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, May 29, 2011

Calling All Artists! New Art Time For The Q At Parkside

Application deadline alert: JUNE 17th!
When last we checked with the DOT, the "plaza" in front of the train station was still considered a priority spot, though we're not officially on the list downloadable on the site. If you or someone you know can envision a public space like "ours" as well or better than the current piece by the artist Specter - reveal thyself!

Personally, I've grown quite partial to Specter's piece. And the fact that it hasn't yet been tagged? Nothing short of remarkable.

If you need more info, feel free to contact me at You need an organizational partner, and it's likely PLGNA could fill that roll. Takers?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Know Thy Tapas

Whew! I seem to have made it through that last post with my good name intact, but just barely! I promised a word about Tapas,
that oh-so sumptuous collection of treats that launched 1,000 debates on gentrification. Or at least one, that I know of.

According to GoSpain.About, here's what the little guys are all about:
Tapas is not a particular type of food. Anything can be tapas - paella, croquettes, ham and cheese on toast, truly anything. As long as it is small and served with your drink (either free or at a surcharge), it is tapas. It doesn't even have to be Spanish - in Granada there are a number of Morrocan bars that offer cous cous, falafel and kebabs as tapas.

Tapas is not a starter. If you start eating tapas, you finish eating tapas, and you don't stop until you're full.

Tapas is not a collection of small dishes brought out on a platter and eaten as a main course. The Spanish have a word for this - 'tabla'.

The Meaning of the Word Tapas

A 'tapa' is a 'lid' or 'cover'. In the early days of tapas, a slice of cheese or ham was given with your drink and placed over your drink. There is some debate over why exactly this was done.

Now THERE'S a debate worth having!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Meet the New Dross. Same as the Old Dross

And so it begins! People are finally starting to talk about Lefferts Garden (not plural dammit!) in the mainstream media and I no longer get as many blank stares when I say where I'm from (Flatbush they've heard of, but that doesn't pinpoint it very well - particularly given our proximity to the Park, which you must admit, has always given our neighborhood a touch of class). So now that people are saying "oooo, I've heard that's a real up-and-comer," meaning essentially that white people are moving in and houses cost more than a million bucks, the Q has wondered when real signs of the looming makeover might come. And then...out of thin air, comes this, fast on the heels of the K.A. (a/k/a Aladdin) Deli at the NW corner of Woodruff and Flatbush:

In a nod to the old days, they kept the old K.A. poster of foodstuffs, suggesting that falafel and kabobs are on the menu. So...all kidding aside, the new guys are nice. They're from Yemen, they want to make a go of it, and so far the joint is oodles more hygienic than its predecessor. But that sign! Good lord, are those flames from hell licking at that juicy 1/4 lb. burger? And honestly, are they really going to serve char-broiled burgers anyway?

And that stack of pancakes. PANCAKES!!!! I can't wait to see the look on their face when I wander in one morning in my PJs and order a stack of flapjacks!

All to say...things may be changing, but don't count on tapas and wine joints anytime soon. Unless by that you mean a beef patty and some Boone Farm. Shine On You Crazy Flatbush!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

New High Speed Park Slope - Ditmas Park Link Planned

With plans for a nationwide network of high-speed trains failing to gain momentum, we were happy to see the following announcement of a powerful new, green "transportation alternative" to link the recently made-over Ditmas Park to the iconic neighborhood of Park Slope. Dubbed the "Bourgeois Express" by many longtime lycra-wearing residents, the affordable and heart-friendly mass transit system is up and running as of anytime you like. However, be warned that the B.E. does not run through the Park from one to five a.m.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Prospect Park Cuts - The Skinny

Hey y'all. After reading PLOG's post on Park education cuts, I thought I'd get more info directly from the Prospect Park Alliance. I can't say I know exactly what the programs at Audubon that got cut were all about.

But I can say that reading this sounded fewer alarms in my alarmist brain than usual. Perhaps it's even a smart move to get a funder to come forward (that's the fundraiser in me talking!)

