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Inside : BEST BLOGS, Top 5 SANDWICHES, Focus L.I.C.

THE MAGA ZINE SPRING 2011 | Volume 3.1



The Man Behind SJU’s Basketball Rebound

It’s List Movers & Shakers 2011

Cutting Edge

The Saw Lady of Astoria Spring 2011


Top 5 Bars

Regi ster Now

In Motion

Board Certified Dance/Movement Psychotherapist NYS Licensed Creative Arts Therapist on Staff Social, Physical, Emotional, Cognitive & Communicative Growth Through Music, Movement & Play

Movement/ Play-Based s Social Group ds) (special nee

Trial Group Available

Individual, Dyad, Siblin g, Parent & Child Sessions

GRACE EPISCOPAL CHURCH 14-15 CLINTONVILLE STREET, WHITESTONE, NY 11357 (347) 234-0677 In-Motion/168500769831188 Scan to visit

Mommy & M e (all children welcome)

2  Spring 2011

Creative Movement Classes

Our Facebook Page

Monday April 25th – Saturday April 30th

The First Annual




uckin’ go



2011 a


’ n i k c u h A S e! m i T d o o G



Calling all oyster lovers...Shuck, slurp and sip to your heart’s desire with over 8 varieties of these glorious briney bi-valves. Featuring Nightly from 6pm-9pm: s ‘Oysta Hour’ specials with ‘half-a-buck-a-shuck’ oysters & specialty cocktails sAn array of oyster dishes (fried oysters, oysters rockefeller, oyster poboys & more) slive entertainment sNightly “Slurp-off”competitions



at London Lennie’s


and to top it all off… Join us Saturday April 30th from 1-4pm as we end the week with a Celebrity Chef Shuck-off at our “OysterBash Beer Garden” $5.00 admission and LL’s Oysterbucks will admit you to our backyard festival of fun.

63-88 Woodhaven Blvd, Rego Park, N.Y. 718.894.8084


Scan to visit our website  Spring 2011  3





Discover China This Spring at Queens College CHINA This spring Queens College continues its exploration of all things China: its history and current challenges, as well as its art and culture. Come join us for fascinating free lectures by distinguished scholars, thrill to extraordinary dancers and acrobats, visit exciting art exhibits, and much more. For the most up-to-date listing of events, please visit YearOfChina

FREE LECTURES Human Development in China Carl Riskin, Distinguished Professor of Economics, Queens College THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 7 PM Rosenthal Library, Room 230 (on the ground floor)

Chinese in the United States Peter Kwong, Professor of Asian American Studies and Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 7 PM Rosenthal Library, Room 230 (on the ground floor)

Publisher Walter H. Sanchez Executive Editor Shane Miller

FREE ART EXHIBITS Arts of China in the Queens College Art Library Through late March Barham Rotunda Gallery in Rosenthal Library and other library spaces Cheap Shots: Made in China; Beijing Bicyclists and Pedestrians Through May 27 Queens College Art Center in Rosenthal Library Mansheng Wang: Art and Artlessness Through May 27 Godwin-Ternbach Museum at Queens College PERFORMANCES* The Incredible Acrobats of China The New Shanghai Circus Sun., March 6, 3 pm Colden Auditorium $18 ($12 children 12 and under) Joel Fan and Friends Joel Fan, piano;Yang Wei, pipa; Xiao-Dong Wei, erhu Sun., May 1, 2 pm LeFrak Concert Hall $36 ($34 seniors, QC ID, alumni; $15 students) Beijing Dance Academy Ballet: A Scent of Time Choreography by Yin Mei Fri., May 6 & Sat., May 7, 7:30 pm LeFrak Concert Hall $20 ($15 seniors, students, QC ID, QC alumni) To arrange for on-campus parking, please contact the Office of Events at 718-997-3600. *For tickets and information about events in Colden Auditorium or LeFrak Concert Hall, visit

Writers Lisa Fraser Danielle McClure Nigel Chiwaya Zonia Edward Nathan Tempey Valeen Kalimootoo Art Direction/Graphic Design Joe Butchey Susanna Diaz Photographers Michael O’Kane Social Media Editor Lisa Fraser Fashion Editor Holly Wilensky

Volume 3 Number 1 – Spring 2011 It’s Queens is published quarterly. Postmaster, send all address changes to It’s Queens – PO BOX 780376 – Maspeth, NY 11378. It’s Queens is a consumer magazine covering the people who move and shake Queens, from real estate trends to transportation, politics to entertainment, It’s Queens will bring our readers the ins and outs of the borough. It’s Queens is wholly owned and published by the Queens Ledger/Greenpoint Star Weekly Newspaper Group. We know enough about the borough, covering it week in and week out since 1873. Bulk mail Flushing, NY Permit #652. Copyright ©2008 It’s Queens. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without the permission of the publisher is prohibited. Any news or feature solicitation for publication in It’s Queens should be done so without expectation of use and without expectation of return to solicitor. Send correspondence to . Subscriptions are $7.95 per year. Inquiries for subscriptions - Mail to PO BOX 780376, Maspeth, NY 11378. (718) 639-7000.

On the Cover: Steve Lavin (Photo by Mekale Jackson)

4  Spring 2011 YOC_QL_SP11.indd 1

Senior Editor Daniel Bush

2/23/11 11:14 AM

Contents FEATURES 25 The It’s List

We rank the borough’s Top 15 Movers and Shakers of 2011.

34 Steve Lavin

The man behind St. John’s miracle basketball turnaround.

36 Playing Teeth

From subways to the stage; inside the life of Astoria’s Saw Lady.

“Coaching at St. John’s has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.” STEVE LAVIN


8 Technology

Lose the goggles with glasses-free 3D.

12 Made in Queens Chilling with Mamita’s Ices.

14 Top 5: Bars

An epic pub crawl in search of the best bars outside of LIC/Astoria.

42 Fashion

New to New York? Call the Dress Recycler’s Superhero hotline.

54 Entertainment

Tango at Thalia Spanish Theatre.

66 Blogging Queens

Our guide to the borough’s best blogs.

20 Culture Spot The sandwich throwdown.  Spring 2011  5

Publisher’s Note WALTER SANCHEZ




in the

This Issue Is Sure To Show You Something You Haven’t Seen

Visiting and picking the top drinking holes in Queens (outside Long Island City and Astoria) took a great deal of time and hard research (yeah right!), according to our senior editor Dan Bush, but I think we nailed it in this issue. Bars in Astoria and LIC are certainly in another league, but our Top Five hold their own when it comes to our criteria: drink menu, atmosphere, uniqueness, comfortability and customer profile. Check out our list on page 14. With nearly two-and-a-half million people in Queens, you could live here a lifetime and never experience 90% of the borough. Our mission at It’s Queens is to give you some of those hidden treasures to stimulate your love for this diverse county. My favorite story in this issue is about Mamita’s Homemade Ices, which starts on page 12. Lisa Fraser captures the small beginnings of this family business on Liberty Avenue to the $7 million company that churns out 100,000 ices a day that is has become. Cherry Valley Deli in Whitestone is a staple of Queens. It’s well known throughout the city for great food and a great place to hangout. If you don’t know about it, ask your kids. It’s featured in our Supreme Sandwiches story, which rates the best sandwiches in Queens. If you haven’t seen The Saw Lady of the Subways, get to know this Astoria native in Nathan Tempey’s feature piece on page 36. The It’s List: Top Movers & Shakers of Queens 2011 has a few hidden faces you’ll want to know, such as Peter Cardella, a mild mannered 94-year-old senior advocate who politicians have to go through if they want the Ridgewood vote. And only handsome guys like Steve Lavin make it on our cover. He is on the verge of making St. John’s basketball a national powerhouse and Queens the college basketball town it once was. Read his story on page 34 By the way, thanks to our digital design guru Joe Butchey, we are on the cutting edge of digital magazine development. Check out the digital edition on your phone by scanning the barcode below. It’s pretty neat and we’re proud of it. Walter


Scan To View 6  Spring 2011

Queens Buzz

A quick rundown of what Queens residents are talking about...

Atlas Park

The anticipation is over for the future of Glendale’s Atlas Park. The outdoor shopping area was rescued from the rubble in an auction event after two years of being in foreclosure. It was purchased by Macerich: the same company that owns Queens Center Mall. It’s still up in the air which stores will remain and which new ones that will join the mall. The bookstore Border’s, however, is still alive and kicking and will continue its run at Atlas Park. This is a topic to watch.


Superstore giant Walmart is still fighting the battle to open a store in New York City. It’s been a long battle that doesn’t seem to be coming to an end. Walmart has a reputation - deserved or not - for discriminating against women and overworking their employees for little pay. Because of this, unions and NYC pols aren’t welcoming the store chain with open arms. That said, polls show many residents support the store for its low prices and quality items.

Queens: A Taste Of The World

Get your taste buds ready for a chance to sample the best restaurants  in Queens under one roof for one night only. On May 10, the annual “Queens – A Taste of the World” event will be held at Citi Field. Over forty of Queen’s most talented chefs will whip up small portions of their best foods and desserts for tasting in buffet style. So prepare yourself for a delicious and filling night. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for free tickets.


... and what they no longer care about.



As Aqueduct transforms into a racino this summer, the controversy left and right about political scandals involving the deal have all but subsided. Cheating and lobbying behind the scenes during the bidding process dominated the story, but that has given was to excitement about its grand opening.

The MTA once again took out some steam on the straphangers of New York City. Fare hikes were big talk in the ending months of 2010, but since the beginning of this year it’s all died down. The proposal was passed. The metrocard prices were raised. There was no choice but to buy them. You just have to suck it up and move on with your life until the next hike train comes rolling into the station again.

Big Apple Circus

Want to have some “jump out your seat” fun? Swing into action with The Big Apple Circus, which is back in town from May 21 - June 5 at Cunningham Park. Included is a very diverse cast like an Ethiopian juggler, Chinese lasso twirlers and monocyclists, miniature horses, delightful clowns, and much more. It is an experience for all ages and will have you on the edge of your seats.

Frank Padavan

Smoking Ban

Your thoughts and ideas of civil liberties might as well be kept to yourself, because the public smoking ban has passed and is ready to go into effect as summer comes its way. Whether you like it or not, new “No Smoking” signs will be posted in parks, beaches and public plazas all across the city. A $50 fine will be issued to those who violate it – and there are no if’s and/ or “butts” about that.

Snow Storm

After a 38-year reign as state senator, the people wanted a change and Frank Padavan was voted out. In his place, Democrat Tony Avella gladly took the seat, but Padavan did not go down without a fight. Demanding a recount and citing the use of faulty equipment, Padavan did everything in his power to make sure the numbers were wrong. But, the numbers did not lie this time. With a 3,000votes lead, Padavan had to step down and hand over the crown to Avella.

