For the second time in recent years, the Ku Klux Klan appears to be coming out from beneath its rock in Red Bank.

A Hudson Avenue resident tells redbankgreen he found KKK literature in a plastic bag weighted with candy outside his Hudson Avenue home Tuesday evening.

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rb vigil 071016 2
Children carried three bouquets of flowers — one for the five police officers slain in Dallas last week, one for victims of senseless violence, and one for “peace in our hearts and our country,” in the words of Mayor Pasquale Menna — at a vigil in Red Bank Sunday night.

About 40 residents, local clergy and a contingent of borough police officers participated in the brief ceremony, held at the Veterans Memorial on Monmouth Street at Drummond Place. 

Additional photos are below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge) Read More »


rb vigil 061616 10HOT-TOPIC_03Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna is calling on area residents to participate in a silent vigil Sunday evening for the five law enforcement officers slain in Dallas Thursday “and for civilian victims of violence in our country,” he said in an alert distributed Saturday.

Participants are asked to gather at 7 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial, at the corner of Monmouth Street and Drummond Place. Three wreaths will be on display, Menna said: one for the officers killed, one for victims of senseless violence, and one for “peace in our hearts and our country.”

Attendees may leave flowers at the site. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


rb vigil 061616 2rb vigil 061616 1As participants present lit a candle from a single flame at a vigil in Red Bank Thursday night, Pastor Terrence K. Porter of Pilgrim Baptist Church urged each of them to think of a single victim of  Sunday’s Orlando nightclub attack, America’s bloodiest-ever mass shooting.

“The candle you light is a reflection of that image in your mind,” he said.

The memorial service, held at Johnny Jazz Park on Drs. Parker Boulevard, was the second such service in town in two nights, and was organized by the West Side Ministerial Alliance and other other religious groups. Additional photos are below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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rb vigil 061516 6rb vigil 061516 2Dozens of Red Bank area residents gathered for a candlelight vigil in memory of the victims the nightclub attack that took place in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning, in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in America’s bloodiest-ever mass shooting.

Several speakers, including Rabbi Marc Kline, of the Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, called for tighter gun laws. “We need to do more than mourn and grieve,” he told the gathering, held outside Red Bank’s borough hall on Monmouth Street. A later reference to a Senate filibuster then underway for gun-law reform drew strong applause.

Additional photos may be seen below.

A second vigil, organized by the West Side Ministerial Alliance and other other religious groups, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. today at Johnny Jazz Park, corner of Drs. Parker Boulevard and Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank. For further information, call 732-747-2343. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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rb vigil 062415 16HOT-TOPIC_03As they did in response to the murders of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina last year, Red Bank residents and others will gather again this week to mourn.

Mayor Pasquale Menna has called for a community-wide candlelight vigil “in remembrance of the victims in the senseless nightclub attack” that took place in Orlando, Florida early Sunday morning, in which 49 were killed and 53 wounded in America’s bloodiest-ever mass shooting.

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kkk 011816 3One of the fliers found on McLaren Street Monday morning. (Click to enlarge)

[See update below]


just_inResidents of Red Bank and Fair Haven awoke Monday morning — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — to find fliers purporting to be from the Ku Klux Klan on their lawns, police said.

The fliers, enclosed in ziploc bags and weighted with small stones, disparage King as a “communist pervert.”

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rb vigil 062415 13 rb vigil 062415 5Several hundred participants gathered on Red Bank’s West Side Wednesday night for a vigil in response to the murders of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina last week.

Beginning with a march from Pilgrim Baptist Church to Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Park, participants sang and heard calls for an end to violence from a handful of local church leaders. And in the final moments, they shared the flame of a “unity candle.”

Click “read more” below for full photo coverage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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PILGRIM baptistIn response to the murders of nine churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina last week, Red Bank’s Pilgrim Baptist Church is organizing an anti-hate, anti-violence march and candlelight vigil Tuesday night.

The march will begin at 8 p.m. at the church, at 172 Shrewsbury Avenue, and head to Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Park at the corner of Drs. James Parker Boulevard for the vigil. In the event of rain, the vigil will be held in the church sanctuary.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


081814 via 45 walton kittrickLynn McKittrick and Linda Walton utilizing the kitchen of Via45  for their catering business, the Whistling Onion. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


081214 via45 front“What are we going to do? Where do we go from here?” Linda Walton asked her partner, Lynn McKittrick, after their Sea Bright restaurant, the Riverfront Café, was decimated by Hurricane Sandy.

“Together, we ran the business.” Walton said. “Lynn ran the restaurant while I ran a catering business,” the Whistling Onion, which had started in 1991 with McKittrick working out of a private kitchen, catering rooftop parties in New York.

Later, the Riverfront Café served as home to both the restaurant and private catering businesses.

After the storm, “the realization set in that I still had my business, while Lynn had nothing,” Walton said. “The right thing to do was making her a partner in the catering business.”