Here's the Park's broader statement:

The Prospect Park Alliance, like many organizations that serve the public, has had to tighten its budget over the last few years. As the economic downturn has reduced funding, the Alliance will take on some unexpected expenses to meet our baseline commitment to provide a clean and safe Park. This has necessitated that we look closely at reining in expenses and staffing costs.

While the Park will continue to offer a variety of public programs, we will be eliminating some education related positions and decreasing the hours worked by some part-time staff at both Lefferts Historic House and the Prospect Park Audubon Center.

We are suspending the school programs at the Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House for the upcoming year. This will allow Park staff the opportunity to explore how to best structure and fund this important program. These changes to school programs will have no effect on our BASE high school or the Heart of Brooklyn BCAP summer program. Moreover, we encourage teachers to continue to visit the Park on field trips and enjoy what is Brooklyn's greatest outdoor classroom: Prospect Park.

The Park will continue to provide a robust offering of public programs and public education opportunities to Park visitors at both the Prospect Park Audubon Center and Lefferts Historic House. There will be some changes to the schedule of programming at both facilities, reflecting the Park's ongoing evaluation of how to serve visitors. We are suspending the Macy's fishing contest and exploring other ways to connect children with nature.

In addition the Lefferts Historic House will implement a modest admission charge for adults visiting the House on weekends starting in the fall. Almost all the Historic House Trust sites in New York City (of which Lefferts is one), charge some form of admission. This helps the Houses to maintain their historic collections, and supports their ability to present high-quality public programming.

The Prospect Park Alliance is committed to offering the best experience for our Park visitors and will continue to look for new sources of general support. We hope that these changes to staffing and programming will have as little impact as possible on the public's enjoyment of Prospect Park.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Parkside Avenue Updates - Breaking (non) News

This just in re:


That's right - my man Moses Fried is once again in my (figurative) cross-hairs.

Today I called Melissa at Salvati Architects, the firm hired by Fried to do the build-out at 205 Parkside. I explained that community members are understandably ticked off that there seems to be no work being done. I met Melissa last October at Community Board headquarters, and back then she seemed confident that Fried was in a hurry to finish his SRO/Long-Stay-Hotel project. Today she sounded a different note - she has no idea when Fried plans to resume work, and suspects that it could take some time (forever?) before he puts resources into fixing it up.

I'm beginning to think the time for patience is through. It's time to start calling 311 like crazy - each complaint (supposedly) has to be investigated. The building is unsafe, has a number of squatters, has unused scaffolding and should be deemed condemned or worse. We may need to call another Community Board meeting to discuss options - but please, if you're looking to be a neighborhood hero, call 311 and complain about the building. They'll probably give you to the Department of Buildings, who have jurisdiction over both public and private buildings. If you're not a convert to 311, times a-wastin'!

Also, Monday night's meeting was a step in the right direction for Rudy and his Parkside Project. Interested residents met at State Senator Eric Adams' office, and after Rudy's slick slide presentation, the conversation centered on a whole host of issues related to the sad state of affairs on Parkside. I'll have more to say on the issue as things progress, but for now Rudy's focus is on getting together the resources and partners to make the Parkside Project CONTEST a reality. By posting a $1,000 (or so) prize for best re-envisioning of the block, The PP hopes to inspire and kickstart meaningful change in both the public and private aspects of the WORLD'S MOST POORLY UTILIZED PIECE OF PARKSIDE PROPERTY. Maybe Detroit has worse, I wouldn't know, but if you've been fortunate enough to travel to the any of the world's great urban centers, you'll concur wholeheartedly. Our hometrain's block needs a serious nip 'n' tuck.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Parkside Project: Come Be Part of the Movement - This Monday Night

