Click the heading above to view pop culture events this month in Queens. Click the following links to go directly into one of these Queens Neighborhoods: Astoria, Flushing, Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Long Island City and Sunnyside.
Taste of Woodside: Grammy Nominated Mariachi Music & A First Class Repast
Latin Grammy Nominated Mariachi Band Serenades Local Woodside Restaurant Feast
On Thursday I made my way to cover the Taste of Woodside at Gulshan Terrace at 59-15 37th Avenue in Woodside. It was a dry, pleasant November evening as I arrived along with a host of other attendees.
Inside the Gulshan Terrace event hall there was a bar off to the left and the ticket table off to the right. Straight ahead was a large open space that was populated with tables and chairs and an elevated stage. And off to both the left and right were the serving tables of the restaurateurs. I felt like I had arrived at the wedding reception of a young couple … but I had not.
Instead I was greeted by a young-at-heart couple of Woodside on the Move Board Members. Jim Daley wasted no time in making me feel quite welcome and Joanne Smith made me feel right at home … like I was one of the family. Before they had become too dispersed, I was able to gather the full Woodside on the Move Board for a photo, which is included at the end of the report next to the thanks and appreciation section.
This was the fourth annual Taste of Woodside, and tonight I would have the opportunity to sample the food of fifteen restaurants from Woodside. But alas, I was not able to sample all of them in the allotted time.
What follows here is a brief sampling of the foods I was able to sample at the Taste of Woodside. I have included a few photos of the fifteen Woodside restaurants at the Taste of Woodside and a video of the music performed by an all female Mariachi band.
Flicks N' Jazz in Sunnyside Gardens Park
Flicks N’ Jazz In The Garden Attracts Crowd of Nearly 800
I attended the fifth annual Flicks N' Jazz in the Garden in Sunnyside Gardens Park. In prior years I had written several stories about the film portion of the program, so this year I decided to focus on the new addition to the event moniker … jazz.
Sunnyside is home to quite a number of jazz musicians, and the neighborhood periodically gets to enjoy listening to these talented performers for free or only a few dollars. The Bix Biederbecke concert in August is one such occasion, and the Flicks N’ Jazz in the Garden is another.
In the first year of Flicks in the Garden , Sunnyside Gardens Park had set up the screen in an area near the park entrance. Phil Valenti and the Broken Hearted Blues Band was the first band to play for the Flicks event. They were, in a sense, the warm up band or the preamble for the Flicks in the Garden event. Their bluesy tunes were a big hit with the crowd. Phil Valenti runs Go Natural Health Foods and Juice Bar on Queens Blvd between 45th and 46th Streets.
Click here to read more about Flicks N' Jazz in the Garden & see video of Wake Up! including members of the Street Beat Brass Band.
Astoria Music Now
Astoria Arts & Music Hosts 7th Annual Astoria Musical Festival
On Saturday, August 29th I headed over to Astoria Park to attend the 7th Annual Astoria Music Now music festival. It was a near perfect day with the temperatures in the 80's, plenty of sun and not too much humidity.
There were three stages on the Great Lawn - one at the top of the hill, a second one near the foot of one of the towers of Hell Gate Bridge and the third along the East River along the western perimter of the Great Lawn. In this manner one could choose from three performances, and once chosen, listen out of earshot of the other two stages.
Before I settled in to listen to the music I decided to take a walk along the waterfront there were a number of art galleries / exhibits in tents lining the waterfront.
Click here to read the rest of the story, view photos and a video of Astoria Music Now.
Jamaica JAMS Festival
Queens, The Home Of Jazz, Hits Another High Note
Two weekends ago I headed down to Jamaica town, to partake in the Jamaica JAMS festival of music, which begins the eve before the big festival day. It was a near perfect summer evening as I ascended from the underground tunnels of the MTA's E train, and up onto the bustling streets of Jamaica, Queens.
I headed west along Jamaica Avenue before turning north at 153rd Street which runs along the eastern side of Rufus King Park. There were plenty of people out and about. I saw parents watching their kids at the playground as they all enjoyed the lazy midsummer evening, there were energetic teenage boys playing spirited half-court games of basketball, and an entire field filled with soccer moms, dads and kids passing, rollling and kicking the ball around. But in the northwest corner of the park, something else was a happenin'.
I crossed the field and came up behind the Jamaica JAMS [Jamaica Arts & Music Summer] audience that had gathered on the lawn and on the chairs facing the JAMS festival stage. Emcee and saxophonist Craig Crawford was conversing with the winner of a dance contest that had just ended [see photo above].
Click here to read more about the Jamaica JAMS musical festival in Rufus King Park, including a short, less-than-two-minute music video with saxaphonist Craig Crawford, followed by vocalist Toni-Ann-Semple.
Sunnyside Summer Jazz Festival Keeps Evolving
Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Concert Attracts Some of Queens Top Jazz Talent
It was a warm, dry, August afternoon as I made my way to the newly christened Luke Adams Way just off Queens Blvd at 46th Street. I was looking to take in a bit of summertime jazz at the 14th annual Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival.
I had met Paul Maringelli - a graphic artist by day and musician at night - many years ago, when I first heard of the concert. He had been living in Sunnyside for quite some time before he one day stumbled upon the fact that Bix had once lived within a stone’s throw of his own home.
For those who know Paul, he’s the inquisitive type, and has a penchant not just for music, but also for history, so he did a bit of digging to learn more about Bix Beiderbecke and about the time Bix spent living in Sunnyside. That's Paul playing the drums behind Saxaphonist Carol Sudhalter and Bassist Dave Hofstra in the photo above.
Paul started talking to musicians about doing something in honor of Bix and about 14 years ago, they held a memorial on the anniversary of Bix’s death outside the apartment building where Bix had once lived - and as fate would have it - also died.
There were a few musicians in the audience at the time and they played a short tribute to Bix. That was the beginning of what has now grown to become the annual Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Concert / Festival. Following that first commemoration, Paul contacted local organizations in search of sponsorship for the event and the Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District stepped in to help fund it.
