s t ’ I
QUEENS PLUS: TOP 5 VINTAGE SHOPS, BEST MUSIC VENUES & MORE
FALL 2015 | Volume 7.2
READY TO MAKE NOISE
THE BEST SLICES IN QUEENS
COMEDIANS Fall 2015
Get more from Medicare
THE MAGA ZINE
Walter H. Sanchez
Executive Editor When it comes to your health and prescription drug coverage, you can get more with a Medicare Advantage plan. I can explain your choices to help you get more from Medicare. That way, you can get a plan that fits both your budget and way of life. I guide people to Medicare plans that help fit their lifestyle. Let me help you better understand your Medicare options so you can find the right plan for you.
Holly Bieler Patrick Kearns Jen Khedaroo
Art Direction/Graphic Design Shane Miller John Sanchez Jen Khedaroo
Call me today.
Karen Taylor 917-684-6208
Volume 7 Number 2 – Fall 2015
Calling this number will direct you to an independent licensed insurance agent. 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., 7 days a week/Mon. – Sat.
Taylork5@aetna.com NR_0009_5204 5/2015
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 ©2015 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 email@example.com . Subscriptions are $7.95 per year. Inquiries for subscriptions - Mail to PO BOX 780376, Maspeth, NY 11378. (718) 6v-7000. www.itsqueens.com
On the Cover: Adrianna Mateo (Photo: Karsten Moran) 2 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com1 aetna_24526_NP-Age_In_Broker_4.889x11_v03a.indd
7/16/2015 3:11:15 PM
Free Mobile Banking! *
We’ve always been Local, now we’re Mobile
Mobile Banking is available to all consumer Online Banking customers. With our enhanced Mobile Banking app you can: • Deposit checks from your mobile device (subject to approval) • View account balances • Transfer funds between linked accounts • View and search transaction history • Pay bills
How to Enroll Enroll directly from your mobile device! Search Maspeth Federal Savings in your app store. Online Banking customers can also enroll through Online Banking.
Not a Customer? Now is a great time to switch! Our online switch kit makes transferring to Maspeth Federal Savings hassle free. ANDROID APP ON
* Standard charges from your cell phone provider may apply for text messaging or Mobile Web access. Only available to consumer accounts.
56-18 69th Street | Maspeth, N.Y. 11378 (718) 335-1300 | maspethfederal.com
QUALITY DANCE EDUC ATION IN A NURTURING ENVIRONMENT 55-19 69th Street • Maspeth 718.416.1725 /firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial advice you can trust. Now that’s something to smile about.
As a fee-only advisory and money management firm in Maspeth, NY, MTP Advisors provide unbiased financial counsel – no products or hidden motives. We provide financial advice you can trust.
MTP Advisors Financial ServiceS
69-64 Grand Avenue | Maspeth, NY 11378 • (718) 898-0871 • www.mtpadvisors.com • email@example.com
4 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
Contents 15 The It’s List FEATURES
It’s Queens ranks the Top 15 Comedians keeping the borough laughing.
26 Slices of Life
We hit up eight well-known pizza joints and ranked them to find the Best Slice in Queens.
35 Adrianna Mateo
With a recently funded Kickstarter campaign, Adrianna Mateo is ready to take the music world by storm.
40 Feeling Used
Queens is a treasure trove of second-hand goods, and we found the Top 5 Vintage Shops.
53 The Whole Borough’s a Stage Queens is quickly becoming a happening music scene. Here’s the Top 5 Live Music Venues.
What’s hot and what’s not in Queens.
8 Made in Queens Stolle Bakery brings a taste of Russia to Long Island City.
12 Technology Some Queens app designers could save the city’s taxi industry.
The literary scene in Queens in the authors’ own words.
A rundown of the hottest things happening this spring & summer. www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 5
Photo: Karsten Moran
The Tech World is Embracing Queens
e can’t get over the innovation in the tech industry in this borough. Even a quick search through Google for Queens tech news shows a host of new companies taking root every month. And we’re not talking about the guy in his basement who is developing an app. We are finding small businesses that are putting a good deal of money and effort into development and marketing. Check out the Patrick Kearns piece on Arro, an app being developed in Queens that might just be the magic bullet to help save the legacy cab companies. Speaking of the tech front, Time Warner Cable is one of those companies that continue to invest in tech education for our growing youth population. They just donated $50,000 for a Tech STEM Center at the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Queens in Long Island City. TWC opened the center in late November and the impact of that grant has been immediately seen, as the kids at the club are being innovative every day after school with iPads, laptops and mobile devices provided by the cable company. Now that’s how you promote a whole new generation of tech-minded kids.
controversy. We have the guts to do it and we’re not going to back down on our Top Slices. New Park anyone? For this issue, we also found Five Thrift and Vintage Shops that are worth your while. Sorry eastern Queens, on this front western Queens has the edge. Be sure to check out our favorite, Sunnyside’s Stray Vintage. Our own Jen Khedaroo does a piece in this issue about how Queens residents with a passion for writing have found support through workshops and writers’ groups. From poetry to novels, the Queens writing scene is quite robust.
Tennis Stadium as a Top Live Music Venue. We picked it as the top spot, but we also have four others where you’re sure to find some quality entertainment.
She also has a profile on the work of Columbian-born Claudia Marulanda, whose “Wonder Woman” work has created some cool buzz around the borough. Anyone who follows our news organizations is aware of how much we love the Forest Hills
Walter H. Sanchez Publisher
With nearly 2 million people in Queens, we are bound to have some great comedians, right? We sat down with some of those funny people for our It’s List, the Top 15 Comedians in Queens. Personally, I have known Ridgewood native Chris DiStefano since his days on the basketball court at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn. From Guy Code to his work on MSG’s The Bracket, Chris has never failed to make me laugh. Any way you slice it, rating pizza in Queens is going to raise some 6 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
Just some of the equipment in the new computer lab at Variety Boys & Girls Club.
Queens Buzz A quick rundown of what Queens residents are talking about, as well as what they no longer care about.
With rents rising across the city, so has the rise of reported cases of tenant harassment and evil landlords doing anything they can to push longtime residents out. Services have even popped up, offering landlords quick tenant evictions for a cost. The reason? Force out rent-controlled tenants, renovate the apartment building and turn it into market-rate housing (and in turn, a profit). Areas like Ridgewood, which has seen an influx of development and gut renovation, are facing a multitude of cases like this. Fortunately, elected officials are beginning to fight back. In the past few months, they’ve been holding rallies to draw attention to the issue and they even introduced legislation that would make tenant harassment a criminal act.
Everyone wants a piece of Queens these days. The Madison Square Garden Company is the latest to eye Flushing Meadows for a massive music festival, after reported interest over the summer from AEG, a rival company annually responsible for the Coachella Music Festival in California. MSG has already filed for permits seeking permission from the city to bring a three-day festival to the nearly 900-acre public park. With two major companies duking it out to bring a premier music festival to the borough, it almost feels like an inevitability. And although Borough President Melinda Katz has come out in opposition to the proposal, maybe a headlining slot after Fetty Wap for the Queens’ preeminent Elected Official/Vocalist (sorry Congressman Crowley!) might just change her mind.
The fall of 2015 started to feel like the fall of 1986 before it all came crashing down at the hands of some baseball team from Kansas City. Still, the Amazins gave everyone across the city baseball fever, and for a second the team that’s so often played second-fiddle to the Yankees took over town. The plus side? The Mets did it with stellar young pitching. This wasn’t a team cobbled together for a one-and-done playoff run, but a team likely just starting a run of success. Don’t put those Mets shirts away just yet, because the way things are looking, Queens residents might be proud to rock the blue-and-orange for a long time to come.
It seemed you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing the public transportation woes of the outer-borough residents in the early half of 2015. But with news of Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo agreeing on a plan to fund the MTA’s capital budget, it seems like all that worrying was unnecessary... for now. Of course, the same old concerns will emerge soon enough, but it’s been months since an elected official rallied under the 7 train or called for increased ferry service. Even CitiBike has made its way into the borough, giving residents another way to get around.
WAR ON UBER
This summer, Mayor Bill de Blasio – much to the pleasure of the yellow cab industry – tried to take on tech startup darling Uber. The results were disastrous for the de Blasio administration. Throughout Queens and other boroughs, billboards supporting Uber drivers began to pop up. You couldn’t drive a mile in any direction without seeing some sort of advertisement for the for-hire taxi service. An important, but hard lesson was learned: government can’t fight against the capitalist machine it created. Uber, with it’s disposable monetary resources won. The mayor, relying solely on the power of words, couldn’t compete. He vowed it wasn’t the end of the fight to regulate Uber, but the administration has yet to make a peep about the company since then.
Comparing Rockaway in July and Rockaway in November doesn’t even feel like you’re talking about the same planet, let alone the same neighborhood. In the summer, there are lines at the Cross Bay Bridge toll booths that sometimes stretch down Woodhaven Boulevard all the way to Jamaica Avenue. The A train is packed, the beaches are crowded and there are food stands, pop-up bars and live music every weekend. In November, there’s, well, Healy’s is still open at least. Rockaway residents themselves will tell you how much more depressing the beach-side community is in the winter, but that doesn’t stop them from trotting out their Hampton Cruisers and at least trying to find a semblance of nightlife. www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 7
MADE IN QUEENS
FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE STOLLE BAKERY BRINGS A RUSSIAN FAVORITE TO LONG ISLAND CITY
Queens is routinely praised for its deeply diverse array of cultures and the cuisine is no exception. You can travel a mile in any direction and experience the native tastes of a dozen cultures. In Long Island City, there’s a new contender for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and it’s time to start thinking outside the classic fast food meal and check out Stolle Bakery. The pies made fresh daily at Stolle Bakery are the perfect New York City meal: they’re great for someone on-the-go and are filling enough for a full meal or perfect for a coffee break. With a new Long Island City-based location, residents all over the city will soon have a chance to try a pie from the chain which was founded in Russia in 2002. Irina Belska, the Latvianborn woman who brought Stolle to America, hopes that the residents of Queens and New York City will welcome Stolle and their Europeaninspired pies – both savory and sweet – with open arms. “We decided just to enter New York because this is the big area where a lot of startups happen and a lot of the taste happens,” said Belska. “We hope that our pies will be accepted and the clients will love it.” Located inside the Falchi Building at 31-00 47th Avenue, which is becoming a new hub for small vendors, all of the pies are baked fresh each morning. There’s a small window and storefront to act as a mini-retail point for anyone looking to pick up a pie on their way home or on their lunch break. Behind the counter through transparent glass the entire production process is 8 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
on display for anyone who walks by and wants to see recipes that are generations old be
prepared fresh every day. It’s that sort of rare peek behind the curtain that helps new customers ease into something that they might have previously been afraid to try. There are no secrets at Stolle, just fresh ingredients.
“Our idea is to develop very quickly around New York City and maybe to the other coast,” Belska said. Belska hopes people will give the pies a chance. She also welcomes feedback from customers. Some have already tried the pies and come back a second time with their positive feedback. “I hope that people will accept our brand and I hope that people will like our brand,” she said. “We are very appreciative and very lucky that they’re coming back to us and telling their feedback.” This is the first location in the United States, but Stolle Bakery already has a long-established tradition in Europe. The first cafe opened in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2002. It began as a
BY PATRICK KEARNS
small restaurant that served traditional cuisine, but it was their pies that stood out. After they began to catch on, Stolle expanded to multiple locations throughout Moscow, Kiev, London and other parts of the Russian Federation. Now, Stolle has found a home in the most diverse county in the United States, and its menu is as diverse as Queens, too. There’s an array of meat pies, with fillings including ground beef, rabbit and chicken. And for the pescatarian in the family, there’s salmon pie and a cod-and-pike pie. The list of sweet pies is even longer, with fillings that include cherry, cranberry, lemon, strawberry and blueberry, to name a few. “Everything is made with love as a grandmother would [make],” Belska said. “Everything is baked in the morning fresh with no preservatives, no frozen fruits and ingredients.”
Hey Brooklyn & Queens, need a morning news buzz? Get caught up with all the latest news and trends before you even leave the house.
Just send your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com (Don’t be the last to know the major news topics of the day.)
Best wishes for a holiday season celebrating with family, friends, and of course...
10 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
THINK YOU MAY HAVE A HEARING LOSS?
Galaxy Note 3 Welcome to the world of Android. To date, the Galaxy Note 3 has pushed smartphone 718842448686 boundaries, offering up a multi-platform world with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart-watch, S Pen and a highly Our Personalized Services Include:functional processor. BEAUTIFUL GIFTS AND • Comprehensive foraway Adultsby andthe Children While cameraAudiological buffs may Services be blown in house TREASURES FOR EVERY OCCASION! 13-megapixel rear camera and 1080p video capabilities, • Hearing Aid Consultations and Fittings this phone also comes with a • Hearing Aid Batteries and Accessories Waterproofing wide range of camera and digital • Hearing Protection, Musician Plugs accessories that makes it well Sony Xperia ZR above an everyday device. We accept the following insurance: If you’ve ever left your phone $749.99. BCBS, 1199,(or Fideliscare, Aetna, Empire, United Healthcare, in your bathing suit32BJ, pocket Cigna been pushed intoand themany hotellocal unions. swimming pool) you are in luck Specs: ComeAndroid visit our renovated office at: with the expansive mar-newly Processor: LTE 2.3 GHz Quad-Core ket’s latest waterproof creation. Hearing Technologies Center Processor/ 3G: 1.9 GHZ Octa Core Processor The Sony Xperia ZR touch87‑15 37th Avenue Display: 5.7 inch (144.3 mm) Full HD screen HD design offers up Heights, a Jackson NY 11372 Super AMOLED (1920X1080) 13-megapixel camera with 16x OS: Android 4.3 your appointment at digital zoomCall and today full HDfor video Camera: Main (rear): 13 megapixel BSI Sensor, auto focus camera with Smart (1080p) recording capabilities. 718‑507‑5200 Stabilization LED Flash and Zero Shut$499.99. 72217 GGND AVENUE MASPETH, NY 11378
CamKix 12x With this 12x telephoto CamKix lens and hardcase/mini tripod package, smartphone users can transform their daily selfie-taking into fullfledged professional photography. Accessories for include the full gamut of fisheye, macro and wide-angle options. $57.99.
