Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Joey's first tomato

Joey's first tomato
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Check out my first tomato!

(It's the little thing that looks like a pea in the middle of the picture.)

Splash into The Foundry

OMG, what is that big yellow thing in the sky? The sun? Could it be?

Hello. Have you been to Astoria Beach yet? Well, maybe you're holding out for it to get swanked up a little more (although it is looking its finest in 20 years, so how high are your standards, dude?). Okay, then have you been to The Foundry? No. You haven't. 'Cause its only open for exclusive events. It's a "meticulously restored", industrial uber-hip venue in LIC. Well, you are in luck. We can get a 2fer this Thursday.

The Long Island City Community Boathouse invites you to Splash - its annual par-tay! Splash will help the Boathouse raise money to clean up our beach and waterways and create public access to both.

They'll have lots of snacky-treats, wine, music and other fun times. There's a suggested donation of $20 (it *is* a fundraiser, but a pretty cheap one at that). If you think you'll go, drop my pal Erik Baard at the Boathouse an email, just so he's got a heads up.

See you there!

- Joey

Monday, May 30, 2005

Omonia does the Street Fair

Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Yeah - I'm not in love with the street fairs. But it was good to see Omonia and Broadway Station get in on the action today on Broadway.

Memorial Day

I bet you can guess that I'm not a big fan of the war in Iraq. Hello. But we all know that a lot of the kids (and moms and dads) fighting it wanted to do something good - for us, their families and themselves. And now it sucks for them.

This Memorial Day help them and their families get through it by keeping in touch. You can donate phone cards to the troops at any US Post Office or online. You don't need to agree with the war to be compassionate towards some of those getting screwed by it.

While you're at it, call your Congressman and tell him/her Bush is stupid.

And you definitely deserve one of those fruit tarts from Martha's if you do.

- Joey

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Nasty Nicknames

I have to tell you, I'm probably not going to use the newest nickname for the Astoria - Long Island City: As-lic.

Garden Update

Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Looks like things are starting to move here in my garden. However, if you happen to be about .5" and nibbling on my red chard, could you knock it off?

Friday, May 27, 2005

About Weekend Edition - 05.05.27

Friends, pals, buddies, readers, and people who I knew in High School who are stalking me without my knowledge,

Hey there, what's up?

Here's the skinny. My Weekend Edition bit has moved to About.com. I'll probably continue to post it here as well, but some of this weekend's edition is *so* five weeks ago. I've got to catch up the About folks. They're a little slow. But soon, all us Astorians will rise up and show Brooklyn that mullets *shouldn't* be back in style. Huh? Who wrote that? I've got *lots* of cool bloggies in the queue, so stay tuned!

And thanks for reading. Both of you!

- Joey

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Czech-Slovak Festival

Show your love for the Beer Garden this weekend by taking pride in their heritage. And of course eating their food and drinking their beer. Check out the Czech-Slovak Festival Saturday and Sunday.

Homemade Toys

Dude, I'm not talking about cutting out models from the J.Crew catalog and switching their outfits with the Sears catalog - though that can be hours of fun, trust me. Na-uh Hon, make your own *tinker toys* this weekend at Socrates Sculpture Center! Genius.

May 28 Custom-Made Tinker Toys with Mitch Miller
Use recycled materials to learn the basics of cubism and make customized Tinker Toys to build figures, monsters or castles.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blues for Bill At LaGuardia

"I know. You're like "Poetry? Eeow." But how can you not like a guy who said "life is fun when you're good at something good."? Catch Astorian poet Stephen Cramer, and other former students and colleagues of Bill Matthews's reading tonight at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, right in Long Island City. They'll be toasting to Bill.

Here's some more Cramer (& Bill):

Before You
by Stephen Cramer

(For William Matthews, 1942-1997)

How like you, Bill, in the end.
Always the first to explore
whatever hip news chanced

our way-—the Sanskrit root
of chutney, that backup
bassist with all the right

runs. I bet you were always
quick to stake out
a dive, order a drink.

