January 2, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

Movies and Times Square is the combination I usually go for when I toss the dice for a New Year’s subject. Right now I’m thinking of the January 4, 2012 column, “A Times Square Fantasia With Harpo Marx, Charlie Parker, and the 1911 Club,” which features an image of Harpo swinging on the neon pendulum of the animated Gruen watch sign, a still from the 1950 film Love Happy. I still hold with my unprovable claim that the majority of first-run movies made between 1920 and 1950 are set in New York City, and that more than half of them open with a shot of Times Square at night.

The 1911 club refers to some 26 centenary celebrities who were all packed into a Times Square night spot called the Royal Roost on December 31, 1948 watching Charlie Parker and his All Stars. The challenge for me was to do cameos of everyone, all age 37 that night, from Big Joe Turner and Hank Greenberg to Roy Rogers and Gypsy Rose Lee. The column ends at the stroke of midnight with Charlie Parker shouting “If music be the food of love, play on!” while Mahalia Jackson leads everyone singing “Auld Lang Syne.” more

Philadelphia Orchestra Concertmaster David Kim will perform Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor by Max Bruch with the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey (YOCJ) on Sunday, January 20, at 2:30 p.m. in Kendall Hall at The College of New Jersey.

Kim’s performance is the featured event of the annual YOCJ winter concerts. The afternoon concert will also include YOCJ’s Saxophone Choir, which will perform Gran Partita, commissioned by YOCJ and written by noted composer David Noon. A later concert, at 7:30 p.m., will include the String Preparatory Orchestra, Pro Arte Orchestra, and Wind Symphony. All tickets are good for both concerts. more

“NO. 48”: This screenprint by Robert Rauschenberg is part of “Surface Series from Currents,” which will be on view in the exhibition “Time Capsule 1970: Rauschenberg’s Currents,” running January 19 through February 10 at the Princeton University Art Museum.

In early 1970, groundbreaking American artist Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008) collaged newspaper clippings of the day, photographed the collages, and ultimately silkscreened them to create three seminal print series. Considered Rauschenberg’s first expressly activist work of art, these series powerfully evoke the escalating turbulence and concerns of the times – from violent social unrest and the ongoing war in Vietnam, to economic pessimism and political assassinations. One of these portfolios of 18 large-scale screenprints, Surface Series from Currents, will be shown in its entirety for the first time since 1970, affording a rare opportunity to reevaluate the work of one of the most important American artists of the past half century. more

POWER COUPLE: Amy Adams and Christian Bale star as Lynne and Dick Cheney in “Vice.” The seriocomic film marks the third film collaboration for Adams and Bale, who thoroughly disappears into his role. (Photo courtesy of Annapurna Pictures)

By Kam Williams

Who is the real Dick Cheney (Christian Bale) and how did he become the most powerful vice president in U.S. history? Those are the fundamental questions explored by Vice, an alternately hilarious and sobering biopic written and directed by Adam McKay.

McKay won an Oscar in 2016 for his brilliant adaptation of The Big Short, the Michael Lewis best-seller chronicling the complicated series of events leading to the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Nevertheless, he probably remains better known for having previously directed a string of sophomoric comedies starring Will Ferrell including Anchorman 1 and 2, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys.  more

ICONIC LOOK: “Our jackets are quality throughout. They can all be customized, with a different lining design and color, for each person. It is a very individual, one-of-a-kind look.” Earl F. Bayer, founder of Forever Love Custom Heirloom Jackets and American Icon Jackets, is wearing one of his popular, high quality, motorcycle-style leather jackets.

By Jean Stratton

You don’t have to be an icon to wear an American Icon Jacket!

Indeed, these high quality leather jackets are available to all individuals who appreciate special, customized luxury apparel.

Founded by Earl F. Bayer in 2017 in Neshanic Station, his company Forever Love Custom Heirloom Jackets and American Iconic Jackets focuses on creativity, high standards, and customer satisfaction.

