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.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

It's All In the Hands (and face)

It's getting hard to talk to friends about how this COVID-19 gets transmitted. So much fear and hype that I try to stick to the experts and not argue. No one likes a know-it-all, especially in a pandemic I'm finding.

This is perhaps the best video I've seen on the issue of how the coronavirus moves from human to human. It's not nearly as easy to transmit as you might think BUT (and this is a big but) we will have to drastically change the way we touch our own faces. That's why the mask is a useful part of the equation - not surgical grade masks mind you - but any mask. Even the Scream mask would work. Because what you're doing is training yourself not to touch your own face. For some, easier than others, amiright?

Of course everyone needs to be careful in the way that makes them most comfortable. But the idea that you're getting this thing from every surface you touch is not so helpful - touch whatever you like - just don't touch your face until you wash or disinfect.

Additionally, if you DO make a mistake, don't freak. The primary way this thing moves is through SUSTAINED close distant contact and mucous to mucous contact. You know kissing, potentially hugging, getting coughed on. The idea that it just jumps from one person to another like a bug is a poor analogy, and makes people more afraid than is necessary. (A fair amount of fear is obviously justified - but not to the point of complete mental breakdown).

So here it is. I encourage sharing Dr. David Price's common sense video as widely as possible.

https://vimeo.com/399733860


Saturday, March 28, 2020

You Know It's Serious When the Bagel Place Closes

Took a walk up the Flabenue this morning. Typically it would be full of action even early, folks getting ready for a relaxing start to their weekend, early brunch, Adventists going to church, businesses readying for a weekend of heavy traffic. Nothing. Lefferts has ground to a near-halt. Sure folks are walking about, but mostly they're "essential" workers. Earlier this week the Q took a train to JFK to rent a car. The subway stations were spooky quiet. Cops at every turnstile, on platforms, not yet enforcing what will surely become some sort of "why are you out and about" kind of ban. Because...

This was the week it all became real. Really real.

I thought it might be good to grab a dozen bagels from Flatbush Bagel at the corner of Maple. Typically bustling by this time, it's closed. Closed due to Coronacrisis. What's crazy about that is that we're JUST GETTING STARTED. A NYC neighborhood without bagels is like a cow without flies. It's like a flap without mud. Skin without pores. A capital without a capitol. (Oh who am I kidding. Lefferts didn't have proper bagels til a couple years ago. still...one would think bagels were more than just essential.)

The grocery stores are the only reliably open shops right now. Half the restaurants have closed, most having laid off staffs. There's still food on the shelves, but very specific items have been horded. Toilet paper is the most silly but apparent. Usually there are thousands of rolls to be had at literally dozens of stores. But somehow, New Yorkers with their tiny living spaces, have bought up every truckload that comes in. And this, despite NO indications that there will be shortages of paper products of any kind. It's not a hurricane, and most paper is produced domestically. To put it plainly, people are hording toilet paper because OTHER people are hording toilet paper.

Guess it tells you something about our priorities. When the shit hits the fan, we want to be sure to have something with which to wipe our asses. I mean, after all, isn't this truly what separates us from the beasts?

The food runs make more sense, pasta and peanut butter etc., but I was really surprised by the empty sugar shelves. Guess a lot of people turn to baking, both to save money and for comfort. Still, in the US of A, it's strange to see ANY shelves empty. Anywhere. Even the Ideal and Associated supermarkets are asking customers to maintain distancing, a near impossibility in City groceries, but remarkably it's happening. Though occasionally someone grabs the space between and butts in line. Which normally would cause fisticuffs, but right now, people seem to be forgiving. And given that life has slowed considerably for many, maybe it's just that folks would rather stay out of their homes a few more minutes anyway. Something productive to do, an escape from the four walls.

Bodegas, generally, seem to consider themselves exempt from the entire affair. No masks, no gloves. The local delis around me are mostly manned by Yemenis who seem to have decided that precautions be damned. It's a bit scary really - one can see mosques and Arab run delis being a potential Corona spreader. Though lately I've heard more rumor-mongering about Chasidic Jews holding weddings and ignoring social distancing - though frankly I can find no evidence that ultra-religious Jews are taking the crisis less seriously than anyone else. People do love to blame Jews though, don't they? The New Rochelle outbreak two weeks ago was linked to the Jewish community, but that was TWO WHOLE WEEKS AGO, which seems like a lifetime. Back then the pandemic seemed almost theoretical.

