Long Island Press

The Long Island Press

Who Turned My Blue State Red?

Sarah Palin exits a voting booth in Alaska on Election Day 2008. (Photo by Shealah Craighead)

By Alec MacGillis ProPublica

This story was co-published with The New York Times’ Sunday Review.

It is one of the central political puzzles of our time: Parts of the country that depend on the safety-net programs supported by Democrats are increasingly voting for Republicans who favor shredding that net.

In his successful bid for the Senate in 2010, the libertarian Rand Paul railed against “intergenerational welfare” and said that “the culture of dependency on government destroys people’s spirits,” yet racked up winning margins in eastern Kentucky, a former Democratic stronghold that is heavily dependent on public benefits. Last year, Paul R. LePage, the fiercely anti-welfare Republican governor of Maine, was re-elected despite a highly erratic first term — with strong support in struggling towns where many rely on public assistance. And earlier this month, Kentucky elected as governor a conservative Republican who had vowed to largely undo the Medicaid expansion that had given the state the country’s largest decrease in the uninsured under Obamacare, with roughly one in 10 residents gaining coverage.

It’s enough to give Democrats the willies as they contemplate a map where the red keeps seeping outward, confining them to ever narrower redoubts of blue. The temptation for coastal liberals is to shake their heads over those godforsaken white-working-class provincials who are voting against their own interests.

But this reaction misses the complexity of the political dynamic that’s taken hold in these parts of the country. It misdiagnoses the Democratic Party’s growing conundrum with working-class white voters. And it also keeps us from fully grasping what’s going on in communities where conditions have deteriorated to the point where researchers have detected alarming trends in their mortality rates.

In eastern Kentucky and other former Democratic bastions that have swung Republican in the past several decades, the people who most rely on the safety-net programs secured by Democrats are, by and large, not voting against their own interests by electing Republicans. Rather, they are not voting, period. They have, as voting data, surveys and my own reporting suggest, become profoundly disconnected from the political process.

The people in these communities who are voting Republican in larger proportions are those who are a notch or two up the economic ladder — the sheriff’s deputy, the teacher, the highway worker, the motel clerk, the gas station owner and the coal miner. And their growing allegiance to the Republicans is, in part, a reaction against what they perceive, among those below them on the economic ladder, as a growing dependency on the safety net, the most visible manifestation of downward mobility in their declining towns.

These are voters like Pamela Dougherty, a 43-year-old nurse I encountered at a restaurant across from a Walmart in Marshalltown, Iowa, where she’d come to hear Rick Santorum, the conservative former Pennsylvania senator with a working-class pitch, just before the 2012 Iowa caucuses. In a lengthy conversation, Dougherty talked candidly about how she had benefited from government support. After having her first child as a teenager, marrying young and divorcing, Dougherty had faced bleak prospects. But she had gotten safety-net support — most crucially, taxpayer-funded tuition breaks to attend community college, where she’d earned her nursing degree.

She landed a steady job at a nearby dialysis center and remarried. But this didn’t make her a lasting supporter of safety-net programs like those that helped her. Instead, Dougherty had become a staunch opponent of them. She was reacting, she said, against the sense of entitlement she saw on display at the dialysis center. The federal government has for years covered kidney dialysis treatment in outpatient centers through Medicare, regardless of patients’ age, partly on the logic that treatment allows people with kidney disease to remain productive. But, Dougherty said, only a small fraction of the 54 people getting dialysis at her center had regular jobs.

“People waltz in when they want to,” she said, explaining that, in her opinion, there was too little asked of patients. There was nothing that said “‘You’re getting a great benefit here, why not put in a little bit yourself.'” At least when she got her tuition help, she said, she had to keep up her grades. “When you’re getting assistance, there should be hoops to jump through so that you’re paying a price for your behavior,” she said. “What’s wrong with that?”

Yes, citizens like Dougherty are at one level voting against their own economic self-interest, to the extent that the Republican approach on taxes is slanted more to the wealthy than that of the Democrats. This was the thesis of Thomas Frank’s 2004 best seller, “What’s the Matter With Kansas,” which argued that these voters had been distracted by social issues like guns and abortion. But on another level, these voters are consciously opting against a Democratic economic agenda that they see as bad for them and good for other people — specifically, those undeserving benefit-recipients in their midst.

I’ve heard variations on this theme all over the country: people railing against the guy across the street who is collecting disability payments but is well enough to go fishing, the families using their food assistance to indulge in steaks. In Pineville, W.Va., in the state’s deeply depressed southern end, I watched in 2013 as a discussion with Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat, quickly turned from gun control to the area’s reliance on government benefits, its high rate of opiate addiction, and whether people on assistance should be tested for drugs. Playing to the room, Senator Manchin declared, “If you’re on a public check, you should be subjected to a random check.”

It’s much the same across the border in eastern Kentucky, which, like southern West Virginia, has been devastated by the collapse of the area’s coal industry. Eastern Kentucky now shows up on maps as the most benefit-dependent region in the country. The welfare reforms of the 1990s have made cash assistance hard to come by, but food-stamp use in the state rose to more than 18 percent of households in 2012 from under 10 percent in 2001.

With reliance on government benefits so prevalent, it creates constant moments of friction, on very intimate terms, said Jim Cauley, a Democratic political consultant from Pike County, a former Democratic bastion in eastern Kentucky that has flipped Republican in the past decade. “There are a lot of people on the draw,” he said. Where opposition to the social safety net has long been fed by the specter of undeserving inner-city African-Americans — think of Ronald Reagan’s notorious “welfare queen” — in places like Pike County it’s fueled, more and more, by people’s resentment over rising dependency they see among their own neighbors, even their own families. “It’s Cousin Bobby — ‘he’s on Oxy and he’s on the draw and we’re paying for him,’ ” Cauley said. “If you need help, no one begrudges you taking the program — they’re good-hearted people. It’s when you’re able-bodied and making choices not to be able-bodied.” The political upshot is plain, Cauley added. “It’s not the people on the draw that’s voting against” the Democrats, he said. “It’s everyone else.”

This month, Pike County went 55 percent for the Republican candidate for governor, Matt Bevin. That’s the opposite of how the county voted a dozen years ago. In that election, Kentucky still sent a Republican to the governor’s mansion — but Pike County went for the Democratic candidate. And 30 percent fewer people voted in the county this month than did in 2003 — 11,223 voters in a county of 63,000, far below the county’s tally of food-stamp recipients, which was more than 17,000 in 2012.

In Maine, LePage was elected governor in 2010 by running on an anti-welfare platform in a state that has also grown more reliant on public programs — in 2013, the state ranked third in the nation for food-stamp use, just ahead of Kentucky. LePage, who grew up poor in a large family, has gone at safety-net programs with a vengeance. He slashed welfare rolls by more than half after imposing a five-year limit, reinstituted a work requirement for food-stamp recipients and refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare to cover 60,000 people. He is now seeking to bar anyone with more than $5,000 in certain assets from receiving food stamps. “I’m not going to help anybody just for the sake of helping,” the governor said in September. “I am not that compassionate.”

