Clifton Merchant Magazine - August 2010

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Clifton Merchant Magazine is published the first Friday of every month at 1288 Main Ave., Downtown Clifton • 973-253-4400




A History of our City’s Music


Hupfeld was actually a Montclair resident who made good time of the quiet, rambling and wood panelled Robin Hood Inn, now better known as the Valley Regency, a wedding and catering site. This famous footnote opens Part 2 of our look at the musical roots of Clifton and the musicians who call our community home. We bring it up because you’ll find Tommy James (yes that Tommy James, a Cliftonite for 27 years) mentions it in his story by Carol Leonard. Over the next 65 or so pages, you’ll find other tidbits about music made in Clifton and photos and stories of singers, songwriters and performers who found their muse in our neighborhoods. So take an hour or two, get a comfortable chair and sit back and enjoy. As usual, you’ll find photos from back then and today and updates on friends and neighbors in our monthly magazine. Thanks for reading! -Tom Hawrylko Back in 1942, that’s Humphrey Bogart with

ong gone, save as a footnote in Clifton’s musical history, the Robin Hood Inn on Valley Rd. was where American songwriter Herman Hupfeld wrote As Time Goes By, which became famous in 1942 when it was sung by Sam (Dooley Wilson) in the movie Casablanca. You must remember this A kiss is still a kiss A sigh is still (just) a sigh The fundamental things apply As time goes by And when two lovers woo They still say: ‘I love you’ On that you can rely No matter what the future brings As time goes by Moonlight and love songs — never out of date Hearts full of passion — jealousy and hate Woman needs man — and man must have his mate That no one can deny It’s still the same old story A fight for love and glory A case of do or die The world will always welcome lovers As time goes by...

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Editor & Publisher Tom Hawrylko Business Manager Cheryl Hawrylko Graphic Designer Rich McCoy Staff Writer Joe Hawrylko Contributing Writers Irene Jarosewich, Carol Leonard, Rich DeLotto, Don Lotz, Jack DeVries

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant



Letters to the Editor

Clifton Merchant Magazine 1288 Main Ave. Clifton 07011

Just when I thought I was basking in my anonymity, writer Joe Hawrylko has revived me and many fond memories of my days in Clifton. My thanks for publishing I’ve not lived in Clifton for more than 45 years but I still consider myself a Mustang and enjoy your monthly magazine. Thus, readers may enjoy this photo of the 1941 Football team, taken in the old Wessington Stadium. Back then, before the glory days of Clifton Football, our ‘41 team improved (!) to a record of 1-4-3. How things have changed over these many years. Joe Menegus CHS Jan, 1944


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

the article on me in the July issue. Joe left two things out: “I do not leap tall buildings at a single bound, and I am a former social advisor to Billy Carter.” (Just thought some

would enjoy a good laugh— readers of a certain vintage will remember Superman and the former president’s memorable brother Billy). The article on Wayne Demikoff was nothing short of outstanding. Wayne was and continues to be a special individual, and a great credit to himself, his family and his beloved Clifton. US Army COL (Ret) Jim Kennedy CHS 1960

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Celebrating Our First Year Anniversary


hen we opened a year ago we had a vision of what type of Salon/Spa we wanted. We envisioned the talent that would be working for us, as well as the culture and environment we wanted for our clients. That vision was a full service salon/spa with a Spa atmosphere where customers feel comfortable, relaxed and confident their services are being performed by a staff of experienced, talented professionals. We have spent the past year growing and building that vision. We began with a very strong foundation in Aug 2009 with Lisa Trombetta, Fran Kramer and Antoinette Felton all who have years of talent and experience. In January Anthony Casale joined out team, a veteran in the business and someone we have known for a very long time. We continued to remain focused on our vision, and were very lucky in March when Lisa Lupo joined us...a perfect fit. Currently we have added Brandy Finello to The Hair Spa Family, she has such a passion for her work and brings 15 years experience, and a special talent for highlights and color, and once again a perfect fit. We took our time adding each talented staff member, to ensure it was the right talent and fit. It paid off, the team we have selected is dedicated to their clients’ satisfaction. Building the right team is just as important as their professional talent, they go hand and hand, you

can’t have one without the other. We invest in our talent and offer continued education... we are excited that Lisa Lupo will be attending The House of Bumble in New York this Sept, for an intensive training as a network educator for hair designs. She will Brandy Finello and Lisa Lupo. then return to share her learning’s with the team. In our Spa area our estheticians Kasia Wojciechowska and Krsiti Breen have also been with us from the start. They have been the main participants in our beauty events, which occur in the Spring and Fall. During these events our product representatives, Guinot skin care, bumble and bumble hair care, and Labella Donna mineral makeup all participant in complementary facials, make overs, and more. These events have proven to be a great success, as our clients get the opportunity to experience the products first hand from the professional. We want to Thank You for your patronage and invite you to experience The Hair Spa.

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Doug Orey

Story by Joe Hawrylko hen he graduated from the Berklee College of Music in Boston last summer, Doug Orey was faced with a decision: Where does a young, aspiring musician live to ply his craft? He eventually settled on New York City, but then ran into a new problem: Finding affordable housing near The City. The solution? Clifton. Orey, a native of Maryland, contacted relatives in New Jersey and in 2009 he finally made the move. “You got to pay the bills and you got to eat. And I like to eat,” he laughed. “Living here lets me buy salmon and chicken. New York City would have me on the Ramen noodle diet.”


His path to stardom begins above The Clif

Orey was tipped off about New Jersey by his father Warren, who grew up in Clifton. The musician initially moved in with his grandparents, Emil and Margaret, who have been together for 58 years. Readers my recognize Emil, who worked for 38 years in Clifton Public Schools, serving as Principal of Schools 4 and 1. After living with his grandparents for a couple of months, Orey found a large apartment above The Clif Tavern on Clifton Ave. in December of 2009. Armed with a Bachelor of Music and a concentration in entrepreneurship, Orey is set to make his mark on the entertainment world. He’s transformed part of his apartment into a selfdescribed music room, complete with a makeshift August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


vocal booth. The ambitious artist also is into the business side of music—his apartment doubles as the headquarters of his label, Blue Cardigan Records, on which he will release his forthcoming album. You would never guess it from listening, but this aspiring musician actually didn’t pick up a guitar until high school—a bass given to Orey by his parents on Christmas when he was 15. However, he did display some other musical talents at a young age. In elementary school, Orey signed up for chorus and fell in love with singing. Eventually, his talented progressed over the years, and he successful auditioned for more highly regarded chorus. By the time he had reached high school, Orey had realized that he was quite musically inclined. He was one of 19 students were selected for the advanced music singing ensemble out of a pool of candidates from across the entire county. As he continued to develop his singing ability, Orey began to concentrate on his guitar skills, The Maryland native formed a pop punk band called Rookie Driver with his best friend, Max Lollar. Playing a style that Orey described as similar to a mix of Blink 182 and No Doubt (the band had a female singer) Rookie Driver quickly found success— Seventeen Magazine named the band one of the top ten unsigned garage bands in the country. “I think this is when I decided I wanted music to be my life,” he smiled. Rookie Driver eventually recorded its own five song EP at a studio in Rockville, Maryland. “We had some generous parents,” said Orey, adding that family helped pay for the costs. The band enjoyed success, but college brought change. Orey took over on vocals, and the band changed its name to Fly or Die, evolving into what Orey described as a more mature sound. Eventually, the band decided it was best to only perform during winter and summer break, since Orey was several hundred miles away in Boston at Berklee College of Music. Fly or Die also received some national attention, appearing as finalists in a rock band search. However, Orey decided that it was time to move on and began concentrating more on his own work. He improved

his song writing and began playing acoustic shows in the Boston area. The highlight of that time period is opening for The Honorary Title at BU Central, which is Boston University’s music venue. “I discovered them in high school. I was a really big fan,” Orey explained. “It’s always cool to see a poster with a band that you really admire and your name is right under theirs.” “I’m used to playing in front of 30 or 60 people if I’m lucky,” he added. “That show was over 400 people.” Orey continued to play solo shows up while at Berklee. However, in the months leading up to his graduation in August of 2009, he began focusing on finding an area to settle down and begin his career. “I’ll be honest, Seattle and London were my first choices,” said Orey, who added that finances prevented such a move. “And LA is really plastic. But Williamsburgh and Brooklyn feel right at home for me as far as music is concerned.” But the Big Apple is intimidating. With a city of this size, there’s a venue or a bar for artists of every genre—competition is everywhere, and for an original song writer, it’s even more difficult to get people to listen. For a newcomer like Orey, it’s important to make connections and give them a great first impression. “A lot of New York venues have open mike nights which they use as an audition,” he explained. “It’s the toughest part of moving to any town. At Boston, I knew who to talk to get a gig at this venue, this venue and this venue...” But to successfully promote his music, Orey needs to dedicate a lot of time to market himself. “The whole reason I took a job in retail is because it allows for way more flexibility than a 9 to 5,” he said. “My friend did a tour and then drove back to work the next day, then drive up for a show and then back to work. That’s what it takes. I already did it when we were recording in Maryland (with Rookie Driver).” But despite the busy schedule and juggling of responsibilities, Orey is quite happy with his decision to move to Clifton. His apartment is perfect for his needs—inexpensive, large enough to store instruments and recording equipment—and as a bonus perk, the constant partying downstairs at The Clif Tavern

“It’s always cool to see a poster with a band that you really admire and your name is right under theirs.”


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

downstairs drowns out any kind of noise. That’s perfect for when Orey gets the urge to try out a new song or just jam with his bandmates that support him at shows. Currently, Orey’s working on a solo album, which will be professionally mixed and mastered and then released on his label, Blue Cardigan Records. However, a little over a month ago, an error with the a hard drive wiped six finished tracks on the album. Despite the set back, Orey is taking it in stride. “We look at it as a blessing in disguise,” he laughed. Orey explained that he and his bandmates were already considering re-doing the finished songs before they were deleted. “Now there’s no debate about what we’ve got to change,” he laughed. Orey expected the final product to be released in the fall with 6 to 8 tracks. The ability to release his album on digitally and on CD will allow for greater exposure. Recent technology has changed the landscape of the industry. Digital music helps artists with exposure and allows small, start up labels like Orey’s break into the field. “The major players are really starting to lose their stranglehold on the industry. A lot of really great start up labels have crept up,” he said. Orey noted that some artists, such as Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and his personal favorite, Wilco, have released albums entirely on their own. Doug Orey Songs (2007) $12.99 Find this CD and more at:

The music business is a changing industry, one with plenty of new opportunities, Orey believes. “I knew since high school that I wanted my own label,” he added with confidence. Orey’s got his wish, but now the challenge is to see if he can turn his label into a serious company. It will be a difficult journey. Orey still must devote time to his own musical endeavors, and keep working his nine-to-five to pay the bills. But he is not detered. “I know my future is in music.”

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The Jades

Winning 11 of 13 Battle of the Bands, they opened for The Rascals in Wayne

The Jades, circa 1965, at the CHS talent show: Roy Parian, Wayne LoPresti, Tom Kondra, Craig Parian, Fred Sakacs.

Story by Joe Hawrylko hey last performed some forty years ago, but Tom Kondra still vividly remembers his time drumming for The Jades, and how the band evolved with the times. “All of the guys were from Clifton,” he explained of the five piece band, which ran from 1964 to 1969. Members are pictured above and on the facing page. “We won 11 out of 13 battles of the bands. The other two we didn’t win, we came in second,” laughed Kondra, who today is in the telecommunications industry and graduated from CHS in 1968. “I thought that was a pretty good record.” Though the group didn’t form until high school, the origins trace back several years. “I grew up on Edison St. with Craig and Roy Parian,” said Kondra. “I grew up with them and I had to be a musician. I was playing drums at 10. They played the piano.” Along the way, the group picked up Wayne LoPresti and Fred Sakacs, which would eventually go on to form



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

The Jades. Inspired by number of prominent musicians during the decade, the band started by primarily playing cover songs. “Then we started doing stuff like the Kinks, The Animals, The Rolling Stones and that kind of sound,” recalled Kondra. “When The Beatles came out, that’s when everything hit for us.” “We played with what we grew up with,” said Wayne LoPresti, who now lives in Wayne. “Things were changing around us and we changed too.” As the popularity of British Invasion continued, the band augmented its cover song line up to include The Beatles, as well as some Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Vanilla Fudge, Deep Purple and other bands. Another major inspiration for the band from Clifton was Paul Revere and the Raiders. The Jades were particularly fond of the group’s style. “They were one of the house bands on one of Dick Clark’s programs,” he

recalled. “We emulated them. They had ruffled shirts and bell bottom pants and jackets that matched. It was the Beau Brummell look.” The Jades honed their sound and settled on a style, and the band’s popularity began to take off. “We were playing school dances and stuff like that,” said Kondra. “Later, we ended up playing in clubs and bars and finding gigs like that. We started off playing at the Boys Club for $5 a guy.” But it was the battle of the bands events that really cemented The Jades in Clifton music lore: According to Kondra and LoPresti, The Jades won 11 of 13 events. “I don’t really know how we got into them,” wondered Kondra. “It was probably Craig, he was kind of the leader, he had a business sense. He was the one who really got us into the battle of the bands in Clifton and Wayne.” From there, other gigs followed. The Jades performed at was the opening of the new Wayne Mercury Lincoln car dealership on Rt. 23. LoPresti was interviewed on FM radio and the band rode the surge of popularity to the recording studio and even appearances on a locally produced TV show by Ed Zacherley in the 60s. “[Ed] was a ghoulish guy that used to have a TV show on Channel 47 in Newark,” recalled Kondra. “People in their 50s will recognize it.” “We also did some original material, but not a lot,” he added. “We went to a recording studio in New York City in 1968 and put together a single, Blew Over You. It got some FM play.” Perhaps most memorable to Kondra and his bandmates was the time that The Jades opened for The Rascals at the Lady of the Valley Church in Wayne in 1967. “They were like the kings to us. To warm up for them... That was definitely one of my favorites,” said Kondra. “We actually had an argument before the show,” added LoPresti. “We wanted to play some of their songs. How can you beat the Rascals at their own songs?” The Jades disbanded in 1968, as each of the members went their separate ways following graduation. However, most went on to continue to play years after the breakup. “Wayne and I had a wedding band that lasted for 10 years in the 90s,” said Kondra. “It was New Sensation. We got that from the In Excess song.” Kondra, who lives in Rockaway and now plays with a band called Bad Kitty. Though it’s been over 40 years since they last performed, the band won’t forget their short lived success. “We just played our music,” explained LoPresti. “And we had some fun at the same time.”

