ISLAND STYLE

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Today’s Ledger has a piece about private islands along (or near) the Shore, including Rumson’s Barley Point Island, on the Navesink. That’s an aerial view above, courtesy of the Monmouth County Tax Board, with houses outlined in green.

Barley Point is just one of two such islands north of Brigantine, the other being Middle Sedge Island in Barnegat Bay, according to the story.

Reporter Judy Peet frames the story as a balancing act for residents who get to enjoy idyllic “Robinson Crusoe” getaways most New Jerseyans are unaware of, but have to haul their own garbage back to shore and regularly swat away developers looking to buy them out.

“We always kept our eyes open for people who wanted to take our island away from us,” said (Gerry) Boswell, 62, who has been coming to Barley Point Island in Rumson since infancy. “The only way we can stay simple is by design.”

Peet also gives a compact rundown of Barley Point’s history.

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CELL TOWER PROXY

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Verizon Wireless put up a crane in the parking lot of Fair Haven’s Church of the Nativity this morning to give residents an idea of what a 133-foot-tall cellphone tower would look like if sited on the church property, as proposed. If built, the tower would actually be 75 feet east of the crane location, in a small copse of trees.

Whether the demo will break the stalemate over where to erect the borough’s first cellular tower remains to be seen.

John Hanson isn’t so sure. “One neighbor will say, ‘My reception is great,’ says Hanson, a carpenter who lives on Maple Avenue. “The other will say, ‘My kids are gonna get cancer; I have to move.’ “

The crane is scheduled to remain up until 4p.

Our four views show the crane from: 1. Ridge Road, looking east across the intersection at Hance; 2. the front of the church, looking east; 3. just north of the church on Hance Road and 4. Ridge Road.

NEARER TO THEE THAN THE STEEPLE, LORD

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Adding an odd twist to a long-running controversy, a 133-foot-tall crane is to be raised in the parking lot of the Church of the Nativity in Fair Haven tomorrow to give residents and passersby some idea of what a cellphone tower would look like if built there.

One thing it is sure to look like: a crane three times the height of the church’s 40-foot steeple.

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LEDGER PACKAGES RED BANK

Today’s Star-Ledger has an eight-page pullout guide to Red Bank in its “Ticket” section, and a more extensive version at its website.

The section doesn’t aim for depth (thus we’re reminded, repeatedly, that 20 years ago the town was known as “Dead Bank”). But it does have overviews of the arts, dining, nightlife and shopping scenes that visitors will find helpful.

Noteworthy is an interactive map that shows the locations of art galleries, restaurants and other attractions. Kudos to the Ledger for making the map so big and for encompassing everything from Two If By Sea and The Little Kraut on the West Side to Design Front on the east. (Rok+Lola, just few doors east of Design Front, may have a differing opinion.)

The package also includes a terrific slideshow of pictures by staff photographer Aristide Economopoulos. They’re not included the dead-trees version.

WHERE THE STREETS ARE PAVED IN LEAD

Southbound travelers on the Parkway may one day have a panoramic view of 2,000 new condos on either side of the highway as they descend from the steep new bridge across the Raritan River.

Today’s Home News Tribune reports that Sayreville’s Planning Board has approved a proposal to add housing, at five units per acre, to a redevelopment plan for the 400-acre brownfields site of the former National Lead operations.

THNT’s report says that prospective developer LNR Northeast Investment’s

$1.5 billion vision for the redevelopment property, bisected by the Garden State Parkway and routes 9 and 35, includes 2,000 housing units, hotels, office and retail space, marinas, a canal and basin, promenade and athletic complex.

A major hurdle must first be tackled before anything can be built. LNR is currently negotiating with NL Industries in an effort to assume control of the cleanup of the former industrial property, which contains a number of environmental contaminants.

A Planning Board member is quoted as saying that the developers will target “empty nesters” and the “upwardly mobile” rather than families with children in marketing the homes.

No kids? Hmm. Guess they won’t be calling the place “Leadville,” either.

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PICTURES AT NINE EXHIBITIONS

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As a way of decompressing from the workweek, an after-dinner dawdle along the streets of Red Bank on a summer evening is a pretty sure thing. And this Saturday night, lollygaggers can add art appreciation to their wanderings by getting into the flow of ArtWalk, a a semi-annual event in which nine art galleries extend their hours to show off their stuff for visitors on self-guided tours.

