August 7, 2019

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 princetonsummertheater.org 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 www.arballet.org 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

GOLDEN MOMENT: Lior Levy displays the gold medal he earned for helping the U.S. open men’s basketball team win the title contest at the 14th Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City last month. The former Princeton High and Franklin & Marshall standout emerged as a key frontcourt reserve for the squad.

By Bill Alden

After wrapping up his college basketball career for Franklin & Marshall in 2017, Lior Levy headed to New York City to work in the Teach for America program.

The former Princeton High standout immersed himself in his day job, teaching at Herbert Lehman High in the Bronx with little time for hoops.

But earlier his year, Levy was motivated to start spending more time in the gym as he was chosen to play for the U.S. men’s open basketball team at the 14th Pan American Maccabi Games in Mexico City this July. more

HIGH HOPES: Wesley Leggett flies high to boot the ball last fall in his senior campaign for the Princeton Day School boys’ soccer team. Leggett, who led the area with 22 goals in 2018, will be starting his college career next week when he hits the field for preseason practice with the University of Connecticut men’s soccer team. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Over the years, the University of Connecticut has developed into an athletic powerhouse, highlighted by the women’s basketball program with its record 11 NCAA titles and the men’s hoops winning four national crowns of its own.

Several Husky athletes have gone on to star in the pro ranks, including Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi of the WNBA, Ray Allen and Kemba Walker in the NBA, along with George Springer of the Houston Astros and Byron Jones of the Dallas Cowboys.

Next week, Wesley Leggett will aim to start a new chapter in the school’s storied sports legacy, hitting the field for preseason training in his freshman season on the UConn men’s soccer team. more

BITTERSWEET: Zoe Bitterman displays her breaststroke form in a race earlier this summer for the Community Park Bluefish swim team. Bitterman starred at the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) championship meet in July, earning PASDA MVP honors for the 10-and-under girls. The Bluefish won their fifth straight Division 1 crown at the meet, piling up 3,649 points with Lawrenceville Swim Association well behind in second with 2.159.50. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

Boasting a throng of 220 athletes, the Community Park Bluefish swim team continued its dominance of the Princeton-Area Swimming and Diving Association (PASDA) this summer.

Competing at the PASDA championship meet in late July at the West Windsor Waterworks, the Bluefish cruised to their fifth straight Division 1 team title, piling up 3,649 points with Lawrenceville Swim Association well behind in second with 2.159.50. That victory culminated a 2019 campaign that saw the Bluefish go undefeated in dual meet competition for a fifth straight season. more

July 31, 2019

It was a lovely evening last Thursday for Dueling Piano Night on the Green, which featured two performers leading all-request sing-alongs of popular hits. The event is also scheduled for August 1 and 8. Participants share their favorite sing-along songs in today’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo by Erica M. Cardenas)

By Donald Gilpin

A community tribute for Laura Mitnaul Wooten, hosted by the Wooten family, on Saturday, August 3 at 10 a.m. at the Arts Council of Princeton Paul Robeson Center will launch this year’s week-long Joint Effort Princeton Witherspoon-Jackson Safe Streets Program.

Wooten, who died at age 98 in March of this year, was the longest serving — 79 consecutive years — election poll worker in the United States.

Saturday’s event will include a Community Salute Brunch at 10 a.m., followed by a Tribute to Laura Wooten Recognition Program at 11:30 a.m. celebrating her life through a historical display of videos, pictures, proclamations, articles, awards, personal stories, and other memorabilia and recognizing her service to the local, state, and national efforts to encourage citizens to vote.

Joint Effort Safe Streets has also announced the panel for its Tuesday, August 6 critical issues discussion on the future of Princeton. The community dialogue taking place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. will feature an introduction and perspective on the future of Princeton by Princeton Future Chairperson and Princeton Design Guild Architect Kevin Wilkes, followed by a response panel discussion. more

By Anne Levin

Princeton Council is looking into a replacement for the Curbside Organics Program that was suspended in February. At a meeting July 22, Municipal Administrator Marc Dashield outlined a possible public/private partnership that would have the town doing the hauling, and a private contractor processing the material. Council members indicated they are interested in pursuing the possibility.

“There is a unique opportunity we have,” Dashield said. “We have been in discussions with MetLife Stadium, and they have a digester they are not using anymore, and they are willing to donate it.”

Dashield said it would cost the town about $20,000 to repair dents and rust in the digester, and to move it to the local area. Representatives of the town visited the stadium to inspect the digester, and have been told by the manufacturer that it is otherwise in good shape. more

WHO DECIDES?: Veronica Olivares Weber, a former resident of the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood, spoke to the three panelists — (from left) Elizabeth Kim of the Historic Preservation Commission, Leighton Newlin of the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association, and Shirley Satterfield of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society — at Saturday’s discussion of public art in the Witherspoon-Jackson Historic District. (Photo by Donald Gilpin)

By Donald Gilpin

A diverse gathering of about 70 met at the First Baptist Church of Princeton on John Street, Saturday morning, July 27, to grapple with the question of public art in general, and, more specifically, public art in the Witherspoon-Jackson (W-J) Historic District.

