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, January 31, 2016

New Winthrop Neighbors

The Flabenue Goes Fratbush? More Like Vegas.

What's with all the flashing neon? Even Castillo de Jagua, soon to open where the last Dominican place was, has invested in some spectacular visuals to go with its victuals.

Given the recent uptick in neon and flash one might assume that either a) laws governing them have become more lax or b) the price has come down to within reach of the average store owner. All I know is that I'd prefer not to have one shining in MY window when I'm trying to sleep. Thoughts?

Last night the Q walked down the Flabenue from Empire and was blown away by the nightlife activity. The salons were crowded and lively as usual, but so were the saloons. There was a party scene happening in Bluebird Cafe, a gallery opening at Tugboat, Midwood Flats could have been a college party, there was a packed house at Burger Mexicano, Erv's was filled to the gills with jovial inebriation, Westbury Inn was getting rolling, an elegant crowd raised wine glasses to their personal pan pizzas at Parkside, Mango Seed and Zurilee were jumping...all that to say the Flabenue has come a long way in just three or four years. And unlike Franklin Ave north of Eastern Parkway, the crowd seems more comfortably diverse, by age, race and style. I've not yet felt compelled to call Flatbush FRATbush, though somebody's gotta be the first. Okay, I'll be the first. Flatbush is becoming Fratbush. Too easy...and not really true. Where IS Fratbush? Ah yes. Near Barclay's and downtown. Particularly on game nights.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Man Matching Q's Description Busted Buying Viagara

Okay, so maybe only the age was the same. But a dude was arrested quite near my home buying Viagara at a not-so-deep discount of $35 for 3. According to reporter Rachel Holliday-Smith they were both arrested for buying and selling prescription medications. Rachel...don't you mean one for buying and one for selling? Or were they passing it back and forth? "Jacking Up" the price as they went.

From DNA Info

Questions abound. Was the seller from Canada? Were the pills placebos? And if so, did they do the job anyway? Did the guys stick around, or did they come and go?  Is this the latest offering from Fresh Direct? Could you describe this as a Schwing Operation?

A Wayne's World Fan or its inspiration?
In honor of the bust, here's a related picture:

This Is What Indifference Gets You

Those of you who've walked down Clarkson Ave recently must have noticed how dang much demolition and construction is happening. 195 Clarkson was two wood-frames that are about to become this:

195 Clarkson Rendering
Notice anything about the people in the rendering? That's right! None of them are fat! And none of them tucked in their tops. The discrimination against fat tuckers continues. (Ever noticed how men of from the South are way more likely to tuck than their northern counterparts? Belts are more common as well, as befits a man who likes to tuck.)

Oh, and once again, none of these units will be means-tested a/k/a below market/rent stabilized.

Question From the Q

Which just-opened bar with a name that sounds like a Connecticut Bed & Breakfast was PACKED last night for a trivia night? Here's a hint:

Congrats Demetrius (and Richard of course) on a terrific start for a fun-sounding addition to the Flabenue. (Flatbush straight across from Westbury Court and PlayKids)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Right On Rogers - House o' Juice

House of Juice. Terrific owners, cool vibe. Tried some of their super-healthy juice at Lindiwe's Expressions In Ceramics at her MLK Day celebration. Not sure what was in it, but afterwards I was able to recall the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus and finish the Friday NY Times Crossword without cheating (much). Check out this amazing menu and get on over there:

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Another day, another closing

If a picture paints a thousand words, minimum, then this one could fill a shelf at the lie-bury. You know, where they bury the lies.

Add caption
I'll admit I never understood how they stayed in business, so little traffic in and out. Lotsa Pampers I guess, and spices and lentils. Remember that little place on the west side of Flatbush almost up to Empire? Yips, I think it was called. Handpainted sign right on the door. Always seemed like the folks were family, mostly sitting around and playing games. The new urban professionalism and the rents that go with it suggest that shops like this will continue to go.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The (Luna) Soul Of Lefferts

Pictures. What a crazy thing is a picture. A photo. An eye-moment. Caught forever. We take so many of them now. Some of us horde them. We send them up to space for safe keeping on server farms somewhere in the California desert. Even the blurry ones and the inappropriate ones and the ones with people we don't like anymore. I haven't really figured a system yet, for getting rid of the mountains of pictures. Actually, not mountains, since it takes up almost no physical space. Gigabytes. Terabytes. Mountains of Bytes. 

I have a couple photographs of me as a kid. That's it. No home movies even. My memory of my childhood is somewhere in my gray mush, constantly changing or re-remembering. There's no video tape. It will never again be that way for a modern first world human. Save a total meltdown of technology, you will know eXACTLY where you were when you this or you that. And what you were wearing. And whether you were fat.

