A VIEW FROM THE PRESS BOX: SUPREME COURT JUSTICE HONORABLE SONIA SOTOMAYOR VISITS RUTGERS EAGLETON INSTITUTE bY Calvin Schwartz April 13, 2016
Dr. Barchi, Rutgers President greeting Justice Sotomayor and Ruth Mandel
Over the years I’ve discovered the mind expansive joys of Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics. After one lecture, I told Watergate-famed John Dean, Nixon’s counsel, that he contributed to the break-up of my first marriage because I spent three weeks as a newlywed watching his testimony and nothing else. He laughed and asked if I re-married. I remember lectures with Doris Kearns Goodwin, Governors Whitman and Codey, Michael Beschloss, David Gergen. Senator Corey Booker was at Eagleton a few weeks ago. Actually Senator Booker called on me for the last question; it was my omnipresent Rutgers hat and “over-abundance of hair” which garnered his attention. When it was announced that Justice Sotomayor was coming on April 11th and registration was at 9AM on line, I set the alarm for 8 AM. I filled out the form at 9AM sharp. Seconds later, it was closed out and so was I. The demand to see the Supreme Court Justice was beyond.
Justice Sotomayor & Ruth Mandel entering the RAC
on stage with questions from Ruth Mandel
Eagleton reacted and moved the venue to the Rutgers Athletic Center(RAC) to accommodate. I remembered I’m a journalist here at NJ Discover and got press credentials for the event. Arrival was two hours early to set up in the press box yet even that early you could feel a special air of excitement and still hear echoes in the empty RAC. I walked around absorbing. The doors opened for the spectators; such a diverse and smiling demographic. I knew it wasn’t basketball season or Kansas. This was a special day.
Dr. Barchi, Rutgers President spoke briefly and acknowledged some past Jersey officials. Ruth Mandel, head of Eagleton and Justice Sotomayor walked across the gym floor to the stage and two comfortable chairs. A very skilled eloquent Ruth Mandel began to ask questions.
with John Dean, President Nixon’s counsel after an Eagleton lecture a few years ago
Recently with Senator Cory Booker after Eagleton lecture.
Justice Sotomayor remarked, “Who I am is an amalgam of experiences.” Mandel asked, “What did you hold onto from early days?” “I have a Puerto Rican heart….my culture is who I am….my values that I was taught…. love of family, community, country….” Once I heard her words, I knew she was a very special exceedingly humanistic Justice; a rare precious and beautiful person. This audience was in the presence of greatness. Isn’t it funny how fast you can tell qualities. She was born in the Bronx, went to Princeton and Yale Law.
“Has the court affected people close to you?” She missed that first Christmas; couldn’t leave the court. “Sure it changes you.” She went on to say, “I studied and studied…. never cut corners with education…. I worry students who are involved in everything…. involved with too much…. should concentrate on passions…. Don’t do any work that you’re not passionate about.” Yes, she was on a college campus with many students listening.
On the second level
On the big scoreboard screen
I loved this next segment. Justice Sotomayor mentioned that she doesn’t like sitting for long periods of time and walks slowly but she’d walk into the stands all the way up to the rafters answering questions. “I was called “hot pepper” by my mother. I can’t sit still.” How wondrously real. She shook hands with some of the appreciative audience. I was in the second level press box; she was three feet away. Yes, thrilling.
“Every night before I go to sleep, I ask what did I learn new today. How did I extend an act of kindness? If I can’t answer, I don’t go to bed…. I go on the internet.” I turned to Dan, Editor of the Rutgers Targum, sitting next and whispered, “A very special person. Wow.”
