Jaime Franchi

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Jaime Franchi is the Executive Editor of Morey Publishing. She covers education and contributes news and entertainment pieces for the Long Island Press, along with occasional op-eds when she's in the mood for some hate mail. Her work can also be found on Salon.com, Milieu Magazine, Huffington Post and The New York Times.

Long Island ‘Sip And Paint’ & ‘Paint Night’ Venue Guide

Long Island Sip And Paint

Debbie Tavarone commanded the front of the private room in the back of That Meetball Place in Patchogue on a chilly Monday night. Donning a headset and a paintbrush, her voice rose above the chatter of eager painters, ready to get their drink on and get creative. But before anyone could get started, Tavarone demanded the painters under her tutelage pledge an oath:

“I solemnly swear to have fun and relax,” she asked everyone to repeat. “I will not bitch and moan, I will not throw my canvas across the room, I will not say ‘I ruined it!’”

The recitation set the tone for a fun, pressure-free night where Long Islanders could let their hair down and their inner artists out.

“That’s the beauty of ‘Paint Nite,’” her daughter Tammy Tavarone, Director of Long island Paint Nite operations, told the Press. “It’s two hours to have a mini-escape for the soul. Just some down time when you can be in the moment. We connect hearts and minds, not through just a screen but in real life! In such a busy world humans crave face to face connection.”

Related: Long Island Wineries & Vineyards Guide

That Meetball Place is just one of an ever-growing number of venues throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties hosting “Sip and Paints” and “Paint Nites,” such as Tavarone’s. Testament to their ever-growing popularity is the lucrativeness for restaurants and businesses that hold them. Prior to running her Paint Nite business, Debbie Tavarone worked as a medical assistant for a gastroenterologist. She now says Paint Nite has proven more financially beneficial for herself, as well as the artists she employs.

Unlike most other sip-and-paint companies, Paint Nite doesn’t operate out of a storefront, but rather, their team of artists host events at bars and restaurants across Long Island on slow nights. Tavarone credited Paint Nite with nothing less than “saving the American bar,” explaining that there are substantial upticks in revenue on food and beverages at host venues on nights that are typically slower, such as Mondays and Tuesdays.

That Meetball Place event was no exception. Admittedly, chances are that now that I’ve been exposed to this venue and their menu, I too, will return—and my sisters and I most definitely helped out the venue, consuming a decent amount of wine, for starters.

We also sampled appetizers, ordering meatball sliders and an oversized hot pretzel. The wine unleashed our inner critics and let the paint, and laughter, flow. As the night moved on, quiet concentration turned to giddy chatter as patrons interacted with one another, shared tips, or complimented each other’s work. Some friendships were born, others deepened.

The room was quickly filled with positive energy, and the take-home token of such an experience is tangible. My painting rests of my fireplace mantel.

It may not be a Picasso, but it is mine.

Perfect for a fantastic time, regardless of the season, “Sip and Paints” and “Paint Nights” are taking place at restaurants, bars and art galleries all across Nassau and Suffolk counties. Here’s a list of Long Island Sip and Paint and Paint Night Venues:

Painters Restaurant

416 S. Country Rd., Brookhaven. 631-803-8593. paintersrestaurant.com

Momos Sport Bar and Grill

350 Union Ave., Holbrook. 631-648-9669. momossportsbarandgrill.com

667 Montauk Hwy., Bayport. 631-482-1399. momossportsbarandgrill.com

That Meetball Place

54 W Main St., Patchogue. 631-569-5888. thatmeetballplaceli.com

206 Main St., Farmingdale. 516-586-8880. thatmeetballplaceli.com

Cucina

674 Montauk Hwy., East Quogue. 631-996-4550. cucinaeastquogue.com

Harbor Crab

116 Division St., Patchogue. 631-687-2722. harborcrab.com

Dublin Deck

325 River Ave., Patchogue. 631-207-0370. dublindeck.com

Vintage Wine Bar (Wine Glass Events)

185 Main St., Farmingdale. 516-586-8833. vintagewinebarbistro.com

Off Key Tikki

31 Baker Pl., Patchogue. 631-475-1723. offkeytikki.com

L.I. Pour House

650 NY-112, Port Jefferson Station. 631-509-1914 lipourhouse.com

Duffys

95 E Hoffman Ave, Lindenhurst. 631-226-9464. duffysalehouseli.com

Lily Flanagan’s

345 Deer Park Ave., Babylon. 631-539-0816. lilyflanaganspub.com

Bench Warmers

23 NY-25A, Mt. Sinai. 631-509-4077. benchwarmerstavern.com

Flying Pig Café

825 NY-25A, Miller Place. 631-849-6060. facebook.com/theflyingpigcafe

Applebees

1251 Deer Park Ave., North Babylon. 631-242-7575. applebees.com

Houlihans

725 Merrick Ave, Westbury. 516-222-8010. houlihans.com

TGI Fridays

716 Sunrise Hwy., Rockville Centre. 516-594-9074. tgifridays.com

3535 Hempstead Turnpike, Levittown. 516-796-1549. tgifridays.com

Smith Haven Mall, 328 Burr Ln., Lake Grove. 631-366-6289. tgifridays.com

Millers Ale House

4000 Middle Country Rd., Lake Grove. 631-738-6725. millersalehouse.com

Senix Creek Inn

50 Senix Ave., Center Moriches. 631-878-8788. senixcreekinn.com

Laurel Lake Vineyard

3165 Main Rd., Laurel. 631-298-1420. llwines.com

Long Island Vodka (North Fork)

2182 Sound Ave., Baiting Hollow. 631-630-9322. Lispirits.com

Hotel Indigo

1830 W. Main St., Riverhead. 631-369-2200. ihg.com

On The Border

Broadway Mall, 200 Broadway Mall, Hicksville. 516-342-7777. ontheborder.com

O’Briens

3720 NY-112, Coram, NY 631-732-1141. thebarandpubweb.com

Paradise Diner

579 Veterans Hwy., Hauppauge. 631-724-1778 paradisedinerli.com

East Islip Lanes

117 E. Main St., East Islip. 631-581-6200. eilanes.com

North Tap

340 NY-25A, Mt Sinai. 631-743-9679. thenorthtap.com

O’Reilys Pub

927 Montauk Hwy. A, Oakdale. 631-472-4200.

Storefront sip and paint events on long lsland:

