On Tap This Autumn
Saturday • September 21 • 7:30 pm Sunday • September 22 • 3:00 pm
Kean Stage Art Garfunkel In Close-Up
The Rock n Roll Hall of Famer celebrates his 10th year at Enlow Recital Hall.
September 26 – October 27
Paper Mill Playhouse
Chasing Rainbows The Road to Oz
A musical telling of how Frances Gumm became Judy Garland, from her days as a vaudeville child star to her career at MGM. Check website for show schedule.
Friday • September 27 7:00 pm
Heart Love Alive Tour
The original chart-topping female rock duo comes to New Jersey with their first tour in three years—joined by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.
Saturday • September 28 8:00 pm
Prudential Center J
uan Luis Guerra Literal Tour
Grammy winning singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra and his band 4.40 stop at The Rock to debut their new studio album and perform their greatest hits.
Sunday • September 29 3:00 pm
Arlo Guthrie Alice’s Restaurant
The folk music hero returns to the Garden State for a concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the silver-screen version of Alice’s Restaurant. The film starred Guthrie and was directed by Arthur Penn.
Sunday • October 6 • 7:30 pm
Hugh Jackman The Man. The Music. The Show.
The multitalented Tony-winning performer has mounted his first world tour, featuring songs from The Greatest Showman and other Broadway musicals.
Saturday • October 12 8:00 pm
Temptations & Four Tops Live On Stage
Two of history’s most iconic R&B groups join forces in Brick City. The Temptations have seven Grammys to their credit, while the Four Tops scored two dozen Top 40 hits. Both groups have been enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Friday • October 18 • 7:30 pm
Vienna Boys Choir
The VBC was founded in the 15th century, making it one of the oldest singing groups on the planet. The Kean Stage appearance features one of the choir’s four touring groups, made up of altos and sopranos ages 9 to 14.
Saturday • October 19 6:00 & 8:30 pm
Will and Anthony Nunziata Disney and The Boys
The acclaimed duo take a magical ride through the music of the Sherman Brothers (aka The Boys), whose movie scores include Mary Poppins, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid.
Saturday • October 19 8:00 pm
NJPAC/Victoria Theater Soulshine
The Allman Brothers Experience
Six gifted musicians recreate a classic concert along with stunning video and lighting. Soulshine covers all the favorites, as well as songs played by Duane Allman before he joined the band.
Saturday • October 26 • 8:00 pm
Tusk Live On Stage
The ultimate Fleetwood Mac tribute band performs the group’s greatest hits.
Sunday • October 27 • 3:00 pm
Led Zeppelin II Classic Albums Live
Relive the band’s signature disc 50 years later with a group of talented musicians.
Sunday • October 27 • 7:00 pm
Bad Bunny X 100Pre Tour
“King of Trap” Bad Bunny hits the stage in Newark with a high-voltage stage show, accompanied by some of the top stars of Latino rap and hip hop.
Sunday • October 27 • 3:00 pm
Munich Philharmonic Emperor Concerto
Valery Gergiev conducts and Behzod Abduraimov performs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 as guest soloist. Gergiev, a champion of Russian composers, served as principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra.
Saturday • November 2 • 7:00 pm
Chubby Checker & Friends Rock and Roll Spectacular
Chubby Checker and The Wildcats headlines a raucous revue that includes The Duprees, The Capris and The Tokens.
Friday • November 8 8:00 pm
Mandy Patinkin Diaries
Accompanied by Adam Ben-David, Broadway legend Mandy Patinkin performs songs by Stephen Sondheim, Harry Chapin, Rufus Wainwright and others.
Friday • November 8 • 8:00 pm
Saturday • November 9 • 2:00 & 8:00 pm
Sunday • November 10 • 2:00 pm
Beautiful The Carole King Musical
The hit Broadway show traces Carole King’s journey from struggling songwriter to Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
Thursday • November 14 7:00 pm
Nimbus Dance Falling Sky
The innovative Jersey City dance troupe debuts Samuel Pott’s Falling Sky, set to a score by Qasim Naqvi. The evening of music and dance represents a bold collaboration between Nimbus, NJPAC and the NJ Symphony.
Thursday • November 14 8:00 pm
Chaka Kahn Live On Stage
The 10-time Grammy winner pioneered the fusion of funk and soul across a career that has spanned more than four decades. She is touring in support of her new album, Hello Happiness—her first in a dozen years.
November 15 – November 23
Sunday In the Park with George
Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s smash Broadway hit comes to Kean Stage for eight performances. Check website for dates and times.
FOR THE KIDS
Sunday • September 22 11:00 & 2:00 pm
Jason Bishop Straight Up Magic
The master of double levitation performs his over-the-top illusions and close-up sleights of hand with help from lead assistant Kim Hess.
Friday • October 4 • 6:00 pm
Saturday • October 5 10:30 am, 2:00 & 5:30 pm
Sunday • October 6 10:30 am & 2:00 pm
Sesame Street Live Make Your Magic
Join Elmo and friends as they welcome magician extraordinaire Justin.
Saturday • October 26 2:00 & 7:30 pm
New Jersey Symphony Orchestra
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The NJSO performs the score of sixth Harry Potter film live as it plays on the big screen.
Saturday • October 26 11:00 am
NJPAC/Victoria Theater Terra Theater
The Little Mermaid
Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved tale is brought to life by a team of master stage performers and puppeteers.
November 6 – 10
Disney On Ice Road Trip Adventures
Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Mickey, Minnie and friends take young fans on a wild ride around the world.
IT’S SO FUNNY
Friday • October 4 • 8:00 pm
Nemr The Future Is Now
Lebanese-American standup Nemr Abou Nassar makes his New Jersey debut in the Victoria Theater. Nemr is coming off his sold-out Love Isn’t the Answer world tour.
Saturday • October 12 7:00 & 9:30 pm
Mike Marino & John Bramnick Live On Stage
Marino’s take on Italian-American culture has made him the bad boy of New Jersey comedy. He is joined by lawyer/comic Jon Bramnick. Check out Kike’s musings in Stand Up Guy on page 82
Saturday • October 19 • 8:00 pm
Sunday • October 20 • 7:30 pm
Jo Koy Live On Stage
Few comics are hotter right now than Filipino-American standup Jo Koy, whose rise from coffee houses to sold-out concerts and Netflix specials is one of the great stories in the business. His “overnight” success only took 25 years!
Friday • October 25 • 8:00 pm
Carol Burnett An Evening of Laughter & Reflection
The beloved comic actress relives her greatest moments, shows video clips and (of course!) takes audience questions
Friday • November 1 • 7:30 pm
Randy Rainbow Live On Stage
Satirist Randy Rainbow comes to New Brunswick for a wild evening of spoofs, parodies and scenery-chewing.
Saturday • November 2 • 8:00 pm
Franco Escamilla Payaso
Mexican-born comic performer and YouTube star Franco Escamilla comes to Newark with his new tour, Payaso (Clowns).
Friday • November 8 • 8:00 pm
Saturday • November 9 2:00 & 8:00 pm
Eli Castro Made in Puerto Rico
Standup Eli Castro takes a funny, loving look at “Spanglish” culture.
Thursday • October 10 • 8:00 pm
John Kerry A Conversation
Former Secretary of State John Kerry takes part in the New Jersey Speaker Series, presented by Fairleigh Dickinson University. Prior to his service in the Obama administration, Kerry spent three decades in the Senate.
Thursday • October 24 • 8:00 pm
Zanny Minton Beddoes Conversations
The editor in chief of The Economist takes the Prudential Hall Stage as part of the New Jersey Speaker Series.
Wednesday • November 6 8:00 pm
James Carter, James Francies & Kandace Springs Blue Note 80th Anniversary
Three of the top names in contemporary jazz present an intimate evening honoring Blue Note’s decades-long heritage of cool jazz.
Friday • November 15 • 7:00 pm
NJPAC/Chase Room NJMEA All-State Jazz with Steve Turre Live On Stage
A new generation of jazz artists share the Chase Room stage, led by innovator/educator Steve Turre.
Friday • November 15 • 7:30 pm
After Midnight The Music of the King Cole Trio
This year marks what would have been Nat King Cole’s 100th birthday. After Midnight celebrates his legacy and focuses on his work in the 1940s as a trend-setting pianist.
Friday • November 15 • 8:00 pm
Spyro Gyra, Steps Ahead & Michael Franks Live On Stage
Three jazz-fusion hit-makers share the big stage at NJPAC as part of the James Moody Jazz Festival.
Saturday • November 16 8:00 pm
The Roots with A Christian McBride Situation Live On Stage
The Tonight Show house band joins forces with Christian McBride’s experimental ensemble for an evening of jazz, funk, R&B and hip hop.
Thursday • November 21 • 7:30 pm
Lee Ritenour with Dave Grusin & Friends Live On Stage
Jazz guitarist Lee Ritenour and pianist Dave Grusin perform as part of the James Moody Jazz Festival.
Editor’s Note: For more info on these listings log onto the following web sites:
Kean Stage • keanstage.com
NJPAC • njpac.org
Paper Mill Playhouse • papermill.org
Prudential Center • prucenter.com
State Theatre • stnj.org
The Musings of Mike Marino… Bad Boy of New Jersey Comedy
After watching the debates on TV, I’m now thinking of running for President of the United States. I would campaign on the slogan Make America Italian Again. The new
Pledge of Allegiance would be “I don’t know nothing. I don’t see nothing. I don’t say nothing.” If the other candidates attacked me on policy during a debate, my response would be, “Hey, let’s go to a break.” When the commercial was over the stage would be empty. My rebuttal would be, “I don’t know what happened. They’re gone now and there’s nothing you could do about it.”
If I were President I would never tweet. I’m an Italian- American and I don’t want anyone to know what I’m thinking. Also, no one would “follow” me. (I follow you.) I’d have to answer questions from the press but I’d be sketchy on the details. If they asked me What just happened in North Korea? My answer would be, “Never mind. It’s gone now. There’s nothing you could do about it.”
My parents were big on discipline when I was a kid. But it looked a little different back then. Timeout, when we were kids, was a lot different than timeout today. Now you send kids to their room and make them think about what they did wrong. Timeout for me was how much time I was out after my mother punched me in the head. My father mostly threatened me. He was always saying he’d knock me into next week. I would say, “Good. I’ve got a test on Wednesday. Hit me hard.”
