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, September 1, 2014

Good News (Perhaps) For PS375, Jackie Robinson

After a misguided attempt to place a principal of a failed school (PS22) into PS375 (and whose idea was THAT pray tell?), the zoned school for nearly all of Lefferts and Caledonia, the head office has stepped in and decided to take its time to find the right replacement for longtime principal Marion Wilson and her asst principal. Wilson will handle the transition in the meantime, not this lady, who stood less than zero chance of taking capable control of the school. (As an aside, PS22 was the school that PS705 took the place of, and that my first born attended last year. So I'm only talking out one side of my ass on this one).

Thanks DOE. And thanks Chancellor Carmen FariƱa. That's the right call, and all we parents would be mighty glad to see a new regime, some housecleaning, and a more progressive and inclusive strategy for all the neighborhood's kids. A fully integrated school will go a long way to closing achievement gaps, resource gaps, and encourage middle-class parents to interact with and better understand their direct neighbors. Let's hope for the best!

A Great Day, Regardless

Yes, there was some trouble last night, and I'll quote the note from Vinnie below. But let me just say that to conflate the two - random stupid violence and J'ouvert and the West Indian Day Parade - is really knee-jerk. Every year it's a rush to blame the City's biggest celebration for the acts of a few knuckleheads with firearms. Considering that there's a party on every block for miles around, it's incredible there isn't MORE violence. I'm not forgiving it; I'm just saying that those who rush to judge probably don't go to the parade, probably don't come from the Islands, and probably have no idea how joyous an occasion it is for hundreds of thousands of non-violent revelers. An AP story went out on the wire to papers across the country saying NY West Indian Parade Marred By Nearby Slaying. What? Like there's not a slaying or three in Central Brooklyn every weekend? For some reason people love to knock the parade over this. I'm not buying it. Most of the violence is related to alcohol consumption anyway, not the parade itself. Sounds like this time around someone was more on dust. It's a terrible tragedy of course anytime someone is killed, and I don't mean to minimize that. But look at the times. 3:30 am and 5 am. Yes, J'ouvert kicks into high gear around those hours, but no reason to trash the whole shebang.

My only complaint is the volume of the floats! As an aging rocker, I'm telling you that the volume coming off the trucks is actually incredibly dangerous. I know, I know, Islanders love their loud music. So do I!! But folks I know a thing about the terrible effects of sustained 125 plus decibel levels, and I have no doubt some floats are pumping levels closer to 140 or 150. I've seen little kids dancing around right in front of those speakers. So sorry if I sound like a namby pamby, but I think someone really ought to measuring the volume right off the stacks.

Here's the police report, which I'm repeating only because it happened right in our backyard. My condolences to the family of the victim. (Note the menacing location of an unrelated firearm in the second incident.)

Monday, September 1, 2014 at around 330 AM prior to the  Jouvert parade on Empire, one male identified as Derrik Goodings fired several shots from a handgun into a crowd of revelers for unknown reasons. Two individuals were stuck with bullets one with non life threatening injuries and unfortunately the other a 55 years of old male was struck in the chest and pronounced DOA at Kings County Hospital. Bullets also struck an unmarked Police van in which a Detective was sitting in shattering the window. Near by Officers immediately gave chase and one Officer fired a single shot at the perp. The perp was arrested after a short foot pursuit and a fireman was recovered at the seen.  

Monday, September 1, 2014 around 5AM one 22 year old male was shot in the foot for unknown reasons inside the basketball courts located on McKeever Place behind Ebbets Field. During an evidence search one firearm was recovered from a garbage pale but we do not believe this firearm was used in this crime. Anyone with information please call the 71 Precinct Detective Unit at 718-735-0501

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Midwood Flats - The Sign Is Up - Sign of the Times?

