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, March 7, 2011

Squatters Lights

205 Parkside may one day be a glorious hotel per Moses Fried, but in the meantime, it's doing quite nicely for at least a half dozen residents. I've counted that many different people coming and going, and from this photo you can see that they're fully electrified. The heat must be working too. On a cold day I saw one of the windows cracked cuz it was too hot, I guess. Hell if they're getting water and electric in there, dollars to donuts they're paying rent as well. I mean, the residents have proper keys for Chrisakes.
Let me be super-duper clear - I don't hold the squatters in any ill regard. They're doing what they gotta do to get by. But as we can all see Moses "Mike" is taking his own sweet time building out his Waldorf-Hysteria. Meanwhile, Parkside Avenue between Ocean and Flatbush remains one of the most defiantly gentrification-proof blocks in all of Brooklyn! Even as the Pioneer slowly stocks more organic and upscale's really quite a hoot.

Maybe it's the McDonalds? Either is as it is.


Anonymous said...

Agree......super gentrification-proof.

Anonymous said...

I was walking past the old hospital on Parkside the other night and there were lights on inside as well. Squatters too? Or is it not completely abandoned? I look to you to investigate.

Anonymous said...

The Pioneer broken glass bottle return isn't helping. I am pleased that our area is very slow moving in regards to gentrification, but the way some of our neighbors treat our streets is sad.

PLOG said...

Great story. I hope you'll interview one of the residents. I've wondered what it looks like inside there.

I do think some people are trying. The owners of Parkside Donut are opening a new pizza place and it does look very nice inside.

Fortunately not everyone in the world is like Moses Fried...

Rudy on Winthrop said...

Dear Q,

I have a proposal! (And maybe PLOG or the folks at Hawthorne Street would be interested, too.)

(1) We announce a contest, with a cash prize, for the best proposal to redesign the streetscape on Parkside between Ocean and Flatbush. Contestants would be invited to submit proposals without limit to scope: Traffic abatement at the two intersections; uses for the sidewalk in front of the Q at Parkside; tree plantings along the blocks, improvements to the business district; a new facade for Pioneer Foods; the redesign of the MTA station ... anything that suits their fancy.

(2) We should pass the hat around the neighborhood, and see if we can put together $500 or so. I'm good for $20. Surely Bob Marvin is good for $20? And I bet J.J.'s Jamaican Restaurant will toss in $20, too. Hell, maybe even the bottle recyclers will toss in $20.

(3) We see if Senator Adams, or Councilman Eugene, or anyone else of such ilk, is interested in being a co-sponsor. (DeGucc? Moses Fried?)

(4) We announce the contest to the students at Parsons, Pratt, Cooper Union, etc.

(5) We give the winner $500, and we publish the winning designs online. (Maybe we have two prizes: best design, and best design that can be implemented for less that $1MM.)

Well, there it is. My proposal.

Anonymous said...

Per the Q @ Parkside: "Let me be super-duper clear - I don't hold the squatters in any ill regard. They're doing what they gotta do to get by. "


I have no love for M. Fried at all, but you want to be so careful not to give "offense" to a "squatter" i.e. person who is living in someone else's building without their permission?

Do you believe in private property at all? Seriously. It's one thing for a marginal character to try to live in someone else's building, and quite another for a supposedly educated person to endorse it.

This City, and country, are in deep trouble if the very notion that what's yours is yours, and mine is mine, is now open to "debate."

Once you start qualifying whether someone has a "right" to use someone else's property, based on a "how much do you really need it?" or 'what's the harm?" analysis, there is no principled objection to anyone, another person, or government, deciding to help themselves to what's yours, only on the rationale that they feel they have something better to do with it.

Incidentally, if you are such a believer in "social justice" and "community" etc etc then what about the fact that squatters put others in jeapardy of fire by unregulated, unlicensed lighting, candles, electrical jerry rigging, etc.

For God's sake lets not be so worried about "offending" someone who takes something that isn't theirs, or who doesn't respect the law, or rules of civilized behavior.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Anon of 9:02.

Sorry if the word "squatter" is throwing you off, but I had no better term at my disposal. Illegal occupants? The people living there have keys, and come and go freely, using the landlords electricity. This suggests an "understanding" is taking place. If anyone is to be held accountable, it's the landlord - who by the way has been working on the building for the better part of a year, and I assure you he knows exactly what's going on there, and is either having the residents provide some sort of service for their keys or is actually taking money from them. Illegally, yes.

