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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 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”

Facebook LINK: https://www.facebook.com/events/291612337843030/permalink/307555146248749/

Wednesday, August 17 at 7 PM – 9 PM

House of Independents

572 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, New Jersey 07712

 

TICKETS AVAILABLE:  Ticket Web

http://www.ticketweb.com/t3/sale/SaleEventDetail?dispatch=loadSelectionData&eventId=6794395

New Jersey, Homelessness and Charles Dickens; Awareness, Advocacy, Activism and Sherry Rubel    BY Calvin Schwartz    March 22, 2015 New Jersey, Homelessness and Charles Dickens; Awareness, Advocacy, Activism and Sherry Rubel BY Calvin Schwartz March 22, 2015(0)

New Jersey, Homelessness and Charles Dickens; Awareness, Advocacy, Activism and Sherry Rubel    BY Calvin Schwartz    March 22, 2015

 

 

 

Four years ago, homelessness was a distant concept for me living in suburban Monmouth County. My only  realization that fellow humans were homeless came from TV news stories in New York City when the wind chill was zero and the police humanely gathered and deposited them in temporary shelters for the night. On expeditions to New York City, for a day at the museum or a family dinner, I’d see homeless people, sometimes sitting on the steps of a church, or lying on the cold concrete, passed out, inebriated or worse. Occasionally, I’d see an ostensibly homeless person with a sign and cup trying to raise money. Once on 33rd Street, I saw a homeless woman and small child asking for money. I gave them a few dollars. What always hits me is that when every human is born, we arrive from the womb and are exactly the same in the hope and dream department for that brief moment in time.

 

 

 

 

I never saw homelessness here in Jersey because I’ve been sheltered in the suburbs most of my adult life.  Then four years ago, I transitioned into Journalism from a successful career in optical sales and management; quite a difference. Three years ago, I was asked to cover an Easter Sunday benefit concert in Lakewood, New Jersey for Tent City; a community of homeless people living in the woods in tents without power or heat for up to ten years. News of these horrific conditions began to trickle into local media. Rosemary Conte, activist, organized the event. At the end, Tent City founder, Minister Stephen Brigham brought a busload of residents of Tent City to receive donated clothing and food. It was a hard rain for me to see and process; homelessness. I had no idea or understanding.

 

 

 

 

A few months after Hurricane Sandy, Sherry Rubel, a photographer and activist, produced a concert in Asbury Park to raise money for victims. Rosemary introduced me to Sherry and a month later, I met Sherry for coffee on Route 18 and learned all about the realities and exigencies of Tent City. Then on cold cloudy morning in February, with patches of snow on the ground and smoke sneaking out from the tent’s wood-burning stoves, Sherry Rubel escorted NJ Discover’s Tara-Jean Vitale and me on a tour of Tent City; it was stark, inhospitable and brutally real. Homeless humans were living in conditions that made it seem like it was 1929 and Herbert Hoover was on the radio. We walked around and visited people in their tents; it was deathly cold.  A strange eerie silence followed us. My soul has never been the same since. These last few years, I see the world a little different and I’m  grateful to Sherry for the consciousness raising and awareness. She boldly continues her activism.

 

 

 

 

Recently I heard that Sherry went to N.J. Senate Speaker Steve Sweeney’s office last September and met with his staff to discuss how tiny homes could meet the needs of the homeless. That discussion led Legislative Senate Bill 2571, which has gained acclaim and is currently now being sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak.

In this particular article: http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/2015/03/08/manufactured-tiny-homes-affordable-home-options/24436415/Advocates

It states “Rubel fears her original vision of building a community with services as well as tiny homes is getting lost, and that the bill only provides for the construction of affordable homes.”

 

 

 

When a court resolution was finalized in 2013, Tent City in Lakewood was bulldozed and what was home for over a hundred homeless (un-housed humans) over a period of seven years was gone.  These Ocean County homeless no longer had a safe haven and temporary housing alternative. When Tent City went to Ocean County Court over a year ago, (I sat in court with them) to determine its ultimate fate, people were appalled and outraged with the decision which left no permanent resolution for the homeless of Ocean County. After this decision, Sherry Rubel was driven and determined to bring the spirit of ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ to fruition and bring about the realization of the “Tiny Home Pilot Program” legislation.