The news outside NYC is filled with horror stories about NYC. In NYC, we hear horror stories about states and elected officials OUTSIDE NYC not taking the crisis seriously. In just a week, governor Andrew Cuomo went from annoying alpha male to beloved compassionate leader, so they say, though I will note that his daily updates on the conditions are pretty damn impressive. The guy lays it all out there - the problems, the work being done, the goals, the reasons behind various rules and suggestions. It's like he was born for the job of crisis manager. Between him and his brother, Chris Cuomo of CNN, Mario's boys have become a one-two punch of diligence and chops. The fact that they keep invoking their mom Matilda is endearing and puts a human face on the "old people" most at risk during the crisis. I attach the belowe Cuomo update mostly for posterity. It gives an excellent snapshot of the situation as of March 27 in the year of the Lord 2020.


Snapshots of lockdown Week 1:






Saturday, March 21, 2020

It Will Take Someone Famous Dying...

The Q hasn't felt much like blogging lately. Blogging is SO 2010's. But with my nearly decade of shit-shooting about the neighborhood, the Q at P has become something of a history of this time in the life of Flatbush Lefferts. So to future generations, looking for anecdotal evidence of this Coronacrisis, I type this missive. Because much like the 9/11, and the Great Recession, this is a moment that will be referenced for centuries to come in history textbooks. Will it be but a blip, like the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918? I think not. Partially because there's SO much media accompanying the craziness, but also because it comes during the single most divisive and destructive presidency of the modern era. And 50 years after Nixon, that's really saying something.

Been thinking lately that in a few days someone famous will die, despite the sort of expert treatment that only the rich can receive. "How did this happen?" they'll say. "It's a wake-up call" they'll say. "But Lou Dobbs was such a dick!" they'll say. "And I thought Ted Nugent was so healthy!" they'll say. Let's just hope it's not a beloved podcaster. That would be SO 2020.

And then the seriousness will sink in even to the willfully ignorant. You think you've seen panic? Real panic begins when Salman Rushdie or Kevin Costner goes. Imagine, surviving a Fatwa, or Waterworld, only to be felled by a microscopic bug.

I kinda liked the shadow. No signs of pandemic here.
So I give you a taste of Flatbush on March 21. Spring has clearly sprung. Forsythia blooms. The hint of cherry blossoms. Yesterday it topped 70 degrees. I considered wearing shorts, then remembered that I once complained that only white guys wear shorts before and after it's actually appropriate. Today, I saw three (3) white guys wearing shorts. They looked ridiculous. Good call, Q...

To the right you'll see that PARKSIDE pizza notes that delivery is your only option. To future gens: this was the week that the governor officially called for all restaurants and bars to stop serving in-house. A drive around last night showed that cops were enforcing the ban.

Bea of Sensory Street is moving. Probably to high rent for Flatbush storefront.

Most hair salons are still hopping. Curious what will happen when the ban goes into effect tomorrow night since the nabe has 20 within a six block walk of m'home. These places have always been the lifeblood of the neighborhood, and crucial to the life of communities of color. What will happen come Monday?
Bonafini (nee Blessings) typically packed for Saturday brunch.
Errol's warns - no more than 3 customers at a time.
Tafari Tribe: Last day to buy local gifts and clothes?


Sign of the times. And the true onslaught hasn't even begun
Westbury Inn shutters










Monday, March 9, 2020

Surely You Know the Work of Mr. Two Goobs...

Mr. Two Goobs, from his Facebook page.
My favorite artist these days is the artist whose work I see the most - Mr. Two Goobs, the man behind those brightly colored abandoned bicycles all over the neighborhood.

If you didn't know the sublime work of Mr. Two Goobs before, the most delicously clownishly named artist since Banksy, then you're in for a treat. Most of these bikes will eventually disappear, when Sanitation gets round to cutting off the locks. In the meantime, enjoy the simple pleasures of a mangled mess of metal. His work will remain up for an indefinite period of time.

A toast, to the power of two. Two Goobs. Some of my personal faves:





Monday, February 17, 2020

The PLG - Post-Truth in Real Estate at Flatbush's Most Luxury Building

The PLG vs/ Lefferts Gardens vs Flatbush wars be damned. Once developers start naming buildings all the way south on Linden "The PLG," the joke's on us. 123 Linden was very recently the site of a stately longtime old-age home, and ironically also housed offices of the only man who probably could have prevented this building being built, Councilperson Mathieu "Empty Suit" Eugene. 123 Linden is now visible from the Empire State Building. Because frankly if you can see the Empire State Building from the roof of "The PLG," that Lady serving as a symbol for freedom (or for cheap European labor, depending through whose eyes you're viewing)  - if you see her, she can most certainly see you.