But where?

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Fourth-generation butcher Ralph Citarella, right, and long-time employee Kyle Powell carry on more than 113 years of meat-cutting tradition. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)


Bites1_SmallJust as in the Middle Ages, when last names like Baker, Taylor and Miller connoted the trade or profession of the family breadwinner, if “Citarella” were an occupation, it would now mean “dude who knows meat.”

In the late 1800s, Andrew Ralph Citarella left Naples, Italy, to settle in Red Bank, and soon began selling meat off of his front porch.

“He learned to cut meat by just doing it,’ says Ralph Citarella, fourth-generation butcher and current owner of Citarella’s Market, on Prospect Avenue. “Then he sent my great-grandmother [Carmela] to the meat houses [in Long Branch]. She learned the proper way, and then she taught him.

“So she taught my great-grandfather, and he taught my grandfather, and my grandfather taught my father, who taught me. It’s like an apprenticeship. It’s just years of a cutting apprenticeship.”

From the front porch, the first Citarellas moved to a store on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank. Sometime later, the shop relocated to Sea Bright, where Ralph’s grandfather and father, Andy, ran the business. The 1962 flood brought another relocation, to the Little Silver Shopping Center, where Andy ran the store. But in 1979, “he had to get out of there, because at that time it was really run-down, and the rent was going up, so he moved the store” to its current location, said Ralph. “He ‘moved a mile north,’ as he used to put it.”

redbankgreen sat down with Ralph at a picnic table beside the store recently to talk about meat, sauce and what makes a 100- plus-year-old family business tick.

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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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Railroad gardener Michael Humphreys could easily crush a dozen buildings if he were to lie across his “grown-ups’ playground.” (Photos by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge.)


In Michael Humphreys’ backyard are a covered wagon, a water tower, a livery stable, a totem pole, a sawmill and hundreds more relics of American history. Running through a miniature, imaginary town are his pride and joy: working locomotives built to scale.

Humphreys’ toy train collection, 20 years in the making, came to fruition eight years ago when he moved his family to Fair Haven, fenced in his yard, leveled the ground and built a railroad garden running half the length of his 60 x 35 foot yard.

“Basically, I’m a designer,” he said. “I’m making a theatrical effect.”

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shawn-gattaShawn Gatta applies some elbow grease to a car at Detail Doctor in Shrewsbury. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)


Bites2_SmallShawn Gatta has spent more than half of his life in the auto-detailing business. The owner and manager of the Detail Doctor on Broad Street in Shrewsbury, Gatta, 42, has been bringing out the best in the cars of his customers since he was a teenager in Neptune.

Since then, it’s kept him so busy that when he’s tried to pursue other fields — real estate, for one — he’s found himself lured back by the “first love” he found in detailing.

“There are other things I would like to do,” said Gatta, “but I’m so consumed by this business.” He’s had a real estate license since he was 19, but he’s never found a spare moment to make a single sale or listing.

Earlier this week, redbankgreen stole some time with Gatta’s lunch break – he works 66 hours a week, by his count – for some insights into the life of a clean-car obsessive.

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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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Ten questions for John and Rachel Decker, owners of Graman’s Vacuum & Appliance Parts Co. on Monmouth Street, at the corner of West Street. They live in Tinton Falls.

How long have you owned this business, and who had it before you?
John: We’ve been here for four years. I bought it from Gene Graman—“Uncle Gene,” though he’s no blood relation whatsoever. When I was growing up in River Plaza, Gene was the older guy in the neighborhood who never got married and had all the toys and all the fun: boats, motorcycles, Jet skis, snowmobiles, wave runners. My parents knew him before I was even born.

His shop was in Red Bank for 47 years, and in this location since 1964. He was previously closer to Broad on Monmouth Street. And surprisingly, there was a parking problem then, too.

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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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Ten quick questions for Gary Sable, owner and sole employee of That Hot Dog Place, 30 Monmouth Street (next to the Dublin House). Gary’s 54, married, lives in Hazlet and has two grown daughters.

Did you have another career before you started this business?
Yeah. Before this, I had bar & restaurant in Perth Amboy called The Triangle Café with my brother, Scott, for 23 years. It was a family business. My father bought it in ’66, and then he started getting sick. I went in in’73, and my brother came in two years later.

The bar business is good when you’re young, but once you get past 35, you don’t want to be in that business anymore. The hours will kill you. Absolutely kill you.

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Most Saturdays of the year, 21-year-old Erin Ryan of Belmar stands outside LJ’s Total Man/Today’s Woman clothing store on Broad Street, doing what she calls “promotional modeling,” talking up the merchandise to shoppers.

But when it gets cold enough to turn Erin’s exposed toes purple, she takes her act inside and does a mannequin act in the store’s window.