Fittingly she spoke about more diversity on the Supreme Court can help to better understand the cases but wouldn’t necessarily change outcomes. “In every case we’re announcing a winner. One side comes away vindicated…. One loses…. It makes this job hard.” I liked the air in the gym; no questioning on prevailing winds of politics and the court. There is a time and place. I just wanted to hear her humanity and personal expressions. Back on the gym floor, after students asked questions and a photo-op, Ruth Mandel and Justice Sotomayor were quickly gone. I think she had to catch a train.
it’s me the blogger who is sometimes sporadically tardy
I can’t wait to talk about Asbury Park; it’s becoming a real love affair to remember; me and that Jersey shore town with all kinds of magical musical Springsteen energy and history. The Olympics are now over and I was glued to my television set just like I was back in 1968, 1972 and every four years (not 1980, Jimmy) through most of my relevant life. Speaking of glue, a dermatologist just told me a few weeks ago that when I get those little cracks in my fingers which annoy and cause depressing pain, I should get crazy glue and blast the suckers shut. I was a little hesitant about the crazy glue thinking it’s almost irreversible so instead I used hoof lacquer (the stuff for horses) and it worked. I just thought about the Jane Fonda 1969 movie, ‘They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?’ I think they take old race horses now and ship them to Mexico to be made into human food stuffs.
Olympic great volleyball player Flo Hyman. always one of my heroes.
I love watching the Olympics; every four years I get a generation older; could’ve started and finished another college education and the Olympics come back. I’m four years older, wiser and that far removed from ever being an athlete in the Olympics. If I lived to be 100 years old, then the most Olympics I could ever see would be just 25 summer classics and that’s pushing it.
Carli Lloyd scored the winning gold medal goal against Japan with seconds left. A Rutgers graduate too.
How I wish there was a bucket floating around a Jersey shore jetty that would lift and move me to attend an Olympics live. Imagine sitting in Wembley stadium last week and watching Carli Lloyd (Rutgers University) score two goals to give USA the gold medal in Women’s football (soccer) over Japan. I sometimes think about Olympian Flo Hyman. I wonder how many viewers of NBC’s Olympic coverage know who she was; yes, an Olympian and not that long ago. I lament that more folks don’t know who she was and what she contributed to team USA winning a silver medal. Flo passed away much too young yet she impacted me enough to be blogging about her now.
Jesse Owens. always an Olympic hero
In 1974, Hyman was a member of the US volleyball team, but the team did not play in the 1980 Olympic Games; the United States boycotted the Moscow Olympics because the Russians were messing around in Afghanistan. I still remember Flo Hyman’s fast, hurting volleyball spike that hits at 100 mph. I loved to watch her play just like I do now with Misty Mae and Kerri. At the 1984 Olympics, Hyman, the tallest and oldest member of the team, led the US to the silver medal.
First Lady Michelle Obama and Mayor Cory Booker at my grammar school, Maple Avenue where I was always tardy.
After the Olympics, Hyman moved to Japan, where she played for the Daiei team. In the summer of 1986, she intended to return to the United States permanently, but never got the chance. On January 24, 1986, Hyman collapsed while sitting on the bench. She told her team to keep fighting, then moments later slid to the floor and died. It was a condition called Marfan’s Syndrome which affects tall people. I’m 6’5” and I still think about Flo Hyman, Jesse Owens and Bob Mathias among others. With respect to universe connectivity, I wonder why thoughts of Flo Hyman are always with me. One more Olympic thought; international sport and athletes are a beautiful thing. I get all choked up watching humanity interact on playing fields. Its 1960’s love and peace and gives the species and our globally warmed world, hope. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the species all signed the Kyoto protocol a month after the Olympics?
Leaving Bayonne on Royal Caribbean under the Verrazano Bridge
Seemingly there’s always a reason why my blog gets tardy grades. I remember my Maple Avenue School in Newark in the 1950’s. Mrs. Obama visited my old grammar school a couple of years ago. The school report cards are still in my basement protected from rising hurricane waters so I can show grandchildren way in the future that their grandfather got unsatisfactory grades in tardiness. I was always late; still am. Even yesterday, in New York City hanging out with a social media guru, she told me that my tardiness may be a passive aggressive behavior disorder. I tongue and cheeked her (aggressively denying her notions) that I’ve been to a geneticist and my tardiness is chromosomal so I live with it and endear myself to readers, friends and family so my extant tardiness is overlooked. Therefore this blog is a little tardy (late) because I was away for 10 days on a cruise to the Caribbean.
a view from the deck. it’s big.
