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LOVE IS NEVER HAVING TO ASK: ‘AM I YOUR ONLY HUSBAND?’

Say what you will about the New York Times, but its obit writers know how to take the sting out of death.

Yesterday’s edition carried the delicious obituary of Rupert Pole, 87, “one of the two simultaneous — and simultaneously unwitting — husbands of the novelist, erotic adventurer and copiously confessional diarist Anaïs Nin,” the Times reported.

Nin, of course, was the author of a series of smutty diaries that, as the Times put it:

chronicled her affairs with an international cast of luminaries, including the novelist Henry Miller; the critic Edmund Wilson; the psychologist Otto Rank, who happened to be her therapist; and the Spanish composer Joaquín Nin, who happened to be her father.

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Note the Red Bank connection: Wilson was born and raised in the borough.

The obit informs us that Pole (who died July 15) was married to Nin for 11 years, from 1955 to 1966, and

For all that time, Nin was married to her first husband, Hugh Guiler, whom she wed in 1923. (A banker, Guiler later became an experimental filmmaker under the pseudonym Ian Hugo.) For years, she performed a precarious balancing act, dividing her time between Mr. Pole’s spartan cabin in the Sierra Madre and Guiler’s opulent apartment in New York.

If Mr. Pole knew of Nin’s double life — and for years he apparently did not — he did not object much.

How could he not have known?

“He was sort of a great cipher,” Deirdre Bair, the author of “Anaïs Nin: A Biography” (Putnam’s, 1995), said in a telephone interview on Friday. “He was stunningly handsome. Incredibly shy. Not really very bright. And just incredibly self-effacing. She was his star: everything radiated around her, and he loved being in her background.”

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SOFT MARKET GETS SQUISHY

It’s customarily the biggest month of the year for real estate sales, but this June was one was one to forget, according to the latest edition of The Otteau Report, which analyzes sales trends.

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Contract sales of Monmouth County residential properties in June fell 10 percent from May and 25 percent from year-prior levels, Otteau estimates.

Jeff Otteau, president of the East Brunswick-based Otteau Appraisal Group, publisher of the report, notes in a commentary that June marks the end of the spring selling season…

“and typically sets the high-water mark for home sales in any given year. Thus, the residential market in New Jersey had much at stake, as any hopes for a market comeback would fall heavily on the June sales performance.”

So much for those hopes. Statewide, sales activity was down 9 percent from May and 24 percent from a year earlier.

And the outlook isn’t much better. Most years, summer sales follow a “gentle but steady” downward slope, followed by “more pronounced dips during the fall and winter seasons,” says Otteau. Combined with rising interest rates, he expects this to put added pressure on sellers to cut their asking prices.

Still, the number of new listings is soaring amid a tepid sales environment. Otteau calculates a supply-and-demand ratio, which compares the number of new listings to the number of homes that went into sales contract; a rising ratio indicates a strengthening market, and a falling ratio is the opposite. In Monmouth County, the ratio at the end of the second quarter was at 38 percent, down from 57 percent a year earlier and 60 percent two years ago.

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AND NOW, A NICE WORD FROM THE MRS.

We told you a few days back about the letter to the editor that the mother of Johnny Houston, a candidate for city judge in Red Bank, Tenn., wrote to the editor of the local newspaper extolling her boy’s many virtues.

Well, now the candidate’s wife has written in to sing his praises. And the Daily Chattanoogan has once again not stood in the way of what is clearly a burgeoning charm offensive. The paper ran Mrs. Laura Houston’s letter yesterday. Headline: “Johnny Houston Does What Is Right And Fair.”

This made redbankgreen wonder how many letters of praise the Chattanoogan has run from relatives of Houston’s opponent in the race, incumbent Gary Disheroon. The answer, going by a search of the newspaper’s online archive: none.

What on earth is wrong with this guy? It’s like watching John Kerry stand by while he got Swift-boated all over again. Only in this case, Disheroon is remaining quiet amid a public lovefest for Houston; neither Houston’s Mom, Nancy Estes, nor his wife says an unkind word about Disheroon. In print, that is.

It’s a wholly civilized affair. And yet, somehow, it cries out for retaliation. Can’t Disheroon scrounge up one relative to write him a gushing endorsement? Don’t the people of Red Bank, Tenn., deserve to know what his kin think of him?

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JAM SANDWICH, WORKING OR NOT

“Jersey really in a jam,” says a headline in today’s Home News Tribune out of East Brunswick.

“Jersey is in a jam as drivers beat retreat from the heat,” says another, in today’s Newark Star-Ledger.

