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Yesterday students from PS 166 and PS 70, city council majority leader, Jimmy Van Bramer and other local politicians participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Broadway library branch in Astoria. With $740,000 in city funding secured by Van Bramer, the library has renovated its Children’s Learning Center, restoring its reading corner and adding new furniture and shelves. It also has a new “mommy and me” corner and new computers as well as other upgrades.

Van Bramer says that he learned to read in the children’s room at the library. In a release, he said, “It is this very space where I learned to dream and dream big and countless kids do the same here every day.”

Work on the library is continuing with renovations of its lower level and meeting rooms as well as the construction of a new Cyber Center.

Photo: Bill Alatriste

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Do you live in Queens? Are you looking to start a business? Would a $10,000 grant and some free instruction help? Do you already have a business that you want to build? Or are you one city license away from going big time with your construction skills? The Queens Economic Development Corporation has just announced its fall programs, which aim to help small business owners, budding entrepreneurs, and home improvement contractors.

Much more information and many more photos appear after the jump.

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Queens is always teeming with fun, enriching, and inspiring activities, and this weekend is no exception. In fact, this Saturday’s lineup is so diverse and enthralling that it has inspired the Queens Tourism Council to offer prizes. It’s simple, anybody who takes a selfie at the four events described in this post and shares them on the QTC Facebook page receives an It’s In Queens tee-shirt (or another prize if supplies run out).

The first item is a public art project by Roshani Thakore and Fumi Nakamura entitled “Move with Us.” These artists (above) invite Queens immigrant residents to demonstrate physical stances in public spaces for an animated video illustrating collective cultural gestures. The goal is to collect 167 poses to represent 167 cultures, and each participant will receive a custom-designed luggage tag as a memento. Details: 12:30 pm to 3 pm, Queens Library Sunnyside Branch, 43-06 Greenpoint Avenue.

More details and images after the jump.

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April showers bring…hungry party attendees. Exactly 50 vendors served entrées, appetizers, beverages and desserts to more than 700 attendees in a festive atmosphere during Queens Taste 2014 on April 29. With Fairway Market as the lead sponsor, the Queens Economic Development Corporation hosted this twelfth annual event at the Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel in Flushing. Please scroll down for more information and mouth-watering photos.

Jamaica-based O Lavrador Restaurant served a pleasantly palatable paella.

Kim Chi Smoke Barbecue offered…well…smoked kim chi.

La Fusta, an Argentinian restaurant in Elmhurst, fired up the kebabs.

Desserts galore! Thanks to Take a Break & I’ll Bake.

Queens Brewery tapped a hometown keg.

There was also a competition as judged by a team of local foodies and media types. Zenon Taverna, which serves Greek and Cypriot cuisine in Astoria, took Best Entrée honors with a Mediterranean octopus dish, lamb meatballs and taramosalata. Sunnyside’s Murphy’s Lobster Grill, which gave out oysters and clams on a half shell, won Best Appetizer, while DF Mavens, which makes a wide variety of dairy-free ice cream flavors, prevailed as Best Dessert. In the photo are (from left) Elena Papageorgiou from Zenon Taverna, Francis Zalewski from DF Mavens and Michael Murphy from Murphy’s Lobster Grill.

QEDC also announced the winners of the Eighth Annual Queens StartUP! Business Plan Competition, a five-month challenge-and-instruction course sponsored by Citi and hosted by Queens Library. The winners received $10,000 each to jumpstart their businesses. The Food-Based Category honors actually went to a beverage maker, Astoria Distilling Company, which is about to launch a craft spirits distillery with Queens Courage, an “Old Tom” gin with a subtle sweetness derived from botanicals, malts and honey. Gamal Byfield and his martial arts studio, The Branch of Life, took first place in the Community Category. Jaime Montalvo prevailed in the Innovative Category. Montalvo is also known as Soraya Sobriedad, a trim and sassy drag queen who offers tasty recipes for healthy Latin dishes on a her internet cooking show. Seen in photo are (from left) QEDC Executive Director Seth Bornstein; Christopher Murillo from Astoria Distilling; Sobriedad; Byfield; Bridget Quinn-Carey from Queens Library; Ed Odom from Citi Foundation; Ricardi Calixte from QEDC; Sante Antonelli from QEDC; and Michael Gillen from QEDC.

Photos: Dominick Totino

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On August 11th, 1973, Kool DJ Herc and his sister Cindy organized a back-to-school party in the recreation room of a residential building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. The shindig is credited with launching the Hip Hop movement, although Queens played a huge role in the genre’s rise, thanks to Queensbridge native DJ Marley Marl, a veritable captain of the industry, and such mainstream talent as Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Salt-N-Pepa. On May 1st, Herc (above) and Marley Marl (after the jump) will spin records, talk shop, and bust rhymes at Queens Library’s central branch to kick off 31 Days of Non-Stop Hip Hop. During the entire month, the library will host free Hip Hop events at various branches throughout the borough. Here’s the schedule:

