April 7, 2021

By Anne Levin

Michael Mechanic

Who hasn’t entertained a fantasy of winning the lottery? Among those who fall significantly below the one percent, the prospect of sudden, immense wealth can seem like entry into a perfect world — no worries about rent, mortgages, college tuition, and just putting food on the table, not to mention sports cars in the garage and trips to exotic locales.

Not so fast, says Michael Mechanic, author of the book Jackpot, due for release by Simon & Schuster on April 13. The lively non-fiction account of American wealth and its consequences will be discussed by the author, a 1983 graduate of Princeton High School, at a Zoom event sponsored by Labyrinth Books on April 20 at 6 p.m.

“I first had the idea for this probably 25 years ago,” Mechanic said in a telephone interview last week. “I was going to write about the fascination with people like lottery winners, who come into wealth suddenly. We’ve all heard the stories about them imploding.”

But Mechanic soon realized that the idea wouldn’t work. “They won’t talk to you,” he said. “They have been so barraged, by everyone from friends they haven’t seen in 20 years to sleazy money managers. These are often simple people who work for a living and have a family. It really messes up families and work life, so what do you do?” more

By Stuart Mitchner

The greatest art never loses its mystery. The better we know hers, the more dreamlike and sensational it seems.

—Gary Giddins on Billie Holiday (1915-1959)

It’s Opening Day at the Great American Ballpark. So begins a fresh, new, hopefully complete season after the travesty of 2020. At first glance there was a touch of poetry in that combination, the idea of a sports venue that hadn’t been branded by a corporation; alas, the home field of the Cincinnati Reds bears the name of The Great American Insurance Company.

But then the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, the team I’ve followed almost all my life, play their home games on the site of a slave market in a stadium built and named for a beer baron.    

I’m not complaining, not after watching Major League baseball played with real people in the stands. Never mind that the crowd amounts to only 20 percent of capacity, these living breathing yelling drinking eating fans are a joy to behold after last year’s cardboard facsimiles, with crowd noise Muzak piped in at peak moments in the action.

I’d like to think the upside of that surreal season was that it refreshed our appreciation of the game, the moral being “You don’t know what you’ve got until you almost lose it.”   

The same story was played out at the same time when America almost lost itself; now democracy is starting a new season, with the MLB commissioner pulling this year’s All Star Game out of Atlanta as a rebuke to Georgia’s recently passed voter suppression bill. Remember the way the Republican secretary of state stood fast against the gangster tactics of an unhinged president? Remember the 1919 Black Sox scandal?  It’s as if a right-handed reliever named Raffensperger refused to throw the game, striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth, thus validating the playing-by-the-rules ideal shared by baseball fans bound by a love of the game, whatever their team or party. Except that fans of the Great Lie booed, threw things, and stormed the field of broken dreams screaming “Kill the umpire!”  more

“SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY”: Passage Theatre has presented an online production of “Surely Goodness and Mercy.” Written by Chisa Hutchinson and directed by marcus d. harvey, the play depicts Tino (above, left) and a classmate, who try to help an irascible but caring school cafeteria worker. (Painting by Leon Rainbow, courtesy of Passage Theatre)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre has presented Surely Goodness and Mercy. Playwright Chisa Hutchinson’s inspirational coming-of-age drama follows Tino, an intelligent and caring 12-year-old boy. Tino and a classmate form an unlikely friendship with a school cafeteria worker, and seek a way to help her out of a crisis.

This online production was presented March 25-28; the run was extended for a second week (April 1-4). Surely Goodness and Mercy has been part of Passage’s Theatre for Families and Young Audiences series — which, according to the company’s website, is “geared towards students in elementary or middle school and focus on themes that affect the youth in our area.”

Hutchinson’s play is uplifting, but it also is grittily realistic. Set in Newark, Surely Goodness and Mercy attacks poverty (specifically the inability to afford health care), racism, and child abuse. Hutchinson also explores faith and its ability to empower people to change situations.

Tino (serenely portrayed by Layton E. Dickson) lives with his embittered aunt, Alneesa (played by Tamara Anderson, whose performance is characterized by bored, haughty glares and barbed line readings). When Tino tries to engage Alneesa in conversation, she pointedly fast-forwards through a commercial to avoid him.

