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, February 19, 2013

McDonald's Says Git 'n' Go!

From DNAinfo's Sonja Sharp comes this story about older folks being asked to "move along" rather than being allowed to hang out in the newly designed McDonald's "cafe."

Interestingly, Sharp chooses to create a bit more conflict than actually exists by citing Yelp reviews who point to their general dislike of the chain restaurant by newcomers, or "hipsters," which I guess has now extended its meaning to include anyone not liking McDonald's. From the story:

But while hipsters may hate it, longtime residents adore the restaurant, calling it a haven for for (sic) seniors in the absence of a local community center.  "I've been coming here ever since this McDonald's opened, 25 or 30 years ago," said local resident Ralph Belgrove, 70, a retiree who comes most days to visit with friends, nursing one or two cups of coffee during his four-hour stay. "It's wintertime, we can't go to the park, so we come here and buy a cup of coffee. You sit awhile, buy a second cup of coffee — you relax."
What in Sam Hill do those things have to do with one another? I'm beginning to think, after reading an over-the-top story that included the coining of a dreadful new term "hipsturbia" in the NY Times, that the word hipster has become shorthand for "come read my story about class warfare and entitlement that will make you want to throw your latte at a neighboring at MacBook Pro." But hey, sometimes the story is just a story, whether it's seniors not having a place to chat or young families choosing to move out of the City and live nearby. (Other than cattiness, I can't see a single reason to employ the word hipster to anything other than musical or fashion style, oh and of course the new foody foodiness. Otherwise, it's just people living their lives - why not judge people on the content of their character? Among the so-called hipster nation is a hell of a lot diversity. And how is what people wear, what they listen to, what they eat and what they "believe" any of our business anyway? It was funny the first time, amusing the second, and now it's just plain boring to talk about. Ever since the term baby-boomer was coined, we've been barraged with zeitgeist nonsense intended to belittle our fellows. Whatever you're pickling in your basement and selling at the Brooklyn Flea is fine by me, as long as you don't try to pickle a hot dog, because dammit that would be blasphemy. And yes, gentrification involves real and serious issues, but not the cartoon caricatures favored by journalists).

The real story here, in the Q's mind's eye, is that local retirees have nowhere to go. McDonald's is probably being short-sighted by kicking sweet neighborhood seniors out of their booths (they make the place look popular after all, and they DID pay for their coffee - maybe you could make a case if the place is packed, but otherwise let 'em gab for Pete's sake. Hey, I wonder if Pete knows Sam Hill...), what's really sad is that there isn't a halfway decent senior center nearby. According to this list, I don't see any within walking distance for a "hipster," let alone someone suffering from worn "hips."

Note to McDonalds: if you want the endorsement of this blogger, let the old folks sip their coffee. I'll be happy to eat your fries from time to time. I'll savor them, one a minute.


Anonymous said...

If only they had a senior center.... a place where those pesky old people could be with their own kind and not bother the hipsters!

The Snob said...

When I happened by the Wendy's on Empire I saw that folks were actually hanging out playing chess in there. Gave me a new respect for the place. McD's should be ashamed, for a host of reasons.

Anonymous said...

I ate lunch here on Sunday with my toddler (McD's is a favorite guilty pleasure). We sat near a group of seniors who were having an impassioned and nuanced discussion about the themes of Django Unchained. It was an interesting conversation to overhear, and my toddler helped lighten the mood by continually interjecting with silly faces that made them all smile. It was a great lunch.

I understand their desire to keep out vagrants (this location does frequently get weirdos camping out in chairs), but seems to me it's not so hard to tell the difference between those looking for a nice place to sit and gab and those addled souls looking for a place to lurk about and ask my kid for his chicken nuggets.

Let the old timers gab!

-Paul G.

Anonymous said...

I don't like to make assumptions, but to me what it seems that in an effort to rid loitering of the "bums"(ie: drunks, people panning for money) they've also put out those that are well meaning, and the backbone of our community.
It's well known that the lack of a senior and youth center effects the community in a negative way.
In my small town (though we're in a city, imho each neighborhood is more like a small town) the seniors also sat each morning at Hardee's or McDonald's reading the paper, sharing news, etc.

Since it seems that owner of the McDonald's on Parkside is approachable, could an agreement be made to keep those that are well meaning, but put out those that are not? I think this kind of initiative has to be lead by those that are the effected, the seniors that spent their mornings at McD's.


Anonymous said...

