Basketball is one of Queens residents favorite pass times, and St. John’s University’s Alumni Hall is the best place to catch a game.
The large auditorium is the home of the women’s and men’s basketball teams, where thousands of fans fill the bleachers. The seats make you feel like you’re in a high school auditorium, but the sounds and size will make any real fan think otherwise.
A regular season game is just as exciting as any playoff game at Madison Square Garden, and fans can stand over the railing and catch a glimpse of their favorite St. John’s players.
The Red Storm games are jammed packed with excitement, and are a fun way to root for a local team, so reserve your tickets now.
–Raynelle Cerica Bull
John’s University Basketball
Less than a minute left. Tie score.
You see an opening between two players on the other team. You don’t know their names. It’s a pick-up game, after all.
You skate as hard as you can and split them. They shout expletives as you bust towards the net. The goalie comes out, wearing five different brands of pads – all different colors – and gets ready for the final shot of regulation. The stop watch on the side of the rink is going to beep any second, so you speed up.
You skate towards the outside, carrying the puck behind you. You cross over, breaking towards the net.
The goalies tries to poke check the puck away, but instead hits the wheels of your inline skates. You start falling, but you are determined not to let this opportunity slip. As you fall, you shoot – hard.
The goalie tries to rebound, but can’t. The puck goes over his shoulder.
It’s your ninth goal of the game. Your teammates, including two guys from Bayside, your friend from college and a 14-year-old boy, throw up their hands in celebration.
The goalie who you just beat gets up slowly, and yells, “Sticks in! Let’s go.”
Each player throws their stick into a pile in the middle of the rink, and the two goalies – eyes closed – take turns grabbing one and throwing it to their side.
Once the new teams are chosen, one goalie yells out, “Quick, let’s go. The leagues will be in here soon.” The stop watch is set by one of the player’s girlfriends, and you skate to your new teammates ready to play another round.
After all, it’s a beautiful day, and with the Throgs Neck Bridge in the background, joggers and bike riders always passing by and the Bay’s breeze in your helmet-less hair, who wants to just sit around in air conditioning?
Who needs ice?
Breakdown Records sits frozen in time, a refugee of commerce from a bygone era of vinyl, on a sleepy section of Bell Boulevard where the never ending clamor of pubs and shops further north gives way to residential streets. The faded awning out front, nearly bleached of all color, scarcely stands out from the dingy-looking dry cleaning establishment next door.
Step inside, however, and even the most hardened music enthusiast will be swept over by waves of nostalgia and anticipation. In rows upon rows of somewhat disorganized racks and in bewildering piles on the floor, customers can browse through a fantastic selection of vintage LPs that trace the history of modern American music – from staid vocal albums out of the 1950s to current hip-hop pressings cast off by radio DJs.
A trip to the store in search of something in particular can lead to 45 minutes of album flipping, and spending any time sorting through the stacks inevitably coats your fingers in a fine film of dust accumulated over decades. But persistence is rewarded with vinyl editions great albums – Springsteen, Beatles, Stones, it’s all there – at very low prices. And you never know what you are going discover.
Recently, this neighborhood institution that has scarcely changed one lick over the past 30 years has shown signs of impending renovation. The unruly piles of LPs on the floor have been moving and disappearing, and Anthony, the ever-present owner, says he is about to expand Breakdown’s digital offerings: an expansive second-hand DVD selection, amidst the impressive selection of hard-to-find CDs and rare concert bootlegs, is apparently in the works.
But for those who know the true pleasure of diamond needles moving breathily over grooves etched in cool black vinyl, the beauty of Breakdown remains the lost musical treasures of a bygone age that are yours for the finding – once you push past the dust.
– Aaron Rutkoff
Among the vast multitudes of the deceased that have been buried in Queens over the centuries, none wrote better songs than Louis Armstrong. The jazz great and international icon of American music spent the last three decades of his life in a modest Corona house, which has recently reopened as an immaculately preserved museum. But he rests for all eternity in the Flushing Cemetery.
Take a pilgrimage out to Satchmo’s final resting place: you will see trees of green and red roses, too, as visitors seem to leave an endless floral tribute at the gravesite of their idol. Flushing Cemetery, though somber, is a lush pasture of rolling fields. On a bright spring day, even in the silence of the cemetery, the notes of “Pennies From Heaven” waft in the breeze.
