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June 14, 2018

My Day at Damon House, New Brunswick: Since 1974, a long term Residential Rehab for Individuals with Addictions. A MUST Read. By Calvin Schwartz June 15, 2018 | addiction

Filed under: November 2009 — Tags: , , , , , — earthood @ 10:20 pm

 My Day at Damon House, New Brunswick: Since 1974, a long term Residential Rehab for Individuals with Addictions. A MUST Read.  By Calvin Schwartz  June 15, 2018













with Adminstration Team of Damon House


with Executive Director Ileen Bradley


Many of my articles, interviews, discoveries, begin far (geographic or intent) from the source. My day at Damon House a perfect example. Six weeks ago, I was at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick to see the showing of a John Hulme film, ‘Blood Sweat & Tears: A Basketball Exorcism.’ Several of the New Brunswick High School basketball team from 1987, from Hulme’s documentary, were there including James Jackson. Just after a group picture, James and I talked. He is an Outreach Liaison at Damon House. I’m a journalist for NJ Discover. Done deal.

In the weeks before, I researched like a model journalist. Damon House in New Brunswick has been around since 1974, serving people with addictions. The building itself, an old armory, built in 1914, is owned by the city of New Brunswick and leased to Damon House. What moved me to want to do this interview is the fact that no person has ever been turned away because of their financial status or inability to pay. That is a wow. Funny thing, I’m around New Brunswick often and I never knew about Damon House. Indeed, an inadvertent best kept secret. I’m a journalist, promulgator. That’s why this article. Hope is that when this is read, some fires are lit. Help. Support. Recognition. All needed.




Dining Hall

James brought me into the conference room in the next-door building. I met the administrative team. Ileen Bradley, Executive Director. James Johansen, Director of Program Services. Paul Hoffer, Clinical Director. Tim Miller, Clinical Supervisor. (also, a former executive at NBC-Universal) And we talked for hours. I’m overwhelmed with information and exuberance.

Every journey begins with a first step. I asked about the building; constantly being refurbished. Way back, unions helped doing work pro-bono. Damon House maintains 64 clients (patients, residents) and are a long-term facility doing counseling supported by a therapeutic milieu including cognitive therapy, behavior modification, motivational counseling, psychotherapy and guided group principles. Teaching individuals coping skills and dealing with peer pressure under the guidance of credentialed staff with extensive life experience. They teach many practical skills ranging from cooking, budgeting because addicted people lived on the outer fringes and need life lessons. A renowned poet, Glenis Redmond, even came to read poetry and conduct three workshops for the residents; some wrote their own poetry as a result. Ages of residents range from 18 to 60.





Group Community Outing

And the clients, residents. It was explained that some started using drugs at 11 or 12 and are dealing now with maturation issues. Translated, it could mean at 40 years old, their thought process could be like a 15-year-old. Issues of re-parenting extant. James Johansen added, “When they leave us, we want them to be completely ready for the outside…. When here, they’re pretty broken…. If they can make it at Damon, they can make it anywhere.”

I was curious where the name Damon came from. Ileen Bradley smiled and asked if I knew about Damon and Pythias. I smiled back. “Just the other day, researching, I discovered their story. Two friends, so loyal, they would give their lives for each other.” Ileen added, “If we ever open up another facility, it would be called Pythias House.”

Most clients come from the criminal justice system; demonstrative that nobody wants them. I asked about what really mattered to me; funding. Ileen spoke. “There is funding from the Federal government which goes to the states, and Department of Health, Division of Mental Health, Addiction Services…. Through the drug courts…. Mutual Agreement Program…. State Parole Board…. Then also if a client is eligible, Medicaid….”

Their food bill is over $100,000 a year. They have a relationship with the Community Food Bank in Hillside. I spouted the haunting statistic that in 1980 there were 40 food bank/pantries. Today there are 40,000. Shop Rite and BJ’s Club in Flemington helps on Fridays. They also get product donations.



with James Jackson whom I met at a Basketball Documentary Premiere and C Wiest

Additionally, they have a wonderful working relationship with the Salvation Army just across the street who were instrumental as community partners in getting everything on client’s kids toy wish list at holiday time.  Damon House also works with the Hub Teen Center which includes indoor recreation and movies for clients on Friday mornings. With Rutgers nearby, there is a high level of community involvement, right down to working on Rutgers Big Chill and helping with a race, soap box derby. To continue to help prepare and develop client’s lives.

James Jackson also works with Outreach Marketing. “We work with Vinnie Brand from the Stress Factory in New Brunswick who has helped with fund raising. The first event brought over 200 people.”

Paul Hoffer, Clinical Director described their High Intensity Residential Status. “We stress nutrition, meditation with a Monk, Yoga, and a complete holistic approach.”





Dorm Resident Room

Damon House and Rutgers University have collaborated on various projects. Third year medical students come for five-week rotations where they have an opportunity to learn about addiction. Damon House developed a 4th year medical student elective with other programs and the Psychiatry department where these students spend time in several levels of care in working with addiction. They work with the MSW/ACT program providing one-year internships for students interested in working with individuals suffering from addiction.  There are several other programs that they continue to work together with graduate level students to assist in professional development.

Ileen added, “We are client centered, so we even deal with vision, eyeglasses, dentists and have a legal department to help…. We are full service…. With a family therapist here…. Covering the whole state of New Jersey…. Fitness, food, nutrition, exercise part of our program.” Mind and body is stressed so clients feel good about themselves without drugs or alcohol.

