12/04/14 11:00am

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In a recent New York Times piece, Daniel L. Doctoroff (who served as the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York, and then as the CEO of Bloomberg L.P. until September of this year) emphatically reissued his call to deck over the Sunnyside Yard here in Queens with the intention of erecting some sort of convention center atop it.

As regular devotees of Q’stoner know, I’ve been mentioning Sunnyside Yard over and over for a while now. The Harold Interlocking is found here, which is the busiest rail junction in the entire United States, for instance. You might notice that the Doctoroff plan is actually mentioned in that posting as well, which was published in July of 2013.

There are lots of people who think this is a good idea being proposed. Deck over the yard and build a world class convention center and hotel complex, at Queens Plaza. Add in an “affordable” housing component, or non binding promise to think about building some at least, and only an idiot would oppose it.

I am that idiot.

More after the jump…

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11/24/14 11:00am

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Like every kid who grew up in New York City, the expectation was that you would be treated to a “ride” in return for being dragged by your parents to some shopping mall for school clothes. My parents used to display a sadistic glee in tormenting me, saying that they were all out of quarters and that I should think about getting a job. I was five. Eventually, after purchasing garments which my schoolmates would inevitably ridicule me for wearing, Mom and Dad would crack and give me a quarter so that I could get my payoff for consenting to wearing a turtleneck (it was the 1970s). You should have seen what they’d make me go through for a Carvel ice cream cake on my birthday, but that’s another story.

Coin Operated Vending Machines, that’s the official designation of these mechanical bits of street furniture.

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11/06/14 11:00am

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On this day, back in 1894, our forebears made what was arguably one of the greatest mistakes in history.

November the 6th is the day that Long Island City and the rest of what is now known as Queens voted to give up their sovereign rights as independent municipal entities to join with Manhattan and the Bronx, Staten Island, and the City of Brooklyn to form the City of Greater New York. An enormous section of Queens just stayed out of the whole thing, and became Nassau County. The whole consolidation effort was run out of Tammany Hall over in Manhattan. It was Dick Croker and JJ Byrne’s personal project, and it all became official in 1898 when our modern five boroughs were established.

From “Queens Borough, New York City, 1910-1920: The Borough of Homes and Industry“, courtesy Google Books:

At the election held November 6, 1894, the question of consolidating with the City of New York was voted upon by the residents of Queens County. The majority of votes in favor came from the Long Island City section whose inhabitants, because of their proximity to New York, had been in favor of the project for many years. The western part of the county therefore became part of the City of New York, and is known as Queens Borough; while the eastern part of the county was erected into a separate county, known as Nassau, taking its name from the early name for Long Island.

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09/25/14 1:00pm

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Michal Samama is a performance artist who creates body-based pieces incorporating movement, sound, objects, text, installation, and site-specific practices. She works alone. She puts her body on the line. She intentionally creates obstacles on stage that expose her to the possibility of failure.

In short, she’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The Israel-born artist is also getting ready to do her thing at The Chocolate Factory Theatre in Long Island City. Info on her four upcoming shows and more eye-popping photos are on the jump page.

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09/03/14 1:00pm

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It’s time for some enrichment, and the Greater Astoria Historical Society is ready to offer three distinct options for self-improvement on three consecutive days. This Saturday, licensed guide Tony Rohling will lead a walking tour of Sunnyside Gardens (below), a planned community which is celebrating its 90th anniversary. Participants will examine the architecture and landscaping in this historic district and check out Phipps Garden Apartments, a model residential complex for working-class families that a philanthropic organization belonging to the Henry Phipps family built in 1931. It features stylish brick work and curved steel fire escapes.

On Sunday, the Greater Astoria Historical Society will launch its first Chautauqua in Astoria workshop. Chautauqua is a lakeside village in upstate New York where summer visitors enjoy fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship, and recreational activities. Plus, the term “Chautauqua” can mean an informational lecture, and modern Chautauquas (above) focus on re-creating famous figures related to a specific theme. Sally Ann Drucker, an experienced Chautauquan, will lead a series of workshops on legendary New Yorkers from the 19th Century. Participants choose and research a legendary figure, write a 20-minute script, and learn how to present their material to live audiences. After four workshops, Chautauqua in Astoria culminates in live performances. 

