URBAN AGENDA MAGAZINE
February 2017 100%
AUDIBLE FOUNDER & CEO
Thanks to Audible’s Donald Katz, the general population now has more time than ever to consume and enjoy books by creating a digital library on their mobile devices.
Happy Centennial, Ella Fitzgerald The Immigration Act of 1917 Artist Louise Ingalls Sturges Damien Chazelle & Golden Globe Winner, La La Land
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URBAN AGENDA Magazine
2/1/17 10:48:11 AM
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2/6/17 11:19:17 AM
The Spoken Word: Audible Founder & CEO Donald Katz BY TAYLOR SMI TH
Amped for Camp: Find Rol lercoasters, Horses, and S’more Fun at Summer Camp this Year. BY SAR AH EMI LY GI LBERT
Private School Traditions BY ANNE LEVI N
Harlem Postcard BY DONALD H. SANBOR N I I I
The Immigration Act of 1917: One Hundred Years Later
BY KATI E DUGGAN
Artist Louise Ingal ls Sturges BY WENDY PLUMP
Damien Chazel le Discusses Golden Globe Winner, “La La Land” I NTERVI EW BY KAM WI LLI AMS
Destination: Montclair “The Parkslope of New Jersey” BY SAR AH EMI LY GI LBERT
Urban B ooks—After Obama: Reading Black History Month
BY ST UA RT MI TCHNER
The Fashionable Bride 50
A Wel l-Designed Life 54
“My New Jersey” Photo Contest
Cover Image: Donald Katz, founder and CEO of Audible, Inc., the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet. Illustration by Jeffrey E. Tryon and Matthew DiFalco.
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2/6/17 11:59:42 AM
WITH AUDIBLE FOUNDER & CEO
DONALD KATZ BY TAYLOR SMITH
URBAN AGENDA MAGAZINE
1/30/17 11:37:33 AM
hanks to Audible’s Donald Katz, the general population now has more time than ever to consume and enjoy books by creating a digital library on their mobile devices. A membership allows users access to more than 325,000 downloadable audiobooks, audio editions of periodicals and other programs. New members are also given complimentary subscriptions to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, making the inevitable commute or time spent at the gym, not only easier, but that much more enlightening. Below, Mr. Katz discusses his pre-Audible career as a journalist, love for Newark, and the company’s growing a-list collection of inspiring celebrity performances.
Tell us about your career as an author and journalist before founding Audible. I was a professional writer for 20 years. At 23, I was writing from London for Rolling Stone and The New Republic—a precocious start to the writing life that included close interactions with prime ministers, soldiers and revolutionaries. I traveled from Northern Ireland during the Troubles to Ethiopia during the Red Terror, and in pursuit of narrative non-fiction’s ambition to transcend pyramidal newspaper reportage, I was able to ask people what it’s like to be willing to kill or to die for a cause. I turned to book writing after several years writing long-form articles, and wrote books that explored the sociological, psychological and organizational complexities of the human enclosures that were some of the most successful corporations of the 20th century. My books on Sears and Nike were the result of a collective nine years of reporting inside the companies. The book I’m most proud of, Home Fires, is the story of a real middle-class American family whose members’ lives touched on every major social, political and cultural movement and trend between the 40s and early 90s. Home Fires was recently republished and also came out for the first time on Audible. I was working on another book, about emergent technologies that would change the world of media, when I had what my wife calls a “nontoxic midlife crisis” and changed gears to pursue the idea that become Audible.com. Many elements that make Audible a distinctive company that in many ways has a higher purpose draw upon the many things I learned and experienced as a writer. At its best, Audible is imbued with the élan I experienced during Rolling Stone’s first decade, a sensibility derived from the act of imprinting the culture with a new level of truth-telling and literary style. Audible moved to Newark and services customers in pursuit of defining ourselves based on what a company can mean versus what it does alone, and this I also took away from my years studying organizations and their larger purposes.
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1/30/17 11:37:58 AM
When was Audible founded and where did the idea initially come from? I believe there are invariably multiple genesis stories behind ideas that become large and successful enterprises. In Audible’s case, the founding vision—to unleash the power of the spoken word and bring it into the cultural mainstream alongside books, movies, film and music—was informed by the great writer Ralph Ellison. I was lucky to have Ralph as my teacher in college and mentor for years after that. Ralph’s understanding of the power of the American oral tradition—the way we bragged and sold and told stories around campfires and the sound of our lamenting in the fields—allowed me to understand how American oral culture defined how we wrote. Ralph Ellison allowed me to hear the music in language, which in turn led to the creation of Audible. I never wrote that book about technology once Audible became an obsessive pursuit, but I did learn a great deal about emerging tech and I even changed my column in Esquire to a tech focus from my long stint as the business columnist. My college roommate had a doctorate in computer science and was working on super-computers, and he was there to help me imagine an era of digital distribution (versus my experience of many 12-city book tours and often finding no books in local stores). In 1994, I began telling people that in the future, we would have little solid state electronic devices in our pockets that would be packed with culture. I got the same “what the hell are you talking about?” reaction to this assertion from most people for years after Audible invented the first digital audio player. Audible was founded in 1995. In 1997, we created the world’s first commercially available portable digital audio player, four years before the launch of the iPod. It’s now in the Smithsonian. If Ralph Ellison allowed me to appreciate the oral tradition at levels many literary types and professional writers did not, and Ed Lau—my college roommate—helped me understand digital signal processing and component miniaturization and the like; then my years making a living as a writer had also taught me that the one thing I couldn’t give my readers was time to read my quite long books. I became aware that more than 100 million Americans drive to work alone in the morning or get on an exercise bike every day, and during these times they can’t read or look at a screen.The number of millions of those commuters and exercises who are listening to Audible at any given time of the day on a global basis astounds me. There is one more genesis factor, since you asked.My amazing teacher-daughter Chloe struggled with language-processing and reading challenges when she was young—as so many children do today—and listening to books in audio helped her break through this profound challenge and become an A student in college and a very successful adult. That Audible is used by so many parents, teachers and young people to learn and succeed is another entirely gratifying aspect of Audible’s success.
What devices can be used for listening to Audible? You can play Audible on most Kindle devices and nearly every smartphone. The Audible App is available on the iOS, Android and Windows platforms.
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1/30/17 11:38:24 AM
Scarlett Johansson narrates Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, with sister Vanessa, recreating the classic tale for Audible.
How large is the Audible library and how often are new titles added? Audible has more than 325,000 downloadable audiobooks, audio editions of periodicals and other programs. Audible is the largest producer of audiobooks in the world. Many of the titles are produced by Audible Studios, which has earned 135 Audie Finalist nominations over the last three years and won a Grammy in the Best Spoken Word Album category. This year, Audible launched Channels, an unlimited, on-demand service featuring a “best of” collection of news programs and compelling audio editions of magazines and newspaper articles, comedy shorts, lectures, short fiction and nonfiction, and other quality information and educational programming. This service is available free to Audible and Prime members and as a standalone service for $4.95/month.
How are literary classics given new life through Audible? There was a time in audiobook production when narrators were told not to interpret or use nuanced performance to position great novels as scripts for gifted actors. We worked to change this by asking many of the world’s greatest actors to record classics. Colin Firth, Anne Hathaway, Dustin Hoffman and dozens of others have recorded for Audible. We have customers now who talk about Nicole Kidman’s interpretation of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse versus the brilliant British actress Juliet Stevenson’s interpretation of the same novel. We began to train rising young actors in the art of long form performance at Julliard, Yale, the Royal Academy in London and UCLA.The recent release of Rachel McAdams’s interpretation of Anne of Green Gables is an Audible best-seller with a 4.9 of 5 customer rating. All of this—alongside the application of user-friendly technology—is why we earn more than two hours of listening per day from many millions of customers.
Talk about Audible’s a-list collection. Do you have a favorite recent celebrity performance? I was extremely impressed by Scarlett Johansson’s Audible production of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and I was also amazed by what Kate Winslet did with Zola’s Thérèse Raquin, one of the darkest tales of them all. The performance is mesmerizing.
URBAN AGENDA MAGAZINE
1/30/17 11:38:45 AM
When was Audible bought by Amazon and how has the company grown since then? Audible was a NASDAQ company for more than nine years before being acquired by Amazon in 2008. We remain an independent company with a “best of all worlds” access to Amazon’s customers. We work together to invent on behalf of our customers in advance of anyone asking. I often say that missionary entrepreneurs would be lucky to become an Amazon subsidiary. To answer your question: to say we have grown is to dwell in understatement by any historic comparison.
Why Newark as the company headquarters? Our world HQ is in Newark by design. We decided to define key elements of the company’s purpose by coming to Newark to accelerate the comeback of a great American city and catalyze positive change in a city at a tipping point. As the fastest-growing private employer in Newark, we’ve created hundreds of jobs since we moved here in 2007 with 125 employees. We’re now close to 1,000 employees in Newark, one of 17 global centers where people work for Audible. We’re renovating a large historic church nearby and turning it into a tech cathedral. I have long believed that companies can have hearts and souls and missions that transcend financial success. This idea has pushed us as a company to think and act differently, and we have brought our entrepreneurial spirit to changing the status quo in Newark. I had been deeply “Newarkized” for years through my involvement in North Star Academy, one of the first public charter schools in New Jersey, and the flagship and innovation center for the now 49 successful schools operated by Uncommon Schools. North Star students score much higher than the national average on PISA tests, even though most of their students come from a world without privilege. Forty percent of Newark students are in beat-the-odds schools. Newark’s institutions of higher education, like Rutgers-Newark, are educating thousands of aspirational young students, many of them the first in their families to go to college, and many of them fit the profile of people who can create hundreds of millions of dollars of wealth and opportunities in the city as entrepreneurs. Also, Newark sits on a hub of dark fiber that will unleash the city as an innovation center, and return to its roots as a seedbed of invention. The inventors of commercial plastic, the early fax machine and air conditioning put down roots in Newark and built their products here. This is where Thomas Edison set up shop. Newark Venture Partners, which launched recently and is housed in the building Audible shares with Rutgers Business School, is designed to reclaim Newark and New Jersey’s status as a seedbed for innovation. We also employ many North Star Academy and Science Park High School students and alums currently in college as Audible interns and Audible Scholars. Our culture has soared by bringing in these amazing kids. Our employees also visit Newark schools to read with middle school students. Employees enjoy concerts and sports games at NJPAC and the Prudential Center. As thousands of places for young people to live and many more places to play come on line in the next year or two downtown (the hip Brooklyn, Manhattan and Jersey City bar—Barcade—is moving across the street from Audible), Newark, which is only 18 minutes from Manhattan from the train station two blocks from Audible, is well on its way to its comeback.
