Shrake

New York City

SHRAKE SETS:
MY LITTLE GREEK COMEDY VILLAGE IN NEW YORK CITY–Astoria

(ΜΙΚΡΌ ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΌ ΧΩΡΙΌ ΚΩΜΩΔΊΑ ΜΟΥ ΣΤΗ ΝΈΑ ΥΌΡΚΗ – Αστόρια)

ontario gate.jpg
ontario fire escapes.jpg
ontario.jpg

ANYPLACE NICKNAMED "ACTORIA" AND WHERE THEY AUTOMATICALLY PUT FRENCH FRIES ON TOP OF YOUR GYRO IS GOING TO GRAB MY HEART.

 King Souvlaki, tagline: Greek on the Street

King Souvlaki, tagline: Greek on the Street

I first visited Astoria back in the 1990s, to go to their movie museum. I thought the 'hood was so odd and ethnic. Such a mish-mash of awkward architecture and strong smells.

But that was before I did a couple years in South Philly. I never fit in down Passyunk Ave. So now I’m attempting an ethnic-enclave re-do up here in Southwark PA’s northern second cousin.

And I think maybe if they give me a chance, they'll like me!

When I was young in suburban Detroit, my best friend Bob was Greek-American. His house across the street always had a smell: garlic, onions, meat, stale cigarette smoke from his yaya and some mystery ingredient(s). Fenugreek? A spice I can’t identify. Anymore, as I walk up the stairs of my central Astoria apartment building, that smell emanates from… the fifth floor.

My rental broker, Eleni Moustakis, presented me with a tray of baklava when I signed my lease

Middle Eastern place on Steinway Street, which reminds me of Dearborn, MI


You don't find bread called "Moroccan Mouseman" at Kroger's back home in the Midwest


My favorite sitcom, All in the Family, is supposed to take place in Astoria

 That's me eating a slice in front of the Bunkers' house (actually in Middle Village, Queens)

That's me eating a slice in front of the Bunkers' house (actually in Middle Village, Queens)


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I've taken to foregrounding my otherness as a cultural confrontation designed to get stuff:

ME: How much are these [shot-sized ginseng energy infusion thingies]?

SHOPKEEPER: Let me check... $6.95.

ME: I'll bet it'd be cheaper if I were Greek.

SHOPKEEPER:  No Greek would buy something like that.

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All the comedians live in Astoria. Yet there is not a single performing arts venue here. Sure, some small cafes and bars have “standup comedy mics” in the back room, with 8 people in the audience. But no dedicated space exists here for sizable shows. Maybe the actors, comics & singers who live in the “village” just want to live here, not work here. It is the Home of Comedy, but not the Workplace of Comedy. We’ll see.


 This phone pic from my balcony does not do the view justice, and this edition of Shrake: Sets does not do justice to my beloved Astoria. Just come visit and see if you can see why I love it so much

This phone pic from my balcony does not do the view justice, and this edition of Shrake: Sets does not do justice to my beloved Astoria. Just come visit and see if you can see why I love it so much

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