantly surprised at the variety, quantity and quality of the food they provide. We were members some years back, and only stopped because the weekly share was TOO BIG for us to handle (being two DINK's). We even split it with another couple, and there was still a LOT of good stuff.  Try them!!

Balding Guy saves bucks on haircut
I went for a haircut to Verona yesterday. Paying $9 for a basic cut with Dino is very compatible with the budget of a self-employed person, and there were only Two Gentlemen before me. Afterwards, I took a walk around the lake in the park there. Red-winged blackbirds with their distinctive call were abundant, and the algae was in bloom. All the birds had their little mouths open, in response to the oppressive heat. Like dogs, they use their breathing to help regulate their body temperature. At least the birds and dogs are only temporary mouth-breathers, unlike the bullies we experienced in high school. And do they have web pages now?  I don't think so.

Green I got; you want green?
This is a verdant part of the world, part of the 'Forest Primeval' as described in the epic poem Evangeline. Even at this stage in Montclair's history, after over a hundred years of development, one can still barely see large parts of town for the trees when one flies over Montclair from Newark airport. Due to the availability of water, life is well established here. The birds in the area number many species, of which the sparrow is one of the most populous, if not most popular. We have a local family of catbirds, who are very bold, and flit around on the ground when we water the yard, as this tends to drive certain insects above ground from their lair, to the birds' delight. This part of the world is also right along significant migratory routes for birds (see 'Cape May' if interested in this); for example, we have a major Hawk Watch at appropriate points of the year, with bird nerds flocking to see and enjoy (yeah, I know, 'flocking' was a gimme).

We also have skunks, raccoons, opossum (opposa?), squirrels, voles, groundhogs, mice and chipmunks around here. The chipmunks, to me, are acceptable rodents, on the good end of the continuum that includes capybara, (not found here, but given pet stores, ¿quien sabe?), rats, and squirrels. Maybe it's because of Chip and Dale, that delightful animated pair from Disney, but I find chipmunks charming. These pipsqueaks' squeaks are almost indistinguishable from the call of the cardinals who bless us with their presence, and I am not talking prelates here; that's another blessing entirely. 

Genuflect with your GP
Just can't get enough proselytizing with your prescription? Good news. From their web site: "The Christian Medical & Dental Associations exist to motivate, educate, and equip Christian physicians and dentists to glorify God by ... influencing their families, colleagues, and patients toward a right relationship with Jesus Christ." Hmmm. Maybe they offer Schiavo-like remote diagnoses, like Senator Doctor Frist, formerly of the U.S. Senate. Somehow, I don't think I'll be losing a lot of readers over this particular snarklet, as I fire my quasi-anonymous tiny bullet in the culture wars, just as I hasten to affirm that I have seen the positive role religion can play in people's lives. Let's keep a secular space for our mutual interaction though, OK fellow citizens?