Classic cars take center stage at Forest Hills Stadium

Rich harmonies with the Quatrain Barbershop Quartet

Lineup of the classics.

By Michael Perlman

This past Sunday afternoon under a lustrous sun, analogous to a spotlight, the setting resembled a “Back To The Future” episode at the West Side Tennis Club.

From recent to longtime Club members, they stepped onto the iconic Forest Hills Stadium stage and everyone felt like a performer. They were ready for the first classic car show in its history.

One by one, each sporty car pulled up and parked on stage, with their headlights facing the members, and the nearly century-old horseshoe-shaped venue became the backdrop.

The friendly staff greeted guests and presented a buffet consisting of scrumptious salads, hors d’oeuvres, pastries and scotch among other favorite drinks.

Then the notable New York-based Quatrain Barbershop Quartet arrived in their fashionable red and white striped attire and straw hats, and began belting out barbershop harmonies with much distinction, proving that the genre is very much alive.

High notes with the Quatrain Barbershop Quartet.

They walked around the stage, took requests and casually chatted with guests.

The quartet consists of lead Steve Marrin of Baldwin, tenor Bob Kelly of Freeport, baritone Jeff Glemboski of Merrick and bass Al Fennell of Yorktown Heights.

A barbershop quartet features a cappella singing, with three voices harmonizing to a fourth vocal’s melody, but then an invisible fifth voice becomes apparent.

Close harmonies and homorhythmic singing are commonalities.

This style’s roots can be traced to African-American traditions of the late 19th century in the South.

The melodies and sound are angelic and sentimental. It further came into its own in 1938.

“It’s an art form that was created in the U.S. With barbershop today, it’s performed worldwide, with groups in New Zealand, Germany and South Africa,” Kelly said.

“I passed the West Side Tennis Club thousands of times on the LIRR, and it’s an honor to stand on the stage of The Beatles,” Marrin said. “Al and Bob signed together in a quartet known as the ‘Sunburst Express’ in 1974. I met them a few years later. We were called ‘Spotlight’ in the 1980s and 1990s. Three of us have been singing together for about 50 years.”

The youngest member is Glemboski, a kindergarten through sixth grade music teacher in Merrick, and Fennell held the same occupation.

Their favorite numbers include “Don’t Blame Me” (1933), “I’m Sitting on Top of the World” (1925) by Al Jolson, “Smile” (1936) by Charlie Chaplin and “The Chordbuster’s March.”

“It was written to introduce to the audience individual members and the parts that they sing,” Kelly said in response to the latter song.

Barbershop music is enjoyable for all age groups.

The youngest classic car fan.

Marrin said, “Sometimes when we sing to children, it’s the first time they heard it. Some who are musically inclined want to hear more. Our No. 1 audience is 50-plus.”

“The Barbershop Harmony Society is getting younger people involved such as in high school and grammar school. We like to get our message out, where this is what we like to do and it’s fun,” Kelly added.

The quartet performed at historical destinations including Carnegie Hall, the Ed Sullivan Theater and Planting Fields Arboretum. They frequently entertain at family parties and can be booked by contacting

WSTC Entertainment Committee Co-Chair James Navarrete is a nine-year Club member who has an open ear to member feedback, so he listened to fellow member Richard’s suggestion and said, “What a great idea!”

He explained, “The Stadium was there when these cars were first born. I wanted the cars to be center stage with the backdrop of the legendary stadium, which will key off for the 100th anniversary next year. The fall lends itself to darker drinks, such as scotch, so I felt like having a tasting of the new scotches on the WSTC menu.”

“I like to show off my Club to the members, have them really appreciate it and move the events in various locations throughout each season, as well as cater to all demographics,” Navarrete continued.

He cited an adult-only pool party, a family movie night with a piñata and a magic act, the Queen’s Tea event in the Clubhouse dining room, evening country line dancing with a mechanical bull on the Stadium stage and karaoke in the Rose Garden.

Jeff Becktold, a 13-year WSTC member, is also a WSTC Entertainment Committee member, who hosted the event.

Mr & Mrs Reyes with host Jeff Becktold on right.

He takes pride in keeping WSTC history alive by strategizing at monthly meetings, while also aiming to be inclusive of the larger community.

“With the history of the Stadium, the idea of bringing in classic cars that were traveling to the shows in those times made much sense. The Quatrain Barbershop Quartet adds a nostalgic ambiance,” he said.

Becktold pinpointed much dialogue for using the Stadium for uses beyond concerts.

“We will be celebrating our 100th anniversary in 2023, and it’s always on our mind to bring more attention to our neighborhood. Afterall, this was the first home of the U.S. Open. Watching the U.S. Open this year, our Stadium was mentioned several times, and people talk about how they want to come back to play here. Having players practice here before the U.S. Open would bring more attention to the Stadium. I also think a lot of people are unfamiliar with the neighborhood, so when they attend concerts, they walk around and see ‘a diamond in the rough,’” he said.

