The Veteran Bookseller

There’s no bookstore in the Ditmars section of Astoria. We don’t need one. Harry puts the words out on the street. Harry – we all know him as Harry, but for the record, his full name is Harry Fiegelson – is the 82-year-old World War II veteran who sets up a bookstand by the subway stop at 31st Street and Ditmars Boulevard. He sells his hand-picked selections for $1.50 each. “We’ve got books today,” he repeats over and over like an old-time carnival barker…

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The Madcap Moviemaker

When the DVD starts, so does the laughter. Anastasios Makedon must have watched this, his first film, a million times, but every time he sees himself playing himself in this screwball comedy of house-hunting errors, it cracks him up. “This came out much better than I expected,” he chuckles. “Every single thing in the film is true, and everything is drawn from my experiences as an Astoria real estate broker.” OK, there may be a bit of an exaggeration or embellishment here and…

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The Cryptic Undertaker

Hands folded reverently over his chest and eyes cast respectfully downward, John Hoey stands guard in the doorway of the O’Shea-Hoey Funeral Home like a linebacker ready to tackle the Grim Reaper. John’s family has been in the business of death since long before he was born, so this poker-face pose comes naturally. His father bought the Ditmars Boulevard funeral home, which laid its first body to rest in 1927, from the O’Shea family in 1967. John joined the business as a part-time…

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The Yoga Guru

Dressed in her loose-fitting uniform, Hee Jung Jang goes to the head of the class and bows deeply. The dozen yoga students return her greeting then gather in a circle as Hee Jung leads them in warm-ups. Knees bent, they tap their abdomens 1,000 times to get the blood flowing then pace themselves for the intestinal exercises. At her direction, they move their abdomens in and out. It sounds easy, but it’s tough. Try it 1,000 times. You won’t like it. Neither do they. They grunt and groan,…

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The Frame-O-Phile

“A great frame always excites me,” says Eli Wilner as he holds a gorgeous gilded example up to frame his angelic face. “I’d rather see a great painting with no frame than with the wrong frame.” In Eli’s world, frames are, indeed the big picture. For the nearly three decades that his Astoria-area frame restoration studio and Upper East Side gallery have been in business, he has devoted himself to bringing fame to the frame. In that time frame, he has gotten the…

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