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Chestnuts in our kitchen. The roasted ones on the left, safely made in our oven.  Blogfinger photo. ©

A successful peel. Internet photo.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger  (with the assistance of Eileen Goldfinger, food editor)

When I was a kid, my grandmother would roast chestnuts, but not over an open fire.  She had a big black stove in her kitchen.  Inside the top she would put coal into the chamber and set it on fire. Then she closed the flap and we had a hot surface for our chestnuts.   We would cut little X’s into the top of the chestnuts and lay them down on the top of the stove.  Then you would wait until they began to burst open and they were ready.  But sometimes, and this was the best part, one would literally explode and bits of chestnuts would fly all over the room.

At Wegman’s they have a barrel full, and this is the peak season for chestnuts.  But when you buy them, be sure to cook them soon because they don’t have a good shelf life and they can get rotten or moldy. They also are pricey at $6.50 per pound.

If you have an open fireplace, that is the most romantic way to do it, but we made ours in the oven.  The oven is set to 425 degrees. Cut the little X’s on top to allow moisture to escape before placing them in the oven on a flat pan;  and then remove them 20-25 minutes later.

Peeling them when they are done cooking can be a little tricky, but eating them while warm is the best way and they are quite delicious with a chewy nutty flavor. When they are done cooking, put a cloth over them for 20 minutes, and that makes the peeling easier. There is a semi-hard (I hate that adjective) outer shell and a light brown membrane inside to peel away.

It’s fun to make chestnuts with the kids.

THE CHRISTMAS SONG:  Mel Tormé wrote it and sang it, but the best known version is  by Nat “King” Cole.  However, I love musical surprises, so here is an unexpected  “Christmas Song” by Bob Dylan who, believe it or not, has a Christmas album called Christmas in the Heart.   I think that’s a funny title, but his rendition is quirky and heartfelt, and, for something different, he’s a Jewish guy from Minnesota. Go  figure!

By  Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.net.

This article was inspired by a comment from a Grover, Nancy Clarke:    She asked, “When did a member of the Township Committee go to jail?    Who was it? Are they a member of the current Committee?”

In the fall of 2007, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced that “Three more Monmouth County officials get prison terms for corruption”   This announcement came from the U.S. Department of Justice, District of New Jersey, 970 Broad Street, Seventh floor, Newark, NJ 07102

One of these  officials was Richard Iadanza, the former Deputy Mayor of Neptune Township. He received four months in  in prison, four months home confinement with electronic monitoring, a $4,000 fine, and three years of supervised release.

He pleaded guilty to extortion. He admitted accepting $3,000 in two cash payments in return for his official assistance in securing government contracts for an FBI undercover company.

His sentence had been reduced because he cooperated in two FBI investigations.

In 2005,  the former Director of the Monmouth County Board of Freeholders , Harry Larrison, Jr., was charged with accepting $8,500 in bribes to help real estate developers win approval for their construction projects.  (our source is the NY Times. April 28, 2015. The italics are ours)  The charges were brought by US Attorney Christopher J. Christie.  It was part of a federal investigation into corruption “that has led to criminal cases against 15 local officials so far.”

“Larrison accepted bribes three times in 2001 and 2002. He was 39 years in that job and was the longest serving freeholder in New Jersey history.”  Mr. Christie said that “Harry Larrison is one of the most enduring political figures in Monmouth Count and has long held himself out to be a fine public servant.  In fact, as alleged, he used his power, prestige and political clout to corruptly serve himself. This is more of what we’ve already seen in Monmouth County, and we will persist in our efforts with the F.B.I to uncover all public corruption in Monmouth County.”

According to the Times, “The federal investigation  which has been underway for four years, has led to a variety of corruption charges against low-level officials, including accusations of bid rigging, bribery, and money laundering.  Federal agents said that they had used informants to secretly tap-record conversations between elected officials who were willing to trade official favors for cash, or, in one case for free paving on a driveway.”

Also the Times reported that the county prosecutor had been accused by federal officials of interfering with the investigation.”

Larrison went to jail

In February 2005, the New York Times also reported:

“Mr. Christie said the corruption festered “against a backdrop of greed, arrogance and entitlement in which the officials traded contracts for cash.”

“These complaints portray a shocking eagerness and ease with which these public officials engaged in criminal activity, to trade contracts for cash or even to be involved in money laundering,” Mr. Christie said in a news release.

“The roundup is the latest in a series of crackdowns in Monmouth County, which included the arrest and conviction two years ago of the city manager of Asbury Park, who was also the mayor of Ocean Township, and four other local officials. In an age of campaign finance violations and other modern-era instances involving money and politics, the accusations are the type of old-fashioned municipal corruption charges which have long tainted New Jersey politics.”

