08/25/15 1:00pm

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Percussion has the largest musical family. Instruments can be hit, scraped or shaken to create different pitches, notes, and sounds. Plus, they add rhythm and spice to everything from classical music to hip hop to jazz.

Two special upcoming Queens events are based on percussion. The first one is a harvest moon celebration at Flushing Town Hall on August 29. Grammy nominee Juan Gutiérrez, who directs the group Los Pleneros de la 21, will lead a workshop for all-comers followed by a group drumming circle. This San Juan native received the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship in 1996.

The other event involves African cadences. Details and a photo are on the jump page.

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08/18/15 1:00pm

Flushing Town Hall Puppet Show

There is no dialogue, but the show leaves audiences speechless.

Le Théâtre de Deux Mains is dedicated to enriching and preserving the tradition of puppet theater through one-man shows based on popular, time-honored tales. This Friday and Saturday, the Montreal-based company will present The Swan at Flushing Town Hall. Based on The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Andersen, this show depicts a lost little bird looking for his parents.

First, a fisherman comes across a single egg in a pond. Then, two little feet pop out of the egg and begin waddling on shore. The newborn sees his reflection and discovers that he doesn’t look like any other members of his species. He’s certainly no chicken. He’s definitely no owl. He’s obviously no hawk. With changing colors and lighting inspired by Tiffany lamps, he follows clues to meet his true family. The story certainly inspires by itself, but it is enhanced by the puppeteer/actor who controls the puppets, set dressings, light, and sound entirely alone onstage.

More information and another photo on the jump page.

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08/17/15 1:00pm

ShirleyYuPhotography

The festival is back by popular demand. The talent is popular and in demand.

Awkwafina is half-Chinese, half-Korean, and 100 percent hip hop. The Forest Hills native, who utilizes satire and screwball antics while busting her rhymes, is leading the charge in the up-and-coming Asian-American rap scene, which includes artists Dumbfoundead and Rekstizzy. Her first solo album, Yellow Ranger, contains tracks such as “Mayor Bloomberg (Giant Margarita)” and the title track, “Yellow Ranger.”

Awkwafina headlines the music portion of the summer’s second Flushing Night Out on August 21. (The first one took place on July 16.) Organized by the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce at Flushing Town Hall, this social event will feature local entrepreneurs offering delicious food, unique fashion, and amazing crafts in addition to the rapping.

More info, a photo from the July 16 Flushing Night Out, and a modified vendor list are on the jump page.

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08/14/15 1:00pm

PK

It was 1946, and diplomats from around the world were moving to Queens to work at the United Nations, which was operating in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. However, there was a problem: racial discrimination was everywhere in the United States and many of these newcomers were “people of color.”

The solution was Parkway Village, a 35-acre garden apartment complex in Kew Garden Hills which was completed in 1947 to house United Nations employees. Designed by Clarence Combs, the verdant landscaped grounds featured red brick buildings with white columns, lintels, and spatial apartments. African-American diplomat Ralph Bunch won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950 while living there, while other notable residents included NAACP leader Roy Wilkins and Betty Friedan, the feminist activist and author.

As time passed, United Nations workers started cycling out, and the purely rental community became a co-op in 1983. Then, due to its remarkable past and architectural prominence, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

This Sunday, August 16, Parkway Village Historical Society President Judith Guttman will present a lecture on the history of the area at the Queens Historical Society in Flushing. Guttman, who describes herself as a proud “Villager,” was part of the landmark effort.

(More details and another photo are on the jump page.)

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08/10/15 1:00pm

Born to former slaves in 1848, the self-educated Lewis H. Latimer was one of the 10 most prolific African-American inventors in United States history. His patents include a toilet system for railroad cars and a method for producing carbon filaments for light bulbs. He also drafted the patent drawings for Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone.

This National Inventors Hall of Fame inductee lived much his adult life in a wood frame, two-story house with Queen Anne architecture in Flushing. After his death in 1928, his descendants lived in this dwelling until 1963. Then under threat of demolition in 1988, it was moved to 34-41 137th Street, converted into a museum, and granted city landmark status.

Info on an upcoming event at the Latimer House and a photo of the namesake are on the jump page.

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07/28/15 1:00pm
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It’s kind of like Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game — which pits superstars from one league against their counterparts in the other circuit — except with this challenge, everybody wins.

On August 1, Flushing Town Hall will host The Catskills Comes to Queens, a premiere farm-to-table, food-and-wine tasting with more than 20 chefs, pitmasters, and culinary artisans. Attendees will be able to walk around the venue’s outside garden, theater, and exhibition space, sampling such delicacies as rabbit mortadella hot dogs, lamb tagine, Cuban-Chinese spit-roasted goat, whole hog BBQ, and crispy tripe with Sichuan peppercorn and jalapeño. (more…)

07/24/15 1:00pm

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Poet and novelist George Dawes Green founded The Moth, a nonprofit dedicated to the art of storytelling, in 1997. His aim was to revive a favorite childhood pastime: spinning yarns with his buddies on his Georgia porch during hot summer nights while moths zoomed in and out of sight.