Remember how badly you wanted Slip n Slide as a kid? My dad refused to buy one for me. He made it instead. Hefty bags. Duct tape. Baby oil and a garden hose. You didn’t slip or slide—you took off like a rocket. And you didn’t stop until you hit a parked car. On rainy days, we played board games in my neighborhood like most kids, but with one exception. We never played Clue. Italians don’t play games called Clue. Can you imagine? “Who’s the murderer?” I don’t know. I didn’t see nothing. Short game.
My favorite toy was the talking GI Joe. Only when we played with GI Joe’s they were soldiers in a different “army.” They were part of an organized crime syndicate. I called mine GI Giovanni. He was the head of the ﬁveHasbro families. When you pulled his string, he would say “Woah, whoa, whoa. Whaddya think you’re doing? Don’t you ever touch my string!” His brother was GI Joey. And there was GI Nicky, GI Salvie, and Downtown Ronnie from Brooklyn. GI Giovanni dated Barbie. He would take her out to a really nice restaurant called the Easy Bake. It went out of business because every time the lightbulb died, the food would get cold. We made Ken the owner of The Dreamhouse, the nightclub where Barbie worked. Every once in a while, GI Giovanni had to straighten Ken out. One day, Ken turned up missing. Barbie asked GI Giovanni if he’d seen him. GI Giovanni told Barbie, “He’s gone now…and there’s nothing you could do about it.”
Editor’s Note: Mike Marino will be appearing at NJPAC on October 12. Despite his blond hair and blue eyes, he insists he is Italian…and can prove it: He is 55 and still lives with his mom. “Why move out? The food is good and the rent is reasonable.” Visit his web site at mikemarino.net.
Among the most-watched and, not coincidentally, most proﬁtable shows on television in 2019 are reality shows all about buying, selling, rehabbing and renting real estate. Few subjects are more personal than transforming a house into a home. Most people will only go through this process a handful of times in their lives, so it’s easy to see the appeal of sitting back and watching others knee-deep in the myriad joys and frustrations of the experience. A bit harder to understand is where reality ends and reality television begins. Why, for instance, does it take ten weeks to renovate my kitchen when sled-hammer-wielding HGTV show hosts can seemingly redo an entire house in a third of the time? Who are these buyers that adore the curb appeal of homes I ﬁnd hideous? Or who trash a brand-new bathroom as “dated?” I can’t help thinking that if everyone in 2019 is obsessed with an “open ﬂoor plan,” won’t everyone in 2021 want a closed ﬂoor plan? (P.S. some industry trend-followers say this is already happening.) Now realtors are feeling the impact of reality shows. There is a whole new breed of buyer and renter out there, and the reality is that TV isn’t making things easier.
How Did We Get Here?
A little history, ﬁrst. You may not be aware of this, but home ﬂipping and “reno” shows are entering their third decade of popularity. Initially, they found a hungry audience during the real estate boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s. This happened during an unprecedented proliferation of cable channels (and scattering of TV viewers), which in turn put a premium on inexpensive content. Consequently, series featuring “sets” that were already “built” and ready for ﬁlming— and “characters” who were unpaid or low-paid—were a good ﬁt. These market conditions also spurred a huge uptick in reality shows and talk shows.
You may recall that the ﬁrst generation of reality home programs featured people who seemed a lot like you and me. They weren’t particularly good-looking, but not bad to look at, either. They made buying, ﬁxing and reselling homes feel like child’s play. Naturally, a lot of amateurs were tempted to jump into the market after watching these shows, driving up prices and actually pricing experienced home ﬂippers out of the business. Those early reality series eventually disappeared, washed away by a tsunami of foreclosures when the housing bubble burst in 2008.
Yet with chaos came opportunity. A lot of ﬂippers who had backed out of the market in the early 2000s rushed back in to scoop up all the bargains. TV programmers were paying attention and, this time, they focused on shows built around more compelling characters—often renovation or home- selling power couples with appealing looks, backstories, and personalities. Sometimes they worked with clients, sometimes they worked for themselves, sometimes they led “teams” of ﬁxer-uppers. Ratings soared.
As the economy recovered, a second tier of shows emerged. They featured buyers and renters (aka house hunters) looking for homes in new cities, on bodies of water and in foreign countries. These series found an eager following, too. In most cases, the recipe for ratings success was similar: A couple tours a handful of properties before picking a favorite and either moving in as-is or undergoing a massive renovation. Viewers get to play along and guess which property will “win.”
Which is kind of where we are now.
So how is the current crop of real estate reality shows exerting force upon the marketplace? Like it or not, people believe what they see on television. And what they often see on these series is behavior on the part of buyers, sellers, renters, and rehabbers that, while admittedly entertaining, would be considered ugly by most civilized humans out here in the real real world. The people we watch touring homes and sharing their (often insipid) opinions on a room-to-room basis are encouraging actual buyers and renters to do the same. And that has had a ripple effect throughout the industry. They are driving agents crazy.
In the real estate game, the customer is always right, right? Right. The problems begin when clients start expecting something north of perfection, even if the selling or rental price is a steal. That puts stress on the entire process, and everyone in it, which in turn increases the odds of something going wrong, a deal falling through and everyone wasting their valuable time and energy.
Today, in a home-sale situation, the agent showing a house has little choice but to nod meekly at every criticism a buyer weaponized by some reality show can conjure up. The agent representing the home shopper is put in the uncomfortable position of having to become a ﬁerce advocate for his or her clients, even if they are being unreasonable or haven’t a clue what they’re talking about. To either agent, the prospect of losing a commission is far worse than contradicting the folks writing the big check. The end result is often a torturous closing where buyers nit-pick every detail, sellers nervously hand-wring and lawyers rack up hefty fees.
No one’s shedding a tear for real estate agents. The good ones make a very good living, so what’s a little extra angst on their part?
Ironically, the losers may be the home buyers or renters, who assume all their demands—reasonable and otherwise—have been met and everything is perfect when they ﬁnally sign on the dotted line. Landlords and home sellers are now well aware of the bad habits viewers have picked up from the reality TV couples on the real estate shows. Consequently, they are more likely than ever to make cheap, cosmetic ﬁxes to mask much bigger problems. If they are missed during an inspection, then Oh well. The calculation here is that the arbitrary pickiness of a new tenant or owner is “going to cost me something on the back end of a deal, so I’m going to save some cash on ﬁxes before I even show the place.” In the old days, buyer and seller (or landlord and tenant) would discuss a signiﬁcant issue and come to an agreement on either a remediation or a cash credit back on the selling price or the rent. That type of civility is fading away from the marketplace.
Are the homebuyers and renters we see on TV really as spoiled and stupid as they sometimes seem? Ask anyone who works for a television production company and they will tell you that there is a yawning chasm between reality TV shows and actual reality. It’s called editing. And time management. And budget limitations. The whole point of making these shows is to produce an engaging outcome, to get to the end of the episode as efﬁciently and entertainingly as possible. That’s what makes The Amazing Race so amazing and Flea Market Flip so ﬂipping good.
In most cases, the shortcuts TV producers take tend to be harmless. For instance, do we actually need to watch the guy in Man vs. Food chow down on a pile of heart-clogging meat and cheese for a full 30 minutes? Can we survive without watching dehydrated contestants on Naked and Afraid debate the pros and cons of drinking puddle water? Is it important to observe the Kardashians when they are sitting around talking about absolutely nothing? (Okay, bad example.) The point is, No, of course not.
What we see in the ﬁnished hour or half-hour product is a version of reality that takes us up and down, and throws in a twist or two before we get exactly what we want. It’s entertainment, not a How-To. I watch the shows where a couple is trying to ﬁnd an apartment in a new city and they turn down a perfect place because it’s $100 over their “budget.” Are you kidding me? Nobody does that! Saturday Night Live did a hilarious sketch about that recently.
As mentioned earlier, most of the buying and renting shows make it seem as if people look at three properties and then decide which one is perfect for them. Any realtor will tell you that this number is comically low. Even customers who know exactly what they are looking for—and have a realistic budget— will tour a dozen or more homes or apartments before pulling the trigger. Because ﬁlm crews don’t have the budget or production ﬂexibility to tag along on weeks- or months-long shopping excursions, they cut corners. Quite often, in fact, buyers (or renters) will have already decided on a property before ﬁlming starts, which means the entire episode is staged. The two properties they “reject” might not even be on the market—more than one program has ﬁlmed in the homes of friends who had no intention of selling, just so the producer could ﬁnd some properties for the buyers to turn down.
This casts an aspect of these “best of three” programs in a new light. Fans of these series love when buyers step into a room and begin trashing the paint color or light ﬁxture or some other easily changeable feature. Well, that means they are dumping on a property they know they will never occupy because they’ve already purchased or rented what they want.
My wife is semi-addicted to these best-of-three shows. She becomes very agitated when people walk into rooms and make idiotic comments like “this vanity is dated.” Of course, after you watch enough of these shows you come to understand that these are not honest, thoughtful reactions. Think about it: These folks don’t walk into a room and magically ﬁnd a ﬁlm crew set up there! The way these reaction shots are engineered is that every time the crew sets up in a room to ﬁlm the couple entering, the producer asks them to say the thing they like most about it and like least about it. What actually makes the cut happens in post-production. If you walked into what is essentially a featureless bedroom and were forced to spit out quick observations, you’d probably make a dumb comment, too. The baseboards are weird. This is very blue. That window is small. You would then be at the mercy of the editor.
They Call Them Flippers
Finally, let’s take a look at the stars of real estate reality shows: the people who buy, renovate and sell homes. There is now a pantheon of stars, past and present, who made their fortunes doing what they do while the cameras rolled. But I wonder: did they really?
Something that’s always bugged me is how one of these TV power-tool couples buys a $300,000 house, ﬁxes it up for $75,000, and then ﬂips it for $425,000— and then crow about their $50,000 “proﬁt.” I’ve ﬂipped a house and I know there’s a lot that eats into that proﬁt. In New Jersey, aka the state of taxation, a three-month ﬂip on a decent house could set you back $3,000 or more in property taxes alone. Granted, in other places the taxes are much lower, but the cost of utilities, insurance, maintenance and possible unforeseen expenses (including shoddy work, mold, termites, theft, and vandalism) can mount up quickly regardless of where a property is located. Add a realtor’s commission and closing costs, and that $50,000 starts looking more like $15,000 or $20,000—and that’s assuming you sell it in a relatively short amount of time. You can still make a living on those margins, but you’d have to keep ﬁnding well-priced properties, have a small army of trustworthy and efﬁcient suppliers, and run multiple projects simultaneously. (Or have a nice smile and your own HGTV series.)
