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.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Spring Has Sprung: In Summer

The Brownstoner puts it better than I could. But let me just say that helping a project go from idea to fruition is perhaps the most satisfying thing one can experience. I used to get it making record albums. This, and I'm sure Mr. Rudy Delson and Ms. Amy Musick would agree, is simply a glorious feeling. Regardless of what the critics might say. Way to go David. Way to go neighborhood.

pic: Jeff Scherer for Brownstoner

Child and Nanny Hit By Car Crossing Flatbush

And then there's THIS intersection

Daily News on Accident

Can't begin to say how glad to hear that the child survived. This is a tough, tough intersection, what with all the dollar vans and buses and turns and pedestrians. The only thing that I see that routinely flips me out is the enormous numbers of jaywalkers across Flatbush to get too and from the train. Perhaps another stoplight? Or as Ed Fanning was working on, and different placement for the express bus?

Jeff Bachner pic of Marcia Forde, who was hit in crash

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Refresh the Seal

From a neighbor came a note so utterly unexpected, I just had to post on his behalf. Thanks Chris! I can honestly say this was way, way, way off my radar. It's this kind of thing that makes me so glad I started a blog in the first place.

are those squirrels getting caught in a Dutch windmill? and a yo-yo in the hand of Dutch-man?

As a candidate in the 2014 New York City mayoral race, Bill de Blasio deployed a campaign strategy that vocalized the polarization of the City of New York. Like the Dickensian portrayal of conflict between French peasantry and aristocracy, Candidate de Blasio’s iteration of class in contention called attention to the expansion of the “inequality gap” after the Great Recession of 2008. Pointing to the recovery of Wall Street on one hand and the struggle of millions of New Yorkers on the other, Candidate de Blasio was buoyed to Mayor de Blasio.

In the infancy of his first term, Mayor de Blasio announced the intent of his administration to refresh the relationship between the City of New York and its constituents. At his Inauguration, the newly sworn-in mayor promised to “give life to the hope of so many in our city.” A series of launches in 2014 further revealed the content of his intent- the signing of legislation to lower the citywide speed limit to 25 miles per hour, the re-commitment to reducing the homeless veteran population to zero by the end of 2015, and the initiative to impact student learning in 94 of the City’s most troubled schools.

The Mayor’s “refresh strategy” reveals the absence of an intention to refresh the Seal of the City of New York, the hub of government and the City itself. Like the contestation for place (equitable vs. biased, zero vs. multiple, renewal vs. exhaustion), the Seal depicts a cosmos in contention. When examining the Shield, does the windmill resemble St. Andrew’s Cross (“saltire wise”) or the gammadion cross? Does the Latin Motto translate, “The Seal of the City of New York” or “The Seal of the new City of York”? And is the “American Eagle with wings displayed” in flight or alighting “upon a hemisphere”?

On the 100th anniversary of the unanimous decision by the Board of Aldermen to re-establish the Seal of the City of New York, refreshing the Seal provides the Mayor and City Council with the opportunity to jointly demonstrate their commitment to reconciling the two cities. The following three recommendations provide a start:
  1. Clarify, the custodial duties of the Office of the Clerk to ensure the standardization of the Seal; too many variations of the Seal exist in the City;
  2. Update, the visual appearance of the Seal to reflect modern heraldic practice; in its current iteration, the Seal appears two-dimensional and unfinished; and
  3. Commemorate, the sovereignty of the City of New York through an annual flag day on the 15th day of June; the federal government celebrates the Declaration of Independence annually through the 4th of July holiday.
The reconciliation of polarity in the City of New York through a refreshed Seal will not only institutionalize the Mayor’s “One City”, it will energize constituents and inspire other big cities to do the same. Mayor de Blasio demonstrated in his first year that 2014 was the year of refreshing relationships. 2015 ought to be the year to: Refresh The Seal!
Meet in The Middle,

ChrisM Jones 
Light Makes Right
Centennial Anniversary of the Seal of the City of New York
June 24, 2015


From Five Brothers 99 cent store, to Bubble Land. And in between, we saw the ancient sign under the banner that showed this was once a corner drug store. Probably from the '50s I'd say. Remember when that note hung on Five Brothers saying "went home to deal with death in the family?" Home was apparently Yemen, a country ravaged by war. The lives being led by the people all around us are so intense and varied. Never ceases to amaze. This is the promise of the experiment called NYC.

Flatbush at Woodruff.

Friday, June 26, 2015

And In This Corner...

DNA Info on Shooting Stats

Despite the frank talk of community policing, mediation and lesser police presence, the fact remains that shootings in the 70th Precinct are up more than 60% over last year. That's deep in the heart of Flatbush, object of the preposition Equality Of. The number of shootings remains relatively low historically, and the double-digit numbers are not big enough to count out percent gains as mere aberrations, both geographical and numerical. But if you're living in Flatbush, particularly central Flatbush and Ditmas Park, and you pay attention to each incident as it comes, you could be forgiven for thinking things have taken a major turn for the worse. And yeah, for the record, though I don't find it particularly germane, it's mostly people of color shooting people of color. It would be pretty hard (as I heard one commentator say on Crap TV) that America is heading into a race war. From my 48 year old 27-year resident of Brooklyn brain, I'd say business has not changed a great deal in recent years. The races are no more at armed war than they have ever been. But if the word "war" could be changed to "calamitous crisis," I wouldn't hesitate to agree.

The 70th is hot right now. But...and this is a big butt (in keeping with the Q's favorite ass-obsessed gadfly), you've got other nearby precincts experiencing big drops, like in East Flatbush and Brownsville. Can't neglect to mention the 70th has an increase though. Might look like I'd lost my objectivity had I skipped it. (that's a joke; there's no such thing as objectivity, and I can prove it, beyond a shadow of a doubt. that's a joke too.)

I note, if only for my own benefit, four distinct solutions that were presented in detail at the meeting on Wednesday. Some combination might even prove effective.

1: More cops on the streets
2: Less cops and "broken windows," better policing, sensitivity, cultural awareness, fairness
3: More mediation, restorative justice, compassion for the emotional and social support needs of young people, translated into on-the-ground programs
4: Jobs, training, community centers, playgrounds and constructive stuff for folks to do as they mature.

But you know, the cynic in me sees some missed points. Like, it's not all young people committing crimes. Sometimes it's not even drug or gang or youth related. Fancy that! Drug abuse and drug dealing is a big part of the local economy - can't imagine it's MORE so than usual, or even particularly more than the average suburb, per capita. And also, it's not like you can just try "less cops" in a neighborhood and expect crime to drop. Or can you? Certainly decriminalizing narcotics could take some of the cowboy-mentality out of drug dealing. Who knows? I have a feeling we're going to have to try it at some point. Because business-as-usual is basically Jim Crow for the modern age.

