NJ Indy Jan '23

Page 1

PLUS: Paddling the Passaic NEW JERSEY ALT MEDIA JANUARY 2023 FREE EVERY MONTH NJ anthologist collects queer reflections on horror moe. on three decades of jamming Leftist hardcore punks help refugees overseas



The year Bell Labs introduced the world to the video phone. Boy, times have changed. Read more about the NJ institution’s contributions to technology on page 20.


Two kayakers paddle 80 miles down the Passaic River, an infamously polluted Superfund site, and find natural beauty, humanity and reason for hope. Go along on the journey in a screening of American River Jan. 20 at NJPAC. We chatted with filmmaker Scott Morris about the process of making American River, and his hopes for the film, the Passaic and rivers like it across the country. Read it on page 17.

<<<All the superfluous shit that just sort of surrounds what you do just kind of melts away, and it’s really your friendship and playing music and doing what you love [that remains]. And you forget about all the stuff that doesn’t matter and that’s how it was for me. I got this creative burst and I wanted to write a bunch of stuff and do a bunch of things and get back to what I love. >>>

moe. bassist, vocalist and founding member Rob Derhak on how he turned to music after overcoming cancer, and how it mirrors the journey of bandmate Chuck Garvey who’s recovering from a stroke. Read more on page 13.

PLUS: Commentary (pg. 5), Leftist hardcore punks help refugees overseas (pg. 6), Concerts (pg. 15), Savage (pg. 26), Best bites in the state (pg. 27), Get outside (pg. 31)

NJ Indy is a collection of local writers and creators. Our writers live around the state, but the paper is headquartered in Stockton. Publisher is Matt Cortina. If you want to write for NJ Indy, email him at 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 third 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.

The Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company comes to NJPAC in January to celebrate the Lunar Year. Read about it and find other wintry events on page 22.

In a stunningly beautiful old bank building in the heart of Woodstown in Salem County, Mike Melnicuzuk and his wife, Rebecca, are slinging excellent beer at Farmers & Bankers Brewing. Read more about their unique take on craft brewing on page 28.

“I waited around for a while thinking someone had already come up with this idea, someone must be in the process of doing it,” says Joe Vallese, the NJ anthologist behind It Came from The Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror . Read more about the book and Vallese’s other projects on page 10.


Why trust high-tech billionaires to save humanity?

Here’s an interesting fact: Dinosaurs dominated Earth for 165 million years—and they assumed they always would.

Which brings us to... well, us. We bipedal, large-brained, far-ranging, Homo sapiens primates have certainly established our dominance over modern-day Mother Earth. And even though our reign has only lasted about 200,000 years, we 21st-century humans grandly assume that we’re ordained by the gods to rule ad infinitum over our planet (and beyond).

But—oops!—unfortunately, we’ve based our present preeminence on the unsustainable consumption of our domain, rather than on stewardship for the ages. Under the global misguidance of corporate, political, religious, academic and other Powers That Be, our large-brained species has ended up making an awful mess of the nest we inherited. Elite plunderers and profiteers have imposed an ethic of greed, narcissism, inequality and even inhumanity that is devouring everything from Earth’s climate to our basic human values of fairness and justice.

Leading this careless assault is a clique of arrogant and abusive high-tech gabillionaires who consider themselves geniuses because, well... they’re rich!

Consider Elon Musk, presently the richest of the world’s richest, who postures as an uber-brained deep thinker, social engineer and whirling corporate dervish. He presently runs not one, but three megacorps (Tesla, Twitter and

SpaceX) while also rewriting the rules of free speech, telling American’s how to vote and claiming he’ll save humanity from the ravages of Earth by colonizing Mars.

But wait: Strip away the hype, and Musk is just another self-serving plutocratic ravager and cartoonish robber baron whose “genius” lies in taking credit (and profit) from other people; demanding subsidies and special breaks from government; cheating workers and customers; and suing everyone for his failures.

What this country needs are highway signs on every interstate to caution the public about an extreme danger that lies ahead: “WARNING,” the signs would shout, “GENIUSES AT WORK!”

The danger comes from the clique of multibillionaire capitalists who are the self-proclaimed crypto-meta wunderkinds of high tech. They’ve decided that their class of high-wealth geniuses are the ones to save civilization.

Among these saviors are such “brilliant” corporatists as Musk, who’s on the verge of losing the $44 billion he stupidly paid for his egomaniacal takeover of Twitter—a colossal business blunder that, in a plutocratic panic, he turned into a public disaster by a bulk firing of half of Twitter’s employees.

Granted that civilization could use a good dose of smarts, given our acceleration of climate change, spread of inequality and reemergence of fascism. But Elon Musk?

Forget savior; his grandi-

ose self-serving scheme for “the future of our species” is, as usual, solely to glorify himself, his progeny and his self-styled class of Big Thinking rich people. Musk is a promoter of an elite cult of uberrich “pronatalists.” They smugly assert that their enormous wealth is derived from their enormous IQs, and therefore they must—get this—seize “control of human evolution.”

How? By each richie having a large herd of babies—each of which would be certified as a “genetically superior” human. Thus, they should rule society, since... well, their parents are rich! Musk and other techie money lords in this futuristic pro-natal movement actually see themselves as heroic for being willing to sacrifice their sperm and eggs for civilization by replicating themselves as much as possible.

Indeed, they’ve set a standard for each member to pop out eight to 14 babies (Musk already has 10 children by three different women). Each child is then raised in the cult’s elitist doctrine, requiring them to produce their own large litters of Little Elons. In just a few generations, they calculate that this mass breeding of elites will create enough rich geniuses to rule over society... and save civilization.

But who’ll save us from them? If billionaire humanoids like Elon really wanted to save us from extinction, they would do the honorable thing... by going first.

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.



The world could still, theoretically, meet its goal of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius, a level many scientists consider a dangerous threshold. Realistically, that’s unlikely to happen.

Part of the problem was evident at COP27, the UN climate conference in Egypt.

While nations’ climate negotiators were successfully fighting to “keep 1.5 alive” as the global goal in the official agreement, reached Nov. 20, some of their countries were negotiating new fossil fuel deals, driven in part by the global energy crisis. Any expansion of fossil fuels—the primary driver of climate change—makes keeping warming under 1.5 C (2.7 Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times much harder. Attempts at the climate talks to get all countries to agree to phase out coal, oil, natural gas and all fossil fuel subsidies failed. And countries have done little to strengthen their commitments to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the past year. There have been positive moves, including advances in technology, falling prices for renewable energy and countries committing to cut their methane emissions.

But all signs now point toward a scenario in which the world will overshoot the 1.5 C limit, likely by a large amount. The World Meteorological Organization estimates global temperatures have a 50-50 chance of reaching 1.5 C of warming, at least temporarily, in the next five years.

That doesn’t mean humanity can just give up.

Why 1.5 degrees?

During the last quarter of the 20th century, climate change due to human activities became an issue of survival for the future of life on the planet. Since at least the 1980s, scientific evidence for global warming has been increasingly firm, and scientists have established limits of global warming that cannot be exceeded to avoid moving from a

global climate crisis to a planetary-scale climate catastrophe.

There is consensus among climate scientists, myself included, that 1.5 C of global warming is a threshold beyond which humankind would dangerously interfere with the climate system. We know from the reconstruction of historical climate records that, over the past 12,000 years, life was able to thrive on Earth at a global annual average temperature of around 14 C (57 F). As one would expect from the behavior of a complex system, the temperatures varied, but they never warmed by more than about 1.5 C during this relatively stable climate regime.

Today, with the world 1.2 C warmer than pre-industrial times, people are already experiencing the effects of climate change in more locations, more forms and at higher frequencies and amplitudes.

Climate model projections clearly show that warming beyond 1.5 C will dramatically increase the risk of extreme weather events, more frequent wildfires with higher intensity, sea level rise, and changes in flood and drought patterns with implications for food systems collapse, among other adverse impacts. And there can be abrupt transitions, the impacts of which will result in major challenges on local to global scales.

Steep reductions and negative emissions

Meeting the 1.5 goal at this point will require steep reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, but that alone isn’t enough. It will also require “negative emissions” to reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide that human activities have already put into the atmosphere.

Carbon dioxide lingers in the atmosphere for decades to centuries, so just stopping emissions doesn’t stop its warming effect. Technology exists that can pull carbon dioxide out of the air and lock it away. It’s still only operating at a very small scale, but corporate agreements like Microsoft’s 10-year commitment to pay for carbon removed could help scale it up.

A report in 2018 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined that meet-

ing the 1.5 C goal would require cutting carbon dioxide emissions by 50% globally by 2030—plus significant negative emissions from both technology and natural sources by 2050 up to about half of present-day emissions.

Can we still hold warming to 1.5 C?

Since the Paris climate agreement was signed in 2015, countries have made some progress in their pledges to reduce emissions, but at a pace that is way too slow to keep warming below 1.5 C. Carbon dioxide emissions are still rising, as are carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere.

A recent report by the United Nations Environment Program highlights the shortfalls. The world is on track to produce 58 gigatons of carbon dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions in 2030—more than twice where it should be for the path to 1.5 C. The result would be an average global temperature increase of 2.7 C (4.9 F) in this century, nearly double the 1.5 C target.

Given the gap between countries’ actual commitments and the emissions cuts required to keep temperatures to 1.5 C, it appears practically impossible to stay within the 1.5 C goal.

Global emissions aren’t close to plateauing, and with the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere, it is very likely that the world will reach the 1.5 C warming level within the next five to 10 years.

How large the overshoot will be and for how long it will exist critically hinges on accelerating emissions cuts and scaling up negative emissions solutions, including carbon capture technology.

At this point, nothing short of an extraordinary and unprecedented effort to cut emissions will save the 1.5 C goal. We know what can be done—the question is whether people are ready for a radical and immediate change of the actions that lead to climate change, primarily a transformation away from a fossil fuel-based energy system.

Peter Schlosser is Vice President and Vice Provost of the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, Arizona State University. This column first appear in The Conversation.

After COP27, all signs point to world blowing past the 1.5 degree global warming limit—here’s what we can still do about it
by Peter Schlosser

Radical Aid

BERLIN—In a small bakery not far from Viktoriapark sat Tetiana, a 39-year old woman who fled Kyiv on Feb. 25 as the Russians began their full scale invasion of Ukraine. As she spoke to Luke Ivanovich, she recounted how her life had been before the war—“a totally normal life,” said Tetiana, whose last name we’re withholding for safety reasons. She described a scene where, two weeks

prior to the invasion, she woke up in a “peaceful and calm” mood, with little to no stress, when she received a Facebook message from family friends in the United States and Germany urging her to leave Ukraine. It was not until after the American and German governments decided to evacuate their Ukrainian embassy staff that she began to worry about her family’s safety.

She said she “didn’t sleep all night” from the 24th to the 25th. That day, which also happened to be her son’s sixth birthday, the pair left Kyiv as her husband stayed behind to fight.

“That day I realized that I have to live because I have a child and I have to save his life first,” Tetiana said.

Her husband, she told Ivanovich, worked as an engineer prior to the invasion. Tetiana described him as “not a warrior, not a soldier,” but just someone who instinctively knew that he “will go to defend [Ukraine].”

How groups of activists have come together to help displaced people and reach marginalized groups throughout Europe as the war in Ukraine continues.