His crusade has resonated with many in the state, who re-elected him last year.

That pattern is right in line with surveys, which show a decades-long decline in support for redistributive policies and an increase in conservatism in the electorate even as inequality worsens. There has been a particularly sharp drop in support for redistribution among older Americans, who perhaps see it as a threat to their own Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, researchers such as Kathryn Edin, of Johns Hopkins University, have pinpointed a tendency by Americans in the second lowest quintile of the income ladder — the working or lower-middle class — to dissociate themselves from those at the bottom, where many once resided. “There’s this virulent social distancing — suddenly, you’re a worker and anyone who is not a worker is a bad person,” said Edin. “They’re playing to the middle fifth and saying, ‘I’m not those people.’ ”

Meanwhile, many people who in fact most use and need social benefits are simply not voting at all. Voter participation is low among the poorest Americans, and in many parts of the country that have moved red, the rates have fallen off the charts. West Virginia ranked 50th for turnout in 2012; also in the bottom 10 were other states that have shifted sharply red in recent years, including Kentucky, Arkansas and Tennessee.

In the spring of 2012, I visited a free weekend medical and dental clinic run by the organization Remote Area Medical in the foothills of southern Tennessee. I wanted to ask the hundreds of uninsured people flocking to the clinic what they thought of President Obama and the Affordable Care Act, whose fate was about to be decided by the Supreme Court. I was expecting a “What’s the Matter With Kansas” reaction — anger at the president who had signed the law geared to help them. Instead, I found sympathy for Obama. But had they voted for him? Of course not — almost no one I spoke with voted, in local, state or national elections. Not only that, but they had barely heard of the health care law.

This political disconnect among lower-income Americans has huge ramifications — polls find nonvoters are far more likely to favor spending on the poor and on government services than are voters, and the gap grows even larger among poor nonvoters. In the early 1990s, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky freely cited the desirability of having a more select electorate when he opposed an effort to expand voter registration. And this fall, Scott Jennings, a longtime McConnell adviser, reportedly said low turnout by poor Kentuckians explained why the state’s Obamacare gains wouldn’t help Democrats. “I remember being in the room when Jennings was asked whether or not Republicans were afraid of the electoral consequences of displacing 400,000–500,000 people who have insurance,” State Auditor Adam Edelen, a Democrat who lost his re-election bid this year, told Joe Sonka, a Louisville journalist. “And he simply said, ‘People on Medicaid don’t vote.’ ”

Republicans would argue that the shift in their direction among voters slightly higher up the ladder is the natural progression of things — people recognize that government programs are prolonging the economic doldrums and that Republicans have a better economic program.

So where does this leave Democrats and anyone seeking to expand and build lasting support for safety-net programs such as Obamacare?

For starters, it means redoubling efforts to mobilize the people who benefit from the programs. This is no easy task with the rural poor, who are much more geographically scattered than their urban counterparts. Not helping matters in this regard is the decline of local institutions like labor unions — while the United Mine Workers of America once drove turnout in coal country, today there is not a single unionized mine still operating in Kentucky.

But it also means reckoning with the other half of the dynamic — finding ways to reduce the resentment that those slightly higher on the income ladder feel toward dependency in their midst. One way to do this is to make sure the programs are as tightly administered as possible. Instances of fraud and abuse are far rarer than welfare opponents would have one believe, but it only takes a few glaring instances to create a lasting impression. Edin, the Hopkins researcher, suggests going further and making it easier for those collecting disability to do part-time work over the table, not just to make them seem less shiftless in the eyes of their neighbors, but to reduce the recipients’ own sense of social isolation.

The best way to reduce resentment, though, would be to bring about true economic growth in the areas where the use of government benefits is on the rise, the sort of improvement that is now belatedly being discussed for coal country, including on the presidential campaign trail. If fewer people need the safety net to get by, the stigma will fade, and low-income citizens will be more likely to re-engage in their communities — not least by turning out to vote.


Related stories: For more coverage of politics, read ProPublica’s previous reporting on Hillary Clinton’s mixed record on Wall Street, how the gas tax impasse explains Washington and how Congress explains its absences.


ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ Invades ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’

By Chuck Cannini

The Force will be with you, always, especially since Disney-controlled Star Wars’ marketing campaign has become the ultimate power in the galaxy. Hype leading up to Episode VII: The Force Awakens, in theaters Dec. 18, covers every parsec of the media. Monday night was no exception as ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live dedicated a full episode to that galaxy far, far away.

From a certain point of view, the highlights were few and far between. Ewok-sized bits of information, most of which fanboys probably already knew, were casually mentioned during the hour-long show.

The biggest news was from director J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Lost). Though reported two days prior, Abrams confirmed with Jimmy Kimmel that The Force Awakens was fully armed and operational as of early Saturday morning.

That still left anxious fans to count down 25 days and 10 minutes until the premiere, which may be worse than being slowly digested for over 1,000 years inside a Sarlacc. Kimmel pressed for even a word of new information, which turned out to be the first spoken word in the new film.

Here it is.

Get ready.


To the roar of the crowd, the mundane pronoun exploded onto a screen in Star Wars’ iconic yellow font, as seen in the film’s opening crawls. Now fans have 25 days to ponder, “’This’ what?”

Abrams also brought a never-before-seen 16-second clip, which can be viewed at the end of the Youtube video below.

Kimmel and Abrams were later joined by some of the cast members. Daisey Ridley plays Rey, a scavenger living on a desolate planet. John Boyega (Attack the Block) crashes into Rey’s life as Finn, an AWOL stormtrooper. The duo will cross paths with Adam Driver (HBO’s Girls), who wields a three-bladed lightsaber as Kylo Ren. And Carrie Fisher reprises her role as Princess – sorry, General – Leia.

The new leads detailed the moments they found out they had been cast in Star Wars.

“I was, like, 19,” Carrie Fisher joked, referring to her days of cinnamon-bun hairstyles and underwear-less outfits beginning in 1976.

Ridley was at a play, Boyega’s dad didn’t know what Star Wars even was, and Abrams accidentally spoiled Driver’s surprise to his wife, but each shared cute moments that would warm even Darth Vader’s cold, mechanized heart. After all, who wouldn’t be excited to be in a Star Wars film?

The cast also emphasized the secrecy surrounding their roles and the film’s production. When asked if it was always him acting beneath his helmeted character, Adam Driver nervously looked at Abrams.

The director is known for keeping his projects, especially major productions like Star Trek and now Star Wars, under lock and key. According to Boyega, the cast could only practice their lines at Pinewood Studios in England, where the scripts were not allowed to leave the premises in order to reduce spoiler leaks.

Other brief appearances included R2-D2, who whistled and beeped around the set, as well as Harrison Ford, who will return as an aged Han Solo alongside his furry sidekick Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew).

We would be honored if Mark Hamill would join us, but the one and only Luke Skywalker was yet again absent.

