COMEDIAN MIKE MARINO: ‘Up Close and Personal’ Concert July 29th Paramount Asbury Park by Calvin Schwartz(0)
COMEDIAN MIKE MARINO: ‘Up Close and Personal’ Concert July 29th Paramount Asbury Park by Calvin Schwartz
Mike Marino is coming back home to New Jersey and Asbury Park’s Paramount Theater on July 29th for ‘Up Close and Personal;’ a special backstage event with limited seating. But imagine being a few rows away from Mike and his incisive hysterical humor. The intimacy with Mike right there almost in your face like he’s in your den with a wet bar nearby, is priceless. Therefore, not to be missed. What could be better than the Jersey Shore, Asbury Park, Paramount, smell of ocean air, a myriad of food places to discover and the Bad Boy of Comedy; indeed, a mid-summer night’s dream. Thanks for coming home Mike.
I’ve been a huge fan of Mike Marino for the last four years since I first met him at the Asbury Park Comedy Festival. 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 unique 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, my being a comedic snob, countless times looking at Mike on stage, 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. Remember his concerts are a comedic happening especially when he’s back home in front of a Jersey audience.
Calvin Schwartz 6-20-17 4:44PM
A PORTION OF THE PROCEEDS BENEFIT HOMETOWN HEROES
Mike Marino’s Official BIO:
Mike Marino – affectionately known to thousands of his fans as New Jersey’s Bad Boy – is one of the most unique comics of our time. He has performed in every major comedy club from New York to Los Angeles including: The MGM Grand, Catch a Rising Star, The Comic Strip, Stand Up NY, The Improv, Rascals and The Icehouse. Mike, who has worked with some of the biggest names in the business, can be seen nightly as a top headliner at both the world famous Laugh Factory and The Comedy Store in Hollywood.
Mike was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. He entered the world of theatre at an early age, and is a graduate of the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Mike has appeared in over 200 national television commercials, and has received a Best Actor Clio Award Nomination. He has acted in many Prime Time soaps and television shows including: As the World Turns, One Life to Live, Becker, Nikki, Frasier and Party of Five. His film credits include Crooks, Pizza with Bullets, Hangin’ in Hedo and Steven King’s Lucky Quarter.
MIKE’S CONTACT INFO
ROCK STAR CLOTHING INC.COM
SURVEILLANCE 24 SURVEILLANCE 24
Carmine’s Pizza Factory
366 8th Street (Brunswick St. & 8th St.)
ALSO MIKE MARINO CONTINUES HIS JERSEY SHORE APPEARANCES on AUG 7 at 8:30 PM
201 Engleside Avenue
Beach Haven, NJ 08008
FEEL GOOD STUFF: Holiday Season, Steven Levine (WindMill) Christmas & Birthday Party at VFW Asbury Park with Jersey Shore Dream Center. December 12, 2016 by Calvin Schwartz(0)
FEEL GOOD STUFF: Holiday Season, Steven Levine (WindMill) Christmas & Birthday Party at VFW Asbury Park with Jersey Shore Dream Center. December 12, 2016 by Calvin Schwartz
A long title for this article. Yesterday afternoon, I attended this special party for a few hundred people in Asbury Park at the holiday decorated VFW Hall. My party assignment for the dinner was helping to wrap a few hundred forks and knives in a napkin. Now, I feel compelled to say a few words about the caring and compassion of the birthday boy, Steven Levine, who turned a robust energetic 65 years old on Sunday.
Steven Levine, of the iconic WindMill Restaurants along the Jersey Shore has always found ways to help, feed and make a lot of people feel good. I’ve seen him bring his WindMill Restaurants on wheels to the Jersey Shore Dream Center, working with a devoted Pastor Isaac Friedel, to feed needy people around holiday time. Sunday was no exception but even with a larger undertaking. He’s simply a good soul with a long history of good deeds, much of which goes unnoticed or unwritten about. It’s called modesty. Many don’t know (I’m a journalist, so I do) that he even fed a lot of people after Hurricane Sandy when all shore business evaporated or was destroyed.
Sunday’s event was that 65th Birthday Party, a Christmas Party for the local NJ Shore communities served by the Jersey Shore Dream Center, coupled with their Toy Shoppe giveaway of toys for needy kids. The toy drive was also supported by Asbury Park police. I watched a few hundred people enjoy a full dinner, dessert, music by the kids from Lakeland Music, toys and a raffle. Steven’s daughter Amy, proprietor of ‘Taste the Cakes,’ baked the six-foot birthday cake.
