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“MUTTS” Creator Patrick McDonnell’s Collaboration with the Dalai Lama — and Other Pet Projects

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Patrick McDonnell is a versatile author and illustrator with varied projects to his credit. He draws the comic strip MUTTS — which appears daily in newspapers worldwide — and he has created or co-created children’s books, a retrospective of cartoonist George Herriman, and a MUTTS-themed New Jersey license plate. His collaborators include Eckhart Tolle and Jane Goodall.

McDonnell’s work has been adapted for stage shows and animation. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the PETA Humanitarian Award, the National Cartoonists Society’s Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year, and several Harvey Awards for Best Comic Strip.

A longtime advocate for animals and the environment, McDonnell is a board member of the Fund For Animals, the Charles M. Schulz Museum, and the D&R Greenway Land Trust. He resides in Princeton with his wife (and business manager) Karen O’Connell, along with their rescue dog and formerly feral cat.

McDonnell’s upcoming book, Heart to Heart, is scheduled for publication in January 2023. Created in collaboration with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the book discusses the environment, animals, and compassion. Of Heart to Heart, the Dalai Lama says, “It is my hope that this book will open the eyes, minds, and hearts of all people.“ more

Ambassador Adela Raz, left, attends unveiling ceremony for gift to the U.N. from the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan at U.N. Headquarters on June 28, 2021 in New York City. (Shutterstock.com)

Under the leadership of Adela Raz, Princeton’s Afghanistan Policy Lab aims to restore educational opportunities to girls, and to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in her nation

By Ilene Dube

When students in the U.S. missed up to two years of schooling during the height of the pandemic, experts weighed in on the harm done to the nation’s youth. And yet when the Taliban first took control of Afghanistan (1996-2001), girls were banned from going to school altogether, missing out on five years of their education. Sadly, since the Taliban takeover in August 2021, girls in Afghanistan are once again barred from the classroom.

Adela (pronounced Ahd-ullah) Raz was 10 years old when the Taliban came to Kabul in 1996 and shut down the schools. An ardent student, she had just completed a skeleton drawing for biology class — a project she proudly absorbed herself in for days — and would have to hide it away in a closet.

Despite the five-year gap, Raz was lucky, she says, to live in an educated community. Her parents knew education was essential — her father, who had completed his higher education in Japan, worked at Kabul University and as a civil servant in the ministries of economics, culture, planning, and international relations. “He said education is the wealth that no one can steal from you,” she recounts.

When it became apparent that the schools would not reopen, teachers turned their homes into classrooms. It was through such homeschooling that Raz would learn to speak fluent English. Soon her mother opened a school, teaching sewing, and Raz, not yet 16, began teaching first graders reading, writing, and basic math.

Through hard work and drive, Raz grew up to become the first female deputy spokesperson and director of communications for President Hamid Karzai in 2013. From there she became the deputy foreign minister and, in 2018, the first female permanent representative and ambassador of Afghanistan to the United Nations (U.N.). more

Frank Bruni

On Friday, October 7 at 7:30 p.m. join the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown for The Beauty of Dusk: An Evening with Frank Bruni. Tickets are $60 per person.

Bruni has been a prominent journalist form more than three decades, including more than 25 years at The New York Times, the last 10 of them as a nationally renowned op-ed columnist who appeared frequently as a television commentator. He was also a White House correspondent for the Times, its Rome bureau chief, and for five years, its chief restaurant critic. more

The beloved Princeton Children’s Book Festival returns on Saturday, October 8 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Princeton Public Library and Hinds Plaza. This largely outdoor, in-person event brings together some of the most popular children’s book authors and illustrators, giving families the opportunity to meet their children’s favorite storybook creators. Book sales for the event will be available from jaZams in downtown Princeton. Authors and illustrators will be available to sign personalized copies and describe some of the details and inspirations behind their books. more

On Tuesday, July 26 at 6:30 p.m., Princeton Public Library and the Historical Society of Princeton welcome bestselling author Jennifer Weiner to the Updike Farmstead at 354 Quaker Road in Princeton. Tickets are $30 and include a copy of The Summer Place, plus sparkling beverages, sorbet, and other sweets. Purchase tickets here: https://bit.ly/3Pj61Vz. This event is presented with support by Labyrinth Books.  more

Musician Elton John will perform live at Met Life Stadium on Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $85 and are available through ticketmaster.com. 

