NJ INDY November 2022

Page 1




IN RETROSPECT Jay Blakesberg left Jersey to follow the Dead. Now, after four decades of shooting the world’s best musicians, his work gets a showcase at Morris Museum.

How going to metal shows prepared Kim Kelly to report on labor

Craving a career change in the pandemic, Matt Harvey turned to bagels

Dumb people keep trying to ban books in NJ and beyond

NJ’s ‘poetry renaissance’ is happening in bars and smoke shops



Credits: Jay Blakesberg/RetroBlakesberg: Volume 1

ON THE COVER Jay Blakesberg was born in New Jersey and then went on a long, strange trip, following the Grateful Dead, getting busted for selling LSD, and above all else, photographing some of the biggest acts and cultural moments from the ’70s to today. An exhibit of his work is now on display at the Morris Museum. More culture on page 15.

<<< One thing about spending years writing about the most obnoxious, obscure, abrasive music possible was trying to convince a mainstream audience that this was worth their time. It was really good training to convince those who are apathetic about unions that unions should matter and they are pretty cool.>>> —Labor reporter Kim Kelly on how being in the metal scene prepared her to be a labor reporter. Read more on page 6.

The percentage of challenged books (that is, books crazy people want banned from schools) that feature LGBTQ+ themes or a protagonist or prominent secondary character of color. Read more about book bans on page 8.

Matt Harvey wanted a career switch in the pandemic, so he turned to bagels. His bagel shop, Harvey’s Handrolled Bagels is now open in Montclair. Read more food and drink stories on page 26.

It’s primetime in the Garden State to see some colorful leaves, get really into Bob Ross, buy a canvas and easel, paint a shitty portrait and put it in the attic for 16 years (Bob wouldn’t like you quitting like that). We hit a few spots recently, like Buttermilk Falls (pictured here), which doesn’t taste like you could make biscuits out of it. More outdoor stories on page 30.

PLUS: Jackson Pines (pg. 10), Concerts (pg. 11),

NJ’s ‘Poetry Renaissance’ (pg. 13), Events (pg. 22), Best bites and new restaurants (pg. 28), NJ Indy is a collection of local writers and creators who love NJ culture and writing about it. Our writers live around the state, but the paper is headquartered in Stockton. Publisher is Matt Cortina. If you want to write for NJ Indy, email him at matt@njindy.com. Any typos in this issue were put there as part of a secret code. See if you can figure it out. Errors or corrections, please email the publisher. We occasionally publish satire; if you can’t tell what’s satire, just assume all of it is. This is the first edition of NJ Indy. Future editions will magically show up at select locations throughout New Jersey on the first Friday of every month. For more, visit njindy.com. All content is ©NJ Indy, LLC 2022, so don’t steal it, but we don’t know who would. This issue is free. If anyone charged you for this, let us know so it doesn’t happen again. To respond to anything in this issue, or just to get something off your chest, email editor@njindy.com. NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

Spooky! The skeletons are pretty frightening, too. We call this the “Live. Laugh. Trump.” line of fall décor, for people who want to be seasonally festive but also believe the election was stolen. More cynical and politically nihilistic commentary on page 4.




Fun with AI

We asked AI to generate an image of NJ 101.5.The internet is a cesspool, but sometimes it’s alright.

Confused by workers quitting? by Jim Hightower

respect. In a word: Dignity. In the world of work, what two occupations might seem to have the very least in common? How about long-haul truck drivers... and school librarians? Yes, an odd pairing, but both are prime examples of workers who’ve had their workplace dignity stripped away. So, solidarity forever! Start with truckers; the job is literally a grueling haul. You’re wrangling massive 18-wheelers some 500 miles a day for 2-3 weeks straight, putting up with traffic jams, storms, bad roads, lunatic drivers, helter-skelter scheduling, truck-stop food, sleeping in the truck—and battling fatigue, aches, your bladder and loneliness. Trucking used to be a good union job, with decent pay and conditions­—until the deregulation craze four decades ago brought in Wall Street profiteers and fast-buck hustlers who turned the industry into anti-union exploiters. As a result, the yearly quit rate for drivers is almost 100%! But rather than retaining drivers by upping pay and stopping their torturous treatment, the corporate bosses have rushed to Washington demanding access to an even cheaper pool of low-wage workers: teenagers. Yes—put an 18-year-old in that 18-wheeler...

Given the historic continFor more than a year, Ameriuum of executive-suite disdain ca’s corporate chieftains have been for working stiffs, it’s no surprise moaning about the “Great Resigthat the top dogs are still blamnation”: the recent phenomenon of ing “sluggish” workers for today’s workers just up and quitting their rampant job dissatisfaction. But jobs. And now comes “quiet quitit’s both hilarious and pathetic that ting”: workers who don’t leave their high-dollar bosses are so inept at jobs, but only do what they were employee relations that they can’t hired to do, quietly rejecting the keep the rank and file on the job, endless extra (unpaid) tasks and much less keep them quasi-happy. weekend assignments that bosses The corporate response has been try to pile on. What’s at work in the to put a silly Band-Aid on this seriheads of all these workers? ous problem. They’ve created new Simple, barked one taskmaster executive-level positions with titles way back in 1894. “Nobody wants like “Chief People Officer” and to work.” And here’s an anti-New hired consulting firms with such Deal baron in 1940, snorting that names as “Woohoo” and “Hap“trouble is everybody is on relief py Ltd” to come up with treats, or a pension—nobody wants to trinkets and gimmicks, trying to work.” Then in ’52 came the same make the workplace seem like a refrain: Everybody is “too damned playscape: Beer tastings! Ping-pong lazy and nobody wants to work games! Meditation periods! A Lizanymore.” Year after year, the zo concert! Office slides! Company exact same wail is repeated from water bottles! Wine Wednesdays! on high, including this group gripe Seriously? Memo to CEOs: expressed in a corporate survey this Try decent pay and benefits, year: “One in five executive leadrational scheduling, meaningful ers agree (that) ‘No one wants to goals, real teamwork and personal work.’” 4 NOVEMBER 2022

and keep them profits rolling! And here’s another good job suddenly turned ugly: school librarian. Yes, while student enrollments rise and the need for these nurturers of our society’s literacy is greater than ever, their quit rate is soaring—not because of low pay or long hours, but because of raw right-wing politics. These dedicated, invaluable educators are literally being abused by demagogic GOP politicians and their extremist partisans who’ve launched an anti-librarian crusade, including book banning and harebrained witch hunting. Come on—how twisted are you to pick on librarians? Yet, they are under attack by political hacks, condemned by reprobate preachers and physically threatened by frenzied parents... and being fired by wimpy school boards. Forget the “law” of supply and demand; today’s job market is being ruled by greedmeisters and political lunatics. Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com. ©2022 creators.com.



Alright. What the hell is NJ Indy? I grew up in the farmlands of West Jersey where our idea of fun was snorting Pop Rocks at 7/11, hucking corn cobs at each other and driving a Ford Explorer down the grass runway at the local airport with a sled tied to the back of it we could ride on. Good shit, but pretty sheltered. Pretty privileged. Pretty ephemeral fun. When I left the state for college, I wanted more. I couldn’t find it. I didn’t know how to find fun, culture or perspective if it wasn’t in a cornfield or the one coffee shop in town or covered in BBQ sauce at Applebee’s. Then I found an alt-weekly, the Columbia Free-Times. It was a revelation. In this free, dead-tree, rough-around-the-edges rag was a new world. Culture to experience, food to try, places to go, people to learn more about and support. The writing was good, it was funny, and they cursed... just like me, OMG! In short, it was a passport to growth I could renew every week for free. For as great as it was to find the Free-Times, I lamented we didn’t have a statewide alt-paper back in Jersey. Hell, we’ve got creators. We’ve got culture beyond debating pork roll v. Taylor Ham, Springsteen and “We don’t pump gas, we pump fists,” bumper stickers. So, after spending more than a decade working as a journalist in the alt-weekly world, I thought there was no better time than a financial crisis, a pandemic and a crumbling democracy to launch a business that delivers journalism (of which people are, rightfully sick) in an old medium (print, which apparently is dead?) I’ve been told doing this is brave and radical—what those people mean, but are too nice to say, is crazy. What it really is, though, is optimistic. I hope in our sometimes irreverent, often interesting, mostly well-reported stories that you, too, find inspiration to experience more of what our state and its creators have to offer, to be curious to discover more. And I hope that picking up our real, tangible, no-distraction paper every once in a while provides a respite from a world, and a media landscape, that has gone insane. NJ Indy will always be independent, alternative and free. That matters, I think, in an era when our legacy papers are being bought by hedge funds or consolidating and cutting newsrooms, and pushing digital-first strategies that sensationalize our news and condense our rich culture in NJ into clickable “content.” If you like what we’re about, let us know (matt@njindy.com), support our advertisers (they keep this thing free), check out the last year of stories at njindy.com and, more than anything, keep reading. We appreciate you. —Matt Cortina, publisher and idiot who believes in alternative print media. NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA




Photo Credit: Elizabeth Kross


he simplest things blew Kim Kelly’s mind when she first moved from the Pine Barrens to Philly.

“I always saw in movies that you could get pizza delivered to you,” says Kelly. “And you could do that for real [in Philly]. It was a real thing. Trash pickup and fast internet was also amazing.” But realizing the comforts of city living would be only a precursor to the deeper lessons and stories she’d learn in Philly, which have led her on the path to becoming a labor reporter; the journey has (thus far) culminated in a new book: Fight Like Hell: The Untold History of American Labor. Kelly didn’t aim to become a labor writer; in fact, she says, it’s not necessarily common for storytellers to come from places like the Pine Barrens. “The people who get to tell the stories of what America is didn’t necessarily grow up the way I did,” says Kelly. “I would go to school in a tiny school house from Kindergarten to eighth grade with the same 20 people. We had dirt roads, a post office in a trailer. My family hunts and fishes. I’m glad that I’m from the same place as the Jersey Devil.” Kelly says she was able to explore her interests more freely than kids who lived in more populated areas. Spending time with the same kids year after year left Kelly room to follow her passions—metal, reading and writing—without having to impress anyone. “When you’re around the same people that you knew since you were five, you can experiment and find out who you were without the fear of ostracization,” Kelly says. “It’s hard to give someone shit if you knew someone since you were five. Like so and so is dressing weird, or so and so dyed their hair, or so and so is smoking weed like, OK, who else are we gonna hang out with?” Kelly got her start in journalism as a teenager, sending stories to the Burlington County Times for its “Teen Takes” section. She was also getting into metal, and so interviewed bands playing in Philly for the paper, while working at CVS to save enough to buy tickets to shows. Similar to other people who grew up in the 2000s, Kelly’s introduction to metal began with nu-metal bands like Limp Bizkit. “My friends Rich and Drew were really into Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park,” says Kelly. “Through that, I got into Slipknot and more metal music. It spoke to me because I was an angry kid in the middle of nowhere; of course I was into Slipknot. Then I got into death metal and black metal especially when I made friends who were older and had access to the internet. It was a stroke of luck that some of my guy friends were into this 6