Parkside Avenue between Flatbush and Bedford hit a new low last fall. Moses Fried got the upper hand at 205 Parkside after years of complaints. Scaffolding was erected signaling an era of interminable waiting as he and his grandson drag his shoddy renovation out ad nauseum. The Q station looks dilapidatrocious, the Canners rule the sidewalks, 225 is a haven for flash trash, two brand new trees were lost, and across the street the Internet Coffee House decided to heighten its appeal by covering its windows with more advertising clutter than a used card lot. As oft mentioned here, the traffic problems reached a boiling point at the Park entrance...the list goes on, and so, one of the new breed of neighborhood vigilante - Rudy on Winthrop - wants you to help him do something about it. Here's the 411 (or should I say, 311?) on The Parkside Project, which could use your attendance on Monday:

"We are a group of neighbors who want to make Parkside Avenue into the best street it can be.  This summer and fall, we're organizing a contest, and will be awarding cash prizes for the best plan to redesign Parkside between Prospect Park and Flatbush.  We're hoping to bring the whole community together -- neighbors, merchants, commuters, elected officials -- to get the boldest and best ideas:  a complete renovation of the historic subway station?  a farmer's market in the park?  a community center in the derelict building?  a mural on the back of Duane Reade? 

"Come hear about the Parkside Project, and learn how you can get involved, this Monday, May 16, at 7:30pm, at Senator Eric Adams' offices, 572 Flatbush Avenue."

I can vouch for the fact that Rudy puts on a good slide-show-song-n-dance. I got a sneak peak when he and I met with State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries just this past Thursday. I took this picture of Rudy and Hakeem palling around after. I'm going to tell you right now that Jeffries is GOING places.
Not that he's not already SOME place - Albany is, after all, a major State Capitol. But not only did Jeffries "get" everything we were talking about, he came up with concrete ideas of how best to deal with each of the many issues confronting the area. The sky's the limit for this guy. His district covers the block in question, but check this crazy map to see how, perhaps, one of the problems with exacting change from this street is its insane locating at the furthest reaches of a dozen elected officials districts.

See you Monday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Which Dunker are YOU? And have you seen them eggs, Eggs?

Love it or loathe it, the DD has become a part of Caledonian Flatbush mercantile culture. You can get a decent cup of coffee, fast, and little Miss Clarkson Flatbed Jr. loves the croissants, which (and please, don't tell her) are perhaps the worst croissants you can purchase west, or east, of Paris. That's's a place to hang when you need one, and the price is fair, the colors are bright, and it's generally clean. The workers are efficient and pleasant. But when confronted with the following cynical graphic on the divider as you place your order:
I gotta say I do a double-take everytime. I mean...I get it. You (DD) are a corporate entity designed to separate your designated target demographic from its wampum. But do you really need to try to fool me with this blatant call to diversity? I get the uniformed lady of color, the white mother with stroller, the tanned business man with briefcase, the funky black lady rocker, the "Joe Six-Pack" white guy with a lunch pail...but who's that other white guy? He's got a cap and jacket, hand in his pocket (a firearm?), a ridiculously large beverage (seriously as long as his torso) and a military length haircut w baby sideburns. What demo is this guy? Hunter? White Supremacist? Pedophile? I'm open to suggestions.

And don't forget the latest reason to drop in to the DD for breakfast:

That's right. The Big 'n' Toasty (not "tasty" as I first thought, which, ironically of course, it TOTALLY is).

Before you drop your last few duckets on one of these delicious looking sammiches, however, consider this. There is no "grill" on which these eggs or bacon are made. Remember, Dunkin Donuts is a "Bake Place," not an actual bakery or restaurant. Heat is the primary (dare I say only?) activity taking place here. And those two "eggs" so perfectly shaped and colored beneath your Big Toasts? More than likely they are prepackaged pre-made egg products like this here: Eggs?

Technically, those eggs are made of the same ingredients as actual eggs from the chicken - plus a few bonus ingredients. So it's actually MORE than eggs (which they could sing as a new theme song, to the tune of Roxy Music's "More Than This")

Bon Appetit!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blogging and Clogging: Eerie Similarities

Both Clogging and Blogging can be excellent hobbies, so say vocations, though, they're tough rows to hoe.

