By MICHAEL SCHENKLER
In the middle of a hectic, crazy-paced
effort to put together the Tribune’s “Best of Queens 2002”
special glossy edition, I sat down to try to contribute something a little
I’d like to throw out the rules and
the standard book and just let forth with a stream of consciousness of my
best — old and new — of my borough Queens.
Order doesn’t matter. Omissions should
not be viewed as slights. The list is not complete. Herein is a snapshot
in time — July 4th, 2002 — of my thoughts of the moment of some of the “Best of Queens
BEST OF THE FUTURE
So they’re groundbreaking in Arverne
this week. A massive residential-plus development we’ve been hearing
about for decades is about to become a reality. Vacant land will become
home to thousands of people. Waterfront property shall no longer remain
barren but offer backyard and neighborhood vistas to many Queens residents
– old and new. I don’t know the details of the project — the Tribune
is sure to share the development of the development with you. But to
Benjamin Development, the visionaries and the builders who are beginning
to make this dream a reality: you are embarking on the best of what is to
come in Queens. We welcome your efforts. We anticipate your success. We
share in your dream.
BEST NEW PUBLICISTS
He’s an old friend. He’s a skilled
people person. He’s part politician, part fundraiser, part networker and
the consummate image-maker. Great Neck’s Robert Zimmerman and his
partner Ron Edelson have spun their successes from the East End of Long
Island all the way to Washington, D.C.
Robert was Al Gore’s New York chair
during the Presidential election. Zimmerman Edelson, their 21-person Great
Neck based PR, Marketing and Advertising Agency, has represented clients
from Benjamin Development to Lockheed Martin, from LIPA to school
districts and villages across Long Island. However, in my long
relationship with the guys from Great Neck Plaza, I’ve never known them
to be handling clients in Queens.
Not so anymore. In addition to a new
medical facility they are representing in Astoria, Zimmerman and Edelson
is the PR firm of the developers of Arverne. Overnight, they have become
They are the best small firm
image-makers I’ve ever seen. Robert, Ron and Co. welcome to Queens.
BEST ROLE MODEL
Thomson & Schenkler
Terri Thomson is my friend and a role
model for all NYC children. She served selflessly as the Queens member of
the Board of Education. She was the major reason that this city recognized
that Queens had far too few seats for our school children. The Citicorp
Government Relations Veep threw herself into her “part time” Board of
Ed. job. Spending fulltime hours learning, sharing, growing, advocating
and building a network to champion the cause of Queens and New York school
children, Terri exemplified the pure principle of public service. Often
she was the swing vote on the Board. More often she was the consensus
builder. Terri Thomson is not running for public office. She had nothing
personal to gain other than the satisfaction of doing a job the best she
As the newly-structured Board of
Education under Mayoral control replaces the old Board, we salute Terri
for being the best role model for the kids of Queens.
NEW ELECTED OFFICIAL
This one isn’t easy... there are many.
But with the impressive class of new talent in the City Council, Leroy
Comrie has risen to the top. His hard work, his quiet and thoughtful
demeanor, his accessibility and his great big heart have made him the
chosen leader of the Queens delegation as well as a key part of Council
leadership. He is admired by his constituents, his colleagues, his party
and just about everyone else who comes in contact with him. The future
looks real bright for Leroy. Keep your eye on him.
This is not a competition. My alma
mater, Queens College, gave me a first rate education for free. It is no
longer free — hasn’t been for a while. However, for what is a pittance
compared to schools of equivalent quality, Queens continues to offer –
or maybe it is offering again – a first-rate college experience. It is
indeed the jewel of CUNY and does our borough proud.
My memories of student politics and
newspapers, of AEPi (if you were a brother in the mid 60s, email me) and
friends perhaps are even more vivid than the thinking and learning skills
I acquired there.
This borough is rich with quality
educational institutions, including first rate St John’s U and other
CUNY institutions — York, LaGuardia and Queensboro, as well as a myriad
of other higher ed. programs that offer wonderful nourishment for the
BEST NEW DESSERT
It’s not brand new but new to a batch
of Queens neighborhoods. We lived on it last summer. Ralph’s Ice’s,
the only true delicacy originating – from Staten Island – has come to
Queens. With stores on 41st right off Bell, on Austin Street and on Union Turnpike in Glen Oaks
it’s worth a try. Now take it from someone who has sampled every
chocolate-related flavor, the Chocolate Cookies and Cream is by far the
best new summer desert since ice
cream. If you stop by the Bayside store off Bell, ask for Sandy and tell
him Mike sent you.