I do know we'll never entirely end senseless violence. There's definitely a number below which crime can't really go. It's too much part of human nature. It is a certain kind of crime - particularly shootings in broad daylight - that will never go down easy. Access to guns, boiling over immature resentments, racial policing and policies, pathologizing blackness, poverty, lack of employment, poor schools, broken families, bad parenting, young parenting..haven't we heard enough reasons to believe they're all right to some degree and in some instances, but the overriding fact is that the country hasn't gotten nearly as far on race as it has on gay rights?

Caribbean Bouquet

Man these are awesome (below). If you haven't experienced Labor Day Weekend around here, you're in for a treat. The costumes are so spectacular, the mood so festive, it's contagious. Yes, there are often outbursts of violence and we always hope this year will be different. But anytime you have a party of half a million people spread over a couple square miles, I'm afraid it's somewhat inevitable. So don't believe the hype. West Indian Day is the biggest and brightest NYC celebration, to rival New Orleans' Carnival. Plus J'ouvert, which is quite simply an all night mind-blower.

From a neighbor:

Alicia, one of the costumers for this year's Caribbean Day Parade, will had a preview of her work on display for the public today (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) after 4PM until about 7PM at The Place. (The Q was sadly too busy to post promptly, but I hope a lot of you stopped in to ogle. Just check out these beauties!)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Our Meeting Covered Better Than I Could've

Gothamist was there with the deets. Below is an excerpt from writer Nathan Tempey, who took way better notes than I could ever hope to take. So I'm happy to let his be the public record.

Suffice to say that Rebecca Fitting (and I) called the meeting to look for action items and solutions, in collaboration with the 70th, 71st and 67th Precincts, since we live at the intersection of those three. I chaired only to try to moderate, but in retrospect it really wasn't our meeting, and I got the evil eye from a number of attendees. Equality for Flatbush and Imani Henry used the opportunity to push their agenda. Which...was...fine. I felt bad that the precincts were called to a meeting where their tactics would be berated, but hey, they can take it, they're the cops. Still, the group's activism, much like MTOPP's, railroads most discussions into the direction it wants it to go. Apparently we're racist for having called it at all and for not inviting them. Whatever. E4F got their forum. Next time, though, I hope to do something where a wider range of opinions are allowed. Because as neighbor Cheryl Sealey related, all this talk about systemic change is fine. But some of us also want to walk down the street without fearing gun battles. Now, not in a Utopian future. A hard line, I know, but worth noting.

A meeting about crime in Prospect Lefferts Gardens became a referendum on Broken Windows policing when a dozen or so of the 60 residents in attendance sounded off to NYPD reps about what they say are racist and overly-aggressive policing tactics in the area. Several spoke out against the recently announced plan to hire another 1,300 cops in the next year, which coincides with Summer All Out, a program to flood high-violence areas—including the 67th Precinct, which encompasses East Flatbush and part of Lefferts—with cops who would normally be on desk duty.
Early on, one black woman in attendance said she opposed any calls for more police that might come out of the meeting, so long as low-level enforcement is disproportionately aimed at young men of color.
"I have three nephews that are grown," said Vena Moore, a 15-year neighborhood resident and Brooklyn native, to the officers who attended the meeting from the 70th, 71st, and 67th precincts. "They get harassed by cops periodically, and if we're going to have more of that kind of policing with additional cops, then I don't want more cops."
Responding to that concern, raised by her and others in the audience, Det. Robert Thybulle of the 67th Precinct said that some 500-700 officers are headed for retirement in the next year, so the hiring spree is really not a huge gain. Plus, he said, "personally, I think more police can only be good."
Circling back around to the issue after being pressed further, Thybulle, who is African-American, cited the sensitivity training he received at the Police Academy. "I had to do a report on Germany and German society. I had to look at everything related to the food, to the culture, to everything. Everyone goes through that in the Police Academy."
When I caught up to him in the lobby for more information, Det. Thybulle explained that he attended the academy in 1999, and that the project took 2-3 weeks of his 6-month training as a cadet. Thybulle noted that the department added a new, three-day sensitivity training for all officers last winter, a change that came in the wake of a grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner.
Back in the sweltering basement, meeting attendees shared alarming stories of police misconduct (none could immediately be independently verified). A white woman described being ticketed for being in Prospect Park after dark with her Puerto Rican boyfriend by a cop who asked, "What's a nice girl like you doing in this neighborhood?" then implied that he was making errors on her ticket so that she could get off, but stuck it to her boyfriend.
A longtime resident, Aaliyah Lessey, told of sitting down on a park bench off of Ocean Avenue around 5 p.m. one day, then being ticketed along with everyone else in the park for an unspecified violation. Having known many of the neighborhood officers, she was flabbergasted when one she'd never met asked for her ID and came back with a summons. "If I was smoking or drinking, it was fine, but I wasn't doing nothing," she said. She said a judge dismissed the summons after taking one look at it. Others bemoaned the shutting-down of a longstanding block party, a move the 70th Precinct's Lt. Jacqueline Bourne said was due to a brawl. Equality for Flatbush activist Imani Henry described an hour of monitoring a checkpoint at Flatbush and Church avenues in 2014, during which police stopped only one white driver, and only after cops spotted him talking to cop watchers. Audience members began to raise their voices as the police on hand avoided their questions, saying they couldn't comment on incidents without knowing the particulars, and encouraging the aggrieved to call Internal Affairs and the Civilian Complaint Review Board.

To read more, you know what to do.

Beware the "Negotiate Outside the System" Tactic

A while back, I noted that a neighbor is getting pressure to move, despite that they're already paying roughly market rate. To the Q, this is proof positive that the upward pressure in the neighborhood and for the outsize valuations of buildings is all about speculation. How else can describe trying to pressure or buy out tenants spending well more than $1,000 on their apartments? Given that an apartment in the $1K to $2K range suggests middle class income, that's not the way the pressure is headed. In fact, we seem to be skipping right over a huge part of what's driving Brooklyn's housing shortage. So while the rich and the working poor get the majority of ink, this story is one that I can continue to follow closely.

From the neighbor who wrote a previous note (reprinted below for context).

NOW: Just an update on [my] saga. Someone from management just called me asking (gently pressuring) to settle/negotiate outside of the system, by arguing that he would like to spare me the prolonged ordeal of going thru the system, since he has all the "receipts for the work". This is blatant pressure but I am not even sure if going thru the system is a guarantee I get justice considering their immense resources in faking their paper trail. Him wanting to desperately negotiate outside of the system is an indication that he knows they don't have all their ducks in a row. 

THEN: I have been meaning to write for a long time regarding rent stabilization in part because of my personal experience and itch for urban justice. Your latest post hit it on the nail and I think one of the most critical things to do is INFORM, much like CHTU is attempting with the tenant alliances. 

