The Q at Parkside

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

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Needham & Gardner - Know Your Cops By Name

They're our "Cagney and Lacey." Names? Needham & Gardner. They're YOUR cops, and they should be on your speed-email. and They're part of the new and long overdue community policing initiative from the new leadership.

There's been a lot of talk in the news media about cops. The widespread belief in this country is that the Police view black folks as the enemy; that they too often profile; that they stop them more often, that they're more likely to use lethal force, and more likely to arrest and ultimately incarcerate blacks than whites. All of this is true to some degree, but as with any wide brush it belies the fact that there are many good cops who, when they take the oath to protect and serve, do so with a big heart and a desire to be fair and helpful. In my view, those cops need to be commended and promoted. The others, well, there's always security work at the mall on Staten Island.

So just as cops may internalize stereotypes about residents, so might we stereotype them. On some level we have to elevate the good and eliminate the bad. But we can't do without the police entirely. And so the Q would like to introduce you to two gentlemen who I believe have the neighborhood's well-being at heart - Officers Max Gardner and Sean Needham.

Max & Sean
 The Q sat down with the two men in blue over tea and crumpets (okay, Officer Gardner was finishing up some fast food and I was chewing gum) at the 71st, which I must say could use an overhaul if they ever put even a little money into the police stations themselves; this modernist low-rise is tremendously ugly and out-of-character. Also, an interior designer's touch is in order to - liven the place up a bit. Anyhoo, some things I learned include:

a) the new Community Policing effort is the baby of new NYPD Commissioner Jimmy O'Neil
b) the above guys are known as Neighborhood Coordination Officers, or NCO's
c) these guys cover Sector C (Charlie if you will) that means Ocean to NY Ave, Empire to Clarkson
d) they ACTUALLY read the 311 reports from the previous day, meaning your 311 calls do not go completely unnoticed, as you might have assumed
e) they tried giving out their cell phone #s but they're getting killed with texts, so please, email, and they promise to stay on top of them
f) they know a lot of the not-so-nice fellas on my block and nearby, by name, which made me feel better that they know their stuff
g) that most annoying drunk that hangs out on the stoop near Winthrop/Flatbush is named Roland
h) they're encouraged by command to get to know the community and attend any local functions, block association meetings, church shindigs, book groups what-have-you
i) they play a little hoops with the guys on Hawthorne
j) the Parkside Playground has quieted down a lot and it really is mostly about playing ball these days
k) there are pockets of gang members that they keep an eye on, but frankly there's only so much you can do without stepping over the line of good community policing
l) I offered, and they concurred, that we will not be able to stop every gang retaliation murder, but we have to stay open to new ways of preventing them

And that's where they won me over. They seem sincere about their desire to win our trust and work WITH us. But I gotta say that's going to be hard, and we all know it. They're going to have to be patient and tolerant of the anguish and resentment out there, because it's real, and it will fly in their face from time to time. On the other hand, it seems that they're off to a great start, and I'm a pretty good judge of character, and these guys are smart and sincere with a good sense of humor.

Let's give 'em a warm Sector C welcome, shall we?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Exactly Five Americans Swayed By Debate Enough To Switch Teams

In a live televised confrontation between an Interrupting Bull (IB) and an Intelligent and Qualified Woman (IQW)  last night at Hofstra University, the highly anticipated debate for POTUS was marked by jabs, stabs and outrageous grunts and facial expressions. With such pyrotechnics, it should come as no surprise that as many as five (5) previously committed voters in swing states felt emboldened to switch from Candidate A to Candidate B. Their stories:

1) A gentleman in Des Moines, a registered Republican and longtime manager for an agricultural concern, realized that he could in fact vote for a woman, so long as her demeanor was not too condescending and outfits appropriate for a lady of a certain age. However, he has decided that he won't tell anyone about the switch, not even his dog. (Net two for Hillary Clinton)

2) A Jewish snowbird in Florida remains on the voter rolls, despite her demise in early 2000. Her daughter usually cancels out her own vote for Democrat by voting twice, with the second vote going against the Jewish Floridian majority. This second vote has been for the Republican in honor of her dearly departed mother, whose support of Republicans stemmed from her lifelong support of the candidates least likely to hug an Arab. This year, the surviving daughter plans to vote just once,  under her own name, for the Democrat. She's also pledged to leave a small stone on her mother's grave on the eve of Yom Kippur, then write a touching memoir about the whole affair. (Net one for Hillary Clinton).

3) A college senior from Western Virginia (not to be confused with West Virginia) admitted she had been spoofing pollsters all along and decided to "come clean," saying that she would never vote for anyone who reminded her of her mother and that Trump had a terrific way of putting her mother, or rather Clinton, in her place. (Net two for Donald Trump).

4) A machinist outside of Gary, Indiana realized that the reason he no longer shopped in downtown Gary was not because of his fear of black people. It was because there simply weren't enough people in the Inner Cities watching reruns of his all-time favorite show Law and Order, in particular the early ones with Jerry Orbach. (Net five for NBC).

5) A staunch Bernie-Bro from Madison, WI ended his nearly two-month Breakfast Fast as a futile protest in support of the popular Vermont senator when he realized that only his girlfriend cared whether he ate before noon. The girlfriend had also steadfastly refused to engage in any of the carnal acts until he agreed to a) join her for pancakes and b) hold his nose and vote for "that tool of the establishment" who "basically blows Goldman Sachs bankers" every chance she gets. After careful and thorough consideration of his options, he experienced a super satisfying morning AND a darn sporting evening. (Net two for Hillary Clinton).

