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MUNCHMOBILE VISITS, AND WE’RE ON IT

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It’s as Jersey as the Sopranos: the Star-Ledger’s Munchmobile, a van with a giant polyurethane wiener on the roof that tours the state every summer in search of the best eats — ice cream, burgers, Italian, seafood, whatever.

Well, yesterday was a special ‘blunch’ edition of the weekly tour to which a half-dozen of the state’s independent bloggers were invited. And even though redbankgreen rankles at the ‘blog’ label, we set aside our semantic tic and climbed aboard, not wanting to miss out on what some people consider the ride of a lifetime.

Also on board? Two other hyperlocal news sites — Hoboken411 and Baristanet, which serves Montclair, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield — and two foodie sites — Off the Broiler and Go Out Jersey.

On the menu? Pizza.

First stop? Brothers Pizza on West Front Street right here in Red Bank, followed by a handful of other places scattered around north Jersey.

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NO ‘POLITICS’ AS MARINES HEAD TO WAR

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At yesterday’s Memorial Day send-off for 87 reservists attached to the Red Bank headquarters of the 6th Motor Transport Battallion, there was little talk of recent polls showing that Americans have soured on the Iraq war.

Nor was there much discussion inside the black palisade fence at Newman Springs and Half Mile roads of the rising sect-against-sect violence, or the terrorism directed at coalition soldiers and American personnel on the ground in Iraq, or the effectiveness of the new Iraqi government in assuming control of its own country.

Those topics were set aside as “politics,” something to be avoided in general, but particularly on this day.

While two gleaming tour buses idled amid the seven-ton green trucks built to haul ammunition and food to the front lines of conflict, the talk among the men and women in sand-colored fatigues was of bringing their fellow soldiers through safely.

The talk among the families and friends seeing the Marines off was of having their own return unscathed eight or ten months hence.

“They can have him as long as they bring him back home alive,” said Maggie Walling of Tinton Falls, referring to her son Tim, a 2005 graduate of Red Bank Regional High School. She said she and her son had “stayed up all night” savoring their time together.

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THE SOUNDS OF SUMMER

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STAY OUT OF TOWN this weekend if you dislike food, music, the outdoors or crowds. The 20th annual Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival sets up camp for three days of live music, arts & crafts, partying, maybe a little politicking, and truckloads of diet-wrecking finger foods, all in the cozy confines of Marine Park. It’s the traditional start to summer in these parts, and about as laid-back or high-voltage as it gets, depending on the hour.

By no small coincidence, redbankgreen premieres this weekend, and among our first offerings are items about two hard-working musical artists who would blow the doors off the festival, if it had doors.

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