Tag Archives: New Jersey

A new role for Frank Lloyd Wright home that survived Sandy

A Frank Lloyd Wright house that was flooded by Superstorm Sandy in New Jersey is high and dry in Arkansas. And it’s getting thousands of visitors as part of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The Bachman-Wilson House, originally located in Millstone, New Jersey, was one of Wright’s famed Usonian homes. The architect created these small, simple structures for middle-class Americans, and about 60 were built.

The Crystal Bridges Museum had the home moved to Bentonville, Arkansas, where it was aligned on the same axis Wright used when laying out the building in 1954.

More than 80,000 people have toured the Bachman-Wilson House in the past year. The home is presented as a retreat — a place to get away from it all without having to get away.

“You’re completely immersed in your natural environment,” said Dylan Turk, a curatorial assistant at Crystal Bridges. “Wright’s using materials that are American and comfortable — woods and natural materials — because he feels that is more connectible than steel, which is what other architects were using at that time.”

Wright desired an American identity among everyday homes and labeled his style “Usonian,” for the “United States of North America.” He wanted them to be affordable, and charged just $400 for the plans for the Bachman-Wilson House. The house cost about $30,000 to build.

Wright actually never visited a Usonian home, Turk said. He was busy working on the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, when the Bachman-Wilson House was built.

“Wright valued everything he designed, but he was also working on, at the time, The Guggenheim, which he thought would be his shining moment as an architect. He may have been a little preoccupied,” Turk said.

While it wasn’t part of the Crystal Bridges’ initial plan, the Wright-designed home fits in with the museum’s concentration on art, architecture and nature, Turk said. Crystal Bridges architect Moshe Safdie sited the museum above Town Branch Creek. The Bachman-Wilson House overlooks Crystal Spring, a tributary well out of the flood plain.

Students from the University of Arkansas’ school of architecture, which is named after Wright protege Fay Jones, designed a welcome pavilion nearby. Wright, Jones and Safdie each won the American Institute of Architects’ Gold Medal.

“I wish I could have said I initiated the action to get the house, but I didn’t,” Safdie said. While he hasn’t yet seen the Bachman-Wilson House in Arkansas, he said he was thrilled to hear about the acquisition and noted that he, Jones and Wright each now have an influence on the museum’s grounds.

“The trilogy has pleased me,” he said.

Before the house opened on a recent chilly morning, Turk sat down on the living room’s low-slung bench, which abuts a cinder block wall designed as a barrier for the world outside. Across the room is a wall of glass, broken up by mahogany door frames and window frames cut in the shape of a maple tree’s winged seed pod. The room faces southwest to catch the afternoon sun.

“He wanted you to be as close to the ground as you possibly could be because he thought that grounded you,” Turk said. “You’re looking up. You can see the tops of the trees through the clerestory windows.”

A rust-colored floor, heated from beneath, extends beyond the glass.

“He pioneered radiant heat in the United States. If you are outside on a cool night, you can feel your house,” Turk said. “He wanted you to feel your house in as many ways as you possibly could.”

The Bachman-Wilson House flooded a number of times in New Jersey, most recently when Sandy hit in 2012. When its owners considered moving it to preserve it, Crystal Bridges said it would fit in with its mission.

“Art is not just a painting that hangs on the wall,” Turk said. “If you want to be creative, it doesn’t have to be limited to a canvas.

“This is familiar. It’s a house,” he said. “Most people live in a house, so it allows us to open up this space for people to come in and go, ‘Huh, my house doesn’t look like this. Why?’ or ‘I have this in my house. Why do I have this in my house?””

If You Go…

CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART: Located in Bentonville, Arkansas. Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Monday 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Wednesday-Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Free general admission includes Wright house.

 

In consumer fraud case, Judge orders ‘ex-gay’ counseling nonprofit to close

A New Jersey nonprofit found to have violated consumer fraud laws for offering therapy it said would turn gays to heterosexuals must shut down, a judge ordered this month.

