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      This week we meet Jeff. Jeff is chasing the dream, and we hope he catches it. Jeff is a Magician. No matter what you think about magic, or magicians you have to admit it blows you away to see it in person and if you've never been to a magic show, do yourself a favor and go. Let's meet our first magician.

      Can you tell me how you got into doing magic? 

      In middle school I watched David Blaine's tv special 'Drowned Alive' where he tried to break the world record for holding his breath; I was mesmerized.  Afterwards I found an old Lance Burton magic set in a closet and started practicing in my room and putting on shows for my family.  Fortunately for my parents there was an actual brick and mortar magic shop around the corner from my dad's work where they could drop me off during summer and let me go crazy.  

      The magicians in the shop were all older crusty men saying the most foul mouthed jokes I had ever heard in my life as a young teenager, but they really fostered a deep sense of passion for the craft in me. Bob Elliott was a regular at the magic shop and he was a real legend - he taught people like David Copperfield and Criss Angel - and he would just floor me.  Years later I met an old pitchman, Don Driver, on a magic forum who changed my life and would become my best friend over the years until he passed away.  He gifted me a straitjacket for my birthday one year and completely changed the trajectory of my life. I'm very fortunate to have had such great mentors who took the time to teach me and help me along my journey.
      Are you doing it full time?
      I perform whenever I can for friends and I love performing at Breweries around Los Angeles .  Last April I was able to perform an hour long show for 50 friends we had invited to a house party. 
      What prompted the move to LA?
      I grew up in San Diego but went to New York for college.  After 2 east coast winters I decided to move back to Southern California to be closer to my family and to rejoin The Magic Castle.
      Hardest magic trick?
      The hardest magic trick I do is probably the finale of my street show where I do a straitjacket escape and name 6 cards people in the audience have looked at in the deck. It has a lot of moving parts and the hardest thing is making sure a kid hasn't run off with my bag of tips...
      Holy grail trick?
      I'm currently working on Houdini's Metamorphosis which would be a personal dream of mine to be able to share and perform.
      What is the Metamorphosis? 
      The Metamorphosis or Substitution Trunk was invented by Houdini at age 17 as his first major illusion. Houdini first performed the trick with his early partners, Jacob Hyman and his brother Theo. When he married Bess Rahner in 1894, they performed the trick as a husband and wife act, The Houdinis.

      In Metamorphosis, Houdini would have his hands tied, be roped into a sack, and then locked in a trunk. The trunk would be pushed into a curtain cabinet by Bess who would draw the curtains and clap her hands three times. Houdini would immediately appear free, and when the truck was opened, it would be Bess now sealed and tied in the sack. A coat borrowed from an audience member was also sometimes used, being placed on Houdini and then ending up on Bess.



