Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Born-in-the-70s Guide to films you should watch with your tweenager.

I was born a middle class middle child (though that wouldn't be determined until a couple years later) on September 11,1974. 

This means a couple of things:
Yes, everyone gasps when I tell them my birthdate.
It was mine before that.
I started kindergarten when I was only 4, but only for a couple days.
I suffered through my adolescent and teen years in the late 80's and early 90's.
I lived to tell about it and I even found a silver lining.
As a teenager in the Z Cavaricci and New Kids on the Block era, I, like my contemporaries, have a lot of apologizing to do. "Everyone wore Skids", "I was 14, I didn't know better", "I thought for sure the clock-a-book would stay in style", "MC Hammer really seemed cool", "Like YOU knew Milli Vanilli were phonies!".

It was an era of bad music and worst style. It was blindingly bright and, thankfully, brief. I could STILL kiss Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl for breaking up the glam band, silly-hop music and style scene and bringing back flannel and garage rock, but not before me and all of the 7000 other 70's born Jens and Mikes went full neon.
And I am one of three girls, with very little time between us. Estrogen and Aquanet would be the Goulart girls' personal Yankee Candle scent if we commissioned such a thing in those days. Sleeplessness and cheap beer would be my parents'.

My poor mother and father. I'm fairly certain that between the three of us girls fighting over the bathroom before school anywhere from 1987-1995 we not only wore a hole in my parents' eardrums, there's also gotta be a CFC spawned fissure in the ozone above Hartz Street of shameful and considerable berth.

The one highlight of living through the decadent, day-glo eighties and evolving into a mini grown-up in the sulky, sad nineties is that OUR MOVIES ROCKED. Brilliant film makers like John Hughes captured the heart-wrenching moments of teenage-hood in the picture perfect burbs while authors like S. E. Hinton not only exposed class-ism through the eyes of the Soces and the Greasers, they brought today's most accomplished actors from nobody to somebody through roles so gritty that bright young faces showcased deeply emotional character acting like no actor before. Swayze, Lowe, Estevez, Macchio, DiCaprio, Howell, Sheen, Hall, Haim, Feldman, Sheedy, Gertz, Ringwald might as well be names read off at my commencement - we all GREW UP together. The words, " Stay golden, Ponyboy", will make me cry FOREVER. And that scene in Basketball Diaries, with Leonardo DiCaprio begging his mom to let him inside was my first taste of sympathy for addicts - and foreshadowed the brilliant career ahead of him.

Film got real in the 80s and 90s. We watched films about addiction, poverty, bullying, the differently-abled, and coming of age with as much openness and appreciation as we enjoyed the simple, funny films about puppy love. And I'm pretty sure I learned something.

I'm a mother now, raising a tweenager. I'm leaning on these films to augment the parental teachings about what's coming in teenager years, to guide Julz on how and why to keep on being her quirky, awesome, b-side self when society tells her to be like everyone else and how to prepare for the cruelty of boys and girls she will meet in the near future. As a parent, I'm way too lame to get this right by myself, so I made a reference list of the best films to share with your tween/teen if you were born in the 70's. We have had a TON of fun watching these and checking them off, adding new ones based on the recommendations of friends (I put the original list on Facebook and watched it grow exponentially. It is in no particular order as it literally came from a root list of what we'd seen and grew in the comment section.

And now, I'm sharing so that anyone out there who is TOTALLY MESSING UP trying to guide your kid through acne and driving lessons can have a leg up. 

BEST films of the 80's and 90's for teens
Forrest Gump
Stand by Me
Lost Boys
What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
The Outsiders      
That was then, this is now
The Water Boy
Can't buy me love
Sixteen Candles            
Reality Bites
The Wedding Singer
Dirty Dancing
Crocodile Dundee
Spies like Us
Breakfast Club
Pretty in Pink
Jewel of the Nile
Indiana Jones
Edward Scissor Hands
Star Wars Triology
Lord of the Rings Triology 
Back to the Future
Teen Wolf
Adventures in Babysitting
The Dark Crystal
Pee-wees Big Adventure
Monster Squad
The Secret Garden 
Harry and the Hendersons
Field of Dreams
My Cousin Vinny
My Girl
Weekend at Bernie's
Pump up the volume
Drop Dead Fred
Death Becomes Her
Hocus Pocus
St Elmo’s Fire
The Neverending Story
  • Say Anything
    Honey I Shrunk the Kids
    Home Alone  
    National Lampoon - all of them
The Princess Bride
  • Good Will Hunting
    Dead Poet’s Society
    Shawshank Redemption

