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, April 27, 2011

If You View Just ONE Video on YouTube today...

Make it this one...

The Death Trap Intersection of Ocean and Flatbush

A lot of folks have told me they read about the effort to fix this intersection, but few actually followed the link and pressed "play" on the video. If you call the Q your hometrain, this is ESSENTIAL viewing, though names have been changed to project the ignorant.

And if you're "mad as hell and not going to take this anymore," then we'll see you at the below forum:

Councilman Eugene & the DOT community meeting about traffic at
Parkside & Ocean Avenues
Tuesday May 3rd
7 pm
151 Woodruff Avenue / Calvary Pentecostal Church at E.21st St. /
Kenmore Pl.
Flatbush, Brooklyn

Monday, April 25, 2011

This Just In: Holy Chetrit, You're Not Going to Believe It

After years of sitting on the old Caledonian Hospital, looks like Joseph Chetrit's finally pulling the trigger and creating a massive new rental development right along the park. This, from no less capitalist sources than the Wall Street Journal:


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Not Your Gramma's Neighborhood Cleanup Day

Actually, your gramma probably didn't need a neighborhood cleanup day, because back in her day, folks didn't drop their garbage willy nilly all over tarnation. So scratch that title...what's really going on is a massive mobilization effort to give the Lefferts 'n' Flatbush area a makeover, and to show some love for the place we call home.

Sheila/Carmen/Skei - the powerhouse triumvirate that's organizing the APRIL 30th clean scene - met at State Senator Eric Adams' office today to strategize a pretty darn ambitious scheme. They're planning for 100 or more participants; 10 "micro-nabe" coordinators; free t-shirts for all; tons of tools, bags & gloves; free water; bathroom spots; outreach to and scolding of area businesses...I mean, this is for real, y'all. Naomi and I were there representin' Clarkson, and I for one had no idea how audacious was the plan.

Here's the part that you need to know. In order to cover the whole 50 or so blocks of the "zone" from Empire to Lenox and Ocean to Nostrand, they've devised a plan to divide the area into 10 named subzones. A "coordinator" will be assigned to each, with 10 or more volunteers under his/her supervision. That's why everyone who's interested needs to show up at Eric Adams' office at the corner of Midwood and Flatbush -- to find out what zone you're assigned to and to meet your coordinator.

So yes, of course, if you just want to clean in front of your house, that's cool. But to really be a part of the movement, it would help to go hookup at the clubhouse for directions, freestuff and to be counted. And don't sweat it if you're late or can't stay for the whole're needed and wanted no matter what your limits.

A cynic might ask -- does this puppy have legs? I can hear the voice of my old Sunday School teacher reciting:

"Give a man a broom, he'll sweep for a day. But TEACH a man to bag garbage, and he'll stop dumping illegally, pick up after himself, and start taking better care of the streets he calls home, dammit."

Perhaps my memory fails me, but it went something like that. Anyhoo, the point is to let this be but a beginning. The real challenge is to convince landlords, merchants and residents that the fuss is worth it. And the hope is that regular sitdowns as a citizen's committee, meeting out of the Adams clubhouse, could keep up the pressure.

See you all next Saturday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hell's A-Poppin' in Caledonian PLG Flatbush

It looks like all of our petition-signing and awareness-raising is starting to get some attention. Check out this story in the Brooklyn Paper about the Ocean/Flatbush death trap. Then around noon today, the Q got word that Channel 11 was champing at the bit for more of the story, and this here typo-laden story is now on their website. I don't know about whether it's making the late news, and the Q is not about to watch an entire imbecilic local news show to find out. But, and this is a very big butt, be sure to make the Councilman Eugene-sponsored forum with the DOT on May 3 at Calvary Pentecostal Church at 7PM to finally get them to take some action before someone gets killed. Come and voice your concerns, and, you know, speak in tongues if you're so moved.

Plus, turns out that major problem-solving is going on at the Parade Ground due to agitation and petition-signing by w'all (personally I'm agitating for use of the word "w'all" as the plural inclusive form of y'all). According to brother Ben, who launched the initiative and petition, local politicians and precincts have risen to the occasion, installing security cameras and adding patrols to the area, with more safety measures to come. Way to go Ben, and Brenda, and Nathan, know who you are!

