Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More TV Ramblings...


Regular readers of this blog will know I am a big Sci-Fi fan. I just heard that Fox has cancelled the Terra Nova show. I felt I just had to throw my two cents in about this show because to me the reason it sucked is so obvious... and, because it also points out something kind of important about popular entertainment these days. Namely, a lot of expensive special effects doesn't buy quality television shows! Good writers do!

Actually, when I first started watching it I thought it would actually turn out to be really good. I think it had a Star Trek producer associated with it and the premise -- the earth has been destroyed by climate change and humans go back in time to the earth when it was prehistoric and pristine -- seemed to me to have a lot of promise.

But as the weeks went on, I realized this show began to fall back on just agonizingly bad one-dimensional characters and horribly predictable plot lines. There was absolutely no suspense whatsoever in a TV show that was supposed to be about constant suspense! In every episode you just knew the central characters were going to survive. And that ruined all the fun.

Now, contrast that with one of my favorite shows, like, ever, -- The Walking Dead. Each week you're on the edge of your seat because you just know the characters, no matter how central they are to the plot, could very well be dispatched by a zombie, or even one another. But what really makes it work are the three-dimensional characters. None of them are purely good or bad, benevolent or evil. They are human, riddled with imperfections and flaws. We can see ourselves in all of them. The best part of this show is sometimes just watching the worst, most despicable characters and catching just a glimpse of the goodness inside of them and hoping they'll rise to their better selves.

Latest News Tips...

I just received a flurry of news tips from readers, so I'll just lay them out here for you guys...

  1. Soleil on Austin St. has a "store for rent" sign on it.
  2. There's a big "Auction" sign in front of Ariana's Cafe on Austin and their kitchen equipment is out on the tables.
  3. Oh, and this is not a tip, but from CNN. A huge solar flare recently occurred. So if you can't reach this blog or use your cellphone over the next day or so, that's why. :)


Local Real Estate Values

Queens’ most expensive block is in Belle Harbor, Rockaways Other pricey blocks in Forest Hills Gardens, Douglaston, Oakland Gardens
"Forest Hills Gardens scored the next three spots on the list, with median home prices in the vicinity of Seasongood Road and Ascan Ave. fetching $1.66 million to $1.35 million."

Lots of local millionaires... see my Sunday post, but I just can't help but reiterate -- those who open businesses in our neighborhood can tap into a vast amount of disposable income in the Forest Hills area. So, why are we stuck with only Key Foods for supermarkets, for instance, and mostly lesser quality restaurants? It truly baffles me.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Taste of Tuscany

I had lunch at one of my favorite local restaurants over the weekend, Tuscan Hills, on Queens Blvd. Actually, I think it was the first time I've had lunch there, having until now only gone for dinner.

Just feast your eyes on this photo I took of their minestrone soup. Do I have to say how awesome it was?

By the way, Tuscan Hills recently doubled in size. Congratulations! This is one place that more than deserves its success. Not only amazing food, but excellent, friendly service.

Figuring Out FoHi

One thing we could definitely use here in Forest Hills is an independent coffee place. Why there are like a zillion of these in Manhattan and Brooklyn, and zilch here in Forest Hills is beyond me.

Here's a photo I took of the O Cafe on 6th Ave. and 12th Street in Manhattan. This is the type of place I'm talking about.


The closest thing we have to a coffee place like this is La Boulangerie. They do brew great coffee and it's a great place to hang out, albeit a little small.

Here in Forest Hills it seems all of our coffee places are of the diner or bakery variety And, of course, there's Starbucks. It's time we joined the modern era here and someone opened an independent coffee house, or two.

This goes to something I've been thinking about for a while. That our neighborhood is still very misunderstood by retailers and restauranteurs when it comes to places to just kick back and relax and have a cup of coffee or a drink with friends. Just look at what has dominated the local scene up until now - sports bars, like Exo Cafe, or calorie-laden bakeries that also happen to serve coffee as an afterthought.

And meanwhile, the biggest success locally in recent years has been the most upscale of the bunch, La Boulangerie.

