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, January 31, 2012

Radio Free Flatbush

If you're new here (or a longtimer looking for the "delightful" Garrison Keillor at WNYC on your "wireless" and wondering when the old man became so taken with low low bass and air horns) you may be wondering about Pirate Radio and how that works. In fact, the Q's been amusedly amazed by the sheer number and variety of pirate radio stations working up and down the dial - all emanating from a few blocks away. Flatbush might just be the most pirate-heavy airspace in all the USA. These ephemeral stations might come in for a minute, then they're gone, or they might linger for days or weeks. They're either louder than everything else on the spectrum or painfully hard to tune. Sometimes DJs or ministers are screaming in Haitian Creole; sometimes it's a Jamaican lilt (holy cow! the nicknames! the slang! sheer genius!) And sometimes, it's just plain annoying, and you want to tear what's left of your hair out. Welcome to the 'Bush, circa right now.

The craziest part is how these stations end up all over the dial, from one end to the other, and they move! Apparently, all you need is a couple hundred bucks of gear and you're good to go. And even though it's way illegal, you might develop enough of a following to create your own brand, like VYBZ radio has.

If you want to learn more, I suggest checking out this article in the Brooklyn Bureau, of City Limits magazine. There's an interesting piece this week also about the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership's role shaping that nether-region between B-Heights, Dumbo, and Ft. Greene (at one point, I lobbied to call the area TimeTown, for the giant clock at One Hanson Place. It didn't stick, thankfully).

And if you want to hear one of these pirate stations at maximum volume, you could always pay your two dollars for a ride on the Dollar Van...just wait for the one that's blasting air horns and hop on in. Heck, they might even be broadcasting from the passenger seat for all you know.

Aaaaargh, mateys!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

DOT Looking at the Flabenue This Spring

A couple years ago the Q caught wind of a program from the DOT designed to relieve congestion from the worst corridors in the City. Our chunk of Flatbush Avenue made the cut, though it wasn't on the first round to get looked at (perhaps, as I've remarked before, there's no one or group in the neighborhood clamoring for attention? No wheels a-squeakin'...). My fear was that after the DOT studied and addressed streets like Church Avenue (McDonald-Utica) the program would die and we'd be left crying in our sour sop.

Here's all you need to know about the program Congested Corridors.

So I wrote to Keith Bray at the DOT and asked what's up? I mean, it's not like things are getting better along double-parking Dollar Van terror-ridden Flatbush between Empire and, I dunno, the Junction. I was prepared for a non-answer, but surprisingly he told me that they would start the project in earnest in the Spring.

I don't know what the DOT can do to create a sane and safe passageway along one of the most chaotic streets in the USofA, but I've got plenty of opinions. I'm sure you do too, so share them with us! The most radical, and yet oh so reasonable, idea I can think of at the moment is this:

Flatbush Avenue is simply not wide enough to handle two way traffic, parking on both sides, insane levels of double-parking, and buses and dollar-vans. Make it one-way a la Nostrand or Rogers. There. I said it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I've been complaining and calling 311 and mouthing off about the ridiculous makeshift dump behind 225 Parkside for months. According to the rules, you can call in a general complaint to Dept of Sanitation if the refuse is visible from the street. In this case, you have to look into the alley from 700 Flatbush. But today I saw this sight:

I can't say for certain it was my bellyachin' that made the clean-up happen, but I'm feeling much more satisfied that one's complaints do get noticed...eventually. A few tickets and I'm sure most landlords will cough up the dough to hire someone to clean up a stinky, rodent-loving mess like that.

Which begs the I just a busy body douchebag to care? I mean seriously, what kind of Erkel Two Shoes have I become that I get all high and mighty about other people's garbage? Day was I would have made fun of my current self.

Ah screw it. Like the sweet potato said to Popeye "I yam what I yam." Next up, other people's car horns...

Lost Cat Named Jordy

Seen this cat? Call the below Austin-based telephone number (512 area code!) Actually, you probably can't make out that number, so if you have seen the cat, this poster is near the Popeye's on Parkside and Flatbush:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Slowing Down Speeders

There's not a lot of time to act (deadline is beginning of February), but if enough of you want to see parts of Flatbush become "Neighborhood Slow Zones" - using a number of tested techniques to stop speeders - then the DOT has an application for you!