I asked about the percent of clients who finish the six-month program. Once the clients transition from orientation those individuals tend to complete the program and it is very high. Those that complete the program have done everything to move to the next phase. Damon House is a place where they can put life back in order for no cost. How precious, rare and special that is. There was palpable genuine energy and caring sitting around the conference table. I find the transference of particulates of energy fascinating. Tim Miller, Clinical Supervisor, looked at me and I at him. It had to be simultaneous. He asked if I’d like to speak to the clients on things that I do well; networking, reinventing, selling, communicating and spirituality. My answer immediate and enthusiastic. “I’d love to.”  So down the yellow brick road, I’ll have more to write about. My experiences with the resident clients.

Next up, with James Jackson was a complete tour of the facility. From the dorm style rooms, to laundry (individually washed), new showers, barber chair, kitchen, dining room, lounge, gardens outside and new flag flying, waiting for the Fire Department to paint the pole. Indeed, thorough.

Final stop was Tim’s office to view promo films. Then he asked if I’d like to talk to a special resident, recently released from jail to Damon. “Absolutely.” For me a highlight of the day to interact and talk with a client. I was thrilled.



Joe V. A fascinating , emotional, eloquent story

Enter Joe V.  At intake in jail, he was told by an inmate how bad Damon was. “He told me they make you work, sit in corners. So, I didn’t want to come here. Thinking about it, kept me up at night. I was in county for four months. I pleaded with the judge for 45 minutes. And it was all based on hearsay. The judge asked me where I was getting my information. People who were there, I answered. The judge told me I was listening to the wrong people. I told the judge to give me my prison bed. He got really angry. My lawyer from drug court said things may be better at Damon. Counselors tried to talk me into. My family and fiancé checked things out on the computer. They researched other drug rehabs and told me that Damon House had a great program, it’s tough but changes lives. So, I came here. And I am so happy that I did. It’s the first meaningful program.”

I was so blown away by Joe’s eloquence, sensitivity and insight. I told him so. What a special person. I said my goodbyes to James and the staff. Curious, walking down the red cement steps, I felt just a bit elevated, like six inches higher. I’d been to a place of something of value. Then a thought popped into my head how I’d end this article. Pete Seeger, the great folksinger, on stage in a concert, was introducing the song, ‘We Shall Overcome,’ one of my all-time favorites. Pete said, (and I remember his words exactly) “If you want to get out of a pessimistic mood, go out and help someone (down in Birmingham, Alabama)” In small steps, I think my day was all about that.  Now here’s the website link. Enough said.



Calvin Schwartz  6-14-18   addiction


April 15, 2018

A Rutgers Journalistic Journey to Women Awareness Events: What 15 Days in a Life Can Teach. By Calvin Schwartz April 16, 2018

A Rutgers Journalistic Journey to Women Awareness Events: What 15 Days in a Life Can Teach.  By Calvin Schwartz  April 16, 2018












Panel discussion at Rutgers Hate Symposium



with with Houshang Parsa, Allison Antwi (Douglas Residential College) Prof Deborah Shuford, Calvin Schwartz, Jac Toporek, Dr. Felicia McGinty, Vice Chancellor Rutgers Student Affairs at Symposium

I’ve had the hardest time (for the past two days) coming up with a title for this article. Usually titles are instantaneous for me. I need to make sure the title is understood. I’ve been privileged, with a little help from synchronicity, to have been present at special women’s events, which have fired my cerebral process, moved me up on the learning curves of awareness, sensitivity and knowledge.

Indeed, what an amazing 15 days; gifted to have absorbed, observed and learned. Cut to Tuesday March 27 at the Rutgers Business School for “A Presidential Symposium-Fighting Hate While Preserving Freedom: A Best Practices Forum.” The list of speakers beyond accomplished, from Jeh Johnson, Former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Deborah Poritz, Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, Ronald K. Chen, Co-Dean Rutgers Law School, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, Co-Founder and President, Islamic Society of Basking Ridge, Rabbi Francine Roston, Kalispell, Montana, Imam Khalid Latif, Islamic Center at New York University, etc.

I sat for eight hours, taking notes, listening intently, dreaming of a time in the world, when hate is gone. We need to realize that we together are all that there is  to save our species. We’re all brothers and sisters on this insignificant speck of a planet in the middle of a complicated fragile universe and earth time is rapidly running out, passing the climatological and social tipping point.

“Mother, what did I learn in school today!” My NOTES from the symposium:  No one is born to hate. Love is natural. You can kill an enemy but not defeat an enemy. There is strength in diversity. New Jersey is the most diverse state; Rutgers the most diverse public university. Those who forget history are condemned to relive it. (I love that line from philosopher George Santayana).  Best weapons against hate is students and young people. Interfaith partnerships can help prevent expressions of hate. Why an uptake in hate? Is it because a decrease in funding for mental health? The opposite of hate is not love, but indifference.

I could fill several pages with my notes. Last paragraph was a brief extraction. What interested and annoyed, were two student hecklers, yelling and screaming just in front of me. I’m not even sure what they were protesting. A Rutgers official went over to talk to them. They continued their outbursts. At lunch break, I asked why they were not thrown out. An official replied, “First Amendment; they have a right to hate, protest and yell.” To which I smiled, replied, “La-di-dah.”



