Tag Archives: Astoria

Live multimedia trivia game show to begin in Astoria next month


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ryan Muir

Astoria will soon become the Queens home of a unique trivia experience that looks to engage audience members through the use of multimedia.

The Big Quiz Thing, a trivia show which was started 12 years ago in Manhattan and has since expanded to other states, has announced it will begin its residency in Astoria on Aug. 4 at Q.E.D., located at 27-16 23rd Ave.

On the first Tuesday of every month at 7:30 p.m., The Big Quiz Thing will take the stage featuring live categories such as the Lighting Round, the Text Message Challenge, the Buzzertastic Finale, Smart-Ass Points for wrong but funny answers, and “figureoutable” trivia questions, where people will be able to work together with team members to piece together answers.

Topics for questions include everything from pop culture and sports to geography and science. There will also be a video round where audience members have to figure out the title of a movie after watching a movie clip, and an audio puzzle where T.V. theme songs have been sped up and guests have 20 seconds to identify them.

According to creator Noah Tarnow, who writes all the questions for the show and will be hosting the Aug. 4 show, everyone who attends the show participates in some level and everyone is divided into groups. Most of the show is played while audience members are in their seats and interact through an app/website where people can play through their smartphones or tablets.

“I think our game is fun even if you don’t do well,” Tarnow said. “I have a lot of regular teams that almost never win and they come back again and again because they have a fun time anyway. It’s more about having a good time than winning or losing.”

The Big Quiz Thing also has its own TV game show which can be seen here.

Prizes include items from Birch Coffee, the Brooklyn Museum, the Morbid Anatomy Museum, the Real Escape Game, Scott’s Pizza Tours and Brooklyn Brainer.

Tarnow added that with their new Queens residency, he is looking to soon include prizes from local Queens and Astoria businesses as well.

Tickets for the show are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. For more information, visit QEDAstoria.com or BigQuizThing.com.

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Themed popup bar serving craft cocktails coming to Sunnyside


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Matthew Callahan

Something refreshing is popping up at a Sunnyside restaurant looking to celebrate the long days of summer.

Behind The Wood, an Astoria-based beverage consulting company, is coming together with Venturo Osteria & Wine Bar, located at 44-07 Queens Blvd., to bring the Behind The Wood Popup Bar starting this Friday and Saturday.

The popup bar, which will be open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. every weekend in the summer, will have a “summer solstice” theme featuring a summer-driven drink menu filled with craft cocktails all created fresh in house, homemade/refurbished décor, music, and different events such as a move night.

The drink menu will feature two parts. The top part will include four original drinks that are inspired by summer and the bottom half will be the “back to basics section” where guests will be able to also try variations of classic drinks.

The idea of the bar came after the owner of Venturo approached Behind The Wood co-owners Scott Scaffidi and Mashia Baldwin, who have more than 30 years combined in the hospitality industry, and said regulars to the restaurant were looking for a local place to get drinks.

Behind The Wood co-owners Mashia Baldwin and Scott Scaffidi.

Behind The Wood co-owners Mashia Baldwin and Scott Scaffidi

Behind The Wood — which for the past two years has offered establishments services such as cocktail menu development; staff and management training; juice, house-made syrups and ice; bar equipment and tools; spirits recommendations; and bar design — had worked with Venturo before when it just opened and decided to help create the popup bar.

The bar will remain opened after the summer with the theme changing in the fall and then changing every two months. There will be a holiday theme around November and December, and possibly a tiki bar theme in the winter.

According to Scaffidi, the popup bar will also serve as a way for him and Baldwin to test the waters with future plans of opening their own establishment in Queens.

“The idea is that down the line we would like to open our own brick-and-mortar bar,” said Scott Scaffidi. “We are using this as a test kitchen to see how people respond and in that way it can be exciting for guests.”

For more information visit www.behindthewood.nyc.

Photo courtesy of Scott Scaffidi and Mashia Baldwin.

Photo courtesy of Scott Scaffidi and Mashia Baldwin

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The top five outdoor eateries along Astoria’s 30th Avenue


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Butcher Bar

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

30th Avenue in Astoria is one of the hottest strips for dining and nightlife in Queens. With summer in full swing, check out our picks for the top five outdoor eateries for dining al fresco in the heart of the neighborhood.