It’s finally over. For a couple of months, New York City was buried in mounds of snow. On Dec. 26, 2010, the first big blizzard kicked off the winter season, bringing over 20 inches of snow in some areas across the city and a total amount of about 60 inches of snow for the entire season. Frustration abounded as streets weren’t cleaned quickly enough. Now that Mother Nature decided to settle down from her rampage across the city, all the talk and hype about it has as well.  Spring 2011  7


Glasses-free 3D New offerings from Nintendo, LG and HTC aim to make 3D less annoying By Nigel Chiwaya I think it’s safe to say that most of us are a little sick of 3D. When 3D returned to mainstream movies starting with 2009’s My Bloody Valentine, business execs and suits from every walk of the entertainment world began hailing it as the next big thing. Soon we were seeing studios trip over themselves to add 3D elements to their films. Never mind that most films, like 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, weren’t ready for 3D and only showed 10 minutes of the movie in the third dimension, the assault was on. By the time Christmas 2009 and Avatar rolled around everyone was onboard the gravy train. We were seeing our first 3D television sets; Sony began to dabble with 3D Playstation 3 games; and every single movie had a 3D variant to go along with it. And yet 3D never really took off. Sales of 3D televisions have been stagnant, and no one really plays those 3D PS3 games.

“...most “...most of of us us are are aa little little sick sick of of 3D” 3D”

Nigel Chiwaya is the Editor-in-Chief of SmartphonePedia and covers smartphones, tablets, and all things mobile at

Scan To Visit

Why? Part of it was price: in order to enjoy 3D at home you would have to buy a brand new television set, and it was hard to convince the recession-hammered consumer that the HDTV they spent $2,000 on two years ago was suddenly obsolete. The other part was simple: 3D is just kinda cumbersome. In order to watch anything you have to wear bulky glasses (and heaven forbid if you already wear eyeglasses). But it seems like the entertainment companies are getting the message, and while they might not be banishing 3D to the same corner of the tech world as Betamax and HDDVD, at least they’re starting to tweak it. Want proof? Take a look at the latest offerings from Nintendo, LG, and HTC. These companies are offering devices that promise to offer a full 3D experience without the need for bulky glasses and at a reasonable price point. First: Nintendo. In March they released their latest Gameboy successor: the Nintendo 3DS. Like the Nintendo DS before it, this handheld system offers two screens and fully 3D graphics. However, the device gets its name because the top screen is a 3D screen and can project a 3D image. Even better, there is no need for eyeglasses; the user just needs to focus their eyes. Nintendo also smartly realizes that not everyone will want or even be able to play 3D games–some people get headaches–so they have included a slider button on the device which can control the intensity of the 3D images. When it comes to affordability, the 3DS is priced at $249.99.

8  Spring 2011 8  Spring 2011

Moving away from the gaming sector, we have LG and HTC, two smartphone manufacturers. Their latest cellphones, the LG Thrill 4G and the HTC EVO 3D, respectively, offer the same 3D technology as the 3DS, removing the need for 3D glasses. Both devices even include a 3D camera for taking photos, and will offer a full suite of 3D games and apps. While neither phone has a launch date or price yet, we can assume that the devices will be priced at the usual $199-$249.99 smartphone price range when they launch on their respective networks: the Thrill 4G on AT&T and the EVO 3D on Sprint. That’s not to say that these products are perfect; in fact there are many quite a few issues with them. Since they don’t require 3D glasses, the viewing angle for the screens is very small–the moment you un-focus your eyes or move the device the 3D effect will vanish. Also, there is yet to be compelling evidence that 3D really adds to games or movies, and there is especially little evidence to prove that 3D will work on such small screens. But that’s what makes these devices so compelling; the 3D aspect is not the dominating feature and can be turned off. The 3DS has other compelling features to it, like augmented reality games that make use of the device’s camera. The LG Thrill and EVO 3D are still more powerful than some laptop computers and have access to over 130,000 apps. With these three devices, 3D is just a gimmick, a nice side-feature. And that’s exactly what it should be.  Spring 2011  9





2D Bar Codes open up a whole new level of reader interaction. By scanning the bar code with your phone, you can visit a we page, watch a video, send a text message, and more. Try these out and visit our various mobile sites. Ready to get started? Here’s how: First, visit the App Store on your phone. Once you’re there, search for “QR Code Reader” We recommend NeoReader for the iPhone and Blackberry, Barcode Scanner for Android, and QR-Decode for Palm WebOS phones. Once you’ve got your app installed, open it and scan the barcode.

Queens Ledger

Leader/ Observer

10  Spring 2011

Glendale Register

Queens Examiner

Forest Hills Times

Greenpoint Star

Long Island City Journal

Brooklyn Downtown Star  Spring 2011  11

Made in Queens


Homemade Ices

Javier Morel (right) and his family members run the Mamita’s Ices factory in Ozone Park.

12  Spring 2011

Made in Queens: Mamita’s Homemade Ices

Manufacturing frozen treats that beat the heat By LISA FRASER


t all started with a pot, some milk, vanilla and eight siblings who always couldn’t wait to get home from school to savor their grandmother’s sweet, icy mix. That was many years ago in the Dominican Republic. Fast-forward to 2011 and out of that afterschool tradition grew an ices factory that now distributes to many delis and bodegas across New York and other states. It’s called Mamita’s, after the affectionate name given to the Morel family’s grandmother. The Ozone Park factory sits under the elevated A train line on 100th Street and Liberty Avenue. With its navy blue and white awning and the drawing of a smiling woman with upswept hair – fashioned after Mrs. Morel – it’s not hard to miss. But finding the right entrance is a challenge. Once you walk in, you are greeted with a painting that transports you to the tropics, while simultaneously the cold air from the freezers wafts out. Javier Morel - who heads the business with his three brothers four sisters, and mother and father - is in and out but any number of his jubilant family members are usually around to greet the occasional guest who is interested in purchasing ices by the box – a small retail portion that gives the factory a relationship with the neighborhood. The Morels immigrated to New

York from Santiago in 1990 in search of opportunity. After they settled in South Ozone Park, one sister, Nieves, began to make cocount-flavored ices and sold batches of 30 to 50 to neighborhood stores. “People soon started to buy them more and more,” said Javier Morel, a clean-shaven man with a soft-spoken demeanor. At the time, they were still made at home in the family’s kitchen.

After an unsuccessful attempt to run a restaurant, the Morels took a risk and started an ices-only factory. They pooled together money, bought the needed machines and now the kitchen concoctions are a booming business. It wasn’t hard for the Morels to get into the rhythm of running a factory. The eight siblings were already used to it since their father owned a business in the Dominican Republic, where they spent time packing boxes. In 2004, the current space – a former nightclub – opened up and the Morels swooped in, expanding it to 9,500 square feet. Recently, the family bought the laundromat next door and

are expanding again. The new space will bring another five people on staff, adding to the 25 extended family members and local residents who already work there. The factory churns out 100,000 ices a day and distributes them to over 5,000 customers in Puerto Rico, Miami, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Boston, Connecticut, North Carolina and New York. Mamita’s brings in over $7 million a year. “We’ve seen people try to do [the same], but so far nobody has come close,” Morel said. Mamita’s produces seven flavors of ices: coconut, batata (sweet potato) cream, raspberry cream, tamarind, passion fruit, raspberry lime and mango. (Morel’s favorite is the raspberry.) The ices sell for one dollar in stores. In the summer months, when the factory reaches its peak sales, the coconut, batata cream and tamarind rake in the most sales. During the winter, sales dip, but Morel plans to change that: he’s looking into products that will always be in demand year-round, such as cheese, which he plans to start producing in a month, and fruit juices. “We have to look to produce things that will last through all seasons,” he said. “Everybody eats cheese, but not everybody eats ices. That’s exactly how you stay strong.” Morel never thought that the homemade ices would become so big. Best of all, he said, “you get to see your family everyday. Sometimes we fight but it doesn’t go farther than that; a few minutes after we make up.”  Spring 2011  13

A night’s tale In search of the best nightlife in Queens (Outside of Astoria and Long Island City)


Everyone’s been to the beer gardens in Astoria, so forget about those. Scratch all of Long Island City as well - there’s only so many ways to paint LIC red, and they all end with an illegal nightcap in Gantry Plaza State Park. When it comes to nightlife in Queens, there’s more to the borough than its two hippest neighborhoods. From old-school Irish taverns to upscale Chinese dance clubs, the country’s most diverse county has something for every kind of late-night rabble-rouser. Brooklyn may be the new Manhattan, but Queens stands on its own. To prove this, It’s Queens went in search of the best taprooms in less-heralded neighborhoods. We set our sights on well-known watering holes and unknown holes in the wall, fancy cocktail lounges, and “my cousin Mario swears by this place” kind of places. Consideration on our pub crawl was given to all of the essentials - location, drink selection, special features, clientele, music, and service. It was also given to the wholly unscientific whims of our driver, Elis Gomez, who stopped his Cadillac Escalade SUV wherever he damn well pleased. Elis knows the best bars, as well as the best after-hours duck joint in all of Flushing, among other secrets.

14  Spring 2011

The atmosphere at Play, a multi-purpose venue on Queens Boulevard with bowling and billiards, resembles a chic Manhattan nightspot.  Spring 2011  15

Neir’s Tavern

87-48 78th Street, Woodhaven (718) 296-0600

8:04 P.M.

“What’s a-matter with you?” Robert De Niro asks a money-flashing wiseguy in the famous Goodfellas scene shot at Neir’s Tavern in Woodhaven. “Are you stupid or what?” Cadwallader R. Coldon certainly wasn’t. He’s the improbably named, politically connected racetrack manager who founded the tavern in 1829. Neir’s has served German conversation water almost without interruption ever since, making it arguably the oldest bar in Queens and one of the oldest in all of New York. De Niro’s character Jimmy Conway didn’t want fancy visitors, and neither do Neir’s regulars. The narrow, low-ceilinged bar is a no-frills trip down memory lane. It has cheap drinks ($3 Budweiser; $4 Jameson’s) and live music from local acts a few nights per week. Well-worn armchairs make do for décor; a 2009 renovation restored the original mahogany bar and some fixtures. The night we visited the bar, on stop one of our tour, Jimmy Young was the featured performer. The former backup singer for Salt-N-Pepa wore a fedora, slacks and sharkskin shoes. “We’ll bring you the best entertainment that we can,” he promised. After trying out some new material, Young set to work fixing the karaoke machine, which was having some problems. A woman named Linda was waiting impatiently for the chance to sing “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley.

Rockaway Beach Inn

88-22 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Rockaway Beach (347) 246 7433

16  Spring 2011

10:32 P.M. Don’t be fooled by the name; this hard-scrabble bar is no romantic getaway. Located a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean in a brick building that looks like a factory, Rockaway Beach Inn is the perfect working-class hangout. After a day on the beach, unwind at RBI’s with a half-dozen pints of Coors Light ($2.25 each), then use the conveniently placed handrail to steady yourself on the way to the john before making the long trip home. While you’re at it, talk pipefitting with the union plumbers at the bar, and don’t take offense when they call you a “mainlander,” that’s the term peninsula natives use for their borough neighbors across Jamaica Bay. Someone going “uptown” in the Rockaways is headed west, by the way (downtown is in the opposite direction, Christopher Columbus). RBI’s keeps it spare and simple. Comfortable booths line the wall facing the bar, which is tended most nights by a friendly woman named Mary, and for fun, there’s a dartboard and pool table, which has a pair of eight balls, but is missing the two. A man smoking a cigarette inside offered to find it for us. “Are you sure? We can just play with two eight balls.” “What do you wanna do that for?” he asked with a hint of disdain. “What are you missing again?” The two, Eric said. The man nodded and disappeared behind a door. A few minutes later he came back with a five ball and handed it over without a word. He was too big to argue with, so we leave it alone.

