Monday, February 27, 2006

Touring the Steinway Piano Factory

This morning I took the Steinway Piano Factory tour. It was just great! I had a terrific time. I wrote about it here. From the article:
We saw the process of creating a piano, from the raw wood (walnut, pear, spruce), to the veneer of all sorts (mahogony, rosewood, pommele), to the final tuning. The wood, like a harpsichord's, needs to be aged so that the moisture level drops to a very low percentage, something like 5%. It is stacked outside the factory in a way so that air circulates all around it. The wood is used for support beans, the rims, the soundboard and the case. The veneer is cut extremely thin and comes from all places like Africa and Canada. It's amazing what they do with the veneer to give the impression that the wood used is one continuous piece. They keep track of the tree from which it is cut and keep it all together so that it can be pieced together later on one instrument. One note about the woods used for the veneer - S&S is a pretty big stickler about having the proper paperwork in order when receiving these rare woods, and don't want to take any wood that has been harvested illegally.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Shameless Self-Promotion

Tomorrow I'll be singing in the choir in a performance of Handel's Judas Maccabaeus at the Kane Street Synagogue in Brooklyn. The concert starts at 3pm and should go for a couple of hours. The soloists are great and we'll all be accompanied by players from the Brooklyn Philharmonic. The oratorio has been described as Judas Maccabaeus is "the triumph of the few over the many, the righteous over the wanton." More about the piece:
The oratorio, with text by the Reverend Thomas Morrell drawn mainly from the First Book of Maccabees in the Apocrypha, depicts Judas Maccabeus as he unifies Israel and then prevails over the vastly superior Syrian forces seeking to hellenize the country. It was designed to celebrate the victory of the Duke of Cumberland, Prince William, over Bonnie Prince Charles at Culloden, Scotland in 1746 and the subsequent unification of an England disrupted from within by pro-Catholic Jacobite forces. The oratorio is presented with a new orchestration by Philip Wharton commissioned for the performance.


Sunday, February 26
3:00 p.m.
Kane Street Synagogue
236 Kane Street
Brooklyn, NY

With members of the Brooklyn Philharmonic and Chorus under the direction of Aaron Smith.

Jae Yeon Paik, Soprano – Israelite Woman
Kara Cornell, Mezzo-Soprano – Israelite Man
Martin Vasquez, Tenor – Judas Maccabaeus
Michael Zoosman, Bass – Simon Maccabaeus

Adults - $20
Children 13 and under - $10

For information or to reserve tickets, call the Synagogue office at
(718) 875-1550 or email to

Friday, February 24, 2006

Third Time's a Charm?

So, the weather has not been a friend to the Queens East River Greenway Bike Tour. However, we should have good weather (albeit cold) this weekend, so the Bike Tour will set off on Sunday! The details:
Join Transportation Alternatives and the Partnership for Parks/Astoria and Long Island City Waterfront Parks Catalyst Project on a weekend afternoon bike tour of the planned Queens East River Greenway. See the proposed route up close and get inspired to help make it a reality. Ride the planned greenway and neighborhood streets and visit Queensbridge, Rainey, Socrates, Astoria and Ralph Demarco Parks, which will all be connected by this new waterfront greenway.

You can get last minute updates on the ride status by calling the ride hotline at 917-902-9165. Please check the weather the morning of the ride and dress appropriately. Also, bring water as even in the cold, it's important to stay hydrated. See you then!

Sunday, February 26th, at 1 pm
Gantry Plaza State Park
474 48th Avenue, at the East River
Long Island City, New York

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Astorian Weekend Edition 24.02.06

Oh what a fun weekend Astoria has going on!

On Friday night,
The Killing Kompany brings you a comedy murder mystery dinner show, HOW FLIPPIN FUN!
Join in on the action at Riccardo's over on 24th Ave. This one is called "Murder at the Olympics!" The affair is all yours for $45 pp, give them a call for all the details and whatnot...murder and intrigue, what a way to start the weekend!

This Saturday at 3pm over at P.S.1, a friend of a friend (hahaha no really) will be participating in an afternoon of readings from his new book, Shoot the Buffalo along with other Clear Cut Press writers. Oh and theres going to be some live music too.

Other saturdays until March 8th by appointment, you can go check out Tokoha Matsuda's - Propositions of Desire: Contours of Erotic Ambiguity at Buzzer Thirty. It's a community based center for all sorts of self expression. Its right here too! Looking at some of the images sure does peak my curiousity... we'll see. Buzzer Thirty is inconspicuously housed at 38-01 23rd Ave, Room 306.