Muse Paintbar

837 Franklin Ave., Garden City. 516-874-3500. musepaintbar.com

34 Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck. 516-252-0515. musepaintbar.com

Paint the Town Studio

17 Green St., Ste. 6, Huntington. 631-683-5788. paintthetownstudio.com

Darlings & Divas

65 Merrick Rd., Amityville. 631-608-4710. darlingsanddivas.com

Mini Monet

19 Main St., Sayville. 631-218-9797. minimonetsayville.com

Artsea Studios

65 Deer Park Ave., Babylon. 631-805-1892. artseastudios.com

The Painted Canvas

6278 Rte. 25A, #10, Wading River. 631-886-2444. thepaintedcanvas.org

Pinot’s Palette

61 W. Main Street, Bay Shore. 631-446-4777. pinotspalette.com

The Art Studio Wine Down Fridays

221 N. Long Beach Rd., Rockville Centre. 516-763-2050.

ClayNation Paint & Sip: Adult Night

31 Village Square, Glen Cove. 516-671-8788. claynationonline.com

THIS SIP AND SIP AND PAINT NIGHT VENUE LIST IS CONSTANTLY BEING UPDATED, SO IF YOU KNOW OF OTHERS, LET US KNOW AND WE’LL ADD IT TO THIS GUIDE AND DIRECTORY!

Women by the Thousands Plan to March on Washington This Weekend

Women's March On Washington

Hundreds of thousands of women are expected to gather in the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington the day after Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

The goal of the protest is to “send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights,” the organizers’ mission statement reads. “We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

Sister marches are planned throughout the country, including one set to pass in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan, as well as other demonstrations in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. Marchers will also take to the streets in Port Jefferson Station on Long Island.

Organizers say that they see the Women’s March on Washington as not being solely anti-Trump but in support of a range of issues affecting women, including abortion rights, health, equal pay and gun violence. They intend to show the country’s incoming administration that women refuse to be taken for granted, despite some disparaging comments made by President-elect Trump that came to light during the presidential campaign.

Jean Bucaria, vice president of (NOW) New York, told the Press that a lot is at stake.

“From our access to healthcare to protection from discrimination and violence, to the self-worth of our girls—everything we have fought for will be challenged,” said Bucaria. “The power of our collective voices is the just the start of our movement to hold the line.”

Julia Fenster, co-president of Nassau County NOW, believes that fundamental rights of women are under threat, but others are at risk as well. Immigrants, the elderly and those whose health insurance is about to be repealed are also vulnerable, she said.

“We stand strong in unity with the diverse community of Nassau County and are marching to remind them that Nassau NOW will stand with them and support them under this new administration and in this difficult climate,” said Fenster in an email to the Press. She added that people will be marching to support women’s reproductive freedom, which she says is being targeted by the conservative new administration and its Congressional allies. She said they will also be protesting “the normalization of assault and violence against women that has been mainstreamed since the election.”

Stopping gun violence is another reason marchers will be taking it to the streets, as advocacy groups like Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action are organizing around that issue. Long Island-native turned actor and comedienne Amy Schumer took to Instagram to announce that it is a “big” reason why she will be marching this weekend. She cited these statistics compiled by Everytown:

  • American women are 16 times more likely to be killed with a gun than in other high-income countries
  • In an average month, 50 women in the US are shot to death by a current or former partner
  • Guns are the weapon of choice in domestic violence murders
  • Approximately 4.5 million American women have been threatened with guns

Schumer became a vocal advocate against gun violence after a man shot people in a movie theater in Lafayette, La., during the opening night of her film Trainwreck, on July 23, 2015, killing two women.

This issue resonates deeply with Donna Dees, a New Yorker who had organized the historic Million Mom March in Washington, D.C., on Mother’s Day in 2000. The year before there’d been a mass shooting at a community center in Granada Hills, Calif. That protest drew more than 750,000 people to the National Mall in D.C., while others demonstrated in all 50 states. This weekend Dees says she plans to join the Women’s March on Washington.

But as Dees knows all too well, the most important work happens after the march is over, when the advocates must build on the momentum and continue the work with clipboards in hand to make contacts that can change elections.

“As I have discovered in the gun violence prevention movement,” Dees told the Press, “after 2000 and the Million Mom March, many women went straight from the march to block some really bad gun laws and get some good ones passed. We got two ballot initiatives in Colorado and Oregon to close gun show loopholes. We got a lot done in the first six months after the march. We got a lot of good people elected, and we threw a lot of bad people out of office. But you can lose that momentum pretty quickly.”

Dees said she plans to march in honor of women who’ve given their lives for the cause.

“I have known women who have died for the gun violence prevention movement,” says Dees. “No, they were not beaten up in jail or shot and killed, but they neglected their health.”

She gave credit to women of color who were the “real leaders” in the movement and wound up dying of broken hearts because they’d lost sons and daughters to gun violence. Dees said the stress of going up against the powerful gun lobby takes its toll. She wants their sacrifice to be remembered.

“I am personally marching for them,” Dees said, “and I think that speaks to other issues I care about: healthcare for women.”

Many men have said they’ll lend their voice to this weekend’s cause, too.

Finding solidarity with Dees on preventing gun violence is Ladd Everitt, a Merrick native and director of One Pulse for America, an advocacy group founded by actor and LGBTQ activist George Takei after the mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., last June at a LGBTQ club. Everitt is also taking aim at Trump, whose presidency he regards as illegitimate amid accusations of Russian interference during the presidential campaign.

