Archive for August, 2010

My Letter To My State Senator, Shirley Huntley

August 31, 2010 1 comment

By Jeff Newman

The recent post about Shirley Huntley made me think of the letter I sent her on the day after the NY State Assembly made a ruling denying equal rights and protection to Gay New Yorkers:

December 3, 2009

Senator Huntley,

Your vote against equality was upsetting and disappointing. As an African-American woman, I would expect you to have better respect for what are clearly issues of Equal and Civil Rights for all human beings. I equate your vote to someone voting no on Loving Vs. Virginia.

State Senator Shirley Huntley

Your shameful vote keeps our state, which should be a beacon to the nation, as yet another example of failure to enter the 21st century. In 50 years, when students talk about the victory of the election of the first President of African Descent, it will be paired with the shame of denying full rights to all Americans.

Bottom line, I hope you can sleep at night with your vote for a modern day Jim Crow law.


Jeff Newman

I am neither gay nor a person of a color but this upset me as a human being. I felt that based simply on whom she was, Sen. Huntley should have a better view of what is fundamentally right and wrong as opposed to just appealing to the current anti-Gay marriage sentiment in our district. It is a historic chance to right an inequality inherent in our society and she threw it away. Eventually, when this issue goes before the Supreme Court, the court case I cited (Loving vs. Va) will be what this is based upon.

Three years ago, Mrs. Loving made a public statement as regards Marriage of all types:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about. (from Wikipedia)

This says it better then I ever could. I felt that a re-print of this letter might be intriguing to people, so I passed it along to “Edge of the City”.



An Open Letter to Our Officials

August 30, 2010 2 comments

Michael Perlman, chairman of the Rego-Forest Preservation Council, asked if I would post his letter about saving the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium:

Dear Congressman Weiner, Senator Stavisky, Councilmember Koslowitz, & Assemblymember Hevesi,

I am writing on behalf of Rego-Forest Preservation Council. We extend a special thank you for composing a joint letter to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on August 12, 2010, requesting a feasibility study. Gratefully, you have responded to the pleas of a vast coalition of local and national landmark individual & organizational supporters, in the face of a historic international icon, the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, and also expressed the need for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to hear and designate more landmarks in Queens. You acknowledged the sentiments of the greater public, who hopes to see the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium landmarked (by city and state) to commemorate its history and grant funding, and purchased by a more creative and deserving party who would restore and reuse it with everyone in mind, to ultimately boost jobs, business, tourism, and convey pride. From its rendering in the 1922 MIT Technology Review, it was depicted as “America’s Tennis Stadium,” and was proven to be an influential venue as an architectural first, and for its firsts in tennis and music history, but seemingly poor marketing decisions by boards of the West Side Tennis Club in recent years let it go astray.

Under Cord Meyer Development’s condo-minded proposal on August 10th at a private meeting at the WSTC, a portion of the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium’s facade would be retained, but the soul of the iconic Stadium, including the grandstands, interior stone work, and field, would be sucked out for out-of-context condos, more closely resembling a Brutalist Style structure of the Cold War, or “Disney-esque” to phrase it mildly. It would usher around 200 residents into the Forest Hills Gardens, and be another case of overdevelopment in Queens. Our schools are already burdened. It is doubtful that a modern design would be approved over the preservation of an iconic site by the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation, in the face of Restrictive Covenants. The Corporation has always prevented demolition of historic sites, and maintained the neighborhood’s historic identity and property values, since the Forest Hills Gardens’ creation 101 years ago. If not landmarked, its potential loss would designate it the “Pennsylvania Station of Queens.” Let’s speculate how future generations would look back, if the government and public had a chance to rescue and reuse this noble site for (smaller) tennis matches, (subdued) concerts, weddings, community events, school trips, exhibits, etc, but failed.

Our consensus is that building typical condos of “Anytown USA” and demolishing the majority of an icon in order to settle a debt (according to published reports), would be the most selfish, short-sighted, and unimaginative approach. There are some sites so significant to our community and nation’s heritage and backbone, and so few and far between, that any compromise would account for a major loss. One may ask, “Shall we be remembered as defeatists or civic-minded creative visionaries?”

