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, October 13, 2019

Living on Top of One Another in Flatbush

Thursday night, a neighbor was shot dead, this time inside the old-skool KHF bodega on Flatbush near the remarkable Risbo and not-so-remarkable Parkside pizza bistro. I mention the restaurants because by the time the sun went down on Friday, the block from Parkside to Winthrop was shoulder to shoulder with people, and the busy restaurants provided a stark backdrop for a scene of overwhelming sorrow, anger and contemplation, mixed with shots from plastic cups. "First Class" liquors was doing a mighty business. Actually, First Class liquors is always doing a mighty business, but this night the line was especially long.

Dwayne Smith. If you lived here awhile you'd probably recognize him, unless you're the sort that chooses not to look men in the eyes. It's a weird thing, right? You want to be friendly, a good neighbor, but you also don't want to start nothing. Like the code that says "don't engage the schizophrenic when they're in the middle of a meltdown," these self-protective behaviors become perpetuating, and still when I actively engage, say, black men walking alone on my block it's if I've broken some Flatbush commandment. I do it anyway, hoping I'll break through to the other side, like the Jim Morrison I once wished I were. These are dances we long-timers do without thinking, but sometimes we do think, and this is what I've been thinking.

Dwayne lived on Lenox, the first block off Flatbush. The newspapers quoted family and friends saying he was a good father to his seven kids. He was an aspiring filmmaker, having made the video you can watch below for his friend the rapper Marz Money, another Lenoxonian. The shooting happened Thursday night, and by Friday the candles came out, dozens of them, each a remembrance of a relationship deep or distant, but the sheer number of candles and mourners suggested Dwayne was a longtimer too. Someone with deep roots, friends from school and life. And clearly at least one person, the murderer, was not a friend at all, or maybe had been once. He hated Dwayne, or his crew did at least, enough to shoot him in cold blood, assassin-style. These are the sorts of killings that used to be so much more common, even around here, even just 5 to 10 years ago. And certainly through the late '80s and '90s, this area saw more than its share of the bloodshed that overwhelmed the City. It was brutal back then, and apparently for some, it still is.

Rather than pretend to know Dwayne well, perhaps it's worth sharing some of his artistry as video maker, since I really do think the track and video say a lot, and besides this is an excellent portrait of the neighborhood you and I share, and if your demographic matches mine, it's not OUR neighborhood anymore than the one you see here, which, if you weren't told was right on top of you, you probably wouldn't even recognize. Amiright?

For better or worse, the Q's set down roots here too. I have friends (and not a few enemies), some deep some shallower. I walk down the street and share hellos along the way. I smile as often as I can, recognizing that even those I don't know may know me, or may THINK they know me, and I give them no reason to reinforce their worst suspicions. I've been here 16 years and more than ever I'm aware that my presence is both threatening and annoying to many people of color, though in all fairness the vast majority of people couldn't care less. Like all of us, Dwayne had his enemies, exes, resentments, fears. He wasn't so much younger than me that we could have been friendly, had the stars aligned. Maybe I'd have seen him in one of those "church basements" I go to, trudging the happy road of destiny.

Walking through the makeshift wake on the Flatbush sidewalk outside the crime scene - a Brooklyn ritual that would blow the friggin' minds of those in the suburbs or on the backroads. I heard laughter and tears. I recognized a few faces too...from my block, some whom I haven't seen in quite some time. Either priced out, grown out, or merely moved out, these were folks that clearly knew Dwayne from his earliest days. Stories were told. Liquor flowed. A parked police car kept its lights on, and the cops told me they were keeping an "eye on things."  They weren't there to stop the open containers or force people to move along. They recognized the scene, one of way too many, of a low-rent ceremony, and seemingly even the NYPD realize how cruel it would be to stop the DIY wake. Cruel, and foolish.

At one point I heard someone say "Dwayne would've wanted it this way." Indeed.

So what to make of it? We live in a phenomenally diverse neighborhood, but we often live on top of or beside each other. Dwayne would not have described his neighborhood the same way I do. The physical markers might be the same, but the hangouts, the people, the culture would read very different. Looking at the video that he made with his friend (I'm making assumptions, since the video is mentioned in the Daily News piece and it's clearly Marz Money's "big" video, those quotes used in the News piece to transmit a certain smugness that's hard to miss) I'm struck by the artistry (it's really quite good) of the lyrics, delivery and content. In the narrative, a young man, perhaps Marz himself, has spent time locked up, and he's returned to Lenox Road to friends and family, with big plans to remake his life. This part of the American experience - the return from prison - reflects some deep shit.

Confession time. When I moved here after making the gypsy rounds of gentrifying Brooklyn, I thought that I was the ideal person to move to a mostly black neighborhood. Why? Because I don't spend a minute of my brain thinking black folks are less than, or to be feared, nor do I think my mere presence needs to signify anything other than a willingness to hop into the present day Flatbsh olio. I was going to be, and continue to try to be, though it's getting harder, myself. Treating people of color with dignity and respect, to me, meant treating them no different. It meant calling out jerks for jerks, and elevating small-town heroes and hanging out on stoops and shooting the shit. It meant neither patronizing nor ass-kissing. It meant recognizing that no two people are alike (we're all the same? what bullshit!) and that until I'd heard someone's story I had no business making assumptions.

I've always believed, and never as much as now, that it's those assumptions that are killing us. As a country, for sure. Assumptions about immigrants, blacks, whites, asians, republicans, fly-over folks, celebrities,'s a recipe for disaster. Like Sarajevo before us, the world-class city on the verge of greatness, we too can descend into hatred, chaos and who knows maybe ethnic cleansing. There is no rule that we will survive the current moment, that our nation will somehow continue some inexorable path towards a more perfect union.

