Wednesday, November 25, 2009

CPCCPCIV Postponed.

Note to all Manic-CPCCPC (College Point Class Conflict Pub Crawl) participants: we need to postpone this year's event. INFRASTRUCTURE (Chris, Erich, and myself, plus Micah the drummer) is playing a 9:30pm set at Tritone in Philly on Saturday Friday night (details here), and Rob Gestone's band, Postcard Secrets, is playing at The Bitter End in Manhattan on Saturday night (details here).

We'll try to bring back the CPC over Christmas, even though INFRASTRUCTURE is making its New York debut on 12/26. Stay tuned.

And, oh yeah, Austin in TWO WEEKS. Manic to the max!

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Transactions

In February of 2009, a halal food cart appeared on a certain corner in Jackson Heights. It never closed. In fact, it never left. Not even for a minute.

Where else in the city can you get a plate of cooked-to-order lamb with yellow basmati rice, salad, and fresh, sliced tomato...for $5? The "street meat" phenomenon is sweeping the city. Formerly the carts were scary, salmonella laden. Now they are intriguing, cool, hip. In Midtown the same meal would be $10, maybe more.

In Jackson Heights, the price is $5. At midnight, there are local drunks drinking locally, transient drunks arriving in yellow and livery cabs, and the cab drivers themselves, all queuing to purchase food off the griddle. Some are having the lamb over rice; some are having the chicken over rice. Those short on cash are having the halal hot dog: just "$0.99" as advertised on the cart's sides.

"Where else can you get a hot dog for a dollar?!" shouts the cart's owner emphatically. He's standing outside the cart, wearing a 99-cent short-sleeved plaid shirt and barking commands to the younger guy inside the cart in Hindi or Urdu or whatever the fuck. He's drinking a Schwepps Ginger Ale from a can and sweating profusely.

"We've been here six months," says the guy. "People complain. Fucking white people. Fucking fags. They complain that we are here! We are serving people twenty-four hours! What is the problem? The symbol of New York is twenty-four hours!"

We agree with this assertion and surrender our five-dollar bill. Then, with THANK YOU COME AGAIN bag in tow, we head down to the magazine shop that the guy also owns. We take a six-pack of Miller Lite out of the fridge, then realize that there are two deeply hidden six-packs of Sam Adams in another fridge. We atempt to put the Miller Lite back. "WHY ARE YOU PUTTING THAT BACK?!" shouts a voice. "We're trading up." "Okay."

In these exchanges, a primordial, undisputable truth of New York makes itself completely clear: the city is a pay to play place, no matter where you're from and as long as someone is taking your money.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Beginning of a Thousand Journeys


This is not the Deep South. This is my (former) bus stop in Queens, the place from which I started leaving home for the first time, first to go to high school in Manhattan, then to the rest of America.

More Deep South soon.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

A Word about Quincy

This week, I was working on an essay when I got stuck, wrote a post called "Go Back to the Suburbs and Die," and unwittingly initiated an internet shitstorm here in Bostonia (thanks to UniversalHub.com, also a locus of shit-flingin'). In my post I mention a conversation I had with a girl at a bar in Quincy.

Apparently that's enough to get you an STD. The funniest thing about the many vitriolic comments on my post is that all the references to Quincy, as city or suburb, are incredibly negative.

Quincy is a bizarre place. The more urban parts have the feel of my native Queens, but without the benefit of being part of a much larger municipality. That allows the deeply entrenched cronyism, corruption, and racism of New England--which may or may not be dying out in other cities--to seep in.

In Quincy, the 'poorer' residents are quarantined in the Germantown projects on a peninsula off another peninsula out in the ocean. The community college, the only city-operated community college in the state, occasionally loses accreditation, spends scholarship money on the president's vacations, and owes the city thousands in back rent. You have to love it. It's like the cover stories from the Herald happen there every day.

In a bizarre similarity to Queens, Downtown Quincy shows similar Asian influences as Downtown Flushing, though new buildings funded by Asian developers do not dominate the skyline. I've overheard white residents bitching about the ballots being printed in Mandarin and Vietnamese. And I've actually seen trucks from Flushing making deliveries in Quincy. I also believe that Fung Wah's Boston headquarters are in Quincy--another strange linkage to New York.

