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, January 30, 2018

Thoughts After the PLGNA Schools Forum

This is about half the crowd at Greenlight last night
The Q split early with the kids so he relied on Mrs. FlatBed's retelling for much of the gist. Last night twas another well-planned, well-attended and well-executed meeting by your friends from PLGNA - Brenda Edwards and Cheryl Sealey, who deserve kudos, as well as the moderator Janet Paskin of the newly formed and frisky Live Here Learn Here and of course the excellent panel. If you're interested in issues around local schools, school choice, charters and particularly segregation in the public schools, I highly encourage you to join that LHLH Facebook group and get involved. There's a ton to learn, and lots to do, so dig in.

And now here's where I digress into a mash of thoughts that have fried crisply after many years of fits and starts on the meat of the matter - race. We all want what's best for our kids of course, and the dizzying choice of schools presents philosophical, geographic, financial and moral dilemmas for many parents, particular those who benefited from excellent educations themselves. I've visited many schools, had daughters attend a couple, had conversations up the ying yang on the playground and schoolyard, talked to parents and administrators, sat in a zillion PTA meetings and worked on a School Leadership Team, spoke out and been shut down, written a few thousand words and been surprised at every turn by my lack of knowledge and my unwarranted oversized expectations of my own efficacy. In other words, I'm like a lot of other white gentrifier parents. I mean well, but I don't know shit. And it's a humbling experience, but worthwhile, and I highly recommend getting your own ass served to you on a platter a time or two. As was said about Colonel Carter by Old Sneep in the delightfully outdated kid's book Lentil by Robert McCloskey - I needed taking down a peg or two.

That doesn't mean I'm done opining. The Q wouldn't be the Q if he kept his thoughts to himself, now would he? Should I just shrivel away like some Victorian Era Blogger whose time has passed him by, squawking about how in the Great Queen's day things "may have been more top-down and button-down but at least there was respect for crown, class and proper diction?" Hell no. Let the reader beware. Blogging may be out, but old bloggers never die. They just start podcasts.

So here's the takeaway, if you hadn't gleaned it already. You may THINK you're the first generation of parents confronting these issues, that your step into neighborhood dynamics of race and class is cutting-edge and that you have resources and insights the envy of any principal or PTA. But those thoughts need to be tied up in a bag and tossed in the Gowanus like so many feral cats. (Okay that was a gratuitous grab for controversy - I don't advocate drowning feral cats. Just feeding them to dogs.)

This is my wizened advice to you, dearest friend and lovely Gentrifier Parent (GP):

You're not the first anything, you're not the brightest or most knowledgable, your skills are only as useful as they're brought to bear in a community of equals. Schools have been segregated by race AND class for a hell of a long time, and people have tried to solve that for decades. And when wading in you happen to lead with your Mother Jones rhetoric, you risk alienating the very people you hope to "help" with your well-meaning advice and advocacy. My suggestion - choose a school. Go to it. Make friends, particularly those whose background differs from yours. Let your kids choose their friends and encourage those friendships, regardless of who their parents are. Let them lead the way, and show and tell you what they're good at, what they enjoy, whether homework is helpful, whether "progressive" education has any real meaning and whether or not you should be all up in arms that someone brought Happy Meals for the whole class on their kids' birthday (true story that, stop me some time I'll give you the deets).

If you listened closely to the painfully-carefully-chosen words last night, you heard the story of separation. Certainly since the early '70s thru today, lefty NYC parents of every hue have sought to extract their children from the banal, rudimentary and often backward education of the day. From Waldorf to Montessori to "holistic," "gifted and talented," Charter, Open Classroom, "Free School," Quaker, International Baccalaureate, "inquiry based," Round Square (how's that?), Dual Language and every manner of Homeschooling and so on - you can draw a direct line back to the parent and his/her relation to the dominant culture, i.e. it ain't good enough, radical enough or engaging enough for precious offspring Johnny, Atticus or Zephyr.

