The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Shirley and Diana: History and Legacy

Despite the horrible job America does at teaching black history, I do remember a few names and did my own research as a teen to get to know them better. MLK and Malcolm X for sure, and Harriet Tubman and the biggest moments of the civil rights movement. But most of the most violent and troubling pieces were left out - I guess for fear of upsetting us? For fear that it might turn us into protesters and crusaders for equality? Afraid it might anger KKKers and White Supremacists is probably more likely. Keep it docile, make the whites not look TOO bad. There's some common sense in that I suppose, among nervous educators. But at moments like these, when history starts to close in on the present, it only lays bare the hypocrisy and orthodoxy of the American experiment. 

Somehow though, the name Shirley Chisholm did bust through to my lily education. Why is that? Thinking back now, she must have been a GIANT (albeit petite) to cut through the crap. And indeed she was, and had you lived in Brooklyn circa 1970s she might very well have been your Congresswoman. 

PLEASE SEE THE NOTE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST ABOUT HOW YOU CAN HELP ENSURE SHIRLEY CHISHOLM LIVES ON IN PROSPECT PARK!! (alls ya gotsta do is send an email or so).

And if you doubt the idea of legacy, take a peek at Diana Richardson, who happens to be on your ballot today.

Vote for Diana if you haven't already. She's pure of heart and yes will probably stick her foot in her mouth from time to time. But you know why? She's unbought and unbossed. Like her hero Shirley Chisholm. And if Adem doesn't win the congressional seat from Yvette Clarke, I would go as far as to say Diana is a damn solid candidate for that spot in a couple years. You read it hear first.

Take a peek at Shirley telling it like it is during her 1972 campaign for pres, followed by some classic Diana.




CALL TO ACTION:

And from your buddy Seth Kaplan comes this call to arms - actually, much simpler. A call to email. Will you take the ONE MINUTE it takes to send this? 

If you love Prospect Park, please read on. You probably already know that in 2022 an amazing new monument to Shirley Chisholm will be unveiled in Prospect Park. But did you know we're only halfway to our goal to honor the first black woman in Congress?

We have a chance to add an additional center located at the monument to further educate visitors about Shirley Chisholm and her significant contributions to our history. But we need your help.

The pandemic has strained budgets and resources across the city and state. We need you to tell the City Council that NOW MORE THAN EVER we must commemorate our black heroes.

Here's what YOU can do. Send a message to the City Council members who will vote on this initiative. Repost this on your Facebook page. Tell your friends. Show that we are committed to bringing this history to life!

Send an email with the subject “I support funding for the Shirley Chisholm Center in Prospect Park” to:

Corey Johnson (cjohnson@council.nyc.gov)
Laurie Cumbo (lcumbo@council.nyc.gov)
Brad Lander (blander@council.nyc.gov)
Mathieu Eugene (meugene@council.nyc.gov)

If you'd like a sample form letter please see below. Thank you for helping support Prospect Park. Your input can make a difference!


Dear Council Members,

My name is [fill in the blank].

I would like to express my support of the Prospect Park Alliance’s capital request to the Brooklyn Delegation of the NYC Council to create an additional Shirley Chisholm Center at the new monument.

With these funds, the Alliance and NYC Parks can go beyond just commemoration and educate visitors about Shirley Chisholm and her significant contributions to our history. Now more than ever we must honor our black heroes. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
[fill in the blank]



Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Could Diana and Zell Lead the Way To Lasting Change?


Assemblywoman Diana Richardson

To put it mildly, elections have consequences. Not since 9/11 (aNOTHER stolen election mind you) has that been so obvious, at the Federal level. But watching dynamic duo Assemblymember Diana Richardson and State Senator Zell Myrie this past weekend in a protest at Grand Army Plaza, I'm beginning to wonder if they might be holding the key to real reform of the police at the STATE level. Both were elected post-Trump. Yes elections have consequences. Sometimes for the very much better.

Here's a concise look at their package of police reforms, smartly wrapped with a bow to make it easy to pass these common sense reforms all in one fell timely swoop. (note that many of these bills were originally sponsored by others, including Kevin Parker). 

THE BIG COP BILL

If you can truly change the cops, there's a lot else that changes. Arrests and incarceration, admissible evidence in court, opportunities to highlight bad behavior, less incentives to criminalize and ticket minor offenses. It all starts with the police, and how they're hired, disciplined, fired and generally held accountable. It's been difficult for white Americans to articulate and embrace this, because the powers-that-be have often assured whites that their quality-of-life depends upon harsh treatment of criminals. Sure some actual criminals look like Nicholas Cage in Raising Arizona. But be honest - usually the conjured image is someone much darker in skin tone. And to American Woman comes the usual refrain "Don't worry, ma'am. We've got this under control." Right?