Of the nearly 130 million voters expected to turnout in this historic election, last night's debate - universally accepted to be handily won by Clinton - has resulted in a net gain of a couple of votes and the very welcome pledge by both candidates to honor the will of the people this November and NOT plunge the nation, nay, the World, into a crisis of unimaginable consequence.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Le Chat est Outa la Baguette

Can't deny it any longer. A French restaurant is coming to the Flabenue, at 701 Flatbush to be precise, previously a bodega. Confirmation is in the liquor application that's made CB9's monthly General Board Meeting for tomorrow-Tuesday on the agenda below. Chef's name is Boris Ginet. He says of his new comfort-food joint specializing in poulette:

 “[We hope to] reimagine the rotisserie experience, infusing this French traditional roasting style with the familiarity of the Brazilian staple churrascaria and the American ideations of comfort food. Various all-natural meats will be roasted in different culinary techniques, served with signature sauces and local, seasonal vegetables to create a cosmopolitan feel with minimalist, flavorful dishes.”

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Nothing New But the Outrage

Taking back my pledge not to opine on the upcoming elections. Can't help it. I have never before seen such hand-wringing by Democrats over how and why a douche like Donald J. Trump could be doing so well. Things have changed - the racists are out of the closet! The white male is ANGRY! The Republicans are out to EAT OUR YOUNG!!!

Look, I ain't heartless. I see the videos of people getting shot by cops. I see the brave marchers and the cries in the streets of Chicago. I can see that 9/11 led to a destabilization in the world FAR greater than the tragedy of the crumbling of a couple tall buildings. A hundred times more people have died since in needless wars. Thousands more are homeless and state-less. Civil liberties have been cast aside and zealots rule the roost. The waters are rising; folks starving.  But what's new, really?

Take Herr Drumpf. Sure he's a psycho. His politics are indecipherable. His manner wouldn't pass muster at a cock fight on a pirate ship. He's bigoted and annoying and undeniably ugly. And yet...he's just another version of the perennial Republican candidate for President. He has no polish, he has no discipline. He's the Republican Id incarnate. But is he really all that different? Perhaps only because he has no filter and a sick sarcastic sense of humor.

Look at the polls. They're in pretty much lockstep with every other presidential election of the past few decades, with the exception of the Reagan landslide of 1984 and Nixon in '72. Heady years those; heady years now. Given that, it's interesting the conservatives aren't doing even BETTER. But answer me this - did you really think that Republicans were going to up and dump their party en masse because their candidate lacked common decency? And I'm not trying to put down ALL Republicans as if there weren't some nuances there. It's a big tent remember - 100 million people or so! The KKK feels comfortable enough to endorse the guy but so do a lot of other folks, many who have morals and common sense. Some rush to disaster-zones and help out in tragedies, give money to the needy, and sometimes ARE the needy. Trump has 40-45 % of the electorate ready to pull the trigger, er lever, either with relish or holding their nose. Because that's what they do, Republicans. They vote...Republican. We're not a Parliamentary democracy - you don't get to choose the specific flavor of right or left leaning without wasting your vote entirely.

Romney was polished. McCain was savvy and a war hero. GWB was a dooffus, but not entirely unlikable (they say). GHWB had the Lyndon Johnson know-how and a gentle presence that made middle class Americans breathe easy. But they and Trump are part of a grand old party legacy that includes everyone from George Wallace to Susan Collins. Why don't Republicans see the truth about Trump? They never saw the truth about those folks either, apparently. Why start now?

The difference is the outrage. The difference is that the Tea Partiers (remember them?) now have a "disrupter" to vote for. They have a chance to stick it to that evil Clinton spouse. Theu can "send a message" and avenge the country for electing its first black president - from Hawaii via Africa no less - with a name that sounds like Osama. In essence, they're doing what Republicans do. Even Ted Cruz sank to his knees in an act of contrition and stumped for Trump. When one man endorses another he hates - that's the Two Party system for you.

The difference is the outrage. The visible outpouring of racial frustration over lingering issues of stigma and degradation, of neglect and coercion. This anger and outrage is exacerbated by Trump, but Trump doesn't cause it anymore than he pulls the trigger in Charlotte. He's a poster boy for the outrage, but he's still just another goddam white male Republican.

The difference is the outrage. My liberal friends are always busy tearing their hair out around this time in the election cycle. This time, it's a bit more hysterical. Even a lot more hysterical. The thought of a Trump presidency has a lot of us envisioning the end of the Republic generally. I don't know that Trump is crazier than Nixon, but we got through Tricky Dick somehow. I don't think Trump will win - he hasn't topped 45% even once. But when all is settled I suspect we will look at an electoral map that looks remarkably familiar. The more things change...

The country's stuck. It doesn't know how to move forward. But we're clearly in a 1965 moment of outrage and unrest and dis-ease. Disease is actually a good metaphor for the country's inability to recognize that racial divides equal political, social and moral divides. They must be confronted in order for us to move towards a more perfect union. And yet, it will take a whole-sale reexamination of the mechanisms of our society. And with white America generally uneasy, not just relishing their entitlement, it will be difficult. Very difficult. No one seems to think they've "got it good." And the ones that actually do got it good are laying pretty low.

So this, I'm afraid to say, is just another election between Republicans and Democrats in the United States of America. The stuff that you're seeing in the streets of Charlotte? That, on the other hand, is unadulterated outrage. And rightly so. Only the outrage is different, and one can hope there's more than JUST the outrage. Real change requires real organization, even a reconfigured Democratic coalition. 

