09/05/14 1:00pm

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Queens is always teeming with fun, enriching, and inspiring activities, and this weekend is no exception. In fact, this Saturday’s lineup is so diverse and enthralling that it has inspired the Queens Tourism Council to offer prizes. It’s simple, anybody who takes a selfie at the four events described in this post and shares them on the QTC Facebook page receives an It’s In Queens tee-shirt (or another prize if supplies run out).

The first item is a public art project by Roshani Thakore and Fumi Nakamura entitled “Move with Us.” These artists (above) invite Queens immigrant residents to demonstrate physical stances in public spaces for an animated video illustrating collective cultural gestures. The goal is to collect 167 poses to represent 167 cultures, and each participant will receive a custom-designed luggage tag as a memento. Details: 12:30 pm to 3 pm, Queens Library Sunnyside Branch, 43-06 Greenpoint Avenue.

More details and images after the jump.

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07/18/14 1:00pm

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Some will sit on folding chairs. Others will lie on blankets. Still more will stand or maybe even sit on the curb. But all will certainly enjoy FLIC NIC in the Street in Jackson Heights this Saturday — and again next Saturday. The Queens World Film Festival and the Jackson Heights Green Alliance will offer two evenings of action, family, feature, international, local and short movies at the 78th Street Play Street, which is permanently closed to vehicular traffic.

Descriptions of the scheduled flicks are on the jump page.

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06/13/14 1:00pm

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There will be dancing in the streets. Many, many streets…bars, cemeteries, gardens, historic houses, malls, parks, nonprofits, restaurants, stoops and triangles, too. On June 21st (aka the longest day of the year), Make Music New York will host a Summer Solstice festival consisting of more than 1,000 free concerts throughout the five boroughs. From 10 am to 10 pm, musicians of all persuasions — hip hop to opera, jazz to punk, high school bands to pop stars — will do their things. Queens, of course, will be in the center of the action. For example, South African artist Toya DeLazy will perform her unique blend of hip hop, jazz and electronica at LIC Landing (52-10 Center Boulevard, Long Island City) at 1 pm. Meanwhile from noon to 4 pm, the Queens Council on the Arts (37-11 35th Avenue, Astoria) will present Reggae artist Desmond followed by Instrumental Jazz Fusion by Mind Open. Six hours of music and dance are scheduled at the Spaceworks LIC Block Party (33-02 Skillman Avenue, LIC). All told, Astoria, Corona, Elmhurst, Glendale, Jackson Heights, Jamaica, LIC, Ridgewood and Sunnyside will host events.

Click here for a complete list of all performers, venues, and times in Queens.

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05/21/14 1:00pm

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Jack Eichenbaum grew up in Bayside in the 1950s. He left for academic and vocational reasons in 1963, and when he returned from completing his doctorate in urban geography in 1976, he found a completely different borough. The mostly white, working class neighborhoods of his youth had transformed into multi-ethnic enclaves, creating the world’s most diverse county. Fascinated, he started giving walking tours of his beloved hometown in the 1980s, and in 2010, Eichenbaum was designated the official historian of Queens, as per the borough president’s office. The former city assessor has five upcoming tours, which are famous for the amount of local trivia he shares and the great restaurants he hits afterwards with participants. For more information, please see below.

