Tag Archives: Forest Hills

Your guide to Memorial Day parades and vigils in Queens

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The sacrifices of American soldiers will be celebrated across Queens in the days to come at various Memorial Day parades and vigils.

Among the celebrations are the following events, scheduled to take place rain or shine:

Residents of Woodhaven will hold an early tribute to America’s fallen troops with a ceremony on Thursday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. The vigil, sponsored by the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation, will take place at Forest Parkway Plaza, located at the corner of Jamaica Avenue and Forest Parkway.

The program includes patriotic music, a color guard, laying of wreaths and remarks from local elected officials and veterans.

College Point
The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day Inc. will begin their parade on at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 24, at the intersection of 28th Avenue and College Point Boulevard. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz is set to appear along with other local officials, and veteran Louis A. DiAgostino will be honored as the grand marshal.

Marching bands, drill teams and dance groups will all be performing at the event, and military servicemen and women will march in the festivities. The College Point Citizens for Memorial Day are accepting donations to offset parade costs. For more information contact parade chairman Rev. Adam Crabtree at 718-640-8840.

Forest Hills
The Forest Hills Memorial Day Parade hosted by the American Legion and the Forest Hills Kiwanis Club will take place on Sunday at noon. The parade starts from Metropolitan and Ascan avenues and will head westward down Metropolitan Avenue to Trotting Course Lane. From there, the parade will turn right and stop at the landmarked Remsen Cemetery between Trotting Course Lane and Alderton Street.

This year’s grand marshal will be Roland Meier, president of the West Side Tennis Club. Members of ROTC, band, and local civic and children’s organizations such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will march in the parade. Organizers of the parade will hold a ceremony at Remsen Cemetery to honor veterans.

The United Veterans and Fraternal Organizations of Maspeth will honor the men and women of the U.S. armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice during their 31st Memorial Day Parade on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Grand marshals James Desio, retired US Army WWII veteran, and William Aronowicz, retired U.S. Marine Corp. WWII veteran, will lead the procession, beginning at Walter A. Garlinge Memorial Park, located at 72nd Street and Grand Avenue. At 2 p.m., there will be a memorial service for the deceased veterans of WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Middle Village
The St. Margaret Catholic War Veterans Post 1172 will honor those who died for the nation on Monday, May 25, with a special Mass at 9:30 a.m. at St. Margaret Church, located at the corner of Juniper Valley Road and 80th Street.

Then, at 11 a.m., post members and residents will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Middle Village Veterans Triangle, located at the corner of Gray and 77th streets near 66th Road. The ceremony will include prayers, a military salute and the playing of taps.

The Allied Veterans Memorial Committee of Ridgewood and Glendale, a committee made up of delegates from six veteran organizations, will honor the more than 1.14 million men and women of the U.S. armed forces who died in defense of the country during the 77th Memorial Day parade Monday.

At 11 a.m., the parade will begin at the Glendale War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cooper Avenues, with a short memorial service to honor the war dead of Glendale. They will then march down Myrtle Avenue westbound to the Ridgewood War Memorial, located at Myrtle and Cypress Avenues, where there will be another short memorial service to honor the war dead of Ridgewood.

Howard Beach
The Howard Beach Memorial Day Parade will honor Vietnam War veterans, including the Howard Beach residents lost at war since the neighborhood’s founding.

There will be a memorial day Mass before the parade at Our Lady of Grace at 101st Street on Monday at 9:30 a.m. At 10:15 a.m., there will be a brief ceremony on top of Hawtree-Ramblersville Bridge and the parade will officially commence at Coleman’s Square at 11 a.m. The parade will stop at the Vietnam War Memorial, located at 99th Street and 157th Avenue and then head to the World War II Memorial at Assembly of God Church at 158-31 99th St. They will then march to St. Barnabas Church at 159-19 58th St. before marching back to Coleman Square.

The Laurelton Lions Club will present the 26th Annual Laurelton Memorial Day Parade, featuring The Queens Area Pathfinders Marching Band and The Black and Gold Marching Elite Band, on Monday starting at 9 a.m. The parade begins at Francis Lewis and Merrick boulevards, and will end at the Veterans Memorial Triangle at 225th Street and North Conduit Avenue.

