Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Willets Point Redevelopment

From The Times:
Real Estate
In Queens, Neglected Sector Attracts Big Developers 
Willets Point has long been home to an unsightly jumble of auto shops, but New York City officials say they have made progress on a $3 billion revitalization proposal.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Poll: New Yorkers Support Occupy Wall Street


By a 67 – 23 percent margin, New York City voters agree with the views of the Wall Street protesters and say 87 – 10 percent that it is “okay that they are protesting,” according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.
            Agreeing with the protesters views are Democrats 81 – 11 percent and independent voters 58 – 30 percent, while Republicans disagree 58 – 35 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds.  Even Republicans, however, agree 73 – 23 percent with the protesters right to be there. 
New York City voters say 72 – 24 percent, including 52 – 41 percent among Republicans, that if the protesters obey the law, they can stay as long as they wish.
A total of 72 percent of voters say they understand the protesters’ views “very well” or “fairly well,” with 17 percent who say “not too well” and 10 percent who say “not well at all.”  
Voters split 46 – 45 percent in their approval of the way police are handling the Wall Street protest, but approve 61 – 33 percent of how the police are doing their job overall.
“It’s a free country.  Let them keep on protesting as long as they obey the law, New Yorkers say overwhelmingly,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.  “Critics complain that no one can figure out what the protesters are protesting.   But seven out of 10 New Yorkers say they understand and most agree with the anti-Wall Street views of the protesters.
“For a while, the critics focused on the cops’ use of pepper spray at the protests.  Voters are divided on how police are handling the protesters, but they say almost 2-to-1 that police are doing a good job overall.”
Asked who is to blame for the current state of the nation’s economy;
·      37 percent of New York City voters blame the administration of former President George W. Bush;
·      21 percent blame Wall Street and financial institutions;
·      18 percent blame Congress;
·      11 percent blame President Barack Obama.
New York City voters support 61 – 28 percent an extension of the state’s so-called ‘Millionaire’s Tax.’  Even Republicans support the extension 55 – 38 percent.
Voters also support 73 – 19 percent, including 48 – 40 percent among Republicans, tougher government regulation of banks and Wall Street firms.  
“New Yorkers, even Republicans, back the Wall Street protesters on at least two things they’re talking about, a get-tough attitude toward banks and Wall Street and continuation of the state’s ‘Millionaire’s Tax,’” Carroll said.
            From October 12 – 16, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,068 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points. Live interviewers call land lines and cell phones.   
The Quinnipiac University Poll, directed by Douglas Schwartz, Ph.D., conducts public opinion surveys in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and the nation as a public service and for research. 

 By the way, don't forget to vote in our own local poll about this:




I'm Not A Zombie Person, But...

Ok, I really am not a zombie person, or a vampire person for that matter. I just don't get the whole zombie and vampire craze. Seems like there is another movie about these ghouls every other month. Having said that, however, I do have to say that The Walking Dead is probably one of the absolute best shows I have ever watched.... ever... in all eternity.

Every episode just zips by and I am on the edge of my seat almost every freakin' minute of it. This past Sunday's was an extra long hour and a half season premier and the damn thing felt like it was about 5 minutes long.

What is it about this show? Like I said, I am not a zombie person. I am just not excited by the concept of people coming back from the dead and then lumbering about. Always found it rather silly. And I am almost extremely squeamish. I often close my eyes at any gore in a movie or TV show. So what is it about The Walking Dead? It's the characters and the script. What a novel concept? A TV show where you actually really, really care about what happens to the characters! Go figure.

Never, since maybe the recent Battlestar Galactica, have I been this floored by a TV show. Long Live Zombies!

From The Times:
Zombie Apocalypse? Atlanta Says Bring It On
The city, home to the hit series “The Walking Dead,” has embraced the monsters with a variety of parades and festivals celebrating the undead.

Cell Service in the Subways

My E train was stopped for a while at 14th St. last Friday and lo and behold, I received a text from a friend! And what's more, I was able to text him back and tell him I was running a bit late! And... the signal was actually really strong.

Little did I know that 14th St. is the first subway station in the city to have cell phone service. The City is gradually rolling it out to more and more stations... It's about time!

