Circumspect, as I perspicaciously reflect and introspect for my prospective and perhaps knee-jerk reflexive retrospective.

I picked up a Cafe Amici menu today, walking back from the Farmer's Market, where I got my fix of Winesap apples. Looks good; that space has always been beautiful. After Taro left following many successful years on Church Street, the next occupant was some out of towner who had other properties, and was heard to say something to the effect that they would "kick Raymond's ass". Guess we know the outcome of that particular empty boast.

Now, Cafe Amici in that space, and they seem to be doing well. They have pizza, sammies, pasta, burgers, to me a good distribution of choices. As always with any Church Street neighbor, I say "Welcome, and may you flourish". Why not?

Really enjoyed the flamenco at Tapastry last Friday. If you enjoy flamenco, it's really worth it to try the place, whose name implies the focus of their food offerings. You can get appetizer and entree-sized plates that are reminiscent of the bullfighter bars in Madrid of which Hemingway wrote. Flamenco is one of the most powerful dance forms I have been privileged to experience. If you are not familiar with Tapas, or with Flamenco, I suggest a twofer on Fridays. Right on Church Street.

The Hinterlanders hit New York again; our visit had two tent poles (and I don't mean the two gentlemen we met in the City for brunch and catching up.)

The first major component was that aforementioned and very satisfying brunch at Cafe Luxumbourg on Amsterdam and 70th; the second tent pole of our visit was to see the New York City Ballet. Wifey's frequently peripatetic Dad had given us his tickets.

Blessed as we are to lie along a DeCamp bus route into NYC, we just had to walk to the YMCA on Park and board the #66 there; it's now $7.65 one way, but to me it's still worth it as I do not like driving into the city. (Speaking of DeCamp, there was a lovely writeup in The New Yorker recently of Sal, the driver for the #66 line, and owner of the 'rubber ducky', who brought so much joy into so many lives over the years, and who recently retired; we were privileged to have crossed paths with him several times, and he stopped into the Valley Road store where Wifey works, to her joy.)

We passed the dentist's office on Grove that is decorated every year for Halloween; it was a real head-turner, so much so that I determined to actually drive there later to get some snapshots. The trip was largely uneventful, as it almost always is, fortunately. The only minor unpleasantness occurred in my own widdle mind, as I couldn't help but be slightly miffed by the young hipster who put his sneakers on the back of the armrest of the seat in front of him.

We rolled into Port Authority Bus Terminal, and took the stairs down to the main concourse, where we bought our tickets for the return leg. Being an invertebrate, er I mean inveterate bus traveler, and being mindful of the millions who stream through that terminal and the benighted state of health awareness so many exhibit, I diligently avoided contact with the escalator railings. Thanks to my yoga, I could dance down those steel steps lightly, thereby tidily foreshadowing the performance to come in an incredibly minimal way.

New York City Ballet was performing in the David H. Koch Theater; I looked in vain for "Anti-AGW pushback conclave" meeting venues inside the building, but saw none. One interesting experience: the men's room, where the hand dryer option was an "Air Blade" by Dyson, self-proclaimed "fastest most hygienic hand dryer" in the world. It was kind of like a squeegee for flesh, and my aging hand meat rippled appreciatively as I passed mis manos por el aire. The device proudly bore an endorsement from the NSF. I knew that I'd been spending too much time on social media when I misinterpreted that to say "NSFW".

Orchestra seats; everybody smelled nice. The place looks like a jewel box, lush, red.

"Jewels" was the name of the performance, and it consisted of three parts: Emeralds: Pelléas et Mélisande (1898) and Shylock (1889) by Gabriel Fauré; Rubies: Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra (1929) by Igor Stravinsky; Diamonds: Symphony No. 3 in D major, Op. 29 (1875) by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky Each part (I don't know what you call them; acts?) was choreographed by George Balanchine.

Teresa Reichlen, Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz dominated the "Rubies" portion with personality, grace and power. Reichlen is 5 foot 9, a respectable height for a woman, but I was surprised to see that measure, as it seemed she was about a head taller than a lot of the others on stage with her. The men, powerful, evinced the type of hang time that would've made Elgin Baylor jealous back in the day. (Yes I know that citing basketball legend Elgin Baylor dates me, but as I always maintain, when you date yourself you only have to pay for one meal when you go out to dine, and the night always ends up with you in bed).

There were so many moments of absolute beauty, but I confess to you that at times, I had had enough beauty, thankyouverymuch. But, hey, it was free, the seats were great, and I was glad for the experience, despite the minor carping you might have inferred just now.

We came out to a city that was bustling in the rain, and eventually flagged a taxi to Port Authority, where we made our way home; as always it was a safe and comfy ride.

Sidewalk Sale today (Sept 17) in Montclair. Lots of foot traffic, crowded sidewalks. Good day weather-wise. Got some Kneipp bath oil from Chelsea Station and took photos of the action at Jafajems and Fancy That, two client stores of mine. Photos here.