Night Tale

12:13 P.M. The lounge at the Sheraton East LaGuardia Hotel in Downtown Flushing closes way too early, but around the corner on a back street behind a gaudy Korean karaoke palace is a small nondescript club called Night Tale. It’s where twentysomethings from Flushing go to play dice games and pound pitchers of Hennessy and tea. The game - called “Liar” or “Bullshit” in English - involves a blue dice-rolling cup, shots of liquor and fourth-grade math. The drinking part is easy, but overcoming a language

133-22 39th Avenue, Flushing

barrier while trying to add multiples of three in a strobe-lit, smoke-filled dungeon can get complicated quickly. Our recommendation? Stick to your Hennessy and watch the locals go at it. Because let’s face it: visitors from elsewhere in Queens are no less foreign at Night Tale than mainlanders at RBI’s. It’s a different world, where the regular rules don’t apply.

“Our recommendation? Stick to your Hennessy and watch the locals go at it.”  Spring 2011  17

77-17 Queens Boulevard, Elmhurst


) 47




2:08 A.M. Queens can get fancy in a hurry if you’re on the right guest list.

We weren’t, but after a brief negotiation the manager of Play on Queens Boulevard promised VIP treatment and ushered us past a long line of people waiting to get in. He ignored Joe’s tie-dye sweatshirt, or maybe one look at Terrence was enough to convince him that were not prepared to follow the dress code. At least we pulled up in an Escalade... Play is one of the borough’s most exclusive venues, despite its location on a boulevard better known for its number of car crashes than happening nightspots. There’s a gleaming bar, a regulation-sized four-lane bowling alley, hookah lounge, live DJ’s and good-looking go-go dancers. Everything is top of the line, including the prices and the clientele, if what you like are muscleheads, hipsters and beauty queen dreamers with an expert knowledge of the Long Island Expressway. The place also attracts a diverse smattering of wellheeled locals. “That’s the great thing about Queens,” said Thane Gevas, the club’s

owner. “You have Italians, Greeks, Japanese, everybody. Put them all in a room together...” his voice trailed off. It’s worth a trip to find out what happens. Just remember: leave the tiedye at home and don’t drink too many “Sneaky Pete’s” (rum martini; $10), or else you’ll roll gutterballs all night.

Sean Og’s

60-02 Woodside Avenue,Woodside (718) 899-3499

3:19 A.M. Last call is cause to celebrate, because we’ve made it this far without fighting a bouncer or crashing our car. So we roll to Woodside, where those two things are most likely to happen after a long night on the town. That is called logic. And dedication. Logical dedication,

the best kind. At this late-night hour the pubheavy intersection of Woodside Avenue and 60th Street, where they converge on Roosevelt Avenue under the elevated train, is the liveliest in Queens. There are several dives to choose from. If they all look the same you’ve probably had too much to drink. Just and pick one; times’ a wasting. Saints and Sinners has been a favorite for years, but these days the more popular option is Sean Og’s, a traditional Irish pub that stays packed until it is required by law to stop serving alcohol. (No fear: the bar is open 118 hours per week, out of a possible 168.) Og’s has 23 beers on tap, good deals on pitchers ($10 domestic; $15 imported), and an attractive interior with plenty of room for large parties. There’s even a stained-glass window.


:26 A.M. We’re headed to Spanish Harlem. If that’s not in Queens it doesn’t matter anymore. Peter is hoping a bodega will sell us some boiling water (priceless) for a special tea pick-me-up. Elis the driver has not taken off his crisp gray suit jacket, or loosened his tie. As long as we’re headed uptown, he says, he knows of a great little spot.

18  Spring 2011

THIS IS WHAT SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE FOR SMALL’S FOOD STORE. Yellowbook used a full spectrum of marketing tools to find the right solution for Small’s Food Store. Our marketing consultant assessed their business fully, then implemented a website with a strong search engine presence, a video ad, a hardworking online ad and much more. To discover all the colorful new tools from Yellowbook, visit









© 2011 Yellow Book USA, Inc. All rights reserved. Yellowbook® is a registered trademark and Yellowbook360SM and Beyond YellowSM are service marks of Yellow Book USA, Inc.  Spring 2011  19


Rating The Best ‘Wiches In The Borough By Danielle McClure


veryone loves a sandwich, whether it’s grilled, pressed, piled high, or just a plain PB&J. From India to Cuba to Italy, sandwiches cross every cultural divide, and in a borough as diverse and delicious as our fair Queens, there are more mouth-watering combinations of bread, meat and cheese than imaginable. We rated five of the best to determine which ‘wich reigns supreme.

r’s Editooice Ch

Cherry Valley Deli & Grill

12-29 150th St., Whitestone | (718) 767-1937 | EDITOR’S CHOICE | It’s Queens Rating: 94


ans of the outrageous, gut-busting “grease truck” sandwiches, which notoriously squeeze everything from mozzarella sticks to French fries to brown gravy and cold cuts inside a hero, certainly don’t have to trek all the way to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to satiate their crazy cravings — especially when there’s Cherry Valley Deli in Whitestone. This neighborhood fave has an equally egregious reputation (and cultlike following) for its selection of sinful sammies and 24-hour service. It might look like your average corner deli, but it packs a serious palatal punch with a daunting menu that includes dozens of deliciously 20  Spring 2011

kooky combos that are sure to test the limits of your waistband. With names like The Beast (chicken cutlet, bacon, Swiss cheese, onion rings and brown gravy), The Fat Cat (two burgers, bacon-fried onions, French fries and American cheese), and Macho Man (grilled roast beef, mozzarella, Swiss, fried onions and brown gravy), ordering is half the fun. The somewhat basic TSC — a chicken cutlet with brown gravy and American cheese on a toasted hero ($6.99) — is really the way to go and it’s good till the last bite. No matter what crazy combo tingles your taste buds, these sandwiches are so mouth-watering good that no matter where you are, you’ll definitely wanna come back for more.

SUPREME SANDWICHES: Rating The Best ‘Wiches In The Borough

Sal, Kris & Charlie’s Deli 3312 23rd Ave., Astoria | (718) 278-9240

BEST VALUE | It’s Queens Rating: 90


here’s a reason why these guys are known as The Sandwich Kings of Astoria. The superb service, stellar quality and generous quantity of their amazing, massive sandwiches have become legendary in the hood. It’s not uncommon to find a line winding around the block during a busy lunch hour. With a large variety to choose from, it’s The American ($7), otherwise known as The Bomb, where you’ll get the biggest bang for you buck. It’s a whopping 13-inch ‘wich on a sesame hero piled high with, well, everything in the deli pantry: ham, turkey, salami, roast beef, pepperoni, mortadella, American, Swiss and provolone cheeses, lettuce, tomato, onion, roasted peppers, mustard, mayo, and dressing. It’s so thick and hearty that it’s certainly big enough for two meals (for novice patrons), and definitely not for the faint of heart. While some might argue that it’s just too much to put between two slices of bread, diehard fans are more than willing to stretch their jaws and their stomachs for the sloppy goodness, which surprisingly lives up to its hype in girth and flavor. No matter what you order, Sal, Kris and Charlie’s sandwiches are, you guessed it, the bomb.

Leo’s Latticini-Mama’s

4602 104th St., Corona | (718) 898-6069 It’s Queens Rating: 89


alking into this neighborhood mainstay is like stepping into grandmother’s kitchen. The cozy vibe, heartwarming smiles and aromas envelope you like a familiar hug. The food served up is truly comforting for the soul. Steps away from the 7 train, this adorable little Italian market is a can’tmiss landmark; the place is practically an institution and has been family owned and operated for over 80 years. They go out of their way to make every patron feel right at home, and the hearty, delicious coldcut sandwiches are lip-smacking good. Mama’s Special ($7) is a traditional Southern Italian hero comprised of sweet prosciuttini, spicy salami, and fresh mozzarella that melts in your mouth, along with marinated mushrooms and tangy peppers on a fresh-baked roll that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. While it’s somewhat small for the price, Mama’s Special still delivers a stellar sandwich.  Spring 2011  21

SUPREME SANDWICHES: Rating The Best ‘Wiches In The Borough

Mumbai Xpress

256-05 Hillside Ave., Floral Park | (718) 470-0059 It’s Queens Rating: 88


rilled cheese sandwiches are typically nothing to write home about, but the super-tasty tripledecker (and vegetarian friendly) Mumbai sandwich ($4.99) from this far-flung Indian restaurant elevates the kid-friendly staple into serious sandwich territory. What sets it apart? Creamy Amul brand butter and cheese (straight from India) to start. The vibrant green color, from the surprisingly mellow coriander chutney, along with thinly sliced potatoes and crisp green peppers and onions, which add a nice crunch, make this sandwich undeniably unique and so unforgettable it’s definitely worth the trek.

Rincon Criollo

4009 Junction Blvd., Elmhurst | (718) 639-8158 | It’s Queens Rating: 83


othing beats a killer Cubano and Rincon Criollo does it right — for the most part. This cozy, family-friendly restaurant has loads of old school charm and an expansive menu of exceptional Cuban eats, but the basic sandwich, comprised of roast pork, ham, mustard, crunchy pickles and gooey Swiss cheese, is a definite standout. While the pressed bread is somewhat unconventional and not quite as crisp as anticipated, it was still traditionally super-thin and didn’t overpower the other ingredients. The thick-slices of pork are tasty, if somewhat dry and there’s not nearly enough cheese for this ‘wich lover, but it’s still stands up to its reputation as one of the best in the borough.

It’s Queens Rating Key 95-100: Superb - The pinnacle of quality. 90-94: E  xcellent - Classic and highly recommended. 85-89: G  ood - Overall great value and flavor. Well recommended. 22  Spring 2011

80-84: Acceptable - Tasty but not great. 70-79: Average - Good but has several minor flaws. 60-50: Below average/Poor - Not recommended.




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24  Spring 2011

It’s List TOP


Movers & Shakers


Millions of people call Queens home. A select few run the show. Call them the borough’s movers and shakers, behindthe-scenes entrepreneurs, artists and neighborhood leaders who push the envelope in positive ways. They set art and food trends, drive public discourse and work tirelessly to better their communities. Now it’s time they get their due.

25  Spring 2011  Spring 2011  25

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Chana Porter Playwright

Robina Niaz

Founder of Turning Point

Peter Cardella

Community Leader This Ridgewood patriarch is the man behind a bustling senior center that bears his name and an Italian-American federation that runs the annual Fresh Pond Road street festival. Cardella enjoyed a successful career in coat manufacturing before turning to the business of running the Peter Cardella Senior Citizen’s Center in the 1970’s. Since then he’s emerged as an influential spokesman for the greater Ridgewood area; an interview with him is a required campaign stop for elected officials and political hopefuls seeking office. And at 94, the hands-on do-gooder has shown no signs of slowing down: the senior center is expanding this year.