Segue. A photographer by the name of Courtney Mooney is capturing the "Souls of Lefferts" through a massive undertaking to document a neighborhood w/finesse and pizazz and a lot of megapixels. Actually she makes the photos the old fashioned way! A darkroom and all. In a statement that sounds vaguely like it comes from a Yogi she writes:
This project is for the Souls existing in the Prospect-Lefferts Garden community. Souls of Lefferts-- seeks to preserve voice and identity of those in our community-- to share individual and collective stories; and above all, the work is a call to learn from each other, and love the humanity of one another. All Souls are welcomed. All Souls are welcomed for a portrait, All Souls are welcomed to share, All Souls are asked to listen. All are invited into this Space to learn more about our individual and collective identity, as PLG.

In saluting each other, we learn to know and love ourselves; the Souls of Lefferts is asking for that salutation.
It's all happening at Tugboat Tea & Coffee, 546 Flatbush. The opening is January 30 at 6pm and it runs through February. What might you see? Check it out.

Send Jesse Hamilton A Note

Wondering how MTOPP and their Empire Study Group got on tonight's CB9 agenda in the first place? Granted once the Board recognized its mistake and sent them to the committee first. Did they have to? No, the Exec could've kept them on since no vote was required. They were just going to show us their plans for Champs-Élysées BK. Well, it turns out that Jesse Hamilton, your NY State Senator, sent a note to Chair Demetrius Lawrence asking to give her the floor, without fully informing him of who was behind it. Assuming it was Kosher, Demetrius followed Jesse's lead, only to find out that Boyd Co. were behind it. The same folks who'd made such a stink about how "everything must first go to committee." Now MTOPP is asking its followers to send Hamilton a note demanding that the item be placed back on the agenda.

GUESS WHAT? Despite some prancing and lofty accusations, the meeting was relatively calm. Though pretty much anyone with a beef against the CB got their licks in. Remind me why I bother? I guess because I'm not a quitter and I have a high tolerance for pain.

So why's Hamilton getting on board the Boyd Train? Beats me. But I do hope someone on the Empire Study Group will figure out how to keep her in check. My guess is that Jesse thinks he can play all sides, especially since longtime pal and endorser Eric Adams is being sued by she-who-shall-not-be-named. Actually, don't count out Pearl Miles just yet! Her suit seems to making headway, and apparently aims to take down a lot of people AND...the nuttiest part. She's demanding her job back. Do not, I repeat, do NOT count out Pearl Miles. She may get rich AND another chance to be surly! (Yeah, I miss her. And I can now see why she was so grumpy. This is HARD work and people can be really effing rude.)

After tussling with Diana Richardson, Laurie Cumbo, Eric, PLGNA, PPEN and getting Pearl Miles canned and many resignations from the Board, and souring the entire Board to the prospect of trying to find consensus around issues of import - I feel like Jesse should know better. I'm frankly really disappointed - stepping in to help MTOPP when they already dominate the meetings. Let it play out Senator. But don't take sides. And don't feed the beast.

While Cabia Doily asked her followers to cut and paste her anti-CB9 message to the Senator, I respect your intelligence enough to ask that you share with him whatever's on your mind. If he's going to step into the Empire Blvd debate, he should know it ain't one-sided.

Oh, and the Empire Reconstruction Project? Back to square one. Why? Beats me. Someone seems to think it's our job to know the project better than DOT and question every detail. They asked for a letter of support. Fine. Check back in a few years when the Committee all gets its advanced degrees in Urban Infrastructure. I still think consensus is impossible and it's time to move on.

Oh and we voted to send a letter to DOT asking them to make it possible for observant Jews to prepay the meter on Friday afternoons. Why, you might ask? Because if you're of the Chabad faction - the crowd that lives near Kingston Ave - you're strict about Rabbinical Law. You don't handle money after sundown, so you get a ticket when you're parked at a meter. So tonight we won one for Sandy Koufax!

The gentleman who was there tonight admonishing us to get our acts together and fight unwanted development - nice. He noted that housing advocates are no longer going to support the 80/20 or even 70/30 model for affordable housing. They want low income housing, and goddamit that sounds about right. Here's a query for you though. Would MTOPP support building ALL affordable low income housing on Empire Blvd? Even with a cap of, say, 10 stories? Of course not. Because this has never been about housing for them. They'd never let anything as ghastly as Tivoli or Ebbets rise now. And, it should be pointed out, that's a hell of a lot of rent stabilized units. Hypocrisy is best served raw.

