August 14, 2019

YingHua School Hosts STARTALK Program

The YingHua International School (YHIS) in Kingston recently hosted the 2019 YingHua STARTALK Teacher and Student Program, sponsored by the National Security Language Initiative, a federal program seeking to expand the teaching of strategically important languages.

YingHua was selected by STARTALK to share their strength in Chinese academics and methodology. Languages taught under the STARTALK Program include Arabic, Chinese, Dari, Hindi, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu.

YHIS Director of Administration Michelle Tan and Director of Academics Wen-Lin Su created the program to address various experiences and levels of students, with the program beginning online June 17 for one week and then in person for the following three weeks.

The 48 participating students from third to ninth grade joined the program from various public and private schools throughout the New York-New Jersey metropolitan area. more

By Stuart Mitchner

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.
—The Rolling Stones

After last week’s news of Toni Morrison’s death, I put aside plans for a column on Woodstock and went to the Princeton Public Library looking for one of her novels, preferably Beloved, which I’d never read. My better-late-than-never mission was delusional because there was no way I could do right by a novel of that magnitude in a matter of days, and in any case, the shelves had been cleared of her fiction, no surprise given the PU Professor Emerita’s literary stature and the town’s pride in a former resident. Aside from audio books, the only work of hers available was The Origin of Others (Harvard Univ. Press 2017), which draws on the six Norton Lectures the Nobel laureate delivered at Harvard in spring 2016. That this little book was still there reinforces my semi-superstitious belief that I can always count on the library to give me what I need even when it’s not what I think I want.

What I needed, among other things, was a way to make sense of my inability to literally get into Morrison’s best-known and most acclaimed novel. My problem was that the opening of Beloved seemed to be a contradiction in terms. The first paragraph simply didn’t open for me. I couldn’t get in the door. I know I should have made more of an effort, but all I saw was an enigmatic number: “124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.” What follows — about a grandmother named Baby Suggs suspended “between the nastiness of life and the meanness of the dead, who couldn’t get interested in leaving life or living it” — left me in the dark. If I’d read farther, I’d have learned that 124 was the street number for what was, in effect, a haunted house. But I didn’t read farther.

I was reminded of my experience with the opening of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury when I first ran headlong into it as a college sophomore: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. They were coming toward where the flag was and I went along the fence. Luster was hunting in the grass by the flower tree.” What flag? Who was hitting what? Who was Luster? Of course once I learned that I was seeing with the eyes of a deaf mute at a golf course, I was at least through the door and into a world so many-leveled and many-voiced that for the first time in my life I started rereading a novel the same day I finished it.  more

“TOPDOG/UNDERDOG”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “Topdog/Underdog.” Directed by Lori Elizabeth Parquet, the play runs through August 18 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Brothers Lincoln (Nathaniel J. Ryan, left) and Booth (Travis Raeburn, right) stare each other down during a game of three-card monte. (Photo by Kirsten Traudt)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Princeton Summer Theater is concluding its 2019 season with a gripping production of Topdog/Underdog. This edgy, character-driven drama, which depicts the relationship between two African American brothers, is an apt fit for a season whose mission has been to “explore love in all its forms.”

Topdog/Underdog played on Broadway in 2002. It earned playwright Suzan-Lori Parks the Pulitzer Prize, as well as the Outer Critics Circle Award.

Lincoln is a former three-card monte hustler who now earns money at a carnival arcade by impersonating the famous president for whom he is named. This entails wearing whiteface and pretending to be shot.

Booth — the younger brother — has not given up three-card monte, and aspires to emulate his brother’s former success at the game. In his apartment he ceaselessly practices dealing cards, and luring potential victims with smooth chatter, although we will discover that in the past there was a crucial moment in which his skill drastically fell short of his ambition. He persists in attempting to persuade Lincoln to abandon his current occupation and join him. more

With two stages, six bands, Music Fest Princeton returns to Palmer Square on Sunday, September 15. The festival pays homage to famed musical acts from the Garden State.

The show’s headliner, The B Street Band, pays tribute to Asbury Park’s Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band. Also scheduled is a tribute to the songs of Hoboken native Frank Sinatra by Swingadelic, a jazz swing band from New York City.

