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.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Important Things - BBG & House Race

So tonight, if you can handle the heat (and I know you can), head up to the School of the Deaf. That's right, up on Eastern Parkway just east of the Brooklyn Museum. And if you've been blessed with good hearing, bring earplugs, because Alicia Boyd and MTOPP and her other acronym FLAC (Seriously, Flower Lovers Against Change or somesuch) are hosting a meeting on the upcoming rezoning requests at the border of the Botanic Garden. Make no mistake. These are massive projects that will lead to a serious change for the recently purchased parcels at the Spice Factory and up by Tivoli Tower. Since CB9 (and yours truly) were squashed by MTOPP (with indirect help from the Borough President and his henchwoman Ingrid) regarding a residential redevelopment compromise plan, developers are doing exactly what you'd expect. Purchasing potentially lucrative lots and applying for rezoning - project by project. We're seeing a number of plans crop up north of Empire, and soon enough you'll certainly see plans for redevelopment from the Wendy's to Utica Avenue. It's merely a matter of timing.

If you haven't been following, I realize that's a lot to take in. It's all documented in the archives here on the ol' tyme blogge, so if you have any doubts, it's all there for the perusing (search Cornell Realty for instance). Here's Boyd's poster that blatantly misrepresents the projects, but, I for one am glad the public is being warned of the impending new micro-neighborhood being planned in SoCro (no, I didn't just write that, and I never would). The project won't look as ominous as this, but yeah it'll change the view from the garden considerably, though you can pretty much ignore the nonsense about shadows. It really won't make much of a difference - not even noticeable except in early mornings when the garden isn't even open, and only at certain times of the year. (If you'd like to see the entire rezoning application and environmental study, just shoot me an email.)

And if you haven't met the charming man running against Yvette Clarke in our district, by all means come out to see and hear Adem Bunkeddeko at my dear namesake Q at Parkside from 7:30 to around 8:30 tomorrow (Thursday) morning. These rush-hour train handshakes 'n' flyerings are a big part of Adem's strategy - to hook every un-beholden-to-Clarke voter and convince them that a) Adem's not a creepy serial killer type and b) he might actually DO something with his gig in D.C. And c) he's young, and it's time to give the next generation their chance, cuz god knows MY generation fucked things up royally in just about every category. But what can you expect, when we started out jaded and listening to Grunge? Or more damning, dancing to Public Enemy and NWA and not doing a damn thing to improve racial justice. Terrible track record. And don't give me that 9/11 changed everything line. If anything, it should've galvanized, not hypnotized.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Old Gray Lady Comes Out For Adem

Well, well, well. Now THIS is interesting. The NY Times likes Adem Bunkeddeko against incumbent Yvette Clarke. Big news y'all. Big news indeed.
pic: Damon Winter for NY Times
The Q met Adem last week - the guy is cool as a cucumber in the crisper. Smart, young and boasting an immigrant-from-Uganda story that boggles the brain of this Entitled White Man from the Midwest (EWMM - pronounced Yewm).

In other words...he will undoubtedly do better than our current ho-hum Congresswoman, whom I must say in nearly 10 years of dicking around in politics here in the 'Bush, I've seen but twice. Pleasant enough...but it's time to move away from the Clarke Dynasty and give the kids a chance to shine. And if Adem takes his cues from another community organizer who used his easy-going manner to breeze to the stratosphere...

Look, he's going to vote the way you want him to, and that's really all you're getting from Yvette at this point. The Q's All In For Adem (AIFA).

Parkside-a-Palooza - This Saturday

Be part of the magic. It used to was a big slab of nothing, til your neighbors the Parkside Committee got together and turned it into an urban oasis, or urbanasis.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Don't Miss This NY Times Piece - Dollar Vans Up Close & Personal

My corner, from the Woodruff chess playing side
Neighbor Edu Bayer took the pictures. Ironically I'd JUST met him, then this came out, the most human and touching look at the City's Dollar Van culture I've ever seen (here in the NY Times). The Q is a huge fan of DV's, even if they cost $2 now (they were a buck when I moved to the 'hood). Yes, a few "cowbody" drivers are terrible aggressive drivers - I make sure I get in vans from one of the main DV companies, and always make sure the van has TLC plates and the driver has the proper registration. If you're in a hurry, or it's late or early or holidays and weekends, the B41 just doesn't cut it. And the DV is always a trip, as well as a cheap, fast trip. I've discovered so much great music by riding them and keeping my ears open.

