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AN IMPORTANT COMING ATTRACTION: Documentary Premiere, “A MESSAGE OF HOPE”  Sunday July 17th Two River Theater Red Bank  5PM    by Calvin Schwartz    July 9th AN IMPORTANT COMING ATTRACTION: Documentary Premiere, “A MESSAGE OF HOPE” Sunday July 17th Two River Theater Red Bank 5PM by Calvin Schwartz July 9th(0)

AN IMPORTANT COMING ATTRACTION: Documentary Premiere, “A MESSAGE OF HOPE”  Sunday July 17th Two River Theater Red Bank  5PM    by Calvin Schwartz    July 9th

 

 

TICKETS ARE FREE!!   Call 732-319-3455 or 732-284-7071 to reserve your seat, all are welcome! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over these last five years of my writing for NJ Discover, many have come to know and appreciate that most of my words (projects and undertakings) come from my soul which means I’m a more effective writer when I’m emotionally involved and somehow “lived” around a story. I’ve often turned down stories if there wasn’t that emotional connection. I use it to energize my intestinal lining which fuels my writing. Everybody has a technique.

This is not an easy documentary to see meaning it requires a special courage and fortitude. But we are all part of a community here in New Jersey. Why did I get involved? ‘Healing Hearts’ is a support group for parents who are dealing every day with the death of their child. Lisa Anderson, accomplished radio personality from “Greater Media” radio stations WRAT and WJRZ  along with the film’s young director, Noelle Ciumei, approached some of the parents from ‘Healing Hearts’ who agreed to open their souls and tell their story.

 

 

 

 

Where do I come in? At first, I was operating from a distance without knowledge or understanding. I’ve worked with Noelle on other projects and admired her talent and insight. When I delved a bit more deeply into the project, I realized that its essence with the support group was quite close to me. Once again, a deeply personal attachment. No, I haven’t lost a child. But a couple quite close to me did, tragically, a few years ago. I knew the child so well. I saw the child a few days before and sensed something was wrong. I actually could’ve been more proactive as a human and friend. But too often, we’re caught up in our own lives. Then tragedy; forever, I’ll feel a modicum of guilt.  And our friends who lost that child, they disappeared from our lives. Subconsciously, I think we all felt they were some kind of outcast. No one knew what to say to them. No one had experienced this. So they were alone and need of support. I wish they knew about ‘Healing Hearts.’ It is a place of comfort, love, peace and hope.

 

 

 

This past Tuesday July 5th, there was a special ceremony in Jackson, NJ at the Garden of Hope. I was there. The parents and families from ‘Healing Hearts’ gathered together, held hands in a semi-circle. It was brutally hot and humid. Biodegradable balloons in the shape of a white dove were filled with helium. Messages to their children were written on the balloons. Then together, they released them into the universe. A special group of people; diverse and filled with hope.

For so many reasons written above and beneath the surface, YOU ALL should set some time aside on Sunday July 17th to come to the premiere. It’s free. It’s Red Bank; there is a plethora of chic restaurants. You are down the shore. If the prevailing winds are right, you’ll smell salt air. But you’ll be supporting, sharing, learning and feeling. The film is a wonderful emotional experience of, for and by fellow humans. See you there.

Calvin Schwartz  

 

TICKETS ARE FREE!!   Call 732-319-3455 or 732-284-7071 to reserve your seat, all are welcome! 

“A Message of Hope” Trailer Link and Go Fund Me: https://www.gofundme.com/26byt7g      

 A MESSAGE FROM LISA ANDERSON:

“Any mother or father who has had to bury their child knows the depths of the despair, heartache, and lonliness.  It is every parent’s worst nightmare. Hello..my name is Lisa Anderson, and sadly, I am one of those parents. I have survived the loss of two of my sons, Ryan and Christopher. Ryan passed away two weeks before my due date in 1992, and my oldest son Chris passed suddenly from a seizure five years ago at the age of thirty-two.  About a year ago, I had the overwhelming feeling I needed to make a documentary. Actually it came to me loud and clear in the form of a “message” from my son Chris. Having had absolutely no idea how  to even begin, as fate would have it, I found a beautifully talented, aspiring filmmaker Noelle Ciumei, and together, we set out to make  the groundbreaking documentary “A Message of Hope.” I also was blessed to have the other moms and dads of our support group “Healing Hearts” share their stories as well, in the hopes we can reach out to other parents who are in ‘the club nobody ever wants to be in.’

 

 

To let them know they are not alone in their sorrow.  If you, or someone you know has suffered the loss of a child, you will not want to miss seeing A Message of Hope, which will be screened at The Two River Theatre in Red Bank on July 17th, at 5 pm free of charge.   None of us have been paid to do this, and we have no budget. We are asking for your support to not only cover the cost of the theatre rental, but to also bring our documentary to other venues such as film festivals and other cities so other parents can see our film and know they are not alone in their struggles.  We cannot bring our children back, but we can honor their memory with A Message of Hope. This film was made with the intention to bring healing and hope to many. Please help us to help others who are living with the death of their child. In this way, our children will not be forgotten.  Thank you for your support!!”

