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.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Blessings Does Dinner Part II

Mrs. Clarkson FlatBed Jr. has way more taste than her husband, in matters of style, interior design, modern dance, and food and wine. Classy, you could say. So she goes to Blessings last night for dinner with a doula friend (everyone should have at least one doula friend) and comes home raving. The food was terrific, like not adequate. Really, really good. Reasonably priced too. The wine was simple but well-chosen. (Lily IS Italian after all).

Look y'all, when a really nice choice for dinner presents itself, get out there and dig in! Only patronage can keep these places afloat. There's even a smart and cheap kids menu.

I know it's hard when a daytime joint tries to go all dinner on you. But good food is good food. The only minor complaint the ladies had was that the music wasn't quite right. Perhaps slightly better dinner lighting? Ambiance is tough; ask any restauranteur. Maybe you'll have thoughts too. Offer them up to the proprietor, with cheer and a smile of course! And please, eat and drink local. There are lots of new joints opening up all the time. Give 'em a review and send it my way. I'm happy to publish others' writing on topics of which I don't know jack. Food and drink, that's way out of my league.

You know it's gonna be good. Everything Lily & Co make is outasight.

Trick or Treat Without Leaving the 'Hood

Can't say enough for the local precinct-sponsored Trick or Treat route. If you're new, or if your kids just got old enough, come on out. Truly a highlight of the year, for all ages. And if you live ON the route, I'm so sorry you have to buy so much candy. Just consider it your contribution to the cause of Sugar Equality.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

We've Been Here Before

Must viewing, for those who think the Republic is at its breaking point. Perhaps this election is a sign of powerful movements to come?

When you strip away the parts of Trump that seem so cartoonish, you're left with the notion that this nation has always been, and may always be, the byproduct of tensions between revolution on the right and revolution on the left. The slow trudge towards a progressive politics may be frustrating, but the question it better to allow the free flow of ideas, no matter how painful or hurtful, or to work out our difference with bloody warfare in the streets? Hilary Clinton is in many ways a perfect embodiment of a bloodless civil war. If the Secret Service does its job, she may actually see us through the tumult.

On November 9, as the Donald announces his new venture into identity TV, an anti-Oprah channel maybe called simply T, we will realize that we HAD to live through this in order to see ourselves more clearly. Really. It's actually a good thing. Much worse is the sublimation of the American id, only to emerge powerful and monstrous when we're at our weakest. Think about it...had Trump come on the scene at the nadir of 2008, and Hillary had won the primary? That might have been much, much worse. And still, I can't help thinking the genius of the Constitution would have seen us through.

And the Blogger Will Rock - Oct 24

The Q's band Babe the blue OX plays early enough on a Monday for you to get a good night's sleep, but late enough that you must make it a date night. When was the last time you went to the Lower East Side for dinner and some gender-parity rock-n-roll? Playing with ol' pals from bands Lotion and Dambuilders in their new incarnations.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Big City Bullies

One of the 100 Worst Landlords in NYC, in Kindergarten
It should come as no surprise that more and more landlords are getting aggressive about dumping rent-stabilized tenants from their rent rolls. The latest lawsuit with teeth is hitting Empire Holdings, which owns (among others)

434 Rogers Ave
200 Rogers Ave
229 Rogers Ave
1604 Bedford Ave
1146 President St

Here's what Legal Services is saying:
October 13, 2016, BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Legal Services NYC’s Brooklyn program today filed a lawsuit on behalf of twelve low-income, longtime tenants facing eviction because they cannot afford the exorbitant rent increases that their landlordEmpire Holdings L.P., is illegally demanding from them. The tenants, mostly seniors, are supported by IMPACCT Brooklyn (formerly known as Pratt Area Community Council). 

And Public Advocate Leticia James just came out with her 100 worst landlords list. You can search for you building on her site. I'm going to print all their names below so there's one more place that they might show up on the internet in connection with their miserable loathsomeness.

5VED PARKASH42571020
6MARK SILBER102161003
10JOEL KOHN23152856
13DAVID DAVID5272787
14BRUCE HALEY7153783
18JAY MILLER7204739
19ADAM STRYKER10182724
20ZEV SALOMON8197717
23MEIR FRIED19139690
25MARK TRESS120664
27DAVID BARON4177645
39UZY STEIN249538
49JACOB GOLD428475
50JASON M GREEN5107475
53RON NAHUM658458
59KOBI ZAMIR4165434
63JOHN K ZI342418
72DAVID GREEN4107399
75BARRY HERS3144393
82ABE GREEN739375
92ABE PETERS376354
95JASON KORN3104350
100DAVID BOWEN853336

Friday, October 14, 2016

Last Night's Meetings, In a Nutshell

Nutshell, with Nut Still in Shell, Prior to Shelling

Went to the meeting set up by Parks Without Borders and the Prospect Park Alliance. About 40 people showed...seemed light for turnout, not well promoted. The basic idea is that there's money to fund new entrances and perimeter landscaping and wider sidewalks for the Flatbush Avenue side of the Park. I lobbied for a major entrance just north of the zoo, with a clearer zoo entrance. Everyone wanted bikelanes, though that's DOT's bailiwick. Seems like a MAJOR improvement is afoot. I want a 24-hour newstand at that middle entrance. Safer, and you can ride up and get a copy of the New Yorker at 4am when you can't sleep because you're mulling over your bourgeois problems.

