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AND THE LEADER, BY A HAIR…

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How close is next week’s mayoral election in Red Bank looking?

Well, there are no polls that we know of. So redbankgreen devised its own measure.

We call it the Electometer, a count of yard signs touting the candidates: Council President Pasquale Menna, a Democrat; his opponent, Republican Councilman John Curley; and their respective slates.

It’s far from scientific, we know. You can discount or dismiss the results for numerous reasons. But it’s all we’ve got.

So, how’s the race shaping up as we enter the final week? Well, it’s close. Extremely close. But according to the Electometer, if voters from Mechanic Street turn out and pull levers the way they’ve declared themselves in their front yards, the slate that’ll be popping champagne corks next Tuesday night is the one headed by…

… the bald bachelor.

No, not that one. The other one.

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THERE GOES THE BRIDAL SHOP

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After 10 years in business, Linda Celler shut down her Enchanted Evenings bridal salon and boutique at 97 Broad Street last week.

redbankgreen found Celler in the empty store Friday, accompanied only by a shelf of shoes, as she awaited the arrival of movers to pick up a sofa. After that, she’d lock the front door one last time and head home to Lakewood.

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STRANGENESS ON A TRAIN

The elusive nature of place, and especially of new destinations, is the subject of a show of 18 photographs by Andi Monick that opens Friday night at the McKay Gallery.

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What links all the images in the show, called “TRANSITion: Scenes From A Moving Train,” is that they were taken by the artist as she rode the rails.

“When traveling, you often compare what you are seeing to your preconceived expectation of it,” Monick says in a prepared statement. “And so it becomes a mix of those things. Something in between. Something concerning the idea of place rather than the place itself.”

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CHIN UP, LOVE! THERE MUST BE A SPACE!

Red Bank officials past and present would be well advised to scope out the excruciatingly limited parking options in downtown Freehold, because they could be spending a lot of time in the county seat, thanks to former Red Bank parking director Neil Burnip.

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This week’s Hub reports that Burnip, perhaps the thinnest-skinned Brit ever to leave that scepter’d isle, has followed through on his threat to file suit against the borough. He’s seeking $11.5 million in damages and compensation for what he says was discrimination based on his nationality.

In addition to prosecuting his lawsuit—he’s acting as his own attorney at the moment—Burnip may have to defend himself against allegations of sexual assault and harassment raised by a Red Bank employee. The woman’s attorney recently put the borough on notice of a coming $5 million lawsuit that will allege Burnip stalked, improperly touched and otherwise harassed her between May and August of this year.

Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels is also expected to be named a defendant in that suit for his alleged failure to properly supervise Burnip.

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HEAD TO HEAD: ROUND 2

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In the second of three excerpts from our interviews with Pasquale Menna and John Curley, the mayoral candidates size each other up.

And, as always, the shadow of Mayor Ed McKenna looms.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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The three-D stainless-steel letters spelling out the name of a now-departed business was, perhaps, a dead giveaway for last week’s entry.

Which probably explains why an unusual number of readers got it. But once again, the fleet-fingered Dylan Barlett got it first.

It’s the former Shore Point Distributors building in Little Silver, tucked away near the train station at the corner of Eastview Avenue and Conover Place, now used by Contemporary Motor Cars, a Mercedes dealership.

Shore Point Distributors still exists, by the way. The beer wholesaler is based in Freehold.

Do you recognize this week’s entry? Email us your answers, please.

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ALL ABOARD!

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NJ Transit is adding a new express train to New York along the North Jersey Coast line next week, according to an agency news release.

The new run will leave Long Branch at 6:30a and stop in Little Silver, Red Bank, Middletown, Hazlet, Aberdeen-Matawan and Woodbridge before arriving in New York at 7:51a.

A local from South Amboy is also being added to the coast line.

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UM, TRY NOT TO BREAK THE CORK

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“We got it for twelve grand,” Ralph Marra shouted into his cellphone. “Just me and you!”

Marra, of Rumson, had a finger in one ear as he struggled to hear over the celebratory din within the Sickles Market greenhouse last Friday night. On the other end of the call was his pal, Greg Matzel, of Colts Neck.