And herein lies the birth of the problem as I see it - from the git-go we parents who are seeking outsider education are poised to separate our children to some degree from their peers. We self-styled free-spirits, rebels and renegades think of ourselves as somehow different, deserving of special treatment. We might send our kids to a prep school or "alternative" private school and pay up the wazoo for the privilege of separating our kids that way. Or we spend thousands of our own precious hours teaching at home. Or we scour the literature and landscape for any scrap of "alternativeness" in the public school system, gravitating in flocks towards schools that attain the mythical status of "new," alternative or progressive. When we could, ostensibly, just go to our local school and work with others. But we don't. We...don't.

In parenting and education, as in most aspects of human behavior, people seem intent on defining themselves by what they are not. It's the whole purpose of gossip after all! So hard not to partake. But that's how we decide who we are, and what tribe to belong too. By snarking about others, in the company of compatriots, we can chart our course. So now let me partake of the snarkage. Such phrases I've heard over and over and over...

"I want a progressive school for my child"
"I don't believe in testing"
"I don't believe in homework"
"That school is too strict"
"Dual language is such a great model"
"Too much emphasis on test scores"
"That school is just not diverse"
"I want to go to my local school, but I don't want my kid to be the guinea pig for desgregation"
"The Principle is unwelcoming"
"The diversity at PSXXX is just right"
"I'm not comfortable with the level of poverty at that school - it's almost all free-lunch"

If you don't recognize those as racial, if not fully racist, albeit clascist, statements, you may soon. Liberal white parents will jump through hoops not to say the phrase "that school is too black," but the meaning becomes clear after you follow the behavior, not just the rhetoric. Most white parents just aren't comfortable going to predominantly black schools. And I say black because I mean black! Hispanics and Asians and even Muslims and light skinned bi-racial families don't figure as much when white people see color these days. When a white person sees that demographics are, say, 90% or more black, their first impulse (even if they KNOW it's wrong) is to say to themselves "what's wrong with that school? If it's a good school, why don't more white-hispanic-asian-other kids go?" This is not always because they're blatantly racist. Actually, it's because they're smart enough to know the America that raised them! In a country they know to be hopelessly racist, they assume (and who could blame them?) that an all-black school must be inferior. The smart students and dedicated parents must have opted out, else why would they stay in an all-poor all-black school with miserable test scores? (Another irony! Remember, you told us you don't believe in testing!)

Okay so I'm going for low-lying snark-fruit. It wouldn't be racism if it didn't come drizzled in irony and hypocrisy. But there's a truth here that I certainly didn't see til I started getting to know the ropes and tie some knots. Here goes. God help me.

Black folks of means and/or education do the same damn thing. And they've been doing it a lot longer than YOU have, right here in Flatbush and Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy and Harlem and any place where working and middle class black Americans have built community for more than 50, sometime 100 years or more. They didn't want a part of any half-assed segregated racist curriculum bullshit anymore than you do. And so, many of them (again, right here in your very neighborhood) started their own schools, historically black you could say, but sometimes wholly outside the educational system entirely. Woke by the brilliant rhetoric of the great African-American thinkers and writers of the 20th Century, they rolled up their sleeves and educated their children to know their history, to respect their heritage, to question authority and much like their white-hippy peers, to look askance at the local public schools that drew most of the attention.

Others (actually MANY others in Lefferts and Crown Heights and Brownsville and East NY and Bed-Stuy) sent their kids WEST when they could, to neighborhoods with "better" and somehow "whiter" schools. The trickle of influx was good for liberal angst at those schools, providing just enough diversity to assuage the feelings of guilt that permeate white liberal society that by using their entitlement they might be exacerbating the problem. Charter schools helped fuel the Exodus too, giving choosy parents a chance to flee their zoned schools for either rigor (Success Academies) or progressive politics (Community Roots, Compass) or schools that have become integrated (i.e. more whites) of late (PS 11, PS 9) or even, if you've got the address to prove it, the vaunted Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens and Park Slope zoned schools.