Then it was off (on bike, after a near collision at, you guessed it, Washington/Empire, fuck 'em, y'all, someone's gonna get killed real soon.) to the CB9 ULURP meeting, for a terrific presentation by landuse consultant Paul Graziano. The southside of Fenimore has logged its hours researching its houses, and found that they all have deed restrictions limiting to one-family homes. And while a lawsuit could probably prevent a developer tear-down, you have to pay for it, so the good folks of Fenimore want the extra protection the City zoning can provide. The Block Association wants to downzone the south side, Bed to Rog, and while some on the committee felt it was unfair and unwise to open up zoning conversation with the City, even if it's a private application, good-neighborliness prevailed. Three voted against co-applying with Fenimore. But the majority, Q included, sided with the Fen Block Association, many of whom attended and pleaded their case. They have the goods, and have paid the consultant, and should be allowed to get their downzoning, though the Q and others were understandably envious. The Q was additionally saddened to realize that MTOPP has so thoroughly convinced many of your neighbors that ANY collaboration with the City is not in our interest. It's pure bologna, but hey, some people really, really, really like their Sonic burgers and dilapidated warehouse buildings and storage facilities.

Ben Edwards led a discussion of Parkside Ave, Flat to Bed, and their application to Landmark the houses there. Richard Walkes, who wants to landmark a whole swath of the nabe that's NOT currently included in the Historic District (South PLG if you will), felt that it was more practical for the neighborhood to go in together, and he's even created a non-profit to do just that. The CB tabled the vote on whether to support the Parkside application, citing, among other things, the need to hear from the residents themselves, none of whom showed for the meeting.

Two things you may or may not know. Landmarking does not apply to houses only; rent stabilized big apartment buildings can be just as historically significant, often built by noted architects. And it needn't be contiguous old-time buildings - a single modern building does not a landmark neighborhood negate. so if you think you're unworthy of landmarking, take heart. It's not just about how purdy a building is; it's about history and the worthiness of protecting that history going forward. Paul nailed it though - Landmarking and the agency itself, are notoriously capricious. Who knows who will succeed and who will fail? Only time, and a lot of tears, will tell.

Touch a Truck, Not a Stranger

On the plus side, Trump won't be there to grope the trucks. On the other plus side, you'll be helping support a great local school right here in the ol' 17th District.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Some Neighbors Actively Promoting Development and Teardowns

As the Q has tried (in vain) to point out, not all Development = bad Development. Sometimes it's good to build housing, especially in a tight and overpriced market. That's how prices come down. And given the Mayor's priorities and tactics, that's also how you get new affordable, rent-stabilized housing. Except on City-owned property, like the Bedford-Union Armory, your options are somewhat limited, given the law's basic assumptions of the right to build on privately owned land. Givens? Givens,

Just saying you're against change doesn't mean that change stops. And many benefit from upward rent and development pressure. Actually, anyone who owns land or sells land or builds or does commerce, and let's face it, that's a lot a lot a lot of people who have financial incentive to gentrify and grow.

Take real estate brokers. Now, I have nothing but respect for the real estate broker in question and her  wonderful home up in the Manor. They're lifers, a lot of these agents, full of love for the nabe and its inhabitants. But I was surprised at the enthusiasm she shows for tearing down buildings, talking up the oversized and disruptive 626 Flatbush and overzoned R7 distinction for much of the neighborhood (R7 led to 626 and is helping create elephantine structure all over Flatbush). Developers probably don't need much hyping. I'd frankly have left the house and lot sell themselves, to whomever. But then it IS the seller's choice and right to exact whatever they can from their property. A developer will probably pay twice what a single homeowner would. This is, we must resign ourselves, the age in which we live. And there's nothing that the CB's or your elected leaders seem interested in doing about it.

Perhaps what bugs me the most is that folks in Historic Districts should really be content to enjoy the benefits of their low density housing, rather than promoting the destruction of buildings nearby.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Fall Is a Time For Stuff. Lotsa Stuff.

Do you like going to meetings? No? What about meetings where you are stung by a thousand bees, like this?

Oh shush, I'm just joshing. CB9 ULURP meetings are informative and powerfully invigorating. And there's one tomorrow night! Besides the usual updates, knick-knacks and paddy whacks, there will be some very titilating presentations by two local block associations in Lefferts who are the first off the blocks to submit applications to protect their blocks from unwanted development. The south side of Fenimore is applying to downzone, and Parkside Ave (Flat-Bed) is looking to Landmark. Will the City take up their causes? Stay close to your landline to find out! Ultimately, if they succeed, there's no reason to suspect a dozen more wouldn't follow. But is City Planning to work on these issues piecemeal? My spies say no, but maybe with the right finesse and backhand...

