04/15/14 1:00pm


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


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.


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.


02/25/14 1:00pm


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.


02/03/14 1:00pm


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.


01/21/14 12:30pm


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.


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


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

10/21/13 1:00pm


It’s scary how many Halloween-related festivals will take place in Queens over the next 10 days. On tap are everything from costume contests (for humans and dogs, of course), haunted houses, enchanted walks and Dia de los Muertos celebrations. Here is a list of some of the free or low-cost fun.

Oct. 25, See It Big!, 7 pm, Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Ave., Astoria. Despite the availability of movies on portable devices and small screens, there is only one way to really see a scary movie: BIG! Enjoy the 1978 Halloween classic starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Free with MMI admission ($6-$12).

Oct. 25, 26 & 27, Halloween Haunted House, 4 pm-7 pm, Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy., Floral Park. Hayrides, mulled cider, pumpkins and apples. The haunted house is recommended for children ages 4–12. Adults will find it creepy too! $4 with purchasable items.

Oct. 25 & 26, Haunted Lantern Tour, 6:30-8:30 pm, Fort Totten, 212th Street and Bell Boulevard, Bayside. Urban Park Rangers will lead a nighttime tour of the Civil War-era bastion’s battery. Expect frights mixed in with a history lesson.

Oct. 26, Second Annual Woodside Halloween Pet Parade and Festival, 11 am-2 pm, Windmuller Park, 52nd Avenue and 39th Drive. An afternoon of surprises including a costume contest, training workshops, grooming demos and giveaways. Free.

Oct. 26, Canine Costumes Carnival in the Rockaways, noon-2 pm, Freeway Dog Park/Beach 84, 83-02 Beach Channel Dr., Rockaway. Indulge your desire to dress up your pooch as a caped avenger. This costume contest for canines has carnival games, a photo booth and pet-friendly services. Free.

After the jump, many more Halloween events taking place all over the borough… (more…)


¡Qué Viva México! The Calpulli Dance Company was founded in 2003 with the mission of teaching and producing live music and theater promoting the rich diversity of Mexican culture. Success came almost immediately, and the Jackson Heights-based group has taken its fast-paced, emotive performances — not to mention the infectious music, mesmerizing movement and colorful costumes — to audiences around the world. This weekend, Calpulli returns to Queens Theatre for a ninth season to debut several brand new, original pieces over two shows.

Details: Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, October 19th at 8 pm and October 20th at 4 pm, $25-$35. (more…)

09/24/13 1:00pm


On your marks… Get set… Eat! The tenth annual Queens Restaurant Week 2013 will run from September 30th to October 3rd and October 7th to October 10th with more than 60 eateries participating. A three-course, prix fixe dinner for $28 and lunch for $14 are the general parameters for the promotion, although some establishments will also offer wine or some other items, and many restaurants will continue their specials beyond October 10th. As to be expected in the world’s most diverse county, the cuisine options are boundless. Participating restaurants include Ben’s Best (Kosher, Rego Park), Christos (Astoria, steakhouse with Greek influence), Dazies (Sunnyside, Italian), Haveli (Forest Hills, Indian), Roka (Richmond Hill, Turkish), Tequila Sunrise (Bayside, Mexican) and Uncle Peter’s (Jackson Heights, pan-European).

Details: Queens Restaurant Week 2013, September 30th to October 3rd and October 7th to October 10th. Click here for a participant list.

09/16/13 1:00pm


Jeff Orlick isn’t living his dream, he’s eating it… and he wants to share. This Friday, the Jackson Heights-based culinary tour guide and the 82nd Street Partnership will host the outdoor food extravaganza Viva la Comida! A celebration of the borough’s culinary diversity, restaurants, bakeries and mobile vendors — including Tortas Neza (Mexican), Arepa Lady (Colombian), Chimi Express (inventors of the Dominican pizzatón), Morocho (Peruvian) and the debuting Tibetan momo truck Amdo — will sell their products along 82nd Street. However, food is only part of the fun. Gerardo Contino y Los Habaneros and other local bands will perform with a break at 8 pm for an open dance competition with prizes. Plus, Hibridos Collective will organize an interactive art fair, and Design For You will host a pop-up market featuring treats from such local favorites as Bittersweet NYC and Tropisec.

Details: Viva la Comida! by the 82nd Street Partnership, 82nd Street between Roosevelt and Baxter avenues, Jackson Heights, September 20th, 4 pm to 10 pm, free to attend. (more…)