Oh, and that address again. (And no, there will be no free tickets to "Hamilton" given away. Just the knowledge that you've engaged in civic discourse with your elected leader! Isn't that better than tickets to a Broadway show? Isn't it? Okay of course not. But

Tonight's CB9 Meeting

It all happens so fast one can barely keep up. Last night the Executive Committee of CB9 met to deal with allegations against one Tim Thomas of the Board for tampering, lying, falsifying and generally be a no-good-S.O.B. The ne'er-do-well in question is, Tim Thomas of Clarkson Avenue, a father of two and sometime "musician" and blogger, who is also head of the Transportation Committee. He was served with papers requesting that the Board remove him from the Committee for, essentially, exercising his 1st Amendment rights to call his accusers out on their own no-so-delicate behavior. The City Charter is very clear on the matter. Community Board members must divulge matters in which they have a conflict of interest, particularly where their financial or employment interests are involved. They must recuse themselves from voting or lobbying for a particular position when such a conflict is present. They are not asked to refrain from political activity or to not have an opinion on matters relating to and not relating to the Board. They are not bound to keep their lips zipped (these are all Open Meetings after all) nor are they prevented from calling someone, outside a meeting and not directly to the persons who've sought to remove him "f&$%# clowns." (Though in hindsight he might have thought better of it, and used the word jerks in place of clowns. Clowns suggests people who don't know what they're doing, while jerks are clearly people who are, well, jerks. The adjective, particularly in NYC, is hardly worthy of note. Seen Cable TV lately?)

Tonight's agenda is quite slim, but don't let that keep you away! Til yesterday, a presentation from The Empire Study Group was to be made, with the help of MTOPP and Tom Angotti, an anti-City-Planning dude who's been advising MTOPP on matters related to our neighborhood. The Executive Committee then noted that the Empire Study Group had never appeared before the ULURP Committee, and so the matter was returned to the Committee for review. Look for fireworks regarding that decision, lit and discharged she-who-shall-not-be-named and various co-conspirators.

As to the Empire Reconstruction Project, well, the Transportation Chair Tim Thomas took a revote (or UPDATED vote if you prefer) and the committee voted 6-4 in favor. But, due to allegations by a Ms. Karen Fleming of MTOPP & ESG (not the band, the MTOPP offshoot), that vote needed to be investigated by the Executive, who found his September Minutes to have carelessly omitted the original 4-0 vote in favor (because he was told it wasn't necessary by then DM Pearl Miles) and he promised to be more vigilant in the future. The Project was therefore returned to the Committee to start all over again, though not before a bunch of attendees weighed in on how Mr. Thomas handled the matters before the committee, many of whom were not present at the previous meetings, and probably should have waited til the actual committee meeting to make suggestions as how to proceed.

Mr. Thomas continues to contend that the Committee has done its job, looked at the proposal closely, voted not once but twice in favor, and been satisfied that questions and comments were either resolved by DOT or left as is, because they've decided some of the community's opinions are not negotiable for the project to work. DOT wants a letter of support. Mr. Thomas is considering simply asking that a letter be sent saying the Board can't reach consensus on the matter, since consensus and support are two different things. This, despite the fact that it really quite accurate, will likely be attacked by the minority opinion as inadequate. Apparently it's okay to vote, and vote, and vote again until the outcome conforms to your opinion. Such turn the wheels of democracy.

In addition, she-who-shall-not-be-named brought a toddler to the "removal of Tim Thomas" meeting last night. One would think that one would not bring a child to a meeting where one planned on loudly and rudely and angrily disagreeing and pointing fingers and ridiculing her neighbors, even once or twice placing the child on the table as if he were a human shield, or maybe weapon. This from the same woman who produced young boy at a previous CB meeting and tearfully claimed that kids like him are why she fights, because many of them will end up homeless and sexually abused in shelters. I shit you not, as I live in breathe, that's what she said. In front of the child, with her hands on his shoulders.

The Q will speak to Mr. Thomas to determine his next course of action. It is believed that he will continue to speak up for what he thinks is right, and wrong, with CB9 and she-who-shall-not-be-named, except by the anagram Cabia Doily. On the other hand, he might go to lunch as he's hungry and his head is throbbing.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

CB9 Executive Committee Entertains Boyd & Fleming

The Q is stunned to learn that "She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named" has such a warm seat at the table of the CB9 Executive Committee. For the time-impaired, the Exec never legally voted to strike my revote on Empire Blvd Reconstruction that passed 6-5 on Wednesday. Frustrated. Yep. Not even sure what this all means. Guess we'll find out on Tuesday night.