Anon, I'm actually glad to have your Rush Limbaugh perspective to mix things up a bit, which you choose to wrap in the American flag like ol' Rush himself, to suggest that using government to try to help people is someone immoral or illegal. As a matter of fact, anything approved by our legislatures and left standing by the courts is perfectly legal and therefore 100% American, whether we like it or not. But I would agree there are times when government programs are incredibly wasteful and ineffective, especially when they have no coherent rationale or policy behind them. Witness the situation I described at 60 Clarkson, which in my mind is government at its worst - lazy, uncaring and counterproductive.

Anonymous said...

To Clarkson Flatbed

I appreciate that you appreciate that most government programs do not work as intended, and typically produce perverse results (See "Law of Unintended Consequences" "Benign Neglect" speech of Moynihan, P. , The Road to Serfdom, Hayek, etc.)

But your intro is a case study in Liberal thought cliches. Let me deconstruct your statement:

"Anon, I'm actually glad to have your Rush Limbaugh perspective to mix things up a bit,"

Classic name-calling. By describing pro-private property ideas that are, in fact, the cornerstone of our political system as "Rush Limbaugh like" you try to place what should be shared, mainstream values as "extreme" or even beyond-the-pale.

By the way, I do find Rush Limbaugh to be an insightful man and make no bones about that. Those who shrink from the invocation of "Rush Limbaugh" are mostly those who've never heard his show, or not more than a heavily edited 5 second spot in an MSNBC hit piece.

Continuing your intro: " which you choose to wrap in the American flag like ol' Rush himself, to suggest that using government to try to help people is someone immoral or illegal. "

Well, if someone can't even accept the notion of private property, and is all bent out of shape that they might insult a squatter (i.e. taker of someone else's property) then a proper, visceral response is that person has no understanding of even the most basic, American values as they've been known since the founding of the Republic.

This is not "choosing to wrap in the flag" so much as recognizing when the entire premise of a position, e.g. we must not "offend" a squatter, has parted company with American civilization.

Your statement that "As a matter of fact, anything approved by our legislatures and left standing by the courts is perfectly legal and therefore 100% American, whether we like it or not.." is truly sad.

This is, of course, a tautology. So, if 51% of Germans elected Hitler (far more did, when he won the 1933 elections) opposition that claimed that he stood counter to 500 years of German and European civilization should simply be told: "He was duly elected, therefore he is as German as anything else?" I realize that the argument ad Hitlerian is overused, but sometimes it fits.

My point is that although some things may well be duly approved by the Legislature, they may nonetheless represent such a departure from traditional values of this country, that people of good sense should properly revile it as such. And so, you can have a law that is deemed "legal" that nonetheless may be held, by right thinking people as unAmerican. To use a closer-to-home example, segregation was "legal" in most of the deep South until relatively recently, and school segregation was upheld as Constitutional pre Brown v. Board of Ed. Would an American who said, say in 1953, that segregation is un-American be out of line? Would it be proper to simply say: Nothing is un American that is duly passed by law? Surely this is a facile point that proves either too much, or nothing at all.

And so, I do feel sometimes that invoking the flag, and core American values is very much the essence of the point.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Enjoying your thoughtful responses immensely. Best to leave Hitler out of it though - it only inflames passions and it is most definitely not an apt comparison. When he was elected, it was quite legal, and truly German in that post WWI devastation. When he subsequently dismantled the state, it was no longer a republic and that's where your argument loses relevance. Perhaps you imagine Obama dismantling the state? That's practically what tea-partiers are saying when they call him a communist. Let's be real...if the voters bump him and the democratic Senate majority out in November, you will see them all nobly stand aside for their duly elected successors. This is not post-war Germany in any way shape or form, so stick to the issue at hand please.

Was segregation American? It most certainly was at the time - both legal and tolerated, much like slavery, and of course needed to be changed - and in many ways it was, legally and through traditionally American means. I would argue that thinking like Rush's would have kept segregation going for much much longer. I find it offensive when bigots like him invoke Brown v Board like they would have been on the correct side of history had the landmark case been brought today. Conservatives see their "tribe" narrowly; liberals see their tribe broadly, and people as ALL people. I've heard and read enough Fox news rants to recognize the code - "hands off ours," where the ours is strictly "those like us." It sickens me, but it too is fully American.

The broader point: Your arguments are rational, Anon. But people are not. When you suggest for instance that the marketplace is simply about buying and selling at a certain price point, you ignore the very real part that racism plays in that transaction, particularly real estate, where prices have been shown to vary greatly depending on what color is the buyer, and the overall makeup of the neighborhood. Redlining is very much happening right now, particularly in the big apartment buildings in PLG, where blacks are not being shown the same apartments as whites, or being lied to that apartments have been already rented. It is this sort of unfairness that government often tries to alleviate, poorly at times I'll grant you. But it's not some sort of anti-capitalist un-American plot. It's a rational, if "liberal," reaction to injustice.

And for that last point, I invoke the flag and core American values that simply disagree with.