May 28, 2014


The National Pastime was represented at Saturday’s Memorial Day Parade in the form of players from Little League and Girls Softball Association Teams. Memorial Day thoughts are also the subject of this week’s Town Talk. (Photo by Emily Reeves)


May 21, 2014

tease   5-21  mitch forestjpegForest Jewelers, a fixture on Nassau Street and one of the town’s oldest “Mom and Pop” stores, has closed its doors. Hamilton Jewelers, the store’s larger neighbor a few doors down, is said to be purchasing the business, though no one on either end is ready to say for sure.

“We’re talking, but nothing is official yet,” Donna Bouchard, Hamilton’s vice president, said on Monday. “Nothing is ready for confirmation.”

Mitch Forest, owner of Forest Jewelers, said last week that the store had been purchased by “a very reputable buyer, which is all I can say until the papers are signed. It will remain a jewelry store. It may still be called Forest Jewelers, but I’m not sure about that.”

The store at 104 Nassau has been a local institution for 32 years. Mr. Forest is heading to his home in Vancouver, Canada, where he owns a farm. “The commute is getting to be a bit much,” he quipped last week, taking a break at the store where customers were eyeing merchandise that was up to 70 percent off. “But it’s hard to leave. I’ve made so many friends here. We have over 6,000 customers, and I worked with a lot of them for generations.”

In the jewelry business since 1968, Mr. Forest, who is 63, had a store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan before opening up shop in Princeton, first at 20 Nassau Street for 10 years, and later at his current location. Moving from New York, he lived in Ewing Township before settling in Kingston. While living in the area, he became involved in several community activities.

“I served on the library boards, and I was a founder and the first president of the Princeton Borough Merchants. I served in the Kingston Fire Company and worked with the late Barbara Sigmund on sidewalk projects,” he said. “There was also the Princeton Ballet Society, Eden Institute — so many things.”

Mr. Forest worked briefly at LaVake jewelers before he bought his first jewelry store in town from Henry Kalmus. When his current location became available, “I grabbed it,” he said. “Princeton was a different town then. There were a couple of shops that had been here forever, a few of which are still here.”

He approaches the business as a craftsman as well as a businessman. “What set me apart is the fact that I’m an actual jeweler and I sit at the bench,” he said. “I make jewelry. I’m the only hands-on jeweler in town.” Among the distinctions Mr. Forest can claim is the fact that a diamond cutter once came to the store. “It was the only diamond ever cut in Princeton, bought by a local resident,” he said.

Mr. Forest will continue to make and sell jewelry on a limited basis in Vancouver, where the farm he owns off the coast of British Columbia grows organic hops for breweries, as well as “every vegetable you can imagine.” Mr. Forest owes his involvement in the farm to the Princeton Rotary Club, because that is where he met the man, now his father-in-law, who got him started in that business.

Last week, Mr. Forest said he has been touched by the response of those who wish him well. “A lot of people have come in just to say goodbye, which is really nice,” he said. “I’ll miss the friendships.”


On Saturday, May 31 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the Historical Society of Princeton is offering a new walking tour exploring the architecture on campus dating from 1756 to the present. Buildings on this two mile walk include the Georgian style of Nassau Hall, collegiate gothic marvels, and extraordinary contemporary designs, including the Frank Gehry-designed Lewis library, the stadium, the Icahn laboratory, and the brand new Princeton Neuroscience Institute/Psychology facility.

The tour starts at Bainbridge House, 158 Nassau Street. Admission is $8 per person. Tickets can be purchased at the door, or in advance by calling (609) 921-6748 x102 or e-mailing

Space is limited.

The Spirit of Princeton invites the community to the annual Memorial Day Parade and Dedication Ceremony Saturday, May 24. The parade begins on Nassau Street and Princeton Avenue at 10 a.m. and heads toward Princeton Monument Hall (former Borough Hall) for the 11 a.m. dedication ceremony. The parade features veteran’s groups, marching bands, civic and youth groups, all marching to honor those who have died in military service to their country.

The keynote speaker is Elena Duffy from Team Rubicon, an organization that unites skills and experiences of military veterans with those of civilian first responders to deploy emergency response teams in the fastest and most effective manner. Among the nearly three dozen participating groups are: the Princeton Police and Color Guard, American Legion Post 76, Princeton Girl Choir, Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad, MacGregor Pipe Band, Colonial Musketeer Fife & Drum Corps, Burlington City High School Band, Hightstown High School Marching Band, 2nd Pennsylvania Regiment, local Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops, Little League and Girls Softball Association teams, and a Patriotic Bike Brigade for Princeton school youngsters. All current active duty or veteran service men and women throughout Central Jersey are encouraged to walk in the parade.

Small American flags will be distributed for free to children along the parade route. These and other parade expenses are paid by the Spirit of Princeton, a charitable non-profit group of local residents dedicated to bringing the community together through a variety of civic events, such as the Memorial Day Parade, Flag Day Ceremony, Veterans’ Day Ceremony and Independence Day Fireworks. Donations to Spirit of Princeton are encouraged via the organization’s website

The parade and ceremony will take place rain or shine. No political campaigning is allowed, but local officials will be recognized along the parade route. Participating veterans can park at Monument Hall. Shuttle service is available to the parade start. Parade watchers can have breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon at the Princeton Rotary Pancake Breakfast on Palmer Square Green. For more information, call (609) 430-0144 or visit:

The municipality of Princeton has issued an update regarding work at the hospital site on Witherspoon Street. While no demolition work has been authorized because the developer of the site, AvalonBay, has not signed the developer’s agreement, certain pre-demolition work is taking place.

Currently, the Yannuzzi Corporation is removing from the inside of hospital buildings various items that are being prepared for recycling or disposal, including carpeting, non-asbestos ceiling tiles, lighting fixtures, non-asbestos pipe coverings, copper water piping, electrical wiring, and office partitions. This work is anticipated to continue for two to three weeks.

Eisco Environmental is removing the underground fuel storage tanks and anticipates the work to be completed within the next two weeks. To date, no petroleum contamination has been found.

Yannuzzi Corporation has been preparing and constructing containment areas providing for the removal of asbestos from the inside of the hospital buildings. The actual removal of asbestos by double bagging and storing the material in a secure storage area in the hospital started Monday. As the work proceeds, that bagged material will be loaded into special sealed containers and transported offsite for proper disposal. This work is anticipated to continue for approximately 12 weeks.

