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.
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.
Steinway Mansion Under Contract To Private Buyer
Historic Mansion Was Built By Early NYC Technologist & Later Bought By Renaissance Man
Last Chance For Queens Officials To Act On Their Speeches About Historic Preservation, Nurturing Culture & Tourism
March 12, 2014 / Astoria Neighborhood / Real Estate In Queens / News & Opinion. Queens Buzz. Well, the saga is almost over. NYC and Queens government officials are about to let slip into private hands, the greatest historical relic of the 1800's in Queens. And what could have been - and could still be - one of the greatest historic sites / historic tourist attractions of Queens. The Steinway Mansion is under contract to be purchased by a private buyer.
It's not that Queens and NYC government officials haven't had a chance to save it. The historic mansion, which was landmarked for its historic signficance decades ago [landmarking prevents changes to outside of the structure], came on the market in August of 2010. The asking prices has been between $2 and $4 million, which given that far smaller homes with no significance are already selling for over $1 million in the Astoria neighborhood, it seemed like a reasonable asking price.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the Steinway Mansion Under Contract. The story includes photos and links to other stories we've done over the years about the Steinway Mansion and it's inhabitants and their endeavors. The story also includes the business case for taking the Steinway Mansion public and transforming it into a museum / cultural destination for all of Queens, NYC & the world.
The Legend Of Hell Gate Horror
Hell Gate Horror Myth May Have Real Origins
October 19, 2014 / Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Culture / Queens Buzz. It’s not often one stumbles upon a legend and then finds himself riddled in its mysteries. But so it was last Saturday evening, while biking through Astoria Park that I encountered an older gentleman who called to me asking for help. It was near dusk as the sun began setting behind the skyline and the shadows grew longer.
He was sitting on a park bench overlooking the Hell Gate Bridge and dressed in clothing of years gone by. He had not shaved in several days and his hair was a bit disheveled. I sized him up as I approached and determined that he was probably ok.
“Hi. What’s up?” I asked.
“I need help.” He replied. I looked at him inquisitively as he didn’t appear to be in any immediate predicament, near as I could tell.
“What can I do for you?” I asked.
“I see by your bag that you work for a [web] magazine. Are you a reporter?” I nodded affirmatively. He pulled some photos from his coat and handed them to me.
I started thumbing through them, seeing what seemed to be photos of ghosts flying through the Astoria neighborhood. The photos weren’t that clear and mostly in black and white. I didn’t really know what to make of them.
The man looked at me intently, as if to measure my interest. “I’m trying to get back in.” He said. I looked at him stupefied. “What?” He repeated, “I’m trying to get back in.”
“I heard you the first time, but I don’t understand what you mean.” I replied.
He went onto explain. “The Hell Gate Bridge began construction over one hundred years ago. The construction went on between 1912 and 1918. I was one of the construction workers and every year right around Halloween we’d throw a party in this neighborhood, near a cemetery.”
“Nobody believed it at the time, but there were rumors that the cemetery was haunted and that those who walked through it around Halloween time, risked losing their body to one of the ghostly spirits. It seemed like pure nonsense, even at the time, one hundred years ago, as new scientific breakthroughs were being made all the time. Trains, autos, light bulbs and bridges like Hell Gate were examples of the huge changes we were seeing. Nobody really believed it, and certainly not me … but I was wrong.”
Click here to read the rest of the story about the Legend Of Hell Gate Horror.
Affordable Care / Obamacare Comes To Queens
Queens Prepares For The Affordable Healthcare Act
November 13, 2013. Update - Over 197,000 New Yorkers Have Completed Applications of which over 48,000 have already selected and enrolled in a plan. Over 142,000 people were helped by the New York State of Health which runs the health plan marketplace for New York State. Note that open enrollment for the tax year 2014 ends on March 31, 2014.
November 7, 2013 / Astoria Neighborhood / Healthcare in Queens / Queens Buzz. I just returned from the United Civic Community Association [UCCA] sponsored forum on Obamacare at the Museum of the Moving Image. The forum did a nice job of providing what appeared to be a good summary look into what the federal government’s Affordable Healthcare Act [also known as Obamacare] is really all about.
The forum was moderated by Rose Marie Poveromo, President of the United Community Civic Association of Astoria and included a panel of experts. The panel included U.S. Congressman Joseph Crowley, Rebecca Jackson, a NY State of Health Project Coordinator, Caryn Schwab Executive Director of Mount Sinai Queens, Judy Trilivas Chief Operating Officer of Mount Sinai Queens and Minna Elias Congresswoman Maloney’s Chief of Staff. They are shown seated from left to right in the photo above, at the UCCA hosted Obamacare Forum at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.
Click here to read more about Affordable Care / Obamacare comes to Queens.
NYS Health Insurance Exchange Navigators
The following is a list of the NYS Health Insurance Navigators as of November 12, 2013. You can also find these on the NYS Health Insurance website.