Everitt told the Press that Trump “might very well have colluded with a foreign power to obtain the office of president of the United States.” He said that Trump “rejects democratic norms and actively seeks to intimidate and silence his critics.” It is crucial, the activist added, “that patriots stand together in this moment of constitutional crisis and demonstrate that we are unwilling to surrender our democratic rights.”

He praised the organizers of the Women’s March for “showing true leadership and giving so many of us a venue to powerfully and peacefully express our dissent,” adding that the right of peaceful protest is protected by our constitutional freedom. Raising a voice that refuses to be silenced defines the American spirit.

Dees believes that the Jan. 21 protests will start to change “hearts and minds” around the country because the movement is being led by women.

“I know how much can be done if you harness that energy,” Dees said. “The Million Mom March really fueled the movement for many years after because it was a women-led, woman-organized march.”

She continued that they relied on something she called “lateral leadership,” which meant women taking on a range of roles across the board rather than setting up a traditional hierarchy. As a result, many women rose to the challenge. Dees cited the bus organizers as the “unsung heroes” of the protest movement.

“Some of these women have no clues they’re leaders yet,” she observed. “They said they have 1,200 parking permit requests. I’m sure they’re going to have more buses than that. To organize a bus of 52 people…really develops your leadership skills. When those people return to wherever they come from, they’re ready to work.”

But first they will come together to march on Washington and around the country this Saturday. Then it will be time to roll up their sleeves, pick up their clipboards and begin the hard struggle to hold the line on rights their foremothers fought for.

L.I.’s Clinton Kelly Reveals a Side of Himself Fans Have Never Seen

Clinton Kelly
Clinton Kelly

TV personality Clinton Kelly has come a long way from his days as a busboy on Long Island to being a well-known arbiter of taste and fashion—first on the popular TLC show What Not to Wear and now on ABC’s daytime cooking show The Chew, which he calls “the best job in television.”

The 47-year-old Port Jefferson Station native knows how lucky he is to do what he loves in the public eye, as he explains in his new book I Hate Everyone Except You. He says it’s a departure from anything he’s put out there thus far—and that’s the point.

“This is a way for me to connect with the people who’ve been watching me on TV for the last 15 years,” he told the Press recently. “Sharing things I wouldn’t have been comfortable sharing before. But this is me—take it or leave me!”

Kelly believes there are sides to him that he’s never revealed before. His audience might know his television persona and what he shows via social media, but he believes that perhaps for the first time, he is letting his real personality, flaws and all, shine through.

“This is a sort of love letter to the people in my life,” said Kelly. “I didn’t want this to be a tell-all. These stories are mine, from my perspective.”

Does this mean those who have wronged him will be spared? Um, no.

“There are some people I let have it because they deserved it based on their behavior,” he said.

Related: Long Island’s Clinton Kelly’s Tips on How to be Ridiculously Happy

Told in his take-no-prisoners, sassy style that his fans have come to adore, I Hate Everyone Except You is a collection of Kelly’s personal essays recounting his childhood, parts of his career, and pinnacle moments of his life, written as if he is confiding in his best friend, an approach he hints at in the title. It isn’t a typical memoir or a celebrity tell-all, but rather a way for him to exercise a muscle he’d long desired to flex.

“I wanted to be a writer when I was younger in my 20s, but I chickened out,” Kelly confided. “I needed to make a living, so I became a magazine editor. Then these TV jobs fell into my lap, and before I knew it, I was on a course very different from where I started.”

That path began with the behemoth that became What Not to Wear, TLC’s longest running primetime-reality series.

“It was incredibly popular,” Kelly said, “and I don’t think I was ready for that.”

The premise was simple: Kelly and co-host Stacy London would give women a much-needed make-over that would empower them with a new sense of style and enable them to transform their lives by looking—and feeling—better. The hard part was convincing the show’s participants that their usual appearance had stopped working for them long ago. It was time for them to finally throw out some of their worn-out but dearly beloved clothing and start fresh. i-hate-everyone-except-youAlthough you’d never know it from watching the program, this negativity weighed on Kelly. He looked like he was having a blast, but viewers might be surprised to discover that it didn’t always sit right with him. In fact, some weeks were no fun at all.

“There were weeks that really sucked,” Kelly said. “I didn’t want to convince people that they looked like crap. They weren’t on the show because they thought they looked like crap.”

But in the end Kelly believes the series served a purpose—and that made it worthwhile.

“There is power in style,” he said. “Having a style is a great way to get what you want from your life. When your style is aligned with who you are, you feel empowered.”

Related: Clinton Kelly: Long Island’s (and Macy’s) Best Man

What Not to Wear established Kelly as a television star and led directly to his current gig on ABC on The Chew, where he is enjoying the process immensely.

In writing I Hate Everyone Except You, Kelly pieced together the pivotal moments in his life to portray the trajectory that led this kid from Port Jefferson Station who once worked as a busboy at Danford’s on the Water to become a successful television personality and author.

“I’ve always been attuned to see signs from the universe,” he laughed. “But I think as you get older, it becomes easier to recognize when something profound is happening in your life.”

Besides his latest book, Kelly is the author of advice guides like Freakin’ Fabulous, Freakin’ Fabulous on a Budget, Dress Your Best, and Oh No, She Didn’t. He has partnered with Macy’s to sell his mix-and-match tabletop line, Effortless Table, and is spokesman for the retailer’s wedding and gift registry as “Macy’s Best Man.” His fashion label, which is intended for all shapes and sizes, showcases his impeccable taste and discerning eye.

So what’s next for Clinton Kelly?

“I’m only going to pursue projects that are intellectually stimulating,” Kelly said. “I’ll never take a job for the money, and I’ll never surround myself with assholes.”

Certainly his former classmates at Comeswogue High School would heartily approve.

Clinton Kelly will be signing his new book I Hate Everyone Except You at the Book Revue in Huntington at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9.