She does not know where her husband is in the country but tries to keep in touch whenever possible.

On the first day of the invasion, as the sound of explosions rang out, Tetiana tried her best to stay calm so as not to frighten her young son. Tetiana recounted how she and her child, only carrying a few backpacks and a small suitcase, hurried along with so many other Ukrainians to safety. With most transportation shut down, she managed to find a neighbor who was willing to take them by car to the Kyiv-Pasazhyrskyi railway station.

“We were lucky our neighbor had a car and he took us to the train station. [At] the train station, we waited for any evacuation. The first train was to Lviv and it was thousand[s] of people, somebody crying, children screaming. It was awful. There were no men. Only women and children, and old ladies and gentlemen.”

On Feb. 24, shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a martial law due to the invasion, able-bodied men ages 18-60 were banned from leaving the country. According to the Visit Ukraine website, there are exemptions to this: Those who are single parents to children under 18, those who are medically exempt, those who are the primary caregiver for a person/persons in need, etc., would be exempt but only with proper documentation in order to leave the country.

From there, another friend drove Tetiana and her son to Uzhhorod, where they would leave through the Slovakian-Ukrainian border. After hearing about friends who braved the cold and snowy Eastern European winter to cross the border into Poland on foot, she decided against doing so. Days later, Tetia -

na and her son reached the Slovakian border where they were helped by volunteers, aiding them with the basic essentials such as food and water. Six days after fleeing their home, Tetiana and her son made it to Zittau, an East German city on the border with Poland. Tetiana felt as if she did not have a choice but to temporarily relocate to Germany because she spoke the language and had a lot of friends there, so she felt she would not be alone.

Data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) shows that Germany and Poland have taken in the most Ukrainian Internally Displaced People, or IDPs, in Europe, with Poland taking in over 1.5 million IDPs.

For a short time while they were in Zittau, the duo briefly stayed in a volunteer-run gym. There they, along with the other displaced people, were able to get food and other necessities as well as gain access to the internet.

Tetiana brought up to Ivanovich how she saw signs in Ukrainian welcoming them, which was a small but meaningful gesture amid the ongoing chaos of the first few weeks of the invasion. Afterwards, she moved into a friend’s place in Hanover before moving into a 20-room hostel, which housed other Ukrainian IDPs.

Her son, she told Ivanovich, does not fully understand the gravity of the ongoing war and treats their refuge in Germany, as well as travel across the Slovakian border, “like a vacation.” It has been difficult adjusting for him, Tetiana said, stating that he initially did not want to attend kindergarten in Germany because he wanted to go to school back home in Kyiv with his friends. The

language barrier also proved to be an issue but she and some German parents have been meeting up as their children play on playdates. Tetiana also takes her son to museums and throughout the country to help him learn as much as possible. As an IDP, she gets a free German rail pass to anywhere within the country.

Tetiana told Ivanovich that the Ukrainian Association in Lower Saxony is one of the groups helping IDPs with German documents as well as holding meetings and events.

While stories like Tetiana’s are becoming all too common, many IDPs do not have the same experience trying to get to Germany. For some, moving between European Union countries can be simple. The Schengen Area is a zone comprised of 26 European countries that did away with their internal borders to make it so that any citizen who holds a passport from one of the 26 member countries can have “unrestricted movement” in the area. Yet for others who do not hold a passport from one of these countries, let alone any European nation’s passport, trying to move around Europe can feel like attempting to enter a fortress.

In a report by The Guardian , European countries have been installing and using a wide variety of “specialized technology” to track and even deter IDPs from crossing borders. Greece, one of the main countries IDPs traverse in an attempt to get to central and western Europe, has used air surveillance, cameras, sensors and other deterrents, such as a sound cannon, to try and stop people from crossing its border. Austria, Croatia, Italy and Malta also use air surveillance, while Poland sends out automated texts telling people not to try to cross their border with Belarus. In June, the Associated Press reported that the Polish government had completed their wall along the Polish-Belarussian border. In November, according to The Wall Street Journal , Polish Army engineers begun constructing another wall of razor wire along the country’s border with Russia. Both were to deter the governments of Belarus and Russia from “pushing migrants into Europe.”

That same Wall Street Journal article mentions how at least 23 people died trying to get into the EU by crossing the Belarussian-Polish border since 2021 and how in October, a Sudanese man was suspected of drowning after his body was found in the Svislach river.

The Mutual Aid Groups

At Oranienplatz, Fumi Nine Yamamoto spoke of how the group they are a part of, BIPoC Ukraine, came about after hearing

Zora, from Radical Aid Force, on left, and Gabi, from No Nation Truck Collective, on right, in Berlin on Nov. 15, 2022. All remaining photos by Daniella Heminghaus

of the struggles BIPoCs faced at the border when trying to flee Ukraine.

“We started hearing the reports of really heavy racism at the borders like on the 27th, I think, so we knew a lot of people would be making their way to Berlin,” she said.

From there, Yamamoto helped to translate a coalition Zoom meeting of about “30 Black organizations in Germany,” who were planning on how best to provide aid for these IDPs. “[We] started setting up structures; at that time it was also about organizing, getting supplies, like gathering food and clothes,” and organizing transportation for those who were stuck.

Time reported on multiple accounts of racism at the Polish-Ukrainian border crossing in March. One of Yamamoto’s Nigerian friends had then contacted her about getting another friend’s younger brother out of Ukraine. The friend’s brother had been a college student there and missed his first year due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down in-person classes. Then the war struck, and he needed a way out. Now, as a third country-national, or a person who has become stranded in a country that is not their own and thus does not have the same freedom of movement as those who are citizens, according to the UNHCR, he could not simply cross the border as many of his classmates had.

Yamamoto recalled her friend saying, “Oh crap, my friend’s little brother is there, he’s stuck and he wants to come to Berlin. Can I give him your number?’” She got in touch with him and from that experience her number had been passed around to others in need. This is basically how she ended up making a group, which led her to others doing the same kind of work.

BIPoC Ukraine is a Berlin-based mutual aid community of BIPoCs that had fled the war in Ukraine and their friends who “focus on the situation, struggle, needs and self-empowerment of non-Ukrainian BIPoC refugees from Ukraine in Germany,” while also “standing in solidarity with previous and ongoing anti-racist struggles of migrants/refugees and accomplices.”

The group not only advocates for incoming BIPoCs but also provides translation for them as well, which is immensely pivotal in making sure the IDPs’ paperwork is done correctly.

“Like, OK, we’ll accompany you to this immigration interview and we’ll make sure that everything is done right and that they don’t force you into an asylum system or trick you into signing papers that are not okay. And sometimes a lot of it happens in oneon-one chats or something,” Yamamoto said. Being able to translate for these IDPs is one

thing, but providing them with trusted legal and community resources is another.

Other activists, Gabi and Zora (both last names withheld for security reasons) of No Nation Truck Collective and Radical Aid Force, respectively, ended up at different European borders after hearing of police violence towards IDPs over the years.

Gabi went to Greece and witnessed IDPs come to shore from boats and makeshift dinghies.

“One of the scenes in my head always is that to get a child out of a trauma or a traumatic situation, you have to play with them so that they have the image that it’s a normal situation. So what you would do when you welcome the boats is that you are already there with a lot of teddy bears and you would try to get the children and the moms first and then play with the children because this is just the procedure, how you interact with people who have been traumatized,” Gabi said.

No Nation Truck Collective formed in 2019 as a way to counter the “racist policies of deterrence” and support those making their way through Europe’s migrant routes. It is a truck outfitted complete with a kitchen, first aid station and a solar panel-supplied cell phone charging system that can charge anywhere from 80-100 phones. For people on the move, being able to have a fully charged phone is critical. People on the move communicate a lot through Facebook and Instagram these days because staying connected “is necessary to survive.” If someone makes it through all the borders, they can provide pivotal information to the others on how to successfully get through as well.

The Collective also documents vio -

lence along European borders.

“On one hand we do this basic work and then this bigger work of showing the systemic racism on the border with these border violence reports,” Gabi said.

Somewhere down the line Gabi met some Ukrainian activists while putting on punk shows in squats where donations went to their causes. Zora also knew and now works alongside some of these activists when she heads out with Radical Aid Force.

Shortly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Zora and some friends went to the Polish-Ukrainian border because they had heard about the discrimination happening there.

“We heard that there’s mostly BIPoCs who faced a lot a discrimination at the border on the Ukrainian side as well as the Polish side,” Zora said.

She said that one friend was a journalist so they initially went to document what they saw on the Polish border side and the difficulties these IDPs faced. At the Medyka border crossing site, she saw just how chaotic and unstructured getting aid was.

“There’s tons of people who want to help but there’s no structure at all,” Zora said. She and some friends connected with others and decided to make their trips more regular as the group realized just how many people could not use the “given ways of fleeing.” Zora mentioned how people with disabilities, the elderly, and those who face racism—like BIPoCs and the Jewish community—were the groups she and her friends focused on helping. They also helped bring medical and other supplies to their comrades in Ukraine. These comrades were throughout the country, even

Tetiana, last name withheld for safety reasons, holding her one backpack she filled with belongings as she fled the war in Ukraine with her 6 year-old son in Berlin, Germany on Nov.12, 2022.

the front lines.

When asked how she found her Ukrainian comrades, Zora responded, “through the punk scene, we got in touch with these guys. Every time we go to Ukraine, there’s at least five more groups and people we know. And then it just gets bigger and bigger.”

They collect donations and raise money through selling T-shirts and throwing solidarity parties. The money raised allowed them to purchase much needed generators, morning after pills and other supplies, which they then take into Ukraine. The Plan B pills often go to hospitals along the frontlines as they need to be taken in a timely manner.

In September, The Guardian reported on how the United Nations finished up an investigation of Russian war crimes committed in Ukraine. The crimes include torture, executions, bombing civilian areas and “horrific sexual violence.” In early December, a draft resolution made its rounds in the UN calling for a “Nuremberg-style tribunal” in order to hold Russian leaders accountable for the war crimes committed, as stated in The Guardian

Another mutual aid group, Ukraine Solidarity Bus, mentioned how they once had a chilling request for body bags. One of their members was an undertaker and therefore had the connection to get the bags and drop them off to comrades in Ukraine. Since then the group has completed requests for all types of supplies from generators to baby milk powder, boots and armor to medical supplies. They have also completed over 10 trips to Ukraine helping people not only move within the country but also out of it to Poland and Germany.

On one trip to Ukraine with Radical Aid Force, Zora and her comrades helped evacuate children who have autism. She recalled how they would have to stop almost hourly because the kids were “screaming or yelling or crying the entire time,” and they had difficulty sitting for extended periods of time. The group made sure to stop frequently so the children could get out when needed.

Zora mentioned how it annoys her when people forget or do not see that there are people who cannot go the usual evacuation journey, be it by bus or train.

“This is super annoying that they don’t really see these things, they don’t see what all the women do there, they don’t see that there’s people who cannot take the normal way they provide. There’s so many PoC, people with disabilities, women, who suffer from the given structures that actually suck,” she said. She added how she wished the media would report on this more and on the amount of sexual violence used against those in Ukraine by the Russian forces.

Groups like BIPoC Ukraine, Good

on Nov. 13, 2022.