Click here to review a summary report outlining the many aspects of the Affordable Healthcare Act / Obamacare in Queens.
And click here for a list of NYS Health Insurance Exchange Navigators.
32,000 Bikers Pass Thru Queens: 5 Boro Bike Tour
May 5, 2013 / Long Island City & Astoria / Biking Queens / Queens Buzz. This Sunday some 32,000 bicyclists rode through Astoria and LIC on their way to completing a 40 mile bike ride through all five boroughs of NYC. Photographer Abdel Berrera caught up with them at the Astoria Park rest station where many took a moment to catch their breath.
Many of the cyclists come from other countries and other states. The bikers see this as a nice way to see all of New York City, not just Manhattan.
There are two 5 Boro Bike Tour rest stops: the first in Astoria Park and the second at the Con Ed rest station along the East River. Many took some time out to make adjustments to their bikes, gear and selves; and consumed a bit of food before resuming the relaxing trip and heading on to Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Click here to read a brief report and to see a photo slide show of the 5 Boro Bike Ride in Queens shot by Astoria photographer Abdel Berraha.
Analyzing & Creating Political Advertising
Museum of the Moving Image & The NYC / Queens YMCA
November 1, 2012 / Astoria / Film in Queens / Queens Buzz. I visited the Museum of the Moving Image Friday evening to observe a political advertising educational program, being offered to the YMCA’s Teens Take The City group.
Although New York has the second highest state population in the nation and is home to the second highest number of Electoral College votes; the state has not been the recipient [or shall I say victim] of a barrage of political advertising – as are not the inhabitants and voters of one of the 2012 swing states.
But, Christopher Wisniewski, the Museum of the Moving Image Deputy Director of Education, reminded me that in 2013 we will likely be inundated with a whole barrage of political ads, as the coming municipal elections include the selection of a new mayor and city council members.
In the photo above you can see one group of teens discussing the infamous ‘Daisy’ commercial broadcast by Lyndon Johnson during the 1964 presidential election. Click here to read more about the Museum of the Moving Image political advertising film workshops in Astoria Queens.
Columbus Parade Photos - Astoria
October 8, 2012 / Astoria / Ethnic Culture in Queens / Astoria / Queens Buzz. I attended the Columbus Day Parade in Astoria this weekend to watch the pageantry celebrating our Italian American heritage. The parade began congregating at 11 am in front of Kaufman Astoria Studios off 34th Avenue. The parade began at 12 noon, marching north along Steinway Street, turning west along 30th Avenue and then north again at 33rd Street up to Columbus Triangle off Astoria Blvd [near the subway stop]. Click here for our 2011 report which includes Columbus Day Parade map, date & times - as well as a brief history of the Federation of Italian Americans Organization [FIAO] in Astoria, and of Columbus' discovery of America.
At the 2012 Columbus Day Parade in Astoria, there were a number of government officials leading the parade including City Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., NYS Senator Giannaris, and former City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. Also marching were a number of people who were beginning their efforts to seek elective city offices in the 2013 election, when Peter Vallone Jr's third term expires.
Click here to view our photo slide show of the Columbus Day Parade in Astoria 2012, including photo slide show of Steinway Street in Astoria then and now.
Century Bike Riders Come Through Queens
TA Queens Volunteers Work Astoria Park Rest Stop
September 10, 2012 / Astoria / Sporting Activities in Queens / Queens Buzz. On Sunday it was in the 70’s and low 80’s, sunny & dry. The day couldn’t have been much better for a one hundred mile bike ride through all five NYC boroughs. And so it was as I headed down to the Century Bike Ride Queens rest stop in Astoria Park.
The Century Bike Ride was started by Transportation Alternatives in 1990, long before there were any real bike lanes in NYC. The first ride attracted about 200 riders, while the ride in 2012 attracted over 6,000 riders. Since that first ride, literally hundreds of miles of bike lanes have been mapped out in NYC; and the city plans to expand NYC bike lanes by about 50 more miles in 2013 - ten of which will be laid out in Queens. This expanding network of bike lanes is due in part to the work of volunteers of the non-profit organization Transportation Alternatives.
Click here to learn more about Transportation Alternatives Queens and the Century Bike Ride in Queens of 2012.
Astoria Shops & Shopping
Astoria Neighborhood / Queens Buzz. Astoria has some of the finest shopping areas in Queens, including Steinway Street, Broadway and the Ditmars Blvd and 31st Street areas. This section contains maps, a shopping center that links to many advertiser home pages and stories about what you'll find in some of Astoria's unique stores.
Click here to enter the Astoria Shops and Shopping section of the site.
Astoria Real Estate - Astoria
Real Estate, Realtors, Condos, Apartments, Prices & Market
Astoria Real Estate / Queens Real Estate / Queens Buzz. This is the Astoria Real Estate section of the site.
Click here to view reports about business and real estate in Astoria Queens.
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