Thursday, July 30, 2015

MTA Worker Charged with Forest Hills Hit-and-Run Murder

Breaking news:

From The Daily News:

MTA worker facing murder charges in Queens hit and run that killed 'jeweler to the stars'

 Charles Jordan, 46, of Valley Stream, L.I., is facing murder charges in the July 19 hit and run that began with an argument outside Aranbayev’s home in Forest Hills, Queens.
Aranbayev was killed when he was run over by a car in front of his home

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Popular Forest Hills bakery Bonelle to close after all

According to the Queens Chronicle the Ascan Avenue Bonelle Pastry Shop, one of the older bakeries in Forest Hills, will close in January. This, after a local outcry by Forest Hills residents who have treasured the small independent shop for decades. There was even a petition signed by hundreds of shoppers to try to keep it open. But the manager now says they will have to close their doors. Read all about it here: Bonelle Pastry Shop in Forest Hills to close in January

Monday, July 27, 2015

Forest Hills Book Signing

Forest Hills grew out of an experiment--the transformation of 142 undeveloped acres into America's first garden city. From the early renderings of 1909 came a "fairy-book suburb," as Sinclair Lewis wrote, with architecture that was inspired by medieval villages. The success of the community bred development of homes, churches, and businesses on nearby plots. Forest Hills landed the most prestigious tennis tournament in the country. Theodore Roosevelt visited. Helen Keller moved in. Only generations later would the peace shatter when residents viciously protested a historic proposal for public housing.

Local author Nicholas Hirshon was a reporter for the New York Daily News from 2005 to 2011, covering community news, breaking stories, and features. This is his second book. His first, Images of America: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (2010), is the only book on the Long Island arena known for hosting the NHL's New York Islanders.

Vivid sky over The Hills

Captured this amazing sky Friday evening over Queens Blvd.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Latest on Genovese Murder Film

Deadline Hollywood has a lot more detail about the film being shot on Austin Street about the Kew Gardens Kitty Genovese murder all those years ago, and, I'm sorry to say, it doesn't sound good. Especially for the residents of Kew Gardens. If the plot they detail in the article is indeed the plot of the movie, this will be rehashing a story that forever stained the reputation of the residents of Kew Gardens, and Queens, and all of New York City for that matter—and has since been revealed to be untrue, a gross exaggeration of what actually took place when this young woman was murdered. See my coverage about the case here if you haven't been following the latest revelations about the Kitty Genovese murder case.

From Deadline Hollywood:
Samira Wiley & Michael Potts Head Ensemble Cast For ’37’, Drama Inspired By Kitty Genovese Murder
37 examines the lives of a group of families living in the Kew Gardens area of Queens, New York in the 1960s who witness the murder of 28-year-old Genovese (Brucato) and do not intervene. 37 is an expansion on the short film by Tisch alum Puk Grasten, which premiered at the 2013 Slamdance Film Festival.

Why stain the reputation of our neighborhoods here in Queens? If you're a filmmaker, wouldn't you want to portray the truth about what really happened? I was hoping this film was going to be a documentary of some kind revealing that truth, not rehashing the sensationalistic erroneous news reports that forever tarnished the city's reputation.

Hit and Run Case Getting International Attention

The hit-and-run case involving Forest Hills resident Aron Aranbayev has now gone global, as various media outlets point out that Aranbayev's Manhattan jewelry store serviced quite a few major celebrities.

Aranbayev was killed while being dropped off in front of his home on Sunday night.

From Britain's Daily Mail: New York jeweler to the stars and father-of-four run down and killed in front of his home 'in dispute over a parking space'
  • Aron Aranbayev, 40, run down in front of Queens home 11pm Sunday
  • Store Rafaello & Co served celebrities such as Jay-Z and Alicia Keys
  • Father of four remembered as family man and had child born six month ago
  • Police ruled case a homicide and are looking for driver of Dodge Magnum

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Moca Asian Bistro Has Reopened

I walked by it today and noticed it had reopened, a few days after being closed by the NYC Health Department.

Mocha Asian Bistro, seen here last year, had been closed a few days due to health code violations

Recommended Restaurants Page Updated

Eagerly awaited by millions the world over, it happens rarely, and today is one of those days. Yes, the Blog's Recommended Restaurants Page has indeed been updated! The first time since Thanksgiving, in fact. This month's update has already generated quite a stir over on the Blog's Facebook Page, btw.

Film shoot update: Some Cool Cars

A friend of mine shot these cool period cars at the ongoing Kitty Genovese film shoot on Austin and 75t Road.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Couple of Ways to Cool Off

With it actually feeling like a genuine New York City summer for a change, we turn our attention to some icy treats. Luckily, Metropolitan Ave. has a couple.

With the Carvel down there having opened, then closed, then, who the hell knows? ...  I, like plenty of other car-less Notherners who don't frequent Metropolitan Area very often, was left confused about the status of one of my favorite childhood haunts. So, for all of you like me who were wondering whether there still is a Carvel in Forest Hills or not, I can happily report there is indeed—and just a short walk down to Metropolitan Ave.

And remember our place to get ices that used to be next to the old Bonfire Grill—Uncle Louie G? Well, that's now located down there as well, sharing a location with Twist It Top It frozen yogurt.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Restaurant Review: Fun in the Sun at El Coyote

Long-time readers of this blog know that there are few things I like as much as being able to loll away the summer sitting outside at one of our fine restaurants in Forest Hills with a brew or otherwise refreshing drink in hand and some tasty vittles to munch on. Well, recently, I had the chance to right a nagging wrong by FINALLY getting myself to our newest Mexican restaurant, El Coyote, located on the upper floor of that two story structure on Austin St. that is also home to Agora Taverna.

I was seated outside on their "deck" overlooking the hustle and bustle of Austin Street. My experience at El Coyote opened in a decidedly disappointing way. The good news, however, is it all went uphill—and very, very uphill, I might add—from there.

The disappointment came in the form of stale-tasting tortilla chips I was served when I sat down with my just-passable salsa. And I mean these chips were stale, chewy, and old. And I was not happy.

I trekked on, however, and ordered the guacamole, which I had heard is quite good at El Coyote, and of course the requisite margarita on the rocks with salt.

Things started to look up quickly. The guacamole, which is made at your table in Rosa Mexicano fashion, I ordered "medium spicy" and came just that way, with just a hint of kick to it, and it was delicious—up there with the best guac I've had anywhere. They refreshed my chips with it, and they were fresh, finally. They also refreshed my salsa. I don't know if this was a bad day there for salsa, but I wasn't a fan of their's. Too smokey, too garlicky, not enough tomato-ey sweetness for my liking.

Things continued to look up. The margarita was perfect. And then my main course, the Combo Mexicano which I ordered with chicken taco, enchilada and burrito ($12.95) was fresh and superbly done. The included towering side rice and beans, splendid.

The service was attentive and pleasant. Overall, I think Forest Hills has another excellent option for Mexican food. I'll chalk up the disappointing salsa and chips experience to a bad day, and hope that doesn't happen again. But the rest of the experience, plus my relaxing time spent sipping my refreshing margarita on their sunny outside patio way above the hustle and bustle of Forest Hills makes me give El Coyote a big shiny grade of A.

(Oh, and tuck this little number away fellow Forest Hillers: (718) 268-0777 That's El Coyote's phone number and guess what, this baby delivers unlike somebody else I know!  )

El Coyote is located on the top floor of that two-story structure on Austin Street where Garcia's used to be

Add points for the eccentric decor! We need more eccentricity here in The Hills!

The view from my perch of bustling Austin Street

Guacamole, made to order and delicious! Memorably good!

Excellent entrees!

No complaints about the rice and beans.

The outside deck could be a little nicer, but who's complaining? I'm freakin' outside!

The disappointing salsa and chips, made tolerable by, what else, a margarita!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Moca Asian Bistro Closed by Health Department

DNAInfo is reporting this today. I haven't eaten there in a while, but I used to quite a lot so the details of this are disappointing to say the least: Moca Asian Bistro in Forest Hills Closed by Health Department

And let's see now, that makes three empty store fronts on the previously bustling and exceedingly popular Restaurant Row... How sad.

July 21, 2015 Update: Moca has reopened. Apparently the issues have been resolved. 


Jazz Thursdays

Friday, July 10, 2015

Film About Murder of Kitty Genovese Filming in Forest Hills Tonight

I'm told the movie being filmed on Austin Street tonight is an independent film about the murder of Kitty Genovese, the landmark case that happened in Kew Gardens the night of March 13, 1964. The crime was made famous by news reports that some 38 people heard Kitty's cries for help, but did nothing, information that has since been shown to be erroneous and based on sensationalistic coverage created by a New York Times editor at the time. In actuality, according to the most recent information, several residents of Kew Gardens came to Kitty's help when hearing her screams.

I've heard this movie's title is "37 Witnesses," but I haven't been able to confirm that. The only confirmed information I have is what I've written above.