Sure, there are some excellent Cloggers out there, past and present. Master Juba (William Henry Lane) could clog circles around his contemporaries back in the mid 1800's. And while he's certainly rough around the edges, no one doubts the prowess of ol' Jesco White, the wildman of modern American Clogging. But it's rare that a flat-footing, foot-stomping, buck dancing champion can make even pocket change plying their craft.

Same's true for "Neighborhood" Blogging. For every Jonathan Butler (Brownstoner - the current King of Blog Monetizing) and lesser monarchs like Erica Reitmann (F*cked In Park Slope) and Louise Crawford (Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn), there are scores of would-be and wanna-be quit-your-day-job or don't-go-back-to-a-dayjob types. But the fact remains that it's dang hard to buck the long decline in the fortunes of journalism, particularly by going super-duper local. I have no idea what motivates people to start community-based blogs (not a joke, folks), but financial compensation should round out the bottom of the list.

Then along comes Patch.

Oy, so sorry, that's Patch Adams the "delightful" Robin Williams vehicle from the late '90s.

I meant this Patch:

Seeing as you've stumbled on the Q, it's highly likely you've accidentally found yourself looking at the Prospect Heights Patch, or the Park Slope Patch, or the Carrol Gardens Patch, or the Bed-Stuy Patch, or even the Levittown, Long Island Patch. With any luck, there will be a Flatbush Patch and Lefferts Gardens Patch by the time you finish reading this. Which begs the question...did everyone wake up one morning and suddenly decide to start a local blog with exactly the same name, look and feel? Of course not. Only Corporate America could think up something so ghastly. Not only ghastly, but horribly fiscally retarded.

If you're a regular here, you know I'm not a hater. And I don't like knocking other blogs, writers or sites. But the budding Patch-work empire needs a gentle ribbing, because Patch takes all the fun, love and quirkiness out of the "movement." What dorks thunk it up, you ask? The geniuses at AOL! What WILL they dream up next? Broadband, maybe? Tim Armstrong, Google's old ad-man, runs the joint now, and the Times just did a piece on him today. AOL in the News. I was actually pleasantly shocked to see the article, since I started this here nonsensical post two days ago, and was looking for more info on the d-bag. Seriously, just look at his picture and you'll get the in, pray you'll never have to sit in a conference room and listen to his Business-Speak B.S., or his absurd optimistic blather about AOL's glory days to come. (Admit it guys are just blowing through your remaining cash so you can have a few properties to sell when your preferred shares becoming penny stocks).

The reason I even bother mentioning Armstrong's incredibly costly foray into "content" via Patch is that local blogs and blogsketeers are being swept up in his moneyed frenzy. I don't blame them. Everyone deserves a paycheck, and REAL bloggers (not so, I) work their butts off, keeping their sites chock full o' useful tidbits, human interest pieces and local politics. Case in point, Liena Zagare, of the Ditmas Park Blog.

Liena's been running one of the most successful hyper-local Brooklyn blogs, both in terms of readership and dollars. Her informative and upbeat posts and pictures helped create a sense of unity around the budding Cortelyou Road scene. She has her detractors (most notably a nasty race-baiting blog called The Real Flatbush that basically declared word-war before abruptly disappearing - blogs do that, you know), but for the most part Liena is a beloved fixture in her neck of Flatbush. She has done her best to build DPB into a business, even branching out into other neighborhoods with The Windsor Terrace Blog and The Flatbush Blog. These are designed and operated thru the Ditmas Workspace, another brainchild of hers, and it's a budding journalistic empire that seems, these days, to be penned almost entirely by Mary, an intrepid and dogged blogger who sometimes manages upwards of a dozen actually about-something posts a day for Ditmas, Flatbush, Windsor Terrace blogs and more.