For jazz aficionados, Armstrong is buried in a prestigious neighborhood. In fact, he may not even be the best all around jazzman interred in Flushing Cemetery. Bebop legend Dizzy Gillespie rests there, as does jazz vocalist Hazel Scott.
But Satchmo, whose smiling visage and singing trumpet launched the distinctive sounds jazz around the world, holds special sway. His gravestone, a large and elegant obsidian marker with a white plaster trumpet on top, cannot be missed.
– Aaron Rutkoff
Unless you want to fork over thousands of dollars a year for membership in a some exclusive country club, it doesn’t get much better than a round of 18 holes at the Clearview Golf Course in Bayside.
public course, owned by the city’s Parks Department, has been
serving up breathtaking views of green fairways before a backdrop of
the Throgs Neck Bridge since 1930. The rolling terrain offers, though
predominantly open, offers challenges for inexperienced players and
veterans alike, including ominously deep bunkers near many of the pins.
a borough as congested as Queens, it seems like nothing short of a miracle
to find over 6,000 sprawling yards of neatly manicured green space at
Clearview, but the population density of urban living has a way or working
its way onto the course.
But with fees at around $30 per player, it is hard to find a better course for the money.
The drives, for the most part, are straight on, making it a tremendous course for learners.
And for the hearty golfer, Clearview stays open year round. Just watch out for the snow traps.
– Aaron Rutkoff
people still make out with one another in automobiles?
There is one spot in the borough, however, where hopeless romantics with access to automobiles will always be drawn. Along the Douglaston waterfront, in the uppermost northeastern reach of Queens, the view is so soothing and – under the cover of a night sky – the atmosphere so secluded that car-borne canoodling will always remain a potent force.
Today, even with the more permissive sexual mores of the times, there remains an element of danger and excitement to back seat make out sessions on Little Neck Bay. The waterfront areas of Douglaston have received historic district status, and local homeowners have formed a vigilant neighborhood association to protect their lovely domain. Signs posted along Shore Road, where the best parking spots can be found near the marina, warn non-residents against visiting the area.
But for the true romantic, those nostalgic for an old-fashioned good time, or even those just looking to escape the overheated urban core of Queens, the lure of the lapping waves pounding ceaselessly into the Douglaston shoreline is simply too pleasing to miss.
Every Saturday morning, Glenda and Philip Maganty put on their sweats and sunglasses and head to Fort Totten in Bayside.
They park their car, re-tie their sneakers, and briskly walk towards the path that parallels the northbound side of the Cross Island Parkway all the way up to Northern Boulevard.
As cars zoom by, the Magantys join bicyclists, rollerbladers, joggers and fellow walkers in a stroll along the Parkway, which borders the beautiful blue waters of Little Bay.
Sun glistens off of the calm water, while sailboats slowly inch their way along.
All of the Parkway’s car honks and engine noises fade into the background as joggers try to beat their best times, walkers dish the latest gossip, and parents teach their kids how to ride their bikes.
Joel Patel smiles as his father helps him learn to rollerblade, while
22-year-old Marissa Andelson and her fiance Gabe Hugo walk hand-in-hand
discussing wedding plans.
The Magantys have been walking on the path for about 18 years, and Glenda said, “There’s no better way to relax. It’s beautiful, it feels good and all kinds of people come here.”
Island Parkway Path
Walking into historic Flushing Town Hall on Northern Boulevard is like taking a step back in time.
The structure, which was built during the Civil War, stands as one of the oldest buildings in Queens, and has held dozens of important roles in community history, from the spot where Union recruits gathered to the area’s actual town hall to the town’s local jail.
In its current form, Flushing Town Hall is home to the Flushing Council on the Arts and Culture, and all of the non-profit group’s multi-ethnic, multi-genre offerings, from art shows to jazz performances.
Under one roof, you can find photography and art exhibits, opera, classical performances, jazz and the performing arts, and, in turn, a varied constituency of art lovers.
While looking towards the future and the borough’s diverse populations, curators at the art center also merge history with the present, developing linkages between the then and now.
The Queens Jazz Trail, a tour that explores the roots of jazz in the Queens community. If you didn’t know that the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday and Louis Armstrong lived in the borough, the tour gives you a chance to learn, and explore their influence on the landscape.
