09/18/14 11:00am

bsQ_091814_cal_doh_001

The Doherty monument in First Calvary is one beautiful bit of carving, in my opinion.

Art school faculty, turtlenecked and smoking french cigarettes, would probably describe the thing as “Sophia, goddess of wisdom – in the form of a christian angel, sitting within a Roman structure, crowned by a cross – representing an agglutination of civilized democratic-christian progress advancing since the time of the Greeks and the Roman Republic which ultimately and inevitably (and logically) manifested as The United States. The angel casts her eye skyward, vigilant, with sword in hand. A pacific and expectant expression suggests the nearness of the second coming and resurrection of the dead.”

Such imperious and hyperbolic thinking was very much in vogue in the years between 1900 and the first World War.

More after the jump… (more…)

09/15/14 11:00am

bsQ_091514_comstock_001

Before the consolidation of the City of Greater New York, the center of the world in Queens was in Hunters Point. This was where the docks were, and where the LIRR ferries discharged passengers coming from Manhattan. These passengers would ostensibly board the east bound trains, but an entire industry of saloons, bars, and hotels had sprung up in the area around the LIRR yard to keep them in the neighborhood. Now… remember that we’re talking about the 1870-1900 period here. Your best point of reference, from a modern point of view, for what such such establishments offered is fictionalized in Cowboy movies and the Boardwalk Empire television series. There was gambling, women, and lots and lots of liquor. This was, in effect, a frontier town – one which was ruled over by a clique of politicians whose antics would have made Boss Tweed blush. Notorious even amongst his fellows, the last Mayor of Long Island City was Patrick Jerome Gleason. He was called Battle Ax Gleason by friend and foe alike.

Gleason was personally responsible for the construction of the exquisite P.S. 1 school house pictured in the next shot, a terra cotta masterpiece which nearly bankrupted LIC – amongst other imbroglios. Dogged by claims and accusations (and at least one conviction) of corruption – Gleason used to sit in a barber chair outside the Miller Hotel – known today as the LIC Crabhouse – and hold court with constituent and passerby alike. This was his favorite spot by all reports, directly across the street from the LIRR train and ferry terminal.

He instructed those he met to avoid addressing him as “Mayor,” instructing them to instead to “Just call me Paddy.”

bsQ_091514_comstock_002

Long Island City, which existed as an independent municipality that stretched from the East River to Woodside and from Newtown Creek to Bowery Bay for just 28 years, was hardly a candidate for the good government award prior to Gleason. For some reason, he raised the ire of press and political player alike. Remember – this is during the golden age of Tammany Hall over in Manhattan. Bribes and graft were a matter of fact in this era, a part of doing business. Liquor and gambling were commonplace, along with prostitution, and this turpitude raised the ire of do gooders all over the state and nation.

Enter the assassin of joy.

(more…)

09/11/14 11:00am

a

Alan Berg was a Denver talk radio host with extremely liberal views and a brash, confrontational style. His life ended abruptly in 1984, when he was fatally shot in his driveway by two members of a white supremacy group. His story inspired a book, movies and a Pulitzer-nominated play by Eric Bogosian, entitled “Talk Radio.” The theatrical stage show is set in the studio of Cleveland’s WTLK Radio over the course of a two-hour broadcast led by Barry Champlain. The shock jock verbally jousts with his unseen callers, ranging from a white supremacist to a woman who is obsessed with her garbage disposal. Meanwhile, the provoking protagonist is being scrutinized by his coffee- and cocaine-fueled producers, who dream of taking the program to a national audience. Champlain also has some funny interactions with his on-again-off-again girlfriend/producer and a former deejay.

With a talent-rich cast, Talk Radio begins a 16-show run at The Chain Theatre, a two-story black box events venue in Long island City, on September 12th. The show goes on thanks to a partnership with the Variations Theatre Group, an independent company of collaborating artists who aim to produce intellectually engaging, muscular drama.

Details: Talk Radio, The Chain Theatre, 21-28 45th Road, Long Island City, September 12th through September 27th, dates and times vary, but most shows start at 8 pm and a few weekend performances begin at 2 pm, $18 general admission.

Photo: Variations Theatre Group

09/08/14 11:00am

bsQ_090814_smilinhogshead_001

Skillman Avenue in Long Island City, between Pearson Place and 49th Avenue is a fairly desolate spot. The Sunnyside Yards “Yard A” dominates the northern side of the street. On the other side of the vast rail road complex is Jackson Avenue and the Court Square Subway station, the Arris Lofts, and the brand new Pearson Court Square building with its roof top windmills.

A block south, you’ll find the sewage choked waters of Newtown Creek’s Dutch Kills tributary, which provided a maritime link to the Degnon Terminal industrial park (which has been discussed in this post). Skillman Avenue forms one of the borders of the Degnon Terminal, and at the corner of Pearson Place and Skillman Avenue – the tracks of the LIRR’s Montauk Cutoff offered locomotive access to the Degnon Terminal railway tracks. This spur is in place to this very day, and there are rails sticking up out of the modern day asphalt which run up elevations to elevated tracks that connected Sunnyside Yard with the LIRR tracks which run along Newtown Creek, through Maspeth and then towards Fresh Pond. If curious about such things – go here.

That’s a short history of the site, and you won’t believe what’s going on here now.

More after the jump… (more…)

09/05/14 1:00pm

a

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.

(more…)

09/04/14 1:00pm

aa

Friday Nights + Live Music =  Delightful Bliss. On September 5th, Mickey Coleman will pay a visit to the New York Irish Center. A former all-Ireland Gaelic football medalist from County Tyrone, Coleman is the latest folk singer/songwriter to make a splash on the Irish music scene. He has an innate talent for penning ditties which speak of his love for his native country matched with a fine, soulful voice. He will share the stage with special guest Dominic Mac Giolla Bhríde, a traditional Irish music singer with a light, airy voice and an easygoing, conversational stage presence. (He sings in English and Gaelic.)

Meanwhile at the other end of the 7 train, Flushing Town Hall will host the Five Boroughs Music Festival, a recital series hosted by the Casement Fund, which encourages creative writing, poetry, and the written word as it relates to music. On this night, four highly acclaimed young vocalists – Caitlin Lynch, soprano; Leah Wool, mezzo-soprano; Michael Slattery, tenor; and Sidney Outlaw, baritone — will join pianist Spencer Myer to celebrate the 200th birthday of The Star Spangled Banner. They will also track the progression of popular American song over the last two centuries.

Details after the jump. (more…)

09/04/14 11:00am

bsQ_090414_zhotel_001

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…)

09/03/14 1:00pm

aa

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…)

08/28/14 1:00pm

4

Kripalu Yoga integrates postures, breathing techniques, relaxation, and meditation in an interplay of mind, body, and energy. An outdoor, waterfront space filled with nature and art is the perfect place to practice this system of Hatha Yoga.

Tai Chi integrates slow body movement, fist-clenching, and internal concentration to improve balance, strength, and general psychological health. This Chinese martial art traces its origins to Taoist and Buddhist monasteries, and it, too, is best when practiced outdoors.

Free classes on both disciplines are being offered on weekends until October as part of Socrates Sculpture Park‘s healthy living initiative, which includes boating and a Saturday greenmarket.

Monique Schubert – a trained visual artist, certified Kripalu Yoga teacher, and eclectic educator — teaches the Kripalu Yoga with the uber-experienced Yojaida Estrella on Saturdays. Meanwhile, certified instructors from the Taoist Tai Chi Society of the USA lead the Tai Chi classes on Sundays.

More photos and information on jump page.

(more…)

08/25/14 1:00pm

yoga-room-yoga-class

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.

(more…)