Late Spring 2022

Page 1

Journal Entries of the Upper Delaware River Region • Serving PA, NJ & NY

Late Spring 2022

Publisher & Editor

Amy Bridge

Creative Director

Jimmy Sheehan

Associate Editor

B’Ann Bowman


Amy Bridge Susan Mednick Kimberly Hess


Anna Herscher, Martin Schmalenberg, Will Voelkel, David Richards, Eric Francis, Robert Bowman


The tri-state upper Delaware River highlands and valleys are a place of rare beauty…. Seeing the region and living in it almost aren’t enough. Such beauty should be captured on canvas or film so that one can truly appreciate it, glimpse it in the quiet of an art gallery or museum, or between the pages of a poetry book or literary sketch. The Journal Group’s mission is to capture these momentary snapshots of beauty graphically and through the written word. We celebrate our area and the uniqueness of the people who live and work in the tri-state region. From Pike to Wayne and Monroe to Lackawanna Counties in Pennsylvania, upriver to Sullivan County and on to Orange County in New York, and to the headwaters of the Wallkill River and along Sussex County’s rolling hills in New Jersey, with quaint, historic towns and hamlets at the center, the Journal Group opens its doors to our communities, businesses and organizations, to serve as a communicative journal of all that we have to offer for those who live here and for those who love to visit us, too.

Publication Information

The Journal Group publishes The Journal ten times a year and distributes it in eight counties in PA, NJ and NY. We assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts. Contents may not be reproduced in any form without prior written permission. We reserve the right to refuse to print advertisements that we deem inappropriate. All rights reserved.

Uniting PA, NJ & NY PO Box 1026 • Milford, PA 18337 • 908.578.3138




Late Spring 2022

• art •

Frontline Arts


• history •


• food •


• life •


• nature •

Past Tense

In a Pickle

Jesse Clemente Paw Print

6 • journal entry 7 • poem 35 • signs

Journal Entries of the Upper Delaware River Region • Serving PA, NJ & NY

Late Spring 2022

Cover Line Peanut, a beagle mix puppy, was able to get emergency heart surgery before her adoption from Father John’s Animal House in Lafayette, NJ. Photo courtesy of Father John’s Animal House 5

Journal Entry

On Healing a Community There’s an old Chinese Proverb that goes like this: If there is light in the soul, There will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, There will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, There will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, There will be peace in the world.


ately, we have become a divided community, nation, world. Study history—it’s nothing new. What would be new, and refreshing though, is to put major focus on developing areas of common ground. Does it take a major catastrophe for us to come together to support each other? Can we not heal our divide? I, for one, do not want to dwell on what separates us. I don’t want to live in fear and darkness, surrounded by hate. There is too much beauty in the world for that. This is not just talk; we are living this philosophy through our work at The Journal. Community is where it starts or where it can end. We are all human and have the capacity to feel the same human emotions: love, happiness, hate, anger, greed, etc. “There is no us and them,” says Father Van Bankston of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, Milford, PA. “There is no us and it. No one and no thing are apart from creation.” Because we lean this way or that politically does not make us bad or evil people. We should not forget that opinions are just that, opinions, and it is human to look at life through different perspectives. What is not good, however, is the inability to have an open-minded, calm discussion with someone who has opposing points of view. And that too seems to be the way of the world right now. But again, I say, look to history. This mode of unsupportive, unconnected behavior only changes with real effort by individual people within their own communities. Local communities are a microcosm of what happens in the rest of the country, the rest of the world, that’s true…but behavioral change has to start with each individual. Finger pointing is not the answer. A vibrant, healthy community takes work and lots of positive energy. It all starts here.

Amy 6

Photo by David Richards


To the Delaware Rolling hills, rolling mountains, rolling rivers– wild and free. O’er the bluffs into the Delaware, rolling down to the sea. The Alleghenies to the Poconos, rolling forests– wild and free. Falls race crystal to the Delaware, rolling down to the sea. Clouds roll o’er the fertile farmlands, shed their rains– wild and free. Rains that swell the mighty Delaware, rolling down to the sea. A morning mist rests on the Delaware, a sunset’s glow– red, wild and free. The days roll by, each night grows longer– rolling down to the sea. -David Richards




By Anna Herscher

Story and Community through Handmade Paper and Printmaking

Walt Nygard

Frontline Arts


“My throat won’t work. There is so much but I just can’t say it.” Talia Lugacy in the HBO Max movie, This Is Not a War Story, featuring Frontline Arts veterans. rt can tell a story too profound for words.

Frontline Arts opens the doors of its studios in Branchburg, New Jersey, to some folks with big stories to tell. The community there welcomes veterans of all service eras and military branches to come, hang out, and get involved in producing gorgeous handmade paper and prints.

Photos courtesy of Walt Nygard

Veterans participate in a community-based practice of deconstruction, literally chopping up military uniforms, and then reclamation, making paper from the cloth for their own artwork. Anyone can take a seat at one of the large tables and help chop up the uniforms and then do some basic papermaking tasks, so no art experience is required. According to Walt Nygard, a Lead Instructor and Studio Manager, the veterans just like to meet each other, get together, and talk. While Frontline has many donated uniforms that anyone can use, some veterans, in what can only be a significant marker in one’s personal story, bring their own. One can imagine a newly arrived veteran, let’s call him Jack. He might have only the day before uncovered the uniform from a box down in his basement. When Jack lifted it from the box, bits of dirt from half-way around the world fell out. He noticed smears of his own blood. The uniform evoked a story, long unspoken, but always told in his body and mind.