The site is being monitored on a regular basis by representatives of Whitman Environmental, and the town’s Engineering and Health departments. In addition, representatives of the Department of Labor have visited the site. “Workers have been found to be qualified and properly certified for the work that they are performing and have been observed to follow proper safety protocols,” reads a statement from the municipality. Anyone with questions can contact the Engineering department at (609) 921-7077 or

LAST DAY ON THE JOB: Police Sergeant Mike Cifelli, seen here at his desk in the Princeton Police Department building on Valley Road, will retire after 26 years as a police officer on June 30. Since 20011, Mr. Ciffeli has served as the department’s Press Information Officer. During the winter stormstorm emergencies, he kept the community up to date with the latest information. After years of shift work, he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, including fun activities with his kids.(Photo Courtesy of Princeton Police Department)

LAST DAY ON THE JOB: Police Sergeant Mike Cifelli, seen here at his desk in the Princeton Police Department building on Valley Road, will retire after 26 years as a police officer on June 30. Since 20011, Mr. Ciffeli has served as the department’s Press Information Officer. During the winter stormstorm emergencies, he kept the community up to date with the latest information. After years of shift work, he is looking forward to spending more time with his family, including fun activities with his kids. (Photo Courtesy of Princeton Police Department)

On his last day on the job Friday, May 16, it was business as usual for Police Sergeant Mike Cifelli at his desk in the Princeton Police Department building on Valley Road. Although he doesn’t officially retire until June 30, accrued vacation time will allow the 26-year veteran to take time off so that he can catch up with son Matt, 11, and daughter Connie, 13.

During his years on the force, Mr. Cifelli has done his fair share of shift work and is looking forward to more regular hours. “That’s the nature of the job,” he said. “I missed out on a lot of family gatherings and activities. It’s hard to say I want to make up for lost time, but I’ll give it a try.”

“While we hate to see him leave we are so happy for him and for his family and the time they can now catch up on,” commented Police Chief Nick Sutter. “We have all been enriched by our professional and personal relationships with Mike.”

Mr. Cifelli graduated from the Camden County Police Academy in 1988 and was immediately hired by the Montgomery Police Department. He served in the Patrol Division there until June of 1993 when he was hired by the Princeton Township Police Department. His hire allowed him to follow in the footsteps of his stepfather, Sgt. Jerry Offredo.

Promoted from Patrolman to Corporal in 1998, Mr. Cifelli was made Sergeant in the Patrol Division in April 2007. During this time period he was a Field Training Officer, Firearms Instructor, and Head Firearms Instructor.

Besides being an instructor at Mercer County Police Academy, he has served as President of PBA Local #130 and on the Negotiations Committee as well as on many department committees such as the Honor Guard, Awards Program, and others.

Since 20011, he has been the Princeton Police Department’s Press Information Officer, as part of the Community Services Bureau, where he initiated the Department’s Facebook page, Twitter Account, Nixle program, as well as two popular Tweet-a-Thons.

For his work in this capacity, particularly his skills at relaying information during severe storms to the public, he received a letter of thanks from Mayor Liz Lempert.

“Sgt. Cifelli changed the way our police department communicates with the public,” said Ms. Lempert by email Sunday. “He embraced technology and used it to help the entire department better serve the public, especially by keeping residents up to date on the latest information during emergencies like the snowstorms this past winter. He also started the tradition of the police Tweet-a-thon to shine a light on the every day workings of the department. I’m very sad to see him go, and wish him all the best.”

The official letter from the mayor was one of many thank yous and commendations from both inside and outside of the police department that Mr. Cifelli has received for various incidents, either for his work alone or for his work as a part of a team. He has received two Meritorious Service Awards.

“Mike really helped us pioneer through the development of the electronic/social media communications,” said Princeton Administrator Robert Bruschi. “He had Princeton involved in this early on and has set a very high bar for us to continue to reach for. He is a genuine nice guy who cares about the community and the organization.”

Introducing social media to the department is something of which he is proud. He’s also quite surprised at how the social media effort has taken off. “It’s become much bigger than any of us appreciated at the time,” he said, adding that it began as a way of putting the department’s best foot forward. “And it has certainly done that,” said the police sergeant, who described his retirement as “bittersweet.”

“Anytime you look at taking a step as big as this is I think you look at it as bittersweet,” commented Mr. Bruschi. “I think we feel the same way. Mike has been such an asset to the organization that we hate to lose him but you also recognize that the job as a police officer takes a lot of time away from your family. I know he is looking forward to spending time enjoying all of the activities that many of us take for granted.”

“Sgt. Cifelli has served this department well over his career and retires with the satisfaction of a job well done. Many of our current supervisors were trained by Sgt. Cifelli and his legacy will continue,” stated a press release from the department that goes on to say “The Princeton Police Department wishes Sgt. Cifelli the best of health and good fortune in all of his future endeavors.”

On leaving the department, Mr. Cifelli said it felt like the right time. “The department is heading in a new direction now and I’m glad to have been a part of that. It’s in good hands with Nick Sutter as chief and they can carry on without me.”

“It has been a fantastic, rewarding career and I’m leaving with memories and friendships that will last a lifetime.”

As Press Information Officer, he will be replaced by Sergeant Steven Riccitello.

Police Commissioner Heather Howard said: “From my perspective, Sgt. Cifelli’s accomplishments in leading the police department’s efforts to increase communications with the community through social media have set a high standard for us to meet moving forward. We are going to miss him.”

As for Mr. Cifelli, he’s is already looking ahead to summer. “We usually have a family vacation together and this summer will be extra special.” Matt and Connie have much to look forward to.


U.S. News and World Report ranks Princeton High School (PHS) among the top 10 Best High Schools of New Jersey for 2014.

PHS earned Gold Medal status in the media report Best High Schools of 2014, coming in at number 10 of 398 high schools in the state. Nationally, PHS is ranked at number 216 in the list of more than 19,400 public high schools in 50 states and the District of Columbia.

President of the Princeton Public Schools Board of Education Tim Quinn said: “My board colleagues and I congratulate all PHS students, teachers and staff for this achievement. I think it’s significant that PHS was one of only three open enrollment high schools in the state included in this [top 10] ranking.”

The top ranked New Jersey schools are: 1: Biotechnology High School in Freehold; 2: High Technology High School in Lincroft; 3: Dr. Ronald E. McNair Academic High School in Jersey City; 4: Middlesex County Academy in Edison; 5; Bergen County Technical High School, Teterboro; 6: Academy of Allied Health and Science, in Neptune; 7: Ridge High School in Basking Ridge; 8: Union County Magnet High School in Scotch Plains; 9: Chatham High School in Chatham; and 10: Princeton High School.

West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South in Princeton Junction ranks 14th in the state; Montgomery Township’s Montgomery High School is 16th; and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North is 20th.