PLACE FOR A BAT MITZVAH
If you’re a regular reader of my
column, you already know that two weeks ago my daughter celebrated her Bat
Mitzvah at a glorious party at Caffé on the Green. Joe Franco’s
restaurant has long been a favorite lunch spot of mine, as well as of many
of the movers and shakers of our borough. The restaurant service, ambiance
and food compliment the beautiful setting on the Clearview Golf Course on
Willets Point Boulevard at the foot of the Throgs Neck Bridge.
Now, I’ve been to affairs in their
upstairs catering facility and have always found it impressive. However,
this time it was mine. Lil and I shared all the worries that hosts have.
The beautiful affair began with an elegant outdoor cocktail party and
things got better as the day went on. Helen, the catering manager; Tracey,
the party planner; Keith, the maitre ‘d; and especially Louise, our
waitress, went that extra step.
With the food, the service, and the
extra touches: you can’t go wrong.
NEW BANK IN QUEENS
If setting the standard for customer
service still means anything, State Bank of Long Island Chairman Tom
Goldrick’s has raised the bar several notches. New Hyde Park houses the
corporate headquarters of the small bank with lots of style. However,
although their name has always said Long Island, they excluded us folks on
the western part – in Queens.
Not anymore. Last year, Tom made his
move and has quickly opened three small branches that have catered to
business customers in a small town style that has been missing too long
from our big City borough.
State Bank recognized Queens as a
vibrant and vital market place.
Welcome to Queens.
BEST PLACE FOR FUN
Adventurer’s Inn was the best place in
the world for a teenager in Queens. The rides, the arcade, the fun are
long gone, replaced by a movieplex which is part of the College Point
development offering the people of Queens anything their collective hearts
could desire. Anything that is, except an amusement park. There are no
amusement parks left in our borough which was once home to Kiddy City,
Fairyland and Adventurer’s Inn. Even distant Freedomland gave way to
Co-op City. Alas, modern economy seems to dictate more profitable uses for
our real estate so they’ve taken the meccas of joy we knew as kids and
turned them into commercially viable establishments.
But they can’t take away the memories.
We’ll hold fast to the great times at Adventurer’s.
The ’64 World’s Fair was an
amusement park, an educational institution, a feeding frenzy, and
Disneyworld (before Disneyworld existed) right in our backyard. It was a
milestone for Queens. It caused the modernization of our roads and
airports. It brought with it Shea Stadium and the Mets; it put Queens and
Flushing Meadows back on the map; and it changed the face of our park and
To us it offered days and nights of
Amazement, wonderment and awe were just
a bus or train ride from any Queens kid’s home.
There is no single event that has had a
greater impact on our borough. And there are no greater memories of Queens
experiences than those we had at the ’64 World’s Fair.
BEST QUEENS TEAM
1969 Mets! Perhaps the best team
anywhere, ever. I’m a
EDITH BERGTRAUM SCHOOL
We moved to Queens when I was in the
fourth grade. It was PS 165 that introduced me to all those things that
one learned as a Queens school kid in the formative years. Education was
also made real by Mrs. Goldberg — if you remember her, email me.
My special memories became even more
special a year later, when School District 25 renamed P.S. 165, the Edith
Bergtraum School in honor of my aunt who spent years championing the cause
of education for our borough’s kids.
BEST NEWSPAPER TEAM
No, I’m not going to name them all.
However, some of the folks that were instrumental in putting together this
issue and every weekly issue truly represent the most talented people our
borough has to offer. Most of the staff hails from Queens.
The editorial department is gifted,
inquisitive and a group of honest hard-working journalists led by Tamara
Hartman, our chief with ink in her veins and Queens in her heart. Stephen
McGuire, Angela Montefinise and a group of new upcoming stars will offer
the people of this borough a mirror to reflect on their Queens experience
and an occasional nudge to help you think about its meaning.
The advertising department is as
talented as any I’ve worked with in my 23 years doing this newspaper
The guys and gals in classifieds have
been with me forever. They are the backbone of this publication.
The art department is terrific and
talented. Mom Lianne is on leave caring for the newest Tribbie, Alyssa
Rose. Shiek Mohamed has filled in without missing a beat. He’s directed
and spearheaded a team of gifted, hard-working folks.
Mike Nussbaum, my occasional crutch,
conscience, back-up and always my friend, has been doing this with me for
13 years. Figure he’ll get it right sooner or later.
The rest of the crew makes us complete.
I’m grateful to them all.
BEST IS YET TO COME
We promise some exciting new
announcement very shortly. We promise to be here weekly offering you the
best and worst of Queens. We promise to exercise our first amendment
rights with utmost responsibility and to be committed to providing the
news to the people of our borough, Queens.
Queens: “The Best Place on earth.”
Its people are the real “Best of Queens.”
We salute you.
by Dom Nunziato