Alneesa approves of Tino’s classmates teasing him for reading the Bible at school. She also rants about his generation when she learns that he discovered his church via Yelp. She tasks him with dusting, before abruptly reassigning him to scrubbing the bathtub. Later we learn that Tino’s mother died to save him from a gunshot. Alneesa’s resentment stems from the fact that she did not want children, but has been tasked with raising her late sister’s child. more

MEETING MUSICIANS ONLINE: Basia Danilow, concertmaster of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, gives students in the PSO BRAVO! program a close-up look at her violin.

During this pandemic year, Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) has pivoted its PSO BRAVO! education programs to offer a range of virtual opportunities to area teachers, students, young musicians, and the online community. Virtual school musician visits and online instrument demonstrations are geared to engage the younger set, while discussions of Bach and Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey (YOCJ) master classes are of value to older student musicians.

The orchestra is planning on up to 50 “Meet a Musician” visits. Students have the opportunity to talk with an orchestra musician face-to-face online, gain a close-up look at the instrument(s), and listen to live music demonstrations. Over 20 schools are participating, including elementary schools in the Princeton, Hopewell, and South Brunswick school districts.

Johnson Park Elementary vocal arts teacher Erin Ketterer said of the program, “The Zoom BRAVO! visits have been absolutely amazing. Our students have been just as captivated as they were during our past live assemblies. These virtual visits have meant so much to me as a music educator, because I think it shows the resiliency and power of music and musicians.”  more

Newark Symphony Hall (NSH), New Jersey’s largest Black-led arts and entertainment venue, recently announced Yendor Theatre Company (YTC) as its first company-in-residence. YTC’s first production with the venue will be Richard Wesley’s Black Terror, co-produced by WACO Theater Center, which is based out of Los Angeles’ North Hollywood neighborhood. The production will be directed by WACO’s co-artistic director, Richard Lawson, and will live-stream online this summer.

YTC will also be the first resident of The Lab at Newark Symphony Hall, a career accelerator and business incubator focused on the performing arts. The program is being launched with financial support from Newark Arts. YTC is a 2021 Black Seed grant winner — the first national initiative providing financial support for Black theatre companies across the country.

“We’re tremendously excited about the virtual staging of Black Terror and know audiences will appreciate its timeless themes,” said Taneshia Nash Laird, president and CEO of NSH and show producer. She is also the sole Black female leader of a performing arts center in New Jersey. “We’re confident that while housed within our incubator, Yendor will see swift growth, utilizing various creative and professional resources we’ve made available.”

Wesley, the award-winning playwright, screenwriter and New York University professor, wrote Black Terror when he was 26 years old. “The depiction of Black revolution was originally staged as part of the Shakespeare Festival in New York City in 1971. Black Terror was one of my first plays but continues to resonate both culturally and historically. I very much look forward to seeing it staged for an entirely new generation,” said Wesley, who also serves on the NSH board. “I’m grateful to the teams at Yendor, Newark Symphony Hall and WACO Theater Center for making this happen. I believe this is an important work, thematically, for audiences in Newark, L.A., and across the country.”  more

“IN CONVERSTION”: Artist Maria de Los Angeles will join Timothy M. Andrews for a free virtual conversation on Tuesday, April 13 from 7 to 8: 30 p.m. Her work is featured in “A Voice to be Head, on view in the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery April 10 through May 8.

The Arts Council of Princeton’s “In Conversation” is a curated series of discussions designed to celebrate and connect those who make art and those who love art. Breaking down the barriers between artist and art-appreciator, “In Conversation” delves into inspiration, studio practice, and artistic aspirations.

Maria de Los Angeles, curator and artist featured in the Arts Council’s exhibition “A Voice to Be Heard,” on view April 10 through May 8, will join Timothy M. Andrews, art collector and supporter of the Arts Council’s Artist-in-Residence program, for free virtual conversation on Tuesday, April 13 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Register at artscouncilofprinceton.org. more

The organizers of the 2021 “Ellarslie Open” juried art show invite artists to submit artwork through April 30 via an online entry system.

Dr. William R. Valerio

Sidelined in 2020 by the coronavirus pandemic, the Trenton City Museum’s annual juried show will return for 2021 as “Ellarslie Open 37/38” in acknowledgment of its canceled year and its return. Dr. William R. Valerio, director of Philadelphia’s Woodmere Art Museum, will jury the 2021 show. There will be awards and prizes in 10 categories, include a $1,000 prize for Best In Show.

