Corrections or additions?
This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the
March 28, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
At the Movies
When we first meet filmmaker Jason Rosette, he’s
the Road" — speeding down a highway somewhere out West in
a car, his pine-tree-shaped auto deodorizer bobbing merrily from the
rear-view mirror. But the Rosette we meet is a three-year veteran
of pedestrian culture par excellence. In his former life as
a full-fledged member of the Manhattan street booksellers’ tribe,
Jack Kerouac’s beat classic was a volume he never wanted to be
Rosette’s funky and entertaining 80-minute documentary "Book
can be experienced as much like a jazz jam session as poem or novel.
In a voice-over narrative, sometimes breezy, sometimes earnest in
tone, Rosette tells the story of his journey from student to
to self-made filmmaker, and lets us in on some of the tricks of the
trade. He’ll share this story when he makes a guest appearance at
the New Jersey Film Festival Screening of "Book Wars" on
March 30, at 7 p.m. The film screens Friday through Sunday, March
30 through April 1, on a double bill with "Live Nude Girls
a documentary about street vendors of another kind — San Francisco
sex workers — by Julia Query and Vicki Funari.
In the movie he wrote, edited, and directed, Rosette assembles a
and often funny portrait of the stubbornly independent booksellers
and their sidewalk lifestyle. We watch them man their tables, set
up shoulder to shoulder on West 4th Street in front of NYU’s vaunted
Bobst Library near Washington Square. Complementing this village
hangout is the group of vendors whose rickety tables on lower Sixth
Avenue are mostly arrayed with tatty old magazines and
Armed with a hand-held camera, from his post behind his book table,
Rosette serves up an unvarnished gallery of portraits of aimless
pedestrians and those only slightly crazed denizens of the Village,
the ones who usually mutter to themselves as they walk. Even more
compelling than the odd buyers are his portraits of the idiosyncratic
personalities of the booksellers themselves. His movie aims to debunk
the myth that the street sellers deal in stolen goods or that they
are homeless losers.
The key to these vendors’ livelihood is New York’s famed propensity
for addictions of all kinds — in this case books. From the
of Star Trek’s William Shatner to perennial favorites by Carlos
and Kurt Vonnegut, these vendors fulfill the needs and fantasies of
passersby. Furthermore, until recently, the First Amendment apparently
protected book vendors from most authoritarian meddling.
Far from being poor and homeless, many of these entrepreneurs
the oddball Paul who shares his home with a terrarium full of toads),
work tirelessly, from early morning to late at night, for the
of a cash income of somewhere between $100 to $300 a day.
Homeless no. But anti-establishment, certainly. Some are bibliophiles.
Others just latched onto New York’s book buying addiction as a logical
way to earn $100 a day and up — in cash. Vendors may scavenge
(aka recycle) goods from Manhattan’s notoriously upscale garbage
but mostly they build their stock from library sales, church fairs,
and any number of basements of the esteemed state of New Jersey, here
dubbed "The Land of the Ten-cent Book."
Mayor Giuliani’s so-called quality-of-life campaign against street
activities of every sort is the snake in the grass of this story.
It provides the film’s only real element of drama and its provocative
title. Rosette chronicles how his "Edenic" community is
scattered by Guiliani’s campaign that introduces pressures of tax
ID numbers, shrinking sidewalk space, and a police presence that
impounding the merchandise. The police crackdown comes late in the
film, impinging on the freedoms of a cast and characters both sane
and insane that we’ve come to respect.
But Rosette, too, has come to the end of an era. He tells us he’s
also sick of three years of "standing around." Maintaining
his place at the vortex of the literary tradition, like Kerouac, he’s
"On the Road" again.
— Nicole Plett
Room 123, College Avenue Campus, New Brunswick, 732-932-8482; Website:
www.njfilmfest.com. On a double bill with Live Nude Girls
Unite! by Julia Query and Vicki Funari. $8. Friday to Sunday, March
30 to April 1.
adult male and female actors ages 20 to 60 for a full-length original
play directed by Steve Gaissert. Performance dates are in June. For
audition appointment on Saturday, April 7, or Monday, April 9, call
for Terrence McNally’s "Master Class," about opera diva Maria
Callas reminiscing about her life while instructing a master class
in opera. Directed by Michael Driscoll, all roles are open; readings
will be from the script. Auditions are Tuesday and Wednesday, April
10 and 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Villages Theater, call 732-873-2710.
samplings of novels, black and white line drawings, and cartoons from
writers or artists who live or work in Mercer County. The Review is
published annually and is distributed free to libraries and
Deadline is Tuesday, May 1. Call Robin Schore, editor, at 609-586-4800
second annual T-Shirt illustration contest. The winning artwork will
appear on all GSHW shirts and sweatshirts in 2001 and 2002 and the
winner will receive $100 prize and a shirt. Entries must be black
and white line art that is easily reproduced and should be no larger
than nine by twelve inches. Deadline is Thursday, May 31. Entries
should be sent to Garden State Horror Writers Illustration Contest,
Box 6476, East Brunswick 08816 with a self-addressed stamped envelope
and entry fee of $7. Call 609-443-3438.
seek entries of painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, prose,
poetry, or other non-performance creative media to promote breast
cancer awareness. The works should express your own experience of
breast cancer or be dedicated to someone you know who has been touched
by breast cancer. The Art Show and reception will be help on Friday
through Sunday, October 12 through 14, at Saint Peter’s Sister Marie
dePazzi Conference Center. Contact Charlotte Shipley at 721-745-6680
before Thursday, May 31.
has funds available to assist families with Passover expenses.
in need are asked to contact the agency at 609-987-8100. Requests
are made to the agency’s professional staff and the confidentiality
of recipients is assured.
flea market vendors for the annual spring flea market on Saturday,
April 28. $15 fee includes a table from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call Donna
merchandise vendors, non profit organizations. or local performer
interested in taking part in the community=based festival
on Saturday, April 28 from noon to 4 p.m. Call 609-924-8777.
linens, housewares, silver, china, art, patio furniture, furs, sports
equipment, antiques, rugs, jewelry, and collectibles. Working
are also needed to be used on the fields during the event. Cancer
care at the Medical Center at Princeton will benefit from the 48th
annual June Fete Auxiliary Benefit. to be held at the Princeton
playing fields on Washington Road in West Windsor, on Saturday, June
16. Call 609-497-4069.
the 40th Annual Philadelphia Antiques Show is on Tuesday, April 10,
with the bus leaving from the historical society on High Street at
8:45 a.m. $60 includes transportation, guided tour, box lunch, and
catalog. Call 609-386-4773.
on a two-week tour of Eastern Europe focusing on Jewish heritage and
culture of Prague, Krakow, Warsaw, Vilnius, and Riga. Professional
local tour guide will lead the group from the Princeton area. Complete
itineraries and enrollment forms are available through Class A Travel,
425 Wall Street, Princeton or call 609-497-0011.
collecting expedition to China to visit the famous fossil sites at
Sihetun. Hailu You of University of Pennsylvania and the Beijing
of Vertebrate Paleontology is the guide on the trip from Monday, July
23, through Friday, August 3. Call 609-394-5310.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.