Congrats to Edu an his wife on the birth of their son. I'm super impressed by Bayer's work, global, political and deep. You can sample on his website. So much talent around here it boggles the mind! Another reason NYC is the most exciting place in the country to live.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Cornering the Market

For so many years, when you thought of the corner of Parkside and Flatbush you thought of and/or/either

  • Popeye's
  • Manssob's Deli that became ParksideZ Deli
  • The Driving School/Bill Pay/Money Order/Notary Public Everything Place
  • The Duane Reade
  • Absurd Traffic and Pedestrian Aggravation
  • First Class Alcoholics Contemplating How To Get Their Next Drink From "First Class" Liquor Store
  • Commuters to and from the Q at Parkside
It's practically a right of passage to become familiar and comfortable with the insanity here. My girls have grown up thinking that the Winthrop to Woodruff stretch of Flatbush is a perfectly normal happenstance of city design, though every once in a Blue Marble I'm struck by just how chaotic is this ode to Jane Jacobsian laissez faire urban coinkidink. Every sort of human, dog and Dollar Van makes its way through this intersection and 99.9% of the time the passage takes place without incident, though a compendium's worth of short stories could be compiled from the multitude of souls present at any given moment.

Lest you get too comfy, here comes the latest test to your nervous system:

More that one Q associate has noted how the ground floor retail space seems destined for a Starbucks. You really can't beat the location, location, location after all. It's "on the way to work" for a couple thousand people each morning. Though let's face it, S-bucks new "anyone can loiter or use the bathroom without paying" policies will probably get a good workout. 

Or maybe we'll get a Hungry Ghost? Have you been to those snooty java joints are? Not the most welcoming of environments, I go say. And if big white male is feeling that way I can't imagine it seems warm and inviting to those who feel marginalized. Just saying. Pretty soon they'll be taking "cards only" like this place I went to in SoHo the other day. Is that even legal not to take legal tender? Seems pretty classist to me, but what does the big straight white male know about such things.

Which makes me think Starbucks is fast becoming the RIGHT sort of business for a neighborhood as diverse as ours. Used to be S-bucks meant gentrification pure and simple. But with solid employee benefits and progressive customer service, not to mention a wildly diverse clientele, I'm actually hoping for a Starbucks here.

That's right. To those of you who think Starbucks is the worst thing that could happen to the neighborhood, I beg to differ. The worst thing that could happen to this neighborhood? Building no more affordable housing. And Ms. Boyd and her evil step-sisters are doing their darndest to see that not a single new home for lower income working people gets built. 

I'll drink a soy mocha latte to that.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Plant Flowers: Tomorrow!

You know you want it. Flowers, that is. Lots of them. All along Ocean Avenue. All you gotta do is come out tomorrow!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Come See How the Other 6% Live! Next Weekend.

dear LMA, you know the Q joshes. You've got the most beautiful blocks in the neighborhood. Your Historic District can't be sullied by rampant development. Sure you have to replace your windows in a period-appropriate style and not paint your brownstone pink. But we love you. Many of my good friends are Manor-dwellers and I would ne'er display jealousy when I myself am lucky enough to own an abode. And yet...tis fun to poke ye now and again.

Each year for decades you've invited rich and middle-class alike to stroll into your homes to gawk or snicker. It's called the PLG House Tour, and since it's been around about as long as the PLG (-Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens-) moniker, the two are somewhat intertwined in the public imagination. And so here we are, another first weekend in June, another chance to envy, mock and share war stories of wrought iron, original crown molding and FIOS.

And in all seriousness, it's a lot of fun so come on out. The game is afoot!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Expand Your World View: Tomorrow!

Maybe you're the sort of person (the Q relates) to wonder what one can do to step out of the bubble and into the real world with purpose and curiosity and a desire to do something truly beneficial for your fellow humans?

I've got just the ticket. And the opening is tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The NYC Housing Crisis Articles You MUST Read

Folks ask me all the time to explain why it's so hard to retain affordable housing in a City full of regulations. I've read literally dozens of articles on the topic over the years. But I've never seen a better explanation of the perplexing complexities of the problem that this one from the NY Times a couple days ago.

