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.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

NYC: Shovel Your Walk!

Amazing how you can get a ticket for not shoveling, but the City itself gets a pass. Nice article here about slick sidewalks that are basically booby traps to maim and even kill. And always at the heart of any story about Lincoln Road, there's Dynishal Gross. Amazingly NY1 got the bridge over the subway cleared of ice and snow. When 311 doesn't work, there's always the media. Video and story below.

Ice in the City




Diana Richardson's Cooking With Gas

I'm actually surprised that folks are buying the story that Guillermo Philpotts "failed" to file his paperwork to get on the Democratic party line for the 43rd Assembly District. Y'all, Philpotts is a bit of boob, but he ain't THAT booby. Clearly somebody got to him, maybe even made certain promises of _____. As in, who knows what was worth enough to him to drop out of the race. With Clarence Norman in the picture, you gotta believe that there was no outbreak of Scruples on the scene.

Meanwhile, I'd spoken to Diana Richardson just last week and she was
feeling demoralized about the whole race, seeing that the "machine" was going to try to put loyalist Shirley Patterson on the line, despite a very low profile after years of hanging around the party as district leader.

But don't count Diana out til the svelte lady sings. She managed to pick up the Working Families Line (that Tish James famously rode to the Council in the 35th) AND the Green Party. With no Democrat on the ticket, I think it's fair to say that Ms. Richardson went from outcast to front-runner in a matter of days.

Article on Diana's Juggernaut
Don't let that sweet smile fool you. She'll go toe-to-toe with any Dude.

I'll be sure to print an interview with her in the coming weeks to help you decide for yourself whether she's the best candidate to represent the neighborhood. Geoffrey Davis, brother of beloved slain former Councilman James Davis, after which the building I work out of was named, has started his own "Love Yourself" party. And while that name is pretty great considering how many politicians love themselves enough to run and then steal our hearts and money, I don't see him being able to rack up supporters like Una and Yvette Clarke and Kevin Parker and others who've jumped on the Diana Train. I would expect that Eric Adams and Jesse Hamilton, who previously would have supported Patterson and probably were actively or tacitly involved in getting her name on the ticket, will have to eat a bit of humble pie and come around to DR. And you know what? Every man on a power roll needs to cool their jets every now and then, and remember where they came from - us. That a strong-willed woman is making her mark should hopefully keep their ambitions in line with the people's will. And that's said with the knowledge that Eric and Jesse could do a lot of good for Brooklyn. I'm just saying...keep it real gentlemen. We're counting on you.

And congratulations Diana. You've been promoted to prime time.

(God I can't believe I'm one of those guys talking about local politics...ugh)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Metal Bench Defies Laws of Physics - Buckles Bizarrely

Honestly now, how does one do this?

There are a couple airline-size liquor bottles under the bench, but I'm pretty sure alcoholism does not bestow superhuman strength - just the illusion of it. Parkside Avenue for the umpteenth time again defies logic and beggars belief. Did someone smash this thing with a sledgehammer? From the side, top and bottom at the same time? A three-way sledge?

Perhaps one of the canners who frequents the Pioneer bottle return station can bend metal with his mind?

Holy Cow. Are You Kidding Me?

In the previous latenight post I told you of the defeat of the Democratic Windmill in one Guillermo Philpotts' once quixotic attempt at elected office. Then, somehow, he failed to fill out the paperwork by the deadline (midnight Tuesday), meaning he can't run on the Dem line. In fact, NO ONE can run on the dem line. Meaning we'll be choosing our Assembly Person from three (or more?) independent candidates.

Here's the story. I could barely finish it because I spit my Yerba Matte all over my monitor:

 http://observer.com/2015/03/bizarre-paperwork-error-will-mean-no-democratic-nominee-in-brooklyn-assembly-race/

Yerba huh, you ask? The Q? I thought he was a strictly cheeseburger and sundae man. Well, I'm on a cleanse. Blame it on our doula, from the homebirth of Little Miss Clarkson FlatBed, III. She dared me; I took the dare. Three weeks of torture and bowel movements. I wonder if placentamales are allowed? The meat's still in the freezer after three years. I think. What a very, very odd tradition. I get saving wedding cake for a year, but...

Need a doula or midwife? Shoot me an email and I'll give you the recommendation of a lifetime.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Ass. Philpotts?


Your Next Representative in Albany?

Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. While our asses weren't looking some crazy-ass shenanigans put a dumb-ass on the line for Assemblyman from the 43rd District. Yeah, OUR 43rd district. The position that Karim Camara left just weeks after winning another reelection. The Q'd been talking to buddy Diana Richardson about the scene (she plans on running on a third party line of her own making) about the process and I couldn't believe my ears. The party machine, or lack thereof, was planning on putting up the elderly (but sweet) Shirley Patterson, longtime female district leader (a job that doesn't matter until it does - like now) on the line, since she's a loyalist, and when you're building a new power hub in Central Brooklyn you need to know how your colleagues are going to vote, and that they'll support you through thick and thin. Best to put up a pal!

Does all that make any sense? Stick with me, it get way way better.

So Governor Andrew "Ugly But Fit" Cuomo calls a special election, and that set the scene for the above stuff. May 5 - put it in your calendar! No time for a primary of course! And in Brooklyn, the Democrat usually gets like 108% of the vote. So this is one of those lovely moments for democracy when a bunch of numbnuts sit in a room and choose a candidate who's a near shoo-in. Who's in that room? Well, sometimes dozens of people who have shown their loyalty to the party by, you know, being loyal to the party, and ingratiating themselves to elected officials and District Leaders (that job you were wondering what it was, but that's sort of what it is - your Assembly District's dude or dudette making decisions about poll workers and what judges appear on the line and what-not. And by showing they can win an election, even for an unpaid seat like District Leader, they can shore up backing to run in a REAL race.)

But here's the deal. While the 43rd's Democratic committee people weren't looking or adding pals to the committee, this one goofball, Guillermo Philpotts, is busy appointing people who are his friends. So once this weird scenario happens, he's actually in the remarkable position of being able to put himself on the Democratic line. Follow? The Q moderated a debate with Mr. Philpotts last fall, and I can assure you he is NOT the man for the job. Or maybe any job.

Craziest part of all to me was hearing how Clarence Norman - one of the big shots around here and former Assemblyman himself - is now out of prison and showing up at meetings and trying to reinsert his ex-con self into the proceedings. He apparently tried to convince Philpotts not to run, and to put Shirley Patterson on the bill. So instead of the insider machine-candidate, we get the outsider machine-candidate. Making everybody who has anything to do with this stuff look like a complete jackass.

Meanwhile, seriously formidable candidates like Diana Richardson don't get a chance to win your vote for the Democratic line...they have to go out and start their own dang party. Geoffrey Davis is doing it too. His party? The Love Yourself Party.

You can't, nay you SHOULDN'T, make this shit up.




Criminy!

My grandmother, a Norwegian immigrant who came through Ellis Island on her way to International Falls, Minnesota, used to say "Criminy" or "Oh, heck" in place of the more New Yorky "sh#t" or "f#ck" or "Jesus Christ." I think it was actually a shortening of the word Christ. A good Lutheran wouldn't take the Lord's name in vain, after all. She also said "Pshaw" a lot, which I assume was a shortening of "piss off?"

Anyhoo, I gets an email from the good folks at Spotcrime.com, a website that's both helpful and sinister. Helpful in that it provides some context for crime nearby, and sinister in that in a dense city it makes you feel like you're surrounded by criminals. As in, don't look at a mapped database of sex offenders. You might lose a night or two of sleep.

Today's email was alarming indeed! Check the date on all these thefts, robberies and burglaries (they're different you know, t,g&b's). All on one terrifying day of crime spree - January 31, 2015 - a day that will live in infamy.

Clicking through, though, I realize that all these crimes were listed as "crime date approximate." So I guess they all got logged at the same time. And yet...if you stand about 20 yards back, the pattern looks alarmingly like a mimeograph of the Shroud of Turin. A miracle? I'll let YOU be the judge.



Friday, February 27, 2015

Eugene Shafts Us Again


I'm actually not a huge fan of the Participatory Budgeting process. When it works it works, but a lot of good ideas don't get funded because they're not "popular" enough. However, in the case of our councilman Mathieu Eugene it would be a HUGE improvement. Why should Kings County hospital get millions of dollars (every year) from Eugene when so many other capital projects go unfunded? How about gymnasiums and youth centers and park projects and you name it. The hospital is a borough-wide enterprise. Why should we foot such an enormous bill?

Oh, right. Eugene got elected by his steadfast support of the Hospital's unions. And management. Lots and lots of folks work there.

It's so cynical. So transparent, and obscene. And we get zilch.

