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, August 4, 2016

Garrison Keillurrghhhspyatpfooyuck

Spitting Image
Since the Q is currently out of cell and wi-fi distance, he thought he'd reminisce a bit, but not before telling you some dude named Daniel was climbing trees up on Lincoln Road and giving the cops a chance to flex a new muscle. Tip of the Tongue closed, not so much because of the landlord Rong Ge, but because sometimes things in life just don't work out, business-wise and personally, and a coffee joint, no matter how well-located or beloved, becomes an albatross around one's, or in this case two's, necks. Gratitude Cafe changed its name but not its fabulousness. Some dogs got lost, others found, and alley cats remain goddesses to some and rats to others. It's a cruel world, and tree-huggers and cat-lovers CAN be friends, no matter what Rodgers and Hammerstein had to sing about the issue. Oh, and a pic of the serial spitter came thru on the Effbook. He's the guy spitting on moms and kids and occasionally fellows smaller than himself. And yes, he's not well in the 'noggin. Cops know him well, but there's apparently little to be done about spitters other than tell their parents and wear protective garb. Out in the sticks you've got Lyme disease; in Flatbush, it's this.

But here's what I really came up to the Town Hall to steal some internet to tell you:

Garrison Keillor makes me want to vomit. And I mean that quite literally. Let me explain.

Steve McCall and I had a plan to get drunk, back in the early fall of 1980, just as Ronnie Reagan was delivering his snake-oil pitch that would strike-out the labor movement, cut taxes, create a gleaming new oligarchy and turn America back into a beacon on a hill or make it great again or somesuch and start a war on drugs, a covert war against Contras, and help fuel the inner-city crack epidemic. But Steve and I were blithely unaware of all that, we were just two American kids growing up in the heartland, and maybe even supporters of John B. Anderson. If you remember THAT guy then you really ARE old and a bit sad, because he may be the reason you looked on at the Bernie Sanders with a twinge of melancholy, recognizing that political revolution is not as easy to achieve as a bunch of rallies and a good slogan.

We had a 1/5 of Jack Daniels stolen from a boy whose dad was a serious drunk. Never miss it, said Brian Gardner, though as many years later as a drinker myself I always knew exactly how many bottles I had stowed away, even if I couldn't tell you what day of the week it was. No matter. Brian sold it to us for a hot lunch ticket at Ames Junior High. Did I ever tell you that if you were still hungry after lunch you could go up and beg for butter sandwiches? Probably margarine between Wonder bread, but delicious nonetheless.

We had until 10 pm to get home after a night out on the old festive college town, it being VEISHA, a celebration that years on would inspire riots as drunken frat boys lit fires and looted liquor stores in mad mayhem fired by a seemingly reasonable want - to rock and roll all night, and party ev-e-ry day. VEISHA stood for the various colleges at the university...let's see, veterinary, engineering, industrial something, science, home economics and agriculture. That's right, home economics. It was Iowa, and it was the 1970s, and it was a land grant college, the kind that prepares farm boys to stay put.

Oh wait. It was homecoming actually. But VEISHA is a better story, so VEISHA (pronounced vee-shah) it is.

We bought cokes, in cans, though for me booze would later be associated with Big Gulps of Mountain Dew from the Kum 'n' Go. (Not kidding, that's what it was called. Another was known as the Git 'n' Go, then there was Quik Trip and Kwik Shop, but when you needed to satisfy a need, ANY need, and FAST, the Kum 'n' Go was the obvious choice.) The coke can was, and is, 12 ounces of sugar water. Dump the sugar water, you have 12 empty ounces of can. Fill it with Jack Daniels and you now have ONE SERVING of Jack Daniels. Right? Neither Steve nor I knew any different. The idea of an “ounce of liquor” would come many years later, it being a unit of measure against a never-ending imagined or occasionally very real war with a breathalizer.

After an hour of pure exhilarating buzz and spin, and a trip to our town's very first ATM, we found ourselves in a church parking lot, existential and laughing. I sucked the coke can dry and tossed it; Steve looked at me like he'd seen a black widow spider crawling up my neck. “You drank that whole can?” My answer, and the next 12 hours, will never reside in my memory banks. The cops were called as I wretched upon my ripped jean jacket while resting, I'm told, uncomfortably on my back. I guess I didn't know, or rather didn't care, that charismatic band members were known to die this way. And I hadn't even composed my first rock opera! At home my mother was, so I'm told, horrified, and asked the police “what is he on?” “It's only booze ma'am.” Wiser words never spoken. What harm can a little nip now and then do a fella? No hearts or lives have ever been broken due to hairs on dogs, now have they?