When we moved into the neighborhood in 2012 our rent for a 2 bedroom rent-stabilized apartment was $1800. It had patina of some "renovations" to justify the Apartment Improvement increase on top of the vacancy allowance increase. They had painted over the bathroom tiles, over textured wall paper in the bedroom and some other shitty repairs that in no way justify what should be over 50k in renovations according to the increase from $950 the previous tenant was paying. The urban housing agency provides a handy excel calculator for doing the math and with even the most generous allocations my rent increase should not have exceeded $1300. I asked the management for receipts of work done but they ignored it. After a year we signed a renewal lease. I have yet to receive the renewal counter signed lease from them. I have now filed papers with the city to have the matter looked into but I am not holding my breath. 

Now I can certainly afford to pay $1800 but I was furious that I was being had and that ultimately in a few years I would be out of luck when that apartment went out of Rent Stabilization. The reason I am writing is that I feel many others are in a similar situation and simply don't care or don't know their rights and expectations and that ultimately they contribute to the erosion of affordable housing in this city and not just our neighborhood. Also, it a major factor is fear: there are occasions where filing against a landlord gets you in a blacklist. So many tenants are hesitant to stick their neck out there which is why some of the advocate agencies are so important in leading the crusade.

So, while you have linked to some of the resources in combating this I think it would be great to devote a post for the nuts and bolts of navigating the bureaucracy of getting a rent history, calculating the allowable rent increase and then partnering with the advocates you call out like CHTU. My fear is that everyone thinks "Hey, this doesn't concern me... $1800 rent is acceptable" without realizing the tenant before had significant lower rent. Some landlords are in fact doing a bang up job of repairing apartments: I saw a 1 bedroom at 100 Lefferts that left me breathless which in that case I would almost accept the reality of raised rent. But in most cases they are calling a fresh coat of paint MAJOR renovations and no one is checking. This is egregious abuse of the allocations. 

Well, hope you made it till here. Below is the link to the vacancy rent calculator. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The PTA, the CB & the SLA

Been a strange 48 hours. First, the Q got to witness up-close-and-personal the machinations of a diverse school's contested PTA elections. Things got a bit ugly, regulations weren't followed precisely, and the turnout was like 10 times what you'd see for a normal PTA meeting. The lines were drawn and the gloves were off. Luckily, a rep from the district was there to run the meeting, or all hell would have broken loose. It can't be stressed enough how important it is to have a Chairperson who knows how to run a meeting. Until the last year I never really got that. Controlling the mic, controlling the tenor of the room, showing fairness but being firm. It's a lot like the performative part of teaching.

And while I kept saying to myself "It's just the PTA, y'all, no reason to bust a gut" it was, in fact, democracy in action, one of the few places that the feelings under-the-surface have a chance to rise and be counted. Actually physically counted. In the case of the PTA, about 2/3 of the school wanted to stay the course, and 1/3 favored the incoming slate of reformers. Insults, accusations, hurt feelings, the whole nine. It's interesting to me that in a place where our children are being taught and encouraged to be good citizens, we sometimes have a hard time leading by example. It's still the sandbox, even in middle age. Sand kicked, toys stolen, some sharing, some bossing, some just playing off by themselves. The mature, or the wizened, rise to the occasion. I want to be that guy. I'm getting better, but I've got a long, long way to go. And I'm pushing 50. Gotta get a Zen Master to guide my primal urges to tell everyone to shut the hell up, grow a pair, or go back to finishing school.

Last night, at the CB9 annual election, things were SO much calmer than they've been in months. Why, you ask? Well, a certain agitator is on vacation. That's right, Alicia Boyd is off somewhere, probably AirBnB'ing and enjoying upscale amenities somewhere. So the meeting, while more than 4 hours long, was the most productive and civil in recent memory.

Who's your new Executive Committee that will get to have insults hurled at it?

President: Demetrius Lawrence
Secretary: Stuart Balberg
Treasurer: Simone Bennett
1st Vice Chair: Patrica Moses (somebody who I've never met and seems to have come out of nowhere to beat longtime chair Jake Goldstein)
2nd Vice Chair: Denise Mann
Members at Large: (once again) Jacqueline Welch and Evelyn Williams

Just because I happen to know most of who voted for Jake and me (I ran for Treasurer), and because our votes were nearly identical (21-13 against), I can honestly say that voting happened largely along racial lines. I have no hard feelings about that, but it does sadden me. It's what it is. In our district, I find myself voting for black candidates all the time, but if you're black, I think it's very hard to cross the racial divide. And this is not at all surprising or worrisome to me, just means we have a long way to go. In a country that's dominated by whites and white culture, it's reassuring that there are still places where minority candidates and minority owned businesses have a chance to thrive. Though I tell you straight up because I don't know how to do it any other way - my opponent Simone Bennett ran this year's Transportation Committee and did nothing. I'm not sure why she gets rewarded for that, except for all the noise I make at meetings and here I guess I'm not held in too high esteem. But yeah, Simone held one meeting, then attacked DOT publicly about something she had no knowledge of, then didn't even show up for the final committee meeting which was basically chaired by Ed Fanning since he knew what he was doing, despite having been kicked off the Board by the BP for no reason other than, I don't know actually. A really bad move if you ask me. I even wrote the BP a letter about it. Dumb. You don't kick off your most committed and highly prepared and qualified chairs! Crazy, but there you are. And they didn't reappoint Mike Cetera, who along with Pearl and Jake basically held down the fort for years. This is how you're repayed. And Mike was still working on very cool project. Yuch, yuck and youghk.

(So no, the Q ain't mad, he's actually relieved not to have to go to any more meetings than he already does. Still I was looking forward to having my own piggy bank to spend on pencils and bonbons. Did I write or think that? I wish the new Exec well, and hope to chair something that I feel strongly about.)

Now to the good stuff. Liquor. Beer. Wine. And prohibitionists. As in there were many liquor license requests, either new or renewal. That Mexican joint Oaxaca on Rogers and Sterling. A local bar for Union & Franklin. A renewal on Utica (VChris) that the cops said shouldn't happen, since there's too much ugliness, you know, assaults and the like. A couple ma and pa's want renewals. A joint wants to add beer & wine to a diverse set of offerings. The applicants were absurdly diverse in business plan and ethnicity. All good, right?

Turns out that the bar at Franklin and Union is in a notorious building, whose attitude is Gentrify or Bust. The bar works for its "business strategy." It causes fear and loathing among many longtime residents. The bar OWNERS just want to make some dough with their fourth bar in Brooklyn. They seem earnest and intent on being a good neighbor. After much lively back and forth, the Board (rightly) chose to grant the liquor license by a 2-1 margin, even as a dozen or so voted against it, citing everything from a "glut of bars" to "the community doesn't want it." I guess the market itself will determine the second one. And frankly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if we don't see a bunch of joints along that stretch. As long as they follow the SLA rules though, it's gonna be hard to imagine that even with CB disapproval they're gonna get turned down. There's just no justifiable reason to stop a decent business from

Oh hell I'm already thinking about the crime meeting that happened tonight. Basically, Rebecca's brilliant organizing meant that a lot of people pissed at the cops were given a bevy of cops to sound off to. Even when I was sitting there saying nothing, I was getting the hairy "I'll mess you up, m.f." from some joker in the second row. That's what you get for calling a meeting. Gruff and Bluff.