Civic Minded - today at noon

If the shenanigans at Community Board 9 make you feel there is nowhere to turn to engage the City, Diana Richardson (one time CB9 Treasurer now Assemblywoman) devised a brilliant alternative - Civic Minded. Show up today if you can, say hi to Diana, and see where you can fit in, or just get some basic questions answered. This is the kind of radical rethinking of the old ways that fresh faces like Richardson can bring to our neighborhoods.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Can't See the City For the Neighborhoods

What a golden age of information! The Q can easily post and link micro-nabe info on crime, house prices, density, transportation, schools, sanitation and more. But lately I've noticed that there's a treacherous downside to the competition and comparisons, the one-upmanship and the calling-out others for their opulence and entitlement. We forget to be a City, which is the most challenging and invigorating and impossibly diverse family of all.

We live near a train, on a block, in a micro and macro neighborhood. We live in election districts, and precincts and community board boundaries. We live in a borough. We live in a City. We live in a metropolitan area. And lately, I feel we're being encouraged to think TOO locally. Buy local, vote local, plan local, rah rah rah local local local. Look after your own, protect your turf.

I've been in many, many community meetings over the last five or six years, and I've come to the conclusion that the word "community" can now describe everything, and often, therefore, nothing. Who is YOUR community? Is it big, is it small? Is it prescribed by race, religion, income, owner/renter, car/ped/bike/vegan/fat pt shorts/old/young/hipster or craft/coffee/tea/hair/gender or cat/dog/single/couple/family?

One of my favorite expressions, that I've used time and again, is "the grand experiment we call NYC." I live in NYC. It has a mayor. It has tall buildings and cute townhouses, commercial centers and parks, business districts, corporate headquarters and cultural meccas. The extraordinary health of this ecosystem means that Manhattan swells to more than 4 million people during the day, with 3 million on weekdays and just over 2 million at night. Its "outer" boroughs are dense giants themselves.

Real estate is about the vacant lot or new apartments down the block, of course. But it's also about the 100 story tower in downtown Brooklyn, the huge supportive affordable housing complex near Kings County Hospital, the shady lease maniputations at Ebbets Field apartments, and yeah, the new luxury residential towers on the Upper West Side, and around Barclays, and along the waterfront in Queens. Jobs have become more plentiful in Brooklyn, subsistence to overpaid. Some apartments are frightfully small, some have tall ceilings and strain to call themselves lofts. Some people have to travel 2 hours to work; some fall out of bed and serve coffee at the shoppe down the block. It takes, as they say, all kinds.

When I hear folks complain about THEIR block, THEIR businesses, THEIR parking, THEIR quality of life - sometimes I ask myself "where did the THEIR come from anyway?" I have friends who've lived in Tribeca for nearly 30 years. They've been lucky, and bought in when the old building went coop. Last year, the wrecking balls came and knocked down their longtime view - a new hotel is going up, and that'll be what they see for as long as they live there. Bummer? You bet. Goes with the territory. But they're still making it, in the thick of it all, in the Big Apple, city that never parks for long.

Unless, of course, you're fortunate enough to have your block or micro-hood designated a landmark. Now it's frozen in time. Charming! Gas lamps. Period windows, pure facades. But guess what? The City still grows. It yearns for more space but it doesn't have any. It pushes here and it pulls there. The landmark districts ensure that certain eras of New York continue to be represented, and that's cool, if expensive to live in. But - does it really benefit EVERYone? Only a flunker of economics would say so. Someone, somewhere, will have to bear the cost of every major land use decision in not just Lefferts, or Brooklyn, but in the whole metro region. Dare I say, the whole country, then continent and world? Like Will Rogers said...they ain't making any more of it.

There was a time when humans could think tribally AND globally at the same time. In the modern world, in a world being torn asunder by man-made activities and overcrowding of cities and concentration of wealth and housing shortages...we must still encourage GDP growth, or suffer the consequences of recession and depression. Perhaps we've collectively forgotten how dire it seemed just 8 years ago. Or the 1970s and runaway inflation. S&L crisis. The Great Depression. The Middle Ages for chrisakes. Yes, we have to grow, and we have to provide for our progeny.

But we can't be foolish. We have to plan for even larger cities and even greater needs. We have to sacrifice sometimes, our own comforts or habits, for the benefit of others. These others may not be our idea of terrific dinner guests. But there's an obligation, moral and for simple selfish fact of survival.

The questions of political justice remain. But it's worth asking, as the Republic makes a fateful decision on its future:

How big is your tribe? What is your neighborhood? Are you a citizen of New York City? Or of your house, block and back yard?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The View Of the Nabe From 626

A reader sent this map from the Parkline website, noting that all but 16 apartments appear to be rented. Really? I guess we'll see.

Here's the selective map they include with their promotional materials:

Once again, as Mr. Spock might say..."fascinating."

Monday, September 19, 2016

Empire Blvd - Never a Dull Moment

Hey the Q's no longer on CB9 so what do I care? Here's a note I sent to them earlier this morning, along with a picture of a nasty wreck over the weekend. (If you're new to ridiculous fight AGAINST major improvements by a bunch of novice transportation planners at this outrageously dangerous intersection, here's a primer.)

 Dear CB9 and Transportation Committee and Elected Officials:

Just a little picture to remind us that while CB9 fiddles, Rome burns. This was Washington/Empire this AM - the corner about which members of the Transportation Committee effectively stopped a multi-million dollar safety and infrastructure project from proceeding. This at an intersection that anyone with kids will tell you is an absolute nightmare, and just one accident away from every parent's worst nightmare. Apparently we prefer a couple spaces of parking and slip lane that very few cars even use.

