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THE MAGAZINE

SUMMER 2012 | Volume 4.1

It’s List

Top

15

Tech Companies

BIG GOALS Don Garber MLS Commissioner Talks Pro Soccer in Queens

Lit Up

Growing Literary Scene in Queens

Beer Here New Brewery Opens in Astoria

Winter 2012

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2 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

Happy Holidays

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 3

It’s

QUEENS THE MAGA ZINE

Publisher Walter H. Sanchez Executive Editor Shane Miller Senior Editors Andrew Pavia Andrew Shilling Writers Audrey Dimola Kenneth B. Goldberg Art Direction/Graphic Design Matthew Stefani Susana Diaz Photographers Michael O’Kane Kenneth B. Goldberg Jen Wu Serving The Community Since 1974 Houses Wanted - We Get Top $$$$$$ For Your Home! Low Commission, Fast Sale & Full Service Agency 3 Locations & Over 20 Sales Agents... All From The Area So We Know Prices

Advertising Tammy Sanchez Kathleen Connell

Proudly Serving The Queens Community For Over 30 Years!!! Thank You For Your Support and Friendship Throughout The Years

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Volume 4 Number 2 – Winter 2012 It’s Queens is published quarterly. Postmaster, send all address changes to It’s Queens – PO BOX 780376 – Maspeth, NY 11378. It’s Queens is a consumer magazine covering the people who move and shake Queens, from real estate trends to transportation, politics to entertainment, It’s Queens will bring our readers the ins and outs of the borough. It’s Queens is wholly owned and published by the Queens Ledger/Greenpoint Star Weekly Newspaper Group. We know enough about the borough, covering it week in and week out since 1873. Bulk mail Flushing, NY Permit #652. Copyright ©2008 It’s Queens. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Any news or feature solicitation for publication in It’s Queens should be done so without expectation of use and without expectation of return to solicitor. Send correspondence to editor@itsqueens.com . Subscriptions are $7.95 per year. Inquiries for subscriptions - Mail to PO BOX 780376, Maspeth, NY 11378. (718) 639-7000. www.itsqueens.com

On the Cover: Don Garber (Photo: Major League Soccer)

Contents 14 We’ve Got You Wired FEATURES

It’s Queens ranks the Top 5 Tech Stores in Queens.

16 The It’s List

These 15 Tech Companies are quickly making Queens the technology center of NYC.

26 The Beautiful Game MLS Commissioner Don Garber

is trying to bring a franchise - and new stadium - to the borough of Queen.

30 Gustavo Rodriguez One gig at a time, growing the music scene in Queens.

Departments

7 Buzz

What’s hot and what’s not in Queens.

8 Technology

Three must-have apps for your phone.

10 Made in Queens Anyone up for a brew?

36 Entertainment

Winter activities, the Queens lit scene & more.

54 History Calendar p. 52

Inside the oldest private residence in Queens.

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Publisher’s Note WALTER SANCHEZ those who might have been against such a stadium out of the hearing room - and the Queens press caught wind of it within minutes. The PR firm filled the seats by coercing soccer enthusiasts to come and drown out concerned voices. They attempted to manipulate the process. Queens people are accustomed to having things shoved down our throats, but at least they let us vent. The tactics of MLS notwithstanding, having a professional soccer team in Queens is going to be great fun, but after the way they handled this first phase elected officials and media in Queens are sure to be quite skeptical.

Queens Residents Don’t Stand For Getting Kicked Around? Major League Soccer will more than likely get a team and a stadium in Queens. A professional soccer team and a stadium in Flushing MeadowsCorona Park happens to be a terrific idea and will not only bring plenty of jobs here, but is sure to spark a new passion for Queens. But when building something that might be a bit controversial, it’s a mistake to try to puncture the process and attempt to fool the press, no matter how lame the process might appear. Instead of doing their homework on how the USTA got a stadium built and continues to expand here, how Resort World Casino became a reality and how Atlas Mall worked the community, MLS tried to taint the process and not allow dissenting voices to be heard. Bruce Ratner, the villain of Brooklyn and builder of the Barclays Center, didn’t even try to stack the deck the way MLS did at a recent town hall meeting. MLS kept 6 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

As for MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who hails from Queens (see our profile beginning on page 26), he has his own ideas about the project. Check out what he told It’s Queens about bringing pro soccer to his hometown.

Tech City – Embracing Brick & Mortar As Long Island City ripens as a technology paradise for new innovative companies, Queens will certainly continue to attract and employ thousands more in the near future. Roosevelt Island will soon be the new home to Cornell University as a tech center, and Queens should benefit greatly from that. Although technically part of Manhattan, Roosevelt Island is easier to access from Queens, and Long Island City eateries and service businesses are going to need to plan now for the growth. Even more important, staple businesses in LIC and the tech companies need to embrace each other going forward. Check out our It’s List on page 17 for instance. A new tech company like easypairings.com needs

to partner-up with some of the brickand-mortar eateries in LIC just to beta their new software development for restaurant staffing. This kind of model can’t be achieved in Silicon Valley. Here in Queens, there are thousands of small businesses that can use the tech help and the new tech companies would be wise to seek out development partners who have customers and legacy businesses.

Queens-Based Writers Finding Their Voice Audrey Dimola features the mighty, yet un-trendy as compared to Brooklyn, literary scene in Queens. Meet-up groups of Queens poets, playwrights and novelists are gaining momentum…. and it’s not a prerequisite to have had a book published to be included. We think you will find the people unpretentious and welcoming at these gatherings. Attending a reading in Queens is quite different. Queens writers seem to be able to display a broad range of experience and are quite welcoming to newcomers. Check out our feature which starts on page 37. Lastly, it looks like it might be a long, cold winter. Check out our entertainment feature beginning on page 44 - ten things Queens has to offer this winter to keep you nice and warm. You can play some vintage video games in an Astoria museum or run away with the circus, to name just a few.

Walter Sanchez Publisher

Queens Buzz

A quick rundown of what Queens residents are talking about, as well what they no longer care about. Superstorm Sandy

It’s going to take Queens residents a long time to recover from the effects of Superstorm Sandy. As long as people continue to rebuild hard-hit areas like the Rockaways and Breezy Point, Sandy and its devastating effects will always be fresh in our mind. But when the bungalows once again dot the Rockaways, the boardwalk is teeming with sunbathers, and Breezy Point no longer looks like a burnedout wasteland, we’ll still be talking about that night in October when Sandy unleashed its fury and the way we look at our coastlines changed forever.

Race for Borough President

After 12 years, Queens is poised to get a new borough president, and what a stacked race it is shaping up to be! There’s a lot of big names and well-connected people who are either running or strongly rumored to be running. A week before Christmas, Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr. announced at the annual Vallone Christmas Party that he was officially mounting a campaign. Likewise, State Senator Tony Avella, former Councilwoman Melinda Katz, Councilman Leroy Comrie, Deputy Borough President and former Assemblyman Barry Grodenchik (we must be missing someone) are all in the mix. With these many seasoned politicians running on the Democratic line, it should make for an interesting primary season, to say the least.

Jets Quarterback Controversy

At least now that the season is over we hope that we can all finally stop talking about who should be taking snaps for the New York Jets. We don’t think we can handle another season of Sanchez vs. Tebow Vs. McElroy debate.

MLS Soccer Stadium

Is Queens getting another professional sports team? It’s looking like that may be the case, as Major League Soccer has proposed building a new stadium in Flushing MeadowsCorona Park and bringing a franchise to the heart of the borough’s diverse immigrant community, a fitting place for The World’s Game. Of course, the proposal is not without its detractors, so expect this to be a hot topic throughout the beginning of 2013.

Newtown Shooting

It might not have happened here in Queens, but there is no doubt that the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut touched a nerve here in the borough, because if it can happen in a sleep suburb enclave, it sure as heck can happen here. Talk ranged from shock to debates on gun control, but in Sunnyside, residents there held a solemn vigil for six-year-old Benjamin Wheeler, a victim in the shooting whose family moved from Sunnyside to Newtown shortly after his birth. It’s a wound that will take a while to heal.

Aqueduct Opening

It kind of feels like the Aqueduct racino has always been here, doesn’t it? Well, it just feels that way because believe it or not, Resorts World New York just opened the facility earlier this year. We guess it was the decade or so of planning about what to do with Aqueduct, the allegedly rigged bidding process, and all of the hoopla leading up to the grand opening that it seems like the racino has always been a permanent part of the Queens landscape. While the excitement around Aqueduct has subsided, we can only assume it will be back in the limelight when talk about bringing full-gaming casinos to New York starts to heat up again.

NY-06 CONGRESSIONAL RACE

Speaking of some big names in politics, no local congressional race generated quite as much excitement as the race for the newly created 6th Congressional District, which stretch all the way from northeast Queens to Ridgewood and Glendale, carving out a nice cross-section of Queens residents. Assemblyman Rory Lancman, Assemblywoman Grace Meng, and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowely competed in a Democratic Primary for the chance to face Republican Councilman Dan Halloran. In the end, Meng was victorious, and months of political backand-forth slowly fizzled out.

Gas Shortages

While we don’t spend countless hours with our neighbors and co-workers talking about our gas woes anymore, we here at It’s Queens don’t think we will ever forget those two weeks or so of panic while we all frantically tried to keep a little bit of gas in our tanks, waiting on line for hours to get a few precious gallons of petro. No, while it isn’t at the forefront of our discussions, we know we don’t pass a gas station these days with no line and full pumps and take it for granted.

