The onetime home of Big Man’s West would be razed accommodate a proposed apartment building. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
Plans for a proposed 62-unit apartment project in Red Bank call for razing a building that holds a place in rock ‘n roll history: the former Big Man’s West, a concert venue owned by late saxophonist Clarence Clemons.
PieHole catches Jen Rubino pre-bite at Jamian’s Food and Drink. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
Jamian’s Food and Drink gets testy on Tuesday nights as brainiacs and know-it-alls vie for points at a trivia contest that fills the Red Bank bar to capacity.
Jen Rubino, a 43-year-old borough resident and Italian teacher, has been showing up with her team from the beginning of the weekly showdown two years ago. Is it the camaraderie, the challenge — or maybe a craving for her favorite pizza that brings her out every week? More →
At stake: the dignity of at least two area mayors. (Click to enlarge)
The Battle of Ridge Road will pit maroon against purple in a high-stakes football game between Red Bank Regional and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional high schools this weekend.
But in the aftermath, the mayors of at least two towns will end up dressed dressed in electric green.
That’s because the top elected officials in Fair Haven, Rumson, Little Silver, Red Bank and Shrewsbury have a group wager on the outcome of the NJSIAA Central Group 3 championship game between the undefeated RBR Buccaneers (11-0) and the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional Bulldogs (9-2): those from the sending towns of the losing team must dress up as the Grinch at a Holiday Express event, Little Silver Mayor Bob Neff tells redbankgreen.
A new interactive map developed by NJ.com, the website of the Star-Ledger, enables users to zoom down to nearly the street level to show where every one of New Jersey’s more than 8.9 million residents lives, as well as the race and ethnicity of each, according to the 2010 Census.
The map doesn’t pinpoint the exact address of every resident: that would be creepy, wrote NJ.com reporter Stephen Stirling. Instead, developers at NJ Advance Media “created a dot for each person of each race within each Census block, and scattered them randomly throughout their representative geography,” he said. The result, said Stirling, “is the most detailed look at race in New Jersey possible with information available today.”
The effect is highly detailed image that shows while the state is the most diverse in the nation, the Greater Red Bank Green is a near monoculture of whites (represented by blue dots) outside Red Bank’s West Side, which is home to dense concentrations of Hispanic and African-American residents. And even those two groups are somewhat segregated, the data suggests. (Screen grab from NJ.com)
John Gatta wields giant scissors as he dedicates the new park named for his late brother, Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta Jr. (seen below), as Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer applauds. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
For 47 years, while cutting meat and selling boxes of rice and cereal, Red Bank butcher Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz’ Gatta Jr. preached the gospel of an American musical art form he deeply loved, and wanted his customers to hear as he heard it.
On Monday night, borough residents showed they had heard, and had been touched by both his love of jazz and his generosity as a grocer.
At a brief ceremony tinged with fondness, humor and a bit of live jazz, the site at the corner of Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard was named in honor of the late jazz-enthralled butcher.
Anyone who ever had the pleasure of getting an earful of bebop – and a history lesson in jazz – while picking up a pound of ground chuck at the now-gone Johnny’s Jazz Market in Red Bank should consider stopping by the pocket park on Shrewsbury Avenue at Drs. James Parker Boulevard tonight at 6:30 p.m.
That’s when borough officials will officially rename the park for the late butcher and irrepressible jazz maven Ralph ‘Johnny Jazz‘ Gatta Jr., who ran the shop for almost 50 years – always with his beloved jazz playing in the background.
Gatta, a lifelong borough resident, died in 2011. The park is the site of a series of summer jazz concerts hosted by the borough. (Photo above by Trish Russoniello; below, by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
The Third Best Trivia Host in America — Little Silver’s own “Gentleman” Jim Norton — brings his bar-hopping brand of “brain-bending quizzes” to a Thursday Night Trivia stand at Molly Maguire’s. (Photo by Diana Moore)
It’s an interactive entertainment in which “questions range from high brow to high school, and fortune favors the squad with a well-rounded range of knowledge” — a “unique blend of brain-bending quizzes and lighthearted crowd work” that commandeers “the spot where generations of the area’s brightest and most attractive have put their wits on display.” Namely, Molly Maguire’s Gastropub.
