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, June 24, 2018

The Chameleon BK Hits All the Right Notes Where Tugboat Used To Was

Neighbors Susanne and Leslie and new cafe Chameleon BK

Coffee, tea or me? Most wise readers would choose coffee or tea. That's just fine...I ain't got time for play anyway. But coffee and a Good Morning Jerk Pulled Pork Biscuit sandwich with pal, musician, piano teacher and tireless entrepreneur Leslie Ward? Always time for that. So off to 546 Flatbush goeth le Q.

You recall Tugboat of course, one of the new breed of coffee shops to dot the Flabenue that opened 5 yrs ago. Chad and Co. recently threw in the towel (he's also part owner of the thriving Midwood Flats brau/chow joint), and that left an opening for Leslie and longtime partner Susanne to realize their dream of cafe ownership. Popping in this Sunday for a bit of brunch it's clear they've reinvigorated the spot through grit, charm, smarts and great music. The first thing the Q noticed was the terrific selection of old and rare grooves, giving the new decor a distinctly pan-Lefferts vibe that seemed reflected in the uber-hip diversified crew that steadily flowed in from 9am on. S&L greeted each customer and many customers were there.

The Chameleon BK. A great name for a terrific addition to the flowering Flabenue.

Chef Ro served up a delicious Jamaican-inspired concoction and an eclectic brunch menu is available along with classic coffee and tea shoppe fare. The Kenyan coffee hit the spot and most of all, Leslie and Suzanne's warmth and pride (it was Pride Day after all) seemed to suggest many happy returns from customers of every stripe.

I'd be inclined to give the place raves based on the owners charisma alone. But with faux objectivity let me say the place has a magic vibe and I expect super success all around.

The Chameleon BK crew

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Important Things - BBG & House Race

So tonight, if you can handle the heat (and I know you can), head up to the School of the Deaf. That's right, up on Eastern Parkway just east of the Brooklyn Museum. And if you've been blessed with good hearing, bring earplugs, because Alicia Boyd and MTOPP and her other acronym FLAC (Seriously, Flower Lovers Against Change or somesuch) are hosting a meeting on the upcoming rezoning requests at the border of the Botanic Garden. Make no mistake. These are massive projects that will lead to a serious change for the recently purchased parcels at the Spice Factory and up by Tivoli Tower. Since CB9 (and yours truly) were squashed by MTOPP (with indirect help from the Borough President and his henchwoman Ingrid) regarding a residential redevelopment compromise plan, developers are doing exactly what you'd expect. Purchasing potentially lucrative lots and applying for rezoning - project by project. We're seeing a number of plans crop up north of Empire, and soon enough you'll certainly see plans for redevelopment from the Wendy's to Utica Avenue. It's merely a matter of timing.

If you haven't been following, I realize that's a lot to take in. It's all documented in the archives here on the ol' tyme blogge, so if you have any doubts, it's all there for the perusing (search Cornell Realty for instance). Here's Boyd's poster that blatantly misrepresents the projects, but, I for one am glad the public is being warned of the impending new micro-neighborhood being planned in SoCro (no, I didn't just write that, and I never would). The project won't look as ominous as this, but yeah it'll change the view from the garden considerably, though you can pretty much ignore the nonsense about shadows. It really won't make much of a difference - not even noticeable except in early mornings when the garden isn't even open, and only at certain times of the year. (If you'd like to see the entire rezoning application and environmental study, just shoot me an email.)

And if you haven't met the charming man running against Yvette Clarke in our district, by all means come out to see and hear Adem Bunkeddeko at my dear namesake Q at Parkside from 7:30 to around 8:30 tomorrow (Thursday) morning. These rush-hour train handshakes 'n' flyerings are a big part of Adem's strategy - to hook every un-beholden-to-Clarke voter and convince them that a) Adem's not a creepy serial killer type and b) he might actually DO something with his gig in D.C. And c) he's young, and it's time to give the next generation their chance, cuz god knows MY generation fucked things up royally in just about every category. But what can you expect, when we started out jaded and listening to Grunge? Or more damning, dancing to Public Enemy and NWA and not doing a damn thing to improve racial justice. Terrible track record. And don't give me that 9/11 changed everything line. If anything, it should've galvanized, not hypnotized.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Old Gray Lady Comes Out For Adem

Well, well, well. Now THIS is interesting. The NY Times likes Adem Bunkeddeko against incumbent Yvette Clarke. Big news y'all. Big news indeed.
pic: Damon Winter for NY Times
The Q met Adem last week - the guy is cool as a cucumber in the crisper. Smart, young and boasting an immigrant-from-Uganda story that boggles the brain of this Entitled White Man from the Midwest (EWMM - pronounced Yewm).

In other words...he will undoubtedly do better than our current ho-hum Congresswoman, whom I must say in nearly 10 years of dicking around in politics here in the 'Bush, I've seen but twice. Pleasant enough...but it's time to move away from the Clarke Dynasty and give the kids a chance to shine. And if Adem takes his cues from another community organizer who used his easy-going manner to breeze to the stratosphere...

Look, he's going to vote the way you want him to, and that's really all you're getting from Yvette at this point. The Q's All In For Adem (AIFA).

Parkside-a-Palooza - This Saturday

Be part of the magic. It used to was a big slab of nothing, til your neighbors the Parkside Committee got together and turned it into an urban oasis, or urbanasis.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Don't Miss This NY Times Piece - Dollar Vans Up Close & Personal

My corner, from the Woodruff chess playing side
Neighbor Edu Bayer took the pictures. Ironically I'd JUST met him, then this came out, the most human and touching look at the City's Dollar Van culture I've ever seen (here in the NY Times). The Q is a huge fan of DV's, even if they cost $2 now (they were a buck when I moved to the 'hood). Yes, a few "cowbody" drivers are terrible aggressive drivers - I make sure I get in vans from one of the main DV companies, and always make sure the van has TLC plates and the driver has the proper registration. If you're in a hurry, or it's late or early or holidays and weekends, the B41 just doesn't cut it. And the DV is always a trip, as well as a cheap, fast trip. I've discovered so much great music by riding them and keeping my ears open.

Congrats to Edu an his wife on the birth of their son. I'm super impressed by Bayer's work, global, political and deep. You can sample on his website. So much talent around here it boggles the mind! Another reason NYC is the most exciting place in the country to live.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Cornering the Market

For so many years, when you thought of the corner of Parkside and Flatbush you thought of and/or/either

  • Popeye's
  • Manssob's Deli that became ParksideZ Deli
  • The Driving School/Bill Pay/Money Order/Notary Public Everything Place
  • The Duane Reade
  • Absurd Traffic and Pedestrian Aggravation
  • First Class Alcoholics Contemplating How To Get Their Next Drink From "First Class" Liquor Store
  • Commuters to and from the Q at Parkside
It's practically a right of passage to become familiar and comfortable with the insanity here. My girls have grown up thinking that the Winthrop to Woodruff stretch of Flatbush is a perfectly normal happenstance of city design, though every once in a Blue Marble I'm struck by just how chaotic is this ode to Jane Jacobsian laissez faire urban coinkidink. Every sort of human, dog and Dollar Van makes its way through this intersection and 99.9% of the time the passage takes place without incident, though a compendium's worth of short stories could be compiled from the multitude of souls present at any given moment.

Lest you get too comfy, here comes the latest test to your nervous system:

More that one Q associate has noted how the ground floor retail space seems destined for a Starbucks. You really can't beat the location, location, location after all. It's "on the way to work" for a couple thousand people each morning. Though let's face it, S-bucks new "anyone can loiter or use the bathroom without paying" policies will probably get a good workout. 