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Tech

NEW APPS

Foodspotting

Giftly

Have a friend who is really into wine and you would like to get them a bottle, but you wouldn’t know the first thing about picking out a good Pinot Noir? Have a family member who is a foodie and want to get them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant, but your idea of fine dining is ordering from the “special dishes” section of local Chinese takeout restaurant’s menu? No problem, just use Giftly. Giftly has over 100 icons with labels like “Dinner” or “Theater” that you can assign a dollar amount to, and the recipient can use the money wherever they want because the merchant isn’t actually involved, instead it’s all handled through credit cards. Giftly will also let you snap a photo of something you see in a store, and turn it into a gift so you don’t have to worry about getting the right size or picking out a color. | www.giftly.com

Sure, there’s a lot of apps out there that rate restaurants, but just because you know a good place to go, are you necessarily going to know what to order once you’re there? Enter Foodspotting, the app that just doesn’t help you find the good restaurants, it helps you find the best dishes. Users – and even some food experts - upload suggestions for great dishes, as well as photos, and your phone uses your GPS to show you the dishes that people loved within blocks of where your standing. | www.foodspotting.com 8 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

Photo Editor By Aviary

We’ve all fallen in love with Instagram and making our photos look like they were taken in 1976, but we bet there’s still some of you out there - like us - who every once in a while want our photos to look perfect. Photo Editor by Aviary is a no-fuss, on-thego photo editor that will let you do the basic things like adjust color and contrast, but also adds some bells and whistles such as adding text and stickers, as well as whitening teeth and eliminating redeye.

Get your daily dose of LOCAL and not so local NEWS at 8:00 am ~

Queens NewsTicker

Signing on is easy. Scan the code or – email us @ queensnewsticker@gmail.com

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Made in queens

There’s Something Brewing in Queens SingleCut Beersmiths officially opens its door in Astoria

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rom the outside, 19-33 37th Street looks like just another warehouse, but inside it’s producing the borough’s newest brew. Richard Buceta left the job security and comfort of an almost 20-year career in the advertising world to start SingleCut Beersmiths. It was December 2007 and Buceta was on a two-week Christmas vacation when he came to the sudden realization that he wasn’t going back to his job. He didn’t like the way the advertising industry was being run and told his wife he was leaving the “fat paycheck behind.” “You only live once,” he said, but was afraid because “I didn’t have a plan B.” As an avid home brewer for over 10 years, beer was always on his mind, but he didn’t think that he could turn his passion for craft beer into a career. For roughly a month after quitting his job, Buceta sat at home and watched 10 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

his wife go to work every day while he began to turn their home into a laboratory filled with beer-making equipment. His wife was always supportive

by ANDREW PAVIA

of his life-altering decision, but Buceta admitted that she was growing tired of having her living space turned into a mini-brewery.

After two-and-a-half months, Buceta got a job at a local brewery in Brooklyn. He won them over by bringing samples of his own beer from perfected recipes, and he recalls having to work his way back up a new corporate ladder. On the lowest rung of the ladder in the advertising world, you make the coffee; on the lowest rung of the ladder in the brewing world, you clean out the kegs. One day Buceta was doing the manual work and thought “I’m really foolish.” “I let my heart dictate my life over my mind,” he said. Frustrated, Buceta decided to start his own brewery.

Made in queens

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Made in queens On December 8, Single Cut Beersmiths opened its taps to the public for the first time, serving over 1,200 thirsty patrons. Soon, they’ll be able to buy SingleCut beers – there’s currently five different kinds – in their favorite bar.

three years ago that he decided to change his career path as well, started as an intern at Greenpoint Beer Works, where he met Buceta, who shared his vision for starting his own brewery. The two hit it off, and when Buceta asked him to oversee sales for

“I’m thrilled,” he said. “I consider myself lucky, and I’ve never worked harder in my life.” With a nod to his love of music, the name SingleCut comes from a type of Les Paul guitar. The tap room, which is open to the public on a limited basis Thursday through Saturday, has guitar-shaped taps and a stage. There’s currently seven people working at the brewery. “We wear many hats,” Buceta said. “There are no weak links in the chain.” One member of that chain is Mark Muecke, who is head of sales. It was

SingleCut, Muecke jumped at the chance and hasn’t regretted it. “Because we’re a small company, there is no bureaucracy,” he said. “There is no one cracking the whip, you do your job and you do it well.” At the grand opening, visitors had the chance to see the space where the beer is brewed up close. “I think this is cooler than the Brooklyn Brewery,” said Brooklyn transplant and Sunnyside resident Darin Roberts, who said SingleCut has “more of a raw feeling.” When asked what he sees in the fu-

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ture for the growing brewery, Muecke said, “lots of beer, lots of parties, and lots of hangovers.” The tap room will be open to the public every Thursday and Friday from 5 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from It’s Queens 12 to 6 p.m.

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TOP 5

Top 5 Local Electronics

by Andrew Pavia In out technology-driven society, if you’re not up with the latest gadget or device, you’re going to quickly fall behind. This issue, we give you the Top 5 Electronics Stores in Queens, which all offer you not only a great selection, but a wealth of experience to help you make the right decision.

Wizard Electroland With deals on Yelp combined with the attention of a local store, this may be the place you want to go to shop for electronics. After walking into the store at 58-19 Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood, customers get the feel of a bigger electronics store as big screen televisions line the walls and expensive cameras sit behind the glass of the display cases. One of the workers said that some people just don’t care anymore and explained how he arranged certain pieces of technology in the store to make the shop look nicer. “It’s the little things,” he said. The store was established in 1995 and recently moved to Ridgewood from Greenpoint Brooklyn, where one reviewer and former customer on Yelp wrote, “I’ve been shopping thee for years too bad they moved out from Greenpoint.” Wizard supplies the community with everything from games to computers, appliances, mp3 players and audio exp. If you’re in the area and you want a spacious place to grab a new piece of technology and some actual attention from the staff Wizard Electroland is the place for you.

5

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Complete Entertainment Exchange [CEX]

Although CEX is not entirely local, the store on Steinway Street has the feel of a small shop. With the majority of employees living in Queens, the needs of the customers are met by neighbors at this store at 30-36 Steinway Street in Astoria.

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Voltaire Carose, the manager of CEX, moved from Brooklyn to Queens and said that he loved going to work everyday. One of the most important aspects of the shop is that customers can trade in old pieces of technology or video games for cash. “We’re feeding babies,” he said with a laugh but said that he truly feels the store is doing positive things for the community.

With everything from video games, to home entertainment centers and cameras, CEX is a one stop shop for Astoria residents looking for electronics. Business has been good for this London based company with 200 stores in the UK. However, with only 12 stores in the United States and only one in Queens CEX has the feel of a

Moon Electronics Don’t let the crowded store front scare you off. Once inside Moon Electronics at 30-69 Steinway Street in Astoria, it’s clear that this shop is here to serve the technology needs of Queens residents.

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The staff has been known to be very attentive and help customers through a wide range of electronic equipment in the store. Despite the fact that Moon Electronics sells everything from headphones to home appliances, the store is actually spacious and neat. Not only can you pick up new pieces of technology but you can drop them off to be fixed here as well. Moon Electronics ha proven it’s commitment to the community when it joined the Steinway Partnership Business Improvement District. You want to go to this store, just don’t let all the lights and electronic equipment that crowd the storefront to scare you off.

TOP 5

Stuart Electronics This may not be the most ascetically pleasing store on the list but what it lacks in style it makes up for in experience. Stuart Electronics has been operating out of the same storefront at 79-12 Parsons Boulevard in Flushing since 1953 and have been featured on television shows including Law & Order.

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Peter Guggenheim, the 73-year-old owner, has been working in the store since he was 13 years old and focuses on a strange concept in today’s world...repairs. While the store appears to be your grandfathers electronics store, with VCR’s for sale and no iPhones in site it would seem that this is not the place to turn.

However, Guggenheim has become one of the leading people to do repairs to things like radios and radio scan-

ners. His wit and extensive knowledge on technology, with almost 60 years of experience, makes Stuart Electronics the place to go for technology advice, a laugh and possibly some repairs.

Big Daddy Electronics With everything from air conditioners to flat screen televisions this shop may be the place for those who need a one-stop-shop with a local feel. From the outside it r that store would be overflowing with electronic equipment but don’t worry. Once inside the shop located at 50-07 in Ridgewood, customers are presented with name brand electronics with a personal feel.

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The variety at Big Daddy’s will strike customers because a vacuum cleaner sits next to a washing machine which sits under a coffee maker. Don’t think that appliances are all they have in store. With state of the art audio equipment, cameras and blu ray players, Big Daddy shows off.

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The it’s List For years, manufacturing jobs have been leaving the city, and in many cases those grand spaces of a forgotten industrial age were replaced by luxury housing. For over a decade, that was the prediction for Long Island City, and while there has been considerable residential development, it has never completed dominated the neighborhood. Now, a new industry is finding a use for the neighborhood’s available space and taking advantage of its close proximity to Manhattan. A mix of established tech companies and innovative startups are finding a home in Queens, so this issue The It’s List ranks the...

T o p F ifteen

Tech companies World Now

FIFTEEN

27-01 Queens Plaza North Suite 502 Long Island City worldnow.com

Everything these days is going web-based and mobile, and that includes the oncethought irreplaceable television set. But for television stations that have for so long focused on presenting their product to you in the comfort of your own home, taking the next step and reaching you on the internet and mobile devices can be a daunting challenge. That’s where Long Island City-based Worldnow

Skift skift.com

comes in, helping primarily local television news outlets brand themselves on the latest cutting-edge platforms, transforming them from a half-hour newscast three times a day to the go-to place for breaking news.