I don't know why the article felt the need to mention hipsters, seems like shoddy writting to me. Personally I don't care for McDonalds except for when I'm on the road or checking it out when I'm in another country - it is our famous export. Nonetheless, it's existence doesn't bother me. Of course, i don't know what a hipster is, maybe Im not a hipster unless one is including young white and nicely dressed people as hipsters. Just seems like a nasty way of saying not me and mine, which seems to be what you're getting at. Anyway, the hipsters aren't the reason for the crack down on loitering. It seems like everyone is forgetting that the place is under new managment. I think the new managment is afraid of young people hanging out, which is stupid, but that's just a hunch. As far as the hipster thing, I have noticed that when I go to get money from the ATM there are more white people eating in the McDonalds; I guess they aren't hipsters though, since hipsters hate McDonalds. Of course what to do about the hipsters that like these things ironically and not ironically at the same time ... Oh this hipster thing is sooooo complicated. How will we ever properly sterotype people? :-p


The Urban Husband said...

It's interesting that the article identifies the neighborhood as Prospect Lefferts-Gardens not Flatbush, as if to suggest that the elders are encroaching on "hipster" space.

Christopher said...

The term "hipster" is becoming like how "redneck" is used down south. Everyone is one but you.

ElizabethC said...

Identifying this as PLG is even lazier journalism than use of the word "hipster".

People really do camp out in there for hours though. I guess I've always been under the assumption that you buy an item, and you buy the right to sit there for a certain amount of time...time which is not unlimited.

Which brought me to another thought, which is that the local library is usually the hang out that you CAN sit in for unlimited amounts of time. And I realized that despite living here for over two years, I don't know where my local library *is* (sad face) much less what their hours are.

ElizabethC said...

Got it!

Flatbush Library
22 Linden Blvd. at Flatbush Ave.

However, even as I looked this up, I realized why the older guys on my block *aren't* hanging out there: because they love to have really loud passionate chats about things, and obviously in the library that won't fly. When it's warmer they take chairs into the park and hang out having extraordinarily intense political discussions.

Bob Marvin said...

Is this McD's in PLG? I think so. Both sides of the Flatbush Ocean block of Parkside have been considered PLG since before I bought my house, back in 1974 [although PLGNA had originally used Winthrop as a boundary in the late '60s]. Granted, the entrance is slightly around the corner, on Ocean, but still....

I personally think we should consider revising our southern boundary slightly. I'm pretty sure that some people living on Lenox and Caton think of their neighborhood as PLG, which has never been the cased, but maybe it should be reconsidered

Speaking of borders, the Flatbush branch of the BPL is technically not in PLG, but the (mis-named) Crown Hts. branch, on the NW corner of Maple and New York Ave. is indisputably in PLG--not that I, or anyone else, is the arbiter of our neighborhood's borders.

I also think that Mr. Q's concept of Caledonia is useful (even if we don't have any mountains covered in heather and thistle) but even I am reluctant to call anything west of Ocean Avenue PLG.

diak said...

The chess players at the Wendy's that The Snob referred to were profiled in the NY Times several years ago:

Clarkson FlatBed said...

One can live in more than one neighborhoods at once, clearly. All these micro-nabes like PLG, Caton Park, Ditmas Park...all Flatbush. It's like living in Brooklyn AND NYC.

Somehow, I don't like the idea of extending neighborhood lines. Seems too real-estatey. I prefer the idea of coming up with one and sticking to it. Clearly my Caledonia idea hasn't tuck. How about Prospect Park SE? That could include Parkside to the northish, Rogers to the eastish, Caton to the south, and the Parade Ground to the west, since "Caton Park" seems to start at the PG How bout DEM apples?

IF PPSE doesn't stick, we could always just name it Peppa's, since if you live within those borders you're basically living within a cloud of its smoke.

ElizabethC said...

If It's on Wikipedia, it MUST be true!

"Flatbush includes the southernmost portion of Prospect Park.
The neighborhoods of Flatbush extend south from the old Brooklyn City Line north of the southern edges of Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Empire Boulevard. The southern border of Flatbush neighborhoods is approximately on the line of the Long Island Rail Road's Bay Ridge Line, which runs to the south of Avenue H, the campus of Brooklyn College, and "The Junction" where Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues intersect. "The Junction" is also the location of Brooklyn College–Flatbush Avenue station, the southern terminal of the IRT Nostrand Avenue Line (2 5) of the New York City Subway and the Junction Mall.[6] Flatbush's eastern border is roughly around New York Avenue, while its western border is Coney Island Avenue."

Bob Marvin said...

MUST be true? I realize the intended irony, but it's not a bad definition of Flatbush, even though the old Town of Flatbush [prior to its 1894 annexation by Brooklyn] was considerably larger.

ElizabethC said...

I was being ironic, but yes, that seems to be a standard guide that makes sense to me. Here's the definition of PLG:
"Prospect Lefferts Gardens is a residential neighborhood in Flatbush in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The area is bounded by Empire Boulevard (formerly Malbone Street) to the north, Clarkson Avenue to the south, New York Avenue to the east, and Ocean Avenue/Prospect Park to the west". So according this, it IS in PLG: my bad!

