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, May 31, 2016

$300,000 Profit for Baseless Fear

After talking to him on the phone, and hearing his side of things, I still think his fears are absurd. Good luck finding a place more welcoming, lovely and respectful, and where no one can find you. You're not going to be targeted for assassination - there are plenty of more powerful targets. Like church prayer groups in South Carolina. I wonder whether any of those unfortunate souls ever wrote for the Atlantic. Such a weird, tragic world we live in.

But then again, if he gets asking price, he'll make a cool $300K for his second thoughts. Not bad. Enough to buy an alarm system and a big dog for his next house. So long, Mr. Coates. We hardly knew ye. I did learn, however, how to correctly pronounce one of my favorite writers names.

NY Post on Ta-Nehesi Coates House For Sale

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Go Ocean

Ocean Ave that is. Along le Park. The outrageously undeterred Amy Musick and group FLOWERS on OCEAN once again ask for your support next Sunday as they beautify the Ocean. Since some words in the poster are askew and in color, you KNOW it's gonna be fun!




Saturday, May 28, 2016

Misery By the Numbers

Some folks need to see reality in hard facts. This chart of "threatened neighbors" syncs with common knowledge. It's hard out there for a renter. Real hard. Employment and median income stats also tell the tale of two Brooklyns (three, four, five?). This wouldn't be nearly as apparent to us if we weren't living right on top of each other. I appreciate the distillation of data. There is really just one issue that Trumps (sick) all others.


Friday, May 27, 2016

Gotta Say, I Ain't Surprised

Some have tried to deny that MTOPP founder Alicia Boyd is capable of violence, but a piece in the popular Lubavitcher blog CrownHeights.Info begs to differ.

Racist Rabble Rouser Allegedly Assaults City Worker

She's a powder keg that one. Once at a CB9 meeting she came at me with such froth I thought I was going to drown in M-SPIT. Good thing I wasn't carrying a weed wacker at the time - those things make her go berserk, apparently. Though I got to say the haircut I just got looks like I had a run in with said City Employee myself. And I think I came out on the losing end of that battle, just like I've lost every point I've tried to make with CB9 for, oh, the better part of two years. No matter. It's just "nice to be appreciated."

Maybe she was still sore about the outcome of the Nominations for Officers at Tuesday's CB9 general meeting. Chair Demetrius Lawrence finds himself with a challenger just one year into his tenure, in Hector Robertson, a man with whom Demetrius had words after the first process to hire a new District Manager failed to please the Executive Committee. That hiring committee, chaired by Robertson, has since been replaced, and the new team seems confident they'll have solid DM candidates to look at by next month - from resumes which are now many months old. Obviously, Hector was none too pleased to be dismissed. Meanwhile, the District Office has been staffed by volunteers (Board members, notably longtime Adams and Clarence Norman, Jr. pal Carmen Martinez, and others) for more than six months. I mention CM not to disparage her work - she's pretty great at everything she does at the Board - but because her name comes up often as the preferred pick for DM by people like Norman, the disgraced ex-felon Assemblyman who sort of "made" most of the politicians of Central Brooklyn. Interesting sidebar - when Chair Lawrence was calling out the names of elected officials and their reps he gave Norman a shout-out, despite the fact that he supposedly gave up politics years ago after going to jail for corruption. Slip of tongue? Maybe just being friendly. But it's a clear indication that Norman is back, right in the thick of things.

Oh, and the outcome of the Nominations. Turns out that many positions will change hands. Warren Berke was the sole nomination for Treasurer. Francesca Leopold will go up against Fred Baptiste for 1st Vice Chair. Pat Moses is the sole nominee for 2nd Vice Chair, after she was begged to run against moi by Pat Baker, who clearly holds me in the highest esteem, as she seemed desperate to find someone to keep me from the job. And the members-at-large? I forget. Evelyn Williams for sure, and...oh well. At least I'm not Secretary yet, because I didn't bother to take notes. But yeah, at the very last minute I took my name off for 2nd VC and put my name in for Secretary, after no one would take it, because I knew Alicia and frenemy Karen Fleming would throw a fit. And of course, they did. They got me removed as Transportation Chair after all, and created a petition for my ouster from the Board entirely. This is what happens when you disagree with the The Almighty Boyd.