What Marra and Matzel had just paid $12,000 for at auction was a night out with six guests in the wine cellar of Rumson’s Brian Pasch. On the menu: a dinner catered by Restaurant Nicholas and 13 bottles of Harlan Estate wine from Pasch’s collection. The wine alone had a retail value of close to $6,000.

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FIVE-FOOT-TEN, GREEN-EYED MANNEQUIN

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Most Saturdays of the year, 21-year-old Erin Ryan of Belmar stands outside LJ’s Total Man/Today’s Woman clothing store on Broad Street, doing what she calls “promotional modeling,” talking up the merchandise to shoppers.

But when it gets cold enough to turn Erin’s exposed toes purple, she takes her act inside and does a mannequin act in the store’s window.

Erin is a full-time humanities student at Ocean County College, waitresses at an Outback restaurant, cleans houses two days a week, practices photography, and is—big surprise—almost impossible to reach. But redbankgreen caught up with her at LJ’s last weekend for a quick interview.

What’s involved in being a human mannequin?
I normally do 20-minute poses, not breathing, not blinking, not anything. It gets difficult. After about three minutes, your feet go numb and your hands start trembling. And after 15, you don’t even realize that you’re standing still.

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PACKIN’ THEM IN

A dozen new metered parking spaces were created along West Front Street this week, the result of efforts by retailers who complained about inadequate parking near their businesses and decided to do something about it, according to Tricia Rumola, Executive Director of RiverCenter.

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For all the talk about underutilized parking lots east of Broad Street, shoppers on the west side, like those everywhere, want to park nearest their destinations, says Rumola.

“Customers are all about convenience, and you can’t change that mindset,” Rumola says, “and RiverCenter is all about customer service.”

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DATABASE PLUG: 100 YEARS AGO TODAY

The Red Bank Public Library is closing for up to four weeks starting Monday as part of its $1.6 million renovation project.

That means no book-borrowing, of course—and a break for anyone with books due for return during the closing. Members, though, will still have accces to the library’s electronic databases from their home computers. And on good-weather days, for those laptoppers who really miss the place, there are some nice benches outside from which you’ll still be able to get wireless access to the Internet via the library’s link.

If you haven’t explored the databases, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of information, including some interesting history. For example, in the New York Times archive, which reaches back to 1851, we recently stumbled on this gem, which was published, it so happens, 100 years ago today:

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BACKPEDALING FROM DUBIOUS ADS

Democratic mayoral candidate Pasquale Menna has acknowledged that mailed campaign literature used to attack his opponent, John Curley, contained made-up newspaper excerpts, according to today’s Asbury Park Press.

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“It was an error on the campaign’s part. We didn’t do it maliciously, and I’ve apologized on behalf of the campaign,” Menna told the Press’ Larry Higgs. “It should have been put together better.”

But the consultant whose firm designed the ad, Ross Oster of the Oster Group, told the Press that he properly sourced the original Press article, an assertion disputed by an editor at the Press.

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HEAD TO HEAD: ROUND 1

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Is Red Bank riding a surge of prosperity, poised to begin spreading its commercial and cultural riches beyond the downtown to the West Side? Or has development run amok, altering the town’s small-town character for the worse, and sticking residents with too much of the tab and aggravation?

These are some of the big issues in this year’s election of a successor to Mayor Ed McKenna, and represent, in broad strokes, the perspectives of the two candidates, council members Pasquale Menna and John Curley.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

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It’s a sad tale, or so we imagine, of a tree limb that grew too close to a wire, and then around the wire, and then became orphaned, clinging to the wire as the tree from which it grew was cut down.

Now, it just hangs there, suspended, immobile, inert as the strands of twisted steel that keep it from falling to the sidewalk below, on Peters Place. We imagine, too, legions of bored schoolchildren catching sight of the lonely limb from their classrooms across the street at St. James Elementary School and wondering, ‘How did it get there?”

We’re talking, of course, about last week’s ‘Where.’ Ken Ameika identified its location, no doubt aided by the fact that he lives on Peters Place. Congrats, Ken.

Do you recognize this week’s entry? Email us your answers, please.

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EOA 2 ROCKS THE ‘BURBS

Our apologies, Shrewsbury, for thinking of you only as an uber-suburb. This is not the kind of experience we’re used to having within your staid environs. But it seems you do have the capacity to surprise, you cheeky bedroom community, you.