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I've always been highly suspect of the inclusion of Clarkson in PLG. Since Winthrop was the original southern edge, I could see making it to Parkside, but not Clarkson, especially without Woodruff. A Clarkson lady protested too much, methinks.

Frankly, I've always felt like PLG's homely stepdaughter. In fact, it was this sense of inferiority and longing that created the necessary combustion to turn the turbines of this here blog. Thus the name of said blog, and the search for neighborhood identity. It's like I'm a frail Jane Jacobs, left alone in the new LIRR terminal, awaiting a local to Ronkonkoma.

When WILL my people find a home, or rather a name for their home? When WILL we be treated fairly under the lash of PLGNA's brutal dictatorship? When will we be able to hold our heads high on a PLG house tour, in full knowledge that our non-historic district has historic value nonetheless? And when, oh when, will we get our own little Tugboat that could, rather than an Internet Coffee House that doesn't serve coffee?

If only for a moment, I thought I heard melodious windchimes, jostled by a bitter breeze from the drummer's grove, singing "Caledonia" fair maiden, your names is Caledonia. Maybe a bit too Scottish, but sing-songy nonetheless.

But I'd settle for Prospect Park East and a grilled cheese sandwich.

The Snob said...

Thanks, Diak. We used to live across from McNair Park...I guess we've followed these gents down the hill!

Anonymous said...

Leave the seniors alone, let them hang there. That would be the only plus about this particular McDonalds location. We were forced to eat there once after stumbling out of the park at Parkside after sledding post blizzard and needed to rest our kid and eat. Yelpers are right it is the worst McDonalds anywhere. Fast food never high cuisine but most people enjoy the fries at McDonalds. Not this location's fries. Everything was undercooked and inedible and nasty. I suspect they have a problem with the fryer and it's not heating the oil enough.

Bob Marvin said...

I could understand an argument for Clarkson NOT being in PLG, but it HAS been considered part of the neighborhood for at least 40 years, so why not leave that alone. BTW, I suspect I know which "Clarkson lady protested too much" to PLGNA and had that street included in PLG and (if anyone cares) I think she was right.

Don't feel too bad Mr Q. I was on the PLGNA committee that worked with LPC on landmarking in the mid to late '70s and I can assure you that we tried very hard to have Clarkson I& II included in the Historic District [and could never have guessed that they'd drop Parkside I and Chester Ct., both of which had been in the original proposal that LPC brought to the neighborhood}.

Bob Marvin said...

Too more things; Clarkson Avenue houses HAVE been on numerous PLG House Tours (including last year's IIRC). Also, "Prospect Park East" was one of the developer's names for our neighborhood 100n years ago, but it never caught on.

Rudy on Winthrop said...

(1) Am I the only one who hates this silly "Prospect Lefferts Gardens" name? It is too long, and two of the three words involved mean essentially nothing, and the doubling up of words ending in S is murder on the tongue and ears. ("PLG" is worse for the obvious reason that no acronym that wasn't current by 1999 should be allowed to exist.) I vote to call this place "Lefferts," which has exactly the right ring of both ancient gentry and contemporary grit.

(2) And, if not "Lefferts," then "Crown Depths."

Rudy on Winthrop said...

"Oh, but Rudy, we've been calling it PLG since 1977!"

"Yes, and since 1977, no one has had any idea what you are talking about."

Anonymous said...

"[T]he (mis-named) Crown Hts. branch, on the NW corner of Maple and New York Ave. is indisputably in PLG.."

Well, maybe, but isn't New York Avenue getting pretty close to the area called Wingate (or earlier, Pigtown).

I guess according to Wikipedia, the library IS on the PLG side of New York Avenue.,_Brooklyn

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with Rudy about the too-long name and the acronym for the neighborhood. Both are terrible. Why and how on earth did they decide on three words in the name? Adding "Prospect" doesn't serve any purpose. I've never told anybody the name of our neighborhood and had them surmise from it we're located on the edge of Prospect Park. The neighborhood should have been named Lefferts Farm. That would have been so cool. Plus it would have allowed the parcel of land some of it sits on to retain the name it had for centuries. Or Lefferts Flatbush would be great too. The more I've learned about the rich history of Flatbush I'm proud to be a resident of the larger Flatbush area.

Bob Marvin said...

"The neighborhood should have been named Lefferts Farm"

"Lefferts Estate" was the other late 19th Century real estate name for our neighborhood [besides Prospect Park East] that didn't catch on.

Bob Marvin said...

"isn't New York Avenue getting pretty close to the area called Wingate (or earlier, Pigtown)."

You mean like across the street? Of course it is, why does that matter?

Bob Marvin said...

"Oh, but Rudy, we've been calling it PLG since 1977!"