Wildest of all, they agreed to hear the disagreeable Cabia Doily's "Community Led" alternative proposal for Empire Blvd as a full agenda item at upcoming Tuesday's full Board meeting. Doily's community must be very narrow indeed. She's earned the animosity of all the elected officials, the Jewish Community and the dozens of people she's called out for "lies" and "corruption."

I know my fellow Board members are doing their best. It's a tough situation. But I guess I would have thought we'd have shut Cabia Doily down by now. I have no problem calling her out as an enemy to dialogue, compromise and democracy itself.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Wack Zoning Makes Strange Bedfellows

Fedders & this. Seems to be where we're heading.
The Q's having one of those days. Cabia Doily managed to convince the underprepared Exec Committee of CB9 that yours truly should be "tried" for corruption. For faking a vote on the Transportation Committee which happened in front of the committee. The strategy of CD (a/k/a AB) is to shut down all talk around anything she doesn't agree with. It appears to be working very, very well. One can't count on anyone to do anything but cower, afraid of what exactly I have no clue. Anything. I can't get a single vote out of the Transportation Committee. On Wednesday a guy from DOT came to show us how they want to put neck-downs at the major intersections around the school PS 221. No brainer, right? Shorter intersection to cross for kids. Safer. Much safer, being done all over town. We're not even talking about losing parking or lanes to drive. One newly appointed committee member says she can't vote on whether to send a letter of recommendation. Has to go out and see it herself. As if her years of non-expertise her look-see will shine a light. I'm now living in an alternate topsy-turvy reality where the only conceivable point of people applying to be part of the CB9 process are people hell-bent on making life as miserable as possible. Stop the City from doing anything. Call out everyone for being corrupt and not following the "process." Pure insanity. Now I'm being summoned before the Exec to explain a vote that happened in September that I talked about in October that we didn't vote on in October, November or December and then I took a revote to make everyone happy and now they say the revote shouldn't have counted because they're trying to figure out whether the first vote in September really happened even though it was never voted on at the full Board meaning it's basically been nothing but discussion up til now. And when I told them to ask the other committee members that were there whether the vote happened that doesn't seem to be the point even though of course it's the whole point except that the real point is that Cabia has made it clear to her allies that she won't rest until I'm off the Board. Let's see, she cost a woman her job (Pearl), and a Chairman his gig (Dwayne Nicholson) and cheated the whole neighborhood out of a City Planning Study. Mrs. CFB still can't believe what she witnessed at a ULURP committee meeting the other night (she'd never seen one in action), where non-committee members spent much of their time muttering throughout the meeting at which, I shit you not, Cabia Doily stood in the middle of the room talking and refusing to budge until she got her way. She's her own original Amazon series, free to anyone with Prime.

I just read another note in which the dubiously organized Empire Study Group claims that by resisting everything they'll keep shop owners and residents in their homes and fight gentrification. Let's see how well that works, shall we?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Attack of the Tear-Downs

Thx Rachel, at DNA Info, for putting together a map that does justice to a building-by-building neighborhood assault on 100-year old houses, often just one narrow lot. Don't expect any I.M. Pei masterpieces to go up in their place. More like I.M. Fedders. Who knows? Maybe 100 years from now people will venerate the Blocky BowWow School and Finger Building trends of the early 21st Century. I'd throw the teardown of the crazy berserk-eclectic haunted house on Clarkson just east of Bedford as well.

Monday, January 18, 2016

MLK: Not Just A Dream

In some ways, the "I Have A Dream Speech" may have hindered the revolution. Or rather it's simplistic message. The part at the end? The one that was easily memorable and palatable to the Nation as a whole. It was the right speech for the right moment, in D.C., to the agents of power on a national stage. So telling that the only part remembered is the part that whites embraced wholeheartedly.

But Martin Luther King, Jr. was powerful because he was FEARED, not because he was a gentile poet. Whites were terrified of MLK, of his popularity, or his organizational prowess, and his ability to control the media message. He was an enemy of the social order, and had he lived it's possible to imagine he could have kept the revolution on track, gaining speed rather than withering in the idealism and negativity (the two can easily go hand in hand) that marked in the rise of both Hippie and Panther. With MLK around, perhaps the revolution wouldn't have turned so far, so fast, into the rise of the Right. Nixon, Reagan, Bush. War on Drugs (War on Blacks). War on Liberals. Rise of Greed, Rise of Me. Rise of Self-Actualization. Loss of Community. Loss of Conscience.

