RUMSON: NEW JERSEY’S BEST BAR?

Among the watering holes featured as NJ.com, the website of the Star-Ledger, searches for New Jersey’s Best Bars is Murphy’s Tavern, the Prohibition-era speakeasy hidden in the basement of a Rumson house. Heather Racioppi, who bought the place with fellow Red Bank bartender Robb McMahon in 2005, give NJ.com’s roving reporter Pete Genovese the history. His story is here. (Video courtesy of NJ.com.)

RED BANK: PREMATURE ON PAID PARKING?

bridge ave 012915Visitors to Bridge Avenue shops, above, and the western stretch of Monmouth Street may soon have to pay to park. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03After the Red Bank borough council passed a resolution last month authorizing the purchase of pay stations for parking along Monmouth Street and Bridge Avenue, redbankgreen asked: Why? Parking is free there.

No ordinance amendment had ever been passed or even introduced allowing the town to charge for parking outside the central business district. There had been no public debate on whether it should even happen.

That’s all coming, says business Administrator Stanley Sickels.

So why spend $135,308 for 13 kiosks that haven’t been authorized?

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RED BANK’S FORTUNE PROJECT SPEAKS

TTF houseThe nonprofit that’s working to save the former home of T. Thomas Fortune hosts readings from the words of the pioneering African-American journalist, with events in Middletown, Red Bank, Shrewsbury and elsewhere.

T. Thomas FortuneAs part of Black History Month and the National African-American Read-In, the not-for-profit T. Thomas Fortune House Project will host a series of readings from the works of the pioneering civil rights journalist – and onetime resident of Red Bank – T. Thomas Fortune.

Entitled “The People Speak: the Words of T. Thomas Fortune, ” the series includes public-welcome events at Middletown Township Public Library and Monmouth County Library Eastern Branch, in addition to a student-faculty fundraiser at Red Bank Middle School.

It’s the latest in an ongoing program designed to raise funds and awareness toward the effort to acquire, stabilize and restore the T. Thomas Fortune House, the National Historic Landmark at 94 Drs. James Parker Boulevard where the editor, publisher, poet, author and early civil rights activist resided from 1901-1908.

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RED BANK: MINUTES IN HISTORY

rb records 021115 2rb records 021115 1Workers from the digital archiving company DRS Group roll up old plats on the floor of the planning and zoning office in Red Bank Wednesday afternoon for transfer to a scanning facility in Springfield. At right, Ricardo Peetes rides down in the elevator at borough hall with a palette load of documents.

As part of a digitization project, the minutes of planning and zoning board applications dating back to 1929 – minus a decade’s worth from the 1950s that are believed to have been destroyed in a fire – are being scanned and transferred to both digital files and microfilm, says office director Donna Smith-Barr. Once that’s complete, the borough will apply to the state for permission to destroy the hundreds of site plans, architects’ renderings and other large pieces used as evidence in hearings, she said. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: WHOLE LOTTA LOVE AT THE BASIE

BillyOceanShirleyEighties Brit hitmaker Billy Ocean and ’60s girl-group great Shirley Alston Reeves are among the faces of musical romance taking to the Count Basie stage in the Valentine nights to come. 

Even as the leprechauns and Peeps threaten to drive Valentine’s Day’s candy kisses from the seasonal aisles, Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre is gearing up for an extended holiday weekend of V-day vibrations: sounds that resonate from the school dances of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s to the snapchat here and now.

It all begins this Friday, with the Red Bank debut of a familiar face and voice from the golden age of MTV — Billy Ocean, whose 1980s hits range from “Caribbean Queen” and “Loverboy” to “Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car” and the Jewel of the Nile soundtrack standout “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going.”

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ON THE GREEN: EAT YOUR HEART OUT, LOVER

021015 carlos bakery heartCarrie Zensinger shows off one of the several heart-shaped cakes available at Carlo’s Bakery in Red Bank, above. ArtSea Gallery in Sea Bright carries chocolate Kewpie dolls, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020715 artsea chocolate cupidWith the approach of Valentines Day, the heart swells – especially for those foodies who like their treats in the shape of a heart.

And there are plenty to set culinary hearts a-flutter, as PieHole discovered earlier this week on a tour of the Greater Red Bank Green in search of heart-shaped foods and desserts.