How covering metal bands prepared Kim Kelly to write ‘the untold history of American labor’ by Kyle Nardine NOVEMBER 2022


stuff, and I would go over their houses and be like, ‘Oh I like this.’ The social circle I knew was so small, and I didn’t come across the prejudices that a lot of younger women faced when they were getting into metal. There wasn’t anyone to tell me, ‘This isn’t for girls, and you aren’t supposed to like this,’ because there weren’t a lot of people around. It wasn’t until I was older and started going to metal shows that I was informed it was weird for a girl to be into that and by then I was so far into it, I could just tell people to go to hell.” While attending Drexel University, Kelly got involved with 91.7 WDKU, and had numerous internships at metal magazines. She ultimately didn’t graduate because she decided to put what she had learned in those experiences into action by touring with bands she knew. She believes that experience was a perfect capstone project for what she does now with labor journalism. “I didn’t go to J school, or take any journalism classes. But the practical lessons I learned have given me a leg up. One thing about spending years writing about the most obnoxious, obscure, abrasive music possible was trying to convince a mainstream audience that this was worth their time,” Kelly says. “It was really good training to convince those who are apathetic about unions that unions should matter and they are pretty cool. “Also spending years with heavy metal bands as a merch girl and a roadie helped me as well,” she continues. “I would spend hours a night selling T-shirts to drunk guys and talking to people and talking to people and talking to people. It’s definitely hard to stay shy when you are in that environment. I used to be quiet and a bit of a wallflower, and now I can talk to anybody about anything. If you made it through a Pittsburgh tour stop for Clutch—where everyone is drunk, excited, and everyone wants to talk to you specifically and there’s a line and everyone is yelling—if I could get through that with a smile, I could interview anyone about what goes on at their jobs.’’ Kelly parlayed that experience into a job at VICE, where she was a heavy metal editor. She realized her background was different from her coworkers who went to well-known schools and grew up in areas that aren’t as remote as the Pine Barrens. And along with those different backgrounds, there were different motivations and personalities among her colleagues, Kelly says. “I wanted to go to metal shows,” says Kelly. “I didn’t want to go to weird bars and do cocaine with editors after hours.” For as big a platform as VICE provided, Kelly says working there left a lot to be desired. So when coworkers approached her to talk about starting a union, she was eager to help. “I finally got hired at VICE after being on contract, and two weeks later my coworkers pulled me aside,” says Kelly. “We went to a coffee shop, and they asked me, ‘Hey, we are thinking of forming a union, what do you think?’ I was all about it, and my family was involved in unions. I thought NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

it would be a good thing for us. I thought it was a good idea because we weren’t treated great, and there was a lot of weird stuff going on in the office. A lot of sexual harassment, and we were getting paid like crap. Something had to give, and I got super involved right away.” She says it was like a second job, helping bargain the contract and getting others involved. But, it paid off. “It was one of the most rewarding things I

have ever done, and to sit in front of rich people and force them to listen to you and give you a better deal… it was great to see the actual material impact of the contract and to see the impact it had on people’s lives. Once you get into that sort of thing, it’s hard to get back out.” And she hasn’t. Kelly now writes about labor for Teen Vogue and other pubs; this year, Kelly released her first book Fight Like Hell: The Untold Story of American Labor, which showcases the unsung heroes in American labor history, and regular people who stood up for themselves in the workplace. “I want to try to make labor sexy and get people excited about it, and to show people that this movement belongs to everybody—not just the white guys in hard hats who tend to get top billing when we talk about labor in this country.” One of Kelly’s goals with Fight Like Hell was to build off of her Teen Vogue column, in which she connects labor history with events that are going on today. “In the book, there’s a section on garment workers, and I wrote about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire in the early 1900s, where nearly 200 young women were burned to death,” says Kelly. “The conditions in the factory were so bad and there was poor ventilation in the building. The bosses locked the doors because they were afraid of the young women stealing scraps of fabric. This horrible tragedy happened, and it had a lot of impact on regulations and safety and labor laws.


“Over 100 years later, I was speaking to a woman who works at a garment factory in Los Angeles early on in the pandemic. Her and her coworkers were busy making cloth masks for people. She was telling me about the conditions in her factory, and how the air was full of dust and scraps everywhere. The bosses locked the doors, and we should have learned about what happened before. Things should be better than 100 years ago.” In the book, there are also inspiring stories of perseverance; one of Kelly’s favorites is about fellow South Philadelphian Ben Fletcher. “Ben Fletcher was a black man from South Philly who in the early 1900s helped organize an interracial dockworkers union, which ran the docks for almost a decade,” says Kelly. “They were an explicitly interracial and anti-capitalist union, and this took place in 1910, which was more than half a century before the civil rights movement. People were blazing these trails and got little attention for it. They got attention for it at the time, but their names aren’t necessarily well known now.” U.S. labor history is hardly taught in public schools, though Kelly says it’s hard to teach a complete view of history without grounding those lessons in labor. And at a time when people are challenging books and curricula, and effectively trying to censor huge swaths of history, the need for a better understanding of labor history is critical. “We were taught about the politicians, the oligarchs and powerful men who have shaped society in the way they saw fit,” Kelly says. “The only reason why they are able to do that is that people went to work and did the important labor. I hope something changes because kids need to learn this history. “If we are going to teach people the truth about this country we have to include labor history. Everything is a labor story when it comes down to it. Every movement for justice, and every struggle for liberation has been grounded in labor.” Kelly is optimistic about the future of labor in our country, given events of the last two years, like union drives at Amazon and Starbucks branches, including three in Central Jersey. And the current union resurgence is being led by people of color, women and people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Still, much work remains. “The harsh reality of the matter is that labor has been in decline for a while, and union density is really low,” says Kelly. “The numbers aren’t great, and I don’t know if our institutions are ready to do what it takes to do what we need for organizing. But at a certain point institutions and leaders don’t really matter as much as the rank and file and the workers themselves do. What has become very apparent is that the workers are fed up, and the workers are ready to cause a ruckus. There is new organizing happening in established unions, and we’re also seeing a rise in independent unions. ... A new page is being written right now.” 7

NEWS Banning books is literally so fucking stupid. by Matt Cortina


ast year, a group of parents went to a North Hunterdon Regional High School (NHHS) Board of Education meeting and claimed the high school in Clinton was distributing pornography to children in the form of “evil” and “wicked” books, which they wanted banned, like it was fucking 1852. Many of the books in question appear on the American Library Association’s Top Challenged Books of 2021 list—Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson, Two Boys Kissing by David Levison… see a pattern here? But the NHHS librarian, Martha Hickson, refused to acquiesce, even in the face of persistent personal harassment and attacks from the batshit parents. They called her a pedophile and a groomer. They wrote hate mail and threatened her. They went to law enforcement and tried to get her charged. She was so traumatized by the ongoing assault that she had a breakdown, and developed an ulcer, cracked her teeth and started seeing a therapist and taking anti-anxiety medication. “I had a physical, mental and emotional breakdown at work to the extent that my husband was called to take me home and take me to the doctor,” Hickson says. “And I went into the doctor’s office—I’ve seen this doctor for 25 years—and she took one look at me and said she didn’t recognize the woman in front of her.” The community, including many students, rallied around her, and eventually, the Board struck down the motion to ban the books. It was a victory in this bizarre American culture war—earlier this year, the ALA awarded Hickson the Lemony Snicket Prize for Noble Librarians Faced with Adversity—but the battle rages on. “Just this morning I was on the phone with a librarian form Morris County.. … It breaks my heart when I see others go through it. She’s at day one. She’s at the same stage I was in on day one.” Indeed, there have been challenges to


books up and down the state in the last year. Hell, Proud Boys showed up at a school board meeting in Bernards Township last year. And the expectation is that challenges to books will continue, not just in the hayfield corners of America, but right here. “[Hickson’s] story is really interesting and worth telling. As she notes when she talks, she’s in blue New Jersey, where people think this is something that happens in red states far away. I think that no matter where you are, it’s incumbent to speak out,” says Will Creeley, legal director at the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), which organizes Banned Books Week. All it takes is one person to send bigoted waves out into a community. One person, say, cutting Pride flags (as in Frenchtown this year), or a small group of parents calling a librarian a pedophile because they carry LGBTQ+-centered books carries an outsize effect in a small community. “Folks like to feel as though they can exercise dominion over some small part of an increasingly dynamic world,” Creeley says. “So if you can exert your will and your beliefs in a way that feels tangible and important, the ultimate efficacy of your decision to ban books may not be the point any longer. There’s a symbolic political and cultural itch being scratched.” A new report from PEN America counted 2,500 book bans in 32 states last school year. Over 40% involve LGBTQ+ themes or characters; and 40% feature protagonists or characters of color. To all concerned, there’s a sense they’re up against a motivated, cohesive group. “It feels organized, it feels energized and it feels national in a way that differentiates it in many respects from the almost annual book bans that you would see spring up across the country in towns in years prior,” Creeley says. Hickson says she had maybe three book challenges in her prior 15 years on the job. Those complaints were met with conversations. That was not the case in this recent brush with the outraged. Hickson did some research after the challengers ambushed her, NOVEMBER 2022

and found that parents in other states had “word for word the same performance” as those at NHHS. “This is a national movement that is being driven by political motives by people like Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott,” Hickson says. “They are sowing outrage for political gain and then there are activist groups ... that have their own social agendas that they want to put forth and mainly those social agendas have to do with people of color and LGBTQ people.” In this fiery atmosphere, nuance is scarce. For instance, Hickson says many of the book challengers haven’t actually read the books they want banned. Take Gender Queer, a graphic novel depicting author Maia Kobabe’s journey through sexual and gender identity. In school board meetings across the country, angry speakers pointed to, and/or showed, a page that depicts oral sex. This was shocking and/or evil because high schoolers have no idea what oral sex is. Oh, wait. Regardless, Hickson points out, if anyone bothered to understand the context, they might see the broader message of the scene. “What nobody ever does is turn the page,”


she says. “In this context, if you turn that page of that book Gender Queer, what you find is what happens next after that intimate moment that prompted that outrage they all freak out about is that Maia says, ‘I’m not comfortable with this, can we do something else?’ And they cuddle. What does that tell you in context? It tells the reader even in your most intimate moments, you have power, you have a voice, you have agency.” Books like Gender Queer are sometimes the only resource for kids who want to learn about themselves, their peers or the world at large. Kids have phones, but may not use them freely if parents are monitoring their activity. And without means to get books on their own, kids risk push back from their parents. “Imagine being the 15-year-old queer kid living in a conservative home,” Hickson says. They don’t have access to credit cards or transportation, and so when they go to get a book, “the Christo-Fascist behind the steering wheel is going to ask what are you going for and what did you check out? The only safe space for you is the school library. “It is so valuable for kids of color, for kids that have a different sexual identity than the mainstream, to see themselves represented on the shelves,” Hickson continues. “One of the callous claims by these protesters or the Board themselves, is you can get the books somewhere else. They’re saying NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

that from a position of privilege.” “Literature provides windows to people to see people who are not like you, to see their humanity, to see their stories, and when you’re able to live an experience thats not your own, that breeds empathy,” adds Jessica Trujillo, president of the New Jersey Library Association. “I think people don’t want their children to have empathy for people who are different from them. That, to me, is a parenting choice. I tell my daughter, she’s 8, that my job is not to parent other children, it’s my job to parent you. We put that ownership on parents to have their parents choose books that are appropriate for them.” “I understand arguments about age appropriateness, but I trust librarians,” Creeley adds. “At a public high school library, those students are old enough to voluntarily receive information and check out books and look at books with a critical eye. And if parents don’t want students looking at books, that’s a job for the parent. That’s not a choice to make for every parent in the district by removing books ad hoc. That’s what really gets to me … and what should be profoundly unnerving for all Americans in our pluralist democracy. “In this country we trust people to make up their own minds and I don’t want the state to dictate what I or my children can read because it offends some sensibilities of a few.” NOVEMBER 2022

The ALA’s Top Challenged Books of 2021 1. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, considered to have sexually explicit images 2. Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, considered to be sexually explicit 3. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content, profanity, and considered to be sexually explicit 4. Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Perez Reasons: Depictions of abuse and considered to be sexually explicit 5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Reasons: Profanity, violence, and thought to promote an anti-police message and indoctrination of a social agenda 6. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie Reasons: Profanity, sexual references and use of a derogatory term 7. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews Reasons: Considered sexually explicit and degrading to women 8. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison Reasons: Depicts child sexual abuse and considered sexually explicit 9. This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson Reasons: Banned, challenged, relocated, and restricted for providing sexual education and LGBTQIA+ content. 10. Beyond Magenta by Susan Kuklin Reasons: LGBTQIA+ content and considered to be sexually explicit. 9