It's a bittersweet feeling of course. I have no great desire to be screamed at for another year, this time in my duties as Secretary, and I certainly hope the new Board member Scott will continue taking notes, because clearly my skills in that department are lacking. Who can enjoy the "show" while taking notes? Not I, said the Q. Not I.

Tenant Posse Seeks Justice

If it weren't for the little successes here, and the middle-sized successes there, I'm sure it would be hard to keep the faith. Organizing buildings to fight against illegally greedy and duplicitous landlords is tough. It's door-to-door. Often there are cultural and language barriers. There's a fear on the part of tenants that you, the organizer, are actually just one more wolf in sheep's clothing.

video

Today the Q took his lunch hour at Ebbets Field, where a raucous protest was going down over the harassment of tenants. We learned that there are currently 43 eviction proceedings taking place right now. There were rarely more than 5 at any given time before three years ago. If you are looking for a way to vent some justifiable anger, you'd do no better than contact to the Crown Heights Tenants Union or Cea Weaver from Urban Homestead Assistance Board (UHAB), (212) 479-3300 is the office number, which is ironically located at 120 Wall Street. By all accounts, Cea has become one helluva a good leader, activist and organizer on the issues facing long-term and low-income tenants. Read an article with her from BKMag.

Lotsa people continue to believe that the giant Ebbets Apartments building is somehow public housing, but this is not the case. ABBA Realty acts as the Broker, and like any other broker you can call 'em up and go see an apartment or two. Check out their slick website. Lesser known Fieldbridge Associations, however, is that landlord, that De Blasio targeted last year as in need of a paddling. Now that the word's out that this and other ABBA buildings (like Patio Gardens for instance) are perfectly fine housing and folks are being priced out all over Central Brooklyn, and because Ebbets has some big apartments to boot, the game is on. Bring in college white-educated arts farts (the word Yuppie is so Reagan-era - I prefer CWEAFs - note the "white-e ducated" part, meaning you don't necessarily have to be white per se) tenants, do some cosmetic repairs, take advantage of the 20% vacancy increases every time you get someone to leave, wipe out preferential rents, and presto-change-o, you've got yourself some "Luxury Rentals With Views." Without all the muss and fuss of actually building a building.

Look, it's never gonna shine, that Mitchell-Lama eyesore that stole the name of a legendary ball field that once stood on its terra firma. But it's built sturdy, and along with Tivoli Towers on Franklin, it's long provided affordable housing with a view, close to trains and park and garden. In essence, the kind of housing we NEED MORE OF. In part, of course, it's been affordable beCAUSE of its reputation as public housing. It's seen its fair share of crime through the years, but perhaps by virtue of its density, not so much more than other lower-cost buildings in the area. Per capita that is. And it's not like Lefferts and Flatbush generally well-attended to by landlords or free of crime. Even 13 years ago when I moved here things were more hectic. And forget about it - back in the crack days, and for awhile after the worst, it was not exactly Mayberry RFD around here. Just ask a longtimer - they'll give you the skinny. There's always a bit of pride in the telling, too. Machismo from the guys; from the grandmas it often comes from a deep place, like a soldier who's been there and seen that and lived through some rocky times. Survivors? Maybe to heavy a word. But definitely worldy-wise. Oh, and then there's the guys like my neighbor John, who came back from the horrors of Vietnam to find himself fighting racism AND the drug dealers at the same time. Funny, I just put it together. No wonder he loves old Westerns so much! He's got hundreds of 'em. On VCR of course.