URBAN AGENDA MAGAZINE
1/30/17 11:39:16 AM
Donald Katz, founder and CEO of Audible, Inc., the leading provider of premium digital spoken audio information and entertainment on the Internet.
Describe the emerging tech scene in Newark? I’ve been an early-stage investor for a long time, and there are few things as exciting as finding a small company that’s just an idea and watching that idea become real. And those early-stage tech companies grow jobs. Economists have shown they generate all kinds of economic activity in a city, creating service-level jobs as well as professional jobs. This observation led to the creation of Newark Venture Partners, which is halfway along its goal of raising $50 million. Newark Venture Partners is a place-based, socially focused fund that will not only measure success via strong returns to our investors; all of the investors are focused on the “other bottom line”—the generation of taxable revenue and jobs for the city. Deep economic analysis shows that in cities that thrive via innovation, high school graduates make more money than college graduates in cities focused on manufacturing. Our accelerator has 13 companies—out of more than 500 companies that applied, including some from the Bay Area—that have been nurtured rent-free in a 25,000-square-foot space with lightning-fast Wi-Fi and ultra-high bandwidth access to the internet. It’s on the seventh floor of our building, and more than 200 Audible employees are signed up by their subject matter expertise to take the elevator down the 25,000 square foot Newark Venture Partners Labs ultra-bandwidth accelerator to coach these stellar early stage companies in residence. And we’re hoping the winners stay in Newark, create jobs and taxable revenue here, and help develop the amenities and street-level destinations that will breathe life into the creative economy in Newark.
What does the future of Audible look like? I am proud that Audible has activated the deep understanding of the character of human expression I gleaned from Ralph Ellison when I was in college. Many millions of people understand the power of listening to well-wrought words that are artfully performed. Listening is indeed a viable way to read, and the learning values for developing learners are superior to textual composition. We have launched Audible Channels, a short form audio service focused on rising generations who tend to digest the world in ways that will not be served by long arc immersion, and we are designing the information, education and entertainment service with that future in mind. Most of the many millions of new habitual listeners who come to Audible’s service and integrate Audible into their daily lives had never heard an audiobook before. This is different from most businesses, which offer a better, faster, cheaper solution to things that already existed—Uber versus a taxis; or Amazon versus Sears (which I wrote a 600-page book about during career one). The Audible experience is novel to most new listeners. So, our future involves embracing many more millions of listeners all over the world, and I hope that our pursuit of urban renaissance as part of who we are as a company can be part of my own legacy and perhaps an example other leaders can copy. U
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2/1/17 9:47:31 AM
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photo courtesy of CAN/AM
Amped for Camp
Find rollercoasters, horses, and s’more fun at summer camp this year. by sarah emily gilbert
In Allan Sherman’s famous song, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter from Camp Granada),” he parodies a boys’ classic reaction to summer camp: initial anxiousness and homesickness followed by excitement and enthusiasm. To Sherman’s credit, summer camp can lead to some poison ivy, but it’s more likely to bring self-discovery, lifelong friendships, and even a first kiss. While away from their “Muddah and Fadduh” at summer camp, kids often undergo a transformative experience. They develop new personalities, challenge themselves mentally and physically, and beat the summer doldrums with a band of likeminded individuals. Luckily, Camp Granada doesn’t exist, but roller coaster camp, ice hockey camp, and film camp certainly do. Here, Urban Agenda Magazine outlines a myriad of places that promise an unforgettable summer—without the alligators, bears, or malaria. 14
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2/3/17 3:42:45 PM
Three years after graduating from Princeton University, Donald Kennedy (Class of ’23) opened up a summer camp for boys called Camp Kieve. Located along Lake Damariscotta in Maine, Kieve has that quintessential summer camp feeling, complete with log cabins, wilderness adventures, and a strong brotherhood. For ninety years, Kieve has seen thousands of boy ages 8-16 go through the camp and return to become counselors. The loyalty to the program is highlighted in the camp’s name. Kieve is a Celtic verb meaning, “to strive in emulation of,” and campers are encouraged to model their attitudes and behaviors after their counselors and other Kieve alumni. Down the road from Kieve is Wavus, an all girls summer camp established in 2006 that shares Kieve’s mission to promote social maturity and selfdiscovery in young people.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CAMP KIEVE
Camp Kieve 42 Kieve Road, Nobleboro, Maine 207.563.5172; kievewavus.org
CAN/AM Northwood School & Lake Placid Olympic Center, New York 800.678.0908; canamhockey.com
Not many kids come home from summer camp proﬁcient in archery and riﬂery, waterskiing and swimming, ceramics and cooking, or any other combination of these skills. Established in 1922, Cape Cod Sea Camp (CCSC) exposes its coed campers ages eight to 17 to a seemingly endless array of activities, but its specialty is sailing. CCSC has three boat ﬂeets, two sailing venues, and several Sail Masters to teach campers to be proﬁcient sailors. To further develop their seamanship, campers can compete in regattas against neighboring country clubs. Whether or not they’re on a boat, all campers experience a seaside retreat at CCSC, where they have the option of staying overnight along the Cape Cod Bay or attending the CCSC day camp.
New York Film Academy Kids Filmmaking Camp 17 Battery Place, New York, New York 212.966.3488; nyfa.edu/summer-camps Future Spielbergs ages 10 to 13 travel to the esteemed New York Film Academy for a two-week-long summer ﬁlmmaking camp in Battery Park. In addition to working with industry-standard ﬁlm equipment, kids take classes in directing, writing, editing, cinematography, and production. Just like the pros, students can invite their families to a screening of their ﬁlms at the end of camp. Those interested in continuing their ﬁlm education often move on to the New York Film Academy’s Advanced Filmmaking Camp for kids, and eventually, the Teen Filmmaking Camp. In the latter program, students undergo up to six weeks of intensive courses and hands-on training related to ﬁlmmaking and production.
PHOTO COURTESY OF CAPE COD SEA CAMPS
Cape Cod Sea Camps 3057 Main Street, Brewster, Massachusetts 508.896.3451; capecodseacamps.com
PHOTO COURTESY OF CAN/AM
On February 22, 1980, the U.S. Ice Hockey team achieved a “Miracle on Ice” when they defeated the Soviet Union for the Gold Medal at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid. Come 2016, ice hockey players of all ages and abilities hone their skills at this historic venue during their stay at the CAN/AM Hockey Camp. The internationally recognized program offers close to 30 unique camps and tournaments ranging from Girls Elite Goaltending and a Tyke Clinic to Family Camp, where parents and children play hockey together for a week. In addition to Lake Placid, where campers board at the charming Northwood School, CAN/AM holds camps in Niagara, Ontario and Las Vegas, Nevada.
URBAN AGENDA MAGAZINE
2/3/17 3:40:58 PM
At the French Institute Alliance Francaise (FIAF) day camp, children ages ﬁve to 10 not only learn the French language, but also the European “joie de vivre.” Certiﬁed French language teachers lead campers through yoga, gardening, cooking, and crafts while immersing them in the language. This year’s theme, “Once Upon a Camp!” will ignite children’s imaginations as they explore the world of endearing French literary characters such as Tintin, The Little Prince, and Madeline. Even toddlers age three and four can uncover their inner Parisian at the FIAF’s half day Mini Fun in French Camp. Whether you’re a native French speaker or a curious tot, FIAF Montclair provides campers with a culturally rich and educational summer experience.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FIAF DAY CAMP
FIAF Day Camp 7 North Willow Street, Suite 7, Montclair, New Jersey 973.783.0507; ﬁaf.org
The only prerequisite for this camp is a strong stomach and a penchant for adventure. In 2004, Ira Gordon launched Thrill Coaster Tours, a weeklong camp that takes amusement park enthusiasts to new heights—200-foot heights to be exact. That’s the length of Valravn’s drop, a record-breaking roller coaster at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio, the destination for this year’s “Get to the Point” tour. Later in the summer, campers head to the West Coast for the California Coasters Tour. Along with stops to Universal Studios, Disneyland, and Great America, they’ll go to Six Flag Magic Mountain, which holds the world record for the most roller coasters in a single amusement park. Thrill Coaster Tours attracts kids from around the world, but NJ campers can be picked up at several locations while the tour is en route to its next destination.
PHOTO COURTESY OF THRILL COASTER TOURS
Thrill Coaster Tours Based out of East Brunswick, New Jersey 888.542.4842; thrilcoastertours.com
Horsing around is fully supported at Kierson Farm, home to the largest horsebackriding program in New Jersey. Although owners Mike and Jessie Richardson have trained dozens of title-winning riders and horses, their summer camps welcome novice riders, champion riders, or those who simply love horses. Inexperienced campers learn everything from Horsemanship 101 to how to bathe a horse during the Happy Trails Discovery day camp, while seasoned equestrians can stay overnight at the Kierson Bunk House during Step Up Camp. No matter their level, campers work closely with the farm’s 30 stunning American Saddle bred horses in a picturesque setting complete with 42 stalls, indoor and outdoor riding arenas, and heated tack rooms.
PHOTO COURTESY OF KIERSON FARM
Kierson Farm Riding Camps 107 West Woodschurch Road, Flemington, New Jersey 908.528.3307; kiersonfarms.com
Camp Harlam is the type of place where cabin mates jump on friends’ bunks to wake them up in the morning, where the pre-cut bagels at Shabat are highly anticipated, and where Superhero Night is epic. One of only 15 Union for Reform Judaism overnight camps in the country, Harlam provides young people with three and a half weeks of summer fun rooted in Jewish culture and tradition. Founded in 1958, Camp Harlam encourages its campers to stay in touch with their families the old-fashioned way: letter writing. Campers are eager to communicate with home, but they certainly don’t mind swapping their parents for 550 fellow campers. When faced with 300-acres of land, a natural lake for swimming, and activities in modern facilities like a woodshop and dance studio, any homesickness quickly dissipates.