But honestly, most of what was said needed to be said, though it would've been nice if the "Cops Watch" folks, with Imani Henry - chapeaued and pacing back and forth in the lead, would've dropped the tone down a notch so the police might actually be persuaded to work with them. Imani's group will meet July 18 at the Flatbush branch library, in the afternoon. They're called Equality for Flatbush, and the dude seriously hates me so I see no reason to write anymore about it. Can't even look me in the eye. It's sad really, Mr. Social Worker who loves to call people racist/sexist/fascist. I do wish him well though. Most of what he says is spot on. He could stand to buy a new hat though. That one's none too flattering. You just need someone honest enough to say it. Consider yourself served.

I'm bailing on this post...g'night.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Great! Another Stellar Landlord Neighbor

photo: Joanna Purpich/Gothamist. trash: Bushburg

Did you catch this piece about Bushburg Realty? They buy a building complex in Bed-Stuy for (holy crap) $38 million. Residents have long complained about conditions there, so they were hopeful that the promised upgrades would benefit them. It's a Mitchell Lama building, designed when built to be affordable housing. Means-tested housing. To a certain degree, if fit the bill for many, many years. Now, investors see $$$. No surprises. More of the same. I'm pretty sure super-tall Tivoli Towers north of Empire is dealing with the same messola.

Sure glad landlords like THAT don't do business on MY block. Oy gevalt, what's that you say? They're the developer of 50 Clarkson, the vacant lot that has that lovely graffiti-covered wall of falling down plywood on rat infested unsecured premises? You don't say? Well boy howdy, looks like 60 Clarkson has a neighbor! A pal. A buddy. A comrade.

And you wonder why the Q sounds cynical sometimes. There's a shyster or two or ten on every friggin' block right now, smelling profits, laying turds.

Tonight - CB9 Elections; Tomorrow - Meeting on Crime

Well alright! Coming into the end of the school year, and dang are my arms tired.

Tonight the Board formalizes whom will lead and in what capacity. Yours truly is running for treasurer, but I've been a polarizing figure and don't expect to win. Would be nice to be part of the agenda-making body, but also happy to continue as a committee chair. What a wild ride. I'm beginning to think we'll be turning the corner. And yes, you know who plans to come out and cause trouble. God bless the 1st Amendment.

The agenda for tonight's meeting at the School for the Deaf up near the Brooklyn Museum is here. If controversy is your thing, tonight there will be a crowd opposing the granting of a liquor license to a new bar at Union and Franklin. Despite the fact that we met with the owners and determined they are highly qualified to run such a place and have no history of criminality or disorderly conduct, some in the community will assert that they are a bad influence on rising rents. child safety and gentrification. And while the landlord of the building is clearly on a mission to remake the corner, in my view the business itself is hardly liable. Trying to control the economic activity of the neighborhood is not the way to keep people in their homes, legally speaking. There simply aren't the same regulations against running a business of your choice as there are for harassing tenants.

With bars, I get it. People are concerned about kids and drunkenness. But the bar is legally far enough away from schools and churches. And frankly, it's liquor stores that concern me more in terms of public safety. Though, truth be told, it's NYC, and I don't worry about THAT too much. The cops should to a better job of keeping public drunkenness off the streets, if only for safety and the belligerence of some alcoholics. Hey, we ALL know how that goes now, don't we? Been to a family reunion lately?

Then on Wednesday come out for the following crime forum. Should be a good conversation, hopefully with some potential solutions and action items. All are invited and encouraged to attend and share.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

How Bout Them Trees?

David Eppley is deep into remaking the trees. Having worked more than a dozen middle-school students, he's been enjoying greeting the kids as he places the "flowers" that they've made. Given insurance issues, Eppley is doing all the application himself on a ladder. A scissor lift, so said the short-sighted insurers, was out of the questions. Better, apparently, to do dangerous work on a much less sturdy piece of equipment. Sigh.

Anyhow, here's where we're at. He'll be working through the weekend, so head on out and say hi.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Promoted Comment About Park Car Closing

I didn't want to let this get lost, cause I'd actually like to hear what y'all think, so I promoted it from comment to post. The Q has some thoughts on the West Side car traffic closures, because I think some folks are thinking we've been shafted for being poor.

Anon 4:24. That's not what I said. In terms of this particular issue, I think it would be wrong to make the claim that richer nabes get what they want, and we get the short end. Let me tell you what they have over in Park Slope, and increasingly in Windsor Terrace. They have strong, consistent, well-run organizations. They have political connections. They have a powerful and productive Community Board (CB6). Most importantly, they have respected City leaders. We have none of those. And you can GET all of those things without piles of cash (though it never hurts, I'll admit!)

The City does not generally "bestow" services and changes upon neighborhoods. I've learned it's much more reactive than proactive. It's a big City and there are limited resources and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you present a strong, coherent proposal - like, say, the narrowing of intersections parallel to Flatbush north of GAP, DOT will do it. If you have a strong Merchant's or Civic Association or BID and you want to do an attractive median and bike lanes and smarter traffic (like Vandervilt). And if you want a protected bike lane and two rather than three lanes of traffic along a major travel route - like PPW, you can get it, despite an intense car lobby. Individuals are often behind this stuff. Passionate, committee people who stick it out and put the pieces together.

So far, in regards to closing traffic on the east side of the park I've seen an online petition. Which (we should all get used to knowing this) is an extremely ineffective way to get things done. Who even saw it? I mean, I can get 500 signatures to build a giant Wicker Man and burn it in the Nethermead, but that doesn't mean it gets done. Hey, ask Seth Kaplan how easy it is to get what you want for PPW when you don't have the organization behind you, the political will. It's a bitch and a half. And you can come off sounding like some crazy guy if you don't rally people around you in a coherent and thoughtful manner.

PLGNA and CB9, and CB14, must make this a priority. Better yet, Diana Richardson and Jessie Hamilton, because you know damn well Mr. Cheap Suit Eugene ain't gonna take the lead, call meetings, get involved, talk to the Mayor. Hell, he drives from Canarsie to work every day. Because he Canarsie. And loves his car. And doesn't know shit from Shinola.

Guys, this is about leadership and organization. Sure, the Mayor will eventually close our side of the park. But it will be DESPITE the lack of commitment on our part, not because of it. It'll happen because it's insane not to. And still the drivers from Flatbush and Flatlands and Midwout and even the Island of Staten will blow a gasket. And if THEY have strong leaders and organizations behind them they might get there way too.