While also pleased with the report, PHS Principal Gary Snyder was quick to point out that rankings are by no means the whole story when it comes to education. “We are honored to be recognized in the publication and yet are not guided by rankings since the data shows only a narrow piece of the overall picture,” he commented by email Monday.

Mr. Snyder’s tempered response was echoed by Mr. Quinn. “While the entire community can be rightly proud of such an honor, the Board knows that many special things happen every day at PHS that can’t be ranked or measured.”

The school board president went on to say: “For me personally, if a poll or ranking or school performance report contains information the staff can use as part of our district’s culture of continuous improvement; if it uses criteria that are aligned with our mission and goals and takes into account the diversity of the learning community at the high schoolСreally, in all our schools С then it is useful, no matter where we’re ranked.”

“PHS students are recognized nationally for their achievement in the arts, athletics, activities, and service, in addition to their academic achievements. We also strive for continual improvement as a school and seek ways to support every student in his/her quest for knowledge and pursuit of their passion, while maintaining a proper balance in regards to student wellness,” said Mr. Snyder.

Best STEM Schools

PHS came in at number 91 in the list of the 250 high schools across the nation that are listed as the best in terms of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The STEM ranking is based on a measure of student participation and performance on math and science AP exams in the top 500 public schools.

Gold Status

PHS is one of 25 gold medal winners in the state, which also has 19 with silver medals and 32 with bronze medals. Princeton’s Gold Medal status is determined by the college-readiness index, with only 500 schools nationwide achieving gold status.

With a student/teacher ratio of 12/1, near the average for the state, PHS scored above average for college readiness, at 62.6 percent, and above average for math proficiency and language proficiency, with a score of 3.6 for each out of a possible 4.0.

“We are pleased that the ranking recognizes both high achievement and equity,” stated Superintendent Stephen Cochrane, “and we congratulate our staff and students for their continued commitment to excellence.”


To produce its Best High Schools 2014 report, U.S. News & World Report teamed up with the Washington, D.C.-based American Institutes of Research. One of the key principles is that a high school must serve all of its students well, not just those who are college bound, and that it must be able to produce measurable academic outcomes to show that the school is successfully educating its student body across a range of performance indicators.

U.S. News’s methodology for determining the overall rankings is based on three factors:

1. students’ reading and math results from the state standardized tests;

2. the scores of minority and low-income students as compared with the average for similar students in the state; and

3. the “college-readiness” index, which is based on the percentage of seniors who took and passed Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

The methodology used in the 2014 Best High Schools rankings was unchanged from the 2013 edition.

This year’s ranking is good news. Last year, the school was not listed at all by U.S. News & World Report, although last year’s Washington Post report placed it at number six in its list of New Jersey’s “most challenging high schools.”

In 2012, PHS had made US News &World Report’s top 10 list and ranked 196th in the nation.

“Princeton High School is a great place of learning for our students,” said Mr. Snyder. “With a talented faculty, challenging curriculum, varied course offerings, and supportive community, our diverse student body is able to thrive in one of the top open enrollment public high schools.”

In a similar report of Best Colleges and National Universities 2014, Princeton University ranked number one.

To view the complete rankings, visit:


The Mercer County Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program’s announcement that it would close its Princeton office as of May 16 was a wake-up call of sorts for members of the town’s government and municipal staff. The office, which is sponsored by the Children’s Home Society of New Jersey, provides checks for food, nutrition education, and breastfeeding support to those who qualify, on the third Friday of every month at Witherspoon Hall.

Bob Hary, the town’s interim health officer until the appointment of Jeffrey Grosser last March, had been meeting with the Children’s Home Society because of a decrease in the number of clients from about 600 a few years ago to a more recent number of about 200. “The question was whether there was still a need,” said Elisa Neira, Princeton’s Human Services Director. “Our belief was that there is. But I don’t know how much promotion the program had been getting in recent years. With consolidation and other changes, it kind of fell through the cracks.”

Mr. Hary was able to negotiate a reprieve for the program, and Ms. Neira and Mr. Grosser have come up with a revised plan to keep it alive and make residents aware that it exists. “They sent out over 1,000 flyers,” said Princeton Councilwoman Heather Howard, who is the governing body’s liaison to the Board of Health and the Human Services Commission, last week. “Health department inspectors were handing the flyers out at restaurants to employees, at the Y, at nursery schools, and other places. The good news is that they’re full for this week. But they need to maintain it. It is a reminder that there’s a significant need in our community.”

A driving rain last Friday kept some clients away during the morning hours. Many of them walk to the Witherspoon Hall municipal building with their children in tow. But by the afternoon sessions, attendance was up. “We had about 40 appointments for the day,” said Ms. Neira. “We’re serving about 150 families.”

The program used to operate out of the Henry Pannell Center on Witherspoon Street, in the neighborhood where many of the eligible clients, some of whom are undocumented, reside. Moving the monthly service to the municipal building may have something to do with the decrease in numbers. “It’s further away from where they live. And people who are undocumented might not feel comfortable taking part in a program like this,” Ms. Neira said. “So we’ve been doing quite a lot of work with that. Mayor Lempert did a public service announcement that will air on TV 30 sometime this week.”

In addition to providing clients with checks for free nutritious foods, as well as education and support, WIC makes referrals to other social service agencies and healthcare providers for pregnant and postpartum women, as well as children up to the age of five. People are often surprised to learn that this type of need exists in Princeton.

“New Jersey is unique in that it contains areas of both extraordinary wealth and extreme poverty,” Kelly Mannherz, the program’s administrator, wrote in an email. “Hunger is everywhere, even in communities you may not suspect like Princeton. The Mercer WIC Program of The Children’s Home Society of New Jersey is here to make sure that no child goes to bed hungry.”

Ms. Howard, who was formerly Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, ran the WIC programs across the state. “I saw that there is a significant vulnerable population,” she said. “For people in Princeton, this is a resource. They would otherwise have to travel to Trenton for these services, and that isn’t possible for many of them.”


An underage college student accompanies his friend to a liquor store where the slightly older friend, who is of legal drinking age, buys a case of beer. The pair are stopped, on the way out, by a police officer checking to see if they are old enough to be making the purchase. Though he is only carrying the case of beer and is not the person who made the purchase, the hapless underage student is taken into custody. And the unfortunate incident ends up on his permanent record.

It is situations like these that Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert and leaders of other municipalities addressed last week at a rally at Hinds Plaza, in support of The New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act. The bill, expected to be voted on next month, would ask employers to sensitively evaluate job applicants who must check the box indicating they have a criminal record. The seriousness of the infringement, and how many years it has been since it occurred, would be taken into account. And if a serious crime was committed, the bill asks employers to consider whether the applicant has proven to be rehabilitated.