This is the first MLK Day since Charleston last summer. Remember that? Terrorism in a church? Why does that sound so familiar? Ah yes. Birmingham bombing, 1963. Why do so many of the issues that I write about seem so familiar? Oh yeah. No progress. In myriad ways, none. I came across another reasonably "palatable" MLK speech, at Oberlin in '65, addressed to a largely white audience.
We must face the honest fact that we still have a long, long way to go before the problem of racial injustice is solved. For while we are quite successful in breaking down the legal barriers to segregation, the Negro is now confronting social and economic barriers which are very real. The Negro is still at the bottom of the economic ladder. He finds himself perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. Millions of Negroes are still housed in unendurable slums; millions of Negroes are still forced to attend totally inadequate and substandard schools. And we still see, in certain sections of our country, violence and man's inhumanity to man in the most tragic way. All of these things remind us that we have a long, long way to go.
Fifty years on and the speech could be delivered, without a blink, today. Perhaps it's telling that the only edit needed would be a descriptive word - Black for Negro. And further, he argues that it is simply not a matter of "time" to fix the problem. It took years for MLK to get to the point of a Voting Rights Act, but compared to the lackluster gains since, it seems like a blink of the eye. In such a short span, MLK was able confront and largely extinguish the worst excesses of white on black terrorism in the South. And to do so without taking up arms? Astounding. Brave. He goes on to say explicitly what time alone will not accomplish:
Let nobody give you the impression that the problem of racial injustice will work itself out. Let nobody give you the impression that only time will solve the problem. That is a myth, and it is a myth because time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I'm absolutely convinced that the people of ill will in our nation - the extreme rightists - the forces committed to negative ends - have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. It may well be that we will have to repent in this generation, not merely for the vitriolic works and violent actions of the bad people who bomb a church in Birmingham, Alabama, or shoot down a civil rights worker in Selma, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say, "Wait on time." Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals. Without this hard work, time becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. So we must help time and realize that the time is always right to do right.
Silence. Indifference. Reminds me of the official response to "Black Lives Matter." Frankly, Hilary should lead with it, take away Bernie's edge. I guess polls suggest not to? Clintons are very, very good at reading polls. Better than Trump? One would hope.

Today the Q salutes the memory of a revolutionary. A tactical genius. And a much more radical leader than a certain familiar speech would suggest. And remember, the speech itself came at the end of a warning. That blacks had come to cash a check that had been written but never honored. And if the promissory note wasn't honored, well...
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual.
Perhaps the real Dream, the national Dream, was the rise of Reagan. Perhaps we've been sleepwalking, or grieving. History will see it as a continuum, where we see it as a series of present moments.

Last observation. If you read the Oberlin speech there are many references to the global fight for justice. Communism, too, it's global threat, and is mentioned many times. Seems out of date? Of course not. ISIS and radical Islam, despotism and yes even heavy-duty and heavily-armed Communist ideology are very much with us. North Korea. China. Global justice, vast migrations, hunger, holocaust. Throw in a touch of global annihilation and damned if we aren't living through not so much peacetime and prosperity; more a potential awakening, or vast uprising. Would that we had someone with King's moral authority to lead through that moment. I'm sorry to say that Bernie is not that guy. Sorry. And most tragically, neither is Barack.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

I Am Peace - Local Kids Doing The Right Thing

Folks from the outside may have good intentions. But as we've learned from the "Interrupter" model of dealing with street violence, the most effective way to stop the bloodletting is from the inside - from people who get the causes and know the players. Recently the Q wrote about GMACC, a committed group of folks dedicated to employing former gangbangers to help stop the escalation of resentments between rivals, before tragedy strikes.

And in the case of the local group BlackMarketWares is a terrific group of young folks (Christian Waterman, CEO; Anika McInnis, COO; Theod Elien, Creative Consultant; Marc Maxis, Marketing and Design Consultant centered around the Ebbets Field Apartments area and Jackie Robinson Playground. Started as a "lifestyle" brand, they turned to community work as a smart way to grow their brand and combat the bad juju that  despite so much that's creative and positive about young urban culture.

The Q strongly encourages you to watch their documentary for their I AM PEACE initiative. Trailer below, then the doc, and then a way to help out.

Watch the whole documentary here:

YoungKings on Slam

The fact is, they need some dough to put on their tournaments. Not a ton. But if you want to help, just do the Go Fund Me thang:

Fund the Peace

Friday, January 15, 2016

More MLK Day Activities

Lindiwe Kamau runs the fantastic Expressions In Ceramics on Nostrand. Don't let MLK down! Doing something positive, educational or neighborly on the "day off" is totally the way to go. Be sure to send an email before you go to reserve a spot! Free juice and smoothies from House of Juice. Making pots. Painting Faces. Don't miss it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Loogieman Identified - Spitting Image of Description

The cops say they found the loogieman who's been spitting on neighbors. A lot of questions have come up about the legality of spitting in people's faces. And while it might not be a common enough crime to warrant special penalties, it's still a public nuisance of the highest order. The Q thinks that giving the guy a good talking to and evaluation was the right move. Talking to the Family sounds about right too. Hopefully that's enough to make him stop. If not, you could always take it to the D.A. and see what they want to do. But no, it's not okay to spit in faces. That's one thing I think we all can agree upon?

