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February 21, 2015

Me and Meryl Streep: Particulates of My Acting Career or Could I Have Been a Contender? A Blog in Honor of the Upcoming Academy Awards. Calvin Schwartz February 21, 2015

what i looked like when i crashed that private Prince concert at Club USA

what i looked like when i crashed that private Prince concert at Club USA



When I was young, impressionable and growing tall quickly as if I were a weed growing in soil enriched with radon, I liked going to the movies (25 cents) especially to see John Wayne. We were the same height when I stopped ascension. Wayne’s father was a pharmacist and so was I for a while; enough commonality for me to list him as one of my favorite actors. And I suppose deep inside my subconscious were fantasy elements of becoming an actor so that one day I might walk on a red-carpet with people yelling my name in adulation. Perhaps many of us imagine acting at one point. However, the smell of greasepaint and roar of a crowd was never strong enough to send me down the acting career path but there were brief episodes of tip-toeing which is what this blog is all about. Maybe it means I never had the right stuff and intestinal fortitude to knock on Lee Strasberg’s acting school door.





at a dinner at NY Hilton  with James Earl  Jones & Dr. Ruth who orchestrated pix

at a dinner at NY Hilton with James Earl Jones & Dr. Ruth who orchestrated pix back in the 90’s


me and Dr Ruth at a Rutgers lecture. She's standing up

me and Dr Ruth at a Rutgers lecture a few months ago. She’s standing up



By 1981, I had been a pharmacist for 12 years and grew weary. Looking back on the whole career choice deal, it really was my mother who pushed me into the profession of dispensing medicine because her brother and two nephews were druggists. I was always confused by the word’ druggist’ and chuckle when I realize no one really uses it anymore.  There was always a restlessness in my soul; hard to define, explain or understand. On the morning of February 8th, 1981, I heard a voice that told me to quit Pharmacy and move on. When that voice disappeared, another real voice on an easy listening radio channel I listened to on Sunday mornings told of try-outs being held at the Edison Valley Playhouse for the play ‘Frankenstein’ which had opened and closed in one day on Broadway. This was divine intervention at its most theatrical. Here I am quitting my profession and being apprised at the same moment of an acting gig of playing Frankenstein monster.  I was physically perfect for the part at 6’5” tall.







with Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller. I wished them a Happy Festivus

with Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller. I wished them a Happy Festivus

a group shot at NY Hilton

a group shot at NY Hilton


I drove to the Edison Valley Playhouse and filled out a resume which highlighted my only relevant acting ‘credit’ as pretending I was ‘Frankenstein’ and scaring my young sister Hildy. Then they handed me a script and I went on stage. Having never seen a script before, I even read the material in the parentheses. I never realized the script called for the ‘monster’ to have a huge speaking part as the intent was to discover how the creature felt being put together with other human body parts. As they say, I’m still waiting for a call-back.

Next I got a call from a friend asking if I was still interested in acting. By that time, I drifted into optical sales management. The friend gave me casting information for ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ starring Robert De Niro and told me they are looking for ‘big’ people. I’m tall(big) so I hastily put together, from old family Kodaks, a bit of a portfolio and sent it in to the casting director. Yes, I’m still waiting for a call-back. The film was released in 1984, the same year as George Orwell’s title novel.




with actress Aida Turturro from 'The Soprano's'

with actress Aida Turturro from ‘The Soprano’s’

with Henry Winkler.

with Henry Winkler.


As synchronicity and Kismet would have it with my non-acting career, my Uncle Dave, a successful movie and screenplay writer living in Beverly Hills, who wrote ‘Robin and the Seven Hoods’ for Frank Sinatra, came to visit my parents in New Jersey.  Of course I asked Uncle Dave how to break into acting and told him of my travails and feeble attempts. His heartfelt advice was for me to wait on tables in New York for ten years and enroll in the Lee Strasberg School of Acting and then call him. My reply sounded like Scrooge in ‘A Christmas Carol’ when I told him that “I am too old to change.” We shook hands, said goodbye and I was never to see him again.

The whole notion of celebrity and Hollywood was never far away from consciousness. One midnight after dinner and drinks with optical industry professionals in New York City, I was strolling down Broadway near Times Square and looked down the cross street at ‘Club USA’ and an extremely long line of people, many dressed for an early Halloween, waiting to get into the club, one of the hottest city night spots. I asked what was going on so late and why the lines? A flamboyant person responded, “Prince is coming at 2 AM to do a private concert but only celebrities are getting in.” I knew what to do. My hotel was near-by. I combed my long hair, put on a black leather coat and shades and went back to Club USA to the police and security check point. (See picture top left) They took one look at me, dispensed with checking the guest list, asked, “How you doing man? Go right in.” It was Howard Stern they supposedly let in not me. I hung-out on the arena-like second floor from which club-goers could gaze down and watch the happenings below. I smiled the whole time, still wearing my shades for protection and absorbed Prince and sociology, exiting via the fire escape after 4 AM.  My hair is much shorter today but longer than some hippies I met during a recent trip to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.


with actress Lesley Ann Warren

with actress Lesley Ann Warren


My scene in the movie 'The Soulless'

My scene in the movie ‘The Soulless’ with actor Michael Chartier


In September, 1989, I finished an optical company dinner at Gallagher’s on 52nd Street in New York City. My group congregated on the street which was lined with news vans and limos.  Curiosity propelled me down the street to investigate. It was the opening night for the revival play ‘Orpheus Descending’ starring Vanessa Redgrave at the Neil Simon Theater. I camped out by the stage door for an hour to watch celebrity guests leave then disappear into the city night in their limos.