PART II: Eviction Machine
PART III: 69,000 Crises

(Tip: If you don't have a Times subscription, just clear your browser of cookies in settings. That resets the number of articles you can read for free)

Everything that you'll read in that article is happening or has happened on my street. I'm pretty certain fate is telling me to write a book on my block alone. There's the townhouses w/legal and illegal apartments, approaching $2 million. There's the half-stabilized half-coop buildings. There's the old mostly Section 8 building that went condo. There's the Victorian teardowns. There's the two new big apartments buildings being built. There's new ownership of old mostly stabilized buildings, and the "churnover" that typically accompanies the rush to profits.

And then, of course, there's 60 Clarkson. Not three years ago it was mostly homeless families, with a slumlord making bank off the backs of miserable homeless and stabilized tenants. Now, he's charging $2500 for two-bedrooms, only to gleefully watch those tenants quickly move out because they can't handle the neighbors and the squalor all around their overpriced cheaply renovated apartments. It's heartbreaking to see the stream of in and out at that building. No one's happy. Not the new tenants paying top dollar, not the old tenants getting squeezed, not the precious few homeless families hanging on for dear life. And the landlord gets to add 20% to the rent on each turnover, taking his apartments out of the life-saving rent stabilization program altogether.

If the plight of NYC renters could be expressed in one sentence?

No one's happy.

Please, read the article. It'll make such a difference to your experience of the suffering all around us.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

Well now. Participatory Budgeting at the State Level. A million Samolians.  Nothing to sneeze at.

Think for a moment about what a million bucks could do, or some portion thereof, to build or buy something that costs more than $35K to qualify. Many Councilpeople have been doing this at the City level, but this is a new kettle of clams.

And of course it's also, cynically speaking, an good way to keep your primary challenger at bay. Touché Mr. Hamilton. Touché indeed.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Zombie Party 2Nite

Sunday DURING the day folks. That means you can be spiked at 6, grab some Peppa's Jerk Chicken, and in bed by 7. Plenty of time to sleep it off!

Fully licensed and bonded, this is the SAFER way to reach oblivion. Trust me - day drinking is the BEST drinking!!!! (til it's not...)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Before You Opt Out Of Your Local Public School, Read This

Wherein the Q accepts a writing assignment for hire. I thought I'd write 500 words and cash the check. But out came the flood of Gen-X self-loathing and over-analyzing. The cheap editors at the Q never pay me for my work, so I was glad for the opportunity to earn enough money to afford a date with Mrs. Q at the Alamo Drafthouse.

I do like seeing my name in the byline. Makes me feel...writerly.

It starts like this:

We wanted to live in the big city. We wanted to stay in the City. Then we wanted a house or big apartment in which to raise kids. Seemed straightforward. But that's when the struggle for our very souls began in earnest. The next big question facing us is existential: which school will we send our children to?

Who's we? We are the mostly white, mostly middle- and upper-middle class, schooled in liberal arts, culturally attuned to NPR and the New York Times, The Atlantic and the New Yorker, with a smattering of Mother Jones or The Nationissues in our lobby mail slots. We can go to parties and talk about racism and bemoan white supremacy in a gorgeously renovated living room with a Black Lives Matter placard in the window. We want to fix X and Y problems, and yet when it comes down to it, we support charter schools, “forest schooling,” and testing our children into the “gifted” school. MORE.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I Am Peace

I'm usually outa town in August, but that doesn't mean the Q doesn't totally dig what these kids and organizers have been up to over at the playground by Jackie Robinson, near what will soon be a complex of "luxury" apartments at the old Spice Factory complex. That project, and the super tall project to the north of it, are still very much alive. The Cornell Realty project is back on the ULURP calendar - they want to upzone to 30 stories in exchange for the creation of a bunch of below-market permanently stabilized housing. CB9 is still adamantly opposed, but we'll see what difference that makes. Between the projects, that's hundreds of "affordable" units.

Anyhoo. In the spirit of positivity and community, the I Am Peace Foundation could use your support for its fifth annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament. If you've been saying you'd like to do something for the neighborhood's youth but haven't the time, consider a gift to this group and come out and watch them play?

PLEASE GIVE, EVEN A LITTLE BIT. You'll feel really good about yourself. The effect is instantaneous!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Mere Mortal Murals

Say that five times fast. Or not. It's late on a Friday and it's time to get stupid with gummy bears and flavored seltzers. Why is St. Croix suddenly, like, EVERYWHERE? And those skinny cans too.

