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, December 31, 2010

New Nails For A New You in the New Year

Things were poppin' at Envy Nails tonight! Every self-lovin' lady was busy gussying up for a glamor-filled New Year's Eve.

Me and Mrs. Q are settling in for a night of NetFlix, so don't expect to see us cuttin' the rug down at the Salty Dog. We've got a Korean thriller called "Mother" and a doc on Zimbabwe queued up, so we might just make it to midnight. I've got the Seltzer already on ice!

There once was a time, many corked bubblies ago, when we'd both have been workin' a night like this at some old pre-hipster hipster joint. And now that we could potentially do something NICE for ourselves on NYE, I really can't think of anything I'd rather do than chill in front of a warm cracklin' DVD player. I mean, god love those Time Square knuckleheads, but I'd rather gouge out my eyes with a rusty spork than spend six hours Auld Lang Syne-ing it with half of Jersey and some Euro-zoners. Nothing against either, mind you. In fact, I hear New Jersey is next in line to JOIN the Euro.

Thanks, all ye, for a fun year. One last brain tease for 2010...what's this?












Many happy returns, of course.

the Q

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Special Report: The Blizzard of '10

You may have wondered where the Q has been during all the mid-winter mayhem. Perhaps he's stuck in his car, fingers frozen, unable to touch-screen even a simple S.O.S. on his i-Phone. Perhaps his internet has yet to be plowed. Maybe he's too busy handing out food to the trapped commuters on streets in the "tight-knit community" of PLG as reported by our intrepid friends at Hawthorne Street. (Who, by the way, have done a great job of staying on top of the Q/B MTA sitch.)

But you needn't have worried because A. I don't have a car, B. I always wear gloves, C. I don't own an iPhone D. I don't know morse code E. My internet enters the house via cable and F. I've been away for the past few days in the redneck South.

What's really incredible is that the NYC Blizzard, and Brooklyn in particular, is such national news even way down here in the Bible Belt. As the fam was driving through Dothan, Alabama we stopped at a Chick-Fil-A only to hear a couple good ol' boys talkin' about Bloomberg's Blooper in the parking lot. By the way, the sandwich is delicious, so if you haven't tried Chick-Fil-A give it a whirl. They're ever-so-slowly franchising their way northward...I suspect they'll be in suburban Jersey by 2012 or so. Just remember, they're ALWAYS closed on Sunday. These are Christian chickens.

I feel terrible not being in the thick of things, helping shovel people out of their parking spaces and such. I really do love a good blizzard, and now we're hearing that the post-blizzard mess was really a shittily-timed job-action by the NYC's Strongest - the Dept of Sanitation. All I can say is this: the word strongest is SO lame and inaccurate that if nothing else comes of the post-snow investigation I hope they're forced to relinquish the whole strong moniker once and for all. Hell, I had to help a garbage man lift some furniture into the truck once, and I wasn't just being nice. That chifforobe wasn't gonna get from point Curb to point Truck without some REAL corn-fed muscles.

Anyhoo, while y'all were havin' the time of yer lives, we were busy taking pictures of our mom on the deck of our rental house on St. George Island down in the Florida panhandle, doing our patriotic best to see that tourism dollars return to the Gulf of Mexico where they belong. After all, the Coug had it in right in his 1983 opus "Pink Houses" where he gets all excited during the line about people vacationing down there. In fact, the song has so many great incites into America's troubled soul, I think I'll just drop the whole tune, er poem, on ya right here.

There's a black man with a black cat livin' in a black neighborhood
He's got an interstate runnin' through his front yard
You know he thinks that he's got it so good
And there's a woman in the kitchen cleanin' up the evenin' slop
And he looks at her and says, "Hey darlin', I can remember when
you could stop a clock."

CHORUS:
Oh but ain't that America for you and me
Ain't that America somethin' to see baby
Ain't that America home of the free
Little pink houses for you and me

There's a young man in a t-shirt
Listenin' to a rockin' rollin' station
He's got greasy hair, greasy smile
{ From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/j/john-mellencamp-lyrics/pink-houses-lyrics.html }
He says, "Lord this must be my destination."
'Cause they told me when I was younger
"Boy you're gonna be president."
But just like everything else those old crazy dreams
Just kinda came and went

:|| CHORUS

Well there's people and more people
What do they know know know
Go to work in some high rise
And vacation down at the Gulf of Mexico
Ooh yeah
And ther's winners and there's losers
But they ain't no big deal
'Cause the simple man baby pays for the thrills, the bills,
the pills that kill

Copyright JCM, 1983, courtesy of Classic Rock radio

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Worst Christmas Ever


Normally I wouldn't bother to repost a story off the wire...but this one is too horrible to ignore, and takes place down the street (Clarkson that is). A woman got her leg trapped in the elevator at Downstate Hospital, and as it sped through the shaft her appendage became so horribly mangled it took the Jaws of Life to rescue her as she drifted in and out of consciousness. Full Story. Christmas Miracle not included...

The only thing that saves this story from utter awfulness is the terrible irony of the poor woman being taken from the hospital's elevator TO the hospital across the street - Kings County. I think that may qualify as shortest ambulance ride ever. I do hope she recovers, though the leg looks like a goner.

And for the record I chose NOT to write about that neighborhood crazy naked man named Mann who, geez I can't do it justice, so I'll quote the witness who put it: "He holds the baby in one hand and swings the Christmas tree that's on fire."

You can read that one yourself; sadly no pictures: Naked Mann Flaming Xmas Tree Story

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

PWHFRMMLLS Empire

Perhaps you've only recently moved to the neighborhood, and you're still having trouble remembering the names of the streets as you walk from the Lower PLG to the Upper. By the way, this is roughly analogous to walking from the Lower East Side to the Upper East Side, with Peppas as the new New Museum and Fat Albert's the Met.

Early on I coined a Mnemonic to help me sort out the streets. From South to North, the streets go Parkside, Winthrop, Hawthorne, Fennimore, Rutland, Midwood, Maple, Lincoln, Lefferts, Sterling, Empire. Tough stuff til you've lived here awhile. I suggest you write your own, but in the meantime you can borrow mine:

Poor White Hippies Feign Rastafarianism Making Marijuana Life Look Simple, Man (Empire was called Malbone til the infamous Malbone Street Wreck, the deadliest crash in NYC Mass Transit history.

I know the two M's and L's complicate things, but soon into my use of the Mnemonic I noted that Midwood comes before Maple in the alphabet and Lefferts before Lincoln, making them opposite of how they'd come when walking South to North and thereby creating an inverse rule from which the answer was only too obvious in my mind which was which.

Want to come up with some better Mnemonics, and perhaps extend the list down to Church? By all means, post away! (Btw, I still use it to this day, though I've begun to internalize the order by now). (BBtw, I have nothing against hippies or Rastafarians, or marijuana, life, or the poor for that matter.

video

Monday, December 20, 2010

When is a Cafe not a Cafe?

I'm fond of The Little Photo Shop That Could at 727 Flatbush, next to the much ballyhooed Jamaican Pride Bakery. When we first moved here in the early 00's it was all about photos - passport photos, cute pics of your kids, or sexy pics of your girlfriend all posed up nice and sexlike. But there's not so much need for pro photos now that everyone has a Flip or three. So they adapt, like a cat with three legs, or a fat man with a fridge full of spinach. They now make most of their dough on computer repairs, and lately the place has been packed with internet users, making this the go-to internet cafe on the block. Of course, this is horribly ironic, given the actual Internet Coffee House just around the corner on Parkside. But people are drawn where the action's at, and the ICH still hasn't found its groove.

The only beef patty I have with the place is the name "Internet Cafe." I know what they're getting at, but they haven't any food or drink. I'm not completely sure of the meaning of the word "cafe," but I'm pretty sure food and drink is part of the equation. I guess "Internet Rental Establishment" (IRE) doesn't have the same cache.

