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.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Come See How the Other 6% Live! Next Weekend.

dear LMA, you know the Q joshes. You've got the most beautiful blocks in the neighborhood. Your Historic District can't be sullied by rampant development. Sure you have to replace your windows in a period-appropriate style and not paint your brownstone pink. But we love you. Many of my good friends are Manor-dwellers and I would ne'er display jealousy when I myself am lucky enough to own an abode. And yet...tis fun to poke ye now and again.

Each year for decades you've invited rich and middle-class alike to stroll into your homes to gawk or snicker. It's called the PLG House Tour, and since it's been around about as long as the PLG (-Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens-) moniker, the two are somewhat intertwined in the public imagination. And so here we are, another first weekend in June, another chance to envy, mock and share war stories of wrought iron, original crown molding and FIOS.

And in all seriousness, it's a lot of fun so come on out. The game is afoot!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Expand Your World View: Tomorrow!

Maybe you're the sort of person (the Q relates) to wonder what one can do to step out of the bubble and into the real world with purpose and curiosity and a desire to do something truly beneficial for your fellow humans?

I've got just the ticket. And the opening is tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The NYC Housing Crisis Articles You MUST Read

Folks ask me all the time to explain why it's so hard to retain affordable housing in a City full of regulations. I've read literally dozens of articles on the topic over the years. But I've never seen a better explanation of the perplexing complexities of the problem that this one from the NY Times a couple days ago.

PART II: Eviction Machine
PART III: 69,000 Crises

(Tip: If you don't have a Times subscription, just clear your browser of cookies in settings. That resets the number of articles you can read for free)

Everything that you'll read in that article is happening or has happened on my street. I'm pretty certain fate is telling me to write a book on my block alone. There's the townhouses w/legal and illegal apartments, approaching $2 million. There's the half-stabilized half-coop buildings. There's the old mostly Section 8 building that went condo. There's the Victorian teardowns. There's the two new big apartments buildings being built. There's new ownership of old mostly stabilized buildings, and the "churnover" that typically accompanies the rush to profits.

And then, of course, there's 60 Clarkson. Not three years ago it was mostly homeless families, with a slumlord making bank off the backs of miserable homeless and stabilized tenants. Now, he's charging $2500 for two-bedrooms, only to gleefully watch those tenants quickly move out because they can't handle the neighbors and the squalor all around their overpriced cheaply renovated apartments. It's heartbreaking to see the stream of in and out at that building. No one's happy. Not the new tenants paying top dollar, not the old tenants getting squeezed, not the precious few homeless families hanging on for dear life. And the landlord gets to add 20% to the rent on each turnover, taking his apartments out of the life-saving rent stabilization program altogether.

If the plight of NYC renters could be expressed in one sentence?

No one's happy.

Please, read the article. It'll make such a difference to your experience of the suffering all around us.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Things That Make You Go Hmmm...

Well now. Participatory Budgeting at the State Level. A million Samolians.  Nothing to sneeze at.

Think for a moment about what a million bucks could do, or some portion thereof, to build or buy something that costs more than $35K to qualify. Many Councilpeople have been doing this at the City level, but this is a new kettle of clams.

And of course it's also, cynically speaking, an good way to keep your primary challenger at bay. Touché Mr. Hamilton. Touché indeed.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Zombie Party 2Nite

Sunday DURING the day folks. That means you can be spiked at 6, grab some Peppa's Jerk Chicken, and in bed by 7. Plenty of time to sleep it off!

Fully licensed and bonded, this is the SAFER way to reach oblivion. Trust me - day drinking is the BEST drinking!!!! (til it's not...)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Before You Opt Out Of Your Local Public School, Read This

Wherein the Q accepts a writing assignment for hire. I thought I'd write 500 words and cash the check. But out came the flood of Gen-X self-loathing and over-analyzing. The cheap editors at the Q never pay me for my work, so I was glad for the opportunity to earn enough money to afford a date with Mrs. Q at the Alamo Drafthouse.

I do like seeing my name in the byline. Makes me feel...writerly.

It starts like this:

We wanted to live in the big city. We wanted to stay in the City. Then we wanted a house or big apartment in which to raise kids. Seemed straightforward. But that's when the struggle for our very souls began in earnest. The next big question facing us is existential: which school will we send our children to?

Who's we? We are the mostly white, mostly middle- and upper-middle class, schooled in liberal arts, culturally attuned to NPR and the New York Times, The Atlantic and the New Yorker, with a smattering of Mother Jones or The Nationissues in our lobby mail slots. We can go to parties and talk about racism and bemoan white supremacy in a gorgeously renovated living room with a Black Lives Matter placard in the window. We want to fix X and Y problems, and yet when it comes down to it, we support charter schools, “forest schooling,” and testing our children into the “gifted” school. MORE.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

I Am Peace

I'm usually outa town in August, but that doesn't mean the Q doesn't totally dig what these kids and organizers have been up to over at the playground by Jackie Robinson, near what will soon be a complex of "luxury" apartments at the old Spice Factory complex. That project, and the super tall project to the north of it, are still very much alive. The Cornell Realty project is back on the ULURP calendar - they want to upzone to 30 stories in exchange for the creation of a bunch of below-market permanently stabilized housing. CB9 is still adamantly opposed, but we'll see what difference that makes. Between the projects, that's hundreds of "affordable" units.

Anyhoo. In the spirit of positivity and community, the I Am Peace Foundation could use your support for its fifth annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament. If you've been saying you'd like to do something for the neighborhood's youth but haven't the time, consider a gift to this group and come out and watch them play?

