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“BROTHERS”  a Documentary Film by Jack Ballo  Premiering at Indie Film Festival Red Bank on July 30.   A REVIEW by Calvin Schwartz   July 22, 2017 “BROTHERS” a Documentary Film by Jack Ballo Premiering at Indie Film Festival Red Bank on July 30. A REVIEW by Calvin Schwartz July 22, 2017(0)

“BROTHERS”  a Documentary Film by Jack Ballo  Premiering at Indie Film Festival Red Bank on July 30.   A REVIEW by Calvin Schwartz   July 22, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I especially like Friday afternoon’s synchronicity, usually arriving unannounced and unexpected. A long story but I was emailing (chatting) back and forth with a very accomplished film director in Edinburgh, Scotland today. One of our points of commonality was Charles Dickens and his haunting social consciousness and foresight. When Dickens wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1843, he told of a boy who represented ignorance and a girl, want. Beware of the boy. The problems of 1843 are still here today but magnified beyond comprehension. Nothing has changed.

Then, minutes after chatting with the director in Scotland, another director, much closer to my Jersey home, emailed me and asked if I’d watch his new documentary, “Brothers” which is entered in next week’s Indie Film Festival in Red Bank. Without hesitation, I responded to Jack Ballo from Ultravision Films that I’m thrilled to watch and review. The key for me is Jack Ballo’s past deep introspective work with social consciousness in our modern changing world. Jack’s earlier film, ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ a riveting documentary, dealt with his spending two years filming in Tent City, Lakewood, New Jersey, where up to 112 people lived in tents without heat, water, light, empathy for up to 10 years. They were homeless for all kinds of reasons and there was no place for them here in New Jersey.

 

I met Jack Ballo back in Tent City and learned about homelessness 22 miles from my comfortable suburban Monmouth County home. After seeing Jack’s film, “Destiny’s Bridge’ (which you all should see) and my personal experiences in Tent City, I was changed forever. Something happened with my soul. Jack Ballo is replete with soul, caring, pro activity and a rare, precious beautiful conscience for fellow humans. He doesn’t scream injustice and human suffering and need; he makes wondrous emotional films, innovative and provocative.

Now Jack is back with another documentary, “Brothers” which I just watched and I’ll watch again tomorrow afternoon and again because I have to. Tender is this film about two brothers, whom Jack grew up with in Sayreville, New Jersey and were now living in the woods in their home town.

Here is the must-see innovation of Jack’s journey. He visited them in the woods once a month for two years in their small encampment, a few pitched tents, clothes lines, rain water capturing sheet, solar cells for battery power and a parked bike for transportation to a local food market’s dumpster for discarded sandwiches. Yes, they were brothers who spent their inheritance on alcohol and had nowhere to go for four years. Jack filmed them only with this iPhone. The quality of the picture is outstanding as is his eye for detail and humanism.

 

 

It was fascinating special film-making to witness the quick, seamless change of seasons. Indeed quick, the film is 34 minutes, but almost endless, in its draining emotion. Jack captured essences of homeless life tenderly; a scene of a brother combing his hair looking into a piece of broken mirror on a tree; the life cycle of a tomato plant until a basket of freshly picked Jersey tomatoes; descriptions of being warm in a tent, under a quilt in two-degree temperature; a brother unveiling his Sayreville High School diploma from 1979, with a small colony of ants dancing on the parchment and a quick shot of a toilet commode. Stark realism. No punches pulled although there was a curious punching bag in several scenes.

Jack gently asked questions, the brothers Mark and Steve did most of the talking. At times, there was eerie silence in the woods. What I enjoy about his film making is stark symbolism and curious sights like a jet plane overhead flying south and a year later flying north or east or west.

There is a Christmas scene and a resolution to this heartfelt film. It’s 4:10 AM (Saturday) now as I finish writing. I’m grateful for synchronicity of the day and Jack Ballo passing my way yet one more time.