26  Spring 2011

When Robina Niaz started Turning Point for Women and Families in 2004, she never thought that the organization would gain as much acclaim as it has in its six-year existence. In recent years, Niaz, and her organization, have been recognized by CNN Heroes, NY1’s New Yorker of the Week, and last year she was named a recipient of the Bank of America Neighborhood Excellence Initiative Award, which recognizes local leaders who are making a difference in their communities. Niaz founded the organization when she reached her own turning point after a stormy marriage. The organization is the only nonprofit in New York City that caters to the needs of Muslim women regardless of ethnicity and addresses domesticviolence in the Muslim community, offering free services. So far, it has helped over 400 women.

Growing up in Maryland, Chana Porter struggled with a stuttering problem, and so turned to writing and acting as a way to overcome her communication issues. What started as a emotional release has since turned into a career. So far she has written five plays, three of which have been performed on stage, and her latest, Besharet, recently was produced by AliveWire Theatrics and had a run at the 9th Space theater in March. Porter’s goal is to be a part of growing the art scene in Queens, and she says she is inspired by the diversity of her new home. “I want my plays to be about everyone, and Queens is the best place to start,” she recently told It’s Queens. “I really love Queens so much; you really get the sense of this is where people’s lives are. There are so many people who care and take pride in themselves and what they have.”

Rekha Malhotra DJ

Well known for her Basement Bhangra music that blends the South Asian style with hip hop beats, Rekha Malhotra might have been born in London but she is a Queens girl all the way. More famously known as DJ Rekha, she grew up in Queens and got a degree in Urban Studies from Queens College. In 1997, Rekha created a NewYork dance party which takes place every first Thursday of the month at Sounds of Brazil (S.O.B.’s). The party has since put Bhangra music on the map. She has collaborated with numerous artists and in 2007, released her debut album, DJ Rekha presents Basement Bhangra. But that’s not her only passion. Always an activist in college, Rekha is also involved with many nonprofit organizations including CHHAYA Community Development Corporation and Breakthrough, a human rights organization.

Richard Mazda


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Founder of The Secret Theatre A London native who immigrated to New York in 2004, Mazda is the founder of one of Long Island City’s premier places to check out: The Secret Theatre. Located in the heart of Long Island City, the venue - formed in 2007 - shows that great theatre can happen in Queens. The theatre produces roughly seven to ten shows a year, with varying productions from outside companies. This spring it will host a production of Parade, the Musical. Mazda is a strong voice for the borough, which he says is often overlooked even though the neighborhoods of Long Island City and Astoria are no strangers to the film industry. “Anybody who has a business in Queens is fighting the perception that if you live in Queens you go somewhere else, and that’s really ridiculous,” he said last year at the press conference for the Astoria/Long Island City Film Festival. A recordproducer and actor, Mazda is also currently the festival director of The LIC Arts Open, as well as the founder and an executive director of The Queens Fringe Festival, set to happen in May.

Alia Akkam

Founder and Editorial Director, The Q Note Want to be up to date on all of the ultra-cool and creative things, events, and people the borough of Queens has to offer? Well then, you better get on the mailing list of right away. TheQNote. com is the brainchild of Alia Akkam, a Queens resident who spent her young years in Laurelton before being dragged to Long Island by her parents, but now she is renewing her love affair with the borough through her website. features cultural happenings, tips on new places to eat, and will even let you in on something as mundane but necessary as a good hardware store. Queens may get overlooked by Manhattan and Brooklyn, but TheQNote is quickly working to change that.

NiCKI Minaj Recording Artist

Since Run-D.M.C. burst on the scene in the mid 1980’s, Queens has emerged as a training ground for some of hip hop’s biggest stars, from Nas to 50 Cent. They set music and fashion trends, dominate the blogosphere and rule the airwaves all summer long. The borough’s MC du jour is Nicki Minaj, a multi-talented transplant from Trinidad and Tobago who gained prominence after releasing her first mix tape in 2007. Today, she’s a major recording artist with a long career ahead of her. Here’s hoping she never loses her saucy Southeast Queens accent.

Daniel Leone Executive Director, Queens Public Television

Daniel Leone controls the airwaves in Queens. Well, actually, to hear Leone tell you, you control the airwaves, he’s just the man who keeps the shows up and running. Leone has been executive director of QPTV for the last 5 years, and in that time has worked to make sure QPTV reaches as a broad an audience as possible, one that reflects the diversity of the borough itself, and at the same time improving the quality of the programs and making them as relevant as possible.  Spring 2011  27

It’s List


Dr. Uma Mysorekar

President, Hindu Temple Society of North America / National Spokesperson for Hindu Religion

For the past 17 years, Dr. Uma Mysorekar has been president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, a position that includes managing the day-today operations of the 30-employee organization, which oversees, organizes and assists with major Hindu events and celebrations throughout New York and the country. Mysorekar, a Flushing resident, is widely regarding as the spokesperson for Hinduism in the United States. She must be articulate, spiritual, highly communicative and be an unwavering leader. Mysorekar fits the bill flawlessly. Articulate and spiritual, Mysorekar is continually initiating discussion forums, organizing awareness campaigns and diversity programs, and meeting within cultural and political circles in order to quietly and effectively approach issues which promote diverse religious tolerance and acceptance. Her appearance on “The Colbert Report” in June of 2008 is a telling example indeed. Although host Stephen Colbert tried quite hard to poke fun and trivialize the Hindu religion, Mysorekar took it in stride, held her own, and in fact was able to use the show to educate.“The mind commits sins, not the soul” she told Colbert’s rabid audience.

It’s List


It’s List


Katha & Don Cato Film Festival directors

Long-time Jackson Heights residents Don and Katha Cato made their mark in March when they revamped last year’s controversial International Queens Film Festival, transforming it into the Queens World Film Festival with over 400 films from all parts of the globe. Don Cato is an award winning filmmaker and has made over 35 films of all different lengths, styles and genres. Katha Cato is the director of After-School and Camp Services at Henry Street Settlement. Both are passionate artists and relish working together. The Queens World Film Festival was an opportunity to bring all of their passions together and contribute to the cultural fabric of Queens.

Gabriela Granados Dancer and Artistic Director of American Bolero Dance Company

Gabriela Granados is a Flamenco firestorm. The Peruivan-born dancer put Queens on the map as a destination for a good night of Flamenco dance and song when she opened the Long Island City-based American Bolero Dance Company in 1996. Since then, the acclaimed performance of Tablao Flamenco is a much anticipated event each spring where the audience enjoys a table seat while local and national singers and dancers gather in a one-of-a-kind showcase of the intricacies and beauty of the classic Spanish dance at the Auditorium Centro Espanol in Astoria. Growing up in Peru, Granados knew her life would involve dance. She studied Flamenco in Spain before moving back to Queens to start the company, which also offers classes. She has plans to take Tablao Flamenco to different boroughs soon, even though she is glad to have made her start in Queens. “Queens is a good place to be,” she said. “A lot of people here support what I do.”

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It’s List


Kristie Foster Boutique Owner

The owner of KrisTEES boutique in Astoria, Kristie Foster has been in the fashion industry for 13 years. The contemporary boutique started four and a half years ago, creatively weaving fashion into community by collaborating on events with other local businesses. Keeping in line with Astoria’s diversity, KrisTEES showcases small designers from around the world in a gallery-like style while also working with main-stream fashion industry professionals like Peruvian stylist Peter Valcarcel. Since opening KrisTEES in 2006, she has enriched the neighborhood creating a platform for young emerging local and global designers to shine while focusing on understated looks that have a contemporary edge. In addition to unique pieces to wear, Foster seeks out local artists to display their work alongside her collections, blending seamlessly. To Foster, fashion and art go hand in hand, so why not show them together? Foster has been featured in Lucky Magazine and Time Out NY. She has also been recognized numerous times by Mayor Bloomberg for her commitment to enriching Astoria.

It’s List


Tom Finkelpearl Executive Director, Queens Museum of Art


It’s List

When Tom Finkelpearl took over the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the museum was mostly known as the home to the scale model of New York City known as The Panorama and as an homage to the two World’s Fairs held in the park decades ago. Today, it is respected in the New York City art world as a museum at the cutting edge of modern art, hosting exhibits and shows that draw serious art connoisseurs from all over the city. And the museum is currently undergoing an expansion that will double its size, and no doubt its reputation as one of the top museums in New York City.

Lidia Bastianich Celebrity Chef

Lidia Bastianich may not have been born in Queens, but she’s become a Queens girl through and through. At the age of 14, Bastianich and her family moved to Astoria, where she began working in Italian restaurants, her first introduction to the food industry. In 1971, she opened her first restaurant, Buonavia, in Forest Hills. From there, the Bastianich restaurant empire continued to grow throughout New York City, and in 1999 the James Beard Foundation named Bastianich the best chef in New York City. In 1993, Bastianich was invited to appear on Julia Child’s cooking show, and her own successful television career soon took off. When it came time to film, Bastianich shunned a studio kitchen and instead filmed her show in her own kitchen in Douglaston, the neighborhood she still calls home.  Spring 2011  29

It’s List


Darryl Strawberry New York Mets Outfielder Restauranteur

Darryl Strawberry may have finished out his career with the other New York professional baseball team (we think they’re called the Yankees), but to most baseball fans, especially here in Queens, Strawberry will always be the property of the Mets - the ‘86 World Championship Mets, to be exact. As passionate on the field as off it, Strawberry was hated by opposing teams, but adored by Mets fans. Long since retired, Strawberry is making more news in Queens, opening Strawberry’s Sports Bar & Grill earlier this year. So head out to Douglaston and bask in the memorabilia of Straw’s days with the Mets (and some from his days with the Yankees, too), and enjoy a cocktail and one of the best pulled pork sandwiches in the borough.

30  Spring 2011

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Some people have complained that our ads are a bit too wordy. For those of you that agree please enjoy some pictures of the type of work we do.

32  Spring 2011


Window Systems Inc. Westchester LLC.

Windows • Doors • Siding • Roofing

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HIRE ONLY CERTIFIED EXPERTS It’s in Your Best Interest When choosing a contractor for any project it’s most important to select an expert in that particular field. How do you know if a person is an expert? Ask some questions, it’s that simple. First and foremost, you have to ask what different types of work a contractor performs. If you’re looking for windows to be installed, you should ask what else the contractor does. He will probably think you’re interested in other work and gladly tell you all the things he does. The next question is designed to find out if the same crew will be doing both types of work. This is the important question because a crew that installs bathrooms should not be installing windows and a crew that does roofing should not be installing a door. If they are, they’re not an expert at either job. At Unified we do Windows, Doors, Siding, Roofing and Attic insulation. If you contracted us to do all 5 items on your home, we would send 5 different crews, even if the job was getting done in the same day. Our window crews are factory trained and certified to do window installations and nothing else. They do that job 5 to 6 days a week, every week and know everything a contractor could know about windows and their installation. That same thing applies to all of our crews that do all of our work. We have the most trained and fully certified staff in the industry. Our sales force and estimators are trained to assess your insulation needs and determine exactly what’s needed to fix your problems. Certifications and credentials are more important than you think. At Unified we have many employees that are certified as well as some company wide certifications. The following are just some examples of our credentials: • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

US Department of Energy, Energy Star Partner National Grid Authorized Weatherization Contractor Building Performance Institute BPI Certified Licensed Home Analyst GAF Building Materials Roofing Installation Authorized Installer Owens Corning Platinum Preferred Roofing Contractor, Top of the House Contactor Certified in Roofing, Insulation and Ventilation Pella Certified Contractor National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) CertainTeed Building Products 5 Star Contractor, Pro Dialog Contractor Elite Status, Education and Development Program Certificate Holder, Master Craftsman Certified and Master Millwork Certified Alside Building Materials Authorized Installer Program Certified Vinyl Siding Institute VSI Certified Installers Ideal Windows Certified Factory Trained Program NY/Long Island Better Business Bureau Accredited Business Program Provia Doors National Platinum Certification Crystal Windows Preferred Contractor Accreditation

We at Unified Windows, Doors, Siding and Roofing are very proud of the achievements of our staff members. We continue to bring our customers the most up to date technology and information in cost saving methods of insulating and updating their homes. For a free in home estimate please call us at (888)631-2131 or visit one of our 3 showrooms which are open 7 days a week.