FOURTEEN

Long Island City resident Rafat Ali got the idea for Skift after he sold his small media venture - paidContent and decided to travel the world. Skift is a one-stop “travel intelligence” company that offers news, insight, data tools and services to both the travel industry - which has grown into a $2 trillion a year industry - and traveling community. Skift offers informa-

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tion regarding every aspect of travel, from comparing hotels and airlines to news about airports and hotels. Users can also sign up to receive daily email alerts and analysis. Keep an eye on Skift; at a recent Queens Tech Meetup Ali promised that the first incarnation of the company as a news and info site is just the beginning of Skift.

the it’s List

Darren Wan & Peter Lada

THIRTEEN

Easy Pairings easypairings.com

Easy Pairings was created by Darren Wan and Peter Lada. As a restaurateur, Darren experienced firsthand how tedious the hiring process can be, and wanted a better way to find the right staff. As a technologist, Peter has a passion for solving everyday problems with well-designed, efficient solutions.

Thus, Easy Pairings was born. Easy Pairings is a recruitment company specializing in improving the hiring and job search process for restaurant front-of-house positions. Hiring restaurants receive a list of qualified candidates to interview, while jobseekers get specific job postings that fit their experience. The application process is simple, in the end everybody is happy. Just don’t forget to tip the wait staff.

Gregory Gundersen Q11

TWELVE

During the chaos caused by Hurricane Sandy, Gregory Gundersen of Astoria noticed that volunteer organizations had too much to handle. It all began when Gundersen’s brother went to sign up to volunteer and was turned away because the location was overrun with help. This led to the creation of Q11, which is an SMS-based platform that sends text messages directly to a user’s cell phone. Q11 allows users to text in a location to

a specific number, and in turn receive information on what organizations in their area need volunteers. Users can also check-in and communicate with a real-time list of volunteers at a specific location. The benefit, Gundersen explained, is that in times of emergencies, when Wi-Fi is down, all a user needs to access the information is a cell phone signal. “The idea is that it works in any environment,” he said. Q11 has already won awards at NYTechResponds and AngleHack, and will soon be pitching their product to a major venture capital company in the city.

William Etundi, Jr. See Me 25-25 44th Drive Long Island City see.me William Etundi, Jr., CEO and founder of See.me, started his LIC technology and art company in 2008 to provide a digital platform for artists to share their work with fellow artists and enthusiasts, with opportunities to show in art exhibitions and win grant money and awards. “We’re building a visual social network for fashion designers, where they can build a visual profile and they can view them all from their mobile devices,” Etundi said. “People who have profiles in the system can see their work anywhere.” The company is currently holding a competition, awarding the artist with the best profile $125,000 in grant money and the opportunity to a have a video about their work posted on a digital billboard in Times Square.

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the it’s List

Veronica Chan Long Island City resident Veronica Chan has been involved in many tech startups, including Gojee.com and food52.com, but one thing that they have all had in common is they all have a focus on the culinary. A former food marketer, Chan is interested in exploring the ways that technology and the food industry come together. She recently co-hosted Hack/Meat, the first-ever “meat hackathon” in New York. Over the course of a weekend “steakholders” - or those who are involved in the meat industry - worked with technologists to rapidly prototype innovative solutions to industry issues posed by those in agriculture. Some of the ideas included

an app that plugged into a scale to keep track of meat production and another that connected small meat farms with their customers. “So often, people come up with really creative apps, but they don’t actually solve any sort of problem,” Chan told It’s Queens. Chan is currently working on an idea for a project that would connect aspiring chefs and restaurateurs with diners, who would get an intimate dinner in exchange for their feedback on a proposed menu. “We’ll see if I can get that off the ground early next year,” said Chan. “I’ve got a lot on my plate!”

TEN

Tietz-Baccon 47-17 5th Street Long Island City tietz-baccon.com

At Tietz-Baccon, Andrew Baccon and his team bridge the gap between the digital and physical, with an array of large metal cutting machines and imaging programs. Started in 2007, this LIC tech company utilizes these tools to turn concepts and forms, provided by artists and design firms, and turn them into mechanical parts along with a variety of physical elements. “We are architects by trade,” Baccon said. “We produce physical products, but it all has to do with the root in three-dimensional imaging.” Baccon received his masters from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design before setting up shop in Long Island City with his counterpart, Eric Tietz. “We take concepts and forms that designers have created and turn them into mechanical parts,” he said. One of their most recent projects can be seen at the Barclays Center, where they worked with the designers from SHoP Architects and Dupont Corian to create the unique three-dimensional wall at the arena’s VIP entrance.

NINE

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www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 19

The it’s List

Audrey Tan

EIGHT

waggit.com Audrey Tan got the idea for Waggit one Thanksgiving when a friend couldn’t find anyone to watch her cat while she was out of town. Inspiration struck, and Tan quit her job and started waggit.com, a website where pet owners can go and find reliable and trustworthy people willing to watch their dogs. But it’s more than just a convenient place to find a dogsitter, Tan tries to foster a sense of community by hosting meetups and get-togethers, all pet friendly of course. As it says at waggit.com, “Dogs make people happy, so lets come together and make them happy.”

OK Focus 11-11 44th Road, #201 Long Island City okfoc.us

Jonathan Vingiano, Jules LaPlace and Ryder Ripps are OK Focus, a tech company in Long Island City that has been making web apps, iOs apps and thinking outside of the box since their start-up took off in October of 2011. Most recently the company has been working on an iPad drawing app and something called “Where’s the Pixel,” an iOs game where you’re asked to find as many pixel’s on your iPhone or iPad screen, ultimately winning points. Today it is their most popular app. “I think we want to be able to create experiences for the internet that make people better understand living with all of these devices,” Vingiano explained. “We approach making these things from a very human place which can sometimes be rare, especially in software development.” Another recent development out of the OK Focus studios is “Overlayer,” an easy way to combine layers by adding images over another image or object. “With this we can see potential of partnering with brands like Adidas,” he added, showing how the app can easily add a photo taken from a computer’s webcam and combine it with a preset image, such as a t-shirt or a digital icon.

SEVEN

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The it’s List

Storybox storybox.it “A picture speaks a thousand words…but many pictures together express something even more,” is how the team over at Storybox starts off their description of their company, but it’s so much more than a place to store photos. Sure, at it’s heart, Storybox is a tool that allows users to make collages, but it also allows them to create a notebook of graphic ideas, embed their favorite social feeds, and so much more to create a modern-day digital scrapbook of their lives. Based in Long Island City, Storybox was founded by Angela Min, and now includes a team of four people, including Wes Chow, Radhika Chopra, and Liz Shim. Join today and begin sharing your own creations with friends and family to inspire them, or even just use them for your own inspiration.

SIX

Krate

44-02 23rd Street Suite 516 Long Island City kratedesign.com Jaime Kennard has owned and operated Krate, a digital technology and design firm in Queens since 2004. Today, he is currently responsible for developing a variety of apps for the iPhone, iPad and other mobile devices. “We have a graphic design background, but that is only part of what we do,” Kennard said. “If we don’t have the technology or capability for an in-house team, we want to partner with a technology company that is also design savvy.” When Kennard’s team of six, young, tech-savvy developers and designers can’t do

the project on their own, they don’t hesitate partnering with other studios and companies. “That tends to bring interesting projects our way. I think that is also partially why we’re sort of an integrated multi-disciplinary shop here,” he said. “We don’t just do technology and we don’t just do design. We like that intersection and we sort of feel like one can’t really live without the other.”

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the it’s list

Shapeways

FOUR

35-18 37th St. Second Floor Long Island City Shapeways.com If you have an idea for a product, chances are that Shapeways can make it come to life. Shapeways is the world’s leader in 3-D printing, and the company recently moved into a 25,000-square-foot factory in Long Island City that can print as many as 5 million products a year. How does it work? A designer designs an object - a ring, a vase, a funky lamp - and uploads their idea to the Shapeways website. Shapeways takes it, and brings the object to life, turning your average amateur designer into a professional manufacturer. It’s undoubtedly the future of manufacturing, and Shapeways is a leader in the industry, which is why the city chose it to be a major partner in its “New York’s Next Top Makers” competition, which promotes 3-D printing and innovation in New York City.

Digital Natives Group 5-22 46th Avenue Third Floor Long Island City nativesgroup.com

Founded by Benjamin Guttman in 2011, Digital Natives is bringing the academic and social life of the current educational system into the 21st Century. Long gone are the days of kids

24 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

bringing home notes with important information and parents combing through emails or calling the office to answer the simple question, “what’s happening at school today?” Rather than trying to get students, parents and administrators to connect on a variety of different social network platforms, Digital Natives’ Whisper app brings all of the news and information to one centralized location, including mobile access to district information, resources, and contacts. Meanwhile, Ringo is a social network for the student body, where each school

club and organization gets their own website and can easily communicate with other groups in their own school or throughout an entire district. Joining Guttman at Digital Natives is Chief Operating Officer Vladimir Lackovic, who met Guttman when they were still students at Baruch (which wasn’t that long ago!), as well as Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Jacobs and Chief Technology Officer John Botte. Together, they’re building 21st century school communities.

THREE

Chet Kanojia Aereo 37-18 Northern Boulevard Long Island City aereo.com

People have grown accustomed to having media at their fingertips while on the go, but a Long Island City company is expanding that experience to include live television. Aereo, founded by Chet Kanojia, uses innovative cloud-based technology that allows consumers to access

TWO

Songza

The It’s List

live broadcast television on compatible Internet-connected devices, at home or on the go through a remote integrated antenna/DVR. Instead of being tethered only to a television set, consumers can use Aereo to watch television, either live or pre-recorded, on their portable devices. Aereo is currently available to residents of New York City and membership plans range from $1/day to $80/year, including DVR storage.