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Camp Harlam 575 Smith Road, Kunkletown, Pennsylvania 570.629.1390; campharlam.org
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Sarah Carberry, Professor of Chemistry, works with Ramapo College students in one of our newly renovated chemistry labs.
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Time Honored and Revered:
Private School Traditions by anne levin
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1/30/17 11:47:06 AM
At the Lawrenceville School, students walking past the statue, Spinario, rub his toe on his good foot, to have a little bit of that power.
cluster of young women in semi-formal dresses is standing in the Another Lawrenceville tradition involves a statue in the rotunda of a building back of a candlelit auditorium at Stuart Country Day School of known as Pop Hall. Called Spinario, the statue is a young man pulling a thorn out of the Sacred Heart. Teetering a bit on their high heels, they whisper his foot. “It is the personification of diligence and perseverance,” Eldridge explains. quietly while awaiting their turn to take part in an annual tradition “So the students, every time they walk past it, rub his toe on his good foot, to have a known as the Junior Ring Ceremony. little bit of that power. It’s about the ability to suspend a temporary personal concern Dating back to the 1970s, this rite of passage involves a in pursuit of a larger virtue. I still do it. If you don’t acknowledge it, you are less likely procession down an aisle lined with smiling alumnae of the Princeton girls’ school, to make it through the rigors of Lawrenceville.’ some of whom are their mothers and older sisters. Once they reach the front of the There is a secret group of do-gooders at The Peddie School in Hightstown. auditorium known as Cor Unum (Latin for “one heart”), Known as the Society of 8, they perform random acts of they are handed a lit candle and a school ring by a kindness. Their name comes not from their number, but member of the senior class. from the school’s proximity to Exit 8 of the New Jersey According to tradition, the girls then have to turn Turnpike. One former member told school spokesperson their ring 100 times plus the number of their class, Wendi Patella, “There were no robes or secret handshakes, plus one. If they don’t? “You may become a nun,” says but you swore your allegiance to the society by placing Stuart spokesperson Risa Engel, attributing the quote to your hand on a map of New Jersey.” former head of school Sister Fran de la Chappelle. Peddie is believed to be the only high school in the The ring ceremony is just one of the rituals held dear country that owns a Heisman Trophy, won in 1937 by 1933 by students at Stuart and other area private schools. graduate Larry Kelley. Each winner gets two trophies, Some are lighthearted and others are solemn in nature. so Kelly donated one to his alma mater, where it sits Most are taken seriously, according to representatives under glass most of the time. But according to tradition, of these prestigious academies. You don’t mess with the trophy is taken out once a year, when Peddie plays tradition. football against longtime rival Blair Academy. Members “The ring ceremony is meant to be a symbol of the team make sure to touch the trophy before the between the juniors and seniors. Each junior gets a ring game, for good luck. from a senior, and it’s a link you remember forever,” says If Blair, which is in Blairstown, should happen to win Alicia Fruscione Walker, a 1998 graduate, current Stuart that or any other football game, team members are sure parent, and coordinator of its alumnae office. “It’s such Graduation Rings worn by students at Stuart Country Day School of the to celebrate by “Ringing the Victory Bell.” The tradition a special time, for the juniors but also for the alumnae Sacred Heart. was established in 1999 by the classes of 1949 and who come back to take part. You never forget it.” 1999, on the occasion of their 50th reunion and graduation, respectively. The bell A few miles away at The Lawrenceville School, students know to avoid a bronze is installed at the heart of the campus, in front of Hardwick Hall, with a plaque that medallion known as the zodiac, embedded in the stairs leading down to the field reads, “When Blair’s athletes are victorious, ring forth. Always mute but for victory.” house—until they’ve graduated, that is. “Stepping on that or another bronze tablet There is a similar ritual at Morristown-Beard School in Morristown. After a big before you graduate will jinx the gods or show condescension,” says Blake Eldridge, win by a varsity sports team, the players ring the bell housed in a tower on Burke Dean of Students and a 1996 graduate of the school. “You don’t want to show any Athletic Field. Another M-B tradition is the Senior Circle, a verdant piece of grassland hubris by walking on either of these seals.” in front of Beard Hall that is strictly seniors-only. And unless you are a member
(opposite) The Focus Speech: Each 8th grade Princeton Day School student prepares and delivers a speech to the entire Middle School. The students work with teachers on not only writing their speech on a subect they are passionate about, but also delivering the speech with poise and grace.
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(top) The Maypole Dance at Princeton Day School: Second grade students weave ribbons around the Maypole with the musical accompaniment of the PDS student orchestra in front of the historic Colross building. (bottom-left) The 100 Days Luncheon and Letters: Princeton Day School hosts a special luncheon for the senior class where they are presented with letters from their parents. These letters are heartfelt and poignant and the students have a chance to reflect on the coming graduation from high school. (bottom-right) The youngest students in Princeton Day School grab their garden gloves and trowels and plant daffodil, tulip, and other bulbs with their teachers and parents each fall to prepare for a beautiful show in the spring.
100 Days Ceremony at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.
of that elite senior class, don’t bother walking in the front door of Beard Hall. No encouragement about the rigors of the college application process. underclassmen allowed. At Princeton Day School, the littlest members of the student body in pre-K, Pennington School counts 125 boarders among its 400-member student body. kindergarten and first grade have a custom of planting daffodil and tulip bulbs in Dressed in their best, the boarding students are treated to a formal dinner every the fall, and then watching them flower in the spring. Among the school’s other other Monday night. Tables are set with linen and the students sit with faculty traditions is The Maypole Dance, an annual event since the founding of the all-girls members at these special, traditional meals. At the dinner held before the students Miss Fine’s School in 1899. It was the merger of Miss Fine’s and the all-boys Princeton go home for Thanksgiving, each table gets its own turkey. Country Day School in 1965 that created what is now PDS. Another Pennington tradition dates from “Postcards to the Library” is a beloved the academy’s “sister” affiliation with the summer tradition at Pingry School in Short Kingswood School in Bath, England. In 1963, Hills. First launched in 2004, it invites students Kingswood’s headmaster visited Pennington in kindergarten through grade five to send a and told students about its tradition of declaring picture postcard to the library for every book surprise, one-day holidays. Pennington adopted they read in the summer break. On the first day the practice in his honor. First, it was a holiday back at school, 10 postcards are randomly picked announced at breakfast. Later, the day was by the librarian from a giant wicker basket. scheduled on the school calendar. But in recent The “winning” students are given gift cards to years, the surprise element has been restored Barnes & Noble to help encourage their interest and the day can pop up at any time, most often in reading. A newer tradition, just two years old, after a period of long and hard work. is “Taste of Pingry,” which acknowledges the Alumni of George School in Newtown, multicultural student body and their families. Pa. disagree on the genesis of Four Square, a At the most recent “Taste” event last May, more game that has become a pivotal part of campus than 80 families shared dishes from across the culture. Only a few decades old, the tradition globe—from Haitian beef patties to Papa à la is a competition that has no winners, losers, or Huancaina, a Peruvian potato appetizer. score. “If a dispute arises, a dance-off is called; Whether long-standing or only a few years the best dancer as determined by the crowd old, each school has its own, established, Students and faculty at The Lawrenceville School. wins,” says spokesperson Alyson Cittadino, the sometimes quirky traditions. The idea is to school’s Assistant Director of Communications and Marketing. “The game has no connect students to their history and understand what makes them unique. “They are end. Players play until they are tired.” meaningful in the moment,” says Eldridge of The Lawrenceville School. “And when Princeton’s Hun School has various traditions of different lineages. One of the kids go off to college and later in life, they remember those moments. Everybody newer rituals is known as Senior Pass-it-On Day, in which seniors gather in the who has come through this school remembers and can talk to you about these spring for a photo, sporting gear representing the colleges to which they have traditions that are part of what make us who we are.” been accepted. Each one writes a note to a rising senior, giving them tips and
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Junior Ring Ceremony at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.
(above and left) Flag Ceremony at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart.
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HARLEM POSTCARD by donald h. sanborn III
2/1/17 11:04:23 AM
photograph courtesy ofshutterstock.com
Duke Ellington statue in Harlem. Duke Ellington (1899-1974) was an American composer, pianist, and big-band leader.
Marquee for Apollo Theater in Harlem. This historic music hall is one of the oldest in NYC and known exclusively with African-American performers.
Welcome to the world famous Apollo Theater. This is the real deal!” exclaims Steve Harvey, host of Showtime at the Apollo. “If you say you can sing, we’ll let you know. If you think you’re funny, we’ll let you know. If you’re not…?” “We’ll let you know!” chants the audience. “This is the only show in the world where the audience truly decides who has talent, and who doesn’t,” Harvey declares. “There are no judges, celebrity judges. It’s people. People decide. This is where stars are born. This is where legends are made!” Harvey’s remarks opened a special presentation of Showtime at the Apollo, which aired December 5. The Fox network will broadcast a second special on February 1. As with the series that ran from 1987 to 2008, the special included performances from Amateur Night, which the theater presents on Wednesdays at 7:30. “Booing belongs to us,” Harvey continues. Booing is not confined to the Apollo, however. In a Broad Street Review article titled “Why Opera Audiences Boo,” Diana Burgwyn notes that tenor Roberto Alagna was booed at La Scala, though the audience cheered his understudy, Antonello Palombi. Obviously, this gladiatorial aspect of musical interaction is something television producers often have exploited with programs such as American Idol and The Voice, as Mosaic street art by East Harlem. well as Showtime at the Apollo. If booed relentlessly, unlucky Amateurs are ushered offstage by the “Executioner,” who uses a mop, shepherd’s crook, or other props. The current executioner is a tap dancer named C.P. Lacey, whose James
Buildings of the Harlem district.