If you were here,
you'’d probably hint
what I'’m trying to say

is a bit too much like wine
made from pictures of grapes.
But that last season

I took before you a project
I'’d started then stalled on
& you said this:

take all your doubts,
draw a circle around them
& give them the finger.

Then you flicked your own finger
from your fist & aimed it
at an imaginary heap

of doubts. So I'’m just going
to say it. We miss you.
We miss the sheer velocity

of your presence.
Bill, you beat us out again.
I just thought for once

you'’d let someone else
get there before you.

See you there!
- Joey

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

All-Astorian Birthday Party

mike B
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
I know, I've written about Brick 450,000,003 times, but what can I say? I live in a storage container in their basement. They only let me out to write praiseful copy.

Last night, me and some buddies rocked it out for a birthday party Brick style. With 14 guests, the food was still great, and the wine still tasty + affordable.

During dessert, some interesting and affable gentlemen next door sent the birthday boy a glass of port. Then the house bought the entire party a round! (No, they do not know I do this site).

The waitress was the real pro. I'd kill to have a picture of her wearing one of our party hats!

- Joey

PS. Dude, did you see I'm on About.com? Holy Schmolies!

Joey's Famous

Joey's trying not to be overly narcissistic here, but Joey in Astoria is on About.com.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Real Astorian Catch

Elia's Fish Corner
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
I guess that when a flashy, painfully overpriced, pretentious, and overall crappy restaurant opens up in the neighb, you have to wonder, what is happening to Astoria?

Well, I'm happy to inform you that real Astorian food is still kicking, or in this case, flapping, in full force.

I'd heard rumblings about Elia's Fish Corner now and then, but nobody is *talking* about this place. Not in English anyway. But On Friday night Steve and I had a hankering for some serious seafood.

Elia's Fish Corner has a modest blue awning under the "el" on 24th Avenue. The queue was right up to the door and it was a bit chilly out, but when we came in, people scooted up for us. Wait staff were shuttling between the impressive fish case in front of us and the busy dining rooms ahead. The kitchen is right behind the case for all to bear witness to the expertly simple treatment of the fish. This room is decorated with Wally the talking Walleye and various greco-maritime paraphernalia. The others in line seemed to have little spatial awareness. The host knew everyone there and was busy shaking their hands and asking about their families. He gave us a reassuring nod all the same.

When seated, a lovely young waiter who was busy yet patient, greeted us and asked in perfect English "do you know the menu?". We didn't. He listed off for us exactly what the restaurant had to offer. It was essentially a list of seafoods and some Greek specialties.

We shared the carafe of the house's white wine, which was *very* good given the price. I have little experience with Greek wine and this white tasted almost red in body, yet had a firm white balance and a refreshing quality. It was about four glasses worth for $8. An unbelievable bargain.

The raw clams were perfect raw clams. Not much to be said there. The Greek salad was the best I've ever had. How can a Greek salad be unique you ask? The oil and vinegar were flavorful, the feta cheese, creamy, the vegetables were abundant, and not too much lettuce.

While we enjoyed our food, a couple men sat next to us, joking with each other in Greek. They ordered tons of small plates each looking more fabulous than the next. We were jealous that we'd skipped the sausage and octopus.

The whole black bass ($16) that the waiter recommended we share was as long as the table. We ate if off the bone. It was moist and fresh. The "side" of potatoes was huge - essentially homemade potato chips, but not greasy - a perfect compliment.

Our in-the-know neighbors left behind a few glistening, untouched sausages that couldn't be missed and within a few moments, Yoink! The next table snatched up the plate for themselves. They were hysterical with laughter, the dominant mood of the room.

Fortunately Elia's doesn't serve dessert, because we didn't have room for it.

Don't forget, there is no menu so we had no idea what kind of damage we had done. The bill was $48 - for wine, starters, entree and side for two.