“Where’s Luke?” has become one of the latest questions trending among Star Wars fans, opening the blast doors to speculation about the iconic Jedi’s whereabouts in The Force Awakens as well as his allegiance to the Light and Dark Sides of the Force.

It’s got fans talking, though, looking to the future, to the horizon. The hype train isn’t stopping. Last week, EA DICE released a rebooted Star Wars Battlefront to video game consoles. HP unveiled an Empire-themed notebook laptop. Google encouraged users to choose between the Light and Dark Side, the decision altering several Google apps. And North American film fans topped it all off with record-breaking advance ticket presales exceeding $50 million, with a month still left to go.

Everything is proceeding as Disney has foreseen.

Do This: Long Island Concerts & Events November 26 – December 2

Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts
Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts rock The Paramount in Huntington Nov. 29!

[Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts rock The Paramount in Huntington Nov. 29! Photo: Weiland’s Facebook page]

Run For Fun Turkey Trot
Montauk’s annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot is back for its 39th year. Start Thanksgiving off right with a three or six mile race through the picturesque beach town. (A run in the morning means you can indulge in extra calories at dinner.) Check-in is from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. but get there early—the first 300 participants receive a commemorative t-shirt. Village Green, Montauk. montaukchamber.com $10. 8 a.m. November 26.

Festival of Trees
Take in the spectacular array of designer decorated trees, stroll through the gingerbread village, check off the folks on your holiday shopping list at the vendor marketplace, decorate a cookie, and enjoy live music at the 26th annual Long Island Festival of Trees. All trees and gingerbread creations are for sale. Don’t miss this incredible event for a good cause—all proceeds go to the United Cerebral Palsy Association. Cradle of Aviation Museum, Charles Lindbergh Blvd., Garden City. cradleofaviation.org $10-$15. 10 a.m. November 27, 28 and 29.

Dance Gavin Dance 10-Year Anniversary Tour
Progressive, post-hardcore, experimental band Dance Gavin Dance brings their hard-hitting lyrics, unexpected vocal sounds and sick guitar riffs to Long Island. This year, the Sacramento, Calif. natives released their sixth studio album, Instant Gratification, showcasing their collective talent and willingness to push musical boundaries. Slaves, A Lot Like Birds, Dayshell and Strawberry Girls make this a must-see show. Revolution Bar & Music Hall, 140 Merrick Rd., Amityville. clubloaded.com/events $20. 5 p.m. November 27.

Get The Led Out—The American Led Zeppelin
The closest you can get to the real thing, these dedicated musicians are committed to delivering the Earth-shattering songs of The Almighty Led Zeppelin [Video Of “Immigrant Song” Above] as honestly and passionately as possible. Having garnered a national reputation as the “American Led Zeppelin” and best tribute band, Get The Led Out focuses on Zep’s earlier years and plays some of the deeper cuts that were rarely heard in concert. Their acoustic versions of “Tangerine” and “Battle of Evermore” will leave you breathless. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $24.50-$50. 7 p.m. November 27.

Funk Flex and Lil Kim
America’s number-one radio personality and the Queen Bee herself on one stage? No, this is not too good to be true—these two hip hop legends are joining forces for one incredible show. For more than a decade, two million listeners a week tune into Flex’s Hot 97 radio show, where he’s played more than one Lil Kim hit over the years. Actress, rapper, songwriter, record producer, and model, Kim has established herself as one of the world’s most accomplished female rappers. She knows exactly what her audience wants—classics from 1996’s double platinum Hard Core, plus newer tracks from her mixtapes Black Friday and Hard Core 2k14. Suffolk Theater, 118 E Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com $35. 10 p.m. November 27.

Dark Side Orchestra—Celebrating The Grateful Dead Experience
When those who knew the Grateful Dead [Video Above] best—band co-founders, former band members and sound engineers—say that the Dark Side Orchestra is an amazing representation of the original, you know you’re doing something right. DSO continues the Dead’s spirit by dipping into every incarnation of their 40-year career to cover original concerts in full. The result? Fans get to “see” a Dead show that happened before they were even born! Travel back in time and release your inner Deadhead at this one-of-a-kind show. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $39.50-$75. 8 p.m. November 28.

Nick DiPaolo
Veteran stand-up comedian and fixture of the legendary Comedy Central roasts, DiPaolo knows exactly how to make you laugh. He built his fan base by calling it like he sees it and his audiences love his authenticity. His biting sarcasm has been showcased on radio shows including The Howard Stern Show, The Opie and Anthony Show and The Dennis Miller Show, as well as TV’s Tough Crowd with Colin Quinn and Louie, featuring Louis C.K. Get ready to laugh! Suffolk Theater, 118 E Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com $40. 8 p.m. November 28.

David Benoit Christmas Tribute to Charlie Brown
Nothing says Christmas spirit like your favorite holiday songs, and no holiday playlist is complete without the jazz piano selections from the Vince Guaraldi Trio’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer David Benoit brings the Peanuts gang to life in this tribute. His prominent Charlie Brown related projects reflect his passion for the music of original Peanuts composer Vince Guaraldi, cementing Benoit’s role as his musical heir. Madison Theatre at Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre. madisontheatreny.org $50-$95. 8 p.m. November 28.

Scott Weiland and The Wildabouts
The former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots [Video Above] and his new band, The Wildabouts, are coming to town. Expect all the hits that made STP a household name throughout the ’90s, as well as tunes from his time in supergroup Velvet Revolver. The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $15-$50. 8 p.m. November 29.

The Brian Setzer Orchestra 12th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour
The former Stray Cats front man and hometown rockabilly hero returns to Long Island with his 18-piece orchestra on their Christmas Rocks Extravaganza! tour. The concert will include Setzer’s legendary guitar magic on hits such as “Rock This Town,” “Stray Cat Strut” and much more, as well as his re-imagined and acclaimed Holiday classics. NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $29.50-$39.50. 7 p.m. November 29.

Lost and Recently Found Film Treasures—Lecture by Glenn Andreiev
Filmmaker and historian Glenn Andreiev offers a behind-the-scenes look at his upcoming documentary on “lost film,” the largely disregarded portion of film history that historians have worked tirelessly to resurrect from what remains and re-present to audiences for the first time in decades. Sky Room Café at Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. cinemaartscentre.org $15. 7:30 p.m. November 30.

Toys For Tots Toy Drive
Children love toys. Toys entertain them. Toys unleash their imaginations. Toys keep the lil tots out of their parents’ hair. Unfortunately, some children go without these precious gifts on the holidays. Come donate some toys for the underprivileged kids out there and make this holiday season special, won’t you? Come share the holiday cheer. Come open up your heart and change a some kids’ lives. Fox Hollow, 7725 Jericho Tpke., Woodbury. thefoxhollow.com Free with unwrapped toy. 6:30 p.m. December 1.

David Glukh Duo
The Juilliard School graduate has been a member of Dallas Brass, a bandleader, composer and soloist, who has wowed audiences around the world. This musical genius will present an afternoon of Klezmer, Jazz and Classical music performed on his signature piccolo trumpet accompanied by piano. Wow! Landmark on Main St., 232 Main St., Port Washington. landmarkonmainstreet.org Free. 2 p.m. December 2.