Credit: Mike Kravetsky

Jackson Pines’ Joe Makoviecki on loss, Pete Seeger and the ‘great adventure’ of growing up in Central Jersey by Kyle Nardine

There’s two types of people in Jackson,” says Jackson Pines singer Joe Makoviecki. “There’s the type of person who loved Six Flags and worked there, and it is a pretty good summer job. You can get in for free and ride the roller coasters like eight times a day.” Then there are Jacksonians like Makoviecki. “Since it was in my town, I couldn’t care less. I didn’t really like rollercoasters; I went on almost every roller coaster at Great Adventure when I was 16, and I haven’t been on one since. I’d rather be in the studio writing songs. The thrill for me is playing a new song for 10 people, not being on top of the freight train going 100 miles per hour.” But when you’re at the top of Kingda Ka or any roller coaster at Great Adventure, you also can see what else interior Ocean and Monmouth counties are known for: the great adventures that exist amid the trees. Those woods in which Makoviecki grew up playing music would eventually give inspiration to the folk band he leads, Jackson Pines. “We spent so much time in those woods hanging out, camping and writing songs,” says Makoviecki. “Even though it’s not like growing up in the Ozarks, the Badlands, or Wyoming because you can disappear in the woods, and you’re [still] close to the highway. But it’s where we grew up and it has its own character and history.” In Ocean and Monmouth counties there was a hardcore scene when Makoviecki was growing up, but that didn’t deter him from playing shows and getting his type of music out there. “We would open up for these hardcore bands,” explains Makoviecki. “In that scene particularly,


there were a lot of bands who were into two-step beats and breakdowns. I was 13 and they were all 17 to 22, and a lot of the bands were focused on dancing, mosh pits and breakdowns. So you could imagine me being 13, who would listen to Elliott Smith, opening up for a bunch of bands who were trying to make the audience go insane.” Even though Jackson Pines has firm Central Jersey roots, Makoviecki came into his own as a folk singer attending college in New York City, listening to the classics and meeting likeminded musicians. He got together with Jackson Pines w/ Sean Tobin fellow Jackson native and Cranston Dean. Nov. 5. The and current Jackson Stone Pony, Asbury Park Pines bassist James Black to play Pete Seeger songs at Washington Square Park in NYC. “It wasn’t authentic ‘from Appalachia’ type of thing,” explains Makoviecki. “It was more 1960s kids playing in New York type of thing.” The band would eventually become Thomas Wesley Stern, and it was Makoviecki’s musical project until he and Black focused more on Jackson Pines. Meeting Seeger at a club upstate both confirmed that music was the right direction for him, and that folk music was the vehicle in which to do it. “We were invited to play music, and hopefully meet Pete Seeger,” remembers Makoviecki. “We got to meet [Seeger] and see him play music, interact with his community, and see the good they were doing locally and on the national level. We learned a lot of folk songs, and learned how to get people to sing along with you. It happened around the time that my dad died, and it shot me off like a pool ball on this trajectory in music.” During those trips upstate to Seeger’s club, Makoviecki even got to sing with the well-known folk artist and activist.


“The second time we went up there, it was our turn to sing a song, and Pete was in the audience. We were in the circle singing along and leading the audience like how Pete would. Pete goes up to my buddy and whispers something in his ear, and then Pete grabs the mic and sings a verse with us and then looks at us and smiles and sits back down and plays the banjo. That was the moment that changed everything for me. He’s done this with thousands of people, but to have it happen to us in that moment felt very personal for us.” Jackson Pines has released two albums including Close to Home, which came out last year. Close to Home, as a title, pays homage to the area in which Makoviecki grew up. “The album has the title it has because everyone in our band grew up in Jackson and was part of the same scene. We all had those same experiences and played in those same shows. The concept musically is the sound of a band and people that have known each other for 20 years, and been playing music with each other for the same amount of time and what could that be like if you could get everyone in the same room and play songs live and record it. To see if your musicianship is at the level where it’s still interesting and fun, and it was.” Even though the record is sort of a homecoming for Jackson Pines, the album is more about themes such as loss and hope. “There are songs on the album that are about loss,” explains Makoviecki. “Both my parents have passed away in the past 10 years, so there are a couple songs about that. The last three songs on the album are a trilogy on perspectives of grief and loss, which is a theme for 2020-21, but it wasn’t written on purpose. There are also songs about hope as well, and there’s songs about having fun and growing up. ... It’s not entirely a COVID record.” NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

MUSIC November 13 Asbury Lanes Ani DiFranco with The Righteous Babes Revue

NOVEMBER SHOWS CONTACT US TO ADD SHOWS TO NEXT MONTH’S CALENDAR Anchor Rock Club, Atlantic City 4: Molly Ringworm w/ Teen Idle, Coke Spiders, Away Game 12: Pissed Jeans w/ Gutter Drunk, Reckless Randy. 19: The Feelies. 23: Aesthetic Perfection. Bourré, Atlantic City 11: The Maguas, Dear Youth, Sucker Punch, Sweep Echo, Jima. 19: Hub City Stompers, Public Serpents, Idle Minds,

House of Independents, Asbury Park 11: Soul Glo w/ City Of Caterpillar. 12: Well Wisher w/ Teenage Halloween, Sweet Pill, H.A.G.S. 13: Echo Plum, Yawn Mower, Dentist, Country. 18: The Higher w/ Little Hag, The Ghost Club. 23: Tigers Jaw w/ Heart Attack Man, Glitterer. The Saint, Asbury Park 2: Supersuckers w/ Volk,The Goddamn Wrecks. 20: Jeffrey Lewis & The Voltage Stone Pony, Asbury Park 5: Jackson Pines w/ Sean Tobin, Cranston Dean. 10: Senses Fail w/ Like Moths To Flames, Can’t Swim. Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park 14: Amigo the Devil. 15: SKEGSS. 18: Four Year Strong. 25: L.S. Dunes. Trinity Church, Asbury Park 19: Shore Style Punk Night: Raw Brigade, End It and more RedHouse, Boonton 4: See Plus, 54 Ultra, Jack Powers. 12: Sucker Punch, The View From Here, Halogens. Freedom Mortgage Pavilion, Camden 9: The 1975. Dingbatz, Clifton 5: Adrenalin O.D. w/ Fear Gods, The Accelerators. 17: Crazytown w/ Zeistencroix, Concrete Dream. 18: Carnivore A.D. w/ Pale Horse, Deth Kaktus, Edge of Chaos.

Credit: Daymon Gardner 17: The DT’s, The Extensions, The Azures. 26: Laura Jane Grace White Eagle Hall, Jersey City 9: She Wants Revenge w/Chameleons, D’arcy. 12: Plains, MJ Lenderman. 18: The Feelies w/ The Willies. Madison Community Arts Center 5: Chuck Wood & Friends. 13: Jerry Vezza, Grover Washington. 19: The Vaughns, Kate Dressed Up, Tula Vera, Bad Blooms. Meatlocker, Montclair 3: Deathwish, Chemical-X, Young and Doomed. The Wellmont Theater, Montclair 5: Silversun Pickups. 11: Wunderworld Fest w/ Aries, Ericdoa, Jeleel & more. Mayo PAC, Morristown 4: Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. 10: Preservation Hall Jazz Band. NJPAC, Newark 12: Dee Dee Bridgewater & Savion Glover. 13: Yellowjackets. 18: Issac Delgado & Alain Perez. State Theater, New Brunswick 11: Victor Manuelle. 12: Lindsey Buckingham. South Orange PAC, South Orange 9: Darlingside. 10: Paula Cole & Sophie B. Hawkins. 11: Valerie Simpson. 17: Josh Ritter. Prototype 237, Paterson 12: Singer Mail, Alpha Rabbit, and KBC4. Princeton Arts Council, Princeton 15: Love? Said the Commander. Princeton Folk Music Society 18: Bruce Molsky.

Flemington DIY, Flemington 5: A Plea For Power w/ Against All, Potters Field, Mange. 12: Yvonnick Prene Trio. 19: Rusty Mullet.

Starland Ballroom, Sayreville 13: Black Flag, T.S.O.L., The Dickies, Total Chaos. 19: Skanksgiving 22: Goldfinger, Catch 22, Mustard Plug, more. 20: Bobby Shmurda w/ Rowdy Rebel, GS9 Gino aka Fat Tony.

Crossroads, Garwood 4: John Moreland w/ Christopher Paul Stelling, Felons.

Stanhope House, Stanhope 23: The Best of The Worst.





Photos courtesy Damian Rucci

NJ’s ‘poetry renaissance’ is happening in bars, boutiques and smoke shops by Connor Reddington


ith New Jersey’s rich history of poets—Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka—established poetry collectives like Red Wheelbarrow Poets, and events like the Dodge Poetry Festival, the Garden State makes a strong claim to be the epicenter of American poetry. But for myriad reasons—evolving reader habits, publishing standards changing, the decline of literary mags— poetry, and related readings and events, is in decline (in the mainstream, at least). So, the question is: Is there a young and motivated enough group of people to carry on NJ’s poetic legacy? A few months ago, NJ Indy started getting tagged in a bunch of poetry events on social media. The show flyers described readings featuring multiple poets followed by open mic segments. They were held at a variety of venues in Monmouth County, including bars, boutiques and smoke shops. Some of the events were given titles or details that promoted an unassuming, new-Bohemian tone and all came with a tag that piqued our interest, and seemed to 12

answer our question: “NJ Poetry Renaissance.” I finally attended one of these shows, “Poems & Punchlines,” in late summer at Nip N Tuck Bar in Long Branch. The program featured sets from both poets and comedians and was followed by an open mic that saw more than a handful of people share their material. The Jersey sense of humor, laden with self-deprecation and irreverence, was on full display this night. Everyone who touched the mic, regardless of how polished their act/writing was, was indeed funny. Performers waded into social commentary, and typically followed these heavier issues with timely comedic relief. The interplay of comedy and poetry worked well, and the crowd was engaged and supportive, particularly for a Monday night. We couldn’t help but feel privileged to be drinking on a bar patio (less than a five-minute drive from the beach), enjoying a free show and not having to suffer through yet another shitty yacht/dad-rock cover band. After the show, I introduced myself to the supremely gracious co-host, Damian Rucci, who just so happened to be the same guy who was tagging us in all of the Instagram posts. Rucci, a Monmouth County native, is one of the integral members of the aforementioned NJ poetry renaissance and an advocate for showcasing poetry to the working class. In our conversation, NOVEMBER 2022

we discussed the renaissance at length, as well as his personal story and the future of accessible poetry in the Garden State. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. In your words, what is the NJ poetry renaissance? Really, I say it’s not a thing or a group; it’s a moment in time. So it’s like a time period. When we started throwing around that word, like nine months ago, it was the fact we’re coming back from the pandemic, but this time there’s a concentrated effort, an all-hands-ondeck effort, to bring poetry to the youth and to the working class, as opposed to where it’s kind of been fitting into obscurity with academia, with this contemporary, quiet, upper-class ethos stuff. It is just like, bring it back to the people, poetry for the beggar and the king and everybody else in between. And let’s actually concentrate on doing what we’re about. What brought it on? I think culture has changed. For years I had bounced around the country doing poetry readings all over the place. I was at a residency before the pandemic and between 2016 and ’18, NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

it was like this [what the current scene is like], but on training wheels. I had a show in Keyport called “Poetry in the Port”; Cord Moreski had a show in Asbury Park. There were several others, and we had this cool thing going on. But, we thought that was the peak of it. Then I went to Missouri and the shows closed down piece by piece with the pandemic. So I think what happened was that we’re really doing the same thing we were before, it’s just that culture has shifted in the last several years where now young people especially are thinking, “Hey, poetry’s not this cringey word. Let me go see what’s going down.”

so that’s kinda cool. Oh, and for the non-smokers, they have a ventilation system so they don’t get obliterated. It’s pretty interesting because sometimes you’ll be doing your poem and, you know, it’s a killer, right? Well, you hit the notes and there’s no reaction for five seconds and you look up and everyone’s just kind of melted into the chairs. I do a once-a-month show, it’s actually one of my biggest, at My Way Cafe in Long Branch; that’s called “Poemocalypse Now.” I just started another new show, which should be the second and fourth week of the month on Thursdays. We’re still working it out now but it’s called

While it may be happening statewide, where do you think the heart of it is? Definitely Monmouth County. So right now, I operate seven shows between Matawan and Long Branch. And then Cord Moreski, he hosts a show called “Coffee and Words” in Asbury Park, right on the boardwalk. It’s a banger. Then North Jersey has signed on; there’s a lot of great stuff going on in Newark with Ras Heru and others. But, yeah, definitely between Matawan and Red Bank, and then down along the Shore is really where it’s been sparked.

