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.

Monday, May 23, 2016

More Creative Use Of Out-of-Date Zoning

828 New York Avenue
Just outside our district is this creative use of R7-1 zoning on New York Avenue near SUNY Downstate. By purchasing this two-family, they get to build up 7 stories.

The 23 story buildings on Flatbush and Nostrand and Linden are all a result of lame zoning that pretty ignores the current size of adjoining buildings. You can see more on the City's zoning map of the area: Zoning Map . Change the 17b to 16d in the URL and you can see the rest of our neighborhood's zoning designations. The Q continues to argue that these designations, dating to 1961, are woefully inadequate towards the planning of the neighborhood, We're missing opportunities for downzoning and affordable housing at a depressing clip. Thx to one very vocal neighbor, in particular.

Notice for the above came from NYYIMBY.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Crash the Lefferts Coop Today and June 5

You know we have our own little food coop, right? I still can't believe they pulled this off. When they started having "meetups" to talk about it a few years ago I thought "right, good luck with that" assuming it was some people pissed about the tough rules at the Park Slope Food Coop and just letting off steam. Lesson? Do NOT underestimate the people of Lefferts!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Diana Richardson Got Your Back? Stop By Tomorrow May 21 and Find Out

You want change? You want results? You want politicians to step up to the plate and address the issues that matter to you? Then no more of this complain, complain. Get on board. You're welcome to join the parade, the fight, the dialogue. Don't like what you see over at your Community Board? Get involved elsewhere. Come on down to a new convening of neighborhood stakeholders, to meet with agencies and have your voice heard. It's called "Civic Minded" and the next meeting is May 21 at MS61 on Empire & New York Ave. Follow me on Facebook, people. Come on up to Albany for a protest. Get to know the players, and the enemies. Check out my videos. Let's get real about what's really happening, people!  *

Welcome to the world of Diana Richardson. The above is an amalgam of comments she's made in person or online in her year or so in the State Assembly. If you live 'round here, she's quite likely YOUR NY State Assemblyperson. Smart, hilarious and sharp of tongue, she is exactly the right leader for the right times. She's 33. No, that is not a misprint. The way politics work in NYC she will likely be in our lives for a long, long time. So why not get to know her before she becomes, I dunno, governor or something in 2041 or some such.

pic by Nicholas Brooks for NY Times
Start chatting with her and you KNOW she's a local girl. She know everybody who's been here more than 10 minutes. I first got to know Diana as the brash voice talking tough at Community Board 9 meetings. She ran for Treasurer after the long, long time Treasurer died, and she wanted to open up the books and see what was really going on in the District Office. With an annual operating budget of under $200,000, the answer was...not much. The office is just an office. It's the person doing the job that matters, and I soon learned that many on the Board did not care for longtime DM Pearl Miles personally. (The fact that she was damn good at her job didn't matter much, and she was tossed last Fall once the numbers were against her and a new Chairman was in place following nearly 30 years of the Pearl & Jake Show. Chairman Goldstein, it turns out, was NOT as popular as one would have thought. But I still love him and enjoy every chance I get to talk to him. Stories, he gots stories!) So despite the fact that there was little to unearth as Treasurer, it was clear that DR was an ambitious voice in local politics. Having worked under longtime State Senator Kevin Parker, she knew the ropes. But the power players - like Eric Adams - didn't think she was ready yet I guess. She thought otherwise.

You get tell DR was going places. The surprise abdication of Karim Camara from the NY Assembly  seat sent people scrambling to fill the role. A hilarious screw-up led to no Democratic nominee, and Richardson roled into office past Shirley Patterson, Geoffrey Davis and one-time candidate Demetrius Lawrence, now unpaid overworked Chair of CB9. The victory meant single-mom Richardson was off to Albany. Luckily she had her ducks in a row, some good advisors and a cat-like sense of readiness for the Ways of the Wolves. Because as she described to me in a recent sit-down, they don't exactly welcome you into the old boy's club. Even if you're an old boy! There's no "how-to" manual. You have to get your bearings quickly and on your own, follow the leaders, get in with the cool kids, brush up on your lingo and ask, ask, ask. Thankfully, your pol does not suffer from shyness, and she's been able to tackle tough bills, make important friends, bring home some bacon, and become part of the all-important movement to take back the Legislature for the Democrats. For as followers of Albany Football well know, the City is forever beholden to Upstate Republicans who love to deny NYC its due. And one of the biggest issues for Downstate legislators has been the absurd reality that the City's rent laws and many development agencies are State controlled. Leaving the City with little recourse to deal with runaway rents, building and land prices. That can change, but only when the Dems are in the lead.

So unlike our Councilman, who seems to grasp issues the way fists grasp water, Diana knows precisely what's at stake and what course to take. And by gum she might have the tools and personalities to make some breaks fall our way. (yes, sometimes it takes more than one personality).

After talking with her for an hour at her District Office recently, I decided to pretend I was writing her platform, based on her comments, videos and things I've read from her online. Okay. Here's my 5 Point DR Agenda:

1) Housing
2) Empowerment
3) Activism
4) Violence
5) Youth

That spells H.E.A.V.Y. The Diana Richardson agenda.

By housing, of course I mean keeping people in their homes, creating more opportunities for low income housing, ending predatory practices and preferential rent spikes and more City control of our rent destiny.

By empowerment I mean that folks in our community, young to old, need to dig deep and find the inner resources to go out and believe in themselves, from education to jobs to spiritual fulfillment. That might sound squishy to you, but I assure you that many people in our community could benefit from a world that values them, their potential and their contributions.

By activism, I mean DR believes you can't just sit on your duff and complain. By getting out there and making your voice heard, you can be a guiding light for change. That's about empowerment too.

Violence is a plague, a disease worth curing, and you make it your goal to end both the symptoms and the causes. In one year she's already brought home resources to fund anti-violence initiatives that are less about brute force and more about community based policing and solutions.

Youth. Self-explanatory. Nothing changes for the better without investing in the future.

Go to her Assembly site and you can see her videos and get to know her personality a bit. If you can stomach The Facebook, then check out her feed.

Feel free to disagree. But I think DR is the real deal, and we should encourage her to act in the interests of all. See something you believe needs to be changed? Let her know. Get to know her. USE her. That's why we set up this whole damn republic in the first place.

House Tour Sunday - Do It Before It Turns 50!

Has it really been 46 years since the Q first created the PLG House Tour? I was 3 at the time, but my prescience was as sharp then as it is today. Those were good times...not exactly Good Times, but kinda like it. Me and Mayor Lindsay hatched the idea over egg creams. Seems so silly now, but we really worried that NYC would go the way of the Dodo. Such memories...

Flash forward 46 years and the tour is still hopping. And man, business is GOOD if your business is real estate. Folks are flocking here and paying more than $2 million for a house! Bob Marvin, longtime tour operator, bought his for (get this) $750 and a subscription to Prevention Magazine. Talk about horse thieves!

Below, find the deets. And if you see Bob, remind him about the deed restriction he and I placed on his house - to only sell to supporters of the ERA Constitutional Amendment. (You see, back then, ERA stood for Equal Rights Amendment - it wasn't a real estate broker.) He may have forgotten, since not long after he started a political club with Ayn Rand, following their whirlwind romance in Malta. Bob used to run a speakeasy there. He once said to me "of all the gin joints, of all the bars, in all the world, she walks into mine."

The point? He'd still be running that dive if it hadn't been for us chance trip on the PLG House Tour.

More hard facts:

Have you been on the PLG House & Garden Tour? Please support this annual event by purchasing tickets at the following local merchants: Bluebird, Gratitude, Little Mo Wine, Play Kids, PLG Drink, Tip of the Tongue, Trixie's and Tugboat Tea. Or purchase online at

The 46th Annual Prospect Lefferts Gardens House & Garden Tour will be held on Sunday, May 22, 2016 from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM

For more information see

"The tour is so worth it." - Callia Piperides

"The house tour is very important to me. My wife and I fell in love with the neighborhood after going on the 1974 tour, stopped looking at houses ... and closed on our Midwood Street house four months later. For that reason I've worked on every annual house tour since 1975..." - Robert Marvin

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Raccoon You Believe This Guy?

Every night we're visited by the same guy. You might be too. I hear the varmints have been spotted on fire escapes even.

This guy we've taken to calling Don Rackles. He's been totally chill with the ferals we've been feeding, but when it comes to priorities he gets to eat first. What do you think? A problem that needs addressing? Or will these guys die out on their own? Trying to think what predators they have. Like cats, I can't think of any. Maybe really mean squirrels?


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hilarious Comps I: Get Thee To a Nunnery

From the Q's Cleveland correspondent comes word that in a homey area of "The Sixth City" called Cleveland Heights is currently on the market for about what you'd spend on a 3-bedroom coop on Winthrop Street. Knowing Midwesterners like I do, it's not clear to me how well residents of the "Metropolis of the Western Reserve" would appreciate the silliness of residing in such a home. And yet, isn't it every little girl and boy's dream to live in something like this?