  • Willets Point, Sunday, May 25th, 4 pm: East of Citi Field is a sewerless, hardscrabble area of auto junkyards and related businesses that has twice beaten back recent attempts at redevelopment. But since it’s located between the world famous baseball stadium and booming Flushing, public and private interests are again trying to transform Willets Point. Eichenbaum will walk from central Flushing to the area, while discussing political, economic and ecological issues and explaining why “Willets Point” is a misnomer. $20.
  • The World of the 7 Train, Saturday, May 31st, 10 am: Eichenbaum calls this full-day program his “signature tour,” although it’s actually a series of six walks (Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing) and connecting rides. He focuses on the 7 train’s influence on surrounding neighborhoods. Lunch is in Flushing. Pre-register via jaconet@aol.com.
  • On and Off Jamaica Avenue, Sunday, June 8th, 10 am: After decades of dedication, redesign, and redevelopment, Downtown Jamaica is undergoing a renaissance as the borough’s major transportation center. Eichenbaum promises historic buildings, commercial activity, culture, and a surprise ending. $20.
  • Crossing Newtown Creek: Contrasting Industrial Brooklyn & Queens, Sunday, July 27th, 10 am: See remnants of the intense and largely unregulated industrial development that thrived along Newtown Creek during the late 19th century. See elegant Greenpoint highlights and East River shoreline redevelopment ending with shoreline views from Gantry Park and Hunter’s Point.
  • More Space and New Arrangements in Western Queens, Sunday, August 3rd, 10 am: During the first third of the 20th century, Western Queens nurtured developments where traditional open space/building area relationships were altered to create new urban architecture. Sunnyside Gardens and the Jackson Heights Historic District anchor this tour, which includes Phipps Garden Apartments, various Matthews Flats, the Metropolitan Life houses, and early truck-oriented industrial buildings.

Photo: Alex Engel

04/15/14 1:00pm

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It’s the New York City marathon for word lovers. Queens Writes Weekend 2014 will facilitate more than 12 literary events at a minimum of six venues throughout the world’s most diverse borough over the last weekend in April. The fun will start on Friday, April 25th, with an open reading at The Astoria Bookshop featuring contributors to the third issue of Newtown Literary, a semi-annual journal. On Saturday and Sunday, the events will differ, but authors of all kinds — young, old, novice, expert — will simply sit down together and write for a few hours. Participants will then share the products of their efforts at an open mic event at Terraza 7 in Elmhurst on Sunday night.

Details: Queens Writes Weekend 2014, begins with Kick-Off Reading at The Astoria Bookshop, 31-29 31st Street, Astoria, April 25th, 7 pm, click here for times and venues on April 26th and April 27th, ends at Wrap-Up Open Mic at Terraza 7, 40-19 Gleane Street, Elmhurst, April 27th, 6 pm, suggested donations at all times to defray the costs of publishing Newtown Literary‘s fourth edition and other good works. So far, events are set for Astoria, Bayside, Corona, Forest Hills, Jackson Heights and Kew Gardens, but more sites are expected to be confirmed before the weekend begins. Schedule and venues will be posted and updated regularly on this page.

Photo: Audrey Dimola

04/07/14 11:00am

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One of my obsessions, practiced while wandering around Queens, centers around photographing Fireboxes. Rather than garnering suspicious glances from the local gendarmé, my intention is to record these ubiquitous pieces of street furniture before their inevitable removal.

The one pictured above was on Crescent Street, where I believed myself to be standing on the Astoria side of the street.

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Review Avenue, nearby Calvary Cemetery, is where the one pictured above can be found.

This little project of mine got started a few years ago – when first Mayor Giuliani, and then Mayor Bloomberg – announced intentions to remove the alarm system from service, due to the high number of false alarms (one city lawyer claimed false alarms counted for as much as 85-95 percent of alarm box calls) reported through the street fixtures. The reasoning as stated was that since most people carried cell phones, with direct access to 911, the century old alarm box system was no longer needed and an unnecessary expense.

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02/25/14 1:00pm

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There will be movies from around the world — and around the corner. On March 4th, the fourth annual Queens World Film Festival will kick off a six-day moving image rampage of everything from feature films to shorts. Attendees can check out a dazzling selection of foreign flicks from such exotic ports of call as Belgium, Iran, India, Spain, Kosovo, Switzerland and Vietnam and enjoy the work of 18 borough-based auteurs.  Like-minded films will be blocked together and will roll at Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image, The Secret Theatre and Nesva Hotel in Long Island City and PS 69 in Jackson Heights. The fun starts with an opening night party featuring the world premiere of the director’s cut of the of 2014 Academy Award-nominated documentary The Act of Killing. Directed by English-born Joshua Oppenheimer, the movie portrays his country’s national guilt potentially exhumed by a love of movies.