A new muralist is about to take her muse to the wall at the SE corner of Hawthorne and Flatbush. Katie is her name, and muralling is her game. And she's no hack. She did the gorgeous and giant mural that adorns the soon-to-be-demolished building at 80 Flatbush. You know the one - looks like a chalkboard full of modern hieroglyphics? It's incredible. So now Katie Merz is on the case on Fenimore. Read more here.

In the meantime, some locals took to a new-fangled electronic message board called Facebook to complain about change. Jesus! That thing went up since after I started this here blog, by the good folks at PLG Arts, back in 2011. It's not exactly landmarked or nothin' and it was lookin' pretty ratty. I mean catty. But way back in 2011, long before Twitter became a part of the national identity, why I was...

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Parkside Plaza Anniversary - May 19

Few things provide the Q with more local civic pride than seeing people lounging on the Plaza de Parkside. Friends, a brave few of your neighbors made this happen. They saw an opportunity to beautify a neglected open space, and they've  continued to nurture it for all. You may think it was the City's doing - nope. This was a grassroots effort at its best. Like the lovely tree guards and flower beds all up Ocean Ave from Parkside to Lincoln. Or the better (though not perfect) traffic signals at the Parkside/Ocean entrance to the Park (it truly was a deathtrap). Or the left turn bays along Flatbush Avenue. Or the fixed-up train stations (I know it's hard to believe - they really were much much worse). Or the Flowers on the old dilapidated Flatbush Trees. Or the jungle mural at the Prospect Park Subway Sta...oops, that got painted over. Or the murals on metal gates or sides of buildings.

I'm leading to something here, and you'll hear more about it soon (Cheryl and Brenda let's get moving!) There have been a number of attempts at serious civic engagement in this neighborhood, but few have stuck. Let's come out and celebrate one of the truly lovely achievements that stand as testament to the power of the people - the Parkside Plaza. See you there.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Right on, right on. It's the PLG Arts Festival

The Q digs, he digs, he really does. I love a good home-grown festival! PLG Arts is kickin' ass and takin' names. Just look at all this cool stuff to do without pulling out a Metrocard!

Listing of Events
Sunday, May 13, 2018

Blessings663 Flatbush Avenue11 am-2 pm, brunch with live music. 
Parkside Plaza, 2:30-3:30 pm, TaluDjembe & theSoundologists

Monday, May 14, 2018

Erv's, 2122 Beekman Place9 pm-midnight, Erv's Jam Session
Eden Bareket, baritone sax, and his ensemble perform and host an open jam. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Erv's, 2122 Beekman Place11:00 am-noon, Hannah Moore's Tunes and Tots.
Fun music for babies and toddlers, $10 per family.

Parkside Pizza, 705 Flatbush Avenue9 pm-midnightThe Parkside Jazz Sessions. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Nest Session at The Nest at Bluebird Brooklyn, 504 Flatbush, 9-11 pm, hosted by Perry Smith and Matt Aronoff. 11-midnight open jazz jam session. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Nest at Bluebird Brooklyn, 504 Flatbush Avenue8 pm Rachel Therrien Latin Jazz Quartet

Friday, May 18, 2018

Kiddie Science, 509 Rogers Avenue11 am-12 pm, Lavender Blues at Kiddie Science

- 8 pmMary Spencer Knapp Trio
Accordion-wielding chanteuse Mary Spencer Knapp's cabaret soul project, Toot Sweet, melds French chanson with funky pop and psychedelic rock. 

9 pm, Sami Stevens and The Man I Love Sami Stevens and her band the Man I Love combine R&B and jazz sensibilities to forge a truly unique voice in the Brooklyn scene. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Blessings663 Flatbush Avenue11 am-2 pm, brunch with live music 
Greenlight Bookstore632 Flatbush11 am, Wildebeest Woodwind Quintet performs Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." 

