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APRIL NATIONAL AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH: Another Journey to Awareness: Autism, Aging Out, Rutgers and Hope Autism Solutions.  bY Calvin Schwartz   April 18th 2016 APRIL NATIONAL AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH: Another Journey to Awareness: Autism, Aging Out, Rutgers and Hope Autism Solutions. bY Calvin Schwartz April 18th 2016(0)

APRIL NATIONAL AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH: Another Journey to Awareness: Autism, Aging Out, Rutgers and Hope Autism Solutions. bY Calvin Schwartz April 18th 2016




I call this article another journey to awareness. These journeys began innocently enough four years ago as I slowly evolved into journalism; a long story. A capsule view. I’ve lived in comfortable, staid Monmouth County for nearly a quarter century surrounded by sprawling homes and upbeat ethnic eateries. One day, after Hurricane Sandy, I met Sherry Rubel, a homeless activist. Two weeks later, with Tara-Jean Vitale, my co-host at NJ Discover Live, Sherry took us into Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey, where up to 112 people lived in tents without heat, power, running water for up to 12 years. Ocean County had no provisions for the homeless. I wound up spending days there, learning, feeling, emoting and wondering how 112 people lived like this, 22 miles from my house on the east coast of America. My consciousness was forever raised and hardened. I helped promote the work of documentarian Jack Ballo, whose film ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ starkly tells the story of Tent City.




There was a logical segue to homelessness; hunger in America. I soon learned that in 1980, there were 40 food pantries in America. Today there are 40,000. I wondered how this can be in America. I spent several learning days at the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. My consciousness was raised and hardened again. I would never be the same after these journeys. It is overwhelming for me to comprehend then to write about it. But I always will. There is an old spiritual saying, “He who saves a life, saves the world.”

Segue. I try to be an absorbent sponge with current events; my mother impressed it upon me. From a distance, I’ve seen stories about autism; the debate about early childhood vaccinations as a causative to the explosion of incidence. That was the extent of my awareness. I have a friend, Lew Preschel and his close friend Ira, who watch/follow my NJ Discover Live radio/cable TV Show. Our show mantra is to elevate the people and places of New Jersey; to discover, as our name suggests, so we look for unique guests/stories that the major networks can’t devote the needed time. Another long story.




For a future show, Lew suggested following a red brick information road that would take me to Florida and then to Rutgers University where I’d begin my next journey. I set up an appointment with Mary Chrow, Development Specialist at Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology who has been working on a pioneering project with Autism.  Time was budgeted for an hour. Two and half hours later, we finished talking and my new journey was under way.

Like an old Pete Seeger and Tom Paxton folk song; “What did I learn in school today?” Mary outlined some of the basic facts. An estimated one in 68 children nationally and one in 45 in New Jersey are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder(ASD) which is a developmental disability that can cause significant communication, behavior and social roadblocks. Through high school, children with autism get the services and resources for their special needs. What shocked me was this next aspect.  Once they leave and age out of the public school system, services are dramatically reduced, leaving these young adults with little support outside of the family structure. How could this be? Then I thought about homelessness and hunger and how could that be?

Before meeting with Mary, I did my journalistic due diligence. I read about Mel Karmazin and Rutgers. Now mix in (gently stirred) a little synchronicity; one of my favorite indulgences. Karmazin is one of my media heroes; a founder of Infinity Broadcasting and CEO of CBS and Sirius. I watched a recent TV interview heralding Karmazin’s involvement with autism.  He started off by saying, “There is a tsunami coming with all of these children (up to 500,000) becoming adults and what services and arrangements have been made to take care of them?” His words reverberate awareness. He is partnering with Rutgers University to raise funds for the Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services; that pioneering project. Karmazin realized that a major university as an epicenter makes perfect sense; they have all the support systems in place and offer so many job opportunities for these young ASD adults. Karmazin met with Rutgers President Barchi.

Mary went on to explain what the center (approximately three years away) will focus on. There are two core on-campus programs. One is a workday program that gives 50 to 60 adults training (pre), vocational and recreational opportunities. The second is a pilot residential program which provides residences and services for 20 ASD adults who will live with 20 Rutgers graduate students and of course work on campus. I was exuberant; my alma mater was at the forefront of a revolutionary program that could be a model for the whole country. “Can we do some NJ Discover LIVE TV shows and help to create awareness to enlist broad based support?  It’s about making people aware of those 500,000 young adults who need.”

It’s always the case of people not grasping the depth and breadth of need. People need to know. I didn’t know about autism and aging out. I’m a just regular middle American, Jersey guy. I like my college football, tuna subs and an occasional visit to MOMA in New York City. My reasoning, deductive, if I didn’t know the present state of adults and autism, then so many others wouldn’t know.



There’s a process before undertaking a TV show together. Mary suggested my learning about Hope Autism Solutions and meeting with Danielle Lumby, a Rutgers graduate who is at that epicenter of local family involvement. Danielle and I went through the discovery process on the phone; more extant synchronicity; we’re both from Maplewood. My first novel, ‘Vichy Water,’ has a picture of the Maplewood train station on the cover; she laughed. We knew great chemistry going forward.

While I was driving up to meet with Danielle and the team from Our House Inc.; a dynamic, well respected service provider, that journalistic epiphany consumed me. I knew my mission; I was in a phone booth; the old fashioned kind that Superman was partial to. If you’re reading this now, so much help is needed; awareness is needed. Get off the sedentary sofa and help, support and get involved. It’s good for the soul. My mission here is to raise awareness and promote involvement in the cause of autism.