That's right Iowa boy and Wisconsin girl. We're finally getting clued in to the fact that black people are a hell of a lot more diverse within the "black community" than your MLK and Malcolm X and Black Panther primers taught you. Meaning we might just have to assess each person, each family, each school, each business, each economic and philosophical construct as its own entity with her own destiny, foibles and charms. Just like #45, a lot of us fall for the trap of lumping black people together. How you can hear America bristle when the Trumper talks of how he's been "good for the blacks." Which ones, your majesty? He doesn't know the difference. The self-styled least-racist person on the planet is in many ways the Lead Segregator. But in all honesty, our behavior does little to break the cycle. I mean, have you been to a white party in a black neighborhood lately? The only people of color you're likely to see come in the mixed-marriage variety. We still don't play together much, black and white. And we certainly don't mix classes much at all.

And now you're right back where you started. Sorry. I didn't say there was an easy answer. Just tougher questions.

Another Four Years Of Mediocrity

Retch-worthy quotes from this KCP article, which just goes to show how low folks will go to curry favor with various parts of the electorate. From some Sheepshead Douche named Deutsch comes this:

Fellow City Council Member Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach) lauded Eugene for his work with young people in the city, and said that he was “proud to spend each and every day in City Hall with people like Dr. Eugene.”
“When you look around at the things that happen in the city, when you look at the issues, the things that matter to us most, it’s our young adults. And I could not stress more that in the last four years, our young adults had more services and more jobs than ever before,” said Deutsch. “Anywhere you look, anywhere you turn, any community you fight for, Dr. Mathieu Eugene is there on the forefront.”
Oy. And then this disappointing line from the soon-running-for-mayor Tish James, which seems to suggest that the mere fact of Eugene's Haitian background is cause for celebration, rather than any real achievements as legislator and leader. I mean, the first time he was elected in a special election to replace Yvette Clarke, sure, there was reason to celebrate the rise of a Haitian leader. But after a decade and change of nothing, it's a reason for disgrace.
“This is a testament to the strength and tenacity of the Haitian people, who have been through a lot worse. And so we come here to celebrate this “Haitian sensation” Mathieu Eugene, but more importantly to celebrate the diversity of the 40th Council District,” said Public Advocate Leticia James. “Where Council Member Mathieu Eugene not only serves the Haitian community, but he serves the Jewish community Muslim community, the white community, the African-American community, he celebrates all of us, because this is the strength of America: diversity.”
If you're new to the neighborhood, a piece of advice: despite what it may say on his council nameplate, you have no elected representative at the City level. You're going it alone. Make allies elsewhere. This guy is a fraud, a buffoon, a charlatan and a joke. Yet the joke's on us - we voted him in a FOURTH and final time. Sigh.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Tonight: If You're Interested In Race and Schools...

Tonight. Reminder. Don't miss. At Greenlight Bookstore. Right On.

Prospect Lefferts Gardens store:

Monday, January 29, 7:30 PM

Civic Engagement Series: PLGNA on Urban Education Issues

Panel discussion featuring Anna Allanbrook, Natasha Capers, Myrah Brown Green, Richard Green, Monique Nieves

Moderated by Janet Paskin

Greenlight’s Civic Engagement Series hosts nonprofit groups working in social justice, community organizing, and the arts, with the goal of providing tools for community involvement and support to those doing necessary work in our culture. 20% of all book sales on the entire day of the event will be donated to the featured organization, and an option for direct donation will be available at the event. For January, Greenlight hosts a panel discussion and community forum hosted by the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association on advocacy for education. The panel will explore tools to advocate for our schools and students, and how to support our communities through our schools.

Panelists include Monique Nieves, PTA President at PS 316; Natasha Capers of the Coalition for Educational Justice; Anna Allanbrook, Principal of Brooklyn New School; Dr. Myrah Brown Green, co-founder of the Crown Heights Youth Collective and principal of the Collective Fellowship & Peace Academy; and Richard Green, CEO and co-founder of the Crown Heights Youth Collective and professor at Medgar Evers College. The panel is moderated by Janet Paskin of Live Here, Learn Here, an organization that supports public schools in Central Brooklyn.