Top 25 Things You’d Only Understand If You Grew Up On Long Island

25 Things Only Know Growing Up Long Island

Field trips to Vanderbilt Planetarium, bonfires on Montauk beach, Virginia from Billy Joel’s “Only The Good Die Young”—there are certain people, places and experiences you’d only understand and fully appreciate if you grew up on Long Island. Here are 25 of them:

25. The difference between the Town of Babylon and Babylon Village, that Central Islip is really northeast of Islip, and that Long Beach is a city.

24. Jones Beach open-air concerts.

23. Elementary school trips to Vanderbilt Planetarium, NYC to see The Rockettes at the Christmas Spectacular at Radio City, the Fire Island Lighthouse, and Frost Valley.

22. Everybody has a PC Richard’s guy who gives them the best deal.

21. A direct flight out of MacArthur Airport is as precious as it is elusive.

20. Manhattan can have its Macy’s fireworks. We have Grucci. (Bellport in da house!)

19. Wanna take a road trip to see a giant duck in Flanders? Of course!

18. Montauk beach bonfires.

17. Ocean Beach: The Land of “No.”

16. Do not, under any circumstances, drive even one mile an hour over the speed limit in Asharoken.

15. Pumpkin picking “Out East.”

14. “Friggin'” is an acceptable adjective for everything.

13. New England Clam Chowder is white. Manhattan clam chowder is red. Long Island Clam Chowder is pink and kicks both of their asses.

12. “The Sound” isn’t a noise.

11. “The Casino” isn’t a casino.

10. Sweet Hollow Road is the scariest drive on the island. Never look back!

9. We have all been dared to ring and run the Amityville Horror House. No one ever did it.

8. My mom’s cousin is the Virgina Billy Joel wrote about in “Only the Good Die Young.” We all have that exact claim. Virginia got around.

7. Why the North Shore is like a foreign country to South Shore folk, and vice versa.

6. I could walk to that high school, but I’m zoned for the one three miles from here. And now I’m predisposed to have a deep-seated rivalry with those kids that I will carry with me for always.

5. A seashell painted by a child on Fire Island is more valuable than a Rolex.

4. We have to go to the beach again? I’m so bored of living so close to beaches 99 percent of the world would sell their ear to be able to drive to.

3. Going to the mall, not so much a shopping expedition as a social experiment.

2. Bacon egg and cheese. Cooked in grease on a deli grill, served on a Modern Bakery roll with salt, pepper and ketchup.

1. How a bagel is supposed to taste.

If You Enjoyed This Article, Check Out These Related Stories:

43 Fun Things To Do With Your Kids On Long Island

15 Reasons Why There’s No Place Like Long Island

A Beginner’s Guide to Fire Island

Long Island Clam Chowder: Secret Blend Slowly Catching On

Long Island Haunts: 13 Creepiest Haunted Places On Long Island

21 Things That Piss Long Islanders Off

Red Sneakers Foundation Brings Nut Allergy Awareness To Long Island

Red Sneakers Foundation
Students at Portledge School in Locust Valley celebrated Red Sneakers Day on Dec. 2, wearing red sneakers to honor the life of 11-year-old Oakley Debbs, who died from an allergic reaction to nuts, and to raise awareness about food allergies.

Two teams of children wore red sneakers during a special soccer game in West Palm Beach, Fla. on December 10th to honor a star player who could not join them, but whose fondness for that color footwear was part of his lasting legacy.

Oakley Debbs, an 11-year-old West Palm Beach boy, had died on Thanksgiving Day from an allergic reaction to nuts. Red sneakers were the only shoes he liked to wear.

In his memory, his parents created the Red Sneakers Foundation to spread awareness of the dangers of nut allergies through educational programs, research and public policy initiatives.

On Long Island, where Debbs occasionally spent his summers, students, teachers and parents at the Portledge School in Locust Valley celebrated Red Sneaker Day on December 2.

They all wore his favorite color, too.

Jack Fentress, a Portledge sixth-grader who’d befriended Debbs here, was overwhelmed by the support of his schoolmates for his friend, whom many of them had never met.

“I’m really glad so many kids at school are supporting him,” said Fentress. “I’m really sad that he had to pass away and I’ll miss him a lot.”

Red Sneakers Foundation
Students at Portledge School in Locust Valley wore red sneakers on Dec. 2 in remembrance of 11-year-old Oakley Debbs, who died of an allergy to nuts, and to raise awareness about the dangers posed by food allergies.

Food allergies, particularly nut allergies, affect approximately 15 million Americans and about one in every 13 children, according to Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE), a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about such food allergies, at foodallergy.org.

Anaphylaxis, the allergic reaction that caused Debb’s death, can be fatal if not immediately treated with epinephrine. In Debb’s case, the risk was compounded by his asthma. His previous allergic reactions had been successfully treated with Benadryl. This time, when his parents gave him that medication, his symptoms subsided, but it wasn’t enough to save his life.

Portledge mom Jami Friedman could sympathize with Debb’s distraught parents.

“Our oldest son has life-threatening allergies to milk, eggs, tree nuts and sesame, as well as asthma,” she said, “so this is a fear we live with on a daily basis. The Red Sneaker Foundation is a beautiful way to honor this young boy and bring awareness to the allergy epidemic.”

Severe food allergies have increased nearly 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, but researchers do not have conclusive explanations for the cause, according to FARE. In memory of Oakley Debbs, The Red Sneakers Foundation is doing its part to inform the public and educate parents, children and physicians about the growing dangers of severe food allergies.

The group’s hope is that one day red sneakers will come to symbolize this cause nationwide.

For more on how to lend support and learn about upcoming Red Sneakers Days across the country, visit Red Sneaker Foundation’s Facebook page at facebook.com/redsneakersforoakley.

Featured Photo: Students at Portledge School in Locust Valley celebrated Red Sneakers Day on Dec. 2, wearing red sneakers to honor the life of 11-year-old Oakley Debbs, who died from an allergic reaction to nuts, and to raise awareness about food allergies.

