January 20, 2021

The Princeton University campus was quiet prior to the return of undergraduates. The students who have chosen to come back began moving in, with specific time slots, last weekend. The process continues in the coming weekend. (Photo by Weronkia A. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

The first phase of undergraduates returning to the Princeton University campus is underway. As of Tuesday morning, about 1,140 on-campus residents, sent home last March due to the pandemic, had arrived, completed their first COVID-19 test, and entered the University’s arrival quarantine process.

Of the more than 1,300 tests given to arriving students as of Tuesday morning, six have been positive — a positivity rate of about 0.4 percent, according to Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss.

Nearly 3,000 of the more than 5,400 undergraduates enrolled at the University have chosen to move back to campus. In doing so, they had to sign a strict “social contract” outlining expectations for behavior, and participate in a COVID-19 testing program. Students will have their own sleeping spaces.

“Requirements of the social contract include wearing a face covering, maintaining a minimum of 6 feet of physical distance from others indoors and outdoors, and completing a daily symptom check,” Hotchkiss said in an email. “Students remain in strict quarantine — leaving their rooms only to use the restroom — until they receive the results of their first test. If negative, they continue the arrival quarantine protocol that concludes after at least seven days and two additional negative tests. Students who test positive are moved to separate spaces for isolation.”

The return of the students was a key topic at a Zoom meeting of the Princeton Merchants Association last Thursday. The University’s Director of Community and Regional Affairs Kristin Appelget, and Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety Robin Izzo, reported to the merchants on what was required of the undergraduates. Merchants can expect to see students around town by February 1, which is when classes begin. “They can go into town, but they can’t leave Mercer County or Plainsboro without permission,” said Appelget. more

By Donald Gilpin

With last week’s expansion of eligibility to millions of additional New Jersey residents, including smokers, anyone from 16 to 64 with a qualifying medical condition, and all people over 65, there are now millions of people waiting to be vaccinated. The vaccine supply, however, continues to be severely limited.

New Jersey has the capacity to administer 470,000 vaccine doses per week, health officials report, but the states depend on delivery from the federal government, and New Jersey received only about 100,000 doses per week last month and anticipates the same number —50,000 doses per week from Pfizer, 50,000 from Moderna — in the coming month.

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) COVID-19 website states: “Due to supply limitations, vaccination appointment availability is extremely limited at this time.”  A number of vaccination sites have reported overwhelming demand and a shortage of doses, and some overbooked sites are currently unable to schedule appointments. The NJDOH states that “there will be more vaccine with each coming week and month. We urge everyone to be patient, understanding everyone’s desire to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The Princeton Health Department has reported an unusually high volume of calls and emails about the availability of the vaccine, coinciding with the federal government’s acknowledgement that there is a shortage of doses.

“This unfortunate news comes at a time when our state has ramped up efforts to get shots into people’s arms by creating over 300 clinics, mobilizing a substantial vaccination force of volunteers and paid personnel to staff them, only to have those efforts impeded by this unexpected turn of events,” Princeton Press and Media Communications Director Fred Williams wrote in an email. more

By Donald Gilpin

A group of local parents has initiated the Princeton Parents for Black Children (PPBC), a nonprofit organization to support and advocate for Black students in Princeton Public Schools (PPS).

Citing “unique challenges faced by Black students in Princeton Public Schools,” a January 14 press release from the organization stated, “The PPBC is the outgrowth of decades of advocacy by families and allies seeking to improve educational opportunities and conditions for Black children.”

Co-president Rhinold Ponder pointed out that PPBC is well underway in pursuing a full slate of goals as it works with the district and its Black students. Student achievement, fundraising, community building, and political action are the focus of several PPBC working committees, he said.

“We have already been aggressive in establishing collaborative relationships and permanent lines of communication with the district office to address issues which impact all of our children, including racial literacy, the unconscionable fact that 50 percent of Black children in the district have IEPs [independent education programs], and diversity in hiring and promotions,” he wrote in a January 19 email.

In addition to Ponder, executive committee officers, who were elected at a recent organizational meeting, include Veronica Foreman as co-president; Lanniece Hall, secretary; Teri Boyd, treasurer; Raphael Aryeetey as Princeton Community Village representative; and Valerie Henry as Griggs Farm representative.

