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.
Colombia is such a fascinating country! The magical Andes mountains lie near the majestic beaches of the Caribbean coast and the extremely fertile interior plains. The people are diverse, too, a hodgepodge of descendants of indigenous groups, European settlers, and African slaves. This South American country’s vibrant and varied music is about to explode on stage at the Thalía Spanish Theatre in Sunnyside for an entire month. Wearing colorful costumes and infectious smiles, Harold Guitierrez & His Band and the Mestizo Dance Company will groove to such rhythms as cumbia and mapalé, which began as courtship dances among African slaves in the region that now includes Panama, to bambuco and joropo, which resemble European waltzes. Then of course, there’s the fact that audience members will dance in their seats.
The term “pumpkin smashing” often conjures up images of vandals roaming residential streets, taking gourds from front lawns, and breaking them on driveways and sidewalks. Usually the result is nothing more than a seedy, squishy mess. However in Sunnyside this Saturday, individuals will be able to perform similar acts of aggression and destruction in a productive, dignified manner, thanks to the NYC Compost Project. Bring unwanted pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns to Torsney Playground, and the city will use the wrecked results to rebuild soil in parks around the five boroughs.
Details: Pumpkin Smash 2014, Sunnyside Greenmarket, Tornsey Playground, vicinity of 43rd Street and Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, November 1st, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm, free and refreshments will be served while supplies last.
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.)
Without a doubt, Louis Armstrong is the most famous jazz musician who ever lived in Queens. However, Satchmo often cited a much lesser-known borough resident, Bix Beiderbecke, as one of his biggest inspirations. Known affectionately as “Bix,” this self-taught coronet player had his own, distinctive sound described as “bullets hitting a bell.” He had his heyday during the Roaring Twenties Jazz Era before dying at age 28 in his apartment at 43-30 46th Street in Sunnyside, thanks largely to Prohibition-era alcohol. This Saturday with some help from Sunnyside Shines, Bix’s music and the Roaring Twenties will come to life at the 14th annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert.
Check out the full schedule and event details after the jump. (more…)
The Deal: Murphy’s Lobster Grill opened last October, an extension of the owner’s next-door namesake bar. Murphy’s Bar has been a Skillman Avenue staple for the last 10 years.
“When the space next door became available I decided to expand and run a seafood restaurant. There’s none in this part of Queens, and I have experience from my other restaurant in Mineola, Long Island,” says owner Mike Murphy.
Brooklyn has hipsters. Queens has Hip-to-Hip. This theater company, which specializes in family-friendly productions, performs Shakespeare classics for free in various public spaces throughout the borough each summer. This year, Hip-to-Hip will put on the Bard of Avon’sTwo Gentlemen of Verona, an early slapstick comedy about love, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness…and a dog, and Cymbeline, a late romance/fairy tale about a king, his only daughter, an evil stepmother, and a forbidden love. The professional actors will perform in repertory, and 30 minutes before each performance, they will host “Kids & The Classics,” an interactive workshop for children of all ages.
Sunnyside shopping has a new bright spot. Last week, the Apollonia Gallery NY opened at 48-14 Skillman Avenue. The venue, where Comic Book Heaven was located for 26 years, sells handmade furnishings, paintings, prints, photos, records, antiques, and other home décor items with an emphasis on promoting local artisans. The owner, Garry O’Callaghan, also indicated that he plans to host salon-like gatherings for musicians, poetry readings and artist talks. A carpenter by trade, O’Callaghan will also display his own furniture, which he’ll make in a downstairs workshop. The store’s title honors Apollo, the Greek god of music and art, but Apollo was also the name of O’Callaghan’s beloved pet dog, which passed away a few years ago.
O’Callaghan’s statement: ”I wanted to create a mythological and magical place like the shop in the Gremlins that gives guests the feeling of being in a secret place where they can find one-of-a-kind treasures. This is also a wonderful way to meet interesting people and celebrate the vibrant local arts scene.” You can visit the gallery Tuesday through Friday, 3 pm to 8 pm, and weekends, 9 am to 8 pm.
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.
Imagine a large room full of potential Father’s Day gifts, and not one of them is a tie. This Sunday, about 35 local artists will fill the Queen of Angels parish hall in Sunnyside with everything from paintings to postcards to trinkets made from beads, buttons and felt. Organized by the nonprofit Sunnyside Artists, this seventh-annual, all-volunteer event draws about 1,000 patrons and can lead to artists showing their works at local establishments. This year, participants will include regulars, such as Mihai Stancescu, who specializes in frescoes and board paintings with egg tempera and gilding, and Ellen Mandelbaum, a stained glass expert. But there will be some new faces and pieces, such as work by Trevor Sparks and Emily O’Leary, employees at the new Queens Boulevard store Artists & Craftsman Supply. In addition, Murphy’s Lobster Grill, which won Best Entrée at Queens Taste 2014, will provide food.
Details: Queen of Angles Art Fair VII, Queen of Angels Parish Hall, 44th Street and Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside, noon to 5 pm, free.