Wayne LoPresti then & now.

Craig Parian then & now.

Fred Sakacs then & now.

Tom Kondra then & now.

Roy Parian then & now. August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Melanie Rodriguez Queen of Peace Senior placed 3rd in national songwriting contest Story by Joe Hawrylko ith just three days to write and perform her submission for the National Song for the Earth contest, Melanie Rodriguez didn’t expect to win. If anything, she figured it would be a nice opportunity to pen a song about a different genre. When she received an email from Earth Day Network President Kathleen Rodgers, Rodriguez assumed it was an automated response stating that her submission had been received. “She said that I was one of the finalists and I just freaked out,” recalled Rodriguez, a Cliftonite who will be a senior at Queen of Peace High School in North Arlington this fall. Rodriguez was one of three finalists that earned an all expenses paid trip to the Earth Day Rally and concert on April 24 at the National Mall in Washington D.C. She was given backstage passes, and hung out with stars like John Legend, Sting, Passion Pit, Bobby Weire and producer James Cameron, most recently of the Avatar fame. “I got to watch it all from backstage,” recalled Rodriguez. “I never had the VIP treatment like that before.” And it might not be the last. This 17 year old has always had her heart set on performing, and Rodriguez hopes that her top three finish in the National Song for the Earth contest will be the event that launched her career. “I always used to love singing when I was younger, maybe around when I was seven. I used to sing Broadway in the car,” she explained.



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Songwriter, singer and guitarist, Clifton’s Melanie Rodriguez, backstage at the Earth Day Rally on April 25 in Washington D.C.

By age 11, Rodriguez picked up her first guitar. Not long after, she formed a pop punk band, One Way Conversation, with some of her friends. “I gained a lot of confidence when I joined the band,” said Rodriguez, who was the lead singer. She recalled the group’s performance at The Mini Factory in New York City in 2007. “A lot of bands that get famous start there. The Jonas Brothers performed a week before I was there and I used to be obsessed with them.” Rodriguez played with the group until she was 15, before splitting because she wanted to focus on some of her own material. The QPHS student said she drew inspiration from her favorite artists and would incorporate different styles into One Way Conversation, and later on, her own works. “I love Paramore and I love the Beatles. Those are my two favorites,” said Rodriguez. “And I love John Mayer. He’s actually my favorite musician. Those are my top three. “My styles kind of mix up everything. I write a lot about my personal experiences, or maybe my friends tell me about their personal relationships,” she continued. “I also have a personal style in my performances that comes from all of my influences. Haley Williams, the lead singer of Paramore, she’s just singing. It’s all about the music.”

Rodriguez included these various influences when crafting her song, The Earth Needs Me, for the National Song for the Earth contest. “I write as often as I can. As bad as it sounds, sometimes I write music in class,” confided Rodriguez with a laugh. “If I ever get inspired, I write it down. I have this big book I carry with me all the time. It looks like a big Bible, but it’s actually a lyric book.” “Instead of a dreary song about how the Earth is suffering, I decided to make it a positive song that someone can relate to,” she explained. “People will listen to it and be like, we can really do something.” The tune and the lyrics resonated with the judges, which included one of her favorite performers, Owl City. Although Rodriguez ultimately did not win the grand prize, she was a VIP for the show, backstage for the entire concert, which was attended by more than 200,000 people and featured a taped speech from President Barack Obama. Rodriguez deflected credit for finding the Earth Day Network contest to her mother, Marisol, who also handles the task of Malanie’s agent. “I’ve recently been doing a lot of shows in the schools and the community, and I’m writing my own music because I’m trying to get my own demo CD out this summer,” said Rodriguez, who sounds like a sea-

soned musician. “You’ve got to try everything you can. I play at every show I can. You never know what you can do to get your foot in the door.” “I’m hoping it’s a good thing for my resume, to finish in the top three in the nation,” she laughed. “But just to say that I went, and I was a part of it, and it was the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, it’s great.”

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant



A tribute to the Grateful Dead, this band shone brightest from 1973-77

Story by Julie Generalli Dominick t has been said that a star that burns twice as bright, burns half as long. The adage rings true for the short-lived, but fondly remembered group of Clifton musicians known as Starseed, a band whose light shone brightly from 1973 to 1977. “They rarely had a paying gig, but were a tremendous party band,” boasted Paul Tarlowe, whose youngest brother, Dave, was the band’s lead guitar player. “My brother is an amazing guitarist, who later played with Impact for many years with the Mueller brothers and then in Border Legion. They were the best Dead cover band ever and did it before a lot of people knew who the Grateful Dead were, before they played in huge stadiums and arenas.” Like the Grateful Dead, Starseed featured double drummers, Mark Lefkandinos and Pat Tomasulo. Tomasulo had previously played with Steve Tarlowe in The Establishment until the eldest brother’s untimely death in 1973. Also joining Starseed from The Establishment was the late Jay Saporita who sang lead vocals. “In those days it was me, Neal, Dave and Gary until Pat and Jay showed up,” said Lefkandinos. “None of us could sing well, but Pat and Jay could really harmonize. The older guys got us the party gigs.” Tomasulo and Saporita graduated from Clifton High School in 1969. Dave and Mark graduated in 1974 with other members, rhythm guitarist Gary Ambrosi and bassist Neal Schwartz. Paul Tarlowe remarked that Dave, Neal and Gary were the true core of the group— guys with real chemistry. “They were truly inspired,” he quipped. In addition to the Grateful Dead, Starseed also sang songs by the Rascals, some Establishment songs and a few originals. Alan Bradshaw was a good friend of the band and recalls one of their originals was written by the band’s roadie and sound man, Gary Peterson, who later did sound for


From left: Dave, Paul and inset, Steve Tarlowe.

Impact. The song was about a 1957 Chevy belonging to one of the guys. But over the decades, facts are hazy. “It was a long time ago. It’s all a big smoky haze at this point,” recalled Bradshaw. What he does recall is the band rehearsing in his parents’ basement. “It got smokier and smokier and not just from cigarettes,” he added. The band would practice in the basement of whoever’s parents were not home and if they did come home, the band would pack up and move to someone else’s basement. Neal Schwartz said a hundred people would show up. “We were young and had a lot of energy. We all really dug the Grateful Dead at the time and that was it,” he said. “We were 16 or 17 years old and it put us on the road to playing the instruments we play now. A lot of bands made money. We had fun. We had a blast just playing in Mark’s basement.”

Gary Ambrosi was a drummer in Marmo’s Army until he picked up a rhythm guitar and joined Starseed.


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Jay Saporita, Pat Tomasulo (CHS ‘69), with Gary Ambrosi, Dave Tarlowe, Mark Lefkandinos, Neal Schwartz, (CHS ‘74).

Lefkandinos remembers making reel to reel ‘basement’ tapes of the band’s rehearsals, but no one could dig up any pictures or recordings of the band. “We weren’t thinking about wanting to listen to them in the future,” he said. Lucky for the band, Mark Lefkandinos became a businessman literally by accident. He and Peterson were in a car wreck on the same day that Ambrosi got his driver’s license. With the money won from a lawsuit, Lefkandinos was able to buy Wally’s Backstage Cafe in Bergenfield, where the band played a few times. Mark attempted to change the name of Wally’s to The Other One, the name of a Grateful Dead tune, but so many people knew the place as Wally’s that the name stuck. He sold the bar in 1999, but still works in the restaurant and bar business. “I had a chance to see Neal and Gary at our 35th high school reunion this year at Mario’s,” said Lefkandinos. “We talked about playing together again some day.” Starseed's first real gig was in 1974 at Drew University where Paul Tarlowe was a freshman. He arranged for the band to play at the school’s First Annual Picnic, which quickly became known as FAP, a tradition the school still celebrates 36 years later. “As they came on it got really cool and the wind whipped up, and people moved down to the stage to warm up and hear the band,” said Tarlowe. “The band played and blew the crowd away. It was magical. The wind died, the air warmed, they were awesome.” Pat Tomasulo, who still lives in Clifton, remembers playing at a small club in Wallington called Dave’s Cabaret. “I wish we had been more business savvy,” he said. Tomasulo explained that it was Jay Saporita who came up with the name of the band. Saporita had returned home from New Mexico in 1973 after viewing the Kohoutek Comet and was inspired to name the band Starseed after the experience. ‘Starseeds’ describe evolved beings from another planet, star system or galaxy, whose specific missions are to assist Planet Earth and her peoples to bring in the Golden Age at the turn of the millennium. It was the 70s after all.

Unfortunately, Jay lost his battle with cancer just last year. His brother Rich remembers his older brother as a huge Grateful Dead fan. Tomasulo agrees and said that the Dead made up about 65 percent of the music they played. Gary Ambrosi was a drummer in Marmo’s Army until he picked up a rhythm guitar and joined Starseed. “We did what we felt,” he recalled. “Our greatest gig was in one of those big Victorian mansions in Upper Montclair.” Ambrosi and Paul Tarlowe would later migrate to Oregon where according to Tarlowe the hippie types hung out. Ambrosi said it was really cool being involved in the music scene. Al Bradshaw, also a musician, was Starseed’s biggest fan having attended all their meetings, rehearsals and gigs. “We were just hippy dippy Grateful Dead boys and girls,” he recalled with a hearty laugh, perhaps still longing for those good ole days.

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Jordan Kaplan

Story by Irene Jarosewich

An unorthodox path through the music industry finds this rock and roller on Van Houten Ave.


ordan Kaplan knew a good thing when he heard it. He remembers listening to Judy Collins singing Randy Newman’s classic “I Think it’s going to Rain Today.” He was captivated. A talented young pianist, Kaplan was studying classical music then at Julliard. Popular and classical music were two different worlds, yet in Newman’s hit song, Kaplan recognized the synthesis of a beautiful classic piano composition with haunting lyrics. “It changed my life, turned my life around,” he stated bluntly. Much to the distress of his parents, he sought out producers of popular music and at age 18, went to work for the legendary songwriter Aaron Schroeder, who discovered such talents as Randy Newman, Jimi Hendrix, Barry White. 18

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

“Aaron was nearing the end of his career when I went to work for him,” Kaplan continued, “Yet he was still writing songs. I learned songwriting from him— there, at his studios—wrote music and lyrics. Aaron wrote It’s Now or Never for Elvis. In fact, Schroeder wrote over 2,000 songs during his lifetime, 17 of which became hits for Elvis. I did lead sheets, transcribed tapes into musical notes, for Jimi Hendrix and Barry White. Randy Newman knew how to write down music. I was briefly fired for writing the instructions ‘Breathe Heavily Here’ on a Barry White lead sheet,” Kaplan chuckles. Because he was still young when he began to work with the famous musical artists, at times Kaplan feels as though he just missed being part of that generation

of great rock musicians -“no new generation like them since then” – even though he was in the thick of it all working in Schroeder’s Manhattan studio. The music of those years, from the British invasion in the early 1960s to the mid 1970s was highly sophisticated, said Kaplan. Many of the artists - Bob Dylan, Laura Nyro, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Art Garfunkel, Arlo Guthrie –had classical music training. They applied their skills and training creatively to the composition of popular music. “Everyone I worked with was 10, 12 years older than me. I was accepted because I had the classical skills of the older generation, but was also a young kid who got it,” he said. In those days, in the mid-sixties to midseventies, everybody played with everybody else in clubs, in bands, on soundtracks. It was open and loose. People fed off each other’s creativity, and people would help you. It was amazing to me, the openness, you could meet someone for the first time, and if you had the goods and the skills, you were welcome. I’ve not seen anything like that ever since” Behind the scenes in the careers of well-known popular singers and musicians are dozens of less well known, equally talented composers, songwriters, music producers. One of those talents was Buzzy Linhart. Kaplan played piano, performed, arranged, and cowrote songs with Linhart for close to five years.

