IN oRBit: HEDDA, THE DOLLS & BOSS PIX

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The things we do on Saturday night are often best not viewed by light of day — but fortunately, Mike Black didn’t get that memo. The ace photographer has shared with us his amazing series of images (featuring guest star Bruce Springsteen, Joe Grushecky, Eddie Kowalczyk and a Soprano or two) from last Saturday’s Light of Day concert in Asbury Park — and you’ll find them EXCLUSIVELY in today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit.

But talk about a harsh morning-after: if you’re that trio of tragic heroines from Jacqueline Susann‘s Valley of the Dolls, you’ve just downed a Crayola-box of pills, broken every TV taboo of the MadMen era and been through more wig-pulling, gutter-meltdown crash ‘n burns than a season’s worth of cable clip shows. But the biggest indignity is yet to come, as the one and only Queen of Green Hedda Lettuce returns this Saturday to screen the 1967 camp classic that starred Patty Duke, Barbara Parkins and the genuinely tragic Sharon Tate.

The famed drag performer and comic chanteuse (who always manages to remain one crisply dressed salad no matter what night or morning it may be) will be shredding the film with a live custom narration, interactive skits and much more — and we’ve got the exclusive commentary track from La Lettuce herself, ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!

RIVER’S EDGE SEEKS RETURN TO COZINESS

bob-guidoRiver’s Edge Café owner Bob Guido says he’s been trying to sell the lease to his Broad Street location for about a year so he can move into a smaller space. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For more than a decade, Bob Guido had himself a cozy little business serving breakfast and lunch on Red Bank’s West Front Street, often with lines forming out the door.

But after 13 years running the River’s Edge Café in the spot now occupied by Muscle Maker Grille, it became clear to Guido that he needed more space than the 50-seater afforded him. One option was to buy the Elks Lodge next door, but that didn’t work out, which led him to where he is now, at the spacious, high-profile restaurant at 35 Broad Street.

“In 2003, everything was humming,” he said. “We used to have a line at the old place. I saw Broad Street as an answer to expansion.”

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SWINDLED INVESTORS TO GET $5.15 MILLION

hot-topic rightCustomers of a penny-stock boiler room that operated out of an office on Half Mile Road in Lincroft will share in $5.15 million obtained by authorities from stock swindler Robert E. Brennan, according to a report today from NorthJersey.com.

The defunct firm, L.C. Wegard & Co., was a legitimate stock brokerage before Brennan secretly took it over in the early 1990s. But like First Jersey Securities, a firm whose ubiquitous commercials made Brennan famous in the 1970s and ’80s, Wegard became a high-pressure sales operation peddling stocks that Brennan secretly controlled.

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TINY BODEGA/RESTAURANT GETS BIG PLUG

lachaparrita_01If it seems that La Chaparrita on Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank is getting more traffic these days, it could be proof of the power of the plug.

The tiny bodega was featured in Sunday’s New York Times. But not for its fresh fruit and Pinguinos packaged cupcakes.

Turns out the shop has a busy little kitchen turning out “fresh Mexican comfort food” that attracted writer Kelly Feeney’s attention.

Here’s a taste:

The taco platter is an order of three with a choice of chicken, beef or goat meat, among other options ($7). (Platters include a side of rice and beans.) The chicken burrito ($8) was surprisingly light, simply filled with marinated chicken tossed with fresh cilantro and onion; it is topped with a little cheese and comes with chili sauce on the side. The quesadilla al pastor containing spicy pork and pineapple is heftier ($8), as is the huarache, a deep-fried tortilla covered with chorizo, cheese, avocado, lettuce and tomato ($6; other fillings available).

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HOODIE ROBBER RECAPTURED AFTER ESCAPE

call-in-the-authoritiesA man alleged to have robbed a string of local banks while wearing a hoodie in recent weeks escaped from police custody yesterday, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Twenty-five-year old Long Branch resident Cristiano DeSouza-Pessoa slipped out of Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch at about noon and was recaptured about five hours later in Kearney, the Press reports.

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IN oRBit: EDDIE AND THE PROFESSOR

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joncaspismall1We’re not outright suggesting that audiences prefer their rock and pop performers to play dumb, but if you’re Jon Caspi (left) — college professor and expert in his field by day; aspiring singer and songwriter nights and weekends — you do what you can to keep those aspects of your existence separate but equal. And yet, as we find out in today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit, the good doctor’s particular area of scholarship informs his songwriting in a way that’s found its most compelling outlet in Eddie Knows!, the “rock novel” that he released independently last year.