And now I pose the hypothetical Emotional Experiment. Had the person killed been white, a parent you know from the playground, someone you know from the occasional party or through gossip at school...would it feel more close, scary, tragic and perhaps even "too close to home?" as I've sometimes heard these violences described?

Dwayne's death made me think this stuff. It all makes a sad sense in my mind, and I offer no solutions. The old yarn about treat your neighbor as you would yourself? Makes sense if we're all the same. But the differences are what make us Flatbush.

How do you do this, y'all?

Friday, October 11, 2019

Add the Last Y for Yummy

Ever been to AmThai on Church Ave? No need to hike ALL THAT WAY. Now you gotcher own AmThai, and the truth comes out. The Am isn't for American. It's for Amy!

Amy Thai Bistro. Same lovely family, same good home cooking, if your home were Taipei. Don't miss it. 545 Flatbush. And if you want it delivered, call the shop directly so they don't get gouged by the Seamlesses of the world? It's actually QUICKER. Ever noticed that? It's quicker to call, plus you get to chat and ask questions. Just call. (718) 462-1555

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Flatbush Zombie House - Not as Safe as the Name Would Imply?

Oy. One assault is ten too many. But is it possible the bar hasn't taken safety seriously? Obviously any booze joint can be a breeding ground for creeps. But it takes vigilance and skill to make sure things don't get out of hand.

Following this story...if there's nothing to be ashamed of, why close down when the media shows up? Answer the questions. Show you're a good neighbor and that you refer any and everything to the police.

It's really not rocket science.


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Sunday You Must Taste Flatbush

There is little need these days to leave the neighborhood. Go local whenever possible. Drink local. Get your hair did local. Go to school local. And of course eat. Eat local. Taste the Flabenue.

So without further a-chew, here's what you need to know to support local bizzes and kid-centric non-profit Seeds in the Middle. Sunday. BUY TICKETS HERE or at Awesome gifts. My understanding is you can buy either 4 or 11 taste bunches of tickets then walk around to any of the businesses and get your taste, hang, get a feel for the joint then be able to honestly write a google review which, if positive, will help draw even more people to the place. So I hear. Apparently Google is really taking off. You heard it here first.

Tickets are on sale at Awesome Brooklyn, 617 Flatbush Avenue near Fenimore Street, or online.
The restaurants participating:
Allan’s Bakery – 1109 Nostrand Avenue
Awesome Brooklyn-Breukelen Rub – 617 Flatbush Avenue
Bishop Wells Sandwich Shop – 1206 Nostrand Avenue
Bonafini – 663 Flatbush Avenue
Brooklyn Perk Coffee – 605 Flatbush Avenue
Camille’s – 711 Flatbush Avenue
Camillo – 1146 Nostrand Avenue
The Chameleon BK – 546 Flatbush Avenue
Daleview Biscuits and Beer – 1170 Nostrand Avenue
DRINK PLG Wine & Spirits – 492 Flatbush Avenue
Edie Jo’s – 630 Flatbush Avenue
Erv’s – 2122 Beekman Place
Gold Room BK – 429 Rogers Avenue
Ix Restaurant Food Coffee & Cacao – 43 Lincoln Road
J & J Delicious Cakes – 664 Flatbush Avenue
Jamerican Produce (Hip2B Healthy Market) – 720 Flatbush Avenue
Midwood Flats – 577 Flatbush Avenue
Mo’s Original – 453 Rogers Avenue
Pels Pie Co. – 446 Rogers Avenue
Peppa’s – 738 Flatbush Avenue
Salem’s Hour – 1110 Nostrand Avenue
Taqueria El Patron Mexican Grill – 51 Lincoln Road
Toast – 1130 Nostrand Avenue
The Zombie House – 734 Flatbush Avenue
Learn more at and purchase tickets here.
Additional Tastes of Brooklyn Fall 2019 events include: Tastes of Franklin Avenue on Oct. 19 and the Smith Street Soup Fest on Oct. 26.

Friday, September 27, 2019

The Boss Is Hiring

doesn't El Jefe mean "the boss?" did i make my first spanglish joke with the headline?

The other location gets some pretty serious rave reviews for its Mexican-Panamanian fusion. Read about owner Onishka Camarena here. Look you can get your computer fixed with my man Abdo next door than saddle over to El Jeffe for some killer nachos.

Speaking of which...were you aware that nachos were invented in 1943? By someone named Ignacio "Nacho" Anaya?

Look it up. S'all true.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Alicia Boyd Takes Neighborhood Hostage: Judge Orders Closed-Door Negotiations

The takeover is complete.

Despite the fact that private citizen Alicia Boyd is neither elected nor appointed to any public office or position, she will now be negotiating with the Department of City Planning, developers and (potentially, if she shows up) Councilperson Laurie Cumbo, on the fate of the neighborhood just east of the beloved Brooklyn Botanic Gardens.

To the Q, this is such a stunning and undemocratic turn of events that I fail to understand how any sitting judge would see fit to offer Boyd and her cronies such enormous bargaining power ON OUR BEHALF and without scrutiny. (Story in Brooklyn Eagle)

Check this insanity out. For a crew who spends most of their time decrying a lack of transparency in civic matters, this "private session" crap takes the crumbcake:
Boyd agreed to participate in the settlement talks, which will take place in a private session in the judge’s chambers, and will include lawyers for the entities they are suing. Boyd, Ellis and Hollingsworth are suing City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, the Department of City Planning and its Director Marisa Lago, plus Winston Von Engel, who is the department’s Brooklyn director. The City Planning Commission and the city Buildings Department are also targeted in the suit.