Speaking of cowboys, for a modern-era John Wayne meets Jimmy Stewart, you gotta hand it to Esteban Giron, pictured here with comrade Donna Mossman, they of the Crown Heights Tenants Union. Every time I see him he seems a little more jazzed than last time about the fight against predatory landlords. Without getting into details, these folks have actually managed to get some bigtime corporate owners who paid way too much for their properties to throw up their hands and sell, simply because they're such a pain in the ass with the lawyers to back it up. The hardest part comes after you send a landlord of a single building packing, which is usually a small piece of a large portfolio, how do you sustain the effort and make sure the new boss ain't the same as the old boss? Hitherto at the "Union" they've called each building its own "Local," but now the trick is to band buildings together so that whole blocks, even neighborhoods, are "off-limits" to predatory practices. If anyone can do it, it's CHTU, UHAB, FTC and a bunch of other acronyms that have dug in their heels for the fight of their lives.

News flush. When you're old and feeble, and you look back on your life, you'll wish you'd 1) spent more time with your kids and/or 2) tried to make the world just a bit more just. That's why the Q salutes the field warriors, the cowboys and cowgirls, and even the occasional politician who shows up and then (most important) follows through. To those I saw today (Tish, Walter, Laurie) and to those who I know have their hearts in it (Hakeem, Jumaane, Diana et al), c'mon now bring home the trifecta.

1) No more automatic 20% vacancy increases
2) No more arbitrary caps on stabilization to incentivize the rush to increase rents
3) No more sudden removal of preferential rents

Oh, and while you're at it, rezone Empire to maximize affordability and livability, downzone inner blocks throughout the district, and buy me a Mr. Softy chocolate with chocolate dip.












Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sluicing Thru the Flatbush Tube

pic: Linda Rosier

Not a done deal by any means. But what if the Q were to tell you that Bike Lanes might finally be in store for Flatbush from Empire to GAP? The Q's beside himself with joy, even if there's bound to be push back from you know who and the zealot drivers at CB9.

Eric Adams, I could kiss you. Instead, I'll just send folks to this AMNY link.

And more on the Park Perimeter Projects (Triple P) happening City-wide, from Gothamist, the paper apparently edited by Commissioner Gordon.


Monday, May 23, 2016

More Creative Use Of Out-of-Date Zoning

828 New York Avenue
Just outside our district is this creative use of R7-1 zoning on New York Avenue near SUNY Downstate. By purchasing this two-family, they get to build up 7 stories.

The 23 story buildings on Flatbush and Nostrand and Linden are all a result of lame zoning that pretty ignores the current size of adjoining buildings. You can see more on the City's zoning map of the area: Zoning Map . Change the 17b to 16d in the URL and you can see the rest of our neighborhood's zoning designations. The Q continues to argue that these designations, dating to 1961, are woefully inadequate towards the planning of the neighborhood, We're missing opportunities for downzoning and affordable housing at a depressing clip. Thx to one very vocal neighbor, in particular.

Notice for the above came from NYYIMBY.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Crash the Lefferts Coop Today and June 5

You know we have our own little food coop, right? I still can't believe they pulled this off. When they started having "meetups" to talk about it a few years ago I thought "right, good luck with that" assuming it was some people pissed about the tough rules at the Park Slope Food Coop and just letting off steam. Lesson? Do NOT underestimate the people of Lefferts!


