Loving the scenery & greenery

If you need a Spring, Summer or Fall fix of gardens, lush landscaping and two beautiful homes, there are two spots in Essex County that are definitely worth a stroll or two.

Greenwood Garden in Short Hills, NJ  Greenwood Gardens link

Greenwood pergola autumn10 18 2012 (2) photo Ken Druse

 

and Van Vleck in Montclair, NJ  Van Vleck link

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Q&A with MAPSO bookfest mastermind, Robert Lasner

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photo courtesy or Gregory Burrus

Robert Lasner is bringing the first ever Book Festival to South Orange & Maplewood on June 9th & 10th.  Please find a bit of Q&A and a link to more info at the website link to BOOKFEST website

1  what gave you the idea to do the MAPSO bookfest?

LSD. Actually, I was at Play Day in South Orange in 2015. Walking down South Orange Ave, which was filled with booths, games and people, reminded me of the set-up of a book festival. I have run my own press, Ig Publishing (www.igpub.com) for fifteen years, so I always have books on the mind.

2  were you always a writer and editor?

I started writing poetry when I was in high school, but wasn’t serious about it. I actually had a featured poem in the high school English yearbook my senior year, but to show how you little I cared at the time, the only reason it made it in was because they forced us all to write a poem for the yearbook because they didn’t have enough submissions.  I got serious about writing in college, after reading Yeats, Pound, and especially, TS Eliot. It was Eliot in particular who made me look at language in an entirely different way.  I didn’t get involved in the editorial side until 15 years ago, when I started my press.

3  name your three favorite books

Hard one, as books that were very influential to me when younger, like Tropic of Cancer or Ethan Frome, I haven’t picked up in years, so I don’t know how my older brain would feel about them. There are also the books I publish, which almost feels like shouldn’t count, or should count more, I don’t know. At this moment, I’ll go with Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Ask the Dust by John Fante, & Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsu.
4  if you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be?
I’m not a big fan of wanting to meet this celebrity, or this famous person from history, mainly because, while you might admire their work or accomplishments, you have no idea how interesting they would be to talk to, or how much of their public persona is real. I’ll go with Pete Townshend, because he seems quite chatty in interviews, any one of the Three Stooges except for Joe because he wasn’t funny, and Albert Einstein, not because of his genius, but because he used to do these public events where he would talk on stage to thousands of people, accompanied by a pretty girl, like a magician with an assistant, and one of those pretty girls was my grandmother. Einstein actually wanted her to go on tour with him, but my grandparents were engaged, and my future grandfather didn’t want her to go. A few years ago, before she died–my grandmother lived to be almost 100–she told me, I should have gone on tour with Einstein first, then married your grandfather when I came back.

5  do you read on kindle?

Only manuscripts for my press, mainly so I didn’t have to print them out. For “real” books, nothing beats holding paper in your hands.
6  what are your thoughts on Amazon in three words? Rules Don’t Apply
7  who’s your favorite band/singer?  The Who
8  what’s your favorite place in the world?  A place I’ve never been
9  are there any movies that you liked much better than the book? if so, which one?
Not really. The closest was John Huston’s version of The Dead, which matches the power and intensity of the James Joyce story on which it is based. I read the story first, and was amazed that the way I had imagined it in my head when reading matched the images on the screen. Perfect story, perfect film.

 

Founders’ Park South Orange

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2 ADDING ELECTRIC AND WATER (for park events and water fountains)

3  SIGNAGE – add park name, Founder’s Park to an attractive sign near entrance

4  UPGRADED FENCING

5  PARK CLEAN-UP & PLANTING – (year 2) taking place May 20.

6 PLAY AREA  – Add benches, tables for adults between swings and street and add more swings, slides & fun play structures to entice kids

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7  WALL OF BUILDING NEXT DOOR  – Paint a mural on the wall

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8  GAZEBO AND SHUFFLEBOARD AREA – Eliminate black top and replace with grass or matching cement.  Paint or re-stain Gazebo, Good spot for 2 large permanent flower planters or some landscaping to perk it up.

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9  VIEWS

Improve views  around side perimeters of park.  Add smaller trees and other flora and block out industrial views on either side of park (skip laurel, ground shrubs, etc.).   Have a small dedicated Garden area with a unique layout and flora that might attract people like Cherry Blossoms in Branch Brook Pk.

10  PROMOTIONS & EVENTS

Summer events – BBQ,  Arts, Sculpture, Theatre, Music, Movies, Foodtrucks, Picnics, Bocce and other games…

 

THE NEIGHBORHOOD

Those interested in joining the AHNA and volunteering at its second annual park clean-up and planting day on Saturday morning, May 20. Visit www.academyheights.weebly.com or find the AHNA on Nextdoor.com.

The AHNA was established in 2015 by local residents, David Kraiker and Ken Krasner. Andrew & Catherine Kit, Linda Cappaze, Robert Lasner and others have also contributed significantly to the mission of “preserving the integrity and serenity” and raising the profile of the neighborhood. It numbers more than 200 members. Although young, the AHNA has already made its mark, working closely with the town on projects like the proposed 4th & Valley development  and 320 Valley St. as well as Founders Park.

New Trails in Watchung Reservation

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The Union Co. Dept. of Parks & Recreation hosted a meeting and presented a Trails Master Plan that has been developed for the Watchung Reservation.  This plan will create new trails and open the Watchung Reservation to mountain biking. The meeting was held on Tuesday, March 7 at 7:00 p.m. at the Trailside Nature & Science Center. The map above shows proposed biking trails in light blue, hiking trails in light green and horse/hiking trails in purple.

