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.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Predictably Predictable

46 Crown from the East. That's Tivoli Towers on the right.
Thx to Kadia Goba and BKLNER for attending the City Council meeting
You'd be forgiven for asking: If the government is the ultimate sovereign authority, why do developers do so well for themselves in this City of supposed progressives? Sure there are sweetheart deals, corruption, and the ever-present need for campaign donations, all of which give developers their access, swagger and sway. But the single biggest reason that Developers get to do almost anything they want? They own the land under most of their projects. Absent the use of Eminent Domain, one can do whatever the zoning will allow. That means that any parcel that is NOT landmarked or public property will generally be bought and put to use in the manner that creates the greatest return. Those are the sorry fact. I don't personally know any developers, but I do know the power of profits. Developers like profits.

(Actually, let's be honest now. YOU like profits too. And maybe, perhaps, at the same time, espouse socialist views on a range of topics, particularly those that don't negatively impact your property, prestige or quality of life. It's how American ideology's works, especially if you're lucky enough to have gone to a private liberal arts college, where the REAL major underlying every major is hypocrisy. That's where you learn how to be a faux revolutionary, all the way until the birth of your first child and/or home purchase.)

And so, despite all the sturm und drang the Q has witnessed and sometimes personally endured, the new owner of the plot at 40-46 Crown Street - Carmel Partners - used the power of its land rights to give Councilperson Laurie Cumbo an ultimatum. Either accept our request for taller rezoning, or we build only million-dollar plus condos as-of-right. The requested rezoning comes with a 140 below-market "affordable" rent stabilized units. In exchange, the City gives up some height. The building will be then be 16 stories with some setbacks bulkhead. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden says it won't impact the Garden's sun exposure. You can only imagine who called bullshit on them. I've promised myself not to utter her name. For awhile.

So, if you're Laurie Cumbo, the only real decider on the issue, what do you do? Yep, the Developer always has the upper hand.

And for perhaps the dozenth time the Q reminds you - despite the fact that activists thwarted a neighborhood-wide zoning study - one that would have allowed for downzoning in certain areas in exchange for just this sort of rezoning - we are being completely dismantled and remantled piece by piece. A la carte. And no, we are not in the driver's seat.

And perhaps now is the time to remind us all  This is but one of four huge projects, probably more, for the area north of Empire to Eastern Parkway. And eventually, the Empire itself will fall.

Empires always do.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Give Lease A Chance

More than 100 formerly homeless women and children, living for up to five years in apartments owned by notorious slumlord Barry Hers, have been told to vamoose by a Brooklyn judge who has sided with the rights of the landlord over the human rights of now rent-paying tenants. This just plays into Hers' hands, and signals landlords they can push people around without repercussion. It's really, really messed up, y'all, and deserves your attention. We can't even pretend to be liberals and let people be treated this way. Yes, horrible things are happening at the border, overseas, and even at our beloved Q/B at Church Ave. But this is something we can change laws about, if we demand them from our City Council.

When the Q first started writing about 60 Clarkson a few years back, it was clear that justice was not being served. A man who breaks the law as often and as callously as Hers ought to be in jail and the key tossed randomly into a dark corner at the post office on Empire Blvd. Used to be having tenancy meant something in this City. At the very least the families should be offered leases at the proper rent stabilized rate in the very places they call home, which according to folks I know in the building is still pretty reasonable legal rent in most apartments. Why throw them out and back into homelessness, where they must go through the whole process again?

At today's presser/rally at another Hers-owned building at 250 Clarkson, residents were joined by the tenant champions Crown Height Tenants Union and Flatbush Tenant Coalition - the people who are doing the tough work to organize and protect the rights of harassed and bullied neighbors.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Oh Deer

So I'm walking westerly on Clarkson the other day and what do my eyes spy but a new bus stop advert, truly an incredible piece of vertical real estate for the City to share issues of great concern to us all. And what social, health or civic issue is being shared but this:

The Q chortled and chuckled all the way home, only to find upon Googling that in fact, deer have become quite the frequent site in parts of the north Bronx and Staten Island. Now, the North Bronx is basically Westchester so that I get. But Staten Island? What, they came over on the ferry? Fearlessly dodged traffic on Goethals? No, neighbors, they swim there from Jersey. I shit you not. Look at this video, and apparently it's no fluke. Happens all the time:

But why place the deer posters here in Central Brooklyn? Seems like a waste of effort and money, right? Until just the other day, when I headed up to Parkside Plaza and caught these "faunas" eating our "floras." And no one on the Plaza even gave them a second glance...

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A City's Disgrace - Kicking Paying Tenants Out of Slumlord's Building

As in the Deep South last night, sometimes the Deplorables eek out victories. From Kathleen Culliton of Patch comes this video and story. about the Q's multi-year education in heartlessness:

The block is shocked that a dwindling number of homeless families have been given the boot after a number of years calling this dump home. Said neighbor Irene Dowdy

"I'm about to be homeless with my kids," said Irene Dowdy, a mother of five who has lived at 60 Clarkson Ave. for four years. "We're not going to have no place to stay."
Just two months ago the families of 60 Clarkson were playing in the streets at our block party. They were part of our absurdly diverse block in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood - they were geting by in a cruelly expensive city. The judge says - no more. And the truly evil landlord Barry Hers gets to continue shoddy renovations followed by short-term tenants moving in and quickly moving out, so he can put this once grand building out of rent-stabilization and into the open market.

