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.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Parkside Plaza Needs You!

I know it seems the plaza in front of the Q at Parkside has always been a lively place to sit and drink a coffee or explore the CaribBEING container or protest a blogger or overhear a conversation not meant for your ears that nonetheless makes you smile. Well, the Q's here to tell you that many moons ago (not even 50 or so moons) this was the saddest, most barren cement wasteland in all of NYC. Given it was just outside an important train and across from the park it was, shall we say, noticeably unpleasant.

You may be tempted to ask - why do we need your donations if it's so obviously a City project? Well, the story there is too long to tell, I'll just offer this hyperlink. But the bottom line is, we (as a neighborhood) offered to cover the insurance on the plaza in exchange for many tens of thousands of dollars each year in maintenance, watering, setting up the chairs and tables and umbrellas...believe me, it's a terrific deal, and one we don't want to jeopardize. The Parkside Plaza volunteers bring you programming and provide the organizational backbone (reach them to volunteer through their Facebook page). But they need to raise just a couple thousand bucks in the next few days, and I implore you to give them some love.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Tonight: Opening at The Chameleon BK

Here's a tip. Great art. Great food and drink. Great company. That's pretty much the best life has to offer, right there. Save the s-e-x part, which is absolutely NOT part of the plan for this evening. But who knows, later on?

#546 on the Flabenue

Monday, December 3, 2018

We're Living In An Echo Chamber

Extra, Extra! Read All About It.

It being Lefferts Manor, the stately Hood in a Hood in a Hood. (LM, in Lefferts Gardens, in Flatbush)

As housing prices have finally stalled, at least temporarily, we can begin to assess a period of enormous capital gains in a neighborhood once known as a hidden gem. Hidden no more; affordable no more; splendid, still yes. (By my count, prices in the Manor and throughout the neighborhood have quadrupled since 9/11, in some cases quintupled. Remember, this is by no means normal, historically. We're due for a slowdown, or even correction. Rental prices? Tripled on my block. How bout yours?)

Through it all, the Lefferts Manor Association's "Echo" stays true to its folksy mission and visage. Here's to the Echo, its makers and the residents it's profiled through the years


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Jackie Robinson PS375 Deserves A Solid Look

If you're a parent of wee ones, perhaps fretting the jump from pampers to pre-school, do yourself a big favor. The Q's been through it all before, and he's got some knowledge to drop on you that might just make your life a lot less complicated, and soothe your soul in the process. Here's a tip.

Go check out Jackie Robinson, for any grade, but pre-k is for sure, as it's the soft-landing you might need in order to enroll within walking distanceuy. Yours truly met the new principal a couple years back when she was brand spanking new - Schwanna Ellman - and I was super impressed by her vision and goals. 375 wasn't always top of mind for local parents - and frankly, for good reason. I'm not going to dog the old principal and assistant, but having some insider info definitely steered me and Mrs. Q away. If you check out online resources, you'll often see outdated comments and reviews. And in the case of PS375, that's a real shame. No school should suffer a bad rep from old news.

A couple weeks back the Q put on his nursery school mittens and visited a good friend, a pre-K and special education teacher who's been at the school long enough to experience the change from one administration to the next. Marie and her co-teacher welcomed me into their warm and colorful classroom at recess. And all the good vibes that the FlatBeds have had with pre-K, at both PS705 and PS38, came flooding back. Pre-K in the NYC public schools is magic. That's no exaggeration. It's about fun and love and snacks. It's about letters and numbers and "stations" and songs on the rug. It's about first friends and playdates and learning how to be one among many, a peer, a team

In Pre-K, you get two teachers for just 18 kids. And if you're lucky enough to get an Integrated Co-Teaching class (ICT), you'll get up to 4 teachers. And PS375 excels at ICT. Perhaps you've heard of the Children's School down Gowanus Way? It's an excellent elementary, made up entirely of mixed special and general ed. And lest your vision of Special Ed be tainted by the short bus jokes of your childhood, it actually means learners who need some sort of support. And since that support comes free by law, you get extra specialized teachers in the classroom. In my second-graders class that means an extra loving and qualified professional all day every day. My daughter loves her so much and vice-versa. And the "special" kid is delightful too. Consider asking for such a class.

From the picture you can see that for recess the kids simply step out the door into their own playground, often with support from paraprofessionals and parent or grandparent volunteers. Each of the children I met on my visit was wide-eyed and adorable, checking out the big guy with a bit of trepidation but lots of curiosity. I instantly felt that burst of joy that only 4-year olds can tap. Once that age passes the innocence can remain, but at 4 it's the real McCoy.

And that's why I want to encourage you to go to the next Open House for Pre-K at Jackie Robinson. And it's happening December 12 at 9:30 AM. That's right, coming right up. Many of us are zoned for PS375. We all need to embrace our local schools, in whatever way we can. When David Eppley helped the Q make the Flatbush Trees project come alive, he brought in older kids from Jackie to create the flowers. This is a school that should feel every bit a part of the neighborhood as Peppa's or Prospect Park. Oh, and being so close to the Park, Zoo, Garden and Museum means so many options for walking field trips.

If you have questions about schools generally you know where to find me. I know I have like to have silly fun with blog posts and I like to take the hot air of people, places and things. But to me, there is no more serious business than making sure our schools reflect our neighborhoods. Like my good friends at Live Here Learn Here, whom you should feel free to contact, the time is now to make sure all kids in NYC learn together. There is no downside, and everything to gain.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Steak House on Jean-Jacques Dessalines?

