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Arts and Culture

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A Festivistmas Kwanzaannukah holiday tradition, the MTA runs vintage Subway cars on the M line on Sundays in the month of December. The rolling stock is maintained by the MTA’s Transit Museum, and I make it a point of attending the event every year. This Q’stoner post from last year goes into some detail on what to expect onboard these relics of NYC’s golden age, but I wasn’t too happy with the quality of the photos from 2013, and have been practicing my subway shooting skills in the intervening interval.

Yesterday, I put myself to the test, and rode the Shoppers Special with my camera. Lots of shots from what I saw onboard follow, after the jump.

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An “intervention,” as the term is used in modernity, is when the family and friends of an addict or alcoholic gather to let the offending party know how their bad behavior is affecting the larger group. The idea is that the addict will be shamed into seeking some sort of professional treatment for their various issues. Clearly, things cannot continue as they are and the addict must mend their ways and conform to societal norms. There’s even a TV show called “Intervention” which presents the dramatic and emotional confrontations which ensue during these gatherings.

As everybody knows, those of us who live in Queens are dross consumerists. All of our time is spent at big box stores, fast food establishments, or just mindlessly sitting in traffic while going nowhere important. Work, breed, and die, that’s us. Brooklyn, on the other hand, has artisinal pickles, salty chocolate, and bacon ice cream. Queens needs to be more like Brooklyn, say the Brooklyn people. Well… that’s what everyone in Brooklyn and Manhattan thinks should happen around here.

Hence, the Queens Art Intervention was created, to expand our limited minds and offer a dab of color and smattering of high culture to our otherwise drab existence.

More after the jump…

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Last year, in the run up to Halloween, I told you about the “White Lady of Astoria,” a spectral presence which has been remarked upon by more than one resident in my corner of the neighborhood. Also described in 2013 was the historical story of the  “Blissville Banshee” nearby Newtown Creek.

Queens is full of esoteric lore and magic. At my personal blog, Newtown Pentacle, a series of bizarre finds have been discussed — whether it be my long observance of ceremonial activity at St. Michael’s Cemetery, or the occasional sidewalk encounters one has with magic altars and offerings. I’ve even photographed “orbs” at Calvary’s Almirall chapel!

Queens can be quite spooky, it would seem.

More after the jump…

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Sunday, I decided to go check out the Astoria Shore Fest. The annual event closes Shore Road, allowing Astorians the chance to mill about on the normally busy thoroughfare which sits between Astoria Park and the Hells Gate section of the East River. The event is conducted by the Astoria Park Alliance, and this year it was blessed by fantastic weather.

Check out lots of photos after the jump…

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The folks over at Groundswell contacted me last week, advising that the start of their 2014 schedule of mural painting was at hand. Their list of projects spanned three boroughs, with murals being created in Queens’s South Jamaica and Jackson Heights, over in Brooklyn’s Brownsville, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, and a couple of installations were even happening up in the Boogie down Bronx as well.

I opted to visit the Jackson Heights project, which was set to occur on the wall of a supermarket found at 34-20 Junction Boulevard. The actual mural project is on 34th Road, which is between 34th and 35th avenues.

From groundswellmural.org:

Groundswell brings together artists, youth, and community organizations to use art as a tool for social change for a more just and equitable world. Our projects beautify neighborhoods, engage youth in societal and personal transformation, and give expression to ideas and perspectives that are underrepresented in the public dialogue.

More after the jump…

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What happens after a 3 am call leaves two NYPD officers questioning an oath they had vowed to keep? What does an ex narc do after finding a notebook with information on huge quantities of stolen heroin? Should a recent Ivy League college graduate’s resume include an impressive past job which would reveal that he’s gay?

The answers to these questions — and many more — will be unveiled during the second annual Chain NYC Film Festival at The Chain Theatre in Long Island City. Set to run from August 4th until August 17th, the extravaganza will screen more than 100 flicks selected from hundreds of submissions from all over the world. Viewers can watch everything from short documentaries to full-length narratives to a web series.