Fixes to rent laws can't happen quick enough, Diana, Kevin, Zell and Walter and...let's get it done.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Fighting the Actual Enemies

Here's what events of the last couple years have taught me.

If you lie enough, use social media to turn up the volume on those lies, use race-baiting language, refuse to listen to dissent, decry mainstream media, let criticism throw you into a rage, and demand absolute loyalty and allegiance from your followers, your demagoguery might just win you enough converts to satisfy your enormous ego. Demagogues take advantage of times like these, and they thrive on fear, anger and prejudice. Any news that runs counter to the thesis becomes "fake" news. No compromises allowed, winning at all costs.

And no, I'm not just talking about #45. 😜 Let's just say I had a few friends over to the house today...

But enough unpleasantness. Today the Q chose to head to the Island of Staten, not exactly a hotbed of liberal activism, though it's truly beautiful this time of year, and right now it's home to an outpouring of enormous optimism and energy to turn the NY11th Congressional District from red to blue. There are many good people on Staten Island, and I've gotten to know some of them in the past two days of canvassing for a marvelous candidate who defies pigeonholing - Max Rose. He's a Purple Heart and Bronze Star decorated army Captain and universal health care proponent. He's had the good sense not to talk Trump to voters - people have already made up their minds about the Orange One, and to win a conservative-majority district you must focus on things that matter most to voters. On the Island that means transportation, the opioid epidemic, and meat-and-potatoes ma-and-pa issues like stagnant wages and tax-breaks for millionaires. He's a guy who feels he's been given a second chance, after an IED nearly killed him in Afghanistan, to practice some good old fashioned Tikun Olam (Hebrew for repair the world). He believes in true justice, and while he's not a fan of racist cops, he's not leading with the cop issue because - it's Staten friggin Island, know mean? That's called strategic. Because you don't win elections by leading with your chin.

So me and a pal humbled ourselves enough to get bossed around by kids less than half our age, some of whom did and some of whom didn't seem particularly experienced. Yesterday the field office on Forest Avenue was hopping with energy. But today?? Good lord the throngs were stopping traffic. People from all over Staten and NYC, eager to do their part to create an ACTUALLY powerful opposition to the hateful forces of ACTUAL white supremacists and racists who are dead set on thwarting progress and denying the vote to their enemies. And as we've seen, some are emboldened to take the rhetoric out of the political realm into far more ghastly shows expressions of ideology.

The Q was downright teary to see lines, yes, LINES of people ready to volunteer.

When the Q graduated college, he wanted to be a revolutionary. Today, he just wants the country to step back from the brink. Because he believes in white supremacy? No, because he's lived long enough to see what happens to countries that try to make radical change without majority consent. It's brutal. Truly, savagely brutal. We're not much more than beasts after all. And politics can be a beastly business.

We can wish for a better world, we can even fight for it. But somehow we also have to live with each other. The only other alternative? Die with each other. Yep. It's that stark. If you don't believe me, let me introduce you to a a bit of world history...

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Lefferts Pop-Up Art Show - WN7

The day after the biggest midterm elections of the...well, ever...come celebrate the Blue Wall with a Harvey Wallbanger, or Harry Wallhanger, or whatever it is people drink at Pop-Up Gallery Shows these days. All Flatbush/Crown Heights artists. Buy something for above the couch, or the foyer, or better yet, just cross-room from the bidet.

The artists:

-Alexandra Lake
-Amanda Isaac
-Bernadette Adrian
-Christian Hamrick
-Gabrielle Hilaire
-Goldie Gross
-Janos Cseh
-Kyle Shike -
-Laura Thorne
-Noel Hefele
-Tyler Holland
-Yoshiko Mori 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Vigilante Justice For the Q`

If you're just joining the show, you could do worse than to read this from BKLYNER about the Q and his sad travails.

It would seem someone appealed to Alicia Boyd and Imani Henry and got Proud Bastard Gavin McInnes removed from the list of Flatbush's Most Wanted. Now it's just down to the two major "White Supremacists," the guy who writes essays and news about the neighborhood without pay or patrons (yours truly) and a serial harasser who has repeatedly threatened to call cops on her building mates, then traumatized a 9-year old boy and whole family by wildly accusing the child of groping her when clearly (as body-shaming social media posters have noted) there wasn't much there to grope. She then pretended to call the cops, which elevated the video-taped situation to a whole new level of zeitgeist outrage. Despite the fact I've never met nor condoned "Cornerstore Caroline," she and I apparently now embody all that smells rotten in Denmark. I mean Flatbush. I always DID confuse the Danes and the Dutch...

(Let me reinforce the message if it wasn't clear - don't call 911 unless it's an actual emergency. And if that's the first you're hearing of that advice, you haven't been paying much attention to the last few years of news, both mainstream and non.)