Media needs to get involved to bring these young adults and their families into recognized awareness. There is power in knowledge. Knowledge is good. Later that afternoon, Danielle, would tell our group around a conference table that when the Rutgers Today story came out about (  ) Danielle and husband Jeff and their work with autism, she was contacted often. A woman in Missouri called her about the work of Hope Autism Solutions. “One article possibly started a similar program in Missouri. I think that woman will actually do it.” I thought to myself as I got off Route 287, there is so much power with the media to teach, inspire and move people off a sofa or to reach into their pockets to help financially. Life is short.



The facility in Basking Ridge for Hope Autism Solutions was bright, upbeat and replete with particulates of energy of caring and devotion. In 2010, a small group of families in Basking Ridge, New Jersey became aware of the critical need for meaningful programs that gives adults with autism the opportunity to lead productive lives after they aged out. Hope Autism Foundation was born. In early 2012, the program model, Hope Autism Solutions (HAS) was created and approved by the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities. Our House Inc. currently operates two HAS sites in Somerset and Union County caring for 42 adults with autism.  In January, a third location was opened.

One of mankind’s greatest innovations is the conference table. That’s where I sat down with Danielle Lumby, President, Founding Trustee, Michele DelCorsano, President & CEO of Our House, Danielle Langford, Director and Katie Brown from Our House.

We started talking about the cost factors of the center. Danielle began, “The foundation helps to offer more programs. But that is a manageable number. The real cost is construction, furnishing and technology. Those are the big dollars…. A yoga program, nutritional is easy to raise money for.” Michele added, “Because we make every space handicap accessible…. barrier free.”

I heard that perhaps no other service provider is expanding programs like this. I was listening intently and feeling a special amalgam of emotion around the table; the palpable stuff.   I asked, “How did the impetus evolve to embark on this path?” Danielle added, “My son (21) can’t be left alone. So what do parents do (a single parent). The whole family structure is effected…. What does a parent now do? …. Not many opportunities provided…. Here at least we offer transportation, pick-up at house…. The message here is it helps the whole family…. My school system called me in, “We can’t find anything for your kid that’s close in the Basking Ridge area which means my son would be home or without the right staff ratios…. One parent was told we can’t service them because they don’t have the right staffing…. They live in Warren area which meant travelling to Monmouth County every day.” I said, “that’s three plus hours of driving a day.”



For me, I thought it was incredible with Hope Autism Solutions that someone comes to the door and gets their child and the drive is no more than 15 minutes and they get to do meaningful things and the child (young adult) is brought back to their door. On a facility tour later, they told of some of the activities; computer, yoga, cooking, nutrition, soccer, art, etc.  “When we were setting this up, kids need to come back home happy and tired and wanting to come back here.”

Parents were telling them that their kids want to come back here. It is a life altering/saving thing; from having nothing to something five days a week. “It’s HUGE!” A lot of what they do is volunteer. Autism Speaks gave a small grant to help pay for a nutritionist. They are a great resource once a child is diagnosed. But Our House, the service provider here makes such a difference.

I could keep writing but I think the point is made how much these devoted people at Rutgers and Hope Autism Solutions and Our House are doing. There is a tsunami coming as Mel Karmazin said; 500,000 children with autism entering young adulthood with nowhere to go.  We live in a brave new world where groups of concerned people can make such a difference in quality of life. There is so much to do. I hope these words can move a few people or light a few fires. Yes, I’ll be heading back with a film crew; this is my beginning.  Earlier I mentioned Pete Seeger. Perhaps a perfect way to close this chapter in my journey is to partially quote Pete again. At the appropriate place, think autism. He said this at a 1963 Carnegie Hall concert before singing the Civil Rights song, “We Shall Overcome.”

“If you would like to get out of a pessimistic mood yourself, I’ve got one sure remedy for you: Go help those people…. There’s all kinds of jobs that need to be done. Takes hands and hearts and heads to do it. Human beings to do it. And then we’ll see this song come true.”



Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services. To learn more contact Mary Chrow, Director of Development at Rutgers University Foundation

Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services:

New Jersey HALL of FAME 8th Annual Red Carpet Induction Ceremony – at Asbury Park Convention Hall –  April 7th, 2016 – by TaraJean McDonald Vitale New Jersey HALL of FAME 8th Annual Red Carpet Induction Ceremony – at Asbury Park Convention Hall – April 7th, 2016 – by TaraJean McDonald Vitale(0)


Last night I had the privilege of honoring some of New Jersey’s BEST at Asbury Park’s magnificent Convention Hall Theater. My co-host Calvin Schwartz and I enjoyed greeting the honorees on the red carpet. The New Jersey Hall of Fame recognizes and celebrates Garden State Citizens for their outstanding accomplishments. I am always impressed with the diversity of over achievers that are chosen for each year’s ceremony. Year’s passed the Inductees have included Jack Nicholson, Bruce Springsteen, Dizzy Gillespie, Martha Stewart, Joyce Carol Oates, Tony Bennet, Whitney Houston, John Travolta, Dionne Warwick, Michael Douglas and Bruce Willis. And this year’s honored were equally impressive:

Class of 2015

James Fenimore Cooper – America’s National Novelist – “Last of the Mohicans”

William Fox of 20th Century Fox – His first film studio was in Fort Lee New Jersey

Lewis Katz – Founder and Director of Katz Foundation

Kool & The Gang
–  “Jungle Boogie”, “Funky Stuff”, “Ladies Night”, “Celebration”

Jack H. Jacobs – Medal of Honor, McDermott Chair of Humanities, On-Air Analyst for NBC

Derek Jeter – Five Time World Series Champion, Yankees All-Time Career Leader

Frank R. Lautenberg – Represented NJ in the United States Senate for five terms.