CALL TODAY TO SCHEDULE YOUR BETTER HEARING CONSULTATION
ter Lag/ Sub (front): 2 Mega-pixel BSI Dr. Avivawith Kagan, sensor Smart Stabilization, Full HD Au.D, CCC-A recording at 30 fps. Technologies Center Audiologist Video: Recording and Playback: Full HD (1080p), UHD © 2015 Starkey. All Rights Reserved. 5/15 35651‑15 Audio: Codec: MP3,AAC/AAC+/eAAC+ WMA, AMR-NB/WB, Vorbis, FLAC, WAV Memory: 32/ 64 GB user memory + microSD slot Battery: Li-ion, 3,200mAh Additional features: Samsung Galaxy Gear: 800 MHz processor, 1.63-inch display, 1.9 megapixel camera with video and audio capabilities. S Pen: air command, action memo tool Group Play: share music, pictures, video and documents S Voice™ Hands Free, S Health
CamKix 20x For professional phototakers only. This high quality 20x telephoto lens for the Samsung Galaxy S3 includes a mini-tripod, hard case and microfiber back with a cleaning cloth and one-year warrantee guarantee. $89.98.
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 11
QUICK AS AN IS A NEW APP DESIGNED AND BUILT IN QUEENS THE MAGIC BULLET THAT WILL SAVE THE CITY’S TAXI INDUSTRY? Hailing a taxi in New York City the old-fashioned way is becoming a lost art with the rise of e-hailing. But that doesn’t mean the iconic yellow taxi is about to fade from city streets. Arro, a Long Island City-based taxi app that utilizes technology also developed in Long Island City by Creative Mobile Technologies, is combining the two, giving drivers and riders a safe way to continue doing business. “Arro is a taxi app and a startup tech company born and raised in Queens,” said Michael Woloz of Connelly McLaughlin and Woloz, a spokesman for the app. “Arro’s developed cutting-edge tech that pairs passengers with yellow or green taxi cabs. No fees, no surge pricing.” The app utilizes the technology already in 8,500 taxis that was developed in Long Island City by Creative Mobile Technologies (CMT). CMT has installed its product, dubbed FREEdom Solution, in cabs across multiple countries, 40 cities and 26 states. Its goal is to save taxi owners thousands in costs upfront
12 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
and provide a new way to drive revenue to existing cab companies. It gives them an opportunity to stay afloat with the myriad startup taxi-for-hire services that contract drivers. The app works simply: users input their payment method then start booking cabs. Woloz said that Arro has two very distinct advantages over competing apps like Lyft and Uber which utilizes for-hire drivers as opposed to cityregulated cabs, including no surge pricing and the safety and security of riding in a cityregulated vehicle. It also allows passengers that hailed a cab the oldfashioned way to pay right from the app without having to find their wallet or make sure they have enough cash. “A high volume of yellow and green taxis can respond to passengers who would like to e-hail a metered yellow or green taxi that they know is not going to surge price them,” Woloz said. “And that they know provides a safe and secure ride, as yellow taxis have been doing for 100 years.” According to Woloz, Arro
BY PATRICK KEARNS
has the lowest wait time of any taxi app and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far. He said that passengers love the convenience and novelty of having a city cab come pick them up in front of their office or home, even if it’s on a side-street in a quiet treelined Queens neighborhood. It’s not just the community of riders that have embraced the technology either, but the drivers, who now have a new avenue to connect with passengers at all times of the day. It doesn’t force them to go out seeking passengers or congregate in the busiest parts of the city. “It’s really a powerful tool for not only passengers, but drivers as well,” Woloz said. “Drivers are embracing Arro in a way that I’ve never seen the driver community embrace a particular technology before.” Currently, Arro is available only in New York City, but expects to expand soon to San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C. Woloz said that Arro provides yellow and green cab drivers with more opportunity than other professional drivers
in the city while allowing them to continue to do exactly what they’ve been doing all along: legally pick up passengers. “What Arro has done for drivers is pretty incredible,” he added. Another thing riders and drivers can take solace in is that the technology is as local as local gets, with both the app and the cab technology coming from Queens’ new tech hub in Long Island City. For many years, everyone’s associated Long Island City with the yellow cab industry. There are a multitude of side streets packed with parked cabs and a number of the city’s cab operations are headquartered in the neighborhood. But with rapid change and growth happening, a new type of community is beginning to call Long Island City home: the technology industry. There may even be a new boon, with the opening of the Cornell Technology Campus at Roosevelt Island opening in 2017. “LIC has long been a hub for the taxi industry and it is now becoming a hub for the tech industry,” Woloz said. “We’ve bridged both of those great
MORE VARIETY TIME WARNER DONATES TECH LAB TO CLUB
The Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens recently unveiled a new state-of-the-art computer and technology lab in Long Island City. Funded by a $50,000 grant from Time Warner Cable, the lab has new computers, software programs, tablets, smart boards and more. Executive Director Matthew Troy said all of the club’s students, nearly 200 a day, will at some point use the equipment. “This really fits into my vision, just really upping the game for our program quality here,” Troy said. “We want our STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs to be amongst our most recognizable programs that we offer.” In addition to boosting the quality of its afterschool programs, VBGCQ will be starting its own robotics team, thanks to the Time Warner Cable grant. Troy thanked the community partners involved in putting together the lab, including TWC and several universities in the area. “This is their way of giving back to the community,” Troy said. “They’ve recognized Variety Boys and Girls Club of Queens as an able partner in the community, a hub for kids from schools throughout the area.” One of the community partners is LDI, a digital solutions and technology company. Brian Gertler, its senior vice president, was excited to bring new technologies to the club. “The most significant thing Variety and Time Warner Cable has done is never lose sight of the children,” Gertler said. “It’s not only the minds, but the hearts we’re touching. We hope to see these kids grow with their amazing talents and possibilities.” Gertler gave a tour of the lab and explained some of the technology behind it. He said he insisted on bringing the arts to the center, which now has new cameras and software programs for students to create and edit photography. He
hopes to grow the program and the opportunities for students at the club. Kitty Prager, a board member of VBGCQ, said a 14-member committee put together the plan to build the center. She had strong praise for the community partners. “Your tremendous generosity will help the wellbeing of not only the kids, but the Astoria community,” Prager said. She added that the lab will allow the kids to have the preparation they need, but don’t always have access to. Lina Klebanov, a community investment manager at Time Warner Cable, said this is the 19th learning lab opened since 2011. Time Warner Cable’s goal is to open 40 labs by 2020. She said Time Warner Cable decided on this particular site
because they already had an existing relationship with VBGCQ. After she came for a site visit, the conversation for building a lab began. “I saw the lab that they had, and I thought that their equipment was old,” Klebanov said. “And they serve so many kids they could benefit from a Time Warner Cable learning lab.” She said the program’s main criterion is need. They look for diverse populations in dispersed locations that need the new technology to maximize the impact of the labs. The program also looks for physical spaces that can house the computer centers. Because Time Warner Cable is a cable company reliant on technology, Klebanov said investing in the future of the workforce is vital to the company.
By Benjamin Fang
“We want to invest in STEM education so our kids, who are our future, can come and work for Time Warner Cable and continue to make our programs and our company the amazing company that it is,” she said. Other nonprofit organizations that also have a Time Warner Cable learning lab include Korean Community Services in Flushing and the Easter Seals in Manhattan, which serves seniors and veterans, according to Klebanov. She said the next lab opening will be with the Chinese-American Planning Council in Flushing. “We pride ourselves through this program on donating to a very diverse group of organizations,” Klebanov said. “They’re all very different, but they have one common goal of serving people in need.”
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 13
Grand Florist W e A p p r e c i At e Yo u r pAt r o n Ag e
Our Grand Community, For Over
BQE 2D: Scan this to visit our Business Directory
65-37 Grand avenue | Maspeth, nY, 11378
deliverY in all Five BorouGhs
14 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
While Manhattan’s always been known as the go-to borough for comedy shows, new venues like Q.E.D. and The Creek and the Cave are challenging the notion that worldclass standup requires a trip on the 7. And with the influx of fantastic new stages and a burgeoning comedy community, many of the city’s greatest comedic talents and most promising newcomers now call Queens home. Here, we round up the borough’s TOP 15 COMEDIANS, from industry veterans to new acts generating a ton of buzz.
SODER For Dan Soder, the move from Tucson, Arizona, where he’d graduated from college and had some success on the open mic circuit for a couple of years, to New York City in 2007 wasn’t a hard choice to make. “I’d outgrown Tucson,” he said. “It’s just awful. It’s hot and the people are mean and all the animals have venom in them. It’s not a good place. I was like ‘you know, f--k it, I’m going to move.’” The decision to focus full time on a comedy career was a dream Soder had harbored since childhood. “Since I was a little kid it was something I was drawn to,” he said. “I just liked it. To me it was almost like watching a magic trick. I thought these guys just went up and were hilarious just by talking. Then when I became a bigger fan of comedy and realized how difficult the jokes and bits were to write, I liked it even more.” Soder picked up from the desert and moved to New York City, sleeping on a friend’s couch for six months before eventually settling in Astoria. “It’s the best comedy scene in the world,” he said. “I knew every comedian I really loved and respected was working in New York City, or came through New York or had been in New York. I knew I could get on stage a lot, and I knew I needed that.” It’s been eight years since his move, and Soder has enjoyed success both in TV and in standup, currently a cast member on MTV’s popular Guy Code with fellow Top 15-er Chris Distefano, performing on Comedy Central’s The Half Hour, and appearing on Conan and radio show
By Holly Bieler
Opie and Anthony. He’ll also be shooting an hour-long special for Comedy Central in December, to premiere next year. As of July, Soder can also add radio host to his resume, having just launched “The Bonfire With Big Jay Oakerson and Dan Soder,” a live Comedy Central Radio SiriusXM show with close friend and fellow comedian Jay Oakerson. “It’s awesome,” he said of the show. “It’s just the two of us getting paid to make each other laugh.” Check out “The Bonfire” on Comedy Central Radio Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m., and check out his hour special on Comedy Central next year.
CORRAO Astoria comedian Lisa Corrao’s first exposure to late-night comedy came early. While other kids were staying up past their bed times with a flashlight and comic book in tow, Lisa’s latenight antics comprised of listening to Johnny Carson. “My dad was always a fan of standup,” she said. “So my mom would fall asleep super early thinking her children were in bed, but we would stay up with my dad and watch late-night sets on David Letterman and Johnny Carson. He would cook, and it was like we were having this whole party.” Despite her early fascination with the craft, Corrao didn’t pursue it for years, opting instead to become a 6th grade public school teacher in her native Miami after graduating from college. “I was a hilarious teacher,” she said. “I would tell the kids, ‘wait and see, I’m going to be a standup www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 15
THE IT’S LIST comedian.’ And what they didn’t know was I actually wanted to do it.” On a whim, Corrao decided to take a comedy course after seeing a flyer at a venue, and performed surprisingly well during the classes’ graduation in front of an audience of over 300. “The first time I was lucky in that I was funny,” she said. “So I was like ‘this is amazing. I never want to do anything else.’ The first time you don’t realize you do have a lot of rough sets, so I had this great beginning then I realized oh, I have to figure out how to do this consistently and how to write a joke and how to perform, and all these other things.” Corrao began hitting open mics after her initial performance, and soon found herself experiencing a major career high after performing just two times on stage. For her third performance, the mother of one daughter auditioned for the Nick at Nite comedy competition The Search for the Funniest Mom in America, and snagged a featured spot. “It was insane to start comedy that way,” she said. “Here I’m a brand-new comedian and I’m being flown to perform at
A lifelong writer, Astoria comedian Paul Oddo didn’t even consider trying comedy until he was 21. However, having cracked up people for years with humorous essays and short stories, one night his friends urged him to adapt his talents to the stage. “My friends were like you should try doing standup,” he said. “So we went to a comedy show and I saw it all go down and I was like well, this isn’t so far-fetched.” Soon Oddo began frequenting open mics, taking a unique and decidedly literary approach to developing his first sets. “I took it from a very nerdy perspective,” he said. “I loved George Carlin, so I basically just watched his acts over and over again, wrote it all out and then tried to replace my words with his sentence structure.” And while he enjoyed success early on, Oddo said that for years he felt his style was too rigid and rehearsed, until a fellow comic suggested he try improv classes. Oddo soon began traveling to New York City for a week at a time from his hometown of Houston, taking classes at Upright Citizens Brigade, practice that would ultimately help alter his stand-up 16 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
a club in New York City. I was thinking, ‘I can’t believe I didn’t start comedy when I wanted to.’” Corrao ultimately made it into the contest’s top 10 finalists, and after that initial success, returned to learning comedy basics. “The story gets less exciting after that point,” she said. “It became more about really learning the craft, which was very important to me. To really become good at it is like anything else, you’ve got to put in the time and really learn how to do it properly and write like crazy and get as much face time as possible, and I love that.” Since, Corrao has performed at a host of comedy festivals, including Comedy Central’s South Beach Comedy Festival, the Women in Comedy Festival, and The Boston Comedy Festival, and has recently launched a live webcam talk show “Our Big Apartment Show” with fellow comedian and roommate Wendi Starling, which is shot from their Astoria apartment. Check out Lisa on “Our Big Apartment Show” atourbigapartmentshow.com, or on the “It’s Eric Nagel” show on Sirius XM, on which she’s a regular guest. style and catalyze a new passion for improvisation. “I found out I really enjoyed doing that so I’ve sort of always done both,” he said. “It really did help my standup, and it’s helped make me who I am.” Oddo finally made a permanent move to New York City in 2007, developing a career that has included winning the Boston Comedy Festival in 2012 and features at festivals like the Out of Bounds Comedy Festival and SXSW. And despite his comedic success, Oddo has still maintained his first love of writing, with a new collection of short stories, comedic essays and illustrations soon to be released, along with a new comedy album in the coming months. “I’ve always wanted to incorporate all those things together and live an artistic life,” he said. “It’s all about creating things and having something to show for my efforts.” Look for Paul’s new comedy album and book in the coming months, which will be sold together.
BERG While comedian Aaron Berg’s varied career has run the gamut from writing (his second book, Modern Manners: Proper Etiquette for the Modern Degenerate, was released last year) to acting, including an appearance in the sequel to Boondock Saints, perhaps the most unique accomplishment of his decades-long career took place in September, when he broke the world record for most comedy shows performed in one night. The astonishing tally at the end of that grueling mid-
September day? 25. “It was very surreal,” he said of the feat, which began with a show at Long Island City mainstay The Creek and the Cave at 4 p.m. and took him to venues across the city for the next 11 hours, ultimately breaking the record at 3 a.m. “Some of the shows were outstanding, and then I had one where there was three people from the Netherlands in the audience who had no idea what I was saying.” For Astoria resident Berg, that he was even able to pull off such an ambitious feat speaks to the nature of New York City’s comedy world. “There’s nowhere else in the world you could do that,” he said. “That’s how vibrant the scene is here.” Check out Berg’s album Comedy Coltrane.