Poets that you really enjoy or inspire you?

You mentioned you run seven shows, can you describe those a bit? Well, back in the day I had “Poetry in the Port” originally in Keyport, but we moved it to Matawan at Brew on Main St., and that’s a biweekly event. It’s the first and third week of the month; most of my events are like that. Every Monday, we’re over at Nip N Tuck: I have my show on the first and third week called “Bards off Broadway,” and then you were at the other show “Poems & Punchlines,” which was an experiment that me and Angelo Gingerelli [a comedian] threw together. We wanted to see if we could do a mixed show of two poets and two comedians as features; see if we could blend the worlds together, you know? It seems to be going just fine and everybody’s feeding off of each other in a good way, and it’s been an interesting thing. Then I’ve got “Puff, Puff Poems” at the Scarlet Reserve Room in Red Bank. That’s like a weed smoking lounge of sorts [smokers with a medical marijuana card can enjoy their own products at the space, also cigars and CBD products]. I guess I was one of the first poets to have a show at an official weed smoking lounge; NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

be out of commission for years.” I remember just sitting in this back bedroom doing nothing but writing poems. Something switched in me, man. I just felt like I had to mend myself. So, with this pure, young anger I just taught myself how to walk again without physical therapy. And all the while I kept writing poems. I put out my first chapbook and then I started my first poetry series four months after my accident; had no idea what I was doing. My mentality was like, “I’m gonna do what I want to do now. I’m not gonna be a careerist and think in a certain way.” I started my first show and that was it. From that point on, my life’s been one in accordance with Bohemian standards. And my show started with, like, four people and eventually grew to the biggest series in New Jersey before I left for Missouri.

“Streetlight Poetica,” and it’s at the Keyport Funhouse. There’s also “Coffee and Words,” Cord’s show. The whole group goes down there. What got you into poetry? How long have you been doing it for? So I’ve always written but, in 2015, I was doing good, I guess, for somebody at my age. I was 21, 22 at the time. I had an apartment, I was an apprentice butcher. I was writing at night and just being 21, you know? Then one day I was riding my bike to work and this woman blew a red light and smoked me on my bicycle. So I broke my legs, cracked my head open. It was all dramatic. It was crazy, I almost died. And then, I lost my apartment, I lost my job and I lost everything pretty much. I had to move back home to my grandma’s… back to the trailer park where I grew up. I was a lot bigger back then and they were like, “You’re gonna


Well, of course as a young dude I discovered the beat generation. Ginsberg and Kerouac, of course. But I stumbled into this guy, Charles Joseph, who, over time, actually became this mentor figure to all the people who are currently running the scenes. He’s just this older guy who had been a poet his whole life and he didn’t know much about the internet and then one day he popped on. He’s in his 40s, I think, and he met us and that kind of intensified everything because he really taught me and others what the poem is… like the idea of it. So, besides, you know, William Carlos Williams, Amiri Baraka and folks like that, there was Charles…an NJ guy that’s kind of really helped us go on. Poets in the scene that you respect and want to shout out? Well, Charles Joseph and then Ras Heru, Cord Moreski, Rebecca Weber. There are others I’m forgetting right now, unfortunately. In another year, in a perfect world, what does the poetry scene look like in Jersey? By next year, what I would assume is that we’re gonna see—not assume, this is gonna happen—poetry will be seen as a more contemporary art form. It’s not gonna be bizarre to see poets on comedy bills, and it’s not gonna be bizarre to see poets on punk bills. I’ve been doing that stuff for a while and even this past year, I’ve done it a lot more. What I’ve learned is, it’s just 13

about exposure. So, these people, they think of poetry as this archaic, esoteric thing that they were taught about in school, but it’s not. It can be of the working man and the working moment and it can be about anything. So that exposure to other audiences is what’s occurring now, and that’s what will lead to—in a perfect world—poets being less obscure/bizarre figures; normalizing poetry. You know, if you’re hanging out and you see three bands on a bill and one poet you’re like, “What?!” It may seem bizarre, but I think by 2023 it’s gonna be much more common in New Jersey. How about in five years or even more long-term? So, where we are in NJ the biggest bridge we had to cross was connecting with North Jersey. It’s been a long, storied history in North Jersey [with poetry]. I know some people up there and through conversations and phone calls and talking, we began to do an exchange of talent. Guys up north will call me and say, “Hey man, think about booking these people.” And then I’ll do the same thing. So that divide has already been bridged and now there’s other spots in New Jersey that are a bit farther away for us, you know? People don’t realize that when they think of New Jersey. All people recognize is the Shore and the Parkway, right? Well, that’s just a fraction of the state. West Jersey is an area that has just started to be touched by the poetry scene. It’s not like we’re necessarily bringing poetry there, but it’s like a Promethean journey for us. We show up and we don’t look like poets, but we’re the poets of this time period. We’re not hearkening back to a certain day, we’re here now. So when we show up and we show ’em what it could be, how it can be on the page and in performance, how it can be entertaining as well as art... It has an effect, I think. Anything else you’d like to mention? Just that we’re all inclusive, you know? Everyone is welcome. The only thing that gets you kicked out of an event is if you’re being racist or homophobic or whatever. I’ll let you even come in and speak your peace if you don’t like me, or somebody else on the show… get up on the mic, you got five minutes, go for it. Don’t be offensive to groups, I think that goes without saying in Jersey but, yeah, other than that, we let the madness kind of fly. Cause I think of each night—as long as nobody’s getting hurt, and everyone’s having a good time—I kind of let it spin on its own. I’ll let the crazy happen, I’ll let the fun happen, because that’s where these great moments come from. Our only rules are those. Oh, and don’t break my equipment. 14


Alexander Arrechea, River and Ripples, 2022. Water from the Delaware River, watercolor pigment, watercolor paper.

Alexandre Arrechea: Landscape and Hierarchies ArtYard, Frenchtown. Through Jan 22, 2023.

RetroBlakesberg: Captured on Film: 1978-2008 Morris Museum, Morris Township. Through Feb. 5, 2023.

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

A deep dive into a different aspect of Jay’s body of work; early formative years, live performance, portraiture and the Grateful Dead featuring more than 125 images. Photographs were shot on film but are displayed on archival metal sheets here. More on page 15.

Amie Adelman: Moving Lines Hunterdon Art Museum, Clinton. Through Jan. 9, 2023. An exploration of various woven and non-woven structures influenced by an in-depth study of international and national historical textile traditions.

​​Ripple Effect Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg Gallery, Visual Arts Center of NJ, Summit. Through Jan. 8, 2023.

Gaia Theory CASE at Rowan, Glassboro. Through Dec. 21, 2022.

Ripple Effect features the artwork of 37 Visual Arts Center of New Jersey teaching artists who actively transform and enrich lives through the shared experience of art.

An exhibition of Emily Erb’s collage and silk paintings. Erb embeds within the boundaries of a larger-than-life human form, navigational charts such as road, topography and war campaign maps to represent the different facets of the human physiological system.

Saya Woolfalk: Field Notes from the Empathic Universe Newark Museum of Art. Through December 31, 2022.

Locating Georgia Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers—New Brunswick. Through Dec. 30, 2022. The works of art in Locating Georgia highlight the diverse cultural and visual traditions that even today are rarely seen outside Georgia (the country), divided in themes of artists’ environs, religious imagery and the politics of identity. Lori Field: Tiger Tarot Montclair Art Museum. Through Jan. 1, 2023. A multidisciplinary exhibition centered on tarot cards the artist created during the pandemic. Field employs a reoccurring cast of human and animal hybrids to explore themes of identity, vulnerability and spirituality. New Jersey Arts Annual: Reemergence New Jersey State Museum, Trenton. Through April 30, 2023. 127 works by 95 artists centered on the them of Reemergence— from the pandemic, political polarization and racial reckoning.


For this exhibition, Woolfalk studied the Museum’s herbaria and landscape painting collections, reinterpreting these artifacts— and their relation to American identity—from the perspective of the Empathics, fictional futuristic beings who time-travel and shape-shift across the multiverse. There & Back: The Journey to Vietnam and Home NJ Vietnam Veteran Memorial and Vietnam Era Museum, Holmdel. Through March 15 2023. This exhibition draws deeply from veteran and civilian flight crew accounts. Rare in-flight photos, uniforms and ephemera provide a seldom-seen look at the bond between soldiers and the flight attendants who served with airlines during the Vietnam War. Threads of Time & Wisdom: Chilean & Guatemalan Fiber Arts Down Jersey Folklife Center, Wheaton Arts & Cultural Center, Millville. Through Nov. 14, 2022. This exhibition provides a visual comparison between traditional textiles of two indigenous communities of Latin America—the Chilean Mapuche people and the Guatemalan Maya. NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA


All Photos: © Jay Blakesberg/RetroBlakesberg: Volume 1


Jay Blakesberg on shooting the world’s biggest acts (and the culture they inspired) through the generations and his new exhibit at Morris Museum, on display until February 2023.


by Matt Cortina

hen you’re strumming a guitar, just noodling around, you might play a couple chords that sound pretty together. You can keep it simple— three chords’ll do—and play for hours. But chances are, you’ll want to add some flavor to the progression. So you walk up the low note in between chords, or you add in a little melody. Maybe you change the chords themselves, dropping off the fourth note, or adding in the ninth. You keep working at it until you transform your simple song into something unique, harmonious and completely of that moment. It’s the reward of creating in one medium for a while to make these transformations. To start simple, and to have enough knowhow backlogged to feel and capture NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

what’s right in these spontaneous moments. lids seem to sag over small pupils that look I got a similar feeling looking at music smaller because of the large rims—does he photographer Jay see the world through those Blakesberg’s blacksmall eyes or through the big RetroBlakesberg Captured on and-white photo of lenses? Shadows deepen his Film: 1978-2008 runs through Jerry Garcia (pg. 19), furrowed brow, his shoulders Feb. 5 at the Morris Museum in his latest book, slumping downward, his hand (morrismuseum.com). For RetroBlakesberg Volume Blakesberg’s latest book, Retro- barely reaching his mouth. One: The Film Archives. Is Jerry tired, sad, pissed off, Blakesberg: Volume One, go to There’s Jerry, an content? Some combination blakesberg.com. icon, in multitudes. of it all? In one glance, he’s “I had done some [phodefiant, his eyes, shaded by dark glasses, tos] with Jerry where he was sitting and questioning what you’re doing, his hand he said to me, ‘Is it OK if I smoke?’ And I over his mouth, a cigarette tucked between said, ‘Absolutely,’ because I know it actualhis index and middle fingers and into his ly creates the opportunity for that magical mouth, saying (though not), ‘I’ve got nothmoment to catch something a little more off ing to say.’ In another glance, baggy eyeguard and not something that’s just Jerry



the nutcracker The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine Sun, Dec 18 @ 3PM A magical classic for all ages! Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, The Nutcracker will fill you with holiday spirit.

cirque dreams holidaze Dec 26 @ 7PM Celebrate the holidays with this popular and electrifying stage spectacular!

dec 30 & 31

sleeping beauty The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine Sun, Jan 15 @ 6PM The State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine performs Sleeping Beauty, Tchaikovsky’s fairytale masterpiece.

nai-ni chen dance company lindsey stirling

the hip hop nutcracker

Snow Waltz Tour Dec 7 @ 8PM Come aboard for a winter joyride with pop violinist Lindsey Stirling and her new Christmas album, Snow Waltz.

with special guest MC Kurtis Blow Sat, Dec 17 @ 2 & 7:30PM NJPAC’s original holiday mashup remixes Tchaikovsky’s ballet with supercharged hip hop dance.

dance series Generous support for The Hip Hop Nutcracker is provided by the Smart Family Foundation/David S. Stone, Esq., Stone & Magnanini.