Here are some pics from tonight's shoot on Austin:

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Apple Store Opening This Weekend in Queens Center Mall

I've seen this reported on a couple of business news sites, including New York Business Journal, which says it will open there this Saturday. So this would be much, much earlier than initial reports a few months ago reported.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

8th Annual Tour de Queens is the Ultimate New York City Staycation

1,200 Expected to Ride T.A.’s Most Family-Friendly Borough Tour on July 12th

The 8th Annual Tour de Queens offers New Yorkers the ultimate staycation in the city’s biggest borough. This year’s ride will start and finish in tree-lined Astoria Park. The tour will be approximately 20 miles, and will travel through several neighborhoods, including Long Island City, Sunnyside, Rego Park, Forest Hills and Corona. This year’s rest stop will be at Juniper Valley Park in Middle Village, one of Queens’ most beautiful parks.

The Tour de Queens moves en masse, at the family-friendly pace of 10 mph, as a rolling parade escorted by the New York Police Department. While there are no actual street closures, the NYPD and Transportation Alternatives’ volunteer safety marshals will block traffic intersections long enough to allow the Tour to roll through. There will be occasional stops while police and marshals secure intersections and gather riders.

The Tour will pass the sites of two of the T.A. Queens Activist Committee’s safe streets campaigns: Queens Boulevard, where the NYC Department of Transportation will break ground on life-saving street improvements later this year, and 111th Street in Corona, where activists have partnered with local organizations and City Council members to eliminate dangerous conditions that limit local access to Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

The 8th Annual Tour de Queens is sponsored by Vaccaro & White, KIND Snacks, Green Mountain Energy, Purity Organic and Kiwi Energy.

WHAT: The 8th Annual Tour de Queens

WHEN: Sunday, July 12th, 2015. Rider check-in and registration open at 8 am, tour departs at 9:30.

WHERE: Starting location: Astoria Park in Astoria, Queens. The entrance to the check-in area will be at the intersection of Hoyt Avenue North and 19th Street.

WHO: Transportation Alternatives and 1,200 of New Yorkers

More information is available at

Is MacDonald Park Being Put to the Best Use?

As the only real public park area in central Forest Hills, I wonder, is MacDonald Park being put to the best use? I'm wondering what you all feel about this park (if you even know that it exists, that is)? Visit it and its users seems to be overwhelmingly comprised of senior citizens. Where are all the new, younger residents in the neighborhood? How come they make little use of this park?

Given that it is the only public park area that most of us have easy walking-distance access to, I really wonder if we can do something better with at least some of the space to make it more attractive and exciting for the younger residents coming into the neighborhood?

What about a Community Garden, for example? We don't seem to have one like the other boroughs do. Or how about redesigning the space to make it just more engaging and attractive, with walkways through more exotic flowers and plants, instead of just the open concrete spaces we now have there?

The point is, MacDonald Park seems to be serving the needs of only a thin slice of the population of Forest Hills. Maybe it's about time its uses were reconsidered and it was opened up to some fresh ideas? It would be nice to have a more entertaining public park space for everyone to use within easy walking distance, especially with the weather being so mild for the most part this summer.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Local Food Update

A couple of recent food experiences to share...

Agora Taverna

Is it just me, or has Agora Taverna on Austin St. gotten a lot better with time? The last couple of times I've been there (experiences stretched over several months) I've enjoyed what I've had both times. The latest: their grilled whole trout with lemon potatoes. I also had the hummus as an appetizer. Both were really good. And sitting outside the other evening for dinner in their extremely comfortable chairs made it that much more enjoyable. I have not been disappointed by this place recently, while my early experiences when it opened a couple of years ago were very hit or miss. I'm interested in hearing what other people think.

Agora's whole grilled trout (edited for those sensitive to the site of entire fishies).


What to make of Munch, the little eatery in the Austin St. "mall" ? I stopped in there the other day for a late snack/meal and left with one of their tuna fish hero sandwiches. It wasn't bad. But also kind of reminded me of the tuna fish I'd make myself at home, which isn't saying too much, though I am not the worst cook in the universe. It's an interesting place and I can't speak for all the food there—yet, since I've only had this one sandwich. But it was fine and a nice option to have for simpler, fast-food fare that isn't Chinese or Mexican in the 'hood. They have a variety of salads, burgers and other sandwiches. I posted their entire menu a while back.

Munch's tuna fish hero sandwich

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Shiny New Parking Garage

The Aston's new parking garage—open to the public—and I figured I'd also throw in some pics of the building's entranceway while I'm at it. Why not.