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.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

A Sick Twist In the Saga of 60 Clarkson

Yesterday was quite something, even in the ragged story of a single apartment building on my block. Dozens of current residents, many single moms who've been there with multiple children for a year or more, convened in the lobby to express outrage and fear over being (once again) moved through the Homeless Services system with little regard for the realities of raising children. The treatment, as I've come to learn through countless interactions with the residents through the years, is basically that of refugees in their own country. Make no mistake, Capitalism exacts a toll on those least able to fend for themselves, and sometimes it looks this. A report from WPIX on the shenanigans of one greedy and cruel landlord - Barry Hers - doing his best to make tons of money off the misery of others. And make a good living he has. Because after social services provider CAMBA left the building, Hers formed his OWN social services organization called, darkly ironically, WE CARES. I snapped a picture of the vacate notice given to all the homeless tenants:

And where precisely are these families going to go? 250 Clarkson for one (ugh). Or, as in the case of my friend Merlinda and her six kids, to one of the worst, roach and rat infested heaps of filth you can imagine. Trust me, I've seen the pictures and videos. It's a hellhole, over on East 21st, near Cortelyou. Hola, Ditmas Park Corner! Have fun. Oh, and homeless families, don't forget Farm on Adderley does a killer brunch!

More soon, when I find some internet. Happy 4th!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Everything AND the Kitchen Sink

Thx Kieran C. for this early morning tee-hee

Monday, June 29, 2015

Spring Has Sprung: In Summer

The Brownstoner puts it better than I could. But let me just say that helping a project go from idea to fruition is perhaps the most satisfying thing one can experience. I used to get it making record albums. This, and I'm sure Mr. Rudy Delson and Ms. Amy Musick would agree, is simply a glorious feeling. Regardless of what the critics might say. Way to go David. Way to go neighborhood.

pic: Jeff Scherer for Brownstoner

Child and Nanny Hit By Car Crossing Flatbush

And then there's THIS intersection

Daily News on Accident

Can't begin to say how glad to hear that the child survived. This is a tough, tough intersection, what with all the dollar vans and buses and turns and pedestrians. The only thing that I see that routinely flips me out is the enormous numbers of jaywalkers across Flatbush to get too and from the train. Perhaps another stoplight? Or as Ed Fanning was working on, and different placement for the express bus?

Jeff Bachner pic of Marcia Forde, who was hit in crash

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Refresh the Seal

From a neighbor came a note so utterly unexpected, I just had to post on his behalf. Thanks Chris! I can honestly say this was way, way, way off my radar. It's this kind of thing that makes me so glad I started a blog in the first place.

are those squirrels getting caught in a Dutch windmill? and a yo-yo in the hand of Dutch-man?

As a candidate in the 2014 New York City mayoral race, Bill de Blasio deployed a campaign strategy that vocalized the polarization of the City of New York. Like the Dickensian portrayal of conflict between French peasantry and aristocracy, Candidate de Blasio’s iteration of class in contention called attention to the expansion of the “inequality gap” after the Great Recession of 2008. Pointing to the recovery of Wall Street on one hand and the struggle of millions of New Yorkers on the other, Candidate de Blasio was buoyed to Mayor de Blasio.

In the infancy of his first term, Mayor de Blasio announced the intent of his administration to refresh the relationship between the City of New York and its constituents. At his Inauguration, the newly sworn-in mayor promised to “give life to the hope of so many in our city.” A series of launches in 2014 further revealed the content of his intent- the signing of legislation to lower the citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour, the re-commitment to reducing the homeless veteran population to zero by the end of 2015, and the initiative to impact student learning in 94 of the City’s most troubled schools.

The Mayor’s “refresh strategy” reveals the absence of an intention to refresh the Seal of the City of New York, the hub of government and the City itself. Like the contestation for place (equitable vs. biased, zero vs. multiple, renewal vs. exhaustion), the Seal depicts a cosmos in contention. When examining the Shield, does the windmill resemble St. Andrew’s Cross (“saltire wise”) or the gammadion cross? Does the Latin Motto translate, “The Seal of the City of New York” or “The Seal of the new City of York”? And is the “American Eagle with wings displayed” in flight or alighting “upon a hemisphere”?