In other developments (literally):

The Parkline (626 Flatbush) has opened its 23 story tower. 120 year old buildings keep coming down. No new affordable housing is being built - only market rate. The Bedford Armory plan has been shouted down. The streets and avenues are looking filthier than ever. The schools are not improving. Landlords are harassing and removing tenants. Longtime businesses are losing leases. Empire Blvd is more of a dump than ever, cutting the neighborhood needlessly in two and providing one of the ripest spots for crime in the entire area. Oh, and no new housing of ANY kind, despite the obvious need.

I wish you all a productive, sane and neighborly year!

tim "theQ" thomas
no longer of CB9
but forever a concerned member of the community

Friday, September 16, 2016

Dooooooooooooode! Nooooooooo....

No way. Really?


Did he think he was in Colorado? Did he grab the wrong jar, thinking it was the Maraschino Cherries?

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Frequent Flyers

It's September and that can only mean one thing. Flyers! Lots and lots of flyers. Meetings, events, new businesses, lost doggies. From science classes for kids, to a safety meeting in the Park, to Jazz (tonight!) up in the triangle by the Brooklyn Museum, to a grand Day of Mulch along the Ocean Ave side of the Park...the Q formally endorses all these events in the next few days.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Black Institute Fights Back

Subtitled: In NYC, you must never appear less liberal than your neighbor, lest you get painfully skewered.

Looks like the plan to build apartments and a recreation center at the Bedford Union Armory has hit yet another setback. Have you been following this story? If not, read on, it's a doozy. I'll try to condense...

We're talking about the big beautiful old Armory at Bedford Ave and Union. It was owned by the State, who sold it back to the City. Great! Now the City can make the "best use" of the building and land. The City, as represented by the  NYC Economic Development Corp, put the project out to bid. They wanted a mixed-use sitch. You know, market rate apartments, affordable apartments, and a big old recreation center. God knows there's room for it. Lotsa politicians wanted and want a piece of THIS prize.

The winning developer, Slate, recently landed in a bunch of corruptive hot water over another project needing City support. They dropped out of the BUA as a result. (Let's use BUA since it's shorter and sounding it out is kinda phun - I'm going for bew-ah). Now the developer to whom Slate sold its half of the rights - BFC - lost its star endorser and backer, the Knicks b-ball star Carmelo Anthony. Why? Because he was scolded by a woman named Bertha Lewis and a remarkably powerful ragtag collection of activists. So Anthony pulled out having been chastised for turning his back on the "real" black community. Lewis claimed in a letter that Anthony was being used to create unaffordable affordable housing and a rec center that the current residents would not be able to use (read "afford.)

Why do these shaming tactics ring oddly familiar to the Q's ears? (see a dozen or so previous Q entries over the past two years for the answer).

Bertha Lewis was the CEO of ACORN in NYC. You know ACORN, the group that was targeted by conservatives through a counter-insurgency by right-wingers and FOX news, then Republicans in Congress. A video surfaced, ACORN got buried as if by a mob of busy squirrels, and largely de-funded. And yet, there was no stopping Bertha and her devotees. She and key supporters became The Black Institute here in NYC. You'll also see the group NY Communities for Change involved in this and other efforts to block "affordable housing" initiatives that the groups consider Gentrification Enablers (my term). The thinking here - open for debate - is that by developing new market rate apartments and amenities, even with affordable components, you are forcing out longterm residents of color. I say "open for debate" because the question remains - if you don't build new housing, for ALL income strata, how exactly do you ever get runaway prices in check? This is not a purely Liberal vs Conservative argument. This is about economics, and sadly, where economics are concerned not everyone reads the numbers the same way.

Back to the Playbill. When Alicia Boyd and MTOPP needed folks to create the impression that there was a huge outcry about your Community Board 9 and its efforts to engage in a collaborative process with the Dept of City Planning - she got a lot of folks to come out to meetings from followers of both formerly-ACORN affiliated groups - NYCCFC and TBI. That's why many of the people shouting down your neighbors at these meetings seem to not be from the neighborhood. They aren't. They are part of a larger, sometime fractious but always rebellious movement to stop business as usual. And business as usual in NYC is about real estate.

Alicia has effectively shut down CB9. Bertha has effectively shut down the BUA project, both at least for now.

The pushback against gentrification - guided or misguided as you think it may be - has jumped into warp drive. To the point where politicians - black politicians especially - must now choose sides. Are you for those racist "Greedy Developers"? Are are you with US?

An economic "Sophie's Choice" perhaps. Walter Mosley, Diana Richardson, Laurie Cumbo, Eric Adams et al...there's an enormous Pink and Black Elephant in the room right now. And it ain't going nowhere. So whatcha gonna do?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Simple Machine

The lever. That's a simple machine, no? The idea of "pulling a lever" for a candidate is now officially a metaphor only. There are no more levers, or even those little metal thingies you'd flip to the side. Filling out a circle with a number 2 pencil feels strangely even MORE anachronistic than the bizarre Byzantine NYC election contraptions that were, until very recently, what I associated with the Brooklyn Political Machine.

Tomorrow we vote. No, not THAT vote. But why not get your circle-filling-fingers in shape for the big day in November, when the national character truly lies in the balance? It is remarkable just how powerful is the presidency of the United States, and yet, it's such an imperfect process to get the gig. I've heard many people lament that they'll leave the country if fat man (yes, he's fat, but no one says it, while trouncing on Hillary's shoes) gets the gig. But that's bullshit, y'all. When things get tough the chicken-shit get going. Listen bub: you stay, you double-down, you work harder than ever to put the country back on track. Sheesh, when did my compatriots become such a bunch of whiners? It's not like other countries are just dying to take us in, anyway. Hell they're fighting crackpot right-wing insurgencies of their own. Did women scram when they didn't have the right to vote? Did abolitionists decamp? Did gay rights activists just pull up stakes and move to...I dunno, Canada? Okay, maybe a couple or three. But still, you fight to create a more perfect union, no?