To make it happen, a representative neighborhood group (PLGNA or CB9 would qualify) puts together the app, showing the DOT that a near consensus of community residents agree to the DOT's Slow Zone objectives. Some rearrangement of on-street parking is involved, but generally it's about signage and bumps and markings, convincing drivers that our residential blocks are not speedways, and making those streets difficult to to go all Senna on in the first place. The goal is to get traffic down to a 20 mph limit from 30.

Below you can see that application and what's involved. And no, Flatbush Avenue doesn't qualify, or Rogers or Nostrand! It's about side streets...even my beloved Clarkson won't work cuz it's a bus route. But if YOU happen to be looking for a cause to champion, then PLEASE take this on! I'll hook you up with the people you need to know at PLGNA and CB9. Your job will primarily involve a) deciding which blocks to include and b) getting every neighbor, church, merchant and elected leader you can to sign on. They're doing it all over other parts of the why not here? Email me if you want to be the Vanquisher of Velocity.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Infrared Frisk?

Stop and frisk - the Q's been noticing a lot of it lately. I'm with the State Senator Eric Adams who I'm pretty sure I overheard telling a crowd "hey, they don't stop Erkel." It's frequently the hoodiest looking young men who get the special cop love, and I can attest that the gentlemen on and around my block that seem to be targeted the most fit the, well, profile. Whether or not the S&F gets the job done is certainly an important study to study, but it's irrelevant to the broader constitutional point - is it right to assume someone who looks like they're up to no good is actually up to no good? (I'll speak for my lame-ass Iowa self here and say that when I was growing up, the cops would target those skinny, pasty kids loitering near the 24-hour laundromat with their piercings and ripped up jeans. The fact that those were friends of mine and I KNOW FOR A FACT that they were totally high, carrying contraband, and constantly planning petty crimes should not color one's convictions on civil liberties. I know for a fact that a couple of the skinheads WERE in fact straight-edge, though they did a lot of a shoplifting, and eventually got into meth. But that particular day they were totally, you know, clean.)

I've often mused that it would be great if the country that invented the iPad could invent a device that could identify a gun from 20 paces. Just point it at a thuggy looking fellow and find out whether he's packing heat. Genius, right?

Looks like the technology is getting close, according to this Daily News article. Assuming for a moment that pointing all those radiation emitting devices wouldn't permanently rattle our chromosomes, is this a good thing? On the surface, I like the idea. But I'm thinking there would be TONS of false positives, leading to lots of potentially overzealous shake downs and police overreactions. I mean, it's one thing to come up to a guy and stop and frisk just cuz he looks nasty. But approaching someone you feel SURE is armed?

Any thoughts? This one has me ethically mystified.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Q Trains Running!

The Twitter don't lie, y'all. Due to the snow, the MTA work this weekend is cancelled, meaning you can ride the Q per usual.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Little Bit About A Lot Of Things

How many times have I said to myself...gee Q, it's nice living here, but there's no Renaissance Faire nearby. Fortunately this weekend, according to Ben of Caledonia, Barbara Rosen and the renaissance street singers will be singing in the lobby of 25 parade place from 2-4.  Says Ben: "beautiful music and a fun hang, and free.  come stop by and listen." That's just across from the playground, for ye with wee ones.

Nicole Fabri is back providing a Police Blotter of PLG over at the Lefferts Watch yahoo listserve thingy. LeffertsWatch is here, and you can sign up with a Yahoo ID. I'm crazy obsessed about police blotters. 0n this report, Envy Nails got burgled for $6,000 and basically gets blamed for not properly locking. And the Beverage store up near the Phat Albert's got robbed of $60,000! If that's not a typo, that's insane to have that kind of cash accessible. Not that I'm blaming the victim! Another sad blotter item was the mugging of a Chinese delivery a 15-year old kid.

Actually, if you're a need-to-know type, you really should sign up for LeffertsWatch (with 300+ members) AND the plain ol' Lefferts one as well (with 600+ members). Of all the very entertaining posts that go up on these listserves, my favorites are when someone puts something out on the curb as trash and lets everyone know. A veritable hoarder's paradise!