Take some time out for hunger on Sunday the 26th at the Beer Garden.
10% of your meal at the
Beer Garden will go to the Food Bank For New York, go eat some potatoe pancakes and kielbasa - i probably will.

Bored? Looking for something new? Holographic art. Ever heard of it? umm, yeah me neither. I guess its time to go check out what it is since its nearby at the Holocenter. Granted its technically LIC but aren't we like kissin cousins anyway???

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Next Astoria/LIC Waterfront Parks Meeting

I received notice in my inbox about the next Astoria/LIC Waterfront Parks Meeting, from the fabulous Emily Maxwell:
Please join us at our next Astoria/LIC Waterfront Parks community meeting, this Thursday, February 23, 6:30 pm at Greater Astoria Historical Society. At this month's meeting, the NY Academy of Sciences will give a presentation about toxic pollution in the NY/NJ Harbor that will include information on how the harbor can become contaminated, how this affects our lives, and why it is such a crucial issue. We'll learn what we can do to help stop hazardous waste contamination in the harbor and have ample time for questions and discussion. The first hour will be a regular meeting where we'll present our proposed mission statement, with NYAS joining us at 7:30. Please RSVP to Emily if you plan to attend.

Greater Astoria Historical Society
Quinn Building
35-20 Broadway, 4th Floor
Long Island City

Come out to become informed and to support your local waterfront!

Buy glass...tend bar?

So right there on the corner of 37th St. & Astoria Blvd. is an American Bartenders Association. Have you ever been? Know anyone who has? I wonder about this place.
The glass store under it has a ton of signs directing people around the corner to the correct door - that must mean there are people who go. But where are they???
I have lived around the corner for 5 years and once, maybe 2 years ago in the summer i saw some young whipper snappers standing outside waiting for something. That was it though. I walk by to and from work every day and never even see a light on or any sign of life at all. So my question to you Astorians, whats the dilly?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A Few Things

First, I hope you had a nice day off yesterday.

Second, thanks to JIA fans Harlan and duluoz cats for coming into Freeze Peach on Sunday and saying hi! I was serving as a volunteer barista from 4-8pm, which is the fundraising shift during the week. The money from their drinks and tips helped to fund our local CSA (I'll write more about that when the time is right). And it was nice to see some friends during that crazy day.

Third, in the shameless plug category, I'm playing a concert at Columbia University tomorrow at 12:15pm, with my group, Rossignol Amoureaux. We'll be playing 18th century suites and sonatas for flute and harpsichord. Should be a fun time, and come up and say hi if you decide to attend. More info can be found here.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Prezidents Day

So, today in America we recognize two unalive guys that made an impact on this country, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. It's called Presidents Day:
Washington's Birthday, popularly known as Presidents' Day, is a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the third Monday of February. Previously George Washington's birthday was observed on February 22. By popular opinion the holiday also honors at least Abraham Lincoln and often other Presidents of the United States as well. Lincoln's birthday is February 12, and although it was never a federal holiday, many state and local governments that had observed a Lincoln's Birthday holiday have since abolished it in favor of a "common" holiday.

So yes, we used to recognize them on two different days, as I remember from my childhood in the '70s. In my adult mind, it now means we have one less day off from work. But I don't have a day job anymore so I guess it matters less to me! Anyway, today is a good day to think about history, so I will point you to a thread on the astorians site about history, specifically Astoria history. There's some talk about cemeteries, which I find fascinating. Anyway, I love learning about local history and hope you find it as interesting as I do.

But above all, enjoy your day off today!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 17.02.06

a joint post by flooz and megc!

Are you all recovered from the record setting snowstorm this past weekend? Did the sudden warm temperatures surprise you by quickly melting away the snow into gross slush/garbage water on your stoop? Well, lets all be glad that the majority of this past weekend's storm is on its way out...and let's make room for this weekend's wind storm instead! No, really, it might be too cold for some of you to want to venture out, but hey, you can always explore from the warmth and comfort of your bed by couch surfing. Or buy one of these super cool looking shirts over the Internet. Oh how I love the shape of the Hell Gate Bridge.

If you're feeling a little heavy in the pocket from your kickbutt tax return, consider bidding in the local silent auction going on this weekend, in conjunction with the festivites at the LIC Boathouse. And if something more public is your style, you can become a permanent part of your neighborhood through the Adopt A Park program. Adopt A Park will let you have a park bench for somewhere between $2,500 - $7,000.

