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, 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 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.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Do you hang to the left, or to the right?

Each day I, Clarkson FlatBed, must make a decision of great import. Most of us Parksidians, that is, residents of "Parkside," must decide each morning, after entering our beloved decrepit Q station and heading towards the Manhattan bound side, whether to go down the stairs to the left, or to the right. After a few hundred trips at about the same time every day, I actually recognize a fair number of you FRONT-OF-TRAINERS, and perhaps you, I. Rarely do I head right (why would I?), but the other day I did just that, to see what I could see, not unlike the proverbial Bear/Mountain scenario.

So many new faces! What a motley crew we are! Every color of the double-rainbow (Mrs. Q saw a pair rising over Clarkson today!), every dialect, every conceivable hair style, fashion and apparent destination. From burka to doo-rag to briefcase to hipster scruff - we're the real deal New Yorkers that makes living here such a trip. Today, I loved every last one of you. (Except you, Mr. Rico Suave, with your thick veneer of cheap cologne. I'll let it slide this time.)

Then I walked frontwards, and on that sliver of platform between the stairwell and tracks, I noticed this door and sign:

Clearly, this is N. Thompson's dominion, and he is it's sovereign. Yet there's something a tad sad about it. All he gets is this Enclosure? Can you even be a manager, if all you manage is an enclosure? Or does he manage a large number of enclosures? If I were the manager, I'd manage to do something about that besmirching graffiti. And what does it say? Best I can make out it says POWER 2 NGR GANG. The word or acronym NGR has an enormous number of potential meanings, though I think the most likely culprit is the affectionate word that the young men on my block often use to refer to one another. (While I won't make the mistake of writing the word here, suffice to say that many Brits and Yanks have used a number of synonyms through the years - LAD, CHUM, MATE, BUDDY, DUDE, PAL, with similar sentiment. Sort of.

Anyhoo, here's to you N. Thompson, and all you do to keep our enclosures safe, clear of debris, and securely locked at all times.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Neighborhood Appears Overnight! Ladies and Gents, I give you: BeCa

If you've ever ventured to the corner of Bedford and Caton, you'll have noticed the odd man out - 2217 Caton is a marvel of inexpensive modern architecture. It's so odd, it's strangely beguiling. Like 34 Crooke Ave before it, it's hard to know exactly who they're marketing this place to. Those people in the picture here suggest they have a certain, um, aesthetic in mind.

They're calling them the BeCa Condos, Be for Bedford and Ca for Caton. Why not the more hep sounding BeCat or BedCat? You know why. You don't get that chic SoHo vibe. And trust me, BeCa is a shoo-in for the next Wooster at Prince.

Seriously though, if you're looking for something "different," - check out the listings and open houses here: 2217 Info.

The ad copy is so delicious I have to post the whole thing here. Loving it! Zen Garden Everybody!!!

"This stunning new development offers modern convenience with an elevator, indoor parking, gym, common roof deck, and bike storage for residents. Exquisitely designed and built with quality material, BeCa's lobby, which mirrors the exotic lava stone tiled facade, leads to the Zen garden and 29 luxurious two-bedroom residences. Inspired by Japanese design, each unit is efficiently laid out to maximize space and features private outdoor space, fully-equipped designer kitchen, Italian-tiled bath, washer-dryer, and video intercom. The efficient use of space means you do not pay for unusable square footage and with… these exceptional prices, low common charges, tax abatement, and FHA or SONYMA financing*, you can own for the cost of renting. BeCa Condos is located on Bedford Avenue and Caton Avenue in the vibrant neighborhood of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. This unique enclave is comprised of a mixture of urban and suburban architecture. Its beautifully, well-preserved Victorian mansions, affordable new condo developments, proximity to Prospect Park, and convenient 20 minute commute to Manhattan via the B/Q and 2/5 trains have made Prospect-Lefferts Gardens one of the latest destinations for buyers from Manhattan and pricier Brooklyn neighborhoods who are seeking a good value in a friendly, close-knit community."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Changing Blog Name to De Gucc at Parkside

The Q goes away for the weekend and what do I find when I come back? DeGucc of York and his minions have taken over my blog! If you don't believe me, look at the recent comments to the right. UPDATE: ACTUALLY I TOOK A BUNCH OF THEM DOWN. DeGUCC LOST ME WHEN HE STARTED SENDING SEXUALLY EXPLICIT NOTES TO HIMSELF THROUGH THE COMMENTS. OY VEY.