Home made Pizza: (It was pretty good):

Heartfelt thanks to those of you who have been visiting this page; it's one of the most popular on CDEIS.COM, and I feel a bit guilty about how infrequently I'm updating this lately. Anyway:

The recent earthquake/hurricane mess has caused a lot of soggy carpeting to appear on local curbs; what a mess. You know what else is messed up? The Academy Square site had a lot of flooding, and a generator was deployed to pump out the excess water. Some neighborhood A-hole was apparently miffed about it running overnight, and went over and turned off the pump. I would like to offer this to that person: If you had been around here when that site was in decay and decline after the departure of Gibbs College, and if you could appreciate how the whole area was turned around by the excellent job that was done in rehabbing that site, maybe you'd have a more complete understanding of the selfishness of your actions.

Bob S: I repent as I relent and re-enter content creation stream.

Just saw "Bill Cunningham New York". Fascinating guy. So fortunate to live in a town where we can walk to a theatre that even shows such films in the first place.

Apparently South Park Street is going to get the Church Street treatment: spruced up to entice shoppers. Last I heard new block design will boast center divider, parallel parking. (Well, maybe 'boast' is a bit inflated). Taxes will likely go up.

Walking in the nabe with Wifey; passed a church; she misread the posted exhortation as "Play without Ceasing", rather than "Pray without Ceasing". I guess both might work, at least if you alternate.

Taj Palace will try to open again, after that sad fire. Welcome news.

Sorry about not contributing lately. I need a certain combination of time, content and resources to get it together.

Siena is having problems; not surprised, while also sad to see.

I continue to love Raymond's chocolate pudding; it's just this side of mousse; the right side. Wow.

It's always a kick to see Montclair streets serve as scenes for TV commercials or other programming. "What would you do?" program on ABC recently had two separate incidents at Watchung (people backing into another's cars) and Church Street (drunken woman tries to drive). Very proud to say that fellow Montclairians stepped up and did the right thing without exception (at least from my casual viewing).

So sad to hear that Table 8 has closed. Tough times continue.

Not surprised to see some enterprising wag paste a 'B' over the 'W' on the street sign for Wendover Road: low-hanging semantic fruit|intersect|physically addressable roadsigns.

Wifey and I are helping an in-law put together some designs for the NERBA conclave this August. Button collectors: a fascinating subculture. It's a New England based organization. We have to come up with representative images for the states; Maine was easy, of course - potatoes (or 'pah day dahs' as Boston folks sometimes say), and lobster. Vermont and New Hampshire suggested skis and maple syrup. Connecticut, though? I suggested 'white people'. We are currently inclined toward a tobacco leaf, or the Nautilus (Groton); surprised about tobacco? So were we; appears that the type of tobacco grown there is used exclusively for the wrapper leaf on cigars. Did you ever hear about the institution of the reader in cigar rolling businesses, who reads to the assembled workers from classics of literature and other sources. Heard it on NPR a couple years back.

Walking along Church Street near the Siena, I saw something in the street that looked as if it had blown off the sidewalk display racks that Johari always has out front. I walked into the shop, past some startled browsers, with the fabric gingerly held aloft. I told owner Deborah Furr "I think I found a stray piece of inventory". After gingerly (gingerly-ly?) inspecting it, she announced to general mirth "It's a do-rag". Deborah is beautiful anyway, but when she laughs so heartily at a harmless humourous moment, she is even more so. And, finally aren't we all?

Curious to know more about Mayor's trip to China, in areas relating to who paid for this, to what end, and how could the desired ends have been attained without a physical trip to another continent.

Word has it that Taj Palace may try to rebuild. They provided decades of quality Indian cuisine to our community. I wish them well, and hope to see them again, soon. Well-wishers can use the link on the left to leave a note of support.

With recent deluge, high winds driving rain, so glad we had new windows put in a couple years back. The old ones were wood, with multiple layers of paint, drafty, with that quaint metal weight suspended by a rope inside the frame, matching the dumbwaiters in the buidling's infrastructure, betraying its origins in the Twenties.

Academy Square is a success, this nearby neighbor is all too glad to report. Full occupancy soon. There will be an art gallery there at some point, echoing the artist-friendly offering at Bob Silver's Brass Works location off of Grove Street. Good stuff, and a welcome bright spot in a downer economy.

Thanks for the feedback; I'd do this anyway, but nice to know that I might be brightening someone's day somewhere.

We were walking in town recently and realized that none of us had requisite moola. Our two couples walked arm-in-arm to a drive-up ATM kiosk, as it was our Great Circle Route to restaurant we were patronizing that night. As our shipmate took care of biz, a car pulled up behind, next in line. I called back: "We forgot our car".

In feeble homage to the man who cleared Eire of snakes, we had spinach with our ravioli, and thereby punched the 'Columbus Day' ticket as well.

March 16: Bunch of schoolkids staged a girl fist fight outside my window. Many phone cams were deployed, it was all very well organized and they'll be as famous as most people I guess; as many as twenty girls and boys were there laughing, shouting and recording the event.

The combatants and eager onlookers had gathered along the fence for Academy Square; they were chatting excitedly as kids do during that innocuous phase of the proceedings, where the intent of their gathering was not yet clear. Suddenly, mass movement to the designated area, scouts checking quickly all egress and regress, and possible unauthorized would-be spectators. Then it went loose, for a couple of minutes of serious fisticuffs, to the merriment of the throng.