Think about it...the Community Board by law has a role to play in the ULURP (zoning changes) process. Those 50 members of the community represent many walks of life and mindsets. Their job is to deliberate and make recommendations. The elected Borough President weighs in. The duly elected Councilperson decides, follows by a full-Council vote, again consisting of elected officials. Also in the mix are the landowners and developers and the Department of City Planning, beholden to the (elected) Mayor and his housing and job and economic growth initiatives.

And then, there's un-elected, un-expert and un-civil Ms. Alicia Boyd (with Janine Nichols and Nichola Cox and LaShaun Ellis among others). The scorched-earth Boyd continues to pummel all things deliberative and decent, sitting in a room with the powers that be, deciding your fate through supposed "good faith" negotiations. She's entitle to sue, though god knows it's gotten her (and us) nothing. But negotiating on our behalf?

Don't get me wrong. The Q argued for height limits long before Boyd became Queen of Empire Boulevard. Had we negotiated the zoning changes years ago we would not be here today, vainly attacking one building projects at a time. She'll tell you she's a hero, but it's crucial to remember she got us into this mess to begin with.

At bottom, the movement to protect you (the people) had things to say in their latest missive to supporters. Hey, they're entitled to their opinion. And apparently, they're entitled to YOURS too, in a private session in judge's chambers.

 Here's your heroes, and the actual renderings, rather than the hyperbole put forward by Boyd and co. And remember, this isn't even the REALLY big buildings being proposed, the ones that even the garden is pissed about. Though, after Boyd's mistreatment, the BBG wants nothing to do with what otherwise would be a natural ally. I'm betting the Garden will come out okay, albeit with more buildings in the horizon. Democracy and civility however, will continue to take hits on the regular.
photo by Lore Croghan of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Judge Requests Councilwoman’s Laurie Cumbo
Presence at Negotiations

On September 17, 2019 at the oral arguments hearing, Judge Boddie, stated that a win/win could happen if settlement talks were considered and requested Councilwoman majority leader for the City Council, Laurie Cumbo, to attend these talks.  The reason she might be involved is not only was she the deciding vote on this rezoning, but she made public statements on the record that her vote was based upon a “miracle” community benefit agreement, that the City conceded does not exist. 

Negotiations Talks have been scheduled in private in the Judges chambers on
Monday, September 23, 2019 at 2:30 pm.

Motion to Dismiss on this case is still scheduled for
October 7, 2019, at 9:30 am, if the negotiations fall through.
Image above: Janine and Nichola, members of FLAC at Court House hearing.

Oral arguments for the case went on for about an hour and a half and a few things became crystal clear to the community; the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) hearing contained lying testimony both by Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and the developers under oath.

The most stunning point in the case was when Ms. Boyd who was acting as a prose litigant in this case produced the transcript of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) hearing, where again Cornell’s attorney stated on the record that Cornell owned property and described in detail the work that Cornell was conducting on the land, including environmental clean ups, working with the government entities to get permits and their fear of not getting financing for the project if a TRO was signed.

However, once the lawsuit itself was served on Cornell all of a sudden Cornell  does not own anything! Never had in fact!  When it was pointed out that Cornell's lawyers and representatives stated otherwise at ULURP public hearings and at court hearings, Cornell current attorney, the fifth in this case, stated that the lawyers were not under oath. She was Implying that attorneys, who are officers of the court, are not obligated or don’t have to tell the truth at public hearings!  Of course that answer got a response, not only from the Judge, but from the overflowing crowd of residents who had attended the hearing and were privy first hand to the amount of corruption and lies this rezoning has endured, so far.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Q's Life Hack #1: Nachos in the Bath. Plus, too little childcare

We've noticed the girls' favorite Youtube indie-stars like the phrase "life hack," and we've decided the Q needs to take a stab. In this case, things that we adults can do that bring an element of excitement, style or freedom to the otherwise dreary reality of middle-age. A recurring segment begins.

Q's Life Hack #1: Do you like homemade nachos? Do you enjoy a leisurely hot bath? Why not combine them? After the kids were in bed, and as the Mrs. was reading, I made a plate of delicious nachos, brought it up to the bathroom and enjoyed two of life's simple pleasures, simultaneously.

Life Hack Score: 8 1/2
Nachos in the Bath

Oh, and it appears Lefferts and Crown Heights are "daycare" deserts, according to this report from Scott Stringer, who I just emailed to suggest Life Hack #1. The guy always seemed a bit overworked and could use a little "me" time.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Q Station Makeover

Did Queer-Eye get a-hold of our local subway entrance? Cuz dang it's lookin' good! (it's not much more than a paint job and new light bulbs, but we'll take it!) For 15 years I've fantasized about heading out there at 3am with a buck of paint. You know how it is...every day you see the same dilapidated crapola and you start to feel like crapola. A lesson there perhaps for the power of upkeep and appearances when dealing with city strife.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Marketing the Corner

You've all seen it. You've wondered WTF is that tumor on the head of 715 Flatbush? Two more-incongruous surfaces one cannot imagine. And yet, here we are. What was once Nelson's barbershop and a combination driving school/money order/real estate//fax/email and legal beagle has become 242 Flatbush (the upscale market rate apartment building) and 715 Flatbush the soon-to-be something that nearly everyone has opined will be either a Starbucks or Hungry Ghost or Ramen Place or Red Lobster, depending on your outlook and/or hubris at rumor-mongering.
This rendering makes it look almost passable. You, dear reader, know the ugly truth.
Like many other buildings nearby, including the gorge mansions along Parkside Avenue, 715 Flatbush was designed by the prolific architect Louis Gold. More on his story by Susan De Vries from B-stoner. Given the current zoning, this sort of thing may become much more common along Flatbush Avenue, where some beautiful old buildings could get taller without necessarily coming down altogether. I expect a canyon of 5-7 story new construction, particularly in all the tax-payer and boarded up buildings south of Empire, of which there are still many.

