The Q at Parkside

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

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

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Cancels Christmas

Couldn't help thinking of our old friend Burgermeister Mesiterburger at the BBG Picnic Night. (Talk about first world problems, but the Q's going for it, so settle in.) If you spend the roughly $100 for a membership to our dear Garden, one of the greatest treats of living in Central BK, you get invited to the after-hours Member Nights on Wednesdays during the summer. And on a few select evenings, you're even allowed to picnic on the grass! Oh hurrah, and hurray, say the little children. A chance to run and play on the most perfect lawns, with parents sipping wine and talking to neighbors and old friends from the playground, school or 'hood. Most Leffertsians seem to congregate on the beautiful open spaces just west of the cafe. It's a truly joyous occasion, and always leaves one with the most utter respect and love for the garden and its carefully coiffed arboretum.

Until last night.

Just after 6pm, as parents were laying out blankets and pulling out the corkscrews and quinoa salads, first one then two security guards show up, looking none too pleased. That's okay wethinks. They're just here to make sure the Garden's many manicured plants and trees are treated respectfully. Just as some girls have taken off their shoes and start engaging in the night's first cartwheels, and some of the boys start chasing each other, the directive comes loud and clear.

"Children must not play or run. If they continue you will be asked to leave."

The parents looked at each aghast. The children must not play or run? That's like telling the pope not to wear a funny hat. Or telling the fat lady not to sing. Or telling birds not to eat worms. Or telling Donald Trump to delete his Twitter account (is he actually gonna keep that once he's President? "Had lunch with Goofy Angela Merkel today. Her ratings are terrible. Not attractive. Doesn't have the best words.") No one can even believe it. The kids look at us like someone just cancelled Christmas. "What, no toys this year?" Clearly this directive came from someone without children, right? Lots of kids. Nice weather. Food and happy parents. Luxurious grass. Perfect setting. Good food. running or playing. Might as well ask the dollar vans to slow down.

So the Q wouldn't be the Q if he just sat there, so he goes up to the guy and asks what's going on, but this only makes him more adamant. So the Q goes to his superior, who says the rules are to protect the garden. Fair enough. Stop the kids who are climbing on trees or ripping up grass, I say. Escort out the parents whose kid bludgeoned a toddler with a plastic light saber. But don't tell our kids not to run and play. Nothing. So now I ask to be directed to the head of security and the membership manager, whose job it is to keep the numbers up for memberships. I walk all the way to the Brooklyn Museum parking lot entrance, and as I approach they say "there he is." Someone has radioed ahead. As I start in explaining you can tell children not to eat the bamboo, but you can't tell them not to do cartwheels the security man says "I was with you til you said cartwheels. Our job is to keep the children safe, and they simply can't be doing cartwheels." I ask if he knows what a cartwheel is, but that's not going anywhere good. So I hear them out. Sometimes picnic night gets out of hand, children running willy nilly, parents not watching them, pretty soon someone gets hurt or lost and the BBG gets sued. Has anyone sued the BBG over picnic night? No. But no matter. I try a different tack. "Why not tell your guys to find some middle ground? Stand down a bit, let's see how it plays out. The parents will do their best to keep the kids from (I gulp) hurting themselves by playing on the hard, hard, nasty, sharp grass. (Okay, I didn't say that, but I wanted to.) Much to my surprise, they agreed.

Eventually, the parents and children so outnumbered the garden personnel that they were forced to concede defeat. A few of our girls actually approached the guards themselves and asked why the "no play zone?" We were proud of course that our seven year olds were self-possessed enough to approach their elders like that, and the guards agreed that a few cartwheels, well designed and executed, would probably be all right. Pretty soon the garden was back to reasonable chaos.

By the end of the night we felt happy again, though with a bit of WTF taste on our tongues. Then today comes word from a local parent that during regular hours today she and her kids were aggressively scolded for getting too close to the sprinklers. They weren't even running. Or playing, really. So unnecessary. Simply not nessa.

The Q loves the garden so much. He's been going for more almost 30 years. He was in love with the Chunky Chicken Salad and saddened, no HORRIFIED, when they discontinued it. Then this new caterer comes in, and frankly, the lines are long and the food overpriced. The chili tastes fine, but it's too much broth and not enough, er, stuff. There's only two registers when there used to be three. Even the longtime workers seem unhappy. And don't get me started about the absurdly long construction time on the new garden areas. Is it, like, one guy doing all the work? They hired a landscaper from Long Island to come in on his days off?

