Things To Do - Sunnyside & Woodside
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.
Memorial Day With Chief Joseph
A Conversation in First Calvary Cemetery in Queens
On Memorial Day, I decided to make a trip to the First Calvary Cemetery to visit the graves of those who gave their lives defending this nation where the founding charters promise all [wo]men the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They fought for a noble cause I thought as I made my way, on a beautiful day, to the Calvary cemetery in Queens.
The First Calvary cemetery opened in the late 1840’s [circa 1847 – 1848] and was located only a short ferry ride away from Manhattan, up Newtown Creek. A couple more cemeteries were opened as the 19th century wore on, as most of Queens was still rural farmlands and woodlands. Many of the burials of the first century of operation were of Catholic Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants - including many children. And many soldiers had been buried here as well, most of whom were from the Civil War era.
As I was viewing a collection of the tombstones, reflecting on the lives sacrificed in the war over slavery, as well as the more recent wars that pulled nearly the entire planet into battle, a human figure in the distance caught my attention. A man appeared to be making his way toward me, in this lonely empty section of the cemetery. I pulled out of my musings, and began to focus on his emerging presence as he made his way up the hill.
He was an old man, of medium height, with long black and grey hair and a weathered, leathery skin. He was wearing an old work shirt and dark trousers and beaten leather shoes. No, they were mocassins.
His countenance resembled that of a legendary Indian: Chief Joseph. Chief Joseph was a tribal leader of the Nez Perce tribe in the Wallowa Valley in northeast Oregon. Chief Joseph was born in 1840, only years before this cemetery was founded. And he had visited New York City in 1897 to march alongside Buffalo Bill in a Wild West Parade.
He slowly raised his right arm, palm open and fingers standing straight up like a Boy Scout, and in a deep full voice he said,
I stood a bit at attention as I returned the greeting.
“Hi. How are you doing?”
He spoke again, this time in a language I did not understand.
“Mumba goycha tay.”
I looked at him and shook my head back and forth indicating that I did not understand what he’d just said.
Click here to read the rest of our Memorial Day fiction in Calvary Cemetery in Queens.
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.
Bike Paths & Bike Lanes In Queens - Forum
Bicyclists & Others Meet To Discuss Bike Paths & Bike Lanes In Queens
Spring / Sunnyside / Biking in Queens / Queens Buzz. I attended a bike forum at the Sunnyside Community Services Center on a warm, wet Saturday in March. I noticed quite a few bikes locked to signs and poles outside the center as I entered. Inside there were between 50 – 75 people in attendance, most of who were bicycle enthusiasts, although I was informed that a few of the attendees were not.
The forum had been organized as a collaboration of Community Board Two [hereafter referred to as CB2], City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer and the Queens Department of Transportation [hereafter referred to as QDOT]. Evan O’Neil and Emelia Crotty of CB2 moderated the session, outlining the history of bike lanes in western Queens, and the current state of bike lanes and bike parking. This helped put things in context, so that in the bike forum breakout sessions, participants could spend their time planning for the future.
Click here to read our report about the bike forum about adding bike lanes & bike paths in Queens. We've included a bit of NYC bike lane history and some info on what's going on in other parts of the world. There's also a slide show of the bike forum presentation and participants. Click here to view maps of bike lanes in Queens as of the end of 2011.
Thalia Theatre Bridges Cultural Divide
Sunnyside / Fall & Winter. I enjoyed a dance performance by the Mestizo Dance Company last Friday evening at the Thalia Theatre in Sunnyside. The show, which runs weekends through December 6th, is a panoply of colorful costumes, music by an accomplished eight piece band, all in support of an impressive performance by a full troupe of talented dancers. All tolled they performed nearly twenty dances from various parts of Latin America which the audience seemed to greatly enjoy.
Click here to view a story about the Best Of The Mestizos at Thalia Spanish Theatre in Sunnyside Queens.
Queens The Home Of Jazz
Bix Beiderbecke Concert in Sunnyside
August 19, 2012 / Sunnyside / Live Music in Queens / Queens Buzz. In the 1930’s and 1940’s Queens became known as the home of jazz because so many great jazz and blues musicians lived here. Some of the greats such Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holliday and Ella Fitzgerald all had homes in Queens.