In the deeply symbolic act, which Frontline calls a process of deconstruction, the new arrival tears and then cuts up the uniform. Storytelling and community building begin as new and former participants sit around big tables cutting the uniforms into small squares and talking. According to Nygard, “They’re veterans, they’re talking about relationships, movies, football, their service—stupid stuff that happened, terrible things that happened in the war. We have a place to tell the stories, not only to each other but to themselves. That’s what we’re here for, telling stories.” In the second powerful process, known at Frontline as reclamation, veterans use the cut-up uniforms to create handmade paper in the soft blues, greens, and browns of their former uniforms. From the standpoint that all art speaks of the artist, storytelling continues as they either learn printmaking or use the art supplies available to create images. War and social protest are often the themes, but participants create all sorts of other work besides. The roots of the Frontline Arts practices, says Nygard, go back to a weekend when some people got together at the Green Door Studio, owned by papermaker Drew Matott in Burlington, Vermont, to put on a performance art event. Matott, a veteran, read to the group gathered while someone cut the uniform from his body. Over the weekend, the group made the uniform into paper and created artwork on their handmade paper. Continued on next page 9



Eli Wright, who had served in Iraq and was on active duty at Fort Drum, found his way to Green Door Studio. He and David Keefe, a veteran and artist, recognized the power of what had been initiated. Calling their new venture Combat Paper New Jersey, they went on to facilitate workshops for veterans throughout the United States. By 2018, Combat Paper New Jersey, by then known as Frontline Arts, merged with the Printmaking Center of New Jersey in Branchburg. A new era had begun. When Nygard talks about some of the other veterans who have continued to connect with Frontline over the years, his stories sketch a portrait of the community of people found there. For instance, he described Jim Fallon as “my inspiration. He was a combat medic in the Vietnam War and an Agent Orange casualty. He came down with bone cancer that cost him the bone in his left arm, so he now has a titanium left arm.” Following the military, Nygard continues, “Fallon ran jazz clubs and played drums in bars, restaurants, and places like that. I met him at Veterans for Peace, and we started to hang out together. I started to go down there to make artwork.” Nygard, who had grown up creating art with his artist mom, felt confident about his contribution. “I had never done linocut printing, but I knew I could do it, and I knew what I wanted to do. “Fallon, on the other hand, had never made artwork in his life. He started coming to the workshops, and he started making linotype. There was no such thing as an artist’s block with Jim Fallon. His imagination just doesn’t stop, and being a jazz guy, he has done these sort of art brut-type portraits of Dizzy Gillespie and Billy Holiday. He has done a bunch of all different kinds of animals, owls, and tigers, and he has done a lot that had to do with the war.” Nygard also talked about James Yee, a West Point graduate who served as a Muslim chaplain at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, where the prisoners told him that they had been subjected to torture. Yee arrived at Frontline after being arrested by the military and held in solitary confinement, which Yee attributed to the reports he had written. “Yee was not a trained artist,” Nyland says, “but he came to us as an advisor on military affairs. Now, he’s an artist. He’s just a brilliant guy. If he says he’s going to learn something, he gets busy and he learns it. He learned how to make pulp, use the beater, and scrupulously taught himself to make almost draftsman-like drawings. They are very well rendered.” Like Fallon and Yee, most people who come to the Frontline workshops do not at first consider themselves artists.

Continued on page 12




Left: Small bridge to studios; Right: Inside main studio


“When we do workshops down in Washington, like for the Army and the USO, people come in who are vaguely interested.” Nyland continues, “Very often, when they come in, they sit around the table, where everybody cuts up rag as we call it, and you hear people say a lot of the times, ‘Well, I’m not an artist.’ I tell them, you may not think you’re an artist, but you have a story to tell. We’re here to give you an opportunity to tell that story.” A well-stocked studio awaits anyone willing to give art a try. “We have two Charles Brand etching presses—I use them for lino, but they are for etching. We have a Vandercook letterpress, which we use to print broadsides and posters. Any print shop is dying to have a Vandercook. We set the type by hand. “We have two mobile Lee McDonald beaters on dollies. We also have a David Reina beater and a Davis Hodges beater, a really old one, that was there when we came to the print shop.” Along with the presses, the art supplies include oils, acrylics, charcoal, Conte crayons, and about whatever else anyone could use. Nyland notes, “I do the linocuts. We do a lot of silk screening and monotypes. I draw on the paper that I make with pastel, Conte crayon, and I’ve painted on it. You can use charcoal and do charcoal drawings. Our program manager has been doing oil paintings all his life. I grabbed him and said, ‘You were in the Marine Corps, and you are a great artist.’ He came in and fell in love, and while he is a printmaker, he also paints.”