It's not under control. It's out of control. And you and everyone you know recognizes it. Even when white folks I know have interactions with the cops, there's often a perceived whiff of disdain for the public, white OR black. I can run a few stories by you but I bet you've experience what I've experienced. Assholes. Brutes. Dicks. Bullies. And on social media and the news, you've now seen the true brutality that can be meted out by a man with a baton, badge and bullets. If you've been to some of the recent protests, you may have even experienced it first-hand.

Sure there are some good cops. I've met some. But why should we even have to make note of that fact? It's actually something worth remarking on. It's "remarkable" you might say.

I'd make a deeper argument here, but it's being made better elsewhere. Zell does a great job. Diana says it like it is. Many black elected leaders and activists and writers and poets and filmmakers have put it all out there. Now it's time for the jury to decide. And find the cops "guilty as charged" of making a mockery of decency and civility and justice. I might even go as far as to say "it's not their fault; it's the system." Screw that. Good people know right from wrong. Good people don't actively target black folks, "mistakenly" shoot, harrass and kill them, unless they have made an active choice to use force and intimidation over concern and empathy.

It's time to end the police as we know it. All of those sick wise-ass white supremacist cops need to be given permanent leave. And when they're gone, they can sign up again for a civilian patrol and for the new community-led protection and service corps, or whatever it ends up being. If they have the right stuff - compassion, understanding, patience, tolerance - then they can get a version of their old job back. If they're lacking? Nuts to you. Sadly, I'm sure some will end up beating people up from the back of their pickup trucks. Most, hopefully, will settle for a job without a weapon.

Imagine. A service corps where the "blue code" is about decency, and THAT'S the quality that gets protected by the brother and sisterhood of community police.

The real question is this. If you offer the job of "Civilian Officer" and very, very few of those positions are offered a gun, and none get lifetime protection from actual felonies, and none get a military style uniform and immunity from their peers testifying against them9...

How many of these cops would sign up for that job, even if the pay and perks were the same as now? Or were the gun, badge and uniform the perks they liked the best?

It's not unheard of to dismantle one thing and build it back, better and smarter and kinder. Oh, and those detectives solving murder and rape cases? They never needed guns to begin with. Think about it. All that work happens AFTER the violence.

State sponsored brutality must end. This is the moment. The whole world is watching. Your kids are watching. Maybe worst of all, the COPS are watching.

So what's the verdict going to be?

Sunday, May 31, 2020

When Whites Crash #BlackLivesMatter. And Accelerationism

Is the current moment of political unrest a chance for solidarity between white and black? Or are all the same dynamics of race, gender and class that plague societal progress simply playing out again on the political left?

More to the point: does that question implicitly ignore the third possibility of outside forces working to keep the two apart? Is our thinking too (ahem) black and white?

These have been the questions on my mind as I looked out at the recent massive protests breaking out across the U.S. and particularly in gentrified Brooklyn. At  first glance I felt proud and heartened by the huge number of Caucasians, young to middle-age mostly, lots of beards and tattoos and funky backpacks. I know these (sorts of) people well, and while I complain from time to time, their hearts are typically solid and their voting impeccable. But in many ways this bunch includes just the sorts of people that many black writers and activists have been kvetching about. Sure, the line went, half a million show up for a feminist rally in Washington D.C. the day Trump gets elected. But where's the outrage when black and brown folks are cruelly targeted by racist cops? And why so many white male leaders rather than working with black leaders who are ALREADY on the ground? But hey, across the country, whites are starting to show up in numbers. That's good! But some are committing vandalism, even instigating violence. And black friends and activists wonder - is this helping or hurting?

You don't need a magnifying glass to judge the demographic makeup of this crowd across from my beloved Q. 



And a walk through this enormous turnout last afternoon continued the trend:


Add to that the insanity of your State Senator Zellnor Myrie being pepper-sprayed and handcuffed by cops for nonviolent protest, while the majority of (mostly white) protesters escape unharmed. (Sorry Zell I don't like making use of your pain to sell a point, but this photo proves what's at stake, and I hope you're okay and more determined than ever to bring the police to account. This is so unnecessary. Let the protests play out. Step in if you see someone destroy something, but not before. And go easy. Most protesters are being arrested peacefully.)

White folks helping, or hurting?