To the Garden. Please. Three nights a year, for two and a half-hours at a pop, let the kids run free. And at other times, don't harass us. If you see something truly dangerous or disruptive, fine. But let people walk without their shoes off for chrisakes. This is about enjoying nature and appreciating the botanicals. And while the reeds near the little creek and the leaves on the trees are beautiful, they ain't the Mona Lisa. Tiny damages, when they happen, will grow back. Tiny damages, like the rift that opened with my beloved garden last night, will heal. Just..chill out, y'all. For the sake of the children.

You Wanted It; You Got It - Bagel Shoppe Opens

Nagle's Bagels. Lincoln Road. Near your park and your Q/B/S train station. Another notch in your lipstick case. Donating 10% of profits to Parkside Plaza, baby. Opens tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tonight A Score Gets Settled

Finally, I see all the pieces tonight, like the end of an HBO series. Now I can tell the whole tale, and it's really quite a shocker.

The Real Man of the Hour
It took decades, but tonight must feel pretty satisfying to Clarence Norman, Jr. Once the kingmaker of Brooklyn (he was the machine boss around here for many years as well as a State Assemblyman) he spent time in jail for shaking down judges. But before that, he had a "close friend" and campaign aide by the name of Carmen Martinez. Attractive and smart, Carmen applied for a job a couple decades ago at your Community Board 9 as its District Manager. She was up against an 11 year veteran assistant of the CB9 office, Pearl Miles. Was Pearl qualified? Of course. Was Carmen? Well, given that it's mostly a common sense job that involves political savvy, I'd say of course, if perhaps a bit too "connected" to be impartial. The Chairman at the time, and for many years before and after, was one Rabbi Jacob Goldstein. He'd worked with Pearl; he knew her, and knew he could trust her. Goldstein never cared much for Norman and his cronies, but he put up with them to get things done. Jake learns Clarence wants Carmen for the gig. Jake backs Pearl. Pearl gets the gig. Clarence plots revenge, but that takes time, both in front of and behind bars.

Then Jake and Pearl become the dominant force around here, mostly getting things done and taking no gruff. After Clarence spends time in prison, he states he's done with politics for good. Or is he? There are scores to settle.

First, he needs to get rid of the D.A. that put him behind bars. Stealthily he puts together a solid campaign, from the shadows of course, to knock off the once-unbeatable white Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes with the capable though decidedly not-white Ken Thompson. Ouch how that must have hurt Hynes, the Big Kahuna out in Breezy Point, Rockaways, where it's over 99% Caucasion. The corrupt politician you took down comes back and settles the score, and every day you gotta face the firemen and cops that make up your neighborhood, head hung low.

Next up, get Pearl Miles. In partnership with Borough Hall, now home to your one-time proteges Eric Adams and sidekick Ingrid Gordon, stack the Board with loyalists. Kick out the longtime chair Goldstein. "Help" the Board fire Pearl. The opening leaves an opportunity to replace Pearl with her onetime rival years, your old "friend," though many years after the initial duel! Everyone's older now. Pearl was almost ready to retire. Jake and Norman are likely in their 70s. Carmen? A woman never tells, a man should never guess. Ironically, of course, Pearl, among other things, claims age discrimination.

Crazy side bar? The BP stacked board doesn't even mind that Carmen was last fired by Comptroller Scott Stringer, though in fairness it's been suggested that that was political since Carmen was supporting a Stringer nemesis. She's been the presumed hire for months now, long before the Board went through the charade of putting together a committee and vetting resumes. Apparently, calling for references is no longer part of the hiring process. Unless of course they bothered to call just one - ex-Felon, corrupt boss Clarence Norman, Jr., who I'm quite certain would have offered glowing praise.

Tonight the Board met behind closed doors, again, but this time to seal the deal. And while I didn't stay long enough to see them come back from sequester, suffice to say I'm certain of the outcome. Actually, it was just texted to me. Carmen Martinez will be our District Manager. She'll be the one you call when you need a street tree or to complain that the drains on the street are backed up or to help you get permission for a block party. Oh, and there's the part that IS political, meetings, agenda, access to people and communication between, say, Borough Hall and the Board office, or say, Norman's First Baptist Development company. Pearl never did like Norman or Adams or any of them. She would always tell me they were all cut from the same cloth, that she had to put on blinders and just keep her eye on the work. She'd been called any number of names through the years, and she'd grown weary and wary. Now she's at home, maybe laughing, maybe not. To you, dear reader, I assure you. It's not funny. It's ugly, and it's anything but fair. Of the hundreds of people who applied to be District Manager, the only one the Board finds qualified is...the one we could have told you six months ago was going to get the job. And that was before they placed a single help-wanted ad.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that Carmen Martinez is a current CB9 Board member? Technically that doesn't disqualify her for the job. But she's spent the past couple years getting to know everyone who eventually ended up voting for her. She's even been answering phones at CB9 and holding down the fort while the Board has gone without a single employee in the office. And did I mention that Carmen is actually related to chooser-in-chief Ingrid Gordon by marriage? Of all the people who are qualified, motivated, personable, eager and untainted by controversy and corruption the ONLY one to make it through was Carmen? 

