The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mysterious Parkside Court

Ever peeked down Parkside Court and said "man, I wonder what's going on down there? I'd go down and check it out, but I can't pretend I was just passing through on my way somewhere else, cuz it's a dead-end street." My inner monkey-voice says that to me-self almost everytime I pass it on the way to and from the Q at Parkside.

It's just another Brooklyn block, right?! Like Westbury and Chester and Beekman (off Flatbush), Parkside Court is a freaky cul de sac caused by...the Q at Parkside. In a densely populated neighborhood like ours, these near deserted streets beckon with a combination of exclusivity and wonder. And Chester court has a bunch of cute Tudor houses. If you have an extra $700,000 lying around, you could swoop one up, and the kids could play in the street, cuz there's never any traffic. I think I even saw a tumbleweed or two rollin' rollin' rollin' down the pavement.

But now I know someone on Parkside Court! Her name is Unitey, and I'm going to ask her to guest blog about it. I won't bug her today because it's Memorial Day. But maybe you know something about Parkside Court - a story, a thought, a nightmare? Please share!

Have a great holiday neighbors!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ain't life Gran Bwa?

The shops around the Q at Parkside tend to disorient the newcomer. The Duane Reade at Flatbush and Parkside beckons the recent transplant with its promise of familiar consumer goods and suburban customs - clean, bright lighting; middle-class products; and of course, the delightful new in-house DELISH brand products.

Next door, things become a bit odd, but don't EVER mistake the GEM for just another run-of-the-mill 99-cent store. The Gem, much like the character Jem from Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird," is energetic, curious and sweet. The similarities are so striking that I wouldn't be surprised if the Gem didn't win a Pulitzer too.

Keep walking hits you. You've got to be blind to miss it. Or rather nose-less. The incense burning in the phone booth ('member them?) is strong enough to make your knuckles twitch. You've entered the tractor beam of Gran Bwa, the Haitian Vodou shop that makes this Iowa transplant wonder how he ever ended up in such a wild and wonderful place as Caledonia. I've only ever bought sunglasses there, but I always love the music, and I can't help but wonder about the religious trinkets and statues.

Gran Bwa, as it turns out, is a Vodou Loa - a spirit that frequently has a counterpart with a Catholic Saint, since the French slavers tried in vain to hammer the African out of their "property." Gran Bwa (above) corresponds to St. Sebastian, who i guess got shot while tied to a tree (not a fair fight guys!) Here's his deal, from some website so well designed it must be nothin' but the truth:

"Gran Bois (Bwa) is a very loving loa with a great sense of humor and full of advice. He is apparently proud of the fact that he has a big, stiff p*n*s. Gran Bois can be petitioned for healing and prosperity and general advice." (I did not make that up. Bing it yourself!)

I'm no expert on syncretic religions (actually I think all religions are syncretic, but that's a different post for a different blog on a different internet). But one cool thing I learned today was that Vodou acknowledges the existence of the Creator, but that entity made all the universe and basically split, or BECAME all of this, or IS all of this. Meaning that this historical creature/essence/force known as Bondye doesn't factor into our lives at all. So if you need help, you gotta call on the Loa.

Pantheism meet Pandeism. It's all gonna be alright, isn't it?

Isn't it?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Across the street from the Q at Parkside

Since moving to SW PLG/Eastern Caledonia seven years ago, I've been struck by the changes in the small businesses in our neighborhood. As in, virtually none, save one salon swapping for another. That's right, as Brooklyn has shifted and swayed to the sweet breeze of fashion, the ma and pa shops around the Q at Parkside remain largely unchanged.

Take Parkside directly across the street from "the Q at Parkside" for example. As house and apartment prices have skyrocketed (and stabilized), the block continues to attract relatively little commerce. The noble handmade sign of Parkside Cleaners commands attention, and I'm a fan of the oddly bustling Maverick Comics and of course, the star-crossed ICH. But beyond the infamous shooting of high school senior and rollerblader Brian Scott at the Parkside Donut shop last fall, little of note takes place on this potentially very lucrative strip. Is it the McDonalds that holds it back? The oddly named and shuttered U-Deli? The other neighbor businesses? That never stopped anyone before. Heck when I lived in the pre-boom Gowanus area, a little start-up called Patois opened on Smith street amidst similar squalor, and a mere three years later the street became Brooklyn's culinary Champs-Elysee.