      Joshua is this week's Hi My Name is...  He is a lawyer, but not just any lawyer, he works to help people who've been evicted stay in their homes during the pandemic. 
      What were you into growing up? / Did you like other punk music?  
      I was really into music growing up. I borrowed $100 from my dad to buy a guitar a week after going to my first concert when I was like 13. I later learned bass and played in a number of failed bans with friends. I still love playing music and occasionally write music still.  I do miss being in a band. My last band was when I was in law school, Flat World Champs (we were based out of Cleveland when Kyrie Irving played for the Cavs and argued the Earth was flat). There's something special about sharing something you created.
      No matter what I was doing growing up, I always had music playing. Whether it was legos, reading, action figures, music was always playing. It was a lot of the same albums again and again. My sisters hated it because they would be burned out on the albums because I would just constantly have them on repeat. I was also growing up when games like HALO came out so I played a lot of those video games. 
      So growing up my parents were super restrictive on the music I was listening to. So I primarily grew up on the Beatles and the Beach Boys. When I was teenager, my friends would give me CDs of bands to listen to. So definitely Blink, also Alkaline Trio (Matt joining Blink was a pretty great day for me), Green Day, Sum 41, My Chemical Romance, Rise Against, and The Strokes. So non-punk bands I was really into were (and really are because I listen to a lot of the same bands plus new ones) Foo Fighters, OASIS, The Fratellis, Paul McCartney's solo work, Weezer, Angels & Airwaves, +44 (I was really into +44. One of my friends joked that you are secretly Mark and I said if that was true I would just demand the follow-up album to WYHSB that he was working on be released).
      As I said, I listen to a lot of the same bands but just add new ones when I discover them. I love discovering new bands. One of the things I loved about living in the UK was finding new UK bands to listen to like the Magic Gang, Ten Tonnes, The Wombats, The Struts. 
      Button Up Profession / The decision to Go to law school 
      The legal field is definitely a buttoned-up profession and people are generally surprised to find out I am a lawyer because I do not act like a lot of lawyers. I became very aware that I was not like a lot of the other people becoming lawyers when I started law school. That could be because I showed up to my first day of law school with shoulder-length hair. I realized I am not a button-up person and I embrace it. But I love it, I feel it helps me relate more to clients. A lot of people are intimidated by lawyers. I have a huge poster of Dave Grohl rocking out in the rain hanging in my office along with some other pop culture items like a bobblehead of Ted the lawyer from Scrubs and Lionel Hutz from the Simpsons. So seeing a lawyer with a poster of Dave Grohl and other pop culture items helps clients realize I'm not this scary individual. Making sure the client is comfortable is one of my priorities because it helps build trust with them and learn as many facts as I can.
      So I was not a fan of school, so when my parents said I had to go to college, I picked criminal justice because I thought it would be interesting. I went to speak to a professor about what classes I should take the next semester and signed up for all the classes he recommended. I did it again the following semester and after that semester, he asked me what I thought. I told him I liked the classes and he said those classes are part of the pre-law track. We discussed the possibility of going to law school, and I said I was open to it. So I added political science as a second major and then a few semesters later started to intern at a local law office to confirm that I wanted to go to law school. I loved helping people. The field of law I was working at was criminal defense, it was interesting but not for me. So I knew I wanted to go to law school and I wanted to focus on a career to help people. Throughout law school, I interned at a couple of different places to figure out my right fit. It wasn't until I worked on my LLM in Human Rights that I realized I wanted to work for an organization like Legal Aid. I started out as a post-graduate fellow and eventually was hired full time.
      Where do people go who don't live in Ohio for your sort of legal advice?
      So every county in the U.S. is covered by a local legal aid. Often times states are divided up between different local legal aids. Ohio has 6 different legal aids dividing up the state. That allows us to focus on specific regions and tailor our practice to the needs of the counties in our service area. The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is the organization that funds all the legal aid societies in the U.S. Below is a link to their local legal aid locator. To qualify for legal aid's services, you generally need to be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level. 
      If they don't qualify for assistance from legal aid, most county bar associations have a lawyer referral service. So I know my local ar association will refer a caller to an attorney for a consultation. The consultation costs around $30 and the lawyer will evaluate their case and give them advice or take the case.
      What should they google to find someone like you?  
      If they google "legal aid" or "legal aid near me" it should bring up their local legal aid. Generally, if you contact the wrong legal aid, they will put you in the right direction. 
      What should they look for in a competent lawyer?
      This is a little harder to answer since I have not been practicing that long. The main things I would suggest to look for is someone who practices in the field of your lawsuit and that you feel comfortable telling talking to them. You wouldn't hire an electrician to perform surgery. The few times I have seen something close to malpractice was when an attorney messed up a case in an area they never practiced before. So make sure they know what they've practiced in that area of law before.
      Being comfortable is super important. When a client is comfortable they are more likely to share information with the attorney which is key. I tell my clients to share everything with me because anything I can use to help you I need and anything that may come out that we need to overcome, I need time to prepare. 
      Comfortability also leads to trust. Trust is super important, especially because there will be periods where you may not hear from us. A lot of clients thing once they go to a lawyer it is a quick fix and the case will be done overnight. A lawsuit especially is a long process. So trusting that your attorney is working on the case even if it has been a while is important.
      Do you have a positive story of being able to help someone with their housing situation?  
      Yes, I've got a couple of them. So in normal times, we handle conditions cases. Due to the high number of evictions, we have focused our priority to preventing as many evictions as possible. Conditions cases are where a landlord refuses to repair something wrong with the apartment or home. These cases are usually time-consuming because, under Ohio law, you have to contact the landlord and give them 30 days to fix the issue before you escrow the rent, terminate the lease, or use the rent money to fix the property yourself. So the case will at least last 30 days to see if they make the repairs and possibly longer if you need to escrow the rent because a lot of landlords challenge the escrow. 
      So I had a client contact us because she had a bed bug infestation and a lot of other issues such as a front door that didn't lock, very weak floors, leaking pipes, holes large enough for rodents to come into the basement, and cracks in the foundation. This case was challenging because she was renting the apartment on a Dept. Housing and Urban Development Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8). I sent the landlord a letter demanding that he fix all the issues. I was able to get the landlord to treat the bed bugs and agree to release the client from her lease so she could obtain a new section a voucher. That way she could maintain her housing assistance but move to a new property. 
      A more recent example and more relevant deals with an eviction. When a client has a defense to an eviction, we provide representation in court to try to protect their housing. We've seen a large number of evictions. 
      I had a hearing yesterday where the client lost her job right before covid, she tried to get unemployment but the unemployment system was backlogged due to all the jobs lost because of the virus. Her landlord told her to seek out rental assistance from an organization like United Way. After she did, her landlord rejected the rental assistance and proceeded to file to evict her. There is a lot of procedural defense we can use to defend an eviction but this client didn't have any of the procedural defenses. A lot of the clients we are seeing facing eviction because of the virus reduced their hours or caused them to lose their job do not have any of the procedural defense. The only defense available then is the equity defense which doesn't always work. The equity defense asks the court to evaluate the equity arguments on both sides and consider ordering the landlord to accept the rent (The equity defense is only available when the tenant has all the money owed). Our administrative law team helped the client get her unemployment and I defended her eviction based on the equity defense. The court dismissed the eviction and ordered the monies owed to be paid by next Friday. So the client was able to avoid an eviction, she can pay up what she owes, and continue to live in her home.
      You hear all sorts of things about lawyers, so it was nice to hear about one that is in it for all the right reasons. 