In a 2009 appearance at the Red Bank Public Library, the Holmdel resident previewed the story-songs from the CD in a way that caught the attention of Mike Sodano — avowed Caspi-an and co-owner of The Showroom, the Asbury Park screening space that we’ve regularly praised for its continuing adventures outside the Jujyfruit-box of what a movie house could and should be. This Saturday, Caspi and the Showroom partners present the world premiere of a live multimedia theatrical experience adapted from Eddie Knows! — an experience that’s managed to sell out both of its scheduled performances.

Undaunted, we pay a visit to the prof to find out more about the evolving project, and you’ll find the deep details on the double life of Dr. C — ONLY in Red Bank oRBit!

BLOTTER: CLOTHING DONATION BOXES RAIDED

rbpd2 spotlightCrime reports provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the week of January 8 to January 15, 2010. This information appears here unedited.

Theft occurring on 1-7-10 at Broad St.-Pharmacy. Victim reported that she placed a wallet on counter when looking at something , returned and wallet was missing. Described as a black Coach Wristlet wallet containing cash, and credit cards. Ptl. Paul Perez.

Theft reported on 1-10-10 at Marion Street residence. Victim reported unknown person(s) stole three items from residence, that being a white gold ring with several diamonds, a Tiffany silver bracelet and an IPOD-Nano. Ptl. Michael Campanella.

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PAIR ARRESTED FOR HOODIE BANK JOBS

call-in-the-authoritiesThe Asbury Park Press reported Friday that two Long Branch men were arrested and charged for their alleged roles in a string of recent bank robberies featuring a hoodie-wearing thief.

Targets included financial institutions in Red Bank, Middletown, Eatontown and Rahway.

Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw told the Press that Christiano DeSouza-Pessoa, 25, is charged with four counts of second-degree robbery for the in-county robberies.  Read More »

IN oRBit: TWO ON THE AISLE @ TWO RIVER

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Ever since we launched our satellite site for all things locally cultural, Red Bank oRBit has brought you the bar-none best coverage of the Two River Theater and all who sail with it — not just the mainstage productions from the borough-based professional troupes Two River Theater Company, but the many “guest events” and interesting characters (Springsteen and BonJo; Philip Seymour Hoffman and Alec Baldwin; Robert Wagner and Kevin Smith) who’ve passed this way through town.

This weekend brings two more special guests to the 2RT stage — starting with national headliner funnyman Mike Marino, who performs on Friday in a Laugh Out Loud comedy event dedicated to the benefit of the Monmouth County nonprofit 180 – Turning Lives Around. Then on Saturday, it’s a night of spiritual songs featuring Joshua Nelson (above), the one-of-a-kind, Oprah-approved Next Big Thing who puts his own soulful gospel spin on traditional Jewish music.

We’ve got the particulars, along with some helpful reminders of what’s going up onstage on Bridge Avenue in the weeks to come, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

TWO COP PLEAS IN LOCUST AVE. MURDERS

SuspectsSamson Theodore ‘Freedom’ Hearn, center, and Eric Joel ‘Pun’ Figueras, right, have agreed to testify at the trial of alleged gunman Antonio  ‘Mingo’ Suarez-Perez, left.

Two of the three men charged in last February’s double slaying on Locust Avenue in Red Bank have agreed to testify against the alleged shooter, according to a report published by the Asbury Park Press on Friday.

Borough resident Eric Joel ‘Pun’ Figueras and Fair Haven’s Samson Theodore Hearn, nicknamed ‘Freedom,’ have already entered guilty pleas to a charge of hindering apprehension, Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw tells the newspaper.

They face up to five years in prison, and are expected to be sentenced after the trial of Antonio Suarez-Perez, nicknamed ‘Mingo,’ who authorities say brutally shot two men in an attempt to steal cocaine at about 1:35a February 10. Read More »

WEST SIDERS GETTING SOME OVERDUE TLC

danny-murphyDanny Murphy, outside his Bridge Avenue restaurant, is leading an effort to boost the Arts & Antiques District’s profile.

For years, a cluster of businesses west of Red Bank’s downtown has felt like a neglected stepchild.

