September 2, 2020

SCHOLARLY APPROACH: Gigi Venizelos tags a runner in a 2019 game during her junior season for the Hun School softball team. While Venizelos didn’t get to compete in her senior year as the season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she did receive a special honor, getting named as a recipient of the Trenton Softball Hall of Fame scholarship award. Star infielder Venizelos is headed to Colgate University, where she will be playing for its Division I softball program. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

For Gigi Venizelos, traveling to Florida every spring for the Hun School softball team’s annual preseason trip proved to be a highlight of her high school career.

“I think what will stand out the most is how much the Quirks [head coach Kathy Quirk and assistant coach Bill Quirk] made the team and the program into a family,” said star shortstop and team co-captain Venizelos.

“Going down to Florida for the week before the season started was a staple in our team growth and becoming a family unit. I would say that is the most important thing of how much of a family we became.”

The jaunt to Florida this March will leave Venizelos with some unpleasant memories, as that is when she and her fellow seniors were called back to New Jersey and the players never saw the field together again as the season was ultimately canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was tough, being the seniors, we were really looking forward to getting to play out our last season with the team,” said Venizelos. more

August 26, 2020

The Princeton Shopping Center hosted an outdoor screening of “Pine Mud,” a new documentary by local filmmaker Jared Flesher, last Thursday evening. The event was also sponsored by the Princeton Environmental Film Festival and Sustainable Princeton. Attendees share their biggest concerns for the environment in this week’s Town Talk on page 6. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Shopping Center)

By Anne Levin

At a virtual meeting Monday night, August 24, Princeton Council voted in favor of an ordinance  amending the definition of an accessory dwelling unit. The vote was unanimous, though Councilman Dwaine Williamson said he was “51 percent in favor, 49 percent opposed.”

The governing body voted after listening to numerous comments from the public. While many expressed support for the amendment, several were opposed.

The amendment goes back to an ordinance that Council adopted in June, allowing that a primary unit and an accessory unit on a property can be owned separately instead of by one owner. Council introduced the amendment at its previous meeting. The Planning Board reviewed it at a special meeting on August 20, and determined that it was consistent with Princeton’s Master Plan, the town’s Planning Director Michael LaPlace told Council.

Some members of the public urged Council to delay voting on the issue, saying it needs more research. Others expressed concerns that it would cause problems with traffic, density, and parking, and would motivate developers to build more multi-unit condominiums. Yina Moore, Kip Cherry, Michael Floyd, Shirley Satterfield, and Joseph Weiss were among those opposed.

Those in favor called the proposed measure “progressive,” saying it would help the “missing middle” class afford to live in Princeton. Homeowners financially unable to remain in Princeton would be able to stay and age in place, they said. It would also help create a more walkable community, they said. more

By Donald Gilpin

Preparations for September and the first day of a new school year are never simple, but the global coronavirus pandemic has brought on what seems like an infinite array of complications and challenges, frustrations and fears, for school officials, teachers, staff, parents, and students.

At its meeting last week the Princeton Public Schools (PPS) Board of Education (BOE) announced a delay in its revised opening plan. Remote instruction will begin for all PPS students on September 14, but in-person learning, a phase-in hybrid program, is now postponed to October 12 for elementary schools and special education programs, and a week later, October 19, for middle and high school students.

PPS Interim Superintendent Barry Galasso, however, noted that two criteria must be fulfilled before in-person instruction can take place in the school buildings. For the first, there must be enough teachers on site to run programs in the classrooms and the schools. In preparations for the originally planned September 14 opening, about 100 staff members requested accommodations, Galasso reported, and there were not enough replacements available to staff the schools. For the second, Installation of new air filtration units in the school buildings must be complete, with the units functioning effectively.

In a telephone conversation Monday, Galasso expressed confidence that HVAC and other building modifications and personal protective equipment would be ready for the October 12 opening.  In addition to a survey of teachers, the administration is discussing plans with teachers individually.

