04/17/14 12:30pm

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This gated entry point is one of the 37th Avenue portals to the NYC S.E.M./Signals Street Light Yard, a facility which stores and sorts various bits of street furniture and fittings – such as lamp posts, for instance. (Nearby the Home Depot on Northern Boulevard.)

In warmer times, this entire fence line is encased in a thorny vine whose fruit is a foul smelling purple-red berry. The edge of an evidently large facility, it seems seldom travelled by men, but shows all signs of serving as a protected haven for the many cats observed around it. Back in 2011, I was trudging home in a deep snow when something caught my eye.

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Something about this object was familiar to me, but its identity eluded. My thoughts keep drifting toward mental catalogs of midtown Manhattan transportation centers for some reason. Grand Central perhaps? Simple observations of the object revealed it to be metallic, and designed to exhibit a cuprous patina. Were it composed of copper or white bronze, as it is designed to appear, this would be a small fortune sitting out in the snow (from a scrap metal point of view). Sculptural ornamentation and overall design suggested “City beautiful” or “Beaux Arts” era design to me, but it is difficult at best to discern such things from an object divorced of its overall and proper setting.

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03/20/14 1:00pm

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In the early 1990s, Reverend Vince Anderson dropped out of Union Theological Seminary, where he was studying to be a Methodist minister, because he wanted to pursue a career in music. Over the next few years, he and his Love Choir filled hipster hang outs like Black Betty and Union Pool in Williamsburg, while he led a church choir and studied to get ordained. He’s now happily pastoring and playing his unique brand of “rockin’ gospel,” bellowing out songs about Jesus and Job in a style that can elicit Motown, soul, jazz and a sermon at the same time. This Saturday night, Reverend Vince and his music will fill Sunnyside Reformed Church, where the audience will be clapping their hands and grooving in their seats.

Details: Vince Anderson & Friends, Sunnyside Reformed Church, 48-03 Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, March 22nd, 7 pm, free, but donations accepted.

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02/19/14 1:00pm

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In 1964, more than 700 college students trekked to Mississippi to join other volunteers and community organizers to register African Americans to vote. Over a 10-week period known as “Freedom Summer,” these activists encountered stiff resistance from the Ku Klux Klan and even all-white local law enforcement agencies that included the murders of three civil rights workers, countless beatings, the burning of 35 churches and the bombing of 70 homes and community centers. However, their efforts aided the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which registered voters and sent 68 members to the 1964 Democratic National Convention to confront and unseat the all-white state delegation. On February 22nd, Stanley Nelson, a filmmaker and 2002 MacArthur Genius Fellow, will screen his documentary, Freedom Summer, at Sunnyside Reformed Church. He will also be in attendance for a Q&A related to this powerful movie, which won three Primetime Emmy Awards. Freedom Summer debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, but it will make its East Coast premiere in Sunnyside.

Details: Freedom Summer, Sunnyside Reformed Church, 48th Street and Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, February 22nd, 7 pm, free with suggested donation.

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01/28/14 1:00pm

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Argentina and Uruguay are bitter soccer rivals, but the two South American countries have worked well together in creating and perfecting the tango and milonga. These two sensual partner dances — featuring close embraces and syncopated rhythmic footwork — originated on both sides of the Rio de la Plata in the 1890s, before spreading around the world. On Friday, The Best Tango & Milonga kicks off an eight-week stay at Thalía Spanish Theatre. The show is under the direction of Montevideo native Raul Jaurena, a Latin Grammy winner who has played the bandoneón with orchestras from such diverse places as  Hollywood, Vienna and Israel. One featured singer is Marga Mitchell, a Venezuela native whose resume includes the 2009 ACE Award as Best Actress in a Musical. On February 14th, the Sunnyside theatre will host a special Valentine’s Day event with a performance and a post-show reception with the cast.

Details: The Best Tango and Milango, Thalía Spanish Theatre, 41-17 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside, January 31st to March 23rd with Friday and Saturday shows at 8 pm and Sunday performances at 4 pm. $35/$32 for students and senior citizens/$30 on Fridays.

Bonus details: Valentine’s Day Tango Lovers’ Night, February 14th, 8 pm, $50.

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12/16/13 1:00pm

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Beware: You will want to take voice lessons after this performance. O Sole Trio charms audiences with an eclectic mix of everything from Italian opera to jazz,  dazzling piano and violin solos and chuckle-inducing stage antics. Canadian baritone Giuseppe Spoletini (right) deftly blends Gospel, arias and other musical genres with his classically trained voice. Erin Shields (center), a soprano, has a vocal versatility that delights everywhere from jazz clubs to cabaret venues to opera companies. David Shenton (left) is a talented English pianist, violinist, composer and arranger whose jazzy album, Sunnyside Blues, is inspired by the Queens neighborhood where he has settled. This Thursday, they will perform at one of their favorite venues, arguably their home-away-from-home, Sunnyside Reformed Church.