Jenkins-Johnson Projects, 207 Ocean Avenue3-5 pmJenkins Johnson GallerySTEFA*

KD's, 408 Rogers Avenue8 pm The Epichorus
The Epichorus performs Indo-Arabic roots contemporary music inspired by traditional sounds from India to Egypt to Greece alongside jazz and fusion genres. 
Blessings663 Flatbush Avenue11 am-2 pm, brunch with live music 

Maple Street landmark home (limited seating, RSVP required) 2-3:30 pmAndreas Arnold

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Owl Music Parlor, 497 Rogers Avenue - Double Duos The Owl NYC7 pm, Blue Duet, featuring Joanna Sternberg and Charlie Burnham
8 pm, DavaMike,featuring Davalois Fearon and Mike McGinnis

Show and Zell

Have you seen him outside the train stations? From the first to second time the Q saw Zellnor Myrie he became noticeably less shy, like a man coming into his own as a candidate. It's an interesting thing to watch - the young idealistic neighborhood guy turning into a potential leader in front of our eyes. Like Josue Pierre, the male District Leader, this is a young fellow with tremendous energy and potential. More on Zell's efforts to distinguish himself from primary opponent Jesse Hamilton here from KCP.

Pic by RJ Sonbeek for KCP

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Where are the black people?

The Q has seen and posted dozens or renderings of projects in Brooklyn. It really doesn't surprise me that renderings rarely feature people of color, even when the building is going up in a mostly black neighborhood. Is it really that hard to imagine dark skinned people moving into a market rate building? Last I heard black folks were allowed to hold decent paying jobs. Some tech and finance companies even claim they WANT to hire more diversity.

But this one kinda breaks my heart. I mean, it's the PARK for god's sakes. If ever there was a place for an inclusive rendering, this would be it. Oh yeah, I see the vaguely, somewhat light-skinned don't-know-precisely what race they are people. But nobody with dark, full-on African tones?

Maybe the whole Trump nightmare has made me sensitive, but it seems like a real missed opportunity. And what's up with those dorks making their own little path up the rocks? I mean, I'd do that. You'd do that. But do you want to encourage it in a rendering? Sheeesh! Lawyers get ready, there's a suit a'comin'

the new entrances to the Park, off Flatbush Ave

By contrast, the ambitious new Jamaica Bay park project unveiled by Gov Cuomo bothers to put a dark skinned couple front and center:

Oh, and as someone who's spent some time out at Jamaica Bay and wondered WTF, this project is absolutely overdue in my view. Below is the "before" picture, as in "now," although they left out its dominant feature - garbage.

Eve-Lyn Williams - A True Neighborhood Hero

The Q first met Eve-Lyn (pronounced how it looks) Williams 7 years ago. I attended some meetings at 265 Hawthorne to watch her feistily shepherd a wary apartment building through a process to becoming a limited-equity co-op, owned by rent-stabilized tenants, who had to put aside their fears and jump into an arrangement that many longtime renters didn't fully trust.

Congratulations Eve-Lyn. Congratulations 265 and all its OWNER residents. A big victory for the people, and a potential way forward for renters in long-neglected buildings.

The whole story here.

From State Sen Jesse Hamilton's Office. That's Eve-Lyn with the ever-colorful hair

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Ooh Uber Baby, It's A Wild World!

Teaser: Guess whose Community Board just lost its FOURTH chairperson in as many years? See below...

Who knew Uber did brick 'n' mortar? Sure they have schmuckie-yuppie offices in places like Manhattan and Silicon Valley for the middle managers who are so busy playing ping pong and drinking wine off the company tap to realize they' know - corporate middle managers. Seriously if you've recently binged and need a purge just take a gawk at this. This is what you get if you're a network-card-carrying member of Generation Disrupter.

According to the folks polishing the floors, this building on Franklin off the back of the Empire Blvd Checkers will become an Uber office. Given that Uber hires tens of thousands of drivers in the city, one would think you'd need more than a wee weigh station, but there it is (A Wee Weigh is one of my favorite artists, btw). Opening soon. I have no idea what you do at an Uber office, but I bet it costs more when it gets busy.

And now to the juicy bits. The Q sits on the ULURP committee, which last week met to hear about the Central Library's renovation plans, only to have Alicia Boyd and company send out the de rigeur corruption-alert on the info-only session, then shout down an intended conversation about zoning in the community. (Conversation is apparently no longer allowed at meetings - too wordy, not screamy enough.)