The “Ellarslie Open” showcases work by established and emerging artists from across the region and beyond, and has grown into the Delaware Valley’s premier annual juried exhibition since its inception in 1983. This year’s show will open June 26 and remain on view in person and online through October 3.

“Ellarslie Open 37/38” Curator Joyce Inderbitzin said artists may submit up to six entries across a variety of categories through April 30. Through the online entry system artists can submit digital images of artwork in most media (not film or video). Submissions are limited to six works, with a maximum of two from any of the 10 primary judging categories, as outlined at ellarslie.org/ellarslie-open-2021-call-for-art.  more

When West Windsor Arts’ staff reviewed the list of volunteers for the past year of shutdowns and pivots, they didn’t expect to come up with 127 names. This number represents individuals willing to give their time and energy by stepping up to meet the challenges of our times through the arts. It took some innovative ideas to keep volunteers engaged through projects like the Art Against Racism community art installation, sewing face masks to donate to frontline workers, creating online galleries and receptions, and sending joy and encouragement by decorating Art Kit bags for classes and camps. In addition, the board of trustees and other committee members including the External Affairs Committee, Internal Affairs Committee, Governance, and the Exhibition Committee contributed time and expertise on such projects as virtual gala planning, grant and loan applications, and other fundraising drives. All of this enabled West Windsor Arts to do a quick pivot from in-person to online everything, keeping programming relevant during an uncertain time.

As part of National Volunteer Week, West Windsor Arts is honoring three dedicated individuals whose service this past year was extraordinary, awarding them the Volunteers of the Year award. Barbara Weinfield of West Windsor and Doreen Garelick of Princeton Junction are recognized for their steadfastness in a difficult time, and their keen perception of the needs of the community. High school student Samhita Ghosh is recognized for the range of services she provided, taking on any and all special projects West Windsor Arts had to offer.  more

TWO IN ONE: “We offer two concepts on one site: Poké Mahi and Fresca Bowls,” says Samoil (Sani) Risteski, manager of the Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl restaurant. A variety of innovative dishes offers an intriguing dining experience, with healthy choices that taste good! The attractive and informal setting invites customers to embark on a new dining journey.

By Jean Stratton

People want to get out and be together in a restaurant — have human contact. This is so important. We are ready to offer them high quality, healthy food in a great setting, and welcoming atmosphere.”

Samoil (Sani) Risteski, manager of Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl at 142 Nassau Street (former location of Hulit’s Shoes) is enthusiastic about the new restaurant’s very positive reception.

“We opened in September, and have had an excellent response. We already have many repeat customers, and we expect it to get even better as the warm weather arrives, and we can have both indoor and outdoor eating, as well as takeout.”

Poké Mahi, Fresca Bowl is a franchise operation, with locations along the East Coast. Princeton is the first in New Jersey, and is a top-notch spot, reports Sani. “Princeton is a great location for us. People here are interested in exploring new dishes, new tastes, to see what something is like. They like to try new things.” more

SPECIAL EFFECT: Stephen Carlson gets ready for a special teams play this past fall for the Cleveland Browns. Former Princeton University standout Carlson ‘19 played in all 16 regular seasons, helping the Browns make the NFL playoffs for the first time in 18 years. Tight end Carlson excelled on special teams, making nine tackles over the season and recovering an onside kick late in the season finale to help clinch a 24-22 win over Pittsburgh and secure a playoff spot for Cleveland. (Photo provided courtesy of PU’s Office of Athletic Communications/Cleveland Browns)

By Bill Alden

As an undrafted and unheralded free against coming out of the Ivy League in 2019, Stephen Carlson was a long shot to make the Cleveland Browns.

But former Princeton University star receiver turned tight end Carlson beat the odds, making the team’s practice squad and then getting promoted to the active roster midway through the campaign, ultimately seeing action in seven regular season games.

After that promising start, however,  Carlson felt like he was starting over a year later when the Browns brought in a new head coach, Kevin Stefanski, and then COVID-19 hit and halted in-person activities.

“In a lot of ways I thought of it as like my rookie year again with a new playbook and a new coaching staff,” said the 6’4, 240-pound Carlson, 24.