Some of my seasonal thoughts at this Christmas time of year; notions of sugar plums dancing; a Currier and Ives painting of a snow covered roof and smoky chimney; Lionel locomotives whistling, Kris Kringle singing a Dutch Christmas song while a young Natalie Wood listens in the movie ‘Miracle on 34th Street;’ Alastair Sim, the only movie Scrooge I ever watched, telling the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, that he’s too old to change; listening to Pavarotti sing ‘Adeste Fideles,’ or seeing Ralphie’s pure joy on getting that toy rifle Christmas morning. It’s also very special for me to take a few deep inhalations and see people absorbed in the spirit of the season of giving. So Steven Levine, thanks for the memories and the joy you spread.
For more info: http://jerseyshoredreamcenter.org/
SPECIAL COMING ATTRACTION: Lisa Sherman, ‘Broadway and Beyond’ with Kristin Cochran and Academy Award Winner Frank Previte. McCloone’s Supper Club Nov 25th 2016 by Calvin Schwartz 10-26-16(0)
SPECIAL COMING ATTRACTION: Lisa Sherman, ‘Broadway and Beyond’ with Kristin Cochran and Academy Award Winner Frank Previte. McCloone’s Supper Club Nov 25th 2016 by Calvin Schwartz 10-26-16
In the world of central Jersey music, there are a proliferate number of shows/concerts/tributes. Every so often, an upcoming show strikes that chord of promulgation and dissemination. Actually, any show with the extraordinary songstress/diva Lisa Sherman needs mention. Franke Previte, Academy Award winner adds to the special ambiance; as does singer Kristin Cochran. McCloone’s by the Atlantic in Asbury Park equals more ambiance. Then the magic of the holiday season and the day after Thanksgiving. The show is called ‘Broadway and Beyond’ and brought you by Boyd and Previte. Maybe get your tickets early. Happy Halloween and Happy Thanksgiving. Calvin Schwartz
NJ HOMELESSNESS: A FILM REVIEW AND COMMENTARY OF “THE NEW DESTINYS BRIDGE 2016’ by JACK BALLO: PREMIERE AUGUST 17th Asbury Park. By Calvin Schwartz 8-10-16(0)
NJ HOMELESSNESS: A FILM REVIEW AND COMMENTARY OF “THE NEW DESTINYS BRIDGE 2016’ by JACK BALLO: PREMIERE AUGUST 17th Asbury Park !! By Calvin Schwartz 8-10-16
I just finished watching film maker Jack Ballo’s ‘The New Destiny’s Bridge 2016’ for the second time in as many days. I had to; it’s above and beyond being a journalist, but being more a humanist. I reckon it would’ve been just as easy to take my review of the first version a couple of years ago, dress it up a bit with some Roget’s Thesaurus substitute words and present it to you. Who’d know? Better to take that review as it was, and maybe re-issue it down this paper a spell. Because much is the same. It is Jack’s enduring commitment, devotion to the homeless people of Tent City and to humanity’s unending scourge of homelessness that is so evident in this beautifully crafted story. It’s a candle that burns beyond its oil. There is no beauty in homelessness, but in the soul of people who see it, and try to solve it.
There’s a wooden horse outside my window. I’ve just ceremoniously put on my western hat and ran outside to jump on. I’m galloping into the sunset of introspection and homelessness. We are a funny species. I’m not laughing. I think we’ve been in the Garden of Eden all this time; we just don’t know it. There have been fellow humans talking about homelessness, poverty and hunger for a little over 2000 years. It doesn’t go away it, just gets worse, on a grander scale. I don’t know anymore. I never did. We need the Jack Ballos’ to keep fighting, sharing, and moving us emotionally and spiritually.
I worry about a recent study by a couple of government scientists that give the good old human species about 30 more years. They came up with some formulas taking into account food, water, climate change, energy, and the most important, social unrest. How is it the top 88 richest people in the world have their combined wealth exceed the poorest 3 ½ billion fellow humans. This creates social unrest all around the world.
Homelessness is part of the formula. Basic human rights of food, shelter and medical care from a very rich world. My story of enlightenment begins four years ago when I never understood homelessness. It was abstract, distant and the subject of a two minute NYC TV segment a week before Christmas. It was very cold and someone living in a cardboard box died from exposure. I felt bad. I do know that every human starts out life the same way.
Four years ago, my new friend Sherry Rubel took Tara-Jean Vitale and me as NJ Discover reporters to visit Tent City in Lakewood. It was another cold snowy day. We met Minister Steve and eventually Jack and many residents. Tara-Jean and I debated homelessness in the car going home that day. Tent City was 22 miles from our comfortable insulated suburban worlds. I’ve never been the same since.
I needed to feel, be involved and understand and to be more human and less suburban. I entered a brave new world of social conscience. That’s why I marvel at Jack Ballo’s work. It’s all fitting and proper that I reviewed the first film a few years ago. I love the institution of movie making and its illumination of our world with the ability to teach, educate, and bring our world closer together. Hey everybody, go see this movie and set yourself up to feel what it’s like to be homeless and be filled with despair.