BACK IN TOWN: MIKE MARINO, NJ BAD BOY OF COMEDY. JUNE 25TH ALGONQUIN ARTS THEATER, MANASQUAN;  PRODUCED BY UNCLE VINNIE’S COMEDY CLUB.COM   “Reasons to BE THERE”     By Calvin Schwartz      June 13th 2016 BACK IN TOWN: MIKE MARINO, NJ BAD BOY OF COMEDY. JUNE 25TH ALGONQUIN ARTS THEATER, MANASQUAN; PRODUCED BY UNCLE VINNIE’S COMEDY CLUB.COM “Reasons to BE THERE” By Calvin Schwartz June 13th 2016(0)

BACK IN TOWN: MIKE MARINO, NJ BAD BOY OF COMEDY. JUNE 25THALGONQUIN ARTS THEATER, MANASQUAN;  PRODUCED BY UNCLE VINNIE’S COMEDY CLUB.COM   “Reasons to BE THERE”     By Calvin Schwartz      June 13th 2016

 

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR TIXS :http://bit.ly/1UDAZn2

PRODUCED BY UNCLE VINNIE’S COMEDY CLUB.COM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next week, it’s officially summer on the Jersey shore. A few weeks before, I traditionally grab a calendar, a yellow highlighter I used in college, and find those special events that will help to define my summer. So, June 25th gets a yellow highlight bath in the limelight. I’m so into comedy these days; an introspective, deep need to laugh for a few hours. The smell of Atlantic Ocean air, a plethora of eating and drinking places and Jersey shore ambiance; for me and probably you guys, a nirvana of a Saturday June 25th shore summer night.

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, Mike Marino is back in town. Sounds like a song and I’ve been singing it for the past four years since I first saw Mike in concert. I love his comedy, infusion of Jersey histrionics and Presidential Comedy tour concert; blissfully relevant around summer convention time. Funny, I could see myself voting for Mike; but explaining this would be a bodacious long story. Another time. In the meantime, here is ticket info etc.  ALSO appearing with Mike is Uncle Floyd!!!

Come see “Jersey’s Bad Boy” Mike Marino as he goes on his Presidential Comedy Tour with Uncle Floyd . VIP tickets include a meet/greet with photo op after the show as well as premier seating.  General admission tickets are on a first come first served for seating after the VIP section part of the theater.  The theater will have drinks available for purchase as well as snack food.  No video taping will be allowed.

WHEN

Saturday, June 25, 2016 from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM (EDT)

WHERE

Algonquin Arts Theatre – 60 Abe Voorhees Dr, Manasquan, NJ 08736

 

PRODUCED BY UNCLE VINNIE’S COMEDY CLUB.COM

 

CLICK HERE FOR TIXS : http://bit.ly/1UDAZn2

 

In 2012, I discovered the genius of comedian Mike Marino in Asbury Park.  Mike was performing at the first Asbury Park Comedy Festival.  Since I discovered Lenny Bruce in the 60’s, I’ve morphed into a comedic snob. I need sharp incisive cerebral worldly comedy to laugh. Mike delivers that. And concomitantly (along the way), I’ve become a huge fan of Mike Marino. Why not; I love to laugh for 90 minutes straight each and every time I see him; it’s this stressful world we live in. Mike has a handle, a release and grasp of our world.

 

The genius of Marino’s humor is to take our modern (expletive omitted) lives and shove it under a comedic microscope.  And when you see him in concert, you get a chance to see the ‘Marino’ face; how he loves to laugh with the audience at his own humor; that genuineness and warmth draws us in and embraces. Even more than that, being a comedic snob, countless times looking at Mike, I can’t help but see Jack Benny, who had one of the greatest comedic facial expressions as well as incredible timing. Benny was Johnny Carson’s all-time favorite; Mike Marino’s expressions and timing is right there with Jack Benny. And now it appears Mike Marino is running for President. I just have to hear about that. I wonder if he needs campaign workers.

 

 

 

CLICK HERE FOR TIXS : http://bit.ly/1UDAZn2

 

http://www.mikemarino.net/

 

A SPECIAL COMEDY SPOTLIGHT: JULIA SCOTTI:  Appearing at Catch a Rising Star in Princeton June 3rd 4th   By  Calvin Schwartz   May 30th 2016 A SPECIAL COMEDY SPOTLIGHT: JULIA SCOTTI: Appearing at Catch a Rising Star in Princeton June 3rd 4th By Calvin Schwartz May 30th 2016(0)

A SPECIAL COMEDY SPOTLIGHT: JULIA SCOTTI:  Appearing at Catch a Rising Star in Princeton June 3rd 4th   By  Calvin Schwartz   May 30th 2016

NOTE: JULIA SCOTTI APPEARED ON AMERICA’S GOT TALENT ON JUNE 21ST NBC AND MOVES ON TO NEXT ROUND!!!!!!

ANOTHER NOTE: JULIA SCOTTI MOVES ON AGAIN ON AMERICA’S GOT TALENT ON JULY 13TH!!!!!    

 

 

I love comedy. I loved Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor. I love Catch a Rising Star in Princeton. My journalism gig the last few years with NJ Discover has afforded me back stage stuff, precious interviews and reflective time. My comedy infatuation began back in the sixties with Lenny Bruce who opened comedic doors and free speech horizons. I came full circle a few years ago when I met Lenny’s daughter Kitty, who was in Jersey to raise money for Lenny’s House (for abused women). A month ago, I met Richard’s daughter Rain. For me, both full circle opportunities. And the opportunities continue as I got the chances to meet and interview special headlining acts at Catch a Rising Star. Of recent, were Mindy Rickles (Don’s daughter) Jill Kimmel Ryan (Jimmy’s sister) Sheba Mason (Jackie’s daughter), Marsha Warfield (Night Court) and Marc Price (Skippy, Family Ties). When I heard Julia Scotti was coming to Princeton, I jumped at the prospect of an interview in about a second.