Patrick Steak House. That's what it says on the Community Board Agenda for tonight - a new restaurant looking for a liquor license. 227 Rogers cum Jean-Jacques Dessalines Blvd. Ironies and Worcesteshires abound.

JJD, btw, is a fascinating historical character, the first Emperor of Haiti, and a figure who struck fear in the hearts of Confederate-Americans for his massacre of a few thousand whites after taking power in 1803. His exploits became the stuff of legend, often helping to swing potential swing-voters on abolition into the "hell no" column. Such is the power of well-timed propaganda, no?

The City Council co-named Rogers Ave Jean-Jacques Dessalines Blvd just last year. And while some articles mention controversy around the rebranding, the Q hasn't heard a whit of controversy beyond the occasional question about what and who gets a co-naming in the first place. Sure the guy slaughtered a bunch of people, but hey, who didn't? In fact, "greatness" was pretty much defined by slaughter back then. If anything, I'm not sure Dessalines slaughtered ENOUGH people to join the pantheon, but given his remarkable achievements pushing back the very French who'd enslaved him, it's worth giving it up for his Excellency. As an Emperor, maybe he should have gotten part of Empire Blvd too. Strange that Rogers AVENUE becomes Dessalines BOULEVARD. I guess Blvd is more impressive sounding.

There's more backstory too. This particularly Haitian rebranding was taking place simultaneous to efforts to rebrand our area Little Caribbean by some locals, in particular Shelley Worrell of CaribBEING. Shelley was making short work of the process, astounding all with her organizational savvy, bringing in Caribbean orgs and BP Eric Adams to support her effort, and all was looking like smooth sailing on the high Caribbean seas.

But fracas soon clogged the email lanes, as elected officials like Assemblyperson Rodneyse Bichotte said absolutement non to the Little Caribbean idea, because she and others had apparently been working for years on the distinction of Little Haiti under the umbrella Little Haiti BK,

So which is it? Little Haiti, or Little Caribbean?

The Q has no cheval in this race, but in looking at the maps of the two districts I noticed an oddness worth noting. Where Haiti would strike one as the smaller, less inclusive distinction, Haiti being but one island among many in the Caribbean, Little Haiti is actually a LARGER area than Little Caribbean, as far as these "official" maps are concerned. The only opinion I will share? Little Haiti is DAMN big. That is all. Maybe Big Haiti makes more sense.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Patio Gardens Was...A Movie Theater?

Ever wondered how the Patio Gardens apartments got their name? Was it the patio? The gardens? Or was it taken from the name of a movie palace that used to was on that very plot of land? As it turns out, Patio was the name of a popular theater that fell into ruin by the late '50s.  (For those of you Lefferts/Flatbush history buffs, I apologize for having missed the tidbit before. But dang this is a great picture below). And you do know that Fred Trump, the Donald's father, developed and owned the building, right? It even showed up in the recent NY Times expose about how Fred transferred tens of millions to the current president without incurring estate taxes.

Speaking of pictures, the picture showing at "The Patio" in the aforementioned picture, which you can see if you zoom in, was "Virginia City" starring Errol Flynn, Miriam Hopkins and an early career Humphrey Bogart. That would have put the year at 1940. The Q wonders if there was outcry when the Patio was torn down.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Predictably Predictable

46 Crown from the East. That's Tivoli Towers on the right.
Thx to Kadia Goba and BKLNER for attending the City Council meeting
You'd be forgiven for asking: If the government is the ultimate sovereign authority, why do developers do so well for themselves in this City of supposed progressives? Sure there are sweetheart deals, corruption, and the ever-present need for campaign donations, all of which give developers their access, swagger and sway. But the single biggest reason that Developers get to do almost anything they want? They own the land under most of their projects. Absent the use of Eminent Domain, one can do whatever the zoning will allow. That means that any parcel that is NOT landmarked or public property will generally be bought and put to use in the manner that creates the greatest return. Those are the sorry fact. I don't personally know any developers, but I do know the power of profits. Developers like profits.

(Actually, let's be honest now. YOU like profits too. And maybe, perhaps, at the same time, espouse socialist views on a range of topics, particularly those that don't negatively impact your property, prestige or quality of life. It's how American ideology's works, especially if you're lucky enough to have gone to a private liberal arts college, where the REAL major underlying every major is hypocrisy. That's where you learn how to be a faux revolutionary, all the way until the birth of your first child and/or home purchase.)

And so, despite all the sturm und drang the Q has witnessed and sometimes personally endured, the new owner of the plot at 40-46 Crown Street - Carmel Partners - used the power of its land rights to give Councilperson Laurie Cumbo an ultimatum. Either accept our request for taller rezoning, or we build only million-dollar plus condos as-of-right. The requested rezoning comes with a 140 below-market "affordable" rent stabilized units. In exchange, the City gives up some height. The building will be then be 16 stories with some setbacks bulkhead. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden says it won't impact the Garden's sun exposure. You can only imagine who called bullshit on them. I've promised myself not to utter her name. For awhile.

So, if you're Laurie Cumbo, the only real decider on the issue, what do you do? Yep, the Developer always has the upper hand.

And for perhaps the dozenth time the Q reminds you - despite the fact that activists thwarted a neighborhood-wide zoning study - one that would have allowed for downzoning in certain areas in exchange for just this sort of rezoning - we are being completely dismantled and remantled piece by piece. A la carte. And no, we are not in the driver's seat.

And perhaps now is the time to remind us all  This is but one of four huge projects, probably more, for the area north of Empire to Eastern Parkway. And eventually, the Empire itself will fall.

