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For some time I’ve been contemplating the notion of developing a series of articles for NJ Discover spotlighting people here in New Jersey who become unforgettable and indelible in my journey to define the energy source of Jersey strong. This is that first article.

So where did I meet Maria Savarese?  At a local college art museum or bookstore on Route 18 or at a trendy Wi-Fi equipped coffee shop a few miles away from the bookstore? Actually we met on Facebook through the synchronicity and exigencies of social media; we probably had some of the same friends or perhaps Facebook nudged or poked one of us to friend the other. Well it happened; we friended and discovered; I like using the word ‘discover’ after all I write for NJ Discover. And there was Maria’s Facebook picture wall replete with her essence as a modern artist, young mother and breast cancer survivor.



Maria Savarese is a perfect spotlight personality. In our early days of friendship, strictly digital and fortified by our posts on Facebook walls, I began to notice her unique aura and zest for life. Her art intrigued. Exact chronology escapes me but after months of absorbing her art, suddenly one morning, we were talking on the phone; a logical inevitable extension of the phenomenon of Facebook friending. And more logical extensions; one morning Maria, Tara-Jean Vitale (my co-reporter at NJ Discover) and I were sitting at a diner in East Brunswick, coffee still steaming and eggs cooling, as our conversation took us deeply into Maria’s world of art and being a breast cancer survivor and how we could share her story;  a perfect depiction of Jersey Strong. Then a few months ago, I visited her studio just as an autumn chill was heralding Halloween.

She mostly grew up in Old Bridge and lives in Spotswood now where her studio is located. Actually the studio is a converted detached garage. When she first saw the hundred year old property, weeds had overgrown everything but she sensed it was all perfect just as she heard a woman playing a guitar on the other side of bushes and vines; their young daughters would become friends. Several times during our interview, she said, “a child is living inside me.” I understood that it was energy, spirit and exuberance (and a hint of innocence) reflected in her art which surrounded me. I reminded her about a Facebook picture of herself standing on a fallen tree perhaps 40 feet above a ravine and asked if she was scared. “Not at all; it was fun. It’s life.” Then she said, “to beat cancer is a gift. And I live my life now with that gift.”

She was originally from Flushing, Queens and took art lessons when she was eight and tried being a gymnast. “My hands always had to be busy so I made a lot of doll’s clothes. And I always see something inherent in things.”  Then I said, “I can easily see this energy inside you.” She added, “I made my prom dress in high school after I took sewing. It’s still hanging in my closet.”


Cut to adult times. Maria got a job working at the Flemington Craft Festival. “They helped me make jewelry, work with clay and ceramics. When I was at Brookdale College, I also learned pottery. And this summer I finally got my kiln.” Her smile is magic and effusive as she pointed, “my grandmother’s chest of draws is over there.” I commented on the vast array of materials and props in her studio. “Everything has a purpose. We should stop throwing things away. I’m like an environmental artist. I use things from the environment in my art which means I love to work in collages and mixed media.” Art drives her. She loves to bring families together, help children and make the world a better place. That certain smile persisted throughout our interview.

Maria talks about her daughter with more than pride; with amazement as her daughter reads and writes incessantly. “Emma is growing up.” Again her smile warmed the studio. I asked about her environmentalism. “I don’t use pesticides in my garden and love the Native American way of life.” Her work has appeared in an art exhibition in New Brunswick and in other galleries and has sold fast. A deep breath followed; a smile changed to introspection. “The main thing going forward for me is I’m looking for my art partner and looking for something different. And people are now finding me and my art.”


Maria recently started teaching at the Office of Aging in Spotswood. “I have a 90 year old student. “I work with clay with her and she loves it. I’m into give back and pay it forward and reaching into the community. I also worked at a camp last summer; the other end of the age spectrum.” During the winter she’ll be available for private lessons. I told her how much she inspires me just listening. “For a 38 year old young woman to be beat breast cancer and to have taken it on with such vigor and to continue expressing herself with art and to inspire her daughter is all so special to me.”

One of my favorite songs is ‘Reason to Believe.’ One of my reasons to believe in Maria’s art is a new expressive venture (more formal information after this article) called, “Grandma’s Purse.”  Inventiveness and creativity came together in a stunning vision. As Maria explained to me, “What if a grandmother passes suddenly and the relatives are confronted with deep loss and a need to remember and remind. So they call me in and I learn and feel as much about the person as I can. Then I go through her purse (and wherever else) and retrieve personal and sensitive items. I go introspective and see things. I gather together pieces of a life. And it becomes a collage of loving personal memories of that Grandma.”  I thought it all brilliant as people can commission Maria to create this art. Better yet,  they get a chance to meet her as I have.