Julia is a national headlining comedian, a former teacher, speaker and woman of transgendered experience (today’s headlines replete with subject). In the 80’s and 90’s, she was known as comedian Rick Scotti and appeared back then on Showtime and Comedy Central. In 2000, she left the comedy stage to undergo her life changing transition and become a teacher. In short order, Julia realized she had more comedy in her soul, and in 2011 came back to comedy. There is an energetic hilarity and wondrous story telling in her act.  We talked for nearly an hour.

 

 

Right away she mentioned that “this is the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.” Julia started comedy in 1980; did 20 years and took time off. Firstly, I asked her how and why she came into comedy. “Since I was a little kid, I was drawn to comedy, almost like a religious calling.” Her mother was a single mom from an Italian family. “I wanted to be a drummer and played in bands in North Jersey. But always in the back of my mind, I wanted to do stand-up.”

In 1980, the opportunity came along. There was a Chinese restaurant in Paramus having a comedy show outside of New York and auditioning locals. “I put five minutes together. There were 20 people and I got picked…. That’s all I needed. I got a couple of laughs. Later that year, I auditioned at Improv when the comedy boom started.” By the late 80’s she was headlining all over the country. “My first time at Improv, Joe Piscopo was the emcee. That’s how long ago.”

I asked where she pulls her comedy from. “I’ll see an event. I’ll see something. I found a piece on Lifetime Achievement Awards; something so pretentious. I wrote a whole piece about it; a phrase; a word; a feeling. Jerry Seinfeld does observations. I’m more of a story teller. I can’t tell a joke to save my life.” She is a huge fan of Jean Shephard who wrote and narrated the iconic movie, ‘A Christmas Story’ (Ralphie). “If you watch me and know Jean Shephard, you’ll see the influence. He used to broadcast from WOR radio late night. I was under the covers with a transistor radio. That’s how much influence.”

Julia grew up in Fairview, Bergen County. I questioned her comedy role models. She was expressively fortunate to have the masters as guides. “Chaplin, Keaton, Abbott and Costello, Jack Benny, Fred Allen. Keaton knew his audience and never said a word. At an early age, I was careful how I used my body, my face. It was as important as what I said. Like a musician with an instrument. You all have these tools.” She told the story when she was in Mill Valley, California performing. “I found out when Charles Chaplin came over, he worked this theater with Stan Laurel (an understudy). Just standing on the stage knowing who was there. I actually kissed the stage; A sacred place for me.” I was moved by the depth of her comedic soul.

I am what I am; An old movie guy so I’m always curious as an interviewer. “My favorite movies are ‘Postman Always Rings Twice,’ ‘Double Indemnity.’ I have a weakness for westerns.” I added, “So do I!” She recently rediscovered TV’s ‘The Rifleman’ and ‘Gunsmoke.’ The radio version dealt with social issues. She loves musicals like ‘Singing in the Rain’ (my very first movie) and Fred Astaire. She also mentioned the next time I watch ‘Casablanca’ to pay attention to ‘Major Strasser’ and how he views Humphrey Bogart’s character Rick Blaine. I am intrigued; wrote my first novel, ‘Vichy Water’ based on ‘Casablanca.’

 

Julia drifted sentimentally. “My parent’s divorced in the 50’s. It had a huge impact. I didn’t have a father at home so I felt alienated and retreated into myself. Did puppet shows in my bedroom. I used humor back then to mask insecurities. Had Three Stooges puppets; Moe and Curly. I only had two hands…. I got a reputation in my neighborhood for being funny. It felt good when I made people laugh.” This remark really resonated with me. I was talking to a consummate caring comedian.

It’s funny (a play on words); when I interview comedians, I like to take a serious journey for a while. I asked Julia permission to ask this question. “What is the best time and worst time in your life?” There was silence for a couple of seconds. “Having kids. Losing kids. For a period of 13 years, we were apart. They are back in my life now. In fact, my son is an aspiring comedian and my daughter just began an internship with a talent agency. It’s a wonderful feeling to have them back; my life is complete now.”

Still on the serious side, I asked about the philosophy by which she lives. “Actually I do have a philosophy. Never give up. Never give in. I used to have expectations about everything and they never came true. I don’t keep negative influences around.” She bought a plaque which is hanging in her room. ‘Well behaved women rarely make history.’  She continued being serious. I asked if she wanted me to write about this. Julia said yes. “With transgendered community, there is a 41% suicide attempt rate which is obscene. A lot are kids whose parents threw them out of the house. And the stupid BS going on in North Carolina where I’m not allowed to pee where I want to.”

Then Julia said something which really moved me and brought us back to comedy. “If it weren’t for flaws in humanity, I wouldn’t have a job. I like to think people coming out to my show have a good time and learn something. It’s the best job on the planet. I’m like a reporter with laughs.” I added, it’s a gift to make people laugh. She said, “There’s nothing like it. It’s better than sex. I’ve had sex and standing ovations. Standing ovations are better.” And I added (trying to be funny), “And longer.”

 

One of my favorite interview questions, “Before I leave this earth, I won’t be satisfied until I…….?” Julia didn’t have to think long, “I’ve done everything I’ve set out to do in life.” I asked if there’s anything I left out that needed to be said. She liked that question and thought for a quick moment. “I don’t want to be limited by my age or gender. On the age part, I want people to understand that I can be just as relevant as a 20-year-old, if not more so. There is something for everybody in my show. It is not gender specific. I don’t dwell on my being transgendered. I bristle when I see my name in the paper as a transgendered comedian because newspapers don’t say straight comic or black comedian. Being transgendered is part of who I am. It’s not all of who I am. It’s not all I talk about.” Julia reiterated how important this was.