Walk into La Boulangerie and you can't help but be struck by how many people are just soaking in the wonderful atmosphere, unwinding with a coffee or something to eat. It's obvious that Forest Hills' residents are just aching for more places like this. I think any that open would be astonished by how popular they would be. Enough with the sports bars. We have plenty of those. When are more business owners going to cater to the sophisticated residents of FoHi who frequent places like La Boulangerie?

When Bareburger opens this month I think everyone will be amazed at how popular it is. Why? Because, once again, it caters to a sophisticated clientele that has been grossly underserved here in Forest Hills.

Photos of Demolition

Some photos I took of the demolition of the strip of stores next to the Key Food on Queens Blvd. The last I heard they will be building a new co-op on the site, with a CVS drugstore/pharmacy.





Friday, March 2, 2012

Terrible Tornados

Thoughts today are with all those being affected by the tornados in the midwest and south...

I just grabbed these shots from Earthcam... this is heading towards Nashville, Tenn.



Thursday, March 1, 2012

Davy Jones and Forest Hills

Oh, wouldn't it be nice to have concerts once again at our stadium? So much history there and there could be so much more...Anyway, rest in peace Davy.

ARTS Davy Jones, Monkees Singer, Dies at 66
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: February 29, 2012
Davy Jones was a singer and, by long-held public consensus, the handsomest and most popular of the Monkees, the collectively young, longhaired, wildly famous pop group of the 1960s and afterward.
The group’s critical reception was not unsurpassed. In 1967, in an article about one of the Monkees’ relatively rare live concerts of the period, at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, The New York Times said:
“Frequently during the performance, sound that resembled the lowing of a sick cow hovered over the stadium. This turned out to be one of those horns often heard at Shea Stadium during baseball games. It didn’t seem to hurt the musical evening.”

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More on Middle Eastern Restaurant

I just found out that this may be more of a hookah-type bar than a restaurant, or a mix of the two. Needless to say, if it is mostly a hookah lounge with just some food to go along with it, I am really bummed! I don't think I have ever been in a hookah lounge, or if I was it was a long time ago and I don't remember. But I was really hoping this would be a regular Middle Eastern restaurant. What I'm told is it will serve some food, but will also be a lounge-type establishment.

This news, coming right after the opening of that small trinket, novelty store down on Austin (near Ascan), has me in a frustrated mood! The new little store doesn't seem to fit in that area. If anything I can maybe see it in the Austin St. Mall on the western end of Austin, not east, where newer upscale places like La Boulangerie and Emily's Sugar Rush have recently really increased our expectations for some newer fine businesses.

Now, I just want to stress that I have not confirmed with the owner that the Middle Eastern establishment will be a hookah lounge -- or to what extent it will be mixed with a restaurant. But the person I spoke to is definitely in the know and said it will be a lounge that also serves food, so that's what I'm going on. For all I know, it might be a great place, possibly with a separate area for eating. I just don't know.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

New Middle Eastern Restaurant for Austin

One of the blog's readers posted on the Facebook page that the former Greenline Organic on Austin St. is being converted into a Middle Eastern restaurant. Very exciting news!

I'm also told the store next door to it is doing asbestos removal, so we're wondering if the two will be combined into one bigger restaurant.

Gloria Pizza's Website

The Under Construction page for Gloria Pizza, home of the future website for the new restaurant opening next to the Midway Theater: http://gloriapizza.com/ Mama mia I could really go for a slice right about now!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chain Stores in Forest Hills

In case you haven't heard or noticed, the Body Shop (71-03 Austin St between 71st Ave and 71st Rd.) has closed. That, and a lunch at Chipotle in Manhattan over the weekend, had me wondering what other chains readers of the blog would like to see open in Forest Hills? Chipotle is my pick right off the bat. I'm sure I can come up with others. Maybe Bed, Bath and Beyond (I know it's close in Rego Park, but it would be great to have either that or something like it right here on Austin.) What would you like to see open here? The floor is open...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

My Political Malaise

I've kind of been wondering why I have had absolutely no desire to post about the current presidential campaign. I think it's because somewhere deep down in my sub-conscious I realized a while ago that it was all so much more tedious than it is worth it. I concluded, oh, about three years ago, that Obama will probably be re-elected without much effort. And nothing, after these 20 Republican debates, has occurred to change that prediction in my mind.