Sponsors for this year’s parade include the Laurelton Lions Club, American Legion Benjamin Moore Post 1946, Garden Club of Laurelton, Federated Blocks of Laurelton and Concerned Citizens of Laurelton in Conjunction with Col. Edward O. Gourdin VFW POST 5298.

The Whitestone Memorial Day Parade will honor veterans and public servants from the community on Monday, May 25. The event will begin at noon at Whitestone Memorial Park at 149th Street and 15th Drive with a ceremony. Following the ceremony, the parade will commence and follow a rectangular route around the neighborhood back to Whitestone Memorial Park. Jim Dunn, a veteran from The American Legion in Whitestone, will serve as the grand marshal.

The parade will feature classic cars, elected officials, children from local sports leagues, and it will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of Whitestone’s Engine 295/Ladder 144 of the FDNY. For additional, information or to volunteer call Devon O’Connor, parade chairman, at 718-757-8546.

This year the St. Sebastian’s War Veterans will host the Woodside Memorial Day Parade to honor fellow veterans on Monday starting at 11 a.m. Parade participants will get together at the St. Sebastian’s School yard located at the corner of Woodside Avenue and 57th Street.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States and John V. Daniels Jr. Post No 2813 in Sunnyside will host a Memorial Day event to honor veterans on Monday at 11 a.m. The event will be held at John Vincent Daniels Square, located on Roosevelt Avenue and 52nd Street. During the ceremony, a wreath will be placed at the flagpole in the middle of the park.

Little Neck/Douglaston
This year’s Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade, scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Monday, pays special tribute to Vietnam War veterans. Dr. Loree Sutton, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs, will serve as grand marshal of the march sponsored by the Little Neck/Douglaston Memorial Day Parade Association.

The march begins in Great Neck from the corner of Jayson Avenue and Northern Boulevard, then proceeds west on the boulevard to the yard of St. Anastasia’s Church, located near Northern Boulevard and 245th Street.

See it: Fully renovated English Tudor in Forest Hills Gardens for nearly $2.8M

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty

Tucked away a few blocks from the 75th Avenue Queens Boulevard subway station, and within walking distance of the bustling Austin Street commercial strip in Forest Hills, homebuyers will find a fully renovated English Tudor.

Although the residence, located at 44 Seasongood Rd. in Forest Hills Gardens, is close to a variety of retailers, restaurants and transportation, the house provides a quiet and private atmosphere similar to the suburbs. This best-of-both-worlds home is priced at $2.79 million and listed with Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty.

Completely renovated with all new windows, hardwood floors, cabinetry and fixtures, the residence reflects a modern charm although it was built in 1925.

It features a large kitchen and spacious living room, and there are five bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. There is also a private rear garden for parties and family gatherings.

There will be an open house for the Tudor home on Sunday, May 17, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.


Forest Hills Barnes & Noble may close, leaving just one branch in Queens

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Updated 3:10 p.m.

Bookseller Barnes & Noble could shutter one of its two remaining locations in Queens if it doesn’t renew its lease.

The 22,000-square-foot location at 70-00 Austin St. in Forest Hills, which has been there for more than 20 years, may close when its lease expires in January. The bookstore declined to extend its lease five more years at the location, according to representatives of landlord Muss Development.

If it does close, the once-prominent bookstore chain will have just one location in Queens, which is in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center in Bayside. Last year, the company closed its Fresh Meadows branch near to St. John’s University.

Representatives for the firm said they are hoping to keep the Forest Hills location open.

“We’re having current discussions with the property owner regarding an extension of lease at Forest Hills,” said David Deason, vice president of development at Barnes & Noble. “We have clearly and consistently communicated to the property owner that we would extend long term, but at rents very close to what we are currently paying. We have been in business there for over 20 years, and hope that we can come to terms that are acceptable to both parties.”

However, an executive from Muss Development, which is prepared to put the space on the market, confirmed to The Courier that they have not received word from Barnes & Noble representatives that they want to sign a new long-term lease or even a one-year extension.

“I would love to keep Barnes & Noble if they have an interest in a long-term deal,” said Jeff Kay, COO of Muss Development. “We got no indication from them that they want to stay long term.”