After eleven I arrived back at my hotel, The Marriot Marquis in Times Square, got into an atrium elevator, pressed the eighth floor for the revolving bar and then looked down to see a ticket on the floor. My hands shook in disbelief. “Admit One Opening Night Cast Party” for ‘Orpheus Descending’ in the Grand Ballroom. I knew what to do. Still dressed in a suit from dinner, I gleefully rode the escalator to the ninth floor standing just behind Christopher Reeve. Before the security check-in, actress Amanda Plummer asked me for a cigarette. I preached; she walked away. My name was not on the guest list but I had a ticket and said to security, “My Uncle Lou Marx, the famous producer sent me the ticket. You do know Lou Marx?” They knew him and sent me inside to the ballroom. There never was a Uncle Lou Marx; an imaginary character.



I'm in the Christmas scene in this movie. a non-credit performance.

I’m in the Christmas scene in this movie. a non-credit performance.


'The Soulless' cast & crew

‘The Soulless’ cast & crew


Deciding not to sit and eat their food, I hung around a small bar refreshing my mineral water. Then John Bedford Lloyd, who played Tom Hanks’ brother in ‘Philadelphia’ called me over to his table, introduced me to his wife Anne Twomey who was in the play and said, “I know you but can’t place you.” We went back and forth. I exhorted, “You don’t know me and never met me. Trust me. That’s the only sure thing you’ll hear tonight.” I congratulated his wife on the play and knew it was time to exit.

In November, 1997 my sister Hildy called to tell me that a major motion picture starring Meryl Streep, Renee Zellweger and William Hurt was being filmed in our old hometown of Maplewood, New Jersey and do I want to watch them film a scene in the town center. Maplewood was right out of a Currier and Ives painting right down to the train station.(also the cover of my 1st novel, ‘Vichy Water’) The film, ‘One True Thing’ is based on Anna Quindlen’s novel and tells the story of Kate Gulden (Meryl Streep) who has cancer and daughter Ellen and husband George must confront their changing lives. Streep was nominated for a Best Actress Award.

When we arrived at 7PM, most of the town business district was barricaded and fake facades covered stores as the town in the movie was upstate New York in the late 80’s. After an hour, the police offered to let citizens go through the barricade onto the set for pizza or groceries at a Kings Market as they would not be shooting for several hours. Hildy and I opted for a slice of pizza.  We masticated a single slice each for two hours setting a time consumption record while watching a snow making machine for the Christmas scene. Suddenly the activity peaked so we walked out, leaving the crust, and stood underneath the art-deco marquis of the Maplewood Theater called Langhorne, the fictional town name.


Finally listed in the credits of a movie

Finally I’m listed in the credits of a movie

At Haight Ashbury. My hair is longer than his.

At Haight Ashbury. My hair is longer than his.


A few minutes passed and I sensed a presence next to me. Meryl Streep was right there followed by Renee Zellweger, William Hurt and Carl Franklin, the director. Slowly I turned and told her how much I admired her work and we had a bit of a conversation. Just then, a production assistant approached and assumed I was part of the entourage and said to me, “We have to place you now.” I gently elbowed my sister in the rib. We followed the assistant as he placed us right in the middle of the set.  He asked, “Do you know everything you have to say and do?” I said, “It’s been a long day. Please go over everything again.” So I was the ‘biggest’ actor in the Christmas tree lighting scene although I never got mentioned on IMDB. But I still have several copies of the movie. Eight months ago, my future daughter-in-law watched ‘One True Thing’ on cable. A few days later, at dinner, she mentioned seeing an actor in the movie that looked just like me.




Destiny's Bridge documentary.

Destiny’s Bridge documentary.

on the  set of another documentary in Philadelphia with Don Ward.

on the set of another documentary in Philadelphia with Don Ward.


With my success in ‘One True Thing,’ several years later, a friend called to tell me about auditions for Steven Spielberg’s ‘War of the Worlds’ which was  largely filmed in Newark, my orginal home town. On a Saturday morning after a deep scale dental cleaning, something came over me. I drove to Newark where the auditions were held. I had an acting resume now and stressed there are not many 6’5” actors around. Weeks later, I got a call from casting. I chickened out not wanting to take off work for eight days but told them if anything else came up to call.  On the following Monday morning, they called again, offering me another extra part. Their persistence went to my head. Now I wanted a guarantee for screen time. Casting laughed, “Even Tom Cruise doesn’t get that.”  I messed up. I could’ve been a contender.