Tomorrow though you'll have some very, very strange but beautiful levers (sic) to pull. My favorite choice by far is that you will get to vote for Barbara Rogers and Carmen Castillo-Barret as two of the three members of the Kings County Democratic Committee from some subsection of the 43rd Assembly district. What does that mean exactly? Well, since they're pals of the Q I asked. And while it has something to do with choosing candidates and taking votes about stuff that the electorate is too dumb, busy or uninterested to handle on its own, even THEY'RE not exactly sure, but I'll hold them to the promise to check in and tell us all about what goes down at those shenanigan shindigs, or meetings or whatever they do...square dances maybe?

If you want to know who's on the ballot just go to, wait for it,...Who's on the So far it's one of the only reliable places on the web to find such basic information. Oh, a coupla ladies are running for Civil Court judges, but nobody's heard of them and, you know, what's a judge but a person who decides who's right and wrong? Not a big deal or anything.

After the past few years of rubbing elbows with folks, I'm shocked that I actually know most of the people running for the obscure Democratic Party positions. And I'm certainly happy to endorse most, especially those aforementioned "Mad Mommas," one who's an astute real estate broker and bold commenter here and on other social media (that's Barbara Rogers) and the other the creator of Kiddie Science, a wonderful out-of-school option for young people interested in the goo and guts of science (that's Carmen Castillo-Barret). Lots of the other names on your ballot (depends on where you live precisely) are cogs in what is surely "the simple machine" that runs the world as you know it. The fact that they are cogs should not be construed as an insult - the Machine abides. But the fact of the matter is that most folks have no interest in any of this, and so the elected leaders of today were chosen from the primordial ooze by just these sorts of folks, and the future leaders, and the judges, and corrupt disgraced candidates of tomorrow, because by the time a person gets to the general public's attention it's really too late to do much about it. Snooze or lose, as they say. Oh, and don't dare knock the Top Dogs. You'll never make it in this town as you so much as sneeze in the presence of the Clarence Norman, Jr.'s and Vito Lopez's and Frank Steddio's and Eric Adams and on and ons. Not that they differ much from you on the ISSUES per se. It's all in the family, right? Just a big table of Democrats eating turkey, some white meat, some dark, some fatty some lean.

Are these the best candidates to do our business? Who knows? There is virtually no real competition, and almost zero interest from the public.

And so to my friends in the 42nd Assembly district, whose state ass rep (sic) is Rodneyse Bichotte, be sure to consider this, and please note the fact that I don't know squat about him or his challenger. Josue Pierre (leave out the last "H" for Haitian) has been named a "rising star" in politics, a West Indian American to watch, and he is running for something known as the District Leader, an unpaid position that allows you to win an election, run a few things, then get it together to run for something bigger. Many of your electeds were originally District Leaders (Jesse Hamilton for instance, not too long ago).  The interesting thing is - that puff piece about Josua being a "rising star" that pops up in many a feed was written in a insanely butt-kissing rag called Kings County Politics that is known for accepting $$$ for good ink. Also, the former DL Ed Powell just so happened to step down at the right time, so that Pierre was "unanimously" named to replace him by a bunch of people you don't know including Powell himself, obviously to help catapult Pierre to the seat against a lovely seeming man by the name of Victor A. Jordan. Josue also likes to post things to the neighborhood Facebook page making him appear much more important than he currently is. But no matter. While none of us are looking he's like to actually beCOME someone quite important without anyone giving a shit.

Here's to Josue, to Victor to Babs and Carmen and all the true patriots who remind us that this is both the greatest, and the sorriest, democracy on the planet.

Outgoing District Leader Ed Powell Hands the Baton to Josue Pierre - So You Don't Have To!
And the guy running against Pierre, who clear as mud does NOT have the love of the machine needed to win in this town, Victor A. Jordan. (He's even also running against Bichotte herself for Assembly. The NERVE of that guy!)

Victor A. Jordan, running against in Pierre AND Bichotte, in the 42nd

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Discussions Circling Back On Discussions

J'Ouvert and the discussion about discussions about its safety continue to dominate our area. I urge you to check out your local politicians (conspicuously missing YOUR council person and Haitian J'Ouvert supporter Mathieu Eugene, go figure). I'm a fan of all four of these folks (Adams, Williams, Cumbo, Parker), and I think they speak to the crux of the matter, with the two most germane points:

1: You cannot stop the spontaneous celebrations of J'Ouvert
2: One cannot completely contain violence on Labor Day, or any other day, and therefore equating J'Ouvert and violence is not apt
3: The issue of gun violence is separate and way more crucial

Errol Louis, more combative even than usual, makes the sound argument that:

A: By sanctioning J'ouvert with a permit, encouraging people to congregate en masse along a parade route that is essentially a police zone, you give the false impression that this is a safe event.

Great to hear our representatives, albeit without Walter Mosley (who thinks J'Ouvert should be canceled) and Diana Richardson. But I gotta say...the "discussions" go in circles and no one is particularly adept at saying what needs to be said, in the Q's most humble opinion. Nothing. Step back from the police state. Don't sanction anything. Let it be what it is. Let people decide for themselves whether to go or not and where to celebrate. We tried the over-policing and surgical lighting. Go back to how it was, and have a nice day. J'ouvert. Here to stay.

NY1 Online: Emotional Debate About the Future of the J'ouvert Celebration

Shot on Woodruff

Feel like Caledonia's been pretty quiet lately. Bad news last night...