I called the police, and held the phone out the window so the dispatcher could hear. Unit dispatched, but too late. They scattered in good order. Next time I'll know what they're about. After all, they were wearing uniforms; how could they be up to no good? (I don't have a sarcasm font, or else it would have been deployed appropriately). 

Just learned from Baristanet via Twitter about Taj Palace fire last night. We have been fans of theirs for over two decades. Our thoughts go out to Matthew and his staff. Sad.

I had a mixed salary/body image dream recently, where at one point I asked: "Does this paycheck make my wallet look fat?"

Sad Sack Neighbor
The apartment buildings next to us have a super who is an unusual fellow, to say the least. He is very fastidious but also keenly turf-oriented. Example: He will, to the consternation of all within earshot, use a leaf blower to move EVERY last little piece of fallen-to-earth foliage off HIS section of sidewalk, even if it just moves over the property line to our side. This curious mindset extends to the street too; even though something may lie directly in front of his properties, as long as it's in the street and not on the lawn or sidewalk, it seems to be OK. He's a bit of a sad sack, not very communicative; was an engineer in his native country, and this job must be a step down, so I can understand him and feel sorry for him. It was from this more humane perspective on him that I recently witnessed an incident that would have had many prior versions of me apoplectic and yelling out the window at him.

Here's what happened: Today is recycling day; mixed plastic and glass are put into barrels and collected by the municipality; in my opinion those guys do a bang-up job; would you like to do that, or think you can do better? But I digress. Anyway, the wind has been pretty fierce for hours this morning, and one of our neighbor's barrels of metal and plastic recyclables had tipped over and its contents were distributed all over the street, on both sides, with several items partially blocking storm drains, and a lot of stuff lying around. Maybe you know where this is going.

We witnessed this super coming out to collect the barrels, which he did, but he did not bother to pick up the mess. Rather than getting angry, I chose to get my raingear back on and go out to collect his mess and take it back to our basement for next week. This is MY neighborhood, and this is where I live, so ultimately it was somewhat selfish, but I confess a bit of pride for doing the right thing (and broadcasting my good deed to the world via this post, no doubt completely emptying it of any points I might have otherwise garnered in that great balance sheet in the sky).

Recent Business Closings in CBD spur these somber reflections:
1.) We are nowhere near the end of hard times
2.) January, coming as it does after the Christmas shopping season, is often the deadliest month for businesses. So much of a store's income is expected to come during the holiday season that they have to make that sad decision in January, if things don't go as well as they hoped. What's a bit more troubling is the demise of two restaurants that had been around for a long while.

Sorry about infrequent postings; have been caught up in events lately. Since they touch me, they are perforce 'Special Events'. Nah.

Undercliff near Gates could be an address from the world of Tolkien. In Montclair, it's an intersection near the Eagle Rock Reservation at the top of the hill from us. While walking there the other day (before the snow), I was on the reservation side of the street and the sidewalks were covered with a spongy bouncy matting of leaves that have washed down from the countless trees up the hill; (remember, it's Undercliff, after all.)  It's possible that the stretch in question actually has no sidewalk, making it easier for natural processes to provide that bounce to my step. In any event, it is a very enjoyable sensation, and compares with neighboring surfaces as night to day.

As I walk on the bouncy matter, I'm reminded of a lovely long weekend at Cape May, where our tour stopped at one point, and we were allowed to venture out into the spongy islands found throughout that marshy estuary, and were happy to hear that the much-abused New Jersey wetlands have come a long way from the days when people didn't have a proper understanding.

Wetlands are natural filters, help buffer storm surge, offer good cover to various species, and serve as nurseries of so many life forms that are crucial to food chains of many species.

Cardinal Virtues
Birds can forage for solid food, but in the winter, it's sometimes hard to come by water. Since we appreciate birds so much, and fortunately, there are so many varieties of birds around Montclair, I maintain a bird bath near our building (they don't bathe in the Winter typically, so I guess 'bird bath' is a somewhat seasonal misnomer.) I just replaced the frozen water in the bird bath; we rotate two bird baths, one in use, of course, that might freeze overnight, and one in the basement near the furnace to melt that frozen one we bring in mornings from outside. Once the water has thawed, I pour it out and clean the birdbath removable unit, actually just a Claybeaters item that typically goes under trees.

Upon my swap and departure, a local Cardinal family immediately blessed me with their arrival and deep drafts from that life-saving liquid.

Academy Square has its first tenant moving in Dec. 18th. They'll do well; they really have their act together.

Church Street has been recently sweetened by Dulce, personably vending retro candy and other tidbits ideal for movie-goers or gift-givers. Ask for 'Candy Freak', a great book about those old line candy manufacturers of regional lore. A confectionary Odyssey.

Please support MVAU, fellow Montclairians
Fifty-six years of FREE service to those in dire need.

Duran Duran
Anyone else remember fondly those pioneering MTV videos by Duran Duran? Hungry Like the Wolf remains memorable. Their stuff was good, very good. Visually lush, especially in comparison to pretty much everything else that was out there.