Recently I received a credit acknowledgement for my assistance in Jack Ballo’s powerful riveting documentary, ‘Destiny’s Bridge’ dealing with a tent city of homeless people in Lakewood, New Jersey. As a journalist now, I became very aware and involved in homelessness and hunger in America.

Finally, a few years ago, friend and film maker Chris Eilenstine asked me to write a story on the making of his New Jersey based zombie film, ‘The Soulless,’ a cerebral, surreal and haunting tale of zombies and survival.  He also asked if I liked to be in the movie as well; to be a zombie with four hours of make-up or a reporter playing myself, interviewing a guilty scientist. I’m a reporter in the movie who gets eaten alive by zombies. That didn’t faze me. Now I have real acting credits and a page on IMDB. It took 34 years but who’s rushing. “Hey Uncle Dave look at me now and I never waited on tables.”

Book Trailer:

my novel  cover is the Maplewood train station

my novel cover is the Maplewood train station

September 2, 2014

‘IT’S A ‘SAD, SAD, SAD, SAD WORLD.’ Surgeons and Hospitals: why you cross a river for surgery. Writing a Second Novel. 9-2-14

  ‘IT”S A ‘SAD, SAD, SAD, SAD WORLD.’  Surgeons and Hospitals: why you cross a river for surgery.  Writing a Second Novel.           Calvin Schwartz 9-2-14


contemplating in a Princeton University courtyard.

contemplating in a Princeton University courtyard.




A few hours ago, the news spread that another American journalist was beheaded. My mind is all over the place. I rarely write politics perhaps because when you reach a certain age you begin to see things differently; a world that can’t get together and sign the Kyoto protocol to protect our environment; a world back in September, 1938 when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain came back from a meeting with Hitler and uttered, “Peace for our Time.”  To mood myself, I just listened to Barry McGuire sing “The Eve of Destruction” from 1965. I was 20.  Every few years, I watch the totally silly movie, ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World’ and I laugh and laugh. And now I’d like to write a few hundred pages why it is a sad sad sad sad world with truth and consequences.  Maybe I will one day soon.




with niece well below the earth in crystal cave bermuda

with niece well below the earth in crystal cave bermuda


interviewing actor Michael Chartier in scene in movie 'The Soulless'

interviewing actor Michael Chartier in scene in movie ‘The Soulless’


Before going on, here are a few comments about surgeons and hospitals and why sometimes you should cross a river or mountain range to find the right one. Fifteen years ago, I had two knee operations at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. My surgeon(DR DAVID ALTCHEK) removed both my meniscus and shaved some of my arthritic bones.  Two days later, I was shooting hoops in the backyard with my son. He’s never beaten me. For the last 15 years, I’ve been playing tennis twice a week and riding the exercise bike four times a week with no pain whatsoever.  Last week at the same hospital, I had complete shoulder replacement surgery with the SAME surgeon. He took a saw and cut out my tired old shoulder bone and cut tendons and ligaments to do so and made me bionic of sorts. You should all know that since my surgery, I have NOT taken one pain pill. I’m grateful there was a river to cross.






with prodigal son on assignment in what I'd like to say is Overlook Hotel from The Shining

with prodigal son on assignment in what I’d like to say is Overlook Hotel from The Shining


in that famous fire engine in Freehold NJ

in that famous fire engine in Freehold NJ




As a  writer now (that first book review, which calls me an accomplished novelist is defining) I’ve been asked a variety of questions.  As a possible on-line centrist and Universalist Unitarian (I take those on-line psychological tests all the time), questions  keep popping-up and arriving in my over-protective mailboxes) If my mother was around, I’d never be hard copying, like right now, the fact I’m one of those UU people. She wouldn’t understand that fact and also the third chapter in my novel which gently touches (as in a handshake and brief kiss) the ancient verboten topic of skin color curiosity. Imagination with real sound effects: my cell phone rang (Nessun Dorma tone) and my mother is yelling at me. “Where did all that come from? And I want you to tell me the truth, I’m your mother. Did you ever take an African-American girl to the Shark River in Belmar?” Meanwhile, I’m thrilled, my mother, actually used a politically correct word. And I answer her and my cousin from Texas who also called, lest ye all forget, my novel, ‘Vichy Water’ is fiction.





on the set of film 'Words To Live By' with cast & director

on the set of film ‘Words To Live By’ with cast & director


with Filion who spent the day showing my entourage Bermuda.

with Filion who spent the day showing my entourage Bermuda.



Questions from the loneliness and abandon of an exercise bike abound on a Tuesday evening. Moments ago, pondering the fact that Ponce De Leon searched for the fountain of youth and I was sitting on it and pedaling, I asked myself how important is becoming a novelist. It’s my life now, a reason to believe (an old favorite folk song) and one of those pure existence justifications, being put on this earth to write. And I believe that. Wow( a wonderfully youthful word. How many card carrying AARP members use it regularly?)  I believe spiritually that I’ve arrived; so much so, it could very well be novel number two; my journey to arrival at spirit, universe and understanding in a sad world.