And as I was walking home the other evening, I was greeted with this awesome sign at the "movies etc." joint next to the McDonalds at said death-trap intersection. And if this doesn't warm your heart, then it's time to consider a move to Westchester:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Uncanny Dilemma

That picture was taken last June. I'm reusing it, because this morning it looked roughly the same and I didn't have my camera, though a fight had already broken out (it was 9AM). I've spent a good deal of time getting to know the intricacies of this most peculiar scenario, particularly taking stock of recent neighborhood efforts to clean up Parkside Avenue and environs, like the efforts to "curb" illegal curbside dumping, the move to calm traffic at the Ocean/Flatbush intersection, our attempts to hold Moses Fried accountable for the disaster at 205, and Rudy on Winthrop's Parkside Project prize. The "canners," as they prefer to be called, aren't just public nuisances of course - they're people - people with as much right to use public spaces as anyone else. But the question remains - is it necessary that the neighborhood tolerate a chaotic, rambunctious and glass-shard laden scene so close to our hometrain and beloved park? In this post, I investigate, and welcome your comments, as always.

I'll start with the human side.

Today I had a great talk with Ali - one of the regulars who return cans and bottles at the Pioneer. It was suggested I speak to him by the Screaming Indian Lady (as another canner called her), who called him "Muslim," which he quickly corrected as Ali. (SIL didn't want to talk with anyone on the record - though in all honesty she's been very friendly to me on the street ever since. She is the self-appointed Mayor of Parkside Canners, but given the unruliness of her subjects, her reign is somewhat ceremonial.)

Ali is in his mid-60s, though he looks younger. He graduated college in the early '70s, and worked for the Post Office for many years. He's the first to admit he was bit wild in his youth, and that might explain his lack of working teeth. He's a very friendly guy, and eager to discuss the inner-workings of his trade. He thinks that more and more people are going into canning as a sideline, because it's "free money." When I pointed out that it looked like hard work to me, he concurred. But "it beats going into an office every day." Indeed.

According to Ali there are plenty of places to bring back your bottles and cans...the supermarkets are best because they can take back big bunches at a time, and tend to be less surly about it. Depending on the day and the streetside recycling schedule, he hits The Associated on Flatbush, the beer distributor on Lefferts at Flatbush, the NSA on Bedford...and many others. He told me there's a place in Queens where they'll pay you by the pound! When you think about it, that makes a heck of a lot more sense when you're talking about large quantities. Unfortunately, most canners don't have SUVs...they'd have to haul their hauls on foot and grocery cart. Interborough, to boot.

Most crucially, I asked what it was about the Pioneer that made it so popular. "Easy," he said. "They have an unlimited returns policy." NOW we're getting somewhere. Turns out that other supermarkets DO place limits. The law is very specific about this:

"[a] dealer may not limit the number of empty beverage containers to be accepted for redemption at the dealers place of business to less than 240 containers per redeemer per day"(NYCRR367.5 (d)).
That's all of $12 by the way.

With its unlimited policy, Pioneer has expressly encouraged the canners to bring their big rigs. Perhaps the least respected part of the law, however, has nothing to do with limits. It's this line:
It is illegal to return containers for refund that you did not pay a deposit on in New York State.

Hello everybody! That means the whole dang thing is illegal. Unless the canners in front of the Pioneer are downing thousands of ounces of soda and beer every day...that they paid for themselves.

So while most stores claim to follow the law, posting the required "rights" sign, the most basic aspect of the law is not being followed anyway. Despite the Bottle Bill's stated objective - i.e. getting people to recycle their own bottles and cans - we've created a very bizarre and not very fairly regulated blackmarket economy for glass and tin nickels.