“The public officials were picked up based on federal complaints in early-morning raids by as many as 100 F.B.I. agents in teams of six to eight, who rousted them from their beds. Later, the men appeared in court wearing leg irons and handcuffs but, casually dressed and all middle-aged, they resembled a gathering of a civic club rather than one of the biggest corruption roundups in New Jersey’s recent history. All were released on $50,000 personal recognizance.”

The Times  in Feb. 2005 also reported on “11 NJ officials being arrested including 3 mayors.  These arrests were developed over 4 years using a “sting” undercover contractor.  One was an Asbury Park councilman.”  Here is a taste of how these things work:

“In one case, a criminal complaint says, the contractor put in a driveway worth about $5,000 at the home of an Asbury Park councilman, in return for a promise that the councilman would help him get public work.”

“In another case, the mayor of Hazlet, Paul Coughlin, was urged by an unnamed public official from another municipality to do business with the contractor, saying “Nobody watches, nobody hears, nobody sees,” a complaint says.”

“Another official, a former mayor of Middletown Township, told the undercover agents not to worry about detection because he “could smell a cop a mile away,” the federal officials said.”

Clearly, local officials can get caught up in schemes to make money derived from abusing their positions in government.

It’s important for citizens to be vigilant and to pay attention to what is going on in our town, Ocean Grove, as we observe suspicious activities and lack of transparency on the part of local government that favors developers—activities that seem to defy the expectation that officials will do what is best for the residents and home-owners in the Grove.

We are accusing no one currently in office or now working for the Township of doing anything criminal, but these examples above teach us to not be naive.

ORIGINAL CAST OF FIORELLO:

Snow time in the Grove.

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Main Avenue.  Sunday morning By Moe Demby, Blogfinger staff. © Dec. 10. 2017.

 

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Saturday night, Dec. 9, 2017 By Moe Demby. “No one was around on Main Avenue.” © Blogfinger staff photograph.

 

NANCY LAMOTT:  “All Those Christmas Clichés”

 

 

 

Jean Bredin fogs Santa’s left eye. Dec. 9, 2017. Ocean Grove, NJ

Jean Bredin attended the tree lighting ceremony tonight where Santa either harassed her or she sat on his lap willingly.  We suspect the latter because Jean says that there is a Santa Claus.

According to Jean,    “I believe in him because…..

“I attended tonight’s events at the Great Auditorium.
The Live Nativity, tree lighting, caroling, and last but not least, Santa.
This is what Christmas means to me.”

Santa attends the tree lighting. He was observed to say, “Ho,ho, ho.” Santa is a man of few words. Jean Bredin photographs at Auditorium Square Park.

 

Santa charms a little girl. Someday Santa will be a woman—

 

 

The boys in the band provide accompaniment for the carolers.

 

BOBBY HELMS:

 

 

WASSUP? Ocean Grove

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“Are moo looking at me?” The Blogfinger cow staff is alert for Wassup news in Ocean Grove.

a.  In January, Bernadette Peters will replace Bette Midler in the hit revival of Hello Dolly.  That should be terrific.  Peters is best known for her Sondheim work.  Jerry Hermon wrote Dolly.

DAVID HYDE PIERCE   and the Broadway Cast,  from the 2017 version off Hello Dolly:  “It Takes a Woman”

 

b.    Photograph of the week:

Skateboarding by the tents. Down Santa Claus Lane. Paul Goldfinger ©. Summer, 2017.

PUPPINI SISTERS:

 

c.   Be uplifted and watch this  (submitted by Eileen, our Food Editor)

d.  Two rental stores on Main Avenue were listed by an internet realtor as of a few days ago for the pizza building #58-60 Main Ave..   It was the Pet Boutique and the DJ grocery advertised for $2,500 per month rental two days ago, but today  12/10/17, those ads had been removed.

The ads mentioned that there were luxury apartments upstairs.  Evidently, the NYC owner (Sackman) sees OG as a high end town deserving of high rental prices.   This seems like the Asbury Park upscale syndrome spreading across the Lake.  The stores will be vacated as of the New Year due to those high rent increases and other factors.

Years ago we saw that happen in Manhattan on Madison Avenue (uptown) and in SoHo.

 

 

 

 

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William Heatley was taking a ride in a banner plane over the beach in OG. It was August, 1981, and he took this photo. Note the extent to which OG was built-up even in 1981. © Special to Blogfinger.net

By Paul Goldfinger,  Editor @Blogfinger.net

Wesley Lake is to the right. The North End Hotel had been torn down, but the salt water swimming pool remains.  You can see the outlines of the North End area which will be “re-developed” according to the current (as of 2017) Township Plan, and imagine where the condos will be along Lake Avenue, Spray Avenue, and the Ocean. Then imagine a hotel there which probably will actually become condos.  Oh, and don’t forget the parking garage underground, stores, and new North End boardwalk.