NOTE: all pictures are from my journalistic journeys.

Please watch for launch of

December 17, 2012

A Holiday Blog: March of the Wooden Soldiers (1934, Laurel and Hardy): a Modern SATIRICAL Interpretation. Eyewitness to a new classic Christmas song: Introducing ‘The Big Man,’ Clarence Clemons ‘There’s Still Christmas.’ Assault Weapon Ban in New Jersey? December 18, 2012


I’m excited to be bringing a new old Christmas (vocal)song from Clarence Clemons. But first………

I started writing this blog last Thursday, the day before the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Now I’m filled with cardiac heaviness and sorrow throughout my cellular makeup. I’m a father and human. I can’t find words. I remember Columbine and Dylan Klebold and Erik Harris; the two kids who killed and wonder why their names are remembered by me but none of the victim’s name. I wonder.

This morning I watched New York television and saw a commercial for Walgreen’s Drug Store. Their catch phrase was “Walgreen’s “at the corner of happy and healthy.” The absurdity of it all forced my smile; Walgreen’s sells cigarettes; not a healthy thing. Last Night at Rite Aid drug store picking up a small bottle of stale hydrogen peroxide, I noticed the tobacco (cigars, cigarettes) section right next to ‘Stop Smoking Products.’ More absurdity and greed; the business of America is business. Life on earth is absurd. One in seventeen Americans suffer from mental illness.

My reputation as a New Jersey journalist grows daily; not absurd. I’ve plunged into the world of Jersey music, art, and environmental causes. Someone called me this morning and for a few  moments, I felt like Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein from ‘deep throat’ and Watergate/Washington Post journalism fame. That voice on the phone (no auditory recognition and heavy breathing) told me Governor Christie was thinking about enacting a New Jersey State ban on assault weapons. As I was listening, I thought a brilliant timely political (he’s running for re-election next year and is eyeing 2016 and Pennsylvania Avenue) move that might vault him to even more national prominence and broad-based respect for being tough in tough times with tough decisions in light of Newtown, Connecticut. States can ban assault weapons. I pondered the world and made a few phone calls. I’m a middle of the road kind of guy since 1969 (no political party affiliation); this paragraph is now over because my only concern (not politics or issues) is the universe and our planet’s sustainability; the really big picture.

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Now to the holidays. I love this frenetic wonderful spiritual time of year. The depths of my affection for the holiday season are hard to describe but I’ll take a shot. In my first novel published three years ago, ‘Vichy Water,’ I wrote about a New Jersey man (I’m NOT revealing any plot) who found the need to journey to a remote northern Montana town and a small church on Christmas Eve and go to Midnight Mass; a purely ecumenical thing to do for abundant reasons. Funny thing; I share the same notion as my novel character; like a Hemingway story and I’m not an ambulance driver. Accomplishing this, for me, is the end of a long winding road journey and happy occasion. Complicated but I love the holidays and peace on earth.

Now for some light fun; I’ve been watching the March of the Wooden Soldiers with Laurel and Hardy (made in 1934) for the last 60 years in a row (mostly on WPIX channel 11 in New York). My father turned me on to the movie which aired on Thanksgiving morning when I was seven. Being a person of tradition and sentiment, I’ve watched it every year since 1952; don’t think I ever missed a showing. My watching this Christmas seasonal movie, even passing on Macy’s parade, bespeaks my sense of loyalty, tradition and love of Toyland, fantasy, comedy and simplicity in living with vestiges of Mother Goose. I love the architectural warmth of the old woman’s shoe who in the movie was Bo Beep’s mother. I did ponder for a brief moment that everyone who was in the movie is gone now; so are Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Lucille Ball and Louis Armstrong.



from March of the Wooden Soldiers. The first movie robot?

from March of the Wooden Soldiers. The first movie robot?


Laurel and Hardy opening scene of movie in bed together.

Laurel and Hardy opening scene of movie in bed together.


After 60 viewings, I had an epiphany on this Thanksgiving Day as I watched the movie with my 26 year old son. I forgot to mention that when my son was seven, I inculcated into him the need to watch this movie with me until the end of time. And he still does which means time is still hanging around and forget the Mayan calendar. The epiphany, as I pedaled on the exercise bike and watched the movie with my son, was that it’s incredibly and hauntingly contemporary to today’s complicated world. So here goes interpretation.

In the opening scene, Laurel and Hardy (Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee in the movie) are in bed together, sleeping. I thought immediately that this was Hollywood’s (1934) first example of domestic partners even as the Supreme Court takes on same sex marriage soon. They’re sleeping so close together (not in separate beds like Bert and Ernie) that a small white feather keeps floating between the two of them as they exhale. I think it was the same white feather that messed with Forest Gump at the end of the movie.



Tom Tom and Bo Peep. an item in mother goose.