“Buzzy arranged and taught “Get Together” to the Youngbloods,” noted Kaplan, “taught Billie Holiday’s “G-d Bless the Child” to Blood, Sweat and Tears during his brief tenure as their lead singer, wrote “The Love’s Still Growing” for Carly Simon’s first album. It was for Bette Midler that Linhart co-authored the song “(You gotta have) Friends.” “Bette Midler was our drummer’s girl friend back then,” said Kaplan cheerfully, “she was a nice girl. At one time, she asked me to be her music director. I played one gig with her, but didn’t like the venue, and quit. Barry Manilow took over. My mother never forgave me for this.” “Buzzy and I had different styles,” said Kaplan, “ but they intersected. Buzzy and I co-wrote the title song “Masquerade Ball” for an off-Broadway show. At the time I also worked with Kenny Vance who went on to be musical director of Saturday Night Live, and later the Planotones. I music directed, taught, and ghost wrote songs for Lucy Simon, Carly’s sister, who later went on to write “The Secret Garden” for Broadway.” Then, almost as soon as it began, it was over. Kaplan has a theory as to why the decade of tremendous creativity and talent suddenly ended and transformed into the repetitive sounds of disco. According to Kaplan, “from 1966 to 1973, in America, music under-

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


In October 2000, the National Academy of Popular Music heralded Jordan Kaplan as one of eight unsigned writer/artists in its 35th Songwriters Showcase. The songs were Secret in Your Heart, from his first CD, Light, and Goodnight Jimmy Dean, a film score which is on his second CD, This Land.

went remarkable changes. In those years, each week there were better quality songs in the Top 10 than from 1973 until now. But it was over in 10 years. The reason? The record companies definitely shut it down. At first, they were having great success, but then the musicians began to walk in - the Rolling Stones –into contract signings with all their accountants and lawyers, demanding more money. So they killed it. The last good music year was ‘73, 74. By ’78, they killed it.” Kaplan continued to work in music, creating disco sounds. The synthesizer was still relatively new, so he tried it. “I was one of five major players of synthesizers in New York in the 1970s. We were the ones that created those horrible disco sounds, sorry.” However, Kaplan felt like a fish out of water. The music industry was changing rapidly. Multiple smaller record companies were bought out and only a dozen or so mega labels were left. He saw the talent and the training disappear. “Disco, punk, rap – this is not skilled music. Record companies figured out that you can’t make money on skilled music, because skilled music requires talent and time and training, all of which require money. So, I realized that all the true talents had already figured this out and had dropped out. Then I dropped out,” he said. What had been mainstream music had become alternative, and though Kaplan continued to perform and to compose, he began to look for a new profession. 20

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Paul Simon’s brother Eddie had started a music school, the Guitar Center, in New York City and Kaplan heard a radio ad announcing classes. He called Simon, told him that the piano playing in the radio ad was not that good. Simon invited Kaplan to the school, listened to him play, and invited him to teach. Kaplan taught at the school for many years as he continued to do his own music. Later, when the New School absorbed the center, Kaplan was given free rein to create classes. He decided to create one on producing music for commercials. “I wanted to teach musicians, but as it turned out, ad agency account executives, people with MBAs who did not know anything about music, took my classes, not musicians. After the class, they began to hire me to produce for them. I became an instant hit. One year, I did 300 commercials. I became the ‘go-to jingle guy’.” For a few years, Kaplan had good success, but then ad agencies began to undergo the same cost-cutting and merging process as record companies had undergone earlier. Within a few years, about 30 New York ad agencies had been reduced to six very large ones. Once again, paying for creativity and talent was considered unnecessary. “It was very lucrative and very interesting for a while,” said Kaplan, “I had clients such as A&W, and AT&T, Chase Manhattan Bank and Coca-Cola, Con Edison, and the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Mr. Goodwrench, Lufthansa, Nickelodeon, Toyota, The U.S Army. This consolidation and centralization, though it reduced expenses, also reduced creativity. When the creative lose control, a business gets cost savings, but loses vision.” “Nowadays most commercials don’t even create original sound. When was the last time you remembered a really distinctive jingle?” Ad agencies, once an outlet for creativity, now buy already existing sound tracks and recycle. Being distinctive costs money, and nobody is willing to spend the money,” said Kaplan. Kaplan feels that his relentless march for ever more profits during the last decades has resulted in a mindnumbing dullness in popular culture. “We’ve been eating our seed corn, creatively,” observed Kaplan, “we’re not developing for the future.” As he left big agency advertising behind, Kaplan was asked by Howard Jonas, founder of IDT, to create, teach, and run an innovative kids-at-risk program conceived by Jonas. “In the late 1990s, IDT gave me funding and carte blanche to teach at-risk teenagers. I took 15 kids

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


from Brooklyn, where I still lived at the time, kids with substance abuse problems, drug addicts to teach and turn their lives around using modern media technology. “The idea was simple, if they did well, they got to create their own videos and movies, and in the meantime learn about computers, design, and production. Often at-risk kids are brighter than average kids and they need to be challenged and stimulated. But to have the option to do cool things with state of the art technology, to do this they need to get 100% on each test. I taught them the way you teach an instrument - repetition, and practice. “Our educational system has arbitrary deadlines, learn something by Tuesday’s test or you flunk. Well what about Thursday, why not Thursday? Some kids need more practice, more time, so I gave them until Thursday.” Kaplan ran the program through Touro College and had great success. All 15 of his teenagers graduated the program, went on for more education and none went back to the streets. This program also that brought him to New

Jersey permanently, but in an unexpected manner. “We held our classes on the 13th floor of the IDT building in Newark,” Kaplan explained. “During 9/11, the building was identified as a potential target and evacuated. However, we didn’t get the message. I went upstairs, the building was empty. I went to the executive offices on the top floor and there was one only guy there, looking at a big security screen. Surprised to see me and told us to get out and far away. All of us were from Brooklyn and we couldn’t get back home – all the bridges and tunnels were closed. So one of the kids said that he knew of a place in New Jersey called Passaic and that he had been there once and it seemed pretty nice town, so we got into our three cars and drove up 21.” They walked and drove around the area all day and later that night when he returned to Brooklyn through Nyack, Kaplan told his wife “when this is over, I want to move there.” Since moving to Van Houten Ave., Kaplan has been teaching piano and guitar in Clifton and Passaic,

“Over the years, I have learned, whether it is in music, or advertising or teaching – organizing the information – composing the story – that is what is essential, that has been my constant. In life, composition, good composition, is critical.”


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Everyone wants to put their best foot forward, but people with toenail fungus go to great lengths to keep their feet under wraps. Not only is toe fungus ugly and embarrassing, it's also easy to catch. It thrives in wet environments such as nail salons and locker rooms, even in the privacy of your own shower.

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New Treatment for Fungus-Free Feet Thomas Graziano, MD, DPM, FACFAS, a Clifton foot and ankle surgeon, said once the fungus gets under a toenail, it's difficult to treat. Topical solutions don't always work and oral medications carry a risk of side effects which can be hard on the body. Dr. Graziano is offering new painless and effective laser technology to treat toenail fungus introduced recently at the American Podiatric Medical Association Annual Conference. The laser passes through the nail without damaging it and vaporizes the germs, killing the fungus that lives under the nail. It had been utilized by top podiatric surgeons in California but is now available here in Clifton by Dr. Graziano. “This new laser is much more effective than lasers I used years ago. It travels through the nail to the level of the nail fungus and kills the fungus instantly,”said Dr. Graziano. “We go in certain patterns to make sure we get every little millimeter of the nail plate.” The procedure takes less than a half hour and, while results aren't immediate, the toenail will grow out normally in nine to 12 months, in most cases. Reports show the laser is 88% effective, better than anything else on the market, said Dr. Graziano. Call 973-473-3344 for details. August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


and is the creative director the Passaic-based advertising agency Hidden Light Media, a client of which is Clifton’s ImmediCenter/Montclair Cosmetic Surgery on Broad


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Street. “Dr. Basista is a visionary,” said Kaplan, “he lets me bring what I learned doing national TV commercials to the local New Jersey medical community.” Kaplan has continues to write and perform his own music, blending his classical training with elements of traditional Jewish music and lyrics that he learned to write while still working with Aaron Schroeder. His style now falls comfortably into the category of folk rock and excerpts from his two solo CDs can be heard through his website: He also continues to work with other musicians and producers and in recent years has written and produced orchestral scores to 10 feature films directed by South African-born Ashley Lazarus, a highly regarded director of commercials and dramatic productions for public television. Through music, teaching, advertising, Kaplan has met and worked with many famous people. Particularly poignant were producing, arranging, and playing piano, organ, and guitar on the album Judy Collins Sings Bob Dylan for Geffen Records, working with the artist whose singing captivated him decades earlier. “And over the years, I have learned,” said Kaplan, “whether it is in music, or advertising or teaching – organizing the information – composing the story –, that is what is essential, that has been my constant. In life, composition, good composition, is critical.”

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Healing Sounds Writing & performing, music soothes Bev Boyarsky’s soul Story by Joe Hawrylko n 2004, Beverly Boyarsky was diagnosed with Polymyositis, a chronic ailment in which muscles throughout the body begin to deteriorate. Moving around the house became difficult. Simple chores became monumental tasks. Doctors prescribed Boyarsky chemo therapy treatments to alleviate the pain. But of all the treatments she endured, perhaps none were more therapeutic than performing. Once Boyarsky, a former Cliftonite and CHS ‘76 grad who now lives in Long Island, regained enough strength to go out, she auditioned for her current classic rock band, Checkered Past, for which she sings and performs on percussion. Though still suffering from pain and discomfort, Boyarsky said her symptoms are an afterthought when she’s performing. “My muscles are destroying themselves,” she explained. “The last two and a half years, I’ve been receiving chemo that they use for cancer patients.



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

About every six months now I need the treatments. I just had chemo and I missed two weeks, but I’ll be ready to go in August and they wait for me. I think it keeps me going, knowing that I have my music because I can’t imagine my life without it.” Boyarsky, has always had an ear for music. Her father, William, played piano during her childhood, and Boyarsky eventually took to the ivories. “There was always music in the house,” she recalled. “He was actually a school teacher for many years in New Milford High School and spent the last few years after retiring as a sub at CHS.” Boyarsky’s parents eventually paid for their daughter to take piano lessons, which she attended throughout high school. “My mom always tells this story to people. Whatever the teacher gave me, I never practiced,” laughed Boyarsky. “I was always writing my own stuff, just spending hours writing music and just writing poetry.” Her writing style mimicked that of popular performers during that era, among them Carole King, though Boyarsky admitted that she was unfamiliar with some of the themes and motifs. “I wrote about love. I don’t know at that age if I knew what that was, but I had a lot of love in my family and I think it just inspired me,” she said. “I just saw all the good in everything. I look back at some of the lyrics and I giggled a bit. But for a teenager or pre-teen, I think it was pretty good stuff.” At Woodrow Wilson, Boyarsky was a member of what she called “Mr. Rainey’s famous singing ensemble.” At CHS, she performed with the concert choir and was

In 1973, Beverly Boyarsky (third from right front) in Mr. Rainey’s Woodrow Wilson Middle School Musical Ensemble.

selected to North Jersey Regional Choir in 1975. The experience prompted her to explore other musical endeavors. Later that year, Boyarsky and other members of the former Beth Shalom Reform Temple on Passaic Ave. held a rock concert at the temple. A few years later, Boyarsky and her brother, a CHS 1979 alum, formed a short lived, unnamed rock band in the 80s. Her performing career truly kicked off when Boyarsky joined Tatouage, a two piece electronic keyboard-percussion group that ran from 1988 to 1991. “We were playing in different bars, lounges and coffee shops,” she said. “We played original music. Even back then, you’re unsure if people are going to like it or not.” At each show, Boyarsky found more and more fans. Eventually, after Tatouage broke up in 1991, the Cliftonite went on to record her own album in 1995. Backed with her own money, the production run was limited, but Boyarsky sold most of her discs. Her song, Thoughts of You, has appeared on several national compilations. Boyarsky also has a few tunes that appeal in Cablevision commercials and some shows. Boyarsky, who had a 25 year career as a public relations executive, joined another band in 1995. At that time, she was working for Underwriters Laboratories, and joined nine other co-workers to form Electro-Static. “Somebody put a call out to our general manager and he really liked music a lot,” she recalled. “There was a lot of musicians at work—10 of us together. We had our own rehearsal studio at work and we’d rehearse every

day at lunch. We played all over New York and never took a penny because we played for charity.” “We opened up for the Long Island Fall Festival in 1998,” recalled Boyarsky. “It was amazing. A lot of those people were professional musicians and did Electro-Static on the side in addition to their bands. It was all cover music, but with 10 pieces, you can do a lot. it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.” Eventually, the group disbanded, and a few years later, Boyarsky was diagnosed with Polymyositis. Though she credits music and joining Checkered Past with helping her cope with the illness, Boyarsky said another major part of her therapy was receiving her Doctorate in Metaphysical Science online this past year from the University of Metaphysics. “I had an epiphany of sorts and went to school online,” said Boyarsky. “I’ve since became an ordained minister [though the International Metaphysical Ministry University Seminary] and just finished my Doctorate degree. It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. My goal is, once I’m feeling stronger, is to council other people who are chronically and terminally ill.” Dr. Boyarsky will travel to Arizona in September for graduation and has her own ministry, The Beacon of Light. Visits to Clifton are rare as she lives in North Babylon, NY, with her spouse and their son and continues to compose new music while singing lead, back-up and playing percussion with Checkered Past, ( “At my lowest point, I just write music,” she said. “It’s just a part of who I am.” August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The O>Matics!

Story by Joe Hawrylko

Original sound & performance keeps this band new & improved!! ow exactly do you define the undefinable? It’s quite odd to be unable to fully describe something you’re listening to in a few short words. But that’s exactly the problem with The O>Matics: Even when they’re right in front of you performing, it’s impossible to file that sound under a certain genre. One moment, you think you hear a bit of Elvis Costello. The next song, maybe the singing sounds a little bit like something off of a Talking Heads album. There’s definitely some punkish elements, a little bit of the Ramones and a touch of Weezer. However, whether or not that’s a problem is purely a matter of perspective. Actually, it’s almost as if the O>Matics prefer to be undefined—and original. “We call it the O>Matic stare,” laughed Chris O>Matic, drummer for the three piece band. “We get on stage, put on our costumes and gear and people are like, huh? Then halfway through the set, people are bobbing their heads. By the end, they’re cheering.” The O>Matics were formed a decade ago by brothers Mark (CHS 1998) and Chris (CHS 1995) Mariano. Bassist Jamie O>Matic joined the group eight years ago and the line up has



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

remained consistant ever since. The key is chemistry—and not just your every day, ‘I like the same kind of music as you’ chemistry. Though only two members share a bloodline, the O>Matics might as well all be related.