That DOT plan at Ocean/Parkside is undergoing scrutiny by both CB14 and CB9. CB9 is pretty favorable thus far, but CB14 (west of Ocean and South of Parkside) is expressing concerns about the proposed closure of the driving entrance to the park. What an effing shame it would be if the safety of pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike were derailed to accommodate the couple hundred drivers who use that entrance from 7 to 9 each morning. The darn thing is going to be closed soon ANYWAY due to the restructuring for the Lakeside Project. CB14 - please do the right thing and approve the plan as'll be saving injuries and lives, or conversely, standing in the way of their prevention. Think about it. Hell, most of these drivers aren't even FROM Flatbush...they're coming from deeper in the borough. DOT planners are not crazy anti-car zealots...quite the contrary, it's their business to see that cars move easily and freely through the streets of NYC, and that accidents be kept to a minimum. Let sanity prevail for once.

Speaking of the Park, the Alliance is saying they're bidding out the plan to put bathrooms in the middle of the park along that road that runs north-south along the west side of the lake. You may have seen an old outbuilding there sort of tucked into the hillside...comfort station here we come! (It might be a while, so don't hold it til then...)

And word is (from those who've attended recent Park Community Committee meetings) that the BIG NEW EFFORT for the Park will be the potentially awesome northeastern part of our green oasis that includes the Vale of Cashmere. Once upon a time, the magical Vale and environs were favorite spots for families and children, but for the past decades no one goes, because that area and Rick's Place have become what my father-in-law refers to as "Pickle Parks." Let your imagination run wild on that one...apparently, the going rate is a recession-busting $40. $20 with applicable Groupon.

And go check out the progress of the new playground on Winthrop tween Bedford and Rogers. Amazing! If it weren't 30 below, I'd be out there playing chess and doing pull-ups!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

MLK Celebration, Courtesy of PLGNA et al

Tomorrow's a holiday - and if you're looking to celebrate it in the spirit of its namesake, look no further than our own backyard.

more from plgna:

1 pm - 2 pm --  Sing-a-long and children's book giveway in the lobbies of 2101 Beekman Place & 40 Lincoln Road

2:30 pm - 4:30 pm -- A celebration featuring dance, music and civil rights stories at Grace Reformed Church 1800 Bedford (corner of Lincoln Road)

Our story hour will include readings from children's books about Dr. King, Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hammer, Malcolm X and other civil rights activists who changed the course of history. We are proud to have Imani Dancers and Grace Devotional Dancers joining us!

All events are Free and there no need to RSVP

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Why the Flabenue's the Flabenue

Back in December I promised another half of an essay entitled "what's really going on"'s the third or fourth kinda keeps draggin' on...

Everyone who lives or works in North by Northeast Flatbush has an opinion about what the neighborhood needs, means and exemplifies. Depending on your block, or your lifestyle, or your background and interests...there are as many ways to slice, dice and define a neighborhood as their are people living in it. This isn't a place for nifty slogans (PLG is for Lovers!) and it simply can't be defined by demographics, architecture or history. A Brooklyn neighborhood is a shifting and sometimes surreal projection of its inhabitants, a place of invention, reinvention, decay and renewal. I'm struck by the irrelevance of history in some ways; new shops, people, buildings and ideas get embraced quickly and then come to define a place that even yesterday meant something else. Certain ethnicities or immigrant groups might define an area for awhile - maybe even a long while, even as forces at play might work to undermine the stability of the enclave. Economically and developmentally, protest groups crop up to try to stem the tide of "progress," but generally speaking money follows money and trends follow trends and there's not much the average Jose can do to contend with change. Twas a time that renters could count on help from the City, but even Section 8 and rent regulation are disappearing, and unfettered capitalism is really the creed these days. Some decry Ratner or Markowitz as development dictators, but ultimately it's the talk of jobs, construction, arts and commerce that wins out every time - even when such promise is just mirage. That's on the macro level, but on the micro, most people do some awkward version of the real estate shuffle til they find a comfortable home somewhere and then once comfortable turn inward, focusing on the stuff of life, emerging only for bagels and to remark on the transformation of their streets and shops. Who has time to get "involved" locally? And many are "involved" in other less local ways, so it's certainly no stain on one's rep to avoid civic entanglements. Some DO get involved though, and clearly, some are quite good at it.

