Madden Brothers AlbumLogo_Greetings_300GRAYBy: SJ Neri

Benji and Joel Madden, twin brothers, and former front men of the very successful band Good Charlotte bring us a new sound…well, sort of. As I listened to their album, Greetings from California, I couldn’t help but think the sound was familiar. Then my daughter proclaimed, “They kind of sound like The Beach Boys”. Ah, of course! Like always with an album review, I listened to the whole album several times. I right away knew the title fit the album perfectly. Having been born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, I have only visited California (I have family there). I do, however, know this album encapsulates the feel and vibe that is always there in Cali…one I confess I do not always possess…optimism. I tried to fight it, but these damn songs just made me feel like maybe this world is not the horrible cesspool that mass media has led me to believe.

As I visited The Madden Brothers website, I learned of the origin of this album, which seemed too perfect. In 2012, while visiting fellow artist Pharrell Williams in Miami , the brothers spoke of wanting to get back to classic rock. This led Williams to make a comparison to The Eagles, which gave the brothers even more inspiration. That night, the brothers wrote California Rain (track 10), which Benji says is “…about the music industry. California is a magical place and we liken it to the dream.” Joel adds, “The song sums up our experience-past, present and future. We still believe in the dream.”

If you are a fan of Pop Rock, you will find songs you enjoy, and even love, on ‘Greetings from California’. Dear Jane, the album’s first track, reminds me of cruising with a group of friends. Up-beat, and fun, you can almost feel sunshine on your face. Track 03, Brixton, is very Beach Boys, in the very best way possible. The song takes you back to carefree days. Track 05, We Are Done, already has an official video. Although this song is smooth, and reassuring (and for some reason makes me want to learn to surf), it is actually about standing up for yourself. “We want to inspire people to speak up” says Benji. The video promotes a message not only of standing up for one’s self, but of tolerance, and acceptance. One of my personal favorite tracks is Track 11, Brother, which boasts some rich vocals, promotes a feeling of unity and heart. The album ends with my other personal favorite, Track 15, Empty Spirits. This song delivers wonderful vocals, background violins, and epic acoustic guitar. ‘Greetings from California’ nails it’s landing, with a perfect 10.

Track List:  

01 Dear Jane (Intro)

02 Dear Jane

03 Brixton

04 Out of My Mind

05 We Are Done

06 U R

07 Jealousy

08 Love Pretenders

09 California Rain (Intro)

10 California Rain

11 Brother

12 Bad

13 Abby

14 Suddenly

15 Empty Spirits

The Day I Met Robin Williams

Posted: September 11, 2014 by mccompany in Entertainment, On the Street

Rwilliams_1By: SJ Neri

This is my favorite picture of Robin Williams. In 1992, at the now closed Fine Arts Theater at 410 S. Michigan Ave., I snapped this picture of Robin Williams myself. Williams was there for a premiere showing of his film ‘Toys’. I did not have tickets for this showing, as you needed special ones in advance, but a friendly cop let me into the hallway to snap a few pics. I overheard from Williams’ publicist that he was not going to stay for the whole showing of the film. So, on that cold, rainy Wednesday evening, I waited outside for the off chance I may actually get to meet him. Over an hour later, a white haired man I recognized as director Barry Levinson came out by himself. He glanced over at me, I smiled and nodded, and he half-heartily nodded back (looking at me as though I were crazy). A minute later, Robin Williams emerged with his wife, and Mrs. Levinson. The four of them stood there and talked a moment, and five feet away I had to talk myself into going up to Mr. Williams. I was terrified of the very thought of facing him, but I finally found the nerve, and as his back was to me, I had to tap Mr. Williams on his large, puffy, green parka. He turned and fixed his beautiful blue eyes on me, and I smiled and asked for an autograph. He smiled and said “Oh, sure.” His party floated toward the limousine parked at the curb several feet away. No one else was out there on Michigan Avenue. So for a span of three minutes, it is just Robin Williams and I, standing in the dark…alone. So, what do I say to the man I have been watching and idolizing for so many odd years? Absolutely nothing…I choked, big time choke. I did not pay him one compliment, did not name any of my favorite films, nothing. He handed me back my pen and paper, and I managed to squeak out a “Thank you very much”, to which he smiled at me with those brilliant eyes, and spoke to me in that kind, warm, reassuring voice of his, “You’re welcome”. For many years after that day I had kicked myself in the ass for not saying a word to him. He still remains the most famous person I ever came face-to-face with.

Fast forward to Monday, August 11, 2014, while I was at my part-time library job a woman approached my counter looking for a Robin Williams movie (‘Bicentennial Man’). While I searched the computer to see if we had it, she mentioned how sad it was about his death. I cocked my head to the right, like dogs do when you speak to them, and said “I’m sorry, are you talking about Robin Williams the actor?”. Her eyes got big, “Yes, it’s been all over the news.” When she walked away, I leaned over to my co-worker and asked “Have you heard anything about Robin Williams’ death?” He looked at me, wide eyed and confused as he shook his head “no”. As I hurriedly typed it into Google, I murmured “No.. please, and please don’t let it be a suicide.” But there it was, all over the internet, and I felt as though I had been kicked in the heart. It was difficult to read about it while still at my work station, because I just wanted to let go and cry. One of my workplace responsibilities is to create a graphic display for a celebrity who may have passed away, and gather his/her movies or CD’s to put on display. Searching for favorite pictures, finding quotes, tracking down his films we have on our shelves…I did all that in a cloud of complete disbelief. I was in shock. This beautiful, brilliant man…that no one has ever come close to in comparison…was now gone. My co-workers could see how it affected me, it showed on my face, in the gait of my walk, and they actually tried to console me. I know there are many people who think “How can anyone get this upset over someone they don’t even know?” Artists put themselves into their work, be it music, writing, filmmaking, dancing, painting, or acting. If you saw a few of his films, you knew him. If I could go back in time, to that three minutes I had with Robin Williams…I still don’t know exactly what I would of said…but it would have been something. Anything! If you have something to say to someone…say it now.