Jack painstakingly took a different approach to storytelling of Tent City from the first version. He looks more into the lives, souls, hopes of the residents. They’re just like me and you; no difference except circumstances of privilege and perhaps luck. There is a theme more easily recognized in the new version; the desire of people to have basic shelter, self-respect and dignity. President Lincoln lived in a log cabin and he was fine with that. In essence, it was a tiny house and the film exposes us to the promise of tiny houses; the concept growing in practicality every day. And our friend Sherry Rubel very much involved in the state wide quest to build tiny house communities.
The movie themes carefully the importance of making people feel they are part of society with its concomitant feeling of self -esteem. Jack Ballo strives to teach us that. Inherent in Jack’s film, is the message to be promulgated; we all need to see this; to feel the pain of homelessness. One of the most moving scenes for me (Jack was brilliant in documenting this) was the lit Christmas tree at night, ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ playing gently. The scene could’ve been anywhere. A simple beautiful Christmas scene. But it was a homeless tent in obscure corner of Tent City. Riveting for me. It should be riveting for you. Homelessness hurts us all.
I liked the slow seasonal transition from the warmth of summer to the desolation and futility of cold winter. It was a passage for me. When I let my guard down and drifted into the lives of these precious people, Jack reminded us that the courts were constantly after Minister Steve and the residents. There are many scenes when cops in traditional uniforms or shirts and ties are there to arrest and act on the wishes of the town. Eventually the township and the county won out. I remember going to court with them at Ocean County Court House and hearing the judge’s decision.
Jack’s ending is powerful and destructive and I’ll leave it at that. He craftily infuses wonderful music to accelerate our emotions. I was riveted by his story telling and sensitivity. Actually I want more. I need to know about these fellow humans. One more comment that had me thinking and delving deep into the strains of my cellular honesty. The film tells the story of Lakewood, NJ, but in reality, it’s the story of any town in New Jersey or America. I’m reminded of a quote from ‘Casablanca,’ my favorite movie of all time. Humphrey Bogart is Rick, and Ilsa comes into his bar in Casablanca. He drinks almost to oblivion and says, “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”
Of all the towns in New Jersey, they walk into Lakewood and set up Tent City. I was honest with myself. If Tent City appeared a mile from my house how would I feel? How would you feel? Is there any suburban town that would welcome them? I am upset with myself. I’m not perfect. Jack’s film continually makes me think and feel. It will do that to you and carpet you through many human emotions. So go see it and celebrate humanity’s hope and promise as well as the harsh realities of our existence. Jack leaves many uncovered, undraped soulful mirrors for us. Thanks Jack. I just got off my wooden horse. My hat is gone. I brushed the suburban dust off.
INFORMATION ON THE PREMIERE OF “THE NEW DESTINYS BRIDGE”
Wednesday, August 17 at 7 PM – 9 PM
House of Independents
572 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, New Jersey 07712
TICKETS AVAILABLE: Ticket Web
BACKSTAGE MUSICAL MAGIC: Coming Attractions- Sammy Boyd Productions- Summer Music Series. Paramount Asbury Park: A.J. CROCE (7-23) PETER YARROW (8-6) JOHN SEBASTIAN (8-20) by Calvin Schwartz(0)
BACKSTAGE MUSICAL MAGIC: Coming Attractions- Sammy Boyd Productions- Summer Music Series. Paramount Asbury Park: A.J. CROCE (7-23) PETER YARROW (8-6) JOHN SEBASTIAN (8-20) by Calvin Schwartz
It was a few years ago when I discovered the pure magic and emotion of backstage concerts. I feel like Captain Hooked. (on backstage) There is nothing, truly, quite like the experience. A few rows of chairs facing an empty surreal theater. A dimly lit chandelier. When you first walk in and sit, the silence of a thousand empty seats and the realization that you’re several feet from the performing musician. A glass of wine for contemplation. A certain feeling of anticipation and heightened excitement; it’s the intimacy of the night. You could be in a living room as the artist walks out, staring directly at you. The artist converses with you. You’re smiling, deep in thought, pinching yourself. That’s the level of belonging and involvement being backstage.
That first song. A raised eyebrow. A furrow on the forehead. A gasp of breath. You feel it and see it all. The artist’s crafted words piercing your sensibility. It’s like surround sound. Backstage you are a living moving part of a performance. The artist’s intent is absorbed easily. I love backstage events. And the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park. When they open the doors to let someone in, a deep inhalation of that idyllic Jersey ocean salt air.