Town Hall is noted for building community bridges, offering world performances
from Mali to West Africa, and constantly inviting schools and community
groups to visit.
The entire population of Queens can be neatly divided into two distinct groups: there are those who enjoy meals at completely unfamiliar restaurants, the sort of places where you may not be able to decipher the menu, let alone determine exactly what it is you are about to ingest before bravely plunging a fork or a chopstick or fist into a steaming pile of mystery; and then there is the vast majority, those who most definitely do not crave a mouthful of the unknown and play it safe.
A sense of menu-exploring adventure, while often rewarding, can leave you begging for the relief only found at the bottom of a tall glass of water, your tear ducts flooded and snot embarrassingly crawling down your nose.
At Spicy and Tasty, an elegant Sichuan spot around the corner from the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Flushing, anyone who does not have ancestry that can be traced back to spiciest province of China is probably in for at least one dish of discomfort, especially those who do not heed the menacing little red chili logos affixed to nearly half the items on the menu.
Non-native speakers attempting to wade through the lengthy menu, even the most cautious, will be dumbfounded by the very limited translations. “Shredded Beef w. Spicy Pepper” may not sound too different from “Shredded Beef w. Spicy Sauce,” but they are extremely different – the latter dish is far more punishing. Then, of course, there are items that are incomprehensible when rendered in English: “Enhanced Pork,” “Duck Feet w. Mustard,” “Amazing Balt Fish,” “Intestines in Fresh Hot Pepper,” and – most intimidating – “Sautéed Stinky To-Fu in Hot Pepper Sauce.”
Mystery is the name of the game for the untrained palate at Spicy and Tasty. “Pig Blood Cake w. Chives” is somehow listed under the heading “Vegetables” on the menu. Hot pepper, as should be clear right now, abounds in Sichuan cooking.
But with the dark spots on the world map entirely filled in by now, in an age when adventurers have been on all the world’s peaks and to the bottom of the ocean, adventurers need a frontier. At Spicy and Tasty, the adventurers of Queens have found one.
step into Stitches in Whitestone lets any baseball fan know that if
they can’t play as well as the major leaguers, they can at least
look as good.
the company stitches jerseys for local softball teams and little leagues,
its biggest customer is an Amazin’ one.
The plain looking white building – which has been open since 1991 – has huge looms and fancy machines for completing large orders, but also has stitchers who have worked there since the store opened who carefully hand-stitch numbers, letters and patches on custom jerseys.
On the walls of Stitches, memorobilia hangs everywhere, from autographs to pennants. There’s even some Yankees stuff on the walls.
Looking at the signatures and watching the stitching is only half the fun of going to Stitches, however. Receiving your own custom Mets jersey is where the real fun begins.
pressure’s on now.
You floor the gas pedal of your small, bumpercar-like vehicle.
moves with a little kick.
You’re gaining, but then you hit a hard turn – this track isn’t as easy as it looks. You let off the gas just in time to avoid slamming into the small barrier on the side of the track and slowing down considerably.
You keep going, going, going. You pass the leader. You floor the pedal again. You win!
You pull off to the side of the track, hop out, and head upstairs to celebrate your victory in the upscale, posh adult playground Strike, where go-kart racing is just the beginning.
The loud dance music and flourescent lights in the underground lounge just adds to your happy mood as you grab a drink at the bar and a black and white sesame seed-covered tuna steak from the modern café.
You grab a dance in the lounge that sits above the huge go-kart track where you just blew your opponents away, and consider playing pool in Strike’s billiard lounge.
You decide instead to grab a neon ball and bowl a game in Strike’s flourescent yet old fashioned bowling alley.
Kids of all ages – except under 21 because it’s after 9 p.m. – are having a great time all around you. You wonder – who will I race by next?
At dusk, when the summer humidity seems to dissipate slightly and a soft breeze passes over the city, there is no place better than Cunningham Park.
This green gem is spread over 324 lush acres and bordered by the Horace Harding Expressway in the north and the Grand Central Parkway in the south. During the average summer day it is abuzz with pleasure seekers of all sorts, laying out in the sun or playing ball on the rolling fields. But as the day winds down, watch as the atmosphere at the park calms and droves of people turn up, picnic blankets and folding chairs in hand, for the summer evening concert series.