Tarek and Christina El Moussa (left) of ratings juggernaut Flip or Flop (married when their series began, now divorced) apparently have been successful doing both— and their smiles are to die for. They reportedly have dozens of projects going during the course of the year, which enables them to get renovations done quickly and inexpensively by a more or less dedicated team of workers. They began ﬁxing and ﬂipping foreclosed homes in Orange County, CA after the real estate bubble burst and they got their own show in 2013. At the end of each episode, after a bumpy renovation project, they hold an open house and almost always get a huge offer for their ﬂip. I can’t recall them ever having “ﬂopped” on camera, but there no doubt have been some money pits along the way. No one could be that good.
Two of the more popular shows where the stars renovate homes for clients are Property Brothers (starring Drew and Jonathan Scott, above) and Fixer Upper (starring Chip and Joanna Gaines). They do nice work and both shows seem pretty honest about the surprises home buyers encounter in big gut jobs. The unrealistic aspect is how quickly and how well those renovations get done. I love it when Jonathan Scott (he’s the contractor twin) delivers the horrifying news about some undiagnosed problem within a wall or ﬂoor or ceiling: It’s going to cost you an extra $6,000 and add three more days to the job. That’s it? If my contractor told me that kind of “bad news” I’d give him a long, wet kiss!—assuming he didn’t disappear for six weeks (see my 2017 EDGE story, “Hell’s Kitchen”).
Chip and Joanna (page 26) have a cool warehouse where they can build and design stuff for their clients. My contractor probably worked out of a 10 x 20 storage space on Route 9. The clients on Fixer Upper do seem delighted with their outcomes, but (not to sound snobbish) when everything is said and done, they are still living in Waco, TX.
I know, I know. Understanding what’s real and what’s not when you watch a reality television series kind of takes the fun out of it. But honestly, that could be said about every TV show ever made. Did anyone really believe The Professor on Gilligan’s Island could make a transistor radio out of coconuts but not ﬁgure out a way to patch the hole in the cabin cruiser that stranded them there? Did you buy Howie Mandel as a doctor on St. Elsewhere? Do you turn off the Wizard of Oz before they pull back the curtain on the guy working the levers?
The lesson here is to completely enjoy—but don’t entirely trust—whatever you choose to consume for entertainment purposes. And never ever believe that the real estate business is as easy as it looks on reality TV.
Back to School
Can you match these classic songs with their “go-to” lyrics?
Steely Dan • 1973
The Beach Boys • 1963
Belle & Sebastian • 1996
Chuck Berry • 1957
Sam Cooke • 1960
Bowling for Soup • 2006
Van Halen • 1984
Pink Floyd • 1979
Alice Cooper • 1972
The Police • 1980
The Ramones • 1979
Elton John • 1973
A.We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.
But then my homework was never quite like this.
Back when we were brainstorming stories for this issue, the original idea seemed simple enough: Ask chefs, the editor said, how they deal with feeding their kids. You know—chefs
must have secrets, know how to make magic meals children won’t scorn or shufﬂe off to the dogs, be able to inspire their offspring to become even better professional chefs than their parents. Well. Hmm. “No,” a chef said to me. “You’re not going to print this!” It would, he said, be a huge embarrassment as his kids were the worst of the pickiest eaters and there was nothing he could do, he believed, other than wait them out till they had kids of their own and ﬁnally could come together over the table.
Other chefs offered similar responses. “My kids eat nuggets. Pizza—bad strip-mall pizza,” an industry veteran said. “One likes strawberries. Or liked strawberries. This season, she wouldn’t touch them. Pasta, sometimes. But they hate my food” (which otherwise is celebrated by the food cognoscente). There was a top-tier chef who conﬁded that he basically cooks one food his children will eat: fried chicken. “That’s it,” he added. “You going to tell people this and put me out of business? My own kids won’t eat my food?” And there was a chef who said, “People beg me to cook for their weddings or birthdays. My own kid wants me to take him to Chuck E. Cheese on his birthday.”
Plan B. Which started out fabulously. I explained this issue’s Teachable Moment theme and asked a few culinary pros to tell me who taught, inspired and otherwise helped them chart their courses to a food career. After a few replies on the order of “Wow…great idea! I had great teachers at culinary school/a deity of a chef at my ﬁrst stage/read a cookbook I loved,” enthusiasm waned, especially after I said I was going to reach out to the mentor-teachers to let them know how they inspired a career and ask for their comments.
OK. Got it.
The word for car shoppers this fall is TECHNOLOGY. But it may not mean what you think.
By Sarah Lee Marks
In the brave new world of Internet shopping and home delivery, it has never been easier to purchase a car. Or trickier. Whether you are in the market for a new or pre-owned vehicle, doing your homework before hitting submit is critical—from ﬁnding the best deal to getting what you paid for, with no surprises in between. Here are some tips you’re unlikely to ﬁnd elsewhere, in plain English, arranged to form a word with which we’re all familiar: TECHNOLOGY.
T is for Terminology • When choosing features, words matter. Understand the difference between an ALERT or WARNING feature—which indicates pending disaster—and the active KEEPING or ASSIST, which actually performs an action to avoid the wreck. For example, a LANE DEPARTURE alert warns you that your car’s tires are creeping over to the next lane. LANE KEEPING corrects this with a subtle nudge back into the lane. Keep your hands ﬁrmly on the wheel when testing this feature as drivers have complained the sensitivity in the steering wheel can “rip it out of your hands” if you aren’t paying attention.
E is for Emergency Braking • I think this is the best new feature available and here’s why: Sensors in the front grill monitor the trafﬁc ahead to maintain a set distance between your car and the one in front of you. As trafﬁc slows, if you don’t have your foot on the brake in two seconds or less, the vehicle will apply the brakes to slow or stop the car to avoid a front crash. The key to this feature is knowing which models have a feature that slows down the car and which one actually stops it. Neither feature works 100% on wet, leaf-covered or slushy roads, where skidding is only avoidable with defensive wheel maneuvering.
C is for Cash • Should you ﬁnance, lease or pay all cash for your next car? Cash is king everywhere but in a new car dealership. Did you know that dealers make a few extra bucks when you lease or ﬁnance a car? So if you’re buying new and expect a “cash discount,” fuhgeddaboudit.
H is for Help • Just because you are shopping online, it doesn’t mean you are alone. Honest, informative help is out there if you know where to look. Research web sites like IIHS.org and SAFERCAR.gov provide recall, star rankings and “crash avoidance comparison” tables by brand and model. Look for “make and model” forums online to learn what owners are saying about their car experience. Edmunds.com, KBB.com, CarandDriver.com and USNewsandWorldReport.com all offer car reviews with varying perspectives on the drive and functionality of new makes and models. This is a great place to ﬁnd out if the model for 2020 is a complete redesign—and, if so, whether those amazing new features are adding a hefty price increase. Also, be aware that the pre-owned version of your dream car that is magically available with a killer discount could be a known lemon…or, on the other hand, a 2019 closeout with great rebates that may suit your needs perfectly. Speaking of rebates, watch out for “rebate stacking” on dealer websites. This tactic shows an artiﬁcially lower price by counting up rebates that you might not qualify to receive when you show up at the dealership. It’s a nasty trick to get you to the lot. Get a detailed price breakdown to be sure the incentives offered apply to you.
N–O means NO • The idea of buying a car completely online, in the middle of the night while dressed in your pajamas, may look fun and easy on TV, but be prepared to say No if something seems amiss. Check the dealership or sellers’ reviews on Google, Yelp and DealerRater.com. Reviews by previous customers can reveal chilling stories of dirty cars, missing maintenance or accessories upon arrival. A seven-day return policy is usually a return and replace option, not a 100% money-back guarantee. The online companies may offer little assistance or telephone support, and little to no instruction on how to use any of the features. Local dealers aren’t keen on offering free advice for a car you purchased online. So NO also means know who you are the six-year auto loan when searching for a lower payment. Leasing makes sense for those buyers with lease with a score in the 600s but the payment is unlikely to be as attractive as the one advertised on TV.
Inexpensive leases require a huge down payment, have very low mileage limitations and run longer than the typical 36-month term. Among the many advantages of a lease is the option to purchase your vehicle at the end of the contract; with a loan, the car is yours even if your transportation needs change. Also, car-leasing banks have ﬁgured out the sweet spot to make it easy for you to move from an old lease to a new one before the term is up. However, be alert for dealers who claim they can: 1) “pull you out” of your lease with more than four months remaining, 2) lower your payment, and/or get you a newer, fancier ride. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
O is for OnStar • Concierge or SOS services are part of the Bluetooth integration between your cell phone and your new car. If your car has an emergency response system, sensors in the car will connect a satellite transmitter in your vehicle to an emergency operator. The operator will speak to you through the radio speakers to determine the seriousness of the situation. If you can’t speak, the operator will send Emergency responders to the coordinate location of your vehicle. You may also manually activate this process if you are in danger, lost or otherwise need assistance. These services are free during the warranty period of the car when purchased new. If you buy a used car, contact the brand to determine their SOS policy. Additional services you might want to explore include 1) a mobile hotspot, which enables you to utilize your computer while traveling, 2) concierge services, which make reservations at your favorite restaurant and
3) turn-by-turn navigation from a live person—all at a price, of course. Apple Car Play and Android Auto also offer integration for navigation and “SIRI/Hey Google” voice commands through the speaker system assuming you own a compatible phone. Test your phone sync before you buy.
G is for Gas • Don’t be timid about asking whether a car takes regular or premium gasoline. Over its life the difference in cost can add up. However, if you lean toward alternative fuels, be clear about what it is you are shopping for. A hybrid vehicle is gas-powered but uses an electric motor and lithium-ion battery to increase miles per gallon. In some cars, this process is assisted with regenerative braking. When you brake, the energy of the vehicle stopping sends additional energy back to the battery for use on demand. The Toyota Prius is the most well-known model on the road today using this type of hybrid system. The Chevrolet Volt, Audi eTron, Porsche Cayenne and Panamera are parallel hybrids. Parallel hybrids use electric power of various range before switching over to fuel. The combination system reduces “range anxiety”—the concern of running out of power far from a charging station. The cost to your home electric bill is negligible. The Volt was discontinued in 2019, but if you ﬁnd a deal on a new (or almost-new) one, don’t be afraid to buy it. Electric or EV models on the market include Tesla, Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf. They are 100% electric and differ in price largely based on range, which varies from 180 to 300-plus miles per charge. However, if the power goes out in your home, you are stalled until recharged. Tesla uses a unique charging coupler that requires an adapter when charging on non-Tesla charging stations. If you are in the market for an all-electric automobile, look into federal and state legislation involving tax credits and charges applied to EV owners. Not long ago EV purchasers enjoyed a huge tax credit—up to $7,500—but that has disappeared on most models. Many states are grappling with how to tax EV owners who enjoy the roads but pay no fuel tax to maintain them. Ask your accountant if there are any tax credits on the car you like, and monitor your legislature for activities which could cost you in the future.
