Even before the tanning mom, I was embarrassed to come from my hometown of Nutley- where Martha Stewart spring like a decorating demon in a puff of brimstone and potpourri- at least until the Nutley Brass covered the Ramones and the Misfits.
This came about at the height of the lounge resurgence, when everyone loved Esquivel and Richard Cheese was covering everything. I like what the Brass does better. They infuse their versions with an unironic glee. I wonder if they learned music from Mr. Kohere, like I did? From the sound of our band, he was a great music teacher, but I had him for Humanities, an advanced course that mixed art, history and literature. We learned music history, but all I remember is how pop singers were terrible because they need microphones, and abortion was wrong because you might abort Beethoven (The flip side to his logical fallacy, that you could also abort Hitler, was overlooked).
There’s still plenty to be ashamed about in Nutley, like the whites-only swimming pool*, but the town always had its share of free spirits and iconoclasts. The area called “The Enclosure” was an artist colony in the 1800s, and is listed on the register of historic places. Today, it is just a bunch of expensive homes by Mill Pond (which everyone calls the Mud Hole). There was also Angelo Nardone’s sculpture garden, a glorious eyesore of overgrown Roman sculpture, that the town fought for decades, tearing it down the moment its owner fell ill and was admitted to the VA hospital.
Nutley also stars in my novel, mostly as backdrop to one story arc where a kid from out of town moves in and faces off with a brutal bully. The Nutley Brass won’t be making an appearance in this one, but I’ll give them a homage someday when I make a character an aging band geek.
* Update: the swimming pool owners settled for $1 million, sold the pool and moved out of state. The current ownership does not discriminate.
© 2012 Thomas Pluck
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