Come By Erv's Today And Say Hi

Stop by today at Erv's, the new coffee-cocktails joint on Beekman, and say hi to general manager Rob Giles and crew. It's Pay What You Want for medium or small coffees and $2.50 for espresso drinks. The roaster is "Joe," baristas will be on hand, but of course the big news is that:

"At night, we will have a selection of seasonal cocktails, theme-focused cocktails (for the winter, fat-washed everything) and a well-curated list of rotating local breweries. And of course, Genesee Cream Ale. I've been pressed for a specific theme of our bar, and the closest I can come up with is an old-fashioned neighborhood cocktail joint with cool tunes and great bartenders."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kickin' New Mural On Winthrop at Flatbush

Shout outs due to Kwenci Jones and Richard Greene for this spectacular new mural. In the name of peace, indeed.

The Q Needs Your Help - Spring Comes To the Flatbush Trees!

Happy end-o-summer folks. We have a lot to be thankful for, living in this great Flatbush neighborhood. It's a crazy time to be alive, is it not? As I always like to say, WE'RE the grown-ups now. It's our time to pass along a message to the next generation - hopefully one of peace, love and understanding. Right? As longtime PLG-er Bob Thomason likes to say, "isn't it the reason we're here on this earth?" Hey, and he should know. He's the one who named the neighborhood back in 1968, and talks about renting his apartments at below market rates because he wants his tenants to have time to be a part of the community. Oh, and he wants someone to create a musical based on the origins of man. In a lead-up to that, I'd once again like to pitch the Flatbush Trees project. We're almost to $2,000 of our $9,999 goal!!!! All the money goes to materials, equipment, rentals and insurances. Not a drop goes to a particular person - we're running on volunteers, neighborhood kids and local coffee and honey.


If you haven't already, please consider a gift, however big or small. The video will tell you more about the project to resurrect those dilapidated sheet metal trees at the intersection of Empire/Flatbush/Ocean.

I don't ask for much in return for whatever entertainment you may derive from this dorky blog. Can I count on you to help, even a wee bit? I thought so!!

Roll film...

Oh, and if you don't mind, could you send a link of this to everyone you know, and who ever lived around here? It would be great if there were a worldwide aspect to this campaign. Because folks, Flatbush is a neighborhood with an extraordinary history, full of extraordinary people, and its coolest days are behind it, ahead of it, and all around it. I know that's more than 100%, but hey, so's Flatbush. It's alive, it's you, it's me. It's NYC to a capital NYC. It's America as it could be. Except for the street trash...but we're working on that!

tim "theQ" thomas

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Zoning and Stoning

the lovely space that is Tafari Cafe last night

Despite enduring a mean-spirited personal attack, I quite enjoyed the tone and message from last night's zoning workshop/info session with Tom Angotti. I hadn't intended to speak as a rep for the Community Board but was happy to. With more than 20 new members, there's not a lot of "institutional memory" at CB9 anyway, other than D.M. Pearl Miles and deposed chair Jake Goldstein, maybe Mike Cetera who was (is?) the ULURP chair that heads up zoning issues. Here's hoping the new leadership assigns committees ASAP. I put my hat in the ring, but haven't heard so I'm doubtful.

Bottom line: folks are mad. Folks want to organize, and they're looking for common ground. Folks want to know what the City really has in mind, and they want their elected officials to take a stand in keeping with their flapping gums. Or, if those power-brokers got an idea that goes against the grain, they need to articulate it and let the people know that they're taking their stand for the "greater good" or whatever. I liked the speeches at the end, for folks talked of the need for unity. Would have been nice if those speeches started off every community meeting, before they heat up.

Look folks, I'm not gonna lie. I don't care for shouting matches and people hogging the spotlight when they should be raising their hand and waiting their turn. I like passion, I really do, but it's gotta be FOR your cause, not to character assassinate. I like raking politicians through the coals as much as the next guy, but I'm also not into distorting or exaggerating people's words for personal gain. The Borough President may have mentioned, as many of us have, that Empire Boulevard could stand for some apartments. Right here on this blog I imagined a vision along Empire for truly middle class housing, you know the kind for households making less than a hundred grand? Turns out we're living in a city where six figures is not a hell of a lot of money to raise a family on, and we need to keep these folks in NYC every bit as much as the working poor. If that offends your sensibility, then I would ask that you disagree with me with a wee bit of gentility! Ah hell, do whatever you want, I can take it. I may be a "fat white fuck," but I'm a FWF with a thick skin (that easily burns in the summer mind you). And I've got all kinds of thoughts about how to better keep people in rent-stabilized apartments, if you want to hear them. Actually, you probably don't, but then you can always go back to Youtube when you get bored.