On this warm August afternoon, I was looking forward to listening to some of the finest jazz musicians in Queens and New York City. Paul Maringelli had sent me an email giving me a heads up. Here’s an excerpt where he describes his fellow band members.
“I'm playing with some top-of-the-line musicians (look 'em up online). It amazes me that musicians with these credentials are playing with me [Editor's Note: Paul is a very modest man]. Jordan Sanke: Trumpet (he's on a Ringo Album), Carol Sudhalter: Sax, (Astoria Big-Band leader – and her late brother, Richard, wrote Bix's bio), Herb Gardner: Trombone (played with guys who played with Bix, like Gene Krupa). Also, for the first time this year, Tom Abbott: Clarinet and John Halsey: Piano; and making a return appearance (he was here 3 years ago) Dave Hofstra: Stand-up Bass (he's on the hit record by The Waitresses "Christmas Wrapping"). All are jazz players … and … Bix fans.”
Click here to read the rest of the story including a 3 minute Bix Beiderbecke Sunnyside Jazz Festival music video of an old jazz tune. In the photo above, a longtime Bix fan wearing one of the T-shirts that were part of one of the early concerts.
SummerStage Queensbridge Park w/ G. Clinton
I just received a few photos I had requested to post from some of the folks I met at SummerStage. I had attended the event Saturday evening, as I wasn't able to make it on Wednesday when George Clinton made an appearance as part of SummerStage at Queensbridge Park last Wednesday.
George Clinton is generally a big attraction whereever he plays in NYC, and it was no different here in Queens as you can see by the photo at right shot by Eliana Rowe.
Clinton & his band performed to the audience's delight on a hot summer night.
SummerStage in Queensbridge Park
Refreshing, Rhythmic & Moving The Audience
On Saturday evening, after a bit of rain during the day, I made my way through the hot and humid streets of Queens, down to the East River waterfront in Queensbridge Park.
At 7 pm there was to be a performance by a Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet, a professional dance company; and at 8 pm a dance performance by the Rashida Bumbray Dance Diaspora Collective.
I arrived in between the two sets, and enjoyed the setting of the sun, along with the other hundred plus members of the audience. As the sun set and the air began to cool, three of the Rashida Bumbray dancers took to the stage, dancing to a slow, bluesy Jimi Hendrix tune [see photo at right]. The crowd loved it. The tune was Red House which was recorded in December 1966 and was one of the earliest 'Experience' pieces created by Hendrix before he died three short years later in 1970.
What followed was a series of performances by the Rashida Bumbray Dance Diaspora Collective. The Rashida Collective hails from Oberlin College in Ohio, lead by Adenika Sharpley. They choreograph dance movements to the music of the African diaspora from around the globe. Cultural references are embedded into the dance pieces, and set to the musical rhythms created by African descendants.
"The bluesy notes from Jimi's guitar, slowly began vibrating through the electro-magnetic fields of our corporeal bodies.
As the acoustical resonance started journeying through the neurological pathways lying dormant within our humanoid forms.
And the musical rhythms began seeping in, initiating movement,
... relaxing ... engaging ... swaying ... dance ...
giving us the feeling of being one unified, individuated, planetary people."
Aahh yeh, today's pop culture is the grown seedling of the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960's and 1970's. The performances at Woodstock some 45 years ago, which frightened the Nixonian establishment, are now the classical blues and rock music of today. And so much has changed ... with some for the better and some not.
It looks like we're heading into the hot part of the summer, in the city, when life must slow down ... so
... relax and pamper yourself ... and let the rhythms ... of the seasons ... of life ... in.
SummerStage organizes cultural events like this to help bring us together. We'll post more next year when they return to Queens. In the meantime there are a number of other, locally-organized cultural events that are also of good interest. Click into the Things To Do section along the top tool bar, or click into the music, film and theater sections on this site to find out more about free and paid cultural performances in Queens.
Free Things To Do In Queens - Free Summer Movies
Free Movies & Foreign Films In Queens Parks - Astoria, LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Jackson Heights, Corona, Flushing, Jamaica
Click here to view a listing of the dates and times of free things to do in Queens - free foreign films & summer movies in Queens parks.
The Jamaica Collections
Showcase the Fashion & Style of Downtown Jamaica
June 8, 2015 / Jamaica NY / Queens Fashion & Style / Queens Buzz. I headed to central Queens last weekend to attend the fourth annual Jamaica Collections fashion show. It was a near perfect evening, as the day had been sunny and warm with little humidity. As I arrived I saw people conversing on the steps and lawn of the Jamaica Performing Art Center, all dressed rather fashionably. As I stepped inside the foyer there was a comfortable crowd mingling, enjoying the wine and food being served by SWB Catering, and Lotta Empanadas.
Jamaica Center, the Business Improvement District [BID] organization, is the founding organizer of the Jamaica Collections Fashion Show. They have used the event to showcase local and area fashion designers and food venues, with an eye to promoting the Jamaica downtown, located in the heart of Queens, as an emerging fashion district. Not long after I had sampled the food and hors d'oevres and mingling a bit, the show began.
The Jamaica Performing Arts Center has been home to the Jamaica Collections Fashion Show since its inception. Each time the show is configured a bit differently, which not only showcases the fashions adorning the models, but the venue space as well. Tonight the models would come out onto the stage and make their way down through the spaciously configured aisles on the main floor before disappearing behind the curtain.
Hip-hop, Queens-born, entertainer Ed Lover was the host of the show this evening.
Art imitates life ... and ...
television brings back 1960's style & culture
Mad Men Exhibit At The Museum Of The Moving Image In Astoria
Mad Men is the creation of writer Matthew Weiner who previously worked as a contributor on the HBO series, The Sopranos. Weiner enlisted Lionsgate Television to collaborate with him in producing the show, which was aired on cable channel AMC TV beginning in 2007.
