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.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hold 'Em To It!

Great to see Diana out there rubbing elbows with Jesse and Eric. Election behind, moving forward....

The Q was heartened a full house of elected officials in front of 60 Clarkson yesterday. BP Eric Adams, State Assembly Member Diana Richardson, State Senator Jesse Hamilton, Mathieu Eugene should all be familiar to you. Great messages. They're behind us. They're for bringing housing control back to the City from the State. They want the City to be held accountable for its worst practices, and landlords penalized for dicking-over tenants. They believe that housing should be the number one priority as we surge forward with an unprecedented display of building and development. And yes, gentrification. But all four elected are careful to avoid the sort of class and racial buzz words that create conflict where none should exist. What do I mean?

It should be possible to move a neighborhood forward economically without jeopardizing the contract made with the people who have lived and worked there longest. That's right. You don't need to be nasty to and about newcomers. And newcomers can embrace the old, with courtesy and dollars. Shop local. Get to know your neighbors. Step out of your comfort zone. Like...

There's a shit-ton of amazing food in the neighborhood. Perfect example. Have you TRIED Scoops? If you're a veggie, or even not, there is simply no reason to miss it. And it's right next to 626 Flatbush, y'all! Scoops should make a FORTUNE if all is right in the universe, with all the new professionals moving in. Brilliant Ital takeout? What's not to love? Go to Jus Fishy. Jamaican Pride. Peppas. Melany Da Hot Pot, De Bamboo Express. Try the great new and old bakeries on Nostrand and Rogers. Great new juices shops, like John and Jason's Brooklyn Greenery (5 star Average on that even possible?) and a cute place down by me on Flatbush next to the actually kinda great Rainbow store where I can get a salad too (lord knows I need it, right troll?). Erv's is a terrific little joint, owned and run by a dude in the 'hood down on mysterious Parkside Court. Bluebird & Midwood Flats get thumbs up from imbibers. Coffee places like Tugboat and ToTT and Cinnamon Girl and Blessings and Gratitude and Pels Pies and I.M. Pastry An old world hardware store where you can get your bike fixed (Hawthorne). An amazing computer repair dude (Abdo) and a comic shop (Maverick) on Parkside. One of a kind shopping boutiques (Sista, Tafari, Nykki's) a genuine toy store (PlayKids) and (rumors, rumors) a community bookstore coming (can't tell ya yet). New Mexican, new bars on the Flabenue coming. Parkside Plaza, the Parkside Trees, better traffic patterns, the two best playgrounds in Prospect Park (Lincoln and Imagination) Maple Street School and Lefferts Gardens Montessori and tons of great daycare centers. AND the world's greatest subway line (Q/B) and bus (B41) - and yes, I stand by that pronouncement having lived and worked all over this town. Working on the public schools. We'll get there.

And I can't forget...even if you DON'T take advantage of some of the most amazing hairdressers for kinky hair anywhere in the world, for God's sake appreciate it! So many salons, thriving, families hanging out, guys talking shit, music blaring, the West Indian festival, even Hot Yoga and co-work space (Compound). And yes, gyms (Planet Fitness and Blink). Wig shops. If you're white and don't get it, go rent Chris Rock's "Good Hair." Now. Blow your mind it will.

There will continue to be cultural comfort zones that prevent all groups from flourishing as more money comes to the neighborhood. But it doesn't have to be like that. Yes, some folks are going to move. But we don't have to accept harassment, or blatant racism, or replace every brilliant old-school joint with the latest and trendiest. There are hundreds of storefronts. Thousands of affordable rent-stabilized apartments. The second most outstanding park in the world. Lakeside. The Botanic Gardens. And yes, room to grow. I know that's not popular in some quarters, but if it's going to grow ANYway, by leaps and bounds as I've noted, then let's make sure we get affordable housing out of it, and smart planning along the RIGHT corridors. And protections for height and pollution and schools and...oy vey, been down that road a time or two.

Quite simply put we have an AWESOME opportunity to live the dream of a thriving, integrated neighborhood. And by integrated, I mean EVERY sort of person on the planet is welcome. Hell they're already here!

I hope we're up to the task.


Anonymous said...

One can appreciate the sentiment you're putting forward here. Its also nice to see you shout out some of the older establishment venues that have been serving the existing community here for decades. The newer, trendier places seem to get most of the attention. With that said, I don't think that conflict is unnecessary. Gentrification WILL lead to people being displaced, and that is something that those people have a right to be upset about.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Look. I'm a middle-timer. I like some of the old, I don't like some of the old. I like some of the new, I don't like some of the new. But this City has been changing, rapidly, since the Dutch got here and started screwing the Indians. It's not fair to lay blame on anyone but the immoral and the criminal, because we're all complicit on some level. When you decry gentrification with a blanket, you snuff out the conversation. You're not going to change anything fighting the people who give a shit and calling them names. On any side.

And let's set the record straight here. When you talk about "those" people, are you referring to people who have moved out because of legal or illegal reasons? There's a big difference. Anyone who's renting is ultimately at the whims of the market. Unless, of course, they're lucky enough to have a rent stabilized apartment, or get a means-tested place to begin with. Before moving to Clarkson, I never had that luck.

My whole time in NYC, and I'll bet most of you can concur, I've been tossed around like a spider in a bathtub, from one neighborhood and building to another. Usually, the reason for my "displacement" was cost and/or dickish landlords. It's not one color or culture that's screwed by rising rents and greedy bastards. That's why the Crown Heights Tenants Union makes a hell of a lot of sense to me.

