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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Last Night At the Clubhouse

About 35 people turned out last night for a Crime Forum meeting at "the Clubhouse," as I like to call Senator Adams' office on Flatbush. He really does put himself out there...I'm impressed by the cut of his jib, and he held court admirably. The Police Captain (not Inspector Simonetti...who was that guy? a little help? handsome, with a deep Morgan Freeman lilt and a bit of Caribbean accent?) was impressively well-informed about the minutiae of the 'hood, and despite some testy questions from the gatherers, it was largely an informative and fruitful meeting.

That's the good news. The simple truth is there's not much being done to address longstanding issues folks have with the "hot spots" in the neighborhood. The answers - not enough manpower, no money for cameras, can't do nothing about low-level dealing, insufficient 911 and 311 calls to warrant more resources, not enough people talking to the cops - we've definitely been here before. Every one of us living in North Flatbush, has stories to tell of drug deals, violence and shifty characters at suspicious locations. So is this best we can expect, living in the Big City? Of course not. There's much to be done, without inflaming tensions or appearing shrill and entitled. In fact, I think we're all entitled to a safe, clean "main street," and I doubt the law-abiding among us would disagree.

And I'm also convinced that the core of the problem (not the one about poverty and lack of opportunity for young black men - I couldn't begin to address that in a blog post, though I guess I just did) is the indifference of landlords to the Quality of Life in and around their buildings and businesses. Heck, that infamous corner of Maple and Flatbush? An actual person owns the building - Abe Green - and he needs a swift kick in the groin, because he and countless other building owners seem to give a rat's ass about their properties. One would think, though one would be wrong in our case, that rising house prices and incomes would motivate them to spruce up their properties and hold their leasees accountable for the crime and loitering in front of those properties. Such is, and perhaps has been for decades, the great irony of PLG/Flatbush.

Gino from Gino's (what are the chances?) has been here 26 years, and while he's seen VAST improvements through the years, he said if there were more NYPD security cameras in the neighborhood "we wouldn't be sitting here tonight." Cameras seemed to be a favorite topic of many, though the cost (according to the cops in attendance) is exorbitant. Many wondered how this could be so. After all, the cameras aren't there so much to prevent crime, since there isn't the manpower to watch them live; they're intended to scare people off by their mere presence AND to be viewed AFTER a crime has taken place as evidence. Apparently they keep the tapes for 30 days (though in the digital age, I'd think six months or a year would be cool). When I was a younger man, such Big Brother tactics would have gotten my ire up. Now, I just kinda shrug at the thought of cameras watching my every boring move. The quoted $43k price-tag sounds like it needs a fact-checker to me. Perhaps that's a total investment over a few years, because I'm pretty sure that B&H can run circles around that price for the equipment itself.

Besides discussing the PERCEPTION that crime is up in Sector Charlie, we learned that there is, in fact, something called Sector Charlie, and apparently we live in it. The cops gave us a primer on how they allocate resources, and the southwestern part of the 71st is one of five (or 10 according to Adams) sectors. Charlie is military-speak for letter "c" I guess. Anyhoo, here we are in Charlie, a supposedly lower-crime area of the precinct compared to near Kings County or deep in the Heights of Crown (or Wingate anyone? What the hell is Wingate? Do people actually claim to live there? And when are they going to go back to the livelier name Pigtown? Don't tell me that name would drive away buyers and renters - just look at prices over in Hell's Kitchen.)

Other semi-interesting developments at the meeting:

Josh Greenberg of the nascent PLGNA Safety Task Force reported on said TFs activities. If you want to get more involved, just email More can be found at

A neighbor-woman, whom I'll call Madame since I didn't catch her name, pointed out that the men in blue are viewed with suspicion by many, including, it would seem, Madame herself, who had a crappy run in with the police after she scuttled a stabbing attempt by scaring off the would-be killer by grabbing her hair, which came off into her hands, leaving Madame in the possession of the hirsute wad and the weapon itself, only to be told by the detectives that there was no need for such evidence, as the victim was not talking or willing to press the proverbial charges. We all sat breathless after the telling of her story, though in my case it might have been the Jamaican Beef Patty I'd scarfed down just before entering the "Clubhouse." By the way, the owner of Golden Crust was there, and I meant to say hello, but missed the chance.

