By Doug Wallack

Quoted in the December 1963 Life article in which she famously coined the “Camelot” epithet for her late husband’s presidency, Jacqueline Kennedy says, “Once, the more I read of history, the more bitter I got. For a while I thought history was something that bitter old men wrote. But then I realized history made Jack what he was.” She goes on to outline a vision of a young John F. Kennedy for whom history was a great repository of heroes and role models—a catalyst for his own idealism. more

Princeton’s new poet laureate, Tracy K. Smith. Princeton University, Office of Communications, photography by Denise Applewhite.

By Stuart Mitchner 

If you don’t count nursery rhymes, songs, and “The Night Before Christmas,” the first time poetry happened to me was at the end of the Classic Comic of Moby Dick. Each issue closed with “Highlights in the Life” of the author. Herman Melville’s ended with four couplets from a poem “published during the Civil War” that “best expresses our bewilderment of today.” I had no idea what was meant by “bewilderment.” I was 6. The Second World War was still going on. A red, white, and blue banner at the bottom of the page contained a Buy United States War Savings Bonds stamp. The lines that struck and stayed with me were these: “Can no final good be wrought?/ Over and over, again and again,/Must the fight for the Right be fought?” I had only a vague sense of the meaning beyond its being patriotic; what resonated, and still does, was the infectious play of rhyme and rhythm, especially the way it rocks the last line. more

The Vegetable Garden: The 1,000-foot-long garden terrace served as both a source of food and an experimental laboratory at Monticello.

The Founding Fathers Paved The Way For A Green America

By Ilene Dube

Gardening, it has been said, is one thing we can discuss while setting aside partisan politics—even when it involves the gardening practices of our nation’s political leaders. As garden historian Marta McDowell puts it, “Whether gardeners lean right or left, blue or red, we are united by a love of green-growing things and the land in which they grow.” more

“The best, most effective medicine my soul has yet partaken”

By Stuart Mitchner 

Sorting out his first impressions of Walt Whitman in a letter from November 1856, Henry David Thoreau admits feeling “much interested and provoked“: “Though peculiar and rough in his exterior,…he is essentially a gentleman. I am still somewhat in a quandary about him…He told us that he loved to ride up and down Broadway all day on an omnibus, sitting beside the driver, listening to the roar of the carts, and sometimes gesticulating and declaiming Homer at the top of his voice.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

When the weather was gloomy and the mood was right, I could see a Cézanne painting in our backyard. This minor miracle was due not to any mortal painter or landscaper but to the mighty forces that formed the Princeton Ridge, which we have been living on for thirty years. Thanks to some long-long-ago geological turbulence, the makers of the Ridge deposited an immense boulder smack in the middle of the yard, forming a focal point for painterly fantasies. Half a year ago an ash tree was growing out of a cleft in the boulder, creating an effect not unlike the tree-in-rock formation in the right foreground of Cézanne’s Rocks—Forest of Fontainebleau, of which Ernest Hemingway said, “This is what we try to do in writing, this and this, and the woods, and the rocks we have to climb over.” more

Tracy K. Smith, the Roger S. Berlind ’52 Princeton University Professor in the Humanities and a professor of creative writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, has been named the 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2017-18.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced the appointment today. Ms. Smith will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library of Congress’s annual literary season with a reading of her work at the Coolidge Auditorium. more

Surprise the college graduate in your life with something fabulous and functional. 

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1943 portrait of Beatrix Farrand. Courtesy of the Beatrix Farrand Society. Portrait by The Gledhills Portraits, Santa Barbara, CA.

By Wendy Plump

It is possible to be cowed by Beatrix Farrand even now, over 100 years since her first landscape commission at Princeton University and half a century since her death. There is much to be thankful for in the sylvan, living landscape she put in place to give an austere campus a greener aspect.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Home design begins the first time we draw the face of a house. For me, this was a clumsy but legible two-story square with windows where the eyes would be and a door for the mouth, a rooftop for hair or headpiece, and a chimney for Santa. more

By Wendy Plump

It turns out that surfers and philosophers have a lot in common. To be any good at what they do, they have to be hard-core realists. Good surf or bad, decent people or vile, the approach is the same: if you don’t want to be mullered, then deal effectively with conditions as you find them. As both a surfer and a philosopher, this is practically Peter Singer’s calling card. more

Photo Credit: @CristinaMittermeier | @natgeo

In honor of Earth Day on April 22, shop these green gifts, which are globally-minded in perspective. 

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The Library Book (Aperture, 2017)

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

If you love to get lost in a library, you’ll surely get lost in this book.

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Photo Credit: @eatdrinkerie in Rutherford, NJ

Monday, March 20

 3:30 p.m.: Open Bounce at Bounce U in Paramus, NJ. www.bounceu.com/paramus-nj/

Tuesday, March 21

7 p.m.: NHL Hockey: NJ Devils vs. NY Rangers at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. www.prucenter.com
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The scoop on standing desks, active sitting, and more.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert more

Photo Credit: @nyantiquarianbookfair

From March 9 – 12, 2017 the Park Avenue Armory will be a mecca of rare and historical books

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Bibliophiles rejoice – as of March 9, 2017 the Park Avenue Armory in NYC will be converted into the distinguished New York Antiquarian Book Fair. This year’s event, presented by The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America (ABAA), will feature over 200 international exhibitors of rare books, maps, illuminated manuscripts, photographs, ephemera, and more. With items ranging from Albert Einstein’s toys to the First Edition copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the fair will interest everyone from a seasoned collector to a literary novice. Preview tickets are $50 and include a return visit. Daily tickets range from $10-$25, both of which can be purchased here. The Preview Night is Thursday, March 9, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Open Hours are Friday, March 10, noon – 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 11, noon – 7 p.m.; and Sunday, March 12, noon – 5 p.m. Discovery Day will be held from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. on Sunday, where guests can bring up to five items of their own for free appraisals and expert advice. Below, are highlights from this year’s fair. more

Director Damien Chazelle and Emma Stone on the set of La La Land.