Brown impressions brought him to the attention of Amateur Night’s creator, Ralph Cooper. “I really don’t want to do it,” Lacey tells an interviewer for the Apollo’s YouTube channel. “But once the audience starts booing them, it’s my job—my obligation—to rid the stage of any unwanted acts.” Lacey got his start by substituting for the previous executioner, Howard “Sandman” Sims. Like Lacey, Sims diligently carried out his executions. Backstage, however, he encouraged his “victims” with his own story: in his first ten Amateur Nights, he too was chased off stage—but then he won twenty-five times. Traditionally, Amateur Night participants touch the “Tree of Hope” before they perform, “supposedly to get good luck,” Apollo historian Billy Mitchell explains during a tour for the Biography network. The Tree of Hope is the stump of an eight-foot tree that used to stand on 131st Street and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, in front of the now-defunct Lafayette Theatre. “The Tree used to be the gathering place for unemployed entertainers back in the 1930s. They’d sing, they’d dance…hoping that somebody would like them and hire them. And—boom!—what do you know? That started happening! Everyone who performed around the tree got a job somewhere,” Mitchell reveals. When the tree had to be chopped down so that the sidewalk could be enlarged, the artist Manny Vega at performers—who thought it had brought them luck—wanted a piece of it. Ralph Cooper decided to bring the stump to the Apollo stage, “so the amateurs could rub it, hoping they don’t get booed off the stage!” Mitchell says.
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HAPPY CENTENNIAL, ELLA For Amateur Night contestants who do succeed—even previous execution victims—the supportive applause is genuine and thunderous. On November 21, 1934, one nervous teenager was not booed; on the contrary, she won $25 as first prize. (By contrast, the current Grand Prize offered on the theater’s website is $10,000.) Her name was Ella Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was born in 1917 in Newport News, Virginia. She moved to Yonkers, New York when her father, William left and her mother, Temperance (“Tempie”) found a new man, Joseph Da Silva. When Tempie died in 1932, her sister Virginia took Ella into her home, in Harlem. In Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, Stuart Nicholson writes, “Rumor was spreading of Joe’s ill treatment of his stepdaughter.” As a young adult, Fitzgerald earned money as a lookout at a brothel, as well as a numbers runner for the Mafia lottery. Because of her interminable absences from school, she eventually was caught by the authorities and sent to the New York Training School for Girls, in Hudson. She escaped, but could not return to her aunt’s home for fear of being tracked. She went instead to Seventh Avenue, in between 130th and 140th streets. Known as “Black Broadway,” the area was full of street performers. Nicholson notes that Ella “earned tips and got by as best she could.” Fitzgerald’s musical influences included Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, and the Boswell sisters. Ella particularly enjoyed imitating Connee Boswell, whose musical style she would apply to other performers’ songs. She also loved to dance; she would sneak into the Savoy Ballroom, on Lennox Avenue and 140th Street, to learn the latest steps. For Amateur Night, Ella’s intention had been to dance, but she wanted to avoid unfavorable comparison with the Edwards Sisters, a dance duo. Instead, she sang two numbers: “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection.” Stuart Nicholson writes that, “to Ella’s surprise and delight, she brought the house down.” However, while she pocketed the $25, as well as the honor of becoming the first female performer to win Amateur Night, she was denied what should have been the second part of her prize: a week of employment at the theater. Ralph Cooper could not overlook the way she dressed, a result of the poverty in which she was living. “The theater was beginning to attract the top movie, radio and stage stars of the day in its audience…and image counted,” Nicholson writes. However, the evening still gained Fitzgerald an important connection. Benny Carter, whose orchestra accompanied Ella, was impressed by her performance. Carter introduced her to Chick Webb, whose orchestra she joined in 1935, and led after Webb’s death in 1939. Last October, Fitzgerald, who died in 1996, was honored with a concert, 100:
The Apollo Celebrates Ella. The performers included Andra Day, Kevin Spacey, and the Count Basie Orchestra, along with many others. The songs included “How High the Moon,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” and “Without a Song.” Monica Mancini, who performed “Give Me the Simple Life,” had met Fitzgerald through her late father. “Long before anyone knew her as a powerhouse performer, Ella Fitzgerald made a name for herself at one of the earliest editions of Amateur Night,” says Kamilah Forbes in a statement, the theater’s Executive Producer. “Her innovations in vocal jazz that started on our stage exemplifies the Apollo’s tradition of nurturing creativity and pushing artistic boundaries. For Ella’s centennial birthday, we’re thrilled to celebrate the Queen of Jazz, the timeless talent she represents, and the generations she has inspired.” Three more events will take place this spring. Live Wire: Ella! A Centennial Celebration, a discussion of Fitzgerald’s legacy, on March 23; Apollo Music Café: Ella Fitzgerald Tribute, featuring contemporary jazz artists, will be presented April 7; and a special Jazz edition of Amateur Night on April 19, six days before Ella’s birthday. Visitors to the Apollo’s lobby can view a picture of luminaries who performed at the theater, in which Fitzgerald is prominently featured. Duke Ellington, Patty LaBelle, and Sammy Davis Jr. are among those pictured with her.
A NEW NAME, AND NEW ENTERTAINMENT Fitzgerald participated in one of the first Amateur Nights, as the feature had been introduced shortly after the Apollo’s 1934 re-opening. In 1914, the theater had opened as Hurtig and Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. Only white audiences and performers were permitted, and the entertainment, as the name suggests, was risque. However, Fiorello LaGuardia, the Congressman-turned-Mayor, banned burlesque. Hurtig and Seamon were forced to close in 1933. The following year, owner Sidney Cohen re-opened the theater, re-naming it the Apollo. The choice of a name was deliberate, as Billy Mitchell explains to Biography: “Apollo was the Greek god that represented the sun, and music, and poetry…those were the elements these new owners wanted to bring to this building in 1934.” Besides the name change, a new type of entertainment was sought to fill the stage. “Our white brothers and sisters wanted to see black people perform, because they had heard about all these fantastic black performers like Fats Waller, Cab Calloway. But they weren’t allowed to see them perform, because theater owners didn’t let blacks in their theaters.” Mitchell tells Health Beauty Life. “Well, the guys who bought the Apollo said, since no other theaters in Harlem allow ‘colored people’ in their building, we’re going to be the first.” Others soon followed. In 1934, a year before they took over the operation of the Apollo, Leo Brecher and Frank Schiffman undertook management of the Harlem Opera House, which stood on 211 West 125th Street. Brecher and Schiffman attempted to turn the theater into a competitor for the Apollo, which included giving it an “Amateur Hour” of its own. Again, Ella Fitzgerald won first prize for singing “Judy.” This time she also was awarded a week’s employment, as well as her first newspaper mention, in the New York Age. In the mid-1930s, however, the Harlem Opera House became a movie theater, and it was demolished in 1959.
Still standing is the Hotel Theresa, now an office building named Theresa Towers. Built in 1913, the hotel was known in the mid-20th century as the Waldorf of Harlem. Its guests included Malcolm X and Fidel Castro. The manager of the hotel’s bar was Andy Kirk, a former big band leader. In addition to its individual residents, the Hotel Theresa also housed Harlem institutions such as the March Community Bookstore and Malcolm X’s Organization of Afro-American Unity. The Studio Museum in Harlem exists to promote artists of African or Latino descent. The museum’s website underlines that “the Artist-in-Residence program was one of the museum’s founding initiatives, and gives the museum the ‘studio’ in its name.” Current exhibitions include Circa 1970 and Harlem Postcards. Both of these will be available through March 5. In addition to the Fitzgerald centennial events, the Apollo Theater will present Afropunk: “Unapologetically Black” The African-American Songbook Remixed. This February 25 event will “pay homage to black protest music and iconic and contemporary artists who have celebrated the power of being unapologetically black,” promises the calendar on apollotheater.org. The fifth annual Africa Now! will be on March 11. On March 31, the Harlem Symphony Orchestra will perform as part of the School Day Live series, an arm of the theater’s educational outreach. “This is the place where dreams come true, but this is also the place where dreams end,” Steve Harvey warns. But the Apollo is helping to ensure that future Ella Fitzgeralds have the opportunity to dream. U
photograph courtesy of wikimedia commons
Portrait of Benny Carter, Apollo Theatre, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1946.
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photographs courtesy of Shahar Azran Photography for the Apollo Theater (l to r) Afro Blue singer, Cassandra Wilson, Monica Mancini, Kevin Spacey, Andra Day, Lizz Wright, Patti Austin, David Alan Grier and members of Afro Blue vocal ensemble take a bow at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY.
David Alan Grier performs at 100: The Apollo Celebrates Ella at the Apollo Theater.
Patti Austin performs at the Apollo Theater in honor of Ella Fitzgerald. february 2017
Andra Day shines bright at the Apollo Theaterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s celebration of Ella Fitzgerald. URBAN AGENDA MAGAZINE
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After Obama: Reading Black History Month by Stuart Mitchner
the “Amazing Grace” chapter of The Black Presidency (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $27), Michael Eric Dyson calls the last week of June 2015 Barack Obama’s greatest as president. Setting the scene at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church where Obama delivered a eulogy for the nine people slain by Dylann Roof, Dyson describes how the president “wrapped his vulnerability around the church” after the last words of the speech and “on the high wire of live television, before an audience of millions around the world,” began to sing “Amazing Grace.” As Dyson puts it, “Singing in church ratifies with the gut what the head has decided is true.” For a president to risk singing meant “going where no executive order can rescue notes ill flung.” That he was a bit flat, obviously no singer, worked for Obama rather than against him as the bishops and ministers at his back joined in. It also gave emotional authority to his recital of the names of those who had died, “his words now humming with the slight tune and gentle vibrato of black sacred rhetoric.” As he called each name, it dramatized “how much more amazing grace was for having been found in the midst of terror and grief and heartbreak and death.”