Empires always do.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Give Lease A Chance

More than 100 formerly homeless women and children, living for up to five years in apartments owned by notorious slumlord Barry Hers, have been told to vamoose by a Brooklyn judge who has sided with the rights of the landlord over the human rights of now rent-paying tenants. This just plays into Hers' hands, and signals landlords they can push people around without repercussion. It's really, really messed up, y'all, and deserves your attention. We can't even pretend to be liberals and let people be treated this way. Yes, horrible things are happening at the border, overseas, and even at our beloved Q/B at Church Ave. But this is something we can change laws about, if we demand them from our City Council.

When the Q first started writing about 60 Clarkson a few years back, it was clear that justice was not being served. A man who breaks the law as often and as callously as Hers ought to be in jail and the key tossed randomly into a dark corner at the post office on Empire Blvd. Used to be having tenancy meant something in this City. At the very least the families should be offered leases at the proper rent stabilized rate in the very places they call home, which according to folks I know in the building is still pretty reasonable legal rent in most apartments. Why throw them out and back into homelessness, where they must go through the whole process again?

At today's presser/rally at another Hers-owned building at 250 Clarkson, residents were joined by the tenant champions Crown Height Tenants Union and Flatbush Tenant Coalition - the people who are doing the tough work to organize and protect the rights of harassed and bullied neighbors.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Oh Deer

So I'm walking westerly on Clarkson the other day and what do my eyes spy but a new bus stop advert, truly an incredible piece of vertical real estate for the City to share issues of great concern to us all. And what social, health or civic issue is being shared but this:

The Q chortled and chuckled all the way home, only to find upon Googling that in fact, deer have become quite the frequent site in parts of the north Bronx and Staten Island. Now, the North Bronx is basically Westchester so that I get. But Staten Island? What, they came over on the ferry? Fearlessly dodged traffic on Goethals? No, neighbors, they swim there from Jersey. I shit you not. Look at this video, and apparently it's no fluke. Happens all the time:

But why place the deer posters here in Central Brooklyn? Seems like a waste of effort and money, right? Until just the other day, when I headed up to Parkside Plaza and caught these "faunas" eating our "floras." And no one on the Plaza even gave them a second glance...

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A City's Disgrace - Kicking Paying Tenants Out of Slumlord's Building

As in the Deep South last night, sometimes the Deplorables eek out victories. From Kathleen Culliton of Patch comes this video and story. about the Q's multi-year education in heartlessness:

The block is shocked that a dwindling number of homeless families have been given the boot after a number of years calling this dump home. Said neighbor Irene Dowdy

"I'm about to be homeless with my kids," said Irene Dowdy, a mother of five who has lived at 60 Clarkson Ave. for four years. "We're not going to have no place to stay."
Just two months ago the families of 60 Clarkson were playing in the streets at our block party. They were part of our absurdly diverse block in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood - they were geting by in a cruelly expensive city. The judge says - no more. And the truly evil landlord Barry Hers gets to continue shoddy renovations followed by short-term tenants moving in and quickly moving out, so he can put this once grand building out of rent-stabilization and into the open market.

Fixes to rent laws can't happen quick enough, Diana, Kevin, Zell and Walter and...let's get it done.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Fighting the Actual Enemies

Here's what events of the last couple years have taught me.

If you lie enough, use social media to turn up the volume on those lies, use race-baiting language, refuse to listen to dissent, decry mainstream media, let criticism throw you into a rage, and demand absolute loyalty and allegiance from your followers, your demagoguery might just win you enough converts to satisfy your enormous ego. Demagogues take advantage of times like these, and they thrive on fear, anger and prejudice. Any news that runs counter to the thesis becomes "fake" news. No compromises allowed, winning at all costs.

And no, I'm not just talking about #45. 😜 Let's just say I had a few friends over to the house today...

But enough unpleasantness. Today the Q chose to head to the Island of Staten, not exactly a hotbed of liberal activism, though it's truly beautiful this time of year, and right now it's home to an outpouring of enormous optimism and energy to turn the NY11th Congressional District from red to blue. There are many good people on Staten Island, and I've gotten to know some of them in the past two days of canvassing for a marvelous candidate who defies pigeonholing - Max Rose. He's a Purple Heart and Bronze Star decorated army Captain and universal health care proponent. He's had the good sense not to talk Trump to voters - people have already made up their minds about the Orange One, and to win a conservative-majority district you must focus on things that matter most to voters. On the Island that means transportation, the opioid epidemic, and meat-and-potatoes ma-and-pa issues like stagnant wages and tax-breaks for millionaires. He's a guy who feels he's been given a second chance, after an IED nearly killed him in Afghanistan, to practice some good old fashioned Tikun Olam (Hebrew for repair the world). He believes in true justice, and while he's not a fan of racist cops, he's not leading with the cop issue because - it's Staten friggin Island, know mean? That's called strategic. Because you don't win elections by leading with your chin.

So me and a pal humbled ourselves enough to get bossed around by kids less than half our age, some of whom did and some of whom didn't seem particularly experienced. Yesterday the field office on Forest Avenue was hopping with energy. But today?? Good lord the throngs were stopping traffic. People from all over Staten and NYC, eager to do their part to create an ACTUALLY powerful opposition to the hateful forces of ACTUAL white supremacists and racists who are dead set on thwarting progress and denying the vote to their enemies. And as we've seen, some are emboldened to take the rhetoric out of the political realm into far more ghastly shows expressions of ideology.

The Q was downright teary to see lines, yes, LINES of people ready to volunteer.

