Before I go out for some much-deserved ice cream on this beautiful spring day, just a quick note to let you know that the new Central Queens community site I’ve been working on, Queens Central, is officially up. Go and enjoy!
I’ve been spending more or less all my free time working on Queens Central, the kickin’ new Central Queens community site that’s going to make Time Out New York sorry they called us hillbillies this week. It’s taking a while because building a new blog theme from the ground up and integrating it with a message-board system turns out to be kind of a big job. But I still think it might — might — be ready to go at some point this weekend. Don’t quote me on that.
In any event, this is shaping up to be fairly big. I think — I hope — you’ll like it. I seriously can’t wait to launch it. I expect a user base ready and willing to contribute no fewer than the 750 or so forum posts Astorians.com gets on any given day. Maybe I should open a hipster coffee house to promote it. The community site comes first, then the cafe, right?
I finally saw Sunday’s season premiere of HBO’s Entourage last night. Previously on Entourage, Queens boy made good Vinnie Chase won critical acclaim for starring in an indie flick called “Queens Boulevard.” Now Vince’s brother, Johnny Drama, has landed a leading role in a new NBC drama from Valley Stream native Ed Burns, “Five Towns.”
Is Entourage going to name a fictional project after every place I’ve ever lived? Here are some other names the writers might want to use for new TV shows and movies, and why they should seriously consider them:
Sutton Place. I got my apartment in this Manhattan neighborhood through New York real-estate monolith and serial gentrifier The Corcoran Group. Entourage star Adrian Grenier’s mother sells real estate for The Corcoran Group. Ergo, Adrian Grenier’s mother has probably sold real estate in Sutton Place.
Evanston. I went to college here, but Entourage scene stealer and critical darling Jeremy Piven grew up in this Chicago-abutting suburb, where his parents spent decades running a prestigious theater program that produced the Cusacks, among others.
Atwater Village. Vince and his pals undoubtedly spend some time in the celebrity-infused L.A. neighborhood of Los Feliz. Atwater Village is right next door, but grittier, and they totally go for that.
Also eligible: Greenwich Village, That Neighborhood in Brooklyn Where I Lived Until Age 2 and My Parents Can’t Even Remember What It Was Called, Merrick, Atlantic Beach (Little-known fact: Sonny lived there in The Godfather!).
I’m hard at work at the new Central Queens community site, which I can now officially tell the world will be located at queenscentral.com (get it?), but I’ve got a little problem. I want a banner up top cycling through a few Central Queens photos, but it’s tough to find copyright-free pictures. In the past, I would have just stolen something, but though non-commercial, this is a little too big an undertaking for that. Plus what if I want to stick up a couple of Google text ads at some point?
I’ve taken a bunch of photos of Forest Hills myself, but I’m not a good photographer and I have nothing of Kew Gardens, Rego Park or Briarwood. So I’m turning to you, the Internet. Do you have any good photos of these neighborhoods, and will you grant me unconditional permission to use them in any way I see fit? Take one for the team, if you will? I can promise you will get attribution on the homepage whenever your photo appears, along with a link to whatever you want.
In related news, don’t buy web hosting without first googling for coupons. Seriously, at $48, that was easily the most valuable Google search I ever made.
Serphin Maltese is, thankfully, not my state senator, but he does represent some of Forest Hills as part of his oddly shaped district (warning: PDF), which bizarrely includes some but not all of Forest Hills Gardens, about as cohesive and homogeneous a neighborhood unit as I can imagine. In one of the great paradoxes of local politics, he’s widely known as one of the most conservative members of the New York State Senate despite representing one of the most liberal districts around — he’s been in power since 1989 and has been re-elected nine times. But the tide might be turning. (Oh, God, must resist making horrible “serf/surf” pun.) In 2002 no Democrat deigned to run against him, and he ended up getting a dictatorial 94 percent of the vote. But last year, facing an underfunded unknown whom the Democrats would barely acknowledge, he barely scraped by just 783 votes.
Now rumor has it Eliot Spitzer has decreed Maltese is going down in 2008, and he probably will. But my big question: What took so long? It’s truly amazing how people will continue to vote for someone who doesn’t share their interests or values just because he shows up to cut ribbons and shakes their hand. But that’s politics, isn’t it?
Now to think up a title for this post. No! Can’t use a surf pun! Can’t do it! Can’t do it! Must resist! No — resistance … weakening … I must … but I cannot …
I am in dire need of a raison d’etre, and I’m increasingly thinking I’d like to start a community website covering Forest Hills. I’m talking blog, message boards, that sort of thing. Frankly, we’ve got nothing. I’ve been poring over sites like the excellent Astorians and QueensWest.com and seething with insane jealousy. I really, really think this neighborhood is worthy of something like that. Forest Hills NY is confusing and had its last post in January, and the Forest Hills Forum is mostly real-estate flames. Meanwhile, we have some excellent local bloggers, like Sarah of Avenue Food, but I don’t know of anyone who’s blogging about Forest Hills on a regular basis.
New York Magazine’s Neighborhood Watch archives have exactly zero entries on Forest Hills. That’s shameful, and we need to fix it. Basically, I’d like to try to build a sense of community around here among people who do more than just complain.
I’m pretty sure I’m going to do this, and I think I can already envision it. My only question: How wide-ranging should this be? I feel like anything covering just Forest Hills would die on the vine — not enough people would be interested in visiting and contributing. But how far do we go? I’m thinking “Central Queens” — but what is Central Queens? The Queens Chronicle, sadly the most authoritative source I could find, defines it as Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and Briarwood. But should we cast an even wider net? How about southeast to Richmond Hill and Jamaica? West to Elmhurst and even Jackson Heights?
Would anybody be interested in this? Would you like to contribute? What areas would you like to see covered? Is anybody there? (I would be so pleasantly surprised if I got any answers.)
I have a hard time thinking of a neighborhood less fashionable than Locust Manor, Queens — even the name is terrible — but these days, even Locust Manor merits sexy new condos worthy of being advertised alongside all the Hudson-adjacent Jersey megaplexes in today’s Metro Wednesday real-estate section. Things I especially like about Locust Manor Estates:
- The gutsy phone number, 888-FOR-LOCUST
- The logo, which seems designed to convey the message, “We’re talking about the tree, not the horrifying swarming insect”
- The existence of a “Senior Living” page on its website, which you can bet fellow Metro Wednesday advertiser Trump Tower Jersey City‘s site wouldn’t offer, despite its video of a pretty abysmal-looking Donald on the homepage
- The spelling of “Comming Soon” on the aforementioned page
Most of all, though, I like LME’s page on “The Community,” which looks unappealing enough that maybe they just should’ve discreetly left it out. Particularly great is the “Entertainment” section — and yes, those are sarcastic quotes — which lists seven attractions, including a batting range conveniently located right behind my old high school and nowhere near Locust Manor.
Next up to get luxury condos will be — oh, wait. I don’t think there’s anywhere left.