      HI MY NAME IS...Brielle

      HI MY NAME IS...Brielle

      Let's all meet this week's HI MY NAME IS...Brielle. She's going to tell us a little bit about herself and there's alot to tell. Any one of her jobs would make for an interesting interview, but she's been a real "Jill of all trades" so to speak. 

      Who have you been quarantined with all of this time?

      Well hey!!  I'm Brielle.  I live in Brooklyn, NY.  Where to start?  I am an educator, loving parent, LGBTQIA advocate, and avid music lover.  I have been happily quarantined with my amazing wife, Ashley, and our two children in our apartment. 
      Tell us more about your family?  What is it like being same-gender parents? (Is that the right term?)
      Sure!  My family is doing fine.  I mean, as fine as a family can be after 4 months in the same apartment.  We started out with a ton of activities and crafts, but, recently, it seems to be a lot of Disney+ and Trolls World Tour.  Some of it is actually really good (BLUEY is such a fun kids show), but I can do without watching Trolls 4 times each day.
      I think that is the correct term.  At least, I think it is a much more inclusive term for possible queer partnerships.  Being same-gender parents is great!  Then again, I may be a little biased.  It is very special to have a household with two moms and two daughters.  Also, it is simply amazing to get to process the world through their eyes and experiences.  Our oldest just finished up Pre-K, and she knows so much about the types of families and people that exist in the world.  Her school was so good about promoting diverse portrayals of families. It helps at home too.  We've been able to buy all types of children's books for her that display a family like hers. Seeing that type of family displayed to her in such a normal context, at such a young age, is amazing.  The world she will grow to know is sure to be a much more inclusive one that the world we grew up in. The girls are a riot.  We have so much fun every day.  Then again, they are only 4 and 3 right now.  Ask again when they're teenagers.  I'm sure I'll have a much more "complex" answer to this question.

      You were right there living in Brooklyn when Covid first hit, was it as bad as the news made it out to be? exaggerated? worse? Give us a first hand account.
      It was as scary as you heard that it was.  Seriously though, depending on what part of the city you were in, it was looking like a zombie outbreak movie over here.  Medical tents in the streets, lines for food at the local school for all 3 meals a day, a total shutdown of basically everything.  NYC got hit so hard, and we were so underprepared.  Even after things started closing and tourists stopped coming, it still kept spreading so quickly.  One reason for this, in my opinion, was transportation.  Nobody here has a vehicle.  Everyone, sick or healthy, has been sitting together on the subway every single day.  At the beginning, I'm sure many of the people that were going for Covid tests would have to have taken a ride on the subway to get to a Covid test.  That's why the tents and testing sites had to pop up everywhere, including in neighborhoods. Even now, people are playing it very safe.  My family still isn't leaving the house without a very good reason to, and I've seen very few people, still, who are not wearing a mask everywhere that they go. We are lucky enough to have the entire first floor of a house as our apartment, so forced interactions with others are very limited. We also have our own tiny backyard and small deck. There is a family upstairs, but we have not seen them.  
      You worked as a Cast Member for Disney.  What was your role? Were you a princess? 
      I did work as a Disney Cast member.  No...no...I don't think I gave off that "princess" vibe.  I actually worked as a Cast Member right here in NYC!  To celebrate Mickey turning 90 years old, Disney hosted an exhibition in Chelsea called "Mickey: The True Original Exhibition".  It collected and displayed extremely rare video, physical, and audio from the Disney vault.  Some of the earliest ever drawings and storyboards of Mickey were on display, as well as collections of Disney inspired art from all over the world!  It was like a walk through the history of Mickey Mouse.  My role was at the very end of the experience.  I worked as the host for a small game show called "Mickey's Gameshow Live".  It was the only "queued" attraction in the exhibition, and often drew a rather large crowd. We had family guests, but also on special nights, some very VIP guests.  During one particular evening, the Board of Disney and ABC, as well as some major stars, came by for a private walkthrough, and I was given the opportunity to do a 10 minute 1 on 1 conversation and demo of my gameshow for the CEO of Disney (at the time) , Bob Iger.  It was an amazing job!!! Definitely a dream come true.