Cheap eats. Classic Queens. Perfect for groups. Worth the wait.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Weekend Edition - 5/20

Oookay. This weekend, the weather might be nice. That means you - who I know didn't bike to work today - need to get off your bum and do some fun stuff.

Tonight, be the first on the block to check out The Sparrow. Tomorrow, get to this crazy puppet show. I have to miss it, so let me know if it's as awesome as it sounds. Tomorrow night eat dinner anywhere in the neighb that's not Baru. Elia's Fish Corner (TBB - To Be Blogged) would be choice. Sunday, go for a walk. Check out my flowers or plant some of your own. Or go for a bike ride (but *not* to work this time). And while you're at it, call your mom. Tell you love her.

Happy Weekend!

- Joey

Puppets: Not Just For Kids Anymore

Check out this swanked up puppet show. This weekend at the La Guardia Performing Arts Center.

News & Notes

No wonder Newtown Creek is so nasty... Read Article
The eleven millionth lux high rise comes to LIC... Read Article

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bike to Work Day

Tomorrow is Bike to Work Day. How's this for water-cooler conversation:

"Hi Joey"
"Hi Mr.Haffenfeffer"
"How's your day going?"
"It's awesome. I biked in today"
"Wow. I just sat on my ass like I do every day."

For instructions on navigating the Queensboro Bridge, check here.

The New Tupelo

OMG, it's finally happening. Tupelo is being reborn. As a bird. Specifically The Sparrow. How’s that for karma? See you there.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Free Phone Calls?

In case you used all your quarters on laundry...

I'd heard that the phone in front Food World on 36th Av is free, paid for by the ad in front of it. Apparently there's another free phone on Astoria Blvd & 49th Street and three more free "pay phones" going in on Steinway. Random.

See article in today's Newsday.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Screw Baru

Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
The reviewer from the Queens Gazette wasn't named in the May 12th review of Baru. I wouldn't want my name to be associated with a decent, let alone glowing, review of this place either.

A sad replacement for the reliable Rainbow Diner, who's menu was famous for "mushron omelets with a side of home
fires", Baru is in Rainbow's old storefront on 30th Avenue.

Hungry for dinner on Sunday night, with a bunch of friends, I walked past Baru and thought we might try it out. There's no menu in the window (unlike every other restaurant in New York City) but we said, "what the heck".

Baru opens up on two sides and is very airy, though smoke from outside patrons tends to waft in. The customers are largely Eurostyle hipsters. It's dark and has unusual light fixtures that would be very attractive if they were not made cheesy by the accompanying, enormous lighting panel behind the bar that changes colors every few seconds - green, purple, red - okay we get it! Most of the tables are low with leather lounge chairs. Comfy, but not for eating - you'll have back spasms after an hour of it. The bathrooms have ridiculous iridescent tiles and floating candles. The silverware was sterling and brought out on very silly silver trays.

We were seated in the most comfortable table in the neighborhood. Nice leather chairs at the perfect height for our big round table, we felt cushy...for the two minutes until we got the menu. Don’t forget, it wasn'€™t posted, so we didn’t know what was coming.

Baru may be the most expensive restaurant in Astoria. Entrees start at $19 and the wine selection is so expensive that we all had soda. I wrote my Master's thesis on wine. This is not a common choice for me.

My discomfort with the menu was softened when bread finally arrived. Two varieties of soft, warm bread with lovely dipping oil. We scarfed it down. It was the best thing we ate all evening. The stuffed clams were tasty yet unimaginative. The salmon and bouillabaisse couldn't be faulted. The chicken would be passable at half the price. The halibut was dryer than the bread. Had it been sitting under a heat lamp? It was accompanied by two lumps of a gooey concoction I assume was supposed to be tarter sauce. The fish was placed on a bed of spinach that was quite good. The side of asparagus was good, too, helped along by generous seasoning.

