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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Midwood Flats - The Sign Is Up - Sign of the Times?

Come By Erv's Today And Say Hi

Stop by today at Erv's, the new coffee-cocktails joint on Beekman, and say hi to general manager Rob Giles and crew. It's Pay What You Want for medium or small coffees and $2.50 for espresso drinks. The roaster is "Joe," baristas will be on hand, but of course the big news is that:

"At night, we will have a selection of seasonal cocktails, theme-focused cocktails (for the winter, fat-washed everything) and a well-curated list of rotating local breweries. And of course, Genesee Cream Ale. I've been pressed for a specific theme of our bar, and the closest I can come up with is an old-fashioned neighborhood cocktail joint with cool tunes and great bartenders."

Friday, August 29, 2014

Kickin' New Mural On Winthrop at Flatbush

Shout outs due to Kwenci Jones and Richard Greene for this spectacular new mural. In the name of peace, indeed.

The Q Needs Your Help - Spring Comes To the Flatbush Trees!

Happy end-o-summer folks. We have a lot to be thankful for, living in this great Flatbush neighborhood. It's a crazy time to be alive, is it not? As I always like to say, WE'RE the grown-ups now. It's our time to pass along a message to the next generation - hopefully one of peace, love and understanding. Right? As longtime PLG-er Bob Thomason likes to say, "isn't it the reason we're here on this earth?" Hey, and he should know. He's the one who named the neighborhood back in 1968, and talks about renting his apartments at below market rates because he wants his tenants to have time to be a part of the community. Oh, and he wants someone to create a musical based on the origins of man. In a lead-up to that, I'd once again like to pitch the Flatbush Trees project. We're almost to $2,000 of our $9,999 goal!!!! All the money goes to materials, equipment, rentals and insurances. Not a drop goes to a particular person - we're running on volunteers, neighborhood kids and local coffee and honey.


If you haven't already, please consider a gift, however big or small. The video will tell you more about the project to resurrect those dilapidated sheet metal trees at the intersection of Empire/Flatbush/Ocean.

I don't ask for much in return for whatever entertainment you may derive from this dorky blog. Can I count on you to help, even a wee bit? I thought so!!

Roll film...

Oh, and if you don't mind, could you send a link of this to everyone you know, and who ever lived around here? It would be great if there were a worldwide aspect to this campaign. Because folks, Flatbush is a neighborhood with an extraordinary history, full of extraordinary people, and its coolest days are behind it, ahead of it, and all around it. I know that's more than 100%, but hey, so's Flatbush. It's alive, it's you, it's me. It's NYC to a capital NYC. It's America as it could be. Except for the street trash...but we're working on that!

tim "theQ" thomas

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Zoning and Stoning

the lovely space that is Tafari Cafe last night

Despite enduring a mean-spirited personal attack, I quite enjoyed the tone and message from last night's zoning workshop/info session with Tom Angotti. I hadn't intended to speak as a rep for the Community Board but was happy to. With more than 20 new members, there's not a lot of "institutional memory" at CB9 anyway, other than D.M. Pearl Miles and deposed chair Jake Goldstein, maybe Mike Cetera who was (is?) the ULURP chair that heads up zoning issues. Here's hoping the new leadership assigns committees ASAP. I put my hat in the ring, but haven't heard so I'm doubtful.

Bottom line: folks are mad. Folks want to organize, and they're looking for common ground. Folks want to know what the City really has in mind, and they want their elected officials to take a stand in keeping with their flapping gums. Or, if those power-brokers got an idea that goes against the grain, they need to articulate it and let the people know that they're taking their stand for the "greater good" or whatever. I liked the speeches at the end, for folks talked of the need for unity. Would have been nice if those speeches started off every community meeting, before they heat up.

Look folks, I'm not gonna lie. I don't care for shouting matches and people hogging the spotlight when they should be raising their hand and waiting their turn. I like passion, I really do, but it's gotta be FOR your cause, not to character assassinate. I like raking politicians through the coals as much as the next guy, but I'm also not into distorting or exaggerating people's words for personal gain. The Borough President may have mentioned, as many of us have, that Empire Boulevard could stand for some apartments. Right here on this blog I imagined a vision along Empire for truly middle class housing, you know the kind for households making less than a hundred grand? Turns out we're living in a city where six figures is not a hell of a lot of money to raise a family on, and we need to keep these folks in NYC every bit as much as the working poor. If that offends your sensibility, then I would ask that you disagree with me with a wee bit of gentility! Ah hell, do whatever you want, I can take it. I may be a "fat white fuck," but I'm a FWF with a thick skin (that easily burns in the summer mind you). And I've got all kinds of thoughts about how to better keep people in rent-stabilized apartments, if you want to hear them. Actually, you probably don't, but then you can always go back to Youtube when you get bored.