Then on September 8th, the Greater Astoria Historical Society will team up with the New York Nineteenth Century Society to present a lecture on the 1876 Centennial Exhibition, which was held in Philadelphia. Attendees will learn about the celebration of America’s 100th birthday, the inventions that debuted then, and the lasting impact the event had on the United States. (For example, the Statue of Liberty’s torch-bearing hand was on display at the exhibition before the completed monument was installed in New York Harbor.) 

Details after the jump. (more…)

08/25/14 1:00pm

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Catch the sound wave! Two years ago, the inaugural LIC Concert Series consisted of one gig featuring two bands and several dozen attendees. In 2013, four bands performed for a total of roughly 600 fans. This year, the third annual event boasts five weeks of fun with 14 local entertainers who will bring everything from live music to yoga to children’s activities to Long Island City. The kick-off was last week, but the show will go on for the next four consecutive Sundays. See the full lineup after the jump.

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08/21/14 11:00am

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A century ago, Queens was growing by leaps and bounds and exploding with brand new infrastructure, a spate of investment and building which was spurred on and started by the immense success of the 1909 Queensboro Bridge. The subways began to snake out from the great bridge in the 1920s, and expansions of the system continued right through the Depression era of the 1930s.

The IND Crosstown Line, which they called the GG back then (its was renamed the “G” in 1985), came to LIC’s 21st street/Van Alst, Court Square, and Queens Plaza stations on the 19th of August in 1933. Unfortunately, due to damage inflicted upon the tracks by Hurricane Sandy related flooding, there is no opportunity to visit these stations and tip a glass on their 81st birthday – currently – as MTA employees are working on repairing and upgrading the tracks, switches, signals and God knows what else there is down there. The Shuttle Bus just ain’t the same, I’m afraid, but it is appreciated.

Check out this Wikipedia page on the IND Crosstown, or the truly excellent nycsubway.org for more.

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This is the Kosciuszko Bridge, which carries the Brooklyn Queens Expressway over my beloved Newtown Creek, and on Saturday she’ll be 75.

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07/07/14 11:00am

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I say this every time that the Mister rings his bells: Mrs. Softee is lonely during the torrid nights of a New York summer, wondering for whom her man plays his song. Mister Softee is no damn good, and she’s sure of it.

Pictured above is a proper “Mister Softee” truck, found on its rounds in Astoria one night, doing exactly what he told the Mrs. that he’d be up to. The mister’s wearing his proper “trade dress” and nothing is as it shouldn’t be (except that I was walking the dog and didn’t have a penny on me, so I couldn’t buy a vanilla cone with sprinkles. Frankly, the dog was more upset than me about this, but there you go.)

Of late, however, something strange has been going on in Queens – someone has been impersonating the Mister.

More after the jump (more…)

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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06/04/14 1:00pm

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You’ll go for the dancing, costumes and energy, but you’ll stay for the conversation and food. Then, you’ll come back because it’s a great night out. Green Space is a “new dance resource” which provides an affordable and welcoming environment for rehearsals, classes, and performance opportunities. To fulfill this mission, the 1,800-square-foot Long Island City studio hosts periodical Fertile Ground New Works Showcases that have become prized spots for emerging and established artists. Some of these artists also participate in Take Roota monthly curated series during which dancers show their pieces and get audience feedback. This Friday and Saturday, Take Root features choreographer-performer-video artist Lisa Parra and her piece, About Ana, an investigation into the relationship between language and movement and the transformations that occur within dialogues. In this work, female dancers engage one other, and words and movement form ensuing dialogue. The fun continues on Sunday with Fertile Ground, a non-curated show with five or six choreographers, followed by a discussion moderated by artistic director Valerie Green with wine and cheese.

Details: Take Root with Lisa Parra, Green Space, 37-24 24th Street, LIC, June 6th & June 7th, 8 pm, $15.

Bonus details: Fertile Ground, Green Space, 37-24 24th Street, LIC, June 8th, 7 pm, $10.

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Photos: Lisa Parra