“Over the next couple of weeks, the board will determine what replacements we need to get, what we need in order to be ready to staff our schools for the October 12 phase-in reopening,” Galasso said.  “They will review accommodations and criteria, then grant or not grant accommodations based on the criteria. We’ll have to see how this finally shakes out.” more

SAVE THE POST OFFICE: About 50 demonstrators, all masked and social distancing, gathered outside the Alexander Road Post Office in Carnegie Center at 11 a.m. Saturday to protest attacks on the United States Postal Service, and to defend the postal system that people depend on and that will be counted on to deliver and return vote-by-mail ballots in the upcoming election.(Photo courtesy of Coalition for Peace Action)

By Donald Gilpin

Calling on authorities to “save the post office,” “defend democracy,” and “protect the right to vote,” about 50 demonstrators gathered at the Alexander Road Post Office in Carnegie Center on Saturday morning, August 22, as part of more than 800 nationwide rallies that day.

“Our demand today is that the post office continues to do its job and deliver our ballots quickly to us and then back to our county governments for counting,” said event co-organizer Frank von Hippel, senior research physicist and Princeton University professor emeritus in the Program on Science and Global Security.

In the event co-sponsored by the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action (CFPA), von Hippel joined with Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Princeton University Computer Science Professor Andrew Appel, CFPA board member and Treasurer Mark Pepper, and CFPA Chair Irene Goldman in calling on Congress to protect the postal service from Trump administration attacks, and to act to safeguard the integrity of the mail and the upcoming election, which  during the pandemic will be conducted more than ever before through mail-in ballots.

Speakers also called on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to resign in the wake of slowdowns and service cuts. “These rallies give notice that we are alert to what is happening in our country,” said von Hippel. “They let our elected officials and other people inside our government, including the post office, know that we will support them if they defend our democracy.” more

COMIC RELIEF: Writer Alan Zweibel, shown at right with late comedian Garry Shandling, will talk about his book “Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier” in an online appearance sponsored by the Jewish Center Princeton on August 31.

By Anne Levin

Growing up on Long Island in the 1960s, Alan Zweibel loved to make his sister, Franny, laugh. He also loved to watch The Dick Van Dyke Show on television and fantasize about becoming a comedy writer like Van Dyke’s character, Rob Petrie, when he grew up.

After several stops and starts including an ill-fated attempt to become a law student, and some failed stabs at standup comedy, he landed the comedy-writing job of a lifetime — on the original staff of Saturday Night Live (SNL).

Zweibel will appear in a Zoom event sponsored by The Jewish Center of Princeton on Monday, August 31, at 7:30 p.m. Email info@thejewishcenter.org to RSVP.

Zweibel’s account of those early years working on the television show are only part of what makes his recently released memoir Laugh Lines: My Life Helping Funny People Be Funnier, so appealing. The book touches on events in his life before, during, and after the five years he spent at SNL.

Some of his descriptions of writing jokes for aging Catskills comedians are laugh-out-loud funny. But Zweibel is also frank about his experiences with depression after a low point in his career, and heartfelt in his memories of fellow SNL member Gilda Radner, who was his best friend, and for whom he wrote a book and a play. Radner died of ovarian cancer at 42.

Speaking by phone from his home in Cliffside Park last week, Zweibel said he is continually amazed at readers’ reactions to “The Catskills Comic” chapter in the book. more

By Anne Levin

With no end in sight, COVID-19 has been devastating to the arts. Performances and exhibits have been canceled. Staff at theaters, museums, dance companies, and musical organizations have been laid off or let go. Planning for recovery is uncertain.

Particularly hard hit are small arts and cultural organizations with limited resources. It is this sector that is the focus of the New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund (NJACRF), recently established by a coalition of funders which has already raised more than $1.6 million, including a lead matching gift of $1 million from the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund.

“We’re focusing on organizations that have smaller budgets,” said Jeremy Grunin, NJACRF co-chair and president of the Grunin Foundation, which is based in Toms River. “We’re not funding organizations like NJPAC or the Count Basie Theater or McCarter Theatre. They have endowments, for the most part, and have the wherewithal to survive. We’re looking at those that have some paid staff but are facing that huge downturn. We’re also looking at intermediary organizations that can work with them, and get them money.”

Grunin is the incoming chairman of the Count Basie Theater, in Red Bank. Though the fund won’t be helping the theater, he is well aware of its problems caused by the pandemic. “Being dark since March has put a huge constraint on our resources,” he said. “Putting budgets together is a guessing game at this point. The people we employ have no recourse, not to mention the artists who perform there.”