Butcher Bar
37-10 30th Ave.
718-606-8140

This purveyor of grass-fed, organic grain finished beef is part old-school butcher shop, part BBQ smokehouse vending high-quality cuts of meat, such as antibiotic- and hormone-free organic chicken, heritage pork, beef and traditional meat products. Hungry patrons can opt to purchase meat to cook at home, or they can stay and dine in Butcher Bar’s backyard garden complete with long, family-style wooden picnic tables, bold red canvas umbrellas and strings of cozy Edison lightbulb lanterns.

Photo courtesy of the Facebook page of Butcher Bar

Photo via Butcher Bar Facebook page

Dishes like the saucy yet sweet “meat candy” beef burnt ends ($13.50), half-baked mac and cheese ($10.99) Philly cheese brisket ($13.50) and tender St. Louis-style house smoked dry rubbed ribs ($19.99 half rack; $34.99 full) have earned Butcher Bar notoriety and a cult-like following. Stars of the new summertime bottomless brunch are the candied bacon and the smoked brisket hash with country gravy. Butcher Bar’s expertly prepared meats can also be found outdoors at the LIC Flea every Saturday and Sunday until the end of October.

Grand Café
37-01 30th Ave.
718-777-7321

Photo courtesy of Grand Cafe

Photo courtesy of Grand Cafe

Sunlight and summer breezes waft into Grand Café’s exotic appointed dining room through large glass doors that open out onto ample sidewalk seating. The azure umbrellas, canvas chairs, exotic plants and palms create the feeling of dining outdoors in a quaint seaside resort town along the Aegean Sea without ever having to leave Astoria. Early birds will want to visit this Mediterranean eatery and sample the Cypriot omelette ($7.25), a mix of loukaniko, halloumi and tomato, while sipping the Early Riser ($9), an organic cold pressed juice blend of pineapple, pear, apple and mint. Lunch options include an impressive list of fresh salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers and savory crepes, as well as an organic Greek yogurt bar. The specially seasoned lamb burger ($13.50), served with spicy feta on a seven-grain roll, is another great pick.

Antika Restaurant and Pizzeria
36-08 30th Ave.
718-545-0555

Photo courtesy of the Facebook page of Antika Restaurant and Pizzeria

Photo via Antika Pizzeria’s Facebook page

This Neapolitan-style brick oven pizzeria uses only the finest ingredients to bring the authentic flavor of Naples to Astoria. Patrons can opt to slide into one the red leather banquets that line the exposed brick walls of Antika’s cozy dining room, or they can dine outside at one of six tables beneath the bold red canvas awning for the experience of an Italian piazza on a tree-lined street in Queens. Antika is best known for its old-fashioned, Grandma-style square pizza ($21) made with fresh San Marzano tomatoes and Grana Padano pecorino cheese. The prosciutto pizza dough sandwich ($14), which features prosciutto di Parma, fresh mozzarella and olive oil in a balsamic reduction, is another great choice.

Sugar Freak
36-18 30th Ave.
718-726-5850

Photo courtesy of Sugar Freak

If you’re seeking authentic Louisiana-style comfort food in the heart of the city, Sugar Freak delivers. Start out with a bowl of Creole French onion Soup ($9), chili honey-infused hush puppies ($8) or popcorn alligator served with Creole mustard and grape jelly ($12). Sugar Freak’s extensive dinner menu features a delectable roster of New Orleans favorites like po’boys ($10-16), beer can chicken with sweet potato waffles ($17), jambalaya ($15) and crawfish etouffee ($18). Wash down all of this spicy goodness with a libation from their newly updated cocktail list, including the classic hurricane ($8), Creole bloody mary ($8) or swamp juice ($8), a potent blend of vodka, Triple Sec, Blue Curaçao, pineapple and orange juice complete with gummy worm garnish. Sugar Freak’s eclectic mix of antique chandeliers, corrugated tin ceiling and delicately roped-off sidewalk patio complete with cafe chairs and vintage floral linens impart a rustic, homespun vibe that is both inviting and inspired.