“It’s like we share the same brain,” explained Chris. “If someone messes up, we’ll catch it and throw in an extra note to cover for it.” They each share the same dry sense of humor, finding a laugh in

an out of place joke or by guitar for a horror punk band showing up shoeless for a (“He did not fit in there at photo shoot (Chris also ALL,” laughed Chris” and plays drums barefoot). The the brothers had only recentO>Matic brothers each ly formed The O>Matics. adhere to a straight edge, There was a mutual clean fun lifestyle that respect between all of the bleeds through into the musicians involved, as they band’s musical scores. frequented many of the same And, most importantly, venues. Jamie, who still each of the rockers has an works in musical promotion, odd affinity for the World’s organized a 9/11 benefit later Fairs from the 1960s. The that year and invited The quirky promotional posters O>Matics to play. The three The O>Matic (aka Mariano) brothers, at left, and odd sounding inventions finally came together as a Chris, a 1995 CHS grad and Mark a 1998 grad. were the inspiration for the band in 2002, after The related to Jim Varney (better name and the O>Matic’s signaO>Matics played at the Clifton known as Ernest P. Worrell, a ture, zany style. Fourth of July celebration at Main famous comedian in the 80s and In early 2001, Mark and Chris Memorial Park. 90s),” miffed Chris. “That kid first met Jamie, and right away “That was my first time in was Jamie O>Matic!” they knew they had met someone Clifton and the last show before I Though they quickly became who had a similar mindset. joined the band,” recalled Jamie, friends, Mark, Chris and Jamie “It was just our second show, at who lives in Old Bridge. did not come together musically Images in Fairview. We just And those are the humble orifor another year. At the time, finished up our set and some kid gins of The O>Matics. Satisfied Jamie was singing and playing came up to me and asked if I was with their line up and sound,


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Chris, Jamie and Mark O>Matic: The suburban rockers next door. Check out O>Matic music, videos, comics and more at the band’s website,

the band began performing at various venues. Eventually, the gigs were becoming frequent enough that it became necessary to invest in something to transport all of the band’s gear. Rather than shell out cash for a rickety old Volkswagen van or some other intrepid vehicle, the O>Matics settled on a quirky but decidedly appropriate mode of transportation: A school bus. “We drove that thing around all day. We figured people needed cheering up,” laughed Mark. “It still had lights on it then. Our friends would come out of their house and wouldn’t realize we were in the bus. Then we’d realize there was a line of traffic behind us because no one was going to pass a bus.” The bus had to be painted, and all school markings replaced to pass inspection. Some fresh paint and the band logo in key locations, and the O>Matics had a new vehicle. Dubbed Carol, the band bus was a staple during the early years of The O>Matics. It was even featured as Mark’s ride of choice in a video for

the one of the band’s hip hop songs—the O>Matics even have urban influences as well. Chris fondly recalled transporting family, friends and fans to shows in the vehicle, hiding friends and fans under a tarp that stretched the length of the seats in the back just to save a few bucks when they would reach tolls. “People would meow as I’d pay,” he laughed. But as humorous as he and his bandmates found those trips, that school bus brought The O>Matics to hundreds of venues across the North East. “The Trocadero in Philly, that was probably our biggest venue,” said Chris. “Beck played the best show I’ve ever seen in my life there and I was on that stage performing.” On stage is where the O>Matics are most at home. Though the band’s numerous CDs serve as testament to its work, it’s on the road that The O>Matics have really earned themselves a following. “That’s what it’s all about,” said Jamie, as he

View The Giblin Report Wednesdays at 8 pm, Channel 76

Proud to Represent Clifton Assemblyman Thomas P. Giblin 1333 Broad St., Clifton, NJ 07013 office: 973-779-3125 32

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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began describing how a typically show goes. “Being entertaining on stage is ten times more important than hitting the right note.” “Me and Mark, we’re more comfortable on stage than in personal situations,” laughed Jamie. However, it’s something that you wouldn’t readily pick up on during a live performance. You typically won’t find an introverted person on stage in front of a few hundred people, gyrating his hips while singing and playing keyboard, or hopping all over stage while playing bass. “We definitely feed off the crowd,” said Mark. These veteran rockers have played at countless venues, but their favorite stage is located in the basement of a cozy home on a culdesac in Delawanna. Chris and Mark’s biggest supporters have always been their parents, Anthony and Joan, who allow the boys to utilize their basement. It’s now O>Matic central, where the band has honed its craft over the last decade. It’s the practice room. It’s where the three collaborate to develop new and original music. “If I’m listening to an old album, it takes me back to where I was at that time,” said Mark, explaining his song writing inspirations. This is where everything comes together. That’s exactly why the band is planning a unique release celebration: A show in the basement that started it all, which will be broadcast over the internet live. “I think it’s great,” smiled Chris. “We get to do it where we are most comfortable playing. I’ve always wanted to do a live broadcast from here.” The Clifton rocker explained that he’s recently learned how to use the website Ustream, and The O>Matics have already drafted up plans for how to best utilize the technology. “We’re going to call it The O>Matic’s Fun Fort,” said Mark. “We find cardboard box and turn it into a fort.” “It’s kind of like Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” added Jamie.

“It’s something that could be for kids, but really, it’s for adults.” The band is actually fairly familiar with broadcasting, as Mark worked (and managed for two years) at the nowdefunct Channel 19 studio at City Hall from 1996 to 2000. It was essentially the same as Clifton Channel 77 now, except that it was broadcast all over the county. Chris said The O>Matics are planning to create an internet show featuring the band. He envisions his brother’s distinctive artwork as the main theme of the basement set that The O>Matics will frolic through. Mark’s cartoons, which appear all over the band’s website, will be inspiration for some of those adventures. It may seem a bit weird, but it’s the type of thing that defines the O>Matics. The band is about much more than the original sound. It’s also visuals—bowling shirts and slacks, bizzare yet memorable performances and a unique website filled with instructional videos for The O>Matic personal sponge, cartoons and other... well, just plain odd stuff. But in some weird way, it all works—The O>Matic adventure spans 10 years, six states and over 600 shows. This is a very catchy band if you give The O>Matics but a moment of your time. The music could sell itself, but it’s all the other little things that really imprint The O>Matics in your brain. Most importantly, you can tell these guys enjoy themselves. It’s a formula that’s worked for nearly a decade. “It’s all for fun,” explained Jamie. “If it self sustains, it’s great.” The way The O>Matics see it, if you’re not getting paid, you might as well enjoy yourself... though they’d probably behave the same either way. The O>Matics will debut their new album on Sept. 17 at the Loop Lounge, 373 Broadway, Passaic Park. Show starts at 9 pm. Visit

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Suspend Reality for The Bertelli Bros...

Mr. Pants & the Adventure Soundtrack

Story by Joe Hawrylko The band-written bio only gives you a slight idea of what you’re in for when you listen to Mr. Pants and The Adventure Soundtrack: “Traveling through space and time on Maurice Selkirk’s Gondola, Mr. Pants and the Adventure Soundtrack stop at each venue to report of their galactic escapades.” And those videos on the website? An experience that is just as entertaining as it is perplexing. Unfortunately, it yields few clues as to the origin of the band, the reason for the funky costumes, or even the meaning of whatever the hell Jared Styles in singing about... Well, at least not ones that a rational person can decipher. Styles and his fellow intergalactic felon, Chill Bill— Dan and Josh Bertelli to those of you not familiar with time travel—formed this trippy quartet five years ago with Maurice Selkirk, bassist extraordinaire/gondolier and drummer Tammy Faye Wray. The Bertellis have branded their original music as psychedelic theatrical rock. Live shows are complete with poetry, stage play, the aforementioned costumes and more. It’s like something right out of the 60s. 34

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

But despite the trippy, the Bertellis are oddly... normal when meeting them in person. If you ran into either brother—and chances are you did, as they worked for the past decade at Bertelli’s Fine Wine, Beer & Liquor in Styretowne—you wouldn’t be able to tell that they’re psychedelic rockers with wild imaginations. Mr. Pants & the Adventure Soundtrack is simply a creative outlet, a way to say things that probably wouldn’t make much sense in any other setting. “I had been playing drums for as long as I can remember, probably the sixth grade or something,” said Josh, whose uncle, Bob Bert, was a member of the band Sonic Youth. “I switched to guitar in high school. I was in many bands in high school on the guitar.” However, it wasn’t until Josh graduated from Berklee School of Music in 2004 that they began collaborating. Initially, it was a three piece band: Josh on drums, his best friend from high school on bass and Dan singing and playing guitar. Eventually, the brothers moved on and formed their own acoustic duet group. In 2005, the Bertellis reinvented their style, picking up a drummer, a bassist and a new

psychedelic sound. It was the beginning of Mr. Pants and the Adventure Soundtrack. “They’re the greatest band to back us up and they deal with... well, they deal with us in general, which is amazing because we definitely kind of pull it off in the last minute,” explained Josh. “They’re great musicians, and very talented. You couldn’t ask for anything more.” Though their music is completely original, Mr. Pants and the Adventure Soundtrack do draw inspiration from a number of artists, and not necessarily just psych bands. “Phish is a huge influence, on my guitar playing especially,” explained Josh. “Also some Grateful Dead, Paul Simon and some more modern rock” “I was more into The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, that kind of stuff,” said Dan, who added that he is also a fan of Frank Zappa and Ween. “My father (Mike, a noted local sculptor and wine master) was a big Bob Dylan fan and was always giving us music from the 70s.” Although the brothers do share a similar taste in artists, they each have their own distinct playing style. “We’re like opposite musical talents,” said Josh. “I have a very huge music background, with lessons. He’s talented, but in a much more raw, natural way. His songs and my songs are completely different and when we get together it’s 50-50.” The idea to adopt a stage persona was borrowed from some of the band’s favorite artists. “For some reason we’ve always worn costumes,” laughed Dan, an art teacher who is going back to Montclair State for his Masters in sculpture. “I’ve always liked it—David Bowie dressed up, Frank Zappa dressed up. I felt like if it’s rock and roll, you’re supposed to have fun with it, you get on stage in a different persona.” As for each band member’s costume, most of it was just put together with random clothes found in the closet. The only true staples are Chill Bill’s cap and Maurice Selkirk’s black and white striped sweater—which spawned the whole concept of traveling through time. “Our bassist wore the shirt and I said it reminded me of a gondola,” explained Dan. Then he figured it would be fun if that gondola had the ability to travel through time and the legend grew. The odd dream-like theme gives the Bertellis the creative freedom to pretty much write about whatever they’d like. “I’m kind of a big fan of the abstract expressionists and surrealists. Their philosophy is to let their subconscious talk for them. Their body is a vehicle for their artwork. It helps us tie together these songs at concerts,” he continued. “We can end one song on the moon talking to Martians and travel through time to visit Hercules in ancient Greece.”

“The bass player is a gondolier that travels through time and we travel throughout the universe playing with him,” added Josh. “There’s so many things that can happen when you travel through time. It opens with a story and then he travels somewhere and every song is another story.” However, that kind of stretching of the imagination can sometimes make it difficult to find a stage to play on. Psychedelic rock has waned in popularity since its heyday in the 1960s and 70s, and the band’s original songs and quirky performance don’t match up with many other groups that play the bar scene. “What’s hard about playing your own material is getting people to enjoy it,” explained Josh. “A lot of cover bands are very successful in New Jersey. We struggled a bit and it’s tough to play original music. You learn to respect how hard it is to be an original rock band. Some of our songs are more composition based—my background helps with some of the long songs.” However, Mr. Pants and the Adventure Soundtrack has developed a following, playing as many shows as possible while promoting its CD. “We played in everywhere from Brooklyn and Manhattan to Clifton and the Clash Bar,” Josh said. “Mexicali Blues in Teaneck, that’s probably our favorite place to play. We’ve probably played there four or five times. We play wherever we can.” “Goodbye Blue Monday in Brooklyn is definitely our best and favorite place as far as atmosphere,” he continued. “It’s a great place, but it’s small. It’s got great sound, and there’s art all over the place. It’s like playing in our basement—that’s when we play our best. Our goal is to play as well as we do live as we do when we’re alone.” The band pressed 1,000 copies of Maurice Selkirk’s Time Machine, which was recorded in the makeshift studio in the brothers’ home in Hawthorne. It’s available for free at “I’ve been recording ever since I can remember,” said Josh. “This has been the hardest project I’ve done because it’s with a full band and so many songs. We probably bit off a little more than we can chew, but it has been a big learning experience.” Thought the band won’t make profit, the brothers don’t care. They’re doing something they love. “It’s to the point where when we pick up phone calls, we call each other by our stage names,” Josh laughed. “My brother, he’s the backbone of our main act, as far as stories and being the front man. He’s more outgoing and comical than me and I’m kind of shy, so we work great together on stage and that’s why this band works together perfectly.” August 2010 • Clifton Merchant



Behind the Curtain Pat Egan makes magic happen as a traveling stage manager Story by Joe Hawrylko When Pat Egan graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2009, he made himself a promise: Before putting his education degree to use, he would first attempt to work and earn a living in theater. Since he got his diploma, he hasn’t looked back. “I knew that I wanted to do theater,” explained Egan. “I didn’t want to go directly into a teaching job without trying this first, because then I’d have the what if.” Now 23, Egan is fresh off of a six month North American tour in which hit 35 states and logged over 10,000 miles as an assistant stage manager for Cabaret. Working 16 hour days, he was charged with coordinating entire sets and shows for Windwood Theatricals.


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


In 2009, Egan also had a 12 week gig as the head stage manager at the Tropicana in Atlantic City—one of the largest venues on the East Coast, second only to the illustrious Radio City Music Hall. The 2005 CHS grad is making quite a smashing entrance into theater as a stage manager—despite only having started working back stage in his sophomore year at TCNJ. “I actually acted from sixth grade through high school,” said Egan. “I realized I wasn’t as good as I thought I was, so I moved back stage and loved it.” At college, he managed five different musicals—an experience that helped refine skills that Egan still uses on the job today. “You oversee everything. You’re a liaison between production staff and the actors,” he explained. “You make sure everything goes smoothly and you pick up all the pieces when they drop, if they drop.” “As far as the production goes, you are in charge of making everything happen,” Egan continued. “Nothing moves on or off stage without me saying go.” He said the greatest learning experience was an internship he had last summer at the Summer Stock Surflight Theater in Long Beach Island. “It’s something you learn through experience,” said Egan. who served as the 2005 Marching Mustang Drum Major. “My internship helped a lot last summer. I got to work on a very busy schedule with experienced stage managers. It got me used to long hours and dealing with people.”