Ben Edwards, president of the Lefferts Manor Association, encouraged us to join a Civilian Patrol. He and others have mentioned to me that after nearly a dozen people "signed up" after the July crime meeting, not a single one has followed-through. I'll admit I'm pretty excited to drive around in a cop-car myself, but I can see that some might not want the attention. But you know what? It's the best dang idea out there I've heard, so if we're serious, we need to put our bodies where our mouths are. Most people won't recognize you through the car's glass, if they even notice the civilian cop car at all,and even if they did, is it so bad to have the rep of being part of the cops? The Orthodox have their Shomrim, and as my Aunt Patty O'Donnell used to say, if it's good enough for the Jews...

Or we could try a hair-brained idea I came up with just now: we could secede from the 71st and join a less-criminal precinct, so that WE'D be the sector with all the attention. Look out 78th! The East gonna rise again!

Last, but certainly not least, came Eric Adams' call to arms, which involved no less than the creation of a Q of L WAR ROOM, complete with pictures of problem areas, a map (hopefully with push-pins) and a rotating cast of committed community members to engage in all-out battle with the forces of trash, drugs, gangs, graffiti, and poor spelling. I'm with the Senator on this one, but it certainly sounded daunting last night.

Maybe we could just buy the thugs a nice Gino's three-course dinner (w/wine) in exchange for their cross-their-heart-hope-to-die promise to behave?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Crime Meeting Switched to Tomorrow (Tues) Night, 7PM

Hopefully the Hurricane didn't kill the urge to meet up about crime and safety. From Senator Adams:
Hello All,

Please be advised that I had to reschedule the Saturday morning meeting because I and several other elected officials and the NYPD are preparing for the storm and hurricane. The new meeting date will be on Tuesday, August 30, 2011, at 7pm, at my district office, 572 Flatbush Avenue. If you know of other community residents who were planning to attend the Saturday meeting, please inform them of the same. Thank you.


Senator Eric Adams

Quality of Life Squad for the 71st Precinct: Really? For Whom?

Flatbush Avenue, Parkside to Empire, is one sorry thoroughfare. If the garbage, drugs, speeding dollar-vans, crime and vacant businesses weren't enough to make you yearn for the 1970's, word on the street and via Black Star News says Jimmy Findley, longtime barber and owner of Diamond Cuts Barber Shop on Rutland, got his arm broke by the Quality of Life Squad of the 71st.
Black Star News alleges he suffered retribution for complaining about harassment by members of the QoL Squad. Here's the whole story via Milton Allamadi's muckraking zine: BSN STORY.

Lest you think BSN is just blowing off steam, Jimmy has been dealing the same story to reliable folks in the neighborhood as well. I'll look for comment from the NYPD, but I'm guessing they're response will not be "We're so very, very sorry to have overreacted with Jimmy. Sometimes when we cuff a guy we get a little rough; it's all the coffee, don't you know? We got him confused with this other guy, despite the fact we've seen Jimmy pretty much every day we've ever walked down the block. We're promising, in the future, to only bend citizens' arms at the elbows IN THE MANNER in which God intended."

I'm pretty new at this whole Safety/Sanitation thing, but has anyone even HEARD of the Quality of Life Squad? If it exists, I'd love to talk to them. I'll bet you would too. See you at the next 71st Precinct Community Council meeting, third Thursday of September! (and every month).

And hey, Jimmy. Feel better soon.