Kansas Rocks Paramount With ‘Leftoverture 40th Anniversary Tour’

Kansas
Legendary prog-rockers Kansas delivered an electrifying performance at The Paramount in Huntington on Nov. 19! (Photo: Courtesy of Kansas)

Legendary prog-rockers Kansas delivered a powerful, emotionally charged performance at Huntington’s Paramount theatre on Nov. 19, wowing a packed audience with popular hits spanning their more than four decade-long career and celebrating the 40th anniversary of their multi-platinum album Leftoverture by playing the 1976 classic in its entirety.

The night included hit after hit after hit from their expansive career, punctuated with exceptional renditions of popular tracks and including songs from their earlier records all the way through to their latest, The Prelude Implicit, Kansas’ 15th studio album, released this September. The Paramount stop came amid the band’s ongoing “Leftoverture 40th Anniversary Tour,” which wraps up in St. Augustine, Fla. in February with fellow rockers Foreigner.

As Kansas’ incredible three multiplatinum and eight gold albums are testament, the band has a gift for crafting infectious tracks that withstand the test of time as well as utterly captivating performances that leave fans screaming for more.

Read: Loud, Rowdy & Hilarious: Rock Star Jim Breuer Destroys Mulcahy’s

Consisting of Phil Ehart on drums, Billy Greer laying down bass and vocals, keyboardist Dave Manion, Ronnie Platt on vocals and keyboard, David Ragsdale on violin and guitar, and guitarists Zak Rizvi and Richard Williams, the seven-member tour de force were smooth, ultra-tight, and collectively showcased a virtuosity and cohesion that could only exist between musicians who wrought each and every note from their very souls.

Kansas was absolutely flawless.

Several moments during their stellar set Platt’s searing, high-pitched vocals, Ragsdale’s soaring violin, Williams’ and Rizvi’s mind-bending six-strings, Manion’s ethereal B3 organ, Greer’s gargantuan bass and Ehart’s mesmerizing beats collided in some otherworldly kaleidoscopic vision that can only best be described as purely transcendental. As the tone and mood of the music shifted, so too did the stage’s backdrop—melting through multi-colored palettes of blues and greens and reds and yellows and purples, interspersed with magnificent illuminated tapestries of previous album covers and artwork spanning their extensive canon.

Wow.

The crowd ate up every second of it all, clapping and cheering and swaying along, even roaring in their happiness at times—and then just as suddenly, hushing in reverent jubilation to a very special version of “The Unsung Heroes,” a tune off The Prelude Implicit, and tribute to the daily struggles of the working man.

“And I know it’s hard to go on when it seems like your strength is all gone,” sang Platt in a heart-aching falsetto alongside a haunting violin riding a driving beat. “But I’m here to say, ‘Deliver some praise to the unsung heroes of each day.’”

Another standout moment came in the form of an extremely heartfelt, radio-perfect rendition of chart-topper and fan favorite “Dust in the Wind,” which inspired a venue-wide singalong.

Two military officers in full dress uniform accompanying the band onstage to present the flag of a fallen soldier during a song dedicated to those buried in Arlington were greeted with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.

Then, before anyone had a second to sit, Kansas launched immediately into an electrifying version of cult fan favorite “Carry On Wayward Son,” again inciting an exuberant and bombastic response by concertgoers, who sang along emphatically.

Was the audience louder than the band? It’s quite possible, as everyone once again rose to their feet applauding and cheering.

Kansas’s phenomenal performance at The Paramount highlights that with more than 40 years under their belt, this band still absolutely rocks!

Main Art: Legendary prog-rockers Kansas delivered an electrifying performance at The Paramount in Huntington on Nov. 19! (Photo: Courtesy of Kansas)

For more information about Kansas and future stops on their Leftoverture 40th Anniversary Tour, visit kansasband.com.

The Flight of the Snowbird

Climate change, even though it’s a complete hoax, has so messed with our weather patterns on Long Island that the calendar no longer dictates the temperatures we’ve come to associate with our seasons.

Case in point, the first day of December was a moderate 50 degrees. The sun shined. Birds chirped. Light sweaters sufficed for cover. A day earlier, the bitter freezing, driving rain caused Canadian geese to migrate northward to escape the cold. Nothing is what it has ever been–or ever will be again.

In short, it’s getting weird.

The calendar no longer suffices when it comes to predicting the weather. The weather forecasters seldom seem to get it right. How do you know when it’s time to break out the winter coats, dust off the UGGs you preemptively brought out in the first week of October because drinking pumpkin-spiced lattes in flip flops just seemed wrong, and resign yourself to the reality of an unavoidably brutal New York winter?

Why, you follow the flight of the snowbirds, of course.

Snowbirds, unlike the newly-coined invective “snowflake,” is northeastern slang for those who move from New York to Florida in the wintertime. There is no set date for this migration. It just happens.

You notice by the increasing traffic surrounding LaGuardia and JFK airports. The lobbies fill with smart blue-and white-haired folk who have put in their time enduring biting air that hurts your face, the indignity of trying-and failing-to keep balance while walking across parking lots made treacherous with black ice, and suffered countless flat tires on Long Island’s many, many, many potholes. (So many. But don’t worry. Road construction crews will repair the roads come spring time. During rush hour. At your expense. You’re welcome.)

That’s right, those who have paid their LI winter dues will head southbound to the land of sun, sand and white pants in winter. How do they know exactly when to shuffle off this frigid coil and head down? Well, no one knows exactly.

Scientists could study it, but who would listen? All we know is that like canaries in the coal mines, when you see airports teeming with grandparents and moving trucks heading from New York to the sunshine state, winter is nigh.

(Photo credit: Pixar’s Up)

Loud, Rowdy & Hilarious: Rock Star Jim Breuer Destroys Mulcahy’s

Jim Breuer
Jim Breuer and The Loud & Rowdy shredded Mulcahy's Pub and Concert Hall with heavy metal hilarity on Nov. 26, 2016. (Long Island Press / Jaime Franchi)

Virtually everyone on Long Island knows Valley Stream-born comedian Jim Breuer.