Y means Why? • When you are test-driving, discussing prices or debating extended service contracts, the most important word you should use is Why? “Why do I need it? Will it keep me safer on the road? Will it save me on insurance costs?” If the answer makes sense to you, then act. If you don’t get a reasonable explanation, hit the brakes and do more research.
Editor’s Note: Sarah Lee Marks is a car concierge and automotive consumer advocate for all things car-related. Sarah lives in Henderson, Nevada with her husband, Norman. You can ask her car questions at her website: www.mycarlady.com.
A dozen years in the making, Trinitas unveils the Institute for DBT and Allied Treatments.
For some people, change is difﬁcult. For others, self-acceptance is the long hill to climb. For individuals undergoing Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), positive outcomes are the
result of ﬁnding a comfortable middle ground between these seemingly contradictory and often uncomfortable life challenges. At the Trinitas Institute for DBT and Allied Treatments, outpatient clients—including those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and substance, eating, and mood disorders—learn behavioral skills that get them back, and keep them on track.
The Institute is new, but the work being done in this area has been going on at Trinitas for 12 years. “We’ve offered high-quality DBT treatment to adolescents and adults for years,” says Dr. James McCreath, the hospital’s VP of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health. “The DBT team has reached a level of skill, experience, and competencies that we feel we are ready to train other clinicians who seek to provide high-ﬁdelity DBT services.”
Truth be told, Trinitas has been working toward “institute status” for more than a decade.
“We already give presentations around the state and offer in-depth training as opposed to just outpatient therapy services,” explains Dr. Essie Larson, who has been with the program since its start and is co-director of the Institute along with Dr. Atara Hiller. “We train psychology and social work interns, psychology externs, as well as psychiatry residents. Our goal is to have trainees who come through really learn what the empirically-based DBT model looks like in practice.”
The Institute team has undergone intensive formal training with Behavioral Tech, an organization created by Dr. Marsha Linehan, the developer of Dialectical Behavior Therapy in the 1980s. The treatment provided is completely in line with Linehan’s original model and is considered the gold standard for treating emotional regulation issues. “We do it by the book,” Dr. Larson stresses. “Lots of consultation and training—even for those of us who have been doing it for a long time.”
DBT treatment has gained a reputation in some circles as a “treatment for the wealthy.” At Trinitas, however, the adult DBT outpatient program is one of only a handful in New Jersey that take clients who want to go through their insurance providers, while the adolescent DBT program is the only outpatient program of its kind that regularly takes insurance. “We are dedicated to providing this treatment for clients who would not be able to afford it otherwise,” Dr. Larson says. Moreover, the adolescent DBT program also offers Spanish multi-family skills groups.
“We also value helping families who cannot access evidence-based treatments because of language barriers. The Spanish Adolescent DBT program has been an incredible resource for teens and their Spanish- speaking family members, enabling them to get the clinical results they desperately needed but could not access,” Dr. Hiller says.
The Institute is focused on recovery-based outpatient treatment, so success is dependent on a high level of motivation. A doctor or insurer can suggest to a client or family that it is a good idea, but clients (or the family for an adolescent client) must make ﬁrst contact themselves and put themselves on the waitlist. For adult DBT, the staff will do an initial phone contact to answer any questions and then send out a packet that explains in full detail what is involved in the program. The prospective client answers some questions about
themselves and returns the packet as an initial screening to determine ﬁt within DBT. For the adolescent DBT program, the family must call directly. A phone screening is conducted to ensure that they meet the treatment criteria before being placed on the waitlist.
“Following that, when a spot in the program opens up, an in-person intake is completed to further assess the ‘ﬁt’ with our DBT program. Then there are three pre-treatment sessions (four for the adolescent program) before fully joining the program,” says Dr. Hiller. “That’s when we discuss goals, obstacles, and start working to increase the client’s commitment. After the ﬁnal pre-treatment session, clients and therapists sign a contract together, agreeing to work together for a speciﬁed amount of time.”
For adults, that amount of time is a minimum of one year, and with contract renewals, can run as long as 30 months. For adolescents, the program runs a minimum of 24 weeks for English-speaking families (4 pretreatment sessions and 20 treatment weeks) and
28 for Spanish-speaking families (4 pretreatment sessions and 24 treatment weeks).
For both the adult and adolescent DBT programs, treatment consists of a once-a-week individual session and a once-a-week two-hour skills group. In addition, clients (and their caretakers in adolescent DBT) have access to between-session phone coaching to help use the skills they learn in sessions out in the real world.
“While this may sound like very little therapy for individuals who are struggling so much in life, this is exactly what the empirically-based DBT model is based on. It is the quality and the speciﬁcity of the treatment, as well as the intense training and supervision of the clinicians, that makes it effective for these clients. Not the quantity of weekly sessions,” says Dr. Larson. Both programs also have Consultation Team meetings each week to ensure that clinicians are getting support themselves and are adhering to the DBT model.
The overarching goal of the Trinitas Institute for DBT and Allied Treatments is creating a strong foundation of skills to deal with daily life—building a “Life Worth Living”, DBT’s primary goal. That may sound simple, but it’s not. DBT clients tend to have an “exquisitely sensitive” emotional regulation system (they become upset more quickly, more intensely and take longer to cool down) and more than 90 percent come to the program with a signiﬁcant history of trauma.
According to Dr. Larson, while DBT itself is not a trauma treatment, the staff at the Institute is also trained in empirically-based treatments like Prolonged Exposure (PE) to help clients overcome the often paralyzing symptoms of their traumas once they have learned skills to manage their suicidal, self-harming and other high-risk behaviors. “We recognize that building a Life Worth Living does not just mean stopping behaviors,” she says. “It also means treating the suffering that often drives the behaviors.”
“No one has taught them what to do with all these intense emotions,” laments Dr. Hiller. “So we see the clients trying to tolerate the emotions and problem- solve using behaviors that include self-harm, drugs, and eating disorders. They have often been unsuccessful in other types of treatment.”
Indeed, most individuals entering the DBT program see and respond to things in their world as black-and-white, which leads to less effective coping decisions. At the Trinitas Institute for DBT and Allied Treatments, therapists help clients see reality as a whole, not a collection of extremes.
“We spend a lot of time teaching that there is no absolute truth, that everything is a mixed bag,” says Dr. Larson. “This is where the ‘dialectical’ part of DBT comes in. Simply put, it means that everything is composed of opposites. But that middle ground can be so uncomfortable for the people we treat. They do tend to gravitate towards the black or the white, the right or the wrong—just to have a clear answer. The statement ‘it depends‘ is very accurate when making decisions and it is also hard to tolerate for our clients.”
Editor’s Note: The Trinitas Institute for DBT and Allied Treatments is located at 655 East Jersey Ave. in Elizabeth. For more information on its programs, visit www.dbtnj.org or call (908) 994-7378 for more information on the adolescent DBT program and (908) 994-7087 for more information on the adult DBT program.
In the hands of an accomplished artist, the manipulation of light can communicate a feeling, underscore emotion and elevate the means by which a canvas tells a story. The work of New Jersey painter Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso conveys an intimate relationship with light, which illuminates—both literally and ﬁguratively—everything she does.
Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso can be called an alchemist. Her ﬁgurative art blends both classic and modern elements with mystery and spirituality. It conjures up paintings by Caravaggio,
Jan van Eyck, and others, whose treasures on canvas stop you in your tracks as though you were suddenly face to face with a panther.
The 51-year-old beauty from West New York, NJ, has taught at the National Academy of Fine Arts and elsewhere, and in the past decade has won more than 25 awards and accolades, including an artistic residency in Bulgaria. Of Ecuadoran and Cuban descent, Dellosso accelerates her stunning works with the latest exhibition “A Brush with HerStory,” which will run from August 31 through November 10, 2020, starting at the Heckscher Museum in Huntington, NY, and then moving to other museums and galleries. Her subjects lean toward the provocative and include many of history’s most intriguing women. Dellosso’s art brings fantastic images to the New Jersey Register of masters, and no doubt to the world in perpetuity.
R. Brandon Horner
It is almost 9:00 at night when my wife sits down at our dining room table to begin the homework I assigned that morning. Just to be clear, she’s not a member of my seventh-grade Literature class— she’s a teacher at the same school, and she’s taken it upon herself to complete a project I’ve given my students as we read The Tempest.
I’ve taught the play for over a decade, and each year I try to keep it fresh by working in or swapping out an assignment or two. This year, I ordered a few hundred tiny wooden ﬁgures from Amazon and planned to have each student assemble her or his own cast of characters by painting and dressing each one as they are introduced in the play. In my mind, it would be a fun, creative thing for them to do, a lower-stakes assignment that might allow for some of them to earn a high grade during a difﬁcult unit of study. And as we block out scenes, they can have them out on their desks and arrange them as necessary. Something that will distract them when necessary and turn a daunting text into an opportunity for creativity. I don’t want to stiﬂe them.
Fun, right? Just order the ﬁgures, give them the general idea, let them run with it.
My wife disagreed. They needed a model, she told me, an exemplar. So, during a free period, I took one of the ﬁgures down to the art room and created my own little wooden Prospero. When I showed it to her, she took a moment before she responded.
“That’s nice,” she said. “But maybe I should make the rest.”
She spent hours crafting a set of ten characters that I’d keep on my desk, all for an assignment on a play she’s never taught. The difference between my work and hers was laughable. I had drawn what was supposed to be a cape on my Prospero, coloring it in with a fading purple marker, the colors bleeding sloppily; her Miranda wore a gown with a sheer overlay, her hair in a French braid made from gift wrapping twine.
It did not take long for my students to tell which Horner had made which.