Kris Gounden gets the photo credit.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wham Bam, Thank You, Ma'am

Frankly, it coulda been a lot lot worse. Imagine if, at its peak, the wind speed were half-again greater? Because even this not-quite-a-hurricane managed the following scenes, taken around noon, during a post-Irene bikeride:

That second picture is the tree-tastrophy near the Drummer's Grove,on our fair side of the park. Given that the wind seems to have INTENSIFIED (it's now 3:30 PM), I expect many more downed 50+ year-old beauties. I find it so sad to see a mammoth tree felled by the violent and capricious pageantry of Madame Nature. Senator Seasons: "You Have Done Enough. Have You No Sense Of Decency?"

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Where to Dine Between Shootings

Yesterday, two more shootings reported: one at Original Struggs at 675 Flatbush (early eve), the other a doozy at 60 Clarkson (well after midnight). I'm too tired of talking about the Guns of August to track down the details. Feel free to post what you know...

If you're in the mood for some of Parkside Ave's "People's Choice" rice and peas or ackee fish, there are two reasons not to bother. One, it's closed, with the most peculiar of signs:

Refrigeration Technicalities is shorthand might as well be dining in a Port-o-Potty. The place was shut down for no less than 80 violation points, including:

1) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) Insufficient or no refrigerated or hot holding equipment to keep potentially hazardous foods at required temperatures.
5) Personal cleanliness inadequate. Outer garment soiled with possible contaminant. Effective hair restraint not worn in an area where food is prepared.
6) Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
7) Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.

This from the NYC Dept of Health's amazingly useful Restaurant Guide. It's the Zagat's of filth. The graphics need a facelift, but hey, it's a City agency...

It's a shame really. Parkside's Restaurant Row centered on the deliciousity of People's Choice, once known as Exquisite, which, ironically, won Best Jerk Chicken according to a certain Dan McLeod (I know, I know, the one on Church). One thing I'm sure I'll miss...dining al fresco outside Exquisite while peering up at this gestapo-inspired prison wire atop the Duane Reade:

By the way, I have it on good authority that this sort of barbed wire is now illegal in the City. I guess because so good at keeping people in or out? Not sure the thinking there...I'll look it up between shootings.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In Search of Unity

Last Thursday, a meeting took place on the other side of Nostrand, at St. Gabriel's church. The poster, which I only saw the day before and hadn't time to post here, looked like this:
What's striking about that meeting, to me, is that it took place on nearly the same street (Hawthorne) but two avenues over from the PLGNA crime meeting on July 14. (that meeting happened on Bedford, at the Church of the Evangel). Different organizers clearly saw the need for action, yet the call to arms produced two very separate scenes. There were some members in common, but not as many as you'd suspect. Which begs the question...

Are we one, or are we two? or three, or four?

I've always thought of NYC neighborhoods as organized more by public transportation than anything else. If you live on Nostrand or New York Ave, you might well consider the 2/5 your hometrain, and the businesses of Nostrand would likely serve as your "downtown." So I'm not terribly surprised to see community organizers focusing locally, near trains and shops. And we're not the only ones who micro-organize the 'hood. In speaking with a reporter from a big City rag, I found out that the police break down their precincts and crime statistics into "sectors." The PLG sector of the 71st, one of five, has less crime than others, and that's perhaps why we see less police presence. I say "perhaps," because at one Precinct Council meeting I attended, some Crown Heights folks were saying the exact same thing! More accurate, maybe, is the fact that everyone is demanding more foot patrol, and there's only so many feet to go around.

Here's one thing I know: a cohesive and effective response to the presence of guns, drugs and violence is going to mean working as one. The bad guys don't give a damn about demographics - they'll just move from one area of the 'hood to the next. That's why it's important to consider the Community Board and Precinct holistically, in my view. Plus, not everyone responds to the same sorts of outreach. Email and listserve may be good for some; church groups, tabling and handouts for others. Posters are always cool, though you might want to consider taking them down after the event. Or Carmen might nail you! (see article on her in the Echo).

