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February 14, 2012

A Man Named Henry. Spit, Scalpers and NJ Concert Tickets. Newark NJ (Whitney Houston’s Hometown) La Dolce Vita (My Journalistic Adventures Down the Jersey Shore and Departure from Fellini’s Film) Living to 150 (a few thoughts and an interview with Emily Cook, 102 years old) February 14 2012




downtown Newark

Before jumping into this blog. Here’s a copy of a tweet I  just sent out about and an article I wrote on my being a Flexitarian.   “question: got 3 min? read about it in 700 words. I am a Flexitarian      at hooplaha”

Strange. It seems I mentioned Newark (my hometown) no less than a dozen times Saturday. I’m always talking about Newark, the memories and the bittersweet collection of streets, two-family houses, want-to-be skyscrapers and art deco (all seemingly built in the 1930’s) schools which helped to form my notions and awareness of the universe. I know Eisenhower was president when a gang of us Newark kids from the Weequahic section sat on a twenty-step stoop, after a ferocious game of street hockey(with homemade sticks), during the summer solstice, and pondered all the stars in the sky and the spirit that put them there. Newark was my life, roots, dreams and hopes. I know that and will never forget it.







Newark. right before a street hockey game



Tara-Jean Vitale and me reporting at Seaside Heights boardwalk for NJ Discover TV

I was so proud when fellow Newarker, Whitney Houston dazzled the world with her angelic voice and music. On Saturday night, through three courses of dinner and extra wine to delay restaurant departure, I was consumed searching for more information about Whitney Houston; I was in an all too familiar state of denial and disbelief while squeezing the sides of my new IPhone 3G, as if there was a way to squeeze-out what you only wanted to see and hear.  I wanted to see her Sunday at the Grammys. I will never understand why celebrities leave us much too soon and I will truly miss her.

I briefly touched on the city of Newark; its electrons, atoms, special city water which breweries loved, detailed facades of city school buildings, crossing guards in pin neat authoritative uniforms, a park with a nine-hole golf course where I once attempted to caddy for a day, a local library that had a certain paper smell and if they could bottle it now, I’d wear the paper cologne scent proudly (just like Seinfeld’s Kramer and his sweaty beach cologne) and my last summer job there in 1967, where I clandestinely spent most of my working time on the third floor roof of an industrial bakery, a mile from Newark Airport.  I dreamed the dream of far-away places and finding myself.  Watch how fast I move now. I finished Rutgers University in Newark, got married, divorced and remarried and one day woke-up, after 12 years as a Pharmacist, as an eye-glass salesman.  Newark helped to form my dreams and sense of self.





i sold this stuff for 30 years



Grappa in case your interested. It's clear liquid.

In the eyeglass business, I soon met Henry, who helped develop my cerebral faculties and inspired a new life-long pursuit of liberty, knowledge, perfection and curiosity. Funny; Henry seemed decades older, wiser and worldlier than me; he was the latter stuff but I was actually older.  I would spend the best part of two decades marveling at Henry’s mind and reminding myself of some distant commercial, wanting to be just like Mikey or Henry.  I don’t remember the actual moment bells heralded a whole new journey to intellectual pursuits, but Henry made me want to shove as much knowledge into the deep layers of gray matter; just keep learning every day, he kept teaching; about social relationships, or Viktor Frankl and how he survived World War II or about how mission, goals, feedback, rewards and support define leadership performance, or about acquiring a taste for grappa (go Google this Italian wine but don’t necessarily start drinking it. On the other hand I think it makes a good paint remover), or about acquiring a taste for dark chocolate or opening up boutique shops to sell the confection.


a red Seaside Heights arcade open in middle of winter. Skee ball anyone?


Henry could talk football or renaissance and sell anything to anyone. Henry; if you could hear or see me now; you set me on a path because I admired and marveled your vision of the world; I’m arriving albeit slowly, but every step forward I take, where I’m at now, is a direct result of absorbing you all those years. And I thank you in a very public blog.  So now I’ve come to the fork in the road and I’m going to take it. It’s segue time. Henry molded me. Now I’m living La Dolce Vita as a journalist myself and coincidentally, Henry and I worked for an Italian company. I wonder if there wasn’t a Fellini around, somewhere in those wonderful majestic mountains in northeast Italy, a long way from Newark.


La Dolce Vita (Fellini’s masterful film) means the sweet life in Italian. The film is a story of a passive journalist’s week in Rome, and his search for both happiness and love that will never come. Generally it’s regarded as the film that signals the transition between Fellini’s earlier neo-realist films and his later artsy films, it is considered one of the great achievements in earthly movie making. So I’m a journalist now, working for NJ Discover TV and Hoopla Ha (Only Good News) and I’ve found happiness in these pursuits and after nearly 37 years, still in love with my wife so I don’t have to search like Marcello Mastroianni’s character, Marcello Rubini, for fleeting love. I’ve got it at home and all over New Jersey in my work.  But since I’m playing with concentric circles with the movie, here’s my past week or two roaming and exploring the streets of New Jersey as a journalist and loving it.