“It is in the interest of Princeton residents and all residents of New Jersey that those with non-violent criminal records are eventually able to find gainful employment in the mainstream economy,” said Mayor Lempert, who delivered a speech. “In fact, it’s not surprising that having a job significantly reduces the risk of recidivism — lowering the crime rate and enhancing public safety for everyone’s benefit.”

Under the Opportunity to Compete Act, criminal background checks are delayed until later in the hiring process. The bill does not apply to violent crimes including sex offenses, and it does not prevent employers from conducting background checks. Nor does it force an employer to hire anyone with a criminal record or hire an applicant deemed unsuitable or unqualified.

Some 65 million adults in the United States have a criminal record, Ms. Lempert said, the highest level in this country’s history. “This is largely because of increased enforcement of non-violent drug offenses,” she said. “As a result, we spend an incredible amount of money incarcerating people for non-violent crimes and then creating a system where once they’ve served their time, it’s nearly impossible for them to find a job.

“On top of that, the vast majority of people with criminal records, even of those convicted, have never spent a day in prison. Yet in some ways we are giving them a life sentence of never getting a fair shake at a job. We have to ask ourselves — is this system actually making us any safer?”

Laws similar to the proposed bill have been adopted by 12 states. The bill is sponsored by Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. It is “not about handouts or giveaways, but rather responsibility,” Ms. Cunningham has said. “The text of the legislation is summed up in a phrase: competing, win or lose, on your own merits.”


Celebratory chest bump... l-r #23 and #27

Princeton High boys’ lacrosse players Matt Purdy, left, and Matt Corrado celebrate after a goal in PHS’s 7-3 win over Hopewell Valley in the Mercer County Tournament semifinals on May 13. The Little Tigers went on to edge Allentown 11-10 in overtime in the MCT title game on Thursday as they earned their second straight county crown. For more details on the MCT championship run, see page 31.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)


May 15, 2014

One of Princeton’s oldest “Mom and Pop” stores is closing its doors next week. Forest Jewelers, a Nassau Street institution for 32 years, will sell its last bauble on Tuesday before owner Mitch Forest heads to his home in Vancouver, Canada, where he owns a farm. The store has been purchased by as-yet-unannounced buyer and will reopen in the same location, possibly with a new name.

“The commute is getting to be a bit much,” he said Wednesday, taking a break at the store where customers were eyeing merchandise that is up to 70 percent off. “But it’s hard to leave. I’ve made so many friends here. We have over 6,000 customers, and I worked with a lot of them for generations.”

In the jewelry business since 1968, Mr. Forest, who is 63, had a store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan before opening up shop in Princeton, first at 20 Nassau Street for 10 years, and later at his current location at 104 Nassau Street. Moving from New York, he lived in Ewing Township before settling in Kingston. While living in the area, he became involved in several community activities.

“I served on the library boards, and I was a founder and the first president of the Princeton Borough Merchants. I served in the Kingston Fire Company and worked with the late Barbara Sigmund on sidewalk projects,” he said. “There was also the Princeton Ballet Society, Eden Institute – so many things.”

Mr. Forest worked briefly at LaVake jewelers before he bought his first jewelry store in town from Henry Kalmus. When his current location became available, “I grabbed it,” he said. “Princeton was a different town then.There were a couple of shops that had been here forever, a few of which are still here.”

He approaches the business as a craftsman as well as a businessman. “What set me apart is the fact that I’m an actual jeweler and I sit at the bench,” he said. “I make jewelry. I’m the only hands-on jeweler in town.” Among the distinctions Mr. Forest can claim is the fact that a diamond cutter once came to the store. “It was the only diamond ever cut in Princeton, bought by a local resident,” he said.

Forest Jewelers has been purchased by “a very reputable buyer, which is all I can say until the papers are signed,” Mr. Forest said. “It will remain a jewelry store. It may still be called Forest Jewelers, but I’m not sure about that.”

He will continue to make and sell jewelry on a limited basis in Vancouver, where the farm he owns off the coast of British Columbia grows organic hops for breweries, as well as “every vegetable you can imagine.” Mr. Forest owes his involvement in the farm to the Princeton Rotary Club, because that is where he met the man, now his father-in-law, who got him started in that business.

The sale has been successful so far. And Mr. Forest has been touched by the response of those who wish him well. “A lot of people have come in just to say goodbye, which is really nice,” he said. “I’ll miss the friendships.”


May 14, 2014

Photo by Beowulf SheehanTranslator Shelley Frisch is not usually given to demonstrations of emotion. Recent news, however, has her “giddy with excitement.” The Jefferson Road resident has just received news that the German to English translation she has worked on for two years has been awarded this year’s Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize by the Goethe-Institut U.S.A.

The award honors the work of bringing Reiner Stach’s Kafka: Die Jahre der Erkenntnis to English readers as Kafka: The Years of Insight, published by Princeton University Press in 2013.

Add the fact that the same book is now on the list for the PEN Translation Prize, and Ms. Frisch might be excused for being “beyond giddy.”

“This is an amazing prize,” said the translator in an interview this week. Ms. Frisch is no stranger to awards, having already picked up one of the most prestigious, the Modern Language Association’s Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione Prize for a Scholarly Study of Literature, in 2007. She will collect this latest accolade, which comes with a $10,000 prize, from the Consul General of Germany in Chicago at a ceremony in that city in June.

Established in 1996, the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize is awarded each spring for an outstanding literary translation from German into English published in the U.S. the previous year. It is funded by the German government.

A jury of five selected Ms. Frisch’s translation, which is part of a three-volume Kafka biography by Mr. Stach. Having translated the first volume, Kafka: The Decisive Years, in 2005, and the second, Kafka: The Years of Insight, she is now about to embark on the manuscript of the third and final volume Kafka: The Early Years, to be published by Princeton University Press in 2017.

The jury described Mr. Stach’s biography of Kafka as “monumental” not only because of its length and detail but because of its “lively, readable style that will make it the standard account of Kafka’s life for the foreseeable future.”

Ms. Frisch’s translation, said the jury, “makes this marvelous biography not just available, but accessible and inviting for English-speaking readers. Frisch sustains Stach’s voice over hundreds of pages, finding fresh, compelling, and often witty ways to render his German into English. Not only that, but given the lack of a standard complete edition of Kafka’s work in English, Shelley Frisch made the risky and courageous decision to provide her own translations of all the biography’s quotations from Kafka’s works, letters, and diaries, and the results more than justify her choice.”

Comments from jurors such as “together with Reiner Stach, Shelley Frisch has given us a Franz Kafka whom we will read with new insight, wonder, disquiet, and yes — even laughter,” are music to the translator’s ears. “Kafka is all too often regarded as a gloomy writer, but his texts are actually hilarious in spots and even over long stretches, although this hilarity, which thoroughly infuses the original German texts, does not often come through in the standard translations, and I’m pleased that the jury felt I was able to convey his wit,” she said.