“I had to make good first impressions with the last coaching staff. They learned to know who I am and know what kind of player I am. I had to prove myself all over again. In a lot of ways, I was pretty nervous because of the offseason stuff. I was doing everything on my own, I didn’t know how everyone else is treating it.”

As fellow Ivy Leaguers, Carlson bonded with coach Stefanski, a former Penn standout defensive back.

“There was a lot of banter back and forth, especially at the beginning,” said Carlson with a chuckle. more

SHOWING RESILIENCE: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Grace Rebak controls the puck in a game this season. Junior star defenseman Rebak made an impact at both ends of the ice as PHS went 1-2 in 2021. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With a squad of only around ten players, the Princeton High girls’ hockey team utilized a blue collar mentality to get through the winter.

“We had nine, 10 girls and I told them look we have got to play with what we have, it is what it is,” said PHS head coach Christian Herzog, noting that his team practiced early mornings at the Ice Land Rink in Hamilton as its usual home, Princeton’s Hobey Baker Rink, was not open.

“We need to do the best that we can, we might end up with a loss but we are not accepting it from the get-go. It was bring the hard hat, the lunch pail, and go to work.”

Taking that message to heart, the Tiger players brought an energy to the ice.

“The girls were excited to be there for the opportunity to play,” said Herzog, whose team went 1-2 in an abbreviated season. “Many of them were not the more experienced players.”

The squad’s two most experienced players, junior Grace Rebak and sophomore Catie Samaan, proved to be the workhorses for the squad.

“They provided some really good leadership, they definitely logged a ton of minutes,” said Herzog. more

FRESH APPROACH: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Adriana Salzano heads up the court in a game this winter. Freshman point guard Salzano enjoyed a superb debut campaign for PDS, which posted a 1-7 record in 2021. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Trailing Princeton High 21-13 heading into the second half of its season finale, the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team could have thrown in the towel.

Instead, PDS outscored their crosstown rivals 13-7 in the third quarter to turn the game into a nail-biter. While the Panthers ended up falling 39-29 in the March 4 contest, PDS head coach Seraphine Hamilton liked the way her squad battled to the final buzzer.

“I was really proud of our push to come back in the third quarter,” said Hamilton, whose squad had edged PHS 30-29 a day earlier to break into the win column.

“The team is resilient, if nothing else. We rebound really well and that is what kept us going. Adriana Salzano got hot, she hit two threes pretty close together. She was a good spark for us.”

The squad’s closeness helped it make the most of a 2021 season limited by  COVID-19 concerns.

“We continued to emphasize this that we have to take what we can get, we have to be grateful,” said Hamilton, who guided the Panthers to a 1-7 record in her first year at the helm of the program.

“They really are a good group. Our seniors are really composed and our underclassmen go really hard; they are intense. It was a nice balance for the two, the seniors reminded them to have fun and the underclassmen kept us focused and disciplined. It was really great in that way.” more

BIG APPLE: Hun School baseball player Carson Applegate heads to first base in a 2019 contest. Last Monday, junior star Applegate came up big on the mound and with the bat, pitching a perfect game with 12 strikeouts and contributing a double and three RBIs to help Hun defeat Blair Academy 11-0 in a game that ended after five innings due to the 10-run rule. In upcoming action, the Raiders, who moved to 1-1 with the victory, play at the Pennington School on April 12 and Princeton Day School on April 13. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Hun School baseball team suffered a tough 7-6 loss to LaSalle College High (Pa.) last week in its season opener, Tom Monfiletto saw the setback as a valuable experience for his squad.

“That is the exact atmosphere that we want to expose our players,” said Hun head coach Tom Monfiletto, reflecting on the March 30 contest.

“It was a very loud, electric atmosphere, a really good program, and a really well-coached team. It was a perfect first game to have. Obviously we would have liked to have won. We saw some great things and we saw a lot of things that we really need to work on. We have addressed that stuff this week and we will continue to address it but it was a good one to start the season with. Now we know what these big-time programs are going to look like and how very little room for error we have in those games.”

With the 2020 season having been canceled due to the pandemic, there is a great atmosphere around the Hun squad as it has returned to the diamond.

“The preseason went great, I think everybody was really excited to see each other every single day, that was the fun thing,” said Monfiletto, crediting Hun Co-Athletic Directors Bill Quirk and Tracey Arndt, the school’s health services staff, and his coaching staff of Pat Jones, Steve Garrison, and Rich Volz with putting in yeoman’s efforts to help make the season possible.