What is emerging, if I may be so bold as to call the play-by-play, is that folks around Empire are very leery of any rezoning or zoning study. They imagine a worst-case scenario, as those who live on or just-off Flatbush have, where tall market-rate apartments ruin their quality of life (one already is). Of course, the ironic part is that all this building is raising home values. And let's face it, an awful lot of the folks at this meeting are home or apartment owners, all of whom have profited greatly (at least on paper, myself included). So what drives all this anti-development anger?

I would argue that for many it's a combination of one or more of the following: a sense of powerlessness, a sense of betrayal, a lifetime of experienced racism, and/or a sense of fear of the unknown. No one can really see the future. We draw conjecture, we hypothesize and we create doomsday scenarios or utopian visions. Humans are notoriously bad at forecasting the future. And that's why this whole zoning thing is a bit of a crapshoot - we may THINK we're doing right by the community, but we might end up like Park Slope, with a 4th Avenue-like corridor that feels Dystopian and unfriendly, that accomplishes goals by bulldozing through communities that have little or no say in the process. When I entered into the fray, I thought it seemed pretty simple. Downzone, or even just get a text change, so you can't build anymore towers over a certain height. But now, after engaging the powers-that-be and tapping into anger and resentment over myriad other issues, we may have done ourselves a disservice in that regard. Maybe it WAS better not to have the CIty looking at this neighborhood holistically. Because frankly, as Tom Angotti noted last night, once the "plan" is hatched, the Mayor won't even let the study happen til he has his ducks in a row. And who are the ducks? The big-pocketed folks and the power brokers. The Q's been the guy saying from the beginning that it's really only the Mayor who could stop 626 or any other building or planning scenario. He has the key, the lock and the tools to the shed. All we get is a couple of coffee cans full of rusty bolts and screws. If I'm to take the metaphor to the next level, the BP gets to use the lawn mower. Sometimes.

The Borough President gets the mower Mondays, Thursday and alternate weekends
Alls I'm saying here is the genie is out of the bottle, the mower is out of the shed, the seal is off the top of the Pringles. And by antagonizing the guy with the mower, we may actually not be able to see the lawn for the blades. You know, forest for the trees? Cut off our noses to spite our face? Throw out the baby with the bathwater? Get sold down the river for an emperor's new coat?
Someone asked about zoning maps. Here they all are.

Below is the district-wide one, but if you click through the above link you get juicy details. I actually don't even remember what I wrote back then. I wonder if I've evolved?

An Actual Debate for State Senate: TONIGHT

this post is a rerun to alert you to tonight's event.

Hey y'all. For the State Senate debate we had to exchange Demetrius Lawrence (too partisan say some) for Milford Prewitt, long of the Lefferts Manor "Echo," meaning you can count on some actual journalistic expertise along with the Q's rabid gotcha-isms. (That's a joke; Geena Davis, during the shooting of our film "League of Your Own" referred to me as "Softball Thomas." That too is a joke. The only movie star I actually had a conversation with was Ethan Hawke back in 1991, who said " and me, we're rebels" over bourbon and beer. I have a feeling I remember that interaction much better than he. That's not a joke, but feels like one. Ask me about the time I hosted an MTV show called "Buzz Bin Report" and got canned after only one broadcast. Probably a record in the world of VJ's. They wanted a "corn-fed Midwesterner" and I aced the screen-test, but under the bright lights I think I was a bit forced. My other brushes with fame? Ask me about Bob Seger (not his dad Pete) and how we "walked into a restaurant, strung out from the road" and both wrote a song about how we "just wanted to explode" and then he stole the song and my best line "is that a woman or a man?" Oh, and the "trusty wood" of "Night Moves?" Mine too, both the wood AND the song. Or how I asked Pete Seeger if he was Bob Seger's dad and why he took that extra "e" away, and that he must've been a terrible father to raise such a thieving kid. Oh, and one time I peed in Natalie Merchant's pool. And I shared a dinner with Wendy of Wendy & Lisa from Prince's band "The Revolution." Now I ask you to guess which of those stories are true. Yes, the Q has many surprise revelations up his sleeve. If one stays alive and keeps leaving the house, more wild and wonderful stuff will happen than one ever could have imagined playing that tennis racket in front of the mirror as a child. "Meet the New Boss...Same As the Old Boss" indeed! Oh, and playing onstage with Bun E. Carlos on drums? Priceless! More will be revealed...and if you get that reference, you know what I'm talkin' about.

Do any of those things qualify me to moderate a debate? No, but like I said, if you stay alive and keep leaving the house, you never know...

Gandhi Restaurant Review

From the PLGourmand, comes a review of a longtime fave of the Q's: Gandhi Indian Restaurant tucked away on Bedford near Clarkson.

Most locals know this Indian restaurant as a delicious take-out/delivery option… and even the owners seem a little surprised when you want to dine in. But once you’re seated, the staff does everything they can to make you comfortable – from continually making sure your water glass is full to adjusting the fan to make sure you can feel it. Indian hospitality is legendary and the team at Gandhi will make you feel like a VIP.