Finally, stories connect with the public as participants show their work in the facility’s gallery. “Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We do what we do. We make art images or sculpture or dance, all the different art forms, but you need somebody to receive that art. You have to have them complete the work by experiencing what has been done.” Those who created the artwork in the Frontline studios crossed a small bridge to reach the studios. Now, the artwork crosses back over the bridge to become part of the public discourse through the minds and memories of all those who attended the show. Not all the artwork at Frontline goes out as works on paper. Talia Lugacy, a writer, actor, and filmmaker based in New York City, first encountered Frontline at a workshop that Frontline put on at Columbia University. Her curiosity sparked, she spent three years at Frontline, finally inviting the staff to participate in her art form, a movie that she had scripted. The result, Not a War Story, a fictional portrayal on HBO, tells the story of the desperation of war-haunted veterans who encounter each other in a studio very much like Frontline. The ensuing dialogue, which begins as offhand chat, evolves into commentary on both personal and social justice issues. Favorably reviewed by The New York Times, the movie also provides a good introduction to Frontline’s process. Staff members acted in the studio scenes. Possibilities for diverse populations also abound at Frontline through a range of programs, offered both in person and online, and through an openness to meeting the needs of whoever wants to use the art of making paper and storyContinued on page 14



Art telling as a connective experience. The workshops, tailored to meet the needs of each group of participants, go under the program umbrellas of Paper for Youth, the Migration Project, and the Scrubs Paper Project, serving frontline health workers. Veterans can apply for scholarships to four- or eight-week residencies. Groups can learn teambuilding through connective artmaking, and ample technical assistance for individual printmakers is also offered. Frontline seeks to meet the needs of other groups who wish to walk through their open doors. For this writer, getting to know Nygard and receiving the gift of new insights about veterans was profound. Veterans make up a special class of people who have seen the horrors of war. Frontline Arts supports the military and its veterans while making honest expression of their lived experiences possible. Stories contain the truth. True patriotism, built on the truth, allows for critique.



In ancient times people gathered to listen to the storytellers—minstrel, troubadour, jongleur, trouvère, minnesinger, skald, scop, skaziteli, seanachie, pinkerrd, and griot—as a list on the web will tell you, who held the stories of a people. Now, no one person could hold all the stories of the twenty-first century, but Frontline is the place to gather, to speak, and to hear. ........................................................................................... Mark your calendars! You can purchase a work of art, meet the veterans, and get your hands wet learning to make paper at the 52nd Annual Peters Valley Craft Fair at the Sussex Fairgrounds in Augusta, NJ, on September 24th and 25th, 2022. Children will enjoy the outing, and those under 12 will be admitted free to the fairgrounds. Right now, veterans interested in learning more can drop by the studio, 440 River Road, Branchburg, NJ 08876, on Sunday afternoons, 12–4 p.m., to get a hands-on feel for papermaking and to meet some of the veteran-artists. Those who are not veterans but wish to participate or donate should call 908.725.2110 or email




By Martin Schmalenberg

Uncovering a Different Past

A.J. Schenkman


eople live in the present. They plan for and worry about the future. History, however, is the study of the past. Given all the demands that press in on us in our present lives along with the anticipation of that which is yet to come, why bother with what has been? History well told is beautiful; it displays the importance of dramatic and skillful writing, which ultimately offers another perspective on human life and society. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events, relating to the human race. “History is written by the victors,” said Winston Churchill. Napoleon called it a “fable agreed upon.” It should be noted that the study of history in today’s world is truly multidisciplinary, advancing our understanding, even from the point of view of the vanquished. When two cultures clash, the loser is often obliterated, and the winner writes the history books, glorifying their own cause. Two of the greatest sagas in American history, during this country’s early development, were the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. These conflicts have spawned countless books, poems, and films, offering up compelling narratives of strategy, heroism, glory, and tragedy.

Photos courtesy of A.J. Schenkman

A.J. Schenkman is a 7th-grade social studies teacher in the Wallkill Central School District in Ulster County, NY, and is the Town of Gardiner Historian. Like so many of us, his life passions began at an early impressionable age. When he was a youngster, his parents put Schenkman, his brother, and the family dog into a Jeep Cherokee and embarked from Queens County, N.Y. on a two-week adventure, with the aim of viewing as many major Civil War battlefields as they could in that period of time. Some four decades later, he still remembers the open fields of Gettysburg, which are indelibly etched in his psyche, and the vast number of soldiers involved in the carnage on the battlefield. I had the privilege of interviewing Schenkman recently, one history teacher to another, and he mentioned that today you can still feel the energy of the souls that fought and perished on that great field of battle from July 1st to July 3rd of 1863. I told him that I had gone there myself last summer for the first time and knew exactly what he meant. During the time spent there, one could not escape the intense energy of those hallowed grounds. There are very few places where I’ve experienced that particular feeling, and he readily concurred.

Growing up in New York State, Schenkman fell in love with the Hudson Valley region, and it was here that he would begin to discover the profound history of the area, especially Newburgh. His father, who was a teacher, provided direction and inspiration. He was quite aware of the ongoing Vietnam War and took part in the March on Washington as a way to protest. The reaction of his father to this war was not lost on the young Schenkman. While in high school, he was further influenced by a favorite English teacher who encouraged him to write. He began writing plays early on, with the plan to begin writing books. Unfortunately, he became distracted by other projects. The biggest distraction being his father’s untimely death. He was killed in 2016 while riding his bicycle in Queens, N.Y. A.J. was in a deep state of grief for the next year or so. He continued to read but did not write much. He realized that his father had always supported his writing, and it was while cleaning out his father’s home that he found all the poetry books he had written in a neat corner of the office. He started writing again. As an accomplished academic with natural research skills, Schenkman began writing books about history. In Patriots and Spies, Schenkman notes that numerous men and women not only participated in battles, but also spied for both sides during the Revolutionary War. Traitors and assassins were active throughout the conflict. The American Revolution was first and foremost a civil war in some ways as brutal as the American Civil War. It uprooted the social fabric of society and pitted American against American, or Englishman against Englishman if you prefer. It was a destructive civil war not only in the Continued on next page