One last thing about their sign; I like the graphic depicting the computer repair situation going on. But that diamond shape means "warning" in traffic lingo, so it kinda looks like the stick-dude is getting electrocuted, or is about to view some really vulgar stuff on the internets...believe me, I know how he feels. That "man oh man I didn't know humans were INTO that kind of thing" feeling.

You can fix a computer, but you can't fix that stuff. It's WAY deep down in there.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Longtime Non-PLG Resident Capt Beefheart Dies at 69


I'd say they don't make 'em like this guy anymore, but I don't think they ever made 'em like this guy. The Q at Parkside will always have a sweet spot for people who make art because they must.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

If You're Thinking of Living In...

Is the Q Stop a G Spot? That is, is North Central Flatbush really a comer?

As of about 20 minutes ago, I decided to call the plethora of Brooklyn neighborhoods giddy with gentrification G-SPOTS. After 20 years of 'hood-hopping, I've seen my share of radical transformations. Little pockets of change turned into radical redefinitions in a matter of a few short years. Bedford Avenue. Manhattan Avenue. Smith Street. South Slope. Ft. Greene. And to me, the king of them all: DUMBO. I mean there was NUTHIN there. NUTHIN AT ALL. I'd take dates down there because it was so romantically desolate, maybe a Lincoln Town Car parked suspiciously with its engine running. I'm talking dead body stuff here. Did I mention there was NUTHIN going on? NUTHIN. A few people living in mammoth lofts, cheap giant rehearsal spaces for rock bands (like BIOHAZARD, who's door had a sign that said "No Girlfriends Allowed." But now I'm waxing nostalgic...)

If you're lucky enough to own your place in one of these G-SPOTS, your self-interest assures that no matter how much you pine for the old days, there will be plenty of dancing dollar signs to help ameliorate your grief. But if you're one of the 90% of residents who don't own or don't have rent regulated apartments, you start to smell the vapors when the NY Times starts appearing on doorsteps.

The days of staying in a single rental apartment your whole life are over. If your pay doesn't keep pace with your neighborhood's sex appeal, it's time to find a less hip address. Dems just the breaks, the price of living in the Big Apple, City of Dreams, the Boroughs of Bagels, the Town So Nice They Named It Twice, The Capital of the World, The Melting Pot, The Nippy City, The Cultural Capital of America, The Frog and Toe, The City of Superlatives, Father Knickerbocker, Immigrant City, Gotham, The City That Never Sleeps, Baghdad on the Hudson, The City of Broad Broads...the list goes on and on, and yes, I made a couple of those up. Though "The Frog and Toe" is for real.

The City, nay, the Country, has no love for renters. Even though NYC has strong tenant protections by American standards, most folks quietly resign to moving when the writing's on the wall. I did it myself half a dozen times before losing my mind (quite literally) and (unrelated to said breakdown) dropping a $50,000 down payment on a slumlorded, sewage-soaked, unheated boarding house on a treeless street on a bus route so my lady and I could play out the American dream on a 100'x20' parcel just a couple blocks from the undisputed best side of the second best urban park in North America and within sniffin' distance of the best dang jerk chicken north of the Mason-Dominican line. (Did I mention the Gem? I should have.)

For seven years we've lived here, getting to know our neighbors bit by bit, learning the rhythms of a cranny of Brooklyn that defies expectations placed on it by outsiders. Even people FROM here for decades have a hard time defining the neighborhood as this or that. The dilapidated clock-towered Fat Albert's and the roughed-up green Flatbush Trees sign at the Wendy's Parking Lot/Brooklyn Botanic Gardens corner of Empire Boulevard tell the story: abandon reason...you're entering a special Twilight Zone where old-timers and newcomers alike can't quite put their finger on the what and why of it all.

Here at the end of my first year of bloggedy blog, I thought I'd try to capture some thoughts about this neighborhood, and why after all is said and done, I don't think we're going to see the kind of widespread bourgeoisization of our hometrain nabe like so many other G SPOTS. I've got reasons, and I may of course be completely wrong. I notoriously once guessed that Wesley Clark would become the next President of the United States.

First, the bad news. Rent Is Too Damn High. Houses Cost Too Damn Much. That's right, I'm going on record as saying landlords and owners want too friggin' much cash for the privilege of living and/or running a business here. Everybody seems to think real estate in PLG+ should be about half of prime Park Slope, but let's get real. Park Slope has 40 years of being THE gentrified neighborhood - they practically invented the concept. It deserves to be overpriced and overhyped and overdissed, and closer to 3 times what we pay. $1,000 should get you a decent sized one-bedroom apartment in this part of town, and at that price, landlords could count on their tenants staying put for more than a year or two. Hey Mr. Slumlord, wouldn't that be a better longterm strategy? But hey, if longterm strategy was your game, you wouldn't be a slumlord would you?

Aside from the cost, I'm telling youse - the 'hood has barely changed a bit. Yeah, I know, there's more white faces - some freshly scrubbed and recently baccalaureated even. And people whisper things like "the area's really changed" and "things are really happening here" and I'm like, huh? what? changed? I mean that cute little block of stores on Bedford between Clarkson and Parkside still looks like this:

And don't try to tell me an Indian restaurant with decent takeout qualifies as upscale!

Parkside across from the train has NEVER LOOKED DUMPIER. Don't get me started about 225. And Woodruff - still Woodruff. St. Paul's? Same. Caledonian hospital? Sinking deeper into ruin. Section 8 is still coin of the realm in most buildings. People are still wacking their kids in public and throwing refuse on the ground. No pricey bistros or artisanal cheese shops have opened. There's still the occasional gang flare-up, stinky bags of dead fish on the Flatbush sidewalks, loud Dancehall parties, drunks hanging outside the liquor store near Caton at 8:30 AM, 18-wheelers barreling down truck routes at 3 in the morning, frost-bit vendors selling cheap hats and gloves and incense and hair care products...I mean, yeah there's a coffee shop, a dive bar and a half-assed Mexican restaurant up north, but I guarantee ain't no Michelin Man going to be taking the S train out to Lincoln Road.

The fact is, I really don't see ANY evidence that the neighborhood is going through some sort of renaissance AT ALL. All I see is Rents that are TOO DAMN HIGH and the occasional midwestern looking dude and his girlfriend walking down the street with a couple of Trader Joe's bags. And still...

There are little things that brighten my walk to and from the train or stores. As CeeLeeDee points out, there are Asian faces and burkhas and young Latino families along Ocean. New people ARE moving in, and it's not just whitey. People are finally recognizing the value of the park and the convenience of the Q at Parkside. Dan, who owns the hardware store on Flatbush south of Parkside, has been in that location since the mid-90s. I used to come in their twice a day when I was madly trying to fix up our house (having no clue) and he said I was among the first of a string of new neighborhood homeowners. Now people come in there all the time asking about boilers and plaster and plumbing - people who clearly aren't renting because renters don't worry about stuff like that. He's noticed, too, that it's a more diverse crowd.

So what if what's happening is actually different from what's being loudly trumpeted by the Ditmas Park Blog as progress on Cortelyou? Maybe with a little effort and some eyes on the real bad guys - the three big D's (Dealers, unscrupulous Developers and Dumbass politicians) - we might be able to hang onto all that makes our neighborhood unique without losing that diversity. Idealistic, I know, but we're actually at a point where we could DO something, rather than talk about it in hindsight.

There's lots you can do. Best places to start? Block associations, PLeGNA, Community Board meetings, Precinct Council meetings, even blogs if you're so inclined! Reach out, and most important, smile. I can't tell you how much it brightens my day to see someone flash a sweet grin for no damn good reason at all.

Nothing's really changed in a BIG way. But what happened for me was that I changed. I simply stopped watching like an observer and actually started LIVING here. Do you know what I mean? That difference is HUGE.

These days what I notice most is that there are lots and lots of people doing their best to get by, treating each other decently (for the most part) and saying sweet things to my little girl when we walk down the street. The other day I was so entranced by the love on my block I half expected Big Bird to pop (his?) head out from the African Braiding place down 10 doors down...that's how nice it felt just to be in a place that was just being itself, like Sesame Street, or Wisconsin Dells. If you've ever been to the Dells, you'll know what I mean. The Dells can't help being the Dells.

