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EMPLOYEES SCORCHED BY PIZZERIA CLOSING

dannysAfter more than 30 years in business, Danny’s is ending its run and owners from Long Branch will take over. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Danny’s Pizza & Subs, a Little Silver landmark for nearly 40 years, is shutting its doors after selling to buyers from Long Branch, employees told redbankgreen.

The eatery, which has looked out at the Little Silver Train Station since 1971, is expected to cease operations soon — employees haven’t quite gotten the firm details. And they’re angry over what they say has been mismanagement of the business.

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MENNA: McCARTHY TO REMAIN ACTING CHIEF

Mayor Pasquale Menna tells redbankgreen that acting Police Chief Steve McCarthy won’t be given the chief’s job on Sunday, as we reported here earlier today.

Without explanation, Menna says McCarthy will remain as acting chief, and will be sworn in as such at the Red Bank government reorganization meeting on Sunday.

“No action will be taken in terms of a formal appointment of a chief on January 3,” Menna said in a voicemail message left earlier today.

Menna could not be reached for immediate comment this evening.

There’s also this, from a press release issued late this afternoon by deputy borough clerk Pam Hughes Borghi:

Police Commissioner and Councilman Arthur V. Murphy III has announced that Red Bank has rescheduled the announcement and swearing in of the Borough’s new Chief of Police for the Governing Body’s first regular meeting of the year which will take place at 6:30 pm on Monday, January 11.

The decision was made to hold the announcement and swearing-in ceremony separate from the Borough’s annual reorganization meeting in order to better accommodate the family, friends and colleagues who will want to be on hand on that day.

McCARTHY TO BECOME POLICE CHIEF

mccarthy-chief-steve1Acting Chief Steve McCarthy is expected to be sworn in Sunday to formally take command of Red Bank’s 41-officer police department, redbankgreen has learned.

McCarthy, right, follows retired Chief Mark Fitzgerald, who stepped down in November after seven years at the helm. Fitzgerald has been burning off accumulated vacation time since then, and officially ends his role as a borough employee tomorrow.

McCarthy said he could not confirm that he would be sworn in at the borough government reorganization meeting on Sunday, when elected officials have said they will identify their choice from among the four police captains eligible for the job.

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DWI, DRUG CHARGES IN EAST BERGEN CRASH

authorities2aA 26-year-old Long Branch man was charged with drunk driving and possession of cocaine after a dramatic crash on East Bergen Place Tuesday night, Red Bank police say.

Soukchind Thavone, who fled the wreckage on foot with neighbors chasing after him, remains hospitalized at Riverview Medical Center with non-life-threatening lacerations and internal injuries suffered in the 10:29p crash, says Capt. Darren McConnell.

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RUMSON DIRECTOR FILLING IN AT RED BANK

john-hirdJohn Hird at last night’s meeting of the parks & rec committee. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

If you were around Red Bank in 2003, seeing John Hird’s face at Borough Hall these days may seem like deja vu.

Hird is back, and in the same role he was the first time the Red Bank Parks and Recreation Committee was in a bind, as interim director of the department.

This time, the full-time Parks & Rec director for Rumson is stepping in for Bob Evans, who was told a couple weeks ago he wouldn’t be reappointed to the position he’s held since 2004, said Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels. Terms run from January 1 to December 31.

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CRASH SENDS SUV FLYING & DRIVER RUNNING

img_6529122909The aftermath included two toppled vehicles on the lawn at 71 East Bergen Place. (Click to enlarge)

A high-speed crash sent a parked SUV flying  from its spot in a driveway up onto a home’s porch Tuesday night, leaving both vehicles upside-down on an East Bergen Place lawn.

Witnesses said the bloodied motorist who caused the crash took off on foot, with neighbors giving chase, before he collapsed a block west at the corner of Hudson Avenue, where he was arrested by Red Bank police.

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PIE-EYED YET? ANOTHER PIZZERIA OPENS

img_6485122809Alex Melani with one of the first pies out of the oven yesterday.

Alex Melani is a man of few words — and, thus, a blessing for a reporter who wants to slack off between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Why’d he choose Red Bank for Pacini’s, the pizzeria he opened yesterday on at 177 Broad Street? “It’s a good neighborhood,” Melani says.

