A CHANGE OF SEASON, A HAPPENING WEEKEND

Red Bank musical movers and shakers Chuck Lambert, Joe Muccioli and the Al Wright Unit’s Ruth Wright pay tribute to the late Ralph “Johnny Jazz” Gatta, in a special outdoor concert Friday.

While there’s still technically plenty of summer sand left in the hourglass, the coming of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair to the greater Red Bank Green adds an ever so slightly melancholy touch to the senior-diet Dog Days of August. We detect a nagging hint of Back to School seriousness; a wrapping up of outdoor entertainments; a change of gears and seasons that’s keynoted by a tuneful tribute, a look ahead to Halloween and a merrily Menopausal musical.

redbankgreen has assembled an even dozen diversions in this pre-Labor Day interlude, starting with a handful of things going on beneath the setting sun and stars.

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1.21 JIGAWATTS OF ENERGY IN THE PARK

Back to the Future,” Red Bank Rec’s first free, outdoor movie of the summer, rolled into Riverside Gardens Park Tuesday night with bunch of complementary events in tow.

High humidity didn’t discourage visitors from checking out the “time machines,” like the one at right, brought by the DeLorean Mid-Atlantic Club for the screening. Kick Cancer Overboard gave away a free cruise to a family affected by the disease, and a food drive collected for local food banks such as Lunch Break and RAINE. And a flash mob dance routine from Life Vest Inside, a Brooklyn non-profit that promotes kindness, added to the festivities, above.

Up next in the film series, hosted by Shore Flicks: “The Brady Bunch Movie.” The full schedule is here. (Photo by Danielle Tepper. Video by Stacie Fanelli.)

RUMSON WOMAN TO FOCUS BASIE ON FUNDING

Justine Robertson, who revived a family-owned theater in her native Hartford, Connecticut, is the new interim CEO of the newly restructured Basie. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Elbowing aside its CEO of the past decade, the board of the Count Basie Theatre has decided to merge the operation of the Red Bank stage with the theater’s fundraising counterpart, and has hired a Rumson woman to run the restructured entity on an interim basis, the theater announced Thursday.

Justine Robertson, a 27-year Rumson resident, replaces Numa Saisselin, who was widely credited for having steered the Monmouth Street theater from leaky-roofed money pit to a refurbished and financially stable cultural gem.

Saisselin, a onetime stagehand who colleagues say is more comfortable directing a load-in and negotiating band contracts than schmoozing potential donors, assumes the title of chief operating officer of the not-for-profit enterprise, answering to Robertson, who starts work on Monday.

With its choice, the theater signaled a shift in emphasis the nuts-and-bolts booking acts and theater upkeep to winning contributions from deep-pocketed individuals, Robertson said in an interview with redbankgreen.

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SPACE LEAVING WHITE STREET, UM, SPACE

Briggi Brandner plans to relocate her furnishings business to Deal. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508A prominent space on White Street in Red Bank is available for rent with the planned departure of a furniture and design store.

And stay tuned for some possible changes just down the block at Clearview Cinemas, which is up for sale with the rest of the arthouse chain, according to reports.

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RED BANK: STAR-POWERED MONKEY JEWELRY

Jewels given by Michael Jackson to Elizabeth Taylor are on display in Red Bank for the next three weeks. (Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

She was a silver-screen goddess with a taste for bling. He was a global pop-music phenom who, well, wore a jewel-encrusted glove as a trademark.

Now through May 13, movie and fashion fans can hold in their hands a piece of Hollywood history that connected them: Elizabeth Taylor’s iconic “monkey necklace,” a gift from her friend and fellow artist Michael Jackson.

The set has found a temporary home at Leonardo Jewelers on East Front Street in Red Bank.

