NJ Indy - July '23

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You ought to visit The Seed, a remarkable ‘living beer project’ in Atlantic City


Protesting the Governor on climate, Paterson’s restored Hinchcliffe Stadium, The Head and the Heart, craft coffee in South Jersey and more

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


The amount, in millions, the company Solvay will have to pay to clean up its mess of polluting our environment with forever chemicals for decades. Is it enough? Read more on page 6.


Alternative indie band The Head and the Heart shares thoughts on their latest album and their return to Jersey, including a firsttime visit to the Pony on July 9, on page 20.

Kennedy Brock of The Maine on his fond memories of going to Warped Tour, which was an impetus for starting the Sad Summer Fest, which comes to Holmdel on July 14. Read more on page 19.

PLUS: Commentary (pg. 4), Magic mushrooms in NJ? (pg. 8), NJ filmmaker Rob Thorp (pg. 11), Art exhibitions (Pg. 12), Events (pg. 13), Savage (pg. 18), Factory Records (pg. 21), Concerts (pg. 22), Fiction (pg. 27)

NJ Indy is a collective of local writers and creators. We live around the state, but the paper is headquartered in Stockton. Publisher is Matt Cortina. If you want to write for NJ Indy, email him at matt@njindy.com. Any typos in this issue were put there as part of a secret code. See if you can figure it out. Errors or corrections, please email the publisher. We occasionally publish satire; if you can’t tell what’s satire, just assume all of it is.

This is the eighth 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 folks behind South Jersey’s Mortal Minds were in a “really dark, dark, dark place” after the pandemic, but coffee (actually, really good coffee) pulled ’em out of it. Read more on page 25.

Paterson’s Hinchcliffe Stadium is back hosting ball games as of this summer. It’s one of the few remaining Negro Leagues ballparks in the country, so the effort over the last few years to bring it back to life was critical. Read more on page 9.

As the name implies The Seed: A Living Beer Project is not your average brewery. The buzzy Atlantic City brewery does things according to their own compass, placing an emphasis on local ingredients, drinkability and originality. We chat with The Seed’s Sean Towers on page 25.
<<< I remember sweating out in 100-degree heat. You know, I love that stuff. There were so many bands and people that I was introduced to that changed my life. >>>
Credit: Shervin Lainez
Courtesy The Seed

The secret history of ‘wokeness’

In Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, Humpty Dumpty scornfully declares that, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean.”

So, what does “woke” mean? It’s become the pet political aspersion that today’s kooky right-wing hucksters hurl at liberals, but the hurlers would be whopperjawed to learn that it’s was actually coined by and for progressives! Indeed, it admonishes people to be awake to the dangers posed by hate-filled bigots and reactionaries like... well, like today’s right-wing extremists.

Surprising historical tidbit: The first person reported to have used the word was Huddie Ledbetter, the legendary Black blues artist known as Lead Belly. Among his many classic songs was “Scottsboro Boys,” about nine Black teenagers falsely accused in 1931 of raping two Alabama white women. As a Black musician who traveled the backroads of the Jim Crow South, Lead Belly warned others to pay attention when in a viciously racist state: “Best stay woke,” he cautioned.

But—out of blind ignorance, blind arrogance, or both—today’s adapters of the Jim Crow mentality have perverted common-sense wokeness into a verbal whip to lash African Americans, immigrants, Democrats, women, LGBTQ+ people

and all others they don’t like (pretty much everyone who looks, thinks, prays and acts different from them). How kooky? They’ve declared librarians, science, Mickey Mouse and Bud Light to be their evil enemies. “Don’t be woke,” they bark, demanding autocratic, plutocratic and theocratic laws to coerce compliance with their own retrogressive bigotries.

This is Jim Hightower saying: Bear in mind that this is no longer a fringe cult, but the mainstream of the Republican Party, including its top congressional leaders, presidential wannabes and state officials. Actually, you can easily comprehend what these Humpty Dumpties really mean by their “Don’t Be Woke” war cry. Just substitute the word “sane” for “woke.”

The most influential musician you never heard of

When you think of Americans whose music has made a lasting difference, you might think of Scott Joplin, Woody Guthrie, Maybelle Carter, Harry Belafonte... or Roger Payne.

Who? I came across Payne in a June obituary, reporting that he’d died at age 88 (yes, I occasionally scan the obits, not out of morbid curiosity but because these little death notices encompass our people’s history, reconnecting us to common lives that had some small or surprisingly

large impact).

Payne’s impact is still reverberating around the globe, even though few know his name. A biologist who studied moths, in the 1960s he chanced upon a technical military recording of undersea sounds that incidentally included a cacophony of baying, shrieking, mooing, squealing and caterwauling. They were the voices of humpback whales. What others had considered noise “blew my mind,” Payne said, describing them as a musical chorus of “exuberant, uninterrupted rivers of sound.” His life’s work shifted from moths to whales... to the interdependence of all species.

At the time, whales were treated by industry and governments as dull, lumbering nuisances. But Payne’s musical instincts came into play, sensing that the “singing” of these magnificent mammals might reach the primordial soul of humans. So, he collected their rhythmic, haunting melodies into a momentous 1970 recording titled Songs of the Humpback Whale. It became a huge bestseller, altered public perception and spawned a global “Save the Whales” campaign—one of the most successful conservation movements ever.

So, without writing or performing a single musical note, this scientist produced a truly powerful serenade from nature that continues to make a difference. To connect with Roger Payne’s work and help extend his deep understanding that all of us beings are related, contact the global advocacy group he founded, Ocean Alliance, at whale.org.

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 twww.creators.com. ©2023 creators.com.


A community can gentrify without losing its identity— examples from Pittsburgh, Boston and Newark of what works.

How can neighborhoods gentrify without erasing their heart and voice?

It’s an important question to ask now, I’d suggest, since many communities across the U.S. are at risk of losing their historical identities as new people and businesses move in, displacing residents and affecting the fabric of the community. This process is known as gentrification, and while a neighborhood “upgrade” can bring new vitality, diversity and opportunity, that is a win only if existing residents and businesses are not forced or priced out.

How to have the positive effects without the negatives isn’t obvious. President Joe Biden’s 2023 budget proposes a $195 million increase in the Community Development Block Grant program that targets development in 100 underserved communities. By creating infrastructure that attracts new development, some of these projects will likely support gentrification.

I’m an educator, arts administrator and public policy fellow who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and exhibited my own photography nationally. I teach fine arts classes at Rutgers in Newark, where I was raised.

As an artist, I believe that it is important to preserve diverse communities with unique characteristics. Public art is one way to highlight and honor our shared spaces even as we reshape them. Art can help present the values that communities want to project and protect as a way of maintaining and creating great places to live.

Defining spaces

What makes a great place to live?

Or, as urban planner Maria Rosario Jackson —now serving as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts—asks: What makes “a just place where people can thrive”?

The answer is, many elements working together. Accessible transportation, diverse housing stock, good schools and jobs, to name a few. Places and spaces in which visitors and residents can convene and connect, be entertained, engage creatively, and find experiences that expand and challenge imaginations.

Public art projects are at the center of many revitalization projects, and they are crucial to the fabric and vitality of their communities. Consider as just one example Underground at Ink Block in Boston, a project that transformed an ordinary underpass into a place where neighbors come together to honor shared histories and play, connect and create community surrounded by outstanding street art.

Successful projects like this one don’t just happen. Rather, urban planners and community leaders rely on proven techniques that bring them together with community members to practice what urban planners call placemaking, creative placemaking and placekeeping.

First came placemaking

Placemaking entered into the urban planning vocabulary in a 2010 white paper by Ann Markusen and Anne Gadwa for The Mayors’ Institute on City Design.

More recently, the Project for Public Spaces published a Primer on Placemaking in 2022 titled “What if we build our cities around places?”

The paper argues that successful cities need destinations: strong communities with distinct identities to help attract new residents, businesses and investment.

Walkable, safe, comfortable and dynamic public spaces and buildings are key components to the creation of spaces where “people want to live, work, play and learn,” as Michigan State University urban planner Mark Wyckoff argues.

Placemaking began as an economic development strategy focusing on “economic districts,” but recent shifts also call for thoughtful and sensitive social impact focusing on what residents and commuters want, like cultural activities, accessible parks, and healthy and sustainable food sold at farmers markets.

Harnessing creativity

Creative placemaking connects traditional economic placemaking with arts and cultural strategies. Markusen and Gadwa explain that creative placemaking involves partnering with the community to re-imagine a neighborhood while maintaining its social and cultural character.

Movements such as Socially Engaged Art allow artists and community to come together in a public space that encourages conversation around a common goal. Rick Lowe’s Project Row Houses in Houston and the Dorchester Art and Housing Collaborative’s Theaster Gates in Chicago are just two of many examples of this blurring of the lines between art, activism and economic development.


More recently, the idea of placekeeping expands on these earlier concepts by recognizing that having communities at the table when revitalization projects are being planned is key to growing urban environments that have a good chance of keeping displacement at bay. Placekeeping emphasizes learn-

ing what is important to the fabric of the community and how to weave that into revitalization projects.

A former mayor of Oakland, California, Libby Schaaf, said in 2019: “Placekeeping is about engaging the residents who already live in a space and allowing them to preserve the stories and culture of where they live.”

Oakland was one of the participants of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative. This 64-city program has the goal of assisting “cities looking to use art and design to improve street safety, revitalize public spaces, and engage their communities.”

Here in Newark, New Jersey, Audible, an audiobook and podcasting subsidiary of Amazon, has led a dynamic partnership with local leaders, elected officials, stakeholders, residents and artists called the Newark Arts Collaboration. The installation takes the form of 13 murals reflecting the vibrancy and histories of the city’s neighborhoods and the people within them.

Avoiding gentrification

The best way of knowing what a community values is to ask the people who live there.

Community benefits agreements are contracts that bring community groups and stakeholders to a shared planning table. These agreements provide negotiated, binding contracts that help leverage tools such as tax assistance programs and reinvestment funds with concrete community investment plans.

For example, in Pittsburgh, community benefits agreements provided an opportunity for the community and developers to co-shape major revitalization projects beginning with the PPG arena in 2008 and expanding with the renovation of the historic New Granda Theater in 2023.

Any anti-gentrification effort begins with an inclusive process. Under Mayor Michelle Wu, the city of Boston provides another example of placekeeping by promising to learn “what exists, what is treasured and what contributes to the unique characteristics of Allston-Brighton,” a quickly developing neighborhood within the city.

Embracing the heart of the community, honoring its artistic expression, and creating access for the community was key in the development of Frogtown Arts Walk in Los Angeles. And keeping this regeneration equitable is center to Newark’s cultural plan.

To quote Newark Mayor Ras Baraka: “Newark should be the place to be for artists. And, I want Newarkers to benefit from their presence.”

Anthony Alvarez is a lecturer of Arts, Culture & Media at Rutgers University-Newark. This column originally appeared in The Conversation.


For only $393 million, you too can saturate people’s bloodstreams with plastic.

Solvay Specialty Polymers agreed to a $393 million settlement in June for polluting the environment in NJ, including groundwater supplies, with “forever chemicals.”

The state Attorney General’s office announced the settlement, with AG Matthew Platkin saying, “For years, corporations, including Solvay, have put financial gain over our clean drinking water and the health of millions of people. They have blatantly ignored the dangers posed by the ... ‘forever’ chemicals that accumulate in our environment and in our bodies. New Jersey has pursued those who thought they could leave their mess to someone else to clean up.”

In March 2019, the state ordered Solvay to address its pollution, it didn’t and so the state sued them. This is the resulting settlement. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) substances—also

Bill to relax bullshit restrictions on breweries moves forward

Finally, relief for unduly hamstrung craft brewers in New Jersey is in the works.

In late June, the state Senate passed a bill (SB 3038) which would remove a limitation on how many events breweries can host (currently they can only host 25 per year) and allow them to coordinate with businesses that sell food (which, bafflingly, they can’t right now.)

The bill would also increase the number of off-site events in which breweries could participate (so, more beer festivals).

The bill comes roughly a year after the state Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control clarified rules years in the works that limit breweries’ abilities to host events, sell food, serve coffee… in short, compete in a fair market. Those restrictions were lobbied for, in part, by restaurant owners who saw an unfair advantage for the burgeoning craft beer industry, as they were able to enter the food and drink industry without shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more) for a liquor license (fortunately, there’s talk of that ridiculous system

called “forever chemicals”—are manmade substances desired for their ability to repel water and oil and contain fuel fires, and were commonly used to make products like Teflon and Scotchgard.

