WHAT’S UP, JERSEY?
10The number of years before skilled laborers like crane and bulldozer oper ators are replaced by robots. We should plan for that. Read more commentary on page 4.
ON THE COVER
This month, we looked around the state and back on the hundreds of con versations we’ve had with folks in a variety of fields to pinpoint some of the less obvious issues we can begin to address in 2023. Page 6.
NJ illustrator and cartoonist Elianna Gregory created this month’s cover. She graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2022, and writes a webcomic about motherhood called Momic.
<<<This scene doesn’t have to be so hypermasculine. It’s been decades since ‘girls to the front’ started, and we still have to yell that. Why are we still screaming that? This should have already been solved. We want to create a space that is accessible to women, to nonbinary punks, LGBTQIA punks, and people of color. We are in this scene, but we aren’t on stage. Why does the stage look so different from the room?>>>
Ali Nugent of the witch music collective Black Lipstick on the impetus to create more inclusive spaces in music and arts. Read more on page 17.
PLUS: Foxing returns to NJ (pg. 14), Concerts (pg. 15), Dense, a unique NJ design mag (pg. 19), Film (pg. 21), Savage (pg. 26), Best bites and new restaurants (pg. 27)
NJ Indy is a collection of local writers and creators. Our writers live around the state, but the paper is headquartered in Stockton. Publisher is Matt Cortina. If you want to write for NJ Indy, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any typos in this issue were put there as part of a secret code. See if you can figure it out. Errors or corrections, please email the publisher. We occasionally publish satire; if you can’t tell what’s satire, just assume all of it is.
This is the second edition of NJ Indy. Future editions will magically show up at select locations throughout NJ on the first Friday of every month. For more, visit njindy.com. All content is ©NJ Indy, LLC 2022, so don’t steal it, but we don’t know who would. This issue is free. If anyone charged you for this, let us know so it doesn’t happen again.
To respond to anything in this issue, or just to get something off your chest, email email@example.com.
Meat substitutes, largely, suck. With a little attention, and some ingredients from an NJ farmers market, you can make vegan food shine. Read it on page 29.
The renowned, anticipated, unique Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market re turns Dec. 10-11 to CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton. Stop by for food, music, live tattooing and myriad ven dors selling unique items from clothing to taxidermy, vinyl, artwork and more, More events on page 22.
Fun with AI LOUD NOISES!
Are you ready for corporate America’s robot economy?by Jim Hightower
With corporations socking away mas sive profits, and with the labor market fairly tight, why are workers’ wages still stuck at miserly and even poverty levels?
One big reason is that corpo rate boards and CEOs have their heads stuck in a dreamy future. Nearly every economic sector is actually spending vast sums of money on workers—just not hu man workers. While few Americans are aware of it, bosses are quietly investing in hordes of sophisticated autonomous robots powered by a cognitive technology called artifi cial intelligence. Instead of paying a decent wage to you, corporations are buying millions of these cheap, humanesque thinking machines in order to take a shocking number of jobs from... well, from you.
Accountants, bank loan officers, financial analysts, insurance claims adjustors—all of these “numbers jobs” are already falling to bots that
can calculate much faster and more accurately than people.
Journalism? The Associated Press now uses artificial intelligence ma chines to write thousands of finan cial articles and sports reports, and Forbes uses an AI system named Quill to pen articles.
Skilled labor? Meet SAM, a robotic bricklayer that lays three times as many bricks in a day as humans can, displacing the jobs of three people. Crane and bulldozer operators are expected to be ousted by robots in the next 10 years.
Farmers? There are robots out there that can perform almost every aspect of farming including plowing, planting, monitoring, fertilizing, irrigating, weeding and harvesting. There’s also a shepherd robot that can run an entire live stock farm.
Also, the jobs of librarians, pharmacists, lawyers, air traffic con trollers, doctors, teachers, hospital administrators, bartenders, illustra tors and so many more are targeted for massive displacement. In just the
next five years, 6% of all U.S. jobs are expected to be roboticized! Whether you’re ready or not, there’s a robot in your future, and clearly I don’t mean one of those cute little labor-saving automatons— like a “Roomba” vacuum cleaner that scoots around tidying up your floors while you lay back in your LaZ-Boy doing 12-oz elbow bends.
Far from saving you from doing extra labor, this new wave of robots is being brought into your workplace to rescue corporate bosses and investors from paying you to work for them. You might think, not my workplace, for I’m not a factory worker—I’ve got a college degree and I work with my brain, so no contraption doing rote mechanical tasks can take my job.
These are “thinking ma chines,” implanted with complex neural networks and superfast algorithmic computers that oper ate in sync, functioning much like the cluster of specialized cells in the human brain. These brainy bots have a fast-evolving ability to watch, listen and learn on their own; they can develop new abilities and are even able to produce and teach other robots. Not only are they displacing flesh-and-blood workers on factory assembly lines, but millions of them are now being
moved into professional, mana gerial, creative and other occupa tions previously assumed to be the secure domains of higher-educat ed, higher-paid people, and as you can see from the list above... maybe even yours.
To be clear, it’s not robots that are taking our jobs, but corporate profiteers. They’re creating a robot economy in order to displace you and me with inexpensive machines that don’t demand higher wages or health care, don’t take sick days or vacations and don’t organize unions, file lawsuits or vote for pro-worker politicians. It’s to be a plutocratic utopia designed by and for the cor porate elite—and they’re pushing it hard and fast, hoping We the People don’t wake up until it’s too late.
Robots are not our enemy; the corporate bosses, bankers and BSers who own robots are the ones doing this to us, and now is the time for all of us whom they’re about to discard to rebel against their socially destructive greed.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites.
To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com. ©2022 creators.com.
“sAvE jOuRnAliSM” A drama in three acts
ACT I ACT II
Notes from the road
What a gorgeous state we live in. Delivering the first print issue of NJ Indy last month, we were struck by the splendor of the moun tains and vibrant foliage in Sparta and Newton; the beautiful rhythm of Montclair and Newark; the charm of Metuchen and Hightstown; the otherwordly environs of the Pine Barrens; the unabashed pomp of Atlantic City; on and on.
We were grateful for the wonderful conversations with business owners and staff members at the places we dropped our paper; from Cedar Beans in Cedar Grove to Turtle Beans in Bordentown; from East Bay Kombucha in Manahawkin to Ale & Wich in New Bruns wick; from Cypress Brewing in Edison to Odd Bird in Stockton. And so many more.
And we appreciate you for finding this independent rag, reading it and letting us know you did. We got dozens—maybe one whole hundred!—of very kind emails telling us that this is the kind of publication they were waiting for. And to be clear, we don’t take that as a pat on the back; we agree that this thing needed to exist and, well, somebody’s gotta do it.
Thanks to Wawa for the $3.99 tubs of wasabi peas.
Thanks to the guys who tailgate on Route 1 thinking they’re actually going to get anywhere faster than anyone else. Your optimism is contagious, your naivety cute.
Thanks to the delivery driver who navigated low bridges and circles to get us the paper.
And thank you for picking up this issue.
—Matt Cortina, Publisher
11 things NJ oughta fix in 2023by Indy staff
New Jersey’s great. It has some problems. Both those things can be and are true. Some issues have been building for years—pollution, homelessness, income inequality—oth ers, like digital media literacy and police involvement in schools, have just (rela tively) come to the fore.
Over the last two years of publishing sto ries at NJ Indy, we’ve been talking to smart folks around the state, and we started to notice some trends and issues that kept coming up. And, those smart people—in government, education, advocacy, etc.—have some ideas on how to begin solving them. So we synthesized all the conversations we’ve had and the information we’ve gathered into a handy list here.
A few disclaimers: 1) It’s an admittedly pretentious thing to call out all the things that need fixing from the sidelines of our free indie rag. But... fuck it. 2) We certainly left things out. 3) We only touch on each issue in a few para
Call it a primer for the issues facing New Jersey in 2023. Let us know what we missed.
Treatment of undocumented people in ICE detention is cruel, getting crueler.
Last year, three NJ counties that had worked with Immigration and Customs En forcement (ICE) to detain undocumented people ended their contracts with the agency. That’s great, but instead of releasing those un documented folks, they were sent to facilities in New York.
Now, New York is making a similar move to end county facilities’ contracts with ICE—but, reported The Gothamist earlier this year, “Without warning on Monday, dozens of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans held at the facility were transferred to facilities around the country, including a privately-run jail in Missis sippi where immigrants have previously com plained of officers’ use of excessive force, like strangling.”
Widespread are the reports of mis
treatment and inhumane living conditions in detention facilities. It’s also unnecessary, many argue—more than 83% of those facing depor tation hearings show up to court, according to the American Immigration Council. But such transfers also remove those detained from their legal and family support networks (not only damaging the morale of the person in deten tion, but disrupting the life of every member of that person’s family). And without easy access to legal representation, folks might not know their rights and may not be able to access informa tion that could prevent deportation.
When people are deported, they often are sent to countries in which they have few connections (some haven’t been back since they were born), and face even crueler detainment situations, as was the case earlier this years when two NJ men were sent to Haiti, where they endured a lack of food and clean water, overcrowding and a cholera outbreak.
Look, you may argue immigration detention is necessary, but it doesn’t need to be inhumane, and until we can do that, we ought
to consider freeing those living in that situation, since, you know, it violates the Constitution. Lawmakers could also enact legislation to shut down NJ’s last for-profit detention facility in Elizabeth (which just extended its contract with ICE until 2023) and pass the VALUES Act, which would prohibit local and state law enforcement from coordinating with ICE on immigration cases.
Know our weed guy/girl/person.
The state’s 21 legal recreational can nabis shops open for business are largely run by out-of-state corporations. That’s a problem, considering the law that legalized cannabis in NJ explicitly stated that the success of locals, veterans, women and people of color would be prioritized in the new cannabis market.
Now, there are mechanisms in the can nabis framework that will help those small-busi ness owners, including micro-licenses, which are only for those who want to open cannabis businesses in their municipality, but which cap production and business size. At least 30% percent of all cannabis licenses in the state must be given to businesses operated by people of color, women, veterans and those who live in an economically disadvantaged area, and their ap plications are given priority review by the state regulatory commission.
However, New Jerseyans bought $80 million of legal weed in the first 10 weeks of sales, and all that money’s going to multi-state operators, not those small business owners who could use it to grow their businesses. The consumer is getting used to going to these places and getting used to their prices—the prices at smaller businesses might not compare. It’s the result of the state’s slow rollout of retail canna
bis, which favored big cannabis companies that had done it in other states and were thus ready to hit the ground running.
The state can start to lessen the gap be tween big and small operators by ensuring that tax revenue gained from the sale of cannabis goes into a fund that seeds new, small cannabis businesses and incentivizing municipalities to work with small cannabis businesses.
We ruined the internet. Maybe our kids can save us.
We live in a clusterfuck tornado of stim ulation. Pity the 17-year-old who never had to slide an Encarta disc into her computer’s CDRom, or flip through the Encyclopedia Britanni ca, to find information.
A bill is progressing through the state legislature that would require curriculum in all grades of NJ public schools on media literacy— essentially it’d give kids the tools to navigate the information shitstorm in which we live. (Hey, can we pass a bill that requires adults to do this, too; maybe require them to take it before they can get on Facebook?)
But media literacy is so much more than spotting conspiracy theories and deep-fake vid eos (though that’s important). A proper curricu lum educates kids about their role as publishers in this media landscape. Do they know how tech companies use their data? Are they aware of their digital legaices? Do they know when they send photos to their friends, those “friends” may do whatever the fuck they want with them? Are those friends aware if those photos are illegal to possess or republish?
The truth is, many of us don’t know any of that either, but now that we know to ask those questions, let’s give the next generation the answers.
Do meaningful work to end homelessness.
The data on homelessness in NJ is piti ful. Nearly 20% of the state’s homeless popu lation is 55 or older. About 14,000 kids expe rienced homelessness last school year. People of color comprise half of the state’s homeless population despite making up only about 12% of the state’s population. And 7% of the state’s homeless population are veterans.
Each of those categories come with their own issues: For family homelessness, kids who experience homelessness have much higher rates of dropping out of school, contemplating suicide and mental health issues. The racial disparity in homelessness points to a historic neglect of underserved communities and racist housing policies. Seniors, already on lower, fixed incomes, don’t have the means to afford ever-rising housing prices. And veterans have much higher rates of substance abuse and mental health issues, which contribute to cycles of homelessness.
There are several ways in which we can start to lower these numbers. First, guarantee representation in eviction hearings—currently, landlords have access to legal representation up to nine times more often than tenants, lead ing to a similar number of outcomes in their favor. Second, pass legislation to count youth homelessness more accurately—the federal government uses limited data instead of data collected by schools, which show families are ex periencing homelessness up to three times more often; doing so would result in more funding for support agencies. Thirdly, incentivize (or even mandate) quality affordable housing as part of every new construction project in the state—of course, that would require NIMBYers to stop being such jackasses, so, you know, do your part and tell your neighbor.
Maybe we shouldn’t have fucking plastic in our bodies?
This is the height of human wasteful ness. We use so much fucking plastic that it ends up in our bodies. The plastic bag ban was one small step toward correcting this, but so much work remains.