Now, I'm no Bill Jobs or Steve Gates, but I've blogged around the block a time or two, and I know how to delete comments when they come in. In all the time I've been writing this here Pulitzer Prize bound thingy (oh, about 100 days) I've never had to do so. No profanity, no ugliness, not so much as a drunken irate tirade.

If you haven't the time, please read all the great posts about DeGucc, from DeGucc, with Degucc, with feeling about DeGucc FROM DeGucc. Or comment about another blog post! Cuz pretty soon I'm going to have to take the DeGucc down due to, um...the fact that this is MY blog!

One last hurrah though. Many people have asked me...what does DeGucc of York LOOK like? Here's to you, D.G.!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Autumn on Parkside

Man, every day my fellow East Caledonian Parksiders and I trudge the dreary walk from Mansoob's "Crips Corner" Deli to the Q at Parkside, past Popeyes', mysterious Parkside Court, the miserable Fried Hotel-to-Be, the chipper Yemeni's at Parkside Deli, the bickering "canners" of Pioneer...jeez louise I've blogged about nearly every step of that 107 stride walk haven't I? Oh, except I haven't posted about the always loiter-lively "225 Parkside." So about a $500 share in 225 Parkside? Just listed! Golly, if I were a single woman I'd jump at that one! I didn't even know you could get a room for $500 anymore...

There! Now I've blogged the whole damn walk. Whew...feeling tired now. And yet...

The above photo is of the remarkably hearty blooms on a rose bush in the "landscaped" strip next to our beloved Popeye's Fried Chicken. As I stooped to sniff a bloom, I was overwhelmed by the fearsome fried chicken smell being burped onto the sidewalk by the "marketing" exhaust fan. Which instantly reminded me of that passage in the book FAST FOOD NATION about New Jersey based companies that try to reintroduce flavor and odors into processed foods that have been dried, frozen and churned so many times they no longer have the taste and sniff of their once delicious selves. And so companies like the mammoth International Flavors and Fragrances have to artificially create the sensation that we come to know and love as "food." If you gotta minute, click that IF&F link. It's really creepy...

But taking a step back from self-righteousness...don't you think it's the Popeye's fragrance that's making them roses pop like that?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Affordable Housing Rises From Caledonian Rubble

Shot this pic from the playground at UMMA Park.

While other projects in the neighborhood stall and storefronts go vacant, this mighty building at 97 Crooke keeps charging ahead. The 900 lb Gorilla of the social services world - CAMBA - is behind the development. 53 units of subsidized housing will be available to those making 60% or less of area median income. Not quite sure how that is determined - like, what's "area" mean, and I don't know about you, but I don't make the same year to year. Seems loopholey, but I like the idea anyway. The Caledonian connection is this - CAMBA bought the vacant lot from the bankruptcy sale of the Caledonian Hospital. While the greedy Chetrit Group sits on the hospital building itself, ignoring the neighborhood and its people, CAMBA got down to business and pretty soon actual people will have a place to live.

I have some first-hand experience with CAMBA's program to house the formerly homeless, and I'll post more about that another time. As you can imagine, "affordable housing" has its share of misfires too, so I'm not saying they always get it right. Here's more on 97 Crooke, straight from the Gorilla's e-mouth: CAMBA'S 97 CROOKE

Love it or hate it, it was the Stimulus Bill that made it happen. At the risk of lecturing to all those who think the economy-saving Recovery Act was a colossal waste of dough -- that money didn't go down a rat hole. It went into actual projects, actual nonprofit groups, actual salaries and actual infrastructure. It has the same effect on the economy as a tax cut, only it's targeted. Why target it, instead of giving it away willy nilly? Because greedy racist nimby-minded blowhard tea-partying ignorant immigrant-smearing rednecks would waste their taxcut money at Wal Mart, and most of that money goes overseas anyway to ensure that the slave-laboring Chinese never break free of their Dickensian industrial nightmare. Tell 'em the Q said so...

