Tag Archives: New York Times

Loss, danced

louisdanceMurray Louis — one of my favorite choreographers — died yesterday, February 1, age 89. Jack Anderson, long time dance critic for the New York Times, wrote the obituary, with this poignant description of a dance will resonate with many who have lost life companions — or who dread losing them.  (Stephen Ministers, take note…) To quote: 

One of Mr. Louis’s most memorable and moving works was created in 1994 as a memorial to Mr. Nikolais, his longtime collaborator and companion,who had died the previous year at 82. Mr. Louis titled it “Alone.”

In the piece, Mr. Louis never moved far from one spot, making the empty stage around him seem like a vast void. He kept turning from side to side, as if expecting someone to enter, but no one was ever there. Nor was there anyone to touch when he spread his arms wide.

From time to time, as he danced to recorded music by Astor Piazzolla, he clenched his fists, then bent over and drummed them quietly on the floor. Yet he always preserved his decorum and never exploded into rage or grief. Ending the solo, he slumped in dejection.

Nassau: follow Denison’s tracks

In a New York Times column on why diversity isn’t working in colleges, Frank Bruni points out that even when “diverse” candidates (read black, Latino, economically challenged students) they tend to self segregate. Colleges aren’t doing much about helping students feel comfortable with people different from themselves. Here’s an idea from Denison University:

At Denison University, near Columbus, Ohio, there are special funds available to campus groups that stage events with other, dissimilar groups. Adam Weinberg, the college’s president, told me that he’d attended a Seder at which Jewish students played host to international students from China.

And he said that the school was examining everything from the layout of campus walkways to the architecture of common areas to try to ensure that students’ paths crossed more frequently than they diverged.

“We have a group of students and faculty meeting to think about our quad and how can we make some small changes that would bring back a public square where students might congregate,” he told me.

This could work ‘at home,’ at Princeton University, in more than one way.

An aside: William Bowen, former P.U. president, went to Denison.

For my Canadian friends: h…e..r..e…..s….. Justin!

Justin Trudeau with his wife Sophie Grégoire, and children Hadrien (left), Xavier (right) and Ella-Grace (front). Photograph: Christinne Muschi/Reuters

The stunning news that Justin Trudeau is Canada’s new prime minister — what an exciting news cycle this will be, a combo of JFK (the young liberal legacy) and Obama (the unexpected outsider). Today’s New York Times front page story here 

Here’s a pre-election glimpse of an amazing life story

Largely out of public view, Mr. Trudeau studied English and French literature at McGill University and ended up in British Columbia, his mother’s home province, where he worked briefly as a snowboard instructor and nightclub bouncer. Given his tall, very slim build, it was an unlikely calling, but he said he “didn’t feel physically threatened because I don’t have a fear gene, I guess.” Eventually, following an aunt’s urging, he completed a teaching degree (my bold:: hurrah for supportive aunts) and taught French and math at two high schools in Vancouver.

The rest of the New York Times article here.

Among Trudeau’s campaign promises, to legalize marijuana.

I know I know, this post doesn’t qualify as Princeton-centric (a supposed requirement for this blog) but it buoys all liberal spirits, surely those of my neighbor expats, Steve and Kate.

Rita Gunther McGrath: Jet lag results from travel privilege


Reporters often quote Rita Gunther McGrath on business topics, but her picture is in the New York Times today, in a front business page article, on the topic of jet lag.

Joan Raymond reports: “Jet lag has always been an issue for me,” says Ms. McGrath, who has been a business traveler for more than two decades and has dealt with itineraries that take her from New York to New Zealand to Helsinki to Hong Kong all within a matter of days. Raymond describes some of the supposed remedies.

The Princeton Regional Chamber hosted McGrath twice, most recently in 2010 on the topic of safe company growth, headlined in U.S. 1 Newspaper as “Avoiding Fabulous Flops and Epic Embarrassments.”

Shown above in Bryan Anselm’s photo, unpacking from a trip in her Princeton Junction home, McGrath has the last word in the NYT story:

“What we all need to remember is that we are incredibly privileged to be able to cross time zones so rapidly,” she said. “Plus, when I get home from a business trip and say something stupid, I just blame the jet lag. That’s good for about three days.”

Gritty Details: the Gala Scene

For all of us who might be planning fund-raising events, this article in the 4-18-15 New York Times has insights.

“The events that work best are the ones that offer people an insider’s view of the organization or the people it serves.”

Not as effective, “those focused too much on honoring people within the organization…misses an opportunity to increase the number of people who know about the cause.”

In other words, buy a table and fill it with folks who might be donors.

Towers, teapots — and boathouses

Michael Graves in his studio DSC_0043 ret, 13 inches wide, credit Jon Naar, 2011 (1)

You probably read the New York Times  “designer of towers and teapots” obituary on Michael Graves, who died yesterday (3-12-15) at 80.

You probably did not see this excellent video of Grounds for Sculpture’s Tom Moran reminiscing about Graves, taken yesterday by Times of Trenton’s Michael Mancuso. Grounds for Sculpture has a 50-year Graves retrospective running through April 5.  Everybody is talking about their Michael Graves memory.

Early in my tenure at U.S. 1, Rich Rein assigned me to write a cover story on Graves. In the early days, U.S. 1 was a monthly, then biweekly, and cover stories ran at least 5,000 words.

The only way Graves could fit me into his schedule was for me to accompany him on a 6 a.m. Amtrak train to Washington, D.C., so Rein agreed to buy my business class ticket.

