Giant invasive mussel species living in New Jersey ponds

News with a Twist

Jersey restaurants protest government eradication plans; But opportunity for former Governor Christie?

Chinese Pond Mussel

I learned today that a colony of Chinese pond mussels, as big as the dinner plates, have been living and growing in New Jersey ponds, where they have threatened to spread to the nearby Delaware River and wreak ecological havoc.

Most Americans know mussels as thumb-sized shellfish that occasionally adorn dinner plates in dishes like Moules Marinière, Moules-frites, Moules Provençale and more. And moules (or mussels) are the signature dish at one of the great tourist trap restaurants in the world, Chez Leon in Brussels (if you haven’t had mussels in Brussels, you haven’t had mussels!).

Chez Leon, Brussels

It’s not surprising that these giant mussels have appeared in New Jersey. Have you ever had a meal in a typical New Jersey restaurant? The portions are enormous: Veal parmigiana the size of serving platters, accompanied by a pound of spaghetti marinara in Italian restaurants; Mexican cantina combos with four enchiladas, three tacos, two burritos and one extra-large chile relleno, refried beans + frijoles + rice + extra tortillas…well, you get the point.

Thinking about what these gargantuan mollusks can mean for their business, Jersey restauranteurs are protesting the potential eradication of these giant mussels. 

Leaning Tower of Pizza – South Hackensack, NJ

Summing up the sentiment, Salvatore “Fat Sonny” Calabrese-Napolitano, owner of the Leaning Tower of Pizza restaurant in South Hackensack, said, “These mussels would be great for our customers…for them bigger is better. And ‘Mama Mia,’ these are big! Plus, much less work for us – we’d only have to clean one mussel instead of the 150 in our regular mussels serving. ‘Magari!’ If only!” 

But despite the pleas of restaurant owners like Calabrese-Napolitano, Federal and New Jersey officials are in the process of wiping out the giant mussels from New Jersey ponds.

Wait, what? There’s more to this story?

Yes, and from whom else but former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (who, by the way, looks like he’s no stranger to New Jersey veal parmigiana).

But first some background.

Christie has been looking for meaningful work since even before he left office in January 2018. As longtime readers of Around the Block will recall, his blatant pandering to Donald Trump for a position in the administration did not get him a job but did open up other opportunities. 

After ending his presidential campaign in March of 2016, Around the Block reported that legendary Broadway producer Mortie Teitelbaum had contacted Mr. Christie for a potential role in a soon to be produced Broadway musical.

As we wrote at the time, “According to Mr. Teitelbaum, as soon as he saw Mr. Christie on the stage subjugating himself to Mr. Trump, he knew he had to cast him for the role of Sancho Panza in his upcoming revival of Man of La Mancha.”  ‘Seeing Governor Christie up there made me think, who better to play the consummate Broadway sidekick with a belly than a real-life sidekick with a belly…Chris Christie,’ said Mr. Teitelbaum.”

That revival fell through, but a few months later, after Trump secured the nomination, Christie lobbied the candidate for a job, any job. This led Teitelbaum to come back with another potential Christie gig, a starring role in yet another revival, A Chorus Line.

Commented Teitelbaum at the time, “I cannot imagine anyone in the world who could sing the central song in A Chorus Line, ‘I Hope I Get It,’ with more passion and genuineness than Chris Christie:

I really need this job

Please God, I need this job

I’ve got to get this job!

Although that revival similarly went nowhere, Teitelbaum came back to Christie one more time, in February 2017. 

As Around the Block reported at the time,  “…after hearing news about the Trump/Christie relationship, where Trump tells Christie to do something, anything, and Christie does it – even, as the photo below suggests, emulate Trump’s hair style –” Teitelbaum came up with a totally new idea, commissioning a completely new musical with Christie in the lead role, Manservant of La Mancha.

Chris “Donald” Christie

“Chris Christie will stoop at nothing to curry Trump’s favor,” said Teitelbaum at the time. “He’s a natural sycophant, better even than that gonif Pence. Build a show around this guy and it will run forever.”

As we reported back then, “While other details about Manservant of La Mancha are sketchy, Teitelbaum did indicate that the big, show-stopping song will be called ‘The Improbable Team.‘”

When that project also never came to fruition, it was believed that Christie’s show business ambitions died as well.

And then came the Chinese giant pond mussels.

In yet another exclusive, Around the Block has just learned that Teitelbaum has gone after the former governor one final time, in what Teitelbaum suggests is “the role of the century,” the star turn in the new musical, Little Pond of Horrors. Christie will play the role of the hapless Seamore. And in a genius casting move, Seamore’s love interest in the show, Tawdry, will be played by another former GOP presidential hopeful, Carly Fiorina, who will sing the show’s show-stopping number “Finally, Seamore.” But, in a true casting coup, and depending on the outcome of the current Democratic presidential race, Teitelbaum is trying to convince Senator Bernie Sanders to play the role of a lifetime, Mr. Schmendrick, the crotchety owner of the Pond.

Stay tuned.

For reference, following are links to the Teitelbaum/Christie Around the Block posts:

March 3, 2016 – Christie support of Trump derided, but may open new opportunities

July 15, 2016 – Trump selection of Pence for VP leaves Christie searching for another gig

February 8, 2017 – Christie’s obsequiousness may lead to new starring gig

Published by Ted Block

Ted Block is a veteran “Mad Man,” having spent 45+ years in the advertising industry. During his career, he was media director of several advertising agencies, including Benton & Bowles in New York and Foote, Cone and Belding in San Francisco; account management director on clients as varied as Clorox, Levi’s and the California Raisin Advisory Board (yes, Ted was responsible for the California Dancing Raisins campaign); and regional director for Asia based in Tokyo for Foote, Cone where he was also the founding president of FCB’s Japanese operations. Ted holds a Bachelor’s degree in communications from Queens College and, before starting in advertising, served on active duty as an officer on USS McCloy (DE-1038) in the U.S. Navy. Besides writing Around the Block, Ted is also a guest columnist for the Palm Beach Post.

2 thoughts on “Giant invasive mussel species living in New Jersey ponds

  1. I don’t know if it’s just me or if everyone else encountering problems with your blog.
    It appears like some of the text on your posts are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too?
    This may be a issue with my internet browser because
    I’ve had this happen before. Cheers


    1. Hi Pomovare Restaurant. Sorry you’re having trouble with the formatting. You’re the only reader who’s reported a problem; I’ve looked on two different computers and two different browsers on each without a problem. The pages are also formatted to fit tablets and smart phones so you might want to try one of those. Sorry for any inconvenience.


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