    Naturally, different kids can handle different levels of drama and gore and adult situations and lofty language at different times. Go with what feels right. You can be sure you'll be wrong (insert eye roll here)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Harbor Cafe is a Detour Worth Taking

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer amero

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroMy new agency gig has a totally different focus and client base than the B2C luxury and hospitality work I've been into for most of my career. My days are spent working some very cool clients with much bigger marketing budgets, but with no focus on sustenance, at least not yet.  I love, love, love my job but I do miss setting up wine dinners and blogger nights and designing menus and creating loyalty programs just a little bit. 

So  I was particularly interested in the opportunity to do some promotion and design work for this amazing local breakfast and lunch spot that suffered a devastating blow exactly one day before opening. This one is totally my kind of project.

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroHere's the unfortunate situation, and the motivation for this article (that and some of the best food I have ever eaten, seriously).  Harbor Cafe in Danvers, MA opened on December 5.  On December 4 the bridge that passes by the venue's door, under repair when the property was being prepared to open, was deemed dangerous and abruptly and completely closed for months with a promise to be partially open in  6 months, with another 4
years to be fully functioning. The closure has erased all drive-by traffic to the tune of 40,000 cars weekly for a projected four years. Harbor Cafe's customer base vanished with the road, before their doors had even opened.  

Now, that may have crushed many owners and caused them to cut and run, but what's unique about Harbor Cafe, aside from incredible scratch cooking and baking, is it's owner and her ability to overcome difficulties again and again. 
harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer amero

You see, owner Ariana Musabelli's story is a colorful one, one that always lands her on her feet, in the kitchen, making bread, and cannolli.

Originally from Albania, Ariana was an optician in Europe. Arriving in America 22 years ago, she first needed to learn the language in order to practice in her field of optometry. Upon mastering the language, another road block appeared. Medical law required that she go back to school for optometry before practicing in the United States. So back to college she went, for a repeat degree in optometry, which she completed. Ariana isn't intimidated by obstacles.
harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer amero

And speaking of obstacles, and the fruits of a good personal challenge, one of Ariana's biggest disappointments upon arriving in the US, aside from the language and the obstacles of re-entering the work force was the processed cuisine. "Everything tasted different. I couldn't find food that tasted real. So I started making my own yogurt and my own bread".

A need to recreate the flavors of home inspired Ariana's culinary education and planted the seed for her path to today. "I'm self taught. It's just me and the books."

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroAnd after moving back and forth in and out of optics and a brief stint in real estate, opening and selling 2 other successful north shore eateries, Ariana has
given in to her love of cooking and found her home at the Harbor Cafe in Danvers, MA. 

Harbor Cafe is a once-and-regular situation. You eat here once, you become a regular. The food is so flavorful, the dishes just so meticulously balanced that the same items served elsewhere will be a let down. And so, you'll be back.  

Ariana spends endless hours baking homemade breads and sweets to compliment her
harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroscrumptious breakfast and lunch offerings all made with the freshest ingredients. Her love of food and of serving her regulars is infectious and her warmth as palpable in her greeting as in her culinary creations, "I love my regulars. And once they come in they become regulars. Harbor Cafe is like coming home"

From comfort food to healthy choices, you can't miss when you eat here. My favorites are the veggie panini and the panini Genovese, there's just something about the homemade pesto and the melty buffalo mozzarella that tastes like happiness. The Chicken Parmesan is another go-to dish and serves enough to guarantee leftovers which is always a win in my book.
harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer amero

And speaking of size, be sure to ask for a box if you DO get full, because Harbor  Cafe also offers gelato, cannolli, homemade donuts and all sorts of other scratch baked sweet treats, and you definitely want to save room for dessert.