Now, storms make me hungry and maybe they do the same for you, so thankfully there are some interesting and tasty options this weekend. Remember there’s the Venison Dinner at Koliba this weekend. Or have a steak at the excellent Christos Taverna (aka Christos Hasapo Taverna), or Italian at Masso’s, a new restaurant in LIC. Later on Friday, go have some fun singing karaoke at the Albatross Bar, with Pepper Mills & Candy Samples. The festivities start at 11:30pm. Plus there’s $6 pint specials and great mixed drinks.

On Saturday, Restless Natives opens at Local Project in LIC. The opening reception is Saturday, February 18th at 7pm; the show closes March 4th. See a panoply of work by native New York artists: Alex Bevington, Luke Butler, Alan Chin, Simon Eskow, Eugene Fiore, Marni Horwitz, Anna Hostvedt, Emilie Lemakis, Meredith Parker, David Peterson, and Justin Waldstein. Seth Goodwin, the Pain Proof Man, will be performing as well.

Sunday, if you're not one who minds the cold weather, head out to Astoria Park to catch a game of Ultimate Frisbee. Yep, they play even when it’s cold. Games start around 3pm and are very informal. All are welcome. Then afterwards head over and say hi at Freeze Peach, where I, Meg, will be preparing and serving coffee and tea from 4-8pm.

More fun, here.

And have a great day off on Monday! I suggest you sleep in.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why I like Trade Fair

You can't get this at the Setauket Stop N' Shop!

I once made the mistake of calling it, when I first moved there, "Shop N' Stop." The cashier informed me that I was incorrect, and gave me this phrase to remember it correctly: "First you stop, then you shop." And I also once saw a guy named Otto working there. I don't know whether or not he was spacing the cans correctly.

Anyway, I'm pleased with the interesting things I found at the Trade Fair. I'm sure they are delicious as well (I know the Sabra will be).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Besides being the name of the club Piper runs on one of my favorite guilty TV pleasures, Charmed, it also stands for Paddle Pedal Party (gotta love that alliteration!), an event coming up this Thursday night, February 16. It's a fundraiser for the LIC Boathouse, and the Recycle-a-Bicycle program. From the press release:
The LIC Community Boathouse provides free educational and recreational outdoor activities through educational partnerships and our regular activities of kayak touring, beach cleanups, and cove paddles aboard canoes. Recycle-a-Bicycle sustains itself through bike repairs and sales (with youth employment programs), and provides educational projects, and a coming bike lending library!

Man, a bike lending library sounds good to me! And I love the availability of these free paddling excursions on the East River, sponsored by the LIC Boathouse. Truly a great couple of organizations to support. And in addition to feeling good about supporting great things in your community, you'll enjoy the following all evening:

Indian and Italian food (Scrumptious vegan options too!)
Live music by the Dutch Kills and the Pete Diamond Band
Gorgeous space, fine wine, delicious desserts
Art displays from LIC Art-o-Mat!

It sounds like tons of fun. Here is the 411:

LIC Community Boathouse and Recycle-a-Bicycle
February 16, 6-9pm
The Foundry
42-38 Ninth Street
Long Island City

Sustain free kayaking and biking in LIC!

$20 donation suggested, but all supportive neighbors and harbor friends are welcome.

Monday, February 13, 2006

I'm Telling You Now So You Can Plan

Astoria Czechoslovak restaurant Koliba is having their annual venison feast this coming weekend, February 17 - 19, Friday through Sunday. According to the website, the special venison feast menu will include wild game meats...which is what venison is. Perhaps non-deer wild meats will be served, like boar? Not sure, Anyway, it sounds like an interesting culinary adventure (if you're not vegetarian, that is). Large groups will be accommodated, it seems. So, call them at 718-626-0430 to reserve a spot for you and your friends!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

OMG Snow!

I can't believe how much snow we've gotten! At this writing I think Central Park got 23 inches, and Astoria got 15 or so. It's apparently the second biggest snowstorm in recorded history in NYC, and at one point the storm was 300 miles long. Both my audition and my rehearsal got cancelled, due to the storm's intensity and its potential danger. Bummer. But what can you do? Anyway, hope you're enjoying the weather in whatever way you do! But above all, be careful out there - it's pretty cold and windy.

The shot in this post is the view northward from my front door. Glad I don't own a car.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The New Crack?