Sponsored by the Witherspoon-Jackson Neighborhood Association (WJNA) in response to a mural project proposed by the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP), the meeting was not to discuss the ACP plan and “NOT to come to a decision but to begin a conversation and dialogue among the people who live in the neighborhood,” as the WJNA invitation flier noted.

“We are backing up the process and starting it all over again where we believe it should have begun in the first place, to get input from the community before it went anywhere else,” WJNA Chairman Leighton Newlin told the gathering.  more

GREEN OVALS: The Historical Society of Princeton is introducing a digital tour and hosting a talk on “green oval buildings,” which feature plaques signifying that they are among Princeton’s oldest remaining structures.

By Anne Levin

Look closely at some of Princeton’s oldest buildings, and you will notice a small green oval plaque tacked discreetly onto the facades. Installed 43 years ago as part of the Historical Society of Princeton’s (HSP) celebration of the country’s Bicentennial, they signify structures of 18th-century vintage.

There is a plaque on The Barracks, at 32 Edgehill Street. The Stony Brook Meeting House on Quaker Road has one. So do Castle Howard at 30 Castle Howard Court, the Old Stone House at 487 Stockton Street, and the Maclean House on the Princeton University campus. There is even a green oval on PJ’s Pancake House at 154 Nassau Street.

Yet few people, even the most devoted history buffs, are aware of these markers. With that in mind, the HSP has introduced a new digital tour of the identified buildings on its mobile app. The tour was designed by Abbie Minard, a rising senior at Princeton University and an intern at the HSP for the past nine weeks. more

By Anne Levin

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) will become a Founding Resident Company of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC) this fall. The 23-story, mixed-use project in New Brunswick’s downtown will contain two proscenium-style theaters and additional rehearsal space for the ballet company, including studios for its DANCE POWER program and an expanded New Brunswick presence for Princeton Ballet School (the school will maintain its Princeton Shopping Center and Cranbury studio locations).

The ballet company also announced this week that longtime artistic director Douglas Martin “will be pursuing other opportunities,” and a national search is underway for a new artistic director. Martin has been in the position since 2010. He was a leading dancer with the company from 1993 until becoming artistic director. “ARB thanks Mr. Martin for his longtime service and wishes him all the best on his future endeavors,” a press release reads.

During ARB’s search for a new artistic director, Executive Director Julie Diana Hench will assume artistic responsibilities “and has assembled a strong leadership team to work directly with the company,” the release reads. Hench was a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet before serving for two years as executive director of Juneau Dance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. She came to ARB in 2017. more

By Donald Gilpin

Former School Board Member Dafna Kendal will join incumbents Debbie Bronfeld and Greg Stankiewicz and new candidate Susan Kanter on the ballot in the November 5 election for three spots on the ten-member Princeton Public Schools Board of Education (BOE).

According to the Mercer County Clerk’s Office, at the Monday, July 29 4 p.m. filing deadline, there were just four candidates for the three positions with three-year terms on the Princeton BOE. Bill Hare, whose term ends on December 31, 2019, will not be running for re-election.

Kendal, a lawyer with a son at Princeton High School (PHS) and a daughter at John Witherspoon Middle School, served on the BOE from 2016 through 2018, chairing three different committees and filling the post of vice president for part of her tenure. She was defeated in a close election last fall, as two newcomers, Brian McDonald and Daniel Dart, along with incumbent Betsy Kalber Baglio, won the three available spots. more

Local Students Earn Medals at Biology Olympiad

A Princeton High School (PHS) student and two West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South (WWPHSS) students were among the medal winners at the 17th Annual USA Biology Olympiad National Finals held at UC San Diego June 22 to July 3.

PHS’ John Yang and WWPHSS’ Richard Chai earned bronze medals, while WWPHSS’ Atharv Oak won a silver medal. Nearly 10,000 students from 498 schools and 45 states participated in the nationwide high school competition sponsored by the Center for Excellence in Education.

PHS and Montgomery Students Participate in ACLU Institute

Riley McMahon from Princeton High School and Sara Ahmed and Sinjit Bhattacharya from Montgomery High School joined almost 1,000 students from every state in the country July 20-26 at the American Civil Liberties Union’s annual Summer Advocacy Institute in Washington, D.C. more

By Stuart Mitchner

Before I put my moviegoer cards on the table, I should say upfront how much I enjoyed Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood. I found more to like and even love in it than in anything I’ve ever seen by the director of that iconic cinematic sugar rush, Pulp Fiction (1994). If you asked me my favorite moments in the films of Wim Wenders or Jim Jarmusch (not to mention, not yet, Sergio Leone), I could go on for an hour and still have more to say. With Tarantino, it usually comes down to the moment when John Travolta and a barefoot Uma Thurman do the Twist in a nightclub dance contest, Thurman’s character having just told Travolta’s character that his gangster boss, her boyfriend, killed a man for massaging her feet. After that, the sugar began losing its kick and I had second thoughts about every single blood-bright bravura scene. But there was no denying the excitement of a new thing under the Hollywood sun. The mere fact that there was so much to talk and argue and bitch about was an accomplishment in itself.

