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, July 28, 2015

Mexican Food and Burgers - After All These Years Still Packin' 'Em In and Packin' 'Em On

The burger. The taco. The cheeseburger. The burrito. French Fries. Tortilla Chips. Pickles. Salsa. Where would the American waistline be without these simple and seemingly unstoppable foodstuff? I've got a firm handle on the burger story. But what about Mexican Food? Great book on the topic of how Mexican food came to dominate the American landscape.

NPR on  Gustavo Arellano's book

Jim Mamary's latest - Burger Mexicano - will soon open at the old Meytex location. Which probably confused a lot of people thinking the Meytex was some variation on Tex Mex, when in fact it was a tradition Ghanian Chop Bar. And so we've gone from something truly exotic to something truly common, and yet something tells me this place will do just fine. Mamary's old Enduro/LPT bit the dust at the top of the year, and was replaced by an unimpressive Mexican joint. So if Burger Mexicano shows any signs of life and zest, it'll be packed to the gills. Especially the Fish Taco. Will be packed to the gills. Fish. Gills.\

Here's the menu, courtesy of Otto on F-book:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

PLGNA Hosts Housing Help Session

Kicking it into high gear, the newly energized Housing Committee of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA) is hosting an important session for both those in crisis and those who want to help. We may have disagreements about how best to solve long-term planning issues, but most all of us agree that in the immediate economic environment people are being illegally harassed, overcharged and discriminated against. This is a story as long as history of landlords, but for these issues in 2015 NYC there are laws to help keep people in their rent-stabilized homes. By focusing on the tenants who have the right to stay put with dignity and fairness, PLGNA and the Crown Heights Tenants Union, UHAB and others have not been content to lobby for better protections going forward. They want justice now, before it's too late and we wake up one morning wondering where our beautifully diverse neighborhood has gone.

Come and learn and/or help. All welcome! PLGNA is ours, to make of it what we will. It needs your support. Let's not be the neighborhood without a strong and respected, even feared, neighborhood voice. Under Quest Fanning, Brenda Edwards, Dynishal Gross, Joyce, Nelson, Cheryl and more we've got some real talent and we need more. So say hello and sign up to become involved!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Empanada City: Lincoln East of Nostrand

Not just an empanada shoppe, Empanada City has incorporated as its own township at 363 Lincoln Road. The first of what the Department of City Planning calls a prototype to outsource to the private sector most of the governmental apparatus of individual parcels of land, blocks and whole neighborhoods, the owners of Empanada City plan to set their own prices, collect tax, serve locally made (onsite) empanadas, provide maintenance for all plumbing infrastructure (i.e. clean or plunge the toilet when necessary), pay for electricity, water and heat out of their own lease arrangement and provide security for the premises by locking the doors and windows to the City each evening. It remains to be seen whether Empanada City will be incorporated in New York State, since the new Governmental Outsourcing laws allow each new city to choose what state it wants to be part of. Some are suggesting that Empanada City might choose New Mexico, marking the first time in the history of the republic that a town resides outside a state's contiguous geographical area. Oh, and the empanadas are rumored to be quite tasty.

Seriously though, this is big news for Eastern Leffertsonians. Opening in October/November. And thanks to Facebook, you can go ahead and "like" it before you even try it! Good lucks guys. Visit their F-book page here.

Oh, and believe it or not (this one is true) below you'll find the familiar visage of  Chef Boy-ar-dee that I came across while googling Chef Boy-ar-dee (incredibly effective that). It reminded me of a simpler culinary time, and so I wiki'd it and found out that Chef Boy-ar-dee (later spelled without the hyphens) was actually an actual guy from Cleveland, an Italian immigrant named Ettore "Hector" Boiardi before cleverly canning his signature dishes and making a mint.

Hector Boiardi changed the spelling of his name for ease of pronunciation, prompting another Frenchman, a famous actor, to change his name to Gerard Dippy-Do.

More Reason To Come Out For the Flabenue Street Fair

Monday, July 20, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pinchin' Myself 6 Ways To Sunday

Is it all just a dream? Are fresh country vittles really coming to the Q at Parkside plaza? According to this very official looking fancy-schmancy document, I'd say we're in business. This weekend!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hold 'Em To It!

Great to see Diana out there rubbing elbows with Jesse and Eric. Election behind, moving forward....

The Q was heartened a full house of elected officials in front of 60 Clarkson yesterday. BP Eric Adams, State Assembly Member Diana Richardson, State Senator Jesse Hamilton, Mathieu Eugene should all be familiar to you. Great messages. They're behind us. They're for bringing housing control back to the City from the State. They want the City to be held accountable for its worst practices, and landlords penalized for dicking-over tenants. They believe that housing should be the number one priority as we surge forward with an unprecedented display of building and development. And yes, gentrification. But all four elected are careful to avoid the sort of class and racial buzz words that create conflict where none should exist. What do I mean?

It should be possible to move a neighborhood forward economically without jeopardizing the contract made with the people who have lived and worked there longest. That's right. You don't need to be nasty to and about newcomers. And newcomers can embrace the old, with courtesy and dollars. Shop local. Get to know your neighbors. Step out of your comfort zone. Like...