Walking down wide and sane-seeming Rogers Avenue the other day, we could finally see what a lovely opportunity awaits business owners. Sure the "foot traffic" is less, but so are the rents, and a good "destination" business could do very well here. About it's grittier cousin Flatbush, one could say "it is what it is." I was shocked to learn from a reliable source that Envy Nails pays $6K a month for that not very large space on the Bush near Clarkson, so don't be deceived; landlords are doing just fine with the current state of affairs here, and have little incentive to change their business models or go "upscale." Curiously though, with such dangerous and spastic traffic and active street action, one doesn't so much stroll Flatbush as endure it. (thus "Enduro?"). The Flabenue is essentially what happens when NO ONE takes an active interest; when NO ONE has a plan or vision; when the City and authorities take little notice; and when the good people of a neighborhood throw up their hands and say "ain't MY Main Street!" I've never known anyone, ANYONE, who is completely happy with the state of the Flabenue, and yet no one, no entity, no official has taken on the role of agent for change. The good news is that forces from without aren't trying to foist their vision of PLG onto us; the sad news is that so few seem interested in helping Flatbush be calmer, safer and more business friendly. I'm planning on walking the street with the fellows from the re-emerging FEPMA merchant's association - Mr. Delroy Wright and Mr. Wilfrid Compere, and perhaps this will help illuminate to me the State of the Flabenue. Till then, some food for thought...

Anyone who's followed my rants and raves knows that I sincerely love the Flabenue for all its kookiness and do not wish it to go the way of other Brownstoner neighborhoods. It's the sheer DETERMINATION of Flatbush Avenue to remain insane that strikes me, and now, as yet another poorly-conceived clothing store and a rarely-patronized wig store and a non-coffee serving internet cafe go out of business on my Sneaker King/Cupid's Corner/Globe Electronics/Jamaican Pride slice of the Ave...I started to get downright curious not just about how it works here, but how it's worked elsewhere in the borough.

I used to live just off Smith Street in the 90s. Back then, Smith was not without charm, but it certainly wasn't drawing the crowds of night-crawlers that flocked there just a few years on. Was it magic? Of course not. While many business owners and civic groups played a part, the story of Smith street is largely the story of one woman's determination to improve the commercial heart of Carrol Gardens. Bette Stoltz is her name, and her decades of business and community involvement should earn her a statue at some point. And if you're saying to yourself "yeah but it was that restaurant Patois that got the whole thing going" check the bit about how she made that joint happen through grit and determination. Her story, and that of Smith Street, is well told here: Bette Stoltz

Perhaps you've wondered how Franklin Avenue north of Eastern Parkway become the hip new strip? Again, a plan, an organization, a lot of sweat equity...and no it wasn't the boostering blog I Love Franklin Ave that made it happen (alone anyway - it did help - a lot). It was the methodical and proactive Crow Hill Community Association and its Franklin Avenue Commercial Revitalization Project. Yes, sometimes meetings, agendas and volunteer boards actually accomplish things.

Ditmas Park? Friends of Cortelyou and Flatbush Development Corporation

Myrtle Avenue? Check out the work of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership (MARP) and the groundwork laid by the Pratt Area Community Council.

How about Vanderbilt Avenue, another of my long left homestreets? Besides having an active and progressive merchant's organization - and of course a sea change in demographics -  Vanderbilt Avenue (GAP to Atlantic) underwent a major traffic transformation because of the work of a neighborhood group called Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council, an organization with similar goals to PLGNA but with a very active board and heady agenda.  You can read the story of the improved Vanderbilt Ave traffic flow here. That kind of infrastructure upgrade seems to be a consistent story when it comes to commercial revitalization, and is a part of the narrative in every one of the above examples.

There's tons more where that came from. But there is no such civic commitment happening in PLG. PLGNA remains in incubation stage, though in able hands. The Flatbush BID is doing a lot of work, but that starts at Parkside on down. You can see the difference - cleaner streets, the holiday lights and music. Flatbush avenue is still a traffic mess down there, but there are at least committed leaders meeting and agitating to address concerns. Perhaps that's in the card if Wright/Compere get their org up and running.

If you still think that having an active civic group or leader doesn't make much difference, I'll leave you with one small but meaningful example of how it works. A certain beloved local business startup was recently approached by people from the Myrtle Avenue group. Our intrepid entrepreneur is not actively considering a move, but you can bet it felt good to be wanted! Here's what the email said:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, Dec 2, 2011 at 1:16 PM
Subject: XXXX on Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill or Fort Greene?