So what does this description really mean? To thank Sammy Boyd Productions for bringing Backstage to the Paramount for the second year. You all have the opportunity to partake BUT obviously, limited seating, but what a special thrill awaits. It’s Asbury Park, with a plethora of eateries pre or post show. Get it? See you on the Boardwalk.
Calvin Schwartz 7-18-16
Paramount Backstage returns this summer to Asbury Park
The 2nd Annual Paramount Backstage summer music series that puts the audience right on the stage with the performers is not to be missed. With their backs to the house, each artist performs facing the backstage where there are a limited amount of seats creating a true one-on-one experience with the artist. Enter through the stage door to receive your backstage pass and enjoy the show. Bar, snack shack and artist merchandise are all right on stage.
DOORS at 7 PM SHOWTIME 8 PM
July 23, 2016
A.J. CROCE: A.J. Croce is a multi-instrumental roots-rock artist, known for his boogie-woogie piano playing reminiscent of Dr. John. Croce has recorded eight studio albums for both major and indie labels in 23 years as a professional artist and musician. His music incorporates pop, blues, folk, and jazz, and has charted on seven radio charts including Top 40. He’s shared the stage with many notable artists including James Brown, Willie Nelson, Bela Fleck, co-written songs with greats like Leon Russell, and been produced by legends like the late Allen Toussaint. Croce has appeared on many television shows including Good Morning America and The Tonight Show.
August 6, 2016
PETER YARROW: Peter Yarrow’s talents as a creative artist—both with the legendary trio, Peter, Paul & Mary, and as a solo performer—are frequently directed at using music to convey a message of humanity and caring. His gift for songwriting has produced some of the most moving songs from Peter, Paul & Mary, including “Puff, the Magic Dragon”, “Day is Done”, “Light One Candle” and “The Great Mandala.” As a member of the renowned musical trio, Yarrow has earned multiple gold and platinum albums, as well as numerous GRAMMYs.
August 20, 2016
JOHN SEBASTIAN: Over four decades the contributions of John Sebastian have become a permanent part of our American musical fabric. His group, The Lovin’ Spoonful, played a major role in the mid-’60s rock revolution. Throughout the ’70s and ’80s he continued to record and tour, pleasing long-time fans and winning new ones. Sebastian is also a welcome media presence; his commentary, insights and anecdotes and stories are regularly featured in print, radio, TV and film documentary projects. John Sebastian is not only a master musician, writer and performer, he remains one of the best ambassador’s American music has ever known.
FOR TICKET INFO:
A Night on the Red Carpet: Premiere of “Who’s Jenna…?” in Asbury Park NJ bY Calvin Schwartz May 24th 2016(0)
A Night on the Red Carpet: Premiere of “Who’s Jenna…?” in Asbury Park NJ bY Calvin Schwartz May 24th 2016
This article is comprised of three distinct sections. Firstly, my experience on the Red Carpet last Friday May 20th evening in Asbury Park at the House of Independents; noting one of my pastimes is absorption of extant energy fields at special events. I take a couple of deep inhalations, pinch myself, and whisper, “look at where I am, Mah.” I was thrilled to have been invited as a journalist. Secondly, although I am just short of a light year AWAY from Siskel and Ebert, I will construct my review of the film. “Who’s Jenna….?” in my own inimitable style. Thirdly, I will reprise my article which appeared on NJ Discover last summer after I spent a morning on the Somerville, New Jersey set of the film.
PLEASE CHECK END OF ARTICLE FOR LINK TO TARA-JEAN VITALE’S VIDEO REPORT ON RED CARPET!!!
It’s a funny thing how fast you can become an energy barometer at certain events. As soon as Tara-Jean Vitale, co-reporter and TV host with me at NJ Discover LIVE, arrived on Asbury Park’s Cookman Avenue House of Independents, a lengthy Red Carpet and backdrop secured along the façade, we both knew it was an electric night at the Jersey shore. We observed the early guests, splendidly dressed, were intermingling, smiling, hugging and posing. Yes, there was a certain air. The more guests arrived, more scenes of joy and hugs. There were no ‘airs’ in the air around the theater. People were really glad to be there. Bert Baron, (recent NJ Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame Inductee) program director and morning drive show host from WCTC (1450 AM) was formally interviewing, freeing me to photo, absorb and mingle. Tara-Jean and I chatted with the film publicist and Lady in Red, Laura Madsen. She did good creating a sold-out event. By 7 PM, there was a flow through and around the Red Carpet of hundreds of people.
The cast arrived, euphoric and accessible. What I noticed when I spent time on the set and when some cast and young director Tom Baldinger appeared on NJ Discover LIVE TV SHOW and right in front of me on the streets of Asbury Park was that the cast and crew really liked each other; it was a real warmth, affection and respect. I love hugs. I loved watching the cast at their premiere. I sensed the chemistry I was watching would translate to the film soon to be seen.
