Before drifting into the deep recesses of my Asbury Park mind, I need to do a movie discourse. Funny, I’ve been thinking lately of actually making a movie; a blend of real and unreal in a special place of reverence. ‘There’s still time brother;’ a thought from the scary prophetic movie, On the Beach.
The other night I was in the mood to watch Casablanca. My viewing of the movie eclipsed the century mark; recollect I’ve seen this tech noir movie more than 100 times; I can almost but not quite tell the exact dates I watched it. Some people can tell that fact; they’ve got a condition called hyperthymesia in which they possess a superior autobiographical memory. Folks with hyperthymesia can recall almost every day of their lives in near perfect detail, as well as public events that hold some personal relevance to them.
Those affected describe memories as uncontrollable associations, when they encounter a date, they “see” a vivid depiction of that day in their heads. Recollection occurs without hesitation or conscious effort. Actress Marilu Henner has this condition. Oh, I don’t really have it but I dwell frequently in the past; how I could’ve tweaked a few things and made 2012 living different; how did I lose a sibling; this notion provokes walks at night, near 2 AM in central Jersey, head tilted skyward to stars, moon and the parallel worlds/universes out there. A few years ago, I read about Princeton PhD candidate Hugh Everett’s thesis in 1951, when he mathematically proved the existence of parallel worlds. Maybe there’s a million of me (and you too) at this exact moment in time. Reckon you should’ve seen my facial expression when I found Everett’s doctoral thesis on line, read the first paragraph or so, and felt like Tom Hanks, in Castaway talking to ‘Wilson’ a former volleyball. My two college degrees got me to the third paragraph before running off to seven layer cake land (a frustration buster).
Back to Casablanca; a long story of being a Humphrey Bogart fan. I suppose most of you all know seven years ago on a rainy March Sunday around 9:30 AM, when I was watching Casablanca for the 74th time, I saw Claude Rains throw a bottle of Vichy Water (French mineral water) into a metal garbage can near the end of the movie. Then I let out a blood curdling scream because a novel popped into my head. Two years ago my novel ‘Vichy Water’ was published; a special achievement in a life. One of my favorite scenes in the movie: Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo) starts singing ‘La Marseillaise,’ the French National Anthem, in one of the most memorable and moving scenes. After the movie, I went to YouTube and found famed French singer Mireille Mathieu’s version, singing in front of the Eiffel Tower; how unbelievably moving an anthem. I read comments made about Mathieu and the anthem; a few proclamations that it’s the most inspirational national anthem ever. I was curious about the lyrics into English translation.
Let’s go children of the fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny’s
Bloody flag is raised! (repeat)
In the countryside, do you hear
The roaring of these fierce soldiers?
They come right to our arms
To slit the throats of our sons, our friends!
I listened to Mathieu sing La Marseillaise for literally several hours. Powerful stuff; I began to envision myself in Paris this August, working on my 2nd novel, being inspired and moved. I was bothered by some of the lyrics; rather graphic images of throats. I was also haunted by images of the Germans marching with ease and little resistance into Paris and the French citizens helping to round up fellow Parisians into the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup in 1942 (ultimate destination, concentration camps) as depicted in the movie, Sarah’s Key. My respiration levels during that movie were some of the lowest readings ever in a life.
A few nights ago I was flicking channels, looking for blue lights that would mess up my melatonin levels but somehow soothe me to sleep. I like muffled television sounds in the wee hours of the morning to facilitate sleep. It works for me. I stumbled upon Lethal Weapon, (from 1987, 24 long years ago) with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. I promised myself a few years ago, after a publicized Mel Gibson despicable racist anti-Semitic rant to Los Angeles police, that I’d never watch anything involving him again. But this scene I stumbled upon was one of my favorites; to me it was as poignant and telling a societal revelation as there is, so I watched. Here’s the setup: Gibson and Glover (Roger Murtaugh), LA cops, are about to investigate a woman, Dixie. Her house explodes. Soon after, cops Mel and Danny encounter four small black neighborhood kids who may’ve witnessed the perpetrator who planted the bomb. They identify themselves as police officers but one kid says, “My mother told me that policemen shoot black people.” Then I thought about Trayvon Martin being shot recently in Sanford, Florida. I thought to myself, “24 years ago, seems like a long time, but I guess not.