So I'd like to introduce my readers to Harbor Cafe, a culinary gem in the world of lunch counter simplicity. It's a bit of a circuitous trip, with the Liberty Street Bridge under construction, but I assure you, it is worth making your way. We manage to incorporate it into somebody's errands almost weekly to have a reason to run from Saugus to Danvers to grab lunch for the team. Ariana loves making beautiful food. We love eating it. The drive is just an extra 10 minutes to get hungry.

The Yelp reviews are some of the most consistently exuberantly positive I've ever seen. Even the coffee is the best around according to commuters who felt strongly enough about good java to yelp that. Everything at Harbor Cafe is THAT GOOD.

harbor cafe danvers on 90 seconds and velvet by jennifer ameroAriana sums it up best, that undeniably special taste that comes from food made with soul and heart, "Making good food takes time. But it is worth it. I love it. I love making people happy. That's my pleasure."

Harbor Cafe is located at 
125 Liberty St, Danvers, MA 01923 
Hours: Mon-Sat 6-3PM and Sunday 6-2PM
Website by Jake Haynes at Maximum Media

Their brand new website
(by Jake Haynes at Maximum Media)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Thinking about summer and music festivals and anything EXCEPT winter dancing to Wii

Ok, sorta random but anyone who knows me knows I LOVE to dance and there's no place better to dance than at a show, to live music. Endless rounds of Just Dance 3, 4, 24, and a boatload of pre-dawn Zumba have kept me adequately endorphin-even and moderately groove-satisfied through the winter, but there's nothing like shaking what I got at some fun live show.

Done, done, done with the never-ending winter, I'm lining up my concert tickets now so I have a musical long-view of hope and beats right into the summer. 

90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015Here's what I've got locked in so far. Big and little, funk and blues and reggae and hippy rock. It's all over the place but it's shaping up to be a very musical spring and summer. If there's anything I missed, do give me a shout. I hate to miss out on anything cool.

90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015

90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015Big 'Ol Dirty Bucket at Spotlight Tavern, Salem
Friday, April 3rd
BODB at Spotlight Tavern

90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015Little Feat and New Orleans Suspects at Larcom Theater, Beverly, MA
Saturday, April 11th

Little Feat at Larcom Theater

Crosby,  Stills and Nash at the Wang Theater, Boston, MA
Tuesday, May 19th
CSN at the Wang

Boston Calling Music Festival (with Beck and Tenacious D), City Hall Plaza, Boston
May 22nd - May 24th

The Wailers & Rusted Root at Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH
Thursday, June 11th
90 seconds and velvet summer music lineup blogpost 2015Wailers and Rusted Root at Casino Ballroom

Byfield Music Festival, Byfield, MA
Saturday, June 27
Byfield Music Festival

Leonard Skynard at Meadowbrook, NH
Saturday, June 27th

Leonard Synard at Meadowbrook

311 at Casino Ballroom, Hampton Beach, NH
Monday, July 20th
311 at Casino Ballroom

Gathering of the Vibes 2015, Bridgeport, CT
Thursday, July 31st -Sunday, August  2nd
Gathering of the Vibes at Seaside Park

Sunday, March 29, 2015

This One is for my Funky Hippy Friends - You Can Have it All

Seth Mcnally of M.E. Productions shares the info on the April 11th Little Feat/New Orleans Suspects Show in Beverly, MA 
Get Your Dixie Funk Boogie On

Beverly, MA. M.E. Productions is excited to present The New Orleans Suspects with Little Feat’s Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett at the Larcom Theatre on Saturday, April 11th at 8pm. The Suspects are known as a NOLA supergroup, and Barrere & Tackett as multi instrumental jam pioneers. The night will culminate with a full set of the music of Little Feat. Tickets for this concert start at $35.

Music of the Big Easy. It’s as American as apple pie--and rock ‘n roll itself. It transcends boundaries, a freewheeling fusion of California rock, Dixie-inflected roots, and country-fried funk and boogie. For one night only, New Orleans Suspects will join forces with Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett of Little Feat. Don't miss a rare and intimate show with the men who continue to bring you Little Feat(on an ‘ indefinite hiatus’), and a NOLA superband. Yep, we said it…superband.