Now don't tell me you haven't seen the scaffolding for the facade change at the Duane Reade at Flatbush and Parkside. That's all it is, according to sources who name sources named Seth Kaplan, he of the neighborhood Facebook page. According to the many well-wishers and congratulators, his letter to Walgreens headquarters (they own DR now) was received favorably and it apparently played no small role in the middle managers' decision to give our very own "deLish" and "Nice!" headquarters a makeover. (remember their mysterious "Apt 5" brand that crept on and off the scene awhile back?) The Q tries hard not to shop the DR - most things he and his family need are available at Ma & Pa's, but sometimes the bright fluorescents and reliable air conditioning just suck you in off the street. Every once or twice a week, one just has to bite the bullet, and then leave the DR with a sense that one's helped America feed its corporate coffers. And all is right in the world.

Ooooh. And also tomorrow night, don't miss the big community meeting about the Parks Without Borders project, which will inevitably intersect our quality of life in important ways. 6 pm at the Lakeside Center.

Lastly word is in that our McDonalds landlord has chosen to subdivide his plot. With a new building coming? Stay right near that landline, folks. No bathroom breaks.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Local "Activist" Spotted Littering Neighborhood With Posters Touting Herself

Gotta love the gumption!

She writes all the copy herself, in the third person no less. Then she's spotted by locals plastering the neighborhood with her own propaganda. Ms. Alicia Boyd was accused of criminal wrongdoing, assault, but the Q never saw much sense in that lawsuit. Lots of people are pissed at her, but the incident in question was pretty minor as ruckus goes. She did LOOK like she was going to clock someone, and she most certainly did resist arrest, knocking over a table and kicking officers as they tried to escort her out of the meeting room over on Nostrand. In another incident that was excused, she assaulted a BBG worker on Washington. Rage against the machine indeed.

What is truly unreal about her campaign to prevent ANY rezoning in the neighborhood - good, bad or indifferent - is that she's fighting her own neighbors in a manner that prevents even the most basic, civil discourse. There are many reasons the neighborhood, and the City, need to consider ways to increase housing stock and develop more rent stabilized affordable housing. But we'll never get there with her histrionics. I've watched with dismay as one local resident after another tries to calm her down long enough to get to the place where we could actually sit down with the City and plan our future. Trying to appease her is a lost cause. How could it be otherwise? Ms. Boyd is creating a cult of personality around herself. If you read her delusional self-aggrandizing copy, you'll see she's loving every minute of it.

Take a look at the picture of her supporters. Do they think so little of you as a neighbor with intelligence and conscience, that they will go to any length to prevent your opinion from being registered? Apparently so.

It's all fine, really. They have none of the power they think they have to prevent gentrification. That's always been the wedge they use to try to convince us they are on the side of the "little guy," when in fact nearly to a number they're all homeowners who've made a million or so dollars off gentrification, the "racism discount" that allowed them to buy homes in the first place. I should know; I'm one of them.

And then there are the well-meaning other million-dollar home owners who will tell you they are for unbridled landmarking and creating a "human scale city." Hey, I like humans as much as the next guy. You know how I like to treat those humans? Let me give you a quick list.

A) I don't call them Uncle Toms or "fat white fucks" and create petitions calling them racists
B) I don't use the dog whistles of anti-Semitism to appeal to those already seething over perceived Jewish takeover of Crown Heights
C) I allow them to discuss and vote in the spirit of democracy
D) I don't waste their valuable time, especially that of neighbors who volunteer to work towards an equitable future
E)  I don't claim moral high ground in a complex debate on class and race and neighborhood character
F) I don't use my "healing" non-profit to raise money for my political and legal battles
G) I don't call my neighborhood "all black" when it clearly is not (seen the subway platforms lately?)
H) I don't ignore the very real need for new housing among lower income working people

And most importantly perhaps, because I do like a brave "I don't give a fuck" activist, I'd love for MTOPP or Concerned Citizens to hear themselves as they fight ANY new development, even as it's happening all around them at market rates only. A "human scale City" might sound nice. But guess what? Humans need a place to live. And increasingly, "human scale" refers only to those humans who already have a comfortable and massively lucrative home of their own

Jane Jacobs was racist and naive, but she had some great points and fought the excesses of an all-powerful city planner. But Jane Jacobs lived in a very different time, when the primary goal was to keep jobs and manufacturing and yes, middle-class whites, right here in the City as they were pouring out for the suburbs. The exact opposite is true today, except replace the word manufacturing with tech and small business entrepreneurship. Her strongest arguments were about public safety for gods sakes! Wonder how she'd have dealt with the crack wars of the '90s. Or what she'd think of the desolate and mostly vacant Empire Boulevard near the Park.

Jane Jacobs is dead. We live in different times. And we need different solutions. Instead, we get the Kim Jong Il of Lefferts Gardens. Did I tell you about the time she bullied the Brooklyn Museum into accepting a "settlement" for having the audacity to host a real estate conference, wherein she would be the keynote speaker along with increasingly out-of-touch ex-planner Tom Angotti? Truly, we have spawned a movement. The word "bowel" might appropriately proceed it.

Speaking of which, the other day a person took a dump between two parked cars in front of my house. Somehow human poo just smells worse and is more slippery and long-lasting than the canine variety. Dropping the kids off at the curb, I guess you could say.