Or better yet, if you haven't seen Jimmy "Rent is Too Damn High" McMillan's performance at the debates last night, you're in for a real treat: RENT IS TOO DAMN HIGH.

And so it is Jimmy. Perhaps at 97 Crooke, it'll only be 60% of too high.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fried No Chicken - Meets with Community

It's really amazing actually. A few phone calls, a few emails, a couple stopping by's, a few blog posts and voila! Seated at the table at 890 Nostrand, Community Board 9's headquarters, were reps from Sen Eric Adams office (thanks Reuven!), Assemblyman Karim Camara's office, Borough President Markowitz's office (go Ann Marie!). Others in attendance: "Ocean on the Park" Ed, blog-orific "Babs" Rogers, down-to-earth district manager Pearl Miles and Martin Ruiz, prez of PLGNA. And yours truly of course.

After fifteen minutes or so of chit-chat amongst ourselves and with his designated good cop from his architect's office, Moses "Mike" Fried arrived and immediately threw down his charm bucket. It became clear mere moments later that his bucket was full of horse puckey.

Mike told us many things to gain our sympathies, and in fact, his story is quite remarkable. Three times he reminded us that he was a Holocaust Survivor, and twice that he was a religious man. While I certainly don't doubt the former, I'm not sure how the second is relevant. He seems to think that being religious means being ethical, and one need only read the papers to know this is utter bull. Post WWII Europe was no longer an option for him, so he moved to NY where his self-described empathy for the poor led him to build low cost homes in East New York that sold for $32,000, when most were $35,000. The specificity amazed me! That was the 1950's, he said, and ever since he has tried to provide housing for those who have nowhere else to go.

He told us how his Lefferts Hotel USED to be a whorehouse before he bought it. He told us how much the neighborhood needs a hotel (right, and a convention center too). He complained that 205's previous owners had done nothing at all, and nobody complained (how would he know?) Half a dozen times he told us there will be no prostitution. So here's the newsflash for you: He's willing to go on record as saying he has NO PLANS TO RUN A BROTHEL!!

His architect claims he's going to spend less than $100K to rehab the place (she actually said 60K; Mrs. Q tells me the permit typically under-reports to save on fees) yielding 19 500 s/f "one bedrooms." While legally he's bound to allow stays no shorter than 30 days, he was quick to add that he wouldn't turn people away for, say, a week (oops!). And in the end, it's really not about him, apparently. His grandson, who also goes by Michael but pronounces it Michelle or Mitchell (he said both), will inherit the building, so another generation of Fried's can live off the proceeds of grampa's good works. And good name.

Construction starts in the next couple weeks and goes for 6 months to a year. Oh, and he guaranteed that the Pakistani people he hired to do the job are very nice people, and that some of them probably come from the neighborhood. And the black ladies he hires to be the maids? He said they're very nice people too. So you see, he's a real champion of diversity.

I'm sorry Mr. Fried. You have every legal right to build your fleabag motel. But we have every right to watch your every little move.

Welcome to the Q at Parkside Mr. Fried! We'll leave the light on for ya...

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I thought it was awfully thoughtful of this vandal to share his upbeat message - and in the same pastel pink paint as his tag.

Though I must admit that back in corn country where I come from, kindness is often spoken with a "hot dish" and maybe a jello salad.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Onomastics Exposed

In the last few years I've passed this door at 717 Flatbush many-a-time and made the same sorry associative silly joke in my head about the words on this sign:

Would that A. Shoemaker followed her true calling!


Finally! Someone to defend the rights of downtrodden cobblers!

Turns out her full name is Autumn M. Shoemaker, and now (hopefully) when she googles her own name (who doesn't?) she'll turn up this blog post instead of that dreary court case involving some petty coop board.