Hillary with scheduling secretary Lona Valmoro & Eagleton moderator Ruth Mandel


part of the audience for Conversation with Hillary Clinton

A few days later, on Thursday March 29th Hillary Clinton came to speak at Rutgers Athletic Center. The demand for tickets forced the change in venue from the old barn gym to the RAC. I love journalism, being with NJ Discover and wearing my press pass, sitting in the press box with a perfect view of the almost sold-out crowd, including gym floor seating. What I did notice right away was the demographics; it would appear in an unscientific visual appraisal that 80% of the audience were young women.

Hillary Clinton was there to empower young people, women, to go out, register, vote and change things. This was not a political conversation but charge to young people of all persuasions to be involved, vote and work to make a better world. “We all need to be talking about where the country is going.” She mentioned the challenge to convince women to get involved despite how hard it is but so well worth it. If you are new to politics, it’s easy to get discouraged. Biggest challenge is to keep momentum, build coalitions, but all for naught if you don’t show up and vote. She got a resounding applause when she said, “Missing John McCain’s voice which stands up for democracy.”



from my vantage point in the Press box for Hillary Clinton

A bit of a redundant epiphany. When I captioned a picture that I took of the event, and placed it on social media, almost immediately, a woman harshly commented on Hillary Clinton and my being there. I never respond to comments or engage anyone on social media. Wasted energy. I know our political world is dramatically polarized along party lines. No earthly power is changing red to blue or vice versa. So, I broke my rule and commented on her comment. “I’m a journalist covering an event which fascinated sociologically.” To which she responded, “Oh!”

A few days later, on April 3rd, I attended ‘The Douglass Century Book Launch’ at Douglass College Student Center. “Douglass was founded in 1918 as the New Jersey College for Women with 54 students and 12 books in its library.”  Indeed, it has grown to 2600 undergraduate students and over 39,000 alumni. Three Rutgers faculty/professors collaborated on ‘The Douglass Century- Transformation of The Women’s College at Rutgers University,’ Kayo Denda, Mary Hawkesworth and Fernanda Perrone. The event consisted of an Author’s Panel and Alumni and Faculty Panel discussions.  What an absolutely wonderful book!




The Douglass Century


Douglass Panel Discussion

Some themes of the night were how important women’s education, the history of Douglass and the New Jersey College for Women; how in 1915, there was a door to door campaign for $1.00 to raise $100, 000 to establish the school; how the school was not born diverse, with no Catholics, Jews, African-Americans under founder Mabel Douglass; how in 1968, 4% of the students were of color; how arguments surfaced, with Harvard philosophers, on the inappropriateness of educating women because of lower marriage rates of college educated women-all arguments against educating women; how CAWP at Eagleton is the first research institution for women in politics; how in 2017, 67% of Douglass women are of color, 8 %  non-traditional age, 19% Latin, 23% Asian. What are challenges now? In 1930’s, there were 2000 Women’s Colleges; now there are 34.

In a panel with Maurice(Mo) Lee Jr. who came to Douglass in 1966 and retired in 1996, he mentioned Professor Genovese at Rutgers New Brunswick, welcoming the impending victory of North Vietnam and Rutgers President Mason Gross not firing him. I immediately thought back to the symposium on Hate, and the students yelling and protesting and not being thrown out. The same First Amendment issues; a fascinating tie-in to last week.

In 1965, I reminisced, that I had a date with a Douglass student. We were sitting downstairs in the lounge at Katzenbach dorm just past 10PM when a Rutgers police officer escorted me out. The curfew was 10 PM. I’d witnessed history and how far I’ve come.

At the conclusion, I waited in line for the authors to sign my copy of their book along with two hundred or so women at the lecture. Demographics were 90% women. While in line, a woman asked why I was here, to which I smiled, and said, “I’m a journalist covering, learning, experiencing, growing.” To which she said, “Oh.”



with actor Armand Assante at Garden State Film Festival for Artist Nation TV and NJ Discover






Watch how this next part of the story develops. Back on Friday, March 23rd. I attended the Garden State Film Festival Cocktail Party and Opening night Gala. Two hundred people in Convention Hall; many filmmakers, actors, actresses, media. I was covering the event for Artist Nation TV and NJ Discover. I always wear my Rutgers hat; my personal branding.  A woman approached and asked if I was a Rutgers professor because of my hat. I responded immediately, “I wish and dream about that.” The woman was Dr. Gloria Bachmann, MD.

Dr. Bachmann is the Interim Chair in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a Professor of Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (RWJMS), and the Obstetrics and Gynecology Service Chief at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, New Jersey. Also, at RWJMS she is the Director of the Women’s Health Institute and the Associate Dean for Women’s Health. So, on Tuesday April 10th, I spent time at Dr. Bachmann’s Women’s Health Institute Meeting in New Brunswick with researchers and students. Again, in such short periods of interim time, my mind was expanded.



At the Women’s Health Institute with research team, students nd Dr Gloria Bachmann on Tuesday


with Dr Gloria Bachmann

I saw an animated film for children that they developed to explain, ever so gently, the topic of transgender. There were also discussions on female athletes (minimizing effects of injury), herbs and their mechanics, autism, One Health Initiative (Humans, Animals, Environment) cancer and aquariums. Of course, my passion in all of the above learning curves and observations is how much Rutgers is doing academically, clinically, sociologically and how NJ Discover’s platform can help tell their story, shout it out here in Central Jersey and beyond. On Monday April 16th I’ll be at a lecture on transgenders in the military. There are 1.4 million transgendered Americans.

