Last Tuesday, which you’ll recall as being one of the first days of tolerable weather in months, I decided to go for a little walk right here in Astoria. My destination was St. Michael’s Cemetery, which is found around a mile from HQ. Happily, there was still snow on the ground despite it being the balmy lower 50s – and happier still – it was somewhat overcast so I didn’t have to struggle to control an over abundance of light striking the reflective snow.
Yesterday’s storm was officially the moment at which I, for one, have had it with this never ending winter. As my ennui is tantamount to becoming that proverbial monkey shaking a fist at the moon, the only reaction I can offer is that I need to see some bright, saturated color right now or I just might bury myself in the snow and disappear. Accordingly, in today’s post, “Scenes from Queens,” all of which were captured during warmer times.
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.