Suddenly a gust of wind blew a guest’s skirt over her head in a scene remindful of the iconic Marilyn Monroe picture. I actually caught it on camera (with proper permission). I sensed a true Hollywood evening. Cars on Cookman slowed down to check all the excitement. Slowly, the hundreds of guests, hugely anticipatory, made their way into the theater.
I’m jumping now to after the film. Cast and crew sat on stage graciously sharing and answering questions and always broadly smiling. The audience loved this. Then the iconic band, Slim Chance (Mario Casella) and The Gamblers, who did some of the original music in the film, performed at the after party. I’ve loved this band for years. They are simply electric just like the entire night had been. I moved to the front row while I had the chance. People started dancing. The cast were still hugging and posing. Then Slim Chance and The Gamblers performed “The Power.” One of my favorites. I pinched myself again.
SECTION TWO: A Review of “Who’s Jenna….?’
I’ve got a long history of movie watching and appreciation. It’s quirky and obsessive. Ten years ago, I was watching ‘Casablanca’ for the 44th time and at the last scene, when Bogart shoots Major Strasser, Claude Rains picks up a bottle of Vichy Water, 1942’s version of our bottled water. Rains throws the bottle into the garbage. I let out a scream. There was a novel in my head in that one second. Five years later, ‘Vichy Water,’ my first novel, was published. I tell this story here to dramatize my affection with movies and how powerful an influence in my life. Over the years, I’ve developed my personal movie rating system. It’s simple enough and it works. I judge a movie by whether I would see it again; simple. I’ve seen ‘The Godfather’ again and again(embarrassed how many times) ‘Casablanca’ those 44 times. Sometimes I’ll see a movie again just for a particular scene.
Yes, I’d see ‘Who’s Jenna……?’ again. This was a delightfully funny film with adult film references, a little blackmail, frenetic dialogue (and well delivered) and romance. Without giving too much away, Bill Sorvino’s character, Jonathan has a girlfriend (Jenna)His best friend, Andy, is obsessively, therefore, comically convinced she looks like an adult film star and that leads to comedic romps. The plot thickens with a ‘familial’ twist.
I appreciate sharp dialogue in preciously funny situations. Tom Baldinger, writer, director, delivers that. Some of the scenes were priceless like the credit card commercial. That’s why I’ll see it again. The acting ensemble is quite accomplished which translates (for me) to a healthy infusion of their improvisational/ad libing skills in the filming. You can sense they’re having fun together filming and embellishing. Tom, I get the feeling openly welcomed their ‘addition’ skills.
I’m a facial expression guy. I pay attention to faces in situations. Their acting gives me my facial expression fix. It’s there. Props to this special cast including Tracey Birdsall, Bill Sorvino, Joseph D’Onofrio, Garry Pastore (who just makes me laugh throughout film), Edwin Guerrero, Lenny Venito, Vic Dibitetto, Michael Tota, Jill Christy Reiss and cameos including The Sopranos Vincent Pastore. I’m a Jersey guy since birth. I love the fact it’s a Jersey film; familiar sights and sounds.
PLEASE CHECK END OF ARTICLE FOR LINK TO TARA-JEAN VITALE’S VIDEO REPORT ON RED CARPET!!!
SECTION THREE: SPOTLIGHT: ON THE NEW JERSEY SET OF FILMING “WHO’S JENNA…..?” And A CONVERSATION WITH DIRECTOR TOM BALDINGER bY Calvin Schwartz September 9th 2015
Hooray for social media, networking and circles of commonality. For the last several years, Laura Madsen, publicist and innovative writer/blogger at http://www.theladyinredblog.com/ and I have travelled in similar circles of commonality (as I call it). Our energies and passions emanate from Jersey life and the arts. If you’ve read my musings over the past few years, I’ve postulated that Jersey has become the pop culture capital of America and Laura is always at the epicenter. For verification of the postulate, just look at ‘The Soprano’s’, ‘Boardwalk Empire’, “Jersey Boy’s’, ‘Jersey Shore’, ‘Jersey Housewives’, ‘Garden State’, and ‘Jersey Girl’. Laura and I never had the opportunity for the sharing of notes and synchronicities; we never met formally.
A few weeks ago, Laura contacted me via Facebook and asked if I’d like to cover the filming of a feature film, “Who’s Jenna…..?” which is a comedy written by award winning producer, director Tom Baldinger from 624 Productions, LLC, a New Jersey based company. Laura hinted that the film title had something to do with an adult film star but that’s all she said. My response to her was immediate and decisive; “I’d love to hang around the set and do some absorbing and interviewing for NJ Discover.”