Wow that building looks SO much bigger than the Q ever imagined. There were reasons for its being built, and they weren't all nefarious. To save the nursing home behind it, the board sold off the land and presumably air rights for what has become, I suppose, the new normal. Though even in market-rate-ridden PLG/Flatbush, there ain't nothing normal about this place. I mean, c'mon, TWO swimming pools?








Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Nazi Rally Over; Time To Get Busy

Geezus Effing Kree-stay. Last night's State of the Union was propaganda, lies, jingoism, nationalism, cheering zealots - everything but the Hitler Salute. We're in some deep shit folks. That was so utterly and awfully terrifying, and I don't scare easy. The Medal of Freedom just went to a virulent sexist racist with a vicious tongue.

Look. I know we're busy. We've got lives and kids and family. But none of that means anything without a future.

Let's all dedicate ourselves this year to sacrificing what we can in the name of the country. If you're comfortable now, you won't necessarily always be. And if you're comfortable now and able, why not fight for the rights of others? Trump is white Americas problem. And it's time for white America to step up and take him out. (with help of course).

Pick your candidate. And quit yer whining Bernie Bros! This is your time. You earned it. Cut it with the conspiracy theories and mansplaining and trying to "outliberal" everybody. When you're the front-runner the ONE THING you can't get away with is being an asshole.

You're winning, BBs! Bernie is not my first choice for president - that would be Elizabeth Warren. She'd be a MUCH better commander in chief. But Bernie and his acolytes will out-work her and bring out a wider tent than we've ever seen before. He should name her as VP by the end of April so we can all get to it. And Bernie Bros? Don't let us the fuck down, okay? You've been champing at the bit and complaining since the Dem Convention in 2016. Do your thing and make us proud. Just don't be a dick about it.

Come to the debate on Friday. And get ready to rumble.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

For Pete's Sake: "The Benny" Is the Q's New Neighbor

Never in a million years did the Q expect to read this sentence referring to my down-the-block neighbor building that's taken the place of a cinder-block Pentecostal church:

The gates, inspired by legendary modernist Le Corbusier’s Curutchet House in La Plata, Argentina, open onto a double-height entry. 

Like, wtf?

We've watched as this puppy grows to full dog-hood, and now we get to attach a name. The Benny. Like, what, the Benjamin? The drugs? The word also refers to rude, dumb tourists from NYC who visit the Jersey Shore and piss of the locals.

Ladies and Gentleman, I give you The Benny. And thanks to our friends at MTOPP, there are exactly ZERO below-market rent-stabilized apartments available.

 Read more here. Happy hunting.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Crime Voyeurism: Melee at King Fusion


The Q wishes he could un-see this, since everytime he walks by he's going to re-see it. Mr. King Asian Food, at 803 Flatbush. There are a few moments of cinematic gold, like when the attacker grabs soda cans but they fly out of her hands, then she gets frustrated and just pulls all the snapples onto the ground. It's never as pretty as it is when staged on the set of the Sopranos. Luckily the wounds were minor, but gee whiz, what sort of dispute led to this?

Folks on edge, man. Folks on edge.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

"Go Back To Iowa" Says Your BP. Oh, and Ohio, too. (Idahoans can stay though)

So this is what it's come to.



Check out the video of Eric Adams grandstanding to cheering crowd of activists on MLK Day. He's decided that transplants from Iowa and Ohio have silenced and stolen from native New Yorkers. Don't get me wrong...there's a vital conversation to be had here. But it's a generation of politicians, like Eric Adams who have held power in parts of this borough, and who should be talking about structural change and explaining why they haven't come up with effective solutions to what essentially boils down to a SUCCESSFUL American city dealing with growing pains.

Easier, I guess, to blame a bunch of job seeking apartment hunters who, for the most part, play by the rules assigned them by the greedy and powerful of this City. They don't come here to steal; they come here to live, work and contribute. Do they need some tips on how not to be rubes? Hell yeah. But "go back to..." rhetoric will get you, Eric, sent back to the private sector quicker than it will win you the Mayoral election. It's not going to make life easier or better for anyone, and only encourage more division and mistrust. You sir, a child of the Black Panther generation who admires the trailblazing work of Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton, should know that the "GO BACK TO..." phrase has an ugly history of its own.