Arts and culture are significant contributors to the economy. Nonprofit arts organizations generate more than $660 million in economic activity in New Jersey, employ nearly 22,000 workers, and engage more than 8.3 million people who stay in hotels, and eat and shop locally, according to a release from the Princeton Area Community Foundation, which is hosting the new fund. more

By Donald Gilpin

In less than two months at the helm of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund (LALDEF), Lorraine Goodman, interim executive director of the nonprofit organization founded in 2004 to defend the rights of Latin Americans in Mercer County and facilitate their access to health care and education, has found LALDEF’s challenges multiplied by the pandemic.

Pointing out that the Hispanic population has been among the hardest hit by COVID-19, she cited statistics showing that there have been 61 COVID-related deaths per 10,000 people among whites in Mercer County and more than twice as many, 142 COVID-related deaths per 10,000, among Mercer County Hispanics — just one indicator of the alarming inequities.

“If you think about [the rate of deaths from COVID], it’s not surprising,” she said. “The immigrant community — they’re the ones working at the grocery stores. They’re the ones doing home deliveries. They often live with many people in a single dwelling, and yet they’re the ones out there interacting with many people.”

She continued, “They don’t have the option of social distancing or the option of calling in sick. They often don’t have health insurance. They probably did not get government stimulus checks, and they’re not eligible for increased unemployment. These are people who are out there helping everybody else, providing essential services, and we’re treating them horribly. They are our neighbors. We need to do better, to be kinder, more compassionate. We need to pay them and reward them for the work they do to help us.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

My boys and I have to have four heavy beats to the bar and no cheating.

—Count Basie (1904-1984)

Friday, August 21, Count Basie’s birthday, I’m in the kitchen making pesto and listening to the Kid from Red Bank on the Bose Wave player. As the Count and the All-American Rhythm Section perform “How Long Blues,” everything’s in synch, Basie and basil, note by note, leaf by leaf, plucked one at a time, rinsed with a sprinkling of water, tapped dry to the chimes the Count’s right hand is ringing, each note shining and distinct. The way he and his four-heavy-beats-to-the-bar boys play it, it’s a happy blues, happening here and now, never mind how long. Basie’s touch seems no more dated than a drop of rain the day after Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s hope-rhymes-with-history acceptance speech.

Okay, no cheating. Strictly speaking, everything’s dated in the online universe. This music, the sound of life moving inventively, endearingly, unstoppably forward was recorded on July 24, 1942, the first day of “the systematic deportation of the Jewish people from the Warsaw ghetto,” according to www.history.com.

Keep Moving

Also recorded during the July 24 session, “Farewell Blues” moves at a faster, sprightlier pace. Then still unaware of the dark side of the date, I’m contentedly grating a hunk of parmesan stroke by stroke in 4/4 time with guitarist Freddie Greene’s steady strumming, and so antic, so bright and airy and impish are the sounds the Count’s conjuring from the keyboard, I’m having “what fools these mortals be” thoughts, with Basie as the pianist for Oberon’s pit band in the film version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, until the grinding of the blender brings me down to earth. I don’t need to know what happened on that date in history to hear war in the noise. The silence that follows is like one of those special Basie moments when the roar of the big band subsides and the rhythm section drives on through, the Count nimbly prancing from key to key, having his way with “Shine On Harvest Moon,” taking his time, here a note, there a note, a process resembling what John Hammond heard one night in Chicago as “perfectly timed punctuation … inspired economy, the right note at the right time.” Checking the date of this session, I see that it took place on May 21, 1947, the war was over, that war, anyway, and the music and the moon are still shining.  more

BRINGING THE STATE UP TO DATE: A rendering of State Theatre New Jersey, which is the focus of a major fundraising project to renovate the historic performing arts center in New Brunswick.

Middlesex County, in partnership with the nonprofit State Theatre New Jersey, is investing towards the modernization of the New Brunswick historic landmark.

As part of a larger capital fundraising effort, the Next Stage Campaign, initiated by State Theatre New Jersey, has set a target goal to generate $26,500,000 for renovations that will dramatically improve accessibility, safety, and operation of the nearly 100-year-old facility, owned by Middlesex County and operated by State Theatre New Jersey under a long-term agreement.