It kicks off at 6p, and as always, is open to the public and free.

“It’s a night on which all the art galleries stay open until 9p, instead of closing at their usual 5 or 6p,” says event organizer Heather Malinowski of Laurel Tracey Gallery. “It’s rain or shine. We all pitch in and buy postcards to promote the event and keep our fingers crossed.”

Coinciding with ArtWalk, Laurel Tracey, on White Street, is hosting a reception for a new show called “Garden Party,” featuring landscape works by five painters. Among them is Jon Peters, whose paintings include impressionistic views of some locales familiar to Shore residents and visitors. The show runs through Aug. 12.

A block away, on Monmouth Street, McKay Imaging Studio & Gallery will feature manipulated photos and other works by the late John Kochansky, a Long Branch artist who died suddenly last October at age 47. An opening party is scheduled for Friday night from 7 to 10p. The Kochansky show runs through Aug. 28; all proceeds benefit a scholarship fund for his daughter, Karly.

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ORGANICALLY ORGANIC

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Admit it: There was a time, maybe not so long ago, when someone would bring up the subject of organic food and you’d start looking around for the nearest exit. Not because you think there’s anything wrong with getting pesticides and other horrors out of our food stream, but because of the mix of moral superiority and harmony-of-the-spheres loopiness that often serves as the verbal packing for such good-sense ideas.

It’s hard enough being reminded of your bad dietary choices, especially when the person doing the reminding is a weird-beard or earth mother who tells you that his or her VW bus runs on your French-fry grease. But when the purported benefits of free-range chicken or meatless diets start ranging out beyond the travel limits of the Space Shuttle to the distant galaxies of the universe, you may be tempted to speed-dial Cluck U for a bucket of wings as you as you tear home in your SUV.

Given the millions of Americans who have begun to rethink what goes onto their foods and into the earth, the stereotype of the vegan proselytizer is probably no longer operative. Still, the organic-Prius-herbal-holistic crowd might benefit from a wholesale image makeover, one that replaces some lingering out-there-isms with simple pragmatism.

In that sense, Marcia Blackwell is a compelling ambassador of sorts for the organics movement.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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Dog-walkin’ visual artist Wendy Born Hollander was the only reader to correctly identify last week’s ‘Where,’ which showed the number 61 above the word ‘office’ and a bent arrow. It’s a sign painted on a small building on West Street, opposite Juanito’s Restaurant.

You may recognizae Wendy’s name. She was the subject of a redbankgreen feature story a couple of weeks back. Likewise, Joe Ruffini, who’s building the environmentally ‘green’ roof atop his house on Maple Avenue, is another feature subject and ‘Where’ winner. We know we shouldn’t extrapolate from so little data, but it does seem that if you want to win, your chances are improved if 1.) you’ve been written up here or 2.) you’re a Stein.

This week’s ‘Where’ comes tinged with a sense of the past. Recognize it? Send your guesses to us via e-mail rather than using the Comments, please. And thanks for playing.

DASHBOARD CUISINE

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It took five-plus hours, and the end result was more shriveled than shirred. But yesterday was hot enough to cook an egg on a dashboard, as redbankgreen‘s adventurous crew proved in a Saturn station wagon.

Coming soon: August bacon.

PLAYS WELL WITH OTHERS, TOO

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Matt O’Ree is 34 years old and teaches guitar in and around Red Bank, giving private lessons in homes and at the Red Bank Music Academy on Monmouth Street. He’s got the look of somebody who needs to be onstage, and in fact, he plays often locally, making frequent appearances at the Downtown Café (now closed for renovations).

If you’ve seen him or heard any of his three albums, you know he’s got talent as a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist. He’s got a big sound reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan and his first idol, Jimi Hendrix. Understandably, he’s got ambition.

Now, suddenly, O’Ree has made the leap from somewhat-obscure local artist to certified American guitar monster. Or, to use the exact title, he’s the Guitarmageddon King of the Blues.