my Seaside Park friend Joanna Livingston Seagull





In no particular order except the guiding light of streams of consciousness; last week with Tara-Jean Vitale from NJ Discover TV, we discovered the glorious abandon of the Jersey shore in the depths of winter’s icy grip. Actually you’ve got to love global warming if averse to snow shovels. It hasn’t snowed in Jersey. I just knew it wouldn’t, so I never bought a snow blower because primary source of snow removal (prodigal son) moved to NYC last summer.  Tara-Jean and I explored the boardwalk at Seaside Heights. Normally (during summer) there are a hundred thousand boardwalk meanderers; last week one aging couple walked  towards an elevated giraffe with only one other human in sight; I thought I saw Alan Ladd from the movie ‘Shane;’ riding away on a horse, so I called out to him “Come back Shane, we want you.” I don’t think he heard me.  Later we found an open arcade and surrealism stroked my clean shaven face, as we walked in solitude, bathed in red.  One lone employee was’ fixing’ machines and ten vacant skee ball games beckoned.










a mother and children waiting for a season in Seaside



winter boardwalk abandon



Later the same day, under too true blue skies, we journeyed to a cemetery in Marlboro that lies across the road from Marlboro State Psychiatric Hospital which closed its doors years ago. There in a Potters field of sorts, 924 people, who died in the hospital,(from 1931 to 1960) were buried with only small metal or concrete grave markers numbered from 1 to 924. No names on the markers except for a memorial under several trees with all the names and the day they died.  I’ve been moved and haunted enough times in my modern era but not quite like this. I stared at the stillness all around and I wondered. It occurred to me that everyone buried there and myself and Tara-Jean all crossed a birth canal and took a first breath. We were all equal for a brief moment in time. What happened here to these people? No families (save for one) to erect a remembrance. How’d they die? Why did a preponderance of people die in 1942? Was there a bad employee who took advantage back then? Gosh I remember the movie ‘The Summer of ’42.’  One of my favorites of all time; perhaps the most bittersweet of them all; I was on that island during the summer of distant war, playing with Hermie, Oscy and Benjie. I still shudder when passing prophylactics in a drug store because of the movie. The druggist scared me. Back to the cemetery; I wonder about  too many things; about these human beings who were unlucky in life to have been sent to a mental hospital. I wonder.  I do.








the loneliness of a chicken in winter on a Jersey amusement park on boardwalk


more boardwalk winter abandon and an elevated giraffe



I’d travel the world over (mostly stateside). Jump on a balloon and circumnavigate. Look down from high (up). Anything to get back to future. I wondrously did that a few weeks ago on Cookman Ave. 629 Gallery (Patrick Schiavino) for The Art of The Protest Song Occupies Asbury Park to hear amazing singers: Arlan Feiles, Joe Rapolla, William L. Valenti and Frank Lombardi in concert telling the story in words and music of protest songs. Right up my alley coming out of the sixties. How would I define a’ swig of nirvana’: the attached pix.  When they sang “This land is your land” at finale. Amazing music. Amazing art. It facilitated my cerebral drifting under the nearby boardwalk and to an occupied park in NYC. Drifting means finding a dreamy state(e=mc2). I did. Yes I am living La Dolce Vita and I am a journalist.




marlboro state psychiatric hospital and a cuckoo's nest top right


On the grounds of Marlboro Psychiatric cemetery. 924 people rest.

Meanwhile back in Asbury Park (a place of ocean and musical renaissance). I attribute part of the city’s rebirth to sprinkled magical electrons and neutrons from nearby Springsteen and Bon Jovi etc.) On Facebook, I met Glenn Goss from the band Underground Junction (band member Steven Bauer played ‘Manny’ next to Pacino’s ‘Tony Montana’ in Scarface).  Glenn and I sat on an old kitchen table circa 1952 in the back room (my new private office thanks to Judy and James) of ‘Flying Saucer’s Antiques on Cookman  Avenue. Commonality of artists talking about the world and travails and realities; Glenn‘s a musician, I’m a novelist.  New soul brothers we are.  A few nights later, back in Asbury at the ‘Trinity and the Pope’ Cajun restaurant and bar for some late night jamming watching my new brother Glenn.






Art of Protest Song Finale singing "This Land is Your Land" I was back to the future again.


a tribute to Jersey music on Cookman Ave in Asbury Park


Last week I tossed my faded jeans aside, put on a white, lightly starched shirt from a bag, not a wire hanger and teamed up with my fellow writer, reporter from NJ Discover, Tara-Jean Vitale and went to interview David Goldman(at an event sponsored by the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce at Sterling Gardens in Matawan) who fought an inspiring international five year battle to be reunited with his son Sean who was abducted to Brazil in 2004. Increased awareness globally to human trafficking and international kidnapping eventually led to key U.S. government officials including President Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg and Congressman Christopher Smith of New Jersey to get involved with the Goldman case.








