ANIMAL ROCK 2017!

A few weeks ago I wrote about how my cat Lefty went missing. I had spoken to my neighbor Jill Lauri about his disappearance. Jill is an animal communicator and her words truly comforted me, easing my anxiety throughout the ordeal. After speaking with Jill, she went home and connected with Lefty. She took the time without being asked, and wrote me these beautiful words… “Lefty says that he is fine and exploring. He is not far away and plans to return home. Lefty says that initially a noise startled him and he took off. He does not want you to worry about him, as he says that he is more resilient than you think. Lefty wants you to know that he Loves you and that there is nothing to feel guilty about  He asks that you create something beautiful/wonderful and know that he will be with you as you do so. Use the time you carve out to connect/feel the Love you share with him. That is what will bring him back to you, when the time is right.”

Jill was right. Lefty did return home unharmed. It was an enlightening experience, and I want to share with you a bit about Jill’s animal healing and communication practice. I also want to tell you about an exciting event Jill is organizing in Rockaway – ANIMAL ROCK 2017.

But first some background. Jill Lauri is a native New Yorker, raised in Canarsie. She lived in Manhattan before deciding in 2008 that Rockaway was the place she was destined to be. She was drawn to Rockaway because of the ocean and its connections to nature and animals. Jill earned her MBA from Columbia Business School and has a MSW from Hunter College. Her social work, spiritual coaching and unique relationship with animals have led to her true calling, healing with animals. On Jill’s website HealingWithAnimals.com, she writes in detail about specific relationships with animals that have helped cultivate her unique communication skills. Her dog Misty who was diagnosed with cancer, her cat Jessy who was born in her home, a shark rescue here in Rockaway and a mouse that needed healing and love in his last hours, are just a few of the beings Jill has worked with. “Over the years I’ve continually come in contact with animals that needed healing and I’ve learned from each one of them, different lessons.” Jill explains.

I asked Jill how she begins communication with animals. “It’s actually easier when I’m not physically present with the animals because there are less distractions. So, I’m communicating telepathically. Animals are usually more relaxed than we think.  They take things in stride and that’s why they have so much to teach us and to help us heal. They are wise.”

The true turning point came for Jill after the trauma of Hurricane Sandy. “It made me take a step back and evaluate what’s really important and why I’m here. I didn’t want fear to determine my life and I didn’t want fear to determine where I wanted to live. Not everyone gets that I connect with animals and that’s ok! Living through the storm and its aftermath helped me find my voice and I can speak my truth about animal healing and communication.”

Jill’s been working diligently to organize ANIMAL ROCK 2017. The event will be held on Sunday, July 30, 2017 at Beach 94/95 St & Shore Front Pkwy, 10am to 6pm. The gathering is a celebration of our relationship with animals. “I’m hoping people will come out and celebrate and look at our relationship with animals and wildlife in a new light, exposing people to new ideas.”

The event will have information tables, reiki healing, and a memorial service for our animals that have passed over. Cathy Browne, guest speaker will discuss feral cats and TNR (trap, neuter, release). Nicole Valenti from the Riverhead Foundation will speak about what to do if you encounter stranded or injured sea animals. Boarders Surf Shop, Burn Fitness, Cuisine by Claudette, Thai Rock, Uncle Louie G and Zingara Vintage have donated raffle prizes! If you’re looking for a new companion, Animal Care and Control will have a mobile adoption truck on site. Donations are very much welcome and all proceeds will be gifted to the animals at the Animal Care Centers of NYC. Contact Jill at Jill[at]HealingWithAnimals.com212-289-3540 if you’re interested in donating or volunteering at this exciting event. Please visit HealingWithAnimals.com/Jill-Lauri/Animal-Rock-2017 to learn more about the days schedule and additional information. I will be there, and I hope to see you there too. Please come out and celebrate our relationship with animals!

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tagged in animals, events, rockaway

The Block Party!

 partygoers

Previously Published in The Wave.

I believe I was 8 years old. We were at my Aunt Katherine’s annual block party on Herbert St. in Greenpoint. I was running for dear life down the middle of the block screaming because my cousin Tommy was chasing me. He had a bucket of ice in tow. Tommy was 5 years older than me, so naturally, he caught up quick, even with the ice bucket. He grabbed me tight around the waist and threw the ice down the back of my shirt. Ice Ice Baby!  Too cold! (Too cold. Seriously.)

I remember those block parties foundly. It was a sign of summer – the smell of the BBQ, the ferris wheel my Grandfather rented, and the firecrackers my father got from “his guy” in Pennsylvania. All of the cousins would run wild and the summer day seemed endless.

If you know me, you know I love to host parties. It only seemed appropriate that I get the ball rolling for a block party of our own. And this 4th of July weekend, it happened! There was a lot of planning involved. I worked with Community Affairs Officer, Maurice Moore (100 Precinct) to get all the appropriate paperwork. I ended up receiving word of approval only a week before the event. That was a little unsettling but it all came together with the help of Officer Moore.

I reached out to the neighbors and everyone seem very excited. People asked what they could do to help. It was a team effort. We had a bounce house lined up, a photobooth, music, twister, water balloons, sparklers, face paint and kids crafts!

Two days before, I checked the weather – threatening rain all day, eek!  After reading the forecast and having a minor panic, I channeled my inner Liza Minnelli and regained composure.  It’s the organizer’s responsibility to set the tone of a party and my feeling was… the show must go on!!  I had five pounds of chop meat, 150 pieces of chicken marinating in the fridge, and all kinds of tasty sides. Oh, and six cases of beer, a case of magnum wine, and rum and vodka for the frozens! The party was happening rain or shine!