 

 

 

THE STRAND Lakewood 95th Anniversary Birthday Party April 26th: Reasons to be There  by Calvin Schwartz THE STRAND Lakewood 95th Anniversary Birthday Party April 26th: Reasons to be There by Calvin Schwartz(0)

THE STRAND Lakewood 95th Anniversary Birthday Party April 26th: Reasons to be There             by Calvin Schwartz 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Strand is having a 95th Anniversary Birthday Party. I’m going to get around to talking about the April 26th Party and shouting out why we all should vacate the sedentary sofa and get to the party but first……

I’ve been sitting here staring at the wall of memorabilia behind my computer screen for the past 11 minutes; it’s a writing technique I employ often; I suppose akin to Alice slipping though the rabbit hole into a new world. My rabbit hole (where I am trying to focus thoughts) is all about The Strand Theater in Lakewood. It’s been a frequent subject of mine the last five years as a journalist. Inside that magical world of The Strand, my theatrical rabbit hole of introspection, depth and purist enchantment (now with a new room, The Gallery, where you can have a tea party or a glass of wine) is a New Jersey historical landmark which opened in 1922 when Lakewood was popular with the rich and famous of the day like Rockefeller. Nearby Georgian Court University was the former estate of George Jay and Edith Gould.

It was designed to be a Broadway theater because Lakewood, back in the 1920’s and 30’s, was a vacation destination and the thinking was to bring Broadway shows here, for previewing them. And going back to those roaring twenties, The Strand was built with some of the best theater acoustics in the country. You can sit anywhere and it sounds like you’re in the first row.

 

 

 

My history with this theater has enabled me to cover fundraising shows after Hurricane Sandy; for the unique charity, Hometown Heroes; Songwriters by The Sea backstage, Arlan Feiles and The Broken Hearted live recording session backstage for ‘Live from The Strand;’ Richie Santa, quintessential Elvis Impersonator; The Strand’s annual Anniversary Gala’s at Holiday time and so much more.  Over the years, I’ve interviewed many of the staff, Board of Directors, and local politicians who support the theater.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On one of my recent memorable Strand days, I was introduced to Chris Everett (not the former tennis player) the Technical Director, Jack of All Trades, the guy who makes people fly and who puts scenery and imagination into production. Chris told me, “We make shows happen. Caitlyn Nelson is our  Assistant Technical Director.  Emily Lovell is our house lighting designer. She puts on a harness, climbs to the ceiling, drops down and hooks to a cage. That’s how lights focus in every show.” Chris continued, “Tom Fraley does House Audio and Gianni Scalise is the flyman and rigger and positive vibe technician. He climbs a five story ladder and hangs out on a steel catwalk.”  Chris explained how this crew does the work of ten people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staring at walls and rabbit holes aside, back to the future, I spoke the other day, at length, with The Strand’s Lori Davis, Front of House/Box Office Manager and Fran Whitney, Operations Manager. I’ve come to feel that the successful array of programming /events happening at the theater is concomitant with this dynamic duo working together. And behind all the scenes, is omnipresent Scott MacFadden, the savvy, energetic Managing Director.

 

 

 

 

 

Before talking about the upcoming 95th Anniversary Birthday, we did the Gallery; the room across the hall from the main entrance to the theater, completely renovated, equipped with a bar, tables and a small stage such that you are easily magic carpeted to a Manhattan night spot; just do a quick blink of an eye. Being a resourceful journalist, I researched that the Gallery room used to be a drug store back in those roaring speak easy days of the 20’s.  And we’ll leave it at that.  Fran told me, “We’ve started booking local duos and trios, like NRG and Colossal Street Jam and use Thursday night as a lead.” Lori added, “Beginning in May, we’ll have a comedy act etc… and are hoping to have an open Mic night.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Davis, entrepreneur from Java House in Brick will be setting up in the Gallery. Of course I remember John’s affinity for live music when he once hosted myself and Danny Coleman’s Rock on Radio Show. This will be a new venture for the Gallery with Irish latte coffee available at the bar. Heidi DeFabritius, Front of House /Box Office and Lori will be running the Gallery with open bar. They mentioned the theater being booked into 2020. Exit 82 Theater Company and BCCT (Brick Children’s Community Theatre) also perform here. The Strand is hot these days.

Lori added,” We were gifted a Baby Grand piano by Georgian Court University. Todd Gagnon will be playing music before shows and we’re looking into hosting low budget movie premieres.”

I said, “It’s party time.”  Right up front here, I’m hoping NJ Discover readers are looking for a fun night out on the town and find ways to extricate themselves from the perils of sedentary sofas and come to party at 95th Anniversary Birthday Party on Wednesday April 26th from 6-9 PM. Fran noted, “It’s a fundraiser, all proceeds to The Strand. Entertainment includes our own Lori Davis, Heidi and Tony DeFabritus, Arlan Feiles, Chris Rockwell, Richie Santa, Robert Santa and more.”