Night Imperial Pride, No Nation Truck Collective, Radical Aid Force and Ukraine Solidarity Bus all work, in some ways, together for the common goal of getting people the aid they need, whether that is transportation out of a warzone, ambulances, medicines and medical supplies, a mobile command unit, generators, a giant phone charger, street medical stations, or even help with translations

A sign that reads “Stop Russian Imperialism” at an anti-Russian imperialism demo in Berlin on Nov. 13, 2022.

A poster of Mouhamed Lamine Dramé, a Senegalese teen who died at the hands of Dortmund police on August 8, 2022, at a makeshift memorial for those who died by police violence in Oranienplatz, Berlin, Germany on Nov. 13, 2022.

once they are in Germany.

Daniella Heminghaus is a photojournalist from the New Jersey Shore who covers a wide array of assignments in the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. Luke Ivanovich is a Ukrainian-American freelance photographer that covers politics and concerts, primarily in the tri-state area. He currently runs a photo blog called Czuk Photo.

Fumi Nine Yamamoto, from BIPoC Ukraine, in Oranienplatz, Berlin, Germany

Anthology explores queer and trans identity through horror films

The idea for It Came from the Closet: Queer Reflections on Horror was so obvious to its editor Joe Vallese, of Palisades Park, that he almost didn’t write the book proposal for it.

“I waited around for a while thinking someone had already come up with this idea, someone must be in the process of doing it,” says Vallese.

The anthology, published in October by Feminist Press, features essays by two dozen queer and trans writers who explore their identities through the lens of horror film.

“It was a book I’d always wanted to read and couldn’t find and realized didn’t actually exist,” Vallese says. “I wanted to read folks writing about horror movies not in a super academic way. There exists a lot of queer and feminist theory around horror film—a lot of very academic writing, which I think is important and there should be more of it—but I wanted to know how other queer people connected with horror movies, if their experiences were like mine or if they differed from mine.”

Some of the writers Vallese ap-

proached had such a different experience with horror movies that they didn’t want to be a part of the book. “It turns out a lot of queer writers don’t like horror movies, which isn’t surprising because I think life can be like a horror movie for so many queer people,” he says.

The whole process of bringing the book to life took about five years. In addition to approaching some writers directly, Vallese had an open call for work, which received 240 submissions. Ultimately, he was able to take 24 of those pitches and submissions, and worked closely with the writers to craft their essays.

That kind of work is something Vallese is very comfortable with; by day, he is an associate professor in NYU’s expository writing program.

“Absolutely the work I do as a teacher of writing factored into how I was able to wrangle two-dozen writers and their work and make the essays feel cohesive and part of the same book even though the work was all very different,” Vallese says.

He has worked at NYU for much of his career, aside from a five-year stint with the

Bard Prison Initiative, where he taught writing and critical reading and did administrative work as the director of what he describes as a “pop-up college” program at women’s corrections facilities in New York.

“I learned a lot about the corrections system, the legal system and human nature working in that job, which is the most interesting thing I’ll ever do, I’m sure,” says Vallese. “I saw three classes of students get degrees. When they enter the room they’re students, not inmates.

“My tenacity and guidance that I give to my students translated in a collaborative and generous way with the book contributors. I felt very prepared to work with a variety of voices and give constructive feedback that would always be in service of making the piece better and more itself,” Vallese says. “There were some pieces that came to me as an 18-page piece on one movie and by the time we were done with it, it was a seven-page piece on another movie.”

Closet is actually the second anthology edited by Vallese. His first, What’s Your Exit? A Literary Detour Through New Jersey , which he co-edited with Alicia Beale, was published in

Courtesy Feminist Press

2010 with a small, now-defunct press called Word Riot. Exit came about when Vallese and Beale, both working on fiction MFAs from NYU, “took note that the other was always explicitly or implicitly writing about New Jersey” in their pieces for class.

“We were the only two people from New Jersey. Our professor was from Long Island and he’d make comments like, ‘It could be worse, you could be from Long Island,’ and we were like, ‘But we’re not making fun of New Jersey in our writing, we’re setting our stories there for a reason,’” Vallese says. “We both felt like there was something literary about the state. We felt like Jersey deserved to be the backdrop for some of these stories.

“We met for a drink one night and were like, ‘Maybe we should do a literary Jersey anthology with fiction and poetry and non-fiction and collect a lot of work that exists already but also solicit new work.’ This was when The Sopranos was coming to an end, so Jersey had sort of changed in the cultural lexicon. It felt like the right time. We had meetings with multiple literary agents who were interested in the idea of a Jersey anthology, that’s how hot the iron was when it came to The Sopranos ,” Vallese says.

Exit ended up with Word Riot in part because many of those agents weren’t as interested in a literary anthology, and wanted

to represent a coffee table book. “We didn’t want to compromise our vision,” Vallese says. “Word Riot was this small, radical alternative press run by Jackie Corley. She reached out and said, ‘I love this idea and I will put all of my resources into it; I will cut you guys a really great contract and give you most of the proceeds.’ It turned out to be an awesome experience with her.”

Exit contains work from iconic Jersey writers including Joyce Carol Oates (who they often had trouble reaching because she had a tendency not to open her mail), Tom Perotta (who had no digital copy of the story they reprinted from his short story collection Bad Haircut , so Beale and Vallese took turns retyping it—“Perotta immediately spotted the mis -

takes,”) the actor Jason Biggs (“who wrote this very short prose piece about listening to Z100 and going to the mall and what Jersey makes him think of now that he’s in Hollywood,”) and Robert Pinsky.

Vallese first became interested in anthologies in college, when he spotted The Milk of Almonds: Italian American Women Writers on Food and Culture , which was published by his eventual publisher Feminist Press.

“Being first generation Italian-American, I was very drawn to it,” Vallese says. “Reading an anthology from Feminist Press inspired the New Jersey anthology and its structure, and then a decade later, I did another anthology for Feminist Press and it felt sort of full circle in a way that was really nice,” he says.

Vallese’s experience with Feminist Press, who he calls his “dream publisher,” has so far proven to be a good fit. Margo Atwell, executive director of the press as of last spring, proposed raising funds to help cover production costs as well as writers’ fees by taking preorders for Closet via a Kickstarter campaign. At first, Vallese was unsure of the idea. “I didn’t want anybody to be confused and think this is not coming out on a real publisher.” But ultimately, they used the campaign as a way to generate interest, promote events around the book, and build community. It was a huge success—

Joe Vallese (right) in conversation with New York Times writer Erik Piepenburg

they sold hundreds of copies via Kickstarter and raised $18,204, significantly more than their $6,666 goal, allowing them to increase payments for the writers in the book.

Closet has been embraced by readers. The book is on its second printing, and has received starred reviews. “We knew there would be so much crossover appeal, that queer readers and writers would be interested in it, and horror lovers, and people who just love to read really excellent nonfiction,” Vallese says.

Vallese is currently planning additional events to promote the book, including working out the details for a film screening and panel discussion in Asbury Park. “I want to start doing more Jersey stuff,” he says. “I haven’t celebrated it at home yet.”

As for his next project, Vallese will continue to explore horror films—by writing a screenplay for one. He describes the work as “surrogacy horror” based on his husband and his experience with surrogacy, a topic he also explores in an essay for Closet

“Before I wrote that essay, I needed to process it in a different way so I wrote a screenplay that represents our experience,” he says. “It was really cathartic but also turned out well,” so Vallese found a producer who is working with him to get it just right and hopefully get it made.

Vallese’s experience with surrogacy and fatherhood may also end up inspiring him to edit another anthology.

“I suddenly have the urge to edit a book of essays about queer parenthood,” he says. “I think about how the journey to getting to be a father as a queer person was so specific, but also there are all these small ways in which parenting while queer is very different. Queer parenthood is still pretty rare. It’s expensive, it’s difficult, it’s logistically nightmarish. Adoption is shockingly expensive and tricky. If I do another anthology, it would be something about queer parenthood.”

When asked more explicitly about the possibility of a second volume of Closet, with more essays on horror, Vallese says the answer is maybe. “But I’m also hoping our anthology inspires other marginalized folk to extend this work,” he says, adding that he can imagine great anthologies on subjects like horror and disability, horror and race, and horror and motherhood.

Vallese says, “I want to inspire others to do that work. I want others to pick up the baton and run with it in other directions. I want the conversation to start with the book, not end with it.”

For more on It Came From the Closet, or to buy it, go to feministpress.org.


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.

Alexandre Arrechea: Landscape and Hierarchies ArtYard, Frenchtown. Through Jan 22.

Landscape and Hierarchies explores the responsibility that lies between the individual and the collective and the ripple effects human actions have on society and nature.

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.

New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence New Jersey State Museum, Trenton. Through April 30.

127 works by 95 New Jersey artists centered on the theme of Reemergence—from the pandemic, political polarization and racial reckoning.

RetroBlakesberg: Captured on Film: 1978-2008 Morris Museum, Morris Township. Through Feb. 5.

A deep dive into a different aspect of Jay’s body of work; early formative years, live performance, portraiture and the Grateful Dead featuring more than 125 images. Photographs were shot on film but are displayed on archival metal sheets here.

Samuel Fosso: Affirmative Acts

Princeton University Art Museum, Through Jan. 29

The exhibition showcases Nigerian-Cameroonian artist Samuel Fosso’s self-portraits, in which the artist assumes various

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.

Stand Up! 10 Mighty Women Who Made a Change Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers-New Brunswick. Through Feb. 12.

In her debut picture book Stand Up! 10 Mighty Women Who Made a Change (Orchard Books, 2022), Brittney Cooper, professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies at Rutgers University, introduces young audiences to 10 revolutionary Black women who changed the world. Their strength and courage come alive in the vivid and powerful illustrations by Cathy Ann Johnson and inspire all of us to stand up to injustice.

There & Back: The Journey to Vietnam and Home

NJ Vietnam Veteran Memorial and Vietnam Era Museum, Holmdel. Through March 15.

This exhibition draws deeply from veteran and civilian flight crew accounts. Rare in-flight photos, uniforms and ephemera provide a seldom-seen look at the bond between soldiers and the flight attendants who served with airlines during the Vietnam War.

The You Voice

Mana Contemporary, Jersey City, Through Jan. 28.

A nine-channel video installation by filmmaker Derrick Belcham. This powerful work explores the often-contradictory inner voice that both drives and stalls creativity and personal agency. Filmed in black and white, nine performers speak directly and candidly to the camera. Using texts drawn from journals and memories, the nine actresses perform characterizations of this voice, their own self-critic.

Abelardo Morell: Projecting Italy Montclair Art Museum, Montclair, Through Feb. 12. characters and gender roles to highlight the connections between identity, consumption, and global commerce. Through makeup and dress, Fosso references various figures, cultures, places, institutions and more. Federico Solmi, Joie De Vivre (IX), Oprah Winfrey and Warren Buffett, 2021, Soft pastels, white pen and ink, gouache on wood panel, 60 x 36 x 1 in. (152.5 x 91.5 x 2.5 cm). Original is in color.


30 years in, moe. endures

Some 30 years ago, moe. came together as somewhat of a lark. Al Schnier (guitars, vocals), Chuck Garvey (guitars, vocals), and Rob Derhak (bass, vocals) were at the University of Buffalo and thought, “We liked music, we liked to party, and we wanted to put those two things together.”