“‘Forever Love’ is our trademark, and these personalized jackets can be heirlooms, filled with love and luxury, passed down to another generation,” he says. more

ROSY OUTLOOK: Princeton University men’s basketball player Jerome Desrosiers posts up a foe in recent action. Sophomore forward Desrosiers has been a spark off the bench as Princeton went into its holiday break with a 6-5 record. The Tigers were slated to return to action by playing at No. 17 Arizona State on December 29 and then hosting Penn on January 5 in the Ivy League opener for both teams. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Justin Feil

Mitch Henderson is expecting a Happy New Year.

His Princeton University men’s basketball team has found an identity, solidified its rotation, is nearly at full strength, and has been progressing consistently all season as it heads into Ivy League play.

“The main thing is we’re hitting our stride and we’re getting into the league,” said Henderson, who is in his eighth season as the Princeton head coach. “We’ve got to be hitting our stride now.” more

BIG TRAIN: Princeton High boys’ hockey player Aidan Trainor controls the puck in recent action. Junior forward Trainor came up big as PHS defeated Notre Dame 6-4 in its last action before the holiday break. Trainor tallied three goals and two assists in the December 21 contest as the Little Tigers improved to 7-3-1. In upcoming action, PHS will be playing Hun on January 2 at Baker Rink and then facing Steinert on January 4 and Robbinsville on January 5 with those games taking place at the Mercer County Park Rink. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For the Princeton High boys’ hockey team, some defensive heroics helped trigger a scoring outburst as it battled Notre Dame in its last action before the holiday break.

With PHS trailing 2-1 late in the first period, it killed off successive 5-on-3 power plays for the Irish to keep the game tight and bring some momentum into the second period. more

ROCK AND ROLL: Becca Della Rocca displays her freestyle form in a race last winter. The addition of sophomore transfer Della Rocca, a former Princeton High standout, has helped the Hun girls’ swim team get off to a 2-0 start. The Raider swimmers return to action with a meet at the Blair Academy on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

With its roster essentially doubling in size over the last few years, the Hun School swimming program is enjoying new competitive opportunities.

Having been limited to fielding one co-ed team in dual meets in recent years, Hun has been rolling out separate boys’ and girls’ squads this winter.

Raider head coach Joan Nuse sees the increase in numbers as a boon to the program.

 more

STICKING WITH IT: Princeton High girls’ hockey player Victoria Zammit heads up the ice in a game last season. Junior forward and assistant captain Zammit has been a bright spot for PHS as it has started 0-5. Zammit scored all three goals for the Little Tigers in a 9-3 loss at Rye Country Day (N.Y.) on December 20 in their last game before the holiday break. PHS resumes action when it plays at Princeton Day School on January 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Standing in a corner of Hobey Baker Rink after the Princeton High girls’ hockey team fell to Immaculate Heart in recent action, Victoria Zammit’s face was red and she was winded.

The PHS junior forward and assistant captain was all over the ice in the 12-1 loss on December 19, making a number of end-to-end forays up the ice.

“I definitely feel tired, even after the first period. It is a mental game for me to not get frustrated,” said Zammit. more

IN FORM: Stuart Country Day School basketball Bey-Shana Clark puts up a jump shot last week in Stuart’s holiday tourney. Senior star Clark contributed 14 points and 14 rebounds to help Stuart defeat Winslow 41-25 last Thursday in the semifinals of its fifth annual invitational tournament. The Tartans improved to 8-2 with the victory and were slated to face Trenton Catholic in the championship game on December 29. In upcoming action, Stuart will be heading to Florida to play Oxbridge Academy on January 2, Miami Country Day School on January 3, and St. Andrew’s on January 5. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Bey-Shana Clark didn’t waste any time setting the tone as the Stuart Country Day School basketball team hosted Winslow last Thursday in the semifinals of its fifth annual invitational tournament.

The senior forward scored the first two buckets of the contest, helping Stuart jump out to an early 9-0 lead.