Next time your pumps get sued, you know where to turn.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Chubby Hipster Topples Trees in Midwood; Dollar Vans Cheer

My apologies. After a pain in the ass commute home, the last thing this lazy blogger was about to do was go out and shoot some pictures of mother nature's effect on Dollar Van industry. Thus the above picture.

But I only jest by half, because in fact a tree did topple on the tracks at Avenue M around 4PM, rerouting all Brighton Line subway cars over the dastardly D line - hardly a useful alternative unless you live on the Island of Coney. Thousands of commuters poured onto the streets of Brooklyn looking for alternatives - your humble servant of Q included. Using nothing but my bare hands and all the savvy I could muster, I got off at Dekalb to be near the BEGINNING of the chaos, the easier to get a seat on a bus or gypsy van. I made my way to the corner of Livingston and Flatbush and waved down a reggae blasting D.V. After squeezing my ample buttocks into the back seat next to an even more amply em-bottomed woman with an overwhelmingly aromatic foam container of chinese food, I made my peace with my ride home and watched the sad spectacle of stranded pedestrians flood the sidewalks of Flatbush Ave unable to hail so much as a skateboard.

It's amazing how many of us count on the MTA every day, and how a relatively minor wind event can throw the City into chaos. Remembering 9/11, the blackout, those bizarre shutdowns because the subway couldn't handle rain over a certain's a wonder we so consistently make it home for vittles.

It all turned out o.k. in the end -- the big lady and I both got off in front of Popeyes!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Caledonian Mystery

I can't be the only one peeved that Park Avenue in Manhattan doesn't run along the park. It's two blocks away for chrisakes. Were city planners totally high, or did they just get lazy and not rename things after the park set its boundaries? I know, I know, I could probably Google my way into understanding, but I'm too lazy, and it's more fun to be outraged. It's not like there's no precedent for changing the names of streets long-known as something else. Ever heard of Avenue of the Americas? Dumb name, right? Somehow that one stuck, and even longtime New Yorkers use it sometimes - like the ones who still say IRT when referring to good ol' green and red.

This humble blogger's physical and spiritual home is here in Parkside, a fanciful land where the glorious Caledonian Hospital once thrived as benevolent castle, and where the fabled U-Deli of Parkside once bustled with lotto sales. And yes, I plan on having my ashes scattered over UMMA park like the rest of you.

One of our main streets - "Parkside Ave" - is aptly named, but of course, it doesn't predate Prospect Park itself. On the map below, purportedly from 1901, it's pretty clear that Parkside Avenue was called Franklin Avenue, which doesn't make a lot of sense, since there's already a Franklin Ave, which you could sort of imagine extending down past Empire and around along Ocean Ave and bend it 'round the corner at "the Q at Parkside" station, thus cutting the park from its parade grounds.

Fair enough then. There were two Franklin Avenues, and never the twain shall meet. And yet, I came across this nugget in the Brooklyn Eagle archives from 1902:

I'm inclined to believe this version of events. And remember, this was right around the time Brooklyn became integrated into NYC, so things were probably happening fast and furious. Oh, and thousands of new immigrants were flooding into Brooklyn every month via Ellis Island. What's a tiny name change during a time of chaos? Just another whimsical bureaucratic swipe of the pen I'd imagine.

Ft. Hamilton Avenue DOES make sense. Lots of sense. Just look at the modern map and mentally extend the current Ft. Ham, pretending Robert Moses' Prospect Expressway ain't there. The choice to extend the name Parkside Avenue all the way to Kings County Hospital? Not so much.

Ah, Parkside. Just between you and me, Parkside between Flatbush and Bedford is my favorite block in all the kingdom. Real class act, Parkside.