Now, three decades and dozens of studio and live albums later, plus several festivals, concert cruises, side projects and more, moe. is American jam band royalty. Wild that they didn’t have designs on setting out into the jam world to begin with.

“We adapted,” Derhak says. “Initially we didn’t have quite as much of the same ideal at first. We didn’t jam or have long extended solos. But as we went from being an opening act to being a headliner, we didn’t have enough material to do two long sets. We needed more material so our songs started to stretch themselves out. We

became a jam band.”

And a unique one at that. Throughout their catalog, or at any one given show (or, perhaps, in one song), you’ll hear country, alt-country, calypso, jazz, rock, prog rock, classic rock, funk, new wave, pop and more. With humble, humorous asides and musical sets that fucking rip, moe. is a good time live—and they come to The Wellmont Theater in Montclair on Jan. 21.

But three decades after the bands first release, Fatboy (which still holds up upon a recent listen and includes much-evolved live staples like “Dr. Graffenberg,” “Yodelittle,” and “Spine of a Dog”), Derhak isn’t quite sure how to package the experience of going from a couple dudes messing around on instruments to one of jam’s seminal acts.

“It’s hard, like, I don’t think about it unil someone like you puts it out there,” Derhak says. “It’s like friends in other bands

like Ominous Seapods and Yolk [who came up in the scene with moe.], are like, ‘Do you guys even realize how difficult it is just to get from that dipshit dream of living with your friends and going cruising around in a van and playing in shitty bars to where you guys are at right now?’ It’s hard to get the grasp or to really understand how many people we’ve actually played to in the history of our music. And how many people… it’s fucked up. I don’t know, I have no real good way to deal with it except I don’t process the stuff and I just keep on going through my daily life. I’m just still into playing shows and it’s all about that time then.”

The jam fan base is an interesting one. We tend to be a little… obsessive, diligently uploading setlists to message boards, opining about the deeper meaning of songs, arguing about which version of “Timmy Tucker” was the best, holding little blips in the band’s history on pedestals as if they

Prospect PR
Photos Courtesy moe. plays The Wellmont Theater in Montclair on Jan. 21. Tickets start at $20.

were moments like Dylan going electric. It’s a little silly, but fun. Putting it that way is “diplomatic,” Derhak says with a laugh. He remembers when he first noticed the peculiarities of the band’s fans, the “moe.rons.”

“I think back when there was a moe. message group, which was before there was Facebook or even before there was Myspace and it was just a group of fans and we’re like, ‘What is this?’ And then we started reading this stuff people were saying and we’re like people are wicked obsessed with this and they’re reading way too much into what we’re doing. That was in the ’90s. That sort of devotion has carried on. Some of the people that were part of that are still coming out to a good amount of our shows. And they’re as old as we are.”

Derhak and moe. have reason to cherish the journey those fans have been on with them, and where they’re at in the jam landscape, ahead of this upcoming winter-spring tour. Founding member Chuck Garvey suffered a stroke in November 2021; the band took a hiatus and returned last year with Suke Cerulo on guitar and Nate Wilson on keys and vocals. Garvey will return to the band for this tour, starting in Philly at The Fillmore on New Year’s Eve. The plan is that Garvey will stick around for the tour, but Derhak cautions it’s too soon to commit to that because “god knows what a stroke does to a person.”

With Cerulo and Wilson filling in over the last few shows, moe.—which has played as a five-piece for quite some time now—had to adjust to their new bandmates’ musical sensibilities, and get them up to speed. In improvisational music like jam, comfort, familiarity and feel enable the band to speak musically and feel, more than

explicitly communicate, how to take songs on stage.

“Definitely there’s a process involved,” Derhak says. “We’ll never be as cohesive with [Cerulo] as we are with Chuck because we had 30-plus years of playing with Chuck. We found ourselves, just weird parts of songs that we just play by feel and it’s hard to explain to somebody new coming in that’s only been playing with us for a month how to play by feel. So having it being completely cohesive is an impossible task.”

stuff that I did when I came out the other side of having cancer, and it’s just, all the superfluous shit that just sort of surrounds what you do just kind of melts away, and it’s really your friendships and playing music and doing what you love [that remains],” Derhak says. “And you forget about all the stuff that doesn’t matter and that’s how it was for me. I got this creative burst and I wanted to write a bunch of stuff and do a bunch of things and get back to what I love. It was obvious that Chuck needed to play when we got back and that’s what really matters.”

And what drove the creative output wasn’t so much about wanting to return to normal, but just to embrace passion.

Derhak says the next month will include plenty of rehearsals to get Garvey back up to speed—Derhak says the guitar-playing is coming back pretty well; the vocals might take some time. Wilson, with whom Derhak has collaborated before, will take Garvey’s vocal parts in the meantime while playing keys.

The experience with Garvey is reminiscent of Derhak’s own medical issues—in summer 2017, he was diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer, prompting the band to take a hiatus until he recovered toward the end of the year. That experience allowed Derhak to recalibrate his focus and, like Garvey is now, he was eager to get back into music.

“[Garvey’s] said a lot of the same

“For me, it was kind of like, shit man, life is short. I am feeling good now and I’m feeling like I got through to the other side of this and I want to do stuff that I love doing, and the thing I love doing most is writing new music and getting it made. Second most is playing it on stage, but for me writing and producing a song is my favorite part,” Derhak says.

And moe.’s still putting out great tunes. Though Derhak and fans might point to a period in the late ’90s, early ’00s as when the band first hit its stride, with albums like tin cans & car tires and Dither, a trip through the band’s more recent albums shows a band willing to explore and musicians in tune not only with their craft but with each other. The evolution is fun to see. And seeing them live—which you should do—proves the band, despite the recent ups and downs, can still light a stage on fire.

moe. plays the Wellmont Theater in Montclair on Jan. 21. Tickets start at $20.


January 14

Anchor Rock Club Atlantic City

Chuck Ragan Sammy Kay and the Seasonal Depression


Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park

1/12: Steve Forbert & The New Renditions, James Maddock, Fantastic Cat & More.

1/21: Ogbert the Nerd, Halogens, Innerlove, The Mercury Brothers, Beauty.

House of Independents, Asbury Park

1/5: Ham By The Pound, Jwalttz, Frankie Mermaid, Shark Earrings.

1/7: John Franklin: Yesterday’s Birthday w/ Twentycashregular (Comedy).

1/12: Morningside Lane, Babie Julez, The Break Plan, Nick Ryan.

1/13: The Brothers Union, The Extensions, The dt’s, Rivva.

1/27: Hidden In Plain View.

Stone Pony, Asbury Park

1/13: Kulick, Ian Seaholm, Jared Clemons, Evan Rotella, Miss Emily & More.

1/20: Eric Rachmany, Cydeways, Mike Pinto.

1/21: Twiddle, Great Time.

1/22: Free The Witness, Bush League, Cigarette Youth, Beat Stu.

Trinity Church, Asbury Park

1/27: Pain of Truth, End It, Restraining Order, Threat 2 Society, Hold My Own.

Anchor Rock Club, Atlantic City

1/7: Lexington Down, PJ, Sceneior Citizens.

1/13: Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.

Dingbatz, Clifton

1/5: Ron Suno.

1/7: Anaka, Ripped, Libricide.

1/8: Resist The Temptation, Phantoms and Fables.

1/13: Generation Kill, Dead By Wednesday, Return To Darkness, Thanatotic Desire.

1/31: Imperial Triumphant, Cloak, Couch Slut, Bestial Tongues.

Factory Records, Dover

1/14: Altered States, Ritual Earth, Knife City.

1/26: Anton Fig, Chris Spedding, Kevin Lentin.

1/27: Gus the Savage.

Flemington DIY, Flemington

1/14: Lupe Dragon, KC Raniero, Funeral Doors, Squelch.

1/15: Jessye DeSilva, Old Tom & the Lookouts, TheyLoveThem.

1/20: Red McAdam, Unwelcomed, TheBandLunch, Loon Lord.

1/21: Newgraspingmachina, Cicada rules, Bison Squad, Chasing Ghosts, Uncle Anus.

Crossroads, Garwood

1/14: Ben Nichols w/ Jared Hart.

White Eagle Hall, Jersey City 1/28: Joe Bataan.

Madison Community Arts Center, Madison

1/15: NJ Jazz Society January Show.

1/21: Come Original Music Showcase.

1/22: Jerry Vezza, Grover Kemble.

The Wellmont Theater, Montclair

1/21: Moe.

1/31: Anthrax, Black Label Society, Exodus.

Mayo PAC, Morristown

1/8: Daniil Trifonov performs Brahms.

NJPAC, Newark

1/7: Joe Locke Trio @ Bethany Baptist Church.

1/7: Daniil Trifonov performs Brahms.

1/13: Stephanie Mills & the Whispers.

1/19: Jazz Jam @ Clement’s Place.

1/21: NJ Symphony: Lunar New Year.

1/29: NJ Symphony w/ Hilary Hahn & Xian Zhang.

1/29: An evening with Fred Hersch and Esperanza Spalding.

Cinco De Mayo, New Brunswick

1/2: Reaching Out, Phantom, Flower, Dusters.

1/15: Jivebomb, BRAT, Fraud, Wall Breaker, Without Peace.

State Theater, New Brunswick

1/22: Linda Eder.

Princeton Folk Music Society, Princeton 1/20: Diana Jones.

Starland Ballroom, Sayreville

1/6: God Forbid, Bleeding Through, Shai Hulud, Nora, Living Wreckage.

1/28: Badfish, Kash’d Out, Kaleidoscope Kid.

South Orange PAC, South Orange

1/8: The Dave Stryker Trio Prime.

1/20: Russell Thompkins, Jr. & The New Stylistics.

1/28: Lucky Chops.

1/29: Mark Evans.

Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck

1/8: See Plus, Jack Flowers and the Petal Tones, Miraflores.

1/27: Thelma And The Sleaze, Loyalty To Me.

Millhill Basement, Trenton

1/13: W70, Chemical X, Poison I.V., VSSLS.

1/14: Vivisect, Sentient Horror, Cranial Damage, Festergore.

Photo credit: Alexander Hugo
158 W. Clinton St. Dover, NJ | 833 -357-8782 | factoryrecords.com NJ’s Premier Store for New & Used Vinyl Records, Audio & More! The perfect venue for LIVE entertainment & rentals Dover, NJ Dover, NJ

Paddling the Passaic

“ I always have my eye out when I’m filming for the unexpected,” says Scott Morris, the filmmaker of American River, which follows aquatic ecologist Mary Bruno and river guide Carl Alderson as they kayak 80 miles down the Passaic River.

That’s right. Kayaks. On the Passaic. One of the most polluted waterways in the country. A Superfund site. That’s certainly… unexpected.

But what’s less expected is the life that persists on the Passaic and which jumps off the screen in American River—from its pristine

headwaters, to its industrialized, polluted mouth. Life in the form of riparian habitats and fishermen dropping lines; of rowing competitions and boat clubs on the river; of river-adjacent diners and the people who have strong associations with the river. Morris documents it all—the good and bad, the beautiful and ugly—in American River

It’s not unreasonable to think that when Hurricane Ida swept through New Jersey last year, it was the first time many people in North Jersey realized how close they were to the Passaic; that it was still “natural” enough, after decades of industrialization and then neglect, to serve as the foundation of a natural disaster. Because for many, the Passaic is an after-

thought. For some, too far gone; something to be avoided. A river that was used and abused and is now, in the shadow of what we’ve built around it, to be ignored.