526 46th Avenue 2nd Floor Long Island City songza.com

Ever scrolled aimlessly through your iPod or stared blankly at the search box on Spotify, thinking to yourself, “What am I in the mood to listen to?” Well, you’ll never have that problem again thanks to Songza. Songza asks you to choose an activity, a time of day or a mood, and then it provides you with an expertly curated playlist of music to match the situation. For example, when you first visit the site you might see the prompt “It’s Friday Late Morning, Play Music for…” and then you’ll be offered choices like “Doing Housework,” “Sipping Gourmet Coffee” or “Working (With Lyrics),” depending on what you’re currently doing. Songza also lets you choose by genre, but also offers a comprehensive range of activities, moods, and eras, such as “Seductive,” “80s Rock” or “Pool Party” – all of which means you’ll nev-

er have to worry about someone hijacking the music at your special event and killing the mood. Songza rose from the ashes of Amie Street, an indie online music store and social networking site that was sold to Amazon in 2010. Shortly after that, co-founders - CEO Elias Roman, COO Peter Asbill, CPO Elliott Breece, and CCO Eric Davich - refocused their efforts on Songza. On June 12, 2012, Songza was listed as the top free app on iTunes for the iPad and the number two free app for the iPhone, and has since expanded to Android. And as more and more people turn to their phone as their primary device for listening to music, Songza is poised to be the source they turn to for their listening pleasure.

NUMBER ONE

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 25

A Grand

PITCH

It’s Queens spoke with Major League Don Garber about the league’s vision stadium in 26 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

Don Garber is no stranger to Queens. The commissioner of Major League Soccer was born and raised in Flushing, where his grandfather owned a store on Main Street. He went to John Bowne High School, and his first job after graduating from college was in Woodside. You could say that the borough has made him what he is today, and now is he looking to give something back. Earlier this year, Garber and MLS made the surprising announcement that the league wanted to bring “The World’s Game” to the most ethnically diverse borough in the country. Garber unveiled plans to bring a professional soccer franchise to Queens, which would play in a brand new stadium in Flushing MeadowsCorona Park, constructed on top of the Pool of Industry, a relic from the 1964 World’s Fair. The new stadium would be surrounded by immigrant communities from Latin America, Europe, and Asia, where soccer – or

A Quick Look at Don Garber Born • October 9, 1957 in Flushing Career • Began in the Sports Business With the National Wheelchair Athletic Association • Spent 16 Years With the NFL • Appointed MLS Commissioner in 1999

Soccer Commissioner and Queens native for a pro soccer franchise and new the borough.

Other • Currently Live in Montclair, NJ • In 2011 Named a Top Sports Commissioner by the Los Angeles Times

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 27

IQ Profile football, as they would know it – is wildly popular. While the stadium is still in the planning stages and much more needs to be worked out before professional soccer is a reality in Queens, Garber and MLS are determined to see the sport gain a foothold in the borough. It’s Queens recently interviewed Garber about why he thinks a soccer franchise would succeed in Queens, his time as commissioner, and about growing up in the borough.

team in New York. About a year and a half ago we put a team together to work with us to find a location for a stadium in New York and we are thrilled about the prospect of bringing professional soccer to Queens.

IQ: What is it about Queens that you

think would make it a successful place for a MLS team?

DG: In addition to being close to transit

bringing a MLS franchise to Queens first originate, and when did you realize that this might actually be a possibility?

and being physically suitable, one of the key pieces we looked for was finding a place where our neighbors are passionate about soccer. It became very clear to us very quickly that Flushing Meadows was a perfect home for soccer.

Don Garber:

IQ: How involved is MLS in the local

It’s Queens: When did the idea for

It has long been a dream of ours to have a

community in other cities that have franchises?

DG: Very. One of the things that sets

MLS apart and the sport apart is that we are deeply involved in the communities that we play in. Our non-profit arm, MLS W.O.R.K.S. addresses important social issues and serves as a platform for the League and our team’s philanthropic programs.

IQ: Is there any truth to the rumors that David Beckham could be a part-owner of a team in Queens?

28 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

DG: No. David has been an important

part of Major League Soccer during the last six seasons as a player and ambassador, and we hope to have him continue as an owner of an MLS expansion club someday. However, his agreement with MLS does not allow him to exercise his expansion option for New York City.

IQ: Speaking of David Beckham, how

big was it for MLS to lure Beckham into the league? What do you think his impact has been on the league?

DG: When David arrived in MLS he stated loudly that he wanted to help grow the interest and popularity of MLS and soccer in America and win championships with the LA Galaxy. He accomplished all of those things and contributed greatly to a period of tremendous growth for the League. MLS today is far more credible, valuable and well positioned globally today than it was when he joined the League in 2007.

IQ: Lastly, are there any fond memories you have of growing up in Queens you would like to share, and how big would it be personally to bring a MLS franchise to the borough you grew up in?

DG: I have countless fond

memories of growing up in Queens. My grandparents came to this country and they moved to Queens and it is where I spent the majority of my childhood. My grandparents settled in Flushing, my grandfather had a store on Main Street, my mother and my grandmother taught public school in Flushing, I went to John Bowne High School and my first job after college was in Woodside. Very importantly I know when my grandparents came here they probably could never have dreamed that a kid from Queens could be fulfilling our dream of having this great game having a It’s Queens home in Queens.

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Its queens

A T rue Q ueens C reative

by Audrey Dimola Photos: Kenneth R. Goldberg 30 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

here’s this terrific untapped potential particularly in Western Queens,” Gustavo Rodriguez says, perched on a piano bench in a private room of the Gibson Guitar Showroom in NYC, which just so happens to be the former famous Hit Factory recording studio where Michael Jackson recorded Bad and Bruce Springsteen recorded Born in the USA, just to name a few. He runs down the list of neighborhoods – Astoria, Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside, Jackson Heights. “Artistically speaking,” he continues, “I think it’s a community that’s underserved, and I’m excited to see little signs of life popping up in the last few years.” We have Gus Rodriguez himself to thank for many of these signs of life. Expressive and endlessly driven to create, Long Island native Rodriguez has always been connected to Queens, but fell hard for it upon moving to the borough seven years ago. As a musician, booker, promoter, event curator, crowd-funding proponent and all-around creative, he has become one of our local artistic community’s greatest revolutionaries – and all by doing what he loves most. “At the end of the day, I’m a creative person. I just like making stuff.” Rodriguez is equipped with the kind of industry savvy, musical and curatorial talent, seemingly tireless work ethic, and genuine receptivity to the needs of his fellow artists that have granted him countless connections and compatriots, as well as special experiences like those he’s had at the Gibson Showroom. Through it all, he remains humble and humorous, a stalwart supporter of Queens who is unafraid to break down boundaries between boroughs, and most importantly, to push our own local artists to do, be, and create more than they ever have before. “Our vibe is different,” Rodriguez reflects on the car ride from Manhattan to the Jackson Heights coffee shop where he’ll be playing a gig later that night. “It’s a little more inclusive, because where we live is statistically, honestly, the most diverse place on the planet – it’s not just hyperbole. ing that. When you go into the places

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Where I work, I feel like you see a nice mix of people of different age groups, ethnicities, and walks of life that come in and mutually enjoy the same thing, which I don’t see in other places – and I don’t take that for granted.” Rodriguez stays busy curating live music nights at LIC Bar, and has recently branched out into literary events by staging the Fireside Ghost Stories series in the cozy, fire-lit carriage house at the back of the venue. He is also the booking agent for the Queens Kickshaw in Astoria, and does freelance booking for other venues like The Living Room in NYC and The Astor Room, also in Astoria. In addition, he runs Spike Hill’s Tuesday night music showcase in Brooklyn, which is sponsored by RocketHub, the locallyfounded online crowdfunding platform of which he is the Director of Creative Development and Special Events. “This is the most accomplished I’ve been creatively at this time in my life,” he says. “I feel really lucky – I was kind of adrift at sea for a lot of years… Had some growing up to do, I guess.” “I kind of fell into this,” Rodriguez goes on to admit. “I had a day job in advertising and research, and music interested me, but I never thought of myself as someone who would be doing booking and promoting and all of that. I went to an open mic at [Long Island City bar] Dominie’s Hoek in 2006 or 2007, and I met a person 32 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

named Jimmy Artache and friends like Justin Finley, Brian Meece [who went on to found RocketHub], and all these great guys – they changed my life. It led to LIC Bar, it led to working with [songwriter and Pogues frontman]

Shane MacGowan – everything that I’m doing now musicially, especially in Queens, flows from that place. It changed everything.” In recent years, Rodriguez produced the first ever Long Island City Jazz Festival, founded a website called LICNotes aiming to spark interest in local music, worked hard to bring artists like Gordon Gano of The Violent Femmes to play in Queens, and spearheaded popular LIC Bar events like the Queens of Queens local female musicians showcase, special tribute

nights, and various themed shows featuring the borough all-stars of the Planet QNS band, which was created and co-produced by Woodside musician Neil Nunziato. He has also watched with pride as his friends and fellow Queens musicians have become increasingly accomplished, noting Aram Bajakian playing lead guitar for Lou Reed, Jeneen Terrana appearing on a Food Network program, and Little Embers’ music playing in films and TV shows. “I enjoy very much what I do, and I love working with artists,” Rodriguez says warmly. “I enjoy their company, and I feel comfortable with them.” Of his experience as a booker and music event curator, he reflects: “I’m a musician myself, so I guess I have a vantage point of knowing what it’s like on both sides of the fence. I know how it feels to play a venue and have everyone be very cold or kind of indifferent to you, or even rude sometimes, so that always stuck with me. Whenever I do shows I go out of my way to make sure that the experience is nothing like that – that there’s always a personal touch.” In planning countless gigs in the NYC area, he has also come to take great pleasure in bringing Queens artists over with him to successful events in Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as introducing artists from outside Queens to this extremely unique, but all-too-often overlooked, local territory.