But it don't run along the side of no park.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Artful Dodgers

What I wouldn't give for a photograph of Parkside Q in the 1700s! I mean I wouldn't want to live then, there, what without air conditioning, bagels, modern footware and FrozFruit® bars. Oh and that pesky little issue of slavery. I was reading about the history of Flatbush, shocked to learn that population in the 1790s was around 1,000, only to find out that the census frequently left out women, children and non-free men, who weren't considered full peoples at all, though how much of a person you were could fluctuate from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, meaning you really never knew how much of a person you were. For some reason this brings to mind the ridiculous notion of achieving one's full potential, an ephemeral benchmark created by multiple competing interests all hellbent on assuring your eternal misery. But that's a story for my shrink, if I had one, which I don't, because thankfully I have this blog, which is considerably cheaper and doesn't work out of its home way up on the Upper East Side, though it did take off a couple weeks in August.

But some old photos DO exist, and they exist primarily to blow your little mind. Case in point...

If you've ever walked "up" Bedford towards Empire and historically accurately named Ebbets houses you come upon a scene that looks like this:

Had you taken the same walk just 50 years prior, you'd have seen this:

So the next time some dork pines about the day the Dodgers left Brooklyn for L.A., remember these photos. And remember that Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier in the Major Leagues, and whose name adorns the sorry-ass school that sits in the ghost-shadow of Ebbets Field? Not so much longer ago, he'd've never showed up in the population count.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Unexampled Poster

I'll let you read this first, if you haven't seen it up on a local utility pole:

I have a lot of thoughts about this poster, and they're confusing to me. The language. The choice to discuss the Domestic Violence issue. The need for cat-owners to be energetic. The choice of the intensely unusual word "unexampled."

I'm truly pro-cat and way anti-violence of any kind. Always have been. But like I said, this poster confused me.

Hope it all works out y'all. Consider your plea passed along...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ever wonder what it costs...

In an ongoing series, I look at various buildings and businesses and ask "I wonder what that costs..."

Episode 1. We were recently mailed this enticing advert at work (yes, some bloggers have jobs):

Mrs. Q and I have long been fans of Lily's Touch of Millenium, recently defunct. In reference to a recent brave Hawthorne Street blog post about white folk and hair stylists on Flatbush: Mrs. Q actually got to know Michael, the owner of Lily's, when she was supervising the getting of the hair did for a young dancer, a white English gal who was performing in an art thang. In fact, Mrs. Q got her hair did herself just a couple of years prior as part of a BAM gig she was in. And the intense braiding scene hit even closer to home recently, since our amazing babysitter from Congo takes our daughter over to an African braider named Laura to hang occasionally. I'll put in a plug for Laura here - she's on Woodruff near Flatbush -- but I've never personally had my hair African-braided and I tend to go for the 15 minute cut, rather than the 15 hour variety.

Regarding the building for sale...who's got an extra couple mill to drop on this joint? To pull a Brownstoner, I don't think it's worth more than $1.1. What do you think?

Meeting set with 205 Parkside Owner and Architect

Pearl Miles, our fearless District Manager at CB9, has responded to neighborhood concerns for the centrally located Masonry Cesspool Building by setting up a meeting with the perpetrators. Some of you have expressed interest in joining - if you have specific expertise to bring to bear, I'd love to hear from you. So far the Q has reached out to Hawthorne Street blog, Eric Adams office, and will be looking for someone from the unfortunately named PLeGNA, as well as inviting a longtime resident lawyer of some repute who lives 'round the way. I suspect the meeting will end up looking something like, or exactly like, this:

Calm, rational conversation overlooking Midtown... I'm the guy in the lower right hand corner, and yes, that is Brylcream with a touch of Grecian Formula.

By the way, Grecian Formula is not Greek at all and...has lead in it! Meaning that dad's vanity can lead to baby's retardation! Not only that, the same company makes another krazy-kool product that you don't admit to using - Odor Eaters, and despite the company's obsession with gross body issues and snake-oily potions, their name is way less stomach-churning than PLeGNA - it's COMBE INCORPORATED. All you ever wanted to know about C.I.:

Combe Incorporated, based in White Plains, New York, is a privately owned personal-care company founded in 1949 by Ivan Combe. It is best known for its Odor Eaters line of foot-care products. Combe also owns the brands Just for Men, Lanacane, Scalpicin, Vagisil, and Grecian Formula.

Combe was the originator of the Clearasil brand but sold the rights to it in 1961.

