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, June 27, 2016

Ladies & Gentlemen - The Parkline

Gonna be hard for the Q to stop referring to it as 626. That's right - 626 Flatbush has a proper name. The Parkline. Though it will come as little surprise to you, the "non" affordable 80% of the building does not come cheap. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the mid-middle class kinda get shafted right out of the fee structure. That is, until we all get that big raise the boss is always a day or two away from giving us. By my rough estimates, if you are single, you'll need to be making at least $80K just to hardship it. If you're a four person family, you'll need twice that and take no vacations. That is to say - welcome Lefferts! To the NYC professionals club.

Rentals are starting  
Studio $2123
1BR  $2584  
2BR  $3553
3BR  $4430
Please note these are Net effective prices after 1 month free rent on a 13 month Lease. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

$1.75 Million Rim Job

The perimeter of Prospect Park has been the subject of much concern to advocates on "our" side of the Park, and rightly so. It's often been difficult to tell exactly who has jurisdiction over which aspect of the areas outside the fence along the rim of the park. But thx to some dogged locals (including but by no means limited to Amy M., Stanley G. and Seth K. add name here), word has recently reached the Q's ear that $1.75 million in capital monies will be ponied up to extend the Prospect Park Alliance's efforts to include not just Flatbush from GAP to Empire, but also the park rim along Ocean Avenue.

Interestingly, no such funds will be made available to improve Parkside from Ocean to PPW SW (alternately known as TD Bank Place). Why the piecemeal approach? The answer lies in the strange ways that our fair City draws maps, both politically and agency-wise. For instance, DOT gets the sidewalk to sidewalk, but Parks has the dirt closer to the park. Councilperson Brad Lander has Prospect Park, but NOT the perimeter outSIDE the fence. Oddly, no one seems to have or want the area from sidewalk to fence near the Botanic Garden. Perhaps Ms. Cumbo wants to stake a claim - it's already clear that bike lane is needed, but that's yet another set of agency and funding conundrums. As a result of the gerrymandering, we get attention paid to parts of our public spaces in the order of their priority. And who sets the priority? YOU have a lot more to do with that than you probably know.

By getting to know your elected officials and agency reps (Parks, DOT, DEP, DCP etc through the alphabets) you can become THAT guy or gal who keeps an issue at the top of the City's agenda. This City is lousy with individuals who have become "the High Line guy," or the "Brooklyn needs a baseball team" guy or the "Smith Street lady" or the "Atlantic Yards gadfly" or the "No Development on Empire Blvd lady (and I use the term loosely)" and on and on. In the Q's mere 27 years in the BK, I've witnessed numerous turns of civic fortune happen because of the vision and vigilance of individuals who outlast the bureaucrats and politicians to see projects to their fruition. It could be as modest as speed humps, as lavish as the Brooklyn Bridge Park and/or DUMBO and Navy Yard. Because NYC runs on the temerity and tenacity of its citizens (remember, the City IS us after all - the buildings and government are things WE built to make life more manageable and protect us from the excesses of individuals), I'm not exaggerating or getting all Ayn Rand on you to is up to you. Truly.

Good job all. Please do send me any other names of people whose vision contributed to this very good news.

(It's come to my attention that despite the popularity of crude comedy from such foul-mouthed writers as Louis C.K. and Chris Rock, some adults find the post title in poor taste. Apparently, the internet is attempting to clean up its act. The Q assures you that this gag is merely an attempt to prevent being linked to, but I'll never again take to using such crass language when referring to our beautiful park or its perineum.)

Friday, June 24, 2016

One Man's Trash Is Another's Gold

Who doesn't love a great stoop sale?

And who doesn't love this video by MC Front-a-Lot, who did, or maybe still does, live in the neighborhood?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Blue Sky on Rogers

Adrian snapped this for the F-book
For those at Rogers and Sterling, Blue Sky Bakery muffins can add to your Pels Pies for at least an extra inch or two around the middle - by Christmas. I think it was Alice of the Brady's who said "A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips."

No news of a gluten-free doughnut shop...yet.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Meet Your New Councilperson. Let's hope.

