NJ Indy Feb '23

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How local groups are fostering an inclusive skate community in NJ


Behind the scenes of the ‘Best Damn Comedy Show in Asbury Park’

‘The Sister Chapel’ presents women’s achievements from a female perspective

Dixie Grace puts a Jersey spin on boiled peanuts


Asbury Park Music Foundation (APMF) is a 501 c3 nonprofit organization committed to making 2023 brighter for under-resourced students across Asbury Park, Red Bank and beyond. APMF wants to give more students access to music education opportunities and is seeking generous champions to make this goal a reality.

The Music Saved My Life Champion campaign will help fund the expansion of our music education programs for at-risk youth, which currently serves 300 kids across 3 schools and a summer camp Recurring donors have the power to provide meaningful educational experiences that can lead to a successful future for those they choose to champion. Every $3600 raised will allow one student access to the program for an entire year

“Music education isn’t just about creating musicians; it helps cultivate problem-solving skills, fosters creativity, and promotes academic excellence," says Tom Donovan, our Executive Director. “The Champions who support this program are not just supporting music education but investing in the success of their communities."

We've seen the difference these programs have made and we're determined to keep them going by inspiring donors with compelling stories of achievement while inspiring change through advocacy and collaboration Donors are encouraged to commit to monthly donations throughout 2023 so we can keep empowering our community’s most precious asset – our children!

B e a " M u s i c S a v e d M y L i f e " C h a m p i o n
Visit AsburyParkMusicLives.org for information on how to become a champion C O M M U N I T Y C H A M P I O N S W A N T E D !
"Let's wake up tomorrow and change a kid's life. There is no better endeavor."
-Tom Donovan, Executive Director


The amount folks pay for recovered vegan food at Jersey Shore Food Not Bombs stands every week in Asbury Park, Long Branch and Lakewood. Read more on page 10.


The NJ Skate Collective and Freedom Skate Park are creating spaces and programming that make it affordable, safe and fun to skate. Through gender inclusive skates via the NJ Skate Collective, and free, open hours at Freedom Skate Park, in Trenton, skaters of all identities, ages and skill levels have critical access to facilities and mentors in the local skate scene. Read it on page 6.

(Cover subject: Eli; photo by Rich Whitehead)

<<< I don’t wanna say it’s a free-for-all, but it’s like, there’s a $69 prize, we’re talking about dicks, or anal, or anything we want. We are doing what we want to do. It’s a regular monthly thing you can count on and you’re seeing people (comics) before they blow up. It’s like a whole little secret, special thing. There’s people that see that green and pink flyer out on a pole with all the other stickers and dirtiness. Some people are like, “I’m not into that, that’s not for me,” but then there are people that are like, “Oh shit, I’ve gotta check that out!”>>>

PLUS: Commentary (pg. 4), The Sister Chapel (pg. 18), NJ producer Allen George’s hit-making career (pg. 20) Concerts (pg. 21), Savage (pg. 26), Best bites in the state (pg. 27), Tindall Road Brewing (pg. 30)

NJ Indy is a collective of local writers and creators. We 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 matt@njindy.com. 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 fourth edition of NJ Indy. Future editions will magically show up at select locations throughout NJ on the first weekend of every month. For more, visit njindy.com. All content is ©NJ Indy, LLC 2023, 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 editor@njindy.com.

You have multiple opportunities to learn how to tap maple trees, turn the sap into sugar and, most importantly taste it in Ringwood this month. See more events on page 22.

Dixie Grace takes high-quality peanuts, puts them through a multi-step process refined by her 20 years as an engineer, then serves them with a variety of house-made spice blends that amplify the experience. Read more on page 28.

The canoandes were a group of Polish kayakers who managed to get out of the Eastern Bloc and make the first descent of the world’s deepest canyon in Peru. Two NJ filmmakers document their journey, and how they parlayed their success into support for the Polish Solidarity movement. Read it on page 14.

Power Bottom co-host Joe McAndrew on the unique vibe of the monthly comedy show in Asbury Park. Read it on page 12. Rich Whitehead


Hey folks. We want to publish your poetry and short fiction (up to 1,000 words) in the next issue (and subsequent issues) of NJ Indy. Send up to three submissions to poetry@njindy.com, and we’ll consider them on a rolling basis for monthly publication.

Happy writing; we look forward to seeing what ya got.

How inequality happens by

Idon’t usually cover hard-luck sob stories, but this one... well, it is so deeply touching you might have such an emotional response it will make you cry. Or, like me, want to throw up.

It’s not about one family hitting the skids, but about some workers who toiled all last year in the caverns of New York City, only to find at year’s end that their pay was being cut by up to 50% from the previous year. Actually, it’s not their salaries that were cut—but their bonuses

You see, these are Wall Street investment bankers whose annual salaries might only be a few hundred thousand dollars a year (poor babies), but they always expect to double or triple that in bonus money. One reason they get so much is that theirs is a dirty job —they engineer multi-billion-dollar corporate mergers that increase monopoly power, eliminate the jobs of thousands of regular workers and further enrich the super-rich. It’s devilish work—hence the big bonus payouts to keep them doing it.

Last year, though, the number of whopper deals plummeted, the revenues of Wall Street investment banks sank... and, oh, how sad it was to hear the wails of so many poor Wall Street millionaires who had their bonus payment whacked in half!

See, I told you it was a sob story.

But the tragedy suffered by these hard-hit financial toilers goes deeper than the mere loss of money; it’s the crimping of their lifestyle that is most painful. The New York Times reports, for example, that Wall Street’s bonus bust has already resulted in fewer of these dealmakers buying 100,000-dollar luxury cars this year. And the dinging of annual bonuses is even stirring radical sentiments among the restive affluent: In one survey of financial professionals, 72% said they would consider quitting their bank if it cut their bonus.

Now there’s an enticing new source of labor activism for unions that’re organizing at Starbucks, Amazon, McDonald’s, etc. Why not a Wall Street banker union? Solidarity forever, brothers and sisters!

For you high-dollar corporate executives and Wall Street bankers who keep telling us that it’s lonely at the top... please, try toiling a while at the bottom of America’s economic ladder.

The radical rise of inequality in our society is a function of the vast political inequality separating the working class from the power structure. The elite rich have many friends in high places paying close attention to their needs, but the further one tumbles down the economic ladder the lonelier you are when your interests conflict with the bosses and big shots. As Ray Charles sang, “Them that’s got are them that gets.”

Consider cooks, waiters, bartenders and other restaurant workers. Generally, these jobs are poorly paid, and abuse by bosses is routine, yet lawmakers mostly ignore all that, cozying up to the abusers, because... well, they are rich and politically connected. As a result, most of today’s workers who serve your food and drink work for a sub-minimum wage that was set 32 years ago at $2.13 an hour! That’s not a wage, it’s an insult. Yet our lawmakers refuse to raise it, bowing to the piles of campaign cash they get through a lobbying front called the National Restaurant Association, dominated by multi-billion-dollar food chains.

But wait—the corporate greed doesn’t stop there. In the past decade, this greedy consortium of rich wage suppressors has devised a diabolical scheme to make restaurant workers pay for the industry’s lobbying campaigns to hold down wages! The Association bought an outfit that provides hokey food safety training to restaurant workers, then it lobbied to get California, Florida, Illinois and Texas and other states to require that all employees not only undergo the silly online training course, but to also make each worker pay a $15 fee for the training.

Guess what? NRA then uses those worker training fees to fund its lobbying efforts that let restaurants pay poverty wages. And that, kids, is how inequality happens.

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.


Fuck “content”

I hate it when people casually use words in conversation that belong elsewhere. Business language like “action items” and—shudder—“deliverables,” academic words like “unpack” and ending every statement with a rhetorical “right?” I get it, you’ve learned to speak the language of those with whom you spend your working hours. No one opened the kimono for you, right? You opened the kimono yourself and you saw some weird business junk and you liked it.

At best, this language slips into everyday conversation because it’s a parasite. At worst, you do it to humblebrag that you’re a boss.

Almost every community has these words, from frats and sororities to fans of a TV show, internet groups and, yes, journalists. I’ve been guilty of writing ‘graf’ or ‘lede’ in emails to non-journalists. Because I’m so unimaginably fucking cool, I’ve said something that’s not a tree is “evergreen.”

Sometimes community-specific words cross boundaries and become common in society at large. One such word is “content.” What was once a catch-all term for “things inside another thing” is now a word, thanks to the ubiquity of social media content creators, that describes any creator’s entire body of work that doesn’t fit into one neat category, thus reducing that work to... stuff.

It’s an easy word to drop. Folks use it to refer to our stuff often, and I’ve let it slip a couple times too, even though I think it’s lazy and pernicious. I once said, “You can access NJ Indy’s content across several platforms,” and I blacked out from shame. Cthulhu appeared, my eyeballs fell out and when I came to, I was pantsless in a Jamba Juice shooting an Instagram Reel.

The problem is content no longer describes what we create, it is what we create. Language changes, I get that, but no less does NJ Indy create content when we publish a story than you do when you make a social media post, have a kid or take a shit. The medium matters.

And you, NJ-based creator, don’t make content. You write stories, draw pictures, knit hats, sculpt clay, etc. You chose your medium, and we want to highlight that. So send us (editor@njindy.com) your content, your poems, illustrations, music, films, art, exhibitions, events, whatever... hell, even social media posts. We’ll share ’em whenever and however we can.


NJ Skate Collective rolls out a more inclusive skate community

Every skater remembers their first drop-in: the first time they stood at the top of a skate ramp, looked down a steep slope that promised broken teeth and busted knees, and stepped forward anyway. Ask them about it, and you’ll hear the words terror, adrenaline, almost shit myself—all said with a grin.

Skating is already scary. The atmosphere at skate parks shouldn’t add another layer of fear and discomfort, too.

For some, it’s the pressure of standing out from the young white male crowd that skating often draws. Snow is a novice skateboarder who likes to wear glitter and is, as she says, very non-dude-presenting. She remembers the appraising look that the young dudes at one skate park gave her. “They’re looking at me thinking, is this a ‘hot skater girl? Or is she good?’” she says. “The second I walk in, every eye’s on me.”

For others, it’s the memory of outright

hostility. Charlotte, 21, is a transgender skateboarder from Toms River. “The amount of times I have been called unsavory things by other skateboarders made me kind of realize, I wish there was a gender-inclusive or LGBT skate that existed,” she says.

Happily, that skate does exist. The New Jersey Skate Collective works to make skating more accessible and inclusive across the state. One of its projects is a gender-inclusive skate designed to protect trans, nonbinary and other nontraditional skaters from the experiences that Charlotte has had.

The Collective began in 2020, after the shutdown closed indoor roller rinks. Em, a small business owner and former competitive roller derby player, was one of the Collective’s first members. With their roller derby days behind them, they started going to skate parks and meeting other nontraditional skaters there. “We were like, let’s… just get everyone together, we’ll skate together and see where it goes,” they say.

Em and the other members of the group

began posting meetups on social media. Nothing too formal, at first, just announcements of where they’d be.

“The goal was always to create and hold a safe space for beginners and queer people and anybody who was marginalized, like skaters who are not white, who felt uncomfortable at regular skate park sessions where it’s predominantly, you know, boys on their skateboards who are really aggressive,” they say. “So we just really wanted to be like, ‘Hey, you’re gonna come skate with us, you’ll know that you’re going to be safe and we’ll have your back.’”

And people responded. The Collective’s weekly gatherings attracted at least 20 skaters each, a sizable group for most skate parks. With interest high and free time suddenly available thanks to COVID, the Collective began organizing more ambitious projects: a day dedicated to dance skating lessons, an art project that brought a mural to the West Orange Skate Park, and discussion groups that emphasized its mission of inclusivity.


“One of the first events that we ever did was a Black Lives Matter roll out kind of thing,” says Marci Cole, another former roller derby player and an early member of the Collective. “And we had Black skaters talk to a group of us, just talking about why it sucks sometimes, you know? And we all just shut the fuck up and listened.”

Winter of 2020 brought a brief pause to the skating meetups. The Collective took its work online to launch fundraisers, distribution of donated skate equipment, and mutual aid initiatives. In spring 2021, when warmer weather and vaccines brought people outside again, the collective’s first meeting of the new year brought out at least 45 people.

It was a lot for an all-volunteer organization to handle. “We were like, ‘OK, we’re trying to do too much,’” Em says. “Let’s just scale it back and really hone in on what’s important to us. And for us, it’s always been making skating accessible and safe.”

The Collective began forming subgroups that met on different days in different parts of NJ, some in the Oranges, some in Woodbridge, and the occasional meetup in Monmouth County. Finding a place to skate in winter still presented a challenge, though. In the winter of 2021, they found their solution by partnering with Freedom Skate Park, an all-volunteer, 100% free indoor skate park in Trenton.

Jake McNichol, executive director of Freedom Skate Park, says that Freedom is on a mission to improve skating’s inclusivity and accessibility, too. The park has worked with Black Girls Skate and local nonprofit organizations to create an actively welcoming environment for all skaters. Partnering with the NJ Skate Collective just made sense. Thanks to people like Krista, both a Skate Collective member and a member of the board for Freedom, the partnership became official.

Freedom and the Skate Collective are now in the second year of their partnership, joining forces to host a gender-inclusive skate from 10 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of every winter month.

At the January gender-inclusive skate, the cavernous space of Freedom Skate Park echoed with the sounds of quad skates, skateboards and encouraging bellows from opposite sides of the building. Women, non-binary people and trans folk had the entire space to themselves.

The skaters came with different experience levels. Some quad skaters worked together to figure out how to balance on a rail. As Em mentioned, many people coming to the Skate Collective’s meetups have never laced up skates before coming. Then there were skaters like Charlotte, whose tricks and confidence on the board come from her 14 years of experience.

Everyone did their own thing, but there was no sense of isolation. Separately or together, the skaters made room for each other as they practiced their individual techniques.

That’s the secret to putting so many different wheels through the skate park without any collisions: a culture of attentive awareness and implicit trust in a potentially risky sport. “I think we have some unspoken understanding that like, hey, we’re all in this place,” explains Emma, a skate dancer. “And one of us might even go to the hospital later.”

“There’s so much body language and subtle eye contact moments,” Cole adds. “It’s just this unspoken etiquette thing that exists with the community… you just kind of awkwardly figure it out, by like, pissing people off, or being too hesitant. And then eventually observing the patterns.”