One case in point...a pair of sisters with Antifa backgrounds throw a Molotov cocktail into a cop van. Lucky for them the selfie-bomb was a dud, or they'd be facing murder rather than attempted murder charges. The Samantha Sader story is but one example of a white person being really unhelpful to the cause. This single incident will be used often by the media to show that protests of police abuses are not to be condoned. Other white protesters started fires, threw bricks, broke windows - all pretty standard for trying to instigate a larger conflict. But are these efforts condoned by black protest leaders? Is anyone even ASKING?

In Minneapolis, epicenter of the George Floyd murder and protests, we now have multiple credible accounts of thousands of protesters from outside the Twin Cities, often alone or in suspiciously small groups, causing chaos, fires and looting. According to sounds on the ground from folks in the Little Apple, these often body-and-face-covered actors are by and large white, and at least some seem suspiciously white supremacist, and not interested in joining the larger crowds in slogans and marches.

Who are the "instigators" then? 

Maybe it's anti-fascists, or Antifa, who I gotta say are generally cool by me. The brave resistance fighters have no leaders. They confront, they call-out, they don't generally show up with weapons or act violently, though sometimes the property destruction and graffiti is ill-advised. There's no one to hold accountable; individual Antifa do what they please, so in a sense, they're no different than any protester acting out of conscience. They tend to be more emboldened, and god bless. And please, don't criticize unless YOU are on the front lines too. It's easy to quarterback from a distance. Get your hands dirty, and we can talk!

So, like any group of zealots they have adherants who take it all a little too far. There is no Antifa "plan" that promotes violence at protests, and George Soros is not their secret puppet master (the scary anti-semitic trope that has an scary number of believers). But they're brave, and they'll get up in faces. My favorite things Antifa does is to counter-protest white supremacists, and to dox racists and trolls, forcing their hate into the limelight, often getting them fired or ostracized. A nice trick, that. But does Antifa help or hurt the Black Lives Matter movement? Depends on who you ask, but increasingly, they're a thorn in the side of police-brutality protests.

And what about the Accelarationists?

What a great word for a truly fiery global trend. Remember Dylann Roof? Recall just last year's 51 Muslim dead in New Zealand at the hands of a white supremacist? That's "Accelerationism," or the sick practice of forcing ever-greater conflict to instigate a global race war. It's hate, yes. But it's also political. It's political terrorism, meant to incite even greater violence. To think it was simply because Roof hated African-Americans that he decided one day to kill a bunch of them to rid the world of a few of his enemies, that's just nonsensical. Admit it, it never made sense to you either. Even hatred tends to have its internal logic. No. This is a PLAN, and a movement, and rather than label Antifa as terrorists, the Accelerationists need to be spoken of widely in the media and labeled as such, even if "domestic terrorism" has no legal basis, or they will continue to infiltrate protests without consequence and create the conditions more likely to lead to massive civil unrest. Just as they planned

Simply put, Antifa want to shut down the police and change the system. Accelarationists want to get the police so mad they crack down even harder. And with their hatred of multiculturism, they TOO want to change the system. The "centrists" that get so much hate from far left and far right? They get blamed as BEING the system. Hard to win, but it's worth remembering that centrists vote, and 

More on the Accelarationist movement. Make no mistake, they are in Minneapolis and across the country, doing their best to make things worse. Again, whites. And in this case, there's no question they are undermining the message.

How low can whites go? There seems to be no bottom to depths of depravity.

And as on schedule, we have this story of the sick prick who torched a historical building in Nashville. A white supremacist. An Accelerationist. A deeply disturbing example of just why Antifa exists. This kids fascism is real, and if "the State" won't deal with him forefully and call out his behavior for what it is?

That's why Antifa is essential, if not perfect. The State, and centrists, aren't brave enough to take this on.

It's true Hank, "that boy ain't right." Bobby Hill, all grow'd up.


."

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Monday, May 11, 2020

Eric Adams Is Right: Get Police Out of Social Distancing

When a guy's right, a guy's right. And Eric's nailed it on this issue. Standing within six feet of another person without a mask isn't a crime - it's a bad idea, reckless sure, but maybe unintentional or misinformed. The fact that some cops are rougher, even violent, with people of color on enforcement surprise no one. But is it even an offense they should be policing to begin with?

In the below video, former cop Adams talks about how our City is taking part in a worldwide experiment in "re-culturing." In essence, old behaviors have to be unlearned and FAST. We have to change or we will inadvertently get others sick, killing them or permanently injuring them as COVID ravages their bodies. Crazy, but those are the stakes.