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STASHERS AMPED FOR REALITY TV DEBUT

Michael Zapcic with Thomas Mumme, left, during Thursday’s live ‘SModcast’ at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash. Below: Kevin Smith on the center monitor during a taping earlier this week in Red Bank. (Photo below courtesy of Robert Bruce. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Michael Zapcic had the “really surreal” experience earlier this week of walking past Madison Square Garden, glancing up at the massive Jumbotron and seeing a commercial for ‘Comic Book Men,’ a new cable show in which he appears as himself: a self-described comic book geek.

“I’m like holy crap! It’s them! It’s us!” he recalled Thursday, in the tone of an average, fedora-wearing citizen spotting a caped man flying overhead.

Life in the mini-Gotham that is Red Bank may never be the same.

Only, yeah, it will be exactly the same, because ‘Comic Book Men’ is a reality show, one focused on the daily interplay of three employees of  “possibly the world’s most famous comic book store” – Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash on Broad Street, where the show is set.

Over six episodes, four opinionated, superabsorbent sponges of superheroism – Zapcic, Ming Chen and Walt Flanagan, plus original store manager Bryan Johnson – spend a lot of time  “just arguing about stupid movie plot points, which happens every day without cameras anyway,” says Chen.

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MIDDLETOWNER BACKS CAR INTO THE FUTURE

Jim Carroll in his ‘Back to the Future’ car. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Jim Carroll had just pulled his car out of his Middletown garage when a neighbor drove by, shouting in his direction, “One point twenty-one jiggawatts!

It’s the kind of thing you get when you own a stainless steel vehicle outfitted with a nuclear reactor for power and a flux capacitor for time travel.

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TODAY: WONDERFUL AS EVER, IN M’TOWN

itsawonderfullife2Ward Bond and Jimmy Stewart in the American classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” screening midday Monday in Middletown.

They say that whenever someone encounters the story of George Bailey and his magical Christmas Eve for the first time, an angel gets his wings, if not a royalty check.

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AN INDIE CHRISTMAS, FOR JUST ONE NIGHT

nothing4xmasCast members of NOTHING FOR CHRISTMAS, director Sean Guess’s indie feature film that returns to Clearview Cinemas on White Street for two showings Thursday.

Stroll past Red Bank’s Clearview Cinemas, and you’d take the slickly designed, professional-looking poster for any of the many Oscar hopefuls, festival favorites and international delights that regularly play the art house.

Take a closer look, though, and you might notice that Nothing for Christmas is an offering that’s unique to the local multiplex landscape — an uber-indie, locally shot feature film that’s written, produced, directed and edited by Shore area auteur Sean Guess.

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LIBRARY HEAD ADDS NEW CHAPTER TO TALE

mary-faith-chmiel-3Eight-year-old Andrea John introduces herself to Mary Faith Chmiel at a meet-the-director event held at the library earlier this month. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD mary-faith-chmiel-2

Book-loving Red Bankers of a certain vintage may experience a bit of deja vu when visiting the public library these days: it seems the institution’s new director looks a lot like the woman who owned a long-departed downtown used bookstore, Twice Sold Tales.

That’s because, of course, the two women are one and the same: Mary Faith Chmiel.

Chmiel, 57, of Tinton Falls, returned to town after a dozen years absence, this time taking up working residence among the racks on West Front Street, her bookstore having given way to a Starbucks early in the days of the first Internet browser. She was hired as the library’s new director in October, replacing Deborah Griffin-Sadel, who departed under unexplained circumstances in January.

redbankgreen pulled Chmiel aside for a quickie interview during a meet-the-director event hosted by the Friends of the Red Bank Public Library earlier this month.

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BALDWIN & PAL: UNPLUGGED AND ELECTRIC

dias-baldwin-and-cumpsty-photo-by-mike-mclaughlin2Alec Baldwin and Michael Cumpsty (right) join Two River Theater artistic director John Dias (left) for an “unscripted and unrehearsed” UNPLUGGED fundraiser at the Bridge Avenue artspace Monday night.

By TOM CHESEK

According to Alec Baldwin, there’s a certain comfort to be found in the eight-shows-a-week Broadway grind, in that “at 8pm I know exactly where I’ll be, who I’ll be with, and what I’ll say.”