That reliance on body language matters—especially when different skating subcultures mix. As the clock struck noon, a few people from the gender-inclusive skate started packing up. A line had formed at the front table for the general admission open skate, consisting mostly of cisgender dudes.

By 12:30, the general volume in the building had risen to a banging, clanging roar as skateboards landed from higher heights and more daring tricks. Making your way across the floor to the bathroom felt like a video game: watch for incoming objects from all directions, get the timing just right.

The atmosphere is a total switch from the morning’s gentler gender-inclusive skate. The different crowd brings another energy to the table. “It can very easily be construed as aggression, especially if you’re shy or uncomfortable around guys,” says Maven, a highly

accomplished roller derby player.

“It’s not hostility,” Cole adds. “[Male skaters] are more willing to really take their own space. And when you’re a non male-presenting person, you might not feel as comfortable doing that and asserting yourself to say, ‘Hey, my turn.’”

Why should it feel different? Some of the morning’s skaters pointed to the generally more ambitious and aggressive style of many male skaters. This “boy energy” can be hard to relate to and led to several skaters seeking out their own space at a different skate park after the inclusive skate ended.

On the other hand, some of the morning skaters read the energy shift as a language barrier. That unspoken understanding Emma mentioned? Skateboarders use it, too—only it’s much more visible when you have a board to pop up. Quad skaters need to use a subtler body language, one that’s easily missed if you’re not looking for it.

“They don’t know our language,” Cole says. “They don’t have as much opportunity to learn ours.”

The mingled skater crowds may provide that opportunity. If skating is going to become truly inclusive, it means making room for these differences. They were on full display at Freedom as the remaining people from the gender-inclusive skate hung out with the people, mostly men, who came in the afternoon: different wheels, body types, ages, gender identities, races, financial situations, ability levels, experience levels, all sharing the same space.

And it worked. People mixed freely, laughed loudly and skated in the way they preferred—serious, playful, cautious, daredevil. Every skate style had a place.

Marci Cole at the gender-inclusive skate at Freedom Skate Park in Trenton.

Spotlight on Freedom Skate Park

Freedom Skate Park (FSP) founder Jake McNichol fell in love with skateboarding at a young age and particularly enjoyed the freedom that pushing wood provided him.

“I liked that skating wasn’t competitive and that I was able to use my body to do what I wanted to do,” McNichol says. “I could think creatively and there wasn’t any court that I had to be on to skate and there wasn’t a specific time I had to show up to practice.”

The love of skateboarding followed McNichol all throughout his life, including when he moved to Trenton. McNichol realized there was a skate community in Trenton, but not a ton of places to skate and that would leave skaters going to Philly or New York.

“I started FSP because I was living in Trenton and I have been volunteering here doing skateboard giveaways with Homefront and the Boys & Girls Club. I realized there was a group of kids in Trenton who wanted to learn how to skate and had nowhere to go. At the same time I was a skateboarder and realized that Trenton is a skateboarding destination and there are a lot of famous street spots, but people would leave and not stay. FSP was an opportunity for the local skate community, and the skate community in general, to benefit.”

FSP was made possible with help from the city’s recreation department and donations. The indoor skate park is located at the old Roebling Wire Works building and has been a boon for the local Trenton skateboarding community, including Angel Torres, a Trenton native and skateboarder.

“This place means a lot to me, and showed me who I really wanted to be in life, which is a skateboarder,” says Torres. “I’ve been here so many years and I don’t get sick of it.”

Through the years, Torres has broken his fair share of boards here, but also has learned a ton of life lessons from skateboarding.

“Nothing is gonna come easy and I might skate everyday and have consistent tricks, but there will be days where you don’t land those consistent tricks.”

In a world where sports are becoming more expensive to participate in, skateboarding is still relatively cheap and is diverse. Go to any skate park and you’ll see people from all classes, genders, races and ages. Before the open skate sessions on Saturday mornings in winter, FSP hosts an event for nonbinary skaters. One of the goals that McNichol had in mind when he started FSP was to promote diversity within skating.

“It’s a real key part of what we worked on as an organization,” says McNichol. “There was a perception in the past—and there still kind of is—that skateboarding is just for white guys and that is no longer the case. Skateboarding is a connector and no matter what you look like or where you’re from or no matter what you do for work, people will come together and connect over skateboarding. “

Skateboarding also brings together regions as well—folks from PA and South Jersey travel to skate at

FSP, like Ethan Todt of Moorestown. Todt fell in love with skating at the Moorestown Mall. Now relegated to South Jersey folklore, the Moorestown Mall had an indoor skatepark called Black Diamond Skatepark similar to FSP. Not counting skateparks in the City of Brotherly Love, FSP is now the closest indoor skatepark for South Jersey skaters.

“At 6 years old I was allowed in at the skatepark in the Moorestown Mall,” recalls Todt. “After that, I would be going there a couple times a week for like five or six hours a day. Skating is very freeing and something that I found to be really fun. As the years went on I became faster on the board and more comfortable with it. It was tough work, but I loved skating from the start.”

An indoor skate park is something that Trenton area skaters such as Tyler Lamb of Hopewell would have liked growing up.

“The Trenton skate community means a lot to me because where I come from skateboarding isn’t that popular, so I had to leave Hopewell to go to Ewing, Trenton and Philly to skate. I felt a sense of community and somewhere that I belonged. The Trenton skate scene helped me find all my friends.’’ It doesn’t matter if you learn to skate indoors, outdoors, or next to a Boscovs, the values and lessons you learn are the same: “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, you can still get back up and try again,” says Lamb.

FSP provides a chance for younger skaters to learn the basics. One of those younger skaters is Nick Delacruz; he and his dad come from nearby Bensalem, PA to skate in Trenton.

“I got into skateboarding because I saw someone playing a video game that involved skateboarding, and I thought it was cool. I like that skateboarding is creative,” Nick says.

“We come here during the winter,’’ says Ray Delacruz. “It’s a nice park and has a nice atmosphere. Everyone here is really supportive.”

Younger skaters like Nick are entering a society that is more accepting of skateboarders. During the ’90s and early 2000s, skateboarding was viewed negatively by a large part of the public, skateboarders would be harassed by law enforcement, and many cities passed ordinances that banned skateboarding. Michael Haggerty, a skater from Southampton remembers those days fondly and not so fondly.

“Skateboarding was not that accepted when I started in the mid-’90s,” says Haggerty. “There weren’t

many skaters in schools and if you were, you were an outcast. Over the 30 years I’ve been doing this it has become more socially acceptable.”

Haggerty is a veteran skater but enjoys going to FSP and learning from skaters younger than him. He brings his camera to record himself skating as a present to his future self.

“As an older skater to come here, it’s a good place to network,” says Haggerty. “In the past three or four years I’ve been going here I’ve made some great friends. They are younger, but age doesn’t matter in skateboarding. We share the same common activity.

“When I was younger, I was sponsored, and now that I’m older skating is something that I can look back on. Like damn I was doing this at 40? And then I was doing this at almost 50? It’s a time capsule for me.”

For now, McNichol’s focus is making sure that FSP is around for a while. Currently the park is only open on Saturdays during the winter and on first Fridays during the summer.

“The biggest challenge always is keeping the lights on and the doors open,” explains McNichol. “We’re really lucky that we are in a partnership with the city and they help us with access to this space. We are a nonprofit volunteer organization, and we run off of donations from the community. The biggest challenge is keeping it going and when you are running a free skatepark, you’re not bringing in money. We gotta keep the ramps in good shape, add new obstacles, and do board giveaways. We can always use community support.”

For more information and donations, go to freedomnj.org.


A skater wouldn’t be surprised. The spirit of mutual celebration and support lies at the heart of skate culture, McNichol says.

“Whether you’re the best person on the session at the skate park, or someone who’s just starting out trying to learn a basic trick, the culture of skateboarding is to celebrate all of that,” he says. “It’s about celebrating a person overcoming their own barriers, their own nerves, their own fears, and achieving a goal that they’ve set for themselves. And being in a community that’s like that inherently opens the door to inclusivity and support regardless of where someone’s from, what they look like, what their background is.”

Cole agrees. “There’s just a different sense of freedom that you can get in a community like this,” she says. “Because there’s literally no gender attached to this. There’s not even a certain set of wheels that’s attached to this. It’s just, what do you need? What do you want to do and how can we help you get there? That’s beautiful.”

The Collective will have one more Second Saturday gender-inclusive skate this season on Feb. 11. Not as many skaters have been coming to the meetups recently. With pandemic measures scaled back and the world opened up again, some Collective members have left the parks to return to their roller derby teams. In other places, skaters now get together at their local parks with friends they’d originally met at the Collective’s meetups.

The Collective’s members are proud to see the diversity they’ve encouraged dispersed across the state. In general, the more local gatherings out there providing a safe place for marginalized and nontraditional skaters, the better.

At the same time, as the Collective’s original members move on to graduate school, businesses or raising families, there’s hope that a new generation of volunteers can continue its work.

“I don’t feel like we’re done,” Cole says. “It’s like a pay-it-forward kind of moment, in the sense of just making sure that this continues to make skating accessible for more people. Because there’s still folks out there for whom it’s not accessible yet, people who haven’t discovered what we do yet.”

Tatiana Lopez, a storyteller and visual anthropologist, sees that mission as important not only to the sport of skating, but to the wider goal of decolonization. Since last summer, she’s been working on a collaborative art project about the skate community that will include portraits and photo embroidery. Her work investigates the decolonization of gender and the importance of accessibility for skating spaces while also acknowledging those spaces as indigenous land.

“Providing opportunity and access to ALL types of skaters regardless of gender, body types and/or ethnicity is a way of decolonization,” Lopez wrote in an email. “It’s all about community and education.”

Seeing so much importance in skating instead of a more popular sport like football or basketball might seem odd. But skating offers something unique that other sports can’t. Skaters have a few names for it: the “skater’s high,” or simply an adrenaline rush. In one of the Collective’s early events, skaters were asked about what skating did for their mental health—and everyone had something to say. The skating and neurodivergent communities have a massive overlap, with skating offering a way to quiet the mind or bring a creative boost.

“This conversation happens with skateboarding also,” explains Em, “where people say

it’s not really a sport, it’s more of a feeling. It is really athletic at times, but it is absolutely about a feeling. There’s nothing like doing a trick and acing it so well… the feeling of it is incredible.”

It reminds me of the way musicians talk about music: something wordless and connective, an understanding between people who know to stop playing at the same time even though they can’t say why. In spaces created to be inclusive, there can be an unspoken harmony between skaters who might be the dudest-presenting dudes, or women in glitter, or nonbinary or trans people in cheetah-print jackets, quad skaters and in-line skaters and skateboarders, moving to an indescribable pattern that still connects us all.

Follow @NJSkateCollective on Instagram for information about volunteering and events.

Cory practicing her rail slide. Maven catching some serious air.


How Jersey Shore Food Not Bombs reduces waste and feeds the public

In 1980, a group of anti-war protesters were demonstrating outside a nuclear power facility in Cambridge, MA. This group of protesters were also aghast at the size of the military budget in the U.S., which at the time was $143 billion dollars. As part of their protest, they handed out free food.

Fast forward 33 years, and the military budget has grown to $847 billion, and Congress recently passed a military budget with $43 billion more than what President Biden asked for. There are still a group of anti-war protesters in Massachusetts giving out food, but the movement has since grown nationwide.

The group is called Food Not Bombs, and the goal is to give out free meals in public spaces, and not turn anyone away. The mutual aid group also works with local grocery stores, restaurants and food collectives to make sure no food goes to waste. A big part of the group’s mission is to show how much is wasted under our capitalist system. You’ll find a group of people similar to the ones in Massachusetts at the Asbury Park train station every Sunday, rain or shine. The Jersey Shore Food Not Bombs group has been around since 2014, and has recently expanded to Lakewood as well.

There is no leadership structure to Food Not Bombs, and decisions such as the timing of the food shares are based on the collective and availability. One of the members of Jersey Shore Food Not Bombs is Dorris Lin, who has been with the Jersey Shore chapter from the start.

“We had a couple meetings and then we did a food share at the Asbury Park train station in March of 2014 and we have been here every Sunday since,” Lin says.

Lin was drawn to Food Not Bombs because of the sense of community it brings every Sunday, and she agreed with the organization viewpoint about food waste.

“Food Not Bombs is about saving food waste,” explains Lin. “We make sure that food goes to the people instead of the garbage. We get donations from stores, restaurants and farmers, and we share it with the public. I also love that our chapter is vegan.

Not only is vegan food healthy, but there is a moral benefit to giving out vegan food as well.

“Veganism is about avoiding the harm and exploitation of animals,” says Lin. “Also an important issue is climate change. Animal agriculture is one of the main drivers of climate change, and animal agriculture is violent and exploitative of the animals, workers and communities of where the slaughterhouses are located. It is also one of the main drivers of tropical deforestation.”

The people who pick up food at the food shares also appreciate the fact that there are vegan options available as sometimes food banks may not have vegan or organic options available.

“Over in Lakewood we had someone come up and say, ‘I’m diabetic and when I go to the food bank, they give me food I can’t eat,’” says Allie Wilson a Howell native, and Food Not Bombs volunteer. “That’s just a common occurrence.”

Wilson was drawn to Food Not Bombs as a way to branch out into her community, and help tackle food insecurity. Growing up in a suburb like Howell can be “isolating,” as Wilson puts it.

She didn’t start with Food Not Bombs until December of 2020 as she was in Brazil getting a graduate degree. In Brazil, Wilson learned more about the importance of food sharing.

“I came back to the United States in December of 2020,” recalls Wilson. “It was the peak of the pandemic and I quarantined for one week coming back to the States. The first day I got out of quarantine happened to be a Sunday and I

came to the share. Food Not Bombs has helped me become more connected to the area. Growing up around here can be isolating so having this community has helped me stay in this area.”

Food insecurity was also a big reason why Opal, another Shore resident, decided to help out with Food Not Bombs. They hear comments from people at the food share about having access to healthy food.

“Over the years I noticed people will come here and be like, ‘I haven’t been able to make a salad in 10 years because I haven’t had access to fresh produce that is affordable,” says Opal. “Food insecurity affects every facet of people’s lives. If people spend all their money on food, they don’t have money for medicine, or for car repairs. It’s one bad day away from not having money to pay for food.”