This is NYC. Just like I pictured it; just why I moved here; and just why I intend to stick around.

I could do without the poop on my shoes, though.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Council Member Eugene Not a Fan of Domestic Violence

If you're like me you may be wondering about the capabilities and passions of your elected officials. Here in the heart of the 'bush, we've placed our votes and trust in Dr. Mathieu Eugene, the first Haitian-born elected Councilperson in the City of NY. You might recall the controversial election that brought him to the throne in 2007. He wasn't living in the district on election day (which for most NYC races offices is actually the lower turnout PRIMARY day), so we had a second election which he won with 51% of the vote (just a couple thousand is all it takes to get elected to perhaps the country's most powerful civic body).

Most City Council members have a fairly high profile and its possible to find out what they're up to. Not so with Dr. Eugene, though he did make a very powerful series of appearances when the Haitian earthquake hit. He also got skewered for trying to give a bunch of dough to a non-profit that he himself started. And he was fined a few tens of thousands of dollars for breaking election laws. But nobody's perfect.

So I was heartened to see that he's taken a hard stance on an issue that can be quite controversial. Whether you're for or against domestic violence, you really can't argue with Dr. Eugene's performance here, particularly given the hardball tactics of the interviewer:

Dr. Eugene's Thoughts on Domestic Violence

Anyone want to speak up on the councilman's behalf? I can't seem to find any positive things in the press. Is this anti-Haitian bias? Do we need to give him more than his three full years in office to distinguish himself? Is he given short shrift by the mainstream media?

Or is he, perhaps, a bit of a dumbass?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Still Shopping For That Special Simian?


Those of you unfortunate enough to afford the indignity of air travel may have noticed this special offering in Sky Mall - The Garden Yeti, a swift spin on the Garden Gnome phenomenon. You can pick one up at Design Toscano's website.

Clearly you needn't have a garden to enjoy a garden yeti, or gnome for that matter. Just beware of the Garden Gnome Liberation Front, which in all seriousness has been known to steal the lazy green-thumbed little be-bearded fellows and release them into the wild. Proof that Americans really can sell other Americans just about anything, the Free the Gnomes website will sell you a T-Shirt advertising your solidarity with the movement.

In order to better cash in on the seeming endless need to own crap, I'm thinking of starting a website devoted to pre-Stalinest memorabilia. I'm calling it Trotsky's Tchotchkes. (five times fast, anyone?)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Paradise Venus Scores 100!

I gotta say I love the name of local joint "Paradise Venus." And this lower PLG restaurant scores a perfect 100 on its latest NYC Dept of Health inspection. But before you make a beeline to the corner of Clarkson and Rogers, you might want to consider this: A score of 100 means 100 violations, or to put it another way: BYOBB - Bring Your Own Barf Bag.

I first saw this mentioned at The L Magazine site, but that led me to this incredibly helpful corner of the internets: Barely Legal Restaurants. While 100 gives Paradise Venus the Bronze medal for filthiest restaurant in all of Brooklyn, there are no lack of contenders in zip 11226. Bon Appetit!


For those of you who are link-averse and stomach-strong, the violations in question are listed here:


1) Hot food item not held at or above 140° F.
2) Cold food item held above 41° F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 °F) except during necessary preparation.
3) Appropriately scaled metal stem-type thermometer or thermocouple not provided or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods during cooking, cooling, reheating and holding.
4) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility\'s food and/or non-food areas.
5) Live roaches present in facility\'s food and/or non-food areas.
6) Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility�s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
7) Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room. Hot and cold running water at adequate pressure to enable cleanliness of employees not provided at facility. Soap and an acceptable hand-drying device not provided.
8) Insufficient or no refrigerated or hot holding equipment to keep potentially hazardous foods at required temperatures.
9) Personal cleanliness inadequate. Outer garment soiled with possible contaminant. Effective hair restraint not worn in an area where food is prepared.
10) Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
11) Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
12) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
13) Plumbing not properly installed or maintained; anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device not provided where required; equipment or floor not properly drained; sewage disposal system in disrepair or not functioning properly.
14) Non-food contact surface improperly constructed. Unacceptable material used. Non-food contact surface or equipment improperly maintained and/or not properly sealed, raised, spaced or movable to allow accessibility for cleaning on all sides, above and underneath the unit.
15) Proper sanitization not provided for utensil ware washing operation.

Eatymology: More to Pepa's Than Meets Eye

Ever wonder what the Genius of Jerk looks like? Ladies and Gentlemen, Don Peppas:



Remember when it was Danny and Pepper's Chicken, down below Clarkson on the Ultimate Dentistry side of the street? (who needs an Ultimate dentist? a decent, clean and reasonably gentle dentist is all i ask...no heroics).

Well here's what I can't figure. Don Peppas owns the current joint, and opened the 2nd Peppa's Jerk Chicken down in Hollywood, Florida! He's also frequently called "Dan Peppas" instead of Don. Or are they twins? Still in biz together? Father, son? I can't get anyone to talk on the record about the split.

In a new series (of one) titled Eatymology, I ask for your thoughts on the matter. Either way, there's no denying that Don (Dan) Peppas frequently smokes out the entire neighborhood with his 24-hour a day barbecue action. One of the many charms of living near The Q at Parkside.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Time To Do Your End-of-Days Shopping

Today at our beloved hometrain a nice looking lady of a certain age handed me this helpful reminder about the end-of-days. With all the hoopla about 2012, it's easy to forget that Harold Camping and his Family Radio Ministry have placed the date a whole year earlier. Camping has been "studying" the issue for more than 50 years, so it's safe to say that his is the more accurate reading of the bible.

You know Camping's voice. If you have even an occasional interest in broadcast radio, you've certainly flipped past his phlegmatic baritone. He's one of the most distinctive characters on the airwaves. I used to think he sounded like a confused man-child, or perhaps a stroke victim. Now, however, I realize he's 90 years old, and has been for the better part of the last quarter century.

He has a couple teachings that deviate from the usual Rapture narrative. He doesn't believe in hell; rather the wretched will simply cease to exist. And he believes that we've entered the era of churchlessness, meaning no organized religion accurately portrays God's wishes. He does believe in predestination for a relative few, meaning you might as well give up on that random acts of kindness routine. It ain't gonna do you a lick of good.

Mark your calendars! In pen, cuz this ain't no dry run!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Know Thy Neighbor - Johnny "Greenman" McBride



In the second of my 98,643 part series "Know Thy Neighbor," I bring you a man, husband and father who might come in handy if you're looking to upscale your garden, yard or stoop. Meet Johnny McBride, and he's a good guy to know.

A former resident of Connecticut, Queens and Park Slope (all 3 won't be held against him), Johnny first made a name for himself as a chef in CT. When he met the beguiling lady of his dreams (now Mrs. Greenman), he threw caution to the wind and followed her down to the big city, where he quickly landed a kickin' gig and cooked for the stars. Something in the kitchen just never quite felt right, so with typical McBride pluck and gumption he radically changed careers (at the ripe old age of 30). He'd always loved plants and the outdoors, so he decided to take some classes at the Botanic Garden and learn from the roots up (as they say in the profession). He landed a job as a horticulturalist/landscaper with the City zoos...you can see his handiwork at our very own Prospect Park Zoo. (Two of his before and afters below).

After he and Mrs. McB had a beautiful baby girl just last year, he STILL found time to ramp up his business - Greenman Gardening. I checked out some "before and afters," as well as some drawings. The guy is good...has a real 6th sense for this stuff. While personally I prefer to fail on my own, I highly recommend him for jobs big and small, since he's as comfortable building whole gardens and walls and water features as dropping by some holiday wreaths and doing plant recommendations and deliveries.