Just bought an 80's compilation CD and Duran Duran were on it. I Was picking up some flowers at Accents with Flowers, across from Bean's and Raymond's on Church Street.   Anyway, it had some hits that had resonance for one or both of us, so I thought what the heck. Thompson Twins also on there; saw them at City Gardens in Trenton back in [that] day.

What the What is that?
I think it's a desiccated pumpkin; taken on Dec 10 during a walk:

Montclair Pillow is a Hit
Wifey championed the idea and honcho'ed the design and rollout of a very nice Montclair Pillow, exclusively on sale at Jafajems. It joins a sibling series of state-themed pillows, which is part of the inspiration. The same studio produced the Montclair offering.

Here is a photo of the Montclair Pillow from Shop Local Montclair web site:

Farmer's Market still kicking (to keep warm)
Fewer vendors each time lately, understandably. But at its peak, expect honey, pesto, flowers, bread, tacos, fish, buffalo, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, sauerkraut, pickles, olives, cheese, sausage, pierogies, kielbasi, and more. Apples still available, of course. Stayman Winesap my favorite.

Hey Shakespeare
Re: "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", shouldn't one hold onto the slings, to be able to sling more of what they were built for? Seems like unilateral disarmament to me, and disarmament is so, oh, Twenty-Third Century? Neverentury? Bueller?

Christian youth were recently advised to do 'side hugs' as opposed to 'full frontal' contact to avoid arousal. In a similar vein, I offer this: try to view one another full on, not from the side. It seems most of us look better that way.

Are OGs on the DL more likely to be 'down with OPP'? Caucasian minds want to know.

Thoughts on walking along Park Street on a Sunday, following saunterers:
I am seldom in a hurry, I am glad to report. However, when I am in a hurry, and I get trapped behind a pair of pedestrians who are taking their own sweet time on God's good green earth, and the sidewalk is not wide enough to allow socially comfortable passing, I am reminded of my frustration when one of my Parcheesi pieces is trapped behind a slow-moving blockade. Yes, I actually took the time to type this.

A certain Greek food business location successor will be proving once again how consolidation and partnering can be a good move. Enough said. Can hardly speak in any case, due to consumption of leftovers from Greek Taverna. Speaking of coincidences, (and I will, even if you won't):

Was the simultaneous publication in the New York Times of an article about Jafafems, and its grand opening, a synchronicity benediction? Long time daytime TV star Kim Zimmer took a New York Times crew with her as she shopped in support of a move to the Left Coast.  Pursuant to that pursuit, Ms. Zimmer, Emmy winner as key cast member of 57-year success Guiding Light, visited Jafajems, which has recently made a move and a consolidation from locations on Church Street and Valley Road to 622 Valley Road. The old Valley Road location is occupied by Sweet Home Montclair, home of very tempting comestibles. The visit was documented by a photo in the Thursday section of the Times. In addition to this non-trivial coincidence, the 12th was also the 12th anniversary of the store. Nice. And they have been doing very well; nice value across a crowd-pleasing range, exotic provenance, wide range of esthetically pleasing choices in many categories.

We live near Church Street, and friends, that street is aptly named. Unitarians, Evangelicals with amazing choirs, and Christian Scientists are just some of the praise options on offer. There are about ten churches within a handful of blocks sized area, one of which has outstanding marble pillars. Parking is always a concern, especially on Sunday. Are those who get parking tickets a mild modern echo of the early Church martyrs? Yes, controversy reigns on my parade, but that's why we have parapluies mon ami.

Rumi and Sufi at Open Center in NYC this Sunday; I heard rumor re: TomKat's Suri might read some suras. As I get older, the quality of stuff that I miss, such as this event, is going up. This to me is an unambiguous sign of progress.

Escar A go(t) go(t)
I was walking, as I am and was wont to do, and saw evidence of snails on the slate sidewalk - like tiny terrestrial contrails.

Pastrami Sammich
I was making one today, using some lean Pastrami from Brookdale Shoprite recent host of a bagger's competition. While rummaging in the refrigerator for onion, I inadvertently touched some lettuce. I could swear a phantom hand reached over from Brooklyn or the Bronx and gave me such a slap!

Coyote Ugly OMG
West Orange Cali reports that recently, on Eagle Rock Avenue, near the Reservation, she saw two coyotes. Wow.(Subsequent update: they seem to be resident in large parts of Eastern Seaboard.

Alanis Morissette has this thing with her voice
I bought her CD the collection and every time I play her (to me) trademark song, "I Thank You", it still gets to me. When she sings out and strings out the line: "Thank you dis-I-uh-L-lusion-me-hent" a little thrill runs up my spine. More lines from that song:

"The moment I let go of it was
 The moment I got more than I could handle

 The moment I jumped off of it was
 The moment I touched down."

They shot John Lennon, author of similar liberating thinking. To my mind, Alanis is the spiritual daughter of John Lennon. The fearful small mindset shall never prevail, even as it shall never entirely disappear in our current version of reality. "How about not equating death with stopping." she says. "How 'bout that?" echoes Mel Allen from heaven, looking down on his beloved Yankees.

Word o'Mouth on Matt D.
Wifey and I saw the new Matt Damon movie, The Informant!, and passed on a recommendation to two neighbors upon our return to the domicile. Is that like a 'Meat Tweet'?