When the Q graduated college, he wanted to be a revolutionary. Today, he just wants the country to step back from the brink. Because he believes in white supremacy? No, because he's lived long enough to see what happens to countries that try to make radical change without majority consent. It's brutal. Truly, savagely brutal. We're not much more than beasts after all. And politics can be a beastly business.

We can wish for a better world, we can even fight for it. But somehow we also have to live with each other. The only other alternative? Die with each other. Yep. It's that stark. If you don't believe me, let me introduce you to a a bit of world history...

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Lefferts Pop-Up Art Show - WN7

The day after the biggest midterm elections of the...well, ever...come celebrate the Blue Wall with a Harvey Wallbanger, or Harry Wallhanger, or whatever it is people drink at Pop-Up Gallery Shows these days. All Flatbush/Crown Heights artists. Buy something for above the couch, or the foyer, or better yet, just cross-room from the bidet.

The artists:

-Alexandra Lake
-Amanda Isaac
-Bernadette Adrian
-Christian Hamrick
-Gabrielle Hilaire
-Goldie Gross
-Janos Cseh
-Kyle Shike -
-Laura Thorne
-Noel Hefele
-Tyler Holland
-Yoshiko Mori 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Vigilante Justice For the Q`

If you're just joining the show, you could do worse than to read this from BKLYNER about the Q and his sad travails.

It would seem someone appealed to Alicia Boyd and Imani Henry and got Proud Bastard Gavin McInnes removed from the list of Flatbush's Most Wanted. Now it's just down to the two major "White Supremacists," the guy who writes essays and news about the neighborhood without pay or patrons (yours truly) and a serial harasser who has repeatedly threatened to call cops on her building mates, then traumatized a 9-year old boy and whole family by wildly accusing the child of groping her when clearly (as body-shaming social media posters have noted) there wasn't much there to grope. She then pretended to call the cops, which elevated the video-taped situation to a whole new level of zeitgeist outrage. Despite the fact I've never met nor condoned "Cornerstore Caroline," she and I apparently now embody all that smells rotten in Denmark. I mean Flatbush. I always DID confuse the Danes and the Dutch...

(Let me reinforce the message if it wasn't clear - don't call 911 unless it's an actual emergency. And if that's the first you're hearing of that advice, you haven't been paying much attention to the last few years of news, both mainstream and non.)

Given the recent tragic national events that have arisen from frothy and nasty political rhetoric, I condemn the poster advertising an otherwise worthwhile protest from Imani-Alicia and hope that he and she can focus on the bigger prize - creating a firewall against the biggest threat to democracy, tolerance and decency the nation has seen in at least 100 years. And no, its not CC or the Q. The Q, for his part, plans to spend the day canvassing for Democrat Max Rose, who might just catch the multi-term incumbent who's biggest claim to fame is a bill to get Trump's picture hung in every post office across the land.

There it is. 2018. A year to remember none too fondly.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

PLGNA Rising

With all the hubbub on The Facebook and CB9 and the various and sundry smear campaigns from lovable local hate groups, its nice to see that the peoples can come out in peace and fellowship and get down to supporting one another. Had their been a fire, I suspect we'd have toasted smores and sung a rousing few verses of Froggy Went A'Courtin, my all-time fave being "without my Uncle Rat's consent, I wouldn't marry the Pres-I-Dent, mm-hmm." In fact, adding an mm-hmm to just about everything makes the day a shade brighter, mm-hmm.

It's hard to remember, but a just a few years back their wasn't so much attention being paid to the neighborhood, by forces inside AND outside. My first Community Board meetings were snores. It was hard to get a rise out of ANYone. You had to scream to wake people up. In a snap, we've gone from yawns to howls.

Many of the faces you see in the picture were there then and still there now. With some new energy, stronger organization and creativity, PLGNA will take its rightful place at the Round Table of Brooklyn under King Adams (soon to be term-limited out) so I'm thinking it'll be Queen Cumbo. No joking - seems to this armchair politician like the right move for her (you reading, Laurie?)

What we saw and heard the other night could was both inspiring and potentially voluminous, so I ask only that you consider hyper-jumping to the various links below to learn more from:
  • Shelley Worrell and her mobile offgrid caribBEING house on the Parkside Plaza
  • Carmen and the widly eclectic Kiddie Science center on Rogers Ave - doin' it all in our backyard!
  • Deborah Mutnick and the now published Voices of Lefferts available at Greenlight Bookstore
  • Nancy Hoch and great news about permanent park status for Maple Street Community Garden 
  • A gentleman with an incredible opportunity to support Jackie Robinson School from Greenlight Bookstore to easily purchase needed books (just do it here!)
  • PLG Arts' Hollis Headrick clued us in to the dulcet sounds of neighborhood tunage
  • If you want to support neighbors fighting greedy landlords you need to know all about Flatbush Tenant Coalition - FTC
  • Josue Pierre/NYC Comptroller's Office was there talking Scott Stringer, but let's be real, he'll be running for office real soon - Council in 2021? I'd bet on it
  • The newly renamed Pratt Area Community Council is now IMPACCT Brooklyn focused on helping people band together on all sorts of progressive issues - Dale was in the house.
  • Lindiwe and Pia came touting your lovely Nostrand Avenue Merchants Association which successfully lobbied the City for more parking after the swift and rugged SBS came to town
  • There was the ever-affable Dr. Cuts himself, Desmond Romeo, hailing the holiday lights that have become part of Flabenue tradition via the Parkside Empire - Flatbush Avenue Merchants Association
  • Local heroes from The Parkside Plaza reiterated how important it is for the community to give a bit of money each year to cover insurance so we can keep getting funding for the maintenance - fundraising campaign coming soon!
  • MINKA brooklyn came to share its secrets for holistic happiness and mindful meditation - visit them below the giant Apple billboard!
  • Janet showed up ON HER BIRTHDAY to tell us about Live Here, Learn Here: Friends of District 17 which asks with farily little judgment "So, why AREN'T YOU sending your kid to a walkable school, thereby helping integrate a horribly segregated district?" Though she's really nice about it, it's clear that it's way past time Lefferts parents started considering 241, 249, 376, 92, 6 and more and stop spending a couple hours a day just commuting
  • Lefferts Community Food Co-op is still in the game baby! And expanding! Get in while you can still claim to have been part of it when...
  • Colleen McNeil & Jawara Hudson/Flatbush Beacon Center - This one deserves its own post, because there is SO MUCH GOING ON over at MS2 just down Parkside way - for kids of all ages, and its all free, free, free.
  • Brooklyn Voters Alliance! #strongertogether is busy getting people to the polls in a non-partisan manner (straight face) because goddammit if we don't exercise this right it gets taken away, just as it is for millions of your fellow Americans AS WE WRITE/READ THIS!!!!!!
Watch this. It'll brighten your day, and remind you just how important this November 6 is for us and for future generations.

