RED BANK: LIBRARIAN FINDS HER PLACE

New library Director Virginia Papandrea hopes to draw more teenagers to the facility, she says. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Meet Virginia Papandrea, the newly installed director of the Red Bank Public Library. While she made many stops in her career before taking the helm of the borough’s literary and historical center, a desire to end up in a town like this one has always been in the back of her mind, she says.

“For my whole life, I’ve always wanted to work for a small-town, public library close to the ocean,” she said. “I guess you can say that I’ve fulfilled a dream by coming here.”

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JON STEWART AND BRIAN WILLIAMS SLING IT

News anchor Brian Williams, left, and comedian Jon Stewart traded barbs on the stage of the Count Basie Theatre in a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Long on sarcasm, feigned eye-rolling and Jersey love, the hosts of the nation’s top-rated television shows in their respective categories traded zingers in a conversation about the media, politics and growing up in the Garden State before a packed Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank Sunday night.

In a sparring mood that might have been a continuation of their pre-show dinner at the nearby Broadway Diner, The Daily Show host Jon Stewart and NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams traded insights into their jobs and flashing wit for two hours and 20 minutes, including a Q&A session with the audience.

“Thank you for dropping the F bomb 41 seconds into this,” Williams said to Stewart, who sniped that Williams’ job entailed his being removed from a “vegetable crisper” just in time for each night’s news broadcast.

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RUMSON TEEN’S STORM VIDEO DRAWS TRAIN

A 33-minute video about Hurricane Sandy by a Rumson-Fair Haven Regional student caught the attention of the rock band Train, which will play an acoustic show in Sea Bright as a result, NJ.com reported Wednesday.

Sixteen-year-old Charlotte Nagy videotaped conditions in Sea Bright and Rumson before, during and after the October 29 storm, and folded the band’s music into her production. Now, the San Francisco-based band is planning to play a private show for residents, first responders and their families next week, with the performance to be aired on on VH1 Christmas Day, the website of the Star-Ledger reports.

The effort will spotlight the efforts of Sea Bright Rising, a nonprofit devoted to the general recovery of the town of Sea Bright and care for its residents in the interim.

From the story:

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FAIR HAVEN RATES STORM COMMUNICATIONS

A hard hat signed by Alabama Power line workers was donated to Fair Haven as thanks for the town’s hospitality at Tuesday night’s council meeting. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

In a meeting predictably dominated by issues related to Hurricane Sandy, Fair Haven’s borough council and a concerned public agreed on Monday night: though the local government did well, better communication is needed.

Council members and residents said the town’s officials did a good job of damage control and post-storm recovery efforts, but a lack of effective communications from the borough was the one lingering negative at the governing body’s bimonthly meeting.

“I think the main thing is we need to do a better job communicating,” said borough AdministratorTheresa Casagrande.

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SEA BRIGHT READIES FOR RESIDENTS’ RETURN

Aided by the Army, volunteers have built an encampment of tents to serve food and provide other necessities to Sea Brighters when they’re allowed back into town. Restaurateur Chris Wood, below, unloads supplies. (Photos by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Outside a mobile kitchen, a National Guardsman chows down a hot dog before helping young volunteers unload boxes of supplies from a tractor trailer in the heart of a newly erected tent city that’s taken shape in the heart of Sea Bright.

With regulation Army tents, Humvees, makeshift kitchens and grills, the parking lot next door to the borough firehouse is looking more like a refugee camp than the slice of summer heaven that draws thousands of visitors each summer.

But the camp has been built in anticipation of an influx not of tourists but of exiled Sea Brighters, who’ve been shut out of their town since leaving under a mandatory evacuation order in advance of Hurricane Sandy.

Chris Wood, owner of Woody’s Ocean Grille, who has spearheaded an effort to feed first responders, relief workers and volunteers, plans to expand the effort exponentially when residents and contractors begin moving back to town, perhaps as early as Monday.

“We’re going to have it all,” Wood said Thursday, while unloading some boxes himself, “three hot meals a day to anyone who needs them, and a veritable Wal-Mart of supplies and clothing, available to anyone and everyone that needs them.”

Beginning Friday, residents and business owners were to be allowed into the sequestered town on a day basis only, accompanied by contractors, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Mayor Dina Long. Also on Friday, Governor Chris Christie was expected to make an 11 a.m. stop in town “to thank the heroes on the ground,” she said.

