MMC expands labor, delivery and postpartum services

Long Branch — Monmouth Medical Center, an RWJBarnabas Health facility, held a dedication ceremony to celebrate the newly renovated and expanded Labor and Delivery Unit at the Eisenberg Family Center. The unit features completely renovated labor and delivery suites, additional triage rooms, and an expansive, centrally located nurses’ station.

Monmouth Medical Center was presented with a Joint Legislative Resolution recognizing the hospital’s commitment to women’s health, wellness and safety. From left, Bill Arnold, President and CEO of Monmouth Medical Center, Congressman Frank Pallone Jr., Claire Knopf, Chairman of the Monmouth Medical Center Foundation Board of Trustees, Suzanne Spernal, Administrative Director of Women’s Services at Monmouth, Laura Eisenberg Barr, daughter of Lewis and Judith Eisenberg for whom Monmouth’s maternity unit is named, Long Branch Mayor John Pallone, Robert Graebe, MD, Chair & Program Director, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and Dr. Michael Salvatore, Superintendent of Long Branch Public Schools.

The Eisenberg Family Center has undergone several major updates recently, including a new wing of its postpartum unit, with spacious private postpartum rooms for new mothers recovering from childbirth.

A leader in maternity services, Monmouth Medical Center delivers more babies than any other hospital in Monmouth and Ocean counties and is ranked fourth in the state for most deliveries with more than 5,500 births annually. Monmouth Medical Center has been a Level III Regional Perinatal Center since the designation was initiated over 40 years. In 2014, Monmouth Medical Center introduced Perinatal and Mood Anxiety Disorders Program, making it the first and only hospital in New Jersey to offer a dedicated treatment center where new and expectant mothers can receive comprehensive care for perinatal mood and anxiety disorder (PMAD).

In attendance at the celebration were Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. and his brother, Long Branch Mayor John Pallone, who were both born at Monmouth Medical Center, as well as Laura Eisenberg Barr, daughter of Lewis and Judith Eisenberg, for whom Monmouth’s maternity unit, The Eisenberg Family Center, is named.

During the ceremony, Mayor Pallone spoke about how Monmouth Medical Center continues to lead the way in safety for moms and babies, as well as the surrounding community as a whole, and noted how special this event was to him personally, as both he and his brother, Frank, were born at the hospital.

“The new labor and delivery unit is one important piece in Monmouth Medical Center’s multi-million-dollar investment in the facility, which will benefit the Long Branch community for years to come,” said Mayor Pallone.

Robert Graebe, M.D., Chairman and Program Director of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Chief of Reproductive Endocrinology at Monmouth Medical Center, noted that to address the rising concerns of maternal health, RWJBarnabas Health and Monmouth Medical Center are active members of a systemwide Obstetric Collaborative Group formed to better the quality and safety of care delivered to New Jersey women.

“We are proud leaders and advocates for women’s health, wellness and safety,” says Dr. Graebe. “We have built one of the safest obstetrical and gynecologic services in the state and continue to expand and upgrade our facility utilizing best practices and the latest technology to ensure the highest levels of patient safety and quality of care are consistently met.”

“Most people have the misconception that maternal health is defined by a period of nine months when it really is a continuum of care that begins when women are very young and lasts throughout their reproductive years,” added Suzanne. “The health of a nation and the communities within them is often measured by maternal and infant outcomes. The expansion of the Labor and Delivery Unit will allow us to provide quality care to even more women and is just another way to demonstrate our commitment to the health and well being of all of the women and their families in our community.”

The Labor and Delivery Unit at Monmouth Medical Center offers at least two attending Ob/Gyn physicians and Ob/Gyn resident physicians on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. This is in addition to an attending anesthesiologist, a neonatal intensive care specialist and full hospital support staff. On-call neonatal and perinatal sub specialists are available 24 hours a day for immediate consultation.

Monmouth Medical Center was a pioneer in New Jersey in offering a full-time Laborist Program. This distinctive program increases patient safety with ‘round-the-clock Laborist physicians who are board-certified obstetricians with Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics national certification to monitor patients and perform deliveries on an “as-needed” basis. Monmouth Medical Center also developed one of the first Obstetrical Rapid Response Team in the state, ready to respond to all obstetrical emergencies.

“Patient safety and positive outcomes are at the heart of everything we do,” said Dr. Graebe. “It is this focus and our dedicated and talented clinical and support staff that has earned us the recognition as being a national model for excellence in obstetrics.”

The Eisenberg Family Center renovations and expansions are part of the hospital’s $35 Million infrastructure and investment plan the hospital embarked on earlier this year. The improvements also include day surgery and patient units, a renovation of the postpartum unit, creation of a new interventional radiology suite with new MRI units, as well as general infrastructure upgrades.

