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FAIR HAVEN: MIMI AT THE CROSSROADS

mimi cross 2Singer-songwriter-novelist Mimi Cross makes an appearance in Fair Haven Thursday to promote her new work of fiction, “Before Goodbye.”  (Click to enlarge)

By TOM CHESEK

BeforeGoodbye-20232-CV-FT-v5“It was great to see everybody,” says Mimi Cross in reference to her performance last weekend at Asbury Park’s Langosta Lounge, part of the annual Light of Day slate of musically minded benefit events. “I haven’t been playing much the past couple of years, and it was like coming home to family.”

Once a frequently sighted fixture on Shore area club stages — and a two-time Asbury Music Award winner for her self-released albums like Monkey Trap — the singer-songwriter soprano has indeed kept a low public profile since she became a mom. It’s an uncharacteristic stance for an artist who can boast of having shared stages with Bruce, Bon Jovi, Bonnie (Raitt), (Jackson) Browne, Lauryn Hill and Sting.

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WEEKENDER: SHAPING BODY, SOUND AND ART

Josh Zuckerman is at Red Bank’s Walt Street Pub tonight. (Click to enlarge)

For the first weekend of 2013, here are some fun ways to keep busy on the Green …

Friday, January 4

RED BANK: Free yoga session at the Red Bank Public Library at 1 p.m. by Amy Richardson. No registration required, bring your own mat. 84 West Front Street.

RED BANK: The Josh Zuckerman Band, singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, returns to the Wall Street Pub for a free set of original rockers and favorites at 8 p.m. 180 Monmouth Street.

RED BANK: World class championship blues guitarist Matt O’Ree will visit Jamian’s Food & Drink for a free Friday night set starting at 8 p.m. 79 Monmouth Street.

NOTE: The Holiday Express fundraiser at Sickles Market, which was postponed by Hurricane Sandy until tonight, has again been postponed out of respect for the Sickles family, which lost its matriarch, Adelaide Sickles, at age 81 earlier this week. A new date for the event has not yet been announced.

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A TREE GROWS IN… OH, NEVER MIND


7:24 p.m.:
A dozen readers gathered at a long table in the Red Bank Public Library‘s Eisner Room for a discussion of Betty Smith’s “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” a novel about childhood poverty set in the early 1900s.

When a question arose of whether stereotypes were present in the story, there was a consensus that the librarian character was unlikable. Librarian Patrice Baldino, who led the discussion, chimed in, laughing: “Yeah, the librarian. What was her problem?”

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NOVELTEAS BEGINS A NEW CHAPTER

rotondas-1The future of NovelTeas will be written by the Rotonda family, including siblings Vic Jr. and Nicole. (Click to enlarge)

By TOM CHESEK

novelteas1The news traveled fast — Facebook fast. As NovelTeas founder Kim Widener posted last Friday: “NovelTeas has a new owner and will be re-opening tomorrow.”

Sure enough, come Saturday afternoon, the book salon/ tea room/ gift boutique — established by Rumson resident Widener in 2009 on the “Left Bank” of Red Bank, and closed in recent weeks — was abuzz with activity, with new proprietors welcoming customers in search of a last-minute MomsDay notion or sundry.

Taking over the shop at 78 Bridge Avenue are two generations of the Rotonda family of Toms River; dad Vic, mom Teri, son Vic Junior, and daughter Nicole — a lecture agent by trade, and a media pro that Widener praised as “extremely energetic and creative” and “very connected.”

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LOOK WHO’S BOOKED, ON THE GREEN

bethennyBy TOM CHESEK

To some the word “author” is a job description appended to a hyphen; a sideline to a set of  day (or night) jobs that range from acting and sax playing, to running a fabulously successful chain of tea rooms.

Look up Bethenny Frankel (right), and you’ll find the irrepressible paragon of Skinnygirl style proudly pegging herself as a “NY Times Best Seller and Celebrity Natural Food Chef.” America may have made her acquaintance as the RealiTV star of The Real Housewives of NYC and Bethenny Getting Married, but when Frankel takes the stage of the Count Basie Theatre tonight, she’ll be hosting a “Skinnygirl Night Out” as the authority on “body image, food obsession, weight and exercise” whose branded volumes on those topics (including Naturally Thin, The Skinnygirl Dish and the forthcoming A Place of Yes) have become regular fixtures on the charts and in the carts.

There’s much more in the way of reading, signing and chatting action going on locally in the days to come — and we’ve got a rundown for you, at the turn of the pixelated page.

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NOVELIST GETS UNDER THE MARITAL HOOD

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Journalist, novelist and proud blogger Debra Galant parks it at NovelTeas on Bridge Avenue this Saturday for an event keyed to her new book CARS FROM A MARRIAGE. (Photo by Frances Pelzman Liscio)

By TOM CHESEK

When the 2010 Liberty Hose Red Bank Firefighter 8th Annual Car Show takes over downtown Red Bank’s White Street parking lot this Sunday, classic car-noisseurs know just what to expect — from the bodacious Dagmars of a Chevy Bel Air and the perky nacelles of a Mercury Turnpike Cruiser to the more equine musculature of 60s ponycar projects like your Mustangs, Camaros and ‘Cudas.

A day earlier and a few blocks west at NovelTeas Authors Aromas & Gifts, all eyes will be on a Galant — not the long-running bestseller of the Mitsubishi product line, but Debbie Galant, a woman who’s been as much a part of the suburban landscape as the sensibly sporty sedan with whom she shares a name.