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GOOGLE FORECASTS HIGHEST SURGES HERE

The above map indicates that the probability of storm surges of six feet or more accompanying Hurricane Sandy are greater along the Navesink River, upper Shrewsbury River, Sandy Hook Bay and New York Harbor than nearly anywhere else along the storm’s path.

The map, created by the Google Crisis Response team, reflects geographic data from a variety of sources, including official information sources and user-generated content.

WOMAN DEFAMED IN DUPRÉ VIDEO WINS $3M

A federal judge in Trenton has ordered the owners of the ‘Girls Gone Wild‘ pixelated-flesh empire to pay $3 million to a 27-year-old woman whose identity was misused in a raunchy video featuring a teenaged Ashley DuPré, according to a report by Cliffview Pilot.

DuPré, also 27, whose paid assignations with Eliot Spitzer five years ago ended his governorship of New York, was not a party to the ruling, though she was a original defendant in the lawsuit, according to federal court records. She now owns Femme By Ashley, a lingerie and swimwear shop in downtown Red Bank.

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RBR GRAD AND TEACHER HONORED

Gemma Ciabattoni was the highest-ranking Red Banker at RBR this year. (Photo by Connor Soltas. Click to enlarge)

By CONNOR SOLTAS

Honored by the Red Bank mayor and council as the town’s top-ranking high school senior this year was Gemma Ciabattoni – community volunteer, avid English student, varsity soccer player, actress, and big-time Scrabble enthusiast.

Councilwoman Kathy Horgan read a resolution at Wednesday’s council meeting recognizing Ciabattoni for having instilled “a sense of pride in all of the citizens of the Borough of Red Bank as a result of her outstanding achievements.”

Ciabattoni graduated from Red Bank Regional last month with a 97.67 grade point average, having taken numerous honors, advanced placement and international baccalaureate classes.

“Even though I’ve won a lot of scholarly honors, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be,” she told the audience at the meeting, “but being recognized is an honor in it itself.”

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BELLHEADS PICK UP A SIGNAL FROM THE PAST

It was an evening of I-thought-I’d-see-you-heres as an overflow crowd of more than 100 attendees – a preponderance of them white-haired, and many once employed by Bell Labs – turned out in Little Silver Thursday night to hear author Jon Gertner discuss his book, “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation.”

The unexpectedly strong turnout necessitated the relocation of the event from the borough library to the nearby municipal courtroom, where it was still SRO. (Photos by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

STOLEN LAPTOP HELD CHERISHED PHOTOS

Shakira Johnson with her son, Jakir, earlier this week. (Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

Unlike most parents, Red Bank resident Shakira Johnson does not have the luxury of flipping through old photographs and looking back on her son’s toddler years.

She cannot hold them in her hands and reminisce about his first Christmas, or his seventh birthday party. That quintessential shot of a smile missing two front teeth is likewise missing from her life.

She is a mother who has lost all her photos – twice. And she is asking for help to get back those that she can.

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THEY GOT GAME, AND SO NOW YOU GOT GAME

Corey Wagner, left, and Patrick Finan are taking on the uncertainty of pickup games with a new web-based scheduling tool. (Click to enlarge)

By MARY ANN BOURBEAU

Looking to form a pickup hoops or softball game, but don’t have enough friends? Try Joinagame, a new social network for pickup sports based right here on the Green.

Launching today, Joinagame was built by Corey Wagner of Rumson and Patrick Finan of Fair Haven to handle all the pesky details, such as finding and reserving an available field or court.

But it also addresses a bigger hurdle: not knowing enough people who might be game for a game.

“Once you leave college, you lose your sports network,” said Wagner.

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RBMS BAGS MORE CASH WITH ANTI-RAT RAP

For the third consecutive year, Red Bank Middle Schoolers have exterminated the competition in a national video-production contest sponsored by a pest-control trade group.

The $3,000 grand prize for the school’s ‘I Hate Rats’ video, above, adds to a long list of accolades, cash and supplies won by the school’s vaunted video program.

Not bad for a bit of rapping that features rodents, rat poop and a reference to the plague.

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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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TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOYSTICKS

Here’s a video that tracks a couple of Red Bank kids as they explore Yestercades, the retro gaming emporium that’s been the buzz of Broad Street since even before it opened in October.

Niko Porter, a fourth-grader at the Red Bank Middle School, and Patricio Vera, a senior at Red Bank Regional, took a whirlwind tour of the arcade, which features such classics as Pac Man, Frogger, Space Invaders and Tetris.

