New art up at Socrates Sculpture Park

The next exhibit at Socrates Sculpture Park, a solo piece called Built by Virginia Overton, doesn’t open until next Sunday, May 6. But by last I saw earlier today, some pieces have gone up!

Says the park website: “In succinct, elegant forms, often accompanied with wry humor, Overton addresses concepts of labor, economics, and the land in today’s society.

There will be a tour of the exhibit on opening day at 4pm.

A souvenir shop opens in industrial Long Island City

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A Times Square-style souvenir shop has opened in industrial Long Island City. Just New York Souvenir, at 38-85 13th Street, half a block from the NYCHA Queensbridge Houses, sits within a 10 block Industrial Business Zone where low-rise warehouses and factories dominate but at least 13 hotel sites have cropped up.

“This looks like something on Canal Street,” said a man who stopped in mid-day to sell recycling services. Continue reading “A souvenir shop opens in industrial Long Island City”

A few notes

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  • A funeral was held at Most Precious Blood Church for the baby that was found in a garbage can at Dutch Kills Playground. The baby was given the name, Dutch James Hope. 
  • Flor de Azalea Cafe on 34th Avenue and 9th Street in Ravenswood is hosting an open mic on Saturday, April 28 from from 5-7pm.
  • The Steinway Astoria Partnership is hosting the International Culture Fest on Steinway Street on Sunday, April 29 from 12-5pm.
  • We Heart Astoria is throwing a party, which celebrates local businesses, with tickets starting at $45 on Thursday, April 26.
  • Also April 26, from 7-9pm the Boundless Tales Reading Series is on at the Local NYC in Long Island City. It’s free.
  • Suraj Patel gets a write-up in student paper, Washington Square News, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gets featured in Salon.
  • New York YIMBY has renderings for a residential project on 44th Drive in Hunters Point.
  • There are free English language classes going on at the Jacob Riis Settlement. 

Corner interviews Suraj Patel, candidate for Congress

The Suraj Patel campaign office at 64 Cooper Square

The other day I interviewed Suraj Patel, who is running against incumbent Representative Carolyn Maloney in the Midterm Democratic primary election for Congress on June 26. When I walked into his campaign headquarters at 64 Cooper Square, a converted East Village bar flush with young people on laptops, he was sitting by the door talking to a young woman who seemed to want to help his campaign. His website has a ‘Meet Suraj‘ feature allowing anyone to book 20 minutes with him. That’s what I did. 

Patel, 34, is less than half the age of the incumbent (she’s 72) and has been described as part of a movement of Millennial challengers or “progressive insurgents” inspired by the last national election, to push out old guard Democrats. In New York, this includes Rep. Ed Crowley’s Bronx/Queens challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Yvette Clarke’s Brooklyn challenger Adem Bunkeddeko.

Patel, an East Village resident, grew up in Indiana and moved to the city 12 years ago for law school, his website says. He’s president of his family’s hotel business and teaches business ethics at NYU. His LinkedIn includes Barack Obama and the White House’s advance teams between 2008 and 2016, the Democratic National Convention in 2012 and special assistant to the chief of staff of the Presidential Inaugural Committee in 2012-2013. In this campaign, he has raised more than $1 million in contributions, close to Maloney’s $1.3 million and has spent at least $460,000. He lost the endorsement vote of the Village Independent Democrats to Maloney 20 to 17

I let his staffer know a few hours in advance that I write a neighborhood blog and asked to be able to record audio. I’m not sure if Patel was expecting a journalist but I explained when the session started. The first few minutes of audio didn’t record well so I tried to edit it into shape. After that it’s smooth sailing. There’s also a nearly full transcript below.

Transcript below…

Continue reading “Corner interviews Suraj Patel, candidate for Congress”

A call for a permanent shuttle on 31st Street

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Broadway Station of the N/W line at 31st Street.

With some good news for the elevated N/W line in Astoria comes a new idea. Last Wednesday the MTA presented Community Board 1’s transportation committee with a plan to build much-called for elevators at the Astoria Boulevard station. Today, the board voted unanimously to send a letter (posted below) to NYC Transit proposing a permanent shuttle along 31st Street to bring even more accessibility along the whole elevated line. Anyone who needs an elevator would be able to take the two-way shuttle to Astoria Boulevard or down to the Queens Plaza station for the E, M, or R trains. Thirty First Street is currently served by the Q102 bus between 30th Avenue and Queens Plaza (map PDF).

Continue reading “A call for a permanent shuttle on 31st Street”

Constantinides and JVB both eyeing BP seat (prolly)

The Astoria Post reports that City Councilman Costa Constantinides is probably eyeing the Queens borough president seat for 2021 when Melinda Katz vacates. Constantinides, who is serving his final term as council-member, held a fundraiser with a maximum donation of $3,850, the top limit allowed for borough president. A flyer for the fundraiser reads, “I hope I can count on you as we expand upon our legacy and fight for higher office after my current term ends.” If true, this makes the second city council member from Western Queens eying the beep race. It was revealed in February that Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer formed a Queens Borough President exploratory committee.

H/T Astoria Post

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JVB in street fight with Streetsblog

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43rd Ave in Sunnsyide, Google Maps screen shot

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer clashed with Streetsblog NYC over the weekend. Last Friday, Streetsblog published a story titled, “Jimmy Van Bramer Called for a Protected Bike Lane on 43rd Avenue a Year Ago Today. Now He’s Undecided.” The post came a year after Corona resident Gelacio Reyes was killed on his bike by a drunk driver. The tragedy galvanized support for enhancements such as protected bike lanes in the 43rd and Skillman avenues area in Sunnyside. JVB indeed supported that. But at a March 26 town hall, he said, “Nothing is a done deal, this is a proposal,” Streetsblog reported. “I listened to every single word that every single person said here today.”

Streetsblog tweeted with its article, “Hard to think of a more brazen about-face on a major street safety project in NYC than abandoning the 43rd Ave protected bike lane.”

In response, Van Bramer tweeted, “This article is not accurate. I was never contacted by the reporter. I have a full statement I’m sending out soon to correct the record.”

In his statement, the councilman said he still believes in the measures but added his respects for the approval process.

“We are going through the process which, though Streetsblog may not like it, includes the DOT presenting to the local community board… While some may be frustrated with the process, I believe Community Boards play a role and should be included in such plans.”

Streetsblog tweeted in response:

“Statement from contradicts nothing in today’s story. A year after saying DOT should install protected bike lanes where Gelacio Reyes was killed, he does not support DOT’s plan for protected lanes on 43rd and Skillman.”

JVB had a much better day with the press last week when he was given credit for the city’s decision to remove parked garbage trucks from the streets by the Ravenswood Houses.