Did I mention that I know for a fact that a very qualified woman who has worked for the community before offered her resume a few weeks ago and was told by the head of the new hiring committee that it was too late? "Too late" is after you offer someone the job. They didn't even read this person's resume

Pearl has a lawsuit cooking quite nicely. She wants compensation and she wants her old job back. Her lawyers have deposed any number of influential types, and they'll keep working their way through the list if they can. Alicia Boyd has lawsuits still in play, for shenanigans and foul play. After tonight, it's hard not to agree with her assessment. Even Hector Robertson, who tried desperately to wrest control of the hiring process from the Adams disciples, was dumbfounded at how blatant was the disregard for the community. He ran against, and lost, to Demetrius for the Chair gig tonight. Of course.

Do you remember the bit about how his committee chose three candidates who were NOT Carmen Martinez, then his committee was somehow disbanded for not following "the rules," which is hilarious because the Board rarely adheres to "the rules," except when "the rules" don't guarantee a desired outcome. Folks, this is madness, and you're being used, and there are actual real life consequences. While the Board plays these games, roads aren't becoming safer because of this Board. The neighborhood is being cut up and served to developers while Empire Blvd gets left to fallow. And we continue to have the single least-capable City Councilperson in town, who was actually endorsed in this last election by the Working Families Party, the Borough President and Jessie Hamilton among others more interested in loyalty to the machine than what's best for the neighborhood.

So. It's official. Norman and the BP's office got what they wanted. Part of me is relieved that it's over. But what kind of elected officials - disgraced or otherwise - go to such tremendous lengths to settle scores?

Petty ones. Petty people, with myopic vision and Machiavellian egos. That's who.

Good luck Carmen. Good luck Chairman Lawrence. And good luck Eric Adams, as you try to gain the trust of the electorate, so that they will hand you the keys to the City in 2021. So far, so not so good. I'm so disappointed, but I guess I should've known. The deepest, saddest, most unfortunate disappointment? Adams and I share priorities. He could've risen above it all. And why DID he meet with the AirBnB lobbyists at least five times and accept $32,000 for his non-profit? And to what end? If you're going to run a pay-to-play scheme at least make sure you get $100K minimum.

You can tell a lot about a person's character by the company they keep. Especially when that company is...Clarence Norman, Jr.

I leave you with a quote from then D.A. Hynes about Norman's conviction. Tonight we saw the evidence that Hynes spoke too soon. Voters; beware.

Mr. Hynes saw the conviction yesterday as the nail in the coffin of the Brooklyn Democratic machine, and a cautionary message for anyone who might try to revive it.
“We have exposed it for the evil that it is,” Mr. Hynes said. “Any political leader who engages in this kind of rank extortion, and think about it, any political leader who tries this, does so at her or his peril.”



long, long ago.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Ladies & Gentlemen - The Parkline

626: A Cathedral to the Times
Gonna be hard for the Q to stop referring to it as 626. That's right - 626 Flatbush has a proper name. The Parkline. Though it will come as little surprise to you, the "non" affordable 80% of the building does not come cheap. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the mid-middle class kinda gets shafted right out of the fee structure. That is, until we all get that big raise the boss is always a day or two away from giving us. By my rough estimates, if you are single, you'll need to be making at least $80K just to "hardship it." If you're a four person family, you'll need twice that and take no vacations - or come fully funded from prior endeavors or trust fund. That is to say - welcome Lefferts - to NYC's Professionals Club. From their intro email:

Rentals are starting  
Studio $2123
1BR  $2584  
2BR  $3553
3BR  $4430
Please note these are Net effective prices after 1 month free rent on a 13 month Lease. 

Note the note. To the math-challenged, that means the rent is actually higher than printed. In other words, the word "free" really shouldn't be utilized. A teaser-year might be more accurate.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

$1.75 Million Rim Job

The perimeter of Prospect Park has been the subject of much concern to advocates on "our" side of the Park, and rightly so. It's often been difficult to tell exactly who has jurisdiction over which aspect of the areas outside the fence along the rim of the park. But thx to some dogged locals (including but by no means limited to Amy M., Stanley G. and Seth K. add name here), word has recently reached the Q's ear that $1.75 million in capital monies will be ponied up to extend the Prospect Park Alliance's efforts to include not just Flatbush from GAP to Empire, but also the park rim along Ocean Avenue.