With Tarantino’s latest still fresh in mind, I have no second thoughts worth mentioning about the interplay between Leonardo DiCaprio’s Rick Dalton, a fading TV cowboy, and Brad Pitt’s Cliff Booth, his charismatic stuntman double, driver, man Friday, and drinking buddy. I enjoyed watching the two speeding around LA in Dalton’s white Caddy, and the way Tarantino caught the nighttime, neon-branded, Sunset Strip spirit of the time and place. While DiCaprio gives an Oscar-worthy performance, Pitt supplies old-fashioned star power with his warmly earthy, good-humored alternative to the dour heroes played by Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. He’s a joy to watch at all times, whether he’s smilingly destroying an insufferably arrogant Bruce Lee (Mike Moh), going through the elaborate routine of feeding his pit bull Brandy, or fixing the television aerial on the roof of Rick’s Cielo Drive home, which just happens to be located in the immediate vicinity of the crime-scene-to-be inhabited “in real life” by Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski. more

“A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM”: Performances are underway for Princeton Summer Theater’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Directed by Maeli Goren, the play runs through August 4 at Princeton University’s Hamilton Murray Theater. Nick Bottom (Chamari White-Mink, center) entertains the company with a play within the play. (Photo by Kirsten Traudt)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Princeton Summer Theater is presenting a bold, somewhat abstract reinterpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. William Shakespeare’s comedy (c. 1595), in which fairies disrupt the romantic lives of ancient Athenians, is an apt choice for a season whose mission is to “explore love in all its forms.”

Director Maeli Goren has added an environmental focus, going so far as to begin the play with a speech that does not appear in the script until the second act. Titania, Queen of Fairies, offers this warning: “The spring, the summer, the childing autumn, angry winter change their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world, by their increase, now knows not which is which. And this same progeny of evils comes from our debate, from our dissension.” more

AWARD-WINNER: Actor Denzel Washington is the recipient of Crossroads Theatre Company’s Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee Living Legends Award.

On October 19, actor Denzel Washington will accept Crossroads Theatre Company’s inaugural Ossie Davis & Ruby Dee Living Legends Award, at a fundraiser at the Heidrich Hotel and the State Theatre in New Brunswick.

The gala will feature special performances by Crossroads alumni, as well as receptions. Crossroads, a resident member of the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, is in its fourth decade of being a gateway for black theater. more

ECLECTIC SEASON: Ailey II is among the dance, music, and theater attractions at McCarter Theatre this coming season.

Special Programming Director William W. Lockwood has  announced the lineup for the 2019-2020 Dance, Music, and Signature Series at McCarter Theatre Center. Each series will feature a mix of acclaimed musicians, dance companies, and performing artists, including several returning favorites and McCarter debuts.

“This year’s schedule contains some of my very favorite artists, including some I’ve been trying to book for a long time,” said Lockwood. “McCarter is unique in its reputation as a home for artists from around the world. No other institution in the country presents a full-time Theater Series alongside a full schedule of presented events quite like McCarter does, and no other does it better.” more

“COLOR VISION”: Works by Helen Mazur, above, and Catherine J. Martzloff, below, along with paintings by artist Debbie Pisacreta, will be featured in an exhibit at Small World Café, 254 Nassau Street, August 6 through September 3. A reception is August 17 from 3 to 4:30 p.m.

Small World Café, located at 254 Nassau Street, Princeton, will host a small group show featuring three local New Jersey artists, Catherine J. Martzloff, Helene Mazur, and Debbie Pisacreta. The exhibit will be on view from August 6 through September 3. A reception, which is open to the public, will be held on Saturday, August 17 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. more

BRONX TALE: Former Princeton University standout David Hale fires a pitch in recent action for the New York Yankees. Hale has emerged as a key middle relief pitcher this summer for the Yankees, going 3-0 with a 2.89 ERA in 19 games through July 29. (Photo provided courtesy of the New York Yankees, all rights reserved).

By Justin Feil

David Hale expected there would be some travel in his baseball career, but he could never had imagined the extent of it.

The Princeton University graduate has been around the world for baseball.

“It’s all more than I would have expected,” said Hale, who went on to graduate from Princeton in 2011 after being drafted in 2009.

“It was always a dream. I think that’s why I chose Princeton. I had the ability to go there and they were looking at me. Going to that school gave me a plan. Baseball was a back-up plan. I know how fast baseball can end so I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself to just be a baseball player. I’m glad I got my degree from Princeton. It’s something I hope to use someday.” more