Quincy has cool industrial shit, like the giant animal fat refinery and the Mass. Water Resource Authority pelletizer plant. That's where your shit gets turned into fertilizer! I like these places because their existence is required in order for our society to function. You will never see infrastructure like that in the deep suburbs.

What am I trying to say? Quincy needs to be Quincy. A lot of bad happens there, and a lot of necessary happens there, and that's all I know about the city. Certain parts are very photogenic to me, and I get there when I get there.

We may not all want to live in Quincy, but we couldn't live without it.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

CPC Flashback No. 2

After my friends abandoned me with the MILF cougarlawyer, things became even more interesting. The old people began quizzing me about the songs they were playing on the juke (lots of Meat Loaf, unknown to me). They also bought me two or three gin and tonics. A stocky but athletic, white-haired, 50-something man showed up and kissed the MILF cougarlawyer repeatedly. She kept telling me that she had a 6-bedroom house and that her kids worked for her. He introduced himself as Joe Walsh. He immediately began to make fun of my hat. The fat guy to my left bought me another drink, which tasted like cough syrup, red bull, and rum. I drank it fast.

Get Woldo another drink, cried Joe Walsh. The people laughed.

Why the fuck are you calling me Waldo, I asked.

C'meah. Lemme tell ya somethin, said Joe Walsh. He came over to my side. He was about my height. He said come ova heah. I followed him away from the bar to the back of the room. I did not know what was about to happen.

At the back of the room, at the end of the Sports Garden, I found a hip-height mirror next to the bathrooms. It ran all the way up to the ceiling. Joe Walsh told me to look into the mirror and tell him what I thought I looked like. I said nothing.

Woldo. You look like Woldo, he said.

Thank you, Joe Walsh, I said. In your infinite wisdom and years of experience beyond my own, you have explained this all to me. Thank you.

No problem, said Joe Walsh, smiling proudly and drunkenly. He reached out his hand, which I may or may not have shook. He said: Joe Walsh ain't afraid to tell you the truth.

It was then that I resolved to kill Joe Walsh.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The End of the Earth

Travel time between College Point, Queens and Midtown Manhattan via 7 train and local bus is averaging about 90 minutes. This works out to an average speed of 8mph. There is still no cell phone reception in areas of College Point.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow and Slush in the Old World

I am in College Point, Queens, where the elderly, Mediterranean natives are brandishing shovels and screaming at each other about a mysterious, five-foot-high pile of ice and snow on one side of the street. A Sanitation Dept. payloader, working its way through the neighborhood, created the pile last night, and one neighbor suspects the other of deliberately telling the driver to pile the snow on her side of the street. She suspects this was done so that the flow of water along the curb would be blocked, creating a small cesspool of dirty, melted snow in front of the her house (not to mention the many other homes on that side of the street).

That's how it works here. My family once spent several years without speaking to the other family that lives in our building because there had been a fight over grass clippings from one tiny backyard ending up in the other.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

CPCCPCIII

To participate in this year's College Point Pub Crawl, which is going to be huge, show up at the Five Corners Restaurant in College Point at 8 p.m. tomorrow (Friday night). The restaurant has no website, and I hope it's still in business. I didn't check.

The 5 Corners is at 14th Ave and 127th St in College Point:


View Larger Map


View Larger Map

How to get there:
1. Get to Main Street, Flushing. The 7 Express takes about 35 minutes from Times Square or Grand Central. The LIRR takes 20 minutes from Penn Station.

2. Get on a bus. Here are your options:
  • The Q25 is probably your best bet. Picks up on Main St near Roosevelt Ave. Stops outside the Five Corners (127th St at 14th Ave).
  • The Q65 runs the most frequently and will let you off at 14th Road and College Point Boulevard, from which you can walk to 14th Ave and 127th St. The 65 also picks up on Main St, under the gigantic, abandoned Caldor sign.
  • The Q20A will let you off at 127th St and 20th Ave, from which you can walk to 127th St and 14th Ave.
  • The Q20B runs very infrequently but will also let you off right at the Five Corners.
You should probably take the 65 or 25. If you drive to CP, there are no parking permit rules and you can park anywhere.