Why bring it up? Patch hired Liena Zagare to be its National Community Editor. What that means is this: Patch (i.e. AOL) deems Zagare's blog as a model for all the other local Patches around the country. And if Patch (and HuffPost) works as planned for AOL, then AOL will become the go-to source for news, and AOL will once again dominate the digital realm.

And those monkeys flying out of my butt? Feel free to feed them your leftover bananas!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Know Thy Neighbor: Eric "Can-Do" Landau

This neighborhood is so Mayberry, R.F.D. sometimes. So I meet a guy on the Lincoln Road Playground (hey, our kids were there, it was totally innocent). We get to talking, a little gossip, a little kvetching. Pretty soon we're making a date to hook up for coffee at the local counter, in this case the K-Dog, where proprietor Gaby Lowe serves us up hot coffee with a (Brooklyn-style) smile. We grab our drinks, saunter past the happy laughter of children coming out of the homey nursery school (Maple Street), towards the local park. Which just happens to be Prospect Park, which just happens to be where my "date" works as Director of Gov't and Community Affairs. Once we cross Ocean Avenue, you could technically say that he's arrived at work. Nice office, this Prospect Park! And this being Mayberry, R.F.D...we of course run into a mutual friend in a matter of moments. It's like that over here sometimes. And of course, other times, it's more like Kolchak the Night Stalker. But I date myself...speaking of dates, here's my date:

Here's what you need to know about Eric Landau (the full grown man in the picture) personally. He moved to Lefferts Garden from Park Slope a couple years ago, around the time little Beckett (the smaller guy pictured) was born. He's got a second child now, a girl, and a super-nifty wife, who just so happens to be making the time-worn transition from P.R. executive to Episcopalian minister. (That's a post in itself, and maybe someday we'll get around to that. Look out Kimberlee - the Q's got you in his queue).

Eric's grandparents lived in Brooklyn, and years of coming back here from Kingston (NY, not Jamaica) for visits gave him the Brooklyn Bug. After college at Binghamton, our man goes to D.C., interns with the legendary liberal Paul Wellstone not long before he dies in a plane crash (Paul, not Eric) then becomes one of the Washington insiders that all the Washington insiders claim to despise. Frustrated by the "company town" attitude of the nation's capitol, he moved to Brooklyn to be the government guy at Prospect Park. What does that mean he actually does, you'd do well to ask. He develops close relationships with politicians and civil servants, advocating on behalf of the Park to make sure it gets its fair share of attention and resources. He's since added "community affairs" to his title, meaning he heads up volunteer efforts and liases with community groups and park stakeholders. If you care about the park as much as he does, he's a good guy to know, and a fount of info on everything "park." Sure you could call up Emily Lloyd, the new head of the park, but I'd try Eric's office first, since that's his gig - to be on YOUR side, unless of course YOUR side is all about pouring your HOT COALS all over the trees, which was an issue that the Alliance did its best to combat just last year.

Whew! That last paragraph was a mouthful (particularly if read aloud, which I don't recommend).

When I first moved to Brooklyn 20+ years ago, Caledonia PLG's side of the Park was a sad stepchild to the newly resurgent Park Slope coast. It was painfully clear that Slope wheel-squeaking had garnered all the oil. It's only within the past dozen or so years that you can witness revitalized respect for what was once (so I am told) the truly Grand part of Park Prospect. From the lake, to the Boathouse, to the once and future Concert Island, to the once and future Skating Bazaar, to the McDonalds (the eatery preferred by Frederick Olmsted, as I recall), we really got the goods over here. Once the extraordinary Lakeside Project is complete, lookout. Tourists might make the Q at Parkside more popular than the Liberty Island Ferry. And so it is with great relief that I find myself introducing you to Eric not by way of epithet for ignoring our side of the park, but for his able understanding of our needs, in part, because he is ONE of us!