There is something spiritually palpable and historically haunting about The Strand and the Gallery. Part of it of course is the art deco ambiance. It is a magnificent theater. Easy on the eyes and ears. You have to be there and feel it. Hey, while we’re partying on the 26th, come over to me in the Gallery, and we’ll talk about stuff. Here’s looking at you from the rabbit hole.

 

 

A SPECIAL HOLIDAY PREVIEW:  The STRAND Theater 94th Gala December 14th AND My Day at The STRAND  by Calvin Schwartz   December 3rd 2016 A SPECIAL HOLIDAY PREVIEW: The STRAND Theater 94th Gala December 14th AND My Day at The STRAND by Calvin Schwartz December 3rd 2016(0)

A SPECIAL HOLIDAY PREVIEW:  The STRAND Theater 94th Gala December 14th AND My Day at The STRAND  by Calvin Schwartz   December 3rd 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This article becomes one of those combination platter journalistic efforts, previewing the upcoming 94th  Gala and delving into the inner workings and people behind the scenes at The Strand as well as reporting on my day exploring the sacred depths and heights of the theater, built in 1922.  I’ve said often, over the past five years, how much I love this theater, replete with that unique, rare, precious art deco ambiance. It was designed to be a Broadway theater because Lakewood back in the 1920’s and 30’s was a vacation destination and the thinking was to bring Broadway shows here, akin to previewing them. I’ve been to many shows and events at The Strand. The acoustics are magical; you can sit anywhere and it’s as if you’re sitting right up front.

Although I’ve been at The Strand often, as a reporter, I’ve never really sat down with the people that bring it to life nor have I gone to those depths in the pit below the orchestra where the music emanates from nor have I attempted to climb the multi-story ladder backstage to change ceiling light bulbs seemingly close to the clouds. Somebody in real life has to do it. I arrived at high noon on Tuesday November 22nd

 

 

It was an old fashioned entry. I rang the street bell and was ushered in by Lori Davis, part of the team of programming energy, creativity and daily mechanics which brings life to the theater. Moments later, I was greeted by Fran Whitney, who’s also on that life line team. One of these days, I’ll write an article called “Women of The Strand” and include Dina Warren who also is part of the theater’s resurgence. Jesse Warren, account manager, walked with me up the front grand stair case. I could hear Annie singing at the top of the stairs. On December 2nd and 3rd, they’re staging ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’  So my hero, George Bailey might also be waiting for me at the top.

Jesse and I sat in a second floor office, overlooking Lakewood’s main street. He’s always this young enthusiastic persona.  We talked 94th Gala, and the amazing musical line-up for that night and other matters of greasepaint and roars. He thanked theater management, Scott MacFadden, Glen Harrison and Ray Coles for all their support.  Next, he phoned home, actually downstairs, to Chris Everett (absolutely not related to the former tennis player), and summoned him into the interview. Chris is the tech head, Jack of All Trades, the guy who makes people fly and who puts scenery and imagination into production. “This place would not be what it is. He brings this place to life,” Jesse added.

 

 

Chris told me, “We make shows happen. Caitlyn Nelson is our assistant. Emily Lovell is our house lighting designer. She puts on a harness, climbs to the ceiling, drops down and hooks to a cage. That’s how lights focus in every show.” Later they showed me the ladder at the rear of the balcony which leads into the ceiling and how she crawls into position. Did I want to climb up and be a good journalist and take some pictures?  “I’m always a good journalist, but a safe one with my two feet anchored firmly at ground level,” I softly responded.

Chris continued, “Tom Frayley does House Audio and Gianni Scalise is the flyman and rigger and positive vibe technician. He climbs a five story ladder and hangs out on a steel catwalk.”  Chris explained how this crew does the work of ten people. Adding to Chris’ all around versatility is the fact that in the production of ‘Beauty and The Beast’ he played a part.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My education of theater 101 behind the scenes continued. The crew has to learn everything before a production. Lighting and sound cues. They have five days to learn it all. That means 22-hour work days. “When it’s a musical production, we live for a week and a half here,” Chris proudly stated. He also reminded me that the technical director(himself) is also the house carpenter. His company is called Sound Foundation Productions.com.