Given the recent tragic national events that have arisen from frothy and nasty political rhetoric, I condemn the poster advertising an otherwise worthwhile protest from Imani-Alicia and hope that he and she can focus on the bigger prize - creating a firewall against the biggest threat to democracy, tolerance and decency the nation has seen in at least 100 years. And no, its not CC or the Q. The Q, for his part, plans to spend the day canvassing for Democrat Max Rose, who might just catch the multi-term incumbent who's biggest claim to fame is a bill to get Trump's picture hung in every post office across the land.

There it is. 2018. A year to remember none too fondly.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

PLGNA Rising

With all the hubbub on The Facebook and CB9 and the various and sundry smear campaigns from lovable local hate groups, its nice to see that the peoples can come out in peace and fellowship and get down to supporting one another. Had their been a fire, I suspect we'd have toasted smores and sung a rousing few verses of Froggy Went A'Courtin, my all-time fave being "without my Uncle Rat's consent, I wouldn't marry the Pres-I-Dent, mm-hmm." In fact, adding an mm-hmm to just about everything makes the day a shade brighter, mm-hmm.

It's hard to remember, but a just a few years back their wasn't so much attention being paid to the neighborhood, by forces inside AND outside. My first Community Board meetings were snores. It was hard to get a rise out of ANYone. You had to scream to wake people up. In a snap, we've gone from yawns to howls.

Many of the faces you see in the picture were there then and still there now. With some new energy, stronger organization and creativity, PLGNA will take its rightful place at the Round Table of Brooklyn under King Adams (soon to be term-limited out) so I'm thinking it'll be Queen Cumbo. No joking - seems to this armchair politician like the right move for her (you reading, Laurie?)

What we saw and heard the other night could was both inspiring and potentially voluminous, so I ask only that you consider hyper-jumping to the various links below to learn more from:
  • Shelley Worrell and her mobile offgrid caribBEING house on the Parkside Plaza
  • Carmen and the widly eclectic Kiddie Science center on Rogers Ave - doin' it all in our backyard!
  • Deborah Mutnick and the now published Voices of Lefferts available at Greenlight Bookstore
  • Nancy Hoch and great news about permanent park status for Maple Street Community Garden 
  • A gentleman with an incredible opportunity to support Jackie Robinson School from Greenlight Bookstore to easily purchase needed books (just do it here!)
  • PLG Arts' Hollis Headrick clued us in to the dulcet sounds of neighborhood tunage
  • If you want to support neighbors fighting greedy landlords you need to know all about Flatbush Tenant Coalition - FTC
  • Josue Pierre/NYC Comptroller's Office was there talking Scott Stringer, but let's be real, he'll be running for office real soon - Council in 2021? I'd bet on it
  • The newly renamed Pratt Area Community Council is now IMPACCT Brooklyn focused on helping people band together on all sorts of progressive issues - Dale was in the house.
  • Lindiwe and Pia came touting your lovely Nostrand Avenue Merchants Association which successfully lobbied the City for more parking after the swift and rugged SBS came to town
  • There was the ever-affable Dr. Cuts himself, Desmond Romeo, hailing the holiday lights that have become part of Flabenue tradition via the Parkside Empire - Flatbush Avenue Merchants Association
  • Local heroes from The Parkside Plaza reiterated how important it is for the community to give a bit of money each year to cover insurance so we can keep getting funding for the maintenance - fundraising campaign coming soon!
  • MINKA brooklyn came to share its secrets for holistic happiness and mindful meditation - visit them below the giant Apple billboard!
  • Janet showed up ON HER BIRTHDAY to tell us about Live Here, Learn Here: Friends of District 17 which asks with farily little judgment "So, why AREN'T YOU sending your kid to a walkable school, thereby helping integrate a horribly segregated district?" Though she's really nice about it, it's clear that it's way past time Lefferts parents started considering 241, 249, 376, 92, 6 and more and stop spending a couple hours a day just commuting
  • Lefferts Community Food Co-op is still in the game baby! And expanding! Get in while you can still claim to have been part of it when...
  • Colleen McNeil & Jawara Hudson/Flatbush Beacon Center - This one deserves its own post, because there is SO MUCH GOING ON over at MS2 just down Parkside way - for kids of all ages, and its all free, free, free.
  • Brooklyn Voters Alliance! #strongertogether is busy getting people to the polls in a non-partisan manner (straight face) because goddammit if we don't exercise this right it gets taken away, just as it is for millions of your fellow Americans AS WE WRITE/READ THIS!!!!!!
Watch this. It'll brighten your day, and remind you just how important this November 6 is for us and for future generations.

Cul de Sacked

Unless you pass by every day you're unlikely to see the drastic change that's taken place on St. Paul's dead-end half-block just south of Church. In just a few short months the sleepy block has given rise to dozens of new fancy-ish market rate apartments. Once open and filled, lively Church Avenue will likely see big changes. So while certain self-styled activists hold protests against yours truly and other civic-minded blokes, the pace of wholesale neighborhood change barrels forward, with only the promise of a total economic meltdown to slow or stop it. Number of rent-stabilized semi-affordable units added? 0. Zero, Nil. Nada. Nilch, Naught, None.