So yeah, rich neighborhoods get more attention. But it's because they DEMAND it. We may have pent up demand, but until people start really getting involved, nothing's gonna happen. Look at Delson and his crew and the plaza at Parkside. You think that was going to happen in a vacuum? And he EVEN got Eugene to kick in dough. That's right, he kissed enough ass and made it clear this was a photo-op. Because Rudy Delson is a go-getter. Like Amy Musick. Or Quest Fanning. Or Cheryl Sealey and Brenda Edwards and Celeste Lacy-Davis and Alex Ely and Skei Saulnier and Richard Green and Carrie McLaren and Warren Berke and Diana Richardson and Renata Gomes and Renee Ciconne and Siobhan and Marvin and Eppley and Esteban and Kaplan yes, yes, yes Alicia Boyd. Gotta give it up there for gumption, fortitude and attention to detail. Tons of others. But on this issue, I just don't see the effort. It'll come. I double-dare ya!

Sorry if I sound preachy. It's just that I've spent the last few years learning how this stuff works, and you can whine all you want about being the poor and black side of the park that gets shafted. Or you can do something about it. What kills me is that it's so often white people complaining about how the poor, black side of the park gets the raw deal. Like, what the hell are you doing about it?

Go on. Bring the love or hate in the comments! Someone's gonna step up. Or just disagree with my analysis, watch how little positive, progressive change takes place.

Mayor Closes Half the Park To Traffic

Here's the story.

And here's the beef, per reader JDB:

"For someone who lives on the East side of Prospect Park, I find this proposal to be outrageous. The Mayor talks often about two New Yorks, this proposal only exacerbates that problem. Already, Prospect Park West is a one way road with a wonderful bike path and plentiful parking. Compare that with Ocean Avenue on the East side of the Park, which is basically a four lane highway in two directions and no bike path. Moreover, there is constant running of red lights on the street due to lax enforcement. Now the Mayor wants to compound that inequity by creating a more peaceful, safer, and environmentally friendly West side of the park without giving any relief to those on the East side of the park. Let's not forget the demographic differences: the West side of the park is predominantly white and wealthy and the East side of the park is predominantly minority and poor. Hopefully, the Mayor will be open to discussions about this proposal and decide to cut car traffic from the entire park so all New Yorkers can equally enjoy the park."

While I happen to be highly in favor of closing the park to all traffic, I think it's a mistake to make this a Tale of Two Cities. The park's drives have been closed in stages. Various entrances and exits have gone the way of the Dodo. And at each new bit of closings, various constituencies have complained. The direction is clear; one day, hopefully very soon, non-City vehicles will be outlawed, except to Park in the Lakeside parking lot. Or with special permits for special events.

But not everyone agrees, certainly not the hundreds of drivers who use the park every day. Believe me, they're there! I negotiate them every morning on my way to work and kid's school near Barclay's. But if this were really a matter of minority or poorer sides of park being neglected, how do you explain Lakeside and the wonderful new amenities on "our" side of the Park? The Drummer's Grove? The Lake itself? The Carousel and Zoo and Leffert's House, all in great shape and super popular? Even the Oriental Pavillion is going to get another sprucing up.

I think what's really going on is a political calculation, since morning traffic on the east side is twice as great as in the evenings. Park Slope, more bike-centric and anti-auto, won't complain too much. Then close it down over here when people start to get used to the no-traffic thing. Trust me, there are some who will put up a fight for the auto! I deal with them all the time over at CB9.

And here's the thing. Now's the time to come out in support of a full closure! Demonstrate! Call the Mayor's office! I'm just not so sure it's the right time to pull out the "poor and black" card, which as we know is becoming less and less accurate all the time anyway.

A Post About Charleston

The Q kept trying to think of something useful or unique to say about the terrorist killings in Charleston. I couldn't think of anything. If you've seen the beginning of Selma, maybe you got that punch in the gut feeling when you heard the news. I just hope the mainstream media don't excuse this as another "lone madman" thing, rather than look at the deeply troubling issues of guns and racial hatred.

I don't know how to do a moment of silence on the internet. Maybe just shutting up now will suffice.

Improvements Coming To Ocean/Parkside. Again.

Hard to believe, but it's been three years since the DOT heard our call and made some fairly effective, but not effective enough, changes at the ever-nuts intersection of Parkside and Ocean Avenues. You know, right at our beloved Q Plaza? Right at the entrance to the Park?

It may surprise newcomers, but it used to be even worse. One of the best fixes was to close the entrance to the park to vehicles, followed by making the intersection much smaller with those cones and lines to guide cars to where they need to go. The chancges with the pedestrian lights have slowed traffic a bit, but it's still up to the walkers to alert cars that they're there. I often raise my hand to alert drivers with poor sight-lines. You know what I'm talking about. Even after you get the hang of the weirdness of having to wait to cross from the Q to the Park, even though the red has stopped traffic going south, you have to wait for speeders rounding the bend. And then, of course, they get to keep coming while you step out into the street. And forget about going from the Park south, even when the dedicated green arrow is happening, which always surprises me still after three years of walking or riding it. Plus, there's absolutely NO acknowledgment that tons of bikes come in and out at an angle. And the occasional vehicle.

So. DOT came back Tuesday evening to the Transportation Committee at CB9 to suggest a few more improvements, all of which passed committee and will hopefully get the greenlight at the full Board meeting next Tuesday. I say hopefully, because many Board members are car zealots. Like many New Yorkers, some on the Board feel that cars and parking are always the losers in any changes taking place, from DOT to residential development to bike lanes etc. Last year they voted down two sensible fixes that would have aided pedestrians and bicycles, while not hindering traffic in the slightest. It was quite shameful really.

So, I encourage you all to come out on Tuesday at the School for the Deaf (insert CB9 joke at the expense of deaf people here) near the Brooklyn Museum for the full Board meeting to voice your support. Here's the pic of changes from the DOT, which includes better signal management and a pedestrian median on Ocean. (Apparently there isn't room on the Parkside corner).

I'll continue to lobby for a full stop for ALL cars to allow pedestrians a cycle to walk in all directions. To my mind, this is an entrance to the Park, not a commuter speedway. DOT claims they can't do it, since it will snarl traffic. Yes, we must help traffic flow best it can. But let's be honest, there'll just be more and more cars as time ticks forward. And pedestrians too. It's time to give walkers and bikers a fighting chance to survive one of the most frustrating intersections in the whole borough.

So call the CB9 office ahead of time at 718-778-9279, or email Pearl Miles for a 3 minute spot to speak up.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oaxaca Rising

There's a new cowboy in town, name of Oaxaca. With picante pistols at his side, he plans to take Sterling 'n' Rogers in a blaze of fiery fish flautas.

Thx Mark S for the photo. It kinda looks an old west Saloon. Needs swinging half doors.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Clove Road Getting Stoned

From Rachel and DNA Info comes yet another example of why it's a tragedy that Mike Cetera wasn't reappointed to Community Board 9. Mike found an artist who's working pro bono to place a giant history stone, and Kenitchi Hiratsuka is his name-o. Check out his site, yo.

Mike's commitment (some would call it obsession) to determining the exact history of Clove Road, and of giving it the commemoration it deserves, is nothing short of rockin'. To those who don't know, you can also thank Cetera for the beauty that it is Eastern Parkway. He fought hard to keep it from being turned into highway back in the '70s.

