Snow Storm Skirts NYC
January 29, 2015 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz. On Monday evening NYC's mass transit system was shut down. It was announced that NYC public schools would be closed. And everyone was advised to prepare for a snowstorm that might bring 24 to 36 inches of snow to the city.
On Tuesday morning, things looked quite a bit brighter. The city received far less than a foot of snow. In most places the inches of snowfall didn't even break the single digits. And so it was, a snow day without too much snow.
NYC has a long history of under reacting and over reacting to weather conditions. When government officials under react they generally lose some face. When they over react, the proverbial political storm blows over.
And so it was on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 that Queens enjoyed an unscheduled day off, with all the shopping done.
Choreo_Politics @ PS1 MoMA
Highly Intellectual Discussion About 21st Century Life, as Seen by Contemporary Activists & Early Modern Philosophers
January 25, 2015 / LIC Neighborhood / Art in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended the Choreo_Politics discussions on Sunday in the dome of the courtyard of PS1 MoMA in LIC. The event was hosted by Cristina Caprioli and included four panelists, including Peggy Phelan, Avital Ronell and Adham Hafez.
For the segment of the afternoon that I was in attendance, Peggy was the primary speaker. She appeared well read as she made numerous references to several of the late 19th and early 20th century German and French philosophers, including Nietzche, Kant and Bataille.
It was a deep philosophical discussion which included comments from the audience about finding meaning or trying to understand the life and times in which we now live. In one segment of the conversation Peggy talked about female gender roles and how being a woman affects one's persona. Some of the rhetoric included questions such as do women invite male aggression as a part of being a woman? Where is the boundary for a welcome advance versus an unwelcome push? Do women trip themselves up or are they suppressed by the male dominated environment? These aren't her exact words, but a facsimile of them, as I was distracted having just lost my notebook.
After a brief search for the lost notebook, I returned. Peggy was talking about communication. How gestures can undermine what we say. She said that we need to communicate because of our failure to communicate. She went on to talk about falling ... falling ill, falling in love and falling asleep. She was linguistically and philosophically aware, and seemed to have a sense of both the audience and her theatrical surroundings. I was sorry I hadn't arrived earlier.
I'll post a bit more including a photo slide show of this event later in the week.
QNS Collective: We Will Still Be Here
Local Artist Photographs Dutch Kills Real Estate Development For Posterity
January 19, 2015 / Astoria & 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 called A Beautiful Day and it’s shot entirely in the LIC / Dutch Kills / Astoria neighborhood. The video takes us into Chris's life of getting drunk and banging chicks in the city [video still 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.
Battle For Public School Budget Underway
Constitutional Right To Education & Public School Funding
January 12, 2015 / Jackson Heights / Queens Schools / Queens Buzz News & Analyis. I attended a Town Hall Meeting entitled State Of Our Schools at PS 69 in Jackson Heights on Thursday evening. The town hall included a number of panelists who spoke about some of the top concerns and issues facing NYC and Queens public schools in the current round of budget negotiations currently underway in the NYS state capitol of Albany.
Cathy Nolan, NYS Assembly Chair of the Committee on Education, and Daniel Dromm, Chair of the NYC Council Education Committe, were joined by speakers representing The Alliance for Quality Education, Make The Road NY, Jackson Heights People For Public Schools, Community Education Council 30 and the Parent Association of PS 69.
The intent of the town hall was to inform residents about the issues currently being debated in the NYS State Capitol as the Assembly and Senate work on budget bills to fund public education in the state of New York.
Some of the issues discussed included every citizen's constitutional right to a quality public education, which was interpreted by the Courts to mean providing every citizen with the skills to compete in the 21st century economy and the capacity to function as a contributing member of society.
Other issues included discussion of the current tax cap bill - which would cap property taxes at 2.5% - and thus limit the money available for public education. Currently about 30% of NYC residents are property owners. Over the past decade an increasing percentage of city property has been acquired by large corporations known as Real Estate Investment Trusts. It's worth noting that one of the NYC tabloids, the NY Daily News, is owned by the billionaire founder of an NYC Real Estate Investment Trust.
Property owners say they already pay too much in taxes. One homeowner opined that government and school officials need to manage the funding more efficiently, and develop innovative / technological methods to achieve their educational goals. Many of the older, original charter schools were opened to do just that by exploring different approaches to educating the public.