It goes without saying that what passes for the Republican Party today is so out of touch with mainstream American voters that the party has virtually no chance of reclaiming the White House in the foreseeable future.

Of course, there's always the possibility that things spiral out of control, the center does not hold, etc.. etc... (Iran, oil shortages, EU collapse, etc... any of these crisis can become major at any time, potentially opening the way for one of the Republicans to somehow win the election), but barring that I think this will be a landslide win for Obama.

Doughnut Hell

By the way, if there is the equivalent of doughnut hell, I may have visited it -- but in a spectacularly good way. I sure hope this place, which I believe started on the Lower East Side a while back and this month opened on 23rd St. in Chelsea (at the Chelsea Hotel) does not come to Forest Hills any time soon (Please, please come to Forest Hills, as soon as you possibly can! ... Quiet!! ... F#!@OFF!!...)

http://www.doughnutplant.com/

Doughnut Plant Hits Chelsea

Cute Subway Announcements

N.Y. / REGION
City Room: Heard Underground, in Your Dreams
By DAVID W. DUNLAP and MICHAEL KOLOMATSKY
Published: February 23, 2012
What readers would love to hear underground, as recorded by Bernie Wagenblast.

Vintage Forest Hills

From Wine Spectator: A Spanish Red at a Budget Price
"OK, I admit it. Sometimes (if not more often than not), I’m drawn to prices on a wine list before I even read the name of the wine. Such was the case in my neighborhood in Forest Hills in Queens, N.Y., at the local one-star Michelin restaurant (that’s right, we have Michelin stars in Queens), Danny Brown Wine Bar & Kitchen."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

iPads Coming to NYC Cabs?

Will iPads Replace TV Screens in NYC Taxis?

The first thing I thought was they would end up losing a lot of iPads!  :) But then I read that they are going to be embedded in the cars....

In any case, this would be neat for those, oh, like five times each year I actually take a cab. In fact, that's a whole other thing. Don't you love it how in TV shows and films set in New York City they always show everyone taking cabs? Puhlease! How often do real New Yorkers take cabs?

Oh, and one other thing. Now that they've actually gone and installed WIFI in some of the Manhattan subway stations, I miss it even MORE in those stations that don't have it. Mayor Bloomberg, you pride yourself on being so hip and trendy when it comes to things like green initiatives and what-not. I know you don't have much control of the MTA, but isn't there something you can do to get this done already? I mean, in this day and age, not to have phone service on the subways, or at least the platforms, really makes us look third world.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And Now, The Workers...

Until now it's been mostly residents fed up with the high cost of renting a closet-sized apartment in Manhattan who have been discovering our neighborhood. But, now, apparently, here come the workers -- and they don't even work for an airline! Go figure!

Tenant ditches Manhattan for Forest Hills
Bilinguals finds the space of its dreams—and a tax break—on the second floor of a building on the Queens neighborhood’s prosperous main drag.

I can just hear the conversations now:
"I really like living in Manhattan. Well, I guess the only thing I don't love about it is the commute. I mean, it takes like 30 minutes to get from my apartment in Manhattan to where I work in Forest Hills. In fact, I am thinking of maybe moving to Forest Hills, if only the apartments weren't so damn expensive! Oh. Wait. They aren't expensive... oh, and they're also enormous...hmmm."

Tuscan Hills Expands

A photo of the new part of one of my favorite local restaurants, Tuscan Hills, on Queens Blvd. They recently expanded into the space that became available next door...


Friday, February 17, 2012

Small Man


Doesn't Chris Christie look small in this photo? It's fitting. After all, any chance he would be remembered as anything but a small, little man disappeared today with his veto of the Gay Marriage Bill in New Jersey. He has sided with the haters and as a result will forever go down as a dinosaur and, sadly, be but a footnote in history.

Another Assist from Lin?

It's funny how things work out sometimes, isn't it? I'm no expert in these matters, but I can bet that the amazing performance of Jeremy Lin over the past couple of weeks had a lot to do with the fact that Time Warner Cable subscribers all of sudden will be able to watch MSG once again, after a 48 day dispute was resolved today:

SPORTS
Time Warner Cable and MSG Resolve Dispute
By HOWARD BECK and RICHARD SANDOMIR
Published: February 17, 2012
Time Warner Cable and the MSG Network resolved their dispute on Friday. Customers will now be able to watch the Knicks and four New York-area N.H.L. teams, including the Rangers.