WSTC members shared their car stories.

Richard presented a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, a 1985 Porsche 944 and a 1987 Mercedes-Benz 560SL.

Up close with a 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

He pinpointed that this Trans Am was met with extreme success, likely attributed to the popular film, “Smokey and the Bandit.”

“It had a huge 6.6 Liter engine with a 4-speed manual and a Hurst shifter, a true contribution to the ‘muscle car’ era.”

A few years ago, he added the distinctive big bird on the front hood.

As for the Porsche 944, originating in Germany, it was manufactured from 1982 to 1991 and was considered the most successful sports car in the company’s history.

Referencing Richard’s 1987 Mercedes-Benz, he said, “It has classic lines, but is sporty with a soft convertible top, but also a hard top for cold winters. Although only a two-seater, the big V-8 cylinder engine under the hood made it one of the fastest luxury sports cars of the time.”

Richard was always curious to know how things operated, and in his youth, took care of his family car.

He reminisced, “During my first effort to time the engine, I messed up the engine so badly, that I had to tell my dad that the car had to be towed to our family mechanic. Horrified and expecting my dad to be furious, all he did was insist that I accompany our mechanic to the repair shop and find out what I had done wrong. I never looked back, and have done most of the maintenance of my cars for the rest of my life, to the extent that I have a ‘pit’ at my country home, so that I can safely work under my cars.”

He felt the Quatrain Barbershop Quartet was excellent and called the car show a fun experience. “Having a little experience in a men and boys’ choir in my youth, I exclaimed and complimented them when they changed keys or did classic resolutions,” Richard added. “I hope we can have them again soon.”

The notable Quatrain Barbershop Quartet.

“It’s a really nice way to meet people at this different kind of event,” said Ted, a 47-year WSTC member, who presented a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Normale, a 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider and a 2015 Alfa Romeo 4C Coupe Launch Edition.

“My passion for cars is from my dad, who’s really into cars. A couple of the cars that I own are similar to the ones that he had when I was a little boy. He had a soft spot for Alfa Romeos. It has quite a following in the U.S. despite the fact that they didn’t sell cars for 20 years from 1995 to 2015,” he said. “The 1961 classic was styled by Pininfarina, designer of many classic Ferraris, and produced from 1955 to 1962 as the Giulietta Spider with the original 1290cc version of the legendary Alfa Romeo twin cam 4-cylinder engine, and from 1952 to 1966 as the Giulia Spider with a larger 1570cc engine version.”

Up close with a 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Normale.

The 1991 classic was also styled by Pininfarina and designed for 27 years in four series, where each is distinguished by unique rear styling. Interestingly, the “round tail” Series 1 version starred in the film, “The Graduate.”

“This Series 4 example is powered by a 1962cc version of the legendary Alfa Romeo twin cam 4-cylinder engine. The front-end styling incorporates the barest hint of the classic Alfa center grill and side brows,” Ted said.

In reference to the accompanying harmonies, he continued, “The Quatrain Barbershop Quartet is very talented and having live music is always great.”

A supercharged 2000 Jaguar XKR was presented by John.

“In 2000, I was sick and got cured, so my wife told me to go out and buy a classic car. I was going to buy a Porsche, but my friends told me, ‘Everybody has a Porsche,’ so they said, ‘Get a Jaguar,’ so that’s it. It’s a cool looking car.”

Another presenter, James, showed a 2014 Ford Mustang Race Red and called it “a car curated for the streets of NYC,” with a standard V6 engine.

“Like every little kid, you’re given a toy car to play with and roll around the floor, and growing up, I’ve always been a fan of a Ford Mustang. My dad always rents them when we go on vacation. I always wanted one, and I was lucky enough to come across this beauty.”

He added his own touches.

“The beautiful curves and aggressive tone are paired with a one-of-a-kind custom racing stripe design, which bears homage to the world’s greatest football club, Manchester United. Whether you are a child or an adult, this car puts a smile on your face,” he said.

An ivory 1977 Fiat 124 Spider with a camel interior was another showstopper.

Serenading guests around a 1977 Fiat 124 Spider.

Sometimes cars evoke tradition and one’s spirit, as in the case of Robert who acquired it that year.

After he passed away, it was gifted to his daughter Kate, and today she and her husband Oded recall how he valued “good design and Italian cars.”

EEEEEATSCON Festival returns to Forest Hills Stadium

Martha Stewart visits Forest Hills

By Michael Perlman

Culinary sensation Dan ‘Grossy’ Pelosi with the legendary Martha Stewart at EEEEEATSCON, Photo by Michael Perlman.

