On a frigid afternoon last week, I found myself at Machpela Cemetery, visiting the grave of perhaps the greatest celebrity of the early 20th century – Harry Houdini. Houdini was a stage magician, an escape artist, a genius promoter, a star of the stage and screen, claimed to be one of the toughest men alive, and he died on Halloween in 1926.
There’s a tremendous amount of drama that revolves around Houdini’s grave, which the New York Times has reported on in this 2008 piece, and in this 2011 one. There’s little point in repeating the oft told tale, or the conflicts surrounding the upkeep of the monument as I’d just be dancing around other people’s reporting. Instead, I’d ask you to click through to the links above for the whole story (the links will open in new windows), and I’ll be waiting here for you when you’re done.
Everybody has their own holiday traditions. Having grown up in a Jewish family, I was always left out of the whole Christmas thing. Saying that, my family had a December tradition of piling into the car and checking out the decorations which the “goyem” had deployed. My family wasn’t unique in this, of course. A girlfriend in high school’s family actually gave the practice of driving around the neighborhood seeking Christmas lights into something they called “Klooking.” The name came from the kids saying “Look Look Look” which soon became LOOKLOOKLOOOK as they drew close to a particularly outlandish display.
Just the other night, I convinced a friend to drive around Astoria for a while, and go “Klooking.” Here’s some of what we saw while driving around the neighborhood.
Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the roof deck at the Pearson LIC, some 16 stories above Court Square here in Long Island City. The views from this spot are unparalleled, as it’s location next to the Sunnyside Yards allows for a seamless view of the horizon in any direction. I’ve gotten high in Long Island City before, by the way, last time it was with Melinda Katz.
As is my habit when presented with such vistas, I decided to shoot “stitched panorama” components. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s a “photoshop thing” which allows one to combine multiple images into singular wide angle ones. The odd shape of the frames in these shots is caused by me twisting about while trying to maintain the horizon level. Clicking on any of the shots in today’s post will take you out to my Flickr page, where progressively larger iterations of them can be accessed, all the way up to the originals, which might be as large as two to three feet across.
Center frame in this one is the mouth of Newtown Creek and the Freedom tower.
Recently, I received an invite to attend a Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) mixer and cocktail event at the Z Hotel in Long Island City. Normally, this sort of business card exchange leaves me flat, but I’ve been eager to check out the view from the Z Hotel’s roof top lounge since it opened, so I gathered up my camera and convinced my wife to meet me in Queens Plaza after she got out of work in the city.
The views certainly did not disappoint either of us, and since my ulterior motive in attending the thing was to gather some shots, I left her chatting with a few other attendees and got down to business. Pictured above is mighty Queensboro on the right with a still quite industrial LIC acting as a frame for the East River, Roosevelt Island and Midtown Manhattan.
It’s hard not to take notice of the 1,396 foot 432 Park Avenue rising between 56th and 57th Streets over in the Shining City of Manhattan, by the way.
LOTS more after the jump, including special guest stars… (more…)
Sunday, I decided to go check out the Astoria Shore Fest. The annual event closes Shore Road, allowing Astorians the chance to mill about on the normally busy thoroughfare which sits between Astoria Park and the Hells Gate section of the East River. The event is conducted by the Astoria Park Alliance, and this year it was blessed by fantastic weather.
Saturday last, I conducted a walking tour along the Brooklyn and Maspeth borders, and afterwards decided to enjoy the beautiful weather by walking back home to Astoria. My path carried me along the fence line of Mt. Zion cemetery (Maurice Avenue side) toward Tyler Avenue, where I made a left.
Just look at what was waiting for me to notice it when I turned onto Tyler – a 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe, which I believe to be the P15 model.
On Friday, the 11th of July, I found myself at the very edge of Queens in a very special place. At the end of Vernon Boulevard in LIC, where the old Vernon Avenue Bridge and the Newtown Creek Towing Company were found, is a facility which is engaged in the hands-on work of the Superfund process. The Anchor QEA company operates out of here, carrying out the collection of samples and scientific tests which will determine the exact nature of what’s wrong with Newtown Creek. These samples and tests are overseen and directed by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, and is an effort conducted by the so-called ”Potentially Responsible Parties” (PRPs).
These “Potentially Responsible Parties” have organized themselves together as the Newtown Creek Group, and they invited a small group of community members and representatives to their LIC facility to describe what they actually do at the Vernon street end and discuss the future of Newtown Creek.
One thing that the good people of Queens cannot be accused of is a dearth of patriotic flag displays.
Old Glory is found waving everywhere hereabouts, and is particularly conspicuous in the lead up to the Fourth of July holiday. Independence Day in my neighborhood, Astoria, means that in between the flags, there will be a pall of BBQ smoke hanging about in the air and every neighborhood dog will be hiding in the bathtub when the sun goes down and the neighbors begin to detonate their fireworks.
I’ve been missing 5Pointz something fierce lately, so after meeting some friends from the City for lunch nearby Astoria Park recently, we paid a visit to the Welling Court Mural Project. There is a LOT of street art going on here, and there has been since 2009, when the Ad Hoc Art group began the project.
The Welling Court Mural Project began in 2009 when Ad Hoc Art was invited by the community of Welling Court to slay some aesthetic blights in their neighborhood. The first project debuted in May 2010 with over 44 murals, fitting for the diverse and lively inhabitants. Each year since, spectacular crews of legendary and groundbreaking artists have come together to transform the neighborhood into a creative celebration and public art experience.
Many, many more images and lots of commentary after the jump. (more…)
As discussed in prior postings, Kevin Walsh and I decided to take Q’stoner with us to the very edge of New York City when we visited the Rockaways. Here’s Part One and here’s Part Two. This is the third installment, and Kevin will finish up the quartet tomorrow. Now, back to the beach.
This shot is looking back at Riis Park, at the border of what must have surely been an enormous and quite recent industrial endeavor.
The park was largely built on the site of the former Rockaway Naval Air Station, one of the first US naval air stations. Riis Park was designed by the politically powerful New York City Park Commissioner Robert Moses, who had also created Jones Beach as a state park further east on Long Island in 1929. Moses saw Riis Park as a Jones Beach for poor immigrants, and ensured that the location was accessible by public transportation and closer to Manhattan.
A vast wall of sand was found, dissimilar in color to the beach sand which the bathers and sun worshippers at Riis were gamboling about upon. This beach is now the built environment, it seems.
In the Rockaways, long stretches of sand are less weekend paradise and more construction zone. Forget your sun visor. This is hard-hat territory.
“It looks like hell,” said Kevin Boyle, a Rockaway community activist. “It’s not exactly ready for the top 10 list anywhere, but it’s coming along. I’m pretty sure by 2020, the boardwalk will be there and the beach will look good.”
It should be mentioned, by the way, that everybody seemed to be having a much better time than Kevin and myself. We were the two weird looking old guys walking around on the beach with cameras… the ones who looked uncomfortable and relatively pale. The suntans people sport out here are actually outrageous for this early in the summer.