When he’s not pulling pints for the clientele of Red Bank’s Dublin House Pub, bartender Brandon Zenner (seen here in 2014) puts in long hours at his laptop, conjuring fictional worlds. His third novel in little more than two years, titled “The After War,” debuts this week. It’s a post-apocalyptic story based on an idea Zenner had almost two decades ago, when he was a 16-year-old student at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional, and it’s available as an e-book here. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Less than a week after the Red Bank zoning board approved a plan to save it, the still-crumbling T. Thomas Fortune House offered a preview Wednesday of its anticipated role: as a cultural and educational center.
About a dozen high school students from around New Jersey took an exterior tour of the onetime home of pioneering civil rights journalist, who lived in it for a decade starting in 1901 and entertained the leading lights of black culture there. In the process, they also got a lesson in how the interests of preservationists and profit-minded developers might converge.
By JOHN T. WARD
A decade-long effort to save an endangered artifact of African-American history cleared a major milestone Thursday night when the Red Bank zoning board approved a developer’s plan to rebuild the T. Thomas Fortune house and create 31 apartments on its one-acre property.
Borough-based homebuilder Roger Mumford, who vowed to restore and donate the house for use as a cultural center before he would seek certificates of occupancy for the apartments, was hailed as the last-chance savior of a vital relic of the civil rights movement that its current owners want to raze. Residents told the board before its vote that Mumford deserved the tradeoff of more than a dozen variances, most of them arising from the apartment plan.
“If a development project has ever given back to the community, it’s this one,” said Kalman Pipo, a member of the borough’s Historic Preservation Commission. “If this project doesn’t go through, we are going to lose this house” to the wrecking ball, he said.
The proposal, which is backed by a volunteer group hoping to preserve the pioneering civil rights journalist’s home, calls for restoring the National Historic Register structure for use as a cultural center devoted to preserving African American history and serving as a resource for social justice initiatives. The plan, dubbed “Fortune Square,” also includes a 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property. Multiple variances are required.
The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. Here’s the agenda: RBZB agenda 072116. (Click to enlarge)
The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune would be restored for use as a cultural center, as shown in the architectural rendering above. Below, four views of the four-story, 32-unit apartment building proposed for the rear of the property. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Mumford’s plan comes with a catch: he wants the town to grant him a host of variances to construct 32 apartments on the site — more than twice the density allowed by zoning law. But he’s billing it as a win for all involved.
Red Bank bartender-turned-self-published novelist Brandon Zenner, seen here in 2014, is in the running for a contract with Kindle Scout, an Amazon program in which readers vote on which works get published. An excerpt of the Dublin House barkeep’s second novel, “Whiskey Devils,” may be previewed and voted upon here. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
The home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune has been vacant for many years. Below, an undated photo of Fortune, who owned it from 1901 to 1911. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Two members of the borough Historic Preservation Committee said the state Department of Environmental Protection, though its Green Acres program, has made a purchase offer to the owners of the crumbling T. Thomas Fortune house on Drs. James Parker Boulevard.
Sunday’s edition of the New York Times includes an article on the divergent fates of two historic New Jersey homes, one of them the Red Bank abode of early 20th-century civil rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune.
Fortune’s house, on Dr. James Parker Boulevard, is the subject of an effort by the nonprofit T. Thomas Fortune Project to save it from demolition and turn it into a cultural center. At right, an undated photo of Fortune. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
A busy summer of author appearances at River Road Books in Fair Haven continues with a Thursday program entitled Heroes and Villains of Asbury Park.
The 7 p.m. event at Monmouth County’s only remaining independent bookstore brings together two Jersey-bred authors for a discussion of some truly unforgettable characters who made their mark – whether good, bad or bloody – upon that famous place Where the City Meets the Sea.
A volunteer group hopes to acquire the onetime home of pioneering human rights journalist T. Thomas Fortune for use as a cultural center. Below, an undated photo of Fortune. (Photo above by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
A donor has pledged $100,000 to the effort to acquire and revitalize the onetime home of pioneering African-American journalist T. Thomas Fortune, redbankgreen has learned.
By JOHN T. WARD
For 11 sunlight-deprived years, he’s slung drinks and traded banter with customers at the Dublin House in Red Bank. And for a good chunk of that time, he’s spent his free time in a dim, prosaic Red Bank basement, typing away at a windowless desk near a clothes dryer.
But until earlier this year, when he self-published a 294-page novel titled “The Experiment of Dreams,” Brandon Zenner kept his literary ambitions to himself.
“I never told anybody I was a writer,” Zenner told redbankgreen recently. For one thing, “sports is big in a bar. Writing is not,” he said.
Besides, “it’s just easier not to have to talk about it” and instead just do it, he said.
By MARY ANN KAMPFE
RFHRHS Public Relations
“Someday I’ll read a book by Katie Coyle” reads the inscription in a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School yearbook.
“It was written by my Advanced Placement (AP) English Teacher Jack Shea when I was about to graduate in 2004,” said Ms. Coyle. “I held Mr. Shea in high regard, and that comment really meant a lot to me.”
As it turns out, Mr. Shea was right. And “someday” came about very quickly.
Ms. Coyle’s first book, “Vivian Versus the Apocalypse,” will be published on September 5 by Hot Key Books. The book and its 25-year-old author have already earned high praise from the literary world.
By ALEXIS ORLACCHIO
Justin Drazin did not originally plan to add the title childrens author to his résumé, but what started out as a short piece to show family and friends has evolved into a trilogy of whimsical tales. And along the way, the Fair Haven-raised environmental policy student turned one of his childhood fears into a captivating bedtime story for kids.
Drazin, 24, recalls being terrified of the dark when he was younger. I had a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of going back and forth to my parents room, he said, removing his brown thick-framed glasses during a recent interview. Its an age-long fear. Everyone goes through it at some point.
Written from the point of view of a little boy afraid of the dark, Albert and the Amazing Pillow Monsters is the first installment of the dreamland-centered series.
By DAN NATALE
Kyle served up sometimes harsh truths on what it takes when she appeared at Brookdale Community College last Wednesday as the first author in this year’s visiting writer series.
The amount of time where writing is fun is a small percentage,” she told an audience of more than 100 students, faculty members, fans, and aspiring writers. “Its fun to start something. Its awesome to finish something. The middle is hard.”
By STACIE FANELLI
Victor Rallo stands on a chair dangerously close to a table stocked with dozens of fragile wine bottles. He’s changing a lightbulb while employees circle him laughing.
“He’s definitely a jack of all trades,” says his cousin, Bryant Rallo, general manager of Basil T’s Brewery and Italian Grill on Riverside Avenue in Red Bank.
“Yeah, and parle Italiano perfecto,” Victor Rallo jokes.
The owner of Basil T’s and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, Rallo travels to Italy up to eight times a year, surfs in Puerto Rico, skis in the west, enjoys what he calls “absent-minded photography,” and now, has written his first book.