The self-described author, mogul, mother, wife — a transplant from Virginia to north Jersey’s verdant green — is parking it at Kim Widener‘s book salon/ tea room/ gift boutique for something of a literary “car show,” an event that’s keyed to the recent publication of Cars from a Marriage, an “auto-biography” that “explores marriage through the lens of the various cars that the couple owns during their 20 years together.”

It’s the third novel (Rattled and Fear and Yoga in New Jersey are the others) for the former New York Times columnist; a regular contributor to national magazines who’s best known around the ‘green as the founder and editor of Montclair-based Baristanet — an acclaimed and award-winning news website that’s been an inspiration to many a placeblogging hyperlocal, including, ahem, redbankgreen.

And now, the light goes green on seven questions for Debra Galant…

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BARAKA HOLDS COURT IN RED BANK

barak3Poet and author Amiri Baraka  just before he spoke to a captive crowd at Frank Talk. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

He slipped slowly out of the back seat of a shiny black Mercedes-Benz with a slight hunch, shuffled into the storefront at 163 Shrewsbury Avenue, immediately took a seat and started thumbing through a book. It was not the entrance one might expect from a man who’s made his life creating, capturing and transferring an often radical and controversial energy.

But it only took a couple minutes and the reading of a poem on the death of Miles Davis from his book, Digging: The Afro American Soul of American Classical Music, for the Amiri Baraka that the crowd knew to break out of that fragile-looking shell and deliver. By the intense looks on the faces of the two dozen or so who waited the 90 minutes for him to arrive at Frank Talk to speak on Sunday, in celebration of the second day of Kwanzaa, the 75-year-old author, activist and former poet laureate of New Jersey could do nothing less even if he tried.

The crowd hung on his words as he reminisced about his halcyon days spent with jazz legends like Thelonius Monk and Nina Simone, or when he offered critical political analysis, some of it lighthearted.

“Somebody told me that the only reason Obama won is because his mother’s white,” Baraka said. “And I said, ‘All the presidents’ mother’s were white.”

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IN oRBit: KEEPING IT LIT, ALL WEEK

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As you probably gathered from our pixelated pages, we at Red Bank oRBit have a thing for words, whether doing it by-the-book or via the noble blurt of the spoken spiel. In today’s edition we run down four worthwhile events going on in and around the greater orbit — all of them linked by nothing less or more than the power of words to compel, cajole, console or confront.

There’s Hungarian-born novelist Joseph Kertes, coming to Red Bank’s Two River Theater on Tuesday to discuss Gratitude, his historical novel of one family’s Holocaust. There are the Dickman Brothers (identical twins Matthew and Michael, above), the enfants terribles of modern American poetry who visit Monmouth University on Wednesday afternoon. There’s E. Benjamin Skinner, the journalist who penetrates the shadowlands of the modern slave trade in A Crime So Monstrous (he’ll be at Brookdale Community College on Wednesday night). And there’s Asbury Park’s homegrown spoken word artist TIGGA, who has some powerful things to say about his city in a special Thursday night program at The Showroom.

We’ve got the deep-dish detail on all these offerings (with way more to come all this week), as we count down to the final rattling breaths of the Naughty Aughties, right here in Red Bank oRBit!

IN oRBit: A NEW ELISE ON LIFE

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Her characters breeze through some often outlandish situations with spunk and spirit and a take-charge creativity that you’ve got to figure are part of their creator’s makeup as well. But even if children’s book writer and illustrator Elise Primavera doesn’t normally cavort through the sort of colorful adventures experienced by the likes of Santa’s sister Auntie Claus or Louise the Big Cheese, her travels to bookshops big and small regularly excite the imaginations of young fans across the country.

Today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit drops in on the sunny Red Bank home studio of the award-winning author, a place she shares with a dachshund named Lulu and a hundred works in progress. Primavera visits two area bookstores this weekend — Fair Haven’s River Road Books and the new B&N at Monmouth Mall — for a pair of signing events keyed to her most recent titles, including the new Auntie Claus Home for the Holidays.

It’s all here, with more to come (including Turkey Eve go-out options and our big yearly roundup of holiday-oriented events), in the pixelated precincts of Red Bank oRBit.

IN oRBit: IN THE MIDDLE, ON THE AISLE

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Just in case the past weekend’s lovely weather was too much for your rain-addled sensibilities, today’s edition of Red Bank oRBit offers up a few suggestions from the Great Indoors of our fair Shore.

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First, we take it to Book It! Events in Shrewsbury, where Kim and Jacquie are preparing to welcome another special guest author — columnist and memoirist Kelly Corrigan, whose new book The Middle Place juxtaposes her personal cancer struggles with sketches of her life as a mother, a daughter and a sister — that Middle Place between generations from which so much inspiration is drawn. The best-selling writer comes to The Grove this Wednesday evening for a personal appearance and book signing.

From there it’s down to Deal, where the Axelrod Performing Arts Center is the starting point for the fourth annual Jersey Shore Film Festival, an extended event that previews Wednesday and opens officially on Sunday with a pair of full-length documentaries on the past, present and future of education. We’ve got a rundown of the highlights for this year’s JSFF, which continues through July 19 and includes a slate of Jewish-themed offerings that range from Darren Aronofsky’s maddeningly paranoid Pi, to Al Jolson in the original Jazz Singer.

Also a reminder to look to The Orb each week for the details on the new season of free outdoor family films going on at places like Riverside Gardens (where Madagascar screens tomorrow evening) and the Sea Bright beach (where the first Ice Age movie plays to the beach chair and blanket set, also tomorrow). We’ll have updates also this week on the other exciting things happening at Riverside Gardens, including Thursday’s Comcast Jazz in the Park series, and the Friday slate of Songwriters in the Park — including an interview with series keynoter Steve Forbert. All here in the pixelated pages of Red Bank oRBit!