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

After the internship was completed, Egan began looking for jobs. Employers, intrigued by his credentials, started offering him contracts. Over the past 14 months, he has managed 22 shows. “I went to every podunk town in this country: Askalousa, Iowa, Medicine Hat, Alberta in Canada, Eugene, Oregon, Rotone, New Mexico,” said Egan. “They pay for all the travel.” The longest thus far has been Cabaret, a North American tour with Windwood Theatricals. Running from January to June of this year, the tour included 119 performance in 35 states—a distance of over 40,000 miles. Egan was on board as an assistant stage manager. “It was interesting at first. There was a definite adjustment to sleeping in a very small cubical and not knowing when your next shower is going to be and hearing the generator at night,” he recalled. “But after doing 20 16 hour days in a row, you get used to sleeping on a bus real fast because you just get on it and crash.” Egan said that the group would travel anywhere between 40 and 700 miles in a night. Tour stops were often states apart, and there was also the issue of constructing custom stages for each theater. “My favorite travel was going from Utica, New York to Reno, Nevada in four, four and a half days? Something like that,” Egan laughed. “We played everywhere from middle school auditoriums to 16,000

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


seat arenas and everything in between,” he continued. “Sometimes it took three hours to set up or sometimes it took eight—it depends on the venue and it depends on the local crew who helped us.” Perhaps most memorable was when Egan landed a job as the stage manager of the Tropicana in Atlantic City, where he worked on Footloose and Miracle on 34th Street. For 12 weeks, he lived at the casino free of charge. “I loved the Tropicana,” recalled Egan. “That’s the second biggest stage on the East Coast, and I was in charge of it at 22 years old.” Currently, he is looking for work again, having just finished an 18 day contract in Spokane, Washington. “I’ll eventually join the union,” Egan stated. “I’m unemployed as of the (July) 26th and I don’t know what comes next. I don’t do it for the money at all, because it’s not there. It can be, but not for a while.” But that’s just the life of a freelancer. Finding work can be difficult. Paychecks can be inconsistent, and in addition to talent, finding a job requires being in the right area and knowing the right people. According to Egan, the more steady work is found in theater cities. New York City is obviously a major draw. The CHS alum noted that Chicago and London are also excellent areas to pursue a career. However, until Egan becomes more established, he will likely find sporadic work around the country.


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Pat Egan knows the limelight: He is seen here in Passaic on Thanksgiving Day, 2004, in his finale as Mustang Drum Major.

“It’s tough. you live on a bus and travel all over,” he said. “I don’t know where it will go. I like it for now— I love it. You get used to the 16 hours day, flying all over the country.” “Will I do it in 10 years?” Egan continued. “I’m 23, with no wife, no kids, no mortgage. Now is the time to travel the country.”

Classes are held at Clifton High School



classes begin

September 16th

•• •••••••••• nesday Monday & Wed

t. 1 Aug. 30 & Sep 6-9pm

There will be no printed catalog this fall. View catalog & print registration form online. August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Obstacle as Opportunity Marching band field collision sent her life in another pattern Story by Tania Jachens For Lauren (Dillon) Chen, music is in her genes. “My mom played the piano, so I grew up with one in my house,” she explained. “I started playing at age eight very reluctantly, but then I began to love it. My great grandmother was a concert pianist for Queen Elizabeth, so I think that’s where we get our musical gene.” A love of jazz music and a desire to learn how to play it drove Chen to begin playing the trumpet in fourth grade. When she entered Clifton High, Chen (CHS Class of 2000), became too busy to continue with the piano, so she chose to focus on the trumpet instead. “I was really looking forward to joining the marching band because I had watched my older sister, Jen, play flute in it,” Chen said. The balance between the physical, mental, and musical aspects of the marching band was an interesting challenge and it was through CHS’s orchestra and band that Chen made her closest friends. “I still keep in touch with a lot of them. I even married one,” she said with a smile. One of the more poignant times of her involvement in the band was the 1999 summer trip to the Calgary Stampede Competition in Canada. “It was a lot of fun and we just missed getting first place,” she reminisced. Calgary was also where Chen collided with another band player and sustained mouth injuries. In six months, this grew from involuntary lip tremors when she played into embouchure dystonia, similar to Parkinson’s, which affects the coordination of the tongue and the respiratory system and prevents a controlled tone production.

Lauren (Dillon) and George Chen married on Dec. 27, 2009

Not willing to give up on her passion for music, Chen switched to the bassoon and received a scholarship for it to Ithaca College.

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

But in her sophomore year of college, the embouchure dystonia had spread to her jaw. “The doctor said that I had to quit or else lose the ability to eat and speak,” said Chen. “It was extremely difficult to quit, so I tried to continue playing the contrabassoon, which I didn’t have to play as often, but then I just went back to playing the piano.” Chen still plays the piano today and Bach, Chopin, and Debussy are some of her favorite composers. Even so, Chen expresses her good fortune of being at the right place at the right time. After graduating college, she returned home and a joint position was available in Clifton for a seventh and eighth grade band teacher at Christopher Columbus and assistant director of Clifton High’s Marching Mustang Band. Due to her previous years with the Mustangs, Robert Morgan, the marching band’s director since 1973, was “happy to have me back. He’s been a great mentor and friend and without his help, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Chen said. “We work really well together and we have a lot of fun.” With talk of long-tenured teachers like Morgan nearing retirement, the next question came easily: When asked if she would consider taking over the band, Chen thought for a moment and then said with a smile: “I would have to see where I am with my family.” Another aspect of Chen’s life that seemed to fall into

place thanks to music was her relationship with George Chen. He had played tuba in the Mustang band, so they had become good friends in high school. George graduated two years before Lauren, but they stayed in touch when each went away to college. Upon their return, they remained part of the same group of friends. “Slowly our friends started coupling off, so we started hanging out together more. It was a natural progression,” Lauren explained, laughing. They have been married for six months and continue to foster their shared love of music. Together they are members of the Clifton Community Band (George plays tuba and Lauren plays percussion), which performs recreationally, most recently adding the soundtrack at the Clifton fireworks display on July 4th. Since she was introduced to music at a young age, Chen also plans on sharing her love of music with her future children. “As a teacher, I hope to give my children the same great memories I had when I was in the band. My ultimate goal is that they become lifelong appreciators of music. They don’t necessarily have to continue playing, but hopefully they continue to be interested in it,” Chen explained. In regards to students who face similar obstacles while pursuing their passions, Chen lives by her own philosophy—and life experiences: “Everything happens for a reason. Another door will open up.”

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


O Holy Name

Story by Carol Leonard


he first time George King attended a drum and bugle corps performance he was just a little boy. His father played the drums and served as drum major for the Wallington Drum & Bugle Corps at the time, and he bought King his first trumpet when he was just four years-old. “For some reason, he thought I had aspirations of playing a horn,” King said of his dad. “I still have that first trumpet and I still enjoy playing it.” The lifelong Clifton resident grew up in the Albion section, where he continues to live today. He attended School 5, Woodrow Wilson Jr. High and the original Clifton High School, which now houses Christopher Columbus Middle School. While following his father around to drum and bugle competitions, King developed a passion for music and, in particular, the distinctive tone of the drum and bugle corps. “The all brass sound is unbelievably bold,” he said. “When I first heard it, I was hooked and I said that’s for me.” Other than an introductory lesson that came with his first horn, King pretty much taught himself how to play the instrument until he joined the St. Francis De Sales Church Drum & Bugle Corps and began working with the group’s brass instructor. It was a small corps and a good place to start, but by age 10, at the urging of the St. Francis brass instructor, he decided to try out for the more well-known and competitive Holy Name Cadets of Garfield. “I guess he saw some talent in me and thought I could grow more with the Cadets,” said King, who today is 66 and still involved in the corps. 46

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Cadets & Traditions Still Take The Field


It was 1954 and King was accepted into the Holy Name Cadets’ rookie corps. A year later he moved into the regular ranks as a full fledged member of the competition squad and eventually landed a position as a soloist. Throughout his teenage years, King’s life revolved around the Cadets. At CHS he played the saxophone for a while in the school orchestra, but never went out for the Mustang Marching Band because its fall season overlapped that of the Cadets. He also preferred the bolder sound of the all brass and percussion drum and bugle corps over the marching band sound, which includes woodwind instruments such as the flute and piccolo. The Holy Name Cadets competition season ran from May through October and, in addition to weekend events, the time commitment included two to three hour practices three evenings during the week. In the off-season, from November through April, the group practiced twice a week to learn the new music and choreography for the following season and also participated in some smaller indoor competitions.

“When you were in the Cadets, that’s all there was,” King said. “It was a complete lifestyle. The more you practiced, the better you got. But if you enjoyed making music, it wasn’t work, it was fun.” The Cadets won three national drum and bugle corps championships while King was a member from 1954 to 1961. The most memorable of these, he said, was in 1957. “We started out the season very poorly,” he explained. “We were short of members and just not playing well together. But we never gave up. With hard work and dedication, we attracted a few new members and we were able to turn it around. We were incredibly surprised and proud when we won the championship that year in the Convention Center in Atlantic City. It taught us that you can achieve something if you’re willing to work hard at it.” The Cadets won two more national titles while was King was still a member of the corps in 1960 and ’61. By then, the Church of the Most Holy Name had ended its affiliation with the group and the corp had changed its name to The Garfield Cadets.

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

From Holy Name Fife Drum & Bugle Corps, to The Cadets The Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps, now of Allentown, Pennsylvania, was formed in 1934 as the Holy Name Fife Drum & Bugle Corps by the Church of the Most Holy Name in Garfield. From its humble beginnings, today’s corps has grown into one of the oldest and most honored continuously performing drum and bugle corps in the world. The group entered its first competition in 1939 and was invited to perform at the World’s Fair that same year. It won its first national championship in 1940 and continued to perform throughout the years of World War II, despite the loss of many of its older Cadets to the war effort. Appearances were limited to parades and other local events and, due to the rationing of fuel for non-emergency vehicles during the war years, transportation to events was provided by Garfield Fire Department trucks. In 1958 the corps separated from the church, but kept its home base in Garfield, conducting its rehearsals in a space provided by American Legion Post #255. At that point, the group became known as the Garfield Cadets. Ending a 35-year tradition as an all-male corps, the Garfield Cadets opened up its membership to young women in 1969. In 1975 the corps appeared in its first Drum Corps International (DCI) finals and in 1983 its dynasty of innovation and DCI victories began with the first of three straight championships in 1983, ’84 and ’85. It was the first three-peat championship run in DCI history. The Cadets went on to win five more world championships over the years, the last of these in 2005. In 1989 the corps moved its administrative offices to Hackensack and then to Bergenfield in 1993, once again changing its name to The Cadets of Bergen County. The corps’ move to Allentown took place in 2005 into a 25,000 square foot former advertising office. Known simply today as The Cadets Drum & Bugle Corps, the organization is now run as a business by a full-time staff. Today’s corps consists of 150 amateur performers under age 22 from all over the country and the world. These include brass musicians, percussionists and an auxiliary color guard. The corps performs in competitions from May through August and will log more than 20,000 miles this summer in its travels. It will host its home show at Clifton Stadium on Sunday, Aug. 8, beginning at 7 pm.

Competition programs, which are performed on a standard size football field in nine to 11 minutes, are an extravaganza of musical excellence, marching precision, color, drama, dance, humor and emotion. Corps members march in intricate patterns, formations and transitions, all coordinated with the music of trumpets, euphoniums, mellophones, tubas, drums and other percussion instruments. Among The Cadets’ most notable performances was an appearance in the January 2009 Parade for the inauguration of President Barack Obama, one of only two drum corps invited to the parade. Although no current members of The Cadets live in Clifton, over the years of the corps’ history, and especially when the group was based locally in Garfield, many young Clifton musicians were members of the renowned drum and bugle corps. In 2009 the corps celebrated its 75th anniversary year by returning to Garfield on Memorial Day Weekend. A military mass was held at the Church of the Most Holy Name and the corps marched in the Memorial Day Parade in Hawthorne. Later August, The Cadets performed at Montclair State University in a 75th Anniversary Diamond Bash. The following evening the group performed with the Holy Name/Garfield Alumni Corps at Giants Stadium. Still today, before each performance, The Cadets continue the tradition of their song, O Holy Name: O Holy Name, My Holy Name, Thy name shall be eternally. Thy name shall spread throughout the land, and keep it safe, forevermore. When on the trail, or on the march, you’ll know that here is Holy Name. March straight and true to victory, FOR HOLY NAME SHALL ALWAYS BE.

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The group moved to Bergenfield and became known as The Cadets of Bergen County. Today, the corps is based in Allentown, PA, and known simply as The Cadets. King lost his dad when he was just 17, so after graduating from CHS, he went right to work full-time as a junior engineer with the Magor Car Corporation, which manufactured railroad cars. He worked there for 10 years, while attending Fairleigh Dickinson University at night for a degree in industrial engineering. After leaving The Garfield Cadets, he played with the NY Skyliners Drum & Bugle Corps for about a year, but the time demands of working fulltime and trying to complete a college degree at night made it impossible for him to continue with drum and bugle corps. “To keep up your skills and play really well you have to practice every day,” he said. “I just didn’t have the time.” King went on to develop a successful career as vice president of the Presto Lock Company in Garfield. After the company folded in the mid1990s, he ran a family business and worked as a consultant until retiring about eight years ago. Throughout the years, King continued to tinker with playing his horns and cherishing the memories of his days with the Holy Name/Garfield Cadets. He also kept in touch with a number of his fellow corps members, getting together with them from time to time to reminisce about their experiences with the corps. In 2000 King and several other Cadets alumni decided to try and form an alumni corps. “New Jersey had a ton of drum and bugle corps back in my day and during the 1990s many of them started up alumni corps,” he said. “So we got the word out and held an open house and about 25 people showed up. That’s how we got started. We thought it would be nice to relive the glory days.”

The group became known as the Holy Name/Garfield Cadets Alumni Corps. They practice Thursday nights at the Garfield VFW, performing in parades and shows, often alongside the current Cadets. Other alumni in the group who still live in Clifton include Joe Smeyers and Andy Swiderski. “Our goal is to have fun and carry on the Cadets’ tradition,” King said. “We do a limited schedule so it doesn’t interfere with anyone’s work and family.” One of the most rewarding aspects for King and the other members is the opportunity to interact and build camaraderie with today’s Cadets when they perform with them in exhibitions. “We like to kid with them about what it was like back in our day in the corps,” he said. When King looks back on his younger days with the corps, he realizes that the most important value wasn’t in winning competitions, but in the work ethic and life skills that it instilled in him and the other Cadets. “We were trained to carry ourselves with dignity and respect,” he said. “Even for us older guys today, this is what being a Cadet still means. It’s what you bring to the table every day as a good citizen that counts. That’s what we try to pass on to today’s Cadets.” King also gives music lessons to aspiring horn players in the area and he’s always on the lookout for a kid who he thinks may be a good recruit for the Cadets. He also enjoys spending time at his vacation home in North Wildwood with his wife Maria, who is also an accomplished musician, playing the flute and the guitar. Catch King and his fellow alumni Cadets in action at the Drum Corps—An American Tradition show, which will be hosted by The Cadets on Sunday, Aug. 8, beginning at 7 pm at Clifton Stadium. The alumni will perform two numbers at the end of the show and then combine with the current Cadets corps for a grand finale.

