A number of people have asked if we heard anything in response to last week’s issue, featuring a series of photographs of our Albert Einstein action figure on the cover. They are wondering, we presume, if we have heard specifically from Hebrew University or its legal representatives in Beverly Hills, CA, challenging the use of our action figure on the cover.
The answer is no, nothing yet, and based on our experience we would guess that we won’t hear anything for several months or even a year, if we hear anything at all. Our last brush with the copyright law occurred when we ran a cover photo of a young man in a Merrill Lynch T-shirt working out at a Route 1 gym. The photo showed the Merrill logo clearly on his shirt and proclaimed "Bullish on Fitness." A year or so later a New York law firm began hounding us to sign an agreement that we would never use the word "bullish" again in practically any conceivable context.
To that we said "bull" and had some good clean fun with the lawyers for nearly a year, until we finally informed them that we weren’t likely to run the offending image ever again.
But we did hear more about Harry Morton, described in the book "Einstein on Race and Racism" as an 11-year-old African-American boy who became Einstein’s "most constant friend" in the years before his death. The book on several occasions noted that Morton lived on Battle Road, having been taken in by a family who wanted to provide him a more child-friendly atmosphere than if he had lived fulltime with his mother, who worked as a domestic in the home of the director of the Institute for Advanced Study.
Richard K. Rein, in his column reviewing the Einstein book, presumed that the family taking the boy in was an upperclass family showing some good will that was often missing in Princeton back then. But after our issue was published we discovered that the book was in error: In fact young Morton was taken in by a family on John Street, the Turners, who had children his age. But he did visit his mother often at the director’s house on Battle Road and from there often ran into Einstein. We are sorry for the mistake, but happy to set the record straight.
For more on the media’s performance, and thoughts triggered by last week’s Chamber of Commerce/U.S. 1 Trade Fair speaker Lynn Doyle, see page 66 of this issue.
To the Editor: Pondering Life’s Unseen Hurdles
Most of the time, as I stroll around town with my Seeing Eye dog Wonder, I rarely give much consideration to the obstacles and challenges we face every day. But, this morning, as my guide dog slows down at our approach of the chain-link fence that still blocks the sidewalk on the east side of Witherspoon Street just below the cemetery I am extremely vexed. As we step into the street and hug the curb, I am thinking "if two cars come along and have to pass each other, we will either get hit, or they will surely put the squeeze on us. Couldn’t they have at least left the apron between the sidewalk and the street free?"
This particular blockade is a hazard and an inconvenience for everyone. This section of sidewalk has been blocked off for at least a year, and I have avoided it for several months. I could understand the sidewalk being blocked off for such a long time while they tore down and rebuilt the new library, but really, how long is one small business given to complete a construction project? Can we expect a four-star restaurant when they are through?
This got me reflecting on the various hurdles we often encounter, although I generally don’t even give them a second thought: curb cuts so flush that you can’t tell when you have left the sidewalk and entered the street, cars parked across the sidewalk, garbage can lids, shopping carts, newspapers etc., the noise of a leaf blower, lawn mower or jackhammer making it impossible to decide when it is safe to cross a street, the disturbed gentleman who barks at my dog, piles of leaves to go around on the roads where there are no sidewalks, puddles, ice, unshoveled sidewalks or a path too narrow to accommodate a person and a dog, snow drifts to scale in order to cross the street, overhanging branches that thwap me in the face because my dog doesn’t look up, fallen branches after a storm, barking dogs who trail us from behind a fence, and cats and squirrels who tease, adding distraction and spice to Wonder’s walk, the humps in the sidewalk that go up and over the roots of our magnificent majestic trees, the cars who cut us off turning right on red or nearly hit my dog in the hind end as she hesitates to indicate a curb, and my personal favorite, the one that never fails to give me a chuckle, someone walking toward me talking loudly, making me think I need to make room for two people only to discover that it is one person talking on a cellphone.
These things, and much much more, make up the tapestry of our daily walks, and we take most of them in stride, barely riffling a feather, but how is it possible, a year later, that this same section of sidewalk is still obstructed?
Our getting around town is teamwork at its best! When we are waiting to cross a street, the first judgment-call is mine, but if it isn’t safe to cross, Wonder will refuse my command, exercising what is called intelligent disobedience.
It is up to me where we go, but it is up to Wonder to get us there safely. If we get confused, or cross a street diagonally, people often think that the dog isn’t doing a good job. The truth is, Wonder is doing a superb job, and most of our mistakes can be traced back to something I did, or failed to do.