For chips-n-giggles I called the number of Kaloshi Realty, whose for-lease sign has hung for months above one of the gated shops. I told her I wanted to do a wine shop (not true 65 Fen!), which we knew would sound shi-shi. She quoted me $3,000 a month. Say what?!? They'll take $1,500 and first and last month free and we all know it. What a lousy negotiator! (FYI, Kaloshi brokers dozens of other businesses around the neighborhood, and even the long-vacated Royal Video store on Flatbush at 6th Avenue. Full disclosure: I used to live above it with a certain notorious New Yorker reviewer who shall remain nameless (here anyway...he does have a name, I'm just not saying).

Any thoughts on the Outdoor Parkside Mall?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Greater Prospect Lefferts Gardens Parkside Caton Park Parade Grounds Prospect Park Southeast Neighborhood Association

This blogging thang is a trip. Here I thought I had it all figgered out, and y'all got my head spinning so fast I nearly got a malted brain (cabinet brain for those from Rhode Island). I'll try not to dwell on it, but New York is a City of Neighborhoods, and if you don't know which one you're in, well, it can lead to an identity crisis. And friends, that can lead to all manner of DSMIV issues.

We all live in Flatbush - that's a given. If you're not hip to that yet you should probably do a bit of research, since it was the Dutch settlement of Flatbush that set the whole ball a-rollin'. Vlack bos was the actual Dutch town name, and it translates loosely into "Tight Pants." Tight Pants...Flatbush.

Flatbush is roughly bounded by Coney Island Ave, New York Ave, Empire Blvd-Prospect Park and Brooklyn College-Ave H-LIRR-the Junction etc. That's HUGE. Depending on where you draw your borders and where you get your numbers, there are anywhere from 100,000 - 250,000 people living in "Flatbush." That's not a neighborhood. That's bigger than Des Moines! (If for some reason that doesn't impress you, that's merely because you didn't grow up in Ames, Iowa like I did, thinking that Des Moines was, like, massive.)

So one day I'm trolling about I and I run across an article on the Brownstoner about a micro-nabe called Caton Park. Yes, it actually exists, and it's roughly the tree-lined streets directly below the Parade Grounds (or NW Flatbush, I suppose). And frankly, I get it. Once you hit Church, sh#t gets weird. Coney Island Ave is like a dry urban moat. You can't extend your 'hood into the Park. And Caledonia (the new name I just coined for those streets just east of the Parade Grounds) is too densely populated to feel like, er, Caton Park.

All I'm sayin...and I'll admit, it ain't much, is that there is plenty of precedent for people banding together and calling their neighborhood a neighborhood. I'll keep dreaming. And if, while I'm dreaming, I'm in need of some driving lessons, a Notary, some copies, a divorce, and a "Pay-o-Matic" bill paying service, I can always head to the corner of Parkside and Tight Pants:

News Flash - Coffee place north of the border!

I'm so embarrassed. I'm a whole year late to the game, despite having passed it, I'm sure, many many times.

Thanks Josh, for posting a comment about The Glass Shop, a coffee and wi-fi joint North of PLG. Sure it's a bit of a hike, but you're intrepid. You moved to the Greater Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Community didn't you? Give 'em some business and tell 'em Clarkson FlatBed sent you.(They'll have no idea what you're talking about, but the awkward exchange might lead to some interesting anecdote.)

From the rave reviews on the Yelp! (an Internet thingy for something called the world wide web, a space-age communication network that allows you to access information from all over the world in milliseconds, which is one thousandth of a second, which is weird because milli makes you think millionth), I'd say they've got themselves a hit. I gotta go soon, though I'm not going to lug my 20 lb. four-year-old HP laptop with me. Though it's almost old and big enough to be blogging.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Q at Parkside - Is it really a neighborhood?