How does he feel about opening a pizza joint amid a sudden wave of new pizzerias in town? “There’s not that much compared to Staten Island,” where he lives and had a pizzeria on Richmond Avenue for three years, he says.

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IN PURSUIT OF SUSTAINABILITY

rb-green-teamAlan Placer, left, and Andres Simonson are two of the faces behind Red Bank’s effort to reduce adverse impacts on the natural environment.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Before it even meets for the first time, Red Bank’s newest subcommittee has already chipped away at its goal.

Made up of volunteer residents, business owners and local officials, the Environmental Commission‘s Green Team was formed a couple months ago in a quest to have Red Bank join dozens of other towns in the state working toward the environmentally friendly, incentive-based municipal certification program Sustainable Jersey.

When it holds its first meeting next month, the Green Team plans to set the wheels in motion to earn the certification by June, said member Andres Simonson, who is also the Environmental Commission chairman.

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IN oRBit: A TOAST TO MR. NEW YEAR’S

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You remember New Year’s, don’t you? Once an occasion that combined the classy sophistication of beer-pong with the naughty thrill of sleep deprivation, it’s the one stop on the calendar that can cost even more than it promises. But if the thought of spending one more post-midnight moment watching Dick Clark give his wife a jellyfish kiss leaves you colder than  a Times Square curbside, may we humbly nominate one of our own for the ceremonial title of MISTER New Year’s Eve.

With a decade of December 31 concerts at the Count Basie Theatre to his credit, Southside Johnny Lyon is no latecomer to this game, having seen it all — from the Y2K buggery of 1999 to the “Y go on” of 2008 — as he and the Asbury Jukes deposited local audiences safely and swingingly on the other side of New Year’s time and time again. While Southside and his marvelous organization tune up for their eleventh annual Red Bank ring-in, we here at Red Bank oRBit raise our glass this day to the man, the band, and the plan that’s made this tradition one of the many fine things about living where we do.

Then stop in at our checkpoint tomorrow as we run down a bevy of countdown options, any and all of them a grand alternative to yet another 40-hour Twilight Zone marathon. Be kind to your bartenders, your bridge tenders, your servers of chicken tenders, and we’ll “see you next year,” right here in Red Bank oRBit!

BARAKA HOLDS COURT IN RED BANK

barak3Poet and author Amiri Baraka  just before he spoke to a captive crowd at Frank Talk. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

He slipped slowly out of the back seat of a shiny black Mercedes-Benz with a slight hunch, shuffled into the storefront at 163 Shrewsbury Avenue, immediately took a seat and started thumbing through a book. It was not the entrance one might expect from a man who’s made his life creating, capturing and transferring an often radical and controversial energy.

But it only took a couple minutes and the reading of a poem on the death of Miles Davis from his book, Digging: The Afro American Soul of American Classical Music, for the Amiri Baraka that the crowd knew to break out of that fragile-looking shell and deliver. By the intense looks on the faces of the two dozen or so who waited the 90 minutes for him to arrive at Frank Talk to speak on Sunday, in celebration of the second day of Kwanzaa, the 75-year-old author, activist and former poet laureate of New Jersey could do nothing less even if he tried.

The crowd hung on his words as he reminisced about his halcyon days spent with jazz legends like Thelonius Monk and Nina Simone, or when he offered critical political analysis, some of it lighthearted.

“Somebody told me that the only reason Obama won is because his mother’s white,” Baraka said. “And I said, ‘All the presidents’ mother’s were white.”

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IN oRBit: STRING THEORY IN MOTION

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DO pay attention to that man behind the curtain, as Red Bank oRBit returns from holiday break with a look at a long-running local attraction that’s as brilliantly conceived and executed as it is unique to our fair Shore — although, if you’re older than six years old, you may not have been clued in on it.

Paper Moon Puppet Theatre is the brainchild of Middletown resident Jim Racioppi, whose 14 seasons on the custom-scaled stage at First Avenue Playhouse continue into the new year with a beautiful marionette ballet of The Nutcracker. In today’s edition, we meet the master puppeteer/ director/ designer and his crew, as they enter into a busy week that includes an extra midweek performance in Atlantic Highlands, AND a special Wednesday visit to the kids’ room at the Red Bank Public Library.

