There’s strength in numbers, but there’s fun in words. A lot of fun.

This weekend, authors, booksellers, essayists, poets, and other verse enthusiasts will head to LIC Bar for the Queens NYC Lit Fest, a two-day celebration of the borough and its booming writing scene. Organized by Michael Geffner from The Inspired Word, this first annual extravaganza will feature scheduled readings by residents from around the borough, including Maria Lisella, the newly appointed Queens poet laureate, and Audrey Dimola, hostess of the reading-and-live-writing series Nature of the Muse. Plus, both days will begin with open mic time at 11 am. (First come, first served. Five-minute slots.) More information and another photo on jump page.


Wordsmiths, sharpen your pencils! On January 30th, Queens writers will gather by the fireplace at the LIC Bar carriage house to read their works and then compete in a unique, interactive exercise that combines spontaneity with literature. Dubbed “Nature of the Muse” and organized by Western Queens poet extraordinaire Audrey Dimola, the contestants — John “Chance” Acevedo, Jeff LaGreca, Malini Singh McDonald, Devin Doyle and M. Leona Godin — will write live responses to random prompts from the audience. It’s an exploration of inspiration; the juxtaposition between the work writers produce on their own time and what they do in almost no time. Musical, multi-disciplinary creative types Tyler Rivenbark and Thomas Graff will perform at other moments.

Details: Nature of the Muse, LIC Bar, 45-58 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, January 30th, 7:30 pm, no cover, but attendees are encouraged to buy at least one drink.


Image source: LIC Bar – click to enlarge

Remember we told you that the QNYC article British rock band The Who gifts LIC Bar with new sound system was our top read post for January 2013? Indeed, it is a very, very cool story – and we have a follow up from LIC Bar’s booking agent Gustavo Rodriguez (who was recently featured in It’s Queens magazine), as their their way of saying thank you and giving back to The Who.


Here’s a roundup of our top posts in January 2013. Friends, you like reading about new real estate development in western Queens, great movies (Rise of the Guardians) at the Museum of the Moving Image, dumplings (a perpetual fave), and that awesome story about rock gods The Who donating new equipment to LIC Bar.

5. Hunters Point South building at 1-50 50th Ave moves forward with approved zoning

On December 18, the zoning for the Hunters Point South building that will be at 1-50 50th Avenue has been approved, according to the Department of Buildings. The plan exam is still listed as “disapproved.” The original plan submitted in mid-April was disapproved, then resubmitted in early October – that, too was disapproved.


Image source: Jeneen Terrana

Check out this video of local musician Jeneen Terrana, who appeared on the Food Network’s “Home Made in America,” a show that features great home cooks from around the country. At the :43 mark is when the good stuff starts, with scenes from Astoria and LIC – LIC Bar, too, where Jeneen often performs (and has served many slices of cheesecake). In fact, she sold it to fund her last album recording!


MLB and MLS together in Citi Field? Probably not.

So the NY Mets have shown an interest in having Major League Soccer take up residence at Citi Field. Open space advocates love the idea. So does City Councilman Peter Vallone (yes, he’s in Astoria, but he has eyes on the Queens Borough President position), who says it is a win-win for both soccer fans and those who would like to keep Flushing Meadows Corona Park open and free of another big building. MLS is totally not interested, though. MLS sees a new soccer stadium as win-win-win – “win for soccer fans, a win for the Queens community and a win for economic development.” We find the whole thing fascinating.

Shuttered Astoria OTB to be a sports bar and a lounge

We wrote about the OTB on 31st Street in Astoria twice now – originally we thought it was going to be a lounge, then the Department of Buildings records indicated it would be sports bar, and now we learn that it will be both! We are also amazed at the number of TVs that will be in this space – 43, and some will be in the restrooms. DNAinfo reports the following:

The space, which is still being renovated, will feature a 30-foot bar up front, with 17 beers on tap and “as many bottles [of liquor] as we can fit,” [owner Harry] Panagiotopoulos said. The bar area will have 19 55-inch TVs along both walls, as well as high communal tables.

The back section of the first floor will be a dining room with a fireplace, separated from the front bar by a footbridge that spans an open space with views of the VIP lounge downstairs. The bridge will be flanked on both side by two real trees planted on the lower level.

Panagiotopoulos said a menu is still being finalized and that it will feature “high-end bar items with a Mediterranean twist,” an homage to his Greek roots.

The Sweet Spot’s lower level will be a lounge with a second fireplace, couches, a DJ booth and its own set of TVs. In all, Panagiotopoulos said he’ll be able to show 12 different sporting events at the same time once his system is set up. All of his gadgets will be controlled by an iPad.

Apparently it will be “something different than anything in New York City, period” – so says the owner. We look forward to spending some time there when it’s open.

LIC Bar benefits from serious British rockers

This is an amazing story – the legendary British rock band The Who gave LIC Bar new sound system equipment. The equipment may have already arrived, and if it hasn’t it should be here soon. LIC Bar lost all their equipment when their basement flooded during… yep, you guessed it – Hurricane Sandy. They bar was connected to The Who by a friend of a friend – he contacted The Who (they were playing in Brooklyn in November) and told them of the sad situation at LIC Bar, so the band decided to send the bar replacement equipment – including mics and amplifiers – according to Gustavo Rodriguez, the talent booker at the bar.” Nice. Congrats, LIC Bar!

QueensWay or revitalized rail line? One person voices support for rail.

The blog 2nd Avenue Sagas published a post expressing support for turning the abandoned LIRR line not into the QueensWay elevated park but back into an actual working rail line. It’s an opinion that hasn’t gotten as much play in the media as the support for the QueensWay has, especially since the QueensWay project has gotten funding from the Trust for Public Land to study its potential. So check out this opposing viewpoint – we hope it helps you in making your own opinion about what to do with this elevated rail line.

Queens cemeteries, census tracts, and a visitor

This week we read the story of demographer Moses Gates and his project to visit all 2,167 census tracts in NYC. A census tract is “a geographic creation of the United States Census Bureau, designed to break the country up into bite-sized chunks of about 4,000 people each.” He has finished the project, which took about 10 years. While in Queens, he discovered there were some census tracts that were made up – entirely or almost entirely – of cemeteries. Queens is the home of the “Cemetery Belt,” which stretches from Sunnyside to Glendale. And while at one point he says that all the headstones seem to blur together visually, he did enjoy his walks through these quiet places quite a bit. See the article to read more of his thoughts on the project.