Remember how Carmen Martinez was the District Manager for a minute, but then dis-hired because the Demetrius Lawrence-led process didn't meet Boyd's standards? The Board hobbled along for awhile on volunteer work and assistants, and then new chair Musa Moore started the process anew. You'll recall Carmen was long rumored to be party boss Clarence Norman's paramour? Turns out that at last month's meeting as the candidates were being trotted out, Moore tried to place HIS girlfriend into the position - Board vice-chair Pat Baker. Say huh? The Q has nothing against boys and girls gettin' some, but could we please not mix business with pleasure? Actually there's no pleasure to be found on the board. And there's certainly no business getting done. So scratch that.

The whole affair didn't sit well with the Board. At all. And so, yesterday, Chair Musa wrote the following to the Board, and the Q believes you have a right to read it. God willing, another sucker will emerge, only to be swallowed whole by MTOPP, while the neighborhood continues to prepare itself for its final whitewash.

Good evening, I hope everyone is well and enjoying a successful day.  As per the bylaws that govern Brooklyn Community Board 9every April the Chair appoints a nominating committee to identify potential candidates to run for various executive committee positions. 
This month I will appoint members to the committee; however, please be advised that I will not seek re-election as Chair.  Together we have had some great victories and I am proud of what we have accomplished.  Unfortunately we have also had a few unnecessary disagreements most recently the issue surrounding the search committee, who I continue to support.
Working together we were able to stand against the Bedford Union Armory, the Spice Factory, as well as shine the spotlight on the Crown Street shelter.   During the Town Hall organized by CB 9 we were able to bring elected officials, city agencies, and community residents together to discuss quality of life issues.  We were also able to hire staff for the office which had been operating with volunteers from the board.
Together we were also able to bring various informational forums to the community including Public Safety, Youth Job and Career Expo, Health & Social Services, and others.  Many residents expressed their appreciation that for the first time these forums were conducted by this community board.   We were able to solidify our strong relationship with Medgar Evers College, First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, Kings County Hospital, Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Museum, and other great institutions that work closely with CB 9. 
This is what can be done with the right board intact, this community could indeed stand together and rise above the many issues that plague us.  In order to achieve that the board must continue to operate from a "we" mentality and focus on making decisions that will benefit and improve the community not just individuals.
It has been a pleasure serving as Chair but once again I will not seek re-election.  I thank everyone for your  support as well as asking me to reconsider.  My term will officially expire on June 26, 2018.  - Musa Moore, chair, CB9 

Friday, April 13, 2018

On A Slow Week Of News, This'll Rev You Up - LM Echo!

Let's see. President announces we'll bomb a middle eastern country - unilaterally and illegally! Most powerful man in congress to step down! President's "fixer" under investigation has office raided by FBI. Fired head of FBI publishes book calling President a lying, self-obsessed mob boss. President pushes back with the classy rejoinder "slime ball."

And then there's...the Lefferts Manor Echo. Coming at you Trump-free and FREE-free!

Monday, April 9, 2018

IDC Gone? What's A Girl To Do?

Update: Today's Crain's says "former" IDC member Jesse Hamilton's been breaking the law with his campaign headquarters. As a lawyer, he should know bettter.

The Independent Democratic Caucus was sh-sh-shaking in its boots. It decided to rejoin the mainline Dems, rather than have to continue to defend itself against accusations of being turncoats and, worse, Republicans! (the beast whose name should never be uttered, except in reference to Honest Abe).

Anyone who's taken the time to get to know the IDC will know they were never Republicans. (Though they were founded by a Class A jerk). They didn't support Trump. And they did not hand the Republicans the majority. That honor belongs to a series of events that started with the coup of 2008, then the Republicans retaking the Senate in the 2010 Republican wave, and in 2012 more bribes, resignations, defections and utter insanity. I had to read this Wikipedia article three times before it all started to make sense. If you want to place the blame at someone's feet, choose either Bronxian Jeff Klein, the dorky head of the IDC, or maybe the very bizarre State Senator from Borough Park, Simcha Felder, whose continued animosity to consensus and decency, even LITERACY, suggests that if anyone deserves to go down in the upcoming NY Senate election, it's Sneaky Sim Felder, for G#D's sake.

So then I go to see Jesse Hamilton III, our much maligned representative, and it's clear he's been annoyed by all the hubbub, going as far as to call the anti-IDC crowd racist for calling him out. A campaign tactic? Maybe. Given Hamilton's years of dedication to the community, and his fairly reasonable explanation of why he compromised with Republicans to get some real benefits for his constituents, I'm torn. Sure he got a few thousand more bucks and ready access to the gavel as perks. But...well, anyway, don't buy the simplistic versions of the story. It's truly a multi-layered yarn that hopefully has now been resolved. Albany is anything but boring...