Other volunteers such as Arlo Kortedala, another Shore area native, got more interested in Food Not Bombs by reading zines at cafes. Kortedala handles the clothing table at the food share.

“I would go to this coffee shop and they had a zine library in the back,” explains Kortedala. “I would read zines about animal liberation and saw old advertisements for Food Not Bombs. I had no idea what it was at the time, but the more I read the more I was like, ‘Wow this is really cool.’ I didn’t know there was one in Asbury, and now I don’t work on Sundays and can actually start volunteering.”

The location of the Asbury Park Food Not Bombs food share is at the train station, and it’s intentional that the group chose the location since it’s a focal point in town.


“It’s important that Food Not Bombs is accessible to everyone,” says Wilson. “It’s why we have it at the train station so that you don’t need a car to get here. It’s why we don’t ask for ID or proof of looking for a job in order to receive food.”

Even though the mission of Food Not Bombs is admirable, they have received some criticism from different sides. Lin remembers one time an Asbury Park native came up to the table and said, “Don’t come back, whatever you have we don’t want it; we take care of our own,” and she would like to see more Asbury Park involvement with the group.

There’s also the criticism of local passersby in Asbury Park; in fact, you see it in any city with a significant unhoused population—think the, “Get a job” type of comments. But food insecurity doesn’t discriminate, and inflation has only added to the struggle. Over half of Americans can’t afford a $1,000 emergency. We’re all one bad day away.

Recently, Jersey Shore Food Not Bombs expanded more inland to Lakewood. Lakewood is Ocean County’s most populous city, and one of the most diverse cities in the Garden State. Lakewood is home to a strong Orthodox Jewish community, and sizable Black and Latino popula-

tions as well. Zach Ackermann, an Ocean County native helped organize the Lakewood share.

“I was tabling for the Light Brigade Collective in Asbury,” says Ackermann. “I was engaging with two people who came up to the table and we all lived in Ocean County. We were like, ‘We should do Food Not Bombs in Ocean County.’ I don’t know where the spark came from, but it all made sense.”

It all happened pretty fast, and the food share in Lakewood turned into a reality. The share is in the town square. Last summer Raymond Coles, the mayor of Lakewood, defended a decision to cut down trees in the town’s square to discourage the unhoused population from camping. The mission of Food Not Bombs stands in contrast with what happened in the square last summer.

“We have a great group of people,” explains Ackermann. “I can only continue to hope that we can move in the right direction.

Similar to Asbury Park, the Lakewood group gets food from bodegas, farmers, restaurants and shops. Food recovery is essential for the mutual aid group’s mission, but is also an act of resistance.

“Food recovery works in a couple different ways,” explains Ackermann. “We’ll talk to

stores, vendors or farmers and pitch it to them. Sometimes you have people who are like, ‘I’ll sell my excess food,’ while others are like, ‘Let’s do it.’ One of our biggest food recovery sources was Berry Fresh Farms in Brick. We got a lot from them and they were very supportive. ... I would like to get more roots in Lakewood in terms of food recovery though. While bringing in food from the outside is great, I’m hoping that we can build together with the local community. If we are going to be in Lakewood doing this and serving the community, we need to not get ourselves in the position of being the ‘white saviors.’

“Food recovery is minimizing food waste, sharing, and giving food out for free with no strings attached. And I think of it as a form of resistance as well. It’s subverting the system of our economy and repurposing the waste. Something that has no value to capitalism can still be something that nourishes a friend or a neighbor or can be cooked into a meal, or donated to a food pantry.”

Jersey Shore Food Not Bombs has shares at the following locations:

- Asbury Park Train Station on Sundays, 3:30-4:30 p.m.

- Long Branch Train Station on Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m.

- Lakewood Town Square on Fridays from 6-7 p.m.

W O R K W H E R E & H O W Y O U W A N T D o w n t o w n T r e n t o n C o m m u n i t y C o w o r k i n g S p a c e @Basecamptrenton @Basecamptrenton @Basecamptrenton Schedule a tour today 609.392.0203 247 East Front Street • Trenton, NJ 08611 www.basecamptrenton.com NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA FEBRUARY 2023 11

In conversation with the hosts of the “Best Damn Comedy Show in AP,” Power Bottom

“Cheap, aggressive, and wildly entertaining”—certainly an ideal Tinder bio to come across, or, in this instance, a fitting description for our new favorite comedy show: Power Bottom. The brainchild of comedian Allie Mae, and developed with support from cohost Joe McAndrew, this is an event you’ll wish you knew about a long time ago.

Every last Thursday of the month, Mae and McAndrew provide audiences with an evening of unadulterated and ungovernable comedy via a lineup that features the best up-and-coming comics in the greater NJ area. Believe us, “up and coming” is no misnomer here: you’re going to see some really funny people before they blow up, and that includes the hosts. As for the headliners? Bonnie McFarlane, Chris Gethard, Ian Lara, just to name a few (you should know these people). Every month is another heavy hitter with credits that would impress even the casual stand-up fan.

In addition to the talent on display, perhaps what really sets this show apart from the rest is that literally anyone can afford to go see it. As the cost of living continues to climb in shore towns all along the Jersey coast (statewide, really), it’s been a pleasure to encounter so many people striving to provide accessible experiences, food/ drink or services to folks of all means— Mae and McAndrew, and the values behind their show, are yet another example of this.

Do you have $30 to your name? Well, if so, Mae and McAndrew want you to know that you, too, can have a night out in Asbury Park—eat, drink, laugh your ass off—and probably still make it home with a couple dollars in your pocket. The cost of a ticket to Power Bottom is $10, and the food/drink menu offers some specials that would have even made us smile over a decade ago when we first started frequenting the bars in Asbury Park. $3 beers? That’s ideal no matter where you’re drinking.

At the show we attended in August, the headlining comic (Paterson, NJ native/legend) Rich Vos jokingly remarked in his set that performing at Power Bottom was like telling jokes in a “bomb shelter.” Kinda harsh, but he wasn’t totally off base. Bond Street Bar is one of, if not the only, true dive left in Asbury Park; and its basement is more or less an extension of the upstairs. Maybe a little rough around the edges for some, but if you love dive bars

(we do) or pine for the days of cheaper drinks/bar food and music that isn’t shit: it’s a little slice of heaven hidden in plain sight amongst the continuously yuppified surroundings. Power Bottom could be a success in a lot of venues but we’d argue that Bond Street actually enhances the experience and complements the show’s punk rock ethos in a way that no other place in town could—a perfect fit.

Last month, NJ Indy had the chance to sit down with Allie Mae and Joe McAndrew to discuss that ethos in length and explore what makes Power Bottom a New Jersey treasure.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did Power Bottom come to be?

Joe McAndrew: 1000% because of Allie. She wanted to start a show. She already had a couple, like “Laughs on Tap,” where she was going to craft breweries and putting on shows… this was at the tail end of the pandemic. I had run a show prior to the pandemic called “HAGS” at the Saint, and that was running for four years. So, we just decided to run one together. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s like a very punk rock, off-script, do-whatever-we-want type of show.

person that checks everybody in. I mean, some shows we make a little bit more, but this last show in particular, it was less because we did a Cyber Monday sale—50% off tickets.

When I started Power Bottom, I did the first one without Joe and then the second one, from there forward, we did it together. At the time I was thinking, “What’s cool? What’s different?” Then I came up with things like giving away $69 at every show. Like, who else is doing that, you know? And Joe was like, “That’s a lot of money to give away. What if you don’t take in that money?” Yeah, it is scary to guarantee that you’ll give away money, and it’s scary to put on a comedy show in general because you don’t know if you’ll sell all the tickets. But I always want to put myself in a position where it’s going to be like, sink or swim, and I just can’t sink.

Why Bond Street?

JM: Allie secured the spot. She’s the more professional side of things. And I am more of the, uh, I don’t know, “Let’s draw a dick on a flyer and see how many people come out,” side of things. So we would not have success without her, 1000%. She wanted the right location... big enough to fit like 100 people. She set up everything. I had reached out prior to Wonderbar, I reached out to Biergarten, I was toying with the idea of The Saint but I had already run this other show there for four years, and I just didn’t want it to be like, you know, essentially the same [show]. So, yeah, Biergarten, Wonder Bar, Iron Whale, even the Stone Pony—but they were expecting over 150 people so that didn’t really seem like the right fit.

How difficult has it been putting the show together each month?

Allie Mae: We actually put a lot of work into selling it out. Every month we’re out there freezing cold, like, can’t feel our fingers, hanging flyers. And we don’t make a lot of money on it at all because we’re paying everyone ourselves. We are paying the headliner, all the opening comics, we pay the door

The flow of Power Bottom is unlike any show I’ve been to: it proceeds like it’s being shot out of a cannon. The night I went, Allie opened and her set more or less started with a joke about rape... and, despite some pearl-clutching, it killed. There was no tip-toeing around any issues, no forbidden subjects, no easing into the lineup with some less-proven or green comics; it was just full speed ahead from the jump.

AM: Well, what I’m trying to do is get right into it and completely break the audience. I’m trying to let them know we are not at church, we are not in the conference room at your stupid job. Like, we are


gonna press on the weird stuff that sits in the dark corners of your mind... and we’re gonna have fun. I frequently start with that joke or I’ll tell it early on in the set. I talk about Asbury being a gay town and I talk about how I’m bisexual, right? I say, “You know, telling men I’m bisexual, the response is always the same—they always get excited about it. But, sometimes if you tell a woman that you’re bisexual they start getting this tense energy, like something bad’s gonna happen.” Then I’m like, “Relax, I’m not gonna rape you. I’m thinking about it, but I’m not gonna do it. I have manners, and a warrant, so my hands are tied. I wish they were yours, but here we are.” And people are like, “Oh my god, are you talking about raping me right now?” And it’s like, “Yes, yes I am.”

Do you open/host every show?

AM: Joe and I take turns. Sometimes it’s not exact, it’s not like, “I did the last one, now you have to do this one or whatever.” Sometimes people just really don’t want to host, to be honest. Sometimes I don’t wanna host, you know? Sometimes I want Joe to do it, especially if we don’t have a lot of girls on the lineup. Or let’s say, like, last night, my show at The Stand (NYC). I was the only girl on the lineup and so I asked the guy I did the show with, “Who’s hosting tonight? Do you wanna host or me?” And then I let him know that I don’t care because I don’t want him to feel like he has to do it, you know? He goes, “Would you mind taking this one?” And it’s like, I don’t mind, but I was the only girl, so then it became, “I present to you all: a night of men! They are so talented and so white!” Haha. So, I would have appreciated it if the other guy hosted because it would have been a way to mix up the energy instead of just having dude after dude go up. But I don’t really care, and I’m not mad at him or anything like that.

When was the first show?

AM: June 23 (2021).

JM: Oh yeah, that first Power Bottom. After the show, this girl and guy got caught trying to fuck in the bathroom... the Bond Street basement bathroom with the huge doors and black lights. Haha.

How has working together gone since then?

AM: I hired Joe as a host at first. I wanted to start the show with him, but he thought we would probably kill each other if we started a show together. And it’s true, we almost have killed each other many times.

Joe had the OG Asbury show, “HAGS,” which was at The Saint. It was really, really funny. Like when I started comedy, I looked up to Joe; I was like, “Oh my god, guide me!” You know what I mean? So when I first started he was, you know, someone that I looked up to and when I first started my “Laughs on Tap” show, I didn’t really know what I was doing, to be honest. I didn’t really know

how to build my own lineup. And I would ask Joe like, “Who should I put on this?” I’ve always had the organizational skills and the ability to build relationships with people and promote and stuff like that. But, you know, I had to really learn how to build a lineup.

At the end of the day, I could not do this without him. Joe is easygoing and maybe more level-headed. I can kind of get stressed about the behind the scenes details and he’ll be like, “It’s gonna

our thing, and I’m super confident in that aspect of it.

AM: I think you understand what our vibe is. It is punk. That’s why it’s like... I want something that someone who [is broke] can come to… because, fuck what is happening to Asbury Park—everything’s so expensive! Even something like a punk rock flea market you gotta pay like, what is it, five bucks? 10 bucks? Something like that. You’re paying to go shopping. What sense does that make? Listen, if they were not charging the people who are making the crafts or whatever a table fee, then I would happily pay the $5 or $10. But they are! They are charging the person to table, and they’re charging me to come look at the table.

Do you think Power Bottom is in its final form or are there things you’d like to change? For example, as popularity continues to grow, do you think things like cost, format, frequency and venue will ever need to be addressed?

JM: It’s something that we’ve talked about, but I don’t know exactly what’s gonna happen or that we’ll change anything.

be fine.” Although, sometimes when he’s saying it’s gonna be fine, I’m like, “No, it’s not,” but it always is. So we balance each other out because there’s times he takes things too easy and sometimes I take things too seriously. But it meets in the middle so that we approach [the show] in just the right way.

What do you think Power Bottom means to Asbury Park?

JM: So, I am pretty reserved with complimenting myself or complimenting anything I’m associated with—I try to be realistic about certain things... but I just feel strongly about this show. I didn’t really get to go to the old Asbury Lanes when it was around. I only got to see one great show and then we all know what happened. I feel like Power Bottom, at Bond Street, is kind of today’s equivalent of the Lanes. It’s very... I don’t wanna say it’s a free-for-all, but it’s like, there’s a $69 prize, we’re talking about dicks, or anal, or anything we want. We are doing what we want to do. It’s a regular monthly thing you can count on and you’re seeing people (comics) before they blow up. It’s like a whole little secret, special thing. There’s people that see that green and pink flyer out on a pole with all the other stickers and dirtiness. Some people are like, “I’m not into that, that’s not for me,” but then there are people that are like “Oh shit, I’ve gotta check that out!” And then you’ll see them come back every month.