They serve all the usual Indian dishes, but they are unusually flavorful and vibrant. My favorite entree, the Kati Chicken, features a series of tasty textures – juicy barbequed meat with spinach that is stewed and full of flavor and is somehow soft without being mushy. The Chicken Tikka Masala is special as well – tender and rich and just a heightened version of this dish where the flavors really pop. Biryani dishes are wonderfully spicy, but never too hot. Vegetarian favorites like Aloo Motor Gobi and Baigan Bhartha are equally delicious; so well made that you never lose the vegetable flavors beneath Indian spices the way you do in other restaurants. All dishes come with fluffy basmati rice that adds another element of tactile, subtle flavor.

Continuing the theme of texture – all the breads here are special. My favorite is the Garlic Naan, which is exceptionally soft and loaded with roasted garlic that melts in your mouth. The Aloo Paratha is also delicious – an ode to wonderful carbs! I recommend ordering the Assorted Breads, a choice of any four for the table, so you can sample as many as possible.

The Bedford Avenue location makes this place feel off the beaten path, and the quieter street keeps definitely the vibe relaxing. Whether you dine in or order your food to go, the chefs can tailor dishes to be exactly what you want; offering you the option to say how spicy you like your meal, and that certain dishes can be served with or without cream, and most can be ordered with any choice of meat. The hospitality definitely extends to take out – whatever you ask for they will try their best to accommodate.

Gandhi is located on 2032 Bedford Avenue between Parkside Ave and Clarkson Ave. Their full delivery menu is on line at:

They are open Sunday-Thurs 11am-9:30pm, Friday and Sat, 11:30am-10pm. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Zoning Workshop Tonight at Tafari

To help answer some of the community's many questions about zoning and the zoning process now that we are finally beginning discussions with Department of City Planning, Prospect Park East Network(PPEN), Prospect Lefferts Garden Neighborhood Association(PLGNA) and Parkside Empire | Flatbush Avenue Merchant Association(PE|FAMA) are co-sponsoring a zoning workshop with Tom Angotti, Professor of Urban Planning at Hunter College, former City Planner, and Brooklyn resident. 

Date: August 27
Time: 7-9 pm
Place: Tafari Cafe, 591 Flatbush Avenue

What is "zoning"?  How do different zonings affect what can be built on your block, your quality of life and your business?  What exactly is "upzoning" or "downzoning"?  What is "contextual zoning"?  Are changes planned for your block?  How can you participate effectively in the rezoning process?  What has been the experience of other communities that were rezoned?  How is zoning related to affordable housing or the retail environment?  Are you concerned about parking, traffic, noise, or crowding on subways? 

We will ask Professor Angotti to give a presentation based on audience interest and knowledge, followed by audience questions and comments. 

We hope as many of you as possible can attend, offer your input and insights, and help to answer questions about the role the community board plays in the rezoning process. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This Your Bike?

Cops found this bike. Anyone missing a lady's Razor "Aggressor?"

 Call Vinnie at 718-735-0527.

And no, that's not really a "girls" bike. But if you remember banana-seaters from back in the day...

The Game Plan for Erv's on Beekman

An eagle-eyed reader notes that NY Magazine gave a shout out to soon-to-open imbibery Erv's. Here's what they said:

2122 Beekman Pl., nr. Flatbush Ave., Lefferts Gardens; 718-662-8813; early Sept.
By night, this cozy spot will serve craft cocktails designed by Robert Giles, late of Clarkson. Adventurous types will appreciate the rotating specialty drinks (which might feature five Fernet cocktails). The owners (the principal investor is New York contributing editor Steve Fishman) are also catering to the 7 a.m. crowd with Joe’s coffee and pastries from nearby Caribbean bakeries. 

Again, the Q is wondering how well they can do with this biz plan without taking over the whole groudfloor of the building to include Flatbush facing signage. The investors bought the whole building after all. A spy tells the Q that the crew was asking a local biz owner about how best to displace longtime commercial tenants. Granted, such practices are commonplace. But it does provide insight on how some nabes go from downscale to upscale in a hurry. It's usually not just a mom-and-pop exchange of keys. To be clear, the Q welcomes new businesses that provide a unique product and atmosphere. It's telling to note however that this is hardly the only "play" out there. Look for more news all Fall long on the new biz be continued.

Yep. Landlords Matter.