We hope that you will continue to fulfill your role on behalf of the majority of constituents and national supporters, in order to defend one of our nation’s greatest “landmarks at heart,” and a 21st century family destination of great potential character-wise and economically, if marketed and reused creatively, with the assistance of city and state funding, and fundraising by groups such as ours. Thank you very much!


– Michael Perlman
Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chair

Rego-Forest Preservation Council, Chair (Rego Park & Forest Hills)

Four Borough Preservation Alliance Corp, Queens VP

Queens Preservation Council, Bd. of Dir.

Central Queens Historical Association, Bd. of Dir.

Friends of The Ridgewood Theatre, Chair

Friends of The RKO Keith’s Flushing Theatre, Member

Committee To Save The Forum Diner/Cheyenne Diner/Moondance Diner, Chair

Common? Anything But

August 28, 2010 2 comments

I paid a quick visit to the new tapas lounge/restaurant Common last night, in the Austin St. mall, and, while we did not stick around to have anything to eat or drink, we were quite impressed with the upscale look of the venue that they have created. We were especially surprised to discover that they have actually created a garden in the back (who knew the Austin mall even had an open air space back there? I certainly didn’t!) where you can dine and where they will soon have a full bar. The staff, all of whom were very friendly and welcoming, said they will be rolling out their full menu in the coming week. Until then, you can feast your eyes on these pictures:

Hollywood Hills, Continued

August 28, 2010 1 comment
Mildred Pierce (film)

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a good article detailing all of the movies about to open that were recently filmed in Queens, including here in Forest Hills, where a remake of of the Joan Crawford classic Mildred Pierce was shot several months ago.

By the way, I mentioned this in a post when I first started this blog, but my goodness, was this not the worst summer in memory for movies? What crap! I can’t ever recall a summer where I spent less time in the darkened, air conditioned coziness of a movie theater!

A lot of really good stuff has been written about the quality, or lack thereof, of today’s movies, but all I can say is, what a tragedy! To not have one decent summer blockbuster all season long that appeals to adults as well as kids? That’s amazing. I wonder how long they can keep that up before the studio execs that brought us this summer’s crap lose their jobs. I mean, how many more billion-dollar grossing Titanic’s or Avatars will it take to get the point across that there is an audience out there of middle aged adults who love going to the movies–as long as there is an actual story and the movie isn’t loaded with special effects just for the sake of special effects?!

Along these lines, did you hear that they are actually making a movie based on the game Battleship? You remember that game – the “You sunk my battleship!” one. Well, if you’re thinking, “I don’t remember there being much of a plot to that game,” well, you’re absolutely right. Just my point. Did they really have to spend tons of money for the movie rights to the game Battleship? I mean, they might as well make a movie called Submarine and not have to pay the money to Milton Bradley, or whoever they forked it over to.

Well, on the bright side, at least we now have high-def TV’s and can now watch some quality stuff in our own homes! Watching Rubicon and Mad Men at home doesn’t quite make up for the excitement of going to the movies, especially on a hot summer day, but it’s better than nothing.

Mexican Affairs

August 26, 2010 4 comments

By Parker

A few yards from the pigeon waste covered sidewalk of the LIRR underpass, sits 2000 square feet of empty retail space. Why does this former WaMu branch sit empty? Is it the horrible economy, the Rodeo Drive-like rents, or, like people seeking love, the right retailer hasn’t met the right location yet. But the other day permits were spotted in the window – windows covered with that nondescript brown paper that hides a mystery and seductively whispers to passersby, “yes, something’s coming.”

Permits speak their own language – one understood by architects, contractors, and inspectors. Most of us don’t know an egress from an egret, or think HVAC is an ACDC cover band – we simply want to know what’s coming soon. On this permit, between building codes, license numbers and other jargon, I saw a glimpse of the future, “…renovation of existing bank into eating and drinking est.” Now, we’ve been down this road before. For every Martha’s Country Bakery, there’s a Twin Donut. For every Jade, a restaurant to impress your Queens-phobic friends, an equally unimpressive one opens.

Since patience isn’t one of my virtues, I made some calls and discovered that Continental Avenue’s newest arrival will be hot & spicy – we’re going Mexican!