Emily St. John Mandel
This young Canadian novelist has been wowing the literary world and racking up prestigious award after award. Her fourth and latest novel, Station Eleven, is a futuristic, post-apocalyptic adventure through a world decimated by the effects of a deadly virus, and follows a Shakespearian actor troupe town to town around the Great Lakes region. This is a rare opportunity to see her up close and personal, speaking about her extraordinary word creations! Leo A. Guthart Cultural Center Theater, Hofstra University, Hempstead. hofstra.edu Free. 7 p.m. December 2.

Thomas Dale
The comedian, not the former Nassau County police commissioner. (Thank goodness! Read about that tricky and elusive lil fella HERE!) Brokerage Comedy Club, 2797 Merrick Rd., Bellmore. brokerage.govs.com $22. 8 p.m. November 27, 7:30 p.m. November 28.

Laughs For Eddie Dunn
Laughs For Eddie Dunn: Share smiles, laughs and love while helping Eddie and his family beat cancer at The Brokerage Comedy Club in Bellmore on Dec. 6!

Laughs For Eddie Dunn
Eddie Dunn has a big heart. He loves his family and friends, loves playing pool, and loves making people smile. After his father passed away a few years ago, Eddie stepped up to the plate for his family, taking on not only his dad’s responsibilities looking over the well-being of his mother, three sisters and two grandchildren, but continuing to share love and joy to those in desperate need, donning his father’s colorful costume, hat and face paint as a clown alongside his mother, spreading laughter to children and the elderly alike. This must-attend fundraising event is furtherance of that tradition, as comedians take to the mic and tell jokes, now, in Eddie’s honor. Eddie and his family need your help. At 40 years old, Eddie has recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and this sinister disease has spread to his blood and bones. Eddie’s not a quitter, and will never give up the fight, or hope. Come down and share a laugh or three with this special, much loved man. Join Eddie, his family, and friends, in this extraordinary expression of life, love and laughs. Help fight this insidious disease, and help spread some light in the process. If you can’t make it, read more about Eddie, his plight, visit and contribute to Eddie Dunn’s Go Fund Me account: https://www.gofundme.com/Eddie-Dunn-s-story. Eddie, his family, and all his friends Thank You from the bottom of their hearts. The Brokerage, 2797 Merrick Rd., Bellmore. govs.com For tickets, call 516-798-2989 or 516-655-1424. $25 Donation. Doors open at 6 p.m. Showtime: 7:30 p.m. December 6.

–Compiled by Timothy Bolger, Desiree D’orio & Zachary B. Tirana III

What Was Revealed in the Latest Episode of ‘The Walking Dead’ Could Be a Real Shocker

By Lissa Harris


Glenn is alive. This big fat cat was let out of the bag in Sunday night’s episode of The Walking Dead. Glenn’s fate was one of the best cliff hangers this season, but Sunday night’s cliff hanger came in at a close second. Since this big reveal, the virtual world has imploded in an attempt to either laud or vilify Glenn’s escape under a dumpster after he used Nicholas’ body as an edible shield.

This was one of the show’s most dramatic moments but not one of its most important.

A few weeks ago I argued for the paramountcy of episode 4, “Here’s Not Here,” the relatively slow-paced back-story on how Morgan had acquired his “all life is precious” ideology.

The debate between “kill or be killed” and “all life is precious” has been the show’s meat and potatoes all along, so to speak, and as we head toward next week’s mid-season finale, the writers’ are gearing up to serve us the main course.

Last Sunday’s episode 7, “Heads Up,” gives us a variety of ways to look at this issue. Here’s how Morgan, Rick, Carol and Michonne discuss Morgan’s decision to let some members of the Wolves gang live after they attacked him. Rick argues with him: “Do you really think you can do that without getting blood on your hands?” Morgan’s painfully honest answer is: “I don’t know.”

There is a brief exchange between Sam, the son of Dr. Pete, the killer in the season 5 finale, and Carol, TWD’s resident Grinch whose heart is three sizes too small. Sam asks Carol, “If you kill people, do you turn into one of the monsters?”

But Carol misunderstands the questions and answers him the only way she possibly could. “The only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster is killing,” she explains.

In another scene, Rick and Tara save bone-head Spencer, who is trying to exit Alexandria via a zip line that eventually, inevitably, snaps. Deanna, former leader of Alexandria, asks Rick why he bothered to save Spencer instead of using him as a decoy to save the others. Rick explains that he saved Spencer because he is her son and he values Deanna’s friendship.

“Wrong answer,” Deanna tells him, implying that she thinks Rick saved Spencer because he’s really a good person who values human life.

Does this mean that when push comes to shove, Rick subscribes to Morgan’s philosophy that “all life is precious”?

I would say that the show’s writers lean toward Morgan’s side of the debate. Each scene described above would suggest it. To me, this is the episode’s big reveal. Oh sure, they have nine more episodes to play with our emotions and keep us flip-flopping on the ideological scale between survival of the fittest and respect for all living things.

But we know where our beloved characters are going to land. Even amid the terror and the fear that comes from their dire predicament, their humanity depends upon their ability to show compassion and trust toward their fellow human beings. They are prepared to accept the possibility that their good will may be taken advantage of, rather than allow their connection to each other to be overruled by dread and hatred. As The Walking Dead has shown us since the very first episode, their vulnerability is their greatest asset because it creates inexhaustible courage. And with limitless bravery, our heroes can face any obstacle, even a church tower collapsing on their wall.

Jon Snow Is Alive, Not Dead! HBO Game Of Thrones Season 6 Poster Is Proof!

Game Of Thrones Jon Snow Not Dead
HBO'S 'Game Of Thrones' Season 6 Poster Is Proof Jon Snow Is Not Dead!

By Zack Tirana

We knew it couldn’t be true.

We knew deep down in our hearts, in our bones, in our very souls, that when those scumbag “brothers” of The Night’s Watch mercilessly knifed him at the end of Season 5 (that first slice from that lil fella; how damn cold), it just couldn’t be.

We knew he’d rise again.

“Jon Snow can’t be dead. He just can’t!” some of you likely yelled [there was a lot of that going on over here in the Press offices, that’s for sure]. “There’s no way!”

“The Red Witch, she’ll bring him back, surely,” others reassured themselves. “She has magical powers. Stanis is nothing!! The true savior of the Seven Realms has got to be Jon fkn Snow!!”

“I’ve been staying up till dawn since the last episode, reading all the books—but only the chapters named after Jon Snow,” said another, who may or not have been me. “He’s a warg in the books! He’s a shape-shifter, too! He enters Ghost as soon as he falls asleep! There’s no way Jon Snow is dead! Noooooooooo!!!”