We know SNL Breuer: Goat Boy and spot-on Pesci impressions. We know Half Baked Breuer, from the 1998 hit comedy he co-starred in with Dave Chappelle. We know radio and podcast Breuer. We know Breuer from VH1’s That Metal Show. We know Mets fan Breuer. Of course, we know stand-up Breuer.

And if you know Breuer, you know he is a diehard 1980s heavy metal superfan: Judas Priest, AC/DC, Metallica. His renowned impersonations of the bandleaders are born from hero worship, a true love of the craft, and pure, unmitigated joy.

On Saturday night at Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh, Long Island got to meet a Breuer they’ve never seen before—Rock Breuer—and he absolutely killed.

Jim Breuer: LI’s Bad Boy Jokester Opens Up About Life, God and Heavy Metal

Breuer wasn’t feeling well, but the audience would never know it, as he busted out onstage with raging riff-heavy guitars, explosive drums and very, very loud, shrieking metal vocals. He and his band “The Loud & Rowdy” lived up to their name, in spades—melding the worlds of sheer comedic hilarity and glorious, no-frills metal-mania chaos. On this Long Island stage, Breuer played out his ’80s metal fantasy that wouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been paying attention.

The real surprise? He’s good. Like, really, really good.

Jim Breuer is a legit rock star.

Breuer doesn’t rely on laughs or mere enthusiasm, but actual talent as a rock singer. His voice carries with it a James Hetfield-tinged raw grittiness. His stage presence is magnetic. His album Songs from the Garage was produced by Rob Caggiano—former lead guitarist for thrash metal warlords Anthrax—who also plays guitar in Breuer’s backing band The Loud & Rowdy, along with bassist Joe Vigliotti and drummer Mike Tichy. The musical offering is an ode to the parent in all of us: past the age of 40, having given over our lives to the little people we made, plus soccer practice, music lessons, school lunches. It’s all about them now, not us. But there’s a small piece of us still inside, that teenager who geeked out over something creative, something that spoke to us on a complete individual level, but connected us through space and time to others.

For Breuer, that was metal. It was his own personal calling, yet it bonded him with every black-leather-jacket-and-Slayer T-shirt-wearing kid in his cafeteria. His “garage” is where he lets that kid come out and play, in family-friendly songs that are as funny as they are impressively real.

Breuer opened with the riff-heavy “Thrash,” a song about losing your ever-lovin’ mind whenever you get the house to yourself. Loud, with killer hooks, this song let the audience know he wasn’t playing a rock star, he actually was one.

“Can you handle three minutes of metal?” he bellowed out into the crowd.

Yes, we could—evident in the resounding roar of the packed club in response.

In between songs, Breuer interjected stories about his life: kids, coming up in Valley Stream, seeing shows at Nassau Coliseum and in Franklin Square. He entertained the audience with a story of getting to ride in Ozzy Osbourne’s private jet to the MTV Icon awards, and being star-struck enough to shove Ozzy’s shrimp into his pockets.

Of course, he delighted the audience with a spot-on impression of Ozzy, zig-zagging toward the back of the place, his incomprehensible slurs disguised as words.

Breuer busted out impressions throughout the night: Metallica’s James Hetfield’s signature “Yee-ahh!”s punctuated his sentences, AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson’s wail pure perfection. (Johnson lends vocals to two tracks on Songs from the Garage.) Taking requests from the audience, Breuer initiated a heavy metal version of the children’s song “B-I-N-G-O,” as sung by legends Ozzie Osbourne, Brian Johnson, Hetfield and Kermit the Frog.

Related: Mets Superfan Jim Breuer On Viral Recap Videos: ‘It’s My Passion’

Each tune had a story, a personal bent, a memory of his early days, as in “Be a Dick 2Nite,” about that one friend we all have, living at home, not paying rent, who gets us into all kinds of trouble.

“I can’t wait to be that old guy on the beach with a metal detector,” he told us while introducing the song “Raising Teenage Girls.” “I made it. No pregnancies. No addictions. I made it. I’m getting skin cancer. I don’t care.”

Breuer, who has three, takes us through watching our teenage daughters dress up and go out to face the world. And by world, he means teenage boys.

“Tell me,” he sang. “What are you gonna wear?”

Judging by the resounding applause and cheers from the packed audience, everyone at Mulcahy’s could relate. For the entire Loud & Rowdy set, we were one—metal heads in the school cafeteria that somehow became over-40 parents, invited into Breuer’s garage—separate, but all in it together.

Jim Breuer is heavy metal hilariousness, personified. His unique collision of these two personal passions—comedy and metal—inspires fans to both head-bang and laugh, uncontrollably. He exudes an enthusiasm that is contagious, and up there on stage at Mulc’s with The Loud & Rowdy, his genuine talent was perhaps best embodied in his prolific, devastatingly accurate impression of Metallica frontman James Hetfield:

“Yee-ahh!”

Main Art: Jim Breuer and The Loud & Rowdy shredded Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall with heavy metal hilarity on Nov. 26, 2016. (Long Island Press / Jaime Franchi)

For more about Jim Breuer and The Loud & Rowdy, including future tour dates and videos, check out officialjimbreuer.com

My Daughter, Jim Breuer & A Foul-Mouthed, Chicken Finger-Eating Mets Fanatic

New York Mets Citi Field

My lack of interest in sports is fairly notorious around these parts.

First, because I work with a lot of men who enjoy talking about bats and balls and touchdowns and runs and team rivalries and other sportsy things in our office. I contribute nothing to these conversations except exaggerated yawns and eye-rolling. I understand that tons of women are into sports. They play them. Watch them. Follow them. Understand what is happening on screen when the TV announcers stop the clock and draw circles around the football players with arrows.

But I’m not one of them. So the fact that the Amazin’ Mets are about to play a wild card game—whatever that means—is lost on me.

The second thing that makes my non-fandom somewhat remarkable is that I am an award-winning sportswriter.