NJ Indy Ad_10 x 12.75.indd 1

Year of the Black Water Rabbit Jan 21 & 22 @ 2PM Bring the whole family to welcome the Year of the Black Water Rabbit with the spectacular Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company.

@NJPAC • 1.888.MY.NJPAC • njpac.org Groups of 9 or more call 973.353.7561 One Center Street, Newark, NJ 10/20/22 4:52 PM

© Jay Blakesberg/RetroBlakesberg: Volume 1

Garcia sitting in a chair,” Blakesberg says. It also kept Garcia photographable. Blakesberg was shooting Garcia and Dave Grisman while they were jamming in a living room for the cover of Acoustic Guitar Magazine. Garcia’s zeal for music put Blakesberg in a unique position. “Garcia kept singing while they were jamming and I kept telling him not to sing because his mouth would look weird on the cover of a magazine,” Blakesberg says. “So I’m the only guy who ever told Jerry to stop singing. “I learned with Garcia, if you give him a guitar and let him play, he’ll stay for half an hour, but if he’s just sitting there posing for you, his attention disappears really quickly,” Blakesberg says. “Letting him smoke gave me the opportunity to keep his attention because he was doing something that pleased him. Whether or not it was good for him was another story. I call that photograph ‘The Smoker,’ and it’s a really engaging photograph and it really says a lot about who Jerry Garcia was… somebody who chain-smoked cigarettes.” It is indeed both a simple photo of Garcia and a submersible into that person at that moment in time. It asks you to put yourself into it, to find something using the compass of your own experience in there, but doesn’t demand it—you can simply walk on by and say, “Damn, that dude liked to smoke.” It lets you in, but gives you an out. You get that sense flipping through RetroBlakesberg Volume One, and likely will while perusing the 125 images from Blakesberg’s career in film photography, vibrantly cast on metal sheets on display at the Morris Museum until Feb. 5. Blakesberg’s shot so many recognizable musicians over the NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA



PJ Harvey. August 13, 1995. Shoreline Amphitheatre. Mountain View, CA.

(Opposite Page) ‘Andy, Big Steph, and Lynn.’ October 18, 1980 Grateful Dead Concert Bourbon Street New Orleans, LA

years—from Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan and Neil Young to Fiona Apple, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish and Green Day—that it’s special to see them captured in his unique style, on film, often in times of live candor or in early-career staged shots. Blakesberg also captured scenes from the layman’s culture of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s— folks drinking pull-tab Budweiser in a hotel, or dancing at a festival, or doing drugs—inspiring both a sense of nostalgia (even if we didn’t live it) and a connection for those of us under 40 to a previous generation that, somehow, looks an awful lot like us. In Blakesberg’s photography, people are just people, and maybe it’s a sign of the times, but it’s a trip to see it today. Blakesberg grew up in Clark in the 1970s, spinning vinyl in his room and going to local shows when they came around. In 1977, he and a friend went to see the Jerry Garcia Band in Asbury Park, and passed around a camera. They got maybe two usable shots, and once they got the film back, developed them in a friend’s basement darkroom. They extracted two 5×7 prints, and a “magical spell” was cast over Blakesberg in 18

an instant. So he started bringing a camera to shows, first one he borrowed from his dad, then a 35 mm his pops gave him. He went to shows within 50 miles of his house— Capitol Theatre in Passaic, Rutgers, New York, The Morris Stage, etc.—to shoot his NOVEMBER 2022

favorite artists: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, David Bromberg, Eric Clapton, the Allman Brothers, Muddy Waters, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell. Can you imagine? Early on, Blakesberg recognized both his creative potential (although there was plenty of learning by error) and how this NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

pursuit could be personally fulfilling. “When you’re teenagers, you’re trying to figure out your place in the world,” Blakesberg says. “I think that for me, having a camera sort of gave me some kind of identity, made me fit in in a way that I felt like I fit in. I think it started very, very simply and it eventually changed in terms of the need to create.” In the book, Blakesberg recalls following Jorma Kaukonen to his hotel room. When he and his buds caught up with him, Blakesberg asked Kaukonen for a smile, and boy did he deliver. The shot of Kaukonen brandishing a wide, toothy grin, eyes bulging, was stellar, and he sent it into Relix magazine. They published it, Blakesberg’s first credit. He was 16. While he cultivated his photography at shows and with friends, it was the music that carried Blakesberg. He fell in love with the Grateful Dead— and the Dead experience—and soon followed the band around wherever he could. “I was not going to those Dead shows to take pictures, I was going to those Dead shows because I was becoming addicted to the Grateful Dead experience,” Blakesberg says. “Jerry Garcia once said following the Grateful Dead is the great American adventure, and it truly was.” It’s hard not to feel nostalgic for the way Blakesberg describes bouncing around Dead shows. He’d go to a show in Philly, meet some people and carpool with them to Maryland the next day. Then maybe tag along on an eight-hour ride to Pittsburgh, pick up tickets at the hardwood store on the corner, see the show, and then drive eight hours back home. All for the love of the music. “It just became a thing NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

for me because I just loved the music so much and I was taking psychedelics and I was being inspired by the music, the lyrics, the psychedelic drugs and then eventually it just made it easier to travel when we became drug dealers, you know?” Record scratch. At a Dead show in 1980—where John

slammed Blakesberg against his Chevy Nova in Edison and arrested him. Believe it or not, he didn’t see it coming. “We believed in what we were doing. We believed that LSD was going to make the planet a better place. We were young, we were naive. We felt like having these experiences

His time there could be told in another book, or several, but he says, “I feel very, very fortunate that I walked out of there a whole person and I was not raped physically, mentally or spiritually.” In the book, and in our conversation, Blakesberg is clear that if he were arrested at another time, or if he were a different person, his life would’ve played out very differently. “I know people that got arrested two or three years after me for less LSD than I got caught with and those people spent 15-20 years in jail. If that happened to me, we would not be having this conversation, I would not have created the body of work that I created, I would not be who I am, I would not be having a museum exhibit, I would not be publishing my 15th coffee table book of my photography, and you know, it would’ve been a completely different scenario for what I’ve created. “The War on Drugs has failed. It’s proven that Reagan was wrong, and Nancy was wrong and Ronnie was wrong, and it really robbed a lot of Jerry Garcia. Photographed in Marin, CA, September 2, 1993. ©Jay Blakesberg/RetroBlakesberg: Volume One people of their lives. And I’ve met a lot of people that have spent long periods of time in Belushi famously made appear- was making us better people on jail,” Blakesberg says. “It scares ances, cartwheeling on stage a better planet,” Blakesberg says. me and freaks me out when I and singing “U.S. Blues”—a “And, you know, I still believe [look back]—Holy shit, I had no guy named Brother Tom gave that for certain people [psycheidea. We had no idea that that Blakesberg a half-sheet of acid. delics] can do that, some people was even happening and that Blakesberg dosed his friends, not so much. There’s a lot of is- was even a thing. We were just they had a great time, and sues on our planet with people.” doing what we were doing and Brother Tom started supplying As the courts decided living our lives and trying not to him with a few thousand hits of what to do with him, Blakesberg hurt anybody and a lot of peoLSD to sell to his high school moved to Washington with a ple got hurt really bad.” friends. plan to enroll in Evergreen State The money he made sellCollege and show them he’s on Blakesberg moved back to ing acid allowed Blakesberg to his way to being a productive Washington after his release follow the Dead from Florida to member of society. They didn’t from jail, and set about turnAlaska and everywhere in bebuy it, and ultimately he came ing photography into a career. tween that summer. But all good back to Jersey and served an He took a corporate video and things must end, and in April eight-month sentence in Middle- photography job to pay the bills, 1981, two plainclothes cops sex County Jail. and went to smaller venues to NOVEMBER 2022


hone the craft of shooting live music. He took some “shitty jobs” just to keep photographing, like going backstage to shoot Keith Richards—shitty is relative. But even in his corporate gig, Blakebserg was shooting, and he was making time to shoot what he was passionate about. He’s thankful to have been able to stay in his craft throughout all stages of his career, though he says he was “the definition of a starving artist.” “​I​t kept me from having to get a real job. I always say that my career was based on fear. Fear is of course a terrible thing to base anything on, but it was basically the fear of having to get a real job.” By 1987, Blakesberg was able to quit his day job and set out to make it as a freelancer. By the mid-’90s, he was getting big, regular assignments, notably hundreds for Rolling Stone. He was not only becoming a master of live and portrait photography, but also updating his technology and skill set, and becoming better at directing photo shoots. As with Garcia, many established artists have little patience for photo shoots, so Blakesberg had to refine his process to get bigger acts in and out, while also getting the high-quality shots that magazines demanded. “If you’re hiring me to do a photo or a portrait for a story you’re writing, if I don’t come back with an interesting or engaging photograph, why would you hire me again? Even if I only have 5 or 10 minutes, I need to come back with the goods, because if I don’t, that’s it. I’m done,” he says. “It pays to do your research and set up and get in and out and keep the social interaction professional and almost like they don’t even realize they’re being photographed, 20

so it doesn’t feel like they’re in the dentist’s chair getting teeth pulled.” Wayne Coyne, frontman of The Flaming Lips, whom Blakesberg photographed at all stages of their career, writes the preface to RetroBlakesberg, (which, by the way, is loaded with wild, entertaining stories beyond what you read here and hundreds of photographs) and describes what it was like working with Blakesberg, especially as a young band that was trying to look cool. “It was never very fun having anyone photograph us, and with Jay, it didn’t need to be. Not that it was arduous or unpleasant (it wasn’t), just that he was deep in his craft,” Coyne writes. “Once the lights and lenses were up and running, Jay would become intensely focused. He knew what he was after. He would rarely say, ‘That looks great.’ He would mostly say, ‘Um . . . No, don’t stand that way,’ or ‘Put a hand in a pocket.’ Nothing phony, just matter-offact. He knew that if you (the subject) were nervous and trying to look cool, well, that’s how you’d look in the photo—nervous and trying to look cool. So Jay’s method was strangely reassuring. By him not wanting you to do anything, it made you feel like you were doing something right and that he thought you already looked cool.” With his career humming, the shadow of a monumental shift in the photography world (and, well, the world) was approaching. In the 2000s, Blakesberg and his fellow photographers noticed fewer assignments coming in. Technology was changing the industry rapidly—print magazines were going online, there was a big recession coming, and technology made it easier to capture usable pictures with cheap digital cameras. As the reality of this shift NOVEMBER 2022