Such optimism was born of pure desperation, of course. Dread. Devastation, really. For a while there, things got a lil dark, have to admit. So much grief. So many rumors. Kit Harington telling talk show hosts Jon Snow was dead. Arya and the beautiful Dragon Mother doing the same. Oh, Daenerys!! Drogon, wake up! Your queen mother needs you!!

Game of Thrones Director David Nutter squashing President Obama’s hope, proclaiming that The Bastard of Winterfell was dead as a doorknob, too—or more precisely: “Jon Snow is deader than dead.”

That’s not what this new Season 6 poster depicts! Jon Snow is the only one in it! And he has blood splattering his face that wasn’t there in the final scene of Season 5!

Jon Snow cannot be dead! Jon Snow is alive! This poster is proof!!

There is hope. Long live Jon Snow.

Game Of Thrones Jon Snow Not Dead
HBO’S ‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 6 Poster Is Proof Jon Snow Is Not Dead!

Alure Home Improvements Instructs How To Properly Drill A Hole Through Tile

Alure Home Improvements
Alure Home Improvements Chief Operating Officer Doug Cornwell instructs homeowners how to properly drill through tile on a recent episode of Alure's "60-Second Fix"!
Sponsored Content Brought To You By Alure Home Improvements

Today, Doug Cornwell, chief operating officer of Alure Home Improvements, takes us into the bathroom in this video installment of Alure Home Improvements’ “60 Second Fix: How To Drill Through Tile Without Cracking It” so we can learn how to do it right without destroying the tile in the process.

Drilling through wallboard and wood is a breeze, but tile penetration presents a challenge. A slip of the drill bit can leave a chunk, a crack or gouge that can never be fixed. One false move, and the tile is ruined.

No, you want to do it the right way, and here’s how.

But perhaps you’re asking yourself, why would you want to drill a hole in your bathroom tile anyway? For a host of reasons. Say you want to install a towel rack by the shower stall or a toilet paper holder where it’s most convenient. Perhaps you want to put up a shelf for your reading matter or a flower pot. Whatever the reason, here’s how to learn to drill a hole in the tile without boring a hole in your head.

The first step is perhaps as important as actually getting the drill bit to bite into the tile. You must mark out the location as exactly as possible. Preparation is the key. You can always erase a pencil mark, but if you drill a hole in the wrong place, forget it. You’ll have to change your project to fit the hole, and sometimes overcoming that mistake could prove impossible.

“Make sure that your measurements are specific,” says Doug Cornwell, “because once you’re drilling in tile, it’s impossible to patch. It’s not like sheetrock.”

No, you can’t spackle, paste and paint your way out when it comes to drilling in tile.

“Once you put a hole in tile, you’re pretty much done,” says Doug. “You have to remove the tile if it’s in the wrong place.”

So be very careful and conscientious about how you mark it out.

Fortunately for the homeowner, most of these fixtures come with their own templates or guides, so you can lay them against the wall to help you designate the properly distanced holes for your drilling.

In this video Cornwell has the luxury of demonstrating the technique just for instructional purposes. But watch him and learn from the master. He takes his pencil, and with a quick gesture, his X literally marks the spot!

Next up, choose the ideal drill bit.

“I prefer this pointed spade masonry bit to a typical masonry bit,” he says, pointing to it with his finger. “It has a little point on it, which helps to keep the bit from traveling along the tile.” That’s the issue with drilling into the tile’s hard surface. If the drill doesn’t catch immediately, the momentum of the spinning bit could throw you off line.

The pointed drill bits will actually stay in one location.

And here’s another quick tip before you begin to drill. Before you insert the bit into the drill, line up the tip at the marked location and give the end a gentle tap or two with a hammer, just so it makes a good first impression.

Then put the bit in your drill and aim it at the intersection of the X. Then turn on your drill.

“We’re going to start slow,” he says. “You can actually hear it grind a little bit.”

That’s how you know it’s digging into the surface, he advises. Next you see the dust come out of the hole from the drilling.”

Once you see that, and you know the bit is on track, you can speed up the drilling.

“Push it until it goes all the way through,” he says.

Click here to learn more about Alure Home Improvements

The keys in this process are marking the exact location and using the preferred drill bit with the pointy tip so it won’t travel along the tile face. Then, start slowly to make sure the drill bit has penetrated the surface. Once you’re in, then you can speed up the drilling until you can push the drill completely through the tile.

See? That’s the way to do it! Thank you, once again, Alure Home Improvements!

As Heartland Shows in Suffolk, Dollars and Planning Sense Are Not in the Same Zone

Heartland Town Square
Artist's rendering of the proposed "Heartland Town Square" in Islip Town, which would include more than 9,100 housing units and more than 4 million square feet of office space and would affect many more residents than just those living within the town.

By Rich Murdocco

When the shovels finally break through the virgin dirt, the press cameras click, the blue ribbon parts and the courteous applause swells. It is in this very moment that land, once wooded and vibrant, becomes “improved.”

But the moment that the fate of the land is actually sealed is when an elected official, in the deciding majority vote, approves a change-of-zone for the parcel. At this time, the policymaker has heard all sides of the debate concerning the vote ad-nauseam – from the “concerned” residents who, most of the time, are looking to protect their homestead, and from the “concerned” developers, who, most of the time, are “concerned” about their project’s progress, and are looking to make good on their sizable investments.

Before that vote is cast, the policymakers should have been informed by the municipality’s planning department about the ins and outs of the proposal, answering critical questions such as these: “Can the impacted neighborhoods absorb the after-effects of growth? What are the assessed needs of the community and does this project meet them? How does the public benefit from this zoning change?”

Armed with a thoughtful assessment of the project’s merits, the policymaker would cast a vote that has the potential to change the course of history not only for the community, but the region as a whole.

Sadly, this scenario is seldom the case. In a system mired down by insider deals and local “politics as usual,” local officials usually vote on zoning changes less on sound planning principles, and more on flavor-of-the-day dealings. To make matters worse, developers often get cozy with advocacy groups, who lobby the local municipality to build projects that fit not only their vision of what a region should look like, but to suit their own interests as well.

In Suffolk County, the specter of Heartland looms over the former Pilgrim State Psychiatric Center in the Town of Islip. The 495-acre site, in development limbo since the 1980s, is slowly moving towards “improvement” of its own. Thanks to an agreeable Islip Town Board and a Suffolk County Executive who, guided by his own development goals of tying the area together with Bus Rapid Transit and other various transit-oriented projects, the $4-billion Heartland project seems to have evolved in a few short years from being a nonstarter in the township to holding the future of not only Islip, but of Long Island as a whole.

We could go on, lest we forget the money.  In the end, development is always about the money.

In particular, $40,000, which is the ample sum developer Jerry Wolkoff gave to the Suffolk Democratic Committee on the eve of Nov. 3, Election Day. Aside from the timing, what makes this donation curious is why it happened in the first place. Current incumbent Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was not only ahead in the polls by a substantial margin, he had a political fiscal war chest that some villages would envy.

Richard Schaffer, Suffolk Democratic chairman, told Newsday’s Rick Brand that his ties to Wolkolf go back to when he was a county legislator. “We’ve always had a good working relationship,” Schaffer said, “and I consider him a longtime friend and supporter.”