Niko, by the way, no longer sports that awesome mop of hair. He recently donated it to be made into a wig for a cancer patient.

redbankgreen‘s picture person Trish Russoniello did the edit.

RED BANK PICKS NEW PAY-TO-PARK SYSTEM

A video explaining the multi-space pay technology that will replace single-head meters, like the one below, in the English Plaza lot.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s “time expired” for racing to beat a $38 parking ticket in downtown Red Bank, officials said Wednesday night.

Say hello to “multi-space, revenue controlled” parking technology, complete with cellphone interactivity.

Fulfilling a pledge made by Mayor Pasquale Menna two years back, the borough council awarded a contract for a yet-to-be-determined number of pay stations that will, among other wonders, send visitors texts when they’re in danger of being ticketed and allow them to extend their stays from the comfort of a restaurant.

Oh, and for the town? A sweet spike in parking revenue, with an accompanying drop in enforcement and maintenance costs, says an executive at vendor Integrated Technical Systems of Wallingford, Connecticut.

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A SHINY, HAPPY, SHARING RED BANK

Thanks to a redbankgreen reader’s post on Facebook, we learned recently of this feel-good video shot in downtown Red Bank.

It’s a message for Lifevestinside, an effort aimed at “increasing kindness in society, [which] will lead to more connectedness and a better, happier world.”

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AT 12 BROAD, SOHO MEETS RED BANK

12-broadA worker restoring the arched windows at 12 Broad Street recently. Nima Nili, below, is overseeing the building’s transformation. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

nima-nili-110211There’s no scaffolding, and few external signs of what’s going on inside, but one of Red Bank’s stateliest business addresses is getting its most extensive makeover in decades.

It’s not just about bringing in Zebu Forno, either. While the popular coffee-slash-bagel-slash pizza spot is relocating to the ground floor from three doors south, a gut-job transformation of office space above has already begun to attract well-heeled tenants that many downtown merchants say they can’t survive without.

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‘FLAVOUR’ TO TEASE TASTE BUDS AND MORE

rb-flavourA screen grab from the Red Bank Flavour website. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A restaurant-and-bar-led consortium has rolled out a multi-front web marketing campaign to boost Red Bank’s profile as a cultural destination.

Dubbed Red Bank Flavour, the campaign’s aim is to resharpen the town’s dulled edge as Monmouth County’s go-to place for dining and nightlife, a distinction it lost in recent years with the rise of Pier Village in Long Branch and the two-fisted resurgence of Asbury Park’s downtown and boardwalk.

“It’s about bringing people back to Red Bank, and letting people know that we’re still very vibrant,” says Valerie Aufiero of Front Street Trattoria.

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SHORE TO PLEASE?

lsd

park_it_021redbankgreen spotted this plate on a car parked on Broad Street in downtown Red Bank Wednesday afternoon. Our satirical circuits were immediately overloaded.

LSD – once regarded by some as the ultimate escape from the Establishment – being touted on an uber-Establishment Cadillac? LSD is “Shore to Please?” Was the DMV tripping when the request for this tag came in?

Too many options. So we put it out there for followers of our Facebook page to offer up some captions. Here’s what they came up with:

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ARCADE (BEEP!) RUNS THE BOARD (BWOOP!)

yestercades003An artist’s rendering of the ’boutique’ video game arcade planned for 80 Broad Street. Below right, owner Ken Kalada shares a laugh with zoning board member Tom Williams after the board’s unanimous approval. (Click to enlarge)

ken-kaladaAs a Pac-Man-loving preteen in Lincroft, Ken Kalada used to weep, he said, because his father wouldn’t allow him to visit a video game arcade in Eatontown because it was too seedy.

By the time he was 12, though, Kalada was collecting video games and pinball machines of his own, acquiring them via Usenet groups before eBay was a gleam in anyone’s eye. He was also spending time soaking up the atmosphere at a a retro pool hall that opened in the Galleria at Red Bank in the ’90s.

Neither experience, he said, wrecked his morals. In fact, people of his cohort – he’s 29 – and up to their late 40s are deeply nostalgic for the Mario Brothers and other electronic games of their youth, he said.

To answer that need, Kalada intends to transform a 2,800-square-foot former clothing store on Broad Street in Red Bank into a “boutique” video game lounge, one that’s open as late as 2 a.m. to satisfy the joystick cravings of eternal adolescence.

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