Where we're going:
There are at least 5 bars we can hit, with the possibility of one or two more if we find them. We never run out of things to do, yet we have never fulfilled my fantasy of brown-bagging in front of one of the area's many 24-hour delis.

Getting Out of CP:

The buses run infrequently at night but we've always succeeded in shipping people back to the subway via bus. If need be, we can easily call livery cabs for a ride to Main St ($13-15).

Hotel prices have either risen sharply or decreased sharply since yesterday. Right now, the Extended Stay Suites in Whitestone is down to $97 and a tiny new Howard Johnson in Flushing is $118. The new Fairfield Inn that is within walking distance of the last scheduled bar is still $159. So make sure you have your Mariott RewardsTM card in your wallet tomorrow and get ready to get fucked up.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

CPC IS NEXT FRIDAY: Sign Up At Official CPCCPC Event Page on Facebook

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=36199873710

Text of the announcement:

In 2006, I wrote: "What better way to explore the fiber of the community that created the Bellinger boys than through drinking? Hard work, racism, culturally reinforced ignorance, factories, pizza, violence, salt water, bad bus service, jet fuel odor, football/baseball/hockey, that's what College Point is."

Since then, many have joined me for the Thanksgiving weekend slosh-fest where we smoke illegally in bars, trash Sports Gardens, commiserate with the locals, and eat lots of Go-Go Taquitos. No one has yet been hurt, beaten, or robbed. It's just good, clean fun in a very interesting, dynamically changing New York City neighborhood.

The Third Annual CPC^2 will take place on Friday, November 28, beginning with dinner at the Five Corners German restaurant (if it's still in business). The Five Corners is on the Q25 bus route, which you can pick up from the terminus of the IRT #7 line at Main Street, Flushing.

I need a head count to determine whether we'll need hotel room(s). There are half a dozen new hotels in the area priced around $140 for the night.

Visit the official "website" of the CPC at http://www.rbellinger.com/blog/labels/cpccpc.html
-----------------------------------------
ALL ARE WELCOME. I only invited you if I thought you'd show up.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

CPCCPCIII

That's the College Point Class Conflict Pub Crawl III.

Before I get started on my Michigan photonovella, I'd like to confirm that the Third Annual CPC2 will take place on Friday, November 28, beginning with dinner at the Five Corners German restaurant (if it's still in business).

The bar route has lost Halligan's once again. Those on the first CPC will recall that it was seized by the NYPD and sealed. The bar was open last year, but it's out of business once again.

Details on past CPC activity can be accessed here.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

View from the Whitestone Bridge, New York City


I took this shot from my parents' minivan as they drove to Boston for the first time in five years and three months, last weekend.

I grew up just beyond the left extremity of the frame in the Queens neighborhood of College Point. In this shot we've got some gravel barges coming down the East River and a freight train crossing the Hell Gate Bridge in the background. LaGuardia is just out of site beyond Riker's Island.

From ages 14-17 I commuted to Regis High School in Manhattan, buried in the Upper East Side skyline behind the Hell Gate Bridge.

The repeated journey from one edge of this frame to the other and back is basically what my entire life is about.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

What will be opposite SkyViewParc in the new Flushing?

Apparently this.


This is River Park Place, being developed by Lev Real Estate. The warehouses that were there disappeared about a year ago.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

The Ruination of College Point

This is replacing this.

The gray house in the second picture is my grandmother's.

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Oh, that's why they built that giant building with a blank facade in LIC.

Pretty brick building being torn down and replaced by 42-story condo tower. The new tower will align with the new office building you can see pictured at the preceding link.

Check out the laughably blank and highly offensive 42-story cinder block wall behind the little brick house--it's currently visible from Queens but not from Manhattan. Developers to Queens: fuck you! die!

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Friday, January 25, 2008

College Point's Random, 6-story Korean Spa

Featured in the Times.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Building up in Queens and Brooklyn.