And how did the Q at Parkside become his "HOMETRAIN?" Easy. 450 square feet didn't cut it for a family of three (more to come?), and a rental became available on Clarkson - a floor-thru w/garden. His sweet Portuguese water dog Fischer loved this side of the park anyway, so it was really a no-brainer. Plus, by acting as super for his four-story brownstone, he gets a few bucks off the rent.

Just like my previous profilee, life hasn't always been a bed of roses for this gardener, and there's been grief and struggle like the rest of us. But I'm better for knowing him, and I'll bet you would be too. Give him a holler at: Greenman-Gardening@hotmail.com, or call 917-647-2223.

And yeah, now that the cat's outa the bag, I'll be happy to recommend your services too...if I can verify that you're good! If the Q is your hometrain and you've got services to sell, I'm happy to post about it in the form of a profile. - Clarkson

b&a's:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Park for a Song?

This Q ain't no brown-noser. Nor Brownstoner. And real estate ain't my bag, so take anything I say (er, everything I say) with a bucket of salt. But this caught my eye...



A no-board-approval coop for sale, right along the park on Ocean, in the coolest looking apartment building on the block...for under $300,000. I know, I know, there's probably a catch. A murder perhaps. Ghosts. Current owner Republican. Maybe the Super is a cannibal. But still, if you're looking to own a big one-bedroom...

(did I happen to mention it's right across from the park? Not Umma. Prospect.)

Here's the details: Times Listing. They know they have a hot one, cause the Corcoran agent listed it before taking pictures of the insides.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

New Blog: PLOG

Hey y'all! When I started this thing Carrie and Charles at Hawthorne Street gave me a plug and my readership shot up (a good thing?). Now it's time for me to pay it forward. (Here's a pic of the poster featuring the delightful Kevin Spacey from the film of the same name, for no apparent reason, without credit, and without endorsement of its filmic virtues):

So seriously, check out PLOGNYC, Prospect Lefferts Gardens' latest entry into our "where do you find time to write all that crap anyway?" sweepstakes. So far so good PLOG! I particularly like the scoop on the Lincoln Park Tavern barkeep who "mysteriously" fell down 30 stairs. Thankfully, no casualties, and the "Cheers"-like good times continue to flow.

With a nod to confession, I gotta say "been there, done that." Though with me it was a loft bed and the mystery needed no Encyclopedia Brown. The empty bottle of Jagermeister covered in blood said it all. Godspeed Mr. Barkeep. This middle-aged man is glad those days are now but his salad daze.

Next up: what upscale block near the Q at Parkside now boasts a high-end Pawn Shop to go with its fancy vegetarian pan-asian bistro and hipster Christian accessories boutique?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Roll Out the Barrels



This time of year, we Middlebushers are likely to encounter more of these shipping barrels than usual. If you know what I'm talking about, then you can skip to the link below if you missed the awesome slide-show piece in the NY Times this weekend.

But if you're scratching both your heads right now, wondering what I'm talking about, don't be alarmed. I was flummoxed myself when I first emigrated to Flatbush Caledonia. You've probably seen these big containers though - through the windows of various shops on Flatbush Avenue, or maybe someone rolling one down the street on a hand cart. They're the cheapest and most common way to ship things to the Caribbean. You can send a whole barrel full of goodies to family for less than $100 (sometimes MUCH less), making them the preferred method of transport for Christmas goodies heading to Jamaica, Guyana, both Turks AND Caicos...etc., etc.

NY Times On Shipping Xmas

Friday, November 26, 2010

For those of us lucky enough to live on the 19th Century side of the park, the Leffert's Historic Farmhouse is a great way to relive those glory days of old. Check out the plan for this weekend:

‘Winter on a Flatbush Farm’ (Saturday and Sunday) Flatbush certainly doesn’t resemble farming territory these days, but Lefferts Historic House, the farmhouse museum in Prospect Park, will recreate the atmosphere and activities of the 19th century in this weekend celebration. Children can learn how to make candles, begin a patchwork quilt, harvest cabbage and whip up sauerkraut. And on Sunday at 3 p.m., St. Nicholas will visit. From 1 to 4 p.m., Children’s Corner of Prospect Park, Willink entrance, Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard, Brooklyn, , (718) 965-8999, prospectpark.org; free.

I'm a fan of the Leffert's House. But if I may make a suggestion for a future exhibition: "Leading Causes of Death of the Early 19th Century."

I've always wondered what it would be like to suffer from smallpox - it would be great to have some sort of reenactment. Who remembers the devastating effects of cholera? Lots of folks died from influenza or diarrhea - might be cool to see some accurately dressed actors living through that, realistically, in the flesh. Perhaps some sort of "infant mortality" exhibit - that felled more than 25% of babies back then, and lots of moms too. And you really had to watch out for accidents - without any antibiotics a simple flesh wound from chopping wood could lead to amputation or lethal infection.

Yes sir, if the Q were running that Lefferts House, things would really be different. For now though, feel free to bring the kids and have a joyful time!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Big Thanks for Little Thangs

Thanking G%D for Small Miracles: Like Truth in Advertising.

Pat-a-cake, Pat-a-cake.
Bake Place Man
Bake Me a Cake (Donut) as Fast As You Can



The real bakery is three doors down at Jamaican Pride. Thanks, DD, for callin' it like it is - your humility is endearing.

Happy Thanksgiving Neighbors!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Xmas Comes Early to Middlebush

Don't feel like an ugly stepchild. Embrace the fact that PLG is just one of your many home-hoods. Sure you live in Lefferts, or Caton Park, or Parade Grounds, or Parkside, or Caledonia or even as my Guyanese next door neighbor says when asked what neighborhood she lives in -- "Kings Couwuunty."

We're all part of Middlebush, and just for living here I'm bringing you the Middlebush Discount, courtesy of FABID:



The Flatbush Avenue BID has already festooned the 'bush from Parkside to Cortelyou with lights and decorations. They've been up for a couple weeks, but now they've come alive. You may be jaded, but my little niece from Tallahassee was entranced by the sounds and sights of Flatbush when she visited last December. The crazy competing musics, the flashy displays, the suicidal dollar vans, the salons bursting with cackles -- and now get 10% off at a lot of places you've probably never shopped at. C'mon y'all. If this doesn't get your ass into Timmy's Stride Rite, Weekend for Ladies, or Daniella Zerky then you're simply not helping revive the economy like you promised.

Ask not what your country can buy for you, ask what you can buy for your country. Or at least for your little niece from Tallahassee.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Artist Wanted - Time for New Public Art for the Q at Parkside


I'll set aside the fact that what the Q at Parkside REALLY needs is a total rehab. Our station is a disgrace - it's potential for adorableness is enormous, but the MTA clearly doesn't consider us a priority. However, we ARE a priority in one area. Dynishal over at PLeGNA hipped me to a $5,000 grant for which our home train station is "priority" designated. Time to imagine the time when we'll wax nostalgic over the beguiling triangular mural by Specter, the artist formerly known as Gabriel Reese. His piece was to remain for 11 months. I for one am glad it's still there after a year, amazingly unadorned by graffiti. It's time, though, to turn over the keys to glory.

I'm certainly not cut out for the job. I'm a lot of things: father, fundraiser, songwriter, blogger, shredder, excellent speller...but one thing I ain't is a visual artist. So I implore y'all:

LET'S FIND A KICKIN NEW ARTIST FOR THE NEXT ROUND. SEND YOUR SUGGESTIONS HERE, EITHER AS A COMMENT (public) OR TO ME PERSONALLY (private) at timothyjamesthomas@gmail.com.
I'm happy to shepherd the project and proposal and make sure we get at least one super-cool idea in to the DOT. But I'm also MORE than happy to step aside. What's involved? The proposal is due January 7, 2011. The requirements include the artists previous experience, photos and renderings. That's a lot by the top of the new year! So please, consider send a link to this post far and wide. The City's got a buttload of artists perfectly suited for this kind of thing. Where are they? And who feels like going into the butt to find them?