I think it's worth noting that the asking price for the commercial space is not really affordable by many mom-and-pops. The $70/sq/ft/yr means you'll need nearly $100,000 a year to sign a lease. High-end retail, chain stores, maybe restaurants and bars etc. tend to fall into this category. With the location being a commuter goldmine, it's hard to see how this sort of stall could become anything-like the funky hodge-podge currently renting along the Flabenue.

And the apartments? Well, about what you'd expect. At a price considerably higher than my mortgage you could get a rare 3-bedroom that actually looks kinda nice. It'll set you back $3,300 a month, but it does have newness and size, 2 bathrooms and 7 rooms. I can't really tell whether this is a "deal" or not, because there's not a lot that's comparable. If you're in the hunt you could always start here. It's hard to imagine it doesn't shoot up past $4K a month soon, but what the hell do I know. I couldn't afford it even if I wanted it.

l will say that any place with a staircase gets a bump up in my view, even if it goes nowhere. The place is actually quite cheap if this is a Stairway to Heaven, though I suspect it's more of a Stairway to Futon.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

They're Just Bowling Now...

A row of townhouses? Yep. Just swoop in, buy 'em all and put up 7 stories of market-rate bullshit. Hey, people gotta live somewhere. And this side of Flatbush is starting to become as dense as Caledonia, the Q's name for the area south of Parkside between Ocean and, I dunno, East 17th or so. Or as a friend once called it "the canyons." Dense. Not unlike the local community board.

This new one - 160 Clarkson - is just a block from me. Back in the day, like, I dunno, last year, this would've pissed me off. But really, what are we to expect? We have a dumb-as-dirt councilman and near-zero political clout. Plus wackos suing everyone and their mothers if they don't tow the right activist line. Nothing affordable this time, by the way. Not even for middle-incomes.

If it weren't true, I surely couldn't make it up. They say gentrification is about white wealth pouring into a poor neighborhood. And we've all learned how true that is. But in the case of this neck of Flatbush, it's almost an inside job.

Here's what's coming down, for 75 feet and nearly 120 units.

Oh and if that weren't enough, you know the beautiful but neglected two story on the southeast corner of Clarkson and Rogers? Just bought for $20 million. This is one of the first properties I looked at a few years ago when a buddy and I were looking to find a location for a community center. Pretty sure that was the same year that John McCain was the bad guy. How little we knew how much worse it could get.

Monday, August 26, 2019

There's An Echo In Here

(going back to requiring you type some code before commenting. i see the spam got outa hand. sorry to require the extra step!)

Some are wondering where the hell I hid. Nowhere. The internet is like that. Stay off it for awhile and it's like you don't exist - to some. To your family, it's like...nice to see you again! Here's what I learned from my self-imposed isolation.

None of this supposedly "new" shit matters as much as we think it does. The fight for civil and judicial rights remains crucial. Government matters. Personal choice matters. How we spend our dollars matters. How we treat each other matters. And well-being is directly proportionate to how much we help others and give love without expectation. Same as it was.

Oh, and Vitamin C does NOT prevent or lessen the severity of colds. However, as with all placebos, your body might in fact react positively to the belief you will get better. So...fake news CAN be beneficial!

That leaves 45. Which I'm quite certain is less a symptom than a fluke. The guy is universally reviled outside parts of the Republican party and white supremacists and assorted deplorables, which it must be said exist in every society on earth.  I'd be hard pressed to find a Trump supporter up here in Montreal, or frankly anywhere I go. Even Repubs who say they approve are scared shitless by some of the crazier stuff he says and claims - because they know his post-truth can come right back around and bite them from the left. He's doing a lot of damage to the office of president and making people suffer, but most of what he's done can be undone and it's a decision the American people must make. And we will. In record numbers, mark the Q's word. (Go Warren/Harris or Harris/Warren).

Closer to home, it's my favorite day of late summer. The release of the ever-competent and good-looking Lefferts Manor Echo Echo Echo!!!!

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Proud To Be...An American?

The Q's not a religious man. And yet, with all the braying going on in D.C. and with 45's basket of deplorables, I got a bit choked up when I saw the below sign. God bless NYC and the promise of a better America. Time to get busy. Just over a year and we can send 45 back home. Oh, right. Home's NYC for him. A minor inconvenience, at least til he's tossed in the can by Tish James. Don't mess with Texas? Hah. Don't mess with Tish, mofos.

And as the Clarkson Avenue block party was in full swing, we got a visit from the power team of State Senator Zell Myrie and Assemblyperson Diana Richardson. What they accomlished this term! Just read this whole list and tell me we can't be on the wrong and the right path simultaneously in this country, til the roads converge in 2020.

Get busy!

on the block on Saturday - the Q's fave power couple D & Z

Clarkson on Saturday. Hot but Bouncy.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Gee, Officer Krupke - Krup YOU!

For residents of a certain block in Lefferts Gardens/PLG/Flatbush/Central Brooklyn, June of 2019 will be remembered for the day that Hollywood came calling. Steven Spielberg's update of West Side Story is shooting right here right now. Want proof? A neighbor shot these pics just this morning. And yes, Officer Krupke gets his own dressing room. Are they shooting that most deliriously delightful of songs? Head on out and don't forget to send the Q pictures!

And if you've never seen this hilarious episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you can watch the highlights reel here.


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Honoring Lamuel Stanislaus (and Hell, Zell way to CRUSH it!)

