Category Archives: Memoir

Happy birthday, boss!

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Happy birthday to Richard K. Rein, who turned the Big Seven Oh yesterday and ruminated on the milestone in his column today, here. 

Seventy’s good, from my point of view. Seven years ago I ruminated on the same number,  here.  The wisdom that still works today is from Frederick Buechner: “The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Many happy returns, Rich, of the non-retail kind.

 

Listening to the Liturgical Year

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Hyosang Park directs the combined choirs and a chamber ensemble at PrincetonUMC

In a NYT article, Choral Music is Slow Food for the Soul, composer Nico Muhly has wise observations about how “the choral tradition operated in a series of interlocking cycles based on the liturgical year, with the music and the musicians playing a role in a larger drama.” Rather than expecting applause, church choir singing is  “meant for worship…to be heard in a state of quiet meditation.. to guide the mind out of the building into unseen heights and depths.”

Muhly’s essay is meant to be a paean to Andrew Gant’s book O Sing Unto the Lord: A History of English Church MusicFor me, it’s an affirmation of how — week after week, sitting in a church pew, listening to the Princeton United Methodist Church’s Chancel Choir — opens up my spiritual horizons. I am also inspired by the special music offered during Holy Week.  This year Hyosang Park directs Anton Bruckner’s Requiem on Good Friday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m.,

As Muhly points out, live concerts of liturgical music follow the calendar.  He finds himself “looking forward to a work’s annual visits as I would the arrival of a long-distant friend.”

Other notable choral concerts of the season — the Brahms Requiem by the Voices chorale on April 8, the Princeton Theological Seminary Choir on April 22, the Bulgarian State Women’s Choir on April 17.

Choristers — and attentive listeners — will agree with Muhly, that the liturgical tradition of choral music brings  “sharp pangs of nostalgia, followed by a sense of gratitude that this tradition has been such an important part of my musical world.”

FYI: At Princeton United Methodist Church, the Chancel Choir, directed by Hyosang Park, sings at the 11 a.m. worship service. Tom Shelton directs the Youth Choir (at 9:30 a.m. on first Sundays) and the Children’s Choir (at 9:30 a.m. on second Sundays). The Handbell Choir, directed by Park, plays at both services on third Sundays, and a contemporary ensemble plays at both times on fourth Sundays. Everyone’s welcome to — just listen. 

Why do the salamanders cross the road?

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I can’t say that I like salamanders but I have an affection for them. My summer job at age 13 was feeding strips of beef liver to their cousins, Mexican axolotls, in the Figge lab.

This is the season when the salamanders cross the Beekman Road in East Brunswick.  (No chicken jokes, please) And they need protection. Locals have organized to keep them being run over in the middle of the night, as described in this Packet story by Vashti Harris.

I went once, armed with a flashlight, and I did see one spotted salamander cross the road. It was exciting. What I mostly remember is the choral din of the spring peepers.

When to go? When the salamanders decide it’s time, on a warm night.spotted Here’s how to plan your trip.  Take the family but give each child a flashlight so they DON’T step on one.

Here’s what they look like — nothing like their Mexican cousins, which reach adulthood without undergoing metamorphosis. They never develop lungs, never walk on land — they keep their gills.

Axolotl photo from Wikipedia. Spotted Salamander photo from Friends of the East Burnswick Environmental Commission.

 

 

Jay Regan: the story behind the story

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Jay Regan

A few nuggets from Richard K. Rein’s fascinating story on Jay Regan, in the new issue of the Princeton Echo:

“A young man on Wall Street became interested in the work of a mathematician who had developed  a system for beating blackjack and was using that system to pick stocks that would outperform the market average. . . . Princeton Newport Partners became the first quantitative hedge fund.”

“Google his name (James S. ‘Jay’ Regan) and the first two words that might come up are ‘racketeering charges.’

At the office on the corner of Witherspoon and Spring Street, “armed marshalls presented a search warrant to the startled receptionist. Regan first thought it was some college buddies playing a joke.”

“Even in the darkest days Regan maintained his sense of humor, even if it had a certain gallows cast to it.”

“the sentence was later overturned…. prosecutorial over-reach. The prosecutor, incidentally, was Rudolph Giuliani, even then political ambitious.”