New Supermarket On Its Way

 Fresh, Organic, Pricey and Delicious Dry Wall 'n' Flourescents
New apartment complex 33 Lincoln Road and its soon-to-be grocery is finally taking shape and renters after years and years and...really, it's been quite the slog from the day Tom Anderson & folks started digging til now. As a matter of fact, the Q has become his own best memory recollecter, as I can quickly find the day Tom first told us about the big picture plans more than five years ago., and that a couple years after the old building came down. That's right. Five years and change. And in between we saw 626 Flatbush rise and fill. Shows how different projects can go.

All around the neighborhood new buildings have finished or are coming on line. Time for another bike and shoot around the neighborhood (with photos! bike and shoot with PHOTOS, folks!!)

showing its best face, not as bad as some would claim

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Is It Racism To Blast Jesse Hamilton For Joining the IDC?

The Renegade Democrats: IDC
At first blush, of course not. Unless you hate the Independent Democratic Caucus for its blackness. Which, you really can't. Most of the members are white. And lo and behold one of them is being accused of sexual harassment (leader Jeffrey Klein).  That's not going to sit well either, and my crystal ball says the IDC has outlived its usefulness, and the NY State Senate will swing to Dems.

The Q has watched with some detachment as the whole thing unfolds, mostly because I know that Jesse wants what's best for his district, and in particular the folks in his district who have been held back and demonized for too long. And generally I support that - it's why I voted for him and why I can honestly say that some of his IDC tactics have paid off, particularly with Raise the Age and specific funding for locally important issues. But 2018 is a different time, and the pitchforks are out, as they are for almost anyone tainted by association with (gasp!) Republicans. EVEN if they vote like a Democrat.

No Jesse is not a Republican. And in fact, if the IDC explodes, one would hope that he would come back to the fold during a Democratic majority to pass all the legislation that Dems have struggled with for, like, decades. The question is...can he? Or has he burned so many bridges it's time for his constituents to consider new blood? Not a white guy or gal. Not a gentrifier or a developer. Just someone new. And that person (of color) has already raised a ton of money and raised his profile considerably.

A full-throated articulation of anti-IDC racism appeared in Kings County Politics yesterday by Mike Tucker (def click the link to read more - I'm selectively quoting below). If you've seen "Get Out," you'll get the clever reference. I'd ask that if you're white or anti-IDC you read the whole thing, then reflect, before responding. My own reaction twisted and turned a bit overnight.

