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.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The Parksidian Year In Review

The Q is quite certain the world's political realignment will continue to dwarf local issues in the public's mind as we head into the strangest and most volatile period of national politics since Nixon's 2nd term. Think global, act local, shop local, eat global. Sound like a plan?

Some highlights from the year that did NOT involve Donald Trump:

  • Loogey Hawkers have long plagued civilized society, but the mucous came to roost right here in Lefferts City when the Sinister Serial Spitter ramped up his assault on unsuspecting upstanding citizens. This also wins the coveted "Oddest Oral Incident Award" for 2016.
  • House of Juice opened on Rogers and quickly became a mainstay of the community with clever marketing and fresh, healthy food and events.
  • Local artist Luna Soul burst onto the scene with a serious of happenings and shows dedicated to documenting the fabric of Leffertsonian life.
  • Lifestyle and Community Actionators BlackMarketWares brought resources and attention to the needs of local kids of color looking to navigate and change an often daunting world. Look for their Youth Summit at headquarters at Compound Cowork on February 11, 2017. 
  • A group of A-list longtime residents opened a terrific pop-up shop in the mysterious Tafari Cafe space next to Tafari Tribe. Last I noticed, they were still going at it in December for the Holiday Shopping Season (HSS).
  • A local powerhouse plopped a shipping container on the plaza at the Caton Market and called it CaribBEING house. It's been dropping sweet programming ever since.
  • Alicia Boyd's MTOPP Empire Study Group presented a lame-ass proposal for Empire Blvd that pretty much entirely left out the need for new affordable (and regular ol') housing, while borrowing all the best ideas for the improvements to traffic and bicycle lanes already suggested by others. Non-Macarthur-Fellowship-Winning Urban Planning Professor (NMFWUPP) Tom Angotti helped draft it.  A backgrounder thru February here.
  • As a result of the Q's continued resistance to "doing nada" and race-baiting as the neighborhood gets remade brick by brick in real time, an activist named Imani Henry anonymously and fiendishly built a "movement" against yours truly with a campaign to oust me from CB9. An email from Henry showed how he used social media to create the impression that dozens of people who've never even met me or read this blog are united in their belief that I'm the white devil out to remake the nabe in my image (and what a handsome neighborhood it would be!) Disappointing is a term that hardly does the effort justice, since Justice is precisely what Imani claims he's after. This is the sort of in-fighting and name-calling that keeps Central Brooklyn locked in an endless cycle of hand-wringing over gentrification, rather than accepting the new realities and recognizing that we have much to offer each another and the City generally. Sadly, it's when economic times are good that we find more ways than ever to cut each others' throats. White and Black and Brown, we have way more in common than divides us. But you wouldn't believe it, to hear the rhetoric.
  • Okay, this isn't really a bullet point item, but I'm within the formatting so forgive me. Let me just say, without reservation, that achieving near universal employment, even when it's stacked towards whites, is a tremendous step forward for our fair City. Yes, rents rise. Yes housing prices go through the clouds. But people have hope and opportunities - this is a "problem" we begged for just a decade ago. So what should you do? You build more housing, you build BELOW MARKET housing, and you don't turn inward and selfish. Ah hell, that would be too simple, common sensical, and practical and economical and just plain smart.
  • It really was (and is) big, big news, though most recent movers to Central Brooklyn won't have any idea just HOW big. Clarence Norman, Jr., the disgraced former Big Macher of the neighborhood as head of Kings County's Democratic Political Machine, has made a roaring comeback, mostly from behind the scenes. If such things interest you, read on.
  • It seemed innocent enough to be one of the first to note that celebrated author Ta-Nehesi Coates bought a house in the nabe. Would that it had been so simple. My humble post from March here
  • Silver Rice opened, bringing idiosyncratic and delicious sushi cups to the Flabenue, and the Q's tuna intake jumped six-fold.
  • Erv's, the little bar with big fans, decided to expand into the former laundry next door, ensuring that ever more Leffertsians can get their buzz on, soon with elbow room to spare.
  • Yet another new 71st Precinct Commander with a rockin' name - Norman Grandstaff.
  • With the help of a brilliant neighbor, the Q confronts the double standard of young men being young men, black and white.
  • Bagels came to Lincoln Road, and you'd have thought they were gold nuggets the way Sunday noshers flocked to Nagle's to pan for lox. The Q still hasn't been, and doesn't feel obliged to visit. I've had more good bagels in this town than Carter had liver pills.