Is Wolkoff trying to leverage his ample resources  to oust the current GOP-led town government? Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter, Bellone’s foe in the 2011 County Executive race, seems to have mended fences and built bridges with her former political foe since she took office in Islip Town hall earlier this year. With the Town of Brookhaven she’s forged a widely celebrated “regional planning alliance” over the longtime-coming Ronkonkoma Hub Project.

This alliance, along with Bellone’s deliberate attempts to cross the partisan line and link up with the GOP in Islip and Brookhaven, speaks to why Wolkoff’s money may be better spent elsewhere. Simply put, Wolkoff may not see the return on investment he was hoping for.

Perhaps Wolkoff is looking beyond short-term politics to remind the current regime in Hauppauge that he is still here, and still waiting for his mega-project proposal with its 9,100 apartments, 1 million square feet of retail and 3 million square feet of office space, to be approved by lawmakers. If the approval comes from the GOP or Democrats, it doesn’t matter to him—he just wants that change of zoning.

In an ideal world, development approvals should come after a recommendation in a comprehensive, science-backed study and a measured assessment of an area’s needs. Instead, the process has been subverted by those who have the biggest checkbook. Heartland should be built – but only if its expansion is phased in to accommodate changing market dynamics, and scaled down substantively so it doesn’t overburden the area’s inadequate infrastructure.

One can bet that residents in the areas Heartland will impact definitely have more than 40,000 reasons why the project isn’t right for Long Island. Unfortunately, none of that matters, because they can’t fill a political coffer like $40,000 can.

Rich Murdocco writes about Long Island’s land use and real estate development issues. He received his Master’s in Public Policy at Stony Brook University, where he studied regional planning under Dr. Lee Koppelman, Long Island’s veteran master planner. Murdocco is a regular contributor to the Long Island Press. More of his views can be found on www.TheFoggiestIdea.org or follow him on Twitter @TheFoggiestIdea.

What’s the Evidence Mass Surveillance Works? Not Much

National Security Agency headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland

By Lauren Kirchner ProPublica

Current and former government officials have been pointing to the terror attacks in Paris as justification for mass surveillance programs. CIA Director John Brennan accused privacy advocates of “hand-wringing” that has made “our ability collectively internationally to find these terrorists much more challenging.” Former National Security Agency and CIA director Michael Hayden said, “In the wake of Paris, a big stack of metadata doesn’t seem to be the scariest thing in the room.”

Ultimately, it’s impossible to know just how successful sweeping surveillance has been, since much of the work is secret. But what has been disclosed so far suggests the programs have been of limited value. Here’s a roundup of what we know.

An internal review of the Bush administration’s warrantless program – called Stellarwind – found it resulted in few useful leads from 2001–2004, and none after that. New York Times reporter Charlie Savage obtained the findings through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit and published them in his new book, Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post–9/11 Presidency:

[The FBI general counsel] defined as useful those [leads] that made a substantive contribution to identifying a terrorist, or identifying a potential confidential informant. Just 1.2 percent of them fit that category. In 2006, she conducted a comprehensive study of all the leads generated from the content basket of Stellarwind between March 2004 and January 2006 and discovered that zero of those had been useful.

In an endnote, Savage then added:

The program was generating numerous tips to the FBI about suspicious phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and it was the job of the FBI field offices to pursue those leads and scrutinize the people behind them. (The tips were so frequent and such a waste of time that the field offices reported back, in frustration, “You’re sending us garbage.”)

In 2013, the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies analyzed terrorism cases from 2001 on, and determined that the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records “was not essential to preventing attacks.” According to the group’s report,

In at least 48 instances, traditional surveillance warrants obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court were used to obtain evidence through intercepts of phone calls and e-mails, said the researchers, whose results are in an online database.

More than half of the cases were initiated as a result of traditional investigative tools. The most common was a community or family tip to the authorities. Other methods included the use of informants, a suspicious-activity report filed by a business or community member to the FBI, or information turned up in investigations of non-terrorism cases.

Another 2014 report by the nonprofit New America Foundation echoed those conclusions. It described the government claims about the success of surveillance programs in the wake of the 9/11 attacks as “overblown and even misleading.”

An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal.

Edward Snowden’s leaks about the scope of the NSA’s surveillance system in the summer of 2013 put government officials on the defensive. Many politicians and media outlets echoed the agency’s claim that it had successfully thwarted more than 50 terror attacks. ProPublica examined the claim and found “no evidence that the oft-cited figure is accurate.”

It’s impossible to assess the role NSA surveillance played in the 54 cases because, while the agency has provided a full list to Congress, it remains classified.

The NSA has publicly discussed four cases, and just one in which surveillance made a significant difference. That case involved a San Diego taxi driver named Basaaly Moalin, who sent $8,500 to the Somali terrorist group al-Shabab. But even the details of that case are murky. From the Washington Post:

In 2009, an FBI field intelligence group assessed that Moalin’s support for al-Shabab was not ideological. Rather, according to an FBI document provided to his defense team, Moalin probably sent money to an al-Shabab leader out of “tribal affiliation” and to “promote his own status” with tribal elders.

Also in the months after the Snowden revelations, the Justice Department said publicly that it had used warrantless wiretapping to gather evidence in a criminal case against another terrorist sympathizer, which fueled ongoing debates over the constitutionality of those methods. From the New York Times:

Prosecutors filed such a notice late Friday in the case of Jamshid Muhtorov, who was charged in Colorado in January 2012 with providing material support to the Islamic Jihad Union, a designated terrorist organization based in Uzbekistan.

Mr. Muhtorov is accused of planning to travel abroad to join the militants and has pleaded not guilty. A criminal complaint against him showed that much of the government’s case was based on intercepted e-mails and phone calls.

Local police departments have also acknowledged the limitations of mass surveillance, as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis did after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. Federal authorities had received Russian intelligence reports about bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but had not shared this information with authorities in Massachusetts or Boston. During a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Davis said,

“There’s no computer that’s going to spit out a terrorist’s name. It’s the community being involved in the conversation and being appropriately open to communicating with law enforcement when something awry is identified. That really needs to happen and should be our first step.”

Correction, Nov. 18, 2015: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology’s report about the effectiveness of the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records was issued in 2014. The report came out at the end of 2013.

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‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2’: Finale Gets 3-Fingered Salute

By Chuck Cannini

This weekend, as Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 opened in theaters across the country, militant fans of the series—appropriately called Tributes—were dispatched to the war-torn front lines of the Capitol. To the distant crack of gunfire and explosions, they proceeded down lifeless streets of rubble and smoke, littered with a minefield of barbarous traps, as they headed down the homestretch of the adapted dystopian series’ finale.

Some moviegoers simply appreciated the bow-wielding Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as one of the better heroines since Harry Potter‘s Hermione Granger. Others, no doubt heart-eyed, drooled over the hunky bods of brainwashed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and pretty boy Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), whose romantic roles were both barely a cut above Twilight’s pathetic Edward and Jacob. Of course, watching the bloody and tense rebellion escalate against the ruthless dictator President Snow (Donald Sutherland) may have been action enough.

