Just a few weeks after our Interchange column featured Charles Kreitzberg, the CEO of Cognetic Corporation and longtime computer visionary, writing about the potential of “Web 2.0” (U.S. 1, July 18), we have an issue filled to the gills with descriptions of exactly those kinds of web applications.

This week’s Interchange column features a discussion of Princeton University’s presence in “Second Life,” the virtual world that is turning into a literal money maker for its corporate parent (page 4).

Then we have a “back to school” section that’s filled with the promise (if not yet the profit) of Web 2.0-style communities — for college applicants (page 12), for SAT test takers (page 21), for socially concerned recent graduates (page 18), and for new moms struggling to find allies and resources for their new challenges (page 51).

One thing is for sure, as we come to grips with this new approach to Internet thinking: It’s back to school, in some way, shape, or form, for all of us.

Letter to the Editor:

Thankful Writer

I just wanted to thank you for a wonderful time at the writer’s reception for the U.S. 1 Summer Fiction issue (July 25). My husband, Dan, who comes from a family of artists (could you tell? his mother was the one draped in butterflies, flitting from table to table) was so moved by some of the poetry that he has resigned himself to write a poem for next year’s edition (the man is sooooo competitive!!).

Be that as it may, your publication of my short story, “Veronica’s Veil,” was a terrific thrill for me, sweetened by the illustration on the cover, of Veronica (sans veil) in a yellow coupe.

You have given new hope to a middle aged writer who was ready to give up her quill. Please extend my thanks to all your staff and especially to Stan Kephart for his fine characterization. I have been so steeped in parenting for the past 16 years that I almost forgot how wonderful it is to be in the company of writers! (Yes, Veronica, there is intelligent life on earth.)

Grace Walter

Morrisville, Pennsylvania

Laycock’s Departure A Sad Refrain

One of the axioms of medicine is “Do No Harm.” This might also be an axiom of any management team that is charged with operating a non-profit arts organization. When the Board of the Princeton Symphony let Mark Laycock slip through its fingers, for me, this comes under the heading of doing harm (U.S. 1, August 8).

Mark Laycock has been an omnipresent part of the warp and woof of Princeton’s cultural life for the past 21 years. That will be no more. One of the reasons why Princeton has been such a vibrant musical community, why the quality of artistic life has been high here, is because of Maestro Laycock’s myriad of contributions.

I have been a member of the orchestra for the past 12 years, a violist. I have seen the quality of the group grow from that of a tidy little chamber orchestra that could whip up a tasty Haydn symphony, to a crack team of high quality musicians with extraordinary esprit de corps. Operating under tight ensemble conditions, we could play “Rite of Spring” one month, “La Mer” another month, & “Daphnis and Chloe” yet another month.

When an arts organization is chugging along nicely, providing exciting and stimulating performances for an often startled and appreciative audience, you don’t suddenly make a change, if you are the person and/or group running this organization.

It’s not as if it’s a corporation where “new blood” needs to be periodically brought in. If George Balanchine is creating great ballets and exciting audiences year after year for New York City Ballet and you are a board member, you let him do his thing and try to support him as best you can. If Leonard Bernstein is the conductor of the New York Philharmonic and you are a board member, you let him do his thing and try to support him as best you can. Now Mark Laycock will be someone else’s arts treasure and Princeton will be the poorer for it.

The reason that the Princeton Symphony is referred to in their marketing materials as New Jersey’s “virtuoso orchestra” is all the years of hard work that Laycock devoted to the ensemble. He was able to attract the finest musicians in the tri-state area who wanted to be a part of his vision.

It’s not as if the orchestra musicians and the conductor are Lego-like pieces that can be snapped off and replaced with another piece just like it. Without Laycock, it will be a completely different orchestra. It will probably not attract as many of the loyal musicians who have played for so many years, providing for artistic consistency. More New York musicians will have to be used, making it less of a New Jersey orchestra, and more money will have to be spent on transportation. And the passion that was the hallmark of each performance, that made us the envy around the state and the standard bearer for New Jersey artistic excellence, will be no more. Is this the orchestra Princeton wants?