We would have considered getting dessert if a) we had wanted to eat anything else from this kitchen or b) it wasn't displayed on a tacky dessert cart. I always wonder how those desserts look fresh. Are they giving the display model to you and making a fresh one for the cart?

The bill came to $115 for four without wine or dessert. Our money was clearly going to pay off the decorator's taste in furnishing, not the food. The owners should be ashamed of themselves.

We went home and ate some of our friend'™s birthday tiramisu. Thank God for that. My faith in food was restored, but if you want to have a splurgey meal in Astoria, hit Brick, Sa'€™gapo or Amici Amore. Don'€™t waste your money on Baru.

Thanks (and Happy Birthday!) to MV for ideas and assistance on this posting.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Okay, so the birds ate my zinnia seeds. My tree was getting lonely and this morning my knees buckled when I saw all these pretty flowers at the greenmarket. Yay!

See the rest of the garden update.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Weekend Schedule in LIC

Here's the real schedule for this weekend's festival in LIC. Lots of stuff going on. That's more like it.

Weekend Edition - 5/13

As per usual, the weather has a 40-50% chance of sucking. It won't really be cold, though. This may be the perfect time to don those cute plastic rain boots you bought in February. Besides if you don't wear them, your boyfriend will continue to make fun of you for buying them. Walk down to Long Island City. Check out the LIC Culture Festival. Juvenal Studios, Exposure, PS. 1. The Flux Factory is kidding itself if it thinks it's in Long Island City; it's in Sunnyside, but another fine neighb, no less.

Get back to Astoria to wax poetic about all the artistic inspiration at one of the neighb's many non-Starbucks coffee houses. You are so brilliant!

Sunday, go for a walk or sit out on your stoop. Read the Sunday paper or go get a frappe.

Happy Weekend!

- Joey

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
New Baru Fine Eatery Bar reviewed today. Looks good!

Please see update.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Fun Poll

Here I've devised a way for you to kill some of the remainder of the afternoon. I'm doing this so that you, my dear reader, will be able to stretch this period of procratination before writing that sales report for Mrs. Hafenfeffer or doing your physics homework for Mr. Poopnscoop. Answer the following questions in the comments section below.

1) Do you live in QNS? or hang out here?
2) Do you know me personally? (Regardless of whether you like me or think that I need to learn how to dress.)
3) Do you keep a blog yourself? If so, might you leave the address?
4) What is your favorite Joey in Astoria post?
5) What are your fave restaurant, bar & shop in Astoria?
6) What is your favorite color, band, and WB TV character (current or historical)?


Long Island City Alliance Culture Festival

Dude, apparently this weekend is Long Island City Alliance Culture Festival which would explain why there's a zillion arts events there this weekend. So, why not mosey on down there and check it out?

Get the schedule. Granted, most of these events don't actually take place this weekend (maybe the people who wrote the schedule have been locked in a room for 30 days), but some do, and lots are worth checking out.

- Joey

PS. See Update

Seriously Desperate Writing

New York Times article today about the weirder, and probably, less productive, side of Long Island City...

Over at the Flux Factory, an artists' collective in Long Island City, three fiction writers have agreed to isolate themselves in small writing cells for a project called "Novel: A Living Installation." Each has promised to finish a novel by June 4. That is 25 days away. Odds are that these will either be teeny-tiny novels or very bad ones.
Read Article

Juvenal Reis Open Studios & Group Show

Juvenal Reis Studios
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Head's up for Junvenal Studios. This weekend they're having Open Studios. You can go and check out the work of over 50 painters, sculptors, photographers, illustrators, video and installation artists from 12 nations, featuring local artists. Right here in LIC.

Open Studios and Group Show May 14th & 15 12-5pm

Incase you can't read scarymapenese, it's at:

43-01 22nd St.
3rd & 4th floors
Long Island City, NY 11101

This from them...