Get Out was a film that dared to reveal the horror of liberal racism in America.
The villains here aren’t neo-Nazi skinheads, or southerners from red states. They’re middle-class white liberals. The kind of people who read this newspaper. The kind of people who shop at Whole Foods, donate to the NAACP and would have voted for Obama a third time if they could. The kind of people who protest black elected officials who are not aligned with their ideologies.
This same liberal anti Independent Democrat Conference (IDC) crowd created a fake website using Black Lives Matter in a derogatory manner. There are many white liberals who are promoting positive community dialogue, but there is a new crop of loud activists who are completely tone deaf.
The three black and brown IDC members are attacked constantly by white liberal groups online and offline with some groups even sending hate mail to their home addresses. I will call out racism as I see, hear and breathe it. We cannot be shielded from the reality that — beyond white racism — is white privilege and obliviousness that cannot be excused. We laugh off the less overt racism. Chris repeatedly does this in Get Out. We’ve gotten to a place in society where people of color don’t react because we’d be reacting all day. We’re trained, subconsciously or not, to protect white fragility.
I attempted to talk to one of the anti-IDC protesters about Senator [Jesse] Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn) to no avail. He called Senator Hamilton names as if he were a dog. I told him he had a problem of white privilege. The harsh reality is that people in a position of privilege benefit more from ignoring marginalized perspectives than listening to them.
They don’t really understand as people of color we face racism daily. First, we become angry about the racism. Then we get angrier with ourselves, because we don’t know how to make you stop, or how to make you care enough to stop those who pull the triggers. Senator Hamilton was stopped by the police this summer, he was only giving a warning after the cop noticed a white senator in the passenger seat.
I attended an anti-IDC town hall last summer and the first thing I realized was that room was over 95% white liberals. The optics were bad, African-American and Latino supporters defending elected officials against white liberals. They vehemently attacked Senator Hamilton for being a member of the IDC. They did not notice his stellar record of service and initiatives, which I found mind boggling. We’ve been at war with Republicans for years. So when a group of liberals tell Senator Hamilton to get in line with establishment Democrats in Albany, you can imagine how I disapproved of the blatant racism.
This past year I have seen some of the worst forms of liberal racism directed at elected officials. City Councilmember Brad Lander (D-Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington) never attacked Senator Jeff Klein, the chair of the IDC directly, but he had no problem being aggressive with Senator Hamilton on Twitter. A member of Lander’s Facebook group #GetOrganizedBK publicly posted the senator’s home address with complete disregard for the safety of his family. The Senator has a 90-year-old mother-in-law, a wife, and two kids. You would think Lander’s group would have a little tact, not so much. Lander’s group even had a debate about keeping Senator Hamilton in their group, similar to the auction scene in Get Out.
I suffered the death of my son to a police officer. The Senator and I grew close because of his passion to end Broken Windows Policing. In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio, our first Democratic mayor since David Dinkins, brought back Commissioner Bratton and re-embraced Broken Windows. Eric Garner and my own son, Stephonne Crawford, and numerous others have died because of Broken Windows policing. How can NYC call itself a liberal city if over 85% of misdemeanor arrests are people of color?
He is the same mayor who viciously attacked Senator Hamilton at a townhall for being a member of the IDC. Again, he never attacked Senator Klein even though Senator Klein has been a member of the IDC since 2012. These same white liberals gave the mayor a pass for his horrific criminal justice record and named him the most liberal mayor in America. What is more important, defending mainline Democrats or defending children who get killed, like my son?
I never saw a black elected official attack a white IDC member, but I always see white elected officials attack black and brown IDC members. The dirty secret of New York City politics is the impact of racial politics, the one thing no one wants to talk about.
Local Democrats are using the IDC drama to deflect from the fact that they have no answers for ending Broken Windows or that the lead paint issue has become an epidemic; in one Census tract in East New York, 25% of children tested positive for lead. I have not read a press release from the Working Families Party condemning the mayor for lead poisoning. What is more important, the health of our children or party politics?
If well-meaning white people want to help us, start by holding all elected officials accountable and not spreading hate towards black and brown elected officials because they are easier targets. If you want productive political change, then you must start with yourself and your own tone. It’s not fair that we have to police our own emotions and privileged people don’t. It’s not fair that you have to keep the conversation open but they can disregard you. It’s not fair that they have privilege and everything is stacked in their favor so that they don’t have to care but you must.
People in positions of privilege bear an even greater responsibility. A responsibility that the writer of Get Out takes seriously.
Mike Tucker is the Founder of the Lay the Guns Down Foundation.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What the Zell! Is Hamilton Giving Away His Shot?

This is a longer story, and I'm on a deadline, so I'll cut to the gist. State Senator Jesse Hamilton has his hands full. Had Trump not won the presidency, he may have been able to continue in his Independent Democratic coalition (IDC) and kept his seat without incident. But folks are pissed at Republicans in a way they haven't been for years (well, at least 9). And the fact that Hamilton caucuses with the Repubs to gain more money for the district (and not coincidentally for himself - a chairmanship and all) has not won him many NEW fans. Hamilton was Eric Adams' chosen successor, and Adams himself took a bit of a victory lap when Hamilton won the 20th district, calling himself a Kingmaker. The truth has been a bit more nuanced.

And so this year a challenger is already making noise and raising cash, a young fellow with a terrific name - Zellnor Myrie. I mean, does this guy look like he means business or what? Smart choice posing before the subway station. Who can't relate to that??

Check out his story: Zellnor
I'm gonna be straight with you. I like Jesse. I really do. And I think he's right that when the state's as divided as the country, you need to get creative. And the IDC has done just that. But it's all out war, man. You can't run as a Dem and switch parties just before the election. That was weak. Then trying to claim that only gentrifiers are pissed about it? Fighting words. Not for nothing, Jesse, there's a shit-ton of "gentrifiers" in your district, and more every day. But it's nice to see that his chief opponent is anything but.