LIST H a v i n g performed a set on The Late Show with David Letterman last year, and recently premiering a half-hour special on Comedy Central just last month, perennial comics’ comic Joe List is c u r r e n t l y enjoying a career high many say has been long deferred. Amidst his success, however, List can still recall his humble first encounter taking the stage some 15 years ago in his hometown of Boston. “I was terrible, but I got laughs,” he said. “I was also an 18-year-old nerd just out of high school in a bar with a bunch of old drunks, so they were probably just being supportive.” Since that first Fenway performance, the Astoria-based comedian has gone on to a lauded career that has included such highlights as the David Letterman performance, and making it to the semifinals of Season 9 of Last Comic Standing. As of 2013, he’s also a co-host with best friend and fellow comic Mark Normand of the tremendously popular weekly podcast “Tuesdays with Stories.” “We have a blast,” he said of the podcast. “I get to just hang out with my best friend for an hour and we kind of just try to make each other laugh. We’ve had people come up to us and say we hate our jobs, and you help us get through work.” “Tuesdays with Stories” can be downloaded on iTunes.
The daughter of a comedy devotee, Astoria comedian Stacey Prussman grew up listening to Richard Pryor and Joan Rivers, but her first foray into stand-up only occurred well after she’d established a career as an actress. It wasn’t until 2002, when she was asked by a friend to co-host a comedy night, that she took a stab at the medium. “I wrote a few jokes, and it went decently,” she said. “I had been doing comedic roles before so I was kind of doing standup without doing it. So it wasn’t a disaster, thank God.” Within months, Prussman was quickly beginning to book shows around the tristate area, and soon transitioned into focusing on standup as her primary career. Now a regular on radio staples like the Howard Stern Show and the Emmy award-winning PBS show Great Places to Live, Prussman’s career comprises a diverse body of work. In addition to her stand-up and radio appearances, she regularly speaks on eating disorder and body image issues at college campuses, and has recently created her own podcast, “The Stacey Prussman Hour.” “I’ve just been having different friends over, and we just talk and figure out what’s going on in their heads,” she said. “It’s really fun. I have a great time.” Now a 13-year stand-up veteran, Prussman says the biggest change in her career has been the risks she’s willing to take. “The risk taking is what excites me now,” she said. “I take the risks and get the laughs and that makes it more exciting.” www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 17
THE IT’S LIST
ALBERSTADT The only Southern native on our list, Nashville native-turnedAstoria resident Keith Alberstadt first began making people laugh in college, working the open mic circuit after dabbling in comedy the summer after he graduated high school. “I always loved watching comedy,” he said. “I love the creative process of constructing a joke and making it work. Seeing people doing that well through the writing process and performance, I took a liking to that early. I knew I wanted to do that early on.” Upon graduating from Vanderbilt, where he refined his comedic chops on a sports radio show, Alberstadt began focusing even more on his comedy career, taking advantage of the burgeoning comedy scene in the region at night while working a 9-5 during the day. After five years, he decided to commit to his craft full time. “I knew it was kind of a sink or swim, that I couldn’t do it anymore while still having a job,” he said. “I realized I had to pick one or the other, so I decided I’ll try it, because I can always come back and try something else. But luckily it worked out.” After five years of touring, Alberstadt decided to make the move to New York City in the spring of 2006. “I love the road, but I wanted to elevate my career to the next level and I’d heard good things,” he said. Since the move, Alberstadt has experienced stage and
18 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
writing success, including contributing to Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, as well as performances on Late Night with Seth Meyers and The Late Show with David Letterman. He notes the latter feat as one of the defining moments of his career. “It was honestly a blur,” he said. “It was one of those things where it was like let’s just have fun with this, and it happened, it came and went, and it was awesome. There’s no other word to describe it other than surreal. I think that’s the one word comics would use to describe being on Letterman.” Catch Alberstadt live at the Comedy Cellar, where he regularly performs, or on his soon-to-be-released comedy album, which he’ll be recording in Nashville this month.
ALEXANDRO For Bellerose native Ted Alexandro, a fixture on the New York City comedy scene for decades, the drive to pursue stand-up came a little later in life. “I’d always been a fan [of comedy], but I didn’t necessarily think I’d be a comedian,” he said. “I always wanted to do something creative; I studied jazz piano in college, I was involved in art. I had kind of this winding route.” However, while an undergrad at City College of New York, Alexandro and fellow student Hollis James, still Alexandro’s writing partner to this day, began experimenting with writing sketch comedy and he was immediately hooked. “Once I started doing sketch comedy it kind of clicked,” he said. “This is something I really enjoy.” Alexandro began performing sketches with Hollis during the day and dabbling with open mics at night, but didn’t make the leap to pursuing comedy as a full-time gig for years. Instead, after graduating from City College, Alexandro pursued a Masters in Education at Queens College, teaching at public elementary schools throughout Queens for five years while trekking into the city every night after work to perform at clubs. The dichotomy of his day and night jobs became more pronounced as his career took off, reaching a surreal point when he left work one day to perform for national audiences on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Although he didn’t tell a soul at his school, a few parents recognized him the next day. “To be doing Conan at night and waking up to go teach in the morning was interesting, but it was also a realization,” he said. “I was starting to get some paid work, and I thought maybe it’s time for me to see if I can do this full time.” That was 16 years ago, and since Alexandro has experienced a slew of career milestones, including half-hour specials on Comedy Central, performances on most major late night shows, including The Late Show with David Letterman and
Make the choice that will change your life
Academically rigorous. Amazingly affordable. Truly global. • More than 170 undergraduate and graduate programs • An accessible, award-winning faculty dedicated to scholarship and research • Ranked in the top 5 for giving students the “Best Bang for the Buck” by Washington Monthly To learn more about Queens College, including visiting our campus, go to qc.cuny.edu/explore
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 19
THE IT’S LIST Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and appearances on TV shows such as Inside Amy Schumer and Entourage, in which he played himself. His teaching past has also come into play with his latest project, the comedy web series “Teachers Lounge,” produced and written with his college friend James, which is set entirely in a school teachers’ lounge and based off Alexandro’s five years in that profession. Each show is averaging tens of thousands of views, and has featured guest performances from the likes of Lewis Black, Dave Attell, Judah Friedlander and Michael Che. Alexandro and James are currently working on a TV pilot for the series, which already has funding and a producer attached. Called a “New York fixture as firm as bedrock,” by Time Out, Alexandro, who now lives in Astoria, says he loves helping out newer comics starting out in the city. “One of the nice things about the comedy scene here is the veterans that have been doing it a while help out the folks who are coming up,” he said. “Especially with my teaching background, its something I kind of take to. I like to pass it along.” Alexandro appears regularly at the Comedy Cellar, and lists all his appearances on tedalexandro.com.
DEVITO Astoria comedian Anthony DeVito remembers well the moment he realized he wanted to be a comedian, during a live performance by none other than the greatest of comedy greats, Richard Pryor. “I was a little kid and he was talking about really heady political stuff,” he said of attending a Pryor show while on a family trip to Las Vegas. “Then he did a bit on farts and [my mom and I] were both laughing and I was like, ‘this is amazing.’ I was blown away. I knew I wanted to do that.” And while he harbored a deep love of comedy since, DeVito decided on a decidedly different professional route after graduating from the University of Miami, becoming an architect at a New Jersey firm. However it didn’t take long, he said, to realize the job wasn’t the best fit. “A couple months into working at the first place I was like ‘oh shit, this is a big problem,’” he said. He quit his architecture job and worked for Habitat for Humanity for a year, during which he also took improv classes and began writing standup material, although he didn’t make it onto a stage for years. “Comedy is a thing that I held nearest to me,” he said. “For whatever reason, it clicked the most. That’s frightening, the idea of failing at what you love the most. That was a horrifying thought.” DeVito eventually conquered his fears, taking the stage for the first time at pal Greg Stone’s performance at a Montclair State fundraiser after another comedian didn’t show up. “I made [Stone] come up with me and stand in the back, which was kind of weird in front of 400 people,” he said. “I think the audience liked me, but I think they knew my story. This guy’s shaking, there’s another guy on stage with him, he’s 20 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
fumbling through everything, he’s apologizing after every joke he tells. I don’t think I even used my real name.” It took another four years after his initial performance before he decided to fully commit to comedy as a profession, moving to Astoria and hitting open mics throughout the city. Although his family was always supportive, he says they were nonetheless a bit surprised by his career shift. “I come from a pretty big Italian family who all talk a lot,” he said. “I’m a pretty shy guy, so they were just like ‘We didn’t even know you talked!’ You want to be a comedian? That’s crazy. But okay, sure, go for it.” Go for it he did, and since DeVito has enjoyed a range of successes including being named one of the “New Faces” at the 2012 Montréal Just for Laughs Festival, winning Caroline’s March Madness in 2015, and performing at festivals such as the 2014 Boston Comedy Festival and 2013 SF Sketchfest. He’s also appeared on TV Land’s The Jim Gaffigan Show. And despite six years in the business, DeVito says he’s still in awe of his job. “It’s work, but it’s also like, I write jokes and do them for a living, that’s the craziest thing,” he said. “To be able to do that, on paper it’s crazy that that’s a profession and that’s also the thing that I love. It blows my mind everyday.” Check out anthonydevitocomedy.com for upcoming performances, including a half hour at QED on December 12 at 8 p.m.
COBB For up-and-comer Angela Cobb, a regular at Astoria’s Q.E.D. and one-half of the popular monthly comedy show Fun Size and Venti Present at Bailey’s Corner on the Upper East Side, becoming a comedian was something she dreamed of pursuing far before she actually stepped up on stage. “Everyone in my family is funny in their own way and I grew up in an environment where being funny was encouraged,” she said. “So I’d always wanted to do stand-up. But it’s one of those things where in school you can do band, or you can do chorus, but there’s no stand-up club.” The opportunity to finally test her stand-up chops before an audience presented itself while she was a student at SUNY Oneonta, when two fellow students saw her perform slam poetry and asked if she wanted to take part in a school comedy competition. “That’s what helped me segue into stand-up,” she said. After numerous performances in Oneonta, Cobb made the decision to pursue a comedy career full time, moving to New York City after graduation and hitting the open mic scene. “What was good, was the first time I ever tried [an open mic] it went well enough where I was like, ‘okay I have a natural aptitude for this,’ but it also was challenging enough that I realized ‘okay, this is actually a thing, you can’t BS your way through,’” she said. That was five years ago, and since Cobb has performed in clubs throughout the city, was a semi-finalist in the 2013 SheDevil Comedy Festival, and is a co-star on the new web series
“A Hot Mess,” which just premiered on November 1. She’s also the host of stand-up and story-telling show “My First Time,” which details people’s experiences losing their virginity and will be back for a third show by popular demand at Q.E.D. on December 16. “I was a late bloomer and the circumstances were memorable,” she said, of inspiration for the show. “And it was during Hurricane Sandy.”
DISTEFANO For born-and-raised Ridgewood son Chris Distefano, a co-star of MTV’s perennially popular Guy Code and IFC’s comic hockey show Benders, the desire to try his hand at standup might have been born while an undergrad at St. Joseph’s, but it took years before he worked up the courage to actually step up on stage. “My friends were always like ‘oh, you should try it,’” he said. “But I didn’t have the balls to get on stage until I was closer to 25.” And while his first foray on stage at Long Island City’s The Creek and the Cave might not have been one for the books, Distefano says the experience made clear he should pursue his dream. “I definitely bombed,” he said. “But it was awesome. I didn’t care who laughed. I knew it wasn’t as funny as hopefully one day it could be, but I just wanted to get it off my chest and stand up there for five minutes to at least say I did it. And then I was hooked.” As he began to pursue comedy more passionately, in the beginning years of his career pragmatism took priority. “I knew how hard it is just to be a comedian and make a living at it and that it was going to take a long time,” he said. “I knew I needed a backup plan.” Armed with a doctorate in physical therapy from the New York Institute of Technology, Distefano began a full-time career as a physical therapist, heading straight to open mics to refine his craft as soon as his workday was done. “My schedule was wake up at 7 a.m., be at work until 4 p.m., do comedy from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m., and then wake up and do it all over again,” he said. As his comedy career began gaining traction and two years of the grueling schedule began taking a toll, Distefano said he realized he had a decision to make. “I woke up one morning and was like, ‘today’s the day,’” he said. Quitting his physical therapist job, in which he worked with the mentally and physically handicapped, was far from easy, he said. www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 21
THE IT’S LIST “It was really hard leaving them,” he said, adding he hopes to one day start a charity to give back to his former patients. “I’d love to go back and help the kids I worked with.” However difficult the decision to leave though, he said it was clear it was the right choice. “I realized I’ve got to jump both feet into comedy if I ever have a chance of making it,” he said. “And once I did that, things started opening up for me.” Almost immediately, Distefano’s career took off with an offer from MTV for a full-time gig on Guy Code coming the Thursday after the Monday of his last day of work. His career has been on a steady and steep rise ever since, landing another co-starring role on IFC’s Benders, which premiered last month, named in 2012 as one of Comedy Central’s “Comics to Watch,” and performing on The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night with Seth Meyers, among other programs. Despite his success for years now, Distefano says that he never takes the quick ascent of his career for granted. “I’ve realized I’m blessed and this opportunity is so rare and I appreciate it, but I also realize maybe there were a couple of steps I skipped,” he said. “I didn’t want to skip them, so I still do open mics, I still learn as much as I can. And I’m very aware that all this stuff is fleeting, it can go away at any moment. Just because you got there fast doesn’t mean you’re going to stay there a long time.” Amidst his humility and caution, however, Distefano still sounds in awe of getting a paycheck for making people laugh. “To know that my daughter’s going to be okay because of jokes is a really cool feeling,” he said. You can catch Chris on Benders every Thursday at 10 p.m. on IFC.
MCENEANY Rego Park native Liam McEneany remembers well the night he decided he would first attempt his lifelong dream. Deeply enamored with the comedy of Richard Pryor and Bill Cosby for years, 18-year-old McEneany made the decision on the fly after finishing a family meal. “It was Mother’s Day, and I had dinner with my family, and then I was like ‘okay, I’m going to try,’” he said.
McEneany jumped on a train downtown, adding his name on the list of performers at experimental performance venue Surf Reality (where fellow Top 15-er Christian Finnegan got his start). “When you’re 18, everything you feel is heightened,” he said. “I thought, if I’m not good at this thing that’s been a lifelong dream, I’ll never want to do anything else.” Despite his fears, his first foray into stand-up went surprisingly well. “It went alright,” he said. “It was a very safe place, there was no heckling aloud, and by the time I got on stage a lot of people were just drunk and high. I wasn’t good, but I knew I had something. It was like a key turning in a lock. Something clicked and I was like okay, this is me.” Afterwards, McEneany began hitting open mics throughout the city at night while working at a call center during the day. However, without any big prospects after years of work, McEneany says he was on the verge of quitting comedy forever when he got a call from VH1’s pop culture comedy show Best Week Ever. He had won the coveted role of a featured panelist on the show. Soon McEneany was performing his standup across the country in addition to performing on the show, eventually releasing the comedy album Comedian in 2013. He’s since gone on to dabble in different mediums, including producing a concert film, Tell Your Friends! The Concert Film!, which premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2011. He’s also the host of a lauded podcast, “Tell Your Friends! History’s Greatest Podcast!,” which has been singled out by publications like the AV Club. “The great thing about doing a podcast is it lets you talk to your friends for an hour,” he said. “When your friends are all successful and busy and you’re successful and busy too, it’s hard sometimes to find time.” Catch McEneany’s concert film, Tell Your Friends! The Concert Film! on Hulu, or his podcast on iTunes. He’ll also be releasing a new comedy special with New Wave Entertainment in the new year.