Interestingly, no such funds will be made available to improve Parkside from Ocean to PPW SW (alternately known as TD Bank Place). Why the piecemeal approach? The answer lies in the strange ways that our fair City draws maps, both politically and agency-wise. For instance, DOT gets the sidewalk to sidewalk, but Parks has the dirt closer to the park. Councilperson Brad Lander has Prospect Park, but NOT the perimeter outSIDE the fence. Oddly, no one seems to have or want the area from sidewalk to fence near the Botanic Garden. Perhaps Ms. Cumbo wants to stake a claim - it's already clear that bike lane is needed, but that's yet another set of agency and funding conundrums. As a result of the gerrymandering, we get attention paid to parts of our public spaces in the order of their priority. And who sets the priority? YOU have a lot more to do with that than you probably know.

By getting to know your elected officials and agency reps (Parks, DOT, DEP, DCP etc through the alphabets) you can become THAT guy or gal who keeps an issue at the top of the City's agenda. This City is lousy with individuals who have become "the High Line guy," or the "Brooklyn needs a baseball team" guy or the "Smith Street lady" or the "Atlantic Yards gadfly" or the "No Development on Empire Blvd lady (and I use the term loosely)" and on and on. In the Q's mere 27 years in the BK, I've witnessed numerous turns of civic fortune happen because of the vision and vigilance of individuals who outlast the bureaucrats and politicians to see projects to their fruition. It could be as modest as speed humps, as lavish as the Brooklyn Bridge Park and/or DUMBO and Navy Yard. Because NYC runs on the temerity and tenacity of its citizens (remember, the City IS us after all - the buildings and government are things WE built to make life more manageable and protect us from the excesses of individuals), I'm not exaggerating or getting all Ayn Rand on you to is up to you. Truly.

Good job all. Please do send me any other names of people whose vision contributed to this very good news.

(It's come to my attention that despite the popularity of crude comedy from such foul-mouthed writers as Louis C.K. and Chris Rock, some adults find the post title in poor taste. Apparently, the internet is attempting to clean up its act. The Q assures you that this gag is merely an attempt to prevent being linked to, but I'll never again take to using such crass language when referring to our beautiful park or its perineum.)

Friday, June 24, 2016

One Man's Trash Is Another's Gold

Who doesn't love a great stoop sale?

And who doesn't love this video by MC Front-a-Lot, who did, or maybe still does, live in the neighborhood?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Blue Sky on Rogers

Adrian snapped this for the F-book
For those at Rogers and Sterling, Blue Sky Bakery muffins can add to your Pels Pies for at least an extra inch or two around the middle - by Christmas. I think it was Alice of the Brady's who said "A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips."

No news of a gluten-free doughnut shop...yet.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Meet Your New Councilperson. Let's hope.

The Q has made no bones about his dissatisfaction with current City Councilperson Mathieu Eugene of the 40th Council District. In 2013, the Q took off the gloves and went to bat for challenger Saundra Thomas, who came within spitting distance of the two-and-a-half term incumbent. (Sorry for all the mixed sporting metaphors - but politics is like that.) The lackadaisical, uninformed and generally incompetent pol "Dr." ME has been granted the very odd opportunity to run YET AGAIN in 2017, despite term limits, due to the strange happenstance of his first election having been a botched mid-term affair after Yvette Clarke went to Congress. Having been hand-groomed by the Clarkes (Una and Yvette) there was no reason to assume he would be as vastly under-qualified for the gig as he turned out to be. But ask anyone who's had to do business with him - the guy is a stuffed suit at best, a great harm to his district at worst, and privately a laughing stock of the Council. Just try Googling the guy. You'll note that he doesn't even bother to communicate with his constituents digitally, such is the regard and esteem he shows you. And we have no one to blame but ourselves, because we've voted him in three times already, in super-low-turnout primaries that in Democratic Brooklyn is all you need. 5K or 6K votes is all it takes in a District of nearly 180,000 people.

Enter Brian Cunningham, already announced, already putting together a great team, already talking like someone who has a clue and possessing the deep neighborhood love that's needed for the gig. I spent a couple hours with him last week crisscrossing the neighborhood and talking about what makes him the best possible candidate to send Eugene packing back to Canarsie. (Oops. That's right; he already lives there. ME doesn't even lay his head in the District at night.) Granted, other candidates may enter the race. But to the Q's ear, Cunningham's already capable of beating Eugene. A third or fourth challenger would make it harder. But then again, who's to say it wouldn't make it easier? The point is - Brian Cunningham is a decent, hard-working, smart, young, electable guy with friends around town (he was an aide to uber-competent State Senator Kevin Parker and pals with all the electeds), friends who might just be gutsy enough to blow off the machine-politics-as-usual and back a guy who might actually take this office seriously. Seriously.