But when you're harassed or illegally KICKED out, that's a big fucking problem and we have to deal with it. And when morally repugnant but not technically illegal but morally bereft, it needs to be made so. That's why I get involved in this stuff at all. I'm reasonable enough to recognize the limits of fighting capitalism.

I think there's a lot more conflict than is necessary, and I'll continue to call it that way. The Oligarchy takes pleasure seeing us fight ourselves and has always grown stronger from it. This country remains "stable" because we don't recognize our common causes. CHTU, which drew breath from OWS, is the first sign I've seen of a true coalition of interests. The race-baiting is one of the first things that has to go, though. My hero Sly Stone had a song that put it nicely, though I'd prefer not to write it here lest my detractors choose to attribute it to me.

Anonymous said...

"The Oligarchy takes pleasure seeing us fight ourselves and has always grown stronger from it."

You got that right brother. And agreed race-baiting at this point is wasted energy. The Oligarchs don't give a shit what color people they exploit for their profits. If they're poor/working/middle/lower upper class, they're prime candidates for a royal fuck. The rich have always fucked the poor. That's how they stay rich!

Gentrification sucks, but its not necessarily a "white"/"black" thing. It's a class/business/economics thing. I always get a kick out of people who mistakenly believe that Flatbush, or most other "black" neighborhoods in the city have always been that way. It's not so. Da Bush used to be a place full of Italians, Poles, Jews and regular old white folk before the West Indians displaced them. Barbara Streisand, The Fonz, & Bobby Fischer went to Erasmus back in the day. Everything goes in cycles. Everything is a version of something else. That's life baby!

Cautiously optimistic that Pols showed up and are saying the right things. Here hoping the actions match the words going forward.

Anonymous said...

First, amazing article. As one of the "gentrifying recent college graduate and young professionals" that moved to the area recently I have been dying to find this exact article. I found this blog a few weeks ago and it has been great at trying to catch up on how the neighborhood was and how it is changing. I want to be a part of the neighborhood and go to the local spots and not just let it be a place to sleep. I have been to Midwood Flats and Erv's, and been to Scoops (although I have tried to go on Sunday's more than I would like to admit...), but now I have another dozen places that I need to make it to!

Anonymous said...

While I don't dispute that there is a difference between those that are being displaced legally, versus those that are being displaced illegally, I don't agree with the sentiment that those that are being displaced legally don't have a right to be upset.

Yes, its economics. Economics is rarely fair. With that said though, those that have lived and worked in this community are watching it grow whiter, younger, and wealthier. They are watching their rents go up and their friends and families be pushed from the neighborhood that they have lived and worked in for decades. Whether this is by shitty landlords using illegal methods, or by market forces, I don't think it particularly matters much to you which one it is if you're on the receiving end of either.

I don't condone blaming the individuals that are coming to the neighborhood. It's certainly not their fault. Having grown up in this neighborhood, there are certainly elements of gentrification that I cheer. I like having nice new amenities in the neighborhood that are appealing to a young professional.

But also as a function of growing up here, I understand all too well what all of this represents to those of us that have lived here all their lives, that aren't young professionals and watch this tide of gentrification and see it as an existential threat. The new amenities aren't FOR them and what they represent is quite frankly, threatening.
These feelings are real, they are legitimate, and conflict with regard to these feelings are forces are going to be inevitable.

I think we should all just remember that, and be respectful. It's not all just race baiting and ignorance. Life isn't fair...and its ok to be upset about that sometimes.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Couldn't have put it better myself. If you don't believe that you and I are 100% in the same place, I'd encourage you to read back to the many, many, too many ways I've said the exact same thing.

And while it may be true that the new stores (amenities is such a wonky word) aren't "for" them, they're not "not" for them either. There's a learning curve all around. What I'm saying is that newcomers should get past their cultural shyness and dig in. Because there's a lot of places that SHOULD benefit from the money coming in, and I for one hope they do.

As to people feeling edged out by those with more resources...welcome to America. And no, it ain't always fair. That's why people like me write the stuff we do.

Unknown said...

This is a great post. Can you also remind folks that an actionable next step is to join the next Concerned Citizens meeting, where the community be discussing the scope and timing of the independent study initiative. (Wednesday, July 22nd at 7PM at 87 Fenimore St.)

jillie said...

The comic shop would be nice if they didn't act as if I were some two headed monster every time I went in and interrupted their gaming to ask if they have Saga or any of the other comics I'm currently reading... I love comics, I would shop there more if they actually bothered to carry ones that I'm asking about or even if they didn't treat me as if I were a bother so that I could browse.

fromla2bklyn said...

You missed a few things that you may want to try or maybe not but I wanted to share - some of my favorites.

Beef Patties from the bakery behind the bus stop between Clarkson and Parkside. Can't remember the exact name. EXCELLENT!

Bamboo Gardens LUNCH special is a steal at only $4 or $5 - It is Guyanese style Chinese food - definitely try the chicken and fried rice -Yum!

Melany Spanish food - they deliver and have excellent specials.

Also, SCOOPS doesn't start serving food until 1pm - just as a head's up they sell out quickly as well.

Strugglers Record Shop on Flatbush between Winthrop and Hawthorne makes awesome hand made t-shirts

As far as SCHOOLS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD we are zoned for Jackie Robinson or PS 92 dependent upon your address - do not send your children to Jackie - try your best to get them into PS 92 - --- or even better - ---try LGCS!!! Lefferts Gardens Charter School is a wonderful school - you can apply online just Google it.

Welcome to PLG ---- Or Flatbush ---where we say "Good Morning" and have a sense of community ---- Be a Part of it!!