“Everybody was chomping at the bit to get back out there again and be together. Everybody was just dealing with the school the way that it is with one day when they are in school and one day when they are at home. They are getting some everyday normalcy. Being able to compete and work hard outside of school is something that everyone is enjoying from our best players to some of the players who are playing for their first year.” more

PLAYING TAG: Hun School softball catcher Hanna Babuschak makes a tag in a 2019 game. Senior star Babuschak is looking to enjoy a big final campaign for the Raiders. Hun was slated to start its 2021 season by hosting the Peddie School on April 6 and Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on April 7 before playing at Blair Academy on April 10 and Conwell-Egan Catholic High (Pa.) on April 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Year in, year out, the Hun School softball team looks forward to its spring trip to balmy Florida to help get it sharp for the upcoming season.

But with COVID-19 concerns preventing any jaunt to Florida this spring, Hun had to battle some wintry weather in getting ready for the 2021 campaign as it got back on the field after the 2020 season was canceled due to the pandemic.

“We had our preseason on the turf because our field was completely covered with snow,” said Hun head coach Kathy Quirk, whose team was slated to open its season by hosting the Peddie School on April 6 and Springside Chestnut Hill (Pa.) on April 7 before playing at Blair Academy on April 10 and Conwell-Egan Catholic High (Pa.) on April 12.

“It wasn’t as good as going away to Florida, but they are excited. We have been working hard.” more

By Bill Alden

Starring at soccer, track, and lacrosse for Hunterdon Central helped put Kathleen Jaeger on the path to coaching.

“I was just very fortunate to go to a high school where sports were so competitive,” said Jaeger.

“That is what led me into coaching because I want to give that opportunity to other people.”

In order to achieve that goal, Jaeger headed to The College of New Jersey where she studied special education and competed in cross country, indoor track, and lacrosse from 2015-19.

Jaeger’s experience with the school’s powerhouse lacrosse program influenced her approach to coaching.

“One of my main takeaways is the team itself, the environment that was created among the girls,” said Jaeger, who was an All-American in both lacrosse and track at TCNJ, tallying 169 goals in lax, tied for the 15th-most in program history, and excelling in the 800 on the track.

“That is an aspect I wanted to make sure that I carry with me to teams that I coach in future. Each year it was a different group of starters but everyone on the team came together. It was just so impactful.” more

NET GAIN: Stuart Country Day School volleyball player Laila Fair makes a play at the net in recent action. After wrapping up a stellar hoops career for the Tartans in early March, Fair has been making an impact for the volleyball squad as the season was moved to the spring from the fall due to COVID-19 concerns. Stuart, now 5-1, is playing at Colonia High on April 7 before hosting Delaware Valley on April 9 and Princeton Day School on April 12. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

In early March, Laila Fair wrapped up a stellar career for the Stuart Country Day School basketball program, starring at forward as the squad went 7-6 against a gauntlet of tough foes.

In previous seasons, Fair, who is headed to St. Joseph’s where she will be playing for its Division I women’s hoops squad, would be back in the gym over the spring honing her game.

But this March, with the New Jersey high school volleyball season moved to the spring from the fall due to COVID-19 concerns, Fair is taking advantage of the chance to take her talents to another court, starting for the Tartan volleyball team.

The 6’1 Fair has emerged as a towering figure for Stuart, using her height and athleticism to dominate at the net.

Last week, she piled up five kills, two blocks, three digs, one assist, and three service points to help the Tartans defeat Princeton Day School 2-0 (25-19, 25-16). Senior Shirley Xie played a key role in the win over the Panthers, with one kill, 12 digs, six assists, and three service points.

Fair, who first played volleyball for Stuart in the fall of 2019, is enjoying her final campaign in the sport.

“This is my second year playing volleyball, I wouldn’t say it is a hard transition,” said Fair. more

March 31, 2021

Hundreds of masked supporters attended the rally and vigil in solidarity with the Asian American community on Saturday afternoon at Hinds Plaza. Participants share what brought them to the rally in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

PAYING TRIBUTE: Friends, colleagues, and members of the public who admired Phyllis Marchand gave her funeral procession an ovation as it passed through Princeton on Tuesday morning.