Last weekend two men were shot in the lobby of 250 Clarkson, between Rogers and Nostrand. It's always harrowing when bullets fly in such a public place, and a stark reminder that we live in a City in close quarters with one another, as hundreds of residents in that building and close-by had to endure open violence so close to where they lay their heads. There are probably 2,500 people living between me and that building, but it's just two long blocks, which can sometimes in NYC feel like a LONG way away. It's not of course. Last year at this time shootings were a bit too many for comfort, I think we'd all agree, and the Q was shouting to anyone who would listen about it. We even got a new C.O. at the 71st, I would argue because of the uptick. Just two years since poor marksmanship left a young mother dead on my very block, and a year and a half since an innocent transit work was shot dead on Lincoln Road for looking at a drunk trio of hoodlums the wrong way, it's hardly front page news that a sloppy "assassination" style shooting took place on a summer weekend a couple days ago. In general, shootings are up a bit in the precincts around the 71st, while in Lefferts proper they're down a notch. So the Q's not screaming about it, just resigned to the fact that there are too many guns, too few jobs, and plenty of resentments and turf wars out there to keep the NYPD in business.

But something about this particular crime, still seeking a perp, is worthy of note.

250 Clarkson is owned by a man named Barry Hers. Hers also owns 60 Clarkson. Both buildings have dozens of units that he lets to the City for its scatter-site homeless housing program. If you want to read more on the disgrace that is a "program" that would pay a slumlord $3,000 a month to use a "temporary" homeless shelter, rather than allow its continued use as a rent-regulated apartment, well here's a couple of the Q's past posts. Uno, and Dos. And tres. And you simply must listen to the WNYC piece on his buildings and the program.

This is not the first time that 250 Clarkson has endured violence. 60 Clarkson is home to near-nightly visits from the cops or ambulances. Despite repeated pleas for 24-hour security, a lone occasional doorman sits at a dilapidated desk deep inside the lobby. Two times upon my entering the building, which is usually unlocked, he didn't even look up as I dropped off books or toys in the lobby. No questions. No nothing. Residents tell me this is par for the course. Remember, this building is home to dozens of kids and women who are enduring longterm abuse from men. The place should be airtight for christ's sake.

So what happens in buildings when you place 60 vulnerable families into squalor, without the security and services they need, with a drunk or stoned super, and a landlord so vile he can't set foot on the block without bodyguards? Well, there's the 9-year girl who was raped by a 14-year old on the roof last year. I've documented more than a half-dozen serious crimes, and countless anecdotal incidents of neglect, violence and capital T trouble over the past few years. 250 Clarkson, and other Hers owned makeshift "homeless shelters," also receive more than their fair share of calls for police, fire and ambulance. And as I have expressed to whomever will listen, I blame Barry Hers for creating the unsafe tinder-box conditions in his buildings. When I floated his name to CAMBA C.E.O. Joanne Oplustil she shook her head and said "we're working on it, it's a real problem." CAMBA is responsible for providing the needed social services to homeless clients in these buildings, but I went so far as to visit them at headquarters to ask why the heck CAMBA couldn't exert more pressure to get Hers to clean up his act. The Department of Homeless Services is responsible for creating an expensive folly that enriches the likes of Hers while not providing a true environment conducive to homeless recovery. We've got the money...let's do it right.

I hear from an insider that DHS is moving to end the Scatter-Site program. One would hope they'll create a smarter and more secure alternative. I read all the time that neighborhoods go ape-shit whenever news of a new shelter is announced. To which I say...fine. Build the shelters. We as decent neighborhoods can make room for those in need. But for God's sakes do it right. I live within blocks of at least a dozen high-needs buildings, and there is a night and day difference between well-run and full-on chaotic and dangerous.

For the safety and quality of life for everyone involved, we need the City to hear us and do the right thing.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

What A Difference Four Weeks Make

Can't hardly swing a dead cat around here without hitting a new shoppe or commercial enterprise. "Cinnamon Girl" is already up and running in the old Pilar salon at 583 Flatbush. With two other locations in BK, the team that runs these cute upscale coffee/baked-goods/gourmet-products joints really knows their (food)stuff. AND they sell a $1 small coffee! (Take note, competitors. Sometimes, that's all we want. Of course, you can also get a delicious cold brew ice coffee for a few bucks more.) You gotchyer select fresh produce, eggs, even a fancy coconut milk, kool kimchi...there'll be more take-home selections soon. Friendly staff - Brent and the woman with the pretty Asian-sounding name I can't now recall - were both super helpful and pro. (I guess I really should take notes. Journalists do that, right?) How's about a menu:

Erv's has opened on Beekman, but you might miss it since it has no sign and is not smack dab on the Flabenue and, uh, I forgot to shoot a picture. From what I hear it's got a good cup of joe and they'll be serving mixed drinks presently. Now, I'm no brilliant capitalist, but it would seem to me that they'd need to take over the whole corner, including the laundry and 99-cent store, and turn it into an evening destination, if they wanted to make more than a coupla bits in profit. As is, I can't imagine the foot traffic would pay the bills. Something tells me they have a game plan.

Oh, and speaking of game plans. I spoke to Eskimo of 65 Fen to see what was up, and it turns out they're moving 65 Fen to, er, 69 Fen? 71? and expanding Delroy's to be a larger wine-bar space. PLG Outpost didn't work out (was their heart really in it?) and Cinnamon Girl is satisfying that long-rumbling hunger pang anyhow, but I'll be danged if a wine-bar couldn't work if done right. The wine store is open, just a couple doors down, so pay 'em a visit and wish 'em well.