For instance, let’s stop burning plastic in NJ. A 2021 report by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives found that a recycling center in Newark burned 89% of the plastic brought in to be recycled. We’re burning plastic in landfills from Cherry Hill to Passaic, often in communities already burdened by industrial effects on air and water.
We also should just stop burning gar bage, or at least incentivizing it. The Newark plant alone burns about 20 million tons of gar bage, according to Environmental Justice in The Ironbound, which is used for energy and which the state considers renewable—even though
that practice emitted 7 million tons of green house gases from 2015 to 2018, according to EarthJustice, and contributes massive amounts of ground, air and water pollution.
First, we can stop giving tens of mil lions of dollars in subsidies to these polluting companies (which they get despite plenty of pollution violations!), remove incineration as a clean-energy source and incentivize zero-waste practices like composting and actual recycling. Also, we can just use less.
Regulating what we do with the by products of making everyday items is par amount. Elevated levels of PFAS—residual chemicals from manufacturing—were found in more than 30 drinking sources across the state last year, which leads to organ malfunction, thyroid disease, decrease fertility and more.
We should know if cops have pics of us.
Study after study shows facial recog nition technology is inaccurate and biased against people of color. Government data indicates that for every one time this technolo gy wrongfully identifies a white male, there are 6 wrongful matches for black men, 16 for Asian women, 40 for black women and 79 for Ameri can Indian women.
The facial recognition technology “matches” a photo of a person from a still taken by cameras during a crime to photos in a data base, like ID photos and mug shots. Results are often wrong because of human error—people still have to OK a matched photo—and be cause the technology itself is more error-prone with people of color.
And the results can be serious. A man in Paterson was falsely detained for 10 days because of a mismatch. Now, the state Attorney General banned the use of one specific software recently, but the ACLU is calling for a total ban on other facial recognition products and for law enforcement to disclose what software they’re using. And the Electronic Frontier Foundation recently filed a brief in a case involving an NJ man asking for law enforcement to disclose what software they’re using. We’d like to know, too, if these systems are using private photos or social media photos to identify folks because that’d be a pretty big fucking invasion of privacy.
Let’s not trash the Delaware River.
The Delaware River provides drinking water to 15 million people in New Jersey and nearby states. It’s also a recreation hub, a tourist draw for dozens of communities and an im portant ecosystem for a variety of wildlife. But it’s also an important waterway for a variety of industries which threaten its sanctity.
A variety of threats face the river, the people who live near it and drink its water, and the animals that live in it. First, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), the regula
tory commission (of which the governor of NJ is a member) that oversees activity on the river, banned fracking in the watershed last year, but it did not ban the import of wastewater to the basin, nor did it ban the use of river water in fracking operations. Doing so not only ensures the health of the river but prevents the use of the river in supporting the fossil fuel industry.
Second, the DRBC granted a permit extension in September to Delaware River Partners to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in New Jersey. The plan is to ship LNG by rail (itself an untested, potentially dan gerous prospect) through dense communities in Philadelphia and Camden to the South Jersey facility. More than 100,000 signatures have been submitted in protest of the facility. Ongoing industrial activity—includ ing at least three current or proposed pipeline projects—has also resulted in harm to wildlife. Currently, there’s only 250 Atlantic sturgeon left, a vital species that uses the river to spawn; their numbers once reached 350,000. But dams, pollution, by-catch and murder-by-ship has cut their numbers dramatically. Activists are demanding a comprehensive management and repopulation strategy.
Let’s be honest about our climate goals. The state has made some bold claims about addressing climate change, but their ac tions don’t necessarily match up with the talk. For instance, while the state has committed to a goal of reaching 100% renewable energy by 2050, it’s also considering and approving permits for seven new fossil fuel projects, including two fracked gas power plants (in Woodbridge and Kearney), the LNG export facility in Gibbstown and several fracked gas pipeline expansions.
It’s also considering an expansion of the Turnpike, instead of investing those funds into increasing public transportation options. That’s curious because transportation is by far the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and their plan for reaching the 2050 goal relies on aggressively updating the state’s public transportation system. (It also calls for 100% of new vehicles to be powered by renewable sourc es within a decade; we’ll have to build a shit-ton more charging stations if that’s the case.)
It also matters how we skew the data to reach 100% renewables. The state is part of a carbon trading program, the Regional Green house Gas Initiative, which forces large energy producers to purchase allotments based on how much they emit. The funds are then spent at the direction of the states, typically (though not always) for renewable energy projects. But the early returns on RGGI indicate it may raise money for new renewable projects and reduce emission, but isn’t necessarily the cause of re duced emissions. Plus, charging energy produc ers a premium to produce also raises environ mental justice questions, as the costs associated with higher energy prices are passed onto the consumer—the residential price of natural gas has risen each of the last five years, for instance.
Look, offshore windfarms are great, money invested in renewable energy sources is great, and, generally speaking, politicians talking about climate change (as opposed to ignoring or denying it) is great. But we can and must do more: Ban new fossil fuel projects, invest in public transportation, divest the state’s pension fund from fossil fuel holdings and sub sidize people, not corporations, for the cost of rising energy prices.
Let’s stop locking up students
After the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting, the NJ attorney general announced more police would be in schools. (It’s worth noting the cops in that school did not keep them safer.)
And now a group of NJ students is calling on the state to put more mental health personnel, and fewer police in schools. Police, or School Resource Officers (SROs) in schools, like ly create more problems than they solve, accord ing to the National Education Association, which writes: “Having SROs in schools can actually create higher rates of behavioral incidents and spikes in suspensions, expulsions, and arrests.”
Look, you may have had a pleasant experience with SROs, and though we’re not vilifying the officers themselves, that’s clearly not a universal experience.
Furthermore, in NJ, black students are 18 times more likely to end up in youth prison than white students and, combined with the fact that we also have the worst black to white recid ivism rate in the country, taking steps to end the school-to-prison pipeline is critical. Because it has a cumulative effect—certainly the over-incarcera tion of people of color in this state has contribut ed to our pitiful wealth gap: A 2021 report by the NJ Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ) found the median household wealth for white folks in NJ is $322,500, compared to just $17,700 for black families and $26,100 for Latino families.
Nearly 300 students involved in Make the Road NJ marched in Elizabeth in November demanding funds previously used for SROs be redirected toward better paying teachers and in vesting in counselors and mental health resourc es. A Make the Road study conducted by NYU found 4,517 Latino students and 3,209 black
students attend a school in NJ that has a guard but no nurse. What the fuck?
Let’s shut anti-LGBTQ+ bigots up
Every once in a while the bubble Jersey progressives live in gets popped. Now, it’s hap pening more often. This year alone, someone tore, stole and vandalized Pride flags; a man was caught on a Ring camera stealing Pride flags from two homes in Bloomfield; a Pride flag was damaged then stolen from a church in Oceans ide; someone burned a Pride flag outside a church in Sparta; and protesters verbally assault ed those attending drag queen story time in Red Bank.
Too, there’s been a growing effort to ban books from NJ school libraries that deal with LGBTQ+ issues. An effort to remove books from North Hunterdon High School included public vilification of the school librarian and ongoing harassment (though the effort to remove the books ultimately proved fruitless.) Too, there’s been endless commotion from parents and opportunists about the state’s new sexual and gender identity instruction in K-12 schools.
And a select few lawmakers sought to make regulations that prohibit trans kids from participating in sports in the gender with which they identify. Now, there’s a reasonable conversa tion to be had about that issue (and about books unsuitable for children), but that’s not what’s happening. What’s happening is opportunistic politicians and misinformed people using what ever platform they can to attack people who are unlike them. And that rhetoric emboldens others to commit hate crimes and further marginalize the LGBTQ+ community.
Donate to an LGBTQ+ advocacy group,
support your local libraries, hang a Pride flag and speak up—the actions or speech of one hateful person often come with outsize resonance. Our continued and communal support matters.
We need better news.
Of the 17 daily newspapers that remain in New Jersey, two companies—Gannett and Advance Media—own all but two of them. That results in a hegemony of thought, and, in some cases, dwindling newsrooms. Last month, 200 Gannett reporters walked out of newsrooms, including in NJ, protesting staff cuts and other workplace issues. Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, recently cut 400 jobs nation wide and ended open positions for 400 more.
To fill the void, dozens of digital startups have been born in New Jersey, some of them quite good: NJ Spotlight, NJ Monitor, New Brunswick Today, and others. Yet, still, we’re far from a healthy news ecosystem.
With fewer secure jobs at newspapers, we’ll have fewer bright young people deciding to go into the industry. With fewer reporters at out lets with large resources, we’ll get fewer import ant stories and more of the quick crime, food, and Springsteen-related articles that get clicks but don’t benefit lives.
As NJ Indy can attest, the answer to this problem is not easy—it’s tough to get people to pay for news when it’s available for free in so many places. But a start would be to pay journal ists better, create a better pipeline of journalists (which includes reaching kids in underserved communities), shifting coverage away from crime and Powerball numbers and toward larger issues, and supporting local outlets that are not behold en to board rooms and shareholders.
Things are what you make of themby Matt Cortina
Perhaps what’s so appealing about Marie Kondo’s method of organi zation—the lifestyle trend du jour which, in part, prompts people to gather all their items and remove anything that doesn’t spark joy—is that it burdens the object, and not the person, with the cre ation of meaning. Move me, old plastic vase, or you’re toast. My heart no longer flutters at the sight of you, Instant Pot, and so you are banished from my life.
It’s not the Instant Pot’s fault that it doesn’t spark joy. Of course Kondo knows this; what her method does is shortcut the complex ways in which we apply meaning to objects. How we an imate the inanimate. We’re not only organizing physical objects when we apply Kondo’s method; we’re organizing the attachments our brain has made to these items, and intuiting which attach ments endure and which have been severed. It just so happens it’s a lot easier to say, “Fuck this duvet cover,” than to psychoanalyze ourselves.
In short, things are what we make of them. I’m aware of this walking through the workshop
space at ArtYard in Frenchtown in early Sep tember with Sebastienne Mundheim, founder of Philly’s White Box Theatre. Scattered around us are probably hundreds of Mundheim’s creations and various materials to make more—paper birds, boats made of plastic raspberry containers, mounds of paper in various forms, a pile of some reddish, flowing material that looks like intestines but also kind of delicious?
Some were for a series of performance art workshops Mundheim was about to conduct at ArtYard, some were from the various shows she’d created over the prior two decades. She’s kept almost everything.
And it’s kind of a burden. Not because it’s clutter, but because it all means so much. Find ing a place for it isn’t the problem, it’s caring for all of it. And the weight of that had Mundheim thinking she might call it quits on making more things.
“When you make physical things, you’re responsible for them. Like those flowers, all 70 of them have roots wrapped in tape. That’s a lot of wrapping, a lot of time. So I save everything, but then where do you put it?,” Mundheim says. “These crumpled up pieces of paper, I pay to store this crumpled paper, because it means
something to me, even though it’s just crumpled paper. So the idea of making more things that need to be stored, that I need to care about, it’s a lot of responsibility, and I was kind of done.”
That’s a different way to look at objects, or at least a perspective unique to those who create the objects in question: Meaning is immutable, and you are the steward of it. And if one contin ues to create objects with meaning, it sure would be an ever-heavying burden to carry. To illustrate the point, we walk over to Claire. Claire is a twofoot-tall puppet of a girl Mundheim created for a previous performance.
“Claire has a lot of other people at my house who are her friends,” says Mundheim. “How many Claires can you live with? But I’m not gonna ever throw away Claire.”
It’s easier for our brains to attach meaning to personified objects like Claire—go ahead, put googly eyes on a toaster and take it on a road trip and tell me you didn’t talk to it. But it’s also easier to attach meaning to all things when you see how Mundheim and those in her workshop create and transform them.
In fact, witnessing how much thought and energy goes into creating objects—and the fun, intimate, creative ways they’re brought to life in
ner. Courtesy of PCK Media, which produced Kea’s Ark, written, di rected, and produced by Susan Wallner, and which appeared on NJ PBS in February 2021.
The film revisits the story of Tawana, who built a three-story ark in the Central Ward of Newark in the ’80s.
performance—the thought occurs that maybe for those who partake in Kondo’s system, the problem is not that they have too much stuff they don’t enjoy; it’s that they’re not thinking about how to make those things joyful in the first place.
Mundheim’s September ArtYard workshops centered on the work and life of another maker— Kea Tawana, who built an 86-foot-long, three-sto ry ark out of salvaged materials in Newark’s Cen tral Ward in the ’80s. The city ultimately made her tear it down, and only recently is her work being revisited—in a prior exhibition at Gallery Aferro, Mundheim’s work at ArtYard and in a PBS docu mentary, Kea’s Ark, which features archival clips of the ark’s construction and removal, and interviews with artists, historians and friends.
ArtYard founder Jill Kearney was at that ex hibition at Gallery Aferro in 2015 and it sparked in her a desire to expand on the work of Tawana, and so reached out to Mundheim, who’d creat ed performance art for two decades on various subjects from James Joyce and Henri Rousseau to the epic of Gilgamesh.
But Tawana was an interesting, indefinable subject for Mundheim to take on. Depending on whom you ask, Tawana was an enigma, an outsider, an iconoclast, a failure and/or myriad other descriptors.