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January 20, 2009 It seems an unlikely combination, pairing a leader of the Civil Rights Movement with the imagery of a graphic novel, but it works in March (Top Shelf $49.99), a three-volume visual autobiography of Congressman John Lewis, one of the key players in the struggle to end segregation. Co-authored with Andrew Aydin and graphic artist Nate Powell, March is the first such work to win the National Book Award. The New York Times best-seller makes “historic events,” in the words of LeVar Burton, “both accessible and relevant to an entire new generation of Americans.” The special strength of March is in the raw force of Powell’s graphics, immediately obvious in the brooding image of a Washington D.C. street on the morning of Barack Obama’s inauguration, January 20, 2009. Barely visible in the far distance is the dome of the capitol, where Obama will take the oath of office as the first black president. Whether or not the effect is intentional, the image of a shadow-drenched urban street on such a momentous day in American history suggests the dark underside of the hope shared by millions during the “brief shining moment” of the ceremony that took place six hours later. There’s a gritty down-to-earth quality in the drawings of a black man of a certain age, Lewis himself no doubt, getting out of bed, washing and shaving and dressing in the shadows while listening to the weather forecast (“It’s COLD in the capital city!”) and the ceremonial platitudes of the occasion (“bearing witness to the peaceful transfer of power”).
The Migration Series In 1941, the African-American artist Jacob Lawrence, then just 23 years old, completed a series of 60 small tempera paintings with text captions about the Great Migration, the mass movement of black Americans from the rural South to the urban North that began in 1915– 16. According to the New Yorker’s Peter Schjeldahl, the series “appears as a hinge of the national consciousness: inward to the untold history of African-Americans and outward to the enlightenment of the wide world. It would not have worked were it not superb art, but it is. Melding
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modernist form and topical content, the series is both decorative and illustrative, and equally efficient in those fundamental, often opposed functions of painting.” In Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series (the Museum of Modern Art and The Phillips Collection), edited by Leah Dickerson and Elisa Smithgall, with notes by Jodi Roberts, the “untold history” includes poetry by, among others, Rita Dove and Yusef Komunyakaa, and photographs like the extraordinary full-page view of a segregated railway waiting room in Jacksonville, Florida.
Down Home Cooking The culinary side of Black History Month is brilliantly represented by Marcus Samuelsson’s The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $37.50), which Vanity Fair calls “a literary love letter” that goes beyond recipes “to the neighborhood” and “the people, places, and problems in it.” When the James Beard Award-winning chef Samuelsson opened Red Rooster on Malcolm X Boulevard, he envisioned more than a restaurant. It would be a meeting place for both the downtown and the uptown sets, serving Southern black and crosscultural food, as suggested by items on Rooster’s menu like Brown Butter Biscuits, Chicken and Waffle, Killer Collards, and Donuts with Sweet Potato Cream. Samuelsson’s Swedish-Ethiopian background shows in Ethiopian Spice-Crusted Lamb, Slow-Baked Blueberry Bread with Spiced Maple Syrup, and the Green Viking, sprightly Apple Sorbet with Caramel Sauce.
however, is something else again, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that word began to get out. Some 30 years after Herriman’s death in 1944, black novelist Ishmael Reed dedicated his book Mumbo Jumbo to “George Herriman, Afro-American.”
Princeton Connections Another 2016 National Book award winner in addition to March is one-time Lewis Center faculty member Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (Doubleday $26.95), which The New York Times named one of the year’s Ten Best. The Times Book Review described it as “Whitehead’s attempt at getting things right, not by telling us what we already know but by vindicating the powers of fiction to interpret the world. In its exploration of the foundational sins of America, it is a brave and necessary book.” The chair of Princeton’s Department of African American Studies Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.’s Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul (Penguin/Random House) “should shape the framework for a post-Obama America,” according to Cornel West, who calls it “a bold rejection of black liberal politics and a prophetic call for a revolution of value that reinvigorates our democratic life with imagination and courage.” Newly published in paperback (Broadway Books $16), Democracy in Black is, in the words of the Los Angeles Times, “a book for the ages... one of the most imaginative, daring books of the 21st century.”
Krazy was Black Among the earliest, most admired and influential American cartoonists was George Herriman, the creator of “one of the greatest comic strips in history,” Krazy Kat, and the subject of Michael Tisserand’s biography, Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White (HarperCollins $35). That Krazy was a black cat was no more an issue than that Ignatz, the brick-throwing love of Krazy’s life, was a mouse, or that Officer Pup was a dog. That Krazy’s creator was also black,
Finally, two biograpies that highlight extremes of Black history are Philippe Girard’s Toussaint Louverture: A Revolutionary Life (Basic Books $29.99), “a groundbreaking biography” (Kirkus Reviews) and Krin Gabbard’s Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus (Univ. of California Press $34.95), named by New York Magazine among “14 of the Best Gifts for a Music Snob Who’s Heard Everything,” a biography “as idiosyncratic as the great jazz bassist and composer that is its subject.”
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BARRED ZONES THE IMMIGRATION ACT OF 1917 | ONE HUNDRED YEARS LATER
mmigration is a foundation of the American experience, and an integral part of American life today. It has been frequent topic of discussion for politicians and social activists alike, especially in last year’s presidential election, leading to many divisive conversations on what the future holds for immigrants. But questions of who should be allowed entry into the United States are not unique to today’s political climate nor to the nation’s past. February 2017 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the passage of the Immigration Act of 1917, which was at the time the country’s most sweeping piece of immigration legislation. It was passed under President Woodrow Wilson, and required that immigrants entering the country first pass a literacy test.
The act also barred immigrants coming from most parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands. Beth Lew-Williams, a Princeton Universit y professor specializing in race and migration in the United States and Asian American history, points out that the law was highly divisive in nature. “The act divides the world in some ways between Asia, or most of what we consider Asia today, which was seen as completely undesirable racially, and the rest of the world,” says Lew-Williams. In Asian American history, the law was typically referred to as the Barred Zone Act, since it barred immigrants from specific regions of Asia.
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images courtesy of shutterstock.com/wikipedia
UNDESIRABLE FOR ENTRY The Barred Zone Act aimed to exclude so-called “undesirables,” which included the insane, diseased, poor, or physically disabled, anarchists, prostitutes, or other groups deemed unworthy for entrance. Lew-Williams notes that since previous legislation had already restricted immigration from China and Japan, the new act effectively focused on South Asian immigrants, primarily from India. Prejudice toward Asian immigrants was rooted in stereotypical conceptions of Asian people, and anxieties that the foreign cultures would start replacing American culture. This ideology was reflected in other laws of the time, which further tightened immigration. President Woodrow Wilson initially vetoed the 1917 act, for he felt that the introduction of a literacy requirement prevented the uneducated from receiving equal opportunities. Before becoming president, Wilson served as governor of New Jersey, and had voiced some of his concerns about rising nativist sentiments. In a 1912 speech on the campaign trail in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Wilson said: “Some people have expressed a fear that there is too much immigration. I have the least uneasiness as to the new arrivals,” adding that “the country should be divested of all prejudices.” Wilson’s veto of the act was overridden by Congress, though, and the act became law on February 5, 1917. The Immigration Act illustrated the resurgence of nativism in the country, putting extensive restrictions on immigration in order to protect American culture from ethnic invasion. The long-term implications persisted for decades: Asian immigrants were not granted the right to naturalization until new legislation was passed in the 1940s and 1950s, and until the Immigration Act of 1990, language barring homosexual immigrants remained in the immigration code. Though the 1917 act is no longer law, it is worth considering the historical background since Asians make up a sizeable proportion of immigrants in New Jersey today. Indians, for example, currently comprise the largest Asian group in the state, numbering nearly 300,000.
NEW JERSEY, NOW A WELCOMING HOME FOR MANY New Jersey is a diverse place today. More than 50,000 immigrants move to the state annually, and contribute a significant proportion of its continued population growth. Bergen County, New Jersey’s most populous county, is also one of the leaders in the number of people immigrating, with over 30,000 foreigners settling in the area in the last five years. In particular, the Korean community in Bergen County is growing rapidly. “The Bergen County Department of Human Services has long celebrated the rich tapestry of multicultural diversity throughout our communities. This diversity is our strength,” says Director Jane C. Linter. The Department of Human Services has extensively targeted the unique concerns and challenges facing the immigrant population, working to make the community inclusive for all immigrants. Census data has shown that immigrants from Asia are a flourishing demographic in New Jersey. The 2010 census reported that 6.3 percent of Bergen County’s population is of Korean ancestry, among the highest proportions in the nation. Some communities, like Palisades Park’s Koreatown, have populations where immigrants comprise the majority of residents. In the more urbanized Essex County, nearly a third of the residents of some municipalities are foreign-born. More than a quarter of Mercer County’s population of 371,000 is of Asian or Latino descent, and Princeton has the highest proportion of immigrants, nearly a quarter, of any municipality in the county. Wealthy counties like Morris and Somerset have also seen similar trends: the number of foreign-born residents has risen by an estimated 40 percent in the last 15 years throughout much of Somerset. The Bergen County Department of Human Services has worked with immigrants and other disadvantaged groups to help protect their rights. According to Linter, “We partner with social service agencies countywide focusing on providing services for our vulnerable populations in need that include low-income families, people grappling with homelessness, physically challenged individuals of all ages, victims of domestic violence, military veterans, at-risk youth and older adults.” Most Asian immigrants today come from India, China, the Philippines, Korea, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Japan. The trend that emerged in the later part of the 20th century is dramatic: New Jersey’s Asian population has grown by more than 1,400 percent since 1970. Despite the history of exclusion of immigrants in this nation, and some persisting prejudices toward foreigners, many New Jersey communities have embraced their new residents and celebrated diversity.