My sister tells me that in north Florida she's in the minority, wearing masks and keeping distance, at the grocery stores and other retailers. People are actively flouting the guidelines to "protest" Bill-Gates-loving-liberals telling them what to do. In NYC, we're generally following good science, and quietly persuading our fellow New Yorkers to do as we do. That's how we slow this thing down - a mass re-education, or re-culturing.

Check out Eric's ideas on how to spread the word without resorting to strong-arm tactics.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

The Great Depression Begins - Feed the Hungry

Lots of people hungry. Lots of folks lost their jobs. Lots of folks were reliant on someone who lost their job. Lots of folks can't pay their rent, their mortgage. Lots. Lots and lots.

Sound like the Great Depression? I don't need to tell you this. You don't need to wait for the Federal Reserve to make the statement. We are, for worse and worst, living in a replica of the top of the Great Depression. If you wondered, as I often have, what it must have been like at the START of that fabled era, it would have looked and felt a lot like this, but without the dreadful Zoom meetings. And while history has not been kind to President Herbert Hoover, he was actually a man of conscience and considerable skills. In fact, before the Crash he'd been an American hero, trying to feed the masses, update labor laws and encouraging other upper classies to champion progressive policies and even helped the defeated Germans during their early '20s Great Famine. From Wiki: Hoover had been little known among the American public before 1914, but his service in the Wilson administration established him as a contender in the 1920 presidential election. Hoover's wartime push for higher taxes, criticism of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer's actions during the First Red Scare, and his advocacy for measures such as the minimum wage, forty-eight-hour workweek, and elimination of child labor made him appealing to progressives of both parties

The Q can't tell you what the best way to respond to the unfolding tragedy, but here's a couple options.

Killer Assemblyperson Diana Richardson put together this list of local food delivery sites for those seeking distribution of essentials - maybe share widely, or even make a poster or flyer and share? And my previous post suggested a great place to give money or volunteer - Flatbush United Mutual Aid - if you want to help get groceries to people who can't leave their abodes. If you want to join the group get on Slack, yet another app that a person living in 2020 must be on in order to feel whole. Go here to join FUMA's Slack after you donwload the app (I know, I know old person. It's just how it is...remember when Gramma couldn't figure out the remote control on the TV?) 

Or if you have extra in the pantry, just drop some appropriate foodstuffs by Diana's office. It's a makeshift food pantry, open to anyone on Friday at noon.








Friday, April 24, 2020

Flatbush Mutual Aid Needs You

Overwhelmed? Of course you are. It's okay to feel that way, but it's not good for the ticker and gray matter to stay that way. The back doesn't like it either.

Some folks are dealing with a deep loneliness at home. And just as the grass is always greener over the septic tank, the Q years for a bit of alone-ness. The girls, at 8 and 11, are doing "distance learning," which basically means homeschooling with an active modem. Work is weird and bizarrely busy, like everyone in the non-profit world is trying to prove how valuable they are, when in fact many of us feel guilty just for having a job at all, fueled by money donated by others.

So, what to do? Here's a tip. Join or donate to the Flatbush United Mutual Aid Society. If you're even the slightest bit tech-curious, you can join them on Slack.com, and while joining yet ANOTHER social media site might make your fingers weary just thinking about it, Slack is basically a glorified texting aggregator that makes it possible for many people to join together to solve problems. You can be on it constantly or 10 minutes a day. You can do work from home (like intake and organizing) or shop and deliver groceries to neighbors who request help. No questions asked. You need something, the community does its best to abide. I've been doing some grocery shop/deliveries and let me tell you, it takes the edge off big time. Talk about one-to-one aid. Give money!

There are literally hundreds of aid groups, but this one is full of your neighbors, and just imagine, when this whole thing is over, you'll have made a bunch of new friends you can maybe finally meet in person.

Anyhoo, head over to the Flatbush United Mutual Aid Facebook page (not the other FMA website) and read about them here on the reliable BKLYNER

TO JOIN THE SLACK GROUP

or

TO GIVE VIA PAYPAL (Much Needed!) 

Send $$ to mutualaidflatbush@gmail.com (name of recipient Janine Cunningham)



Monday, April 20, 2020

Testing and Self-Delusion

Wondering if you've got the demon bug? You can actually get tested, if you're in one of these high risk groups.