I watched You Tube (which I love) and caught her act and absorbed. I told her, “you are frenetic, and rapid fire and you bond with your audience; it’s so evident. In part because you are a story teller. They bond with you.” She thanked me. “The best laughs I ever got were around the kitchen table having coffee. I do bond with my audience. I love my audience. When you are on stage, what comes out of your mouth is automatic; another altered stage of consciousness. It’s a team of people working in my brain; looking for people who might be a good foil; an event; something spontaneous that happens. All this in the blink of an eye. It’s a skill I developed over the years. Robin Williams was like that. I wanted that skill in my toolbox.” And I added how much she reminded me of Robin Williams (Mrs. Doubtfire); the supreme compliment to which she thanked me.

A perfect segue. I asked Julia why does it seem many comedians have so much baggage. “Soulful comedy does come from pain; like Richard Pryor. I talk about my mom being child abusive which is very painful to get it out. People come up to me after a show and thank me and say that I show them how to laugh about things.” Her next comment is very profound. “A 20-year-old comic just doesn’t have that life experience. It’s a shame we throw old people away. Old comedians have so much to offer. Young kids laugh at me because I’m like a crazy grandmother. Middle age people say I remind them of their grandmother and my age people say it’s so true what I say. I feel comfortable binding all generations.”

I can’t wait until her shows this coming weekend June 3rd and 4th at Catch a Rising Star. Let me get cryptic here, why you all should come on down to see Julia. There are a dozen powerful and visual reasons. Pop culture. Purist comedy and laughing. We need a Julia Scotti infusion. It’s going to be a bumpy next few months and I think we’ll need to start laughing. That’s just one reason. There’s more. See you all soon. Get off the sedentary sofa.

 

FOR MORE INFO:  www.juliascotti.com

Complete Julia Scotti story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRQnfHQaDv0

CATCH A RISING STAR PRINCETON & TICKET INFO:  http://bit.ly/2416Feh

 

Hyatt Regency Princeton

102 Carnegie Center

Princeton, NJ 08540

 

To purchase tickets

visit the Hyatt box office,

visit

ticketweb.png

or call 609.987.8018

NJ DISCOVER Credentialed to cover RUTGERS 250th Commencement on Sunday May 15th. President Obama is Commencement Speaker   bY   Calvin Schwartz  May 14th 2016 NJ DISCOVER Credentialed to cover RUTGERS 250th Commencement on Sunday May 15th. President Obama is Commencement Speaker bY Calvin Schwartz May 14th 2016(0)

NJ DISCOVER Credentialed to cover RUTGERS 250th Commencement on Sunday May 15th. President Obama is Commencement Speaker   bY   Calvin Schwartz  May 14th 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two days ago, I received an email from the White House Media Affairs that I was credentialed (for NJ Discover) to cover Rutgers 250th Commencement featuring President Barack Obama (44th President) as Commencement Speaker. I was thrilled beyond.

Citing a phrase from the Gettysburg Address, “It is altogether fitting and proper,” that this historic opportunity was given to me. Back in 1969, I graduated from Rutgers and subsequently am on campus some 70 times a year for a variety of reasons; art, history, music, lectures, athletics, film and ‘sociology’. NJ Discover LIVE TV show (which I co-host with Tara-Jean Vitale) often features Rutgers ‘guests’ and programming topics. My first published novel, ‘Vichy Water’ uses Rutgers as a geographical backdrop.

 

 

 

 

I’ve been known to listen to Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ often and for long periods of time; there I’ve said it; I’m a huge sentimentalist.  Commencement is one of the most emotional events in the life; a beginning(commencing) of life as we know it. Yes, I am thrilled beyond. I hope to absorb, photographically capture and report back here on my wondrous journey to emotionalism and history tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the meantime, here is the Rutgers link to information and video streaming to watch ceremony tomorrow.  http://commencement.rutgers.edu/

A VERY SPECIAL HISTORIC COMEDY WEEKEND: Princeton’s Catch a Rising Star Comedy Club presents MARC PRICE (Family Ties) and MARSHA WARFIELD (Night Court) Friday April 29th and Saturday April 30th. MY CONVERSATION with MARC & MARSHA    bY Calvin Schwartz  April 26th 2016 A VERY SPECIAL HISTORIC COMEDY WEEKEND: Princeton’s Catch a Rising Star Comedy Club presents MARC PRICE (Family Ties) and MARSHA WARFIELD (Night Court) Friday April 29th and Saturday April 30th. MY CONVERSATION with MARC & MARSHA bY Calvin Schwartz April 26th 2016(0)

 A VERY SPECIAL HISTORIC COMEDY WEEKEND: Princeton’s Catch a Rising Star Comedy Club presents MARC PRICE (Family Ties) and MARSHA WARFIELD (Night Court) Friday April 29th and Saturday April 30th. MY CONVERSATION with MARC & MARSHA    bY Calvin Schwartz  April 26th 2016

 

I have a long winding road history of being a comedic snob going back to the sixties when I heard Lenny Bruce for the first time. I’ve come to many circles and forks in roads, but always HUGELY appreciate the specialized art of comedy; making people laugh. And yes, an historic comedic upcoming weekend when two stars from 80’s iconic sitcoms share the stage.

When Princeton’s Catch a Rising Star told me Marc Price and Marsha Warfield were appearing together, I was thrilled to chat with them. I pinched myself ceremoniously; my wife thought I was losing it.

If I was losing it, I found it again when I started talking to Marc. What immediately ran through my mind; I was really talking to Irwin Skippy Handleman from the highly successful sitcom, ‘Family Ties.’ The night before, I prepared by exploring You Tube and Marc, watching old episodes of ‘Family Ties’ and clips from his stand-up act. He is a refreshingly funny, sharp and innovative comedian.

