Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Closing Time ?

Sadly, or perhaps not sadly depending on how you look at it, there's been a bit of a backlog of news about local stores and restaurants closing. Here's a quick rundown:

- Q Bistro, the restaurant on Ascan that used to be Thai and then reopened with a kind of an eclectic-modern style menu, closed about a week or so ago. I quite possibly was among the last guests at this restaurant. And I was left a bit unnerved by the experience, I have to say. While they had done a nice job of redesigning the restaurant, there really wasn't a lot of logic to what they were doing. For one thing, when you create an open kitchen for your guests to watch the food being made, shouldn't that enhance the dining experience, and not make the visitor uneasy? I sat right across from the open kitchen area as I ate and watching what looked like short-order cooks dump what I swear was cans of tomato sauce into what they were preparing was really not the most dinner-enhancing experience.

And here are a couple of other goners, Clear, an interent service provider on Austin St., and Austin Chemists, a small drugstore on Austin right near Ascan (my friend who lives near there said it seemed they spent more time constructing the store than actually being open.) 

I have a very good feeling about what is happening down on Austin St. near Ascan, by the way. Is it just me, or is that area becoming very interesting, between the amazing La Boulangerie, the very enjoyable Brownies & Cream (I just treated myself tonight to some more of their delectable home made Coffee Brownie ice cream - Boy, they have huge chunks of brownies in there, delish! :) ), and the bizarre, yet conversation-generating Sister Unn's. 

Could my dreams of a cute little independent cafe be next down that way? We've already come awfully close with La Boulangerie. Wouldn't the Q Bistro space make for the perfect little indie cafe, ala Park Slopes' Ozzie's, to hang out in? 

Monday, November 7, 2011

More on Tennis Stadium

Here's a link to an article in The Daily News from Sunday that includes a drawing of the proposal for its use as an ice skating rink and arts and music center:

Queens' West Side Stadium, longtime home of U.S. Open, could reopen as venue for arts, concerts and hockey if non-profit's plan is approved

I love Karen Koslowitz' comment in the article.... She expresses absolutely no enthusiasm, but only trepidation, for this great idea, and one of the first to be backed by people powerful enough, with the City-wide connections, to actually make it happen! Doesn't she care about the health of local businesses all along Austin St., who would all benefit greatly from the added foot traffic if this wonderful historic stadium was brought back to life for public use? And what about the property values throughout the Forest Hills area which would all rise from the opening of an upscale attraction such as this? How short-sighted can you possibly be?? Jeez! What a waste of a public office :(

Here's another link, to a video on NY1 about the proposal: New Proposal Aims To Bring Sports Back To Historic Queens Stadium

And here's very comprehensive coverage, with loads of details about this new proposal—and previous ones—from the great blog by Rego-Forest Preservation Council Chairman Michael Perlman: Forest Hills Tennis Stadium May Have A Sports & Entertainment Future

Perlman's piece explains that the Club's membership will eventually have to vote on any proposals for the site: "For a proposal to materialize, it would be subject to a review by the Stadium Committee, and in 2012, it would need to pass by a 2/3 vote of WSTC voting-eligible members, followed by approval of the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation."

But perhaps most importantly, Perlman also points out this latest development at The Club: "A seemingly greater path towards the stadium's restoration and creative reuse was discovered on November 3, 2011, when the WSTC elected Roland Meier as their new President over Kenneth Parker, who was reportedly anti-preservation."

Friday, November 4, 2011

Free Wine Tasting Tomorrow

Mr. Vino is having a free tasting again tomorrow 11/05 from 5pm - 8pm.  Here's the line up:

Soligo Prosecco
2000 Sant' Elena Merlot (This is a really nice older vintage)
2008 Villa Medoro Montepulciano D'Abruzzo 

This delightful, and relatively new, wine shop in Forest Hills is located at 107-02A 71st Avenue, between Cohen's Fashion Optical and Radio Shack.

New Poll: The Forest Hills Tennis Stadium

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ice Skating for Stadium Site?