“That’s terrible,” they said, pointing to my Prospero. “Those are Mrs. Horner’s,” pointing to the rest. These are the things that good teachers do, this is the behind-the-scenes work that they often speak of with pride and determination, the long weekend hours spent grading papers, the early mornings they meet with students to offer extra help. The job, when done by the best of us, can only be entirely consuming. My wife takes it to the level where she’s working on assignments for other teacher’s students.
As a middle school teacher married to another middle school teacher (who teaches in the same department, often with the same students), it’s difﬁcult to ﬁnd a time when we’re not talking or thinking about school. It’s been the setting for our entire lives together; we ﬁrst met when she interviewed at our school almost ten years ago. Our oldest child just ﬁnished his ﬁrst year in the school’s nursery program. Our classrooms are separated by a short hallway. We’re as entrenched as you can be.
Given how close we work with one another and how similar our jobs can be, we’re remarkably different teachers. Usually, students have me ﬁrst, in seventh grade, before my wife teaches them in eighth grade. I do my best to get them ready for her, but one of the things I’ve learned over the years is how we each have different learning priorities when it comes to our students, and that’s okay.
The students ask if we talk about them at home. Of course we do! The most rewarding of these conversations are when we get excited about passing students to each other. “You’re going to love her,” I say. And often, she does. But our differences as teachers and advisors go far beyond our approach to the arts and crafts of the Tempest ﬁgures. There are other times when students who click with me don’t gel with my wife, or when a student will take to the structure of my wife’s classes more than the loose, conversational tone of mine. I get a kick out of students who throw their weight around a bit—the ones who push back and challenge, who have a bit of an attitude. (I could never imagine being that way in middle school, and so I ﬁnd it fascinating.) She admires curiosity and earnestness, the ones who embrace the challenge of every assignment, who get excited.
At a teacher’s conference, I once heard an alarming anecdote: that a recent study found that, of all jobs, teaching requires more “critical decisions” than any other profession save one, air trafﬁc controller. And there are times when I’m in the classroom and I feel as if I’m a conductor, leading a kind of orchestra but without any musical arrangements in front of me, directing and nudging and steering a literature conversation in a way that makes my students want to listen and be heard at the same time. When this goes well, it’s exhilarating and the 50-minute period passes in a moment. But there are days when it doesn’t go well, because of things I can control or things I cannot, and it takes all my energy to keep an honest face because no one spots a fake better than a 13-year- old. On these occasions, I power through, and as soon as the period is over, I walk down the hall to my wife’s room, and she’s nice enough to let me vent for a few minutes.
Being married to another teacher gives our lives an odd quality; it can be isolating. Neither of us knows what it’s like to work 12 months of the year. Last week, we had dinner with friends and I asked the husband what he had done that day. “I went to work,” he said, a little confused by my question. It was a Friday in July. It never would have occurred to me.
Certainly, there are times when we have to put down a dinner table decree and agree to set aside any talk of school. But it never lasts long. We love school! We love the rhythms of the calendar. We love the children. We still believe we are remarkably lucky that money appears in our bank account because we get to talk to them about stories. That we get to do that around each other, to collaborate and bounce ideas off each other, and that we also get to see plainly the differences in our approach to the job—these are perks on top of it all.
Yes, there are nights when we’re up late preparing for our classes, or for each other’s. But it’s well worth it.
Editor’s Note: Brandon Horner teaches middle school English at The Rumson Country Day School along with his wife, Cara. He also serves as Head of Secondary School Placement for RCDS.
EDGE takes you inside the area’s most creative kitchens.
250 Connell Drive • BERKELEY HEIGHTS (908) 897-1920 • grainandcane.com
Slow-roasted pork roast studded with garlic and savory herbs, ﬁnished with pan au jus and served with locally harvested caramelized winter squash and braised greens.
1-7 South Avenue W. • CRANFORD (908) 324-4140 • thirstyturtle.com
Our food specials amaze! I work tirelessly to bring you the best weekly meat, ﬁsh and pasta specials. Follow us on social media to get all of the most current updates!
— Chef Rich Crisonio
186 Columbia Turnpike • FLORHAM PARK (973) 845-6300 • thirstyturtle.com
Check out our awesome desserts brought to you by our committed staff. The variety amazes as does the taste!
— Chef Dennis Peralta
18 Washington Street • MORRISTOWN (973) 540-9601 • famishedfrog.com
Our refreshing Mango Guac is sure to bring the taste of the Southwest to Morristown.
— Chef Ken Raymond
1230 Route 22 West • MOUNTAINSIDE (908) 518-9733 • partyonthegrill.com
Crispy wonton taco shells—featuring your choice of tuna, salmon, shrimp or crab— with rice, cucumber, red onions, avocado, cilantro and lime juice, topped with spicy mayo.
860 Mountain Avenue • MOUNTAINSIDE (908) 233-7888 • daimatsusushibar.com
This original dish has been our signature appetizer for over 20 years. Crispy seasoned sushi rice topped with homemade spicy mayo, marinated tuna, ﬁnely chopped onion, scallion, masago caviar, and ginger. Our customers always come back wanting more.
— Chef Momo
304 Route 22 West • SPRINGFIELD (973) 232-5300 • hgispringﬁeld.hgi.com
Beet and goat cheese salad with mandarin oranges, golden beets, spiced walnuts, arugula, with a red wine vinaigrette.
— Chef Sean Cznadel
272 Route 22 West • SPRINGFIELD (973) 315-2049 • longhornsteakhouse.com
Join us for our “speedy affordable lunches” or dinner. We suggest you try our fresh, never frozen, 18 oz. bone-in Outlaw Ribeye—featuring juicy marbling that is perfectly seasoned and ﬁre-grilled by our expert Grill Masters. Make sure to also try our amazing chicken and seafood dishes, as well.
— Anthony Levy, Managing Partner
901 Mountain Avenue • SPRINGFIELD (973) 467-9095 • outback.com
This is the entire staff’s favorite, guests rave about. Bone-in and extra marbled for maximum tenderness, juicy and savory. Seasoned and wood-ﬁred grilled over oak.
— Duff Regan, Managing Partner
23A Nelson Avenue • STATEN ISLAND, NY (718) 966-9600 • partyonthegrill.com
Hot-out-of-the-oven, crab, avocado and cream cheese rolled up and topped with a mild spicy scallop salad.
1075 Morris Avenue • UNION (908) 977-9699 • ursinosteakhouse.com
Be it a sizzling ﬁlet in the steakhouse or our signature burger in the tavern upstairs, Ursino is sure to please the most selective palates. Our carefully composed menus feature fresh, seasonal ingredients and reﬂect the passion we put into each and every meal we serve.
Do you own a local restaurant and want to know how your BEST DISH could be featured
in our Chef Recommends restaurant guide?
Call us at 908.994.5138
How powerful can a book be?
A book can be the most powerful tool in the cosmos. A book can change lives. A book can be deadly. A book can lead others to make the world a better place. A book can start wars. Don’t take books lightly; weigh them with criticism and experience. Read the good ones. Use the lousy ones to level the bedposts.
Has your Hollywood life helped you to become a better student of the world?
Absolutely. I have always said that I might not have had the most formal education, but movies have helped me to study and to learn about history, politics and the arts. I will be forever grateful for that…I feel very fortunate because I get to study history while I am working. It’s almost better than just sitting in front of a book and having to study it. I do like to do that as well, but when you are learning it the way we do by visiting a lot of historical places, it’s even more fun.
Do your movies make people smarter?
I like the fact that [historical] movies make people smarter…we don’t see that too much in Hollywood these days.
Which role do you identify with the most?
That’s a tough question. It’s almost as if you are asking me which kid is my favorite. I remember Turner & Hooch the most because one thing after another went wrong. Try to make an emotional connection with a dog!
Forrest Gump is my favorite. I ﬁnd him very inspirational. Why do you think it’s had such an impact on people? He lived at the speed of common sense. I think we’d all love to do that, but Forrest did it every day of his life.
What was it like to know that Toy Story 4 was the last Toy Story, the last time Sheriff Woody would be voiced by you?
It was a lot more emotional than I really thought. You know, when we recorded the last session, the whole creative team was there. It was a historic moment for all of us, and it was a very emotional one, as well.
Do you enjoy doing voiceovers?
I loved to be the voice of Sheriff Woody. He grew so much, and has become a lot deeper and profound than I thought he would ever be. He will always be a part of me now.
What advice do you give young actors?
Act at every opportunity. Be the person in the duck costume if that’s the only role open.
Editor’s Note: This Q&A was conducted by Suzy Maloy of The Interview People. Suzy writes for several magazines and web sites. Recent interview subjects include Chris Hemsworth, George Clooney, Robert Redford, Don Henley and Goldie Hawn.
Sowing the seeds of outdoor play.
By Sarah Rossbach
Imagine yourself as a grandparent. Perhaps you already are one. It was only natural that the kids grew up, ﬂew away and feathered their own nests. And you settled in nicely to your empty nest. Yet, not entirely empty…every so often, a disruptive, “invasive species” overruns your island of orderly calm: the grandchildren come to visit. While you welcome them, they do present a challenge…what to do?
Instead of planting them in front of a screen, this is your opportunity to introduce them to the wonders of nature, wonders that will educate, engage, enrich and, ideally, exhaust. You don’t have to be a grandparent, of course. The idea is to exercise a young mind and body. It’s as simple as a walk in the park and —who can tell?—your efforts may start a beautiful relationship with the outdoors, as well as a deep grasp of the nature’s cycles.
If this sounds like a job for Sisyphus, you’re not alone. Educators and researchers have been struggling to strike a balance between indoor technology and outdoor play going on two generations now. More on that in a moment.
To me, it feels odd and obvious to be writing about the advantages of playing outdoors. My own memories of my grandfather are of walking with him in a dense pine forest, smelling the deep scents, and running at his request to pick up twigs that had fallen to give to him for kindling. Alas, the over-programmed, lesson-ﬁlled and electronically addicted lives of today’s children has practically precluded free play and spontaneous outside activities. Indeed, now the concept of playing outdoors has been codiﬁed: Nature Play is a formal term used to describe the beneﬁts of unstructured outside activity. Its proponents say that Nature Play enhances the “cognitive, creative, physical, social and emotional development of children.”
Cultivating an interest in (and identiﬁcation with) nature and its forces may help your young ones discover a new fascination with the birds and bees, bugs and butterﬂies and their nurturing pollinators. We baby boomers grew up with unchaperoned and impromptu adventures in neighborhood open spaces, catching minnows or tadpoles, and dirt under our nails. Today’s children— granted this is a generalization—are strangers to their natural environment. In fact, they suffer from what child specialists and botanists diagnose as “Plant Blindness”.