The day started blandly enough - giving blood and urine to the visiting nurse at 8AM so I can qualify for low-cost life insurance. She wants to know if there's a damn good chance I WON'T die in the next 20 years. That's their bet, and I'm hoping I lose. I guess you can say I'm taking out my own credit default swap - $250,000 worth. If I die before I turn 63, I'm worth about the cost of a one-bedroom apartment in Crown Heights. Sweeeeeeet!!!

This afternoon I volunteered for the Prospect Lefferts Gardens House Tour. What a swell place Matt and Roxanne have at 194 Rutland! And that block, between Bedford and Rogers, is a like Sesame Street fantasy come true. But after a day of hobnobbing with my brothers and sisters to the north in Lefferts Manor, I started to get homesick. Luckily, Pat, my cross the street neighbor, was volunteering with me, and we had a great time talking about Clarkson Avenue. And let me tell ya, Clarkson ain't no Lefferts Manor!

Let me try to be straight with you. I'm not that interested in talking about gentrification, amenities, house prices, etc. Sure that kinda conversational filler comes up all the time for those of us fortunate enough to call "The Q at Parkside" our home. And look, I don't need the U.S. Census to tell me what's going on around here. I see the recent college grads at the Q at Parkside every morning, noon and night. If you look close, you can see the liberal arts diplomas stickin' out of their khakis.

I'll go out on a limb here and say it: In NYC, you live where you can afford to live. It's really that simple. Want a bigger house? Move somewhere cheaper. And cheaper in NYC means that your aunt and uncle from Minnetonka ain't necessarily going to "get it." But presumably you didn't move to NYC to impress Bev and Gary anyhow. You came to be a part of the great human experiment they call the Big Apple.

Conversely, if it's important to you to be within a three-minute walk of the nearest Cotes du Rhone and $12 appetizer of wilted greens with warm bacon dressing, you're going to pay for the privilege. (This just in -- it doesn't cost MORE to get those wilted greens fresh. They're SUPPOSED to be wilted.)

That's enough on the subject. It makes me feel bitchy just thinking about neighborhood jingoism, race and foie gras. Sometimes I feel like everyone in Brooklyn is busy whining about each other. Maybe we should all drop the pose and start acting like we actually LIKE each other? Not if we can hide behind our blogs and kvetch!

I guess what I'm saying is this. Picture one below is from one of Lefferts Gardens most gorgeous blocks. Picture two is part of Clarkson's historic district. My neighborhood is The Q at Parkside, Parkside to those who live here, and P-Side to those with cred. And yes, I'm the one with the cred. At least round these here parts of the internets.

Cuz when you name your neighborhood, it's just like that. You in?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Internet Coffee House makes me wanna cry...

Dear ICH:

Since day one I've been rooting for you. The great name (Internet Coffee House is BRILLIANT! And the acronym is ICH!!) The font on your sign. The location. The promise of decent coffee in a neighborhood devoid of latte. And when "they" started making fun of you on the defunct blog ACROSS THE PARK, I hated "them." I wanted to run into your arms for a croissant and an hour of google, as if to say "everything's gonna be alright."

You even had a website! ICH In fact, it's still there...neglected, sad, unloved. This picture from your site doesn't do you justice:

Then you started putting up all those signs in your window. It makes you look cheap! And computer repairs? Really? I'm not a snob ICH. I actually WANT to go to a coffee place that doesn't feel all bourgeois and snooty. But please...just go do some research...check out other places in Brooklyn. Forget K-Dog. They've got their thing going on, and there's no reason to copy it. But over in Park Slope, Ft. Greene, even Ditmas Park, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a coffee joint. And most of them are staying in business, though I'll never understand why.

I just want it to work out between the two of us. So think about what I've said, but stay true to yourself.

Yours always,
Clarkson FlatBed

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Taking a ride in the Paternity Van, if you know what I mean.