Despite never quite reaching the emotional peak achieved in Suzanne Collins’ novel—most notably during a few major death scenes—Mockingjay Part 2, the final installment of the beloved Hunger Game series, faithfully packed all this in an explosive finale, a welcome improvement from the lackluster, Mockingjay Part 1 (2014), which just delayed the inevitable.

Capitalizing on the curse first cast by the Harry Potter franchise, Hunger Games divided yet another young adult series’ final book into two movies. The glaring difference was that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows transfigured a grand total of 759 pages of plot compared to Mockingjay’s 390-page storyline. In other words, the producers ensured that the box office odds were in their favor.

But The Hunger Games was more than a cash cow milking young adults. Political, social, cultural, even environmental messages run through the books’ pages and the films’ reels. If the striking images of children facing off in fights to the death weren’t gut-wrenching enough, tense subjects like tyrannical governments or the wealth gap between the impoverished and the rich caught fire off-screen.

In June 2014, protestors in Bangkok were apprehended for flashing the Hunger Games’ three-fingered salute in opposition to Thailand’s authoritarian government.

During the Fergusson, Missouri riots, Katniss’ declaration, “If we burn, you burn with us,” was spray-painted on the Gateway Arch in St. Louis following the grand jury’s exoneration of white police officer Darren Wilson, who’d shot Michael Brown, an African American teenager.

There is also a campaign, “Odds In Our Favor,” fighting economic inequality in America (#MyHungerGames).

The movie stayed true to the books, right down to the last line, but Katniss’ final journey never hit home–the way she unfailingly did with her bow and arrow.

But maybe Mockingjay Part 2’s meh farewell was more of a “thank you” from the fans for all the series’ inspiration. If fingers represented stars, Mockingjay Part 2 gets a three-fingered salute with an eerie four-note whistle, gestures that symbolized gratitude, admiration, or farewell to a loved one in the once dystopian nation of Panem.

Do This: Long Island Concerts & Events November 19 – 25

Jennifer Nettles
Country music songstress Jennifer Nettles serenades NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Nov. 22!

Oh Canada! Manitoba Hal and Shawna Caspi
From the moment he plucks his ukulele and she strums her guitar, powerful and engaging melodies and warm vocals riff through the air and land in the ears of an ever-growing fanbase. Sky Room Café at Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Ave., Huntington. cinemaartscentre.org $15. 7:30 p.m. November 19.

Miracle on 34th Street
Possibly delusional, a white-bearded gentleman claiming to be the real Santa Claus brings about a genuine “Miracle on 34th Street,” spreading a wave of love throughout New York City, and convincing a divorced, cynical single mother, her somber daughter, and the entire state of New York that Santa Claus is no myth. Based on the classic movie by the same name and written by Meredith Willson, of The Music Man fame, this joyous, heart-warming musical is pure family entertainment and the perfect holiday treat. John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main Street, Northport. engemantheater.com $69-$74. November 19-January 3.

Holiday Lights Spectacular at Jones Beach
This brilliantly illuminating 2.5-mile display returns for the second year after a seven-year absence. It will feature new themed displays throughout the park as well as returning favorites including the “12 Days of Christmas” and “Santa’s Beach Party.” The park will also feature an expanded Holiday Village, including a brand new ice skating rink as well as returning favorites, such as pictures with Santa, Holiday Hay Maze, cheerful holiday music and movies, and plenty of refreshments. Jones Beach State Park, 1000 Ocean Pkwy., Wantagh. jonesbeach.com $20 per car. Dusk. Opens November 20.

Claudia Schmidt
Schmidt’s performance interweaves anecdotes, original compositions and very personalized versions of the work of others, giving her audience a unique look at the world from someone who reveals what she sees with clarity, humor and a sense of wonder. Our Times Coffeehouse, 38 Old Country Rd., Garden City. ourtimescoffeehouse.org $15. 8 p.m. November 20.

Tony Bennett
For more than 60 years this American legend has been showered with appreciation by the likes of Bob Hope, Bill Clinton, Lady Gaga and countless others across the globe. This humanitarian artist with a pitch-perfect voice still evokes well-deserved astonishment and praise from audiences everywhere. NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $76.50. 8 p.m. November 20, 21.

The Producers
The live performance of this hysterical musical is not to be missed. The story follows two show-biz schemers, Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom, who concoct a ridiculous plot to make millions on Broadway by promoting a whopping failure, a musical about Hitler. Who’d want to see that clunker? But the joke’s on them. Staller Center for the Arts, Stony Brook University, 100 Nicolls Rd., Stony Brook. stallercenter.com $52. 8 p.m. November 21.

Lucy Kaplansky & Richard Shindell
Innovative, original, and spiritual, these legendary performers combine their eclectic love songs to create haunting melodies of adulterous romance and other tantalizing topics. Landmark on Main St., 232 Main St., Port Washington. landmarkonmainstreet.org $42-$67. 8 p.m. November 21.

Whitford/St. Holmes
With Aerosmith and Ted Nugnet’s record-selling fame behind them, these two joined their guitars for one epic tour. Expect incendiary guitar work and lots and lots of mind-bending shreddin! Revolution Bar & Music Hall, 140 Merrick Rd., Amityville. clubloaded.com/events $30-$75. 7:30 p.m. November 21.

Monroe Martin
He twisted his memories as an orphan into comedic brilliance that propelled his career in NYC. Now, the breakout artist is recognized in such venues as Adam Devin’s House Party to Gotham Live on Comedy Central. He’s sure to leave you laughing. Brokerage Comedy Club, 2797 Merrick Rd., Bellmore. brokerage.govs.com $17. 8 p.m. November 20, 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. November 21.

Frank Caliendo
Whether it’s his insane antics on MADTV, his sideline snipes and belly busters as Fox NFL Sunday‘s chief prognosticator, or his absolutely knee-slapping, oh-my-God-my-britches-hurt-too-much-from-side-splitting stand-up comedy, this funnyman dishes out the laughter, in over-sized portions. His impressions? Can you say: “Thank you, sir, may we have another?” Of course you will! The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $30-$75. 7:30 p.m. November 21.

The music world can barely contain itself as this rap great’s fourth solo album, Top 5 Dead or Alive, is set to drop November 20th after five years in the making. The track list reads like a who’s who of hip hop, featuring appearances by Puff Daddy, Jeezy, Pharrell, Ne-Yo, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa and more. Always the entertainer, Jadakiss is sure to deliver old favorites like “Knock Yourself Out” and “We Gonna Make It” as he absolutely owns the stage! The Emporium, 9 Railroad Ave., Patchogue. theemporiumny.com $15-$50. 10 p.m. November 21.