“We are proud that we have leaders representing communities in Princeton Community Village, the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, and Griggs Farm, in addition to the community at large,” Ponder said. “We have a large, diverse membership with many concerns and needs which we plan to address strategically.” more

MUSICAL MIRACLE: The Princeton Symphony Orchestra presents the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble in the first of five specially curated concerts January 29-31. The young musicians have been trained at the project’s renowned school in South Africa. (Photo by Graham De Lacy)

By Anne Levin

Eighteen months ago, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) took a group of trustees to South Africa. A highlight of the trip was time spent with the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble, known throughout the country as a world-class orchestra of young musicians from challenging circumstances.

Thanks largely to that visit, the PSO is presenting a five-concert, on-demand series that begins Friday, January 29. Buskaid – A Musical Miracle was curated by the organization’s founder and music director, Rosemary Nalden, who put the archival material together during the lockdown caused by COVID-19. PSO Executive Director Marc Uys, a South African violinist himself, was a Buskaid fan long before the fateful trip with the trustees.

“For me, this is a wonderful thing,” he said last week. “What is really striking about Buskaid is the energy and incredible style they have, around a wide variety of genres. They are especially amazing with Baroque music. They open concerts with that. It’s a very particular school of string playing which comes from Rosemary herself. She worked in that world for decades before she started this group.”

It was back in 1991 that Nalden, a British violist, heard on the BBC about a string project in Soweto experiencing financial difficulties. The same story appeared in a newspaper a year later. “It was by pure chance that I heard and read both reports, which immediately sparked a fascination in me to discover that classical stringed instruments were being taught in Soweto,” she said in an email. “I wanted to help, so together with around 120 friends, I organized a simultaneous ‘busk’ in 17 British rail stations, mainly in London, which took place in March 1992. We collected around 6,000 pounds, which was quite a lot of money in those days!” more

By Donald Gilpin

Princeton University Professor and frequent MSNBC commentator Eddie S. Glaude Jr. on January 25 and legendary consumer advocate Ralph Nader on January 30 will be leading the conversations in two upcoming Friends of the Princeton Public Library (PPL) virtual events.

As part of the PPL’s series of small events, both sessions will provide wide-ranging commentary on current events, as well as a focus on recent books by the two authors, who have spoken and written widely on the Trump administration and the recent assault on the Capitol and its aftermath.

Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Message for Our Own is the title of Glaude’s June 2020 book and also the title for the January 25, 7 p.m. Zoom event, where Glaude will be joined in conversation with his colleague, Princeton University African American Studies Professor Imani Perry.

James Baldwin, as quoted in Glaude’s Introduction to Begin Again and on his Twitter page, wrote, “Not everything is lost. Responsibility can’t be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again.”

Glaude, who is chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton, author of numerous books and articles, and a frequent guest on television talk and news shows, has been featured regularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, commenting on police violence and Black Lives Matter protests, and in recent days responding to President Trump’s actions and the January 6 assault on the Capitol. more

By Stuart Mitchner

It’s transcendent, you feel it. It’s there, the vanished transcendence and insistence of chance, action and fortuity. It’s there and you can’t unfeel it.

—Walker Evans (1903-1975)

Walker Evans is talking about the impact of the moment he encountered “a visual object” he knew he had to photograph. If you read those words after wading through the tide of raw imagery unleashed by the January 6 storming of the Capitol, you know what it means to feel a force so insistent that “you can’t unfeel it.”

In the opening chapter of Walker Evans: Starting from Scratch (Princeton Univ. Press $39.95), Svetlana Alpers refers to poet William Carlos Williams’s review of Evans’s groundbreaking 1938 book, American Photography (“the pictures talk to us and they say plenty”). Focusing on the poet and photographer’s shared “passionate belief in American art as they made it,” Alpers quotes from a poem by Williams: “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.”

The idea that poetry and photography have the power to enhance or sustain or even save a life resonates on January 20, 2021, whether in relation to the Capitol riots or the inauguration of the 46th president, who found therapy for a childhood disability by reciting the poetry of William Butler Yeats. The “news from poems” in this tumultuous month ranges from the “terrible beauty is born” of Yeats to President Biden’s campaign mantra by way of Seamus Haney: “Make hope and history rhyme.” more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra launched the second of its series of virtual performances this season last Thursday night. Led by NJSO Music Director Xian Zhang (who was also showcased as piano soloist), the concert also featured NJSO concertmaster Eric Wyrick and music of William Grant Still, Giacomo Puccini, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, and Antonin Dvorák. Recorded in Prudential Hall of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center last October and presented as a “concert film,” in collaboration with DreamPlay Films, the online performance combined the lush music of these four composers with scenes of New Jersey Symphony’s home base in Newark.  

Considered the “Dean of African American composers,” William Grant Still composed nearly 200 works during the first two-thirds of the 20th century. Still had a multi-faceted career as classical composer, while also arranging for popular band leaders and film scores. Mother and Child was initially the second movement of Still’s 1943 Suite for Violin and Piano, inspired by a lithograph of the same name by abstract figurative and modern artist Sargent Claude Johnson. Still arranged this movement in several orchestrations, including for strings alone, which was the version heard Thursday night.   more

THE SHOW MUST GO ON: This year’s Princeton Triangle Show is digital, but it is more of a movie musical than a Zoom video. “All Underdogs Go To Heaven” is available free online through February 1.

By Anne Levin

To the Princeton University students who take part in the Princeton Triangle Club (PTC) Show at McCarter Theatre each year, canceling the 2021 production because of COVID-19 was unthinkable.

The PTC is the oldest touring collegiate musical comedy troupe in the nation. Famous alumni of the show, which is written and performed by students and directed by professionals, include author F. Scott Fitzgerald and actors James Stewart, Brooke Shields, and Ellie Kemper. The annual musical comedy with a famous kick-line is a revered tradition, dating back 130 years. Members weren’t about to let the pandemic, which shut down the campus last March, break that tradition.

Thanks to an effort that reached across three continents, a virtual version of the show will go on. But those involved in the creation of All Underdogs Go To Heaven say it is more than just a video. The production, which is available starting tonight, January 20 at 8 p.m., is being billed as “a movie musical.”  more

“HARMONY”: “High Fever” by Erika Hibbert, above, and “Flying Kites Series” by Carole Jury, below, are featured in the West Windsor Arts Council’s new online exhibition. It can also be viewed by appointment at the West Windsor Arts Center through February 26.

Communities often look to artists to provide the bridge between what has happened in the past and what is needed going forward. When the Exhibition Committee of the West Windsor Arts Council sat down last September, this was exactly their intention in creating the “Harmony” exhibition. At that meeting, the conversation revolved around how to bring people together, “There are too many things up in the air right now. What makes us feel grounded and connected and how can art accomplish this?”  more

“EX UNO PLURES 2”: This work by Laura Moriarty is part of “Laura Moriarty: Resurfacing,” one of three new exhibitions opening at the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton on January 24. A virtual opening is Saturday, January 23 from 7 to 8 p.m.

Hunterdon Art Museum will open three new exhibitions on Sunday, January 24: “Glass in the Expanded Field,” “Architectonic: Bruce Dehnert Sculptural Ceramics,” and “Laura Moriarty: Resurfacing.” The museum will make its new exhibitions available virtually in mid-February as part of its ongoing effort to bring contemporary art to underserved communities and those affected by COVID-19. 

A free virtual opening for the new exhibitions will take place on Saturday, January 23 from 7 to 8 p.m. and can be attended by registering at hunderdonmuseum.org.

“Glass in the Expanded Field,” curated by Caitlin Vitalo, highlights the complexity and versatility of glass art and the glassmaking community through the work of 17 artists. In the first half of the 20th century, American glassmaking was limited primarily to factories where workers produced multiples of the same object. Then in the 1960s, the American studio glass movement was born. Focusing on one of a kind objects that highlighted the unique qualities of glass, the early years of the movement set the tone for creative exploration of the material and its artistic capabilities.   more

“BEST COMPANY, LANGHORNE, PENNSYLVANIA”: This 1981 work by David Graham is featured in “Through the Lens: Modern Photography in the Delaware Valley,” on view February 5 through August 15 at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., will reopen to the public on February 5 with the new exhibition “Through the Lens: Modern Photography in the Delaware Valley.” On view through August 15, this major exhibition is curated by the Michener’s Curator of American Art Laura Turner Igoe and Curatorial Assistant Tara Kaufman. 

“Through the Lens” explores nearly 70 years of artistic experimentations with photographic processes and subject matter by artists in the Delaware Valley region.

The exhibition is organized through the themes of form, figure, landscape, community, and social and political activism and highlights over 100 photographs by nearly 40 artists. “Through the Lens” draws primarily from the Michener’s own deep collection of local photography, including many works that have never before been on view, from late prints by the modernist Charles Sheeler — whose time in Doylestown cemented his dedication to the medium — to aerial views of industrial sites by Newtown-based photographer Emmett Gowin.  more

JORDAN RULES: Jordan Fogarty heads up the ice during his career for the Princeton University men’s hockey team. After graduating from Princeton last June, Fogarty headed to Europe to play pro hockey, joining Virserums SGF in Sweden’s Third Division. Through his first 10 games with the club, forward Fogarty tallied 11 goals and eight assists. (Photo provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton University men’s hockey team saw its season halted last March by the pandemic after it had swept Dartmouth in an ECAC Hockey opening round playoff series, Jordan Fogarty was planning to move on from the sport.

“I was pretty well prepared to have that Dartmouth game be my final time lacing up the skates,” said forward Fogarty, who graduated from Princeton last June.

“I was applying to work in finance because I worked an internship over last summer.”

But after hitting the interview circuit, Fogarty decided that he wanted to get back on the ice and committed to play a post-graduate season at Long Island University while studying for an MBA.

With the specter of COVID-19 hanging over the college season, Fogarty checked out options to play pro hockey abroad and eventually signed with Virserums SGF in Sweden’s Third Division.

“I got a really interesting offer in the summer to work as an internship with a Princeton hockey alum (Steve Shireffs ’99) at a credit management fund (Granite State Capital Management),” said Fogarty, an economics major who made the ECAC All-Academic Team three times. more

GAINING CONTROL: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Catie Samaan controls the puck in a game last winter. Sophomore standout Samaan figures to be a key performer for the Tigers this season. PHS opens its 2021 campaign by playing at Princeton Day School on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Last winter, the Princeton High girls’ hockey team relied on senior star Victoria Zammit to control the tempo at both ends of the ice.

“Victoria was great because she could do everything herself to keep it in our other zone and give the defense a break,” said PHS head coach Christian Herzog of Zammit who tallied 45 points on 34 goals and 11 assists to help the Tigers go 4-14.

“She could also play defense and could be helpful there as long as she had the green light to rush the puck when she had the opportunity.”

With Zammit having graduated, Herzog is looking for sophomore Catie Samaan and junior Grace Rebak to step up this winter.

“Catie and Grace are going to have to be iron women and log a ton of time and be situational specific forwards to be on the power play and things like that,” said Herzog, whose team opens its 2021 campaign by playing at Princeton Day School on January 21.

“In the drills that we have been doing, I have Catie and Grace do mostly defense. They are the two strongest players on the team, they take initiative. They are going to have to work a lot of give and go together. They have to make some opportunities happen, especially offensively. Samaan has a strong head for hockey and Rebak is calm on the ice.” more

HAIL STORM: Princeton Day School girls’ hockey player Hailey Wexler heads to goal in a game last season. Senior forward Wexler will be depended on to help trigger the PDS offense this winter. The Panthers open their 2021 campaign by hosting Princeton High on January 21. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the Princeton Day School girls’ hockey team didn’t hit the ice until early January due to delays stemming from COVID-19 concerns, John Ritchie believes that the late start may have made his players even more enthusiastic about the upcoming season.

“They are really excited, building off some of the enthusiasm from last year,” said PDS head coach Ritchie, who guided the Panthers to a 10-11 record last winter in his debut campaign at the helm of the program.

“We almost doubled the number of girls that are playing this year, which is awesome. Some are coming out for the first time. Some have played when they were younger and stopped to focus on other sports and they are coming back to it. For others, hockey is their primary sport. It is a really good mix. We had two scrimmages this week that went pretty well, so far, so good.” more

VOICE OF EXPERIENCE: Eugene Burroughs directs his players during a summer pro league game. Boasting a resume that includes coaching at the Division I level, the NBA, and the G-League, Burroughs has taken the helm of the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball program. (Photo provided courtesy of Eugene Burroughs)

By Bill Alden

Eugene Burroughs has undergone quite a basketball odyssey since the 1980s.

Growing up in Philadelphia, Burroughs starred at Episcopal High (Pa.) and then went south to play college ball at the University of Richmond. During his freshman season in 1991, point guard Burroughs sank the game-clinching free throws as the Spiders upset Syracuse 73-69 in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, becoming the first 15th-seeded team to defeat a No. 2 seed in tourney history.

Upon graduating in 1994, Burroughs worked as a salesman for Coca-Cola before he was pulled back into the game to become an assistant coach for the American University men’s hoops program.

From there, he had associate coaching stints at Marist, Hofstra, Navy, Penn State, and a second stop at Marist.

The NBA came calling in 2014 as Burroughs became the shooting coach for his hometown Philadelphia 76ers. He later coached G-League teams in Delaware and California from 2016-20.

Now, the latest stop on Burroughs’ hoops journey is coming to Princeton Day School, where he has taken the helm of its boys’ basketball program, succeeding Doug Davis.  more

January 13, 2021

Princeton resident Emma Brigaud has created a brightly lit art installation in Dohm Alley off Nassau Street for passers-by to enjoy this winter. The 10-foot-wide space was transformed into an arts and performance venue several years ago. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

With COVID-19 vaccine clinics proliferating throughout the state, the Princeton Health Department has ramped up its vaccination program, administering vaccines to 240 police officers, firefighters, health workers, medical office personnel, and others eligible on Monday, January 11 at the Princeton Senior Resource Center (PSRC) on Monument Drive, in phase 1A of the state’s vaccine rollout.

Also, all staff and residents at Acorn Glen and Princeton Care Center who wanted a vaccine have received their initial doses, the health department reported.

“As more mega clinics open and the state works through phase 1A, more than 300 additional COVID-19 vaccine clinics will be available statewide as phase 1B begins,” said Princeton Press and Media Communications Director Fred Williams. “Preparation efforts by municipal and county health officials across the state as well as here in Princeton will ensure that people who request the COVID-19 vaccine will be able to receive it.”

Williams expressed the health department’s gratitude to scores of volunteers who have assisted in running the clinics. “Doctors, nurses, and many other health professionals, retired and actively working, are making a big difference,” he said.

As of Tuesday, January 12, New Jersey had administered 233,555 doses of the vaccine, according to the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH), out of 657,000 doses received so far. Mercer County reported 5,948 doses administered. more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Councilwoman Eve Niedergang has announced she will run for re-election in the June 8, 2021 Democratic primary. Leighton Newlin, co-chair of the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association and chair of the Princeton Housing Authority Board of Commissioners for the last 19 years, announced Tuesday that he will run for a Council seat.

There are two three-year terms on the ballot this year. Councilman Dwaine Williamson has announced that he will not run for a second term.

Now in her third year on the governing body, Niedergang has served as liaison to the Environmental Commission, the Board of Health, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Personnel Committee, Public Works Committee, Senior Resource Center, Shade Tree Commission, and Sewer Operating Committee.

“I am grateful for the trust and confidence that so many of you placed in me when I ran for election in 2018, and I am asking for your support in 2021,” she said in a press release. “I am here to listen to you and to work collaboratively with residents, colleagues, and staff to achieve the best outcomes for this community which I love and of which I am so proud to be a part.” more

By Donald Gilpin

As the Trump presidency draws to a close and the world reflects on the alarming January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, there are many different opinions and perspectives on what it all means and where the country goes from here. Some of the best informed and most helpful of those perspectives may come from historians and political scientists, and Princeton University’s professors of history and politics have not hesitated to weigh in on the national dialogue.

As Jamie Saxon of the Princeton University Office of Communications pointed out in a press release last week, a number of Princeton faculty “are using op-eds, television news programs, podcasts, online publications, and social media to speak to the moment, share their expertise, and help chart a path forward for the country.”

American History Professor Sean Wilentz, author of a January 7 article in Rolling Stone titled “Lock Him Up: What Donald Trump Did on January 6 was Sedition — and He Must Be Prosecuted For It,” emphasized what he sees as his dual role as a historian. “Some of us feel we have a civic function as well as an educational and intellectual one, that we serve our country in one way or another,” he said in a January 6 Daily Princetonian Podcast, stating that one of his roles is “to bring historical knowledge and wisdom to bear on issues of political difficulty.”

In providing historical context to the recent events, Wilentz compared last week’s violence to the start of the Civil War. “January 6th, 2021 marked the saddest day in the history of American democracy since April 12th, 1861, the day South Carolina secessionists fired on Fort Sumter and commenced the Civil War,” he wrote in Rolling Stone. more

VIRTUAL COMMEMORATIONS: Celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, January 18 is largely online this year. Several events are planned in the Princeton area. (Wikimedia Commons)

By Anne Levin

For the most part, gathering in person to pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. is not an option in this time of pandemic. But that hasn’t prevented numerous organizations, locally and beyond, from planning virtual events on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is Monday, January 18. King’s life and legacy are being celebrated with readings, lectures, sermons, panel discussions, art exhibits, and of course, community service. Many are listed here, and all are being held on January 18 unless otherwise indicated.

The Arts Council of Princeton commemorates King with a community story hour, a public art installation, and coloring books celebrating Black Princetonians. In collaboration with the Historical Society of Princeton and local historian Shirley Satterfield, the Arts Council has issued a limited-edition coloring book featuring the history of prominent Black residents of Princeton, including business owners, politicians, educators, and influential women. The book also covers King’s visits to the Princeton University campus in the 1960s. The coloring books are free but supplies are limited. Pick them up at 102 Witherspoon Street between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on January 18. The books are limited to two per household.

Beginning at 11 a.m., the organization is sponsoring a free, virtual community story hour, via Zoom. Jeff and Dean of jaZams will present some new books celebrating stories of social justice, civil rights, and equality for all people, accompanied by ukulele tunes. To reserve a spot, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org. more

By Donald Gilpin

In response to the January 8, “Zoom bombing” of an online sixth grade meeting at Princeton Unified Middle School (PUMS), Princeton Public School (PPS) officials are working with the PPS technology office, the Princeton Police Department, and Mercer County law enforcement to identify any unauthorized participants in the meeting.

The Zoom bombers, thought to be people from outside the district, according to PUMS Principal Jason Burr’s January 8 email to parents, used a racial slur and posted lewd drawings.

“This was an unacceptable intrusion into the students’ learning and exposed them wrongly to hateful language and images,” Interim Superintendent Barry Galasso wrote in an email to parents and staff on Tuesday, January 12.  “Ironically, the lesson that was disrupted concerned the need for empathy and kindness in the context of community citizenship.”

Galasso noted that officials have since learned that the link to the PUMS Zoom meeting was published externally via Twitter. The PPS staff, Galasso added, is being instructed on how to avoid outside interruptions in the future. 

“We are taking the appropriate steps to safeguard our Zoom meetings to reduce the possibility of outsiders gaining entry,” Burr wrote.

“We apologize to our students and their families for last week’s breach of our community standards,” Galasso said. “Be assured that persons responsible and identified will be held accountable.”

By Anne Levin

Not long after moving to Princeton from Washington state, Leticia Fraga learned that the only Spanish-speaking staffer in the town’s Human Services department had been laid off due to budgetary reasons. Spanish is Fraga’s native language, and she called the department to volunteer her services. It wasn’t long before a position opened and she joined the staff.

Since that introduction to one of Princeton’s numerous boards, commissions, and committees, or “BCCs,” Fraga has become an influential member of Princeton Council, and was elected its president January 4. “It was when I joined Human Services that I felt like I was part of the community,” she said this week. “Being on a BCC is a way to get to know the community hands-on, and get a feel for how it runs. And it’s a way to help.”

There are 26 boards, commissions, and committees listed on Princeton’s municipal website. From Affordable Housing to Zoning, with Public Transit, Public Art Selection, Planning Board and others in between, these groups count numerous residents of Princeton in their ranks.

“The primary mission of Princeton’s boards, commissions, committees, and task forces is to advise the Princeton Council, the elected policy-making body of the municipality, through direct citizen participation,” reads a BCC handbook that was revised last year. “Although the specific duties and authority of each board, commission, committee, and task force vary widely, there are certain responsibilities common to all board, commission, committee, and task force members.” more

By Donald Gilpin

The Princeton Community Democratic Organization (PCDO) has reduced its membership dues to $0 in seeking to attract new members and promote inclusivity.

“In short, we are stronger when we are inclusive, diverse, and unified,” wrote PCDO President Jo Butler in an email. In this unprecedented year, offering $0 dues is one way to invite you to come on in through our wide-open front door.”

In a phone call Monday, Butler highlighted the PCDO’s extensive programming over the past year and the push to get more people involved. “With Zoom or YouTube online we have the opportunity to expand the number of our participants, people who can appreciate our program,” she said. “We want to invite more people into the tent.”

The PCDO going forward is planning to cover expenses through contributions rather than dues. With virtual rather than in-person meetings for most of the year, the organization, which has a membership of more than 500, has been able to save money, and a number of people have made generous voluntary contributions. “I was nervous about this,” Butler said. “The numbers people were a little skeptical, but I think it’s going to work out. I’m happy for the organization.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

—Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951)

When I skimmed It Can’t Happen Here (1935) at the time of the 2016 election, I thought it might make an interesting column. But since the dystopian fantasy by Sinclair Lewis, who died 70 years ago this week, had already been reprinted to high sales and serious notice with Trump’s ascension to the nation’s highest office, I put the piece on hold.

The problem now is not just that I’m distracted by last week’s real-life invasion of the Capitol, but that I’m finding it hard to believe in a despotic president and former U.S. senator from Vermont named Berzelius “Buzz” Windrip, who, the day after being inaugurated, demands the instant passage of a bill giving him complete control of “legislation and execution.” When Congress rejects the bill a day later, he declares martial law and orders the arrest of over a hundred “irresponsible and seditious” congressmen for “inciting to riot.” During the ensuing nationwide riots that the president has, in effect, incited himself, protestors are attacked by the bayonet-wielding troops of his vast private army, the Minute Men (a term with a certain ring in the era of the Tea Party).

Lewis portrays Windrip as grotesque, “almost a dwarf, yet with an enormous head, a bloodhound head, of huge ears, pendulous cheeks, mournful eyes,” and “a luminous, ungrudging smile” that “he turned on and off deliberately, like an electric light, but which could make his ugliness more attractive than the simpers of any pretty man.” His hair was “so coarse and black and straight, and worn so long in the back, that it hinted of Indian blood.” During his years in the Senate, Windrip “preferred clothes that suggested the competent insurance salesman, but when farmer constituents were in Washington,” he “appeared in a ten-gallon hat.” Comparing him to “a sawed-off museum model of a medicine-show ‘doctor,’” who had “played the banjo and done card tricks and handed down medicine bottles and managed the shell game,” Lewis details the offerings of “Old Dr. Alagash’s Traveling Laboratory, which specialized in the Choctaw Cancer Cure, the Chinook Consumption Soother, and the Oriental Remedy for Piles and Rheumatism Prepared from a … Secret Formula by the Gipsy Princess, Queen Peshawara.” Windrip had eventually ascended “from the vulgar fraud of selling bogus medicine, standing in front of a megaphone, to the dignity of selling bogus economics, standing on an indoor platform under mercury-vapor lights in front of a microphone.”

If you find it hard to take such a character seriously, you’re in agreement with the novel’s hero, a small-town newspaper editor named Doremus Jessup, who at first considers Windrip little more than a bad joke and plays down criticism of the government in his paper, the Informer. “The hysteria can’t last; be patient, and wait and see,” he tells his readers, so hard is it for him to believe “that this comic tyranny could endure.” What most perplexes him is “that there could be a dictator seemingly so different from the fervent Hitlers and gesticulating Fascists …. a dictator with something of the earthy American sense of humor of a Mark Twain, a George Ade, a Will Rogers, an Artemus Ward.” Did that, Doremus wonders, “make him less or more dangerous?”

As someone who, among many others, failed to take the current president seriously when he announced his candidacy, I should mention, as I did at the time, the front page of the June 17, 2015 New York Daily News (“CLOWN RUNS FOR PREZ”) showing the candidate with a red clown nose and mouth under the line: “Trump throws rubber nose in GOP ring.” While the star of The Apprentice has nothing in common with the likes of Twain and Ade (not to mention Will Rogers), it’s fair to say that he’s shared the metaphorical stage with a road show con man of vulgar frauds, shell games, and bogus medicine. more