Police sources said the shooter ran up to the man and fired — hitting the victim in the head and neck — and ran.
“There was three shots. He was lying there bleeding from the head,” said one witness, who wouldn’t give his name. “His backpack and baseball cap were on the ground. Everybody was running and screaming.”
Police shut down Woodruff as they investigated the scene and searched for the shooter, who may have fled east on the street.
“He was laying there on his side. He was shot in the head and the throat. He looked pretty bad,” said a terrified woman who lives across the street.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

CaribBEING There

Quirky, smart, fun, stylish...l's and g's the Q gives you your neighbor, Shelley Worrell, and her ingenious container contraption on Caton:

Excerpted From Black Enterprise Magazine piece by Maryann Reid:

It’s not a store or shop; it is a “miniaturized mobile museum,” as Shelley puts it. Sitting inside the Tea Room at the Flatbush Caton Market, Worrell sits poised, with her hair perfectly coifed in a curly fro and crimson red lipstick. Her demeanor echoes her Google executive past with a laid back vibe that is influenced by her new surroundings.

It wasn’t too long ago that Worrell worked as a Strategic Partner Development Manager at Google, but decided that she needed to spend more time with family. Thus, she developed CaribBEING to what it is today.

Now, Worrell is in charge of making visitors feel like they are transported to the Caribbean. Every inch of the container, including the repurposed windows, mimics the feel of a breezy, beachside bar. The plywood and bespoke floors are made out of oak and were designed and installed by an interior architect. The custom designed tropical rainforest wallpaper was installed by an artist. To top it off, a falling door concept was conceived by the lead architect in Berlin, Germany.

Worrell adds, “By us even being in this courtyard with a vendor selling coconut and sugar canes, as well as another vendor who’s selling Caribbean flags, it really adds to the whole ambiance and experience.”

Monday, September 5, 2016

Lives Lost, Fingers Pointed

The Q had high hopes it would be fine, that the night and day would pass peaceably, and the comments on social media would be all festive and fond come Monday, Labor Day, 2016. But it wasn't to be.

My alarm went off at 4am as planned. What a feeling to be up at that hour knowing you're going to hear terrific music and witness one of the great American parades just blocks from home. The wife and kids, not this time, but I told them one day I'll take them too, wake 'em and take 'em. From the first time we saw a crowd of painted and powdered revelers walk by our window many years ago, I've been fascinated by the slave-days history and renegade spirit of the parade beFORE the parade. No permits! No amplifiers! Just drums, dancing and ritual. So free, so joyous, so unlike anything I ever expected to experience while growing up in hum-drum corn country.

By the time I reached Bedford Avenue I could see something was amiss. People headed the wrong direction. "Hey, the parade's up that way" I thought. Then I remember what happened last year, not much later in the morning actually. So I whipped out my phone and dialed up The Twitter. Two shootings, and it wasn't even official start time. I headed up Bedford and in EXACTLY THE SAME PLACE as last year was Vinnie Martinos of the 71st, next to the new C.O. They were in the middle of the road, and police cars and lights were everywhere. And still, people milling about, smoking the cheebah, dancing. The "sensible kids" as my neighbor calls them, many of them headed home, some after scattering wildly from not one but two crime scenes, then three.

In the leadup to the Parade there had been heated exchanges online between neighbors - some who I know and some I don't - trying to figure out whether the hysteria matched the threat. After last year's killing of an aide to the Governor, everyone knew security would be tight. But the floodlights on every block, the massive police presence, it was all a bit eerie in the days and hours leading up to the Big Event. A new resident posted his concern about getting home safely after a late night of working, and received a berating, then he lashed back, and from there the comments piled on. A woman posted a terrific piece on what J'Ouvert is all about and why it's wrong to draw conclusions about the parade based on fear and racism and media coverage, and the internet glowed with praise for the public takedown of "coded" language. I looked forward to "I told you so's" on Tuesday, but from the defenders of J'Ouvert not the feeders of fear. Turn a page, turn the corner, enlighten some minds. All good.

And yet now, all the yammering about blame and society's ills can't bring back two young people who didn't deserve to die in a morning of celebration.

Tiarah Poyau - 22 years old. Gone.

Tyreke Borel - 17 years old. Gone.
 Other shootings, thankfully, did not result in fatalities. But they were shootings nonetheless, one on Clarkson at Rogers. One a 72 year old woman sitting on a bench by the Wendy's. What links the shootings, what sense can be made?

Each shooting involved a gun. That's about as much reason as I can derive. And the blame must fall on the shoulders of the perpetrators, at least until we get to the bottom of why anyone would shoot anyone at a parade, or anywhere for that matter. And even if we get to the bottom, even if we fix the wrongs, fights will break out. That's human nature. Must they always be lethal? Of course not. This is America's enduring shame...guns. Guns tamed the land, killed the natives, kept humans in chains, and now needlessly kill and maim our own citizens in epic numbers. Irony and tragedy, hand in hand, gun in hand.