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34 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

“I think the best hidden gems in New York City are scattered around Queens,” Rodriguez asserts. “People take for granted things we have like Flushing Meadows Park, Louie Armstrong’s house, Kaufman Astoria Studios, the Museum of the Moving Image. Queens has a great artistic legacy. It’s the heart of a lot of things that have happened creatively throughout the twentieth century, and probably before that as well.” He laughs, “It’s amazing we have to work as hard as we do to emphasize that!” For whatever reason – its sprawling size, diverse neighborhoods that seem like worlds unto themselves, lack of creative interaction between communities, or complete absence of traditional music venues – Queens unfortunately finds itself in the shadow of Manhattan and Brooklyn and their respective art and music scenes. “That’s the thing we keep asking each other over the last few years: why is it so hard to get that kind of thing going here [in Queens]?” Rodriguez says. “It’s a tough business – venues come and go, it’s part of the cycle of artistic life. But given how many artists live in our community – because they can’t afford to live in Manhattan or Brooklyn – it’d be nice to have more places where they can ply their trade in the neighborhood, and I’ve been saying that for a long time.” These quintessential questions and concerns are those that drive much

of Rodriguez’s work in Queens and for Queens – aside from his general love of “seeing things happen.” “I can’t emphasize this enough,” he implores. “If you have a good idea, any kind of good idea that’s art-related, I’d love to hear about it. I love seeing things happen, especially in our neighborhood – any excuse to get something happening. I don’t care if I make money off of it most of the time! I just want to see it happen. If your passion is there and you really want to grow something and build an artistic community in any of the disciplines, whether it’s writing, dance, poetry, painting – there is a way to do it. It’s just a matter of having the will and the willingness to ask, that’s the first thing – and that’s kind of how I ended up doing what I’m doing.” Gus Rodriguez remains open to the possibilities while steadfastly pushing forward with his ever-growing list of projects and pursuits. At this juncture, the night comes to a close with his gig at Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights, performing rootsy rock and roll under his musical pseudonym, Silbin Sandovar, in live collaboration with longtime pal Jonny Meyers for the first time. Patrons fill the cozy and clearly well-loved space, offering gracious applause. But then something interesting happens – while Gus and Jonny, who have never played together before, are making their own music, a few African musicians – who happen to be in-house after playing a gig down the street – spontaneously join them in a multicultural musical improv, adding their traditional hand drums and kora (a 21-string bridge-harp) to the rockers’ pair of bluesy voices and acoustic guitars. This quite magical, local musical occurrence couldn’t be anymore apt. Literally right before taking the stage, Rodriguez shared one of his greatest wishes for Queens, which involves the borough truly embracing what makes it special. “What I think can happen

in this neighborhood, as opposed to other neighborhoods in the city, is – if we could create more of a situation where different cultures are mingling in an artistic form - we could see some really unique things happening. What kind of cool hybrids could we come up with that would be so distinctly our own, if we embrace and open up and actually create spaces and stages where people can do their own thing?” Our borough needs positive, enterprising locals like Gus Rodriguez to keep reaching out and asking questions. The importance of nurturing – and believing in – what exists here in Queens cannot be underestimated. “I am very optimistic,” Rodriguez says, “that’s why I do what I do. I still think there is tremendous opportunity here.” And in his usually humble but hopeful fashion, he adds: “I’m only one person, but I’d love to see more people run with [these ideas], and take the ball.” Yes, this true Queens creative may be only one person, but as history – local and otherwise – has proven, that’s all it takes to start a little revolution. We’ll meet you on the frontlines, Gus. It’s Queens

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 35

entertainment

Scenes From the JHPF’s First Tuesdays

Photo Credit: Kenneth B. Goldberg

36 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

literary

Queens asserts its literary authenticity By Audrey Dimola

P oe t s , pl ay w r igh t s , n ov e l i s t s , lecting writers from a pool of rolling really, really special.” essayists, and scribes of every genre, submissions of fiction, non-fiction, age, culture, and walk of life are poetry, plays, and novel excerpts. This characteristic of unpretentiousamongst us every day, but unfortuness is one we can certainly apply to nately, with a glaring lack of inde- “I feel like the readings that are avail- our sprawling borough as a whole, pendent bookstores and a very small able in the city and Brooklyn – by as Queens is often described with a handful of reading series and palpable sense of authenticity, a meet-up groups alive and kick“realness” that doesn’t quite exShahob’s Theology ing, Queens-based writers seem ist in the same way in any other Poem by Richard Jeffrey Newman to remain largely out of touch part of New York City. The JackMy son asks me if I believe in God. with each other as well as the son Heights Poetry Festival’s I tell him no. He doesn’t ask me why. local opportunities available to monthly First Tuesdays reading Instead, he tells me he thinks God is dust them. Thankfully, though, the series at Terraza 7 (40-19 Gleane eclectic and humble – albeit Street), which opens each evefloating on the wind, watching us sometimes too humble – Queens ning with an open mic followed and waving, though we can’t see him. This god, literary community is pushing by a single featured reader, is Shahob continues, created nothing—except, forward, unconcerned with esalso a refreshingly down to earth maybe, himself—and he is not lonely, tablishing itself as a trendy scene literary affair. Host Richard Jefor sad, and so we laugh, picturing him or comparing itself to Manhattan frey Newman, a writer, poet, (I let the question of god’s gender pass) and Brooklyn, but instead with translator, and college professor fostering as much writerly inter- lounging at a Hollywood poolside, drink in hand who was born in Queens and (my five year old imagines orange juice), connectedness as possible across has lived in Jackson Heights wearing precisely the gun metal blue our widespread borough. since 1997, took over the series in September 2012 from JHPF’s sunglasses Shahob can’t not wear to the beach. The wheels have slowly but surefounder, Marina Yoffe. Newman And when someone does notice god is there, ly begun to turn in several new had previously been involved in he or she saunters over, says hello, ways, and this is following, of the festival by organizing quarhigh-fives god if he raises his hand, course, past literary initiatives terly literary salons at The Garand walks off happy into the rest of the day. like appointing a Queens Poet den School in Jackson Heights. --published in Poetry in Performance 2008 Laureate (currently Sunnyside’s Paolo Javier), or Queens Council “From what you can judge from on the Arts’ multicultural Queens in the way, which are great – there’s an three months, it’s been really quite reLove with Literature (QUILL) series, exclusivity to it,” Zilelian-Silak says. markable,” Newman says of this new which celebrated language and works “If you don’t have a book published beginning to the series, which was in translation. In the past year or so, or you’re not semi-well-known they also recently written up in the New three monthly reading series have don’t even want to hear from you.” Of York Times. He echoes the sentiment been established in Astoria, Jackson her own reading series, she remarks, that attending a reading in Queens is Heights, and Sunnyside, and in 2012 “Although there definitely is a submis- markedly different from elsewhere in Queens also saw the much-celebrated sion process and I have rejected quite the city. “If you look at Brooklyn and launch of what is most likely its first a few submissions, I wanted to create you look at Manhattan, there are pros official literary journal, Newtown a forum that was going to help writ- and cons to being a ‘scene.’ I kind of Literary. At the head of the pack was ers present their work, and to support like the fact that this is a neighborAida Zilelian-Silak, who founded the them in their endeavors.” The writers hood reading series – people don’t Boundless Tales reading series back of Boundless Tales, about eighty per- come here to pose, people are not here in September of 2011. Proudly born cent of which are from Queens and for ego.” First Tuesdays’ attendees and and raised in Queens (hopping from many of whom are reading publicly open mic participants are comprised Forest Hills to Jackson Heights to for the first time ever, are treated to a of a wide range of talents, both those Astoria and then back to the Heights different kind of experience: “There is that have been published and those once more), the writer and English something very down to earth about who are just beginning to pursue the teacher stages Boundless at Waltz- it,” she says. “I think it’s unpreten- craft. Like Boundless Tales, many step Astoria (23-14 Ditmars Blvd) on the tious, and in the same breath, I feel up to read their work for the very first third Thursday of every month, se- like the quality of writers up there is time. “A lot of the people that I have www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 37

literary met here – they’re just writers,” Newman reflects. “They make their living as writers, they haven’t gone to school to learn how to be writers – I think that’s something very valuable, and it would be a shame if that got lost.” Newman and Zilelian-Silak are not the only crusaders brandishing pens and microphones in an effort to help Queens writers embrace – and be confident in – their own local literary greatness. Tim Fredrick, a writer and teacher at Queens Paideia School who has been living in the borough (in Astoria, Jackson Heights, Long Island City, and now Elmhurst, to be exact) since 1997, started a meet-up group for local writers in an effort to connect. “I realized that there is a lot of great writing happening in Queens that doesn’t really get acknowledged as coming from Queens,” Fredrick remarks. After reflecting on his experiences with the meet-up group and readings like Boundless Tales, he was encouraged by its founder to pursue his idea for a Queens-focused literary journal. Fredrick went on to receive offerings of support from all he approached about it (and even from those he didn’t know), and following an open call and 133 diverse submissions, the final result was Newtown Literary, whose second open call for work – fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, essays, and book reviews – runs from now through February 2013. “I certainly had no idea that we’d get the response that we got, just both in terms of people who want to help out and also the number of submissions,” Fredrick says. “We got a lot of submissions from people of different ages and different relationships to Queens, from people who were transplants, people who were immigrants, and also people who have just lived here their whole lives. And we had several seniors who sent us work, some of which was hand-written.” Fredrick hopes to expand the organization he founded to publish the journal, the 38 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