Details: O Sole Trio, Sunnyside Reformed Church, 48-03 Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, December 19th, 7 pm, free with requested donation.

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12/13/13 1:00pm

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The Pirogue is a colorful and compelling drama about 30 Senegalese economic migrants who sail to Spain in small boat, facing a treacherous Atlantic Ocean and the possibility of never reaching their destination. Return to Gorée follows Youssou N’Dour as the Senegalese singer traces jazz’s trail from Africa to the U.S. His goal is to bring back to Africa a jazz repertoire of his own songs to perform a concert in Gorée, the island that symbolizes the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Both movies will screen in Jamaica’s Black Spectrum Theatre on Saturday as part of the African Diaspora Film Festival. Now in its 20th year, the festival features everything from world premieres to classic movies and Q&A to panel discussions. On Sunday, Sunnyside’s Thalia Spanish Theatre will screen six movies: Papa National Oyé, a political satire of African dictators; Kinshasa Mboka Té, a documentary about the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Tula the Revolt, which stars Danny Glover as the leader of a slave uprising on the Dutch-occupied Caribbean island of Curacao in 1795; Amnesty, which depicts a young Kenyan couple living the American dream until an ICE audit reveals a damaging secret; Mother of George, which is about a Nigerian couple in Brooklyn that can’t conceive a child; and Spies of Mississippi, which tells the story of a secret spy agency that seeks to preserve segregation and maintain white supremacy in 20th century Mississippi.

Details: December 14th, Return to Gorée, 2 pm, and The Pirogue, 4:30 pm, Black Spectrum Theatre, Baisley Boulevard at 177th Street, Roy Wilkins Park, Jamaica, prices vary.

Details: December 15th, Papa National Oyé and Kinshasa Mboka Té, 1:30 pm; Tula the Revolt, 3:30 pm; Amnesty and Mother of George, 5:30 pm; and Spies of Mississippi, 8 pm, Thalia Spanish Theatre, 41-17 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside, prices vary. (more…)

11/08/13 1:00pm

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The color! The rhythm! The songs! This homage deserves an homage! For five weeks, Thalia Spanish Theatre will present Heartbeat of Latino America (Al Ritmo del Corazon Latino). This brand new tribute celebrates the music and dance of 15 Spanish-speaking countries — Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Spain. Armando Moreno’s Mestizo Dance Company, which is known for festive skirts, sensuous gyrations and intense passion, will perform along with Harold Guitierrez and His Band.

Details: Heartbeat of Latino America, Thalia Spanish Theatre, 41-17 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside, November 15th through December 15th, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 4 pm. $35/$32 students & senior citizens. Fridays only: all tickets $30. Group rates available.

Photo by Michael Palma

09/24/13 1:00pm

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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.

09/09/13 1:00pm

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Founded in 1979, Andrea Del Conte Danza Espa is arguably the most popular flamenco troupe in the U.S. The usually 10-member ensemble is known for its deep repertoire of acts combining all aspects – song, music, dance, handclaps, passion, sensuality, romance – of this traditional Spanish genre. On September 13th, Danza España will kick off a three-week run of Flamenc@! at the
Thalía Spanish Theater in Sunnyside. The show is a tribute to women, featuring spectacular swirls of mantones (shawls), abánicos (fans) and batas de cola (ruffled dresses).

Details: Flamenc@!, Thalia Spanish Theatre, 41-17 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside, September 13th – 29th, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 4 pm, $35/$32 students and senior citizens/$30 on Friday/group rates available.

08/01/13 1:00pm

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Bix Beiderbecke was one of the greatest jazz musicians of the roaring 20s, inspiring such legends as Louis Armstrong and Hoagy Carmichael. His self-taught, unorthodox coronet style produced a distinctive, tone and timbre described as “bullets hitting a bell.” However, Bix was also a heavy drinker and — thanks in part to cheap, illegally made Prohibition-era booze — he died at age 28 in his apartment at 43-30 46th Street in Sunnyside (see plaque below after the jump). This Saturday, Bix’s melodious and often improvisational music will come alive during the Bix Beiderbecke Sunnyside Memorial Concert. This all-afternoon event will include performances by the Sunnyside Drum Corps and the Big Apple Lindy Hoppers as well as a 1920s costume contest and even clips from the Queens World Film Festival. A pickup band that gets together every year for the event, The Sunnyside Wolverines (above), will lead various musical attractions.

Details: Bix Beiderbecke Sunnyside Memorial Concert, Sunnyside Arch, 46th Street and Queens Boulevard, August 3, 12:30 PM to 7 PM, free. (more…)