So I talked to the folks at Pioneer to get their take. Hector, who, along with Stanley, is one of the managers, tells me he's no fan of the canners. "It's bad for business" he told me this morning. "I spend all this time policing and cleaning the area, and the Department of Sanitation still ends up giving me tickets." I asked him why they do it - isn't there money it for them? "No! We just HAVE to do it because it's the law." When I told him the law only requires them to take a certain number, and that his boss was making 3 1/2 cents a piece for every returned bottle or can, he seemed to not know what I was talking about. So it looks like I'll need to talk to the store owner after all. Because it would appear that Mr. Pioneer hasn't even told his own captains about the REAL reason for the unlimited policy - cash money.

So there's some grist for the ol' mill. What do y'all think? If you'd prefer to contact me offline, you know where to find me: I've also put in a request for more info from NYPIRG, the Department of Homeless Services, and the organization SURE WE CAN - a group that's working for the humane treatment of canners, and a more equitable way of getting bottle refunds.

Oy. I really crammed my head full of stuff this time.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Street Trash" Shaking in Shoes as April 30th Approaches

The first big event of the season is upon us. The posters have arrived on Flatbush Avenue, so strap on your seat belts...this neighborhood's fixin' to clean!

For those of you new to the story, anger has reached the boiling point over illegal dumping, particularly along Flatbush at intersections, but also all over our Jekyll and Hyde 'hood. More background over on HawthorneStreetBlog. Warning - that link is not for the weak of heart.

Your neighbor Carmen got mad as hell and she wasn't going to take it anymore. So she got elected officials and news crews together and started making a major stink (pardon the expression). Then sister Skei got involved, and she's encouraging all of PLG (and to my mind all of Caledonian Flatbush as well) to join with neighbors for a day of poop-scooping, litter tossing, and general beautification. By the way, I'm pretty sure it was Seth over at PLOG that came up with that "Place Litter and Garbage where they belong" saying. Pretty catchy, no? (me, I probably would have said Place Litter and Garbage and Combustibles where they belong, so there's be a letter standing in for Caledonia, but that's my cross to bear on this Passover eve).

You know, it was almost a year ago that I started this here blog along similar lines. We did a block beautification day, after the City finally planted a couple dozen new trees after years of playing the squeaky wheel. My wife and I wanted the folks on the block to know that the bad guys don't always win, and that while we're a diverse crowd, 99% of us believe in the same things - a clean and friendly neighborhood where the GDP is low (guns, drugs and prostitution) and the SRT is high (sweetness, respect and tree-y-ness). We don't need Cortelyou-style bistros, Ft. Greene-style housing costs, or Park Slope-style ParkSlopeynes. Safe, clean and respectful will do.

And to Carmen and Skei, we say: SEE YOU ON THE 30TH!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Salad Days of 205 Parkside

Some say I'm a Q obsessed. Why do you care what Moses Fried does with his property, they ask? At this point, what with scaffolding screaming "loitering and littering welcome," workers literally doing work in the dark of night or (illegally) on Sundays, and (according to the DOB website) changes being made to the plans as they go, I guess I'm beginning to take it personally. I'm considering going all Erin Brockovich on him; but I just don't have the time, what with spring upon us and a sale at the Gem.

Meanwhile, here's a wistful reminder of the building's better days, a death announcement for its onetime longtime retail tenant:

There's a lot packed in there worthy of comment. But I'd rather share another vintage clipping. I came upon it while looking for more info on Morris Kashdin and his 205 Parkside stationery store...a letter to the editor he wrote about what could easily pass as a very modern issue - budget deficits and bond issues. Then I read all the letters on that page, and I was stunned by their similarity to issues being volleyed about these days. Note the date: September, 1932 - roughly three years after the original Black Friday and the beginning of a lost decade for America economically.

Holy Moses Fried! It doesn't take a PhD in Astro-Economics to see that America has been down this path before, almost fit to a t. Here's the whole page of letters to the ed, with articles about Ivan Krueger (1932's Bernie Madoff), the Constitution and taxes (today's Tea Party), the evils of national deficits (seemingly everyone but Paul Krugman), the pain of unemployment at mid-life, the unwieldy size of drivers licenses (well, we fixed THAT problem) and of course - Pod Dismuke and Dink Botts - (??? and ????).