Clifford Young


Musician Laments Laycock Departure

I am a tenured, 15-year veteran of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and was as surprised and distressed to hear of the departure of Maestro Mark Laycock as a great many members of our community were.

The musicians of the Princeton Symphony have received only the same vague information provided to the press that “there is going to be a change in leadership of the orchestra” but as of this writing no further explanation has been forthcoming. Both the community and the orchestra members who have been so loyal to Maestro Laycock over the years deserve an explanation.

I have watched and experienced Mark take our tiny community chamber orchestra and turn it into a symphony orchestra that Princeton could be very, very proud of. Audience members came not only from Princeton and other parts of New Jersey to hear us play, but also from as far away as New York City and Philadelphia, with their own fine musical groups. It was not unusual for enthusiastic members of our audience to come up to us after concerts and say that our orchestra rivaled anything they heard in New York City.

Having played viola professionally in this country and in Europe for about 30 years, I can say with all my experience that we PSO musicians have been truly fortunate in working under Maestro Laycock. As a member of the symphony I was able to experience first-hand the incredible talent, musicality, and vision that he possesses.

We were a musical organization that was molded by this fine conductor so that we grew to work beautifully together and knew what we could expect from one another. Mark not only directed the Princeton Symphony; his musical partnership with our musicians gave the PSO its identity. That kind of symbiosis is extremely rare in the music world. That’s why I am so distressed, as are many, many of my colleagues.

I am equally distressed by PSO President Caren Sturges assertion that “it’s going to be exciting for the musicians to have an experience with someone else, because we have never had a guest conductor.”

To say that it’s going to be “exciting” for the musicians to have an experience with someone else because we’ve never had a guest conductor is ridiculous. All of the musicians in the PSO are fine professionals who have played under many, many well-known and not so well-known conductors. What was “exciting” was playing under someone who understood how to make music with all of us who had been together for so many years.

The Board of the PSO has made a grave mistake in not doing everything in its power to keep Maestro Laycock at the helm of Princeton’s wonderful treasure of an orchestra. I fear that PSO will never be the same — in terms of vision, talent and personnel.

Certainly the PSO musicians with whom I’ve spoken since the news broke are questioning whether or not they even want to continue with the orchestra without Maestro Laycock. Is there anything that can be done by the board to renegotiate and reach an agreement to restore Mark Laycock to the Princeton Symphony Orchestra?

Jacqueline Watson


Protect Pedestrians On Route 1

The following letter was sent to Congressman Rush Holt:

On one of your many trips traversing Route 1 South between Meadow Road and Nassau Park Boulevard within West Windsor Township, could you observe and craft a timely solution to what many of our walking service workers/pedestrians face daily? In all sorts of weather both day and night, pedestrians walk with their faces and backs to fast-moving Route 1 south-bound cars and trucks.

(1.) To better protect these pedestrians, what can NJ DOT do to partner with the federal government to provide guiderails and a simple, narrow asphalt-paved pathway? Perhaps we can engage the adjacent property owners to contribute toward this benefit. I presume the state has purposely ignored the construction of the pathway because of liability implications. However, the well-worn pathways are evidence of the extensive use.

If the Federal government spent $4.5 million for the architectural footbridge further south in Lawrence Township as a cross-over for the D&R Canal, could we effect this nominal improvement for the area residents as they traverse between Meadow Road (these people unceremoniously slide down a steep bank from the overpass to the Route 1 level) and Nassau Park Boulevard?

(2.) Also, particularly noteworthy, not half-way within this short segment, after several years of writing and posting my concerns about New Jersey Transit buses stopping in an active 50 mph drive lane to pick up and discharge passengers, could NJ Transit and NJDOT relocate this bus stop into a covered shelter within the Windsor Green (Staples) Shopping Center?

Current bus riders must stand unprotected while awaiting service. This situation is an accident waiting to happen. I believe construction of a simple turn-out could be a simple, cost-effective solution.

If you would like to briefly view these items, I can provide electronic pictures and/or arrange a site visit.

Peter R. Weale

144 Fisher Place, Princeton


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