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Astoria

Astoria Characters: The Lace-Curtain Ladies

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Great Snow Show. My rapt "audience" -- the little old ladies who live on my block -- is peeking at me from behind lace curtains.

Astoria Characters: The Canines' Constant Companion

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

"Hey, Dog Walker!" The shout-out bounds across the street like a puppy fetching a stick. Erin O'Meara, leash and iPod in hand, waves.

Astoria Characters: The Jailhouse Thespian

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

"Do you like cats?" That's Lauren Shpall's greeting when she opens the front door, one ebony and one ivory feline at her feet.

Astoria Characters: The History Buff

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Alfred C. Ronzoni Jr. arrives at the Greater Astoria Historical Society right on the dot. Al, in case you didn't know, is one of the pasta-making Ronzonis.

Astoria Characters: The Sunshine Goddess

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Life doesn't always take a straight and narrow path; it often chooses a circular route, so let's start in the middle of the story and see where we end up.

PHOTOS: Astoria's Famous Steinway Mansion For Sale

The Huffington Post | Grace Green | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York

The Queens Gazette reported that on Monday, December 27th, the owner of the Steinway Mansion in Astoria, Michael Halberian, died in his home. The 82-...

Astoria Characters: The Master of the Mansion: 1927-2010

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

"I want to die in this house." That's what Michael Halberian, owner of the storied Steinway Mansion, declared late on Christmas Eve. Three days later, the house that brought Michael life took him back.

Astoria Characters: The Two-Time Immigrant

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Garo Apanian opens his candy-apple-red laptop. "Let me show you the apartment where I was born," he says. "It's a beautiful building." The image that appears is of Beirut.

Astoria Characters: The Belly-Dancing Psychologist

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

When Irina Kom parts the exotic pink and gold silk curtain to reveal her living room-cum-bedroom-cum-dance studio, the incense refreshes the senses like a walk in a spring shower.

Astoria Characters: The Little Guy Who Made It Big

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Agatino "Tony" Manganaro, who came to New York from Sicily with a pregnant wife and only $25 in his pocket, didn't get where he is by resting. He worked -- his brawn and his brains.

Astoria Characters: The City-Slicker Chicken Farmers

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Deciding to raise chickens in an apartment that's smaller than a chicken coop isn't something Jules Corkery and Robert McMinn are doing on a whim.

Astoria Characters: The Pilates Performer

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Emma Bryant is an actress. She's not waiting on tables. She's not waiting for the big break. So far, what Emma has made happen are a theater production company and an in-home Pilates studio.

Astoria Characters: The Old-School Sculptor

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Sculptor Rafael Petrosyan left Armenia nearly four decades ago, but old customs die hard. He's had his morning shot of wine already when I catch up with him.

Astoria Characters: The Celebrity Pastry Chef

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

He's been on his feet constantly, 24/7 more than less, since June 10. That's when pastry chef George McKirdy opened Astor Bake Shop, Astoria's sweet-treat hot spot.

Astoria Characters: The Crusading Composter

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

In a good week, Stephanos Koullias will collect nearly 1,000 pounds of other people's excess edibles.

Astoria Characters: The Down-to-Earth Traveling Salesman

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

In the living room, kneeling against the ruby red wall, is a Thai goddess. Above her head, in golden frames that match the trim of her royal raiment, are three Chilean oil paintings.

Astoria Characters: The Super-Human Handyman

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Sead Cerovic, aka Cera the Bull, is a big guy. His 6-foot-2 frame stands on 240 pounds of monumental muscle.

Astoria Characters: The Girl Fumi Fell For

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Asami Hotta picks up a petite pair of pliers, and with the skill of a neurosurgeon, starts turning the bits into a piece of one-of-a-kind costume jewelry.

Astoria Characters: The Trespassing Teens

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

There is a Catholic high school whose back faces my back yard, and when the school bell utters its shrill ear-splitting peal every afternoon, the Trespassing Teens, traveling in packs of two to 12, spill out of its front doors.

Astoria Characters: The Homemade Food Blogger

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

"The biggest thing about cooking is the story about it," says Amuse * Bouche blogger Bradley O'Bryan Hawks. "The story always makes the food taste better."

Astoria Characters: The High-Style Hair Stylist

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

"I love the women," says hairdresser Angelo Grivokostopoulos. "I want to make all the women in the world beautiful all the time."

Astoria Characters: The Sister Act

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

"Everybody says we look alike," says Francine Amendola. "But our mother says we don't," adds her sister, Laraine Amendola.

Astoria Characters: The Dedicated Doctor

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Dr. Tom Moulton arrives cradling an orchid in one hand and a loaf of home-made soda bread in the other. My white phalaenopsis is wilting, so he rushed right over.

Astoria Characters: The Man to the Mansion Born

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

Michael Halberian wanders through the central hall of the fabled Steinway Mansion and flips the switch that turns on the 1,000-pound crystal chandelier, big and round as the sun. It's motorized.

Astoria Characters: The Fig Thieves

Nancy Ruhling | Posted 05.25.2011 | New York
Nancy Ruhling

When the fig thieves fled with my fruits, I decided to take matters into my own empty hands.