The Q has made no bones about his dissatisfaction with current City Councilperson Mathieu Eugene of the 40th Council District. In 2013, the Q took off the gloves and went to bat for challenger Saundra Thomas, who came within spitting distance of the two-and-a-half term incumbent. (Sorry for all the mixed sporting metaphors - but politics is like that.) The lackadaisical, uninformed and generally incompetent pol "Dr." ME has been granted the very odd opportunity to run YET AGAIN in 2017, despite term limits, due to the strange happenstance of his first election having been a botched mid-term affair after Yvette Clarke went to Congress. Having been hand-groomed by the Clarkes (Una and Yvette) there was no reason to assume he would be as vastly under-qualified for the gig as he turned out to be. But ask anyone who's had to do business with him - the guy is a stuffed suit at best, a great harm to his district at worst, and privately a laughing stock of the Council. Just try Googling the guy. You'll note that he doesn't even bother to communicate with his constituents digitally, such is the regard and esteem he shows you. And we have no one to blame but ourselves, because we've voted him in three times already, in super-low-turnout primaries that in Democratic Brooklyn is all you need. 5K or 6K votes is all it takes in a District of nearly 180,000 people.

Enter Brian Cunningham, already announced, already putting together a great team, already talking like someone who has a clue and possessing the deep neighborhood love that's needed for the gig. I spent a couple hours with him last week crisscrossing the neighborhood and talking about what makes him the best possible candidate to send Eugene packing back to Canarsie. (Oops. That's right; he already lives there. ME doesn't even lay his head in the District at night.) Granted, other candidates may enter the race. But to the Q's ear, Cunningham's already capable of beating Eugene. A third or fourth challenger would make it harder. But then again, who's to say it wouldn't make it easier? The point is - Brian Cunningham is a decent, hard-working, smart, young, electable guy with friends around town (he was an aide to uber-competent State Senator Kevin Parker and pals with all the electeds), friends who might just be gutsy enough to blow off the machine-politics-as-usual and back a guy who might actually take this office seriously. Seriously.

Brian grew up on Linden Blvd, right near SUNY Downstate. Our tour began at the apartment building that his mom raised him in. He remembers it all fondly, a rambunctious kid playing with the dozens of others who called his block home, playing tree-milk-crate basketball and causing mischief. He has Jamaican roots, though you wouldn't know from his Americanized English accent, though he can easily tilt back to an Island brogue as he hugs and greets friends along our walk. Every time I've ever seen him, he's wearing a nice suit and shoes, so he'll definitely give the dandy Eugene a challenge in the debonair demeanor department. The suit stands out on the blocks of his childhood; but it's no mere show of success. Brian meets every eye head on, as if to say "we can all aspire to something if we work twice as hard." He's even been mistaken for a newcomer buppie a time or two, but it's all good. Yet another example of judging a book by its cover.

As we walked building by building, you can't help but note that pockets of the neighborhood are so Pan-Island you'd think you were strolling through the halls of a Caribbean U.N. And yet the children and grandchildren of West Indian immigrants become, to the greater society, part of the extraordinary diversity that myopic America calls Black Americans. Which is to say, from the Q's view, that mainstream white American doesn't really know shit from Shinola when it comes to Black. Most of white suburbia gets its image from rap videos, local TV news and racist Disney movies. Rich, middle, low, poor, PhD to junior high dropout, urban, rural, suburban, north, south, west, southwest, fat, skinny, wigged or natural or bald the black experience is the American experience and yet so often it's reduced to simplified demographics for marketing and polling purposes. And as multi-racial becomes ever-more ho-hum, the insistence on labels becomes more and more absurd, even as the profiling becomes even more pronounced. In the Trump age, or trumpage (note the lack of a capital T, as if he deserves one anyway), one sees a last stand for the insanity that is the census. I really believe that bit about it being a last stand, hopefully not as bloody as Orlando and Charleston, but I fear the worst. I don't think we're living a nirvana, nor will we ever. But there is a desperation to this political year that I've never experienced, on left and right. A sense from the right, a potentially toxic and violent sense, that there will never again be a pure white entitlement, that it will forevermore be mixed with resentment and fear and the need by some to defend it. Not just because now there's been a black president and a woman president (yes, calm down, there will be and it will soon be past tense) and queers of every variety in every echelon of power and prestige.  But because that entitlement is at its core unfair, just like the denying of the vote or marriage or a shot at the first rung on the ladder. Oh, the battle isn't over yet. But damned if the first shots haven't been fired. So many shots, in so many bizarre NRA-fueled outburst, that it no longer feels like isolated incidents. Especially given the backdrop of police on citizen violence, and growing protests, and Bern Feelin', and rent anxiety.