Fifteen years ago or so I was travelling into New York City with seven other sales reps in a hired van to take us to the Parker-Meridien Hotel (French) and then to Javits Convention Center for Vision Expo, an international eyeglass exhibition. After dropping our clothes off at the hotel (it was 4 PM) the van driver was cruising downtown via Fifth Avenue. At 40th Street we hit a red light. I saw Danny Glover on the corner trying to hail a cab unsuccessfully. I rolled down my window and offered him a lift. He said, “I can’t get a f—— cab.” Then Glover picked up his suitcase and started coming to our van. I remembered at the time there was a bit of a scandal going on with New York City cabs not wanting to pick up African-Americans for ‘fears.’ I was excited because I was about to pick-up one of my favorite actors and give him a lift. We had all the time in the world I thought (thinking of the movie, The Time Machine by HG Wells) because the convention started the next day. Suddenly the light turned green and my van driver sped off, not knowing my intentions and therefore leaving Danny Glover standing by the curb and me in fifteen year devastation, on what Danny Glover thought of me and what could’ve been.
Lately I’ve been pondering how curious topics arrive at my computer keyboard. Earlier this week, I wrote about Monmouth County Cemetery Chasing because NJ Discover TV writers (me) have been on the grounds of several local cemeteries for rather serendipitous reasons. At NJ Discover we’re all over Monmouth County doing our job description; discovering, elevating and exploring our home county. Last month, I’ve also immersed myself into the art scene in Asbury Park and an hour ago, I realized that I should be telling a tale of art discovery.
Through the magic of Facebook with never ending stories of networking and events, last month I heard about an ‘artsy’ item at Asbury Lanes called Dr. Sketchy Asbury Park and decided to click the JOIN button after getting an invitation from Tim. I checked Google first; a new tool of investigative reporting. “Since 2005, Dr. Sketchy’s has been the name in alternative drawing. From illegal flash mobs to the Museum of Modern Art, Dr. Sketchy’s has brought artists a rule-breaking cocktail of dames, drinking and drawing. Dr. Sketchy’s branches draw in over a hundred cities around the globe, from Akron to Zagreb. Whether you’re an art star or a scribbling newbie, Dr. Sketchy’s is the perfect place to get your fill of life-drawing.” For me, all a new world; in the past I’ve thought that if Christopher Columbus had approached me way back in my medicinal and potions medieval shop, a mile from where Queen Isabella lived, I would’ve jumped at the opportunity for a long ocean voyage. Crazy after all these years; so I still jump.
Cut to a recent Sunday afternoon; I arrived at Asbury Lanes for the Dr Sketchy’s Asbury Park sketching session themed as vampire motif with young female models. Asbury Lanes is as close to back to the future, 1950’s ambience, as I’ve seen since Michael J Fox drove a Delorean car. An old self photo booth, bowling ball rack with the top shelf filled with candles, a vending machine, the kind you pull the handle to release (four selections available) set the mood for ambience. A bar that almost reminded me of the The Shining (old movie references again) was off to the left; neat eclectic art work on the walls; an image of Springsteen, Henry Winkler and a rhinoceros and four rows of liquor in a bright showcase. A sign in the snack bar read, “Menu on counter. Booze in back. Vegetarian eats too.” Even the water fountain arrested eye contact.
Then we met congenial and inventive Tim, the host of Dr. Sketchy and Christopher Fitzgerald, an extraordinary artist and force field. Meanwhile 60 real artists with sketch pads positioned over ten vacant bowling alleys did their thing drawing the beautiful ‘dames’ posing in vampire suggestive poses on a stage. Finally, posing for an old fashioned photo-op with striking model Tricia completed my day in a brave new artistic world.