Another initiative underway is to cap charter schools expansion. As mentioned above, many of the original charter schools were founded to explore different approaches to providing a quality public school education. In recent years some of the newer charter schools, particularly the charter school groups [Ed Note: such as Success Academy Charter Schools], have been seen as limiting the promise of an equal opportunity in public school education.
Charter School groups have been accused of targeting areas where they can attract high performing students away from the publicly run schools and then demand equivalent public funding per child. Charter school groups allegedly claim their test scores are attributable to their educational efforts, not the higher quality of their student enrollment [this alleged claim is at odds with independent studies]. As of this date only a small percentage of the charter schools have been audited as one of them - Success Academy - filed and won a lawsuit that prevented the NYS Comptroller from auditing them based on a NYS Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin ruling in June 2013. Its worth noting that Success Academy Charter Schools also reportedly receives funding from Hedge Fund b/millionaires who may also have stakes in Real Estate Investment Trusts.
Public educators note that the schools that service the broader based demographic population have higher per student funding requirements in order to assist students with special needs. They go on to note that standardized testing doesn't account for progress made with a broad based diversified student population that includes students with special needs such as: children with disabilities, children from troubled homes, children with less aptitude or less motivation, and children who need to learn English [English Language Learners ELL] in addition to the general curriculum. Additional resources are required to fund different approaches / programs designed to reach, motivate and develop these children's intrinsic abilities [eg. band students perform higher in math] and enable them to become contributing members to their families, their employers and the community.
A tax break for private education is also being debated at the state level. The tax break for private education was portrayed by one of the speakers as another tax break for those who already have the means and have chosen to send their children to non-public schools. Just as the property tax cap is expected to limit public education funding, so too the private school tax break is expected to limit the total funding available to educate those who attend public schools.
Families who send their children to private schools argue that they are reducing the strain on public school resources. They note that they are not asking for a total reimbursement [meaning total payback of private tuition] but rather a deduction, which would reduce their tax bill by some percentage of their private school tuition payments. It's worth mentioning that according to the 2012 Census update, the NYC Public School system paid over $20,000 per student per year, which is a far higher cost per student than any other public school system in the nation. The Boston public school system was a close second and the Washington DC public school system came in third.
This is just a summary of some of the challenges and issues discussed at the Town Hall related to NYS public school education funding. We'll delve into these in a bit more detail at a later date.
A Closer Look into Role of the Daily News Coverage in Takeover of Queens Library
Please note that to date no public official have spoken about any development deals using Queens Library property.
Daily News Publication of Leaks with No Announcement of Real Wrongdoing - What Happened to Presumption of Innocence?
I’m going to work under the assumption that Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante is innocent of all charges until proven guilty. That is the way things are supposed to be done in America.
Many leaks of all kinds of confidential information about the Queens Library CEO have made their way into Real Estate Billionaire Mortimer Zuckerman's Daily News this year - including plenty of minutiae - but not a single word about any real wrongdoing.
Daily News Headlines Appear to Play Role in Queens Library Takeover - Urging Replacement of Governance Team
The Daily News appears to have done more than just report on the Queens Library crisis of confidence. In fact, the Daily News was the first to report the crisis - and they appear to have played a major role throughout it - as their organization urged the dismissal of Galante and the trustees who supported him on numerous occasions in the headlines alone. The following are some examples of headlines taken from stories in the NY Daily News:
The Daily News - Name Calling CEO Galante in its Editorial Coverage
Last week, the Daily News provided the public with more details of Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante’s expense reports over the past (few) year(s). Their presentation of the information appeared one-sided and cast Queens Library CEO in a negative light, as little effort seems to have been made to explain the business purpose or provide context for the expenditures.
The Daily News also published an editorial, which resorted to name-calling including calling Galante:
This was not the first time they called him names in their publication this year.
We'll explore recent coverage by the Daily News in a more detail further down in this report, as it is reflective of their coverage of this crisis of confidence in the Queens Library all year. A crisis which the Daily News in fact began, with a series of exclusive reports earlier in the year.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz Appears To Have Had Prior Relationship with Daily News Owner Mortimer Zuckerman's Boston Properties as a Lobbyist
According to a source, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz appears to have had prior relationship with Daily News Owner Mortimer Zuckerman's Boston Properties as a lobbyist working for Greenberg Traurig law firm in 2012.