Shelley and Carl changed the color and window display at Play Kids to, um, what is that, turquoise? Aqua? Kudos to them for keeping things fresh. Shelley's been busy with the emerging Parkside | Empire merchants group, so I'm guessing it was Carl got out there with the ladder. Just guessing. Gotta be careful on that ladder. I've heard stories that would make your hair spin...

Now, some of you may shrug when you see that there's a new chicken-burger-dog joint just up the road from Shelley and Carl's. "Sultan's" it's called. Used to was these places were more plentiful than parking meters in Brooklyn, but they're still holding their own, like that one with the spitting problem on Parkside. (The one on Bedford near Clarkson closed recently). They used to all be called "Kennedy Fried Chicken" (get it? KFC?) and trace their roots to the first Afghan proprietor in the 1970's who took the idea behind the African-American-owned "Kansas Fried Chicken" and ran with it to ultimately include everything he could sell in buckets and bags from a bullet-proofed glass counter. The first time I ate at one back in '88 my friend told me we were going to the "ghetto chicken" place and I had no reason to argue - he was BORN here after all. What did I know about where chickens lived? I thought he meant the chickens were living in the ghetto, and he laughed. How prescient though. Turns out, after learning as we have about the conditions at factory farms, that the term was damn near accurate. Chickens really DO live and die in ghettos. Read about the Afghan Chicken dynasty here. Only on Main Street NYC my friends...

Things are moving along at the Gastro Pub, too:

Jim Mamary's Bluebird Cafe got a (strange) shout-out as a result of a schadenfreude piece on his biz partner Alan Harding.

Hot yoga (Bikram), communal workspaces (The Compound) and Planet Fitness have joined the ever-expanding selection of beers at ground floor Brooklyn Beer & Soda (growlers you say?) in the buildings known as the Phat Albert Industrial Mall (okay, only I call it that). And yes, you can still get a cheap pair of knickers around the corner at the not quite so phat Alberts. My favorite bit of it all? Check the sign below for Bikram Yoga. It notes two in Park Slope, the other in Lefferts. Small victory for neighborhood-naming sanity. Maybe I'll have to put on my yogatard, grab me a placemat, and go sweatin' to the oldies. Or whatever they do over to there.

And then of course, there's the eye-popping progress of the 23-story tower at 626 Flatbush. Wow. At this rate they're going to beat that slow-moving pre-fab next to the Barclay's.

I honestly can't possibly find the words to wrap this all up in a tidy take-out container. It's like a long, long fuse that ends...I dunno. Hey, did you see that a brand new building is going up to the just-opened 123 on the Park?

LL Cool J and Mavado Shoot Vid at Pepa's saw the scene on Flatbush at Woodruff this afternoon? What was your first thought? Then your second? Then your...1,425th? I guarantee you didn't guess it right off. Now, for number 1,426...

Inside the trailer in front of Pepas

Yep. That was LL Cool J shooting a video with Dancehall sensation Mavado. Mavado (what's with all this "gully" stuff? these days everyone has like 10 alter egos) is a real big deal if you like the modern reggae. LL Cool J is a real big deal if you...were born before 1970. Put 'em together and you've got dinner at Pepas with a crowd of about 100 fans and extras.

I'll be honest, my first instinct was shooting. My second was demonstration. My third was...Anderson Cooper was shopping at the Gem. Shoot me a note and tell you about numbers 4 thru 1,425.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Let's Talk Zoning - Calmly and Respectfully - August 27 - Tafari Cafe

Lots of talk so far about zoning and we're at the point where the City Planning folk need to hear from as many voices as possible. And we need to inform ourselves so we can be active participants in the process. From the organizers:

Dear PLG Neighbors,

Prospect Park East Network and several other community groups have been fighting the 23 story tower at 626 Flatbush Avenue because we believe it offers few benefits to our community and many negatives. One of the reasons a developer could gain such an outsize benefit at the expense of our neighborhood is that our zoning is outdated and does not match our needs. 

Thanks to your signatures on petitions, the letters you wrote to our elected officials, and your voices at our meetings, the Department of City Planning has finally begun meeting with Community Board 9 and members of the community to discuss rezoning to prevent future towers and address other issues of concern to the community.  

But what is "zoning"? How exactly does it affect what can be built on your block, your quality of life and your business? What exactly is "upzoning"? "downzoning?" What is "contextual zoning"? Are changes planned for your block? How can you participate effectively in the rezoning process? How is zoning related to affordable housing or the retail environment? Are you concerned about parking, traffic, noise, or crowding on subways? 

To answer all these questions and more, Prospect Park East Network, Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association and the Parkside Empire | Flatbush Merchants Association are co-sponsoring a zoning workshop with Tom Angotti, Professor of Urban Planning at Hunter College, former City Planner, and Brooklyn resident. 