Or maybe we'll get a Hungry Ghost? Have you been to those snooty java joints are? Not the most welcoming of environments, I go say. And if big white male is feeling that way I can't imagine it seems warm and inviting to those who feel marginalized. Just saying. Pretty soon they'll be taking "cards only" like this place I went to in SoHo the other day. Is that even legal not to take legal tender? Seems pretty classist to me, but what does the big straight white male know about such things.

Which makes me think Starbucks is fast becoming the RIGHT sort of business for a neighborhood as diverse as ours. Used to be S-bucks meant gentrification pure and simple. But with solid employee benefits and progressive customer service, not to mention a wildly diverse clientele, I'm actually hoping for a Starbucks here.

That's right. To those of you who think Starbucks is the worst thing that could happen to the neighborhood, I beg to differ. The worst thing that could happen to this neighborhood? Building no more affordable housing. And Ms. Boyd and her evil step-sisters are doing their darndest to see that not a single new home for lower income working people gets built. 

I'll drink a soy mocha latte to that.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Plant Flowers: Tomorrow!

You know you want it. Flowers, that is. Lots of them. All along Ocean Avenue. All you gotta do is come out tomorrow!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Come See How the Other 6% Live! Next Weekend.

dear LMA, you know the Q joshes. You've got the most beautiful blocks in the neighborhood. Your Historic District can't be sullied by rampant development. Sure you have to replace your windows in a period-appropriate style and not paint your brownstone pink. But we love you. Many of my good friends are Manor-dwellers and I would ne'er display jealousy when I myself am lucky enough to own an abode. And yet...tis fun to poke ye now and again.

Each year for decades you've invited rich and middle-class alike to stroll into your homes to gawk or snicker. It's called the PLG House Tour, and since it's been around about as long as the PLG (-Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens-) moniker, the two are somewhat intertwined in the public imagination. And so here we are, another first weekend in June, another chance to envy, mock and share war stories of wrought iron, original crown molding and FIOS.

And in all seriousness, it's a lot of fun so come on out. The game is afoot!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Expand Your World View: Tomorrow!

Maybe you're the sort of person (the Q relates) to wonder what one can do to step out of the bubble and into the real world with purpose and curiosity and a desire to do something truly beneficial for your fellow humans?

I've got just the ticket. And the opening is tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The NYC Housing Crisis Articles You MUST Read

Folks ask me all the time to explain why it's so hard to retain affordable housing in a City full of regulations. I've read literally dozens of articles on the topic over the years. But I've never seen a better explanation of the perplexing complexities of the problem that this one from the NY Times a couple days ago.

PART II: Eviction Machine
PART III: 69,000 Crises

(Tip: If you don't have a Times subscription, just clear your browser of cookies in settings. That resets the number of articles you can read for free)

Everything that you'll read in that article is happening or has happened on my street. I'm pretty certain fate is telling me to write a book on my block alone. There's the townhouses w/legal and illegal apartments, approaching $2 million. There's the half-stabilized half-coop buildings. There's the old mostly Section 8 building that went condo. There's the Victorian teardowns. There's the two new big apartments buildings being built. There's new ownership of old mostly stabilized buildings, and the "churnover" that typically accompanies the rush to profits.

And then, of course, there's 60 Clarkson. Not three years ago it was mostly homeless families, with a slumlord making bank off the backs of miserable homeless and stabilized tenants. Now, he's charging $2500 for two-bedrooms, only to gleefully watch those tenants quickly move out because they can't handle the neighbors and the squalor all around their overpriced cheaply renovated apartments. It's heartbreaking to see the stream of in and out at that building. No one's happy. Not the new tenants paying top dollar, not the old tenants getting squeezed, not the precious few homeless families hanging on for dear life. And the landlord gets to add 20% to the rent on each turnover, taking his apartments out of the life-saving rent stabilization program altogether.

If the plight of NYC renters could be expressed in one sentence?

No one's happy.

Please, read the article. It'll make such a difference to your experience of the suffering all around us.