According to the AG, Solvay manufactured industrial plastics, coatings, and other chemicals with the aid of Surflon, which contained harmful forever chemicals. For more than 30 years, it discharged these chemicals into the environment near its South Jersey facility.

Money from the settlement will be used to clean up contamination, curb ongoing pollution, monitor for more and improve testing.

Though the settlement represents a step in the right direction for industry paying for their societal harms (and comes on the heels of 3M agreeing to pay over $10 billion for its PFAS contamination), environmental advocates suggest patience. The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Clean Water Action and Environment New Jersey wrote in a statement, “We all need to see the details and do a deep dive on them before we say too much, either positive or negative, on the proposed Solvay settlement. No one should be rushing to make pronouncements, it’ll take days if not weeks to be able to make authoritative statements.”

Added Amy Goldsmith, NJ state director of Clean Water Action:

“Solvay knew what they were doing from day one—poisoning people, drinking water and the natural environment with ‘forever chemicals’ that never go away. It is unconscionable. Forcing Solvay to pay up and clean-up is long overdue.”

changing, too).

And although the NJ craft beer industry has plenty of room to grow, the restrictions hampered many small breweries’ abilities to scale.

Wrote the Brewers Guild of New Jersey: “The potential of brewery closures statewide is real. With some breweries’ revenues down as much as 40% over the last year directly due to these restrictions, another year under these arbitrary limits would spell doom for many craft breweries. Beyond the breweries themselves, several local communities and other businesses which benefit from having one or more breweries in their town will be impacted economically. Local charities and non-profits which regularly leverage the appeal and fundraising prowess of state craft breweries will see the money raised from

brewery-related events drastically diminished.” Now, the restrictions were set to automatically renew on July 1, which is after NJ Indy went to press. The hope is the state Assembly and Governor got this done in time, but if not, full passage of the bill in the future will at least offer relief for the industry in due time.


New cannabis data lays bare the faults in our system

It took the state way too long to 1) legalize recreational cannabis, 2) Draw up rules to govern the legal market, and 3) Approve licenses to any business that wasn’t a multi-state corporation. It feels par for the course in NJ, where good intentions and a trudging bureaucracy converge and create problems out of thin air.

Those problems are on display in results from a recent survey of NJ cannabis users by Stockton University. Despite Stockton’s curious (and, we’d say misleading) title of the survey, “Hughes Center poll finds customers give high marks to N.J.’s legal weed dispensaries,” the results indicate a third of us are still buying weed on the street, and more than half of us are at best “somewhat satisfied” shopping in one of the state’s open dispensaries.

The survey found that of those who were satisfied with their legal weed runs, the main reason was because they knew the product was safe. Of those unsatisfied, half said it was because prices were too damn high. Indeed, NJ likely has the highest retail cannabis costs in the country, about twice as much per ounce as dispensaries in other markets.

Interestingly, the survey found that 53% of respondents would be in favor of having a dispensary in their community, which is a slight downturn from previous surveys and relevant as many of the state’s (many) municipalities punted on the decision to allow legal pot shops upon legalization in order to see how the market took form.

Look, you can twist and turn data like this to fit many a narrative; we’d hardly call it an endorsement for the state of NJ’s cannabis industry (not to downplay its importance, but the people who cited safety as their main reason for satisfaction with dispensaries would likely say the same thing about the DMV. That is, a high-quality, safe experience was a given.) The data, to us at least, indicates the state has much work to do to allow smaller operators to open and grow the market, so the price comes down, more entrepreneurs get a start in the field and people stop buying weed on the street.

Climate activists disrupt Gov’s press conference to demand an end to fossil fuels

Activists with Food & Water Watch and the Empower NJ coalition disrupted Governor Murphy’s ribbon cutting ceremony for a climate resiliency park in June. The park is a stone’s throw from two different fossil fuel-burning plants that the state is currently considering allowing—an NJ Transit plant in Kearny and one at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission headquarters in Newark.

It’s a microcosm of the state of environmentalism in this state. On one hand, you have a governor who says all the right things about the climate, supports reasonable green initiatives like offshore wind and electric car infrastructure and sets audacious climate goals like 100% renewable in the next decade.

On the other hand, the state is considering allowing at least seven new fossil fuel projects to go forward, including gas-fired power plants, liquefied natural gas export terminals, pipeline expansions and more. And keen activists recognize this incongruence, and made it their business to call the governor out on this. (A coalition of environmental groups also sued the state over its inaction last year).

We’re feeling the effects of climate change right now, with wildfire smoke clogging up our typically clean-ish air as one example, and so the need to end new fossil fuel projects is dire.

“Days ago, our state was plunged into a critical air quality emergency linked to massive fires in Canada that are yet one more sign of the urgency of the climate crisis we are facing,” says Food and Water Watch NJ Director Matt Smith. “Governor Murphy claimed that his administration is doing all it can on climate action, but this is simply not the case. The governor can live up to his climate and clean energy promises by denying permits for all of the major new fossil fuel projects being proposed across our state. We cannot make meaningful progress on saving our climate if we continue to build new sources of deadly air and climate pollution. Governor Murphy must lead the way by using all of his executive authority to deny these climate-killing dirty energy projects.”

Booker latest to oppose LNG by rail

Sen. Cory Booker sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation last month expressing his opposition to shipping liquefied natural gas by rail, hailing the agency’s decision to pause a Trump-era rule that would’ve allowed for that very thing.

There have been plans in the works to open an LNG export facility in Gibbstown (south of Camden), and ship the volatile material in rail cars through Camden and South Jersey communities. The problem is the cars weren’t designed to do that, the potential for devastation in the event of a derailment is massive and, oh yeah, new fossil fuel infrastructure runs counter to the state’s climate goals.

Food and Water Watch NJ NTSB

NJ lawmakers mull legalizing hallucinogenic mushrooms to treat mental illness

Joe McKay was a New York City firefighter so overcome by survivors’ guilt and unprocessed trauma after 9/11 that he got agonizing headaches no amount of prescription painkillers, booze or other remedies could ease.

After getting diagnosed with cluster headaches, he heard about research out of Harvard that showed psychedelic drugs could help and got a small dose of psilocybin mushrooms from a friend of a friend.

“I had an interesting day,” he said. “But the next day, my headaches were gone. Boy, were they gone! I was in remission!”

McKay recounted his magic mushroom trips with a most unusual audience in June— state legislators who sit on the Senate’s health committee.

He was one of several people who testified at an informational hearing at the Statehouse in Trenton, about a year after Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) introduced a bill that would authorize the clinical production and adult use of psilocybin to treat mental illness and addiction, “promote community, address trauma, and enhance physical and mental wellness.” The bill also would decriminalize psilocybin and expunge criminal records for past offenses involving psilocybin.

In brief remarks at the start of the hearing, Scutari thanked committee members for their “open-mindedness to this important topic that has gained national attention throughout our country with respect to the studies that have been going on with the medical efficacy and benefits of psilocybin.”

The committee heard from five invited

experts: three researchers from Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Rutgers universities, and McKay and another patient whose psilocybin use cured their ailments. The researchers touted its efficacy in treating everything from Alzheimer’s to post-traumatic stress disorder to nicotine addiction.

Jon Kostas is president of a patient advocacy group called Apollo Pact that advocates for psilocybin and psychedelic research for mental health. He told legislators he participated in a 2015 clinical trial on psilocybin at New York University “as a last resort” for alcoholism that he hadn’t been able to beat through other treatments.

“It worked almost like an antibiotic,” Kostas said. “I was sick with substance use disorder, I went to the hospital and was administered psilocybin-assisted therapy by a medical team, and I was cured.”

McKay said he began taking the naturally occurring hallucinogenic fungi after his cluster headaches got so frequent and crippling that he lost his job and considered suicide. He now takes a dose twice a year to keep his headaches at bay for good.

“Psilocybin gave me my life back,” McKay said. “I had a giant sledgehammer to beat the beast that took my life away.”

Legislators had all sorts of questions for McKay, Kostas and the others who testified, from how long psilocybin lasts in one’s system (typically less than 24 hours) to whether people experience flashbacks or “bad trips” (sometimes in “uncontrolled recreational settings”) to whether LSD or other psychedelics are being researched (yes, but none have gotten as far in studies and acceptance as psilocybin).

Anyone wandering unaware into the

hearing might have been mystified by the testimony, given legislators’ recent moves to crack down on other drugs and fine-tune the state’s marijuana legalization law after concerns of underage users flaunting their illegal cannabis use. But even those typically known for their anti-drug stances—from Republicans to the federal government—have embraced the possibilities of psilocybin.

One co-sponsor on Scutari’s bill is Republican—Sen. Holly Schepisi of Bergen County—while other lawmakers in Republican-led states like Utah have commissioned studies. The federal Food and Drug Administration recently issued new guidance to researchers doing clinical trials on psilocybin and other psychedelic drugs, which an FDA official said “show initial promise as potential treatments for mood, anxiety and substance use disorders.”

Oregon became the first state in 2020 to decriminalize psilocybin and legalize its clinical use. California lawmakers recently advanced legislation to do the same.

Caroline Dorsen, an associate dean at Rutgers School of Nursing, told committee members Monday she hopes New Jersey will act too.

“Psilocybin is not for everyone. It is a powerful drug that must be taken in a way that minimizes risk and maximizes benefit,” Dorsen said. “But it is a much-needed tool in what is currently a very small toolbox of options for people who are struggling. As a nurse, my biggest fear is that we have a treatment to alleviate suffering sitting right in front of us, but that we are not going to use it because of unfounded fears, myths, stereotypes and stigma. I hope that this is not the case in New Jersey.” This article first appeared in NJ Monitor.


For baseball fans in Paterson, a near three-decade-long offseason finally came to an end earlier this year.

On Sunday, May 21, the New Jersey Jackals defeated the Sussex County Miners 10-6 in their home opener. For Jackals’ fans, you couldn’t have asked for a better opening day: beautiful weather (sunny skies and mid 70s), an entertaining game featuring plenty of offensive fireworks— including 10 home runs—and, most importantly, a win in their new home. Yet holding greater significance than the result of a Frontier League (independent professional league) contest is the reopening of Silk City’s historic Hinchliffe Stadium.

A multi-purpose stadium with a rich history of hosting sporting events and other forms of entertainment, Hinchcliffe is perhaps most often recognized for its ties to Negro Leagues Baseball. Utilized as a home field for the New York Black Yankees, New York Cubans and Newark Eagles in the 1930s and ’40s, Hinchcliffe hosted countless legends of the game including Josh Gibson, Satch-

el Paige and Paterson’s own, the late Larry Doby.

An elite player for the Newark Eagles during his time in the Negro leagues, Doby earned baseball immortality when he broke the American League color barrier just three months after Jackie Robinson famously performed the same feat in the National League. Doby would go on to play for three different teams across 13 seasons in Major League Baseball, was named an All-Star seven times, had his number (14) retired by the Cleveland Guardians (formerly the Indians), became MLB’s second ever black manager in 1978 and was ultimately inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998. Simply put: few people have had a greater impact on the game than Doby, and few ballparks can boast a legacy that’s on par with Hinchcliffe Stadium. Having been shuttered since 1997, the magnitude of Hinchcliffe’s restoration/ reopening has commanded extensive coverage by both local and national media outlets. A ribbon-cutting ceremony held the Friday before opening day was attended by a host of politicians, former players and celebrities

including Cory Booker, Willie Randolph and Whoopi Goldberg. With all of the attention surrounding the project, we had been brimming with anticipation to take in a game and report back on our experience at the iconic park in Paterson.

Inside the Facility

The Hinchcliffe neighborhood redevelopment project is technically still a work in progress. Yet to come are a food court and the Charles J Muth museum, which will highlight the park’s history, especially its connection to the Negro Leagues. One thing that is irrefutable after attending opening day: the stadium, with its detailed restoration complete, looks incredible.

The internet is littered with pictures of the institution’s former state of disrepair prior to the start of the project. If you’ve never seen those images, just imagine a forest (riddled with debris and graffiti) emanating from the stands, and a cracked, badly-worn layer of blacktop covering the area where you’d expect to see the field of play. Considering the

Inside the reopened Hinchcliffe Stadium in Paterson, one of the few remaining Negro Leagues ballparks

way it looked just a few years ago, the notion that Hinchcliffe could be brought back to life in its current form is all but inconceivable.

While many redevelopment projects fail to properly preserve historical sites, Hinchcliffe looks nearly identical to the images from its heyday. Apart from some modern amenities (updated bathrooms, scoreboard, etc.) and a few additions to the structure, visitors can’t help but feel the history as they walk around the classic, Art Deco venue.