Actually, if you DO know what I mean then you might just live in "Parkside." I love/hate the Dollar vans as much as any "Parkside" resident. (Some call them Gypsy vans, though I don't know why. since I've never seen a person of Roma descent driving one. Come to think of it they haven't been a dollar either, not since the Blackout of '03. Maybe we could just call them Risking-Trip-to-the-Trauma-Center-To-Save-a Quarter vans?).

I love riding in the RTTCSQ vans - the music, the ladies singing along with Mary J. Blige, the thrill of calling out your stop. But...lest you think I'm a terrible father, I would never ever take my daughter in one. And (lest you think I am not a man of honour) I, much like the gentlemen of late 19th century would always walk on the street side of the sidewalk lest a horse come by and splash your lady with mud, I always try to promenade my beloved whilst walking closest to Flatbush, lest a runaway dollar van jumps the curb. Not that I'd be any match for a two-ton over-stuffed Dodge RAM anyway. But at least I'd be first to be decapitated, and that, my friends, is chivalry.

What I really wanted to say here is that I am 100% sure that my baby is my daughter. I've seen pictures of me as a baby, and darned if I didn't look just like her when I was 13 months. And still...when the dollar van comes by (you know the one) that has this ad on the side:

you gotta ask much is it worth to be really, really, really, really, REALLY sure?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Great Start for Clarkson Block Association

It's official. The Clarkson FlatBed block association is up and running...and we can use your support!

Yesterday, my wife and I hosted 7 fantastic people to plan TWO events for this summer. The first will be a Block Beautification Day: SUNDAY, JUNE 6 from 1-4 PM. We'll be cleaning the block, planting flowers, applying mulch to our brand new street trees, and inviting neighbors to get involved. Kids in the neighborhood will be asked to "adopt a tree," which we hope will encourage young people to look out for our fine leafy friends.

We're also planning a Clarkson btw Flat & Bed BLOCK PARTY for mid-August. Why so late? The City needs 90 days advance notice...and mid-August is 90 days away. More on that later...

To join the Block Association all you need to do is send us an email at:

Thanks neighbor!

Clarkson FlatBed (a/k/a Tim)

Friday, May 14, 2010

A [fill in blank] Grows in Brooklyn

Man I hate that phrase! Time to retire "a ___ grows in Brooklyn." Unless you're from Iowa (like me), in which case you're forgiven for using it. Once.

Anyhoo, I'm sure you already knew that the closing of the Blockbuster on Flatbush at Caton was like a long boring remake. Good riddance, I say. I ended up going there because I was too often too lazy to send back the NetFlix, and I'd end up spending WAY more time than intended and I'd STILL walk out with a movie with a III or IV in the title.

But walk just another block south to Linden, hang a louie, and presto - free movies, books, CDs, wi-fi, info, bathroom. What is this "fantasy" business, you say? Why it's your own local branch of the Brooklyn Library! The FLATBUSH branch to be exact.

It may not be the prettiest. It may not be the biggest. But I highly suggest you get to know your local branch, because you never know what crazy doc, classic or how-to vid they're going to have in circulation. 9 times out 9f 10 I end up with something WAY better than I ever got from the Blowbuster. The folks are friendly, the wi-fi's always on, and...something else. Darn.

See you there!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Melany - Dominican Food Made w/afición

Dave Thomas named his joint after his daughter Wendy. The good folks at K-Dog have a son by that nickname. Add to the pantheon Melany, the daughter of the owner of the #1 Dominican place within spittin' distance of The Q at Parkside.

To our brothers and sisters of "PARKSIDE" (if "SW Prospect Lefferts Gardens" is too much of a mouthful for you) - we really haven't any proper bourgeois restaurants, and this can be a pain when you want a bottle of wine, a cheese-plate and some roasted red pepper and warmed goat cheese over locally grown greens du jour. It's really not far to Park Slope though, and one could easily choke on its glut of braised vermont pork ragout. I'm teasing of course...I love a tasty overpriced meal as much as the next college grad.