The granting of a permanent injunction against Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing, known as JONAH, was an outgrowth of a lawsuit filed against the group in 2012 by several men, and two of their mothers, claiming it engaged in fraud and made claims it couldn’t back up.

In June, a Hudson County jury awarded the plaintiffs about $72,000 in damages.

The ruling signed by state Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso ordered Jersey City-based JONAH to cease all operations within 30 days and barred it from “engaging, whether directly or through referrals, in any therapy, counseling, treatment or activity that has the goal of changing, affecting or influencing sexual orientation, ‘same sex attraction’ or ‘gender wholeness.'”

Bariso’s order also awarded attorneys’ fees and expenses to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

David Dinielli, an attorney for the men, said the decision sends a message to providers of so-called gay conversion therapy that the practice is fraudulent.

“The practice of conversion therapy, at base, constitutes fraud,” he said. “It is premised on the lie that homosexuality is a disease or disorder. This case proved it to be a lie.”

An attorney who represented JONAH at the trial did not immediately return a message seeking comment. The group had claimed that it did not make guarantees to clients and that it should be allowed to offer help to people struggling with their sexual orientation.

The four original plaintiffs in the lawsuit who underwent the therapy — one ultimately dropped out of the suit —alleged the nonprofit exploited them with false promises as they struggled with their same-sex attractions in strict religious environments where they were expected to marry women and have children.

One testified his therapy included hitting a pillow, meant to represent his mother, with a tennis racket. He said he was told his mother was the cause of his homosexuality, prompting him to temporarily cut off all communications with her.

Gov. Chris Christie signed a law in 2013 banning licensed therapists from practicing conversion therapy in New Jersey. Two court challenges to the ban, one by a couple and their son and one by a group that included two licensed therapists, were dismissed by a federal judge. Those decisions were later affirmed by a federal appeals court.

New Jersey’s ban was not raised during the trial because JONAH employees weren’t licensed therapists.

Review: ‘Freeheld’ is based on real-life domestic partner case

Few actresses bring the simple authenticity to the screen that Julianne Moore does; it’s virtually impossible to imagine this actress sounding a false note. And so it’s hardly a surprise that she is deeply convincing — indeed, heartbreaking at times — in the real-life role of Laurel Hester, a dying woman who fought to her last breath to give her domestic partner rights to her pension benefits.

If Freeheld, directed by Peter Sollett, packs much less of a punch than did Moore’s shattering Alzheimer’s drama Still Alice, which justly won her an Oscar, it’s not because of the acting — Ellen Page and Michael Shannon also turn in admirable work — but because the film (and the script by Ron Nyswaner) doesn’t give these characters, or their relationships, enough detail and depth to really bring us in below the surface. Instead, it’s a well-made but matter-of-fact account of a gripping story, one made more poignant by the advances made in gay rights in the decade since.

We begin in 2002. Laurel Hester is a devoted police detective in Ocean County, New Jersey, with two decades of work under her belt and the goal of becoming the first female lieutenant on her force. With this goal in mind, she hides her sexuality from colleagues, even from her longtime partner, Dane (Shannon). Indeed, she goes all the way to Pennsylvania to find a date. At a volleyball game, she meets Stacie Andree (Page), a much younger auto mechanic.

A year later, they’re an established couple, renovating a home and becoming official domestic partners. But then tragedy hits. A persistent pain in Laurel’s torso turns out to be advanced lung cancer. Stacie vows the couple will beat the disease. Laurel, never one for sugarcoating a situation, knows how bleak the odds are.

The movie then takes an abrupt turn into a legal drama. Laurel requests in writing that her pension benefits be transferred to Stacie, who otherwise will have to leave their beloved home, upon her death. The decision falls to the Ocean County freeholders, a body of five Republicans, and they turn her down, despite the existence of a state Domestic Partnership Act. One of the freeholders worries: “People could just make anybody their partners.” Only one member is sympathetic to Laurel’s cause, but joins in a unanimous vote.