This concert is meant to be an electrifying tour de force of John’s greatest hits and a look back on the heels of his 75th birthday.  more

Platinum-selling and Grammy-nominated singer and actor Chris Isaak will perform at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown on Tuesday, July 26 at 8 p.m. A concert favorite over the last three decades, Isaak is known for timeless songs like “Wicked Game,” “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing,” “Somebody’s Crying,” and more. Ticket prices start at $59 per person. more

Summer in Atlantic City attracts world-class stars and entertainers, and this year is no different. In fact, there is something for everyone’s taste. Browse this sampled June calendar of event listings below and book your tickets today!

Masters of Illusion – Summer Residency 2022

Thursday, June 9 – Sunday, September 4

Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City more

Celebrated country singer Jake Owen will perform at Asbury Park’s iconic Stone Pony on Sunday, July 24 from 6 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $49.50 in advance and $55 at the door. 

Owen’s music has risen to the top of country charts multiple times and his latest single “Made For You” is looking to do the same. Some of his best-known tracks are “I Was Jack (You Were Diane),” “Homemade,” “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “Beachin,” “Anywhere With You,” “Alone With You,” “The One That Got Away,” and “American Country Love Song.” more

Photo Credit: Julia Child in her kitchen as photographed ©Lynn Gilbert, 1978, Cambridge, Mass. (wikipedia.org)

On Tuesday, May 24 at 6 p.m., Hopewell Theater presents never-before-seen archival footage, personal photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge food cinematography that traces Julia Child’s 12-year struggle to create and publish the revolutionary Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961), which has sold more than 2.5 million copies to date, and her rapid ascent to becoming the country’s most unlikely television star. It’s the empowering story of a woman who found her purpose — and her fame — at the age of 50 and took America along for the whole delicious journey.  more

Photo Credit: From Wawona Tunnel, Winter, Yosemite, 1935. Photo by Ansel Adams. @The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

Works by iconic 20th-century landscape photographer Ansel Adams are now on display at the Galleries at Liberty Hall Academic Center at Kean University. 

The “Early Works” exhibition features 42 original vintage photographs by the master photographer of the American West, ranging from the 1920s to the 1950s. It is open to the public with a pay-what-you-wish (PWYW) admission. more

Join New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) for a special virtual presentation on Friday, April 29 at 7 p.m. to celebrate International Jazz Day, National Poetry Month, and the playwright and novelist Langston Hughes. 

Viewers will be treated to song and poetry performances by NJPAC’s Verses and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Two local Newark poets, Dimitri Reyes and Treasure Borde, will share poetry inspired by Hughes’ life and times. Renowned jazz saxophonist Mark Gross and his quartet will also share their interpretations of Hughes’ compendium of writing.  more

Now on view at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., “Keith Haring: A Radiant Legacy” is drawing visitors from around the region for this intimate and extensive collection of a beloved artist. The exhibit will run through July 31, 2022.

Born in Reading, Pa., and raised in nearby Kutztown, Pa., Haring (1958-1990) developed an early love for drawing, which eventually expanded into paintings, prints, posters, sculpture, and his famous street art. Completely unique to himself, Haring developed a style that became as recognizable as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kenny Scharf. Haring’s colorful graffiti, which punctuated New York City’s streetscape, helped to contribute to his meteoric rise.  more

Join the Arts Council of Princeton and the Paul Robeson House of Princeton to commemorate Paul Robeson’s 124th birthday on Saturday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The gathered community will celebrate with the laying of a wreath on Robeson’s bust outside the Arts Council and the acknowledgement of the first Robeson Scholars to honor area students who excel in the arts and athletics. A reception will follow with cake for all to enjoy.  more

On view through March 20, 2022

Fans of Bruce Springsteen are invited to explore 49 years of Springsteen and the E Street Band history through exclusive interviews, iconic performances, and artifacts from the Bruce Springsteen Archives at Monmouth University. Partnering with the Grammy Museum Experience at the Prudential Center in Newark, the “Bruce Springsteen Live!” exhibit will be on view through March 20, 2022, before traveling to Los Angeles.  more

Interview by Donald H. Sanborn III | Photo by Denise Applewhite (University Photographer, Office of Communications).