What we DO have in PARKSIDE as far as restaurants go is really quite remarkable. Assuming you have an adventurous streak, you'll never go hungry. There are even a few places that make for a nice, albeit informal, sit-down experience. I'm tempted to focus on the Jamaican or Trinidadian places, oh, and I will, but what about the Dominican Republic? Last I checked it's in the Caribbean too! I'm a huge fan of the food, and you can do a lot worse than Melany at the corner of Lenox and Flatbush. The staff is super-friendly, and since its winter remodeling, it's really quite cozy. Takeout and Delivery available...I highly recommend the rotisserie chicken, though you might want to ask for the "most recent" bird, since the pollo has a tendency to dry out with time on the spit.

But there's lots more to Dominican cuisine than chicken and rice and beans. La Bandera, "the Flag," is sort of the national dish, though you won't see the word Bandera on the menu. It basically means meat stew (with rice and beans completing the Flag). Chicken, Pork and Goat are the Dominican staples, and you'll find these delicious stewed items under Especiales del Dia. If you want a cheap Sammy, Melany makes a decent Cubano (I know, it's Cuban, but screw the embargo), breakfast (Desayuno) comes in heaps, either Spanish or American, and we recently had the Mango Batido and let me tell you it's like smoothie in paradise (apologies to the soon-to-be-estate of Jimmy Buffet). Oh, and try the Mofongo if you love plantain sculpture. I love me some Mofongo.

The blasting Merengue can be a bit much at night, but you can drop by here for a beer, sangria or Batido anytime, even when you're not hungry. You might feel a bit out of place if you're used to Brasserie living. But hey, you're living in PARKSIDE - do you really have the dough for sauteed atlantic bluefish with red chard and celery root puree 7 nights a week? You do? Then why aren't you living in Ft. Greene? Snapf!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Clarkson Ave Block Association - Startup Planning Meeting Saturday!

Mrs. Clarkson FlatBed and I would like to welcome you to our home this Saturday, May 15 at tea time (4PM) to plan and create a block association for Clarkson between Flatbush and Bedford (Clarkson FlatBed!).

Sometimes small things lead to bigger things. And we recently got $500 from the City to get this thing off the ground! So come join me at 917-822-5346 for all the details, or drop us a comment at the blog .

Even if you're not usually a "joiner," come have some cookies with us.

tim and parker

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Tale of Four Supermarkets

It was the best of limes. It was the worst of limes.

I'm a Park Slope Food Coop member. I'm not proud, I just like good food. But let's face it, even a dude committed to sustainable blah-blah and organic wing-wangs is not always game to schlep his plaid plastic bags on the B41 every time he needs some quinoa. So I shop at the neighborhood grocery stores like everyone else, and there are four (4) within almost the exact same number of steps (between 150 and 400 to be exact. They are:

Don't go to Key Food. Ever. On Flatbush next to the delightful but oh so odd Caton Mall, it stinks like the dried Ackee fish that greets you at the door. In an emergency you could pick up some ice cream, but just know that it may have been thawed and frozen a few times, giving your Hagen Daz a thick layer of freezer burn. The only thing in its favor is the fast checkout, but you'll be lucky if you don't get the hairy eyeball from one of the street people packing bags. I thought one of them was going to follow me down the street after I only tipped him a quarter on a $2 purchase. Yikes!

I have fond feelings for the unnecessarily huge NSA on the corner of Clarkson and Bedford. (by the way I don't have the proper logo, so I just used the National Security Agency's logo for this post...close enough for the internet!). The fish monger is sweet, there's a lovely family-run florist near the front, and the cavernous space makes you feel like you're in a creepy Scottsdale supermarket for a moment (though the not-so-LADY-like-GAGA blasting through the tinny speakers tells a different story). Here's what's kinda neat about NSA. The National Supermarket Association is a NY area based collective started by four Dominicans -- Elijio Peña, Pablo Espinal, Ulzeda Peña, Jose Cruz and Marino Diaz, who felt that underserved neighborhoods deserved a decent grocery too. Obviously they didn't do this out of pure Catholic charity...there's good money to be made in frozen pizza...but their bio shows that they were the only ones besides Met Food who weren't scared of 'hoods like East New York and the South Bronx when crack was more than a plumber's problem.