PLEASE GIVE, EVEN A LITTLE BIT. You'll feel really good about yourself. The effect is instantaneous!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Mere Mortal Murals

Say that five times fast. Or not. It's late on a Friday and it's time to get stupid with gummy bears and flavored seltzers. Why is St. Croix suddenly, like, EVERYWHERE? And those skinny cans too.

A new muralist is about to take her muse to the wall at the SE corner of Hawthorne and Flatbush. Katie is her name, and muralling is her game. And she's no hack. She did the gorgeous and giant mural that adorns the soon-to-be-demolished building at 80 Flatbush. You know the one - looks like a chalkboard full of modern hieroglyphics? It's incredible. So now Katie Merz is on the case on Fenimore. Read more here.

In the meantime, some locals took to a new-fangled electronic message board called Facebook to complain about change. Jesus! That thing went up since after I started this here blog, by the good folks at PLG Arts, back in 2011. It's not exactly landmarked or nothin' and it was lookin' pretty ratty. I mean catty. But way back in 2011, long before Twitter became a part of the national identity, why I was...

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Parkside Plaza Anniversary - May 19

Few things provide the Q with more local civic pride than seeing people lounging on the Plaza de Parkside. Friends, a brave few of your neighbors made this happen. They saw an opportunity to beautify a neglected open space, and they've  continued to nurture it for all. You may think it was the City's doing - nope. This was a grassroots effort at its best. Like the lovely tree guards and flower beds all up Ocean Ave from Parkside to Lincoln. Or the better (though not perfect) traffic signals at the Parkside/Ocean entrance to the Park (it truly was a deathtrap). Or the left turn bays along Flatbush Avenue. Or the fixed-up train stations (I know it's hard to believe - they really were much much worse). Or the Flowers on the old dilapidated Flatbush Trees. Or the jungle mural at the Prospect Park Subway Sta...oops, that got painted over. Or the murals on metal gates or sides of buildings.

I'm leading to something here, and you'll hear more about it soon (Cheryl and Brenda let's get moving!) There have been a number of attempts at serious civic engagement in this neighborhood, but few have stuck. Let's come out and celebrate one of the truly lovely achievements that stand as testament to the power of the people - the Parkside Plaza. See you there.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Right on, right on. It's the PLG Arts Festival

The Q digs, he digs, he really does. I love a good home-grown festival! PLG Arts is kickin' ass and takin' names. Just look at all this cool stuff to do without pulling out a Metrocard!

Listing of Events
Sunday, May 13, 2018

Blessings663 Flatbush Avenue11 am-2 pm, brunch with live music. 
Parkside Plaza, 2:30-3:30 pm, TaluDjembe & theSoundologists

Monday, May 14, 2018

Erv's, 2122 Beekman Place9 pm-midnight, Erv's Jam Session
Eden Bareket, baritone sax, and his ensemble perform and host an open jam. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Erv's, 2122 Beekman Place11:00 am-noon, Hannah Moore's Tunes and Tots.
Fun music for babies and toddlers, $10 per family.

Parkside Pizza, 705 Flatbush Avenue9 pm-midnightThe Parkside Jazz Sessions. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Nest Session at The Nest at Bluebird Brooklyn, 504 Flatbush, 9-11 pm, hosted by Perry Smith and Matt Aronoff. 11-midnight open jazz jam session. 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Nest at Bluebird Brooklyn, 504 Flatbush Avenue8 pm Rachel Therrien Latin Jazz Quartet

Friday, May 18, 2018

Kiddie Science, 509 Rogers Avenue11 am-12 pm, Lavender Blues at Kiddie Science

- 8 pmMary Spencer Knapp Trio
Accordion-wielding chanteuse Mary Spencer Knapp's cabaret soul project, Toot Sweet, melds French chanson with funky pop and psychedelic rock. 

9 pm, Sami Stevens and The Man I Love Sami Stevens and her band the Man I Love combine R&B and jazz sensibilities to forge a truly unique voice in the Brooklyn scene. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Blessings663 Flatbush Avenue11 am-2 pm, brunch with live music 
Greenlight Bookstore632 Flatbush11 am, Wildebeest Woodwind Quintet performs Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." 

Jenkins-Johnson Projects, 207 Ocean Avenue3-5 pmJenkins Johnson GallerySTEFA*

KD's, 408 Rogers Avenue8 pm The Epichorus
The Epichorus performs Indo-Arabic roots contemporary music inspired by traditional sounds from India to Egypt to Greece alongside jazz and fusion genres. 
Blessings663 Flatbush Avenue11 am-2 pm, brunch with live music 

Maple Street landmark home (limited seating, RSVP required) 2-3:30 pmAndreas Arnold

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Owl Music Parlor, 497 Rogers Avenue - Double Duos The Owl NYC7 pm, Blue Duet, featuring Joanna Sternberg and Charlie Burnham
8 pm, DavaMike,featuring Davalois Fearon and Mike McGinnis

Show and Zell

Have you seen him outside the train stations? From the first to second time the Q saw Zellnor Myrie he became noticeably less shy, like a man coming into his own as a candidate. It's an interesting thing to watch - the young idealistic neighborhood guy turning into a potential leader in front of our eyes. Like Josue Pierre, the male District Leader, this is a young fellow with tremendous energy and potential. More on Zell's efforts to distinguish himself from primary opponent Jesse Hamilton here from KCP.

Pic by RJ Sonbeek for KCP