Schenkman’s interest and research throughout the Hudson Valley led him to write Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh. His curiosity about this period in American history began while he was a docent at Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site in Newburgh, NY, in the 1990s. He began researching Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck, who would become little more than a footnote in history. The colonel was a distinguished militia officer and prosperous merchant, as well as an emerging politician during the early years of the War for Independence. But he was to be relegated to historical obscurity simply because he did not live long enough to partake in the single most defining event in his home’s history. After the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, General George Washington wanted to return to the Hudson Valley. He hoped to turn his attention to the last bastion of the British army at New York City. And he needed a headquarters. Many homes in the area were considered but were ultimately rejected. Colonel Hasbrouck’s residence in Newburgh fit the requirements to serve as General Washington’s headquarters and home. After some initial reluctance, Hasbrouck’s surviving family temporarily gave their home over to the Continental army. The Dutch-style home’s strategic advantage was its location on a bluff overlooking the Hudson River and Mt. Beacon. The home became a regular setting for Washington and his officers. With the close of the war, Washington left N.Y. in August 1783. Through the ensuing years much attention was given to the inevitable decline of the home. After frequent vandalization, the State of New York took control of the property and permanently preserved Washington’s Headquarters for future generations to enjoy. The state dedicated the home on July 4, 1850, making it the first historic site of its kind in the nation. Today, A.J. is a regular visitor. Unexpected Bravery...Women and Children of the Civil War. Schenkman described it as perhaps the most difficult book he has ever written. Historians believe that close to three million individuals served in the Civil War and also that about four hundred women disguised themselves as men to serve in the conflict. They joined for many reasons: accompanying their husbands, brothers, or lovers; adventure; patriotism; to end slavery; and perhaps money. These reasons were not always mutually exclusive. Even though it was illegal for women to serve in the armed forces, let alone dress like men, they could still escape detection. Most of the time when they were discovered it was because of wounds or death. 18

A.J. Schenkman

English colonies, but also in the Native American world, as they were forced to take sides in the conflict. Many do not know that during several critical periods, the war was almost fatally undermined by English sympathizers or in some cases opportunistic patriots.

The legal age to join the army was eighteen, but this did not deter some two hundred thousand underaged boys and girls from entering both the Union and Confederate armies. Many joined as drummer boys, alongside their fathers or older brothers. Some actually experienced combat with distinction and are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In Part I of Unexpected Bravery, “Children Soldiers of the Civil War,” Schenkman gives profiles/biographies of seven young boys and girls who served in the war, detailing their exploits, while in Part II, “Women Soldiers of the Civil War,” he documents the lives of women, most disguised as men, who felt it was their duty to serve. These profiles make for extraordinary stories in the most compelling circumstances. Many who died, along with the officially enlisted soldiers, were buried as “unknowns.” Many of the women who survived the war led unfinished lives, possibly because their husbands or lovers had died. Some were horribly disfigured by injuries, which limited their futures. The world’s consciousness is constantly evolving, and historians play an important role in synthesizing and recording events. Their efforts make it possible for individuals and societies to learn from history, in order to chart a better course for the future. A.J. Schenkman’s work certainly fits into this category. He has examined, for all to see, a part of the human condition that we have rarely studied during this country’s most torturous years. He continues his teaching at Wallkill and is currently researching the life and times of FDR. ............................................................................... A. J. Schenkman will be discussing his books and local history at various locations this summer, including Philadelphia, PA, Saugerties, Wappinger Falls, and Newburgh, NY. He also can be heard through podcasts and virtual lectures. Visit www. for a complete schedule. Martin Schmalenberg is a retired Asian Studies teacher who now spends his time with his bonsai, guitars, and two cats.




By Amy Bridge

Dirty Dill Pickles


he road to entrepreneurship is not an easy journey, especially in the food industry, but when a pickle-biz entrepreneur is asked the question, “Why pickles?” and answers enthusiastically, “I just LOVE pickles! LOVE them!” you sense that they are on the right path. And so it is with Sussex County, NJ, natives and best friends Meg O’Grady and Mike Gummerson. Sharing a love of pickles led Mike to decide that they should make their own, which led Meg to find a recipe to try out, which, according to Meg, “Was just terrible.” After waiting four anticipation-filled days, Meg said that they were the worst pickles she ever had in her life.

Photos courtesy of Meg O’Grady

So, with a little adaptation, maybe ten or eleven tries, they came up with the perfect dill. “We did it!” Meg smiled with her million-dollar sparkle. What makes a pickle perfect? I asked Meg as we enjoyed a tea and muffin at the Garris General Store in Stillwater. “It has to be glorious and refreshing,” she replied. “And it has to be crunchy, or it’s not a pickle.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pickle referred to as glorious, but hey, they certainly can be. The pickling brine that Meg and Mike use consists of vinegar, water, sugar, and salt, with absolutely no preservatives added. Because the pickles are not heated (which Meg confided is the secret to their crunchiness), they are ready to be eaten in just four days, although not heating them means they have to be stored in the refrigerator. Meg said the shelf life is about six months, “but, honestly, they just never hang around that long.”