In October 2002, Combe acquired J.B. Williams, thereby adding such longtime names as Brylcreem and Cepacol to its brand stable.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Snooze/Lose rule applies at 205 Parkside

Good afternoon neighbors!

Our good friends Moses Fried and David Tepper, at 205 Parkside (i.e. the one-time Free Rathole of Craigslist a/k/a The Luxury Squatter Gardens complex so centrally located in our neighborhood) has WON approval to build their latest real estate assault on Brooklyn.

Community Board District Manager Pearl Miles informs me that the owners have received all the necessary approvals to build a 19-unit Apartment Hotel in the dilapidated building.

Brownstoner and Hawthorne Street had reported just last April that the application had been denied to build more of the Prince Hotel Group's Junkie/Prostitution Hotels. It would appear that the owners decided to sneak through a loophole, and create instead a complex of Junkie/Prostitution Apartments. If a building is intended for stays longer than 30 days, you don't need to change the zoning of the building.

I've asked that we be granted a meeting with the architect (and owner) to discuss what's really going on here. If the owner intends for these to be decent, affordable apartments...great. But the duo's history suggests otherwise. We'll need to be vigilant - any building of this size so close to the Q at Parkside is bound to make or break the feel of the neighborhood. The problem we have with Apartment Hotel is that it encourages transience, not permanence, and cash transactions over leases and the rules and protections that go with them.

Anyone care to join me for a meeting at Community Board 9's office?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Jamaica's "Queen of Comedy"

A perfect fall day this. Saturday, and the colors are bold and the air crisp. I like that word "crisp." It's like a dyslexic Crips, one of my favorite neighborhood gangs, as they favor the color blue, and incidentally were first called The Cribs back in L.A. when they started because of their young age, but when they started walking with canes (an oddly aristocratic affectation) people started jokingly calling them Crips, for Cripples, though I suspect that the first person to make the Crips joke is no longer with us. The name stuck, and on crisp days like this, I like to imagine that the gang consider a less felonious pursuit, like the elves of Keebler, making cookies, which could be called Crips Crisps. Say that 5 times fast! Heck, that's such a tongue-twister I can't even say it twice slow. But that's the kinda day it is. The sort of day on which even Pepa might pick a peck of pickled peppers.

So I'm walking up Flatbush, past Mansoob's Deli at the corner of Parkside. Don't get me started about this place. It's filthy, and frequented by junkies and lowlifes (lowlives?), but still they frequently have the flavor of ice cream favored by the Mrs., and I find myself supporting them more often than I'd like to admit. And speaking of Crips and my wife (true story), Mrs. Clarkson FlatBed heard someone ask where the Crips hung out and the answer guessed front of Mansoob's. But that's not what this post is about. Actually, what is it about? Oh yes. It's a post about this poster:

My eyes and brain were simply not culturally equipped to handle this image; I had to do some research. Herein, my findings:

A. The, um, striking woman in the picture is a character known as Delcita, who is played by Jamaica's Andrea Wright.

B. The story of her ascent to that island nation's comedic throne is told here, in the Jamaican Gleaner.

C. The Jamaican Gleaner has been continuously published since its founding in 1834, and has a huge role in all aspects of life on the Island.

D. The poster is promoting a purportedly uproarious play called "The Plumber," which you can get a glimpse of here. I'm reminded of Tyler Perry's character Madea. As you can see, the crowd goes crazy for Delcita!

E. Jamaica has a long history of serious and comedic theater, both on the Island and in Britain.

F. Jamaicans love nicknames, and Jamaicans are arguably the most creative linguists in the world, with a wild and wacky playful relationship to the English language. If you want to know more about Jamaican's, I suggest this amazing blog: THINGS JAMAICANS LOVE.

G. This production of "The Plumber" takes place on Columbus Day, which is ironic in as much as that's the day America celebrates the beginning of its colonization, leading to slavery and the slaughter of the New World's indigenous populations.
Though it's safe to say that without those horrors, "The Plumber" would certainly not be happening next weekend.

I ask you once again: is this an amazing neighborhood or what? Shine on Caledonia!