“Last year, Monmouth Medical Center began to make essential infrastructure upgrades and other improvements to help us maintain and enhances services in Long Branch for our community,” said Bill Arnold, President and Chief Executive Officer of Monmouth Medical Center. “The upgrades and enhancements, including the ones made to the Eisenberg Family Unit in Labor and Delivery, will provide us with the ability to expand critical services for our patients within our existing primary service area.”

To learn more about the Eisenberg Family Center at Monmouth Medical Center, call 732-732-7755.

Unity Tent to connect the city

Long Branch — Shine: Women of Long Branch, will present a Unity Tent as part of the West End Arts Center’s annual fall festival.

On September 15, 1-6 p.m. (raindate Sept. 16), the Unity Tent Event will take place at the West End Arts Center, West End Avenue. This is an opportunity to bring the community together to celebrate everyone’s individuality as well as their similarities.

The Unity Tent will be a circus tent theme with 40 poles as “identifiers,” such as “I am a parent,” “I am a student,” “I am single,” “I speak English as a second language” etc. The participants will connect colored ribbons to the poles they identify with creating a beautiful canopy illustrating all we have in common.

The project celebrates the uniqueness of individuals as well as illustrating the impact of labels on our perception of and interactions with the world. In the end we see that we are all connected in some way.

In order for the Unity Tent to be a successful community project, organizers are asking you to consider making a donation by visiting Donations of any amount will be greatly appreciated or you can choose to sponsor one of the 40 identifiers for $75 and have your name and/or business featured.
West End Arts Center is hosting Shine: Women of Long Branch as part of their annual fall festival themed “When The Circus Comes To Town.”

The festival runs from September 21–September 30 at the arts center.

If you choose to sponsor an identifier please send your information and/or business name and logo to shine100women@­
For more information contact Susan Marco, 732-500-7843; Andrea Phox, 917-545-2538 or email

Roadwork Hits Roadblocks

By Patty Booth O’Neill

Long Branch — The whole thing started with a bump in the road, and along the way they hit a few more, literally and figuratively.

Up until last week the water to homes came from a hose hooked up by the water company to the water supply main at the sidewalk.

Taken last Wednesday in this condition, this driveway is now smoothed out. Hopefully by the end of the week, cars will have access to the street.

There is a hump that runs across North Fifth Ave. that’s caused by the old Conrail railroad tracks. Built in the 1800s, a train line used to run through Long Branch to New York beginning in Eatontown. The line was shut down in the 1960s but the tracks still remain, as does the Conrail right of way — tracts of vacant land that still run through Long Branch and local towns. Over the years some residents have “adopted” the land and take care of it, but do not own it.

The hump created by the tracks has been the cause of flooding on North Fifth and the city decided to have the hump graded down.

The work began at the end of May — and eleven weeks later the road remains closed to through traffic. Residents who live where the road is torn up can’t park in their driveways, and more than a few are getting impatient about the ordeal.

“We weren’t even told what was going on,” a few residents complained. “One day construction began and our front lawns and street were torn up!”

That was over 11 weeks ago. “We think it’s only fair that we should have been informed, at least tell us when it will end.”

“My heart goes out to those people,” said City Administrator Kevin Hayes. “They shouldn’t have to go through this. It’s been a nightmare.” Hayes said he goes down there every day to check on the progress.

He said that rain has been a big factor in delaying construction and so has complications with utility companies, water and gas. “Sometimes one has to wait for the other,” Hayes said.

“It’s coming up on three months,” said one resident. “It’s getting tiresome to drag our groceries to our house because we have to park down the street. It’s even worse for those who have children.”

Mayor John Pallone said when he realized that the project had been going on for so long he, along with councilwomen Anita Voogt and Rose Widdis, went door to door on Fifth Ave. to assure people that the city was trying to resolve the problem.

“We wanted them to know that we are here and listening,” he said. “We really appreciate their patience.”

“We hope to have the street at least graded and opened for traffic so people can get to their homes by the end of the week,” said David Barattucci, who works for Carroccia Contractors, the company in charge of grading and paving the street. He was finishing up work for the day on Tuesay evening.

He said the rainwater used to run through grates that ran over driveways. They’ve removed the old system and have put in 48-inch pipes that will be able to handle higher quantities of water. “Those pipes (not hooked up to anything yet) are in preparation for phase two of the project,” he said.

Phase two will require digging up the grassy area of the Conrail right of way that runs east/west and laying new pipes. The 48 inch pipes now running along North Fifth will connect to those pipes and bring water to a retention system near Rockwell Ave. and Halberton.

“That phase will probably begins next year,” Hayes said. “Definitely not this year.”

Lowering the profile of the hump will create a gradual two foot dip in the road so the water will run along the curb and into the new grates.

