Tag Archives: Princeton

In the moment: Jane Buttars


jane buttars

I just discovered these You Tube renditions of Jane Buttars improvising at the keyboard. They are just too delightful not to share, and I couldn’t choose among them, so here goes:

Here she is, live and jaunty. She’ll never play this exact way again because it’s improvised, but we can all hear it here.

Here she takes us on a journey to the east.  Perhaps my favorite.

In 2014 she did a duo in a quite different mode.

Last year she and Grammy-winning cellist David Darling issued a CD, Tympanum, and here is one of the meditative pieces, Awakening. I must get that CD out and begin enjoying it again. Her latest CD, pictured here is titled “Keys to the Inside.”

Jane works with the international association Music for People. Her Princeton -based studio offers monthly improv sessions to the general public, titled “Music from the Inside.” For information, janepiano2@comcast.net

Jane — you are helping me bring the new year in the right way, “in the moment.”


Steve Kruse: cycling planner

kruseSteve Kruse, center, outgoing PBAC Chair, on a fact-finding bike ride with Mayor Liz Lempert and members of the Princeton Traffic and Transportation Committee.
The Princeton Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (PBAC) notes that Steve Kruse is leaving the post of chair after nearly eight years. His replacement has not been named. Here are excerpts from that organization’s blog. For the rest of it, here 
Kruse is our neighbor, and I liked the description:  “Steve is a true bike person. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of cycling, and his brain seems to specifically retain the most quirky details of two-wheeled activities. He has spent years thinking about and planning bike routes and facilities around Princeton. . .”
Among the accomplishments under Kruse’s tenure:
launch of the Princeton Cyclovia
and the infrastructure for a  cloud drive of bike planning-related materials.
The job’s not done yet, not by half, but as the author notes, “When Princeton becomes a town that pro-actively helps people on bikes, it will be because of the efforts of trailblazers like Steve.”

Somebody’s Cat? An Einstein Connection….

An emailed cartoon from the New Yorker enlightened me on an area of quantum physics I knew nothing about. I still know nothing about quantum physics, but now I know that theories about somebody’s cat had something to do with it.

Here is the link to the New Yorker cartoon. You might have to page through till you get to the one in the vet’s office, where the female vet tells a bespectacled man, “About your cat, I have good news and bad news.” The cat’s owner’s name, in the cartoon, is Mr. Schrodinger (with an umlaut, spelled Schroedinger in English).

Erwin Schroedinger

I could see nothing funny about the drawing or the comment. Finally I realized that the name was unusual, maybe it meant something. I googled it, and found pages and pages about a quantum physicist named Schroedinger who theorized that a cat could be both dead and alive at the same time. (Now I know why I don’t want to study quantum physics, but here is a link to where someone tries to explain it).

Turns out everyone else knew about this man’s cat. It was referenced in TV shows like the Big Bang and Doctor Who, and lionized in a schrodinger-cat_2641464bGoogle doodle. He even has his own Facebook page. This cat may even be featured  on the Top 20 list of Science Facts that English Majors Should Know.

Why do I bring it up on a blog that focuses on Princeton? The Einstein connection, a connection so important that it’s the subject of Einstein’s Dice and Schroedinger’s Cat, a forthcoming book by Paul Halpern, due out on April 15.

it’s all theoretical of course, or the SPCA would object.

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.






I’m delighted to say that my Not in Our Town colleague, Larry Spruill, will be honored with Princeton University’s Journey Award on Martin Luther King day, Monday, January 20, at 1:30 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium. Larry represents Nassau Christian Center on the board of Not in Our Town Princeton.

The program includes music by the Princeton High School Studio Band and a keynote from Omar Wasow. a politics professor at Princeton who founded the social networking site for African Americans (BlackPlanet) and who is known as Oprah Winfrey’s social media tutor. It will be an exciting afternoon and a tribute that Larry richly deserves.

For details, click here.