It's not that I don't THINK about blog-posting every day. I do, I do. And yet, at this busy time of the work and school year, I find myself feeling guilty for indulging my hobby. For instance, so much to say about the changing of rent regulations. Like, watching our newly elected State Senator absolutely crush it...I mean, taking the lead after only days in office, to help sponsor and deliver some of the most important tenant protections in decades. Big, big stuff. Hope you've been following. More on Zell Myrie when I finally get a chance to sit down with him. Thank the Lord we chose the right candidate in that race.

In the meantime, how cool is it to learn about a guy who you probably never met, who did so much for Flatbush and the Grenadian specifically and Caribbean community generally, getting a street named after him and all that? Thx be to Liat Weinstein at the ever-amazing BKLYNR for this delightful and informative read.

Photo and story by Liat Weinstein in BKLYNR

Lamuel used to lay awake at night wondering whether he could pay a $99 a month mortgage for a brick row house situated on Rutland Rd. between Flatbush and Bedford Avenues, his son Eugene Stanislaus remembered.

On Saturday, June 15, 65 years after Lamuel A. Stanislaus purchased the home that kept him up at night, the corner of Flatbush Ave. and Rutland Rd. in Prospect Lefferts was renamed in honor of his contributions to the Caribbean-American community of central Brooklyn. The renaming ceremony brought together family, community members and elected officials to celebrate Stanislaus’ career as a Grenadian diplomat and dentist and featured speeches by those close to him.

Stanislaus’ legacy remains scattered across Brooklyn— through his work on the West Indian Day Parade, an annual celebration of Caribbean culture that draws more than two million participants to Eastern Parkway, and Brooklyn Heights Dental, a family practice he founded in 1956. Yet Stanislaus is most often remembered as an emissary of Grenadian culture in his role as Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations, a position he held from 1985-1990 and again from 1996-2004.

“We grew up on this block, this is where we were raised, with just a terrific father and a terrific mother, always emphasized family and giving all the glory to God was also part of his mantra,” Eugene Stanislaus said. “He was always very active in Caribbean-American politics and he was one of the original founders of the West Indian Day Carnival […] He was involved from the very beginning, organizing the police to come and oversee and the event, and was the first one to attract the politicians to come to the event.”

And as Paul Harvey might say, here's THE REST OF THE STORY.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Two Ears In the 'Bush Is Worth One In Manhattan

You can roll out of bed for this one. Music all over the hood. A festival for the rest of us, if by rest of us you mean homebody.

PLG Arts presents the third annual PLG Arts Music Festival 2019, a weeklong event June 15-22. The schedule features over 50 prominent and upcoming New York musicians in 12 locations throughout Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, a Brooklyn neighborhood that is home to many artists. Performances and events include Dawn Drake & ZapOte at Parkside Plaza; Axiom Addicts at Maple Street Block Party; Rho & the Nomads at Toast; Gabe Globus-Hoenich holding a drum workshop for children at Greenlight Bookstore; Sivan Arbel at Salem’s Hour; Pointless Forest and the Curtis/Sperazza/Garabedian trio at The Owl Music Parlor; Monday night jazz jam at Erv’s; Rafael Rosa at Drink Wine & Spirits; Kazemde George at Salem’s Hour jam session; Dayeon Seok Group at Bar Bayeux; Noah Garabedian at The Nest jam session at Bluebird; Improvisers Pool at Soup and Sound; Tavche Gravche and Reggie Chapman at Bar Bayeux; Choiroke karaoke and People of Earth Salsa Band at Brooklyn Commons; Shelly Thomas Duo at a landmark private home; and Aaron Burnett and the Big Machine at Toast.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Big Night Out On the Flabenue - Next Wednesday the 12th


Parkside Empire EAT, DRINK and BE GIVING | Fundraising Event

TASTE & SIP the vibrant culture of Flatbush Avenue!

MIX AND MINGLE under the Brooklyn sky.

DISCOVER what makes Prospect Lefferts Garden one of Brooklyn's hottest neighborhoods

Your purchase comes with unlimited food and drinks provided by local vendors.

PLUS Enter to win raffle prizes generously provided by shops and restaurants along Flatbush Avenue.

Flavors of Flatbush participating stores and partners are: Bluebird Brooklyn, JusFishy Restaurant, Scoops, Brooklyn Perks, Errol's Bakery & Catering, J & J Delicious Cakes, Cinnamon Girl Bakery, Ix Restaurant NYC, Taqueria El Patron Mexican Grill, King Of Tandoor, Hype Kitchen, Trixies Pet Food, Pumpkin, Tafari Tribe, Tracie with Style Hair Studio, IGoFix, Awesome Brooklyn, Les' Blooms Floral, Bonafini Restaurant, DR Cuts,The Parkside Plaza, PLGNA Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association, Drink PLG Wine & Spirits, Brooklyn Beer & Soda, Erv's, First Class Liquors Inc.,

The Parkside Empire | Flatbush Avenue Merchants Association beautifies, organizes, and promotes small businesses along the Flatbush Avenue commercial corridor between Parkside Avenue and Empire Boulevard. Money raised will go toward Parkside Empire Annual Street Festival, the avenue’s yearly holiday street lighting, small business support and marketing, local shopping guides, and more.

SPECIAL THANKS to our sponsors: IMPACCT Brooklyn, Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, Council Member Mathieu Eugene, The Parkline, and BKLYN Commons.


Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

All Attendees must be over the age of 21.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

Take the B, Q, or Shuttle Train to the Prospect Park stop, the event is directly across the street. Street parking is also available.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please call 347.236.0981 or email for additional information.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

PLG Arts - Stuff-a-Plenty In June

Wish I wasn't so busy at work...I could say something cute or annoying about all these great events. But you know what? Screw that. Support these fun thangs and check out the poster for the PLG Music Festival. You heard right.