The fight escalates when Laurel appears at a freeholder’s meeting, but the decision remains the same. The case gets into the media, though, and pressure grows. Meanwhile, we watch Laurel endure the ravages of chemo, see her get violently ill, see her hair fall out. We’ve watched this sad trajectory in countless movies, but Moore has a way of making most anything seem like we haven’t quite seen it before.

The film changes tone yet again when Steve Carell enters the picture as Steven Goldstein, a larger-than-life activist who urges Laurel to broaden her fight to include gay marriage. Laurel, ever the pragmatist, says that’s not her battle. Carell makes Goldstein brash, passionate and broadly funny, and though his entertaining characterization might well be accurate (the real Goldstein was sitting in front of me at my screening, and seemed to greatly enjoy the portrayal), the sudden influx of humor is somewhat jarring, given the tone until then.

The final scenes are both cathartic and, in the case of Laurel’s final moments, hard to watch — Moore is frail, white, and completely bald. It’s impressive to see the photos of real-life scenes at the end, and realize how carefully the filmmakers recreated the story.

And it’s hard not to get swept up in the moment when an onscreen epilogue reminds us that in June, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can marry. Which makes Freeheld an important lesson in how quickly times, and attitudes, can change.

Freeheld, a Lionsgate release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America “for some thematic elements, language and sexuality.” Running time: 103 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.


Video shows cop shoot unarmed black man with hands raised

Another police killing is stirring anger in a U.S. city, this time in New Jersey, where a tense traffic stop captured on video ended with a passenger shot to death as he stepped out of a car with his hands raised at shoulder height.

The newly released footage from a police dashboard camera shows police in a Dec. 30 stop that escalates quickly after one officer warns his partner about seeing a gun in the glove compartment of the Jaguar.

Bridgeton officer Braheme Days screams over and over at the passenger, Jerame Reid, “Show me your hands!” and “If you reach for something, you’re going to be f—— dead!” The officer appears to reach into the car and remove the gun. But the brief standoff ends with Reid disregarding Days’ order to not move, stepping out and getting shot.

The shooting has touched off protests in Bridgeton, a struggling city of about 25,000 people — two-thirds of them black or Hispanic — outside Philadelphia. The case came after months of turbulent demonstrations and violence over the killings of unarmed black men by white police officers in New York and Ferguson, Missouri. Eric Garner’s death in New York was captured on video, while Michael Brown’s in Ferguson was not.

Days is black, his partner white. The passenger was black, as was the driver.

Both officers have been placed on leave while the Cumberland County prosecutor’s office investigates.

Activists are calling on the prosecutor to transfer the case to the state attorney general. First Assistant Prosecutor Harold Shapiro would not comment on the investigation Wednesday.

“The video speaks for itself that at no point was Jerame Reid a threat and he possessed no weapon on his person,” said Walter Hudson, chair and founder of the civil rights group the National Awareness Alliance. “He complied with the officer and the officer shot him.”

Reid, 36, had spent about 13 years in prison for shooting at New Jersey State Police troopers when he was a teenager. He was also arrested last year on charges including drug possession and obstruction; Days was one of the arresting officers then.

The video was released through open records requests from the South Jersey Times and the Press of Atlantic City.

The officers had pulled over the Jaguar for rolling through a stop sign, and the encounter starts friendly. But Days suddenly steps back, pulls his gun and tells the men, “Show me your hands.” Days tells his partner there is a gun in the glove compartment and then appears to reach in and remove a handgun.

The driver, Leroy Tutt, is seen showing his hands atop the open window on his side of the car. It’s not clear what Reid is doing, though Days repeatedly warns him not to move during the standoff of less than two minutes.

“I’m going to shoot you!” Days shouts, referring to Reid at one point by his first name. “You’re going to be … dead! If you reach for something, you’re going to be … dead!”

“I ain’t got no reason to reach for nothing, bro. I ain’t got no reason to reach for nothing,” Reid says as Days continues to yell to his partner that Reid is reaching for something.

Someone then says, “I’m getting out and getting on the ground,” but Days yells at Reid not to move.

The passenger door pops open and Reid emerges. His hands are at about shoulder height and appear to be empty. As he steps out, the officers fire at least six shots.