'Nice Rack' is what neighbor Doctor Edgar exclaimed when he poked his head out the window recently and saw an eight-point buck nibbling on some backyard plants. How that creature got into and out of a closed back yard with a five-foot fence escapes me just as much as he escaped us.

8313 'n J
Whole Foods has stations in their stores where you can grind your own PB, and bump into neighbors---bump and grind, what's not to like? Anyway, we usually get SKU 8313, the Honey infused one, but we discovered we were also getting xanthan gum. We figured we had already ably met our MDR for xanthan gum, so determined henceforth to not get that tempting stuff.

Burger the Imagination, and Imagine Peanut Dust in the Montclair Air
Wifey and I like their approach to business with carbon-neutral and such, so wanted to vote with our pocketbooks although I have foresworn such accessories, preferring a boring ol' wallet. Not a bad place, and I think they are probably going to do very well, as they can accommodate the walkin off the bus burger buyer, club kids from Diva/Comfort, groups of roaming youth, sports teams, young urban professionals, metrosexuals, families etc. (there's plenty of seating).  In a related vein or I guess it's artery, I am VERY curious to see how the Obama-boosted burger joint next to Jafajems will do. In a country that unfortunately is plagued with allergic kids, it's remarkable to me that there will be open barrels of peanuts for folks to nosh on and track out into nearby venues. Let's see how this plays out.

Pay, I mean Dry it forward (?)
We have a nice little vertical neighborhood in our apartment building. I love it here; good people, one and all. One of the characteristics of our little community is the fact that people using the dryers in our laundry room will do a minor cheat on them in cases where they have time left over, and they're done with the dryer(s) (Sorry Sebco). It seems that if you pull the electrical connection from the wall socket, the amount of time still remaining on a machine is retained.

I guess there is a battery or something in there (probably a capacitor but I claim no special knowledge in this area), but in any event the minutes are still waiting for the next person to plug it back in. It's like the cell phone company with leftover minutes, I s'pose. Anyway, it's a nice little treat to encounter this kindness while in the common area, and I try to leave some minutes in turn for the next person. Small things can make one's day. Maybe even two.

Greek Delights has Moved
Now successfully relocated to their much larger spot on Bloomfield where Soda Pop Shoppe had been. Just like in the last locale, they have nailed it; lots of room and efficient service as always. Good portions, very good salads --- good value.

I used to call them 'dungarees' when I was a kid, back in the days when computers were mainframes, and there were probably only a dozen or so world wide (I do not make this up; look it up). Anywho, I still wear jeans, and was inspired to think of new 'fits' (not take one), to accommodate the expansive American waistline. I figure, in addition to 'Relaxed', maybe we go to the next size, 'Permissive', then for the cultured set who, pace Walter Jones of NC, never stopped calling the 'French Fries', 'Outre', and so forth. Why not?

An eight-year-old's dreamscape
The extreme makeover of the former Gibbs site is moving along, with earthmoving and other equipment. The shiny devices, from the vantage point of several stories up, looks like the grandest set of Tonka Toys going.

The moist earth is piled up grandly in one of the corners of the playpen er, construction site, and the sun catching the clay-bearing dark earth can appear like brownies for that delighted eight-year old.

Trash and Bernoulli's Principle
You know about that partial vacuum thingie and all, with its ability to produce lift on airplane wings? Well its application is not just celestial. With recent winds and novice supers/residents putting light recyclables on the top of full recycling barrels, there is a lot of stuff flying all over the place.

I just inhaled a snowflake
I was out walking and the snow was coming down in big flakes, but they were not heavy with moisture. I actually put on my 'ball cap' as my Dad calls them, under my hood, so that the snow would not blow in my face as much, as it made forward progress less pleasurable. With the mini currents that were present that moment at that place, one of the snowflakes managed to vector in on a nice swoop and land in the middle of my tongue, like a miniature Communion wafer. It was substantial enough to actually register on my palate. What a nice surprise.

I went out to feed the birds today, and paused to look up through snow-festooned branches at a clear blue sky. With the cold temperatures, the moisture that would normally be more present in the air is reduced. The resulting crispness is one of the characteristics of a wintry day, I have come to realized. Thanks Anthony C. for telling me about that. As I looked up, the angle of the sun caused some of the snow on the overhead branches to seem to be dappled with light.

Cold Comfort
Up somewhat early, before the birds, not a distinction I crave, but what the heck. Have been under the weather, so not sleeping that well. Thanks to this web page and other internet-based activities, at least there is something I can do with my time as I sit here waiting for the world to catch up with me. Most of the time I feel as if I'm stealing a march on the day when I get up early and do things, and I never seem to be too tired even for the relative lack of sleep and current cold. Why even my cough is productive! Yuck Yuck, Cough Cough.

Twofer Singleton is not a mutant anagram of Kiefer Sutherland
I like talking walks, even when it's cold and blustery, as it's good exercise and has so many salutary effects. When it's wintery out there, I still mix it up with Momma Mia Natura (hence 'wintery mix'). It's quite simple: layers, my dear, layers, and a scarf; I have finally come to embrace scarves, even as they embrace me. Anyway, while walking, especially at this time of year with the retreat of snow, I encounter stray gloves left behind by harried adults and careless children. (There's your 'Singleton' reference). Rather than just letting them lie there, I gather them up and bring them to the ever creative Claire Baker at Copabananas on Valley Road in Uppity (er I mean 'Upper') Montclair.