While lifelong Jamaica native Leighann Lord had been writing and performing throughout college, it took five years of working in corporate America to push Lord toward a career in comedy. “I hated it,” she said of her job in corporate communications for a chemical company. “I wanted something to get me out of the cubicle. So I thought, ‘what can I do that will make me happy?’ Stand-up combined the things that I enjoyed, so it seemed like a very logical thing to do. I jumped in and pursued it and have never looked back.” After attending comedy classes, Lord stepped on the stage for the first time on March 31, 1992, at the Comic Strip on 2nd Avenue. “Right before I went on stage the first time I was terrified,” she said. “I was like what am I doing, I’ve made the biggest mistake of my life. But then I got on stage and all of that went 22 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
away. I literally felt like I was walking into the most comfortable place I had ever been, and I still feel that way. I get on stage and life feels better from that direction.” Surprisingly soon after hitting the open mic circuit, Lord landed an agent after a fellow comic recommended her. Although she had less than an hour of material, her agent soon had her traveling across the country performing at colleges. “That was an incentive to work at it even harder,” she said. “As a comic, it was the push I needed. To be doing gigs where people actually handed me currency, I was stunned.” Lord went on to win the The View’s “Hilarious Housewives Contest” and her standup has appeared on HBO’s The Original Def Comedy All Star Jam and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend, among other shows. She has also written her own humorous book, Dict Jokes, which posits potential meanings for little-known words. Lord is perhaps best known as a co-host with American astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson of the popular “Star Talk Radio” podcast. “What’s particularly fun is I don’t have a science background, and he’s cool with that,” she said. “When we’re in the studio my face is a barometer for him. The less confused I look, the
better he knows his explanation is. He really wants to make it okay for people to not know.” Next up for Leighann is a new memoir about her life in comedy, Real Women Do It Standing Up, on which she’s currently at work. You can catch her live at Stand Up NY or download the “Star Talk” podcast on iTunes.
KONDABOLU Comedian Hari Kondabolu has a lot to brag about. In a career spanning less than 10 years, the Jackson Heights-born comic has performed on shows such as The Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live!, premiered a halfhour special on Comedy Central and worked as a writer and correspondent on FX’s Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. Kondabolu’s accomplishments outside the comedy stratosphere merit just as much boastfulness: he earned a masters in Human Rights at the London School of Economics in 2008, and was named NYU’s APA Institute’s “Artist in Residence” last year. However, of the array of entertainment and academic achievement from which Kondabolu could choose to boast, he seems most proud of something else altogether. “The Townsend Harris mascot is named after me,” he said of his alma mater’s “Hari the Hawk” mascot. For this Queens native, who lived in Jackson Heights and Floral Park before his family settled in Jamaica, the connection is nothing to scoff at. Townsend Harris is where he first tried his hand at stand-up, organizing a comedy night at the high school his senior year after years of traveling to Manhattan clubs to watch comedy heavyweights such as Patrice O’Neal and Louie CK. “Growing up in New York City taught me that it wasn’t just a magic thing where you wrote a joke and it was ready,” he said. “You saw people struggling with it a bit, working it out and then two or three months later it was perfected. As someone who idolized comics from a distance, I got to see the process of how the sausage actually gets made.” Despite the success of his high school comedy events, Kondabolu didn’t pursue comedy until years later, attending Bowdoin College after high school and later transferring to
Wesleyan, before earning his masters at the London School of Economics. What followed was a career as an immigrant rights organizer in Seattle, throughout which he performed at local venues as a hobby. However, everything changed when a rep from the HBO Comedy Festival saw one of his stand-up clips on YouTube, and booked him for the prestigious show. “I went from doing comedy as a hobby and not treating it seriously, working as a human rights organizer, to suddenly this passion I’ve had since I was a kid is turning into a reality,” he said. Shortly after he appeared in the festival he performed on www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 23
THE IT’S LIST Live with Jimmy Kimmel!, further catapulting his career. “All of a sudden I went from a popular local act in Seattle to somewhat of a national figure,” he said. “I was on TV and people had heard of me all of a sudden. It was very strange and amazing.” What’s followed are a host of late-night appearances and performances at some of the country’s biggest festivals, a comedy album released in 2014, Waiting for 2042, and the podcast “Untitled Kondabolu Brothers Podcast” co-hosted with his brother Ashok, one-half of musical group Das Racist. Amidst tours that have taken him around the world, Kondabolu’s affinity for his home borough hasn’t waned. “I’m very grateful when I go home,” he says of his parents’
house in Jamaica. “There’s something about the great diversity Queens has to offer. People have diversity training all around the country. We didn’t have training—we just grew up in Queens. There’s a certain base level you get from growing up with many types of people. It means something. “I’m starting to realize when people are worried about a future with more diversity throughout the country, they’re worried about turning into Queens,” he added. “Which is horrifying because Queens is great. When people are afraid of what a diverse future means for America being America, I don’t know what your definition of America is, because growing up in Queens it was so much broader. It’s not always the easiest, but we create something beautiful by living together.”
FINNEGAN Christian Finnegan didn’t grow up wanting to be a comedian. If anything, he said over coffee at Astoria’s Coffeed recently, he was a bona-fide “comedy disliker” when he moved to New York City to attend NYU in the 90s, quickly developing more of a kinship with the broody typewriter crowd than the open mic set. “In college I hated standup,” he said. “I was very black turtleneck. I wanted to be a writer. But I was one of those pathetic people that wanted to be a writer more than I wanted to write. I loved the idea of sitting at a café with my laptop more than actually doing the work.” That propensity led Finnegan to pursue a literary tract after graduating, interning at the Village Voice and later working as an assistant at a literary agency. However he says it didn’t take long before he realized he wasn’t cut out for a black turtleneck life. “When I was working at the agency I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “It occurred to me I just didn’t have the discipline to sit down and write a novel. I just didn’t.” Attempting to quell his uncertainty, Finnegan began taking broader advantage of the city’s cultural offerings, and while attending a chance performance at the Upright Citizens Brigade, began to rethink his idea of what comedy entailed. “Even though I’m not an improv guy, it was really refreshing to me,” he said. “I realized you can be funny and not have to be what I thought of as a standup. It just felt different to me. I felt like these were people I’d hang out with. Then I saw a Chris Rock special which made me laugh, and I started to give up a little of my pretense.” He made his first attempt at stand-up at an open mic at the now-shuttered Lower East Side experimental performance venue Surf Reality, famous for acts ranging from comedy to burlesque to vaudeville. “I did great the first time because it was stuff I had been thinking about for months,” he said. “I was mainly angry about the musical Rent.” Soon, Finnegan was performing at open mics around the city, eventually landing as an original panelist on VH1’s incredibly popular pop culture show Best Week Ever. Since, Finnegan’s 24 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
enjoyed tremendous success both in comedy and TV, including a one-hour Comedy Central special Au Contraire!, playing the role of Martin on the TBS show Are We There Yet?, appearances on Conan and The Late Late Show, and a performance on one of the most famous Chapelle show sketches ever, the “Mad Real World” in which he plays Chad, the only white roommate. Currently at work on a TV pilot for A&E, the Astoria resident says that although many of the comedian friends he came up with have made the move to Los Angeles, he doesn’t picture ever leaving the city where he made his career. “I’ve been workshopping this solo show about why the f--k do I stay in New York,” he said. “I don’t love it, I need it. It’s not a healthy relationship. But I don’t feel like myself anywhere else.” You can catch Christian’s latest comedy special The Fun Part on Netflix.
DISCOVER VAUGHN COLLEGE
VISIT OUR OPEN HOUSE
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14 AND 21 10 a.m. LEARN ABOUT NEXT GENERATION EDUCATION AT VAUGHN.EDU ENGINEERING | TECHNOLOGY | MANAGEMENT | AVIATION
ANYWAY YOU WE TRIED EIGHT WELL-KNOWN SLICE JOINTS IN QUEENS TO MAKE ONE ULTIMATE PIE, AND THEN RATED EACH ONE.
SLICE IT! BY PATRICK KEARNS
There’s an argument to be made for Queens being the best pizza slice borough in New York City. Brooklyn’s best spots aren’t exactly known for their classic slice, and in Manhattan, there are plenty of great spots but the fancy pies and the $1 slice places crowd the field. Pizza in Queens feels a lot like the borough does: there are no-frills. With that in mind, I ventured to some of the most heralded and talked about pizza joints in the borough to see which slices were the real deal and which slices weren’t worth the hype. The rating system gives the slice a score (out of possible 10) for cheese, sauce and crust. It combines those scores together and takes the average, coming up with each slice’s IQ (It’s Queens) Rating.
Freddy’s Pizzeria 12-66 150th Street Whitestone
Looks can be deceiving at Freddy’s Pizzeria. On the exterior, the place looks like it’s been frozen in time since the 1960s, but when you walk in, it’s freshly renovated. The pizza is kind of the same way. It looks like a regular, if not unspectacular slice, but when you bite in, everything changes. The sauce packs amazing flavor and feels sparse in a really good way, and it compliments everything else in the best possible way: a seasoned sauce that doesn’t overpower the rest of the slice, which is tough to pull off. The crust has a classic crisp to it and holds the rest of the slice up well. Like some of the other top places, the cheese is firm enough that you can really chew it.
26 26• •Fall Fall2015 www.itsqueens.com 2015 www.itsqueens.com
Polito’s 38-12 Broadway Astoria
Buried in the middle of the intersection of two busy commercial strips in Steinway Street and Broadway, this low-key slice spot should get more attention than it does. The slices are huge – one can be more than enough for lunch – and there’s some solid consistency throughout. The crust is stiff with a good crunch and the sauce overall holds its own. The slice was light in sauce in some places, but not enough that you feel like you’re eating a breadstick, plus it had enough flavor that you could at least taste it in every bite. The cheese is the really selling point of this slice. It’s cooked to the perfect burn that really brings out the saltiness of the mozzarella.
C E T F P R IE E 7.0
8.0 www.itsqueens.com Fall www.itsqueens.com Fall2015 2015• •27 27
Three Sons Pizzeria 57-29 61st Street Maspeth
Sunnyside Pizza 40-01 Queens Boulevard Sunnyside
Three Sons Pizzeria is a solid, clean pizza joint with an adjacent Italian restaurant, but unlike a lot of places that fit that description, they definitely don’t neglect the slice side of the business. The interior is clean and feels friendly when you walk in, which is always a bonus. The slice isn’t knock-you-out amazing, but it’s definitely solid. The cheese is probably the best part of it, as it shares the almost tough quality that a lot of other places have. The sauce tastes fresh and isn’t overwhelmingly flavorful, but it works well with the rest of the slice. The crust won’t be everyone’s favorite because it feels like there’s a lot of it, but it’s at least done well. It’s got a crisp outside that gives way to a chewy core once you get past that initial stiffness.
If you blink while driving down Queens Boulevard you’re probably going to miss Sunnyside Pizza. It’s the definition of hole-in-thewall, with enough counter space for about two people to eat. That doesn’t mean you should overlook this slice, as it’s overall pretty tasty. The first obvious difference between Sunnyside Pizza and the rest of the field: the sesame seed crust. Not everyone is going to be a fan, but on a slice that doesn’t stand out too much on its own, it’s a nice touch. The cheese is a bit more viscous than some of the other top spots, but it still boasts a good flavor. The sauce is overall underwhelming. It’s flavorful, which is a plus, but definitely doesn’t make the slice better. The ratio is strong enough though that it definitely doesn’t take anything away from the rest of the slice. It’s the type of joint that you’re happy it exists if you live in the area and you want a solid slice spot.
Rosa’s 55-26 69th Street Maspeth
The name Rosa’s definitely carries a certain legacy that some of the slices might live up to, but the regular slice is just average. It sits on busy 69th Street, just a stone’s throw from Maspeth’s central business district and features two pretty expansive rooms and a massive menu with an intimidating choice of slices with different toppings. The cheese on the plain slice was a bit liquid-y since the slice was heated up too much, which caused the crust underneath to get soggy, which is a major drawback. Although, as you move towards the top of the slice the crust gets a lot better and as it stands alone at the top, it’s really solid. The sauce on the slice has a pretty distinct flavor which kind of evens the slice out overall, but doesn’t put it into the realm of some of the other top slices. 28 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
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
Proudly Serving The Queens Community For Over 30 Years!!! Thank You For Your Support and Friendship Throughout The Years
PASTA DINNER $15
Ridgewood Middle Village 62-70 Fresh Pond Rd. 79-47 Metropolitan Ave. 718.821.5999 Williamsburg 718.894.8700 133 N. 6th St. 718.782.4411 www.crifasi.com
57-29 61 ST. MASPETH, NY
For All Your Real Estate Needs • Buying • Renting
• Selling • Mortgages
100% Of Our Listings Are Sold
Joseph & Jackie Abramaitis Associate Broker Senior Real Estate Specialist
The “A” Team 72-01 Grand Avenue, Maspeth, NY 11378 917-952-2156 917-952-2797 www.ateamhomesny.com www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 29
Dani’s House of Pizza Lucia Pizza 81-28 Lefferts Boulevard 136-55 Roosevelt Avenue Kew Gardens Astoria
Let’s get this out of the way first: not everyone cares for the sauce. The slice at Dani’s is unlike anything else in the city, and its sauce is uniquely sweet (employees wear shirts that say #sweetsauce) and brings a whole different flavor. But this is still classic pizza and as a Kew Gardens mainstay, it deserves its recognition. The cheese is some of the best around. It’s very thick and acts as a good barrier before you get to the sauce. The crust is just fine, as it has a solid amount of flavor and does a good job holding everything together but feels more like a placeholder than anything. It’s unspectacular, but it doesn’t really need to impress with the amount of flavor on top of it
New Park is arguably the best slice in the city, as it’s both incredibly unique and just damn tasty. It’s been family-owned for generations and is the perfect hybrid: the pies are made in a brick fire oven, but there’s also a conventional pizza oven to create a perfect amount of char with a salty taste. The only drawback, some could argue, is that the crust can sometimes be a bit chewy, so if you’re a pizza folder who likes a crust that cracks, it won’t be the case here. The cheese, on the other hand, is exceptional and what makes this place stand out. It’s thick and salty, concentrating itself in globs instead of a thin film across the sauce like a lot of other slice joints. The sauce is a good balance of lightly sweet and not overly seasoned. 30 30••Fall Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com 2015 www.itsqueens.com
The sign outside Lucia boasts “Best Pizza in Town.” If the town they are referring to is Flushing – or anywhere that’s not Howard Beach – this statement is unequivocally true. Lucia is a classic counter-serve place that probably violates a dozen fire codes if there are five people eating in there. It’s certainly worth that risk. The crust is king here and it’s hard to do it much better than Lucia does. It’s got a perfect crisp to it, and the chefs here have it down to a science. The cheese also gives you some resistance when you bite in, which is always a good thing. It’s not liquidly and thin like a lot of city pizza tends to be. The sauce to cheese ratio splendid, making every bite a near perfect mash of flavors.