Earlier this week the 71 Precinct brought in an individual we believe was responsible for spitting on several members of the community. During the investigation we determined that all the crimes he had committed were violations and were not subject to arrest. These crimes were documented under Harassment violations and are not arrest able offense's unless witness by a Police Officer. The individual was referred to Kings County Hospital for psychological evaluation.  We are in contact with the family and will be provide any additional assistance that may be needed. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Learn All About the Neighborhoods Current Zoning - Tonight!

Yep. Mr. Richard Bearak, he of the Borough President's office, the Brooklyn Bard of Zoning, will be on hand to discuss, describe and answer questions about zoning, what it is, what it could yield.

Monday, January 11, 2016

And If All Else Fails...Thursday Night!

The Q's always been suspicious about Landmarking for some reason. Why that, he asks, but not this? Why yours, not mine? Some things seem obvious. The Taj Mahal shouldn't get torn down, or the Pyramids. Maybe best to hang onto the White House and Mt. Rushmore. I guess the whole 7 Wonders thing and World Heritage Sites are sort of the world's landmarking system. Some things just shouldn't be susceptible to the vagaries of the free market, I guess. Closer to home, the old Penn Station shouldn't have come down. So I hear. That was the demolition heard round the world, and set in motion the effort to preserve our cherished icons. Let's keep the Met, and the Empire State Building, as long as they're inhabitable anyway. The Brooklyn Bridge. Central Park. Greenwood Cemetery (actually, that's still not landmarked...but soon).

But when it comes to individual neighborhoods or buildings, privately owned and occupied, a lot of it comes down to the petitioners hard work and perseverance. And taste. It was never a lock that brownstone neighborhoods would stand the test of time and deserve their own historic status. They were, after all, houses like any others. And yet they became iconic. I'd argue that Sesame Street had a lot to do with it; plus the tantalizing veneer of sandstone and all the nifty shapes that could easily be carved into it. A lot of people don't know that these houses are made of brick. I didn't til I moved into one 13 years ago and saw some of the stuff falling off the walls. I assumed, not being a builder myself, that the whole house was made of the soft stuff. Except for the super high-end homes in the toniest neighborhoods, brownstones and limestones are brick row houses with what could arguably be called the vinyl siding of its day. Some people hated them, especially when they were grouped in tens and twenties. It's not that they're not nice - of course they are, that's why they're so damn costly. But in the case of brownstone neighborhoods, there is a certain Victorian allure that doesn't really gibe with reality. Read Osman's "The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn" if you're on the fence. It's like we want to believe there was a gloried past devoid of greedy developers and displacement, when the middle class lived easily and comfortably in a rarefied world and passed each other to the tip of a hat and eloquent repartee. Phrases like "the Manor" or "the Heights" or "the Slope" suggest an air of flippant superiority, and it's all very well and good and cute and harmless. After all, we must have a roof over our heads and it might as well be a "historic" roof. Plus, some have grown mighty rich investing in these cookie-cutter houses.

But what makes a grouping of homes, or of blocks, historic enough and elegant enough to be "designated" a landmark? The Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Historic District is a terrific example of neighbors identifying the singular beauty of their neighborhood and petitioning the City for the right to remain "as is." You can't designate the whole City of course...there'd be no room for growth or renewal and frankly the City wouldn't be the City if it were a museum. But keeping parts of the City off-limits to the whims of commerce means you can walk through history even as you revel in its constant reinvention. It's modernity, but with a side of old comfort.

At this moment in our neighborhood's history one wonders what will become of the non-landmarked areas. My block, for one, is a Neo-Victorian Shitshow. How's yours? Recent landmark successes like "Chester Court" and the group of townhouses along Prospect Park called "Ocean on the Park" give a clue to what might win over the good folks at Landmarks Preservation Commission. Check out that link. Lots of cool places have been landmarked through the years, and the City should be grateful for the work of the individuals on the ground who get the process rolling and then persevere. Are you one of those sorts who's ready to roll up her sleeves and get busy? You'll need patience and great organizational talents to herd your neighbors into a common cause. Unless of course you're planning to landmark just one building, like say the little Pentecostal church on the north side of Clarkson I (that is, Clarkson btw Flatbush to Bedford). I have absolutely no idea what about it is landmark-able, but what's the harm in trying? I'm planning on submitting an application just for giggles.

