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.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

J'Ouvert - Blood, Bath and Beyond

Any post on the ridiculous weekend violence is bound to understate just how horrific was the carnage. A stabbing at Bedford and Rutland provided the exclamation point. This Daily News piece does a nice job of summarizing a very '80's weekend:

Daily News Piece

And please don't miss Hawthorne Street's update on K-Dog's closing. There's some nuance here, and the plea for emails in support of the beloved coffee shop begs your attendtion:

Hawthorne Street on K-Dog

The fact that rumors abound of a La Bagel Delight opening in its stead shouldn't upstage what is clearly a difficult and sad time for an intrepid entrepreneur on the once forsaken Lincoln Road. I would think there would be plenty of open retail space for everyone, including longtime employee Billy, provided landlords see the longterm use in renting to community-minded business people. There's always been something strange and illogical about the retail around here, and I suspect, as with many of the problems on Flatbush, the root of the issue rests with the property owners - many of whom couldn't care less about the people who live and work here.

On a brighter note...ah heck, there aren't any bright notes today. Time to roll up our sleeves I guess...

20 comments:

babs said...

It seems like we are returning to the days of yore as far as Labor Day violence is concerned. When I first moved to this neighborhood seven years ago, I was warned by long-term residents to stay far away from the "festivities," or better yet to get out of town for the weekend (many of them did, and still do). The last few years have been a blessed respite from the violence and killings that took place in previous years. All the more reason for PLG residents to turn out in force at the next 71st Precinct Community Council meeting (and subsequent ones - we have to keep the pressure on).

You can also see my response to Hawthorne St's post on that site. Quite frankly, a lot has been said by a lot of people with no knowledge of all the facts in this situation and it is infuriating to me. And the Billy who wants to take over K-Dog's spot is the great guy who has worked there for years (and still does), not Billy Clark of The Blue Roost.

babs said...

And please note that the owner of the building housing K-Dog, Enduro, Lincoln Park Tavern, and Papa & Sons was until recently a neighborhood resident (and still owns a home here) and cares very much about this community, looking specifically to rent to community-minded businesses (and sacrificing financially to do so, I might add). To lump her in with the absentee slumlords owning most of the retail on Flatbush is wrong and unjust.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Babs: Thanks for correcting...I thought that was a different Billy but was lazily copying misinformation from elsewhere.

But I didn't lump the owner of the K-Dog building in with the others; you made that inference. My point was about OTHER locations, not that stretch of Lincoln Road. Frankly I have no beef with a person I've never met, nor do I know the details of the situation. I'm only passing on what I DO know, which is admittedly little. Thanks as always, though, for keeping us honest. - tim

babs said...

Actually, I was more referring to what previous commenters have said, as well as what's been said on Hawthorne St. (that's a pretty inflammatory post, if you ask me, with little to no fact checking), and dreading what new onslaughts they will unleash. As a negotiating tactic, for Gabby as well as for Billy, this is definitely not the way to go. Defaming one's negotiating partner (or allowing others to do so) is not the best strategy.

Alexis said...

I have to cut the cacophony of universal K-Dog acclaim. I get that K-Dog is important to *a certain segment* of the PLG community but I hope and expect that some other entrepreneur will see the opportunity available in PLG and will open up a coffee shop. While the coffee shop was no doubt a beacon for some urban pioneer types, it wasn't a place where the entire community came together so much as a retreat for some people away from others. And that's fine but a mythology has sprung up that K-Dog was doing PLG some sort of favor simply by operating a for-profit business. Yes, we are bereft of food choices in PLG but the level of sycophancy and hand-wringing that has emerged since rumors that K-Dog is closing is a bit much.

Clarkson FlatBed a/k/a Tim said...

Great points! (sorry, I consider it bad form to comment on one's own blog, but I'm not enjoying being back at work). Perhaps you've seen my earlier points on the significance of the bourgeois coffee shop that echo your thoughts? I'm too much of a wuss to rain on someone's swan song...