It’s one of the best kept secrets on the local arts scene — and you’ll read all about it, as we stay up late to see off 2009, ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!

BURNHAM: MAPLE COVE MAKEOVER COMING

burnham-maple-coveCindy Burnham at Maple Cove in April, 2008.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Is the wrangling over borough-owned land at the river end of Maple Avenue in Red Bank finally over?

Cindy Burnham, who’s been a thorn in the side of local officials with her campaign to spruce up popular gateway to the Navesink River, says so.

She tells redbankgreen that after months of wrangling with local officials, a deal is in place to get what she and other nature enthusiasts have been working for: two benches and a sign at Maple Cove, the unofficial name of the half-acre parcel.

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REPORT: FATHER & SON REUNITED IN BRAZIL

just_in1The BBC reports this morning that David Goldman of Tinton Falls has been reunited with his 9-year-old son after a half-decade-long international custody battle.

The event occurred at the U.S. consultate in Rio de Janiero following court rulings in the American man’s favor and the decision by the boy’s Brazilian relatives to end their legal opposition to Sean Goldman’s repatriation to the United States, the BBC reports.

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THE DUDES OF HAZARD

rb-walkinghazard1The guys over at Red Bank’s e.d. Design, shown standing at one of Red Bank’s many walking hazards they noticed while taking a smoke break.  (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Over the summer, John Donnelly and Andrew Edelman would step outside their Broad Street office for a cigarette break and take notice of a fairly common occurrence where the concrete of the sidewalk meets the brick, or is supposed to: an abrupt dip. It’s right next to a bench on the west side of Broad, in front of The Bistro at Red Bank.

“There’s this one spot where we always see people trip,” Edelman, 24, said. “And we thought, there’s got to be other places like this in town.”

They were right. The two, who run e.d. design studio, did a little footwork and found more spots that pose what they believe are dangers to Red Bank’s pedestrian population. The result, launched last week in the form of an online compendium of the downtown’s cracks, potholes and otherwise harmful walking spots, is called redbankwalkinghazards.com.

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BOROUGH SALARY INCREASES APPROVED

hot-topic rightWith a contingent of town employees looking on and only one, brief objection raised, the Red Bank Borough Council approved an annualized three-percent salary increase for most of its non-unionized workers Tuesday night.

Even Kim Senkeleski, a Republican who ran an unsuccessful campaign for a seat on the governing body this year, expressed no misgivings about the size of the boost.

“Everyone’s entitled to a raise,” she said.

Only Bill Poku, of Bank Street, objected to the increase, and he did so parenthetically, in remarks that were otherwise focused on the reliability of property tax assessments.

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LONGTIME VOLUNTEER JAMES ERVING DIES

people-in-the-newsRed Bank resident James Erving, who served on the borough council and was a longtime volunteer fireman with the Union Hose Co., died Saturday at Riverview Medical Center. He was 68 years old.

Mayor Pasquale Menna reported Erving’s pasing at last night’s borough council meeting, noting that the last time Erving appeared at one of the governing body’s sessions, a little over a month ago, he said that “he was going to check back up on us.

“Maybe he’s doing so from a different venue now,” Menna continued.

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GOLDMAN CLEARS KEY CUSTODY HURDLE

hot-topic rightA ruling late yesterday by Brazil’s top jurist appeared to put Tinton Falls resident David Goldman within legal reach of the son he has been trying to repatriate in a high-profile custody battle, according to news reports this morning.

The Associated Press news service says that Chief Justice Gilmar Mendes ruled David Goldman’s 9-year-old son, Sean, must be delivered to him by the boy’s Brazilian relatives, as a federal court ordered last week. But the time frame for the handover was not clear, the AP says.

The ruling was immediately binding, Goldman’s American lawyer, Patricia E. Apy of Red Bank, told the New York Times.

But relatives of Goldman’s ex-wife, Bruna, who died last year, were exploring legal options that would enable them to keep Sean, the family’s legal adviser told the Times.

