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Volume 16, No. 12

December 28th 2012 - January 9th 2013

Special New Year’s Edition FREE PUBLICATION


Hello 2013!

As we bid a final goodbye to 2012 and a happy hello to 2013, many of us will be doing it with family, friends and our kissable significant others. When deciding where to spend New Year’s Eve, we hope you’ll take a peek inside for all the great party deals our club and restaurant advertisers are offering. Make a reservation, have some fun and we’ll see you in January 2013 with more compelling issues of Riverview Observer and stories about the people who make Hudson a hip and happening culture hub.

Happy New Year! Riverview Observer Staff

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Bill LaRosa, Director of Cultural Affairs Keeps Hudson’s Arts Scene Alive and Swinging


by Sally Deering

s Director of Hudson County’s Office

of Cultural & Heritage Affairs and Tourism, Bill LaRosa keeps his finger on the quickening pulse of the local growing arts scene. Working from his office at the William J. Brennan Court House in Jersey City and with a staff of four, LaRosa oversees grants for local arts groups; seminars on the business of art for Hudson’s resident artists; art installations in the Theodore Conrad Rotunda right outside his office; monthly coffeehouses featuring popular folksingers; and other outdoor arts presentations

throughout the county. LaRosa and his team are the liaisons to Hudson’s arts community and take their work supporting the artists who live and work here very seriously. In fact, several members of LaRosa’s staff are artists themselves including LaRosa who started his career working Off-Broadway with one of America’s top playwrights, David Mamet. con’t pg. 2

on the cover . At lunch recently, LaRosa met with Riverview Observer and talked about how he became cultural affairs director and the work his staff does for local artists. He also discussed his mission to keep the arts very much alive in Hudson County through funding and support and fulfilling a dream he’s had since his first days in the director’s chair – a dream he shares with local artists and arts groups: to one day see Hudson County open its own performing arts center.

RO: Bill LaRosa, can you share with our readers where you were born and raised? BL: I was born in Jersey City and attended Hudson Catholic High School. I have an older sister, Arlene. My father worked at the American Can company; my mom worked in the insurance industry. My parents influenced me a lot. My father was a real Jersey City guy.


By Sally Deering

He was cultured even though not well-educated. He loved PBS, loved watching “Upstairs Downstairs.” My mom would have been a teacher at another time. RO: What was your first theatrical experience? BL: I got cast as the sheriff in “Oklahoma” when I was in a teen program at St. Aedan’s church. Then when I went to Jersey City State College someone challenged me to audition for the anti-war play trilogy “American Hurrah” by Jean-Claude van Itallie. I got the role of Hal, the station manager, in the second play called “TV”. From there, I got the bug. That summer they did a one-act play series, a joint effort of Argos Eyes, the drama group at Saint Peter’s College and Jersey City State College. I directed the play “Birdbath,” and it went on from there. I graduated in 1973 with a

Bachelor’s Degree in English and decided to go on to NYU. I went into the Master’s program to teach theater. It got me into the city and exposed me to a lot of talented people. RO: How did you get to work with David Mamet? BL: I met David Mamet after I got my Master’s Degree in Educational Theater. I was doing Off-Off Broadway and got the job as stage manager for David Mamet’s “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” the original New York production at St. Clement’s church. That was fall of 1975. I’m running the show and the producers knew they had a hit and moved it Off Broadway to the Cherry Lane Theater. Then I was brought in as stage manager for Mamet’s “American Buffalo” when it was in tryouts at St. Clement’s. That was my professional start and it was a lovely time, a great experience. David is a brilliant person, a down-to-earth guy. I learned a con’t pg. 3