This is gonna be interesting y'all.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Then There's This White Guy

The male Homo Sapiens is an odd bird (or, mammal). Over the millenia he has developed many useful traits that have made him the Lord of his destiny. Among them, his fierce tribalism and loyalty (to tribe, not women mind you - his seed must be sown! Or at least shown, right Mr. C.K.?) have allowed him to go into battle for the dumbest of reasons. But each war, however small, has heightened his ability to conquer. In the 20th Century alone he went from single shooting shotguns to nuclear bombs. His intelligence (in certain situations) is clearly superb, though common sense is not his forte.

This fierce tribalism has led him down many ugly paths. Slavery, through the millennia, seems to have been his preferred choice of labor. Female domination and sexual predation has been a near-constant. Subjugation of peoples and whole nations has led him on an inexorable path to destruction, fueled by an insatiable appetite for more, bigger and better. Love continues to hold a premium to this beast, and yet even love takes a back seat to power, greed and good old fashioned fun. And beer.

There are few better examples of this creature's true genetic tendencies than his love of American football. All of the above qualities seem to mingle in the mind of this adult adolescent. And sometimes, as in mob mentality and state brutality, this rushing of hormones mixed with his dominant status provokes outlandish displays of...of...well, we'll let this Minnesota Viking fan tell the story in his own voice. And the fact that the team is called "the Vikings" is an irony not lost on the Q, a longtime fan of the team himself, why, he'll never fully understand. Note: this video is not for the faint of heart, or a New Orleans Saints fan:

For more terrific analysis, here's reader Josh's suggestion (great stuff):

Friday, January 12, 2018

Alicia's Frivolous Lawsuits Keep Losing - Will She Ever Give Up?

At this point, if you haven't been sued by Alicia Boyd you can't rightly call yourself of member of the community. The latest CB9 Chairperson to be targeted by her wrath is Musa Moore - the 4th chair since she started her crusade - and he's shown more patience than most. Having lost nearly every conflict, you'd think she'd sulk away. But like a certain character in the oval office, facing reality is not her strong-suit. Even after being scolded by a judge as she lost her case against ULURP chair Michael Liburd and Moore, she's been telling everyone that Moore is not just in Eric Adams' pocket, he's on his payroll, and that should disqualify him from his chairmanship. Not so, says MM: From CB9:

Below the Headlines the Resistance Is Real

Have you noticed that pretty much every news source covers the same 5-10 stories every single day? Sure they each have their own click-bait headlines and opinions to hawk, but the Trump-centric news cycle is tiresome. He said "what" now? Forget about it. He's a racist, windbag, ass-slapping snake oil salesman. Expect racist, windbag, ass-slapping snake oil salesman nonsense to come out of his mouth. Put a pin in it, and take it out the next time you're considering voting for him or not-voting for his opponent because "they're all the same." And let's vote every last one of the Trumpies out of office.

In the meantime, you have true heroes fighting in the trenches every day to try to get the meat-and-potatoes policy realities out into the public sphere. Like immigration, and the fact that I.C.E. waltzes into town yesterday and grabs a well-respected immigrant activist named Ravi Ragbir in downtown Manhattan and arrests him for apparently no new reason. No 40th district councilperson and supposed immigration champion Mathieu Eugene to be seen. But councilman Jumaane Williams practices some non-violent protest and tries to block the ambulance (why ambulance? to be sneaky Petes?) from taking Ragbir into custody.

If you want some inspiration to start gearing up to take back both houses of congress come hell or high water, just watch and listen to Jumaane as he speaks to Buzzfeed's reporters. Folks, this is a NYC Councilperson. An elected official. And one truly patriotic American.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Sometimes the Numbers Just Don't Add Up