 

 

 

I asked Marc about being on the road and who his heroes are.  This year he’ll wind up spending 40 weeks on the road. “Jay Leno goes to all the places comedians don’t normally go to. I do that too…. I’ve had the pleasure of working with many of my heroes…. George Carlin and I were on the same plane once…. Seinfeld’s opening act, an old friend of mine, was sitting next to George…. He introduced us so I sat next to George…. Carlin loved the art form so much. He loved doing stand-up…. Bill Maher once said, “You could take the jokes out of Carlin’s show and it still would be an interesting show.””

Lenny Bruce was good friends with his father, comedian Al Bernie and even wrote together. I was very impressed. “My dad even worked with Sammy Davis Jr.; they wrote some music…. My dad was on The Ed Sullivan and Fred Allen shows…. In 1956, he did an impersonation of Elvis on Ed Sullivan. One week later, Elvis is on the show. It makes my dad the first Elvis impersonator.”

“What about your show with Marsha next week in Princeton?” “This is historic. Marsha Warfield is a tremendous comedy icon…. Started performing in the seventies…. Worked with Richard Pryor and was on ‘Night Court’…. One of the great female headliners of all time…. Broke down a lot of doors…. She stopped doing comedy for many years and just started again…. We bumped into each other in Las Vegas…. Then she joined me on stage…. did a guest set…. the audience flipped out. She’s still got it…. Didn’t do old jokes but new material…. Very relevant. Very much about now. Very powerful. Speaks the truth. It is extremely exciting for me to be a part.”

I pursued Marc’s background. “People watched me as a nerdy teen. Now I am in my awkward adult years.”  He was born in Bergen County but loves California and the North West; Washington State. Oregon and lives in Southern California. It’s the best of all worlds for him to come visit New York and New Jersey. Then I asked about googling him and discovering he was into hydroponics.

 

 

 

“It is sand hydroponics. It practices water conservation techniques. Using 70% less water…. Because of the Hoover Dam, the Colorado River doesn’t make it to the ocean anymore…. People manage their own rain water…. Even the driest part of California gets 4 to 5 inches of rain a year…. Trick is to save water in winter.” Marc co-produced a show for Showtime, ‘Green Collar Comedy’ where he learned about hydroponics. The show was “politically not so correct but environmentally correct.” As I’m writing this, how synchronistic; it is Earth Day, April 22nd.

Marc continued to impress with his caring, depth and passion. “It seems people resist massive change. As long as people have hoses and can turn them on at will, they don’t care.” Then it was suddenly back to George Carlin. He was on that roll. “I’ve always aspired to his kind of comedy. It surprises people. They don’t expect it from Skippy from ‘Family Ties.’ I’m excited to perform to people who have not seen ‘Family Ties.’ Comedy Club audiences are younger and don’t remember the show.”

I get a kick out of the next question. “What’s your relationship now with the cast of ‘Family Ties’? “We check in often. Most recently with Scott Valentine. Michael J Fox is my ultimate hero and mentor. Michael Gross, Justine, Meredith, Tina; I love them all…. I love George Burns, Don Rickles; he is still so sharp, Sam Kinnison. My influences are very varied over many centuries.” He laughed. I got it immediately. “I’m a student of comedy/history…. My dad was at George Burns’ Friar Club Roast…. I used to drive back from the Catskills with Jackie Mason…. My dad used to sneak me in to Catch a Rising Star back in the seventies when comics had this great respect for the Catskills. Young comedians today don’t get that same reaction that Catskill comedians got.”

This interview seemed full circle. Marc did some of his first comedy shows at Catch a Rising Star. He’ll be back this weekend in Princeton. I’ll be there hugely anticipatory. This is also part of the circle. To implore all you folks to come on down and laugh for a few wholesome hours. Get off the sedentary sofa.

 

 

This past Saturday morning in Atlantic Beach, Long Island, far from my central Jersey domicile, I spoke to Marsha Warfield. She had an early afternoon comedy gig out west so we had some quality time. I spent several hours beforehand just as I had done with Marc, going back to the future on You Tube, checking out ‘Night Court,’ some stand-up gigs and when she performed on a Richard Pryor roast. Yes, I’m a comedic snob and here I was talking to Marsha Warfield. I ceremoniously pinched myself again.

Firstly I asked how she got involved in comedy. Marsha is from Chicago. She was married and divorced by the time she was 20 and worked at various jobs. One of the jobs was working with her mom at the phone company. “It was back in the days when you dialed 11 for long distance. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I saw an article in the paper. A feature on comedy night…. At a place called Pickle Barrel…. A deli with a bar…. Tom Dreesen, a comedian, was running the showcase and had just broken up with his partner Tim Reid; the comedy team Tim and Tom…. I read about the showcase and told my friend I was going…. My friend drove me…. It was the first time I did stand-up…. By the time I went on, it was 2 AM and they were putting chairs on the tables…. I went on and said I was Marsha Warfield and I am a virgin. That was the start of it.”

“And your comedy and life heroes.” She answered in a milli-second, “My mother was always my hero. Never looked up to anyone more than her.” From the time Marsha was a little girl, she was always drawn to comedy like Lucille Ball and shows like Ed Sullivan and Jack Paar. “My early memories of women doing comedy weren’t so much stand-up…. Women at the time were usually characters; Moms Mabley, Totie Fields and even Joan Rivers assumed a character…. The men were themselves…. I was drawn to Eve Arden, her delivery, Our Miss Brooks…. No nonsense, dead pan, the authority she brought to the screen which was not seen in a lot of women at the time…. It seems the only woman who had a “this is me talking” attitude was Elaine Boosler.” Listening to Marsha was like a rolling comedy history lesson.