For years, I've been talking about the renaissance that awaits Downtown Flushing. Right now, cranes dominate the skyline. CitiField has risen in Shea's parking lot. On the south side of Roosevelt Ave, a massive development has been steadily rising. SkyViewParc is the recently-given name of the project, which will meld retail, lots of parking, and really expensive condos. I have to wonder what will appear on the north side of Roosevelt at the Flushing River, where a large warehouse was recently demolished.

Closer to Main Street Station, Downtown Flushing is also gaining more of an "acceptable" appeal as the city's second Chinatown, with a recent proliferation of Vietnamese, Malaysian, and pan-Asian eateries. Here's a neighborhood that was a largely white ethnic shopping district in the 80s, an insular Korean and Chinese community through the 90s, and now boasts many new buildings, gleaming, new restaurants and banks, and many, many more signs in English! When I was a high school student, I did what everyone else did on Main Street: got off the bus and got on the subway. Now, I look forward to eating my way through the neighborhood on subsequent return trips to New York.

No word on the progress of Flushing Commons.

Meanwhile, over in Billyburg, the Domino Sugar refinery just received landmark status. Next door, the massive EDGE project is almost complete. Loft conversions and new loft buildings are going up everywhere. Between the shoreline and the BQE, incongruous condo towers stick out like sore, suffocating thumbs above the wooden rowhouses. Hipsters, who looked comical in 2004, and now look positively fucking ridiculous, dominate Bedford Ave.

Further down on the Southside, the formerly bleak corner I lived on (where Serpico gets shot in the face) now features a retail bank and the neighborhood's second Brooklyn Industries store. And the most extreme irony of all: the illegally zoned Hasidic cellphone store I lived behind is now a cigar bar.

Progress is fast; progress is expensive. In New York, it may be faster and more expensive than anywhere else in North America.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

banishing exile

teeming and pregnant with chaos, the original muse communicates through gaudy stainless, timeless neon, third rail sparks. the possibilities are suffocating.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

CPCCPCII!

Fin. Big crowd.

Pics sooner or later.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

CPCCPC UPDATE

Already tipsy from two $4 half-liter Spaten Oktoberfests at the Five Corners, where Rock the Bartender suggested that we hit up the College Point Yacht Club for a good, cheap beer. He says 131 is "a good place to get your ass kicked," confirming my suspicions. People are dropping from the CPCCPC roster left and right. I don't know what to make of that. I went to Amore for lunch, and I'm headed to Cascarino's for dinner.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

OFFICIAL TRAVELOGUE OF THE FIRST ANNUAL COLLEGE POINT CLASS CONFLICT PUB CRAWL, HELD ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2006

Travelogue by Rob; Linked Photos by Dan

"You's are gonna end up in the hospital," said dad. I was beginning to think that this could be my worst idea of 2006. There was the trans-Canadian roadtrip that almost left me dead. I had already subjected myself to 20+ coach class business flights and had another 20+ to look forward to. But alco-cultural tourism in blue collar Queens?

I didn't believe it could happen until people started showing up in College Point the night after Thanksgiving.

When the small crowd reached critical mass--five--out we went. C-Mike, Althea, Meade, Rob "Mole" Gestone, and I set out through the sleepy, suburban streets of North College Point, the nicest part of the neighborhood. As we approached the Pour House (formerly the College Point Ale House), walking downhill on a narrow sidewalk, feelings of nervous excitement took hold of each of us. Would we be beaten by the bullies of our grade school days? Robbed by the bands of thugs who hang out in front of the neighborhood's 25+ delis 365 days per year?

We found the Pour House a legitimately quaint and nicely appointed corner bar in a residential hood known for haircuts and Korean-Italian subs. The only people in the place also worked there, and they were confused by out-of-state IDs. Every drink cost five bucks, but there was quite a selection. After a round of beers that we would not see again for the rest of the night, like Sam Adams and Bass, we received free Thanksgiving shots of some sticky Schnapps mixture, served in tiny plastic shot cups. C-Mike played RHCP's "Me and My Friends" on the digital jukebox--the Official Song of the CPCCPC. A flyer in the bathroom advertised the Thursday Night City Worker Special , but there were no city workers there to study. Things started well--no conflict.