New Park Pizza 156-71 Cross Bay Boulevard Howard Beach
Book your next event at O’Neill’s Maspeth Parties Weddings Showers Meetings We have 5 banquet rooms Give us a call to talk about party packages We also have a special menu for Funeral luncheons
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 31
Taking Care of BIDness
FALL SALES 2015 Spirare French Cleaners....84-20A Florence Cleaners……....….84-29
ATTORNEYS James F. Rooney, Esq......86-07 Marianne Gonzales Esq ..95-07
CLOTHING - ATHLETIC Sports Lane ........................ 85-15
AWARDS Capo’s Awards…......… 79-13
DRIVING SCHOOL Trama’s Auto School ...........87-15
BANK Queens County …....…...80-35 Savings Bank ................ 93-22 Chase Bank................. 84-01a Community Federal Savings Bank ............... 89-07
HOBBY STORE Planet Hobbywood LADIES’ APPAREL Wood Story………......…….80-33 Rainbow Shop .................. 85-12 Baby Blue Ladies ............. 91-17
BAKERY Pan Ugo Bakery .......... 84-42 La Gitana Bakery.......... 90-12 Paneorama .................. 95-20
MEN’S Valerie’s Men & Women’s. 80-17 R.S. Army/Navy ............... 91-13
BEAUTY SUPPLY Sumi Eyebrows …….….79-17 Mehak Beauty Salon…..87-12 Pretty Beauty Supply… 87-16 Coco Nail and Spa…… 87-24 Miss Nails ……………...90-22 I Stars Beauty Supply…91-05
MEDICAL Yellowstone Physical Therapy and Medical Office…......…88-11 MULTISERVICES Woodhaven Multiservices. 87-09
BICYCLE SHOP Bike Lane……………….85-13
CONFECTIONARY Schmidt’s Candy .............. 94-15
BUTCHER - MARKET La Palma Meat Market ...84-25
FLORIST Park Place Florist…...… 88-16 Lands Flowers ……....……92-03
CATERING HALL Woodhaven Manor........ 96-01
FOOT CARE Podiatry ........................... 86-12 Podiatrist Doctor .............. 87-24 Woodhaven Footcare ....... 95-11
CELLULAR & PHONE RELATED STORES Orange Technology…… 75-12 Boost Mobile………… 80-10 Cricket Wireless…………80-27 Universal Multi-Services 84-11 Zee Wireless Corner.......85-07 T-Mobile ………….….….90-07 Sprint PCS .................... 90-24 CPR Wireless ............... 93-29 Cellular Explosion ......... 95-07
FURNITURE J&L Furniture……….......…78-19 The Home Furnishing Center……………..…...... 80-38
CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS WBID/Greater Woodhaven Development Corp............. 84-01b Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association .............. 84-20b CLEANERS Wash & Dry Round the Clock Laundromat………… .......… 78-07 H.M.Y. Laundry……............ 84-14
ICE CREAM Baskin Robbins ..................84-13 Go Natural Yogurt….......….89-18 Baskin Robbins ................. 92-17 INVESTIGATIVE SERVICES LaBella Investigations ........84-01 OPTICAL Woodhaven Optical .......... 89-21 Evan David Optician ......... 90-08 Price Optical ..................... 93-01
LIQUOR STORES Dexter Wines & Spirits ..........75-13 Rich Haven Liquors .............. 85-11 Liquor Store ......................... 89-21 Deegan’s Wine & Liquors .... 95-19
MARKET C-Town ................................. 74-39 Compare…………................. 77-20 Sam’s Deli……….........…….. 80-01 Sam’s Grill……….........……. 80-08 87th Street Deli-…….........… 87-08 88 Deli and Grill…….........…. 88-01 Fish Store……….........…….. 84-30 Gratia Market …….........…… 84-31 Scaturro’s .............................. 84-39 85th Deli………..........…....… 85-01 Harry’s Grocery Store.............86-06 Jamaica Gourmet Deli........….89-02 Fine Fare…………...........……90-03 Minimarket ............................ 95-13 C-Town Bravo ....................... 98-02 HEALTH Health Store Vitamins ........... 84-09 INSURANCE State Farm Insurance........... 79-22 Allstate ................................. 84-15 Ohlert Ruggiere .................. 89-11 JEWELRY Prime ................................... 91-04 PARTY STORE Paola’s Party Land .............. 89-06 PHARMACY Health Max .......................... 80-09 Duane Reade ...................... 80-30 Queens Care Pharmacy .......84-46 Rite Aid ................................ 89-10 Atlas Pharmacy…….........…..92-18 Medex Pharmacy ................. 96-02 SHOES KMC Orthopedic Shoes ........ 86-20 Payless Shoe Store .............. 89-22 TATTOO PARLORS Liberating Art Ink..........………90-22 Beaver Tattoo…...........………94-02 PIZZERIAS Lane Pizzeria ........................75-19 Domino’s Pizza .....................78-02 A Taste of Italy .......................84-07 Sal’s Pizzeria .........................85-07 DeAleo’s Pizzeria ..................90-10
Joe’s Pizza and Pasta…..95-08 PRINTING Beat the Clock ............... 97-13 RESTAURANTS May May Kitchen (Chinese Food) ............. 74-22 Fried Chicken Restaurant ....................................... 74-38 King Wok Chinese Food ............... 79-09 Shanghai Kitchen .......... 80-11 Subway ......................... 80-28 And 92-12 Frank’s .......................... 80-29 Fresco Tortillas-China House ………..….. 84-17 Palace Fried Chicken......84-50 U-Me Sushi……..……….85-09 Double Happy Chinese...85-18 The New Pops .............. 85-22 Thai Restaurant ............ 86-05 Kentucky Fried Chicken..87-17 Tropical Restaurant....... 88-18 Ho Wan Take-Out ......... 88-22 McDonald’s ................... 91-01 Avenue Diner (Formerly Forest View Restaurant) .......... 91-06 Carnival House (Chinese) ...................................... 92-09 Dunkin’ Donuts ............. 84-13 &.................................... 92-17 Popeye’s Chicken ......... 92-20 Hetmans Polish Deli..….94-14 Manor German Deli ...... 94-12 Independence Café..…. 94-16 Dumpling House ........... 95-12 Cheung King ................. 97-17 El Anzualo ..................... 98-01 UPHOLSTERY Polo’s Upholstery .......... 77-09 Imperial Upholstering .... 86-08 VARIETY Melanie’s Gift Shop.….....79-17 Gift Shop ........................ 79-16 99¢ Store…………..…….80-16 DD II……… .................... 80-19 GEM ............................... 84-33 Variety Store……...……. 85-08 Hallmark Cards .............. 86-03 Discount Express ........... 91-04 Priceless ......................... 91-07 $5 And Up-Deals….....…. 96-01
25 BLOCKS OF “SMALL TOWN” SHOPPING | 718-805-0760 718-805-0202 Credit Cards Accepted in Most Woodhaven Stores
Located exit 17 on the Belt Parkway, Cross Bay Blvd. to Woodhaven Blvd. | Also by “J” Train and Jamaica Ave. Most stores open late on Friday & Saturday. Also some are open on Sundays. LEt WooDhAvEN’S StoRE KEEPERS PERSoNALLy ASSISt you William de Blasio, Mayor, City of New York
plus many more!
118-33 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills
Limited Space, Register Now For Wednesday, Nov. 11th at 3 PM -or- Saturday, Dec. 5th at 9:00 AM 866.509.0110 | PlazaCollege.edu/Transfer www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015
MIDWAY FH CAR PARK
34 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
HEART WITH HER DEBUT CD SET TO COME OUT NEXT YEAR, QUEENS NATIVE ADRIANNA MATEO IS READY TO MAKE HER MARK ON THE MUSIC WORLD.
BY SHANE MILLER
Photo: Karsten Moran www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 35
or the better part of the last year, the only constant in Adrianna Mateo’s life has been change. Perennially on the move, the 25-year-old musician has been couch-surfing with friends and hopping between pet-sitting (“Cats are easier than dogs,” she learned) and house-watching gigs for acquaintances. Or rather, there has been one other con-
to trust,” Mateo said of constantly being on the move. “It taught me how to keep working and stay really focused. It taught me how not to worry so much. It’s kind of like crowdsurfing, you just have to trust and know that there is a solution out there.” Someone looking in from the outside might already consider Mateo an accomplished
Center recently, she was preparing for her third run of violin performances at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and shortly after the conversation she appeared on an episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert with The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses. But that’s just scratching the surface. A graduate of the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens “Moving into pop music seems to a lot of College, Mateo people like very much a left turn, but this commissioned was the idea all along. Way back in high solo works for school, I kind of new this is what I wanted to 15 composers do, but I was going to need these during her jucomponents to put it all together.” nior year, which were later premiered during a stant: her passion for musician. When self-organized, selfmusic. she spoke with It’s produced tour of Eu“It taught me how Queens at a cafe rope. In addition to to trust people and near her teaching performing on some figure out who not job at the Kaufman of the biggest stages
in the city, she has appeared on recordings by Philip Glass and Grammy Awardwinning producer David Starobin. Time Out New York hailed her Band on a Can Marathon debut last summer as “triumphant.” “On paper it looks impressive, but when you’re going through it, it’s a different feeling,” Mateo said. “You’re preparing, thing aren’t happening right away, you’re going through the emotional ups and downs and thinking, ‘oh my God, I’m not going to make it’ to ‘this is great, it’s going to be fine.’”
rowing up in Maspeth, Mateo remembers a day when she was around five years old and a piano mysteri-
ously arrived at the house. It had been purchased by her grandmother, who at one time was on track to become a concert pianist but was dissuaded from pursuing the passion. “She was the one that first got the piano to the house,” she recalls. “I think my grandmother noticed at a young age that I was always fixated with music, even if it was just Disney movies – I particularly remember The Little Mermaid being moving as a five year old – so she was the one that suggested my sister and I take music lessons.” But Mateo’s initial foray in music at a young age didn’t necessarily foreshadow the uncompromising ambition
Photo: Karsten Moran 36 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
she possesses today. “I think I took to the figuring out part of things, but I didn’t really take to the rigors of lessons at first; in fact I really disliked them,” Mateo said. “Not only did you have to sit in this room and be told you don’t know what you’re doing, but then you have to go home and work on it day after day and I found that pretty stifling at first. Things started to change when she changed instruments. “I added violin and that was less of a problem for whatever reason. I think part of it was that I chose violin.” But much like her grandmother, as Mateo’s passion for music began to deepen and she thought it might be something she would want to pursue as a career, she began to meet resistance from her own family. Many members of her extended family are successful in the medical field, and her own younger sister is currently in a Ph.D program. “I think I knew I wanted to take violin to the next level when I was 12 or 13, and it was kind of hard because my parents, particularly my mom, really resisted it,” she said of her immigrant parents. “I think it has to do with the fact that they worked really hard to get to where they are here, and they didn’t want to see me have a hard time as a musician.” But she also credits her family’s own successes with instilling in her a strong work ethic. “You get a respect for rigor and an appreciation for achievement,” the Townsend Harris
grad and two-time Queens Teen Poet Laureate said. “I always need an inordinate amount of pressure to say ‘I’m going to do this,’ so the more that they fought the more I pursued it. I think they are as okay as they’re going to get. As with any kind of relationship, when you come to an impasse you either break through it or things stagnate. Thankfully, we kind of broke through it.”
n March of this y e a r, Mateo took a big leap of faith and created a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of
$10,000 to fund her debut al- “Be prepared to confront a lot of resistance. bum. By the That’s a good thing, because it forces you to beginning of say ‘this is what I want to do, I don’t think it’s selfish.’” July, 188 backers pushed her nearly $1,000 musical resume up route of releasing it over her goal. to this point, cen- song by song. “I’m really proud tered as much as “We have a lot of myself for doing it has been in the of work to do, but this Kickstarter be- contemporary clas- that’s kind of my cause it kind of goes sical world and for- M.O.: procrastinate, against everything mal musical train- work really hard and you’re supposed to ing, listeners might then freak out. In do, right?” she said. be surprised to find my head, that’s my “You’re not out that Mateo’s first deadline,” she said. supposed solo effort is a more “I think what I would to ask or less a pop record. like to do is release people “It’s widespread it song by song, and f o r stylistically, but my that way you can acm o n - voice kind of ties it tually get in the stue y . together,” she said. dio and tweak things Then I “There’s some stuff as you go.” set it at that’s more Jeff And what kind of $10,000, Buckley and there’s advice would she and I’m some stuff that’s give to someone else like, this more like Fallout Boy. who is really serious is f-cking And I’m so excited about a career in muinsane!” to play this piece by sic? G i v e n David Lang called “The first thing h e r “Killer” originally co- would be stay fowritten with Todd cused. In your off Reynolds, who’s a time go to concerts, fantastic violinist. watch live music, see “That kind of aes- what people who are thetic has always good at what they do been close to my actually do on stage heart,” she contin- and in the studio,” ued. “I made a con- she advises. “The scious decision to second thing would really get my chops, be to talk or listen really learn how to to as many different play violin, put on musicians as you two-hour recitals, can, because while play eight or nine the experience is exconcerts a week. tremely broad, the Moving into pop mu- underlying ethic is sic seems to a lot the same. of people like very “The degree you much a left turn, but need to tune into this was the idea all your instinct is the along. Way back in same, it’s just voichigh school, I kind ing it differently. Be of knew this is what prepared to confront I wanted to do, but a lot of resistance. I was going to need That’s a good thing, these components because it forces you to put it all to- to say ‘this is what gether.” I want to do, I don’t But now that think it’s selfish.’” the money has been raised, the Adrianna Mateo will be pressure is performing a free single on to actu- release show at Arlene’s ally produce. Grocery, 95 Stanton Mateo said the Street on March 11 at album is tenta- 11:30 p.m. Check out her tively scheduled music at soundcloud. for release in Janucom/adriannamateo. ary of 2016, but that she might also go the Photo: Adrian Buckmaster
ROSAS PIZZA 5526 69TH ST, MASPETH, NY 11378 718) 446-5910
62-65 FRESH POND RD, RIDGEWOOD, NY X11385 (718) 497-7672
QUEENS By Holly Bieler
New Yorkers on the prowl for wares and home goods from a different era need look no further than Queens. Whether you’re looking for timeless clothes on the cheap or furniture straight out of Mad Men, the borough is filled with some of the best thrift and vintage hunting in the city. After weeks of combing Queens (and accidentally spending way too much money on knick knacks), we’ve compiled a list of the borough’s TOP FIVE VINTAGE SHOPS.