It is a brave new synchronistic interconnected world. Best way to end this article, is who would have ever thought all this goes down in a couple of weeks of mind expansion.  The secret is to get off the sedentary sofa, explore and never stop. Wearing a hat helps too.

August 12, 2017

A Continuing Journey to Autism Awareness: My Day with “A Chance to Dance” Troupe at World Dance Championships. But There is so Much More Here. By Calvin Schwartz August 12th 2017

A Continuing Journey to Autism Awareness: My Day with “A Chance to Dance” Troupe at World Dance Championships. But There is so Much More Here.  By Calvin Schwartz   August 10th 2017













photo op in the garden


Awareness began 17 months ago when I interviewed an executive at The Graduate School of Applied Psychology at Rutgers University.  Rutgers was undertaking a program involving adult autism services. The first part would be employing special needs candidates at the university with a graduate student mentoring each person. Secondly, enrolling students that qualify and housing them in a special residential hall also with a mentoring roommate. My article from April 2016:

My awareness process began. I was dispatched on a learning curve and spent time at Hope Autism Solutions in Basking Ridge. Journalism pulled me in different directions until a few months ago, when a special synchronicity put me together with Bob Salomon from ‘Beyond the Laces.’





staging area near performance time


trophies in waiting

Bob introduced me (social media) to Kimberly Pace Smith, the teacher and coach of a dance troupe in Charlotte, North Carolina called ‘A Chance to Dance;’ the group composed of ten children (six on the autism spectrum but with other special needs). What was so outstanding; ‘A Chance to Dance’ was featured on a Today Show video, which has garnered some 34 million views as I write this. Video:

Meanwhile, Kimberly’s dance class troupe was invited to compete in the World Dance Championships being held at the Meadowlands Expo Center here in New Jersey.  Perhaps this article is an excavation into intestinal linings to find the right words to express.  I was entering a special needs world; a world of love, caring, patience, relevance and determination. A journey began. People to meet and miles to drive.




Its about the kids so Kimberly and I did a silhouette selfie


up the ramp to the stage

A few weeks ago, we connected. I knew background info as I googled my way around ‘A Chance to Dance.’ Kimberly has a “differently-abled daughter” so with her love of dance, fierce determination to give children ways (arts) to express themselves and through ‘Reagan’s Wish,’ a charity inspired by her daughter, ‘A Chance to Dance’ became reality. Kim believes in never giving up.

I asked how the notion of competing at the World Dance Championship arrived. It was something originally out of the realm of financial practicality until “a woman handed us $10,000 and funded the whole trip.”  She explained, “We’re going for two reasons. Being in Jersey at the Worlds is a bigger platform to raise awareness for special needs. And other countries will be there and children with special needs are considered less than and all kids are just as capable.”





Kimberly readying the team on stage


the perfect performance

The date for their competition was Tuesday August Kim and I met in the hotel lobby at 9 AM. I was easy to spot in the lobby; my red Rutgers hat. We hugged with the emotion of first-time meeting and why we were there. Kim explained, “for the kids this is all about self-confidence and realizing social skills and that they have friends. There are ten kids-all with different special needs. Six out of ten on autism spectrum and with additional needs.”  Kim also thanked the volunteers who are always there, Miss Donna’s School of Dance and the kids and parents for making this all work.

Next, Kim introduced me to Sarah Nelson Conklin, an incredibly talented freelance photographer, travelling with the dance team who were assembling in the hotel garden for a photo-op. What I noticed as the kids got ready for a group picture, was a radiant smile on all their faces.




Kimberly and special volunteers; a prideful moment watching


improv dancing after performance

Kim asked me to say a few words to the parents; my special journey.  What I learned is that government services work for the kids until they finish 12th grade and enter adulthood. When they age out, there is little support structure. It’s like the government walks away. And parents worry about their kids. I was moved as parents came over to me, intrigued and hopeful that the initiatives I spoke about would be in place when it was time for their kids. This was their shared concern.

To the Expo center.  This was the World Dance Championships. Teams began congregating in an organized assembly line starting in the lobby filled with red-carpet backdrops for photos. A Chance to Dance team posed with parents, individually and as a team, all the kids still smiling. The wait was long and tenuous until the team finally moved inside and sat near the stage. The show hall was cavernous, intimidating and frighteningly loud with a few thousand spectators. But the kids maintained composure, still smiling and some, practicing their dancing moves.




Best Performance Team of World Dance Championships


Kimberly Pace Smith & photographer Sarah Nelson Conklin and some of team celebrating in NYC after competition.

The kids were spirited as they moved into the staging areas, slowly, inexorably moving closer to their walk on stage to perform.  I was part of this moment, hugely excited. And then I went introspective and realized how privileged it was to be part of this.

Backstage, I watched A Chance To Dance poised and confident. The music, ‘Singing in the Rain’ echoed and Ava strolled with her pink umbrella. They were costumed impeccably right down to the pink bows in the girl’s hair and pink ties for the boys. They were perfect. I watched Kimberly watch them on the other side of the stage. I took pictures; Kimberly’s pride and love evident.

