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THE LEDE: Happy Thursday! The 2018 World Cup kicks off live from Russia this morning and soccer-mad Queens is gearing up for the month-long tournament with viewing parties, restaurant deals and celebrations. After the opening match, head to Upper 90 in Astoria to play a game of your own on the rooftop field. Tonight, enjoy a free jazz performance featuring trombonist Clifton Anderson in Socrates Sculpture Park, a classic Carnatic concert in Flushing or the annual Rose Gala event hosted by the Queens Botanical Garden. In politics, Queens state lawmakers have criticized de Blasio’s school-testing proposal and Rep. Joe Crowley hailed the Assembly’s bail reform bill. Community Board 2 voted down a proposed rezoning that would allow for a massive new housing complex in Woodside, a fire destroyed Goodfellas Diner in Maspeth and a custodian who fell and died while working at Queens Supreme Court may have been drunk.

TWEET OF THE DAY: Just woke up to the news that the 2026 World Cup is coming to North America!!!!!!!!  Congrats to everyone who put in the tireless work to make it happen. How are we supposed to wait 8 more years?!?!? @united2026 #UnitedAsOne  — US Soccer Legend Landon Donovan



The World Cup Kicks Off Today — Here’s Where to Watch It

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for soccer fans across Queens. The 2018 World Cup kicks off this morning at 11 am, live from Moscow, and plenty of Queens bars, restaurants and cultural centers are gearing up for the month-long tournament. Check out the Halfway Line in Woodside, which was named NYC’s “Best for International Fans” by Thrillist, or Studio Square in LIC; watch soccer God Lionel Messi and Argentina go for the championship at Boca Juniors Steakhouse in Elmhurst; or enjoy Spain’s beautiful possession play at O Lavrador in Jamaica.

After the Match Ends, Head to the Field Atop Upper 90 in Astoria

The opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia will end around 1 pm, which gives you the rest of the day to play a game of your own. Fortunately, Astoria’s Upper 90 features an enclosed rooftop field for just that purpose. “The fields and the ability to do a project of this size came out of finding the right space and the right neighborhood,” Upper 90 co-founder Zachary Rubin told ABC7. “[We took] what was a parking lot from a car wash and before that, a car dealership, and put small-sided soccer fields on it.”

Community Board 2 Rejects Massive Residential Complex in Woodside

On Monday, CB2 voted down developer Madison Capital Realty’s request for a zoning variance that would enable the construction of two tall towers at 69-02 Queens Blvd. One tower would reach 17 stories, the other 14 stories and the entire complex would include 561 units. Under the current zoning, Madison could build a 12-story building with 289 apartments, including 58 affordable units. In a statement, Madison said it contested the board’s advisory vote. “We have the opportunity to provide 168 newly constructed, well-located affordable units in our Woodside project if the requested zoning change is granted,” the company said. “It would be a mistake to build fewer affordable units where there is an opportunity to build more.” In May, Councilman Robert Holden announced that he did not support the rezoning.

Queens Supreme Court Custodian Dies After Falling During Her Shift

A DCAS custodial assistant who fell down a flight of stairs and died during her overnight shift at the Queens Supreme Court was allegedly drunk, WPIX reports. WPIX obtained security footage from May 4 that showed Carolina Wilson, 50, stumbling and being ushered into a private room by two coworkers. After Wilson emerged from the room, she slipped down stairs and broke her neck. Sources told WPIX that Wilson had been drinking. “This was a tragic death,” DC 37, which represents DCAS workers said in a statement. “The union insists on a thorough investigation of this case for the safety of the workers.”

A Fire Destroyed Goodfellas Diner in Maspeth

A fire Monday afternoon has devastated Maspeth’s famous Goodfellas Diner, which opened in the 1960s as the Clinton Diner. But when Martin Scorsese filmed a memorable scene from his masterpiece Goodfellas inside the diner, the owners changed the name. Today the popular diner, an island in a busy industrial zone, sits boarded up. “Everything is destroyed. My God, everything is destroyed,” owner Denise Diamantis told the NY Post. FDNY has yet determined the cause of the fire.