The first pilot episode was filmed at SilverCup Studios in Queens, with subsequent episodes being produced in Los Angeles. The last show of the series aired on April 5, 2015.
Hence the Mad Men exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria was perfectly timed, and it will be on display until June of this year. In the photo at right is Don Draper, the proverbial star of the show, in his New York City advertising office on AMC TV's Mad Men.
Miss Universe Paulina Vega Visits Queens
Joins NYS Senator Peralta In Women's History Month Celebration
I attended a Women's History Month Celebration hosted by NYS Senator Peralta to honor several Queens neighborhood women for their contributions to the community. The Senator had arranged to have Miss Universe 2014 come to help emcee the event, which as it turns out, was hosted in front of a full house at La Boom, a night club on the second floor of 56-16 Northern Blvd.
It was a cold near Spring evening as I arrived. After passing through security, I made my way to the stage of the dance hall where the photo op was to take place. After a short wait, Miss Universe Paulina Vega came out on stage accompanied by NYS Senator Jose Peralta.
There were a few questions asked, but it was mostly the flashing photographic event which preceded the awards ceremony. One of the folks who would partake in the photographic event was Jessenia Vargas, who was the first Miss Queens, preceding the launch of the first Miss America Miss Queens pageant, which was held last fall.
Senator Peralta would honor five Queens women for their contributions to the community. The honorees from left to right in the photo at right included: Sarinya Srisakul, New York’s only Asian-American female firefighter; Priscilla Carrow, a recognized community activist; Carmencita Gutierrez, Director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs for the Queens District Attorney’s office; NYS Senator Jose Peralta, Miss Universe Paulina Vega, Nora Espitia and Rosana Becerra, HIV/AIDS health prevention promoters.
Carmencita gave us some statistics about immigrants in Queens as seen through the eyes of the Queens District Attorney's office. She noted that 27% of the borough's residents speak Spanish and that 47% of the borough's residents were born in another country.
Sarinya Srisakul also provided us with a few statistics as they pertain to NYC fire fighters noting that 85% are Caucasian males, 6% are Latinos and 4% are African American. She went on to note that there are less than 100 Asians in the NYC fire department, and only 44 women. The NYC Fire Department, she informed us, employs over 10,000 people.
Miss Universe has adopted HIV / AIDs as one of the causes for which she will help create awareness as Hispanics are three times more likely and African Americans eight times more likely to contract AIDs than Caucasians in this country. Miss Universe Paulina Vega will be residing in Manhattan this year as she travels the world during her reign. She is the second Colombian to win the Miss Universe title. Miss Vega turned 22 in January 2015.
Click this link to view a photo album of the event, or click on one of the photos above to view a slide show of the Women's History Month Celebration hosted by Miss Universe Paulina Vega and NYS Senator Peralta at the La Boom night club on Northern Blvd in Woodside.
Museum of the Moving Image Hosts Indie Cade
Indie Cade East Celebrates Third Year At MoMI
Indie Cade East came to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria last weekend. I believe it was the third or fourth year that the event was held at the Museum of the Moving Image in NYC. Indie Cade is an interactive expo about all things pertaining to video and gaming, and it attracts a decidedly youthful crowd.
In the photo at right a young man tries on a pair of video goggles to 'get in the game'.
We'll have more about Indie Cade at a later date.
QNS Collective: We Will Still Be Here
Local Artist Photographs Dutch Kills Real Estate Development For Posterity
January 19, 2015 / Dutch Kills LIC / Art Exhibits in Queens / Queens Buzz. It’s not often one gets to see a bit of history in the making. But last Saturday evening I made my way to the QNS Collective in Astoria / LIC to see a bit of it.
The event was the opening reception of We Will Be Here, a photographic exhibit by Salvador Espinoza about the changes taking place in the Dutch Kills neighborhood of Long Island City. The exhibit included 13 framed photos hanging on the walls of the second floor of the QNS Collective, a modern new office space in Astoria / LIC. Another twelve will be rotated into the exhibit during the course of its showing which runs through February 6th.
Dutch Kills Neighborhood Changing Fast
The photos are a recent look at the changes taking place in the Dutch Kills neighborhood. The photos were shot in black and white over the past year, and provide a personal glimpse of the development of the Dutch Kills neighborhood by someone who grew up in it and has spent the better part of his life living there. The photo above shows Salvador standing in front of one of his photos where his brother held up a photo of a vista one would previously encounter while standing at the Queensboro Plaza subway station, which is now hidden behind a number of shiny new highrises.
Salvador told me that he moved out of the neighborhood for a few years [to Sunnyside] and he frequently returned to visit family and friends. He started noticing significant changes to the neighborhood occurring between each visit. He thought that someone should start recording the changes, because the neighborhood he grew up in, would soon vanish into the past. After giving the idea some thought, he concluded that perhaps he was the one to do it. So he reached out to the Queens Council on the Arts and they provided him with a small grant to pursue the project.
Salvador Espinoza Photographer, Director & Collaborator
Many years ago Salvador had been an amateur photographer, and when he took up this project, he began anew. Over the course of the past year he started taking photos of the neighborhood including some of the everyday houses that likely will soon be demolished and replaced by apartment buildings, as the value of Dutch Kills real estate has skyrocketed in recent years.
Some of his photos include his neighborhood friends. I met Chris of EQ Lyrics, who is included in one of the photos of the exhibit. Chris had just completed a music video and tonight - as part of the exhibit opening - we were to witness the first public showing of Chris’s music video. Salvador directed it and Chris plays the leading male role.
The lights dimmed, the crowd gathered around in a sort of amphitheater configuration, and the video began. The video is shot entirely in the LIC / Dutch Kills / Astoria neighborhood. The video is called A Beautiful Day which Chris told me was about, "getting drunk and banging chicks in the city" [a photo still from the video is to your right]. We've embedded the video at the end of this story.