Seriously, can you imagine how much great stuff we could do for $2.8 million?

Cultural Appreciation Day at the Q

When the Q wakes up in the morning the last thing he thinks about is his hair. I believe this is perfectly obvious to each and every person I meet through the day. Not everyone thinks this way, but clearly by looking at most of the Caucasian gentlemen at the Park Slope Food Coop and at my job and in any of 100 coffee shops, my cheveux nonchalance is shared by many of my peers.

Just recently a friend directed me to, and I fell in love with, a tune by the sublime India.Arie that nailed a black thang that's always intrigued me - the African hair conundrum (how to wear it, what it means etc.) The oversize importance of hair is not particular to the black experience of course. But it's meaning within the context of the African diaspora (shorthand: slavery) is distinct and powerful. So...in this one song Ms. .Arie (is that how one writes her last name, with the period?) sums it all up. If you don't care for guest Akon's autotune stylings, just wait til India. drops in with her incredibly magical voice and all will be forgiven.



For the music nerds out there, I think this is one of my favorite uses I've heard of the I to flatIII to IV chord progressions I've ever heard. Note the similarity to the redneck anthem "Freebird."

Now for the Lefferts connection (though given the preponderance of hair shops in the neighborhood I think we're already there). For my black friends who wonder what's up with that slack hair attitude among whites, I give you Exhibit A. Pavement.

Pavement was a VERY popular band when I was touring the country with my exceedingly less popular band Babe the blue OX. in the '90s. Their anthem "Cut My Hair" was perhaps the song that broke them big, and their lackadaisical style and off-the-cuff vocal delivery spawned a million imitators. The difference between these two videos could not be more stark - super high-end video and audio production vs. amateurish Do-It-Yourself "authenticity." And...drum roll...one of Pavement's members lives in Lefferts Gardens. Know which one?


The larger point I'm making is probably self-explanatory, and the IQ's of Q readers (QIQ's) is off-the-charts (yes Google gives me the analytics) so I know I don't need to pound it home. But next time you see a person you don't know sporting something quirky with their cheveux, perhaps these vids will pop into mind.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Concerned Citizens Comes Up With Counter Proposal

Many of you may have read Concerned Citizens for Community-Based Planning's "position paper" addressed to the community. If you'd like to join their efforts, send Alan Berger an email. (I don't have permission from him to send out his private email, but he's on the Yahoo Listserv. I think they have a website. Anybody know it? I'll add it to this paragraph.)

My response is below. Then below that, the note written by CCCBP:



Just to be clear I'm happy to support Concerned Citizens for Community-Based Planning's (Alan/Suki et al) efforts and publicize meetings to a wide audience. I continue to try to temper enthusiasm for any efforts that will end in dismissal by the people who actually decide these things - namely Eric Adams, Laurie Cumbo, Mathieu Eugene, City Planning, the full Council, the Mayor, and the Board of Standards and Appeals. I guess you could call me a realist.

In other words, if you don't want to be part of the City's effort to encourage the building more market rate and (truly) affordable housing and preserve existing rent stabilized housing and build more supportive housing, all in the name of relieving upward pressure on rents and sales, or don't like the way the City plans to do that, you will have a tough time without some serious advocates at a high level. Tish James, for instance, might be an excellent Advocate, who just happens to hold that title as well! If you feel strongly against the Mayor's objectives, I would encourage going to her above all others, even finding money from her to do a parallel study to support whatever proposals you want to support or reject.

But I would ask that the community consider as legitimate the view that many of us share - that it is best to engage the City directly to achieve objectives, rather than try to fight it before we even get started. And I would encourage those of you who live in the historic district to consider that many of us do not. In fact, the majority of the proposed study area is not protected from non-contextual zoning in any way. Contextual zoning has been described as "landmarking lite." By protecting the "inside" blocks from outsized development, we can maintain the livability and beauty of many of our streets, particularly ones that all of one type of building, i.e. row houses. And I would remind people that the current zoning along north-south corridors (e.g. Flatbush and Nostrand) is not protected in ANY way. Current zoning allowed 626 Flatbush. If that building is not your idea of the direction developers should go, then please reconsider fighting the process as currently proposed.

The things I will continue to point out, based on what I've come to understand, that may run counter to Concerned Citizens' position paper:

1) The letter from CB9 is basically to start a Planning Study. It's the beginning of a long (probably too long) study of the neighborhoods of south Crown Heights and Lefferts Gardens, including an environmental study that could provide the basis for a 197a plan to the City, demanding better services

2) We will know what's going into the application well before the ULURP clock begins, because we will collaboratively work on the application. But only IF we do so civilly and with the input of the very people who will be voting on it - e.g. our elected officials.