The family-friendly festival will have two stages, food and beverage vendors, retail offerings, and activity tables from around Palmer Square. more

The West Windsor Arts Council’s Out of This World Performance Troupe, composed of local teenagers, performs “Music Through the Decades,” a revue of favorite show tunes, on Saturday, August 24, at the Nassau Park Pavilion [between Target and Panera], Route 1 South. The performance is from 7 to 8 p.m.

“The goal of the program is to strengthen our young performers’ Broadway repertoire and guide them through staging and choreography. We are looking forward to putting on a great show that gives everyone a chance to shine,” said director Ellen Renee. Under her tutelage, many of Renee’s students have gone on to professional careers on stage, in print, and on television. 

The production will feature professional sound and lights as well as a special guest appearance by Kyle Alexxander, who has been performing since a young age under Renee’s training and coaching. Alexxander’s credits include Walt Disney World, supporting the ensemble of Broadway’s Mary Poppins Main Street USA televised Christmas Day Parade Broadway, and singing pop punk tunes on the main stage of the Seaside Heights Music Festival.

Admission is free. For more information, call (609) 716-1931 or visit

“CHAPLIN’S MEADOWS” This watercolor by Harry Leith-Ross (1886-1973) is featured in “Harry Leith-Ross: Scenes from Country Life,” on view at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., through February 2020. The works in the exhibit depict locations in Holland, Scotland, Nova Scotia, New Hope, and Doylestown, among others.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., presents “Harry Leith-Ross: Scenes from Country Life,” on view in the Pfundt Gallery through February 2020.

Featuring drawings and watercolors primarily from the Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition illuminates the artistic process and skilled draftsmanship of the painter Harry Leith-Ross (1886-1973). Born in the former British colony of Mauritius, Leith-Ross grew up in Scotland and England before moving to the United States in 1903. After working as a commercial artist and studying painting in Paris, he enrolled in the Art Students League’s summer school at Woodstock, N.Y., in 1913 and began exhibiting in New York and Philadelphia. more

“BY THE SEA”: This photo by Heidi Sussman is featured “New Jersey Photography Forum — A 25-Year Retrospective,” on view September 15 to November 10 in the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park. The exhibit will feature nearly 100 works ranging from film and digital imagery to alternative processes such as cyanotype, glass fusion, and hand coloring.

The Trenton Museum Society will present “New Jersey Photography Forum — A 25-Year Retrospective” from September 15 to November 10 in the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion. The museum is located in Cadwalader Park at 299 Parkside Avenue, Trenton. Admission is free, with donations welcome.

The exhibit’s nearly 100 works range from film and digital imagery to alternative processes such as cyanotype, glass fusion, and hand coloring, and will represent the 25 years since the New Jersey Photography Forum’s (NJPF’s) 1994 founding.  more

CAN DO: Josh Teves, left, helps goalie Austin Shaw hold the fort in a game last winter for the Princeton University men’s hockey team. Star defenseman and team captain Teves ended up signing with the Vancouver Canucks after wrapping up his Princeton career. Teves made his NHL debut on March 26 in a 5-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Next month, Teves heads to training camp where he will look to earn a spot on the Canucks roster. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Josh Teves would have been fine with delaying the start of his professional ice hockey career, but now he’s grateful for the experience gained at the end of last winter.

Three days after the defending ECAC Hockey champion Princeton University men’s ice hockey team lost 6-5 in triple overtime to Brown on March 9 to fall in an ECACH first round series, star defenseman Teves signed with the Vancouver Canucks. On March 26, he made his NHL debut for the Canucks in a 5-4 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

“It was a crazy experience,” said Teves, a 6’0, 180-pound native of Calgary, Alberta, reflecting on his first taste of NHL action. more

ON THE BALL: Devon Lis dribbles the ball up the field last fall in her debut season for the Georgetown University women’s soccer team. Former Princeton High star Lis helped Georgetown go 21-1-3 in 2018 on the way to the NCAA semifinals. Midfielder Lis is currently going through preseason training for the Hoyas, who are slated to open their 2019 season by playing at James Madison University on August 22. (Photo provided courtesy of Georgetown University Athletics Communications)

By Bill Alden

When Devon Lis started preseason training last summer in her freshman season with the Georgetown University women’s soccer team, she sensed that the squad could do some special things.