For this piece about NHL Hall-of-Famer Clark Gillies and for assisting with some quotes for this story about Mets superfan Jim Breuer.

Related: Jim Breuer: LI’s Former Bad Boy Jokester Opens Up About Life, God and Heavy Metal

So when my daughter’s cheer team was presented with the opportunity to perform at Citi Field at a Mets home game on Sept. 24 against the Philadelphia Phillies, I was excited for her, but not so much about the idea of watching a baseball game. I did like the idea of tailgating, however. I enjoy a 6-foot hero like the rest of America. And I loved that she and her team would have the chance to perform at such a tremendous venue in front of a ginormous audience and that she would feel the fresh green grass that famous baseball players (none of whom I can name without prompting) run through while she and her friends gaze up into the stands while they do their thing. Who gets to do that every day?

Let me be honest, they were fantastic! Taught by New York Jets cheerleaders, hundreds of elementary-age cheerleaders (and their coaches) took the field after hours of fun, but intense, practice. They completed a dance to Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” and Meghan Trainor’s “Me Too.” In turn, each of the girls was broadcast from the Jumbotron. Exhilarated and excited, my daughter proclaimed that the experience was “the best thing that ever happened in my life—even more than Disney!” If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.

Then we stayed for the game.

I tried to make the best of it, and even contacted Press pal and Mets fanatic Jim Breuer to see if he’d be broadcasting his infamously hysterical viral post-game recap videos from the stands, and if so, whether I could join him, but he’s on tour and wasn’t in New York. He implored me to enjoy it. And to wear Mets gear. He let it be known that our friendship kind of hinged on this.

“You wear blue and orange to a Mets game,” he told me through the phone in the middle of an editorial meeting. “You get decked out in Mets gear! You love it!”

“Enjoy your daughter!” he advised.

With a borrowed Mets cap, I tried. But my attention span has a way of cutting out after approximately one minute. So, after chatting with the other parents seated in our section, looking at my phone, texting my husband and snapping pictures, I decided to walk around.

The thing about section 337, where we were seated, is that it requires you to take stairs to the third level, walk 50 feet, go down again, around half the stadium, then back up. And around. So I did that.

Then I looked at the scoreboard.

It was still the first inning.

The girls all performed again after the second inning. They stunted, jumped, clapped and cheered in unison to the thunderous roar of the crowd.

My daughter was escorted to our section, up the stairs, halfway around, down the stairs, then up again, and by this time, she was “literally starving.” The food lines were long, but I wasn’t interested in the game anyway. Off I went.

On the concession line, I learned not only the score of the game and what inning it was, but just how intensely some sports fans take the performance of the players. The Mets’ rough start on the field that day was downright insulting to a lady wearing a black Jurassic Park sweatshirt who was waiting on line for chicken fingers. And she was taking it all very, very personally.

Her boyfriend and I got an earful.

“It’s ten to nothing,” she said, hands on hips, her eyeballs digging deep into the soul of her date, undoubtedly looking for him to answer for her disappointment. “Ten. Ten to zip. Nothing. Nuh. Thing. To ten. I am so sad right now. I’m like really pissed.”

She really was.

“Seriously,” she continued. “The score? Is ten to nothing. Seriously. This is the night I come to a game. This is the night. I am not happy right now.”

Her boyfriend nodded silently. He was wearing a T-shirt that read: “I’ve got 99 problems.”

The line inched forward. The lady paced. She cut in front of a guy holding four beers and a box of hot dogs, causing him to stop short, spill some beer and get mustard on his Mets jersey. He regained his balance and moved forward. Some Mets fans are really resilient.

Every time this Jurassic Park lady came back from peering at the field, she repeated the score. Which was 10. To. Zero. The boyfriend had no answer for this, but he looked increasingly guilty as the game oozed slowly forward like thick molasses.

She caught the attention of two guys in their 20s fully decked out in Mets gear standing behind me.

“What?! They’re down by ten?! It’s the fourth inning! We’re better than this!” she proclaimed.

That’s a thing that trips me up. Not to sound like Chazz Palminteri in A Bronx Tale, but how exactly do fans consider themselves a collective “we”? As in: “We won!” “We beat the Patriots!” “We are the champions, my friend!”

I had spent a small fortune on tickets and parking, but I didn’t feel as if the Mets players and I were all in this together.

I’d moved six inches in line. Now the 10-0 lady started leading the chicken-finger line in a “Let’s Go Mets!” chant.

Eventually, I saw the Promised Land, disguised as an overworked woman taking the orders of the people right in front of me. Apparently, the boyfriend had lost his appetite.

“Are you serious right now?” Jurassic Park lady said. “We’ve been on this line for an hour and a half, and now you don’t want food? I will f–king body-slam you right now. Get a f–king pretzel.”

He did as he was told.

I finally got an order of chicken fingers, but now I can’t pay my mortgage.

It was the sixth inning by the time I returned to section 337. The Mets were batting. Everybody started cheering like crazy so I looked on the field and saw that the bases were loaded and a guy had just scored.

Then another guy hit the ball and the guy in the field didn’t catch it, so another player ran home. That happened two more times and the people in the stands were going absolutely bananas. It was impossible to feel nothing.

In all of the excitement, I clapped. I yelled “Whooo!” from section 337.

Eventually, there were three outs. The Mets had scored four runs. The crowd was electrified. My heart felt happy for the Jurassic Park lady. I imagined she was eating her chicken fingers with a renewed gusto (and most likely her boyfriend’s pretzel as well).

And then we left early to beat the traffic. I never found out if the Mets won or lost. I still don’t know.

Good game, anyway, sports fans. Good game. And a truly Amazin’ time with my daughter.

Thanks, Jim.

(Featured photo credit: Eric Kilby)

Nationwide ‘Concert Across America’ Takes On Gun Violence

Concert Across America To End Gun Violence
Communities nationwide will host The Concert Across America To End Gun Violence on Sunday, Sept. 25.

Hundreds of communities from Long Island to California will join together Sunday to host The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence.