“Middlesex County has a long history of investing in the arts – it is a cornerstone of this community. The arts bring us all together, transcends color and economic background, and is a key facet of our identity,” said Ronald Rios, freeholder director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. “State Theatre New Jersey showcases world-class artists from around the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year – it is a significant economic driver for our county. This investment is part of a long-term strategic plan to improve the quality of life for our residents both now and into the future.” more

HEALTHCARE ANGELS: This painting by Joe LaMattina is featured in “Art and Healing,” a juried exhibition on view on the West Windsor Arts Council’s website August 31 through October 23. A virtual reception is September 11 from 7:15 to 9 p.m.

For its new virtual juried exhibit, the West Windsor Arts Council invited artists to explore the theme of “Art and Healing,” not only as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on our lives, but also to reflect on past life experiences or feelings relating to healing from any condition or challenge. 

As we slowly emerge from the quarantines of the past few months, WWAC sought to create an exhibition that looks at art as a healing tool, reflecting the realities, feelings, or experiences during this surreal time, or from other past events, either personal or public.

“Art and Healing”  can be viewed at westwindsorarts.org from August 31 through October 30. A free virtual reception, featuring discussions with the juror and artists, is Friday, September 11 from 7:15-9 p.m.  Visit the website to register. more

ART RE-CREATION CHALLENGE: The work submitted by Kristina Giasi, above, re-creates William Merritt Chase’s “Landscape: Shinnecock, Long Island, 1896,” shown below. The Princeton University Art Museum is now hosting a challenge to re-create works from the museum’s collections, or from another museum, from home using anything on hand. The deadline for entries is August 30.

The Princeton University Art Museum is now hosting a Museum Challenge — entries are open through this Sunday, August 30. 

Here’s how it works: Choose any artwork, from the Princeton University Art Museum’s collections, or from another museum, and re-create it at home using anything on hand, the more imaginative the better. Think dogs with books, a ketchup bottle standing in for wine, a bathrobe in place of a cape.

Then simply snap a photo and submit your entry, through the Museum’s website (artmuseum.princeton.edu/nss). Categories include  Best Use of Food, Best Use of a Pet, Best Landscape, Best Still Life, Best Portrait, 13-and-under Best in Show, and others. 

The deadline is Sunday, August 30. Winners will be announced during the Museum’s Nassau Street Sampler Virtual Festival on Thursday, September 3. The Fest will include online lotería, trivia, art-making, chef videos, student performances, and a virtual dance party.

PREMIER ATTRACTION: Ryan Ambler looks for an opening in action for the Archers of the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL). Former Princeton University men’s lax standout Ambler ’16 starred for the Archers as they advanced to the semifinals of the recently held PLL Championship Series. Midfielder Ambler ended up with nine points on four goals and five assists in the PLL competition. (Photo provided courtesy of PLL)

By Justin Feil

Ryan Ambler aims to make the most of his chances.

The 2016 Princeton University graduate had not made a shot as the Archers LC went into overtime against the Chrome LC in their Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) Championship Series group game July 30.

“I was in somewhat of a shooting slump,” said Ambler, a 6’2, 190-pound native of Abington, Pa., who tallied 168 points in his Princeton career on 76 goals and 92 assists.

“The ball just wouldn’t go in. It was our third game. That night I’d hit the pipe, I’d hit the goalie three or four times. In my head, I was hoping just one of these falls. You kind of get in that rhythm where you wonder, when is this ball going to drop? It all happened so quickly. I have to give credit to guys like Tom Schreiber, another Princeton guy, and Grant Ament. They’re fantastic passers.” more

MORE TO COME: Paul Cooke showing his game face as he got ready for his sophomore season with the Swarthmore College baseball team. Former Princeton High standout Cooke has hit .267 with one homer and five RBIs over two abbreviated campaigns with the Garnet. (Photo by Brandon Hodnett, provided courtesy of Swarthmore College Athletics Communications)

By Bill Alden

Paul Cooke hasn’t been able to get in a complete season in his first two years with Swarthmore College baseball team, but he has still made an impact for the program.

As a freshman in 2019, former Princeton High standout Cooke hit .600 with six hits in 10 at-bats, one homer and four RBIs before getting sidelined for the rest of the season by an ankle injury.