She turns the gloves into one-off (off handed?) cloth characters, which she sells in the store, her so-called 'gLove Story Dolls'. (There's your 'Twofer' reference --- two benefits per ambulatory excursion, the exercise and the 'trickle down' benefit to some lucky shopper). To be sure, to be clear, to be fair, I am not ripping these gloves off the hapless hands of youngsters and others; the gloves I rescue have been lying around for a while, based on their condition and location; to me, it's a form of reuse. Of course, somewhere out there is a sad sibling glove that is now (or still is) relatively useless.

Shop Local Montclair is a self-organized effort by some savvy merchants to do all they can to weather the current economic climate. They offer a good deal and you should visit their site to see what is available. They have gotten some great press, and they deserve it. SHOP LOCAL MONTCLAIR, folks!! Jafajems has its "Montclair Pillow" on sale. Designed in house with supreme attention to detail.

The Health Shoppe
Lately I've been going through old magazine clippings and such to 'process' them as we say here at the homestead, 'processing' meaning to read them (finally), and/or do whatever it was that inspired us to save said clippings.

Anyway, with a list of 'Herbs worth their weight in gold' in hand, I walked over to The Health Shoppe to throw a little money into the local economy, and get me some herbs. Janice, the person working the store was very helpful and personable, and told me of how blessed she felt to be able to help people with advice that, for some of them, had changed their lives by restoring their health. Now, I've got nothing against modern medicine, well, that's a whole separate discussion, but in my experience, pre-emption using natural ingredients rather than an invasive regimen of pharmaceuticals, should always be considered, and anecdotally is very rich in testimony.

There is a wide selection of items there, including raw food offerings, gluten-free food, algae from Klamath Lake, supplements, and the like. You should check them out sometime. Family owned and operated for over 35 years They are near Bloomfield and Park.

Hinterlanders hit Nieuw Amsterdam - again!
Fans, you may remember an earlier posting about visiting the city of New York, New York. As both of you may recall, Wifey and I visited the MOMA and walked around a bit.

This time, we attended the New York City Ballet. There were several short works by Ravel and Debussy set to dance by Jerome Robbins. What a wonderful combination; Robbins' choreography is a modern extension of the balletic toolkit, so that one finds humor, more stances and postures, and a little sexiness thrown in. I couldn't help but notice that fully 97% of the audience was lily-white, very similar to a wine and jazz soiree held in Mount Vernon Virginia just a weekend prior. Oh well.

Central to the afternoon's performance was 'Afternoon of a Faun', and what an afternoon! Tossing a lissome redhead around for a couple of minutes --- what faun could find fault with that! This is the work made notorious by Nijinsky, but turned into a pas de deux (providing more of a wholesome outlet for the apparently aroused faun, but let's leave the detail of the original performance to the Internets, where you can indulge your possibly salacious curiosity).

The performance space is the New York State Theater. The interior is reminiscent of a jewel box. The ceiling looks like a spirograph, and the space seems festooned with giant rhinestones, with a huge chandelier that always strikes me as looking like the faceted eye of a fly. This photo from wikipedia gives some sense of the appearance. There is no center aisle, which makes for a difficult passage down the long rows for those who are less ambulatory, but the space all in all is very nice and seems sumptuous.

There were a lot of kids, as one of the pieces was Mother Goose, a collection of short pieces under the organizing concept of Sleeping Beauty and several dreams she had while awaiting Prince Charming.

One final thought: For those scornful of ballet---try actually mimicking some of the poses, doing so with the requisite grace balance agility and strength, and you will come away with a new appreciation of these artistic athletes. Read Gelsey Kirkland's autobiography for a peek into the physical toll that this career takes; just the description of the unnatural and deforming nature of 'turning out' is enough to give you a glimpse into their sacrifice, and I understand how one might question the wisdom of that sacrifice. Don't even get me started with the whole excruciating concept of dancing 'on point'; granted, it's not as extreme an assault on that flexible/fragile body part as the fetishistic foot binding of China of years past, but it deforms the feet. Think of what football players do to their knees for glory and you have an apt analogy, in my opinion. To me, it's a close cousin of the spiked heels many young women wear to look sexy to their future regret.

Every year in Springtime, on the sidewalk near us, two flowering neighbors reach toward each other and create a fragrant arch, and every year Wifey and I meet under that arch, and share a kiss. This year, we did it right after burying our beloved pet conure, who was with us for almost 17 years. After all that time of sharing our living space, Charlie passed away; we miss her, but are moving on.