Brian grew up on Linden Blvd, right near SUNY Downstate. Our tour began at the apartment building that his mom raised him in. He remembers it all fondly, a rambunctious kid playing with the dozens of others who called his block home, playing tree-milk-crate basketball and causing mischief. He has Jamaican roots, though you wouldn't know from his Americanized English accent, though he can easily tilt back to an Island brogue as he hugs and greets friends along our walk. Every time I've ever seen him, he's wearing a nice suit and shoes, so he'll definitely give the dandy Eugene a challenge in the debonair demeanor department. The suit stands out on the blocks of his childhood; but it's no mere show of success. Brian meets every eye head on, as if to say "we can all aspire to something if we work twice as hard." He's even been mistaken for a newcomer buppie a time or two, but it's all good. Yet another example of judging a book by its cover.

As we walked building by building, you can't help but note that pockets of the neighborhood are so Pan-Island you'd think you were strolling through the halls of a Caribbean U.N. And yet the children and grandchildren of West Indian immigrants become, to the greater society, part of the extraordinary diversity that myopic America calls Black Americans. Which is to say, from the Q's view, that mainstream white American doesn't really know shit from Shinola when it comes to Black. Most of white suburbia gets its image from rap videos, local TV news and racist Disney movies. Rich, middle, low, poor, PhD to junior high dropout, urban, rural, suburban, north, south, west, southwest, fat, skinny, wigged or natural or bald the black experience is the American experience and yet so often it's reduced to simplified demographics for marketing and polling purposes. And as multi-racial becomes ever-more ho-hum, the insistence on labels becomes more and more absurd, even as the profiling becomes even more pronounced. In the Trump age, or trumpage (note the lack of a capital T, as if he deserves one anyway), one sees a last stand for the insanity that is the census. I really believe that bit about it being a last stand, hopefully not as bloody as Orlando and Charleston, but I fear the worst. I don't think we're living a nirvana, nor will we ever. But there is a desperation to this political year that I've never experienced, on left and right. A sense from the right, a potentially toxic and violent sense, that there will never again be a pure white entitlement, that it will forevermore be mixed with resentment and fear and the need by some to defend it. Not just because now there's been a black president and a woman president (yes, calm down, there will be and it will soon be past tense) and queers of every variety in every echelon of power and prestige.  But because that entitlement is at its core unfair, just like the denying of the vote or marriage or a shot at the first rung on the ladder. Oh, the battle isn't over yet. But damned if the first shots haven't been fired. So many shots, in so many bizarre NRA-fueled outburst, that it no longer feels like isolated incidents. Especially given the backdrop of police on citizen violence, and growing protests, and Bern Feelin', and rent anxiety.

This is the first of what I'm sure will be many profiles on Mr. Cunningham, here and elsewhere. You can read more on his website, so I'll spare you the details now; consider this a formal introduction. But mark my words, his name will become more commonplace in the months to come. By all means, seek him out, talk to him, get to know him, ask him hard questions about anything you like. Because come September 2017, we're already assured to have ONE thoughtful and passionate candidate in the race. The choice, dear Flatbushians, will be up to you.

Your next Councilperson?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sporty Expo at Parkside Playground

Shoot. I wish I'd heard about this sooner! What a great opportunity - I mean, when was the last time you got to try your hand at archery? Be honest. Ted Nugent, you keep hush. And this the night after Beethoven and fireworks for free in the park. Is this the greatest city on earth or what?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Daddy's Day @ House of Juice

By now you should have noted that Rogers Ave's "House of Juice" is just about the most creative small-business in the neighborhood. They've consistently shown up at all sorts of local events, offering free samples of their wares, and have grown into a neighborhood treasure through constant invention and menu additions. Even booze, y'all. So, if you're looking for a Father's Day treat, do yourself a favor and hustle, no, stroooollll, on over to 682 Rogers just below Clarkson.

best friend, guide, mentor and role model
June 19th 2016
special event hours 2PM - 12AM
Reservations welcome, call (347) 974-1985 for VIP seating
indoor & outdoor garden setting
House of Juice
642 Rogers Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11226
Enjoy Kombucha & Beer Flights, Wild Plant Burgers and Laughter
with the man who makes you strong.