Which reminds me, the new Lefferts Manor Echo issue is out! A "story" on the PLGNA crime meeting, which is frankly more an op-ed than fact, was penned by long-timer Milford Prewitt...but it's well worth reading and some points are spot on. Lefferts Manor Echo.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

No Need To Worry...It's All In Your Heads

Spent some time tracking down the "real" story of the Shootout at the PLG Corral. Turns out there was no Maserati, and I'm frankly bummed about it. It added a lot of sex appeal. So the cops are saying it was just a routine dispute in the sneaker store, perhaps more mischief from the Adidas vs. Nike gangs. State Senator Eric Adams was kind enough to set up a meeting for this Saturday at his office on Flatbush at 10AM. Come by and let him, and all of us, know your thoughts about crime, or rather "perceived" crime, in the neighborhood. It never hurts to have a big public showing of concern, no matter what your concerns. For instance, I'm concerned about what to wear to a community meeting of this sort, on a Saturday no less, but I'm likely to keep those concerns to myself.

Apparently, a dispute got out of hand. No reason to be alarmed, though. Shootings may be UP in our "sector" of the precinct, murder and rape are UP, but there's apparently nothing to be UPset about. It's all under control. The fact that you never see beat cops doesn't mean they're not there, staking the drug joints and cuffing bad guys. It's all in your heads, folks! Nothing to see here, so why don't you just move along...And if you've called 911 and no one's responded, well, you must have been blow-drying your hair or something, because they stopped by and no one answered the doorbell. Also, those of you who witnessed the shooting and spoke to the detectives, apparently you didn't do so, as apparently no one would talk to the police. Well, no one worth noting anyhow.

In other news, Councilman Eugene responded to news of the shooting by issuing this press release:


Today’s 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Virginia was a scary and traumatic experience. Wherever you were at the time of the earthquake, I hope you managed to stay safe and that no damage was caused to your home or business. This was a very unusual circumstance and I thank God that no significant damage or major injuries have so far been reported.

I hope you take this opportunity to reflect on how grateful we are for our lives and, while witnessing such incidents, how close we are to each other as people. I ask that we come together as a community to pray for all who may be affected by the earthquake, especially those who live near the epicenter in Virginia.

In all seriousness, I hope to see you Saturday, Working together means meeting together, and I look forward to meeting you all.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

An Open Call To Our Elected Leaders and Civil Servants

If you thought drive-by shootings were a tune from the past, apparently an oldie-but-goody hit the airwaves last night. Sprayed gunfire from (allegedly) a Maserati on Flatbush near Maple. PLOG's got a picture of the bullet holes to prove it.

This corner has been much talked-about, and many of us have complained to the cops. General complaints don't usually get taken seriously, though. Call in a "thugs loitering" complaint and cops will blow it off. Say "there's drugs being dealt at..." and you'll get a shrug. Maybe a patrol car will slowly drive by. But now, ladies and gentlemen, we have something very, very specific to note. It's no longer too "general."

Six short weeks ago, Eric Adams issued a response to our neighborhood concerning what he felt was shrill and ineffective nagging coming from the internets. His well-written, though dismissive, plea sounded a simple refrain - I can't do it alone, we ALL need to be vigilant and contructive in combating crime - All well and good. Neighbors have started to create grassroots task forces, both in PLG and around the Parade Grounds, and have tried to build consensus and get the word out about crime prevention tactics. But remember, we're novices. We're not elected. And we don't get paid to chase bad guys.

Now, please, Senator, Councilman, Assemblyman, Precinct Commander...CALL FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES IF YOU MUST. BUT PUT SOME GODDAMN UNIFORMS ON THE GROUND. NOW.

We're not (all) a bunch of namby pamby yuppies who can't handle a street scene. We live in Brooklyn for chrisakes, and we know what that entails. If we were generally afraid of, say, loitering, we wouldn't be living in Upper East Flatbush. Most of us know the difference between a bunch of friends chilling and talking trash, and the kind of action that leads to violence. Drugs. Guns. Intimidation. Specific toughs "hanging out" with no day job but plenty of purpose. Long time residents and newbies alike can tell a drug corner when we see it. And Flatbush at Maple was a clear front-runner for worst corner, and now, just steps from the Senator's office, we see bullet holes from what could easily have been the worst night by far in the life of some unlucky parent.