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SEA BRIGHT: PLAN FOR SCHOOL’S NOT COOL

sb school 021015 2Vacant since 1978, the old Sea Bright School, below, would be refashioned into a 12-unit apartment building, as shown in the rendering above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

sb school 011614 2Eight years after winning approval to turn Sea Bright’s long-abandoned former schoolhouse into 13 condos, a developer ran into resistance with proposed changes to the plan Tuesday night.

Aldo Frustaci, who paid $100,000 for the River Street structure in 1996, will go back to the drawing board again, his lawyer said, after the planning board raised questions about a proposed flat roof and other aspects of the proposal – including the aesthetics.

“This just looks like an ugly box,” board vice chairman Dave Deseo told the architect, Darius Toraby.

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RED BANK BOXER RANKED 4th IN NATION

PhotoGrid_1420860673732Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

Saleem Kelly of Red Bank recently returned from Nevada, where the competed in the 2015 USA Boxing Junior Open and Youth National Championships in Reno. The Red Bank Regional High School Junior finished third in the tournament, and is currently ranked number four in the nation for his age and weight category.

He qualified for the nationals after winning the New Jersey state title with a perfect record, winning both the New Jersey Golden Gloves and Diamond Gloves for his weight category. He went to the nationals with a perfect state record; his current lifetime fight record now stands at 15 – 1, his only loss being his semifinalist finish in the national tournament.

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RFH: SOURLIS, STANT MARK MILESTONES

Rumson-Fair Haven girls basketball coach George Sourlis became the Shore Conference’s all-time winningest coach Tuesday in a game that also saw Villanova-bound senior Grace Stant score her 1,000th career point. The 66-23 road win over Raritan was victory number 626 for Sourlis, who’s coached the Lady Bulldogs for 29 years, and moved his total past that of legendary CBA boys basketball coach Ed Wicelinski. Both milestones were celebrated on the hardwood, and Shore Sports Zone was there to capture it all.

STEWART RIPS MEDIA’S WILLIAMS REAX

On Monday night’s edition of the Daily Show, Red Banker Jon Stewart weighed in on the controversy over NBC News anchor Brian Williams, whose embellished account of an incident early in the Iraq war has drawn widespread media scrutiny. Stewart did not comment directly on a claim by Williams, a former Middletown resident, of having once been robbed at gunpoint in Red Bank, which he made to Stewart himself onstage at a Count Basie Theatre fundraiser in December, 2012. (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: HIGH SCHOOL THESPIANS OF OLD

  rbhs theater 020615 4rbhs theater 020615 3Now playing in the lobby display case at Red Bank borough hall: photos of Red Bank High School thespians, believed to have been taken in the 1950s.

The exhibit, the latest in a series of works by RBHS photography teacher Anthony Trufolo, was assembled by volunteers from the public library, and spotlights kids in rehearsal, getting ready backstage and hitting their marks at showtime.

We’ve got lots more after the ‘read more.’ Do you know any of these folks? (Photos of photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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RBR’S NAVITSKY IN SECONDARY ROLE

As quarterback, Red Bank Regional’s Jack Navitsky was a center of attention on the gridiron this past season. On the hardcourt, though, he’s more of a role player, focused on defense, and a big reason that RBR is one of the deepest and most dangerous teams in the Shore Conference. Navitsky talks to Shore Sports Zone about his roles.

ANATHEMA SPELLS VICTORY FOR RUMSON TEEN

SageEighth-grader Sage Basri of Rumson spelled the word “anathema” correctly to claim victory in the Forrestdale School Spelling Bee.

Press release from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School

Sage Basri, an eighth-grader at Forrestdale School in Rumson, has been announced as the winner of the annual School Spelling Bee. The 13 year old daughter of Nancy and Bill Basri will move on to the Regional Spelldown competition, to be held March 16 and 17 at Monmouth University in West Long Branch.

The Spelling Bee took place in the school’s gymnasium on Friday, January 30, with students and teachers as well as the families of participants in attendance. Approximately 30 students in fourth through eighth grade were selected to take part in the Spelling Bee, based on the results of grade-level competitions held prior to the school-wide event.

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HOCKEY: RFH TOPS ST. ROSE, 8-6

John Monteferrante scored four goals to give Rumson-Fair Haven an 8-6 win over Saint Rose at the Red Bank Armory Monday. The Bulldogs scored three goals in the final 1:32 to put the game away. Shore Sports Zone has the video highlights.

RFH is the 16th seed in the Shore Conference Hockey Tournament and will face number-one seed Red Bank Catholic Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Armory. Tourney matchups are here.