      You've also said that you've worked as an Anatomy and Physiology Instructor? Was this for a school? If so, at what level did you teach? Does anyone ask you about Coronavirus? Any tips or educated opinions on how we stay safe? 
      Yes ,I most certainly have!  My educational background is actually in Biology Education and Nursing.  Following completion of my Nursing degree, I returned to school to become certified to teach.  That being said, I specialize in teaching Anatomy and Physiology.  My favorite teaching job, which I held previously to my current role, was as a CHS (College in High School) Anatomy and Physiology Instructor.  This is a course that High school seniors could elect to take, if they were pursuing a career in the medical field.  It was very cool.  I even was able to take my students into the "observation deck" of an operating room and we watched a live Open-heart surgery! It was a great opportunity for students to see what we were learning first-hand.  Also, it was a good opportunity for them to see if they could stomach the job. 
      In regards to Covid, prevention and teamwork are the keys to success.  I know that there is this whole "mask debate", but honestly, you should be wearing one.  Not only does it help you to not spread the virus (if you have Coronavirus and are either a carrier or asymptomatic), but wearing one in accountability with others will help to keep you and your family safe.  New York learned the hard way, and they learned fast.  We stand as an unfortunate example of what could happen (and is now happening) as the virus makes its way through the US.  Self-isolating and wearing protective equipment (if you need to go out in public) will get your community through this crisis.  I know people would love to go get a haircut during this difficult worldwide event.  But here's the thing, if you're doing it right, no one will know you need one in the first place.

      You are also involved in matters related to the LGBTQIA community. Care to tell us more about that?  Are there any links or groups that others can get involved in or seek out?
      I am very involved in advocacy for the LGBTQIA community in three main areas:  Healthcare, Education, and Religious spaces.  Having been raised, and now employed, in those intersections, it is very important to me that the LGBTQIA community has a distinct voice and presence in each.  As a teacher, I have facilitated my school's GSA, and lead LGBTQIA+ Inclusion workshops for both staff and students.  GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) has a ton of resources for educators or students looking to create a space for LGBTQIA+ in a school setting.  You can find more information here: https://www.glsen.org/

      In regards to healthcare, I have spoken on panels for hospital networks and healthcare staff on the importance of identification and treatment of LGBTQIA+ needs.  Specfically, this past year, I spoke on the increasingly alarming needs that face the Transgender and non-binary community.  Those needs include: access to mental healthcare and counseling, use of preferred name and pronouns,  access to health insurance, and locating a Primary Care Provider (PCP).  New York City is a great place to be for LGBTQIA+ individuals, especially in regards to health, but I feel like this type of advocacy and discussion are still fighting for a moment in the spotlight in other parts of the country.  
      Lastly, as someone who was raised in a very religious home, I am very passionate about the need for affirming ministries.  This may surprise you, but many queer people, who were raised in a religious environment, leave their faith behind.  Just kidding, that's certainly not a surprise.  You may find it surprising, though, that there are many queer people who did not give up their faith and religion after leaving their church.  I am one of those people.  Say what you will, but I could never have made it this far into my life without believing in something greater than myself.  I have never needed my faith more than I have since coming out to my family and pursuing this life in New York.  Luckily my wife and I found a great church in Brooklyn called Forefront.  Through our partnership with the church, I am leading a LGBTQIA+ ministry called Queer Communion.  We host weekly events online (and hopefully in-person soon) for anyone, anywhere, that is interested in joining and entering into that space to deconstruct their experiences and build fellowship with others like them.  It's really wonderful, and I know that type of space doesn't exist in many places.  I'm sure this topic hasn't come up on this site before lol. If you're at all interested in that (there may be a few of you) feel free to email queercommunion@gmail.com for more information.