“We were trained to carry ourselves with dignity and respect... This is what being a Cadet still means.”

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

From left, Jim, John & Al

Blue Hill Jam

Cliftonite Al Jordan pulls bands together for annual September gig

Story by Carolyn Maso hey call themselves the Blue Hill All Stars, and it all started in 1999, when an outdoor September barbeque was turned into a full on live stage performance. Cliftonite and musician Al Jordan started his Blue Hill Jam to essentially create a stage for neighboring Clifton bands. Every September, Al invites friends, family and neighbors to his backyard for a professional performance with rock music, various musicians, great food, and a sound system heard down Van Houten Ave. “It’s all about pulling the talent of different musicians together,” Al said of the gig, always held the weekend after Labor Day. “It’s about musicians working together for fun to create a good quality show.” Al said he started his own musical path in Clifton High in 1977 when he started playing guitar. He later switched to bass guitar when he and his friends performed in the CHS talent-gong show. After graduating CHS in 1979, Al was involved in a series of bands. Being a parishioner at St. Philip the Apostle Parish on Valley Rd. all his life, Al eventually joined the Contemporary music group playing during Saturday afternoon mass. There he teamed up with Cliftonites Joan Maso (Paul VI ‘73) on vocals, guitar and percussion and Tim Holly (Paul VI ‘72) on vocals, guitar and harmonics. The three began to practice on the side, creating their own band, for Al’s Blue Hill Jam. “We pretty quickly found out that we have very similar musical backgrounds, taste and share a love of playing music,” Tim said. The band finally settled on their name at Joan’s daughter’s wedding on Sept. 27, 2009 when they played alongside another band, “Face Down Dead.” “We needed a name to use for the wedding, so as a reference to FDD and as a joke aimed at ourselves, we called ourselves ‘Not Dead Yet,’” Tim said. Not Dead Yet plays rock music reflecting influences from current alternative rock to country, folk-rock, and singer-songwriters. They recently began recording their own songs which they all describe as a “dream come true.” “I can’t describe the pride and satisfaction and pleasure of hearing songs that we created from nothing brought to life in our recordings, our arrangements and the collaboration with these great friends and musicians,” said Tim.


This year’s Blue Hill Jam on Sept. 11 will feature cover songs and some original work from Not Dead Yet. “What’s great about BHJ is Al’s vision of putting out good quality music for our friends and families, having so much fun doing it that they can’t help but enjoy it too. And maybe most importantly bringing together musician friends who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to sing and play together,” Tim said. There are a variety of performers during Al’s Blue Hill Jam including Cliftonites Dave Insigna, Tom Piazza and Tom Huelbig. One of the main bands featured every year are The Agents, a group of best friends who originated in Clifton. The Agents are a cover band who have a growing following from playing gigs at Bogey’s on Valley Rd. The current lineup is Jon Juengling on vocals, Glen Juengling on bass, Rob Dunn on guitar, Matt Michura on drums, and Leo Jordan (CHS ‘80) on guitar. During one of The Agent’s recent Bogey’s performances their classic rock style brought a crowd together over drinks and dancing. August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The Agents, from left, at Bogey’s: Leo Jordan, Matt Michura, Jon Juengling, Glen Juengling, and Rob Dunn.

After sitting down with the band it was easy to sense the love these guys have for music and one another. Music is not just a hobby but a life style they have grown completely accustomed to. “It’s all about fun,” Glen said. “If the band isn’t having fun, the crowd is not having fun. The Agent’s are guaranteed fun.” The origins of The Agents started when Al’s brother Leo started playing in a band with Rob called “Southern Sage.” “Back then we were mainly playing southern rock,” Leo said. “After leaving that band, I formed a band with Jon on vocals, Glen and myself on guitars, and my brother Al on bass.” They called themselves the “J Brothers,” Leo said. When Al left the band the guys started moving toward more of a rock repertoire. “After moving from country rock to more mainstream rock, we felt a name change was in order,” Leo said. The guys explained that back then a common joking phrase they used to describe someone was “He’s a bad agent.” From that phrase they decided to call themselves The Agents.


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

The band plays what has come to be called classic rock, usually music from the 60s through the 70s. “We play the songs you want to hear,” Leo said. The band said the main reason they look forward to playing at the annual Blue Hill Jam is because it gives them the chance to change up their repertoire and try new things while collaborating with other musicians. “I guess what we like most about the jam is the opportunity to play with other musicians we don’t normally play with. It kind of brings a feeling of community to the local music scene,” Leo said. This year will be the 12th Blue Hill Jam held in Al’s backyard, and the musicians can thank their love of music for keeping the tradition. The Jam has become such an expected event every year that Al said he simply keeps it going to stick with tradition. “My son Alan and daughter Catherine grew up through the Blue Hill Jam and now they are playing with us.” As the bands rehearse weekly through the summer to prepare for the jam, Al said he looks forward to good weather and executing a good show.

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Lizard King Story by Joe Hawrylko im Salerno is a man leading two lives. To most, he is just a regular employee of Novartis Pharmaceuticals—a seemingly quiet clinical payments analyst living an inconspicuous life not far from the banks of gentle Lake Hopatcong. But you wouldn’t recognize Salerno once his alter ego shows up later that evening. His normally short hair is transformed into long, dark locks that are only kept tame by the black leather hat atop his head. The reading spectacles are swapped out for shades as dark as the night, concealing what are surely the eyes of a singer gone mad. A bellowing roar erupts deep from within his soul as he shouts into the microphone. Jim Salerno is The Lizard King, Jim Morrison, and he’s loving every second of it. The former Cliftonite is the frontman for Renfield’s Roadhouse, a Doors tribute band that has been performing since 2001. “Since I was about 14, I’ve been intrigued by Jim Morrison,” said Salerno, who grew up in Clifton and has lived in Lake Hopatcong for the past 22 years. “I’m a student of him. I’ve got every book possible, every possible picture.” Most people go through points where they are infatuated with one band or another. Salerno’s was obsessed with his boyhood idol and harbored dreams of singing some day. Once he hit Clifton High School, Salerno joined a band, Destiny. “That was the late 70s,” added the 1980 CHS graduate. “We used to play at the Clifton Boys Club. We were all high school kids and played at big venues like St. Andrew’s Church.” The classic rock cover group included Salerno at the helm, along with fellow Cliftonites Lucien Nocelli, John Judge, Larry Midler and Steve DiFabrizio. The short lived group ran through high school and broke up when the boys each went their separate ways in college. Though his love of The Doors and Jim Morrison never waned, Salerno desire to perform did. It was nearly two decades before the former Cliftonite stepped in front of a mic again. The year was 2001, and Salerno had just met the guys from Renfield’s Roadhouse, the band he still sings for today.

Jim Salerno: corporate analyst or Jim Morrison reborn?


Jim Salerno on stage. Below is the band: Drummer Steve Carriero, bass player Kurt Scherwatzky, singer Jim Salerno, keyboards Marty Puglisi and not pictured is guitarist Greg McNally.

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


‘It started out where you do a forming a three set gig with 35 to 40 cameo here and there, or maybe songs. Renfield’s Roadhouse has a called up to do a song,” he explained. Doors repertoire of over 25 songs. “Eventually, it evolved to, ‘you better “I don’t really have a favorite join and start coming to practice and song,” added Salerno. “I enjoy doing get playing with us.’” them all. But there’s nothing like LA The band, which was formed in Woman or Soul Kitchen.” 2000, takes named after the iconic Salerno, 48, said that the band typDoors song, Roadhouse Blues, and ically practices on Monday nights to Renfield, the quirky Weimaraner accommodate the schedules of each hound owned by one of the band band member. But even with limited members. Renfield’s Roadhouse time to sharpen their performance plays a wide variety of cover music, chops, Renfield’s Roadhouse has including classical rock from the 60s developed a following. through the 80s. “Usually The Doors tribute gets Of course, it’s the iconic band from pretty interesting, especially because Los Angeles that draws the crowds, a it’s starting to get known around the Jim Salerno, CHS 1980. fact not lost on Salerno. Lake Hoptacong area,” explained “We try to do the whole Doors concert experience,” Salerno. “It has transformed itself into a 60s type he explained. “Morrison did a lot of poetry leading into venue—tiedye shirts and Jim Morrison stuff. It’s songs—some freaky stuff. But we do the whole thing evolved into a real throwback.” the way he did it. It definitely turns some heads.” Jim Salerno and Renfield’s Roadhouse will channel Renfield’s Roadhouse typically plays one gig a the Lizard King and perform at Pub 17 in Ramsey on month and, on average, five to six Doors cover shows. Sept. 25. For more on the band go to http://mysite.verSalerno said that band primarily hits the bar circuit or find them on Facebook with a around Ramsey, Hopatcong or upstate New York, persearch for Renfield’s Roadhouse.

Sherry & Barry Rosenfeld are the 2nd generation owners of Dundee Floor Covering.

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

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The Late Show

Paul VI Grads still makes it like family


alb hink of a performing family. Names like the Jonas Brothers, the Hansens, Osmonds and Jacksons are obvious. But are you familiar with the Hoffmans? Performing as The Late Show, this musical Clifton family has been working nearly three decades. Comprised of three brothers and a sister, the band had its start performing cover songs in area bars and clubs. Over the last two decades, their repertoire has expanded to include the sounds of the early 70s to current hits. Today they perform at weddings, anniversaries and other private parties. “We never had aspirations of becoming a famous band,” said Jean Hoffman Cummings, lead vocals. “We were in it for the joy of performing.” In fact, the band was formed on a lark. While each of the brothers performed with friends in other bands, they often practiced together. With Ray on keyboards, Michael on guitar and James on drums, all they lacked was a singer. “One of my brothers grabbed me to sing





The Late Show: Jim Hoffman, drummer, Mike Hoffman, guitar and vocals, Jean Hoffman Cummings, vocals and Ray Hoffman on keyboard.

while they were jamming,” recalled Jean Cummings. “Before you knew it, we had a band.” Adding a name made it official. Why The Late Show? It began as a dual edged joke, and you may have to be a certain vintage to get it. First, the Hoffmans liked the little cartoon burglar who accompanied the late movie in the early 80s. So, in honor of the small thief, they named the band The Late Show.

However, the name took on a new meaning when the band showed up minutes before stage time at several of their early performances. Despite their success as a party band, the four Pope Paul VI grads only put part time hours into their music, as each has non-music related careers. “It’s a great part time job,” said Cummings. Plus, she added, “It’s a good time to spend together as a family.”

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Cliftonite Tommy James From HHH to the Hanky Panky at Roulette Records Story by Carol Leonard If you’re a Baby Boomer, especially one who came of age during the rock ‘n’ roll breakout decade of the 1960s, you’re probably a fan of legendary singer and songwriter Tommy James. From Hanky Panky to Mony Mony, Crimson and Clover, Crystal Blue Persuasion, I think We’re Alone Now and numerous other hit singles and albums, Tommy James and The Shondells are among the most successful and longest performing music groups in the world. To his credit, James has 23 gold singles, nine gold and platinum albums and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Over the years, more than 300 other recording artists, including Neil Diamond, Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson and Prince, have produced their own renditions of James’ songs or performed them in concert, and his music has been incorporated into countless movies, TV shows and advertisements. Born in Dayton, Ohio as Thomas Jackson, Tommy James lived most of his youth with his family in Niles, Michigan. But, did you know that from 1973-2000 the famous rock star resided in Clifton? James had been living in Manhattan, while recording for Roulette Records, when he decided that he wanted to move out to the suburbs. His friend, music producer Joel Diamond, lived in Clifton and his parents were in the real estate business. They operated the 56

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

In New York City with Dick Clark in 1984 (left) and with Ed Sullivan back in the late 1960s.

Diamond Realty agency and they sold James his house on Woodlawn Ave. in the Montclair Heights section. “I wanted to get out of the city and I really fell in love with Jersey,” James said. “Jersey reminds me a lot of Michigan, just more crowded. It has the same rolling hills and greenery, just not as much space.” James said that living in North Jersey made it easy for him to commute to the city and be close to where

much of the music industry is based. “Plus, I could go home and see squirrels and have a fence.” He now thinks of New York as a theme park. “I pay my admission to get in, and then I go home,” he said. While in Clifton, James enjoyed going out to eat at the old Robin Hood Inn on Valley Road. “I loved the Robin Hood,” he said. “There was a lot of history there. I heard the theme from Casa Blanca was written there.”