Hi, just wondering if you might be looking to expand. I work with the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. We would love to have a store like XXXX here on Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill. Let me know if you might be interested, and I’d love to take you on the tour of the area and/or send you info about vacant commercial spaces.

Thank you!


Know what I mean?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Just Sew Stores*

The other day the wife said "you know, I really think we need a sewing kit." Sewing kit? What's next, a butter churn? But with four in the fambly now, the number of buttons missing has reached a citical mass. And there are clothes that could use a darning or two.

It's Caledonian Flatbush, so the chances of finding ANYTHING you need within three or four blocks is pretty darn high. And I'd always wanted an excuse to go into Save a Thon Fabrics, and here was the perfect chance. Don't say you haven't noticed it at least. The sign is frickin' gorgeous and the boarded up building is a stunner too.

It's everything you hoped for from a store that has scores of sewing machines in the well-lit and carefully designed window display. A big guy sat at a table fixing an old, but mercifully not TOO old, machine. The fabrics of the world were on display. There were lots of cute gifts and crafts stuff, you know like beads and ribbons and crap that I tend to drop or mangle in my fat fingers. It was actually kind of crowded at 6PM on a Wednesday...I won't lie it seemed to be mostly older ladies, the sort that might actually sew on a daily basis, but I don't want to sound too certain that young people aren't deserting their Macs for Singers. Could happen. Anything can happen in Brooklyn's weird artisanal zeitgeist.

I'm particularly fond of the basket of big balls of yarn:

They give lessons, fix any make or model, and generally seem to have their sh*t together in an olde thyme way. I'd love to hear from anyone who knows more about this curious but essential slice of Flatbush history. The comment box is open!

* Listen, if you got that pun then I'm proud of us both.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hello Blue Roost

Northern PLG got its groove back this weekend when Blue Roost finally opened its doors to a desperate croissant and coffee public.
Little has changed to the decor that would scare away old K-Dog veterans, with a homey feel best exemplified by the cute table seating arrangement and "put a bird on it" artwork. Here, a happy Sterling Street family drinks in the breakfast ambiance:

The reviews will best be written by regulars, but from this here Bustello-quaffing caffeine addict, the coffee seems just fine, the croissant fluffy, and the other baked goods looked fresh. By mid-week, they'll be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Here's to a great run, Blue Roost. By now it should be clear to all that the demand for a joint like yours is frothy indeed.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Chastity Belt Removed From 205

The scaffolding came down. Much of the interior renovation seems to have been completed. Psychologically, Parkside Avenue feels free. I asked Vince, the disturbed but sweet bearded guy who always hangs out sitting on a milk carton under the protection of the scaffold, what he thought. He said it was good. Unless it started raining.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

This Could Be Huge: Open House Monday

 Did I use the word huge? I meant HUGE. HUGE.

An opportunity of epic proportions is brewing for our community - for local youth, families, non-profit groups. Heck, for the future of this part of the borough, I can think of nothing bigger.

I'm talking about the Armory. Not the Park Avenue Armory. Or the Park Slope Armory. Or even the Bedford Atlantic Armory. I'm talking about OUR Armory, which happens to also have a Bedford Avenue address (ours is at Union Street, rather than the more infamous homeless shelter cum maybe something else at Bedford and Atlantic). They're calling it the Bedford Union Armory in some quarters, like that there Facebook page. But we're just at the beginning point of figuring out what this thing will mean to us, so please, take advantage of the following amazing opportunity to get in on the ground floor. And in this case, the ground floor is absofrigginlutely enormous:

Marty and Medgar (Markowitz and Evers) are inviting us all to come and look at the armory's insides this Monday the 9th from 8 to 5, then join in a town hall meeting at the college to discuss its future. Here's the flyer:

You might be one of those that doesn't think of Crown Heights South as part of your neighborhood, but that's a shame, since half of us "Q at Parksiders" are part of the same precinct (the 71st) and Community Board (the 9th) and school district (the 17th) as the Armory. And the massive structure is really close by bus, train, walking, biking etc. Empire Blvd has some mystifying psychological effect on people. We, south of Empire, share elected officials with the area north of Empire (and south of Eastern Parkway), so frankly, our future is way more tied to CHS than newcomers from points west might want to admit. (Want to know why I'm so obsessed with idea of neighborhood boundaries? That's why! It's friggin complicated! And in many ways, invented.)