As for conveying the author’s voice, the veteran translator said she strove to impart a sense of Mr. Stach’s “soaring prose.” According to his translator, Mr. Stach is “a masterful stylist as well as the finest biographer I have encountered.”

“Like his biographical subject, Kafka, Reiner Stach is a witty writer, and I made a point of inserting word plays and unexpected usages to give English-language readers a feel for his narrative brio …. Sometimes you have to tug at the edges of your target language to make a book come alive in its new linguistic garb,” said Ms. Frisch.

The Art of Translation

Asked about process, Ms. Frisch described an intense method that begins with an extremely rough draft of the entire text created at “warp speed.” With Mr. Stach’s 700 plus pages, this yielded “a multilingual chaos” in German and English with smatterings of Czech “replete with synonyms set apart by slashes, waiting for me to choose between them.”

With a complete rough draft in hand, the translator then began contracting and selecting from “the cumulative options of the turns of phrase I think best suit the text, along with plenty of visits to the library (and the Internet) to verify details, discussions with the author, countless rewrites, and comparisons between the original German text and my English version,” she explained. “When I am as satisfied as I’ll ever be that a near-final draft is in place, the ‘acoustic’ phase begins, a final reading to test out how the sounds of individual words and phrases work in combination.” Here is a translator, who strives for musicality of language and brings an acoustic dimension to her choice of words.

Kafka: The Years of Insight covers the last decade of the writer’s brief life. It was chosen from some 56 titles, including another by Ms. Frisch, whose many translations from the German include biographies of Nietzsche and Einstein. She is currently finishing a dual biography of Marlene Dietrich and Leni Riefenstahl by Karin Wieland and translating short stories by Husch Josten, one of which, “Le Coup de Foudre,” will be published in AGNI Magazine this fall.

Widely published on German literature, film, cabaret, and the political and linguistic dimensions of exile, as well as on translation, Ms. Frisch has received an array of grants, prizes, fellowships, and residencies.

She taught at Columbia University while serving as executive editor of The Germanic Review, then chaired the Haverford/Bryn Mawr Bi-College German Department before turning to translation full-time in the 1990s.

She holds a PhD and MA in Germanic Languages and Literatures from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in German from SUNY Stony Brook.

She has also translated for the New York Review of Books, the New York Times, the Leo Baeck Institute, Schocken Books, Inlingua, literary agencies, literary festivals, and private clients


A forest of large painted and individually collaged prisms is hanging throughout ArtWorks in Trenton in a massive interactive installation that is the centerpiece of a one man show of work by the abstract painter Alan S. Goldstein.

Mr. Goldstein, who was born in the Bronx in 1938, has based much of his life’s work on nature’s inventions and processes. This show relates to the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water and will be on display through June 14.

The forest installation was inspired by trees familiar to the artist from over three decades of walking to his Bucks County studio. “My trees are part of my life and I see them age and die like my friends, like myself,” said the artist. “Slowly they loose twigs, branches, leaves, and bark until they stand like ghosts waiting to fall.”

Having spent most of the 1960s in New York and New Jersey, teaching and exhibiting, the artist moved his home and studio to Bucks County in 1970. He taught drawing and painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and was head of drawing and painting at Bucks County Community College, from which he retired as a professor emeritus in 2003.

After initially studying architecture, Mr. Goldstein became interested in stage design, and subsequently in sculpture and painting. Of his work, he has said: “I seek the core of things, of the universe, of myself.” He has described art as “an activity of the mind and spirit as well as the hand” and his subject as “the nature of nature.”

He works predominantly with paint, ink, and mixed media and has experimented with tar, rope, steel, and fabric.

His work is represented in over 70 private collections in the United States and abroad, and he has exhibited in many prestigious venues.

Over the years his work has been exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Rosenfeld Gallery, Arch Street Gallery, and the LG Tripp Gallery in Philadelphia. In New Jersey, his work has been on display at the Bristol-Myers Squibb Gallery in Lawrenceville, the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, in the Newark Museum, and at Fairleigh Dickenson University.

His work is collected by and has been exhibited at the James A. Michener Art Museum, for which he has often served as guest curator and lecturer. It can also be seen at the Doylestown Health and Wellness Center and frequently at the River Run Gallery in Lambertville.

“Earth, Air, Fire, Water,” works by Alan Goldstein will be at ArtWorks, 19 Everett Alley in Trenton through June 14. For more information, contact or (609) 394-943. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more on the artist, visit:



THE REFLECTION TREE: Community Park School’s art teacher Lara Darpino with students in front of the newly completed mural that now graces one of the school’s interior walls. From left: Yana Medvedva, Athena Boutross, Elizabeth Sullivan-Crowley, Isabelle Clayton, Maryam Mian, Ms. Darpino, Vivian Clayton, and Hamza Mian.(Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

THE REFLECTION TREE: Community Park School’s art teacher Lara Darpino with students in front of the newly completed mural that now graces one of the school’s interior walls. From left: Yana Medvedva, Athena Boutross, Elizabeth Sullivan-Crowley, Isabelle Clayton, Maryam Mian, Ms. Darpino, Vivian Clayton, and Hamza Mian. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

The first time a visitor to Community Park School (CP) on Witherspoon Street sees the new mural there, it might take some time to find the six words embedded among the dynamic arrangement of teal, turquoise, gold, and orange colored tile that surrounds the soft earth-toned palette of pinks and creams that make up the mural’s central tree image. But there they are: Hope, Faith, Love, Dream, Peace, and Smile.

The carefully chosen words add a second dimension to the understanding of the mural’s name, which was voted on by the entire student body of 305 students. Besides presenting an opportunity to ponder six important concepts, the mural presents a more mundane reason for including the word “reflection” in its title.

Among the hundreds of pieces of ceramic tile, granite, marble, and glass are a quantity of mirrors that engage light from windows along the wall on the opposite side of the corridor where the mural is situated. Every child in the school will pass through this corridor and in front of the new mural at some point during their school day.

The mural is the brainchild of the school’s art teacher Lara Darpino and is primarily the work of the school’s fifth graders, each of whom made a clay tile in the shape of a heart or a star, that was fired on site in the kiln the school acquired just last year. “Together with the tiles we made, the mural was made from donated pieces, we didn’t have to buy anything,” said Ms. Darpino, who has been teaching art to Community Park students since January 2012. Before that she was at John Witherspoon Middle School and the middle school in Lawrenceville teaching art to seventh and eighth graders. Having taught for a year at CP from 2009 to 2010, she jumped at the chance to come back when an opening presented itself.