Both partners are in their mid-thirties; Meg’s full-time job is as a Document and Data Comptroller at Thor Labs in Newton, and Mike is a carpenter at Picatinny Arsenal in Hopatcong. Once they perfected their recipe, they did taste testing with family, friends, and coworkers, and everyone agreed that they had a hit. And that’s the story of how Dirty Dill Pickles LLC was born. Birthing a cottage food industry is not an easy task, as Meg recalls. “We started during the Covid shutdown in 2020 and ran into many snafus. First, there was a shortage of Mason jars, so we literally got quotes from all over the world and ended up with a company that could ship—the caveat here was that the minimum order was five thousand jars. “Then we had trouble finding a commercial kitchen to use as our home base because people wouldn’t rent out due to Covid. We were very fortunate that my neighbor’s dad, John Notaro, who owns the Mountain View Deli in Wantage, made his kitchen available to us. Every year, we have a separate Board of Health inspection, according to the Cottage Industry rules. “John has been a great mentor and introduced us to Benny at Ideal Farms in Lafayette. Now we get all of our cucumbers from them.” Their wholesale business is taking off, due in no small part to the fact that the partners have extended their outreach to the public sector and nonprofit community. “During Continued on next page




Covid, we donated a case of pickles to the Newton Police Department. My brother is a cop in Maryland, and I know how hard they work,” Meg explained. Mike is very involved as a wrestling coach at Kittatinny High School and is embarking on a pickle fundraising project for next season. Meg enjoys the community involvement and Mike handles the business side, but they both are the chief pickle makers, for now. In its short history, Dirty Dills has been a sponsor of quite a few nonprofit events in the county, held by organizations such as the United Way and the Samaritan Inn, and has a growing list of future events. Meg was invited by Principal Dr. Harold Abraham of the Walpack Elementary School to speak to their Bobcat Billionaires, a financial literacy program for students. “I spoke about entrepreneurship, and these kids were amazingly engaged,” she said.

Dirty Dills’ product list has grown from inception to include five varieties: the Original garlic dill; Bacon, which has organic bacon salt to provide a smokey bacon flavor (but no meat products); Horseradish, which is fresh horseradish root that’s been grated and placed in the jar to pickle with the cucumbers so that they absorb the zesty flavor. The Jalapeno are cucumbers that are sliced up with jalapeno peppers and pickled together in each jar, and according to Meg, they have a bite; the Habanero is pickled the same way and is p-r-e-t-t-y spicy.


Mike Gummerson and Meg O’Grady

Dirty Dills are showing up on market shelves throughout the county and beyond. If you go to the Skylands Stadium in Augusta, you can enjoy one of their pickles on a stick. Who knew there are so many ways to eat a pickle, and so many flavors as well?

set up along the routes for the competitors that offer calorie input and energy-building products, and pickle juice, he tells me, is one of the offerings.

Adding pickled green beans to the mix, which are trending big in the South right now, is next on the agenda. They are already selling their Dilly Beans to a bar inside a local distillery—the bar puts them in Bloody Marys. Sounds interesting.

Drinking the juice helps you stay hydrated before or during intense workouts because of the sodium, potassium, and magnesium in it, so that’s why it helps to prevent muscle cramps. The mineral combination aids the body in restoring electrolytes, and the vinegar helps to stabilize blood sugar.

Pickle juice has some health benefits that have been espoused by football players and super athletes. My brother, Harlan, who lives in California, was the first to tell me about this. Harlan runs marathons; he competed and finished in the Belgian Waffle Ride, which is a “gravel riding” race, encompassing 140 miles and 12,000 feet of mountain climbing on both off-road and on-road bikes and finished an Iron Man Triathlon at age sixty. He will start drinking pickle juice a week before an event and brings a squirt bottle with him to drink from, if he starts to cramp up. He says he feels the effects in about five minutes. Stations are

Meg is thinking about marketing pickle shooters to gyms. A few bars have caught on too, but maybe not for the same reasons. “We are selling gallons of pickle juice to a local bar. The Pickle Back has become a popular whiskey chaser. I ask if that is because pickle juice is supposed to prevent hangovers, but no, Meg thinks it just tastes a whole lot better than the whiskey—words spoken by a true pickle aficionado. ................................................................................. For more information, email or go to Dirty Dills LLC on Facebook.




Photos courtesy of Jesse Clemente


By Will Voelkel

Chatting with Artist Jesse Clemente

first met Jesse Clemente of Milford, PA, in April 2016 when I was the Director of the Black Bear Film Festival. My initial impression of Jesse was that he was a throwback, a “cool cat” that would be perfectly at home in the Greenwich Village of the 1950s—nerdy, friendly, a bit arrogant for a guy in his late twenties, a little out there, sweet—a beatnik tossed into the 21st century.

His interest in art began at a young age. His mother often took him into Manhattan for day trips, and his grandmother, who was a ballerina, encouraged him to explore many artistic endeavors, which included frequenting art and natural history museums, plays, and dance performances. From those experiences, he discovered a natural affinity for drawing and painting.

We kept in touch periodically, mostly on Facebook and at events in town. I’d also see his black-rimmed glasses and lanky body, often clad in his signature red leather jacket, walking home from his job at the Waterwheel Café. I always liked Jesse and yet somehow felt a sense of sorrow in him. I knew he had battled heroin addiction and was known locally as a nice guy and a burgeoning artist.

