10/10/14 1:00pm

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About two months ago, The Secret Theatre had to  launch an Indiegogo campaign to defray unforeseen NYC Department of Buildings fines and pay for required building upgrades. Well, the Long Island City-based arts organization exceeded its $10,000 fundraising goal, and it’s currently presenting more of its characteristically unique programming, including a camp, a short play competition, and a dance festival. More info on the jump page.

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10/09/14 11:00am

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Nondescript. That’s how you’d describe the structure found at the northern side of 47th Avenue, between 27th and 28th Streets, in Long Island City. You’d probably mention the fading paint of an advertisement for some sort of beer found on the facade, to distinguish it.

The modern day street address for this 1934 structure is found on the 28th Street side (46-24 28th Street), but mail sent to the offices of “E. J. Burke, Ltd., of New York, Dublin, London and Liverpool” was delivered to a long vanished secondary structure at 47-24 27th Street which was constructed around 1923. The company that resided here, a family business of sorts, built out the entire block from Skillman to 47th Avenue, and from 27th to 28th, after relocating from their digs on West 46th over in Manhattan.

At either address, you could count on the stout flowing. This was the official Guinness brewery in America, after all.

More after the jump… (more…)

10/06/14 11:00am

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An “intervention,” as the term is used in modernity, is when the family and friends of an addict or alcoholic gather to let the offending party know how their bad behavior is affecting the larger group. The idea is that the addict will be shamed into seeking some sort of professional treatment for their various issues. Clearly, things cannot continue as they are and the addict must mend their ways and conform to societal norms. There’s even a TV show called “Intervention” which presents the dramatic and emotional confrontations which ensue during these gatherings.

As everybody knows, those of us who live in Queens are dross consumerists. All of our time is spent at big box stores, fast food establishments, or just mindlessly sitting in traffic while going nowhere important. Work, breed, and die, that’s us. Brooklyn, on the other hand, has artisinal pickles, salty chocolate, and bacon ice cream. Queens needs to be more like Brooklyn, say the Brooklyn people. Well… that’s what everyone in Brooklyn and Manhattan thinks should happen around here.

Hence, the Queens Art Intervention was created, to expand our limited minds and offer a dab of color and smattering of high culture to our otherwise drab existence.

More after the jump… (more…)

09/29/14 1:00pm

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SculptureCenter continues to break the mold. Founded as The Clay Club in Brooklyn in 1928, the nonprofit changed its name and moved to a carriage house on West 8th Street in Manhattan in 1944. Four years later, it relocated to another carriage house on East 69th Street. In 2001, the arts institution purchased a former Long Island City trolley repair shop, which was then renovated by Maya Lin, the landscape artist who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.

Recently, ScuptureCenter underwent another renovation and it now boasts a new 2,000 square foot, one-story entrance lobby with bookshop, coatroom, seating area, and restrooms; 6,500 square feet of flexible interior exhibition space; an elevator and stairway to the lower level galleries; and a 1,500-square-foot, enclosed courtyard for outdoor exhibitions and events.

Now it’s time to celebrate with a special, day-long event and a four-month exhibition. More information and photos are after the jump page.

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09/22/14 11:30am

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By 1915, there approximately 40,000 automotive trucks plying the streets of New York City.

What’s surprising is that 25 percent of them were electric.

This unassuming self storage warehouse in Queens is the last mortal remains of the General Electric Vehicle Company – found at 30-28 Starr Avenue, Long Island City – who were the manufacturers of a substantial number of those electrical trucks.

More after the jump… (more…)

09/18/14 11:00am

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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

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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.”

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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.

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09/11/14 11:00am

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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

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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

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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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