A New York Observer story dated, April 10, 2012, states:
"... Still, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has expressed skepticism toward the project, which he would like to see reduced in size, and the community panned the rezoning outright."
"To help makes its case, NYU recently retained Ed Wallace and Melinda Katz, two land-use attorneys who have helped shape a number of important development projects as they wended their way through public review—not least because both of them also once spent time as members of the City Council, the body that will have the ultimate say on NYU’s rezoning."
And a bit later in the story.
"Mr. Wallace served as the councilman-at-large for Manhattan and chief of staff to the council president back in the old days of the Board of Estimate, after which he joined Mort Zuckerman’s Boston Properties before moving over to Greenberg Traurig, the law firm where he is now co-managing partner of the New York office. Ms. Katz joined the firm in 2010 as a partner in the real estate division after serving two terms in the council, one of which was spent as chair of the influential land-use committee, where she oversaw a number of redevelopments similar to NYU’s."
The NYC government maintains a website showing registered lobbyists' relationships with clients. We took this image from the NYC.gov website which shows that from March through December of 2012 - one year before she became Queens Borough President - Melinda Katz was a registered lobbyist working for the lawfirm of Greenberg Traurig, with a client relationship with Mortimer Zuckerman's Boston Properties.
Click here to read our report regarding the Queens Library controversy and the Daily News reporting of it.
'Damn I Look Good'
Art Exhibit At Topaz Arts In Woodside
November 17, 2014 / Woodside Neighborhood / Art In Queens / Queens Buzz. On Wednesday I attended a performance of the Theater of the Oppressed NYC at Topaz Arts in Woodside. The performance is one of a number of artistic and theatrical programs organized in conjunction with a year long effort entitled, Beyond Sacred: Unthinking Muslim Identity, by the LaGuardia College Performing Arts Center.
On exhibit at Topaz Arts was a related art exhibit entitled Beauty, created by Qinza Najm of Manhattan. Qinza's work included a couple of oil on canvas paintings and a video, a photo still of which, you can see in the photo to your right. The intent of the art project was to challenge people's perceptions about Islam and Islamic garb.
The 911 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center killed 2,977 people and irreversibly changed the lives of the countless more who loved them. It also created a negative perception of all Muslims in the public eye, and hence also changed the lives for many millions of Muslims living in America who had nothing at all to do with 911. It's estimated that between five and ten million Muslims live in the U.S. - of which a third are believed to be from Africa, another third from southern and eastern Asia, and the remaining third from the Middle East. Is it estimated that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, representing nearly a quarter of the world population.
Qinza's video has her wearing a black burqa in public places in New York City taking selfies [photos of herself as shown in the photo above]. The burqa has enscribed on it a Twitter hash tag followed by the art project name '#DamnILookGood'. The video includes Qinza's artistic statement that this is America and people of all cultures are free to wear what they want. In her video Qinza approaches people to try to get them to wear Islamic clothing for just a few minutes in public places in order to sensitize them to the current prejudicial feelings against them which is manifested through people's reaction to them while wearing traditional Islamic clothing. The burqa is the most conservative Muslim garb worn by Muslim women and is part of the ancient Islamic tradition of women completely covering their entire bodies when out in public.
We'll have more on this art exhibit and the Theater of the Oppressed at a later time.
Shakespearean 'Titan' In The Park
First Play By 'Theatre Company In Residence' At Queens Theatre In The Park
October 6, 2014 / Flushing Neighborhood / Queens Theater & Theatres / Queens Buzz. I made my way into Flusing Meadows Corona Park to preview Titan Theatre Company's production of the Shakespearean comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream. The play is an adapted version of the old bard's work.
In the adaptation Titan Theatre Company added a dash of 'gay-eity' to it and also edited down the play in both verbiage and performance time. The intent of the adaptation is to make performances of the 400 year old play more modern and appealing to present-day audiences.
I sat down in the little theatre of Queens Theatre In The Park shortly after the show had begun. Puck, the fairy, was administering the love potion - per his master Oberon's orders. But alas - Puck makes a mistake - and a string of comedic errors is set into motion.
In the photo at right is Bottom, one of the actors in the play-within-the-play, who's been transformed into an ass by a fairy Puck. Seated in the background is the devlish Puck who administered the magical serum.
We'll have more about Titan Theatre Company's performance at Queens Theatre In The Park, including a photo slide show, at a later date.