The Associated is a little TOO eager to cash in on the changing demographic in Northern Parkside (some would say Southern Lefferts Gardens), but I give them a pass because they have an organic section, and Mrs. Clarkson Flatbed makes frequent stops here for staples, like organic applesauce for Little Miss Clarkson Flatbed Jr. It's pretty clean, and I rarely feel worse upon leaving than I did going in.

But after trying them all, many many times, I keep coming back to the Pioneer RIGHT NEXT TO the Q at Parkside. Why? I used to think it was convenience only. But the fact is, I'm strangely drawn to the sense of fun and comradery between the young women at the cash registers. By 8PM on Friday and Saturday night, they're laughing and comparing plans for the evening, and poking fun at the handsome manager Sammy, who seems to actually enjoy his job. Many of the cashiers have been there the whole 7 years I've been living here, and while I'm sure they're paid horribly, they don't seem to dread the work the way other cashiers do in the neighborhood. I suspect Sammy has a lot to do with it...and I love the way they get sassy with the couple of regular dirty old men flirts. I walk out smiling more often than not.

I think we could all do without the blight of the bottle return area. But it just wouldn't be Brooklyn without gritty street scenes like this. Hard not to feel grateful that I have a home, a job and some change in my pocket when I see the 100-year old hunch-backed Asian lady bustin' her ass for a few dollars in beer money. Ouch.

Happy shopping!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Brooklyn's Best Jamaican Beef Patty. There. I said it.

Okay. So we don't have a lot of snooty sammies with roasted red peppers in "Parkside." (that's the name of the neighborhood...get used to it). But hey, if you need to drop $10 for a handcrafted unsatisfying ironically named sandwich on baguette, go to Provisions in Ft. Greene, where all the staff is trendy and the music is Pitchfork approved. If you're not up for that trek, and you've got less than $2 to your name, then stop by Jamaican Pride Bakery on Flatbush btw Parkside and Flatbush. I thought Christie's did 'em right. But this version of the Beef Patty is so juicy, hot and flaky you might need to wash it down with a cold "Ting," the Island stand-in for Mello Yello.

“We use Black Angus beef and fat from the caps of the prime rib,'' said Desmond Patterson, a co-owner. Jamaican Pride's ground beef filling combines plenty of black pepper and Scotch bonnet ??), fresh thyme and allspice (Jamaicans call it pimento), two signature seasonings in Jamaican cooking. It is slightly soupy, like a sloppy Joe. Patties at most New York shops tend to be drier, with the meat pastelike, in the traditional style. (this from the NY Times, so you KNOW it's true.)

If you're carb-loading, be sure to ask for the patty in bread (as in the picture above). Though in my opinion, that's like ordering a hot dog in bun ON rye. As they like to say on Brownstoner: "what do you think?" and "what would you pay?"

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Why no love for the Q at Parkside?

The first thing visitors from other part of NYC see when they come to our home? THE CITY'S SORRIEST EXCUSE FOR A SUBWAY STATION, which practically screams "you're on the other side of the park now, so don't even think about having a pleasant experience with the Q at Parkside." (yeah, yeah, I know. the B stops here too, but that's temporary).

In the 7 years we've lived here, the station agents have claimed change is a comin,' but the walls are still a peelin', the doors are still a broken', the facade is still a crumblin' and occasionally a maintenance crew will come by with a bucket of paint and literally splash it on the walls, leaving it looking more like a crack den than ever. Oh MTA, what have we done to deserve this? How could it be that Prospect Park, just one station away, has been remodeled and refurbished, while we still get to trip on poorly laid orange tape that, I guess, is supposed to prevent us from falling down cracked staircases?

Hey everybody (all TWO of you!) call the number in the station: 718-330-3322 and tell them that we want a subway to call home -- that's right, the Q at Parkside is our "hometrain," and we're tired of feeling like the City's unloved stepchild. When you call, they'll ask you a bunch of questions from a list they have, and G*D only knows whether they actually pass the info on. But if enough of us call, who knows? We called for years about street trees on Clarkson, and then, one day, 18 of them were planted. So who knows?

