Jersey-born rocker Bon Jovi was presented an honorary doctorate of letters this week at the Rutgers-Camden graduation at Susquehanna Bank Center. The gesture recognizes his career as an entertainer and work to raise money for the causes of homelessness and poverty.
During his commencement address, he pulled out his guitar and broke into song, a new ditty he wrote for the occasion called “Reunion.” It includes some inspiring lyrics, telling the graduating class of around 293 to do things like “write your song,” and “start your own revolution”–you know, take-life-by-the-balls kind of stuff. Give it a listen in the Twitter video up top and below. Or watch the full video here.
Rutgers-Camden graduates listen to Jon Bon Jovi perform a song he wrote especially for them. https://t.co/wwW9sCw2m0
Next month, Ocean Galleries in Stone Harbor, New Jersey, will debut an exhibit of artworks by JohnLennon. Curated by his wife Yoko Ono, “The Art of John Lennon” comprises limited edition prints adapted from the “Imagine” singer’s original drawings—from his iconic pencil-scribbled self portraits, to whimsical, comic book-like illustrations with sayings like, “He tried to consult the stars, but no one returned his calls.”
“The Art of John Lennon” is a traveling exhibit created by Ono around 15 years ago with the intent of not only sharing her husband’s work with the masses, but to support local nonprofits. In this case, Ocean Galleries requests that guests donate $5 to see the exhibit, which will be given to Community FoodBank of New Jersey.
I chatted with Ono this week in anticipation of the exhibit. She shared anecdotes behind some of the works in the exhibit, told me a funny story about Philly, and opened up about falling in love with Lennon’s music again after all these years.
Let’s talk about this exhibit coming to Ocean Galleries. Why is it important for you to exhibit John’s work in small galleries like this across the country?
I really think that it’s very important—even if it’s in a very small space … because it has a power and that power you’re going to get anywhere.
How did you go about selecting the pieces that would appear in the exhibit?
In the beginning—15 years ago when it was starting—I [chose based on] what hit me the most. And then, gradually, I realized that each one was hitting me very strongly. I started to get into his work more. Now, I really feel that each one is so special. So I rotate them: This time I show some things, next year I’ll show something different.
John Lennon’s Let’s Have a Dream. | Courtesy of Yoko Ono
One of my favorite pieces is Let’s Have a Dream (right). What’s the story behind that sketch? John was really getting into the family scene. He was really getting into [his son] Sean, actually. I was surprised at how he felt so strongly connected with Sean. Maybe in some ways, subconsciously, he knew he wasn’t going to have much time with us. I don”t know. But there was that feeling.
I also like On Cloud Nine (below, right), which pictures the two of you naked sitting on a cloud. Nudity was a recurring theme in your works and activism. Why?
It has to do with softness and the fragility of human beings.
How did John’s work influence the art you were making?
I was doing my artwork for about 30 years before I met him. I was eight years older than him … I was very much deep into my own artwork, and I think that there were a lot of technical things I knew … So there was more giving than taking.
So he was more influenced by you?
I don’t think so. That’s another thing that was very interesting: He was an artist before I met him—he started when he was 9. He was very good, and extremely different from my kind of work. In a way, we didn’t really influence each other, but we loved each other, which helped in a way. … You know what I think: We were in Japan together, and I think he was influenced more by classic Japanese paintings.
John Lennon’s On Cloud Nine. | Courtesy of Yoko Ono
You guys met in an art gallery, right? Can you take me back to that moment? [Singing] We met in an art gallery … When he came in, he was looking around, but not expressing his emotions so much. When he went up to see a [canvas on the ceiling], he went all the way up the ladder and saw it and came down. He said, “Hmm,” and sort of gave a little smile and left—never explaining how he thought about it. Later, on a TV show, he said, [imitating Lennon’s voice] “Well, you know, I saw this thing and I didn’t like it.” So he felt something, but he was too shy to tell me about it at the time.
There are a lot of themes of peace and love in John’s art. How do you think his images speak to what’s happening now in the world, especially in places like Ferguson and Baltimore?
He was so upset about people killing each other and hurting each other. … He would have hated what’s going on now in the world.
What are your thoughts? Ditto. I’m with him, okay? … We tried hard to bring peace and a better world. And we still do. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.
Do you have any memories of Philadelphia? Yes. It’s so funny: John was in L.A. and I was in New York, and they wanted me to come to Philadelphia to do a show or something. I went with a very attractive, tall girl, who was my assistant at the time. And she had glasses on. Everybody went up to her thinking it was John. She said, “I don’t look like a guy, do I?” She was a little bit offended. [Laughs]
Do you have a favorite John and Yoko song?
Any song that John wrote—especially when it was about us—I love very much. I used to have favorites, but now I’m starting to listen to his songs more … and I’m starting to like all of them, really. … I didn’t usually like to listen to John’s songs. It reminded me of John not being here, but I started to listen to them because I had to, because of business. Then I started to really like them.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
Ten years is a very long time these days. … In 10 years, maybe we’ll all be moths, or something. [Laughs]
It seems like you work really hard to preserve John’s legacy. How do you want to be remembered? I don’t know. … I don’t know how people see me. I have no idea. I’m more concerned about John’s legacy, because he’s not here. I’m the only one who can work on it.
“The Art of John Lennon” will be on display at Ocean Galleries for a limited time only, from June 18th to 22nd. For more information on that and special events around the exhibit, go here. Check out more works from the exhibit below.