That was supposed to change with the inclusion three years ago of a portion of the West Side in the special improvement district managed by Red Bank RiverCenter, the quasi-governmental entity that collects a tax on commercial properties and uses the money to spruce up and market the covered area.

The love has been slow to materialize, though. So business owners led by longtime restaurateur and nostalgia maven Danny Murphy have banded together to do the squeaky-wheel thing. And already, they’re starting to get some grease.

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RED BANK ARTS ON TAP FOR STATE AWARDS

two-river-theater-extAmong the candidates for ‘best professional theater’ is the Two River Theater.

Several mainstays of Red Bank’s celebrated arts venues and entertainment scene, including two whose future ties to town are uncertain, are up for the Discover Jersey Arts People’s Choice Awards for 2009.

The Two River Theater CompanyCount Basie Theater and the Borough of Red Bank are all nominated. So is the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival, which may not happen at its usual spot in Marine Park this June due to major construction there.

Also on the ballot is the capricious Red Bank International Film Festival, which went on hiatus for 2008 and popped up again last May, shrunken and no longer actually in Red Bank.

But those whose box offices still buzz within the borough borders are imploring anyone with a mouse and internet connection to support their local arts scene as it competes against the state’s other nominees.

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RUG MAN: HE’S LEAVING, BUT ALSO STAYING

12-broad4Get the message? But while the rug store is closing, its owner is putting down roots: he bought the building.

By WID CONROY

When a request by Nazmiyal Rug Decor for an extension on its going-out-of-business sale came up at last Monday night’s Red Bank Council meeting, the answer was unequivocal: No.

There was not one second’s worth of public discussion about the request, which would have permitted Nazmiyal to continue displaying its oversized signs in the window of its Broad Street store for another 90 days. But the message was clear. “You’re leaving? Go, already.”

“They got what they’re entitled to,” Mayor Pasquale Menna told redbankgreen afterward. He said other merchants had complained about the “subliminal message” of failure being trumpeted by the bold red-and-white signs.

“Most of our retailers are doing a very difficult job in a very difficult environment,” Menna said. “They don’t need that.”

So it may seem ironic that the store’s owner, while he’s throwing in the towel on his own business, is still a true believer in the downtown’s potential.

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NICE, WHILE IT LASTS…

img_6904011310-ice-naves001Fiona Abrahamsen takes to the river on foot for the first time outside the Monmouth Boat Club, along with her husband, Harry, and children Connor and Cordelia. (Click to enlarge)

“This is AWEsome!”

So proclaimed Fiona Abrahamsen of Rumson as she walked on the Navesink River for the first time ever yesterday afternoon.

Of course, the surface of the river was quite hard, giving Abrahamsen and her family, as well as a smattering of ice boaters, firm support.

But the ice may soon vanish.

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IN oRBit: WINE ‘N CHEESE IN WINTER

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The unofficial art walk is back — and baby, it’s cold outside — but over at Red Bank oRBit, we’ve got enough virtual wine and cheese to warm whatever cockles haven’t turned deep purple and broken off by now.

In today’s edition, we look in on a local institution that most folks tend to speed by on its stretch of converted cowpath — but at fifty years and closing in on 500 members, Shrewsbury’s Guild of Creative Art is scarcely a secret, best-kept or otherwise. With its latest show Edgy to Avant Garde, New Jersey’s largest artist cooperative is turning the corner on the next half century in surprising style.

We’ll also remind you about two big events opening this weekend at the Monmouth Museum: the 31st annual Monmouth County Arts Council Juried Exhibition, and the fourth appearance of an offering that’s brought out the best in all concerned — Chairish The Museum, the fundraiser auction in which dozens of creative local people (including Queen Latifah, seen at work on a piece for last year’s event) build and/or hand-decorate some pretty splendid seating. We’ll pull up the details, including which famous folk participated in this year’s round of whimsical chairs.

All this and more — whether currently hanging from the walls or going up soon — from galleries, restaurants and libraries near you. So bid on it, sit on it, just git on it, and we’ll be here to show you around, in Red Bank oRBit!

A ‘WHITE ELEPHANT’ NO MORE

rb-corporate-plazaRed Bank Corporate Plaza, showing off its backside along Wall Street. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Four months ago, when redbankgreen first reported on the impending pizza renaissance in Red Bank, we described the slated location of one of those pie joints, Pazzo’s Coal Fired Oven Restaurant, as a nearly-empty “white elephant.”