A lot of is  happening over at The West Side Tennis Club this week. They're the one's who hold the fate of the historic Forest Hills Tennis Stadium in their hands.

Tonight, they are voting on a new president, the results of which could influence any future decision on what to do with the Stadium, which has just sat there mostly unused for years now.

Then on Friday is another deadline for the latest proposals for what to do with the Stadium.

The Daily News reports that one proposal would have a non-profit group turn it into an indoor ice skating rink during the winter and an art and music events venue during the warm weather. The idea would preserve much of the historic building at the same time.

As a Forest Hills resident, the proposal to turn it into an ice skating rink and music events venue sounds like the right one to me. It would draw people into the area from all over the City, helping our local businesses, some of whom are struggling in this weak economy. And it would also be a great new attraction for local residents to enjoy. And all while preserving the Stadium itself, which is a historic landmark in so many ways it is absolutely laughable that it is even possible that some are thinking of tearing it down. Jackie O (who saved Grand Central Station from the sad fate of the glorious old Penn Station which was demolished to make room for the ugly series of underground mole-like tunnels we call a Station now) must certainly be turning over in her grave at the thought.

Here's a link to the Daily News story: Fate of Historic Forest Hills Stadium May Rest on Crucial West Side Tennis Club Vote

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Performance Art on Austin?

The Sister Unn's mystery deepens even more, if you can imagine that. As a commenter here on the blog just said, it seems to be performance art of some kind. And that would fit with their mysterious website.

Here is what I found at the website the comment linked to (http://rhizome.org/) :
Winter is approaching "Sister Unn's, a thriving flower shop froze dead in its tracks after the disappearance of a young girl." http://www.sister-unns.com/ Viewable November 2011 thru February 2012. Event date: November 5, 2011 10:00 am - 10:00 pm Directions by Subway: - Take the E, F, R or M train to Forest Hills / 71st Av Continental. - Make a left on Austin St. walk until you see our awning. Located on the right side of the street. Google Maps: http://g.co/maps/c5k4k "The girl is the rose that melts in the ice in the store in the back where no one will look for years." by Filip Olszewski and Bunny Rogers
And here are some photos from this morning of the place:

Recommended Restaurants Updated

I just updated the Recommended Restaurants Page and also noticed that Blogger has finally fixed it so that readers can once again also post comments to that page. So, if you have an area favorite and don't find it there, be sure to add it! :) Or, for that matter, if you just want to agree, or disagree, with one of the recommendations already there.

I will be cleaning that page up soon - it is getting a little unwieldy with all the comments we have at the bottom so far. So while I'll keep the comments, I'll also try to create a secondary list of "Readers' Recommendations" so it is easier to read.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Boo !

This to me will always be the ultimate Halloween treat. There have been many copies, but nothing is like the original (at least I don't think so. I've never seen the copies.):

But I have to say for creepiest movie I have ever seen, there is this one. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. But not with the lights off!:

And, I'm sorry, but this one really scared the hell out of me when I had the unpleasant experience of stumbling on it late one night on cable and watching it all alone. I had no idea just how genuinely scary it would be (maybe it was because of all those camping trips I've been on?):

But in terms of plain gross-out, creepy, scary unpleasantness, nothing really has ever beaten this in my opinion:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Occupy Wall St. Live Feed...

This is some cool stuff... Those of you who follow this blog know I visited the Occupy Wall St. camp last weekend... I am going to run some of their live feed from time to time. I'm not trying to promote their movement by doing this. I think both those who support them and those who don't and those who are somewhere in the middle all have valid points of view. That's democracy. The debate needs to be ongoing and our discourse needs to be energetic and passionate. We are all Americans and all of our opinions matter, whether you are part of the so-called One Percent, or the so-called 99 Percent. Everyone is just as important to our country as everyone else. So, why am I running their live feed from time to time? Just to further the debate and because I've been watching some of this feed and I think it's really, really interesting. So, give it a try if you have some time to spare:

Watch live streaming video from occupywallstnyc at livestream.com

By the way, here's a photo I took of their Media Tent. They have a camera set up inside where they do a lot of their live broadcasts:

Friday, October 28, 2011

An Early Snow...



