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.

Friday, June 13, 2014

626 Debate on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show

The last bit of this piece is on 626 Flatbush. Other interesting bits on the seniors being kicked out of PPW and the Stuyvesant and Peter Cooper in the East Village.

I would encourage you to listen in particular to the bit near the end where it's pointed out how City Council Members can lead, and even fund, the sort of rezoning that would have rendered this whole discussion moot. Or put another way, if you know what the hell you're doing you put issues that matter to a huge number of constituents at the top of your to-do list. And if you don't know what those issues are, go and find out.

On the same day, Alison Novak from Hudson gave an interview that shows that from the beginning, as I noted a year ago, there was little recognition from Hudson that the building would ignite passions. I suspect she speaks not only for the developer but for a lot of folks who wonder what all the fuss is about. And that - the lack of understanding about the sensitivity of the issue - is the part that concerns me most. The courts, and the law, will determine the fate of this building and countless others. The underlying causes of distrust and dismay won't be resolved so easily.

26 comments:

Bob Marvin said...

IIRC Brian Lehrer (or someone) asked if Eugene had "dropped the ball," showing that they don't know him very well. What else would one expect him to do?

Bob Marvin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
G.M. Smith, Jr. said...

Interesting, if abbreviated, discussion. Given a little more time to consider, I'd say I'm mostly aligned with the reporter's response to the caller. Although PPEN's claim that the addition of 50 affordable units where there are currently zero will result in net a net loss of affordable PLG housing is highly questionable, the concerns they voice (except the park view stuff, just not buying that) are totally valid and deserve strong advocates in the public forum. It just seems the lawsuits and anger against this development in particular are wasted/misplaced. Seems like we should be focusing on pushing the agenda with legislators, not developers.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Good point about elected officials. I do think this particular building is an affront to context and park, but trust me, it's but the first.

I just don't think most folks have considered how enormous the change will be. I can certainly see chain stores up and down the Flabenue in a matter of a few years. I've grown very fond of the quirkiness of the neighborhood, and the lack of corporate presence. So many businesses that I've come to cherish, and colorful people I've come to admire. It's the blandness that follows these developments that really worries me. A building, you can eventually get used to, sure. But despite what some haters say, this is a vibrant and for the most part economically viable and self-reliant neighborhood. There's so, so much to lose.

200 species die every day on this planet. Entropy. A dying planet. A spiritual crisis in the secular world battled by a global fundamentalist backlash to industrialization and specialization. The rich further and further distanced from reality. A population drugged into a submissive state of two-party nonsense. Tribalism of every sort. Comfort and consumerism drowned out reason and compassion.

I must be getting old. You don't really notice this shit when you're young.

I was imagining the other day that MY hometown, way back in God's country, was invaded by an entirely different sort of folk and the landmarks rendered unrecognizable, like the way Lefferts will appear to those who were born here. Add to that a major shift in race and ethnicity and culture, and it starts to feel like someone is taking your sense of place and home out from under you.

no_slappz said...

200 species die every day on this planet. Entropy. A dying planet. A spiritual crisis in the secular world battled by a global fundamentalist backlash to industrialization and specialization.

Ah, the old 200 species dying per day argument. Hmmm. Any guesses on how many new species are coming into existence every day? Entropy? That's randomness, which is absent from the groups on each side of the housing issue, though of course the city -- and the world -- needs more housing. Thus, any efforts to limit construction are a denial of human reality.

The rich further and further distanced from reality. A population drugged into a submissive state of two-party nonsense. Tribalism of every sort. Comfort and consumerism drowned out reason and compassion.



The rich are the problem? Who takes the risks when a new building is constructed? The builders recognize the need for more housing. No denial on their part, and they're obviously looking down the road, fully understanding the sense of building taller buildings.

Obviously, due to PLG's location, and the city's improving economics, the area will continue to attract new residents. If there aren't new buildings for some of the new residents, then landlords of existing properties will work even harder to drive out tenants paying low rents.

Anyway, nothing lasts forever and memories become precious, but who knew the current wave of nostalgia would identify the first dozen years of the 21st century as The Good Old Days?

Clarkson FlatBed said...

You're living in a fantasy land. David Kramer isn't risking anything. He's unlikely a member of the super rich (yet) anyway. The rich are passive invested, I suppose, as are we all through backing loans.