This is the first of what I'm sure will be many profiles on Mr. Cunningham, here and elsewhere. You can read more on his website, so I'll spare you the details now; consider this a formal introduction. But mark my words, his name will become more commonplace in the months to come. By all means, seek him out, talk to him, get to know him, ask him hard questions about anything you like. Because come September 2017, we're already assured to have ONE thoughtful and passionate candidate in the race. The choice, dear Flatbushians, will be up to you.

Your next Councilperson?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sporty Expo at Parkside Playground

Shoot. I wish I'd heard about this sooner! What a great opportunity - I mean, when was the last time you got to try your hand at archery? Be honest. Ted Nugent, you keep hush. And this the night after Beethoven and fireworks for free in the park. Is this the greatest city on earth or what?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Daddy's Day @ House of Juice

By now you should have noted that Rogers Ave's "House of Juice" is just about the most creative small-business in the neighborhood. They've consistently shown up at all sorts of local events, offering free samples of their wares, and have grown into a neighborhood treasure through constant invention and menu additions. Even booze, y'all. So, if you're looking for a Father's Day treat, do yourself a favor and hustle, no, stroooollll, on over to 682 Rogers just below Clarkson.

best friend, guide, mentor and role model
June 19th 2016
special event hours 2PM - 12AM
Reservations welcome, call (347) 974-1985 for VIP seating
indoor & outdoor garden setting
House of Juice
642 Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11226
Enjoy Kombucha & Beer Flights, Wild Plant Burgers and Laughter
with the man who makes you strong.

( Wine, Mocktail & Jun Bottle Service Available )

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Q Moves On - Loyalty To BP Not Up To Snuff

Today it's official. The Q's five year odyssey as Community Board 9 member formally comes to a close. Yesterday he met with Ingrid Martin of the Borough President's office, and it's clear that he's not ingratiated himself enough with Borough Hall to make the cut. And yes, it matters whether or not you're in with the BP when it comes to doing the CB9, long the heart of then-State Senator Adams' district. Appointments are made to people the BP knows and trusts - Ingrid was clear on that. But the Q learned a ton more during his mtg at "The People's House," had some good laughs with Ingrid, and now feels strangely free. Ms. Martin lives in our neighborhood. Grew up here. Has been with Eric for ages and ages as trusted #2. No, says she, the decisions have been made, and I'm not being re-upped. Au revoir, les enfantes. And yes, the Q's sometimes cynical view of local politicians did not help his case.

As IM noted, as a member of the peanut gallery I can now take the gloves off against our common enemy AB. I don't think she fully knows the degree to which I've bare-fisted it even while on the Board these past years. And maybe I'll just skip the whole CB thing. It's been severe taxing to my nervous system. But like any great wreck, it's hard not to rubber neck. (That's a sweet line for a C&W tune. Feel free to nab it if you like.)

I've heard for the past couple years since Eric Adams' wholesale shakeup of the Board that my days were numbered, despite making allies and enemies a-plenty. But yesterday I saw the official sheets with my name upon them, showing that BP Adams actually never appointed me in the first place. I was a Marty Markowitz appointee who was given a one year extension by Councilman Mathieu Eugene. That is hilarious of course; the guy hates me, and only realized he'd oopsed when asked whether he wanted to give it to me again. I even learned that he didn't bother to make a recommendation for one of his Councilperson recommendation slots, and the BP asked if they could fill it for him and he said yes. I got that spot in what's called a mid-term reappointment, meaning I was finishing someone else's term.

Ousted chair Rabbi Jake Goldstein tells me that's absurd and never happens - only new appointments get the one-year treatment. Sorry Jake. It happens now. And I hate to be the one to tell you: the "old ways" are over. Jake has been ousted from the Board altogether, along with other longtime members. In Jake's case, of course, he was Chair for nearly 30 years, and canning him entirely is a kinda big dis to the Jewish Community. It's score settling time! First DM Pearl Miles, then Jake, then the rest of the old crew. Ed Fanning. Mike Cetera. Lots of others. Is Jake pissed? Damn straight. He's not going down without whatever fight he can manage, and he says he has "the goods to take them all down." We'll see! Read all about the suit here. I talk to Jake on the regular. Talk about stories!

But you won't hear the Q getting involved in any lawsuits. And the one against me by AB will go nowhere. CB's can be great deliberate bodies, and can help create tighter communities. This one? Nope. If anything it's torn apart what community existed here, especially by having to absorb so many new faces so fast. That chaos and naivete made Alicia Boyd possible. Maybe I'll come back some day, after Eric and Ingrid and this current crew have moved on. Which is likely just five years away, when Eric makes his (already announced) bid for Gracie Mansion.