“I had been living in New Jersey for quite a while with my family. I’d drive around for work and I’d cross the river numerous times, sometimes on the same day, and signs would say Passaic River, but you couldn’t see it because it was blocked. I’d go, ‘This can’t possibly be the same river.’”

So for Morris, who previously made a documentary on the efforts to save North Jersey’s Great Swamp (by which the Passaic meanders), the intention with American River was to get people to notice it, care about it and

Two kayakers paddle 80 miles down the Passaic River, an infamously polluted
site, and find natural beauty, humanity and reason for hope. Go along on the journey Jan. 20 at NJPAC.
Scene from American River – Mary Bruno and Carl Alderson kayak past graffiti covered ruins on the Lower Passaic. ©2021 by Scott Morris Productions. All Rights Reserved.

to see its potential.

“What I would really like to see happen is people become aware of the river enough to go up and take a look at it, and in some cases go out on the river,” Morris says. “Doesn’t have to be kayaking, but you can go near the parks and then there are a lot of organizations that you can become involved with.”

Morris conducts interviews with some of those advocacy organizations in the film, but also includes impromptu conversations with folks who do interact with the river—a diner owner and patrons in North Arlington, a young man experiencing homelessness in Paterson, who lives in an abandoned warehouse on the riverbank, folks recreating in a new riverfront park in Newark.

And what you glean from the conversations with experts and everyday folks is a sense of optimism; that the efforts underway (which include a $1 billion-plus cleanup plan from the EPA) are a start to reclaiming the river for the communities that live near it. Sure, there’s plenty of recognition of the mismanagement and neglect that led to the pollution, but one leaves the film feeling that the paradise over which they put up a parking lot can be restored.

A lot of that essence comes from the film’s two protagonists, Bruno and Alderson, whose journey along the river form the spine and narrative thrust of American River. Bruno was an ideal—potentially the only—subject for the film; in 2012, she published An American River: From Paradise to Superfund, a memoir about growing up on the river. Bruno took a similar kayak trip for that book, and so the journey documented in American River marks their return. As with all adventures, the trip wasn’t the same for the kayakers, both because of the elements—trees to maneuver over or around, weather, etc.—but also because of new human developments on the river—housing, graffiti, parks, decay. Noting the new construction in the lower Passaic, near Newark, Bruno quips that it’s going to look a lot different on the next trip.

Bruno and Alderson are engaging, hopeful, knowledgeable guides for this picturesque river trip. Morris does well to capture the joy of the trip through Bruno, Alderson and the dozens of other people featured in the film. In one tone-setting scene a few minutes in, Alderson meticulously rolls up straps and, in dry humor, warns of the dangers of improper strap organization. Morris then cuts to Alderson’s daughter, Julia, who serves as their land support person, bunching up a strap in a ridiculously and decidedly not meticulous manner and the group shares a laugh. That little moment serves a broader purpose in setting

Scenes from American River from top to bottom: 1)Kayaking through Great Swamp; 2) Mary Bruno and Carl Alderson kayak past the Marcal Paper Factory; 3) Mary Bruno and Carl Alderson portage across Great Falls in Paterson. All photos ©2021 by Scott Morris Productions. All Rights Reserved.

a lighter tone for a film that could certainly go dark, given the state of the Passaic.

“That moment is so human and so warm, and it gets a huge laugh from the audience,” Morris says. “It’s about 5 or 6 minutes into the film; it’s a moment people realize this film isn’t going to be a heavy, dark experience, it’s going to be enjoyable. You get the audience at that moment. From that point on, the film does have a lot of humorous moments.”

There are plenty of those human moments, but what’ll grip you throughout is the stunning scenery—which will be in its full brilliance in 4K at its Jan. 20 screening at NJPAC. Morris had a 15-person crew, mounted GoPros to the kayaks, had drones running, set cameramen out in boats and had filmers on the river banks to capture not only the journey, but the natural splendor of the Passaic over two weekends in late Autumn 2018. There are parts of the river that you just surely haven’t seen before and will amaze you. Because of Morris’ approach, one feels as if they’re on the trip with Bruno and Alderson. That was the point, Morris says.

“Part of my idea in the movie is I’m the audience. I want to go out and discover the river with Mary and Carl and discover the river with this audience,” Morris says.

Those myriad moments of beauty make the conversations around the ills of the river land more squarely. When you spend 30 minutes traversing through the beautiful headwaters and serene swamplands and when you visit with Great Falls and see it as you’ve never seen it before, it hurts a little bit to see the neglect of the industrial age in the lower Passaic. It hurts to learn about Kolker Chemical Works, Inc. and later Diamond Alkali

Co. producing DDT for years on the Passaic riverbanks, and to learn about how that production contaminated water and soil in the area with dioxin, an extremely toxic chemical. Then, to supplement those points with stories of people who were affected by the pollution, the film adds urgency to the need for remediation.

And it’s a little bittersweet, for reasons much broader than the river, to meet Christian, a young man experiencing homelessness who lives in a burned-out facility on the river. Christian shares thoughts on the river and the neglect of the human-made structures along it, and yet he’s thankful to have found a bed in the old building. Sweet because life, like the flora growing throughout the deteriorating building, has found a way with Christian. Bitter because it’s come to this for him and so many others.

It was “very moving for me and the crew,” Morris says. “He walked by us when we were filming in the rooms. He was apologetic: ‘I hope I didn’t get in your shots.’ And I stopped and asked him, ‘Would you be willing to talk to us?’ He just turned out to be this lovely, articulate man with a troubled life and was very forthcoming.

“Mary likes to think of the people as being the heart and soul of the river,” Morris continues. “The people who live along it live all different lifestyles and lives and I really

wanted to capture it and bring the river to life through a mosaic of stories from the people who live along it.”

One also gets the sense that this film is not just about the Passaic. There are thousands of imperiled and neglected rivers across the country, and Morris framed the film with an eye on reaching people who live near other rivers and want to bring theirs back to glory.

“The reason the film is called American River is [because] this is not just a film about the Passaic, and in my research there are thousands of rivers in this country that have similar problems,” Morris says. “There’s something like 1,500, close to that number, where they can’t support aquatic life because of pollution and agriculture and industry and things like that. There are lots of advocates. I’d like the message to go beyond just the Passaic. The Passaic is an archetype for rivers everywhere.”

American River, screening and a special post-screening Q&A with filmmaker Scott Morris, author Mary Bruno and river guide Carl Alderson Jan. 20. NJPAC, Newark. Tickets are $5 and available at njpac.org.

Top: Mary Bruno and Carl Alderson. Right: Scott Morris (photo credit: Nick Rumaczyk). All photos ©2021 by Scott Morris Productions. All Rights Reserved.

How New Jersey changed everything

‘Ma Bell: The Mother of Invention in New Jersey’ chronicles the advancements in research and communication that came out of Bell Labs in NJ in the 20th century.

Let’s start at the beginning. As in, the very beginning.

Two Bell Labs scientists in New Jersey, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, were working with an ultra-sensitive radio antenna near Holmdel in the early ’60s. But they kept picking up a hiss coming from all directions, the origins of which defied explanation. That is, until they realized that that annoying buzz was the remaining cosmic radiation from the Big Bang.

Penzias and Wilson won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978 for their discovery, and for good reason—their discovery changed the way we understand the universe and life as we know it.

But it’s only one of Bell Labs’ contributions to technology, research and human advancement. So many are those contributions that discovering what the Big Bang sounds like is just one small installation in the Morven Museum & Garden (Princeton) Exhibition, Ma Bell: The Mother of Invention in New Jersey , which chronicles the lab’s inventions and discoveries in the 20th century, and provides artifacts and personal histories of

that life in that time and place.

The story of Bell Labs is truly a New Jersey story; tens of thousands of residents here worked for the company in myriad departments, from the Murray Hill headquarters to offshoots throughout the state. At the beginning of the exhibition, guests are invited to write their memories of Bell Labs—many entries include those from folks who worked there or had relatives who did or who simply witnessed the way the company changed society.

“We realized everyone has a connection somehow, whether someone’s like, ‘My aunt was an operator,’ or ‘I worked a switchboard in high school,’ or ‘My father was a lineman.’ It wasn’t just scientists, and so pretty early on, we made the decision of the Bell System in total is what we wanted to talk about,” says Elizabeth Allan, Morven deputy director and curator. “One of the things we wanted to do was the personal side of the story; who these people were, what were they doing, how did they do it... and we do a pretty good job of explaining the technology too.”

It’s hard to understate, after walking through the exhibit, just how deeply Bell Labs changed the way we share and access information. From the 1920s to the ’80s, Bell Labs helped create the modern means of discovery and communication—from the first phones (and related cables and switchboards), to aviators’ radio headsets, satellites powered by

solar panels, and the first picture phone.

Left to right: Picturephone handset and video monitor, 1964.; No. 1317 S Wooden Magneto Wall Telephone Set, 1907. Western Electric Company. Both courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center.

It’s easy to take technology for granted today, but when you see the many artifacts collected in Ma Bell from vacuum tubes and exchange cables to notebooks and early lasers— you realize just how ingenious this generation of thinkers was, and how much work (manual and intellectual) went into connecting the country (and the world, and beyond).

You also realize just how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. Toward the end of the exhibit, you’ll get a glimpse of a video phone that looks, sure, a little bulky (it was 1964), but also remarkably slick for it being the first of its kind. Turns out, people had similar reactions to it then as we do now coming out of two straight years of video conferencing.

“I think everybody now can relate to Zoom meetings and everything like that, and having a picture phone in 1964; people didn’t like it because you’re not always camera ready. And we sort of connected that,” says Jesse Gordon Simons, assistant curator and registrar

Now, Bell had the resources and latitude to develop technologies in part because it was a monopoly. By the time the ’80s


rolled around, AT&T—which, by extension, was founded to preserve Alexander Graham Bell’s patent on the telephone system and which eventually became the parent to the Bell System—was deemed a monopoly, operating America’s telephone system. In essence, it was preventing others from fairly competing in the modern world it created. So the company was split into seven regional Bell companies. Bell Labs wasn’t quite the same; although, today Nokia Bell Labs (headquartered, still, in Murray Hill) is working on everything from space exploration to AI to 6G technology.

There’s a bittersweet sense one gets walking through the exhibition and reading some of the recollections from previous employees: sure, it had to be broken up, but Bell Labs created a unique working environment that was ahead of its time, and which fostered creativity and ingenuity. And, much like the technology it created, some of the things we take for granted now in our workspaces started with Bell Labs, Allan says.

“One of the early quotes we hit on was someone once asked Bill Gates if he could time travel anywhere where would he go and he said Murray Hill, New Jersey, 1947,” Allan says. “And that’s the invention of the transistor. Before Silicon Valley and that culture, it was Bell Labs. Bell Labs invented that culture of social engagement; you wanna have a train building club? You got a train club. You want a softball team? Before Google had bean bags, it was Bell Labs with a lunchroom where everyone ate together and all that.”