Let me school you. I have a very dear friend who is ueber wealthy. Last year is actual "work" lost money. His next egg? Best year ever. He had absolutely nothing to do with it. Risk? Almost nil, particularly in a recovering economy.

No one, I repeat NO ONE is saying no to new contruction, no to people moving in. Get it through your thick, thick skull.

G.M. Smith, Jr. said...

Oh P.S. this Mathieu Eugene character sounds like a real clown. What can we do about that? (from someone who's been embarrassingly disengaged from local politics the past five years)

G.M. Smith, Jr. said...

Guessing y'all have seen this by now:

http://www.brooklyneagle.com//articles/meet-developer-626-flatbush-avenue-2014-06-13-143000

diak said...

<< I must be getting old. You don't really notice this shit when you're young.>>

Actually I'd say, from the progression of your posts, the opposite is true.
I think as we age—and of course this is a generalization—we more and more accept the fact that not every injustice will be righted and not every problem is a crisis. Several months ago your views about 626 seemed pretty grounded; the damn thing's too tall and the developer isn't respecting the neighborhood's longtime residents. Judging by your third paragraph of your 6/13 comment ("200 species die...etc.") you've amp'ed up the rhetoric with a big dose of youthful passion. Hell, I think the only thing you left out was, "if 626 gets built, the terrorists win."

One more thing: the other night I was channel-surfing and happened upon a talk being given by architectural historian Barry Lewis. There's probably no one else alive who knows more about the history and evolution of NYC neighborhoods. He teaches at Cooper Union and the New School. His "Walking Tours" programs for PBS (of Brooklyn, of Queens, of Harlem, etc.) are highly recommended (they are available online). Anyway, Prof. Lewis was showing some slides and describing some important 19th-century infrastructure when he said (and this might not be word-for-word except for the last few words): "... the planners were looking to create something that would last forever. But as we've seen over and over and over, "forever" in New York City lasts thirty years..."

Clarkson FlatBed said...

You know what bugs me about your historical perspective, Diak? It's smug. Smug as a bug. Clearly YOU don't feel your community or culture is endangered. Otherwise you wouldn't be reminding us how the moneyed interests always win out, and therefore somehow conclude that it's just hunky dory.

You might even chime in that it's all in New York's best interest. Or the country's. Or the world's. But from the intensely entitled and self-satisfied seat that you (and I) are currently warming, I wonder if you have ever, ever, felt the least bit threatened by the overwhelming powers that be? Or are you always able to maintain a calm and callous demeanor while your neighbors get booted from their homes, often for the sheer fact of being the wrong color? As always, yes, NYC changes. And as always, the least powerful in the City hierarchy get screwed.

Interesting that you bring up terrorism. As Iraq devolves once again into chaos and extremism, I'm reminded how history never seems to teach us anything. We make the same mistakes again, and again and again. I can think of perhaps one foreign incursion since WWII that has left a remotely positive result. Dozens have led to worse terror, despots, torture and civil wars. Our insistence of superiority has left the planet in tatters. And now, as ever, people say "same as it ever was."

What a crock of shit. I ain't buying it, and you shouldn't either.

And yes, as I've said from the beginning, the building is too tall for the neighborhood, and were they to shorten it I would stop writing about it and move on to the much bigger and broader issues facing the neighborhood. As I always try to do.



Clarkson FlatBed said...

Staying in the bigger picture for a moment...what if, Diak, your perspective wasn't so much wizened reality but pure rationalization. What if in middle age it's simply hard-wired in us to accept the good-enough. Young kids make great rock 'n' roll. They're virile and fertile and romantic. What if they're also right about utopian idealism? And we're the ones holding them back?

What if (and here you may need to use all your powers of imagination) we've been propagandized and beaten into a state of submission, to the point that we actually accept the unacceptable. We've failed the challenge of the civil rights movement, engaging in a new Jim Crow, humiliating and ostracizing yet another generation of young black men, who we've been taught to fear and distrust. We've failed the call to protect the planet. We've failed to keep our bloody paws off other peoples' and countries' struggle for self-determination, stifling their internal process from generating their OWN Thomas Jeffersons and John Adams, or Mohammed whomevers or Mahdi somesuches.