Written by: Steven J DiMare Chief Executive Officer Unified Window Systems, Inc.  Spring 2011  33

(Photo by Mekale Jackson) 34  Spring 2011

The Red Storm are back Maybe coaching matters after all By DANIEL BUSH

One afternoon a few days before flying to Denver for the start of the NCAA tournament, Steve Lavin paused to reflect on the extraordinary turnaround of the St. John’s men’s basketball program. Tailormade for the spotlight, the former ESPN analystturned Red Storm head coach was dressed head-totoe in red and black Johnnies gear, following a long team practice at Carneseca Arena in Jamaica. It was the height of March Madness, but Lavin appeared well-groomed, even rested. “You can sense the buzz in the St. John’s community,” Lavin said. He added, the school’s “base has been energized.” For a man known for making large pronouncements, this might have been the understatement of the college basketball season. Since taking over last summer, Lavin, 46, has made college hoops in Queens - and New York City relevant again through a combination of good hires, recruiting and a pile of victories. The team finished 17-16 in 20092010. Under Lavin, this year’s squad - anchored by standouts D.J. Kennedy and Dwight Hardy - went 21-12, good for a third place finish in the Big East Conference and a birth in the tournament - the school’s first trip to the Big Dance since 2002. Sure, the Red Storm lost in the first round to Gonzaga University. But that almost seems beside the point. For the first time in years, long-suffering fans around the borough had a reason to watch basketball in March. The way Lavin sees it, that’s a pretty good start. Coaching at St. John’s has been “one of the most rewarding experiences of my career,” he told It’s Queens. That’s saying something, considering Lavin’s remarkable journey from the hardwood to the small screen to the

world’s most famous arena. The son of a former high school basketball star, Lavin was raised in San Francisco and caught his first break as an assistant coach at Purdue University in the late 1980’s. He moved on to UCLA, where he was named head coach in 1996. In his seven-year run with the Bruins, Lavin compiled an overall record of 145-78, and was one of only two coaches with five Sweet 16 finishes in six years. But the highprofile assignment ended abruptly in 2003, when Lavin was fired after the Bruins sank in the standings. Instead of fading away, Lavin used the setback to land a position as a basketball analyst for ABC and ESPN, where he would work for the next seven years. He considered cutting his television honeymoon short to take a head coaching position at N.C. State in 2006, then changed his mind. When St. John’s athletic director Chris Monasch came calling in the summer of 2010, the two signed a deal within 72 hours.

New York is a tough sports town, but Lavin never seemed to miss a beat. While he couldn’t have scripted a better first season, Lavin is the first to admit there’s a lot of heavy lifting to do. It begins with a strong recruiting drive to replace the team’s core group of seniors. Lavin also faces a more personal challenge off the court in the form of his fight against prostate cancer. He said he kept last fall’s diagnosis a secret in order to focus on basketball. “I didn’t want to distract our team,” Lavin said. But now that the season’s behind him, the coach is preparing to undergo treatment for the early-stage cancer. His prospects are good; Lavin’s docter said he expects “a complete cure.” And his coaching duties won’t be affected, which means Lavin can continue to build on the Red Storm’s surprising turnaround. His long-term goal? “Returning St. John’s to its place as the crown jewel of basketball in New York City.” Carmelo Anthony has a fight on his hands.  Spring 2011  35

36  Spring 2011

The underground life of Astoria’s Saw Lady World-famous busker Natalia Paruz doesn’t have to play in the city’s subway system any longer. She just chooses to. It’s so much more interesting down there, and the acoustics are way better. By NATHAN TEMPEY  Spring 2011  37

The underground life of Astoria’s Saw Lady: Natalia Paruz


n the subway, through the clatter of trains and the murmur of announcements, you hear it before you see it. Even a few feet from the performer, the source of the music is unclear. “She’s singing.” “No she’s not, she’s playing.” “Playing?” Natalia Paruz gets that a lot. Thirty-five-year-old Paruz, also known as “The Saw Lady,” has been playing the musical saw in New York’s subway system for nearly two decades. She’s grown used to strange reactions. Some passersby reach to touch the blade mid-song; others sing to imitate its eerie pitch. To be fair, it’s unexpected to see someone playing a saw with a bow. And more surprising still is Paruz’s proficiency at it. She works her saw seriously, making it tremble like a violin and wail like an opera star (she’s in the process of learning a few arias). Her skill has carried her from grimy underground hallways to the stage at Carnegie Hall. For someone with such an unusual talent, her calendar is impressively full. On a recent Saturday afternoon, she sat in the Astoria living room of pianist Mary Bopp, practicing for an upcoming competition. Though sometimes pairedwith other unusual instrumentalists, Paruz mostly works with traditional ensembles and, occasionally, orchestras. She had just returned from a short tour in Israel, where she was born and spent her early childhood. “It was enough for me,” she said. “I don’t like to be away too long.” She lives a short walk away on 27th Street in a house she owns with her husband. Paruz is something of a neighborhood fixture; cashiers at the grocery store refer to her as The Saw Lady, and school kids mime saw-playing when she passes. The post office clerk asks after her family. “I like the fact that Astoria’s so close to Manhattan, but you can see the sky,” Paruz said. “The buildings are lower, you know, and further apart. And it has lots of small town feel, lots of old moms and pops.” “You can’t eat a bad meal here,” Bopp interjected. “Or at least there’s 38  Spring 2011

no good excuse.” The two met on a street corner where Paruz was taping up a flyer for the saw festival she organizes, and quickly became friends and frequent collaborators. The festival that started with five sawists (as they’re known) in Paruz’s living room is now in its ninth year, and is expected to fill Astoria’s Hellenic Cultural Center this July. These days Paruz is settled into her groove. Though better-paying opportunities beckon, she makes sure to carve time out for playing underground, where the audience talks back. Her determined grace amid the bustle of subway stations gives her a mystical aura, as if she was chosen for the profession. To hear her tell it, she was - New York City made a saw lady out of her. But her path was paved by hours of practice a day, and a solid street sense. Raised outside Tel Aviv to a concert pianist mother and scientist father whose residencies and research fellowships carried the family across Europe. At the age of 15 her parents

moved to New York, and she signed on as a Martha Graham Dance Company trainee. When her parents left she stayed, renting a room in a convent and began dancing full-time. Two years into her busy new life she was struck by a cab speeding across Central Park South. “It was clear that my dance career was over,” said Paruz, who suffered a spine injury. “I felt empty.” After the accident, she audited computer programming classes at Hunter College, thinking she might turn the hobby into a job, but the emptiness remained. Around this time Paruz traveled to Austria - on a trip arranged to lift her spirits - and it was there, at a variety show, that she first heard the sounds of a musical saw. She asked the saw player for instruction afterwards, but he insisted that the best way to learn was to try it out for herself. Back in New York, she borrowed her landlady’s rusty saw and went to it. On finding that the saw only bore six notes, she went to the hardware store and upgraded.

Photograph by Rod Goodman

“I was totally hooked on the phenomenal acoustics in the subway. I never wanted to go back to playing above ground.”


The underground life of Astoria’s Saw Lady: Natalia Paruz

ne day she was playing on break in the parking lot of the Broadway theater where she sold souvenirs, when a man walking by stopped and gave her five dollars. At that moment she had her first inkling. And when, at her coworkers’ insistence, she played out front during a play intermission some time later and made more than her shift pay, she knew: she was a busker. Busking is the ancient act of performing in public for tips, and the city is ambivalent about it. While busking is generally tolerated, it is forbidden on trains, and police sometimes push back if they feel like it. (A $150 ticket for weapon carrying prompted Paruz to take the teeth off of her busking saws). On the other hand, there’s the Music Under New York program, which is something of a holy grail for buskers. Paruz, a member since the mid-‘90s, is one of just over 100 musicians permitted to play three-hour sets a few times a week at designated performance spots throughout the subway system. To earn that privilege she quit her job and struck out for the sidewalks of Times Square. Winter drove her into the subway. To her surprise, the subteranean open space was perfectly-suited for saw playing. “I was totally hooked on the phenomenal acoustics in the subway,” Paruz said. “I never wanted to go back to playing above ground.”

Another thing she realized after a few years in the subway: so much happens in a day of busking, you’re liable to forget most of it. So she started jotting notes between songs, using her saw blade for a desk, and in the late ‘90s she started the blog, “Subway Music.” Unable to find software for it, she wrote the HTML herself. It began as a personal journal. “But then people started commenting and I realized that it’s another platform to bring people together,” she wrote in an email. Her blog posts read more like ledger entries than short stories now, in part because of the sheer quantity of people she sees in a day. Over the course of a three-hour show, she might interact with drunks and businessmen, Japanese tourists and orchestra conductor friends. Below-ground, she writes, “the level of humanity among these people is beautifully high.” Even the scariest and most frustrating people, she concludes again and again, harbor “hearts of gold.” Her experience seems to bear this out. There was the girl who stole from her bucket, and came back months later with a box of cookies as an offering. Then again there was also the scarier thief who never came back. “But that’s New York,” Moses Josiah said, recalling his own tip-theft experience between songs at the Times Square shuttle station. Josiah, 82, is the city’s other saw-playing subway veteran. Like Paruz, the vertan busker

has a rosy outlook. “The people of New York, most of them are givers,” he added. “They give so, so much.” Paruz remembers the blind man years ago, swaying as he listened to her play. A stranger bought a cassette tape from her and stuck it his hands, then disappeared into the crowd. And the silent man, who was deaf but could hear the frequencies of her saw. There have been millions more. “They say if you stand in one place in New York long enough, eventually you’ll see everyone who lives here,” Paruz said. And why not? Magical thinking has brought her this far.

Saw Shopping for Dummies

and Westphal company has been a prominent saw-maker since the 1920s, when saws provided novelty backing for many vaudeville acts. Like the best buskers and vaudevillians - and saw-makers for that matter - Mussehl and Westphal claims an unmatched technique and superior product. You can order one of their English steel tenor saw sets from Across the pond, Swedish precision toolmaker Bahco puts out a musical saw they call “Stradivarius” after the legendary Italian violinmaker Antonio Stradivari. Each saw is tested by a professional violinist, and only 500 are made per year, so good luck finding one.