The next decision for me was where to surface for the best absorption opportunity. The filming was taking place at the Lakewood Country Club for an on-location golf scene or the following day at Verve Restaurant in Somerville. I surmised that it’s best not to hang around a hot golf course as Jersey was in heat wave, so I opted for the cool basement confines of Verve for the shooting of a dinner scene. And I’d get a chance to hang a bit with actor Garry Pastore; I’ve been a fan for years.
Time constraints of being on set and getting a few minutes to chat (at the break) with director Tom Baldinger made me formulate a direction I wanted to take with this coverage. I’m quick to admit that my experience of being on sets is somewhat limited although I was on set back in the 90’s with Meryl Streep, William Hurt and Renee Zellweger and wound up in the Christmas scene in ‘One True Thing.’ My focus for “Who’s Jenna….?” was the art of detail and precision in the film making process.
Laura’s phone messaging last Wednesday morning got me to Verve’s rear parking lot (on foot), through a rear kitchen door, down a steep stairway, through a narrow hallway to a basement dining room, filled with tables and patrons (all actors). I never asked if this was an active part of the restaurant or just the basement set for a very funny scene. Seated at a large table, with cameras aimed, were actors Garry Pastore, Lenny Venito, Vic Dibitetto (also a very funny comedian whom I saw recently at Count Basie Theater at a Frank Sinatra Birthday Party), and Bill Sorvino, playing the lead role of Jonathan Burke. Next, Laura introduced me to the film director, Tom Baldinger; first and lasting impressions were that of an affable, intense, creative, focused force in the universe. It’s funny how fast you can “size” people. Waiters started bringing steaming plates of pasta, meat balls, chicken and foot long sausage in front of the seated actors; it was 10 AM. Someone yelled, “Get the Dunkin Donuts coffee cup off the table.” Actor Michael Tota introduced himself. He and I have been part of central Jersey concentric circles; we never met live, but knew of each other.
Readers can go to the film website for more plot/story information. http://www.624-productions.com/#!whos-jenna/c6h0n
The basement area was relatively small; an additional eight tables or so had ‘diners’ (actors) to make for a perfectly realistic restaurant set; the table next had a woman and her young daughter. The small room size and 90-degree outdoor heat made the set challenging. I watched the crew fill the four actors’ wine glasses half-way with grape juice. The wine glasses would be an interesting focus for me; the exact level of the juice in the glass was maintained for the next 94 minutes (multiple takes) that I watched from the rear side behind the cameras where Laura and I were positioned. As they were ready to shoot the scene, I heard “Quiet on the set.” I smiled. This was real.
I won’t give much away but the scene was hysterically funny as the four actors ate (pretended to eat as the sausage maintained its great length throughout), drank, conversed and laughed. I love watching eyes of the actors moving from person to person; just that small detail embraced me. Watching my friend Garry Pastore talk/act/move his eyes/laugh and then greet Michael Tota’s character when he walked over was perfectly real. There was a poignant albeit funny story going on. Director Tom Baldinger meticulously instructed Michael Tota how to grab himself while talking and then look at Vic Dibetto’s character. It had to be the same grab in every take. The repartee with Lenny, Bill and Garry was priceless. I’d love to use their words the next time I go to my primary care physician and see how it’s received. I savored every minute of absorption.
Something else I noticed; about the crew; a special esprit de corps. They were a well-oiled machine, anticipating, performing, and functioning like the offensive backfield of a local college football team. They loved what they were doing and with whom; their director. I like to observe those elements. The body heat generated in the basement’s close quarters moved me to Main Street in Somerville for an hour until I caught up with director Tom Baldinger just before lunch.
I mentioned to Tom that I have a relatively undiscerning eye when it comes to matters of film making but I’m a HUGE movie fan going to back to 1939 vintage. Tom was engaging and thrilled to be chatting. Once I flipped on my reporter’s recorder, he started. “For me it’s very important that what’s said-dialogue is not just dialogue-there’s a purpose to why people say certain things. That’s why when I write my scripts, I try to be very careful with the words that are said. I try to make sure that the voices are separate from each other-that the characters are separate. There is a voice in each one of them. When you are on set, everything has to have a place because I’ve seen tons of movies-big budget films; sometimes the detail is not there. For me there are a lot of people watching movies who will not like a movie because there is something wrong-a missing detail-or if dialogue doesn’t match up correctly-or characters not really synching together. That’s very important to me.”