The Future Is Coming: Subway Platform Cell Service Starts Tuesday

Monday, October 17, 2011

Recommended Reading

There's a great article in this month's Vanity Fair magazine:

California and Bust

The smart money says the U.S. economy will splinter, with some states thriving, some states not, and all eyes are on California as the nightmare scenario. After a hair-raising visit with former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who explains why the Golden State has cratered, Michael Lewis goes where the buck literally stops—the local level, where the likes of San Jose mayor Chuck Reed and Vallejo fire chief Paige Meyer are trying to avert even worse catastrophes and rethink what it means to be a society.
If you get a chance, I really recommend reading it.... Aside from just being a great read that is enormously absorbing, it is really eye-opening and gives you a whole other level of perspective on the economic crisis facing the U.S..

Sunday, October 16, 2011

TWA at JFK

One of the best things about living in Forest Hills is its proximity to the major NYC airports. Since I have to travel fairly often for work, when I moved to Forest Hills I was thrilled to discover that I could get to LaGuardia in about 5 minutes and JFK in about 20 or so on a good day. What a luxury -- especially after having lived in SoHo in Manhattan, where it could take like an eternity to get to the airports!

I've always loved going to the airport, something I just kind of picked up when I was a kid. It was such a thrill to go to Kennedy. for instance, which I associated with a feeling of international excitement that was so missing from the sleepy Long Island town where I was living. And, of course, I also always associated my trips there with either going away on a vacation or having my grandmother or other family members or friends come to visit.

So when I heard that Open House NY was opening the landmarked TWA terminal at JFK for a few hours to the public this Sunday, I jumped at the chance to once again visit this famous, wing-shaped building that I knew so well from my childhood. After all, in recent years, I've only recently gotten a chance to see the inside of it in some movies, like Catch Me If You Can, for instance.

The terminal, which is now a historical landmark, was designed by Eero Saarinen and opened in May 1962. It was used until 2001, when American Airlines bought out TWA. Since then it has only really been in use for occasional special events -- such as parties and movie shoots. But it could possibly reopen as a boutique hotel in the near future.

Whatever happens to it, its landmark status prevents it from being demolished or altered in any significant way.

Here are some photos and a short video I shot at today's event. Hopefully it will bring back some memories for some of you. I myself can still see, like it was yesterday, my grandmother waving goodbye as she entered the famous red-carpeted tunnel to catch her next flight.












video

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Friday, October 14, 2011

Taiwan's First Lady Visits Forest Hills

This was kept rather quiet... it's the first I heard of it... Taiwan's first lady tells stories to children in New York
New York, Oct. 13 (CNA) Taiwan's first lady Chow Mei-ching told stories about the Chinese Zodiac and a folktale to children at a library in the borough of Queens in New York Thursday, and showed them how to find out their personal zodiac signs. Telling stories to children has become one of Chow's favorite activities during visits to foreign countries. In New York, where she arrived the previous day for a five-day visit, the wife of President Ma Ying-jeou made no exception. At the library in Forest Hills, Chow introduced how the Chinese zodiac was formed. To attract the kids to pay attention, she also taught them how to fold an origami mouse, the first of the 12 animals of the zodiac.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

First Summer Movie Trailer

So what if summer 2011 just ended?! It's never too early to start thinking about next summer (my very favorite season, after all)... And here to get you in the mood, the first trailer of Summer 2012! (In which some evil villain does some rather despicable things to our lovely city, I might add.)

Dispersing Occupy Wall Street?

An interesting development today as the City says the protesters will no longer be allowed to use tents, sleeping bags or other equipment in the park where they have been encamped up until now. I don't see how they are going to be able to maintain their 24 hour vigil there without such equipment. I didn't know that the park is privately-owned, which is why these regulations can be enforced. So, it looks like they may have to move to a public location... maybe Battery Park?

Anyway, here's a story with all the info about this: NYC Protesters Wary of Park Cleanup Plan

And here's a new poll:

Moody Mist

The misty drizzle this afternoon gave MacDonald Park a moody, and kind of cozy autumnal feel...






"Queens Blvd Big Sweep" Needs Volunteers


Want to dedicate a few hours of community service? Queens Boulevard Restoration Group & In Our Back Yard (IOBY.org) need volunteers to help clean the tree-lined medians of Queens Blvd in Forest Hills and Rego Park. Help restore the medians along Queens Blvd from 78th Ave to 63rd Dr, & make our community shine while helping the environment! 

When -- Saturday, October 15, 2011, 9:00 AM -3:00 PM. Meet at 8:30 AM
Where -- Meet in MacDonald Park on Queens Blvd & 70th Rd, Forest Hills
Water, gloves, t-shirts, and lunch will be provided. Pitch in for as long as you want! 