Valentine's Day Restaurants & Dinners In Queens
Queens Restaurants / January 2015. Valentine's Day is less than three weeks away. It's a time when lovers far and wide enjoin in the great romantic dinner at a nice romantic Queens restaurant, for a night out on the town. If the night is done amorously, it comes with a thoughtful card, a small box of candies and /or her favorite flowers; followed by a nice romantic dinner in Astoria, LIC, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, Woodside, Flushing or Jamaica.
The origins of Valentine's Day are not well documented. It's believed to have been named after Saint Valentine who was apparently a Catholic martyr who died over 1500 years ago. Today the holiday is not associated with religion so much as flowers, candies, cards and dinners. And the holiday spokesperson is now Cupid, a Roman god of desire, and from what we hear, quite a mischief maker.
Click this link to go to a brief guide of Queens restaurants for Valentine's Day where you will find links to fun or romantic Queens restaurants we've reviewed. It's worth noting that most of these reviews are positive because we've selected some of the best restaurants in their categories in Queens. It's also worth noting that most of these restaurants do not currently advertise on this site, so there wasn't any quid pro quo. Perhaps one day we will begin selling them onto the site, because we have a large discerning dining audience like you. Enjoy.
Astoria Shops / Astoria / Queens Buzz. The furniture stores located on the southern end of Steinway Street in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens seem to have something to offer to just about everyone. This part of Steinway is a furniture shopper's mecca, offering plenty of choices from classical colonial, to urban apartment living to bedding to suit nearly every spine.
I took a quick trip there, which is easily accessible via the N, W, G, R or V subway lines and within a sturdy walking distance from Long Island City, Astoria, Sunnyside and Woodside. Just up the street from Steinway is Broadway, where you'll find the Omonia Cafe where after a good morning or afternoon of shopping, you can kick back along one of the sidewalk tables ane enjoy a bit of coffee and some delicious baked goods. Click here to learn more about the furniture stores in Astoria Queens.
Click to buy eyeglasses in Queens / opticians in Queens, for hair salons in Astoria, for Midtown dentists & Midtown Chiropractors, sales on small business Saturday in Queens and for things to do in Queens. Eyeglasses in Jamaica NYC.
The shop is owned and managed by Frank and Kevin Adhami, and their father, who is in his eighties, still visits the store on an almost weekly basis.
Esquire is located along Steinway Street between 30th and 31st streets. The store contains a wide selection of men's coats, suits, casual wear, shoes and men's accessories like belts and ties.
This story will provide some information about the store itself as well as fashion recommendations for the Spring and for job hunters.
Click this link to view a story written on Men's Clothing In Astoria Queens NY. Click here for men's clothing stores in NYC, and here to buy Stone Rose shirts in NYC, and here to buy Alberto pants in NYC, and here to buy Eton shirts and here to buy Hugo Boss sneakers in NYC.
3rd Queens Farmers Market Opens Year Round
Astoria Sunnyside Woodside Jackson Heights Long Island City LIC Flushing Jamaica / December 20, 2014 / Queens Buzz. The Sunnyside Farmers market on Skillman Ave & 43rd Street was recently approved to operate year round. The Sunnyside Farmers market becomes the third farmers market to operate year round. Jackson Heights was the first & Forest Hills was the second farmers markets to begin operating year 'round.
Click the link below to see a listing of the Queens Farmers Markets 2014 including links to maps. Click the other link below for a listing of the Queens Street Fairs schedule of 2014 including dates and maps showing their locations.
Click here for our updated posting of Queens Street Fairs - Queens NY. Click here for a listing of the Queens Farmers Markets. You will always find both street fairs and farmers markets for the current month in the Queens Events section of the site [see top tool bar for button / link]. Click here to view the map of the Jamaica farmers market.
Queens Real Estate
Real Estate in Astoria, Jackson Heights, Long Island City LIC, Sunnyside, Woodside, Flushing, Jamaica
These reports include reviews of apartment rental prices, as well as condo, co-op and home prices and availability in the Queens market.
We have also done neighborhood specific reports about Astoria real estate, LIC / Long Island City real estate, Jackson Heights real estate, Woodside & Sunnyside real estate, Flushing Real Estate and Jamaica Real Estate.
While we found these neighborhoods mirrored / trailed many of the national trends, we found some interesting differences, including differences from neighborhood to neighborhood.
Click here to read the Queens Real Estate market analysis 2009.