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ST. NICK MAKES AN EARLY ARRIVAL

rb-santaRed Bank Patrolman Mike Zadlock, er, Santa Claus, made a visit to the Jackson house Monday night to drop off toys as part of the police department’s toy drive. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

He ditched the reindeer and sleigh for a convoy of lights-flashing cruisers. And instead of wiggling down the chimney in the middle of the night, he simply knocked on doors just after dark.

Nevertheless, Santa Claus did what Santa Claus does best when he made an early visit to some select Red Bank families Monday when he showed up with a sack of toys and other gifts with his pals from the borough police department in the annual Policemen’s Benevolent Association toy drive.

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NOT MUCH INK ON THIS WEEK’S BLOTTER

rbpd4 windowCrime reports provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of December 11 to December 18, 2009. This information appears here unedited.

Criminal Mischief occurring at W. Sunset Ave. on 12-11-09. Victim reported that unknown person(s) removed two walkway lights and damaged same. Ptl. Paul Perez

Criminal Mischief occurring on 12-15-09 at West Front St. Victim reported that unknown subject keyed her parked vehicle causing several scratches to driver and passenger side of vehicle. Lt. Daniel Bannon.

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IN oRBit: BOUNCING INTO NEXT WEEK

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If there’s an extra bounce in our step over at our satellite arts ‘n entertainment site Red Bank oRBit, it might be due to the fact that we’re poised to take a few days off to catch our breath, catch up with some backlogged tasks and otherwise catch grief for having ignored our holiday commitments til the last minute. Or, it could be that we’re pleased to offer you an exclusive feature (accompanied by some fine original images by ace rock photog Mike Black) on The Bouncing Souls, the Brunswick-bred but Shore-based band that’s almost surreptitiously become an exponentially expanding cultural phenom like few others.

With 20 years of punkrock fury under their belts and a hotly anticipated new release about to drop, the band returns to Asbury Park this weekend for its annual Home for the Holidays stand of concerts — an event that’s grown to an unprecedented FOUR sold-out nights at the Stone Pony, plus TWO separate tour documentaries screening at Asbury’s Showroom, AND a pair of after-party blasts at the inimitable Asbury Lanes. It’s the biggest thing (arguably the ONLY thing) happening around these parts in the days and nights between Christmas and New Year’s.

In today’s edition, Dustin Racioppi talks to Bouncing guitarist and all-around Old Soul Pete (The Pete) Steinkopf (above) about the happy and totally unforeseen circumstances that brought the band to its present perch — a Jersey cult following status that, Racioppi says without hyperbole, rivals only that of The Boss and The Misfits. With a run that extends through next Tuesday, December 29, the Souls are a fitting way to bounce ourselves clear into next week, when we’ll return, right back where you found us, in Red Bank oRBit!

PLEASE DO NOT FEED THE METERS

bagged-metersBagged for your pleasure: All metered lots in Red Bank are free until December 27. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Assuming snow-socked shoppers return to downtown Red Bank in the remaining days before Christmas, they’ll find that off-street parking meters have donned their traditional holiday headdresses.

That means free parking in the municipal lots. And before this past weekend’s snowstorm, the public was responding positively, merchants and local officials say.

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IN oRBiT: DIG IF YOU WILL, A POET

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Following a weekend in which many of us spent our time digging out from winter’s sneakiest of previews, today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit offers a chance to dig on the presence of one of New Jersey’s most consistently confrontational, controversial (but incandescently energetic) international celebrities— a man who, at the recently celebrated age of 75, has scarcely stopped generating fervent followers or fevered foes.

Poet, professor, pioneer of the Black Arts Movement, paragon of social protest — Amiri Baraka (right) has all these identifiers in his column, but it’s through his longtime standing as one of the most astute observers of jazz music that the Newark native visits Red Bank this weekend, as Gilda Rogers and Frank Talk Art Bistro host the author in a Kwanzaa-time reading from his new book Digging: The Afro American Soul of American Classical Music.

Monmouth County poet and artist Kathy Polenberg chats with Professor Baraka as we near a brief holiday break — then tune in tomorrow as Dustin Racioppi examines the burgeoning cultural phenomenon that is The Bouncing Souls, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

AUTUMN LEAVES, AND WINTER BARGES IN

Scenes from a quick spin through Red Bank at midmorning Sunday, the last day of Autumn 2009, following the storm that dumped about 15 inches of snow.

To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.