To sign up or for more information, please e-mail info@queensblvd.org or call (917) 558-3802. Please bring your friends, neighbors, family, & help spread the word.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Report: Citywide Home Values See Gains in 3rd Quarter


Oct. 11, 2011, 12:55 p.m. EDT
NEW YORK, NY, Oct 11, 2011 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) -- The average sales price of a New York City home increased by eight percent in the third quarter of 2011 to $780,000 compared to the same time last year, according to a report released today by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). Brooklyn gained the most value with an eight percent increase to $589,000, followed by Manhattan with a five percent increase to $1,393,000. Queens had a one percent increase to $399,000 and the Bronx had a less than one percent gain at $350,000 since last year.
Although the total dollar value of New York City residential sales transactions was up 8.41 percent from the second quarter to $8.04 billion, the total dollar value was down 3.89 percent from last year. Additionally, even though the number of residential sales citywide was up four percent to 10,308 homes since last quarter, it was down 11 percent since the same time last year. These year-on-year decreases are mainly due to the first time home buyer tax credit closing deadline being extended into the third quarter of 2010, which caused a sales surge that quarter.
"The modest increase in the volume of sales citywide since last quarter and the rise in average sale price since last year are positive signs for the residential market," said Steven Spinola, REBNY president. "The weak state of the national economy, the tumultuous credit and equity markets, and the disarray in the European economies are factors that we must be concerned about as we move forward. Nevertheless, the New York City housing market has steadied and we are seeing a solid foundation on which to build a stable, stronger market."
Manhattan neighborhoods with the most sales activity this quarter were the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side with 723 sales and 647 sales, respectively. These two neighborhoods each had more sales than the entire borough of Staten Island which had 545 home sales. Most notably the average sales price of a condominium in Chelsea/ Flatiron during the third quarter increased 16 percent compared to last quarter and 16 percent compared to the third quarter of last year to $2,081,000.
Queens neighborhoods had more residential sales than Brooklyn and Bronx. Queens neighborhoods with the most sales were Flushing with 338 sales and Rego Park/ Forest Hills/ Kew Gardens with 303.
Brooklyn residential sales activity was focused in Williamsburg with 235 sales, Park Slope with 187 and Bedford Stuyvesant with 164.
For the full report visit www.rebny.com or REBNY's exclusive home listings web site, NY1Residential.com.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Office to Rental in Rego


The Wall St. Journal and Curbed report this building, which we believe is the one that houses the Tung Shing House chinese restaurant, is being converted into luxury rentals by the LeFrak family, in their first project in Queens in nearly three decades.


View Larger Map

Click these links for the full stories:

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

It's messy, and I think it's wonderful.

After all, this is what true democracy is really, really about -- the rights of Americans to pick themselves up and march against what they see as injustice, the ills of the society they live in. We have a rich heritage of doing just that in this country. But it seems like until now we had forgotten that.

It's wonderful to have it back!

Occupy Wall Street, like I said is messy. And that, I think is just what the good ole' US of A has been missing in its domestic discourse for way too long now. Our discourse has been about soundbites. Politicians say harmless little tidbits, wrapped in a bow for the 24 hour news cycle. Harmless and spineless little nothings.

That's why I love Occupy Wall Street. A vibrant democratic system should be messy, not about neat little soundbites, and that is exactly what Occupy Wall Street is.

In fact, there's a lot of criticism of the Occupy Wall Street movement for not having specific, clear demands. Sorry, but isn't that exactly what a grass-roots movement of the people is all about? To have not specific, but a broad variety of demands? These are people of every walk of life, after all, who are fed up with what our society has evolved into -- where the power of the powerful has gotten way out of hand, leaving the other 99 percent virtually powerless. It would be pretty difficult to sum up their frustrations into just a few soundbites, right?

I think it was former Democratic Senator Russ Feingold who recently said that Occupy Wall Street will now show the country what a real protest movement is all about. I could not agree with that statement more. After all, now that a genuine, grass-roots protest movement has started to take hold in the United States, it's a bit more obvious that the so-called Tea Party was really full of shit, isn't it? I mean, what were those people really, except Republicans with a new name who opposed health care reform, right? What have they been screaming about? The government spending money to prevent the economy from falling off a cliff? Would they rather we had fallen off the cliff?? Aren't things bad enough?