“We hope to have the road graded by the end of the week,” Barattucci said. “We will get a lot of work tomorrow,” he said. “Depending on the rain.”

Construction timeline

City officials say asphalt installation on North Fifth Avenue is scheduled to finish up by the end of next week, weather permitting.
There have been delays in the project. The contractor for the road needs the water company to complete its work first before it can implement parts of its schedule.

In addition, forecasts call for rain most of the week, which may mean that the roadwork could have to be altered because of the weather.
But if things go according to plan, this week began with the contractor removing curbs and sidewalks.

On July 27, they will be installing new concrete curb and sidewalks.

July 30 is the day when they complete grading and initiate base asphalt  which should be completed on July 31.

On Aug. 1, they will complete any remaining milling and clean up.

August 2 calls for completing the top course asphalt installation.

Team Rio makes history in the JSBL

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr

For the first time in the 48-year history of the Jersey Shore Basketball League a team consisting of exclusively high school all-stars played a game against a JSBL squad.

Going in for a dunk is Bryan Antoine (1) of Team Rio National during the loss to Doughboys in Jersey Shore Basketball League action last Tuesday.

Team Rio National, an AAU squad coached by former Rutgers head coach Mike Rice, features high school all-stars from the tristate area played an exhibition game against one of the newest teams in the JSBL, Doughboys.

Greg Kopalko, Chairman of the JSBL and previous team owner, wanted to do something different this summer and to bring a spark back into the league.

In its glory years the league had former or current NBA players make appearances along with the Division 1 players and those who play or played overseas. Last year, history was made when the first female played in a game for the back-to-back champions Sea View Jeep. So, Kopalko contacted Rice to see if his team would be willing to make an appearance in the JSBL.

Originally the game was scheduled for opening night against one of the most competitive teams in the JSBL – Sterns Trailer – however, insurance complications were not worked out in time for that game. Kopalko and Rice then came to an agreement on July 17, and the opponent was Doughboys.

Most of the players on Doughboys have a strong connection to the area. Louie Pillari played at CBA and is now at Monmouth University, Brendan Barry from Rumson-Fair Haven and Dartmouth, Devin Jensen out of Manasquan and Merrimack, and Jason Dunn from Matawan and Hartford along with a few other guys where the opponents for Team Rio. Austin Whitehurst, who played at Monmouth Regional High School and Brookdale, is the head coach of the Doughboys.

Scottie Lewis, 6’5” high school player from Ranney School in Tinton Falls along with his teammate Bryan Antoine, who is 6’7” were two local guys who led Team Rio National in the game. “I have been hearing about the JSBL since I moved to Jersey,” said Lewis who has lived in Hazlet since sixth grade. “A lot of the area players get together and it’s just a great competition and fun thing to be a part of. So when we go invited, we jumped at the opportunity.”

Doughboys took control early and Team Rio looked a bit nervous for the first few minutes. Then the high school players settled into the game and did what they do best. Run fast, jump high and make great shots. Some of the JSBL fans and coaches thought the game would be a blowout with Doughboys winning by 20 points. They were so wrong!

Antoine said that during the AAU games he and his teammates can usually find one weak player on their opponent’s team and attack that player. “We can’t do that tonight as Doughboys have Division 1 players with lots of experience and some of those guys are really big at 6’8” and are very crafty with the ball.”

JSBL games are usually high scoring as defense is not as visible and Team Rio National took advantage of that and played aggressive defense. They even applied full court pressure, something you never see in a league game.

The result was that Doughboys really worked hard for their 130-123 victory. Pillari was high man for the winners with 33 points and three assists. Barry finished with 25 points, four assists and three steals.

Leading Team Rio National was Antoine with 29 points. He also had three assists, one steal, one block and one turnover and four rebounds. Lewis finished with 28 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and committed five turnovers.


Long Branch lifeguards excel at championships

By Skip Pierce, Photos by S. Weiner

The Long Branch Women’s Lifeguard team won three of the six events outright and finished no worse than third in any event at the fifth annual Monmouth County All-Women’s Lifeguard Tournament.

Ten area beach squads competed in the tourney hosted by Asbury Park. Participating teams included Long Branch, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Monmouth County Park System (Seven Presidents), Belmar, Asbury Park, Manasquan, Ocean Grove, Bradley Brach and Avon.

Lauren Joyce finishers her leg of the relay. Photos by S. Weiner

Long Branch picked up their first win in the second event of the day, the Surf Boat Race. The boat manned by Abigail George and Cassidy Stimpson got off to a good start benefiting from a strong launch by a quartet of male guards. The boats battled strong waves going out which created a tight race. However, the LB craft executed a perfect turn at the buoy to take the lead. The race concluded with University of North Carolina – Wilmington bound Stimpson emerging from the boat and sprinting up the beach to the finish. Spring Lake finished second followed by Bradley Beach.