“Mexican restaurant” is a bit too vague for my comfort but my sources were tight-lipped and wouldn’t reveal the name. Taco Bell is a restaurant, but probably a disappointment to anyone who isn’t a McDonald’s loitering, I-pod listening, cell phone texting teenager. With 5 Burros and Garcias covering the sit down, table service diners at opposite ends of Austin St., I don’t see this as another local mom & pop establishment. The only logical choice is one of the larger Mexican chains – Chipotle, Qdoba, Moe’s Southwest Grill, or Baja Fresh.

First, I went to their respective websites to confirm they could operate out of 2000 square feet – all four can. Second, I went to their company news section to see if they were announcing any new Queen’s locations – no insight available here. Third, I wanted to see what presence, if any, did these restaurants have in New York City. I thought any restaurant without a Manhattan location is less likely to open their first one in Queens. All four chains are new to the City with Chipotle arriving first in the early 2000’s and Baja Fresh only opening in May 2009.

From their respective websites:

Chipotle locations: Manhattan (28), Brooklyn Heights (1)
Qdoba Mexican Grill locations: Manhattan (7), Fresh Meadow, Queens (1)
Moe’s Southwest Grill locations: Manhattan (3, but 2 are in Penn Station), Rego Park, Queens (1) – coming soon
Baja Fresh Mexican Grill locations: Manhattan (2)

I must confess that I have never eaten at any of these establishments and my opinion is only based on visits to their websites. While all four would be a welcome addition, only one would move the needle significantly on the Forest Hills’ hipness quotient meter. Can one Mexican restaurant take us from Forest Hills hip replacement to Williamsburg hip? With a corporate philosophy of community building, earth-friendliness, sustainable building design, and vegan burrito options – Chipotle is the one!

Only time will tell. Let the chips (and salsa) fall where they may, and thankfully it’s not another bank or cell phone store.

‘Cat Woman’ Robber Nabbed

August 26, 2010 1 comment

Police say they have caught the woman who robbed several stores in the City while wearing a cat mask. Shanna Spalding, a 28-year-old resident of Woodside, has not yet been charged with the robberies here in Forest Hills of the Nine West and The Body Shop, but those may be included soon.

Here are a couple of links to more information:

Queens Blvd. Construction Update

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Remember that mysterious construction going on in the center medians of Queens Blvd.? Well, the explanation has been revealed in an article in the Queens Tribune, and it is kind of scary. Think of what could have happened if Stephen Melnick, president of the Queens Boulevard Restoration Group, hadn’t called everyone’s attention to what he noticed. Here is the article: Queens Blvd. Medians in Disrepair


August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

The City Council has just given its final ok for the new 15 Penn Plaza skyscraper. I’m sorry, but this brings out the little boy in me. Another skyscraper to rival the Empire State Building. I think that is really neat, especially with all the dreary news these days. I can understand people’s concerns about it blocking the view of the Empire State Building from some parts of Jersey, but to tell you the truth, I always thought the Empire State Building looked a little lonely from New Jersey standing up there all by itself!

More to read in The Times here:

Published: August 25, 2010
A City Council vote clears the way for another 1,200-foot edifice at the doorstep of the city’s revered landmark.

Empire State Building Rival Gets Key OK

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

From The Daily News: A new skyline rival to the Empire State Building won key approvals from City Council committees Wednesday morning after the builder pledged to give construction work to minorities.

Read more: City Council committees approve proposed skyscraper at 15 Penn Plaza near Empire State Building

Defeat Her on September 14th

August 24, 2010 4 comments

I love it when people who strive to deny rights to others then turn around and claim that they are the victim. It’s a commonly used tactic of the most intolerant in our society. Turn the most powerless and persecuted of our society, the victims, into the one’s we all should fear. Such gross distortions of reality have led people to commit some of the most despicable acts in history.

This woman seems to devote an inordinate amount of her time trying to deny the right of our fellow gay and lesbian citizens to marry. And she goes even further, distorting and hijacking religion to support such bigotry. She should be defeated. Such intolerance is disgraceful, especially in a Democrat.

This blog supports the election of this woman’s opponent, Lynn Nunes, as our State Senator.

NY State Senatorial candidate Lynn Nunes.

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