On the 100th anniversary of the unanimous decision by the Board of Aldermen to re-establish the Seal of the City of New York, refreshing the Seal provides the Mayor and City Council with the opportunity to jointly demonstrate their commitment to reconciling the two cities. The following three recommendations provide a start:
  1. Clarify, the custodial duties of the Office of the Clerk to ensure the standardization of the Seal; too many variations of the Seal exist in the City;
  2. Update, the visual appearance of the Seal to reflect modern heraldic practice; in its current iteration, the Seal appears two-dimensional and unfinished; and
  3. Commemorate, the sovereignty of the City of New York through an annual flag day on the 15th day of June; the federal government celebrates the Declaration of Independence annually through the 4th of July holiday.
The reconciliation of polarity in the City of New York through a refreshed Seal will not only institutionalize the Mayor’s “One City”, it will energize constituents and inspire other big cities to do the same. Mayor de Blasio demonstrated in his first year that 2014 was the year of refreshing relationships. 2015 ought to be the year to: Refresh The Seal!
Meet in The Middle,

ChrisM Jones 
Light Makes Right
Centennial Anniversary of the Seal of the City of New York
June 24, 2015


From Five Brothers 99 cent store, to Bubble Land. And in between, we saw the ancient sign under the banner that showed this was once a corner drug store. Probably from the '50s I'd say. Remember when that note hung on Five Brothers saying "went home to deal with death in the family?" Home was apparently Yemen, a country ravaged by war. The lives being led by the people all around us are so intense and varied. Never ceases to amaze. This is the promise of the experiment called NYC.

Flatbush at Woodruff.

Friday, June 26, 2015

And In This Corner...

DNA Info on Shooting Stats

Despite the frank talk of community policing, mediation and lesser police presence, the fact remains that shootings in the 70th Precinct are up more than 60% over last year. That's deep in the heart of Flatbush, object of the preposition Equality Of. The number of shootings remains relatively low historically, and the double-digit numbers are not big enough to count out percent gains as mere aberrations, both geographical and numerical. But if you're living in Flatbush, particularly central Flatbush and Ditmas Park, and you pay attention to each incident as it comes, you could be forgiven for thinking things have taken a major turn for the worse. And yeah, for the record, though I don't find it particularly germane, it's mostly people of color shooting people of color. It would be pretty hard (as I heard one commentator say on Crap TV) that America is heading into a race war. From my 48 year old 27-year resident of Brooklyn brain, I'd say business has not changed a great deal in recent years. The races are no more at armed war than they have ever been. But if the word "war" could be changed to "calamitous crisis," I wouldn't hesitate to agree.

The 70th is hot right now. But...and this is a big butt (in keeping with the Q's favorite ass-obsessed gadfly), you've got other nearby precincts experiencing big drops, like in East Flatbush and Brownsville. Can't neglect to mention the 70th has an increase though. Might look like I'd lost my objectivity had I skipped it. (that's a joke; there's no such thing as objectivity, and I can prove it, beyond a shadow of a doubt. that's a joke too.)

I note, if only for my own benefit, four distinct solutions that were presented in detail at the meeting on Wednesday. Some combination might even prove effective.

1: More cops on the streets
2: Less cops and "broken windows," better policing, sensitivity, cultural awareness, fairness
3: More mediation, restorative justice, compassion for the emotional and social support needs of young people, translated into on-the-ground programs
4: Jobs, training, community centers, playgrounds and constructive stuff for folks to do as they mature.

But you know, the cynic in me sees some missed points. Like, it's not all young people committing crimes. Sometimes it's not even drug or gang or youth related. Fancy that! Drug abuse and drug dealing is a big part of the local economy - can't imagine it's MORE so than usual, or even particularly more than the average suburb, per capita. And also, it's not like you can just try "less cops" in a neighborhood and expect crime to drop. Or can you? Certainly decriminalizing narcotics could take some of the cowboy-mentality out of drug dealing. Who knows? I have a feeling we're going to have to try it at some point. Because business-as-usual is basically Jim Crow for the modern age.

I do know we'll never entirely end senseless violence. There's definitely a number below which crime can't really go. It's too much part of human nature. It is a certain kind of crime - particularly shootings in broad daylight - that will never go down easy. Access to guns, boiling over immature resentments, racial policing and policies, pathologizing blackness, poverty, lack of employment, poor schools, broken families, bad parenting, young parenting..haven't we heard enough reasons to believe they're all right to some degree and in some instances, but the overriding fact is that the country hasn't gotten nearly as far on race as it has on gay rights?

Caribbean Bouquet

Man these are awesome (below). If you haven't experienced Labor Day Weekend around here, you're in for a treat. The costumes are so spectacular, the mood so festive, it's contagious. Yes, there are often outbursts of violence and we always hope this year will be different. But anytime you have a party of half a million people spread over a couple square miles, I'm afraid it's somewhat inevitable. So don't believe the hype. West Indian Day is the biggest and brightest NYC celebration, to rival New Orleans' Carnival. Plus J'ouvert, which is quite simply an all night mind-blower.