Post-performance, the kids posed on the media platform.  And then the laborious waiting for the results, first inside the hall where the kids just started to dance again, improvisational, still filled with so much energy.  Kim told me that in 2015, they started A Chance To Dance, “with the seat of our pants. It took months for the kids to just trust each other and us. Then like a light switch, everything took.”

Yes, everything did take. The kids took Best Performance Award at World Dance Championships and I took home memories of one of the best days in a life. And those kids, indelible, precious and inspiring. I needed this.







Calvin & friend

October 8, 2014

RAMBLINGS: Shoulder replacement surgery/update. Water water everywhere. From the ‘horse’s mouth; what/why may be happening to Central Park horse carriage rides. Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to Newark City Schools. My haunting tale(Rutgers) of synchronicity from the 400,000 Peoples Climate March in NYC on Sept 21st. October 9, 2014

RAMBLINGS: Shoulder replacement surgery/update. Water water everywhere. From the ‘horse’s mouth; what/why may be happening to Central Park horse carriage rides. Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million donation to Newark City Schools. My haunting tale(Rutgers) of synchronicity from the 400,000 Peoples Climate March in NYC on Sept 21st.                                              October 9, 2014


My freshman crew cut in 1963

My freshman crew cut in 1963




I love my ‘improv’ rambling adventures; I have a list of folks wanting to come along. Maybe I should charter a small bus like Kenny Kramer(the inspiration for Seinfeld’s character Cosmo Kramer) did and a conduct tours of New Jersey and perhaps even venture across the Hudson. This particular blog installment will ramble around diverse subjects. I prefer to be brief and provocative; thanks to my prodigal son for pointing me in this direction.








40 minutes after getting stitches taken out. a selfie on 2nd ave

40 minutes after getting stitches taken out. a selfie on 2nd ave

what a titanium shoulder looks like

what my titanium shoulder looks like



Six weeks ago (August 26th) at this exact moment (from now October 8th 12:30pm) I opened up my eyes in the recovery room at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York after the amazing Dr. David Altchek sawed out my tired old arthritic shoulder bones and replaced with titanium making me  bionic of sorts. Last month, I blogged about why I crossed the Hudson River from central Jersey to have surgery. There are reasons; one being, that in all this time I have NOT taken one single pain med (pill); not in six weeks and now my mobility is coming back as if nothing happened. Yes, sometimes there are reasons to cross rivers or mountain ranges for medical care.

The world of free water troubles me. The water table in Northern India has dropped a foot over the years. Will water become the new ‘oil’ and precious commodity? Countries might go into a boxing ring with gloves or grenades over jurisdiction.  Corporations are quietly seizing the opportunity. Boutique water in plastic bottles proliferates to the corner general store at an arctic outpost. Water is a basic human right as it is essential for life. The United Nations recognizes this basic human right. A judge in Detroit recently upheld cutting off water to people who can’t afford to pay their water bills. And just you wait Henry Higgins; just you wait (from ‘My Fair Lady’) until private /global corporations get their greedy huge hands on the water business; “dystopia Mon amour.” (I just made this phrase up)



me with horse # 1

me with horse # 1

at Book Expo with something taller than me

at Book Expo with something taller than me



Back last May, I took the Jersey Transit bus into New York City to go to International Book Expo where 100,000 people, give or take, head to Javits Convention Center for three days to absorb every aspect of the publishing business, meet popular authors and cart away as many free books as their vertebrae and  endless autograph lines allow. Once off the bus, I play games with myself and walk wherever the prevailing wind directs me towards Javits. I couldn’t tell you on what street (36th ?) but suddenly I was standing next to a horse outside of a midtown stable. I was fascinated with the picture; a horse near skyscrapers reaching to heaven all in one frame. Then ‘DQ’ walked out and I identified myself as a journalist from Jersey. I mentioned Mayor DeBlasio wanting to get rid of all the horses and carriages that do the century old rides in Central Park. ‘DQ’ asked if I’d like to hear the other story. First he gave me a quick tour of the stable and showed me several horses that looked pristine and not a mark on them. They were off that day and were just showered and fed. ‘DQ’ told me certain real estate interests contributed to DeBlasio’s campaign which promised to get rid of the horses. If they succeed, then this stable ‘disappears’ and those real estate interests get to build a condo on this stable site that reaches for their heaven. Time will tell.




at Peoples Climate March sitting on a stoop with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont & Mia Hathoway

at Peoples Climate March sitting on a stoop with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont & Mia Hathoway


with Mayor of Bristol England George Feguson & Mia Hathoway

with Mayor of Bristol England George Feguson & Mia Hathoway


I was involved in the very first Earth Day back on April 22, 1970; knowing then we only had one planet. No planet B to fall back on. Through most of the sixties, when I was in college, I sported a crew cut (short hair) mostly because I was in a professional college (Pharmacy).  My hair today rivals in length and unruliness the sixties hippie look. I didn’t get to the March on Washington on August 28th 1963 because I lacked the soul and energy to be there; one of the great mistakes of my life. When it was time for Woodstock in August, 1969, I managed to get my hand on a car-door handle and almost go to the musical festival but my fiancé caught me and warned me not to go. So I didn’t go and regretted right up to now. Three years later, I divorced that girl.

The years have passed and I’ve known that my molecular make-up would never let me miss another chance to express my inner soul. Four days before the 400,000 People’s Climate March in New York City, with my arm still in a sling as it was four weeks after my major shoulder replacement surgery, I knew I’d be there.






the random pix amidst 400,000 people marching with 2 Rutgers students

the random pix amidst 400,000 people marching with 2 Rutgers students

the very next night with the same Rutgers student at an Eagleton lecture.

the very next night with the same Rutgers student at an Eagleton lecture.