As anyone within buckshot will tell you, the Q's been trying to get folks to rezone the neighborhood so we can protect the lowrise character of the inner blocks and focus new residential development on the avenues - Nostrand, Flatbush, Empire etc. Made tons of sense to me, rather than the herky-jerky stop-start tear-down attitude currently all the rage. The City was warm to the idea and willing to make concessions in order to build responsibly where possible. And look at infrastructure and schools and...but no matter. Cabia Doily (it's an awkward anagram) saw to it that no such conversation happened in time to preserve the inner blocks. Heck by now we could have limited height and demanded a certain amount of affordability towards the neighborhood's future. But sigh. What's left? Landmarking. And a prayer.

Come out Thursday night and hear all about it. If you have a dream to make sure your neighbors can't sell out to a tall skinny middle finger apartment building, here's the way it's done.  

Celebrate Martin Luther King Right Here

Thursday, January 7, 2016

150 Sterling Street Gets Visit From Grinch

Apparently Christmas was cancelled at 150 Sterling Street, when The Grinch, dressed as narcotics officers from 71st Precinct, removed all the presents, tinsel and holiday goodies from the home of Richard Ramos:

Thx to Rachel from DNAInfo for the story.

All the Latest From Your Councilman. And I Do Mean All.

When he's not fighting the good fight, staying abreast of local issues, taking on unscrupulous landlords and organizing constituents around major points of interest, your Councilman has other things to worry about. Apparently, a homeless man has threatened him, meaning that his master black belt in karate (true - he offers that detail on meeting) has been augmented with tax-payer paid security detail. Apparently, the scary homeless man who expressed verbally abusive behavior also knows the Councilman's black Mercedes by sight. Which is not really a surprise, since it has vanity plates announcing that it's his. More from The Daily News.

I guess when you're a bold champion of the people, sometimes you're gonna ruffle some feathers. Just a question: the security detail around "his home." That's the one out in Canarsie, correct?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

CBS Cites Sinister Serial Spitter

Viewer Discretion is advised. The story of the serial spitter has been known to excite the gag reflex. WCBS on Serial Spitter. Local activist Seth K created a map of the alleged attacks:

The police have finally begun to take the issue seriously. And while it's been determined that this is not a "serious" crime, it would strike the Q that the reason to arrest the man would be tell him that we're onto him and will be very, very disappointed if he continues to hawk loogies.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Cell Phones & Pistol Whips

The Q would never make light of a violent crime. His curiosity alarm went off though, when the NY Post noted the brands of cell phones snatched in an armed robbery down the Flabenue near Church. Read on:

Three gunmen robbed a Flatbush tax company over the weekend, police sources said. The robbers ordered two male employees and a female customer at Liberty Tax Service on Flatbush Avenue near Church Avenue to get on the floor just before 10 a.m. Saturday, according to police sources. The crooks took $475 and a Galaxy cellphone from one 40-year-old worker. The 43-year-old manager of the store was pistol-whipped in the head before the thieves also took his Galaxy cellphone and wallet. The customer, 21, handed her iPhone 6s to the thugs, who then fled, police sources said. No shots were fired and the manager refused medical attention.

Interestingly, the iPhone 6s was handed over voluntarily, while the Galaxy's (no model number) were taken forcefully. Does this mean there has been a wholesale change in the value of the company's products? Stock investors, take note.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

It Happened in 2015

Like any blowhard - sorry blogger -  the Q loves to recap and reassess at the end of the annum. I'm told the Q is considered a guilty pleasure by some, as in "the blog you hate to love and love to hate." I pay the critics no mind. I have no advertisers, nor electorate to please. Even my wife stopped reading. But to those who've been bored and sick enough to lend your ear, I must note that I'm fully aware that I take a hard tone and cast a nasty line in order to catch a slug or two. It's intended as good fun, the old fashioned fork-tongued gadfly thing, the kind of muckraking thoroughly unprofessional ranting that aims to take no hostages and tell it like it is. Though throughout I hope to share my love for humans and the very real struggles of life in the modern age. I don't actually HATE anyone, and despite the tough talk, I wish no ill will on my fellows.

To further frustrate myself and others, I often take a firm position, then infuriate by changing my mind. This, I'm told, is what blogs are for - wanton infuriation, Bloviation, navel-gazing and jaundiced analysis, followed by introspection and contrition. And silliness. The hope is that every now and then I hit the mark, and it feels right enough that it sticks, and suddenly I can put into words that which used to baffle me. On issues of class and race my brain is constantly awhirl, as if I were a beginning Physics student staring at the world's most sophisticated theorem and wondering if it will ever make sense. So here we are. Another year, another waste of nearly 50,000 words.