( Wine, Mocktail & Jun Bottle Service Available )

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Q Moves On - Loyalty To BP Not Up To Snuff

Today it's official. The Q's five year odyssey as Community Board 9 member formally comes to a close. Yesterday he met with Ingrid Martin of the Borough President's office, and it's clear that he's not ingratiated himself enough with Borough Hall to make the cut. And yes, it matters whether or not you're in with the BP when it comes to doing the CB9, long the heart of then-State Senator Adams' district. Appointments are made to people the BP knows and trusts - Ingrid was clear on that. But the Q learned a ton more during his mtg at "The People's House," had some good laughs with Ingrid, and now feels strangely free. Ms. Martin lives in our neighborhood. Grew up here. Has been with Eric for ages and ages as trusted #2. No, says she, the decisions have been made, and I'm not being re-upped. Au revoir, les enfantes. And yes, the Q's sometimes cynical view of local politicians did not help his case.

As IM noted, as a member of the peanut gallery I can now take the gloves off against our common enemy AB. I don't think she fully knows the degree to which I've bare-fisted it even while on the Board these past years. And maybe I'll just skip the whole CB thing. It's been severe taxing to my nervous system. But like any great wreck, it's hard not to rubber neck. (That's a sweet line for a C&W tune. Feel free to nab it if you like.)

I've heard for the past couple years since Eric Adams' wholesale shakeup of the Board that my days were numbered, despite making allies and enemies a-plenty. But yesterday I saw the official sheets with my name upon them, showing that BP Adams actually never appointed me in the first place. I was a Marty Markowitz appointee who was given a one year extension by Councilman Mathieu Eugene. That is hilarious of course; the guy hates me, and only realized he'd oopsed when asked whether he wanted to give it to me again. I even learned that he didn't bother to make a recommendation for one of his Councilperson recommendation slots, and the BP asked if they could fill it for him and he said yes. I got that spot in what's called a mid-term reappointment, meaning I was finishing someone else's term.

Ousted chair Rabbi Jake Goldstein tells me that's absurd and never happens - only new appointments get the one-year treatment. Sorry Jake. It happens now. And I hate to be the one to tell you: the "old ways" are over. Jake has been ousted from the Board altogether, along with other longtime members. In Jake's case, of course, he was Chair for nearly 30 years, and canning him entirely is a kinda big dis to the Jewish Community. It's score settling time! First DM Pearl Miles, then Jake, then the rest of the old crew. Ed Fanning. Mike Cetera. Lots of others. Is Jake pissed? Damn straight. He's not going down without whatever fight he can manage, and he says he has "the goods to take them all down." We'll see! Read all about the suit here. I talk to Jake on the regular. Talk about stories!

But you won't hear the Q getting involved in any lawsuits. And the one against me by AB will go nowhere. CB's can be great deliberate bodies, and can help create tighter communities. This one? Nope. If anything it's torn apart what community existed here, especially by having to absorb so many new faces so fast. That chaos and naivete made Alicia Boyd possible. Maybe I'll come back some day, after Eric and Ingrid and this current crew have moved on. Which is likely just five years away, when Eric makes his (already announced) bid for Gracie Mansion.

To my count, 27 seats of 50 have changed persons in just two years. With an over-50% turnover I'd say you can count on CB9 lining up tightly with the BP for the foreseeable future. In particular, I expect that Carmen Martinez (Ingrid was clear that she's always been their first choice) will get the gig. The first hiring committee was disbanded, ostensibly for not having a quorum at all its meetings. But when Martinez didn't make the final cut, somehow we now have a new process. And guess what? Carmen's on the list! She's qualified of course. But I took the opportunity to warn Borough Hall that hiring someone who has been fired for "stealing time" and who is linked to a disgraced politician and convicted felon (Clarence Norman, Jr.) may be legal, but it's not going to sit well with a lot of folks. Sure, the firing of Martinez was probably political. Carmen had been working on a campaign of a Scott Stringer opponent, while working in Scott's office. And so he found a way to fire her. Or so the story goes. Ingrid and most Norman pals HATED Pearl Miles with a passion. She's still pushing her lawsuit through the courts by the way. And if she succeeds, you know what one of her demands is? Her old job back. How odd would that be? (Let me be clear - I disliked Pearl's rabid personality but thought she was extraordinarily effective. I think Carmen's super competent. But I don't think putting someone so politically toxic is a good idea for a civil servant job charged with serving EVERYone in the community. I think the plan will backfire. We'll see.)