We walked around her yard. She loves animals. I think they love her. A group of squirrels were nearby. They’re regulars there. Her two small puppies greeted my shoes.  I asked Maria what inspires; “Teaching, communicating, being in the moment when something triggers an idea. Working with senior citizens and young children,”  “And what about your art goals?” “I would love my art to be understood and appreciated and for it to be in more current shows. It’s not about money but about being who you are and not afraid.”  Maria also just finished learning to weld to broaden her reach as an artist. Back inside the studio she showed me her mixed media work, “Motherboard” which I loved and then a vintage functioning cash register brought over from her father’s restaurant in Greenwich Village. I could easily sense her passionate pride.

A particular painting kept catching my eye. I beheld a self-portrait of Maria; intense, contemplative and hypnotic; I wondered what she was thinking when she painted it. I forgot to ask her. I did ask if we could talk about her battle with breast cancer. “It started 2 ½ years ago when I discovered it. It was attacked aggressively in a month with surgery. And I beat it. There are lessons to be learned. You have to be diligent with your body. I was 35 years old. Who would have ever thought I was a candidate. But I know you have to take care of yourself. It’s a powerful lesson for my young daughter to be aware as she gets older.” It was a good time to ask who her life’s heroes are. “Ellen Degeneres; she represents strength, inspiration, life and change for so many people. Then she makes you smile and laugh as well.”  My thought process told me that’s exactly what Maria Savarese does to people in her world; provide strength and inspiration. Kind of like a complete circle and a good place to shut off my reporter’s microphone/recorder.

What’s also important here is to provide all the contact information for Maria and her art.

Facebook: Maria Savarese(Mia)

Website:   Of course check this site out for a panoply of Maria’s art.

AND NOW HERE’S AN INTRODUCTION AND OFFERING OF MARIA’S “GRANDMA’S PURSE” COMMISSIONED ART. Yes you can commission her to create and preserve personal memories of loved ones.



As a journalist covering art, (and music, environment and hunger) here in Central Jersey, I’ve had numerous opportunities to absorb the aura of local and global artists including yesterday’s wondrous discovery of Middlesex County artist, Maria Savarese.

I observed her passion to create multi-media art (she works in paint, pottery, collages and welding) which translates to expressions from deep within her spirited soul. When she showed me some of her introspective collages, one in particular called ‘Mother Board,’   our concentric circles of commonality came together. We talked for a long time in her studio. As a journalist, now enthralled with her art, zest for life, everything I saw in her studio and immediate world, I asked if she would ever consider doing special commissioned work on a limited basis. Maria then excitedly told me about her dream to create art which she called “Grandma’s Purse.”  She went on to explain.

“Imagine a grandmother passing away and the family gathering very personal belongings, even items from her purse and then they contact me. We get together and I learn as much as I can about the loved one. I study their photographs and begin to feel and sense things.  I talk to the family for a long time. It’s an in depth interview. With my feelings and sensibilities gathered and the loved one’s belongings, I can create a warm enduring collage or other artistic expression of tribute to their loved one. Of course, it’s time consuming and intricate.  But it’s a precious loving way to preserve and enhance memories.  So yes, I would entertain commissioned projects.”

I’ve done my journalistic due diligence writing about this extraordinary affordable opportunity to personally commission an artist, Maria Savarese, for family remembrances.

You can begin to feel and see the energy of Maria Savarese on Facebook and at her website. Give her a call or email.

Website:   you can friend Maria on Facebook: Maria Savarese   Facebook: Mia Art

Phone:  732-353- 6681




Calvin Schwartz, writer, NJ

December 30, 2013


Mike Marino, New Jersey’s Bad Boy of Comedy is Back in NJ for One Night Only with The Paul Marino Band and Emily Grove. Saturday Night October 19th. A Very Special Night! Forum Theatre, Metuchen, NJ by Calvin Schwartz Mike Marino, New Jersey’s Bad Boy of Comedy is Back in NJ for One Night Only with The Paul Marino Band and Emily Grove. Saturday Night October 19th. A Very Special Night! Forum Theatre, Metuchen, NJ by Calvin Schwartz(1)

Mike Marino, New Jersey’s Bad Boy of Comedy is Back in NJ for One Night Only with The Paul Marino Band and Emily Grove. Saturday Night October 19th. A Very Special Night! Forum Theatre, Metuchen, NJ  By Calvin Schwartz




Hey Folks,

I’ll be performing ONE NIGHT ONLY at the FORUM THEATRE ARTS CENTER (314 Main St., Metuchen, NJ 08840) featuring the PAUL MARINO BAND!

This is a special fundraiser for the JP Stevens Baseball Teams! So please come and join me and support these kids!

