The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Thursday, 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 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.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Gramma's Mexican Vittles

This is all the Q needed to read to begin an early-morning saliva fest all over my PC keyboard:

“We’re going to have the food that you easily find in Mexico on the streets or when you go to the market,” said Castellanos. “It’s real food — like Grandma’s recipes.”
Menu items at the new business include tamales, tortas, guaraches, and atoles, a warm Mexican beverage made from corn dough. The team hopes to open their doors this weekend at 50 Lincoln Rd., the former site of Nagle’s Bagels. 

Brenda Capplanos and Ana Price (pic, apropos, by Ben Verde)
Across from their other excellent joints Ix and El Patron. Yum.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

After All the Bluster, Bedford Union Armory Takes Shape

As many of we onlookers predicted, the Bedford Armory Project has become a reality after the tweaks necessary for all elected officials to feel satisfied they'd fought the good fight. The Q doesn't mean this cynically (well, maybe a bit.) The process played out like these things do in NYC. A bold plan is announced (nearly 5 years ago). Various factions protest and maneuver for political or activist advantage only to have the finished product look very much like the opening volley.

Then, there's that odd American tradition of the Big Shovel Pic. You know, the silly looking photograph of a bunch of well-dressed professionals smiling with a shovel. These photos take a lot of work to set up, from getting the implements to creating a pile of dirt adequate for the photo op. In this case, due to the nature of the project and its potential for good recreation opportunities in the neighborhood, I give it a thumbs up. In fact, shoveling itself is an excellent exercise, is it not? I mean, have you ever seen an unfit gravedigger?

Laurie Cumbo was attacked by our friends at...well, you know...for her part in this. And for all the sturm und drang, here comes this, courtesy of the very developer (BFC Partners) that put together the proposal.

My fave quote from the Kings County Politics article, which was part of the BFC proposal from the git-go, I might add:

The project will offer affordable space for non-profits and other civic organizations that will permanently call the Armory home. Ten organizations, including New Heights Youth, Imagine Swimming, Globall Sports Concepts, Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, Digital Girl, Inc., Brooklyn Community Pride Center, West Indian American Day Carnival Association, James E. Davis Foundation, Carey Gabay Foundation, and Brooklyn Medical Plaza Center will have space for offices and programming in the Armory.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Cowboy Hit and Run

Such a wild story you'd think the Daily News would've bothered to get the details right. When a dollar van hit a B41, then sped off, it left part of its chassis wrapped around the back of the MTA bus.

Makes for an interesting moment in the lives of all involved. But the article? Get your facts straight y'all. Dollar Vans are licensed, the drivers insured, unLESS (and it's a big distinction) they're so-called "cowboys" who drive without registration or parent company. These have become few and far between since the DV companies upgraded to the much-larger 20-40 person mini-busses. It's much harder to ride bareback with a $100K vehicle. Bottom line, the dollar vans are a treasured facet of Flatbush life, and even though there's a rogue now and again, it's not worth bashing the whole lot.

Amazing picture though, no?

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Massive Tower at 123 Linden Will Include - A Charter School

When the nursing home at 123 Linden, and its beautiful front-facing former home to Council-Dud Mathieu Eugene's offices, sold property and aerial rights for the giant 23-story tower now nearing completion, the question on the minds of some (like me for instance) was...what's going to go into the huge "community space?"

Now we know.

It'll be an Ascend Charter School. Whatever your opinion of charter schools, it's a fact that Ascend serves a predominantly black population across its 15 schools in Brooklyn. Families give it high marks, and students achieve at well above the district standards. And so, in the spirit of civil open dialogue, the Q welcomes your thoughts on Ascend, on charter schools generally, and on the inclusion of one into an all market-rate building on Linden Boulevard. I know the zeitgeist scuttlebutt around integration, G&T, charter...but when you include the families of those attending charters like Ascend, sometimes the conversation becomes less one-sided. That's been my experience. How about you?

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Dismantling and Mantling of Flatbush Continues Unabated

Did you know that mantling means to spread over a surface? That's actually kind of what's happening to our neighborhood. Dismantling is happening everywhere, of woodframes and townhouses and old "taxpayer" cinder-block commercial buildings. But a new surface arises, a vastly different veneer of new construction, much of it ugly, some it less so, all of it remarkably efficient to the task of gentrification. There is no plan - just outdated zoning laws and the whims of the marketplace.

Case in point. One by one, parcels that the Q identified years ago as "soft spots," properties perfectly suited for developers, have been snapped up. Sometimes it's for the better. Take the enormous building rising where the old Caton Market was. That building will bring hundreds of truly affordable units to the area, with priorities to current residents. Since the large parcel was City owned, it was possible to create an all-affordable building with relatively little pushback.

However, catty-corner/kitty-korner to that, the once dignified bank building (I opened an account when it was an HSBC back in 2003) will come down, along with the furniture store that was a Blockbuster Video when I first moved in. I spent oh-so-many hours wandering up and down the aisles, trying desperately to find something worthy of a watch-see. This was a time before Netflix, before Hulu, before Prime Video or anything on-demand. It's hard to remember what a big part of our lives these video stores became, once we all had VCR's or DVD players. My how the world changes and the wee ones grow. To those who wonder what we did before smartphones, I'd say "a lot looking for stuff to watch," because the modern world has become mostly about finding things, anythings, to deny the realities of the modern world.

Now, 815 Flatbush has gotten even bigger. So imagine this rendering but with considerably more apartments. Read all about it in the NY Yimby, of course. The corner in question, as currently mantled, below said smaller-than-it-will-be rendering.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Q-tips. Flyers, Flyers & More Flyers

Honestly, now, is this something you want to see on the regular? Cause I get these things, you know, and I'm happy to share but I just don't know, you know, whether anyone thinks this sort of bulletin board stuff is useful. I love it for the kooky designs and occasionally the actual info. But it's up to you, Q-sters. Q-tips, or no Q-tips?