More on Clove and Malbone (you knew Empire Blvd used to Malbone, right? As in the infamous Malbone Train Wreck at our beloved Q/B/S station? You don't? Get crackin'!). And if you haven't even SEEN contemporary Clove Road, walk on over and check it out. It's a serious slice of history wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a controversy as to how to deal with it now.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Extraordinary Food on Rogers

Dang. Me and Rudy just came back from a truly mind-blowing dinner at The Food Sermon. It's at 355 Rogers, one block above Empire. I know, I know, Caribbean food in Crofferts, big whoop. But Rawlston Williams and his chef make incredible dishes, like the Island Bowl where you pick your protein and sauce and rice and a beautiful, fresh and tasty salad. Drink the sorrel - it's the perfect blend of sweet and tang. I don't write about food, and you have no reason to trust my Neanderthal palate. Just do yourself a favor and go. It's small, you'll sit along the window. But trust me word is out and only gonna get outer.

Think An Uptick In Shootings Is About Stop & Frisk? Think Again

This Chart Begs A Ton Of Questions

Wow. What a great article. Thx for sending, PG! The first question...if the police were making nearly 700,000 stops in 2011, and just 45,000 last year...what are they doing with all that extra time?

More to the point, while we are experiencing one of those awful closing-in-on-you feelings, the City in general (there's a great interactive map in that article that I can't embed) seems to be seeing an uptick in certain precincts, but certainly not all over. Well, I suppose that would be the case in any situation where Citywide went up. Though even in the nearby precincts, until recently, the levels were pretty level. Plus, murders went down even as stops & frisks dropped dramatically.

Anyhoo, thought I'd share lest we all get caught up in some sort of frenzy about what S&F did or didn't do for violent crime statistics.

More Violence On Flatbush

Four shot outside "restaurant." Oy gevalt. What does anyone know about this one? Near Winthrop, I'm told. No one dead, so we hear.

UPDATE: Definitely not related to the bad guy shooting two early mornings before. D Avenue is cooperating, and arrests are imminent.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Follow-Up Meeting on Crime: June 24

The Q was worried that this follow-up meeting on crime in the neighborhood would get lost after a couple weeks of quiet. Surprise! Another shooting/murder, this time on Flatbush between Parkside and Woodruff, and we're starting to look like savants!

Join Rebecca F., me, and members of local law enforcement for a follow-up to our meeting on April 20, wherein Eric Adams spent some time telling us how best to organize. Since then, Rebecca has done a great job working with a few committed neighbors on creating a "hot spots" map that can be shared with the precincts. Part of the idea is to hold the PsTB (powers that be) responsible for improving the safety of certain corners and buildings. If we say "there's a real problem with drugs and gangs at the corner of X&Y," we hope they'll not want to have to deal with explaining why a major crime took place there later.

Come on down, and add your name to the email list. I for one would like to come out of this meeting with a little more intel on what exactly is the "gang" situation and whether any of the crime around here is related or random. For instance, Inspector Fitzgibbon told me a major bust was going to take place in the SW corner of the 71st Precinct (Bedford/Hawthorne area). Was that successful? What was going on and where? Etc.
More on the shooting 4am Saturday morning.

If you zoom out a bit, you'll see that we're hardly alone. Areas north, east, south and southwest of us are experiencing plenty of shootings too. It's easy to think we're under siege, but lots of times these crimes are disputes that just happen to blow up near your home. But sometimes it IS something that's happening next door or down the street, and we want to make sure we're getting the attention we deserve.

If you're new, don't feel too, too bad. This stuff has been going on for a long, long time. And gratefully no innocent bystanders were hurt. We live in a very dense neighborhood, with a pretty sizable underclass and a fair amount of gang activity. This is true throughout central Brooklyn. It's a reality. And clearly not going away anytime soon. To pretend otherwise, would be deceitful.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Shooting Last Night - Flatbush Near Woodrufff - 1 Dead - 4am-ish

 Any info? Please send me a note and I'll forward anonymously. 

Cops tell me one is dead, scene is on Flatbush between Parkside and Woodruff. But it would appear that one got hit but survived and took off, leaving Woodruff.

This was at it appears 10:30 am Saturday:

 The Daily News picked up the story. Seems one victim got to the hospital after being hit in the chin. Authorities are investigating whether the shooter may have been someone else that also got hit.

Friday, June 12, 2015

They're Gaining On Ya Empire

From, what else, The Real Deal, comes info on a building planned for 109 Montgomery, just north of MTOPP world headquarters. 12 stories. Does that count, in the vernacular, as a "Sky-Riser?" And what's up with this Karl Fischer guy? Every third new building in Brooklyn is designed by him. Talk about one guy remaking the look of an entire borough. Remember, if these things are built even remotely durably, they will be with us for decades. This is, again in the vernacular, positively NUTS.

Handsome kid, that Asher (l.) Moonlights in a Boy Band Called 'N Mink
Asher Abehsera and Aaron Lemma’s PWR realty firm has closed on the purchase of a Crown Heights development site near Prospect Park, The Real Deal has learned. The Brooklyn-based developer and partner Cornell Realty bought the site at 109-111 Montgomery Street from the nearby Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which owned the vacant lot since 1989. Building applications filed in March indicate plans for a 12-story residential building to be designed by architect Karl Fischer. PWR plans to move forward with the plans, which presently call for 172 residential units across 168,000 buildable square feet and 76 parking spaces. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cornell acquired a nearby development site last year, at 902 Franklin Avenue, that later also saw plans filed for 168,000 buildable square feet of residential space. 

The developer bought that site for $14.5 million, or $86 per buildable square foot. - See more at:

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Vendors Wanted For 1st Annual Parkside Empire Street Fair

For years, the Flatbush Avenue street fair was a dismal affair. Poorly run, it often came down to a lot of noise but no fun. With a new grassroots merchants association ascendant, things might be much different. They're experimenting with a smaller swath of real estate as well, making it more compact. All good. Thx to Shelley at Play Kids for forwarding the below, lotsa questions you might have if you want to be a vendor. That could be anyone with a product or message! And table! Send a note to for an application and more information. And a street fair is happening this weekend as well, below Parkside. The poster is below the Parkside-Empire info.


New Jail Coming To Bedford Down Caton Way

thx RoxV
I mean why not lie a bit in your rendering and make it look like something other than a holding cells? Actually, you ever notice that the world coop and the word coop are the same? As in 2 bedroom coop and chicken coop.

Bedford Avenue Gonna Start To Feel Very Different

The march of progress? The marring of a neighborhood? Either way, Bedford is about to experience a serious makeover. This is but one new project, born of the death of two wood-frame houses. 1930 Bedford is between Hawthorne and Fenimore.

Experts out there want to explain what's being said here? Four ambulatory medical offices. Gym. Class A apartments? 27 bikes, 21 cars...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sweats

Lenox at Bedford, and Lenox tween Rogers and Bedford. Bird cages. With birds. What gives?