Erin is a full-time humanities student at Ocean County College, waitresses at an Outback restaurant, cleans houses two days a week, practices photography, and is—big surprise—almost impossible to reach. But redbankgreen caught up with her at LJ’s last weekend for a quick interview.

What’s involved in being a human mannequin?
I normally do 20-minute poses, not breathing, not blinking, not anything. It gets difficult. After about three minutes, your feet go numb and your hands start trembling. And after 15, you don’t even realize that you’re standing still.

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Ten quick questions for Eric Auerbach of Clearview Window Cleaners, Long Branch. He’s shown here at Bain’s Hardware, Sea Bright.

How long have you been a window-washer? About 13 years. I started off working for another company and then I went off on my own. I was doing all the work, and he was making all the money, so I just went off on my own.

Do you enjoy your work? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I do enjoy it, for the most part. You do the same thing day in, day out for 13 years, you get a little tired of it. But for the most part, I feel I’m lucky to have what I have. There’s a lot of people who don’t have jobs, or go to a job that they hate. I like what I do. I make all the decisions. There’s no corporate bureaucracy to deal with. I’m the corporate bureaucracy.

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Ten quick questions for Gail Mayr of Lena’s Bagels and Deli, 441 Broad Street, Shrewsbury.

We understand you’re quite well-traveled on the local bagel circuit. So where have you worked?
I started at the Bagel Station on Monmouth Street, where I worked for 11 years. Then I was at the Windward Deli, on Maple Avenue for four years. I went to Grandma’s Bagels in Little Silver, but it changed hands, and it just wasn’t for me. I worked there about eight months. I’ve been at Lena’s about four months now. I’ve known Lena (Maddalena Caruso) for probably 30 years, and she kept asking me to come work with her, but I wasn’t too sure about working for a friend. But then I figured, if I’m gonna bust my butt, it might as well be for somebody I like.

Have you had other food-industry jobs?
Oh god, yeah! I worked at the Willow Deli in Little Silver; I was there for nine years. Then the owners started the Cherry Street Deli (in Tinton Falls) and they asked me to help start that up, so I was there for a little while. Then I got TMJ and couldn’t work for a year, and after that, they were starting a Dom’s Deli in Fair Haven, and so I went there for a while. When that got a little slow, I went to the Bagel Station. Actually, it was the Bagel Deli part I worked in.

Why so many stops along the deli & bagel trail?
You know, it’s the funniest thing. I was at the Bagel Deli for 11 years, and I’m really more of a deli person—Dominick Melicia and his wife, Joan, taught me everything I know—catering, lunches, everything. But I’ve baked bagels—I used to do it one day a week at the Bagel Station. I can do everything with bagels except hand-rolling. It looks easy, but it takes a knack. Anybody can do it, but the bagels have to be uniform in size, and that’s hard to do.

What’s the most important step in making bagels?
The most important step is proofing the bagel. After they roll the bagels, the dough is at room temperature. You put a vinyl cover over the bagels and the heat from the dough makes it proof. If they’re not proofed they’re going to come out very small and almost hard.

What is it about bagels that people love so much?
Well, in the ‘80s, the bagels were very big. They just really caught on, because there was no sugar in them—they used malt. That went on for I betcha eight years. But now all of a sudden it’s wraps. People don’t come in and buy dozens of bagels anymore. Really. People would come in, buy a dozen, two dozen, cream cheese, butter and take them to the office. People don’t do that anymore.

So do customers follow you from one store to another?
Oh my god, yeah. ‘OHMYGOD! I FOUND YOU!’ You know what it is? I was at the Bagel Station for so long, and people knew that I wouldn’t sell them anything that I thought was bad. If I wouldn’t eat it myself, I wouldn’t sell it to you. That’s another thing that Dominck taught me. He said, ‘If you want a thriving business, you never sell anything you wouldn’t eat yourself.’ Plus, I’m very friendly. I always remember people’s names, ask about their families. I must have that kind of face people confide in. Sometimes, you get a new customer who’s just nasty, and I pour it on being nice, and the next time they come in, you’d think I was their best friend in the world.

When you say ‘things I wouldn’t eat,’ you’re not talking about things that are just a matter of preference, I presume.
When I worked for (IDENTITY OF A FORMER EMPLOYER WITHHELD TO KEEP redbankgreen FROM GETTING SUED INTO OBLIVION), if he thought something was bad, he’d tell you to just wash it off. Somebody would ask for egg salad, and if I knew it was sitting there for two days, I’d say, ‘No, you don’t want that.’ So that was their clue.

What’s your favorite bagel?
My favorite bagel is the everything bagel, with butter. I’m not a cream cheese person.

What’s your least favorite?
Cinnamon raisin. I just don’t know what it is—I don’t like it.

Which is more important to human happiness, bagels or comfortable shoes?
Oh, jeez. Human happiness? I’m going to have to say the shoes.