For tickets go to or purchase at Civile E Tomoato Restaurant (140 Durham Ave., Metuchen, NJ 08840; 732-548-7740).

Hope to see you there!


PS: In the meantime check out my latest and greatest work on youtube:




When I heard that Mike Marino was coming back, I cleared my calendar quickly and began letting integral parts of my world know that they need to laugh for obvious reasons; like all the ‘closed’ signs on government buildings. So perfect timing that Mike is back in his home state and joining him is The Paul Marino Band with Emily Grove. Coincidentally, I saw Paul Marino Band twice this summer in Belmar and wrote that “it was a little piece of heaven” to be listening to them perform with a Jersey shore setting sun just over shoulder.  I  love their sound.

I’ve got a 15 month history of being a huge fan of Mike Marino and the thought just occurred to me that back last May, I wrote an interesting article about Mike and my being a comedic snob and how extraordinarily funny and refreshing his humor is. So a bright bulb just went on in my left cerebral corner; why don’t I share that article again, right here on this stage. Oh and I’ve been lucky this past summer to catch Mike a few times including his hosting the 2nd Annual Asbury Park Comedy Festival.




Now my May article:

“Mike Marino is the consummate comedian; he just makes you laugh non-stop and with timely topics (I’ll explain shortly) I discovered ‘New Jersey’s Bad Boy of Comedy’ in 2012 at ‘Asbury Park Comedy Festival.’  And I said to myself “he’s one of the funniest comedians I’ve ever seen.” Point being, I’m simply a ‘comedic snob.’ Comedy is a gift and a special art form. Back in the sixties, I discovered Lenny Bruce, one of comedy’s greatest pioneers and innovators, albeit quite controversial because society was not ready for his bad words and bits. I’ve been a fan of Lenny’s ever since and ironically the Asbury Comedy Festival benefited the Lenny Bruce Foundation in 2012.

How perfect the synchronicity to catch Mike Marino that night for the first time. We had a chance to talk back stage afterwards; I marveled at his graciousness, affability and accessibility.  A few weeks later, Mike called and invited me to a gig at an experimental comedy club in Hoboken; once again he just made me laugh and laugh. He’s a cool, smooth and endearing guy with some of the best material I’ve ever heard.




Now here’s where it all gets interesting. Some of Mike’s routines I’ve actually used in a comedic way (giving him all the credit) and sometimes I go introspective and realize Mike Marino is also a genius and clairvoyant, almost with the gift of the ‘shining.’  So what do I mean by this. Mike’s comedy is so relevant and futuristic, it can be used by current politicians to propel them into major office; yes a provocative thought and so therefore I challenge my readers to catch Mike’s act, put on your thinking caps and imagination gowns and drift into the land of Honah Lee or some Jersey shore jetty or on Main Street in Metuchen.

I hope this was challenging enough for you to catch Mike on the 19th. That’s how funny this Jersey bad boy of comedy is. And take my cerebral challenge to see how certain politicians in a new evolving world should laugh and listen to Mike Marino at the same time. Wow, powerful stuff. Mike is a fascinating comedic innovator.”

Calvin Schwartz


Hal Sparks – Up Close & Personal.  VIDEO Interview in Asbury Park, NJ Hal Sparks – Up Close & Personal. VIDEO Interview in Asbury Park, NJ(0)

Hal Sparks! Up Close & Personal! NJDiscover’s backstage interview –  from the Annual Asbury Park Comedy Festival.

Stay Tuned at for more interviews to come!!!



Tent City in Lakewood. The Movie Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’  A Movie Review and Personal Journey to Involvement. Premiere August 7th at Two River Theater in Red Bank   By Calvin Schwartz  August 1st 2013 Tent City in Lakewood. The Movie Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’ A Movie Review and Personal Journey to Involvement. Premiere August 7th at Two River Theater in Red Bank By Calvin Schwartz August 1st 2013(4)

Tent City in Lakewood. The Movie Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’  A Movie Review and Personal Journey to Involvement. Premiere August 7th at Two River Theatre in Red Bank   By Calvin Schwartz  August 1st 2013



Right off the top of my frontal lobe, I need to say that this amazing documentary by filmmaker Jack Ballo, ‘Destiny’s Bridge,’ where he spent a year of his life recording the lives of the homeless in Lakewood, is having its world premiere at Two River Theater in Red Bank, New Jersey on August 7th.