Tom Tom and Bo Peep. an item in mother goose.


old man Barnaby putting the moves on Bo Beep

old man Barnaby putting the moves on Bo Beep


Then soon we see Mr. Barnaby (a dirty old nasty bad man) chasing after young barely teenage BoPeep in an early expose of improper sexual advances; an old man and a much too young girl. I was horrified. And the laws of Toyland were not stringent enough to prevent this kind of behavior.

A little later, Tom-Tom, the piper, is looking for Bo Peep. They’ve got a romantic thing going; a perfect Mother Goose couple. Of course Bo Peep loses one of her sheep and Tom Tom helps her look. Then he gets amorous, serenades her, and she coyly resists the advances. Coincidentally they are standing by an old foot stockade and in a move reminiscent of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ he does the old bondage technique, secures her feet and keeps her immobile until she relents and kisses (and who knows what else) Tom Tom.

The laws of Toyland with respect to punishment were rather strict in some areas. Sometimes it seems we’re headed down similar roads; perhaps the movie was futuristic in legal aspects.



hanging with the intellectual cool cat

hanging with the intellectual cool cat


the eventual same sex marriage in barnaby hall in  1934

the eventual same sex marriage in barnaby hall in 1934

If you are convicted of burglary in Toyland, you get dunked and banished to bogeyland for ever; a tough love punishment and borderline capital; because you’re not coming back alive with all the bogeyman there. Then I thought about equal justice initiative and the notion that it’s better to be rich and guilty than poor and innocent in America and Toyland.


I’ve been a student of futurism, Dr. Michio Kaku (‘Physics of the Future’) and have been reading about the advances in robotics especially in Japan and what’s coming in the mid-future. But the  ‘March of the Wooden Soldiers’ has an army of six-foot robots who can almost think and actively defend Toyland from hostile invaders (bogeymen). Press of a button and they knew exactly what to do. When they rescued small children, it seems the Wooden Soldiers even displayed emotion and comforted the scared children. A hundred years ahead of its time. Emotions in robots are coming end of century.

Getting back to the notion of same –sex marriage; Stan and Ollie conspire to steal the mortgage for the little old lady’s shoe from Mr. Barnaby and then get caught, convicted and go through a public dunking before banishment to bogeyland.  Bo Peep comes to the rescue and agrees to marry Mr. Barnaby if he consents to drop the charges. At the wedding ceremony in Barnaby Hall, Bo Beep is dressed in wedding gown and veil; the ceremony concludes. Ollie gets the mortgage and Barnaby goes to kiss the bride. It’s not Bo Peep but Laurel (Stannie Dum) dressed up. When Stannie wants to leave, Ollie says “You can’t, you’re married to Mr. Barnaby now.” Indeed same sex marriage in 1934.

I marvel at the advanced state of animal rights in the movie. If you’re convicted of pig-napping you’re banished to bogeyland forever. This kind of potent animal protection laws from 1934 Toyland is so needed today to stop poachers who kill elephants, tigers and apes without regard.

There is also strong evidence of feminism; When Tom Tom is framed and banished to bogeyland for pignapping, Bo Peep takes it upon herself to brave the alligator infested waters surrounding Toyland and Bogeyland and singlehandedly rescues her man, Tom Tom.

Finally there’s a need to involve DYFS in this discussion. Who leaves their baby rocking in a tree in a car seat in Toyland?  I’ve already reminded my son that next year when we flip the Mayan calendar, he’ll be watching March of the Wooden Soldiers with me. I’ll be pedaling on the exercise bike; no iPhones allowed while viewing.




And now a great Holiday story about an amazing new old Christmas classic song:

Eyewitness to a new classic Christmas song: Introducing ‘The Big Man,’ Clarence Clemons ‘There’s Still Christmas.’



A long time ago in another state, in another city (which has alternate side of the street parking), I was aimlessly flicking television channels with an antiquated remote when I caught the black and white beginning of a movie that I’d never seen, “It’s A Wonderful Life.”  It was early autumn. Within a few minutes, I was drawn into the mystique and charm of this movie; throw an angel into storyline and I’m hooked for the long haul. I loved the movie’s message; about friends, family and dreams. The movie became a Christmas classic but not for many years after it was made in 1946. It was actually released in the summer that year and bombed at the box office.





its a wonderful life great scene near the end.

its a wonderful life great scene near the end.



its a wonderful life. when george bailey says, "atta boy  Clarence"

its a wonderful life. when george bailey says, “atta boy Clarence”

When I finished watching the movie, I wondered why this wasn’t a classic with its timeless message of Christmas spirit, incredible cast and storytelling. Over the next few years, Ronald Reagan became President and the movie began surfacing on television during the holiday season with uncanny frequency. I said to myself, “I knew it would find itself holiday time;” and did it ever. Back in the Garden State, in the early eighties, a few weeks before Christmas on a Saturday afternoon, I was flicking channels again with a more modern remote and stumbled upon “It’s A Wonderful Life” on  six different channels at the same time, staggered so that you could see the ending if you were so moved; six times. “Atta boy Clarence,” Jimmy Stewart (George Bailey) says near the end; witness to the multi decade birth of a Christmas classic movie. Television stations today conspire to only do one showing per season; but it’s still a certifiable classic.  Segue to the title of this article, ‘Eyewitness to a new classic Christmas song.’ By the way, I find it particularly haunting in my microcosmic synchronistic world that the angel in this movie is a  Clarence, and I’m writing about Clarence Clemons. Hmmm!!I told the story of the movie because in our crazy mixed-up, digital, smart-phone, fast food world, we’re likely to be witnessing the birth of yet another classic; this time an incredible Christmas song with such a moving emotional voice, the late ‘Big Man,’ Clarence Clemons. If you want to get in the mood before reading on, here’s the You Tube link to ‘There’s Still Christmas.’ Go listen and come back here.