One last word about Eric, or rather the whole Prospect Park Alliance thing, because so few people know what that's really all about. By calling it the "Alliance," it conjures up visions of some kinda advocacy group like, say, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Actually, the Alliance is also against Drunk Driving, but that's not my point. What the Alliance IS -- is the Administrator of Prospect Park, in the way that a Principal is the head of a school. Period. They run the show day-to-day, and Emily Lloyd is the Principal. Sure, they answer to the Parks Department and ultimately the mayor, much as a Principal contends with the Department of Education and ultimately the mayor. But they manage the City's Prospect Park portion of the parks budget and Prospect Park employees and augment it with funds and employees of their own. That's where you get that whole "public-private" partnership line that we all hear so much about these days, because they pool tax dollars, special gov't funding and private donations. And here's where it gets kinda weird - Emily Lloyd is both President of the Alliance AND Administrator of the Park. Eric told me its simpler than that sounds, but it still gives me a headache just thinking about it.

Look, we the people are basically the beneficiaries of this oh-so-modern arrangement. Instead of calling a faceless bureaucracy when you have a problem with the Park, you get to talk to nice people like Eric. He works with dozens of Community Groups to make sure their voices are heard (through the so-called "Community Committee" or Com-Com), and he helps to make sure the 3,500+ annual PP volunteers have a decent experience.

By the way, if you want to spend some time in the sun and do your part to help the park, here's the page with the deets: PP Volunteers.

Frankly, when I hear the phrase "Public-Private initiative," I usually get annoyed, mostly because there's frequently a copping-out going on from the "public" side of things, or at the very least, a tapping-out of funds. But it finally hit me while listening to Eric that what's REALLY going on is often a matching of money to public interests. Wouldn't it be nice if someone asked YOU exactly how your portion of your taxes should be applied to, say, defense, or health care, or whatever? But no, the government does not ask you to help apportion dollars, and thus you are stuck with the ballot, which is basically just a yea or nea vote on whether your politician is doing the job of spending your money well - or not. That is why it is SO important to get to know these people!

What the Alliance and other public-private partnerships allow you to do is to take some of your personal money and allocate it SPECIFICALLY to the public project that you care about. As an absurd example, say you REALLY REALLY loved the Department of Sanitation (DSNY). You couldn't just write on your tax return "hey, give those garbage men a little something extra from me!" But if there was a DSNY "Alliance," you could donate money directly and expect your curbside service to improve. Dig? And yes, if you happen to understand what the Central Park Conservancy is, then that would be a better parallel.

And here's where that's relevant to you and me. Many years ago, a woman named Shelby White,
pictured here from 10 years back with her investor-guru husband Leon Levy, was born on Crooke Avenue. Yes, OUR Crooke Avenue. She loved Prospect Park as a child, particularly skating at the Lake. And so, years after becoming fabulously wealthy and moving to the Upper East Side, she decides to give $10 million to kickstart the Lakeside Project that is currently ripping up the old Parking Lot and reclaiming tons of park space. But she couldn't just give it to the City of NY and expect them to divvy it out to her wishes. She gave it to the Prospect Park Alliance, and the rest is about to become history.

(Full disclosure, from a totally unrelated part of my life, I actually know Eric Landau's "barber" Dave Hickey personally. That is not a joke, folks - live in NYC long enough and the connections get weird).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

We Might Just Have Gotten Their Attention

Great meeting tonight at the Calvary Pentecostal Church. No speaking in tongues, but plenty of speaking, some passionate pleas and more well-intentioned general statements of concern from Councilman Eugene. Stay tuned...there might be change a-brewin' at the neighborhood's most talked about intersection.

The upshot is this...after hearing from neighborhood watchcat Carrie (of Hawthorne Street Blog) and agitator-in-chief Maddie Fix-Hansen (who's mom got hit by a car) and Mac McConnell (who's been trying to make the corner safer for years) and Noah Budnick (from Transportation Alternatives and resident of Clarkson Ave) and Annie Williams (of Woodruff Ave Block Association) and moms and dads and newcomers and old-timers...the DOT rep who came to hear us will go home tonight with a perception that neighborhood residents are sick of being third-class citizens when it comes to City scrutiny, services and funding. We'll do our best to hold the DOT and the Councilman to their word...that this is a priority for them, that a proper study and strategy will be developed, and that we'll hear about it in a follow-up meeting no later than mid-July.