Juvenal Reis Studios was created three years ago by the Brazilian painter Juvenal Reis to provide artists with professionally - built studios and more importantly, to form a nurturing, vibrant and diverse community of artists. It includes over 50 painters, sculptors, photographers, illustrators, video and installation artists from 12 nations. The works of many artists at Juvenal Reis Studios have been exhibited in museums and galleries in cities such as New York, Miami, Houston, Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Mexico City, Goteberg, and alternative spaces in the United States and abroad.

- Joey
"Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering." -Yoda

Why can't I be a Jedi?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

If you like Starbucks...

Cafe Bar
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Well, folks it's a fact, Starbucks 3rd location is moving to Astoria on 35th Avenue. It will be somewhere near the Studios and Pizzaria Uno.

Yes, Starbucks is pretty and yes they have tasty treats, but I don't think it's much of a secret that they uproot small local coffee houses. If you're going to hit starbucks, hey, I get it. But don't forget you're local coffee houses. Besides, Starbucks always burns their coffee.

If you like Starbucks on Ditmars, you'll love Freeze Peach on 29th Street. Freeze Peach is a super-hip, comfy hangout with the best tea in Queens.

If you like Starbucks on Steinway, you'll love Brick Cafe on 31st Av or Omonia on Broadway. Omnia is the quintessential Greek cafe and Brick makes a killer latte. I just had one on Saturday. See previous post "Brick Cafe is Awesome".

If you [will] like Starbucks on 35th Avenue, you'll love Cafe Bar on 34th Avenue. Cafe Bar's industry crowd and velvet couches will enhance your coffee experience.

I got this idea from delocater.net. A must for all independent coffee house lovers.

- Joey

Monday, May 09, 2005

Found in Astoria

Following in ARROW's steps, Build it Green! has opened a found / reclaimed objects center right here in Astoria. See article in yesterday's Daily News.

Where do you lead?

Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Does anyone know what these arrows led to? I didn't get to follow them, but this weekend they were on the subway columns along 31st Street. I'm dying of curiosity.

- Joey

PS. I'm going to play around with the comments feature, so, by all means, say hello!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

zinnias "before" picture

Zinnias "before" picture
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
So, it's officially planting season. I've planted a few rows of zinnias with my ginko tree. My friend down the street took this "before" picture. Stay tuned for the "after" pic, when the flowers come up!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Weekend Edition - May 6th

Mother's Day
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
This weekend is rainy (again!) and Mother's Day.

I'm recommending you come out to Cornelia Street Cafe tonight to support Astorian art. Saturday's for Nexflix and take-out.

I don't have a mommy, so this Mother's Day you should all spoil yours a little extra for me. Get up early on Sunday. Buy your mom some pretty flowers or plants at one of the neighb's 10 zillion florists. I think the flowers at the bodega on Broadway & 38th are the best. Then pick up some treats at Martha's Bakery on 31st Av between 34th & 33rd for you to share. Those tarts are soooo good. Maybe buy her something pretty at Loveday 31. If it's nice out, make sure to stroll past the cherry blossoms near Omonia. You could always pop in for a frappe.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

mmmmm pretty....

cherry blossoms
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.

Citicorp Building No longer Citicorp Building

Citibank Building
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
This morning the New York Times reported that The Citicorp building was sold. Wowza!

QUEENS: OFFICE TOWER SOLD Citigroup, which announced last summer that it would move 1,600 jobs from Manhattan to New Jersey, has sold its 50-story office building in Long Island City. The company will maintain a 15-year lease on the building, One Court Square, which dominates the western Queens skyline. The 1.4-million-square-foot building was sold to Reckson Associates Realty Corporation, which controls 90 properties in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. A Reckson official said the company believes that Long Island City will benefit from the success of Manhattan's office space market, which has one of the lowest rates of vacancy in the country. Citigroup officials have said that even though they are moving some technical jobs out of New York, the company intends to add more workers over the next several years. Last year, Citigroup announced plans to build another office tower across the street from One Court Square. (NYT)

More info from buyer.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Preview of the Olympic Village?