Braunstein, Stavisky and Other Queens Lawmakers Criticized the Mayor’s School Testing Plan

Mayor’s de Blasio’s plan to end the Specialized High School Admissions Test in an effort to diversify the city’s elite public schools depends on approval from the State Legislature, but so far, several state lawmakers from Queens have rejected the mayor’s proposal. “While more needs to be done to increase diversity in specialized high schools, that should begin with a more robust effort to provide students in underrepresented communities with the assistance they need to gain admission,” said Assemblyman Ed Braunstein (D-Bayside). Meanwhile, Assemblywoman Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said that “there are better solutions to the lack of diversity in specialized high schools.”

Crowley Praises State Assembly’s Bail Reform Bill

On Wednesday, Rep. Joe Crowley praised a New York State Assembly bill that would eliminate cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent felonies. “This bill will reduce New York’s jail population and help ensure that low-income New Yorkers are no longer punished for simply being unable to afford bail,” Crowley said in a statement. “Thousands of our fellow New Yorkers, many of whom are black or Latino, have been robbed of a future and stripped of their dignity simply because our criminal justice system is broken.”

Trombonist Clifton Anderson Starts the Summer Jazz Series at Socrates Sculpture Park

The borough’s free summer jazz series gets underway tonight at 6:30 pm with a performance by celebrated trombonist Clifton Anderson and his quintet at Socrates Sculpture Park in Astoria. Anderson has shared the stage with countless musical luminaries, from Dizzy Gillespie and Lester Bowie to Stevie Wonder and Keith Richards.

Enjoy an Evening of Carnatic Museum at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning

At 8 pm, versatile vocalist Roopa Mahadevan, virtuoso violinist Anjna Swaminathan and talented mridangam player Sriram Raman will perform a Carnatic concert at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. Carnatic is a style of classical music that originated in South India and evolved from ancient Hindu traditions.

The Queens Botanical Garden Hosts Its Annual Rose Gala Tonight

The annual celebration will honor Flushing Bank COO Maria Grosso. The Rose Gala cocktail hour begins at 6 pm and dinner starts at 7:15. Tickets are $300 and proceeds to the Botanical Garden.



LONG READ: Can a subway pusher be reformed? Yes, he says, with housing The New York Times

ANOTHER LONG READ: Fast food places are blaring Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart to drive away the  homeless The LA Review of Books

VIRAL: An artist turns personal moments and famous film scenes into incredible, hand-drawn flip books

YUM:  The next Queens NoshWalks tour explores Astoria’s African cuisine


NATIONAL NEWS: AT&T-Time Warner merger sets up battle for media future The New York Times . . . Californians will vote on splitting into three states BBC

INTERNATIONAL DISPATCHES:  A joint bid by the US, Mexico and Canada won the 2026 World Cup ESPN . . . The World Cup starts today — and Spain just fired its manager The Guardian



11 AM: The World Cup kicks off!

2 PM to 5 PM: Free Book Giveaway in Flushing for Kids 0-18

6 PM to 9 PM: Rose Gala at Queens Botanical Garden

6:30 PM: Renowned Trombonist Clifton Anderson performs at Socrates Sculpture Park for free ‘Jazz in the Park’ series

6:30 PM to 8:30 PM: How to Respond to Summonses From NYC Law Enforcement Agencies

7 PM: Citizens’ Preparedness Corps Training at Flushing Hospital

7:30 PM: Golden Girls Bingo at Q.E.D. in Long Island City

8 PM: An Evening of Carnatic Music at Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning


QUEENS SPORTS: The borough is abuzz with soccer! The  2018 World Cup begins today at 11 am and a joint bid by the US, Mexico and Canada just won hosting duties for the 2026 World Cup. The New York Times has a list of great Queens venues to watch the month-long tournament this summer.

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