Up the hill we marched, past the Poppenhusen Monument. Dan spotted this puke in the street and photographed a conspicuous hurricane evacuation sign (these showed up all over the city after 9/11). At 14th Avenue, two of C-Mike's friends from far, far away met up with us, just outside the North Fork Bank (formerly College Point Savings Bank). All marveled at the large and fake liberty bell in the bank. There, as children, we were frequently scolded for leaving handprints on said bell.

The POINT BAR & GRILL experience reminded me of the shady watering hole Homer Simpson finds himself in after Moe steals the Flaming Homer recipe--the place where the barkeep calls him "Your Majesty" for complaining about a huge stain on his glass. The Point Bar and Grill, which has since closed, had been described by the parents as "a real alcoholic's place." We had always passed by as children, and the mother pointed out the "filthy drunks" on the bar steps as examples of societal maladies that we should never become. In 2006, the bar, nestled tightly between a copy shop and a shoe repair shop on the first floor of an apartment building, looked more weathered than ever before. An unlit, faded sign hung over the brick facade. Two Mexican-looking dudes smoked cigarettes on the steps and let us in. Inside, there were a few more Mexican-looking dudes and an anorexic, elderly biker dude with long yellow hair and a compatible-looking chick on each arm. Behind the bar, in a state of apparent permaconfusion, was a tall, stocky dude in a GNR t-shirt.

Someone asked for a pitcher. The bartender dude said: "This is the Point Bar and Grill. You're lucky if we have a dirty glass." And so I ordered something in a bottle, a cider. For the next hour or so, we took pisses in a steel trough, wondered why there was an old treadmill in the empty back room, and watched as a gimpy old man brought 6-packs of Heineken up from the basement. We talked with the barkeep about his shirt. He was psyched to be seeing Axl at the Garden the next week. When we had taken in the scene, we realized that faced a dilemma.

Did we trek up 14th Ave to the residential metal bar, according to the original plan, or move down CP Blvd to two recently discovered bars? We chose the latter, arriving at Rob Roy Spirit's [sic] in just a few minutes. Inside the surprisingly nice place, very drunk drunks played pool. We swarmed the 40something lady behind the bar, and presented IDs from Jersey, Mass, Kansas. "You's are from everywhere!" she said. Then she poured $1.50 worth of Coors into whatever she could find. There weren't enough pint glasses to serve all seven of us, so various plastic cups were employed. Our team employed a dollar-per-drink tipping procedure, leading the barkeep to exclaim to her drunk friends, "They're big tippas!"

This time, the digijuke played "My Lovely Man," another RHCP tune. Carrying my Coors from the bar, I stepped aside as a huge, undercover cop-looking dude fired off the final, triumphant shot of a pool game. He turned to me, shook my hand, and said "thanks fa movin'" all slurred with a sickly drunk smile.

Suddenly I was talking to a short teamster about Somerville, Mass, my adopted hometown. He reached into his pocket and produced his birth certificate, proving that he was, in fact, born blocks from Somerville City Hall. He ended up in New York City and settled in the neighborhood because "College Point is really the last holdout for people of our kind." He elaborated, confirming my suspicion that "our kind" meant white people who play baseball and hockey. The teamster then gave a very lengthy oration on the quality of the new city-owned sports complex and the neighborhood's entire coaching staff.

Though we hoped to play pool, the pool tables were taken. We'd have liked a game of darts, but the bar's darts had been stolen. We moved south.

At the corner of College Point Boulevard and 23rd Avenue stand two bars, a pizza shop, and a 7-11. Around 1:30 a.m., six drunk, young-looking people on foot stormed into the 7-11 and bought disgusting Buffalo Taquitos. The Southeast Asian clerks looked confused and nervous, as did the sole other customer, a counterfeit Far East Queens hipster. The air of nervousness was dispelled as the revelers walked out into the night and the retail environment regained its characteristic silence and uninterrupted fluorescent glow.