Friday, May 20, 2016

Diana Richardson Got Your Back? Stop By Tomorrow May 21 and Find Out

You want change? You want results? You want politicians to step up to the plate and address the issues that matter to you? Then no more of this complain, complain. Get on board. You're welcome to join the parade, the fight, the dialogue. Don't like what you see over at your Community Board? Get involved elsewhere. Come on down to a new convening of neighborhood stakeholders, to meet with agencies and have your voice heard. It's called "Civic Minded" and the next meeting is May 21 at MS61 on Empire & New York Ave. Follow me on Facebook, people. Come on up to Albany for a protest. Get to know the players, and the enemies. Check out my videos. Let's get real about what's really happening, people!  *

Welcome to the world of Diana Richardson. The above is an amalgam of comments she's made in person or online in her year or so in the State Assembly. If you live 'round here, she's quite likely YOUR NY State Assemblyperson. Smart, hilarious and sharp of tongue, she is exactly the right leader for the right times. She's 33. No, that is not a misprint. The way politics work in NYC she will likely be in our lives for a long, long time. So why not get to know her before she becomes, I dunno, governor or something in 2041 or some such.

pic by Nicholas Brooks for NY Times
Start chatting with her and you KNOW she's a local girl. She know everybody who's been here more than 10 minutes. I first got to know Diana as the brash voice talking tough at Community Board 9 meetings. She ran for Treasurer after the long, long time Treasurer died, and she wanted to open up the books and see what was really going on in the District Office. With an annual operating budget of under $200,000, the answer was...not much. The office is just an office. It's the person doing the job that matters, and I soon learned that many on the Board did not care for longtime DM Pearl Miles personally. (The fact that she was damn good at her job didn't matter much, and she was tossed last Fall once the numbers were against her and a new Chairman was in place following nearly 30 years of the Pearl & Jake Show. Chairman Goldstein, it turns out, was NOT as popular as one would have thought. But I still love him and enjoy every chance I get to talk to him. Stories, he gots stories!) So despite the fact that there was little to unearth as Treasurer, it was clear that DR was an ambitious voice in local politics. Having worked under longtime State Senator Kevin Parker, she knew the ropes. But the power players - like Eric Adams - didn't think she was ready yet I guess. She thought otherwise.

You get tell DR was going places. The surprise abdication of Karim Camara from the NY Assembly  seat sent people scrambling to fill the role. A hilarious screw-up led to no Democratic nominee, and Richardson roled into office past Shirley Patterson, Geoffrey Davis and one-time candidate Demetrius Lawrence, now unpaid overworked Chair of CB9. The victory meant single-mom Richardson was off to Albany. Luckily she had her ducks in a row, some good advisors and a cat-like sense of readiness for the Ways of the Wolves. Because as she described to me in a recent sit-down, they don't exactly welcome you into the old boy's club. Even if you're an old boy! There's no "how-to" manual. You have to get your bearings quickly and on your own, follow the leaders, get in with the cool kids, brush up on your lingo and ask, ask, ask. Thankfully, your pol does not suffer from shyness, and she's been able to tackle tough bills, make important friends, bring home some bacon, and become part of the all-important movement to take back the Legislature for the Democrats. For as followers of Albany Football well know, the City is forever beholden to Upstate Republicans who love to deny NYC its due. And one of the biggest issues for Downstate legislators has been the absurd reality that the City's rent laws and many development agencies are State controlled. Leaving the City with little recourse to deal with runaway rents, building and land prices. That can change, but only when the Dems are in the lead.

So unlike our Councilman, who seems to grasp issues the way fists grasp water, Diana knows precisely what's at stake and what course to take. And by gum she might have the tools and personalities to make some breaks fall our way. (yes, sometimes it takes more than one personality).

After talking with her for an hour at her District Office recently, I decided to pretend I was writing her platform, based on her comments, videos and things I've read from her online. Okay. Here's my 5 Point DR Agenda:

1) Housing
2) Empowerment
3) Activism
4) Violence
5) Youth

That spells H.E.A.V.Y. The Diana Richardson agenda.

By housing, of course I mean keeping people in their homes, creating more opportunities for low income housing, ending predatory practices and preferential rent spikes and more City control of our rent destiny.

By empowerment I mean that folks in our community, young to old, need to dig deep and find the inner resources to go out and believe in themselves, from education to jobs to spiritual fulfillment. That might sound squishy to you, but I assure you that many people in our community could benefit from a world that values them, their potential and their contributions.

