RED BANK: MING CHEN FLIES WITHOUT A CAPE

Ming Chen, right, talking smod with Michael Zapcic at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash last month.  (Photos by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)

By DAN NATALE

Bites2_SmallAMC’s Comic Book Men, a reality TV show set at Red Bank’s Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash that airs its season finale tonight, features a cast renowned for snide and jaded banter on the world of comic books, movies, and television.

Throughout their playful, occasionally ball-busting discussions conducted online on ‘smodcasts‘ that anchor the show, store employee Ming Chen tends to be the brunt of the jokes due to his laid-back, friendly and unassuming disposition.

Chen, 38, started on his path to comic book heaven in 1996, while attending the University of Michigan. There, he studied everything from economics to organic chemistry, until he found himself skipping class to follow his true passion: web design. Chen says he “fell backwards” into his life as a professional nerd after he created a fan website for Kevin Smith’s movie ‘Clerks,’ which prompted Smith to offer him an internship. Since then, Chen has formed lifelong friendships with Smith and the cast, which includes Bryan Johnson, Michael Zapcic, Walt Flanagan, and “Steve-Dave.” This chemistry, Chen says, is what creates the show’s natural feel.

redbankgreen sat down with Chen, who also hosts the show “Puck Nuts” and is often featured on the podcast “Tell ‘em Steve-Dave,” for an installment of our infrequent Human Bites feature, which focuses on people and their passions.

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IN DETAIL: ‘BLOWN AWAY’ BY A SHINY CAR

shawn-gattaShawn Gatta applies some elbow grease to a car at Detail Doctor in Shrewsbury. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

By EVAN SOLTAS

Bites2_SmallShawn Gatta has spent more than half of his life in the auto-detailing business. The owner and manager of the Detail Doctor on Broad Street in Shrewsbury, Gatta, 42, has been bringing out the best in the cars of his customers since he was a teenager in Neptune.

Since then, it’s kept him so busy that when he’s tried to pursue other fields — real estate, for one — he’s found himself lured back by the “first love” he found in detailing.

“There are other things I would like to do,” said Gatta, “but I’m so consumed by this business.” He’s had a real estate license since he was 19, but he’s never found a spare moment to make a single sale or listing.

Earlier this week, redbankgreen stole some time with Gatta’s lunch break – he works 66 hours a week, by his count – for some insights into the life of a clean-car obsessive.

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‘IT’S ALL ABOUT COSTUMING’

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By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

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At about six feet tall, with his always-on mascara and mop of jet black hair tousled just-ever-so, Blaise Lucarelli was made to stand out in a crowd.

“My parents named me Blaise, so I was destined to be different,” he tells redbankgreen‘s Human Bites.

Different? How? Well, it can hardly be reduced to words. One must experience Blaise, a larger-than-life Red Bank native and aspiring fashionista now working — and, he’s the first to tell you, performing — at Dor L’Dor, a womenswear shop on Broad Street.

On hiatus from the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising to gain experience in the fashion industry, the Red Bank Catholic alum returned to the borough  after taking a couple years to live in New York, where he says he really started to feel comfortable with who he was. While there, he had a beauty mark tattooed next to his right eye.

“My mother always told me, ‘know your audience,’ ” he says. “I’m never going to change who I am, but I can change the level or degree of who I am.”

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REFLECTIONS ON 30 YEARS AT THE SLICER

humanbites_fairwinds1 Warren Abrahamson with his daughter, Corinne, and some neighborhood clients at Fairwinds Deli in Fair Haven. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Bites1_SmallFor 30 years, Fairwinds Deli has been serving up belly-busting lunches in Fair Haven. By the end of the summer, the aprons and slicers will be boxed up and moved out. But this is nothing to lose your lunch over. Really. Owner Warren Abrahamson is riding a zephyr, not a squall, out of 770 River Road. Abrahamson tells redbankgreen he’s renovating property just a short walk away, at 698 798 River Road, and will open a new and improved Fairwinds Deli.

“It’ll be bigger. It’ll be my own,” said Abrahamson, 46.

In this edition of Human Bites, redbankgreen sits down with Abrahamson, of Middletown, to feed him some questions.

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