Just as you can’t have a civilization without sewage, you can’t have a First Amendment without having to put up with the likes of Ann Coulter.

Yesterday, the conservative sump pump appeared on the today show in a little black dress to flog a new book. In the process, she called some of the widows of Sept. 11 “broads” who are “enjoying their husband’s deaths.” Jennifer Braun of the Star-Ledger has a page-one piece on this in today’s paper. The Washington Post quotes Coulter as saying in the book, “I’ve never seen people enjoying their husbands’ deaths so much.”

According to the Daily News, the book contains this gem:

“And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren’t planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they’d better hurry up and appear in Playboy…”

One of the women Coulter attacks is Kristen Breitweiser, who was living in the Navesink section of Middletown when her husband, Ronald, was killed, leaving her with a young daughter. According to the Ledger, Breitweiser now lives in New York City. Two others, Lori Van Auken and Mindy Kleinberg, both of East Brunswick, are referred to in the book as “the witches of East Brunswick.”

As many people familiar with the story of the so-called ‘Jersey Girls’ know, Breitweiser, Van Auken, Kleinberg and a fourth area woman, Patty Casazza of Colts Neck, were political naifs, and strangers to one another, when their husbands were killed at the World Trade Center. Weeks after the attacks, they joined forces to push for an investigation into why the attacks hadn’t been prevented. The Bush Administration fought the idea of a probe for months, but eventually folded. The result was the Kean Commission inquiry and report.

The basis for Coulter’s gripe with the women, she told Matt Lauer, is that she is “not allowed to respond” to the women’s critiques of the administration “without questioning the authenticity of their grief.” And yet, here she is, questioning the authenticity of their grief and doing so with all the tact of a plugged-up toilet.

“Having my husband burn alive in a building brought me no joy,” Van Auken told the News.

“I’d like her to meet my daughter and tell her how anyone could enjoy their father’s death,” Breitweiser told the News. “She sounds like a very disturbed, unraveled person.”



Alternating drizzles and downpours made the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival a damp and occasionally drenching affair for a good part of the weekend.

But Saturday afternoon’s rain ended just in time for Toni Lynn Washington’s walloping show before a sparse crowd. "I don’t need no doctor," she sang, "cuz I know what’s ailin’ me…."

The sun finally broke through the clouds on Sunday, bringing out throngs and giving the festival a nice upbeat finish.

But oh, what might have been, right?



Rev. Joseph W. Hughes was sentenced to five years in state prison yesterday for stealing $2 million from the Holy Cross Church in Rumson and living a swell life with the dough.

The heavy sentence, handed down by Superior Court Judge Bette E. Uhrmacher, was a clear rejection of Hughes’ claims, in pleading for leniency, that he is by nature excessively charitable and gave away much of the pilfered cash. But prosecutors contended there wasn’t a shred of evidence that any of the money was deployed for charity. Instead, they maintained, it went to luxury travel for Hughes and paid for a home, a Porsche and a BMW for a parish employee Hughes favored.

Hughes agreed to repay the parish $120,000. But the 63-year-old cleric and doesn’t have "two nickels to rub together," his lawyer told the judge, and Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis Valentin acknowledged that the sum probably won’t be returned, according to the Star-Ledger.

Hughes is now in the Monmouth County Jail but will probably do his time in a minimum-security prison.



Chuck Lambert’’s day job is not exactly the kind of gritty, back-breaking slog typically associated with the blues: he’’s a “membership services associate” at Red Bank’’s Community YMCA. That’s right, he’’s the guy who’’ll give you the orientation tour, set you up with access to the Cybex machines or heated indoor pool, and do it all with purring, irresistible charm.

But Lambert has also had glimpses of “the seamier side of what the world can show you,” he says, —and he’s not just talking about the men’’s locker room at peak occupancy. For starters, some of the musicians Lambert has played with have been run over by the music biz, or drugs, or just plain bad luck, without having any sort of safety net for themselves or their families. “Music— — the blues in particular— — has its pitfalls,” he says over tonic water at the Downtown Café. “Next thing you know, they’re having a benefit concert for you.”

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Saturday night’s festival headliner is Toni Lynn Washington, a well-traveled New Orleans native whose c.v. includes a pop-chart hit in 1965; USO tours of Vietnam during the war; a long stretch away from recording and performing; and a career revival in the mid-’90s that won her the moniker “Queen of the Boston Blues." OK, so that may not sound like a hotly contested throne. But even as a 69-year-old great-grandmother, Washington still draws comparisons Nina Simone, Ruth Brown and even Tony Bennett for what one writer called her “deep, clear, soulful tones.”

Here’s what our friend David Pulizzi, a writer for Jazziz magazine, had to say about her 2003 record, “Been So Long:” “Nearly 40 years ago, Toni Lynn Washington had a minor hit on the pop charts with her self-penned doo-wop ditty ‘Dear Diary.’ Subsequently she toured the Southern chitlin circuit with the likes of Jackie Wilson and Sam and Dave…”

Check out the rest of David’s review. Then go catch the show. Toni Lynn and her band command the Marina stage Saturday starting at 8:30p.


If those old deed books in Monmouth County’s Hall of Records could talk…


Official records indicate this house was built in 1901, but the date is dubious. Transactions involving the property (whether or not it had a house on it isn’t clear) go back to the days Red Bank was a village within Shrewsbury. And there’s documentary evidence plus some oral history to suggest the house may be as many as 150 years old.

The first owner to show up in the deeds was one of Red Bank’s most prominent citizens, Anthony Reckless, whose mansion is now the home of the Woman’s Club of Red Bank. By today’s standards, his buyer, Joe Parker, would seem to have gotten a deal. But poor Joe either went bust or died broke, because the Sheriff got hold of it and resold it.

For most of the 20th century, the house—at the corner of Irving Place—was home to Audrey Proddow, who, we’re told, was born in it and still living there when she was 89 years old.

Judy Petitti, daughter of a Boston architect, grew up in a 150-year-old house and missed the feel of it. She also longed to be able to walk into a town as vibrant as Red Bank’s. So after 20 years in Rumson, with their kids grown up (one, Rob, plays football for the Dallas Cowboys), Judy and her husband Robert bought this house, paying a premium because it’s zoned for offices. Then they set about replacing all its mechanical systems and sprucing up what had become a drab and overgrown exterior, but retaining the best historical aspects—the original floors, the plaster walls, the windows and more.

“It has great bones,” says Judy, who pronounces this house her favorite of all those she’s ever lived in—or even pondered owning in this area. “It’s been five years, and I haven’t seen one house in town that I wish we’d bought instead,” she says.



First, our apologies to Deborah Harry for blowing her cover—if that’s what we’re doing. But surely all flame-haired singers and actresses who patronize the Red Bank Post Office on Broad Street know that some day, one way or another, they’re gonna get outted.

It seems the frontwoman for Blondie has a house on The Green. Records on file in Freehold show that Harry paid $1 million for a 2.1-acre property on Shadow Lake in the River Plaza section of Middletown in April, 2003. The seller was the Edwin J. Dobson III Trust.

OK, so this is three-year-old news. But searches in Google and area newspaper archives turn up just one reference to Harry’s domicile buried deep in an article about a fundraiser that ran last September in one of the Greater Media weeklies. And OK, so one of Harry’s neighbors tells us, in a what-cave-do-you-live-in tone, that Harry’s been a fixture in these parts for way longer than than three years. Still, her presence is news to us and every one of the other townies we asked about it, so we’ll score this as a mini-scoop. And we eagerly await a torrent of clicks from Blondie fans for whom no scoop is too mini.

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