Jesse developed a neo-expressionist style, in which artists depict their subjects in an almost raw and brutish manner, frequently creating large-scale works that are highly textured with expressive brushwork and intense colors.

The Jesse I had the opportunity to sit down with to interview was still part of the old Jesse I knew distantly, and yet so much more. “At this stage in my life, at 34, I consider myself to be maturing as an artist and as a person,” he observed. “I was pretty arrogant ten, even five, years ago, but I’ve really grown as a person and as an artist over the past few years.” Jesse’s ability to overcome his heroin addiction and his progress as an artist is the stuff of books and movies.

Currently living in Passaic County, NJ, with the aim of moving back to what he terms “beautiful, bucolic” Milford in the next year or two, Jesse took the train to Port Jervis to meet with me for a couple of hours over coffee. How would you describe your painting style? Most people would classify my style as neo-expressionism, and I suppose it is. I’ve been highly influenced by a pretty diverse group of expressionist artists from the ’40s to the ’80s, particularly Jean-Michel Basquiat, Franz Kline, Robert Nava, and Joan Mitchell. And I’ve been influenced by the graffiti on subway cars in New York City. But my art is also inspired by many writers as well, Continued on next page


Life including the diarist Jim Carroll, who chronicled his teenage addiction in The Basketball Diaries; the authors Hubert Selby Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn) and Jack Kerouac, one of the pioneers of the Beat Generation; and filmmaker, author, and actor Werner Herzog. Lately, I’ve been doing some writing myself, based on random quotes that my ear picks up and unique experiences that I’ve had, both commuting into the Port Authority and displaying and selling my art in Washington Square Park in the City, which is actually my most favorite place in the world. What do you think those artists and writers all have in common? I’m not sure. Maybe being outsiders, or being different, or struggling to fit in. Or not being satisfied with the status quo. What was it like for you growing up? I had a few friends and my family was pretty supportive, but I suffered from loneliness and depression from a young age. My aunt died when I was eight, and then fifteen months later, my dad was killed in a motorcycle accident. My family, especially my grandparents and my uncles, believed in cultivating strength through inner knowledge, but I always felt a void and turned to heroin at 18 to escape the loneliness. I also turned to art. In fact, I was the angry young artist. I began to paint primarily as an emotional outlet but also wanted to be seen and noticed; to express myself and have a voice. How long did the addiction last? Too long. I continued to paint, but I wasn’t getting noticed or progressing in my life, my career, or my art. What was the turning point for you? A few things happened. I saw a lot of my old friends get hooked and die. I also got to the point where I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I knew there had to be a better way, so I quit heroin cold turkey— no methadone, no Subutex. I just quit. That inner strength and will power I learned from my grandparents was also a major factor. In the process, I’ve learned to process my own psychological emotion, and my art reflects that. Congratulations on taking the necessary steps to overcome your heroin addiction. It took a while, but once I set my mind to it, I did it in three months, over 60 support meetings at NA (Narcotics Anonymous) to get the help I needed. I had a great network of supportive friends, and my girlfriend Kristen has also greatly helped in the last three years to keep me focused. Continued page 28 26



Life Your style, and neo-expressionism in general, may not appeal to some people. How can people appreciate art that may not naturally attract them? You don’t need to study art to appreciate it or enjoy it. I like Basquiat’s quote, to paraphrase, “Study art by just looking at it.” I didn’t have any formal education in art. Try to establish an emotional connection—not just with neo-expressionism, but with any kind of art. What do you like about it? What do you notice about the movement in the piece? How do you feel about the colors? What do you think the artist was trying to convey? What could this piece mean to you? It takes an open mind and a realization that every piece of art is its own creation. Speaking of which, how do you create art? Do you have a routine or does it just happen? Mostly organically. Sometimes I get an idea in my head, and I just start painting. I often use the analogy of baseball: The canvas is the batter, and I just throw out fastballs. Other times, it’s more thoughtful and controlled. Mostly, I think of my works as controlled chaos. Where have your works been exhibited? In galleries, collections, and upscale restaurants, everywhere from Soho, Park Slope, the East Village, and Hell’s Kitchen in New York City to Scranton, Chicago, Boston, Austin, and Antibes, France—and of course, Milford!



You’re 34 now. What’s been the arc of your career as an artist? I tend to think of it in life stages: From 17 to 24, I was an addict who was painting. From 25 to 31, I was getting a better handle on things and beginning to show some of my work. Now, I’m painting more purposefully and actively seeking to be exhibited. I’m looking at new possibilities. Jerry Reganess, a local photographer friend, was instrumental in helping me connect some of my bigger works to form diptychs and triptychs to appeal to a wider audience of art lovers and collectors. I’m still evolving as an artist and as a businessman. How are you feeling about yourself and your art? I’m good. I’m finally getting my voice—it’s my chance to be seen, to talk, and to be heard. I feel like I’m a quarter out of a dollar to where I need to be in life. There’s lots more to come. ................................................................................... To see more of Jesse’s art work, go to euphoric_blockbuster on Instagram. Will Voelkel is a contributor to The Journal. He lives in Milford, owns his own corporate training business, and is involved in the local arts scene.