And what if, closer to home, we've realized, maybe subconsciously, that we got it pretty damn good, we of the bourgeois class, and now that we have kids, it would be unwise to rock the boat. So while paying lip service to liberal causes, we secretly subvert the aspirations of the underclass, lest they take something we believe to be ours by birthright?

I don't expect everyone to want to go there with me. It might be too painful a journey, and I'm not even sure I want to go there myself. Because while we demonize the 1% in this country, some of us forget we're in the 1% in the WORLD, and therefore just as instinctually resistant to revolutionary thinking as your average Ivy League legacy matriculant.

Whether it makes you think or makes you groan, that's where my head's been at lately.

diak said...

Yet again I offer a couple of small observational crumbs and stand accused of serving up an entire pie of privilege, entitlement, and now smugness. I would really like to engage in a constructive debate here but I have no interest in insult swapping. I tried to talk to you and you shouted me down...
I think a lot of what you have to say about global issues makes a lot of sense. We have so much more in common than you'd like to believe. But TQ@P has taken a "fundamentalist" turn: either believe 100% or be labelled a hateful heretic.

I won't disappear (unless you choose to delete me) but I think it wise to restrict my comments to stuff like traffic issues and the occasional restaurant endorsement. Please don't mistake the absence of one (slightly) contrary voice for an assumption that you have a monopoly on the truth...


Clarkson FlatBed said...

I'm shrill and have "amped up the rhetoric" and "fundamentalist." Your position, not you, is smug. Let's call the whole thing off? Nah. I've been repeatedly told that these are good conversations to see/hear articulated. I take no offense, and you needn't either.

You know what they say about the heat in the kitchen! You're very clever and witty and I'd miss you if you stopped being you, Diak!



disco princess said...

Re: [i]I think as we age—and of course this is a generalization—we more and more accept the fact that not every injustice will be righted and not every problem is a crisis. [/i]

In isolation, every problem may not seem like a crisis. However, what if one particular problem were to become part of a problematic pattern? It might be prudent to speak out now before things get to that point as illustrated by MARTIN NIEMÖLLER’s "FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE SOCIALISTS..." quote. That seems to be The Q's point.

Kimplicated said...

Perhaps it's inevitable in a conversation that touches such deeply-held convictions as community and economic justice. But it does seems that this has become much more of a with-us-or-against-us tone in the comments. Though I agree with many of the sentiments, I do miss people exploring ideas rather than defending them.

leffertspapa said...

By framing the debate in moral terms you've staked out an unassailable high ground from which all who disagree with you may be indicted for smugness, gross insensitivity, racism, etc.

Nobody thinks you're actually fundamentalist, but your tone of late is beginning to take on that unpleasant odor.

diak said...

I'm afraid there isn't much basis for a substantive conversation when your responses to my comments have no connection to reality. I tried to point out that I thought your recent posts didn't sound like someone getting old and cranky but rather someone injected with youthful enthusiasm -- and yeah, going a bit over the top sometimes. From that you somehow, I have no idea how, come away with the idea that I think it's great that moneyed interests are riding roughshod over everybody.
I quoted an eminent historian's view that NYC's lack of permanence tends to go in single-generation cycles. And in an uncanny leap of logic, that means I'm indifferent to racially-based evictions. Say what?

What the hell, throw some disastrous foreign policy, environmental degradation, and crushing the hopes of the younger generation on me too. But please let me know what I could possibly have said to earn all this.

At this point I'm afraid that if I say anything positive about the new gastropub, you'll accuse me of being the second gunman on the grassy knoll. It's make about as much sense as the other conclusions you've come to about me...

leffertspapa said...

Sorry, should have been clearer above. I was referring to Q's responses to Diak.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Diak, we've been down this road before. When I go off on a "tangent" I'm not talking about you the person at all. Why so defensive? You bring up points, and I rebut, then I take it as a jumping off point for more observations. It's not about YOU. If I took every comment on this blog personally, I'd never sleep at night. And you probably don't even see the most hateful!

As I've said before, it's indicative of the sensitivity of the topic of racism and elitism that makes it hard to suggest there's something lurking below the surface in each and every one of us. Many people seem to think I'm pointing the finger explicitly at them, rather than taking a moment to reflect how we all play a part in the creation of an unjust system. I'm culpable too, and if I obscured that point then I didn't do a good job of explaining myself.