As I go through the maturation process like fine wine or cheese, I’ve grown less accustomed and enamored with flying; perhaps a fear too; perhaps a lack of control (back in June, 1974 for about a half-hour I thought about taking flying lessons). Recent vacations have been designed around avoidance of Newark Airport and leaving on jet planes. Enter Bayonne, New Jersey and the cruise ships which leave for points south. Bayonne is a mere 20 minutes and one Turnpike toll away. In July we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas ship for a 10 day cruise to Bermuda and the Caribbean. We subliminally thought this was an elegant cruise line; we didn’t do enough homework. My blogging herein is to convey the message ‘buyers beware.’
working out in the empty ship gym. where did all the flowers and people go.
No long laborious cruise diary necessary here; just the facts. Ten minutes in the stateroom, our olfactory sensation is bombarded by sewage odors. Three days later and a very uncaring, unresponsive housekeeping staff finally partially tends to the odors. We got a bottle of merlot for our troubled nostrils. I forgot to tell the housekeeping executive that since I saw the movie ‘Sideways’ a few Christmas vacations ago, I don’t drink “effen” merlot anymore.
the infamous towel line. all that humanity waiting to get or return towels.
Food presentation was better back in 1955 at Maple Avenue School. I know lettuce is lettuce but throw a doily and some creativity into presentation. Three thousand passengers got one partially working low fat frozen yogurt machine. And afternoons were partially consumed by long lines waiting to take out or return pool towels. They don’t trust us anymore and throw our towel names into computers. Failure to comply is a $25 charge/towel.
the boat in dock in bermuda
I wanted to wear a badge of honor: “I don’t drink so leave me alone and stop hovering over my lounge chair with melted iced concoctive drinks. I want peace in my time.´ Neville Chamberlain said that peace thing before World War II. They never stop hawking drinks. We didn’t have time to arrange a tour of San Juan that the ship provided for $49.95/person. It was a two hour bus tour around new and old San Juan. After leaving the ship once we docked in San Juan, a street tour service asked if we wanted a two hour tour of new and old San Juan for $10/person. We did. And this part of the blog is over. Oh and be careful of Royal Caribbean potato salad. It’s spiked with ham. And I am a flexitarian.
a cemetery in old San Juan
Yes, flexitarian is in the blog title. So this now becomes the perfect segue. Just this morning I was listening to the ‘Today Show’ and a segment on new words being added to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. ‘F-bomb’ and ‘gassed’ (drained of energy), ‘tipping point’ (means we haven’t signed the Kyoto protocol and our earth is near tipping point so we’ll never be able to fix our planet so good-bye Miami and New Orleans and Key West. (Hemingway and Jimmy Buffet memories). Finally flexitarian. I am so redeemed. I’ve been calling myself a flexitarian for several years; way ahead of trending and lexicographers. A flexitarian is a vegetarian who sometimes eats meat, poultry or fish. I stopped eating red meat in 1975 (a long story) but I do eat chicken, turkey and fish. I’m so proud I’ve been officially defined now.
the bird is real. hanging around the pier. $10 to sit on your shoulder. i’m too tall i reasoned.
Finally along the health related thoughts (remembering I’m also a trans-humanist and aspire to live to 150 years). There is now an apple that has been genetically modified not to turn brown. The Arctic Apple created by Okanagan Specialty Fruits is an apple that won’t turn brown when cut or bruised, keeping its perfect appearance. The brown harmless hue that develops when you bruise, bite or slice an apple comes from polyphenol oxidase (PPO) The company science team replaces a variety’s PPO-producing genes with “silenced” (low PPO-producing) versions extracted from other apples, aided by time-proven biotechnology tools. This results in apples that don’t produce enough PPO to brown. And I wonder. Hey Mah, tell them to leave my apples alone. There’s this Russian scientist who someday will be able to take my entire cerebral essence (every cell, neuron, synapse) and transplant it into a Terminator cyborg and I get to live forever. By then, my blogs will never be late. Promiso.
public speaking in old San Juan. and i have no further aspirations.
Finally last week I attended this Dr Sketchy Asbury Park event at Asbury Lanes and I loved it for a myriad of journalistic and sociological reasons. Here’s my words (pixs) describing my observations. I’m smiling. It’s purist fun being a writer, blogger and a fan of Andy Rooney, Charles Kuralt and Flo Hyman:
the morning sailing back to Bayonne by the Verrazano. where was everybody. at the last buffet meal.
