An historic total eclipse of the sun — well, partial eclipse, in this part of the United States — drew summer vacationers and office workers alike out into cloying heat and humidity across the Greater Red Bank Green Monday.
On sidewalks in downtown Red Bank and the parking lot of the Monmouth County Library’s Eastern Branch in Shrewsbury, among other locales, they donned safety spectacles, craned their necks and oohed and ahhed throughout the slow-motion celestial event, the first coast-to-coast eclipse in America since 1918.
Check out our photos of the skywatchers below. (Photos by John T. Ward and Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)
The Count Basie Theatre keeps the ghost light burning in anticipation of Thursday’s appearance by GHOST WHISPERER consultant James Van Praagh.
As we said in this space during last year’s Red Bank visit by “Medium Next Door” Maureen Hancock: you needn’t possess a sixth sense, second sight, or psychic gift to divine that live appearances by the breed of professionals known as Spirit Mediums are among the most consistently popular offerings booked into the Count Basie Theatre.
This Thursday night, the venue that previously offered successful events starring John “Crossing Over” Edward, Lisa “Voices from the Other Side” Williams and Theresa “Long Island Medium” Caputo presents an audience with James Van Praagh, the broadcast personality, best-selling author and producer whose adventures on the phantom channels of your television set have ranged from appearances on Oprah, Larry King, 48 Hours and Chelsea Lately — to serving as special technical consultant to Jennifer Love Hewitt in the series Ghost Whisperer.
Born in the final year of the Baby Boom, the Antique Center of Red Bank, said to be the oldest continually operating antiques cooperative in America, turns 50 this month.
The late Nan Johnson, an antiques lover who found herself with too much stuff after redecorating her Lincroft home, launched the venture with 12 dealers in an old Red Bank clothing factory in 1964, and it eventually grew to comprise three massive buildings anchoring the borough’s Antiques District.
Now scaled back to two spaces run by her son, Guy Johnson, above, the center plans a celebration this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with refreshments and bargains at 195 and 226 West Front Street. Dozens more photos can be seen at redbankgreen‘s Flickr page. (Click to enlarge)
Robert Bruce at a Glen Goldbaum fashion event in Red Bank in 2011. A regular on “Comic Book Men,” set at the Broad Street store below, he’s about to get his own show on AMC. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
“Comic Book Men,” an unscripted TV show about buying and selling comic books that’s based in the Broad Street store, has been picked up for a fourth season by the AMC network, according an entertainment industry report.
It’s also spawned a new show starring borough resident Robert Bruce, a regular on “Comic Book Men.” And it looks like progenitor-of-all-things-Stashian Kevin Smith will get one, too.
‘Literary Vixens’ Jacqueline Tobacco (left) and Melissa Bartolone flank author Suzanne Palmieri during her reading at Red Bank’s Lambs and Wolves salon earlier this month. (Photos by Alexis Orlacchio. Click to enlarge)
Not the “pull a rabbit out of a hat” kind of magic. The kind, she told an audience on a recent Friday night in Red Bank, that happened when she learned, while trying to budget her daughter’s college tuition. that an Italian company had bought the foreign rights to her book, ‘The Witch of Little Italy.’ The kind that happens when a fan, who happens to live five minutes away, turns into a close friend.
“I’ve made a lot of friends like that,” she said. “I didn’t know when I wrote the book that it would tap into something bigger.”
Hoping to create that kind of magic for other writers of edgy, sexy fiction is Literary Vixens, a publishing concern that began when friends Jacqueline Tobacco of Middletown and Melissa Bartolone of Red Bank reunited through social media over their love of books.
With Lauren DeVito, Literary Vixens promote, as their tagline says, “smart books for passionate readers.” What started out as a book blog is transforming into a publishing agency, and the ladies hope to hand pick a few marketable authors to work with.
“We knew we wanted [the name] to be a combination of smart and daring,” said Tobacco. “‘Vixen’ means we’re a little bit more edgy in our reading, a little bit more sophisticated.”