I love angels and synchronicity. Six weeks ago, I came to know Jim Nuzzo and Dennis Bourke who created this song with Clarence Clemons back in 1981. I’m a story teller so here goes.

a powerful memory of Clarence Clemons

a powerful memory of Clarence Clemons


Back in 1981, Stevie Betts (lyricist) and Dennis Bourke (melody) wrote this song, ‘There’s Still Christmas’ and teamed up with Jim Nuzzo (arranger, producer) and got manager Matty Breuer (assistant tour manager for Springsteen back then) to approach Clarence Clemons. They all met at Clarence’s Sea Bright, New Jersey home, had some wine and presented the words of the song to the ‘Big Man.’ Being on hiatus from touring with Springsteen, Clarence wanted to do it. He loved the message of the song; when things look down, there’s still Christmas; simple yet poignant. And Clarence’s rich baritone voice that is silenced now; propels this to classic status.  At the first recording session in October 1981, Clarence arrived wearing a cowboy hat. The next day he was wearing a Santa Claus hat and red vest exposing a chubby belly. He had Christmas lights put on the music stand; he was so in the mood to do this song. They rehearsed the song at ‘Big Man’s West’ in Red Bank; Clarence’s club. Jim and Dennis both told me about getting chills being in the same room with him when he performed. “He was a gentle down to earth guy,” Jim said.  To relax during the recording sessions, they played video games. To prepare for record company submission, Clarence recorded the other side on solo sax another Christmas classic “The Christmas Song.” The record company never picked up the song so it’s been sleeping all these years waiting for classic beams of particulate historic energy. Last year the song was released but like the movie, so few of us knew it existed. I listened and was blown away; his voice and persona holds me in a suspended state; like I’ve known him all these years; like it’s a special legacy to all of us to have him back in our lives at Christmas this year.



Bruce and Clarence. from Born to Run. one of my favorite pixs of them and its in black and white.

Bruce and Clarence. from Born to Run. one of my favorite pixs of them and its in black and white.


But there’ more to the legacy of Clarence Clemons and this song; Jim Nuzzo and Dennis Bourke (A Viet Nam vet) have affiliated with this amazing charity ‘Give an Hour’     a non-profit organization providing free mental health services to US Military personnel and their families affected by current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All of which means as we move to make this wonderful song a Christmas mainstay and classic, proceeds from the sale of this song on I -Tunes, CD Baby will help our military. Imagine, after all these years; this song comes to us from Clarence at this holiday time of year; part of his enduring legacy.

Here’s some links to this wonderful life song/info:


A percentage of cd sales from “There’s Still Christmas” by the legendary Clarence Clemons will be donated to Give an Hour, a non-profit organization that provides free mental health services to military personnel, their loved ones and hometown communities affected by conflicts abroad.

Please open up your hearts, honor Clarence and support our veterans by purchasing your copy for this holiday season.


Available for purchase on iTunes, CD Baby, Amazon, and

You can also find ‘There’s Still Christmas’ on Facebook.

Bottom line. Please go listen and fall in love with the song. Purchase it. Sit by the fire place with a glass of wine or egg nog. Enjoy the Happy Holidays. Listen to his wondrous voice.

Thanks again to Jim Nuzzo and Dennis Bourke for their passion and time.

And Clarence Clemons.





Calvin Schwartz

March 11, 2012

Adventures in Baby Sitting and Facebook: Dutch Reformed Church in Colts Neck, NJ. Predictability; The Movie ‘Prom’ (My Son’s Generation?). “I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning.” (Apocalypse Stuff: An Asteroid in 2040) Living to 150: Stop With Soda? Steve Jobs: Daniel Kottke (Human Nature?). Asbury Park, NJ (Live Asbury Park Launch) March 11, 2012

Asbury Park

Asbury Park

asbury park boardwalk

I do love Asbury Park (New Jersey). As a kid growing up in Newark, my parents saved and scrimped all year to make it to the Jersey shore for August, renting a small bungalow in a Belmar backyard on Seventh Avenue. On weekends, if I behaved all week and babysat for my sisters, my reward was the quintessential boardwalk and Palace Amusements of Asbury Park. My sister Hildy called it Raspberry Park.







