NTC Pro Shop celebrates ten years in business
by Chase Collum
Dec 26, 2014 | 186 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Nine years ago, when the National Tennis Center gave Woody Schneider and his associates at the Grand Central Racket Shop the chance to take over the NTC pro shop, they jumped at the opportunity. Since opening its doors, the shop has serviced tennis pros including Serena Williams, Patrick McEnroe and Fernando Verdasco, as well as thousands of players of all calibers from Queens and beyond. And while it’s been a successful first decade of residency for the NTC Pro Shop, which Schneider points out is the only full-service pro shop in Queens, he said it hasn’t been easy running a brick-and-mortar sports shop in the Internet age. “The whole idea of being at the home of the US Open is exciting to me, but honestly it’s a struggle,” Schneider said. “There’s so many people doing Internet things, but there’s one thing we offer that no one else can compete with and that’s our stringing service.” Matt Rizdic, who has been working at the shop for the past five years, is able to string up a racket in anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, and offers same-day or next-day service for players looking to get back on the court in a hurry. “We have our challenges but it's definitely the best place to be,” said shop manager Joan Dziena. “We’re here because the target market is here.” She said that most of the business they get comes from tourists and people who regularly play at the center. “A lot of times we’ll have people coming in here because they forgot something, so they need a pair of shorts or need a pair of socks. In addition we do a lot of shoe business out here and we do a good juniors business,” Dziena said. “We have a pretty decent selection for children two to four all the way up to kids that are ready for their first adult racket.” Schneider said that one of the ways they are able to attract customers is by providing prices that match online retailers while providing highly professional customer service. “We almost always have our apparel on sale, which does definitely lend itself to the Queens customer mentality,” Schneider said. “They like to get a good price.”
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Kevin Keoberl
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December 26, 2014
Kathy Masi has zero credibility, she claims to be the president of an organization that has no meetings, elections, or any legitimate functions. Asking her opinion on civics would be like asking Rev. Al about Nypd procedures.
Diana Ross scheduled for the Kings Theatre grand reopening
by Andrew Shilling
Dec 26, 2014 | 69 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Kings Theatre Before Restoration (Photo: Matt Lambros)
Kings Theatre Before Restoration (Photo: Matt Lambros)
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Kings Theatre Under Renovation (Photo: Matt Lambros)
Kings Theatre Under Renovation (Photo: Matt Lambros)
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Kings Theatre hasn’t been open to the public since it closed back in 1977. Forty years and $93.9 million in renovations later, the historic Flatbush venue, located at 1027 Flatbush Ave., is scheduled to reopen with a performance by legendary artist Diana Ross on February 3. “One of the most beloved movie palaces of old New York, the Kings Theatre was once a centerpiece of the Flatbush community, and a major force in Brooklyn’s cultural landscape,” said Matthew Wolf, executive director of Kings Theatre. With high curved ceilings, ornate plaster walls, wood paneling, pink marble and a glazed terra-cotta ornamental façade, architecture firm Rap & Rap found their inspiration for the 20th-century movie palace via the French Renaissance Revival style of the Palace of Versailles and the Paris Opera House. It was opened in 1929 as one of five Loew’s “Wonder Theatres” built in New York and New Jersey, and remained a prominent force in Brooklyn vaudeville acts and later film until it closed. The city purchased the abandoned theater in 1983, and in 2008 the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) launched a competitive search for an entity to undertake a major restoration and renovation project. ACE Theatrical Group was awarded the project in 2010, and later formed the Kings Theatre Redevelopment Company. The team officially broke ground on January 23, 2013. The 3,000-seat facility has been transformed, and was recently selected as a recipient of the 2014 New York State Historic Preservation Award for excellence in preservation and revitalization. “The revitalization of the Kings Theatre extends beyond the remarkable physical work underway, it promises significant economic stimulation for the neighborhood and borough, creating jobs and bolstering foot traffic for the surrounding business community,” said EDC President Kyle Kimball. In close proximity to the Q, B, 2 and 5 trains, as well as the B49 and B41 bus, Kimball said he is confident that music fans and art lovers will be more than pleased. As part of the grand opening celebration, the theater will also offer free events including open houses and tours. A full lineup of performances and community events will be announced in the coming weeks. “As a renewed center of culture in the heart of Brooklyn, this architectural treasure will present valuable community benefits while supporting New York City’s continued rise as a global capital of commerce and culture,” Kimball said.