Journeys to sensitivity and understanding sometimes begin innocently with little fanfare and symphonies. On Easter Sunday 2012, I attended a concert of awareness for the people of Tent City in Lakewood passionately put together by Rosemary Conte. With my son, we filmed the event for NJ Discover. I had no concept of what Tent City was and the fact that around 100 humans were living in tents for years without electricity, heat or basic amenities because Ocean County has no shelters for the homeless. Tent City was 24 minutes from where I’ve lived for 24 years but that didn’t register in my frontal lobe. While listening to the music close to the staging area, a bus of Tent City residents arrived at the far end of the plaza for food and clothing donations. Minister Stephen Brigham brought the tent residents in his yellow school bus; that scene was still far away from me in several ways. I stayed with my son but saw people holding empty plates waiting on a food line. An image of President Herbert Hoover’s Great Depression flashed across my unsympathetic retina. Close to the musicians I remained.  It seemed the thing to do. When I got home that night, I forgot about the hungry homeless and talked to my family about the special Jersey musicians I heard for the first time.




Cut to January. Hurricane Sandy relief concerts were happening all over the Garden State. My past written words of support and admiration for Rosemary Conte and her wondrous musical and life contributions caught up to her; we became friends. She invited me to cover a Sandy benefit concert at McCloone’s in Asbury Park for NJ Discover. I interviewed her and then came an introduction to Sherry Rubel, concert organizer, photographer extraordinaire and Tent City activist.










Now it’s February. I’m at a place for coffee and conversation on a busy highway in East Brunswick, N.J with Sherry Rubel. Two weeks later on a very cold sunny day, Tara-Jean Vitale (NJ Discover producer) and I met Sherry across the street from the entrance to Tent City in Lakewood. We were packing TV cameras and microphones for our day in a new world. Patches of pure white snow from the night before looked like special effects. The dirt road was frozen; so was I emotionally. A thin veil of disbelief at my surroundings settled subtly around me. It was numbing; humans in the second richest state in America existing like this. Then I met Angelo, an endearing eloquent resident who invited me into his tent, briefly excusing himself, while I stood immobile and incredulous on how cold it was in the tent.  He went outside to chop wood for the wood burning stove which was not warming the tent well.  His bed was made perfectly. At that moment, in such brutal cold, where humans sleep and exist in the Lakewood winter, I thought about never being quite the same again. And I’m not. Something inside me aches (a soul?) from being overwhelmed. An hour later we interviewed Minister Stephen Brigham, a twelfth generation American. Illuminating and inspiring to us, he’s been devoting much of an adult lifetime to the cause of ‘Destiny’s Bridge;’ a journey to finding suitable and dignified housing in a self-sustainable community of homeless humans. I like using the term ‘humans.’

It’s not within the scope of this article to do self-intestinal excavation and journalizing my time at Tent City.  But a few months later, I was back there with filmmaker Jack Ballo and had a chance to meet residents and talk and listen. Uncovering his wealth of character and poignancy, I met Michael, a long time Tent City resident with his wife Marilyn. He was able to bring a piano from his home before it was lost and kept it under a tarp like on a baseball field in a rainstorm. He played Beethoven and Procul Harum, ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ for me. Enamored and drawn to his depth and warmth, I drifted far away standing close to Michael; I was still numb from months earlier at Tent City. It was cloudy and mild this day; easier for Michael and all the residents to sleep at night. But it is all hard; a very hard rain. I need to yell; maybe it will help me understand how and why in 2013 here in New Jersey this exists. Everything I saw that day after listening to Michael play the piano was visually a whiter shade of pale; hard to explain; perhaps a perfect segue to review the documentary, ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’





I’m not a Siskel or Ebert. On the other hand, I have evolved over my tech noir years of ‘Casablanca,’ ‘From Here to Eternity,’ ‘On the Waterfront;’ where perhaps I’m now a contender to talk about movies. Part of the evolution side effect is a bit of snobbish attitude to viewing movies; can’t waste time watching ineptitude in film making and storytelling. Movie making is an art form and a great gift. The works of quintessential movie makers fascinate me. I’ll notice eye-brows moving and the wispy windy sounds of a tree next to a window as two characters are staring at the moon. I take it all in; pure cinematic absorption. I need to learn, emote and feel. Looking back, motion pictures have helped congeal my views of the world and changed my life. Watching ‘Casablanca’ for the 44th time some years ago formed the basis of my first novel.

So when I previewed the movie ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ a few weeks ago, I found myself instantly riveted into the world of Tent City. My emotional ties developed quickly with the residents; sensitive caring humans looking for dignity and respect in a cold world. Jack Ballo seamlessly weaves their stories and interconnectivity of existence; how they depend on one another. I can say it was beautiful film making; vivid photography heightened the stark reality. You will learn about the harsh human condition of homelessness from this documentary.