I've been in Brooklyn for more than 30 years, and I laugh that REAL New Yorkers like Eric Adams will never give me a pass. But you know who else are New Yorkers? Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump, Robert Moses and generations of outright out-in-the-open racists. Surely these aren't the native New Yorkers you want protected from Iowans?

The race-baiting is on and it's a real shame. Also calling out Starbucks is just plain weird in this day and age. It's one of the most integrated coffee houses around (barring the occasional dumb-ass managers), second only to Dunkin' Donuts, our de facto community center in the early evenings.

Shit. I liked this guy once. After taking a steamroller to our community board back in 2013, I started to wonder if his hench-woman Ingrid Lewis-Martin was more interested in settling scores than making the neighborhood more harmonious.

What I'm realizing is that politicians will rarely be real to your face. I think the guy in this video is speaking from the heart. And that's what disappoints me too; that I thought maybe he was one of the good guys, someone who knows that our sum is more than the parts of our story.



Thursday, January 9, 2020

Work Starts at 931 Carroll and 40 Crown Despite TRO

This is what happens when you have no credibility, no power, and no room to negotiate.
Nada. Nilch. Nuthin'.

Portrayed as a David vs Goliath popcorn thriller by yours and my fave nabe terrorists MTOPP as a winnable fight worth the destruction of civil discourse and common decency, the end is nearing and David's about to be handed his slingshot in a muddy nutsack. The developers have restarted work at  931 Carroll Street, part of a more than 500 unit set of building that will top out around 17 stories.

All this stuff may seem confusing to you, and I can def relate. The Q has to relearn what's what every time I hear an update, and this morning we were asked by the 'Topp to brave the freezing cold at 8am to protest the excavation work that will lead to the pouring of concrete at 931. DoB apparently issued permits allowing the work despite a Temporary Restraining Order while a court case - Boyd vs Cumbo - works its way through court. Let's see. Court case pits irascible self-aggrandizer against popular caucus leading city councilwoman who has been mercilessly harassed over the years by said litigant? I'm placing my dough on the insider ball player.

Here's the simple version of the story.

This project to build 500+ apartments on what is really two separate parcels is now owned by Carmel Partners, no longer by Cornell Realty. Boyd et al have tried to argue that since the rezoning application (that was approved btw) was entered by Cornell the new owners must scrap everything and start over. That's not the case, but when has that stopped an activist from raising legal funds for their pro bono lawyer? (MTOPP's been raising money (illegitimately funnelling it through Boyd's non-profit New Directions in Healing) for all this hell-raising and harassment. Buy yourself something useful - her efforts are going nowhere but ruining people's days, weeks and even a few life-years (I hope Pearl Miles is enjoying retirement).

This is NOT the giant building planned for the Spice Factory location. That's a whole 'nother ball of wax. BBG doesn't like THAT project at all, and has been helping to organize against it. The Botanic Garden did not find THIS project particularly egregious, though, and essentially let the "spot" rezoning go through without objection. Why? Well, even though it's taller than most of us originally would have pushed for in a neighborhood-wide rezoning, it's still not taller than Ebbets Field Apartments or Tivoli Towers, which have co-existed with the southern Crown Heights area for decades.

To remind you, this is what we're talking about, though this is clearly just a block diagram (and not a scare-tactic rendering MTOPP has been circulating). You can Ebbets on the right and Tivoli in the middle of Carroll and Crown portions of the project.


Oh, and it gets better. And will keep getting better. This week we learned that an application has been filed to rezone the low-rise long-shuttered 103 Empire Boulevard. And of course, that will unleash a whole new round of outrage and fundraising from you know who.

Folks, I have it from insider authority - AB is now just a known "cost of doing business." She's neither a threat nor a viable foe. If you want to build big in our area, you just gotta put on your iron jockstrap and wait it out. That process becomes a tiny line on a big spreadsheet, written off, champagne under the bridge.

It's pathetic. So unnecessary. And so, so, tiring.






Saturday, January 4, 2020

Hens the Name

So after a nice vacay with BOTH sides of the fam, the clan flies home into Newark after midnight. Upon arrival, the truth hurts. No milk. No eggs. No bread. How will we feed the children? How WILL we feed them? How??