Here's what the Armory looked like more than 120 years ago:

And today:

The history of these armories in this country is a fascinating post-in-offing unto itself. I grew up near one, with very similar architecture, way out in God's country, my hometown of Ames, Iowa. The country is full of 'em, and retrofitting them has become a big question, and big business, all over the place. Some municipalities tear them down. The short version of the armory saga is that these were (and in many cases still are) the homes of various National Guard units, or state militias, often known for their response to natural disasters, but also known for getting "called up" for wars like the one on "terror," or for beating down rebellions and insurrections (or conversely, once "federalized," Alabama National Guard troops helped make sure that black students could enroll at the University of Alabama in 1963, showing George Wallace who REALLY had the power, thank you JFK). The framers were understandably wary of large standing armies, so these "people's militias" were supposed to be a more democratic alternative. (Not sure I understand the mechanism here, except that there seems to be an extra step of "federalizing" the Guard that could keep a despotic Army general from being the only one with troops. And if the President got maniacal, maybe the governor could keep his Guard from going to the dark side? Am I understanding this right? Seems fascinating all of a sudden, where I never really cared before.)

In any regard, the City is taking control of OUR armory soon, and what we do with it will go a long way towards defining who we are, and what are our priorities. Community spaces, sports, arts...what say ye?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mike & Tony's - Pizza With Pizazz

Tired of the same old slices from Family, Mike's, Gino's, and that godawful place on Parkside? Dudes, gentlemen and ladies, you are SO gonna like the new joint on Flatbush at Rutland called Mike & Tony's. Now I know another pizzeria is not the fine eatery some would have hoped...but c'mon now, it's Flatbush, and we do informal very, very well.

Mike & Tony are actually the guys running the joint (in the background of picture). They're full blooded Italian-Americans with a wise-cracking sidekick (Nicky, from the old country, who at first I thought was Russian but that's because I'm a boob - he's a real Italian pizza maker), and they're here to sell you a really nice slice of pizza. The plain slice is where you learn everything you need to know - great proportions, tangy sauce, crispy crust. Even a crappy slice in NYC pizzerias is usually satisfying, so it's easy to forget how extraordinary a plain slice of NY pizza can be. It CAN be the Taj Mahal of tomatoey cheesy flatbreads.

Even better, they're serving a "Gramma Pie" too, and I tried a slice of that and it was pure heaven. Whole tomatoes, chunks of real mozzarella, leaves of basil, on a very homey crust. You gotta try it - costs a bit more but totally worth it.

So between doubles and jerk, treat yourself or your family to the Gramma pie and write me a comment if you think my rave should be a pan. C'mon! I dare you!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Cupid's Crafty Corner

I've loved this little start-up, based in the cubby next to the nail salon (which one, you might ask?) near the Sneaker King. I actually got to know the proprietor Ianthe Cupid (that's her name, y'all) when she was working out of the Caton Market and I bought a bunch of helium balloons for my daughter's birthday. (She offered free delivery, though I couldn't pass up the opportunity to walk home with two dozen multi-hued balloons rising from my hand, allowing me for a moment to savor my vestigial clown dream).

I started talking to Ianthe this morning and she happened to mention the accident 7 years ago that took her leg, and how she had to reinvent herself at that point from her dream of being an EMT, which was well on its way to fulfillment at the time of the horrible crash. Turns out her whole story was featured in the NY Times Neediest Cases, and you can read it all here from an actual journalist's keyboard. You'll note the excellent grammar, proofreading andfact-checking, which I consider terribly passé 
as, if, you, hasn't, noticed..

Ianthe went on to tell me she had lived at Lenox and Bedford from the time she was 8; that she had three kids and that her husband is co-conspirator of the party shop; that she witnessed the crazy stabbing of a dollar van operator a couple weeks back ( wacked out story I'll relate later). She was born in St. Vincent (the island, not the hospital, and not the indie heartthrob), and she's 100% Brooklyn, with the kind of immigrant pluck that keeps this the most exciting place in the world. Hell, if Brooklyn was ALL liberal arts grad macbook 'n' baby bjorners this would be one sad, sorry and predictable town.'d be Portland.

Please, if you're having a party and you want some of that circus charm -- go see Ianthe and contribute to what I'm sure will be a very successful enterprise for her and her sweet-as-could-be family. Kick It, Cupid!