This cool thing we have, most people outside of Asbury or Monmouth County may not know about it. So, to me, it has that feel of the old Lanes because now people “in the know” will say, “Oh, you don’t know about Power Bottom? You don’t know about this cool thing?” There’s nothing else like it around. I mean, you have Shore Style Punk Night, which is awesome, but other than that it’s just

AM: Ideally I’d want to keep doing it exactly the way it is. I’m never gonna make it more expensive, I don’t give a fuck. We put on a better show at Power Bottom than anyone else in town. [Other places] put on bullshit shows for $40, and they’re not even real comics, they’re writers for SNL and stuff. Maybe they started out doing stand-up, but they don’t do it regularly and now their wheelhouse truly is writing. That show’s gonna suck and it’s $40. So, it’s like, “Fuck you, we’re doing it for $10, it’s gonna be cool and I’m not gonna make any money on it and I don’t give a fuck.” Anybody can come to this show, but at the end of the day, what I wanted to do was put out something for blue collar people or people who may not make a lot of money to go out and have a good time. Look, $10 for the ticket, $5 for the bar pie, $3 for the beer, if you tip 20% on the nose on $18, that’s $3.60. So, for like $22 you can go have a night out and see somebody from Comedy Central. And you can also walk out with $69 cash, or if not the $69 prize, you can walk out with a $25 gift card to Mutiny BBQ or you can walk out with THC goodies from The Green Room.

Who are some comics that people should keep an eye out for in Jersey, especially those that have featured or may go up in the future at Power Bottom?

JM: Vin Brue, Waldo Maldonado, Tyler Langlois, Shawn Gardini, Ryan Barry, Kate Nichols, Franco Danger, Nick Fierro, Colin Armstrong, Keegan Tindall, Andy Malafarina, Nate Marshall, Alex Nicholas, Ryan Rummel, Angela Sharp, Vishnu Vaka, Taj Osorio, Danny Braff, Jordan Manglona, Danish Maqbool, Angelo Gingerelli, Gabby Bryan, Brian St. John and Justin Williams! I’m sorry if I forgot anyone but my Venmo is Joemcshutup and if you want to be shouted out next time then PAY UP!


Jersey filmmakers

The plan was simple: Take a kayak trip in South America. Things did not go according to plan.

Consider the context and you’ll see why. Three university students from Krakow, Poland—Andrzej Pietowski, Jurek Majcherczyk, and Piotr Chmielinski—got the inspiration to travel overseas and paddle whitewater outside of their home country. But this was the late ’70s, the Cold War, and leaving the Eastern Bloc was next to impossible. They found a way. Then, with little money, they had to secure food, kayaks, equipment, a truck and more. They found a way. Then, when they finally got to the West, now with a group of 10 people, they had to make money, vastly improve their kayaking skills, survive stickups in Central America, navigate political unrest and closed borders in South America, and decide what to do when their visas expired and their country called them back. Then too, they found a way.

All this adventure and they hadn’t even started the expedition they had set out to take.

The story of the canoandes, as they called themselves, is the subject of the documentary Godspeed, Los Polacos!, from New Jersey filmmakers Adam Nawrot and Sonia Szczesna. Since premiering in 2021, the film has racked up a handful of accolades, including Best Feature Film at Banff Film Festival and both Best Adventure Film and the People’s Choice Award at the Boulder International Film Festival.

What gives Godspeed, Los Polacos! legs is the story beyond the adventure at the center of the film—the first descent of the world’s deep-

est canyon, Colca Canyon in Peru. Though the expedition is what drives the canoandes, a cadre of explorers that eventually whittled down to five people, and is a remarkable feat in its own right, the story of how they navigated political unrest, bureaucracy and used their platform to shine a spotlight on the Solidarity movement in Poland is arguably more incredible.

With the current war in Ukraine, the film has renewed relevance; though for Nawrot and Szczesna, whose families are both of Polish descent, it was fulfilling to share the story of the Polish anti-authoritarian, pro-worker Solidarity movement with a new audience.

“Initially their goals were not political. They just wanted to go on an expedition and it spiraled into something more intense,” Szczesna says. “Something I’m really happy about is not everyone has had an education on the Solidarity movement and its impact in the world. I’m happy our film generally gets people to feel like this is something I want to learn more about and dig deeper into that history and legacy.

“When it first came out, there wasn’t a war in Ukraine, but ... this is history repeating itself. I think our film can shed a lot of light on what’s happening there with Russian aggression, and we really think about that on a daily basis. The same thing was happening in Poland; our families out there are feeling they’re going to get invaded.”

Nawrot and Szczesna’s connection to the Polish community in New Jersey not only made them aware of the canoandes’ journey, but allowed them, after some convincing, to get them to participate in the film. Jurek Majcherczyk has

since settled in Wallington, NJ, and the two filmmakers had crossed paths with him throughout their lives:

“If you’re engaged in the Polish scene in NJ, there’s a high likelihood you’ve come across this guy,” Szczesna says.

Whatever convincing they had to do—of the three original kayakers and the two documentarians that descended Colca with them, Zbigniew Bzdak and Jacek Bogucki—was justified. Nawrot and Szczesna, who are married, were relatively green filmmakers—Nawrot had gone through a documentary program at Rutgers, while Szczesna was in grad school for urban planning. Though the plan was to craft a short documentary with only Majcherczyk’s involvement, it soon became clear that only a feature-length film would suffice. It was their first long-form documentary venture from their Sourland Studios production company.

The film, of course, comes to life with the involvement of all the canoandes, who recall on camera their wild journey. They vividly detail just how they worked the system in Poland to secure the necessary permissions and equipment to begin the adventure, how they navigated everywhere between Casper, Wyoming, and the southern tip of Argentina while exploring 26 riv-

explore the wild tale of the canoandes, who kayaked the deepest canyon in the world and fought for Polish Solidarity
Photos courtesy Sourland Studios

ers and making 13 first descents. The canoandes regale with tales of fortuitous run-ins with Polish ex-pats in Las Vegas and rubbing elbows with Latin American aristocrats as they figured out how to return to their country with something impressive. Charm, it turns out, went a long way for the young Polish adventurers.

“Piotr Chmielinski always likes to say people took them seriously when it came to it because they always had in their giant expedition vehicle well-ironed suits. They always had suits ready to go if they met an official,” Szczesna says. “They are completely the same [today]. We’ve gone to multiple film festivals with them and they’re party people. They’re stopping, chatting everyone up. They’re still these charmers that are outrageous.”

A strong current that moves Godspeed, Los Polacos! along is what motivated them to continue on despite their many obstacles: Pride in their country, and belief in their countrymen, instilled a dedication to complete the expedition come hell or high water.

In a telling scene, the canoandes recount being held at the border of Guatemala and Honduras; in several countries, communism-intolerant government officials were reluctant to engage with people from a supposedly communist country. So they get out and point to the picture of Pope John Paul II, who was Polish, they had affixed to the back of their truck shortly after news came that he was shot. The guard accepted that if the Pope wasn’t communist, then they weren’t necessarily either, and they were allowed to cross the border.

As the canoandes recall their journey in Godspeed, Los Polacos!, it’s clear they were driven to succeed, to make their countrymen proud, even as death stared them in the face. In the Colca Canyon, they faced slow-burning existential threats like severe hunger as well as more acute ones, like a triple waterfall that capsized the raft they used to traverse it and sent them crashing toward the rocky shore. A triumph of Godspeed is that the canoandes recall these moments with vivid clarity, and their motivations to succeed.

“They still can transport to that very moment, which is a really interesting moment,” Szczesna says. “Their hopes and dreams were tied up into this trip. So when the Pope is shot, they literally are like, ‘We must do this expedition for the Pope.’ I wouldn’t say everyone in the expedition felt that way, but a good number were like, ‘We need to be successful because our country will fall apart if we don’t.’ I fully believe they were prepared to die during this expedition.”

Eventually they succeed in Colca, but with unrest at home, the canoandes stay in South America. They turn the attention they gained along the way into action by organizing rallies in support of Polish Solidarity. That irks the Soviets,

and so they’re told, “Come home to Poland. But make a stop first in Moscow.” The canoandes aren’t blind. They don’t go.

Look, the film brings you through the twists and turns thereafter in a much more engaging way than I can here, so we’ll skip to the end, as the canoandes briefly reflect on the meaning and legacy of their expedition. There are bittersweet tones; after all, how does one reintegrate into normal life after such an adventure (though to be, clear, each continued traveling and adventuring, and Chmielinski would go on to be the first person to paddle the Amazon River source to sea)? What’s even normal anymore after six years of adventuring and no path home?

“[They had] at least three years in preparation, at least three years on the expedition. Six years thinking about this one thing. And then their whole lives are uprooted and

they have to move back to Casper, Wyoming, and they have to figure out what they’re going to do for the rest of their lives,” Szczesna says. “The first few years of them living in the U.S., no one knew what they were going to do, they just spent all their time thinking about this. Everyone anticipated they’d go aback to Poland and their lives would resume. Everyone had their periods of adjustment.”

Godspeed, Los Polacos! does well to extend the story beyond the sensational bits, as fun as they are, and so its legacy, like the canoandes’ adventure, is likely to endure. And more than anything, you might finish watching and think about where your next adventure might take you.

For more on Godspeed, Los Polacos! and updates on Nawrot and Szczesna’s next projects—including a look at unique makers in Trenton—go to sourlandstudios.com.

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The Sister Chapel, conceived in 1974 by Ilise Greenstein, completed by collaborating woman artists and first exhibited in 1978, is the permanent installation at Rowan University Art Gallery’s Center for Art & Social Engagement. It celebrates 45 years this year.

The Sister Chapel at 45

The exhibit at Rowan’s Center for Art & Social Engagement presents women’s achievements from a female perspective. Rowan has created interactive elements for the anniversary, bringing new layers to this monumental exhibition.

What strikes you first is the size of the portraits, and more accurately, the size of their subjects. Eleven of them, all illustrious women from history or beyond depicted by a woman artist on a 9-by-5-foot canvas—Frida Kahlo, Joan of Arc, God, Durga, Lilith, Superwoman and more. They all face inward, some returning your gaze as others look away. You look up and see yourself, there in the center of it, reflected in a circular mirror hung from the ceiling.

It feels hallowed, which was the intention. This is The Sister Chapel, a collaborative visual arts installation permanently on display at Rowan University Art Gallery’s Center for Art and Social Engagement (CASE). The artist Ilise Greenstein first envisioned a monumental “hall of fame” in which women’s achievements would be presented from a female perspec-

tive, and asked 11 women artists to create the works. It first exhibited in 1978 at P.S.1 (now MoMA PS1) in New York City; Greenstein called it “a major statement on women” and “a portrayal of how women artists see other women.” It exhibited twice more before 1980, and then each piece went back to each contributor, and nothing further came from the project.

That is until Dr. Andrew Hottle, a Rowan art history professor, started working on a book 10 years ago about Sylvia Sleigh, a female artist known for paintings of male nudes that attempt to navigate a shift from the male gaze to the female gaze. Hottle noticed that Sleigh contributed the portrait of Lilith to The Sister Chapel, and intrigued, started working to bring the works back together. All but two artists agreed to donate their work to the Rowan University Art Gallery, and in 2016, Rowan reintroduced the world to The Sister Chapel (the two outlying portraits were donated for the opening, and now reproductions take their place; the hope is the originals will one

day rejoin the Chapel, which has a permanent home at CASE).

This year, Rowan is celebrating the 45th anniversary of The Sister Chapel with an interactive exhibit, the Monumental Selfie Project, in which guests can take the place of the women in the portraits via a green screen, and Sisters Speak, in which guests can listen to recordings from Rowan theater students as they recite scripts based on the women featured in the portraits.

Those are added layers to what already is a chapel for reflection—on history, representation, gender and more. In a world, and country, that carved men’s faces into cliff sides, it feels regrettably novel to see distinguished women get the same treatment. Calling attention to the disparity of accolades for male and female artists was core to the project and is referenced in the name of the installation itself.

“The pun with the Sistine Chapel is another poke at the patriarchy of the art world and how male artists are elevated to an extraordinary, almost godlike position; the


Sistine Chapel represents the ultimate of what was achieved by the male artist of the day, while The Sister Chapel riffs off the Sistine Chapel as a patriarchal project by shifting the structure to a secular, nonhierarchical, fundamentally female institution,” says Mary Salvante, director and chief curator at Rowan University Art Gallery. “The Sistine Chapel is a monument to God while The Sister Chapel is a monument to Woman.”

What further separates The Sister Chapel from other monuments is that it’s self-aware; it was created to honor the women in the portraits and to recontextualize those women through modern art, yes, but it was also created to call attention to the lack of recognition of accomplishments by women in broader society. The installation subtly references this in its staging.

“After receiving the paintings, we realized that to follow the original intent of the artists, we’d need to create a tent structure to house the works, which hadn’t been possible in previous exhibitions because the organizing group of artists didn’t have the resources to fund its fabrication. We collaborated with a number of people to build a red and white structure that is reminiscent of a circus tent, which pokes fun at the male-dominated art scene that many view as ‘just a circus,’” Salvante says.

The portraits in The Sister Chapel are rotated throughout the circle from time to time, Salvante says, and each is created in a unique style, with a unique color palette, in a unique perspective. Sharon Wybrants, for instance, painted herself as Superwoman. Cynthia Mailman painted herself, but as god as a naked woman. And Alice Neel’s portrait of Congresswoman Bella Abzug was forged both by the artist’s physical limitations (Abzug is the only woman who’s not as tall as the portrait) and creative perspective.

“She was a very vocal women’s advocate and had this gravelly voice, this hardcore New York accent, but Alice Neel at the time was already elderly and reluctant to climb a ladder in order to make a 9-foot-tall figure,” Salvante says. “With her breasts, you see these swirly shapes to sort of indicate the power of the female form and bringing that forward.”

There were few stipulations on what the collaborating artists could create, Salvante says; with the exception of Neel’s portrait, all had to fill the 9-by-5-foot canvas and the artist needed to see the woman they were depicting as a hero.

“Some of the paintings are of historical figures, some are mythological, and some are of other artists. While all the contributing artists were white women (the emphasis on racial visibility was much lower at the time), the subjects of the paintings are diverse, which reflects one of their collective foresights,” she says.

That The Sister Chapel was created in the first place was a feat in itself, Salvante says.

Portraits from The


Center for Art & Social Engagement. Clockwise from top left: Alice

‘Bella Abzug—the Candidate,’ 1976, oil on canvas, anonymous gift | Sylvia Sleigh, ‘Lilith,’ 1976, Acrylic on canvas, Sylvia Sleigh Collection | Sharon Wybrant, ‘Self-Portrait as Superwoman (Woman as Culture Hero),’ 1977–78/2010–16, oil on canvas, gift of the artist | Shirley Gorelick, ‘Frida Kahlo,’ 1976, Acrylic on canvas, gift of Jamie S. Gorelick, 2011

Sister Chapel Rowan’s Neel,

“Back in the ’70s, it was not commonplace for artists to collaborate in the way The Sister Chapel’s contributing artists did. Hottle’s 2014 book, The Art of the Sister Chapel: Exemplary Women, Visionary Creators, and Feminist Collaboration, talks about the history of the artists and their paintings in depth, and contains sketches and preliminary drawings. That 12 women with strong ideas and opinions were able to come together for this project is truly remarkable, and The Sister Chapel offers a rare opportunity to experience an installation exclusively by women artists from that time period,” Salvante says. “It’s interesting to compare and contrast the ’70s with where we are today in regards to women’s rights and the women’s movement. How have our ideas of womanhood and the power of women evolved over the past 45 years?”