Reps of the Parks Department and its trails planning consultant explained the plan and answered questions.  Those attending had an opportunity to offer their input on the plan. A similar meeting was held last October, primarily for mountain biking enthusiasts.

The Trails Master Plan includes the construction of 13 1/2 miles of new trails which will be restricted to mountain biking only.  The new trails will be spread throughout most areas of the park.  Portions of the Sierra Trail and other existing hiking or equestrian trails will be shared by all users, including mountain bikers.  Some sections of existing hiking trails will be closed.  Debate is still ongoing regarding possible effects on wildlife and neighboring property.

The Clarus in downtown Maplewood

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Tom and Jennifer Carlin, Maplewood residents and local chef/restaurateurs will open a restaurant and bar at the Clarus in Maplewood, the mixed-use development rising at the site of the former Post Office.  Tom & Jennifer, the husband-and-wife team behind the Gladstone Tavern in Gladstone, signed a lease for a roughly 4,000 square-foot ground floor space on Friday.  The restaurant and bar will open its doors in the summer and will occupy much of the retail space in the new development joining two other signed tenants, Starbucks and BCB Bank.
The developer, Joe Forgione is negotiating with other potential retail tenants for the remaining space. He said there has been a great deal of interest from a variety of businesses, but wanted to ensure that tenants would not compete directly with other local businesses and would “bring vitality to Maplewood Avenue.” Forgione helped secure the liquor license for the venture and it will need to be approved by the Maplewood Township Committee (which acts as the local Alcoholic Beverage Control.)

All apartment residents on the second and third floors will have access to amenities including a state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga and spin studio, package center, resident lounge, billiards, and a beautifully-designed luxe lobby with double-sided fireplace. A digital, fitness-on-demand personal trainer will also be available 24 hours a day in the virtual fitness room. The building also includes a 20-car parking garage “with an electric car charger, personal storage space for residents, secured bike storage, and elevator service.”

 

Q&A with Matt Smollon, SOMA film festival mastermind #somafilmfestival #mattsmollonmovies

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From Thursday, March 9 until Sunday, March 12th the SOMA film festival will hold court at SOPAC and the Maplewood Theater.  I’m looking forward to attending the second year’s events which look to build upon last year’s successful maiden voyage. It’s the brainchild of South Orange resident, Matt Smollon.
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Below is some Q&A with Matt and find a link to the full website farther below.
1  what gave you the idea to do the SOMA filmfest?
It started with a conversation with Laura Bessey who used to work at SOPAC – Our daughters are friends. I asked her, “why doesn’t SOMA have a film fest?”  She said put something together and pitch to SOPAC.  I comprised a deck, consulted some friends who worked/ran film festivals, and presented. They gave the go ahead and we were off to the races.
2  were you always a writer and producer?
No. I worked in marketing, advertising, and PR for many years at companies like the NFL and Wiley Publishing.
3  name your three favorite films  
The Godfather 1 and 2, Tender Mercies, and Scarecrow.
4  who’s the biggest actor or director you’ve met and what were they like in person?
Harrison Ford and he was a very down to earth guy.
5 what’s the last film that made you tear up?
‘Fire at Sea,’ a documentary in this years festival.
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6  who’s your favorite band/singer?
The Who
7  if you could have three people at a dinner party who would they be?
My dad, mom, and sister who have all passed.
8  what’s your favorite place in the world?
Maine.
9  whats the biggest challenge building the filmfest?
Managing all the elements, venue, filmmakers, sponsors, and everything in between.
10  who’s your favorite sports team?  and if it isn’t a new york team or a team from the area you grew up in, explain why you are not a carpetbagger 🙂  I was born in Brooklyn, and was RAISED a huge Mets fan.  Been in SO for 10 years, no carpetbagging here.

link to SOMA film festival website

West Village Clothing Co., Maplewood

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About a month ago, after a coffee and nibble at Cedar Ridge Cafe, my wife & I wandered over to West Village Clothing Company at nearby 410 Ridgewood Av. in Maplewood.  She purchased some cool boots and I said hello to Stephen Hayden who was presiding there.  I knew him from our Academy Heights neighborhood. Here’s a brief conversation with his wife, the owner, Sarah Hayden about the shop and…
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Also, they’re having a crazy  Bag Sale event this Saturday!

1  when did West Village Clothing Co open?  August of 2016
2  did you run a clothes shop before that?  I have a background in urban planning. When my girls were born, I stayed home. When they started preschool, I worked part time at a local kids consignment store. I truly enjoyed working there & thought it would be great to do on my own. I decided to jump in & bought this business. I fell in love with the homey Ridgewood Row strip of stores. I love talking to the local cast of characters, my regulars and meeting new customers too! An added plus is that I can walk to work from home & my littlest kid is right around the corner at South Mountain Elementary. Win-win! 
3  if you could choose any person in the world to walk into your shop and buy something who would it be & what would they buy? Ina Garten (squee!). I could see her buying a wrap or a pashmina.
4  would you ask them for a quick selfie or photo?  Selfie of course
5  if you didn’t run a clothes shop what would you do?  I’d own a candy store (a la Dylan’s Candy Bar) where I would also resurrect my calligraphy business.
6  if you could own one item of clothing that you don’t currently own, what would it be?Hmmm…. I’m happy with what I have!
7  who’s your favorite band/singer?  shoes
The Smiths/Morrissey
8  if you could choose any 3 people in the world for a dinner party, who would they be?  Morrissey, Paul Rudd and Ina Garten. I think that would be interesting! My husband, Steve, would be there as well 🙂
9  what’s your favorite place in the whole world?
Quebec City during the Winter Carnival!