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con’t from pg. 2

lot. I learned about myself, too. I was 25 and I had to grow up really fast. The stage manager runs the show. You’re between the playwright and the director. If you can do that you can work in Hudson County. RO: How did you become Director of Cultural Affairs? BL: The late Maurice Fitzgibbons used to be Hudson County’s Cultural Affairs Director with an office at Murdoch Hall in Jersey City. We met when I was the producing director of the New Jersey Theater Jubilee at Liberty State Park and Rutger’s Camden in 1989, and he liked me. Then Jim Florio was elected Governor of New Jersey and Maurice said he was going to Trenton and would I be interested in taking over as director. I said ‘Yes, it sounds great.’ I didn’t know government from a hole in the ground but I saw the potential and thought this would be a lot of fun. I started on March 10, 1990. RO: What is the role of the Cultural Affairs Department? BL: On the arts side, we’re a service organization. We fund arts organizations

and we advise individual artists whether they’re looking for help establishing themselves, finding studio space, or a fellowship or grant program with the state. We nurture. We help. We advise. We do portfolio workshops, legal rights workshops – we work to develop emerging and professional artists in many ways. Unlike other county cultural affairs departments, we have a presence in tourism development where the goal is to promote Hudson and bring people here. A lot of tour groups come through this area. Back in the summer, there was a caravan of RVs. We work to bring people to the Liberty Science Center. We work with our hotel partners. Visitors don’t just want to know what’s inside the hotel they want to know what’s outside the hotel, too. RO: What would you like to accomplish in the near future? BL: The biggest challenge is venues. Where do you perform? Where do you exhibit? It’s a challenge and frustrating because the county and the resident artists, they deserve something. Municipalities have a lot of control

over how they zone and encourage developers. We try to talk it up wherever we can. We don’t need a huge art center; we need small storefronts like the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. I don’t think any one person can do it. I tell our constituents and arts groups, let your elected officials know what your thoughts are. If we don’t express our desires and dreams for our neighborhoods it’s never going to happen.

Congratulations Dr. John & Sarah Ibrahim for celebrating their son Daniel’s 2nd Birthday and their son Anthony’s 1st Birthday and a Happy New Year. From Your Grandparents Emad & Marlien Ishak & Trazza Ibrahim and Aunts Mary & Marlien

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Art House Open Mic Night featuring EPUNTO Art House Productions presents THE ART HOUSE Poets * Musicians * Performance Artists Coming together in Jersey City THURSDAY, JAN 3, 2013 8-10PM * $5 admission

Featuring Poet ÉPUNTO Hosted by BETH ACHENBACH *5 minute open mike for poets, actors, comics and musicians and taped for television. Fresh baked goods by

Judy’s Goodies. DJ mEgan spinning all night. Art House Productions Hamilton Square 1 Mc Williams Place, 6th Floor Jersey City, NJ (SE Corner of Hamilton Park near Erie St./8th St.)

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Page 4- December 28th - January 9th River View Observer

Cocktail Party Fundraiser for Liberty Humane Society and The Humane Society of Bergen County/Lost Pet, Inc. at the Hoboken W Hotel’s Chandelier Room

The Chandelier Room at the W Hotel (located at 225 River Street in Hoboken, New Jersey) will be hosting a cocktail party fundraiser to support Liberty Humane Society and The Humane Society of

Bergen County/Lost Pet, Inc. Inc. this Saturday, 12/29 from 6-9PM. Join us for an elegant evening supporting thousands of homeless animals from both Hudson and Bergen County. The suggested donation at the door is only $10 and guests will be invited to enjoy discounted drink specials and partake in the raffle to win amazing prizes like a Kindle Fire HD Tablet! Proceeds will help to fund the operating budgets of Liberty Humane Society and The Humane Society of Bergen County/Lost Pet Inc. to ensure that each organization can continue providing care for the animals that so desperately deserve the opportunity at finding a loving home.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve

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New Year’s Eve Dining & Celebrations

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restaurant VIEWS -Blue Moon Mexican Café Casual Dining in a Beautiful Mexican ‘Courtyard’ “Life is a Fiesta…Eat it Up!”