So the Q puts his jacket back on and heads to Flatbush Farm (nee Suzie Farm) on the Flabenue near Woodruff. As always it's bright, stocked and friendly. It's my favorite place to shop, pretty much anywhere. The day-working woman my girls know as "Suzie" gives them $5 on their birthdays, I shit you not.

For milk? Organic Valley, probably because I read something years ago about how it's fairer to farmers, Whether that's true now, or was ever, I know not. Milk...check.

For bread? A loaf of local, from somewhere called "Steph's Cake Shop" in Rockaway. Why? Well, it's shaped like actual baked bread...with the tiny bits on the end that get wider towards the center. Steph is probably a woman, and I like women. And not too many ingredients. Real sugar. So bread...check.

Ah but now the hard part. The eggs. Mrs. Flatbed is a fan of hens living their lives in relatively natural surroundings, better to lay eggs in, and better on my conscience. And though I have no idea WHAT-SO-EVER what a hen really likes (social life? down time? the occasional shvitz?) I go with the packaging that makes me feel like I've made a moral consumer choice. The Sauder's. Because...well...let's take a look shall we?


Now don't those chickens look happy? And that word "Amish." Nothing Amish could be bad, right? And the silhouette of a buggy and horse? Surely these must be the HAPPIEST CHICKENS EVER, right?

Here's the thing though. The farms themselves aren't Amish. Rather, it says "Direct From Amish Country" in PA and OH. So these chickens were perhaps a buggy ride away from the Amish, but not necessarily pious themselves.

It gets better.

You see, these organic medium eggs come LITERALLY from "Hens Who Enjoy the Outdoors!" I won't quibble with the fact that some hens may NOT enjoy the outdoors and merely feel forced to head outside by coercion and peer pressure. But the statement implies that the hens spend a great deal of time basking in the Amish sun, does it not? But it doesn't actually say that. It could, in fact, mean that the hens enjoy the outdoors but NEVER GET TO GO. Language, as they say, is important.

Let's resolve this difficult quandary once and for all. Did you know that there's an incredible website that does the fact-checking for you? Go to Cornucopia.org. And here-on you will find all manner of facts regarding the relative decency of organic farmers all over the country. Here's the eggs page.

How does Sauder's do on the survey? Miserably. As is so often the case, the packaging is a lie, a fabrication, a sham, a bait and switch. Remember when 45 said he'd replace Obamacare with something WAY better? It's true folks. Fully 40% of your countrymen are complete and utter assholes. You probably already suspected it. But now, it's official.

And the eggs? They taste only o.k.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Oy. Josue Pierre Jumps In For Council

Not a bad guy...quite the opposite. The ubiquitous and conscientious Josue Pierre has been making a name for himself round here for years. The gig he currently holds - as elected "District Leader" for the Democratic Party, has always been a stepping stone for higher office. The fact that there is a "male" and "female" District Leader in each Assembly District begs a snarky diatribe in and of itself. But what Pierre has done now - as reported by the brilliant local scribe Liene Zagare and BKLYNER - switching from a primary challenge to longtime State Senator Kevin Parker to a City Council bid in yours and my 40th Council District, could help throw the vote to the brother of the single most incompetent Council person in the City - Mathieu Eugene.

So here we are again. "Doctor" Eugene has a brother. And he hopes that brother Maxie has enough name recognition to take over for the good "doctor." And frankly it's name recognition that's kept Eugene in office for three-and-a-half terms despite doing absolutely nothing to distinguish himself save throwing bones to his most dedicated voters.

Why is this a potential wrench for local voters? Well, Brian Cunningham, the last general election challenger to Eugene in 2017 and a clear early fave for the job, will now face a primary challenge for 2021 from a serious contender.

This isn't the Q's place of course (wait...I'm a constituent...of course it is!) But were I Cunningham I'd start early with a Working Families Party endorsement and plan on a solid WP vs Dem contest in the general election. Because the Dem nom nod may end up a brawl between Maxie and Josue. BC could come out unscathed.

And so, after General Trump goes down to Bernie in 2020, we'll be watching the 40th for signs of real change. We already got strength from Diana Richardson and Zell Myrie at the State level (and in fairness, Parker holds his own, anger and all), plus Laurie Cumbo and Walter Mosley walking the tightrope on gentrification and affordable housing.

So many youngish strong non-establishment candidates to go around! Just say no to a Eugene dynasty and we'll be just fine.