It was a magnificent experience to inhale the same atoms of air that 400,000 people were sharing. My eyes and ears absorbed the coming of all those souls dedicated and determined to raise awareness and make a difference. It was two hours before the march when I got to the city to begin absorption. I’ll leave the elements of my experience for a later blog but must comment on the universal forces of haunting synchronicity that were extant.

An hour into the march, a man in a yellow tee-shirt bumped into my good shoulder and we talked. He was George Ferguson, the Mayor of Bristol, England. George mentioned being at an event a few days earlier with several American mayors one of whom was a young dynamic force. I told him it had to be Mayor Steve Fulop from Jersey City whom I was with a few weeks before. An hour later, all of a sudden, I’m in the middle of a contingent of Rutgers students. What are the odds? Being an alumnus, I find ways to get on Rutgers campus 60 or so times a year. With my Rutgers cap prominent, I randomly asked two students for a photo-op.





at the Eagleton lecture with Dr. Robert Curvin

at the Eagleton lecture with Dr. Robert Curvin


I held the camera way over my head for a perspective absorbtion shot of  part of the 400,000 people.

I held the camera way over my head for a perspective absorbtion shot of part of the 400,000 people.

The next night I was at Rutgers Eagleton Institute in New Brunswick for a lecture, “Inside Newark: Decline, Rebellion, and the Search for Transformation” by author, Professor Robert Curvin who wrote this book. I’m from Newark and that’s the energy which brought me to his lecture. Forty minutes before the lecture, a Rutgers student sitting in front of me got up to get water. She was the same student whom I took a picture with the day before amidst 400,000 people. In disbelief, we took another pix together.

I remembered when Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) gave $100 million to the school children of Newark, N.J. in 2010.  Dr. Curvin mentioned (to my dismay) that, “$33 million went to back pay for teachers, to appease the union.” And $12 million went for bonus to teachers for hard work.

And I wonder about the school children of Newark where I grew up, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the synchronistic forces in the universe.  And it’s 10:23 PM and I know where my prodigal son is.



PLEASE WATCH FOR THE LAUNCH OF  a unique internet magazine experience


February 26, 2014

MY INTERVIEW FOR HEALTH FITNESS REVOLUTION WITH SAMIR BECIC Powerful Reading. February 26, 2014 | Rutgers, Jersey shore


And once again thanks to Samir Becic and Health Fitness Revolution at




Calvin Schwartz, friend to Health Fitness Revolution founder Samir Becic, graduated from Rutgers University in 1969 with two science degrees and spent over 25 years in sales management. Along the road of personal reinvention and healthy life style change there were several trips to Sedona, Arizona for barefoot, red- mountain vortex climbing and decades of Jersey shore jetty sitting with concomitant Atlantic Ocean salt air inhalations.  Calvin believes a lifetime involved with the Jersey shore has fueled his soulful and creative energies. What followed was an evolution to spirituality, environmentalism, trans-humanism (looking for ways to live to 150 years without overdosing on broccoli). Four years ago, his first novel ‘Vichy Water’ was published and then he morphed into a journalist, producer and writer for NJ Discover (TV & Radio) and New Jersey-The Shore Thing.  He covers music, environment, people, homelessness and hunger in New Jersey.  Several book projects are also in development.


1.         What prompted you to begin your journey into healthy living? Did you have an “aha” moment?

I’ve gone through several stages (passages) through the revolving doors of healthy living. Beginning back in high school, my mother was a ‘health’ disciplinarian and guided me towards the value of healthy eating. In college I continued with her notions, with occasional detours through ‘Animal House.’ Then one day I graduated Pharmacy School, got married and divorced and a funny thing happened; I was officially welcomed into middle age. All this time, I viewed myself at the fringe of healthy living; there was that awareness. In 1965 as a sophomore at Rutgers University, I began to take a cocktail of supplements approaching 40 a day, in a passing fancy that I could slow down the inevitability of aging. So healthy living has been in my consciousness for a long time. In 1975, I did stop eating animals with four legs; the reasons complex, sociological and blonde; but curiously, a healthy thing for me to do.

Middle age, a second marriage and an abandonment of the principles of healthy life styles took hold. For completely inexplicable reasons, I picked up a pack of French cigarettes and began a ten year smoking habit.  ‘Me’ of all people who had been so violently anti-smoking and proud of my excessive vital lung capacity began to smoke. I don’t know why. Then again maybe I do; some deep seeded psycho-drama that needed resolution with personal fulfillment, spirituality, creativity and an understanding of the universe;  present day Calvin.

This nightmarish ten year period of excesses, gluttony, smoking and no exercise culminated one fine morning with a few hard dull bitter realizations; better known as the “aha” moment in a life. There it was, a non-spiral staircase leading to the second floor of my house that I could not ascend without gasping for breath by the time I reached the top. My great vital lung capacity had vanished into a debilitated state of not being able to breathe walking up a few steps. I caught my breath (robbed by cigarettes and excessive weight) and planted both feet firmly on a bathroom scale (first time in years so the scale had accumulated dust). I wiped the read out so I could plainly see that I was now a 351 pound middle age man who couldn’t breathe a few moments earlier walking up steps. Now I must admit that this excessive weight had been somewhat clandestine as I’m 6’ 5 ½” and big boned so it was easy to fool the people close to me including myself. That night was a restless night, tossing and turning and staring at a clock radio’s face. When I drifted off to sleep, it was probably after 4:44 AM.

