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

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



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








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

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





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




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

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

Calvin Schwartz  


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

“A Message of Hope” Trailer Link and Go Fund Me:      


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



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

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

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



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

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




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










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

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





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

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

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

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





Important Links:






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

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

6:30 – lobby exhibit of photography by Sherry Rubel

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

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

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

Photos for all on the Red Carpet.



Two River Theater, Red Bank: Maureen McGovern in “Carry It On”   by Calvin Schwartz Two River Theater, Red Bank: Maureen McGovern in “Carry It On” by Calvin Schwartz(0)

Two in a row! Back in February my friend Toby M. illuminated me about the Two River Theater in nearby Red Bank. The play ‘Jitney’ was being extended and we went for the first time to Two River. It was a wondrous night. No need to repeat my review (here at NJ but, another wow; our theater experience became a two joys in a row such that it’s time to join. Last Thursday was Marlboro night, where residents of Marlboro, Manalapan and Morganville were invited to explore the range and offerings of Two River, which is literally in all our backyards.

This night Maureen McGovern from the Oscar winning song, “There’s Got to be a Morning After” performed her one woman show, “Carry It On.” My kind of show; a retrospective of her life from Ohio roots and Streisand, Garland and Judy Collins influences; infused with baby boomer memories from whence I came into music. Her voice is gifted; it hasn’t changed at 62 years. The gentle set flashed familiar pictures of history and family while she moved gracefully over stage and down aisles, talking and singing to the audience. Her father’s picture, an army veteran of the greatest generation, seemed to fuel her soul searching emotions.


My wife was teary a few times; ah gee, so was I. Her frankness and candor in words about lost loves and life’s professional wanderings were infiltrated with that glorious songstress voice; songs we grew up to. One of the pictures that flashed on the background screen was Dr. King and my spiritual leader from Newark standing next to him. My respiration slowed. McGovern sang Dylan, Carole King and others; with each cover, I drifted far away which is exactly what I wanted. She closed with the song I seem to quote a lot these days, “Morning After.” McGovern is back on the East Coast. She’s happy about that. And I’m happy about Two River Theater.


August Wilson’s ‘Jitney.’  My Arrival by Calvin Schwartz, Red Bank, NJ August Wilson’s ‘Jitney.’ My Arrival by Calvin Schwartz, Red Bank, NJ(0)


Ever hear the expression about beating yourself up? Well I’ve been doing that since Thursday night February 23rd when I saw August Wilson’s play ‘Jitney’ performed at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, N.J.  Here’s the deal. Early last week a friend messaged me on Facebook, that because of popular demand the play ‘Jitney’ was being extended several days and that I should see it. Well I do run around incessantly, taking in all I can find these last years and my friend imparts valuable judgment. I didn’t know August Wilson or his work. I ordered tickets and have never been to theater at Two River. Welcome to the beating up of this writer, a denizen of the magical state of New Jersey. How did I grow up, mature, absorb and celebrate new worlds of cerebral explorations without ever knowing the work of August Wilson? I’m so damned angry at myself.

On a jetty at the New Jersey shore I ponder the universe, environmentalism, trans-humanism, singularity, spirituality, parallel universes, vortex energy, and the list goes on but I never heard of August Wilson. I’ve listened countless times to the speeches from August 28, 1963 at the March on Washington and I wrote a novel about sixties urban experiences and yet I never heard of August Wilson. I aspire to be a renaissance man, dilettante and quintessential absorber of modern life so I play beer pong, do keg stands and run to the Hayden Planetarium to hear Dr. Michio Kaku or Dr.Neil Degrasse-Tyson speak but I never heard of August Wilson.

But now I have heard and what a wondrous night my wife and I had discovering Wilson’s work performed by an amazing ensemble cast at Two River Theater. Where do I begin? Well. Dinner in Red Bank; I thought we were in the Dolomites in Northeastern Italy; quaint ambience and obsessive attention to food taste. The theater experience was completely unique; it began 45 minutes before curtain with ‘Before Play,’ where actor, director and Professor Darrell Willis spoke about August Wilson in the lobby. Mine eyes were opening. It’s not within the boundaries of this article nor am I writing a term paper or a Times review but I felt the words of an amazing poet playwright rivet me to a seat; motionless and spellbound. (You might as well Google August Wilson and ‘Jitney’). The set design was so real, I wanted to drift on stage a few times to answer the phone. I love watching actors who are so precisely intense that their eyebrows even move in the middle of a scene when they’re not talking; they’re living the role. What a cast. How people in a 1970’s Pittsburgh car service (taxi) driver office depended, shared, learned from, and loved each other was movingly and exquisitely told.   Wilson writes about the African-American experience (he wrote 10 plays covering different decades and all but one take place in Pittsburgh). So now I know, appreciate and love the writings of August Wilson, and his ‘Jitney’ and Two River Theater in Red Bank and I’ll never look back; I’m done beating myself up and thanks to a friend for being an accelerant to learning more about life.


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