Each student’s crafted tile was embedded into the mural, which took shape over many months during the course of the 2013-2014 school year. “We started around October,” said Ms. Darpino “and finished in time for the annual spring art show that involves the entire school.”

The inspiration came from a class on Gustav Klimt’s “Tree of Life,” which Ms. Darpino presented to the third grade. “It developed from there and took shape as art projects do over time,” said the art teacher. “It’s important to teach art history along with art skills.”

Educated at Rutgers and Kean University, the art teacher has a masters in art education. Her artwork has been exhibited at Chamber’s Walk in Lawrenceville, Terhune Orchards, Gallery 125 in Trenton, and Syracuse University.

Her educational philosophy is to engage student learning at all times by providing and encouraging creative expression in the arts and nurturing the imagination to endorse genuine conceptual thought.

When it came to choosing a name for the mural and its brightly colored swirling image that evokes both a tree and a force of nature, there were only two contenders, “The CP Tree” and “The Reflection Tree.” The latter was the clear winner.

Currently Ms. Darpino’s second graders are working on creative portraits of Salvador Dali. Who knows what that might lead to?


Princeton Medicine, the primary and specialty care physician group of Princeton HealthCare System (PHCS), will open an office in June at 281 Witherspoon Street, next door to the former hospital site in Princeton. On the lower level, the office represents an expansion of PHCS facilities in that building, which already houses outpatient phlebotomy services and the Neighborhood HealthCare Information Center.

Sean Naini, DO, board certified in internal medicine, will begin seeing patients at the Princeton office as of Monday, June 9. He will maintain office hours there on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, Dr. Naini will continue to see patients at Princeton Medicine’s office in the Medical Arts Pavilion, 5 Plainsboro Road, Suite 300, Plainsboro, adjacent to University Medical Center of Princeton.

Dr. Naini provides a comprehensive range of primary and preventive care, including treatment of patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Before June 9, call (609) 853-7272 for an appointment. On June 9 or later, call (609) 497-2211. Same day appointments are available.

To find a Princeton Medicine physician near you, call 1-800 FIND A DR (346-3237) or visit

The Princeton area’s first ever student solar celebration, “SolarJam 2014,” will be held on May 17 (rain date May 18) from noon to 2 p.m. at Princeton High School.

Nine area schools are sending teams of students from 3rd-11th grade who have built either solar mini cars or created passive solar projects. The solar mini cars will participate in a race. Participating schools include: The Cambridge School, Hopewell Valley High School, Melvin Kreps Middle School, The Pennington School, Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, Princeton Day School, Princeton Junior School, Riverside School, Stuart School of the Sacred Heart. Some schools are sending multiple teams to the event, which is sponsored by PSEG and organized by OASIS (Organizing Action on Sustainability In Schools), a local non-profit school consortium.

The goals of “SolarJam 2014” are to interest students in alternative energy and to showcase the good work local schools are doing in the area of sustainability. There will be food for sale at the event from The Whole Earth Center and The Bent Spoon, both of whom are donating a portion of their proceeds to OASIS. This is a low waste event, so please bring your own water bottle.

The event is free and open to the public and will be held at either the Princeton High School tennis courts or track. At the corner of Guyot Ave. and Walnut Lane look for parking signs. The public is encouraged to come and support local students. For more information contact Liz Cutler at Princeton Day School,

Investing in higher education is crucial, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber told members of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon last Thursday. Making his first official address to the local business community, Mr. Eisgruber warned that higher education, especially at state and community schools, is in trouble.

“Right now we’re at a moment where our models of higher education are under a lot of stresses, particularly in New Jersey,” he said. “The highest increases in tuition are coming because states are supplying less and less money to every segment of our higher education system and asking those institutions to do more and more with less and less. They are being forced, because there is no other way to do it, to raise tuition to compensate for the money being pulled out from their budgets.”

An impassioned speaker, Mr. Eisgruber was critical of a New York Times story in May 2012 about soaring costs of college education, focusing on a woman who was carrying some $100,000 in debts to Ohio Northern University. “You pick up a newspaper and there are stories written about the cost of college and whether or not the value of college is worth that cost,” he said. “There is general doubt as a result, at least in the news media as you read it, about whether or not this investment that has been so important over the history of our country remains an important investment to make right now.”

But entering the economy without a college degree is not a favorable option. “The overwhelming evidence is that the value of a college degree today is higher than it has ever been,” he said.

Mr. Eisgruber championed the value of state schools and community colleges as well as Ivy League schools such as Princeton University. But allowing himself to “brag a little,” he said Princeton is ranked as one of the most affordable places to attend college because of it’s financial aid program, of which some 60 percent currently take advantage. “Seventy-five percent of our students graduate without debt, and the rest with $5,000 to $6,000 of debt,” he said.

According to the Association of American Universities, he added, 50 percent of students nationally graduate without debt. “The rest have about $26,000 to $27,000 in debt, not $100,000 as reported in the New York Times story.”

Mr. Eisgruber graduated from Princeton in 1983 before going on to the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and the University of Chicago Law School. After teaching at New York University’s School of Law for 11 years, he joined the Princeton faculty in 2001 and was the University’s provost before being named president.

During a question-and-answer session following his talk, Mr. Eisgruber said the University will be expanding at some point in the future. He also expressed hope that the school will be able to accommodate more students. “Given that we are taking fewer qualified students on a percentage basis right now than we have ever taken in our past, if we would take a few more, that would be a better thing for all of the reasons I have described,” he said.


The Unitarian Universalist Congregation (UUCP) of Princeton recently awarded a grant of $2,000 to support workforce development and employment readiness activities at the Crisis Ministry of Mercer County. Carolyn Biondi, the Crisis Ministry’s executive director, said, “We are grateful to the Social Outreach Committee of UUCP for partnering with our organization to work with job trainees as they build a more stable future.”

Harvesting Hope annually prepares some 65 to 70 men and women for re-entry into the work force with on-the-job training, online certification courses in food handling and customer service, and job search guidance and mentoring. License to Succeed provides assistance in restoring driving privileges in order to improve the job qualifications and earning power of program clients.

The Crisis Ministry of Mercer County, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, assists some 5,000 Mercer County households annually through integrated services addressing food insecurity and nutrition education; housing stability and homelessness prevention; and work training and employment readiness. Learn more at

The developer AvalonBay is suing the town of Princeton, Princeton Council, Mayor Liz Lempert, and two municipal staff members over the developer’s agreement for the 280-unit rental complex planned for the former Princeton hospital site. Council’s decision to require additional environmental testing is the focus of the suit, which was filed last week in Superior Court.

