SHOFAR SO FUN: ALL INVITED TO TOOT

shofar-playersThe new rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel says the ponderous Jewish holidays could use some levity. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Jewish holiday season just isn’t as much fun for Rabbi Yerachmiel Shapiro unless he’s watching faces transform from pale to patina while blowing into the horns of a dangerous wild animal.

Shapiro, who took over at Congregation Beth Shalom on Maple Avenue in Red Bank last year, has injected his idea of mirth in between the Jewish holidays Rosh Hashana, which was last Friday, and Yom Kippur, which is Sunday.

To break up the austerity of the holidays’ introspective and atoning nature, Shapiro has put his twist on an old Jewish tradition called Shofar blowing: he’s made a contest of it.

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IN oRBit: GLORY DAYS IN THE LECTURE HALL

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Today’s the Boss’s birthday, and over at Monmouth University, organizers are putting the final touches on a special four-day, multi-venue event known as Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium. It’s a giant Hallmark card of appreciation to the Jersey Shore’s fave son — one signed by dozens of leading lords of academia, cultural arbiters, music historians, political pundits, medical professionals and more.

Organized by Virginia Tech and hosted by Monmouth U, the Sheraton Eatontown and  The Stone PonyGlory Days assembles a fairly mind-boggling schedule of concerts, walking tours, roundtables, panels, presentations and dreaded scholarly papers — all brought together to honor the landmark 60th birthday of the guest of honor, who may or may not make an appearance, a la the Great Pumpkin.

Red Bank oRBit has our own playful take on this serious symposium, complete with highlights, links to all of the pertinent details — and even a couple of tidbits you’re not likely to encounter anywhere else.

While you’re there, check out our interview with  Marcia Resnick, the legendary photojournalist who’s coming to McKay Imaging Gallery Friday for the opening of Punks, Poets and Politicians, a major retrospective of her work as a chronicler of (and participant in) the great downtown NYC scenes of the 70s and 80s — years exemplified by her iconic shots of Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, John Belushi and more. It’s all here, at the website that broke the big “Born to Run House” story of ’09 — Red Bank oRBit!

BOARD OKs AFFORDABLE HOUSING ZONES

aff-housing-overlayThe overlay zones reflect areas of potential development and redevelopment, borough officials say. (Click to enlarge)

Red Bank moved closer to resolving issues with the state Council on Affordable Housing last night when the borough planning board approved a new overlay zone covering multi-unit residential development.

The new rules require developers who want to build five or more housing units at a density of six units per acre or more to set aside 20 percent of the units for low- and moderate-income buyers, said Mayor Pasquale Menna.

But a map delineating the areas where the rules would apply prompted questions from  Councilwoman and planning board member Sharon Lee, who said she was concerned that the zones were weighted toward the town’s West Side.

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STACK MAY COME DOWN MONDAY

incinerator-smokestackPlans for the demolition of Red Bank’s idle incinerator stack are moving ahead, with work expected to begin as early as Monday,  borough engineer Christine Ballard tells redbankgreen.

In a press release issued today, Ballard says the 100-foot-tall brick smokestack at the western end of Sunset Avenue is part of a hazardous discharge site remediation leading, possibly, to the creation of a park on the 8.5-acre property.

In addition, the receipt of some $511,000 in grants for the takedown and ground testing afterward means that the project can move ahead “without overly burdening taxpayers.”
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PLANNERS OK VEGAN EATERY, DESSERT BIZ

frozsurt-monmouthHome to a newsstand for more than half a century, 6 Broad Street may next see duty as a frozen yogurt shop.

Call it dinner and dessert lite.

The latest additions to the growing roster of businesses planning to open in Red Bank now includes a vegan restaurant focused on the ‘grab and go’ trade and a frozen yogurt shop.

The borough planning board last night quickly approved variances that would allow each to operate in downtown spaces not previously used as food business.
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POLICE BLOTTER

rbpd-patrol-webCrime reports provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of September 11 to September 17, 2009. This information appears here unedited.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 9-11-09 in the area of Leighton Ave. Owner reported that between 9-9-9 and 9-11-09 unknown person(s) broke a basement window of the residence. Ptl. Patrick Kennedy.

Criminal Mischief occurring on 9-12-09 at E. Sunset Ave. Victim reported that parked vehicle had damage done to the driver’s side front and rear doors by unknown subject. Sgt. Robert Kennedy.

Criminal Mischief occurring between 9-11-09 and 9-12-09 at the library on W. Front St. Report of unknown subject(s) broke a window located in rear of building. Ptl. Deron Ilarraza.

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TRIO NABBED IN JEWELRY STORE ROBBERY

authorities3Morris County authorities say they have arrested three men in connection with a series of attempted jewelry store scams throughout New Jersey, including one that ended as an armed robbery in Red Bank in March.