A few weeks later, Tim invited me as a journalist to cover a special photographic shoot at a private studio in Asbury Park. Of course, there wasn’t much processing just what this shoot was all about. Entering a vestibule (neat descriptive word), I rang the doorbell of suite five, was buzzed into a voice calling down a flight of stairs. “I’m from NJ Discover,” I yelled towards the voice. Next, I entered the photographic artist studio of amazing Andrei Jackomets; a frenetic universe of sets, props, and four models being meticulously made up for a vintage art-deco classy pin-up shoot. More brave new world explorations for this reporter. Tim was thrilled with my effort of being there. I was thrilled to be standing on the deck of the Santa Maria, so I thought; another Columbus voyage for me. Time and energy expended into creating this shoot amazed. I asked permission to photograph what was witnessed. Works of Andrei lined the walls; an extraordinary artist. Everyone was gracious. Space was tight and most of the time, I couldn’t find a place for my 6’5” frame. Andrei and I saw eye to eye; he asked me to pose and then he posed with a model for my camera. I remember what Winston Zeddmore said at the end of Ghostbusters. “I love this city!” (and still another old movie reference) And I do love the invention of Asbury Park. And thanks Tim, Dr Sketchy.
Last Saturday, March 24th the new Bangs Art Gallery (congratulations Doug Z’illa) in Asbury Park celebrated an opening. Christopher Fitzgerald displayed his dazzling mixed-media collages before its multi-gallery tour. Rather than describe; check out pictures. With dynamic social commentary artist Kortez Robinson, from Freehold; I stared at his mixed media/canvas and was transported far away; I like when art makes you think by reaching for an often misplaced social conscience. The gallery was crowded and folks talked not only about present art but how great it is to see Asbury Park alive. Prior to the gallery opening, we grabbed a sandwich on Cookman Avenue and afterwards walked across the street to The Press Room for Live Asbury Park’s presentation of ‘An Evening with Dusty,’ which recreated a 1969 concert experience with the original pop Diva and blue-eyed soul singer, Dusty Springfield. Dusty was delivered by “powerhouse singer Kirsten Holly Smith, complete with peroxide beehive and panda eye shadow, backed by a trio of pop-soul doo-wop girls who step out for their own funky star turns.” By the way, what a night; those that confine their souls to the sedentary couch TV ought to know this entire evening in Asbury Park cost me $24.75 for two for everything and this is 2012 not 1955, the year the Dodgers won the World Series.
So I battle with the old internal introspective mechanism as relates to this particular blog. I love Paris in the spring time or in August when I dream of going for a month to work on my second novel but “Golly,” as Sally Field from Norma Rae uttered in the movie, I’d miss the Jersey Shore and Asbury Park this summer, with its amazing renaissance of music, art and food. And “there is no place like home” as Dorothy said, in the Wizard of Oz. However I don’t know why she wasn’t wearing the red ruby slippers at the end of the movie. Wouldn’t it have been provocative? Oh well.
NOW HERE THIS: a bit of an advertisement. I don’t do those very much here. BUT there’s a very unusual upbeat funny precious 2 minute video involving 102 year old Emily Cook who talks about the life briefly and then invites me back to her room. Not to be missed especially the last 23 seconds. PLEASE check it out and share it.
HooplaHa Videos and Article LINKS to Check Out. Very Interesting!!!!
Judy Feinstein: Female Pilot:
Ida Gonzalez: A Mother’s Journey to Light:
Common Sense Approach to Common Sense:
A Real College Pep Band Video (yes 85 seconds):
Also a very worthwhile cause to read up on:
Butterfly Circle of Friends. http://www.butterflycircleoffriends.org
MY CONTACT INFORMATION
Facebook: Cal Schwartz
book trailer. hey its 65 seconds long
If on Facebook check out this NJ Discover site:
LINKS TO VIDEOS. Please Watch.
1. ZOMBIE WALK October 22, 2011
2. VETERANS DAY NJ VIETNAM MEMORIAL
Nov 11, 2011
3. RANDALL HAYWOOD & VICTOR JONES JAZZ CONCERT
Nov 19, 2011
Randall Haywood and Victor Jones Interview from Chico’s House of Jazz Asbury Park