The Home News Tribune article, by Larry Higgs of the Asbury Park Press (they’re sibling papers, owned by Gannett), is about the results of a Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey newspaper poll on commuting. It found that New Jersey workers, whether they travel long distances to jobs or have a local commute, “get stuck in traffic more frequently and spend more time in backups than the national average.”

The Ledger report is on motorists heading to the shore to escape temperatures above 90 degrees across much of New Jersey. The going wasn’t easy.

In some areas, like the approaches to Long Beach Island and the Alfred E. Driscoll Bridge, backups stretched as far as 10 miles, officials said.

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HOT DEALS

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The 52nd annual Red Bank sidewalk sale, which began yesterday, continues today and runs through tomorrow.

Stay hydrated, shoppers. Temperatures will soar into the mid-90s. The National Weather Service has an excessive heat warning in effect from 2p today until 8p Wednesday.

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AS ALIVE AS EVER

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Steve Forbert played in Riverside Gardens Park last night as part of the Songwriters in the Park series.

Yeah, he did “Goin’ Down to Laurel,” the breakout tune from his debut 1978 album ‘Alive on Arrival,’ and it sounded like… freedom.

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WEATHER ALERT

The National Weather Service has issued a severe weather alert for much of southern and central New Jersey, including southwestern Monmouth County.

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for the region until 9p.

MORE ON THE GREEN ROOF…

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Roofer Joe Ruffini, who’s building an environment-friendly ‘green’ roof atop his house on Maple Avenue, reports that he now has all the zoning approvals in hand to complete the job.

He writes:

I should be back to work on the project this week. Should have gutters going up Friday and finish railing next week. I got a table with fire pit built in today set it up on roof deck. Starting to look for large flower and planter pots.

Um, a FIRE PIT?

Ruffini assures us the pit was made for use on a deck, and that he plans to tile the area under and around it. He says he’ll have redbankgreen up for a marshmallow roast when it’s done.

Looking forward to it, Joe. But just in case, we might want to bring one of Kevin Boyce’s ladders. The long one. If it’s available, that is. As of early this afternoon, it was still tied to the roof of his Broad Street porch.

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BRUCE THE DAD

Rumsonite/Colts Neckian Bruce Springsteen accompanied his 14-year-old daughter, Jessica, to a horse-jumping competition in Saugerties, N.Y., recently.

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She did well. Even won $780.

Dad had dinner three nights in a row at the same restaurant in nearby Kingston, at least once with the missus, Patti Scialfa. Ate chicken and pasta, if you must know.

The Kingston Daily Freeman has all the details.

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UNDOCUMENTED, BUT NOT WITHOUT RIGHTS

Kudos to Michele Sahn of the Asbury Park Press for giving some attention today to the kind of story that often stays below the radar of dailies of that size. In the process, she shines some light on the difficulty that undocumented workers can have in getting paid.

Mexican immigrants Benito Guendulain, 37, and his 19-year-old nephew, Salomon Zavaleta, were in small claims court in Freehold yesterday hoping to be heard on their claim that landscaper Michael Curialle stiffed them for a combined 234 hours of work they’d done for him last month.

From Sahn’s report:

During the morning roll call of small claims cases, [Superior Court Judge Mark A.] Sullivan told the workers that Curialle had not yet been served with the paperwork for their case, but then they recognized him in the courtroom.

Turns out Curialle was there being sued by another party, a landscape supply company.

Sullivan ordered Curialle, Guendulain and Zavaleta to arbitration, which is the usual process for small-claims. But when they couldn’t agree on a settlement, the judge held a hearing.

Guendulain testified that he told Curialle he didn’t have papers to work in the the U.S., and that Curialle hired him on the condition that he try to obtain the papers. Guendulain said he worked two 78-hour weeks for Curialle without any payment, and Zavaleta testified he worked one 78-hour week, also unpaid. Curialle told the judge that the pair did not work for more than four days. He said he paid one $50 and another $200, and when their paperwork came back as fake, he told them they couldn’t work anymore.

Sullivan said he found the worker’s testimony more believable, and ordered Curialle to pay $1,940 to Guendulain and $970 to Zavaleta. That works out to $12.43 an hour.

Guendulain and Zavaleta came to the United States from their native Mexico 10 months ago and have been living in Freehold, Sahn reports. They were accompanied to court by a representative from Casa Freehold, an immigrant-rights advocacy group.

Curialle had argued that he needed more time to bring in witnesses because he hadn’t been served with papers in the case. Sullivan told him that if he has newly discovered evidence, he will be allowed to apply for the judgment to be set aside.