Newtown Literary Alliance, into publishing chapbooks or anthologies, offering low-cost workshops, and doing events. He stresses the importance of Queens writers needing to meet each other and meet their audience, as well as networking and getting the help they need to promote themselves, which he himself offers to fellow writers. Tyler Rivenbark is another local proponent of taking the solitary experience of writing back out into the world, fostering community and establishing connections within the borough and beyond it. Originally from North Carolina, playwright and Queens College professor Rivenbark is a founder of the Oh, Bernice! reading series in his Sunnyside neighborhood, hosted at Cafe Marlene (41-11 49th St) on every third Saturday between September and June. The series came out of a Queens College writers collective of the same name formed about three years ago, and since opening the series to the public this year in addition to their core group of “Bernicians,” they’ve found support from Queens and NYC writers alike through word of mouth and an experimental, collaborative spirit. “We don’t just want people to have a drink, hear a couple readers, and then go home and never come back,” Rivenbark says. “We really do want to engage in that kind of dialogue and community where people feel like they’re a part of this family we’re creating. That’s been the biggest thing to benefit us – allowing that type of conversation to happen with people who come in. And we’re always so excited when we have people we don’t recognize [attending the readings].” Whether taking in a reading in Sunnyside, Jackson Heights, or Astoria, or perusing a newly published local lit mag, it’s plain to see that Queens has, as Tim Fredrick says, “a broader range of experience that gets relayed in writing.” There is something extremely special in the words of its

multicultural, multitalented residents, but it seems they need to give themselves – and each other – a chance. “Honestly,” Zilelian-Silak says, “I’d like to see a lot of Queens writers be a little more forthright about wanting to present their work, and have more guts.” A change in perspective also seems due for those still looking outside the borough for inspiration or acknowledgement. “I think that’s the biggest thing we have to recognize,” Rivenbark reflects, is “we have Local Literary Resources Boundless Tales boundlesstales.blogspot.com Jackson Heights Poetry Festival’s First Tuesdays jacksonheightspoetryfestival.wordpress.com Newtown Literary newtownliterary.org Oh, Bernice! ohbernice.com

all these artists around us - we don’t necessarily need to go out to these other places to find people. I think a great way of getting attention [for the arts in Queens] is by connecting those artists the best we can, and by bringing that attention about by ourselves instead of waiting for someone to notice.” Queens writers: there are others out there like you, right here in your own borough, who are searching for a place to talk, share, workshop, and just plain enjoy the fruits of literary labor – and the people to do it with. It’s about connection – transforming these existing pockets of community into a greater local literary whole that fosters, nurtures, and challenges our dear Queens writers to reach out, stand up, and realize their fullest potential. However – it needs support, it needs submissions, it needs conversations and collaborations and brave writers and readers willing to do it. It starts with you. Tell us – what’s on It’s Queens the next page?

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 39

IQ FICTION The Moth Moves On

Aida Zilelian-Silak

(Excerpt from “A Passing Season”) Niche Magazine - September 2012 issuu.com/nichelit/docs/niche_no2

“Have you seen Ashod?” I asked. “He’s swimming,” she said. “He should be back soon.” “He’s been gone a long time,” I said. “My mother’s worried.” “How long has it been?” she asked. “I don’t know,” I said. “You’ve been sitting here longer than I have.” I hadn’t meant to, but I sounded like I was accusing her of something. “I’m not wearing a watch,” she said, almost defensively. I could tell that suddenly she was concerned. She put her hand on her forehead like a visor and peered at the ocean. “I don’t see him. But that doesn’t mean anything. He could have swum to shore not too far from us. You know how the ocean can drift you.”

40 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

I knew she was right. There were many times when I would go swimming, and when I would come out I wouldn’t spot my family right away. Sometimes I would have to walk for a while before finding them. It had scared me the first few times. “I hope you’re right,” I said. We stood up and were quiet for some time. We stood by the water, waiting for Ashod to emerge, his hair plastered across his face, wearing a satisfied grin. “It’s not like him to disappear for this long,” I said finally. Emma stayed quiet. My father came over to us. “Your mother said Ashod has been gone for a while?” “Yes,” I said. “We’re standing here looking for him.” “Did he say how long he’d be?” my father asked, turning to Emma. “Not really,” she said, pools of tears in her eyes. Time did not stop for me, but grew very still. While my mother alerted the lifeguards, and motorboats sped out looking for Ashod, I stood in the very same spot until night came. I watched the sky turn colors, unmoved by the magenta streaks across the sky, the deep indigo that shone from the bright stars I ignored. Even after hours of waiting on the sand, well after night came, I stood with my mother and father, Emma, my cousins and aunts and uncles staring at the ocean, waiting for the loud, angry waves to deliver my brother from the depths of the waters where he had disappeared. They never found his body. I imagine his limp figure washed up on the shore. I imagine it is daylight, and the dim sun rising shines on him indifferently. They searched for his body for a week, and declared him missing.

The candle’s flame gathers shadows, leads them in a dance, a movement that ends with love, that keeps on moving as love becomes the rhytm, and you the fire, and the dance, the life you’ve chosen to make your loving possible. These words were to be for the fact that we’ve continued as we are, for the gravity holding where we are joined, but the dance has not allowed it; and should your days move me when I’m gone into the margins of what you see clearly, read these lines for what they do not say. Read them and love.

Richard Jeffrey Newman Originally published in Thanal Online, vol 2 #3: www.thanalonline.com/issues/07/poems13b_en.htm

Scenes From the Boundless Tales Series

Photo Credit: Jen Wu www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 41

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entertainment

Ten Local Reasons To Brave

The Winter Weather! by Audrey Dimola

We know how easy it is to slip into sweet, sweet hibernation mode when you’re faced with freezing rain, apocalyptic snowfall, or just plain cold – but not this time! Here’s a few fun local reasons to see something besides your laptop, television screen, or apartment walls this winter, and maybe, just maybe, even get a head-start on some new year’s resolutions.

Go Ice Skating

This one’s a no-brainer! Grab some friends and enjoy this classic chilly pastime in two ways right here in Queens – and without getting stuck in an overcrowded tourist trap. You can try skating in a bubble at NYC’s only rooftop rink, City Ice Pavilion, located right off the 7 train in Long Island City/Sunnyside (47-32 32nd Pl), or take the 7 a bit further down the line to the World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (131-35 Avery Ave). Both rinks are open everyday, offer private lessons (if you want to get fancy), hockey programs (if you want to get rowdy), and special rates for groups and parties. In general, aside from any spills you take on the ice, it’s minimal damage – both rinks are just $5 on weekdays, $8 on weekends/holidays, and $5 for skate rentals. 44 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

Attend (or sign up for) an open mic

What’s better than an open mic? A multi-genre local open mic that fosters true creative community. Cozy and comfy yet well-equipped, Waltz-Astoria (23-14 Ditmars Blvd) has been running its open mic for the past seven years, currently on Tuesday and Wednesday nights (sign up at 7:30pm, show at 8pm), and it shows no signs of slowing down. Actors, singers, writers, comics, musicians, spoken word artists, and more step up to what is usually a packed house, but always a supportive crowd. Proprietors Song and Pedro Gonzalez have enjoyed seeing countless individuals either continue growing as artists or begin their careers on the Waltz stage, so why not join the family and go on next? If you’re not into performing you can just show up to support, and most likely come away with a fuzzy feeling of pride for – quite possibly – your new favorite people. Drinks (alcoholic and non), sandwiches, and treats available, too.

Try some Hot Yoga (or Hot Vinyasa, or Hot Pilates…) If you truly loathe the cold and would rather commune with your fellow yogis instead of a lonely treadmill, perhaps you should consider trying the several hot class options at The Yoga Room in Astoria (38-01 35th Ave) and LIC (10-14 47th Rd). Hot classes like Hot Yoga (featuring Bikram-style 26 postures), Hot Yoga Flow (which mixes in additional postures), Hot Vinyasa (a dynamic flowing practice), and “Hot Bodies” Hot Pilates take place in a room heated from 95 to 105 degrees, so it’s kind of like exercising in a sauna. The higher temperature increases blood flow and burns calories while sweating out toxins and aiding in flexibility. It’s an experience like no other, but if you’re not into the added kick of extra heat or would rather work up to it, The Yoga Room offers many other options for yoga and Pilates students of all levels, seven days a week, in both locations. www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 45

activities

Get hands on No, we’re not going to play you “Unchained Melody,” but we are absolutely going to recommend you get involved in the lovely multicultural community at the spacious BrickHouse Ceramic Art Center (10-34 44th Dr) in LIC. Anyone at any skill level can walk through their doors and benefit from meeting new people, developing or

honing their skills, and spending time crafting art with their bare hands – which, in this increasingly fast-paced world, is really quite special and relaxing to take part in. A full range of classes are available during the day or evening, and students can learn to make functional pottery (like plates, cups, bowls, etc.) or sculpture at vari-

Enjoy some live music

46 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

ous levels, from beginners up through advanced students and professional artists. BrickHouse director Ellen E. Day also organizes the yearly Clay Fest (which you should look out for in 2013), a citywide open studios event in which people all over NYC can get well-acquainted with the vibrant ceramic community that exists here.

Our borough isn’t blessed with traditional music venues, but thanks to some enterprising locals that’s never stopped us from making it work. Queens classic LIC Bar (45-58 Vernon Blvd), with its original tin ceilings and antique wood, has always been a welcome haven for standout sounds. You’ve got four days a week (Sat, Sun, Mon, and Wed) to grab a brew or just enjoy the evening, featuring local Queens and NYC talent alongside national acts and top-notch curated showcase nights with various themes – including “Queens of Queens” featuring original lady-musicians from the borough - dedicated John Lennon and Elvis tributes, or a rollicking Rolling Stones cover night. Did we mention there’s a private carriage house out back with its own fireplace?! And lucky for you, starting in the new year LIC Bar’s popular fireside reading series (think ghost stories, classic radio programs, and live musical accompaniment) will make a much-anticipated return.