Tawana began slowly building the ark on Camden Street in 1982 using materials found from abandoned and demolished buildings in Newark. It was massive and well-constructed given the materials: the hull was made of timbers from old homes; the ballast of paving stones; the plumbing system of old toilets, sinks and pipes; all bound together by iron from fire escapes and fencing.
Naturally, the ark gained attention—some positive, some negative—and ultimately caught the eye of the city, which forced her to remove it as they wanted to sell the lot. So she moved it 25 feet to a church parking lot, but the city still wanted it down. Despite moving it, gaining national media attention and support from artists and community members, and a growing sense of its belonging in the space, the city ultimately tore it down in 1988 to make way for housing developments.
At the time, Newark was a city still dealing with disinvestment, crumbling infrastructure and systemic racial issues in the wake of the 1967 Rebellion. That episode, sparked when residents took issue with the treatment of a black cab driver, resulted in 26 people being killed, many of them black residents, and tens of millions of dollars in property damage, reducing the city to rubble.
And so for Tawana, who had been burned out of apartments in the area, to retrofit a truck into a home that she parked in Newark, and to build an ark out of the detritus left behind by the Rebellion and the ensuing neglect, was a radical act of creation in a time and place then synon ymous—by those on the outside, at least—with decay.
In many ways, Tawana was the right (and maybe only) person to build the ark in New ark. She reflected the misunderstood, not easily definable city in flux itself. She defied traditional gender stereotypes, with media at the time often mistaking her for a man. Her origins were ques tioned, too; she said she was born in Japan (and planned to sail the ark back there), yet her 2016 obituary said she was born on an Indian reserva tion.
No matter, really. But it speaks to a sense of unknowing about Tawana. In a Southern Quarterly piece about the ark, Holly Metz wrote: “Some times Kea told others she was black. Once, when challenged, she demurred that her features could not be described as typical of African Americans: ‘No,’ she replied, ‘but my soul is black!’”
Wrote Metz: “As a journalist struggling to ‘get the facts,’ I was frustrated at every turn, until I gave in. Beyond the physical reality of the Ark and neighbors’ confirmation that Kea Tawana had indeed built it alone, the story of Kea’s Ark and its maker was fluid, a composite.”
So for Mundheim, wrangling the multitudes of Tawana’s identity, the city in which she creat ed and the art itself was not straight-forward; to do so, she sought avenues of connection between her and the artist.
“When I do a deep inquiry, I get in close with this imaginary friend, and ask, what can I learn? What do I want to discover most, in some ways, in myself? … So I may ask myself, how did this person persevere in the way that she did? What were her survival techniques? And some of what I think worked for her was a kind of commitment to her solitude. I mean, she was very much out there in the world, but she was a loner. She may have written Valentines to herself, I’m not sure.
“I didn’t know Kea, but my sense of Kea is that she had a huge amount of compassion and identified with many people who were not seen. Poor people, black people, Native American peo ple, trans people. And she stood in solidarity. She had an incredibly, incredibly difficult life. And she persevered.”
In the workshop at ArtYard, Mundheim asked participants—mostly local community members, some with performance art back
grounds—to do their own inquiries into Tawana with materials Mundheim gathered. They then came together and Mundheim prompted them to share items that made Tawana’s story unique and might be able to be integrated into a perfor mance: ideas like perseverance and failure; lines from Tawana’s notebook; physical details about the ark; context from the city and the time; the perception of Tawana’s work at the time.
They also synthesized those ideas into objects. Participants created miniature handheld arks of their own out of various materials—pa per, plastic, cardboard, etc. They then used the arks in performance exercises, holding the light weight arcs on the tips of their hands, pretending to blow wind into their sails, rising and falling with the imaginary tide.
It came together in a short scene in which some members cloaked themselves in that red dish cloth, so massive that multiple people could fit under it, and so conforming that it could cre ate a multi-layered effect. Others shrouded them selves in flexible, brownish paper. Mundheim queued up cello music and dimmed the lights, and the workshop members began to move, with no direction on what they were, only a sense maybe. Amid a slow-moving sea of red, crashing on rocks swaying in the ocean, the shabby arks sailed through the tumult.
To be clear, it was just my perception that the scene depicted arks at sea. To others, it could’ve looked like a city in ruin, on fire, an ark above the storm. Others, other viewings. And the members themselves, unable to have the vantage of the full scene, surely had a different relation ship with the objects in play.
What was most fluid in the scene was not any of the materials, but our perceptions of what they mean. I see a rock, the person inside feels they are a whale or a building or freedom or a generation or maybe just a person under some cool paper.
The point is, the meaning in those inanimate objects changes from person to person, minute to minute. And for all who that are there to witness it, those meanings stick. In this instance, in formed by all we know about Tawana’s story, the experience of the workshop itself and the knowl edge that hands in this room built these objects, the paper clumps and cardboard boats and red fabric just mean more.
What a loss it would be to throw them away. * * *
Teaching others how to create, perform and inject meaning into objects is an art in itself; one that Mundheim has spent years cultivating. That work began early, when it wasn’t really work. Mundheim says her parents were natural storytellers who passed onto her, by osmosis, an ability to share.
“I have no dance training, no theater
training,” she says. “But I grew up with a father who is a law professor and an effective lecturer. You listen to him because he’s very spare, and most of the lectures have questions with a long pause, and the questions are worth pondering. … And then my mother is a very colorful storyteller who also commands an audience. I was a story teller in training through my family and then a mover through martial arts.”
Years ago, Mundheim noticed a martial arts instructor through an open glass window one day and was stunned by the beauty of it. So she began practicing martial arts—she’s a black belt now. It shows. One notices how effortless it seems to be for Mundheim to move with a flimsy object steadied on the back of her hand. That fluidity can’t necessarily be taught in a three-day work
shop, but Mundheim has developed ways to get the most out of people who may not be experi enced in this type of performance.
For instance, often in performance art, per formers are asked to carry, balance or otherwise inhabit objects; retaining the natural objects is important so the audience’s immersion stays true, but it also helps the performers identify with the object more closely. Learning how to teach this skill began when Mundheim worked with chil dren.
“I actually developed this technique of balancing sticks on the wrists when I was working with kids who were really rambunctious. We were going to build with these PVC [pipes] but they wouldn’t stop doing sword play. So I thought, what’s a different game that will make for focus?
I said, let’s see if you can balance these on your wrists. And it’s fun to do, because it’s a chal lenge. It created a beautiful focus,” Mundheim says. “I developed more ideas around that— isolate, change levels, change hands, change speed. This is actually very helpful for learning to perform with an object because you’re giving all your focus to this thing staying alive and not falling onto the ground. That’s what you need to do when you’re performing with objects, too. It’s gotta be all about the thing and not about you. You are in service of the object, following it, breathing into it, noticing its properties. As you attend to the object, you model attention to it.”
Working with groups in this manner is “generative” for Mundheim—she likes seeing the moments it clicks for performers; when they understand what they’re asked to do, see how it fits into a larger piece and start to imbue the objects with their own expressions. But it also brings diverse ideas into a workspace, and cre ates a sense of unity among the participants.
“Leading workshops helps me to get the ideas going. We read together, we build together, we move together,” Mundheim says. “We all become invested in the story together, too.” * * *
Investing in the story—so much so that you can do it justice and create art from it—requires an artist like Mundheim to connect with the person she’s going to be basing her work on. So for Mundheim, who was considering quitting making things, it’s a bit of a 180 to go from not making things ever again to diving into a figure like Tawana, steeped as she was in ambiguity, contradictions and a complicated legacy.
But in inquiring about Tawana, Mund heim found more similarities than differences— if Tawana was the right person to build the ark, maybe Mundheim is the right person to build a performance about her. They’re both makers. They both make things that mean something to them. And everything they make, whether it’s torn down by the city or living safely with the creator herself, will one day turn to dust.
“Ultimately, I actually really identify with Kea because what do I do? I work incredibly hard. I run up and down ladders. I build all this stuff. And then it all goes away. It’s absurd to work so hard for something that is ephemeral, but that’s what we all do on this planet.”
So if it’s absurd to do it, and the burden is heavy, then why did Mundheim recalibrate and take on the Tawana challenge?
“Because, we started to play and it’s so fricking fun. It’s sort of like, there’s all the stuff. But then we start dancing around the room with these things and it’s so exciting.”
In other words, they sparked joy.
Mundheim will return to ArtYard in March to put together a performance inspired by Tawana’s work, which’ll premiere in May in ArtYard’s new theater.
Wendy Red Star, Fall, 2006, archival pigment print on Sunset Fiber rag. 21x24”. Red Star’s and others work on display at Rowan University Art Gallery through Dec. 21.
Landscape and Hierarchies explores the responsibility that lies be tween the individual and the collective and the ripple effects human actions have on society and nature.
Amie Adelman: Moving Lines
Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton. Through Jan. 9, 2023.
An exploration of various woven and non-woven structures influenced by an in-depth study of international and national historical textile traditions.
CASE at Rowan, Glassboro. Through Dec. 21, 2022.
An exhibition of Emily Erb’s collage and silk paintings. Erb embeds within the boundaries of a larger-than-life human form, navigational charts such as road, topography and war campaign maps to represent the different facets of the human physiological system.
Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers—New Brunswick. Through Dec. 30, 2022.
The works of art in Locating Georgia highlight the diverse cultural and visual traditions that even today are rarely seen outside Georgia (the country), divided in themes of artists’ environs, religious imagery and the politics of identity.
Lori Field: Tiger Tarot
Montclair Art Museum. Through Jan. 1, 2023.
A multidisciplinary exhibition centered on tarot cards the artist created during the pandemic. Field employs a reoccurring cast of human and animal hybrids to explore themes of identity, vulnerabil ity and spirituality.
Rowan University Art Gallery. Through Dec. 21, 2022.
A dynamic new group exhibition featuring Naomieh Jovin, Tommy Kha, Wendy Red Star, and Leonard Suryajaya. This exhibition will
present photography that, through humor, theatrics, and playfulness, reframes and fractures conventional, binary perceptions about culture, race, and gender.
New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton. Through April 30, 2023.
127 works by 95 artists centered on the them of Reemergence— from the pandemic, political polarization and racial reckoning.
RetroBlakesberg: Captured on Film: 1978-2008 Morris Museum, Morris Township. Through Feb. 5, 2023.
A deep dive into a different aspect of Jay’s body of work; early formative years, live performance, portraiture and the Grateful Dead featuring more than 125 images. Photographs were shot on film but are displayed on archival metal sheets here. More on page 15.
Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg Gallery, Visual Arts Center of NJ, Summit. Through Jan. 8, 2023.
Ripple Effect features the artwork of 37 Visual Arts Center of New Jersey teaching artists who actively transform and enrich lives through the shared experience of art.
Saya Woolfalk: Field Notes from the Empathic Universe Newark Museum of Art. Through December 31, 2022.
For this exhibition, Woolfalk studied the Museum’s herbaria and landscape painting collections, reinterpreting these artifacts— and their relation to American identity—from the perspective of the Empathics, fictional futuristic beings who time-travel and shape-shift across the multiverse.
There & Back: The Journey to Vietnam and Home NJ Vietnam Veteran Memorial and Vietnam Era Museum, Holmdel. Through March 15, 2023.
This exhibition draws deeply from veteran and civilian flight crew accounts. Rare in-flight photos, uniforms and ephemera provide a seldom-seen look at the bond between soldiers and the flight attendants who served with airlines during the Vietnam War.Alexandre Arrechea: Landscape and Hierarchies ArtYard, Frenchtown. Through Jan 22, 2023.
Foxing nears equilibrium after a decade in indie/emo rock.by Kyle Nardine
In a manner of speaking, the goal was always to play Starland Ballroom. When emo/indie band Foxing takes the stage in Sayreville on Dec. 9, it’ll be taking another small step on the 10-year journey from Midwestern isolation to na tional recognition.
“The goal of the band was to leave,” says lead singer Conor Murphy. “Not to leave St. Louis, but to leave to go on tour. You have to have the drive to do it because you don’t happen to cross a touring band or a booking agent in St. Louis. No one believes in you until you do it and make them believe in you.”
Touring on the heels of their fourth studio album, 2021’s Draw Down the Moon, it’s fair to say folks believe in Foxing. After playing “crappy houses and basements, and working the DIY scene,” on their first tour, Foxing eventually met a manager and a booking agent, and started to tour with other bands. But the road from there to here, from then to now, has no road map, Murphy says, “instead, it’s like, here’s how you grind for 10 years.”
How you grind, it turns out, includes over
coming getting hit by a runaway truck in North ern California, getting a broken nose at a show in Chicago and having the tour van stolen in Texas, which Murphy calls, predictably, “one of the worst moments in our band’s history.”
But part of what makes the grind sustainable is approaching the highs and lows with perspec tive, which Foxing explores on “At Least We Found the Floor,” a track on the recent album.
“Lyrically I wrote that song about bad luck and circumstance,” explains Murphy. “Like for one of the lyrics, I wrote about a van crashing, and when you hit those really rock bottom mo ments, the floor could drop out at any moment and it can get worse. There’s some kind of com fort to me knowing that there is no rock bottom the same way that there is no ceiling to your happiness.”