Or, for what Paruz describes as a “mellower” sound, you could try the C. Blacklock Special. Named after its inventor, late American OldTime Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Charlie Blacklock, the saw is available in all sizes at www. Saws, like other instruments, require their share of accessories, from cases to rosin to bowstrings. To avoid crimping your hand on the blade’s end, Paruz recommends a clamp-on tip handle. Paruz’s reward for wrestling her own beefy, 36-inch busking saw is a three octaves range. But it comes with a sore arm. “After all,” she said, “you’re bending steel.”

People interested in a starter saw need not settle for lumberjack hardware.

According to Paruz’s research, saw playing goes back as far as 300 years ago, and the making of musical saws has been fine-tuned plenty since then. Most musical saws now boast a range of at least two octaves, and many are classified in a way that should be familiar to former high school band members: tenor, bass and baritone. The Wisconsin-based Mussehl

Scan for Website  Spring 2011  39


Gothic Section

Since 1884 We Have Earned Your Trust

Chapel Service Memorial Niches

One of Our Stained Glass Windows


Call for a FREE Educational Tour of Our Beautiful Historical Buildings. After the tour, you will receive a Souvenir Letter Opener. Scan here to A replica of our Tiffany Windows | Celebrating our 127th Year visit website 40 our Spring 2011

Its Queens 7.

Maspeth Federal Savings is proud to announce that we are now part of the Allpoint ATM Network!

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MAIN OFFICE: 56-18 69th St., Maspeth, NY 11378 • (718) 335-1300 �


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Holly Wilensky is


Re c y cl e r


Scan for Website

The Dress Recycler Superhero Hotline: By The Dress Recycler


orking in The Dress Recycler headquarters one afternoon, the boisterous ringing of the superhero hotline startled me. As I picked up the phone and answered, “This is the Dress Recycler; what’s your fashion emergency?” I could hear the tension and fear on the other end. I quickly realized it was a woman in severe wardrobe distress. “Hi Dress Recycler, my name is Laura and I just moved to Queens last week from Dallas, Texas,” she said in a panic-stricken voice. As I was 42  Spring 2011

New To New York

welcoming her to our great borough, I quickly realized there was no time for small talk. This was a serious case that needed to be addressed quickly and efficiently. “I found your number in the yellow pages under Fashion Crises,” Laura stated matter-of-factly. “I’ve only been here one week and I am staring to go into wardrobe shock. I have already been showing the symptoms - I spend too much time picking out my clothes, they don’t transition well into evening, and I feel really sloppy, not put together and unfabulous.

When I moved here I wasn’t able to bring that many things with me. I only brought my core pieces from my wardrobe thinking that could last me until I could move the rest of my clothes here. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that what I brought is enough. I can’t afford to buy anything new at the moment and I don’t know what to do. I am in sales and need to have a polished look for work. I don’t have to dress up per se, but need to look fashionable and confident. I don’t know where else to turn. Can you help me, Dress Recycler?”

The Dress Recycler Superhero Hotline: New To New York


istening to Laura’s plea, I knew that she had made the right decision in calling The Dress Recycler Superhero hotline. As I assured her that there was no fashion crisis that I couldn’t solve, I comforted her with my confidence and understanding. She was soon relieved that with the wardrobe-building skills and accessory tricks that I would teach her, she would be transitioning her outfits from day to evening with ease while giving the same pieces different looks throughout the week. In a calm voice, I told her that since she was in a state of emergency, we need to get started immediately. When I hung up the phone, I put all other fashion emergency cases to the side, tied on my hot pink superhero cape and flew to Laura’s apartment on Crescent Street. She greeted me with a look of relief when she opened the door. We didn’t waste any time as I darted straight to her closet.


Before opening Laura’s closet door, I was a little concerned about what might be waiting for me on the other side. However, the few pieces that she did bring for her move to the big city were far from a wardrobe with no hope. She had simple, yet elegant tops and bottoms that could easily be dressed up with accessories while transitioning well from day into evening. After her closet evaluation, I took ten pieces and arranged ten different outfits for the next ten days. She was so amazed at how little time this took with some imagination and giving her a slight push out of her fashion comfort zone.


her closet we used :

2 dresses • Silk burgundy surplice wrap dress • Black tank mini-dress 3 bottoms • Black pleated surplice wrap skirt • Skinny jeans • Black slacks 5 tops • Striped long sleeve cotton tee • Sequin long sleeve cotton tee • Novelty bird embroidered cardigan • Plaid ¾-sleeve jacket • Gray pinstripe vest 3 pair of shoes • Red pumps • Black pumps • Black high-heel suede boots  Spring 2011  43

The Dress Recycler Superhero Hotline: New To New York




• • • • • •

Silk burgundy surplice wrap dress Skinny patent leather belt Skinny jeans Gold clutch Large pendant necklace Black pumps

• • • • •



• • • •

Silk burgundy surplice wrap dress Wide black leather tie belt Silk floral scarf Black high heel suede boots

44  Spring 2011

• • • •

Sequin long-sleeve cotton tee Black pleated surplice wrap skirt Colored bangles Red Pumps

Silk burgundy surplice wrap dress Black pleated surplice wrap skirt Stirrup tights Silk floral scarf Black pumps

• • • • •

Sequin long-sleeve cotton tee Gray pinstripe vest Black slacks Colored bangles Red pumps

The Dress Recycler Superhero Hotline: New To New York

D AY 7

D AY 6

cket • Plaid ¾-sleeve ja ress • Black tank mini-d • Beaded rope belt • Red pumps

cket • Plaid ¾-sleeve jast/black slacks • Gray pinstripe ve acelet • Colored beaded br • Red clutch


• Striped long-sleeve cotton tee • Novelty bird embroidered cardigan • Skinny jeans • Bandana • Red clutch • Red pumps

DAY 1 0

• • • • • •

Novelty bird embroidered cardigan Skinny patent leather belt Skinny jeans Bandana Red clutch Black high-heel suede boots

D AY 8

e cotton tee • Sequin long-sleev ress • Black tank mini-d • Silk floral scarf • Red pumps Laura is living proof on how a little wardrobe can go a long way. She is now armed with the confidence and fashion sense to make the most of her wardrobe by mixing and matching ten pieces to create ten different looks. Another fashion crisis solved by The Dress Recycler!

Fashion crisis? Fashion emergency? Feel free to hit the Dress Recycler Superhero Hotline by visiting for wardrobe tips and tricks, style information and fashion inspiration.  Spring 2011  45

Maspeth Dry Cleaners

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69-37 Grand Ave 71-23 Eliot Ave 79-14 Eliot Ave (718) 335-6042 (718) 458-8408 (718) 803-3045 Monday-Saturday 7am-7pm 46  Spring 2011

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255-17 Northern Blvd Suite A1 | Little Neck, NY 11363 | (718) 428-8024 47-01 Queens Blvd Suite 407 | Sunnyside, NY 11104 | (718) 937-6750

/RRS{CRNY{=\bYa_f{=\_X{9NZO We are a full service butcher/meat market located in Maspeth, NY. We do it all – from chicken to fancy roasts. Our staff is friendly and well-trained to help you make choices, and we’re always ready to offer preparation suggestions. We carry naturally raised, free-range and organic poultry, ONLY USDA Certified, CHOICE meats or better. We’ll also custom grind, custom cut or de-bone any meat to your specifications. We also carry a large selection of Italian Specialty Items, including olive oil, imported cheese and pasta. Visit us on the web – or stop by the store.

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(other plans available, please stop by the store for more information) PLAN III $59.99 3 lbs. Whole or Cut-up Chicken 1 1/2 lbs. Chopped Meat 2 lbs. Veal Cutlets 2 lbs. Thick Sausage 2 lbs. Sirloin Steak 3 lbs. Pork Roast 1/2 lb. Ham 1/2 lb. American Cheese

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Day and Overnight Campers, Singles and Families Welcome! Instruction including accommodations from $99pp daily (non-campers welcomed). Bed & breakfast open year round - Walk to the beach and town. 48  Spring 2011



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CZlNdg` Eg^bZ  Spring 2011  49

Long Island City: Then And Now


he need to link Manhattan with Western Queens encouraged the creation of a string of roads and ferries. First traveled by horse and buggy and later by bus and rail, they would offer more access to the developing area. In 1870, Albany gave this area a charter and a new identity: Long Island City. Almost 30 years later, the threat of bankruptcy would force the only indigenous city in Queens to become part of Greater New York. Long Island City’s architectural legacy ranges from the colonial Lent-Riker Smith House to modern high-rise towers along the waterfront at Queens West. A new book, Long Island City, explores the changes that have occurred in Long Island City over the years, contrasting photos from the past with their present-day counterparts.

The Steinway Railway carbarns, built about 1895, were just over the city line at the southeast corner of Woodisde Avenue and Northern Boulevard. The transit system was purchased by the New York and Queens Railroad Company, whose name is still etched in terra-cotta at the rear of the building. Only the waiting room (now leased as a pizza shop) and distinctive twin towers remain after demolition for a shopping center.

Once called Long Island City Heights or the Blissville Ward, Sunnsyide was sparsely settled until the elevated line opened in April 1917. Manhattan (and Astoria or Corona) was but 15 minutes away. The blocks were filled, virtually overnight, with excellent examples of all types of housing, from model flats and planned communities to apartment buildings of every scale and single-family homes. Many residents characterize Sunnyside as one of the city’s finest communities. This view is from the Packard Building roof looking east. 50  Spring 2011

Long Island City: Then And Now

This view of Jackson Avenue looking north shows the buildings between P.S. 1 (left) and St. John’s Hospital (center). It was the main street for the bustling midsized metropolis. The modern image shows the Citicorp Building, which has replaced St. John’s Hospital. It is the tallest building between Manhattan and Boston.

This is looking west at Monitor Square, the city center for commerce and business. The square was laid out in the early 1860s and was so named because its long and narrow shape resembled the Civil War ironclad. Vernon and Jackson avenues met here, just east of the ferry terminal. The historic image shows a fountain within the square and a lunch wagon. The seven people give the picture its caption “The Monitor Seven.”

Scan To Visit

Long Island City by the Greater Astoria Historical Society with Gary Vollo retails for $21.99. It can be purchased at local retailers or online at  Spring 2011  51

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54  Spring 2011

It Takes ‘Thalia’ to Tango By ZONIA EDWARD


ango, a syncopated ballroom dance and accompanying music that originated from European immigrants living in Argentina in the mid-19th century, has become a world-renowned art that is enjoyed by people from around the globe. Thalia Spanish Theatre, Queens’ only bi-lingual theatre, has been putting on exciting tango productions for the past 20 years. Located in Sunnyside, this year’s tango production, “You Tango?”, which ran from January 28 until March 20, is a celebration of the history and future of tango dance and music. Produced by the Theatre’s artistic director, Angel Gil Orrios, the production sizzled with energy that overflowed the small size of the theater. The show featured some of the most talented musicians, dancers, and singers in the tango genre. The five-piece band was led by Maestro Raul Juarena; a master of the bandoneon, an instrument that looks like an accordion, but with the side piano keys replaced by buttons. Juarena is also a Latin Grammy winner for Best Tango Album in 2007. Joining Juarena were Pablo Aslan on double bass, Maurizio Najt on piano, Sergio Reyes on violin, and Beledo on guitar. The exceptionally talented band was central to the production by not only playing original tango instrument pieces, but by also accompanying both the dancers and singers.