Essential Post from neighbor Onyi Shimmys Adaora (who granted permission to repost)

Recently a member of this group posted innocently enough, a question asking the safest route for him to take home on the day of J'ouvert. Clearly he is concerned something bad may happen to him during this celebration more than any other day of the year.
Unfortunately, that question with undertones of ignorance, self-imposed fear, and double standards isn't as innocent as it appears.
For those that do not know...J'ouvert is a cultural event celebrated by many West Indians/ Carribeans. Originating in 1783, slaves banned from the masquerade balls of the French, staged their own mini-carnivals in their backyards. The origins of street parties associated with J'ouvert coincide with the emancipation from slavery in 1838.
Emancipation provided Africans with the opportunity, to not only participate in Carnival, but to embrace it as an expression of their newfound freedom and tribute to their spirit of survival. The breakdown of "J'ouvert" in French is dawn and daybreak -- which is why the festival starts well before dawn and peaks a few hours after sunrise.
The NYPD and members of the community recently posted the flyers (you see on this post) around certain neighborhoods. The verbage expressed assumes members of this community are unaware of laws and basic ethics of this great city we live in, and suggests at some point in time they promoted and encouraged violence. It's condescending, it provokes isolated fear of a group of people, and is simply done in poor taste.
It would have been just as effective to have a flyer that read, "We look forward to serving and protecting our neighbors during J'ouvert and West Indian Day celebrations -- Please be safe and respectful. And remember, if you see something, say something." This rhetoric is in sync with NYPD and MTA's campaign of safety. Instead, the flyers they posted creates mass hysteria and a negative perception to what is supposed to be a joyous and peaceful occasion.
You don't hear this rhetoric during Halloween, 4th of July, Pride Week, Columbus Parade, St. Patrick Day Parade, and a slew of other NYC cultural events. So why now? Why this? The unfortunate shooting that took place last year resulting in the death of aide to Gov. Cuomo, Carey Gabay, was not a result of J'ouvert, but rather senseless gang related activity.
To group isolated violence and associate them with a people and a peaceful cultural celebration is absurd and asinine. It fosters this disconnect people unfamiliar to the culture of a neighborhood harbor, and creates unnecessary fear and leaves people on edge. From cops, to new neighbors, to people easily moved by sensationalism. And we all know that never leads to anything good.
I can't for the life of me imagine anyone living by Union Square or Times Square asking about the safest route home or complaining about noise levels during New Year's Eve. At some point you have to question your decision to move to an area not conducive to your liking and personal interests.
This is not a new occurrence here. In fact, it's been around long before most of us were ever here. To demand or desire everyone and everything else change for you is as ignorantly narcissistic and inconsiderate as it comes.
An influx of new residents have elected to move to these areas for various reasons. Reasons like affordability, a sense of culture, or promises of gentrification that may prove beneficial to their advancement and come up. To not take it upon themselves to better understand said culture is reckless and negligent. The blatant and indirect offense is getting tiring. It's unproductive and not healthy to the relations of a community.
So to my fellow neighbor who posed the question on the safest route home? Simply use good judgment like you would any other day in your life here in Brooklyn. You chose to move into a neighborhood that has had a long existent cultural backdrop unique to them and this community. I think it critical to make efforts to understand the dynamics of a culture instead of being fearful of it..or worse, its people.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Missing Person Alert

from the Facebook:
One of our residents of PLG has gone missing for 8 hours now. He's memory is not so great and more than likely is lost. If you see him please call 718.216.3064. His name is John Pratt.

Don't Drive on Monday. Just Don't. You'll Thank the Q

Some folks, it seems no matter how many times they've been burned just can't help but test the flame. Years and years of experience have led the Q to believe strongly - do not try to drive or ride above ground ANYwhere in Brooklyn on Monday. Not by cab. Not even by bus. Consider Labor Day in Brooklyn to be a day to rekindle your romance with NYC's subways! Just trust the staff at The Q at Parkside on this one. All of us wish you a happy and safe J'Ouvert and West Indian Day Parade. Maybe we'll see you out there in the wee hours of Monday morning?

Just check out the enormity of street closure on Monday, from the NYPD's website:

Monday, September 05, 2016
Brooklyn: 5am x 10am
Grand Army Plaza

Eastern Parkway between Washington Avenue and Plaza Street East
Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza/East Drive and Empire Boulevard
Empire Boulevard between Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Avenue
Nostrand Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Midwood Street
Nostrand Avenue between Midwood Street and Rutland Road
Reviewing Stand:
Empire Boulevard between Mckeever Place and Bedford Avenue
Empire Boulevard between Bedford Avenue and Rogers Avenue
Nostrand Avenue between Sterling Street and Lefferts Avenue
Closure: Same as location

Brooklyn: 11am x 6pm

Buffalo Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Rutland Road
Rochester Avenue between East New York and Sterling Place
Ralph Avenue between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
East New York Avenue between Howard Avenue and Utica Avenue
Eastern Parkway between Howard Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
Flatbush Avenue between Grand Army Plaza and Caton Avenue
Ocean Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Parkside Avenue
Butler Place between Grand Army Plaza and Sterling Place
St Johns Place between Underhill Avenue and Grand Army Plaza
Rockaway Parkway between East New York Avenue and Rutland Road
Parkside Avenue between Park Circle and Flatbush Avenue
Bedford Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Empire Boulevard
Empire Boulevard between Flatbush Avenue and Nostrand Avenue
Nostrand Avenue between Empire Boulevard and Linden Boulevard
Lincoln Place between Eastern Parkway and East New York Avenue
Closure: Same as location
Queens: 1000 x 1800
30th Avenue between 29th Street and 41st Street
Closure: Same as location

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What If They're Wrong About Zika?

Got bit by mosquitoes today in my yard in Lefferts. There. Connection to neighborhood made. I did not contract Zika,  I think, but if I had I would probably get sick, but not sick enough to die, and I would have even more time to marvel over the extraordinary hysteria that has grabbed the entire world, when in fact, the link between Zika and birth defects has not been proven. That's right. It's just a guess, an educated guess I suppose, and it could turn out to be a correct guess. But while Zika itself continues to spread, we have yet to see a serious rise in birth defects anywhere outside of Northeastern Brazil. You will read of "zika related" birth defects, but all that means is that Zika is present and birth defect present. That is not the same as causation, as any statistician will tell you. I had cataracts and I have bunions. The cataracts did not cause the bunions.