After the shooting, there are shouts from people in the area, and other police and emergency vehicles arrive.

Company denies man lost job over Playgirl spread

A company that helps businesses handle personnel issues denies it forced one if its employees out of his job after it was discovered he had posed nude in Playgirl magazine.

Daniel Sawka filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in May 2013 against Roseland, New Jersey-based ADP Inc. alleging sexual harassment. The company responded in a court filing earlier this week.

Sawka worked as a regional sales manager for ADP, which offers workforce management services, including payroll services and human resources management, for other companies and says it has more than 610,000 clients around the world.

Sawka alleges he was subjected to constant jokes and ridicule at work after a woman in his Connecticut office discovered he had posed nude in the early 1990s in a lumberjack-themed spread for Playgirl and found the photos online.

Jokes included “a comment about homosexual men viewing the photos and what they would be doing while viewing the photos,” according to the lawsuit. “(ADP) employees would say ‘timber’ or ‘lumberjack’ in reference to the plaintiff and the plaintiff’s photos.”

Sawka, 49, said his co-workers continued to download the pictures at work even after he implored them not to and to “leave me alone.”

He said company employees brought the issue up during a dinner in New York honoring Sawka for his job performance and during a company outing to a New York Yankees baseball game.

He said he went to the company’s personnel department in February 2011 and was promised the company would take appropriate actions.

He alleges the company failed to end the ongoing sexual harassment and he was “constructively discharged,” a legal term meaning the conditions were so intolerable he was forced to leave the job in March 2011.

“The sexual harassment … that included managers participating in the sexual harassment, condoning it, and failing to stop it caused (Sawka) to be treated unequally when compared to similarly situated sales managers,” the lawsuit says.

The company, in its response, denies there was a “pattern and practice” of jokes, sexually charged comments and ridicule. It also says it “exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any alleged harassing behavior.”

Sawka is seeking damages for lost pay and benefits and emotional distress.

Editor’s note: We usually try to provide an image with our reports, and this would be a great story to illustrate. But we could not find an image we could gain rights to publish.

New Jersey sheriff delays acquiring military vehicles

Sheriff Michael Saudino in Bergen County, New Jersey, will delay the acquisition of two mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles from the Department of Defense.

The disclosure follows the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, where civil rights protesters faced a police department outfitted for warfare.

Before the Ferguson unrest, the ACLU of New Jersey had asked Saudino to withdraw his department’s application for the military vehicles.

And on Aug. 29, the ACLU’s public policy director, Ari Rosmarin, said, “We applaud Sheriff Saudino for listening to Bergen County residents and putting the brakes on his plan to bring two battlefield vehicles to the streets of Bergen County.

“As the ACLU-NJ cautioned weeks ago, militarizing local law enforcement could come with troubling ramifications for Bergen County communities, and the people of Bergen County must have a chance to weigh in before such a decision is made in their name.”

The ACLU said that the county is not a war zone and the sheriff’s department does not need to militarize.

Court dismisses challenge to New Jersey ban on ‘ex-gay’ therapy

For the second time in nine months, a federal judge in New Jersey has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on gay conversion therapy.

The ruling filed on July 31 by U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson rejected the claims of a New Jersey couple who said their constitutional rights were being violated because the law prevents them from seeking treatment for their 15-year-old son.

Last November, Wolfson dismissed another challenge to the law filed by a group of plaintiffs that included two licensed therapists who practice what are called “sexual orientation change efforts,” referred to in court filings as SOCE.

Gov. Chris Christie signed a law last year banning the therapy in New Jersey, saying at the time that the potential health risks trumped concerns over the government setting limits on parental choice. New Jersey was the second state to pass such a law; California passed a similar law in 2012, and the U.S. Supreme Court turned aside a challenge to that law in June.

The unidentified New Jersey couple claimed in their suit that the state’s law violated their rights to free speech and freedom of religion, as well as their 14th Amendment right to equal protection, by “denying minors the opportunity to pursue a particular course of action that can help them address the conflicts between their religious and moral values and same-sex attractions, behaviors or identity.”