“Today we had to really bring it,” said Clark. “They are an aggressive team, they were active. I had to just focus and be zoned in.” more

December 26, 2018

MARCHING FOR OUR LIVES: More than 4,000 demonstrators overflowed Hinds Plaza on a Saturday in March, demanding action on gun control legislation and expressing solidarity with the national March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. The Princeton march was initiated by Dziyana Zubialevich, a senior at Princeton High School.  (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Anne Levin and Donald Gilpin

National politics continued to make its impact felt in Princeton in 2018, but the big stories this year were mostly homegrown.

A school facilities referendum and its tax impact on property owners absorbed the interest of many and threatened to divide the town before it was temporarily resolved in a December 11 vote. more

By Stuart Mitchner

This being my 15th year at Town Topics, and given how often anniversaries set the stage for my columns, the time feels right for a backward look. On this date in 2007, I began with an ode to Christmas and cats: “There are lots of nice moments this time of year, but maybe the nicest is when the cats first notice the tree in the living room. This is their fifth tree, so they seem perhaps a little less bowled over than in previous years, but no less appreciative. Brother and sister tuxedo look at the Fraser fir with big googly Felix the Cat eyes and then they cock their heads toward their benefactors as if to say ‘All for us?’ This is above and beyond the call of duty. Water in the stand, just for them. Nice packages to lie on, just for them. And how thoughtful, to hang all those glittery things on the branches, even though they know by now they aren’t supposed to use them for punching bags — except for the sister, who always has to knock off an ornament or two, in case her human slaves think she’s getting less crazed in her middle age.”

The rest of that column was about Hector Berlioz, whose music we still play when we’re trimming the tree. This year it’s a small, beautifully red-green-blue-and-gold lighted and decorated Eastern white pine that we managed to fit into the stand with a minimum of domestic fuss, not so much as a raised voice, in fact. The downside is that only one cat is still with us, and Nora, who once performed Nijnsky leaps and had a habit of sliding down the banister, is no longer willing to risk so much as a trip down the stairs to see the tree.  more

CLASHING ON RACE: Jordan Boatman and Lisa Banes star in “The Niceties,” at McCarter Theatre January 11-February 10. For tickets, visit www.mccarter.org. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

After sparking countless conversations about race, history, and power in Boston and New York, the world-premiere production of Eleanor Burgess’ The Niceties will run at McCarter Theatre Center from January 11 through February 10.

Directed by Kimberly Senior (Disgraced on Broadway), The Niceties features Lisa Banes and Jordan Boatman as a white professor and a black student involved in a polite clash of perspectives which quickly explodes into an urgent and dangerous debate threatening to ruin both their lives.

After a workshop at the Contemporary American Theater Festival and a developmental production at Portland Stage in 2017 and early 2018 respectively, Eleanor Burgess’ play began to exhibit a cross-cultural impact with the playwright fielding calls and emails from congresspersons, religions leaders, educators, and nonprofit organizations across the country. Now, McCarter audiences can join in the conversation. more

CERAMICS FOR A CAUSE: The Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Visual Arts Club and Hospitality Club teamed up for a fundraiser to benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). With the contribution of about 150 bowls and mugs created by MCCC ceramicists, along with soup and hot chocolate from the Hospitality Club, the project raised more than $500 for TASK. Shown from left are MCCC Visual Arts Club President Anna Kaster, culinary instructor Frank Benowitz, and customer Lorena Abad, a student in the Health Professions Division.

The Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Visual Arts Club and Hospitality Club recently teamed up for a fundraiser to benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). Approximately 20 ceramicists worked throughout the fall to produce close to 150 bowls and mugs in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes. On the day of the fundraiser, culinary students joined in, preparing two kinds of soup (Mulligatawny and butternut squash) to fill the bowls and hot chocolate (made with three types of chocolate) to fill the mugs. more

“ALL THAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND”: A collaborative, multimedia exhibition featuring the work of textile artist Diana Weymar and photographer Nelson Hancock will be on view January 5 through March 16 at the Arts Council of Princeton. A gallery talk and opening reception will take place on January 5 from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Arts Council’s Taplin Gallery.