Last month, the Holmdel resident won a national contest for blues axemen called Guitarmageddon, sponsored by a chain of instrument stores. The contest was a multi-stage event that culled 4,000 players down to seven, and ended with a blare-off at the House of Blues Chicago that was judged by John Mayer, Rick Neilson of Cheap Trick, and legendary bluesman B.B. King. O’Ree drove off with the top prize and a pile of swag that included a car, a rack of guitars, endorsement deals and a year’s supply of an energy drink. The booty was valued at $40,000.

A month later, he’s still reveling in the memory of having rubbed elbows wtih B.B. and with Hubert Sumlin, the guitarist behind another of his big influences, Howlin’ Wolf.

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MAKING THE ROUNDS

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Ten quick questions for Gail Mayr of Lena’s Bagels and Deli, 441 Broad Street, Shrewsbury.

We understand you’re quite well-traveled on the local bagel circuit. So where have you worked?
I started at the Bagel Station on Monmouth Street, where I worked for 11 years. Then I was at the Windward Deli, on Maple Avenue for four years. I went to Grandma’s Bagels in Little Silver, but it changed hands, and it just wasn’t for me. I worked there about eight months. I’ve been at Lena’s about four months now. I’ve known Lena (Maddalena Caruso) for probably 30 years, and she kept asking me to come work with her, but I wasn’t too sure about working for a friend. But then I figured, if I’m gonna bust my butt, it might as well be for somebody I like.

Have you had other food-industry jobs?
Oh god, yeah! I worked at the Willow Deli in Little Silver; I was there for nine years. Then the owners started the Cherry Street Deli (in Tinton Falls) and they asked me to help start that up, so I was there for a little while. Then I got TMJ and couldn’t work for a year, and after that, they were starting a Dom’s Deli in Fair Haven, and so I went there for a while. When that got a little slow, I went to the Bagel Station. Actually, it was the Bagel Deli part I worked in.

Why so many stops along the deli & bagel trail?
You know, it’s the funniest thing. I was at the Bagel Deli for 11 years, and I’m really more of a deli person—Dominick Melicia and his wife, Joan, taught me everything I know—catering, lunches, everything. But I’ve baked bagels—I used to do it one day a week at the Bagel Station. I can do everything with bagels except hand-rolling. It looks easy, but it takes a knack. Anybody can do it, but the bagels have to be uniform in size, and that’s hard to do.

What’s the most important step in making bagels?
The most important step is proofing the bagel. After they roll the bagels, the dough is at room temperature. You put a vinyl cover over the bagels and the heat from the dough makes it proof. If they’re not proofed they’re going to come out very small and almost hard.

What is it about bagels that people love so much?
Well, in the ‘80s, the bagels were very big. They just really caught on, because there was no sugar in them—they used malt. That went on for I betcha eight years. But now all of a sudden it’s wraps. People don’t come in and buy dozens of bagels anymore. Really. People would come in, buy a dozen, two dozen, cream cheese, butter and take them to the office. People don’t do that anymore.

So do customers follow you from one store to another?
Oh my god, yeah. ‘OHMYGOD! I FOUND YOU!’ You know what it is? I was at the Bagel Station for so long, and people knew that I wouldn’t sell them anything that I thought was bad. If I wouldn’t eat it myself, I wouldn’t sell it to you. That’s another thing that Dominck taught me. He said, ‘If you want a thriving business, you never sell anything you wouldn’t eat yourself.’ Plus, I’m very friendly. I always remember people’s names, ask about their families. I must have that kind of face people confide in. Sometimes, you get a new customer who’s just nasty, and I pour it on being nice, and the next time they come in, you’d think I was their best friend in the world.

When you say ‘things I wouldn’t eat,’ you’re not talking about things that are just a matter of preference, I presume.
When I worked for (IDENTITY OF A FORMER EMPLOYER WITHHELD TO KEEP redbankgreen FROM GETTING SUED INTO OBLIVION), if he thought something was bad, he’d tell you to just wash it off. Somebody would ask for egg salad, and if I knew it was sitting there for two days, I’d say, ‘No, you don’t want that.’ So that was their clue.

What’s your favorite bagel?
My favorite bagel is the everything bagel, with butter. I’m not a cream cheese person.

What’s your least favorite?
Cinnamon raisin. I just don’t know what it is—I don’t like it.