A pet gets woven into your daily routine, such that every day after their death has the promise of another little jarring reminder of something missing. When the TV show Jeopardy was on, we always had to be careful about the Daily Double and its signature alarm, because that would send you-know-who flying; the other day, the show was on briefly, the Daily Double sounded, and we looked at one another; a little tug at the heart. Charlie would share pasta when we cooked it, and I always knew that if I cooked too much, I could hold some aside for her, but no more. When she was eating, and wanted to say something, she had a way of doing it while still holding onto her seeds or vegetables, and seemed to cackle out of the side of her mouth. Since conures look at things from one eye at a time, her sideways glance and cackle always put me in mind of a gangster of those 30's films talking with a cigarette in their mouth, very endearing. When she was sitting on my finger, I would exchange sounds with her and get her to vocalize, and I will always remember the little puff of her breath that I could feel on my lips when she responded; even as it was happening back then, I knew I would remember and cherish that sensation.

Gotta go, too many heart tugs for this early in the day. Friends, treasure the little things.

NEVER thought 'Original Footprint' would sound like music

There was activity in the long-dormant Gibbs property that lies along Plymouth, Trinity and The Crescent the other day. A conversation with the handful of guys there reveals this wonderful news:
  1. The current building interior and roof will be renovated
  2. The original footprint of land usage will essentially be retained, however
  3. The usage will be professional offices
  4. Greenery will be kept
  5. A small addition will be made on the front (Plymouth)
  6. An exterior elevator shaft will be added
  7. This will produce ratables for the Township, so the approval should be no problem
  8. Maybe the parking lot will be made available for overnight parking
Since money is already being spent for an analysis of the ground water situation (very understandable in light of the problems the Siena and the Sally have experienced), the assumption is that this is probably a 'go'. Let us hope so!! Local businesses will benefit from increased visitors (who will have parking), and that large tract will not become yet another noisy construction site.

RIP George Banitch
One robust thread of community is the shared experience of ritual, and among the most poignant and personally powerful of these rituals are those attending a person's passing. This past Saturday we were privileged to be able to take part in such a memorial service at St Luke's Episcopal Church for a long-time Montclair resident, Dr. George Palmer Banitch. This Plymouth Street neighbor was much loved and respected, and the large attendance at his service was ample evidence of his status. I am not much of a church-goer anymore, but I appreciate the power of religious service, especially the point in the ceremony where we turned to our neighbors in the pews and said to them 'Peace be to you'.

The simple act of looking someone in the eye (especially a stranger), smiling, shaking their hand, and wishing them well produced a feeling of peace and yes, pride, and caused me to have a little more confidence in the future. I know, I know, lots to conclude from such a brief set of encounters, but nonetheless something I felt. The power of words to give perspective and solace was also evident in presentations by the priest, two of his children, and a long-time friend and Lion's Club colleague, where they all ably mixed humor and respect in honoring his life of modesty, integrity and service. Dr. Banitch was responsible for promoting the acquisition of large type books and reading machines for the Library, and was a two-time President of the Montclair Lion's Club.

I close this homage with an excerpt from the ceremony for George and all the dear departed: "Grant to them eternal rest. Let perpetual light shine upon them."

Karen Ciaramella, a local artist who is interviewed elsewhere on this site, has a new piece at the MAM through May 11. (Fridays are free).

BTW, MAM will have Jersey girl Bebe Neuwirth at a gala fete (it's not a cheese, people) on April 26, for rich people. I know, it's a fund-raiser, and raise they will, with a guaranteed draw and for a very good cause. Museums are a hallmark of the civilized life, and our local one is a treasure to be sure. It's just interesting to me, a Trenton-born boy with working class parents, to share a town with people who can afford $25,000 to reserve a good table for the event, a recreation of a 1940s supper club with the talented Ms Neuwirth. (They don't even mention how many seats are at the table---if you have to ask, you can't afford it, as the old saw would have it.) I mean, the MAM web page for the event has an actual 'resource' area for those who want to do it up proper, with links for reference books about the Forties, where to get hairdos that are era-specific, et. al. And why not? Do it right, and make it memorable.

I don't know if it's a coincidence, but just a few minutes before encountering the notice about the fund-raiser, I was reading online about how, per the Wall Street Journal, the top 1 percent of Americans earned 21.2 percent of all income in 2005. How many of our fellow citizens are living paycheck to paycheck and are one illness or layoff away from homelessness? I know, lots of the wealthy are that way because they have created new value, and are thus rewarded, and philanthropy is thriving, but c'mon, how many of them are just living off inherited wealth, where their main challenge is simply not to screw it up and lose what the old man passed on to them? And one more thing, those who conflate the 'most productive' Americans with the wealthiest are full of ... cant. OK, enough. Eye of the needle, eye of the tiger.

I had occasion to stop in the Watchung Delicatessen last weekend, and was pleasantly transported back to the family-owned stores of my childhood. This is a place with a personality and with a large-sized sense of humor. It's a few doors down from Bluestone Cafe, another great Watchung establishment of long standing. If you visit the deli, check out the refrigerator case for Kelchner's horseradish; and consider a kielbasi sandwich.

Harbinge Drinkers
We had a big bunch of Robins drop by recently; they travel in packs (or flights, pods, or whatever name groupings of their species were assigned) this time of year. They were all over and all about the birdbath, to my immense proprietary pride. They hung out in the trees nearby, although they are usually given to ground ops.