Ultimately, I think we're ALL chicken shit for not taking to the streets and demanding more, for the planet, for our brothers and sisters, over the planet, over the teaching of our kids, over unfair labor practices, health care, child care, housing... But that's mostly an internal dialogue that I choose to express online, hoping for clarity, wisdom and maybe courage. And it too, has nothing to do with you personally. Except that you happened to articulate an argument I've heard myself make, then reject. It's discourse.

diak said...

<< ...I'm not talking about you the person at all. >>

Cue my Travis Bickle impression... (except without the gun).

( for you youngsters, that's a reference to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDM26fy9z_M )

I went back and reviewed your first response to my comment (6/15, 5:27PM). In addition to using my screen name in the opening sentence, the word "you" appears nine times (once in ALL CAPS) and "your" is used three times. Do you see how that might indicate that you're attacking me personally?
(Your comment after that [9:35] also addresses me by screen name before going off to list our collective sins which you do admittedly attribute to "us.")

So if you're not talking about me personally, then what is it? Are you using me and what you imagine are my opinions as a convenient symbolic figurehead for all that you see is wrong with the big bad white people? If that's the case, and it's all the same to you, I'll decline the nomination. I got enough on my plate as it is.

One other thing: in that 5:27 comment you said: "I can think of perhaps one foreign incursion since WWII that has left a remotely positive result." What were you referring to? All I could come up with was Korea. South Korea's economic boom certainly makes it a far better place to live than North Korea, but that happened so long after the U.S. military involvement, I'm not sure it counts...

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Diak: Clinton's campaign into the former Yugoslavia could be deemed a success.

I'm arguing with your ideas Diak, not you personally. And if I use your screen name it's to create the illusion of a face to face dialogue. I was no more impugning your character than was Barak Obama questioning Mit Romney's worth as a human being. You use tough talk, Diak, so I suggest you let it roll when it comes back at you.

I'm rereading my comments again and finding nothing but an impassioned attempt to repudiate. Perhaps you were being playful with your comments, and I should have responded in kind. Though the intensity of the issues in play don't have me feeling very playful, just pissed. So if you picked up on that, bingo.

diak said...

Right, Yugoslavia. Can it be? We...we...agree! See, that wasn't so hard.

Mitt Romney's worth as a human being? A topic deserving debate or old news? (His "net worth," however is pretty indisputable...)

no_slappz said...

Did we not drive Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991 after Saddam Hussein unilaterally invaded the neighboring country?

What was his motive? He didn't want to repay the $80 billion he borrowed from Kuwait to fund his eight-year war against Iran.

Kennedy's ultimatum to Cuba and the Soviet Union about the missiles in 1962.

Since WWII there've been a large number of US military interventions, mostly gone from the public consciousness, but there if you want to research them.

lenoX said...

I'm just curious--i remember when i saw that TIME magazine panorama from the top of the new WTC tower, I was quite surprised to see that the tallest buildings actually seem to be on the east side of the park--specifically, tivoli towers and ebbets field apartments. On the west side, everything seems a heck of a lot shorter--yet advocates for this tower keep on claiming there are tall buildings everywhere in the vicinity. Even that new glass building on GAP and Eastern Parkway only seems to be about 14 stories or so. does anyone actually have an example of a building *not* on the east side of the park that rises significantly over the height of patio gardens? (which, in my opinion, is as tall as any building should get around the edge of the park. I'm not sure if that Hudson developer lady has ever stepped more than 50 feet into the park, but a LOT of my favorite spots are devoid of any building views, even in winter!)

i dunno if links work but here's that panorama for reference http://time.com/world-trade-center/

Clarkson FlatBed said...

NS: We gave Hussein the greenlight. It's actually partly OUR fault that he invaded in the first place. I would also add that our trading of alliances in the Middle East has helped destabilize the region considerably, and ultimately helped lead to the attack on the WTC. Why are we so hated that people would fly planes into our buildings? Read your history Slappz. We almost never get it right, and need to stop trying. It always comes back to haunt us.

Oh, and Cuba? You've forgotten how Castro got there in the first place, and why Russia had such close ties with the island nation. Bay of Pigs, yep, another winner.

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