Yes, it is an exquisite film which means sensitive, emotional, real and poignant.  Back to my being a snob about movies; I’ve since watched it again. You may need to do the same; the film delivers a powerful message about homelessness and Minister Stephen Brigham’s vision for a future. Then Jack Ballo’s treatise on the lives of some of the people; you grow fond and bond with them, maybe wanting to reach out and help. You care about their lives. The film is beautiful because it makes you feel something inside. It evokes. I love when I’m evoked to emote by a film.

It was a painstaking meticulous project for Ballo; a year of his life for the desire to make a difference. I look at myself right now at this point in time somewhere in a universe. ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ has innervated and moved me; therefore a brilliant work. There’s sadness in the final scene looking down from high above; in some ways leaving that homeless world below but also heralding an awareness that much needs to be done.  All my above criteria for good movie making have been met; I call it a contender. Here’s thanking and looking at you Jack Ballo.





Important Links:






Advance online tickets for the film premiere of Destiny’s Bridge are nearly sold out!!

Best you order yours before the end of today. ($12 at the door) Wed. Aug. 7, 7p.m., Two River Theater, Red Bank. So much art & culture for such a low price!!

6:30 – lobby exhibit of photography by Sherry Rubel

7:00 – showing of this beautiful and important documentary “Destiny’s Bridge”

8:20 – Q & A; Introduction to the audience to filmmaker Jack Ballo, Univision Films; Minister Steve Brigham, and residents of Tent City featured in the film. Emcee is Dr. Michael Paul Thomas, Monmouth University.

8:45 – Reception, wine & cheese, piano music by Michael, a Tent City resident.

Photos for all on the Red Carpet.



DANNY COLEMAN from ‘ROCK ON RADIO’ and ‘THE TRENTONIAN’ (A Review) ‘Rock On! Matt Bogart of ‘Jersey Boys’ in New Show’, “Himself and Nora” at Union County Performing Arts   May 6, 2013 DANNY COLEMAN from ‘ROCK ON RADIO’ and ‘THE TRENTONIAN’ (A Review) ‘Rock On! Matt Bogart of ‘Jersey Boys’ in New Show’, “Himself and Nora” at Union County Performing Arts May 6, 2013(0)

DANNY COLEMAN from ‘ROCK ON RADIO’ and ‘THE TRENTONIAN’  (A Review) “Rock On! Matt Bogart of ‘Jersey Boys’ in New Show, “Himself and Nora”    May 6, 2013

As the wide world of NJ Discover expands its range, coverage and commitment to elevation of the people and places in our state, from time to time we’d like to welcome contributors to our website. And most appropriately our first such guest writer is Danny Coleman. Why appropriate?  Last summer, I visited Danny Coleman’s Rock on Radio Show and wrote about that adventure. Here’s the link to article:

Danny is the quintessential radio host and disc jockey at Rock on Radio as well as entertainment writer for ‘The Trentonian.’  I’ve been to several of his live radio shows and marvel at his versatility and depth. And he’s just a lot of purist fun to be around. We spoke the other day. He was thrilled to cover Matt Bogart’s (from ‘Jersey Boys’) appearance at the Union County Performing Arts Center performance in ‘Himself and Nora.’  And we decided to spread the word here about Matt Bogart and his great show. Here’s Danny’s article from ‘The Trentonian.’    Calvin  Schwartz




Rock On! Matt Bogart of ‘Jersey Boys’ in New Show, “Himself and Nora”  By Danny Coleman  For The Trentonian

Sometimes I get an opportunity to interview someone that I just can’t pass up. Such is the case with this week’s subject, Matt Bogart. Some of you who have seen the Broadway play “Jersey Boys” may know him better from the role that he portrays in that production; that of the Four Seasons “Nick Massi the bass player.”

Bogart is taking a three week break from the bright lights of Broadway to star in the Union County Performing Arts Center’s Hamilton Stage musical production of “Himself And Nora.” Bogart plays the lead role of “Himself” a.k.a. Irish novelist James Joyce, whose drinking binges and rough style, along with his twenty nine year relationship with his chamber maid Nora Barnacle, led to his/their exile from Ireland and “condemnation of the Catholic church.”

Jessica Burrows plays the role of Nora, Joyce’s chamber maid, partner, lover and inspiration for nearly three decades. The play, the work of composer/writer Jonathan Brielle is directed by Michael Bush and has been so well received that “Talk Entertainment” called it, “exciting and truly an affair to remember!”