Performances normally begin right around sunset, and the musicians set up in the large concert oval located within Cunningham Park. The music tends toward the classical end of the spectrum, with the New York Philharmonic known to visit at least once a season, but the concert series is also known for an eclectic mix, ranging from Klemzer to Do-Wop revivals.
The music never fails to impress, but it serves more as a catalyst than as the focal point of the evening. These are wonderful performances, but the main attractions are those with whom you share your basket dinner. As the unmistakable scent of citronella candles wafts in the air, and the first summer stars peak out in the sky, the sight of families and friends camped out together in the warm afterglow of a summer day is the sweetest music of all.
– Aaron Rutkoff
What does it feel like to pedal atop the asphalt of history?
recently, it did not feel very good at all. The historic Kissena Park
Velodrome, a loop that cyclists have dubbed “the track of dreams,”
had deteriorated severely over its four-decade lifespan.
Mercifully, the original asphalt is gone, replaced by a smooth, state-of-the-art track surface. The 400-meter cycling loop, which reopened in April, also features new grand stands, perimeter landscaping and fences.
The result is an experience that can make even a toddler on training wheels feel like a cycling god. Tearing around the track on a two-wheeler – even at speeds far less than the aerodynamic blur at which Olympians travel – can give the most modest pedal pushers delusions of grandeur.
With competitive meets scheduled by the still thriving cycling community in the region, cycling spectators also have reason to cheer the new and improved Velodrome. The world class race caliber facility is only one of two such sites on in the Northeastern U.S.
The only other track like it is in Pennsylvania.
At Kissena Park
Motorists gazing skyward on their morning commute along the Long Island Expressway will undoubtedly encounter a baffling sight. On most warm mornings, midway across an elevated walkway, a very unusual man stands. Rest assured that, strange as he seems, this man is not poised to leap to his death on the car-crowded roadway below.
No. This man – Louie the Flag Man – only wants to make you smile. At least that is the explanation he has offered to inquisitive passersby over the years, wherever and whenever he is spotted doing his one-of-a-kind thing all over Queens.
A borough fixture, Louie dresses head to toe in his patriotic best, with red, white and blue clothing topped always by an Uncle Sam-style stars-and-stripes stovepipe hat. In full regalia, his costume includes a dazzling array of flags attached to his clothing, plus one clutched in each hand, which Louie waves in perpetual greeting to all he encounters.
does Louie do this? Is it for love of country? A tribute to those lost
on Sept. 11? A gesture of support for the troops?
The Flag Man
Like bowling alleys everywhere in the world, it is the sound that hits you first – the low thunder of the speeding balls followed by the ecstatic crash and clatter of the defeated pins. The visuals quickly follow, however: a 48-lane expanse of never-ending, never-closing, never-ceasing bowling action.
Such is the majesty of the Whitestone Lanes, an all-hours institution about a half-mile north of Northern Boulevard in Flushing, just off the expressway from which this venerable alley takes it name. There are many great aspects of the Whitestone Lanes, but foremost is the undeniable fact that the place just does not close. If there are locks on the doors, they are completely unnecessary.
Whitestone Lanes also features a bowling lounge for the ages, an icon of well-worn Americana called The Strike Lounge. There is a snack bar as well, with the sort of fast food options you would expect from a house of bowling.
Who bowls at 7 a.m.? Anyone with a mere $4 for 12 frames. The lanes fill up with family types on weekends and evenings, when the rate is a slightly more expensive $6 for a game, but in the dawn hours you can dominate the lanes along side a smattering of truckers taking a brief pit stop from an all-night drive along the expressway.
When you first enter The Ultimate Card and Comic Universe/The Wrestling Universe on Horace Harding Expressway, it looks like your typical hobby shop.
got glass cases displaying valuable trading cards, racks of comic books,
action figures, and boys all over the place, reading, trading and talking.
Then you hear what they’re talking about.
They’re seriously talking about whether Los Lunatics will beat up on Christopher Street Connection.
obsessively talking about the ICW, a local wrestling organization started
by store owner Jac Sabboth.
Sabboth sits behind the counter and talks wrestling with the kids – not just ICW, but everything.
The kids ask when the next pro wrestler will be signing autographs at the place before browsing the store’s huge selection of wrestling videos, including ICW matches.
There is tons of rare wrestling merchandise available, including real WWE championship belts.
Ultimate Card and Comic Universe/The Wrestling Universe