And there have been plenty of moments of happiness, too; in fact, many have been born directly out of the bad times.
“With every one of those horrible situations, they are followed by, eventually, something really beautiful,” Murphy says. “That trailer being sto len was a really low moment and all of the gear was gone and wasn’t coming back. But we put up a GoFundMe, and a lot of people shared it and we eventually made the money back that we needed to get back on the road.”
To severely bastardize Tolstoy, every touring band that started small has its own unique, tumul tuous journey. Many give in before they achieve the level of success Foxing has, and Murphy says he’s seen plenty of wonderful groups quit before their dreams are realized, particularly in St. Louis.
“The music scene is vibrant and full of amazing artists,” says Murphy. “But on the other hand it’s really, really hard for bands to leave St. Louis because the next closest city to us is Kan sas City, which is four hours away. It’s hard to tour because you really have to put money into your gas tank just to get to the next closest city as opposed to the East Coast [where] you have Philly, New York, Jersey, Boston; they are all kind of right there. It’s frustrating that you have these incredible artists in St. Louis, who kind of exist, make an album, play locally, and then break up.”
What happens when bands persist and survive is growth. That’s evident on the new album, which pushes Foxing into new mu sical and lyrical directions. Draw Down the Moon sounds different than the rest of Foxing’s catalog, with forays into arena rock, pop-rock and dance, but the essence of the band is retained. That was the point.
“We had a lot of intentionality with this al bum,” explains Murphy. “Our last album, people wrote nice things about it and we were exper imenting with it and pushing our boundaries.Courtesy Hopeless
With Draw Down the Moon, the intention early on was to write something that was fun to listen to and play. Definitely the intention the whole time was to create a vibe for every song and follow through with it and that’s where you get the songs being vastly different from each other.”
Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra helped produce Draw Down the Moon, whom Murphy says was “such a good person to work with” for myriad reasons.
“He doesn’t tell you what words to write, and instead he asks questions, which is the most important thing to do when you’re helping someone write lyrics,” Murphy says. “He also has brilliant insight when it comes to structuring songs; like, for example, we’ll have a song that’s a very standard verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure, and he’ll come in and say, ‘This song needs to be a linear structure; instead you have all these parts, but they are better when they don’t have a chorus to them.’”
The musical evolution is evidenced throughout the album; take the song “Go Down Together” for instance, which is poppier than what we’re used to hearing from Foxing and which tells an old story with modern relevance.
“It was this casual pop song,” says Murphy. “Lyrically it’s about the history of Bonnie and Clyde, and there’s a book called Go Down Together about the history of Bonnie and Clyde. Reading that book was an im portant thing for me during the pandemic. When you read the history of Bonnie and Clyde, even though they are despicable people, there’s a weird attachment you have to them as people.
“They existed during this really bleak time in American history where no matter what you did or how smart you were or how hard you tried, how you were born and where you were born determined how your life would play out and they broke that mold. For me it was less inspired about what they did to break the mold and the song was more about the mold itself.”
Murphy was also inspired to borrow an old story for another song on the album, “Beacons.” Originally, Murphy intended to write the song about a story he read about a mafia boss, but then Murphy tai lored it to make it a story about his own life.
“I got really great advice from Eric (Hudson, guitars), and he was like, ‘This is a cool story, but it feels like it doesn’t mean anything to you.’ He gave me a challenge to write about something that has mean ing to me,” says Murphy. “So I wrote it about my sexuality and coming out as bisexual, and wrote something about how freeing it feels, and to be honest and tell the truth.”
In “Beacons,” there is also a line that pays homage to Foxing’s first LP, The Albatross, and how Murphy has grown as a person and musician since its release in 2014.
“That lyric is partially a musical thing of trying to put the past behind you musically and start fresh,” says Murphy. “But more impor tantly the way I was writing lyrics on that first album was very guarded, depressed and defensive. I was 18 when I wrote those lyrics, but they were very much from a place of frustration and anger rather than a place of content, honesty and respect.”
Even though you will still hear people scream the lyrics to “The Medic” when played at Foxing shows, Murphy says the band is in a different spot mentally now than they were during The Albatross
“Eric, Jon (Hellwig, drums) and I found a way to write that is healthy for us,” explains Murphy. “For a long time we were guessing our way towards everything, and only in the last two albums have we found a rhythm for being able to write cohesively and in a healthy way. The Albatross for example is an album that we guessed on everything that we were doing. For some people that was their favorite album, and I see some people say, ‘Why don’t you write an album like that again?’ And I’m like we literally wouldn’t know how. Everyone was guessing and yelling at each other.’’
DECEMBER SHOWS December 29
House of Independents Asbury Park Joe P
House of Independents, Asbury Park
12/6: High On Fire, Municipal Waste, Gel, The Early Moods.
12/10: Fiddlehead, Mindforce, One Step Closer, Hotline TNT, Reaching Out. 12/11: New Jersey Is The World.
12/15: Agnostic Front, No Redeeming Social Value, Subzero, Dead Blow Hammer.
12/17: Sub Urban, Teenage Disaster. 12/18: The Ones You Forgot, Northvale, American Stereo, Still Ghost.
12/22: Sam MacPherson.
12/23: Sonic Blume, Loveseat Pete, Idle Wave.
12/30: Night Birds, No Problem, Bacchae, Meathouse, Chemical X.
The Saint, Asbury Park 12/8: Born Without Bones, Heart to Gold, Housewife, Bobby Mahoney.
12/10: Colie Brice and the New Age Blues Experience.
12/11: Pollyanna, Family Dinner.
Stone Pony, Asbury Park 12/2: Machine Head.
12/16: Low Cut Connie, Rachel Ana Dobken. 12/17: Dogs in a Pile. 12/18: Dogs in a Pile, Sicard Hollow. 12/28: Free the Witness, White Wing, Hot Dress, Indigo Sky, BBAM.
Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park 12/11: Counterparts, seeyouspacecowboy, Dying Wish, Foreign Hands. 12/17: The Ribeye Brothers, Black Flamin gos, Dentist.
Anchor Rock Club, Atlantic City 12/10: Less Than Jake, Cliffdiver, Keep Flying.
12/30: The Customers, Bare Bodkin, Frankie Mermaid.
Saltys Beach Bar, Belmar
12/30: SSPN feat. No Pressure, Blind Justice, Heavy Chains, Krust, Regulate, Never Again.
Dingbatz, Clifton 12/2: RA, A Killer’s Confession, Blud Red Roses, Corevalay, Consider Me A Stranger. 12/15: Pyrexia, Malignancy, FireHaze. 12/18: Chasing Paragon, HeartBreak,
Shoreline Drive, Prime Meridian. 12/29: ReVerse, The Oblivion, The Witch.
Factory Records, Dover 12/1: Burial Dance, Massa Nera, Silithyst, Raptureisdead!. 12/10: Altered States, Kirkby Kiss, Knife City.
Flemington DIY, Flemington 12/3:Bury Your Memories Fest -Marigold, The Ones You Forgot, Little Hag, Title Holder 12/10: Horizons Quartet. 12/17: Faraday Ribcage.
Crossroads, Garwood 12/3: Awful Waffle, Dissidente, PWRUP. 12/9&10: The Bouncing Souls. 12/15: Joyce Manor. 12/17: Dave Hause w/ Will Hoge.
White Eagle Hall, Jersey City 12/4: Chris Stamey, Jody Stephens, Mike Mills, Jon Auer, Pat Sansone perform Big Star ‘s ‘#1 Record.’ 12/6: Less Than Jake, Cliffdiver, Keep Flying. 12/8: Deer Tick, Izzy Heltai. 12/9: The Budos Band, Roge. 12/10: NRBQ, Brower. 12/16: The Lemonheads, Juliana Hatfield, On Being an Angel.
Jimmy’s Lounge, Kearny 12/2: Mortician, Embludgeonment, Dysentery, The Crippler, Lunar Blood. 12/18: The Dirty Stayouts, Schmuck, Derailment, Presence of Conflict.
Madison Community Arts Center, Madison 12/18: Come Original Music Showcase. 12/31: The New North Jersey Jazz Trio.
The Wellmont Theater, Montclair 12/18: Lorna Shore, Shadow of Intent, Invent Animate, Signs of the Swarm, Sentinels, Endless.
12/29: Lil Tjay.
Mayo PAC, Morristown 12/2: David Foster, Katharine McPhee. 12/11: Darren Criss.
12/1: Morrissey. 12/9: Recycled Percussion. 12/10: The Temptations, Four Tops. 12/17: Willy Chirino, Leoni Torres. 12/23: Capone.
12/4: Nodding Off, Negative Force, Deluzion, Bayway, Greater Pain.
Cinco De Mayo, New Brunswick
12/3: Never Again, Eyes of Fear, Purity Control.
State Theater, New Brunswick 12/1: Patti Labelle.
12/4: Martina Mcbride.
12/6: Steve Hackett. 12/8: The Irish Tenors. 12/11: Kenny G.
South Orange PAC, South Orange 12/1: Hot Sardines.
12/2: Judy Collins.
12/3: Martin Sexton.
12/7: Sons of Serendip.
12/11: Cherish the Ladies.
12/17: Sweet Honey in the Rock. 12/21: Nefesh Mountain.
Princeton Folk Music Society 12/9: Vance Gilbert.
Starland Ballroom, Sayreville
12/2: Midtown, The Movielife.
12/3: Midtown, Lanemeyer.
12/7: State Champs, Hunny, Between You and Me, Save Face.
12/9: Taking Back Sunday, Foxing, Hollyglen.
12/10: Taking Back Sunday, Oso Oso, Modern Chemistry.
12/16&17: Streetlight Manifesto, Church Girls.
12/28: Killswitch Engage, Rivers of Nihil, Unearth, Lybica.
Stanhope House, Stanhope
12/2: Dave Fields.
12/9: Adam Ezra Group.
12/10: Lance Lopez.
12/16: Bob Lanza.
12/17: Milo Z.
The Log Cabin, Toms River
12/16: School Drugs, Mercy Union, Fuck It I Quit, Wet Specimens, Sleeptalker.
Millhill Basement, Trenton
12/2: The Dream of When(?).
12/23: The Cryptkeeper Five, Sharky’s Machine, Alpha Rabbit, Hobo Houston.
How NJ witch music collective Black Lipstick creates spaces in music for those often excluded from itby Kyle Nardine
Mary Von Aue was 9 years old at the restaurant where her mother worked as a bartend er when her life changed forever. She heard Green Day’s Dookie for the first time.
“The teenagers would all hang out there, and I remember when Dookie came out,” says Von Aue. “I wanted to be cool with those kids, and Dookie was a gateway drug to punk music.”
Von Aue would later hone her punk chops by hanging out at skate parks, and later discovered ska music. Even though Von Aue loved the energy and rawness of these genres, there was something that those shows provided Von Aue that other genres couldn’t: a chance to actually go to shows.
“I have epilepsy,” explains Von Aue. “I couldn’t go to huge concerts or arena shows because of strobe lights. What I loved about the DIY scene and going to local shows in basements is that there aren’t any strobe lights. And if there were, you could just tell the guy, ‘Hey, person who lives in this apartment in New Brunswick, I have epilepsy. Can you turn off the strobe lights?’ They would be like, ‘Yeah, no problem,’ and you can’t do that with arena shows. I was obsessed with music early on, and it became clear with my disability that the only safe and accessible way to do that was through the DIY scene.”
Accessibility was on the forefront of both Von Aue and Ali Nugent’s minds when they
created Black Lipstick in 2021. Black Lipstick is a witch music collective that fosters acces sibility, and making sure that LGBTQIA+, non-binary folks and minorities have a place on the stage. Von Aue is a music journalist and has written articles for the New York Times and Vice. Nugent is a concert photographer, who has photographed artists such as Taylor Swift and Florence Welch, and worked at the OG Asbury Lanes. Both understand the impor tance of accessibility and having different voices in the room.
“We have been going to shows all of our lives, and we have been to countless shows that were all-dude bills,” says Nugent. “We looked around and thought to ourselves, ‘It would be cool if the shows looked like the audience more.’ In all of the things we create, we try to bring other voices along, especially if those people don’t always get the mic.’
“Kathleen Hanna’s Riot Grrrrl ‘girls to the front’ was sadly revolutionary, and this scene doesn’t have to be so hypermasculine. It’s been decades since girls to the front start ed, and we still have to yell that. Why are we still screaming that? This should have already been solved. We want to create a space that is accessible to women, to nonbinary punks, LGBTQIA+ punks, and people of color. We are in this scene, but we aren’t on stage. Why does the stage look so different from the room?”
Making music more accessible to under served communities also means realizing that the area that Von Aue and Nugent call home is
becoming less accessible for working-class and middle-class folks. With a more commercial ized Asbury Lanes and luxury condos popping up everywhere in Asbury Park, it’s hard not to notice it; Nugent and Von Aue realize it as well.
This past summer, the Asbury Park Press published a report on housing in the shore area, and the impact on LLCs buying houses there. This has resulted in fewer homes avail able, and fewer opportunities for residents to live year-round in Asbury. It also has effects on the creative scene in the area.