This past spring, Cooke picked up two hits and an RBI before the season was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic, giving him a career batting average of .267 in college play.

Before he even took the field for his first game as a freshman, Cooke had developed a comfort level with the squad.

“I was really lucky to have six seniors my freshman year that were just really welcoming and did a great job of getting you up to speed and showing you the ropes,” said Cooke. more

STAGGERED START: Members of the Princeton High boys’ cross country team take off at the start of the Mercer County Championship meet last fall. While the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) gave the green light to fall sports last Thursday, there is no certainty that PHS athletes will be able to compete this fall. Under the NJSIAA plan, outdoor sports — football, cross country, field hockey, girls’ tennis, and soccer — can go ahead with practices to start on September 14 and competition beginning from September 28-October 2. At this point, Princeton Public Schools and private schools in town are still considering their options regarding the fall season. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

While the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) gave the green light to fall sports last Thursday, a slew of questions remain before it will truly be game on for Princeton schools.

Under the NJSIAA plan, outdoor sports — football, cross country, field hockey, girls’ tennis, and soccer — can go ahead. Practices can begin on September 14 with girls’ tennis to start competition on September 28 and cross country, field hockey, and soccer to have opening day on October 1. Football will start on October 2.

The indoor fall sports — gymnastics and girls’ volleyball — will be moved to a winter start with practices beginning on February 16 and games on March 3. Winter sports teams can begin practice on December 3 with competition starting on December 21.

The NJSIAA, though, set forth a key caveat, noting that “all of these dates are subject to change based on guidance from the governor and Department of Health.”

An important date looming for Princeton High sports is September 14 as that is when Princeton Public Schools officials are slated to decide whether the district will be allowed to go ahead with a fall sports season.

With the neighboring West Windsor-Plainsboro district having already opted out of fall sports, PHS Athletic Director Brian Dzbenski recognizes that the PPS has other priorities besides sports.

“We in Princeton are really focused on bringing the kids back into the building as soon as possible and having teaching and learning going on,” said Dzbenski, noting that under the current district plan the school year is scheduled to start remotely on September 14 with the PHS students not slated to be on campus until October 19. more

August 19, 2020

The outdoor tables at restaurants along Witherspoon Street are popular with residents and visitors alike. Town officials are planning to keep outdoor dining going into the fall and beyond, as long as the weather allows. (Photo by Weronika A. Plohn)

By Donald Gilpin

In the sixth month of the coronavirus pandemic, with a number of schools and colleges delaying in-person reopening and just weeks to go before the Princeton Public Schools’ (PPS) originally scheduled reopening, the district is revising its plans for students’ return to the school buildings.

The PPS August 7 Restart and Reopening Plan, a hybrid model for a combination of in-person and remote learning, was designed as a flexible work in progress, “tempered by the recognition that uncertainties remain regarding the degree to which the district will be able to return students to brick-and-mortar education.”

The uncertainties — in the spread of the COVID-19 virus, in achieving standards of health and safety as directed by the New Jersey Department of Education and state and local health authorities, in staffing  sufficiency, and in parental concerns — seem to have multiplied, with prospects for a successful in-person or hybrid opening less clear than ever.

Deciding on a revised reopening plan was on the agenda for last night’s August 18 virtual Board of Education (BOE) meeting, taking place after press time.  Earlier in the day, PPS Interim Superintendent Barry Galasso said he would be presenting a “phase-up” plan to the BOE last night. “But there are two contingencies,” he added.

Those contingencies, which might necessitate postponement of any in-person learning until later in the school year, were staffing and the installation of ionization filtration systems in all of the HVAC units. more

By Donald Gilpin

With September fast approaching, the Princeton Health Department continues to work with Princeton Public Schools, Princeton Charter School, and area private schools on their return-to-school plans. The New Jersey Department of Health issued guidance on school openings on August 13, the same day Gov. Phil Murphy announced that all-virtual learning would be acceptable as long as certain conditions were met and the schools had a clear plan for progressing soon to at least partial in-person learning.

“Princeton schools have put a tremendous amount of time and effort into these plans,” said Princeton Health Officer Jeff Grosser. Those plans include extensive measures to implement protocols and policies to keep students and staff safe.