Wednesday, June 5 - 5-8pm @ New Bridges Elementary/PS 532Live Here, Learn Here: Friends of District 17 Community Night Out
Details here! If you can't make it, but believe we as a community need to invest in our local District 17 public schools, consider donating here.
Saturday, June 8 - 11am-2pm @ The Nethermead/Prospect Park
Trail Blazers & PLGNA's Family Picnic!
RSVP/More details here and here.
Bubbles, s'mores, crafts, relay races, and much much more!
(Want to relive your summer camps days but don't have kids? Please consider volunteering - sign up here or shoot us an email! It's a light, but very fun, lift!)*
Wednesday, June 12 - 7-10pm @ BKLYN Commons
Flavors of FlatbushJoin the Parkside Empire - Flatbush Avenue Merchants Association and support and celebrate our local businesses! Unlimited food and drink and raffle prizes provided by Flatbush Avenue vendors.

Buy your tickets here.

Speaking of local businesses, please sign and share our petition as a show of support for Scoops! Negotiations are ongoing, but our fingers are crossed that Tony can stay in his current spot on Flatbush for years to come!

We look forward to seeing you at any or all of these upcoming events! 
Stay tuned for more! 

The PLGNA Board:
Brenda Edwards 
Cheryl Sealey 
Nelson Simon
Virginia Bechtold 
Calista DeJesus
Deborah Mutnick
Candace Edwards
Rashida Sykes
Bob Thomason - Board Member Emeritus

Thursday, May 30, 2019

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

Four years on and Community Board 9 is still a hot mess. Just as it looked like they were finally about to pick a new District Manager after Pearl Miles was forced out four years ago? This happened. Yelling. Walk-out. Claims of misconduct. Ugh.

Thx to Lore Croghan and the Brooklyn Eagle for sifting through the nonsense, which was apparently egged on by some of the Usual Suspects, and I don't mean disgraced actor Kevin Spacey. The saga of CB9 would be the longest, most painful Netflix television series, and I beg you not to make it.

Read Lore's article here

Monday, May 27, 2019

The Gem In Our Midst - Parkside Plaza

It wasn't always thus.

Not but 5 years ago, the NE corner of Parkside and Ocean was sprawling piece of nothing. Just an cement expanse to be traversed. With old shopping carts, broken payphones and assorted garbage. Now you can't swing a dead cat without hitting thriving plants or relaxing neighbors or even the awesome CaribBEING container. (Why you would be swinging a dead cat is beyond me.)

And now, a Community Resource Fair. Or rather a community resource fair. Who needs a capital letter when you've got the good people of FAT CATS there to bring the capitals by the word-full. Here's betting they've got a thing or two to say about that "dead cat" saying. But I don't make make 'em up folks. I just sling 'em.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Alexa, Read Me the Echo

The Lefferts Manor Association has been publishing the Echo way longer than Jeff Bezos has been hawking books, so its only by the good graces of the recently departed Ben Edwards that JB's billionaire butt wasn't sued into submission.

Or...let's just read the latest issue, shall we? 

On a day when a Kosher Beer Garden has opened in full swing where Toomey's used to was (can you even make this shit up?), chef-ed by cooking chameleon Alan Harding of one-too-many-not-bad-but-not-great restaurants fame...yeah, on a day like that. And on a day when I walked through Prospect Park to find full-on Marines combat-ready helicopters and military sea planes and even some kind of rocket launcher in the Park near Park Slope...I mean WTF? At least we know what Brooklyn neighborhood will survive the Iranian, or Long Island, invasion. This is seriously twisted, y'all. Why are they bringing killing machines to Brooklyn??? Memorial Day doesn't mean recruitment day. You should have seen all the young male-identifying young boys salivating and their liberal-arts-grad-dads trying hard to explain their actual feelings on the matter, and mostly just acquiescing to the fact that their kids are WAY more interested in the heavy artillery than they want to admit, hoping they'll grow out of it, but maybe a bit embarrassed they don't stand up for their supposed pacifist beliefs.

Twisted times. Really, really twisted times. Thank god for olde tyme classics like the Lefferts Manor House Tour!


Monday, May 20, 2019

Why Evict Scoops? Thriving Business, Neighborhood Treasure

It'll never make sense to me, how landlord's can look at such a unique and utterly treasured tiny takeout joint like Scoops and want them gone. What about the Vegans who live here, and the incoming Vegans, and the people who just love this delicious Ital food and dairy-free ice cream? I mean c'mon Mr. Man...have a heart. The guy's paid up on his rent. Sheesh. Time to make some noise.

Tony Fongyit Presides Over a Noble Kingdom
Get your name on this petition, pronto! And show up for the protest next Saturday by (gulp) Equality for Flatbush, the group that organized a protest against me, your humble blogger, for being a racist pro-development gentrifying machine. So you know I'm desparate to save Scoops if I link to their schizophrenic web presence!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


photo by Trey Pentecost in the Brooklyn Paper
That's no typo. This Mailbox is monstrously malodorous, should be sued for malpractice and malfeasance, its maleficent malfunction making it the Menace at Midwood.

So, breathe in Colin Mixson's latest from Brooklyn Paper about the notorious postal bin. And similarly, take in this dandy new look from near-miss Council candidate Brian Cunningham, who to this blogger looks like he's ready for the runway, if not another run at elected office.

From Mixson's missive:

The blue mailbox at Midwood Street and Flatbush Avenue is one of the single most pilfered collection points operated by the U.S. Postal Service in the borough, according to area advocates, who’ve created a website called that locals can use to petition the city for a more secure drop box to send out their rent checks and birthday cards.