By activism, I mean DR believes you can't just sit on your duff and complain. By getting out there and making your voice heard, you can be a guiding light for change. That's about empowerment too.

Violence is a plague, a disease worth curing, and you make it your goal to end both the symptoms and the causes. In one year she's already brought home resources to fund anti-violence initiatives that are less about brute force and more about community based policing and solutions.

Youth. Self-explanatory. Nothing changes for the better without investing in the future.

Go to her Assembly site and you can see her videos and get to know her personality a bit. If you can stomach The Facebook, then check out her feed.

Feel free to disagree. But I think DR is the real deal, and we should encourage her to act in the interests of all. See something you believe needs to be changed? Let her know. Get to know her. USE her. That's why we set up this whole damn republic in the first place.




House Tour Sunday - Do It Before It Turns 50!

Has it really been 46 years since the Q first created the PLG House Tour? I was 3 at the time, but my prescience was as sharp then as it is today. Those were good times...not exactly Good Times, but kinda like it. Me and Mayor Lindsay hatched the idea over egg creams. Seems so silly now, but we really worried that NYC would go the way of the Dodo. Such memories...

Flash forward 46 years and the tour is still hopping. And man, business is GOOD if your business is real estate. Folks are flocking here and paying more than $2 million for a house! Bob Marvin, longtime tour operator, bought his for (get this) $750 and a subscription to Prevention Magazine. Talk about horse thieves!

Below, find the deets. And if you see Bob, remind him about the deed restriction he and I placed on his house - to only sell to supporters of the ERA Constitutional Amendment. (You see, back then, ERA stood for Equal Rights Amendment - it wasn't a real estate broker.) He may have forgotten, since not long after he started a political club with Ayn Rand, following their whirlwind romance in Malta. Bob used to run a speakeasy there. He once said to me "of all the gin joints, of all the bars, in all the world, she walks into mine."

The point? He'd still be running that dive if it hadn't been for us chance trip on the PLG House Tour.

More hard facts:

Have you been on the PLG House & Garden Tour? Please support this annual event by purchasing tickets at the following local merchants: Bluebird, Gratitude, Little Mo Wine, Play Kids, PLG Drink, Tip of the Tongue, Trixie's and Tugboat Tea. Or purchase online at tinyurl.com/plghousetour2016

The 46th Annual Prospect Lefferts Gardens House & Garden Tour will be held on Sunday, May 22, 2016 from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM

For more information see leffertsmanor.org

"The tour is so worth it." - Callia Piperides

"The house tour is very important to me. My wife and I fell in love with the neighborhood after going on the 1974 tour, stopped looking at houses ... and closed on our Midwood Street house four months later. For that reason I've worked on every annual house tour since 1975..." - Robert Marvin


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Raccoon You Believe This Guy?

Every night we're visited by the same guy. You might be too. I hear the varmints have been spotted on fire escapes even.

This guy we've taken to calling Don Rackles. He's been totally chill with the ferals we've been feeding, but when it comes to priorities he gets to eat first. What do you think? A problem that needs addressing? Or will these guys die out on their own? Trying to think what predators they have. Like cats, I can't think of any. Maybe really mean squirrels?


video

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Hilarious Comps I: Get Thee To a Nunnery

From the Q's Cleveland correspondent comes word that in a homey area of "The Sixth City" called Cleveland Heights is currently on the market for about what you'd spend on a 3-bedroom coop on Winthrop Street. Knowing Midwesterners like I do, it's not clear to me how well residents of the "Metropolis of the Western Reserve" would appreciate the silliness of residing in such a home. And yet, isn't it every little girl and boy's dream to live in something like this?