The Health Department reported one new case of COVID-19 in Princeton on August 16, the only new case of the past seven days, with four new cases in the past 14 days.  The new case was noted as a family/household exposure linked to an out-of-county occupation exposure.

Princeton now has four active cases, 211 total positive cases, and 176 cases recovered with isolation complete. There have been 18 COVID-19-related deaths and an additional 12 probable COVID-related deaths.  The average age of death in those cases is 84.6 years. The average age of all Princeton COVID-19 cases is 55 years. more

By Anne Levin

During the pandemic, many Princeton restaurants have coped with the ban on indoor dining by serving patrons outside, at carefully distanced tables under tents or umbrellas. Business, for the most part, has been brisk. But with the end of summer approaching, a new set of challenges awaits.

Just how to cope with colder temperatures while still serving outdoors was among the topics at last Thursday’s virtual meeting of the Princeton Merchants Association. Additional discussions were about Princeton University’s plans for fall, a drop in cases of the coronavirus, and a plan to place representations of artwork from the Princeton University Art Museum in empty storefronts [see the story here].

Princeton Fire Official Joe Novak told merchants his department is working on a safety sheet outlining rules about using heaters outside. He has already received requests from some restaurants about how to proceed.

“A lot of people already have the tower-type heaters, which are absolutely acceptable,” he said. “They just have to be at least five feet from the building — two feet vertically, and three feet horizontally from any combustible surfaces. They won’t be allowed underneath canopies, but will be alongside them.” more

MUSICAL MERGER: Longtime Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey (YOCJ) Symphonic Orchestra Director John Enz leads the ensemble in a performance from 2017. Enz has retired after 35 years, and the YOCJ will now partner with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra. (Kapu Patel Photography)

By Anne Levin

Amid the often discouraging news from local arts organizations due to the ongoing pandemic, two well-known musical ensembles have revealed a development that is decidedly more upbeat. The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey (YOCJ) have announced a partnership that expands the PSO’s assistant conductor position to include leadership of the YOCJ’s Symphonic Orchestra.

The retirement of the youth orchestra’s longtime Symphonic Director John Enz, who has also been a cellist in the PSO, was the main impetus for the new arrangement. Now, under the direction of PSO Assistant Conductor Nell Flanders, the young musicians will take part in workshops and sectional rehearsals with the professionals from the PSO. They will also get special access to PSO concerts, and have an opportunity to meet and greet guest artists who perform with the orchestra.

“John Enz was keen that something like this could come out of him hanging up the baton.” said PSO Executive Director Marc Uys. “Over the last couple of years, we have had a peripheral relationship with them that has been gradually increasing. They have helped us out at Communiversity. They are a group I’ve admired for a long time. They are very much aligned with what is important to us.” more

By Donald Gilpin

In the midst of ongoing national protests and debate over policing, Princeton Police Department (PPD) Captain Chris Morgan presented the 2019 Annual Police Department Report to the Princeton Council last week.  

“We are absolutely aware of a lot of the concerns out there,” said Morgan in describing the 86-page report as “the most comprehensive we have put together since consolidation.” He continued, “We are committed to rebuilding trust within the community. We believe community engagement is important and being transparent with this information. We’re always looking for ways to better serve the community.”

A statement by PPD Chief Nick Sutter, written in June after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis during a police arrest, accompanied the report and emphasized the importance of trust and relationship-building between the police and the community. more

By Anne Levin

As anyone who strolls through Princeton’s central business district or Princeton Shopping Center can attest, there are several empty storefronts in town. These vacancies have prompted a program to enliven these blank spaces with representations of works from the Princeton University Art Museum.

“Art for the Streets” was introduced last Thursday, August 13, at a virtual meeting of the Princeton Merchants Association. Stephen Kim, the museum’s associate director for communications and information, said the idea is to fill the empty windows by making use of the museum’s diverse collection. The first round is being funded by the museum.

“I don’t think there are a lot of museums that are doing something like this,” said Mayor Liz Lempert. “We are really appreciative and excited about this project.”