30 Silly



Kisses & Penny


By Amy Bridge

Father John’s Animal House


In the Dogs’ House

I over to Father John’s Animal House in Lafayette, NJ, for another visit. If you recall our Early Spring issue, you t was a brisk, chilly late March morning when I headed

will know about my connection with cats and my latest cat adoption story. Although cats and I belong to a mutual adoration society, I can relate to and respect all animals—just last night, in our backyard, we were feeding two gorgeously unusual, white and black skunks, and a rotund, pregnant Mrs. Possum joined in on the feast.

Photos courtesy of Father John's Aniaml House

This time, I was not at Father John’s to adopt a pet, but to continue my talk with Executive Director, Garret Barcheski. And this time, it was going to be about dogs. Joining us was my friend and pet portrait artist, Rosemarie Mazzei, an itinerant raiser of Boxer pups, along with Father John’s kennel leader, Noelle Titus. What I learned from our conversation was quite impactful. Garret has a degree from the University of New England in Animal Behavior, and he researched and studied shelter dogs while in school. He trained dogs through obedience classes after graduation. In his 30 years, he has raised four puppies and is raising two kids, which in itself is a lot of work. Growing up, I always heard the story about my dad’s German Shepherd, Rex. Boy, did he love that dog. Every day, Rex followed my dad to school, and every afternoon, he was there to walk Dad back home. Then one day, Rex didn’t show up. My grandmother had given the dog away. Dad never got over it. I never found out the reason that Rex went to live somewhere else, but according to Garret, “More important than a dog’s health, diet, or vaccine status is a dog’s behavior. In our county, a behavioral problem is the number one reason that a dog becomes homeless.

“When a dog comes here,” Garret continues, “we get to know the animal as best we can. An average dog only stays at the shelter for one to two weeks. When a potential adopter comes in, we try to get a sense of their personality and their commitment; with a little detective work, we can find out a person’s routine or lifestyle so we can make a human to animal match that will last a good ten to fifteen years. “Every good relationship starts with chemistry. It’s intangible…two living beings see each other for the first time and feel a connection to one another. At Father John’s, we want the owner to provide shelter, food, vet care, and all that, but it all starts with mutual love.” It’s a known fact that when a dog comes to a shelter, for whatever reason, in as little as four days without human contact, they will forget that a human “point” means something. In other words, if we point to a bowl of food, a happy dog should recognize what that means. “The mission at Father John’s is to reduce the stress that the animal may be feeling from past trauma or even from being relocated to our facility,” Noelle emphasized. “The dog needs patience and understanding. They can have anxiety from what they’ve been through and are still going through. We don’t want to see them set up to fail, intentionally or not. “Stress reduction for a dog happens by exercising, providing companionship and mental stimulation through training and playtime. That’s why volunteers are so important to our organization. Our staff can’t spend time with thirty dogs every day, so we have volunteers that come in to sit with them, brush them, and walk with them.” Garret added, “We have some tremendously dedicated volunteers, Continued on next page


Nature such as our caretaker, Leon, who donated radios so that the dogs would have music. When the puppies were born here, Leon put his bed in the kennel area every night.” On occasion, Father John’s must determine who is compatible to co-house, since there are just thirty-three 6’ x 4’ space runs in the kennel. Dogs are very territorial, and as most owners know, they hate seeing each other through a fence. It leads to a lot of barking. When they are taken in and out of the building for walks or to go in the newly reconstructed play areas, they don’t see each other. I asked Noelle if she had favorites. Surprisingly, she said that the most difficult personalities tend to be her favorite. Why? Because they may be at the shelter longer, and she gets to know them better. “The smartest ones suffer the most, especially if they’ve come from an abusive situation. They can act out,” she said. “I want to see them get the best owners possible.” As we talk, Noelle’s phone rings, and she excuses herself. It was a shelter in Mississippi asking if they would take in sixteen unclaimed strays this weekend. Noelle agreed. Father John’s has had a six-year relationship with out-ofstate shelters in Virginia, Alabama, and Mississippi, which helps to meet the steady demands of Sussex County. The animals may have been in a natural disaster area or just in an area with a high volume of strays. Last year, they took in 148 dogs from one shelter in Mississippi, including four owner-surrendered pregnant females, which alone yielded thirty-five adoptable puppies and moms. Some people who take rescue dogs want a specific breed. Rosemarie pointed out that she had found breed-specific rescue shelters, but Garret told us that they can present barriers to the adoption process because of long, 15page applications that ask for references and even require home visits. “Here we do conversational adoptions, so there is no barrier. Our dogs are vetted. They’ve had their vaccines; they’re



dewormed, seen the vet, been spayed or neutered, and microchipped, but the base line for us is understanding the personality of the animal, getting to know it individually, and then matching it up to the right adoptive parent or family. The average adopter spends about a half hour to an hour with a dog they are thinking of adopting. The time frame depends on the connection and on their experience level. A member of our team sits with them to provide counseling on the match as well. “Owning a pet is not a privilege, but an innate human right,” emphasized Garret. “But a potential adopter must know what to expect. Do you have understanding and patience? Are you committed? “Some shelter dogs have been through horrific circumstances,” he continued. “One of our current puppies was turned in by a good Samaritan. Raisin was a dog on track to die. This poor dog was fed, or injected with, bleach. Uncomfortable was nothing to her. We had animal control investigate the situation, and one of our team members fostered her. She was emaciated and, of course, had gastrointestinal issues. It’s been about two months now, and she is in a foster home with her future adopter until she gains enough weight to get spayed and vaccinated. At that point, she will be ready to be fully adopted. “Making a conscious decision to adopt a pet is very important because then your subconscious tells you that you need to be there for this animal. If you made the conscious decision, then you made the right choice, and not only will that choice help lower your blood pressure, but it will help you live longer, too.” It’s a win-win situation. .......................................................................................... Spay/neuter services, performed by Father John’s veterinarians, are a new offering to the public. Cat price is $90. Dog price is based on size. A rabies vaccine is included in the price. For more information, visit or call 973.300.5909.