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


He also enjoyed visiting and riding through nearby Brookdale Park. James was only 26 when he came to Clifton, so he lived a good part of his young adult life in town. “I feel like I grew up there,” he said. “I still have great fondness for Clifton.” When he decided to leave Clifton for a larger home, he didn’t go far. He moved to Cedar Grove, where he continues to live today with Lynda, his wife of 38 years. He has one grown son. James still passes though Clifton from time to time and sometimes drives through his old neighborhood. “I get very nostalgic when I do,” he said. One of the most interesting relationships that developed for James during the early years of his career was with former Vice President Hubert Humphrey when Humphrey was the Democratic nominee for president in 1968. James and his group had appeared earlier at a rally in New York for then Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy. After Kennedy was assassinated and Humphrey won the nomination, his staff contacted James to head the presidential candidate’s Youth Affairs Commission and to appear with him at campaign rallies. “He was one of the nicest people I ever met,” James said of Humphrey. “We stayed good friends until the


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

day he died.” Humphrey wrote the liner notes to James’ Crimson and Clover album. More than 40 years after producing his first big hit, Hanky Panky, the 63 year-old James is still going strong, performing with The Shondells (whose members have changed several times over the years) to sellout crowds in various venues around the country. In May he headlined the annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame benefit gala in Cleveland. “I feel blessed that I’ve had this longevity,” he said. The fans have been great.” He’s also out and about promoting his new book, Me, The Mob and The Music, an autobiography that was released earlier this year. Much of the book is about his relationship with Roulette Records, which produced all of James’ early hits while he was under contract with the firm from 1966-74. Owned and operated by Morris Levy, Roulette Records was also a front for the Genovese crime family and Levy was considered to be the “Godfather” of the music industry at the time. He was later exposed and convicted of extortion. James contends that he and his group were unaware of the sinister side of the company when they signed with them and that he was cheated out of millions of





For more on Tommy James, visit his website:

dollars in royalties over the years he was under contract with Roulette. “It was a dangerous place to be,” he said of his relationship with Levy and Roulette. “And none of the fans knew about it.” James said that he waited until Levy and the rest of the

mob-related regulars in Roulette had died before he began work on the book with collaborator Martin Fitzpatrick. They used the titles of James’ hit songs as the chapter titles in the book, which took eight years to complete. “It’s a story I had been wanting to tell for a long time,” he said. “Frankly, it was very therapeutic to write.” James said that he’s been “flabbergasted” at the response he’s had to the book. His story is expected to be brought to life on screen and in a Broadway show next year. One of the ironies of his days with Roulette, James admits, is that it was Levy and Roulette Records who made him famous. “I owe what I am to Roulette Records,” he said. “Without it, there would be no Tommy James.” Also revealed in the book is the story of Tommy’s substance abuse and other seedier aspects of his personal life during his earlier career that, today, he is glad are behind him. “I had to tattletale on myself,” he said. “But if you hadn’t been the person you were then, you wouldn’t be the person you are now.” Among their upcoming gigs, Tommy James and The Shondells will appear in concert at the Community Theater in Morristown on Saturday, September 18.

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

More notes on musicians...

Rene Valentino D

rummer Rene Valentino lays claim as the first female drum sergeant of the Marching Mustangs. But this sometimes Cliftonite made her name with Hari Kari, considered the female Metallica of the 1980s. Since that time, she and her drums performed, recorded and/or toured with members of the Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club; Steve Miller; Southside Johnny; Tammy Wynette and many others. Self taught while growing up in Dutch Hill, she eventually studied with Max Roach, Joe Morello and Rod Morgenstein. While she began her career in heavy metal, Valentino is adapt at many genres. Today she performs with a jazz orchestra, a ukulele band and started Kitty Galore, an all girl pop and rock band. Find out more at

Bob Bert H

is father, Angelo was the 1943 Heisman Trophy winner and his brother Mike is an acclaimed sculptor. His two nephews (see page 34) have just produced their first CD. It seems there was a lot of creativity in the Springdale Court home of the Bertelli family and maybe that’s why Bob Bert (his stage name) has had so much success in the music industry. For the past three decades, he has worked consistently as a drummer in various bands, the most famous, perhaps, was Sonic Youth. After that he performed with Bewitched, Action Swingers and Chrome Cranks, before joining the Knoxville Girls in 1998. A 1973 CHS grad, he studied at the School of Visual Art in New York City. In 1977 he took a job in a fine art silkscreen shop that led to a position working for Andy Warhol. After Warhol’s death in 1987 (at which time the shop folded) Bert focused primarily on his music career. From 1995 to 2004, he and his wife Linda Wolfe published an arts and music magazine BB GUN ( which featured “candid interviews of inspirational artists.” For more on Bob Bert, go to

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Linda Pereksta L

inda Pereksta joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as Assistant Professor of Flute in 2009. She is now Dr. Linda Pereksta and recently won the Piccolo chair in the Madison Symphony Orchestra. The Piccolo appears in ten shows and three concerts starting in October. This 1991 CHS grad was previously at the University of Mississippi, where she taught Flute, Aural Skills and played Principal Flute with the Tupelo Symphony Orchestra and Piccolo with the Arkansas Symphony. She performed in joint concert with the New York Philharmonic, under the batons of James Conlon, Leonard Slatkin and Lorin Maazel. The former Marching Mustang can be heard on the Nonesuch CD, Our New Orleans, accompanying Randy Newman.

The Allupons T

he Allupons, the Clifton-based indie group featured on last August’s cover, will release their first album entitled Long Winter on Oct. 19. Their influences of rock, folk and orchestral music create an eclectic sound. Brian Kennedy’s lyrics of love, loss and redemption mix with elaborate instrumentation, powerful guitar work, full orchestral arrangements, and a rotating cast of instruments and themes. Beyond Kennedy (vocals, guitar, piano), other Cliftonites include Angel Santana (bass), Annamaria Chilimintris (strings) and Kenneth Perez (trombone). Info at

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Leanne Weiss

d iy ee n


eanne Weiss is a seasoned solo artist with experience performing all over the tri-state area. The daughter of Dr. William Weiss of the Passaic County Elks Cerebral Palsy Center, she has performed professionally in wedding bands, cabaret/piano bars, sports arenas, reception halls, libraries, New Jersey State Fair, radio shows, boardwalks, community theaters, and night clubs. She has been a National Anthem singer for the New Jersey Devils and other professional sports team, even the International Boxing Federation. Her singing was heard on the TV program ‘My Fair Wedding.’ Also a background and demo vocalist, Leanne is now writing and recording her original music, which can be heard at

ar e e s. bu d

Yuri Turchyn V

iolinist Yuri Turchyn is a founding member of country rock band Kinderhook. While the band is in the midst of a revival, he is better known these days for Grupo Yuri, which blends World Beat, Latin, Jazz and Fusion sounds with intertwining instrumentals and original compositions. During the 1970s, Kinderhook drew full-house crowds serving up original and reinterpreted material and copious harmonies. After Kinderhook’s breakup in 1982, Turchyn played original music with Bombay and traditional, rollicking Irish folk tunes with Trinity II. The next decade brought about jazz influences as he formed Now, Voyager in 1996, a precursor to the jazz of Grupo Yuri. Since its inception, Grupo Yuri is tight technically, releasing into the “eyes closed” improvisational sync from an impressively talented quintet. They include John Korba, on keyboard and piano, Ernie Fortunato on guitar, Jim Grant on bass, Stacy Grant on table percussion and Al Selert on drums intersecting and enhancing Turchyn on electric violin who takes the lead for most of the superbly energetic music arrangements. Find out more about Turchyn and listen to Grupo Yuri at

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Tex Doyle C

ountry music in Clifton? You bet. And there is no one in our city more down home than Tex Doyle and his Country Thunder Band. If you want to catch them performing for free, then mark Aug. 27 and head down to Historic Botany Village for the Friday Night Summer Concert Series. Doyle has been performing country music for over 40 years. After originally playing with The Renegades, Doyle formed the Country Thunder a few years ago, bringing southern sounds to Northern New Jersey. Doyle is a roadman but he can dress up pretty well for a party, too. He’s a regular at the Athenia Veterans Post on Huron Ave. so you can catch him there or send him an email at for info.

Tony Portaro I

t’s been 25 years since the release of Whiplash’s debut album, Power and Pain, and the three man thrash metal band is still rocking with Tony Portaro at the helm. Whiplash is commemorating the event with a DVD, 25 Years of Thrash, featuring three new songs as well as band stories and lore from years gone by. The band’s line up has changed over the years, but Portaro remains entrenched as the lead guitarist and frontman, as Whiplash works on material for a new album. Portaro was featured in this magazine in Oct. 2009. Go to for more on the band.

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Mystery Cat John Johnny Dominick still at the center of sound rom the very first note that comes out of John Dominick’s guitar, there is no mistaking who his major influence is. Not only does John sound like Jerry Garcia, the late guitar player for the Grateful Dead, but he has an uncanny physical resemblance to him as well. “Johnny’s guitar playing reminds me of Jerry when he was in his prime,” said Robin Tamburr, a long time fan of both the Dead and Dominick. “Joy just emanates from his whole being when he plays and it is contagious.” John recalled it was his friend, the late Ken Hanselman who turned him on to the music of the Grateful Dead. “It was the Skull and Roses LP that first made me want to play guitar.” John formed The Wizards with CHS classmates, Bill Zemkewiez, Dave Solomon, Joe McKenna and Kelly Smith in 1978. Their set lists consisted mainly of music by their favorite band The Grateful Dead. The Wizards played at house parties and at local bars, Kimberly’s and Fathers Four. For years, McKenna, Smith and Dominick would be the mainstay of the band, eventually forming The Mystery Cats, a group that has gone through several incarnations and who still play out today.



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Other Clifton members who have played with the band are Ernie Generalli, Ken Straub, Dave DeSantis and Karl Schaefer. “Dave is considered by his peers to be a metronomic jukebox,” John said of DeSantis who is the long running drummer for the Cats. Ernie Generalli offered of his brother-in-law: “John and I have been playing together for over 30 years. There’s an unspoken communication when we play. He’s a natural. What he’s feeling comes right out of his fingers and through the guitar – and never the same way twice. To me that’s the ultimate goal.” Over the years the band would expand its repertoire to include original songs written mostly by Dominick and Smith. They also play music by The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Chuck Berry, Creedance Clearwater Revival and other classic bands. The old Uncle Roy’s on Van Houten Ave. became home base for the band.

“I remember a Halloween gig at Uncle Roys,” said Robin Tamburr, “when the band had fake headstones set up on stage and a smoke machine going the entire night. It was a wild.” The Mystery Cats played several college gigs including a show at Princeton University when they were hired by Mustang QB Bob Holly, who played football with John at CHS. John recalls the after party in Holly’s dorm room when Kelly

Smith almost burned down the room cooking bacon. “I’m glad that never became our claim to fame.” Following in the psychedelic tradition of the 1960s San Francisco sound, The Mystery Cats are known for their colorful light shows, tie dye back drops and dedicated fans. It is the colorful interpretations of the music and self indulgent jams that keep the band’s followers coming back for more.

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Nation’s Oldest Golf Caddy The interesting life of Cliftonite Stephen Kozak Story by Joe Hawrylko ith over four decades of experience, Stephen Kozak can make lay claim to the title of oldest golf caddy in the United States. It’s not just a Clifton tall tale— it’s a legend big enough to have been investigated by Golf Digest three years ago. Stephen Kozak is the real deal. “I’ve been caddying for 40 years,” said Kozak. “In high school, I used to go to the Yantacaw Country Club. where AT&T and the Clifton Commons are now.” Just 13 years old when he started caddying for some extra greenbacks, Kozak made it a full time career in 1985 after retiring from Givaudan, his job for 30 years. The Cliftonite is also a veteran, having served his country as a Marine in both World War II and Korea. On and off the links, Stephen Kozak has lived an interesting life. But he’s always remained firmly connected with his hometown, living in the same River Rd. house that his parents, Mike and Julia, raised him in. Born in 1921, Kozak grew up in Delawanna and attended School 8, His parents were blue collar, working long hours to make ends meet. This fact was not lost on Kozak, and he dropped out of Clifton High School to pick up a job at Givaudan in 1940. “I did it just to make some money for myself and the family,” explained Kozak, who lived with his parents, two brothers and two sisters. “We weren’t rich. My dad used to work at Waldrich. It used to be a silk factory where the apartments are across the street.” On the side, Kozak also caddied at the previously mentioned Yantacaw Country Club to make some extra cash to send home to support his parents. Intrigued by the game as both a player and a caddy, he always dreamed off a career in golf. However, those dreams were put on hold in 1942, when he enlisted in the Marines. Kozak joined to support the boys fighting abroad. “The country was at war,” explained Kozak. “It was my patriotic duty. I am an American.” After boot camp in South Carolina and later in Quantico, VA, Kozak was deployed in the Pacific Theater. He served four years of active duty and was



one of thousands in the invasion force that captured the volcanic island of Iwo Jima in 1943. “I was attached to the 5th Marine Division,” recalled Kozak. “We spent 30 something days at Iwo Jima, from Feb. 19 to March something [ed. note: the battle lasted until March 26]. It was stressful. You’re definitely feeling a bit scared.” The Cliftonite was also stationed in Hawaii, and was later a part of the occupation force in Japan following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Prior to being discharged in 1946, Kozak saw the damage in Nagasaki first hand when he was stationed there. “I had seen some of it, the destruction,” he recalled, shaking his head. August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Kozak returned home later that year and went back to work for Givaudan as a chemical operator. However, when America entered Korea in 1950, he answered the call to serve his country and re-enlisted for three years. “It was the same as before, I just wanted to serve my country,” he explained. Kozak said he had no family members who served in the armed forces. In Korea, Kozak was assigned to the 1st Marines, since his original outfit, the 5th Marines, had disbanded after World War II. “I just remember lots of hills over there,” he recalled. “That or it was either paddies.” Kozak returned home in 1953 to little fan fare. It wasn’t much different than when World War II ended. Ticker tape parades might have happened in some parts of the country, but Kozak said his return was low key. “We weren’t heroes or nothing,” said Kozak. “We just came back, that’s all. Just regular men.” He simply came back to Clifton and resumed living his life. Kozak married his wife, Virgina, in 1953 and they spent 55 wonderful years together before she passed away in 2008. Kozak also returned to Givaudan as a chemical operator, where he worked for 30 years before retiring in 1985. “When I came out of the service, I started caddying,” said Kozak. “I had always wanted to caddy since I was a


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Kozak in an undated photo from his time in the service. On the facing page, Kozak and his wife, Virginia, at their 50th anniversary in 2003.

kid in high school doing at the Yantacaw Country Club.” He continued to occasionally caddy part time after returning home, and Kozak made it a full time job after retiring from Givaudan. Since 1985, he’s been a regular figure on the links at the Upper Montclair Country Club. “ It’s not every day,” he said. “I don’t do it when it’s hot

or anything. I can’t carry bags anymore, just putters now.” “I generally caddy for two nice ladies, Annette Carr and Abina Horton,” he said. “I’ve been caddying them for about 30 years. They’re my favorite ladies.” Though Kozak is primarily known on the links, he also remains active off of the course. One of his major hobbies is bee keeping, something he picked up from his father, Mike. Kozak estimates that he’s been caring for the honey making insects for nearly 30 years. Bee keeping requires time and space for the hive so that it may remain undisturbed. His stash is tucked away in a little opening near the railroad tracks behind his house, right by the Delawanna station. To get to it, Kozak must walk next door and trek a small dirt path he cleared for himself between the two properties. The hives are located in tall stacks of white boxes, which can be removed for easy access to the bees’ precious payload. There are currently five hives, down from the ten he used to previously keep. “I get about 50 to 60 pounds of honey a hive,” said Kozak. “I sell very little of it. I mostly give it to friends and relatives. When I use it, I put it in my tea, coffee and cereal.” The Cliftonite is also an avid gardener. Kozak has transformed his backyard into a fertile plot of land. Neatly organized rows of tomato plants are quartered


off in the back corner of his property. But as much as he loves bee keeping and gardening, those hobbies are just something to pass the time until Kozak can get back on the links. “I just like doing it,” he smiled. “It brings in a little money and occupies my time for now.”