Ronnie Spector
One of the great voices of the ’60s–known for her work with legendary music producer Phil Spector (her ex) and her group The Ronettes–she’s carved out an illustrious solo career ever since. Her pipes should be in The Smithsonian someday. Ronnie Spector’s voice and style have influenced generations of artists. She’ll be singing her classics, including “Be My Baby,” “Baby, I Love You” and “Walking in the Rain.” Suffolk Theater, 118 E Main St., Riverhead. suffolktheater.com $47.50-$65. 8 p.m. November 21.

Jackie “The Joke Man” Martling
The Joke Man’s rapid-fire jokes are legendary. Whether you know him from his 18 years at the Howard Stern Show, his 17 years as the Penthouse joke page writer or his countless TV and film appearances, chances are you’ve heard one of his sharp one-liners. If you come up with a joke that Jackie can’t guess the punchline for, you could win a tee shirt during his classic “Stump the Joke Man” finale. Will he do his version of the notorious “Aristocrats” joke? Fingers crossed. You know the name, you’ve heard him for years on the radio and elsewhere, now see the funny man in person. Uncontrollably laughter, guaranteed! YMCA Boulton Center for the Performing Arts, 37 West Main St., Bay Shore. boultoncenter.org $25-$30. 8 p.m. November 21.

Shadmehr Aghili
The “King of Persian Pop” started out as a child prodigy on piano, violin and guitar in Iran before becoming an actor and movie soundtrack composer. His 1999 album Dehati (“the villager”), was so revolutionary with its pop rhythms and rock ‘n roll sound that Iran banned it. When Iran banned the man himself, forbidding him to work as a singer, musician or to appear on TV, Aghili moved to Canada to continue his recording career. Powerful and mesmerizing, Aghili’s performance will move and inspire you. The Space at Westbury, 250 Post Ave., Westbury. thespaceatwestbury.com $40-$125. 8 p.m. November 21.

The Flying Dutchman
The world-renowned Zurich Opera House brings Richard Wagner’s timeless opera to Long Island. Based on 18th century folklore, The Flying Dutchman tells the moving story of a ghostly ship captain doomed to wander the seas forever in search of true love. Baritone Bryn Terfel shines in the company’s contemporary spin on the classic romantic ghost story of doom, gloom and stormy seas. Adelphi University’s Performing Arts Center, 1 South Ave., Garden City. aupac.adelphi.edu $20. 2 p.m. November 22.

Jennifer Nettles
This country singer/songwriter/musician was born to be onstage. Former lead singer for Sugarland, Soul Miner’s Daughter and the Jennifer Nettles Band, her solo career has taken her musicality and songwriting to new heights. Her 2009 ballad “Stay” won two Grammys. Her lastest album That Girl is a poignant, soul-searching rediscovery of herself. This will be a show to remember, as Nettles performs songs from throughout her 25-year career. With Brandy Clark and Ryan Kinder. NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd., Westbury. venue.thetheatreatwestbury.com $59.50. 7 p.m. November 22.

The I Love Chocolate Fest
Santa Claus, wine tasting, countless choco-creations so tantalizing they will send you to the moon, and a chance to step back in time to the Colonial era and set your imagination free!? Are you serious!? Yes!! This mouth-watering, retro-mondo extravaganza of all that is chocolate, all that is Christmas-y, and all that is blessed, comes just in time for the holiday season and is bound to leave you and your loved ones enjoying not only a chocolate high, but leaving several pounds larger! There will be more than 30 chocolate exhibitors providing too many choco-madness delights to list here, as well as gallons upon gallons of fresh vino from local vineyards, crafts, free samples, and that rare, precious opportunity to celebrate an 1863 Thanksgiving with live fiddle music, children’s games, and mind-altering demos! Costumed interpreters from the 1800s will bring this enchanting era to life! Yes, Yes, and Yes!! Old Bethpage Village Restoration, 1303 Round Swamp Rd., Old Bethpage. lovechocolatefest.com $7-$10. 10 a.m. November 22.

Machine Head
With more than 3 million records under their belt, eight albums and countless fans across the globe, these Oakland, Calif.-based metal demigods will be taking The Mountler by storm, shredding through track after track in support of their latest drop, 2014’s Bloodstone & Diamonds, and plenty more hellfire gems from their expansive career! The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $20-$40. 8 p.m. November 24.

Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness
The former singer, pianist and main songwriter for Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin is touring in support of his latest, last year’s self-titled release. Expect new tunes as well as old fan favorites, with outstanding performances from co-headliner New Politics and special guests The Griswolds & Lolo! The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington. paramountny.com $35-$65. 6:35 p.m. November 25.

Long Island’s own legendary saviors and purveyors of rock (via Louisiana), The Mighty Zebra will be shredding through nearly 40 years of hard rock and metal fueled by the superhuman guitar virtuosity of the beloved Randy Jackson. Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, 71 East Main St., Patchogue. patchoguetheatre.org $10-$75. 8 p.m. November 25.

Funk Filharmonik
Groovy harmonies, melodious piano and guitars, a rhythm section to die for and a horn section that simply flat-out rocks, these funksters will get the audience a-movin’ and a-bumpin’ and a-shakin’ long into the night and forever sear the memory of a truly uplifting, kick-ass, hell-yeah celebration into your neuro-synapses! Wow! Not to be missed! Madison Theatre at Molloy College, 1000 Hempstead Ave., Rockville Centre. madisontheatreny.org $30-$40. 8 p.m. November 25.

Laughs For Eddie Dunn
Laughs For Eddie Dunn: Share smiles, laughs and love while helping Eddie and his family beat cancer at The Brokerage Comedy Club in Bellmore on Dec. 6!

Laughs For Eddie Dunn
Eddie Dunn has a big heart. He loves his family and friends, loves playing pool, and loves making people smile. After his father passed away a few years ago, Eddie stepped up to the plate for his family, taking on not only his dad’s responsibilities looking over the well-being of his mother, three sisters and two grandchildren, but continuing to share love and joy to those in desperate need, donning his father’s colorful costume, hat and face paint as a clown alongside his mother, spreading laughter to children and the elderly alike. This must-attend fundraising event is furtherance of that tradition, as comedians take to the mic and tell jokes, now, in Eddie’s honor. Eddie and his family need your help. At 40 years old, Eddie has recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and this sinister disease has spread to his blood and bones. Eddie’s not a quitter, and will never give up the fight, or hope. Come down and share a laugh or three with this special, much loved man. Join Eddie, his family, and friends, in this extraordinary expression of life, love and laughs. Help fight this insidious disease, and help spread some light in the process. If you can’t make it, read more about Eddie, his plight, visit and contribute to Eddie Dunn’s Go Fund Me account: https://www.gofundme.com/Eddie-Dunn-s-story. Eddie, his family, and all his friends Thank You from the bottom of their hearts. The Brokerage, 2797 Merrick Rd., Bellmore. govs.com For tickets, call 516-798-2989 or 516-655-1424. $25 Donation. Doors open at 6 p.m. Showtime: 7:30 p.m. December 6.

Compiled by Timothy Bolger, Spencer Rumsey, Desiree D’orio & Zachary B. Tirana III