Not to pick on you Senator Adams, but your words of just a few weeks ago ring hollow now. You said:

As a point of information, my office has met on several occasions with the 71st
Precinct concerning several alleged drug locations on Flatbush Avenue, some of
which are located near our district office. Due to the sensitivity of the
issue, there is little information that we can reveal to you at this time, but
we can assure you that positive steps are being initiated to address the issue.

Additionally, as you may be aware, we are pleased to inform you that subsequent
to our meeting, one major location, which was housed in an apartment building on
Beekman Place, has been shut down. There are others on the radar of the
Precinct and we have received every assurance that actions are being taken.

I got a 'craaaaazy" idea that just might work: Try putting a couple of friggin' cops on the corner day and night until the dealers get a hint. Try a sting and shut down any businesses on Flatbush that have dealings with dealers. How about two beat or undercover cops strolling up and down Flatbush? Any fool can see the street needs your help...Senator, Councilman, Assemblyman, Inspector. We'll be happy to help in any way we can...I mean, you should keep at us, tell us we're not reporting crime nearly enough, that we're not organizing, or being vigilant, or "working together with you." But in the meantime, take some common sense and elbow grease and do something...and next time, if we get all "shrill" on the internets, or on the phone, or at neighborhood meetings.,.why not take us seriously for a change?

UPDATE: See Senator Adams Comment. The cops have a different version of the story. So I guess it was just guys arguing over sneakers! Whew...that's a relief! Regardless of the "motive," toughs with guns felt emboldened to hold a shootout at a Flatbush store. I frankly doubt that there wasn't some "backstory" involved. Whether you call it "gangs" or "drugs" makes no difference to me. It's the attitude that ours is lawless neighborhood that worries me. But I AM gonna have a hard time letting go of the Maserati angle...

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Dawning of the Age of Caledonia

Ear-tickling scuttlebutt on the new apartment complex at the ol' Caledonian Hospital (now rounded down to 100 Parkside Avenue):

Along with the doggie spa, architect Karl Fischer says the property will include a screening room, a basketball court, and other high-end amenities. “[The developers] realize the neighborhood is up-and-coming, so the have to provide a lot more than a nice building,” said Fischer.

This classy quote brought to you by D.S. MacLeod, self-anointed "greatest journalist ever" and the very dude who ate all that jerk chicken awhiles back. The quote and fuller article must be coming out somewhere, since he's a reporter who writes for actual newspapers. Dan, you out there? What under-paying rag gets the scoop?

Thanks to Ben, part of the crime-fighting Parade Grounds Posse, for passing on the latest. For old times sake, here's a pic of the glossy that led to the Chetrit Group's purchase of the old hospital in the first place:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Workmen of August

Today on my way to work, I noticed two projects moving forward with gusto. Projecto Uno is the City's initiative to fix busted-up sidewalks, right here in Flatbush Heights (holy cow...that one could STICK! a cross between the 'Bush and Crown Heights! I'm in Pigtown heaven!)
If the City has threatened you with fixing the street FOR you (homeowners and landlords are required to keep sidewalks safe), you should take their threat very seriously. Our area is being jack hammered like crazy right now. More compelling, perhaps, is the below shot of either a) a suicidal squatter or b) a worker on my favorite neighborhood eyesore, 205 Parkside. I'm betting b), if only because the dude in the picture gave me a big smile when he saw me popping this picture. Cheese!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

This, and My Co-Pay is Now $50 a Pop With a $2,000 Annual Hospital Deductible?