      Well that's almost all we have for you.  Anything else you're passionate about or care to share?
      Sure!  I am very into music, and I would regret not talking about that in this interview.  Listening to it, playing it, going to concerts.... I can't get enough!  I've dabbled in many instruments, but the only one I really stuck with was the guitar.  When I was in 6th grade, I asked for an electric guitar to learn songs from my all-time favorite band, Blink-182 :) 18 years later, I'm still playing along to all of my favorites, and some new ones too.  Music is just such an amazing escape for me. I can't wait to go to concerts again!
      Thanks so much for talking with us today.
      Thanks so much!  Have a great day!

      HI MY NAME IS...AJ

      HI MY NAME IS...AJ

      You can file this one under not all Heroes wear capes. Meet this week's Hi My Name Is...AJ. Who works with Chemical Toilets aka the"Porta Potty". We've all been in one at some point,  at a concert or festival. They can be gross, but next to the music, it's the #2 most important thing.  

      There must be some urban legend about falling in or having a hose brake and getting sprayed. There's got to be some gross stories, if not you? Maybe someone you've worked with? 

      -In this area of work you are bound to get a "shit bath".  I've been told a story of someone who used to work in the yard sometime before I ever started. For background,  when a truck comes back, we need to empty it. Usually into a larger truck(we call it the yard truck), then that truck is emptied at the end of the night. 

      So this guy was emptying into the yard truck and a couple of things happened at once. 1.the yard truck became full. 2. The truck has a way of closing off the vacuum so it can't fill up any more.... this failed. So the contents of the truck started to blow out the top and shower down around the truck. The guy had to run through the shower to the driver dude to shut off the truck.
      Anyone lose something in there ( phone, ring...) and ask you or someone to get it out?
      -Happens at events all the time. People get drunk and drop their phones in somehow. We end up with piles of them. 
      There has been a couple times someone would ask us to get one out, tho it's always too late to save it. 

      Anyone get stuck inside? or have it tipped over onto the door? (thinking of a time we had to help a girl out of one where the door broke and we had to tear the roof off to pull her out, this was at a blink concert years ago. 
      -I can't remember a time someone got stuck, most are hard plastic and the door can be forced open. Tho we had a driver go back to a site to re-clean a unit he just did an hour before because someone ended up ODing in it. 

      Is there a crowd or festival that fills them up more than any other? Country vs Metal vs Punk?
      -I can't say, if it's a large crowd at an event they end up filling up all the same. However I will say when it comes to the restroom trailers. The woman's room is always the worst. 

      It seems like in this industry they have a pretty good sense of humor. What's the funniest name? Dr.Pumper, Stool Bus..
      - I think  "Yesterday's Meals on Wheels" is the best I ever heard. 

      Want to be featured on an upcoming HMNI? click HERE

      HI MY NAME IS....Elisa

      HI MY NAME IS....Elisa

      Welcome to our new weekly installment of "Hi My Name is..." where we will be talking to interesting fun people all over the world. Many of you are quarantined at home and this is just a way to meet new people and have a little human contact while we wait for things to go back to some sort of normalcy. 

      Everyone let's say hi to Elisa. 

      How long have you been crocheting?  is that even a word?
      Well, I've been crocheting for 4 years, but not on a regular basis, depending on my other jobs. And yes, that's the right word, though the specific term for the objects I create is "amigurumi", meaning the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed yarn creatures and objects.
      What is your favorite piece you've made? 
      It's really hard to choose, plus I'm super demanding with myself. 
      Being a nature lover, I would say the mini dinosaur in its egg is certainly one of my favorites (pic attached)
      How long does it take to make one of your "people"?
      Making MINI-MEs take from 6 to 12 hours! It really depends on how much detailed and customized you want your character to be.
      Just so you know: the hair making step is the hardest!
      Could you crochet us a little octopus?
      Of course! Choose the color, and all the details you like. It will be a pleasure!
      Anything you want others to know about yourself?
      I'm 30 and I'm a huge blink-182/Mark Hoppus fan since I was 13. 
      My three favorite things on Earth are birds, the color blue and french fries. Ok, and chocolate!
      I also love walking in nature and I go crazy for hills and mountains.
      And yes, I love changing hair color every few months!
      Where do you live?
      I live in a small city called Pavia, south of Milan (Italy)
      Do you have social media/website where we can see more of your  amigurumi?
      Filo blu (fi.lo.blu) means "blue yarn" in italian

      Want to be featured on an upcoming HMNI? click HERE




      We saw a bunch of posts about not wanting to open your FUNKO Pop! Mark Hoppus doll. Excuse us, figurine, not doll. Well maybe we can help. For those of you computerly inclined, we have posted a GIF of the Funko Mark with a transparent background. Now you no longer have an excuse, pull the image and start slapping Mark into all types of exciting situations. 

      Transparent GIF Funko Mark image: