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Jamaica

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Let’s face it, we may live in a time of great riches, but it’s not all that fabulous and posh anymore. Certainly not like the glamorous days of Hollywood and New York, when the swanky people got into their big cars and their fancy shiny silk gowns and tuxedos and partied the night away in nightclubs that often had exotic Latin names like the Copacabana, the Mocambo, and La Casina. “La Casina?” Ok, maybe not as swanky as other places, but in its day, it was quite the place.

La Casina was in Jamaica, Queens, and like many nightspots of the day and on into today, was built as something else, and then transformed into a nightclub. The original 1904 building on this site was purchased in 1918 by Arnold Behrer Jr. and Clarence Behrer. They altered the building, turning it into a supper club on the site, and in 1932 leased it to Bernard Levy and La Casino, Inc. for four years. The lease specified that the building had to be used as a restaurant, cabaret, beer garden, casino or dance hall. They paid $1,800 a year for the space, and in four years, the rent would go up to $3000 a year. Any alterations to the space had to be approved by the landlord.

The La Casino Supper Club opened in 1933.

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Tattoos date back an estimated 3,000 years, however there has never been an ink convention like the three-day festival scheduled to begin this Friday. The United Ink No Limits Tattoo Show will bring the diverse aspects of ink culture — including exhibits by the world’s greatest artists, live piercing, and even a unique beauty pageant — under one roof at Resorts World Casino New York City. There will also be magicians, suspension shows, games, contests, and seminars. Confirmed artists include Gypsy Rose Ink, Remember Orellana, and Cubo.

Details: No Limits Tattoo Festival, Resorts World Casino New York City, 110-00 Rockaway Boulevard, South Jamaica, March 20th, 2 pm to 11 pm, March 21st, noon to 11 pm, March 22nd, noon to 7 pm, $25.

Photo: New York Tattoo Show

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It’s the most diverse county in the world and the best tourism destination in the United States, so it’s no surprise that Queens is overflowing with wonderful Valentine’s Day activities and bargains. In fact, local chances for romance and fun related to this international holiday are so numerous that they run for more than two weeks and include everything from live music to a “love run,” hotel getaways, and even a blood drive for the do-gooders. Another photo and many more details are on the jump page.

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He’s a playwright, director, performer, producer, and huge Mets fan. Plus, his afternoon “drive-time” radio show on WAXQ-104.3 is number one in New York City. On the same FM station, Ken Dashow also hosts a Sunday morning program, Breakfast with the Beatles, during which he plays requests and recalls stories about the Four Lads from Liverpool. (He has actually interviewed Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and Lennon’s ex-girlfriend, May Pang.) Dashow brings his boundless energy, charming personality, life experiences, and general zaniness to Queens Central Library for a special presentation this Saturday.

Details: Saturday Afternoon with a Rock Radio Legend, Queens Central Library, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica, January 10th, 2 pm, free.

Photo: Ken Dashow

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It’s time to tree-cycle and e-cycle. To promote eco-friendly practices — and help New Yorkers avoid a new state law imposing $100 fines on residents who leave electronics on the curb for pickup — the Queens Botanical Garden will  host the 12th annual E-Waste Recycling Event on Sunday. Done in partnership with the Lower East Side Ecology Center and sponsored by TekServe, this six-hour event allows participants to drop off unwanted or non-functional computers, printers, cell phones, video games, tablets, and other gadgets in the parking entrance. (Click here for a full list of acceptable items.) Garden employees will make sure that they are disposed of in the proper ecological way. On the same day and in the same spirit, the garden will host arts-and-crafts activities using recycled and repurposed items.

Meanwhile in response to recent holidays, the NYC Parks Department will host MulchFest 2015 all weekend at various spots throughout the five boroughs, including 13 Queens green spaces. Residents can bring trees to these spots to be recycled into mulch that will nourish plantings across the city. In some places, NYC Parks employees will chip the wood and give bags of mulch back to the tree donors. Details for all three events are on the jump page.

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The Queens hills are alive with the sound of music…high quality and diverse music. This weekend there’s something for just about every ear as bands are ready to play jazz, symphony, folk, classical, Irish, and bee bop. There’s even an autism-friendly trombone concert. Details on seven performances are after the jump.

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Visitors unfamiliar with southeast Queens will find a sweeping, green oasis in Baisley Pond Park, which sits on an irregular plot between Foch, Sutphin, Rockaway and Baisley Boulevards. The park’s 110 acres offer baseball, softball and cricket fields in its southern extension between Rockaway Boulevard and the Belt Parkway, children’s playgrounds, catch and release fishing in its large peaceful pond, and plenty of benches to laze on. This time of year the fall colors are beginning to blaze and the new promenade at the pond rim, with a dozen carven frogs, looks out over the mirrory pond and its collection of shorebirds.

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Sometimes Queens is so diverse it’s scary. Upcoming Halloween events include everything from senior events to youth events; cemetery fun to casino fun; and food-making to mask-making. And let’s not even begin to discuss all the great neighborhoods for trick-or-treating. To aid decision-making, the Queens Tourism Council suggests the following activities because they combine enjoyment with safety, enrichment, and even some sweet treats. They appear on the jump page.

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It’s huge. With about 18,000 acres of wetland estuary, it’s larger than Central Park, Prospect Park and Van Cortland Park combined. It’s beautiful. Numerous islands and a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands and freshwater ponds host more than 330 species of birds, 60 species of butterflies, and one of the largest horseshoe crab populations in the Northeast. It’s historic. Over the past two centuries, the area has been used for fish-oil and horse-rendering factories, landfills, sewage treatment plants, harvesting oysters, and of course, various forms of recreation.

And now Jamaica Bay is on display at Resorts World Casino New York City. More information and photos informing on Hidden in Plain Sight: The Wonders of Jamaica Bay, a multi-media exhibition that was unveiled this morning, appear on the jump page.

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In the late 19th and early 20th century, a trolley line connected Flushing and Jamaica, running originally through the farms and fields of Fresh Meadows. The above image was captured at 164th Street and 77th Avenue in 1936, just a few months before service ended in 1937. In short order, the tracks were pulled up, the weeds paved over, a center median added, and 164th Street became the fast and furious stretch we know it as today between Flushing Cemetery and the Grand Central Parkway. More images of this ilk can be found in the book I wrote in association with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, Forgotten Queens.