The second LB victory came in the very next event, the Paddle Board Relay. There are three participants on each squad who individually navigate a course marked by buoys on a paddle board. Each competitor then hands off the board to a teammate who repeats the course as part of the relay.

Gwen Bencie, a newcomer to the Long Branch squad, executed the lead off leg and handed off to former UMass swimmer Hayley Masi in first place with Spring Lake and Sea Girt mere seconds behind. Masi held the lead around the buoys but Sea Girt’s Caroline Gmelich caught a good wave coming back to the shore to take the lead for her squad. LB anchor and Iona College swimmer Isabelle Pabon hit the water with determination and overtook the Sea Girt guard at the first buoy. Pabon extended her lead through the balance of the course for a comfortable victory. Sea Girt held on for second place and Avon passed Spring Lake for third.

Long Branch ended the day in upbeat fashion by capturing their third win in Beach Flags, the final event of the afternoon. This event is run in heats of two competitors who start by lying face down on the beach and at the sound of the whistle sprint 25 yards to finish and claim victory by

Team photo

grasping a flag at the end. This is a physically challenging event with much jockeying for position during a driving sprint in the deep sand. With each heat the winner advances and the losers are eliminated.

Following all the elimination heats the final came down to LB’s MaryKate and Caroline Gmelich of Sea Girt. The pair battled stride for stride in the final with elbows swinging and sand flying behind the runners. The Ohio State-bound George gave up her body with a desperate dive at the finish to grasp the flag by the closest of margins.

Long Branch took a second place in the most versatile event, the Medley Relay. This relay is comprised of four components: beach run, swim, paddle board and kayak. LB led the event until the final seconds.

Isabelle Pabon anchors the paddle board team to victory

Samantha Hoagland finished the lead off beach run leg in second place. Lauren Joyce gained the lead for LB during the swim leg. Gwen Bencie then established a decisive advantage in the paddle board segment. Clemson swimmer Elesabeth Racioppi handled the final leg on the kayak. She maintained the lead throughout the course until the last push to the beach. The Sea Girt competitor caught a rogue wave that brought her kayak directly in front of the LB craft causing it to flip over and relegating Long Branch to a second place finish.

Long Branch finished second in the Swim Relay with a squad comprised of Malia Wolf (Lehigh University), Kayleigh Hoagland (Holy Cross) and Loyola bound Lauren Joyce. LB also took third place in the Line Pull manned by Malia Wolf and Cassidy Stimpson.

MaryKate George, (right) competing in the Beach Flags event, dives for the flag beating her opponent in a close contest.

Gwen Bencie gives it her all on the paddle board

Park work delayed so more options can be proposed

By Neil Schulman

Oceanport — The Parks and Recreation Committee has been asked to go back to the drawing board on plans to fix up Evergreen Park.

Peaceful Evergreen Park set off the beaten path, has parts that are in dire need of repair.

While the small playground is in good shape and cared for, the dilapidated and unkept basketball court needs an upgrade.

At the July 19 Borough Council meeting, there was a resolution on the agenda to hire an engineer to do work on the park to repair and improve the basketball court, provide new fencing, and make an ADA compliant path to the playground equipment and basketball court.

Borough Administrator Raymond Poerio said these parts of the park were “in desperate need of repair.”

“From the recreation committee’s perspective, this is one of the two top projects they’d like to get done,” he said.

The contract would have gone to engineer Mott McDonald for a price not to exceed $17,400.

But two council members on the Finance Committee said it needed to be talked about more.

“I don’t recall having much discussion about this,” said Councilman Robert Proto.

Proto wanted to know why the project had been awarded without a bid. Poerio said that Mott MacDonald was one of a couple of firms the borough had authorized to do engineering work for Oceanport this year, and bidding wasn’t necessary since this was considered a professional contract.

Poerio said he didn’t want to discuss the possible price of the project — officials usually don’t discuss financial figures for something which might be going out to bid — but did say that engineering expenses are typically 10-20 percent of the total cost.

“You’re saying this project could cost $175,000?” Proto asked.

Later in the meeting, Mayor Coffey said that the park work was estimated at $115,000.

Council President Joe Irace wasn’t sure this was a good use of the borough’s funds. The money would have come from $300,000 in open space grants that Oceanport has already received.

Irace noted that Oceanport recently purchased 13 acres on Fort Monmouth to use as a new municipal complex. Since much of that will be open space, he said the grant might be better used by taxpayers to pay down that multi-million dollar expense.

“We talked about how there wouldn’t be open space projects until we’re done with [the new] borough hall,” Irace said.

Councilman William Deerin, Rec Committee liaison, said that this is the only park in the neighborhood, and much of it is in bad shape.