Given that Essential Workers is a huge category these days that includes everything from the postwoman to the food workers to medical workers to building supers to sanitation and MTA to ConEd to HVAC to hardware stores to veterinarians to journalists to check-cashing places to custodians to good lord just about everyone who actually matters during a crisis which means ultimately that what I've often feared was true IS in fact true, that I'm not essential in any way, and maybe you're feeling the same, that there is nothing inherently needed about what you do for a living and this whole question of whether you're just taking up space on this planet while shuffling towards death has been answered, full stop, and there's really no reason not to crawl up in a ball and hibernate til the whole thing is over, because basically your primary utility is to purchase things to keep the economy moving for the next batch of self-deluded middle-class fools.

CUNY-Medgar Evers College has partnered with One Medical and will be providing COVID-19 testing onsite to essential workers, inclusive of those who work in adult care centers.  Additionally, constituents who are 65 years older with pre-existing medical conditions are also eligible for testing at this site.

Please note that testing will be conducted Monday - Friday from 9am-6pm by appointment only.  For those seeking to be tested, please call 1 (888) 663-6331 or by logging onto onemedical.com to schedule an appointment and for specific campus location details.

Friday, April 3, 2020

The New Regular Is Really Not Regular

As a man past 50 I'll tell you a little secret - the Q is lost without his Metamucil. For years I wondered why I couldn't depend upon regular and satisfying bowel movements, but like so many men my age and older I suffered in silence. During a difficult period one vacation I gave psyllium husk a try and I've never let it far from my sight. Solid, greaseless and regular B.M.'s have resulted, and I wouldn't trade that for all the tea in China. I even save money on toilet paper.

You might think that's gross. But is it? Aren't YOU the one who's cheating yourself out of one of life's little luxuries? Psyllium has been used since way before the white man arrived on these shores, and it'll probably still be in use once the white man is eradicated by a new small pox that effects his people but spares the natives, a centuries-long come-uppance for genocide.

Where was I...oh, yes, the Pandemic of 2020. This morning I ran out of Psyllium Husk and so readied myself as for battle with my adorable handmade green polka-dot mask (fashioned by a book club friend of Mrs. Q) and latext gloves, plus a bit of sanitizer in the old coat pocket, and headed around the corner to the Duane Reade, or as the Q's girls still call it the Don Reed, which gives the Q a kick of joy every time he hears the name uttered.


The new normal means that one will stand in line OUTSIDE the joint waiting to enter at a clip that keeps the Don Reed less than its usual density to the tune of about 15 per. There are markings on the floor to keep even the cashier line separated. A man whose meds weren't ready was freaking out - they were his "crazy" meds as he called them. The pharmacist calmed him down and said he'd front him a few while they worked things out with the insurance company. Little heroes seem like Churchills right now.

Tense. Eyes are sunken. A few drunks across the street tossed their bottle into the planter. I was aware of the spit that was inevitably coming from their mouths and I was glad to be on the other sidewalk. For myself I knew they weren't actually free of the reality, just hiding from it for a time, and who am I to begrudge them.

Listening to reports from hospitals is more than the heart can take, but it seems somehow a must to be there with the doctors and hospital workers as much as possible, to at least not be numb to the pain of so many dying alone, their families unable to say good-bye, except perhaps by FaceTime, as the bodies are lifted into refrigerator trucks to handle the overflow from the morgues.

It's dark dude. It's really, really dark, and getting darker.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

It's All In the Hands (and face)

It's getting hard to talk to friends about how this COVID-19 gets transmitted. So much fear and hype that I try to stick to the experts and not argue. No one likes a know-it-all, especially in a pandemic I'm finding.

This is perhaps the best video I've seen on the issue of how the coronavirus moves from human to human. It's not nearly as easy to transmit as you might think BUT (and this is a big but) we will have to drastically change the way we touch our own faces. That's why the mask is a useful part of the equation - not surgical grade masks mind you - but any mask. Even the Scream mask would work. Because what you're doing is training yourself not to touch your own face. For some, easier than others, amiright?

Of course everyone needs to be careful in the way that makes them most comfortable. But the idea that you're getting this thing from every surface you touch is not so helpful - touch whatever you like - just don't touch your face until you wash or disinfect.

Additionally, if you DO make a mistake, don't freak. The primary way this thing moves is through SUSTAINED close distant contact and mucous to mucous contact. You know kissing, potentially hugging, getting coughed on. The idea that it just jumps from one person to another like a bug is a poor analogy, and makes people more afraid than is necessary. (A fair amount of fear is obviously justified - but not to the point of complete mental breakdown).

So here it is. I encourage sharing Dr. David Price's common sense video as widely as possible.

https://vimeo.com/399733860