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


er t)

Ed Kurbansade (left), Spencer Savings Clifton I Branch Manager, Alexander Balbin the winner from Christopher Columbus Middle School, and Halina Qasem, Spencer Savings Clifton II Branch Manager.

Spencer Savings Bank has announced the winners of its annual scholarship program. Vasil Martiko of Clifton High School was awarded $1,000 and Alexander Balbin of Christopher Columbus Middle School received a $500 Coverdell


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Education Savings Account. Since its inception in 2002, the Spencer Scholarship Program has awarded over $200,000 to students as recognition for their academic achievements. This year, over $20,000 went to families from 27 schools.

Alumni from Clifton High School classes from 1971 through 1974 will meet for a reunion on Oct. 30 at the Regency House Hotel, 140 Rt. 23 North, Pompton Plains. The $85 ticket includes cocktails, buffet dinner, dessert, entertainment and an open bar from 7 pm to midnight. Space is limited—RSVP soon. Visit or contact coordinators Bill Geiger ( or call 973-557-3613) or Diane Gangi Ohland ( or call 973-284-1054.) The Passaic High School Classes of 1964 and 1965 will host a combined reunion on Oct. 9 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Fairfield. The event will run from 7 to 11 pm. For info, contact your class coordinator: Charles Cannata, PHS ‘64 ( or 973-773-7769) or Paula Rudolph, PHS ‘65, (973-339-9102 or by email at

On Sept. 25, men will walk side by side with women from the NJ Coalition for Battered Women and the Prosecutor’s Office in protest rape, sexual assault and gender violence. The march will begin at 11:30 am (registration is at 10 am) at Jubilee Park. Men are encouraged (but not required) to wear women’s shoes. Donation is $50 for adults and $25 for children. According to Frank Baird, founder of the march, one in three women has experienced gender violence in her lifetime and a woman is raped every 90 seconds in America. For more info, call Theresa Bivaletz, DVRT Specialist at the Passaic County Women’s Center, at 973-881-0725, ext. 16.

Uncle Floyd Vivino will perform at The Brownstone on Oct. 5 at the Annual Beefsteak Dinner to support the Passaic County Historical Society, the organization that runs a museum and library at the National Landmark Lambert Castle. Seating is $50 and only available through advance purchase by calling the PCHS at 973 247-0085, ext. 201. August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Friend versus Friend Nick Cvetic and Dave Ogden square off one last time

Nick Cvetic (right) and Dave Ogden first met as second graders in Clifton’s Junior Mustang football program. They remained friends after Ogden’s family moved to Wayne in 1997. The 2007 graduates each went to college—Cvetic to Colgate University and Ogden to Monmouth University—where they met on the field once again

ick Cvetic and Dave Ogden were just young second graders first learning the game of football on the Clifton Junior Mustangs team when they met in 1995. Though Ogden’s family moved to Wayne Hills in 1997, the children remained friends as they enjoyed success at their respective schools. Cvetic, a standout tight end, defensive end and long snapper with the Mustangs, completed his career in Clifton in 2006 with a Group Four State Title— Clifton’s first in decades. Cvetic received the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame Scholar Athlete Award, amongst other accolades that include an AllState recognition, and holds the school record for most receptions in a season by a tight end. Likewise, Ogden was dominant in his own right at Wayne Hills. As an elite defensive lineman for the



August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Patriots, he helped lead the school to two back-to-back Group 3 State Titles in 2005 and 2006. He capped off a fine senior season with 18 sacks—a school record— and 88 tackles. Ogden also holds the school record for sacks in a game with five. Talented and proven as winners, both Cvetic and Ogden continued to play football at the next level. Cvetic, now 6’5, 249lbs, plies his trade as a tight end for Colgate University. Ogden, who stands at 6’1, 245lbs, is now a lineman on for the Monmouth University Hawks—Colgate’s first opponent of the upcoming season. This isn’t the first clash between the two schools. On Sept. 5, 2009, Colgate won at home 35-23. Now, Cvetic and Ogden—both seniors at their respective schools—start the final chapter of their football careers. The final battle is at Colgate on Sept. 4.

From left to right are Knights of Columbus members Tony Latona, Carlo Santelli, Ken Molnar, Chair John Hughes and Ray Lill.

80k Challenge t’s a massive challenge—weighing in at 80,000 pounds to be exact. On Sept. 12, teams of up to 20 individuals will compete in the The Knights of Columbus 0645 Tank Pull, which will take place from 8 am to 4 pm at Oak Ridge Park on Clifton Ave. The growing list of teams includes local Police and Fire Fighters, as well as others in the community, all competing for charity. The Knights have pledged to donate 85 percent of proceeds to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project and Veterans. The remaining percentage will go towards the Knights of Columbus and its numerous charities. Teams are tasked with fundraising, which is also a competition: Silver—the minimum—is $1,5000, gold is $3,000 and platinum is $4,5000 raised. Trophies will be given to the top three teams at the end of the day. The Knights of Columbus have a history of helping those in need. The group regularly collects clothes and supplies for troops abroad. Chair John Hughes said the primary goal of the Tank Pull is to raise awareness and funding for troops coming home. “Guys are coming back and they need support, they need jobs and they need friends,” he explained. The Knights are still seeking volunteers to assist with the event, or to donate additional funds. It’s also not too late to sign up a team for the Tank Pull. To see how you can help out, call 973-472-0061 or visit


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


The U12 Clifton Stallions Bulldogs concluded its spring season with its second championship in a row, winning Flight Two in the Morris County Youth Soccer Assiciation with a record of 9-1. The team scored 36 goals this spring while letting up only 12 goals. Over the past two seasons, the Bulldogs have 72 goals for compared with 24 goals against. Frankie Salensky was the offensive MVP and goalie Greg Irwin was the defensive MVP. Not a single person on the club received a yellow card this year. The boys were coached by Frank Salensky and his assistant manager, Debbie Irwin. Congrats on another great season and good luck as the team moves onto Flight One next year.

Former CHS Coach Pete Vasil’s MVP Basketball Camp is at St. George Greek Orthodox Church from Aug. 9 to 13. Open to boys and girls ages 7 to 15, the cost is $100. Sessions run from 9 am to 3 pm. Walk ins will be accepted but for more info, call 973-569-0407 or 862-668-1450.

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August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Mustangs Boys Soccer Coach Joe Vespignani runs camp at Clifton High School onAug. 16-20 for 7th to 12th grade boys from 3-5:30 pm. a co-ed camp for kids 3 and a half to age 12 is being run those same days from 6 to 7:30 pm. Cost is $135 for the older group and $100 for youth. To register and for details, go to CHS Girls Soccer Coach Stan Lembryk runs camp Aug. 9-13 from 9 am to noon at Woodrow Wilson Middle School field. Boys ages 4 to 14 and girls ages 4 to 18 can register. Cost is $130. To register, go to Joel Pasternack’s Running Camp is Aug. 23-27, 6 to 8 pm, at Brookdale Park, Bloomfield. The cost is $125 or $100 when 3 or more sign together. Pasternack is a Clifton resident and a long time runner who has coached at various schools as well as privately. Training covers distance, speed, hills, strength and flexibility. Info at

Clifton Junior Football season begins soon and practice has already begun at Albion Park on Maplewood Ave. but it is not too late to join. Call 973-777-7330 or go to for info.The Clifton Recreation Department offers a bevy of Summer Specialty Camps in a wide range of topics. Below is a list of some but for prices, registration and a complete list, call 973-470-5956. Experience over 15 different sports in one week: rugby, cricket, field hockey, badminton, pillo polo, handball, lacrosse and bocce. For kids ages 5 to 14. Skateboard Camp for ages 6 and up. Participants must have their own skateboard and safety gear (helmet, elbow & knee pads). Fun with Guitar Instruction is provided by Menconi School of Music. Kids 7 and up learn to read music, fundamentals of guitar playing and instrument maintenance. Students must bring their own guitar.


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Whether it’s Pancakes or Cupcakes, bring your appetites...


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Hope Reformed Church Daily Vacation Bible School will take place from Aug. 9 to 13 at 310 Burgess Pl. The camp’s theme is Egypt, and it will be open to children in pre-K to Grade 6. Students will explore authentic marketplace shops, visit Joseph, take part in games and dance and more. Classes are from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. For more info, call 862-763-0557. The First Presbyterian Church, 303 Maplewood Ave, will host a fish and chips dinner on Sept. 7 from 5 to 7 pm. The event will be catered by Tastefully British. Tickets are $12.50 and $7.50 for children. Take-out orders and walkins welcome. Call 973-523-1272. The Clifton Fall 2010 Stamp, Postcard and Cover Show is Oct. 2 and 3 from 10 am to 4 pm at the Clifton Community Recreation Center, at Main and Washington Aves. Free admission. Combining the world of stamp, cover, and postcard collecting, the show provides

collectors and non-collectors alike with an opportunity to view and appreciate the challenge and variety these hobbies offer. For info or details on the Society, call 973-470-5956 or go to

Clifton Toastmasters, a nonprofit public speaking and leadership group, meets the 2nd, 4th and 5th Tuesday of every month, at 7 pm at the Main Clifton Library. Guests free. Call 973-420-4148 to register.

The Athenia Veterans Post is collecting goods for US Troop Care Packages. Needed items include WD-40 (2oz bottle), razors, shaving cream, toothpaste, toothbrushes, baby wipes, foot powder, body powder, socks, A.A. batteries and soap. The Post is located at 147 Huron Ave. Call 973-778-0931.

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


Charles Stek turns 89 on Aug. 6 and is pictured with his bride of 64 years, Frances. Andre & Maggie (Demolli) Olave wed on July 1. Diane & Bruce Drake celebrate their 40th anniversary on Aug. 22. Tom Hawrylko sr. will be fishing on Aug. 15, his 53rd birthday.

Birthdays & Celebrations Send dates &

Angelo Greco ........................8/2 Karen Lime............................8/2 Michael Urciuoli.....................8/2 Lori Jeffries ...........................8/4 Kevin Ciok.............................8/4 Mark W. Mikolajczyk .............8/5 Theresa Raichel....................8/5 Christina Sotelo.....................8/5 Ed Gasior Sr. ........................8/6 Sean McNally........................8/6 Chiara Cristantiello................8/9 Jean Schubert.......................8/9 Emily Hawrylko ...................8/12

Andrew Cronin ....................8/14 Kimberly Mozo ....................8/14 Michelle Smolt.....................8/14 Yuko Angello .......................8/15 Christopher Antal ................8/15 Peter Bodor.........................8/15 Jessica Oliva.......................8/15 Maria Pinter.........................8/15 Susan Van Blarcom ............8/15 Daniel Wolfe........................8/15 Nancy & Mike Ressetar celebrate their anniversary 8/15.

Bella Bulsara.......................8/18 Alexandria Veltre.................8/19 Michael Melendez ...............8/20 Cara Cholewczynski ...........8/24 Yasmin Ledesma ................8/24 Joanne Pituch .....................8/24 Robbie Lucas ......................8/25 Eileen Gasior ......................8/26 Cameron J. Popovski..........8/26

Have Clifton Merchant Mailed. Sorry but due to problems with Bulk Mail Delivery

$27/YEAR SUBSCRIPTION we no longer offer a $16 rate for Clifton Subscribers. Name: __________________________________________________________________________________ Address: ________________________________________________________________________________ City: ____________________________________________State: _________________________________________ Zip:______________________Phone:_____________________________________________ Email:________________________________________________________________________ PLEASE MAKE CHECKS TO TOMAHAWK PROMOTIONS, 1288 MAIN AVE., CLIFTON, NJ 07011 80

August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Emilie Oakley turns 17 on Aug. 22. Ann Soltis............................8/26 Adam Brandhorst ................8/27 Peter Fierro, Jr. ...................8/28 Michelle “Mish” Choy ..........8/30 Joe Rushen.........................8/30 Kathleen McKenny..............8/31

Jack Kuepfer is 90 years young on Aug. 26.

In Memory of “Nona” Filomena Mayo April 18, 1929 - April 15, 2010


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant


A Centennial Jubilee The 24th Annual St. Nicholas Parish Picnic is Sept. 12, from noon to 8 pm at the church, 217 President St., Passaic. It is a special occasion for the church, which is celebrating its Centennial Jubilee. Tickets are just $3 per person—children under 16 are free—and open up a world of culture, fun and food. Sample traditional Ukrainian dishes from the parish kitchen and enjoy live entertainment and music. Liquor will also be available. There will be a 50/50 cash with five prizes as well. St. Nicholas will celebrate its Centennial Jubilee on Oct. 24 with a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at 1 pm, followed by cocktails and dinner at 4 pm. Established in Passaic in 1910 by 38 families, the parish has undergone extensive restorations over the course of the last year in preparation for this special celebration. For more on either of the events, call 973-471-9727 or go to


August 2010 • Clifton Merchant

Tomahawk Promotions 1288 main avenue Clifton, nJ 07011

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