Award-winning poet and Princeton University professor Paul Muldoon has edited Paul McCartney’s two-volume anthology, The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present (published by Liveright, an imprint of W.W. Norton & Company).

In his introduction Muldoon reveals that The Lyrics is “based on 24 separate meetings over a five-year period” between 2015 and 2020. He adds that most of the meetings “took place in New York, and each involved two or three hours of intensive conversation” in which he and McCartney discussed “six to eight songs.”

Last February McCartney visited, via Zoom, “How to Write a Song,” a Princeton University course Muldoon teaches with Bridget Kearney (a founding member of the Brooklyn-based, multi-genre band Lake Street Dive, and winner of the 2005 John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the Jazz Category). The website for the University’s Lewis Center for the Arts describes the course as an “introduction to the art of writing words for music, an art at the core of our literary tradition from the Beowulf poet through Lord Byron and Bessie Smith to Bob Dylan and the Notorious B.I.G.”

Muldoon also is at work on a rock musical, Athens, Georgia, an adaptation of the Frogs of Aristophanes. The music is by singer-songwriter Stew (Mark Stewart), co-composer of the Broadway musical Passing Strange. Muldoon says that this version has a “strong racial justice component.”

The Lewis Center’s website describes Athens, Georgia as an “up-to-date version” that “combines slapstick and social justice” and “features appearances by the rock god Dionysus, the guitar hero Hercules, Check Berry, Little Richard and, of course, the Real Housewives of Hades.” Athens, Georgia is the subject of a course offered by the Lewis Center, in which students have the opportunity to follow the development of the musical, which was commissioned by the Public Theater.

Muldoon’s 14th collection of poetry, Howdie-Skelp, is available from Macmillan. According to Macmillan’s website, the poems in Howdie-Skelp include a “nightmarish remake of ‘The Waste Land,’ an elegy for his fellow Northern Irish poet Ciaran Carson,” and “a heroic crown of sonnets that responds to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Muldoon will read from Howdie-Skelp at Labyrinth Books on March 1 (visit labyrinthbooks.com for details). more

Upper Rose Terrace at Bodnant. Credit: David Austin Roses and Howard Rice.

On February 22 at 2 p.m., Morven Museum presents a virtual event entitled “Return of the Rosarian” with Michael Marriott, live from the U.K. Marriott will discuss the British roots of Mount Vernon’s historic roses on Washington’s birthday and will share other rose-related tips and tricks for cultivating your own special rose-hued oasis. Personal Zoom links will be emailed to registered participants on the day of the event. A recording of the lecture will also be sent to all registrants following the event. Attendance is $10-15. more

Image Source: Hun School of Princeton 

Camille Schrier (Hun School ’13) became a viral sensation when she was crowned Miss America 2020. Schrier was the first person in the organization’s 100 year history to win the famous competition based on a STEM platform. Her talent was in fact a demonstration of a chemical reaction using hydrogen peroxide, sodium iodide, and dish soap. The result was a large foamy concoction which she dubbed “elephant toothpaste.”

Schrier is currently pursuing a doctorate of pharmacology at Virginia Commonwealth University and visited the Hun School in early January to speak with current students. Schrier made for an engaging guest and discussed everything from her path to Miss America, women’s leadership, drug education, the opioid crisis,  how substance abuse effects cognitive behavior, and her experiences so far in the STEM field.  more

Poet James Longenbach. Photo Credit: Adam Fenster.

Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies (FIS) presents a lecture by James Logenbach on W.B. Yeats and his poem, “Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen” on Friday, January 28, the 83rd anniversary of Yeats’ death, at 4:30 p.m. via Zoom webinar.

Princeton University professor and Co-Chair of the Fund for Irish Studies Paul Muldoon will provide a welcome and introduction. The lecture is free and open to the public. Register online at https://arts.princeton.edu/events/fund-for-irish-studies-poet-james-longenbach/.

Logenbach will give an account of William Butler Yeats’ (1865-1939) poem, discussing how it assumed its shape, and, more importantly, the influence of that shape on subsequent long poems written throughout the 20th century. Yeats won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923. more

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) will perform at the State Theatre New Jersey (STNJ) in New Brunswick on Sunday, January 30 at 3 p.m. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, RPO performs 200 concerts each season to a worldwide audience of more than half a million people.  more