Nice job Maddie et al. Let's keep up the pressure.

We Need Bodies - Please Stop By Tonight!

I know I've been hammering this issue ad nauseum lately, but one last time:
It would be great if you could at least stop by the church on Woodruff as we let Councilman Mathieu Eugene and DOT know how we feel about Death Traps like the one at the Park's entrance, Parkside at Ocean:

Calvary Pentecostal Church
151 Woodruff Avenue
(between Ocean & Flatbush, one block south of Parkside) @ E. 21st.
7 pm
Tuesday 5/3

See you there?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day Hangover

So yeah, the Q was totally down with the 3-Mad-Mamas yesterday for the Big Clean. Amazing people showed up; the "coordinators" did an outstanding job with their sub-zones, and I personally witnessed acts of great bravery as hands reached down into mounds of god-knows-what to pull out bits of offending litter. Also, we fielded tons of compliments from passers-by and we happily glared at idle merchants who seemed oblivious to the problems of trash and dumping directly in front of their businesses. Skei, Carmen and Sheila deserve props for their organizational skills, and let's hope PLG-CIVIC (as I'm hoping they call themselves going forward) will stay focused on this one issue of particular importance, because it's an issue that we can ALL agree on, whether old-timer or newcomer. Oh I'm sure there are some pro-dumping holdouts among you; but you, filthy sirs and madames, are not rolling with the proverbial tide.

Now for the "hangover" part. I left my house about 9AM expecting to enjoy at least one morning of no trudging-through-garbage on my way up to the Lincoln Road playground. It was not to be. Just 18 hours after my crew (known as Pear on the master clean-up map) manhandled the Saturday Flatbush Avenue litter and it looked WORSE than ever before. How was this possible? A counterattack by the forces of filth? I mean look at these pics, all shot in a two block radius:

Does this mean the April 30 cleanup day was a wast of time? Far from it. It proves that our problems here are systemic and demand systemic change. The Mad Mamas and their Minions will see that this issue stays at the top of the agenda for DSNY, Community Board 9, elected officials (Councilman Eugene and Senator Matthews were out and pledging their support beyond the Big Clean) - and all tenants, landlords and homeowners. And most importantly, everyone who really cares about this issue agrees: there must be PAID cleanup personnel going up and down Flatbush, Parkside and other flagrant offending avenues EVERY SINGLE DAY. The money can come from City and State coffers as well as a proper Business Improvement District or Merchants Association. And every single one of us must be relentless in calling 311 to report violators. Note the address where the problem occurs, and don't try to take it upon yourself to fight with owners and supers - that's a recipe for unnecessary conflict or worse. 311 actually works, y'all, so please use it. And as annoying and unfair as it may seem, pick up that random wrapper or circular and toss it. I know and you know you didn't put it there...but I've gotten so many people stop me and thank me, or stop and take notice, when I just show a little love for the place I live.

That's the Papa Bear in me coming out. It's gotta be a genetic response to having a kid or something, because as a young man I just assumed city trash was city trash, and whatyagonnado? Regardless, I just can't take it anymore, and clearly neither can a lot of you. Some people see this as gentrifiers against longtimers, and that's a bunch of hogwash. Yesterday's 100 or so volunteers crossed all the spectra. Besides, I'll wager a life's worth of lifesavers that 98% of the people in this neighborhood want it cleaner And best part is, once it's cleaner, it stays cleaner, cuz people are much less likely to litter and dump in a neighborhood that's already looking nice. Facts are facts, Jack, and it's time for us to clean up or shut up. Because all the talk about this neighborhood being a nice place to live is just talk until you can walk down the street without steppin' on dogcrap and McNugget wrappers.

That reminds's time for lunch!