Cul de Sacked

Unless you pass by every day you're unlikely to see the drastic change that's taken place on St. Paul's dead-end half-block just south of Church. In just a few short months the sleepy block has given rise to dozens of new fancy-ish market rate apartments. Once open and filled, lively Church Avenue will likely see big changes. So while certain self-styled activists hold protests against yours truly and other civic-minded blokes, the pace of wholesale neighborhood change barrels forward, with only the promise of a total economic meltdown to slow or stop it. Number of rent-stabilized semi-affordable units added? 0. Zero, Nil. Nada. Nilch, Naught, None.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Q Forms New Trio Called R.O.N.

The Q is tired of this stuff too, but I must honor my commitment to publicly share my ongoing experience with the neighborhood I love. I've essentially been creating an archive of "what happened" and I can't leave out the most bizarre parts for fear of ending up carved into little pieces and stashed in a white-guilt-confused anti-gentrification gentrifier's icebox.
Gavin on Drums; Caroline on Guitar & Vocals, the Q on the Electric Lyre.
Pitchfork gave it 8.3!
Really now. After 2500 posts, hundreds either lamenting gentrification's worst excesses or promoting understanding on issues related to race, the Q has been lumped with the ACTUALLY insane Cornerstore Caroline (who cruelly targeted and terrorized a 9-year old black boy) and the ACTUALLY white supremacist Gavin McInnes of the Proud Boys. Not only do I find both humans offensive to humanity, I don't even have a beard, drink beer, or ascribe to any of their other, um, rules. (The Proud Boys, I shite you not, abstain from self-stimulation in a character-eroding program they call #nowanks. It's all true, and this is more evidence in my mind that Trump's election has left the country in a deep state of PTSD).

And that's why I know Boyd et al are deeply confused. The only reason to lump me into that crowd is sheer hatred and resentment at being criticized for their anti-democratic and anti-people behavior.

The band, however, kicks ass.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Don't Bank On It

Back at the dawn of the 21st century, twas a bank on the banks of the Caton. HSBC was its name-o, but it closed not long after the Q opened his account there (unrelated). Right now it's my favorite local 99 cent store, bright and full of all the knick-knacks you could possibly need and even more that you don't. My girls love it. And I'll be sad to see it go.

Because this is (was) a truly grand building. In its heyday I'm quite sure it was one of the lovelier banks about along the Middle Flabenue. Without question the rush to develop Flatbush Avenue is on. You've seen some of the mid-block buildings that have gone up, and there are tons of squat "taxpayer" buildings with retail that are easy pickings. Some of the Flatbush mixed-use buildings have had their apartments boarded up for years. It's safe to say that Flatbush will look very different in just a few years time. This new building is on the SE corner, but as you know a massive affordable housing complex will soon replace the now shuttered Caton Market. Talk about sea change. 

Read all about it here on Real Deal

Well past time to pull your money out of the HSBC that used to was
 And for more perspective, here's the Caton building that's going up kitty corner. I love that they left the world's nastiest Key Food in the rendering. Hard to imagine it will survive the upsell.

Are You a Brooklyn Bloke?

Wayne Fortune, Brooklyn Bloke
If you're strolling the Flabenue and happen to see a sleek little pop-up shoppe next to Awesome gifts at numero 617, you'll likely see one Wayne Fortune, a/k/a Brooklyn Bloke, a London-born designer/musician peddling his lifestyle brand.

For those of you too old or old-skool to think you care, a brush-up might be in order. "Lifestyle" is a bit of an all encompassing marketing concept, wherein the wearer/user/listener/viewer identifies strongly with the brand and its aspirational message, spiritual identification or world-view. Think you're above such silliness? If you ever considered yourself grunge, did you wear flannel and listen to Pearl Jam? Ever listen to a musical artist and think they perfectly embodied your outlook and sense of who you are? Ever wanted to look like someone whose style you dug? Ever worn a brand of shoes because you wouldn't be caught dead in another brand? And here's one for the liberal college educated parents out there - ever purchased or considered purchasing a Subaru Outback? Then you know what we're talking 'bout. Hell even political causes and candidates can be associated with your sense of identity. Bumper stickers, baby.