Going There

Although Hinchliffe’s reopening, and the luring of a professional baseball team to Paterson, has been a seemingly positive story thus far, there are naysayers. Some of the biggest concerns raised by detractors (baseless or otherwise) have been related to logistics and security: ease of access to the stadium, parking, fan safety, etc. While the aforementioned issues could hypothetically deter potential visitors and thereby compromise the venue’s success, our recent visit certainly poked holes in the validity of those concerns.

Due to non-game-related traffic earlier in our commute to the stadium, we arrived at the parking deck (1 Jasper St.) adjacent to Hinchcliffe with just five minutes to spare before the first pitch. Anyone who has been to a professional sporting event will tell you that there’s not a shot in hell you’re finding parking, buying a ticket, passing through security and navigating to your seat in five minutes…and we didn’t. We did, however, do all of the above expeditiously enough to catch the final out of the top half of the first inning—a small miracle, really. Now, the attendance for opening day was nowhere near capacity but, nevertheless, a tip of the hat is due to stadium staff for their competence and professionalism.

Speaking of traffic: from our exit (56B) off Route 80 until roughly one block from the ballpark, the only backup we experienced was due to a stoplight, and that lasted less than a minute. The short drive through Paterson was without issue, and approaching the parking area (typically a slow creep in bumper-tobumper traffic at any sporting event) was virtually smooth sailing—almost conspicuous-

ly easy. As for safety, and again we can only speak to our experience, there wasn’t a point during the game, our drive, walking to and from the parking lot, or exploring the inside/ outside of the stadium where we felt even remotely unsafe. It’s also worth noting that from what we witnessed, the crowd (predominantly young families) moved in and around the park without issue or threat of any danger.

The Experience

Peering out over the wall in left center field at a looming Garrett Mountain and the faint outline of New York City’s skyline in the distance, one can’t help but be impressed by the objectively striking views at Hinchcliffe— the surroundings added quite a bit to the overall enjoyment of a day game. The cost, as is customary at minor

The dimensions, abundance of poles and protective netting, makeshift barriers and odd angles are unfortunate but largely easy to ignore. The obstructed views and distance from the playing field in some sections are a tougher pill to swallow. For example, the most coveted tickets at every ballpark are the field level box seats, situated as close as possible to the field along the first or third baseline, or the scout seats behind home plate—this is not the case at Hinchcliffe. First of all, the layout of the track surrounding the field pits fans along the first baseline quite a distance from the action. Moreover, the absence of sunken dugouts means that the benches for both teams are located at field level and obstruct views from what should theoretically be the best seats in the house. We’d actually discourage buying front row seats at Hinchcliffe as the sightlines are far better from a little higher up. For our money, 5-7 rows behind the visitors’ dugout on the third baseline are where you want to be.

Does this mean that you can’t enjoy a baseball game at Hinchcliffe Stadium?

league games, was a bargain: two tickets, two beers and parking in a deck next to the stadium (no more than a two-minute walk from the car to the ticket office) all for $60.

If we had to, for the sake of impartiality, provide one knock on an otherwise outstanding experience at Paterson’s historic park, it would be the field layout. Prior to this season, the NJ Jackals played home games at Yogi Berra Stadium on Montclair State University’s campus. While the park, named after former Yankee great and hall of famer Berra, can only hold 5,000 spectators, it’s a facility designed exclusively for baseball and offers fans optimal seating and sightlines for in-game viewing. Conversely, the larger Hinchcliffe Stadium—though teeming with cultural relevance and inextricably connected to the fabric of American baseball—is a multi-sport venue and not quite as accommodating for watching baseball as its counterpart on MSU’s campus.

Absolutely not. We had a great time and highly recommend scheduling your visit as soon as you can. Furthermore, while it’s easy to get caught up in the minutiae of sightlines or logistics, the most significant aspect of the stadium’s restoration—more pressing than history or any professional baseball agenda as far as we’re concerned—is its impact on the youth of Paterson.

Of course we want to see the NJ Jackals have great success for their sake; but our hopes are invested in their business mostly because if Hinchcliffe’s viability as a venue is secure, that ensures student athletes and their families will have an incredible resource (the Paterson school district is allotted 180 days per year to reserve the stadium for its high school teams), an athletic facility unlike any other, at their disposal for years to come. You can’t overestimate the profound influence a hub like Hinchcliffe can have on a community, particularly in a city like Paterson that has been routinely abused by the public and private sector alike for as long as any of us can remember.

With that in mind, we’re all big Jackals fans now and will return to Hinchcliffe every chance we get.


In conversation with NJ filmmaker Rob Thorp

Rob Thorp sits down every evening for a couple of hours and writes. He might be working on a new script, a short story or, of late, a novel. His practice begins with writing by hand, which allows him to slow down before jumping onto his computer. Monday through Friday, Thorp dives into his writing practice after a full day of teaching high school English and film studies classes in Bridgewater.

“I’m very blue-collar about art,” Thorp says. “I don’t believe in waiting for [inspiration]. I’m a daily practitioner. [I work in] achievable pieces so I never really lose the thread. I think that if you just leave it to chance, it’s probably not gonna happen. I didn’t get serious about writing until about five years ago. And I would just do what a lot of people do, like, ‘Oh, I have an idea, I’m gonna jot it down and [wait until I’m in] the zone and feel good about it.’ But then not much [would happen]. I started to take it seriously and love the process. When you work full time and you have other things in your life, you have to really find discipline with it.”

Thorp often diffuses creative blocks through rides on his motorcycle, which clears his head and forces him into the present; though he says, “keeping engaged creatively is usually the best solution” and tries to switch gears when he’s feeling stuck, experimenting with other types of writing to “keep the craft strong.”

Through teaching, Thorp met his collaborator Bill Schlavis, musician and co-founder of their production company, Rucksack Films. Rucksack Films will release their second feature-length film, Shark River, by the beginning of this summer. The film follows a newlywed couple (Julie and Ray) who elope, and while traveling they are met with unsettling, dystopian events that push them to return to Julie’s home of Shark River in Neptune, NJ. Thorp grew up visiting his aunt in the same area, and drew inspiration from childhood interpretations associated with Shark River’s name (like the

assumption that one would find shark teeth in the water.)

I chatted with Thorp recently about his background in film, how NJ informs his filmmaking and the current state of film.

What was your introduction to film? Do you have an early memory of a movie that impacted you and how you see the world?

Both of my parents love movies. My dad was very into the old Hollywood classics, like war films and things like that. On Saturdays, if the weather was bad, there would be a John Wayne movie on or something big like The Godfather. And my mom was into more offbeat stuff, so she would be watching channel 13 or a black-and-white foreign film. I remember her show[ing] me the original Wuthering Heights with Laurence Olivier—I was probably eight, and it had a big impact on me. And then in high school I took a film appreciation class. We watched the Fellini film, La Strada, and I was like ‘Oh man, this is how I see the world,’ you know, through film. And it just hit me like a ton of bricks, that that was what I wanted to do.

You grew up in East Brunswick, and attended the New York Film Academy and took classes at Harvestworks. Both programs emphasized the technical aspects of filmmaking, but what was it like roaming around the city and learning as you went, working through essential challenges like finding actors?

It was a really enlightening experience. I think we all spend a lot of time waiting and wondering and it was good to just get in there. All of the teachers were artists. My writing teacher was David McKenna, who wrote American History X, and Liev Schreiber came in and taught acting.

How has the culture and landscape of New Jersey—and the mythology, if you will—informed your filmmaking?

I think [all of that] has definitely formed me as a filmmaker and artist. When you say New Jersey, I think everyone can at least picture something, as opposed to maybe some other states. It has this interesting, gritty kind of toughness, [and] there’s this weird kind of connection I think people have with [New Jersey] who grew up here and they can’t escape it. It’s got this gravitational pull on them.

One of the main characters [in Shark River], Julie, has this Jersey-esque vibe to her. She’s sarcastic and tough and has [these] qualities that I think so many [people, specifically women] I know in this state have, like my sister and my friends who are like that—creative and a little different. The movie ends on the beach and there’s nowhere else [for them] to go. So there’s this large, edge-of-the-world feeling to [the Shore].

Did you do most of the filming in New Jersey?

Yeah, 100% of it. We wanted to use parts of Jersey Shore that maybe only people from here would totally recognize. We didn’t shoot, you know, the Convention Center [in Asbury Park] or anything. We shot the Belmar Motor Lodge, on Route 35 across from the


Marina, and back roads in Wall.

Any thoughts on current film trends, or things you’d like to see more of?

I want to see people make more messy films. I feel like “indie” films have gotten so perfect and stylized and A24’ed. And they’re gorgeous, but I feel like it’s become this aesthetic end point that is largely unachievable for a lot of indie filmmakers to get to. And I think there’s room for that, obviously, but I’d like to see a lot more room for what used to be on the market. You know, something like Clerks would never be produced today—not that that’s a film I love that much at all. But I like that it exists and, you know, something [that] doesn’t have to look perfect or pretty or adhere to some kind of aesthetic (which is a word that I kind of hate now.) You can go out and try something and it can still be really cool and interesting and it doesn’t have to look like someone curated it.

Rucksack Films has produced The Dirty Thirty (2016, Feature), Shark River (2022, Feature), Ethical Man (2014, Music Video), Goodnight My Love (2015, Music Video), and Max Milgram (2014, Feature script). Thorp’s solo work includes Mali (2023, feature script), Ghostly George (2022, feature script), The Boy Roach (2020, feature script), Leaflight (2020, short film), Pandemic Fix (2020, short film) and Gateway City (2020, short film).

Thorp’s projects have won awards for Best Feature Screenplay at the Paris Play International Film Festival, Garden State Film Festival; Semi-Finalist at the Rhode Island IFF, Austin International Film Festival; Official Selection at the Northeast Film Festival, Beverly Hills International Film Festival; and for Director at the New York Movie Awards, Indie X Film Fest, Milan Film Awards, Hollywood Gold Awards, and Florence Film Awards.


AENJ Members Art Exhibition

301 High Street Gallery at Rowan University, Through July 29

Rowan University Art Gallery welcomes Art Educators of New Jersey, who will be displaying a selection of artworks by their members at the 301 West High Street Gallery this summer.

An Unlikely Garden David Scott Gallery, Princeton, Through July 28

An ambitious show of over 60 works by SEVEN artists from Central NJ and Bucks County, PA; Jean Burdick, Susan Mania, Csilla Sadloch, Alison Scherr, Barbara Straussberg, Ann Thomas, Kathleen Thompson, plus a special guest, Léni Paquet-Morante.

Beyond the Tangible: Non-Objective Abstraction from the Collection New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, Through Aug. 27

Beyond the Tangible: Non-objective Abstraction from the Collection is a new exhibition of 26 non-objective abstract works by 22 artists from the Fine Art collection. Features works created by American artists since the late 1930s.

Coming Home

Camden FireWorks, Camden, Through Aug. 4

What does it mean to return home to the place of one’s birth after many years living elsewhere? Coming Home is an artistic journey of exploration, discovery, and the embracing of self from the perspective of oil painter Brittany Anne Baum. Coming Home celebrates the beauty, resilience and power of Black women living lives of comfort and grace.

Each One, Teach One Morris Museum, Morristown, Through Aug. 27

The work of over 30 artists who have taken part in the meaningful exchange of wisdom, ideas, process, career, culture and more. The works of mentors are juxtaposed alongside the work of their mentees, highlighting the indelible impact the relationship has had on both parties. Featuring sculptural works, paintings, fiber arts, collage, and more.

Meryl McMaster: Chronologies

Montclair Art Museum, Through Oct. 15

McMaster crosses timescales with her dreamlike photographic self-portraiture. Working in Quebec and drawing from her nēhiyaw (Plains Cree), British and Dutch ancestry, she constructs sculptural garments and props to use in her large-format images. Featuring 11 prior and new photographic works as well as poetry and video, ‘Chronologies’ explores the artist’s disruption of time.

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.

Traces on the Landscape

Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, Through Aug. 6

Traces on the Landscape is a multi-sensory exploration of the ways in which contemporary artists depict the natural world. Featuring works by Kelli Connell, Dionne Lee, Leah Dyjak, Emmet Gowin, Deborah Jack, Mark Klett, Byron Wolfe, and Xing Danwen, the exhibition considers the connotations of a “trace” as a motivating principle of photographic practice through which artists engage questions about the body, identity and memory from both personal and historical perspectives.

Where There’s Smoke

ArtYard, Frenchtown, Through Oct. 1

In Where There’s Smoke, project creator Lance Weiler unravels the secrets of his enigmatic father—a volunteer firefighter and amateur fire scene photographer—and two devastating fires that struck the Weiler family in the early 1980s. In the final months of his battle with colon cancer, his father invites Lance to interview him, and these conversations reignite 30 years of wondering… were those fires more than tragic accidents? Where There’s Smoke is an immersive storytelling experience about life, loss, and memory that reveals itself to be both deeply personal and universally resonant.

