Category Archives: Neighborhood news

Los Mariachis

I had passed the faded sign countless times before: the words “Live Entertainment” next to a trumpet, cocktail glass, and music notes. It was a fabulous sign. In the window, neon likenesses of a mariachi band lit up the curb. This was Los Mariachis restaurant, on Coney Island Avenue near Dorchester, on the border of Ditmas Park and Kensington, and until last week I wondered what it was like inside. The interior decor looked to mirror the neon exterior — halogen lights of green and yellow cast a bright, harsh glare.

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But last week, my superintendent, a kind man named Fernando who has lived on Ocean Avenue most of his life, told me that Los Mariachis is true to its name: every Friday night, a mariachi band plays. I went with a friend. The scene inside was warm and jovial: families make an occasion of it, the four musicians moved slowly around the low-ceilinged room, moving from table to table taking requests. I wish I knew more Mexican classics to suggest. The guitarrón player was particularly adept. Just playing that oversized guitar seems like a challenge. The food wasn’t anything to write home about, but the music and margaritas were. We left close to 11, but the band, playing for more than two hours, still had another hour to go.

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Spielberg’s “St. James Place” filming in Ditmas Park

Yesterday, the historic section of Ditmas Park from E. 16th to E. 18th streets, and Dorchester to Ditmas, not far from where I live, was filled with old Studebakers and actors wearing period garb for the filming of 1960s spy thriller “St. James Place,” directed by Steven Spielberg. And Tom Hanks. None of the cars looked out of place next to early-20th century Victorian houses. With the streets blocked off and turned into one large vintage set, there was a quiet and mysterious feel to the neighborhood.

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There were about a dozen people milling about to get a sight of Hanks and one car scene being filmed. The most amusing part of this was a middle-aged Caribbean man named Leslie who was snapping as many photos of Hanks as he could on his bulky phone. He admitted he had no idea who Hanks was. One woman, stunned, asked him what he does if he doesn’t watch movies. “Read books,” he said. Hanks only rung a bell for him when this other gawker mentioned “You’ve Got Mail.” The mention of Forrest Gump drew a blank stare.

Here are some other photos.

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