Boy, did we get an earful. Suzanne Macnow, who brokers the leases for  Red Bank Corporate Plaza at 141 West Front Street, took issue with the characterization, citing actual occupancy, signed leases and others that were nearing signature.

Whether our terminology was apt then was a matter of disagreement. No more. Today, we’re eating our words as if they were served atop an airy, coal-fired pizza crust.

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A NICE AFTERNOON ON ICE

navesink-ice1Avid ice men Rick Pier, left, and Peter Wright prep Wright’s ice boat Tuesday afternoon for a little  frolicking on the frozen Navesink River in Red Bank. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Days like these don’t come around often, when you can get up close and personal with the Navesink River. On foot.

About a dozen bundled men, and a dog, took advantage of the recent cold weather’s effect on the Navesink and took a stroll out on the river Tuesday afternoon off the pier at Monmouth Boat Club and the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club.

“This is great. I’ve been looking forward to this,” said Peter Wright, who was spraying WD-40 on his 1930s-design ice boat in preps for an afternoon race with some fellow revelers. There’s a makeshift course just beyond the dock, he said.

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COUNCIL NIXES CALL FOR TAXPAYER SUMMIT

img_6886011110Councilman Mike DuPont, left, addresses his opponent in last year’s election, Kim Senkeleski, as Councilman Ed Zipprich listens. (Click to enlarge)

A proposal by 2009 Republican council candidate Kim Senkeleski for a “taxpayer’s summit” to gather direct citizen input on the Red Bank budget failed to find any support last night from members of the all-Democrat borough council.

They say there already is such an event held annually as the budget is being developed.

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McCARTHY TAKES COMMAND AT RBPD

mccarthy-fitzgerald-murphyChief Steve McCarthy shortly before his swearing in Monday night with his immediate predecessor, Mark Fitzgerald, left, and Councilman Art Murphy. (Click to enlarge)

An overflow crowd packed Red Bank’s council chambers Monday night for the official designation of former police detective Steve McCarthy as chief of the borough’s 41-officer police department.

Amid accolades about his heart and his smarts, the 46-year-old son of a career Jersey City officer was sworn into his post by a former colleague at the Monmouth Prosecutor’s office, Superior Court Judge Anthony Mellaci Jr., whose family is connected by marriage to McCarthy’s.

“He always had what it takes to be chief,” Mellaci told reporters shortly before the ceremony. “He’s very organized, very professional.”

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IN oRBit: CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE

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It might not feel that way, but we’re slowly and surely creeping our way out of the longest, darkest days of the year by milliseconds — and each year around this time, Shore music fans like to celebrate with a little thing called the Light of Day concert.

Actually, as we explain in today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit, the Shore-born concert now in its tenth year — a stars-and-stalwarts benefit for promoter Bob Benjamin‘s ongoing efforts to aid Parkinson’s Disease research — has arrived a couple of months later than usual, due to the fact that it’s grown into an international phenomenon. The 2009-2010 tour crisscrossed Europe in December, and this weekend it returns to its Asbury Park roots (with a prehistory that traces back to Red Bank’s old Downtown Cafe) with no less than six separate events, featuring nearly 60 different acts performing at a half dozen venues.

Named after an otherwise forgotten 1987 movie, the series has also drawn the onstage participation of a stellar cast topped by that film’s songwriter (Bruce Springsteen) and star (Michael J. Fox). This year’s Saturday night main event is toplined by LIVE frontman (and Andre Agassi lookalike) Ed Kowalczyk (above) in one of his first solo apperances, with LOD linchpin Joe Grushecky, John Eddie, Nicole Atkins, Jay Weinberg and circus superstar Bello Nock among the weekend’s wonders.

We’ll bring you words from Glen Burtnik and other members of the Light Brigade, along with the updated schedule details and more pertinent links than a Parks Sausage factory, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

HOODIE HOOD HITS RED BANK… BANK

authorities3A hoodie-wearing bank robber believed to have struck financial institutions in Eatontown and Middletown in the past week is now being sought by police in Red Bank following a midday heist Monday.

Police say a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sunglasses robbed Wachovia bank branch at Broad Street and East Bergen Place at about 1:30p.

He did not display a weapon, said Red Bank police Captain Darren McConnell. The robber fled with an undisclosed sum.

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