Curialle also lost the other case. He was ordered to pay $2,873.45 to Triple C Nurseries in Marlboro, which claimed Curialle had paid for goods with a check and then stopped payment before the check cleared.

BODY FOUND

Investigators pulled the body of a woman from the Navesink River in Rumson on Wednesday. An autopsy found no sign of trauma, and the cause of death is under investigation. The Asbury Park Press says a State Police forensic anthropologist will try to identify the body, which was in an advanced state of decomposition.

The body was spotted in the river west of the Oceanic Bridge by a Rumson resident at about 9:30a.

From the Press account:

Authorities could only broadly estimate the woman’s age, which they put between 16 and 45 years old. The woman’s race also is undetermined, although [First Assistant Monmouth County Prosector Peter A. ] Warshaw said she may be of Asian descent. The body is 5 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 100 pounds.

“There will be substantial forensic efforts taken to identify the body, including an exam by forensic anthropologist from the New Jersey State Police and a careful review of dental impressions,” Warshaw said.

Warshaw said the woman was wearing a size 2 pair of jeans, an olive green, long-sleeved, hooded sweat shirt with an orange short-sleeved shirt underneath. She also was carrying a small amount of cash in her pockets.

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RR SAFETY UPGRADES PLANNED

Fourteen stations along NJ Transit’s North Jersey Coast Line have been targeted for safety improvements to pedestrian track crossings following an accident in Belmar earlier this month, according to the Asbury Park Press.

The initial report by the Press did not identify the 14 stations, which are among 33 NJ Transit stations statewide slated for the improvements. But an earlier report said transit officials were focusing on stations with raised platforms and street-level foot crossings over tracks.

According to the report,

The other 40 stations [of NJ Transit’s total 73 stations] that will not get the upgrades are on single track lines where there is no risk of passengers getting off one train being hit by another train coming in the opposite direction.

The Red Bank station has both a raised platform and grade crossing. Little Silver’s station has a low platform, but like Red Bank, it does have north- and southbound tracks and pedestrian grade crossings.

At the Belmar station, the safety improvements were said to involve fencing, signage and onboard announcements.

On July 14, a 16-year-old girl leaving a southbound train in Belmar was struck by a northbound train, resulting in the loss of several fingers and other injuries. Two other girls were believed to have been brushed by the same train but were not seriously injured.

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ENTERING A LONG, DARK TUNNEL

Pundits are calling it this generation’s version of the building of the George Washington Bridge, and it moves closer to reality today.

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The Port Authority is expected today to authorize the first $1 billion of spending to develop and build a new two-track rail tunnel from New Jersey into midtown Manhattan. Another $1b is likely to go into the project by the end of this year. The Star-Ledger says the tunnel’s estimated cost is $6b; the New York Times says it’s $7.2b, when adjusted for expected inflation.

The project, sponsored mainly by NJ Transit, is slated to begin construction in 2009 and be completed in 2016.

The Ledger reports that the PA sees today’s action as a way of prodding the federal governement to pony up a good chunk of the remaining cost:

Agency officials hope their commitment ultimately will spur the federal government to fund at least half of the second trans-Hudson rail tunnel’s estimated $6 billion price tag.

“By making this kind of commitment now, we’re sending a message to Washington that there are enormous local resources behind this project,” said Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia.

The PA and other backers of the plan contend the addition of the tunnel would double rail capacity into and out of the city.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Maria Ursino of Little Silver was the first to correctly identify the location of last week’s conjoined metal shed and brick building as the Anderson Moving and Storage Warehouse at the corner of Bridge and Monmouth Streets. Maria grew up a few blocks away on Herbert Street, so she may have had a bit of advantage, but no special access or knowledge was required. Still stumped? The view is from Shrewsbury Avenue.

Congratulations, Maria. Wear the ‘Where’ mantel with pride!

Now, to the assemblage of rusted tools and devices shown here. In keeping with some changes redbankgreen implemented this week—more frequent postings, covering a slightly broader geographic area, but you knew that, right?—this week’s ‘Where’ takes us a little way from our usual turf. Not that that constitutes much in the way of a hint. It’s actually more of a warning to readers prone to frustration, hair-pulling and excessive use of question marks in their guesses that this one may trigger an episode. You know who you are, right???

Send your guesses to us via e-mail rather than using the Comments, please. And thanks for playing.

‘DARK GREEN DIAPERS’ PROBABLY WOULDN’T FLY, EITHER

We got a late start on last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, so this is a few days old. But hey, it’s the doldrums, right?