Bogart, who has been acting since high school, is the married father of two young children, one of the stars of “Jersey Boys” and a twenty year veteran of the stage. He has appeared in “Miss Saigon” as well as numerous other productions and is very excited about his latest undertaking, “I’ve been doing “Jersey Boys” since 2008, I’ve raised my family on it; it’s kind of like “Goodfellas” the musical (laughs). This, I think that this show is very special to me, it’s a challenging role. We are so glad to be bringing this to the stage. We’ve done it at the New York Theater Festival after we had first did a reading of it and five performances in Dublin Ireland. They don’t get musicals in Ireland that often so it went well, they were very interested in the form of it all. I really feel that this current production is the strongest adaptation yet.”

Calling “Himself And Nora” a “love story,” Bogart elaborated on his thoughts and what the audiences can expect once inside the theater. “To me, this is a love story. It’s a love story where the artist finds his inspiration through his lover, who is also his muse and becomes one of the greatest writers of all time. He (Joyce) found that the way she spoke and their interactions inspired and at times frustrated him but contributed to his writing. This is a musical, we dance a bit but not too much. It’s also the first show by the American Music Group in this brand new theater so we are all looking forward to it.”

Buoyed by the strength of the cast, writer and director, Bogart wasn’t looking ahead of this production’s current run when he spoke of his hopes for the future. “We are looking and hoping to move to Broadway,” he said. “I think it’s definitely ready. We’re currently looking for investors. This whole production has been great. The theater here in Rahway is modeling itself after the rebirth of Asbury Park, it’s remarkable. We have such a great cast, Jessica Burrows is a beautiful, incredible actress and with (Michael) Bush and Jonathan (Brielle) as the director and composer and writer; yes, I think it’s ready.”




Within that, Bogart seemed shocked that I admitted to having not seen “Jersey Boys” and he jokingly gave me some minor good natured ribbing. “You have to go see it,” he said. “It’s a great show, just don’t go in the next three weeks because I’ll be here; wait until I return, then come see it (laughs).”

“Himself And Nora” is currently running through May 12 at the Union County PAC on The Hamilton Stage located at 360 Hamilton Street Rahway. Ticket prices range from $30 for the Wed./Thurs. shows to $35 for Friday thru Sunday performances; students and seniors are only $20. To obtain more information and tickets, please go to    .

LECTURE REVIEW:  Kenneth T. Jackson : Newark’s Decline and Resurgence in the 20th Century as Lessons for Urban America. Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. April 25th  A REVIEW by Calvin Schwartz LECTURE REVIEW: Kenneth T. Jackson : Newark’s Decline and Resurgence in the 20th Century as Lessons for Urban America. Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. April 25th A REVIEW by Calvin Schwartz(2)

LECTURE:  Kenneth T. Jackson : Newark’s Decline and Resurgence in the 20th Century as Lessons for Urban America. Rutgers Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. April 25th  A REVIEW by Calvin Schwartz


The moment I saw Newark as the subject of a lecture, I knew the winds of relevance would take me there. I was born and lived in Newark for 20 years and stay relatively active in the alumni association of Weequahic High School where I graduated in the early sixties. I marvel at the good fortune of living 14 traffic lights from a major university, Rutgers, which affords the curious searching mind a never ending source of stimulation and knowledge via its academic offerings to the community.

The lecture was called “Newark’s Decline and Resurgence in the 20th Century as Lessons for Urban America: The Rise, Fall, and Recovery of a Great Metropolis, 1916-2016.” Kenneth T. Jackson, Professor of History at Columbia University spoke and mesmerized. The lecture was sponsored by the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life and Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and was held at Special Events Forum at the Civic Square Building in New Brunswick. And it was completely booked and the overflow was sent to a third floor video feed. Professor Jackson asked for a show of hands who graduated from Weequahic High in Newark; I was one of many who raised hands. And to my surprise and purist joy, the woman sitting directly behind asked at lecture’s end if I really went to Weequahic. I remembered Roz instantly; we were classmates right through the Cuban missile crisis and we hugged at our random chance meeting. My night and month and beyond were made.





Professor Jackson journeyed the lecture through world city’s histories. Venice was a major commerce and shipping center; then not.  Athens was a major city; then not; same with Vienna, Liverpool and Glasgow and our Detroit. But Newark had everything going for it; at the 250th (1666 to 1916) commemorative it was thought Newark could become a global leading city with major centers of manufacturing, a port that could’ve been the busiest in the world, an airport that was the busiest in the country at one time and even a minor league baseball team in 1937, the Newark Bears, that is considered the best of all time.

Throughout its history, there was a failure of leadership and vision. Newark was small; 21 square miles of which five miles was swamp. Newark was so small compared to Los Angeles with its 400 square miles. And when opportunities existed to annex local towns like Harrison, Kearny or Nutley, Newark’s leaders faltered and never acted. Newark is still small and those other places became cities of their own. But there have been effective leaders too; Charles Cummings, Bob Curvin and Cory Booker.