Hour Children’s Shop 25-22 34th Avenue Astoria This place might not look like much on the outside, or in the inside for that matter, but this sprawling thrift shop has some fantastic steals if you’re willing to rummage. Head here for a wonderful selection of interesting glassware in great condition, as well as some beautiful mid-century accent pieces and a nice selection of well-framed art and photo prints. Prices can be a little off and on, sometimes extremely fair and sometimes a little steep, but nothing’s priced outrageously. A highlight is the shop’s wonderful, if tiny selection of 1950s-70s dresses, pocketbooks and shoes. And even if your wallet might not be too happy after a trip here, your conscience surely will be: proceeds from the shop go toward furthering Hour Children programming, which is aimed at helping incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women and their children successfully rejoin the community.
Gotham City Thrift Shop 60-21 Myrtle Avenue Ridgewood
Spaar’s Antiques & Militaria 41-15 Broadway Astoria
Walk into this Astoria shop and walk into another century. In business since 1946, Spaar’s doesn’t look like it’s changed much since it first opened, and is still primarily known for its great assortment of antique war relics, including grenades, swords and firearms more than a century old. However, those on the prowl for more decorative antiques shouldn’t let the emphasis on wartime artifacts scare them off. There are also some beautiful turn-of-the-century pieces throughout the shop at extremely fair prices. A recent walkthrough unveiled a gorgeous pair of hand-painted 1800’s oil lamps converted to electric, as well as some quality prints and an architectural wooden plant stand straight out of the New York Times styles section going for half of what we’ve seen at trendier vintage Brooklyn shops.
If you’re on the prowl for statement pieces or a DIY project, head no further than this lovely neighborhood thrift shop. More an antique and vintage furniture shop than an average thrift store, Gotham is brimming with excellent, gently used large pieces at fantastic prices, as well as pieces in need of a bit of R&R at a heavy discount. A recent trip yielded a gorgeous art deco buffet for less than $200, and a fantastic tiger wood baroque-style credenza in need of refurbishing, going for around $100. And if your apartment and/or wallet can’t quite bare the brunt of Gotham’s larger wares, still stop by for a great selection of pottery and glassware, as well as a small, passable clothes section that might be more thrift-y than vintage-y, but has prices to match, including a $3 rack.
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 41
The Furniture Market 22-08 Astoria Boulevard Astoria
Next time you have an hour (or four) to kill in Astoria, look no further than the Furniture Market. This sprawling two-story vintage furniture and knick-knack shop is legendary in the area for supplying set pieces for some of the biggest TV series and films to shoot in New York City, including The Sopranos, Sex and the City and Gossip Girl, among others. That means at any given moment the store is chock-a-block with interesting pieces, including the last time we visited, when we found a gorgeous chartreuse velvet couch, lovely mid-century lamps in great condition and a fantastic assortment of accent chairs in every style tucked away in a hidden corner on the basement level. And if you’re not looking to invest in furniture, it’s still worth braving the maze of goods for everything from vintage jewelry to small and large paintings to an oddly huge selection of wooden boxes. Some price tags might make eyes roll, but everything is priced to be negotiated, with pieces going up to 50 percent off the listed rate.
Stray Vintage 48-09 Skillman Avenue Sunnyside
This mid-century modern paradise has long been one of the area’s best-kept secrets. Tucked away on a beautiful tree-lined stretch of Skillman Avenue, Stray might be the smallest spot on our list, but every piece in this warm shop is meticulously curated by local husband and wife team Dan and Tara Glasser. Head here for fantastic - and fantastically well-priced - mid-century accent pieces, as well as the occasional Danish credenza or hutch. There’s also a small, if excellent assortment of bric-a-brac to sort through, including vintage jewelry and prints, and area music aficionados swear by its great selection of new and used vinyl. 42 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
Every love story is beautiful but ours is my favorite
1.51ct | F | VVS2 |
A good jeweler is like a diamond – bright, beautiful, valuable, and always in style.
December Holday Discounts! Luis Flores founded Lafyes Jewelry in 2005, and for the past 10 years, the Maspeth community has allowed him to take his business to the next level. Besides a vast selection of bridal jewelry, fashion jewelry and watches, Luis has something far more unique to offer. “As a result of social media, people have developed hyper unique tastes; depending on
what they have seen online.” said Flores. “They want part of what they see from one ring, another feature from a different ring and a small style aspect from a third ring,” said the Maspeth Jewler. Since Flores designs and manufactures jewlery in his store, he is able to make the hyper specific ring or any custom piece of jewelry that his customer desires. “I have the best jewelry design software in my store on Grand Ave., and customers get to preview their jewelry before I go ahead and craft their piece,” said Flores. In 1994, Flores arrived in New York with the goal of becoming a mechanical engineer. His dream changed over 20 years
ago, as he visited his uncle who was a jeweler. He soon fell in love with the craft, and the more he learned about jewelry, the more he knew that it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. “I went to Luis to talk about the engagement ring that I knew my fiance wanted,” said John, a resident of Maspeth who we spoke to. “I showed him pictures of 3 different rings that her sister sent me. Luis educated me on the weight, color, clarity and cut of diamonds; how they are graded and the price range of the different grades,” said John. “Luis crafted the most beautiful and unique ring (pictured above) at a better price than the diamond websites told me the price would be,” said John.
“I am so happy I went to Lafyes for this - and I am forever grateful to Luis!” “The best part of this industry is the satisfaction we get from our customers,” said Flores. “I am here to do my best every day.” Maspeth residents have been flocking to Lafyes not just for the best prices, but because Flores understands how important and emotionally valuable jewelry can be. Flores also assured us that he works directly with diamond manufacturers, and his diamonds are certified and conflict free. Lafyes is located at 65-43 Grand Ave. Maspeth, NY 11378. Luis can be reached at (718) 894-0360. Sponsored Content
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 43
Queens Office 66-74 Fresh Pond Rd Ridgewood NY 11385 (718) 386-1135
children’s education? The next step is choosing a financial advisor. You want to choose a professional who is both knowledgeable and personable. Jim Raia has been a staple in the Queens community for many years, and his industrious and trustworthy qualities are assets to his business and your future. Raia prides himself in offering a wide variety of safe fixed income investments for his clients. "After saving around 10K, I wanted a better return than the .06% interest that my savings account was accruing," said one Middle Village resident. "Jim Raia informed me of the different investments available, the historical performances of them, and the return that I could expect." Raia began his pre-law studies at Quinnipiac. After becoming a certified financial planner, he worked for successful firms such as Met Life and Greenpoint Bank. After helping to build the success of Greenpoint Bank, he started the Jim Raia Investment Group in 2004. Raia has been building his clients' financial futures ever since. Raia is always on the lookout for new exciting investments to offer. One of these new investments allows you to be a landlord for some of the nation’s biggest companies. “People’s situations are always changing and their financial plan needs to change in response. A static financial plan The Jim Raia Investment Group, located in the heart of Ridgewood, has a is not effective in our dynamic world. As a proven track record of successfully building financial plans for clients. person goes through the dynamics of their life, their financial planning undergoes an he Jim Raia Investment Group has been helping clients invest their money expanded complexity with each additional wisely for over 15 years. President, Jim Raia, is a financial professional who dimension, such as marriage, children, etc.," says Raia. works with a wide range of clients. Whether you “Financial planning does not only are a business owner, employee, or recent college “People’s situations incorporate the aspirations of the grduate, Jim Raia has nearly two decades of proven success at all investment levels. He is an expert in city pensions are always changing client during their own life but also the financial legacy he or she wants to pass and 401 K's, as well as Mutual Funds, Annuities, Insurance, and their financial on to loved ones," he says. Stocks, Bonds, Long Term Care, Brokered CD's and Non-traded plan needs to change Raia recommends reflecting on REITS. your financial situaton, hearing the Investing your money can be daunting. The first step in response." opportunities that his investment firm you must take is determining your financial goals. Do you need has to offer, and making an informed investment planning or portfolio management? Saving for decision to achieve your financial goals. your retirement or rolling over a 401k? A savings plan for your
Gaining Knowledge, Building Value
44 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
SLIDE Bar-B-Q BBQ Capital of Queens
Close your eyes. Imagine you are sitting in a brand-new restaurant with the light but savory smell of hickory in the air. A server hands you a Strawberry-Basil Collins specialty cocktail.
The main course came with a specialty cocktail called the Slide Over, crafted with Diplomatico Reserve XO Dark Rum, apricot brandy, orange liqueur and lime juice.
Where are you? Not Tennessee, not Texas – and you’re definitely not in Kansas; this is Maspeth’s own Slide Bar-B-Q, located at 65th Place on the Maspeth Plateau.
Then came the stars of the evening and my personal favorite - sliders! I tried three different kinds.
Slide’s rustic style barbecue restaurant and bar is a great addition to the area’s dining and nightlife. Owners Robert and Anna Meller chose to settle in Maspeth because there are no other barbecue restaurants in the area, and they guarantee that there will be no other like Slide Bar-B-Q. On a cold, snowy Saturday night, Slide’s valet parking deleted an often-challenging variable from dining out. The restaurant was busy but not too crowded. I was seated within two minutes, and presented with a good-sized menu and drink list. I enjoyed a Slide specialty craft beer and the appetizers arrived in 20 minutes. The tomato soup was hearty and tasted homemade. The fried pickles had a nice sweet flavor and were enhanced by a tangy remoulade sauce. The Bacon Wrapped Bacon was the star of the appetizers. A braised pork belly wrapped in smoked bacon maple glazed jalapeno. Its slightly spicy, bold flavor was a kick in the mouth. The main course arrived shortly after I finished the appetizers. The baby back ribs fell off the bone, smoked and glazed in Slide’s signature sauce. The ribs came with two sides – mac and cheese and baked beans with bacon – both equally delicious.
The Classic Slider featured angus beef, manchego cheese, tomato, caramelized onion and remoulade sauce. The Cinco De Mayo sliders featured a custom beef and chorizo blend, pepper jack cheese, red onion, sweet pepper bacon and chipotle aioli sauce. The Chef’s Best Steak slider featured Asian herb marinated flank steak, scallions, sesame oil, cheddar & Monterey jack cheeses and chipotle aioli sauce. All three sliders were outstanding. These sliders did not need ketchup, and as a ketchup lover, I knew this meant that these sliders were the real deal. For dessert, I had a Sweet Home Alabama spiked shake – butter pecan ice cream, Jim Beam bourbon, candied pecans and whipped cream. It was the perfect ending to the meal. Slide has various discounts and specials available during the week such as Sliders and Slide Beer Mondays and Date Night Thursday. Robert and Anna Meller are excited to serve the Maspeth community and encourage all Queens residents to come and try their food. With weather predictions being unsavory at best making venturing out for a dining experience a less-than-desirable option, Slide Bar-B-Q also delivers.
We Deliver | We Cater | Private Parties | $1 Shots | 50’ Flatscreens | Best Barbecue Food in Queens! Slide Bar-B-Q | 5275 65th Pl. Maspeth, NY 11378 | (718) 565-0565 | www.slidebarbqmaspeth.com www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 45
HAS YOUR BUSINESS... Been Investigated by the Department of Labor?
Been Threatened with Litigation by an Employee’s Attorney?
Been Sued in Court for Failing to Pay Proper Wages?
Queens County Bar Association
Chairman | Labor
Received Improper Advice for Wage and Hour Compliance?
SOLVING LABOR PROBLEMS FOR BUSINESSES
45-18 Court Square, Suite 403 Long Island City, NY 11101
Queens, In Their Own Words By Jen Khedaroo
Borough’s literary scene on the rise as writers connect through workshops, readings
Queens has always through community in- cludes what group been home to talented put. Writers are able to members found to be writers, such as Ar- grow through the facili- moving, inspirational thur Buchwald, Anne tation of relationships or provoking within a Hosansky and Martin with people who share piece. Scorsese. And with similar skills, interests The Writers’ Cola growing presence and goals. laborative of Queens, of writers living and Many writers use so- founded in December working in Queens, cial media networking 2013, meets multiple there has been an abun- sites, such as Meetup, times a week at Caffe dance of literary groups to find local peers. As- Bene. Besides providand writers’ workshops toria Writer’s Group, ing feedback for works popping up up to 10 around the p a g e s borough in ’ve been writing in Queens since I long durrecent years. moved here, but it wasn’t until the ing their The formapast few years that I really started “Critique, tion and ex- meeting other writers and made these Goal Setpansion of connections.” - TIM FREDRICK ting & these groups Craft Dishas cultivated cussion” a writing remeetings, naissance in the literary founded in November the writers also share scene. 2012, meets every Sun- their goals for the week While completing a day evening at Panera as well as their experishort story, novel or Bread to critique two ences with writing obscript can seem daunt- pieces of work writ- stacles. ing, workshops and ten previously by the In the group’s Just readings can help to group’s members. Write! workshop on improve a writer’s skills Feedback often in- Fridays, members jumpstart and hone their skills by writing for 10 minutes without stopping. Then the ten minutes is up, members share what they wrote before the process repeats. Local bookstores have also done a great deal to support area writers. Many, such as Astoria Bookshop, provide a number of adult workshops, a creative writing workshop for children and quite a few reading series. Tim Fredrick, author of We Regret to Inform You and the founding editor of the journal Newtown Literary, has participated and hosted a few reading series at Astoria Bookshop. In fact, Fredrick, who also teaches at a Long Island City school, founded Newtown LitPoet Richard Jeffrey Newman hosts a monthly reading series erary after meeting sevin Elmhurst. eral fellow writers at
Tim Fredrick, author and founder of Newtown Literary, says it’s only recently that Queens writers have begun to connect.