What's fascinating to the Q is that he, me, is on board with nearly every one of the BPs objectives, including but not limited to, working with City Planning on a neighborhood study and rezoning, building affordable and market rate housing on Empire and making it pretty and commercially diverse, keeping people in their apartments, fighting predatory landlords, encouraging businesses to move here and thrive here, and helping to create an inclusive environment that allows both old Brooklyn and new Brooklyn to live and work peacefully as one. I like the way he both recognizes problems with racial policing AND the realities of youth violence - he was a cop himself. I love, love the way he's turned Borough Hall into "The People's House." Generally speaking, I really like Eric Adams. And after breaking the ice with his First Lieutenant, I found myself really enjoying Ingrid and her passion for doing what she can to help her neighborhood, her community, and the world, better resemble her ideals. She was an activist; but now of course she has to play the role of a political creature, and that means toning down the rhetoric. Unless, of course, you're Donal Trump, who more and more seems some sort of Eastern European style thug-o-crat.

Speaking of the Donald, yesterday I was riding my bike to work, through the park, and needed to pull to the curb, thereby slowing down and riding briefly through the walking/running lanes. A jogger who was approaching shouted "now you're taking over the walking lanes too!" After coming to a stop at the curb, I said as she past "don't worry lady, I'm just pulling over" to which she said loudly "Trumper! You're a Trumper! Go back to Manhattan you Trumper! We don't like your kind in Brooklyn!" I'm still trying to unpack that one. So much stuff there, and yes, I'm almost exactly Trumps size. But the day I see Donald Trump riding a bike in Prospect Park is the day I scrape my jaw off the blacktop. Backpacking and camping with Trump. Eating GORP with him on Earth Day. Arguing which is our favorite Toni Morrison character. Doing a few Sun Salutes. Hugs. Lots of hugs.

What's next for the Q? A shower. Beddy Bye. God Bless you. And God Bless the Borough of Brooklyn.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Trapping Speed

Leadfoots (Leadfeet?) beware!

You can find out, and even help other drivers identify, where red light and speed cameras are located throughout the City. Just click here for the map, or to add new cams as you find them or get ticketed. I screenshot (screenshat?) the speed (green) and redlight (red) markers in Central Brooklyn fyi. The City is limited to the total it may place as a result of car-loving Upstate legislators who control these things. But if you, fair neighbor, were to place one of these cameras, where might it be and why?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Give To the New Alchemy (Dare Not Say It's Name Aloud!)

What devil's potion dwells 'neath this cauldron's earthly seal? Ay, Magic Is Afoot!

What if I were tell you that there were a magic process, passed down through the millenia, to turn garbage into life-producing earth? You'd think I were mad. MAD!! And yet, it's true. TRUE!!

Give a dollar, ten or a hundred to the FREE community composting program at the Little Garden That Could - your very own Maple Street Community Garden.

To learn more and give (in dollars or scraps, or dollars AND scraps):

Crowd Rise for Maple Street Garden

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Phat Albert Gets In Shape

Phirst, neighborhood phixture Phat Albert opens a gym, right upstairs in phact - Planet Phitness. Then he opens a phreshly appointed co-work space - Brooklyn Commons. It's even got pherns phlushing out its lovely rooph garden. Even the clock on the tower will soon get a phresh phace. Phat itself will be gone soon, and in its place...well, let's just say that the neighborhoods' desires have been registered. He's gonna have to make a profit of course, and Phats is no dummy. He's actually already reached out to TJs. Oh, and he has an actual name.

Jack Srour, son of Albert, has taken the neighborhood by storm, some would say. (Here's my recent post on the rehab - even the clock's getting fixed.) He even lured 10 neighborhood "leaders" (his word, not mine) to a roundtable atop the decaying old Bond Bread factory at the corner of Empire and Flatbush just this past week. What say he? Actually he was mostly interested in hearing what the organizations in the neighborhood wanted from a for-profit co-work space like BKLYN Commons. Reps were there from the PLG Facebook page (Seth Kaplan), the Parkside Committee/CB14 (Duane Joseph), the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association PLGNA and PPEN (Brenda Edwards and Cheryl Sealey), PLG Arts (Noel Hefele and Bob Marvin), the Lefferts Food Coop (Deborah Brinkley), photographers Anton Gold and Luna Solo and more. The upshot? Everyone loves the idea of a night or two a month dedicated to meetings by local groups (free or heavily discounted). This might help groups attract more attendance and set the sort of regularity that helps with planning. In fact, Seth and Jack agreed on a free day for Facebook page members, so if you're not one, head on over to get the skinny (hint: its Thursdays for free first come first serve. You have to be a member though, or say you're a member anyway, unless Facebook is now issuing I.D.'s.) Actually, we've created our own I.D.'s, voluntarily opening up our entire lives to the scrutiny of law enforcement and corporations all in the name of "free" and "ease." That's another story, but it's now being told by researchers and academics and essayists alike and its terrifying or liberating or eh. We're so lulled by capitalist pleasures at this point that we've entirely given over to the system. Who knew? After reading Orwell's 1984 years ago I thought to myself that would never happen. It did. Right here. With nary a shot fired. Gotta go. Just got a text...