Lenore Dinger with a client at Earth Spirit in Red Bank last month. (Click to enlarge)
By GRACE GOLDONI
As someone who bills herself as a “spiritual intuitive counselor” and professes to hear angels talking in languages she doesn’t speak, Lenore Dinger might defy expectations.
She looks, quite frankly, like the average mom she is. Seated at a small table in closet-sized room where she counsels clients at Earth Spirit new age store on Monmouth Street in Red Bank, she’s more likely to wear a denim shirt than a peasant dress. Her hair, simply cut, is free of dreamcatchers and swirling silks. There’s no crystal ball on the table.
Nor, she says, does she just make stuff up to seem all-knowing.
“I don’t play that game that a lot of psychics out there play,” said Dinger. “I don’t want it played on me, and I don’t play it on people.”
Meet the seer who admits that she doesn’t always see. When it comes to insights into a client’s past lives, or guidance on the future, Dinger said, “if I don’t know, I’m going to tell you I don’t know.”
Next-gen guitar god Kaki King is the special musical guest at the first-ever TEDx Navesink: The Next Wave conference coming to Brookdale on Friday.
By TOM CHESEK
The way that Brian Smiga sees things, it’s an idea whose time had come — even before the arrival of a thing called Sandy.
“All of us here on the Shore recently experienced a big event that disrupted our lives,” says the native Rumsonite, software entrepeneur, actor and venture capitalist. “There’s really no time like that, no moment like this one, to plan for the next 20 years and beyond.”
The future of what Smiga calls “the country Shore” — in particular the Bayshore, Atlantic coastline and “Two River” areas of Monmouth County — is the primary topic this Friday, when the first-ever TEDx Navesink event comes to the Performing Arts Center at Brookdale Community College. The daylong ideafest features more than two dozen short lectures by innovators in education, technology, science, sustainability and the arts, who “will give the talks of their lives during 5-to 18 minute presentations that focus on their contributions, thoughts and vision for the future of the New Jersey Shore,” according to the promo lit.
Singer and author Cissy Houston visits Two River Theater Sunday to chat with Gilda Rogers and sign copies of her memoir about her daughter, the late Whitney Houston.
By TOM CHESEK
“Any family has its ups and downs, and we all have people in our lives who struggle. This just happens to be about a family of very talented people, whose musical talent brought them everything.”
The family question is that of native Jerseyan Cissy Houston and her internationally famous daughter, the late Whitney Houston. The speaker is Gilda Rogers author, activist, adjunct prof at Brookdale Community College, former faculty member at Red Bank Regional High School and, for several seasons in Red Bank, the proprietor of a delightfully eclectic place called Frank Talk.
The intimately scaled “Art Bistro and Bookstore” on Shrewsbury Avenue hosted an expansive schedule of entertainments and activities that ranged from personal appearances by famous writers, live jazz sets and civic debates to pie-tastings, yoga classes, hair stylings and events in which Rogers invited one and all to share their favorite old record albums and dance. Since closing the storefront space two years ago this month, Rogers has kept the name and spirit alive via Frank Talk Multimedia Network, an umbrella brand for a typically wide-ranging slate of endeavors involving music, video, theater and motivational speaking.
As a Community Affairs liaison at Two River Theater since September 2011, Rogers has worked with the performing arts center’s creative team to bring several special events to the Bridge Avenue venue including a salute to Red Bank’s fondly recalled “Johnny Jazz,” Ralph Gatta. And this Sunday afternoon just two days after what would have been Whitney Houston’s 50th birthday she’ll welcome Cissy Houston to the Rechnitz auditorium stage for an event keyed to the veteran singer’s memoir, Remembering Whitney.
A working nickelodeon, below, and old seltzer bottles are among the thousands of items that lure shoppers back in time at the Antique Center of Red Bank. Dozens more photos can be seen at redbankgreen‘s Flickr page. (Photo by Alexis Orlacchio. Click to enlarge)
By ALEXIS ORLACCHIO
Looking at it, shoppers at the Antique Center of Red Bank might not guess the glossy oak casing of the 117-year-old Regina Upright Nickelodeon was once caked with numerous layers of paint that had chipped and peeled over its lifetime. Standing near the front of the dimly lit emporium, light gleams off its intricate carvings.