  • Mediocre photographer Clarkson FlatBed Jr. produced a remarkable essay in pixels to the Great Boulevard of Empire
  • Once bereft of decent wine stores, Lefferts City is now lousy with them, with a classy joint on every avenue. Drink and Little Mo and Vyne Yard jumped in on what was once only 65 Fen turf. And remember, 65 Fen ain't that old either. Oh, and a hip new Record Store right next to 65, which, I believe, is no longer at 65, because that's where the used vinyl shop is.
  • Great new place opened up that offers therapy for young folks, particularly of the sensory and occupational variety - Sensory Street. Run by Bea, the place is alive with fun and learning.
  • The Q got whiff of tenant agitation up at the Ebbets Apartments via the Crown Heights Tenants Union and took his lunch hour joining the crowd. You wouldn't believe what the management is asking now for a two-bedroom, and you can guess the longtime lower paying tenants are no longer favored by the owner. Thus...
  • Brand new Assemblywoman Diana Richardson hit the tarmac screeching with her Q-translated five point program H.E.A.V.Y., an acronym for Health, Empowerment, Activism, Violence and Youth. She never used my suggested acronym, perhaps because the V for violence should really be anti-violence? Dunno. I thought it was pretty clever.
  • The new look for non-landmark-designated Lefferts could best be encapsulated with this new building on Winthrop, across from the Parkside Playground. It's actually one of the nicer ones, though I already miss the Victorians.
  • Brooklyn Commons is remaking the image of the old Bond Bread building that became known as the Phat Alberts building, thx to the vision of the son of owner Al Srour, known as Jack, or to his friends, "Whiskey" Srour. (okay that's not true, but were I his friend I would DEF call him that.
  • Local ex-big cum new-big Clarence Norman, Jr. finally settled his score against some in the neighborhood by getting his longtime "friend" Carmen Martinez named as replacement for ousted CB9 District Manager Pearl Miles. For the benefit of the neighborhood or for personal vendetta? Put your money on the latter, but we could do far worse than to have Carmen at the helm. Much, much, much worse, believe you me.
  • Born and raised a cat's throw from the Q, Brian Cunningham quietly entered the race for Councilman from the 40th and the Q caught up with him in May, more than a year out from the primary of 2017.
  • In yet another plea for truly liberal urban planning, the kind where considerations are made for the most good for the most people, the Q looks for sympathy from his neighbors to can the bald-faced NIMBYism and start embracing smart growth because, let's face it, only homeowners win when you limit the production of housing across the board, affordable or otherwise. The Q doesn't mind that some favor landmarking and downzoning, as long as they recognize the trade-off is higher rents and fewer working people of all income levels finding a place to live. I'm not giving up, and neither should you.
  • Blue Sky Bakery opens on rip roaring Rogers
  • The Q confesses the REAL reason that Garrison Keilor makes him want to wretch. Later for you, Prairie Home Companion.
  • Lefferts City gets its own cops
  • A small French bistro is coming to Flatbush near JJ's and Parkside Pizza. Yes, you read correctement.
  • In which the Q helps readers remember not to carry their marijuana on their person in giant jars especially onto the MTA
  • A photo essay that makes the case you won't recognize this neighborhood in two years. 
  • A fab new Cafe Ix takes the place of Tip of the Tongue on Lincoln Road
  • More proof of a wildly changing 'hood
  • The south side of Fenimore is gunning for a Downzone
  • He's calling his new bistro Risbo. Hope the food is better than the name
  • There is perhaps no more welcome newcomer to the Flabenue than Greenlight Bookstore. It's socially conscious, uber smart, full of life and readings. Go go go.
  • The only TRUE affordable housing is the kind everyone likes to knock - public housing. Take another look folks; it ain't perfect, and it could be vastly improved, but it's still among NYC's greatest achievements
There's a lot more of course. But the single biggest story of the year came at the very end, when yours truly finally saw what's coming down the pike just north of Empire Blvd. A whole slew of new housing, plus more to come if the Spice Factory is upzoned. This will be the battle of the year, along with more from the Bedford/Union Armory. And lest you think that isn't YOUR neighborhood, I predict that once the new housing and commercial development fully takes shape on and around Empire Blvd, you'll begin to think of Southern Crown Heights and Lefferts as part of a piece. How and when it happens, that's what's in store for 2017. Oh, and the most unpredictable presidency in our lifetimes.

Happy New Year everyone.


Alex said...

Perhaps someone(s) - Laurie Cumbo, Diana Richardson - should consider making a trade for what the community seems to want for the armory... put some of the housing that the area needs on Empire between Flatbush and Rogers instead of cramming it all into the armory site.

Alex said...

And btw, I still find it sickening that people are fighting against the rec center.