Posts Tagged ‘queens’

Queens as seen in Hollywood and on the season finale of Entourage

McDowell's from "Coming to America"

Queens is where I grew up. It is the school of hard knocks if you grew up in the 90s—not because it was rough—but as a hip hop fashion statement in the form of a t-shirt.

My favorite pizza place was Gino’s on Grand Avenue right next to Queens Boulevard. It was actually the same intersection where McDowell’s is shown to be in the movie Coming to America.

In last night’s episode of Entourage which I consider to be one of the best season finale’s of a show ever, we saw some of the neighborhoods in Queens showcased in recent films.

The part where Vince and the guys live was a combination of Forest Hills a la Spider-Man and Kew Gardens as seen in Boiler Room.

The place where Johnny Drama opens up his new bar is exactly like a scene in Glengarry Glen Ross and also in the lesser known and sometimes forgotten George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez starring Out of Sight. And the scene in which they have a picnic looked very much like a scene from Goodfellas…though the latter took place in Brooklyn—Queens’ worst enemy.

But it was interesting to see how Queens always has certain elements of simplicity associated with it. Queens is never the place you see opulence go down or anything crazy happen. But Queens is also so picturesque and unique that an editor friend of mine tells me that when he was cutting a short film I directed at a major (not to be named) studio in Hollywood as a favor, someone walked by and immediately recognized her hometown of Queens on the television screen.

Though simple, Queens rules. That’s sort of the point.

Vote for the Best and Worst of Queens 2008

John Roleke, Queens blogger, needs your help. For all you Queens-ites, vote on the best and worst in several categories — including politics, development, neighborhoods, restaurants, sports, potholes
and other ones he wants you to come up with!
This is your chance to express your opinion!

Is LaGuardia one of the worst of Queens?  photo by JeremyGoldstein/Wikimedia Commons

Is LaGuardia one of the worst of Queens? photo by JeremyGoldstein/Wikimedia Commons

Hanna, we hardly knew ye

Post Tropical Storm Hanna outside my house

Post Tropical Storm Hanna outside my house

Hanna stirred up quite a storm last night, but as of this morning sunshine and a pre-fall cool has set in around NYC. I couldn’t imagine yesterday morning that last night would have been so torrential. While the rain was falling hard and falling for a long time, it was pretty tame.

There must be some folks in Long Island without electricity for sure, but other than that, not much damage was caused by the storm. When there are no injuries, it’s been a good storm.

Two of my friends were out in Flushing yesterday at the U.S. Open and they said matches only stopped as the storm progressed, but some of the main matches still went on. It’s like nothing really happened this morning. The storm pretty much did what it was supposed to and it seemed that with the free HBO weekend and long lines at Blockbuster yesterday morning, everyone was well prepared for a nice time indoors. The rain did look beautiful though when I went outside for a bit. It was soft and heavy, just a perfect combination. And since the darkness was overpowering what little lights I turned on outside my house gave a really wonderful aura to the entire scene.

And now we begin a Sunday that will lead us into a [hopefully] brisk Fall season filled with pumpkin juice, butterbeers and dances underneath the whomping willow. Holy Harry Potter reference Batman! I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. End. post. now. K/Luv you/Buh bye!

Off the Beaten Track: Astoria/LIC –AMMI Newly-Expanding and Open

The American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria has re-opened, despite being in the process of a major expansion, which will make it bigger and better than ever.
It’s a bargain at $10 per adult [discounts for children, students and seniors]. It’s free on Friday from 4pm to 8pm.

AMMI is not an all-day affair; you can get through it in less than two hours. But definitely check out the schedule of film screenings. And, despite the Greek exodus to suburbia, you can still find some good Greek food, as well as awesome Middle-Eastern, Latino, and Italian bakeries and eateries. Check out this video tour by a local opera singer, as he eats his way through doughy, yeasty treats.

The American Museum of the Moving Image

The American Museum of the Moving Image

It’s Enough to Make a Queens Girl Go Yankee

I come from a long line [well, two generations long] of Mets fans. And it isn’t because I live in Queens either. I was raised in Brooklyn, and then Long Island. My dad was born in Brooklyn. Even his dad was born in Brooklyn. My dad is still sitting shiva for the Dodgers moving to LA! Therefore, in my family, you wouldn’t be caught dead rooting for the Yankees!

But yesterday, I was ready to burn my orange and blue and wear pinstripes. Okay, I’m not running a benefit for Willie Randolph! You can’t even equate his firing to layoffs at United or Starbuck’s or even Bear Stearns. Besides Willie’s money, I’m sure he’ll get snatched up as fast as the Dodgers nabbed Joe Torre.

And I’m not questioning whether he needed to go. Maybe Willie’s time was up. But do you have to fly the guy to California, let him qvell over his winning team, and then fire him at midnight after he reaches his hotel room? Beyond tacky. I never thought anyone could make the Steinbrenners look like nice guys, but this did just that!

Shame on you, Mets Management!! photo credit:Kjetil Ree/Wikimedia Commons

Shame at Shea

"Tour de Queens" Rides Through Borough This Sunday

Inspired by the previous “Tour de Brooklyn” and “Tour de Bronx”, about 500 cyclists will ride their bikes through parts of Queens this Sunday, June 8. Run by the group Transportation Alternatives, the Tour de Queens is expected to become an annual event. The 20-mile ride will start and end at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows Park, and will pass through East Elmhurst, Astoria, Queensbridge, Long Island City, Maspeth, Middle Village, Rego Park, and Forest Hills.