Date: August 27
Time: 7-9 pm
Place: Tafari Cafe, 591 Flatbush Avenue

We hope to see you there!

Big Change At the Jackie Robinson School

Word has reached the Q that the longtime principal and assistant principal at PS375 - the Jackie Robinson School - will NOT be returning this Fall. That's right. New leadership, new opportunity.

To parents of young ones, I would urge you to contact the school and see about setting up a meeting between the principal and prospective parents, regardless of how hectic things might be right now. The Q has made no bones about his disappointment in both Lefferts neighborhood schools - 375 and 92 - and that only a change in leadership will encourage welcoming and progressive schools (maybe start with a website? school tours? community interaction?) Both schools are nearly 100% black, while the neighborhood is mixed. Unless we believe that segregation is a reasonable goal, one can only hope that a new principal will recognize the advantages to the ALL that comes with a diverse population of parents and students working together. There are lots and lots of parents who want a local school to work -- I know some of you will help rise to the occasion.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Kittens! Kittens!! Kittens!!!

It's a bumper crop of cuteness. It's a snuggle harvest of kittens with pretty little mittens, giving little cat kisses to all who hug 'em and scratch their adorable little noggins. Whiskers? You betcha! Leg dances? Yep! Purr, purr, purr, yum-yum.

If the above makes you want to reach for the barf bag, then you are clearly not the target audience for this post. But, if the below pics of locally born homeless cuties touches something deep inside, then by all means email Elizabeth.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Flabenue Gets Serious About Trash

Perhaps you've noticed that our glorious Main Street can get a bit, mmm, untidy from time to time? Since the Q first arrived in the 'Bush 11 years ago, he's witnessed many attempts to address the issue. Given that it's primarily businesses that occupy the ground floors of most buildings, it is the businesses that must lead the solution. Sure, litterers abound, and residents are known to illegally dump their personal garbage in tree pits and in corner baskets. Oh, and the wind is not always a friend to Mr. Hooper either. Yet, according to DSNY rules, it's the merchants who are required to clean from their storefronts to 18 " into the street, or risk a fine.

A recent meeting at CB9 on sanitation along the major avenues resulted in a promise from the Department to educate merchants as to their options, and to describe solutions that have worked in the past. It's been just a year since the new Parkside Empire merchant association has come to life, but you'd better believe they recognize how important is the movement to minimize the mess.

Join them on Tuesday night at Tafari Cafe (yes, THAT Tafari cafe! This may be the best chance to see it from the inside!) and lend your support and listen to the MESSage of Hope.

And if you choose to, do like the Q, and pick up a piece or two of trash each time you head out somewhere. Studies show (mine, double-blind of course) that folks are less likely to litter on clean sidewalks. And if you're brave, as I am often to an unwise degree, scold scofflaw litterers and dog-poopers with the following: "Hey, this sidewalk belongs to all of us. How would you like it if I dropped chicken bones and B.M.'s on your living room rug?"

Pooh Bear Flashes Thumbs-Up To Lefferts

Pooh Scores Roof-Top Honey 9.83 In 100-Acre Woods Condiment Olympics
While more trend-conscious neighborhoods may boast Beer Gardens, Lefferts has its very own Bee Garden. The Q got a note and the above flyer and is promised a jar of the stuff, so I'm more than happy to promote this locally-made goodness. 100 pounds of bee pollen!! Man oh man that's a lot of gooey goodness. From Liz, your neighborhood apiarist:

I'm a local beekeeper and we are harvesting our honey.   If it's a slow day at the Q in terms of ink, maybe the nabe could use some good news about a very local product.  Not a sign of the End Times (gastro pub) or controversial in any way, though perhaps some may see 100s of 1000s of stinging insects atop a roof a sign of the End Times.

First things first:  it's legal in NYC and my 3 hives on Midwood Street are registered with the city.  My neighbors are very cool about it because I GIVE THEM honey.  

The pollen and nectar flow was huge this year and today we harvested nearly 100 pounds.  Just a month ago, we harvested 50 pounds and sold out - mostly to Tip of the Tongue and Gratitude.  Last year, I sold it to Blue Apron in Park Slope but this year I've decided to only sell it in our neighborhood.  Want to keep it local - because this where the bees get their nectar for this delicious honey.  It's for sale at Tip of the Tongue and Gratitude Cafe.

Honeybees will forage up to 3 miles but tend to stay within 1 mile of their hives.  The huge Linden tree bloom we had throughout May and June - the source of the sticky, delicious smelling nectar covering most of the cars in the nabe - contributed greatly to this past harvest.   Lindens, aka Basswood make especially beautiful honey - light colored, very floral and delicious.  There is also a gorgeous mint taste - from the lavenders (yes, a mint) and other mints like hyssop and the regular peppermints and spearmints most folks grow in their yards. Lovely.