The Beacon Theater in Manhattan will feature a star-studded show featuring Eddie Vedder, Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash, Marc Cohn and Vy Higginsen’s Gospel Choir in Harlem. In Los Angeles, former Eagles guitarist Don Felder, Ryan Cabrera, Sam Harris of X Ambassadors and the Gay Men’s Chorus of LA will perform at the rooftop of the Standard Hotel. And on Long Island, there will be a concert co-sponsored by WCWP Radio and Word of Mouth Productions at Hillwood Recital Hall at LIU Post in Greenvale.

This nationwide concerted action was set in motion by Donna Dees, a New Yorker who had organized the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C., on Mother’s Day in 2000 following a shooting in Granada Hills, Calif. the year before at a community center. That march drew more than 750,000 people on the National Mall, along with coordinating protests in all 50 states.

Related: Million Mom March Marks 15 Years Fighting for Gun Violence Prevention

Dees was prompted to take action again after Mayci Breaux, 21, and Jillian Johnson, 33, were shot watching Amy Schumer’s film Trainwreck at a movie theater in Lafayette, La., on July 23, 2015. A month later, TV news reporters Alison Parker, 24, and Adam Ward, 27, were gunned down in Roanoke, Va.

The shootings in Lafayette and Roanoke had a very personal connection to Dees. Lafayette was where she got her start as a young television reporter. To have two women shot in the back in that town while they were watching a film that Dees and her girlfriends and daughter were all planning to see together, along with the brutal shooting a month later of two young television reporters in Virginia, upset her to the core.

“My experience with these shootings is that people get outraged for a certain period of time, and the gun lobby just waits for their outrage to go away,” she explained. “Or the elected officials who don’t want to do anything just wait for the outrage to subside.”

Dees was inspired to write a piece for the Daily Beast that she called “How to Organize the Mother of All Protests,” which described in detail the steps she had taken to organize the Mother’s Day march in 2000. She proposed using social media—something unavailable back then—to launch a protest much larger than the first one, ideally culminating in a nationally televised fundraising event in D.C.’s Verizon Center. The cost, she wrote, would be about $3 million.

“Got $3 million burning a hole in your pocket? Call me. I’ll reserve the venue,” she wrote.

Alas, no one came forward with a generous check. But John Rosenthal, founder of Stop Handgun Violence in Boston, was very intrigued. He had prompted Massachusetts to enact comprehensive gun laws and impose tough consumer protection regulations for firearms. As a result, today Massachusetts is one of the top three states in the country with the lowest firearm fatality rate. After reading the Daily Beast piece, he contacted Dees.

“We can do this,” he told her. A friend of Jackson Browne, he spearheaded the concert, and, with support from Faith United to Prevent Gun Violence, helped put the protest together on a national level. Slowly, they began to help organize coordinated events to take place across the country on Sept. 25, which Congress has designated the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims.

“It was a fortuitous coincidence that the next day is the first presidential debate,” Dees told the Press. “Our immediate goal is to make sure the moderator of that debate, Lester Holt of NBC News, asks our candidates intelligent questions. We expect the media to be educated that the guns in states with strong gun laws come from other states. They come from Indiana and other places with weak laws… We need laws at the federal level, at the national level.”

Adam Schanke, organizer of the Long Island event at LIU Post, is a bass player in The Circuit, a Brooklyn-based psychedelic band. The Circuit, along with Sugar and Spice Band, David Bennett Cohen and Mirage Project are donating their time, energy and talents to raise funds for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

“We want to show a sign of unity,” Schanke told the Press. “We want to show that we’re in support of rational thought.”

Schanke, 51, has never taken part in a protest against gun violence before, yet after the shooting deaths of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, this July, he needed to do something. When he heard about The Concert Across America to Stop Gun Violence, he knew he had to get involved.

“I thought it was a good—no, it’s not even a good idea—it’s a necessary idea,” he said. “It’s necessary to have this in the forefront in an election year. It’s remarkable how dug in Congress is, and how much they’re backed by the NRA. There really doesn’t seem to be any real movement [on the issue].”

The event’s organizers hope to raise awareness nationwide about the issue, and how common sense reform can help cure America’s epidemic of gun violence.

On the federal level there are bills in the House and Senate that address universal background checks, both in private and commercial sales, as well as closing “The Terror Gap,” which entails expanding background checks to prevent those on the terrorist watch list who cannot board a plane from purchasing firearms. Legislation would also impose an assault weapons ban stronger than the one that expired in 2004. A bill sponsored by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) would make gun trafficking a felony. At the moment, it’s a misdemeanor.

“So you get the same penalty for trafficking guns as you would if you were trafficking a chicken,” said Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. “So that needs to change.”

On its website, NYAGV has compiled a list of state representatives with a grading policy on how each politician rates on the gun issue. Their goal in this election is to educate voters on where their representatives stand and back candidates who not only support gun safety legislation, but actively work toward enacting it.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the state’s senior senator, has been an outspoken advocate for common sense gun reform laws. In his signature brash style, he threw his full support behind The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence.

“We have to right the wrongs in our background check system that let bad people plan and carry out despicable attacks,” he said in a press release. “Right now, a nefarious individual—someone suspected of planning a terrorist attack, tracked by the FBI, and on the terrorist watch list—can legally purchase a gun at a licensed dealer; this makes no sense! And, right now a person can walk into a gun show—and even if that person has a history of mental illness or a felony on their record—he or she can be legally sold a gun without any background check at all; this makes no sense!”

“The overall arching policy goal is that we demand from our elected officials universal background checks on every gun sold in America,” Dees told the Press. “We do not have that now. There are so many loopholes in the laws and they need to be closed up.”

Schanke is looking forward to performing at LIU Post. He believes this election is a tipping point in the gun violence prevention conversation and a call for action.

“You would think there would even be a knee-jerk reaction, and there just never is,” he says about politicians who stall gun legislation. “They offer their prayers and we wait for the next shooting.”

And that’s what this concerted action is hoping to end.

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