 

 

“I just love stand-up comedy. My first comedy crush was Flip Wilson…. I liked his intellect”  I mentioned Flip Wilson doing a routine called “ugly baby” on an early Johnny Carson show filmed in black and white. Marsha repeated the last line, “and a banana for your monkey.” We both laughed; it helps being ‘contemporaries.’

I praised her unique cynical facial expression. “I always find it interesting what people observe. In my performing, I still try very hard to be like the conversation we are having now.  I try to be myself. It’s all me. The stuff I write. The way I see the world. My sense of humor. I want to be honest.” Next I praised her performance in the movie, “Mask.” She played Rocky Dennis’ homeroom teacher. That warmth and sincerity easily came across the screen. “I give director Peter Bogdanovich the credit.”

Being the movie romantic, I was curious what movies she was inspired and moved by. “Early on you didn’t see a lot of blacks in movies. Then in the early 70’s there were more.”  She loves ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ and ‘Claudine.’ “Instead of going to work, I’d sit all day in the theater and watch. I’ve seen them both often enough to quote in my sleep…. Right around the time I was thinking of stand-up.”

I thought about throwing in some Jersey humor. “You’re coming to Princeton next weekend. What’s the first thing that comes to mind thinking Jersey?” Marsha answered, “Stephanie Plum, from the Janet Evanovich series. She was a bounty hunter with attitude based in Jersey.”

I found a video on You Tube from the old Richard Pryor Show where Marsha and Richard are in a hysterically funny bit called “Uncensored Food Foreplay.” I watched it twice, yes, LOL.   Marsha added, “At the time, I was a rookie; he was an established comedy legend. Richard’s gift was that he spoke in a voice that wasn’t heard yet…. An urban street voice…. He elevated it to part of our vernacular…. He gave life to all of us who spoke that way…. Richard was the guy down the street…. He brought such a brilliance to that kind of expression…. In that restaurant scene you watched, there was no dialogue, no direction, no rehearsal and a blank script. I played a beautiful woman which was a stretch for me.” I disagreed immediately. “They seduce each other with food. I must’ve been 22 or 23 years old…. Fresh off the plane from Chicago and in awe of this man…. He showed up late…. He just got married…. Shows up in a white suit…. We shot it in one take…. You see me shaking.”

I asked about best and worst times in a life. “I don’t self-analyze much. People will judge you however. I try to be me. But I do want to say a couple of things. I haven’t done stand-up in almost 20 years. I am just now getting back into it. I happened to run into Marc(Price) last year at Improv where I was doing five-minute guest spots and he very graciously volunteered to get me on. He told me to work out stuff and get my stage legs back. This is part of the process he opened up and gave me the opportunity to reconnect and re-energize. I owe him a lot of gratitude.”

Gratitude is a perfect universal word to finish; To Mike Tommasino from Catch a Rising Star in Princeton for lighting my comedic journalistic fire and connecting me to Marc and Marsha. And much gratitude to both of them for opening their memory banks, hearts and souls. And perhaps gratitude to NJ Discover readers who should find their way off the sedentary sofa and come down this weekend to laugh.

 

 

SHOW INFO:  April 29th and April 30th

CATCH A RISING STAR WEBSITE:  http://www.catcharisingstar.com/index.php

Hyatt Regency Princeton

102 Carnegie Center

Princeton, NJ 08540

 

To purchase tickets

visit the Hyatt box office,  

http://www.ticketweb.com/venue/hyatt-regency-princeton-princeton-nj/44754#

visit

ticketweb.png

or call 609.987.8018

 

 

 

 

 

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 (http://news.rutgers.edu/feature/caring-those-autism-they-grow-older/20151201#.Vv7HSuIrKUk  ) 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.”

 

IMPORTANT LINKS TO CLICK AND ABSORB:

http://www.hopeautismfoundation.org/

http://gsappweb.rutgers.edu/

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

http://www.ourhousenj.org/

Rutgers Center for Adult Autism Services:  http://www.rcaas.rutgers.edu/

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

yourstrulyTJ@wordpress.com

$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 TheTab.com. John’s interests include politics, film, television, and hopes to become a professional film or television critic. Contact John:  jjdamico123@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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 NJ.com.

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.

NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: LINDA CHORNEY: Music, Passion and her film, ‘The Opening Act’  A Review bY Calvin Schwartz   March 24, 2016 NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: LINDA CHORNEY: Music, Passion and her film, ‘The Opening Act’ A Review bY Calvin Schwartz March 24, 2016(0)

NJ DISCOVER SPOTLIGHT: LINDA CHORNEY: Music, Passion and her film, ‘The Opening Act’ A Review bY Calvin Schwartz March 24, 2016

 

 

The refreshing documentary, The Opening Act, shoots from the hip. There is never a lull or lapse.  Linda asked with a Sally Field childlike enthusiasm and innocence, “You really liked it?”  Chorney, although secure with her musical ability, was not so sure if she had any business being in the film business. After viewing The Opening Act, she does.  I answered, “Yes, it was a purist form of frenetic Linda.” “What’s frenetic?” she asked. “Frenetic Linda means frenzied but in a good way. You are non-stop energy and spontaneity.” She creates a special microscope of a film dedicated to creative people like herself. Her energy coming to life in the film is purposefully, obviously for the armies of future musicians coming up; they should all see this film. She explains, “This is about independent musicians. You are not alone. It’s to show the ‘non-musician’ world how much time, money, pulling favors and groveling goes into the process and hopefully acts as a cheap therapy session for musicians.”