Rob Walker, who writes the ‘Consumed’ column, has a piece titled ‘Silent Green,’ which makes the case that manufacturers and retailers of ecofriendly products are leery of pushing too hard “on the whole save-the-planet thing” for fear of alienating mainstream consumers.

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He cites a product called gDiapers, flushable nappies invented in Australia (and sold there as Baby Weenees Eco Nappy Products) now making their way into American markets via Whole Foods. Jason and Kimberly Graham-Nye, an American couple who own the U.S. rights to the product, decided to give it a vague name rather than emphasize the ecofactor, an approach they thought would restrict the market to what they call ‘dark green’ consumers. (The company’s website, by contrast, doesn’t skimp on the ‘happy planet’ talk.)

In the piece, Walker reports also on a recent article in the journal Environment titled ‘Avoiding Green Marketing Myopia,’ which makes the point that a number of ecofriendly products have failed as a result of save-the-planet marketing strategies. That article cites a light bulb that bombed when it was marketed as Earth-friendly but succeeded when reintroduced merely as a money-saver.

For the record, and because a number of our readers have asked: the ‘green’ in redbankgreen is first and foremost an allusion to the idea of a village green or town square. But we’re happy to be associated with ecofriendliness, and hope to be at least a small voice in discussions about how we grow our food, make our products and dispose of waste. But ‘redbankdarkgreen?’ Nah…

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STRANDED AT THE SHORE

Sam Ali of the Star-Ledger business section checks in today on the slowdown in real estate sales at the Shore in recent months.

Just a year ago, homes in Jersey Shore communities spanning 45 miles from Sandy Hook Bay in Monmouth County to Long Beach Island in Ocean County were snapped up as soon as they hit the market—sometimes even before they hit the market.

Today, sales agents say homes in Monmouth and Ocean counties at all price points sit and sit, sometimes for weeks or months at a time with no offers.

One example given is that of a Spring Lake house, “a beautiful 1893 Queen Anne-style home.” Last August, the 7-bedroom house, which sits on a half-acre, was listed at $5.3 million. “It’s now priced at $4.9 million, but buyers are nowhere to be found,” Ali writes.

The story quotes a real estate broker as saying that Monmouth County has 5,317 active listings for single family homes, with an average asking price of $781,329. The average time on the market currently is 81 days.

No year-ago comparative figures are given. Maybe our friend LittleSilvered at The Jersey Shore Real Estate Bubble blog can help us out here?

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THE EIGHTH RING OF HELL, ONLY NICER

New Jersey drivers above a certain age will no doubt remember that special form of torture known as the traffic circle. These were circular roadway alignments at major intersections meant to allow for continuous flows of traffic without the use of stop-and-go lights.

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Under certain conditions, driving into a traffic circle was a little like being tossed into a giant centrifuge with homicidal maniacs. The speed of traffic was determined by the most reckless driver in the circle at that moment. Getting into or out of one at times of high volume was a thrill if you were a 17-year-old boy at the wheel of a stolen car, and a nightmare if you were not.

While there are only a few circles still in use (one at Route 34 and Allaire Road in Wall Township comes to mind) New Jersey was lousy with them at one time.

Well, the circle is about to make a comeback, in modified form, in Lincroft. Last week, the Monmouth County Freeholders approved a plan to build a $1.27 million ’roundabout’ at the entrance to Brookdale Community College on Route 520.

The Holmdel Independent has a story in which a traffic expert is quoted as saying the roundabout will be about one-quarter to one-third the size of a typical traffic circle. Because of its relatively tight turning radius, drivers will be forced to slow down to between 15 and 20 mph.

Um, drivers should slow down, hence they will slow down? And this is necessary at a T-intersection?

“I’m anxious to see if this actually works,” Middletown Mayor Thomas Hall said on Monday. “This is out of the box and something that’s unusual in terms of solutions.”

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STUCK FOR AN EXPLANATION

Today’s Star-Ledger says the reason for last night’s rail snarls between New York and Newark was that “the trouble-prone” Portal Bridge got stuck in the open position.

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The 96-year-old bridge between Secaucus and Kearney swivels to allow boat traffic through. It got stuck open at about 3:30p and was returned to position manually by 4:51.

“But the incident’s effects lingered for hours,” the Ledger reports. NJ Transit trains suspended during the shutdown were canceled, and later trains were delayed by as much as 80 minutes. Five Amtrak trains were delayed, the longest by about 90 minutes.

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SLOPPY BOOKKEEPING?