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Governor vetoes bill to protect the state’s mute swan population
by Andrew Shilling
Dec 26, 2014 | 128 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Friends of Animals are calling foul on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to veto a bill that would have saved New York’s mute swan population from slaughter. The bill, passed by both the State Senate and Assembly, sat on his desk for 10 days before it was rejected. The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) revised their original plans to eradicate the birds following community outcry, but Friends of Animals say they never saw the modified proposal from which they say the governor based his decision. Friends of Animals campaign director Edita Birnkrant said she was told the plan was altered months ago, however she believes DEC was sitting on it to avoid any further objection from local advocates. “It’s been done for months and they’ve just been holding off,” Birnkrant said. “They wanted to release it after Cuomo vetoed, that way it would be hard to veto since people could see the new plan.” The first proposal from DEC called for the all-out slaughter of the roughly 2,200 wild mute swans in the entire state of New York by 2025, declaring them a “prohibited species” after the state agency said the birds were invasive to the region. “The DEC has a record of treating birds miserably in New York, from shooting snowy owls at the airport to gassing Canadian geese in our parks,” Birnkrant said. DEC's new plan calls for eradication of the species through non-lethal means, according to State Senator Tony Avella. Avella introduced the bill last February, which would have established a two-year moratorium on the DEC’s original plan and demand they provide evidence of actual damages to the environment or other species caused by the mute swan population. “Scientific data does not back the decision to exterminate the mute swan, and public opinion has stated time and again that the mute swan must be saved,” Avella said. “I am disappointed that the governor failed to sign this bill, which had overwhelming support from both the people and the legislature.” Avella said he plans to reintroduce the bill once again in 2015. “We always knew there was a possibility that the governor wouldn’t support the bill because it criticizes his own agency,” he said, explaining that DEC’s advisory role in this case presents a possible conflict of interest. Birnkrant added that she too plans to continue the fight as long as the agency pursues their plan. “We will be watching the DEC like hawks to assure swans are not treated like garbage,” she said. “We will expose every move the DEC makes. The DEC is getting away with murder and we won’t tolerate their maneuvers and mistreatment of swans.”
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Gotham comes to Forest Hills
by Nick D'Arienzo
Dec 26, 2014 | 42 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
David Mazouz recreates the Wayne parents’ death scene with Royal collectibles staffers Diane and Rob.
David Mazouz recreates the Wayne parents’ death scene with Royal collectibles staffers Diane and Rob.
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David Mazouz at Royal Collectibles in Forest Hills.
David Mazouz at Royal Collectibles in Forest Hills.
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Gotham came to Forest Hills for the holidays, as comic shop Royal Collectibles hosted an in-house autograph signing featuring fan-favorite David Mazouz, who plays the young Bruce Wayne on the FOX television series, a prequel that explores the origins of many of the well-known characters in the Batman/Gotham City pantheon. Despite the rainy Sunday, hundreds flocked to the corner of Metropolitan Avenue and Selfridge Street to take advantage of the free signing, part of an expanded initiative on the part of the popular comic shop to create more in-store events as a way to thank their regular customers and also to attract new ones. A Brooklyn mom and her son arrived in Forest Hills two hours earlier to ensure they’d be the first on line. In fact, they were so excited, they showed up a day earlier by mistake. Tom Burkert came from as far away as Greenwich for the signing, and was especially interested in taking a look at Royal’s offerings for the first time. Joe Grodensky of Maspeth visits Royal Collectibles on a regular basis, and is also a big fan of Gotham. While he’s always been an aficionado of all things Batman, he’s an admirer of the complexity with which the FOX series tells the Batman back-story, giving Mazouz high marks for pulling it all off so successfully. “For a young kid to be able to embrace that kind of role, someone who has to witness that traumatic an event, and to take on that persona, he does a great job with it,” he said. The young Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered in front of him, of course, the defining moment that leads him to pursue a life as a crime fighter. Mazouz, just 13 years old but wise beyond his years, could not have been more gracious, chatting with each and every guest, personally inscribing whatever was asked of him, posing for photos, selfies, you name it. Good sport that he is, after the signing, he even posed with Royal Collectibles staffers Diane and Bob for a re-creation of the death scene involving the young Bruce Wayne’s parents. Asked if he was surprised by the show’s popularity, Mazouz said, “Everybody that I’ve ever talked to about the show, there’s always been a lot of hype, but I really was excited just to be doing my job, and doing it the best I [can].” Mazouz has already earned kudos from both fans and the industry for the depth he brings to his portrayal of the horrifically orphaned young millionaire. He feels the show allows him to stay closer to the character as originally conceived. “I think Bruce Wayne is very complex, he ages a lot of years in that moment,” he said. “It’s truly amazing his eventual journey to becoming the Caped Crusader we all know and love.” Although he’d recently been a special guest at COMIC-CON, the renowned international fan fest, the Royal Collectibles signing was actually Mazouz’s first such solo endeavor. There will no doubt be many, many more in the young man’s future. Co-owner Mike Giordano was pleased with the turnout for the event, and sees it as further evidence that after a brief but somewhat concerning lull, the comics business has bounced back in a big way. Giordano cites the popularity of Marvel Comics films like Spiderman, Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor for the revival, but also attributes the renewed interest to television shows like The Big Bang Theory. “It definitely got the culture into the mainstream,” he pointed out. The explosion of interest has forced Royal Collectibles and others in the field to act quickly to meet the overwhelming demand. “We’re definitely carrying a lot more action figures, statues, etc.,” said Giordano. “Anything related to comic books.” In fact, the demand has led Royal to expand their entire operation into two distinct stores. Just ahead of the holiday season, they’ll be opening an annex just a few storefronts down on Metropolitan, where they will showcase the company’s sports memorabilia and other collectibles. “We’ve got so much merchandise here,” says co-owner Chuck Marrone. “We’re going to have a sports gallery [around the corner] displaying all of our sports collectibles, and we’ll have gaming and tournaments in the basement there, too. It’ll definitely look a lot nicer when we get to take advantage of having that extra space.” That a new era is just around the corner for the time-honored neighborhood treasure is not a surprise to long-time Royal patrons like Grodensky. “Everyone knows each other here, you’re not just another customer,” he said. “That’s why they’re here for so long.” For more information on upcoming autograph signings and other events, or to view their catalogue of memorabilia and other collectibles, visit their website.
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