The show featured four dancers: Ivan Terrezas, Sara Grdan, Diego Ocampo, and Mariana Fresno. Essentially, the dancers brought across the passion, skill, and rhythm needed in this intricate dance. Each number had a back story. One depicted a playful courtship, another an amorous relationship, and others simply just showed off the beauty of the movements. Lastly, the cast was rounded out by singers, Marga Mitchell and Pablo “El Pulpo” Pereyra. Each sang two solos. Mitchell has the presence of a world-class diva and not only sang, but acted her songs well. In addition, Pereyra sang with a dramatic temperament and laced each lyric with emotion. A special and unique piece of this production was the section entitled “Para bailar el publico” which means “for the public to dance.” The band began playing a mid-tempo tango rhythm, as the house lights turn up to signal to the audience that it was their time to shine and come on to the stage to partake in the tango celebration. Many in the crowd were too shy to actually participate; however, it was a great attempt by the show’s director at audience participation. Thalia Spanish Theatre’s “You Tango?” production served as a great introduction to the world of Tango for the uninitiated and also a wonderful night in the theater for those who are well-versed in the art form.  Spring 2011  55

56  Spring 2011

EVENTS CALENDAR April 2011 Friday, Apr. 22 Neil Berg’s Broadway Showstoppers Queens Theatre in the Park’s favorite host returns with a rousing new show! 8:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona. Saturday, Apr. 23 Neil Berg’s Broadway Showstoppers 2:00pm & 8:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona. Sunday, Apr. 24 Neil Berg’s Broadway Showstoppers 3:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona. Wednesday, April 27 Neil Berg’s Broadway Showstoppers 2:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona. Thursday, April 28 Neil Berg’s Broadway Showstoppers 2:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, NY Friday, April 29 Queens Jazz Orchestra The 17-piece QJO, a project of FCCA, performs the music of 4 Queens-based jazz legends: Benny Goodman, Fats Waller, Milt

Jackson & Lena Horne. 8:00pm | Flushing Town Hall 13735 Northern Boulevard, Neil Berg’s Broadway Showstoppers 8:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona. Saturday, April 30 Neil Berg’s Broadway Showstoppers 2:00pm & 8:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona. Draw the Circle Written by Deen | Directed by Chay Yew As Deen grapples with becoming a transgender man, those who love him most find themselves completely bewildered 8:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona NY The World of the #7 Train This series of six walks and connecting rides along North Queens’ transportation corridor is Queens Borough historian Jack Eichenbaum’s signature tour. We focus on what the #7 train has done to and for surrounding neighborhoods since it began service in 1914. Walks take place in Long Island City, Sunnyside, Flushing, Corona, Woodside and Jackson Heights and lunch is in Flushing’s Asiatown. The full day’s program and other info is available by email 10:00am | North Queens NY Sung with Words Pianist/composer Helen Sung

presents the culmination of her 2010 Con Edison Composers’ Residency at Flushing Town Hall: a poetry inspiring music & music inspiring poetry program. 2:00pm | Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing NY The Voice of Havana Xiomara Laugart Vocal sensation Xiomara Laugart is a legend in her native Cuba. She has performed with the country’s greatest musicians, starred as Celia Cruz in Celia, the Musical, and was lead vocalist for the Latin fusion band Yerba Buena. Her sultry, powerful voice and commanding stage presence win over any audience. Co-presented with the World Music Institute. 8:00pm | Jamaica Performing Arts Center, 153-10 Jamaica Avenue, Jamaica.

May 2011 Sunday, May 1 Abor Festival The Arbor Festiva promises to be a fun-filled day for all ages at Queens Botanical Garden’s Arbor Festival. There will be in-house garden and nature specialists, local artisans, and organic foods. Environmentally conscious vendors will be onsite tabling and selling their wares, offering workshops and demonstrations. Visitors can check out the many family-friendly demonstrations, tours and crafts, then sit back and enjoy musical performances from Bash The Trash and Charanams. 11:00am | Queens Botanical Garden, 43-50 Main Street, Flushing NY

Neil Berg’s Broadway Showstoppers 3pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, NY Joel Fan and Friends Joel Fan is a uniquely brilliant pianist conjoining great works of the past and newly discovered music of cultures from around the world. 3:00pm | The Kupferberg Center, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing. Thursday, May 5 The Human Comedy The coming-of-age tale focuses on young Homer McCauley, a telegram messenger who is exposed to the sorrows and joys experienced by his family and the residents of his small California town during World War II. 8pm | Astoria Performing Arts Center, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent Street & 30th Rd. Astoria NY 11102 Friday, May 6 No Problemo, Amigo A comedy, written by Jaime Espinal, winner of the Inter American Development Bank’s inaugural Hispanic-American Playwriting Competition. The play is performed in English, Spanish, and “Spanglish”. 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY (Continued on the following page)  Spring 2011  57

EVENTS CALENDAR: Spring 2011 The Human Comedy 8pm | Astoria Performing Arts Center, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent Street & 30th Rd., Astoria NY A Scent of Time One of the world’s leading institutions of dance and dance education, The Beijing Dance Academy Ballet performs the U.S. premiere of a ballet choreographed by contemporary performance artist Yin Mei. 7:30pm | LeFrak Concert Hall at Quens College, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing. Tablao Flamenco Presented by American Bolero Dance Company | A series of live, once-a-month, nightclubstyle performances of Flamenco, Escuela Bolera and other forms of Spanish dance and music,This popular Queens-based dance and music series continues to attract a wide array of renowned local and international artists to the area. 8:30pm | Auditorium Centro Español, 41-01 Broadway Astoria NY Saturday May 7 Flushing Central Railroad Walking Tour Join Queens Borough Historian Dr. Jack Eichenbaum for a walking tour retracing the right-of-way for the Central Flushing Railroad, which ran from Flushing to Hempstead in the 1870s. The tour will follow the phantom rails from Central Flushing to Fresh Meadows through parkland and pleasant residential neighborhoods that mask a diagonal swath of historical anomalies in North Queens. 11:00am | Queens Botanical Garden entrance, Main Street, 43-50 Main Street Flushing, NY A Scent of Time 7:30pm | LeFrak Concert Hall at Quens College, 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing. No Problemo, Amigo 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY The Human Comedy 2:00pm & 8:00pm | Astoria Performing Arts Center, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent Street & 30th Rd., Astoria NY Sunday May 8 No Problemo, Amigo 4:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY 58  Spring 2011

TUESDAY MAY 10 Queens - A Taste of the World Get your taste buds ready for a chance to sample the best restaurants in Queens, all under one roof, for one night only. On May 10, the annual “Queens – A Taste of the World” event will be held. Over forty of Queen’s most talented chefs will whip up small portions of their best foods and desserts for tasting in buffet style. Check out their Facebook page for free tickets. 6:00pm | Citifield, Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The Queens Fringe Festival The Queens Fringe Festival is a month-long festival in May across Long Island City and Astoria, hosted by The Secret Theatre in Long Island City, showcasing different artists (in theater, music, comedy and dance) and their crafts. There will be two weekday, evening performances on Tuesday, May 10th and Wednesday, May 11th. Each evening will have a different program. 8:00pm | The Secret Theatre, 4402 23rd Street, Long Island City, NY WEDNESday, May 11 Flushing’s Chinatown Part of Jack Eichenbaum’s Changing Cultures of Queens: A Walking Anthology series. This immigrant destination and commercial center has come to rival its Manhattan antecedent. Taiwanese rather than Cantonese at its core, Flushing’s Chinatown plays host to a variety of overseas Chinese groups. Rezoning and greater land availability support unusual real estate developments including office buildings, hotels, residential condos, specialty shops, cultural institutions and malls. 6:00pm | St George’s Church, 39 Ave & Main St. Flushing, NY

The Queens Fringe Festival There will be two weekday, evening performances on Tuesday, May 10th and Wednesday, May 11th. 8:00pm | The Secret Theatre, 4402 23rd Street, Long Island City, NY Thursday, May 12 The Human Comedy 8:00pm | Astoria Performing Arts Center, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 3044 Crescent Street & 30th Rd., Astoria NY Friday, May 13 Sherlock Holmes: The Mysterious Case of Miss Faulkner By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle & William Gillette | Directed by Brian Payne. The beloved character, Sherlock Holmes, tries to unravel a tale of blackmail, trickery, and mystery. 8:00pm | Theatre Box, 35 Verbena Avenue, Floral Park, NY No Problemo, Amigo 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY The Human Comedy 8:00pm | Astoria Performing Arts Center, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 3044 Crescent Street & 30th Rd., Astoria NY Saturday May 14 Soledad Barrio Y Noche Flamenca Hailed by critics around the globe for its transcendent and profoundly emotional performances, Spain’s award winning Noche Flamenca is the most authentic flamenco company in the world today. 2:00pm & 8:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, NY

Peking Opera 2:00pm | Chinese Theater Works, Baychester Branch, 2049 Asch Loop North, Bronx, NY Into The Woods The musical intertwines the plots of several Brothers Grimm fairy tales and follows them further to explore the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. 8:00pm | Parkside Players 103-15 Union Turnpike, Forest Hills, NY Zona Rosa Written by Carlos Morton | Directed by Michael Barakiva In this powerful new drama, Johnny, an American man, learns that Francisco, his ex-lover who he hasn’t seen in twenty years, was murdered in an unsolved hate crime, along with four other gay men. 8:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, NY No Problemo, Amigo 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY The Human Comedy 2:00pm & 8:00pm | Astoria Performing Arts Center, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent Street & 30th Rd., Astoria NY 11102 Sherlock Holmes: The Mysterious Case of Miss Faulkner 8:00pm | Theatre Box, 35 Verbena Avenue, Floral Park, NY Angst What is fear? What are we afraid of? Why? Inspired by a visit in the Holocaust Museum in Berlin, Daniela Hoff explores in her choreography, Angst, different layers of fear. There are simple fears, almost just worries, and fears that are deeply rooted, primal fears. Performers are Tomomi Imai, Lize-Lotte Pitlo, Sarah Pope and Daniela Hoff. 8:30pm | Green Space Studios, 37-24 24th Street Suite 301 and 302, Long Island City NY SUNday May 15 The Queens Fringe Festival The festival culminates with a full-day consolidated program, which will feature all dancers and companies participating in the festival. 8:00pm | The Secret Theatre, 4402 23rd Street, Long Island City, NY Into The Woods 2:00pm | Parkside Players 103-15 Union Turnpike, Forest Hills, NY