3) I would strongly disagree with the assessment that we would be better off "waiting for an independent" study. We've been waiting for years! What if we had gone through this process when we first asked back in 2008? To that point, what if we had started this process when it was first proposed and passed last year? What if the proposed independent study never happens because of lack of funding and no interest from elected officials? We get zero, nada, nothing. For those of us on non-protected blocks, the non-action will be just as powerful as action. Rezoning is "doing something." Not rezoning could be doing something far more detrimental.

4) Eventually, you have to go to City Planning and all the other power players. Why pretend you have more power than you do? This Mayor will likely be in power for another six+ years. His goals are not going away, and frankly are supported by a strong majority of the Council and the current head of Planning.

5) This is the one I consider most important. There are already more than two dozen projects in the works, and dozens more properties that have changed hands in the last year. Some are waiting to see how this plays out. Many will pay for their own studies. If they want, they can go to the Board of Standards and Appeals and get whatever zoning they want without a meaningful ULURP. Neighbors - residential or hotel development IS coming to the Empire corridor. It's an expressed wish of people like Eric Adams. Do you really want to sit back and let those decisions be made for you? Or do you want to sit down with power brokers and guide their hand?

thx for reading. and thx to Concerned Citizens for its attempts to bring a relevant independent study to the process.

the CC note:

 

Concerned Citizens for Community-Based Planning is making the below recommendations based on current information and last night's meeting with Paul Graziano, a planning consultant who developed the recent rezoning study for CB 8 and many others in NYC over past 20 years.

We believe that CB 9 will be at a significant disadvantage if we approve a formal request now to City Planning to conduct a study. Our reasons are as follows: 

1. Without providing a significant detailed assessment of the conditions in our district and without very specific details of what we are asking for and what we are not asking for, we are leaving the door open to City Planning to carry out their own agenda, which, according to Mr. Graziano, and what we are seeing in East New York and other neighborhoods, is at odds with the community's agenda.

2. City Planning will likely come back to us after their study is completed and not give us much time, it could be as little as 7-10 days according to Mr. Graziano, to be able to respond in an effective way, again putting us at a significant disadvantage.

3. According to Mr. Graziano, the de Blasio administration is even more developer friendly than the Bloomberg administration and laser focused on achieving their affordable housing goals. Any opening that they get in this regard they will take maximum advantage of.  There is no reason to prioritize adding affordable housing in any request.  If we ask for affordable housing we would likely end up without true contextual zoning, preservation of existing affordable housing, or preservation of our ability to build truly affordable housing on affordable land. 

4. According to Mr. Graziano we would be better off walking away now, reassessing in detail what our needs really are, and going back to city planning with a comprehensive planthat encompasses all the factors such as special zones, historic districts, commercial set backs, open spaces, etc.  This can be accomplished in as little as three months. Proceeding with a City Planning developed study now would lead to much greater density and height limits than if we did nothing at all.

6. City Planning is struggling with resources right now to carry out the city's ambitious housing agenda, therefore it is to our advantage to present a plan where much of the work has already been done.

7. Recently the city has announced a series of changes that may include adding 1 to 4 stories to existing contextual zones and eliminating parking requirements. Such changes would have a significant impact on this process. This is another reason to have an experienced and expert representative on our side to research and analyze what this will mean for our proposed rezoning plan.

Given the points above, we want to understand what reasons, supported by what evidence, our board has for not supporting this community in taking steps that will put us in the strongest possible position prior to asking the City for a rezoning?

We also make the strong recommendation that more dialogue take place between the community and the community board. We are not being given the opportunity to have our questions answered, so that we can hear directly from the board and better understand what their thinking is. This is the only way we stand a chance of making progress towards some kind of consensus.

Let's come together now and unite to assess the district's needs in totality using a professional planner to do the research and work with us to submit a detailed request to City Planning based on our study of our own community.

Thank you.

Concerned Citizens for Community-Based Planning

Please come to the CB 9 board meeting tonight at the Founder's Auditorium at Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Ave. starting at 7:00PM to ask questions and voice your opinion on this matter.



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Free Kiddie Science Workshop - This Saturday

Hey Parents! You might just get hooked. Carmen is awesome, and lives right here in the 'hood.