The mayor and council just approved a plan to build as many as 28 towers in Willie-B. I have my gripes about we-burg, but they sure as hell don't deserve this. Hopefully Long Island City doesn't have a similar fate in store. See what the Village Voice has to say about it.

Shameless Astorian Plug

Head's up for super-cute, National Poetry Series winning, Astorian poet Stephen Cramer reading a few at Cornelia Street Cafe in greater Astoria (aka "the City"). Okay, I’m a shred biased. Whatever; it’s my blog. Friday at 6pm. See you there!

- Joey

Are you an Astorian artist? And you don't suck? And you're going to have an event? Send me an email about it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Best Vegetarian Pizza in Astoria. For Joey.

Grand Avenue Pizza
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Astoria has *lots* of pizza. And if you can't find good pizza in New York, where can you find it? I don't eat a lot of meat, so I'm always looking for good vegetarian eating options. This posting is severely bent in that direction.

There are *two* outstanding vegetarian pizza options in our neighborhood. And a third honorable mention. Get Grand Av for truly interesting, New York style pizza. Get Boston Pizza for a filling, Greek, veggie pizza. Try Napoli for nice sauce, good crust and excellent pastas.

Grand Avenue Pizza is probably the first thing I ate when I moved to Astoria, seven years ago. They have an awesome foccacia slice that you can get with or without cheese. It has a great spicy tomato sauce that's really unique. It's cheap eats and Sooooo good. They have lots of other interesting options, too. This is Astoria's most classic pizza joint and integral to any Astoria food tour.

I stole my pics from this dude. Grand Avenue Pizza is on the Southwest corner of 30th (once known as Grand) Av & 35th street.

Boston Pizza is a Greek pizza joint, and like all Greek eating establishments, has injected Greekness into its food. This has never been done more successfully than with Boston Pizza's vegetarian pie. Feta cheese, olives, and a variety of vegetables make this a must-deliver for any Friday night Yankees broadcast. There are two brothers who own and run Boston pizza. One does the early shift, the other, the late. I challenge you to tell them apart. If you're feeling like you want to beef up your order, run, don't walk, to their eggplant parm. Its made over *french fries* with a nice Greek salad on the side. Genius. Boston Pizza is on the Southeast corner of Broadway & 38th Street.

When I lived on 34th Av, I ordered Napoli's penne a la vodka about 10,0000 a week. Napoli Pizza & Pasta also makes a nice pie. They have a nice sauce and crunchy crust. I haven't been there in a while, so I hope they're still there! If they are, Napoli Pizza & Pasta is on 35th Avenue between 33rd & 34th Streets.


- Joey

Monday, May 02, 2005

New Bookstore on Broadway

Seaburn Books
Originally uploaded by jggrossm.
Remember Book Value? Seaburn Books has renovated and reopened this storefront on Broadway between 32nd & 33rd Streets.

The store still carries bargain books, but it now has a whole second floor (basement) and a nicer interior. The organization of the store is lacking a bit. A friend of mine went in on the first day it opened and took it upon himself to organize the poetry section - so, we know that section is all set.

The new manager is super friendly and they have free coffee for visitors. There's a couch and coffee table area that's a comfy place to check out your potential purchases. And there's also a back room where they plan on hosting poetry readings and other live events.

Their selection may not be fabulous, but they'll order in whatever you want (read: free shipping), so give your neighborhood bookstore a chance.

Seaburn Publishing
33-18 Broadway
Long Island City, NY 11106

516 285-5758
718 267-7929

- Joey

Local Pols

Happy Monday!

In case you missed it, interesting article today about Astoria's State Assemblymember, Mike Gianaris. He wants to be the state Attorney General and he's fundraising in Greek communities everywhere. Check it out.