Meryl McMaster ‘Echoes Across the Field’ at Montclair Art Museum. Rendered black and white for publication.
Ryan Pater and Lindsay Milligan as Ray and Julie in ‘Shark River.’ Photo Credit: Nicolas J. Capra.

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

Cumberland County Fair

July 4-8 Cumberland County Fairgrounds, Millville

The fair features demolition derby rides, games and contests such as the Little Miss and Mister Pageant. Also: a summer craft fair for kids and seniors, food trucks, 4-H events, entertainment and more.

Comedy at Lone Eagle Brewing: Rich Vos

July 7, Lone Eagle Brewing, Flemington

Rich Vos has four specials on Comedy Central and over 100 television appearances. He has been seen on HBO, HBO Max, Netflix, Showtime and Starz. Vos also appeared in Judd Apatow’s King of Staten Island. Lone Eagle’s a unique setting for a comedy show—and, speaking from experience, an awesome one.

Duke Farms After Dark: Fireflies

July 7, Duke Farms, Hillsborough

Don’t miss this unique opportunity to encounter some of New Jersey’s nocturnal species as Duke

Festival of Ballooning

July 28-30 Solberg Airport, Readington

This spectacle is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America and celebrates 40 years of filling the skies with the awe-inspiring spectacle of up to 100 gigantic, colorful hot air balloons taking flight over the Central Jersey countryside. Twice-a-day mass ascensions of colorful hot air balloons, a live concert series featuring some familiar names, fireworks, a nighttime hot air balloon glow, entertainment, balloon and kids’ rides, food, fun and more.

Farms opens its property after the sun goes down. Let your eyes adjust to darkness as you meander while discussing firefly ecology, bioluminescence and conservation efforts. To protect wildlife and preserve the experience for others, you are discouraged from the use of flashlights during this event, FYI.


July 8, Glenmoore Farm, Hopewell

Celebrate all things local with regional musicians, artists, crafters and food vendors, plus wellness activities, workshops and unique merchandise for sale. The fest features a shopping village, an artists alley and four staging areas with live music, performers and immersive educational wellness workshops with yoga, dance, trail walks, horticulture and more. Explore nature, children’s entertainment and unexpected moments of delight.

Haddonfield Crafts and Fine Art Festival

July 8-9, Kings Highway, Haddonfield

This festival returns for its 29th year in 2023 with more than 200 artists showcasing the best of fine art and craft from the region and beyond.


July 8-9, Memorial Park, Maplewood

Maplewoodstock is a free two-day festival of local music and arts put on by your friends and neighbors. It started in 2004 with one day and a few local bands. Over the years, it has evolved to two days, with food and arts vendors, a KidsZone and great musical acts.

Dining Out Jersey Food Expo

July 10, The Terrace, Paramus

Indulge in a wide variety of fine cuisine from among the most popular restaurants and chefs in the area at The Terrace, one of northern New Jersey’s top event and catering venues. Taste wine, fine dining fare, BBQ and more. A cash bar will be available.

Harbor Safari

July 11, Nature Center of Cape May, Cape May

Encounter an incredible diversity of marine life as you help pull a 20-foot seine net through the shallows of Cape May Harbor. You will learn about the ecology of our coastal waters, and about the fascinating and ancient horseshoe crab.


76 Main Street

at the head of the Columbia Trail

High Bridge, NJ 08829

Good Food – all Homemade – PolkaDotCafeNJ.com

Breakfast All Day, Sandwi ches, Cookies, 20+ Ice Creams

Anthotype Printing

July 11, Duke Farms, Hillsborough

Capture the ephemeral charm of our native plants through the process of anthotype printing. This form of alternative photography takes advantage of the fragility of plant pigments under strong sunlight and is often used to create colorful impressions of foliage and flowers. Participants will take home their original anthotype plus a second canvas prepared for a future print.

Newark Black Film Festival: Opening Night Film and Brazilian Party

July 12, Newark Museum of Art, Newark

Join in for a Brazilian party curated by Roger Costa, with free drinks, light bites, a drumming performance by Marivaldo Dos Santos and music by DJ Luciano to celebrate the opening of the Newark Black Film Festival, the oldest Black film festival in the country. The reception will be followed at 8 p.m. by a screening of Executive Order and a panel discussion.

Jersey Proud Poetry Fest

July 12, Jersey City Free Public Library, Jersey City

Jersey City Writers honors home-grown wordsmiths with its fifth annual Poetry Fest: Jersey Proud. Join them in welcoming poets from around the Garden State as they celebrate the words that shape us and the stories we can’t forget.

Ocean County Fair

July 12-16, Ocean County Fairgrounds, Bayville

The Ocean County Fair has been a staple event in Ocean County since 1947. Expect all the typical fair offerings with an Ocean County flair.

Bob Ross Paint Workshop

July 14, Propagate Studio, Stewartsville

You’ll learn the techniques and tools necessary to recreate a stunning Bob Ross scene on your own canvas, all while enjoying the company of other art enthusiasts in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. All painting supplies will be provided, so just bring yourself and a willingness to learn.

Dream Food Fest

July 14, American Dream, East Rutherford

Come and feast on food from over 100 vendors in NJ and NYC, discover local artists and peruse hand-made crafts, and take in music from a wide array of DJs and musicians.

NJ State Barbecue Championship and Anglesea Blue Festival

July 14-16, North Wildwood

The New Jersey State Barbecue Championship is a three-day open-air festival featuring championship barbecue competition, live cooking demonstrations, special displays and food and beverage vendors to satisfy every taste and appetite. The Anglesea Blues Festival features both national and regional blues musicians.

Black Farmers and Artisan Market

July 15, The Cultural Collective Cafe & BrickNKulture Event Space, Woodbury

BrickNKulture Black Farmers and Artisan Market fosters a community that supports and values the opportunity for individuals that are creators, makers and for those that eat the food that they grow. Stop by for wares from farmers, artisans, food pros and more.

Sourland Mountain Festival

July 15, Unionville Vineyards, Ringoes

Every year, the Sourland Mountain Festival brings the communities of the Central New Jersey region together and presents the best in musical talent, local food and drink, family fun—and a spectacular view. Proceeds benefit the Sourland Conservancy, a non-profit that works to protect the Sourland Mountain region. Food, wine, spirits, craft beer vendors and more will be on-hand for your convenience (and fun).

Ride the Farm

July 15, Pine Tavern Distillery, Pittsgrove

A self-paced bike ride on beautiful back roads stopping at three family farm markets. The markets offer plenty of fresh, local produce and farm-made products. Ride distances range from 12 to 30 miles. Volunteers will transport anything you buy back to the starting point, and, at the end of the ride, get a free drink from Pine Tavern Distillery, NJ’s first farm distillery.

Garden State $5,000 Beer Pong Tournament

July 15-16, Zupko’s Tavern, Dunellen

Payouts for the top four finishers in men’s and women’s brackets. Even if you don’t win, you spent a few hours drinking and playing beer pong so that’s pretty good.

I Paddle Camden

July 16 and August 12, Pyne Poynt Park, Camden

Experienced river guides and aquatic sciences fellows will guide small groups of paddlers of all ages and comfort levels on a canoe or kayak excursion launching from Pyne Poynt Park in North Camden. Kids and pets are welcome. I Paddle Camden is not for expert paddlers who want to take a long or rigorous excursion. This event is an opportunity for all to get out on the water for 30 minutes of fun in nature. Oh, and it’s free.


Meet the Curators Tour of ‘Striking Beauty’

July 18, Morven Museum & Garden, Princeton

Morven’s newest exhibition, Striking Beauty: New Jersey Tall Case Clocks, 1730-1830 , is the first of its kind, featuring over 50 tall case clocks that represent almost as many different clockmakers. Take a behind-the-scenes look at Striking Beauty and the clocks on display with Morven curators, Beth Allan and Jesse Gordon Simons.

Burlington County Farm Fair

July 18-22, Burlington County Fairgrounds, Springfield

Horses, cows, rabbits, sheep, goats and other animals are on display each day. Plus, old steam engines, horses, dairy cows and more.

Crab Fest

July 19, Terra Nonno Winery, Millville

Your ticket includes a glass of wine and a crab bag with one pound of crabs, corn, potatoes and kielbasa. Joey DeNoble will be performing. Additional steamed clams and UPeel shrimp can be purchased on the day of the event.

Art After Dark: Fourth Annual Pride Ball

July 20, Newark Museum of Art, Newark

This year’s Pride Ball is going intergalactic, showcasing New Jersey talent from the Houses of Oldnavy, Ferragamo, Telfar, Playboy, Juicy, Armani, Dior, Vintage and more. Drinks and food will be available for purchase. Community partners will be on-site to share information with the LGBTQIA+ community.

St. Ann Italian Carnival

July 21-26, Jefferson St., Hoboken

Go here for the liveliness and entertainment, but most of all go to eat: the festa’s famous zeppole, cheesesteaks, rice balls, wood-fired pizza, fried calamari, seafood salad (and beer garden).

Cutler Street Summer Fair

July 22, Cutler Street, Newark

There are four sections of the fair: a job fair, family zone, wellness and health zone, and block party. Get entertained, get a job, get healthier… just get there.

Fossil Collecting

July 22, Big Brook Preserve, Colts Neck

Join the New Jersey State Museum and Dr. Dana Ehret, curator of natural history and vertebrate paleontologist as he leads a fossil collecting trip to Big Brook Preserve. Dr. Ehret and guests will collect and learn about prehistoric marine life, including fossil sharks. Families are welcome and encouraged to attend. This, by the way, is a hotspot for fossils.

Cape May Craft Beer, Music and Crab Festival

July 23, Emlen Physick Estate, Cape May

Hard-shell crabs, craft beers, food trucks and vendors, crafters, family entertainment and back-to-back music on the outdoor stage at the Emlen Physick Estate. Admission is free. Bring a blanket or chair and relax in the shade near the outdoor stage. Well-behaved pets welcome.

Monmouth County Fair

July 26-30, East Freehold Showgrounds, Freehold

Racing pigs, 4-H shows, music, food, drink, horse shows, “Crunchy the T. Rex” and so much more.

Passaic County Food Fest

July 29, Weasel Brook Park, Clifton

Enjoy food from more than a dozen vendors, plus live music, games and activities for all ages, including a bounce house, airsoft shooting range, bungee trampoline, face painters, Henna by Dana, and more. Thirsty? They’ll be featuring local craft beer as well as wine, sangria and hard seltzers.

Warren County Farmers Fair

July 29-Aug. 5, Warren County Fairground, Phillipsburg

Where else can you thrill to a hot air balloon ride, eat cotton candy on a carnival midway, watch traditional craftsmen at work, get downand-dirty in a Mud Bog competition and cheer your neighbor on in a tractor pull... all in the same place?

Meadowlands Racetrack Seafood Fest

July 29, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford

Enjoy fresh seafood from area food trucks and restaurants. Plus the Backyard Grill and Bar will be featuring a shrimp cocktail and more. Some food options include lobster rolls, fried clams, fried fish, grilled shrimp, shrimp tacos, crab fries and more.

Soulsational Festival

July 29, Veterans Park, Bayville

A free community event featuring music, vendors, classes, crafts, giveaways, a silent auction and more. The market includes music, free group classes, a kids village, art, poets and live demonstrations. Plus, a spirits garden and food trucks.

Learn to Pour-Paint

July 29, Flemington DIY, Flemington

Join in and learn the latest art craze sweeping the country by local artist and musician Chris Zelenka. Students will learn all the basic concepts to create some really cool art pieces; all supplies included, you create your very own amazing piece to keep.



Butterfly Festival

Aug. 5, The Watershed Institute, Pennington

Observe unique and beautiful butterflies in this sanctuary; plus food, drinks, music and more.

Clam Festival

Aug. 5-7, Huddy Park, Highlands

The famous Clam Fest is a three-day spectacular event, with a wide variety of food trucks, along with other festival favorites. Admission and parking are free. Plus, there’s a beer, wine and sangria garden.

New Jersey State Fair

Aug. 5-13, Sussex County Fairgrounds, Augusta

Oh what isn’t there to do at the fair? There’s a “beef obstacle course,” “hot dog pig races,” a lumberjack competition, magic, pageants, a demolition derby and more, plus food, drink, music and such.

Middlesex County Fair

Aug. 7-13, Middlesex County Fairgrounds, East Brunswick

Celebrate 85 years of the Middlesex County Fair with a chainsaw cutting act, comedy hypnosis, “MythiCreatures,” food, music and more.

