A conversation on The Cuckoo’s Nest


The other day while I was in what would be considered the downtown section of Woodside, Queens, I noticed a Facebook post from a fellow Queens diehard and Woodside resident mentioning that long time neighborhood staple, the Cuckoo’s Nest Pub was shutting its doors.

I thought their closing was worthy of an Instagram post due to the fact that they have been located at this slice of the neighborhood seemingly forever, nothing less, nothing more.

While the popular comment to this post consisted of folks lamenting on losing the place, there were two people that had a very different perspective.

Before we go into the details of the Instagram conversation I want to be clear that these opinions come from two men with a long relationship with Woodside. I respect them and hold them both in high esteem.

We’ll spare their names here because I want to focus on the content and a very real issue in Queens. While we generally don’t like to hear negative things about our favorite places in our borough, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist, and in a lot of cases, Queens is not the “World’s Utopia.”

W1: “Fuck The Cuckoo’s Nest. Get them out of here.”

W2: “Yeah, fuck them.”

Me: “You don’t rock with ‘em?” I respect your opinion especially being from this hood. What’s the story here?” Talk about it.”

W1: “Good food over there but not worth the chances of getting treated like a criminal. I wouldn’t suggest this place to any friends. The place won’t be missed. Just go down the block to Sean OG’s where the menu is just as great minus the bison burger.”

W2: “That’s about the size of it. We used to go there regularly. I personally never liked the spot that much –it’s one of the whitest corners of Woodside. We were dead treated like criminals in there, though. Once everyone else noticed, we pretty much unanimously agreed to stop going there.”

Me: “Damn, I’m sorry that you guys experienced that. That should never happen, especially not in our Queens, especially not in a neighborhood as diverse as Woodside is. We have to tell these stories too.”

W2: “I mean, that’s typical in the Queens I know. I love where I’m from, but let’s not forget that our dirtbag president is from Queens. We truly do contain multitudes ---but Queens is no bastion of progressive ideals.”

Me: “You’re right, collectively Queens isn’t considered a bastion of progressive ideals, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do better. We can start somewhere no?”

W2: “Yes fully agreed. I just think it’s important that we acknowledge just how much work there is to be done. Something like the sort of respectability politics we dealt with at Cuckoo’s might not even read to most people as a problem. Most people might think of Queens as sort of paradise of diversity. But the fact remains that Queens is still located in America and America is a fundamentally racist nation. This conversation has been going on for too long for us to surprised by it.”

Me: “I’m not surprised by it, but I was unaware of it at this particular location. I’ve seen too much to ever be surprised of anything in Queens. And I agree on all your points.”

W2: “Yeah, I hear you. You know, I guess  what I am surprised by is that this spot ever got so much love to begin with. People just love anything that seems to have been around forever.”

Me: “Yup.”

Words & Photo by Adolfo Steve Vazquez