Bernard Marcus – Co-Founder of Home Depot

Christie Rampone – FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion & 3 time Olympic Gold Medalist

Jon Stewart – Television Host of The Daily Show – winning 18 EmmyAwards

Dick Vitale – American Basketball Sportscaster & Analyst, ABC, ESPN, NCAA, Olympic Games

Carla Harris – Vice Chairman, Global Wealth Management, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley and Gospel Singer

The evening began with the theater booming from the tremendous sound of the Glen Burtnik Band. Soon after we were treated to a wonderful rendition of Theme from New York, New York sung by Joe Piscopo, the Hall Of Fame’s Host. Among laughter and cheers Joe Piscopo sung about New Jersey’s greatest and most memorable places to love and avoid. Throughout the evening one by one the Honorees and their families accepted the prestigious awards. All who attended the ceremony that evening could sense the great privilege that each inductee felt who stood on the stage that night.

(Special thanks to photographer: Richard Elliott Hoynes)

After a great evening in Asbury, rubbing elbows with my long-lost cousin Dick Vitale, and serenading “Ladies Night” to Kool & the Gang, I am settling down with my better half to rent the “Last of the Mohicans” in honor of New Jersey’s Hall of Fame. Looking forward to next year’s Ceremony and finding out who will be chosen from the many supremely talented Jersey Citizens. Congrats to all New Jerseys Hall of Fame Inductees and Good Luck to all the Hopefuls!

TaraJean McDonald Vitale

Journalist & Radio Host & On-Air Personality, NJDiscover

$50 Fine for Texting While Walking – Maybe Not a Bad Idea  by John D’Amico   April 3, 2016 $50 Fine for Texting While Walking – Maybe Not a Bad Idea by John D’Amico April 3, 2016(0)

$50 Fine for Texting While Walking – Maybe Not a Bad Idea      by John D’Amico




John D’Amico is a currently a Rutgers senior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Political Science. He briefly wrote for Brookdale Community College’s student newspaper “The Stall.” While at Rutgers, John has written for The Targum, and currently writes for the student arts and culture magazine “The Rutgers Review,” as well as for the Rutgers edition of John’s interests include politics, film, television, and hopes to become a professional film or television critic. Contact John:




There has been a lot of controversy about the new proposed bill which would make it illegal in NJ to cross the street while on your phone. Perhaps it might not be as stupid an idea as a lot of people think.

The new law would impose a fine up to $50, 15 days behind bars or both for those caught texting while walking, CBS New York reported.

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt proposed the new bill, citing a national increase in collisions between cars and pedestrians on their phones, according to

The bill has already been shown to be very controversial among NJ citizens. Is it really a good idea or not?

Part of the reason Lampitt proposed this bill comes from her concern for pedestrians. “Distracted pedestrians, like distracted drivers, present a potential danger to themselves and drivers on the road,” she said.

Is this really any of the government’s business? I understand that government should serve and protect the people. And in some situations, the government may even need to step in and protect people from themselves. But is this really one of those situations?

I understand there’s a problem with pedestrians getting hit by cars while on their phones. If someone is really going to be careless by putting themselves in that situation, then that should be their problem.

What’s the other issue here; concern for the drivers? When that is taken into account, I understand the appeal of a law like this. Keep in mind, this would specifically be for pedestrians crossing the street on the phone texting, not pedestrians in general.

If someone wants to be reckless and endanger their own life by being on their phone while crossing the street, that’s their choice. Once they start endangering the lives of others, it becomes a problem.

There is ample evidence that this is a real concern in New Jersey. Therefore, I don’t have a problem with it. Bear in mind, this op-ed comes from the mind of a COLLEGE student, also known as the “texting” generation.

On the Road: NJ Discover at New Jersey State House Press Conference November 5th for “Need  Help? 2-1-1”   bY Calvin Schwartz    November 17, 2015 On the Road: NJ Discover at New Jersey State House Press Conference November 5th for “Need Help? 2-1-1” bY Calvin Schwartz November 17, 2015(0)

On the Road: NJ Discover at New Jersey State House Press Conference November 5th for “Need Help? 2-1-1” bY Calvin Schwartz November 17, 2015




As journalists for NJ Discover, both Tara-Jean Vitale and myself were invited to attend the press conference for the new (revamped) NJ website. For me, after six decades of Jersey living, it would be my first time inside our State House. And quite frankly, despite all my travels throughout our state, my fingers seemingly on all the right pulses of what’s happening here, I was classically clueless (like the old movie) on what the 211 help system was all about. As a good reporter, I read about it prior to Wednesday and was fascinated on several levels; why didn’t I know about this and certainly, if I didn’t know, my being a man of words, explorations and social media proclivities, then a significant number of other Jersey residents, many of whom should and could avail themselves of the numerous services offered, probably didn’t know about 2-1-1 either.




It would be a perfect day; we found a metered parking spot in front of the State House.  The rotunda was magnificent, replete with historic paintings. I knew George Washington crossed the Delaware not too far from where we were which added to the sense of poignant history. Once inside the conference room, we met with Thomas Cosentino, MWW who invited us to attend.  Tom briefed us on the speakers; Joe Geleta, Executive Director of NJ 2-1-1 Partnership; Captain Robert Little, Executive Officer State Office of Emergency Management at New Jersey State Police; Maria Nikolatos, Director Disaster Response Program and Arnold Valentin Jr, Assistant Program Director, Catholic Charities Diocese of Trenton; and other representatives of government agencies.

It’s not the intent of this article to digest/recant the speaker’s comments. I’ll keep repeating myself though. Everyone reading this article really really (that’s two emphatic ‘really’!)  needs to go to to learn about Dial 2-1-1 to grasp the depth and breadth of all they are doing for us here in New Jersey. I did comment at the end of the meeting, how amazed I was at all the services that are offered by 2-1-1 and that my gut feeling, since I never heard of it, that there probably were many Jerseyans who also do NOT know enough about 2-1-1. Tara-Jean and I volunteered to do all we can to spread the word. That’s what this is all about.