My Best Friend Your soulful eyes melt my heart Knowing that I understand, The story around your muzzle Tells the story of your age and past, Remember when you came into my life Not sure who rescued who, Boundless energy and up for adventure Fetching balls and taking long walks, Knowing me better than anyone else And what my next move would be, Lying by my side brought comfort and protection That everything is alright with the world, So hard letting go and saying goodbye Until we meet again my devoted companion!



-By Maureen Newman




Planet Waves by Eric Francis


(March 20-April 19)

With the influence of Mercury stationed retrograde in the area of your chart associated with both commerce and communications, you will need to watch your numbers and your words with equal care for a few weeks. Jupiter magnifies everything: problems as well as assets. So, you must work from a place of personal knowledge. This may present a challenge in a time when we always expect computers and experts to be correct, and humans incapable of paying attention to the details. But pay is what you will do if you leave the most important evaluations of the data to anything other than your precious mind.


(April 19-May 20)

You must be careful taking on board what you hear from friends, by which I mean any form of gossip or information that is passed from ear to ear. If you paused to evaluate the actual truth or falsity of everything you think you know, you would probably not get a good result. Yet at the same time, it’s possible to swagger through the world, certain you know it all. Take solace in the truth that you do not. That should come as a relief — and so, too, will discovering the power of your curiosity.


(May 20-June 21)

Mercury stationed retrograde in your birth sign on May 10. At the same time, Jupiter arrived in your 11th house of social affairs. The influence will last for weeks. The other day I walked past a shop window with a quote attributed to Yoko Ono tattooed onto the glass. It said something like, “You can change the world by being yourself.” I wondered: what else can anyone be? Well, the message translates to tell the truth. And also noticing when you fear that telling the truth, or stating your true position to people you say you care about, will get you rejected in some way.


(June 21-July 22)

The reason most people relate to the world in a way that omits their feelings, or any true sense of vulnerability, is that to feel is the very last thing you do before you respond. And if you’re numb, you don’t have to do either. This isn’t you — not even close. You tend to care, you feel, and you respond — though you live in a place and time where this approach to life is shunned.


(July 22-Aug. 23)

Some say that seeing is believing. Others think that hearing is believing. Either way, believing is the trap; it is what will most dependably deceive you. Therefore, you want evidence — and I would advise against playing games with yourself whether or not you ‘like’ what it implies, suggests or proves. When you learn something, add that to the landscape of your awareness, and keep exploring.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22)

Be vigilant when it comes to tracking the self-destructive behavior of others. You will be subject to their choices, and unless you are vigilant, by the time you notice, it will be a little too late to avoid getting involved. And since this is appearing on your radar along the self/other axis, you need to track your own tendency to make less-than wholesome choices, particularly in relationships. This all comes down to “the dynamics of delusion.”


(Sep. 22-Oct. 23)

It’s time to re-evaluate a long-held belief. You will have to do this whether you plan to or not, so I suggest you be ready to make this assessment. Doing so comes down to the basic questions that you might use as an investigative reporter. Is that statement true? How do I know that (whatever it might be)? Does my belief about something contradict the evidence I’m looking at?


(Oct. 23-Nov. 22)

Mars moving up on Neptune in your fellow water sign Pisces will present you with many enticing possibilities. You will want to take advantage of some of these. They might range from bursts of creativity to the boiling-up of lust. This is adventurous astrology, calling for experience, not merely the fantasy of having it.


(Nov. 22-Dec. 22)

Several factors are influencing you at the same time, all of which pertain to the most personal aspects of your life: where you live, who you live with, your relationships and your partnerships. One is Mercury stationed retrograde in your opposite sign Gemini — this is about partners, both business and intimate. Think: communication. Then there is Mars in Neptune in your 4th house, which pertains to home, security and your emotional state. Think: emotional self-regulation.


(Dec. 22-Jan. 20)

You are at the end of a long and potentially exasperating growth phase. I know most people don’t think this way, though as students of astrology, we have the opportunity. Pluto in your sign has stretched you in many unusual ways; it’s taken your personality apart and put it back together a few times; and you have had to address the significant matter of obligation.


(Jan. 20-Feb. 19)

“What would your closest friend do?” That was the response I got from the digital version of Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies. This is a creative divination set of about 100 cards that he’s used with the artists he has worked with over the decades — Talking Heads, U2, David Bowie, and many others. They contain little bits of advice for getting creatively unstuck, or for taking your project in a new direction.


(Feb. 19-March 20)

We are in one of those astrological zones where many events are converging at once — though one in particular stands out for you. That is Mars in Neptune in your birth sign. If you read through this column and look at the other signs, you see that in many of them, I am doing my best to interpret the aspect as it might influence their lives — and you will get cues and clues. However, given that this is happening in your sign means it’s about you. This could result in some strong feelings, and is best suited for sequestering yourself in an art or music studio with your favorite libations and some food, and not coming out for a while. ..........................................................................................

Read Eric Francis daily at 35

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.