Plant Blindness is a real concern. If you introduce a child early-on to how plants and ﬂowers are necessary to our food chain, the well-being of humans, and the health of the planet, over the long run, he or she may discover a passion to work with nature. And there are lots of plant-related jobs waiting to be ﬁlled. Professional ﬁelds in what are called the growing arts—botany, ecology, horticulture, garden and nursery work—more and more go begging for suitable employees. Last year, 40,000 jobs in the growing arts went unﬁlled. Many organizations—such as botanical gardens, university agricultural departments, Garden Club of America— have sounded the alarm regarding this fall-off of interest on the part of school-age kids in the growing arts. The ripple effect of this trend is unknown. But it is also unpromising. Environmental stewardship, regardless of your politics, is not something that happens all by itself.
Educators in New Jersey (reminder: we are the Garden State) have prioritized outdoor play for wider-ranging reasons, including socialization, development of motor skills and overall emotional health. Getting students moving out in the air is part of the daily schedule and, in many cases, a component of the curriculum—from grades K through 12.
“Play is really the basis for all learning in early childhood,” says Kellen Kent, Early Childhood & Lower School Division Head at Chatham Day School. “And what better place to play than outside? Whether digging in the Learning Garden and sandbox, climbing and sliding on the playground, or running on a playing ﬁeld or nature path—exploring the outdoors is how young children strengthen their connection with nature, build gross motor skills, and enhance brain development.”
Getting young teens and ’tweens to put their phones or game controllers down—and venture out into the world for a few minutes every day—is a more complex challenge. Woe is the parent or grandparent who makes the heretical suggestion that a child this age actually venture outside. That is where schools can make a big impact. Preparing students for college and beyond involves more than foundational pieces (reading, writing, math, etc.). The social/emotional component is critical to adolescent development. “For middle-schoolers, outdoor time is really a social activity,” points out Boni Luna, Head of Middle School at Morristown-Beard School. “This is where they develop relationships outside their families and navigate the murky waters of friendships and social exchanges. We have recess a half-hour a day and it’s mandatory to be outside, weather permitting. They play ball, walk around, just clear their heads and gain some internal time so they can reset.” In 6th grade, Luna adds, the students tend to segregate themselves by gender. By 8th grade they are more blended. The school psychologist is often outside at these times to observe the social dynamics.
Gill St. Bernard’s School in Gladstone uses the outdoors as a learning environment to ingrain sustainability and promote collaborative inquiry. The campus encompasses 128-acre Home Winds Farm, which includes a two-acre garden, tree nursery, stream and pond. “The natural features of our campus invite students in all three divisions—lower, middle and upper—to probe the world around them,” says Noreen Syed, who teaches Science to middle-schoolers and heads up GSB’s STREAMS (sustainability, technology, research, engineering, agriculture, mathematics and service) program. “This space is a gift and a hallmark of our school. That is why we make active efforts to utilize the campus in a variety of ways.”
At the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in New Providence, outdoor time is folded into the formal curriculum as the students get older. “Academically, it’s great for them to explore the world around them,” says Jaclyn Church, who teaches middle school science and also serves as OLP’s Science Coordinator. “They are able to take the information we learn inside outside and make those connections. It’s great for application of the knowledge learned, even on a smaller scale. They can then think abstractly about the info on the larger scale.”
The school is building a greenhouse that will enable students to learn a variety of different concepts and see their work in hydroponics from inside continue. Church is also planning more activities that allow for outdoor play and real-world connections with the science curriculum, such as collecting water from outside and looking at it under a microscope.
“Getting the students outdoors is important for them in so many ways.”
Back to those visiting grandkids (aka invasive species). An adventure in the outdoors will build a life-long connection with nature, as well as deepen the connection between you and your young family members. Regardless of whether the “nurture with nature” approach takes root in your backyard or in a school setting, the goal is for children to gain knowledge, have fun and exercise. And, as a bonus, study after study has shown there’s a beneﬁt to you, too: Gardening appears to be a key to longevity and good health.
Backyard BBQ a la mud
Back in the 1960s, a neighbor wrote a doll cookbook, Mudpies and Other Recipes, a compendium of plant, sand, water and dirt-based concoctions. It was all about entertaining a la mud. From literal SANDwiches to MUDloafs, I, aided by a taciturn, unresponsive sous-chef doll, would create sun-baked foraged feasts. And I washed my hands after I cooked and ate, instead of before. The book still is available online, but you and your offspring could play Chopped kitchen with a variety of foraged natural materials and see what you come up with on your own. Bon Appetit!
Creating a Foodscape
If you have a backyard garden, a wonderful way to strengthen the connection with nature is to plant edibles with your young guests. Nothing is tastier or healthier than fresh-from-the-garden produce. Create a vegetable patch or plant herbs and vegetables among your ﬂowers. Brie Arthur, author, and horticulturalists, jokingly swears by child labor. She welcomes students and young neighbors to help her plant. She has worked with learning-disabled children and says being engaged in planting and part of a workgroup fosters learning about the growth cycles of plants and a sense of belonging to a group and the world at large. She recommends pairing—or, as she calls it, “foodscaping”—vegetables and herbs with your ornamental plants. An added bonus is that your helpers will want to make a return visit to consume the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. A caveat is that you need to be organic and avoid chemical pesticides and fertilizers. To learn more, check out Brie’s website: BrieGrows.com.
A grown-up project that resonates with all ages is the Butterﬂy Waystation Project, which is designed to create and protect Monarch habitats and can be incorporated into an existing garden. These beautiful butterﬂies, which help to pollinate our vegetables, are at risk. (Their population has been dwindling thanks to pesticides and human development.)
Native pollinators, such as milkweed, coneﬂower and Joe Pye weed, create habitats for larvae and energy sources for butterﬂies. Once you create a butterﬂy welcome mat, watch in the summer as the large striped caterpillars feast on the plants and morph into Monarchs. You can go a step further and contact the University of Kansas, which has a worldwide registry and can certify your Monarch-friendly garden. Nothing like helping to save a beautiful species and getting the acknowledgment. too!
We welcome the community to our programs that are designed to educate and inform. Programs are subject to change.
Visit www.TrinitasRMC.org for seminar listings or check for updates on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TrinitasRMC.
Health Services with Women In Mind
Trinitas helps provide women access to vital health services with a focus on preventive measures. These include educational programs and cancer screenings. Programs offered in English and Spanish.
Ask the Pharmacist: Medication Management
Free of charge, by appointment only. Monthly on the 4th Tuesday, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
Call (908) 994-5237.
TRINITAS HEALTH FOUNDATION EVENTS
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 23 • 8:00 AM
Annual Golf Classic & Spa Day
Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club, Bedminster, NJ Oasis Day Spa, Bedminster, NJ
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 11 • 5:00 PM
Art Show featuring the works of Thomas Wacaster
Designers Gallery, 1049A Raritan Road (Clarkton Center), Clark, NJ
Beneﬁt for Trinitas Health Foundation
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29 • 6:30 PM
Peace Of Mind Event
An Informative Evening with Mariel Hemingway and Journalist Jack Ford
The Park Savoy Estate, Florham Park, NJ
The event will include cocktails and a light supper. Funds raised from this event will beneﬁt the Peace of Mind Campaign, a $4 million campaign to renovate Trinitas’ Department of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry.
For more information about the Foundation or to learn more about its fundraising events, (908) 994-8249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proceeds from these events beneﬁt the patients of Trinitas Regional Medical Center. Making reservations for Foundation events is fast and easy on your American Express, MasterCard, Visa or Discover card.
TCCC SUPPORT GROUPS
Conference Room A or Conference Room B Trinitas Comprehensive Cancer Center
225 Williamson Street, Elizabeth NJ 07207
Living with Cancer Support Groups
All events take place from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Call (908) 994-8535 for 2019 schedule
MEDICAL AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH SUPPORT GROUPS
If you are experiencing problems sleeping, contact the Trinitas Comprehensive Sleep Disorders Center in Elizabeth or Cranford at Homewood Suites by Hilton (easy access to the GSP). Both centers are headed by a medical director who is board certiﬁed in sleep, internal, pulmonary, and intensive care medicines and is staffed by seven certiﬁed sleep technologists.
For further information, call (908) 994-8694 or visit www.njsleepdisorderscenter.org
Monday 7:00 – 8:30 pm; Sunday Noon – 2:00 pm; and Sunday 5:00 – 6:30 pm
Jean Grady, Community Liaison, (908) 994-7438 Grassmann Hall, 655 East Jersey St., Elizabeth
Friday 7:30 – 8:45 pm
Jean Grady, Community Liaison, (908) 994-7438 Grassmann Hall, 655 East Jersey St., Elizabeth
HIV Education and Support Program for HIV Positive Patients
Monthly. Call for scheduled dates/times. Judy Lacinak, (908) 994-7605
Early Intervention Program Clinic
655 Livingston St., Monastery Building, 2nd Floor, Elizabeth
Mental Illness Support Group (NAMI) for Spanish Speaking Participants
Monthly, Fourth Friday except for August, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Mike Guglielmino, (908) 994-7275 Martha Silva, NAMI 1-888-803-3413
6 So. Conference Rm., Williamson St. Campus 225 Williamson Street, Elizabeth
TRINITAS CHILDREN’S THERAPY SERVICES
899 Mountain Avenue, Suite 1A, Springﬁeld, NJ (973) 218-6394
“10 Tips…” Workshops
These workshops are appropriate for parents, teachers, or individuals who work with young children. They focus on practical strategies that can be implemented into daily classroom and home routines. All workshops offer suggestions that are appropriate for all children. A special emphasis is placed on children with special needs and those with an Autism diagnosis. Workshops are $15 per class.
September 17, 2019 6:00 – 7:30 pm
10 Tips for Building Attention Skills
October 15, 2019 6:00 – 7:30 pm
10 Tips for Self Help & Adaptive Skills
November 19, 2019 6:00 – 7:30 pm 10 Tips for Looking at Behavior Through a Mental Health Lens
December 10, 2019 6:00 – 7:30 pm
10 Tips – Make & Take Evening (make activities to take back & use in your classroom)
Limited number of registrants.
To register, e-mail your name and courses you would like to attend (include dates) to Kellianne Martin at Kmartin@trinitas.org or by phone at (973) 218-6394 x1000.