There was one particular speaker that riveted me; Manny Fountain.  Manny is disabled (in a wheel chair) and was living in a motel room. He called 2-1-1. It was a year after Hurricane Sandy and he had nowhere to turn. 2-1-1 put him in touch with Catholic Charities. As Manny explained, the amount of effort they put forth “was astounding along with their drive and passion.”  If not for 2-1-1, he would’ve never found a wheel chair accessible apartment. They created a “new family and support system…..I would’ve never seen my life like this……I’m in grad school now.”  I was so enthralled with Manny’s eloquence, sensitivity and his resounding positivity, we’ve become Facebook friends; a first step in a continuing friendship. He is quite amazing.



Throughout the press conference, I heard, “We are helping people with specific needs.” As I explored the website, it all makes such perfect sense that I wanted to shout about 2-1-1- from the highest hill; that’s what I’m doing now; sitting on a hill, writing.  After the press conference, I had the pleasure to talk with Gary Shaw, a Director from Cablevision, as they are so committed to the 2-1-1 effort, Thomas Mergola, Director of Operations, ‘Need Help 2-1-1’, Lori A. Price Abrams, Vice President, Government Relations, MWW, Captain Robert Little from the State Police, who was also so passionate about 2-1-1 and Jay Stack, President of IGM Creative Group. So much energy and commitment in the room; many of you know me; I didn’t want to leave. I needed to keep absorbing. Then the lights went out in the room. It was definitely time to leave but not before a few photo-ops in the rotunda.

This final paragraph is designed so folks can help spread the word about 2-1-1.  As a matter of fact, here is what I try to include on all my Facebook posts (and social media); every little bit helps to spread (promulgate) the word.  And it’s almost Thanksgiving and the holidays; so have a happy and keep giving.

On social media posts you can also include this:

“This part is a PSA message. Know anybody in New Jersey who needs almost any kind of help? Discover a remarkable group of people. Best to check website   or call 2-1-1”



East Hanover, NJ – NJ 2-1-1, which assisted nearly 500,000 people in the state to access vital social services in the last year through its call center and website, has launched a newly-remodeled and enhanced website The user-friendly site is designed to provide those in need with quick access to the agencies, information and comprehensive information they need. NJ 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year long and provides services in multiple languages and serves the hearing impaired through its TTY services.

NJ 2-1-1 helps individuals and families find solutions to personal needs by informing them of resources in their community like day care facilities, shelters, affordable housing units, social services, employment training programs, senior services, medical insurance, and more.

“We are very excited to launch our newly-enhanced website,” said Joseph Geleta, Executive Director of the NJ 2-1-1 Partnership. “The most important part of our mission is to steer those in need to the services they are seeking, and we feel the enhancements we have made will make finding information quicker and easier for those seeking assistance.”

The newly-designed website can be translated into multiple languages and provides suggested searches and a “latest news” section, which makes it easier for users to find the pertinent information they are seeking. The enhanced website also provides visitors with user-friendly navigation to its resource database of over 10,000 programs and services. IGM Creative Group of Lincoln Park, NJ handled the redesign of the website.

A live chat session feature will also be rolled out in the future that will immediately connect a web visitor to a NJ 2-1-1 call center operator.

Repeatedly, 2-1-1 demonstrates its value during times of crisis. The NJ 2-1-1 staff works closely with government officials, voluntary organizations throughout the state, and 2-1-1 centers in other areas. In times of disaster, NJ 2-1-1 plays a critical role in bringing information to the people most affected by the event and relaying the needs of callers back to government officials and first responders who are in a position to help.

“Our NJ 2-1-1 centralized system and knowledgeable, compassionate staff make finding established resources in New Jersey easier for individuals, helping professionals, and government employees,” said Geleta. “Additionally, NJ 2-1-1 call staff keeps track of the needs callers communicate. By doing so, the system generates real time data on requests, complaints, and services. Over time, NJ 2-1-1 data can improve the quality of programs and services by making it possible to harvest essential information on resource allocation and use it for policy decision-making and budgeting.”

While the nation observed National Preparedness Month in September, NJ 2-1-1 works year-round with the Office of Emergency Management in New Jersey to ensure that important emergency preparedness information from municipal and state officials is readily available to state residents.

The enhanced NJ 2-1-1 website offers New Jersey residents preparedness tips for meeting the challenge of future storms that may hit the state, especially now that we are in the height of hurricane season. Visitors to the NJ 2-1-1 website can learn what emergency systems are in place in New Jersey and nationally and learn how to create their own emergency preparedness plan for themselves, families and pets.

NJ 2-1-1 also guides those with access and functional needs (or caregivers on their behalf) to register electronically with New Jersey’s Special Needs Registry for Disasters This service gives these individuals an opportunity to provide information to emergency response agencies, so emergency responders can better plan to serve them in a disaster or other emergency. Alternatively, they can also dial 2-1-1 and call specialists will assist with the registration process.
In addition to emergency preparedness information, the NJ 2-1-1 website provides visitors with full access to the 2-1-1 resource database of over 10,000 programs and services and is organized to allow users to ”self-serve” by providing comprehensive information like application links, application agency locations, eligibility guidelines and critical dates, among others. Special sections of the site are devoted to such topics as Emergency Preparedness, Family Services, Home Energy Assistance, Utility Assistance, and Resources for the Unemployed among others.
In New Jersey the 2-1-1 system is managed by the NJ 2-1-1 Partnership, a subsidiary of the United Ways of New Jersey which, in 2002, was designated by the Board of Public Utilities as sole administrator of that number. The NJ 2-1-1 Partnership is a non-profit organization committed to connecting individuals in search of health or human service needs and referring them to those local organizations and agencies to assist them in their time of need. The United Ways of New Jersey work to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities. By affording the leadership to make 2-1-1 available to New Jersey residents, they are making an impact on lives every day.
2-1-1 is the free, user-friendly phone number that serves 90% of America’s population, and connects some 16 million people a year to critical resources, information and services. In New Jersey, nearly 500,000 people turned to NJ 2-1-1 for help last year.
NJ 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and provides services in multiple languages and serves the hearing impaired through its TTY services. You can follow NJ 2-1-1 on Facebook and on Twitter @nj211.