It may be that places like K help to seal people off from each others, rather than bring them together. However, having had the chance to do community-minded neighborhood meetings at a number of locales, I'd take the Dog over ICH or Blue Roost or Da Hot Pot or Melany's any day. Actually, Melany's is a pretty good meetup spot, and the Rice and Black Beans superb. The sweet plaintains are too soggy, though; one could imagine eating backyard slugs while holding one's nose.

I'll save my tears for the day De Bamboo Express closes. Love that Jerk Lo Mein!! They may have lost the battle with the Department of Health, but they won the way to my stomach!

carrie said...

I'm sorry, but the idea that someone who likes K-Dog must be a racist is absurd.

Sure, those of us who have happily patronized the place for years have only positive things to say about it publicly, but that doesn't mean there aren't a few things that we wouldn't want to see changed.

Brenda from Flatbush said...

Wow, all these people die and you guys are obsessing over whether the coffee shop deserves to die for being too white. If we ever get a coffee shop over here in Caton Park, will we become similarly deranged?

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly Brenda. The violence this weekend seems to me really not much up from the norm in the city as a whole. People are shot or murdered every day in this city. It just so happened to get highlighted against the backdrop of the parade this weekend. That said, it was bad and not a good sign on top of the already uptick in shootings in our area. I was reading on the train today - "The wonder is always and always how there can be a mean man or an infidel" Whitman

tim said...

Why did Carrie and Brenda mention race? I see no reference to a white/black thing anywhere. I think the only problem was that the post had two subjects, unrelated. I goofed.

I'm pretty sure Alexis was talking about a class thing, not a race thing. Am I right? Or are they the same thing around here? In neighborhoods as dense as ours, I do think people separate and define themselves by their consumer choices. Mac and Apple products, coffee shops, good bagels, nice bistros, coop schools over daycare. It's a way of identifying with the broader DIY/Indie/Bourgeie/NY Times culture, and maybe a little distancing from the riff raff as well. But so what? That's part of diversity too.

What really concerns me is that everyone's sniping at each other.There's a civil conversation to be had; here, and in the country as a whole. With some gallows humor along the way. Maybe y'all are shell-shocked, what with summer being over and the Wild Wild West Indian Day Parade?

Anonymous said...

here is a pic of what i was doing this weekend. it's a book and toy shelf for my daughter who is about to turn two. It was one of several projects I took care of this weekend. Instead of spending my three days off partying, dodging bullets, buying lattes or blogging with my *community* i was working hard on moving me and my family's life forward.
My family doesn't have enough $$ to eat at K-Dog which is no big deal. I'd rather grab a couple of doubles from De Hot Pot (which is about half what an espresso drink costs most places). I wonder how many folks here would be up in arms if they heard DHP was closing. They are as much a catalyst for the community as KD&D.
This whole convo smacks of classism and elitism. I'm sure there are those who will read this and have a kneejerk reaction ('not me!') but it's true. We all have our hang ups and they all are pretty obvious after we open our mouths. Can you guess what some of mine are by now?
I feel it is best to focus on self reliance, ingenuity and integrity. I also feel that our world (on whatever relevant scale you take that to mean) is a very complicated place and that individuals can only complicate it more by spending their time trying to convince others that their opinion(s) are more important than they actually are.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6081/6122073667_b79f4a6fbb_m.jpg

babs said...

One other value that no-one has really mentioned here is that of K-Dog (and the coffee shop in general) as a small business incubator. Many of us work for ourselves, or a trying to do so, and I've witnessed many business meetings, pitches, call them what you will happening there (and been part of several myself). As Tim mentioned, K-Dog is also the ideal place for community meetings - a low-pressure place where people can hang out for a stretch and just talk. There really isn't another place like it in the neighborhood. I also second the recommendation of De Bamboo - but they call Lo Mein Chow Mein and vice-versa (this seems to be because what we know as lo mein noodles in NY Chinese restaurants are called chow mein noodles in Jamaica (as seen in my local grocery store, Tony's Meat Market on Nostrand, which carries the same). Whatever - it's great!

babs said...