<<< It just became a thing for me because I just loved the music so much and I was taking psychedelics and I was being inspired by the music, the lyrics, the psychedelic drugs and then eventually it just made it easier to travel when we became drug dealers, you know? >>> set in, Blakesberg lived off an advance from his first photography book, but the writing was on the wall: Embrace the shift to digital or perish. So he did. He shot everything on film and digitally, and helped pioneer the art of taking film prints and turning them into digital photos. Still, the world, in general, has changed with technology. For instance, Blakesberg notes in the book he was able to pick up a press pass from the ground while Jane Fonda was speaking at the No Nukes rally in 1979. He could bring a camera into a Bob Dylan show. He could follow Jorma Kaukonen to his hotel room. Could he do any of that today? Is there a market for wellshot photography when everyone has a decent camera in their pocket at all times? And can someone be a struggling artist, like Blakesberg was, in a culturally rich city like San Francisco or New York with cost of living prices what they are? Yes to all of that, Blakesberg says, but you must be willing to adapt. “Can you be a successful

photographer today? Absolutely. It’s just a different way,” Blakesberg says. “Photos are used and consumed differently. Obviously social media being the biggest shift in the last 15 or 20 years … ​​ but, in general, people are creating content to consume and almost dispose of. That’s another reason why I really love making books, because it’s not disposable. It’s tactile. It’s tangible. You can hold it in your hands.” And looking through Blakesberg’s work, it’s obvious that when an artist has a camera in their hands, the art is better than when a drunk concertgoer has an iPhone in the back of an arena. At the risk of sounding didactic, let the artists handle the photography, you just enjoy the show. “If you look in the book— and you look at all the photos of the fans in there—there’s Dead Heads and stage divers and mosh pits and different things like that; there isn’t cell phone technology. So all of those people who are doing those things, dancing to a song or crowd surfing or whatever it might be that they’re doing, they’re doing it because they’re in that


John Lee Hooker and Keith Richards. April 11, 1991 Russian Hill Recording Studios, San Francisco, CA.

moment organically and originally, and not doing it so they can be on Instagram or TikTok or Snapchat or whatever it is the next day. So you’re 100% in the moment to be in the moment, and that’s the big thing about phones is that we’re no longer in the moment to be in the moment. We’re in the moment to document it.” Blakesberg has provided a unique document of time and cultural/musical history in his career. RetroBlakesberg and the Morris Museum exhibit serve as valuable, tangible holders for those documents, while presenting them in a way that appeals to a younger generation. Blakesberg’s also further embraced the intersection of film photography and digital culture through his @retroblakesberg Instagram account. His daughter, Ricki, curates the account (as well as the recent book and exhibit), using her intuition about what NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

bands, fashions and lifestyle moments from her father’s catalog might appeal to today’s audience. “She wanted to reach this other demographic of people that love the Chili Peppers and love Green Day and Soundgarden and love blah, blah, blah, and were not aware of my work,” Blakesberg says. “And when they see these photos, the 22-year-old kids today, the 20-year-olds, the 17-year-old kids, they are the same as we were except they have the internet now. They’re trying to figure out where they fit in, what drugs they should try, what drugs they shouldn’t try, what concerts they want to go to, what music to listen to, what they should wear, what the fashion was. So a lot of these photos bring back the nostalgia of that time period and again influence and inspire a young generation.” The Morris Museum exhibit, too, takes


care of Blakesberg’s art by virtue of featuring them on metal manufactured by ChromaLuxe and printed by Magna Chrome. The photos are vibrant, and they endure like the photos themselves. “As photographers, as artists, it’s important the way of presenting our work is archival,” Blakesberg says. “That it’ll last for decades and decades and decades, maybe even more; a 100-year-run or 150 years. Because we don’t want that to disappear, especially if it’s hanging in a museum or someone’s buying this work. We want them to be able to appreciate it for generations to come.” RetroBlakesberg Captured on Film: 1978-2008 runs through Feb. 5 at the Morris Museum (morrismuseum.com). For Blakesberg’s latest book, RetroBlakesberg: Volume One, go to blakesberg.com. 21

Día de los Muertos

Nov. 5. Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton. Celebrate el Día de los Muertos with the Arts Council of Princeton. Join in for a free, family-friendly outdoor festival to learn about this culturally rich holiday with Mariachi, dancers, food and hands-on projects inspired by traditional folk art. The Arts Council connects the traditions of the holiday by building a community altar dedicated to loved ones, making sugar skulls, decorating with Celosia and Cempasuchil flowers and featuring local traditional food and drink of Mexico. Free and open to the public. To submit an event for next month’s calendar, email editor@ njindy.com. Check with venues before attending events. NOVEMBER 1-6 Wine in the Wilderness Nov. 2-6. Two River Theater, Red Bank. An artist finds his muse—and gets more than he expected. As an uprising rocks his Harlem neighborhood on a hot summer night, artist Bill Jameson is more focused on finishing his latest work: three paintings representing three types of Black womanhood. More than his artistic vision is challenged by the arrival of an unexpected muse, who refuses to be bound by his shallow assumptions of all that Black womanhood can be. Nate Bargatze: The Raincheck Tour Nov. 3. NICO Kitchen + Bar, Newark. You’re gonna have to Google how to move a dead horse. 22

Come Blow Your Horn Nov. 4-6, 11-12. Kelsey Theatre, West Windsor. Neil Simon’s first Broadway comedy smash is all about family and all the crazy, hilarious and wonderful things that happen when parents and their adult children get together. Cow Parade Nov. 5. Cherry Grove Farm, Lawrence Township. The Cow Parade is based on the Swiss Alpine autumn tradition of bringing the cows down from the mountain pastures where they have been grazing all summer. It is an opportunity to praise and honor the cows by decorating them with large bells, flowers and garlands. All afternoon there will be live music; all sorts of food; vendors selling local, artisanal products; hay rides; fun, games and crafts for children; face painting; and animals to visit. NOVEMBER 2022

Beers on the Boards Nov. 5. Point Pleasant Beach Boardwalk. Craft beer from over 30 breweries plus an allyou-can-eat buffet and live music. All beer and buffet food is included in the ticket price of $60. Meadowlands Chili Cook Off Nov. 5. Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, East Rutherford Stop by for some competitive chili; you’ll get to taste and vote for the best. Cider Making Event Nov. 5. Howell Living History Farm, Hopewell. This family event features a demonstration of fresh apple cider making. All you have to do is turn the crank of the cider press… and then help re-fill the hopper with the Macs, Cortlands and Red Delicious apples that make for a perfect blend. Peel an apple with a hand-crank apple peeler and stop by the farmhouse for lunch and homemade apple pie. NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA


Clinton Food Truck & Music Fest Nov. 5. Bundt Park, Clinton. Sixteen food trucks, live music, vendors, beer, margarita and sangria garden, kid activities including pony rides, petting zoo, face painting, sand art, knockerball, bounce house, slide and more.

Not Just Nyckelharpa Orchestra Fall Sessions Nov. 8. Tuesdays through Dec. 13.The Birdhouse Center for the Arts, Lambertville. Come join this community orchestra. A non-traditional orchestra for those that love traditional music; All instruments welcome from the standard to the bizarre. A Beautiful Bond: A jazz poetry performance celebrating Black and Latinx solidarity Nov. 8. Virtual. NJ PAC, Newark.

Wilderness Survival: 3-Season Skills Nov. 5. Lewis Morris County Park, Morristown. Do you know what to do if something goes awry on your next outdoor excursion? During this REI class you will learn practical tips and strategies that every outdoor traveler should know. They’ll cover the 10 essentials and their practical applications. You’ll also learn about emergency priorities, how to make an emergency shelter, how to locate and access drinking water, and how to start a fire. Guy Fawkes Day Celebration Nov. 5. Descendants Brewing Company at the Old Ship Inn, Milford. Traditional English dishes like Bonfire Bangers, potatoes, neeps and parkin cake. Plus, traditional songs and storytelling. Assisted Living: The Musical Nov. 6. Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre, Red Bank. Welcome to Pelican Roost, the party school of retirement communities. This show tells the tales Granny will never tell. Pelican Roost is a place where buffoonery lives next door to screwball, just across the way from cockamamie! Second Annual Duck Donuts 5k/10k Run Nov. 6. Duke Island Park, Bridgewater. Run for some time and there’ll be a free Duck Donut and a medal waiting for you at the finish line. The race is open to all types of runners and walkers. Bring your family, bring the dog, and bring your appetite. NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

Through the evocative power of poetry and jazz, this free online event will celebrate the historic bond between African American and Latinx people, and their shared struggle for liberation. “A Beautiful Bond” was conceived by Vincent Toro, the award-winning Boricua multi-disciplinary artist, Rider University creative writing professor, and Rutgers University-Newark MFA. The Story Crisis: Climate Chaos as Narrative Emergency w/ Rebecca Solnit Nov. 8. McCosh Hall 50, Princeton University. Writer, historian and activist Rebecca Solnit is the author of more than 20 books on feminism, western and urban history, popular power, social change and insurrection, wandering and walking, hope and catastrophe. A product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school, she writes regularly for the Guardian, serves on the board of the climate group Oil Change International, and just launched the climate project Not Too Late. In the Spotlight: Acting Workshops from Franklin Theatre Works Nov. 9 (Wednesdays in November). Flemington DIY. Franklin Theatre Works, Ensemble Theatre is teaming up with Flemington DIY to present In the Spotlight, intimate evenings of scenes, songs and one-acts to be performed at DIY on select Wednesday evenings. Classes for kids 8-12, and adults 18+. The Art of Living Well: Kendal Mountain Tour Nov. 10. Hopewell Theater. The world famous Kendal Mountain Festival Tour is coming to North America for the first time in its history. Join in for an


evening celebrating adventure from some of the most spectacular places on Earth. You’ll be guided through a curation of stories from across the globe, told by a unique collection of travelers, athletes, activists and creatives. Black Violin: Give Thanks Holiday Tour Nov. 10. Union County PAC, Rahway. Black Violin is led by classically trained string players Wil B. (viola) and Kev Marcus (violin). Joining them onstage are DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes. The band’s Give Thanks Tour employs playful storytelling, whimsical string melodies, and hard-hitting beats to highlight the unifying pillars of the holiday season: Giving back to others and being wholeheartedly thankful. Westfield Hops Nov. 12. Westfield Armory. Join us at the Westfield Armory for over 100 styles of craft beer & cider samples, music from Mr Love Joy, access to great food, vendors, games and merchandise. Art Fair 14C Nov. 11-13. The Glass Gallery at Mana Contemporary, Jersey City. The annual fair provides a showcase for more than 80 exhibitors and over 120 artists from NJ and nearby, giving art lovers exposure to a wide variety of visual artworks, in all media and for all budgets. ‘Tis the Wind and Nothing More Nov. 11-13, 18-20. Grunin Center for the Arts, Toms River. In ‘Tis the Wind and Nothing More, travel to the darkest corners inside Edgar Allen Poe’s mind, as some of his favorite tales and poems are blended together to create a chilling excursion. Fall under the spell of these familiar stories and poems brought to life in a theatrical adaptation that is suspenseful, sinister and sensual.

EVENTS continued on Page 24 23

Scott Streble

the grounds of Laurita Winery. Pair wines with the many food offerings available from onsite food trucks and listen to live music.