“I don’t understand when rich people move in, they destroy culture,” says Von Aue. “They erase culture and turn everything into something so vanilla. Families are being pushed out for people who live here for three months of the year, and it’s sad that people are selling it away for people who are maybe here six weeks out of the year.”
“We lost a lot of venues,” says Nugent. “I worked at the old Lanes, and someone else bought it and now it’s one of the worst ven ues. It looks like the set of the Teen Choice Awards. They are putting on more local shows now, but it took a long time to work with locals again. The old venue was a pillar of the com munity, and it sucked how it was wiped away like that.’’
But the shows must go on, and Black Lipstick has hosted a ton of them in the past year or two. Along with music, there are also tarot card readings at the events. To match with the coven theme, Black Lipstick has
hosted Equinox shows as well. The concerts are free, but donations are welcomed and they are sent to groups such as Food Not Bombs and other community organizations.
In the summer, Black Lipstick had a show after the overturning of Roe v Wade, which raised over $1,100 for reproductive rights organizations. It was a memorable show for Von Aue after a dark and scary time.
“We were empowered by rage,” says Von Aue. “I was also really scared because of the potential of vigilantism. I went to school in the South, and you have people who act justified in standing outside an abortion clinic and think ing they are doing god’s work by targeting women. Talking about accessibility, there are women who don’t have a way out of their state to get health care. They are kind of fucked.’’
“It was important to us,” says Nugent about the show. “New Jersey has pretty codified laws about abortion as it currently stands. We donated to the greater network to help out communities that are going to see the first-hand effects of the reversal.’’
Recently, Black Lipstick hosted an event with music journalist Dan Ozzi on the weekend when the Menzingers were in town.
“He wanted to host an event for his most recent release called Sellout,” explains Von Aue. “He wanted to talk about the music industry, and we decid ed it would be a great time to host that conversation. It was also my birthday as well. The Menzingers were also in town that weekend and it was a great bookend to the weekend and a lot of crossover with the fans.”
Even though the witchy nature of Black Lipstick will always be a staple of the events, Von Aue and Nugent would like to see Black Lipstick grow to bigger venues.
“I would like to book bigger rooms,” explains Nugent. “We’ve been hovering around the 150 cap, but growing to larger rooms would be cool. From there, we would like to go to other cities as well. We have a strong base of community in Asbury, but there is community everywhere.”
“What I would like to do is to book a really large band, and pair them with a local favorite,” says Von Aue. “That way we are still supporting art, punk and music in Asbury Park, and we are doing it with big names and people we think are up and coming. The music is so incredible here, and the people of Asbury Park do so much for music. We have tourists who show up and take pictures of whatever bar Bruce Springsteen scratched his balls at. We want to make sure the tourists who come here are ingrained and involved in supporting local events.”
Dense is a design magazine about New Jersey, but it’s not what you think. In its pages, you won’t find glossy photo spreads of ritzy mansion inte riors or roundups of things to buy. In fact, the first issue centered on something you likely consider the antithesis of glamor: the Turnpike.
The only thing Dense wants to sell you is the idea that New Jer sey, as America’s most densely populated state, can teach the rest of the world how design has shaped our past and how it can shape our future.
The magazine, which was founded by Lune Ames and Petia Morozov and whose editors include Andrew Harrison and Gretchen Von Koenig, launched last year via Kickstarter.
Now, Dense is ready to expand its vision and is looking toward a new venture: bringing a fair celebrating zines and art books to New Jersey. Dense has partnered with the Monira Foundation and Mana Contemporary to present the first annual Jersey Art Book Fair in Jersey City on Jan.28 and 29, 2023. The two-day event will host exhibitors, workshops, parties, and more.
“When Dense was first conceived, we always thought of ourselves as a zine,” says Morozov.
Art books and zines can sometimes be the same thing, but gen erally zines are a bit scrappy, often made from regular copy paper and stapled, and art books are constructed to more closely resemble books you might find in a store. Any type of writing or artwork can make a good zine, and traditionally the format has been particularly appealing for members of marginalized communities who have been shut out of some more traditional publishing opportunities.
“We’re really hoping we can build a community of book artists, zine makers, small presses and independent publishers here in New Jersey,” says Morozov.
The Jersey Art Book Fair plans to host over 50 bookmaker ex hibitors, including artists, photographers, writers, designers, publishers, small presses and printers whose work will include zines, broadsides, graphic novels and more. Other mediums may include bookbinding, screen printing, pop-up books, letterpress and paper making. Exhibitors are still being finalized and will be announced on the JAB website in December.
Though exhib i tors may come from anywhere, there will definitely be an emphasis on highlighting art ists with New Jersey ties. “We thought it was time to bring something to New Jersey,” Morozov says, in part because, “I think some people worry that calling themselves Jersey-based comes with some kind of liability.”
While attending the biggest book fair in the United States, she wore a Dense shirt that reads “The City of New Jersey,” hoping it would start conversations that would connect her to artists from the state. Sure enough, though she only met one artist at the event who was listed as a New Jersey artist, several more artists commented on the shirt and revealed they were from the state, but had since moved.
Morozov says the art book fair will be “a perfect opportunity to circle back to our origins and be in fellowship with and in celebration of print.”
The event will be held at the Monira Foundation’s space within Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, “not just because they have a great space,” says Morozov, but because, “they happen to also have an in credible monthly series of book artists who are featured in their exhibit space,” so it’s a very natural fit.
Mana Contemporary is one of New Jersey’s largest art centers, with over 2 million square feet of exhibition and studio spaces.
In preparation for the Jersey Art Book Fair, Morozov and other members of Dense attended other art book fairs both virtually and in person, including the NY Art Book Fair in October. Attending these fairs and exhibiting at them gave them insight into what works and what doesn’t when it comes to successful events.
‘Dense,’ seeks to build a community of creators through a unique design magazine and festival
by Kerri SullivanPhotos courtesy Dense
“In some cases the exhibitors will roll out new material for an event and put an immense amount of work to make it ready,” Morozov says. “We’re wanting to be mindful that they’re not vendors, they are looking to these events to be the one moment in which it makes sense for them to release something.”
For exhibitors, some benefits of partici pating in the art book fair include getting their work in front of new audiences, making con nections, making sales and getting inspiration from seeing the work of others. The event will be especially friendly towards creators who are new to fairs.
“It was really important for us to feel like folks who have never been on any of those circuits and want to break out for the first time and have really compelling work can find a home at Jersey Art Book Fair,” says Morozov.
Thought was put into how the event will feel for attendees, too. Morozov says the fair will be “a really immersive experience.” Unlike ordering online or browsing a book store, shopping at an art book fair puts readers and collectors in direct contact with the art ists/publishers.
“It’s such a welcoming space for folks who want to support the art but aren’t nec
essarily comfortable or confident about picking artwork to hang on their walls, but feel really comfortable having it in their hands and on their table. The work is super accessible from a price perspective,” Morozov says.
“There really is something for everyone. Once you’re hooked that’s it—you become a collector.”
While Dense’s second issue, which will center on the Paterson Silk Strike of 1913, won’t be available in time for the fair, copies of their first issue and other merch will be. And there’s always next year—“We would like this to be a recurring event,” Morozov says, adding that they are al ready thinking about how to “sustain this as a program that can return year after year.”
“We’re interested in it being a positive experience for everybody.”
The Jersey Art Book Fair will be held on Jan. 28-29, 2023 at Mana Contemporary at 888 Newark Ave., Jersey City.
Exploring the pervasive nature of hate through... Barney?by Kyle Nardine
Hatred. It’s a vice to which many of us cling. We employ it for the small things—the sound of a marimba blasting from an iPhone at 5 a.m., the colorful bugs which invaded our gar dens this summer, the football team with a star on their helmet. And, sometimes we let it control our thoughts and actions; how much of this past election (and future ones) was dictated by hate— for a candidate, for the other sides’ beliefs, for one another?
Are we addicted to hate? To the intoxi cating rush of purpose and the convenience of focusing on a clear enemy, nuance be damned? And has today’s media landscape made it too easy to get our fix of it without getting out of bed?
Consider Barney. Yes, the big purple dino saur. For some Gen Xers and Millenials, one of our first hatreds was Barney—harmless, friendly and comforting Barney. Haddon Heights native and filmmaker Tommy Avallone explores the ha tred for this fuzzy T-Rex, how the hatred mani fested in real-world ways, and the broader nature of hate, in his new documentary, I Love You, You Hate Me on Peacock.
The documentary explores a shooting caused by Patrick Leach, the son of Barney’s
mother and creator, Sheryl Leach. Avallone also shows how unnecessarily cruel people were to Barney. Obviously, Avallone explores Bar ney-bashing in the documentary, but the larger message he wanted to explore was why people hate the things they do.
“I found this 1993 news broadcast, and students from the University of Nebraska hosted a Barney-bashing event,” explains Avallone. “All of these students were beating up Barney and ripping apart Barney dolls. At the end, the news caster was like, ‘That’s the future of our country right there,’ and I was like, we are living in that future now. I wanted to explore why we hate the things we hate, but through the story of Barney the Dinosaur.
“It was never, ‘Hey, I want to do a Barney
documentary.’ I thought it would be a good way to talk about a real thing.”
Avallone features cast members of Barney & Friends in the documentary, and people who were leaders and instigators of Barney hate such as the San Diego Chicken, and members of The Jihad to Destroy Barney. The topic of hate isn’t limited to children’s television either, and Aval lone featured a former white supremacist turned anti-hate activist to give her views on hate. Aval lone hopes that I Love You, You Hate Me will make people think about changing their behavior.
“I showed I Love You, You Hate Me to a couple different friends and they said it made them ques tion their behavior,” says Avallone. “Like, ‘Why do I hate this,’ or, ‘Why do I need to comment on this?’ It’s looking at hate in the simplest form like an oven and exploring that whole thing in ourselves about why we do the things we do.”
Avallone just held a successful Kickstarter campaign for his next project, The House From… about examining living in the house that is fa mous for being in a TV show.
“What’s it like to live in the Full House house? The Home Alone house, or the Goonies house?” Avallone says. “People have memories of having Thanksgiving, birthdays and Christmases at the house, but everyone is outside taking pic tures of where Danny Tanner lived.”
‘The Power of Silence’ shines a light on slavery in NJby Matt Cortina
New Jersey was built on slavery. Colonists were given land based on how many people they enslaved. State leaders—signers of the Declaration of Independence—enslaved people. Slave auctions were held from Perth Amboy to Camden. NJ built wealth selling products to Southern plantations, and during the Civil War, NJ supplied the Confederate Army with uniforms and battle gear.
“New Jersey was that last Northern state to attempt to abolish slavery, and it was probably the Northern state with the strongest sympathies to ward the South,” says Linda Caldwell Epps, Ph.D. and CEO of 1804 Consultants, in the beginning of the NJ PBS documentary, The Price of Silence: The Forgotten Story of New Jersey’s Enslaved People.
Then, echoing the sentiments of many of us who attended NJ public schools, she says: “Never once did I, certainly in elementary school or high school, learn anything at all about the enslavement of people in this state.”
Thus was the impetus for filmmaker Ridgeley Hutchinson to create this two-part documentary that takes viewers from the state’s foundation, intractably entwined with slavery, to the inequi ties and societal ramifications that persist today. Hutchinson, who was executive director of the regional carpenters union for decades and for whom this is his first film, was inspired to take on this subject when he realized that not only is the history of slavery in NJ woefully absent from pub lic education but that he knew people with direct ties to people who were enslaved here.
“I was shocked to learn of the existence and prevalence of slavery, and that these friends of mine were direct descendants. It occurred to me what it must’ve been like for me to hang out with friends and not have anyone even acknowledge this or learn it,” Hutchinson says.
Those friends include Beverly Mills, who,
with Elaine Buck, runs the Stoutsburg Cemetery Association, which oversees a 300-year-old African American cemetery in Hopewell. In the film, Mills shares the story of learning about her relative, Friday Truehart, who was brought to the state from Charleston, SC, by a Baptist pastor named Oliver Hart during the Revolutionary War—and in doing so, took a 13-year-old boy away from his mother. Never did the two see each other again.
One of the many triumphs of The Price of Si lence is that it centers the stories of those who were enslaved, like Friday.
“I knew that in creating it with personal stories … that it would evoke [viewers’] emotions and take it from something that could have been a history lesson, which I didn’t really want to do, and [make it] a history lesson with stories that people could actually relate to and put them in the shoes of those individuals,” Hutchinson says.
Those personal stories are juxtaposed with cut ting reminders that enslaved people were property. For instance, Hart’s will specified Friday was to be freed, but he was first to be given to his son, along with other family possessions—papers and pepper mills.
Or consider the story of Prime, as told in The Price of Silence. Prime was enslaved in Princeton, but when the loyalist head of household fled out of state, Prime escaped back to NJ believing if he fought for the Continental Army, he’d be free at the end of the war. He did fight and, at war’s end, worked as a day laborer in Trenton. To his sur prise, a man came and essentially kidnapped him one day, saying he had purchased Prime from his original owner. He produced a sales receipt—100 British pounds for a chair, a horse and “negroes.”
But what’s so indicative of how enslaved peo ple were viewed as property is that when the claim to Prime’s ownership went to court, the court ruled that the state actually owned him, not the purchaser, because it had seized Prime’s original owner’s property. Think about that: The state of New Jersey owned this man.
