104 celebrates National Night Out Against Crime

Officers of the 104 Precinct had fun with local children in Juniper Valley Park.

NYPD precincts across Queens and their surrounding communities gathered in parks for National Night Out Against Crime.

The event, which takes place on the first Tuesday of every year, is meant to enhance the relationship between locals and law enforcement.

Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, the new commanding officer of the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village, said that his first NNO at Juniper Valley Park with the 104 was a great time and success.

This NNO was Deputy Inspector Coleman’s (left) first with the 104 Precinct.

“In fact, it’s the largest community turnout that I’ve personally seen at any National Night Out, I’d estimate approximately 1,300 members of the community attended. And it’s such a good display of civics because it shows how the neighborhoods of the 104th Precinct are so engaged and supportive,” Coleman said.

“This event is about the police and the public coming together regarding a shared common cause and responsibility regarding public safety,” he continued. “Ultimately, in order for the police to be effective, we need the support, cooperation and assistance of the communities we serve.”

The officers of the 104th Precinct expressed their gratitude for members of the community who contributed to the event’s success, namely Jon Kablack, who serves as president of the 104th Precinct Community Council.

Jon Kablack

Additionally, the precinct presented a Civilian Accommodation award to the 104 Civilian Observation Patrol, the oldest civilian patrol organization in the State of New York.

Local elected officials and over 50 local businesses and community groups participated, including the Ridgewood Kiwanis, Glendale Kiwanis, The Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, O’Neill’s Restaurant, Bridie’s Restaurant, Maspeth Federal Savings Bank, Ridgewood Savings Bank, Broadway Stages, New York and Atlantic Railway, Juniper Park Civic Association and Mobile Gas of Glendale.

Zhiwen Yan’s alleged killer commits suicide

Last Friday, detectives found the body of Glenn Hirsch, 51, of Briarwood—the alleged killer of Zhiwen Yan, a Chinese food delivery man who worked in Forest Hills.

The Daily News reported that he died by suicide, and left a “rambling suicide note” requesting that the charges be dropped against his wife, Dorothy Hirsch, who was accused of keeping his guns in her home.

Authorities say Hirsch shot himself.

Hirsch was supposed to appear in court on Aug. 5, and was charged for stalking and killing Yan, 45, on April 30.

Yan, who lived in Middle Village, was fatally shot at around 9:30 p.m. while riding his scooter on his way to deliver food at the intersection of 108th St. and 67th Dr. in Forest Hills.

The husband and father of three endured a gunshot wound to the chest which caused him to fall off his scooter.

The community showed much support for Zhiwen Yan’s family during their time of grief.

While in custody for these charges, Hirsch was granted $500,000 bail, which his brother posted with a certified check.

He complied with the conditions for his release on bail, which required him to be monitored by an ankle bracelet and to remain inside for 24 hours, only permitted to leave his home for visits to his lawyer, doctor and court, as well as one hour per day of exercise.

He was also barred from going near the Great Wall Restaurant, where Yan worked, its delivery zones, or anywhere near the crime scene, and was prohibited from leaving New York City, going within a mile of airports or major train stations and purchasing guns.

Although there was much backlash from elected officials and community members for his release on bail, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz says she would have preferred for him to have his day in court.

“The loss of a human life is always tragic. Obviously, we would have preferred to try Mr. Glenn Hirsch for the calculated murder of Mr. Zhiwen Yan in a court of law, but this is no longer an option,” Katz said in a statement.

“We once again express our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Zhiwen Yan, who continue to grieve his tragic and senseless loss.”

Put Away Your Phones and Enjoy Your Summer Vacation

Yours truly on summer vacation at the Catskill Game Farm, one of many fond memories of summers from long ago.

I was driving down the street and when I stopped at the stop sign, three young kids (probably teenagers) were sitting at the curb. It brought back memories of when my friends and I would pass the summer days sitting on a curb, or on a stoop, talking.

We’d talk, and eventually argue, about almost anything. Baseball. Movies. Girls. We’d talk and we’d laugh and I have wonderful memories of those summer days.

Except these kids weren’t talking. They were on their phones, probably texting with other friends, or watching videos. They were together, in-person, but they seemed so alone. They looked glum and miserable. That’s no way to spend your summer vacation.

Summer Vacation. What a remarkable pair of words when you’re a kid. By the time you’re 11 or 12 it feels like you’ve been going to school for years and the words summer vacation were enough to get you excited.

Summer was when you got to stay out a little later, playing wiffle ball in the street or tag. It was when you lost track of the weekdays, and you felt like you had a million days before your next school day. It was a big, giant taste of freedom.

We didn’t have a lot of money, but we didn’t need it. I remember going into Reap’s Candy, on 95th and Jamaica, and buying a small foam glider for 5 cents, it was shaped like a WW2 fighter.

We played with and battered that little plane around for days. We climbed the steps leading to the J and set it sail from up there, and watched it glide almost all the way to 96th Street.

That was the best nickel I ever spent.

I remember the excitement of packing the car and driving to the Catskills for a few days, the thrill of getting out, of going away.