That would be Sabra hummus. I bought some the other day at my local Trade Fair (and then another container of it today) and was blown away by how good it is. It's truly the best store-bought hummus I've ever eaten! It's very rich and creamy (just like it says!), and really balanced - not too salty or overly acidic. It tastes just plain delicious and has quite an addictive quality to it; I had a hard time putting it down. I know there are scads of fans of the Sabra hummus. It's a local product, by the way, produced in Astoria. Tonight I ate it with a brand of pita I'd never seen before, Astoria Pita:

It's made in Long Island City. Love the images of the Triborough and Queensborough bridges on the wrapping! Just wish the Hellgate Bridge had made it on there. It's fine Greek-style pita (so, no pocket) and went well with the hummus. I do have to disagree with their claim on the packaging that this pita is "Perfect for...tacos." That's just plain wrong. Keep it away from the Mexican food!

All in all, Sabra hummus and Astoria Pita make for a very tasty snack.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Astoria Weekend Edition 10.02.06

It's supposed to be snowy this weekend. Welcome back, winter! Perfect weather for hanging out at your favorite cozy spot this weekend. Or stay home and watch a movie (then again, you can go out for one). Alternatively, check out the chess exhibit at the Noguchi Museum. This Sunday they are presenting Chess and Art: An Interplay of Disciplines. The Museum is hosting a discussion on the interplay between the disciplines of art and chess. Guest curator Larry List will serve as moderator. Panelists include Francis Naumann, Wendy Grossman, and Ingrid Schaffner.

Sunday is also Abraham Lincoln's real birthday. Maybe consider reading the Emancipation Proclamation, his most well-known speech. Did anyone else ever see the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln exhibit at Disneyland?

I'm thinking the bike tour will be rescheduled again.

Podcasts are all the rage! While you are cozying up at home, perhaps watching Derek Zoolander impersonate John Wilkes Booth, you can download Astoria's one and only podcast, This Show Again. Comedian Thomas J. Kelly interviews Phil DiPippo of Latos, Latos and DiPippo (episode 35). DiPippo candidly talks about rumors about whether or not he's in the mob, his ubiquitous ads and most importantly whether or not he and his partners own two of the North-bound lanes on the Triboro Bridge.

For something completely different, pair music and food twice this weekend. On Friday from 8PM-10PM check out Dois Caipirinhas playing live bossa nova and MPB at Girassol Churrascaria Steak House. And Mezzo Mezzo on Ditmars is having live Middle Eastern music and belly dancing on Saturday night! Experience music played with interesting and unusual instruments: Elias Sarkar (Violin/Vocals), Robert Boghosian (Oud), Chris Marashlian (Bass), Nick Mandoukos (Guitar/Vocals/Bouzouki), and Amir Naoum (Durbuke).

More fun, here.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

And One for the Greenway

Greenway Maps and Publications! Behold the draft master plan!

Three for LIC

LIC, you're in the Times today: A Long Island City Awakening. And more money for the seawall has been secured! Man, it looks pretty beat up over there.

But the most exciting thing all day is my discovery of the publication, LIC in Context: An Unorthodox Guide to Long Island City. From the book's forward:
Long Island City in Context, an alternative neighborhood exploration created by Place in History, explores the development, redevelopment and perpetual reimagining of Long Island City, one of New York City's most dynamic and misconstrued neighborhoods. The project represents a collaborative effort to make sense of this physically and socially disjointed swath of Northwestern Queens, utilizing strategies culled from the fields of planning, architecture, history and art. Neither a comprehensive neighborhood guide nor a traditional exercise in urban planning or design, the book takes an ambitious, if selective, stab at evoking what is compelling and unusual about the neighborhood through the exploration of 54 sites.

What a cool book, full of great pictures and interesting sites that I want to check out. I had no idea that LIC was the former home of the Sunshine Bakery, Chiclets, and Pierce Arrow. Or that there is a big glacial rock in the middle of a parking lot. Or that it is the home of a Titanic shrine! I love the map at the front of the book, too. I'm excited to order this book. $10 + $2.50 s/h, payable via Paypal.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Bike Tour Rescheduled

According to Christine on, the Queens East River Greenway Bike Tour has been rescheduled for Sunday, February 12. I guess the crappy weather won out. But hopefully the weather next weekend will be beautiful and good cycling weather. Yay bikes!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Lions in Astoria?

Lion Above
Originally uploaded by mcotner.
Well, not real live ones. But this makes for the second stone lion I've spied in Astoria.

This ornament is above one of the apartment buildings on my block. There is a lot of decorative stone work and carving throughout the buildings in Astoria - you just have to look up to see it. Once you're aware that it exists, you'll be amazed at just how much decorative work there is throughout our little part of Queens.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Here and There in Astoria

Did you know that a number of Queens libraries are offering wireless Internet access? This includes Astoria! Some grant money came through to make this possible. I love the wireless! I bet you do, too.