“For all that he and his family went through, Regan remains a bright and cheerful soul, and as enthusiastic about his work as he must have been when he first got involved on Wall Street.”

My personal note to parents of liberal arts majors: Regan was a philosophy major.  

The Echo comes to the mailboxes of Princeton residents once a month and is available in newsboxes throughout town. On the cover: a story on card shark/mathematician Bradley Snider.

Photo of Jay Regan by Suzette Lucas. 

 

 

 

Richard K. Rein: Princeton newspapers

drive-papers-2-534x462Here’s Rein’s indepth account, admittedly from his point of view, of the history of newspapers in Princeton, including his own. It’s published in his monthly paper for Princeton, the Echo, and on the website of Mercerspace. Confused? Read the post.

I tagged it “Memoir” because I lived through it too.

My response to the refugee order

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This T shirt dates from 2014, when the Princeton YWCA held a town-wide outdoor demonstration for Stand Against Racism Day.

How many refugees have been arrested for plotting terrorism? According to this source, THREE.

“Two were not planning an attack on the United States and the plans of the third were barely credible.”

That’s what you reply when you hear someone say “POTUS is trying to protect us.”

What Princeton connection can justify a political rant on this blog?  Today, in protest, I am wearing my T shirt purchased in 2014 for the Princeton YWCA’s Stand Against Racism demonstration. The Princeton YWCA STARTED this national trend. They hosted successful, well-supported demonstrations in 2013, and 2012, 2011 and 2010.

In recent years the YWCA has sometimes refocused its Stand Against Racism commitments, favoring breakfasts for those-in-the-know with discussions facilitated by members of Not in Our Town Princeton.  Last year it co-sponsored a demonstration.

Yes,  breakfast meetings may help individuals delve more deeply into their own feelings and this can help conquer racism. But I suggest that this is the year for the Princeton YWCA to sponsor a more visible demonstration. Here are the first words on its website:

At the YWCA Princeton, we know we must remain bold and iconic in our mission! We continue to eliminate racism…

There will be people who voted for Trump who belong to the Princeton YWCA,  but surely “standing against racism” can be a bipartisan effort.

 

 

Not drinking the CrossFit Kool-Aid

In her inimitable wry style, Sara Hastings ‘reveals all’  about CrossFit, the rambunctious upstart of the Princeton fitness scene, in the January edition of Princeton Echo. 

I concur with the founder of Cross Fit who characterized the average gym as “predicated on a low to minimum wage, skill-less staff supervising hapless members. “ He concluded that “clients enjoyed a better workout environment, and he made more money, by training them in groups small enough that each athlete could get plenty of individual attention — rather than one-on-one. The shared suffering and shared satisfaction of completing a workout together transcends individual levels of fitness and forms the basis of the so-called CrossFit community.”

But Hastings failed to convince me that I — old enough to be her grandmother, with arthritic knees, a gimpy shoulder, and a back-that-sometimes talks-to-me — should join the CrossFit cult.

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Anthony Rabara trains a client in the Joseph Pilates method. (I am not that client.)

I’ll stick to  Pilates at the Anthony Rabara studio where  I’ve been lucky enough to take lessons for more than two decades. Despite arthritis I’m sure not to get injured. When I walk into the studio I can say “my knee is tender today” or “my shoulder is out today” and the trainers adapt the equipment and the workout. Though I athletes and dancers train here, some clients are even more decrepit than I.

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Anthony Rabara with Moshe Budmor

Ninety-two-year-old Moshe Budmor, for instance, worked out at the studio until just before he died.

I also value my “take it slow and easy” anti-aging yoga class taught by the amazing  Germaine Tartacoff . at Forrestal Village Fitness.  (Tartacoff has her own studio and also teaches a “rank beginner” class at Princeton Adult School. Anyone leary of joining a class with folks who already know the difference between Downward Dog and Tree — this is the class for you.)

In her enticement, Hastings touts the group experience. Plenty of people who have observed Crossfitters with a mix of what’s-the-point and never-in-a-million-years have tried it out and realized that not only does it work, it’s also pretty fun.

But at my age I cast a jaundiced eye at any training that has even a whiff of competitiveness. If I try to keep up I’m likely to injure myself. But — never say never. Maybe when I turn 80.