He ended up creating a phenomenon, and that’s no fish tale.

Currently, Green and his fellow Moth raconteurs run storytelling programs in almost 20 cities. Plus, they have a weekly podcast, a national public radio show that won a 2010 Peabody Award, and a book.

On Monday, July 27, The Moth spearheads a friendly “StorySlam” at Flushing Town Hall. The night’s theme is “business,” and anyone with a true (well, mostly true), five-minute narrative about a professional dealing can apply to participate.

The format is straightforward. Potential contestants put their names in The Moth Hat. Contenders take the stage (no notes allowed) after their names are randomly picked from the pool. Judges selected from the audience then choose the StorySLAM winner.

Details: The Moth StorySLAM, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing. July 27, 7 pm, $10.

Photo by Flushing Town Hall

07/22/15 1:00pm

NYSP

The New York State Pavilion has a tremendous history and an uncertain future. Designed by legendary architect Philip Johnson and built for the 1964 World’s Fair, it once had 100-foot columns suspending a 50,000 square-foot roof with multi-colored panels. It also boasted three towers (measuring 60 feet, 150 feet, and 226 feet, respectively) and a 26-foot replica of the St. Lawrence hydroelectric plant. Then there was Texaco’s map of New York State with 400-pound terrazzo mosaic panels. An estimated 51 million walked through it.

After the World’s Fair, the site was a concert venue — the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones played there — and even a roller rink. But it experienced years of neglect and abandonment until People for the Pavilion, an advocacy group, was launched about three years ago.

This Sunday, the Queens Historical Society will screen Modern Ruin, a documentary that was written, directed, and edited by Matthew Silva, who co-founded People for the Pavilion.

Details: Modern Ruin, Queens Historical Society, Weeping Beach Park, 143-35 37th Avenue, Flushing, July 26, 2:30 pm, $10 with limited seating.

Photo by New York State Pavilion Facebook Page

07/20/15 1:00pm

HtH

What is Antonio to do? He’s a well-respected community leader, but through a complex effort to help a friend in love he owes a pound of his own flesh to a man who despises him.

And what about that pathetic Sir John Falstaff? He devised a get-rich-quick scheme that backfired big time. Now he’s being humiliated bigger time.

These two scenarios come to eight Queens parks in July and August (the Bronx, Jersey City, and Southampton, too). The Hip to Hip Theatre Company is back for its ninth year, providing free, family-friendly performances of Shakespeare plays. This summer, Woodside-based co-founders Jason and Joy Marr have chosen The Merchant of Venice, a dark drama about a 16th century merchant, Antonio, who defaults on a loan from a moneylender, and The Merry Wives of Windsor, a comedy about a flat broke, alcoholic aristocrat, Sir John Falstaff, who tries to bed the wives of two rich men. However, the women are not amused and respond with a series of practical jokes.

The fun begins on Wednesday with Merchant at the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. On Thursday, Merry Wives plays at Crocheron Park in Bayside. Then, the professional actors do 17 more productions in such neighborhoods as Forest Park, Fresh Meadows, Long Island City, and Sunnyside.

Click here for the complete schedule.

Photo by Hip to Hip Theatre Company

07/17/15 1:00pm

Ewaste

The numbers just don’t add up. A glass bottle takes one million years to biodegrade, while a monofilament fishing line delays six centuries, and a plastic bottle takes 450 years. No wonder garbage dumps keep getting bigger and bigger.

Electronic waste is even more concerning. As it often contains lead, mercury, and cadmium, it is responsible for roughly 70 percent of the toxins in landfills, while making up only about 1 percent of their volume. That’s why e-waste recycling is required by state law as of January 1, 2015.

On Sunday, the Queens Botanical Garden will host a drop-off center for unwanted e-waste that will be disposed of in an environmentally responsible way that separates hazardous chemicals from water streams and the atmosphere.

Acceptable items include computers, fax machines, keyboards, printers, and scanners. (For a complete list, click here.) The event is sponsored by the Lower East Side Ecology Center.

Details: Summertime Electronic Waste Recycling Event, QBG Parking Lot, Crommelin Street between Blossom and Cherry avenues, Flushing, July 19, 10 am to 4 pm, free.

Bonus details: There will be a special workshop from 1 pm to 3 pm on July 19 during which children will be able to make crafts out of recycled and repurposed items.

Photo by Lower East Side Ecology Center