Details: Queens World Film Festival, Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue), The Secret Theatre (44-02 23rd Street), Nesva Hotel (39-12 29th Street) and PS 69 (77-02 37th Avenue), March 4th through the 9th, click here for times and venues, click here for tickets.

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02/03/14 1:00pm

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In the early afternoon of February 7th, 1964, the Beatles arrived at JFK Airport via a Pan Am flight from London. A few minutes later, John, Paul, Ringo and George held their first U.S. press conference. Beatlemania ensued. This Friday, The Port Authority of NY & NJ, in conjunction with Beatles Fest and Radio Station Q104.3 FM, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of this world-changing moment with a ceremony featuring the unveiling a marker inside the airport and the cover band Liverpool playing Fab Four favorites. The fun continues on February 9th, when director and screenwriter Celeste Balducci hosts music, dancing and the world premiere of The Lovely Lilly, and independent short film set in Jackson Heights during February 8th-9th, 1964.

Details: Beatles Anniversary, TWA Flight Center at JFK’s Central Terminal Area, adjacent to JetBlue’s Terminal 5, February 7th, 11:30 am, RSVP to the Port Authority’s Media Relations Office at 212-435-7777 is required.

Bonus detail: Beatles Party, Elmhurst Hospital Center Auditorium, 79-01 Broadway, Elmhurst, February 9, 6 pm, free.

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01/21/14 12:30pm

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Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email emily@brownstoner.com.

The Spot: Samudra Indian Restaurant, 75-18 37th Avenue, Jackson Heights.

The Deal: The Indian waiter-service restaurant opened at the end of 2013. The owner, Jagdish Shetty, is from South India and serves regional specialties of both north and south India. The exclusively vegetarian menu can attract even meat-eaters with its spiced, spicy, and flavorful recipes. Each dish is made to order, and the kitchen will customize the dish to the customer’s preferred level of spiciness.

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The Dish: The menu at Samudra features a large section dedicated to dosas, a South Indian crepe made from rice and lentils. Since opening, the top-selling dosa has been the Masala Dosa, filled with a spiced potato. The dish (pictured above) is served with coconut chutney, sambar, and tomato chili.

“If someone is unfamiliar with dosa, this would definitely be a great starter choice! It is mild, so even those with the most sensitive of tastes will enjoy it,” says Mandy Sprecher, the restaurant manager.

Diners who are more familiar with Indian foods (or who have a hardier spice tolerance) can try Shetty’s favorite, Rava Masala Dosa, which is also filled with the potato masala but the crepe is made with semolina and rice flour.

12/17/13 1:00pm

Carols

It definitely will not be a silent night. On December 21st, carolers of all talent levels will wind their way through Jackson Heights as part of the fifth annual, snow-or-shine Winter Holiday Sing-A-Long. The event strives to be as all-inclusive and multi-cultural as possible, and participants will sing seasonal and holiday favorites from various faiths and in various tongues, including American Sign Language, thanks to students and faculty from the Lexington School for the Deaf. Service animals are welcome, and Santa hats and other seasonal costumes are encouraged. Some revelers will bring acoustic instruments, sheet music, candles, flashlights and recording devices. The stroll begins in front of Cassidy’s Ale House at 31st Avenue and 75th Street, and the group will determine the route and the right time to head back to the neighborhood watering hole for a warm-up party at individual expense.

Details: Jackson Heights Winter Holiday Sing-A-Long, meet on the corner of 31st Avenue and 75th Street in front of Cassidy’s Ale House, December 21st, 7 pm to 10 pm, free with cash party afterward.

Photo by Holiday Carol