04/16/14 1:00pm

Joseph McElligott

Queens people never get tired of diversity. This Saturday, the New York Irish Center will host A Celebratory Feast of Irish and World Culture, a night that will include everything from poetry to string music to acting by a former boxer. The performers are part of Artists Without Walls, a troupe dedicated to uniting creative types from all genres to inspire each other…and then inspire their audiences. Co-founder Niamh Hyland (below), a singer/songwriter from the Emerald Isle, headlines the show with classical violinist Annette Homann, Nigerian spoken word artist Koro Koroye (above), TV and film actor Jack O’Connell, singer/songwriter Michael Brunnock and champion boxer-turned-actor John Duddy.

Details: Artists Without Walls: A Celebratory Feast of Irish and World Culture, New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, April 26th, 7:30 pm, cocktail hour before performances, $22/$11 for seniors, students and the unemployed.


Top photo: Joseph McElligott; bottom photo: Artists Without Walls

04/07/14 1:00pm


Amanda Loulaki flirts with fragmented time, imagery, empty space, non-linear narrative and the extremities of a movement’s physicality. On Wednesday, the Crete-born choreographer kicks off a four-night run of her newest show, FORESTED, at the Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City. Loulaki, a 1994 Fulbright Scholarship winner, will present a series of vignettes that present the body as a container of history… and the performance space as a container of the body. A premiere, FORESTED is the second piece of a trilogy that explores how an audience’s gaze can be directed in performance, and how that gaze affects the experience of time.

Details: FORESTED, The Chocolate Factory Theater, 5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City, April 9 through April 12th, nightly at 8 pm, $15.


Photos: Joe Levasseur

04/04/14 1:00pm


Western Queens got talent! Literary talent, that is. With a creativity incubator, a live-reading circuit, two new bookstores (Enigma and Astoria), and even a journal dedicated to fiction, the borough’s “word scene” is booming. On April 12th, the prose grows with World of Words: Queens at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. Audrey Dimola (below), an “editorial acrobat” who is the event’s host, informs that there will be poetry, storytelling, music, dance, video, drama, spoken word, translation and live drawing of the performances. She also promises wit, rawness, passion, humor, honesty… and a few surprises.

Details: World of Words: Queens, Little Theatre at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, April 12th, 3 pm to 5:30 pm, $10.


Photos: Audrey Dimola

03/25/14 12:30pm

mushroom stroganoff_700

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: Bear Restaurant, 12-14 31st Avenue, Long Island City.

The Deal: Bear Restaurant was opened by siblings Natasha and Sasha Pogrebinsky and serves the Eastern European cuisine of their childhood, with a local twist. Sasha mixes and develops cocktails while Natasha runs the kitchen.

“Traditions and culture are what drives the design of our menu, which changes frequently based on what is fresh and available at the local farmer’s markets,” says Natasha.

The cash-only restaurant has drawn the attention of the New York Times and Michelin Guides.

The Dish: When at Bear, try the as-seen-on-TV dish of mushroom stroganoff. Natasha prepared a variation of the dish when competing on Food Network’s Chopped (Season 16, Episode 14), and it has been a customer favorite since debuting on the menu.

The mushroom stew is made daily and combines stewed mushrooms, caramelized onions, fresh herbs and finished with sunflower and truffle butter. It’s then served over house-made pasta, which is cut by hand.

“Steeped in tradition, culture and history, Bear tries to transcend time by reinventing this age-old recipe from Eastern Europe and bring it into a more comfortable, modern and relaxed feel of the Bear dining room,” Natasha says.

For a refreshing drink, try Sasha’s St. Dill Martini, a sophisticated twist on the ubiquitous pickleback: a vodka and pickle martini.

03/20/14 11:00am


As mentioned, I spend an atrocious amount of time studying century-old publications and journals found on Google Books. These periodicals, both trade and municipal in nature, often discuss the origins of the Newtown Creek as it exists today.

At the beginning of the 20th century, when the Creek was at its arguable worst (environmentally speaking), there was a popular sentiment that engineering could fix all of its problems.

Hindsight suggests that they just made things worse, of course, but there’s the human condition for you. Pictured above is the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge in modernity, while below is a shot of the 1910 version. In both shots, Brooklyn is on the left and Queens on the right.


- photo from Engineering magazine, Volume 38, 1910 — courtesy Google Books

This is the bridge that burned away in the 1919 Locust Hill Oil Refinery disaster, a swing bridge which is not altogether dissimilar to the relict Grand Street Bridge found further up the Creek.

I’ve done a few Q’stoner posts on the environs around the modern structure – the Tidewater Building, the nearby SimsMetal Yard, a former Standard Oil gas station, even the old Van Iderstine properties.

Whenever such “Now and Then” shots come into my hands, especially images which are considered to be in the public domain, they will be eagerly shared.

Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.

03/19/14 1:00pm


She was a broadcast journalist, newspaper columnist, TV producer, book reviewer, teacher, writer and a living contradiction. Nuala O’Faolain was heterosexual, but her longest romantic relationship was with a lesbian activist. She was an ardent feminist, but she adored her neglectful, distant father. In the early 2000s, she engrossed her native country by detailing her loveless, impoverished childhood in the male-dominant Ireland of the 1940s and 1950s in her memoir Are You Somebody? Then, she bewitched the Emerald Isle again when she turned to her friend, radio host Marian Finucane, to talk frankly about her cancer and impending death in 2012. On Friday, the New York Irish Center will screen a documentary on O’Faolin’s life by director Patrick Farrelly, who will attend and participate in a Q&A session.