Online Registration has ended, but there is there is some space for on-site registration [starting at 8am] on the day of the Tour. They also need volunteers. The Tour de Queens is not a race, but a leisurely ride, so families with children are encouraged to attend.

photo from wikimedia commons/Uri Baruchin

NYC Chinese Communities Sending Relief to Quake Area

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Sichuan province in China, the Chinese-American communities in NYC are opening up hearts and wallets to help victims. An estimated 20,000 are believed to be dead or buried, with the toll expected to go up as rescuers go into the more remote areas. Many of the survivors are sleeping out in the street, either because their homes are gone, or they can’t trust that any structures still left standing are structurally sound enough to not collapse on them. Food is in short supply, and practically depleted.

The New York Consolidated Benevolent Association, based in Chinatown, has raised thousands as a result of a letter-writing campaign to over 60 member organizations. According to the MSNBC website, they hope to raise $100,000. And City Councilman John Liu, who represents the Asian area of Queens [including Flushing, Elmhurst, and Bayside], urges New Yorkers to donate to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which is also sending relief to victims of the recent cyclone in Myanmar.

Off The Beaten Track In… Rego Park, Queens

Rego Park, Queens
quick facts:
location: Central Queens bordered by Elmhurst and Forest Hills
subway stop: 63rd Drive, Rego Park [V and G lines]
Brief history: Basically farmland until the 1920s, when the REal GOod Construction Company purchased the land and built 575 eight-room homes; apartment buildings followed. Until 1962, there was a Long Island Railroad station in Rego Park.

I decided to start this series closest to home, where I live. When I say “I live in Rego Park”, I get one of two responses:
1) Where’s that? or 2) Oh, isn’t that where the mall is?…….Actually the Queens Center Mall is in Elmhurst, just over the LIE. Rego Park is becoming a shopping mall of sorts, with a little mall on the Boulevard [Sears, Marshalls, Circuit City, Bed Bath and Beyond, Old Navy], and another one to come in 2009 [Home Depot, Kohl’s, Century 21].

Bukhara-on-the-Boulevard? Rego-stan? Uzbekistan flagForest Hills’ poorer cousin? Shopping mecca? If you judge Rego Park by its hub — the corner of 63rd Drive and Queens Blvd., you’re missing something. Venture down 63rd Drive toward 99th Street, up to 108th Street, and further down to 67th Avenue, and notice a scene which looks like it could have come out of Anatevka or “Borat”. Stores have signs in Cyrillic Russian lettering, and in winter, many heads are covered with big fur hats, and in all weather, “babushkas”. Rego Park is the center of immigrants from what is now Uzbekistan, a former Soviet Republic, and specifically from the areas of Bukhara,Samarkand, and Tashkent. These are not the Russians of Brighton Beach. These are people of Central Asia. If you walk on the north side of Queens Boulevard up 63rd Drive past Citibank, CVS, and Dress Barn, you enter another world. Walk down the long block toward 98th Street. and stop in the delis with the signs in Russian — one is mid-block, and the other on the corner. You will see an amazing array of smoked fish, cheeses, pickles, fresh yogurts, sweets, breads, and pastry. Continue on just past 99th Street and stop into Tandoori Bukharian Bakery. Eat a samsa – the Central Asian version of the Indian samosa. If you walk to 108th Street, otherwise known as “Bukharian Broadway”, you run into even more of these Central Asian delicacy shops. The fresh yogurt is amazing, and the sweets are like nothing you have tasted before.

But Rego Park is also getting an influx of young American families, and young professionals who are sick of paying rents $3,000 a month for an apartment the size of a walk-in closet, or who are sick of paying rent at all, and want to own a co-op for less than $500,000. There is now a Starbucks at the corner of 67th and Queens Boulevard, and a new vegan place with Soho-like decor and soft couches across the boulevard [Tierra Sana]. But the old standbys are still popular — London Lennies [seafood] on Woodhaven Blvd, Ben’s Best serving up kosher deli for over 50 years, and Knish Nosh [knishes and other Jewish dishes. Other places that don’t disappoint are Avellinos [Italian] near the 64th Street entrance to the subway, Tung Shing Palace, [Chinese] one block east from Avellinos, and the Shalimar Diner on 63rd Rd. across from the library.

Tierra Sana– Wheatgrass and Fresh Juice Come to Rego Park

Woo hoo! There’s something new in Rego Park, and it’s not an Uzbeki club, Russian-language video/cellphone/drugstore/optician combo! Not that I have anything against our newest immigrants, but not since Starbucks opened here, have I seen any business catering to the ever-growing number of young and middle-aged professionals who are moving to Central Queens to own co-ops, priced out of Manhattan and sick of paying rent.

Tierra Sana is a vegan, funkily-furnished eatery with a juice and smoothie bar that looks as if it could be in the Flatiron. It’s only weakness during my visit, was spotty service, which they are going to have to iron out if they want to reman afloat. It’s a huge space, and rents along that part of Queens Blvd. are sky-high, so they have to serve up a lot of panini, smoothies, wraps, and veggie juice.

But I am committed to trying to become a regular customer, to lend my support. The felafel panini I had on my visit was just the nutritious lunch I needed. And I would just as soon let Tierra Sana juice me up a carrot-apple mix if it means avoiding cleaning out my own juicer. And the friendliness of the staff made up for a little disorganization; you could tell that they care to please.

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