More like 1968.

"Yes, and since 1977, no one has had any idea what you are talking about."

Make that 1968 AND, until a couple of years ago that too was true. Now at least SOME more people recognize the name but, yes, it IS too long IMO. It's just 45 years too late to change it--I fear we're stuck with the name, however ungainly a mouthful it might be.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Oh, Bob. I love agreeing with you, and I nearly always do! But I simply cannot, not over such a crucial matter. To put it plainly...the name Prospect Lefferts Gardens sucks. And it's NEVER too late to change a name. Walter Carlos became Wendy Carlos, and went on to write the soundtrack to the great Disney feature "Tron." Jefferson Airplane became Jefferson Starship, and went on to write and perform the career zenith "We Built This City." The New Orleans Jazz became the much more apt Utah Jazz. Cocoa became Cacao, and costs twice as much as a result. Elizabeths often become Liz, Beth, Liza, Betsy, Eliza, Betty, Lizzie - and you just bloody well get used to it. I've tried for years to get people to stop saying "the Cape" when referring to Cape Cod and start saying "the Cod" instead. Hasn't worked yet, but who knows what they'll be saying 200 years hence, especially once all the Kennedy's have died tragically?

Without even meaning to, I started saying just "Lefferts" to those with a clue about modern Brooklyn and "Flatbush" to those who need a name they'd recognize, like cabbies and out-of-state grandmas. Lefferts just sounds wonderfully New Yorky, like Harlem or Red Hook or Astoria or Pigtown.

Now, there are REAL problems in the world worth tackling - poverty, disease, famine, war, climate change, bad hair plugs. But that's why god gave us the blogosphere. To let off a little steam, and perhaps settle this once and for all.

It's Lefferts, Bob. Just plain ol' vanilla Lefferts.

Now, the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association can go on trying to be all inclusive-like, asking not only the people living in Lefferts but ALSO the people living in the Botanic Gardens and the people living in Prospect Park to come together to join forces in the fight against poorly conceived block parties. Hey, I'm a dues paying member myself! (Um, Martin, was that $5 each year or lifetime?) BUT I refuse to confuse my friends needlessly, exhaust my tongue, and pretend there's any sense at all in using three words when one would suffice. I don't go to my local fast food place and ask for a burger-buns-condiments. I ask for a hamburger, and the folk on the other side of the counter know exactly where I'm coming from.

My name is Timothy James Thomas. But you can call me Tim. See what I'm sayin'?

Bob Marvin said...


I'd happily use just "Lefferts" IF you can get it to catch on!

Anonymous said...

So can we start calling you TJT instead of Mr. Q? As to the neighborhood naming issue, "Crown Depths" is self deprecating genius. In half a decade in this neighborhood I've called it Lefferts, PLG, Prospect Lefferts, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Lefferts Gardens, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens (no idea what function that dash serves), The P.L.G., and Flatbush (to taxi drivers and white people I want to scare off.) I'm convinced that the malleability of the name plays a significant role in its relatively less-obscene property values. Many people are not even aware it exists, outside of an intimidating corridor between Park Slope and Ditmas. Happy for it to remain a poorly kept secret. Prospect Park East would have been fancy if it had caught on in 1905, but no luck and too late now. One thing I'd like to dispense with: I recognize that Lefferts Manor is a more-posh micro-enclave within our microhood, but calling it "The Manor" is the height of bourgeois d-baggery.

babs said...

Just to add one more opinion into the mix - residents of Lenox Rd. should very happily continue to call where they live Flatbush, as it was one of the main streets in the town of Flatbush (that and Flatbush Avenue), and certainly the toniest one, with many of the town's notables living on it. It was the second paved road in the town - when I was doing research on a listing I had there I came across numerous newspaper articles mentioning residents' complaints about all those new "horseless carriages" running up and down the street.

It really bugs me that Flatbush gets so little respect - one of my earliest ancestors in this country was Cornelius Janse VanDerVeer (as in the Estates of the same name, now Flatbush Gardens - that was his farm, I believe); he helped found the town of Flatbush after his arrival here in 1659 and was town's magistrate from 1678 -1680. Ironically, I discovered all this after I'd moved here, but it really made me feel connected.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Okay, Bob. GAME ON!!

Bob Marvin said...

From your mouth to god's ear Tim!

I'll give "Lefferts a try. Of course I'll also say that I live in the Lefferts Manor portion of Lefferts. Personally I only say "the Manor" when speaking with other LM homeowners and my fellow LMA board members, so, I guess (as per Anon. 11:56PM) that I'm only a SEMI-bourgeois d-bag :-)

Bob Marvin said...


IMO we should ALL be proud we live in Flatbush, but the former second largest town in Kings County is much to big to be a neighborhood.

ElizabethC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.