“The park’s in desperate need to be redone,” he said. “The playground is in fine shape, but the court and the fence is dangerous.”

Coffey said that it’s also the only full size basketball court in the park. The proposal actually calls for expanding the court slightly, as right now the borders are on the edge of the fence, which means players can run into it.

“It’s like playing in someone’s yard where the hoop’s on the garage,” he said.

“It sounds like the Cadillac of basketball courts,” Proto complained.

“If it’s the Chevy Nova of basketball courts, is that okay?” responded Coffey.

Irace said this was unfortunately typical of how projects were done in Oceanport.

“There’s never a happy medium. It’s always do nothing or … a Cadillac of a job.”

He wondered if the park would be okay with a smaller court, or a half court or some other less expensive option. Or maybe he said, children will need to go a mile or so to one of the parks with a basketball court.

But, Irace said, spending must be carefully monitored.

“You’ll see it next year, with the taxes,” he said.

The Recreation Committee has been asked to examine alternatives and come back with some more options for council to consider.

During the public portion, resident Mark Patterson, who grew up in the neighborhood, said that he had concerns with one of those suggested alternatives.

“You said it was just a short drive across town, but for me when I was a kid, it was a short walk,” he noted. It was something that could be done much easier.

Still, Patterson said he understood the problems.

“I get the dollars and cents about it.”

LB Mayor: I understand MTOTSA on tax abatements

By Neil Schulman

Long Branch — The new administration will continue to grant tax abatements for developments in the Marine Terrace, Ocean Terrace and Seaview Avenue neighborhoods.

In April, John Pallone, then a councilman, and Councilwoman Dr. Mary Jane Celli voted against granting a five-year tax abatement to a proposed development on Marine Terrace. (It still passed, with the other three council members voting in favor of it.)

Since then, Pallone was elected mayor, and Celli is the sole returning councilperson, running with Pallone’s team, which swept the elections. Pallone and Celli had run on a campaign platform which accused the previous administration of providing too many tax breaks to oceanfront development.

At the July 11 City Council meeting, the first since Pallone was sworn in as mayor, Ocean Terrace resident Lori Ann Vendetti said she was “looking forward to a new start in Long Branch,” but had concerns about Pallone and Celli’s previous vote.

Vendetti was a member of MTOTSA, a group of Marine Terrace, Ocean Terrace and Seaview Avenue residents who filed a suit against the city in the 2000s over its use of eminent domain to redevelop the neighborhood. As part of a 2009 settlement, the city agreed to allow property owners who developed the neighborhood a five-year tax abatement.

She noted this was much smaller than the 30-year abatement that Pier Village Phase III had received, and the city had signed the agreement for this nearly a decade ago.

She said she wanted the council to understand the history of the situation.

“There’s going to be other property owners coming for that,” she said. “These people are entitled to it.”

Pallone said that he has learned more about the MTOTSA area since he made that vote.

“Since then, we’ve received a lot more information,” he said. “We understand exactly your position.”

* * *

In other redevelopment news, during the workshop portion of the meeting, council heard from developers for the Stavola Property on Ocean Terrace and Seaview Avenue, who are seeking ordinances adjusting the right-of-ways in the area as part of an already approved plan.

The developers plan to build a dozen luxury houses on the property, and says that getting these right-of-ways will allow it to make improvements to the roadways and parking in the area.

Developers said that work on the public properties would come first, because homes will be built to purchasers specifications, and that could take some time. Homes will be customized, but within a set of architectural guidelines the city has already approved.

The minimum lot size for these properties is 3,000-4,000 square feet. Some will be larger.

Attorney Pat McNamara, representing the developers, said they predict the impact on the school systems will be “pretty minimal.” If people live in these homes year-round, demographics suggest they will likely only have two or three children. It’s also possible these will be used as summer homes since they are so close to the ocean.

Each home will have its own driveway and garage for parking.


Sterns Trailer powers past RKE Athletic 131-119

By Walter J. O’Neill, Jr

Tuesday of last week Sterns Trailer beat RKE Athletic 131-119 in Jersey Shore Basketball League action. The games are played at St. Rose High School in Belmar and feature Division 1 and professional basketball players.


Driving to the hoop for Sterns Trailer is Larry Smith (3) who finished with 15 points in the win over RKE Athletic.

From the beginning Sterns Trailer was in complete control of the game. Neil Thompson, graduate of Monmouth Regional and Brookdale, was the top man for Sterns with 33 points. He just missed a triple double as he had 15 assists and seven rebounds.

Jerome Hubbard, Neptune HS and Stockton graduate, holds the JSBL for three-point shots in a season. He is normally dead-on from outside the arch. The RKE Athletic game was only his second of the season, and he took 23 shots from the three-point area making eight. He finished with 31 points.