Which is more important to human happiness, bagels or comfortable shoes?
Oh, jeez. Human happiness? I’m going to have to say the shoes.

NO ORDINARY FRAME OF REFERENCE

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Psychologists call it the “hedonic treadmill,” the seemingly never-ending pursuit of goals and possessions that we think will make us truly and enduringly happy, if only we could attain them.

Having been bombarded all their lives with the messages that they deserve the best and most fulfilled lives, millions of Americans, and no doubt millions more people around the world, find themselves captives of the treadmill. Because no achievement, no acquisition, it seems, can do for them what they thought it would in terms of sustained contentment. The kick just doesn’t come, or if it does, it fades fast.

A whole new field of psychological study has bloomed in the past few decades to explore this disconnect between what we think we want and what actually makes us happy. Meanwhile, until the answers are clear, most of us just get back onto the treadmill in search of the next hit.

Megan Prenderville and Mike Harper of Red Bank work seven days a week at a combined nine jobs. She teaches CPR to medical professionals. It’s freelance work that consumes as many hours as she allows. Mike freelances too, as an illustrator; at the moment, he’s working on a children’s book for Scholastic Inc. He also puts in 15 hours a week at Lowe’s in Eatontown, mainly for health benefits he considers an exceptional bargain for his labors in the paint department. That’s three, but those are their side gigs. Together, Mike and Megan also share duties as self-employed picture framers, antiques sellers and vendors of old-timey fruit-crate labels.

Except for those hours when they slip into Brothers Pizza to decompress with what Megan calls “the four-o’clock guys” over beer and a couple of slices, they seem never to be idle. They might appear, in fact, to be chained to the treadmill.

And yet, you are unlikely to meet a couple with less desire for something other than what’s at hand. Because what’s at hand is what they want. The Ph.D.’s of happinessology should probably pay a visit.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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So much for reflexively ascribing virtues to people without first checking our facts. It turns out Dayna Stein of the Dueling Steins hasn’t been sitting out the recent weeks of ‘Where’ simply to give other readers a chance to win, as we supposed in this space last week. Instead, she tells us, we’ve had her flummoxed.

‘The first two shots were easy,’ she says in an e-mail. ‘Now it seems you have raised the bar. I am stumped, not gracious here!’

As much as we hate to be wrong about character, and as much as it pains us to have to take Dayna off the pedestal we hastily constructed for her, we can live with both if it means there’s stumpage out there. Because that’s kind of the point of Where Have I Seen This. It shouldn’t be easy, after all.

Then again, easy is a relative term, and last week, regular travelers through Little Silver were among the least challenged. The winner was Adam E, who nailed the location of those agricultural blue tubes—they’re on Seven Bridge Road, at the intersection of Silverside Avenue—before most of us were out of bed last Thursday. Four other readers also got it right.

Adam and most of the other players surmised that the tubes are sheltering grape vines, and they appear to be correct. The owners of the property weren’t home when we rang the doorbell yesterday, but the endposts on each planted row were marked with labels. We could make out ones for ‘Cabernet Sauvignon,’ ‘Pinot Noir’ and ‘Golden Muscat.’ So if those are tomatoes coming in, somebody’s got a wry sense of humor over there on the Shrewsbury River.

Let’s see if either of Dueling Steins can get back into the competition this week with the little number above. As always, we ask that you e-mail your guesses rather than sending them via Comments. Thanks for playing.

Sell your junk family heirlooms

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One town’s junk is another town’s gold, it seems. Audrey Oldoerp of South Street looks at nearby burgs, with their annual townwide garages sales, and wonders, Hey, why not here, in Red Bank?

Townwide sales aren’t uncommon. Atlantic Highlands has one every May, an event it bills as the longest-running townwide garage sale in Monmouth County. Belmar also does one in May; this year’s event included a speedboat for sale. (No word on whether that baby found a new driveway to grow old in.) Metuchen, in Middlesex County, has townwide sales in both April and September; they must accumulate useless wedding presents at an accelerated pace up there in the Brainy Borough.