And so one leaves Ma Bell at Morven with an appreciation for New Jersey’s role in technological advancement, but maybe more so, an appreciation for the people that made it happen. The personal touches—the hand-drawn illustration of the workspace, the calculator with roman numeral buttons, the visible, hand-crafted artifacts that made invisible communication possible, the recollections of that time in our history written by hand and hung on a wall—leave you with a sense of wonder and awe for all that humans can accomplish and a curiosity for what’s next.

Ma Bell: The Mother of Invention in New Jersey . Morven Museum & Garden, Princeton. Through March 5, 2023.


Fire and Ice Festival

Jan. 28, Downtown Mount Holly

You probably don’t want to miss this ice carving festival and chili contest. The ice carvers transform 300-pound blocks of ice into works of art throughout town, and you get to eat chili from local chefs. That’s not a bad way to round out January.

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

Beyond Van Gogh

Jan. 1-29, American Dream, East Rutherford

Completely immerse yourself in more than 300 of the greatest works of post-Impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh. In this experience, Van Gogh’s art is liberated from its two-dimensional limitations into a three-dimensional experience that exhilarates every sense and brings to life one of the most influential artists the world has known.

Jim Gaffigan

Jan. 6-7, Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre, Red Bank

Jim Gaffigan is a six-time Grammy nominated comedian, actor, writer, producer, two-time New York Times best-selling author, three-time Emmy-winning top touring performer, and multi-platinum-selling recording artist.

‘The Spongebob Musical’

Jan. 6-7, 13-14, Scottish Rite Auditorium, Collingswood

Stakes are higher than ever before as SpongeBob and all of Bikini Bottom face the total annihilation of their undersea world. Chaos erupts. Lives hang in the balance. And just when all hope seems lost, a most unexpected hero rises up and takes center stage.

Downe Township Polar Plunge and Chili Cook Off

Jan. 7, Fortescue Beach, Fortescue

At 2 p.m., folks’ll jump into the Delaware Bay and then head right to the Fortescue Firehall to warm their bones with hot chocolate, chili and cornbread.

Hooray for Herpetology!

Jan. 7, New Jersey Nature Conservancy, Chester

Explore not only some of the world’s coolest reptiles, but also amphibians including frogs, toads, and salamanders from all over the globe.

64th Annual Model Train Show

Jan. 7-8, Garden State Model Railway Club, North Haledon

You like trains? Go see steam and diesel trains of all kinds in this expansive show.

Big Screen Wonders Film Festival

Jan. 7-28, ArtYard, Frenchtown

ArtYard’s Big Screen Wonders Film Festival is a series dedicated to films that demand a giant screen. The festival includes feature films and virtual conversations with artists behind the films to engage the audience. The films will be screened on ArtYard’s two-story-tall film screen in the McDonnell Theater on Saturday evenings in January. Films include Blade Runner, The Matrix, Days of Heaven, and Gravity

Vegan in NJ Monthly Market

Jan. 8, American Legion Post 346, Neptune

Free market for the plant-based with vegan food and drinks for sale.



22 JANUARY 2023

NJ Audubon New Year’s Resolution Hike at Hawk Rise

Jan. 8, Hawk Rise Sanctuary, Linden

Start the new year with fresh air and nature. Join in for an exploration of the trails at Hawk Rise, where an NJ Audubon guide will discuss easy and meaningful ways to get closer to the natural world. This program is appropriate for individuals of all ages. Come dressed for the weather. Hot chocolate will be served afterwards.

Clarence Clemons Celebration Jan. 11, 10PRL, Long Branch

A celebration of the music of Clarence Clemons featuring original members of The Red Bank Rockers with Jeff Levine & Friends.

Traveling Wilburys Lecture

Jan. 12, Cranford Public Library, Cranford

Beatles expert and rock historian Vinnie Bruno is back for another engaging lecture, this time on the super group, The Traveling Wilburys (George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne).

Hiking Basics Workshop

Jan. 12, Paramus REI, Paramus

Go hiking with confidence and experience the outdoors in new ways. Whether you’re hitting the trail for the first time or looking to update your gear, this presentation is for anyone who enjoys a good day hike. Participants will learn how to prepare for a day hike, what essential items to bring, where to explore local trails, and about Leave-no-Trace principles.

The Garden State Outdoor Sports Show Jan. 12-15, NJ Convention & Exposition Center, Edison

MLK Weekend Event: ‘The Price of Silence’ Jan. 12, ACME Screening Room, Lambertville

In this two-part PBS documentary, descendants and historians tell their stories and why NJ was the last northern state to end the institution of slavery. Attendees will be joined for a Q&A with Filmmaker Ridgeley Hutchinson along with Bev Mills and Elaine Buck. Go to njindy.com to read more about the film and to hear from Hutchinson.


Horror Picture Show’

Jan. 14, Brook Arts Center, Bound Brook

The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Friday Nite Specials will have you dancing, singing and shouting. This interactive presentation of the Rocky Horror Picture Show is a must-see for Rocky fans and newbies to the cult classic.

Country Line Dancing

Jan. 14, Laurita Winery, New Egypt

Hosts will call moves and provide lessons throughout the evening. Greenhorns welcome. (You don’t even need boots!)

Ice Carving Exhibition

Jan. 14, Festival Plaza, Pier Village, Long Branch

Introduction to Crystals Jan. 9, Infinity Float, Mount Laurel

In this workshop, you’ll go over basic crystals and all participants will get to choose a crystal necklace or bracelet to keep.

‘The Rise and Fall of The Clash’ Jan. 10, The ShowRoom, Asbury Park

‘The Rise and Fall of The Clash’ paints the fascinating inside story of rivalries, treachery, betrayal and the internal band dynamics and managerial interference that ultimately led “the biggest band in the world” to self-destruct. Featuring previously unseen footage of the band at work and at play.

Time to Create: Open Studio for Adults

Jan. 10, Flemington DIY, Flemington

Life happens! Time for you to re-spark your creativity. BYO materials. $5-10 donation.

This event provides a forum for the entire family and the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts. There’s a Pro Staff Fishing Demonstration on a 5,000-gallon aquarium. Then, check out the latest in boats, outboards, RVs, powersports, fishing tackle and hunting gear all featured on the expo floor. Plus, Chics with Axes, kids zone, 3D archery tournament, endless shopping and much more.

Let It Glow a Holiday Lantern Spectacular

Jan 12-15, Bergen County Zoo, Paramus

Enjoy a walk throughout the Zoo with larger than life lanterns of nature.

Water Pong Team Tournament

Jan. 12, 19 and 26. Madd Hatter, Hoboken

Starts off with a three-game round robin. Then, the best teams move on to either single or double elimination for a chance at the $200 cash prize.

Four professional ice sculptors will create 14 sculptures in an elimination style “speed carving” format over a three-hour period. An emcee will guide you through what you’re witnessing and then sculptures will be judged. Plus, ice skating, food, drinks and more.

Winter Wonderland New Year’s Sip and Soap

Jan. 15, Dalia Handcrafts, Bayonne

Learn how to make exfoliating soaps, loofa and soap blends, and swirling techniques; everyone will have the freedom to choose however they would like to make their soap. There will also be a wide range of options for fragrances, dried botanicals, exfoliants, clays, molds, and other fun add-ons.

Doggy Noses and Yoga Poses

Jan. 15, Alementary Brewing, Hackensack

Adorable rescue puppies and dogs will be allowed to roam freely and interact with you during this one hour mixed level yoga class. Proceeds benefit the Pawsitively Furever animal rescue.

Special Olympics NJ Polar Bear Plunge The Wildwoods Convention Center, Wildwood
The Polar Bear Plunge in Wildwood is a unique opportunity for individuals, organizations and businesses to support Special Olympics New Jersey athletes by jumping into the frigid Atlantic waters.

Family Woodland Hike

Jan. 15, New Jersey Botanical Gardens, Ringwood

Join NJBG hike leaders on an easy, child-friendly hike in the Garden’s woodlands. Learn a bit about the plants and animals around you on a hike designed to fit the group.

Ski and Snowboard Waxing Workshop

Jan. 18, Paramus REI, Paramus

Learn how to wax your skis or snowboard in this hands-on workshop. You will learn how to choose the best wax for the conditions and have expert guidance as you clean and wax your personal equipment. Experts recommend waxing your alpine gear every five trips to the mountain. Bring your own pair of skis or snowboard to this workshop and leave with a freshly waxed base so you are ready to hit the slopes.

The Garden State: Where Ideas Grow

Jan. 19. Morven Museum and Garden, Princeton

Join author and historian Linda Barth as she explores groundbreaking, useful, fun and even silly inventions and their New Jersey roots.

Used Book Sale

Jan. 19-21, Cranford Public Library, Cranford

Who doesn’t love a library book sale? Browse through thousands of books at low prices. This sale is open to all.

Next Level Beekeeping Workshop

Jan. 20, That Honey Place, Woodbridge Township

How do you turn your beekeeping hobby into a sideline business? Find out at this workshop where you’ll learn all about this sweet business.

Pickleball 101 Jan. 20, The Strand, Chatham

In 2022, pickleball was the fastest-growing sport in America. Ready to try it? Now’s your chance to learn how to play Pickleball in a relaxed and fun environment with member Heidi Block, founder of Play-PKL. Suitable for beginners and those more experienced.

Laser Grateful Dead

Jan. 20, Robert J. Novins Planetarium, Toms River

America’s greatest cosmic rock & roll band— from kaleidoscopic psychedelia to homespun country rock to epic live jams and beyond, the Grateful Dead’s songs are woven into a laser light show.


A Rare Ball: Under the Sea Masquerade

Jan. 20, Scottish Rite Auditorium, Collingswood

Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company: Year of the Black Water Rabbit NJPAC, Newark

Celebrate the Lunar New Year with this spectacular experience for all ages, combining traditional Chinese dance with modern flair. The Red Lions dance to a hip hop beat. The Golden Dragon brings good luck and fortune for the coming year. Dancers, acrobats and musicians perform in dazzling red and gold costumes.

This formal masquerade will be “a splash.” The seaweed will be greener, the clams will be jamming and the band will be hot. This event benefits the Zakithi Nkosi Clinical Haematology Centre of Excellence Project Soweto, South Africa.

‘American River’ Jan. 20, NJPAC, Newark

American River captures a mosaic of stories from people who live and work along the Passaic and from the local heroes working to reclaim it. Join in on this epic, 80-mile kayak trip across New Jersey and get to know our historic river and the heroic efforts to save it. Q&A with filmmaker and those featured in the film to follow. Read more on page 17.

The Best of Winter Birding: Eagles, Owls, Ducks and more Jan. 21, Cape May Bird Observatory, Middle Township

With over 10 species of diurnal raptors (hawks and owls) and 25 species of waterfowl possible, there is so much to see in some of the most beautiful and remote landscapes on the Eastern seaboard, which you’ll see in this event.

Bike Anatomy Clinic Jan. 21, Trek Bicycle Edgewater, Edgewater

Get to know your bike! You’ll spend some time breaking down the anatomy of the bike—starting with the bones, the frame and fork, and then move into the things that bring the bike to life, such as the drivetrain parts and components. Plus, there’ll be coffee, donuts and prizes.

New Year, New Reads Book Fair Jan. 21, Inland Family Success Center, Little Egg Harbor Township

Stop by Inland FSC to sort through a wonderful array of books you can add to your New Year’s reading collection. All the books are free of cost courtesy of a wonderful donation from the Atlantic County Library. Open to all families in Atlantic County.