  • History of Hip Hop with Kool DJ Herc and DJ Marley Marl, Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica. Teens only. Free ticket is required. May 1st, 4 pm.
  • Who’s the Best MC: the Voice of Harlem and DJ Ted Smooth, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 2nd, 4 pm.
  • Family Day Jam: Zulu Nation, Langston Hughes Branch, 100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona. May 3rd, 2 pm.
  • This week in Hip Hop (a web-only event), #HipHopElements. May 4th.
  • Who’s the Best MC: Actor and Personality Marc John Jeffries & DJ G-Money, Langston Hughes Branch, 100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona. May 5th, 4 pm.
  • Queens Memory Hip Hop in Your ‘Hood. Share memories, memorabilia and photos. St. Albans Branch, 191-05 Linden Boulevard. May 6th, 5 pm.
  • Teen Fashion Entrepreneurs: Keith Perrin (founder of FUBU), Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 6th, 4 pm.
  • Teen Fashion Entrepreneurs: Keith Perrin (founder of FUBU), Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 7th, 4 pm.
  • Create your own music experience, Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica. May 8th, 4 pm.
  • Battle of the DJs: Media celeb Steph Lova & DJ G-Money, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 9th, 4 pm.
  • Hip Hop Book/Movie List – A Facebook event, #HipHopElements. May 10th.
  • Hip Hop College of Music & Arts: Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 12th, 4 pm.
  • Hip Hop College of Music & Arts: Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 13th, 4 pm.
  • Queens Memory Hip Hop in Your ‘Hood. Share memories, memorabilia and photos. St. Albans Branch, 191-05 Linden Boulevard. May 13th, 5 pm.
  • Hip Hop Book Review, Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica. May 14th, 4 pm.
  • Poetry Live: Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica. May 15th, 4 pm.
  • Break Dance Workshop: Langston Hughes Branch, 100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona. May 16th, 4 pm.
  • Dance Competition: DUOLIVE (MC Fre and DJ Sid V), Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 16th, 4 pm.
  • Family Day Jam: Zulu Nation, Arverne Branch, 312 Beach 54th Street. May 17th, 2 pm.
  • This week in Hip Hop (a web-only event), #HipHopElements. May 18th.
  • Break Dance Expo: Langston Hughes Branch, 100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona. May 19th, 4 pm.
  • Create your own record label, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 20th, 4 pm.
  • Queens Memory Hip Hop in Your ‘Hood. Share memories, memorabilia and photos. St. Albans Branch, 191-05 Linden Boulevard. May 20th, 5 pm.
  • Create your own record label, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue,  Far Rockaway. May 21st, 4 pm.
  • Create your own record label, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue,  Far Rockaway. May 22nd, 4 pm.
  • Create your own record label, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 23rd, 4 pm.
  • Hip Hop Book/Movie List on Facebook, #HipHopElements. May 24th.
  • This week in Hip Hop (a web-only event), #HipHopElements. May 25th.
  • Hip Hop Elements Picture of The Day, #HipHopElements. May 26th.
  • Intro to Graffiti Art, Langston Hughes Branch, 100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona. May 27th, 4 pm.
  • Graffiti Art Workshop: Langston Hughes Branch, 100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona. May 28 4 pm.
  • Rock the Mic: DUOLIVE, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 28th, 4 pm.
  • Poetry & Art Showcase, Central Branch, 89-11 Merrick Boulevard, Jamaica. May 29th, 4 pm.
  • Intro to the Entertainment Industry: “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels, Queens Library for Teens, 2002 Cornaga Avenue, Far Rockaway. May 30th, 4 pm.
  • A Visual History of Hip Hop: “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels, Langston Hughes Branch, 100-01 Northern Boulevard, Corona. May 31st, 2 pm.

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A Martini, a Margarita, a Mint Julep (above) and even some Absinthe will be up for public consumption at the Queens Library at Flushing this Saturday — and even the teetotalers are going to want a second round! Ballets with a Twist will present Cocktail Hour, a dance extravaganza created in honor of the country’s mixed drink culture. With ballet-vaudeville choreography and ultra-chic costumes, Cocktail Hour intoxicates audiences with a sassy suite of dances inspired by mixed drinks, including the Shirley Temple and the White Russian. As these two, one-hour performances are part of a summertime art partnership between Queens Library and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the performers will participate in Q&A sessions after the shows.

Details: Ballets with a Twist: Cocktail Hour, Queens Library at Flushing, 41-17 Main St., performances at 2 pm and 4 pm, free.

Photo: Ballets with a Twist

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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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Image Source: Arcadia Publishing: Jamaica Bay

It’s a chance to make history, star in a movie and live on in perpetuity. Dan Hendrick, who is currently working on the documentary Jamaica Bay Lives, and the Queens Memory Project are looking for people to share their stories, photos, mementos and thoughts on the neighborhoods stretching from Howard Beach through the Rockaways to Breezy Point. On April 24, Hendrick and QMP partners Queens College and Queens Library will be interviewing past and current area residents during Jamaica Bay Community History Night at the Broad Channel Branch Library. Hendrick noted that this is the chance to preserve local history before it becomes a fuzzy memory. He added that Hurricane Sandy has added a whole new chapter to this project.

Jamaica Bay Community History Night
Broad Channel Branch Library
16-26 Crossbay Boulevard, Broad Channel
Wednesday, April 24
4pm – 7pm | Free

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ARGO Film Screening
Tue., Apr. 9 3 p.m.

More mature audiences are invited to watch the 2012 film ‘Argo‘,  winner of three Academy Awards and directed by Ben Affleck. This historical drama thriller is based on true events and revolves around the fear and anticipation of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

Middle Village Queens Library, 7231 Metropolitan Ave., Middle Village (GMAP).

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The Woodside library

Anyone who has been reading QueensNYC with even half an eye has surely noticed how much expansion and renovation has been going on with the Queens Library. Scheduled for the coming year alone, new projects include the 18,000 square foot location in Glen Oaks, replacing a two-story brick building from the 1950s; much-needed renovation of the Woodhaven branch; and the addition of a new location that will serve the growing residential areas of Long Island City, the avant garde library for Hunter’s Point.