As for an admittedly “confessional” Michael Cumpsty, the British-born actor allowed that “I feel more myself when I’m playing someone else.”

The two stage veterans were in a casually confessional mood on Monday night — with several hundred eavesdroppers listening in on the unscripted and unrehearsed conversation — as Two River Theater hosted a full house for an intimate evening of scenes and stories presented under the name Baldwin. Cumpsty. Unplugged.

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PARK IT HERE FOR VEGAN FOOD & A FILM

The trailer for ‘Forks Over Knives,’ which will get two screenings in Red Bank Thursday night.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

While Adam Sobel waits to learn if he’ll be permitted to operate his four-wheeled business in Red Bank on a regular basis, he’ll have his Cinammon Snail mobile food truck downtown for at least a couple of hours Thursday night for a down-to-earth dinner and a movie.

Along with vegan-friendly comrades Patti Siciliano of Funk & Standard, Gail Doherty and Tiffany Betts of Good Karma Café and others, Sobel is taking part in an evening focused on the health benefits of eating the un-American way: organically.

The night revolves around the indie documentary Forks Over Knives, which features T. Colin Campbell, a nutrition researcher at Cornell University who believes degenerative diseases can be prevented, and in some cases reversed, by adopting a “whole foods, plant-based diet.”

Or, as Siciliano, a converted vegan who recently opened an organic juice bar in her Broad Street business, says, “just don’t eat garbage.”

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SAY HELLO TO BASIE’S LITTLE FRIEND

al-pacino-photoIconic stage and screen great Al Pacino takes the stage in a June 1 benefit for the Count Basie Theatre, with tickets on sale now.

He’s taken the big screen by storm (adding a handful of timeless phrases to the pop lexicon in the process) in The Godfather saga, Scarface and Dog Day Afternoon — and his Bronx-bred rasp (in Merchant of Venice and Richard III) proved that Shakespeare’s still shaking up the here and now.

On the evening of Wednesday, June 1, Al Pacino comes to Red Bank, for an exclusive area appearance on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre.

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MARCHING OUT WINTER’S END AT THE BASIE

david-bromberg-2Master multi-instrumentalist David Bromberg makes his annual pilgrimage to the Count Basie Theatre this weekend.

We’ve sprung ahead, clock-wise, and have arrived at the middle of March with the feeling that the roar of the late-winter lion will soon enough succumb to the bleating of the lamb.

While it’s still technically not springtime just yet, a typically busy gust of activity at the Count Basie Theatre sounds the keynote for the coming months — suggesting that we’ve all made it over the wacky-weather hump. Or is it Humperdinck?

Whatever you do, never suggest that his godzillions of female fans are anywhere near “over” the British-born singer who’s been seducing ’em in song since the Fab Four were still touring. When the eternal King of Romance often known “simply” as Engelbert returns to Red Bank on the heels of his 40th Anniversary Tour, he’ll be effectively extending Valentine’s Day well into the season when many of us give up Russell Stover assortments and Pink Champale for Lent — with tickets for tonight’s Humper-palooza available here — and much more Basie-based excitement right around the corner.

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MENNA: RED BANK NEEDS MORE NIGHT ACTION

wfront-2The mayor says entertainment ventures could help fill empty storefronts. Above, two long-time vacant spaces on West Front Street. (Click to enlarge)

Citing a surplus of vacant storefronts and not enough for visitors to do after-hours, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna on Monday called for law changes to allow more nightlife attractions downtown.

Menna got the ball rolling on what he said would be a process to come up with zoning changes to allow such ventures as billiards parlors, small movie theaters, and places offering “digital entertainment” in the district.

“People say, ‘we love coming to Red Bank, but after we have dinner and drinks, we want to do more,'” he said.

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ART WALK: THE GALOSHES EDITION

leslies_sentinels“Sentinels” by Leslie Backlund whose works will be among those displayed Sunday at Shrewsbury’s Guild of Creative Art.

