Joe Piscopo

OK, let’s acknowledge right up front that the dye job’s a little creepy, while the whole “I’m from Joisey” schtick we associate him with could use some Botox, or cyanide, even.

But a quarter-century after his moment in the spotlight, onetime Saturday Night Live star Joe Piscopo has reinvented himself, we’re told, as an entertainer.

Not as a comedian whose routine includes a parody of Frank Sinatra — one of his more memorable skits on SNL — but as a legit jazz singer who does a Sinatra tribute as part of musical act that’s, naturally, sprinkled with humor.

Nobody knows that,” Red Bank Jazz Orchestra director Joe Muccioli says of Piscopo’s love of jazz, and his ability to serve it up. “But he’s been doing this for years. And he’d got pipes.”

On Saturday, June 21, expect to see some disbelieving faces pressed against the windows of the River’s Edge Café on Broad Street, when Piscopo rolls into the eatery for two performances.

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One recent morning at the tennis courts in Marine Park, the air was crisp, the clouds distant, and the sun’s rays subdued.

In short, the kind of morning tennis players dream about, in a setting that’s rarely duplicated.

Maybe it’s the natural beauty of the place, with four courts nestled at the foot of a bluff between the park, the Monmouth Boat Club and the Navesink River. Tall trees cool the air, and boat masts bob gently nearly.

Add to that the unique charm of the 66-year-old courts’ surface, with the forgiving softness of red clay — actually, yellow clay covered with a layer of granulated slate that makes it appear the color of brick.

“When you’e down here at 6:30 or 7a, you feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven,” says Dan Ciaglia, a tennis coach at the Ranney School who’s playing today with his doubles partner, Chuck Watson of Red Bank.

This patch of otherworldliness, some may be surprised to hear, is a public commodity; the courts are owned by the borough of Red Bank.

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Tom Labetti and Eileen (nee Weller) Labetti of Elm Place got married recently at St. James Church on Broad Street.

The red-haired bride beamed magnificently, the wedding party looked youthful and happy, and the newlyweds headed off for their reception in a classic red Corvette.

A perfectly nice affair, to be sure, but not exactly the kind of thing that usually merits media attention beyond the wedddings & engagement page in a local paper.

Except that redbankgreen is hyperlocal media, and the Labettis are a hyperlocal pair — in one significant sense, at least. They wanted their wedding to reflect not only their tastes, but their values. Which in this case meant that they were determined to keep as much of the money they’d be spending on their wedding in Red Bank.

They didn’t want it spread among the malls, Manhattan’s diamond district and some unbelievable-discount-on-Vera Wang-outlet in Brooklyn. They preferred that it land in the cash registers of the stores not far from their house. Thousands of dollars.

Now that’s what we call a civil union.

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Today’s Asbury Park Press business section has a profile of Ellen D’Amore, proprietor of Soapmarket on Monmouth Street.

In the article, D’Amore recounts how, after working 20 years as a textile designer in the garment industry, she longed to create a business centered on something she enjoys: face and body soaps, the kinds of products she’d always buy when traveling to mills in India, China, Russia and throughout Europe for her job.

From the story:

“It sounds silly, but I love soap and all the products,” D’Amore said. “When I thought about what I want to do all day, it was going to be something I would enjoy, that I want to see every day, a nice place to walk into every day.”

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Anybody who’s ever played hoops knows how much fun a game of three-on-three can be. There are just enough players to make the game strategically challenging, but not so many that anybody gets left out of the action.

This weekend, in an effort to bring together kids from all over Monmouth County and put some excitement into what might be a day of the doldrums, the Pilgrim Baptist Church, in conjunction with a handful of other organizations, is putting on a three-on-three tournament at Count Basie Courts.

The event is open kids aged 9 to 18. Registration is at 8a, and walk-ons are welcome; the fee is $5 per person, though scholarships are available to anyone who can’t pay. Games start at 8:30 and run until about 1p.

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The already bizarre border war between two prominent Rumson families took another unusual turn earlier this week when the judge in the case ruled that “members of the public” will benefit if Citigroup Vice Chairman Pete Dawkins and his wife, Judith, are allowed to tear down the 1,800-square-foot pool house on their Navesink River estate and replace it with a 2,750-square-foot caretaker’s cottage.

“Many members of the public attend charity functions at the property,” Superior Court Judge Alexander Lehrer wrote in his 35-page ruling released Tuesday, according to yesterday’s Asbury Park Press. “They will benefit from the improved visual environment as the proposed design will be compatible with the main house,” Lehrer wrote.

The Press excerpt from Lehrer’s ruling doesn’t say how many “members of the public” are admitted to the Dawkins’ 10.4 acre estate, or under what terms. But to experience the feng shui harmony of the main house and cottage, the public first has to make its way past a security gate at River Road and then travel a long driveway toward the river. No structures on the Dawkins property are visible from the road, even when the trees are bare.