Though they were created over 45 years ago, many (if not all) of the portraits, present a new perspective to modern conversations. Lilith, as legend has it, was the first wife of Adam, who was banished from the Garden of Eden after she refused to be subservient to him. In Sleigh’s portrait of Lilith, a nude male and female body are imposed on one another; of course in the context of Lilith’s story that might mean one set of things; in the context of contemporary society, it might mean another to any individual viewer.

“The Sister Chapel was created at the peak of the feminist movement, a movement which opened doors for equality (an ongoing effort) and made today’s conversations about transgender and nonbinary rights possible. At CASE, our doors are open to any and every gender identity. We had one student comment on the painting Lilith and say, ‘Oh, it’s a transgender person.’ I was thrilled they saw it that way because it became relevant to them,” Salvante says.

The Sister Chapel is no ordinary monument—it’s not the kind of structure or portrait where you read a placard and move on. It invites you into a conversation across decades, and to find your place in it. And the story it tells is much greater than the sum of its parts.

“In some ways, the story is that through time, women have power and agency,” Salvante says. “Through time, women can harness the strength of the women that came before them to reach new heights.”

To experience the interactive elements of The Sister Chapel, visit The Center for Art & Social Engagement At Rowan University in Glassboro between Feb. 16 and May 4.


Abelardo Morell: Projecting Italy Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, Through Feb. 12.

World-renowned photographer Abelardo Morell has been using the camera obscura since the early ‘90s. This exhibition highlights 12 tent camera and camera obscura photographs of sites in Italy.

Paul Bowen: Drift ArtYard, Frenchtown, Feb. 18-May 21, 2023

Paul Bowen creates art from scavenged wood and other natural materials. Drift features sculptures, drawings and sketches made from discarded materials full of stories. The exhibition explores Bowen’s process of finding and uncovering the beauty in waste material, broken things, and things that have had another life.

Federico Solmi: Joie De Vivre Morris Museum, Morris Township, Through Feb. 26

This is the first exhibition to explore the artist’s unique process— which combines traditional art practices and digital technologies— through a case study of Solmi’s most ambitious video-painting to date, The Bathhouse (2020). This 20-foot-wide, five-channel, multi-sensory video installation depicts an excess of revelry by leaders from across world history in a Roman bathhouse.

Saya Woolfalk: Tumbling Into Landscape

Newark Museum of Art, Newark, Through summer 2023.

With Saya Woolfalk: Tumbling Into Landscape, the artist has created an intervention exploring questions of identity and belonging in relationship to the land and multiple histories of the U.S.

Soul of African American Art

MAYO PAC, Morristown. Through March 5.

Art in the Atrium, a Morris County nonprofit that champions Black art excellence, returns with its second major exhibition at Mayo PAC’s Art Upstairs and Starlight Galleries. Soul of African American Art is an all new exhibit featuring 58 selected works of art by 31 artists. The artists range from emerging new artists to well established and known artists.

Genesis Báez, Parting (Braid), 2021. © Genesis Báez. Courtesy of the artist and Aperture, New York. In Princeton University Art Museum’s ‘You Belong Here.’ Rendered black-and-white for publication.

The Infinite City

Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, Through Feb. 12

Michael Dal Cerro’s painstakingly crafted woodcut and linocut prints could be seen as playful architectural proposals. In his artwork he is exploring a range of subjects such as: urban planning, or lack thereof, overdevelopment and the commercialization of public space. ‘The Infinite City’ keeps growing and adapting to new conditions. Blending traditional representation with two dimensional design, his city sites are portrayed with assertive colors, invented geometric and biomorphic shapes in a dynamic, multi-layered picture space.


Rowan University Art Gallery, Glassboro, Through March 25

SuperCellular is a new site-specific immersive art gallery experience from Carolyn Healy and John Phillips that combines sculpture, light, sound and moving imagery as a reflection of the astonishing and almost incomprehensible density and activity of the chemical molecules in our bodies. Inspired by neuroscience, cellular biology, and genetics, the installation contemplates the complexities and intricacies of living processes and the mysteries of cellular interactions

Tricia Zimic: Sina & Virtues

Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton, Through March 5, 2023

Tricia Zimic works in sculpture and painting using animals as narrative stand-ins for her unfolding dramas. Her work is influenced by the history of Dutch and German painters and sculptors.

You Belong Here: Place, People and Purpose in Latinx Photography Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, Feb. 11-May 7

You Belong Here celebrates the dynamic expressions of Latinx photography across the United States. The exhibition brings together both established artists and a new generation of image-makers, who address themes of family and community, fashion and culture, and the complexity of identity in American life.


We didn’t plan it this way, but I happened to be on the phone with Englewood music producer Allen George minutes after the Grammy nominations came in. Turns out Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul” got a nod for best song. It uses the production of George’s “Show Me Love,” which he wrote with collaborator Fred McFarlane and which was performed by Robin S. and released in 1990.

George has spent a career producing, writing and recording music—in fact he’s sold millions of records through his and McFarlane’s Terrible Two Productions. His Digital Dump Recording studio recently opened in Englewood, and he’s currently working with Def Jam’s “lady of soul” Alyson Williams for an upcoming soundtrack. But this Beyoncé business. This Grammy business. That’s… kind of big. It was a no-brainer to pass it along to Beyoncé, and he appreciates what she did with it.

“I wrote the lyrics to ‘Show Me Love,’ so when I’m listening to a song, I’m listening to what you’re saying. When I heard ‘Break My Soul,’ I was like, OK, you’re smart, you did something that’s inspirational. We all need to understand the political climate, I really think her song is an inspiration to people. You know, it’s a lot of these false things going around, false things and people cheating and

NJ Producer

people taking rights away, and Beyoncé is saying, ‘They’re trying to break your soul.’

“Some records categorize where we are in our history. This record captures that. It was excellent how they put it together.”

As a producer and songwriter, George is used to artists elevating his music. In fact, that’s exactly what he’s looking for when deciding who to work with.

“What you try to do as a lyricist and a musician, what I try to do, is make sure my message is clear and people understand what I’m saying,” George says. “It’s gonna resonate with people if they understand and hear what you’re saying. It’s very important that the singer translates that.”

And if a song is emotional—as George says songs ought to be—then the singer needs to bring that emotion into their performance and the producer needs to capture it on the record. You can hear that happen on “Somebody Else’s Guy,” which George and McFarlane wrote and which Joceyln Brown sings the absolute shit out of. Brown has an innate ability to emote through song, George says.

“I heard her sing the blues one day, no instruments. I said man, if I could have one-third of that voice, I’d be super famous. She could just make you feel her pain. Some singers are gifted like that.”

He first, or at least most viscerally, noticed that ability to emote through song in an absolutely epic way.

“I went to Luther Vandross’ funeral. I was sitting in the back row, almost in the middle. Wasn’t paying attention, lo and behold, somebody gets up on the side of me and starts getting ready to sing, so I look up and it’s Aretha Franklin. So of course I’m like, ‘Oh shit, that’s Aretha Franklin,’ and she starts singing Amazing Grace and I kid you not, I start seeing spirits moving. I don’t know what words this woman is singing, … all I know is when she was singing it was transcendental. I’m sitting next to a friend of mine and said, ‘Do you see what I’m seeing?’ She goes, ‘What you talking about?’ I’m like, ‘Nevermind.’”

Marrying a raw, explosive, talented voice to music requires some thought as a producer in ways the average listener doesn’t necessarily notice. In Jocelyn Brown’s case, George made the decision to let her play piano on the record, even though it wasn’t perfect, because it matched the exposed, untethered power of Brown’s voice.

And capturing the essence of Brown’s singing paid dividends—the record did well and gained some fans in both high and unexpected places.

“I was telling someone else that when the record was finished, I said, ‘This record is so Black nobody gonna buy it. You can’t get more dirt than this shit,’” he says. “But it became such a big crossover record. Z100 was playing ‘Somebody Else’s Guy.’ I was in with Mick Jagger, and I asked him, I said, ‘How’d you like, ‘Somebody Else’s Guy,’ and he said, ‘That’s one of my favorite records. It’s

Allen George on his hit-making music career and how Beyoncé took his song to #1 by Matt Cortina

really gritty and funky; I like that.’ It felt so good because he knew it and really liked it. As the years got by, it became a record that should’ve gotten a lot more accolades than it did, because it’s such a big crossover record and it lasted over 30 years. Sometimes you get a record like that.”

Sometimes you don’t. George has found himself in a situation where the artist can’t tap into something deep within them to create art that feels real. I won’t bury this band by naming them, but suffice it to say you’ve never heard of them and they didn’t come with the energy George and McFarlane had become accustomed to working with—they were “pulling teeth” with these “lifeless English girls,” he says, with a laugh.

So George now only works with artists he wants to work with. And, given the landscape of music nowadays, where decent recording software is ubiquitous, it’s also a matter of artists wanting to work with a producer. But George has been doing it so long he understands the benefits of working with professionals.

“The technology has made it so that these kids can buy these Pro Tools rigs and Logic rigs and record their own music. They turn it into an Atari game, almost,” George says. “But the problem is they don’t understand the influence of being in a community of music and understanding how other music influenced their music. They don’t understand Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox, they don’t understand the influences on music, so they’re trying to do their own things. And most of the time they don’t understand how to record, because they’ve taken the engineer out of the process. It took us a while to learn how to produce a record. We made a lot of mistakes producing records, but once we learned, we had a formula. Once you learn it, you never forget it.”

As a result, George says, “The highway is so crowded with garbage.”

Because a viral song on TikTok can make an artist overnight, and because of success stories like Olivia Rodrigo recording in her bedroom, young musicians might be disinclined to do it the “hard” way. Which is fine, but George posits that they lose something by not working with professional musicians, producers, engineers and the like. And, George says, the current method of consuming music via streaming often prevents young musicians from exploring full albums and music they otherwise wouldn’t have heard (and thus might be inspired by).

“There’s no more radio, no more records, everything’s on the internet. They’re getting so much info and they don’t have to listen to daddy’s music no more,” George says. “They could be writing a record and not understand what they’re doing or why they like it.”

To be clear, George isn’t dunking on “kids today,” he’s just observing trends from his unique vantage point. And for all the issues with music creation today, there are plenty of success stories, big and small. On the big scale, he points to Ed Sheeran.

“When I heard him on stage sing ‘Drunk in Love’ I was like, ‘Wow, he took that song somewhere else.’ That’s the kind of kid I want to work with. I don’t give a shit if they’re black, white, green, orange or from Mars, those are the kids I want to work with.”

And on the small scale, George remembers a young musician who came to work with him and started singing “like Trey Songz.” When George asked him if he had anything else, the musician said, “Why? I thought that’s what you wanted.”

“Right then, I realized we’re teaching people the wrong message. It’s called copying. You gotta stop that. Great art starts with originality,” George says.

The kid eventually played old R&B songs on a guitar—songs he wanted to play—and George recognized the authenticity of his musicianship. And that’s really what it comes down to for George: authenticity, originality and soul.

“I think our records always did well because we never thought about money when we were in the studio,” George says. “I can never remember a time when I said, ‘Oh this record is gonna make a lot of money.’ We never thought of the record in those terms. We always said, ‘We’re gonna make the best record we can make.’”


Bond Street Bar, Asbury Park

2/9: Fools Game, Bleed, Cycle of Abuse, Deluzion.

House of Independents, Asbury Park

2/17: Sunshine Spazz, Native Sun, Shred Flintstone, Judo Chop.

2/25: Palisades, Reece Young, Suck Brick Kid, Poeta.

2/26: Palisades, Reece Young, Suck Brick Kid, Cook Thugless.

Stone Pony, Asbury Park

2/11: Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes.

2/24: Negative Sky, Metal Life Crisis, Lower the Veil, Vexes.

Trinity Church, Asbury Park

2/18: Male Patterns, Kirkby Kiss, Lesser Minds, Meteor Police.

Anchor Rock Club, Atlantic City

2/16: Red Meat Conspiracy, CJ Sooy and the Rain Dawgz.

2/17: Destructors Takeover Tour.

2/18: Euphonious, Muscle Tough.

2/24: Visions of Atlantis, The Spider Accomplice, Empress.

Salty’s Beach Bar, Belmar

2/18: The Obsessed, Heavy Temple.

2/25: Messy Humans, Aristocants, Molotov Muchacho, Floater.

2/25: Days N Daze, Cop/Out, Teenage Halloween.

Dingbatz, Clifton

2/5: Atomic Battery, The Leftovers, Viretta Park, Whatabout.

2/9: Chemical-X, Regicide, Poison

I.V., This Island Earth.

2/10: Blud Red Roses, Erciyes Fragment, I, Destroyer, Traverse the Abyss, Dead Superstar, Shattered Earth.

2/13: The Bunny The Bear, Misery!, Life Right Now, Endless Midnight.

2/17: Soulfly, Bodybox, Skinflint, The Zombie Mafia, Hosticide.

2/23: Visions of Atlantis, The Spider Accomplice, Psychoprism, Everdawn.

2/24: Lord of Horns, Acid Angel, Court Order, Alex Wolf, Conquer At Will, Cruel Bomb.

2/25: Sponge, Tommy Scro, Corevalay, Caracella, Ryder.

2/26: Enuff Z’ Nuff, Corners of Sanctuary, Reality Suite, Altered Ego, Mainline.

Flemington DIY, Flemington

2/10: Haunt Dog, Gabba Ghoul, Please Think I’m Cool, Jamurai Sack.

2/12: Liam Bauman & Friends.

2/18: Pumpkin Witch, Nigh Infernal, Xuthal of the Dusk.

2/23: Cognitive Distortion, Defensive Wounds, Advanced Corpse Materials, Earth Rim Walker.