Just to prove that I'm not the man for the job, my big idea was to take the large cement space and turn it into a paean to Mann's Chinese Theater. We could get the handprints of our own celebrities, like Pepa, Mansoob, Balde Koin, Umma, Moses Fried, both Duane and Reade, Sammy from the Pioneer, that crazy crackhead lady who stole MJMcBee's bicycle, Popeye, the Canners of Parkside, Nelson, the Honorable A. Shoemaker, Charles Starr, Bob Marvin, CeeLeeDee, Babs, Dr. Cuts, Dunebuggy, Struggs...the list of local celebs reads like a who's who of local celebs.

You know what they say...if you can't do the job right...window dress!!!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

5 Reasons to Start Going to Your Precinct Council Meetings


1. Two Dollar Turkeys!
At last night's 71st Precinct Meeting (it's YOUR meeting by the way, and open to ALL y'all), the highly entertaining nattily dressed Council President Karl Cohen and the boys raffled off $2 Turkeys donated by community merchants.
2. Get to Know Your Cops!
Living in NYC you're going to have issues with crime from time to time. Sometimes it's serious; sometimes it's just Quality of Life stuff like NLGs (noise, loitering, graffiti). Get to know the guys (and some ladies) who respond to your 911 or 311 calls. It really does make you feel safer to know there are actual people on the other end.
3. Let the Cops Get to Know YOU!
At most precinct meetings, a smattering of people show up - beyond those semi-required to be there, like local officials and their reps. Ask questions. Stay after and get into it with the precinct commander. He's actually very approachable, and despite some of the cops' Staten Island pedigree, they're really very nice people who've taken the time to get to know their constituents. As you can see, I'm trying hard to lose my prejudice against our brothers and sisters from across the Harbor.
4. You're On the Outer Edge of a Precinct - Don't Let Them Forget Us!
It gets complicated. The North side of Clarkson and up, and the north and east of Ocean/Woodruff, is the 71st. The South side of Clarkson heading west and south is the 70th. South and East of Bedford/Clarkson it's the 67th. Here's a map: Precinct Map. So even though you and I are truly neighbors, we're forever torn asunder by this freak of gerrymandering. That means we're like Uranus - way out in the hinterland with a funny name that people like to make fun of. For instance, the 71st Precinct is located at Empire and New York Avenue. Most of the active members of the Community Board 9 and the Precinct Council are based in CROWN HEIGHTS. Say what you will about our bastard neighborhood around the Q at Parkside - but it sure as hell ain't CROWN HEIGHTS. The Heights of Crown are home to a large Lubavitcher community that does a great job of representin' at the meetings, as well they should. There's a lot lighter turnout from PLG, though I gotta hand it to Babs - she was right there in the fray last night clutchin' her ticket like Charlie hoping for a trip to Chocolate Factory!
5. You Get ACTUAL Emails of Your Cops!
I know it's hard to pick up the phone and call the precinct out of the blue. Most of us have become notoriously phone-shy. Now that NYPD uses its own email system, the officers have their own addresses. Vinny Martinos, our head Community Affairs guy, is even putting together an email list to send out a newsletter. Welcome to the 21st Century Guys! Here's two key 71st precinct folks:
Vincent.Martinos@NYPD.org - for Community Affairs matters, or to talk about general stuff
Michael.Falk@NYPD.org - he's in charge of the beat cops on the ground.

See you all, er, those North and East of the corner of Ocean and Woodruff, at the next meeting? It's held the third Thursday of every month at MS61 on the SW corner of Empire and NY Ave. I think I heard that they were going to move the Dec meeting to the 15th...anybody else hear that? I was busy texting somebody when they said it. Remember, I'm not a journalist! Carrie and Charles over at Hawthorne Street are WAY better at getting their facts straight. And that Monk's Trunk is outa sight! Don't let the lack of a storefront put you off. Once you're in there you'd think you at a posh shop on Carnaby street in London. Cheerio!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kreations' Kuts KO Kompetition

Out of habit I've been going to the same barbers for a few years. My wife told me awhile back it was "time to make a relationship with a barber." This was after one too many of her hack jobs, after which my gratitude was not suitably overflowing. The Q was allergic to haircuts prior to his 30th birthday, so it's fair to say he's fairly new to the whole spend money to deal with your hair thing. The $15 cut from Park Slope Barbers always seemed fair; the ambiance was pure 1950s, and the music was always spot on apropos. I could never tell the two brothers apart; one could cut hair pretty good and carry a tune, and the other could do neither. So it was a crap shoot every time I went in there. They love Nat King Cole and Sam Cooke...the brother who could carry a tune has the strangest singing impediment I've ever heard. He anticipates the record by about two beats, so he's constantly singing the line BEFORE the singer on the record. Very disarming. But cute, in a $15 haircut kinda way.

But I feel silly getting my white hair cut by mediocre white guys way across the park when I live right off Scissor Alley. So at 9PM tonight I set out for Dr. Cuts up past the Sushi joint, figuring that even if the Doctor wasn't in, at least I could find out if he takes my insurance. On my way there, though, I passed by this place:



There were three guys in there and a little boy, maybe four years old, in one of the barber chairs getting ALL his hair taken off. I mean bald. I know that's a look and everything, but it kinda blew my mind. But here's what finally sealed the deal. They were all looking up at the TV which was blasting an Eminem video (My Name is...My Name is...). I figured that was a sign from the Hair Gods, and I sauntered in.

Barber number 2 seemed ready to rumble, and I sat down at his chair. We exchanged pleasantries, me with my slight drawl, he with his Jamaican (maybe Grenadian) lilt. I said "funny you guys pumping the Eminem" and he joked "just for you." From that moment I knew I was in good hands. When he told me a straight cut was $12 (going rate around here) I had nothing to lose, and at the very least I'll get to watch some videos (Fuse was playing a Top 20 of Eminem Videos - like I even knew he had that many singles!).

Y'all he spent nearly an hour on my head. I gave him a $20 and said keep the change, because frankly, I had more fun sitting in that chair watching whacked out Dre & Em videos and watching one kid after another get his hair did (isn't it a school night?) than the last five years of Kuts Kombined. I may have to try the Dr. (Cuts, not Dre) next time just for due diligence. But I'm sold. Lest you think I jest, here's the before and after:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Knucklehead Theory

If your block is a lot like mine, there are roughly 1,000 people who call it home. That's not an exaggeration; it's the truth based on simple math. A lot of the larger apartment buildings around here have 60-80 apartments in them, on average 3 people per. So unless you're a "Manor" block, you've got some serious density. It's amazing we get along as well as we do - really. Every block has a few bad apples though, making it rough on the rest of the bushel.

The Q has a theory he's peddling - he calls it The Knucklehead Theory, and its been born out by 22 years of NYC neighborhood observation. Everywhere in NYC it's a few knuckleheads - drug dealers, gang members, delinquents, sociopaths - that make the block feel unsafe or dangerous. They might not ACTUALLY be dangerous people, but they thrive on making the rest of us feel nervous. It's true, that they might be armed, and occasionally, they really are "bad" people; but for the most part they're harmless if left unprovoked. These men (anyone want to argue that they're men?) eventually wear out their welcome in one way or other, and end up getting kicked out by their mothers or girlfriends, end up in jail, or even dead. A few might even get kicked around enough by life that they end up mending their ways; but if they're past a certain age, change is pretty unlikely.

So we're stuck with them, the knuckleheads. But that doesn't mean we can't keep an eye on them. There's a little gaggle of knuckleheads on my block that I keep my eye on. And yeah, the cops know about them. They deal right in broad daylight, and I should probably be all scared that they're going to read this.

But you know what? If you guys DO read this, do yourselves a favor and take the drug dealing indoors, like the coke dealers in the fancier neighborhoods do (I've heard they'll deliver, and even bring some bagels). The cops have you pegged and it's really not cool to be showing off your felonies in front of a bunch of impressionable young kids. You may not have been given a fair chance, and you might feel you have no choice but to join a gang, but please don't take a chance away from someone else by drawing them into your bullshit.