Whole Story Here.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Edie Jo's Opening, like, Real Soon

Who among you hasn't cast your gaze upon the open storefront next to Greenlight Bookstore and thought...are they going to serve cheeseburgers? The long-done battle over the mammoth 626 Flatbush has given way to shrugs of resignation, and the existence of a truly good bookstore and the 2nd-floor Maple Street School has ensured that the shorter "community use" building at 626 is now fully ensconced along the Flabenue.

So yes, the corner space is rented and nearly complete. It's going to be a neighborhood hang kinda restaurant, comfort food it would appear, locally owned, and best of all? There Will Be Booth (the original title of the Paul Thomas Anderson film, before he realized that the history of restaurant booth seating provided less than the ideal level of narrative thrust for a film starring Daniel Day Lewis and was scrapped for the oft-favored film favorite - Blood. (Think Blood Simple, Blood Wedding, In Cold Blood, Blood Diamond, My Bloody Valentine, Rambo: First Blood, Blood River, Bloody Muscle Body Builder In Hell and any number of movies with the simple name "Blood.") Frankly I'm more interested in the history of Booths, and I'm linking a fascinating article about just that here. Both Prohibition and Prostitution factor heavily, I kid you not.

So soon, folks. Soon. Edie Jo's. Soon

Friday, May 3, 2019

Alicia Boyd: Bully In Chief

Wow, y'all. It's pretty serious when the City Council member feels the need to respond in detail about an incident that happens at a public meeting. In this case, a CB9 meeting at Medgar Evers College included a melee that led to the arrest of an MTOPP member who Laurie Cumbo of the 35th District claims (Bed-Stuy, Ft Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights) was sent on a suicide mission by Alicia Boyd to create the perfect photo op. Boyd's description of the events is 180 degrees from Laurie's.

The video Boyd posted shows just how her antics are designed to incite. If you have a moment, listen to the way she engages the Medgar Cop (Officer Chan) to convince him not to remove her. She's good, man, she's very good. By the 10 minute mark she's convinced Chan to take her side. Damn.

But MTOPP members should be on notice. If you charge an elected official, you will get arrested. Whether that's your civil disobedience plan or not, that's just how it goes. There's plenty of history of electeds getting hurt or killed, and that's why they often travel with protection. Taking on an average Joe like me may have limited consequences. And she's charged me plenty of times. Do it to Cumbo, and expect to be thrown out or handcuffed. It's just that simple.

Laurie has a lot of info in this message, so I'm including it in full. There's much to be done in the community, and like or loathe Cumbo's decisions, she's doing what she thinks is best for her community, black, brown, tan, pink, albino or yarmulked. Seriously, it's like that. She was born here, she's dedicated to civil rights, and she's a smart and dedicated leader, and that's why she's the party leader of the Council. Word.

Dear Neighbors,

The needs of the 35th Council District are considerable, ranging from lead paint poisoning and a lack of heat and hot water in our NYCHA developments, to residents facing eminent evictions and forcible removals from Third Party Transfers. What makes this district so incredible is that we are home to many passionate beings and often I hear from my constituents in a myriad of ways.

Unfortunately, now in my second term, there continues to be the same reoccurring characters that are consistently ANTI everything, but you would never be able to point to anything that they have accomplished or delivered for the community.

As such, I feel the need to take time away from important budget negotiations, the fight for pay parity for our day care workers, summer camp opportunities for middle school students, putting a plan in place in regards to the recent shooting in the newly renovated Elijah Stroud Playground, and the current fight to prevent our rent laws from expiring, to address the unfortunate circumstances that occurred last night at Medgar Evers College on April 30th, orchestrated by an organization known as The Movement to Protect the People (MTOPP).

MTOPP is a not-for-profit organization that utilizes its funds to support or oppose political candidates (operated through a market rate Air B&B). Over the last six years, MTOPP has consistently disrupted any meaningful conversations or plans to address the housing crisis in Crown Heights. The organization has blocked every attempt to build any affordable housing in the community. This does not help the housing crisis, but rather exacerbates the rates of gentrification as more people continue to move into a community with limited housing.

Tuesday night, while seated at a Community Board 9 meeting, a student charged at me, out of the blue, yelling at the top of her lungs in my face, that I had not done anything for Medgar Evers College students. I stood up in order to defend myself, not knowing if she was preparing to assault me. I always carry myself with the knowledge that my predecessor James E. Davis was shot and killed in City Hall. That is why this new form of protest that involves physical confrontation alongside disrespectfully yelling or screaming, has no place in our democracy, particularly at a time when mosques, synagogues and churches are experiencing mass shootings.

The student was removed in order to regain control of the meeting and NOT ARRESTED as was falsely reported by MTOPP.

The goal of Alicia Boyd was to have the woman approach me so aggressively that she would have to be forcibly removed and to then capture it on video and send out an email that I had a “Student Leader Arrested”.

But here I was, a Black woman squaring off with another Black woman, while two Jewish Rabbi's, along with other individuals had to intervene to de-escalate the situation. With all the work that is being done by so many women around the world to demonstrate what women can accomplish when working together, it was mortifying to have landed in this position.

The harmful reality was that Alicia Boyd, the founder of MTOPP, had influenced this young woman as a publicity stunt for her next social media post. After the incident, MTOPP circulated a baseless and inflammatory email from Boyd advancing her false storyline and further hurting the people of our community. Here’s what MTOPP did not want this young student leader to know:

1) As a member of the Higher Education Committee, I fought to bring back $14,924,669 for the Peter Vallone Scholarship that grants all CUNY and FIT students with a B average a scholarship to go towards reducing their tuition costs.

2) As a new Mom who understands the importance of Child Care, I fought for $600,000 for the remodeling and reopening of day care facilities throughout CUNY.