“A NIGHT AT THE STRAND” Celebrating 93 Years at the Strand Center for the Arts September 29th 2015 with Calvin Schwartz & Tara-Jean Vitale    bY Calvin  Schwartz  October 25th “A NIGHT AT THE STRAND” Celebrating 93 Years at the Strand Center for the Arts September 29th 2015 with Calvin Schwartz & Tara-Jean Vitale bY Calvin Schwartz October 25th(0)

“A NIGHT AT THE STRAND” Celebrating 93 Years at the Strand Center for the Arts September 29th 2015 with Calvin Schwartz & Tara-Jean Vitale    bY Calvin  Schwartz  October 25th




“A Night at the Strand” was one of those meant to be at events; anything involving that theater. Some four years ago, Tara-Jean and I discovered The Strand in Lakewood; this magical, beautiful, historic place of theater, music, comedy and acoustical wizardry. Three years ago we attended the 90th Gala and walked away meeting people who have influenced and changed the course of our lives. That Gala event was followed by so many other events we attended at The Strand; from Sandy relief concerts, to intimate and memorable ‘Backstage Pass’ events to great music and endearing holiday shows. Thanks right away to The Strand’s Lori Gilmore for inviting us.



This night was quite special from the moment we arrived in the Gallery for the reception. It’s a funny thing when you’ve been to a plethora of events over the years; you can tell almost instantly, there was something different this night; perhaps the air of excitement, accomplishment, future think and change. Tara-Jean and I acknowledged instantly there was that palpable energy in the room. Good journalists need to pursue.  Tara-Jean asked, “What’s going on. Everybody is so upbeat and anticipatory.” Lori spot on introduced us to Anthony D’Amato (known on stage as ‘Remember Jones’) He was named the new producing artistic director of the Strand. His responsibilities include working closely with management, giving input in production and show prospects, producing his own theatrical and music events and probably a myriad of other job descriptions.  His persona was electric, dynamic, indefatigable and youthful. Actually he is very young.


We asked Anthony about his history. “I used to usher here when I was 12 years old. I would pick up trash in the aisles. From there, I became a performer then a director and recently put on my own music events here. In the past I’ve been able to turn small theaters-outdated- into something with a social scene. That’s my goal for here. The artistic vision for me is NOT to put on musicals and plays yet, but first we need to establish this area again as some sort of social scene.-a hang-out for all ages to be comfortable which is not easy.”



I thought it was all a process. Tara-Jean mentioned hearing rumblings that this gallery area will be made into a night-club. Anthony chimed in, “Right. This gallery space is completely under-utilized….as a performance space, there will be a stage built here, different colors and designs, art on the walls, music on stage. The bar is always happening with comfortable vibes. The food is comfortable. The seating is comfortable; a place where 20 somethings and older can hang out in. Scott McFadden, our Board President thought this all was an East Village thought-kind of like Asbury Park when it started to revitalize…I talk to a lot of 20 somethings (I thought to myself Anthony looks exactly like a 20 something) and there is no place for them to go and be entertained, have a few drinks and not feel like they are at a bar. They want somewhere that is comfortable…We’ll have a place for people to stay in Lakewood rather than go somewhere else; that’s my goal.”




I said, “You give this theater youth.”  Anthony smiled, “Exactly. I call myself the Jimmy Fallon hire. What he’s brought to the Tonight Show…I want to make this a national venue. Scott (McFadden) is great to work with. He’s a music fan. On Halloween, I’ll have a 40 piece band.”  We thought Anthony was that new revitalized exciting face of The Strand. He was that palpable energy in the room.





There was endless food and drink in the Gallery donated by friends of The Strand; Eddie Testa, Chicken Town, Steve Levine, WindMill, Mike Scotto, Oscar’s Italian Restaurant, Dina Warren, Dina’s Catering and Amy Levine, Takes the Cakes. I picked a bad night to be in the middle of the Paleo diet. Oh well. In between food and drink there was a ceremony in the theater honoring local mayors including Lakewood, Brick, Howell for their great support of the arts. The theater, built in 1922, has such wonderful history; built as a Broadway venue for those vacationing in Lakewood.  We’re told the acoustics are world class; you can be standing at the back wall of the stage, talking and they can hear you at the last row of the theater. Music for the Gala was provided by the incomparable duo of Kevin Gilmore and Scott Solomon.




I caught up to a fellow Rutgers alum and Strand board member, Jeffrey Gerstenblatt. “It’s a great night for us. Help’s us raise money and book the kind of shows we like to book here….when people come for the first time, they see what an experience it is to watch a show here and they want to come back.” Fran Whitney, from The Strand, reiterated the changes being made and turning the Gallery into a night-club setting. Moments later we were introduced to Chris Everett, exuberance personified. “We want to insure this beautiful building continues to be a center for artistic endeavors….Everything technical that happens here is my job; staging, lighting, sound, making people fly, all the fun stuff. If no one notices us, we did our job right because that is the magic of theater.” Tara –Jean wanted to know why The Strand is special. Chris explained, “It was designed to be a Broadway theater….In the 20’s and 30’s Lakewood was a vacation destination…literally it is a replica of a New York City theater.  We can do all these Broadway shows right here; One of the top four acoustically designed buildings in America.”