Okay, so this story may be a bit farther afield from the Q train than most. But hey, hop the B12 across from the Parkside Q and you'll be in East Flatbush in a Flashbut. And being a proud resident of Clarkson Avenue, I've been known to make an appearance at Kings County or SUNY Downstate Hospitals...they really are our neighbors, even if you're the type who looks down your nose at Brooklyn medical centers. Not for nothin', my years in NYC have told me no trip to the emergency room is a cakewalk, and different hospitals are better at different things. Plus, in an emergency, close is better than far. Was a time we could have STROLLED to the Emergency Room at Caledonian Hospital, even after suffering all manner of debilitating conditions. Take my advice and go with the ER at Downstate. It's clean, and nowhere near the chaos of Kings County. Methodist has always been a thorn in my side, but to each his own.

Speaking of disappearing Christian sects, there's the whole outdated "religious" affiliation thing. The hospital in Park Slope is "Methodist?" Funny, I didn't see any Methodists there at all; though they don't tend to be as conspicuous as say, Orthodox Jews or Amway Reps.

Well here's something you oughta know. Over on the OTHER side of Kings County's ginormous renovated campus is another hospital - Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, and it resides in the Q's very own Community Board district 9. Now that I'm Mr. CB, I gotta know these things. Anyhoo, this hospital used to be all about the Jews, and being culturally attuned to their specific needs, but it's changed with the times and done what most hospitals in poorer neighborhoods do to survive - they've made Medicare reimbursements a key part of their livelihood. Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. Except...

Their CEO made $4 million this year. Here's her $4 million mug shot:
So no, she's not getting the big bucks for her rare beauty. But what exactly IS she getting those big bucks for?

Turns out Kingsbrook has been downsizing, laying people off, shutting down wings...while the CEO pockets a ridiculous bevy of bonuses. The two are related, I'm sure. Boards of Trustees often reward top managers for doing the dirty work in times of trouble. But dang...$4 million? In this economy? At a hospital most people in Brooklyn have never even heard of? FULL STORY.

I'm no tea partier, mind you. But that story makes me wanna dump some PG Tips into the Gowanus, tout de suite.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Old Grind - The Place of the Hip Coffee Joint in America

A few years back, a humble coffee and sammich shoppe opened on beleagured Lincoln Road on the "forgotten" side of Prospect Park. The whole semi-uninteresting story of its arrival in Flatbush's NE corner (sometimes referred to as PLG or "the Leff") is documented on the long-defunct but always google-able Across the Park blog. Checkout the whole saga here: here...ATP (not All Tomorrow's Parties, for those of you who just smugly smiled at the acronym because you're so cool you were there when My Bloody Valentine played Loveless in its entirety but no one really enjoyed it because it was ear-splittingly loud and aurally unintelligible, hiding the bands only real drawback - it's lack of skill, hardly a problem on record, but apparently quite obvious live) was wild about K-Dog, as were many folks of a certain pedigree. Not everyone was thrilled, but suffice to say K-D & D-B made a lasting impact on the neighborhood. And regardless if Gaby et al stay, go, move or take a well-deserved break, the meaning of K-Dog will forever transfix this blogger. For you see, it wasn't always thus...

Long before I ended up being a middle-aged man in the Leff, I was a young man in Brooklyn, making my way as a musician and non-profit arts guy. I went to work 9-5 at the Brooklyn Museum, rocked in the evenings, and partied whenever it seemed reasonable to do so. My life was fairly simple, and the trajectory of my life well-trodden by other non-natives looking for adventure. I didn't care TWO SQUATS about things like "amenities" in my neighborhood. Oh, a local bar was nice, sure. But who had money for drinking in bars? Paper bags around 40s were the coin of the realm, but if one did have a favorite bar, it was no biggie to hop on the train and make it your destination for the night. Really...I knew lots of pre-kids folks and I don't recall anyone ever having a fit about whether or not a decent bistro or espresso bar or tapas place or boutique or gallery or wine bar was about. Yes, yes, we knew they had them in the West Village or SoHo or maybe the UWS/UES or someplace, and we would manage to locate them if we needed them. THE WHOLE POINT back then was finding cheap digs. And this meant going to neighborhoods where the people didn't necessarily come from the same background we did. They might be old world Italian-or-Irish-American (south Slope, Carroll Gardens) Polish (Greenpoint) black (Prospect Heights, Bed-Stuy) orthodox (Borough Park, parts of Crown Heights), even Buppie (I remember the term being bandied about in regards to Ft. Greene) Latino (Sunset Park, Bushwick)...some even braved Coney Island or Brighton Beach, but after a winter or two they moved back inland. I guess we were "pioneers," but only as much as anyone looking for cheap rent can be called a pioneer. Bargain Space (as much as possible) was what we were after, and maybe a place to rehearse the band or paint or sculpt or, (now here's the dirty little secret about "artist's" lofts) throw outlandish parties that would make a fire chief blush.