PS: Hastings suggests examples of CrossFitters who are more my speed — here and here

Morning star, o cheering sight

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a Moravian star

Three Moravian hymns touch my heart. Many know we used to belong to Redeemer Moravian Church in Philadelphia. They are:

Jesus Makes My Heart Rejoice — a simple  quatrain that I my granddaughter, Jillian Fox, sing at our 50th anniversary service.

Hosanna! — a responsive hymn for Palm Sunday which would be challenging for most congregations except that Moravians are born knowing how to sing four part harmony.

Morning Star — traditionally sung at the Christmas Eve love feast by one child, responsively with the congregation.

Morning star, o cheering sight, ere thou camst how dark earth’s light. Jesus mine, in me shine, fill my heart with light divine…

It was a memorable Christmas Eve when our nine year old daughter was the soloist as this small church celebrated a Love Feast. After this hymn sung in darkness, ushers bring in trays of lighted beeswacandlelitx candles as the congregation sings Break Forth o Beauteous Heavenly Light.

So you can imagine my delight when I learned that the Chancel Choir at my church (Princeton United Methodist) will sing Morning Star n an arrangement by Helen Kemp at a Christmas concert on Sunday, December 18 at 5 p.m.. They previewed it in morning worship the week before.

Jesus mine, in me shine, fill my heart with light divine…

Capital Networking Group: November 8

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High Level Networking: Tommy Hilfiger (in pinstripes) greets Princeton Regional Chamber CEO and board chairman Richard Coyne (Alice Barfield looking on) at the Hyatt ‘s VIP reception downstairs before he was interviewed upstairs by Richard K. Rein for 400 eager fans about his book “American Dreamer.”

Election morning — how did I do this? – I am scheduled to speak at 7 a.m. at the Capital Networking Group at my own church, Princeton United Methodist, at Nassau & Vandeventer.

Upstairs,  the church is a polling place for District 10. Downstairs, in Fellowship Hall, I guarantee no politics. Only stories. 

For the entrepreneurs in this group, which meets every Tuesday morning for breakfast (good bagels!)

I’ll talk about how to promote your business or nonprofit, based on my experience as senior editor for U.S. 1 Newspaper and, after retirement, doing pro bono public relations for Princeton United Methodist Church, Not in Our Town Princeton,  the United Front Against Riverblindness, and the New Jersey State Button Society. For info, email: CJerry@jerrylaw.com but if you just show up that’s ok too. Check the website.

The items below popped up in my news feed this week and may find their way into the stories I’ll tell.

The first seven words matter. In person, you may make your first impression in a millisecond, the blink of an eye, according to Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov (Association for Psychological Science) July, 2006.

“If you can’t be funny, be interesting.” Harold Ross, founder of The New Yorker magazine, from The Writer’s Almanac.

“If it’s familiar but has a certain something that sets it apart, you’ve got a hit,’ Tommy Hilfiger, American Dreamer, p.131

“Millennials expect transparency, sophisticated storytelling, and technical savvy.” Nicholas Fandas, “Beyond Money,” New York Times, 11-3-16

“The pay phone measured time in quarters, the Internet in taps and clicks.” In There’s Nobody Here by That Name, by Steve Bryant via Medium Daily Digest.

SO, you might ask, why did I use my photo of Tommy Hilfiger for this post? 

BECAUSE I COULD! Any good PR person knows never to miss a chance to tag along on celebrity coat tails, however slim the connection.

Of course — all the media attention to a certain celebrity is what got us to this point in the election cycle.

But, I promised, no politics.

Science scribe speaks 10-10-16

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Mary Roach and Robert Krulwich. Photo by Stephanie Black 

New York  Times science writer Mary Roach talks  talked with Radio Lab’s Robert Krulwich tonight at Princeton University’s Friend Center 101 at 7 p.m.

Because I grew up with the smell of formaldehyde, I’ve long admired her for her best seller “Stiff,”  which dissects the truth about human cadavers. She’s on tour now for Grunt: the curious science of humans at war. 

Bon mots captured on my Twitter feed:

She positions herself as the ‘bottom feeder’ of science writers.

“Since I don’t have a science background I write (simply) for a roomful of me.”

To get her material, she said she does ‘random groping’ at start of her research and yes the word was deliberate.

“I don’t look for anything specific but I know when I find it’

Use vulgar words sparingly for best effect when you do use them, as in ‘A maggot breathes through it’s  – ss’