Prime was freed through an act of legislature; in his appeal to the state, he wrote: “The legisla
ture then sitting at Princeton seemed to be of the opinion that there was something very inconsis tent in contending for liberty under an appeal to heaven and at the same time selling the bodies and service of human beings into perpetual bondage.”
What a historically profound statement to not only include in the film, but to find at all. Indeed, the personal histories of enslaved people are not easy to find; we only know so much about Friday in large part because of Oliver Hart’s journals. They were property, and so records of their lives are minimal; and not to be glib, but there might exist more information about a chair on Antiques Roadshow than about someone’s ancestor.
So it’s a testament to The Power of Silence, and the work of Mills, Buck and the other sources featured in it, that these stories are told, and told in an engaging way. It sets the stage for the second part of the film, which dives into the lasting im pacts of slavery and how centuries-old perceptions of black people pervade (and infect) society today.
“The more I learned, I thought I can’t do this without making a statement about how the African American community is still feeling the impacts of slavery today,” Hutchinson says.
In the film, lawmakers, researchers and advo cates draw clear lines between slavery and current inequities for black people in housing, criminal jus tice, income inequality and more. The film makes a powerful case for widespread reform and repa rations. And, reinforcing the strength of the film, Hutchinson marries those discussions with a frank conversation with a black musician who grew up in Hopewell and recounts the everyday prejudices and racism she experienced growing up in NJ.
The Power of Silence connects us to people, throughout history, harmed by slavery in NJ and provides some tools on how to address the lin gering injustices. But perhaps its most elemental strength—given that slavery has been absent from our standard education in this state and that folks are trying to ban curricula that includes mention of it—is that it’s willing to take a look at all.
For more, go to truehartproductions.org.
Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market
Dec. 10-11, CURE Insurance Arena, Trenton
Skating On The Square
Thursday-Sunday in December, Hulfish Street, Princeton
Start new traditions this holiday season at Palmer Square’s “eco-friendly” outdoor synthetic skating rink. Bring your own skates or borrow theirs.
Christmas at Allaire
Dec. 4, 11 and 18, The Historic Village at Allaire, Wall Township
This event features the Village being trans formed into an enchanting showcase of holiday cheer. Enjoy the warm glow of open hearths and candle-lit windows as you wander through the Village from the Chapel to Allaire House, amidst the joyful sound of live caroling and the whimsical tunes of the harp and the dulcimer.
Craft as Art
Weekends through Dec. 18, John F. Peto Studio Muse um, Island Heights
Exhibit featuring over 20 artists. An exploration of traditional and multicultural craft techniques which transcend to unconventional art forms.
‘The Sound of Music’
Through December, Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn
Celebrate the holidays with the heart-soar ing melodies of The Sound of Music , including such beloved gems as “My Favorite Things,” “Edelweiss,” and “Climb Every Mountain.”
Directed by Paper Mill Producing Artistic Director Mark S. Hoebee, Rodgers and Ham merstein’s final musical conjures an Austria replete with rolling hills, singing nuns and a tender love story set in the shadow of World War II.
Dec. 7-30, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick
JOY is a heartwarming and powerful bi ographical musical based on the life of Joy Mangano—the entrepreneur, inventor, best-selling author, and self-made millionaire whose journey epitomizes the real American Dream. This uplifting true story is about one woman’s triumphant climb, from divorce to single motherhood and bankruptcy, to becom ing a wildly successful dynamo that all started with the invention of a mop—her Miracle Mop.
Festival of Trees
Through Jan. 8, Morven Museum & Garden, Princeton
Morven’s annual winter exhibition has become a must-see holiday tradition. Visitors enjoy the museum’s elegant galleries, mantels and porch es artfully decorated for the holidays by local businesses, garden clubs and non-profit organi zations.
EVENTS (in chronological order)
German Christmas Market of NJ Dec. 2-4, The Sussex County Fairgrounds, Augusta
Sparkling Christmas lights and holiday music reaching across from every corner, surrounded by Christmas trees, authentic festive foods and vendors offering their trade to brighten your holiday season.
Tom’s Pond Trail Hike
Dec. 2, Historic Batsto Village, Hammonton
Why not end your week with a hike in the glob ally unique Pine Barrens? Join Wharton State Forest’s naturalist on a moderately paced hike.
Highland Park Comic-Con Dec. 3, Pino’s Gift Basket Shoppe and Wine Cellar, Highland Park
Join in on the first ever Highland Park Com ic-Con as Pino’s fills up with comic books, collectibles, guest artists and creators.
Asbury Park Santa Run 2022 Dec. 3, Asbury Park
The Asbury Park Santa Run returns for its sev enth year to lead thousands of Santa’s through the streets of Asbury Park.
Dizzy and Creep’s One-Year Anniversary Dec. 3, Creepella’s Posh Pit & Dizzy Edge Records, Burlington City
Celebrate this awesome shop’s one-year anni versary—there’ll be a parade outside (not for them, but close enough). Live music, cool merch and a chance to roll the Die of Doom; the fate of which determines discounts on purchases.
Cheers! A Holiday Wine Festival Dec. 4, The Basie Center, Red Bank
Let your hearts delight as you sip, sample and purchase delicious NJ wines each chosen to make spirits bright. The ambiance of the Basie Center makes it an ideal spot for this celebra tion of the holidays. Join six of NJ’s finest win eries in The Basie Grand Lobby for tasting and sales while holiday carolers serenade you.
The Lenape and Their Ancestors in Hopewell Valley Dec. 7, Hopewell Theater, Hopewell
Moonlight Hike Dec. 9, Pyramid Mountain, Boonton
Discover the magic of hiking at night under a blanket of stars, when even the most familiar trails reveal sights and sounds they only share with the cool, quiet night. Experience the land scape bathed in moonlight and learn all about the surrounding ecosystem. This hike is perfect for all experience levels, and participants should feel comfortable walking on uneven terrain for about three hours. You bring the hiking boots, they’ll bring headlamps and trekking poles.
Ugly Christmas Sweater Workshop Dec. 9, Propagate Studio, Stewartsville
This could get ugly… and, the uglier the bet ter! Bring your own sweater and Propagate’ll handle the rest. They will have oodles of hol iday decorations and supplies to be added to your sweater, along with a simple embroidery demonstration. You’re welcome to bring lights if you wanna illuminate the ugliness. Winners will be judged and announced at the end of the night (with prizes given!).
Christmas on the Farm Dec. 3, Howell Living History Farm, Lambertville
Spend a thought-provoking evening with astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Hayden Planetarium. The author of the new book Starry Messenger: Cos mic Perspectives on Civilization will discuss how having a “cosmic perspective” profoundly influenc es what we think and feel about science, culture, politics and life itself.
Revisit the 1900 era on a horse-drawn wagon to help shock and pick corn, and return to the barnyard to help shell it, grind it, and bake it into cornbread. Throughout the day there will be farmhouse tours, live music, wagon rides and a children’s craft program. Plus, hearty lunch fare, a gift shop featuring the farm’s own honey, maple syrup and popcorn... and a two-seater sleigh perfect for taking family portraits.
Wassail Day & Winter Encampment Dec. 3, Historic Cold Spring Village, Cape May
The Village paths come alive with the sights and sounds of the holiday season at this event. Select buildings will be open where guests can enjoy live music, hot beverages and holiday treats served by historical interpreters in period clothing.
American Indians have lived in the Hopewell area for at least 9,000 years. Volunteers and an intern have recent ly completed cataloging the approximately 2,000 Indian artifacts in the Hopewell Mu seum collection. Much of the material was donated to the Museum by local collectors.
Holiday Arrangement & Wine Tasting Dec. 9, Terhune Orchards, Law rence Township
Join owners Pam Mount and Reuwai Mount Hanewald for an evening of wine and holiday arrangements. Workshop includes container, greens, flowers, decorative items and a flight of wine. Additional wine and light fare available for purchase. Pam and Reuwai will guide you in making a festive arrangement.
PechaKucha Night Dec. 9, ACME Screening Room, Lambertville
PechaKucha is Japanese for “chitchat” and happens in over 700 cities worldwide. Join in for a special edition of PechaKucha Lambertville. Anyone with a creative practice, profession or passion is invited to share work in 20 images for 20 seconds each. Meet and support the makers in your community in an informal and energetic atmosphere.
Christmas Con NJ Dec. 9-11, New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, Edison
This three-day festive annual gathering fea tures more than 30 holiday movie fan-favorite celebrities, with celebrity panels where you will get an autograph and photo with your favorite stars, plus ugly sweater contests, photo booths and more.
Holiday CraftMorristown Dec. 9-11, Morristown Armory
Discover unique handmade items for every age, taste and budget on Dec. 9-11 at the return of Holiday CraftMorristown, a thoughtfully curated shopping event featuring more than 165 modern makers. Find original fashions, accessories, jewelry, home décor, furniture, photography and fine art, as well as functional and sculptural works in ceramics, glass, metal, wood, mixed media and more. Snack or bring home treats like gourmet nut butters, bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup and much more.
Beginner’s Tree Ecology & ID Dec. 10, Duke Farms, Hillsborough
When the leaf drop and bare branches of late fall start to get you down, turn to the conifers for a breath of fresh, pine-scented air. More ancient and more steadfast than the deciduous divas of autumn, our native coniferous trees like
red cedar and black spruce deserve a spotlight too. On this walk, acquaint yourself with several common species, learn what to look for to tell a spruce from a cedar or a hemlock from a pine, and discuss the fascinating ecology and evolu tionary history that sets these trees apart.
Sophisticated Science Dec. 10, Essex County Turtleback Zoo, West Orange
Sophisticated Science Seminars are conser vation programs geared towards more adult audiences, ages 13 to 103. Seminars run throughout the year and span topics such as animal anatomy, habitats and conservation, animal careers, and more. These programs are perfect for those interested in animals, science, conservation and nature who want to learn something new in a relaxed atmosphere. This edition’s theme is Oceans and Polar Regions.
James Maddock’s Festivus Show Dec. 10, Hopewell Theater, Hopewell
James Maddock is a fixture in the folk and Americana scene. Head down to the Hopewell Theater for a night of excellent tunes.
Community Day: Winter Wonderland Dec. 10, Newark Museum of Art
Celebrate holidays from around the world at this festive family favorite. Winter Wonderland features seasonal performances and activities, including a capella singers, step dancing and gift making. Local vendors will be on hand, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.
Warren Holiday Festival Dec. 10, Municipal Complex, Warren
This family holiday celebration features a bonfire, a visit by Santa, carnival games, food trucks, horse and carriage rides, petting zoo, an iceless skating rink, a tree lighting and fire works.
Tracking Workshop at Whitesbog Dec. 12, Historic Whitesbog Village, Browns Mills
Everything on this entire planet we call Earth leaves a track… all we have to do is learn how to read it. This course will introduce students to the science of tracking, a great skill that can be applied by nature explorers, hunters, survivalists, search and rescue operators and more. We will become better animal trackers by learning some science, playing some games, and learning to track each other.
Dec. 15, Hackensack Meridien Health Theatre, Red Bank
Reenactment of Washington Crossing the Delaware Washington Crossing Historic
Park, Washington Crossing
Each December, thousands of people gather on the banks of the Dela ware River to watch the reenactment of George Washington’s daring 1776 Christmas night river crossing. During the event, several hundred reenac tors in Continental military dress listen to an inspiring speech by General Washington and then row across the river in replica Durham boats. Plus, there’ll be freshly baked bread.
A pet project of jazz pianist Scott Bradlee, Post modern Jukebox covers modern pop tracks (and some old classics as well) in a big band style. Ev eryone from Miley Cyrus to TLC has gotten the Postmodern Jukebox treatment. Now, for 2020 they’re celebrating 100 years since the 1920s— bringing the era to life through the songs of now.
Latin Night at Newark Symphony Hall Dec. 16, Newark Symphony Hall, Newark
Join in on this free dance event (it’s OK if you don’t know how; dance instructor Smiling Da vid’s gonna be there). Drink specials and beer buckets for sale. Donations will be collected for Hurricane Fiona relief efforts.
‘Scared Scriptless’ with Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood
Dec. 16, UCPAC Main Stage, Rahway
Armed with only their wits, Whose Line is it Anyway? stars Colin Mochrie and Brad Sher
wood are taking to the live stage and they’re… Scared Scriptless. Prepare to “laugh yourself senseless” as improv comedy masterminds Colin and Brad must make up original scenes, songs and whatever the audience suggests.
Tell Us Everything: Story Slam! Dec. 16, Flemington DIY, Flemington
Prepare a five-minute story, based on the theme “Light,” put your name in a hat and you could be one of 10 people selected to tell your story onstage. At the end of the night, the storyteller with the highest score (as judged by a panel) wins.
‘The Nutcracker’ - American Repertory Ballet Dec. 16-18, State Theatre New Jersey, New Bruns wick
American Repertory Ballet brings the be loved classic Nutcracker to the stage with Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score played by the American Repertory Ballet Orchestra.
YPW: Winter Festival of Shows
Dec. 16-18, Centenary Stage Company, Hackettstown
A selection of musical theater favorites per formed in repertory by the students of the Young Performers Workshop in this intimate space. In ‘Stop the World—I Want to Get Off,’ experience a thought-provoking tale about the fleeting nature of worldly success.