The Arts Council of Princeton will present “All That You Leave Behind,” a collaborative multi-media exhibition with textile artist Diana Weymar and photographer Nelson Hancock, in the Taplin Gallery January 5 through March 16. All are welcome to the gallery talk on Saturday, January 5, 2-3 p.m., immediately followed by an opening reception from 3 to 5 p.m.  more

STAR-CROSSED LOVERS: Tish Rivers (Kiki Layne) and her fiancé Fonny Hunt (Stephan James) face seemingly unsurmountable obstacles in the coming-of-age story “If Beale Street Could Talk,” adapted from the classic novel by James Baldwin. (Photo courtesy of Annapurna Pictures)

By Kam Williams

In 1974, James Baldwin published If Beale Street Could Talk, a love story set in Harlem about a beleaguered black couple’s pursuit of the elusive American Dream. Many critics consider the heartrending novel Baldwin’s best work, perhaps because of the way in which it humanizes an array of African American characters ordinarily marginalized and relegated to the shadows of society. more

TOUGH LOVE: Princeton University quarterback John Lovett heads upfield in a game this fall. Playing through a broken left wrist, senior star Lovett triggered the offense as Princeton went 10-0 overall and 7-0 Ivy League, the program’s first perfect campaign since 1964. Lovett was awarded the 2018 Bushnell Cup as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year after passing for 1,833 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushing for 894 yards and 13 touchdowns. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the course of 2018, the national sporting scene saw some breakthrough championships while other franchises solidified their status as perennial title contenders. In the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles won their first Super Bowl, rewarding their long-suffering fans. On the ice, the Washington Capitals came through with their first-ever Stanley Cup, bringing a rare unity to the nation’s capital. Long past any curse, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, earning their fourth title in the last 14 years. Out west, the incomparable Golden State Warriors won their second straight NBA crown and third in the last four years.

On the local scene, the Princeton University men’s hockey team experienced a breakthrough of its own, capping an extended rebuilding process by winning the ECACH tournament for the first time since 2008. The Princeton women’s basketball team regained the Ivy crown, winning the league’s postseason tournament for the first time as it earned its sixth title in the last nine seasons. The Tiger men’s track team won its fourth consecutive indoor Ivy League Heptagonal Championship and 21st overall indoor title. more

EYE OF THE TIGER: Princeton University wrestler Patrick Brucki eyes an opponent. Sophomore star Brucki is currently ranked fourth in the nation at 197 pounds and is looking forward to competing in the prestigious Midlands Championships from December 29-30 in Chicago. (Photo by Beverly Schaefer, provided courtesy of Princeton’s Office of Athletic Communications)

By Justin Feil

Patrick Brucki has taken on a new motto this year, one that dates back almost exactly 500 years.

Burn the ships.

In 1519, Hernan Cortes is said to have ordered his men to burn their ships upon arriving in Veracruz, Mexico, to conquer the Aztec Empire. It was a declaration by the Spanish conquistador that there would be no turning back, and Brucki is approaching his second season of wrestling at Princeton University the same way.

“If you’re going to do something, just put everything into it and eliminate all odds of failure because if you’re not committed to it, you’re not going to do it,” said sophomore Brucki, a native of Orland Park, Ill., who competes at 197 pounds.

“This year, it’s pretty much if something is there, I’m going to take it. If an opportunity presents itself, I’m going to jump on it. If I don’t that’s my fault. I’m trying to eliminate the hesitation, eliminate the timidness, enjoy the moment, and our coaching staff is so good at teaching us how to have fun out there and enjoy what we’re doing. I’m really happy with the transition I’ve had from last year to this in terms of being more open and having a more free mindset and wrestling style.” more

DIGGING IN: Princeton Day School boys’ basketball player David ”Diggy” Coit heads up court in recent action. Last Wednesday, senior guard Coit scored 23 points to help PDS defeat Pennington 61-50 and post its fourth straight victory. The Panthers, now 6-3, play in the Monroe High tournament on December 27 and 29.  (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

When the Princeton Day School boys’ basketball team fell to George School earlier this month, it was time for some soul-searching.