Salem County Fair

Aug. 8-11, Salem County Fairgrounds, Woodstown

Visit the South… of Jersey, at this county fair with plenty of animals to meet.

Passaic County Fair

Aug. 10-16, Garrett Mountain Reservation, Woodland Park

Rides, bounces houses, petting zoos, a chess tournament—lots to see and do (and eat… and drink) at this county fair.

La Festa Italiana

Aug. 9-13, Downtown Jersey City

For five days in mid-August this old-world Italian Street Festival brings together local restaurants and food vendors, live entertainment, games and rides for the kids and thousands of patrons to honor and celebrate Italian American culture.

TidalWave Music Festival

Aug. 11-13, Atlantic City Beach

This festival on the sand is headlined by Thomas Rhett, Jason Aldean and Brooks & Dunn, and rounded out by a bunch of other country acts.

New Brunswick Heart Festival

Aug. 12, Monument Square, New Brunswick

The festival, which celebrates all of the vibrant arts and history that New Brunswick and the County of Middlesex has to offer, will feature live music, craft making activities and more.

Corn, Tomato and Beer Festival

Aug. 12, Stangl, Flemington

It is what the name says it is: a celebration of the things that make Jersey (particularly this corner of West Jersey) great.

Caribbean Festival

Aug. 12, Monte Irvin Orange Park, Orange

A celebration of the foods, music and activities that make the Caribbean community, in NJ and beyond, unique.

Hi-Tide Summer Holiday

Aug. 18-20, Asbury Lanes and the Asbury, Asbury Park

Join Jersey-based record company Hi-Tide’s unique surf and eclectica acts for this three-day celebration of music that’ll just make you feel good… or, weird. In a good way.

Canal Day Music and Craft Festival

Aug. 19, Hugh Force Canal Park, Wharton

An old-time fair that celebrates the Morris Ca-

nal and its historic role in the area. Learn about old trades like blacksmithing, go for a kayak ride, grab a bite to eat and explore.

One Love Caribbean Music Fest

Aug. 19, Military Park, Newark

Dance to the beats of konpa, soca and dancehall/reggae, savor the diverse flavors of Caribbean food from food trucks and vendors, and explore unique crafts and shopping stalls.

Fiesta in America: A Filipino-American Celebration

Aug. 19, American Dream, East Rutherford

Fiesta in America is the largest annual indoor Filipino event on the East Coast, showcasing the vibrant Filipino American culture, music and products.

Guided Forest Therapy Walk

Aug. 19, Eagle Rock Reservation, Orange

A gentle guided walk with meditative invitations that connect you with yourself and with the natural world around you, stops for reflection and sharing in community, and a closing tea ceremony. Guide is nature connection guide Dr. Irena Nayfeld.

Camp CannaBliss

Aug. 25-27, Camp Sacajawea, Sparta

During this once-in-a-lifetime experience, you’ll explore a wide range of activities that blend cannabis culture with wellness, education and outdoor adventures. Start your day with a yoga session, followed by a guided meditation in a tranquil setting that will help you find inner peace and balance. Plus, crafting classes, food, campfires, nature excursions and much more.



How do furries happen? The kink just seems so random. And why are there so many furries now but no furries in ancient history?

—Fathoming Unusual Roles

Cartoons. Disney. Mascots. While not everyone who gets off on dressing up in fursuits and/or animal mascot costumes has the same origin story, FUR, many furries trace their kink to—many credit their kink to—the anthropomorphized animal characters they were exposed to in childhood. Now, most kids who watch Disney movies don’t grow up to be furries, just as most kids who take a swim class don’t grow up to have speedo fetishes or rubber swim cap fetishes. But a certain tiny percentage of all three groups do. Since we can’t predict which random environmental stimuli a kid might fixate on—and therefore can’t predict whose childhood fixations will become adult sexual obsessions—there’s no controlling for kinks. Some people are gonna be kinky when they grow up, no one’s kinks are consciously chosen, and if they seem random, it’s because they kindasorta are random.

As for the ancients…

Anthropomorphized animal characters didn’t come to dominate childhood (mass media, imaginations) until the 20th century—Disney was founded in 1923, Looney Tunes was founded in 1930—but there were adults running around out there with marionette fetishes acquired at puppet shows before Mickey and Bugs took over. (There are still marionette fetishists out there.) As for the actual ancients, the Roman emperor Nero (37-68 AD) used to dress up in animal skins and pretend to be a wild boar at orgies—according to historians who may have been biased against him—and there are lots of examples of ancient people dressing up as animals for religious festivals and holidays; some of festivals included sacred sexual rites, but some of them were just fuck fests because people are—and have always been—kinky freaks.

I’m a 41-year-old cis female and have experienced a significant amount of physical and emotional abuse in my relationships. I recently started dating again and met a really great guy who told me that he was interested in having a Dom/sub relationship. I thought that would be it and told him so—given my experiences, I wasn’t interested in being his sub—but it turns out he wants me to be his dom. The thought of being the one in control kind of fascinates me and it feels very sexy to think about. But I am so used to worrying about the very scary and very real repercussions of even having an opinion after everything I have experienced

in the past that I’m finding it difficult to navigate this. His interests aren’t in the whips-and-chains wheelhouse; it’s more like wanting to please someone who is demanding and bossy. Do you have any tips, suggestions or resources you would recommend for me to learn more and be the best Dom Goddess I can possibly be?

—Woman Having Extreme Excitement

“Take it slow,” says Midori. “That’s always my first piece of advice: Take it slow. Then take small steps while remembering to center yourself and your joy first.”

An author, artist, educator, and public speaker on sexuality and kink for more than two decades, Midori created the ForteFemme Women’s Dominance Intensive (www. fortefemme.com) to help women explore domination thoughtfully and authentically.

“Everyone talks about new relationship energy, and NRE is real,” says Midori, “but new relationship dynamic energy—NRDE—is just as real. NRDE feels just like NRE in important ways. In both cases, enthusiasm can get the better of us. We find ourselves wanting to do-all-thethings-all-at-once. In our excitement we can bite off more than we can chew, and then wind up feeling queasy and upset after. Right now WHEE should allow the sweet spiciness of all the new and exciting things she’s thinking about to continue to percolate while building confidence in herself.”

Once you’re ready to get started—once you’re ready to experiment—take small steps. “There’s a giant difference between Dominance and submissive play scenes and D/s relationships, even if the names imply they’re the same thing,” says Midori. “I always refer to the latter as Consented Hierarchical Opted-In Relationships, or CHOIR for short—I know, too cute by half—but it’s helpful to make this distinction between saying yes to a small scene and entering into a D/s relationship.”

Even if you ultimately want a D/s relationship, you should start with some simple play.

“Play is about your fun for tonight,” says Midori, “CHOIR is about structures of decision-making that can encompass ordinary daily life stuff as well as play time. It’s common for folks to mix these up, which can lead to unnecessary pressure, confusion about boundaries, expectation conflict, and other decidedly un-fun feelings. This confusion is so common that I have an online class called “So You Want D/s? Now What?” to help people figure out which is which and how to enjoy them both.”

And your first small step—that first playful scene—doesn’t have to look like BDSM porn. You don’t need gear, outfits, or a dedicated play space.

“WHEE should experiment with adding a power dynamic to her already existing sex life,” says Midori. “It’s an exercise I call ‘Will You to ‘You Will.’ Take all the hot vanilla sex stuff you’re already enjoying—the things you’re probably already asking for—and turn the ask into a directive. ‘Will you kiss me?’ becomes ‘You will kiss me.’ ‘Will you lick me?” becomes “You will lick me.’ ‘Do you want to fuck me?’ becomes ‘We are going to fuck.’”

It’s about what you want.

“Think about what would please you,” says Midori. “That’s what centering yourself and your joy is about. Many of us have been conditioned to, in the course of our daily lives, to think of others first and not check in on our own wants. A consensual, collaborative D/s play scene can be a lovely way to break down these self-erasing, destabilizing habits. But to do that—to go there— you have to honestly ask yourself, ‘What would please me right now?’ It might not be something thought of as kinky or sexual. Do you want your hair brushed? You can tell him to brush your hair. Do you want a story read to you? You can tell him to read to you. Do you want dinner cooked and served with him dressed or undressed in a pleasing manner? And then for him to do the dishes? As Westley says to Buttercup, ‘As you wish.’”

To learn more about Midori, to check out her art, and to buy her books, go to www.planetmidori.com. The next ForteFemme Women’s Dominance Intensive takes place July 7-9, and dates for the fall will be announced soon. To learn more or register, go to www.fortefemme.com.

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


Credit: EightyOneTwentyThree

The Maine returns to Jersey with its Sad Summer Festival and a new album

Going to Warped Tour in the past guaranteed two things:

1) That you’ll see some great bands perform all day, and 2) That it usually falls on the hottest or most humid day of the year.

Kennedy Brock (guitar/vocals) of The Maine remembers those days vividly. Of course it’s hard to forget about the dry Arizona heat, but he also remembers how Warped Tour made him feel.

“I remember sweating out in 100-degree heat,” says Brock about Warped Tour. “You know, I love that stuff. There were so many bands and people that I was introduced to that changed my life.”

Brock and his bandmates wanted others to have the same experience they did growing up attending Warped Tour and decided to start Sad Summer Fest.

The festival, which started in 2019, includes a mix of pop-punk, alternative, indie-rock and emo bands. This year’s edition, which makes a stop in Holmdel on July 14, includes The Maine, Taking Back Sunday, PVRIS, Head Automatica, Mom Jeans and more.

There’s a lot of work that goes into putting Sad Summer Fest together, and a lot has been learned over the years running it. Each member of the band has their own role in making it happen.

“We just all fall into our places,” explains Brock. “Everybody has different things that they really enjoy working on within the band or within the construct of this festival. Personally, I love building stuff.”

As we were speaking, Brock was working on a photo prop for the Sad Summer Festival. While going on tour is always cool, especially a tour for a festival that you created, The Maine has another reason to look forward to Sad Summer Fest as well: Their self-titled record will be released on August 1.

The self-titled is the first record that the

pop-punk band has recorded in their new home studio. Maybe it’s because of the comforts of working from home, but the band felt at ease recording the new album. The comfort allowed them to push their limits on this record with familiar faces helping them out.

“I was so excited and happy that we got to work with our buddy Colby Wedgeworth again,” says Brock. “It’s been eight or nine years since we did a record with him, and he produced American Candy and Pioneer. So much of what we do as a band is spurred into existence by constant discussing and discussing and discussing until something forms. We had some talk about what the ideal record would be for us to make right now, and we thought about the ideal person. We loved working with him over the years, and that helped us feel comfortable again, and push the limits.”

Even though The Maine has a distinct sound, they aren’t afraid to explore other genres and use elements of those genres in their music. “It’s a very conscious effort to use different sounds and different people’s brains while making it, and we try to be influenced by a different subset of material that we all enjoy,” says Brock. We just really love music, and we love listening to music. We love diving into music, and so much of our time is spent analyzing songs we like and talking about them. The other day Garrett (Nickelsen, bass) was talking about a podcast I listen to called Smartless with Jason Bateman and Will Arnett. They were interviewing the guys from Radiohead and Garrett and I were nerding out that they were talking about all of these things. And we were like that’s what we do. We just really love the music, and we have a good time. As long as we are making something that we all really enjoy, we will continue to push forward and push the boundaries a bit.”

One of the songs on the album that contains elements from different genres is “blame.” It was a fun song to make for the band.

“We knew we had this really cool chorus feeling and the whole song felt that way, but it wasn’t doing it for us,” Brock says. “We have had ideas for ‘blame’ for a couple years now so it took a pivot when we wanted to change the verses to be something. Earlier we mentioned Radiohead, but we are big fans of really smart moves in music, and Radiohead are the kings of that.

“One of the things I really loved about their band was their ability to combine songs. For me, the influence in that song was Radiohead, but for John (O’Callaghan, vocals/guitar/piano), I think he was referencing a lot of hip-hop. Rap right now is doing a big switch in the middle of songs where they’ll switch mid -ong and the whole vibe changes. I think he was channeling that and trying to influence that song to have that feeling.”

Another song of the new record that came out differently than expected for the band is ‘how to exit a room.’

“The whole idea of the song came out of this idea of bouncing really fast,” explains Brock. “When we actually went to record it was way more different. It was more acoustic driven, but with real drums, and it had a ’90s band vibe.”

The Maine will be coming to Holmdel on July 14, and Brock is looking forward to playing newer songs, and old songs. Brock hopes that fans will be able to create their own memories from the self-titled album.