The Daily Record of Morristown reports that police in Kinnelon arrested the trio Saturday after they tried using their signature scam on a jewelry store there.

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ATRIUM LOT PLAN HITS SPEED BUMP

atrium-lot-render2A representative of the Atrium at Navesink holds an artist’s depiction of the proposed lot while residents listen to testimony at last night’s zoning board hearing. (Click to enlarge)

Questions about traffic and pedestrian safety slowed plans for a 98-car valet parking lot to serve the Atrium at Navesink Harbor senior citizen high-rise last night.

Complicating the work of the Red Bank zoning board was its own determination to weigh the plan as though a second, pending proposal — for the addition of six stories to an already approved six-floor annex to the Atrium — did not exist. That plan is expected to land before the board as early as next month.

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FAIR HAVEN GEARS UP FOR BIKE RACE

fh_detour1a1Detour de Tour: Signs on River Road alert motorists to Saturday’s planned shutdown. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As he was driving through Fair Haven last week, Michel Berger got a sense that his brainchild, the Tour de Fair Haven, is going to be a success this weekend.

He was following a young man decked out in a full cyclist ensemble test-driving the weekend’s route on River Road. He caught up and spoke to the rider.

“He said, ‘This is a great route. I’m happy we have a chance to do this around here,'” Berger said. “You could tell he was really getting ready for Sunday.”

That’s when at least 75 bicyclists of all ages and skill levels will be seen zipping through Fair Haven competing in the first Tour de Fair Haven, a dual-purpose event that Berger, a Fair Haven resident from France, dreamt up last year to promote cycling to children.

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IN oRBit: EMBEDDED IN OKLAHOMA!

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forziatiopenshawsmallIn today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit, correspondent Dorothy Creamer goes deep undercover to bring you a unique insiders’ perspective on Oklahoma!, the beloved Rodgers & Hammerstein musical going up this weekend at the Count Basie Theatre in a new revival by the borough-based Phoenix Productions.

Dorothy’s even gone so far as to get herself cast in the role of ever-feisty Aunt Eller — and in a dispatch from the frontier of the stage, she describes her love for the show, her pride in this production (featuring Jennifer Forziati and Sean Openshaw, pictured above), and her respect for the character she describes as “a kind of superhero” who “churns butter regularly for upper body strength.”

Also, be sure to check back into oRBit over the coming days for our picks on what’s doing (and/or do-able) over the weekend…from a free concert of unaccompanied Gaelic vocalizing and a hair-band silver jubilee, to serious suburban biking, extreme mini-golf and what promises to be one rockingly arty birthday party. All this and a little bit more, here in Red Bank oRBit!

ACCIDENT VICTIM DIES

just_inThe 80-year-old woman seriously injured in a two-vehicle collision on Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank yesterday has died.

Mary Spollen, of Middletown, died last night at the trauma center of Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, to which she had been transferred after first being taken to Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank, according to borough police. No other vehicles were involved.

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PRESERVATION GROUP GETS SPOTLIGHT

hpc-washington1Historic Preservation Commission members Ed Zipprich, Michaela Ferrigine and George Bowden outside a old house on Washington Street. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It took a couple of years of legwork and hustle, but the efforts of the Red Bank Historic Preservation Commission paid off in June when the Borough Council passed an ordinance designating the Washington Street District as the borough’s first residential historic zone.

What they’ll receive on behalf of the borough tonight is like, well, the slate roof on a gingerbread Victorian.

Commission chairman George Bowden, Councilman Ed Zipprich and others are scheduled to appear at the Monmouth County Planning Board‘s annual awards ceremony at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel tonight.

They’ll be there to collect a Planning Merit Award, an honor given to towns that the board feels have made significant and positive impacts to their respective communities, said Laura Kirby, assistant planner for the county.

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PRESS: HUSBAND FOUND TEACHER’S BODY

jonelle-meltonThe Monmouth County Prosecutor‘s office is awaiting the results of an autopsy, due as soon as today, before saying anything about the cause of death in the case of Red Bank Middle School teacher Jonelle Melton earlier this week.

Meantime, the Asbury Park Press, citing “sources familiar with” the investigation reports that Melton’s estranged husband, Michael Melton, who is also a teacher at the school, discovered her body in her Neptune City apartment Monday. He’d gone there with the permission of school officials to check on her when she didn’t report for work, the newspaper says.

The Press also quotes an attorney, Ron Venturi, saying that Michael Melton is cooperating with authorities in the investigation by giving DNA samples, and that Melton had nothing to do with his 33-year-old wife’s death.

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IN oRBit: THURSDAY SIGHTS, SUNDAY BITES

noworbiting_icon2 carlymcilvainesmall1 Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit finds us wandering the streets of the downtown and Left Bank biz districts, guided only by the star called Red Bank RiverCenter, as the promotional partnership plots the second in a monthly series of Third Thursday shopping events.