The idea is to get dozens or even hundreds of homeowners and tenants to set up tables on their lawns and driveways to lure visitors into town, get them to take away stuff we no longer want, and leave behind some cash in the process. Promotion could be centralized, with a master roster or map available to bargain hunters.

Oldoerp says that with its popular Antiques District, Red Bank seems a natural for this kind of thing. She thought she might get one going by talking to Red Bank officials, “but nobody in the administration was really interested in it,” she says.

So if we’re to have border-to-border bargaining over used goods, it looks like residents will have to make this happen.

Who’s up for this idea? Comments, please.

NO DUDS ALLOWED

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While tens of thousands of visitors sought out unobstructed views of the KaBoom Fireworks Monday night, hundreds of others chose to stand in or near the intersection of Broad and Front streets to watch the action from behind a scrim of storefronts.

Not all the pyrotechnics were visible from this unconventional vantage point. But those that cleared the rooflines repainted the downtown, if only for a flash, and proved the street throngs were onto something.

THE END OF AN OASIS

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Say goodbye to another Red Bank landmark.

Shrewsbury Manor, an idyllic cluster of 59 apartments located next door to the Molly Pitcher Inn, is gradually being cleared out and will fall to the bulldozer sometime after the last tenants have departed in late 2007, redbankgreen has learned.

Samantha Bowers, vice president of Philip J. Bowers & Co., the family-owned real estate development firm that built Shrewsbury Manor 60 years ago and still owns it, yesterday confirmed that the buildings will be razed.

Because of their age, the two-story, red brick structures “require an extraordinary amount of maintenance,” said Bowers. “The buildings have reached the end of their useful life, and so this is, unfortunately, what we have to do. It’s time to redevelop the property.”

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DROPPING IN ON…

When redbankgreen visited Shrewsbury Manor at mid-afternoon Monday, blithely ignoring the orange fencing meant to keep out trespassers, the Independence Day partying was not yet in full swing, but signs of the bash to come were unmistakable.

Both interior courtyards of the apartment complex were dotted with folding tables starting to groan under loads of food and drink. Long-neck bottles chilled in tubs of ice. Four young women played beer pong, a game of startling simplicity in which contestants try to toss a ball into a cupful of beer; when they succeed, their opponents must drink beer. Nearby, a beer-drinking guy exhorted the women to take off their tops when he spotted our camera. They didn’t. Apparently, the combined beer pong scores were still at the level of a World Cup soccer match.

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At the river end of the yard, where a grand vista opens out east along the Navesink, Barbara Cottrell sat quietly in the shade in front of her apartment, chatting with passing neighbors and awaiting the start of the fireworks, the latest installment in a long string of July Fourths spent on or near the waterway.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

Leave it to a guy who spends his days tarring roofs and uses the name “hotmop” in his e-mail address to be first to guess the location of last week’s Where, which showed a rusting ladder in a dying tree.

Joe Ruffini, himself the subject of a redbankgreen feature last week (he’s the guy building the evironmentally ‘green’ roof atop his Maple Avenue house), was the first of several readers to accurately identify the location as the southwest corner of Irving Place and Broad Street.

No entries have been received for several weeks now from the dueling Steins, Dayna and Larry. Knowing them both, we suspect they’re being magnanimous and letting others taste the glory of winning. And as always, winning this game is a feat rewarded only with the sense of glory. In other words, no tangible goods.

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Now, onto this week’s picture. Because our knowledge about agriculture is limited to vague memories of ‘Green Acres’ episodes, we’d be as interested in knowing what’s going on here as where it’s going on. Feel free to make stuff up.

As usual, we ask that you e-mail your guesses rather than sending them via Comments.

BE YOUR OWN PYROTECHNICIAN

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The fireworks display over the Navesink on Monday was just one part of the street theater that played out on the throng-choked thoroughfares of Red Bank on July 3. Our roving photographer asked some folks in town to show off their best facial impressions of awesome kaboomery, and more than 100 complied. (OK, the tattoo of the googly-eyed pancake doesn’t actually fit the theme, but how often will we get to run a picture of a googly-eyed pancake tattoo?)

Know any of these rubbery-faced funsters? Let them know they’re now famous, courtesy of redbankgreen.

Click on the image above to see the full chart. If it exceeds the size of your screen, try saving it to your desktop and then opening it.