The Q loves the 'Blokes gear, though I'm more of Burlington Coat Factory man myself (we go by BCFM's so don't mess with us). Back at the shoppe, the pinball machines are a nice touch, and while BB is only here for a month, his brand will likely live on. Pick up a hoody or two for that special hard-to-please bloke on your list. And tell Wayne the Q sent you. I'm sure he'll offer you, I dunno, a shilling off or something.

Cheers mate.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

You Love the Neighborhood - Please Come Monday Eve

The Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA, pronounced PLeGNA) is nearly 50 years old. The time for a serious renaissance is overdue. The leadership is strong, but they need bodies. People who love and live or work in the community, who feel understandably overwhelmed by local politics. The boundaries of PLGNA will be more porous than you've heard. Woodruff, Lenox, Parkside west of Ocean, Caton, Martense, whatevs - you're the one who decides you belong, and you're a member when you say you're a member.

Please come out on Monday night to find out more and get your name "on the list." And if you can't make it just email me and we'll hook you up on the listserv. We need Board members and we need point people for projects big and small. If you need a fiscal sponsor for your local plan, let 'em know. PLGNA can become a recognized leader again on issues from housing to advocacy to business improvement and sanitation, arts and open spaces and celebrations and organizing. Brenda Edwards is currently president, and I can think of no other longtime resident to usher in a new era. You'll meet the other board members Monday night, but one of those board members could and probably SHOULD be you. This is not the quasi-governmental CB9 or 71st precinct council. It's an independent 501c3 ready to be what we want it to be.

See you there.

Friday, October 19, 2018

From Formerly Homeless To Probably Homeless

The long agonizing saga of 60 Clarkson and slumlord Barry Hers just keeps getting agonizinger and agonizinger. The many once-homeless families who decided to fight eviction have been dealt a blow to their hope to stay and get a rent-stabilized lease. After years of thumbing his nose at housing law, the guy who runs a bogus non-profit called "We Always Care," jerks like Hers are one step closer to exiting rent-stabilization for good. Because a judge in his infinite wisdom and mercy has determined that homeless people don't really live in the apartments they've lived in for years.

Read the decision that effectively says homeless folks housed in cluster-site housing have no rights to stay in their apartment some after nearly a decade of residency.

Read about the legal issues from Gothamist

Read the Q's original blog post and start of his obsession with the obscene saga.

Read an ad from Nooklyn trying to get young professionals to rent here, find out its a dump, then move out allowing Hers to take advantage of the vacancy increase

Read about what Roger Hodgson, former lead singer of the classic-era Supertramp, has been up to lately, via his tremendously stylish website that places those social media icons front and center and uses wonderfully outdated fonts and design. Then listen to "The Logical Song" again and marvel at the days when LPs were actually made out of pure cocaine.

 Then listen to "Take the Long Way Home," which is a bit of a metaphor for the plight of tens of thousands of New Yorkers struggling to get by.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Garden Living

Twas inevitable. The jewel of the neighborhood - The Brooklyn Botanic Garden - has inspired a steady stream of speculators, and many of the massive buildings in the pipeline will rise in the next couple years. The Q thinks it's worth noting what 12 stories actually looks like. The streetscape and skyline won't radically change, but it's safe to say that the shops, culture and density will feel very, very different. Wondering too what this means for the nearby schools...

111 Montgomery is but one of four big projects in this relatively quiet zone around the garden that are happening either as-of-right or with spot rezoning. Conclusion? Hemming and hawing have done little if nothing to slow or stop new building or gentrification. The only way to get the City's attention? Duh. Planning study. But it's probably too late to have much leverage, and there's almost zero political will. Meanwhile, these units will probably go like hot cakes. Garden, views, park, bars, transportation, Da Hot Pot - what more does a young professional need?

New Rendering of 111 Montgomery

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Best Trick-er-Treating in NYC

That's right parents. You don't have to leave the neighborhood for a pleasant, safe and spooky candy grab. Just head up (or down or sideways) to the Manor. It works like a de facto tax on parts of the Historic District - at least those Brownstones that choose to participate. Some of your neighbors hand out more than 1000 pieces of candy in a couple hours. (This trickster prefers Kit Kats and $100,000 bars - in case you want to get on the Q's good side.) If you do the whole route you go from Flatbush at Rutland zig-zagging all the way to the 71st Precinct on Empire. But you can just join anywhere, and there's a good chance you'll run into neighbors and your kids' friends.

Bar none, this is my favorite night in the neighborhood. All my Sesame Street fantasies come alive, and my werewolf mask really IS terrifying.

There is something deeply reassuring about the annually re-purposed flyer from Vinnie Martinos (below). Yes, despite all the nasty rhetoric, the Cop the Cat and the Pirate really can all get along, living side by side in peace and harmony and cavities. See you on the route.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

That Was One Weird Week

Ever wanted to be a fly on the wall at your own funeral? This week, the Q had a miniature version of the experience, when he shut down the blog as a result of having a metaphorical gun placed to his temple. It's been quite a whirl, whiplash and wrecking ball. But then something was said that was so untrue, so offensive, and so hurtful that I simply couldn't let it stand. So here I am to tell you all, once and for all:

I GREW UP IN IOWA, DAMMIT. NOT IDAHO. NOT OHIO. IOWA. As in The Music Man and corn and shit. I've lived in Brooklyn since 1988, but good golly Miss Molly get my damn homestate right.