Going up at the Rumson watering spot this Thursday night, January 8 and each Thor’s Day thereafter for the foreseeable future, Thursday Night Trivia (TNT) puts a locally sourced, personality-packed twist on a popular attraction for teams of up to eight players (with prizes awarded to First and Second Place groups). The contest is lorded over by “Master of Minutiae, Impresario of the Immaterial” and Little Silver resident Gentleman Jim Norton — recovering title insurance agent; veteran roadie/ tech guy/ sound pro for everyone from Frank Sinatra Jr. to Iggy Pop, and self-described “emcee, scorekeeper, off-the-cuff insult comic and Ombudsman” whose little sideline endeavor has grown to become a favorite weekly draw at taverns and nightspots throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties.
‘Driving Jersey,’ a television series that mines the Garden State for its culture, kicks off a new season Wednesday night with footage shot in Red Bank, where producer (and borough resident) Steve Rogers cornered locals for thoughts on their favorite movies.
The season premiere episode, which takes “a sweet look at New Jersey’s place in the history of the silver screen,” airs on NJTV at 8:30 p.m.
Spoiler alert for fans of the cable show ‘Comic Book Men,’ shot in and around Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash on Broad Street in Red Bank: a future episode will feature a race between the Batmobile and the Green Hornet’s Black Beauty, shot Thursday afternoon on Bridge Avenue in Gotham Red Bank.
And who was riding shotgun for a faux Batman? None other than onetime Batman portrayer Adam West himself, now 85 years old. Andres Verde of Red Bank, above, got a selfie with West, following one take of the low-speed race. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
Rick Norman is Jamian’s quizmaster on Tuesday nights.(Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
For the second week in a row, thirsty brainiacs packed the patio bar at Jamian’s Food and Drink in Red Bank Tuesday night, not only for the cut-rate nachos and Miller Lites but for a chance to show off their smarts.
It’s Trivia Tuesday at the Monmouth Street watering hole, and for those patrons with the answers, it’s fun. For others, it’s more of a delicious groan fest and camaraderie. Nothing, it seems, makes you feel better about defeat than a burger, fries and cold beer.
The former library, newly rebranded the Navesink Arts Center, is transformed into a spacious reading room and reception area for Monmouth Players productions. Below,Lori Renick (left) co-stars in the current production of Neil Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs.’ (Photos by Robert Kern; click to enlarge)
By TOM CHESEK
It sits at the relatively quiet corner of Monmouth and Sears Avenues in Middletown Township, on a parcel of land that boasts an ample parking lot and a couple of asphalt tennis courts, a fixture of some hundred years’ standing, in a history-steeped village of Old Stone Churches and Little Red Stores.
And yet, even some longtime residents of the township’s Navesink and Locust neighborhoods might be at a loss to tell you anything about the old Navesink Library.
When Middletown Township Public Library decommissioned its branch locations earlier this year, the library buildings in Lincroft and Port Monmouth were shuttered; their collections and equipment donated, sold or assimilated into the MTPL main branch on New Monmouth Road. Over in Navesink — a tiny one-room facility, with a small but comfortable auditorium in back, that had served as the township’s first library headquarters as far back as 1921 — the books were left to the nonprofit entity that had maintained the historic building for decades, and to the tenant that had called the place home since the 1950s: Monmouth Players.
As the curtain came up on their mind-boggling sixtieth season of productions this fall, the Players found themselves the new stewards of a genuine local landmark — and as theatergoers arrived this past weekend for the opening of Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” they entered a venue that’s been reborn and rebranded as the all-new Navesink Arts Center.
Dave DeScenza, above, and his daughter Nicolette, below, restoring the family bocce court on Memorial Day. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
The most recent interval between summers was particularly trying for the DeScenza family of Sea Bright.