If only I could capture (bottle) the molecules and ions in the air of my bedroom that morning when I awoke; the universe and spirit had come into my soul. It was the ‘aha’ moment of a life time. It was Cher slapping my face and telling me to “snap out of it.” It was that defining moment in a life. It saved my life. The tossing and turning had convinced me I was dying and perhaps quickly. My wife and pillar of support woke up as I was standing at the foot of the bed. “Today is the day I take care of all family business. I’m going on a diet, stopping smoking and exercising. I’m going to save my life.” To which she responded, “No one stops smoking and loses weight. Do one or the other.”

A force in the universe had taken hold and held me tight. I did throw away my cigarettes and never went back. I created my own diet by embracing sound healthful living standards but consumed a sparse caloric intake. Every night I walked a mile.

Cut to 2 ½ months later when I weighed myself at 251 pounds. It was hard to believe but the energies of the universe had given me the strength to continue obsessively and dramatically into a 100 pound weight loss and cut to two summers later when I had the stamina to play 6 ½ hours of tennis straight on a hot summer day. The ability of the body to heal and rejuvenate is a marvel as is spirit to guide. The day I began was July 21, 1989 and all is well today with moderation, maintenance and faith and I still take a varied 40 supplements a day.



along my precious Jersey shore

winter along my precious Jersey shore


2          Please tell us about your story and your journey.

I was going to answer this question eventually on my own in book form; it has ingredients for an emotional quirky fascinating story of personal journey. So perhaps this is a propitious time to collect my thoughts and see if I can spin a rather succinct answer. As mentioned earlier, I went to Rutgers Pharmacy School; mostly because my mother’s brother was a pharmacist. Growing up, I endured relentless subliminal and vociferous pharmaceutical career entrapments by my mother. Freedom of career choice was non-existent. Most vocational tests I took pointed towards history and English. Stern warnings from guidance counselors implored avoidance of scientific and mathematical pursuits which made-up the entire five year Pharmacy curriculum. For twelve years, I practiced the profession, sometimes tumultuously (union organizer) but certainly longingly; there must be something else out there.

Then one February morning in 1981, a spiritual sense overcame me; it was time to move on with life. With my amazingly supportive wife in hand, a few hours after being overcome, I auditioned for the role of Frankenstein’s monster in a local community theater production of an ill-fated Broadway play. With no acting experience and an inability to read a script correctly, I did not get the part (their loss as I’m 6’5” and needed no height embellishment). Six months elapsed while I spent each day in front of a television with a jar of spicy brown mustard nearby to flavor all the junk food consumed daily. Imagination told me I was trying to find a direction for the rest of a life and mustard seasoned the quest. Actually I was flirting with the nadir.

Along came a relative that sat down beside me (sounds like a spider) and helped me get a job selling eyeglasses here in New Jersey. Having never sold anything before and being somewhat shy and reclusive, this sales gig was a stretch into desperation. But I was a newlywed and needed to be a provider and hunter. After a few months, something was happening to me with interpersonal skills and communicative ability; I possessed them and was flourishing and liked selling to optical people. Two years into this gig, I was recruited by the largest eyewear company in the world where I stayed for 25 years; the first 12 as a regional manager.

My inner-self, fulfillment and creativity had been suppressed for a long time with monetary success selling eyeglasses. Restlessness began surfacing; certain energies kept me awake nights well into the early morning. On February 4th 2004 at 4:44 AM, I was escorted into the wondrous world of spirituality; real, omnipresent and haunting in the most precious way. Indeed I was gifted and have been grateful every day of my life since. Many months later on a rainy Sunday morning when I couldn’t play tennis because of the weather and sought to channel my pent-up energy, something in the universe made me watch the movie ‘Casablanca’ and at the very last scene (which I’ve seen 44 times before) something happened to me and in a split second, an entire novel was camped-out in my cerebral chamber. I ran downstairs and outlined my novel, ‘Vichy Water’ which was published in 2010. From 2009 until 2011, I worked on the marketing and publishing of my novel, having left my sales position and concurrently slipped into the comforts of Social Security collection. I must also point out that most of my formal education centered on science courses; there was no formal writing or English training.

Often through the times of writing, the wonderment of the journey precipitated deep soulful inhalations and exhalations; how was this all happening?  Sometimes I almost felt a hand taking and leading me. Writing was never my world so what was the deal?  In July, 2011, I got an email from a writer’s group informing me of a journalist position for a local county newspaper. With no journalism experience, I went on an interview and became a local county reporter. The assistant editor liked my energy and style; within three months I was up to three separate columns. Spirit was everywhere in my life. Waking up each day was an adventure. Where was this all going?  Spiritually on October 10th 2011, I removed a great negativity (relation) from my life; painful and confusing. The universe guided me. The next night the universe rewarded me when my assistant editor, Tara-Jean Vitale, introduced me to the head of NJ Discover; a production, television, radio and news feature company.