Oh, and curb your damn dogs. I'm fine with the loud music - it IS NYC after all. Just not after 11, okay?

Monday, November 15, 2010

The "Other" Side of the Park


The other side of the park is no place to walk around after dark. But now I'm starting to think that neither of those sketchy neighborhoods - neither Park Slope nor the decidedly hipper Prospect Heights - are safe at any time of day. The below was taken from the 77th precinct blotter via YourNabe:

An unhinged patron smashed a plate glass window at Yummy Taco on Flatbush Avenue on Nov. 6, injuring an employee taking a lunch break.

The 15-year-old broke the window in a fit of rage at 4:15 pm. Shards of glass showered over the 56-year-old employee, leaving him with cuts to his cheek and arm, said police, who charged the teen with assault.


Seems an honest person can't grab a yummy taco these days without fear of random violence.

Speaking of Chinese Food, when my old lady was pregnant back in late '08 she had quite the yen for Zen Vegetarian House on Flatbush 'tween Clarkson and Lenox. It had just opened, and we were among the first to brave its odd but pleasantly well-designed awning. Hey, it may not be the best Chinese Food in a city of 50,000 Chinese restaurants. But it's pretty dang good, though I'll never understand why a vegetarian would want to eat something called chicken, even if it IS meatless. But don't take my word for it. A gaggle of you Caledonians gave it reviews on Yelp, so I'll let you do the yapping.

Zen Vegetarian House Reviews

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Voss der Impostor

The Gourmet Deli at Flatbush and Fennimore is making some pretty heady claims:



Not sure about that sandwich (that IS what they mean by hero, yes?) But VOSS water the best on all of Flatbush? Despite the fancy bottle and the fancy price tag, turns out this favorite waste of resources to the rich and famous is actually just Norwegian tap water, despite its bogus claims of Artesian exclusivity. This just in from the unsubstantiated nether-regions of the internets, and then of course corroborated by the always authoritative Wikipedia:

In October 2010, Norwegian television station TV 2 showed a documentary film highlighting the fact that the water bottled by Voss is tap water from the municipal water supply in Iveland. TV 2 also claimed to prove that the water source was not, in fact, artesian, as the marketing of Voss water claims. The website of Voss water claims that the water source is "protected from pollutants by layers of rock and ice". There is in fact no permanent ice in the vicinity of the water source. Voss water responded with a statement on its website challenging TV 2's claims. The company also employed a high profile Norwegian solicitor to consider legal action against TV 2. The TV channel in turn responded that they stood by all the statements made in the film.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hamilton Blues

You're on the run, grabbing some doubles and roti and a bottle of Ting, not a second to spare to get back home for the final episode of "So You Think You Can Fish" when you reach into your purse or pocket and realize you spent your last ten spot on a decaf double macchiato. With just $15 in your checking account, you figure you're screwed. But look! It's a miracle!!:



You can pull out a sawbuck, tip your Trinidadian chef and be home in time for the first drop of a lure.

While the above scenario has probably happened to you a dozen times, I'd like to remind us all how totally predatory it all is. Not the fishing, mind you. The ATM machine in question wants $3.00 for the privilege of giving you your Hamilton. Since presumably this plastic ATM model GE7459 is not a branch of your regular bank, your actual financial institution will charge an average of $2.00 for your cheating on it with another machine. Folks, that a 50% charge for YOUR money.

Of course this doesn't run afoul of New York's usury laws. Even though it is illegal for someone to charge you more than 16% annual interest for a loan, the perverse situation in question is actually the opposite. You're being charged for YOUR money. Guess the mattress is looking pretty good right now.

Maybe cash deters bedbugs?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Know Thy Neighbor - Celeste Lacy Davis

In a series I'm calling Know Thy Neighbor, I'm embarking on an experiment to get to know y'all better. The rules are simple: to be profiled, you must live or work in the greater North Flatbush area. The boundaries are somewhat malleable, but for sake of simplicity let's say Empire to the North, New York to the East, Church to the South, and Parade Grounds or PP Park to the West. Some might ask why I feel the need to include such a large swath of territory, but to those who've come to call this neck of the woods home, I think you'll see the logic. If not...start your own damn blog! Each person I profile will suggest another profilee, so I don't end up profiling ONLY people I know or meet myself. Sound fair? Let's go!

Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon with a fascinating woman named Celeste Lacy Davis. Celeste owns one of the glorious limestone townhouses along Ocean Avenue. She and her neighbors recently won landmark status for their homes - the Ocean on the Park District. It's made up of the 9 remaining houses; had it not been for their work, the area might soon have been a giant construction site a la the apartment building going up to their north.

Say hello to Celeste, pictured here this afternoon in front of her gorgeous home:
Her story has more twists and turns than the Cyclone, but as one hears the narrative of her life unfold, there's a certain circuitous logic to it all. A lifelong New Yorker, Celeste's mother was a guiding force in her budding activism. She's tells a great story of how her misbehaving led to being dragged by her mom to the 1964 Democratic Convention, and she joined the Civil Rights struggle in earnest from that day forward. She took another "left" turn while at Syracuse University and by the early 70's, she was running with the colorful and charismatic characters of the day. She and her husband had a wonderful baby girl named Njemile, and in many ways Celeste's activist life tracked the great convulsions of late 20th Century world politics. As she put it, those were heady times.

A bit of disillusionment later, Celeste found herself looking at an odd advertisement from The New School that said "How to Become a Lawyer in 6 Sessions - $35." Apparently the course was well taught, because within a few years she had graduated CUNY Law -- public interest law of course. Doors opened wide for her in litigation, advocacy and academia. Among her proudest achievements was her work for Planned Parenthood preparing the fabled PP vs. Casey, which narrowly saved the gist of Roe v Wade before a decidedly conservative Supreme Court. She met and worked with many of her heroes through the years. Perhaps inevitably though, she found that many people don't live up to standards of their ideals, including people dedicated to social justice. That tough lesson hardly deters her from her deeply held convictions in the power of people to create change through solidarity.

From 1988 she's been a proud resident of PLG. She shares the unease of some longtime residents regarding changes in the neighborhood, but she knows that she too was once the newcomer. We both commiserated on how some new folks don't want to engage with their neighbors. Eye contact, anyone? Nothing wrong with saying howdy; the worst that can happen is puzzled indifference. And she emphasizes that the story of PLG is NOT equivalent to the story of Lefferts Manor. While she harbors no ill will to the Manor, she feels its important to recognize that the neighborhood should be and feel more inclusive than just the "Lefferts Covenant" area designated by the City. My feeling is, if the Q at Parkside is your hometrain, you're my neighbor, neighbor. And for the sake of togetherness, even you Lincoln Roadsters feel like extended family! (Don't forget to send holiday cards this year.)

Beyond her leadership roles at non-profits, Celeste started a gallery out of her home called the Imarisha Art House that hosted a number of highly regarded shows in the late '90's early 00's. In fact her beautiful parlor floor, a doctor's office once, is still set up as a gallery. As we spoke in the back of that floor you could hear the rumble of our beloved Q/B behind her house. There have been some rough spots in her life lately, but some very cool stuff is on the horizon. Stay tuned. Celeste Lacy Davis is just getting started, y'all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Q at Parkside Feature! ASK BOB!!

I don't know if you all know Bob Marvin, but he's a delightfully ubiquitous presence on the blogosphere and a wonderful booster for all things PLG. Regarding my post the other night about a mysterious old sign touting a PLGNA Security Patrol he had this to say:

"There was indeed a PLGNA Security Patrol in the late '70s--early '80s. IIRC they got a grant to buy (or lease) a van to patrol in. It seems to have been organized as a response to the far more active and long-lived CNIS (Committee for Neighborhood Improvement and Safety) which existed from the late '70s through the early or mid '90s. CNIS was an organization that paid for a professional patrol, using various security companies over the years. It covered (IIRC) all of Lefferts Manor plus Parkside, between Flatbush & Bedford and, possibly a few other blocks.