Mike Aaman, Raritan HS and Wagner College, finished with 22 points and 13 rebounds. The 6’10” center also had one block. Larry Smith who played at North Texas had 15 and Matt Ringel finished with 12 points.

Currently Sterns is in first place with a 4-1 record. They are followed by Larson Ford, Orthopaedic Institute, Seaview Jeep, RKE Athletic, and Doughboys.

Dage Dayne (10) of RKE Athletic scored 48 points in the 131-119 loss to Sterns Trailer. Dayne leads the JSBL in scoring with 160 points.

Gage Dayne from Bloomfield College, led his RKE squad with 48 points. He also leads the JSBL in scoring with 160 points. Mason Jones from Albertus Mangus, finished with 30, Justin Leith from UNC-Wilmington, finished with 21 points, 23 rebounds and nine assists. Nick Davidson scored 20 points for RKE in the loss.

Sterns Trailer is one of the veteran squads in the league. They were JSBL champions in 2005 with a 106-95 win over Financial USA and in 2012 they beat T&T Coast 110-100. Ron Pastore, former head coach at Long Branch High School and now an assistant at the national powerhouse Brookdale Community College, has been the general manager and head coach since it entered the league.

Pastore, like all the coaches in the JSBL, find themselves each week wondering which of their players will show up. “Many of the guys plays overseas or the Division 1 players have camps or other obligations,” said Pastore. Good coaches know this and always have a few tricks up their sleeve. “I have a few guys on speed dial when I need them.”

RKE Athletic makes their return to the JSBL this summer. Back in 2000 they won the league title and then left the league. Now after 18 years they are back and most of their players are from T&T Coast, which won the title in 2007 and 2010, but did not return this summer.

Rock ‘n Roll Royalty Rocks Monmouth Beach

“Who are you? I really want to know.” Roger Harry Daltrey brought his band of brothers to Monmouth Beach last week to help celebrate Lori and Steve Silverman’s summer extravaganza.

Roger Daltrey rocking away with host Steve Silverman.

Special thanks for being invited to the party of the year (again)! Although, the downside is I’m kind of ruined for future concerts “Hey Richie, you want to go see this concert?”

“Where are the seats?”

“400, 300, 200, 100 level?”

“What?! I’m sorry – I’m used to being front row just 10 feet away from the bestselling artists in history.”

Lori Silverman singing with Roger Daltrey

If you’re still scratching your head you probably know Daltrey more as the lead singer for the English rock band The Who, formed in 1964. Yes, that’s correct, The Who, who has sold more than 100 million records.

They played on a beautiful summer’s day just a few minutes from wherever you were last week. While the band has had its share of players over the years its current lineup speaks to not only my generation but the generation that followed us.

Its current touring line up has the incredible Roger Daltrey singing lead and he’s still got ‘it”! Known for his powerful vocals and rock god good looks, he was excellent while leaving quite a few women gasping for air.

His career has spanned more than 50 years, but you would have never known it ‘cause he was very engaged with the audience, laughing and telling stories about almost every song. I’ve been fortunate to be present for other Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famers but no other artist seemed to enjoy their show as much as he did.

Richie Schwartz

Joining Daltrey was Simon Townshend on acoustic and electric guitars while singing back up on most songs and taking the lead on “Going Mobile.”

There was much more on the entire set list but let me introduce some of the other members of the current lineup. His name is not a typo – if you’re trying to figure out the connection, Simon Townshend is actually the younger brother of The Who’s principle song writer and lead guitarist, Pete Townshend.

Keeping things in the royal family on drums was Zak Starkey. That’s Richard Starkey’s son – maybe you know the father more by his Beatle’s name – Ringo Starr. Starkey has been playing with the Who since the 90’s.

On lead guitar was Frank Turner Simes, who not only serves as musical director, but he tore up every lead and brought power to the power pop songs that many of us grew up with. He was literally a foot from me and I got a great picture of my friend, Linda “Little Feet” Robentello – a local poet and songwriter, with Frank. I’ve included it with this write up; I hope it makes the paper along with many other pictures.

Rounding out the band was John Button on bass and John Corey on keyboards with both singing backing vocals.

For those of you that have followed my columns in the past you’ll know that I believe a show is often only as good as the songs one hears. Perhaps you’ve even gone to concert only to be disappointed that you didn’t get the hits you had come to hear? This was not one of those shows! As a matter of fact, Daltrey shared that Steve Silverman – our host and resident shredder – actually picked out all the songs for the show.

So without further ado let me share a little bit more on the high energy set that went close to 90 minutes.