various readings. He stressed that while there is a lot of great writing being produced in Queens, many people may not have taken notice because writers haven’t connected with each other. “I’ve been writing in Queens since I moved here, but it wasn’t until the past few years that I really started meeting other writers and made these connections,” Fredrick said. “I realized that we should probably create a written record of what’s happening here.” Since establishing Newtown Literary in 2012, Fredrick has grown the journal from a team of four volunteers to a team of 25. They are currently working on the seventh issue of the publication. Poet Richard Jeffrey Newman is on the
Board of Directors for Newtown Literary. His body of work includes poetry regarding feminism, as well as a number of classic Iranian poetry translations. Newman has strong familial ties in Jackson Heights, and continues to hold a reading series at Terraza Cafe in Elmhurst. The series, entitled First Tuesdays, was one of the first neighborhood reading series in the borough. The monthly get-together features an open mic hour and a featured reader. Once the readings are over, the group puts together a cento using lines from each presenter. As an organizer for the series, Newman has come across many poets from all kinds of backgrounds, races and ethnicities. He pointed out that one of the most important
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 47
aspects about the literary scene in Queens is diversity, and there are writers from immigrant communities who work in their native languages. Examples include Queens residents, Huang Xiang, a Chinese poet, and Josepeh Lagaspi, who founded the Asian American literature organization, Kundiman. There is a bilingual bookstore in Jackson Heights, Libreria Barco de Papel, that hosts readings, author panels and discussions for Spanish-speakers. “It’s absolutely true that in the last five years or so, there has been a real growth in the literary community,” Newman said. “But over the years, I have met poets who wrote in Korean or Bengali and that’s an aspect of the literary scene that a lot of people don’t know about.” Before writing groups and reading series became so acces-
sible, Newman credited a now discontinued Queens Council on the Arts program that helped writers reach the public with their work. Queens in Love with Literature, otherwise known as QUILL, focused on making the different types of literary communities visible through workshops and readings. Armenian-American and LGBTQI writer Nancy Agabian has seen not only diversity within her Heightening Stories workshops, but she’s also noticed that the age range in participants stagger from young women in their 20s to older women in their 60s. Heightening Stories actually started out as a workshop for immigrants and firstgeneration Americans with a grant from the Queens Council of the Arts. Years later, after the grant was done, members of the workshop still got together
“Queens feeds my imagination, it’s so vibrant and alive,” says author Shelley Ettinger. “The culture, the struggles that took place here, it’s just an important center socially, culturally and politically.” 48 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
Nancy Agabian (second from right) with members of her Heightening Stories workshop.
to critique each other’s work. Eventually, in 2012, Agabian decided to transform Heightening Stories into a small business where students could link social issues with a craft issue to tell a story. For example, students of the workshop can tie the topic of racism with the craft issue of learning how to show and tell racism within a story. Students learn how to use description, character and details to explain or articulate a short story. “Everyone contributes to the workshops so it’s not as if I were telling them what they needed to learn,” Agabian said. Shelley Ettinger, author of Vera’s Will, hasn’t committed to one particular literary group as yet, but it’s understandable since she didn’t begin truly writing until she was in her late 40s. She met Fredrick at one of his meetups for LGBTQI writers in Queens. Next year, Queens will have its first-ever book festival in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which will rival the size of the Brooklyn
Book Festival. Ettinger has already submitted her own work in order to be featured. “This has to be a cliché, but everybody knows that Queens is the world, the population represents the whole world,” Ettinger said, adding that the festival’s organizers
are looking to showcase that fact. “Queens feeds my imagination, it’s so vibrant and so alive. The culture, the struggles that took place here, it’s just an important center socially, culturally and politically, and I’ve been really fortunate to be a part of it.”
Astoria Bookshop has become an important meeting place for Queens writers.
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 49
50 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
By Jen Khedaroo Claudia P. Marulanda Gomez, an artist from Colombia living in Briarwood, recently opened her first-ever display exhibition at a gallery in Manhattan. Her exhibition featured her work under the ultimate, inspiring girl-power theme of “Wonder Women.” The exhibition explores those who possesses the qualities found in powerful women. It also dives into how relatable these qualities are to us within our day-to-day lives. Marulanda is especially expressing the different traits that make up a Wonder Woman. “The true beauty is in our personalities, who we are deep down and we need to express it,” Marulanda said. “We are beautiful and powerful; sexy and smart; sweet and ambitious; and lastly, classy and courageous. “We are go-getters, passionate and fearless,” she added. “We are limitless and we need to learn to believe in ourselves and accept that we are great.” Although she had always done art pieces in the past, with a focus on drawings, Marulanda decided to pick up painting three years ago. She worked in the graphic design field for 15 years, but wanted to pursue a passion that allowed her creativity to expand and evolve. Marulanda collected images and illustrations from various projects to depict various personalities in paintings. To make a piece takes about 30 hours. Marulanda credits painting with helping her deal with commitment. Usually,she claims she’s an impatient person, but she’s learning how to work with the clock some more. “You learn that with art, it’s about layering and layering and you continue to build a piece,” Marulanda said. During classes taken at the School of Visual Arts and the Art Students League, Marulanda learned to paint rather distinct portraits. From the lessons, she’s learned to look at a subject in a different way to create the most impactful portraits, with
techniques such as dealing with different lighting, adding texture and learning how the smoothness of one’s skin will translate with color. It’s a different beast to conquer than her childhood art. “Drawing is all about lines while painting is creating artwork by applying color,” she said. But there are aspects of her work that feature line art. All of the women in Marulanda’s paintings feature a unique hair style. While the faces in the paintings can be soft or flat, the hair always stands out due to the tight lines and bold colors used. She explained that at first she did not know how to paint realistic hair. The idea was actually inspired by a magazine illustration piece. “I started by playing with little lines,” Marulanda said. “Then I started filling them out and I ended up liking it so I wanted to continue developing it.” “Their hair and makeup are meant to inspire, seduce and captivate us,” she added. “It’s definitely a way to showcase our individual styles.” Although she doesn’t have a favorite piece, adding, “it’s like trying not to pick the favorite child,” Marulanda is thrilled with the progress of an art piece entitled “Bewitch” that she once painted for an ex-boyfriend. She recreated an originally darker and much gloomier image into a glamorous painting that grabs hold of your attention immediately. Other popular paintings include the striking “Blueberry” piece showing an overwhelming amount of wild blue hair, as well as “Passion,” which involves some typography within the subject’s hair. In the future, Marulanda hopes that her art will include more typography, a form of art that she has mastered over the past few years. With future projects, she hopes to use typography for positive outlooks for people. “For myself, if I’m going to have a piece of art, I want something that will make me feel good,”she said. If you are interested in learning more information, visit Facebook.com/ ClaudiaMarulandaArtist.
In her piece “Passion,” typography is incorporated.
Artist Claudia Marulanda with her artwork.
Marulanda’s “Bewitch” exemplifies style & personality. www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 51
Going through a divorce?
Call us before your ex does. Divorce, child support, post & pre nups, custody, visitation, family offense petitions, maintenance & adoption.
Law Offices of Salami-Oyakhilome P.C. Family and Matrimonial Law Attorney
Sadatu O. Salami Esq. P: 718.298.6029 | F: 718.298.6021 www.salamioyakhlaw.com 147-26 Hillside Avenue 2nd Floor. Jamaica, NY 11435 Member of the: NYS & Queens Bar Associations, Queens Women’s Bar Association, Queens Family Law Committee, Queens Volunteer Lawyer Committee
52 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
Long ago, Queens had a bustling music scene. There were venues sprinkled throughout the borough and on Friday and Saturday nights, in almost any community you could see a live rock band, some smooth jazz or even a rap show. Those days aren’t exactly past, despite what some might think. While there’s no longer the same magnitude of venues, it’s all about quality, rather than quantity. There are still plenty of places to see live music of very different magnitudes and acts. Here’s our Top 5 Live Music Venues.
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 53
Terazza 7 40-19 Gleane Street Elmhurst
Hailed as an “immigrant folk” venue, Terazza 7 is located right on the border of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, two large immigrant communities. If Queens is the most diverse county in the country, then Terazza is the perfect representation of that diversity. The venue is more of a free-form space that allows creative-types to gather, make music and art, and exchange ideas. There are performances
on their impressive stage every night, wether it be live readings, film screenings or live music. The music is mostly jazz and folk, and serves as a perfect showcase for some of the most talented, unknown artists in the borough to express themselves through their art. Owner Freddy Castiblanco created Terazza as a community space, and also encourages local non-profits and organizations to utilize the impressive venue.
Blackthorn 51 80-12 51st Avenue Elmhurst
On the surface, Blackthorn 51 looks like a heavy metal club that’s a little rough around the edges, but what you really get is a music venue that welcomes everything in addition to the metal: goth, punk, new wave, alternative, hip hop, reggae and plenty more. But what Blackthorn 51 has really created is a place for metalheads to congregate when changes in the city have made that
Gussy’s Bar 20-14 29th Street Astoria
difficult. The shows aren’t some big expensive production which trickles down to the consumer, but a perfectly dim-lit space to hear some shredding guitars and blast beats. The venue’s faithful rave about the sense of community the space offers metal heads in New York City. It even draws some of the bigger punk and metal acts, like former members of the Misfits.
Gussy’s Bar is another venue with a storied past. It’s hailed as the oldest bar in Astoria and it looks the part: completely out of place in a residential neighborhood. But make no mistake about it, this venue rocks. It’s an extremely low-key spot that from the outside looks like you’re about to either walk into someone’s 54• •Fall Fall2015 www.itsqueens.com 2015 www.itsqueens.com 54
living room or the haunt of a mid1990s mafia crew; you feel like you’ve been transported back to the Bowery in the 1970s. The music is loud, the crowds are friendly and drinks are cheap. If you’re looking to see some great alternative rock, metal or punk – with a top-of-the-line sound system – this is your place.
Trans Pecos 915 Wyckoff AVenue Ridgewood
Long before mainstream media publications like the New York Times and New York Magazine called Ridgewood the next buzzy neighborhood, Brooklyn’s former do-it-yourself concert king Todd Patrick had kids taking the L all the way to the Halsey stop to see indie shows at a little venue called the Silent Barn. Now, years later, with the DIY scene in Brooklyn dwindling, Patrick owns and operates a new kind of venue in the former Silent Barn’s space: Trans Pecos, an avantgarde music space and cafe. With a wide-variety of carefully curated shows every night, Trans Pecos draws interesting art-house performances and music from across the globe. They’re shows you won’t see anywhere else.
Forest Hills Stadium 1 Tennis Place Forest Hills The former site of the U.S. Open is as theatrical as it gets for an outdoor summer concert. It’s trendy now to have a popup outdoor stage and charge a small fortune to see some of the tops acts in music, but Forest Hills Stadium is a whole different experience. The place is teeming with history: there’s the Beatles performing there to thousands of screaming fans in 1964 to this very summer
– after decades of the stadium being closed before reopening a couple years ago – when The Who took the stage and rocked Forest Hills Gardens to the core. The venue, for now, only exists seasonally, bringing in massive crowds to the quiet community of Forest Hills Gardens during a few nights in the summer. Just remember not to park in the neighborhood unless you want to get booted!
www.itsqueens.com Fall www.itsqueens.com Fall2015 2015• •55 55
Entertainment Calendar December 15. | Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College, 65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing Afrocolombia Afrocolombia is a stunning musical that highlights the African footprint on the Music and Dance of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Colombia. Dancers are accompanied by a live band playing ancestral rhythms which are forever engraved on Colombia’s cultural selfidentity. A joyful celebration in the universal languages of color, movement and sound! This event runs on the weekends until Sunday, December 13. Fridays & Saturdays 8 p.m.; Sundays 4 p.m. | Thalia Spanish Theatre Inc., 41-17 Greenpoint Avenue, Sunnyside
NOVEMBER FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27 Gingerbread Lane Visitors will marvel at homemade gingerbread houses made entirely of edible gingerbread, royal icing and candy. The houses are drafted, designed, baked, planned, built and decorated by chef Jon Lovitch over the course of an entire year. GingerBread Lane has won the Guinness World Record for 2013 and 2014 for the largest gingerbread village. Lovitch’s creation will again contend for this year’s Guinness World Record. Free with NYSCI admission. Mondays - Fridays: 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Weekends 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On exhibit until Sunday, January 10. | New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Corona Along the Silk Road Large-format color and black-and-white photographs by two master photographers act as touchstones for audiences to experience and appreciate the complex mixture of ancient and modern realities of the Silk Roads, which linked the civilizations and cultures of China, Central Asia, West Asia, and Europe for much of pre-modern history. On Nov. 19, join Zulya Rajabova for an illustrated lecture followed by a dance performance, music and food. 6 p.m. Exhibit on view until Tuesday, 56 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe This enchanting musical is based on C.S. Lewis’ adventure story about four children of war-torn England, who accidentally enter the land of Narnia by climbing through a magic wardrobe. 1 p.m. & 3 p.m. | Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Ave S., Flushing Meadows Corona Park Black Magic Lab Variety Show Black Magic Lab Variety Show is an experimental comedy show that welcomes all talents: musical, storytelling, stand-up, character performances and more! It’s hosted by the sketch duo Black Magic Lab, who inject each show with their special brand of eccentric characters and sketches. Come see what’s in store for this special Thanksgiving/Black Friday edition. Guests include: Kevin Flynn, Samantha Gurewitz, Ethan Stanislawski, Matt Grote and Wendy Starling. Anne Victoria Clark and Meggie Spellman will host. Tickets
are $6. 7:30 p.m. | Q.E.D., 27-16 23rd Avenue, Astoria SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28 LIC Flea & Food in Atlas Park This holiday market includes handcrafted jewelry, clothes, accessories, art, vintage clothes and items furnishings and more! Occurring weekends until Saturday, December 26. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. | The Shops at Atlas Park, 8000 Cooper Avenue, Glendale Photos with Santa Santa will be available for photos and visits at his winter home, located below Shiro of Japan. Go to shopatlaspark. com for the schedule. Ongoing until Thursday, December 24. | The Shops at Atlas Park, 8000 Cooper Avenue, Glendale MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30 ‘The Return’ Film Screening Finding out you’re a member of a minority in a homogeneous culture, realizing you’re part of a rich but virtually erased history—how would you integrate this discovery into your life and relationships? With no access to their heritage, four women are shown forging a new sense of self. In the country that was once the epicenter of the Jewish world, and now regarded as “the Jewish graveyard,” they are figuring out how to be Jewish in today’s Poland. The film also highlights the revival of interest in Jewish culture among non-Jews. The screening will be followed by a talk with award winning filmmaker Adam Zucker. 12:30 p.m. | Central Queens YM & YWHA, 67-09 108th Street, Forest Hills
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 57
SPORTS | CONCERTS | SHOWS | PLAYS | MUSIC FESTIVALS & MORE...
w w w . N Y D i s c o u n t T i c ke t s . c o m A n y E v e n t . A n y Ve n u e . A n y C i t y.