I strolled past the magnificent cake honoring The Strand, artistically created by Amy Levine from Takes the Cakes.  I stared for a few minutes; the cake is not on the Paleo diet. No one would know but me. Just then, Glen Harrison, Lakewood attorney and Board member, rescued me into conversation. I turned my back on the cake.  I asked Glenn what this night meant to him. “What I’d like to see is The Strand continue as a center for the arts for many years to come…I actually came to the theater 50 years ago, when I was around ten. It was a movie theater back in the 60’s.  We paid 50 cents on Saturday morning, watched movies and cartoons. Its’ had many incarnations over the years. Now across the board, there are all kinds of events for everybody, geographically and demographically….Being a 501C3, we fight for the grant money.”




Old friends Dina Warren and Jesse Warren walked over.  Dina exclaimed this was her first night of being involved in The Strand as co-house manager. “We’re very proud to raise money and keep this all going. I love this beautiful place.” Jesse said, “Looking forward to this theater being on top in New Jersey. I’m a co-founder with Terry Camp of Big Road Productions. We’ll be here in 2016 bringing some great shows.”



We looked to complete the essence of our journalistic endeavors by cornering board president, Scott McFadden right in the epicenter of the Gallery.  Right away he spoke about honoring the local mayors and thanking them formally on stage for their contributions to their communities. We asked about his functions on the board. “One of my functions is to try and raise money-keep it going. It’s very difficult with non-profits now. A lot of funds have been diverted to Sandy restoration and recovery…even though it is somewhat concluded, it (money) hasn’t found its way back into other areas (arts) again. Fund raising is a real challenge for us. Keeping it going and keeping the theater alive-that’s our focus.”   Scott told us that bringing Anthony D’Amato here is one of the things he’s most proud of. “He played a Backstage Pass for us and did the Joe Cocker show. In between, I read about him and mutual friends told me about him also. I decided one day to talk to him and I finally asked, “Hey, how’d you like to be our artistic director?” First time we talked for 1 ½ hours and the second time for 2 ½ hours. We just clicked on our vision….he knows the scene and I know money. He’s absolutely brilliant… Once people come here, they’ll come back. How do you get them here the first time-that’s what we’re striving for.”




It was time for us to meet the mayors who had just been honored. Mayor John Ducey from Brick loves The Strand because it’s so close to home.  “It’s in our backyard and they are doing so many great events. You are hearing buzz around town about The Strand.” Tara-Jean asked about his noticing more events taking place here. “I’ve heard buzz the last few weeks that ‘Almost Queen’ is coming. Usually you hear about Count Basie but all of a sudden there is definitely a buzz….Anthony is awesome-a lot of energy.” Tara-Jean next asked about the neighborhood.  “People think there’s nothing else to do here. Tonight’s the first time I heard about re-doing the Gallery-remodeling it with food and drink.” We three shook our heads in agreement that it was a brilliant move.

Mayor William Gotto from Howell was waiting for us (the media). “I’ve known Scott (McFadden) for years. It’s humbling to get an award from The Strand. I don’t think we should get awards. It’s what we do. I’m a big supporter of the arts. My family is involved. I’d like to get here a lot more often. I think residents of Howell should take advantage of this beautiful facility. It’s hard to support the arts with the budgets the way they are but the last few years we’re starting to do more things…We want to let people know from a publicity standpoint that it’s here and doing good for the community.”

Tara-Jean and I have been to two out of the last four Gala nights at The Strand. Why; because we love the theater and have been to so many events here. It’s that precious magic ride to the splendor of art deco and the 1920’s and real theater.  There was a group of Strand officials gathered in the lobby. I decided to be theatrical in my exit.  I turned, smiled and said, “I’ll be back,” in a deep voice.  And we will.









I met Rosemary Conte nearly four years ago at an Easter Sunday benefit concert to raise awareness and funds for homelessness in Ocean County; she organized the concert. It was through her social consciousness that helped to change my view of the world and launched my own journalistic efforts for homelessness awareness. Along the road these few years, I’ve also had pleasurable opportunities to hear Rosemary Conte, the jazz singer perform her evocative, emotional, soulful music.




At NJ Discover, we’re committed to the causes of homelessness, hunger, social awareness and music which is what Rosemary ( aptly nicknamed ‘Rosemother’)  is all about.  Her efforts are now focused on rekindling and inspiring the local jazz scene.  Some of the energy for this began in her house with old fashioned jazz jam sessions. Now it has evolved to a group called ‘Reality Jazz’ performing at the Monmouth Academy of Music Arts in Morganville. Actually this show is part of a broader project called ‘Rosemother’s Jam – 100% Jazz’.

bY Calvin Schwartz  10-10-15






Rosemother’s Jam Jazz Concert ~ Music you’ll love in an intimate setting. Reality Jazz ~ Sunday, Oct. 18, 3-5pm

Rosemary Conte, Vocals ~ Brad Mandigo, Piano

Bob Boyd, drums ~ Tony Cimorosi, bass

Monmouth Academy, Recital Room

1230 Campus Dr., Morganville-Marlboro, NJ ~ 732-617-1124

$15 Admission ~ $5 for students & Senior Citizens








“Decades ago, there were jazz listening clubs all over NJ and especially the Shore, where I and other jazz artists played. You could hear a pin drop in a live jazz scene. Today, you rarely hear live jazz played by local jazz artists in a listening context. Jazz died at the Jersey Shore as another music was being born to run. Ironically, in the 70s, a young Clarence Clemons who lived across the street on Ocean Avenue, would come to the old Blue Water Inn in Sea Bright and ask to sit in with my band. We let him.”


“Rosemother’s Jam – 100% Jazz’ is my answer to the lack of opportunity for accomplished local jazz musicians to play live, the kind of music they’ve studied and loved all their lives, and for multi-generations of people to learn about jazz. I’ve opened my home to monthly jazz jam sessions. I invite them three to five players at a time, to play their own compositions and classic and newer jazz repertoire, unencumbered by the roles they serve playing local bars and restaurants, and in pop oriented event bands.”