 

 

 

Next was the inner sanctum walking tour to the basement level. Of course I flicked on the lights of the dressing rooms with all those light bulbs watching you put on make up. Imagination was quick to help me with my ‘Frankenstein’ make-up. Yes, I auditioned once when Reagan was President for that part.  An obscure doorway led to the orchestra pit and another small one led underneath the theater itself. It was a crawl space and I don’t crawl anymore. Gianni filled my sensibilities with lore of the theater; stories and legends of its rich history. Early on, a drug store occupied the area where the gallery is located now.   And we’ll leave it at that.  Back upstairs, Emily and Caitlyn were figuring out how to get the box of fluorescent light bulbs up to the clouds above to change the dim bulbs to new bright ones. When I stared up, I had to hold on to the wall for support.

It was time for Jesse to share info about the 94th Gala which he’s been diligently working on. Big RoaD Productions would be responsible for the best musical line-up they’ve ever had including The Big Road All Star Band. This would be my third Gala attended. And as I do often at the conclusion of my emotional pieces, I exhort readers to get off their sedentary sofa and come on down to The Strand on December 14th for a very special night. It really is.  Come for the Holiday Music and even the Dinner. Your choice. Here now the specifics of the night.

 

Wednesday December 14th Join BIG RoaD at The Strand Theater for “A VERY BIG RoaD Christmas” GALA NIGHT AT The Strand Theater!

The Strand Theater is proud to HONOR:

Thomas Jannarone, Owner Bar Anticipation/Attorney

Franke Previte, Academy Award Winning Composer (“Dirty Dancing”)

Steven Levine, Owner, WindMill Restuarants

Michael D’Elia, Committeemen, Lakewood Township

 

PERFORMING ARE : Bobby Bandiera, Lisa Sherman, Franke Previte, Jillian Rhys McCoy, Eddie Testa, Jobonanno, Joe Ferraro, Jt Bowen, Tommy Byrne

Band is: Ralph Notaro, Vinny Daniele, Joe Bellia, Arne Wendt, Tony Perruso, Bob Ferrel, Tommy Labella

Get your tickets now “A VERY BIG RoaD Christmas” GALA NIGHT AT The Strand Theater!

The Strand Theater

400 Clifton Ave

Lakewood, New Jersey

Tel: (732) 367-7789

Web: http://www.strand.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/StrandNJ

Produced and Presented by:

Terry Camp and Jesse James Warren for BIG RoaD

 

If you have any questions please feel free to call Jesse Warren at 732-367-7789, ext.204 or by email at jesse@strand.org.

 

FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE: https://www.facebook.com/events/105488179931786/

 

 

“A VERY BIG RoaD CHRISTMAS” GALA NIGHT AT THE STRAND THEATER!

 

The Strand Theater presents its 94th Anniversary Gala with “A Very BIG RoaD Christmas!” on Wednesday, December 14, 2016 – A night to celebrate this historic venue and enjoy lively holiday tunes with The BIG RoaD All-Star (Big) Band.

 

Tickets are $25.00 and doors open at 7:00 p.m. for the 8:00 p.m. show. Guests are also welcome for The Strand’s Gala Dinner and Cocktail Party at 6:00 p.m. – for which tickets are $100.00 (which includes an orchestra seat ticket).

The BIG RoaD All-Star Band is Mark Leimbach, Ralph Notaro, Joe Bellia, Vinny Daniele, Arne Wendt, Tony Perruso, Tommy Labella, and Bobby Ferrel. Vocals by Bobby Bandiera, JT Bowen, Franke Previte, Lisa Sherman, Jillian Rhys McCoy, Eddie Testa,Jo Boanno, Killer Joe and more!

 

The historic STRAND THEATER, a non-profit 501(c)3, is Ocean County’s premier entertainment venue. THE STRAND opened its doors in 1922 and it shines as brightly today as it did then. Located in historic downtown Lakewood, THE STRAND is easily accessible and offers a wide variety of live entertainment including concerts, dance, musicals, & theater, comic performances, and arts education.