By Anne Levin

On Tuesday morning, nearly 100 people stood on the corners of Witherspoon and Wiggins streets to pay tribute to Phyllis Marchand, who died of cancer on Thursday, March 25 at the age of 81. As Marchand’s funeral procession passed, the gathering of local officials, friends, and admirers — some holding “Thank You Phyllis” signs — broke into spontaneous applause.

Phyllis Marchand

It was a brief but emotional farewell to the former Princeton Township mayor, Township Committee member, marathon runner, mother, and grandmother, who remained active in many community causes despite her 15-year battle with lymphoma. Marchand served in local government for 22 years; 14 of them as mayor.

Marchand is survived by her husband of 57 years, Sy Marchand; her three children Michael, Deborah, and Sarah; and eight grandchildren. Phyllis Steinberg Marchand was a native of New York City and a graduate of Skidmore College. She worked in Manhattan’s publishing industry and moved with her husband to Princeton in 1966.

At the time of her death, she was chair of the D&R Greenway Board of Trustees and was active in several other area organizations including the Princeton YWCA, McCarter Theatre, HomeFront, Planned Parenthood, the Coalition for Peace Action, the D&R Canal Commission, Princeton-Pettoranello Sister City Foundation, the New Jersey League of Municipalities, the Mercer Council for Alcohol and Drug Addiction, Corner House, the Jewish Center of Princeton, Cancer Care, the Princeton Garden Theatre, and the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

On a special website (posthope.org/thoughts-of-phyllis/posts), several people wrote messages of appreciation to Marchand before she died. Since March 25, numerous others have written to her family.

“I am one of hundreds of people who admired Phyllis for her bravery, tenacity, good spirits, commitment to service and so much more,” wrote Eleanor Horne, trustee of the Princeton Area Community Foundation. “To say that she is an inspiration does not begin to capture her impact. I know no one else like her. I know that she is leaving a huge hole in the hearts of her family, friends, and this community. Her spirit will live on as we continue to work on the causes that mattered so much to her.”

Linda Mead, executive director of D&R Greenway,  wrote, “A woman larger than life is hard to lose: Determined. Courageous. Committed to community and causes. Fun! Leader. Friend. And her favorite roles: wife, mother, grandmother. Hers is an impression that no one can forget.” more

By Donald Gilpin

COVID-19 infection rates seem to be rising locally and nationally, and both New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and President Joe Biden have recently expressed high levels of concern and fear of the possibility of a new wave. Particularly in New Jersey, the curve does not seem to be flattening.

The Princeton Health Department reported on Monday, March 29, 13 new cases of COVID-19 in the previous 7 days and 21 new cases in the past 14 days.

“Princeton is continuing to see between one and two cases per day, which is certainly higher than where we were about six weeks ago,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser.

He continued, “As we have seen throughout the pandemic, Princeton has somewhat lagged behind national, state, and regional trends. Our office is closely monitoring upticks in cases and mini-clusters of cases, but they are typically linked back to households.”

Grosser added that public health experts attribute much of the recent spike to “large spring/warm weather gatherings, the rise of more contagious variants, and the pulling back of certain mitigation measures.”

On a more positive note, New Jersey has now administered more than 4 million COVID-19 vaccinations, with 4,112,087 doses delivered as of Tuesday, March 30, and 1,517,333 New Jerseyans fully vaccinated.

The state’s goal is to vaccinate 70 percent of its eligible adults, about 4.7 million, by the end of May. About 22 percent of the state’s 6.9 million adults have been fully vaccinated so far. more

By Donald Gilpin

More than 500 people, overflowing Hinds Plaza outside the library and the Witherspoon and Hulfish streets area, gathered in Princeton on Saturday afternoon, March 27, to rally in solidarity with the Asian American community.

“We are outraged by the racism and misogynistic dehumanization toward Asians,“ said Pastor Mia Chang of the NextGen Church in West Windsor in her opening prayer. “We can no longer be silenced.”

David Chao, director of the Asian American Program at Princeton Theological Seminary, followed the opening prayer by repeating the names and brief descriptions of the eight people killed by a gunman in Atlanta on March 16, then calling for a moment of silence.

The diverse crowd of demonstrators of all ages and races, all wearing masks, most at least attempting to retain social distance, carried a variety of signs proclaiming “Stop Asian Hate,” “Stop Anti-Asian Violence,” “Not Your Model Minority,” “We are Not a Virus,” “Hate is a Virus,” and more.

