Awkwafina Rises, a Beloved Pet Shop Falls, the Brandeis Association Tackles Anti-Semitism

By Evan Rosen

‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Star Reflects on Forest Hills Childhood

It all started in Forest Hills, Queens, for actress and rapper Nora Lum, better known by her stage name ‘Awkwafina.” The star of the new film “Crazy Rich Asians” attended LaGuardia High School but said she did not expect to pursue a career in the arts. “I never knew I would go into acting, let alone that my music would ever be a career,” she said in an open letter on Twitter. After graduating from the State University of New York at Albany, Lum released a music video on Youtube that went viral but was immediately fired by her employer. After she lost her corporate job, she began working numerous side gigs including as a clerk at a vegan bodega, where she earned $9 an hour. Eventually, she landed a breakout acting role in “Neighbors 2” She now stars in first major motion picture with all Asian leads in 25 years. She ended her note with this thought: “Awkwafina wasn’t supposed to exist, but somehow she does. And I think about it everyday, that she was born for reason only — to show every person out there, that it is possible.”

Queens Man Detained For 23 Days After Bus Goes to Canada

It was like a nightmare. When Alfredo Flores, 36, saw the signs for the Canadian border, he didn’t think much of them. He was traveling by bus to Seattle, where his brother was waiting for him to work on a month-long construction job. But the bus blew past the city and stopped at the Canadian border instead.  Flores was unable to produce a passport to Canadian officials because he is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. Border Patrol immediately turned the married father of three over to ICE Agents who stuck him in a detention center while his family scrambled to post his $10,000 bond. How could this have happened? It turns out that Greyhound may have made a scheduling mistake. “I absolutely think that [Greyhound] should be held liable,” said attorney Catalina Cruz who is running for state Assembly.

Rising Rents Claim Beloved Jackson Heights Pet Shop

Rent was $555 a month for Larry Paul when he first opened his Jackson Heights pet shop The Coral Aquarium in 1970. Nearly 50 years later, the neighborhood staple costs him $19,000 a month, which has resulted in him “going broke personally by putting money in trying to keep it open,” he told ABC7. The Coral Aquarium used to be Paul’s livelihood. Now it’s a drain forces Paul to close down. “It’s personally owned. You know the owners,” said customer Dina Losito. “You see the same people when you come in. It’s people in the neighborhood. You see your neighbors here. It’s familiar. It’s just something it’s sad to see go.” Employee Lucy Patrick also decried the shop’s impending closure on Aug. 31. “It’s gonna be really sad. … It’s kinda like a fond childhood memory of mine. I used to come in here all the time, I’d bring my friends, my mom would bring me here.”

Volunteers Needed to Clean Up Baisley Pond Park

On Saturday, the Baisley Pond Park Block Association will sponsor a volunteer morning to help make the Lakeview Lane Playground in Baisley Pond Park a better place for kids to play. Volunteers of all ages are welcome to attend the event, which begins at 9 a.m. at the corner of 122nd Ave and Lakeview Lane and lasts until 1 p.m. The park is located on Baisley Blvd in Jamaica and the cost to volunteer is of course, free. “Working together, we can achieve more,” says Alayna Khan, a Junior BPPBA Member.

Brandeis Association Confronts Resurgent Anti-Semitism

In recent weeks, racists have scrawled swastikas on boulders in College Point and a kiosk in Flushing. Two weeks ago, a white supremacist group unfurled a banner in Washington Heights and posted stickers throughout the city. Meanwhile, anti-semitism routinely seeps into or masquerades as debate about Israeli policy.

Amid the rise of such brazen anti-semitism in Queens and the rest of the U.S., the Brandeis Association continues to confront hatred and stand up for the Jewish community through advocacy and education initiatives.

“After the election in 2016 and then the [white supremacist rally] in Charlottesville last year, we began to take more notice of anti-semitism,” said Neda Melamed, co-chair of the Brandeis Association’s Committee on Anti-Semitism and a former association president. “As judges, lawyers and members of the legal community we felt it was our responsibility to continue this education.” For more coverage, visit

Historic Woodhaven Tavern Honors Influence of Black Distillers

A Woodhaven tavern honored the legacy of the black distillers who played an outsized role in the history of U.S. whiskey industry last night. Neirs Tavern hosted the official launch of a new whiskey brand that celebrates the enslaved man who concocted Jack Daniels whiskey and trained the company owner. Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey takes its name from Nearest Green, known as Uncle Nearest, the enslaved man who taught Jack Daniel the whiskey-making process that made him famous, and who served as the company’s first master distiller. For more than a century, the famous brand told an origin story that celebrated Jack Daniel, a white apprentice to a preacher, grocer and distiller named Daniel Call. According to the tale, Call taught the young Daniel everything he needed to know about running his own whiskey still. But that version of the story was incomplete. It left out the key influence of Green. For more coverage visit the article.

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