What is emerging, if I may be so bold as to call the play-by-play, is that folks around Empire are very leery of any rezoning or zoning study. They imagine a worst-case scenario, as those who live on or just-off Flatbush have, where tall market-rate apartments ruin their quality of life (one already is). Of course, the ironic part is that all this building is raising home values. And let's face it, an awful lot of the folks at this meeting are home or apartment owners, all of whom have profited greatly (at least on paper, myself included). So what drives all this anti-development anger?

I would argue that for many it's a combination of one or more of the following: a sense of powerlessness, a sense of betrayal, a lifetime of experienced racism, and/or a sense of fear of the unknown. No one can really see the future. We draw conjecture, we hypothesize and we create doomsday scenarios or utopian visions. Humans are notoriously bad at forecasting the future. And that's why this whole zoning thing is a bit of a crapshoot - we may THINK we're doing right by the community, but we might end up like Park Slope, with a 4th Avenue-like corridor that feels Dystopian and unfriendly, that accomplishes goals by bulldozing through communities that have little or no say in the process. When I entered into the fray, I thought it seemed pretty simple. Downzone, or even just get a text change, so you can't build anymore towers over a certain height. But now, after engaging the powers-that-be and tapping into anger and resentment over myriad other issues, we may have done ourselves a disservice in that regard. Maybe it WAS better not to have the CIty looking at this neighborhood holistically. Because frankly, as Tom Angotti noted last night, once the "plan" is hatched, the Mayor won't even let the study happen til he has his ducks in a row. And who are the ducks? The big-pocketed folks and the power brokers. The Q's been the guy saying from the beginning that it's really only the Mayor who could stop 626 or any other building or planning scenario. He has the key, the lock and the tools to the shed. All we get is a couple of coffee cans full of rusty bolts and screws. If I'm to take the metaphor to the next level, the BP gets to use the lawn mower. Sometimes.

The Borough President gets the mower Mondays, Thursday and alternate weekends
Alls I'm saying here is the genie is out of the bottle, the mower is out of the shed, the seal is off the top of the Pringles. And by antagonizing the guy with the mower, we may actually not be able to see the lawn for the blades. You know, forest for the trees? Cut off our noses to spite our face? Throw out the baby with the bathwater? Get sold down the river for an emperor's new coat?
Someone asked about zoning maps. Here they all are.

Below is the district-wide one, but if you click through the above link you get juicy details. I actually don't even remember what I wrote back then. I wonder if I've evolved?

An Actual Debate for State Senate: TONIGHT

this post is a rerun to alert you to tonight's event.

Hey y'all. For the State Senate debate we had to exchange Demetrius Lawrence (too partisan say some) for Milford Prewitt, long of the Lefferts Manor "Echo," meaning you can count on some actual journalistic expertise along with the Q's rabid gotcha-isms. (That's a joke; Geena Davis, during the shooting of our film "League of Your Own" referred to me as "Softball Thomas." That too is a joke. The only movie star I actually had a conversation with was Ethan Hawke back in 1991, who said " and me, we're rebels" over bourbon and beer. I have a feeling I remember that interaction much better than he. That's not a joke, but feels like one. Ask me about the time I hosted an MTV show called "Buzz Bin Report" and got canned after only one broadcast. Probably a record in the world of VJ's. They wanted a "corn-fed Midwesterner" and I aced the screen-test, but under the bright lights I think I was a bit forced. My other brushes with fame? Ask me about Bob Seger (not his dad Pete) and how we "walked into a restaurant, strung out from the road" and both wrote a song about how we "just wanted to explode" and then he stole the song and my best line "is that a woman or a man?" Oh, and the "trusty wood" of "Night Moves?" Mine too, both the wood AND the song. Or how I asked Pete Seeger if he was Bob Seger's dad and why he took that extra "e" away, and that he must've been a terrible father to raise such a thieving kid. Oh, and one time I peed in Natalie Merchant's pool. And I shared a dinner with Wendy of Wendy & Lisa from Prince's band "The Revolution." Now I ask you to guess which of those stories are true. Yes, the Q has many surprise revelations up his sleeve. If one stays alive and keeps leaving the house, more wild and wonderful stuff will happen than one ever could have imagined playing that tennis racket in front of the mirror as a child. "Meet the New Boss...Same As the Old Boss" indeed! Oh, and playing onstage with Bun E. Carlos on drums? Priceless! More will be revealed...and if you get that reference, you know what I'm talkin' about.