There’s a recurring theme to my words and explorations this past year. “I love Asbury Park.” Sometimes I feel like Winston Zeddemore, the character from ‘Ghostbusters’ when he proclaims at the end of the movie, “I love this city.” I do. But it’s Asbury Park. I’ve been saying for a long time as well that I keep feeling a magic dust constantly descending upon this New Jersey seaside city. Part of the dust is definitely a Bruce Springsteen affectation; pure magic and inspirational. You can feel it everywhere. Good old palpable dust that moves you to creativity and dreams. If you want a piece of it, to experience it, then come to Asbury Park.
asbury lanes, asbury park at night. scene of dr sketchy. and my shadow in in bottom of pix. how rod serling is that.
Asbury Park is becoming that iconic cultural hub for music, art, theater, food and walks on boards. I suppose there’s nothing quite like salt air, inhaled deeply to sweep you back to seeing news reports of President Eisenhower playing golf or Good Humor ice cream trucks pushing Chocolate Éclair bars; obviously my favorite; toasted Almond in second place. Part of the allure of diversity of culture in Asbury Park is Dr Sketchy Anti-Art School. I think it’s time to tell the deal with Dr. Sketchy and why I have so much fun attending (as a journalist).
sketching models at dr. sketchy
Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School is both a burlesque cabaret and life drawing event originating in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and was founded in New York City in 2005, by illustrator and former artist’s model Molly Crabapple and illustrator A.V. Phibes. They’ve grown globally with branches all over. As of September 2007, Dr. Sketchy’s branches exist in 100 cities around the world. Branches vary in their conservatism and the skill of their artists. Asbury Park’s Dr Sketchy brings in eclectic, beautiful, charming, and fun models. I’ve been to several events which are always themed. Several months ago it was ‘vampires.’ The other evening was ‘horror.’ Sociologically speaking it’s quite an event; artists sketching and photographers capturing.
with dr sketchy models courtney wood and jess stroh. and i always thought i was 6’5″. are times changing??
Asbury Park’s Asbury Lanes has hosted several Dr. Sketchy events. For a small cover charge you’ve got up to four hours of sketching models and themes. Poses range up to five minutes and sometimes you feel as if you’re on a movie set. Props and music put you in the themed mood; sometimes the models even act as impromptu judges for a captured particular sketch. Tim, the franchisee has been particularly gracious and helpful in keeping me in the information loop.
Tim from Dr Sketchy presiding over a sketching contest with models.
candles and bowling balls occupying same rack at asbury lanes. and welcome back to the future.
Back to Asbury Lanes; as one donut chain advertises; it’s definitely worth the trip to set a bowling foot back in time to bygone days of the Lone Ranger, Pac Man, Photo Booths, Art Deco paintings and posters garnishing the walls and a bar that reminds me of Jack Torrance and red-rum and Stephen King. Even the water fountain belongs in a hip-hop museum. Everything about Dr Sketchy Asbury Park is in good taste and fun. The models are professional, outgoing, and intelligent and yes, beautiful. Usually a professional photographer takes part of the bar area and recreates scenes and themes with the models. I could learn to be a photographer if I keep hanging around.
a surreal look at the lanes. bowl a game?
more asbury lanes, asbury park back to the future props.
This particular night was ‘horror’ themed so I got to see a replica chain saw, a few skeleton face wall paintings and I even got a chance to personally administer a massage to a skeleton resting comfortably on a bar stool. Everybody goes out of their way to make your Dr. Sketchy time enjoyable and fun. So my advice as a fun journalistic advisor (consigliere) for central Jersey and the Jersey shore folks or even NYC, New Hampshire or Maryland folks is not to get thee to a nunnery but to a future Dr. Sketchy event preferably at Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park and have some sociological fun. You’re in Asbury Park, so grab dinner beforehand. And yes Virginia, you could probably bowl a few games. Speaking of the ‘Terminator’ before: this is a perfect time to close this blog by saying “I’ll be back,” but probably tardy. But isn’t this worth the wait?
NOW HERE THIS: another bit of an advertisement. 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.