Interview with filmmaker and Queens resident Paul Notice

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Self portrait photo by Paul A. Notice II

We spoke with Paul Notice, resident of Ridgewood, Queens, and writer, director and executive producer of Willow, an Afrofuturist, Anti-Capitalist, Womanist horror film, that features the granddaughter of Sasha Obama (the youngest daughter of Barack and Michelle). This project started as a stage play about seven years ago, and now he is making it into a feature-length movie with an all-Black cast, mostly made up of women. Below are some excerpts from our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

BOAST: Why do you want to make this movie, and why is it important to you?
PAUL NOTICE: My main driver for making this movie is that I wanted something that was unapologetically Black, something that was unapologetically inclusive, and fit this worldview that I felt wasn’t being introduced in the way it could be. I could add my point of view to this long pantheon. I want to watch horror films that don’t either criminalize or vilify queerness. I want something that’s not villainizing or brutalizing a Black body all the time.

Can you give a plot overview of the movie?
It takes place in alternate reality where people have to literally feed on each other in order to survive. As a New Yorker, the main character has to find a roommate, has to find a job, and has to navigate this new world where currency is flesh. That’s where the story takes off. It alludes to a lot of the history of white supremacy.

Why make it horror?
I’m a huge fan of horror. I found it to be almost triggering after a while, like ‘Damn, we (Black people) never make it.’ There’s very violent death. That’s too much. I want to redo it a little bit. Sometimes you want to see a film that shows Black folks going through hell, and still making it through.

I think horror a lot of times focuses on gore and spectacle, instead of going a little deeper. My way of adding to that genre is Willow. Even if you don’t get the concepts, you’re going to love this film.

What do you hope people get, or take away, after watching the movie?
What I really look for is for them to at least think about the topic of capitalism. A lot of the time, we as Americans don’t picture a world outside of making money. What makes success? It all has to do with money. The accumulation of wealth and possessions. I think if we’re able to at least start to question that value and to question whether or not we think this is something that is acceptable, that’s what is brilliant. And if I can make that a movie or a story that has Black bodies, that are portraying this, that’s even better.

So those two things. One, question capitalism. But two, understand that these types of abstract concepts are not just restricted to whiteness, or restricted to white people talking. These are things that affect all of us.

When do you hope to release the film, and what do you need for that to happen?
We hope to release it in late October, close to next Halloween. We need $69,000 to finish that. So 69 grand in the can, by December 23rd, and we will be all golden. If you go to bit.ly/willowhorror you’ll find our campaign. You can contribute and support however you can, even if it’s just following and sharing it. That’s all we need to make this reality. Then we got another iconic Black film.

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Paul Notice is currently raising funds via a Crowdfunding Campaign, with a fundraising deadline in mid-December. If you would like to contribute, please go to this link. If you would like to share that page, the short URL is bit.ly/willowhorror. On Wednesday, December 2, at 7pm EST, there is a featurette screening and panel called “Can Capitalism Feed Us?” Please consider making a contribution if you attend. The Zoom link is here.

 

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Official Film Photo featuring Anne Marie Agbodji; photography by Sasha Charoensub and Paul A. Notice II


What’s That Smell? It’s Those New Parents

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Two Astoria-based comedians, Ben Rosenfeld and Michelle Slonim Rosenfeld, who are married to each other and have a young child, just released the book New Parent Smell: Funny Thoughts on Pregnancy, Newborns & Tots. It is broken into three sections—pregnancy, the birth, and the baby—and Michelle and Ben each have jokes within those. Reading the book is like being at a standup show, only Ben and Michelle are cartoons. Illustrations, done by Jonathan Antonio, appear on every page and are really fun. Some of the jokes are excellent and even had me laughing out loud. These people are funny!

In pre-Covid times, Michelle founded Living Room Laughs, where she brought comedians to people’s homes, and organized the stand-up comedy show. I attended one a few years ago, and had a great time. Maybe one day when it’s safe to go inside with people again…

You can buy the book on Amazon here.

Want a digital copy of the book FOR FREE? Comment on this post or write to us at hello@boast.nyc with a joke by Tuesday, November 24 at 6pm and you’ll be entered into a raffle.

 


APAC Announces New Home and Residency Opportunities

[From Astoria Performing Arts Center]

Astoria, NY—November 18, 2020—Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC) has announced that it will celebrate its 20th season by establishing a new home in the space formerly known as the Secret Theatre in Long Island City, Queens. APAC will present much of its future programming at the venue and, for the first time in its history, this award-winning Off-Off Broadway theater company will have a dedicated performance space to call its own.  APAC presents a full season of plays and musicals annually and also offers a variety of arts education and performance programs for youth, students, and seniors.

“APAC is thrilled to finally put down permanent roots in our own theater space,” says Board President, Shelly Felder. “It affords us an opportunity to bring even more innovative theater to Queens.  We are grateful to The Indie Theater Fund and IndieSpace for their assistance in the transition to our new venue.”

Beginning in 2021, APAC will launch a fundraising campaign to provide residencies to local artists and organizations with a specific focus on new and underrepresented voices. The fund will support the development of new works of theater, dance, film, and music. “With the establishment of these residencies, we look forward to providing opportunities to artists to develop meaningful work and also to giving our audience members access to art from an even broader spectrum of creators,”  said Dev Bondarin, APAC’s Artistic Director. For more information and to donate to the fund or APAC, please visit www.apacny.org.

APAC’s 2021 season began with streaming performances of American Arcana by Cyndi Williams and will continue with the radio play Stuff by Astoria-based playwright Mrinalini Kamath, as well as the postponed revival of Man of La Mancha in addition to new and expanded community programs.

About APAC
Astoria Performing Arts Center is an award-winning non-profit theater company dedicated to engaging the residents of Astoria, Long Island City, and greater Queens in contemporary social and cultural issues through live performance and arts education. Established in 2001, APAC has produced a diverse mix of new plays and reimagined musicals and developed dozens of new works. APAC also provides a robust array of community and arts education programs that offer writing and performing opportunities to students, seniors, and residents of all ages with and without disabilities. Recent productions include the New York premiere of Marguerite by Michael Cooper and Anton Dudley featuring Tony Award-winner Cady Huffman, Jump by Charly Evon Simpson, the AUDELCO Award-winning revival of Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori, and Queen by Madhuri Shekar. For more information, please visit www.apacny.org.


Tacostoria Now Open in Astoria

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[From Tacostoria]

Tacostoria Opens in Astoria Queens on 30th Avenue’s Restaurant Row Serving Fusion-Inspired Tacos, Cocktails and More

TACOSTORIA, ASTORIA’S NEW URBAN EATERY AND NEIGHBORHOOD BAR, TAKES TACOS TO THE NEXT LEVEL WITH A FUSION-INSPIRED MENU OF AUTHENTIC HOMEMADE RECIPES, CUSTOM-BLENDED FROZEN DRINKS, FLAVORED SANGRIAS AND TOP NOTCH CRAFT COCKTAILS, NOW OPEN ON 30TH AVENUE’S RESTAURANT ROW.

Tacostoria, Astoria’s newest restaurant/bar on 30th Avenue (in the former Slush Astoria space, between 36th and 37th St), showcases a fusion-inspired menu of gourmet tacos, blended burritos, tasty appetizers, custom-blended frozen drinks, flavored sangrias and top notch crafted cocktails.

Co-owners, Eric and Olga Scheidemann, a married couple from Whitestone, Queens wanted to “feed the tribe” of Astorians and Queens natives with a neighborly place to grab a fresh, homemade bite to eat and a well-made cocktail.

“Tacostoria is an evolution of our concept, first starting with Slush this past summer, now offering a full menu of homemade, authentic, delicious food,” said Olga Scheidemann. “And, who doesn’t love tacos?!?!”

Tacostoria challenges the idea of what a taco can be, showcasing a diversity of flavors in its menu of lovingly-prepared homemade recipes, fresh ingredients and worldly influences. At Tacostoria, there’s something for everyone!

Some highlights of Tacostoria’s introductory taco menu are: Korean Brisket Taco with asian slaw and avocado wasabi;  Hawaiian Pork Taco with roasted pineapple salsa; Bang Bang Shrimp Taco with asian slaw and sriracha aioli; and a vegetarian Spicy Crispy Cauliflower Taco with cabbage slaw, pickled onion and avocado salsa.

Beyond serving great tacos, the menu also features what they call “blended burritos,” which are specially prepared to deliver the perfect harmony of ingredient and flavors in every bite, featuring: Beef Barbacoa Burrito with chihuahua cheese, greens and avocado salsa and Achiote Chicken Burrito with chihuahua cheese, roasted corn, poblano peppers and guajillo cream.

Featured appetizers include two showstoppers: Not Nachos, a unique take on a classic, using roasted potatoes instead of corn chips, topped with jalapeno queso, pineapple pico, pickled jalapenos, sour cream, guacamole and refried beans and the Queso ‘n’ Veggie Chili Hookup, a delightful combination of silky queso topped with veggie chili and fire roasted corn and served with corn chips.

“We came up with our slogan ‘Tacos for the People’ to reflect not only the diversity of our menu but to celebrate the diversity of New York City and its people. Our entire staff lives and works in Queens; some are native New Yorkers and others moved here to follow their big New York dream,” said Scheidemann. “Our menu reflects our diversity, with every dish and drink inspired by our professional and personal experiences.”

From the wildly-popular slushees from Slush, the Scheidemann’s summer popup shop, Tacostoria continues to feature custom-made frozen drinks, each perfectly blended using freshly shaved ice to make every sip as smooth as silk.

“Every frozen drink is custom made and blended to perfection for each customer, with our fresh fruit purees, it’s not made from a sugary mix. One sip and you’ll taste the difference,” said Scheidemann.

In addition to the frozen margarita and pina colada classics, the frozen drink menu includes: Coco Bango made from banana, mango and coconut rum; Rum Berry Sour made from raspberry, lemonade and rum; and Banana Split made from dark creme de cacao, ice cream, banana and strawberry. Customers can even customize their own frozen drink by choosing their favorite alcohol (or none at all) and mixing it with the fresh fruit puree of their choice: banana, mango, passion fruit, raspberry, strawberry and more.

Tacostoria’s themes of diversity and worldly influences shine behind its craft bar, featuring hand-crafted cocktails made from scratch and tailored to each customer’s preference. Featured is a thoughtfully-prepared collection of seasonal-inspired cocktails, including: Spicy Margarita made with tequila, orange liquor, lime juice, agave and jalapeno; Pumpkin-tini made with pumpkin vodka, pumpkin spiced liquor and baileys; Butterscotch Old Fashioned made with bourbon and butterscotch liquor; Old Cuban made with rum, lime juice, demerara syrup, sparkling wine, angostura and mint leaves; New York Sour made with rye whiskey, lemon juice, orange juice, simple syrup, red wine float and egg whites; and No Problemo made with tequila reposado, liquor 43, lime juice, celery bitters and egg whites.

To complement the urban vibe of the restaurant’s space, the Scheidemann’s commissioned visual artist Joseph Meloy (IG: @josephmeloy and www.josephmeloy.com) to conceptualize and paint a mural for the restaurant’s facade. Born and raised in New York City, Meloy describes his art as “Vandal Expressionism,” a particular brand of post-graffiti abstraction with draws heavily from AbEx, art brut, cave painting and hieroglyphics. Meloy will create additional murals for the restaurant’s interior over the next months.

Tacostoria is located in the same storefront where the Scheidemann’s opened their Slush pop-up shop this past summer, at 36-05 30th Ave. Tacostoria’s hours of operation are 5pm to midnight every day. Coming soon, brunch and delivery menus will be added, with more details forthcoming over the upcoming weeks. (more…)


APAC’s American Arcana on 10/22 and 10/23

American Arcana

[From Astoria Performing Arts Center]

Astoria Performing Arts Center

in association with Theatre East

presents

AMERICAN ARCANA

An apocalyptic comedy by Cyndi Williams

Astoria Performing Arts Center (APAC, Dev Bondarin, Artistic Director), in association with Theatre East (Judson Jones, Artistic Director) will present American Arcana, an apocalyptic comedy by award-winning Austin, Texas-based playwright Cyndi Williams featuring both pre-recorded and live performances as a benefit for APAC on Thursday October 22nd and Friday October 23rd at 8:00pm on FiveOhm TV. Featuring over a dozen actors recorded and performing from across the country, this timely tale is both a reflection of our current times and a clarion for our future.

Crumbling infrastructure, poison water, distant gunfire, political ads. What does the future hold, and who will be there to shape it? From award-winning Austin-based playwright Cyndi Williams comes a timely epic of survival and the fight for a better tomorrow. October 22nd and 23rd ONLY at 8:00pm. Tickets at www.apacny.org or fiveohm.tv

Featuring: Joanna Carpenter, Arlene Chico-Lugo, Christine Donnelly, Caitlin Duffy, Ian Campbell Dunn, Tom Green, Natasha Hakata, John C. Hume, Brandon Jones, Brynne McNamimie, Peter Romano, Mahima Saigal.

Production Team includes Steven Brenman, Margaret Baughman, Derrick Byars, Matthew Dunivan, Caroline Eng, Rodrigo Muñoz, Zack Murphy.

(more…)


A Call to #SaveNYComedy

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Christian Finnegan and Senator Michael Gianaris

On Tuesday afternoon, in downtown Manhattan, there was a press conference calling on state and city officials to safely reopen comedy clubs and save arts venues from economic collapse due to COVID. The event was sponsored by New York Comedy Coalition (which Kambri Crews, owner of QED Astoria, is a main part of). Speakers included New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, and New York-based comedians Christian Finnegan (Chappelle’s Show, Best Week Ever) and Ophira Eisenberg (NPR’s “Ask Me Another”).

Comedy shows in New York were happening in June, July, and part of August, but then in mid-August the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) updated their website to say, “Advertised and/or ticketed shows are not permissible,” stressing that this was to avoid gatherings “where people congregate, mingle, and create congestion at points of ingress and egress,” thereby closing all venues which had been operating in good faith.

Outdoor dining has been going on for a few months in NYC, and starting on September 30 restaurants in the city will be allowed to offer indoor dining at 25% capacity. Comedy clubs are not part of this plan.

New York Comedy Coalition has a proposal to allow ticketed arts and entertainment events. Collectively, they are calling on elected officials and stakeholders to implement the following:

Allow venues to be included with indoor bowling at 50% occupancy without food & beverage service immediately. Indoor bowling in NYC is allowed to occur at 50% indoor occupancy on the contingency that no food or beverage is consumed indoors. Independent arts venues should be allowed to operate in this exact same manner with safely spaced seating in theaters without food or beverage service.

Allow clubs to be included with restaurants at 25% occupancy for indoor service. Indoor dining at 25% capacity begins September 30th and independent performing arts spaces are not included in this plan. Once customers are seated, comedy clubs & many arts venues operate like any other food service establishment.

Allow outdoor performances to happen immediately. Venues remain closed in NYC banned from producing ticketed outdoor live performances which contradicts the fact that public gatherings with fewer than 50 attendees are allowed to continue without contact tracing or oversight.

Tell them what the metrics are. The Governor has rightly talked about science and statistics but is not sharing what the numbers are for when ticketed arts & entertainment will resume. The requests above are based on comparable rules of operations for safe reopening already in place, based in common sense. All we ask is that the comedy clubs are swiftly allowed the same newly regulated reopening parameters as other NYC industries, and that we are informed as to the logic of these decisions either way.

We love QED Astoria, as well as the other comedy clubs in NYC, so we are hoping they can reopen in a safe way very soon.

Photos courtesy of Senator Michael Gianaris’ office.

 


These Steps Can Help Preserve Your Small Business Amidst Coronavirus

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Photo via Pexels

Keeping your small business going during coronavirus is challenging. But as lawmakers continue to loosen restrictions, there’s still a lot of work to do. Taking steps toward preserving your business now and as the economy recovers will provide peace of mind and a game plan for moving forward.

Prioritize Small Business Survival

While you can still grow your business during COVID-19, your first priority should be survival. Think of ways you can support your staff and your investment during this time.

Go Digital as the Next Step

Regardless of your industry, going digital can help you increase profits and reach a bigger audience. Start planning your brand’s online presence as soon as possible.

  • For product sales, convert your brick-and-mortar business into an online shop.
  • Stay updated with marketing trends and enact your own marketing campaign.
  • Use techniques like product retargeting (with low-cost email newsletter services) to get more sales.
  • If you need to press pause on your website, follow Google’s advice to preserve your site.

Have Staff Start Telecommuting

Get creative with your staff and think of ways to make telecommuting work. From the right equipment to tools for collaboration, get your remote work dialed in.

Think Ahead to Post-COVID Business

Eventually, your business will reopen, and then what? Think ahead to ensure your business thrives post-lockdown.

While small business ownership involves inherent risks, it also means the power is in your hands. Taking steps to prioritize your brand’s survival, moving more of the work online, and planning for post-COVID adjustments are all excellent ways to strategize during the lockdown. And when the lockdown is lifted, you’ll be prepared.

—Amy Collett, bizwell.org

 


A Trip to Slush Astoria

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Eric and Olga, the owners of Slush Astoria, making slushees

Slush Astoria, the new pop-up for hand-crafted slushees that opened in mid-July and located where Kurry Qulture used to be (30th Ave between 36th and 37th St), is a refreshing addition to the Astoria outdoor dining scene. With plenty of outdoor seating options, Slush Astoria offers more than 30 slushees, all without artificial flavors, and the menu is divided by type of alcohol (vodka, whiskey/bourbon, rum/tequila, and liqueur) with both fruit-based and dessert-like options. There are a few non-alcoholic options as well, but Olga—one of the owners, along with her husband Eric—said that any of the slushees can be made without alcohol. Since each drink is made to order, changes and substitutions are not a problem, and are even encouraged to ensure you’ll enjoy what you’ve chosen. We tried Baileys Blizzard, Banana Split, Tropical Colada, and Coco Butter. Baileys Blizzard, made with ice cream, Irish cream syrup and peppermint snaps, was delicious. The Banana Split, with ice cream, banana, strawberry and dark creme de cacau, was very good with a strong ice cream flavor. Tropical Colada was a delicious upgrade to a Piña Colada, with the addition of banana and mango. The Coco Butter was a sweet treat made with Piña Colada, ice cream, and butterscotch schnapps. That one was so delicious and flavorful, someone in our group said they may go back just for that one. While we were there, the owner created a new slushee for us to sample and called it Neon Margarita, which was like a party in your mouth. Top sellers include Bahama Mama, Coco Butter, Raspberry Tea, and Lynchburg Lemonade. Due to the requirement that food be served with alcoholic beverages, Slush Astoria also serves tasty and flavorful beef empanadas with the slushees at no extra cost. Slush Astoria will be around until at least October, but it’s TBD after that, so be sure to get some slushees soon!

—Rachelle, Jamie and Jonah

Slush Astoria
36-05 30th Avenue
Astoria, New York 11103
718-956-0012
slushastoria@gmail.com
slushastoria.com


Slush Astoria, a bar dedicated to custom-blended slushees, opens on 30th Ave

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[From Slush Astoria]

Beat the heat by stopping by for a refreshingly great slushee at our new pop-up shop, Slush Astoria, located on Astoria’s famous 30th Avenue, between 36th and 37th St, in the space where Kurry Qulture used to be. Our collection of freshly handcrafted, delicious frozen slushees will make every brain freeze totally worth it! From frozen cocktails and dessert drinks to our barista fria and non-alcoholic fruit slushees, there’s a tasty retreat for everyone at Slush Astoria. Come by and grab a taste of summer!

HIGHLIGHTS:

Our slushees are custom-blended for each customer, we do not use frozen beverage dispensers

We feature both alcoholic and non-alcoholic slushees with over 30+ slushees on our menu with more added each week

Our cups are made of corn syrup and are biodegradable

This business is run by a young married couple, Eric and Olga

Olga was born and raised in Queens
(more…)


BOAST’s Message About Facebook

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We are joining other brands in suspending paid advertising on Facebook and its affiliate companies, including Instagram, for at least the month of July, and we will reassess after that. We feel that Facebook needs to do better in cracking down on hate speech and misinformation. Although this is a problem now, it goes much further back, including leading up to the 2016 presidential election. We hope to see improvements very soon.

We also think social media can be beneficial, so we will continue to publish unpaid content to these platforms during this time.