The process is currently dead in the water, but we are keeping an eye on it along with the OGHOA, although the latter has been a champion of the plan, and we have not. The NERP is an example of Neptune Township taking the side of developers.

The question is why does the Township choose to support developers over the best interests of the people who live in Ocean Grove?  That is an old problem which has continued in the recent past, and that is why we have over 300 condo units in town, without parking  (except for Embury Arms), and why we are suspicious of activities such as will determine the future of the Warrington site.

Some will say that the reason is simple: the Township wants more ratables.  20 condos bring in more money than one Victorian single  family house.  But the blatant targeting of Ocean Grove will continue to cause increasing congestion and result in the town’s  losing its character and its history.  And if that happens, the value of homes in the Grove will decline, and that would reduce the “cash cow” profits.—a counterintuitive result for the tax-hungry Neptune administration.  So the tax angle doesn’t seem convincing enough as an explanation.

Others who are more cynical say, “Follow the money.”  A member of the Township Committee went to jail some time ago as did some officials in A. Park and elsewhere in Monmouth County.

So it is not outside the realm of reality that there may be some shenanigans going on here. We have been watching the methodology of how things are done in the Grove, such as the manipulation of zoning by the Land Use Department in Neptune and the lack of transparency on the part of elected Neptune officials.

Endless one party rule is not good for our town regardless of which party is in charge. It is un-American.

dances

THE CAST OF FIORELLO  (Broadway show)

Around town with Jean Bredin, Blogfinger staff. 12/9/17 ©

 

Jean Bredin says,  “There were lots of photo ops in this beautiful Christmas setting…”   It was the day of the Christmas House Tours in historic Ocean Grove, NJ

FRANK SINATRA:   From his album Concepts.  “By gosh by golly, it’s time for mistletoe and  holly.”

 

 

By Paul Goldfinger, Photography editor @Blogfinger.net

Tina Brown is the former editor of Vanity Fair and the New Yorker magazines.  Her new book, the  (edited) Vanity Fair Diaries (1983-1992) has been released to great acclaim.  She has lots of stories to tell about her 8 years at the helm of the often controversial Vanity Fair.  (Remember the naked and pregnant Demi Moore on the cover in August 1991 by photographer Annie Leibovitz)

Regarding the June, 1985 Reagan cover, Tina preferred an image of the Reagans kissing.  She though it was wonderful because, despite achieving great heights, the couple remained deeply in love.  But Nancy Reagan insisted on this photo of them dancing.  Tina Brown discussed the cover during a radio interview today with the book editor at The New York Post.

The photographer, Harry Benson, is a  Scottish photographer who is most famous for his images of celebrities. Remember the Beatles’ pillow fight—that’s by Harry.

 

THE CAST OF HELLO DOLLY STARRING BETTE MIDLER:  “Put On Your Sunday Clothes.”  —or your birthday suit.

 

Coney Island. Undated. By Paul Goldfinger. Blogfinger.net. ©

Coney Island. My lucky star.  Undated. By Paul Goldfinger. Blogfinger.net. ©  Reposted from 2015.

THE EXCELLENTS  (They were in the GA in June, 2015)

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor  and Jack Bredin, research/reporter @Blogfinger

The Neptune Township Committee will present Resolution #17-469 at their next meeting on December 11, 2017. It is about a law suit that has been filed by the Warrington property owner against the Township.

The Township has said that the fire on March 3, 2017, which totally destroyed the derelict hotel, has resulted in the owner’s losing his prior construction approvals.  But the resolution makes reference to plans for a basement innkeeper’s apartment. At no time does Resolution #17-469 make it clear that the approvals for a remodeled boutique hotel are now null and void because the building was totally destroyed in the fire of March 3, 2017.

The Neptune Committee will be authorizing a special counsel to defend the suit.  They have authorized legal fees up to $5,000.00 .

Below is the Resolution from the Committee agenda for December 11.

It gives the impression, by focusing on that basement apartment, that perhaps the Township and the owner are trying to create a diversionary strategy that would, in the end, allow that hotel (or condominiums) to be built, using a plan that would seek relief from a judge.

But unlike the Surf Avenue Hotel situation where the zoning change for condos was granted before that fire, the Warrington never received a variance to put up a NEW hotel or condominiums. So Neptune should insist on single family homes.  And, there are also a basketful of violations that would have to be overcome and which were listed in our article on Dec. 7 on the “Worrisome Warrington,”  Blogfinger.net.

We challenge Mayor Brantley to acknowledge that since the Warrington was destroyed in the fire, no prior approvals are valid now and that Neptune Township will not allow a hotel or a condominium to be built at that site.

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From the agenda for Neptune Township Committee meeting on Dec. 11, 2017. Blogfinger photo © CLICK FOR EASY READING.

WEEZER