“I really want people to have their own moments with it,” explains Brock. “I want people to experience their own life and have it be a part of it. Even at the bar last night, I was talking with friends about bands from here like the Format and we were talking about how certain songs bring you back to certain moments in life. It’s so cool that we get to be a part of that.”

The Maine will be performing at Sad Summer Fest at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel on July 14.


Catching up with The Head and the Heart

Recording an album has always been a process for alternative band The Head and the Heart. But along with the normal obstacles that come with making a record, The Head and the Heart have to deal with a rather quotidian concern: logistics.

The band is six members strong, and getting six people in a studio has its challenges.

“I’m sure the record label would say it was hard,” says drummer Tyler Williams, laughing. “I think that’s the hardest part of it because it costs a lot of money to move people around to higher studios, higher Airbnbs and rental cars and all that stuff. I think it’s a shame that in our modern era where it’s easy to record a record if you want in your bedroom or on a laptop with Ableton, it’s a lot harder to put six people in a room [with] instruments and make it effective, sound good and pay for it. So I think we’re very lucky that we get to do it on this level because a lot of people are going the opposite direction of that.

“We don’t feel like it is hard to record the six of us; it just feels natural. It’s what the band has always done, and it feels like we’re the last of a dying breed. I’m hoping we inspire more people to do that and hold that conviction line instead of taking the easy way out.”

Every Shade of Blue, the band’s fifth album, which was released last April, was an interesting one to record. The band was separated by time zone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It didn’t stifle the band’s creativity, though.

“Yeah, I mean that was definitely the weirdest record to make,” says Williams. “You’re in the middle of the pandemic, you’re all spread across the country. I was living in Nashville at that

point. Joh (Russell, vocals) was in San Francisco, Charity (Rose Thielen (vocals/violin/guitar) was in Seattle, Chris (Zasche, bass) was in Eastern Washington, and Kenny (Hensley, piano) was in LA. So, literally nobody lived in the same city. And we basically got remote recording setups and set up on the studios in our houses, learned how to mic, learn how to engineer ourselves, our own tracks, and we had our front-of-house sound guy sort of compile and be the go-between for everyone; he would just put all the tracks together and then we’d kind of go from there. So it was a really weird learning experience. I don’t think anyone had done that before within our band—like, setting tracks and adding the tracks remotely. We’re used to being in a line band, and we’re used to being in the same room as each other.”

But sometimes doing this differently can bring a unique spark of creativity; the band discovered this while recording Every Shade of Blue

“It was daunting and there were a lot of hurdles, but it was also really creative,” says Williams. “And I think that’s why it ended up being a 17-song record. It was almost like a creative dump that we needed to get that energy out that was during the pandemic and then move on to the next phase. I mean, I am really proud of it. I’m really happy and I think some of the songs on there are the best we’ve ever done. The title track is one of my favorite songs that we’ve ever created. So it’s exciting and now we kind of come out of the pandemic feeling a little unburdened and looking to the future and not necessarily pulling onto all of these older songs.”

The title track, “Every Shade of Blue,” served as a reminder that even though times can be tough, we never go through anything alone.

“It felt like exactly what we want to say at this moment in time that there’s a pandemic,”

says Williams. “And last year’s been really hard; like, promises break, but we’ll get through it. So it had this kind of rallying cry for the band a little bit like we may be spread out, we may not see each other, we may not be able to tour, but we’ll get through it together.”

Another song that holds a lot of value for Williams is “Virginia (Wind in the Night),” which is an ode to their home state.

“That song has sentimental value for John and I,” says Williams. “ I think all of our band members love Virginia now after being indoctrinated by our stories about it.”

Even though the band sings Virginia’s praises, it wasn’t always easy in the music scene down in the Old Dominion. The scene in Richmond, where Williams, resides had to be built up. “When we first started in Richmond, it wasn’t super supportive,” remembers Williams. “Then I moved back around 2011 and it kind of had evolved and around to a point where Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb Records were doing stuff. I started managing Lucy Dacus there and she kind of blew up out of Richmond. So it turned into a really great community of supportive people. You couldn’t even list all the important players who have come out of Richmond in the past 10 years. But everyone’s out there doing their thing and it’s amazing to see where everybody’s got to.”

There seems to be a dichotomy with capital cities. On one end, you have Denver, Atlanta, Austin and Columbus, which have a lot of things to do; and on the other, there’s Albany, Dover, and Harrisburg, which leave a lot to be desired. (We’ll punt on Trenton.) Richmond, according to Williams, might be thought of as the latter, but is moving toward the former.

“Richmond’s actually really cool; it definitely punches above its weight in regards to music and food and art,” explains Williams. “There’s a really great art school in town called Virginia Commonwealth University. So you kinda have this influx of young, hungry artists every year who come and try to make their mark on the city and then they leave and go make their mark on the world. But you have this refreshing of energy every year and I think it really contributes to that excitement and the newness of what Richmond brings.”

On July 9, The Head and the Heart will be playing at the Stone Pony Summer Stage with the Revivalists. Despite numerous trips to Jersey this will be the band’s first Pony show.

“We played a set at Sea. Hear. Now. last year, and there was something magical about that night,” explains Williams. “We walked away feeling like we got a little bit of that New Jersey shine that Springsteen seems to get. You guys love music, and it’s incredible. We played Maxwell’s before, but not the Stone Pony, which is wild. So this will be our first time on the outdoor stage as well.”

The Head & the Heart will be playing at the Stone Pony Summer Stage on July 9 with the Revivalists.

Credit: Shervin Lainez

It feels like a dream. A big, gray cube of a building. Open the door and the Beach Boys are blasting. Walk around the corner and there’s an arcade game on the rafters, a vintage Coke machine in the corner. And rows upon rows of records. The odd ones catch your eye— the one with the woman alien fighter, the Christmas album from the band you didn’t think made those. The Eagles.

And then around the corner, the coolest venue you’ve never heard of. A small stage with vintage, beautifully upholstered chaise lounges and armchairs plucked straight from Oscar Wilde’s imagination.

Then, suddenly, you’re in a working picture frame factory? This is how dreams work—they don’t necessarily line up in sight, but some synapses went rogue and put the two together.

This is Factory Records in Dover. That looks and feels like a dream makes sense; for Ethan Reiss, that’s how it all started.

“I had reached the end of the line. Divorced, [but then I] met up with my dream girl from high school. And everything took shape in my life. And then all of a sudden, that dream girl just didn’t turn out to be the dream girl that I had fabricated in my mind. And that’s when I had this dream,” Reiss says. “This dream kind of led me to this place where I was taking photographs and I was sending these postcards to her, and each postcard was a letter. And when she realized it, she put them in order of the postmarks, and it spelled, ‘I love you.’”

It was just a dream, and Reiss never made those postcards and the relationship ended. Poof, the reverie gone. Then, afloat after he left a fulfilling job and without a partner, he felt lost: “I didn’t care if I didn’t live another day. That’s how I felt.”

What pulled him forward was a prompt from the dream: take photos. So he went to Palisades Park of Nature and started walking around with a camera. Images appeared in his surroundings—letters formed by tree limbs and rock cracks and fencing and flowers. He shot the whole alphabet.

“That walk in nature and photographing those letters kind of pulled me back and almost gave me a feeling of purpose, and compelled me

to do something with it,” he says. “When I was driving, I saw the sign [for] Birchwood Manor. My sister used to work there, and it said a craft show [was happening]. I never stepped foot in a craft show, but I went to that craft show and, son of a bitch, I sold like a $1,000 worth of these photographs.

“And at that point, I had already depreciated my entire life savings, everything. I walked away from everything. And when I made that $1,000, I realized, ‘Hm, I could maybe do this. I could make a living doing this. I could live on $1,000 a week.’”

His photos of unique lettering—which people could spell out in their family’s name, their favorite place, words of encouragement, whatever— took off. He credits the intimate nature in which he found photography and the pure expression of that creation for his success.

“They would just be, ‘Wow, you’re amazing. You’re a photographer.’ Like, no, I’m not a photographer. And, the only way that I could describe it to people is like a book writer. Just about every book, or every movie, comes from someone that gets in touch with whatever it is, whether it’s love or whether it’s hate. Most of them are all written from the soul. And with this art, the only photographs that I could take were the ones that touched me, the ones that I could feel, and they proved to be the most successful. So as far as being creative or being an artist, it really boils down to just getting in touch with your feelings, with your soul. And it’s a love, it boils down to just it being a love. And either you can feel it or you can’t,” he says.

Soon he was ordering a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of frames for his photos from Helrick’s Framing in Dover, and the opportunity arose for Reiss to buy in. It was a natural fit, and Reiss pushed different-sized frames into the company’s repertoire to both accommodate his photos and a variety of other odd-shaped but common items that the market hadn’t created yet.

Now, even with business booming, Reiss isn’t the sort to rest on his laurels. He’s a serial entrepreneur and tinkerer—taking apart electronics, building robots, working on Volkswagens. His first brush with music coincided with his entrepreneurial streak—when his mother met a guy in a polka

band, he started to do the lights for their shows. He ended up starting a lighting business through that experience.

“The singer gave me this box with three lights in it: red, blue and green,” he says. “And attached to it was this big, long wire. He gave it to me and said, ‘Just do the lights.’ And I thought that was fun, but I needed more, I needed better. So I started buying lights myself and creating a light show. And that just gave me something I loved.”

Suffice it to say, when opportunity knocks, Reiss answers. And he has the rare ability to find and create opportunity in unique ways when that itch to grow takes over.

“No matter how successful you are, you’re never successful enough,” Reiss says. “You’re never making enough, you’re never working hard enough. And I think that’s always the case. “

Being mindful also led him to records. His daughter Des had begun working with him in the framing business, and said she needed some 45s to accommodate requests. So he went out and bought a few and went through them with his daughter, who happened to love music and had furnished her room with all sorts of music memorabilia—records, posters, tickets, etc.

Her passion, and the need to find more vinyl material, inspired him to do take a plunge into records. He bought out a record collection from a record show, then drove up to New Hampshire and bought another collection with a hundred thousand pieces.

“On the way back, I called Des. I said, ‘Des, uh, what do you think about opening up a record shop?’

It was a bit of a surprise leap for Reiss, but he felt called to it because the feeling he got buying and being around records fulfilled something inside him.

“It wasn’t planned,” he says, “but I think the experience of touching and feeling those records put me back in touch with my childhood.”

Once Reiss gets a feeling about something,

Dover’s Factory Records, with its unique vibe and intimate concert venue, ‘brings people together’

he tends to go all in—surely, that’s part of his success in a variety of businesses: “I grab a hold of something and I just gotta have it all,” he says. He likens it to wine: “I love wine. There is an expression in the collecting world, which is ‘don’t become a victim of your own greed.’ And that’s what I’ve become... I want every record out there.”

Now, all of this would be for naught if the record store Reiss created wasn’t special; if it wasn’t worth the drive to Dover. So he and his family and team set about making it a place folks might want to congregate in—the vibe is critical for a record store, of course. Factory Records did that in a few ways, by including the aforementioned decoration of vintage memorabilia, well-managed record sections by genre, playing good music and having fun with customers who come in. Seriously, folks are having interesting conversations while they’re in there.

“Experience is almost as, or if not more, powerful than the product. So if you create this environment, this experience where people enjoy just walking into, then they’re gonna shop. That’s what I’m hoping to accomplish here, [that] this place makes you feel a certain way that you want to be here,” Reiss says. “It’s not just one of those stores where you can go and shop, because if we were that, then why even come, you can go and shop and do the same thing online.”

The joy of record shops is the opportunity for discovery—to find a unique album, or one of your favorites, or something you didn’t know existed. Often, though, and certainly online, records are just too damn pricey. In my experience, at least, Factory prices things on the lower end of record stores, so it’s got that going for them, too.

They also furnished a side room with furniture and a stage—the venue hosts music and comedy on a fairly regular basis, with sundry food and drink items for sale, plus unique giveaways (like record sets, autographs, photos, etc.) included in ticket prices.

“That’s what the lounge is all about. It’s bringing people together, allowing them to enjoy and experience something that they may not necessarily be a part of,” Reiss says. “So if you’re not a part of looking at records, at least you can be a part of the experience of having a coffee or having a tea or whatever.”

So, yes, it’s unique to launch a record store out of a picture frame warehouse. But Reiss is unique. It makes sense. And Factory Records exists because of his unique desire to keep exploring, and to keep his mind open to new opportunities.