Winter Programs: Oct. 7 – Jan. 20
All programs are offered one time per week, for
45 minutes. These programs are a great alternative to individual therapy. They give children the opportunity to address key developmental areas in structured environments that are more reﬂective of typical real-life home and school situations.
Call for times and pricing.
SCRIBBLES TO SCRIPT HANDWRITING PROGRAM
An opportunity for children from preschool (prewriting) through elementary (cursive) school to work with an occupational therapist and participate in multi-sensory fine motor, visual-motor, and visual-perceptual activities to learn pre-writing skills, proper letter formation, and
writing within the given lines using the Handwriting Without Tears® program.
An opportunity for children to work with a physical therapist and have an intro into several fall/winter sports in a non-competitive small group setting.
An opportunity for children to work with a speech & language therapist and engage in activities to address turn-taking, topic maintenance, appropriate question asking, following non-verbal cues, and using manners.
An opportunity for children to work with an occupational therapist to learn efﬁcient keyboarding skills, including key location and ﬁnger placement, and speed and accuracy.
Hollywood deﬁnes the power couple in many different ways. Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe are busy redeﬁning it. Busy is the operative word here. Both are starring in network TV series—Boris on ABC’s Station 19 and Nicole on the FOX mega-hit Empire—and raising two young children, one of whom was born with spina biﬁda. Boris and Nicole met on the Showtime series Soul Food and their partnership has blossomed along with their respective careers. As Gerry Strauss discovered, they have carried their rooted principles with them through marriage, parenthood and personal projects that are designed to spread love and awareness out into the world, including a family ﬁtness app (see page 40) and the Full Circle Festival—an event hosted by Boris that honors and celebrates their ancestry, heritage, and generational legacy. Their family life is ﬁlled with ups, downs and the desire to ﬁnd joy in all of it together.
EDGE: Boris, when you were a rising star in tennis at Virginia Commonwealth, were you already thinking about a career beyond the sport?
BK: No. While I was playing, I was completely committed to tennis, and that was my ambition, my dream, my purpose, everything. When that was cut short [due to injury], I came to the states to study and take my mind off of tennis for a little bit, and it progressed into getting my degree, and then moving to New York and being discovered for modeling. While I was modeling, I took acting classes to see if I could improve my English, because I had an accent. Throughout that process, being in acting class is when I fell in love with the craft.
EDGE: Nicole, when did you discover your passion for performing?
NP: I came at this fully open arms twirling, loving the theater, fully committed to being an actress from the very beginning. I graduated at 17 from a high school in Baltimore, and got into NYU early. Second semester, I switched over to the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. I was a Journalism and English major, and I called home, and I asked my dad if I could go to Tisch. NYU was really expensive, and he said, “You just have to promise me that when you get knocked down, you’ll get back up and I’ll support you. Don’t give up and I’ll support you, because it’s going to be a tough road.” I did it and I switched over to the full theater program, and stayed in New York for 13 years. I got my big TV break with Soul Food in 2000.
EDGE: You both had busy, thriving careers before getting married and starting your family. As your lives together have evolved, how has that changed the way you prioritize your career compared to other parts of your life?
BK: I think you just answered the question (laughs).
NP: Soul Food was my big break, and it was kind of his, as well. We’re in this wonderful new exciting moment in our careers coming at it from different places, and our friendship developed, and then our relationship developed, and then we got married and then we had kids. We progressed together. We actually do well working together—the beginning of our relationship was learning how to be together 14 hours a day. We really knew how to be around each other for long periods of time, and we had a nice rhythm in terms of managing our creative time, our personal time, our professional time.
EDGE: And kids…
NP: Kids change everything. For anybody. No matter what you’re doing, no matter what business you’re in, kids change everything. You have to come together and be on the same page about how you want to do this: Do you want them to be the priority? Do you want them to be part of our plan? We just agreed to make them the priority and everything wonderfully fell into place. We didn’t sleep the ﬁrst year, like any parent, and we still worry like any parent. But we really work together. The one thing we agree on is how we want to raise the kids.
BK: We learned together how to make our children our priority, and that made everything else fall into place automatically.
EDGE: The theme of this issue is Teachable Moments. How tuned in are you to that aspect of parenting?
BK: I think there are teachable moments every single day. There’s teachable moments in terms of taking in your kids and balancing structure and trust. I think there’s teachable moments in our relationship, how we relate to each other, communicate, take each other in.
I’ve certainly learned a lot about my behavior and how it comes across because sometimes we think we’re communicating effectively, but your partner lets you know that it might not be as effective as you think. There’s learning each other’s dance steps, and it’s literally every single day that you learn something new and that you have a teachable moment. I think the key is to give each other the space and the freedom to learn, as well as to teach. A lot of people are shut off from learning new things or being open to receiving input, and I think as long as you’re open and willing to learn—to make mistakes and give each other that privilege, as well—it’s a good thing.
NP: There are opportunities every day, but there are a lot of things that are different about the way my kids are growing up than the way that I grew up. I am very conscious of some of the values that I want my kids to have, even with all of the access that they have, and the travel, and the exposure. We both are very conscious of them still having life skills. As Boris said, those present themselves all the time—like conﬂicts with people, taking care of your responsibilities, time management. Really, we don’t let that stuff ﬂy because you can’t. Your kids are being saturated with so much stuff 24 hours a day that we really check-in and make sure they have, like, basic self-awareness, and know how to take care of themselves and how to take care of their responsibilities, things like making their beds and folding their clothes—Sophie even knows how to cook. I just think that there’s something wonderful inside of those things that every kid should have, just to survive and feel good about themselves when
they’re out in the world and not with you anymore. In terms of each other, it’s just hard traveling so much and working so much that we, again, both agree that we have to check-in and make sure we’re still having fun, and that we’re not just roommates and business partners.
BK: Part of teachable moments when you’re talking about our kids is exposing them to different cultures. With the Full Circle Festival, we have made it our goal to invite people to experience Ghana’s vibrant culture and connect with their ancestry because this happens to be the Year of Return 2019, which commemorates 400 years since the beginning of the slave trade. Taking our kids there along with other friends and family was a really important way for us to expose our children to history, to culture, to their ancestry, and doing it in a celebratory way.
EDGE: How do you explain your celebrity status to your kids?
NP: One time, I was doing a play in New York during the summer, and we put them in a camp. It was a camp at the Y, and as soon as we walked in, not even realizing we dropped them off, all the kids were like, “Oh, my God!” They knew Boris from the Resident Evil movies, and they were very excited. Our kids hadn’t really experienced that before. We were, like, “Uh-oh. Teachable moment. Too late!” [laughs]. Sophie and Nicolas were just frozen. We talked to the counselors and everybody calmed down and they had their day. I asked Sophie later, “How did it go at camp?” She said, “Well, I told them that my parents were just regular people like their parents and what they do is just a job, just their work.” She had this kind of understanding for herself that kept her calm, and so it just calmed everyone around her. She’s like, “It’s just the job they do. Just their job.” I felt like that was the age-appropriate understanding. Then, as they get older and become self-aware and they’re in the photographs now, we just make sure they’re okay. Just make sure that they’re not being overexposed and self-conscious. I think we’ve worked on that in a way that they know when they’ve had enough. They don’t need to be on the red carpet. They’ll go ahead of us. They’ll run and see their friends if they go to an event. They don’t need to be in it.
BK: When they were smaller, we were driving downtown and there was this huge, gigantic advertising for one of my shows, and Nicolas screamed and said, “Daddy, daddy, look. They got your picture. How did they get your picture?” Then, Sophie, who was at the time maybe four, leaned over to him and said, “You’re so silly, Nicolas. Mommy gave it to them!” It was all very, very innocent. They had no clue. Then, as time went on, they really were educated more from their friends, because we really kept them sheltered in our community in Manhattan Beach. It’s very family- oriented, very protected. After a while, they ﬁgured it out on their own by themselves.
EDGE: What advice would you guys give to parents who are at the onset of facing their own medical challenges with their kids?
BK: The ﬁrst thing I would say is that you’re not alone. I think that’s the lifesaver. It was for us when we realized that there’s a whole world out there, there’s a whole community out there of parents who were dealing with similar things. That really encourages you to do your research, and to talk to as many people as you can, and to get input and advice. Then, I would encourage them to know that they are the parents of their child, so they know their child better than anybody else—get multiple opinions, always trust their parental instincts and their connection with the child that they have. Children will teach you what they need.
EDGE: Let’s talk about your professional lives a bit. Boris, Station 19 is following an impressive blueprint for success. It’s a spinoff of Grey’s Anatomy and is being produced by Shonda Rhimes.
BK: I’ve been a fan of Shonda Rhimes since the beginning. She’s a trailblazer who has changed the way we watch television. I’ve always wanted to be a part of “Shondaland.” Station 19 wasn’t established. They had just ﬁnished the ﬁrst season, and I guess they were still looking for their place, for their rhythm. It was a good moment for me to join the cast and help them ﬁnd their path, if you will. I’m excited about it because it’s a great show with a great cast, and I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface yet in terms of the stories that we want to tell. I’m always an advocate for going deeper, telling multi-dimensional stories and for heightening the stakes, and we have a great opportunity now in this third season to do that.
EDGE: Nicole, you’ve become a major player on Empire, a show that was already a ratings monster. How did you feel about jumping onboard that speeding train?
NP: It was a joy because I have known Terrence Howard for so long, and I was so excited to work with Taraji Henson and Gabby Sidibe and everyone. I just jumped in and I felt like a new girl the ﬁrst season entering into a family, and then it just took off from there. They made me feel like I was part of the family and it was a really great feeling. It’s tough. It’s a one-hour show. It’s a drama, it’s fast-paced. It’s a big cast. It’s in a different city, but somehow it has this joyous ride, a crazy ride. It’s been good.
EDGE: With both of you starring in full-season network shows, have your respective shooting and media schedules created even more of a juggling act when balancing family life?
BK: I think it’s always a juggling act when you’re talking about being on two network shows, because of the time commitments it requires. Also, Empire ﬁlms in Chicago, so that comes with its own challenges in terms of traveling back and forth. It’s certainly a blessing, but there’s always a trade-off. I wouldn’t call it a juggling act or balancing. It’s really setting your priorities and not only making sure that the kids don’t pay the price, but that we don’t—because we have to look at each other and say, “Look, we were here ﬁrst. We have to make sure that we have everything we need from each other.” Which is very important. If that means that we meet in Mexico for two days or if that means that I’m ﬂying to Chicago for a day or three days or whatever that means, we have to be honest and we have to be committed to that.