From a neighbor:

Alicia, one of the costumers for this year's Caribbean Day Parade, will had a preview of her work on display for the public today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) after 4PM until about 7PM at The Place. (The Q was sadly too busy to post promptly, but I hope a lot of you stopped in to ogle. Just check out these beauties!)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Our Meeting Covered Better Than I Could've

Gothamist was there with the deets. Below is an excerpt from writer Nathan Tempey, who took way better notes than I could ever hope to take. So I'm happy to let his be the public record.

Suffice to say that Rebecca Fitting (and I) called the meeting to look for action items and solutions, in collaboration with the 70th, 71st and 67th Precincts, since we live at the intersection of those three. I chaired only to try to moderate, but in retrospect it really wasn't our meeting, and I got the evil eye from a number of attendees. Equality for Flatbush and Imani Henry used the opportunity to push their agenda. Which...was...fine. I felt bad that the precincts were called to a meeting where their tactics would be berated, but hey, they can take it, they're the cops. Still, the group's activism, much like MTOPP's, railroads most discussions into the direction it wants it to go. Apparently we're racist for having called it at all and for not inviting them. Whatever. E4F got their forum. Next time, though, I hope to do something where a wider range of opinions are allowed. Because as neighbor Cheryl Sealey related, all this talk about systemic change is fine. But some of us also want to walk down the street without fearing gun battles. Now, not in a Utopian future. A hard line, I know, but worth noting.

A meeting about crime in Prospect Lefferts Gardens became a referendum on Broken Windows policing when a dozen or so of the 60 residents in attendance sounded off to NYPD reps about what they say are racist and overly-aggressive policing tactics in the area. Several spoke out against the recently announced plan to hire another 1,300 cops in the next year, which coincides with Summer All Out, a program to flood high-violence areas—including the 67th Precinct, which encompasses East Flatbush and part of Lefferts—with cops who would normally be on desk duty.
Early on, one black woman in attendance said she opposed any calls for more police that might come out of the meeting, so long as low-level enforcement is disproportionately aimed at young men of color.
"I have three nephews that are grown," said Vena Moore, a 15-year neighborhood resident and Brooklyn native, to the officers who attended the meeting from the 70th, 71st, and 67th precincts. "They get harassed by cops periodically, and if we're going to have more of that kind of policing with additional cops, then I don't want more cops."
Responding to that concern, raised by her and others in the audience, Det. Robert Thybulle of the 67th Precinct said that some 500-700 officers are headed for retirement in the next year, so the hiring spree is really not a huge gain. Plus, he said, "personally, I think more police can only be good."
Circling back around to the issue after being pressed further, Thybulle, who is African-American, cited the sensitivity training he received at the Police Academy. "I had to do a report on Germany and German society. I had to look at everything related to the food, to the culture, to everything. Everyone goes through that in the Police Academy."
When I caught up to him in the lobby for more information, Det. Thybulle explained that he attended the academy in 1999, and that the project took 2-3 weeks of his 6-month training as a cadet. Thybulle noted that the department added a new, three-day sensitivity training for all officers last winter, a change that came in the wake of a grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
Back in the sweltering basement, meeting attendees shared alarming stories of police misconduct (none could immediately be independently verified). A white woman described being ticketed for being in Prospect Park after dark with her Puerto Rican boyfriend by a cop who asked, "What's a nice girl like you doing in this neighborhood?" then implied that he was making errors on her ticket so that she could get off, but stuck it to her boyfriend.
A longtime resident, Aaliyah Lessey, told of sitting down on a park bench off of Ocean Avenue around 5 p.m. one day, then being ticketed along with everyone else in the park for an unspecified violation. Having known many of the neighborhood officers, she was flabbergasted when one she'd never met asked for her ID and came back with a summons. "If I was smoking or drinking, it was fine, but I wasn't doing nothing," she said. She said a judge dismissed the summons after taking one look at it. Others bemoaned the shutting-down of a longstanding block party, a move the 70th Precinct's Lt. Jacqueline Bourne said was due to a brawl. Equality for Flatbush activist Imani Henry described an hour of monitoring a checkpoint at Flatbush and Church avenues in 2014, during which police stopped only one white driver, and only after cops spotted him talking to cop watchers. Audience members began to raise their voices as the police on hand avoided their questions, saying they couldn't comment on incidents without knowing the particulars, and encouraging the aggrieved to call Internal Affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

To read more, you know what to do.