Birds Cooking In the Sun? Or Just Enjoying A Day Out On the Town?
I don't know nothin' about birds, but beyond the curious imagery of the street art, is there a reason why one might not want the birds to bask in the hot sun for too long? Granted the temp outside is probably in the safe zone. But like Tantalus, I wonder if this isn't a Big Tease to these animals.

I'm trusting, perhaps foolishly, that this is but a brief exhibition. Anybody know?

Gunfight at the BP Corral

Surprise at the MTOPP demonstration today against Eric Adams and Community Board 9? A counter protest.

photos by Warren B.
 The Borough President, it would appear, is not taking the constant berating without a counter-punch. Below, Alicia and all the MTOPP regulars behind bars. I mean, barricades.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Birdman Stayeth

from flatbushed

Fantastic piece on Winston of Rogers from Flatbushed. I've been dying to write a post on him for like the past hundred years. Thank you Flatbushed for a loving essay. (This cat can write!) Add him to your bloglist if you haven't already. And here's a piece on MY technician over on Flatbush, Voltan.

A tidbit to whet your appetite:

So Winston turned to his birds.
For several hours each day, he shaves down raw cow horns. He then bends, manipulates, cuts and lacquers them until they’re reincarnated as miniature aquiline sculptures. Each bird, he estimated, requires roughly 80 hours of labor to complete.
The origins of his self-created niche are not entirely clear. Winston said he recalls sculpting cow horns as a child and slowly perfecting his technique over the years. But he declined to explain why he only fashioned birds. Or why he selected cow horns as a lifelong medium.

Monday, June 8, 2015

New Mathieu Eugene Piece Beggars Belief

Apparently staffers for The Onion are now working for our Councilman. Perhaps most hilarious of all is the fact that I was reappointed to the Community Board guessed it, Mathieu Eugene. Says so right there on the letter. I guess he thought I was a different Tim Thomas? The hockey player maybe? The basketball player? A guy who supports him?

MySpace Entrance To Market Will Be Big Deal

To those of us who follow these kinds of things, the investment of real estate brokers MySpace is a big effing deal in the development of the neighborhood. From their press release for their Grand Opening at 661 Flatbush. I don't know why but they left off the close quote, which somehow seems apropos to me.
MySpace NYC has been handling Lefferts Gardens listings out of its Franklin Avenue office since it was founded in 2008. “A large percentage of our agents have lived in the area for years, and we realized it was finally time to establish an office in the neighborhood,” said Guy Hochman, owner of MySpace NYC.
Lefferts Gardens has a lot going for it: proximity to Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, streets lined with historic Victorian houses, and new bars and restaurants opening all the time. It’s increasingly becoming a destination for Brooklyn residents looking for reasonable rent in a neighborhood on the rise.
As with all of MySpace NYC offices, the Lefferts Gardens office is designed to fit in with its neighborhood. The agents understand better than anyone both sides of apartment hunt in Lefferts Gardens—they want to provide a service for those seeking to join the neighborhood as well as those looking to relocate within it.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

It's Nationwide

Lest we forget that the travails of our community are born of deeper social and economic issues, the Q finds himself in Miami, doing a tour of duty for work that includes shepherding musicians for a couple of gigs in the trendy Wynwood neighborhood. As I write this, I'm at an old-school motel NOT in Miami Beach, but rather on the old Highway 1, a/k/a Biscayne Boulevard. At night, a DJ thumps by the pool, mostly clubby pop tunes, not particularly inspired but adequate for the Pool Party vibe this retro "boutique" hotel wants to convey. Will Smith isn't about to roll into the parking lot, but it's definitely a destination spot, albeit one for less-than-mighty wallets. (The upscale eatery attached is tres expensive however, particularly since about half of the dishes we sampled were TV-Chef attractive to look at, but, and here I'll use the technical culinary term - gross.)

Wynwood Again
Then, within the blink of an Uber, it's down to Wynwood again. So what's the chatter around this lovely (see above) professionally muralled and graffitied neighborhood south of the Design District? Gentrification, of course. It's all happening so fast, residents are saying. And it seems to be happening by design, not naturally. It was the primary thing folks wanted to talk about, and I SWEAR I wasn't leading the conversation. Honest.

Once more I ask myself what it's all about. In the macro, it's about people moving to cities, and cities doing their best to attract the right sorts, because, perhaps, their leaders have grown tired of trying to manage the unsightly problem of poverty. They want people who have more money, and are willing to spend and earn it. The cities grow their tax bases. Poorer neighborhoods get developed into desirable areas for newcomers and wealthier residents, and most folks cheer. "Upzoning" can provide greater density along corridors that provide easy access to the job hubs. Bars and cafes cater to the new upscale residents. And of course, implicit in it all, actually EXplicit if your head's on tight, is calming the fears people have of personal violence. So there are the requisite assurances to the newcomers that they will be safe walking to and from their cars (since only the poor and hookers walk anywhere) despite the constant bombarding of evidence to the contrary provided by the News at Eleven. Do you watch the local news? I rarely do but it's beyond shocking. It's one horrible story of psychopaths doing horrible awful things, as if the anomalous is now commonplace, and you deserve a medal for choosing a lifestyle where these horrible awful things don't happen to you every single day. It's almost always Blacks doing the horrible awful things with a smattering of Latinos, and the stories come one after another, and if you were just a bit cynical you might call it propaganda, not news, feeding the very fears that create and then reinforce a neurotic, fucked up city. The brochure and the reality could not be more at odds.

Because yes, Miami has a very, very significant and populous underclass and with it, an extraordinarily high crime rate. Miami's upper class has designed its super-chic neighborhoods with crime at the very top of the priority list. So, much like Brooklyn, the wave of not-so-rich newcomers is highly correlated to peoples' sense of personal safety. (I say "sense" because it is still much more likely you will be a victim of violent crime if you live in one of the poorest neighborhoods.)

So yes, there are two very, very different Miami's. One, the glitzy party-hearty expat capital of Latin America, built on a mound of cocaine and commerce, which in Miami are sort of one and the same. Last night I was talking to a lawyer, originally from Nebraska, very successful I suspect, who hasn't a single native English speaking client. He deals in wills and trusts and estates of wealthy Cubans and Nicaraguans and "residents" of the Cayman Islands. Miami is the place to park your money, buy a place and hold, in case all hell breaks loose back home. Sound familiar? Multi-million-dollar condos, sitting vacant most the year. And art. Moving down for the winter, out for the summer, over borders, sometimes to avoid taxation, sometimes to launder money. An art handler we met says that business is booming for those moving priceless artwork around, storing it, showing it, hiding it. And some of that work is strictly no-tell cash, benefiting those on each side of the transaction. Internationally famous Art Basel is HUGE business down here - it's grown wildly since hatching in 2001, just after 9/11. The whole neighborhoods of Wynwood and the Design District rely on its cache and its annual influx of wealth and polish. Some residents make most of their annual income during a couple weeks in December.