“We’ve been jamming together for six months, and music fans have asked if they can come over when we play. This tells me that despite what I hear from Shore venues, there is an interest in jazz and people just might support it if they could find it. I want to do my part to develop a greater audience for jazz and to introduce it to the younger generations.”

“My living room is too small for an audience of any size, so I’ve rented a recital room at a music school. The October 18 concert will be the first Rosemother’s Public Jam”

“Jazz education and preservation is important to me, and there’s an education component to my jazz jam project that can’t be simulated in a classroom. Under the Rosemother’s Jam umbrella, I’ve created the Fly On Wall Program.”

“I’m inviting music students interested in jazz, a couple at a time, to be ‘flies on the wall’ during jams at my house … to observe the pros discussing a piece of music, its form, improvising, and masterfully playing ensemble. I’m reaching out to local colleges and universities to connect their music students to this opportunity. There is no fee for this.”



In case you missed it!
Spring Lake NJ Irish Festival Saturday May 16th. Live music, cultural food, beer garden, contests, kids activities, Atlantic Ocean, Jersey Shore ambiance, sports personalities and more.

Hold On To A Moment: A Journey to Jersey Centenarians: A Series: Meet William Theodore Zimmerman; World War II Veteran   March 16, 2015 Calvin Schwartz Hold On To A Moment: A Journey to Jersey Centenarians: A Series: Meet William Theodore Zimmerman; World War II Veteran March 16, 2015 Calvin Schwartz(2)

Hold On To A Moment: A Journey to Jersey Centenarians: A Series: Meet William Theodore Zimmerman; World War II Veteran   March 14, 2015    By: Calvin Schwartz


For years, I’ve been watching Willard Scott’s segment on ‘The Today Show’ where the face of a centenarian (100 years or older) appears on a jar of jelly for a brief moment while he recites a sentence or two about their lives; perhaps mentioning a life style or diet which helped longevity. For decades, I’ve observed that life is for the living. As soon as you can’t shoot hoops, or drive at night, or put eye drops in, or remember President Kennedy, it may be time for assisted living or a nursing home or an obscure room in a finished basement; out of sight, mainstream and utilization. Invisibility is a factor. It’s hard to notice seniors on the beach, in a mall or at a football game; but they’re there. How often are they engaged? These are heavy thoughts. I hope to capture them all; they’ve been floating around my sensibilities since 1965 when I was a student at Rutgers College of Pharmacy. Sitting in the back of a lecture hall, doodling in a notebook, I decided not to age traditionally; a long story and my upcoming second novel.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about all those relatives who’ve passed and how it seems I didn’t hold them longer and embrace time. Fists are clenched in a futile gesture of wishing for a few more moments; if only. A few months back, I came to the stark realization that I am the family patriarch now. How did that happen?

A long winding road has taken me from pharmacy and eyewear careers to writing and journalism and rock music with a few green rooms for socialization. It’s like I want to yell, “Hey Mah, look no hands and I fit in perfectly and I’m the oldest one.” A few years ago, I was invited to journalistically cover the 101st birthday party for Emily Cook. We became friends and I eventually interviewed her on camera for national media; she invited me back to her room on camera. (Video link available) That was a special moment for me; she was vital, funny, worldly, out-spoken and replete with knowledge and experience wanting to share. I went to her next birthday party and visited during the year as a friend.  Her Herbert Hoover and Depression stories fascinated. The lesson was how precious, energetic and insightful she was and that I could learn from her; Use it or lose it deal.


All of the aforementioned are the yellow brick road components to my journalistic journey to meet and absorb our precious centenarians in an on-going series and eventually a novel (book). And now, meet William Theodore Zimmerman.

As a Jersey journalist, I was thrilled to be in the shadow of Rutgers stadium, an area rich in colonial history, interviewing a centenarian in a house that was built in 1830; all key energetic ambiance factors for me. Then Warren Zimmerman, from the State Theater in New Brunswick, escorted his father William Theodore Zimmerman, the 100 year old birthday boy into the living room. William was perfectly appointed wearing a herring bone sport coat; his big family party was an hour later. There was no way William was 100; maybe 80. Once we started talking, I was convinced he was a few decades younger. His voice resonated with a certain excitement, authority and youth.




“How does it feel to be 100?” “No different.” He chuckled. I asked what he did for a living. He was quick to answer, smiling coyly. “I am nothing. All I am is a Jack of All Trades and a Master of None. I did everything you can imagine.”

“Years ago, you only worked as long as they needed you. I worked in the shipyards of Hoboken. You went down there and got picked out of a crowd to do a job. Maybe you got three days of work; maybe one. If you were a good worker, they picked you more often.” All of a sudden I had a flashback of Marlon Brando and the movie, ‘On the Waterfront,’ which took place right where William worked.

“You grew up in the Depression?” What I liked about interviewing William, was his ever-present smile and rapid fire responses. He is so sharp; a gift. “There’s a lot of difference between a Depression years ago and today. The whole country was in a depression and everybody was poor with no work. It was a hard time to get food. In the city where we lived (North Bergen) if you couldn’t buy food, you didn’t eat. When we finally moved to Piscataway, my mother had three or four acres so we grew our own food.”



I always get a kick out of asking about President Herbert Hoover akin to my son asking me about President Kennedy. “I was a kid. How much did I know about politics? I thought he was good. But we had to move a lot when we ran out of money and couldn’t pay rent. We searched around and hired a horse and wagon to move our stuff. There was no car.”  The horse reference was like a gentle reality slap to my face to snap out of it. William really went back 100 years.