Like their neighbors, the DeScenzas saw their North Beach home of 34 years, and an adjoining cottage, flooded and heavily damaged during Hurricane Sandy.
One week later, Dave’s wife, Nancy, a longtime member of the borough school board, succumbed in her 10-year battle with breast cancer.
But on Memorial Day, DeScenza, his daughter Nicolette, and his brother John put in a full day’s work under the sun restoring their regulation bocce court, across Ocean Avenue from his year-round residence.
“The neighbors kept asking when we were going to bring it back,” a cheery DeScenza said. “Sometimes, they asked without words,” he added, miming with a shrug and upturned hands.
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)
By JIM WILLIS
Just 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. Its like an apprenticeship. Its 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 Ralphs 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.
Owner Maureen Marcil says the ceramic squares, at $7 apiece, are her most popular offerings in her gifts-and-accessories shop. Each displays the name of a Jersey shore town with its geographical coordinates in a weatherbeaten typeface suggestive of seaside locales.
Monmouth Boat Club was inundated by the Navesink River hours before Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey, and the river rose several feet after this photo was taken. (Photo by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)
By WIL FULTON
The home of the Monmouth Boat Club, a Red Bank building that has stood for more than 100 years, is tackling rebuilding post-Hurricane Sandy with a little help from the men who built the place.
This pine flooring here is the original flooring, Commodore Leigh ‘Skip’ Bugbee told redbankgreen during a tour of storied Navesink River clubhouse, which was built in 1895 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Whats amazing is that, because theres no subflooring to it, it can basically withstand any amount of water and let it freely flow back out to the river.”
Even the buckling that was caused will be set back to normal once the heat is turned back on, he said.
“The guys who put it in here really knew what they were doing,” Bugbee said. “We owe them a big thank you.”
Filmed in June before a Count Basie Theatre screening of the blockbuster summer hit “Jaws,” the above video is an example of Driving Jersey’s storytelling style. Steve Rogers at work, below.
By DANIELLE TEPPER
In the hands of mainstream media, New Jersey has been not been treated kindly. With shows like Real Housewives and Jersey Shore purporting to offer sneak peeks into the Garden State of mind, residents are rarely seen as they really are, and are instead depicted as “pornographic cartoon characters, in the words of Red Bank videographer Steve Rogers.
That was the injustice Rogers set out to rectify when he embarked on his Driving Jersey video series in 2007.
After losing a media industry job in New York, Rogers stepped into the roles of writer, producer, and director to start telling true-to-life Jersey stories through raw interviews with real residents. Driving Jersey, he says on the program’s website, “represents and reflects the most misunderstood and misrepresented place and people in all of America.”
Since the show started, Rogers and his partner, Ryan Bott of Manahawkin, have dipped into their own pockets for funding. But now, after four years of creative success, theyre asking for help. Via Kickstarter, theyre hoping to raise $10,000 by November 1.
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.”
Fair Haven’s newly renovated Bicentennial Hall, aka Fisk Chapel, is among the historical landmarks that will play a key role in the borough’s centennial. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)
Its 1.7 square miles boast some of the oldest homes on the greater Red Bank Green, and a classic small-town vibe that’s lamentably lacking in much of stripmall America but some may be surprised to learn that Fair Haven, New Jersey isn’t a day over 100.
Carved from the former Shrewsbury Township and officially incorporated in March of 1912 (the current borders, adjusted with neighboring Red Bank, date back just a little more than 50 years), the still-young borough that brought us the area’s most iconic Firemen’s Fair (and served as home field for the legendary Vince Lombardi) is scarcely too old to party in style. And this weekend, Fair Haven throws itself a “Night of the Century” celebration that promises to draw “well over a one-hundred neighbors, local business owners and community leaders who love Fair Haven.”
Scheduled for Saturday night at the Raven and the Peach restaurant on River Road, The Party That Happens Only Once Every Hundred Years is being touted as “a very special occasion for everyone who contributes to the life of this town,” in the words of Centennial Gala co-chair Christine Burke Eskwitt.