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There’s no place like hip-hop home. The rappers Havoc and Prodigy, who work together as the infamous Mobb Deep (above), will return to their native Queensbridge housing projects to give a free concert on July 17th as part of the NYC Parks SummerStage Presents series. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, featuring 15 of the world’s finest soloists and ensemble players and led by Wynton Marsalis, is also scheduled to perform this month, as are Ismael Miranda, aka “El niño bonito de la Salsa,” and laid-back Washington, D.C.-based R&B vocalist J. Holiday. But the extravaganza offers more than music, as the Harambee Dance Company (below) will perform and  Puppetmobile and Teatro SEA will appear as part of SummerStage Kids.

Concert details: Ismael Miranda/Rebel Tumbao/Joe Claussell (Sacred Rhythm Music), July 15th, 7 pm; J. Holiday/Jon B with WBLS, July 16th, 7 pm; Mobb Deep with Lyricist Lounge, July 17th, 7 pm; Harambee Dance Company, July 18th, 7 pm; Queens Family Day: Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra/Rashida Bumbray/ Michael Mossman & Copland Jazz with Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College, July 20th, 4 pm; Ifetayo Youth Ensemble, July 31st, 10:30 am; Puppetmobile, August 7th, 10:30 am; and Teatro SEA, August 14th, 10:30 am.

Location and price details: Queensbridge Park, vicinity of Vernon Boulevard, 41st Avenue and the East River, Long Island City, all concerts are free. 

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Astoria Park is your last stop in Queens, at which point you’ll be getting wet. The waters which lie off the shore are a section of the formerly industrial East River called Hell Gate. The park offers no water access, of course, but there is a nice walkway along Shore Road which allows one to stroll and observe.

It’s a lovely spot, and quite popular with those lucky enough to live nearby. One is always struck by the polychrome nature of the rocky shoreline, which is deposited to and subtracted from on a daily basis by the tides. On a sunny day, the amount of color one experiences here can literally dazzle.

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As it has for the past five years, Queens will be left in the dark during NYC’s 2013 Fourth of July celebration. The Macy’s fireworks will again shoot over the Hudson River, making the best viewing spots in Manhattan and even New Jersey. So the best chance to see an illuminated Queens sky is at Citi Field tonight (July 3rd) after the Mets game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, which starts at 7:10 pm. However, the borough offers so many other fun activities over Independence Weekend that nobody will miss the pyrotechnics. On July 4th, the Louis Armstrong House Museum launches its summer concert series with Bria Skonberg, a fast-rising trumpet star, and her jazz band at 2 pm. An hour later, the Z Hotel’s rooftop party gets started with a live deejay on this 300-capacity roof, which offers breath-taking views of Midtown Manhattan, the East River, the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge and Queens. On July 6th, Ridgewood Social will organize a huge, family-friendly potluck picnic at Grover Cleveland Park from noon to 3:30 pm. Participants bring food, drinks, creative supplies and silverware, and they enjoy painting, drawing, knitting, crochet and the opportunity for youngsters to slay a dragon. Also on July 6th, MoMA PS1 will hold its second nine-hour Warm Up Series jam with the doors opening at noon. On July 7th, The Inner Roots Band will bring its unique style of reggae to the Queens Central Library at 3 pm. Formerly known as “Ryddim Kings,” this group takes audiences on a journey through Jamaican music with ska, dance hall and vintage classics by Bob Marley.

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Live music has scaled to new heights in Queens. On Thursdays, Walter Finley performs his acoustic artistry on the boutique Z Hotel‘s rooftop. The guitar player, known for his soulful voice and sultry rhythm, shines alone, but he plans to invite different musicians to improvise with him every week. “Z Roof,” as it is affectionately known, offers eye-popping views of Midtown Manhattan, the East River, the Ed Koch Queensborough Bridge and Long Island City with a 300-person capacity. In case of rain, the show will go on, but indoors in the downstairs Z Lounge. Lisa Gneo, Z’s director of sales, informs that she will organize these concerts for as long as there is interest, adding that she’s ready to move to Z Lounge during the cold-weather months. Details: Z Hotel Concert Series, 11-01 43rd Avenue, LIC, Thursdays with no scheduled end date, 7 pm – 11 pm, $10 cover charge includes one Z cocktail. Bonus: Live, hand-rolled cigar bar.

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Over the weekend we finally stopped by Socrates Sculpture Park and witnessed the giant floating Buddha, entitled Floating Echo. It is a giant inflatable, transparent Buddha sitting on a lotus, calmly floating in the East River “like an invisible being” just off the edge of Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria/LIC. It is part of the Sculpture Park’s Emerging Artist Fellowship program AKA EAF12 (here’s how to apply for EAF13).

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Yesterday we came across this op-ed from the Queens Tribune that is in favor of putting tolls on the currently free East River bridges – the Queensborough, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and Manhattan bridges. In the author’s words, “Instituting a toll on the various bridges within the City that are now toll-free could begin to fill the coffers for an infrastructure fund.”

What do you think? Do you favor tolls in these currently bridges to pay for improvements in infrastructure – specifically the subway? Let us know in the comments or via twitter at @queensnycity.