I know, I know, your eyes are rolling "that was then, get over it." I'm actually not being sentimental so much as wondering when it became so important that a neighborhood have Zagat's-approved cache. I started to notice it during the big tech run-up, when money was flying around town like ticker-tape after the moon landing. Smith street went from dump to dynamo in a few short years, and pretty soon everyone with a chef's hat and an investor (there were lots of them) was opening a semi-sophisticated yet informal eatery, and you could no longer get an entree for under $10. And people started using words like "pinot" and "merlot" and "zinfandel" when red, white and rose used to suffice. And rents began to rise like a teenage putz at the pool. Oh, and did I mention that people started to WANT to live in Brooklyn? Not just for the Bargain Space, but because they actually thought it was cool. Seemed strange to me, but what the hell I had a big, bad "Bargain Space" near the Gowanus, and I was on the road half the year anyway.

Which brings me to my point...such as it is. Even though most bistro-eaters have all-you-can-eat Metrocards or cars, or both, they STILL insist on having a drop-in baked-goods/wi-fi/latte place within spitting distance. Without a, local hotspot to brag about, I guess one's neighborhood is just another not-yet-there place that would-be business owners don't see as hip, trendy, or up-and-coming enough to risk their life's savings on. In fact, I think what K-Dog's opening did was to suggest that PLG might actually finally join the brotherhood of "hot" neighborhoods. Fact is, PLG/Flatbush/Lefferts was always way cooler than most neighborhoods, by sheer fact of his unique diversity, reasonable prices and proximity to the park. Even an Iowan rube like myself could see that some 22 years ago when I first set foot on the other side of Empire. Okay, at first it was just to sneak a meal at Wendy's over my lunch-hour from the Museum by walking through the Garden (a little communing with nature followed by a most unnatural of meals followed by another 15-minute hike through Botanic splendor,purging me of my guilt).

I hope K-Dog sticks around or finds a new home. And I hope new businesses of all sorts fill the vacant store-fronts of the 'Bush. But I'm damn sure the true appeal of my neighborhood resides beyond the reach of a coffee shop's modem.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

K-Dog Closing?

Not to be a nosey Norman...but sheesh, I just got wind that K-Dog & DuneBuggy, the great Latte hope of Lincoln, is going to close, at least for awhile. This from Babs over on the yahoo listserve, which is a great place for emerging gossip on our emerging market.

Those of you close to the story...mind chiming in to quell the rumors?

PLG Now Considered an "Emerging Market"

With fellow sovereign states Zimbabwe and Bolivia, Lincoln Road is now considered an up-and-coming Emerging Market, according to THE REAL DEAL.

If I weren't away on vacation, I'm sure I'd have all sorts of snotty things to say about this article claiming that "affordable housing" might be part of the plan for the residential tower near K-Dog and that Tex-Mex joint and bar, whose name escapes me, but I don't think it's called Chi-Chi's.

Current Deal:
Previous Deal:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Using an Inter-MEDIA-ry

I'm in Vermont. Love it. But I miss home. So much so, that I just had to share this heartwarming story of love, bathrooms and media bias:

A Little Lefferts Miracle