RED BANK: ‘ROOM’ FOR SOMETHING NEW @TRTC

Tony MenesesPlaywright Tony Meneses is the author of GUADALUPE IN THE GUEST ROOM, the comedy-drama that makes its world premiere on the stage of Two River Theater, beginning in previews this weekend.

A love story of an altogether different sort makes its bow on Valentine’s Day in Red Bank, courtesy of Two River Theater Company.

Written by Guadalajara-born/ Brooklyn-based playwright Tony Meneses, Guadalupe in the Guest Room is a tale of “two people with nothing in common but a shared grief” that’s described as “a deeply moving and very funny celebration of life, new beginnings, and the healing power of telenovelas.” Directed by Daniella Topol (last season’s Wind in the Willows Christmas), it’s a study in what happens when middle-aged Mexican woman Guadalupe (Broadway, stage and TV veteran Socorro Santiago) comes to stay with Steve (Charles Socarides), the American husband of her recently and suddenly deceased daughter — a scenario filtered through the emotional hyperreality of Spanish language TV soap operas.

the Drama Desk at redbankgreen caught up with Tony Meneses as Tech Week loomed and the first curtain neared.

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QUENCH: AN OLD-FASHIONED AT SALT CREEK

020115 saltcreek habel3An Old-Fashioned at Rumson’s Salt Creek Grille, above. Below, Rob Habel muddles fruit for the cocktail.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020115 saltcreek habel2Blended to shades of cherry red and bright orange, an Old-Fashioned made by Rob Habel at Rumson’s Salt Creek Grille reminds PieHole of the stunning sunsets you might see over the Navesink River just out the window.

“My grandfather showed me the classics,” says Habel, 33, the newly appointed beverage manager at the riverfront favorite. “I love old-fashioned drinks, and might bring back some of the old school.”

His favorite “old-fashioned” cocktail to make? An Old-Fashioned.

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RED BANK: WILLIAMS’ MUGGING STORY A LIE?

williams stewart 2 121612NBC News anchor Brian Williams, left, onstage with comedian Jon Stewart at the Count Basie Theatre in December, 2012. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Was news anchor Brian Williams robbed at gunpoint while selling Christmas trees in Red Bank in the late 1970s?

The big-money network newsman, who’s in hot water for claiming he was in a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire in Iraq a dozen years ago, claims that he was mugged one night at what’s now known as Veterans Park, at the junction of West Front Street and Riverside Avenue.

But some area residents think the story is bunk, according to a report by the New York Post Saturday.

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RUMSON-FAIR HAVEN ATHLETES SIGN UP

RFH signingFour student-athletes from  Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School “made it official” by signing their Letters of Intent to participate in college football and soccer programs on National Signing Day, February 4. Pictured left to right are Charlie Volker (Princeton University Football), Grant Rataski (Bryant University Football), Meagan McGurl (Lafayette College Women’s Soccer) and Sam Eisenstadt (Elon University Football). Volker is one of four Shore Conference athletes who will play football in the Ivy League.

LITTLE SILVER: RBR STUDENTS GOT BRAINS

ugotbrainsRed Bank Regional Interactive Media students and faculty teaming up to bring awareness to the dangers of distracted driving include (back row): RBR Student Assistance Counselor Lori Todd, Mike LoBasso, Justin Delaney, Tim Mills, Josh Bruce, Joel Sibrian, Joe Malley, Matt Suszka, Ryan Toriello; (front row): Aria Huntley, School Resource Officer Rob Chenoweth, Nicole Delany, Nikki Lauro, Haley Watson, Eric Banal, RBR Interactive Media Teacher Carl Grillo.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

TV production students in Mr. Carl Grillo’s Interactive Media class at Red Bank Regional High School have adopted a mission to bring awareness to their peers on the dangers of distracted driving. Late last year, the students entered a competition conducted by the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey (BIANJ) and UGotBrains.com. RBR is one of 59 schools in New Jersey participating in the program, and the three finalists in the competition will win a driving simulator for their high school.

Mr. Grillo’s students produced a video in conjunction with the school’s Project Prom activity. The video propelled the RBR team to the second round of the U Got Brains competition, and can be viewed on YouTube here.

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RED BANK: HOT AND/OR GRUMPY COMICS

craig adamCraig Ferguson returns to the Count Basie on Monday night — while Adam Mamawala is Tuesday’s featured performer for this month’s edition of Laugh at Lunch, on campus at Brookdale.  (Ferguson photo by Michael Becker)

One’s a young Jerseyan whose comedy often revolves around his family’s South Asian heritage, and the culture clashes that tend to work their way between the generations. The other’s a Scottish-born veteran whose apparent inability to fully comprehend the American experience (this despite many years as a fixture on our TV screens) forms the delightful basis of his standup craft. Considered together, they’re an evening out/ morning after study in comic contrasts.