The restored music box again flawlessly performs the task it was built for: insert a nickel into the side slot, and watch a music disc slowly rotate behind a glass pane, producing a melody of delicate chimes. Taped to its window is a small, handwritten note that reads, Not for sale.
Its too special, said store owner Guy Johnson, who found the player at a garage sale in Shrewsbury. It had been sitting in the owners basement before they decided to sell it, and thank God they did, he said.
But while Johnson may have saved the Regina, whether Red Bank’s vaunted antiques district can be saved is an open question. About a year ago, the home of Monmouth Antiques Shoppes, across West Front Street from the Antique Center, was knocked down to make room for the MW West Side Lofts, a residential and retail project now under construction. That left a huge hole not only in the space it had long occupied, but in an antiques district that vendors have struggled to keep going.
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 Smiths 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.
Joycelyn and Christopher Midose at Earth Spirit, where the merchandise includes “energy-infused” candles, below. (Photos by Danielle Tepper. Click to enlarge)
By DANIELLE TEPPER
If while strolling Monmouth Street in Red Bank you catch a titillating whiff of patchouli incense and sandalwood, let your curious nose guide you into Earth Spirit New Age Center, a shopping experience that for some is a form of sensory overload.
Feathered dream catchers and tinkling wind chimes hang from the ceiling; brightly colored gemstones pink rose quartz, purple amethyst, and orange citrine sit loose in dishes with small signs that describe their spiritual meanings; tiny bottles of aromatherapy oil are displayed next to figurines of Gothic gargoyles and mermaids; bookcases line the walls with volumes that run the gamut from Buddhism and Hinduism to astrology and healing.
And thats before things get deep: the Midoses can also put you in touch with loved ones who have passed on for a fee, of course. More →
Monday nights council meeting, convening at 7:30 p.m., was adjourned in time for attendees to be home to watch the 49ers take on the Bears at 8:30 p.m. or Dancing with the Stars if thats more your taste.
Louis Ferraros contract as police chief was approved unanimously. The specifics of the contract were not discussed at the meeting and were not included in the resolution passed at the meeting.
Some of the locally made jewelry featured at Ice. (Photos by Rebecca Desfosse. Click to enlarge)
By REBECCA DESFOSSE
Nestled in the heart of Monmouth Street in Red Bank, Ice takes costume jewelry to the next level by featuring the work of local up-and-coming artists.
Pieces of jewelry are displayed individually throughout the store in ways that allow for each piece to get its own recognition, according to store owner, Jack Hersh.
Alexis Gasiorowski, a 34-year-old attorney who lives in Red Bank and moonlights as a jewelry designer, makes her bracelets out of items such as bamboo found in Sea Bright, snake vertebrae procured humanely, she said African trade beads and lava beads, to name just a few.
Shay Guiod prepared to hang one of Dumitru Gorzo’s paintings at the Two River Theater on Sunday, above, having installed another at Space Interiors on White Street, below.
By TOM CHESEK
The opening of an exclusive major exhibition of paintings by an internationally acclaimed artist would be a feather in the cap of any town and an absolute must for a cranny of culture that was ranked third on Smithsonian Magazine’s list of the 20 Best Small Towns in America.
A feather goes to Red Bank, then, for landing HEADS, an ongoing, open-air (and in-your-face) “observation of the individual spirit” that takes to the borough’s exterior walls from these dog-star days of August to the harvest-moon evenings of early autumn.
Chris Szczerbienski checks in a Gibson Les Paul owned by Paul Bland of the Pearl Jam tribute band No Code. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Chris Szczerbienski was planning to move to Connecticut a few months back to take a job as a technician with a major guitar retailing chain when he stopped in at Heritage Body & Towing in Shrewsbury with his father.