It’s that time of the year again to hear a lot of boom in the sky. Fireworks season is in high gear, and we compiled some Philly-area hints as to where to catch some fabulous displays. Of course, there are some tips and strategies that are universal, no matter where you see a show:
Get there early: Sometimes, the best seating gets taken long before the show starts. Bring some food (or, if it’s allowed, something to drink) and enjoy an evening under the sun before the display starts.
Take public transportation: Parking can get extremely tight at these events, and, well, if you’ve ever tried to leave a crowded fireworks show at night, you know what kind of a nightmare it can be. If you must park, try to get out of the facility as quickly as possible after the show ends.
Bring water: This may sound silly, but even though the sun has set, it’s still hot outside. Plus, with your mouth all agape, wowed at what you’re seeing in the sky, it’s bound to get dry in there. Don’t take the chance of getting dehydrated. Bring a bottle or two of water and stay quenched.
If huge crowds don't bother you, there's the epic July 4th fireworks showdown on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway which has become the definitive event of the holiday. Wawa Welcome America's fireworks show is pretty epic, and there are a wide variety of locations throughout the city where you can watch.
The home of the Phillies offers some spectacular fireworks shows several times throughout the season. What's great is you can catch a game and see the display right from your seat, so there's no need to scramble to find parking or get your butt wet by sitting in the grass of a park.
You don't have to wait until July 4th to see a fireworks show: Every Saturday evening game that the Camden Riversharks play at Campbell's Field is followed by a spectacular fireworks display. It's a great way to take your family out for affordable all-night entertainment, and you don't even have to fight for a seat to see the show.
This nifty website, operated simply as a hobby by a woman named Meg Geddes, serves as a one-stop location for fireworks shows across the state of Pennsylvania. Although it is clearly not a totally comprehensive list, the site is a very handy guide to fireworks displays, listed by city or county, and includes some other helpful tips about local shows.
The folks at Best of NJ have compiled a county-specific list of fireworks shows throughout the Southern New Jersey region. Updates for the 2015 season should be completed soon, and includes Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, and Salem Counties. The bloggers here provide the best advice: "Get there early and park so that you can get out easily."
Alicia Vitarelli with Le Virtu with a cameraman and Brigantessa chef Joe Cicala (far right)
Set your DVR: At 1 pm this afternoon, 6ABC Action News anchor Alicia Vitarelli will appear on The Chew, where she’ll take the show’s crew to three local restaurants with family-influenced recipes on the menu. The segment will find her visiting South Street West dessert queen Holly Ricciardi of Magpie, a Jose Garces spot and Joe Cicala of East Passyunk’s Le Virtu and Brigantessa.
Foobooz has more on the actual food they’ll be preparing here.
Vitarelli with Magpie owner Holly Ricciardi (center).
That hand won’t go anywhere near your white walls if she’s at summer camp. | Shutterstock.com
Yay Clay! Philadelphia Throw on a smock and fire up the kiln! Yay Clay! is a ceramic art/pottery day camp program that offers a fun and creative outlet for kids and young teens ages 7 to 14. Professional instructors will teach campers the art of ceramics using real potter’s tools, techniques and the potter’s wheel. Yay Clay! offers 3-hour half-day (AM or PM) sessions or 6-hour full-day sessions. Pay by week starting June 22nd through August 15th. 3237 Amber Street.
Philadelphia School of Circus Arts Camp Fly through the air with the greatest of ease in a comfortable air-conditioned space. The Philadelphia School of Circus Arts operates three summer camps that accommodate all skill levels and youth ages 5 to 18. Campers will be moving, climbing and swinging upside-down while supervised by the regions most experienced aerials instructors. Here is a perfect opportunity to clown around without getting into trouble. Summer sessions start July 6 and run through August 28. 5900A Greene Street.
When Wilma Theater’s Artistic Director Blanka Zizka decided to direct both Hamlet and Tom Stoppard’s dark comedy Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, she made a radical decision to hire one cast to perform both shows. The lead actors, including Jered McLenigan, began rehearsals for the latter two weeks before Hamlet rehearsals. Now, after the opening of the Shakespeare drama, they are continuing the rehearsal process. McLenigan took our rapid-fire Q&A, where he discusses drinking his bottled tears on opening night, making himself up to look like Morgan Freeman and that time he made eggs for Eddie Vedder.
My name is … Jered McLenigan. I’m named after my father Gerard, whose name is pronounced like mine. My parents decided to spell my name phonetically and gifted me with a lifetime of misspellings. (Just kidding, mom and dad. Love you.) A lot of my friends and family call me Jerry.
I am … saltwater and stardust. Also I am allergic to shrimp.
On opening night … I wake before dawn, and in the deep blue ultraviolet early morning hues I bathe in dew and plant a seed in the earth with my mouth. I let the First Rays of Our Sun that break over the horizon shine into my eyes as I weep into a glass jar, saving the tears. I spend the next 12 hours wrapped in a coat of Spanish moss, meditating, chanting and purging; I hold a rose of Jericho and watch it bloom. Just before stepping onstage I drink my bottled tears.
Before Pope Francis visits Philadelphia in-person he will make an appearance in plush. Montgomery County toymaker Bleacher Creatures is nationally known for its 10-inch plush figures of famous athletes and entertainers. Well, now religious icons can be added to the company’s inventory of celebrity dolls.
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