Sponsored by the Princeton Chinese Community and supported by about 20 different organizations, the rally featured 18 speakers, most of Asian descent but from a wide range of ages and backgrounds, including African Americans, Caucasians, and Latinx. more

ROBESON REMEMBERED: A series of events honoring one of Princeton’s most famous residents begins April 4 and runs through April 9. (Photo courtesy of Paul Robeson House of Princeton)

By Anne Levin

A week of events intended to inspire an annual recognition of Princeton native son Paul Robeson will begin Sunday, April 4 and culminate on Friday, April 9 – Robeson’s 123rd birthday – at locations in and around the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood where the famous actor, singer, athlete, and political activist grew up.

The Robeson Week of Remembrance is a project of the Paul Robeson House of Princeton board of directors, which has been closely involved in the renovation of the Robeson family house on Witherspoon Street, across from the Princeton Cemetery.

“We originally had planned this for last year, but COVID-19 got in the way,” said Ben Colbert, president of the board. “It’s part of an annual observance we are going to be doing. One of our biggest objectives is to really put his name and accomplishments as part of our regular observances here in Princeton. If Albert Einstein deserves a day, Paul Robeson deserves a day.”

The celebration begins with a “Football Toss and Hunt” at Palmer Square Green on Sunday from 1-3 p.m. Princeton High School students, Robeson House board members, and others will share information about Robeson’s life, and will distribute footballs and other materials.

On Tuesday, April 6, Princeton Public Library’s Storytime will feature Grandpa Stops a War, by Robeson’s granddaughter Susan Robeson, which tells the true story of his visit to the front lines of the Spanish Civil War. Princeton High School student Hailey Hawes will read the story on the library’s YouTube channel. Also to be featured is the Robeson graphic biography Ballad of an American, by Sharon Rudahl.

The Robeson House’s YouTube premiere will be celebrated Thursday, April 8 with “Robeson Legacy Interviews and Reflections,” in which board and advisory committee members and friends discuss what Robeson’s life has meant to them, and to the world.

The final event, at 12 p.m. on Friday, April 9, is the placement of a memorial wreath at the bust of Robeson in front of the Arts Council of Princeton building at Witherspoon Street and Paul Robeson Place. Mayor Mark Freda is scheduled to read a proclamation declaring April 9 Paul Robeson Day, and historian Shirley Satterfield will lead a walking tour highlighting sites related to Robeson in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood. more

By Anne Levin

A controversial plan that would add synthetic turf and field lighting to Hilltop Park has been put aside. At a highly attended Zoom meeting on March 25 of the Princeton Recreation Commission, it was announced that the proposal was no longer under consideration. The plan was also the focus of discussion during a meeting of the Princeton Environmental Commission on March 24.

“We have been told to stop working on it effective immediately until the matter is more fully resolved at the Council level,” said Evan Moorhead, assistant director of the Princeton Recreation Department. “There is ultimately no avenue for moving it forward.”

The plan would have replaced an existing grass soccer field with a multipurpose, synthetic field for soccer and lacrosse. It also would have upgraded lighting at the existing baseball field and added new fencing and seating.

The site off of Bunn Drive also includes a skate park, basketball court, and playground, and serves several surrounding neighborhoods.  Many area residents have expressed opposition to the project. Other people have spoken in support. more

By Donald Gilpin

For Princeton University students it’s a safe social event across Nassau Street, a chance to get out of the dormitory, and an opportunity to help out local businesses while enjoying free food, beverages, and other merchandise. And for local restaurants, coffee shops, and other businesses, it’s an opportunity to reintroduce themselves to thousands of University students and provide a boost to sales in what for many has been a long, slow pandemic era business cycle.

Princeton University’s recently created, popular Tigers in Town program, supported by funds that in other years would be used for in-person events on campus and student giveaways, encourages students to explore the town while supporting local businesses.

Tico’s Eatery and Juice Bar, jaZams, Small World Coffee, Sakrid Coffee Roasters, Say Cheez Cafe, Hoagie Haven, Pizza Den, and Ficus have already hosted groups of University students, and the idea is attracting additional businesses and more and more students.