An Intimate Evening 55th Annual Apple Festival with Dessa Nov. 12. Old Bridge Civic Center McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton. Free admission to the festival, which features holiday crafts, Three-part harmonies, ex- apple pies, music and more. istential philosophy, witty Though not required, bring a monologue and one spilled gift for a Toys for Tots donation. drink. Dessa and her band are returning to McCarter New Jersey Symphony: to read performance poet- Centennial Gala and ConIt’s a Wonderful Life ry from her just-published cert with Yo-Yo Ma Radio Play. collection Tits on The Moon, Nov. 12. NJ PAC, Newark. Nov. 11-19. Sieminski Theater, share tour stories and perBernards Township. form new music. The event This landmark event marks 100 will include a Q&A, some years of musical excellence, Usher in the holiday season adult language, and a innovation and inclusion. Join with this beloved American carousel of emotions. Music Director Xian Zhang and holiday classic that comes to your favorite orchestra musicaptivating life as a live 1940s cians for a night to remember. Herald, Holler and radio broadcast. With the help of an ensemble Hallelujah, a New Jersey Symphony co-commisthat brings a few dozen characters to the stage, sion from the prolific Wynton Marsalis, will kick the story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as off this celebratory evening with an infusion of he considers ending his life one fateful Christjazz melodies that will warm and excite all in mas Eve. attendance. The legendary and groundbreaking cellist Yo-Yo Ma will take center stage to Fun Home masterfully perform the king of cello concertos: Nov. 11-20. Lauren K. Woods Theatre, Monmouth Dvořák’s passionate concerto. University, West Long Branch.


When her father dies unexpectedly, graphic novelist Alison dives deep into her past to tell the story of the volatile, brilliant, one-of-a-kind man whose temperament and secrets defined her family and her life. Alison relives her unique childhood playing at the family’s Bechdel Funeral Home, her growing understanding of her own sexuality, and the looming, unanswerable questions about her father’s hidden desires. Adapted from Alison Bechdel’s groundbreaking graphic novel, Fun Home is a refreshingly honest, wholly original musical about seeing your parents through grown-up eyes. Monthly Makers Market Nov. 12. Flemington DIY. In tandem with the weekly Farmers’ Market at Stangl Factory, DIY’s monthly market features 15 local vendors and focuses on creators, designers, collectors, and curators. November Food Truck Festival Nov. 12. Laurita Winery, New Egypt. An outdoor, fun-filled day of relaxing fun on 24

Holiday Crafts and Drafts Nov. 12. Jersey Girl Brewing, Hackettstown. ​​ Marketspace returns to Jersey Girl Brewing Company for a crowd-favorite handmade market: Crafts and Drafts. This holiday market is indoors in the warehouse tasting room and features local artisans. Free admission to the brewery and the market. This is a family and dog friendly event. Beer is available for purchase. New Jersey Vegan Food Festival Nov. 12-13. Meadowlands Exposition Center, Secaucus. A two-day celebration of vegan and plantbased meals from local chefs, as well as vegan products, plant-based fashion, live music and good times. Annual Ham Dinner! Nov. 13. Prospect Heights Vol. Fire Co. Ham, “real” mashed potatoes, cole slaw, green beans, applesauce, rolls and dessert. If there’s a ham dinner, you’re not gonna not go to a ham dinner, dammit. The Chocolate Expo 2022 Fall Edition Nov. 13. NJ Expo Center, Edison. The Chocolate Expo features tastings and sales of chocolates, baked goods, specialty foods, cheeses, wines and more, along with entertainment throughout the day. 2022 Teaneck International Film Festival Nov. 13-20. In-person and virtual screenings, Teaneck.

Psychedelia plus Q&A with Filmmaker and Lobby Reception Nov. 12. ACME Screening Room Lambertville. Filmmaker Patrick Murphy started making Psychedelia in 2011, ultimately producing, financing and distributing the film independently. Psychedelia is a documentary film about psychedelic drugs and their ability to induce mystical and religious experiences. The film chronicles their use in controlled research studies prior to the cultural upheaval of the ’60s, when LSD was but a promising medical breakthrough.


A collection of compelling and imaginative feature-length films, documentaries, and shorts from a variety of cultures that will lead audiences to question, debate, and become caring and involved citizens who recognize the need to institute positive change. NOVEMBER 15-22 Barefoot Grape Stomping Nov. 18. Four Sisters Winery, Belvidere. Yes, take off those shoes and socks and roll up your pants and get ready to do some barefoot grape stomping. Plus, there’s a formal wine tasting, dinner and cellar tour, with a tasting of dessert wines. Includes wine glass to take home. NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

Courtesy Alton Brown Live

A Christmas Carol Nov. 18-20. Hackensack Meridian Health Theatre, Red Bank. Visit, again, with Ebeneezer Scrooge and poor, little Tiny Tim in this seasonal production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The Unconvention 2: NJ’s Convention for the Unconventional Nov. 18-20. Hyatt Regency Morristown. “A celebration of mutual weirdness,” join in on the Unconvention 2 with live music and Thursday night pre-party with food and burlesque at QXTS Nightclub in Newark. Lewis Black Nov. 18, State Theatre, New Brunswick. Nov. 19-20, Bergen PAC, Englewood. Lewis Black is one of the most prolific and popular performers working today. His live performances provide a cathartic release of anger and disillusionment for his audience. National Players Production of Fences Nov. 19. Stockton PAC, Galloway. The classic play comes to Stockton PAC. In it, Troy Maxson, a star Negro League ball player, retires before integration in baseball. Now in 1950s Pittsburgh, Troy hauls garbage to provide for his family; when his son Cory wants to play football, Troy worries the same barriers he faced will crush Cory’s dreams, and he’ll crush them first before anyone else does. Holiday Craft Show Nov. 19. The Historic Village at Allaire State Park, Farmingdale. Over 130 crafters, Allaire artisans, floral exhibits, historic demonstrations, food and more. Local artists will be demonstrating their work. Paintings, pottery, textiles and more, plus craft demonstrations. In Celebration of Old Trees Art Show Nov. 19. Weekends through Dec. 11. Terhune Orchards, Princeton. Come meet the artists and view more than 30 pieces of art inspired by Terhune Orchards’ century-old apple trees. New Jersey Ballet presents New Direction Nov. 19. Mayo PAC, Morristown. The season-opener features three works that NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA


Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats NJPAC, Newark.

The host of Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen returns to NJPAC with a multi-media show that blends science, music and food into delicious entertainment. In Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats, fans can expect comedy, talk show antics, multimedia presentations and music (yes, he sings).

point to the new artistic vision Maria Kowroski has for New Jersey Ballet as Artistic Director.

Covered Bridge Artisans Fall Studio Tour Nov. 25. Sergeantsville Firehouse Event Center, Stockton.

Skating On The Square Nov. 19 through February, Thursdays to Sundays. Hulfish St., Princeton.

Visit eight artist studios in the Hunterdon/ Bucks County area and 14 artists in the Events Center.

Palmer Square’s “eco-friendly” outdoor synthetic skating rink opens this November. Bring your own skates or rent theirs.

Jim Gaffigan: The Fun Tour Nov. 25. Borgata Event Center, Atlantic City.

New Jersey Symphony: Jessie Montgomery & Mozart Nov. 20. State Theatre, New Brunswick. Mozart’s Symphony No. 38, Montgomery’s Rounds for Piano and String Orchestra and the Strauss Suite. NOVEMBER 23-30 Gobble Gobble Hike Nov. 25. South Mountain Reservation Essex County Dog Park, Maplewood. Colorful four- to five-mile trail hike exploring the South Mountain Reservation; should be an enjoyable way to burn off that Thanksgiving feast.


Jim Gaffigan appeals to all tastes without being too sanitized to be funny. “Hot Pockets” will always be funny. Newton Holiday Parade Nov. 26, beginning at 10 a.m. Spring Street, Newton. Themed floats, live music and Santa’s gonna be there, y’all. Vienna Boys Choir Nov. 30. Bergen PAC, Englewood. Continuing a centuries old tradition, 100 choristers from 30 different nations between the ages of 10 and 14, divided into four touring choirs give around 300 concerts and performances each year. The choir’s repertoire includes everything from medieval to contemporary and experimental music. 25


Photo: Kerri Sullivan

Photo Courtesy Matt Harvey


Craving a career change in the pandemic, Matt Harvey turned to bagels by Kerri Sullivan

ou’ve seen the headlines. They read almost like a fantasy: Join the Great Resignation, quit your 9-5, do the thing you’d rather be doing instead. For many, quitting a job to pursue a passion is untenable or otherwise out of reach. But for some, like Matt Harvey, quitting was the first step on a journey toward a more fulfilling life. Earlier this summer, Harvey quit his job to pursue making bagels full time. His business, Harvey’s Handrolled Bagels, is “a pandemic story.” “For the past decade I’ve been working in medical sales, before that I was playing music— touring in bands after college,” Harvey says. “I was already sick of being in the field, sick of being in sales, sick of the corporate life and all that crap. I just didn’t want to do it anymore.” In early 2020, Harvey was living in Jersey City and started getting more involved with cooking and baking at home as a creative outlet—“For the heck of it, I started making bagels,” he says. Over the years, he’d eaten a lot of bagels from different shops due to his sales career. “I worked in NYC for 10 years. I had different territories so I was all over the place, from the top of Westchester and White Plains down to Staten Island. I went to every bagel shop everywhere.” When the pandemic hit, Harvey “had more time to read, to learn,” he says. He consulted


Harvey’s Handrolled Bagels. 98 Walnut St., Montclair. harveyshandrolled.com.

bread baking books as well as the subreddit r/Breadit, where many home bakers share recipes and tips. He also watched videos on YouTube, TikTok and Instagram, “where food creators, trained or not, were showing their processes.” One of the biggest assets Harvey brought to his bagel-making journey was his chemistry background—he studied biology and psychology in college, and took plenty of chemistry courses along the way. “I quickly understood the science of bread, which helped me get the bagel right,” he says. Those early experiments he conducted in his home kitchen “started coming out pretty good,” so Harvey launched a weekend delivery service with the goal of donating the proceeds to relief funds benefiting NJ and NYC restaurant workers and the Community FoodBank of New Jersey. In the beginning, his deliveries went to friends and family and people within his immediate network—“Then I made an Instagram and a few other people started picking up on it,” he says. That summer, Harvey resumed in-person work in the city, so he stopped offering the bagels. There’s a timeline where that could’ve been it. Harvey’s bagels could’ve been an occasional hobby, and the story of selling them during a pandemic to benefit charities could’ve been an interesting anecdote he shared with coworkers when they asked how he


spent his time at home. After all, how many of your pandemic pastimes have you kept up with? How’s your sourdough starter doing these days? But it turned out his friends and family missed the bagels, so he decided to offer them again in late 2020 on weekends, while balancing his day job. As he did pop-ups at friends’ restaurants and shops, his Instagram presence and word-of-mouth buzz continued to grow. Harvey wondered if maybe there was a way to successfully take his pandemic pastime and turn it into a whole new life. Then Harvey’s friend Beverly Lacsina, whom he met at Rutgers 15 years ago, presented him with an opportunity that changed everything. At that time, Lacsina was the head chef and manager of Corso 98, an Italian restaurant on Walnut Street in Montclair. She had ordered bagels a couple of times and thought Harvey was onto something, so she invited him to do a pop-up in the restaurant’s bakery, Cucina 98. “We did that and from there people really liked it, it picked up and I kept doing it,” says Harvey. What was first scheduled to be a one-time thing became monthly, then weekly, and “by the end of 2021, we were talking about buying this place, and that’s what we did in April,” Harvey says. Lacsina and Harvey opened last spring as Walnut Street Kitchen, with Harvey’s Handrolled NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

Simply fresh and Delicious!