The whole point of this blog is to tell y'all what happened, so here's what happened, and at the bottom of this post you'll find the emails sent by Ms. Alicia Boyd, MTOPP founder and the sole board member of her non-profit New Directions In Healing that accepts tax deductible donations that help fund MTOPP's activities including intense and deceitful electioneering. That's the truth, I'm sticking by it, plenty of evidence. I don't mean to say she should be dragged off in handcuffs; it's not really that serious an offense for a small operation anyway. Don't believe me? This is on her website, I don't need a Deep Throat thanks:

**Please note that New Directions In Healing, a non-profit organization, is accepting donations on our behalf and we thank them for their contribution to our cause.

Listen, I know I've said plenty of negative things about MTOPP over the years. Why? Because I've watched her destroy people and somehow get away with it. Ask yourself - why on earth does the community put up with it? She basically runs CB9 meetings by push, heckle and shove. Has any of it benefited the community? Have landlords dropped to their knees and begged for forgiveness for their greedy ways? Has the City rushed to aid in the form of much-needed public housing? Have developers been thwarted from building thousands of units of market rate housing? Has Empire Blvd stopped being shitty? Have houses stopped being torn down, or have ugly skinny apartment buildings stopped appearing mid-block? Have people stopped being pestered to sell their homes at below-market prices in cash? Have developers given in, given up and moved along? Hell no. It's only accelerated. I've taken to calling those mid-block eyesores Boyd Buildings.

In this blogger's opinion (and they're ALL just opinions) MTOPP has inhibited dialogue and created a level of fear and distrust that is completely destructive. People I care for have been hurt. And that is something up with which I cannot put. I've posted more than 2,400 times to this silly site, and I'll admit in my haste for a punchline I've stuck my keyboard in my mouth a time or ten. But I'll be damned if I'm gonna shut down now that I have my legal strategy in place, and since dozens of you have sent kind words of encouragement, and even Steve Witt at Kings County Politics gave me a moving eulogy. Quite honestly I was eating a momo in Jackson Heights when I read it, and I shed a tear right into my white sauce. Thx Steve. The white sauce actually wasn't salty enough.

It's humbling to think that when I started this blog Obama was in the White House and #BLM was but a simmering glimmer. Most of my writing is silly, but sometimes I kvetch about corruption and racism, and I always try to be honest with where I'm at, learning, making mistakes, making jokes in poor taste, and in fairness, apologizing when I get it wrong.

But I have never, ever made statements attacking the black community, or against women, or pro-developers or pro-gentrification or any of the other garbage Boyd is attempting to "destroy me" (her words) with. I have criticized SPECIFIC people for SPECIFIC actions, and those people come in every hue and flavor. Look, we here in Central Brooklyn are blessed with tons of black civic leaders. But guess what - they're not all good leaders, the right leaders, or even particularly honorable. Most are, sure. And I've never, ever once suggested that they be replaced with whites. I consider that the worst assumption of the gentrifier - the colonial notion that what the natives need is outside governance. That somehow there wasn't ALREADY A GENTRY HERE. The white savior notion is repellent and odious and all sorts of good SAT words meaning awful. And hell there's a whole new generation of Caribbean and African American leaders ready to take the helm. They need our support and respect. But folks, not MTOPP and frankly a couple of their sister orgs, who've decided terrorism against their own neighbors is a legitimate way to win an argument.

I love people. And I've tried very hard, sometimes successfully and other times less so, to let that show. It would appear that I was woefully naive, thinking that holding black and white public figures to the same standard was somehow progressive, even needed. And so I wrote headlines that I thought were hilarious and that got to the crux of the matter - ones that I have since apologized for and removed. I've been harsh about community leaders who talk out of both sides of their mouths. But I've also taken "white assumptions" to task when they don't pass the smell test. In other words, I'm trying to figure shit out, and do so with transparency and integrity.

So buy me some time I apologized to get her to call off a potentially career-damaging protest. She didn't like the first one, and called with more threats, and I know that no matter what I do the blackmailer will always ratchet up the terms. And so I was literally forced to post that I would never again comment in any way shape or form about the neighborhoods of Flatbush, Crown Heights or Lefferts Gardens. But this ain't Frontline, baby. I also once posted that the Park Slope eatery al di la was opening its newest outpost where the McDonalds currently resides across from my beloved Q at Parkside. I've signed nothing, and wouldn't. I support Ms. Boyd's first amendment rights more than she will ever know. But I fully expect mine to be respected as well.

There is something so Trumpian about her behavior, that I fear the President has rubbed off on our society to such a degree we may never recover. Imagine - tens of millions of kids are growing up thinking that bullying, demagoguery and tribalism are effective means of getting precisely what you want. And in Boyd's case, she's managed to smear and/or sue Pearl Miles, Jacob Goldstein, Carmen Martinez, Dwayne Nicholson, Demetrius Lawrence, Eric Adams, Laurie Cumbo, Ben Edwards, Michael Liburd, Warren Berke, Winston von Engle, Laura Imperiale, Musa Moore, Zellnor Myrie, PLGNAP and anyone who's dared to speak to an opposing viewpoint. To all of you, even though I've disagreed with some of you from time to time, I thought of you a lot this past week. You might have said to yourself "man, I really don't need this shit" and I hear you. Because man, I really don't need this shit.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Terrorist's Demands

Alicia Boyd via 

Oct 5 (4 days ago)
to Tim
Dear Tim Thomas
To ensure that the terms of our agreement are adhered to I’m writing this letter.

Here are the terms

You will apologize to the Black Community, its residents, leaders and especially Alicia Boyd for the comments and behavior you have exhibited via your Blog.  You will not explain why you making these apologies but will simply state them.  You will not tell the Black community that you love them or any other sentiments.  This is an apology not an opportunity to save face for yourself.