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In the wake of the 2016 election, county divisions like the Department of Human Services, in conjunction with state and national bodies, have been tasked with aiding immigrants in preparing for any changes in administration. Donald Trump’s policies on immigration have been among of the most controversial aspects of his campaign. In order to fully understand the nature of Trump’s proposals, they must be seen in relation to past legislation. Lew-Williams notes that a commonly voiced critique of strict immigration laws is that their spirit is “un-American,” since America is considered to be a nation of immigrants. She points out that an exclusionary attitude toward immigrants, and a desire to protect the nation’s residents, is actually not unique to today’s political environment, nor was it new at the time of the Barred Zone Act’s passage. Today, rather than focusing on Asian immigrants, Trump’s proposals primarily affect immigrants from Mexico or Central American countries, and he has called for a ban on Muslim immigrants perceived as terrorism threats. His “10 Point Plan to Put America First” includes measures to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, end sanctuary cities, remove criminal aliens with the assistance of law enforcement, and reform legal immigration. Trump’s policies aim to protect the economic security of American citizens and legal immigrants, calling for more careful scrutiny of immigrants from Mexico and the Middle East. He has also stated his intentions to suspend issuing visas to those in countries that do not yet have sufficient screening and vetting processes in place. The 1917 act illustrates that the United States has had quite a long history of discrimination toward foreigners, with the Supreme Court often upholding immigration laws that broadly characterize large groups of people. Though the United States Constitution guarantees equal protection to its citizens per the fourteenth amendment, this equal protection is not extended to immigrants who have yet to enter the country. These policies have prompted fears in many immigrant communities, especially for undocumented immigrants. Some cities, like Newark, have declared intentions to become “sanctuary cities” and adopt other measures to stand by undocumented residents. Coupled with actions already taken to inform residents and support their needs, these measures have helped quell some of the anxieties that come with the transition of power. Future changes to immigration legislation are still unclear; it remains to be seen which policies will actually be implemented, and how they will affect local groups. One thing is certain: New Jersey communities have gathered together to protect all their residents, including immigrants, and make the area welcoming to a very diverse body of people. U
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images courtesy of shutterstock.com/wikipedia
THE FUTURE OF IMMIGRATION POLICY
february 2017 FEBRUARY 2017
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“MY NEW JERSEY” PHOTO CONTEST
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR “MY NEW JERSEY” PHOTO CONTEST WINNER! The Garden State was captured through the lens of photographs around the tri-state area for our February photo contest. From stunning sunsets to unique yoga shots, the photo submissions offered diverse and impressive interpretations of our state. To all those who submitted photos, thank you for supporting Urban Agenda Magazine, and more importantly, thank you for sharing your love of New Jersey! Congratulations to our first place winner, Luke Waldrum from Roseland, NJ. Here, he walks us through his winning shot of Montclair. “Prior to moving to Roseland, my wife and I lived in Montclair. She was away traveling for work when a bad winter storm blew in last January. So I bundled up and headed out to walk over to my studio to paint. Across from my studio is the never disappointing Merit Fine Wines liquor store, the only local business open. I loved the “OPEN” sign lit up through the blowing snow. It’s a great NJ small business serving their community in the toughest of our winters. Warmed me up just fine.” To view the second place, third place, and honorable mention photographs, visit our website at www. urbanagendamagazine.com, where you can also view the details for the April 2017 photo contest! Luke Waldrum, Merit Fine Wines, Montclair, New Jersey.
A Panel Discussion Led by Bob Santelli, Director, The GRAMMY Museum Presented in conjunction with Morven’s current exhibition, photographers Danny Clinch, Ed Gallucci, Eric Meola, Barry Schneier, Pamela Springsteen and Frank Stefanko discuss their adventures photographing Springsteen throughout his career.
Sunday, March 5, 3:00 p.m. McCosh 50 Lecture Hall, Princeton University Doors open at 2:00 p.m.
A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY PANEL DISCUSSION n MARCH 5, 2017 36
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Reservations are required. For tickets and more information visit morven.org/programs or call 609.924.8144 x113 PHOTOGRAPH BY PAMELA SPRINGSTEEN SPONSORED BY
the Sally F. & James Scott Hill Foundation
CURATED BY THE
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MATISSE AND AMERICAN ART MONTCLAIR ART MUSEUM February 5–June 18, 2017
his one-of-a-kind exhibition features 65 paintings, archival objects, sculptures, prints and works on paper from 1907 to the present by Matisse and the modern artists he inspired, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Faith Ringgold and others. MEMBERS SEE IT FREE! Join today for free admission to Matisse and American Art and visit as often as you’d like! Plan your visit today at montclairartmuseum.org/matisse. Major support for Matisse and American Art is provided by The Henry Luce Foundation and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Max Weber, The Apollo in Matisse’s Studio, 1908. Oil on canvas. © 2017 Estate of Max Weber, courtesy Gerald Peters Gallery, New York.
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Like A Trampled Daisy, Mixed-Media, 2016.
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LOUISE INGALLS STURGES:
by wendy plump | art courtesy of louise ingalls sturges
So, you can add agility to Louise Ingalls Sturges’s list of avowed qualities. On her website, a photograph features the artist precarious on an apartment roof in the city, flanked by window frames painted all the colors of the rainbow. Sturges painted those window frames, climbed up and slathered them with lush color because she wanted to, and because, after all, who wants to live in a monochromatic building?
he same could be said about her life as a visual artist, which working on it. This is allowed simply because he is her first, most valued critic. is nearly as variegated. Photographer, painter, designer, event Figuring out which paintings and how many of them to fly across country planner, set stylist, internationally-trafficked blogger, Instagram was also part of the learning curve of the exhibition. Sturges wanted to appeal star, and movie producer for the critically-lauded documentary to different collectors for a more diverse ownership. Not every collector, she The Wolfpack, Sturges typifies the new generation of artists who explains, has a rainbow palette in the home. In the end, measurement, canvas, are so broadly, exuberantly creative it is hard to pin them to one and calculation came together to fill the Showboat walls perfectly, another brandable identity. She does what she feels inspired to do. And of the exhibition’s surprises. Says Sturges: “Artists are not known for their whether it’s painting or photography or film, it almost math skills.” Which probably means she has a talent for always starts with color. geometry along with everything else. “I’m completely obsessed with rainbows,” says Sturges, who grew up in Princeton, New Jersey and FOLLOWING THE ‘A’ who now lives in Brooklyn with her artist husband Tyler Brodie. “It’s sort of how I exist in the world as much as A chance photography class taken while Sturges was a possible, rainbows and sparkly things. I am just so excited student at Princeton Day School in the mid-1990s led to by color. her first calling. She describes herself as “not much of “And then of course there is the philosophical idea of a student,” and was awakening as an artist even as she rainbows, that you can’t get them without storms, which realized that the learned, lofty atmosphere of a university I think is a statement about life. You can go through town was not really for her. it focusing on the clouds and then the sun comes out “Picking up a camera and having ownership over and you get this beautiful refraction of light. That’s my my life in a visual way was thrilling,” she says. “I took number one goal with my paintings, getting the pieces photography as a major and I got an ‘A.’ So I thought, to help you look on the bright side. They tend to be very this is one thing I can get an ‘A’ in, so I might as well layered. There is darkness in there, but you don’t want to follow it.” lead with that. And it gets brightened up.” Follow it she did, straight to The College of Santa Fe, As for the collaborations that have come to define to which she was recruited by an administrator who told her artistic life lately, she says simply: “Well, along with Louise Ingalls Sturges under a rainbow, photograph her the Princeton sky, beautiful though it may be, “had rainbows, I like working with really nice people.” nothing on Santa Fe.” Inspired as much by the piercing Sturges—the daughter of Caren Sturges and Sheldon by Andrew De Francesco. light of New Mexico as by old photographs of the American southwest and Sturges and the step-daughter of his wife, Tatiana Popova—is fresh off of an those who peopled it, Sturges pursued her photography there until she grew exhibition at the Showboat Gallery in Los Angeles where she saw most of her tired of being “in the middle of nowhere.” color-drenched paintings walk out the door with collectors. This was a first Eventually, she landed in New York, putting down roots just before 9/11. Like for her, of sorts. In the past, she predominantly exhibited photography, with many a photographer in the city that day, Sturges grabbed her camera and shows in Manhattan, New Mexico, Maine, and several group exhibitions abroad, headed out into the chaos. “It felt like Armageddon,” says Sturges. “It felt like in Tokyo, London, and Australia. war photography. I understood why people do it. I didn’t feel like I had a choice Determining the worth of her paintings for the exhibition was a challenge, but to walk towards it.” she says, particularly since some are finished in a day and some can take up to Now that she has been through 9/11, Hurricane Sandy, and two city 10 years. Brodie, who apparently has a keener sense of completion than does blackouts, Sturges appreciates the way New York in general and Brooklyn Sturges, has occasionally taken a canvas directly off of the wall while she was
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Circle Study I, 2013.
Gun Shack Garden, Mixed-Media, 2016.
in particular seem to convert to a large village whenever there is a city-wide emergency. “The whole community gets really friendly. People come outside and get together and hand you dishes of mozzarella,” she says. “And then you realize that everyone here is from some little town, someplace in New Jersey or Missouri.” The apartment she shares with Brodie is located in Clinton Hill, a neighborhood in North-Central Brooklyn near the Pratt Institute. Her favorite coffee shop, Tilda All Day, on Fulton Street, is currently shuttered because of an owner’s dispute, but Sturges wanted to give it a shout-out just the same. She and Brodie like to eat at the Finch, a farm-to-table restaurant a few blocks from their apartment that won its first Michelin star last year. They can also be found frequenting The Metrograph, an arthouse theater on Ludlow Street in Manhattan that has opened with a restaurant and a bar onsite. “That way, after premieres and screenings, you don’t have to mission to some other location in order to talk about them.”
WHAT’S IN THE BACKPACK?
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Sturges’s involvement in the movie industry seems to have started more as an impulse of activism than of artistry. Crystal Moselle, an Instagram friend, was directing a documentary called The Wolfpack and sent Sturges a rough cut. Sturges was blown away by the story of the six Angulo brothers, whose father essentially detained them in their Lower East Side home through most of their adolescence. Sturges got onboard as executive producer. This turned out to be a prescient decision, as the film won the prestigious Grand Jury Prize for documentary at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was a critical success. “I ended up putting in some money, which is basically what being an executive producer is. I realized that the director was a woman, both producers were women, the editor was a woman, and then all the money was coming from guys,” says Sturges. “I thought, let’s get this feminist thing further along. So I ended up supporting it. And it was an amazing success.”
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(LEFT) Bye Boy, Mixed-Media, 2001. (TOP-RIGHT) Santa Fe Balloons, Polaroid Photograph, 2007. (MIDDLE) Casual Window Rainbow, Photograph, London, 2013.