Bleary eyed, notebook equipped, I met the courtly Graves on the Princeton Junction platform. Two of the things he said stay with me today. He was telling about his upbringing. “I guess your mom was proud of your drawings and put them on the refrigerator?” I asked. His answer was . . . pause, “No.”

I thought that was a poignant comment and made a mental note to visibly appreciate my own children’s talents more.  At that point in his career, though the Humana building was up, and the Disney hotels were in the works,  no significant buildings carried the Graves signature in Princeton. Just a couple of house designs. It took a long time before a major Graves postmodern design, for the Arts Council of Princeton, would make it to the streets of his home town.

In any case, it was a heady moment for me. Until I joined the staff of U.S. 1 in 1987,  I had been a dance writer. I had interviewed famous dancers, but never an architect, let alone a famous architect.

Then, as  the train pulled into Philadelphia, Graves called my attention to the boathouses along the Schuylkill River. “Each is a different style, each a gem,” said Graves, of the 19th-century designs, noting that he assigned boathouse design to his Princeton classes.

Baltimore is my home town. I  got off in Baltimore and taxied to see my mother.  I made that train trip monthly for more than  a decade. Remembering that morning, I always craned my neck to catch a fleeting glimpse of the Schuylkill boathouses.

Photo by Jon Naar, U.S. 1, January 26, 2011.
That story “Called the Architect for the ’90s, but his work is invisible here,” was published on November 29, 1989, soon after U.S. 1 Newspaper had gone from a monthly to a biweekly. The paper has published many stories on Graves since that time, searchable in the archives.






Doing Their Part in Coach Class

A renowned but humble malaria fighter is today’s lead story in the science section of the New York Times.  Unlike many of his NGO peers, Rear Adm. R. Timothy Ziemer flies coach  instead of business and takes meetings with village chiefs as well as with the high-muckety-muck do-gooders.

2014 elsie and danielHis story echoes that of a friend from my church, Daniel Shungu,  founder of the United Front Against Riverblindness.    He dedicated his later years to fight riverblindness and works in a self-effacing but efficient fashion. He left yesterday (in coach, sloughing off concerns for his safety re the Ebola epidemic) for a meeting in Geneva and then for village visits in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He’ll be back in time for Karrin Allyson’s  November 9  “Chansons pour le Congo,” jazz concert fundraiser for UFAR and Women, Cradle of Abundance. (The latter charity is shepherded in this country by Prof. Elsie McKee, shown here with Shungu.)

Also yesterday I heard Don Stryker, facilities director at Princeton Friends School, share news of his daughter, Ella Watson-Stryker. She is in Liberia, on her third trip to West Africa to help with the Ebola epidemic and writes in the Guardian about why she keeps coming back.

 I came back for my colleagues who are tired, heartbroken and angry and need someone to take their place when they are too exhausted to continue. I came back because of the children dying alone in boxes, and for the elders who, having survived war, now watch their communities being consumed by a virus that has no cure. I came back for the patients who survive. And most of all I came back for our Guinean, Sierra Leonean, and Liberian staff who are fighting the long fight with a level of courage and compassion that exceeds anything I have ever seen. If they can keep going for months on end, then I can come back to help them.

Meanwhile a Liberian native, Judy Stryker (no relation), spoke to the United Methodist Women at Princeton United Methodist Church about the charity WOMASSI, and the women are rallying to help her collect health care supplies (rubber gloves, sanitizer, etc) that she personally mails to Liberia.

We each have a part, especially those who fly in coach class.


The Pinking of Princeton: Salary Gap?

Maria Klawe was named dean of engineering at Princeton University — soon after Princeton had its first female president.  Unafraid to be ‘different‘ (she doodled and knitted at faculty meetings), she left after three years to be president at Harvey Mudd and to raise a feminist ruckus when appropriate.

Now, as reported in the New York Times today, she contends that because she (typical woman?) did not negotiate her salary, she was paid $50k less than she should have been. Wow.

The article “Microsoft Chief Sets of a Furor on Women’s Pay” is on the controversial statement by Satya Nadella that women “who do not ask for more money … would be rewarded in the long run when their god work was recognized.” His mea culpa refers to some other HR axioms that you may or may not agree with.

Meanwhile, if you want to see what this woman looks like, just go to the Friend Center, to the big room with the portraits of the deans, painted in oils by distinguished artists. All except one. Klawe’s is a watercolor, and it is a self portrait. Below.

klawe DSCF1695


“Let every man in mankind’s frailty
Consider his last day; and let none
Presume on his good fortune until he find
Life, at his death, a memory without pain.”

Those are the last lines of Oedipus Rex, quoted by Anna North in a NYT online oped column about people who can’t experience joy without worrying about future pain.  And maybe worry is not such a bad thing.

Perhaps both optimism and pessimism are OK, according to  today’s Hebrew Bible verse, chosen at random and printed in the Moravian Daily Text

The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it? I the Lord test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways. Jeremiah 17:9-10

It is paired by a Moravian author with this New Testament verse. 

 Whenever our hearts condemn us; God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. 1 John3:20

Therapists generally try to “cure” those with a fear of happiness, citing Norman Vincent Peale and his ilk. But we pessimists (I am notoriously one, married to an unquenchable optimist) feel validated by the new theories of defensive pessimism. After all, if WE don’t worry, who WILL save the world/ our family/ our future? Who will accomplish change? The world, our families, need both optimists and pessimists.

Direction might be found in this prayer, again from the Moravian Daily Text today:  

Gracious Comforter, remind us that you know us better than we know ourselves. So when we are filling the voids in our lives or are in need of a change, help us look to you for what we need.