There was a chronological order to my planned interview. Next was World War II although Warren mentioned a few days earlier that his father never talked about the war.   But then William started to talk with a special vigor. “I was in the Navy. This guy tricked me. I was a welder and worked for GM then. GM got a big contract to teach employees different things. They taught me chrome-moly welding; then the war. I enlisted in the Navy. I said to the guy that I was taught welding. I have a certificate which I didn’t get yet. He said don’t worry about it. They were going to give me rate of third class petty officer. He tricked me right into it.” Then I had another movie flashback thinking of Goldie Hawn, in ‘Private Benjamin’ when she was tricked into thinking the Army accommodations were like Club Med.

William was in the Navy for 3 ½ years. He worked up to 2nd class ship fitter. I asked if he saw any action. He laughed loudly. “Quite a bit. I was on the battleship Arkansas. When I first got on, they told us convoy duty taking cargo and people to Europe.” Once again I had a flashback. Coincidentally, a month earlier, I watched the ‘Victory at Sea’ series from the 1950’s featuring the music of Richard Rodgers. An hour show was devoted to convoys and their ever-present danger from German subs.


“Then they talked about the coming invasion.” William’s peaking enthusiasm at this juncture made me think I was talking to a 40 year old. “They put us into the New York Navy Yard and rebuilt our ship which was built in 1914. The biggest guns we had was 12” and we didn’t have the 16” like newer ships. Now we became a fighting ship. Then the invasion; our target was Juno beach. Since we were an older ship, they told us because our big turrets shot only so far, that we had to beach our ship and then fire. The Germans were fortified. We figured the end of us. We got there at 3 AM and opened fire at day break. Then when we opened fire, we did so well; we got orders not to beach it. After the invasion, Cherbourg was a powerful German fortress and we got orders with the (USS) Texas and other ships to go in and draw their fire.”  Being a good reporter, I went to Google and checked out his story. William was right on. I even found a picture of the Arkansas and Texas being fired upon. He is so sharp.

After a while they shipped William and the Arkansas to the Pacific. “We went to Guam and Iwo Jima where they put the flag.” I knew it’s one of the most famous military pictures. “That was our target 2 ½ miles off the coast. We saw the flag. It was beautiful. After Iwo Jima we went to Okinawa but I’m not sure if it’s the right order. Then we were in a typhoon. Then we were supposed to go to Japan but they dropped the bomb.” William reinforced my memory of President Truman deciding to drop the bomb rather than risk all those American and Japanese lives during a prolonged land invasion.




When William came home, a lot of people wanted him to talk about the war but he wanted to forget. “So many people were killed but it had to be.” He also realized he was on the luckiest ship. He told me about D-Day and the German planes flying so close overhead, he could see their large swastika. He was up on deck manning a 3” anti-aircraft gun. The next day they heard that a German plane had a bomb on it that got stuck and crashed and exploded. “It could’ve sunk us.”

It was time to change subjects. “What do you like best about New Jersey?” “Everything; I love New Jersey.” The biggest change for William was population growth. Being a movie buff, I had to tap into his history.  He laughed when I mentioned movies. “I have to laugh. Charlie Chaplin used to tickle me. I got a kick out of him and Harold Lloyd, the guy with glasses. Jerry Lewis was very talented.”  William likes all kinds of music and the big bands like Glenn Miller and Dorsey. He plays a little piano, played football in Weehawken, basketball and tennis as well but doesn’t like hockey because “all they do is fight.”

He reiterated all the jobs he had working for GM, Ford, Rutgers Prep, floorcovering, home improvements. He helped build his mother, sisters and his own house. “I don’t know how I had all this energy or lived this long. I don’t know how good vitamins are. What I did all my life was listen to my parents.”




We were winding down our time together. The front doorbell rang as party guests started to arrive. He volunteered this next segment. “Bill, what can I do to live as long as you? Women especially asked that.” He chuckled when he said that. What a sense of humor. “I had two good parents, two good wives. I did everything in moderation; everything but smoke.  My mother was a practical nurse who hated smoking. My generation; we were poor but happy. My parents taught us religion. We didn’t always have to go to church; you have it in your home. Just look at my two boys. There is a supreme being; too many miracles in this world.”

Miracles; a good word to finish my time with William; It fit perfectly. I’ve got to come up with reasons to spend more time with him. We hugged and I thanked him. Then I told him the one word in my mind from the beginning of our hour; enchanting.  And he is perfectly so.

A VERY SPECIAL NIGHT: ‘ALEX and The Pavement’ to appear at Wonder Bar Thursday November 13th A VERY SPECIAL NIGHT: ‘ALEX and The Pavement’ to appear at Wonder Bar Thursday November 13th(0)

A VERY SPECIAL NIGHT: ‘ALEX and The Pavement” to appear at Wonder Bar Thursday November 13th By Calvin Schwartz




NJ Discover has been featuring special nights and special talent for the last few years. It becomes even more meaningful and relevant for us when we can feature a young exciting band that is enveloped in destiny and future success. If we were betting folks, remindful of an early scene in ‘Casablanca,’ a favorite movie obviously, we’d be letting it  ride on Alex and The Pavement in the next spin of the wheel. What does this mean? Get thee off the sedentary sofa next Thursday and come on down to the Wonder Bar for poignant, innervating music and a great bunch of kids.

Calvin Schwartz


Thu 11/13: ALEX & The Pavement   in Asbury Park.  They roll in to the Wonder Bar on Thurs., Nov. 13.  Music at 8 pm and admission is $5.



NOTES from ALEX and The Pavement

ALEX & The Pavement is a new cover band that came on the scene in the summer of 2014. Comprised of talented local musicians, ranging in age from 18 to 24, who share a passion for bringing great music to a variety of venues including but not limited to, restaurants, festivals, and bars. Mainly a Jazz/Pop cover band, they also perform a few rock and R&B covers as well as songs in different languages. With their love for music and a clean professional sound, they have quickly climbed the ranks in the local band circuit. Come along for the ride!




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