EEEEEATSCON can be considered a festival like no other, especially at the nearly 100-year-old Forest Hills Stadium, a breeding ground for tennis and music history.

After a three-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the festival made a strong comeback, building upon the success of the 2018 and 2019 events.

Throughout the afternoon of Oct. 8 and 9, an estimated 10,000 guests made their way through the stadium and its accompanying grounds, where every turn had a surprise in store.

With 32 restaurants, families and friends discovered a highly curated selection of culturally diverse foods that are both locally and nationally sourced.

Additionally, they dined to the beat of unique bands and a DJ, enjoyed activities, picked up souvenirs and attended presentations by industry pioneers and culinary and creative professionals, including the legendary Martha Stewart.

“This is a special event for The Infatuation and Chase Sapphire, since we really take the time to consider the community experience,” said Michael Sinatra, chief of staff of The Infatuation x Zagat. “Ensuring that we have a wide offering of food representing so many different cultures, interesting panel discussions that merge food and culture, and some incredible entertainment, make it a truly unique experience.”

Sinatra pinpointed behind-the-scenes facts. “The Infatuation curates all of these restaurants using insights from our food writers across NYC, the U.S., and London. We’re not just bringing any Cuban sandwich up from Miami, but rather we connect with our Miami writer and ask what the best option is, as in this case, Sanguich De Miami. The same can be said for our options from Los Angeles, London and beyond.”

The festival is the product of imaginative teamwork. “In some ways, we’re planning for these events throughout the year, as we do it with our partners at Chase Sapphire in Los Angeles in the spring and Forest Hills in the fall,” Sinatra said. In 2021, The Infatuation was acquired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. “The aim was accelerating their investment in dining, and it further demonstrates JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to meeting customers where they are with exceptional benefits, useful content and one-of-a-kind experiences. Consumers can expect to see more partnerships between the brands, as we continue to grow together,” he continued.

A family enjoying simple pleasures alongside The Infatuation backdrop, Photo by Michael Perlman.

Food vendors felt like a “who’s who” in the culinary industry.

Apollo Bagels, whose team originated in June with sourdough bagels in Williamsburg, is now popularizing their bagel halves with toppings including lox, heirloom tomatoes and red onions.

All the way from L.A. is Harold & Belle’s, which has a 50+ year history, and they are renowned for classic Creole dishes.

Shake Shack x Hoppers marks an exclusive EEEEEATSCON duo featuring the London-based Sri Lankan restaurant.

Attendees were advised to anticipate a burger with spice, curry and punchy flavors.

West African style grain bowls were also on the menu, thanks to Teranga in East Harlem.

Friendly service at the classic Sally’s Apizza, Photo by Michael Perlman.

The legendary Sally’s Apizza was established in 1938 in New Haven, CT, and served scrumptious brick oven pizza, earning it a spot in the “Pizza, A Love Story” documentary.

Detroit-style pizza could be found by visiting the kiosk of the Williamsburg-based Ace’s Pizza.

If one was craving home-style South Indian specialties, Semma made the cut and is rated a Best New Restaurant of 2021.

Not so far away, Zaab Zaab came from Elmhurst to serve highly regarded Isan dishes from northeastern Thailand, prepared with chilies, herbs and lemongrass.

The vibe further comes alive through guests from not only New York, but numerous states.

Dr. Jaimee Hazel of Jamaica, Queens attended with her mother, Dr. Donna Elam, and her daughter Jazzi Rhodes. “The highlights were trying food from all around the country and some from NYC that I never heard of, but the best experience was exploring the event with my mother and daughter. We had a blast at the La Croix experience. We acted like kids at a carnival and received some nice swag in the process,” she said.

As for the presentations, she added, “I learned that Martha Stewart is a down-to-earth person and willing to share her culinary expertise with anyone who asks.”

When she thinks of EEEEEATSCON, “unique” immediately comes to mind.

Swinging with Aperol Spritz, Photo by Michael Perlman.

“People from different cultural backgrounds, living in all boroughs, from all walks of life, were able to mingle in a beautiful setting while being unified by their common love of food and merriment,” Hazel said.

“I passed this train stop multiple times and never knew Forest Hills Stadium existed,” she continued. “What a gem. I look forward to attending more events.”

It’s so great to be able to attend events like this literally in our own backyard,” said East Meadow resident Jhoesly Santana, who attended with friends Tim and Carmellie and brother-in-law Irfan.

Santana enjoyed the exposure to great food from all over without having to leave NYC.

“We came prepared with a list of places to try, but were pleasantly surprised with the additional places. The best parts included the authenticity of The Wiener’s Circle crew featuring the best hotdog I ever had, the Peppa’s Jerk pork, and the catfish nuggets at Harold and Belle’s, and I don’t even eat seafood, so that should tell you a lot.”