Asbury Park

with mario casella and eric greene from slim chance and the gamblers at wonderbar in asbury park


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Asbury Park pinball


I’ve been saying since I stumbled into journalism in July, and spending a great deal time in Asbury Park, there is magical dust from a hovering Springsteen cirrus (fair weather) cloud that keeps descending, and inspiring musicians and artists; almost remindful of the dust (snow) that watched over Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow as they approached Emerald City.

A few weeks ago, I covered the launch of ‘Live Asbury Park,’ at the ‘Press Room’ (missing Springsteen live there by two nights); an exciting new non-profit live entertainment company. Carlos Armesto, Artistic Director, will bring the spirit of Asbury Park into all avenues of the arts; “to move audiences, open minds and give the artistic experience of a lifetime.”






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at launch for Live Asbury Park at 'Press Room'


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Asbury Park boardwalk lonely surfboards


Adventures in Baby Sitting in the blog title: streams of consciousness relating to adventures on Facebook and social media networking; like meeting people in real life, babysitting for T.S. Garp or his mother Jenny Fields. Last week I was hanging out in Facebook at, NJ Discover’s Wall. Earlier that day, I had a NJ Discover TV breakfast meeting at a pancake establishment. On the way back, I drove up a rural country road in Colts Neck, Monmouth County, New Jersey, passed this magnificent old church. I made an illegal turn and stopped to read a sign: “Dutch Reformed Church completed and erected in 1856.”






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Asbury Park Convention Hall


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Asbury Park lanes at night. my shadow on the bottom.,



With camera always by my side, I snapped a few and posted the pix on the wall of NJ Discover to which a Facebook Florida stranger asked me on behalf of NJ Discover, if there was a cemetery in the back and if so, it could very well be where her mother and grandparents are buried. I didn’t know about a cemetery but something (a favorite word) made me respond, by offering if I ever return (which was doubtful) to investigate and try to find her mother’s grave stone.







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Dutch Reformed Church 1856


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Singer Danny White in Belmar Studio

On Thursday, I was down the Jersey shore, a few towns over from my beloved Asbury Park, in Belmar, hanging out with fast rising singer Danny White (‘A Beautiful Crazy’ cd newly released). After huge amounts of caffeine sweetened with a dark brown liquid confection, I headed to my favorite jetty in the world, including all gin joints, and meditated by the mighty Shark River (a few blocks long?). A fierce seventy degree warm wind blew virginal sand in my face as my feet rested on jetty boulders. I did see a ship heading to Kilimanjaro and the bridge over a troubled Shark River water lift to let a boat pass under.







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At Belmar St. Patrick's Day Parade


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my jetty in belmar at shark river

Something then directed me to that country road and that church, reasonably far out of the way. I drove to the rear and there was this old cemetery as the stranger on Facebook described. A spiritual quality was there even in the way the trees bent in the wind.  I snapped pictures but forgot the stranger’s name; when I saw that certain headstone, I knew it was her mother’s. A special good deed accomplished, I was about to make a get-away; somehow taking pictures in a reverent silent place bothered me. A man of rural authority approached. “I’m from NJ Discover TV,” I quickly stated and told the story of the woman Facebook stranger. Tom(the caretaker) asked if I’d like to learn cemetery history.


The marker of Ryers Crumal, the last Indian chief from the Sand Hill Nation, part of the historic Lenni Lenape Tribe, was inches away from my shoe, frozen in soft soil, afraid to move closer. Then Tom pointed to the far end of the cemetery where no graves were, yet one lone grave stood. James Miller, an African-American,(the only one buried there) without family or friends had died in 1901 and the church provided. “Would you like to meet Reverend Scott Brown now?”   Meeting Reverend Brown was pure magic too. Later I sent the picture of her mother’s grave to the Facebook stranger( no more)who wrote a beautiful emotional thank you message.




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Ryers Crummal

A few weeks ago I flicked the cable box at 11 PM and landed at the beginning of a movie, ‘Prom,’ made in 2011 for the generation or two after my 26 year old son. I thought saffron light and muffled sound from a somewhat (stretching) reasonably crafted movie on TV, might supply the thrust into my REM stage of sleep but instead I watched (in a fetal position) a remarkably predictable movie to within 120 seconds of the ending. Long haired rebellious boy gets pretty girl at prom. The morning after, I sought reasons for my viewing behavior; reasons are rationalizations; as a writer and reporter I need to be in tune and be able to reach culturally and substantively younger and younger generations. However I shall never write nor will I attempt to write a children’s book nor will I seek the nomination of my party for President of the United States. Lyndon Johnson said the same thing about running for office.

This Sunday morning I saw a travel commercial for historic and beautiful Turkey; people snorkeling in azure blue water then being served a tropical drink. It was really inviting. Then starkly and harshly, I conjured up images of the movie (I am an old movie guy. Give me ‘Casablanca’ and  liberty) ‘Midnight Express,’ from 1978, about an American, Billy Hayes, imprisoned in Turkey for smuggling hashish; perhaps one of the most vivid movies I’ve ever seen and can’t seem to lose the imagery over these decades; the resilient power of movies.