There is some "internets" talk about local honey helping with seasonal allergies as a homeopathic remedy.  Problem with homeopathic treatment is that you're supposed to use the honey in amounts that stimulate the immune system and then cut out the homeopathic "trigger" -- but we have a hard time cutting out the honey eating part of the prescription.   Our honey is lightly filtered and thus, loaded with pure, local pollen.  We don't use any chemicals on our bees.  Our honey is the opposite of what The Associated is selling which is mostly corn syrup and food coloring.  No pollen in it and pure junk.

I've been keeping these bees for 4 years.  They are gentle, easy to handle.  My sons, ages 8 and 10 are really good beekeepers too.

Friday's Zoning Meeting A Bust

Changes of venue, concerns over Shabbat, MTOPP's name change, a feisty borough president, lots of hoopla over not-so-much...these appear to be just a few of the notes that have filtered north to the Q from Friday's somewhat-anticipated meeting on dubiously-titled "Empire Boulevard Rezoning."

Look, Eric Adams has every right to be miffed that he was characterized as having staked a claim on Empire Boulevard beyond musing as many of us have from time to time about its potential for embettering. And MTOPP has become increasingly incoherent. And hey, Shabbat is Shabbat, and either you want observant Jews to attend or you don't. Personally, I think you can have a meeting whenever you want wherever you want, but it makes no sense to call yourself a Crown Heights open discussion and schedule it on a Friday night. That's a rookie blunder, and forgivable as such, but don't blame the Q if the Chabad are rankled. Luckily, a follow-up public meeting will be held at 11am on a Sunday at a local coven and a third is scheduled for 3am J'Ouvert morning.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Q and Friends Sponsor A Senate Debate: August 28

Hey y'all. With pals Demetrius Lawrence and Avi Leshes, I'll be moderating a debate for the State Senate position currently vacant since the ascent of Eric Adams to BP. I hope you all come, because it looks to be a tight race. And there's LOTS of money and issues at stake in these Albany gigs, even if we're all a bit tired of the rancor and corruption. Let's get at least one good politician representing the neighborhood? (Caveat: you may be part of Kevin Parker's district, though most Leffertsians are in the 20th District. You should come though...these guys will represent the area for a loooooong time, if precedent means anything.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

So, What Am I Currently Allowed To Build On Empire Blvd?

Thanks to Jessica for pointing out the sorts of establishments that are currently zoned "as of right" on Empire Blvd.

Lest anyone think that zoning doesn't matter, I give you Article III Chapter 2 32-25, which tells you what sort of commercial enterprises are allowed in C-8, the current Empire zoning. Remembering that Empire leads up to the Botanic Garden and the second greatest public park in the world, I find it unconscionable that we would actually consider leaving the zoning as is. I'm told that Empire, and its previous incarnation as Malbone Street, have pretty much always been junk, automotive and before that horsey establishments. Time for a change folks.

Some of my favorites are in bold:

Use Group 16 (C8, current Empire Blvd zoning) consists of automotive and other necessary semi-industrial #uses# which:

(1) are required widely throughout the city; and
(2) involve offensive noise, vibration, smoke, dust, or other particulate matter, odorous matter, heat, humidity, glare, or other objectionable influences, making such #uses# incompatible with #residential uses# and other #commercial uses #.

Retail or Service Establishments

Animal hospitals or kennels

Automobile, motorcycle, trailer or boat sales, open or enclosed

Blacksmith shops

Building materials sales, open or enclosed

Carpentry, custom woodworking or custom furniture making shops

Crematoriums, human

Electrical, glazing, heating, painting, paper hanging, plumbing, roofing or ventilating contractors' establishments, open or enclosed

Fuel, ice, oil, coal or wood sales, open or enclosed,

Household or office equipment or machinery repair shops, such as refrigerators, washing machines, stoves, deep freezers or air conditioning units

Machinery rental or sales establishments

Mirror silvering or glass cutting shops

Motorcycle or motor scooter rental establishments

Poultry or rabbit killing establishments

Riding academies, open or enclosed

Sign painting shops

Silver plating shops, custom

Soldering or welding shops

Stables for horses

Tool, die or pattern making establishments, or similar small machine shops

Trade schools for adults

Automobile, truck, motorcycle or #trailer#

Automobile laundries, provided that the #zoning lot# contains reservoir space for not less than 10 automobiles per washing lane

Automotive service stations, open or enclosed

Vehicle Storage Establishments

Commercial or public utility vehicle storage
Dead storage of motor vehicles

Public transit yards, open or enclosed, including #accessory# motor fuel pumps

Heavy Service, Wholesale, or Storage Establishments

Carpet cleaning establishments

Dyeing establishments, with no limitation on type of operation, solvents, floor area or capacity per establishment

Laundries, with no limitation on type of operation

Linen, towel or diaper supply establishments

Moving or storage offices, with no limitation as to storage or #floor area# per establishment