 

 

 

 

Since I watched the film a day before we talked, I was replete with emotional recall. I told Linda, “The film gives the audience a great picture of what life is like in the music business. It isn’t all Adele. It’s not really just about you.”

She dug my description, and continued, “Yeah, a lot of people were expecting this film to be about my story – ya know, the Grammy thing. That’s coming later, in a feature film with a bigger budget. But I thought this message was important and timely, as the music business has drastically shifted, causing musicians to be paid fractions of pennies, rather than dollars for their recordings.”

 

 

 

Linda Chorney is a muse of sorts; a force inspiring thought and creativity.  I know firsthand.

It seemed like old times; sitting down and chatting with her for this interview. It seems like only yesterday when Scott Fadynich, her husband, invited me to hear her sing at Olde Freehold Day. That was August, 2011. Scott saw my posts on Facebook and thought I was a quirky writer/blogger, so he reached out. He is always promoting Linda. It was also my second month as a journalist. A few months later, I did my very first journalistic interview with Linda in Sea Bright, overlooking a river with Jersey seagulls flying overhead. Perhaps the birds were harbingers. Linda’s interview that day helped to launch my new career. And now, five years later, there’s a full circle here.  And no treatise or interview with Linda should proceed without mentioning the fact she made history for being the first Independent artist to be nominated for Best Americana Album Grammy; after playing in bars for 30 years.

I told Linda right from the start of our interview that I wanted not only to share my adjectives about ‘The Opening Act,’ but it was quintessential to my thought process to highlight the unexpurgated Linda with my readers. Yes, I suppose a bit out of the ‘Private Parts’ school; people always want to hear what she has to say. I’d gladly go down the quirky question brick road. But taking a page from her book; I’m going to digress, egress, progress and jump into her movie and glittering, unique personality that radiates from Arizona to Jersey.

 

 

The film moved basically frenetically. (There’s that word again) Honesty was mirrored in a roller coaster of her emotions; you felt her depression worrying about weight gain or the long hard road for the film’s financial success. The fact she wore no make-up in many shots was a special effect in itself. She wanted it to be natural and real as possible. “I did everything including the editing. I had to cut out 37 minutes.  It was a challenge. I didn’t want it to be boring. I shot most of it myself, asides to the camera, “selfie-style”. I hoped there was a certain charm to that.”

There was. The film is charming; a perfect adjective to describe Linda’s labor of love. She also did the sound, color correction; and, of course, the music. She actually calls herself “Jackass of all Trades.”

I asked about the title of the film, The Opening Act. “The original title was actually ‘Why Bother?’  In this new millennium of streaming, hardly anyone buys albums anymore. Musicians are losing money recording these days, hence, at some point they have to ask themselves, well, at least I do, over and over again while bashing my head against the wall – why bother?” She reached out to her cousin Robin Russin, a successful screenplay writer and filmmaker in Hollywood, who also helped edit her book, “Who the F**K is Linda Chorney”, and asked him to screen the film before she released it. Expecting him to “rip her a new ahole”, she was pleasantly surprised when he called her with a rave review. There was just one thing; the title. “It has a negative connotation, and I found the film to quite frankly be inspiring. How about calling it “The Opening Act?”

 

 

 

 

While watching the film, you feel like you are right there in the passenger seat, as she recruits friends, family, and strangers to do a new wacky music video. In typical Linda panache, this wonderful song (full of messages, but in diversionary Chorney style) is called ‘The Cantina’ which describes inane Arizona laws where you can carry a gun but can’t drink a beer in public risking arrest. Her ‘embraceable you’ personality and spontaneity invites a local mariachi band, Mariachi Sol Azteca, to partake in the insanity. They are very entertaining.

You will come to appreciate her fortitude by working in 102-degree heat and many sleepless nights, as she creates. She is a perfectionist. And although you will laugh through her winging it style and journey, you may also shed a tear.

I am a movie snob; totally appreciate the art of making a movie. Movies helped change my life. I’ve walked out of movies that didn’t meet my expectations or wasted my time. So in critiquing movies, I must call it as I see it no matter what. There is my need of walking away from a film with knowledge and intestinal lining feelings; emotion. I remember the scene of her waiting to hear if she’d be opening for the Beach Boys. It was weeks. She was down and said, “People have important things to do and you’re not one of them, so get over it.” This sustained her. For me a riveting quote. Linda Chorney made a good film.

 

 

 

Not to give away the plot, but she did open for the Beach Boys. I asked how it felt.  She chuckled first, “It was awesome although I don’t know if Mike Love knew he was standing on top of my Mom’s ashes.” Her mother’s death was that recent. A typical Linda thing to do. “My mother was a HUGE influence on my music. Everybody’s parents; all they want for their kids is happiness and success. I’m sure parents of musicians, who supporting their kids learning an instrument, or any of the arts, will relate to the film.”

I told her it was quirky question time. “Be Linda.”  Q1 – What makes you cry? “Mostly tears of joy for beautiful things. Nature. When I see real family love. Friggin’ strangers in an airport greeting each other with hugs – like grandparents hugging their grandchildren. Waterworks. Then there are the sad ones; sometimes when I drove home from my gigs in smoky bars. I’d think why am I here?  When am I going to get my break? Then I did or so I thought. The backlash from the Grammy nomination made me shed a tear. Then I look at problems in the world. I make fun of myself. “Oh, poor Linda got nominated for a Grammy, wah wah. Shut the fuck up! Your life is good.”