Damien Chazelle Talks About Golden Globe Winner “La La Land” 

Interview by Kam Williams 

Filmmaker Damien Chazelle met recently with film reviewer Kam Williams to talk about his latest movie, La La Land, which swept the Golden Globes, winning a record seven awards, and has received 14 Oscar nominations. A native of Princeton, New Jersey, Chazelle wrote and directed the Academy Award-winning Whiplash which landed five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Chazelle. The movie won a trio of Oscars in the Film Editing, Sound Mixing and Supporting Actor (J.K. Simmons) categories. more

By Taylor Smith

Thanks to Audible’s Donald Katz, the general population now has more time than ever to consume and enjoy books by creating a digital library on their mobile devices. A membership allows users access to more than 325,000 downloadable audiobooks, audio editions of periodicals and other programs. New members are also given complimentary subscriptions to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, making the inevitable commute or time spent at the gym, not only easier, but that much more enlightening. Below, Mr. Katz discusses his pre-Audible career as a journalist, love for Newark, and the company’s growing a-list collection of inspiring celebrity performances. more

By Donald H. Sanborn III

“Welcome to the world famous Apollo Theater. This is the real deal!” exclaims Steve Harvey, host of Showtime at the Apollo. “If you say you can sing, we’ll let you know. If you think you’re funny, we’ll let you know. If you’re not…?” “We’ll let you know!” chants the audience. “This is the only show in the world where the audience truly decides who has talent, and who doesn’t,” Harvey declares. “There are no judges, celebrity judges. It’s people. People decide. This is where stars are born. This is where legends are made!” more

By Stuart Mitchner 

In the “Amazing Grace” chapter of The Black Presidency (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $27), Michael Eric Dyson calls the last week of June 2015 Barack Obama’s greatest as president. Setting the scene at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church where Obama delivered a eulogy for the nine people slain by Dylann Roof, Dyson describes how the president “wrapped his vulnerability around the church” after the last words of the speech and “on the high wire of live television, before an audience of millions around the world,” began to sing “Amazing Grace.” more

Photo Credit: @smittenkitchen

Ice Cream Cook Books, Taco Cook Books, Smoothie Cook Books Galore!

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Signed Limited Edition Photographic Prints at Grand Summit Hotel Benefit Reeves-Reed Arboretum

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Trippy, colorful, and intriguing photographs of vinyl records are lining the walls of The HAT Tavern at The Grand Summit Hotel for the month of January. Three times a year, the historic hotel partners with Reeves-Reed Arboretum to display and sell artwork from a curated exhibition, with 30% of every sale benefitting the Arboretum. more

 

Image courtesy of Thames & Hudson

Caz Hildebrand, author of “HERBARIUM,” recommends herbs to keep you well throughout the winter months.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert

Have a cough or achy joints from the cold? As the prime time for harsh weather and even harsher sicknesses, winter can wreak havoc on the body. Our aches and pains usually take us to the drugstore to buy medicines, creams, and the like, but there are natural ways to promote wellness during the winter months. In her newest book, Herbarium, Caz Hildebrand provides a directory of 100 herbs along with a colorful illustration of each that includes facts like its botanical name and place of origin. more

Bergen Performing Arts Center located at 30 North Van Brunt Street in Englewood, New Jersey presents Disney’s Frozen Sing Along Costume Party on Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 1PM. Purchase tickets at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling bergenPAC’s Box Office at (201) 227-1030. more

Photos courtesy of Cranford Millburn Camera Club

Send us your best shots of NJ by January 20, 2017 for the chance to be in the next issue of Urban Agenda Magazine!

By Sarah Emily Gilbert 

You might have photographed your favorite Jersey diner. Perhaps you’ve snapped a picture of a secret trail in the Garden State. Maybe, you’ve taken an image of a historical location in NJ, or better yet, a historic moment in your life. If you’ve shot a picture of New Jersey that represents your personal vision of the state, we want to see it! more

Acorn Hall

Birthplace of the telegraph and home to NJ’s best meatballs.

By Sarah Emily Gilbert 

Morristown, New Jersey has the conveniences of a city and the charm of suburbia. Along with access to mass transit and a walkable downtown, the Morris County town boasts Victorian-era homes, respected public schools, and historic sites. Among its estimated 18,594 residents are young professionals happy to find a culturally vibrant area where they can raise their families and arrive at Penn Station in an hour’s time. more

By Ilene Dube

If you missed the MetLife concert or any of his four-hour, sold-out stadium performances, there’s still a chance. If you were not among the thousands who waited all night to be in line for one of his recent book signings, you can see The Boss in Princeton. Morven Museum & Garden is now exhibiting Bruce Springsteen: A Photographic Journeymore

Photo Credit: @therealgracecoddington

Find the purr-fect gift for your cat-loving friends. 

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Photo Credit: @papersource

Stationary, pens, and notebooks, oh my! 

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Sebastian Clarke is a favorite appraiser on TV’s Antiques Roadshow, giving people the good, or bad, news about their treasures.

Sebastian Clarke is the Affable Auctioneer

By Anne Levin

If you attended a charity auction to benefit McCarter Theatre, Trinity Counseling Service, Princeton Charter School, or any number of other organizations in town last spring, you probably encountered Sebastian Clarke. He’s the lanky, personable guy who runs the show, rattling off the numbers and “filler words” to coax bidders higher and higher—but always with a light touch. more