Packing or crating establishments

Photographic developing or printing with no limitation on #floor area# per establishment

Trucking terminals or motor freight stations, limited to 20,000 square feet of #lot area# per establishment


Wholesale establishments, with no limitation on #accessory# storage

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Community Forum w/ BP Adams - This Time on Empire Blvd

The Sterling St Block Association and the group called MTOPP have convinced Eric Adams to host a town hall on what they're calling "THE rezoning of Empire Blvd." Personally I'm a bit tired of their jumping the gun on this one - we've only gotten to the point of deciding what areas to look at in a "study" with City Planning - but it's safe to say that any look at the area will look at what the Q believes is the severe misuse of Empire from the Park on east. So yes, they have reason to be concerned that their voice is heard. However...the Q hears from numerous sources that rather that the group was incredibly disruptive at a recent City Planning meeting at CB9 headquarters. I would hope that rather than incite panic and anger, they could alert the community to their concerns and do so without the vitriol. Here's their flyer:

In a stroke of marketing genius, MTOPP changed its name from the awkward Moratorium To Protect Prospect Park to Movement To Protect the People. Nicely done. And the picture that you see below? Effective propaganda. Now, you may think that I'm the one calling it propaganda and that I should be more objective in my portrayal of the rendering. Nope. When I right-clicked on the picture on their website and saved it to my desktop, guess what they had labeled it? You guessed it. The picture is entitled "propaganda." Probably not that far off the mark though...loving those Soviet colors! Look, if what's going on in Crown Heights is any indication, towers this size aren't far-fetched. Question is, in this that such a bad thing? I'm surprised they don't just take the big yellow storage space as is and sell 'em as studios...

Be Aware

Hey folks. A description from the 71st Precinct about an attempted rape makes it a bit more possible to stay alert. The guy's short (5' 3") and bald, and dark-skinned. That's a heck of a lot more to go on than the usual. Not that short, bald, dark-skinned guys are a bad lot, mind you, but this is serious stuff.

From Vinnie Martinos:

Last night a dark skin, bald head, 5'3 130lbs male did forcibly touch a female and ran away. Moments later same male followed a second female into her building on Rogers Ave. and attempted to rape her. Victim did scream and the residents of the building did scare the perp away. If anyone has any information on either of these crimes please contact the 71Pct detective at 718-735-0501.

Come Meet Candidate Diana Richardson - 2night!

Diana Richardson is a colleague of the Q's at the Community Board, and I highly recommend her as Democratic District Leader, a strange volunteer springboard job that gives her a voice on all matters Dem, including assigning poll workers and providing a voice at the County-City-State levels of the Party. This can be a big deal where judges are concerned, as they help decide who's on a ballot that they will undoubtedly win (they're Dems after all). Check her out - she's a take charge lady with her finger on the pulse.

For more info on what DL's actually do, clicky click.

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Jointz Galore

Seems August is a busy month for bi'ness on the Flabenue. The sign for "Cinnamon Girl" is up btw Midwood and Rutland, suggesting a not-too-long wait for its Neil Young memorabilia, and/or, as I recall from Mrs. Q's conversation with the owner, take-out goods and sundry essentials.

Then there's that drinky-eaty place on Beekman, truly a revolutionary concept given Beekman's sometime's checkered past. "Erv's" is what my spies say it'll be, and owners Rob and Cate (Kate?) are looking for a roughly Labor Day opening. It'll be a cafe and drinks spot.

Btw, by "spies" I mean pal to the Q Mark S. who also writes lovely pieces on local eateries and will undoubtedly be sampling the wares.

The Q welcomes our new neighbors and wishes them all the success in the world. And if THAT doesn't earn me some free foodstuffs, what will?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bluebird Cafe to Open Where DJ Oyster Didn't

Here's the poop on the Oyster. We knew, didn't we, that the name DJ Oyster would not stand up to scrutiny, especially after the Q's critical commenters weighed in. Bluebird Cafe has a nice ring to it, though I certainly hope that's not one of the main entree's. Oh what do I know, maybe Bluebirds are the new chicken in this crazy universe where cuisine is the new rock 'n' roll. Thanks to my spies, I'm able to bring this to you from 250 miles away as I sit on the steps of the town hall of tiny Sandgate, VT, so small it has no shops save the "Wayside" general store. This is the only internet for miles around, and cell phones don't reach us at the Corner House. And yet, I can't help but be drawn here to check up on y'all and wish Jim Mamary and his new bistro at 504 Flatbush a great run. In nearly a dozen years the refrains I've heard loudest have been that we need a good bistro (soon we'll have two, plus longtime cantina Lincoln Park) and a good coffee haus (we have three). But something tells me the complaints will keep on pouring like lemonade on a hot summer day. I guess if you're paying $1400 for a studio, things stick in your craw.

Thanks Mark S. for the Photo!