And so it all goes with no resolution, permanency or humanity. We are almost one year later and many Tent City people are homeless again and looking for a clearing in the trees to set up another tent. And so are many other homeless/un-housed humans falling into the darkness of a bleak unaffordable economy and housing environment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherry Rubel spoke to me about the current state of homelessness. “The Tiny Home Pilot Program legislation was never about affordable housing as politicians, HUD and Social Services interpret it. I don’t speak political language full of policy and regulations. I speak from my heart. I don’t care about how things work in a system that’s already broken. I only care about finding answers and discovering new innovative ideas that work to assist in resolving a critical problem that needs to be addressed. I guess I’m an outside the box thinker; still believe that where there is a will there’s a way. That’s what I’m trying to do; assist in coming up with new innovative ideas and thinking. What I’ve discovered is how boxed in everyone actually is. Everyone seems to get in their own way.  Please don’t get me wrong. There are many organizations with great programs that are working and those organizations should be praised for their amazing work but so much more is needed. I want to take the best of them all and apply it to a practical workable program. I call it ‘REVIVAL VILLAGE’ www.revivalvillage.com  which is a three phase innovative, sustainable, holistic, and economically efficient approach to resolving a very critical issue; perhaps one of the most pressing issues of our time.  Everyone ultimately has something to contribute to a community/village. All we really need is land. We have the plans all laid out.”

 

As I wrap up this article and finished talking with Sherry, I need to send props to Steve Conboy from Eco Building Products who has generously provided a donation of 14 emergency shelters/ Tiny Homes for immediate use. Not only does Steve want to assist in this project but he would like to employ homeless residents of “Revival Village” with building jobs for the Tiny Homes. It’s important to mention that ‘Destiny’s Bridge,’ is also a wonderful documentary created by Filmmaker Jack Ballo that will be showing at Salt Studios in Asbury Park on Saturday April 11th. Jack spent years at Tent City in Lakewood telling their story. I’ve seen the documentary several times; it’s powerful, beautiful and riveting.

There is so much to say about homelessness; it’s overwhelming. I recall a recent study by NASA scientists that gives our species another 30 years or so. One of the culprits (also climate change, food, water) is social unrest on a global scale. Now I look back to when Charles Dickens published ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1843. Scrooge asked “Are there no workhouses?” In Dickens’ writing, the Spirit of Christmas Present reveals two children representing Want and Ignorance.  The issues of homelessness (Want) in New Jersey are daunting and overwhelming. As I see it, not much has changed here in New Jersey (and Ocean County) since 1843.

Calvin Schwartz

 

PLEASE HELP  SPREAD THE WORD!!!

TRENTON HOSTS APRIL 15TH GLOBAL RALLY FOR THE HOMELESS

On April 15th cities in the U.K., Ireland, Canada and the USA will be rallying in solidarity for and with our homeless brothers and sisters around the world. The EVENT in NJ will take place at the State House in Trenton, beginning at 10:00 AM and running until approximately 2 PM.

 

https://www.facebook.com/events/788420991213835/

 “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” – President Franklin Roosevelt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NJ DISCOVER RADIO SHOW  LIVE TONIGHT MON OCT 21st  8 to 9 PM with hosts Tara-Jean Vitale & Calvin Schwartz SPECIAL GUEST; JACK BALLO,  ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ Filmmaker NJ DISCOVER RADIO SHOW LIVE TONIGHT MON OCT 21st 8 to 9 PM with hosts Tara-Jean Vitale & Calvin Schwartz SPECIAL GUEST; JACK BALLO, ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ Filmmaker(0)

NJ DISCOVER RADIO SHOW  LIVE TONIGHT MON OCT 21st  8 to 9 PM with hosts Tara-Jean Vitale & Calvin Schwartz SPECIAL GUEST; JACK BALLO,  ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ Filmmaker

NJ DISCOVER LIVE RADIO SHOW:  Provocative and Timely!! Monday October 21st  . Featuring Special Guest Jack Ballo, Filmmaker, of  Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge. ’

We’ll be discussing the year spent filming at Tent City in Lakewood NJ; new ideas of housing the homeless; film recently SEIZED by the Ocean County’s Prosecutor’s office for evidence in a case against Tent City founder Minister Steven Brigham.