To my count, 27 seats of 50 have changed persons in just two years. With an over-50% turnover I'd say you can count on CB9 lining up tightly with the BP for the foreseeable future. In particular, I expect that Carmen Martinez (Ingrid was clear that she's always been their first choice) will get the gig. The first hiring committee was disbanded, ostensibly for not having a quorum at all its meetings. But when Martinez didn't make the final cut, somehow we now have a new process. And guess what? Carmen's on the list! She's qualified of course. But I took the opportunity to warn Borough Hall that hiring someone who has been fired for "stealing time" and who is linked to a disgraced politician and convicted felon (Clarence Norman, Jr.) may be legal, but it's not going to sit well with a lot of folks. Sure, the firing of Martinez was probably political. Carmen had been working on a campaign of a Scott Stringer opponent, while working in Scott's office. And so he found a way to fire her. Or so the story goes. Ingrid and most Norman pals HATED Pearl Miles with a passion. She's still pushing her lawsuit through the courts by the way. And if she succeeds, you know what one of her demands is? Her old job back. How odd would that be? (Let me be clear - I disliked Pearl's rabid personality but thought she was extraordinarily effective. I think Carmen's super competent. But I don't think putting someone so politically toxic is a good idea for a civil servant job charged with serving EVERYone in the community. I think the plan will backfire. We'll see.)

What's fascinating to the Q is that he, me, is on board with nearly every one of the BPs objectives, including but not limited to, working with City Planning on a neighborhood study and rezoning, building affordable and market rate housing on Empire and making it pretty and commercially diverse, keeping people in their apartments, fighting predatory landlords, encouraging businesses to move here and thrive here, and helping to create an inclusive environment that allows both old Brooklyn and new Brooklyn to live and work peacefully as one. I like the way he both recognizes problems with racial policing AND the realities of youth violence - he was a cop himself. I love, love the way he's turned Borough Hall into "The People's House." Generally speaking, I really like Eric Adams. And after breaking the ice with his First Lieutenant, I found myself really enjoying Ingrid and her passion for doing what she can to help her neighborhood, her community, and the world, better resemble her ideals. She was an activist; but now of course she has to play the role of a political creature, and that means toning down the rhetoric. Unless, of course, you're Donal Trump, who more and more seems some sort of Eastern European style thug-o-crat.

Speaking of the Donald, yesterday I was riding my bike to work, through the park, and needed to pull to the curb, thereby slowing down and riding briefly through the walking/running lanes. A jogger who was approaching shouted "now you're taking over the walking lanes too!" After coming to a stop at the curb, I said as she past "don't worry lady, I'm just pulling over" to which she said loudly "Trumper! You're a Trumper! Go back to Manhattan you Trumper! We don't like your kind in Brooklyn!" I'm still trying to unpack that one. So much stuff there, and yes, I'm almost exactly Trumps size. But the day I see Donald Trump riding a bike in Prospect Park is the day I scrape my jaw off the blacktop. Backpacking and camping with Trump. Eating GORP with him on Earth Day. Arguing which is our favorite Toni Morrison character. Doing a few Sun Salutes. Hugs. Lots of hugs.

What's next for the Q? A shower. Beddy Bye. God Bless you. And God Bless the Borough of Brooklyn.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Trapping Speed

Leadfoots (Leadfeet?) beware!

You can find out, and even help other drivers identify, where red light and speed cameras are located throughout the City. Just click here for the map, or to add new cams as you find them or get ticketed. I screenshot (screenshat?) the speed (green) and redlight (red) markers in Central Brooklyn fyi. The City is limited to the total it may place as a result of car-loving Upstate legislators who control these things. But if you, fair neighbor, were to place one of these cameras, where might it be and why?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Give To the New Alchemy (Dare Not Say It's Name Aloud!)

What devil's potion dwells 'neath this cauldron's earthly seal? Ay, Magic Is Afoot!

What if I were tell you that there were a magic process, passed down through the millenia, to turn garbage into life-producing earth? You'd think I were mad. MAD!! And yet, it's true. TRUE!!

Give a dollar, ten or a hundred to the FREE community composting program at the Little Garden That Could - your very own Maple Street Community Garden.

To learn more and give (in dollars or scraps, or dollars AND scraps):

Crowd Rise for Maple Street Garden