“I’m not where I want to be yet, and I don’t even know where I want to be. I just know that I’m right here and I’m on this path, and this path is leading me somewhere,” he says. “Do I know where? No, but I’m on the journey. That’s all it is, a journey. I think it would all end if I knew where I wanted to be. And as long as I don’t know where I want to be or don’t know where I’m going, it’s fun and it’s exciting.”


Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park

7: Cupcakke

8: Driveways

12: Matthew Curry

14: Getlost

15: Nick Lowe

16: Allen Stone

22: Surfing for Daisy

29: Natalie Farrell

House of Independents, Asbury Park

7: Nicotine Dolls

8: Unholy

14: Los Nuevos Reyes Del Reggaeton

16: Less Than Jake

19: Jonny Craig

20: Cro-Mags

22: Horsegirl

30: Mest

Low Dive, Asbury Park

7: An evening with SWALTH

13: Sonic Blume & Special Guests

15: Wolfspeak, Shut Up!

16: Soul Project NOLA

21: Mr. Ticklehands

28: Levy Okun, Ella Ross, Bottled Bonde

29: Von Mons, Ribeye Brothers

Stone Pony, Asbury Park

7: Trey Anastasio

9: The Head and the Heart

12: Ripe

15: Yungblud

20: Reverend Horton Heat

22: Bouncing Souls

25: Alice Phoebe Lou

Trinity Church, Asbury Park

15; Town Liar, Crossed Keys, Jonathan Francis, Magic Ghrelin

Anchor Rock Club, Atlantic City

7: Marah, Ma’aM

15: Meridian Brothers

22: Kitofest

23: Joy Riding, Carte Blanche, The

1910 Chainsaw Massacre

28: Los Nuevos Del Reggaeton

29: June’s Landing, Via Ripa, The Azures, The Goons

30: Dave Damiani

Bird & Betty’s, Beach Haven

10: Des and the Swagmatics

12: Easy Honey

14: Kristen and the Noise

15: Cat 5

17: The Danksters

19: Chevy Lopez

21: Stealin Savanah

29: Split Decision

Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint, Cedar Grove

15: Mourning Coffee, The Sigils

29: Don Sparks

Dingbatz, Clifton

7: Enuff Z’Nuff

8: Sacred Oath

12: Black Heart Society

13: Kickin Valentina

14: Cyborg Amok

16: Noise Boys

20: May They Rest

22: Gematria

Factory Records, Dover

8: ’90s Tribute Event with Jar of Flies and Lounge Act

16-17: Factory Madness Sale

29: Debacle with Ruby West and Indigo Sky

30: Deep Groove Jazz Trio

Flemington DIY, Flemington

9: Austin & Amanda, Kathy Moser & Hope Dunbar

11: Improv Jam

15: Hex Cassette

16: Open Jazz Jam

20: Open Bluegrass Jam

21: Radiator Hospital, Paper Bee, Civic Mimicall

22: Invalids

White Eagle Hall, Jersey City

13: KFC Radio

14: Thaikkudam Bridge

20: Kurt Vile and The Violators

22: Jesse Uribe

Jimmy’s Lounge, Kearny

15: ill bill

20: Spike Polite, Sewage NYC, Off

My Meds, Friend Z, Flat Iron

29: Punk Rock Throwdown

Mayo PAC, Morristown

11-12: Doobie Brothers

12: Joshua Van Ness

18: Andy Grammer

20: Donny Osmond

25: Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo

27: Herman’s Hermits

28: Herb Alpert and Lani Hall

QXT’s, Newark

13: That Nu-Metal Band, Planetary Alignment, Zaki Ali, Diamond


21: Incognito Theory

22: Cenotaph, Horrific Visions, Architectural Genocide

NJPAC, Newark

15: New Jersey Symphony

20: Sugarhill Gang

30: Franco Escamilla

State Theater, New Brunswick

8-9: The Doobie Brothers

29: The Beach Boys

8/1: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Count Basie Center for the Arts, Red Bank

8: Brandi Carlile

Starland Ballroom, Sayreville

14: Dr. Bachlava and the Human Growth Hormone

South Orange PAC, South Orange

12: Gravy Train

19: Water Towers

26: Blues People

Stanhope House, Stanhope

14: Chris Borelli

15: Pronto

22: Strange Behavior

28: Travis Reid Ball

29: Samsara, Batardane

Debonair Music Hall, Teaneck

8: NJ Metalfest 8

21: The Schwam

29: Chiddy Band

Lizzie Rose Music Room, Tuckerton

6: Soul Project NOLA

9: Joanna Connor

13: Victor Wainwright

14: The Outcrops

19: Brandon “Taz” Niederauer

20: Lil Ed and The Blues Imperials

21: Chrissie Crow

22: Matt O’Ree Band


When James Hughes first tasted coffee that his friend Nick Cox made, he was mad. Then he had a question for his lifelong friend.

“Why couldn’t you make this coffee when we lived together?” recalls Hughes asking his old college roommate. The brew Cox had concocted was downright delicious.

But not too long before Hughes sipped on coffee he had a larger question to ponder: What exactly was his purpose on Earth? That’ll make you gulp.

“During COVID, I got laid off from my job,” explains Hughes. “It was a time of recalibration of thought of like, ‘OK what am I doing here? What do I want to do, and have I been truly happy in this position?’ The answer was no.”

When Hughes started to answer those questions that he asked himself

during the pandemic, Cox was right next to him with a cup of coffee.

“It was a really intense time of introspection, and it was time to ask all the big questions,” says Hughes. “And Nick was there for some of those moments. We discussed a lot, and then there was a time we were having good coffee with good friends.”

In those moments, their coffee start-up Mortal Minds was born, with the idea starting with a desire to achieve a sort of redemption.

The early stages of COVID provided (some) people some luxuries: not having to commute into work, more free time, severance packages or $600 weekly unemployment checks, and stimulus. Fresh off of a severance package, Hughes was enjoying his free time originally.

But then depression started to hit, and Hughes had to climb out of some pretty big holes mentally. The theme of

picking yourself up from a dark place is a major one for Mortal Minds.

“After COVID I was in a really dark, dark, dark place,” says Hughes. “When you are in a dark place and asking yourself the big questions sometimes it feels like there is no way out. All of us have these moments. I was staring down the void in a way, and the only thing that brought me hope was community. Even though that’s what I didn’t think I wanted.

“In order to redeem myself in a way I needed to start something. Nick was someone who could roll with the punches. I could talk to him about this stuff, and he would be like, ‘Dude we gotta do this.’ We were working off each other more, and making ourselves excited about this project.”

For the guys over at Mortal Minds, the road to redeeming one’s self is paved with coffee beans, but for Cox the road

For the folks behind South Jersey micro-roastery
Mortal Minds, the answer is in the beans

began at a Starbucks Reserve. No beer snob starts out drinking IPAs, and no coffee snob is born drinking fancy coffee either. Even though Starbucks is taken for granted, there was a time when our innocent minds were amazed at the menu. For Cox, he didn’t know that coffee could taste like that.

“That was the jam,” says Cox about the Starbucks Reserve Sumutra coffee he had. “You know how you love craft beer, and still open a Miller? That’s what it feels like to me, and we included it

in our Descend blend.”

Cox was also influenced by Reanimator Coffee in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philly.

“La Colombe and Reanimator in Philly were the first places I could go to and have a pour-over and really good espresso. Not just from a pod machine called espresso, but from a real person doing it.”

After those experiences, Cox searched obsessively on the internet and on message boards about how to get coffee to taste just right and how to have an aftertaste as well. In the Ascend blend the duo put out you can taste the beers in the brew.

“Ascend Blend is our light roast blend,” explains Cox. “Our coffees are what we want it to be. It has notes of berries, has notes of plurality, and is acidic and has citrus and is bright and interesting. It’s a step for our fans to be like, ‘Oh, coffee can taste like this.’ And it can taste like this in a lighter spectrum and not everybody gets into coffee from a classical standpoint.”

The duo also has the Descend Blend, which was the first coffee they ever put out, and they describe it as “their pop song.”

“Descend was our first coffee we

ever put out,” says Cox. “We just wanted to hint at specialty coffee. There’s a lot of emphasis on light roast, medium roast, and delicate floral or fruity flavors. But you can’t ignore the fact that a lot of people love dark roast coffee that takes cream and sugar. You know something that is classic, and can be your daily driver. In terms of music, I always described Descend as our pop song. It’s very palatable, and it’s great in a pot, great in French press, great in a pour-over, and great as an espresso.”

In the short time Mortal Minds has existed, they have also had partnerships with local breweries as well. Whims Brewery is a brewery located in the Camden County exurbs of Atco. Owner/Brewer Doriin Saunders slid into the group’s DM’s and the rest was history. Saunders’ interest was piqued when he saw Cox post a reel about making a Moscow Mule with espresso in it.

“These guys are awesome,” explains Saunders. “I asked if they wanted to do something and thankfully they said yes.”

Mortal Minds has hosted a cupping event at Whims, and they did a collaboration with Saunders for a beer as well.

“Our first collab was a Golden Ale,” recalls Saunders. “I liked the way the Descend Blend paired with the beer. People told me it was like a coffee with cream, and rose with the backbone of that light golden coffee. There were notes of tamarind, and a little bit of marmalade on the back end and it was received really well.”

So well that Chickie’s & Pete’s, an institution in the Delaware Valley up there with Rita’s and Wawa bought two kegs of the collab. Mortal Minds has goals to work with other distillers and restaurants in South Jersey as well, and eventually open up their own place.

The Vineland area duo also have a larger goal in mind as well, and that is to make South Jersey a place to go for coffee.

“Whether you’re from South Jersey where we’re planting our roots or throughout North or Central Jersey we want you to say Mortal Minds is from New Jersey, and that’s my state. That’s awesome.

Find more at mortalminds.com.


DRINK Jersey Beer Tour: The Seed in Atlantic


Anyone who has spent a decent amount of time in our state has one. It might be a night out with friends, a 21st birthday celebration, a bachelorette party. Or arriving with high hopes only to go home broke, enjoying a day at one of the few non-beach tags beaches in our state, or, as of late, going to see some kickass music festivals.

Indeed, everyone has an Atlantic City story. There’s few places in America like it and there’s definitely no other city in the Garden State that compares.

Atlantic City is a city where tales are made, but the city itself kind of tells the story of the Garden State as well. Gritty, misunderstood, diverse, sometimes faced with corruption, beautiful, gets crapped on by New Yorkers and Philadelphians (yet they constantly visit), and always changing. No matter how many times Atlantic City got knocked out, it got back up and fought another day.

It makes sense that a brewery with a focus on storytelling has a home in AC. I’m not that good at math, but I’m pretty sure most AC stories involve alcohol at some point. But probably few involve a brewery. That is changing with the addition, in 2020, of The Seed: A Living Beer Project located near the Showboat and Hard Rock casinos.

The Seed is owned by Sean Towers and Amanda Cardinali. The couple grew up in Vernon, which is another infamous town in Jersey. And I know you’re thinking it, and yes they visited Action Park.

“My favorite ride was the Sidewinder,” explains Towers. “You lay your head down on a mat and went on two different courses. You raced down and it was really fun. It’s funny to tell everyone who has seen the Action Park documentary that not only is everything in that documentary is true, but it’s actually tame compared to what actually happened.”

Besides shady amusement parks, Sussex County is known for its rural character. Towers took advantage of his environment in Vernon

and was constantly outside skateboarding, snowboarding,and finding new streams to fish.

“I spent a lot of time in the woods,” says Towers. “That’s kind of directed a lot of where we stand today and what our focus is at in the brewery.”

For Towers and Cardinali, nature is still a huge part of their lives and it’s a part of the story of The Seed. From the brewing process to the beer to the artwork and even the decor on the tables, natural inspiration is evident. Towers went to nearby Stockton University for school, and is a marine biologist by day.

“Marine science gave me a way to learn about nature forever,” says Towers. “You know you’re never gonna learn everything there is about nature. Outside of the brewery at my day job, we are focusing on restoration and environmental health. We follow certain marine ecosystems and how they interact with coastal and estuary ecosystems, and try to learn more about that and make things better moving forward.

With marine science and brewing, Towers deals with water almost all day. In some ways the two jobs intertwine. Towers used to go around the state and handle quality control for breweries, and test their equipment out. He also used that as a chance to grow his brewing network and learn more about the brewery operations.

“A couple of the breweries that Amanda was working for needed someone who knew a lot more about microbiology than they did,” remembers Towers. “It was very basic stuff in the beginning. You know, cell counts to ensure consistency in your yeast pitching rates. The contamination bags; we made sure everything was clean. As our network grew, other folks had questions that were a bit more complex. You know, ‘Can we run petri

dish plates with a specific medium to see if very specific microbes will grow?’”