So it comes as no surprise to read this from a local rag:

A battle is brewing for the soul of Miami's most iconic neighborhood. Little Havana, the spiritual home of the Cuban diaspora that populated the area in droves following the 1959 revolution, is still mostly a blue-collar immigrant neighborhood. But proposed zoning changes for taller condos and more commercial development have activists worried those residents could be pushed out. Developers and city officials backing the changes argue they would revitalize an economically depressed neighborhood, but critics are pushing back.

"The war is going to begin," Yvonne Bayona, a longtime resident and activist, tells New Times. "These high-rises are going to come, and they're going to eat us if we don't act quickly."
And the "artists," who once "led the way" in South Beach, then the Design District, then Wynwood...some say they're actually skipping over iconic Little Havana and heading right for Little Haiti. With development happening so quickly, why not just bypass the next "hot spot" altogether? So maybe, unlike Wynwood, the "artists" won't be needed. Build enough gated condos and perhaps you don't need the art. Artists, it appears, are seeing through the scheme and heading right past the next hot nabe to the NEXT hot nabe.

But talk about bull, this whole "artists" nonsense. There are never more than a few dozen ACTUAL, WORKING artists in any of these transactions. Many of the new residents called artists are really classic Bohemians, unshaven and unruly, searching for mates of the same temperament, that they might ultimately create children none-too-beholden to gramma and grandpa's politics. Being an "artist" is often about what you're not, which is mainstream, corporate, khakis with tucked in shirts, but it's still about getting laid and making babies, just like the rest of the species (I know, I know, cynical Q. I was once one of those, so like a Borscht Belt comedian, I feel comfortable viciously mocking my people.)

The war that Ms. Bayonda describes will be, as it will be elsewhere, short-lived. And if she's fortunate enough to own real estate, the end of the war will come with a consolation check. She cites the fact that she will fight because she is entitled to equal rights, but we all know the reality. An individual is not afforded rights that trump Trump. And in the case of Wynwood, the Trump is named Goldman. Tony Goldman. Or rather the David Walentas is named Tony Goldman, because Wynwood is a storyline ripped from Dumbo, a fabricated neighborhood, now one of the wealthiest in the nation. In a striking twist, Shepard Fairy, friend of Banksy and one-time outsider, actually used Tony Goldman as the centerpiece of one of his Wynwood murals, toasting the Goldman family thusly:

Kinda Creepy - the Artist and Patron; which is the Developer?

Largely portrayed as the redevelopment of underused urban neighborhoods, there's always another story under the surface, that of displacement, denial and disempowerment. For the greater good, mind you. In Wynwood, the good news, so we're told, is that less than 1,000 full-time residents have been herded out. That's only in the fine print of course. Read a great conversation about the dueling Wynwood narratives, if you're interested.

Listen, I'm a modern, moderately trendy guy. I have a Zipcar card! So I dial up the app, and find a Zip just a few blocks away. I note on my short walk that this old industrial "fashion district," mostly one-time wholesalers and sweatshops, has been re-conceived as an ultimate party destination neighborhood for tourists and the locally Hip. A far cry from the louder, skimpy-dress, jacket-and-jeans, cocaine and high-heels South Beach, you can actually wear your Brooklyn-like urban gear here while sipping a Kraft Beer. (I actually had no idea that the originators of instant macaroni and cheese had become the brew of choice for the young generation, but people just can't shut up about their Kraft Beer. Whatever happened to Michelob Light? And wine coolers?) The businesses have been curated to perfectly match the up-is-down rich-is-poor-is-rich curated murals, and the overall effect is both wildly impressive and soul-crushing at the same time. It's hard to tell which music wafting out of bars is ironic and which is for real, meaning you might as well just like what you like because no one over 30 really cares anyway. The concept of guilty pleasure has sort of dried up for me. It's all just pleasure. Or not. Maroon 5 song "Sugar?" Pleasure. Maroon 5 generally? Extreme displeasure. That lead singer in Moron 5? Way, way Miami.

I'm actually surprised when the Zip Lock clicks, and now I'm in, blasting the air conditioning in honor of the near-certain demise of this booming City, since even a couple feet of sea-rise will surely destroy the barrier island itself, and most of the rest of the area. The highest point in Miami is 12 feet above sea level. A massive hurricane will surely be devastating (for football buffs, I'll remind you the nickname of the local college team). The Great Hurricane of 1926 cost the City more than $100 billion in today's currency. Expect the massively upscaled Miami Beach to disappear. Expect the rest of Miami to drown. There is no system of locks to protect it. No political will to do anything but wait for the inevitable. Sheer luck is responsible for getting it this far.

As I drive north along 2nd Avenue, I enter Little Haiti. An elevated highway quite literally divides it from the Wynwood enclave. I drive through probably a couple miles of dilapidated houses, unsafe-looking cinder block structures with handpainted signs, many of the side streets are either unpaved or riddled with potholes to the point they'd be preferably dirt. The public housing is quite attractive in contrast, mostly low-rise, and lots of folks are hanging outside on steps and on sidewalks. Check-cashing, liquor stores, bodegas, hair places, cafeterias with signs written in Creole, store front churches and botanicas, it feels very much like a foreign country. Clearly most cars don't take this strikingly direct route to Midtown Miami and other points north. It's not a pleasant reminder of economic and racial disparity, though it's certainly not shocking to my Clarkson Avenue eyes. Still, the space between houses, like Compton (was? is?), and the sporadic palm trees and littered old tires remind one that it ain't the denser Northeast. There's a different look to the poverty. Some homes look unloved, even garbage strewn about, but every third is decorated and painted to the nines, a sign of serious house pride, flowers in the windows and cheerful decorations of mixed religious origin. People are laughing. Kids are playing. Life happens despite the disparities.

What's that on the horizon? One of America's many Martin Luther King Blvds, and a veering to the right puts me on 79th Street, headed for the Causeway. We're coming near the water now, and on my right I see the familiar barriers of gated communities, too close to the poverty I guess, and too close to the public transportation (diesel-spewing buses mostly) for comfort. The bridge over the Waterway is probably 20 feet above sea level, higher than the highest point of land in the entire City. What's that? A Citibike. A tourist has taken one from the Beach and ridden it up the bridge, providing a bit of real exercise. He'll be heading back to the docking station soon. Citibike only exists in Miami Beach and Downtown, so I'm told. A brave commuter living in one of MB's many high-rises could ride to work. I imagine a few actually do.

Except for the actively managed public beach, it's actually quite difficult to get to the sand in Miami, since there are so few points of public access. I've only got an hour, so I'll just head south on Collins to the next causeway and back over to the mainland. I can see Fisher Island now, one of the most exclusive addresses in the country. You get there by boat. Talk about gated community. More like moated.

I got the Zipcar back within an hour...two minutes to spare. It's cost me, with tax less than $11. Welcome to Miami, indeed.

Little Haiti
Little Crazy