Newark had the perfect storm of contributing factors of urban decline including the riots back in 1967. There have been notable examples of cities coming back and reinventing like Hoboken did. Professor Jackson was optimistic that Newark could come back despite former Mayor Ken Gibson’s dire statement, that wherever America was going, Newark would get there first. Jackson eloquently discussed his four ingredients to bring back an urban city from decline.

Firstly, reduce crime. Secondly, attract more immigrants. Thirdly, welcome the Gay community and artists. Finally, promote outdoor restaurants. People sitting on the street dining sends a message that people are not afraid to walk around. He cited the explosion of outdoor restaurants on New York City’s Columbus Avenue and its concomitant resurgence.

Everything Professor Jackson talked about fascinated me. I’m a big fan of pinching my arm unobtrusively as a satisfying realization of “look where I am.” A question and answer period followed; the mostly older audience (I felt on the younger side of the scale) peppered comments, praises and questions mostly about their home Weequahic section. A bountiful reception followed. What really impressed me was the availability of the faculty of the Bildner Center and Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy. I had a chance to talk at length to Professor Yael Zerubavel, Donald S.Sutton, Assistant Dean for External Affairs, Stuart Meck, Associate Research Professor and Director, Center for Planning Practice and Karyn Olsen, Director of Communications. You have to know me; I love engaging academia and the Rutgers faculty was accommodating and hugely generous with their time.  The moderately dry Riesling wine satisfied. The lights were dimming in the atrium and doors were locked and I was still chatting with Stuart Meck. Therefore it was a magical night at Rutgers and my exhortation to readers about future programs here; “get off your sedentary sofa.”

Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy:

Calvin Schwartz:      Facebook:  Cal Schwartz







My favorite subject all throughout my New Jersey roots and schooling has been history.  Lance Larson is part of our musical heritage and rock and roll history here in New Jersey and most notably Asbury Park. So when part of history gets a special opportunity to celebrate a 60th Birthday as Lance is doing this Saturday March 2nd at the Wonder Bar, then it’s incumbent on those who treasure and savor being part of living history to be there. The occasion also gives me a chance to remind readers to get off the sedentary sofa and absorb New Jersey.

Lance’s history and sound is unique; I love that he’s hung around with the likes of Springsteen and Bon Jovi and so many other legends. Lance is a legend. Back in 1974 Lance formed an amazing band, ‘Lord Gunner’ which became the house band at the Stone Pony. There’s a magical quality of true grit to his sound; reminds me of a John Wayne character in real life; every time I’ve seen and talked to him I think of the ‘Duke.’  As a musical showman he captivated his audience and still does.  Back in the day, his band opened for the likes of Sly and the Family Stone and I like the march of time (history) as bands such as Jon Bon Jovi and the Smithereens opened for Lance’s band.  History is the theme of my article here.  Lance Larson is such a part of the rocking history for those who love and cherish our music. I wouldn’t miss this night.








What also moves me about Lance was his 2008 album project called ‘’Songs for the Soldier’ which was a musical tribute to his father and all WWII servicemen. More legendary Lance.  This list of notables who performed on this project include Jon Bon Jovi, Bobby Bandiera,  Garry Tallent, Richie Sambora; and so many more. More legendary Lance; he even involved a local Asbury Park choir.








Lance is part of Asbury Park musical history.  He once mentioned British invasion music as what helped mold him; Beatles, Dave Clark Five; that reeled me in; part of my molecular music origins. Lance’s historical journey also helped revive the Wonder Bar with Debbie De Lisa and made it an iconic musical part of Asbury Park’s renaissance.  The renaissance fascinates me. A few weeks ago I went to the opening of the Asbury Park Musical Heritage Foundation on Cookman Avenue with a myriad of rich history on display. From the rocky jetty(of my mind), looking out on the Atlantic Ocean across the street, I had one of my many epiphanies; Asbury Park is surely headed now to become a global musical destination with the likes of Nashville and Memphis. And Lance Larson is such a vital part of that destination.






Saturday night’s birthday party features performances by the Eddie Testa Band, Tommy Byrne and Onto Something and of course Lance Larson. Acoustical opening by Chelsea Carlson.  Doors open at 8:00 PM and Showtime is at 9:00 PM. Admission is $10.00. Ages 21 and up are admitted.

Tommy Byrne from ‘Onto Something’ had this to say to me, “It’s an absolute honor to be able to play on Saturday for a Jersey Shore pioneer. Being the new kid on the block here in Asbury and having Lance and Debbie support my band is truly remarkable. I look forward to sharing the stage with my great band Onto Something and hopefully Lance as well. I learn from guys like Lance and look up to him for what he’s done. Eddie Testa and I are ready for a 60th Rock and Roll party.”