Here in the Jersey Shore’s favorite beach-free destination, it’s a way of “pushing the envelope of the summer season well beyond Mach” — with in-store discounts and dining specials (of which we’ve got the updated details) plus a slate of Street Life-style live entertainment (of which classically trained soprano songthrush Carly McIlvaine, pictured here, is a returning favorite).

Turning the corner, we wind up at Sunday, where RiverCenter and St. James School join forces for the first-ever Taste of Red Bank event. It’s a pay-one-price, self-guided tour through the small-world smorgasbord that is the borough’s culinary streetscape — and we’ve got a full rundown of the 30 participating purveyors of foodstuffs for all you galavanting gourmets.

Finally, we take it down to Asbury town, where the salty old city plays host to not one but two vintage proto-punk bands in the coming nights — the always intriguing New Model Army from the UK, and the forever young Youth Brigade from the LA. There’s even a special screening of the Brigade’s documentary Let Them Know this evening, and you’ll read all about it, provided you’re pointed at Red Bank oRBit!

ON THE AGENDA IN FAIR HAVEN: RATS

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By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Fair Haven’s newest residents aren’t the kind you want to offer a welcoming fruit basket. In fact, the borough government is hoping to run them out of town as soon as possible, with a little help from the county.

Rats have apparently found happy dwellings in two sections of the borough, according to public officials and complaining neighbors. They’ve been spotted on Park Avenue behind the Acme supermarket and in the residential area of McCarter Pond.

Roger Lyman, who lives on Fair Haven Road, said he’s seen the long-tailed critters hanging out around the pond and creeping though the neighborhood.

“I’ve seen them jump up out of that sewer drain and come into our block,” he said. “They’re coming out of that pond, and that’s the source of the problem.”

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ACCIDENT WITH INJURY TIES UP TRAFFIC

091509-crashPolice said the car was crossing Shrewsbury Avenue when it hit the back end of a utility truck. (Click to enlarge)

An 80-year-old Middletown woman was seriously injured this afternoon in a Red Bank crash that backed up traffic in several directions, police said.

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IN oRBit: TWO SIDES OF THE RIVER

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Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit puts the focus on the Two River Theater, that gleaming cathedral of culture that rose up from the warehouses and woodsheds of Red Bank’s West Side a few years back. Beginning tonight and for the next few weeks, it’s where you’ll find the latest play by one of the most acclaimed new voices on the American stage — playwright Quiara Alegria Hudes, co-creator of the Tony-winning Broadway musical smash In the Heights.

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26 Miles is the name of the new Hudes work; a sprawling yet intimate look at how an estranged mother and teenaged daughter re-bond and re-brand their relationship over the course of a road trip that takes them from the Philly suburbs to Yellowstone National Park. We talk with director KJ Sanchez about the twists and turns that got the play from there to here — and we find out just how she intends to show all that drive-by scenery onstage.

Two River Theater is also the setting for a special event on September 27 — a live edition of SModcast, the downloadable program offered up each week by Bayshore-bred Bodhisattva Kevin Smith (above) and his longtime View Askew producer Scott Mosier. The two co-hosts will shoot the sh*t fantastic (it’s also a signing event for the new book Shootin’ the Sh*t with Kevin Smith: Best of the SModcasts), and, as we report, a limited number of half-price tickets are available as we go to post.

All this and more in the days to come — from updates on RiverCenter’s Taste of Red Bank and Third Thursday events, to the return of some former young turks of punk rock, to an insider’s look at the wonder that is Oklahoma! Right here, in Red Bank oRBit.

MAPLE AVENUE LIGHTS STILL DARK

maple-lightsInstallation work is done. Just waiting for the cable guy, er, the utility company. (Click to enlarge)

What’s with the new traffic lights that are supposed to smooth the flow of traffic past the Red Bank bottleneck of Maple Avenue/Route 35, Water, White and West Front Streets?

State Department of Transportation contractors appear to have cleared out after the installation of new traffic signals. But the black plastic covering remains on the lights.

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STREET FAIR WITH FLAIR

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Some scenes from the Street Fair held in downtown Red Bank on Sunday, where shoppers had their pick of wares, services and amusments such as dog adoptions, marinara sauce, landscapers, hair ornaments, Christmas ornaments, fishing rods, reading glasses, lifelike baby dolls, spin art, sand art, a big band with a big sound, masseuses, dogs on leashes, puppet dogs on strings, gyros, pickles, honey, popcorn, candles that look like pies, foot long hot dogs, firemen, more popcorn, pretzels, blouses that look like popcorn, exotic fruitty drinks, old-fashion lemonade, Italian lemon ice and a clown named Rascal. (Click to enlarge)