11th Annual LGBTQ+ Wedding Expo Jan. 22, Liberty House Restaurant, Jersey City

Chat with dozens of LGBTQ+ friendly wedding professionals from throughout the area. Plus, food, drinks, raffles and more.

Scott Streble

‘South Football’s Impossible Dream’ Jan. 22, Grunin Center for the Arts, Toms River

South Football’s Impossible Dream explores the rise to glory of a team that competed in an epic battle known at the Jersey Shore as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” On a bitter cold day in November 1969, No. 1 ranked Toms River High School South faced No. 2 ranked Middletown High School before thousands of fans for a mythical state championship. Rare film footage from the game will be shown publicly for the first time.

of the class, everyone will enjoy a sit-down meal made from their own hand.

Power Bottom: The Best Damn Comedy Show in Asbury Park! Jan. 26, Capitoline, Asbury Park

The best and brightest stand-up comedians on the East Coast! Plus giveaways for barbecue and $69 cash.

Sound Healing Meditation with Himalayan Singing Bowls Jan. 27, Onyx Yoga Studio, Warren

This ancient healing tradition offers balance, relaxation and healing at the cellular level. The subtle vibrations of the bowls quiet the ever active mind, and recalibrate our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies.

Viking Snowshoe Invasion

Jan. 28, Mountain Creek, Vernon

Dust off your snowshoes and get ready to charge the mountain at the Vernon Viking Snowshoe Invasion! Ride the cab up to the top of the mountain and then choose to tromp out a 5k or if the ridge is a bit too much, you can choose to go right to the last downhill mile.

Garden State Winter Fest

Jan. 28, The Sussex County Fairgrounds, Augusta

Comics, toys, collectibles, artwork, cosplay and some amazing food trucks will be on hand.

Character Flawed!

Jan. 28, Scotty’s Pub and Comedy Cove, Springfield

This stand-up showcase features three headlining comedians from late night TV and streaming platforms. The show also features local up-and-coming talent mixed in. This dinner show is now in its 23rd year.

Winter Seedling Workshop

Jan. 25, Morven Museum and Garden, Princeton

Morven’s horticulturalists

Raise a glass of hot cider with the folks at Terhune Orchards to honor the trees that provide wonderful apples. The ancient British tradition of wassailing the apple trees to protect them from harm is a popular winter celebration at Terhune Orchards.

Louise Senior and Charlie Thomforde will walk participants through the science and practice behind growing seedlings indoors for spring planting. Everyone will have a chance to prepare and take home their own winter seedling kit featuring a variety of seeds to choose from.

Maker’s Mark Private Label Dinner Jan. 25, Town bar + kitchen, Morristown

A four-course journey through the evolution of Maker’s Mark including four courses of food, Maker’s Mark pairings and a great atmosphere.

Cooking Class: Filipino 101 Jan. 25, Old Bridge (go to maricelskitchen.com for location info)

This is a hands-on class for all skill levels in which you will make a meal of wonton soup, egg rolls (lumpia), rice noodles (pancit bihon), and a Filipino classic dessert. At the conclusion

Close-Up Magic Show with International Champion Will Fern Jan. 27, Lone Eagle Brewing, Flemington

Join in for a whirlwind of close-up magic that promises to “leave your eyes bulging and your sides splitting.” Few magicians in the world combine high level sleight-of-hand skills with a real party atmosphere like Will Fern.

Fly Fishing Show

Jan. 27-29, New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, Edison

Participate in fly tying and casting classes or gather information at lectures by authors and expert anglers, then traverse the convention center where the newest rods, reels, clothing, gear and accessories will be on display.

‘My Fair Lady’

Jan. 27-29, State Theatre of New Jersey, New Brunswick

My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.” But who is really being transformed?

Hike for Human Trafficking Awareness

Jan. 28, Tall Pines State Preserve, Deptford

Hike through Tall Pines Preserve in solidarity with survivors and allies of individuals who are survivors of human trafficking.

Making & Cooking with Paneer

Jan. 29, Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrenceville

In this hands-on workshop you will learn how to make fresh homemade paneer by curdling milk; how to press your paneer and cut it into cubes; and then how to incorporate this paneer into an authentic North Indian dish called shahi paneer


Jan. 31-Feb. 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.


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.

Wassailing the Apple Trees Terhune Orchards, Princeton


How long after a divorce does someone become “emotionally available” for a new relationship?

Someone who initiated a divorce— someone who made up their mind, got a lawyer, and filed the paperwork—is probably going to be “emotionally available” a little sooner than someone who was blindsided when their spouse “asked” for a divorce. (It’s not really an “ask,” since you don’t need someone’s permission to divorce them.) But if the person who initiated the divorce was being abused, they may need more time to recover from the marriage than the “blindsided” abuser they left. And if a marriage wound down after a decade or two and the decision to divorce was mutual and amicable, both parties could be “emotionally available” before they’ve taken their rings off, much less finalized the divorce.

Is being a “vaginaphile” an acceptable thing in 2023? Regardless of the other person’s identity?

Absolutely. Dick is nice, I’m a fan, but dick isn’t for everyone. Same goes for pussy. I find it strange that it’s often the same people who insist demisexuality is valid (and it is) and sapiosexuality is valid (and it is) and asexuality is valid (and it is) who will turn around and insist that homosexuality (being attracted to members of the same sex) or heterosexuality (being attracted to members of the opposite sex) somehow aren’t valid (and they are).

Pro-tips for someone who’s never eaten ass before but wants to?

We’re not going to run out of ass—our strategic national ass reserves are well-stocked—so don’t feel like you have to eat all the ass the first time you try. Take it slow. Suck the dick or eat the pussy of your freshly showered partner, wander down to the taint, then go deep—take a couple of swipes at the ass with your tongue—before retreating back to the taint, giving yourself time to assess, and then dive back in if you’re enjoying it as much as your partner is.

I’m living with my boyfriend’s parents for a few weeks. I need to get laid. Suggestions please?

I would suggest fucking your boyfriend. If you don’t feel comfortable fucking him in his parents’ house, fuck him on their roof, fuck him in the showers at the gym, fuck him in the nearest

bar with a single-stall restroom and a door that locks. Obstacles can frustrate desire, yes, but they can just as easily fuel desire—so long as you have the right attitude about them.

My relationship with my husband—with my everything— is in trouble. We were together for a few years, then he got busted with drugs and wound up in prison, and we lost contact for 20 years. Then I saw his profile on Facebook and we wound up talking for a long time. I hate blow jobs in part because I was forced to give this guy a blowjob when I was a teenager. He says blowjobs are what he desires the most. He has to have blowjobs, that’s his bottom line. I gag. I throw up, I get angry and feel sad. He can’t even get it up most of the time. I want him to fuck me so bad, but it’s just not in the cards for me. He is horny all the time and I’m going through menopause and have no desire. He thinks I don’t love him anymore! Please help! We don’t want to lose each other! At least, I don’t want to lose him. He is fucking me up mentally. He is very persistent. He wants a blowjob every day. Whenever he can get it. I can’t last long enough to make him cum. My jaw is dislocated from my ex-husband. You are my last chance to save this.

Anyone who sees their partner weeping in a puddle of their own puke after they’ve performed a particular sex act and then says, “I’m gonna need you to do that every day for the rest of your life or we’re through,” is an asshole. Call his bluff: tell him he’s free to go but if he chooses to stay, there will be no more blowjobs. I can’t promise you he won’t leave… but whether he accepts your terms (and stops demanding blowjobs) or makes good on his threats (and good luck to him finding blowjobs elsewhere), you’ll be better off.

Is it normal for a gay guy to not be interested in penetrative sex?

Most gay men enjoy penetration (fucking,

getting fucked, flip fucking), but not every gay man is into anal sex. “Some men prefer what’s called outercourse, which is everything except penetration,” said Dr. Joe Kort, the psychotherapist and author who went viral earlier this year after coining a term for gay men who aren’t interested in penetrative sex. “Other people might think of outercourse as foreplay, but that implies that the main act is intercourse, but some gay men aren’t tops or bottoms. They’re sides.”

Best lube for PIV?


1. How many people have had sex with more than one member of the same family? 2. Anyone had sex with every member of the same family? 3. Including the parents?

1. Don’t know. 2. Don’t know. 3. Hope not.

Gay guy here into threesomes and playing with gay couples. How do you tell someone that you hooked up with in a threesome (half of a couple) that you would rather hook up with him solo because you’re not that into his partner? This has happened to me a couple of times recently.

Be direct with the one you’re into without being cruel to the one you’re not: “I would like to hook up with you again, but just the two of us.” If he asks why, be honest: “I’m into you but not your partner.” If they “only play together,” if a one-on-one hookup would constitute cheating in the context of their relationship, well, then you’ll either have to fuck them both again (which you’ll regret) or you’ll have to go find someone else to fuck (which shouldn’t be that hard).

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



Spanakopita @ Market on Main in


Spanakopita (spinach pie) isn’t anything extravagant — spinach, feta, phyllo dough. But when the ingredients are fresh, as they are at Market on Main, no need to complicate things. Unless you’ve been to Greece or your Greek grandma has a special recipe you grew up on, this will be the best spanikopita you’ve ever had.

Hot Roasted Pork @ Brynn Bradley in Woodbury

Brynn Bradley keeps things simple. That’s not to say, the food is basic; it’s to say they make good-for-the-soul classics with intention, creativity and excellence. It’ll be hard to skip the cheesesteak, but if your inclination, like ours, is more toward roasted pork, this is the place to get it. Tender, succulent pork with sharp provolone, house roasted reds and broccoli rabe on an absolutely perfect seeded roll.

High on the Hog @ Thisilldous Eatery in Belvidere

Smoked ham, bacon, pulled pork and American cheese, topped with apple BBQ sauce. The smoke hits you first, then the savoriness and saltiness of the meats, then the gooey cheese (which feels like the right choice for the first time in American cheese’s history) and then the sweet cinnamon-apple and light heat of the barbecue sauce.

Encuyados @ Division Cafe in Somerville

Essentially the Costa Rican interpretation of a croquette, but with a lot more flavor. Mashed yucca dumplings stuffed with pulled chicken (or beef), fried and topped with a spoonful of chipotle aioli. With comparable size and portability, these enyucados are every bit as tasty as empanadas and deserving of the same hype.

Kombucha @ East Bay Kombucha in Manahawkin

It’s a bona fide pleasure to swing by East Bay Kombucha in Manahawkin every month to drop off a stack of NJ Indys, because it means we’re about to taste some primo ‘buch. They have excellent, rotating brews, and a friendly taproom atmosphere (with plenty of brewing) all around. Some of our recent favorites include peppermint patty (really, it works), gingerbread, cranberry orange sage and anything with Delta8 in it. Go here, try a bunch of whatever’s fresh, and leave with a few bottles.


Bankable beer

It’s not something you think about often, but New Jersey has a lot of different communities, and by a lot, we mean 564 different municipalities spread out across the entire state in 21 different counties.

One of these 21 counties is Salem, and for a while it stood out. Not because Woodstown is closer to Baltimore than it is to Asbury Park. Or because of the county’s rural character (you can find the middle of nowhere in every county in NJ, yes even in Middlesex, Essex, Bergen or Camden). Or that one of the best players in the NHL, Johnny Gadreau, somehow is from there.

