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Debbie Eisenstein at the Red Bank Artisan Collective earlier this month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

Five years ago, Debbie Eisentein opened the Red Bank Artisan Collective at 43 Broad Street, following her parents into the world of retailing downtown.

Though her family is an owner of the building, Eisenstein said she pays market rent, which is covered by subrents and consignment fees from the artists and craftspeople selling their works in the space.

redbankgreen visited Eisenstein recently for chat that revives the long dormant Human Bites feature.

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Ming Chen, right, talking smod with Michael Zapcic at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash last month.  (Photos by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)


Bites2_SmallAMC’s Comic Book Men, a reality TV show set at Red Bank’s Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash that airs its season finale tonight, features a cast renowned for snide and jaded banter on the world of comic books, movies, and television.

Throughout their playful, occasionally ball-busting discussions conducted online on ‘smodcasts‘ that anchor the show, store employee Ming Chen tends to be the brunt of the jokes due to his laid-back, friendly and unassuming disposition.

Chen, 38, started on his path to comic book heaven in 1996, while attending the University of Michigan. There, he studied everything from economics to organic chemistry, until he found himself skipping class to follow his true passion: web design. Chen says he “fell backwards” into his life as a professional nerd after he created a fan website for Kevin Smith’s movie ‘Clerks,’ which prompted Smith to offer him an internship. Since then, Chen has formed lifelong friendships with Smith and the cast, which includes Bryan Johnson, Michael Zapcic, Walt Flanagan, and “Steve-Dave.” This chemistry, Chen says, is what creates the show’s natural feel.

redbankgreen sat down with Chen, who also hosts the show “Puck Nuts” and is often featured on the podcast “Tell ‘em Steve-Dave,” for an installment of our infrequent Human Bites feature, which focuses on people and their passions.

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At about six feet tall, with his always-on mascara and mop of jet black hair tousled just-ever-so, Blaise Lucarelli was made to stand out in a crowd.

“My parents named me Blaise, so I was destined to be different,” he tells redbankgreen‘s Human Bites.

Different? How? Well, it can hardly be reduced to words. One must experience Blaise, a larger-than-life Red Bank native and aspiring fashionista now working — and, he’s the first to tell you, performing — at Dor L’Dor, a womenswear shop on Broad Street.

On hiatus from the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising to gain experience in the fashion industry, the Red Bank Catholic alum returned to the borough  after taking a couple years to live in New York, where he says he really started to feel comfortable with who he was. While there, he had a beauty mark tattooed next to his right eye.

“My mother always told me, ‘know your audience,’ ” he says. “I’m never going to change who I am, but I can change the level or degree of who I am.”

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humanbites_fairwinds1 Warren Abrahamson with his daughter, Corinne, and some neighborhood clients at Fairwinds Deli in Fair Haven. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Bites1_SmallFor 30 years, Fairwinds Deli has been serving up belly-busting lunches in Fair Haven. By the end of the summer, the aprons and slicers will be boxed up and moved out. But this is nothing to lose your lunch over. Really. Owner Warren Abrahamson is riding a zephyr, not a squall, out of 770 River Road. Abrahamson tells redbankgreen he’s renovating property just a short walk away, at 698 798 River Road, and will open a new and improved Fairwinds Deli.

“It’ll be bigger. It’ll be my own,” said Abrahamson, 46.

In this edition of Human Bites, redbankgreen sits down with Abrahamson, of Middletown, to feed him some questions.

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Goldstein, StewLenny, er, Stew Goldstein of Monmouth Meats.

There are only so many old-style, independent butchers left in Red Bank.

Humanbitesrbg There’s Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz‘ Gatta on Shrewsbury Avenue, of course, working the chopping block for some 60 years. The guys at Citarella’s Meats & Deli on Prospect Avenue. And smack in between them, Stew Goldstein of Monmouth Meats, on Monmouth Street opposite the Count Basie Theatre.

A Brooklyn native who now lives in East Brunswick, Goldstein, 53, has been in the trade since he was a teenager. And to revive its long-dormant Human Bites feature, redbankgreen took a few minutes recently to ask Goldstein about a lifetime of swing a meat cleaver.

Did you always know this is what you wanted to do for a living?

Yes. I never had any other jobs. This is what I enjoy. My father had a small family-style neighborhood store in downtown Brooklyn. He was in business for about 45 years.

Do you remember your first interaction with a side of beef?

My first interaction was when I was maybe eight, nine years old. I went to the wholesale market with my father.

What was that experience like for a kid?
You walk into a huge, refrigerated warehouse. The floor was wet and dirty — things weren’t as clean as they are now. You had the carcasses, you got the smells. It was something I said I would never do. But I did. I knew nothing else.

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Earlier this year, 39-year-old Billy K. Sims became the 50th bowler elected to the Monmouth County USBC Bowling Association Hall of Fame, a 73-year-old organization. A six-foot-five lefty who lives in the Oak Hill section of Middletown, Sims was county Bowler of the Year in 2001. He’s rolled 35 perfect games, 24 series of 800, and tallied 11-strikes-in-a-row 10 times.

We met up with Sims recently at Memory Lanes in Red Bank and watched him knock down our ten Human Bites questions without breaking a sweat.

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Keith Glass is a 56-year-old Red Bank-based pro basketball agent who’s got some withering views about the state of the NBA, its players, and even the role played by people who do what he does for a living.

He lays it all out in “Taking Shots: Tall Tales, Bizarre Battles and the Incredible Truth about the NBA,” published this week by HC, an imprint of HarperCollins. (Glass will be at the Barnes & Noble in Holmdel signing copies on Monday. See below for details.)

redbankgreen caught up earlier this week with Glass at his Rumson home, which he shares with his wife, former Turkish pro hoopster and sportscaster Aylin Guney Glass. We put him through the ten-question Human Bites drill.

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On an unusually blustery day last week, redbankgreen hovered while photographer Michael Marmora worked on his first magazine assignment: shooting the rock band Bedlight for Blue Eyes for the upcoming debut issue of d. magazine, to be published by Red Bank photographer Danny Sanchez.

The shoot took place in the East Front Street breezeway next to Billy’s Barber Shop, and in a parking lot out back. Afterward, we put Marmora through the 10-question ‘Human Bites’ drill.

Marmora, of Holmdel, is 22, and graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology last spring.

This was your first magazine assignment. Were you anxious?
I was. I still am. I’m probably not going to be relieved until I see it in print. I’m always kind of nervous about first-crack attempts at things. But yeah, I mean, I’m excited.

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