2/25: NJ VS Valhalla Fest

Crossroads, Garwood

2/9: Heavy Flow, Guesstimate, Mission Control, 10 Penny.

2/10 & 2/11: Brian Fallon.

2/15: Dan O, Jonathan Tea, Amanda Ayala, Morning Side Line, Jordan Siwek, Nick Rifken.

2/16: Oddly Casual, Quality Living, Emily Adams.

2/19: Sam Paige, Sofia, Santo Alejandro, Raising Arizona, Arckist.

2/23: Junior Waston, Dean Shot.

2/24: A Wilhelm Scream, Mercy Union, Taking Meds.

2/25: Brian Fallon.

White Eagle Hall, Jersey City

2/6: Angel Olsen & The Big Time Band, Erin Rae.

2/17-18: Screaming Females, Armand Hammer, Laura Stevenson, Nina Nastasia, Catbite, Truth Cult, GEL.

Jimmy’s Lounge, Kearny

2/19: August Killed October, Liminal, Trunk, Chemical-X, Poison IV, Molotov Muchacho.

2/20: Not One Truth, Hate Still Burns, Negative Force, Scrutinize, Deluzion.

2/26: Bad Planning, Sucker Punch, Thirsty Guys, Shrug Dealer.

Madison Community Arts Center

2/12: NJ Jazz Society January Show.

2/18: Fence, Moraine, Loon Lord, Nick O’Keefe.

The Wellmont Theater, Montclair

2/18: Flogging Molly, Anti-Flag, Skinny Lister.

2/19: Ali Sethi.

2/20: Destroy Lonely, Homixide Gang, Lil 88.

2/26: Elvis Costello & The Imposters.

Mayo PAC, Morristown

2/17: Keb’ Mo’, Anthony D’Amato.

2/24: Shawn Colvin, Marc Cohn, Sarah Jarosz.

NJPAC, Newark

2/5: Lake Street Dive, Monica Martin.

2/18: Gregory Porter.

Cinco De Mayo, New Brunswick

2/22: Dusters, Freezeheads, Youth Crusher, Dry Cough, Boiling Point.

State Theater, New Brunswick

2/10: Boys II Men

2/11: Deep Purple.

2/17: Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine.

2/18: Raheem DeVaughn, Vivian Green.

2/25: Gilberto Santa Rosa.

Newton Theatre, Newton

2/11: Sister Hazel

2/26: Sara Evans

2/27: The Winery Dogs

Shawn’s Crazy Saloon, North Arlington

2/19: Reaching Out, Fools Game, Bayway, Killing Me, Deal With God, Curate.

Princeton Folk Music Society

2/17: Moira Smiley.

Starland Ballroom, Sayreville

2/11: Parkway Drive, Memphis May Fire, Currents.

2/18: TKA/K7, Rob Base, Cover Girls, Sweet Sensation, Soave.

2/23: The Winery Dogs.

2/24: KIX, Wild Planes, The Bellas.

2/28: Theory of a Deadman, Saint Asonia.

Stanhope House, Stanhope

2/4: Oddly Casual, Wall Carpets, South Study Special Aide, Tall Oaks.

South Orange PAC, South Orange

2/5: Mark Gross Quartet.

2/11: Cliff Eberhardt, John Gorka, Lucy Kaplansky and Patty Larkin.

2/24: The Johnny Charles Band.

2/25: Jack Tracy.

Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck

2/10: Pietasters, Hub City Stompers, Disposable, The Skels.

2/11: Silvertung, Pop Alma, From The Concrete, Samsara.

2/23: Magg Dylan, Who On Earth.

Millhill Basement, Trenton

2/16: Off With Their Heads.

2/24: Selfgod, Goat Piss, Putrascension.


To include your events in future calendars, send an email to editor@njindy.com with details.


Feb. 2-6, Centenary Stage Company, Hackettstown

Considered one of Shakespeare’s darkest and most powerful works. Set in Scotland, the play explores the corrosive psychological and political effects produced when evil ambition is chosen as a means to gain power.


Feb. 3-19, George Street Playhouse, New Brunswick

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage brings her lightning-charged comedy Clyde’s to the stage. Centering around the formerly incarcerated kitchen staff at a truck stop sandwich shop, Clyde’s is a story about living with and through your mistakes.

Atlantic City Wing Fest

Feb. 4, Golden Nugget, Atlantic City

Between 15 and 20 South Jersey spots known for their amazing wings will compete for best

Maple Sugaring

Feb 18-19, 25-26, The New Weis Center for Education, Arts & Recreation, Ringwood

This 90-minute program explores the process, history and ecology of maple sap and syrup. You’ll take a short hike to learn about winter tree ID, sap ecology and tree biology, and visit the center’s tapped trees, where you’ll learn how to tap, collect and taste the sap, then see how the evaporator works. Finish with a blind syrup taste test in the covered pavilion, and then buy some to bring home.

wing bragging rights at Atlantic City Wing Fest. The all-you-can-eat wing festival will allow you to go around to all of the wing places until you decide—by vote—which wing is your favorite. There will also be some professionals to judge blindly, as well.

Delaware River Loop Running Series

Feb. 4, Bull’s Island, Stockton

An 18.9-mile running loop that starts and finishes at Bull’s Island Recreation Area in Stockton organized by the Uptown Gentlefriends.

Old Dutch New Year “Candlemas”

Winter Walk

Feb. 4, Wallace House & Old Dutch Parsonage State Historic Sites, Somerville

Walk along Somerville’s Peters Brook Greenway and Main Street with brief stops for historical storytelling. You’ll revisit the spot of George Washington’s passage through the area in early January 1777 and return for a brief festive open house at Old Dutch Parsonage as the winter sun sets. This walk is rescheduled from New Year’s Day.

Morristown Onesie Bar Crawl

Feb. 4, Horseshoe Tavern, Morristown

Get your favorite onesie ready. Volo Sports is hosting its fourth annual Onesie Bar Crawl from 2:30-8:30 p.m. Enjoy drink specials at each bar and lots of giveaways all day.

Nature-Infused Yoga

Feb. 4, 11 and 25, NJ Audubon’s Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

Yoga is a great way to relax, connect with yourself, and increase flexibility and strength—as we’re sure you know. Explore the connections between yoga and nature in this 75-minute class led by yoga teacher Kristin Mylecraine. Buy tickets in advance.

Ice Bumper Cars

Feb. 4-26, Van Saun County Park, Paramus

Ice bumper cars are a new exciting way to get out on the ice at Winter Wonderland. Each session is 15 minutes long. Arrive early for a safety briefing and tutorial.


‘The Wild Party’

Feb 9-26, Eagle Theatre, Hammonton

Two explosive lovers, Queenie and Burrs are throwing a party-to-end-all-parties… and you’re invited! It’s Manhattan in the 1920s, and when these two vaudeville performers invite a vivacious group of guests—things are bound to get steamy. As the drinks flow throughout the evening, Burrs grows jealous of Queenie’s latest attraction, Mr. Black, and things turn violent. But who will be there to clean up the mess when the party’s over?

‘Sweeney Todd’

Feb. 10-19, Levoy Theatre, Millville

Sweeney Todd, an unjustly exiled barber, returns to 19th-century London, seeking vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife. The road to revenge leads Todd to Mrs. Lovett, a resourceful proprietress of a failing pie shop, above which he opens a new barber practice. Mrs. Lovett’s luck sharply shifts when Todd’s thirst for blood inspires the integration of an ingredient into her meat pies that has the people of London lining up… and the carnage has only just begun!

‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’

Feb. 10-26, South Camden Theatre’s Waterfront South Theatre, Camden

Casey’s a young Elvis Presley impersonator who’s barely making a living when he suddenly finds a path to prosperity by becoming a lip-syncing drag queen. Casey’s young and broke, his landlord’s knocking at the door, and he’s just found out his wife is pregnant. To make matters more desperate, Casey is fired from his gig as an Elvis impersonator at Cleo’s, a rundown Florida bar. The bar owner decides to bring in a B-level drag show to replace his act when Casey finds that he has much to learn about show business—and himself.

Cirque Zuma Zuma

Feb. 11, MAYO PAC, Morristown

Head to the museum to... drink? Brewsology brings its unique beer-at-the-museum concept to the Liberty Science Center, where you can taste over 150 beers and ciders from local and domestic producers.

Galentine’s Night

Feb. 10, Tomasello Winery & Banquet Hall, Hammonton

Get yo’ girlfriends together for dancing, shopping, wine-drinking and more, including a gourmet pasta bar prepared by Tomasello’s on-site executive chef.

The Art of the Potter’s Wheel

Feb. 10, Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton

Award-winning ceramicist and ACP Executive Director Adam Welch will introduce you to the basics of throwing on the potter’s wheel. Watch a quick, detailed demo on the wheel—then it’s your turn. You throw, choose your glaze, and they take care of the rest. Your finished piece will be ready for pick-up in a few weeks.

As seen on America’s Got Talent!, this African-style Cirque du Soleil pushes the envelope of human possibility with astonishing and unbelievable human feats of balance, agility and flexibility, all set to African music, drumming and dance. Cirque Zuma Zuma is an exuberant and highly entertaining showcase of the African culture for people young and old.

Doktor Kaboom and the Wheel of Science

Feb. 11, Grunin Center for the Arts, Toms River

Doktor Kaboom’s wheel of science is loaded with science demonstrations from optical illusions to chemical reactions to a homemade hovercraft. Who knows what the wheel’ll land on and what audiences at any one show will experience?

‘Violencetines Day’

Feb. 11, Rahway Rec Center, Rahway

WrestlePro presents “Violencetines Day,” a wrestling spectacle with tag team, men’s and women’s events.

Wine and Truffle Pairing

Feb. 11, Tomasello Winery, Hammonton

Spend the afternoon with your special someone enjoying four sweet truffle pairings, lunch and Tomasello’s “intoxicating” love potion wines. Indulge in gourmet chocolate truffles and award-winning wines for just $25.

Alpaca Visit

Feb. 11 and 20, Morning Glori Farmette, Evesham Township

Only on select days does Morning Glori Farmette open for group tours and walks with their lovable, fluffy alpacas. Spend time with these creatures, then Build a Bailey’s (stuffable alpacas) and other crafts will be available.

Wine & Chocolate Wine Trail Weekend

Feb. 11-12, Terhune Orchards, Princeton

For this weekend, Terhune is offering a special wine and chocolate pairing of locally made chocolates and Terhune wines. Chocolate pairing includes wine flight, chocolates and a souvenir glass. They have partnered with Pierre’s Chocolates of New Hope, PA, known for their old-world recipes and single-origin artisan chocolates. Enjoy chocolate baked goods homemade from Terhune’s own bakery as well.

Jazz on Valentine’s Day

Feb. 14, The Parlor at Hailey’s, Metuchen

All are welcome to this special Valentine’s Day jazz night. The Anderson Brothers Quartet—Peter and Will Anderson are virtuosos on clarinet and saxophone—will perform from the Great American Songbook and more in the Speakeasy atmosphere of the Parlor at Hailey’s. Chris Haney on bass and Adam Moezinia on guitar round out the quartet. Tickets are $25 with a $20 food/drink minimum. Jazz night is organized by the Friends of Metuchen Arts/ Metuchen Jazz.

Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine

Feb. 16, MAYO PAC, Morristown

The National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine was established in Lviv in 1902, a city known as one of the great cultural centers of eastern Europe, where music has always occupied the center and spirit of its existence. The program includes Yevhen Stankovych Chamber Symphony No. 3 for Flute and String Orchestra; Grieg Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16; and Beethoven Symphony No. 7 in A major, Op. 92.

Jersey City Brewsology Liberty Science Center, Jersey City

Feb. 17-March 5, Sitnik Theatre, Lackland PAC, Hackettstown

A lively staging of this black comedy at Lackland PAC. A sweet little old lady, alone in her house, is pitted against a gang of criminal misfits who will stop at nothing.

Princeton Loop Tour

Feb.18, Princeton Station, Princeton

A scenic winter tour of campus, cemetery, battlefield and town, with a little history mixed in. A casual walk giving full treatment to Princeton’s offerings, on and off campus. You will visit the site where Washington cemented his gains after crossing the Delaware and assured the Revolution of survival.

Fairy Dwelling Workshop

Feb. 18, Well-Sweep Herb Farm, Port Murray

Using a basket or driftwood, you’ll make a charming miniature fairy scene from moss, twigs, bark, and other unusual items. A popular and fun class, you’ll use a woodland type basket or driftwood to create a charming miniature fairy scene. Choose a fairy, then build a dwelling place using moss, twigs, bark, woodland creatures and other unusual items.

Stoutfest 2023

Feb. 18, Czig Meister Brewing, Hackettstown

Czig Meister’ll be tapping over 50 varieties of stouts throughout the day, and it’s an event you’re not gonna want to miss. Check out Czig Meister’s socials for more info.

Immersive Yoga

Feb. 18, Newark Museum of Art, Newark

A yoga experience unlike any other! Taking place in the Museum’s Lost World: The Audubon Immersive Experience, find your calm while surrounded by different environments, tranquil sounds of nature, and birds that come to life.

Paint Like Bob Ross Workshop

Feb. 18, Propagate Studio, Stewartsville

Come out for a relaxing night of painting with a certified Bob Ross painting instructor. No painting experience required; it really is as easy as Bob makes it look. Class runs about three hours and you’ll take home your own 16-by-20inch canvas painting that you painted.

Kente Ball and Art Auction

Feb. 18, Akwaaba Gallery, Newark

Dress like royalty and enjoy the culture, music, food, libation and Akwaaba Gallery hospitality. Heavy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. Music by DJ @marcydepina.

Deep River: A Musical Tribute to the Negro Spiritual

Feb. 18, Burlington Friends Quaker Meeting House, Burlington

This will be an uplifting soulful expression of the tragedies and triumphs of Black history. With roots steeped in African and religious traditions, it was through songs that the enslaved expressed feelings of sorrow, joy, inspiration and hope. This beautiful musical expression evolved into what is known as negro spirituals. Audiences will be especially moved as they hear and experience the exquisitely harmonious voices of the Essence of Harmony Choral Society in the historic 1783 Burlington Quaker Meeting House.

Mac and Cheese Mayhem

Feb. 18, Morristown Armory, Morristown

Experience gourmet, chef-inspired twists on your childhood favorite. Local chefs and restaurants are cooking up variations of mac & cheese while competing for the best mac in town.