The initiative is not limited to the downtown or shopping center, and will include vacant storefronts in any other areas of town. “We’ll use a diverse set of images, some with local connections,” Kim said. “They’ll have different orientations and different media. If folks want to provide a storefront window for us, we’re eager to go.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

Nabokov must be writing this script. Who else but the creator of Humbert Humbert, Dolores Haze, and Jonathan Shade could conceive of a president named Trump appointing a postmaster general named DeJoy to sabotage the U.S. postal system ahead of the 2020 election? The USPS subplot of my homemade conspiracy theory can be traced to Thomas Pynchon’s short novel, The Crying of Lot 49 (CL49). The Cornell connection, formed when Pynchon was a student taking one of Vladimir Nabokov’s courses (presumably “Masters of European Fiction”), is signaled in the opening paragraph’s reference to “a sunrise over the library slope of Cornell University.”

A Postmarked Bookmark

When I’m in need of something to mark my place in a book, I usually choose from a stash of photos, actual bookmarks, and old postcards like the one of Grand Central Terminal I’ve been using for CL49. Addressed to a Mrs. N. Adams in Franklin, Indiana, the card is postmarked 1 a.m. Nov. 22, 1922, and bears a canceled dollar-green U.S. Postage 1¢ stamp of George Washington (profile facing left). According to the Mystic Stamp Company, the earliest known use for this series was December 17, 1922. Readers familiar with Pynchon’s work will recognize one of his signature tropes in the note stating that due to “poor centering and other minor defects, a number of coil stamp sheets had been set aside as ‘waste’ to be destroyed.”

In CL49, the acronym WASTE (We Await Silent Tristero’s Empire) refers to an underground postal service created by fusing the poetry of paranoia with the thermodynamics of entropy; the system’s emblem, a muted post horn, can be seen on the cover of the first edition of The Crying of Lot 49 (shown here). Published in 1966, the novel presages not only the hauling away of post office drop boxes and sorting machines in August 2020, but the president’s obsession with voters in a specific constituency, namely the “suburban housewives” who are the subjects of an experiment on the effects of LSD-25 being conducted by   psychotherapist Dr. Hilarius. Refusing to take part in the experiment after being told “We want you,” CL49’s fantasy-prone protagonist Oedipa Maas hallucinates “the well-known portrait of Uncle that appears in all our post offices, his eyes gleaming unhealthily, his sunken yellow cheeks most violently rouged, his finger pointing between her eyes. I want you.”  more

“EAGLETS”: Artist Doris Ettlinger, who created this painting, will be one of the participants as the Garden State Watercolor Society (GSWS) and D&R Greenway Land Trust celebrate GSWS’ juror and top award winners from “Out of the Wild,” their 50th Anniversary Juried Exhibition. The virtual happy hour is Wednesday, August 26 from 5 to 6 p.m.

On Wednesday, August 26 from 5 to 6 p.m., the public is invited to pour their favorite beverage and join others who appreciate the varied and vital connections between nature and art as the Garden State Watercolor Society (GSWS) and D&R Greenway Land Trust celebrate GSWS’ juror and top award winners from “Out of the Wild,” their 50th Anniversary virtual juried exhibition. Via Zoom, viewers will discover which wild settings and what interactions with wild creatures inspired the chosen winners of the exhibit’s top prizes. The first presentation of the land trust’s new D&R Greenway James Fiorentino Nature Award will also take place that evening.

Register for this free Zoom event at rsvp@drgreenway.org.

GSWS President Tess Fields will discuss the role of art in 21st-century conservation, and address art in the time of COVID. D&R Greenway CEO and President Linda Mead will moderate the nature-focused discussions. She will speak about how the land trust’s management of their preserves uses conservation data to ensure protection of wild creatures.  more

NO NUTCRACKER: American Repertory Ballet has decided to cancel live performances of “Nutcracker” this coming holiday season, due to health concerns about the pandemic. A virtual series of excerpts will be available online. (Photo by Eduardo Patino)

Due to many unknowns about the global pandemic, American Repertory Ballet’s Nutcracker has been canceled for the holiday season. But a virtual series of excerpts will be available for online viewing.

“It was a difficult decision, but our top priority remains the health and safety of our staff, artists, and audiences,” said Executive Director Julie Diana Hench. “Since 1964, American Repertory Ballet’s Nutcracker has been a celebration of community and youthful imagination. We look forward to the day when we can all be together again in-person to celebrate the magic of this professional and joyous holiday tradition.” more