Well into today’s Asbury Park Press story about an audit of Red Bank’s books is a little bombshell: a likely explanation for former chief financial officer Terence Whalen’s June 12 resignation.

It turns out that the books were a mess. So much so that borough officials are looking at a possible three-cent increase in the property tax levy to cover shortfalls and corrective measures.

Whalen’s departure wasn’t reported by the Press until June 28, two days after retired borough CFO Bruce Loversidge was re-hired on an interim basis. Whalen’s resignation letter cited only “personal reasons,” and borough officials “had no other information about the resignation,” the Press reported at the time.

Now, a 150-page audit of the borough’s books from 2005 has turned up at least two instances of overspending, totaling $232,000. Borough auditor David Kaplan, who prepared the report, told the Borough Council Monday night that he also found numerous erroneous entries in check logs, spending of bond-issue proceeds before the bonds had been issued, and late payments to the state for pension and unemployment insurance obligations, among other shortcomings.

According to the Press, “Kaplan said the audit found no evidence that money had been taken from the borough.”

“We’re advertising for a new CFO,” Mayor Ed McKenna said Monday. “That person has to be held accountable. It’s disappointing to find out a significant portion—two-thirds of the tax rate increase—is due to problems in that department.”

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‘CLERKS’ ON THE RIVER

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Filmmaker Kevin Smith’s breakthrough 1994 film ‘Clerks’ will be screened at Marine Park on Aug. 8, the Asbury Park Press reports today. The event is free and open to the public.

Smith, a borough native who owns Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash comic book and novelty-items store on Broad Street, will take questions from the audience beforehand.

Larry Higgs of the Press reports that the film is part of a program called “Rolling Roadshow,” in which famous films are screened in the places where they were set. The program producer’s first choice was to screen ‘Clerks’ at the convenience store where it was shot, in the Leonardo section of Middletown, preceded by a street hockey match. But the store is close to a residential neighborhood, and township officials turned down the request for permits because of concerns about noise.

The Press reports that

[Red Bank] Borough Council members gave their approval for the showing on Monday night, provided that the festival pays for police protection and cleanup and takes steps to prevent anyone under 17 from getting into the R-rated film.

The Press also says about 2,000 people are expected to turn out for the event.

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COMMUTER ALERT

New Jersey Transit posted this alert three minutes ago:

Due to Portal Bridge problems, service is temporarily suspended in and out of PSNY. NEC and NJC service in/out of Newark Penn is subject to 60 minute delays. Cross honoring with PATH and NJT Bus.

The Amtrak Portal Bridge crosses the Hackensack River.

PSNY = PennStation New York.
NEC= Northeast Corridor
NJC = North Jersey Coast line

Oh, ma!

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It seems they do things a little differently in Red Bank, Tenn., a suburb of Chattanooga. For instance, they elect their judges. For another, the local newspaper is apparently glad to yield a portion of its opinion page to a candidate’s mother so she can tell readers what makes her son the best choice for a judgeship.

Today’s Chattanoogan has a letter to the editor from the mother of Johnny Houston, a candidate for Red Bank City Judge. Houston’s mom, Nancy Estes, wants voters to know some of Johnny’s wonderful qualities. These are numerous, so the letter runs to 550 words. Johnny’s mom promises voters they will not regret voting for him.

Shameless, yes, but the letter is charming and actually rather persuasive. Makes us want to pull a lever for Johnny. Then again, have we heard from the other candidate’s mom yet?

OUT OF REACH?

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You may recall the rusting ladder in the tree that redbankgreen featured a few weeks back in our Where Have I Seen This? contest. (Answer, in case you missed it: in the yard of a house at 236 Broad Street, at the corner of Irving Place.)

Well, a couple of the neighbors were not amused. They complained to us about the conditions on the property. It seems the tree ladder’s been there for quite some time, abandoned after a dangerous and as-yet-unfinished attempt at arboreal trimming. And there’s a second, longer ladder that’s been tied to the porch roof, extending up to the third-floor cupola, for months.

Here’s an excerpt from an e-mail we received, complete with the original buzz-saw punctuation:

I have been looking at the house with the ladder in the tree and a ladder on the house for over a year….when is Red Bank going to tell the owner to clean up his mess ?????? He has an unfinished roof , a falling down garage, and garbage around his house….by the way the huge ladder on his house is about to fall down, why dont you take a picture of that,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Well, folks, don’t let it be said that redbankgreen can’t take a hint. We tracked down the house’s owner, Kevin Boyce, at his home in Long Branch for an explanation.

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