The New Orleans Suspects formed in summer of 2011 in the wake of the breakup of The Radiators after 34 years. The band comprises some of the best, most highly respected players in New Orleans.

The night will begin with a set from Barrere & Tackett, then The New Orleans Suspects will perform a full set of their own material. If that wasn't enough, the two groups will join forces at the end of the night for a crowd pleasing set of Little Feat tunes.

“We have so many great shows on the North Shore…but we’re pretty excited about this one. It’s going to be FUN,” say Seth McNally of M.E. Productions. “If you like New Orleans music, or Little Feat, mark your calendar.”

Tickets to see NOLA Suspects with Barrere and Tackett are $30, $35, and $40 for premier seating.

For tickets and more information visit or call 978-525-9093.

**Artist Interviews Available. Media Coverage requested. RSVP necessary**

Friday, March 27, 2015

Can Your Kid Cook, Like REALLY Cook? Rachel Ray may need an introduction

One of the things I like most about writing this little blog is all the super cool stuff that PR agents and casting agents and restaurateurs and music promoters and designers share with me to share with you. I have wanted to be in the thick of the new, hot and hip since I was a little kid. That's why I do this.

This recent message from Danielle at Jen's Casting (a sweet group that handles so many of my favorite shows on HGTV and Food Network and such) is particularly cool and if you think you might be raising a future James Beard award winner, I'd get in on this. Read on:

Rachael Ray is in search of the most talented kid chefs in the country for Rachael Ray’s Kids Cook-Off, Food Network’s exciting culinary reality series. 
jennifer amero foodie events for kids

We are looking for kids with captivating personalities who believe they’re at the top of their culinary game and want to inspire a Food Network audience through their passion for food and cooking. The winner will receive a grand prize that will help to kick-start their culinary career!

For more information and how to apply, please visit our website at If you have any questions or require further information, please email us at

Like us on Facebook at JS Casting to stay up to date on our most current projects!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Costume Shopping is Free Family Fun, well, mostly free

Julia has March Madness this weekend at her middle school. Each day has a different theme, a costumed theme, in addition to class spirit activities and competitions. It's a super fun positive vibrations part of the school year and a perfectly timed respite from test prepping, as standardized tests start very soon.

Naturally, costumed socialization was right in my 11yo's wheelhouse, and she was busy sketching out her plans as soon as the info dropped. I will never be justified in complaining about her eagerness to engage in theatrical pursuits. It's an apple/tree situation. Proof here Zombies, Prom Queens and One Eyed Sword Throwers

Her last minute follow through is another story. Actually, it's not the follow through but the 11th hour lacking sense of urgency that creates actual urgency on my part, but that's another story, isn't it?

Anyway, she opted to be some sort of anime character, again, for character day. I don't follow anime, but I do know the character is from the show, "Homestuck Trolls", though I am not exactly sure WHAT a Homestuck Troll is. Here's the Wiki Link in case you are just dying to know: Also these are them, right up above. Lots of horns and fangs and gray makeup.

I also knew that it would require a wig which we promptly ordered for only 6.29 on Amazon with free shipping on Amazon Prime, due in 3 days. I flatly rejected the plea for colored contacts. Julia is as enthusiastic as I am, and as thoroughly unrealistic. She is also broke.

The wig never came. A week went by, no wig. I worried if it had been stolen off my steps (we have a nasty issue with UPS thievery these days). Julia inquired, daily and grew more frustrated. Understand that to her, this is the most important thing to ever happen. Whatever she is excited about always is.

Finally and email announcing the item has shipped and will arrive --- 3 weeks after spirit week has come and gone.

Not one to let her down, we rearranged the weekend plan to hunt down the missing piece. An emergency trip to Party City and then to Joker's Wild not only solved our problem, it made for a super hilarious family outing. And it didn't cost us anything, except what we paid for the wig. And lunch. Always find a way to include lunch.

Just thought I'd share in case you were out of ideas for things to do with the funwreckers after a very long winter. Fun, cheap and easy works for me and costume shop people don't get all freaky about kids and about touching the merch. So that's also cool.