Although modern technology has made many things a lot easier, this morning my musings keep me on the path of impending difficulties. Gone are the days of buttons and knobs, and I dread the day I have to replace my TV, dish washer, washing machine, or dryer with their onscreen menus and touch screen controls.
And suddenly, the newest silent predator pops into my mind, the hybrid, which will soon be stalking us in ever increasing numbers. Don’t get me wrong. I fully support the concept of a car that runs on battery and fuel, the way I concur with the curb cuts that make Wonder’s and my life more difficult. But how will we learn to survive alongside of this latest soundless hazard, the most frightening threat to the blind traveler yet?
With this last perilous thought, I derail this futile theme, slip into Small World, and splurge on my favorite iced cafe almond latte to allay my peevish state of mind. I guess I will avoid that segment of Witherspoon Street for a little while longer, and who knows, maybe next time that bedeviling barricade will be gone.
128 Jefferson Road, Princeton
The Bard’s Big Emptiness
Summer is over and a big emptiness is final: no Shakespeare this summer in Pettoranella Gardens Amphitheater. In 2002 while visiting some friends in the area we noticed the posters around the town about the Princeton Rep Shakespeare Festival and decided it would be a fun thing to do, and we walked to it. Never before experiencing anything about Shakespeare our children (then ages seven and nine) got hooked after the first performance, asking when they could come again.
At that time we lived in North Jersey and made an effort to travel so the kids can come again and again, participating time and again and memorizing more and more of the Bard’s plays. In March, 2003, I got the proverbial pink slip, and during a family meeting, the kids suggested that we should move to the Princeton area so "it will be easy to go to Rep plays in the summer." So we did it. In 2003 we attended EVERY play and our son (10 at the time) requested to participate at an internship/workshop following the performances. Immediately before the workshop he broke his collarbone but insisted in participating despite the pain and brace. This workshop gave him the confidence to join the Classical Homeschool Shakespeare Companyunder tutelage of Professor Amy Mandelker and has remained a part of it ever since; participating in all its productions.
During the year I was amazed when one day I heard our children laughing themselves to tears and noticed that the source of their enjoyment and fun was leafing through the complete works of Shakespeare (borrowed from the public library on their cards) and searching the parts to read/perform to each other, trying to outdo each other in dramatics or comedy.
Needless to say, in 2004 they were always there for Princeton Rep Shakespeare performances. The quality of the performances brought them back again and again for three summers and they made a number of friends with other kids who also were regulars at the performances. And this summer they were checking the website of the Rep Company for its schedule, in vain. So what happened this summer? Why is it that quality cultural programming that sparked children’s interest in some of the greatest literature just disappeared?
And to those who ask: how does it relate to business in the area? Since the architectural firm moved out from office space at 33 State Road (one block from Pettoranella Gardens) in February, 2004, I have being sharing it with my business partner and the building has continuous 100 percent occupancy, thanks to the Rep company. Is there hope to see it back soon, or maybe we should look elsewhere?
182 Washington Street, Rocky Hill
Much Ado About . . .Business?
Regarding this, shall we say, business of Princeton Rep and Princeton Rec, the bottom lines cannot be refuted. That is to say, as with any business, the bedrock of theater is continuity. Any business that would have to, year after year, go in and renegotiate a lease with their landlord would indeed have a difficult time of it.
As a person in a creative business myself, I well understand the problems and pitfalls of artistic endeavors. Number one is to think that you are not in business. Terrible mistake that. Art is a business. I offer Pablo Picasso as an example. He was, perhaps, one of the most consummate businessmen ever to paint pictures. He had a product to sell (his paintings) a good marketing program (his mystique), and a location he kept for over 20 years.
Princeton Rep is in the business of providing a quality product (plays by Shakespeare) at very affordable prices (free), and has a good marketing program. What they failed to provide for themselves was a location that would be there year after year.
On the other hand, a city that had a successful theater business, which it then decided not to continue its relationship with, is, to many, strange. To say that Princeton Rep was cast off simply because they didn’t show up for a meeting is difficult for some of us to swallow, since the company has so much to lose by not continuing in that location. In addition, since Princeton Rep has demonstrated that they are in the habit of performing as advertised and that their product has many buyers, why would they be inclined to share the space?
(What mall would be so silly as to be rid of Lord & Taylor so that they could bring in a small movie theater?) In other words, if you think of Princeton Rep as the anchor that was bringing in other stores, a good business person knows not to be rid of the anchor.
The Township did not seem interested enough in the situation to take a mediator’s hand in this. In the meantime, not only has the entirecounty lost a bit of quality culture in its mix, it has lost those culture dollars that will now travel to Philadelphia or New York for a bit of the Bard. And that is much ado about revenue.