It would, of course, be a huge deal to have a mosquito-passed virus that causes irreparable harm to a fetus. So I think it's safe to say they're playing it safe, those people who decide such things, particularly after botching ebola. I'm not a doctor, but my scientist pal from NYU is pretty certain this is a case of pure hysteria. But few are willing to step forward and try to slow the juggernaut. So I share that intrigue, not to make you doubt the news from almost every single media outlet on the planet, but to note that almost every media outlet on the planet gets its news from the same sources - press releases. And if they don't read the press release (say the most cited ones from the CDC) then they merely echo the other news outlets, and so on. Many months after first confirming the link, even the first doctor to claim the link has doubts, but very little of that is reaching the thousands of women freaking out about their future babies.

In other words, were scientists to prove, as some in Brazil have suggested, that Zika is NOT the cause of birth defects, most notably microcephaly, wouldn't that be something? I'd call it unprecedented really. Or maybe we're just hard-wired to accept misinformation.

Zip the Pinhead a/k/a
William Henry Johnson
We used to be oh-so enlightened on the issue of microcephaly, calling those who had the disease "pinheads." As in the bizarre long-running comic strip Zippy the Pinhead, or the phenomenal film achievement "Freaks" from 1932, wherein the pinheads were known as Zip and Pip, and played frightened and diffident supporting roles in what will surely stand the test of time as one of the strangest Hollywood films ever made. And in fact, the most famous pinhead of all time was the original Zip, who died a wealthy man after having fooled folks over his lifetime that he was mentally retarded or, as his super-popular P.T. Barnum sideshow would suggest, deranged. No less than Charles Dickens was said to ask Barnum "what is it" when he first saw Zip's act. Barnum thought that was terrific, using the image of Zip and the phrase "what is it?"as part of his marketing campaign.

Ota Benga: Tragic figure of another era
This was late 19th early 20th Century, a time that also saw a Mbuti Pygmy from Congo named Ota Benga being displayed at the Bronx Zoo. That's right; a human being in the zoo, barely more than 100 years ago. He eventually killed himself. His story is absolutely horrifying, and the depiction, by otherwise intelligent folks, was of Benga as a savage and ape-like. I guess this stands to tell us exactly how far mainstream society has come, sadly with yet so far to go. Many Americans continue to engage in de-humanizing, not always out of spite, but certainly out of ignorance. The tribal nature of humans seems to lead us to gross stereotype of those outside the clan. I guess.

And yet somehow, with little prodding, we as a species continue to regurgitate whatever we read in the legitimate press as fact. Until of course some exposAY comes along to shock the system and change our beliefs, often to the tune of "I told you so" or "I suspected as much." We're only tricked until we're not, then we knew all along.

A few months ago I caught slack for suggesting that Zika might not in fact be the cause of the outbreak of microcephaly in Brazil, not because I know anything, but because a respected scientist pal was convinced it was highly unethical to unleash such unproven information on the world, potentially causing enormous resources to be redirected to the study of possible cures or containment, leaving other essential research behind. Not to mention making people bat-shit crazy with worry.

Just check out what a story on Public Radio International ran just a couple weeks back:

But as Zika has spread across the Americas, it has so far not been followed by a corresponding rise in microcephaly. In Colombia, for example, thousands of pregnant women are known to have contracted Zika. Colombian health officials have confirmed 22 cases of microcephaly this year that they said are linked to the Zika virus. Even in Brazil, in the populous state of Minas Gerais, which borders the most affected region, Nature reported there have only been three confirmed cases.
 So what's the truth of the matter? I have no clue. There have been plenty of "Zika related" cases of birth defects. But I would remind that that is way different than Zika-caused, even though some media use those terms interchangeably. Zika related means the two co-exist. But using the same logic, one could conclude that certain cases were flu-related, or acne-related. Worthy of study? Sure.

But not worthy of worldwide panic.

More Knee Jerk J'Ouvert Reactions

Lest You Forget - Stabbing and shooting people? Bad. pic Andre T.
More temporary insanity from various groups involved in the staging of J'Ouvert and West Indian Day Parade. The above poster has made lots of people insane, and not the good kind. The sentiment on the poster is so condescending and the potentially hopeful, upbeat message so garbled, that it makes you wonder...who is this poster for anyway? Clearly not the trees. Hundreds of these flyers have been stapled...yes, trees all over C-Heights and L-Gardens. Shaking my head so much these days my brains is scrambled eggy. This is a primed example of politicians needing to look like they've done something. An absurd number of cops will be present. Expensive overlighting will be everywhere.

(More on this story and the islands removed for the Islands celebration here.)

In the Q's last post he lamented the ridiculous ripping out of pedestrian islands on Eastern Parkway at Kingston and Brooklyn, supposedly because "elected officials" complained. Complained about what? I know those floats dang well, and they're not so big they can't fit on one side of the islands or the other. The intersection is too damn wide for some folks to cross, and the islands were a perfect solution. The number of pedestrian accidents is real. What's wrong with people?

Then a pal finds this, which must have caused the islands to lose fans in the Jewish Community as well. But these were safety measures decided by community groups already.

I'm telling you man, you can't get anything forward-thinking done around here without somebody bitching and moaning about how it "inconveniences" them. It's conservative bullshit and I hope there's a politician out there with the guts to buck the conventional voting bloc wisdom. Do the right thing for a change, huh? Just tell folks to calm down the sky ain't falling and it's not ALL ABOUT THEM. Sheesh.