Dec. 17-18, Lambertville Station Restaurant and Inn, Lambertville
Enjoy two days of holiday magic at the Lam bertville Station Inn. Experience seasonal food and drinks, local school choirs, shop from over 40 specialty vendors and have your photo taken with Santa.
NJ Trail Series
Dec. 18, Central Park of Morris County Turf Fields, Parsippany -Troy Hills
‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ Dec. 28-30, State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick
Every December, Middlesex County’s Plays-inthe-Park moves from its home at the Stephen J. Capestro Theatre in Edison and travels to the State Theatre, lock, stock, and camels, to do their annual production of Joseph and the Amaz ing Technicolor Dreamcoat, making this a beloved holiday tradition for more than 25 years.
Power Bottom: The Best Damn Comedy Show in Asbury Park! Dec. 29, Capitoline, Asbury Park
Beyond Van Gogh
Through December, American Dream, East Rutherford
The NJ Trail series returns for its 11th year with 5K, 10K and 13.1-mile races. The course has beautiful views, soft rolling hills, and a mixture of grass, grav el and natural trail surfaces. Same-day registration avail able. Get moving before you eat a bunch over the holidays.
Go see some of the best and brightest come dians on the East Coast, and see if you can’t snag some sweet giveaways, like a $25 gift card to Mutiny BBQ Company or $69 straight cash. Organizers promise a “crazy good time.”
Morris County First Night Dec. 31, Downtown Morristown
Food and Craft Festival
Dec. 17, Morristown Armory, Morristown
This indoor fest will have exhibitors selling a selection of assorted items, a special arts and crafts section, live entertainment, kiddie games, great festival foods and food trucks, craft beer, wine and seltzer, plus there’ll be dogs and cats available for adoption.
The Hip Hop Nutcracker Dec. 17, NJPAC, Newark
Completely immerse yourself in more than 300 of the great est works of post-Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh. In this experience, Van Gogh’s art is liberated from its two-dimension al limitations into a three-dimen sional experience that exhilarates every sense and brings to life one of the most influential artists the world has known.
Metuchen Cookie Walk Dec. 18, Metuchen High School, Metuchen
The Metuchen Cookie Walk was started in 2015 with a simple premise: bake, buy, give. Local residents bake thousands of cookies which are then sold at the Cookie Walk. Cookie Walk attendees purchase either a small ($10) or large ($20) box that they fill with homemade cookies. Money raised goes to the Fuccile Foundation, which provides funds to local families. What, honestly, could be better than this?
NJPAC’s original holiday extravaganza remix es and reimagines Tchaikovsky’s ballet with supercharged hip hop choreography. A dozen unstoppable all-star dancers go full-out from start to finish, wrapping the classic story of The Nutcracker in NYC-style.
Dec. 17, Albert Music Hall, Waretown
Celebrate the holiday season pineland style. A “singin’ Santa: will lead a Christmas sing-along with all the children invited on stage to be part of the band (children 11 and under are free and San ta will have a small gift for them). The program features a live stage concert of country, bluegrass, old-timey and traditional music by local bands.
Dec. 19, Temple Emanu-El, Westfield
The Chanukah story is fundamentally one of underestimation and resourcefulness. With the Festival of (Laser) Light, see a lot made from a little—and maybe eat a delicious bit of fried food.
A Bluegrass Christmas Dec. 21, Algonquin Arts Theatre, Manasquan
Enjoy an evening of heart-warming, authentic bluegrass music. Join Karen Phillips and local legends the Glimmer Grass Band as they collab orate musically to celebrate the reason for the season.
First Night® Morris County began in 1992 and is the largest First Night® in New Jersey, attracting nearly 10,000 participants each year. This is an alcohol-free and substance-free cele bration of arts and culture.
New Year’s Eve with Caroline Rhea Dec. 31, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, New Brunswick
Come celebrate New Year’s Eve with an evening of comedy with Caroline Rhea at NBPAC. This marks Rhea’s 30th year as a stand-up comedian. She has had numerous comedy specials on Comedy Central, HBO, and Showtime, and most recently headlined the Showtime special ‘More Funny Women of a Certain Age.’
Hoboken New Year’s Eve Party 2023Gatsby’s Penthouse Dec. 31, W Hotel, Hoboken
What better way to celebrate the Roaring ’20s than with a Gatsby-themed New Year’s Eve?
New Year’s Bash Dec. 31 Mountain, Creek Resort, Vernon
Head to the Red Tail Lodge to ring in the New Year. Folks’ll be dressing in formal attire to watch the ball drop on the big screen and celebrate with fireworks. Enjoy a live DJ, dance floor, Champagne toast at midnight and access to the bar.
The WatcherBy Dan Savage
I’m a married gay man in Southern California. I also have a boy who has his own partner. Both my boy and his partner used to live nearby. But in August they moved to Seattle. The “why” of their move continues to bother me. They didn’t move for a job, or to be closer to family, or any of the other reasons people normally relocate. My boy said it was a combination of the weather and people. The problem, as I see it, is that both my boy and his partner have introverted tendencies—they don’t go out much—so I don’t see how the weather or people really make a difference.
The bigger issue is that my boy has tried to “pimp” his partner on me throughout our relationship. I usually rebuffed his suggestions, but one night I gave in. His partner and I started to kiss and feel each other up, and it was fine. The weird thing—the thing that troubles me to this day—was how my boy reacted. He watched us with this bizarre look in his eyes, like he was really getting off on watching the two of us go at it, like some creepy voyeur. His expression freaked me out so much that I ended things and gave some dumb excuse. I recently had an encounter with an other person who had a similar experience with my boy. He described how he would cam with my boy and how my boy would always bring his partner in.
My boy had expressed to me on multiple occasions how his partner cannot find sexual partners on his own. I think the real reason my boy moved was to find a new dating pool in the hopes of eventually finding a match for his part ner. If my thoughts are correct, then my boy did a horrible thing to our relationship. I don’t know much about cuckolds and I’m looking for advice. How do you have a relationship with a boy when that boy’s sole focus is the sexual satisfac tion of their partner?
—Confused About Lad’s Departure And Deceit
Moving to Seattle for the “weather” seems a little counterintuitive. But I can see why a pair of introverts might prefer gray Seattle, where I live, to sunny Southern California. When it’s nice outside, you feel obligated to go outside. But it’s never nice outside in Seattle. We have a rainy season that stretches from November through July (too wet to go outside) and now, thanks to catastrophic climate change, we have a wildfire season that stretches from August through October (too smokey to go outside). So, looking out a window in Seattle you never think, “I should go for a walk and risk a chance encounter with another human being,” but rather, “I should go back in the basement and keep playing video games.”
As for the people here in Seattle… even the most extroverted newcomers complain about the “Seattle Freeze.” But if your boy and his part ner are just looking for fuckbuddies, well, they’re in luck. The dick up here is damp nine months
a year and tastes like smoke the other three, but there’s plenty to go around.
As for the host of other issues you raise…
Look, I’m not your boy, CALDAD, so I can’t tell you exactly what’s going on in his head. But I do feel confident saying he’s not your boy anymore. Not only did he move away (with his partner) and leave you all alone in Southern Cal ifornia (with your husband), CALDAD, but you seem to hold him in contempt—contempt for his motives, his kinks and his partner—and contempt is a hard place to come back from. So, since you aren’t in a relationship with him anymore, you don’t have to worry about making this relationship work. (I’m sorry if that seems harsh, CALDAD, but better to hear that from me than from the commenters.)
So, is your ex-boy a cuckold? He could be. Based on your description of his behavior the night you hooked up with his partner, it certainly sounds like he gets off on watching his partner get fucked by other guys. It’s also possible that he shares the dick he’s getting elsewhere with his pri mary partner. There’s nothing wrong with being a cuckold, of course, and there’s nothing wrong with “pimping” a partner out… so long as 1) Your partner wants to be pimped out and 2) You’re not pressuring other guys to do things with your part ner that they don’t wanna do.
But if your ex-boy was only interested in you for his partner, CALDAD, he was certainly playing the long game. Establishing an ongoing D/s relationship with a married man when all you really want is someone to fuck your partner in front of you… that seems like an awful lot of effort when Grindr is full of men who would be up for fucking your ex-boy’s boyfriend while he watched without him having to go through the trouble of entering into a long-term relationship first. Setting you up with his partner may have been an interest,
but I don’t think it’s fair to say it was your ex-boy’s sole interest.
And honestly, CALDAD, I find myself wondering what you expected from your ex-boy when you started to fuck his partner in front of him. Did you think he was going to sit there impassively, with a look of total indifference on his face, not feeling anything in particular? If so, CALDAD, that wasn’t a very realistic expectation on your part. And I suspect if he had sat there looking bored or indifferent, you would’ve found that just as weird and off-putting. If I was fucking some guy’s boyfriend in front of him, CALDAD, I would hope that guy got off on it. Hell, I would call it off if the guy whose boyfriend I was fucking didn’t react like some creepy voyeur.
Frankly, CALDAD, I don’t think your ex-boy did a terrible thing. He was honestly into you, that’s why he was your boy, and he wanted to share his partner with you. If you didn’t want to fuck his partner, you should’ve continued to say no. Once you started to fuck his partner, you should’ve wanted (and expected) your ex-boy to enjoy the show.
P.S. On the off chance that CALDAD’s exboy is reading this: Welcome to Seattle! Cuckold or pimp, both or neither, you need to be clearer with your sex partners (in person, online, wherev er) about what you’re doing, what you want them to do, and why you want them to do it. There are plenty of guys out there into threesomes, cuckold ing, and guys who are pimping out their partners, so there’s no need to be a manipulative-by-default creep, which is how you risk coming across when you aren’t clear about what you’re doing (sharing your partner) and why (you’re a cuck or your part ner has no game or both).
Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org Podcasts, columns and more at Savage.Love
Pollo a la Brasa @ Planet Chicken in Dunellen
A taste of the state in four dishes Restaurant openings
Think rotisserie chicken but way, way better. With a slightly crispy and perfectly seasoned exterior, and juicy meat through out, this pollo is what keeps folks coming back. Oh, and if you somehow find the flavor lacking (it isn’t), a dish of the most addictive sauce you’ll ever have, aji verde, is brought out with other token condiments. Get the “Planet Chicken Special Combo” with a side of fried yucca and extra aji verde.
Chengdu Chilled Noodles @ China Chalet in Florham Park
Plump, chewy noodles are tossed in a (moderately spicy) sesame and peanut sauce and topped with slivered scallions. The dish punches so far above its weight class; the thick, peanute vinai grette’s sweetness is cut by acid and the dry sesame. It’s irresistible. And the chilled noodles are a perfect canvas; served cool, every note of nuance in the preparation is perceptible on the tongue.
Spicy Ramen @ Terakawa Ramen in Princeton Junction
It’s got a pork, chicken and seafood broth that is 100% irresist ible. The perfect level of spice and salt, sweet and sour, savory and umami, it feels good for the soul to slurp it between grabs of noodles. And the noodles, by the way, are a good compan ion to the broth—thick, a little chewy, a little eggy, they’re substantial to munch on.
Ambee Coffee Co. (Raritan). Second location for well-sourced and exceptionally good coffee and tea with vegan and gluten-free bak ery options in a chic setting.
Chashni (Chatham). The minds behind Nakeem Hot Chicken recently opened this spot, a “com mingling of Pakistani ingredients and American culture.” We’ll take 10 of the gulabi waffles (pistachio, rose petals, kulfi ice cream on a gulab jamun Belgian waffle).
Honey Moon Bakery + Pizzeria (Frenchtown). Mind blowingly-good baked goods from bread to sweets, and artisanal pizzas. You want this.
Madame (Jersey City). A modern bistro and cocktail parlor with menu items like bone marrow with short rib, onion marmalade and fennel tuile, and cocktails like a Vieux Carré made with duck fat-infused rye whiskey. Fuck yeah.
Sisig @ Amer-Fil Foodmart in New Brunswick
A phenomenal scramble of pork parts (typically face and belly), chicken liver, onion, chili and vinegar. The meat used in the sisig carries intense umami flavor, and the final step of the preparation—crisping it all on the skillet—makes for a great texture on each bite. This is the house specialty at Amer-Fil, and the combination of light heat from the chilies, the savoriness of the meat and the well-apportioned vinegar makes for a bite of food that wins friends and influences others. You will think about this plate of food long after you consume it.
Ricky’s Thai (Bernardsville). The third location for this beloved spot serving Thai food with influ ences from owner Sawatdee Khap’s Malaysian roots.
Verana (Norwood). An elegant Italian restaurant helmed by Chef Giuseppe Agostino, formerly of Del Posto.
Village Hall Restaurant (South Orange). Parisienne-style restaurant meets NYC tavern with a spacious bar, indoor seating and an outdoor biergarten with fire pits.
Jewish BBQ is thriving in New Jerseyby Hallel Yadin
If you swing by Dougie’s BBQ in Deal or in Teaneck, Sender’s Smoke Joint, Smokey Hill, or The Southside Smoke house for a bite, you’ll find an array of ribs, brisket, fried chicken, smoked turkey, burnt ends—normal barbecue stuff. However, there’s one conspicuous exclusion: pork in any form whatsoever. All of these restau rants are kosher, and pork is treyf, or for bidden under kosher law.