Click here to read the rest of our story about the photo exhibit We Will Still Be Here, about the changing face of Dutch Kills real estate, at the QNS Collective through February 6.
First Miss America Beauty Pageant Competition In Queens
Miss America Hosts Their First Miss Queens Pageant
It was only a month ago that I called the Miss America organization to inquire whether Jessenia Vargas had won the Miss Queens title in one of the Miss America sponsored pageants. The answer was no, she had won it in a competition that was not connected to the Miss America Organization [see story below]. But within weeks the Miss America Organization made the announcement that they were going to host their first Miss America Miss Queens pageant in the borough on October 12th, 2014 at the Resobox gallery in Long Island City. I received an invitation and decided to attend.
I arrived a bit late after the competition was already underway. There were six contestants vying for the Miss Queens title. The Miss Queens pageant was open to women who live, work or attend school in the borough of Queens or Long Island.
A wide number of prior Miss America pageant winners were in attendance at the show, including Miss Queen's Teen, Miss Empire State, Miss New York Jr. Teen and Miss New York 2014, Jillian Tapper. And it was a full house in the Resobox gallery in Long Island City, Queens [see photo above].
I missed the swimsuit and talent segments of the contest, but I photographed the contestants as they competed in the evening gown competition before the judges made their final decision. The winner would receive a $500 Miss America scholarship and be eligible to compete in the Miss America Miss New York pageant. And if successful there, the Miss Queens contestant would be eligible to compete again in the Miss America pageant.
The Miss America Miss Queens runner up in the competition, Catherine Manett, won the Miss America Miss Queens title after an issue arose regarding the eligibility requirements of the woman first awarded the title. Catherine Manett of Patchogue on Long Island will compete for the Miss New York title in June of 2015. Catherine is shown in the photo at right holding a bouquet of flowers.
Currently the Miss America Organization has a Miss Manhattan, Miss Staten Island, Miss Brooklyn and effective this year  a Miss Queens competition. I believe the Miss Bronx competition is run in a competition that is separate from the Miss America brand of competitions. The Miss America Miss New York competition will be held on June 6th on Staten Island and the Miss America competition will be held in Atlantic City. The Miss America pageant began in the 1920's in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The Miss America Miss Queens competition is also expected to continue in October of 2015. If you're interested in competing you can learn more about it on their website at missny.org.
Viva La Comida
Jackson Heights Celebrates Queens Food & Culture
September 22, 2014 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Jackson Heights Restaurants / Queens Buzz. Saturday afternoon I headed over to Dunningham Triangle at 82nd Street & Baxter in Jackson Heights. The third annual Viva La Comida Festival had begun earlier in the day and I decided to check it out.
They had blocked off 82nd Street between Roosevelt Avenue and Baxter and had converted the short one block adjacent to Dunningham Triangle into a performance area - complete with elevated stage.
Along 82nd Street there was a musical / dance performance going on with a distinctly Latin flavor, reflecting the indigenous roots of many of Jackson Heights and neighboring Corona residents. My first stop was the D'Angelo food truck for a spicy Italian handmade sausage with sauteed peppers and onions on a fresh semolina bread. It tasted even better than it sounds. We'll have more about D'Angelo's later in the story, including a couple more photos of the sandwich I devoured.
I headed over to the main stage to see what was going on. By late afternoon the Jay Rodriguez Trio had taken the stage and began playing some really good Latin flavored jazz tunes. They played their instruments like jazz magicians, deftly transitioning the melodious rhythm from one musician to another in a string of rhythmic solos that had the audience jamming to the beat.
I started photographing them doing their thing and came up with a separate photo slide show which will show them gettin' down. I visited the Jay Rodriguez website and the music on the site, is a bit more artsy and esoteric than what they played for us at Viva La Comida.
Special thanks goes to outgoing 82nd Street Partnership Executive Director Seth Taylor, as well as iwantmorefood curator Jeff Orlick. We'll have more about both of them and their past and future endeavors in the full report later this day / week.
Fashion Week In Queens
Miss Queens, Giorgio’s Hair Salon & Carina Boutique Showcase Queens Style
September 15, 2014 / Whitestone Neighborhood / Queens Fashion / Queens Buzz. In early September, as New York Fashion Week was walking down the runway, I spent a fun evening at Giorgio’s hair salon in Whitestone. The Whitestone neighborhood is easily accessible by car via the Whitestone and Cross Island expressways and by public transit via buses.
Jessenia Vargas, Miss Queens, headlined the Whitestone Queens fashion show. Jessenia is a Queens native who is scheduled be featured on a Women’s Entertainment [WE] TV show called America’s It Girl. The show is a 12 episode series that features enterprising young women competing to become the first America’s It Girl.
Click to view a photo slide show of the Whitestone Fashion Show and to learn more about Miss Queens Jessenia Vargas, WE TV’s show America’s It Girl, and the fashion show at Giorgio’s hair salon featuring Carina Boutique dresses & Trattoria Neo's Italian food in Whitestone Queens.
Wynton Marsalis @ Queensbridge Park
July 20, 2014 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Live Music in Queens / Queens Buzz. It was a perfect summer day with the highs in the 80's, fairly dry and sunny as I made my way to attend the SummerStage Family Day in Queensbridge Park.
When I arrived a crowd of many hundreds had already found comfortable seating, lawn space and standing room in the park. Michael Mossman and Copland Jazz of Queens College were on stage playing jazz tunes to an appreciative and relaxed crowd.
I listened to them play as I took photos of them and the crowd. Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra were due to perform at 5 pm. The crowd was totally mixed, with young and old alike, and a mixture of people with a diversity of genetic backgrounds, representing the borough and the world.
There was a short break between the two gigs and I watched the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra warm up in the VIP section just off the stage. They started with a tune and dedication to Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong, both local NYC musicians of a bygone era.
We'll post more, including a photo slide show a bit later. The photo above shows one of the jazz musicians at SummerStage in Queensbridge Park.