Mardi Gras All-You-Can-Eat Buffet

Feb. 18, The Showboat Hotel, Atlantic City

New Orleans-inspired all-you-can-eat Cajun and seafood specialties, including Bourbon chicken, pepper steak, jambalaya, U-peel shrimp, crab legs and more.

Mozzarella from Scratch

Feb. 19 and 25, Cherry Grove Farm

Learn the basics of using rennet to turn milk into cheese in a mozzarella-making demonstration. You’ll learn to stretch a sweet, tender curd into your own fresh mozzarella balls, and wrap up class with a cheese-tasting and comparison between your farmstead fresh mozzarella and cave-aged Cherry Grove Farm cheeses. Depart with some fresh mozzarella and a class folder full of cheesemaking information and recipes to use at home.

‘The Ladykillers’
‘Ray on My Mind’ MAYO PAC, Morristown
19 Cpourtesy of MPAC
Enjoy a high-energy celebration of the music and life of Ray Charles as performed by Kenny Brawner. Ray on My Mind includes his most popular hits such as ‘What’d I Say,” “I Got a Woman” and “Georgia on My Mind,” interwoven with stories of his life, his many musical styles and more.

Sushi-Rolling Class

Feb. 21 and 28, Saku Hoboken, Hoboken

You will work with Saku head chef Sensai Eddie and learn to make three different types of sushi rolls. The rolls consist of a California roll, salmon avocado roll with the seaweed on the outside, and a spicy tuna hand roll.

Day-long Yoga Retreat

Feb. 25, Yoga Barn NJ, Howell Township

Begin the day with Vegan breakfast treats and a meet-and-greet with fellow participants, the resident rescue animals as well as your guide, Melanie Kramer. You will then transition into a gentle vinyasa yoga practice located in an early 1900s historic barn. Then, journaling, lunch, aromatherapy, sound healing and more.

Beginner Beekeeper’s Class

Feb. 25, Martinsville Community Center, Bridgewater

event with an art exhibit, massages, gourmet fare, live music, gift auction, fragrant soaps and candles, plus live music by Chuck Lambert, Sean Tobin, Izzy Miz, Kevin Daly and Pam McCoy.

Fishing the Meadowlands Striped Bass

Feb. 26, Tight Lines Fly Fishing, Parsippany

Grand Homes & Gardens Speaker Series

Feb. 22, Morven Museum & Garden, Princeton

Explore Manitoga, Russel and Mary Wright’s 1960s home in Garrison, New York, which stands alone as an iconic and idiosyncratic example of eco-sensitive modernist architecture.

Savor the sights, sounds and rhythms of a Brazilian Carnival celebration. DJ Ligia spins carnival favorites and Manhattan Samba School performs. Shop local vendors, meet the hostess, Edmara The Baiana, and create your own masquerade mask.

Montclair Film’s StorySLAM Series: Learning Love

Feb. 23, Cinema505, Montclair

Each participant will have five minutes to relay their unique version of the theme. After presenting to a supportive audience, a team of judges will evaluate and score each story. This month’s theme is “Learning Love”: Cupid can be stupid, but every now and again really hits the mark. But love is a choice, a practice and a learned skill.

Power Bottom: The Best Damn Comedy Show in Asbury Park!

Feb. 23, Capitoline, Asbury Park

The best and brightest stand-up comedians on the East Coast! Plus giveaways for BBQ and cash.

New Jersey VS Valhalla Fest

Feb. 25, Flemington DIY, Flemington

A dozen bands plus vendors like Cats Luck Vegan Bakery, Cozz Coffee, Party Sized Cycling, and more.

Basic Beekeeping is a complete three-day course in beekeeping to be held on two full classroom days with one day mandatory field time. It is offered by the Raritan Valley Beekeepers Association, and provides you all the knowhow to start your beekeeping journey.

Good Trouble: Resistance at the Jersey Shore

Feb. 25, Michael T. Lake PAC, Neptune City

Join in on Neptune City’s annual Black History Month celebration and hear from engaging speakers and listen to live music.

Cask Fest 2023

Feb. 25, River Horse Brewing, Ewing

River Horse will be tapping over 20 specialty casks—you’ll find some traditional favorites, but also many new creations. Think: Tripel Horse with lime and ginger, Ear Wiggler with Fun Dip, and Pizza Pilsner.

The Best of John Williams with New Jersey Symphony

Feb. 25, State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick

Relive the magic themes of Harry Potter, Jaws, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and more. Hearing Williams’ music performed live is a true symphonic treat. Invite your family and friends for an awesome concert experience.

Come to Your Senses

Feb. 26, Thompson Park, Lincroft

Special People United to Ride (SPUR) and Musicians on a Mission bring together this

Captain Zach Flake is a tournament angler, engineer and saltwater guide. Through his years of experience on the water, Zach has quickly become a successful and popular guide who fishes the NYC/Raritan area, frequenting the Meadowlands backwaters. Join Zach as he presents on area fishing, flies, strategies and techniques to successfully fish this fascinating backwater, that for many of us, is so close to home.

‘Butterfly Effect’ Film Premiere

Feb. 26, Cranford Theater, Cranford

Come out and support the Local Losers’ second short film! This is a psychological thriller that you won’t forget.

420 Canna Fest

Feb. 26, Sheraton Edison, Edison

Stop by for celebrity meet-and-greets, industry networking, live music, entertainment and an on-site consumption area.


March 3-5, New Brunswick PAC, New Brunswick

The tragic ballet tale unfolds against the ghostly backdrop of a Rhineland forest haunted by the fearful presence of the “Wilis”—vengeful spirits of abandoned brides. The beautiful peasant girl, Giselle, falls for Albrecht who conceals his identity to win her. The discovery of her lover’s deception shatters Giselle’s innocence and causes her to die of a broken heart. Albrecht is thrown into the hands of the merciless Wilis, but Giselle cannot bear to watch him die and returns as a ghost to save him.

Heart of Oneness Holistic Expo

March 3-5, NJ Convention and Exposition Center, Edison

This event promises a weekend of healing, upliftment and transformation with over 140 unique metaphysical practitioners, empowering thought leaders, life coaches and organizations. Explore crystals, Reiki, aura photography, meditation, organic skin care, visionary artwork, essential oils, psychic readings, angelic inspirations, sound healing, henna tattoo, oracle cards, mindset coaching and more.

Community Night: Brazilian Carnival Newark Museum of Art, Newark



What is the etiquette for running into people you’ve hooked up with? My partner and I, both males, practice ENM, so long as he doesn’t know who I hook up with and I always play safe. I was recently on my own at a store and saw a guy I hooked up with. I would’ve said hi/acknowledged him, but he was with another guy, so I actively avoided eye contact since I didn’t know if they were together. But we definitely saw each other just not at the same time. I want to be ready for when this happens again either when I’m alone or with my partner.

Fucking questions, sucking questions, cock-locking questions—I feel qualified to answer those on my own. But etiquette questions? Those are outside my areas of expertise, RIGID. So, I shared your letter with Daniel Post Senning, great-great grandson of Emily Post and co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette: 19th Edition

“Etiquette says we acknowledge people we know with our eyes, a wave, a nod, and a polite ‘How’s it going?’ when we meet in passing,” said Senning. “So long as the other person understands the limits of your romantic connection, there’s no reason for the encounter to be awkward.”

Since you weren’t with your partner, RIGID, you were free to acknowledge your hookup without your partner both noticing and knowing. But let’s say you were with your partner. What then?

“In a small world where we might be managing multiple relationships where the parties would rather not interact or know about each other, it’s a good idea to make explicitly sure everybody knows that fact,” said Senning, “and everyone knows that might mean walking past each other in public or otherwise limiting interactions.”

In other words, RIGID, what you know about your partner—he would rather not know about your hookups—your hookups need to know too. It’s a small world and the gay world is even smaller; even if you were to stick to horny tourists and business travelers, your chances of running into a hookup when you’re out with your partner are high. So, you should say something like this to your hookups as you’re showing them to the door: “Hey, that was great. Look, if we run into each other and I’m with my partner, I might not be able to say hi. We’re open but we’re doing the ‘don’t ask/don’t tell’ thing, and saying hello to a hot guy like you is a

tell. My apologies in advance.”

Now, in the example you mentioned, RIGID, you were alone, but your hookup was with someone else, and you opted to pretend not to see him. Was that the right thing to do, etiquette-wise?

“Thinking about how you manage these moments with consideration for all involved is the right way to think these things through,” said Senning. “RIGID was right to consider the possibility the guy he saw might not want a past hookup to say ‘hello’ or otherwise engage when he was with someone else.”

While I agree with Senning—and defer to him on all matters of etiquette—I think gay men should err on the side of acknowledging the existence of men whose asses we’ve recently eaten, whenever possible. Ignoring someone we’ve fucked is cold and it can leave that person wondering what they may have done wrong. So, a quick smile and a nod. If the guy he’s with notices—or if the guy you’re with notices—telling a small lie to spare someone’s feelings is a courtesy that etiquette allows. Some suggestions: “We used to work together,” “He goes to my gym,” “That’s George Santos.”

Daniel Post Senning co-authored Emily Post’s Etiquette: 19th Edition with Lizzie Post, also a greatgreat grandchild of Emily Post. Together they co-host the podcast Awesome Etiquette.

I’m a 31-year-old straight male from Denver with a general question about finding dates. I’m 6’ 2”, in shape, have sought therapy, and I have a six-figure salary—and I can’t get a date to save my life. I primarily use Hinge to find people, and I work from home and have a friend group that isn’t big on going out to events and such. What general advice do you have for people who are looking, and just aren’t having any success? Seems like so many people are going on regular dates, finding relationships, etc., and frankly I’m just struggling to figure out how they’re all doing it.

—Love Eludes Dude

Whatever else you do—this is so important—don’t succumb to bitterness, as bitterness will make you radioactive to any woman you might manage you should wind on a date with.

Additionally, LED, you should ask your therapist to level with you about what you might be doing wrong. Do you behave in ways that make women feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or uninterested? If your therapist isn’t comfortable telling you what you should or shouldn’t do, then ask them to work with you on identifying the interpersonal skills you might need to work on. Also, seeing as what you’re doing now isn’t working—lurking on Hinge, staying at home— try something else. Get on some other dating apps, LED, and get out of the house more. You don’t have to ditch the friends you already have, but you do need to make additional friends, e.g., meet some people who like going places, seeing things, and doing shit. The best way to meet those people, LED, is to go places, see things, and do shit on your own. Volunteer somewhere, join some clubs, find an adult sports league. These aren’t exactly blazing new insights on my part; with the exception of dating apps, I could’ve lifted this advice from a 60-year-old Ann Landers column. But everything I’m telling you has been the standard, go-to advice for guys in your shoes for decades because it works.

Please note: Following this advice does not guarantee romantic success. But the more shit you’re out there doing and the more people you’re getting to know while you’re out there doing shit—the more you enjoy life—the less miserable you’ll feel. And the less miserable a single person is, LED, the more attractive he becomes to potential romantic partners.

Send your question to mailbox@savage.love Podcasts, columns and more at Savage.Love



The Poppin Pastrami Sandwich

@ Oldwick General Store in Oldwick

The Poppin Pastrami Sandwich: “House-cured and -smoked brisket, Swiss cheese, NYSO sauce.” Do we always want to spend $15 on a quick lunch? Nope. Did we feel like we got this sandwich at a bargain price? Yup. This thing is just really, really tasty: juicy, thick cuts of some of the most savory brisket you’ll find this far from the city, complemented by the tang of the NYSO sauce… we can’t stop thinking about it.

Lamb Curry @ Annapurna Curry and Grill in Hillsborough

We stopped in for lamb curry and naan recently, and just had the best damn time. The curry (we got it spicy) is pure comfort food—tender chunks of lamb, crispy onions and robust spice intermingle and create an almost intoxicatingly good bite of food.

And not for nothing, this is probably the best naan we’ve ever eaten—and we’ve eaten a lot of naan.

Charred and crispy on the outside, chewy and buttery on the inside, it’s the perfect vessel to scoop up the curry. Even the rice—long-grain, floral and crispy—is perfect.

Carnitas Tacos @ Franco’s Cafe & Restaurant in Palmyra

This is not meant to be a knock, but you probably need a reason to visit Palmyra; it’s tucked away on the river north of Camden, 15 minutes west of 295, and the bridge from to/from PA only takes cash! Anyway, Franco’s is a reason to go; it’s home to some of the best Mexican cooking in South Jersey. We went basic with some carnitas tacos on a recent visit—they’re worth an order—but the menu includes a shockingly large variety of burritos, tostadas, chilaquiles and enchiladas. (And, not for nothing, the bowl of beans was dynamic—nutty, chocolaty, spicy.

Vegan ‘Two-Stripe Life Pizza’ @ Parmagianni Pizza (pop-up restaurant)

We’ve had mixed results with vegan pizza in the past: some bad, some forgettable, and then there have been a few tasty iterations that were viable alternatives to the non-vegan options. To be honest, though, while it may have been good, the vegan stuff always failed to rival our favorite traditional pies—that is, until we tried Parmagianni Pizza at their most recent pop-up hosted at Cats Luck Vegan in Neptune, NJ. Parmagianni does Detroit-style pizza—rectangular, thick crust, resembles the Sicilian style that should be familiar to most New Jerseyans, although the taste is markedly different—and to date it’s the best Detroit style we’ve had, vegan or otherwise. Two-stripe life: NUMU Mozzarella, housemade pizza sauce, whole leaf basil, grated Violife Parmesan. Two broad rows of savory sauce adorned with fresh basil give the pie a unique look and provide the inspiration for its name—“two-stripe.”

Where this pizza really separates itself from the other Detroit-style and vegan pies we’ve had in the past is the crust: “The “twice-baked” process starts by baking each dough for 10 minutes and then removing it from the oven to cool. Toppings are added and the pan is put back in the oven for 10 minutes to ensure a perfect crunchy bottom crust with a soft, pillowy body.” Key words — “crunchy” and “pillowy.”

“Two-Stripe Life” is Parmagianni’s plain, “OG” offering, but they also develop a new special pie for each pop-up event. Pro-tip: pre-order one of each. Follow Parmagianni pizza on Instagram for updates/information regarding their next pop-up event.