The virtual Art Walk is back on redbankgreen as February pops from the groundhog-hole with a newfound momentum toward those first gloriously slushy days of the long-awaited Big Thaw. Like charging into a snowdrift and hoping for the best, we proceed apace — and if the walking’s still a bit slippery out there, we did mention that we’re kicking it “virtual” in here.

This weekend brings an annual event that, while it doesn’t claim to compete for attention with the Super Bowl, remains an eagerly anticipated seasonal signifier around the greater ‘green. Hosted at Christian Brothers Academy in Lincroft and presented by the CBA Mother’s Club, the 36th Annual CBA Professional Art Show and Sale brings together some 100 pro artists from all over the region for a fundraiser that kicks off with a preview reception tonight. Tickets for the 7p event ($40 in advance, $50 at the door) benefit the school and include hors d’oeuvres, wine/beer open bar, live music, first dibs on all artworks offered for sale, plus unlimited return visits for the duration of the weekend.

The show continues Saturday and Sunday between 10a and 4p, with $5 admission once again dedicated to special event programs at CBA. There’s a 50/50 raffle, drawings for featured art works and refreshments available for purchase from “the unique Artist’s Palette Café.” Take it here for full details — and take it ’round the corner for more arty action.

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FUNDRAISERS BRING WARMTH TO AREA

toy-story-3-disney-pixarBuzz, Woody and the gang are back for one more big-screen adventure, when TOY STORY 3 returns for a special showing at Clearview Cinemas to benefit Bridge of Books.

Done2While wobbling and shivering across the frozen tundra of what can only be called Red Bank Greenland, you’d do good to bear in mind that in the Caribbean, the sun is shining and the thermometer is expected to hit the low to mid 80s. And you’ll have Done Good to bear in mind that in Haiti, the hard-hit victims of last year’s earthquake are still in need of a helping hand.

One is being extended to the beleaguered nation from Red Bank’s own Pilgrim Baptist Church. From now until Wednesday, February 16, the Haiti Relief, Recovery and Restoration Initiative of Red Bank (in partnership with Aslan Youth Ministries) is seeking donations of school supplies — everything from pencils, erasers, crayons and rulers to composition books and solar calculators — for distribution to elementary school students in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. The small northeastern city will be the site of a groundbreaking for a new community medical clinic, and a Mission Work Team from the Initiative will be delivering the school supplies when they travel to Ouanaminthe on the week of February 21-27.

You can drop off donated items at Pilgrim Baptist (172 Shrewsbury Avenue); you can learn more about the Mission Work Team trip by calling Bernadette Marshall or Pastor Terrence Porter at (732)747-2348 — and you can brace yourself for another seasonal blast of Done Good action, right around the corner.

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AT 55, EVIL CLOWN ENTERS RAG TRADE

calicoCalico, the iconic “evil clown” of Middletown, celebrated its 55th birthday Tuesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

At 22-feet tall and 10-feet wide, it has withstood the test of time, surviving fire, a potential sale of its home and a near ousting by a major development project. It’s been featured on the Tonight Show, in Weird NJ and Kevin Smith’s Clerks II, and draws fans from all over the state to gawk at its creepy grin, shoot tribute videos and set up a Facebook fan page in its honor.

Calico, the iconic “Evil Clown of Middletown,” turned 55 on Tuesday. Now it’s time to celebrate five and a half decades of making roadside history with a new venture: evil clown apparel.

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‘COUSIN EDDIES’ DO A CHARITY CRAWL

eddiecon11A cadre of ‘Cousin Eddies’ made their way around Red Bank Saturday night in a successful bid to get loopy and raise some money. (Photos courtesy of Robert Kern. Click to enlarge)

eddiecon32

Eighteen area men took to Red Bank’s bars and restaurants dressed in bathrobes and trapper hats Saturday night.