“What has always been clear to me is that we were really dedicated and willing to work very hard,” said former Princeton High standout Lis. “Every practice we gave it our all, there was no slacking off.”

There was no slacking off for Lis as she adjusted to the rigors and quicker pace of the college game. more

BACK IN THE FLOW: Stephen Baytin of the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings shows his backstroke form in a 2017 meet. Last month, Baytin starred at the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet, earning MVP honors for the Division 2 8-and-under boys. Baytin’s heroics helped the Lemmings place third in the Division 2 team standings at the meet. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Although the Nassau Swim Club Lemmings posted a pedestrian 2-2-1 record in Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) dual meet competition this summer, Will Kinney was confident that the team would step up at the season-ending league championship meet.

“We saw the quality of our individual swims in our dual meets,” said Lemmings head coach Will Kinney. “We felt pretty good going into champs.”

Nassau displayed its quality at the PASDA championship meet held at the West Windsor Waterworks. Taking third in the Division 2 standings, four of the team’s boy swimmers earned MVP honors. The Lemmings scored 1,394 points in the two-day meet with the Ben Franklin Swim Team piling up 2,339 points to win the Division 2 title. more

August 7, 2019

The 101st Annual Mercer Country 4-H Fair, held last weekend at Howell Living History Farm in Hopewell Township, featured hayrides, animal shows, pony rides, music, magic shows, exhibits, homemade ice cream, and farm tours. Fairgoers share their favorite part of the event in this week’s Town Talk.
(Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

Toni Morrison, a world-renowned writer and Nobel laureate with strong ties to Princeton, died the evening of Monday, August 5 at New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center.

Morrison was the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities, Emeritus, at Princeton University. According to an article on the University’s website, she joined the faculty in 1989 and was a member of the creative writing program until transferring to emeritus status in 2006.

The website published a statement from Morrison’s family.

“It is with profound sadness we share that, following a short illness, our adored mother and grandmother, Toni Morrison, passed away peacefully last night surrounded by family and friends,” the statement said. “She was an extremely devoted mother, grandmother, and aunt who reveled in being with her family and friends. The consummate writer who treasured the written word, whether her own, her students, or others, she read voraciously and was most at home when writing. Although her passing represents a tremendous loss, we are grateful she had a long, well-lived life.” more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council approved a resolution at its Monday meeting to accept the donation of a biodigester from MetLife Stadium, in order to reactivate the town’s curbside organics program, which halted early this year.

While the biodigester is being given to the town, it will cost some $20,000 to move it and repair rust and dents. During the public comment portion of the meeting, several residents spoke in favor of the purchase, while others said more information is needed before a decision is made. But MetLife made it clear that a decision was needed right away if the donation was to take place, said Municipal Administrator Marc Dashield.

The vote, following statements from Council members as well as the public, was 4-1 in favor. Councilwoman Eve Niedergang, who acknowledged she was “raining on everyone’s parade,” cast the negative vote. more

SPEAKING FOR PEACE: Robert Goldston, a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University, and artist and architect Mira Nakashima both spoke at Monday evening’s rally at Hinds Plaza to commemorate the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (Photo by Wendy Greenberg)

By Wendy Greenberg

Monday evening’s commemoration of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took on a broad, timely message as speakers addressed immigrant detention at the U.S. southern border; recent U.S. shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas; and nuclear crises between the U.S. and Iran and North Korea.

The event on Hinds Plaza, sponsored by the Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), began with the peaceful strains of the shakuhachi, a Japanese flute played by Glenn Swann, and ended in candlelight. A minute of silence was observed at 7:15 p.m., which corresponded to 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima (the Nagasaki bomb was dropped August 9).

“Unfortunately, there is no guarantee this will never happen again,” said CFPA Assistant Director Niki VanAller. The grassroots group calls for abolishing nuclear weapons, encouraging a peace economy, and halting weapons trafficking through changing public policy and education.  more

“FIVE FRIENDS HANGING OUT”: This photo by Princeton resident Ilene Levine is featured in “Woodstock 50: A Look Back,” on view at Princeton Public Library through September 1. The exhibit highlights Levine’s photos and memories from the historic 1969 concert.

By Wendy Greenberg

There are those too young to remember a summer music festival called Woodstock, and there are those who saw the crowds on the news or have a story about a friend going. And there are those like Princeton’s Ilene Levine, who not only was there, but took photographs to document the generation-defining concert held in Bethel, N.Y., August 15 to 18, 1969.