The rest of days until now have been filled with revelations, accomplishments and worlds beyond my wildest dreams. Imagine little old me (well entrenched with my AARP card) hanging out with rock musicians and covering the music scene, writing and producing for NJ Discover, focusing on homelessness and hunger in New Jersey, becoming a feature writer for NJ-The Shore Thing magazine and starting my own live radio talk show through NJ Along the way, I’ve been asked to write a biography of a world famous musician; quite a journey.

Throughout this renaissance in my life, I’ve explored, studied and practiced healthful living. Age is a state of mind. I can do anything I did when I was 40 nearly 28 years ago. The body wants to live to 150 years. Our species just mess up the opportunity. A healthy life style and attitude keeps you rolling along. I hang out with 25 year old rock musicians and it’s just hanging out; there is no age barrier; all positive mental attitude, faith, confidence and desire. I push myself into the modern world, social media and networking. A few months ago I met Samir Becic who illuminated me and now I’m answering his questions on how I got here. It is a wonderful world and life.



at the jersey shore and by my jetty during hurricane earl.

at the jersey shore and by my jetty during hurricane earl.



3)   What were some of the challenges you faced along your journey to healthy lifestyle?

When I decided to make changes in my life style, knowing I weighed 351 pounds, hadn’t exercised and smoked for ten years, also knowing the whole notion of fixing my life style was overwhelming; like being an ant or amoeba (I get visualizations often) standing at the foot of Mount Everest about to ascend to the summit. The challenge of effecting a lifestyle change and beginning with so much to overcome, giving up food and nicotine, addictive substances in their own right, was daunting. How do you this? Where do you begin? Rationalizations of giving one or the other up were hard to absorb. It just all seemed pointless and impossible. Therein resided the greatest challenge I ever faced.

How do I approach myself and plunge into this herculean task? The challenge was to take everything a day at a time and to stay focused. I needed to keep my mind active and busy focusing on music which conjured up positive memories. Everywhere I went for those 2 ½ months, I had my 60’s music to keep me on that magic carpet of memory energy. Memories and dreams are powerful; it was a challenge to collect these on a daily basis and fuel the energy needed to diet, keep from smoking and to exercise every day in spite of the steep odds against me and the difficulty of losing massive weight and giving up smoking.

I was doing it for my extending my time here on earth and the continuing challenge was to battle the realization every day of the gravity of failure. There could never be failure. Twenty-five years later (which is a cool quarter century) from those healthy pursuit challenging days, I sit here in my office filled with gratitude and expressing myself to help others. It’s all good stuff; the right stuff.



a few weeks ago almost at center court at Rutgers Athletic Centet

a few weeks ago almost at center court at Rutgers Athletic Centet

 4)   How do you feel your life has been improved by your lifestyle change? What are some of the positive manifestations of you being healthier?


This may be my favorite question; the answer with the most practicality showing a better life style. It reminds me of an old Super Bowl commercial (Super Bowl is two days away) where an elderly woman yells “Where’s the Beef?” This is the beef and rewards of a lifestyle change. Remember I take 40 supplements a day, don’t eat anything with four legs, do 90 minutes of exercise a day, take time to meditate and envelop my world with spirituality.

I am going to be 69 years old in August. Most people meeting me for the first time think I just turned 50. I think and act perhaps like 40. In my life now as a journalist, producer, radio talk-show host, music journalist and college sports aficionado, I’m immersed in a much younger world, often with rock musicians or college basketball players, engaging them and hanging out. Eight years ago I auditioned for Donald Trump’s The Apprentice at 60 years old. Why? Because I knew I’d be able to compete with the twenty or thirty something contestants. And I got pretty far in the process until I backed off; I wasn’t in the mood to spend my summer in a tent in Los Angeles if my Apprentice team lost an event.

Where am I going citing my current life style? The point being (as my 28 year old son always says) is this lifestyle change allows me (bought me) a few more decades of extremely active life style. Cerebrally I’m functioning as a 40 year old. I think I’m sharper today than I’ve ever been; surely maturity and decades of experience come into play. But I have the confidence because I feel so alive and vibrant to engage anyone; I’ll talk to anyone about anything; a healthy mind as a result of a lifestyle change and maintenance.

I’ve become a big fan of telomeres; tips of chromosomes which protect cerebral cells that wither with age. Exercise rejuvenates them. I’m willing to bet I’ve got telomeres like a thirty year old. Exercise may obviate the onset of diabetes. I’m almost 69 and hang around without diabetes when all four of my grandparents had it. So there is something to lifestyle change.

I continue in a life style of creativity and personal growth as if I were two decades younger. It is a wonderful life and it’s all because I had the vision, spirit and determination to implement life style change. One of my favorite pastimes is engaging someone in talk and somehow working my age (always look for the perfect segue) into the conversation and then watch the facial disbelief when my age comes out. Usually I’m older than their parents or as old as their grandparents and they may’ve just given me their newly released rock music CD to review. It’s like an old black and white television commercial. “Better Living Through….Lifestyle Change.”


after hosting my NJ Discover radio show with Tara-Jean Vitale & guests Prof. Tim Smith fr Rutgers & Rutgers Drumline members who performed at Super Bowl & with U2/Bono for Jimmy Fallon/Tonight Show

after hosting my NJ Discover radio show with Tara-Jean Vitale & guests Prof. Tim Smith fr Rutgers & Rutgers Drumline members who performed at Super Bowl & with U2/Bono for Jimmy Fallon/Tonight Show




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Facebook:  Cal Schwartz

Calvin Schwartz-Cerebral Writer

Twitter:  @earthood

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