DON’T MISS!!! With hosts Tara-Jean Vitale & Calvin Schwartz:  TUNE IN LIVE :

from 8 to 9 PM:

AND NOW ALSO LIVE AT: http://hamiltonradio.net/   ALSO ALWAYS available on Podcast at same link

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The Movie Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’  A Movie REVIEW and OCEAN COUNTY PREMIERE on November 7th.  And Notes on my Personal Journey to Involvement.   By Calvin Schwartz   October 18, 2013 The Movie Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’ A Movie REVIEW and OCEAN COUNTY PREMIERE on November 7th. And Notes on my Personal Journey to Involvement. By Calvin Schwartz October 18, 2013(0)

The Movie Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’  A Movie REVIEW and OCEAN COUNTY PREMIERE on November 7th.  And Notes on my Personal Journey to Involvement.   By Calvin Schwartz  October 18 2013

 

 

I need to say firstly 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 Ocean County  premiere at AMC Loews Seacourt 10 Theater on November 7th 2013

More Info on November Ocean  County Premiere:

Thursday, November 7, 2013Movie @ 7pm,  Q&A to follow. AMC Loews Seacourt 10 Theater

 

635 Bay Avenue   Toms River, NJ 08753

ADVANCE TICKETS ONLINE:   www.brownpapertickets.com/event/483381

Tickets may be purchased at the door while tickets last.

(The last two screenings were sold out in advance.)

 

 

 

 

CALVIN’S REVIEW:  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  months 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 Steven 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.

 

 

 

 

 

MY PERSONAL NOTES ON TENT CITY:

Calvin Schwartz

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 Steven 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.  It’s still hard months later.

 

Film Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’  Due to Overwhelming Demand: A Second Screening Thursday September 19th 2013 Middlebrook Cinema 7PM Ocean Township, NJ By Calvin Schwartz Film Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’ Due to Overwhelming Demand: A Second Screening Thursday September 19th 2013 Middlebrook Cinema 7PM Ocean Township, NJ By Calvin Schwartz(0)

  Film Documentary ‘Destiny’s Bridge.’  Due to Overwhelming Demand: A Second Screening Thursday September 19th 2013 Middlebrook Cinema 7PM Ocean Township, NJ

By Calvin Schwartz

 

 

 

 

 

On August 7th the premiere of ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ was held at Two River Theatre in Red Bank NJ. It was a complete sell out. I worked on the committee to put this premiere together. The overwhelming demand for tickets was beyond expectations. Hundreds of people were turned away. Because of the important message of the film and on-going real life story of the people still living in Tent City in Lakewood, film maker Jack Ballo will be bringing a second screening of ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ to Middlebrook Cinema 1502 Route 35 South, Ocean Township, N.J. on Thursday September 19th 2013 at 7PM

Calvin Schwartz

Tickets are only $10 and can only be purchased ONLINE (Print your own ticket) at www.DestinysBridge.com 

As with the premiere, after the film, there will be a Q&A, with filmmaker Jack Ballo; Tent City Founder, Minster Steve Brigham; and Tent City residents featured in the documentary film. This segment is as emotional as the film is.

 

 

 

 

 

In case you missed my article on NJ Discover website in August heralding the premiere of ‘Desinty’s Bridge’ and my personal involvement/feelings, I’ll re-print here:

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

 

 

 

 

 

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.’

 

 

 

REVIEW:  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:  http://www.destinysbridge.com/

http://www.ultravisionfilms.com

https://www.facebook.com/DestinysBridge

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.’

 

 

 

REVIEW:  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:  http://www.destinysbridge.com/

http://www.ultravisionfilms.com

https://www.facebook.com/DestinysBridge

 

 

INFORMATION ON MOVIE PREMIERE:

ORDER TICKETS HERE ON LINE!! REALLY ALMOST SOLD OUT!!

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/412674?date=859361

 

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.