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 47

activities

Run away with the circus Here’s the part where childhood dreams, restless adulthood, or ambitious new year’s resolutions come into play. If you’ve ever wanted to train like a circus star – soar through the air on the flying trapeze, balance and tumble like an acrobat, scale flowing aerial silks to dizzying heights – then LIC’s Circus Warehouse (53-21 Vernon Blvd) is your new playground. Founded by Suzi Winson, Gino Farfan, and Michelle Arvin, the 8,000-square-foot space with its towering 30-foot tall ceilings and full trapeze rig will excite athletic practitioners and performance enthusiasts of all sorts. Beginners and drop-ins are welcome but it’s easy to get addicted, and because the Warehouse offers classes taught by actual circus pros, their homegrown stars have gone on to work with major productions around the world. If you’ve got the gumption (and the tights) – this could be you!

Bring art to yourself and/or your kids Did you know that there’s a conservatory for music and art nestled in the ground floor of a building on a main Astoria drag? Multi-talented couple Jane and Micah Burgess founded Art House Astoria (23-35 Broadway) as a nurturing space for both children and adults to stretch their creative wings with music, dance, writing, and visual art. There’s something for nearly every age bracket to try – tots 6 months to 2 years can rock and roll with their parents to themed classes like 90s grunge and glam rock; 3 to 4 year olds can learn basic music theory by playing on Little Red Pianos; and kids 9 to 15 can realize their Glee fantasies by singing and dancing in Show Choir. Both you and your kids can take individual guitar or

48 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

painting/drawing classes, and adults can get a little creative writing in as well. Art House also hosts an open mic night and a faculty cabaret, but for full info on programs give them a call or check their Facebook.

activities

Play video games in a museum?!

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first digital video game by literally playing your way through a history of gaming at Astoria’s own Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Ave). Their Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off exhibition is comprised of more than 20 playable (!) games ranging in platform, genre, and developer. Fullsize arcade versions of Space Invaders and Asteroids, Yar’s Revenge on Atari 2600, Galaga ’91 on Game Gear, Star Fox on Super Nintendo, on up through Halo 4 on Xbox 360, and of course a playable simulation of Spacewar! on a model PDP-1 computer...what are you waiting for?! Special programs relating to Spacewar! will also run while the exhibition is on view, and after you mash buttons for awhile don’t forget to geek out over the rest of this oneof-a-kind museum’s kaleidoscopic displays, multimedia, and cinematic memorabilia.

Get your drink on - winter style Take your usual booze cruise off autopilot and mix it up with some wintry drinks that are sure to combat the chill in your bones. If you’re in Astoria, pop by Sweet Afton (30-09 34th St) for a classic spiked hot cider with your choice of spiced rum, bourbon, or apple brandy, or stop in Pachanga Patterson (33-17 31st Ave) to snag a Canelazo, a traditional Colombian beverage made of panela (sugarcane) and water boiled with cinnamon – it’s

typically served with Aguardiente (firewater) but can alternatively be paired with your choice of brandy or spiced rum. If you’d like to give LIC a try, Manducatis Rustica (46-33 Vernon Blvd) offers an egg nog martini (with vanilla vodka), a caramel kiss (with caramel vodka, marshmallow, and Godiva), in addition to good ol’ hot toddies and several varieties of hot cocoa that are perfect to cozy up to their fireplace with.

And finally… Have a snow day!

Yes, we said it! Should global warming relinquish its dreaded grasp and grant us a generous dusting or a nutsy blizzard this season, please heed this last piece of advice: drop the shovel, stop grumbling for at least a few hours, and give yourself permission to have some fun. Romp around in sprawling Astoria Park, careen down the big hills in LIC’s Rainey Park on a sled, smash someone in the face with a snowball… Yup. You’re welcome. It’s Queens www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 49

Queens Seen

Remembering What Was Lost in Breezy Point Usually, Queens Seen focuses on a gala or an awards ceremony, but we felt it fitting this issue to remember the havoc that Sandy caused in Breezy Point, and send our wishes for a quick and full recovery. (Photos: Michael O’Kane)

50 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 51

Entertainment Calendar A Roundup Of All The Cool Happenings In Queens

January 2013 Tuesday, January 1 Exhibition: Jamaica Bay Landscapes Celebrate the beauty of our very own Jamaica Bay through the eyes of Queens photographer, Rosalie Frost. This event at the Queens Botanical Garden is free with general admission. *runs through January 12 | Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., Flushing. Dreamworks Animation Exhibit Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy will never be looked at the same way again with the vision of Dreamworks Animation’s ‘Rise of the Guardians of Childhood’. This art exhibit includes a time-lapse video presentation, digital and handdrawn original artwork and an inside look at the filming process. For more information visit the Museum of the Moving Image website. *runs through March 3 | Museum of the Moving Image, 3601 35th Ave., Astoria. Spacewar! Discover the vast history of video games, spanning over the past 50 years, and get a unique look into some of the games that have shaped the world of digital entertainment. Visit the Museum of the Moving Image website for more information about ‘Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off’ about this exhibition. *runs through March 3 | Museum of the Moving Image, 3601 35th Ave., Astoria. Online Community Forum The Queens Library is looking for help to find improvements and gain a better grasp on the community’s needs for the New Year. They are asking library members and stakeholders to point out people,

programs and places that are important to Queens. Comments and posts must be submitted by January 2. Visit the Queens Library website for more information. | Queens Central Library, 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Queens

Staywell If you’re 55 or older, The Queens Library is helping stay true to your New Years resolution by providing healthy alternatives for taking charge of your body and health. * The group meets every Wednesday morning from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. | East Elmhurst Library, 95-06 Astoria Blvd. East Elmhurst Computers For Older Adults Seniors seeking assistance with developing their computer skills will learn to create documents in Microsoft Word, work in a “window” and other basic computing proficiencies. *Each Wednesday in January from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. | Lefrak City Library, 98-30 57 Ave., Corona

Relaxation and Meditation Time Find your mantra with the Queens Public Library as they light candles, play relaxing music and set a much-needed calming mood each Tuesday in January. @ 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. | Seaside Library, 92-25 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Rockaway Beach Wednesday, January 2 Sunny Bunnies Children from 3 to 5 will have the opportunity to explore nature in an up-close experience with animals, hiking nature trails and a variety of crafting projects. Visit the Alley Pond Environmental Center website for more information. | Alley Pond Environmental Center, 22806 Northern Blvd., Douglaston

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Picture Book Time Parents and caregivers are invited to bring all children from 3 to 5 years of age for a morning of stories, songs and crafts. * Every Wednesday from 11:15 a.m. noon. | McGoldrick Library, 155-06 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing Toddler Story Time Children from 18 – 35 months and their parents or caregivers are invited to a morning of songs, picture books and games. *Every Wednesday and Friday from 11:15 a.m. - noon. | Forest Hills Library, 108-19 71 Ave., Forest Hills

Senior Theatre Active Repertory Senior citizens are invited to join the Senior Theatre Acting Repertory (STAR). Contact the Queens Public Library for more information. *Every Wednesday through March 13, 11:15 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. | Hollis Library, 202-05 Hillside Ave., Hollis Knit and Crochet Club Knitters and crocheters of all skill levels are invited to learn and teach. *Every Wednesday from 1 – 3 p.m. | South Ozone Park Library, 128-16 Rockaway Blvd. South Ozone Park Monthly Jazz Jam Professionals, graduates, educators and studying jazz musicians are invited to come out for an evening jam session. Visit the Flushing Town Hall website for more information. Tickets are $10 and free for performers, students and members. *Every first Wednesday of each month from 7 – 10 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing Thursday, January 3 Devil Science Theater 3000 Come out to the Laughing Devil Comedy Club for a unique movie experience with a lineup of local comedians each week. The first film of the year is “The Black Six”. *runs every Thursday at 10:30pm | Laughing Devil Comedy Club, 4738 Vernon Blvd. Long Island

City. Picture Books Children from 3 to 5 years old and their parents or caregivers are invited to sing, hear stories and more. *Every Thursday in January from 3:30 – 4:15 p.m. | Forest Hills Library, 108-19 71 Ave., Forest Hills Saturday, January 5 Animal Care Trainee Bring the children, 8 to 12, for a chance to be a temporary animal care specialist with APEC for a hands-on experience with real live animals. Tickets are $21 dollars and $15 for members. @ 10 a.m. – noon. | Alley Pond Environmental Center, 228-06 Northern Blvd., Douglaston Saturday, January 12 Star Safari: Astronomy Adventure Look through the lenses of professional outdoor telescopes and gaze upon the constellations, nebulas and deep space that make up the often-misunderstood and underappreciated night sky. Dress warm and join Mark Freilich, APEC astronomer for the last 16 years, as he takes you through the depths of outer space. Visit the APEC website for more information. Tickets are $10 for members, $12 for non-members and $7 for children. @ 7 – 9 p.m. | Alley Pond Environmental Center, 228-06 Northern Blvd., Douglaston Young Chefs Children from ages 7 to 12 will learn the art of grilled cheese sandwiches and banana splits. Entry for the event is $24 and $18 for members. Visit the APEC website for more information. @ 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | Alley Pond Environmental Center, 22806 Northern Blvd., Douglaston

Recycle your old cell phones and broken electronic devices at the Queens Botanical Garden’s 10th Annual “After the Holidays” Electronic Waste Recycling Event. Visit the QBG website for a full list of recyclable materials. *runs from 10am – 4pm | Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main St., Flushing.