William Hallet
36-10 30th Ave.
718-269-3443

Photo courtesy of the Facebook page of William Hallet

Photo via William Hallet’s Facebook page

This laid-back, American-style bistro features both weekend brunch and late-night drinks in a cozy, intimate setting. Enjoy a craft beer or weekend brunch favorites like the duck sausage hash ($15) or crab cake benedict ($16) while seated outdoors at one of several cozy café tables. William Hallet’s slow-cooked brisket ($16) served with grilled zucchini hush puppies, deviled egg salad and charmoula is the perfect summertime feast. Classic cocktails are also available. Try the guava lemonade ($10), blueberry smash ($10) or The Outerboro ($11), a flavorful mix of scotch, dry vermouth, grapefruit bitters and Swedish Punsch. Stay up-to-date on William Hallet’s special events here.

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Astoria’s Museum of the Moving Image to present exhibit examining cats online


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of The Infinite Cat Project

Updated Monday, July 20 

Cats lovers, unite.

Next month, the Museum of the Moving Image, located at 36-01 35th Ave. in Astoria, will launch a five-month exhibition called How Cats Took Over the Internet, looking at how these furry felines have mesmerized a generation of online users with their quirky actions and adorable looks.

The exhibit, which runs from Aug. 7 through Jan. 31, 2016, will examine the history of the growing popularity of online cat-centric content while taking a look at things such as Caturday, lolcats, cat videos, celebrity cats and more.

“The Internet’s collective obsession with cats offers a window into the way we understand ourselves. This exhibition examines the many reasons for this deceptively frivolous phenomenon and highlights the new ways we’re creating, consuming and sharing culture,” said Jason Eppink, associate curator of digital media, who organized the exhibition.

How Cats Took Over the Internet will include a video screening at the museum’s amphitheater and features a gallery including a selection of Internet cat videos, GIFs and images that take a critical look at subjects such as anthropomorphism, the aesthetics of cuteness, the Bored at Work Network and the rise of user-generated content.

Together with the video screening, there will also be a selection of cat videos projected in a continuous loop, organized by Will Braden, curator of the Internet Cat Video Festival in Minneapolis.

There will also be a multimedia timeline capturing the significant moments of cats online, joined with a historical looks at the representation of cats in photos, film and other visual media.

The exhibition will also feature interactive stations where visitors will be able to create their own lolcats and contribute their favorite cat photos, GIFs and videos to the exhibition. There will also be a world map of international animal memes by The Civic Beat, a collective of researchers and writers focused on civic technology.

As part of the various live events that will occur throughout the five months, on Oct. 10 there will be The Cat-vant Garde Film Show in the Sumner M. Redstone Theater. This show will focus on how cats have inspired experimental films such as “Nightcats,” “Cat’s Cradle,” “Catfood,” “How to Draw a Cat,” and more. Other programs will be announced later on.

The Museum of the Moving Image is open Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on the weekends from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, visit www.movingimage.us.

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Astoria filmmakers turn to Kickstarter to fund ‘dialogue-free,’ 12-part film


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image courtesy of Cynthia Angel

Two Astoria filmmakers are hoping to reach their goal that will allow them to set an acclaimed music producer’s debut solo album to film.

Cynthia Angel and Dominic Lahiff, the minds behind D L A Films, are coming together with producer Neil Davidge – known for his work with Massive Attack, and the “Halo 4” video game – to create the mystery revenge thriller audiovisual film “Slo Light.”

They turned to Kickstarter, with a goal of $70,000, to raise funds needed for the preproduction, production and post-production of the film.

Since launching on Thursday, the campaign has already raised $5,156.

“It’s been a really interesting process. We’ve been working on it for two years,” said Angel, whose dream has been to produce her own film. “We’re really excited and happy to be able to reach an audience and make it happen. The story is going to be really cool.”

The trio first came together when working on “Dark Universe” – in which Lahiff was the director/writer, Angel was the producer, and Davidge was the music producer – for the American Natural History Museum. The short film is narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson and is still on view at the Hayden Planetarium at the museum.