Summer Stage In Queens This Week
July 14, 2014 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Music In Queens / Things To Do Queens / Queens Buzz. There are so many things to do in Queens this summer that it's challenging to keep up with them. But this week, almost all week, Summer Stage comes to Queens at QueensBridge Park in Long Island City.
Last weekend there was a free Summer Stage concerts in Manhattan given by Cibo Matto. They performed to a near capacity crowd in Central Park likely because of the location, their popularity and fairly good weather [see photo at right].
This week, beginning Tuesday, July 15 Ismael Miranda, Rebel Tumbao & Joe Clausell will be on stage at QueensBridge Park beginning at 7 pm. On Wednesday, J Holiday & Jon B perform beginning at 7 pm.
On Thursday, Mobb Deep & Lyricist Lounge will begin performance at 7 pm. Friday Harambee Dance Company will be there beginning at 7 pm. And on Sunday beginning at 4 pm it's Queens Family Day with Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College. All are free and the public is welcome to attend.
Jamaica Collection Silences Critics
Event Showcases Top Fashion Designers & Models
Hundreds of years ago Jamaica was one of the transportation hubs for receiving agrarian products from Long Island in exchange for other goods from around the nation and around the world. While Jamaica continues to be transportation hub, with connections to Penn Station, JFK and an entire web of NYC Metro buses and subways, it is also emerging as one of the great cultural hubs of Queens.
So on Saturday night, I made my way down to Jamaica town. And what I found, looking around, was a paradise of beautiful women, rugged and handsome men, with evocative knits and sculpted shapes reflecting a diversity of style spanning the modern metro universe - from the hip hop of the street to the garb of the classical women and men of Manhattan's Midtown. Step aside Fashion Week, there's a new show in town.
We'll post more later today or this week including photo slide show. The photo above was taken at the Jamaica Collection Fashion Show on June 7th 2014.
Caught In The Act - The 13 Most Wanted
Queens Museum Opens Incredible Art Exhibit Grounded In History
I visited the Queens Museum [they dropped 'of Art' from the name] this past weekend to view their new exhibit - The 13 Most Wanted Men.
The exhibit is a tie into the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 World's Fair and the preservation of the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
Andy Warhol was one of several celebrity artists of the day, invited to create an artwork to post on the wall of the Theaterama [now Queens Theatre In The Park] which was one of the structures of the New York State Pavilion. It was a real honor as the work would be seen by tens and likely hundreds of thousands who would pass by it during the 1964 World's Fair.
Warhol decided to post the mug shots of the 13 Most Wanted Men in America. One can never know exactly what he was thinking, but it was an artwork designed to get people's attention, shock them and get them to think, perhaps a bit differently, about some of the things going on at the time.
The powers-that-be decided having 13 large mug shots of thirteen criminals in the midst of a fun family fair wasn't a good idea. So they whitewashed it off the building [sound familiar? - see our story about the Whitewash art exhibit in LIC]. This is the quick and dirty report of what happened, which the Queens Museum in a collaboration with the Warhol Museum of Pittsburgh, did an incredible job of presenting in an exhibit which is both art and history.
In the photo above is Curator, Larissa Harris, and Director of External Affairs, David Strauss. David is also one of the troika managing the Queens Museum while they search for a replacement for former Executive Director, Tom Finkelpearl. Tom was recently appointed New York City Cultural Affairs Commissioner.
We'll post our full report at a later date.
African American History Revisited
African American Film Makers Explore Their Predecessors' Experience With Fresh Lens
Film Event In Sunnyside
February 17, 2014 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Film in Queens / Queens Buzz. On Saturday evening, February 22nd, the East Coast premiere of Freedom Summer is being hosted at the Sunnyside Reformed Church. Emmy Award winning filmmaker, Stanley Nelson, will be on hand to discuss the making of the new film which premiered at the Sundance 2014 Film Festival in January.
I spoke with Stanley via telephone about the documentary, which covers the summer of 1964 when Mississippi was burning. White Mississipians expected African Americans to bow their heads in deference and to step aside on sidewalks as white folks passed. Mississippi had a whole host of laws and customs set in place which denied African Americans their full rights as American citizens, and as fellow human beings. And anyone - white or black - who tried to question the norms; felt the wrath of the white supremisists who embraced the culture.
About seven hundred students from around the nation [Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee] went down to Mississippi to help African Americans exercise their rights. Three of them - Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Early Chaney - went missing. After intense media / television coverage and national outrage, the FBI began a manhunt. The victims' bodies turned up 44 days later. All three had been shot at close range. The photo above is a still from the film Freedom Summer.
The documentary incorporates historical photos and media coverage and a little heard recorded telephone conversation between LBJ and J. Edgar Hoover. This report also includes background on film maker Stanley Nelson who runs a film making company / incubator in Harlem as he will be present to discuss film making at the event. Click here to read the rest of our report about Freedom Summer - premiere of an independent film in Queens or click here to rsvp a ticket to the free East Coast film premiere in Queens.
Flicks In Sunnyside Gardens Park
More Fun Than A Barrel Of Monkeys
September 30, 2013 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Film in Queens / Queens Buzz. Saturday night, in the neighborhood of about one hundred kids and about four hundred people in total, descended on Sunnyside Gardens Park for a soiree of food, fun and flicks in the garden.
The event was hosted by Sunnyside Gardens Park and open to the general public. There was make-up, crafts, dance, food and flicks. The event was emcee'd by Ty Sullivan, the local tall, slim and very red mad hatter. Ty seemed to have a knack for getting the kids worked up over great cartoons like Betty Boop and Jack Frost. Like last years presentation of Flicks in the Garden 2012, Tommy Stathes provided the cartoon films.
I arrived a bit after dark and had missed some of the fun, but quickly found a general willingness to share it post facto. Click here to read more about Flicks in the Garden in Sunnyside Gardens Park in 2013, including photo slide show.