The morning of, my friends (also neighbors) Good Keith and Big D blocked off the street with huge party signs my husband made. He even glued pineapples to the plywood! The rest of the setup began shortly after. The big debate was whether or not to put  the music gear on the street. We decided to go for it. At that point it only said 30% chance of rain.

Things kicked off around 1:30pm. The grill was hot and my neighbor Megumi started DJing old-school rocksteady and reggae. The kids were on their bikes and the beers were cold as ice. The first band RobMattCharlz started an hour later and there was dancing in the streets (literally!).

Shortly after the set finished, the dark clouds rolled in and it started pouring! A bunch of us covered the music gear with tarps. Others grabbed the food and ran it up to the porch. Good Keith did not abandon the grill. He finished that round of burgers with the help of Sam Friedman(of the thepaleofactory.com) holding an umbrella over him!

When the rain cleared we decided to move the music on my porch, just in case of another downpour. The merriment continued with the rest of the bands – Jackson Kenny restarted the party with some Paul Simon deep cuts and some Sam Cooke tunes. Then my friend Charles killed it with a reggae set. We had Indaculture and The Forms play after that! What a time! We celebrated summer for 9 hours and it was a hell of a party. I think the rain actually made it more fun!  I didn’t have a ferris wheel (this year) but I plan to make the block party bigger and more “Liza Minnelli” every year!

Photo creds: Katie Honan

Amazing photo by Katie Honan.

Party on! Charles and Matt chillin The food must go on! Rob Byrn Don't Park!

tagged in b91, memories, party, rockaway

Max Power: The Man, The Music, The Meme

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Max Power at The Rockaway Beach Brewery

Previously published in The Wave.

The man. “Don’t move upstate. Move to Rockaway. It’s like the Costa Rica of Queens. You can help us at the bar this summer.” Rashida Jackson urged Matt Preis, more famously known as Max Power*, music promoter extraordinaire, pet guru and overall rad dude. Max has known Rashida Jackson and Patrick Flibotte (owners of Sayra’s Wine Bar) for over a decade. They met when Rashida worked at Maggie Brown, a now-defunct restaurant in Clinton Hill. Max was there often, using the bar as an ad hoc office for his dog-walking business.

Max took the advice, and moved to the peninsula in 2013. He soon learned that life on the peninsula was somewhat different than its Costa Rica equivalent. I asked Max why he decided to stay, “I broke my ankle in late 2013 and that grounded me here. By the time it healed, it was summer again, so I stayed.”

The music. Max has always been involved with the underground music scene, beginning in his native Chicago. Upon arriving in “Costa Rica”, he quickly realized there was an opportunity to share new music with the community. He hit the ground running in 2014 on a newly-healed ankle. His first ROCK! AWAY! series was at the Rockaway Beach Surf Club. That led to other opportunities. He started booking music shows under Max Power Enterprises at Playland Motel and Riis Park. Rich Hill started a DJ series the prior year at Riis. They joined forces, with Max booking live bands and Rich running the sound and logistics. The music at Riis Park wouldn’t have come to fruition without Rich Hill’s fortitude and hard work, Max insists. Through these events, the duo proved that Brooklynites and other mainland-dwellers were willing to make the trip to Rockaway to hear local music. In additional to supporting the local scene, Max books touring bands to play in Rockaway, sharing new music with the locals. Anyone who has been to a Max Power show can testify to how much it has added to Rockaway’s music culture.

“So Max, what can we Rockawegians do to help the scene?” I asked. “Show up to shows! Also share The Max Power Enterprises events and other local music events on social media.” Most importantly Max mentions “If music isn’t your thing, don’t complain.” Max is speaking to sound complaints that have hampered local bars in recent years.  I’m in agreement. The shows Max Power and others in the community put together bring revenue to our neighborhood establishments. The summer season is short, small business owners and their employees (mostly locals) rely on this income to make it through the winter months. The music events benefit our community like a ripple effect!

Max Power’s next big show is at Riis Park Beach Bazaar ROCK! AWAY! Music Fest July 14th, 15th, & 16th. Local and touring band will be performing for three full days. Visit, facebook.com/ROCKAWAYROCK/events/ for more details. Please come by and show your support.

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Some of the times above on the poster have been changed. Visit facebook.com/Rockawayrock for updated times and information.

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Photo via: facebook.com/mememaxpower

The Meme. But there’s more to Max than rock and roll and Rockaway. He’s got his very own meme that has been slowly breaking the internet: facebook.com/mememaxpower/

It started with a historically bizarre photo that Blake Jackson took of Max with his gorgeous sandy locks blowing in the wind. “I told Blake if he ever made the photo public, I would fire him but he put it up anyway.” Max explains. Matt Patterson took that photo and did a mash-up with Chuckie the murderous doll, with whom Max, at times, shares an uncanny resemblance. Then Mike took it and ran with it. “He started memeing me! It exploded from there and others have created memes of me. People just do these things and everyone seems to enjoy it.”

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Photo via: facebook.com/mememaxpower

*Max Power is Homer Simpson’s alias, adopted in an attempt to project strength, along with his oldest and dearest friend, Trent Steel.

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Grams of the Week: July 10

Here’s a recap of the best instagrams of last week. If you want the day to day follow me here!

4th-of-july-Rockaway-Beach

The party never ended last week! Above is Indaculture at Lowtide on the 4th! So much summer fun!

Rockaway-Beach-Fashion

This is Rockaway Beach style at its best. #beachlife

lasagna-all-year

I’m not afraid to make Lasagna in the summer. This could have been one of my best.

tagged in instagram, summer