Astoria Characters: The Street Painter

Anthony Cappetto is standing on the sidewalk on 30th Avenue. This is not how he’s generally known for making contact with concrete. Anthony is an internationally acclaimed street painter, and when he’s working on one of his illusionary 3-D murals, he’s sitting or lying on the ground using colored chalk to find the art in the asphalt. It’s the kind of creative endeavor where you get your hands dirty. And where your art is always wiped out. “I accept the idea of temporality and…

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Astoria Characters: The Funnyman

When you’ve joked around all night, it’s hard to be awake, much less funny, at 8 a.m. Comic Ben Rosenfeld is swigging bottled water and swiping the sleep from his eyes, which he confesses aren’t quite ready to open. Whose bright idea was it to do this interview at such an awful hour? Busted! It was Ben who set the time. He was joking. Well sort of. He also suggested noon, so he didn’t really think 8 would be the chosen option. “I’m not a morning person,” he says.…

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The High-Flying Acrobat

“Why walk when you can fly?” Bobby Hedglin-Taylor answers his own question by starting to scale a giant London Plane tree in Ditmars Park. This probably isn’t a good idea. Anything could happen. He could fall. He could reach the top. He wonders, momentarily, whether it’s illegal to climb a park-property tree. It’s too late to worry. He jumps to the top of a park bench so he can grab the lower branches. He looks upward. It’s nice to say hi to the sky, but he’d rather be in motion. Let’s…

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The Guy Sitting in the Court Square Diner

Stop by the Court Square Diner for breakfast or dinner, and you’re likely to see Hugh Carragher. He’s the tall, white-haired gentleman sitting at the corner counter seat closest to the subway. Hugh has been eating at the diner twice a day ever since he moved to Long Island City at the end of 1961. That’s, let’s see … 56 of his 81 years. Hugh is surprised by the math; he had it in his mind that he’s been a regular customer for only 50 years. “It’s amazing how quickly time goes,”…

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The Baker Who Makes Edible Art

“I always eat a cookie for breakfast,” says Amy Stack. She sets a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie on a plate then adds a raspberry-blueberry-almond scone for good measure. To compensate for all this sweetness, she takes her coffee black, sans sugar. “I never eat the whole cookie,” she says. “All the calories are in the last bite, right?” Amy, the co-owner of Pink Canary Desserts in Long Island City, laughs. It’s such a sweet joke that she takes a big bite of the scone. …

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