Love and jerk chicken,
Mr. and Mrs. Clarkson Flatbed

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The sweet smell of success at Parkside & Flatbush

After leaving the Q train at Parkside I head past the Pioneer, the hard working beer- soaked "bottle people," the Yemeni deli, the eyesore squat building and the raucous but friendly crowd in front of 225 Parkside where a woman was critically shot for holding onto her knife longer than the cops are comfortable with. Then it hits me...courtesy of an industrial strength exhaust fan... that pungent wafting odor of mightily fried chicken. You know what I'm talking about. It's intoxicating, yet nauseating, with nice legs and a smoky after-smell. I'll admit I've been suckered, but I've never once been glad I indulged.

Enough with the dimestore poetry - I'll cut to the chase - in fact that amazing car chase in "The French Connection." According to their website, POPEYE'S was named for Gene Hackman's Popeye Doyle in that Oscar winning film, not the spinach-eating he-man of yore. Color me purple! This whole time I've been wondering why they didn't serve leafy greens!

My grade for this Popeye's is a solid C for Consistent, D for Decor, but A+ for olfactory marketing. As they're fond of asking on Brownstoner -- "what do you think?" and "care to share your neighborhood culinary guilty pleasures?

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I'm going to start with the businesses. Because other than the people, nothing else more accurately describes a NYC neighborhood. Soon after we moved here, I discovered that I could live my ENTIRE life never venturing more than a block from my house. Groceries, hardware, knick-knacks, housewares, electronics, pharmacy, notary essence, you could just bury me on my backyard with a headstone "he never left...ever." It wouldn't be an adventurous life, but it would be a life nonetheless.

Are you a Bargain Hunter? Why not try...BARGAIN HUNTERS! SE corner of Flatbush and Clarkson, I dare you to beat their prices...on anything! And I do mean anything...(nice sign by the way guys).

Blog for an unnamed neighborhood

Parkside. That's where I live. Since moving here 7 years ago with my (now) wife, Mrs. Clarkson FlatBed, I've never known quite what to say when y'all ask what neighborhood I live in. When talking to my North Brooklyn brothers and sisters I often say "the other side of the park." But that's like calling an Asian person "Oriental." It depends on your "orientation." And it's way politically incorrect to boot.

Lefferts Gardens? Nah. We're too far south to be part of the K-Dog Nation. I leave it to the excellent Hawthorne Street blog to cover that scene. Lefferts Manor is a gorgeous, tree-crammed hood-within-a-hood just to our north. You can read all about the thrills of gentrification near the Prospect Park stop elsewhere too.

But when I stroll our one-year old daughter up to the Lincoln Road playground I feel like I'm entering a new groove. Can you relate? Do you exclusively go to the Parkside stop and smugly take a seat on the Q or B before the crowd at Prospect Park gets on and straphangs all the way to Manhattan? (unless a pregnant lady boards...of course...goes without saying...w'all get up for a pregnant ladies...never miss a chance to give our seats to a pregnant lady...)

Maybe Flatbush. But Flatbush is HUUUUUGE! Seen it on a map? It would account for nearly half a million people! That's not a neighborhood. That's an Eastern European country.

Not Ditmas Park. Again, if you're a CWEAF (college-white-educated artsy-fart)you can claim an urbane coffee shop (Vox Pop) and a couple fine but over-rated restaurants (Picket Fence, Farm on Adderley). And what's with this "Victorian Flatbush" neighborhood anyway? I think Mary Kay Gallagher came up with that name, and if you don't know who I'm talking about google her. Force of nature that one...

No, I live in Parkside. Bounded arbitrarily by Prospect Park, the Parade Grounds, Caton, Nostrand and, I dunno, Fennimore(?) this bizarre, never-dull rapidly changing staying-the-same African-Caribbean-CWEAF-American neighborhood is what it is. Only the Q at Parkside defines us. And so...I give you THE Q AT PARKSIDE.