Do any of those things qualify me to moderate a debate? No, but like I said, if you stay alive and keep leaving the house, you never know...

Gandhi Restaurant Review

From the PLGourmand, comes a review of a longtime fave of the Q's: Gandhi Indian Restaurant tucked away on Bedford near Clarkson.

Most locals know this Indian restaurant as a delicious take-out/delivery option… and even the owners seem a little surprised when you want to dine in. But once you’re seated, the staff does everything they can to make you comfortable – from continually making sure your water glass is full to adjusting the fan to make sure you can feel it. Indian hospitality is legendary and the team at Gandhi will make you feel like a VIP.

They serve all the usual Indian dishes, but they are unusually flavorful and vibrant. My favorite entree, the Kati Chicken, features a series of tasty textures – juicy barbequed meat with spinach that is stewed and full of flavor and is somehow soft without being mushy. The Chicken Tikka Masala is special as well – tender and rich and just a heightened version of this dish where the flavors really pop. Biryani dishes are wonderfully spicy, but never too hot. Vegetarian favorites like Aloo Motor Gobi and Baigan Bhartha are equally delicious; so well made that you never lose the vegetable flavors beneath Indian spices the way you do in other restaurants. All dishes come with fluffy basmati rice that adds another element of tactile, subtle flavor.

Continuing the theme of texture – all the breads here are special. My favorite is the Garlic Naan, which is exceptionally soft and loaded with roasted garlic that melts in your mouth. The Aloo Paratha is also delicious – an ode to wonderful carbs! I recommend ordering the Assorted Breads, a choice of any four for the table, so you can sample as many as possible.

The Bedford Avenue location makes this place feel off the beaten path, and the quieter street keeps definitely the vibe relaxing. Whether you dine in or order your food to go, the chefs can tailor dishes to be exactly what you want; offering you the option to say how spicy you like your meal, and that certain dishes can be served with or without cream, and most can be ordered with any choice of meat. The hospitality definitely extends to take out – whatever you ask for they will try their best to accommodate.

Gandhi is located on 2032 Bedford Avenue between Parkside Ave and Clarkson Ave. Their full delivery menu is on line at:

They are open Sunday-Thurs 11am-9:30pm, Friday and Sat, 11:30am-10pm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Zoning Workshop Tonight at Tafari

To help answer some of the community's many questions about zoning and the zoning process now that we are finally beginning discussions with Department of City Planning, Prospect Park East Network(PPEN), Prospect Lefferts Garden Neighborhood Association(PLGNA) and Parkside Empire | Flatbush Avenue Merchant Association(PE|FAMA) are co-sponsoring a zoning workshop with Tom Angotti, Professor of Urban Planning at Hunter College, former City Planner, and Brooklyn resident. 

Date: August 27
Time: 7-9 pm
Place: Tafari Cafe, 591 Flatbush Avenue

What is "zoning"?  How do different zonings affect what can be built on your block, your quality of life and your business?  What exactly is "upzoning" or "downzoning"?  What is "contextual zoning"?  Are changes planned for your block?  How can you participate effectively in the rezoning process?  What has been the experience of other communities that were rezoned?  How is zoning related to affordable housing or the retail environment?  Are you concerned about parking, traffic, noise, or crowding on subways? 

We will ask Professor Angotti to give a presentation based on audience interest and knowledge, followed by audience questions and comments. 

We hope as many of you as possible can attend, offer your input and insights, and help to answer questions about the role the community board plays in the rezoning process.