The goal of this movement seems to be to give voice to the frustration of our nation's disempowered -- what the movement says is the 99 percent of us. And if it is just for the sake of giving that frustration voice, that is enough. This is a society, after all, where the voice of the average person is becoming increasingly ignored by the powers that be, whether it is the mainstream media or political parties. What we are witnessing unfold on the streets of our City is quite possibly the end of that.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Everything's Coming Up Roses?

For the past few months the little shop on Austin, down near Ascan, bearing the name "Sister Unn's" has revealed little about what this store will actually be, remaining all papered over except for the black awning with its name in white letters. But suddenly, the Sister Unn's website has a bit more information. At least I think it does..

The website suggests that this will be a store that sells....roses!

Here is what it says: "We are pleased again to welcome you to Sister Unn's website. Sister Unn's is a store located in Forest Hills, NY and we hope that you will visit us soon. There is so much to do and so much to say and we haven't the most time as winter is on its way. May you ask what Sister Unn's sells? Why we have roses! So many flowers for you to see. In all of Sister Unns favorite colors. We have Faith Lavender Roses, Blue Bird Lavender Roses, Ocean Song, Vendela Ivory, Ecuadorian White Roses, as well as a small sample of Gordon Cole's Blue Rose. Sister Unn's thanks you for your visit and hopes that you will return again."

Quite quirky, mysterious and even befuddling, if I do say so myself. The tone kind of reminds me of the temptress in those old black and white films who holds out her hand and welcomes you into her haunted mansion on the hill as the lightning storm illuminates the dark night... And the look of the website kind of matches that thought perfectly, check it out for yourselves: http://www.sister-unns.com/

Why? (Movie Version)

Since it's Friday, it's a good time to talk movies, right? Unfortunately, this post is another one of my "Why's?" (I believe the last Why? I did was when they came out with the "Arthur" remake, which thankfully bombed big time.



I can understand doing a remake of a movie every, say, 50 years or so. But the first, perfectly fine Tobey Maguire version of Spider-Man only came out 9 years ago!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Local Delicacies

Do you have any favorite local delicacies? I had my second pastrami sandwich from La Boulangerie yesterday for lunch and this question popped into my head. This freakin' sandwich is so amazingly delectable and has become such a fast fave of mine that it started me wondering if other readers of the blog have any other local favorite foods? I know a commenter here has also mentioned in the past couple of days the "Marilyn Monroe Roll" at Sushi Yasu (now on Austin St., btw, in the Austin St. Mall). What are your local favorites?

Rest In Peace Steve

Maybe you're one of those people who is waking up this morning and thinking, "Hmmm, Steve Jobs.. I really don't know what the fuss is all about." Then, try this little experiment. Think of the different products Apple has come out with and then try to guess the year when they came out. For instance, the iPhone. What year did the first iPhone come out? Take a guess if you don't already know. And then Google the answer. I bet you'll be amazed at how recently it actually was.


And that serves to show just how transformational the products from Steve Jobs and Apple have been in the past decade. Today it is hard to remember what life was like without them.

By the way, here's one example. The iPhone. It first came out on June 29, 2007.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Restaurant Update

Some local restaurant news and commentary:

  • A few readers have asked me if I would post something about Oko, the frozen yogurt shop on Austin. I've been told that at this past weekend's street fair they were offering samples from of some new Korean food offerings. One reader wrote: "They were giving out samples on Sunday during the street fair and the items were *tasty*.  I think they provide a great service and their eco-friendly/all natural approach is enlightened." Another reader told me that this place has a variety of freshly made sandwiches and other foods (they were responding to one of my recent posts about the lack of a good place in town to get a really good, higher-end yet simple sandwich!). Anyway, I totally agree with these readers. I have always liked Oko. It is a very nice, modern-looking, clean place and the food I have had there has been quite good. I plan to go back and sample more of their food very soon. Thanks for writing in about them! 
  • I recently tried the new Brownies & Cream store on Austin. I had two of their regular brownies and they also let me sample their ice cream. All of it was quite good. The brownies were quite enjoyable and I plan on going back again when I need my next fix. They had two home-made ice cream samples when I was there and the one I tried--I forget what it was--was excellent and I would definitely get it again. The woman behind the counter could not have been more friendly or helpful. This store is owned by a young, local couple who are just starting this new business. We need more like them in our neighborhood! If you get a chance, visit Brownies & Cream and give them a try!
  • Also, some Austin St. Mall news: I've been told by readers that the make-your-own salad place Energy Green had the same owners as the former Tako Sushi. They had cut the storefront of Tako Sushi in half, tried Korean in the space, which didn't work, and then opened Energy Green. Anyway, as sad as I have been that Energy Green has closed, now comes news that the popular Sushi Yasu (formerly on Yellowstone Blvd.) has taken this space in the Mall. I haven't tried Sushi Yasu but hear fantabulous things about it. I can't wait to try it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Counting Down to Jet Blue's Departure