In her opinion, Wolfson wrote that the law doesn’t impinge on free speech because it covers conduct — the therapy, specifically — and not speech. The statute doesn’t restrict freedom of religion, she added, because it is neutral with respect to religion even if it “disproportionately affects those motivated by religious belief.”

Finally, she cited numerous court rulings that have held that states have the right to regulate what medical or mental health treatments parents choose for their children.

“Surely, the fundamental rights of parents do not include the right to choose a specific medical or mental health treatment that the state has reasonably deemed harmful or ineffective,” Wolfson wrote. “To find otherwise would create unimaginable and unintentional consequences.”

Coldest Super Bowl could be the greenest

Think of the Super Bowl and you think of excess: Big money, big parties, big crowds and an even bigger mess left behind when the circus leaves town.

Well, at least the messy part is getting smaller. Beginning in the 1990s, the National Football League has sought to gradually reduce the footprint left behind by the Big Game, and the league is taking steps to make the Feb. 2 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium the most environmentally friendly yet, from planting trees to offset carbon emissions to composting food waste to using biodiesel to power generators.

“We try and stay ahead of the curve,” said Jack Groh, a consultant who directs the NFL’s environmental programs. “We try and push the envelope every year.”

Most of the attention focused on this year’s Super Bowl is, understandably, on the challenges of holding it outdoors in the Northeast for the first time. Another, less-celebrated first: MetLife Stadium will compost food waste on game day, the first time that’s happened at a Super Bowl.

It’s not new for the stadium. Dave Duernberger, MetLife Stadium’s vice president of facilities, said the stadium produced 195 tons of food waste for composting last year, up from 153 tons the year before. Duernberger expects about seven or eight tons to be generated during the Super Bowl, which will go into a giant compactor and then be trucked to a local facility for processing. The end product can be used for landscaping.

Another innovation is the use of biodiesel fuel processed from waste cooking oil. According to Groh, a biodiesel mix will be used in generators that will power Super Bowl Boulevard, the 13-block party on Broadway that will feature entertainment and a giant toboggan slide, as well as generators that are augmenting the power supply on the MetLife Stadium grounds.

The head of Public Service Electric & Gas, the utility that provides power to the complex, has estimated that it will take about 18 megawatts of electricity to power the entire complex for the game, or what would be needed to power 12,000 homes. Of that, PSE&G president Ralph LaRossa said as much as six megawatts could be provided by the generators.

Greening the Super Bowl has been a passion project for Groh, who started out as a journalist before forming an environmental communications firm with his wife. He did his first work for the NFL at the 1994 Super Bowl in Atlanta, at a time when the simple recycling of plastic bottles and cans at stadiums was a significant step forward. He continuously seeks out new ways to wring as much value out of things that normally would be discarded.

For example, in the weeks leading up to this year’s Super Bowl, the NFL sponsored e-waste recycling events in New York and New Jersey that collected 9,000 pounds of old phones, computers and other gadgets, according to Verizon, which partnered in the program. Tens of thousands of trees have been planted in the metropolitan area to offset carbon emissions created by the game, Groh said.

After the game, the league will donate several miles of fabric signage to nonprofits or other groups for repurposing. In New Orleans, Groh said, local designers took the fabric and used it to make purses, dresses, shower curtains, beanbag chairs, tote bags and wallets.

“Our primary objective is to see that it doesn’t go to a landfill,” he said.

The efforts have drawn a thumbs-up from the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club, whose president, Jeff Tittel, called the programs “good for the environment and good for the NFL’s image.”

“The NFL is doing a better job reducing greenhouse gases and offsetting carbon than the state of New Jersey is,” said Tittel, a consistent critic of Gov. Chris Christie’s environmental policies. “That’s the irony, they understand climate change better than our governor does.”

Go For the Food: NJ options for Super Bowl foodies

Buffalo wings and chicken fingers, take a breather. Crab dip and curly fries, sit this one out. For Super Bowl foodies, New Jersey offers a mash-up of delicacies representing just about every culture on the planet.