On a snowy afternoon right after the Christmas holiday, I stopped in to meet Carlos Ortiz, who owns and manages Blue Moon Mexican Café with his brother Jose Ortiz. Together with their sisters who help with By Sally Deering accounting and marketing and their mother who helped tep inside Blue Moon with the overall design, the Mexican Café on Montgomery Street in downtown Ortizes – who are originally from El Salvador – have Jersey City and you’re created a warm and relaxed transported to a warm and inviting Mexican ‘courtyard’ eatery with a terrific menu with large comfy booths and of Mexican dishes. “We wanted you to tables under the warm glow feel like you were in the of paper lanterns strung courtyard of some Mexican across the dining room and an upstairs balcony of tables villa,” Carlos Ortiz says. “We put in a lot of effort to that overlook this sexy, make this place as warm as spacious restaurant. possible.”


Co-owner Carlos Ortiz of Jersey City While the atmosphere is warm, the cuisine is hot and at times spicy. From the appetizers menu, I tried the Crabcakes with chipotle remoulade with mango salsa. The Crabcakes are crunchy on the outside and moist and spicy on the inside and as

Carlos says, it’s a great mix of sweet and savory playing off each other. Blue Moon’s version of buffalo wings are the Moon Wings served with blue cheese dressing, carrots, celery and seasoned as hot as you can stand them from

mild to ‘don’t ask’ ($8.95$16.95). Chili and Sandwiches include the Full Moon Chili, a meaty, cheesy Texas-style chili with hot chunks of prime sirloin steak ($ 5.95 a cup; $10.95 a bowl); and ,the Mexican Mayhem Burger served with guacamole, jalapenos, fried onions, salsa, and smothered in pepper jack cheese ($11.95). Blue Moon Mexican Café offers many fine traditional dishes and the menu is extensive. Of the taco dishes, I tried Tacos Rancheros, marinated steak topped in ranchero salsa served with Mexican rice, refried beans and white corn Cont’d on page 10

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restaurant VIEWS -Blue Moon Mexican Café Cont’d from page 9 tortillas ($14.95). The steak was tender and bursting with flavor; the rice moist and the beans perfectly seasoned – a great dish. “There’s something magical about the Tacos Rancheros,” Carlos says. “It’s very popular.” For New Year’s Eve, the Ortizes are hosting a terrific New Year’s Eve Party – a ‘Blue Moon Package’ that for $125 per person offers an open bar, buffet, champagne toast at midnight and a DJ who will spin tunes and rock in the new year. All you need is a reservation; although if there’s space to accommodate last minute

walk-ins, the Ortiz brothers will accommodate. “We recommend reservations but should there be openings we’ll never turn anyone away,” Carlos says. With years of experience working his way up the ladder from dishwasher to cook to manager, Carlos says he and his brother have a hands-on philosophy when it comes to running Blue Moon Mexican Café. They believe in building strong relationships with the staff and although the restaurant only opened a month ago, Carlos says he and his brother feel a real bond with their new neighbors. “Being here in Jersey

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City has been interesting,” Carlos says. “The day of Hurricane Sandy was our official opening day. The day after Sandy hit, we’re slopping out water and mud, assessing the damage and wondering if we made the right decision coming here. As soon as we cleaned up, people started arriving and completely reaffirmed our decision. The people are warm and hospitable and we already have regulars. We’re looking forward to seeing how we develop along with the city and the relationships we build. It was a smart decision and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future brings.”

The beautiful dining room reminiscent of a Mexican Courtyard

If you go: Blue Moon Mexican Café 117 Montgomery St Jersey City, NJ 201-763-6050 Hours: Sun-Thurs: Open at 11:30 am; Kitchen closes 11 pm; Bar closes 12 midnight Fri and Sat: Open at 11 am; Kitchen closes 12 midnight; Bar closes 2 am

New Year’s Eve Dining

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December 28th -January 9th River View Observer  

Cover Story: ART & SOUL-Bill LaRosa, Director of Cultural Affairs Keeps Hudson's Art Scene Alive and Swinging. As Director of Hudson County'...

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