It’s interesting to note that a few announcements were made before the band took the stage: No drinks on the stage and NO SMOKING of any kind anywhere under the tent. Daltrey has stated that he’s negatively affected by marijuana smoke. Just a few years ago he almost stopped an entire concert at the Nassau Coliseum because he smelled a joint burning. This is not your typical stoner rocker!

So what did they open up with you might ask? I was hoping for Eminence Front in large part from the line “come and join the party dressed to kill!” Which most guests do in spades. Sadly, that was my only miss for the day. They actually started with a Tommy Overture, doing pieces of the rock opera, Tommy. Tommy was and still is today a masterpiece of creative vision.

A first for its time, Tommy was a concept album about the life of a deaf, dumb and blind boy and his attempt to communicate with others.

Townshend has shared many times that he “wanted the story of Tommy to have several levels . . . a rock singles level and a bigger concept level.” When the album was released in May, 1969, it sold an amazing 200,000 copies in its first two weeks in the US.

Life magazine wrote that “for sheer power, invention, and brilliance of performance, Tommy outstrips anything which has ever come out of a recording studio.” Melody Maker went on to write, “Surely, The Who, are now the band against which all others are to be judged.”

For me, I’ll always remember the movie that followed with Daltrey playing the character of Tommy himself. Perhaps it was the sexy Ann Margaret – who played his young mother – that left a more indelible impression. Tina Turner as the Gypsy, Acid Queen was equally captivating and no one will ever forget Elton John as the Gigantic Pinball Wizard.

It was Pinball Wizard that followed the Overture and anyone would know that opening guitar riff as it’s like no other. Oddly enough Townshend said he wrote Pinball Wizard with an eye towards a New York Times journalist, Nik Cohn. Cohn was said to be an avid pinballer and he hoped that Cohn would give the album a better review by including one of Cohn’s passions.

Growing up on the Jersey shore I also loved Pinball, and Bradley Beach had two arcades where I would spend hours and hours pumping quarters in the machines. “I thought I was the Bally table king, but I’ve got to hand my pinball crown to him.”

The next song of the evening was “Who are You.” Released in 1978 it might have gotten overlooked by the death of their original drummer, Keith Moon shortly thereafter. The lyrics of “Who are You” were inspired by many hours of drinking with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of Sex Pistols fame.

Townshend was found in a “SoHo doorway” by a policeman, who said he would let him go *IF he could safely walk away. Years later Who are You became more of an outburst for the younger generation against the older establishment. There are lines in that song that could be used today but newspaper standards prevent me from re-writing them here.

A more obscure cut followed with the song entitled, Another Tricky Day. It was said that the lyrics were inspired by current events of that time and that there was “no social crisis”, saying that this (or any) so-called dilemma is “just another tricky day.” When Daltrey introduced the song he said he had recently seen some footage of our US Congress grilling members of the FBI. He shared that he rarely watches any news but the song fit today just as it did decades ago.

What followed was one of my favorites, because “no one knows what it’s like to be the man Behind Blue Eyes.”

Behind Blue Eyes could have been the inspiration of Townshend’s second rock opera but it never came to be. He had written it for the central character that was always angry and full of angst. For me personally, it’s probably been a little too close to home with my Blue eyes and sometimes “anger management” challenges. Things are not always going to go the way you think they should but how one handles them is really the most important thing I have to remind myself of that often!

Behind Blue Eyes is also one of the first songs I ever thought I sounded pretty good on through my amp while playing guitar.

Without a doubt, Getting in Tune was a major highlight of the concert because Lori Silverman – our most gracious hostess – jumped up on stage and sang with Daltrey. She couldn’t have been any happier and so were all of her guests for her.

Originally released on the 1971 album, Who’s Next, Getting in Tune was praised for its changes in tempo and use of dynamics. Its lyrics describes the power of music . . . need I say more? The song Athena followed which was inspired by a failed encounter for Townshend with the actress Teresa Russel. He was crushed when she didn’t return his infatuations.

After that came I Can See For Miles from the 1967 album, The Who Sell Out.

For its time it represented many of the more complex ways bands like the Beatles, the Beach Boys and The Who were recording. Recording pieces of the song were done in London, New York, and Los Angeles and then all pulled together as if it was done in one central location. Oddly enough it was the highest single to every track within the top 10 in the US yet Townshend thought it was going to be their first number one. For as good as they were (and still are), they’ve never had a number one song.

Simon Townshend took the lead for “Going Mobile” and he did not disappoint. He’s quite a talent in his own right having performed with many other bands including Pearl Jam, Dave Grohl and Jeff Beck. Daltrey even complimented him for the speed at which he can play. His vocals were also spot on. Lyrically, it speaks to the freedom and lust for life and adventure while “watching the police and the taxman miss me – I’m mobile.”