And in the meantime, take a look at the challenger to Hamilton. A young, savvy, smart man who grew up right here at Maple and Flatbush. Friends call him Zell, and I suspect he'd be happy to have you call him that, provided you give his candidacy the hard look it deserves.

Zellnor's the Real Deal, A Savvy Up-and-Comer
With Zell across the table, the Q ordered pancakes at Blessings the other day, and while waiting for them to arrive, the Q blabbered away in order to set the stage for Zellnor Myrie's stump speech, which I hoped would be lengthy enough to finish the flapjacks. But he never really launched into campaign mode. Instead, I was treated to funny stories, genuineness and the company of someone eager to leave corporate law scene behind for a stint or career of civil service.

Zell knows his neighborhood. He's comfortable in Flatbush (call it PLG or Lefferts if you like), but he knows the pain people are feeling and espouses common sense solutions. Regain "home rule" for rent laws. Build truly affordable housing. Resist unnecessary development. Provide real opportunities for young people. You know, he's a true and blue progressive Democrat, and these days, that means something.

And while the anti-IDC will come with knuckles bared against Jesse, look for the likes of the machine-oiled Kings County Politics to fight back with petty nonsense like this about Zell, tying him to a guy he worked for 2010-2012 - Fernando Cabrera - and implying that his work there meant he shared Cabrera's more conservative views. I'm sure Zell would have worked for a more progressive guy if he'd gotten the gig. But Zell wasn't Cabrera. Hamilton, on the other hand, IS Hamilton. He's not just working for him. His views, and his choices with the IDC, are all his, for better or worse.

In encourage you to get to know Zell, reach out to his campaign, give him a few bucks, and let the real race begin. Cuz it's all about the primary in this one-party town, where to even drink out of the same water fountain as the Republicans can lose you your job.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Ten Commandments of Moses Fried

  1. Thou Shalt Not Rush To Create Apartment Hotel On Parkside Avenue
  2. Thou Shalt Wait, in fact, About 10 Years From Your First Application Before Getting Permit (see below)
  3. Thou Shalt Illegally Rent To Squatters For Years
  4. Thou Shalt Thumb Thy Nose At Community Opposition
  5. Thou Shalt Claim That As A Religious Man and Holocaust Survivor You Clearly Care About People 
  6. Thou Shalt Involve Your Grandson David Tepper In All Your Business Plans
  7. Thou Shalt Build An Apartment Hotel When What Is Really Needed Is More Of What It Used To Be - Rent Stabilized Housing
  8. Thou Shalt Not Allow Your Apartment Hotel To Become a Brothel As You Have Done Elsewhere, Lest You Risk the Wrath Of Neighbors - Got It?
  9. Thou Shalt Create Tiny Studio Apartments For Your Apartment Hotel
  10. Thou Shalt Rake In As Much As You Can Before Shuffling Off This Mortal Coil

Moses Fried Finally Has His Permit Folks. What was once this a decade ago:

Will now, maybe, sometime, become:

Monday, April 2, 2018

Ah My Beloved Clarkson

The war is over before it began. There will be no new affordable housing on my forlorn rough and tumble block. Just more middle-of-the-road market rate housing. The poorest have been booted, legally or illegally. It's become clear to black and brown families of limited means that their money and leases are no longer good enough. No government agency has snapped into action, no developer has refused the opportunity to make real money off the neighborhood's changing fortunes.

As of today, two vacant lots are seeing signs of life. Clarkson tween Flat and Bed was always wildly eclectic. Beautiful well-kept and gardened Victorians on the south side played sentinel.

Now that the legally wrangling is through
Hooray! Anti-black racism explained through Anti-Semitism. Hooray! Plus poor use or apostrophes! Hooray!
 Across the street things certainly weren't gorgeous. I often called it "the little Appalachia," with fondness of course. But there was nice group of "special" folks living on the right, mostly hanging on the porch like country living, and the house on the left was the rectory for the cinder block pentecostal church even lefter. Mount of Olives, or with sign erosion, Mount of Lives. Hell, they made out like Jesus Bandits when they sold their souls, but still the off-key singing into the wee hours lent a special charm. I hear they moved to Jersey.