The next morning I awoke on a plastic tarp, covered in puke, wisely laid out by my biochemist father to prevent undo stains on the carpet. He stood over me and insisted in ungentle terms that I must do my paper route. It must have been six or so in the morning on a Saturday, and that was the hardest half hour of my life. When I returned the tarp had been rinsed, and I lay back down to another few hours of coma.

When I came to, my head felt like it had been smashed like an Oscar Meyer wiener into Oscar Meyer bologna. That's when I noticed, perhaps for the first time, the extraordinarily vomilodious voice talking about above average children and buttermilk biscuits and a lake with a pun for a name. Woe-be-gone. Hah hah. Hah hah. Hah aaaaereerggggghhhhyuhhhhhgggpyuuuuppp all over myself for the next 59 minutes or so as my mother prepared a horrible smelling version of Hamburger Strogonoff and seemed to inch the volume up on the wireless ever-so-slightly with every puke.

Never again would I hear the voice of Garrison Keilor without a wee bit of phlegm coming up in my throat and at least half a spin. Til that day only Carl Sagan's voice had affected me so adversely. And don't get me started about Ira Glass...


Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about Tip of The Tongue. I was kind of disappointed that they didn't stay open later though since I could never get there during the week before they closed. I also didn't find the place terribly welcoming. They made a great mocha, but it was hard to justify the price given that tugboat's is cheaper.

Anonymous said...

I bought coffe beans from TOTT maybe once a month when I was unable to get them from my place of choice. Their reasons I'm sure are exactly the ones given. Baristas may be a dime a dozen now, but competition for good ones I think would probably be pretty tough. There are tons of good coffee shops in this city now. Getting to my point, I never had a desire to go there and have a coffee. That strip of Lincoln is just so unpleasant that I don't want to even walk it anymore let alone would I ever want to work there and I would definitely never want to sit outside and have a coffee or a meal. The scaffolding has been up so long (is it three years now or 4) it's borderline criminal and I don't see it coming down for at least a year. The buses stop there so you have tons of people just milling about, smoking and throwing their cigs on the street? Trash is a problem and always will be until we get better cans from the city and more pickup. I mean every resturante that does not have backyard seating is going to have the same problem all along flatbush. No one wants to go out for a relaxing time and come face to face with the one aspect that everyone hates about this city - the filth on the streets. Save the "you don't like it, move" speeches because I'm 15 years in on this neighborhood and I already know I"m in a place where it is time to make a decision. Like you Q, I never wanted a freakin wine bar, I just want the streets clean and the crime low. I'd even settle for just clean streets. Just too many people. Think I've met my limit.


Anonymous said...

I'm 20 years in, and was also raised in the area. I came back to purchase a house after college, because I wanted to come back to familiar territory. I like the diversity of culture the neighborhood provides; as well as the accessibility to transportation, and culture institutions...the trash however, is getting to me. You think Flatbush avenue is bad, you should check Rogers avenue and the streets that are not in the manor. Every day without failing I'm picking up trash in front of my house; it's beginning to be too much. Like you Josh, I'm beginning to re-think if I want to stay; how long I want to stay; and at my age rather a quieter area with less crime and trash wouldn't be better for my physical and certainly my mental health.

Clarkson FlatBed said...

You know, it was the trash that got me interested in being "civic-minded" about the nabe in the first place. Led me to one agonizing meeting after another, about crime, sanitation, transportation, race relations, beautification, gentrification, development...what have I gotten for it? A lot of crazy stories, and frankly, the neighborhood hasn't changed as much as people say.

In particular, the trash is trash, as my neighbor Matthews likes to say. I pick it up too. And frankly, it hardly bothers me anymore. So...

Do you think Anon 5:42 perhaps the change is within YOU? As in, you've simply grown older? I wonder myself what age has done to my attitudes and tolerances.

The thing is, both you and Josh (and me) have options. And that is a tremendous gift, especially given the rise in home values.

Personally, I don't need quiet or peace or even low crime. I just need to get out of the City on a regular, to gauge the differences and accept them as part of the same world, and part of the same me.

And the suburbs still creep me the fuck out...

Clarkson FlatBed said...

Oh, and it's been really hot. Hot in the City makes everything worse - the commute, the stench, the attitudes...check back in late September when this feels like the greatest place on earth.