 

 

Q2 – Is there a philosophy by which you live? She was quick to answer, “Keep it real.”  Q3 – Is there a best time in your life? “When I am creating.” Q4 – Is there a worst time? “When I am standing still, not creating.” Linda is often awake at night. “Everything keeps me up. My brain.” Q5 – Strongest childhood memory?  “Piano Lessons, listening to great music and dancing with my family, lots of Beatles, being bribed through quiet contests in the car, and rewarded with Chinese food every Sunday…I always lost.” Q6 – I wondered if there was a big misconception about her. “My honesty is misconstrued for being blunt or rude.” Q7 – fill in the blank. “Before I leave this earth, I won’t be satisfied until I _____________.” Also a quick response, “Make the movie about my book.” (She is currently working on the screenplay, and might do a little shooting while on the Jersey Shore in April.)

Of course I asked about her fondest memory of the Jersey Shore. I knew her answer. I’ve been there with her and Scott a few times. “Sea Bright Pizza!” She continues, “And that will be the first thing I eat when I get back for the film fest. Wanna meet us for a slice of eggplant?”

There are interviews and interviews. I’ve done my share. Musically speaking of course, my time spent with Linda Chorney for this interview was rare, precious and beautiful. I can’t wait for Saturday, April 9th for the premiere of “The Opening Act” at the Asbury Park Music in Film Festival at the Salt Theater at noon.  She will do a little talk, a little singing and Q&A. Yes, it seems like old times having her and Scott back by the Atlantic Ocean making music and sharing passions.

Film, Festival Tickets are available at http://apmff.com/schedule-tickets/

 

“Opening Act” Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZypajZ6_sA

 

Linda Chorney website:  http://www.lindachorney.com

 

Calvin Schwartz  website:  vichywater.net

Facebook:  Cal Schwartz    and  Calvin Schwartz-Cerebral Writer

NJ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A Review of “IN THE GAME” An Unconventional Soccer Documentary  By John D’Amico  February 26, 2016 NJ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A Review of “IN THE GAME” An Unconventional Soccer Documentary By John D’Amico February 26, 2016(0)

NJ INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL: A Review of “IN THE GAME” An Unconventional Soccer Documentary By John D’Amico February 26, 2016

Editor’s Note: It was perfectly synchronistic that John reviewed a soccer film at the NJ International Film Festival. For the second straight year, NJ Discover provides the live TV broadcasts for Sky Blue FC, New Jersey’s professional Women’s Soccer team competing in the National Women’s Soccer League and playing their home games at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field.  http://www.skybluefc.com/ Calvin Schwartz

 

 

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 TheTab.com. John’s interests include politics, film, television, and hopes to become a professional film or television critic. Contact John:  jjdamico123@gmail.com.

 

‘Into the Game’ – An Interesting Soccer Documentary from NJ Film Festival at Rutgers

By John D’Amico

I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with ‘Into the Game’. Honestly, before I watched it, I knew nothing about it other than that it was a documentary feature. As it turns out, I found it to be a pleasant surprise.

‘Into the Game’ is a sports documentary that recently played at the Spring 2016 NJ Film Festival here at Rutgers(actually held during Winter 2016) It tells the story of several recent members of Chicago’s Kelly High School’s girls’ soccer team. The part of Chicago these girls live in, is a relatively poor area, and also made up of mostly Hispanics. The movie takes place over four years. And it actually focuses more on the girls and their coach than it does on the sport itself.

The film follows multiple members of the team over four years. And writer/director Maria Finitzo really gives the film a very cinematic feel. It felt kind of like watching a typical narrative/fiction movie. And I mean that as a good thing. It felt like I was watching a very well-made and entertaining story. And at the same time, the fact that I knew that these were real people gave it even more weight. When the girls talk about their frequent financial struggles, you really feel sympathetic for them. When they talk about what they’re going through with their education, you definitely relate to their struggles. When the film examines the racial and gender-based issues that the girls experience, you can really understand what they’re going through. Yes, the film takes a look at some of those social issues. But the focus here was more on the people themselves.

In fact, in addition to the young athletes, the movie also follows the team’s longtime coach. He seems like a pretty interesting person as well. You get the sense that he really has a lot of passion for the team. But the thing is, he’s not so much concerned about how many games they win. He’s more concerned about his team feeling like a family. He even says as much. He’s a very likable person that way.

If I had one criticism to make of this film, it would be that the pacing could have been a little bit better at times. Even with its relatively short runtime of 76 minutes, there were moments when I found myself getting bored. But overall, I still recommend checking this documentary out if you get the chance. I give it 7.5 out of 10. It’s very good.

 

 

 

In The Game – Maria Finitzo (Chicago, Illinois)   TRAILER:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uk231Azot6k

In the Game is not a conventional documentary about a scrappy, inner-city girls soccer team that wins a championship through hard work and persistence. Rather, it’s a documentary about race, class, and gender as seen through the lives of inner-city girls. But this is not just a film about a soccer team dealing with loss and economic hardship. It’s an exhilarating portrait of girls who are learning to win in life. 2015; 76 min. Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers)!

 

INFORMATION   New Jersey International Film Festival

Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center
Rutgers University Program in Cinema Studies
72 Lipman Drive   (#018 Loree Building – Douglass Campus)
New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08901-8525 U.S.A.
(848) 932-8482 phone (732) 932-1935 fax;
NJMAC@aol.com, NJMAC12@gmail.com  e-mail;
Web Site: www.njfilmfest.com


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