“The Real Me” followed which first came out in 1973’s Quadrophenia. In this song, the central character is a young English Mod named Jimmy, who has four distinct personalities. “Don’t Jam Me” Jimmy, are you reading this? This song describes how he’s trying to identify “the real me” to different people in his life. At one time during the career, the real me was often used to close shows.

“Squeeze Box” followed with an introduction as to “why Steve’s set list was all about blokes? Well, this next one is for mamma that’s got a squeeze box.” I was never really a fan of this song but it happens to be their only international number-one hit. There seems to be quite a few sexual double entendres so maybe that’s why it made it to number 1 in Canada and number 2 on the Irish charts. “The Kids are Alright” came next and while it never charted very well it did become a rallying cry for English youth in the 1960s. It also became the name of the documentary for the band in 1979. Again, not a fan favorite but it does have a more cult-like following.

Then came my favorite song of the night and my favorite of all Who songs. But first a little background, you know how some songs are often misunderstood? OR people think the lyrics are one thing, but they’re really saying something else? Well, as a teenager, my close friends and I had our song, our own lyrical chant. It was our tribute to the greatest memories we made in “Gary’s Basement.”

One of my best friends then and still today, 50 years later, is Gary DeJohn. He lived around the corner from me and a handful of our very tight kit friends. His address was 69 Boyden Avenue; I am not making that up. To say that quite a of us experienced many “firsts” at Gary’s house would be an understatement.

Pete Townshend wrote Baba O’Riley as a combination of two of Townshend’s philosophical and musical influences: Meher Baba and Terry Riley. I actually just learned this as I could never understand why the song was called that. The working title was and is more appropriately called “Teenage Wasteland.”

Townshend stated in an interview that “Baba O’Riley” is about the teenagers at Woodstock. It was not meant to flatter but many took it as homage to teenage celebration – well, so did my Maplewood crew. So here’s how I hope to change this song for you forever. Instead of singing the chorus of Teenage Wasteland insert the words, “Gary’s Basement.” “Gary’s Basement, Oh Yea, it’s only Gary’s Basement {2xs} – we’re all WASTED!” If my buddies are reading this they’ve all got BIG SMILES.

On a side note, pun intended, I’ve actually added it to our own set list for my band; we’re called A.D.D. which stands for Attention Deficit Disorder. If you’re offended by that or we ever play an insurance convention, you can also think of us as Accidental Death and Dismemberment. Who is the oldest teenager in America? That would be me, yours truly, Richie Schwartz.

The great Who concert in the Silverman’s backyard on the water was closed out with Summertime Blues, Young Man Blues and My Generation.

My Generation was named the 11th greatest song by Rolling Stone Magazine from its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. There is no doubt that it represented a generation then and still could today. It is about trying to find a place in society and while “I hope I die before I get old” was really meant with “old” to mean “very rich.” What else can you say about some of our aging rockers many of whom have entered their 70’s – not the 1970’s – their individual ages are in the 70’s.

Where are the great bands of today?! I’m sorry but they just can’t compete with Rock ‘Roll Royalty. Roger Daltrey and his Who band were exceptional the other night. “Long Live Rock!”

Bipartisan bill to warn against phone scams

Assemblywoman Amy Handlin and Senator Vin Gopal, in a bipartisan effort, have introduced legislation to combat scams and protect residents.

The bill (S2838/A4185) requires telecommunications service providers to warn residential customers of potential scams or other frauds committed through use of these services. Specifically, this bill requires a telecommunications service provider to publish a statement on every bill sent to a service subscriber within New Jersey describing the potential for active scams that the service provider may be aware of, to the best of the knowledge of the service provider, or other types of suspected fraud that may be committed through the use of a telecommunications service offered by the service provider.

“We have seen a steady increase in the number of scams targeting New Jersey residents, particularly our seniors. This is unacceptable and we must work to ensure we are doing everything within our power to protect New Jerseyans,” said Assemblywoman Handlin. “Telecommunications providers that benefit from New Jersey residents have a responsibility to ensure residents are informed of the dangers of potential scams. This bill is a significant step forward in protecting our residents and their private information.”

“New Jerseyans are regularly subjected to scammers looking to steal personal information or money from our hardworking residents,” said Senator Vin Gopal. “This is a serious issue that has the potential to impact everyone here in New Jersey. In establishing this requirement, we will not only protect our consumers but hold our telecommunications providers accountable as well. I look forward to working with Assemblywoman Handlin to combat this issue and protect our residents.”

The warning statement is to include information as determined by the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs by regulation, and is to include, but not be limited to, contact information for the division and other appropriate State or federal government agency for customers of service providers to report a suspected scam or other types of fraud.

To raise awareness for their bill, Assemblywoman Handlin and Senator Gopal will visit senior communities in Monmouth County this fall, where they will engage with seniors directly and discuss their legislation.