3) In 2014, I supported Medgar Evers College President, Dr. Rudy Crew's plan to utilize allocated capital resources to expand the college and create a campus for students. Dr. Crew eventually had to terminate the plan because of community opposition, which prevented the college from expanding and the students lost this opportunity to have a campus-like setting similar to Brooklyn College.

4) The Bedford Union Armory was originally designed to create 25,000 square feet of classroom space for Medgar Evers College in order to take the student body out of the trailers and into a world class facility. Moreover, taking the students out of the trailers would have freed up space for Medgar Evers Preparatory High School that is busting at the seams to expand and accommodate more students. However, Dr. Crew had to terminate that plan because of opposition to the Bedford Union Armory project, leaving the student body in trailers. 

5) In the very auditorium that the meeting was held in, I fought to obtain $2,250,000 for the remodeling of the new Founder’s Auditorium in last year's budget. In total, I have secured $7,250,000 in capital dollars for the college and have allocated over $927,000 dollars towards the pipeline program for the college that prepares students from k - 12 to make sure our students are prepared for college. Moreover, I have consistently provided resources for the Center for Black Literature, the Center for Law and Social Justice and the Caribbean Research Center. 

Much of the progress of the college has been stopped by a few individuals who I believe relish in the attention of social media and utilize any progress that a community is attempting to make in order to expand their personal profile and relevance.

I would also like to use this teachable moment to address both the affordable housing and affordable recreation center at the Bedford Union Armory. I have heard the community claim time and time again that the affordable units are not actually affordable. Our federally-implemented housing lottery system is extremely flawed, and that is exactly why I fought tooth and nail to ensure that the units at the Armory are affordable for existing Crown Heights residents as well as those who have been displaced from the community.

I fought to keep luxury condo units out of the project and to keep the property entirely in public ownership. I also fought to increase the total number of affordable units and lower the levels of affordability. The more than 400 homes in the project will now be rental units with much deeper levels of affordability than the original proposal, which included just 67 affordable homes below 60% AMI – that’s a family of four making $57,000 a year or less. The project now includes approximately 250 homes that will be affordable below 60% AMI, including 10% set aside for formerly homeless individuals and families, with the following breakdown:

·        25 units set aside for formerly homeless (not based on income)
·        25 units at 30% AMI
·        24 units at 40% AMI
·        24 units at 50% AMI
·        152 units at 60% AMI

This means that a family of three making $28,830 a year (30% AMI) will pay $588 for a two-bedroom apartment; a family of three making $38,440 a year (40% AMI) will pay $828 for a two-bedroom apartment; a family of three making $48,050 a year (50% AMI) will pay $1,069 for a two-bedroom apartment; and a family of three making $57,660 a year (60% AMI) will pay $1,309 for a two-bedroom apartment. Please note: the median income for all cities across the country is defined each year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The 2019 AMI for the New York City region is $96,100 for a three-person family (100% AMI).

In regards to the Armory’s Carey Gabay historic Drill Shed, I believe it is important to create a holistic community and we don’t need to limit ourselves to either housing or a recreational facility. It is not an either/or but rather an also/too. Our children deserve a world class community facility that will be converted into a center with three full-size basketball courts, multipurpose court space for activities like indoor soccer, a six-lane 25-meter indoor swimming pool, and fitness room with cardio and strength-training. I was able to secure several requirements to ensure the state-of-the-art recreation center will be truly affordable and accessible to Crown Heights families.

At least 50% of memberships will be reserved for community members at discounted rates of just $10 a month for adults and $8 for a child under 16 compared to $60 a month for an adult at the Bed Stuy YMCA. In addition to the reduced membership rates, benefits include discounted space rentals, discounted classes, and discounted rents for non-profit organizations. The non-profit space will be available to tenants at $6 per square foot as opposed to $30 per square foot; and rent increases will be capped at 3% annually.
Further, the developer has committed to a 25% M/WBE goal for construction, has entered a union agreement with 32BJ for building service jobs, and has committed an additional 20,000 square feet of community facility space for Brooklyn Medical Plaza for much-needed healthcare services. A community advisory committee is in formation to help plan programming for the recreation center, to hold the developer accountable throughout the construction and operational phases, and most importantly, to ensure the needs of the local community are met throughout the life of the project. If you or someone you know might be interested in applying to be on the community advisory committee, please complete this application and submit it by May 15th.
Below are a listing of the not-for-profit organizations that will have a permanent home and below market rent:

·        West Indian Day Carnival Association
·        Carey Gabay Foundation
·        James E. Davis Foundation
·        Digital Girl, Inc.
·        Ifetayo
·        Brooklyn Community Pride Center
·        New Heights Youth (Basketball)
·        Team First (Multi-sport afterschool program)
·        Imagine Swimming
·        Magnus Makuro Foundation
·        Global Sports (negotiating soccer contract)
·        Kings County Tennis League
·        CAMBA
·        Eatery (TBD)
·        Flatbush Youth Association (Basketball)
·        Ice Tea Youth Development (Basketball)

In today's society, fame can come so easily through an attack tweet, email or post, versus the time it takes to actually role up your sleeves and do the heavy lifting of trying to get something done so current and future generations can be better equipped to meet and overcome challenges. With an extreme housing shortage and very little land left and private developers having the freedom to build what they want on private property, we are left with having to make extremely difficult decisions in an impossible situation.

I will continue to seek open and respectful dialogue with the community, around the critical issues we face. I will not be able to respond to every fake news MTOPP email or social media posts that other groups will send out. It is my hope however, that we can remain focused on the work and getting things done for the betterment of the community for generations to come.

The 35th District deserves to be heard respectfully, and I am proud to be your advocate. 

Yours Truly,

Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo