October 19, 2016


A two-story family scene from Saturday’s Friends of the Princeton Public Library Book Sale. In this week’s Town Talk, browsers reveal their most surprising finds. (Photo by Emily Reeves)

The Princeton Public Schools Student Services team laid out their plans for the coming year for a group of about 50 in the John Witherspoon School Academic Conference Center (ACC) on Monday night in a forum sponsored by the Special Education PTO.

In setting the tone for the evening, special ed PTO co-chair Joan Spindel emphasized the value of communication, “learning from each other’s stories” and providing feedback to”help shape the agenda of the Student Services team.”  more


Just a few days before it was headed to trial, a case in which 27 Princeton residents were suing Princeton University over property tax exemptions was settled last Friday. The school will pay out $18.2 million over the next six years to help lower-income residents of the town pay their property tax bills.

The plaintiffs had claimed the school was profiting from research and development in certain campus buildings and should therefore be taxed. The University maintained that educational purposes were the focus. The suit has been dropped. more

In an ongoing battle against the infestation of a tree-killing insect known as the emerald ash borer (EAB), town officials will be voting next week to grant Princeton property owners the right to cut down ash trees without paying the usual $40 permit fee or replacing trees that are removed.

Municipal arborist Lorraine Konopka pointed out that the town wanted to alleviate the burden on residents, particularly those with numerous ash trees on their property, though they will still be required to notify her when removing ash trees of eight inches or more in diameter. “We’d like to know when that work is happening,” she said, “in case neighbors get upset or we need to help keep everything running smoothly.”  more


MAKING IT EASIER TO TALK ABOUT RACE: Princeton High School seniors Priya Vulchi, left, and Winona Guo, right, have spent the past two years creating a teacher-tool textbook to help encourage dialogue in the classroom about race and ethnicity. The second edition, recently released, is 224 pages and a third is in the works.

Between them, Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo have grown up in seven different countries. Priya, daughter of a half-Muslim father and half-Russian mother; and Winona, whose first language is Chinese, know first-hand about feeling like an outsider because of race and ethnicity. more

“The Occupation of Trenton: December 1-31,1776” is the theme of the Washington Crossing Park Association’s second 2016 educational program, to be held on Sunday, November 13, 2-5:30 p.m. at the Union Fire Company Hall (River Road) in Titusville. Larry Kidder, historian and author, will discuss his research and upcoming book. Richard Patterson of The Old Barracks in Trenton will serve as moderator.  more


Princeton Public Library holds a screening Tuesday, October 25 at 7 p.m. of “The Pursuit: 50 Years in the Fight for LGBT Rights.” The documentary, produced through a collaboration between WHYY and others, explores the complexities of contemporary LGBT life and provides a look at the past half-century of the fight for LGBT rights. Included are recollections of local activists from the 1960s when “gays” were “hidden in plain sight,” vulnerable to arrest, subjected to psychiatric treatment, fired from jobs, and publicly shamed. Judy Jarvis, director of Princeton University’s LGBT center, will lead a discussion following the screening in the library’s Community Room. The library is at 65 Witherspoon Street. www.princetonlibrary.org.

Neuropsychiatrist and author Daniel J. Siegel talks about and signs copies of his latest book, Mind: A Journey to the Heart of Being Human, Sunday, October 30, at 4 p.m. at Princeton Public Library.

In the book, Mr. Siegel uses his characteristic sensitivity and interdisciplinary background to offer a definition of the mind that illuminates the how, what, when, where, and even why of who we are, of what the mind is, and what the mind’s self has the potential to become. The book explores consciousness, subjective experience, and information processing, and uncovers the mind’s self-organizational properties that emerge from both the body and the relationships we have with one another, and with the world around us. more


A few years ago, when Lisa Eckstrom was an English teacher and chair of the English Department at Stuart Country Day School, she received the following advice: “Every day think of all the people you can help.”

That advice has guided her career and her work. She is now assistant head of Princeton Charter School (PCS), directing the fifth through eighth grades, while continuing to teach a fifth grade English class.

“That’s definitely advice that has stayed with me,” she said. “You can make such a difference in somebody’s life by being reasonable and compassionate and making the rules work for the students. How can you help the situation? How can you make it better? At the end of the day, that’s what you think about.”

Sister Frances de la Chapelle, long-time Head of Stuart and the purveyor of the well remembered advice, described Ms. Eckstrom as “a gift to Stuart.” Commenting on the extraordinary respect and admiration that students, administrators, faculty, and parents had for her, Sister de la Chapelle noted, ”As a faculty member, she loved her students and the subject which she taught. She was creative, very demanding, and always wanted her students to learn as much as they could. She wanted the best for them and they responded.”  more

On Saturday, October 22 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., a living exhibit will be on display inside the historic Trent House Museum. Actors will inhabit the museum rooms as the people who have died at the Trent House.

Visitors can tour the museum and speak to the actors, including one playing William Trent himself, to learn about their lives and deaths at the Trent House. Admission is $5 and pizza and refreshments are included. more

book-revSure was glad to get out of there alive. — Bob Dylan, “Day of the Locusts”

The “there” Dylan’s referring to is Princeton on the sweltering June day in 1970 when he received an Honorary Doctorate, a month after the shootings of students at Kent State. Hearing himself described as “the authentic expression of the disturbed and concerned conscience of Young America,” he “shuddered and trembled but remained expressionless.” In the words of his memoir, Chronicles Volume One (2004), “It was like a jolt …. There it was again. I couldn’t believe it!” He’s thinking “this kind of thing” could set “the public perception” of him back “a thousand years.” Yet he’s glad he came to get the degree. He “could use it. Every look and touch and scent of it spelled respectability and had something of the spirit of the universe in it.”

There it is again — there he is again. At this writing, almost a week after the news from Stockholm was announced, Bob Dylan has yet to make public how he feels about receiving the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Forty-six years on the other side of “Day of the Locusts,” it’s possible that Dylan’s mind is still attuning itself to such things as “public perception,” “respectability,” and “the spirit of the universe.” As glad as he was to get out of Princeton alive, he made the most of it. Not only did the occasion inspire one of the characteristically ambiguous tropes that make his memoir itself a prize-worthy literary work, it gave him the seed of a song: the locusts that were singing for him are still singing for us. more

Poet Adam Fitzgerald and five seniors in the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Creative Writing at Princeton University will read from their work at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 21 at Labyrinth Books, 122 Nassau Street. The reading is part of the C. K. Williams Reading Series, named in honor of Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning poet who served on Princeton’s creative writing faculty for 20 years.  more


All are invited to dress in their best costumes to join the Arts Council of Princeton for the Annual Hometown Halloween Parade on Friday, October 28 at 5 p.m. The parade will start on Palmer Square Green at 5 p.m. and make its way through downtown Princeton, ending at the Princeton Family YMCA. Fall festivities will continue at the YMCA with “Trunk or Treat,” bounce houses, and family-friendly crafts. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit artscouncilofprinceton.org.


The Asian island nation of Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country, with some 203 million adherents. Much about their practice of Islam and their attitudes toward America and the West was revealed to Rocky Hill-based journalist/author Smith during a recent visit. Smith will deliver a presentation entitled, “What Indonesia Tells Me About Islam – A Non-Muslim’s Travelogue” at Princeton University’s Murray-Dodge Hall, Room 103 on Monday, October 24 at 4:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

For further information, visit www.princeton.edu/muslimlife.

October 13, 2016


Morven Museum & Garden’s exhibit, “Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh: Couple of an Age,” will end its long run through on October 23. The name of Lindbergh’s plane has taken on a certain  significance in the wake of Sunday’s contentious presidential debate.  (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

October 12, 2016


Chennai Chimney invites the general public to a Grand Opening on Saturday, October 15. A buffet of South Indian cuisine will be available from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and dinner will be served from 5 to 10 p.m. Patrons will receive 20% off with the Ad that appears in today’s Town Topics Newspaper (offer is valid from 10/11 through 10/21).

Chennai Chimney is located at 19 Chambers Street in downtown Princeton. The name “Chennai” refers to the region known as the Gateway to South India. The unique blend of native spices is complemented by the décor, which brings the atmosphere of South India to life. Food and drink is served in the traditional etiquette with clay bowls, banana leaves, and glass chai tumblers.

Learn more at www.chennaichimney.com.


Princeton High School was evacuated Tuesday morning after Princeton Police received a call threatening that there was a bomb inside the school. The threat, which came from an unknown male, was called in about 10:15 a.m., and officials immediately emptied out the building and brought in bomb-sniffing K-9 dogs. No device was found. more


SCHOOL BOARD CONTEST: Four newcomers, competing in the November 8 election for three seats with three-year terms on the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education, squared off in a public forum last week, sponsored by the League of Women Voters (LWV).  Hopefuls are (L to R) Debbie Bronfeld, William Hare, Alex Martin, and Gregory Stankiewicz, with Karen Siracusa (on left, standing) moderating for the LWV.  (Photo courtesy of Princeton Community Television)

With a range of financial, academic and philosophical issues on the table, and a teacher contract to be negotiated in early 2018, four Princeton residentsСDebbie Bronfeld, William Hare, Alex Martin, and Gregory StankiewiczСare competing for three open seats in Princeton School Board elections on November 8. more

Demography, the statistical study of populations, is not an exact science. The consequences of that fact are currently playing out in the Princeton Public Schools (PPS), where the student population this year is 184 higher than anticipated, classrooms and schools are over-crowded, and school officials are ”doing what we can” for the short term, and planning for more favorable long-term solutions. more


BOMBS TO BOOKS: Rachel Asir, a senior at Stuart Country Day School, has created a foundation and launched a project to bring books and literacy to Syrian children in refugee camps in Jordan and Turkey.

This time of year is fraught with pressure for college-bound high school seniors, and Stuart Country Day School’s Rachel Asir is even busier than most. In addition to her daunting course load, she spends the hours of her week in rehearsals as a concert pianist, cellist, and Indian Classical dancer; responsibilities as president of the Stuart High School student body; practices and games on the varsity field hockey team and as captain of the South Jersey Devils Girls Rugby team — not to mention SAT and ACT tests, college visits, essays, and applications. more


HONORED FOR VOLUNTEERING: Set to receive awards October 25 for their work helping area non-profits through VolunteerConnect are, left to right: recipients Mika and Pat Ryan, Jane Latini, Kathy Lo Bue, and Aquatia Owens. The honorees gathered recently at a special event launch held at CoolVines in Princeton.

Back when Amy Klein was a stay-at-home Mom, she was asked to join a local non-profit’s board of trustees. She gave it some serious thought. But ultimately, she declined. more

“Barriers To Decision-Making In End of Life Care: An Introduction to New Jersey Goals of Care” will be the topic of a presentation by David Barile, MD; CEO and medical director of New Jersey Goals of Care, at the meeting of the 55-Plus Club t 10 a.m., Thursday, October 20, at The Jewish Center of Princeton, 435 Nassau Street. Everyone is welcome. Admission is free, with a $3 donation suggested.  more


The portrait of Charlotte Brontë by George Richmond (1809-1896), chalk, 1850. © National Portrait Gallery, London. Image courtesy of the Morgan Museum and Library.

As opening sentences of great novels go, “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day” doesn’t make much of an impression, certainly not compared to the upfront immediacy of “Call Me Ishmael” from Moby Dick or the expansive vision of society suggested by “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife” from Pride and Prejudice. Herman Melville and Jane Austen head the American Book Review’s 100 Best First Lines from Novels. Charlotte Brontë’s no-walk-that-day opener doesn’t make the list. more

The 2016 Friends of the Princeton Public Library Book Sale, which takes place October 14-16, will feature among its special offerings a limited edition copy of Letters from His Excellency George Washington (1803) in its original binding and a signed copy of Subtle is the Lord, a biography of Albert Einstein by his Institute colleague Abraham Pais. The sale will be held in the library’s Community Room and in a tent on Hinds Plaza. more


The Penguin Book of the Undead: Fifteen Hundred Years of Supernatural Encounters edited by Scott Bruce

The threat of redistricting, an Arab military leader, and The Penguin Book of the Undead are featured subjects this week at Labyrinth Books.

Today, Wednesday, October 12 at 6 p.m., David Daley and Sam Wang will be discussing Mr. Daley’s new book Ratf**ked: The True Story behind the Secret Story to Steal America’s Democracy through Redistricting (Norton $26.95). The book details how Republican legislators and political operatives “fundamentally rigged our American democracy through redistricting.” David Daley examines the far-reaching effects of the so-called REDMAP program, which has radically altered America’s electoral map and created a firewall in the House, insulating the party and its wealthy donors from popular democracy.  more