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, January 20, 2017

I Think I Can See Trump Tower From My Apartment, Ma!

It's All About the View
Lest we forget just how much a view matters to a big d Developer, the Q offers this evidence. Has Lefferts ever made a Downtown Brooklyn "Big Belly" trash bin before? I doubt it. The best way to sell the Parkline, a/k/a 626 Flatbush, or any of the other tall buildings soon to sprout north of Empire Blvd (and eventually all over the un-landmarked portion of the neighborhood) is to sell the view. Granted, many of the lower-floor apartments won't see much more than the sky and the Q train, with a frequent rumble as soundtrack.

Of course, building up is the only way to make way for growth, growth and jobs being an essential part of what makes this City so attractive in the first place. As it has for 150 years, NYC has grown around transit, from boats to bridges to subways. We're the "next stop" on an never-ending march towards the City's very finite border. Barring the occupation of Long Island, the eastern edge of the City remains the barely noticeable DMZ, with the only obvious changes being the DOT signage and alternate side parking regs.

Each day brings word of new purchases, plans and razings of 100+ year-old structures. We may, or rather we will PROBABLY, see a down-turn in the next year or so, which may once again require a radical rethink of policies and activism. The Q remains saddened by the inability of the powers-that-be and activists-that-are to recognize how we are missing the opportunity of a century to choose how and where we want to grow. The moneyed interests will continue to do the choosing, the buying of property and the influencing of politicians. And just as the billionaire oligarchs waltz into the seats of ultimate power, we seem willing to hand over whatever little negotiating rights we have. The moment has passed CB9 by...even the agencies aren't coming out to meet us anymore. We are a laughing stock. No, worse, we are being ignored. And who can blame them? We made them unwelcome and sullied their good names. And did we achieve anything for all the name-calling, race-baiting and chair-hurling?

Nope. What a world-class waste of my time were the years on the Board. I can point to not a single thing I, or we, accomplished. Except the one thing that I swore I would see before I died. The awakening of the Flatbush Trees at Empire and Flatbush. Thank you Pearl Miles, Jake Goldstein and David Eppley for helping make that corner just a little more hospitable. Oh, and Rudy and the Parkside Crew for the Plaza at my beloved Q at Parkside.

And now, off to Washington to add my fat-assed body to the resistance. I'm sure to have far more efficacy as one among 250,000 than I did as one among 50. Math, it appears, DOES lie on occasion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Maple & Flatbush - Man Busted Selling Guns Outa His Car


Busted at the Golden Crust. If allegations proven true, good riddance to Mr. Marcus Gamble. Anyone selling illegal guns in our nabe qualifies for a special low-hung rung on the Lefferts Social Registry, if you ask the Q, which you didn't.

Was strange to note the same stock image of guns used across news outlets. Clearly we're living in an age of post and repeat. And repeat.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Car Explodes Into Flames on Flatbush and Lenox


Early this afternoon. No word on injuries. Anyone?

Good Times, Good Vibes


So nice to see neighbors enjoying the MLK holiday. Local resident Carmen of Kiddie Science was there - above you can see how engaged the kids were in discovering that black is made of every color. Great experiment, great metaphor.

Carmen, by the by, just closed on a lease for a space at 509 Rogers tween Midwood and Rutland, from which she can build her Frankenstein host classes for our young Einsteins. Once the lab is up and running, longterm goal is for more youth-oriented bizzes to become part of her Mall of America Community Center for Cool Classes (or CCCC).

Carmen's great; Kiddie Science is great. For more info, you know what to do.

Also at the celebration yesterday a hilarious reading by Javaka Steptoe, another cool neighbor, whose terrific book on the young Jean-Michel Basquiat called (of course) Radiant Child. If you're looking for a perfect gift for a youngster, I highly suggest you shout at Alexa hop on over to Greenlight Bookstore at 626 Flatbush and grab a copy.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

No Better Place To Celebrate MLK Than Right Here

Always a Terrific Event - Close To Home
At a moment when the Prez-elect is slamming a true civil rights hero and icon (John Lewis), a comrade of the great Martin Luther King, Jr. himself, and calling his district (a very diverse district in fact) a hot mess and crime infested, let's take a moment to reflect on King's legacy. He was WAY more radical and powerful than even the tepid history books reflect. His presence is felt, and missed, in every important social and cultural and political battle taking place right now.

Where do we go? Besides heading to D.C. next weekend, I say we head on over to Grace Church on Monday and remember the key phrase "we the people."

This is not a test, America. I repeat, this is not a test.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Lefferts Makes the Short List Of Nabes To Preserve

Lest you think that the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Heritage Council isn't earning your donations, check out who just made the Six to Celebrate list from the Historic Districts Council. The info below. Will you consider donating now? Remember at the moment we're talking Ocean to Nostrand, Fenimore to Clarkson, roughly.

Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn
The Prospect Lefferts Gardens Heritage Council, the Parkside Avenue Block Association, and Concerned Citizens for Community Based Planning have worked to give residents a voice about current rapid development that has left this neighborhood with an unprecedented number of demolitions. With only one, small historic district and a much higher-density zoning that is ill-suited to the existing built environment, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens is rapidly changing in scale, character and identity due to rowhouses and other smaller buildings being replaced by speculative, high-rise, “luxury” development. Residents have begun to document and make the case for the preservation of portions of their unprotected historic neighborhood before it disappears forever.

DOT To Take Smart Approach To Flatbush Bike Lanes

This Just In...

A trusted source says that the DOT has finished a proposal to create bike lanes on Flatbush between Empire and GAP that sidesteps controversy and elevates common sense to its proper spot atop the urban pancake like so many pats of delicious butter...

It's gonna run along the Botanic Garden side, avoiding a fight with drivers over use of those precious parking and driving lanes. The move was announced at last night's Prospect Park Community Council meeting. Remember, they still have to present to the community, so you'll have plenty of chances to bitch and moan.

I have no pictures of the project, but I did receive some good news, first reported by Breitbart, about the new Food Truck coming to the recently announced joint venture between British Petroleum and Borough President Eric Adams at the triangle of Flatbush/Washington/Lefforts to be unveiled and rebranded as the BP Plaza: Rendering of said food truck below (Balloon Rides to be provided by Phat Albert, with hot air provided by soon-to-be-outgoing Council Member Mathieu Eugene):

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Time To Act Was Then

It may still be a longshot, but you can't pretend that the effort isn't long overdue. Watch this video, share the video, and give to this effort.  

If after you see the video you have questions, or require more detail, I ask that you consider sending me an email and will let you in on the activities of the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Heritage Council. There are reasons not to be too specific about properties, personnel and logistics, since to a certain extent this is a race against time to beat back the efforts of developers to manipulate our miserably out-dated zoning regulations and their near constant attempts to take advantage of current homeowners. This is an effort best handled face to face and house by house, building by building, block association by block assocation, so we can all recognize our common ground and need to protect certain aspects of the community we call home. Change is good, change is inevitable. But some kinds of change are unbearable and frankly unnecessary.

The nutshell argument is this:

The Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District (roughly Fenimore to Lefferts/Sterling) has been extremely successful in maintaining the character of PART of the neighborhood. But its designation in 1979 left out huge chunks of the nabe that have equally historic value. Surprising to some, the same architects and vision were applied to the "other" parts of the neighborhood, even if the Victorian rowhouses of Midwood and Maple are what most people think of when they think of "preservation." Even the pre-war apartment buildings are now nearly 100 years old, with some famous and notorious architects and developers embedded in the history. I'll leave it to Richard Walkes and the rest of the Heritage Council to make their case - they're currently raising money to finish the applications for inclusion on the National Historic Registry and to the City's Landmarks agency. A great deal of research is being done by talented folks. If you join the effort we'll be sure to take you along for the ride, and some of it is just plain fun.

Due in part to the current PLG Historic District, pressure towards new development has been shifted to blocks north and south and east and southwest (like Caledonia), areas with too-high zoning, and to the avenues, without ANY protections or obligation to build affordable (i.e. below market) housing to help preserve the neighborhood's diversity, both income-wise and cultural. It's big stuff, and as I've complained many, many times before here on ye olde blogge, there are some in the community who prefer to do NOTHING rather than plan, landmark and dialogue. Others feel obliged to slow us to a crawl. In a word, it's excruciating to behold.

It may all be too late; it might not work. But it's worth a try. If you have the capacity, please consider a tax-deductible contribution to the non-profit that has been created specifically to address these issues, as they build an all-out multi-block strategy to landmark. At the very least, this new organization will provide a home for the contemplation and discussion of these issues OUTSIDE the older and more well-established Lefferts Manor Association. To a certain extent, these issues are ours - those of us who live on the south side of Fenimore and below. To date, too many decisions and activist actions have been focused to "the north."

