Brooklyn has hipsters. Queens has Hip-to-Hip. This theater company, which specializes in family-friendly productions, performs Shakespeare classics for free in various public spaces throughout the borough each summer. This year, Hip-to-Hip will put on the Bard of Avon’sTwo Gentlemen of Verona, an early slapstick comedy about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness…and a dog, and Cymbeline, a late romance/fairy tale about a king, his only daughter, an evil stepmother, and a forbidden love. The professional actors will perform in repertory, and 30 minutes before each performance, they will host “Kids & The Classics,” an interactive workshop for children of all ages.
On August 11th, 1973, Kool DJ Herc and his sister Cindy organized a back-to-school party in the recreation room of a residential building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. The shindig is credited with launching the Hip Hop movement, although Queens played a huge role in the genre’s rise, thanks to Queensbridge native DJ Marley Marl, a veritable captain of the industry, and such mainstream talent as Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Salt-N-Pepa. On May 1st, Herc (above) and Marley Marl (after the jump) will spin records, talk shop, and bust rhymes at Queens Library’s central branch to kick off 31 Days of Non-Stop Hip Hop. During the entire month, the library will host free Hip Hop events at various branches throughout the borough. Here’s the schedule:
History of Hip Hop with Kool DJ Herc and DJ Marley Marl, Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica. Teens only. Free ticket is required. May 1st, 4 pm.
Who’s the Best MC: the Voice of Harlem and DJ Ted Smooth, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 2nd, 4 pm.
Family Day Jam: Zulu Nation, Langston Hughes Branch, 100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona. May 3rd, 2 pm.
This week in Hip Hop (a web-only event), #HipHopElements. May 4th.
Who’s the Best MC: Actor and Personality Marc John Jeffries & DJ G-Money, Langston Hughes Branch, 100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona. May 5th, 4 pm.
Queens Memory Hip Hop in Your ‘Hood. Share memories, memorabilia and photos. St. Albans Branch, 191-05 Linden Boulevard. May 6th, 5 pm.
Teen Fashion Entrepreneurs: Keith Perrin (founder of FUBU), Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 6th, 4 pm.
Teen Fashion Entrepreneurs: Keith Perrin (founder of FUBU), Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 7th, 4 pm.
Create your own music experience, Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica. May 8th, 4 pm.
Battle of the DJs: Media celeb Steph Lova & DJ G-Money, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 9th, 4 pm.
Hip Hop Book/Movie List – A Facebook event, #HipHopElements. May 10th.
Hip Hop College of Music & Arts: Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 12th, 4 pm.
Hip Hop College of Music & Arts: Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 13th, 4 pm.
Queens Memory Hip Hop in Your ‘Hood. Share memories, memorabilia and photos. St. Albans Branch, 191-05 Linden Boulevard. May 13th, 5 pm.
Hip Hop Book Review, Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica. May 14th, 4 pm.
Poetry Live: Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica. May 15th, 4 pm.
A walk on Linden Boulevard in St. Albans, under the Long Island Rail Road overpass at 180th Street near the St. Albans station, reveals a colorful mural on the north side depicting jazz and R&B greats Billie Holiday, Illinois Jacquet, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, Brook Benton, Milt Hinton, Fats Waller and James Brown, as well as baseball’s Jackie Robinson and Roy Campanella. It appeared in 2004 and was organized by Winnie Morgan and designed by Joe Stephenson with the aid of volunteer artists; it replaced an earlier mural that had chipped away and had otherwise been compromised over the years.
The personalities on the mural weren’t selected arbitrarily — everyone here was a resident of St. Albans, and more specifically, most lived in Addisleigh Park, a quiet neighborhood located between Guy Brewer Boulevard, the LIRR, Linden Boulevard and 111th (Brinkerhoff) Avenue.
Southern Queens’ ascendance as a mecca for jazz musicians began in 1923 when Clarence Williams, a successful musician and entrepreneur from Plaquemine, Louisiana, purchased a home and eight lots at 171-37 108th Avenue. Anticipating the increasing popularity of jazz in the north, Williams moved first to Chicago in 1920 and then to New York with his wife, singer Eva Taylor, in 1923. Desiring open spaces reminiscent of his upbringing in the Louisiana delta, Williams made his home in Queens. He would be the first in a lengthy line of jazz musicians to come to southern Queens.
Elsewhere in Queens, Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie called Corona home (both are interred in Flushing Cemetery); swing kings Benny Goodman and Woody Herman resided in Jackson Heights; Bix Beiderbecke in Sunnyside; and Cannonball Adderley in East Elmhurst, among many others.
The Queens Jazz Trail, a map and walking guide by Tony Millionaire and Marc H. Miller and published by the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, is an excellent guide to the residences of jazz musicians borough-wide.
A shipwreck, a conspiracy, magic, monsters and love at first sight. The Hip to Hip Theatre Company kicks off its summer season with The Tempest, Shakespeare’s romantic thriller about a deposed duke. After 12 years on a deserted island, the duke uses magic to raise a storm at sea while seeking revenge on the foes who purloined his dukedom. Hip to Hip will present The Tempest and Love’s Labor Lost at 10 Queens venues — Crocheron Park in Bayside, Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s Unisphere, Gantry Plaza State Park in LIC, Lost Battalion Recreation Center in Rego Park, O’Donohue Park in Far Rockaway, Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria, Sunnyside Gardens Park, St. Albans Park and Voelker Orth Museum in Flushing — over the next two months. Founded in 2007 by Queens-based actors Jason and Joy Marr, Hip to Hip strives to provide fantastic theater at accessible locations. Its name comes from a phrase in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Details: Free Shakespeare in the Park, first show on July 24, O’Donohue Park, vicinity of Seagirt Boulevard at Beach 17th Street, Far Rockaway, 7 pm. (more…)
For those who aren’t familiar with my work on Brownstoner.com, I’m Suzanne Spellen, and I write under the pen name “Montrose Morris.” Mr. Morris was an important late 19th century architect who worked almost entirely in Brooklyn. He was especially prolific in Central Brooklyn – in Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, where I lived for close to twenty-five years. I took his name as a log-in name well before I started writing for the blog, and it just stuck. I write about architectural history, neighborhood history, and the people who lived, worked and walked in our streets. I’ll be doing the same here, and I hope to do Queens proud.
I have a Queens connection as well as a Brooklyn connection; I spent the first five years of my life in Queens. Not impressive street cred, but it’s what I’ve got. My family lived in St. Albans until I was six, when we moved to upstate New York. I went to pre-school in a park in St. Albans, and went to kindergarten at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School, on Riverton Street, near Farmers and Baisley Boulevards. I still have very vivid memories of the school, and the house I lived in, even though it wasn’t for all that long, and was long ago, when dinosaurs still roamed the streets.
I was asked to write about Queens and its history and buildings, so I thought I would start with an area that is not on the radar for hip and happening colonization anytime soon, thankfully. This first post about Queens is going to be personal, and hopefully informational. As many have said, and will continue to say, Queens is a multi-cultural melting pot, with more cultures and ethnicities than any other part of New York City. Queens is so much more than just Long Island City, Forest Hills, Astoria and Ridgewood. Today, the first Queenswalk is going to look at my old hometown of St. Albans.