When it started CNIS needed half of the residents in their coverage area to subscribe (at $200/household/year--a substantial sum 30+ years ago). For that price you got a security patrol, monitoring of home burglar alarms, and separate car that took people home from the Lincoln Road subway station (for which there was an additional charge, after the first few years). Subscribers got a door sticker and a special red light to put in their windows, but everyone on the covered blocks benefited from the patrol.

You ask whether this security function was something the NYPD should have done. Of course (minus the car service from the subway) it should have, but these were the days following NYC's "Fiscal Crisis"--a near brush with municipal bankruptcy--which led to lots of cutbacks in all services. There was a considerable increase in street crime and burglaries. When I moved to PLG in 1974 it was safe--far safer than Park Slope, where I had lived earlier (although some of my South Slope neighbors, from whom I was glad to escape, were no doubt reassured that their local thugs were white :-) ). A few years later PLG was still relatively safe but, especially in the aftermath of the violent looting following the '77 blackout, people were getting scared.

By the early '90s conditions had greatly improved (IMO due largely to the Dinkins administration's "community policing") and it became increasingly difficult to collect the money for an expensive operation like CNIS, leading to the organization's being disbanded."

editor's note: BTW, If I recall correctly, IIRC stands for "If I recall correctly."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Neighborhood Teen Goes Missing: Seen him?

One of our young male neighbors has disappeared and police need our help. I know it's a longshot, but it's breaking my heart, so here goes:



The NYPD is asking for the public's help finding Ricardo Jean-Pharuns, 17, of 475 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn. He was last seen on November 5 at 283 Adams Street, Brooklyn, wearing a blue shirt, black pants, and black sneakers. He is described as 5'7" and 150 pounds. If you have any information as to his whereabouts, please call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). All calls are strictly confidential.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Crime Held at Bay by Rusty Sign

Now that time is back to its natural state, unburdened by the legislated extra hour known as DST, winter is truly here. Screw what the calendar says. The Q says it started today, with sleet slowing the subways and the cruel dark night greeting us as we emerged out of the Q at Parkside. Settle in folks, it's time to get cozy.

The early eve light revealed one curiosity however. Take a peek at this old sign on Flatbush between Parkside and Winthrop:
One of you "old-timers" has got to help me out here. I'm pretty sure this says "This Area Patrolled by Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association Security Patrol." Love that graphic! The sun, cloud and snowflake really complete the picture. But what the Sam Hill is going on here? Was there really a PLeGNA Security Patrol at some point? And what happened to them? Or was this sign an idle threat meant to scare away the more timid gangsters and thieves?

(I trust you all attended PLeGNA's General Meeting tonight at the Church of the Evangel. I couldn't go - I had Little Miss FlatBed and darned if she's not quite ready to behave in accordance with Robert's Rules.)


So I leave the comments open to you with some questions for your input:

1. Was there really a PLeGNA nabe patrol?
2. Isn't that what the cops are supposed to do de rigeur?
3. Do the drug dealers on my block drive a Ford Taurus to throw us off? Or are they just really inept drug dealers who can't afford a nicer car?
4. Is Seven Brothers discount store really owned by seven brothers? Cuz I only ever see two, and I don't think it's named after the Finnish novel by Aleksis Kivi or the delightful MGM musical from the 1950's.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In an Earthquake, Heads will Roll



How many people get to see this each time they walk out their door and round the corner? There's something eerie about all those heads - the lighting is super-bright, and there's a wig-helper-lady standing at the door, ready to help you with all your wigging needs. She wears that little apron, and I wonder what she keeps in its pockets. And are synthetic "half-wigs" for people who are "half-bald?" Of course I could just go in and ask, but I don't want to kill the mystery of this place, near as it is to the Sneaker King. Speaking of sneaking, remember the blackout from 2003? That night, hooligans looted the Sneaker King...almost no other store was touched. Makes sense really. Shoes are among those things that retain much of their value out on the street. From our back window you could hear kids running through the alley, one saying "I got enough for the WHOLE year!" How many pairs do you suppose that was? I haven't a clue.

Speaking of one-year spans, I'm so sick of that "Year of..." fad in nonfiction. You know what I mean. The author sets out to do something unusual for a whole year, and apparently that's reason enough to land a book deal. "The Year of Eating Dangerously," "The Year of No Carbon Footprint," "The Year of No Internet" (really? that counts?), "The Year of Using No Buttons or Zippers, only Velcro" and what have you. I've got one though. "The Year of Never Leaving Caledonian Flatbush." Really, it's all here. Hell you could live your whole life and never travel more than two or three blocks in any direction. I'm not saying it would be a particularly fulfilling life, but you could get all of life's essentials within a few hundred feet. You'd need a job, of course. Maybe Gem is hiring?

Speaking of the Gem, Merry Christmas! Judging by its window display and the decorations along Flatbush, Christmas must be any day now...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

First Class Security


Ever look up? When I first came to NYC 23 years ago I did my best not to set my gaze to the heavens, for fear of being branded a tourist. These days, I could give a rat's ass, and I notice stuff all the time. Like the above NYPD security camera. Where would YOU put one? If you guessed right outside "First Class Liquors" on Flatbush between Parkside and Winthrop, you guessed right. But did you really know it was called First Class Liquors? It's pretty much a single malt scotch joint, so they got the name right.

Who's watching that thing? Or are they just recording in case something "goes down?" Call me crazy, but I'd rather see some of the blue uniforms in person than know some snoring cop is watching a few miles away. And have you noticed how young the new cops look? Were they always that young and I just got older? There was a really tall and super skinny cop at the Q at Parkside the other night. I didn't mean to, but I burst out laughing. Seriously, he was pale white and maybe 6' 7" and his hips could barely hold up his holster. I'm pretty sure those were acne scars too. He was with a really pretty black woman cop, and the two made such a hilarious couple I wanted to write a godawful Hollywood screenplay about them. "When Foxy Met Gomer" I'd call it.

Let me know where the other security cameras are, so I'll know where not to stand when I'm selling my cracks. And speaking of looking up, how much money is in it for landlords when they sell rooftop space for cell transmitters like this?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Ladies and Gentleman, Speaker Boehner.

I have absolutely nothing to say about the election, but thank God it's over. At least you got here, to the Q, safe and sound.

BONUS, JUST FOR VISITING! A NY Times article about Lefferts from 1986 is a must read for anyone with native curiosity beyond what's for dinner tonight: If You're Thinking of Living In 1986. Note that prices had recently tripled according to a local real estate dude, tripled meaning houses for around $150K, apartments on Ocean from $50K. And for those not old enough to remember, that was during the big runup before the turn of big housing correction of that era. And here's the best part: the article says Donald Trump owned (and probably developed) Patio Gardens! What a hoot. (You old-timer knew that already, but that's a yarn worth repeating)

What I really wanted to show you though was this poster that I saw a lady put up in the laundromat window (on Flatbush near the Bright Red Liquor Store): It seemed kinda sad to me at first. But then I recently read that a quarter of couples meet online - so why not finish how you started?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Meet Your Losers

Live Blogging of Election Coverage - Right Here on the Q!

10:05 PM: Well, election results are coming in fast and furious. I'll let the professional pundits handle the obvious races, but here at the Q we take a deeper look at issues that concern us all, including the tightly contested races for US Congress, State Senate and the NY State Assembly. While races are still too close to call, the Q is prepared to project the following winners in races affecting our blogging area:

US Congress: With just 0% of the Precincts reporting, we're prepared to go out on a limb and predict Yvette Clarke will win another term in NY 11th district. By varying accounts, she was either not contested or contested by some perennial Republican/Conservative fall guy named Hugh C. Carr. Mr. Carr has no website, doesn't come up at the top of Google, has no picture and submitted no positions to any of the major election guides.