Details after the jump.

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I say this every time that the Mister rings his bells: Mrs. Softee is lonely during the torrid nights of a New York summer, wondering for whom her man plays his song. Mister Softee is no damn good, and she’s sure of it.

Pictured above is a proper “Mister Softee” truck, found on its rounds in Astoria one night, doing exactly what he told the Mrs. that he’d be up to. The mister’s wearing his proper “trade dress” and nothing is as it shouldn’t be (except that I was walking the dog and didn’t have a penny on me, so I couldn’t buy a vanilla cone with sprinkles. Frankly, the dog was more upset than me about this, but there you go.)

Of late, however, something strange has been going on in Queens – someone has been impersonating the Mister.

More after the jump

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This month two artists opened a temporary gallery in Rockaway Beach. The gallery, Topless Rockaway, is in a former eye doctor’s office that had been abandoned since Hurricane Sandy hit. The artists, Jenni Crain and Brent Birnbaum worked with the landlord to renovate the space, pulling down old drop ceilings. They told DNAinfo that they preferred being in Rockway over gallery-heavy neighborhoods like Bushwick and Chelsea because of the community feel.

The pair hope to have four exhibits over the course of the summer. Topless Rockaway is at 90-20 Rockaway Beach Boulevard and is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8 pm and by appointment.

Artists Open Gallery Space to Help Revitalize Empty Rockaway Storefront [DNAinfo]
Temporary Gallery Moves Into Sandy-Damaged Space [NY1]

Photo: Topless Rockaway

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I’ve been missing 5Pointz something fierce lately, so after meeting some friends from the City for lunch nearby Astoria Park recently, we paid a visit to the Welling Court Mural Project. There is a LOT of street art going on here, and there has been since 2009, when the Ad Hoc Art group began the project.

Welling Court can be found here, btw.

There’s a lot of terrific stuff here. The comic guy in me loved Fumeroism’s Yellow Hulk.

As mentioned, this is a curated project which is in its fifth year of installation.

From Ad Hoc Art’s Facebook page:

The Welling Court Mural Project began in 2009 when Ad Hoc Art was invited by the community of Welling Court to slay some aesthetic blights in their neighborhood. The first project debuted in May 2010 with over 44 murals, fitting for the diverse and lively inhabitants. Each year since, spectacular crews of legendary and groundbreaking artists have come together to transform the neighborhood into a creative celebration and public art experience.

Many, many more images and lots of commentary after the jump.

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As discussed in prior postings, Kevin Walsh and I decided to take Q’stoner with us to the very edge of New York City when we visited the Rockaways. Here’s Part One and here’s Part Two. This is the third installment, and Kevin will finish up the quartet tomorrow. Now, back to the beach.

This shot is looking back at Riis Park, at the border of what must have surely been an enormous and quite recent industrial endeavor.

From Wikipedia:

The park was largely built on the site of the former Rockaway Naval Air Station, one of the first US naval air stations. Riis Park was designed by the politically powerful New York City Park Commissioner Robert Moses, who had also created Jones Beach as a state park further east on Long Island in 1929. Moses saw Riis Park as a Jones Beach for poor immigrants, and ensured that the location was accessible by public transportation and closer to Manhattan.

A vast wall of sand was found, dissimilar in color to the beach sand which the bathers and sun worshippers at Riis were gamboling about upon. This beach is now the built environment, it seems.

From ny1.com:

In the Rockaways, long stretches of sand are less weekend paradise and more construction zone. Forget your sun visor. This is hard-hat territory.

“It looks like hell,” said Kevin Boyle, a Rockaway community activist. “It’s not exactly ready for the top 10 list anywhere, but it’s coming along. I’m pretty sure by 2020, the boardwalk will be there and the beach will look good.”

It should be mentioned, by the way, that everybody seemed to be having a much better time than Kevin and myself. We were the two weird looking old guys walking around on the beach with cameras… the ones who looked uncomfortable and relatively pale. The suntans people sport out here are actually outrageous for this early in the summer.