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It’s not as bad as it looks. Jared Pienkos of Fair Haven, playing an insurance pitchman, took an extremely slow-mo hood spill as part of spoof video he and some friends filmed Sunday in the parking lot of Red Bank Regional.

At the wheel was Joe Griesbach of Rumson; behind he camera were Rebecca Cramer of Fair Haven and Aly Honsa of Rumson.

“We don’t know if we’re funny yet,” Pienkos told redbankgreen. Readers will be able to judge for themselves, if and when the video makes it to You Tube, as the foursome plans. Stay tuned.

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A full three hours before the first of some 4,000 pieces of fireworks is lofted into the sky above the Navesink Tuesday night, the streets of central Red Bank will be closed to vehicular traffic.

Which for the crowd — estimated in past years to have been 170,000 strong — means one of three things:

• Get here early, find a convenient parking spot and relax in town for five or six hours.

• Be ready to walk to your chosen viewing spot from outside the downtown.

• Make friends with somebody with a boat, pronto.

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A Tiffany clock sold for $6,000, and a pair of Tiffany lamps went for another six grand. A 1964 Chevy Impala SS went for $16,000.

But that Navesink River-front mansion we told you about last week — the one that was going up for auction at a minimum bid of $2.5 million, just two months after it changed hands for $2 million?

No bids, no sale.

“I guess most people wouldn’t be in a rush to pay an additional half million,” Jeff Zimmerman of Time & Again Auction Gallery in Linden, told redbankgreen this morning.

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From beneath layers of paint and grime, a century-and-a-half-old mansion is emerging, soon to be open to the public for the first time in a generation.

OK, the ‘soon’ part is relative, given that the project is a couple of months behind schedule. But Debbie Griffin-Sadel, director of the Red Bank Public Library, believes that the restoration and update of the facility will be completed by October at the latest, and will be worth the wait.

redbankgreen got an exclusive preview recently, and it certainly raised our expectations.

Among the highlights: the ornately trimmed former Eisner family living room that spans the first floor on the West Front Street side of the building. Lushly finished in Victorian paneling and trim, plaster ceiling cartouches and bold wood flooring, the room is a trip back in time, albeit in this case only to the 1920s, when it was added to the circa 1850s mansion.

Slated to become the ‘Eisner New Jersey Room,’ housing a collection of materials about the state and the borough, it’s a space that hasn’t been open to the general public since the late 1960s, said Griffin-Sadel.

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Today’s Asbury Park Press has a story about dual efforts by Red Bank officials to address quality of life concerns: the noise ordinance aimed at bars and restaurants, and the hiring of a new bilingual code inspector to deal with overcrowded rental housing.


Last week, the borough council announced the hiring of Eddie Araujo, an experienced code enforcement officer who worked most recently in Lakewood. Araujo’s hiring is to complement the work of fire inspector and code enforcement officer Frank E. Woods and the more targeted efforts of part-time inspector Jimmy Walker, who was brought on in January to address trash-and-junk issues.

From the Press, quoting Mayor Pasquale Menna:

In addition to enforcement, the new full-time inspector [Araujo] also will educate people about their responsibilities and that code enforcement officials are there to help them, he said.

“He’s bringing the message to people that code enforcement is for their own protection to make sure they’re not being taken advantage of by unscrupulous landlords,” Menna said. “It’s working out tremendously well.”

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OK, let’s get right to it: How could she not have known?

“I didn’t have time to listen to rumors,” Dina Matos McGreevey told redbankgreen last night, shortly before she took the floor at a posh dinner event in her name at the Molly Pitcher Inn.

She had a busy job, she had a new baby. “Also, I wasn’t looking for it,” she said. “There was nothing in our private life that indicated he was homosexual.”

For more on that enticing tidbit, check out the early pages of her recently published memoir, in which she writes — cryptically, and just to “get it out of the way” — that “the sex was good.”

Anyway, in cases of infidelity, “the wife or husband is always the last to know,” she said.

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In what could be the start of a long process, Best Liquors’ owner Sunny Sharma has begun appealing his case to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control division in an effort to block the borough of Red Bank from permanently yanking his liquor license.

Last night, in a session that took less than 10 minutes, the council unanimously passed two resolutions: one to revoke the store’s retail distribution license, and the second, to deny renewal when its two-year term ends at midnight tomorrow.

Last week, the council found Sharma guilty of seven charges, five of which alleged sales to underaged persons.

Those sales were the tipping point that prompted Councilwoman Grace Cangemi to be part of the unanimous revocation vote, she said last night.

“It was too many sales to minors,” she said.

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