Totally disgusting: a city barge accidentally dumped a bunch of sewage sludge into the East River last Saturday. They say it's not toxic like chemicals, but don't go swimming or fishing in the River. Bio waste dumped in the East River makes the baby Jesus cry.

And what's up with the SUV violence at the nightclubs on Steinway?

And even though they say it might rain tomorrow, the meteorologists are often wrong. I'm hoping they are this weekend, so that the Winter Bike Tour can happen:
Join Partnership for Parks’ Astoria and Long Island City Waterfront Parks Catalyst Project and Transportation Alternatives on a weekend afternoon bike tour of the planned Queens East River Greenway. See the planned greenway up close and get inspired to help make it a reality. Ride the greenway route and neighborhood streets and visit Queensbridge, Rainey, Socrates, Astoria and Ralph Demarco Parks, which will all be connected by this new waterfront greenway.

The ride is scheduled for Saturday, February 4, at 1PM. Meet at Gantry Plaza State Park, 48th Avenue and the East River.

In case of inclement weather, the ride will be held on Sunday, February 12, at 1PM. But call 917-902-9165 on Saturday to check to see whether things are on or off for the ride.

Happy weekend!!!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Joys of City Life

One of the things I love most about NYC vs. the suburbs is that this is a walking city. Everyone walks who is able. We wear the soles of our shoes down like drivers wear down their car's tires. In certain parts of the city, it's easy to know how far you've walked, by the number of city blocks, but in other parts (like Astoria/LIC) it's not as easy. I mean, you could get in a car and drive the route and check the odometer, but who wants to do that if they don't have to, especially if you've secured an awesome parking spot?!? Or what if you don't own a car (like me, hooray!!)? You're kinda stuck. Well, it's Google Maps to the rescue! Someone has put together a Google map to record distances one walks: Gmaps Pedometer. Just hit "start recording" in the left hand menu, then double click for each leg of the walk - be sure to drop points at each turn and direction change (even if the street changes angle), or else you end up with diagonals that don't represent the route you mean to take. On the left you can even calculate calories burned and elevation. Nice! I use this map all the time to plot out new running routes. Have fun!

Super Superbowl Weekend

So here you have it folks, the biggest weekend in footbal is here! The weather all weekend looks like its going to be gross, so what better time to do all things inside.

Have you decided where to go? Who's the designated driver? How much the drinking games are gonna put you back?
Well if you are looking for a new and interesting spot to spend your Sunday night for free, stop by the Young Republicans Super Bowl Party... sounds crazy huh? i would love to see pictures of this event if anyone goes! Um, yeah if anyone was hoping to see me there, don't be too dissapointed when i'm nowhere to be found hahaha... dang republicans!
But really, i think your local bar should have a happenin evening prepared-try Irish Rover or Sunswick for good stand-by's.

Friday night start off the party weekend at Waltz checking out the next big mezzo-soprano to make it big. Astorian Melissa Gerstein along with Jonathan Kelly- piano, Jill Waycie- piano will take the stage at 9pm and there's no cover...just a little 1 drink minimum...they have yummy coffee and sweets to help you get over the $5 strain! Its her debut recital, come out and support the arts!

Before you start your drinking Sunday, you have all of Saturday to go out and do a good deed. There's a great group here in LIC called Hour Children that a friend of mine was involved with last year. They help mothers transition back into normal life after incarceration and make sure their children are healthy, socially well adjusted and achieving academically. You can unload unwanted furniture and good stuff to their thrift store too if thats easier. It all helps!

After doing something for your soul, do something for your body! If you get the winter aches like i do, massages are a welcome relief. I'm convinced its got something to do with hunching your body to get away from the freezing wind and tensing up so you don't slip on crazy patches of ice. Whatever causes it, The Yoga Room can fix it. And you thought all they did was pilates and yoga, ha! Right there on Steinway when you get off the train too so the frigid blast is minimal...they've got Deep tissue, Sports Massage and Therapeutic Massage all for the low low "un-manhattan" prices of $70 for an hour, $40 for half and hour and add on my favorite-hot stones for just $15 more! I can feel the relaxation already.

Good luck getting to work on Monday!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

February for Cats

Marina Bipedal
Originally uploaded by mcotner.
This is my kitty Marina. Isn't she cute?!? Today I learned that February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Now is a good time to take your little cat for her/his yearly dental checkup!