Engineer of derailed Amtrak train identified as Forest Hills man

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via LinkedIn

Updated Thursday, May 14, 12:25 p.m. 

A 32-year-old Forest Hills resident has been identified as the engineer of the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia Tuesday night, leaving eight people dead, including a naval midshipman from Rockaway Beach, reports said.

Brandon Bostian was at the controls of the train, headed from Washington D.C. to New York City, when it went off the tracks about 9:30 p.m. in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia, according to published reports.

In addition to the seven confirmed dead, more than 200 people were wounded, including the train’s engineer and conductor.

According to ABC News, after being treated at the hospital, Bostian was released and taken to the Philadelphia Police Department. He later declined to give police a formal statement and asked for a lawyer, which he has since hired.

His attorney told ABC News that Bostian, who suffered a concussion and head injury that required 14 staples, only recalls heading to the crash area and getting tossed around before coming to. He added that his client spoke to police for at least five hours and would be available to answer more questions. The attorney also said that Bostian told him he was on no medications and had “no health issues” before the derailment.

According to Philadelphia’s NBC10, Bostian handed over his cellphone to detectives and gave a blood sample. After interviewing  him on Wednesday, police are expected to do so again in the future.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reportedly has not yet met with him, but want to give him a day or so to get over the traumatic event.

Bostian, according to his LinkedIn profile, has worked for Amtrak since 2006, first as a conductor, then as an engineer starting in 2010. His work as an Amtrak engineer included as stint on Caltrain in the Bay area between 2010 and 2011, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Before joining Amtrak, Bostian worked as a cashier at Target, his profile said, and graduated in 2006 from the University of Missouri in Columbia.

The NTSB confirmed Wednesday the train was traveling at more than 100 mph, double the speed limit, as it was entering a sharp curve before derailing. Before entering the curve, the speed limit is reportedly 70 mph.

NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt also said Wednesday that the engineer applied full emergency brakes “just moments” before the derailment, CNN reported.

Among the confirmed deaths in the Tuesday derailment was 20-year-old Rockaway Beach resident Justin Zemser. The United States Naval Academy cadet was traveling home when he was killed.



Stop by these Queens Häagen-Dazs shops for Free Cone Day

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Just in time for the warmer weather, Tuesday is Free Cone Day at Häagen-Dazs stores throughout the country, including four in Queens.

From 4 to 8 p.m., participating locations are offering one free kiddie-sized ice cream in either a cup, sugar cone or cake cone.

Free Cone Day will also feature two new artisan flavors — chocolate caramelized oat and banana rum jam.

The following Häagen-Dazs shops around the borough are taking part in the event:

  • New World Mall, 136-20 Roosevelt Ave., Flushing
  • Queens Center mall, 90-15 Queens Blvd., Elmhurst
  • 70-40 Austin St., Forest Hills
  • 61-10 188th St., Fresh Meadows

For more Häagen-Dazs locations around New York City, click here.


Scarborough pleads guilty on corruption charges

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo


Former Assemblyman William Scarborough pleaded guilty Thursday to federal and state corruption charges, officials said.

Scarborough, who represented the 29th District in southeast Queens for 20 years, was arrested last October for wire fraud and theft concerning a program receiving federal funds.

Scarborough is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 14 in Albany. He faces up to 20 years in prison on the wire fraud count, up to 10 years in prison on the theft charge and up to $250,000 in fines on each count.

As part of a plea agreement, Scarborough pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the fourth degree and is expected to be sentenced to one year in jail. He also agreed to resign from the Assembly and donate all funds remaining in his campaign account to charity.

Scarborough will also be required to pay $54,355 in restitution to New York State and forfeit that amount to the United States.

Scarborough stole over $40,000 from his Friends of Bill Scarborough campaign account and made unauthorized cash withdrawals and transfers for his own personal use.

He also submitted 174 fraudulent New York State Assembly Travel Vouchers to the Assembly Finance Department from January 2009 through December 2014. These fraudulent vouchers totaled $54,355, money that Scarborough was not entitled to.

“Today Assembly member Scarborough pleaded guilty to crimes that betrayed his constituents and the taxpayers of the State of New York — crimes that will send him to jail under this plea agreement,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said. “While he will pay the price for his individual crimes, we need to channel public outrage at the ongoing corruption scandals into a movement for comprehensive reform.”

After Scarborough’s resignation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has 90 days to hold a special election in order to fill Scarborough’s seat.

Scarborough joins a long list of south Queens elected officials charged in recent years with committing corruption while in office, including former state Senators Malcolm Smith and Shirley Huntley, former Assemblymen Brian McLaughlin and Anthony Seminerio; and current Councilman Ruben Wills.


Ex-teacher from Forest Hills cops plea in Internet sex sting

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A former high school teacher from Forest Hills admitted in court Friday that he tried to lure someone whom he believed was a teen girl into a sexual tryst but who turned out to be an undercover officer, prosecutors announced.

Monsur Khan, 31, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted criminal sexual act before Queens Criminal Court Judge John Zoll. Khan faces 30 days in jail and 10 years’ probation upon sentencing, which is set for June 16.

“The defendant has now admitted his guilt and will surrender his teaching license and register as a sex offender,” District Attorney Richard Brown said. “Parents must always monitor their children’s activities online to ensure that they are not being lured into dangerous situations.”

Formerly an earth science teacher at the Hillside Arts and Letters Academy in Jamaica, Khan first made contact online with the undercover officer — who was posing as a 14-year-old girl — on Feb. 12, 2014, authorities said. Over the next six weeks, Khan repeatedly sent illicit messages to the undercover agent and indicated his desire for an encounter.

Hillside Arts and Letters Academy is located within the campus of the former Jamaica High School.

On March 26, 2014, Khan showed up at a pre-arranged meeting place in Queens and was subsequently taken into custody.

As part of his sentence, Brown noted, Khan will also be required to complete a sex offender program and forfeit electronic devices that police seized from him.


See it: A Forest Hills founder’s home hits the market for $3.7 million  

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty 

They don’t make homes like this anymore.

Homebuyers have the opportunity to own a classic Forest Hills home, now that 69-54 Ingram St. recently hit the market. The large four-bedroom house has been preserved to highlight not only its ambassadorial-style architecture, but also its interior, as some furnishings are originals of the 75-year-old house.

Furthermore, the 3,844-square-foot residence was built for one of the founders of Forest Hills, according to the broker, Terrace Sotheby’s International Realty, which specializes in the neighborhood. So prospective homebuyers can own a piece of history as well — that is, if they have $3.7 million.

For that sky-high price, the residence comes with all the amenities one could ask for in a luxury home in one of the borough’s pricey home markets.

High ceilings, hardwood and marble floors throughout and custom woodwork and carpentry are noticeable classic features.

The huge kitchen has skylight windows that allow sunlight to enter and brighten the room, and it is connected to a large formal dining room. There is also a smaller breakfast room for morning meals with the family. On the same floor there is a fireplace and wet bar in a library, which can alternate as a private study or for a space to entertain guests.

Upper floors include a large master bedroom with a huge wardrobe and adjoining bathroom, and two more bedrooms, including one with a private terrace. Finally, the fourth bedroom has its own bathroom and “can be closed off from the hallway if desired,” according to the listing.

Take a look at the pictures below to view the home, but if pictures aren’t enough, Terrace Sotheby’s will be hosting an open house at the property from noon to 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 26.



Bayside restaurant Bourbon Street expanding and adding rooftop

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photos by Liam La Guerre and Bourbon Street. Rendering via Bourbon Street.

Things are getting heated at Cajun-style restaurant Bourbon Street in Bayside.

Construction is in full swing to add a rooftop bar and a 125-seat second floor party room and to renovate the bistro’s façade to give it more of a southern flair in tune with its namesake street in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Restaurant representatives said the plan is to complete the rooftop bar and new second floor, which was home to a learning center, by this summer so patrons can experience something fresh on Bell Boulevard.

“Everybody likes to be outside, especially after the winter we’ve just had,” owner Mark Boccia said. “You could see the Throgs Neck Bridge in the distance, you could see the Manhattan skyline in the distance, and the roof is above pretty much every other roof in Bayside, so you’ll get a whole different atmosphere. It’s almost like you’re not on Bell Boulevard.”

The approximately 2,000-square-foot rooftop area will have outdoor seating, serve eight to 10 beers on tap and include a raw seafood bar. Wrought iron railing, like those in New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, will be added to the rooftop and terraces on the second floor.

The project, designed by CD Architect Studio, also includes new signage and awnings over the terraces with New Orleans colors: purple, yellow and green.

Bourbon Street rendering

A new vestibule and wider entrance has been completed and a new staircase from the ground floor was recently added for easy access to the second level. Large window doors are planned for the ground floor, and to make sure the now-three-level eatery is handicap accessible, a new elevator that leads to upper floors is being installed.

While all this construction is going on, the ground floor bar and restaurant will remain open.

Boccia also owns Austin’s Ale & Steak House in Forest Hills, which added an outdoor patio space last year. He believes that the transformation of Bourbon Street is necessary to compete with other businesses on Bell Boulevard and throughout the emerging borough.

“There are just so many places to go to in Queens now, whereas in the past it didn’t matter, Bell Boulevard was the thing,” Boccia said. “Brooklyn’s totally popped up and emerged, now it’s Queens’ turn. So if you want to be competitive in Bayside, you have to make change.”


Manhole explosions rock Forest Hills block

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Allen Epstein

Updated Monday, April 20, 9:20 a.m.

Residents on a Forest Hills block lost power much of Saturday after a pair of manholes exploded.

Reportedly, the fiery wake-up call occurred at about 6:30 a.m. along 69th Avenue off Metropolitan Avenue.

No injuries were reported, but two parked vehicles were damaged as flames shot through nearby manholes. Firefighters quickly responded to bring the fires under control.

According to Con Edison, two customers remained without power as of noon Saturday. Service was fully restored later in the day.

An investigation into the blasts is ongoing.


Forest Hills men charged with illegally evicting Richmond Hill homeowner

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Two Forest Hills men have been charged with burglary for illegally evicting a Richmond Hill homeowner from his home after the two had won the house in a foreclosure auction, according to authorities.

Semyon (aka Sam) Muratov, 34, and Yuriy (aka Erick) Munarov, 31, were each arraigned in Queens Criminal Court Monday night on charges of second-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief, second-degree criminal trespass and unlawful eviction, according to the Queens district attorney,

“More and more we are seeing individuals who are dealing with distressed properties unscrupulously taking advantage of the situation to benefit themselves,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “The defendants in this case are accused of taking the law into their own hands and bullying a homeowner into vacating his residence so that they would not have to deal with a housing court eviction proceeding.”

According to the charges, Muratov placed a $25,000 down payment on a home located on 111th Street in Richmond Hill during a foreclosure sale on Jan. 9 but the sale had not yet gone to closing.

On the same day, Muratov and Munarov reportedly went to the property and told the 59-year-old homeowner that he had to vacate the home because they had bought the house at an auction.

When the homeowner asked for a proof of sale, according to Brown, the men refused to supply evidence and instead told the homeowner he had to hand over the keys and that they would be back in a couple of days to make sure he had left.

Muratov and Munarov then allegedly returned to the property on Jan. 12 and when they couldn’t get into the home, they broke the doorframe and deadbolt lock, and pushed in the front door. They then told the homeowner he could take a few things and when the homeowner said he had nowhere to go, the men gave him $200 in cash to find a place to stay.

The homeowner left the property with some important documents and when he later returned he found all the first-floor doors and windows had been boarded up and chains were on the door lock areas of the front door.

“We are not going to stand for anyone circumventing the law. Our office is working diligently to protect homeowners and tenants who may fall victim to the various unscrupulous and predatory behavior in real estate transactions,” said New York City Sheriff Joseph Fucito. “People have the right to live undisturbed in their homes and these two individuals are accused of violating the due process rights of the tenant at the address.”

An investigation by the district attorney and sheriff’s offices revealed that on May 6, 2014, there was a judgment of foreclosure and sale on the 111th Street property, even though the homeowner said he was not aware of the foreclosure proceeding. Documents later allegedly showed that the homeowner’s estranged son was served the notice in 2012.

Although the mortgage lender had auctioned off the property on Jan. 9, Muratov would not assume ownership until there was a closing with full payment for the property and transfer of the deed, according to the district attorney. Even after the closing, there would have had to been a lawful eviction proceeding of the homeowner.

Both Muratov and Munarov face up to 15 years in prison if convicted and were ordered held on $5,000 bond or $2,500 bail. They are scheduled to return to court on May 5.


65-year-old man assaulted, robbed on Forest Hills street: NYPD

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of NYPD

Police have released the photo of one of several men who robbed and assaulted a 65-year-old pedestrian as he was heading home in Forest Hills last month.

Three men approached the victim from behind at about 10:45 p.m. on Feb. 2 and struck him in the head with an unknown object, authorities said. They then took his wallet before fleeing in a maroon van on Selfridge and Olcott streets heading toward Yellowstone Boulevard.

The victim suffered several lacerations to his head in the attack.

Authorities have released a photo of one of the suspects at an ATM, located at 103-48 Lefferts Blvd. in South Richmond Hill, using the victim’s credit card.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.  


Kickstarter goal reached to fund Dennis Hopper’s final film

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of "The Last Film Festival"

The dream of one Queens native to finish up what will be known as the late Dennis Hopper’s last movie is closer to becoming a reality.

As of Monday morning, the Kickstarter campaign for the post-production of the film “The Last Film Festival,” by filmmaker and Forest Hills native Linda Yellen, surpassed its goal of $90,000, nine days before its deadline.

“I had tears in my eyes as well as smiling, I keep seeing Dennis smiling,” said Yellen about how she felt when she found out at 4 a.m. that the goal had been surpassed. “I have such immense gratitude. I have just fallen in love with people all over the world who are so open to making things possible. They changed our lives.”

According to Yellen, the online campaign was one of the hardest experiences she has gone through, but was amazing and gratifying because she said she felt she was making friends all around the world.

“[They’re] kind of saying, ‘We love you, Dennis,’” Yellen said. “People are saying, ‘We do remember and we want to see Dennis.’”

Linda Yellen on set directing "The Last Film Festival."

Linda Yellen on set directing “The Last Film Festival.”

The funds raised by the campaign will go toward all post-production aspects that are required to finish the film, including using movie clips to replace Hopper in remaining scenes.

“The Last Film Festival,” which was written by Yellen and Michael Leeds, began filming in 2009 with a cast including Hopper, Jacqueline Bisset, JoBeth Williams, Chris Kattan, Donnell Rawlings, Katrina Bowden, Joseph Cross and Leelee Sobieski.

The movie follows a Hollywood producer, played by Hopper, whose recent film was rejected by every festival except the small town festival called the O’Hi Film Festival.

All of the movie was filmed in Queens, with the majority of the scenes shot in parts of Forest Hills including Forest Hills High School, which Yellen attended as a teen.

Only a few scenes shy of finishing the project, Hopper became ill and later died of cancer at age 74 in 2010.

Although the actor’s passing left an emptiness and the film was set aside for a while, Yellen decided to pick it back up this year, which marks the fifth anniversary of Hopper’s death.

Yellen added that even though the goal has been surpassed she encourages people to keep donating because the additional funds will go into releasing the film earlier than anticipated and making it “as good as it possibly can be.”

“We would really like people to support it and be part of the little history we are making,” she said. “Every dollar truly means another person is a fan of Dennis Hopper and this movie.”

The Kickstarter’s deadline is on April 9. To donate, click here.


Queens native starts campaign to fund Dennis Hopper’s final film

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of "The Last Film Festival"

One filmmaker is turning to Kickstarter and the Queens community she grew up in to help put the finishing touches on what will be known as the late Dennis Hopper’s last movie, filmed completely in the “World’s Borough.”

Linda Yellen is one of the creative minds behind the comedy “The Last Film Festival,” which began filming in 2009 with a cast including Hopper, known for the classic film “Easy Rider,” Golden Globe-winner Jacqueline Bisset, JoBeth Williams, Chris Kattan, Donnell Rawlings, Katrina Bowden, Joseph Cross and Leelee Sobieski.

The film, written by Yellen and Michael Leeds, follows a Hollywood producer, played by Hopper, whose recent film was rejected by every film festival except a small town festival named the O’Hi Film Festival.

Although the movie surrounds a small town, it was actually filmed in Queens, some parts in Astoria and others in Forest Hills, the neighborhood Yellen grew up in.

“I loved growing up in Queens. It was so accessible to Manhattan but it also had the feeling of small town and community. It was always so friendly,” Yellen said. “It was a wonderful thing to sort of return home.”

The majority of the film was shot in Forest Hills, with scenes taking place at Forest Hills High School, where Yellen attended school. During the 2009 spring break, the actors were housed in the high school classrooms, which replaced the use of dressing rooms and trailers.

“There was always a great appreciation for the arts and culture in Forest Hills,” Yellen said. “I learned about the art of filming and directing in Forest Hills.”

The cast of "The Last Film Festival."

The cast of “The Last Film Festival.”

Although Yellen no longer lives in the borough, she said she is constantly traveling back to visit her mother, who still lives in the same building Yellen grew up in and who had a small part in the film as a “biker chick.”

During the filming, Yellen recalls walking the streets of Forest Hills during lunch with Hopper, who would take pictures of everywhere he went in the borough.

“A lot of those early experiences helped shape my identity and it gave a special pleasure to Dennis Hopper. He got to learn a lot about me as we took a lot of those walks,” Yellen said. “He loved [Queens].”

Tragedy then struck when, just a few scenes short of finishing the film, Hopper became ill and later died of cancer at the age of 74 in May of 2010.

“He was a picture of health and vitality and he just gives a multilevel comedic act [in the film],” Yellen said. “He had no idea he was sick; we had no idea he was sick.”

Hopper’s passing left a hole in the hearts of the cast and crew, and the film was set aside for a while until Yellen decided to pick it back up this year, which will mark the fifth anniversary of Hopper’s death.

However, in order to finish the film, Yellen made the decision to turn to Kickstarter, with a goal of $90,000, because she felt it was a way to get to the fans directly. The crowdfunding site also followed Hopper’s idea of “always looking for ways to go around the system.” As of March 25, $64,174 had been pledged.

The funds raised by the campaign will go toward all post-production aspects that are required to finish the film, including using movie clips to replace Hopper in scenes.

“This is a way of [the fans] saying we want this and we want to say we support this film and this comedy,” Yellen said. “This picture was made as a labor of love. Just the pleasure of doing good work and wanting it out there and wanting people to laugh a lot.”

The Kickstarter’s deadline is on April 9. To donate click here.


Precinct council meets new officers, domestic violence chief in Forest Hills

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua


New faces were introduced at the 112th Precinct Community Council meeting on Wednesday, March 18, at the precinct’s Forest Hills headquarters.

Capt. William Matusiak, who has been on the job for 31 years, will be joining the precinct as an executive officer from the Midtown North precinct.

Though Matusiak never served in Queens, he grew up in Maspeth and Woodside.

Sgt. Brian McGowen, who previously served the 109th Precinct, will be supervising area schools.

The new community affairs officer, P.O. Tony Jimenez, is originally from the 104th Precinct and is also a clergy liaison. He has worked for the NYPD for 22 years.

Chief Diana Pizzuti of NYPD Patrol Borough Queens North, said she hopes the new additions to the precinct will help “build relationships between cops and kids” especially “with the recent unrest” that has taken place across the country that has strained relations between police officers and the communities they serve.

Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Staff at the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence Tracy Weber-Thomas also addressed the community about what services are available for victims of domestic violence.

Approximately 282,000 domestic violence occurrences were reported in New York City last year, according to Weber-Thomas, with 53,000 reported in Queens. Of the cases in Queens, 1,300 were in the 112th Precinct, which covers Forest Hills and Rego Park.

The Queens Family Justice Center, located at 106-02 82nd Ave. in Kew Gardens, is a “one-stop service center” that will help victims of domestic abuse regardless of immigration status, gender identity, sexual orientation or the language they speak, said Weber-Thomas.

Weber-Thomas encouraged anyone who is a victim of domestic violence to visit the family justice center, where no appointments are needed to speak to a counselor. Children can play in a children’s room while parents meet with a prosecutor or apply for housing or financial assistance.

The city also runs a NYC Healthy Relationship Academy initiative that coaches children ages 17 to 24 to run workshops about dating violence and healthy relationships for adolescents and young adults.

Click here for more information about the city’s domestic violence prevention programs.