Tickets are $40. @ 8 p.m. | Qeensborough Performing Arts Center, 222-05 56th Ave., Bayside

Friday, January 25

Taller de Tango Learn the art of the Tango with the Thalia Theatre. Fees are $150 for all 7 weeks. *Runs through March 16. Beginner classes are from 4 to 5 p.m. and intermediate classes are from 4 – 6 p.m. Visit the Thalia Spanish Theatre Website for more information. | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 41-7 Greenpoint Ave., Sunnyside

Cultural Breakout: Music Fundraising Event Come out for a night of local musical acts and help support the library. @ 6 pm. | Lefrak City Library, 98-30 57 Ave., Corona Afro Tango For lessons in African Roots through music and dance, join the Thalia Spanish Theatre every Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Tickets are $34 for students, $32 for seniors and $30 on Fridays. *Program runs through March 17. Visit the Thalia Spanish Theatre website for more information.| Thalia Spanish Theatre, 41-17 Greenpoint Ave., Sunnyside Saturday, January 26 Scientifically Speaking: Winter Snow Globes Adults and children 9 and older are invited to the Alley Pond Environmental Center for an afternoon of scientific experiments, crafts and fun. Tickets are $18 for members and $24 for nonmembers. Visit the APEC website for more information. @ 1 – 3 p.m | Alley Pond Environmental Center, 228-06 Northern Blvd., Douglaston

Los Pieneros de La 21 Interactive Workshop Learn about the Puerto Rican culture with an evening of drumming, singing and dancing. Tickets are $6, $4 for children and free for members. @1 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing Electronic Waste Recycling

February 2013 Saturday, February 2

February 8 APAC Workshop There will be a performance of the musical, ‘Gone Tomoro’, written by Timothy Murphy, music by Galt MacDermot and directed by Tom Wojtunik. Visit the Astoria Performing Arts Center website for more details. There is a suggested donation of $10. *runs from through February 16 | Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent St., Astoria.

Rob Schneider Live! Most known for his character comedy acts with Saturday Night Live and numerous Happy Madison films such as Grown Ups, You Don’t Mess With The Zohan, Mr. Deeds and Eight Crazy Nights; the three-time Emmy and Peabody Award winning comedian, Rob Schneider, is a comic legend.

Peking Acrobats This ancient art-form will be brought into the 21 century as the Peking Acrobats take the stage with 25 years of high-flying and breathtaking acrobatic experience. Tickets are $20 - $35. @ 7pm | Kupferberg Center at Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing. Saturday, February 23

Tuesday, February 12 Winter Blood Drive It is the season of giving, and there is no better way to give back to the community than donating blood at the Alley Pond Environmental Center’s annual winter blood drive. There is a free babysitting service available for donors with children. *runs from 2 – 8pm | Alley Pond Environmental Center, 228-06 Northern Blvd., Douglaston. Saturday, February 16

Sunday, January 13

Friday, February 22

Flamenco Vivo Join the swirling & high intensity dance act for a night you won’t forget. Flamenco Vivo, one of the County’s most notable Spanish dance acts, will perform dazzling dance styles & showcase their cultural roots at the Queens Theatre. @ 2 and 8pm, and @ 3pm on February 17 | Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Donnie McClurkin His raspy tenor voice has won him a number of awards in the gospel world, including; Grammy, Dove, BET, Soul Train and NCAAP Image Awards. To truly appreciate this artist’s talent, come out to the Colden Auditorium at Queens College. For a night you won’t forget. Tickets are $20 - $30. @ 8pm | Kupferberg Center at Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Flushing.

March 2013 Saturday, March 16 Literary and Art Contest Come out to APEC’s 34th Annual Arline Thomas Literary and Art Contest. Prizes will be given to children who show exemplary work. *exhibit runs through February 2014 | Alley Pond Environmental Center, 228-06 Northern Blvd., Douglaston. Saturday, March 30 Barnyard Easter Egg Hunt Bring out the family and celebrate Easter with the Farm Museum at their annual egg hunt. Tickets are $5. @ 12 – 4 p.m. | Queens County Farm Museum, 73-50 Little Neck Parkway, Floral Park

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 53

Historic Queens

Queens Home is a Look Back in Time 54 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

Some people dream about fairy tales, but not Marion Duckworth Smith —she lives it.

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 55

M

ost people don’t end up living the life they always dreamed of, but on a cold November night in 1979 Marion Duckworth Smith was drawn to the historic home of Michael M. Smith, her nowlate second husband. Smith had come into possession of the home, but used it as a warehouse and lived in Manhattan. To impress the then-Mrs. Duckworth, Smith invited her to see his cemetery, a small private burial ground that sits on the property. She instantly fell in love with it. Following their wedding in 1983, she began her lifelong passion of restoring the old home. “When I was a kid, I wanted to fix up an old house and live in it,” Smith said of the home, which was once used to house soldiers 56 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

Historic Queens

during the Revolutionary War. “This was my little girl’s storybook dream come true.” The home, built by Abraham Riker in 1654, is officially known as the Lent-Riker-Smith homestead. It has seen only four owners in its incredible 350-year existence, and stands today as piece of history, otherwise unrecognized next to LaGuardia Airport’s Marine Air Terminal on the south side of the intersection of Hazen Street and 19th Avenue in East Elmhurst. “Our life together in this house was like a fairy tale,” Smith said of her late husband, who died in 2010 and was laid to rest in the very cemetery he took Marion to see that night in 1979. Her first step before embarking on her restoration project was to research the vast history of the home and truly www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 57

capture it’s unique past. She used wide-planked pine beams from the barn on the property to restore the living room, dining room and hallway floors, which were damaged in a fire in 1950. And Smith spent years redesigning her “Romantic Garden,” the one-acre landscape surrounding the house, adding an array of new plants, a gazebo, a gingerbread house and a wedding cake-tiered Victorian fountain. “Michael always called this Paradise Acre,” Marion recalled. “But it’s al58 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

ways been my enchanted cottage. It has been a labor of love.” After Michael passed, Marion continued restorations to the property, including the addition of her antique collections and continuing her enthusiasm for the building’s history. (When Smith first moved into the house she found numerous ledgers, wills, diaries and photos that documented the daily life of the Riker family. The majority were donated to the Brooklyn Historical Society.) Smith has vowed to never give up

on the home, rebuilding and adding to the architectural legacy of the historic homestead. During Hurricane Sandy, her gazebo and fountain were destroyed when a fourton tree fell in front of her home. Her handyman of 30 years, Mike Cavaliere, who originally built the gazebo, called to inform her that he would rebuild it at no charge. “With that kind of support, I can’t give up,” she said. To find out more about the LentRiker-Smith Homestead, visit Smith’s website at www.rikerhome. com. You can also check out her book about the house and her restorations to the property, titled The Romantic Garden. It’s Queens

www.itsqueens.com  Winter 5.1 2013 • 59

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Blogs of Queens Queens Politics queens-politics.com Audience: Borough Political Junkies Queens Politics is an oft-updated blog devoted to bringing its readers analysis of politics in Queens and occasionally the tidbit of insider information, often with an anti-establishment bias.

Why Leave Astoria WhyLeaveAstoria.com Audience: Astoria Lovers If you love Astoria (whether you live there or not), chances are you’re a member of the bloggish social networking site WhyLeaveAstoria. com. Why indeed, when there’s so much to do; the popular site features upcoming events of all kinds, throws great parties, and serves as a forum for groups of like-minded individuals.

The Newtown Pentacle newtownpentacle.com Audience: People Interested in Issues Surrounding Newtown Creek Over the past decade, this long-overlooked (and neglected) waterway separating Brooklyn and Queens was a natural disaster. But thanks to people like Mitch Waxman - the creator of The Newtown Pentacle - the creek is starting to get a little love, and a federally mandated cleanup is underway. Heck, even if you don’t care a lick about Newtown Creek, you should visit this blog just to check out the stunning photography, which is some of the best we’ve seen in a while.

Sunnyside Post sunnysidepost.com Audience: People With an Interest in Sunnyside Sunnyside Post is an active blog with the most up-to-date information on local happenings and news in the neighborhood of Sunnyside.The blog recently added a couple of writers, so the posts have been getting increasingly longer and more in-depth. 66 • Winter 5.1 2013  www.itsqueens.com

Queens MaMa’s queensmamas.com Audience: Mothers (and Fathers, too) For a mother in a borough the size of Queens, finding healthy and wholesome activities to do with the kids can be an overwhelming and duanting task. Enter www.queensmamas.com. This website does all of the work for you, giving you thousands of ideas, activities, and events that will be fun for the whole family. (Yes, even dads, too.) The site was founded by Leni Calas, a Queens native who raises her two daughters in Astoria. Queens Mama’s receives thousands of visitors per month, and in 2010 won 1st place in the Queens Economic Development Corporation’s StartUP! Business Plan Competition.

Jeffrey Tastes iwantmorefood.com Audience: Adventurous Eaters There’s people who are passionate about eating, and then there’s Jeffrey. The man behind Jeffrey Tastes celebrates all the great culinary experiences that Queens has to offer, and urges you to get involved as well, planning food tours for readers of his blog.

Queens Buzz queensbuzz.com Audience: Queens Lovers If you need a quick snapshot of what is going on across the borough of Queens, then Queens Buzz is for you. While a little rough around the edges, the blog is a great way to get a quick look at the myriad of events and happenings that are going on around the borough. The site also offers suggestions for shopping and dining out, all broken down by neighborhood.

Project Woodhaven projectwoodhaven.com Audience: People Who Are All About Woodhaven If you want to know what is going on in Woodhaven, then you have to be tuned in to the ProjectWoodhaven blog. More than just a blog, it’s actually a clearinghouse for all sorts of information about Woodhaven across a variety of platforms.The site will post not only news and events going on the neighborhood, but videos and other media, as well.

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It's Queens Winter 2013