I find it kind of funny I am blogging about this stuff. I am like the least sports-oriented person in this country, usually geeking myself out on sci-fi movies and computer games. But, hey, you never know.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Behind the Scenes

While we all walk by it going about our everyday business, they have been dismantling from the inside that block of empty stores next to the Key Food on the north side of Queens Blvd.

My adventurous and enterprising roving reporter shot these pics (somehow), risking life and limb for the blog (just kidding, I think he shot them through some space in the covered-up windows).

The roof is slowly being dismantled.

The floor - or lack thereof.

Another shot of the ceiling being dismantled.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lincredible

I'm not a big sports fan by any means, but the story of Jeremy Lin that's unfolded in the past week has been rather exciting I must admit...

SPORTS
For Lin, Erasing a History of Being Overlooked
By MARK VIERA
Published: February 12, 2012
Despite a stellar high school career, Jeremy Lin eluded the radar of top college programs. Lin received no Division I scholarship offers.

Latest on L.I.C.

Turning our attention for a bit to the West, the development of Long Island City continues unabated...

REAL ESTATE
In Long Island City, Pepsi Sign Gets More Company
By ALISON GREGOR
Published: February 9, 2012
Two more glass skyscrapers are added to a group of towers on the waterfront of Long Island City.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Austin Street Profiled in Wall Street Journal

NY REAL ESTATE RESIDENTIAL
FEBRUARY 10, 2012
Austin Street Keeps Pace With Forest Hills
Austin Street, the bustling commercial heart of Forest Hills, Queens, has solidified its status as a mecca for shopping, dining and entertainment, bringing in patrons from the neighborhood and beyond.
The mix of stores, restaurants and other establishments along the commercial strip has evolved over the years, with a number of businesses now catering to a younger clientele. But the steady rise of the neighborhood's profile has come at a price, with area rents rising—sharply in some cases—forcing some turnover.

And then, later in the article:
"We want to be wherever we can fill that niche where people are looking for organic and all-natural foods," said Bareburger founder Euripides Pelekanos. "Austin Street has the same vibe as Astoria—young, vibrant, educated, cool, open to new food ideas."


Another new business I think they should have mentioned is Emily's Sugar Rush...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Overheard in Forest Hills

Pleasant, middle-aged man while opening the door for an elderly couple leaving La Boulangerie: "Their food is just great, isn't it?!"

Disgruntled, scowling elderly long-time Forest Hills lady: "Yes, but they're out of baguettes!"

Let's Meet About This

I was talking with a friend the other day who expressed bemusement at the news that NY was thinking of building a new, enormous convention center here in Queens. He was like, "Who is going to want to go to a convention in Queens?!" I have to say, after reading this article in The Times I am beginning to agree with him. According to the article attendance at conventions has been declining due to the ability to view product information over the Internet and tighter company travel budgets.

N.Y. / REGION
Queens Questions Need for 2 Convention Halls
By JOSEPH BERGER
Published: February 8, 2012
The city wants one, in Willets Point, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo wants another, at the Aqueduct racetrack, a proposal that has fed suspicions about officials’ intentions.

So, the question remains, what to do with the Eastern section of Queens if not build a huge convention center? I believe if we wait long enough, it will probably figure it out for itself. As I said in a recent post, gentrification is rolling on... spreading out from the city's center in Manhattan to its outer boroughs. The young and hip just love to settle in downtrodden, cheaper neighborhoods and that in turn revitalizes them. Don't see why this section of Queens should be any different.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Queens High Line

An interesting piece on The Daily News website about the possibilities of a High Line-like park coming to our area: For bikers, turning the old LIRR Rockaway line into a greenway is the QueensWay to go
As of today, an online petition calling on the City of New York to convert the Rockaway line to a park has 1,426 signatures which include those of more than 300 people from the Forest Hills/Rego Park area, more than 700 people from Queens and those of people from nearly 50 countries around the world.

Travel and Now, Cold

Was out of town for a bit and couldn't update, and now I brought back with me that nasty cold that is going around...