After this project, Angel and Lahiff were asked to work on a music video for Davidge and while working on the video developed the idea for a cinematic album. For the next year, Lahiff worked on a story for the film and the two filmmakers then got back together with Davidge.

“Our visions are aligned and we have the same taste and like working together, and from there stems the idea to make a film together,” Angel said about working with Lahiff.

The film will be divided into 12 chapters, which will be released online during the course of 12 weeks. Each chapter will be set to a track from Davidge’s debut album, “Slo Light.” It will have no dialogue and will be shot in 35mm film.

Screen Shot Slo Light

“We want to keep that [35mm] format alive. A lot of times people think film is too expensive so we want to prove that it can still be done and make a beautiful film,” Angel said.

For Angel, creating this film is a dream come true because she always hoped to be able to produce her own film.

“It feels amazing, it’s kind of terrifying but really exciting at the same time but it feels really good. I feel all the experiences I’ve gained throughout the years have led up to this moment,” Angel said.

If their project is fully funded, the plans are to shoot the film in the fall, with a slated release date for early spring of 2016.

For more information or to donate to the Kickstarter campaign, click here. To stay updated on the project visit twitter.com/slolightfilmfacebook.com/slolightfilm or dlafilms.com.

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VIDEO & PHOTOS: George Clinton gets funky at Queensbridge Park performance


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Angy Altamirano

With the Queensboro Bridge as the backdrop, the “godfather of funk” took the stage at Queensbridge Park Wednesday during a night filled with laughter and dancing.

About a thousand people flocked to the Long Island City waterfront park, located along Vernon Boulevard, to catch George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic during a free performance as part of SummerStage’s 30th anniversary summer festival.

The group, which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, performed classics such as “Give Up The Funk,” “Not Just Knee Deep,” “Maggot Brain,” “One Nation Under A Groove,” “Flashlight,” “Aquaboogie,” “P.Funk (Wants to Get Funked Up)” and many more.

Fans danced and sang along with the songs as Clinton jumped on stage with other group members.

Clinton has been referred to as one of the trendsetters of funk music and known for revolutionizing R&B during the ’70s. Parliament Funkadelic recorded three platinum albums and had over 40 R&B hit singles. Through the ’80s the group recorded as the P-Funk All Stars.


Wednesday night’s concert is part of a six-day festival taking place at eight local parks. The night before, Queensbridge Park presented the musical group Chi-Lites and on Thursday night it will host Large Professor (LP), a hip-hop songwriter, producer and DJ from Flushing, together with Marley Mark.

The performance was not Clinton’s first visit to Queens, as he came to the borough last October during a discussion and book signing event, for his memoir “Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard on You? : A Memoir,” at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.


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Astoria multifamily building on sale for $1.5M


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

A three-story, six-unit building near Astoria Park and the new Astoria Cove development site has hit the market, according to real estate company Cushman & Wakefield.

The multifamily building located at 429 27th Ave. in Astoria is being exclusively sold by Cushman & Wakefield and has an asking price $1,500,000.

The site contains about 4,080 square feet on a 20-foot-by-100-foot lot and the building consists of two two-bedroom units and four one-bedroom units. All are rent stabilized.

“The way Astoria’s waterfront is being developed will have such a positive impact on the properties in the near vicinity, so we are seeing a lot of interest in that part of the neighborhood,” said David Chkheidze of Cushman & Wakefield, who is exclusively marketing this property with Ilya Tolmasov.

“This building offers tremendous upside potential in an area that is rapidly emerging,” Tolmasov added.

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Councilman starts petition for traffic safety improvements surrounding Astoria Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Katrina Medoff

After the life of a 21-year-old woman was cut short last month on her way home, one local politician is putting his foot down and asking Astoria residents to join the fight to bring safety improvements in and around Astoria Park.

Councilman Costa Constantinides started a petition Monday calling for improvements to be made on streets such as Shore Boulevard, Ditmars Boulevard, 19th Street and Hoyt Avenue South.