Jamaica: Queens Emerging Fashion District
Jamaica Collection Showcases Fashion & Culture in Queens
June 1, 2013 / Jamaica NY Neighborhood / Fashion in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the Jamaica Collection Fashion Show Saturday evening at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens. It was a beautiful summer evening as I approached the center, and people were standing outside, enjoying the calm cooling end of daylight.
This is the second year that the Jamaica Center BID organized this event - designed to highlight the bustling business district of downtown Jamaica - the backbone of which runs from east to west along Jamaica Avenue.
Jamaica is one of the more fascinating neighborhoods of Queens, rich in history as an agricultural and trading center dating back to colonial times; and rich in the modern multi-culturalism of 21st century Queens as well as being a significant metropolitan transportation hub. The Jamaica Center BID seems intent on nurturing the embedded community assets by showcasing them; and while they did a very nice job of it last year, this year they kicked things up another notch.
Click here to read the rest of our report on the Jamaica Collection Fashion Show in Queens.
Queens World Film Festival
Queens Film Festival Begins
March 9, 2013 / Astoria, LIC & Jackson Heights / Film in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the 3rd annual Queens World Film Festival opening Tuesday night at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. As I arrived, independent film producers, directors, writers, actors and actresses mingled in the lobby.
A local TV film crew was interviewing one of the festival participants as I started mingling with the crowd. I met one man who has film showing Friday, another with a film showing Thursday, and a Belgian couple who co-produced a thirty second short that was to be shown at the opener tonight [they’re shown conversing with City Councilmembers Dromm and Van Bramer].
It wasn’t long before the festivities began, which included several speeches by sponsors [some are listed at the end of this report] and the Queens World Film Festival founders, Don and Katha Cato of Jackson Heights.
Free Things To Do In Queens - Free Summer Movies
Free Movies & Foreign Films In Queens Parks - Astoria, LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, Jackson Heights, Corona, Flushing, Jamaica
Click here to view a listing of the dates and times of free things to do in Queens - free foreign films & summer movies in Queens parks.
Free Concerts / Things To Do In Queens
Musical Performances & Free Concerts in Queens Parks
Queens NY / July 21, 2015. This report is part of a series of reports about some of the free things to do in Queens this summer. This report includes a schedule of the mostly free music and free summer concerts in the parks in Queens.
Click here to view our listing of free summer concerts - free things to do in Queens Parks.
IndieCade Comes To The East Coast
Video Games & Gamers Descend Upon MOMI
February 19, 2013 / Astoria Neighborhood / Film & Video Games in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the first annual IndieCade show at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria last Saturday evening. The show was an interesting blend of techno geek and techno cool, and most of the attendees were in their 20's and 30's. What struck me is that while the audience skewed a bit toward males, was far more balanced than I had expected. It seems the video gaming world isn't the predominantly male domain it once was.
I participated in a couple of the events, and spoke to some of the exhibitors and gamers about the show. Later this week we'll post a report, complete with photos, about the IndieCade show at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
Rise of the Guardians
Animation Exhibit & Video at the Museum of the Moving Image
November 10, 2012 / Fashion Film & Music in Queens / Astoria / Queens Buzz. The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria just opened a new film exhibit about the soon-to-be released Dreamworks film, Rise of the Guardians. I’ll tell you more about the exhibit, after I tell you about the film itself, which opens nationally, Wednesday, November 21st in movie theaters around Queens and the nation.
In my mind, the movie is already a classic. The pop artwork is superb, the 3 D effects are the best I’ve seen [possibly in part thanks to MOMI facilities] and most importantly, the story is a well told tale - complete with Jungian archetypes and without any real violence. To a weather worn NYC public, this movie will be a welcome escape into a kinder, gentler, animated 3D world.
Click here to read more about the Rise of the Guardians 3D animated film exhibit in Astoria Queens.
Persona Performa - Ming Wong At MOMI
Museum of the Moving Image Steps Out In Astoria
January 21, 2012 / Astoria / Film in Queens / Queens Buzz. People were lined up outside of the Museum of the Moving Image [MOMI] on both Thursday and Friday nights. They were waiting to see Ming Wong’s performance art production entitled Persona Performa. The production title tidily summed up its essence – an art performance based on an Ingmar Bergman film entitled Persona, which was being performed for Performa 11, the fourth biennial visual arts festival in NYC.
Artistic director, Ming Wong, developed the piece during his residency at MOMI in 2011. He told us that the inspiration for the production came from the minimalist architecture of the museum and an Ingmar Bergman film, Persona, which is generally believed to be one of the ten best works of cinematic art.
Click here to read our report of Ming Wong Persona Performa at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
Rock Concert Dampened By Weather
… but the music played on …
August 21, 2011 / Astoria / Live Music / Queens Buzz. The Astoria Music Now venue had to be changed early Sunday morning due to weather forecast predicting severe thundershowers similar to what we saw a week ago. To make matters worse, it didn’t rain Sunday until after 4 pm, and even then it was only a quick light shower … but for those who followed the Astoria Music Now musicians into the Astoria performance venues around the neighborhood ... the music played on.
Given that the venues were dispersed around Astoria, we saw far fewer performances than in prior years, so we’ll link back to prior reports to give you a flavor of the concert musicians because there were a number of returning bands this year.
We started at the Quays where we saw two new comers to the festival: The Sorely Missed and Jon Christopher who performed with two new accompanists - Jason playing bass guitar and Ben Nathan percussionist [see photo above]. Click here to read more about the Astoria Music Now - rock concert in Queens.
Musical Saw Festival 2011 In Astoria
What’s The Buzz – Tell Me What’s A Happening
July 16, 2011 / Astoria Neighborhood / Live Music / Queens Buzz. I attended the 9th annual Musical Saw Festival this year. It was held at the Hellenic Cultural Center just off Crescent Street in Astoria. And while I had read about the festival for the past two years, and seen videos of it on the internet last year, I can now assure you that it’s not nearly as good as being there.