Levine’s photographs and recollections are shared in the Princeton Public Library’s “Woodstock 50: A Look Back,” and bring to life her experience navigating crowds in the sun and the soaking rain while listening to the likes of Joan Baez; Arlo Guthrie; Santana; Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young; Janis Joplin; and others.

The intimate exhibit, which runs through September 1, is part of a commemoration that includes the showing of the film Woodstock on the 50th anniversary of its opening day, August 15, at 6 p.m. in the Community Room of the library. The three-hour film is presented in partnership with the Princeton Garden Theatre and Princeton Record Exchange. more

By Wendy Greenberg

Princeton residents who have found that the Cargot Brasserie on University Place has closed can look toward September, when, pending an official sale scheduled this week, a new restaurant will open in its location run by The Harvest Group, a longtime New Jersey family-owned and run restaurant company.

As reported by Town Topics in April, Jim Nawn, owner of Fenwick Hospitality Group, announced that he was selling the Princeton eateries Agricola, The Dinky Bar & Kitchen, and Cargot Brasserie, plus Fenwick Catering and Events, to The Harvest Restaurant Group, which is based in Morris Plains. Harvest owns 11 different restaurants, including three Roots Steakhouse restaurants. Harvest has been serving customers for almost 20 years.

Plans are for the Cargot space to reopen in September as Roots Ocean Prime, a more “fish-focused” version of the Roots Steakhouse restaurants that have operated in Ridgewood, Summit, and Morristown for some time. more

By Anne Levin

A Princeton physician who was struck at 10:30 a.m. on July 30 by a pickup truck while crossing Washington Road at Prospect Avenue has died as a result of his injuries. Dr. Michael Reiss passed away due to brain trauma, according to information from the McCafferty Funeral Home. He was 68.

A report issued by the Princeton Police Department on Monday, August 5 said the Ford F350 pickup truck was operated by Antonio Pirone, 42, of Princeton. The truck was stopped facing west at the traffic light on Prospect Avenue at the intersection of Washington Road. When the light turned green, the vehicle proceeded to make a left turn onto Washington Road, going south.

At that time, Pirone failed to see Reiss walking eastbound within the southern crosswalk on Washington Road. As a result, his front bumper struck Reiss, who was approximately halfway through the crosswalk. The impact, though at a low rate of speed, knocked him to the ground, causing him to roll and strike the back of his head on the pavement. more

By Stuart Mitchner

It’s so fine, it’s sunshine, it’s the word love….
—John Lennon, from “The Word”

When I began writing this column on Thursday, August 1, an hour into Herman Melville’s 200th birthday, I’d been reading Philip Hoare’s celebration of Moby-Dick in the online July 30 Guardian, where he says he “fell in love with Melville” as much as “he had fallen in love with whales.” With the combination of love and Melville in mind, I had my subject. Two days later, the mass shooting in El Paso followed by Sunday’s in Dayton put hate in the headlines. The news cycle’s massive dissemination of love’s opposite only underscores the enduring power and significance of one of the most casually abused, glorified and degraded verbs in the language. Even so, it remains remarkably durable. John Lennon and the Beatles made an anthem of it in “All You Need Is Love” after paying tribute to it in “The Word.” When Lennon sings, “Everywhere I go I hear it said, in the good and the bad books, that I have read,” I’m thinking of what Melville said after finishing Moby-Dick: “I have written a wicked book and feel as spotless as the lamb.” more

Travis Raeburn and Nathaniel Ryan star in “Topdog/Underdog,” a play by Suzan-Lori Parks, ending Princeton Summer Theater’s 2019 season at Hamilton Murray Theater August 8-18. Though the text is not Princeton-specific, the production aims to bring its exploration of race and prejudice in contemporary America home to Mercer County by incorporating nods to Princeton’s historically African American Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood throughout the production design, such as a sign for John Street visible in an apartment window. The actors are shown in front of Maclean House, with a memorial to the 16 enslaved individuals who occupied the building when it was the official residence of the University president. Visit for tickets.

GIVE IT A TRY: Westminster Conservatory will offer children and their parents who are looking for a place to take music lessons the opportunity for a free “test drive” at “Try It Out Day” on Saturday, September 7.

