That's the old OTB parlor on Queens Blvd in Forest Hills. It was reported the other day in the Times that "very few" of the shuttered parlors have been rented to new tenants. This one is not one of them. And somebody forgot to turn the lights out.
The Times piece paints an appropriately bleak picture of the former clientele of the former parlors. One restaurant owner recalled:
They littered on the sidewalk, called out rudely to women, demanded free water and sometimes solicited money from his customers. [NY Times[One time, I was standing outside the Forest Hills parlor, and a guy, having spotted me eating a Hersheys Dark Chocolate Bar from inside, came out to ask me for a bite. "Bitch!" he spat angrily when I refused. I think that's the most vivid memory I have of that place (other than perhaps cashing my $20 win ticket on Lil E. Tee, who paid, if I recall correctly, $98.60 to win in New York, only $16.80 at Churchill).
I saw where Jessica got quoted from one of her Railbird blog posts in the Times article:
On particularly unhappy days, I’d slip into a parlor downtown, and enjoy the anonymous companionship of others staring intently at programs and talking horses and hoping for that one big win. [Railbird]But I dunno about the romantic angle in this case. It was just plain sleazy to me. Maybe Jessica found an outlier parlor that was actually decent, or maybe she cheated and really went to one of the nice restaurant ones, or to Nassau. Everyone has their own way of finding some peace and solace in a sometimes impossible and impossibly perilous world. But if I was depressed enough to hang out in OTB, at least the one on Queens Blvs in Forest Hills, they'd be fishing me out of the Hudson River somewhere with a bag containing all of my losing tickets for the last 18 months tied around my neck.
Speaking of being depressed, it's Labor Day weekend, which I think is up there for biggest holidays for suicides. But please don't despair - plenty of racing though to pass the time and, as I'm sure I've said many times before, Labor Day is one of my favorite weekends at Saratoga. Smaller crowds, more races, more horses as connections try to get in one last race. And the Final Stretch Music Festival on Saturday and Sunday night, which you just gotta check out if you're in town.
Having said that, we're off to Solana Beach, just north of Del Mar, CA. Will check in from there if I have the time during what will be a condensed schedule. And please check out my Twitter stream if you have the chance. I did some live-Twittering from Saratoga a couple of weekends ago; it was fun, and didn't contribute to me doing any worse than I usually do. It's not totally a track vacation, but I'm sure I'll have plenty of opportunities to make a fool of myself at the races, especially on Friday and Saturday. In any event, best of luck, be safe, and have a great weekend.