I arrived midway through the four-hour festival and many of the headlining talent had finished playing. But as a novice whose sole interest was to experience the festival, exactly who was playing didn't matter as much as it might to an aficionado. I had come to see, hear and talk to people who play music on their saws.
Click here to read more about and see photos of the Musical Saw Festival in Astoria Queens NYC.
Fashion, Film & Music In Astoria
Museum Of The Moving Image - Film Museum in Queens
Astoria Now Rock Concert - Astoria Park
Queens Fashion Week - 2010
Flushing Town Hall
Home Of Jazz & Asian Culture
This is a report on the Flushing Town Hall located in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens NY. The Flushing Town Hall is run by the Flushing Council On The Arts.
Queens Theatre In The Park
Bacon Brothers & Band / Renovations
Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael performed at Queens Theatre In The Park in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens NY. The Bacon Brothers just released a new CD called 'White Knuckles'.
Click here to read our report about the Bacon Brothers Band at Queens Theatre in the Park & renovations.
Fashion, Film & Music In Flushing & Corona
Queens - The Home of Jazz
Louis Armstrong House Block Party & Jazz Mobile
August 20, 2012 / Corona Neighborhood / Live Music in Queens / Queens Buzz. The Louis Armstrong House hosted a block party last week, including one of the current jazz greats, Arturo O'Farrill. Arturo's work has been nominated for several Grammy Awards and he won the Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album in 2009 with the work entitled Song For Chico.
The album is dedicated to Arturo's father, Chico, who worked with many of the NYC jazz legends including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman, as well as Latin jazz great Machito. Both Dizzy Gillespie and Benny Goodman lived in Queens, and are said to have jammed with Louis at the Armstrong House in Corona. Arturo is shown above playing at the Louis Armstrong House Block Party in the Corona neighborhood of Queens.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Robin Bell-Stevens, whose father played with Duke Ellington who was a friend of Louis'. Robin runs the Jazzmobile which was the sponsor of the event. Click here to view our report and photos of the Louis Armstrong House Block Party & Jazzmobile in Queens.
Queens World Film Festival
Queens World Film Festival 2013
February 12, 2013 updated from February 29, 2012 / Jackson Heights / Film in Queens / Queens Buzz. The 2013 Queens World Film Festival runs March 5th through March 10th 2013. Check the March events calendar in the Things To Do section of this site [see top tool bar] - for films, viewing times and location - as the event approaches.
I visited the home of Don and Katha Cato this past weekend. Don and Katha are the duo that are organizing the second annual Queens World Film Festival, which opens Thursday night, March 1st at the Museum of the Moving Image – and then returns to its home in Jackson Heights for the remainder of the weekend.
I spent hours talking to Don mostly about the films, and talking to Katha about film as well as various aspects of planning and organizing the film festival [they are shown in the photo to the right]. The following report includes a general overview of the Queens World Film Festival logistics, as well as many previews of the films that will be shown. The festival includes about twenty films by Queens based film makers. And who knows, perhaps one day one of them will be receiving their Oscar from the Academy in Hollywood.
Click here to read our report about the Queens World Film Festival 2012.
What's Playing At 78th Playstreet?
Closed Street Quickly Becomes Intrinsic Part Of Park
August 5, 2011 / Jackson Heights Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. I went to check out Friday Night At The Movies, which spontaneously began the last week in July on 78th Playstreet next to Travers Park in Jackson Heights. Don and Katha Cato, organizers of the Queens World Film Festival, came up with the idea. And they implemented it with the help of a few friends, notably Elliott and Elena Madison of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance.
The weekly Friday Night At The Movies on 78th Playstreet will continue Friday, August 12th beginning at dusk [between 8 and 9 pm] at 78th Playstreet, which is adjacent to Travers Park and provides additional recreational space for families and kids living nearby in Jackson Heights.
Recycling Indie Films – New Green Initiative
The films being aired are from the first Queens World Film Festival. The films shown the night I attended included 38 minutes of shorts, and … Click here to read more about Friday Night At The Movies At 78th Playstreet.
Queens World Film Festival
New Film Festival Debuts In Jackson Heights
March 2, 2011 / Jackson Heights / Queens Buzz. This report includes all the info about the first Queens World Film Festival in Jackson Heights, including a link to their website.
Click here to read more about the Queens World Film Festival in Jackson Heights.
Fashion, Film & Music In Jackson Heights & Elmhurst
Fashionable Clothing in Queens
Come To Fashion Show Features Local Designers & Models
April 30, 2012 / Jamaica NY / Fashion in Jamaica Queens / Queens Buzz. On April 21st the first annual Come To Fashion show stepped out into the fashion world in the Jamaica section of Queens. The fashion show featured local fashion designers, models and retailers doing business in Jamaica Queens.
When I arrived at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, I was pleasantly surprised by unique set design for the show. Jamaica Center, the Jamaica BID, had hired a designer to create an original venue through which to present the models and the designers' clothing.
Click here to view photos and read our report about the Come To Fashion show - fashionable clothing & fashions in Jamaica Queens.
Good Music, Food, Variety & A Good Time
August 6, 2011 / Jamaica Neighborhood / Live Music / Queens Buzz. The folks in Jamaica sure know how to throw a party. I enjoyed Jamaica JAMS this year far more than last year, because the weather was much more comfortable and the streets weren’t quite so crowded. This year I went in the late afternoon of the second day of the two-day event.
Jamaica JAMS is a big Street Musical Festival and Shopping Fair. There were somewhere between a half dozen and dozen musical acts performing Saturday afternoon / evening and hundreds of vendors.
Click here to view a slide show and read more about the Jamaica JAMS Street Music Festival in Jamaica.
Queens Fashion Kicks Up Its Heels
September 20, 2010 / Queens Buzz. I had the opportunity to cover Queens Fashion Week's second runway show. The event was held at NY Designs which is located on the campus of LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City. This was a nice change from their first venue, as NY Designs is in the business and has facilities to accommodate a runway show.