 

 

MINISTER STEVEN BRIGHAM IN TENT CITY( ‘Grapes of Wrath’?) (Video) Evolution to Awareness: Tent City, Lakewood, NJ. Homelessness. And a Train to See Kobe Bryant. by Calvin Schwartz MINISTER STEVEN BRIGHAM IN TENT CITY( ‘Grapes of Wrath’?) (Video) Evolution to Awareness: Tent City, Lakewood, NJ. Homelessness. And a Train to See Kobe Bryant. by Calvin Schwartz(3)

An Evolution to Awareness: Tent City, Lakewood, NJ.  Homelessness. And a Train to See Kobe Bryant.   By Calvin Schwartz

 

 

road into tent city

 

 

A quick thought before the article: if you like the article. please LIKE the writer on Facebook at:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Calvin-Schwartz-Cerebral-Writer/258272024192114?fref=ts

Just thinking; I lived a big piece of my life in middle class bliss called suburban Monmouth County, New Jersey which is 40 minutes from Manhattan and an hour from Philadelphia. There are pockets (towns) in the county that have horse farms.  Mint juleps on cane benches on white wooden porches with Mercedes lined up in front of a three-car garage are common place; my way of describing subtle opulence. But I’m refreshingly middle class and damn proud. In July 2011, I even extended the energies of pride into becoming a journalist for a local county paper and a few months later, immersed into the television/internet reporting world of NJ Discover. Two years prior to that, my first novel, ‘Vichy Water’ was published. I became a writer on the late side of life’s journey but that’s OK, I’ve spiritually stopped counting years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During these recent years, if anyone would’ve mentioned Tent City(Lakewood) and homeless people living in tents (80 of them) 27 minutes away from my electric two-car garage door and driveway, I would’ve gone on doing whatever I was doing, not paying attention because it was still too far away conceptually to grasp. Then last Easter Sunday, I was asked to cover (as a reporter for NJ Discover) a concert organized by Rosemary Conte to raise funds and awareness for the people of Tent City in Lakewood; it was still beyond my attention span and relevancy quotient; it just sounded like a cool thing to do. Rosemary Conte decided to have the concert for Tent City after being inspired by the photographic work of Sherry Rubel (friend of son, Steve Conte who lent Sherry use of his original song, “Busload of Hope” for fundraising).  Sherry was gearing towards an exhibit of her black and white images of Tent City.

 

 

 

 

Remembering how British sailors were impressed (against their will) into service in the 1600’s, I did the same exercise with my son who became cameraman for a day at the downtown Lakewood concert. The holiday cut into the attendance but the music was good. Then it was announced that Minister Steven Brigham (founder and spiritual leader) was bringing a bus filled with Tent City residents for a food and clothing buffet. When they arrived, I saw them from a distance, waiting in line for donated prepared food. That’s as close as I got to Tent City and its human residents; no faces to Tent City for me to attach to my optic nerve and compassion processing centers. Weeks later I wrote my article with some pictures I took; I focused more on the music. Life is funny. I met a few musicians from that concert and Rosemary Conte who have evolved into friends of mine. I never gave it thought that our thread of commonalty began with the Concert for Tent City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My memories about homeless come from walking the streets of New York City and seeing people living in a cardboard box or sleeping on steps of a church after midnight. Yes, sometimes I dropped a few dollars for them. I remember Mayor Giuliani rounding-up homeless and busing them away; perhaps he thought it was a curative of the issue. One brutally cold night in New York, I walked by a homeless man sleeping in a big box. That image stayed with me a long time. It’s still there. But I thought about the notion that every human being begins life the same way by exiting the birth canal. So we all are bonded by that first journey. Then every one of us, including Tiny Tim, from ‘A Christmas Carol’ takes different pathways in life.