Salem stood out as the only county in the Garden State not to have a brewery, and that all changed when Farmers & Bankers Brewing opened up in Woodstown in August of 2022. Though it was new to the area, the building it resides in is anything but: A rather large empty bank building.

The building captured the attention of owner Mike Melnicuzuk, his wife, Rebecca, and Director of Operations Clint Brown. Two years ago, Melnicuzuk bought the building and he and a small crew turned the former bank into a

brewery by scratch. Having a brewery in such a place is pretty cool, but, pragmatically speaking, the owners liked how the building was centrally located in Woodstown.

“Mike would always drive by this place and would say how he wanted to do something with this building,” explains Brown. “The building is located in a main part of town, and it’s a cool little building.”

The goal was always to have a brewery in the building, but they had a larger goal in mind as well, and that was for Farmers & Bankers to be the gathering spot for Woodstown and Salem County at large.

“Mike wanted to do something with this building, but he also wanted this to be the neighborhood gathering spot,” says Brown. “We wanted this building to be the gathering spot for the town, and to revitalize the downtown.

“We also wanted to give back to the community, and a dollar from every one of our Reliance beers that is sold goes to our local fire department. We did a beer for ALS, and we have fundraisers for our local sports teams, and members of the community will use this space as a meeting space.”

Farmers & Bankers plays on the local influence when it comes to the beer that it brews. Like Brown mentioned, the Reliance Pale Ale

is an ode to the local fire department. Eight Second Sour pays homage to the Cowtown Rodeo located five minutes up the road on Route 40. The attention to detail is shown in the names of the beers plus the artwork, and also how the beers are crafted and brewed. The head brewer at Farmers & Bankers is Michael Duva, who originally hails from California, but got more into beer at a place that has an abundance of it (not all of it great): Penn State University.

“I did a lot of research in college,” says Duva, laughing. “I went to Penn State. In high school I wasn’t really into beer, but when I went to college I had a lot of pale ale. Over time I grew fondness for beer that was more than just Bud Light.”

Later on, Duva got into homebrewing as a hobby, and the hobby turned into a passion very quickly. Duva learned about the nuances of brewing beer, and realizing how the small things such as water quality can have a huge impact on beer.

“The biggest thing I learned was looking at water chemistry,” explains Duva. “Beer is 95% water, and people think that just because your water tastes good to drink that you can make beer with it, and that’s not true.”

Another major tip that Brown and Duva


learned while touring breweries around the nation was the importance of good flooring and making sure everything is clean. Cleanliness not only looks good for customers, but it also helps the beer taste better as well.

“We went to Denver on a brewery tour, and everyone there said, ‘Do your floors right and don’t fuck them up and think you can fix them later because you never can and you never will,’” recalls Brown. “We spent a lot of money on the floors, but it was worth it.”

Above the pristine floors is the brewing system, a five-barrel system that can hold 150 gallons of beer. They purchased the equipment from Buffalo Brewing Company last year and drove the equipment back to South Jersey during a snowstorm.

The setup is impressive, but how the beer comes out of the brewing area into the hands of the customer is even more so. Farmers & Bankers pays special attention to how beer gets to the taps from the kegs.

“You go to some breweries and they got a 100-foot long chase, where they have to run a pipe to keep the beer cold, and you lose a lot of beer that way; the less line you have to run the better,” says Brown.

And the beer that comes out the taps is pretty solid, and there’s something for most consumers of alcohol at Farmers & Bankers, including for fans of seltzers. The Farmer’s Daughter seltzers include apple, cranberry, pineapple and raspberry.

“We have the four seltzers, and our apple seltzer is probably the sweetest thing we got,” says Brown. “We aren’t allowed to ferment ciders, but we can add apple ciders to the seltzer. We add about 30% local apple ciders to the seltzers. People will drink it and be like, ‘It doesn’t taste like beer, and it’s not like your regular seltzer either.’”

The beer menu is solid as well, and there’s a little bit of everything on the menu. If you’re a normie beer drinker like myself, Farmers & Bankers has something for you, and it’s called the Gateway, which is an American-style hazy Pilsner.

“The Gateway was my idea,” says Brown. “Everyone goes through the point where you are drinking Miller Lites and then drinking more regular beer. I always told Mike I had a gateway beer. When we opened this place, we needed a gateway beer to get people in the area who don’t drink craft beer into craft beer. We wanted to do a Pilsner and have something light.”

People might Gateway themselves into the Cow Tippin, which is a milk stout that

contains pale chocolate and roasted malts. Don’t head back to the Turnpike or 295 without trying it. It even got the stamp of approval from a Great American Beer Festival judge.

“The best beer we have by style is the Cow Tippin’” explains Brown. “A judge from the Great American Beer Festival came in and I thought he was bullshitting, but then I realized he was legit and knew his stuff. He told me I should enter Cow Tippin into the festival. I went out there, and I saw him. He asked me if I entered the beer and we didn’t. I was surprised he remembered me. Next year we are entering it, and we are also entering into the World Cup of Beer.”

Even though Farmers & Bankers has the beer part down, they still face some challenges that other breweries around the Garden State are facing, which is how to navigate the new brewery regulations enforced recently by the state. The regulations limit TV size, events, and partnerships with food trucks. In a sports crazed area like South Jersey, it also limits what breweries can do with regards to viewing parties for Eagles and Phillies games, since they technically count as events.

“We were fortunate in a way because since we just started we were still allotted the same number of events,” says Brown. “But next

year will be hard because of the number of events we are allotted. Like the bar across the street, and we don’t view him as a competitor, but he can have karaoke nights and have bands play every Saturday night. He doesn’t have any limit on the events he can host, but we’re limited by what we can do.”

Farmers & Bankers Brewing is located at 8 N. Main St in. Woodstown. For more info, go to farmersandbankerbrewing.com.


Wrote the folks from Jersey City’s Departed Soles Brewing: “We need to settle this debate once and for all, and what better way to do it by instigating a fight over a few beers? Seems smart!” The debate: whether Central Jersey exists. And, for that matter, whether West Jersey does, and if the Shore counts as its own region. So Departed Soles partnered with two breweries to create two beers: “Central Jersey Does Exist” with Edison’s Cypress Brewing, and “Central Jersey Does Not Exist” with Two Ton Brewing in Kenilworth. By the time you read this, they’ve probably sold out of ‘em. Sorry, but we’re sure they’d still love to hear your thoughts on geographical boundaries.

The Brewers Association, the trade group for the nation’s craft brewers, released its annual Year in Beer report in December, basically a stat-filled State of the Industry. In this report, the BA recounts a year filled with varied growth, continued supply chain disruptions, and increased competition, and predicts brewery openings will be the lowest in a decade in 2023.

Brew Jersey, which we told ya about last month (you know the collab beer NJ brewers are putting out to raise awareness and funds to change our dumbass laws), is now available in a variety of forms at a variety of breweries. Go to beerjersey.beer to find out where you can get some.

Drink this: The Fall Monte

Try the double dry-hopped goodness at Source Brewing in Colts Neck

passion fruit, juicy tangerine wedges, sweet, resinous pine, apricot marmalade, bright clementine, mango and lemon Starburst.”


The Rathskeller in Frenchtown

A clever take on the Full Monte, this version is made with Makers Mark bourbon and Amaro Nonino (a grappa-based digestif, infused with herbs, spices and roots) with lemon, clove, orange bitters and a smoke bubble. Grab it or another creative cocktail at the newly renovated Rat; it’s one of the best watering holes in the state.

Source Brewing’s “Farmhouse Brewery” in Colts Neck has been one of the state’s nicest spots to drink a beer since opening in 2019. While we’ve always enjoyed their brews, the atmosphere and aesthetics, our recent visits have been marked by a run of IPAs that are on par with the best brewers in Jersey.

If you’re a fan of Double Dry Hopped IPAs, you need to pay Source a visit. We suggest giving them all a try, but due to the higher ABV in these imperial IPAs, it’s probably not advisable to experience all of Source’s offerings in one sitting. This month, we sampled the Ultra Galaxy and Mega Cashmere.

Ultra Galaxy: DDH Imperial IPA, 8% ABV. Hazy, juicy, and fruity, Ultra Galaxy goes down almost too easy for an Imperial IPA. Deriving its name from Australian Galaxy hops, this delicious DDH brew boasts a pleasant aroma that hits your nose well before the glass touches your lips. Flavor profile: “ripened peach, tropical

Mega Cashmere: DDH Imperial IPA, 8.5% ABV. Another juicy, hazy Double Dry Hopped Imperial IPA with a slightly higher ABV than Ultra Galaxy—Source’s imperial IPAs are so well-crafted and balanced that you don’t notice the higher alcohol content in the slightest. The alluring aromas of the Cashmere hop are on full display in this super smooth and wildly tasty brew. Flavor profile: “ripe and juicy stone fruits, peach ring candy, soft honeydew melon, lemon-lime mist, tangerine and freshly picked nectarine.”

Worth noting: For folks with more traditional taste buds, the “Source of Light” dry-hopped Pilsner (5.6% ABV) won’t disappoint. Flavorful, aromatic and incredibly well-balanced, this is one of the best session beers you’ll find in NJ.

—Connor Reddington


Go here: Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange

Tucked, somehow, between the bustling communities of Montclair, West Orange and Verona is the 400-plus-acre Eagle Rock Reservation, which boasts several trails for all hiking abilities, lush tree cover (in summer) and unparalleled views of the New York City skyline (better in winter).

Though it’s a recreation area to be enjoyed year-round, a winter trek through the reservation is a unique experience. Start on the easy Lenape Trail on the eastern edge of the park, and as it begins to loop north, you’ll get a pristine view of New York City, unobstructed by the bare trees at the edge of the area.

Though it’s liable to be icy in stretches of the reservation (indeed, you should wear shoes or boots with some tread), there’s beauty to be found in the iced over mini-waterfalls, the thin glaze on the streams and the autumn leaves petrified in iced puddles on the trail.

Now, the trails do tend to interweave, end abruptly and take you in loops if you’re not careful. We recommend studying the trail map before entering if you’re not familiar with the area, because you may end up needing to start following the blue blazes when the reds end, or you may find yourself on the yellows for some reason, only to circle back to blue. A compass, or a phone with service can also help you

navigate, but the reservation is small enough that if you’re not in a rush for time, you can have a mini-adventure using the sun to navigate you back to your car. (Plus, another benefit of winter: you can, when necessary, cut through the untrailed areas to get back on track without fear of ticks or poison ivy).

In total, we walked close to three miles in a little over an hour, hitting all areas of the reservation. Paths are well-cut throughout so, when you’re on one, you should be able to get around with ease (with the occasional need to hop on a rock to cross over a creek, or grab a tree to steady yourself up an icy incline.).

At the end (or beginning) of your excursion, you can check out the 9/11 memorial and sculptures at the entrance of the park, with, again, terrific views of the Big Apple. There’s a higher-end restaurant here, the Highlawn Pavillion, open for dinner all week except for Monday, and brunch on Sunday (bring a change of clothes).

It’s a surprising area to immerse yourself in nature, given the density of the surrounding areas, but for its ease of access, well-maintained trails and lush woods, we recommend it for locals on a lunch break or those looking for a unique weekend outdoor experience.

Eagle Rock Reservation. Eagle Rock Ave & Prospect Ave, West Orange.