From The Times:

At the Metropolitan Museum, a New Wing, a New Vista
Published: October 27, 2011

On Nov. 1, after eight years of renovations, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will open its new Islamic wing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I haven't read the book, so I don't know anything about this movie, but I really like this trailer - it's both heartwarming and exhilarating at the same time:

Oko Update

I finally tried Oko's food on the suggestions of some of my readers. I had the spicy tuna wrap yesterday. I really, really liked it! Even the side salad that came with it had a delicious asian ginger dressing.

Thanks for the recommendation guys!  :) I'm looking forward to going back and trying more of their food. They have a very interesting tofu stew on the menu that looks like it will be just the thing to get me through the winter! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Damages Filming in Forest Hills

The TV show Damages, starring Glenn Close, will be filming here in Forest Hills on Friday. The signs are up on 71st/Continental Ave. (from Queens Blvd. to Austin St.), and then all along Austin heading towards Ascan. I am sure we are all hoping for a "Close call" on Austin St. (Sorry, my friend who tipped me off to this really wanted me to fit that pun in somewhere! :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sister Unn's Website Gets More 'Interesting'

I see they have updated the website of the curious new shop opening at 72-32 Austin St. (in the vicinity of Ascan). And the result is even more mysterious.

In case you didn't see the previous posts about Sister Unn's, one commenter said they spoke with some workers there who said it will be an art gallery.

 In any case, the mystery will end soon. The website says it will be opening in November: http://www.sister-unns.com/

My Visit to Occupy Wall Street

This past Sunday I finally visited the Occupy Wall Street encampment down at Liberty Square. It was really great to finally see it for myself, especially after hearing all the disparaging rumors about it. I wasn't surprised to find the rumors are completely false. The encampment is pretty clean, for instance. It isn't unsanitary from what I can see. Also, the mood was pretty much one of peaceful coexistence -- or at least using peaceful methods to overturn a system the protesters believe has become unjust.

There are indeed a ton of sleeping bags. But interestingly, you never feel really crowded while you are walking around. The paths are pretty wide and everything is very well organized.

Overall, I highly recommend you take the E train down to the WTC and see if for yourselves. The people are for the most part pretty friendly and happy to explain to you what they are doing there.

I really found it fascinating how they have created for themselves a mini-city. As you walk around you see all the different parts that are needed for a self-sustaining community to operate, from First Aid, to a  clothing shop, a kitchen, to even a growing library!

Here's some photos I took. I'll post some short videos in the next day or so as well.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More on New Pizza Place

The comment posted on this blog back on Oct. 10th has been confirmed! The popular pizza place Gloria's Pizza, which used to be in Flushing, is indeed moving into the space next to the Midway Theater. And boy, Gloria's seems to have a lot of devotees! I am really looking forward to trying it when it opens in a couple of months.

The confirmation is on Facebook and also on the Chowhound website: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/235529
(see the last comment on the Chowhound page)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sushi Wars

The inside of Sushi Yasu in its new Austin Mall location.
The game is on! Sushi Yasu's recent move from Yellowstone Blvd. to the space formerly occupied by the make-your-own salad place Energy Green (in the lower level of the Austin St. Mall), has taken the local Sushi Wars up a notch.

Not that we ever lacked for sushi. In fact, Forest Hills very well may have more pieces of sushi per capita than any other neighborhood in New York City.

Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration. But we do indeed have a whole lot of Sushi to choose from.

Here are just a few of the sushi places I know about:
  • Jade, at Station Square
  • Moca, on 70th Road
  • Suhsi Oh! on Austin
  • Sushi Yasu in Austin St. Mall
And I know there are plenty of others... My personal favorites are Jade and Moca. Let me know what other sushi places you like and maybe I'll post a Sushi Wars poll to see who emerges the ultimate people's choice!

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


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.