Monday, April 11, 2011

Sign This Petition NOW! (please), part deux

If you're the type prone to sign now and read later, I give you this, courtesy of neighbor Madeline Fix-Hansen: Flatbush/Ocean Intersection - FIX IT NOW!

You know it; I know it; anyone with a car, bike or legs knows it. That damn intersection is a death trap - it's only a matter of time before one of our neighbors is killed. Carrie over at Hawthorne Street Blog put in massive hours and created a killer proposal for traffic calming, which was essentially ignored by the DOT and other powers-that-be.

What's wrong with this picture?? A concerned citizen puts together a crack panel of experts, basically does all the work for the bureaucrats, and officials STILL can't recognize a life threatening problem right in front of their noses? I mean look at this friggin' spot-on document Carrie's coalition put together, downloadable from this archived page of HawthorneStreet.

Think this kind of wheel-squeaking doesn't make a difference? Just look at what PLG Public Works (Carrie's group) got accomplished up at the corner of Empire and Flatbush. (And no, I'm not talking about the killer new Wendy's fries...apparently the ghost of Dave Thomas though up THAT brilliant idea on his own)

And now, enter another brave soul who's clearly prepared to take up the mantle and get this thing done. Madeline's mom had a brush with death AT THAT VERY INTERSECTION. (Me too, although in my case I was tempted to drag a speeding corner-hugger out of his SUV, but thought better of it when I saw the look on his face and the baseball bat riding shotgun. Or was it a shotgun riding baseball-bat? My memory's kinda hazy) I'm betting the time is right, what with the Park's big Lakeside project underway, to get some traction.

Here's Madeline's plea, for those who prefer to read THEN sign:

Hello neighbors;

Traffic at Parkside Avenue & Ocean Avenue continues to be completely dangerous.

As such, I have created a Parkside & Ocean traffic calming petition:

and have attached a copy of the Lakeside traffic calming plan developed by Sustainable Flatbush & Transportation Alternatives.

Please circulate this information to individuals, families, friends, groups and others who you think may sign the petition and be interested in the traffic calming proposal.

The petition will be delivered to Senator Adams' office & to Councilperson Mathieu Eugene on June 15, 2011. The goal is 500 signatures.

Madeleine Fix-Hansen

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Shanghai'd orJust Bamboozled?

I'm a bachelor this weekend. So I'm busy doing the things I love to do that I can't do when Mrs. Clarkson FlatBed and Little Miss Flatbed Jr. are around. And what are these frothy, randy activities you might ask? 1. Cleaning and resurfacing the floor of the basement 2. Planting some pansies in the backyard windowboxes 3. Ordering out awesome neighborhood cuisine and then 4. Blogpost with gusto.

I'd like to think it takes someone confident in his own manhood to take pleasure in such simple and seemingly epicene activities. I'll spare you the dullness (to outsiders) of numbers 1 and 2. And 4 is hitting you full-on as you read. As to #3 - what local canteen of well-repute did the Q visit tonight? If you guessed De Bamboo Express, then all I can say MUST know Banga Mary!

Tonight, I make it official. This is one of the very tippiest top places in all of Northeastern Flatbush. And tonight, I finally ordered what I've been leading up to for years: The House Special Fried Rice. For the HSFR they throw in the kitchen sink - pork, chicken,'s a mountain of food, cooked to that crazy Sino-Trini tune of de-frickin-licious.

Why did Chinese food get mashed with West Indian food in the first place? The horrible truth is that many Chinese were kidnapped or tricked into coming and forced into slavery during the 19th century. While this is not the original textbook definition of "shanghai'ing someone," it sure sounds like it ought to be. The great irony is that the reason there was a shortage of labor was, of course, because blacks had finally begun to win their freedom. Apparently the thinking at the time was that the right price to pay someone for their labor was...NOTHING.

Not to get all political, but...ah, heck, it's my blog, and I feel like getting political. I honestly can't believe that what with all workers have been through throughout history, we're now living in a time when a near-majority of citizens (most of whom are WORKERS too) now want to curtail their ability to band together and negotiate with their bosses. Are people really that foolish? And do they (and now I'm talking about those Tea Party types) really think that once we tear apart government spending that employers are suddenly going to start looking after their interests BETTER than their government?