I mentioned, “Translates down to your crew. I was watching them measure grape juice in a glass to make sure it was exact level.” “It’s all about continuity. How many times have you seen a movie where the glass is half-full and in the next shot- it’s the same conversation- the glass is either empty or not there. I was watching a movie last night-‘Mission Impossible 3’ and saw where all the extras were and I have to give a lot of credit to J.J. Abrams. A lot of time you’ll see movies with extras. They are in the shot then they are not there. My crew; I have to be honest with you. The meticulous and tight atmosphere really comes from them because I think they see me as a visionary. I’ve built this and I’m not trying to sound egotistical but I’ve built this company and in some ways they look at me as their leader and so they are on the ride. They want-they feel this is going to be successful. They want to be on the same boat. I’ve always set goals and reached my goals. I think that’s why everybody on this crew wants to do everything perfectly because they want to take this next step into this industry.”
Taking it further I added, “I’ve watched a melding of you all there.” Tom said, “Yes.” “I was so impressed with the detail. When Michael comes over to Garry at the table, you tell him exactly what to grab and do.” Tom added, “Yes, when we shoot the reverse, we need to see him grab himself and that action-when we’re in post, you see Vic’s reaction. It makes my editor’s job so much easier. And when you are sitting around the post, you are not saying we forgot that or look at that.”
The night before I heard interesting news about Apple and the film business; “Your work as an Indie film maker has an interesting future. Apple announced yesterday it may give money to Indies.” “I hope so. I heard a little about that. I work on Wall Street and I’ve been out of work mode for the last week or two. My father who actually works for Bloomberg said you have to check this out. When I get a moment, I’ll read about it; very interesting.”
I thought Apple wants to do what Netflix is doing. Tom was quick to comment. “That is where the market seems to be going; where the industry is going and I’m going to quote a famous actor hearing him talk about Indie films. Alec Baldwin was on Howard Stern show a few weeks ago. He was talking about how film has changed over past 20 or 30 years; that now big budget movies are all technical, special effects, CGI. Not that the big budget films don’t get into the story or content but they are more Marvel and super heroes. I love those movies and I’m there with the popcorn, but the Indie industry-that’s where you get down into characters, stories and dialogues and really get into it. What the Indie film industry has done-it has born the writer-director and sometimes that’s good-sometimes bad because studios say we only have $250,000 to spend. We can’t spend another $100,000 for a director, so let’s make the writer the director. That’s a bad choice but when you have a good script and a good writer who can be a director, studios need to take that into consideration. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime-all that stuff; it’s really starting to blow up. Quite frankly, ‘House of Cards;’ I said to my wife last year that they don’t have to win an Emmy; just be being nominated, Netflix was doing cartwheels down the hallway because they knew all of a sudden they got something and now everybody else is trying to do it.”
I asked Tom about quality. “Quality is better. I mean we’re shooting with a red camera where some of those shows you see with bigger name people are shooting with the same equipment. We’re trying to bring high quality products with lower budgets and eventually, hopefully somebody like Apple will say I like your product and I want to put more money into it and give us an opportunity to do even more.”
Tom smiled, took a deep inhalation and was ready to go on talking. It was I who suggested that he eat lunch but that down the road a spell, he should come on NJ Discover Live Radio/TV show with the cast and Laura Madsen and continue our chat. After a firm hand-shake cementing the deal and a photo-op of course, I was on the road again, heading to Yurcak Field on Rutgers campus with NJ Discover broadcasting the television coverage of the Skye Blue FC Professional Women’s Soccer match against Kansas City. A bunch of questions suddenly popped into consciousness on Route 287 to ask Tom and the cast. It would wait until October 5th for NJ Discover’s Live Show with them. We move fast here in Central Jersey.
IMDB “Who’s Jenna…..” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4317858/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm
Jersey Shore Retro Blog Kevin Cieri: https://jerseyshoreretro.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/nj-discover/
624 Productions: http://www.624-productions.com/
Laura Madsen Blog: http://www.theladyinredblog.com/
Calvin Schwartz www.vichywater.net
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
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
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
COMING ATTRACTION: MIDNIGHT MOSAIC Party at Stone Pony Friday August 28th 7PM bY Calvin Schwartz(0)
COMING ATTRACTION: MIDNIGHT MOSAIC Party at Stone Pony Friday August 28th 7PM bY Calvin Schwartz
Several years ago NJ Discover and Artist Nation TV sponsored a “You’ve Been Discovered” contest, in the same discovery mode as proliferative pop culture TV shows. Of course, our base is here in New Jersey. It’s what we’re about; discovering Jersey, especially its vast portfolio of musicians and artists. Part of our mantra is to elevate, support and promulgate our fellow creative Jerseyans. We were thrilled when the band ‘Midnight Mosaic’ was one of our winners.
Then and now we found them to be exciting, accelerating, eclectic and young which means a rising star phenomenon. Their sound was fresh and contemplative leading into a fusion of genres. For me, in the growing stage of music appreciation, I gravitate to their rock and soul sound. They’re fun and as I like to say when appropriate, like now, “welcome to the future.”