River Grove, Ill. – This fall, starting Sept. 20, youth can partake in a number of courses that are not only educational, but fun! Take advantage of classes that will keep children engaged, as they learn a new language, create art or brush up on their computer or reading skills. And because many of the classes are scheduled in succession, you can enroll your child in more than one class!

¡Bienvenido! Beginning Spanish  In this class, learn how to converse in Spanish using everyday expressions and phrases, as well as learn about the culture and customs associated with the language. Recommended for children ages 7-12.

Course Number           Time                                                            Date                                                                     Price

KDS C80 201               9 to 10:20 a.m.                   Saturdays, Sept. 20-Nov. 22                  $70


Junior Artist  Is your child a budding Picasso or just wants to express himself or herself creatively? Show your creativity in one or more of the following: drawing, painting, sculpture, collage or a combination. Recommended for children ages 7-12.

CMP C13 201              10:30 to 11:50 a.m.                Saturdays, Sept. 20-Nov. 8                  $95

CMP C13 202             12:30 to 1:50 p.m.                   Saturdays, Oct. 4-Nov. 22                  $95


Little Gardeners  Dig in and watch it grow! Go on nature discovery walks and observe and learn how things grow and bloom in Triton’s Botanical Gardens. Recommended for children ages 6-12.

CMP C12 201               10 to 11:20 a.m.                       Saturdays, Oct. 4-Nov. 22                  $75


Fun with Jewelry Making  Use beads, metal and string to make beautiful jewelry, while creating friendships. Get creative and learn how to make bracelets, earrings, necklaces and more. Recommended for children ages 6-12.

CMP C28 201           11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.                  Saturdays, Oct. 4-Nov. 22             $80


Zumbatomic: Zumba for Kids

Crank up the music, shake, wiggle and have a blast in this class! Learn Zumba’s exciting fitness formula and perform specially choreographed routines. Recommended for children ages 7-12.

KDS C46 201                 10 to 10:50 a.m.                        Saturdays, Oct. 4-Nov. 22                  $42


Benvenuti! Beginning Italian  In this class, learn how to converse in Italian using everyday expressions and phrases, as well as learn about the culture and customs associated with the language. Recommended for children ages 7-12.

KDS C84 201                 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.               Saturdays, Oct. 4-Nov. 22                  $65


Junior Actor’s Clinic  Get a chance in the spotlight! Learn the basics of pantomime, improvisation, drama and comedy in this acting class. This class will also teach proper speaking skills, timing and delivery of lines, voice projection, facial expressions and body language. Before the final curtain falls, they will be able to plan and perform a short play with confidence and poise. Recommended for children ages 7-12.

KDS C10 201            11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.                   Saturdays, Oct. 4-Nov. 8                       $60


Computer Detectives I  Explore the many features, tips and tricks of using computer. Strengthen typing skills, learn how to better use Google and understand how to lessen the risk of receiving a computer virus. Recommended for children ages 7-12.

CMP C07 201                   11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.                Saturdays, Oct. 4-Dec. 13                  $92


Reading Help  Turn off the video games, television and music and start reading! Reading will be transformed from being a task to a discovery process.

First and Second Grades

KDS C56 201                  11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m.                   Saturdays, Oct. 4-Dec. 13                  $65

Third and Fourth Grades

KDS C56 202                   12:30 to 1:50 p.m.                      Saturdays, Oct. 4-Dec. 13                  $65

Fifth and Sixth Grades

KDS C56 203                     2 to 3:20 p.m.                           Saturdays, Oct. 4-Dec. 13                  $65


Class sizes are limited! Sign up today! To register, visit or call (708) 456-0300, Ext. 3500.

Take flight with Movie on the Mounds’ feature ‘DRAGON 2

River Grove, Ill. – Fly in to Triton College’s annual Movie on the Mounds on Friday, Sept. 26, when they’ll be showing “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”

Join Hiccup and Toothless as they stumble upon an ice cave that is home to hundreds of dragons, leaving them at the center of a battle to protect the peace.

The free, family-friendly movie event open to the public is from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and will have popcorn and a raffle, as well as a hot dog and soda combo for $1. The movie will begin at sunset outside on Triton’s Mounds, or the Commons Area, located on the west side of campus.

In case of inclement weather, the movie will be shown inside the Robert M. Collins Center. Triton College is located at 2000 Fifth Ave., River Grove.

For more information, call (708) 456-0300, Ext. 3572.

River Grove, Ill. – Families are in for a treat when Triton College’s annual Fall Family Fun Fest returns to the college’s Botanical Gardens on Saturday, Sept. 27.

From games and activities to fall favorites, such as the ever-popular pumpkin patch and straw maze, families will enjoy a harvest of fun so much so, they won’t want to “leaf.”

The free community event will have face painting, mask making, cupcake decorating, an obstacle course, Fun with Legos™, family portraits to capture the experience, and also back by popular demand, Maggie the Cow, which provides children with the learning opportunity of “milking” a mechanical cow.

There will also be pumpkins for sale, plus a giant pumpkin will be on display for families to take pictures with!

Attendees can get physical with Chicago-style stepping and get a lesson in fire safety by venturing through a Fire Safety House supplied by the River Grove Fire Department that is also bringing a fire engine to the fest.

Back again will be The Great Triton Treasure Hunt that encourages families to work together to figure out clues that takes them to various areas around Triton’s campus. Each child who completes the challenge and visits all four locations will receive a prize.