Dixie Grace puts a Jersey spin on the boiled peanut

Almost daily, Dixie Grace sees people transform when they taste her boiled peanuts, which she makes out of a small kitchen at Belleville Bites, a co-op restaurant just north of Newark. First there’s the skepticism (“A boiled what?”), then curiosity (“OK, I’ll try”), then confusion (“How do I eat this?”), then a re-centering as they take a bite (“Alright, alright”), then, typically, amazement (“This tastes incredible.”)

The boiled peanut. If you’ve been down South, you’ve seen roadside stands or trucks set up in parking lots. You might’ve tasted them and, if you’re like me, were unimpressed with a wet, hot, mushy mess of a nut.

That’s not what Grace makes. She takes a high-quality peanut (from an American farmer whose name she keeps close to the vest), puts them through a multi-step process refined by her 20 years as an engineer, then serves them with a variety of house-made spice blends that amplify the experience. You can get them (and spice blends and boiled peanut hummus) at the Jersey City Farmers Market or via takeout or delivery at Belleville Bites.

Though boiled peanuts are a global snack, it’s fair to say they haven’t quite caught on in the Northeast. For Grace, who typically sees lines outside her market stands, that’s an opportunity—to bring a nutritious, gluten-free, vegan snack to a region that’s not familiar with all it can be. Acquainting New Jerseyans with the boiled peanut, though, is now routine for Grace.

“Most folks north of the Mason-Dixon Line have never tried a boiled peanut,” she says. “They don’t even understand. They’re reading the words and it’s not registering. They just don’t understand because we’re so used to dry roasted, that’s all we know, right? ‘Come on over, child.’ ‘I don’t like peanuts.’ ‘It doesn’t taste like a peanut. Come on over. Just come.’ Then they’ll try. And it’s not really even a hard sell to be honest with you, because I’m giving

out samples. But so they come, they taste it and they’re like, ‘What? It looks like a peanut, but it doesn’t taste like it,’ and it’s all in shock. Then they say, ‘I’ll take a thing, give me something.’ I’m like, I have a 97% conversion rate. The moment they taste, they’re like, ‘I’ve never had this before.’ They put it in their mouth and I can almost time it when they’re experiencing the layer. You can literally almost time the reaction by the time it hits them. And then they start and it’s one after the next one, after the next one, and they can’t even believe.”

Grace was once one of the many northerners unenlightened to the boiled peanut. But on a trip to visit her sister in South Carolina, she pulled over at a boiled peanut stand and gave them a go. They were delicious, and not seeing any available upon her return to NJ, recognized an opportunity.

Thing is, Grace had been a successful planning engineer for two decades, taking jobs from Seattle to work on the Dreamliner 787 for Boeing to Qatar, where she worked on the infrastructure for the World Cup, and many places in between. But that life seemed to run its course, Grace says.

“I was happy until I wasn’t happy any-

more. And it was kind of one of those periods of, well, lord, what do you want me to do now? What am I gonna do now? And having my own, my mom always told me, always make sure you have your own.”

So she thought why not peanuts? It all came together so quickly, Grace recalls—an encounter with a friend who was working on starting a commissary kitchen, the words almost escaping her mouth, “You think I could boil peanuts in there?” having never boiled peanuts before, the shipment of 1,200 pounds of raw peanuts, trademarking her name, researching how to boil peanuts, testing out recipes, etc.

Though the business formed quickly, Grace took her time refining the method.

“When I decided to do this, I had to do my research because it is not just boiling a peanut, right? People say, ‘Oh, you put it in the pot and you go on about your day.’ That’s not true because there’s a process to it. There’s the washing of it, there’s the soaking of it, there’s the brining of it, there’s the cooking. And when I tell you I researched, I watched every video from people from Louisiana to Tennessee to everybody that boiled a peanut.


“I [watched] every YouTube video I could because it’s not a natural thing for me. I honestly don’t even like peanuts. Like, I would never go to the store and buy a bag of peanuts. So when I started doing my research, then I started figuring out, well, that old timer guy has been boiling peanuts for 70 years. How does he do it? Versus, I’m an engineer, right? So I’m trying to solve the problem, and I pulled a little bit from everybody all over the country. And I came up with this technique. It’s consistent, it’s layered. And I can store it for three months in the freezer or on the shelf for 10 days.”

Grace boils peanuts in three varieties: traditional salted, hot and spicy, and brown sugar. You can just pop it in your mouth, shell and all, for a little crunch; or you can teeth ‘em out, like edamame, sucking the shell of its seasonings. Those seasonings include honey garlic, everything bagel, Indian curry and more, or you can add hot honey for a savory, velvety and spicy bite. Her following at the Jersey City market has led to the creation of the off-menu JC seasoning: Hot Indian curry, everything bagel seasoning, honey garlic, cowboy rustic and garlic.

It’s a flavor bomb, for sure, but the JC mix isn’t overwhelming; you taste the curry and garlic foremost and the background seasonings sort of meld together to create an interesting, vibrant sensation. I couldn’t stop eating these, personally, but dipping into batches from other seasonings displays how variable the experience can be with this humble nut.

“And so what happens is that the topper changes the mouthfeel, it changes the texture, it changes the experience because now you’re able to pull the flavor out of the bean. You can add honey garlic, and it’s completely different in the first bite that you took with another flavor.”

It might take a nut or two to get used to the consistency; not because it’s off-putting, but because many of us are used to crunchy peanuts. It’s akin to a chickpea, but with a lot more flavor. That similarity inspired Grace to make hummus out of leftover peanuts. The hummus—available in pink salted, everything bagel, and hot and spicy flavors—is a triumph; it’s lighter than traditional hummus and, as with the whole nut, takes to the added flavors exceptionally well.

By selling the whole peanut and using extras for hummus, there’s very little waste in Grace’s operation—in fact, the brine used to boil the peanuts can be used as a natural fertilizer. Combined with the fact that boiled peanuts are good for you, it’s kind of slam-dunk product, and though she just opened last year, she’s already thinking about how to franchise

out to other entrepreneurs. Grace says she also opens the door and recites her elevator pitch for Shark Tank to her dog when she comes home, and to be honest, this is the kind of business, and Grace is the exact kind of entrepreneur, you see on that show.

In short, the idea for boiling peanuts may have come together quickly, but Grace’s vision for it is far-reaching. She’s optimistic, something of which she learned the value early in life.

“I’m the daughter of a single parent. My mom, we were homeless for the first 16 years of our life. It was really hard. My mom raised me literally by herself with no family. I didn’t have babysitters, nothing. We had no uncles, aunts, grandma, nobody helped her raise me at all. But we somehow made it through life. And no matter how hard it was, my mother’s a very positive person. And so she taught me at a very young age, she told me this one thing. She says you have to look at life like a sifter. We were probably like sleeping on a bus or something at the time. You take a sifter and you pour the flour through and you shake it and all the good flour falls to the bottom and all the crap stays at the top. She says throw the crap out and only deal with the good. And so that taught me kind of how to just find the good, find the God in everything. Like, find the goodness in it. There’s something there when you start to look at life like it’s not punishment, but what am I supposed to be learning from this experience that I can take with me and move on?”

Grace hopes to share the optimism with others through franchising (and getting her peanuts into movie theaters, stadiums and the like), but also has aspirations to find a way to

provide capital for other small startups—what could exist if only more people had funding to make their ideas into a reality, she opines.

“I had heard this word philanthropist when I was a little, little kid. And I saw what they did, like giving money away and Secret Santas. And immediately I said to myself, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a philanthropist,’ because I just naturally love to give things away. But to be able to give away a lot, you gotta have a lot, right? So I think in the back of my mind all the time, I’m like, what can I do that will get me the money that I need so that I can give it away,” Grace says.

The thing is, whatever success Grace has from her North Jersey outpost, whatever Dixie Grace’s Boiled Peanut Co. turns into, it’s likely not because of the peanuts. I mean, the peanuts are great and that’s what people will buy, but listening to Grace speak earnestly and colorfully about her mission in entrepreneurship and how people react to the product she’s selling, it’s clear there’s something more going on here.

“The boiled peanut has such a legacy to it and it’s beautiful because you get people in there from India that are like, my grandmother makes these, I’m like, are you serious with this? How are you that touched? And then they would bring their mothers in there, like, when they come to visit, and they come and they taste them and it would just warm my heart to see so many people enjoying a product that they either grew up on or were newly discovering.”

To taste Dixie Grace Boiled Peanuts, order from Belleville Bites at bellevillebites.com.

Beer tour: Tindall Road Brewing in Bordentown

As the Delaware River starts to widen as it gets near Trenton, so does the history that surrounds the towns on its banks. Maybe you took a field trip to Trenton or Philadelphia as a kid to learn about some nation-founding history, but there’s one town down that way that has a ton of history in its own right, but not nearly as many field trips: Bordentown.

A small city located on the Delaware River right outside of Trenton, it’s where Thomas Paine lived for a decade, and Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother, Thomas, called the square mile city home as well. Red Cross founder Clara Barton opened up the first free public school in the state in Bordentown. And in more recent times, one of the top skateboarders in America, Ishod Wair, hails from BTown.

All that history can be a lot to take in, and as Drunk History has taught us, talking about history or thinking about it can be

pretty fun over beers. That’s where Tindall Road Brewery located on Farnsworth Avenue in Bordentown comes into play.

Marci Warboys and her husband, Dan Pogorzelski, bought the brewery in 2017 when Common Sense Brewing closed in town. The couple bought the place, and made upgrades to the building and the brewing system. But more importantly the couple wanted to show their children, August and Izzy, that they can make history as well.

“I thought it would be really fun to start a business,” explains Warboys. “I wanted to show my kids that if you put your mind to something you can do anything. Our children love it, and I feel like we are continuing this for them even.”

The theme of family continues in all corners of the brewery, and Warboys and Pogorzelski want the brewery to feel like home. Over the years the regulars at the brewery have become family. The staff has as well, and Warboys isn’t shy to list all the professional and personal accomplishments of her staff.

Both Warboys and Pogorzelski are from the Trenton area, and the brewery is named after the road the couple lives on in nearby Robbinsville.

There are arcade games available to play, and there is a darts league that takes place every Thursday night. The Bordentown branch of the Burlington County Library system hosts a trivia night at the brewery.

“The business is a lot about community, and even more so about people,” says Warboys. “It’s not just beer, and you have to make sure everyone is happy and have a family type of environment.’’

The atmosphere that Tindall Road provides creates a good environment to drink a couple beers. Pogorzelski got really into craft beers when living in Southern California.

“Even early on when I started drinking, when I was 21, I didn’t like the traditional beers like Coors Light or Miller Lite,” explains Pogozelski. “I wanted to try something different so I tried Red Dog, and some of the more obscure beers. We lived in South -


ern California during the ’90s, when the IPA phase started to come about. I drank these IPAs and was like, ‘Wow,’ and we got exposed to different types of breweries around there.”

Pogozelski was so wowed by the IPAs that he took matters into his own hands, and started to homebrew. The way that he made his beer, though, shouldn’t be tried at home.

“I made my first couple batches on an electric stove,” recalls Pogozelski. “I don’t recommend it, and it took all fucking day. You have to bring six and a half gallons of liquid into a full rolling boil for an hour.’’

“It smelled awful,” says Warboys. Thankfully for the noses of the family, brewing beer on an electric stove isn’t an option anymore since Tindall Road exists, and they have stainless steel tanks to house the beer.

Even though the technology is better, Pogozelski still carries with him some of the lessons he learned from homebrewing and brought some of his flavors with him. Pogozelski combined espresso and chili peppers. The beer gives you a one-two punch in a way.

The espresso does its job as it’s supposed to and hits you immediately like it’s 1:00 a.m. during finals week and you need a jolt of caffeine. Then a couple seconds later, just as the espresso taste evaporates, you have a spicy aftertaste and you’re reminded that you ordered something with chili pepper. The espresso is provided by Turtle Beans Coffee Roasters right down Farnsworth in Bordentown.

“It was an idea I hatched when I was still brewing at home,” says Pogozelski. “It’s a deep rich stout with actual espresso, and it has four gallons of actual espresso in it from Turtle Beans. We get the peppers from the grocery store, and we condition it and throw it in the fermenter, and then we do a sec -

ondary fermentation, and then all the flavors come together. “

Another one of Pogozelski’s ideas came into fruition with the Dan’s Double IPA.

“Dan’s Double was my attempt at an angry and mean IPA,” explains Pogozelski. “It’s got six pounds of hops in the back, which is a lot since we have a three-barrel system. It has a complex malt schedule as well.’’ While pumpkin-flavored anything is sort of meme now, when done correctly the pumpkin flavor hits the spot, and you don’t have to be wearing flannel listening to Bon Iver or getting ready for Halloween to enjoy

closest breweries to Trenton. The other brewery is Bitchin Kitten in Morrisville. Even though you get some pretty dope beer at both places, the breweries are a different experience.

For one, you have a food menu at Bitchin Kitten, while across the Trenton Makes bridge plus a short trip on 195 to Bordentown, you have virtually no food menu at Tindall Road. I’m not complaining since you have some great food options in town such as Heart of Bordentown, Marcellos, HoopHouse, and Old Town Pub. But also it shows the limitations that breweries face in the Garden State.

It’s something that’s on the mind of Warboys as she hopes to do more business in Pennsylvania. Like other breweries across the state, Tindall Road has been affected by the regulations, and she admires what other breweries are doing to stand up for themselves, such as Death of a Fox in Gloucester County.

“Those regulations are made to keep the brewery business model from flourishing,” says Warboys. “It’s all about the competition for people who have bought liquor licenses. Yes I understand they spent a lot of money on licenses, but that is not our fault and it’s the fault of the state for using an antiquated method for liquor licenses.

the pumpkin flavor. It could be a cold January night and the Great Pumpkin Vanilla Chai hits the spot.

“The Pumpkin Vanilla Chai has a relatively high ABV, and it’s an amber ale that utilizes the pumpkin spice flavor,” says Pogozelski. “It also utilizes chai tea, and cold brew chai tea. The chai compliments the pumpkin spice really well.’’

For now, the brewery is looking forward to the future, and it’s also one of the

“This industry has been here since the ’80s and will still be here for a very long time. They aren’t doing this to Lyft or Uber. To regulate the size of our TVs and to say that we can’t advertise on social media is crazy.”

But all in all, despite the limitations set forth by Trenton, Tindall Road does flourish with its inviting atmosphere and unique beer. It’s worth the field trip to Bordentown to make up for all the Washington Crossing and Liberty Bell field trips.