 

Strand Gala Information- The Board of Directors of the Strand Center for the Arts are pleased to announce the celebration of the theater’s 94th Anniversary. We cordially invite you to join us for our Gala and Holiday Celebration on Wednesday, December 14, 2016. The Gala will begin in the Strand Gallery at 6pm followed by a live performance on our main stage at 8pm. Several area restaurants will be serving their signature dishes and cocktails will also be served.

 

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

THE STRAND THEATER LAKEWOOD REVISITED and EAGLEMANIA  SAT MAY 7   bY    Calvin Schwartz   May 4th 2016 THE STRAND THEATER LAKEWOOD REVISITED and EAGLEMANIA SAT MAY 7 bY Calvin Schwartz May 4th 2016(0)

THE STRAND THEATER LAKEWOOD REVISITED and EAGLEMANIA SAT MAY 7 bY Calvin Schwartz May 4th 2016

 

 

I’ve got a solid five-year history of warm affectation with The Strand, so I figured a few moments ago, to revisit one of my earlier explorations (of which there were many) and do the salient features bit here at NJ Discover website, a few days before their special show this Saturday May 7th EAGLEMANIA-The World’s Greatest Eagles Tribute Band. More on the show to follow.

The Strand was built in 1922. What a wonderful venue to listen to music, dream, drift back to the future for a few moments. Yes, I love the Strand. I also love when the message gets out to the world embraced by NJ Discover to get off your sedentary sofas and take full advantage of all that New Jersey has to offer, i.e. The Strand.

 

 

Some four years ago, I really discovered The Strand in Lakewood; this magical, beautiful, historic place of theater, music, comedy and acoustical wizardry. Three years ago I attended the Strand’s 90th Gala and walked away meeting people who have influenced and changed the course of my life. That Gala event was followed by so many other events I attended at The Strand; from Sandy relief concerts, to intimate and memorable ‘Backstage Pass’ events to great music and endearing holiday shows.

A few months ago I got the chance to spend some time with Anthony D’Amato (known on stage as ‘Remember Jones’) He was named the new producing artistic director of the Strand. His responsibilities include working closely with management, giving input in production and show prospects, producing his own theatrical and music events and probably a myriad of other job descriptions.  His persona was electric, dynamic, indefatigable and youthful. Actually he is very young.  I asked Anthony about his history. “I used to usher here when I was 12 years old. I would pick up trash in the aisles. From there, I became a performer then a director and recently put on my own music events here. In the past I’ve been able to turn small theaters-outdated- into something with a social scene. That’s my goal for here. The artistic vision for me is NOT to put on musicals and plays yet, but first we need to establish this area again as some sort of social scene; a hang-out for all ages to be comfortable which is not easy.”

 

 

I also spoke to Chris Everett (not the tennis player) who’s the technical wizard at The Strand. “We want to insure this beautiful building continues to be a center for artistic endeavors…. Everything technical that happens here is my job; staging, lighting, sound, making people fly, all the fun stuff. If no one notices us, we did our job right because that is the magic of theater…. It was designed to be a Broadway theater…. In the 20’s and 30’s Lakewood was a vacation destination…literally it is a replica of a New York City theater.  We can do all these Broadway shows right here; One of the top four acoustically designed buildings in America.”

I love shout outs; To The Strand  ‘family’ for keeping me informed and enamored with the theater. Scott McFadden, Lori Gilmore, Fran Whitney, Dina Warren and Jesse Warren.

 

 

 

http://www.strand.org/

https://eaglemaniaband.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

And now show information for EAGLEMANIA-The World’s Greatest Eagles Tribute Band.

May 7, 2016 at 8:00 PM

Strand Center for the Arts

Lakewood, NJ

Get Directions

Doors open 6:30 PM

BUY TICKETS ONLINE  http://www.strand.org/

 

James D’Amico Productions & Tommy’s House Present:

EAGLEMANIA-The World’s Greatest Eagles Tribute Band. That isn’t their slogan by mistake. EagleMania has dedicated itself to faithfully reproducing the sound of The Eagles for the past three years. Since their inception, EagleMania has been thrilling audiences all over the East Coast with their stunning five part harmonies and their uncanny ability to emulate The Eagles note by note. Their show consists of all of the Eagles greatest hits, as well as some of the solo work of many of the individual members such as Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Joe Walsh.
Tickets $40 Orchestra & Loge, $35 Mezzanine, $25 Tier (Plus $5 fee per ticket).

Music : Genre: Classic Rock

 

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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