JP's on the Boulevard, "A place to meet your friends," had been closed and sealed by the NYPD, so we couldn't drink there. Across the boulevard and up 23rd Ave. stood a squat and small and previously unknown bar I had discovered the day before: the Sports Garden. In this small bar we were to spend the rest of the night. Debbie, the raspy-voiced barkeep, drank heavily and jokingly harassed everyone in the bar. She didn't believe any of us were over 21, as people in College Point look far older than they are. She kept the conversation going with racist jokes--or at least, she tried to. Some people seated at the far end of the bar claimed they were part owners and bought us a round of shots, again in those tiny plastic cups. We did not reciprocate. There was a small, fenced-in patio outside the bar, littered with wet deck furniture reflecting sodium-vapor yellow in the chilly off-season night. I'm pretty sure everyone pissed in this desolate sports garden. We stayed at this bar a long time, then ordered up a livery cab to take our visitors back to the subway in Flushing.

But the Q65 bus, which never comes when you need it to, and which only runs every 90 minutes in the overnight period, showed right up. Our visitors piled in and headed home. C-Mike, Althea, and I did the long walk home, through the 3 a.m. mist, louder and rowdier than perhaps we had ever been in sleepy College Point. I made the mistake of running over a parked Crown Vic, falling off, and busting my knee, but I made it home to put up this post, and I lived to spread the glory of the first CPCCPC while planning the second.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Perfect winter weather for CPCCPCII

NOAA reports that we'll have a clear, precipitation-free evening, with temperatures falling from about 40 to the upper 20s. I'm excited, and there will supposedly be a lot of people, but few bothered to sign up.

See Dan Meade's Flickr Slideshow of last year's journey.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

COLLEGE POINT CLASS CONFLICT PUB CRAWL II: THE MAP [UPDATED]

Map has been updated and now features more CP landmarks as well as better integration of satellite imagery. Placemarkers are now 100% accurate.

Zoomable and clickable. Enjoy...



View Larger Map

This is the first customized Google Map featured here!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Queens Visit Culinary Hitlist

  • Blue Bay Diner (chicken scampi over rice with ice-cold iceberg salad)
  • Amore Pizza (2 slices with pink drink)
  • Cascarino's (chicken staiano)
  • Le Cheesecake's brownies
  • if possible, Chinese Mexican quesadilla with ketchup-based "salsa" (easier to get in Manhattan)
  • Five Guys cheeseburger with malt vinegar-doused fries

That should leave room for one home-cooked meal.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Should the College Point Pub Crawl start earlier this year?

Last year we went from 9pm-3am but had to skip an entire leg.

Maybe 8pm isn't early enough. Thoughts?

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

College Point Pub Crawl II Sign Up Sheet--UPDATED

Details here.
Now aiming for an 8pm (TENTATIVE!) start at the Pour House, Friday after Thanksgiving.


Please sign up by commenting.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Front Yard, Glendale, Queens


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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Meanwhile, Back in Queens.... (click image below)


Check out the overlaid notes (scroll over) and interesting comments my point&shoot aerial of this well-traveled intersection have drawn out of Flickrites.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Willets Point

Via metsblog, of all places, comes news that the Bloomburg administration has announced its mammoth plan for the eradication/gentrification of scrapyards in Corona/Flushing, Queens.

Remember, in ten years, when all the public-private development in Flushing is done, it will be the city's fourth (maybe fifth) downtown. Awesome.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Urban Filth in the Sunday Times

This week, the City section takes the "road not taken, much" for a tour of "the antithesis of ultrahip New York." A food writer walks Jamaica Avenue in Brooklyn and Queens and reports on the human and architectural oddities that make up 80% of New York City.

There is also a real news article on the slow-going approval process for Flushing Commons, the massive development project about to happen in the Downtown Flushing neighborhood of Queens.

Here's an image of that plan that I linked to the blog in July of 2005:

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

College Point Christmas Eve

Two months after the fact, you're invited to explore this Flickr photoset.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Christmas Evening

My block in Queens on Christmas evening.


Now that I've learned of the simple "handshake" between Flickr and Blogger, I'm going to post many more pictures on the blog (I used to FTP them to rbellinger.com).

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