Because traditional Southern barbecue is so heavily associated with pork, kosher barbecue joints are rare. But New Jersey has at least those five, along with Hackensack-based The Wandering Que (which operates a food truck, interstate delivery service and catering business) and Highland Parkbased Kosher Southern Comfort, which supplies barbecue to kosher groceries in Highland Park and Elizabeth. Between all of these venues, you can get a chili dog or an upscale dinner, get your wedding catered or just pick up some burnt ends on your grocery run. This historically very off-limits food is not a novelty but integrat ed into NJ’s kosher dining scene.
There isn’t always a one-to-one relationship between food being certified kosher and being “Jewish” in the sense that it’s tied to a Jewish cultural tradition. I paid Dougie’s BBQ in Teaneck a visit recently, and for all of the eyebrows raised at the concept of kosher barbecue, the dishes didn’t look all that different from non-kosher barbecue. I ordered a classic dish, a barbecue chicken sandwich, along with jalapeño slammers. Jalapeño poppers stuffed with jalapeño sauce and pastrami, the slammers represent a little more of a barbecue-Ashkenazi food fusion. The menu includes plenty of bar becue, along with burgers, soups, salads and deli sandwiches. Pastrami abounds, from pastrami egg rolls with a side of horseradish mustard to the monster chicken sandwich (grilled chicken topped with pastrami and coleslaw).
If you’re looking for the absolute best barbe cue or the best pastrami in NJ, I wouldn’t neces sarily send you to Dougie’s, but it was all delicious. It’s a great option for people who don’t keep kosher at all.
Dougie’s is not alone in this. Most of these kosher barbecue establishments are slinging large ly traditional Southern barbecue, just forgoing the pork and perfecting beef, turkey and chicken
dishes. There is some time-honored Jewish food on the menus, namely brisket and pastrami in many forms. However, none of the Jersey restau rants operate like, say, not-actually-kosher Pulkies in Brooklyn, which serves a more pointed fusion of Southern barbecue and traditional Ashkenazi Jewish fare. If anything, they highlight the existing overlap between barbecue and Jewish cuisine, as when Kosher Southern Comfort describes smoked pastrami as “Texas meets Lower East Side.”
What is it about NJ that fosters a growing kosher barbecue scene, when kosher barbecue is impossible to come by in most of the rest of the country? First and foremost, there are a lot of Jews here. NJ is just over 6% Jewish, trailing
going to be influenced by the larger food culture. Fittingly, Southern states have longer kosher barbecue histories. The World Kosher Barbecue Festival began in Memphis in 1988, for example; since then, festivals have also been established in Atlanta in 2012 and Charlotte in 2013. Mean while, Northern states have been missing out. Even Brooklyn, the most Jewish place in Ameri ca, didn’t get a kosher barbecue joint until 2015 (Izzy’s, if you’re interested).
On some level, it makes perfect sense that Jewish pitmasters are part of the growth of Jersey barbecue. There’s plenty of overlap between traditional barbecue and dishes associated with Jewish dining. The venerable pastrami, the quint essential Jewish deli sandwich fill ing, is a smoked meat. Texas-style BBQ brisket has Ashkenazi Jewish origins, and braised brisket is still a popular holiday dish for many American Ashkenazis. Even though the preparation has diverged as dif ferent foodways influenced Texas and Ashkenazi cuisines, it’s not a tremendous leap from one prepara tion to the other.
only New York and Washington, D.C., for pro portion of Jews. What’s more, there are a lot of observant Jews in NJ (There are varying levels of religious observance among Jews, and many don’t keep kosher at all.) NJ’s more Orthodox Jewish areas—where virtually all of these restaurants are located—are growing rapidly. For example, ma jority-Orthodox Lakewood was the second-fast est-growing city in NJ over the past decade, increasing its population by 45%. Lakewood is the largest and most well-established, but the Jersey Shore is home to a number of Orthodox enclaves whose populations have grown significantly in re cent years. Fundamentally, NJ has a lot of kosher barbecue for the same reason that NJ has a lot of kosher Chinese, sushi and pizza, even though none of those cuisines are traditionally Jewish: there are a lot of people who want to eat it.
The broader growth of barbecue in the state undoubtedly plays a role as well. While NJ is still holding onto its longtime reputation for mediocre ‘cue, the scene is undeniably expanding. The ko sher options in any particular location are always
As Ari White, owner of The Wandering Que, told me, “I think it’s all about things coming full circle.” White, who is original ly from Texas, pointed out that, “Texas-style barbecue brisket as we know it has its earliest roots in the Jewish community that was existing as my family arrived here in the early 1900s. The Portuguese link Wiese, which is our best selling sausage, has its roots in the Jewish Marano community that lived hiding in plain sight after 1492. These foods have always been part of our heritage and tradition.”
Both Jewish food and barbecue are culinary traditions with long, complex histories that aren’t always obvious or intuitive. NJ has an incredible ethnic foodscape, with all kinds of cuisines bor rowing from the local setting. When we categorize foods rigidly, we risk unintentionally flattening their histories.
We also risk missing out on some good food. I left Dougie’s laden with leftovers. A woman walked past as I was waiting at an intersection and said, “Man, that smells good.”
“Oh yeah, I got it at Dougie’s, down the block,” I said. She walked on but as she was get ting into her car, she stopped and got my attention again. “That’s the kosher place?” she asked.
“Sure is,” I responded. Maybe I was project ing, but I thought she looked a little surprised.
Unapologetic Vegby Ari LeVaux
Iam confused by veggie burgers, veg an cheese, margarine and all substi tutes for animal products that seek to imitate the very thing the eater wishes to avoid consuming. This time of year I’m triggered by the Tofurky, but it’s a yearround phenomenon.
Have you ever seen a meat eater attempt to reconfigure a T-bone steak to look like a pile of beans? I’m guessing no. So why must vegetar ians turn beans into burgers? It reinforces the idea that meat eating is somehow more normal, and that vegetarians should try to hide their true selves and pretend to fit in.
Food culture on the Indian sub-continent is the opposite. There, it’s common to see restau rants proudly display their credentials with outdoor signage that announces “Veg and nonVeg” in large type. This delivers the message that Veg is normal and non-Veg is the alterna tive. Given that India will soon overtake China as the world’s most populous nation, this di etary preference is fortunate for the Earth, and essential for India’s food security. Vegetables are much easier on the climate than meat, and a vegetable-based diet will feed more people from a given amount of land than a meaty cuisine.
Fortunately, Indian chefs have many tricks for making their food so satisfying. They do it with spices, sauces, and lots of chopping. Imita tion animal products are not on the menu, yet Anthony Bourdain, as committed a flesh lover as anyone, once said that India is the only place where he could be a vegetarian.
Vegetables are beautiful, delicious and more interesting than meat and most animal products. I love vegetables, despite being an ungulate-hunting omnivore, and I love vegetar ians—except some of those who give me grief for hunting. A meat-free lifestyle is a beautiful thing, so don’t apologize, vegetarians! Don’t try to play somebody else’s game with your dry, wannabe sausages. Be proud of your choices and flaunt your lifestyle. Veg is beautiful, and so are you.
A vegetarian friend of mine here in Jer sey named Matthew recently told me some of his favorite unapologetic vegetable dishes that proudly celebrate the true identities of their ingredients.
He’s lucky enough to live near the West Windsor Community Farmers Market, one of the best in the state (and the nation), which gives him access to a year-round diversity of produce and fungus, from which he makes a variety of unique, fresh and delicious veg dishes.
Here’s one of his favorites: an Indian-in spired meal of chickpeas with turmeric and lemon.
With so many benefits to the veg life, and a never-ending supply of flavors, why pose as a meat eater? Embrace your lifestyle, vegetarians, and give it a squeeze.
The raspy flavor of the turmeric, the pierc ing bite of the lemon, the herbal aroma of the cilantro and earthy, dare I say meaty flavor of the spinach combine for a dish that is both sim ple and complex.
While practicing this recipe, I realized that it’s a mere stone’s throw away from the popular Indian dish chana masala, so I made a subbatch with cumin, tomatoes and garam masala spice mix, just to see how it compared. To my surprise the family preferred Matthew’s simpler version.
If you’re wondering why I added some baking soda, it’s to soften the chickpeas. This trick works on all beans, and can save you hours of simmering if you don’t like them crunchy.
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 cloves garlic, minced 1 cubic inch ginger, grated ½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon-ish red pepper powder or flakes, as hot as you like them, for color and heat
1 16-oz can of chickpeas
¼ teaspoon baking soda (optional)
2 cups chopped spinach
1 bunch cilantro, chopped Chopped onion as a garnish
In a heavy-bottom pan, sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger in the oil. When the onions become translucent, add the salt, lemon juice, garlic powder, red pepper, and stir it together. After five minutes, add the chickpeas, including the water in the can. Add the baking soda if you want softer beans. Adjust seasonings to taste as it simmers. When you are satisfied, and the liquid is gone, add the spinach and cook until the spinach has melted into the beans. Turn off the heat.
Fill the serving plates with generous heaps of chopped cilantro. Scoop the chickpea mixture on top, and garnish with chopped onions.
The state brewer’s guild announced in November the launch of Brew Jer sey, a collaborative beer project to raise awareness and funds for the dumbass regulations around brewer ies in the state. 25% of sales go toward advocacy efforts to change the laws. The beer itself is a Hazy IPA, and the effort was spearheaded by Icarus Brewing and Brix City Brewing. Expect the beers to hit shelves and tap lists in late 2022/early 2023. Go to brewjersey.beer to learn more about these efforts.
We don’t advocate for wasting beer, but Devils fans were righteously pissed after refs disallowed three goals in their Nov. 23 home game against the Maple Leafs and threw beer cans and other items onto the ice. The loss ended their 13-game winning streak. We assume, given it was the day before Thanksgiving, that fans were soused and so didn’t miss the beer.
Tanner Beer Co. in Haddon Heights is open. The brewery is serving up everything from white, juicy and double IPAs to a margarita-inspired gose, coffee stout and leichtbier (the German version of a light American lager, essentially).
Drink this: Trail Mix 2
@ Odd Bird Brewing in Stockton
A West Coast (of NJ) IPA, featuring malt, hops and yeast all grown in NJ. Dry with notes of grapefruit and a clean finish, it’s yet another fantastic beer from the Stockton brewery. It’s also a Hunterdon County Beer Trail Collaboration beer; all the breweries on the trail committed to making a beer with local ingredients.
Obsessively good beer at Chimney Rustic Ales in the Pine Barrens
Dan Borrelli is a Beer Guy. He spends about 80 hours a week in his Hammonton brewery, Chimney Rustic Ales, brewing, tasting, blending, can ning, pouring, talking about beer. His beer. Other’s beer. Doesn’t matter. Beer matters. Chatting with Borrelli one late weekday morning, his passion is obvi ous, perceptible even through his easy, humble demeanor. It’s in the pints of Chimney’s Praguematic—an expertly brewed Czech dark lager, with a rich, malty spine and a heartbeat of fresh Saaz hops—we’re sipping. Evident in the fine-tuned textures and refined flavors of the farmhouse ales, IPAs, Berliner weiss es, blends, brown ales, saison and lagers on tap. Evident in the well-appointed, cozy brewery and taproom—a restored 130-year-old building in downtown Hammonton.
From the Colorful Elements: Pomegranate, a Berliner Weisse (a little sour, a little fruity, with a dry, crisp finish); to the Time Consumer DIPA, bursting with orange and grapefruit citrus; to the Flaner, an oaky, bright, cherry-full, pleasantly funky barrel-fermented saison; to the Flaner avec Dubz; a blend of the Flaner with a Belgian dubbel that is pure perfection; to the crispy 43% Burnt smoked vanilla porter; to the aforemen tioned Czech dark lager; Chimney’s beers are notable for their refinement. Everything works in harmony. The
textures and flavors are balanced. It’s the work, clearly, of a brewer obsessed with beer. Of a Beer Guy.
The Flaner, for instance, was conceived using wild fermentation— which uses natural yeast from the air and sometimes additions like Brettanomyces and lactobacillus. Borrelli says, modestly, it’s “surprisingly easy, if you understand the science” to pull it off; but I’ve had a lot of farmhouse ales of this sort that have gone off the deep end, and I like funk. The strings pulled on this indicate a brewer who knows what he’s doing. Blending it with Chimney’s Belgian dub bel, meanwhile, amplifies the best quali ties of both beers.
“The Belgian dubbel that we double fermented, had dubbel Belgian characteristics: the plum and dark stone fruit flavor but also this really sweet estery but also really dry flavor to it,” Borrelli says. “The [Flaner] had a lot more peach and bright citrusy flavors to it. We liked the brightness to it, but we wanted to give it a little more alcohol, estery background to it to round out the flavor profile. We mixed it and we’re like, ‘Oh fuck, that’s good.’”
Oh fuck, that’s good. If you take anything away from this, take that as a summarization of the beer at Chimney Rustic Ales. And make it a point this spring to make the trek there; Beer Guys (and Girls), or not, you’re going to enjoy it. —Matt Cortina