There's a shit-ton of amazing food in the neighborhood. Perfect example. Have you TRIED Scoops? If you're a veggie, or even not, there is simply no reason to miss it. And it's right next to 626 Flatbush, y'all! Scoops should make a FORTUNE if all is right in the universe, with all the new professionals moving in. Brilliant Ital takeout? What's not to love? Go to Jus Fishy. Jamaican Pride. Peppas. Melany Da Hot Pot, De Bamboo Express. Try the great new and old bakeries on Nostrand and Rogers. Great new juices shops, like John and Jason's Brooklyn Greenery (5 star Average on that even possible?) and a cute place down by me on Flatbush next to the actually kinda great Rainbow store where I can get a salad too (lord knows I need it, right troll?). Erv's is a terrific little joint, owned and run by a dude in the 'hood down on mysterious Parkside Court. Bluebird & Midwood Flats get thumbs up from imbibers. Coffee places like Tugboat and ToTT and Cinnamon Girl and Blessings and Gratitude and Pels Pies and I.M. Pastry An old world hardware store where you can get your bike fixed (Hawthorne). An amazing computer repair dude (Abdo) and a comic shop (Maverick) on Parkside. One of a kind shopping boutiques (Sista, Tafari, Nykki's) a genuine toy store (PlayKids) and (rumors, rumors) a community bookstore coming (can't tell ya yet). New Mexican, new bars on the Flabenue coming. Parkside Plaza, the Parkside Trees, better traffic patterns, the two best playgrounds in Prospect Park (Lincoln and Imagination) Maple Street School and Lefferts Gardens Montessori and tons of great daycare centers. AND the world's greatest subway line (Q/B) and bus (B41) - and yes, I stand by that pronouncement having lived and worked all over this town. Working on the public schools. We'll get there.

And I can't forget...even if you DON'T take advantage of some of the most amazing hairdressers for kinky hair anywhere in the world, for God's sake appreciate it! So many salons, thriving, families hanging out, guys talking shit, music blaring, the West Indian festival, even Hot Yoga and co-work space (Compound). And yes, gyms (Planet Fitness and Blink). Wig shops. If you're white and don't get it, go rent Chris Rock's "Good Hair." Now. Blow your mind it will.

There will continue to be cultural comfort zones that prevent all groups from flourishing as more money comes to the neighborhood. But it doesn't have to be like that. Yes, some folks are going to move. But we don't have to accept harassment, or blatant racism, or replace every brilliant old-school joint with the latest and trendiest. There are hundreds of storefronts. Thousands of affordable rent-stabilized apartments. The second most outstanding park in the world. Lakeside. The Botanic Gardens. And yes, room to grow. I know that's not popular in some quarters, but if it's going to grow ANYway, by leaps and bounds as I've noted, then let's make sure we get affordable housing out of it, and smart planning along the RIGHT corridors. And protections for height and pollution and schools and...oy vey, been down that road a time or two.

Quite simply put we have an AWESOME opportunity to live the dream of a thriving, integrated neighborhood. And by integrated, I mean EVERY sort of person on the planet is welcome. Hell they're already here!

I hope we're up to the task.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Calling All Everyone: Please Come TODAY July 15 To Show Support

Gothamist's Nathan Tempey just published a piece on 60 Clarkson that gets the story right. At least, the story thus far. This quote from our pal Merlinda gets it about right:
"[Residents] participate in block parties, they send their kids to the public schools, they're active in local civic life," she said. "It's a community. You can't just destroy that because you see dollar signs when you close your eyes."
As she describes it, the building is like a family. People have really pulled together to make the best of a tough situation, many waiting for years for the chance to exchange vouchers for a permanent residence. That is, it's really tough to get back on your feet when you don't have an address to call your own.

As Paul Harvey used to say "and now for the rest of the story..."

Please set aside some time to come by 60 Clarkson tomorrow for a meaningful rally and press conference. We'll try to have as many of the families and block residents and press and elected officials as possible to stand in solidarity, asking the landlord Barry Hers(ko) not kick out tenants immediately, but give them a chance to use vouchers and other means to find a decent next place to live. Is 60, 90 days too much to ask? The Q thinks it makes sense for current homeless clients to be allowed to stay longterm and turn their vouchers into leases right there if they choose, as proper rent stabilized tenants. But the reality is that 60 Clarkson is not going to be a decent home as long as Hersko has his way with it. The best we can hope for is that he's held accountable for his practices and slumlording, and that the building remains affordable to all comers. Though we've heard through the street that he wants to rent to white people now. So don't expect any new navigation from his busted moral compass. 

Please join us tomorrow. At the very least, it'll be fun to see everyone out and supporting each other. If that's not what this life is about, then I simply don't know what is.

Russell's Show

Remember that whole todo about Russell Murphy and his graffiti art on the Sneaker Store? Well...come see his oeuvre at the Tugboat, yo.

Sweet Sneaks

You know how the cobbler works. Bring in your old dress shoes, get 'em back on their feet. But what if loafers and heels aren't your thing, but instead you're a Converse Connoisseur? What a great concept. Check out the article in Caribbean Life on St. Kitts native Courtney Richardson and his store Retro Revivals, between Caton and Linden on Flatbush. Here's wishing Courtney a long "run."

pic by Sara Hylton