Towers used that time spent in breweries to think about what kind of brewery he would want to open one day. He had his own scientific method in mind when it came to The Seed.

“One of the things we learned was to go in with a set focus and make what you want to make,” explains Towers. “And if you can do it well and can tell your story in a proper way that makes people want to follow along with you, and you can maintain your focus while growing to a reasonable level without having to chase trends. And you’ll see that in the beers we brew. You’re not gonna come in here and find eight IPA’ on the board. I mean you’re lucky that there’s two or three on the board right now.

“You’re not gonna come in here and find super heavily fruited sours that just taste like juice. I’m not knocking those beers. They’re delicious and a lot of people do them really, really well. It’s not what we want to be making here.”

What you will find at The Seed is a particular set of ethos that the brewery lives by and that is staying true to yourself, having a vision and offering an experience that few other breweries in South Jersey have to offer.

“I think the ethos of The Seed is always brewing with a sense of story and to distill it down to the simplest of statements,” says Towers. “If you own a brewery, run a brewery, or work for a brewery you should be brewing good beer right? You don’t see NBA players that are just bad at basketball, so if you run a brewery you should make good beer. That shouldn’t be the question. So what else do you do that is unique, different or interesting enough to set you apart from other people?”


“I think for us one of the reasons why we opened the brewery was that in our immediate area no one was doing what we wanted to be doing, and we had to do it all ourselves. That kind of honed us in on our ethos of using local ingredients, not fighting to homogenize everything, being cool if the batch of barleys are different this year and lean into that.”

Anyone who has taken a science class in school or was alive the past three years realizes that science can change in an instant. So can beer as well, and that fact is recognized in part of the brewery’s name. The “living beer project” part of the title is an ode to that.

“That’s a big deal to us,” explains Towers about the name of the brewery. “When we were coming up with the concept, and more specifically the imagery and the branding, we didn’t want to be blank brewery or blank brewing company. We didn’t feel like that captured anything unique or captured what we were trying to do here. So the living beer project at its simplest form is describing what we are trying to do here. We are living, evolving and growing. Everything we do here is learning more about the ingredients, the process and getting better at our craft and profession.”

Despite the ever-changing ethos of The Seed, you’ll find two constants there: One is that there’s a lot of saison on the draft list. Towers and Cardinali built the equipment at The Seed to make saison beer. The other constant of The Seed is that you’ll find a lot of beer on the draft list with low ABV percentages. While The Seed does have a beer that has a 12% ABV, you’ll find numerous drinks with low alcohol content and that is intentional.

“Saison to us is a big thing,” explains Towers. “It’s less of a beer style and more of a philosophy. All of these French and Belgian farmhouse beers weren’t trying to set out and make saison. They were just making beer with whatever

ingredients they had available, and what yeast they had available. That’s what it tasted like, and we try to lean into that here as well. Saison drives home the point of being open to things tasting different all the time. So these beers are driven heavily by the flavors created by the yeast and bacteria and that’s something special for us to showcase.”

Another thing that Towers set out to showcase is how beer can bring people together and can be a communal activity. The commitment to having low-ABV beers on the tap list is a testament to that.

“We don’t want to be promoting that culture, and it’s pretty common in American beer culture to have tiny little sips of super extreme beers,” says Towers. “You sit on your phone and rate them on Untapped. Not that I’m against that, but the culture of drinking beer that is lower in alcohol content is really good. You can have a few of them, and you can hang out with your friends all night and keep drinking beers. We always say that beer is the sidebar to your entire experience and your night out is the perfect setting. That was our focus from the beginning, but having a heavier focus on our lager program has only elevated that experience.”

One of those beers at The Seed that promotes that culture is Stay Awhile, which is a dark mild with an ABV of 4.2%. It’s an English-inspired beer with Garden State ingredients.

“We like doing those English-style beers, and it’s all English malt,” says Towers. “Very simple, low alcohol, and that one has a dark fruity character to it that we like. All of our English beers are named after the theme of taking your time. We have another English beer called Cozy Up. They all have something to do with slowing down and taking your time. The old world wasn’t very fast paced, and there’s something cool about that.”

The Seed also has beers that are dedicat-

ed to family and friends who have helped them out along the way. The artwork for the lagers is done by Cardinali’s brother. The handwriting for the bottles are done by family and friends. Poetry in Motion is inspired by Towers’ grandmother, and you’ll find butterflies, which she loved, on the beer bottle.

“Poetry in Motion the name obviously alludes to the fact the everything around us is constantly changing and evolving over time. So for this beer in particular you’re taking a relatively clean, straightforward saison and mixing it with a smaller portion of a very mature, complex saison. And then all the living microbes from the barrel are gonna help develop everything into something completely new over time.

“My grandmother used to call me poetry in motion when she watched me play basketball, and most of our cans and bottles the name of the beer is written in. Some are font depending on what we are doing, but 99% of them are handwritten by my friends and family. The handwriting on the Poetry in Motion bottles is my grandmother’s handwriting.”

Basketball is also a big deal to Towers,and Cardinali. Towers loves watching Steph Curry play, and Towers is a loyal (key word here) Timberwolves fan. Being a T’Wolves fan is a lot like being a believer in Atlantic City. There’s been some good years, but a lot of it has been tough. Still both have a core that you can get excited about and there’s a future. Towers is excited to be part of it all in AC.

“The culinary scene is continuing to evolve, and we’re seeing a music scene coming back,” says Towers. “We’re seeing an arts scene come into the city in full force. There’s so much vibrancy in the cultural community in Atlantic City, and it’s a neat thing to be a part of.”

The Seed is definitely worth the drive, NJ Transit train rid, or jitney ride to Atlantic City, and is a great place to have a beer. In the future, Towers would like to have another Seed location in a more rural setting to show beer consumers the full process of how beer works.

“We would like to get people more involved with our partner farms, and get them out to see where all the ingredients are grown.” Towers explains. “It’s no different than eating right? You could go to a place and see where the cattle are raised on site. You see where they are kept, the conditions they are in, and what they are eating. You can experience the environment where all your food comes from and then you can eat it. We want to be able to do that with folks who experience where our grains grow, experience where our food comes from, and where our flowers come from. I think eventually that lends itself very well to a second location where we can put that all on site. We can have our small farm brewery, we can have our own fruit orchard, and we can grow our own flowers. We have that all encompassed in one location where people can enjoy their time.”




Walt (Or Butch)

Twilight of the Ike years, President-elect Kennedy on everyone’s lips, and Pop, finally beginning to wear thin on political talk, decided the last gasp of warmer weather would pair fine with the end of the fishing season and set Walt to work packing the truck. Tent, fishing rods, tackle boxes–one massive and worn, four shelves and decades worth of lures, weights, hooks and bobbers, the other a third of the size with a smaller but not unimpressive collection of the same–were thrown into the bed of the beat up 47 Chevy. As he busied his grandson with the heavy lifting, Pop packed a cooler with lunch. He glanced at his watch, dropped his cigarettes into the left breast pocket of his shirt and walked to the door to check on Walt, who was presently wrestling a bungee cord over their cargo.

“We ready out here Butch?” Walt turned to look at his grandfather.

“Just about!” he said as he put his fingers in his mouth and positioned his tongue to belt out the familiar whistle, seemingly conjuring Jack from thin air behind Pop. The tiny dog yapped and bolted through Pop’s legs, slapping each of his calves with his tail, and leapt straight into the passenger seat as Walt, just in time, opened the door.

Walt and Pop were both in the truck now, heading down towards the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge, to cross into Jersey and make their way south to Cape May Courthouse. They waited on the Philly side of the bridge as it opened to let a ship through, and laughed as Jack barked at the fishermen below in the Delaware, his yaps echoing seemingly for miles off of trees, factories, rocky beaches, houses older than states, sailboats and asphalt.

Despite these suburbs on the Jersey side being closer geographically to him than Center City, Walt remained awe struck at how they appeared


(and subsequent issues) of NJ Indy. Send up to three submissions to Poetry Editor Kayla Harris at poetry@njindy.com, and we’ll consider them on a rolling basis for monthly publication.

to be out of the previous century. Giant wooden houses painted beautiful matte colors, complete with porches and columns, and front yards larger than four row homes put together. They passed through a main street with a police station on one end and schoolhouse on the other, small shops and houses lined the road between the two. They made it through the suburbs into farm country where you could forget you’re in New Jersey and mistake it for the Farm Belt. Walt was resting his chin on his palm and daydreaming.

Several miles of an ocean of gold and tan, the breeze gently rocking the tall wheat, making it resemble a colorblind sea on a less-than-still day. Then, as abrupt a change as Philadelphia to the Delaware, a forest of orchards. Easily large and thick enough to get good and lost, maybe even to carve out a small clearing a few miles back and never be bothered, fruit to pick and deer to hunt.

Jack and Walt had been gazing out of their window for the last hour, the dog standing on the boy’s lap and supporting himself against the door, tail slapping Walt’s arm incessantly. Walt turned to look at his grandfather, left arm bent at the elbow resting out of his window, right hand on the wheel, cigarette transitioning from drag to steering fingers every few minutes as the smoke was sucked out into the open air, or occasionally making it to the right side of Pop’s face and hovering around his stubble for a second or two, appearing fuller, whiter, in the sunlight. Jack’s tail was slowing down, and the dog let out a yawn. Jack curled up on Walt’s lap as the dog’s yawn moved to the boy, and so he drifted off to sleep as he scratched Jack’s head.

He awoke to the smell of pine, that and the sound of Jack’s barks at any and all wildlife. They were well into the Pine Barrens now, leaving the yellow and red leaves of oaks and maples for the evergreen walls of pine, never ending on this hundred mile long one lane road. Walt creened his neck up to


Local Artist to Watch: The Make Three

NJ’s Mint 400 record label consistently churns out great indie bands, and from what we hear of The Make Three, it sounds like the label has found another gem.

The Make Three recently released a single, “Emily Strange” from their forthcoming album, You, Me & the Make Three (out July 21), and it’s a gem. There are few frills in the single, just a mashing drum beat, soaring electric guitar and a melody that’ll get stuck in your head all day and the next.

The Make Three is a mashup of local indie bands—Jerry Lardieri serves as the fulcrum for a melding of the Brixton Riot and The Anderson Council, who have crossed paths numerous times before. Rounded out by Peter Horvath and Chris Ryan, we’re excited to hear the full album.

To hear “Emily Strange,” go to on.soundcloud.com/wMnZm.

see the tips of the pines, squirrels hopped from tree to tree and birds perched on the highest branches, occasionally swooping down or disappearing into the skyline as the deep green pines swayed in the wind.

They finally arrived at Courthouse, and parked at the familiar fishing spot. A clearing at a small lake they had come to for as long as Walt could remember. Walt opened his door and Jack shot out after a squirrel into the trees, yapping all the way. Pop went down to the shore with the cooler and rods where a shared canoe lay, Walt grabbed the tackle boxes and jogged after him. They flipped the canoe and loaded it up, then began dragging it to the water. Once it was halfway floating, Walt turned around and whistled, Jack bolted out of the forest and made an Olympic jump into the canoe, scampered to the front, and stood out like their ship’s figurehead, tail wagging.

In the late afternoon sun they rowed out to their favorite spot on the lake, just at the edge of a large patch of lily pads, with overhead cover from a few trees. The shadow cast from the trees, when combined with this position of the sun, allowed them to pick up on subtle movements beneath the water. They rigged their poles, baited, and casted out. Walt was slowly and patiently reeling in, sporadically making little tugs on his line, and watching a deer and a fawn graze at the mossy bank of the lake. The deer dipped its mouth into the water and drew a long drink, then lifted its head out and lightly touched the fawn’s nose, transferring the slightest bit of moisture to its black nostrils. Walt watched as the fawn walked over to the water and dipped its own mouth in, slightly too far at first but readjusting, and refreshed itself in the cool water.

“Thanks, Pop.”

In loving memory of Pop Pop.

Danny Stamm is a born and raised South Jersey native and English major at Rowan College at Burlington County.

Newark Black Film Festival returns for its 49th year

The Newark Black Film Festival, the longest-running Black film festival in the country, celebrates films that appreciate the historic significance of the Black experience in the United States (July 12-16 at the Newark Museum of Art). The Festival features late-night parties, live panel discussions and exclusive screenings of films created in the last three years.

Since 1974, NBFF has presented the work of young, independent Black filmmakers, showcasing early films by the likes of Spike Lee, Barry Jenkins and Ava DuVernay, with participation from James Earl Jones, Danny Glover, Pam Grier, and more.

The festival opens with a screening and a Brazilian party on July 12. For more info, go to newarkmuseumart.org.

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