“The Mayor and Council’s decision was arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, and should be quickly reversed by the Court,” the suit reads, ”These environmental testing requirements are the product of the imagination of Princeton’s new environmental consultant, [Ira] Whitman, who was retained by the mayor and Council at the end of January 2014 С five months after AvalonBay obtained its site plan approval from the Princeton Planning Board.”

Council voted unanimously to approve the developer’s agreement last month, but with more testing than originally proposed and more than what is required by the State of New Jersey. Mr. Whitman, who was hired after citizens repeatedly expressed concerns over the discovery of a medical waste incinerator once in operation at the site, among other things, recommended more soil testing and sampling of concrete the company plans to crush and re-use.

“It’s disappointing,” Mayor Lempert said Monday when asked about the lawsuit. “We were certainly hoping AvalonBay would recognize we were acting in good faith to try and protect the community and the future residents of the site. I would have liked to have worked this out outside the courtroom.”

Ms. Lempert said that Mr. Whitman was hired to advise the Council on matters beyond their own expertise. “We hired a top environmental consultant and we’re following his recommendations,” she said. “If he is recommending certain things, it’s hard for us, as lay people, to say we don’t need to do them. We feel like we need to go with the recommendations of an expert. People’s safety is in question.”

Bob Bruschi, the town’s administrator, said the critical issue is going to be whether the town is allowed to ask for additional testing under the municipal land use law, adding that the vote to require extra testing falls into “the right thing to do category.”

Municipal attorney Trishka W. Cecil, who said Tuesday she believes AvalonBay attorney Robert Kasuba has requested a case management conference with the judge assigned to the case, echoed Mr. Bruschi’s comment.

“The question is whether the town had the legal authority to request this testing. Or, is that pre-empted by state law? That is AvalonBay’s primary claim, that we exceeded our authority,” she said. “I think it makes sense to address that question first, because if the judge rules in AvalonBay’s favor on that question, then we’re done. If she rules in our favor, it’s different. It makes a lot of sense to ask a judge to address that question first and then get to the rest if we need to.”

AvalonBay has been doing preliminary site work, removing underground storage tanks, doors, lighting, and additional items that are permitted before the company agrees to sign the developer’s agreement. Asbestos remediation has also been taking place (see accompanying story).


Princeton Council adopted the proposed 2014 budget Tuesday night, but not without heated discussion. The issue under debate was whether to include a line item in the budget for an increase in the salaries of the mayor and governing body.

Patrick Simon argued that adding the line item would not be fair since the pay raises С from $7,500 to $10,000 for council members, $7,500 to $12,5000 for council president, and $15,000 to $17,500 for mayor С are not in line with those budgeted for municipal staff. “They represent an ambiguous sign of entitlement on our own behalf and show disrespect to the administration,” Mr. Simon said, adding that he would be in favor of either a pay raise in proportion to the staff, or a raise for future council members.

Council members Lance Liverman and Bernie Miller, both former members of Township Committee, took pay cuts after consolidation when it was established that stipends for the new governing body would be at the lower level employed by Borough Council. Mr. Liverman said he was in favor of the proposed increase because it would make serving on the governing body more appealing to people who are on a more limited budget than those who currently serve. He said he spends about 80 hours a month on municipal matters, which converts into about $6.25 an hour, less than New Jersey’s $8.25 minimum wage.

“Some people I’ve talked to say if the stipend was increased they’d consider running for office,” he said. “It would allow people of lesser means to serve. Please support this adjustment and let’s move on.”

Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller said that while she agreed with much of Mr. Liverman’s comments, “The problem is you didn’t say it when we were making promises. For me, it’s a matter of promises,” she said, referring to the determination to keep salaries at the Borough level.

Ms. Crumiller served on the finance committee with Mr. Miller and Mr. Liverman during the transition to consolidation. On Tuesday, she said, “We had plenty of opportunities to make the arguments he is making now, but no one said anything either privately or publicly. I feel it would be embarrassing to go back on my promise, even though I sympathize with their arguments.”

Mr. Miller commented at the meeting, “Tonight we’re not talking about salaries of elected officials or salaries of the employees or the municipality. We’re talking about a $59 million budget, an increase in one element of the budget. That’s not a tenth of the budget, or a hundredth of the budget. It’s not a thousandth of the budget.” He added that an attempt has been made to politicize the issue that is “undemocratic, ill-advised, and out of place.”

Before the meeting, Mayor Liz Lempert said the issue is “really an uncomfortable conversation to have,” adding, “The easy thing is to leave it the same, and the politically expedient thing is certainly to leave it the same. But I think that’s why there hasn’t been a change to it in 14 years.”

Tax rates stay the same in the $59.2 million budget, with no reduction in services. The total amount is $1.2 million less than last year’s budget.


The rat, as a symbol of union displeasure, made an appearance on Witherspoon Street Friday, May 9, in front of the old hospital building that has been purchased for redevelopment by AvalonBay.

“The rat is here to draw attention to the fact that AvalonBay has hired a subcontractor and started the abatement process,” said Saverio Samarelli of the Laborers’ Eastern Region Organizing Fund, who, together with Franklin Ortega of LiUNA (Laborers International Union of North America) Local 78 was making flyers available at the site.

“We are here to inform the public that the subcontractor hired by AvalonBay is considered substandard because of past violations,” said Mr. Samarelli, who went on to express his doubts about the subcontractor’s workforce: “We aren’t totally confident that all of his workers have the correct qualifications for this work.”

Mr. Samarelli described the hospital site as “the perfect storm of environmental hazards. There’s PCB, mercury, silica, lead, asbestos and medical waste, all of which can be airborne if not done correctly.” [PCB is polychlorinated biphenyl, a synthetic organic chemical compound containing chlorine.]

“And as far as we have observed there is nobody here to check that the work is being done correctly,” added Mr. Ortega.

Under the heading “Improper Asbestos Work is Dangerous,” the Union flyers cite the death of a 23-year-old women from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure. It states: “AvalonBay Communities has hired substandard company Yannuzzi Environmental Services to perform deadly asbestos abatement at 253 Witherspoon Street,” and alleges that company owner John Yannuzzi “was indicted on felony charges of criminal mischief and unlawful disposal of solid waste.”

“Not true,” said Mr. Joe Giannetti, general manager for Yannuzzi Environmental Services, who described the union’s action as an attempt to replace local hires with union members. “We are an open shop and what you have here is a disgruntled union that wants us to hire their members rather than local workers,” he said in a telephone interview Monday. As for the alleged felony charges, he said: “We were charged but there was no indictment.”