Today, Sturges is involved in a new movie project called Uncle Silas, a short ﬁlm partly inspired by the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. When she was brought in as a consultant, Sturges used an almost literary pack of skills to determine what the main character’s home setting should look like. “It’s about a woman who has a baby, and her brother is a famous actor and comes to visit. But he has a drug problem, and she doesn’t want him around the baby. It’s that complicated feeling between having this perfect, untarnished human being around this successful, handsome person fraught with pain and struggle. “I took a lot of notes while talking to the director. What would the brother have in his backpack? Is he carrying a script or a celebrity magazine or an army jacket? Does he like hip hop or Leonard Cohen? What about the slouch of his pants? When you’re developing a character you want to think about all of their inﬂuences, and then in terms of the visuals, how that gets played out with the character.” The movie Uncle Silas is expected to launch this year.
When asked what lies ahead, Sturges, not surprisingly, had a colorful answer. “My loftiest ambition is to get into a museum before I die. Or after.” She hopes to do more “democratic” work; furniture design, for instance, and other domestic objects that touch the lives of those outside the art world. “I’m gonna just keep trying to do great stuff, and say yes to projects that mean something. And deﬁnitely, helping women is high on my list,” she says. “But in terms of the day-to-day, I just want to ﬁgure out how to communicate to a wide range of individuals.” Louise Ingalls Sturges’s work can be viewed on her website, Casualrainbow. com, or through her Instagram account at @besosyfotos.
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Free, weekly evening meditation sessions at Ramapo College of New Jersey in Mahwah. www.ramapo.edu
Palisades Indoor Winter Farmers Market at the Palisades Community Center. Serving Bergen and Rockland County for 9 years! www.palisadesfm.org
American Pride Laser Spectacular at the Morris Museum in Morristown. Celebrate Presidents’ Day and America’s unquenchable spirit of innovation, discovery, and exploration with an exciting musical and laser extravaganza that touches on several US historical highlights featuring contemporary pop/ rock and patriotic music. Recommended for ages 3 - 9. www.morrismuseum.org
Meeting, Mahwah Writers Collective at Mahwah Public Library. www. mahwahlibrary.org
NYC Wine Tasting Flight & Winery Tour Silent Auction at City Winery NYC. www.citywinery.com/newyork
County music star Luke Bryan performs at Madison Square Garden. www. thegarden.com
Columbia women’s basketball home game. Come support your local Columbia Women’s Basketball Team this season! Tickets can be purchased at the game, or online. www. gocolumbialions.com
NYC Autism Charter School Board Meeting. The NYC Autism Charter School Board Meetings are open to parents, staff and members of the general public. www. nycautismcharterschool.org
and ephemera. The diversity of specialties includes art, medicine, literature, photography, autographs, first editions, Americana, and much more. www.nyantiquarianbookfair.com
The New Jersey Choral Society presents “Fosse” at Immaculate Heart Academy PAC in Washington, NJ. www. immaculateheartnj.com
Transition to College Class hosted by Kean University in Union. www.kean.edu
Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark. In this brand-new, vaudevillian romp of a musical, based on Mo Willems’ beloved children’s books, Elephant Gerald and his best friend Piggie sing and dance their way through pachydermal peril and swiney suspense. Backed by nutty back-up singers The Squirrelles, our duo even gets the audience involved in the action. www. njpac.org
Wonders of the Arctic 2D and 3D film screening at the Lefrak Theatre at the American Museum of Natural History. www.amnh.org
Georgia O’Keeffe, Blue and Green Music, 1921, New York.
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Winter Talks: Georgia O’Keeffe’s New York Years at 6 River Terrace in New York. Join artist/educator Marla Lipkin and revisit these magical years of the young artist’s life in Gotham! www. bpcparks.org
New York Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory. Over 200 American and international dealers will exhibit at The ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair, bringing a vast selection of rare books, maps, manuscripts, illuminated manuscripts
Global Potential Gala Concert at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York. http://nyuskirball.org
Musical group Wilco performs at New York’s Beacon Theatre. www. beacontheatre.org
“Come Build Montclair in Legos” at the Montclair Art Museum. Work with architect Stephen W. Schwartz of
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Building Blocks Workshops to visualize Montclair as you’ve never seen it before. With over 60,000 LEGO™ building blocks at their disposal, families select a photograph of a Montclair building to turn into a LEGO™ model. These models are then placed on a 30 x 20 foot map of Montclair. Suitable for families with children ages 5 – 14. www. montclairartmuseum.org
Reducing the Stigma: Behavioral Health Resource Fair at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck. This event is presented in partnership with Links, Inc. of Bergen County, NJ. www.holyname.org
“Inventing Downtown: Artist-Run Galleries in New York City, 1952-1965” at the Grey Art Gallery at NYU. With more than 200 paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings, photographs, ephemera, and films, the show reveals a scene that was much more diverse than has previously been acknowledged, with women and artists of color playing major roles. greyartgallery.nyu.edu
Friday, April 14
Westwood Spring Community event featuring crafts, retail, wellness, farmers market, food trucks, and live music at the Westwood Community Center in Westwood, NJ. www.westwoodnj.gov
Singer-songwriter Ann Wilson of Heart performs at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown. www.mayoarts.org
Billy Joel performs at Madison Square Garden. www.thegarden.com
Sunday, April 30 Your First Mud Run at Parsippany High School is the ONLY mud run in the country designed so both parents and kids can run together! The 1.5-2 mile course includes 10-16 obstacles through very muddy terrain. http://phs.pthsd. k12.nj.us
“Food Business Bootcamp: From Concept to Farmers Market in 4 Months” at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City. www.ccc.edu
“Subway Art Tour: Downtown East Side” at the NYC Subway Museum. The tour stops at 10 different subway stations surveying the art at each one. You will travel from Union Square into Brooklyn, and end at the East Village. Step aboard for an eye-opening ride! www. nytransitmuseum.org
All Terrain String Festival: Bolcom 4 by 4 at Memorial Auditorium in Montclair. A jam-packed festival celebrating the depth and breadth of string quartet composition and performance, featuring four of the world’s most diverse and celebrated quartets: The Harlem Quartet, Arditti Quartet, Chiara String Quartet, Shanghai Quartet. www. montclair.edu
The 8th Annual Lupus Handbag Luncheon and Silent Auction at The Plaza in New York. The luncheon will feature a fantastic silent (but lively!) auction of over 100 handbags, all donated by premiere boutiques and designers. Additionally, attendees will be able to bid on vintage and gently used handbags donated by celebrities. www.lupus.org
Mountain Lakes Education Foundation Gala at the Rockaway River Country Club in Denville, NJ. The acclaimed party band “Flyin’ Blind” will provide the entertainment while guests enjoy the open bar, delicious appetizers and carving stations. In addition, there will be silent and live auctions, including trips to Europe, once-in-alifetime events in NYC, specialty events around town and luxury goods. http:// mlschools.org
March 30 Roy Lichtenstein’s Times Square Mural, 2002.
5th Annual Walk for Kids Growth at Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Help increase awareness of childhood growth disorders, and the importance of early diagnosis and treatment! The fun-filled day will include a 3-mile fun walk, free food, giveaways, display booths, and live performances by some of NY’s hottest performers. All ages and leashed pets are welcome! www. WalkforKidsGrowth.org
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photo courtesy of lionsgate films
Director Damien Chazelle on the set of LA LA LAND. Photo by Dale Robinette.
Making It Look Easy Damien Chazelle Talks About Golden Globe Winner “La La Land” interview by kam williams
ilmmaker Damien Chazelle met recently with film reviewer Kam Williams to talk about his latest movie, La La Land, which swept the Golden Globes, winning a record seven awards, and has received 14 Oscar nominations. A native of Princeton, New Jersey, Chazelle wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning Whiplash which landed five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Chazelle. The movie won a trio of Oscars in the Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) categories. In 2013, his short film of the same name won the Short Film Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Previously, Chazelle wrote Grand Piano, starring Elijah Wood and John Cusack, and co-wrote the horror sequel 10 Cloverfield Lane, starring John Goodman. His screenplays for Whiplash and The Claim both appeared on the “Blacklist,” the annual survey of the most liked motion picture screenplays not yet produced. Chazelle shot his first feature film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, while still an undergraduate at Harvard University. The critically-acclaimed debut was named the Best First Feature of 2010 by L.A. Weekly and was described as “easily the best first film in eons” by Time Out New York.