And yes, maybe talking about the neighborhood coffee shop seems elitist to some people, but to take your point further, to others discussing your indoor plumbing, running water, and regular meals (Hot Pot or elsewhere) would seem the same. And I don't think anyone here believes that the world will end without K-Dog or anything like that. Congratulations on your daughter's toy shelf though - I hope she's thrilled and knows that she's a very lucky girl compared to many, many other people in the world.

Brenda from Flatbush said...

And by the way, I LOVE K-Dog and have seen all sorts of folks in there and will mourn its demise. I just wonder at how hard-wired our hot buttons are, even in the midst of some pretty serious carnage. Hypothesis: The coffee shop feels more relevant because most of us, not being street thugs ourselves, still feel pretty insulated from thug-on-thug gun violence. The lady just killed by a bullet on her stoop may have felt the same way, although her relatives report she, too, was fearful of violence around parade time each year.

babs said...

Brenda, my theory on that point is nearly the opposite: with the constant threat of gun violence all around us, and the fact that many of us feel powerless to stop it, it's a welcome, if escapist, relief to talk about a coffee shop. Additionally, there may be the feeling that we do have some power to change the course of events here, while getting guns off our streets seems a nearly-impossible task.

Anonymous said...

clarkson: self censorship is still censorship.

Daniel said...

I saw the retracted comment....
It was a funny and pointed little nugget.
As for its retraction, it is a noble act of peacemaking and a good example for a neighborhood where minor grievances have been known to irrationality escalate into violent incidents.

eggs! said...

Hey that's just like...your opinion, man...

Clarkson FlatBed said...

EGGGGGGSSSSSSS! Thought it was you...

Well put. Your opinion, my opinion. That's all it is. Together, we make what's called a conversation. Sometimes, it's not a very good conversation. But opinions make the world move forward, when followed by action. Otherwise, it's just a lot of ones and zeros.

Alexis said...

Hey Tim--

I don't think it's bad form to comment on one's own blog when the blog has a strong editorial perspective so go don't hold back.

Yes, why *did* Carrie and Brenda mention race when no one else did?
Thou dost protest too much.

Tim, you said you were pretty sure I was talking about class when I said that K-Dog was important to a certain segment of the community but I wasn't particularly speaking of class so much as a certain consumer. Check out the largely dismal Yelp reviews for the coffee shop and you will see that many patrons both disliked the coffee and baked goods and found the shop to be unwelcoming, with a cliquish atmosphere. Yes, the local bloggerverse may mourn K-Dog's passing but its poor online reviews suggest that its offerings only spoke to a narrow swath of people.
Are those people disproportionately white and well-off? Probably, but that wasn't my point in the least. (Carrie and Brenda can be assured that when I want to talk about race, I won't speak in code.)

My point was that K-Dog has a simple business model and is easily replaceable. My point was that it was better in theory than in actuality for a lot of people (Again on Yelp, see the numbers of people who were excited about it when the decided to move into the neighborhood but then were disappointed by it once they were actually here; hence 'urban pioneers'.) My point was that a lot of neighbors don't. like. that. coffee. shop. and are hopeful that it will be eventually replaced with something a lot better. Articulating that many people dislike a coffee shop is not a racially loaded perspective and it's pretty galling that someone would try to characterize it as such.

Agreed that "people separate and define themselves by their consumer choices" and "that's part of diversity too". I only object to the mischaracterization of a small local business as the death of some sort of neighborhood institution when it's a capitalist business enterprise, not a free space or a charity. The places to which there is no barrier to entry or provide universal necessities are the public spaces that shape our *entire* community. That isn't K-Dog. Miss it if you wish, but just have some perspective.