Perhaps we should shanghai the whole lot of them and send them to...Shanghai, where we'll actually pay them the prevailing wages of the locals, and we'll see if that shuts them up. I'll talk to my friend the merchant Marine and see what he can do...we'll call it an "Enlightenment Cruise." Bon Voyage, Mr. Beck!!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Is Phat Albert's Phinished?

According to reliable sources, a satellite of mothership "Phat Albert's Warehouse" is closing. Look for closeout sales in the coming days. Or not. But could this spell hard times for the parent company?

Bizarrely, the store that's closing is called Fat Albert Warehouse with an "F." It's over on Clarkson near Rogers. Apparently the owners pheel that the behemoth in the gorgeous old Bond Bakery Building (over on Phlatbush near Empire) is better served by the playful "PH."

However, there's nothing playful or remotely charming about Fat "Phat" Alberts logo. No kidding, this really is how they want you to see them:

My next door neighbor who's lived here much, much longer than I have says there was a time when people really got a thrill out of shopping at the giant Phat's. But no one she knows goes there much anymore. There are so many alternatives, like GEM or the swankier Target (yes I just called Target swanky), that perhaps the grimy, perpetually under-construction Phat's is phinally obsolescent.

Phrankly, should Phat's go, good phuckin' riddance. If you read the Q, you should know that I'm not one to champion wholesale gentrification and change. In phact, I started this blog because I want to see the great parts of this neighborhood - the wonderful rich diversity of people and businesses - survive and even flourish. But phrom the minute I laid eyes on Phat's headquarters 22 years ago, I've hated it with a passion. The building it occupies is a beautiful relic of the old version of this phabled neighborhood, and along with the neglected green Phlatbush trees and the de phacto parking lot disrespectfully used by the MTA - it's the gateway to our homes.

I say it's time phor Phat to phly. Pheel phree to disagree. But please, don't ever, ever let me do that "ph" thing ever, ever again.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rental of the Day: A Real Live Commune!

I was initially hesitant to post this...but hey, it's on Craigslist already, and that has bujillions of readers, and I'm just the little ol' Q.

Rental of the Day: Communal Living in PLG

Normally I wouldn't bother to repost a rental listing. But something about this one made me yearn for my salad days. Below is the text from the ad. Now, assuming they're not a cult (and who can assume these days), this description warmed my heart with its enthusiasm and utopian optimism. And hey, maybe you know a "perfect couple" for whom this would be perfect!

Our sunny attic studio (perfect for a couple) is available starting in May.

for only

It has its own private bathroom/shower, tons of sunlight,
and has LOTS of space for two people to live, dance, + sleep.

Also, we have another beautiful room opening up for the same amount of time for $675.

You would be part of a larger collective of 8 people (counting you), sharing a
kitchen with just 6. We have a backyard, sideyard, front-yard (all of which have herbs and veggies growing!!), porch, garage, driveway, washing-machine, ENORMOUS kitchen with a 6-burner stove, and a GIGANTIC living room that hosts monthly concerts.

The 6 people that you would share this house with are artists, musicians, great chefs, bike-riders, coop shoppers, gardeners, and genuinely fun people. We are fans of direct communication, and like to have monthly meetings to sort everything out.

We're looking for people that will want to participate in the garden.

You gotta be a real poop to snark at that (though I'm sure someone will). And who couldn't use "monthly meetings" to sort everything out? You GO Little Commune!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sign This Petition...Now! (please)

Hey everyone. Please sign this petition to let the powers-that-be know we're fed up with crime in our midst...but particularly at the Parade Grounds:


Here's what it says:

To: NYPD, NYPD 70th Precinct, Elected Officials of Brooklyn, Commissioner - New York City Department of Parks, Prospect Park Alliance

In the past year alone three murders and a shooting have occurred at the Parade Ground near the entrance off Crooke Avenue. This is mere feet from the Dillon Stewart Playground, named for the NYPD officer killed in the line of duty. In light of this appalling violence, we the undersigned strongly advocate for the following redress, namely that:

- Cameras sufficient to surveil the full walkway off Crooke Ave. as well as other heavily trafficked areas of the park be installed

- Signs reading “Under NYPD Surveillance� be prominently displayed

- NYPD patrols of the Parade Ground be increased

- Lighting be reassessed and improved

While the recent crimes at the Parade Ground may not be linked, it has become abundantly clear that criminals see the Parade Ground as a place where murder and assault can be committed. We wish to send a message that this behavior will no longer be tolerated.

