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Astoria Characters: The Pasta Pair

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.12.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

It's not the awning. That Italian-flag green flap of fabric is pretty pedestrian. No, what attracts attention to Cassinelli is that it's shuttered so much of the time.

WATCH: Gay Man's Altercation With Passerby Who Called Him 'Faggot' Gets Physical

Posted 03.12.2013 | Gay Voices

Amateur video footage of a New York-based gay man's altercation with a passerby who called him a "faggot" is making the blogosphere rounds. Astori...

Astoria Characters: The Boy From the South

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.06.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Owen McKagen a strapping young "yes, ma'am" gentleman of the South who looks as though he stepped out of a Tennessee Williams play, has a bright idea to create an aquaponic device the size of a microwave that has an aquarium on the bottom and a garden on the top.

Astoria Characters: The Comfortable Couple

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 04.28.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Judy Lopez sits on the couch sipping a soda. Her husband, Ricky, settles into the recliner with Dixie, a bug-eyed pug, riding shotgun on its ample arm. It doesn't get better than this. The trio is content to tune in to the flat-screen TV.

Astoria Characters: The Ever-Weeping Widow

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 04.23.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

The diamond engagement ring doesn't come off Ronnie Hartley's finger easily. For nearly 46 years, she's worn it, ever since Roger, her dear and dearly departed, gave it to her.

Astoria Characters: The Lock-and-Key Lady

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 04.14.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

At 9 on the button, when the shop officially opens, Roz puts on her uniform. The cherry-red satin bowling jacket with the Admiral name on it matches her glossy lipstick.

Astoria Characters: The Triumphant Tenor

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 04.07.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

"We all have many different voices," he says. "The voice is such an amazing instrument that I feel like a mad scientist who does different things with it. Like a painter, I try different colors out. It gives me joy every day of my life."

Astoria Characters: The Hidden House

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 01.29.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

2013-01-29-astoria_homes.jpgIts future is uncertain, and time may stop for it.

Astoria Characters: The Indiana Granny

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 03.24.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

One thing has to be perfectly clear at the start: Joan Murphy doesn't have much to say. So she's set the kitchen table for tea. And she's made some of her banana nut bread so things won't be a total loss.

Astoria Characters: The Chef's Mamma

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 03.17.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Two vats of sauce are simmering on the stove when Tina comes on duty at Trattoria L 'Incontro. There's enough to feed an army or two. She recalls the first time she had to make such a big batch. How did it turn out? Perfecto!

Astoria Characters: The Daring Woman on the Flying Trapeze

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 03.10.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

She wanted to get off of her feet. That's why Suzi Winson went up in the air. On the flying trapeze. It really was as simple and as complicated as that.

Astoria Characters: The Music Man

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 02.26.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

George Phillips, a fire hydrant with Einstein's frizzled hair, is the owner of Astoria Music, but it's more fitting to call him a one-man band because ever since he took over the shop three decades ago, he's remained its one and only employee.

Astoria Characters: The Singing Streetlights

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 02.10.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

I look left. I look right. Curiously, the carol isn't coming from a car stereo. Or a store. I'm not Dorothy, but I stare at my shoes; will Santa and his sleigh go away if I click my bronze MBTs three times?

Astoria Characters: The Guy With the Extra Six-Pack

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 02.03.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Gurgle, gurglegurglegurgle, gurgle. Rich Buceta gets so excited when he hears this sound that you'd think he'd discovered a multi-million-dollar oil well gushing up through his factory floor.

Astoria Characters: The Pigeon Parents

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 01.27.2013 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

There's a pigeon flying overhead when Eugene and Kaori Oda open the front door. And another. And another. Three in all. They land in the living room, where they're sitting in a row on the sofa, which is protected by a pair of plastic tablecloths.

Astoria Characters: The First Family of Fright

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 12.30.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

This is kind of creepy: Evan Makrogiannis is talking about mixing up a batch of blood. The recipe is so simple that even a child can do it, and his sons, 13-year-old Liam and 12-year-old Tristan, are pros at adding red, blue and yellow food coloring to corn syrup.

Astoria Characters: The Preacher at the Old Red Church

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 12.23.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

The Rev. Dwayne L. Jackson is standing tall in the pulpit staring at the empty pews. The First Reformed Church of Astoria, the red Gothic Revival building wedged between the houses of 12th Street like an afterthought, holds 300 faithful.

Astoria Characters: The Man Whose Hobby Is Working

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 12.16.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Rudy's is the only extensive, eclectic hobby shop left in Queens, and surely it is the only one in the world that sells crosses and holy water right alongside jigsaw puzzles and plastic toy soldiers.

Astoria Characters: The New Arrival

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 12.09.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

With the gracefulness of the dancer she once was, Malini "Mala" Ekanayake primly sits on the park bench, puts her feet together in perfect alignment and closes her big, brown eyes.

Astoria Characters: The Actor Who's Late to the Show

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 12.02.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Orlando Anthony Pavich wasn't expecting morning to come so soon. He's hasn't shaved yet or put on a shirt. Zoe, his 2-year-old dachshund, is scurrying around the living room, jumping on the couches.

Astoria Characters: The Woman Who's Counting Up to 100

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 11.25.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Luisa Radeschi's been carrying the photo around for as long as she can remember. She just turned 94, so it's safe to say that it's been going on 70 or 80 years.

Astoria Characters: The Piano Man

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 11.18.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Walter "Wally" Boot finds himself fine-tuning a Steinway, and it's all because of a blue suit he needed a half century ago.

Astoria Characters: The Jazz Player

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 11.04.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

A coffee cup. And a trumpet. Josh Deutsch carries them out to his second-floor balcony. He didn't intend to bring them both; it was a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Astoria Characters: The Dream Believer

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 10.28.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

The drapes are blocking the sun, but the darkness doesn't dim Charlene Lite's optimism. Yes, she's had good times and bad times just like the rest of us, but she's made it her mantra to see the bright side of everything.

Astoria Characters: The Recipe Sleuth

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 10.21.2012 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

"I've got a lot of stuff cooking." As Mark Rinaldi says this, he places a plate of pão de queijo on the rustic wooden dining table, long as a church pew, that dominates his apartment.