Those fortunate enough to have tickets to the game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., will be able to gorge on American, Mexican, Asian and Italian specialties, done with a local flair, in the “Home Food Advantage” food court. Club seat ticketholders will get an even more varied menu including sushi, sliced beef tenderloin and garlic shrimp with peppercorn demi-glace, blue crabcake with pickled baby bok choy and lemon aioli, to name a few of a host of offerings.

The food court dishes have local roots, such as Nonna Fusco’s homemade meatballs, inspired by stadium chef Eric Borgia’s grandmother (based on some diligent first-person research, they are the real deal).

For everyone else, a 20-minute drive in any direction from the stadium will land you in the middle of any of a number of ethnic enclaves brimming with culinary treats. And you won’t even have to pay a bridge or tunnel toll.

Borgia, who worked as executive chef for baseball’s San Diego Padres before coming to work for Delaware North Companies when the stadium opened in 2010, wanted to create a local-themed food court that brought to mind a New York/New Jersey street fair, minus the funnel cakes and $1.99 three-packs of tube socks. Ideas came during several days of food touring around the area, Borgia said.

“We drove around to food trucks and little holes-in-the-wall where people eat lunch,” he said. “We wanted to do street food, but we wanted to make sure it was authentic.”

Located on the ground floor of the stadium, it is a street you’ll wish you lived on. It’s comfort food gone rogue, starting with a stand where you can score a linebacker-sized grilled cheese sandwich featuring two varieties of New York State cheddar pinned between thick slices of Texas toast. Add a slab of bacon on a stick dipped in jalapeno-infused maple syrup and make sure your cardiologist is on speed dial. Next door, Lucky’s serves Asian dishes, including noodle soup and pork-and-chicken steamed buns with pickled slaw and Sriracha aioli.

For meat lovers, there’s Liberty Sausage and its “kitchen sink” sandwich, combining grilled chicken sausage and hot dog with potatoes, peppers and sauce, or a pork sausage sandwich with fresh spinach and roasted garlic. Nonna’s, in addition to its heavenly meatballs, serves pasta and antipasti and is adding a roast pork and broccoli raab sandwich for the Super Bowl. Tacos Raqueros’ burritos and tacos should provide enough heat to take your mind off the fact that it is February and you are outside.

Trying to sum up the multitude of food options in the surrounding area is like trying to analyze “Hamlet” in a tweet, but here goes:

The best Cuban sandwiches can be found on almost any corner in Union City, outside the Lincoln Tunnel and overlooking the Hudson River. A few miles north along the river is Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, billed as the largest Japanese supermarket in the country. Head back up and over the hill and you’re in Palisades Park, where Korean food reigns. Nothing warms better than curry, and Jersey City’s Newark Avenue, in the Journal Square area, is chock-full of Indian restaurants. In downtown Jersey City, don’t miss Taqueria, one of the area’s best taco joints, as long as you don’t mind the uber-hipster vibe.

Newark, which will host Super Bowl media day on Jan. 28, is home to the Ironbound neighborhood, known for its Portuguese and Spanish flavors and dishes of paella big enough to feed a 53-man roster. Newark also has Hobby’s deli, and Calandra’s Italian family bakery, both of which have attained well-deserved legendary status. Equally revered is Fiore’s in Hoboken, where the fresh “mutz” (mozzarella) melts in your mouth and the friendly servers make what some consider the perfect sandwich. For cheaper eats and an authentic New Jersey experience, Libby’s Lunch (Paterson) and Rutt’s Hut (Clifton) are masters of that humble American staple, the hot dog.

If You Go…

METLIFE STADIUM: E. Rutherford, N.J. Food court map, http://www.metlifestadium.com/docs/default-source/stadium-map/metlife-stadium-fan-map.pdf?sfvrsn=6 .

MITSUWA MARKETPLACE: Edgewater, N.J.; http://www.mitsuwa.com/tenpo/newj/eindex.html

IRONBOUND DISTRICT: Newark, N.J.; http://www.goironbound.com/portal/