The Cleveland Castle was custom built in 1910 for Joseph Randolph Nutt, president and board chairman of the Union Trust Co. treasurer of the Republican National Committee, and a personal friend of Republican President Herbert Hoover. The Cleveland Castle is in such immaculate condition because it served as convent and was maintained by the Ursuline nuns of St. Ann Church from 1948 to 1983. It is registered as a historical home under the Cleveland Heights Historical Society.
 For more pics and pangs of something unsettling just shy of heartburn, take a gander here. The Downside? Living in C-Town, I suppose. Working as a docent at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But on the bright side, as Sinatra's song about Cleveland goes:

If you can make it here, you can probably make it in Green Bay, it's up to you Cleve-Land, Land of Cleves.

For kicks here's a Cleveland Tourism video our correspondent sent not too long ago:

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Help! Info!

I thought maybe these things were gonna be super space-age tricked-out with all sorts of digi-doodles. Turns out the blue florescent light is the only cool thing about them, and once these dorky pylons get even a wee bit vandalized they'll likely become the ugliest part of your daily commute.

So how do they work? I wondered, so I pushed the mysteriously uninteresting button marked "information." Know what happened? A scratchy speaker-phone auto-call got made to a disinterested receptionist, probably from the 311 pool. So I made up a simple request. "How do I get to Coney Island from here?" Now granted, I was standing on the downtown platform at The Q at Parkside station (natch) and knew damn well if I hopped on the next train I'd be on my way. I'm not kidding now, I was put on hold twice, while the attendant tried to figure it out for me.

That the MTA spent more than a single Harriet Tubman on these things is outrageous. 99 out of 100 people these days have cell phones. What in God's name are these oversized light sabers supposed to do that a cell phone can't? And in the rare occurrence you don't have one on you, or the battery is dead, you can ask someone to make a call for you. Or for advice on how to, I dunno, stand clear of the closing doors or some-such. And with the money they spent on these glow-tubes they could have bought everyone in NYC a new phone anyway.

Hell, why not put battery-charging stations in instead? And wifi in every station? Now you'd save some lives. And allow people to tweet from inside the tunnel, which is what we really, really, really want to be doing as the world slowly burns and Beelzebub prepares for yet another record year of immigration.

Barely Know It's There

If you like what you see there's more where that came from. Be sure to send a thank-you note to MPAV (the Movement to Protect Alicia's Views) for the finished products. All market rate - only the best for you, Lefferts! (By the way, the Parkside Playground from which these were taken, is looking terrific. The landscaping is really starting to show and the blooms are righteous. If only I could say the same for the views!)

Quite proud of my composition on this one. Winthrop never looked so...odd. Pic taken on my $60 ASUS phone

More Misery @ 60 Clarkson

The news trucks have returned. On Clarkson, that's rarely good news. (Is it EVER good news when the local news shows up on your block? Makes you think about what it takes for something to be called "news" at all.) Last night, on the 6th Floor of the most infamous building in the neighborhood - 60 Clarkson - a young woman, just 22 years old, was stabbed to death by an irate, insanely jealous, probably intoxicated, man. The woman, essentially homeless but bouncing around, had recently left the building only to return, caught up in a bad crowd, part of an extended family that long ago should have been moved from the building to provide a safer environment for the many children, younger than the victim, who are part of the household. And yes, they were there when the man broke the door down to gain entrance.

The Q learned some other tidbits best shared with the police. Imagine living in a building where an angry man busts down a door and in a fit of rage grabs a knife, and maybe someone neglects calling 911 long enough for the assailant to get away? The details will be rehashed I'm sure, but the murderer has fled, though by all accounts he won't be able to get far, since he's been identified as the assailant by many.

Once again, the Q's heart is heavy, knowing that a life was needlessly lost, and many children scarred by this tragedy, not just the misery of poverty and dysfunction and the inability of a City to shut down a monstrous landlord - Barry Hers.

Folks, this could have been easily prevented with proper security in the building. How can you have a de facto homeless shelter for families, with many of the mothers being victims of abuse, and not ensure the safety of the people inside? How much does that even cost? More than the cost of human lives apparently. That was the sick calculus that led to this young woman's death. The cops might not haul you in, Barry. But in the court of morality, you are guilty of the most heinous crimes. May you suffer torment and the pangs of a guilty conscience, if not here, at least on the other side. Feel free to go there anytime. We won't miss you.