58 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
The Moth StorySLAM This open-mic storytelling competition is for anyone with a five-minute story to tell on the night’s theme: “Freaks”. Here’s how it works: When the doors open, participants throw their names into The Moth “hat.” A half hour later, names are drawn to determine the order slammers take the stage. A team of judges—selected from the audience—will pick a winner from ten featured stories. Sign up to join, or simply enjoy the show! $10 ticket. 7 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 13735 Northern Blvd., Flushing
DECEMBER FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4 Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Maspeth The ceremony will include entertainment, raffles and of course, a visit from Santa! 6 p.m. | Maspeth Memorial Square, 69th Street and Grand Avenue, Maspeth SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5 First Saturdays in The Loft: Video & Animation
New York-based artist Meriem Bennani will lead a workshop on video and animation techniques. Participants will create short, playful digital videos using green-screen technology. Meriem Bennani (born in Morocco) uses video and web platforms to dissolves digital media tropes and questions systems of representation through magical realism and humor. Her work has been shown at MoMA PS1, Palais de Tokyo, BAM, and MANA Contemporary, and she will have a solo exhibition at Signal Gallery, Brooklyn in November 2015. Suitable for families with children ages 7-12. Materials fee: $10 per
child. Pre-registration is required. 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.| SculptureCenter, 44-19 Purves Street, LIC Under the Tangle Under the Tangle is the visually vibrant story of a young orphaned girl lost in a mysterious wooded labyrinth. Throughout her journey, she twists along the maze finding numerous clues and meeting many unusual characters. Under the Tangle is an adventurous tale filled with obstacles, relationships, and discoveries, which strengthen the heroine’s sense of self, helping her to discover her path throughout the tangled and brambling maze. 2 p.m. | Queens Theatre, 14 United
Nations Ave S., Flushing Meadows Corona Park The Tchaikovsky Spectular Known internationally as one of Russia’s leading dance companies, the State Ballet Theatre of Russia brings its Tchaikovsky Spectacular to Kupferberg Center for the Arts with a glittering production filled with spectacular dancing, lavish sets, beautiful costumes, and some of Tchaikovsky’s most beautiful music. The program includes highlights from the greatest classical ballets of all time including Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and The Sleeping Beauty. Tickets range from $20 to $42. 8 p.m. | Kupferberg Center for the Arts, Colden Auditorium, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing Meet & Greet with Santa Claus! There will also be balloon giveaways. Don’t forget your camera! Rego Center, 61-35 Junction Blvd., Rego Park SUNDAY, DECEMBER 6 St. Nicholas Day Visit with St. Nicholas and learn the legend, holiday treats and sweets, traditional music, crafts for children, tree lighting at 3 p.m. Adults $5, children free. 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. | Onderdonk House, 1820 Flushing Avenue, Ridgewood
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 59
28th Annual Holiday Historic House Tour Seven historic sites in Queens will be opening their decorated doors to celebrate the holiday season. Come learn about these NYC Landmark houses and their unique histories! Each site offers special activities, delicious refreshments, and a glimpse at what life was once like during the holidays at this funfilled annual event. 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Head to QueensHistoricalSociety. org for more information. Holiday Market Celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas & Kwanzaa with an art-making workshop and storytelling. There will also be jewelry, paintings, hand crafted ceramics, paper goods, T-shirts and much more to get your holiday shopping to a great start. Market: 1 to 5 p.m. Festival: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing Cultural Immigrant Festival Join the Latin American Cultural Center of Queens to celebrate diverse cultural history with music and dance. 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. | P.S. 69, 77-02 37 Avenue, Jackson Heights Christmas Tree Lighting - Glendale With music, refreshments, toys, and a visit from Santa Claus, for our neighborhood children. 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. | Intersection of Myrtle & Cooper Avenues, Glendale Candlelight Tour Join us for a special night music, good cheer and the Onderdonk House by candlelight. Adults $10.00. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Onderdonk House, 1820 Flushing Avenue, Ridgewood MONDAY, DECEMBER 7 Candlelight Tour Join us for a special night music, good cheer and the Onderdonk House by candlelight. Adults $10.00. 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Onderdonk House, 1820 Flushing Avenue, Ridgewood
60 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
Pet Photos with Santa We’ve reserved these special times for your furry friends to visit Santa! Cats and dogs only. Please be sure to have your pet on a leash or in a pet carrier. Go to: http://shopatlaspark.com for schedule. 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. | The Shops @ Atlas Park, 8000 Cooper Avenue, Glendale THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10 Jonah Groeneboer, Double Mouth Feedback Double Mouth Feedback is a multi-channel sound installation by Jonah Groeneboer, in collaboration with Bruno Coviello. The recordings were created in response to a series of prompts asking the participants to manifest their experience of gender through vocal sound. The installation incorporates the material aspects of sound, using wave patterns, interference phenomena, and vocal superposition to structure the composition. This exhibit runs through Monday, December 28. 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at
MoMA PS 1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City Morgan Bassichis, Me, But Also Everybody! An evening of practical, relevant, and somewhat moving stories with Morgan Bassichis and guests. Morgan Bassichis is a writer and performer whose live comedic work explores history, mysticism, and just like being alive. Morgan’s performances have been described as “super intense” (by Morgan) and “out there” (by Morgan’s mother). 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. | MoMA PS 1, 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 12 Ronald K. Brown/Evidence Traditional African dance with contemporary choreography and spoken word. Evidence provides a unique view of human struggles, tragedies, and triumphs. Brown uses movement as a way to reinforce the importance of community in African American culture and to acquaint audiences with the beauty of traditional African forms and rhythms. Event runs on December 12 and December 13. Saturday 2 p.m. & 8 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m. | Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Ave S., Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Making Fear a Thing of Beauty: Turning What Scares You into Art Depending on the measure used, studies show that as many as 20% of men will experience some form of sexual violence at some point in their lives. Sadly, most of those men suffer in silence, victimized a second time by a culture that refuses to acknowledge the truths of their existence. The host, Richard Jeffrey Newman, broke his own silence as a survivor of childhood sexual assault in his first book of poetry, ‘The Silence of Men.’ This event will combine a reading and discussion of his new work with a workshop built around strategies for “turning what scares you into art.” 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. | Q.E.D., 27-16 23rd Avenue, Astoria The Forbidden Room Screening and Talk Throughout his career, Guy Maddin has created wild, dreamlike phantasmagorias that appropriate the forms and styles of classic cinema and filter them through his own singular vision. Here, working with codirector Evan Johnson, is his ultimate tribute to cinema and cinephilia, a Russian-nesting doll of a film with multiple plots, evoking a wide range of movies from the past, with surprise appearances by such actors as Mathieu Almaric and Charlotte Rampling. | Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria
the holiday with live musical performances, art making workshops for families, and an amazing market filled local arts and crafts. 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Queens Museum, Flushing Meadows Corona Park The Humans of Sesame Street Ever since Sesame Street went on the air in 1969, Jim Henson’s Muppets have shared their home with a cast of talented humans. Join Bob McGrath (Bob), Sonia Manzano (Maria), Emilio Delgado (Luis), Roscoe Orman (Gordon), Alan Muraoka (Alan), and Alison Bartlett (Gina) for an special afternoon of memories, music, and video clips, moderated by Craig Shemin, President of the Jim Henson Legacy.1p.m. | Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria Calpulli Community Children and adults of all ages from Staten Island and Queens will perform folk dances from across Mexico. 2 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 13735 Northern Blvd., Flushing Braata Production’s Ole Time
Grand Market Grand Market is a longstanding tradition in Jamaica that takes place after the usual Christmas morning service or on the eve of Christmas Day. The whole community would be out in their numbers participating in a variety of games, and competitions for all ages, lots of gifts including many toys were on sale from brightly decorated stalls, there was food and drink in abundance, and a great time was had by the entire family throughout the day. 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. | Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica The Splendor of Blossoms The New York Chinese Chorus celebrates the season with flower-themed folk songs presented in the form of chorus, duet, solo or small ensemble. 6 p.m. | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Flushing TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22 Repeater: A Little Show about Big Songs Tuesday, December 22
Repeater is a talk show hosted by comedian and writer Evan Forde Barden where a special guest is invited to discuss that one song they’ll never forget. Co-hosted by Patrick Cartelli, each show features an interview with the guest, comedic segments, and a live performance of the guest’s song. Think “You Made It Weird” meets “VH1 Storytellers.” | Q.E.D., 27-16 23rd Avenue, Astoria SATURDAY, DECEMBER 26 The Wild Bunch in 70mm As the western genre dried up around him, Sam Peckinpah assembled a group of grizzled veterans for one last trip into the breach. A cadre of aging outlaws, fleeing the authorities, attempts to make a final score for a Mexican general, but when things go awry, the gang finds itself in one of the wildest and bloodiest of screen shootouts. Peckinpah’s masterpiece is at once classical and revisionist, an exemplar of the very genre it so brilliantly subverts. 3:30 p.m. | Museum of the Moving Image, 36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria
Flyer Guy Flyer Guy is David Lawson’s funniest and wildest stories from three years of handing out flyers in Times Square. From witnessing the racist rants of a costumed Elmo, to having to wear a skin-tight body suit on a hot day, to having pictures of him looking miserable on the job seen by hundreds of thousands on Facebook, and more. 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Q.E.D., 27-16 23rd Avenue, Astoria SUNDAY, DECEMBER 13 Warming Up Winter The Queens Museum invites you to escape the winter cold and enjoy www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 61
62 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
Queens Commerce BUSINESS DIRECTORY
MTP Advisors FINANCIAL SERVICES 69-64 Grand Avenue Maspeth, NY 11378 (718) 898-0871 www.mtpadvisors.com firstname.lastname@example.org
NON-PAYMENTS - HOLDOVERS HP PROCEEDINGS - ILLEGAL LOCKOUTS
Law Office Gordon Legal, P.C., 6143 186 St. | Fresh Meadows, NY 11365 QueensEvictions.com
Queens Center Chiropractors diagnose and treat common spinal misalignment’s that can occur from lifestyle or injuries causing pain, discomfort and degenerative conditions. Manny and Emanuel Tsourounakis, D.C. will treat your; back pain, sciatica, neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches, sports injuries, and work-related injuries.
DON’T LIVE WITH PAIN. CALL Queens Commerce BUSINESS DIRECTORY NOW! 718-507-5581 adowbrook
JIM’S TREE SERVICE The Meadowbrook
pike, Jericho, NY 11753 200 fax 516-433-7530 Tree Removal Pruning Topping & Stump Grinding
Available Owner Operated Over 40 Yrs. Exp Turnpike) • Fast Reliable Service. Free Estimates • Free Firewood Cut & Delivered 440 Jericho Turnpike Side Parking • Expert Tree Care Jericho NY 11753 oms • 10% Veterans and Phone: 516-681-4200 All Mirror Senior Citizen’s Discount Fax: 516-433-7530 TVs Weekly / Corporate Rates Available g (718) 352-5142 | (646) 934-2749 Power Washing ms LIE Exit 40E to 25E (Jericho Turnpike) ed Rooms Day Rates : Sun- Thurs Morning :$34 on Left-Hand Side ofridges 2 Miles Evening :$42 net Free Ample Car and Truck Parking Nightly : $85 e Fri - Sat Morning : $34 Newly Renovated Rooms ood Evening : $48 Nightly : $95 / All Mirror m Heart Shaped Jacuzzis ns Weekly / Rates Starting Rooms Flat Screen TVs Airports at $525
440 Jericho Turnpike, Jericho, NY 11753 phone 516-681-4200 fax 516-433-7530
Exclusive Smoking Subject to Availability taurant 1225 Franklin & Non Smoking RoomsAve. Suite 325 Holidays Excluded Day Rates : City, NY 11530 King Size Bed &Garden Double Bed Rooms wbrookmotorlodge.com shortstayny.com DVDs / 25 inch TVs /516-775-0100 Microfridges Sun- Thurs Morning :$34 Evening :$42 Free Wirelesswww.g-net.com Internet Nightly : $85 Located in a Private Fri - Sat Morning : $34 Secluded Neighborhood Evening : $48
MADELEINE REALTY LTD
I can Help You Find Your Home 108-23 Ascan Ave. Forest Hills, NY 11375 (718) 520-0303 www.madeleinerealty.com www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 63
64 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 65
GET SOCIAL THE BEST PLACES ON SOCIAL MEDIA TO CONNECT WITH YOUR NEIGHBORS.
WE HEART SUNNYSIDE
The We Heart Sunnyside Facebook page was founded in 2013 by the popular Astoria-based bloggers who established We Heart Astoria. While there is also a website, the Facebook page is more updated. The page follows the news as well as the arts and culture communities in the neighborhood.
QUEENS COUNCIL ON THE ARTS
To find out what exhibitions and performances are happening locally, head to the Queens Council on the Arts page for updates. The goal is to represent each artist’s diversity within the community, so you are in for something new all the time.
Jackson Heights Life offers a chance for the community to have general neighborhood chats. The Twitter account also lists activities and community events in the area. Bonus? Residents also give recommendations on restaurants, which are some of the most diverse in the world.
A group of trained NYC Emergency Management volunteers in the areas of Corona and Elmhurst aim to spread information regarding their community’s safety, emergency and disaster preparedness. 66 • Fall 2015 www.itsqueens.com
This aggregated account gives timely updates on the happenings in Northeastern neighborhoods such as Whitestone, College Point, Murray Hill, Downtown Flushing and Bayside. Much of the information comes from local papers and the local precincts.
With an arts renaissance in recent years, Long Island City is now home to artists of all kinds. The LIC CulturalAlliance page is a one-stop shop for community events like the Art Stroll as well as information for exhibitions and performances.
IN QUEENS Instagram
Have you ever wondered what Queens restaurants are serving up delicious foods? This Instagram account supports Queens’ small businesses from Astoria to Kew Gardens to South Richmond Hill. And with photos of everything from delicious burgers, pizza, coffees and desserts, the account is clearly proof that a picture is worth a thousand words.
Founded by Flushing native Amy Wu, QNSMADE is a team of seven people wanting to share the realities of Queens. Through profiles of Queens natives and transplants, as well as street portraits, business listings and a history of the various 125 neighborhoods, learn more about your neighbors.
Were you born and raised in Astoria or did you move to the area recently? This page shares the many stories of Astoria residents. Folks can share photos from around the neighborhood including captures of urban life, bridges, the sunset, subway stations and food.
This Instagram account is perfect for everything from learning history about the neighborhood to finding Ridgewood postcards and checking out the local architecture. There are even alerts on store openings! www.itsqueens.com Fall 2015 • 67
Queens Banking Ofﬁces 80-10 Eliot Avenue, Middle Village, NY 11379 • 718-651-4600 79-21 Metropolitan Avenue, Middle Village, NY 11379 • 718-326-5200 60-20 Fresh Pond Road, Middle Village, NY 11379 • 718-366-4700 455 Beach 9th Street, Belle Harbor, NY 11694 • 718-634-0333
Feature on musician Adrianna Mateo, Best pizza slices in Queens, Top 15 comedians, Top 5 vintage stores in the borough & more!