 

 

 

 

 

Homelessness was a long way from my consciousness; a distant abstraction. Life has a curious way to get you involved; reminds me of an old television show, Candid Camera; “when you least expect it”, you get hit gently in the head with a mallet of reality; a headache about the human condition. My hand is waving wildly from the back of the classroom. I yell to the teacher, Miss Crabtree, “I am human. My mother told me.” Back in December, my friend Rosemary Conte was singing in a concert in Asbury Park to raise money for Hurricane Sandy relief. Because loyalty is a gift, I went to see her and met the concert organizer, photographer and fellow human, Sherry Rubel. Chemistry and gut feelings are also gifts. I sensed great compassion and commitment when I talked to Sherry in a hallway on the second floor of McCloone’s overlooking the Atlantic Ocean during a cold rain. Three weeks later on a cold sunny morning in East Brunswick, New Jersey, Sherry and I found a vacant table in a Starbucks and talked about the world and her dreams/hopes which centered on a place called Tent City in Lakewood where 80 people live in tents because. Curiously, just outside the window at her back was a grey-bearded old man sleeping on a chair with his bike next to him. Perhaps all his worldly possessions were on that bike. He was sleeping in 25 degree air temperature. Looking back, was it a portent of things to come? I did promise Sherry, because she was so passionate, that I’d come to Tent City and do a story for NJ Discover.

 

 

On the morning of February 4th Tara-Jean Vitale (NJ Discover producer) and I headed down Route 9 to Lakewood’s Tent City. I did my Google due diligence and read about the politics and exigencies of Tent City; about homeless humans living there. But you never grasp or know what to expect unless you drove an ambulance in World War I; my reference to Hemingway, ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and my having to live a story visually to really feel emotions as a writer/journalist. I was clueless about this foreign world I was entering and it was brutally cold outside. The night before, Sherry briefed me on the politics and current events on how the county of Ocean (which has no homeless shelters) and the city of Lakewood want Tent City closed and bulldozed. A brave lawyer defends Tent City; he wins stays of execution; a human judge decries that you cannot throw humans out into a nowhere land. Minister Steven Brigham has devoted his life to the dream of dignity for homeless. At some point this day, we’d get a chance to meet this amazing man; Sherry promised.

 

 

 

 

 

Perpendicular to Tent City main entrance is a small street where we parked; across this street were low income apartments. Sherry met us as I hoisted the tri-pod and cameras out of the trunk. We jumped back into the car and fogged-up the windows while she talked about the protocol and etiquettes of our visit. On our way, I suddenly stopped. I’m a writer collecting my emotions, trying to glimpse tents through dense forest. A strange feeling came over me. Do I really want this because I sensed a queasiness in my intestinal lining; butterflies evacuating in a panic. I felt like coughing resignation; get away while the going is good. “John Wayne, where’s your horse?”  I sensed something; I’d never be quite the same again by the time the sun rose a little higher in a perfectly majestic dark blue sky; how poetic; I was grasping. Then I ran back to the car trunk and opened it and yelled to Tara-Jean and a bewildered Sherry. “I want you both to see this ceremony. I’m taking this huge weighted box of symbolic politics off my back and shoulder so that when I walk into Tent City there is absolutely nothing political about me; I’m just a human being with eyes, ears and a working cardiac chamber.”

 

 

 

Two Lakewood police cars blocked the frozen bumpy dirt road; they were leaving. I was dizzy (too much strange foreign visual input) and cold as I glanced at the first tent on the right; a barking dog was tied with a rope to a tree. I wondered if the dog knew about Tent City. As if a magic wand from Glenda (that Northern witch) passed over us, tents were suddenly everywhere with musty smoke from wood burning stoves coming out of make-shift chimneys; a strange smell(suffering?) wafted in the air we breathe. The ground was covered with patchy snow; why wasn’t I here during the summer? We were now in the middle of the city; as far as the eye could see through thick trees, tents lined a bumpy dirt road. Just then a tall young man approached; Sherry greeted him and then introduced us to Angelo. He was near his tent. We shook hands; he had worn gloves (bare fingers exposed) and invited us into his tent. He was a charming, outgoing eloquent man. Something (a perfect word here) struck my extant dizziness; he was absolutely proud to show us his home; a bed, a wood burning stove (he excused himself to run out and chop a log for more wood) and a few shelves of clothing. But it was his home; the bed was made like it was ready for army inspection. I was faint and still dizzy; it was all real and beyond my imagination; but everyone here was human. Sherry whispered there are all kinds of people here from different walks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some tents were perfectly appointed. How strange I thought; could I be in the Catskill Mountains at a tent colony for the summer; Woodstock just up the road. It’s 1969 and soon a big concert. No, this was a real world of homeless humans waiting for a Springsteen song to be written about them. I whispered to myself, “My God.” Angelo’s tent was so cold. How do humans sleep? Yet as we walked past tents and people; something was (that word again) hard to describe which grabbed me in disbelief. Was this an exciting way of life?  A woman walked over to Tara-Jean; “Come let me show you my tent.”  They were proud of their homes. It was theirs; a belonging. I felt it. Next we saw a tent where there was a warm shower and another set up as a chapel and finally a kitchen of sorts with stacks of empty pizza boxes. Local pizza restaurants frequently drop off pizza. Overcome with dizziness now; I knew it was a manifestation of shock and disbelief; how and why. We’re all humans that passed through birth canals dressed the same way.