Santana took pride in how a multitude of vendors set up their stations creatively, as well as the exclusive collaborations, several bars, various lounges and performances.

“There was always something going on. We were having drinks while waiting in line and could watch the marching bands or The W.A.F.F.L.E. Crew dance, or take pictures with the decorative displays which made everything interactive. The caviar lounge was also very nice.”

First-time festival attendee Rosa Maria Lazon of Forest Hills enjoyed the afternoon with her family.

She said, “It is a unique event that offers and supports diversity, where there is something for everyone to enjoy. It is meaningful for such a historic site as Forest Hills Stadium to host it.”

She praised the variety of food, the music, the DJs, emcee, the drummers, the drinks and ice cream, topped with delightful, sunny weather.

Another resident, Joseph Gasso attended with friends. His highlights included the Wiggle Room pop-up, which featured house cocktails such as the Slam Dunk Disco with mezcal, under a disco ball, and having big eyes for variety.

He said, “This is an affordable festival for foodies that’s coordinated by one of the most reputable food sources, The Infatuation. I loved that most of the food vendors were close to the entrance. There was plenty of space to walk around and the vibe was great. This was my third EEEEEATSCON and I can’t wait to come back.”

The lineup of musicians transcended attendees to far corners of the world.

The sensational FogoAzul surprises guests, Photo by Michael Perlman.

On Saturday, as patrons were sitting at picnic tables on the stadium’s court, dining in the exclusive Chase lounge, or making their way up to the multi-tiered food kiosks on the stadium’s stage, FogoAzul NYC offered one of the most rhythmic experiences.

Based in Queens, they are characterized as NYC’s all women/non-binary Brazilian American drumline.

They feel that “music and rhythm is in every human, if you give them the means, very loudly.” On average, they perform at 150 events annually, including parades.

Red Baraat, which originated in Brooklyn, prides itself on initiating unity and joy, and consolidates hard-driving North Indian bhangra with hip-hop, raw punk and jazz elements.

Also from Brooklyn, the nine-piece band, Brass Queens, draws inspiration from New Orleans music with modern pop.

Some of their performance spots include “Good Morning America” and the 2021 Met Gala.

Another show-stopper, W.A.F.F.L.E. Crew (We Are Family For Life Entertainment), made its way around the stadium campus.

They explained, “In the LiteFeet dance community, there are different teams; we knew with the platform of dancing on the subway, we can start our own. What makes us unique is everyone’s individuality and talents. We are great by ourselves, but better together.”

DJs played various genres including Latin, hip-hop, 1980s rock and dance, thanks to DJ OP!, DJ Matthew Law, DJ Perly and DJ Lovelisa.

Saturday’s guest speakers included Martha Stewart, Bun B and Black Thought of the Rappers Who Cook panel, whereas on Sunday, Hasan Minhaj and Ramy Youssef were also attractions.

Bun B is known for impacting the hip-hop scene over 25 years ago as one half of the acclaimed UGK.

Black Thought is co-founder of “The Roots” and is a most prolific voice in hip-hop, who won three Grammy Awards.

Minhaj originated the weekly Netflix comedy series, “Patriot Act,” with Hasan Minhaj.

Award-winning Egyptian-American Youssef is a comedian and actor who produces and stars in “Ramy,” a popular Hulu show.

Not a seat was left empty when it came to Martha Stewart, who spoke in a tent for over 45 minutes, which also consisted of a Q&A session.

She is an Emmy Award recipient TV show host and an entrepreneur who founded the first multi-channel lifestyle company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and is also a best-selling author of 100 lifestyle books.

She maximizes everyday living by capturing audiences with cooking, gardening, healthy living, pet care and collecting among other topics.

“One of my mottos is to learn something new every day,” said Stewart. “I have a new show coming out on Roku. We signed a new contract for 39 shows a year for the next three years. It’s divided between cooking, holiday and gardening. Talking to interesting people every day is so important to me.”

She also discussed The Martha Stewart Podcast on iHeart.

“I’ve had everybody from Snoop, who I find extremely interesting, to Kris Jenner, Clive Davis, who’s an old friend. I try to get people that I actually know. I want to talk to them about what they’re doing and what interests me about what they’re doing. Sometimes we go over an hour and a half or almost two hours, and I don’t even realize that we’ve been talking so long. When that happens, you know you had a good conversation.”

When asked if there is a form of media that she has yet to tackle such as a documentary, she responded, “Well, I’m working on that. You’re going to love this documentary. Netflix bought it. It will come out within a year.”

It will be produced by R.J. Cutler, who is associated with Billie Eilish and also focuses on legends such as Elton John.

“It’s unusual, but then the fictionalized version will come out after that. It will be me exaggerating my life. It hasn’t been announced yet, but wait for that,” she continued.

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