It was fun seeing all the little differences in other places; the different newspapers; the strange new supermarkets and products. And all the television stations were on different channels.

We visited the local attractions, the Catskill Game Farm, Carson City, etc. And we got one of those bumper stickers that said “This Car Climbed Hunter Mountain!”

Then it was back home and back to the wiffle ball and chasing each other around the playground, and running through the sprinklers. We used to run through Forest Park playing Army, small sticks standing in for rifles and pistols

And some days, when it was really too hot to run around, you just sat with your friends and debated who would win in a motorcycle race, The Fonz or Evel Knievel. (The answer is The Fonz, because Knievel kept crashing).

It was such a wonderful time of our lives, a break from the routine and a chance to enjoy doing little or next to nothing.

And if you could go back and enjoy just one more summer vacation like that, you would cherish and savor each and every one of those summer days because you know that once you start working, it’s never the same.

It’s a subtle change in nomenclature, but everything changes when “Summer Vacation” becomes simply Summer. How would you explain that to your 12-year old self?

It’s like a working vacation. The weather is nice but you can’t enjoy it on weekdays too much because you have to get up early for work the next day.

You hope you can sit outside this weekend but only if it doesn’t rain. You don’t have the luxury of wasting your days off because you have so few of them. You’ve got a week off next month but you’ve already made plans to do work around the house.

You’ve got responsibilities. If you aren’t worrying about the bills you’re worrying about your health. Your body hurts and things don’t come as easy as they once did. It’s all part of being an adult.

If you’re not there yet, if you’re at the age where you still get Summer Vacation, brace yourselves, because things don’t get better from here. These are the best days of your lives.

So try to savor them, try to enjoy every day. Put down your phones, get out and enjoy your life. Laugh with your friends and run and jump and have a great time. Because before you can blink, it will all be over.

Ukrainian bandura master to join Cuban musicians

“Ukraine Meets Cuba” at Flushing Town Hall Aug. 21

Julian Kytasty, Danae Blanco and Juan Carlos Formell.

Later this month, concert-goers of Flushing Town Hall will experience a unique cultural blend.

As part of their most in-demand series, Common Ground: Mini-Global Mashups, Flushing Town Hall will continue its summer run with the Ukraine Meets Cuba concert on August 21 at 1 p.m.

The concert will feature Julian Kytasty, master of the Ukrainian bandura, which is essentially a Ukrainian lute or harp, and Havana-based singer Danae Blanco.

They will be accompanied by Grammy-nominated Cuban guitarist Juan Carlos Formell.

Julian Kytasty was born in Detroit, Michigan, but prides himself in being the descendant of Ukrainian immigrants.

In fact, Kytasty’s first language was Ukrainian, and he’s been playing the bandura since he was a child—carrying on the family tradition.

He is one of the world’s premier players of the bandura, and the instrument’s leading North American exponent.

Kytasty has performed and taught instrumental and choral music throughout the Americas and Europe.

“I developed a very close relationship with the instrument over the years and everything associated with it. I’ve done a lot of research on it,” he said.

“The bandura is such a beautiful, unique instrument that many people probably haven’t heard, and I’m always looking for opportunities to bring it to new audiences.”

Kytasty has been recognized for his expertise in epic songs and early bandura repertoire.

From 1989 to 1990, Kytasty was one of the first North American-born bandurists to tour Ukraine, performing in over 100 concerts.

Blanco provides a welcomed counterpoint to Cuba’s typically male-dominated timba music with her feisty delivery and enchanting lyrics, and has even been credited with bringing salsa romantica into the 21st century.

In 1993, Blanco joined the famous Cuban underground group 5U4, also known as “The Beatles of the Americas,” as a vocalist.

She released her debut single, “Pido,” in 2003 and has been a mainstay in Cuban music since.

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Juan Carlos Formell is at the forefront of a new generation of musicians from Cuba who are redefining the parameters of Cuban music.

A talented multi-instrumentalist, Formell has been hailed as a successor to iconic Cuban artists such as Caetano Veloso, Joao Gilberto, Jackson Browne and Nick Drake.

Juan Carlos’ father, Juan Formell, is a bassist and the founder of the trailblazing group Los Van Van.

“Audiences can look forward to enjoying amazing performers whose music is tied to their traditions but simultaneously modernized and fused with other musical elements that expand their borders,” said Frank London, acclaimed trumpeter and composer and curator of the series.

“We are so lucky to be able to put on these Mini-Global Mashups each month and give the fans a great show,” says Flushing Town Hall Executive & Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek.

“I am looking forward to our audience being able to experience the phenomenal musical talents of Julian Kytasty, Danae Blanco, and Juan Carlos Formell.”

The August 21st performance will be followed by a Q+A conversation between the artists and the audience.

In-person tickets are $12 for Flushing Town Hall members and $15 for non-members. Those who are unable to attend in person can view the livestream for free at https://www.youtube.com/flushingtownhall/live. Donations are encouraged.

For the Mini-Global Mashup series’ full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.flushingtownhall.org/mini-global-mashups or call (718) 463-7700 x222.

For the venue’s full schedule of 2022 Summer and Fall  events, visit: https://www.flushingtownhall.org/events

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