His dad was there to get his truck fixed, but what fixed the younger man’s attention was the vacant storefront out front.
Forget Connecticut! Szczerbienski decided to open his own shop right there, on East Newman Springs Road, in the former Chelsea Home Furnishings space.
“I figured the money I would spend moving and getting set up in Connecticut I could spend starting my own business,” he said.
With dealers scattering to new locations, redbankgreen took a final spin through the Monmouth Antique Shoppes Tuesday. (Click embiggen symbol to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
The building appears to sigh and lean, as though aware of its fate. Inside, nooks and corners that once teemed with the cast-offs of the decades have begun to empty out.
It’s a sad time at Monmouth Antique Shoppes, one of the anchors of Red Bank’s vaunted Arts & Antiques District. Eviction notice in hand, owner John Gribbin has informed his 23 remaining dealers that they, like he, must be out by the end of the month, ending a 29-year run.
“It’s not the best time for me to talk,” Gribbin told redbankgreen Tuesday, as he had also last week. “I’m trying to find a home for me and my dealers, and it’s not easy going.”
“I’d almost rather be incinerated than have to live down here,” says Suellen Sims, below inspecting her new home’s fallout shelter, built beneath an earthen berm alongside Harris Park. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
It survived the Cold War without so much as a scratch, but a Red Bank fallout shelter is about to prove no match for the great wave of American home renovation.
Sometime in the next few weeks, a backhoe is expected to demolish the underground bunker beside a River Road house recently acquired by Suellen and Jamie Sims, who plan an addition to accommodate her mother.
A Manhattan transplant turned go-getter on the greater Green, stylist Glen Goldbaum hosts “a magical evening of fantasy, hair, art and more” at his two West Side salons. (Photo by Danny Sanchez)
By TOM CHESEK
From the day that he opened the first of his two neighboring hair/ eye/ makeup studios on Red Bank’s Bridge Avenue, superstar stylist Glen Goldbaum has operated with an ulterior motive of racking up a to-die-for client base.
The Manhattan transplant, who earned a following as an instructor with Vidal Sassoon and the celeb-packed NYC salons of Patrick Melville and Kim Lepine, relocated his residence to the River Plaza side of Middletown a few years back with his wife Stephanie and kids and promptly hit the ground running (or, more often than not, pedaling his bike) on a mission to introduce a totally new creative energy to Red Banks West Side.
Known as much for his charitable endeavors as for the public-invited art/ music happenings he’s hosted both inside and outside his salons, Goldbaum ups the ante on the “Left Bank” groove factor Saturday night with an event that defies easy description, even as it draws from the energy of two of Asbury Park’s most styling storefronts.
Three Red Bank men were among more than 30 suspects arrested in a massive law enforcement sweep focused on the sale of heroin and assault weapons, authorities said Thursday.
Russell Vann and Charles Dixon, both 54 years old, and Raymond Jackson, 41, were caught up on drug distribution charges in raids led by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s office over the past month, the agency said in an announcement.
All three were alleged to have been “midlevel” drug dealers in a hierarchical” syndicate run by a Long Branch man, who was also arrested. No street addresses for Vann, Dixon and Jackson were immediately available.
Andrei Provini explains one of his hundreds of inventions: headlamp spectacles. (Video by Dustin Racioppi)
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Christmastime at the Provini household in Middletown is full of tradition, one of them being the line of questioning Liz Provini delivers to her son, Andrei.
“Every single year, we can’t find the bolts for the (tree) stand because Andrei’s got them in one of his inventions,” she said.
Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood off Navesink River Road, Liz Provini’s home is as much, if not more, a laboratory for her 19-year-old son who, since the age of five, has tinkered with everything from bolts to strainers to stumbled-upon Volkswagens to create hundreds of inventions.
“He’s very creative,” she said. “His mind is going a million miles an hour. If he doesn’t have an invention in the works, he gets very frustrated.”
Provini, his mother said, was born to create. More specifically, he was born to change the world, he said, and doesn’t see himself settling for any less.
The 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.