Prospect Lefferts Gardens Heritage Council, INC from PLGHC on Vimeo.

Been Away Too Long, Sir Flatbushed

What he lacks in quantity she makes up with quality. Flatbushed is back. On "The Dugout" of Flatbush and Empire, from the Dodgers days, comes a story to good to miss. The Q's let it go for awhile, but just think of the possibilities of reactivating the space and buildings at the northern entrance of the Prospect Park Station. They use to be private businesses, and maybe now should be public, open and useful. That parking lot is yet another blight on the nabe. For now, enjoy a good yarn well told:

480 Flatbush, Just North of the Pros Park Entrance Now Owned by NYCTA

Friday, January 6, 2017

On Race Part 2017: The Sickening Successes of Dylann Roof

Domestic Terrorism has a specific definition, outlined in the much-maligned Patriot Act, and the wording is meant to make clearer the difference between a lone act of malice and an act that is intended to provoke a response in the greater population. The word "domestic" is pretty much absurd, since, say, an American who takes lives in the U.S. but in the name of the Islamic State would NOT be branded Domestic Terrorism, when in fact it meets every bit of the definition:

  • Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
  • Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
  • Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
Since no one's asking, I'll go out on a limb and say straight up - terrorism is terrorism. You've got a political goal in mind when you do your damage, you're a terrorist. You intend your targets to suffer IN THE NAME of a "higher" goal, you're a terrorist. In fact, WHO the terrorist destroys is less important than what they and/or the act REPRESENTS. Follow? For some reason I find it very difficult to find media commentators who rely on this definition of terrorism when they broadly try to make sense of the modern world. Dylan Roof is a terrorist. Unlike other mass shootings, this guy wants to provoke a greater "race war." The act is not the end that justifies the means; it's the beginning that justifies the means. He is not insane in the classic sense. He is a warrior.

Roof shows no remorse. He claims soundness of mind. He's no different than the jihadists in Istanbul or France. He just has a different agenda. And that agenda - the intimidation and subjugation and even expulsion and destruction of black people - has a long and bloody history. Were he on the "right" side of history, he might even be a hero, brave and stoic, attacking the "enemy" with fierce abandon, knowing full well that his own life is in peril.  

The kind of racism that Roof practices is one of the reasons that gentile white folks don't like allowing themselves to be seen as racist. Surely there's a difference, we say, between the clueless daily indignities offered up by white bosses and colleagues and even friends - the unplanned and unINTENTIONAL racism - and the in-your-face run-for-cover kind? The Roof story - and now the inflammatory Facebook Torture story - are perfectly timed and matched to create the illusion of widespread racial unrest and violence. So just watch the nation pivot from rational conversation about state sponsored terrorism against black people (mass incarceration, police violence, profiling) right back to using the very most extreme actions to illustrate the bigger problem. You know the one - that black and white can't get along, that segregation is merely a common sense way to deal with a massive cultural divide.

The pictures that have dominated coverage are striking:

In both pictures, the subjects are looking at YOU. Which side are you on, they beg?

Good Lord, this could be a picture of an indie DJ collective for chrisakes
Dylann Roof succeeds in his mission in so many ways.

1) He convinces us that there is a difference in his kind of terror, not just terrorism worthy of the name.

2) He breathes fear and insecurity into the perceived safety of a House of Worship, where spiritual people have often tried to extend an open door policy of Love and Acceptance and Welcome. (L.A.W.)

3) He gives "average" racists cover, ensuring that yet another generation of run-of-the-mill white supremacists and separatists can claim a moral "out."
4) He feeds a narrative of distrust and fear that suggests law-abiding white AND black folks need an authoritarian state to combat "natural" forces.

5) He offers the media a dream-story, so outrageous and historically significant as to dwarf #BLM activism

The media, without coercion or necessarily malice, force us to confront the above images simultaneously, and to imagine that Picture A is pitted against Picture B. Thus, the WAR is on. Roof wins.

God help us all. If the Nation is gullible enough to fall for a thin-skinned bullshit salesman, it's certainly capable of being sold the Dylan Roof as martyr story. In a sense, there is no ending where the other begins.