Some spaces are still being built-out

A large event space will accommodate bigger meetings, parties etc

From Roof looking towards Tivoli Towers and Ebbets Apartments

Down Flabenue Way - the Car Wash Is Owned By Else-One. Anybody Want A Car Wash?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Dorsey's - Visit This Neighborhood Institution - Sunday!

Dorsey's. Ever wandered by the gallery at 553 Rogers and wondered what was happening inside? Now you have the perfect excuse to find out. I mean the street it's on got co-named Dorsey's for God's sake, and that ain't getting undone anytime soon.

More on Dorsey's:

Lawrence Peter Dorsey, "High Priest of the Arts," master framer, patron of the arts extraordinaire, ardent collector and devoted mentor and friend to several generations of African-American artists and collectors, died on October 7, 2007 in Brooklyn New York's Methodist Hospital. He was 88.
In the late 1960's, Dorsey met the elderly owner of an art framing store. He became fascinated by the framing business. This fascination lead him to work with and learn all that the shopkeeper could teach him about the framing business. Then, in October of 1970, something happened that would change Dorsey's life and that of so many countless others. The shopkeeper sold the entire business to Dorsey! This was the humble beginnings of the historic Dorsey's Picture Frame and Art Gallery.​ The Dorsey Art Gallery is now the oldest, continuously active, black owned art gallery in New York City.
Dorsey became a master picture framer whose work rivaled that of any gallery or museum in the world. While Dorsey's profession was art framing, his passion was developing, mentoring and promoting African American artists and their works. He was equally passionate about educating, encouraging and developing those who were interested in art, into avid collectors. Literally, hundreds of collectors all over the country got their start at the Dorsey Art Gallery. The shop/gallery was well known for its magnificent art exhibitions, which packed the gallery with visitors who came for the art, the company, the music and the food. It became a haven for artists and collectors from the New York metropolitan area and beyond. Among the regulars were Ernest Crichlow, Tom Feelings, Elizabeth Catlett, Art Coppedge, Bob Blackborn, Otto Neals, James Denmark, Jacob Lawrence, Ann Tanksley, Christopher Gonzales, Emmett Wigglesworth, James Brown, and others to numerous to name.
On any given day, Brooklyn's art community knew that they could always find comfort, conversation, food, drink, an art education, art framing and even watch a game of golf at Dorsey's, at least until they heard those familiar words," you don't gotta go home but you gotta get the heck outta here!
In 2003, Mr. Dorsey's health began to fail and he could no longer run his business. With the consent and help of both Mr. Dorsey and his daughter Laurette, friends rallied around his family in their time of need. This support gave birth to the Dorsey Art Club, the forerunner of LPD Brooklyn Arts. Through their efforts; exhibitions, special events and classes continue to be held at the gallery. Mr. Dorsey left behind a magnificent legacy. His love of art and support of those who create it, was only equaled by the love and support he gave to children. LPD Brooklyn Arts is committed to the continued support of the legacies and traditions that he held so dear.​​

Thursday, June 2, 2016


They've been called a "terrorist organization" by a member of YOUR Community Board. That's right, the ISIS of Brooklyn has come to try to make life (gasp) safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, encourage improvements to Mass Transportation, advocate for the environment and the creation of a new Carless Caliphate. To date, they have not beheaded anyone for their beliefs. They themselves often where helmets. Perhaps as a precaution?

Come out and hear what they have to say, before your neighbors again lash out at them for promoting common sense.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Let the Games Begin

Mathieu Eugene, your days are numbered. (In politics of course. I mean no ill will personally).

With your help, we'll unseat multi-term do-nothing Council Member Mathieu Eugene next year. Never too early to spread the news. As reported by the Q last December, a solid challenger has emerged. And he's early to the party, so he has a better chance of extending a formidable fundraising and marketing apparatus.

A good guy, so say many, Brian Cunningham's hat is officially in the ring. The Q will do his best to get up close and personal. And this year, one would hope that the Powers That Be won't pile on support for Eugene as in years past. It's time to send him packing.

More from our good friends at Ditmas Park Corner, who will likely wade into this one with a bit more oomph than in elections past:

DPC on M.E.

Mathieu "Inside the Flag" Eugene, of the 40th Council District