We will not stop until the Parade Ground is as safe as it can be. As of this moment it is not, and we believe strongly that the above remedies will help make the Parade Ground a place where families can once again bring their children without fear.



FYI, I think I cleared up the difficulty some of y'all were having trying to comment...I always intended this would be an unbridled place to let loose, but I guess the "spam filter" was keeping some people out. Write me w/any problems:

Totally "Cutting Edge" Playground Equipment: The Vintage Plywood Box

A neighbor (a real live Italian...from Italy!) and I took a walk with our daughters up to the Parade Ground playground on Sunday morning. Seemed like half of Brooklyn was out playing "football" on the fields, and despite the recent Parade Ground murder, things were festive, though one dad seemed really peeved at the rest of us, maybe for playing with his balls. I mean his kid's balls, which, by the way, the kid wasn't playing with, so what's the big deal? (and if you went all double-entendre with that last couple of sentences, then you are one immature Caledonian).

The playground equipment is totally standard NYC fare - obviously designed to avoid lawsuits, but still pretty fun for the little ones. There's always half a dozen different ways - ladders, steps, monkey bars - to get up on the jungle gym (that's what we used to call it; is that no longer P.C.?), but apparently one of them was not up to code, because it had been entirely covered in a poorly constructed plywood box:

Now, I'm no more playground safety expert than I am a baker. But...really? Is this somehow safer than whatever it's covering up? Hell, I managed to give myself a splinter just looking at it. And the screws sticking out? Sheeesh. Still, a kid can turn ANYTHING into a good time, and by the time we left I saw some spastic sprites grooving on the new piece of "equipment."

Okay, okay, it was kindova slow day. But we hit Downtown Natural Market and I gotta say, it really puts out, organically. If you haven't been, it's Church and E. 17th.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Crib Bread

Look. the Q's no baker. Not even a little bit. I've never made what could even generously be described as a pastry. But when I realized how often I was going out of my way to buy a decent loaf of bread, something finally clicked. Why not make it home? People have been doing it for 1,000's of years. Do you really have to rely on people named Eli for a friggin' crusty loaf?

Of course not. So I started baking these unbelievably tasty loaves of bread a couple weeks ago, and I've just got to share it. Granted, you could leave the whole "crib" part of my recipe out and just leave the dough somewhere room temperature or warmer. But if you do have a little one at home, consider adding that special toddler bed twist to this classic "Sullivan Street Bakery" recipe.

Here's what you do. The night before you want delicious piping hot bread, you take 3 cups of flour and put it in a mixing bowl. You need 1 1/2 cups of liquid - I've been doing half milk half water, but suit yourself. Drop one packet of dry yeast into it, along with two regular ol' eatin' spoons of sugar and one regular ol' eatin' spoon of salt. Now you've got a nice dissolved elixir that you can slowly stir into your flour. And buddy, you're half the way home.

Don't go crazy mixing it. Just enough to make a mound of dough. Cover it, and put it in the kid's room overnight. Next morn, when your baby cries for attention, long before your sleep cycle is completed, you'll walk into a crib room filled with that nice yeasty bread smell. Be patient - you've got to wait 1/2 hour while drinking coffee over Teletubbies YouTube snippets - during which time that lightly greased/oiled cast iron pot (or, you know, that le creuset kinda thing) gets hot in your 450 degree oven. When its fully hot, open the oven, plop that mound of dough into it, cover it and wait another 1/2 hour. Turn off the heat and let it bake a bit more while the oven cools down. Take that puppy out and you'll be amazed at the near perfect round loaf staring you down and begging for butter.