Details: Nuala, New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, March 21st, 7:30 pm, $11/$6 students, seniors, unemployed.

Photo: Nuala O’Faolain

03/18/14 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: The Baroness, 41-26 Crescent Street, Long Island City.

The Deal: The Baroness Bar exploded – almost literally – in a vastly underserved area of Queens dining landscape. The craft beer and wine bar has drawn the attention of the city’s bloggers by teaching customers “the art of Sabrage a Champagne,” or how to open a bottle of champagne with a saber. In a cordoned-off area of a bar, patrons who purchase a bottle of champagne are handed a saber and told to slide it down the bottle hard and fast to make the cork pop off. The bar also offers some perfect bar nibbles of cheeses, meats, and flatbreads.


The Dish: The flatbreads have quickly become a popular accompaniment to the specialty wines and beers. Out of the regular selection of seven pizzas – including a rotating special – one has stood out above the rest: the Som’bitch. The house-made crust is dusted with fennel and topped with chorizo, hot dry milanos, spicy tasso ham, and the homemade spicy sauce and blistering mozerella.

“It is definitely set apart from your traditional ‘pizzas,’ considering the level of quality of the ingredients. It is not reinventing the wheel ‑- more like making it work better than others,” says owner Kyle Radzyminski.

Try with caution. The name was chosen for a reason.

03/14/14 1:00pm


On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death near the Kew Gardens apartment building where she lived. At first, the murder didn’t receive much media attention, but 13 days later, The New York Times ran an article with the headline: “Thirty-Seven Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police.” (A later reproduction put the number at 38.) The witnesses’ alleged indifference became a symbol of the callousness of the era and led to psychological investigation of the social phenomenon now known as “Genovese syndrome” or “bystander effect.” This Saturday, the Greater Astoria Historical Society will mark the 50th anniversary of this 28-year-0ld bar manager’s killing with a roundtable discussion about the truths, myths, lies and exaggerations of this case.

Details: History Roundtable: Kitty GenoveseGreater Astoria Historical Society, Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadway, 4th Floor, Long Island City, $5.

Photo: KittyGenoveseBook/FB

03/12/14 2:00pm


It’s the food-and-networking event of the year … and Queens Brownstoner will be there as a sponsor and taste master! The Queens Economic Development Corporation recently announced that Queens Taste 2014 will take place at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, 135-20 39th Avenue in Flushing, from 6 pm to 9 pm on April 29th. The reasons to attend are as diverse as the borough. Foodies can expect everything from sweet to savory to salty; Mexican to Malaysian to mainstream; and crunchy to creamy to crispy. For example, La Fusta in Elmhurst is planning to bring Argentine cuisine, while Flushing’s Mamak will serve Malaysian treats and Jamaica’s O Lavrador (below) will delight with Portuguese paella. Plus, clients of the Entrepreneur Space, a food-and-business incubator that QEDC operates in Long Island City, will be giving out samples of their artisan specialties, including gourmet cheesecake balls, soul snacks and designer meatballs. Then there are the drinks. LIC’s SquareWine headlines a spirits group that includes Queens Brewery and Punzoné Vodka. Finally, the networking. QEDC hopes that at least 1,000 people will attend, and most of them either live in Queens or do business in the borough.

Queens Taste 2014 costs $100 per ticket or two for $175. Click here to buy tickets. For more information, call 718.263.0546 or send an email to rmackay@queensny.org.


Photos: QEDC

03/10/14 1:00pm


Since 2006, the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center’s Lab Residency Program has nurtured more than 50 artists and organizations. It’s time to celebrate. From March 26th through April 2nd, this incubator for creative types will host the Rough Draft Festival to showcase work by residents and offer a window into their artistic processes. Attendees can enjoy plays, the spoken word and even theatre workshops followed by interactive Q&A sessions with the creators. The schedule follows:

  • March 26th, Built For Collapse Workshop, 2:30 pm, Main Stage Theater, a series of exercises explaining the five bio-energetic structures and their relationship to emotional storytelling through performance.
  • March 26th, New Play Development Reading, 7 pm, Little Theater, Babies Just Roll by LPAC resident Kathryn Hathaway.
  • March 27th, Visual Storytelling through Physical Performance, 10:30 am, Dance Studio, theater-making via developing tools to create original work and applying them to bodies in space.
  • March 27th, New Play Development Reading, 7 pm, Little Theater, Christina Martinez by LPAC Resident Dan McCabe.
  • March 28th, Unstaged: A Playwriting and Performance Experiment, 3 pm to 9 pm, co-curated by Audrey Dimola and Tyler Rivenbark, ten playwrights will be paired with small groups of performers to write, rehearse, and stage individual short plays on the spot.
  • March 29th, RED WEDNESDAY, Work-in-Progress, 7 pm, Little Theater, inspired by the controversial story of Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, Iran’s Foreign Minister during the 1979 hostage crisis, and written by his great-niece, this play unpacks core issues between Iran, the U.S. and global interests.
  • April 2nd, Writing Workshop with New Play Development curator Francine Volpe, Little Theater, 2:30 pm. Volpe is a playwright, screenwriter and dramaturge who received her B.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in Dramatic Writing and was later the recipient of a two-year Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwriting Fellowship at The Juilliard School.

Details: Rough Draft Festival, LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, March 26th through April 2nd, free.

Bonus detail: Rough Draft Festival Kick-off event featuring site-specific performances, live DJ and interactive social media installations done in collaboration with HOLOCENTER (Center For Holographic Arts), Clocktower Building, Queens Plaza North, Long Island City, March 27th, 9 pm to midnight. For reservations, email rsvp-lpac@lagcc.cuny.edu.