Asked about 2008 and 2009 reports by the N.J. Division of Criminal Justice Environmental Crimes Prosecutions stating that Mr. Yanuzzi’s company was charged in 2008 with illegal transportation of solid waste and criminal mischief with respect to a 45-foot box trailer abandoned on a Newark street in 2006, Mr. Giannetti said: “It is only partially correct. To my recollection, there was no 45 foot trailer filled with waste, it was three yards of sandblasting sand.”

“Our company was founded in 1923 and registered in New Jersey in 1957,” said Mr. Giannetti. “We stand by our track record. One violation in all that time.”

In a telephone call Tuesday, municipal engineer Bob Kiser pointed out that building department personnel had been stopping by the former hospital site periodically and that he had been there on Monday afternoon with John Pettenati, Princeton’s chief building code official, as well as land use engineer Jack West and electrical inspector Larry Logan. “The work we saw was satisfactory, the proper safety measures were being employed and materials were being correctly separated.”

Mr Kiser noted that no demolition had started, just the removal of carpeting, ceiling tiles, copper piping, electrical wiring, steel, and aluminum.

Asked about the allegations as stated on the Union flyer regarding AvalonBay subcontractor John Yannuzzi, Mr. Kiser said that he was aware of the past incident referred to and that the company’s record had been looked into via OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and found to be satisfactory. “We saw the information that was provided to us and it appeared to be an isolated incident by a company that is properly licensed and certified.”

As for the company, Mr. Giannetti observed that it was happy to be working in Princeton, where it is also “doing work on the University’s new dorms.”


PDS celebrates their win

Members of the Princeton Day School boys’ lacrosse team celebrate after they edged Rutgers Prep 10-8 last Monday in the state Prep B championship game. It was the program’s first Prep B crown since 1996. For more details on the game, see page 32.(Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)


May 7, 2014

It has taken him four years and nine pairs of SAS walking shoes, but William Helmreich has walked every block of New York’s five boroughs. Having documented his experiences in the Princeton University Press book The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City, Mr. Helmreich will be at the Princeton Public Library tonight, May 7, as part of the “Evenings with Friends” series of talks and dinners.

“New York is really made up of hundreds of different communities,” said Mr. Helmreich, a sociology professor who grew up in a rough section of the city’s Upper West Side. “In each of these neighborhoods, people have a distinct identity that relates to where they live. The way they say ‘on my block’ or ‘in my building’ shows how strongly and locally they identify.”

As part of the courses he teaches at City University of New York and City College of New York, Mr. Helmreich takes students to a different neighborhood once a week. “We walk around for a couple of hours and then go have dinner,” he said. “They have a good time doing it. I happened to meet Peter Dougherty, director of Princeton University Press, and we started talking about this. He asked me for a proposal, and the next thing I knew, I had a book contract.”

Mr. Helmreich has previously published books on such subjects as black militants and Holocaust survivors. When he wrote his proposal for The New York Nobody Knows, he intended to focus on only 20 streets. “But then I discovered I really couldn’t find a justification for claiming they were truly representative of a city made up of 6,000 miles,” he said. “So reluctantly, or not so reluctantly, I decided to walk the whole city.”

On his sojourns, Mr. Helmreich dressed to blend in and talked to countless people from many walks of life. “Nobody refused to talk to me,” he said. “They didn’t realize I was interviewing them.” What he found was that neighborhoods, blocks,  or buildings are really little villages in themselves.

“One woman who owns a boutique on Ninth Street in the East Village complained that like in a small town, everybody on the block knew each other and knew each other’s business,” he said. “They know your car, they know when you have a fight, and you have to say hello to everyone. She didn’t like that. That’s one side of it.”

What makes New York’s little “villages” different from communities across the country is this: “They happen to be placed in the most advanced city in the world,” Mr. Helmreich said. “That’s what makes them special. If I live in the Bronx, I can get on an express bus and be in the financial district in 45 minutes. You can’t do that in Nebraska.”

Mr. Helmreich grew up on West 105th Street. “Our neighborhood was not good,” he said. “I had a fight a day. I had to belong to a gang to protect myself. Most of the people on my block were either dead or in jail.”

It was an illuminating trip across the country in his youth that sparked his interest in sociology. Mr. Helmreich worked as a corn husker, a hog kicker, and an assistant case worker for the welfare department in Los Angeles as part of this adventure. “In order to understand the city, you need to have perspective by seeing other cities, too,” he said. “I got a real slice of life doing this.”

Mr. Helmreich is enthusiastic about his experience with Princeton University Press, which published The New York Nobody Knows last year. “It was the best publishing experience I’ve had,” he said. “The whole staff was amazing. Peter Dougherty and the editor Eric Schwartz were so interested they actually went on a tour with me before the book came out.”

The book is going into its fourth printing. Mr. Helmreich credits its success, in part, to the fact that New York is “an international city, a destination city,” he said. “People simply had not imagined that you could walk a big city the way you do a national forest. When I started talking at bookstores, I would see that most of the people in the audience were under 40. They’re hikers, walking enthusiasts. A lot of people are crazy about the importance of walking.”

Mr. Helmreich figures that in his life, he has walked all of New York about 16 times. “Everything brings back a memory of something that happened to me,” he said. “I have a very good memory, so everywhere I go, I remember something.”

He once wondered aloud, to a colleague, why no one had ever written a book like his before. The colleague said, “Maybe no one was as crazy,” Mr. Helmreich recalled. “So I asked him, is it crazy to run a marathon? Marathons are accepted, but people don’t generally walk like this for exercise. He confused the destination with the journey. For me, the destination is already there.”


Pinot to Picasso

By all accounts this year’s Pinot to Picasso spring art and wine fundraising event at the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) on Friday, April 25, was a great success. The event was held at the Technology Center of Princeton, 330 Carter Road. Shown here, in front of the completed Tombola screen that was prepared and run by, from left, are ACP Board President Cindi Venizelos, Tombola Master of Ceremonies Greg McClatchy, and ACP Founding Director Anne Reeves.


Fresh Air volunteers are sought to help create another successful summer for children from New York City. Each summer, over 4,000 children visit volunteer host families in rural, suburban, and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

Host families share their homes and the pure joys of summertime outside of the city with children from New York City. Families find hosting so rewarding that more than 65 percent of all Fresh Air children are re-invited to visit the same host families year after year.

First-time Fresh Air visitors are six to 12 years old and Fresh Air hosts range from young families to grandparents. “The first thing our Fresh Air child did was run barefoot in the grass. It’s always the little things that seem to be so valuable,” says a Fresh Air host.

The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences to more than 1.8 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. For more information about hosting a Fresh Air child this summer, contact Darlene Plummer at (609) 902-1806 or visit