Anyone in need of some office space? Like 200,000 square feet of it? Muss tries to land new tenant to replace JetBlue

New Blog Layout - Thoughts?

Hmmmm..... what do ya'll think of the new blog layout? Do you love it? Or miss the old one?....

Update: Thanks to the two of you for your feedback. While there are definitely some advantages to the new layouts I tried last night, it doesn't provide all the functionality I like (such as being able to easily notice the latest comments, as one of you said), and there are also some technical issues behind the scenes that they still have to iron out... So — for now anwyay — I am going back to the way we had it before.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Around Queens This Weekend



Mr. Vino In-Store Tasting Tomorrow

One of Mr. Vino's wine suppliers, Vinifera Imports tells me they will be pouring "three wonderful Italian wines" at Mr. Vino on Saturday 10/01 from 5 pm to 8 pm.  It's a free in-store tasting featuring the following wines:

2009 Barberani Orvieto Classico Castagnolo
2008 Braida Montebruna Barbera
2006 ICardi Barbaresco

Mr. Vino
107-02A 71st Ave
Forest Hills, NY 11375

Thursday, September 29, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

I've been feeling a little frustrated in recent weeks about what is going on with our local food and retail situation. And now comes news that Energy Green, the make-your-own-salad place in the Austin St. Mall has just closed. I haven't confirmed this myself yet because I've been out of town for the past several days. But if it's true, it's really extremely disappointing. Firstly, every salad I ever had from there was really, really good. And secondly, Energy Green represented to me an important trend toward healthier, more moden food offerings in Forest Hills. If it has indeed closed, we have taken a big step backwards and that is a huge shame.

At the same time, there was the mysterious closing of NY Falafel Bar a few weeks ago. I know some people on this blog have said they didn't like it, but having spent a year myself living in Israel I have to say that their chicken shawarma was one of the closest things I have tasted state-side to what I enjoyed in the Middle East.

And then there is the CVS drugstore reportedly coming into the space next to the Key Food on the northern side of Queens Blvd. I agree with others on this blog who have posted their disappointment about that. Is a CVS really the best we can do with that prime retail space? Sure, it could be worse. It will bring a lot of convenience to those who live on the northern side of Queens Blvd. But will it distinguish Forest Hills in any way from just about every other neighborhood in Queens? Nope. Will it make us a more desirable neighborhood to live in in New York City? Nope. Will it serve as a magnet to other attractive new stores and restaurants? Sadly, Nope.

Are national chains like Dunkin' Donuts and CVS really the best a vibrant New York City neighborhood like Forest Hills can do? Are we evolving into some neighborhood that could be easily plopped down into the middle of any midwestern American city where the highlight of a night out on the town is dinner at Applebee's? 

Shanah Tovah !

Happy Rosh Hashanah to all of my Jewish readers. Wishing you a sweet New Year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Duane Reade Gets a Facelift

They've finally started to upgrade our Duane Reade on 71st/Continental. If you recall, the chain has been upgrading their stores throughout the city over the past couple of years. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Get Ready to Start Dunkin' !

The new Dunkin' Donuts on 71st/Continental is doing a "dry-run" today. And such a dry-run netted me a delightful free lunch. Such nice things can happen when you're nosey!

The place officially opens tomorrow. But if you go today, they are not only very happy to see you, but you get to eat free!





Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Brownies & Cream Opening Day

From their Twitter feed: "IT'S SET, GRAND OPENING FRIDAY 9/23/11 NO MATTER RAIN OR SHINE!!!! STILL FREE BROWNIE SAMPLES!!"

Stadium Update

I have been meaning to post a link to this article, which I think is a really interesting development: Federal Backing to Save Forest Hills Stadium
The Daily News reports that members from President Barack Obama’s historic preservation staffs are interested in saving the stadium.