EVENTS CALENDAR: Spring 2011 Sherlock Holmes: The Mysterious Case of Miss Faulkner 2:00pm | Theatre Box, 35 Verbena Avenue, Floral Park, NY 11001 Kenny Vance & The Planatones Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Kenny Vance and his band, The Planotones toured the country but they have come back to Vance’s Queens roots for a concert. 3:00pm | Queens College Auditorium, 65-30 Kissena Soledad Barrio Y Noche Flamenca 3:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, NY Blvd. Flushing, NY No Problemo, Amigo 4:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY WeDNEsday, May 18 Queensborough Plaza to the Waterfront at Sunset Part of Jack Eichenbaum’s Changing Cultures of Queens: A Walking Anthology series. Rezoning and demographic change stemming from Manhattan spillover spark revitalization in this once stagnant industrial neighborhood. The Plaza, where transit lines intersect, has been rezoned for hotels, condos and offices. Gantry Park, on the East River, is the perfect place to watch the sun set behind the midtown Manhattan skyline. 6:00pm |Lowest level of the Queensborough Plaza station (fare booth), N,Q,#7 trains. Thursday, May 19 The Human Comedy 8:00pm | Astoria Performing Arts Center, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 3044 Crescent Street & 30th Rd., Astoria NY 11102 Friday, May 20 Sherlock Holmes: The Mysterious Case of Miss Faulkner 8:00pm | Theatre Box, 35 Verbena Avenue, Floral Park, NY 11001 Into The Woods 2:00pm & 8:00pm | Parkside Players, 103-15 Union Turnpike, Forest Hills, NY 11375 No Problemo, Amigo 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY The Human Comedy 8:00pm | Astoria Performing Arts Center, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 3044 Crescent Street & 30th Rd., Astoria NY 11102

Friday, May 27 No Problemo, Amigo 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY Into The Woods 8:00pm | Parkside Players 103-15 Union Turnpike, Forest Hills, NY 11375

Saturday May 21 The Big Apple Circus Swing into action with The Big Apple Circus, back in town and running from May 21- June 5 at Cunningham Park. Included is a very diverse cast like an Ethiopian juggler, Chinese lasso twirlers and monocyclists, miniature horses, delightful clowns and much more. 8:00pm | Cunningham Park Horace Harding Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, NY Rakonto: Daniel Kelly and Friends World premiere by jazz pianist/ composer Daniel Kelly that incorporates recorded interviews with Flushing community members on the topics of daily life, culture & immigration.Rakonto (story in Esperanto) uses these personal histories as the basis for an imaginative ode to the people of Flushing. 2:00pm | Flushing Town Hall 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing NY Regina Carter’s Reverse Thread An uplifting, stirring and joyful performance by an internationally renowned musician! 8:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, NY Into The Woods 2:00pm & 8:00pm | Parkside Players, 103-15 Union Turnpike, Forest Hills, NY 11375 No Problemo, Amigo 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY The Human Comedy 2:00pm & 8:00pm | Astoria Performing Arts Center, Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, 30-44 Crescent Street & 30th Rd., Astoria NY 11102

Sherlock Holmes: The Mysterious Case of Miss Faulkner 8:00pm | Theatre Box, 35 Verbena Avenue, Floral Park, NY 11001 Sunday, May 22 Sari Gruber, Soprano Hailed as “nothing short of sensational” by Opera magazine, soprano Sari Gruber’s exciting and moving interpretations of a diverse operatic and concert repertoire have rapidly established her as one of today’s most sought-after artists on the international stage. 2:00pm | Kupferberg Center 65-30 Kissena Boulevard, Flushing NY Into The Woods 2:00pm | Parkside Players 103-15 Union Turnpike, Forest Hills, NY 11375 No Problemo, Amigo 4:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY Sherlock Holmes: The Mysterious Case of Miss Faulkner 8:00pm | Theatre Box, 35 Verbena Avenue, Floral Park, NY WeDNEsday, May 25 #7 Sunnyside to Jackson Heights Part of Jack Eichenbaum’s Changing Cultures of Queens: A Walking Anthology series. The core of the ethnic diversity along “The International Express” has visible commercial concentrations of Irish, Mexican, South Asian, South American, Filipino and Thai cultures. Some domestic gentrification has occurred at both termini. The train and the constantly evolving eats are always in focus. 6:00pm |“Sunnyside” sign, in the street on the south side of the #7 46St/Bliss St. local station.

Saturday, May 28 Seussical Dr. Seuss’s best-loved stories collide and cavort in this unforgettable musical caper! 11:00am & 1:00pm | Queens Theatre in the Park, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Corona, NY Into The Woods. 8:00pm | Parkside Players, 103-15 Union Turnpike, Forest Hills, NY 11375 No Problemo, Amigo 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY Sunday, May 29 No Problemo, Amigo 4:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY

June 2011 Friday, June 3 No Problemo, Amigo 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY Tablao Flamenco Presented by American Bolero Dance Company | A series of live, once-a-month, nightclubstyle performances of Flamenco, Escuela Bolera and other forms of Spanish dance and music, 8:30pm | Auditorium Centro Español, 41-01 Broadway Astoria, NY Saturday, June 4 No Problemo, Amigo 8:00pm | Thalia Spanish Theatre, 4117 Greenpoint Ave, Sunnyside, NY Sunday, June 5 Thalia Al Aire Libre/Free Outdoors Festival Free performances of music and dance in Thomson Hill Park. 1:00pm | Corner of Greenpoint Ave. & 42nd St., Sunnyside, NY  Spring 2011  59

Neil Berg Renews

The Classics


Broadway musicals have produced some of this century’s most popular songs and made stars out of the performers who brought them to life. In his latest production at Queens Theatre in the Park, Neil Berg brings a unique blend of renewed excitement and modernity to classic show tunes. Neil Berg’s Broadway Showstoppers production, which will run from April 22 to May 1, is a revamped extension of his popular touring production 100 Years of Broadway, which is currently the number one touring production in the United States, with over 120 tour dates for it current 2010/2011 season. For Berg, the concept for his series of Queens Theatre in the Park concerts is simple. First, take actual Broadway performers. Next, pair them with hit songs. Finally, support them with his standout arrangements. As not only an arranger, but a composer as well, Berg pays special attention to the musicality of each piece. “I know I need to put my own stamp of approval on the material,” said Berg. “I go inside the music. I work from the inside out. I get to expand on string and horn parts. I want to give the show the excitement of a rock concert.” Berg cites the rock music of the 1970’s as a big influence in his work. He cites albums such as, Quadrophenia by The Who, The Wall by Pink Floyd, and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis as inspirations. “All of them were rock operas. Every one of those albums tells a story,” said Berg, “Telling a story is what separates musical theatre from jazz or opera, the music is there to drive the story forward. It then became a natural progression for me to write musical theatre. It is the perfect storm of creativity.” 60  Spring 2011

“In Queens, I feel like I’m coming home”

Berg is always cognizant of the audience he is playing for in each city he performs. As a Bronx native, Berg loves Queens audiences for their diversity and their intelligence. “In Queens, I feel like I’m coming home. Queens audiences are savvy,” Berg said. “Queens Theatre in the Park is a jewel, a gem, and it could have a world-renowned reputation as it continues to expand.” Neil Berg’s Showstoppers will showcase performers from musicals such as Smokey Joe’s Café, Phantom of the Opera, Cats, and Fiddler on the Roof. Berg makes it his goal to support performers as much as possible. Being hyper-aware of how the performers are

feeling is essential to a great performance. “The director is like a manager of a team,” said Berg “Performers should be able to go out there and be themselves in order to create magical moments. I look for performers who are fearless and exciting. I try to put them in a position to win.” The upcoming production of Showstoppers will add to previous productions Neil Berg has staged at Queens Theatre in the Park, and expects it to be another success. “They [the audience] are going to have the ultimate Broadway experience. They way we have set this show up even people who do not like Broadway will be amazed,” promised Berg, “I want them to say ‘this is one of the best Broadway concerts I’ve seen.’”  Spring 2011  61


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Queens Voices BLOGS

Blogs of Queens The Forest Hills Gardens Blog Audience: People With an Interest in Forest Hills Gardens This blog about a private community in Queens was originally focused primarily on the possible development of the historic stadium at West Side Tennis Club, but now touches on all manner of topics and issues concerning Forest Hills Gardens and Forest Hills at large.

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Sunnyside Post Audience: People Interested in News in Sunnyside & Woodside Sunnyside Post is an oft-updated blog generally related to news items and events taking place in Sunnyside and Woodside. Recent posts include info on the cost of retail space on Queens Boulevard, a Robert De Niro film shooting in the neighborhood, and a new restaurant opening its doors.

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

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The Foodista Audience: Astorians, Foodies, Astorian Foodies There isn’t enough time for you to try out all the restaurants in Astoria, and frankly, you probably don’t have enough discretionary income (need we remind you we’re still in the midst of a recession?) to give them all a taste, either. Enter The Foodista, an Astorian whose mission is to “infuse the Astoria community with local culinary intelligence.” She shares her eating experiences, tries out new eateries and then writes up an honest opinion (e.g. the time she got all hyped for All You Can Eat Gnocchi Night at Testaccio and the food fell short of expectations). Thinking of trying out that hip new vegan restaurant but hesitant about parting with your hard-earned cash? Check with The Foodista first. 66  Spring 2011

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Action JoJo’s World Audience: People Interested in Queens and Beyond There are many words that could best accurately describe Johanna Fausto. As it is written on her blog, she likes to be known as a cultural observer, adventurous traveler, food lover, Bikram Yoga practitioner, urban dweller, wannabe singer and life embracer. But add to that list, one more thing: unofficial Queens ambassador. Fausto travels throughout Queens, discovering new and exciting things and then postis her adventures on her blog, so you can easily follow in her footsteps.

Jeffrey Tastes Audience: Adventurous Eaters There’s people who are passionate about eating, and then there’s Jeffrey. The man behind Jeffrey Tastes celebrates all the great culinary experiences that Queens has to offer, and urges you to get involved as well, planning food tours for readers of his blog, like the recent Flushing Mall Grazing Experience, where folks were invited out to the Flushing Mall Food Court to taste and sample the many Asian delicacies to be had there.

The Q Note Audience: People Who Want the Latest and Greatest Queens Has to Offer What isn’t there to say about The Q Note? How about we just let the people behind the blog tell you what it is all about: “The Q Note: Life in the Borough of Queens was created to celebrate the authenticity and progressive spirit that define New York’s largest borough. We dig highly praised Manhattan and Brooklyn (and under-the-radar Staten Island and the Bronx, too), but we also think Queens has a soul of its own that deserves some love and recognition. Several times a week, The Q Note appears in your inbox for free, letting you in on choice spots to eat and drink, soak up funky art, and snag homemade goods. We’ll even tell you where to find your inner calm and offer advice on snatching up prime Queens real estate. Looking for a quality dry cleaner? Hardware store? We’ve got that covered, too. And, if you’re looking to have a great weekend, we can tell you how to have one without crossing the river via The Quickie, our weekly tip sheet.” So there you have it. Want to stay up to date on everything Queens? The Q Note has you covered.

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Project Woodhaven Audience: Woodhaven Lovers If you want to know anything and everything about Woodhaven, then look no futher than the Project Woodhaven blog.The tireless bloggers over at Project Woodhaven are constantly posting news and events about Woodhaven - even videos they shot at various happenings - to the web. It’s an exhaustive look at what is going on in Woodhaven, and if you want to be in the loop, then reading Project Woodhaven is a must.  Spring 2011  67

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It's Queens, Spring 2011  

It’s Queens is a consumer magazine covering the people who move and shake Queens, from real estate trends to transportation, politics to ent...

It's Queens, Spring 2011  

It’s Queens is a consumer magazine covering the people who move and shake Queens, from real estate trends to transportation, politics to ent...