It's now becoming the below.

Regarding the south side sitch:

"Marc Jacobowitz’s Bluejay Management picked up a development site in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens from Bushburg Properties for $13.5 million. In 2014, Bushberg, led by Joseph Hoffman, bought three single-family homes at 50-54 Clarkson Avenue for a total of $1.75 million and razed them to make way for a nine-story rental building. The land is currently vacant and Bluejay intends to keep the original plans, which will bring 93 residential across 65,365 square feet, as per the initial DOB plans. In 2012, Bluejay bought another stalled project in Crown Heights, a 63-unit project at 341 Eastern Parkway that was completed in 2014."

Regarding the northern incursion:
Last year, Brookland filed plans to build an eight-story building at 75-77 Clarkson Ave. The proposed tower will be two and a half blocks from Prospect Park between Flatbush and Bedford Avenues. The building will contain 46 apartments and 31,750 s/f of residential space. New York YIMBY speculated that the development will be mostly studios and one-bedrooms since the average size for apartments is 690 s/f. 

As in, not family-sized units. Unless you're a family from Poodlestan.

The deal was announced by Titan Capital, which was the lender in the transaction. The firm said that the sellout for the building is expected to be around $25 million.

Brick by brick, apartment by apartment, family by family, lease by lease, tree by tree, updates intercom by updated intercom, the block becomes something new entirely. Only Irene and her twin sons Randy and Sandy will be able to claim to have witnessed the switch from mostly Jewish to black to mostly white. According R&S, neither the blacks NOR the Jews were particular happy to see THEIR Puerto Rican asses arrive.

Oh, and 60 Clarkson? Check out the no loitering sign and the brand new lobby fixtures! Trust me, that's about as much upscale as you're gonna get out of our favorite slumlord cum credit-check-lord, Barry Hers.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Grateful Historic Districts To Begin Building "Affordable Townhomes" In Greater Lefferts Area

Coming soon, all over. A new proposal is for a couple hundred on and near the old Spice Factory site, instead of market and affordable high-rise.
Imagine you're someone with family take-home pay between $150-$250K. Can you afford to pay $2.5 million for a home near the Park, Garden and public transportation? Probably not without help from a healthy inheritance or selling valuable heirlooms. And for many young professionals, that just doesn't seem fair. Enter SHATON.

The Q recently attended a meeting at the Montauk Club of a coalition of homeowners in Historic Districts, some from our own Lefferts Manor and the PLG HD. The group is called Single-family Home-owners for Affordable Townhomes for Overbuilt Neighborhoods, or SHATON. Their goal is to see that the City ensures that not only high-rise apartment buildings get built. They want to see more attractively appointed two or three story single-family homes too, and they've found innovative ways to make sure that happens.

Bo Mervin, longtime resident of Lefferts Manor, put it this way. "While many of us have seen enormous gains in the price of our homes, and don't get me wrong we're very grateful for NYC's economic health and growth, we feel uncomfortable knowing that the next generation of solidly middle-class professionals won't be able to enjoy the benefits of multi-floor living, massive equity gains, with room for gramma in the basement and a plot of land for gardening. It's the sort of life that lawyers and non-profit executives should be able to afford! It's ghastly how much my house is worth in 2018. And I'm no One Percenter, believe me! Well....maybe now!"

Mervin, along with some of his compatriots in leafy nabes of Park Slope, Ft. Greene and Crown Heights, have identified a number of major investment banks who also see the advantage of creating "affordable" townhomes. Through clever use of 601b(e) NY State funding streams, it is now possible to profitably build modest brownstone replicas and sophisticated townhomes with all the mod-cons and marble countertops that can retail for considerably less than $2 million - and in some lower income neighborhoods, even under a million dollars.

You might have noticed that some of the most vocal opponents of allowing for taller buildings in exchange for rent-stabilized below-market units come from single family home owners. Rather than sit back and watch Victorian after Edwardian home be razed for unsightly apartment buildings, SHAT-ON believes in building more single family homes in popular neighborhoods.

The $950,000 price tag seems a steal. There's one catch though. You need to win the lottery. SHATON estimates between 5 and 10,000 potential homeowners will qualify for loans that will allow them to bid for these spacious gems.

And it all comes at tax-payer expense, leading some housing activists to rethink their alliance with NIMBY groups.

What do you think?