The Q is sad to bid farewell to Video Revival, the non-profit screening room on Rogers just atop Empire Blvd that had a wildly eclectic curatorial flare. Most recently I'd been there for a kids birthday party - talk about perfect! A little movie, a little cake, seats for 30 rowdy 8 year olds. On that model alone you'd think you could make the numbers work. Alas, it was not to be. From the website:
*** We are on a temporary hiatus, though our location at 346 Rogers is now permenatly closed, sign up for the mailing list for more details on upcoming programming and relocation ***
And the Q was preparing to bid adieu to a longtime blogging institution most recently known as BKLNER. (don't forget that period at the end!) Publisher Liena Zagare has been a leader in the local neighborhood news scene since launching Ditmas Park Corner, nee the Ditmas Park Blog, but then Liena went to AOL for a hot minute after selling the blog to AOL's "Patch" and then came back to launch "Corner" which then became an amalgam of blogs covering Kengington to Park Slope and even "Cheaps Head Bay" and calling it Corner Media and (take a breath Tim) and then THAT became BKLNER. - and all was good in the world. Terrific writers and hyper-local news. I know people who are absolutely ADDICTED to the stuff. And why not? If all politics is local, then all news is politics. Or some suchamuch.

Simply put. It takes. Money. To run. A company. And the advertising dollars for local media don't add up much better than for, say, the aforementioned local art movie house. After DNA Info and Gothamist disappeared a couple months ago after workers threatened to unionize, BKLNER. seemed all the more crucial.

So when Liena announced that she'd need to close up shop by end of this year if she didn't reach a threshold of subscribers (or in the parlance of non-profits "donors"). But like some Christmas miracle out of "It's a Wonderful Life" nearly 2000 hearty souls whipped out their plastic to sign up to make payments as low as $2 a month to keep the enterprise going - for now.

And to roll with this theme the Q just noticed that relatively longtime falafel stop NY Halal & Co just became Atomic Wings, probably to boost numbers. Shrewd move methinks. Folks love wings, even when they look like warmed over schmegg. Think on it. Someone had to actually stage and take this picture, and conclude it was a winner:

And tonight, the joint was still serving curries and lamb over rice. So maybe they're going to cash in on the Atomic chain name while still serving their Halal standbys. Apparently Atomic Wings is one of those joints that co-exists anyway. Like, you can be both an Atomic Wings and the Local Bar, or Atomic Wings and Le Haberdashery.

The Q's a big boy and he loves crappy food. But quite honestly, that picture is giving me a hankering for a fast at least til the break of said fast. As in, nighty night.

. ?

Friday, January 5, 2018

Bob Thomason - Ninety Is the New Eighty In Twenty Eighteen

If you've used the term PLG to describe your neighborhood, there's one man you can thank (or curse) for the name more than any other. He's longtime resident Bob Thomason, who helped start the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association darn near 50 years ago (hold crap). And while not everyone latched onto the neighborhood name, Bob latched onto the neighborhood and stayed involved through good times and bad, often invoking the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. at functions big and small. He's delightful. And this post is most definitely NOT in memory. Dude still has a lot of kick lift.

You can call him Mr. PLG

Long-time PLG resident and community activist Bob Thomason turned 90 on December 29. Bob and his wife Jane moved to PLG in the mid 60s with a dream of helping create a community where people of all races and backgrounds could live side by side. To that end, Bob helped found the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA). In 1973, PLGNA became involved in a landmark legal battle to combat redlining. Over the years, it has helped tenants to organize unions and blocks to form associations; supported safety programs; transported seniors; developed youth programs; and served as an umbrella organization for other neighborhood groups. Bob has been there every step of the way, putting into practice his deep faith and belief that all our lives are richer when lived together.

Besides creating community, Bob's other great love is cycling. He pedaled across America, from New York to San Diego, at age 61 and he's never stopped. He's seen the world on his two-wheeler, taking solo trips of three months or more to China, Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands, among other places. Although he's slowed down a bit in recent years, you can still find Bob circling Prospect Park and taking overnight trips out of town.

And if you run into Bob on the street, don't be surprised if he offers to sing you a song, usually a selection from the American Songbook. If you are that lucky, please take him up on it. Nothing makes Bob happier, and it's guaranteed to brighten your day as well. He's quite the crooner!

So, Happy Birthday to our friend and neighbor. Bob often says he's aiming for 100. We wish him that and more. And we wish for him, and for all of us, the world that he's envisioned and worked toward for so many years.