From time to time, we highlight coming attractions of events and gigs totally worthwhile to checking out like August 28th 7 PM at the Stone Pony for Midnight Mosaic’s party. And of course it’s the Jersey shore, a summer weekend, a plethora of eating places and cool ocean breezes.
Midnight Mosaic is: A.t. Hunte (Vocals), Harrisyn Hartt (Keyboards/Synth), AJ (Drums), Dee M (Backing Vocals) Ant (Guitar), and Eric Ubl (Bass) Based in Asbury Park, New Jersey. So therefore being at the Stone Pony means being home. Calvin Schwartz 8-17-15
Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/802406453191443/
“Come join Midnight Mosaic plus special guests Soraia Autumn City Garden State Line & Far in the Maples for a night of joyous noise LIVE at The Stone Pony! Spinning between sets & after the bands are DJ’s Jahred & Christopher Castillo. Plus we will have vendors displaying and selling their art. Tickets are $10.00 from the bands $12.00 at the door. The show is ALL AGES.”
CHECK OUT LINKS FOR MORE INFO:
ALSO CHECK OUT FIRE WORK (full length) on Soundcloud
ANOTHER MUST TO ATTEND: Comedian Mike Marino, The Presidential Tour Concert with special guest Comedian Sunda Croonquist. Saturday August 15th Paramount Theater Asbury Park USA bY Calvin Schwartz(0)
ANOTHER MUST TO ATTEND: Comedian Mike Marino, The Presidential Tour Concert with special guest Comedian Sunda Croonquist. Saturday August 15th Paramount Theater Asbury Park USA bY Calvin Schwartz August 4th 2015
If its summer, I usually write about the Jersey shore. It’s so easy these days as Jersey has become a pinnacle of American Pop Culture; Jersey Boys, Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Jersey Shore, Jersey Housewives, Garden State, Jersey Girl. American Pharaoh, Triple Crown winner came to Monmouth Park on Sunday; extraordinary. Perhaps there is nothing quite like our shore with all it has to offer especially during the summer. And Asbury Park has become an epicenter of music, food and dreams. I’ll go as far as to say it’s just about nirvana to be at the shore on a Saturday night.
This equation I am developing becomes even more pronounced when you add a national and global Jersey comedian in concert on the boardwalk in Asbury Park. Not just any comedian but Mike Marino, NJ’s Bad Boy of Comedy comes home to the shore. Then add another Jersey native/comedian, Sunda Croonquist. AND Hosted by Steve Trevelise!! It’s just a perfect night. Grab some dinner at a plethora of restaurants in Asbury Park or up and down the shore. Before-hand, play the pinball machines at Silverball. If you’re worried about traffic, I’ll even tell you about a secret road to the shore. No excuses.
What I am saying and equating, this is one special ‘funny as hell’ night that should not be missed. Life is short. I’m 6’5” Let me talk about Mike and Sunda now.
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.
Mike Marino website: mikemarino.net (a whole collection of videos to watch)
One of my favorites; Live at Borgatta trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=21&v=wCaCaMFWTk0
ALSO YOU CAN SUBSCRIBE TO MIKE’S YOU TUBE CHANNEL:
A few years ago, I had the opportunity (which became a thrill) to see Sunda Croonquist perform at the Second Annual Asbury Park Comedy Fest. Sunda dazzled with her sharp, quick wit (cerebral intelligent humor) and I got a chance to chat with her back stage. Sunda’s humor is rare, precious and beautiful as she is. What’s particularly meaningful for me as a comedic snob is Sunda’s ability to reach (in an extremely personal way) every single person in the audience. Shortly into her act, you’ll understand how she so effectively and personally reaches you (makes you identify) She’s this dynamo of personality and ethnicity (she’ll explain) as she constructs comedy from her so many varied viewpoints of life. And for me the best; she’s a Jersey girl albeit in LA now.
Sunda Croonquist website: http://www.sundalive.com/
AND SUNDA ON ” THE VIEW” YOU TUBE CLIP: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4lEnY0U-9I
Tickets: check their websites, Stone Pony , ticketmaster.com
AND CHECK OUT SUNDA’S NEW COOKBOOK: “The Kosher Soul Food Cookbook” Co-authored it with Nir Weinblut of La Gondola of Beverly Hills.
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|JUNE 12th NJ DISCOVER LIVE TV SHOW: JACKIE ATKINS, NJ Boxing Hall of Fame, CRYSTAL WOODS, American Natural Bodybuilding Federation; “World Class Women Athletes Where You Least Expect Them BUT Life Journeys MORE Amazing” with co-hosts Tara-Jean and Calvin. TUNE IN!!(0)|
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