Bix Beiderbecke didn’t live long enough to become as well known as those mentioned above, but he was considered one of the great jazz musicians of his time and, over time, he’s being given greater recognition for his contributions to the art of the music.
Bix died in Sunnyside on 46th Street between Queens Blvd and 43rd Avenue where he spent his final days. And every summer since 2001, Sunnyside has celebrated his life with a musical get together.
Click here for more about the history of Bix Beiderbecke and the Bix Beiderbecke concert in Sunnyside.
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.
Sunnyside Gardens Park
Membership Benefits & Dues
Private Parks in Sunnyside / Sunnyside Neighborhood / Green & Parks / Queens Buzz. This Saturday people from Sunnyside, Woodside, Astoria and further neighborhoods, made their way to the annual Sunnyside Gardens Pumpkin Patch and Oktoberfest. The day-long event attracted a larger crowd than I have ever seen there before.
Based on my photos and a quick and dirty head count, the event was likely attended by well over 1,000 people. We tried to photograph as many people as possible, as the slide show and photo album will attest.
Click here to view our report on Sunnyside Gardens Park including information about services, membership and dues [and the Pumpkin Patch and Oktoberfest event of 2011].
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.
Shenton, Shields, Spoletini & Wade
Perform At The Sunnyside Reformed Church
February 5, 2011 / Sunnyside / Queens Buzz. I attended one of the cultural events sponsored by the Sunnyside Reformed Church. The performance featured four accomplished musicians who gave standing ovation performances that included Italian opera, Broadway Musicals and classical jazz. In the photo above Baritone Giuseppe Spoletini is shown singing the Figaro Aria in Sunnyside.
The event sponsor, the Sunnyside Reformed Church, dates back over 400 years to the Dutch Calvinists, many of whom were early settlers of Queens during colonial times [circa 1600’s]. This report takes a look at both the musical performance and the sponsoring church, which is located at the corner of Skillman Avenue and 48th Street in Sunnyside.
Click here to read more about the jazz performance at Sunnyside Reformed Church.
Woodside - Holiday Lights 2010
Beware - Photos Of Kids' Cheer May Be Contagious
December 4, 2010 / Woodside / Queens Buzz. Woodside On The Move threw an enjoyable Christmas Tree Lighting event on Saturday. As you can see in the photo to your right, there was a look of anticipation as the kids awaited Santa's arrival.
There was a full schedule of events, starting with a few short speeches by representatives from Woodside On The Move as well as local government officials. The crowd was then treated to quite a few musical numbers sung by kids from St. Sebastian's parochial school and public schools 152 and 11. Monsignor Hardiman then blessed the tree and the tree was lit [see tree in background of photo].
Click here for a full report including a slide show of photos of the Woodside On The Move Tree Lighting event 2010.
Turkish Cultural Center - Queens
Sunnyside / December 3, 2010 / Queens Buzz. I just returned from a visit to the Turkish Cultural Center in Sunnyside. I went there to view the Turkish movie, entitled Separation, which had English subtitles. The movie is highly philosophical and based on the writings of an ancient 13th century Turkish / Persian scholar, Mevlevi.
Foreign Films In Queens - Turkish Cultural Center
The tale is set in 1798 in what is today Istanbul, Turkey. The story is about a retired diplomat / ambassador who had served the Sultan by advising him on European affairs. The ambassador, Dede Efendi, is aided by a young scribe from whose perspective the story is told. The ambassador is drawn back into the world of diplomacy and intrigue because the French, under General Napoleon Bonaparte, are about to declare war on Egypt. One of Dede’s former peers calls upon him to inform the Sultan in an effort to pre-empt the attack and avoid a war. Framed within this tale of diplomacy, is a love story between a doctor who attends to the ambassador, and one of the servants in the empress’s entourage. The photo to your left shows the good doctor in the Turkish movie Separation.
Click here to read the rest of our report about the Turkish Cultural Center in Sunnyside Queens, including photos / slide show.
Shopping Center & Map - Sunnyside & Woodside
Shops and Shopping in Sunnyside & Woodside
Sunnyside & Woodside / Queens Buzz. This is the Sunnyside & Woodside Shopping Center on Queens Buzz. This page contains home page links, contact info, maps for stores and shops located in Sunnyside & Woodside, Queens.
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