Now to the recap. The best and worst of the neighborhood crowned at roughly the same time, like sinister fraternal twins. Two swell local guys opened Brooklyn Greenery and my colon rejoiced. Then, Veggie Castle, became an iHOP in a terrificly hideous piece of half-ass development on Church Avenue. The Q was preoccupied and disillusioned with fighting for smart planning and contextual zoning, while some had decided the City was to blame for everything and couldn't be trusted for so much as a building permit. Meanwhile, "she who cannot be named" and a few others  made it nearly impossible to go forward with a reasonable approach to affordable housing and development by choice and design. The City had (and sadly HAS) nearly written us off as incorrigible and unreasonable. (Actually I think I'll merely rearrange the letters of our nemesis' name, like Lord Voldemort. So from here on out I'll refer to Alicia Boyd only as her anagram, Cadia B. Doily. It's all best summed up by Cadia's extraordinary attempt to:

Keep Empire Shitty
Thank You Paul G. for this. Had I a car...

Enough. 2016 will undoubtedly be...who the hell knows? Economic meltdown? Terrorist shitstorm? Trader Joe's? All three?

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Flabenue Turns '16

Why do we say "Happy New Year" anyway? It's as if it's a demand, or we've already decided. "Have a Happy New Year" sounds optimistic, but not overly assured. There's still a pretty good chance you'll have a shitty new year, but let's hope for the best, shall we? Anyhow, Happy New Year. I mean, why the hell not.

Setting aside the much ballyhooed controversies around residential development of the neighborhood, it's instructive to see just how much has happened on the commercial corridors. Both Rogers and Nostrand showed tremendous signs of vitality, with everything from pastries to coffee to wine to Mexican and pie and juice. But Flatbush Avenue is still main street to the Q, so I walked Empire down to Clarkson to take in some of the changes. Seen in one viewing it's quite remarkable how many options have popped up, with many exciting ventures on the way. The big question remains; how many of the long-running shops will be able to afford the high-price short-term leases being offered these days by the  new landlords, or by old landlords who've woken to the new reality. After all, they ain't running charities. They're trying to make or save a buck like everyone else, and I do mean EVERYone else, not just the greedy landlords, I say after one-clicking on Amazon Prime and checking the thermostat and cranking up the boiler, then plugging in the HP Laptop and drinking seltzer from my Soda Stream wearing clothes that NEW cost nearly nothing. You probably get where I'm going with that, so I'll switch to the pics.

Phat Albert Losing Weight
Phat Albert owner Albert Srour turned over the reins to son Jack. Brooklyn Commons, Planet Fitness and maybe a chance for the anchor business? On the other side of the abandoned Car Wash, you can now get growlers, do hot yoga, go to boot camp and co-work without leaving the building, and in whatever order you choose. Showers not included.

Wow. Talk About Location, Location, Location

New cafe, new Jim Mamary joint, and more cellular flim-flam ma'am

Love this Place and it's packed ALL the time

Next to new-standby Midwood Flats, here comes Shi Shi Sushi Shoppe Silver Rice

Great Pumpkin! Cinnamon Girl. And a few places that are likely to change soon.

Abdo on Parkside Is Still My Man For Computer Repairs, But Who Knows?

I fear for the stores in the below building, the one next to 626 Flatbush. The building just changed hands for gazillions of dollars, meaning the new landlord needs to start producing big numbers. Scoops & Nykkis would be devastating losses. Not feeling hopeful for (at least one of the) pharmacies and the Botanica neither.

Always exciting stretch, this one. Plus Joyce David is there in case you need to fight that felony.

The Dominican place and D Avenue going through big changes.

One too many deli's I guess. Note - they dozen or so delis are almost all on the East Side of the Flabenue. Hmmm.

This joint and Zurilee add pizza pizazz
Of course I forgot to click the now one-year-old soon-to-expand cocktail place, Erv's. Tugboat's been there foreEVER (two years) so they don't count as new. Oh and Kalushkat! What a brilliant felafel! fallafel! falafal! Whatevs, it's delish. And while we're at it, it's quite likely we'll see new stuff in the commercial chunk of this building as well.

And remember neither of the two new big residential buildings have opened yet - on Lincoln and 626 Flatbush. Which, as I'm sure you know, will be home to both Greenlight Bookstore and the Maple Street School's expansion, and more to come. Is the Tafari Cafe going to open to the public? The awesome pop-up shop this past month shows just what a terrific space Sandra's created. Let's hope so.

Ask around. This is by far the most changeover and new economic activity since, I dunno, probably the Korean War. Economies are delicate things, so who knows what the future holds? See you next year, same time, same URL.