There’s an App for That
EDGE: Boris, your commitment to ﬁtness has produced KoFit. How did this app concept evolve?
BK: Health and ﬁtness has been a part of my life and my brother’s since we were kids. We’re both athletes. He played professional basketball. The fact is that we are regressing as a society in terms of our health, which is obviously public knowledge. I don’t have to bore you with the stats, but we found that a lot of people complained that the plethora of workouts, ﬁtness advice and nutritional information that’s out there is just super-confusing. It ends up being clutter that’s intimidating for people. It renders them paralyzed. Patrick (right) and I wanted to simplify all things ﬁtness and nutrition. He is a certiﬁed nutritionist. He’s a personal trainer and a life coach, and so we came up with the KoFit app as a way for people to start where they are at. They don’t need equipment, they don’t need a gym, they don’t need an advanced degree to understand nutrition. All they need is a space in their house and they can start with as little as ﬁve minutes. None of our workouts are longer than 20 minutes. My brother gives great simple tips on food. We run people through mindfulness exercises like meditations and yoga exercises. Patrick’s wife is a certiﬁed yoga teacher. We want the whole family involved—we’ve got our kids on the app to communicate the simplicity and how easy it is to introduce some positive habits into your life and make health and ﬁtness part of your lifestyle.
EDGE: KoFit is offering 30-day memberships for free to anyone who signs up. Why was that important to you?
BK: This is building the community. KoFit is a family, and we want to invite families across the world to take part in this movement—to ﬁnd a way to be healthier, happier and stronger. This is just part of us wanting to invite people to join the family.
The Boris File
Boris Frederic Cecil Tay-Natey Ofuatey-Kodjoe
Born: March 8, 1973 • Vienna, Austria
Boris is the son of a German psychologist and Ghanaian physician, who named him after Russian poet Boris Pasternak. He is ﬂuent in three languages. Groomed to be a pro tennis player, Boris starred for the Virginia Commonwealth University tennis team; his brother Patrick played basketball for VCU. A back injury cut short his career, at which point he pivoted to modeling and acting. His ﬁlm credits include roles in Love & Basketball, Madea’s Family Reunion, Surrogates, two installments of the Resident Evil franchise, Baggage Claim and the upcoming Nicole & O.J. (scheduled for release in 2020). In addition to Soul Food and Station 19, Boris has appeared in a number of television series, including Boston Public, Second Time Around, Undercovers, Real Husbands of Hollywood (with Nicole), The Last Man on Earth, House of Cards and Grey’s Anatomy.
The Nicole File
Nicole Ari Parker
Born: October 7, 1970 • Baltimore, Maryland
Nicole is the only child of a dentist and healthcare professional. While attending an all-girls prep school she was named Best Actress in a statewide theater competition and went on to join the Washington Ballet Company. She earned a degree in acting from NYU in 1993. In her 20s, Nicole made memorable appearances in a string of critically acclaimed independent ﬁlms, including The Adventures of Sebastian Cole, 200 Cigarettes and Boogie Nights, which earned her a SAG Award nomination. Her breakthrough TV role came in 2000 on the Showtime series Soul Food. She also earned rave reviews in Remember the Titans and Brown Sugar.
Nicole’s other ﬁlm credits include Imagine That with Eddie Murphy
and two Martin Lawrence comedies, Blue Streak and Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins. Among her TV credits are CSI, All of Us, The Deep End, Revolution, Murder In the First, Time After Time, Rosewood and The Romanoffs. Earlier this year, Nicole squared off with Boris on an unforgettable episode of Lip Sync Battle.
Family is complicated. Mental illness within a family complicates matters exponentially. No one knows this better than actor-author- activist Mariel Hemingway. The granddaughter of Ernest Hemingway and sister of Margaux Hemingway —both of whom took their own lives—she is intimately familiar with the dark places that few of us are willing to go. In Mariel’s search for answers and quest for balance, she has developed a unique point of view—which she shares through her books and speaking engagements. With the release of the documentary Running from Crazy, she told her family’s complex story of mental illness, substance abuse and suicide and became part of a long-overdue national conversation. On October 29, Mariel Hemingway will join Jack Ford on stage at the Park Savoy in Florham Park for Out Came the Sun: Overcoming the Legacy of Mental Illness, Addiction, and Suicide, presented by the Trinitas Health Foundation. Proceeds from the evening will beneﬁt the Peace of Mind Campaign, a $4 million initiative to renovate the hospital’s Department of Behavioral Health and Psychiatry.
EDGE editor Mark Stewart intruded upon her summer sojourn in the mountains of Idaho to chat about her family, her passion and her career.
EDGE: I’m curious about the documentary Running from Crazy. It was extraordinary. How does something like that even get made?
MH: It started when one of my best friends, Lisa Erspamer, who worked with Oprah Winfrey at the time she was leaving her talk show and they were starting OWN. She said to me, “You’ve got to tell your story.” I asked her, “Ummm…why would I do that? My family’s crazy.” Lisa said, “That’s the point! That’s why you have to tell your story!” We started shooting it in 2011 and it was released in 2013, with a premiere at Sundance.
EDGE: Have appearances like the upcoming Trinitas event with Jack Ford become a signiﬁcant part of your schedule?
MH: Yes, actually. I’ve been doing speaking engagements all over the country now, gosh, for about nine years. You know, I never thought that was going to be my thing, telling the story of my family and revealing the darkness that haunted my siblings and my grandfather, all the addiction in my family. But I realized after doing the movie and speaking a few times, how important it is for others to feel as though they can tell their stories. I really believe that telling your story is a step in recovery and healing. So it’s been really wonderful. I’ve written two books since then. One of about their lives. We all experience some form of mental instability at some point in our lives, whether or not we have mental illness or are dealing with some kind of a loss. Also, in this very highly technical age that we live in, we are all getting more and more disconnected from ourselves and other humans. It’s really important to share your story, to let people know we are all the same.
EDGE: What do you want to get across when you talk to people suffering with mental illness, or to people dealing with a loved one who is struggling with it?
MH: There are ways of making your quality of life—and that of the people around you—much better. One of the things I want to get out there is I want people to realize that everything they do in their lives matters, especially when you have a mental health issue. What are you eating? Are you drinking enough water? Are you consuming alcohol? Are you not sleeping enough? Are you exercising? I’m not a doctor, but all these different things affect the brain, especially if you have a sensitive brain. My feeling is let’s do as much as we can as individuals to make our lives better, and to make the lives of those suffering better. I know you know this because you’ve got someone in your family—it can be very difﬁcult to get them to see it, to acknowledge it, to take responsibility for it…but it can be done.
EDGE: It’s hard work.
MH: It is. It is hard work. But you know what? In my opinion, life is hard work. However, the beneﬁts of taking care of yourself so outweigh the negatives. Okay maybe you have to do a little bit more, but we all have to take care of ourselves better. There is so much we all have to do to take care of our brains.
EDGE: What has impressed you about the way people are approaching issues of mental health?
MH: The more I’m in the space, the more I see people doing extraordinary things. There is a doctor in Dade County, Florida who wants to turn the whole system around because he doesn’t see why people suffering from mental illness should be incarcerated. Mental illness is it own speciﬁc thing, yet it has numerous facets. Take addiction. Addiction is a huge problem in this country, whether it’s alcoholism or opiate addiction. We are inundated with so many mental health disorders that need to be addressed differently, but ﬁrst we need to pay attention to them. We can make a difference the more we speak about it.
EDGE: Do you feel awareness of mental health issues has improved signiﬁcantly in the past decade?
MH: It’s getting better. We’re not there yet. But when you see Lady Gaga and other celebrities talking about mental health—people with that kind of fan base and following— that makes a difference. Sadly, that’s what it takes. But it is a good thing if it makes people embrace it and say, “Hey, we’ve got to pay attention to this.”
EDGE: Let’s switch gears and talk about your career. Since you can now ﬁnd everything ever made somewhere on the Internet, which of your ﬁlms or TV shows should your fans go back and re-watch?
MH: The ﬁlm and television I did…it’s interesting. It was always the right thing I needed in my life at that time, so it was the best thing I was doing. There was one ﬁlm that was super-fun, an independent ﬁlm called The Sex Monster. It had a terrible title—it sounded life soft-core porn [laughs] but it wasn’t. It was really funny. You know, I watched Personal Best this year for the ﬁrst time since it came out in 1982. It holds up. It is such a good ﬁlm, kind of ahead of its time. I don’t know. I think more about the people I worked with and how much I loved them. People like John Candy in Delirious or Peter O’Toole in Creator. These were movies that didn’t do that well, but they were so fun to make.
EDGE: I liked the Steven Bochco series in the early 90s, Civil Wars.
MH: I loved making that show! I was actually thinking that [laughs] but I thought maybe you didn’t know what it was!
EDGE: That was a good, tight show with an extraordinary cast.
MH: I know. Debi Mazar, Alan Rosenberg, Peter Onorati, David Marciano (above). They all went on to do lots of great stuff. Bochco was always interesting and [producer] Billy Finkelstein was a good guy, too. I learned so much about acting and discipline making that show.
EDGE: Who else made the light bulb go on for you? Who helped you take things to the next level?
MH: I learned a lot from working with Woody [Allen]. Not that he said a lot, but it was an interesting set to be on. I probably learned the most about digging deep into your soul for a performance from Bob Fosse (left). Star 80 was a difﬁcult movie to make but he was an incredible director. Because he was from Broadway and was a choreographer, he had an interesting way of going about things. The way he rehearsed and rehearsed as though it was a play. You just don’t get that opportunity anymore.
EDGE: You’ve got a number of projects going on heading into 2020.
MH: I do. I’m producing [Ernest Hemingway’s] A Moveable Feast into a short- form series. I’m not going to be in it because I’m too old now [laughs] but I’m very excited to be creating my own stuff now, and that’s what I’m doing moving into the future.
EDGE: Is it stressful keeping so many balls in the air at once, or is that kind of your comfort zone?
MH: I guess I’m that person who, if you give me too much to do, I’ll get it done. And if you don’t give me enough I sit there wondering what to do. It’s not too much yet. I really enjoy it. I’m good about keeping a balance to my life. It’s taken me a lot of years to ﬁgure it out, but I think I’ve ﬁnally done it.