In a twist on Santacon, a somewhat raunchy gathering of faux Santa Clauses held annually in New York and elsewhere, the men did a pub crawl dressed as their favorite movie character: “Cousin Eddie,” from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Led by Chris Kenny of Shrewsbury and Dave Carr of Rumson, the mostly thirty-something robesmen hit more than a dozen watering holes on both sides of town, eating, indulging in cold beverages and shaking a pail all along the way to raise money for the Monmouth Day Care Center.

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REVIEW BOOSTS LOCAL FILMMAKER’S LATEST

jesse-bernsteinJesse Bernstein in Peter Sillen’s documentary about the grunge poet. (Click to enlarge)

I Am Secretly an Important Man, a documentary by Fair Haven resident Peter Sillen, gets a strong push in today’s New York Times.

The film, like much of Sillen’s work, focuses on the life and work of an artistic outlier — in this case, poet Jesse Bernstein, who was influential on emerging scene for Nirvana and other grunge rock bands in Seattle in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

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DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF RED BANK

Img_6707Bruce Springsteen meets with fans shortly before his May 7, 2008 show at the Basie. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Loyal Bruce fans, pack rats or both: The Count Basie Theatre would like to reward you.

If you dig through your dresser drawers and find a ticket stub from a Bruce Springsteen concert, the Basie is giving you a special price — five bucks — for entry to a special night for any fan of The Boss.

For just $5, stubholders will get to see the only screening in New Jersey of the latest installment of Bruuuuuuuce adulation, “The Promise,” a documentary about the making of 1978’s Darkness On The Edge Of Town.

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A RED BANK WEDDING, TELEVISED

oyster-pointStephanie Agresta and Chris McCaffrey used only local businesses for their wedding, which took place at Oyster Point Hotel, and their journey will be televised tonight. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Before taking part in March’s Wedding Walk, Stephanie Agresta had already planned on having a Red Bank-heavy wedding.

But, as she pointed out, “the wedding walk really brought to life all the opportunities in Red Bank.”

It also brought another opportunity, which airs tonight.

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FILM REGS PAUSED; TAXI TALK RETURNS

film-makingA film crew tied up the Broad Street sidewalk earlier this month to shoot a commercial. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A proposal to implement a permit system to film in Red Bank may fall flat before it goes to a vote. In putting that idea on the shelf, the borough council pulled a controversial taxi ordinance back to the forefront after a brief summer hiatus.

As far as the film ordinance goes, some council members object to its purpose, to require film crews to apply for a permit, which would come with a fee. The idea was introduced last month to keep tabs on video activity in town and ensure production crews are following local laws.

It’s a little too Big Brother for councilmen Michael DuPont and Art Murphy.

“To me, it’s just too much government over a single thing,” Murphy said.

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BASIE DOC A ‘CLEAR’ TRIBUTE TO RBC GRAD

severclearscottiVideo footage, shot in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars by former Marine lieutenant (and Red Bank Catholic graduate) Mike Scotti, forms the core of SEVERE CLEAR, the documentary feature screening on September 11 at the Count Basie Theatre. It’s a fundraiser for the Reserve Aid organization, as well as a tribute to Scotti’s RBC classmate Beth Quigley, who was killed in the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

By TOM CHESEK

Even though it falls this year on an event-packed late summer Saturday, the approach of September 11 can’t help but spur some moments of reflection for anyone who made their home in and around the Red Bank green on that day in 2001.

It’s impossible not to flash back to where you were on 9/11 — whether it was the newly opened Riverside Gardens, whose walls and walkways became the area’s unofficial town square for makeshift memorials and candlelit vigils. Or the commuter ferry docks of the Bayshore, where scores of dazed and dust-covered escapees from Ground Zero were hosed down and given a chance to get their bearings. Or particularly hard-hit Middletown, where a walk-through monument garden would sprout up adjacent to the township’s train station.

As a First Lieutenant on active duty with the 1st Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, Mike Scotti remembers quite well where he was as the planes hit the towers — and the fact that, as he explains, he was playing craps in a casino in Darwin, Australia, illustrates both the real element of surprise involved and the speed with which the military response was effected.

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