You will recant your statements about NDIH and MTOPP regarding the electioneering, stating clearly that you had no evidence to make the statements.  You will also state that you have no evidence that Alicia Boyd no longer has a mortgage on her home.

You will put it in writing that you will not be moving forward writing about Flatbush, Crown Heights, Ditmis Park and Prospect Lefferts Garden, either in your own name or any other alias.
This includes making comments via other online platforms, social media etc.. either in your name or an alias.

You will shut down the Q at Parkside permanently.

You will not allow any comments to be added to your blog post when your apology is placed on your Blog.

You will not during your apology describe in any negative terms the Black community, its residents, leaders or Alicia Boyd.

These conditions must be stated in your apology and must be posted for two days on your Blog, with no ability for our readership to make comments etc…

You will remove your blog post that you are now making the claim is an apology.  We still find it offensive by 7:30 am.

You will not share this email thread, with anyone and you will not post my comments to you regarding this agreement.

These conditions must be met by 12 noon on October 5, 2018

In Return to your compliance, the demonstration that has been planned at the Bang On a Can event happening on October 7, 2018, will be called off.

This Was the Apology That Alicia Rejected

The Q would like to formally apologize to Alicia Boyd and MTOPP and any black leaders who have taken offense for any of my gadfly ramblings. I have a big mouth. I like wordplay. And despite fighting with Ms. Boyd in public, I've continued to remark both on the blog and privately that she is an extraordinarily ambitious and effective activist. I thought we were engaged in political debate, but she believes I have attacked the black community as a whole, which she says she represents. She made it clear that by attacking her I'm attacking African-Americans generally. And so...

This will be my last post.

I'm very sorry to have offended. Truly. I enjoy a vigorous back-and-forth; I guess I went too far and for that I apologize.

I also made statements that Ms. Boyd is using her non-profit for electioneering. In fact, I have no inside knowledge about how she uses her money. Though I am a trained professional in the realm of non-profits (my day job), I could be mistaken. It's not up to me to decide who has broken the law - that's for law enforcement and the judicial system. 

And while out of context some phrases in my more than 2,000 posts could seem to suggest that I want anyone to come to harm, I really don't harbor any violent or malevolent feelings for Ms. Boyd or anyone else in this community for that matter. I love my black, brown, pink and tinted brothers and sisters. I really do. There are particular politicians and public figures who I strongly disagree with, or find to be corrupt or ineffective. But I have never advocated for a white politician in Central Brooklyn, nor do I intend to. All of my heroes in this neighborhood are black or brown, and I've tried to call attention to their exploits when I can. When I wrote "Bye Bye Black Brooklyn" it was a lament, since Bed-Stuy will be mostly white by the next census, and that just seems crazy to me. I love black Brooklyn, and if that post title hurt feelings then it wasn't worth the wordplay. Not everyone shares my dark humor, and anyway, if you don't find it funny I can respect that. These are stressful times.

The Q came to this neighborhood 15 years ago. I've now been in Brooklyn for 31 years. I love Brooklyn. I felt like I came home when I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge after college. I've watched it change tremendously, and on this blog and elsewhere, I've sought solutions for the very real problems of shitty landlords, displacement, affordable housing, racism in the schools, electoral apathy, and most of all white hypocrisy. Man do I hate hypocrisy! Especially among liberals. Which means, I guess, that I hate me when I'm hypocritical. That's been part of my process - understanding how my life went from college radical to middle-age bore.

I moved onto a block of nearly 2,000 people when just 3 were white, besides me and my wife. Now the street is lousy with whitey. The subways, the 8 coffee shops (can you believe there were basically none for my first half dozen years?), the restaurants and upscale businesses, thankfully many of which are black-owned. So guess what, I'm part of the "problem." I could be counted among the very first gentrifiers of (yuck I hate the name) PLG, outside the coveted Lefferts Manor, where the single-family covenant and house tours have attracted some whites to stay or buy even after red-lining and block-busting.

What brought me to my knees was that MTOPP and BAN planned to protest and call me a racist in front of my job, my colleagues, bosses, and very critical donors to my workplace that I love dearly. I simply can't let my reputation and job be destroyed for...for what, a blog? I've only ever written opinions and profiles and snapped a few pictures. It's basically a glorified scrapbook. And MTOPP and BAN and any other acronym - I firmly believe in their right to organize, protest, mobilize and even rough things up a bit. But my family is more important than calling bullshit on people or ideas. And I don't want to have to defend what's in my heart, even when I lash out at things I find distasteful. 

Mostly I've wanted to understand. I'm curious. And when I write I tend to think about stuff clearer, and then the commenters get to argue and I have to defend my positions. And then sometimes I change my mind, or get it changed for me.

And as I've been reminded a lot recently - nobody wants to hear what a paunchy middle aged white guy has to say about race anyway. Or anything, really. It's time for us to shut up and listen. Obama had just been elected when I started this thing, and I felt optimistic, that it was time to talk turkey, get real, lip up a bit, get smacked down, the whole nine. Times have changed. The country has become a hell-hole of hate, resentment and out-liberal or out-conservative each other. It's gross. I don't need to add to the putrid olio.

Today I'm apologizing and shutting down the Q on Sunday, per my arrangement with Alicia. It's been a fun ride. But there are more important things than rides, and I wish Alicia success in stopping gentrification and displacement. At least she doesn't give up.

The Q, over and out.
tim thomas