 

 

 

 

 

I keep saying ‘humans.’ Reason; two of the letters in the word are U and S; spells us. ‘Us’ works in a democracy but when we start using the word ‘them,’ democracy weakens. I’ve heard and read people near Tent City (the humans who want them out) refer to the people here as them. “Get them out of here.” How sad. From a distance, Sherry saw Tent City leader Minister Steven Brigham approaching. Eye to eye we stood shaking hands; he was almost as tall as me. Eyes were intense and filled; easy to see. And here’s where I save words. Minister Steve would let us interview and film him so you can watch the video. I’m not sure if anyone else has ever spent such quality time with this amazing man of peace and compassion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve decided not to describe any more physicality of Tent City now. I would be some kind of dizzy (light headed, heart-broken, sad) all week and beyond while on this journey to self-awareness. What did I learn from this day of my intestinal excavation? Both Sherry and Minister Steve talked about Destiny’s Bridge which is both a new acclaimed documentary movie by filmmaker (storyteller) Jack Ballo and a concept dream for a future community of homeless people who one day might live together in dignity, productivity and self-reliance. Conceptual dignity is a common thread. Homeless people today are rounded up and thrown into distant shelter’s calloused halls with cots and no privacy; warehoused and usually kicked out in the morning for another day without borders and wandering streets; no human dignity or productivity. Destiny’s Bridge is a dream and a hope for belonging, community, ownership, training and human services. Minister Steven Brigham has given the last 12 years of his life to see that dream come to life. Tent City is soulful energy which fuels this dream every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sherry Rubel has spent the last year of her life being involved, caring, documenting and photographing; she’s there relentlessly and compassionately. Jack Ballo has been at Tent City three days a week for the past year creating a documentary film legacy depicting the hope of Destiny’s Bridge. As I write this, Jack is considering several New Jersey film festival premieres over the upcoming spring and summer including the Garden State Film Festival in April. For me, a journalist, this film is about humans, homelessness, New Jersey and dignity; the film’s issues are a no-brainer and should be on New Jersey film festival radar. I remember leaving my political notions in the trunk of my car for the good of honest human reporting. I wonder who wrote the Book of Love when Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. President Kennedy promised we’d be first on the moon. I wonder about the homeless.

 

 

 

 

 

Mine eyes had seen the coming and so much more that day. Tara-Jean and I asked permission to come back. While we were readying to leave, four residents were talking near a tent; a dog was barking in the distance. On a nearby table were packages of hamburger buns stacked three high. Minister Steve had disappeared down the dirt road. Our drive back to suburbia and gas heat, electricity, bathrooms, two door refrigerators and other banal comforts was relatively quiet and pensive yet Tara-Jean and I had differing views of the world. But that’s OK, Mah.

 

 

 

 

 

My awareness journey was not over. The next night I picked-up extraordinary singer/songwriter Arlan Feiles and headed for a NJ Transit train into New York City. Wonder where this is going?  One of his songs (a favorite of mine), ‘Viola,’ is about this courageous woman Viola Liuzzo who was a Unitarian Universalist civil rights activist from Michigan who was murdered by Ku Klux Klan members after the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches in Alabama. While on the train heading into Penn Station and eventually Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to see the Nets play Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, I told Arlan about Tent City.  Subconsciously I hoped.