Westminster Conservatory, the community music school of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts, will give children and their families a chance to sample what the school has to offer at a gathering on Saturday, September 7. from 10:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Offered at the Conservatory’s main location on the Westminster Choir College campus on Walnut Lane, “Try It Out Day” will feature Early Childhood demonstration classes for children between the ages of 14 months and 8 years, as well as free 20-minute trial lessons with Westminster Conservatory teachers for children 6-18. Adults are also welcome to register for a trial lesson. more

Princeton Ballet School is enrolling students for fall classes, which begin September 9 at the studios on Harrison Street in Princeton Shopping Center, at the Cranbury branch, and at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. Placement classes are August 15 and 22 and September 7. For details, visit or call (609) 921-7758.

“SELF PORTRAIT”: This 1944 painting by Helen Lundeberg is featured in “Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein,” running September 3 through January 5 at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers in New Brunswick. The exhibit brings together paintings, sculptures, prints, and photographs, along with poetry and ephemera associated with the Dimensionist movement. (Photo by Peter Jacobs)

Beginning September 3, the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers will host the nationally-touring exhibition that explores Dimensionism, an artistic movement tracing the influence of early 20th-century scientific discoveries on some of the era’s most celebrated artists. “Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein” highlights the untold story of the Dimensionist Manifesto, authored by Hungarian poet Charles Sirató in 1936 and calling for an artistic response to groundbreaking scientific discoveries that changed human understanding of the universe.

Organized by Vanja Malloy, formerly curator of American Art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College and now director and chief curator of Syracuse University Art Galleries, the exhibition features some 75 artworks by more than 36 artists, including the manifesto’s signatories — such as Alexander Calder, Marcel Duchamp, Sonia Delaunay-Terk, Joan Miró, László Moholy-Nagy — and their contemporaries. more

“LANDSCAPE WITH THREE TREES”: This 1643 etching by Rembrandt van Rijn was recently acquired by the Princeton University Art Museum, which now holds 70 of the 300 prints produced by Rembrandt over his career. The museum is free and open to the public.

An evocative and technically complex etching by Dutch Baroque master Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-69), Landscape with Three Trees (1643), was recently acquired by the Princeton University Art Museum.

The Princeton University Art Museum holds 70 of the 300 prints produced by Rembrandt over his career, providing a cross-section of the artist’s graphic output, ranging from several of his earliest self-portraits and genre studies to some of his greatest late religious compositions. The new acquisition joins the only other landscape etching in the Museum’s collection, Landscape with a Thatched Cottage (1641), which was acquired in 1960. more

FAMILY STYLE: “We’re a family restaurant, family-owned and operated. We’re set apart by our commitment to having a family business, our welcoming atmosphere for all our customers, and, of course, by our delicious food.” Alessandro (Alex) and Kim Borredon, owners of Alfonso’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in the Princeton North Shopping Center, are proud of their 23 years in business.

By Jean Stratton

What is it about Italian food that is so appealing? Whether it’s pizza, pasta, or paninis, diners can’t get enough of it.

Kim and Alessandro (Alex) Borredon, owners of Alfonso’s Pizzeria & Restaurant in the Princeton North Shopping Center at 1225 State Road, believe they have the answer.

“Italian food is popular because it is healthy, has fresh ingredients — including olive oil and fruits and vegetables — and it tastes good! People in Italy have a passion for food, and that comes through in all their dishes and recipes.” more

PANNING OUT: Bella Alarie goes up for a shot last winter in in her junior season for the Princeton University women’s basketball team. This week, Alarie, a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year, will be competing for the U.S. squad at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Never has Bella Alarie been so happy to have a list alphabetized as the Princeton University senior was the first name announced to make the United States women’s basketball team for the Pan American Games after tryouts this May in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“It’s just so exciting to hear your name called,” said the 6’4 Alarie, a native of Bethesda, Md. and a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year.

“I was kind of shaking a little bit. I was thinking, ‘I really did this.’ It’s hard to hear the other names called, but I made a lot of other friends and to hear some of their names called was just really exciting.”

Alarie is one of three players from the U-19 national team that won silver in the 2017 World Cup to make the squad which will be competing for the U.S. in the XVIII Pan Am games in Lima, Peru this week. more