See you Saturday.





Calvin Schwartz

Facebook:  Cal Schwartz    and Calvin Schwartz-Cerebral Writer

twitter:  @earthood



The “Right Path” Always Leads to “2nd Chances”   NJ Filmmaker Nick Scochemaro The “Right Path” Always Leads to “2nd Chances” NJ Filmmaker Nick Scochemaro(1)

 The Right Path Always Leads to Second Chances

by TaraJean Vitale


Finding “The Right Path” always leads to “2nd Chances”, and with New Jersey-based filmmaker and father of three Nick Scochemaro, this could not be truer. His inspiring journey of redemption from the Bronx Mafia to a man whose only dream is to spiritually save lives has motivated him to create numerous award-winning films. After his successful film “Mourning on Charlotte Street”, Winner of Best Short Film in the NY International Film Festival and Winner of the Best Short Film in the Artisan Festival International, he wrote directed and acted in the seven minute film: “The Right Path.” This film was honored with the award for Best Short Documentary in the NY Independent Film Festival. Moreover, Nick, also known by his friends as “Little Scooch”, believing deeply in the relentless pursuit of his dreams is currently producing his next Feature Film “2nd Chances.”


Back in the 1980’s Nick was well known in his Bronx neighborhood for being a tough kid who was always ready for a fight. His parents were divorced. His father was in jail because of ties to the mafia and his mother had to work two jobs to provide for Nick and his older brother and sister. Despite the ceaseless prayers of his Aunt Gracie, his brother and sister became involved in the local gangs that roamed the streets. Nick, the youngest sibling, was left to fend for himself in a broken family. His frustration and anger began to consume him, yet under all this turmoil was a young boy who had lost hope.

Dropping out of High School at 17 years old, Nick went to work, using his stepfather’s connections and joining the Union. Although he felt that earning a paycheck would satisfy him, he carried the torment of depression with him like the cross. Nick finally reached a point where thoughts of ending the pain with suicide consumed him. His short documentary, “The Right Path” portrays how one incredible moment changed his entire life. Recognizing he could not do it alone, he turned to God with a plea for help. Nick explains, “I released all my worldly control and gave all fears over to God.” After his story was released in the Film Festivals, Nick learned that it impacted many people’s lives and gave them hope and direction.

Focused on his creative vision and his desire to share his story, Nick won’t slow down; he wishes to encourage more people to believe in their greater purpose. He wants to help people find their strength to persevere through hardships and discover where they can find divine guidance.

After starring in numerous films, finishing a missionary trip to Melilla, Africa with 4 years of footage and many personal trials to test his faith, Nick “Little Scooch’s” incredible drive has led him to his present venture “2nd Chances”. This Feature Film tells a story about three people who encounter pain and tragedy that push them to the brink of collapse. A child loses a father, a teenager’s dream is crushed and a nurse’s life is shattered. Each one decides that their only escape is through the act of suicide. This screenplay, written by Kevin Crowley and directed by Frank M. Calo will be filmed and cast in New Jersey in April 2013 and released in May 2013. Nick Scochemaro also has plans to produce a Christian Internet Television Station in the future. He is a man whose faith and trust in his guidance from God has led him to divine encounters with people who have aided him in accomplishing his true purpose in life. “God is working miracles everyday in my life, and God is doing working miracles all over the world. People just need to recognize them,” Nick Scochemaro.



Mourning On Charlotte Street is presently casting for it’s New York City Showcase.  Visit their website for more information:,


Contact Nick Scochemaro #973-769-2625




FACES & PLACES – Musicians & Friends in Asbury Park 2013 (Video) FACES & PLACES – Musicians & Friends in Asbury Park 2013 (Video)(1)

At The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ Discover & WCTC Radio spend an afternoon with dedicated musicians and friends who have joined to support the efforts for Light Of Day 2013.

This is our tribute to some of the great friends and musicians we have met along the way….

Willie Nile, Marc Ribler, Reagan Richards, Tony Pallagrosi, Beverley Beveridge, Sandy Mack, Kyle Brendle, Bert Baron, Eric Greene, Arlan Feiles, Arne Wendt, Emily Grove, James Dalton, Johnny Pasano, Matt Hogan, Joe D’Urso, Bob Benjamin, Cindy Ferrier, Laura Crisci, Anne Lucille McGlynn, Ashley Cambridge and more!

Song: “Give Me Tomorrow” Willie Nile, Album: House of Thousand Guitars



Article FACES & PLACES “Musicians & Friends”

Faces & Places: Musicians & Friends –   Produced by TaraJean Vitale & Calvin Schwartz



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