Crib Bread. Delicious. Perhaps its the love of that little tyke. But I suspect it has more to do with the fact that it's freshly baked, cost next to nothing, and once worked into your daily routine, is easy as falling off a loaf. Give it a've got nothing to lose but your adherence to a low carb diet.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fennimore Than Meets the Eye

Lots of action on Fennimore today. Looks like 65 Fen, the neighborhood's chichi wine shop, is realizing its longtime dream of expanding to next door's Unique Mart. Granted it's taking place under sad circumstances - the death of Unique's longtiime owner, Delroy "Fatty Boo" Wilson. As Mrs. Q was talking to one of the Michaels (both of 65 Fen's owners are named Michael), I noticed a lot of muralesque activity across the street, and sure enough, there was local gentryman Bob Marvin overseeing a multi-artist project on the walls of the opposite side building.

The project involves many of the same daubers who brought us the inventive visuals over on Lincoln Road, around the still vacant development lot. It's always nice to see people beautifying neglected and graffitied buildings.

And in a completely unrelated feel-good story, it was also a morning of beautification at Prospect Park, brought to you by the Girl Scouts. Yes, they do more than sell Thin Mints! According to the Mama Scout who was leading the well-attended cleanup party, the Scouts have a community service contract with the Park to do regular debris removal days in the area around the Oriental Pavilion (incidentally the site of Mr. and Mrs. Q's wedding).

I was struck by the invocation at the start of the day's activities, wherein the Girl Scouts recited their promise: "On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law." A little antiquated sounding to be sure, but heck, the Girl Scouts are 100 years old. The Scouts take pains to make sure that girls can interpret the word "god" however they see fit. Though I'm pretty sure the "country" they're to serve is the good ol' US of A. As would any curious blogger-type, I just had to look up the Girl Scout Law. And maybe it's just the Q's time of the month, but I got downright weepy when I read it:

I will do my best to be
Honest and fair,
Friendly and helpful,
Considerate and caring,
Courageous and strong, and
Responsible for what I say and do,
And to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.


(except that respect authority line, of course. that's a little creepy).

Thanks Girl Scouts, for making our side of the park a little bit sweller.

Friday, April 1, 2011

New Restaurant to Take Place of McDonalds

Quite mysteriously, the below post was discredited soon after midnight on April 2, 2011. Still, the Q wonders if a McDonalds anywhere in the U.S. can claim such a prime piece of real estate.

Much like a shotgun wedding between an Italian runway model and a blue collar Irishman, confirmation came today that the owners of Al Di La,
the popular northern Italian trattoria in Park Slope, have closed on a deal to take over the space at Ocean and Flatbush that's currently home to a McDonalds.
Marge Gloucester and Trent Boboli, manager and chef of Al Di La respectively and co-owners, have long had their eye on this near-perfect spot just kitty-korner from the world's second greatest urban park. Says Boboli "when Al Di La first really started to take off, then kept on staying taken-off, then really really really took off, it became clear that a second restaurant was inevitable. We'd hoped to open 'just off the park' like so many of our favorite Italian restaurants IN Italy, but nothing was available. We even spoke to the board at the Brooklyn Society of Ethical Culture about opening a Risotto Stand in front of their building during warmer months. But then this opportunity began to emerge, and we were absolutely thrilled by the chance to create a Jerk Gnocchi dish to draw out the West Indian crowd!"

While negotiations are ongoing, the current lease-owner of the McDonalds - John Paul Abramowitz - told me recently that business has taken a nose-dive since the beginning of the recession. "People just don't go out to eat anymore like they used to. Everyone's home cooking their own nutritious meals. We thought the McSalad line would help, but it would appear that McDonalds days are numbered."

However, Boboli believes that if you create an eating "experience," people will line up for your $25 braised rabbit with black olives and polenta. "We've been very successful for a long time; there's no reason to think we can't make it in PLG. Or Flatbush, or North Ditmas Park, as some are now calling it."

Al Di La "Due" is set to open sometime this fall.

Next up: BRAISED RABBIT WITH BLACK OLIVES AND POLENTA recipe designed especially for backpackers!