While he may have just ended his decade-long run as host of CBS’s Late Late Show — a Peabody Award-winning bully pulpit in which he took the art of the chatfest monologue to places it may never be taken again — Craig Ferguson remains highly visible on the syndicated game show Celebrity Name Game, a fitting forum for his absurdist adlibs and “outsider” brand of humor. He’s also making his presence felt on the theater standup circuit once more — and on Monday, February 9, the actor, screenwriter, filmmaker, novelist (and onetime presenter of a UK archaeology series) returns to the Count Basie Theatre for a whistlestop on his “Hot and Grumpy” Tour. It’s a 7:30 pm showtime, for which tickets ($25 – $95) can be reserved right here.

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RED BANK: YOUNG MAN’S WINTER

Rinando AvaglianoLucian Rinando conducts — and Michael Avagliano is guest soloist — when the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra invokes dreams of Winter on the Basie stage, this Sunday afternoon.

Once each year, the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra‘s principal conductor Roy D. Gussman turns over the baton to associate conductor Lucian Rinando, for a concert program curated by the MSO flautist (and expert in all things having to do with the technique, history and crafting of his instrument) especially for the Red Bank audience. Here in the borough-based Orchestra’s 67th season — and in a month keynoted by Punxsatawney Phil’s dire prediction of continued winter weather — Rinando and company put forth a rather daring ode to the peculiar beauty of “Winter Dreams,” with a performance of that first symphony from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH: A TEA ROOM WITH CHOPS

012915 raven tea room sandwichesA beef tenderloin BLT sandwich in the foreground, and the shrimp salad-filled brioche in background at the Raven Tea Room, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

012915 raven tea roomThe phrase “tea room” conjures images of prissy old ladies ordering pots of chamomille and delicate, crust-removed cucumber sandwiches served on fine floral patterned porcelain dishes. The Raven Tea Room in the Fair Haven Commons building is nothing like that.

Sophisticated styling in both the decor and menu have made this lunch-only restaurant – which shares a website and ownership with the Raven and the Peach but has its own space in the Fair Haven Commons – a staple in the community for years. The dark wood tables and comfortable cushioned armchairs surrounded by suede gray painted walls give the place a masculine, club-like feel. Windows looking out on River Road lend an open feeling to the room. But should you wind up with a view of the parking lot, well, just turn your chair toward the open kitchen and watch the chef working his magic.

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MIDDLETOWN: THESE MAGIC MOMENTS

billy brownBllly Brown joins the Duprees for an afternoon of classic doowop and soul at the Middletown Arts Center. (Photo by Marian Cicarele, courtesy of ClassicUrbanHarmony.net)

Valentine’s Day isn’t until next Saturday, but February 8 might be declared “Valentine’s Sunday” by virtue of it being the date for a special matinee concert at the Middletown Arts Center, one that puts an intriguingly local spin on some of the most romantic records of the 1960s and 70s.

Running from 2 to 4 pm, the concert stars a set of Garden State favorites with a multi-generational fanbase: Jersey City’s own Duprees (“My Own True Love,” “Have You Heard” and the sublime “You Belong to Me”) paired with a Jersey Shore guy whose smooth brand of vocal soul took him to the top of the pops, years before the Boss ever set his hungry heart on the Billboard charts.

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RBC FALLS TO COLTS NECK

Colts Neck came back from a 12-point second-quarter deficit to beat Red Bank Catholic and complete a season sweep of the Caseys in Red Bank Thursday. Shore Sports Zone has the video highlights.

RED BANK: MINK & HANDBAG STOLEN

AUTHORITIES_RB2-2014The crime and arrest reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the period of January 29 to February 5, 2015. This information is unedited.

CRIMES

Report of Criminal Mischief occurring on 1-30-15 at Newman Spring Rd. residence. Victim reported that unknown person(s) broke a window. Ptl. Michael Zadlock.

Shoplifting occurring on 1-31-15 at clothing store on Broad St. Owner reported that three unknown subject(s), two males and one female entered the store, shopped around and then exited setting off the security alarm. Subjects fled and were unable to be found. Stolen was a mink coat and a Louis Vuitton handbag. Ptl. Michael Zadlock.

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