There were six designers and some forty models, which was comparable to the first Queens Fashion Week show last winter. The diversity of the models and a wide range of designs, ranging from T-shirts to 1940's Hollywood, provided a flavorful spice to the evening.
Click here to view the rest of the story including numerous photos of Queens Fashion Week Spring 2011.
Irie Jamboree Reggae Rocks
Jamaica / September 7, 2009. The seventh annual Irie Jamboree rocked Queens this past Sunday. There were some twenty of the top reggae musicians from all over the country and Caribbean who came to play at this increasingly popular concert. Thousands of Queens residents flocked to the concert to enjoy a great day of warm sun, great music and delicious food. The concert was held on the York College Campus in the Jamaica section of Queens ['Jamaica' does seem like a fitting place for a reggae concert]. Spice is shown on the big screen at the Jam. Click here to view a full report and Irie Jamboree 2009 photos. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
Fashion, Film & Music In Jamaica
The Astoria LIC Film Festival
Film Festival Showcases Local Film & Musical Talent
October 16, 2011 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Fashion, Film & Music / Queens Buzz. I attended some of the weekend long second annual Astoria LIC Film Festival. The Astoria LIC Film Festival presented 54 new films, including documentaries, comedies, shorts and super shorts; and thirteen music videos. Dennis Cieri and Bonnie Rush are the founders and driving forces behind the event.
The opening and closing parties were held at the Z Hotel, which is one of the new hotels in Long Island City offering both a subterranean bar downstairs from the lobby, and a rooftop bar with a panoramic view of the city.
The films were shown several blocks away, at the Secret Theatre and the E-garage, which are in the same complex; as well as at the Variety Boys & Girls Club of LIC. I attended the music videos segment of the festival, which was curated and hosted by an LIC musician, Gus Rodriguez, Sunday night at the E-garage.
Click here to read the rest of our report on the second annual Astoria LIC Film Festival, including a review of many of the music videos, and excerpts from interviews with founder, Dennis Cieri and some of the festival producers, directors and actors.
New York Irish Center In LIC
Brings A Bit Of The Old Country To The New One
January 15, 2011 / Long Island City LIC / Queens Buzz. I went to hear Ashley Davis and Cormac De Barra perform at the NY Irish Center in Long Island City. It was my first visit to the center in a while, and the first time I’d attended a cultural event there.
Harpist Cormac De Barra hails from Ireland, while singer, songwriter and guitarist Ashley Davis hails from Kansas. I became fascinated with the Irish harp, as this was my first experience listening to a harpist outside of a major classical concert hall. The Irish harp has long been a symbol associated with Ireland, along with pixies, fairies and Irish tales. The photo to your left shows Cormac playing the Irish harp.
Click here to read more about the Ashley Davis & Cormac De Barra performance at the NY Irish Center in Long Island City, Queens. The report also includes information about the Irish harp, the NY Irish Center and its programs, and a slide show of Cormac playing the Irish harp along with story photos.
1st Annual Astoria LIC Film Festival
October 24, 2010 / Long Island City / Queens Buzz. I attended the Astoria LIC Film Festival this weekend at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City. About sixty films were shown, including feature length, shorts, and including eleven music videos, most of which were produced by local musicians and directors.
They opened the festival Friday evening with a reception [BTW - you can always find these events posted before they happen in the Queens Events section of this site - updated weekly]. And on Saturday they hosted many popular films during the day, two of which garnered their highest audience attendance.
Later today you'll be able to click here to read our full report on the 1st Annual Astoria LIC Film Festival including a number of photos of the event.
Fashion, Film & Music In Long Island City LIC
Sunnyside Shorts / Flicks In The Park
September 10, 2011 / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. It was a comfortable Saturday evening as I headed into Sunnyside Gardens Park. Upon arrival I met Sherri Gamilin, one of the four producers of the event. A small crowd had already gathered and a local blues band was setting up. In the photo to your right are members of the audience who came to watch Sunnyside Shorts and Flicks In The Garden in Sunnyside Gardens Park.
Sherri talked about the changes made to the festival this year. They added live music, the Broken Hearted Blues Band, and joined forces with the organizers of the first annual ‘Flicks In The Garden’. Click here to read our full report, including synopses of the films shown and photos of the Sunnyside Shorts and Flicks In The Garden Film Festival.
American Meat - Unfinished Film
Documentary About Current State Of Food & Farming
Film Making in Queens / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Food & Wine / Queens Buzz. I managed to obtain an invitation to a screening of American Meat, which is an unfinished documentary film, at Cafe Marlene in Sunnyside. The screening was sponsored by Queens Harvest Co-op, which is an organization working to build an organic food cooperative in Queens.
The film is a rather eye opening look into how the economics of food / meat production in this country have taken us down an unsustainable path. A path which not only has significant health implications, but possibly even more dire consequences. The film provides an intelligent, behind-the-scenes look at how economics have been driving: 1) food production methods, 2) the composition of what's in the meat being sold at the grocery store, and 3) what we're feeding our children and ourselves.
The film was envisioned and began production in the spring of 2007 and the producers are hoping to finish it in 2011. Click here to view our preview of the unfinished documentary film entitled American Meat independent film at Cafe Marlene in Sunnyside and hosted by Queens Harvest Co-op.
What Happened At The Sunnyside Shorts Film Festival?
Sunnyside Shorts Film Festival 2010
September 25, 2010 / Sunnyside / Queens Buzz. The Sunnyside Shorts Film Festival ended last weekend. After the festival there was animated chatter about the films which included a blend of comedy, drama, animation and documentaries.
So I set about to interview members of the audience to see which film they liked best. And to my surprise everyone seemed to favor a different film - including me. The photo to your right is a clip from 'Some Jobs Are Simple'. Click here to read our report and view photos of the Sunnyside Shorts Film Festival 2010.
Fashion, Film & Music In Sunnyside & Woodside
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