In the fourth quarter we saw Kobe take off from the foul line and sail over two Nets defenders and jam the ball; poetry in motion. Then Arlan got a text message; there was an open mic on Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn; Arlan did four songs and blew the place away. Next a slice of ethereally tasting Brooklyn pizza and by the next blink of my tied left eye, it was 11:44 PM inside the New Jersey Transit waiting room inside Penn Station. Remember; it was very cold outside. Two dozen human beings were spread out sitting in chairs, sleeping, ostensibly waiting for a train. Then an Amtrak cop appeared; he pulled out a ‘Billy club’ and pounded on the walls behind the sleeping humans. He yelled, “Let me see your ticket. If you don’t have one, you have to leave.” He was throwing homeless humans out into the cold night. He was also profiling. I never took out my ticket. He never asked to see it; thus the second day in a row seeing homeless humans without dignity or warmth. The cop never saw my camera flash. On the meandering slow train back to suburbia, I felt that feeling again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut to Friday night; a few days later. I don’t understand everything in the universe which pretends I’m modeling clay. Recently something made me order the DVD ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ with Henry Fonda.  I’d never seen it before and shame on me. Universal energies abound and it was time. After knee braces pulled tightly in place, I jumped on the exercise bike and pedaled full throttle into a dizzying oblivion while I watched this 1940 black and white movie about an Oklahoma family forced off their land. The Joad family travels to California, suffering the plight of the homeless during the Great Depression. I was back at Tent City; nothing had changed from Lakewood, New Jersey to Steinbeck’s novel in 1939. Time froze. So did I on the bike.

Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) is talking to his mother near the end. The sweat is dripping from me; 924 calories burned so far. “How am I going to know about you Tommy?” Tom replied to his mother, “A fellow don’t have a soul of his own. Maybe just a piece of a big soul. Then it don’t matter. I’ll be all around in the dark. I’ll be everywhere. Where ever you look. Where ever there’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there.”  I closed my eyes; suddenly it’s last Monday and I’m sitting in the Tent City chapel talking/interviewing Minister Steven Brigham, a 12th generation American. I’m black and white and talking to John Steinbeck.

 

 

 

Then I just sat motionless on the bike and watched the movie credits fade to black. Of course I was dizzy again; a different kind of dizzy with resolution and substance.  I remembered that Sherry Rubel wrote a fascinating blog about a Tent City resident, Kevin, who’s been in and out of county jail and Tent City. Kevin is Tom Joad. Synchronicity, personal journey, Tent City, Sherry Rubel, Minister Steven Brigham, Tara-Jean Vitale (NJ Discover producer) and being an apolitical human being enhance my cerebral spiritual synapses.(conscience) Homelessness is on my mind; sounds like a song title. We could use a fresh song.

What I noticed these past weeks are so few humans around these parts (New Jersey and beyond) know (care) what’s going on in Tent City. I’m saddened but not surprised; still dizzy after all these weeks. I’m heading somewhere. There’s a last scene in a movie, ‘Here Comes Mr. Jordan’ when Robert Montgomery stops and realizes he’s going somewhere but he’s not sure. He can’t explain it but he gets up and leaves his boxing dressing room. I worry about a next court date in March for the humans of Tent City; what if?  I need to get back there. I just looked out a window behind me and saw children dancing around a May Pole; why are they dancing in slow motion? They’re human children; a few years removed from the birth canal. There is no real window; a mirage? And the Atlantic City hotel, Revel just went bankrupt ($2.4 billion). A few hours ago someone close to me asked why I’m writing about Tent City when I usually write about musicians, artists or environmentalists. I didn’t answer. That was my answer.

Here are some links:

Tent City Project:  https://www.facebook.com/TheTentCityProject?fref=ts

Tent City website: http://tentcitynj.org/index.html

Facebook: Destiny’s Bridge the movie:  https://www.facebook.com/DestinysBridge?fref=ts

Jack Ballo film maker:  http://www.ultravisionfilms.com

Sherry Rubel Photography: www.sherryrubelphotography.com

 

 

Calvin Schwartz:  vichywater.net

Facebook: Cal Schwartz   and Calvin Schwartz-Cerebral Writer

Twitter: @ earthood

earthood@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

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