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Over the weekend, Shrewsbury residents Karen Lovell and Mike DeNardo presented the second annual Evening of Artistry, or “EOA 2: The Rising,” in their home for a gathering of local creative types and select friends.

As they did last year, Karen & Mike transformed their house into a gallery for one night, filling it with paintings, small sculpted pieces and other artworks made by those in attendance. “Bizarro” genre novelist and short-storyist Ray Fracalossy read a piece from his new collection, Tales from the Vinegar Wasteland. The rock band Sheep Bamboo—in which DeNardo mans the keyboards—played a set.

Fracalossy’s the guy in the glasses at far left. Fans of the local psychedelic rock scene of a few years back may recognize him as the lead guitarist in Lord John (MySpace registration required). Clockwise from there are DeNardo; Sheep Bamboo guitarist & singer Barry Roberts; and Karen Lovell.

Want in on next year’s party? Tune into your Muse, and start cozying up to Shrewsbury scenesters Karen & Mike.

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CUE THE NEXT REEL

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Final figures aren’t yet in, but the sixth annual Red Bank International Film Festival, held last weekend, attracted a record number of moviegoers from all over the tri-state region, says Marc Leckstein, president of the Freedom Film Society, the festival sponsor.

“This was probaly the most sucessful festival we’ve had, not just in terms of attendance, but in terms of the quality of the films and audience response,” says Leckstein.

Soon, after a brief return to lives put on hold for the festival, the all-volunteer film society returns to the challenge of building the lineup for the seventh edition.

“What we try to do is to show people product that they’re not normally going to be able to see,” says Leckstein. “That’s what our audience has become conditioned to expecting—something new and different.”

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WEST SIDE ROBBERS SENTENCED

Lengthy sentences were imposed last week on two Lakewood men convicted in a 2003 robbery and beating at Katsin’s Pharmacy on Shrewsbury Avenue.

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One of the assailants was sentenced to 40 years in prison, and his accomplice got 16 years. A third man involved in the crime was never identified. DNA evidence played a role in the investigation and prosecution.

The Asbury Park Press has the story.

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ATTACK OF THE DUBIOUS EXCERPTS

“JOHN CURLEY… ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL,” declares a recent campaign mailer sent out by Red Bank Democrats in one of the first attack ads of this year’s mayoral race.

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Bearing an image of a pillow on a steering wheel, the mailer takes Republican Councilman and mayoral candidate John Curley to task for his purported responsibilty in the recent Finance Department mess. That’s the one in which former CFO Terence Whalen was replaced following the discovery of lax fiscal controls, and property owners got stuck with a tax increase to cover associated costs.

But the folks involved in writing and editing the mailer may have been asleep at the wheel, too. Or were they perhaps doing some aggressive driving?

The mailer includes anti-Curley excerpts from newspaper articles or editorials that apparently don’t exist.

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SEASTREAK: IT’S NOT US

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Sea Containers Ltd., the Bermuda-based parent of ferry operator SeaStreak America, has filed for chapter 11 protection from creditors.

But the operator of the Highlands and Atlantic Highlands ferries wants it known that it is not a party to the bankruptcy filing.

From an e-mail alert sent to registered customers:

SeaStreak America Inc. is not joining in the Chapter 11 filings. We want to assure our customers, purveyors and employees that we will operate normally and will fulfill our commitments as we always have. SeaStreak will continue to provide the same unparalleled quality of service which our customers have grown accustomed to.

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ROAD TRIP!

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A garage sale at the Red Bank Middle School on Saturday featured a table run by members of the school’s class of 2007, who were raising funds for this year’s class trip.

Boston is a possible destination, but the final selection hasn’t been made, says Kathy Noble, parent of an eighth-grader.

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THEY’RE A SNAP TO BUILD, WE HEAR

redbankgreen came upon the odd sight Friday evening of 17-year-old Mario Oldani making a rubber-band ball in front of the Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street.

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Inspired by a friend who created one earlier in the week, Mario started an orb that quickly eclipsed his friend’s in size, he says.

“You never really think about making one until you see one,” says the 17-year-old Red Bank Regional senior, “and then you’ve gotta have one.”

Now, his goal is to make an elastic-band sphere the size of a basketball. A photographer, Mario says he’ll send us a picture of the finished product.

Bring it on, dude. We’ve got the, um, bandwidth.

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