NY State Senate (District 20): With 103% of Precincts reporting, I gotta give this one to Eric Adams. I'll admit to being biased here, because I love the video he made about sagging pants: saggy pants video. Adams has a bright future ahead of him, but tonight he was nearly derailed by Allan E. Romaguera, a bright young star in the chump-on-the-stump circuit. Once again, NO information is available on this guy, and I can't find a picture. Do I spot a trend emerging? Might it be that the Conservative Party puts up front candidates, maybe even pays them, to garner enough votes to keep themselves on the ticket? Man that's big. If I wasn't such a lazy-ass blogger I might have a big scoop here.

NY Assembly District 43: Not so fast! This sacrificial lamb is an actual human being by the name of Menachem M. Raitport, and he's a butcher, making the sacrificial lamb metaphor remarkably well-suited. Despite the fact that he's a Lubavitcher from Crown Heights, he was pummeled by Karim Camara, a minister, even among his own Chosen People. Folks from our area called him a stand-up guy, but apparently he's just not Jewish enough to command support from local synagogues. Mazel Tov, Reverend!

NY Assembly District 42: Technically this is beyond my reach, since it's the heart of Caledonia (West of Flatbush), but the Q projects longtime fighter for the 42nd Rhoda Jacobs to return to the Chamber after defeating Conservative/Republican candidate Alan Kesler. Kesler is apparently a real person also, and he won the backing of the Midwood branch of the Brooklyn Young Republicans, a hilarious group known for its conspicuous use of the color orange on its website: BYR. Good luck getting laid guys.

Well that'll be my last post of the evening. I'm sorry I couldn't get any pictures of the loser candidates, and I hate a blog post without a picture. So here's a picture of the North American Jackalope:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Coop Conundrum


I'll cut to the chase here. I've been a coop member for over 10 years. That's including the 7 I've lived here in the Flatbush Gardens of Lefferts. I have no car, and couldn't afford my mortgage if I had one. But I've never once felt that the Coop was too far or inconvenient. I've found plenty of other reasons to complain about the Coop, but that's never been on my list. Why? I'll show you why...


Next to my wife and daughter, these are my two best buddies. It used to be Q over B41, but now that the limited stops at 7th avenue, it's like Cake or Pie...I just can't decide which I like better.

I was surprised then to learn about the Lefferts Community Food Coop. Don't get me wrong - I think it's great that more people want to get into the whole "know thy food" scene, and it would be amazing to have a joint just a jaunt away. But create a whole coop? Man, that takes gumption. The PSFC has grown organically (hee hee) over nearly 40 years - not without a lot of blood, sweat and tears. The founders and early members ate, drank and slept Coop so that the 15,000 current members can bitch about having to do a fairly pleasant 2 3/4 workslot once a month. You see, here's the little secret that nobody tells you. The VAST majority of Coop members have few or no complaints, enjoy doing their shifts, and get only one make up if they miss a shift because they're on good terms with their squad leader. They love the food, chat leisurely in line, learn about the crazy amazing fresh produce, and joke about the goofy chaos that is now a $40 million a year business but STILL doesn't take credit cards and takes principled stands on things that matter and don't matter and is only now getting rid of its tens of thousands of embarrassing outdated index cards that were often the final arbiter of whether you were suspended or not. And so friggin' what...you get suspended? you work a shift! Big deal. That's the secret. Only the most vocal, selfish and lazy people spend their time complaining ad nauseum. And frankly, we didn't want those douchebags crowding our aisles anyway. If you can afford $10 for a small bag of organic turnips then be my guest - Union Market's owners send their kids to Dalton off folks like you! (Actually, they're apparently really nice people whose kids go to Community Roots public school...and I live in a glass house like Billy Joel, so I shouldn't be throwin' stones. Still...)

I love being bitchy! But that's not my natural state, so let me get back to the point. If you live here, or want to live here, but want to be part of the PSFC...it's easy as a drunken fratboy. The Q or B41 will get you there in 15 minutes. If you do a big shop, ask for a walker who'll take you right to the stop/station by the American Apparel. Or you could always call a car service if you don't have the muscles for even a short schlep.

Speaking of AmAp...I had my first daddy nightmare. Little Mrs. Flatbed (she's 18 months now) comes home one day after high school band practice and announces that she's going to pose as an American Apparel model. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

And so it begins...

Walking by 205 Parkside today I couldn't help but notice the van parked ominously on the sidewalk. And the door to the building was open, and a ladder to the scaffolding made one thing perfectly clear. This 20-odd year vacant building is about to be given a new lease on life, for better or worse. I've posted all the reasons why I'm not ultimately optimistic. Perhaps I sound like a man with a vendetta; actually I just see a lot of heady symbolism in the fate of this building, near as it is to my beloved Q at Parkside.

Next to the van two men were talking as if meeting for the first time. "What part of Bangladesh are you from?" asked the (very) young Orthodox gentleman to the driver of the van. A sweet conversation was going on. I decided to introduce myself, and I asked man #1 if he worked for Mike (Moses or Moshe) Fried), and he said yes, though he stuttered a bit when he said "worked for" and I wouldn't be surprised if he isn't Fried's grandson. Fried said at the Community Board meeting that said grandson would be leading the project. Seems like a nice young man, and in this case I hope the apple falls far from the tree. Like well into the next time zone.

The whole cockamamie notion that this building is going to be a decent hotel? Utter bologna. Back in 1999, the Daily News ran a piece about a building on Woodruff owned by (you guessed it) Moshe Fried. Neighbors were up in arms because he had signed a contract with the City making his building a makeshift SRO homeless shelter. The block was (and is) dominated by social service residences of one sort or another, and I guess locals were concerned that the density of needy folks was causing problems - and 155 Woodruff was, for some, one NIMBY project too many.

But here's the kicker. Then, as now, Fried used the "hotel" loophole to his advantage, to the tune of a City contract yielding sky-high profits - nearly a Benjamin per room per night for a full-house of squalid apartments, paid ON TIME by the CITY OF NEW YORK...here you can read it for yourself:

1999 Daily News Article

This line in particular: "The Community Action Project, a nonprofit community group, and residents believe Fried misrepresented the building as a hotel to the city to capture the lucrative contract. He reportedly gets $82 per room a night."

I look forward to getting to know the younger Fried. Perhaps one day his relatives and mine will stay at the hotel at the same time and get to know each other over drinks round the pool.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recent Rash of Robberies Riles Residents (er, Burglaries actually)


Some of you may have noticed officers of the 71st Precinct handing out fliers on Flatbush near Midwood. There's been an uptick in burglaries in our area - the cop I talked to pointed towards the Manor and south towards, you guess it, the Q at Parkside. They seem pretty sure this will pass, particularly if any of you have leads as to the perps' identity. Call Detective Bell at 718-735-0505.

Q postette MJMcBee had a bike stolen our of her hallway, and Mr McBee went to the cops with a description of the woman who did it (yeah, I know that's what i thought. woman? I guess I'm sexist). The "lady" in question was actually this familiar crackhead we see on Clarkson from time to time - I saw her later that night outside the Popeye's screaming at cops that "it's a free country!" Well, free until "the man" gets sick of your yapping anyway.

(Now, when I say crackhead, please don't take offense. I don't mean to overgeneralize, or inadvertently malign any of you honest, decent, hard-working crack addicts, I know we tend to lump you all together and call you by the pejorative "crackhead." I'll try to be more careful in the future. But for now...for god's sake put down the pipe. Start a blog! It worked for me...)

Officer Friendly said the burglaries are mostly "easy stuff," by which he meant unlocked or barely locked doors, open windows and the like. But no matter how lazy and entitled this current generation of burglars may be, please be careful and observant. Oh, and if you catch them in the act, why not mention that the really good stuff is on the other side of the park?

Lastly I just gotta point out that burglaries involve breaking or sneaking into places you don't belong, as opposed to robberies, which usually involve the threat of violence - like a mugging or a hold-up. Both involve intended "theft." Hard to say which is worse.

Sleep, um, well.