Scarf 'em up - stray gloves get 'repurposed'

I recently had a periodontal surgery to address some significant recession of my gumline. I guess that's better than gumline stagflation. What they do is cut a flap of skin off the roof of one's mouth (in this case, mine), then sew it over the iffy area. They were in there for an hour, but it actually seemed like less time. There are lots of medical and dental professionals in Montclair, so you can often just walk to the practitioners. Fortunately, no problems in the recovery (of the gums, not the economy). I have had some residual swelling. My cheek was puffed out quite a bit. Someone saw me and said I 'favored John McCain', but I responded that my electoral preferences are private, Aussie ballot and all that. "No, I mean visually" she said. "Oh, that's very different ... never mind", I said in homage to Emily Latella.

Somethin' fierce

Valentine Day Poem for Wifey

We lie length to length,
Serene in the maelstrom of modern life.
You trace the flight of birds;
I trace the line of your hip,
on the inside track to Nirvana

Props to local Giants
David Tyree (Mr. Helmet) and Michael Strahan both have ties to my beloved town, and both played important roles in a recent major upset in the Super Bowl. I watched the game on Sunday in an initially politely semi-detached way, as I really don't get into sports that much anymore, but I have to admit that I was hooting and hollering along with the rest of the friends and coworkers I had joined. (A projection on an entire wall of a HD image, I must say, certainly eased the transition to engaged viewer). It was a good game, that's for sure, but as I age (gracefully most of the time), I more and more come to pondering the damage those men inflict on one another, and how many of them will have trouble just getting around in a comfortable way in their later years. Yes, I know, marvels of science, replacement joints, etc, but still.

Avian-American Princess

I guess by now you've gathered that I like birds. This is ours. Or maybe, we are hers. Sixteen tumultuous and fascinating years now. These type of birds nest within hollows in trees, so this sheltering effect is very natural and welcome to them. (This is a Sun Cap Conure, btw)

? ? One of these things is not like the others, One of these things is not quite the same? ? A photo series commenting on the recent addition to the Church Street neighborhood. The riposte to same .

Quick! Is it OK to eat this, or not? I can never remember, and the sauce is getting cold. (And does anyone ever say 'pass me that last raviolo'? If so, I suppose that would be singular).

Birds do it
At this time of year, there is a lot of migratory action, as many species of birds move to their winter homes, much like a lot of folks pass the cold months in Florida or Arizona. When I lived in Arizona, in fact, I learned that these seasonal types actually were called 'snow birds'. Recently, on the road, I observed a couple of hundred birds resting on overhead telephone wires, one after another, along the entire length of several stretches. Viewed end on, the wires looked like pipe cleaners, a remarkable image. Anyway, in support of our avian friends, I try to ensure our bird baths are replenished with fresh water every morning, as they really appreciate it. I've learned that when I replace the water, it helps to pour the water into the baths from a height so that it makes an audible splash, as they prefer running water in the wild, since it would more likely be of better quality. Often, as I'm splashing it, I hear a birdy tumult, as they pass the bird-word. Each species has its own language. To me, the catbird sounds like a tiny buzzsaw saying 'bweah'. The bluejay sounds like a rusty hinge, the cardinals just do a 'pip' kind of sound. For many birds, unlike the virtuosic mockingbirds, the range of said vocabulary seems limited to only a few peeps and chirps. I always remember that great New Yorker cartoon of many years ago where in the first panel, we see a dog going 'Bark', 'Bark', 'Bark', 'Bark', 'Bark', 'Bark'. The caption says "What we hear". In the second panel, the caption is "What they mean", and the 'translated' phrase is: 'Hey', 'Hey', 'Hey', 'Hey', 'Hey', 'Hey'.

Beaks do it
Birds have a characteristic action with their beaks to clean them, whereby they wipe the beak on a branch or other object, much like a pirate wipes his sword, by drawing it across a cloth starting with the hilt, or drawn along that branch like a razor is stropped. (There, two subtle Johnny Depp references).

They start with the top part of the beak and wipe down to the end; for a lot of birds, a little food collects on their beaks, and even though they have tongues, they don't lick their chops like a dog might. This beak-cleaning behavior is called 'feaking'. Every bird species does it, I think. The little guys like sparrows, even the vultures and buzzards, as they wipe the awful offal off. (You knew that buzzards were bald to more easily stick those hoary heads inside a carcass, right? Yum yum.)

In Asia, there is a species called 'bustards', which makes it possible for me to (mercifully) end this screed with the image of an apocryphal Asian yelling 'get off my car, you feaking bustard'. 

Neighborhood Snaps

About Me

Nom de blog:
Monty Einwohner de Crane-Towne            
   I like New York in June -- how about you?
   I like a Gershwin tune; again, how 'bout U?
   Bad things (Jeez, I HATE 'em!!!)
    Watching videos of  UB40, B-52's and U2 on YouTube
    Driving the SPEED LIMIT in Montclair, to do my bit for safety
  Life goals:
   To use 'frippery' in a sentence, as:
     'The British guy said "What's all this frippery, then?"'  (One goal down, two to go)
   To circumnavigate the globe exclusively  by making right turns
   To try to bring some joy and thoughtfulness into your day, beloved reader

Explanation of the nom-de-blog: