After I put last week’s blog to bed, I noticed responses on twitter to a New York Times column that appeared on line last weekend – ahead of its appearance in print, one week ago today. The op-ed played on the apparent rejection by Queens residents of Amazon. The writer – incredulously to this commentator and many who shared their own valid views on twitter – found my home borough “a good place to leave.” Worse, the Times gave a title, “When Queens was lame” that so mislabeled the borough of my youth – where I continue to live. The writer referred to this borough in the 1960s and 1970s in contrast to development and gentrification experience primarily in western Queens today. Obviously Barbara Brotman who moved to Chicago soon after her Queens College graduation missed so much in plain sight.
Yes, Queens as the borough of New York City’s two airports, grew greatly in ethnic diversity. But to rely on Robert Mapplethorpe birth where I grew up in Floral Park to call Queens a good place to come from and leave misses the point. Nothing wrong to highlight how the borough changed but any premise that change meant better and the past lacked value irked more than this commentator. amNewYork’s Lisa Colangelo expressed her annoyance; fellow reporter Ivan Pereira agreed. The Wall Street Journal’s Katie Honan also objected to the Archie Bunker mention as if it symbolized Queens; it never did. I fashioned my own tweet:
|Corey Bearak (@Bearak)|
Hey @BarbaraBrotman - Queens NEVER Lame; still live here, in 60s & 70s great music scene. @ForestHillsStdm: #JimiHendrix & #CCR, @TheDoors; @QC_News: @peterframpton, @RogerMcGuinn & Gene Clark; @StJohnsU: @TheBeachBoys @allmanbrothers @SongsofJBrowne -- v. nyti.ms/2EeO3lC
The writer infuriated me with her reference to needing to leave Queens to find great music in the 1960s. While acknowledging the Ramones met here, she neglected to note Simon and Garfunkel, Al Kooper, Harvey Brooks, Sha Na Na’s Bowzer (Jon Bauman) Run-DMC hailing from Queens. And of course Carole King and Gerry Goffin met at Queens College. Apologies if I miss any others.
The Queens music scene during my high school and college years was never more vibrant. Forest Hills Tennis Stadium rocked (as it has the last several years). I saw Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jimi Hendrix opening for The Monkees there. The Doors played there. I caught Peter Frampton BEFORE the release of “Frampton Comes Alive” front row center at Queens College Colden Auditorium. Rathskellar at the Student Union regularly featured great shows including former Byrds Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark, and another night former and future bandmate Chris Hillman. At St. John’s I caught The Beach Boys, Jackson Browne and The Allman Brothers, Phoebe Snow and John B. Sebastian. I remain certain others can weigh in on the great show they experience in Queens back in the day.
Bottom line, Queens rocked; still does.