“I like that we can be engaged with the community,” said Princeton University senior Rachel Hazan. “I also love the free food.” 

Hazan, who as a participant in the program discovered Pizza Den and enjoyed a smoothie from Rico’s and coffee from Small World and Sakrid, will soon be treated to a hoagie from Hoagie Haven courtesy of the Princeton Class of 1996, whose members saw their reunion canceled but wanted to support seniors as they were writing their theses.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Marvell is the most enigmatic, unclassifiable, and unaffiliated major poet in the language.

—Harold Bloom

Now let us sport us while we may…

—Andrew Marvell (1621-1679)

   No man is an island entire of itself …

—John Donne (1572-1631) 

In October 1966, Ray Davies and the Kinks recorded my theme song for the day, “Too Much On My Mind,” which makes a surprising but perfectly natural appearance a decade later in The American Friend (1977) by the German director Wim Wenders. At the time of the filming, Wenders told an interviewer that rock and roll had “saved” him: “It gave me the idea of finding out about life. It led me to everything; it led me to film-making.” Because of rock Wenders started to think of creativity “as having something to do with joy: the idea of having a right to enjoy something.” That’s a striking admission from someone who grew up in postwar Germany; instead of the burden of guilt, angst, and negativity: enjoying the right to find joy in creation.

It’s not that I mind having too much on my mind every week. Far from it. Witness the crowd of epigraphs at the top. I could have added a dozen more, including all of Andrew Marvell’s irresistible seize-the-day and see-the- world-and-die seduction song “To His Coy Mistress,” one of those poems it’s hard to stop reading. One sip of this salty Margarita and you’re off to the races with the world and time like the wind at your back, the notion of maidenly coyness the salt on the rim of the glass. Try not feeling happily drunk reading a line like “our long love’s day.” Then to go from that to the sweeping geographical audacity of the coy mistress finding rubies by the Ganges while the love-crazed poet from Hull sings a lusty far-reaching complaint beside his own hometown Humber (was Humbert Humbert here?). Then a take-no-prisoners love song pitch for all time, “I would love you ten years before the Flood.” Who cares what happens after the Flood? And the casual beauty of “And you should if you please refuse” with the not so casual “until the Conversion of the Jews.” Another one-two punch follows, the time-wise, “My vegetable Love should grow / Vaster than Empires, and more slow.” How slow? At this point a poet writing in the 1660s, his poetry unpublished in his time, casts his line and lands the last, July 29, 1997 entry, in the journal of William S. Burroughs two days before his death in Lawrence, Kansas, where a low-rent midnight movie called Carnival of Souls had been filmed in the early 1960s around the time Burroughs’s Naked Lunch was being served up to the world.

Too much on my mind, for sure. Like Ray’s song says, “It seems there’s more to life than just to live it.”  more

“SOMETHING WONDERFUL:” The Princeton Festival presented “Something Wonderful: An Evening of Musical Favorites.” The online concert featured soprano Amy Weintraub (right), accompanied by tenor and guitarist Shane Lonergan. (Photo courtesy of The Princeton Festival)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The Princeton Festival presented Something Wonderful: An Evening of Musical Favorites on March 26. Actress, singer, and dancer Amy Weintraub performed an online recital of songs from classic and contemporary musicals. Actor, director, and musician Shane Lonergan accompanied Weintraub on guitar, and also sang with her on some of the selections. A press release emphasizes that the concert was a benefit whose ticket sales “help fund the Festival’s 2021 season.”

Weintraub and Lonergan previously performed together in The Princeton Festival’s 2020 Live Musical Theater Revue. Weintraub also starred in the Festival’s 2019 production of She Loves Me.

According to Weintraub, Something Wonderful was livestreamed from the living room of her parents’ house (which hosted a small “fully vaccinated” audience) in Fort Collins, Colorado. Acting Artistic Director Gregory Geehern said that he had asked the performers for an “NPR ‘Tiny Desk’ vibe.” It was an astute bit of direction; the intimate, relaxed mood echoed that of a concert in a coffee shop.

The concert was in two segments. The first largely favored selections from musicals that premiered during Broadway’s mid-20th century “Golden Age.” After an intermission, greater emphasis was placed on more recent shows and songs. Unifying themes were the emergence of love, the uncertainty that can accompany it, and the extent to which prior experience can leave one unprepared to process current feelings.  more