“The streets surrounding Astoria Park are a dangerous stretch for pedestrians. The corridor is used by many families and children on the way to the park. All the while, many motorists race to and from the park at high rates of speed. A recent hit-and-run death that occurred in the area shows that we need better traffic safety,” Constantinides said. “We have made great strides recently in calming traffic in Astoria through safety improvements on 21st Street south of Hoyt Avenue and through the upcoming slow zone south of Astoria Boulevard. That’s why I have started a petition to support traffic improvements on the streets in and around Astoria Park. I look forward to working with DOT to make Astoria a safer place to live.”

The petition comes after Betty DiBiasio was struck on June 28 by a car as she was crossing a marked crosswalk at the intersection of Ditmars Boulevard and 19th Street, just blocks from her home.

The car, which was being driven by 24-year-old Astoria resident Nicholas Colleran, drove through a stop sign and then struck DiBiasio, according to officials.

Colleran allegedly called 911 about an hour after the accident to report that his car had been stolen and in his vehicle theft investigation report claimed it had been taken from a parking lot in the back of his residence. The vehicle was discovered in another location in Astoria with a broken windshield and driver’s side-view mirror, and a damaged driver’s side front fender.

There also appeared to be blood and hair in the driver’s side windshield, where it was broken, and, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, was consistent with a vehicle striking a pedestrian and the pedestrian hitting the windshield.

Colleran then turned himself into the police where he admitted that he had two beers before driving and striking DiBiasio and then leaving the scene.

He was charged with leaving the scene of an incident without reporting a death, third-degree falsely reporting an incident, failure to stop for a stop sign, driving by an unlicensed operator, failure to exercise due care and a violation of the city’s administrative code.

To sign Constantinides’ petition, click here.

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Swingtime Big Band to perform as part of Astoria Park concert series


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES file photo

BY KIRSTEN E. PAULSON

Swingtime Big Band will be performing swing-era music in Astoria Park on July 16 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the annual Central Astoria Local Development Coalition’s 2015 Waterfront Concert Series, which offers free weekly concerts through mid-August.

This 20-piece group, directed by Steven Shaiman, will play authentic recreations of the timeless swing music of Big Band leaders such as Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington and more.

According to the band’s website, the ensemble specializes in performing original arrangements of classic Big Band music, and bringing the style and spirit of the genre to life for 21st-century audiences. In 2007, the Big Band Hall of Fame recognized Swingtime as ambassadors of big band music for their efforts in “perpetuating, promoting and performing with integrity the sounds of the Big Band Era.”

Swingtime Big Band has performed in notable venues such as the Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, the Plaza Hotel, the Waldorf Astoria and Tavern on the Green.

The event is free and will take place on the Great Lawn of Astoria Park on Shore Boulevard, between the Hell Gate Bridge and the Astoria Pool. Attendees are advised to bring their own chairs or blankets.

Performances will continue on Thursday evenings from July 23 through August 13 and will feature Michael Patrick’s Ring of Fire Band, Time Was, Dancin’ Machine and Spitfire.

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Free summer festival featuring more than 60 performers coming to Astoria Park


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Astoria Music & Arts

Astoria Park will shine bright next month during a day-long festival featuring more than 60 live performers, visual artists and activities for all ages.

The nonprofit Astoria Music & Arts, which is committed to supporting the diverse artistic community throughout Astoria and Long Island City, will be holding the New World Queens Festival on Aug. 29 at Astoria Park.

From noon to 9 p.m., visitors will be able to enjoy the free event that will feature live music, visual arts, dancers, performance artists and interactive children’s events.

Music during the festival will include bossa nova, reggae, ska, R&B, rock, psychedelic, Americana, indie, funk, blue grass and Afro-Cuban.

“For over seven years, AM&A has brought music, art, dance, theater, comedy and film to the Astoria community, and this summer at Astoria Park we will be throwing the greatest music and arts festival in Astoria,” said Doris Cellar, director of operations for Astoria Music and Arts.

The festival, which is pet-friendly and will focus on eco-awareness, is also expected to feature a pie-eating contest by Astor Bake Shop, and a family fun dance party experience, sponsored by Little Club Heads, for children ages 1 to 12 and their parents.

Visitors will also be able to find a dance tent featuring Sol Dance Center, a puppet show by Wonder Spark from Raising Astoria, a giant Kaiju Big Battel monster and more.

For more information, email astoriamusicarts@gmail.com or visit www.astoriamusicandarts.org or www.facebook.com/Astoriamusicandarts.

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Costly corruption at Queens Library ran deep: comptroller’s audit


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

QUEENS COURIER/Photo by Anthony Giudice

Executives at the Queens Borough Public Library (QBPL) spent millions of dollars on themselves while claiming the library was in debt and reducing both staff and services, according to an audit that City Comptroller Scott Stringer revealed during a press conference Wednesday morning outside the Astoria public library.

The investigation revealed that Thomas Galante, former QBPL CEO and president as well as other library executives — including current interim CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey — spent over $300,000 on prohibited, extravagant items such as meals, alcohol, concert tickets and airline upgrades. The spending occurred all while library officials claimed the system was running a deficit, according to the audit.

“For years … Galante and his executive team used the library as their personal piggy banks,” Stringer said. “Today, that era is coming to a definitive close.”

Prior to this investigation, a stipulation put in place by a previous administration blocked the comptroller’s office from looking at any QBPL financial records, except for two funds that the library claimed had city money. This roadblock allowed library staff to spend money with impunity. In December 2014, a newly formed QBPL board of trustees fired Galante and voted to give Stringer’s office full access to library financial records.

Carl S. Koerner, chair of the Queens Library board of trustees, said in a statement Wednesday that Queens Library was working to reform the system from top to bottom.

“Like other investigations into the library’s finances over the past year, today’s audit confirms many disturbing practices of the library’s prior director and its complacent former trustees —which is why the current board reversed an earlier decision and unanimously voted to give the comptroller’s office full access to all of the library’s bank accounts,” Koerner said.

But Stringer pointed out that Galante’s interim replacement, Quinn-Carey, was also involved in unscrupulous spending of city funds, as noted in the audit.

“Former COO and interim CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey also made a number of prohibited purchases totaling more than $48,000, including $11,500 for food and booze, 70 gift cards and 22 charges worth $4,000 with no explanation at all,” Stringer said.

In addition to inappropriately spending, the comptroller noted, the library’s senior staff increased their salaries by seven percent and cut library operating hours during Galante’s tenure.

“As they were scaling back access to books, Internet and vital programs and services, they were lining their own pockets,” Stringer charged.

The audit found that during fiscal years 2008 to 2013, the library staff charged all of its operating expenses to the library’s “city fund” account, which is subject to review by the comptroller’s office. This led to the library to appear to be running a deficit that ranged from $5.7 to $6.9 million, which enabled Galante to ask the City Council for more funds, all while the library had between $17 to $27 million in unrestricted funds.

Library executives may also owe personal income tax on purchases made, and they may have made fraudulent purchases. Galante failed to disclose the three businesses that he owns on city integrity forms, only divulging the information when he learned of the audit.

The audit has been submitted to law enforcement agencies for further investigation and action, Stringer said.

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Astoria woman starts social media campaign to find beloved travel dinosaur ‘Walter’


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Tori Piper

One Astoria woman has turned to social media to find something that seems worthless but according to her has sentimental value.

The moment the sky over the Long Island City lit up with fireworks this weekend, Tori Piper’s heart sunk as she realized Walter, a dinosaur figurine that has been her travel companion for the past four years, was no longer with her.

Walter is a 3- to 4-inch-tall T. rex figure that was given to Piper as a present from a friend who knew of her love for dinosaurs. The Astoria resident has been collecting anything related to dinosaurs since she was a child.

During her first trip abroad to Russia during the winter Olympics, she decided to take Walter with her because he was small enough to travel with and helped her feel calm during the trip.

“It was my first time out of the country and I was really nervous. It was a whole new experience and I kind of needed a calming totem, something that I loved and could be with me. He was a little piece of home that was with me no matter what,” Piper said.

Since then, Walter and Piper have been inseparable, and Piper has even started an Instagram account documenting everywhere Walter has traveled. They have traveled to Russia, Ireland, and other parts of the United States, and the figurine even travels with Piper during her job in television and film.

“I can’t imagine traveling without him; I haven’t since I’ve had him,” Piper said. “When you travel you think, ‘Do I have my passport, the money that I need and my dinosaur?’ He is right there next to my passport.”

She even decided to take Walter along with her on July 4 to catch the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks on the Long Island City waterfront. The last time she saw her beloved friend was at the LIC Flea & Food.

Once the fireworks started, Piper said she knew she had to get a photo with Walter, but she couldn’t find him. She tried to find him that day and even searched the area days after but still has had no success .

“I would have rather lost my phone or wallet,” Piper said. “You can’t replace him; he’s my little buddy.”

Piper added that a lot of people know how much Walter means to her and friends have started to spread the news on social media in hopes of finding the dinosaur. They have also been using the hashtag “#WheresWalter.” Piper said she hopes somebody picked Walter up and she is willing to trade another of her dinosaurs for him.

Walter is described as being light brown in color, 3 to 4 inches tall and the tip of his tail is broken off. Piper plans to head to the LIC Flea this weekend and also hand out fliers asking for help in finding him.

“Hopefully I’ll find him before that. I’m not stopping until he comes back,” she said.

If you have any information, email Piper at tori.piper@yahoo.com.

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Cops arrest man who robbed Astoria bank in wheelchair


| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police have found the perpetrator who stole more than $1,000 in cash from an Astoria Bank before fleeing in a wheelchair last week.

Astoria resident Kelvin Dennison, 23, has been charged with robbery after entering the Santander Bank at 37-10 Broadway around 2:10 p.m. on June 29 and passing a note to the teller demanding money, authorities said. Dennison took $1,212 in cash and fled westbound on Broadway in a wheelchair.

According to published reports, Dennison was arrested on Wednesday after a citizen recognized him at a local hospital and made a 911 call in which officers from the 114th Precinct responded. Authorities are still not clear why Dennison was at the hospital.

Dennison was charged with third-degree robbery and held on $15,000 cash bail following his arraignment on Thursday.

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PHOTOS: An early Independence Day fireworks show on the Astoria waterfront


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos by Dominick Totino Photography

The Astoria waterfront shined bright Tuesday night, as the neighborhood celebrated the nation’s birthday a few days early.

Thousands gathered at Astoria Park, between the RFK-Triborough and Hell Gate bridges, to take part in the Central Astoria Local Development Coalition’s Annual Independence Day Celebration.

The celebration included patriotic and Big Band music from the United States Military Academy’s West Point Band.

After the performance, the sky lit up with a fireworks display presented by the Grucci Family.

The annual Independence Day Celebration is part of Central Astoria’s 33rd Annual Waterfront Concert Series at Astoria Park which accompanies the summer season of events there, including the Carnival and the Movies on the Waterfront Series.

The show was sponsored by Central Astoria LDC with the support of Councilmen Costa Constantinides and Jimmy Van Bramer, the city Department of Cultural Affairs and corporate sponsors including NRG and Kaufman Astoria Studios.


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Cop convicted of patronizing a prostitute while on duty in Astoria


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

rosedale police station4

An NYPD officer could face up to a year in jail after he was caught while on duty in Astoria soliciting sex for money from a woman who was actually an undercover detective, prosecutors announced Tuesday.

Luis Gutierrez, 39, of Queens, was convicted on Monday by a jury of official misconduct, patronizing a prostitute and conspiracy after being caught in an undercover sting operation in February 2013, according to District Attorney Richard Brown.

“The defendant was a trusted member of the New York City Police Department. He was supposed to uphold the law, but instead was caught — while on duty — offering money to a woman for sexual favors,” Brown said.

On Feb. 27, 2013, while on duty, Gutierrez allegedly approached a dancer, an undercover cop, at Astoria Boulevard and 8th Street and offered her cash in exchange for sex. According to prosecutors, the following day, Gutierrez offered money over the phone for sex with another undercover detective, who posing as a 16-year-old girl.

Gutierrez’s sentencing is set for September 21.

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