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the freedom as a filmmaker to make exactly the movie I wanted to make, with zero compromises. KW: I know you used a wide-angled, CinemaScope lens, a technology that hasn’t been used by anybody in decades. DC: It’s not exactly the old CinemaScope technology. we kind of did our own version of it. We shot the entire movie in anamorphic 35 mm. And Lina Sandgren, our DP [Director of Photography], had some lenses custom built to allow us to go a little wider than 2.40 [aspect ratio]. We went to 2.55 which is closer to the classic CinemaScope aspect ratio of the 50s that doesn’t exist anymore. We liked the idea of giving the picture that extra bit of width because Los Angeles is really a wide-screen city, a panoramic kind of city. So, we settled on a combination of using old technologies like celluloid and that aspect ratio in combination with new technologies like new lenses that were specially built for this and a steady cam. Obviously, almost all of the movie was shot using a steady cam. There was some crane work and some dolly work, as well. But the steady cam gives you a freedom of motion that you couldn’t have in those classic MGM musicals. So, it was fun to try to combine old and new in terms of how we shot it. KW: One thing I loved about the singing was how I found myself pulling for Emma [Stone] and Ryan [Gosling], as if I were watching community theater or a high school production. I knew they weren’t seasoned pros used to belting out show tunes. Yet, they appeared to be naturals, performing effortlessly within their capabilities. DC: You’re speaking to one of the things I loved about a lot of the older musicals. You didn’t see the sweat. You didn’t feel the work. Some of those movies were the hardest to make, yet the entire aim with a musical, in my mind, is to make it look easy. Ryan and Emma have this amazing ability to make everything seem effortless and natural. We always talked about how the singing, acting, dancing, and piano playing could never be just about technique. They had to be about character and emotion. So, Ryan and Emma approached everything like actors, where everything was rooted in a sense of character, a sense of vulnerability, and a sense of humanity, in order to ground it all. Even though they were able to make it look effortless, I agree that there’s this tremendous hat trick that they were able to pull off. KW: I saw La La Land as an homage to classic Hollywood musicals, until a colleague mentioned that you were also influenced by a number of French films. DC: Yes, mainly the French New Wave, especially Jacques Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Also Lola, and The Young Girls of Rochefort. Movies like that. Justin, my composer, was listening to a lot of those French New Wave scores,
photo courtesy of lionsgate films
Kam Williams: Back when you released your first film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, I told anybody who’d listen, “Appreciate Damien now and avoid the rush!” Damien Chazelle: I remember those lines so well. I think yours was the first Rotten Tomatoes review of it. La La Land is sort of like Guy and Madeline, but with a budget. KW: Well, I loved it! It’s #1 on my Top 100 List for 2016. And I started my review saying, “If you only see one movie this year, you need to get out more. That being said, La La Land is the picture to catch.” DC: Thanks! I’m thrilled you liked it. KW: I’ve seen it four times already. It’s a movie you absolutely have to see on the big screen. DC: Yeah, part of my hope was to make a movie meant for the movie theaters, in the old-fashioned sense of a film designed for a group of people to watch on the big screen. I think that old school idea was so beautiful, kind of like those roadshow musicals from the 50s and 60s. KW: The first time I saw it was with fellow critics, and everybody applauded when the closing credits started to roll. That was the first time in ages that there was a standing ovation at a film critics’ screening I attended. We’re a jaded lot who are pretty hard to impress. DC: That’s awesome! KW: I understand that this movie took six years to make, partly because other studios were willing to greenlight the project on the condition that you agreed to substantial revisions, like changing the ending, and the music from jazz to rock. DC: One of the reasons we actually ended up making La La Land with Lionsgate was that it was one of the few places that was willing to let us make the movie the way we wanted to make it. Two of the key things that other studios had issues with were the ending and the music. They wanted us to farm out the songs to a bunch of top pop songwriters or music stars, since the score was almost all going to be composed by Justin [Hurwitz], my former college roommate whom no one ever knew of before this. And we wanted the soundscape to have a sort of timeless style by being played on acoustic instruments with lush, sweeping strings and a jazz rhythm section. Those were two things we really had to fight for a lot, as well as for the resources we needed to make the movie the way we wanted to make it. KW: I’m glad you stuck to your guns. DC: Once we were set up at Lionsgate, it became a great process, because they were really supportive. I was lucky, as you can imagine, because I was given
Director Damien Chazelle and Emma Stone on the set of LA LA LAND. Photo by Dale Robinette.
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photo courtesy of lionsgate films Director Damien Chazelle (left) and Ryan Gosling (right) on the set of LA LA LAND. Photo by Dale Robinette.
a lot of Michel Legrand, and a lot of French music from the 50s and 60s. There’s a French quality about them that’s very romantic and playful while also being very grounded, a little understated, very real, and very melancholy, as well. They sort of combine emotions. They live somewhere between happy and sad. I feel that’s where a lot of French New Wave lives. And I just love that emotional fulcrum. KW: How many of those French films are musicals? DC: Well, full-fledged musicals, just those Jacques Demy movies. And I guess [Jean-Luc] Godard did a quasi musical with A Woman Is a Woman. What’s fun about them is that they are sort of the French filmmakers’ answer to the American Hollywood musicals that they loved. So, I liked the idea of doing an American answer to the French answer to the American musicals, if that makes sense. KW: Absolutely! Who are a few of your favorite directors? DC: Certainly, some of the French New Wave filmmakers like Godard and Demy. Chaplin is someone who is constantly inspiring me. He’s actually someone Emma and I bonded over, initially. We both adore City Lights, and we were talking about that movie when we first met. And with this movie, Vincente Minnelli, one of my favorites of all time, was a big influence as well in terms of his use of color and his sense of emotion. KW: When I interviewed John Legend, I was surprised to learn that he had come aboard as a producer before you decided to add him to the cast of La La Land. DC: Yeah, what happened was I first met John’s producing partner, Mike Jackson, on the Whiplash circuit. I met John through Mike. As soon as Ryan and Emma were cast, I want to fill the Keith role, and I loved the idea of casting John Legend in it. I knew I wanted a musician for it. I thought, “Okay, I know John’s a producer now, so maybe there’s a play to be made here.” So, they were the first people I sent a script to for that role. He ended up coming aboard in several capacities. First, as an actor, doing his first, big piece of onscreen acting, which was real exciting. Second, as a songwriter. He co-wrote the song that his character sings. And third, coming aboard with Mike as an executive producer of the movie.
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KW: How did you manage to make a movie that’s so much more than the sum of its parts. La La Land is, on the one hand, often larger than life, such as how the panoramic opening dance number is splashed across the screen. And yet, the picture is also intimate and accessible in a way that affords the viewer a very personal experience. How did you achieve that? Was that part of the plan? DC: My hope was that it would be visually ravishing, but still very human, as you’ve suggested. That was kind of the through line [connecting theme] with everything in prep. Lina Sandgren was just incredible. He, Mandy Moore our choreographer, David Wasco our production designer, and costume designer Mary Zophres all came on board way, way early on to sort of pre-prep the movie. Then, we had a very intensive three to four month, on-site prep with everyone almost housed together in these production offices in the Valley. We were all trying to speak the same language. You have to sort of pre-design stuff really precisely and really minutely. But you hope that, once you get on set, you can still be spontaneous and have fun with it. KW: Are you thinking about your next project yet? DC: Yes, for a couple years, I’ve been developing this film about Neil Armstrong and the moon landing with Josh Singer, who wrote Spotlight. I hope to be shooting it next year with Ryan playing Neil. It’s on the horizon right now. KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet? DC: Right now, not that much. But my girlfriend and I got a dog recently. We had to get him registered with L.A. County. That’s another L.A. idiosyncrasy. So, I have an ID card for my dog which has his face on it and his name. It’s pretty funny. KW: Well, congratulations again, Damien. I can’t say I’m surprised at your success, since I recognized your phenomenal talent and predicted it way back when. But I am honored to know you and to have this opportunity to chat with you about La La Land. DC: Thank you for all the support back in the day.
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Sarah Emily Gilbert
n the east side of the Watchung Mountains sits Montclair, New Jersey, an unhurried, charming town in Essex County that’s lined with thousand-year-old trees and architecturally significant homes. It boasts six historic districts and 43 locations on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Charles Shultz House, known as the Evergreens. A three-story Victorian mansion built by a respected New York architect in 1896, the home provides unobstructed views of the city skyline, marking the close connection between the suburb and New York City. Many Montclair residents commute to and from Penn Station for work, and with them come metropolitan influences. The small town is home to 39,000 people, seven train stations, two cinemas, a theatre, an art museum, and an endless array of cultural experiences. The pulse of Montclair is in its art scene. This spring brings the Montclair Film Festival at the Wellmont Theatre and the Matisse and American Art exhibit at the Montclair Art Museum. Featuring original works by the French Master and American artists such as Warhol and Lichtenstein, the exhibit exemplifies the Museum’s 12,000-plus fine American and Native American works. A wealth of art is also on display at Gallery 51, Gallery Loupe, 73 See Gallery & Design Studio, and Pinot’s Palette paint and sip classes. Art-loving Yankee fans can head to the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center, which is located on the campus of Montclair State University, the second largest university in New Jersey. For the younger scholars, there’s Music Together Montclair, a music and movement program for newborn to five-year-olds, or Jazz House Kids, a community arts group that teaches children through jazz. Local arts continue to be promoted by Studio Montclair, a professional visual arts organization that holds exhibits and events. Perhaps better than any work of art is the town’s natural beauty. Montclair’s position along the First Watchung Mountain makes it a major pathway for migratory birds. Atop the Montclair Hawk Lookout—the second oldest hawk watch in the country—there is a 500-foot aerial view of the lower Hudson River Valley, and sometimes, a Broad-winged Hawk. As the weather warms, the focus shifts to the thousands of tulips planted for May in Montclair, a month-long celebration of the town through community concerts, garden tours, markets, and more. The flowers continue at Presby Memorial Iris Gardens and the Howard Van Vleck Arboretum—a popular spot for engagement photos. Located on the edge of Montclair’s shopping and dining districts, Anderson and Edgemont parks are bordered with extraordinary flowering trees, along with eclectic eateries and boutiques. Dapper gentlemen and trendy tots venture to Upper Montclair Plaza for The Haberdashery at Crookshorns and the Apple Village children’s store. Fashionforward women scour the racks of Dot Reeder, Oasis, or Barbara Eclectic; while outdoorsy folk go to Heratji for skis, snow goggles, and sweaters. Bookworms snuggle into Montclair Book Center to browse their goldmine of vinyl, and collectors seek 19th and 20th century treasures at the Montclair Antique Center. There have been sightings of Steven Colbert at the home décor store, Howell, which is reason enough to shop their whimsical home accessories and gifts. For a true taste of Montclair, locals do brunch at Raymond’s Diner and get homemade treats at The Little Daisy Bake Shop. Adventurous eaters enjoy Ethiopian cuisine at Mesob Restaurant or sip Yogic Chai at neighboring Trend Coffee & Tea House. The modern American restaurant and gastro-pub, Pig & Prince, is located in the historic Lackawanna train station, while the upscale European pub, De Novo, is at the Upper Montclair train station. Several shops and restaurants are housed in these transportation hubs, revealing the town’s commuter mentality. The NJ Transit Montclair-Boonton Rail Line has local stops through town and will also take you into Newark Penn Station, Hoboken, and New York Penn Station in less than 40 minutes. Just outside Montclair’s border is Route 3, which goes directly past the Meadowlands (a mere 25 minute drive from town), into the Lincoln Tunnel, and then NYC. The nearby Garden State Parkway provides access to Northern/Southern NJ, the NJ Turnpike, and I-80. There aren’t many places where you can hike a mountain, attend a Giants game, and see a Matisse painting all in one day. Montclair, New Jersey offers all of this and more.
images courtesy of wikipedia; montclair art museum; yogi berra museum; presby memorial iris gardens
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