Judy F from Flying Saucer Antiques


with Glenn Goss in front of Flying Saucer Antiques



‘David Goldman recently wrote ‘A Father’s Love: One Man’s Unrelenting Battle to Bring His Abducted Son Home (Viking/Penguin) and is a co-founder of the ‘Bring Sean Home Foundation ( I found Goldman to be warm, caring, committed and incredibly accessible. He looked at me and said, “I’m simply a father who cares.” And I loved the fact of being a not Fellini-esque journalist while also thinking about my son who just texted, reminding me that Rutgers men’s basketball is playing #2 Syracuse on Sunday. We go to many things together the past 16 years except I don’t think he saw Fellini’s film. I don’t think he even knows who Fellini is. I just realized; it’s probably my fault.









with Glenn Goss and Craig Wisdo in Asbury Park's 'Trinity and the Pope'


Glenn Goss performing 'Ballerina'




As a sub-theme to many of my blogs, living to 150 years, I’ve supplied relevant and timely tidbits of research and examples of my living habits which can bring me as an active card carrying member of  USTA(United States Tennis Association) to that lofty trans-humanist goal of longevity. I mentioned the USTA, for part of the 150 attainment is still being able to play tennis at that somewhat advanced age. That’s the essence, key and mighty asterisk for me to living long; playing tennis (albeit doubles) at that age. I love asterisks by the way. Who ever invented it, I owe a debt. Asterisks buy us whatever escape clause we need; it explains and excuses everything. Long live the asterisk.

So if you take three naps a week, you can reduce your chances of a heart attack by 40%. Neuroscientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have made a dramatic breakthrough in their efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers’ findings show that use of a drug in mice appears to quickly reverse the pathological, cognitive and memory deficits caused by the onset of Alzheimer’s.  And here’s a neat longevity test of 13 questions (and according to my results, I’m on my way to 98):




Tara-Jean Vitale from NJ Discover TV and David Goldman


David Goldman's Book


Last Thursday I found out about a party for Emily Cook, celebrating her 102nd birthday in Middletown, NJ yesterday.  Of course I went as a NON Fellini journalist, wanting to tell her she’s already 2/3 of the way to my goal of 150. She laughed when I told her my goals. And she just stopped driving a few months ago and has done nothing remarkable in the last 102 years for longevity. I did notice a curiosity. Emily lives at Regal Pointe, which is not assisted-living, nor a nursing home but a building of apartments where seniors live in an active independent environment and pay an all-inclusive rent. At her party there was a nice balance of genders (which I appreciate being masculine) and a large number of folks in their mid and upper nineties. I liked that too and wondered if the living environment contributed.










with Emily Cook, 102, yesterday at birthday party


Emily Cook's birthday party


Finally this spit, scalpers and Springsteen ticket subject:  Bruce is performing in the Jersey/New York metro area before he tours Europe. Don’t ask how hard it was to get tickets because he’s playing in only 20,000 seat venues not 80,000 capacity stadiums. Ticketmaster sells the tickets. It’s impossible to get. You wait forever and the on-line prompt tells you 15 minutes; that was weeks ago. But I hate spit in my face and in all our faces. It’s the same as Wall Street spit. And Bankers spit. Moments after the tickets were sold-out, the scalpers and high priced ticket selling folks go on line and start selling Springsteen tickets for enormous profits over face.  Everybody yells facial spit. A NJ Congressman threatens. And even Ticketmaster says they will look into the spit still moist on the public’s faces.  The spit has dried leaving an apathetic faint forgotten apparition stain. The Kyoto protocol goes unsigned. The Giants won the Super Bowl. I can barely remember who won last year. The referees who obviously fixed the Rutgers-St. Johns basketball game last March go on rewarded and everybody has forgotten the spit. And all the concerts to come will be scalped and Ticketmaster will go on having nice days. Someone will invent a nice antibacterial cloth to wipe the dried spit; maybe a congressman moonlighting.


This was a special few weeks; especially meeting Emily Cook yesterday; her ebullient smiling face and then asking me if she should sit on my lap for the photo-op. She meant it. Then the best: we were talking about origins. She’s from Newark and so am I and so was Whitney Houston.  I told Emily that I’d be back next year for her 103rd birthday party.  We shook hands and she squeezed my hands tightly. We smiled at each other and knew I’d be back. But I was Fellini sad walking out through the main entrance because I remembered Whitney Houston won’t.




Bruce Springsteen at Light of Day concert in Asbury Park in January.













A great article about Linda Chorney from her blog:


Linda Chorney’s’ Emotional Jukebox’ Album













Also a very worthwhile cause to read up on:

Butterfly Circle of Friends.



Facebook:  Cal Schwartz

Twitter:  Earthood



book trailer. hey its 65 seconds longNewark






If on Facebook check out this NJ Discover site:

OR Newark




ARE you in search of another blog that is also outspoken, unique BUT refreshingly, topically unbridled which means uninhibited ????  Meet   LINDA CHORNEY:


Immortality Institute (which represents advocacy and research for unlimited lifespan)


LINKS TO VIDEOS.  Please Watch.

1.   ZOMBIE WALK   October 22, 2011



Nov 11, 2011



Nov 19, 2011

Randall Haywood and Victor Jones Interview from Chico’s House of Jazz Asbury Park





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