Photos Courtesy Matt Harvey and Walnut Street Bakery nextdoor to the restaurant. “It was definitely a huge shift. I don’t have much culinary training, it’s all stuff I’ve learned myself and with Bev as my mentor within this field,” Harvey says. “She’s been working in this industry for 13 years and she’s helped open some pretty big restaurants. She’s given me a lot of guidance through this.” Harvey’s Handrolled currently offers about a dozen types of bagels, and he plans to add frequently requested whole wheat and whole wheat everything varieties soon. He describes his bagels as “a mix of the doughy-fluffy Jersey-style bagels with the NYC-style crispy crust.” The bagels are also the foundation for Harvey’s sandwich offerings—“Some sandwiches are based on ones I’ve enjoyed over time, my own take on them,” he says. The most popular is probably the Jersey City Devil, which features Taylor Ham, fried egg, American cheese, crispy hash brown and spicy scallion cream cheese. “I’ve tried to take a bunch of nostalgic things and make my own versions of them,” Harvey says. Like he did early on, Harvey continues to find ways to work with other businesses and to give back through his bagels. “My buddy runs a nonprofit called Good Times Familia, which provides skateboarding gear to kids, and he makes hot sauces and a romesco sauce that benefit the organization, so we use those in sandwiches,” Harvey says. Those sandwiches are The Cafone (fried eggs, charred long hots, mozzarella, and Good Times’ Romesco) and The Corner Store (crispy bacon, fried eggs, Cheddar, scallion cream cheese and Good Times’ OG Mango Rojo Hot Sauce). He’s also collaborated on a brisket sandwich with The Velveteen Pig and plans to do more crossovers with other food businesses. As for the future, Harvey is going all-in on some big plans, starting with a shift in hours to accommodate folks who commute into the city from Walnut Street Station, just steps away from the bakery. “I see everybody in the mornings when I am here prepping and they’re bolting to the train, so hopefully if they know we’re open early they’ll leave themselves enough time to get a bagel and coffee,” Harvey says. Expansion is his next goal, in part for practical reasons: the current kitchen, which he shares with the restaurant and bakery, is too small to think about scaling up to something like catering. “I want to open up out in Jersey City, too. It’s a hometown for me because I lived there for 10 years.” Harvey says. “And maybe somewhere else, maybe New Brunswick. I went to school at Rutgers so it’s a nostalgic place for me. I played a lot of basement shows there. The music scene was really big when I was there; there were a lot of big bands that came out of there and really blew up.” For as much as Harvey credits his science background for his success, his years spent as a musician deserve some of the credit, too. There’s very much a DIY ethos to his business, demonstrated in the scrappiness of its beginnings, the offbeat names of his sandwiches, the commitment to bringing people together, and in his dreams for what’s next. “It’s all new, I’m still learning, but it’s been fun.”






A taste of the state in four dishes. Short Rib Panino @ Cattani in Ewing Slow braised beef short rib is topped with caramelized onions, horseradish aioli and aged Cheddar cheese, and placed on semolina ciabatta bread. The bread is crispy, the Cheddar is sharp, the horseradish is sharper and the short rib is savory and tender (it’s the best cut of beef, if you didn’t know). It’s all served alongside “Italian-style chips,” which are like unsweet pastry crisps with Mediterranean seasoning, and they are irresistible.

Octopus a la Plancha @ Juniper Hill in Annandale A thin spread of black garlic and squid ink sauce, and small dollops of brilliantly colored saffron aioli dresses the plate for perfectly seared octopus laid upon a bed of the most savory, lightly mashed fingerling potatoes and Calabrian chilis. If you’re a first-timer to octopus, Juniper is the place to try it; and if you’re already a fan, this version may redefine your notion of how good it can be.

Fried Cassava with Pork Crackling @ Main Street Cafe in Hackettstown

The fried cassava has tender flesh and crispy skin, and its slightly nutty, vaguely bitter taste is irresistible. Its starchy innards hold up to whatever’s heaped on it, in this case abundant chunks of crisped pork belly. It’s all smothered in a mild, barely sweet pink sauce, crunchy cabbage and queso fresco. The balance of sweet and savory is perfect, and the fattiness of the pork balances out all the acidic notes in the dish.

Crunch Wrap @ Cat’s Luck Vegan Bakery in Neptune City Try a Cat’s Luck crunch wrap, and then eat the equivalent at Taco Bell or Chipotle—guess which one is gonna make you feel like shit after you eat it. The Cat’s Luck vegan variety is going to taste better anyway. Cat’s Luck rotates special wraps throughout the week—vegan Cuban, “honee” BBQ “chicken”—to pair with its core lineup. We opted for the OG, the original crunch wrap: tvp (textured vegetable protein) taco meat, black beans, potatoes, lettuce, tomato and sour cream.



Restaurant openings 801 Craft Kitchen & Spirits (Belmar). Contemporary American cuisine with a robust spirits/ cocktail program. Angelico Winery Tasting Room (Lambertville). The folks here have turned a small animal barn into a quaint tasting room in a unique environment. Live music and vineyard tours available. Aura (Hackensack). Chic, upscale restaurant and bar serving modern American dishes with a European flare. Chutzpah! (Westfield). The second location (the first is Maplewood) for this casual spot with an innovative Middle Eastern menu. Double Dyme Tavern (South Amboy). Owner Michelle Gadaleta has created an upscale dive bar—the food is elevated pub grub, the atmosphere is casual. Gordon Ramsey’s Hells Kitchen (Atlantic City). There will be red and blue sides, but people probably won’t get yelled at. Prime 259 (River Edge). Elevated Italian entrées, steak and seafood with an expansive lunch menu. Shawnee’s China Soul (Teaneck). An inventive blend of soul food and Chinese cuisines. Think: Cajun lo mein, ginger oxtail stew and kung pao buffalo pizza. Holy hell.


DRINK NEWS & NOTES Two NJ breweries recently took home medals at the esteemed Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado. First, Source Brewing in Colts Neck won a gold medal in the Belgian-style Strong Specialty Ale category with its Colts Abbey, a Belgian quadruppel with notes of bananas foster, rum-soaked raisin and toffee. And, Triumph Brewing in Red Bank won in the Kellerbier or Zwickelbier category for its Keller Pils, a refined Euro-style lager that expertly blends citrus, smoke, bread and cream. November 5 is National Learn to Homewbrew Day. (Let’s be honest, though, any day is a good day to learn to homebrew.) The American Homebrewers Association is providing resources and support, including a recipe for a Hoppy Amber Ale; and good news, you likely have a lot of the equipment at home already. Go to homebrewersassociation.org for more information. What’s going on with the state’s brewery laws? It’s a clusterfuck, to be short. If you missed it, the state division in charge of overseeing breweries put into place rules that limit how many events they can hold and prevents them (again) from coordinating with food trucks, or selling food (or coffee themselves). Anyway, the state legislature is holding hearings on it as of print time; it’s predictably messy. Go to njindy.com for more.


pen to the public for just over a decade, Beneduce is a family-owned and -operated vineyard that produces estate wines of a quality on par with the most heralded wineries on the East Coast, regardless of the growing region. (And, you don’t have to take our word for it; four of their wines received 90+ points from James Suckling.) The folks at Beneduce have taken great care to cultivate varieties of grapes that can not only survive in our unique climate, but flourish in the local terroir to create great-tasting wines. On their property you’ll find familiar grapes like Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir, yet, its the successful maturation of less common varieties (in the region) like Gewürztraminer and Blaufränkisch—which feature prominently on the tasting room menu—that exemplify the vineyard manager’s exper-

Drink this: The Dreaming @ Wild Air Beerworks in Asbury Park This low-ABV grisette is a well-refined beer with notes of black pepper, bergamot and clove. Wild Air specializes in lagers and sours; their newly opened digs in Asbury Park are worth a visit. And be sure to check out The Power (and its sister beer, The Glory), a remarkable Czech dark lager.


The jewel of West Jersey’s wine scene Blink and you’ll miss Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown. You don’t want to miss it.


tise and sets Beneduce’s wine apart from its peers in the state. The environs at Beneduce might not actually be the most picturesque of all West Jersey vineyards, but it’s producing some incredible wine. The tasting was reasonably priced at $15 (lower than most of the other wineries we tried), and we learned quite a bit about each of their varieties and the history of the vineyard with each pour. Of the many wines we sampled, the Gewürztraminer (aromatic, full-flavored white) and Blaufränkisch (the signature red—rich and savory with a spicy finish) were special; we truly couldn’t believe that estate wines of this quality could be done in Jersey and had to purchase a bottle of each to take home. Each wine was well-refined and balanced, indicative of both the care taken in cultivating the grapes and in the winemaking process. — Connor Reddington 29


Linear park to connect Jersey City and Montclair by Indy staff


he state recently announced it had purchased nine miles of abandoned train line, which will be turned into a linear park, dubbed the Essex-Hudson Greenway. The announcement was lauded by organizers of the Greenway, which had been working for years to negotiate a price for the land, secure funding and design it. Now, one of the state’s most densely populated areas—Jersey City to Montclair— will have this resource available to them; it’ll serve as both a recreation and commuting hub. The positive of this outcome also balances th negative of having, historically, industrial detritus in the area, which long affected quality of life for those who lived nearby. “For far too long our families have had to deal with the negative impact of an abandoned rail line. From illegal dumping to being an inviting space for negative activities, the rail line has tainted homeownership, backyards, new developments, new elementary schools and the first countywide park system in the country,” said Senate Majority Leader M. Teresa Ruiz. “It is truly historic to see this project finally coming to fruition, which will bring an end to a decades long public nuisance.” The Greenway will also plug into other trails, like the September Eleventh National Memorial Trail and the East Coast Greenway, a growing network of off-road trails from Maine to Florida, (including New Jersey), which requires public investment in trail connections like this. “The Essex-Hudson Greenway will be a game-changer for the East Coast Green30

way and equitable transportation in northern New Jersey,” said East Coast Greenway Alliance Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano. “Its development will greatly improve one of the most treacherous stretches of our Maine-to-Florida route. This new greenway will provide an equitable and safe path for commuters and recreational use, as well as countless economic, environmental and health benefits for the region.” The price ($65 million) to acquire the 135-acre parcel of land was negotiated by the Open Space Institute, ​​the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition and the 9/11 Trail Alliance. It was unclear throughout the year whether the state would allocate the funds to buy the land from the Norfolk Southern rail company. NOVEMBER 2022

But the state’s recent budget included $20 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds to begin the early remedial work necessary to turn the land into a usable park. The entire area will be closed to the public for six months to a year, and will be opened segment-by-segment as work is completed over the next several years. The new park will pass through eight communities—Montclair, Glen Ridge, Bloomfield, Belleville, Newark, Kearny, Secaucus and Jersey City—while crossing both the Passaic and Hackensack rivers. The rail line runs through existing parks and wetlands as well as more developed areas. The initial design of the park includes walking paths, bike lanes and more to maximize its connection to nature. NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA


Go here: High Point State Park Looky here, leaf-peepers. We’re all for a picturesque drive close to home to take in the seasonal changing of the colors, but if you’re serious about looking at tree ogling, go to High Point State Park in Sussex County. High Point is the summit of Kittatinny Ridge and, as the name implies, the highest point in the state at 1,803 feet above sea level. The monument which marks it (and which is dedicated to NJ war veterans), is an easy visit—simply park in the lot and walk up a hill, and boom, an unparalleled view. You can choose to move your legs a bit with a short walk to the summit, as well. Park at Lake Marcia Beach lot or start at the Interpretive Center and walk a little less than a mile to the monument. There’s a steep incline toward the top, but you can do it. But if it’s up to us, we suggest you enjoy one of the best hiking areas in the Northeast and follow the 3.5-mile Monument Trail loop. The trail is a mix of grass, packed rock and larger rocks (no major scrambling necessary). NJ INDY / FREE ALT MEDIA

As you walk along the trail, you’ll get glimpses of the monument, peeks at the vista and the chance to climb a wooden observation deck for more views. When you reach the monument, you’ll get views of Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and you can climb the monument itself, if you’d like. The nice thing about High Point is that once the leaves are brown, withered and fallen, there’s still plenty of opportunities for recreation. There are 10 miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiiers, and (if this is your bag), you can participate in a November deer hunt up there. Group campsites are open year-round, too. When the weather warms back up, there’s opportunities for swimming, boating, kayaking, and more. Plus, cabins with woodstoves and electricity are open from May to October. But, as many of you probably already know, there’s no one right time to hit High Point. The time is always right.