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James Miller 1901

Movies. Great lines. “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.” “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Robert Duvall in ‘Apocalypse Now.’  Streams of consciousness made me think. Just throw it all on a wall. So there’s a massive asteroid that could hit Earth in 2040. I see things; people running around in togas and being fed grapes from the fingers of nubile virgins or male instructors from work-out places where endless bikes are spinning and creating a gentle breeze with self- generated electricity. An ever changing sign across the street has gas at $19.99/gallon. Scientists are keeping a close eye on a big asteroid that may pose an impact threat to Earth in a few decades. The space rock, which is called 2011 AG5, is about 460 feet (140 meters) wide. It may come close enough to Earth in 2040 that some researchers are calling for a discussion about how to deflect it.  Talk about the asteroid was on the agenda during the 49th session of the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS), held earlier this month in Vienna. Ah ha. There’s (plug time) an interesting relevant novel ‘Vichy Water’ available on Kindle. Of course I wrote it and the name of this blog. The near-Earth asteroid 2011 AG5 currently has an impact probability of 1 in 625 for Feb. 5, 2040. And Rutgers will be playing Michigan in basketball that day. I’ll be sitting in the handicapped section but I don’t know why.









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from movie SLEEPER Woody Allen 1973

Someday over the rainbow in that wonderful place called OZ, a company that makes a consumable, ingestible will come along and say their product actually does no good for the internal areas of a human being and will voluntarily withdraw their golden fleece (fleecing?) from the market. Perhaps I will be in a wheel chair in 2040 when cigarette companies cease and desist. Of course there’s Woody Allen’s movie, ‘Sleeper,’ which makes me laugh. Imagine waking up 500 years in the future, being unfrozen by a team of physicians only to realize they’re all smoking cigarettes and being told that it was finally proven it’s good for you.






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caramel coloring in soda


Now take soda. With a father-in-law once in the soda business, I brushed my teeth with an endless cheap supply of it. The moment diet soda arrived; I joined and voraciously consumed even more. A notion to get into the soda manufacturing business passed after I measured the wrong amount of sugar so that a pitchfork was able to stand erect in the syrup vat. The other day Coke and Pepsi announced a reformulation of the caramel coloring additive or else use a cancer warning label. Someone authoritative said you’d have to consume 1000 cans per day to worry about cancer. Five years ago, I came to my senses and stopped all soda and switched to seltzer. By the way, folks who drink diet soft drinks on a daily basis may be at increased risk of suffering vascular events such as stroke, heart attack, and vascular death, according to a new study by the University of Miami Miller School Of Medicine and at Columbia University Medical Center.  I want 150 years, still playing tennis and no more wire hangers or soda. Did I read about a Georgia state trooper using soda to wash blood stains off a highway? Good old phosphoric acid they use as a preservative. Maybe someday soda companies can package soda as a household cleaner or solvent. I’ll pose for free as a new modern senior citizen Mr. Clean with copious amounts of brown hair.



Steve Jobs has always been a hero. Then he passed and I’m reading his biography. Not such a hero anymore. Apple is now worth $500 billion; wealthier than many countries. Sitting on the dock of my jetty the other day in Belmar, after reading how Steve Jobs completely ignored his friend Daniel Kottke, his soul mate in college, in India, and in a rental house they shared, and then Jobs absolutely cut Kottke out of any chance to make a few dollars on an Apple IPO; I was dazed and confused for a brief jetty sitting moment. Gosh, Kottke was even with Jobs when they started Apple in a garage. Jobs did give his parents $750,000 dollars; how nice. But the jetty illuminated me. Some folks get it and some don’t and never will. To be charitable and take care of those close to you is a gift. Some folks never understand it’s a gift to gift to others. I see a scene from ‘Beetlejuice,’ with folks sitting and waiting for disposition.







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An Asbury Park gin joint looks like the bar in the movie 'The Shining'? Maybe.

Perhaps a similar scene somewhere over Dorothy’s rainbow; people waiting in a going coming around spinning white room with white shag carpeting; if you drop an old faded penny, it disappears. Some of our species have qualities of charity and warmth to go through life with and some don’t.  ‘Beetlejuice’ with a shrunken head scared me; another lasting visual like ‘Midnight Express.’ Some of these words are close to home and pound occasionally on left side of my cardiac chamber, causing severe compression and fake heart attack symptoms. Ah, but I’ll be in Asbury Park all throughout the week, exploring, meeting and stuffing as much of the ocean air into my lungs as I can manage. I won’t think about Jobs (Steve), or asteroids, cigarettes or soda. I’ll enjoy the moments the Jersey shore life afford, think about Dorothy and the fact there is no place like home while my Jobs Ipod plays, “Let it Be.”










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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:



Linda Chorney’s’ Emotional Jukebox’ Album: Asbury Park

Also a very worthwhile cause to read up on:

Butterfly Circle of Friends.



Facebook:  Cal Schwartz

Twitter:  Earthood



book trailer. hey its 65 seconds long





If on Facebook check out this NJ Discover site:Asbury Park



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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