“After that loss up at George, we rededicated ourselves to playing PDS ball,” said Panther first-year head coach Doug Davis, noting that the 53-51 setback on December 8 was his squad’s second defeat to George this season.

“It is sticking with and trusting our offensive and defensive schemes and having a little more buy-in from guys.” more

JACKED UP: Princeton High boys’ basketball player Jay Jackson puts up a shot in recent action. Last Thursday, junior forward Jackson scored 17 points to help PHS defeat Robbinsville 62-48. PHS, who improved to 1-2 with the victory, is next in action when it plays in the Kearny High tournament from December 27-28. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Having lost its first two games of the season by narrow margins, the Princeton High boys’ basketball team wasn’t about to take it easy after building a 31-15 halftime lead against visiting Robbinsville last Thursday evening.

“At halftime, we had a conversation saying that we need more energy, we need to play together,” said PHS junior forward Jay Jackson.

Scoring just two points in the first half, Jackson was determined to bring more energy after intermission. “I thought I had to pick it up a notch and put more effort into it,” said Jackson. more

December 19, 2018

This Great Blue Heron was spotted at Lake Carnegie, one of Princeton’s most open and natural spaces and home to a variety of wildlife. Nature enthusiasts share their favorite area open spaces in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

By Anne Levin

Princeton is the latest location for a research facility to be opened by media giant Google. On Tuesday afternoon, Princeton University and Google announced the creation of a new artificial intelligence lab, to be led by two computer science professors and be based in offices at 1 Palmer Square.

According to information from the University, the lab will start with a small number of faculty members, graduate and undergraduate researchers, recent graduates, and software engineers. Professors Elad Hazan and Yoram Singer, who will split their time working for Google and the University, have been collaborating with Google for several years.

The work in the lab will focus on a discipline within artificial intelligence known as machine learning, in which computers learn from existing information and develop the ability to draw conclusions and make decisions in new situations that were not in the original data, according to the University’s website. Examples include speech recognition systems and self-driving cars that process complex visual cues. The work will build on recent advances by Hazan, Singer, and colleagues in optimization methods for machine learning to improve their speed and accuracy while reducing the required computing power. more

By Donald Gilpin

With the last absentee and provisional ballots counted, the Mercer County Clerk’s Office yesterday declared the December 11 Princeton Public Schools (PPS) $26.9 million facilities bond referendum vote official, with a final updated tally of 2,262 (57.1 percent) in favor and 1,671 (42.49 percent) opposed.

In a message sent out to the community last week, PPS Superintendent Steve Cochrane stated that the referendum would be supporting “a variety of critical upgrades” in the schools. “Consistent with the goals of our strategic plan, the projects funded by the referendum will help to ensure safe, secure, and healthy learning environments for all of our students and staff,” he said.

From an original proposal of almost $130 million scaled down in response to significant community concern over the bond’s tax impact, the approved project will include safety, security, and HVAC upgrades in all the schools and the creation of four additional classrooms at Princeton High School (PHS), along with a new dining center on the main floor, increased space for athletics, and improved space for counseling.  more

By Donald Gilpin

At the end of last month, the Trump administration released the federal government’s 1,656-page climate report, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, warning of dire consequences that could occur from climate change.

Princeton University climate experts Michael Oppenheimer, professor of geosciences and international affairs and the Princeton Environmental Institute, and Denise Mauzerall, professor of civil and environmental engineering and public and international affairs, agreed with most of the report’s findings. President Trump did not.

“The Obama administration took climate change seriously and implemented a variety of policies that put the United States on a path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025,” said Mauzerall. “President Trump is in the process of rolling back all of these regulations and encouraging the U.S. and the world to use more coal. He has indicated that he does not believe the report and dismisses the existence of human-caused climate change entirely.” more