The Cleveland Castle was custom built in 1910 for Joseph Randolph Nutt, president and board chairman of the Union Trust Co. treasurer of the Republican National Committee, and a personal friend of Republican President Herbert Hoover. The Cleveland Castle is in such immaculate condition because it served as convent and was maintained by the Ursuline nuns of St. Ann Church from 1948 to 1983. It is registered as a historical home under the Cleveland Heights Historical Society.
 For more pics and pangs of something unsettling just shy of heartburn, take a gander here. The Downside? Living in C-Town, I suppose. Working as a docent at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But on the bright side, as Sinatra's song about Cleveland goes:

If you can make it here, you can probably make it in Green Bay, it's up to you Cleve-Land, Land of Cleves.

For kicks here's a Cleveland Tourism video our correspondent sent not too long ago:




Saturday, May 14, 2016

Help! Info!

I thought maybe these things were gonna be super space-age tricked-out with all sorts of digi-doodles. Turns out the blue florescent light is the only cool thing about them, and once these dorky pylons get even a wee bit vandalized they'll likely become the ugliest part of your daily commute.

So how do they work? I wondered, so I pushed the mysteriously uninteresting button marked "information." Know what happened? A scratchy speaker-phone auto-call got made to a disinterested receptionist, probably from the 311 pool. So I made up a simple request. "How do I get to Coney Island from here?" Now granted, I was standing on the downtown platform at The Q at Parkside station (natch) and knew damn well if I hopped on the next train I'd be on my way. I'm not kidding now, I was put on hold twice, while the attendant tried to figure it out for me.

That the MTA spent more than a single Harriet Tubman on these things is outrageous. 99 out of 100 people these days have cell phones. What in God's name are these oversized light sabers supposed to do that a cell phone can't? And in the rare occurrence you don't have one on you, or the battery is dead, you can ask someone to make a call for you. Or for advice on how to, I dunno, stand clear of the closing doors or some-such. And with the money they spent on these glow-tubes they could have bought everyone in NYC a new phone anyway.

Hell, why not put battery-charging stations in instead? And wifi in every station? Now you'd save some lives. And allow people to tweet from inside the tunnel, which is what we really, really, really want to be doing as the world slowly burns and Beelzebub prepares for yet another record year of immigration.

Barely Know It's There

If you like what you see there's more where that came from. Be sure to send a thank-you note to MPAV (the Movement to Protect Alicia's Views) for the finished products. All market rate - only the best for you, Lefferts! (By the way, the Parkside Playground from which these were taken, is looking terrific. The landscaping is really starting to show and the blooms are righteous. If only I could say the same for the views!)

Quite proud of my composition on this one. Winthrop never looked so...odd. Pic taken on my $60 ASUS phone




More Misery @ 60 Clarkson

The news trucks have returned. On Clarkson, that's rarely good news. (Is it EVER good news when the local news shows up on your block? Makes you think about what it takes for something to be called "news" at all.) Last night, on the 6th Floor of the most infamous building in the neighborhood - 60 Clarkson - a young woman, just 22 years old, was stabbed to death by an irate, insanely jealous, probably intoxicated, man. The woman, essentially homeless but bouncing around, had recently left the building only to return, caught up in a bad crowd, part of an extended family that long ago should have been moved from the building to provide a safer environment for the many children, younger than the victim, who are part of the household. And yes, they were there when the man broke the door down to gain entrance.

The Q learned some other tidbits best shared with the police. Imagine living in a building where an angry man busts down a door and in a fit of rage grabs a knife, and maybe someone neglects calling 911 long enough for the assailant to get away? The details will be rehashed I'm sure, but the murderer has fled, though by all accounts he won't be able to get far, since he's been identified as the assailant by many.

Once again, the Q's heart is heavy, knowing that a life was needlessly lost, and many children scarred by this tragedy, not just the misery of poverty and dysfunction and the inability of a City to shut down a monstrous landlord - Barry Hers.

Folks, this could have been easily prevented with proper security in the building. How can you have a de facto homeless shelter for families, with many of the mothers being victims of abuse, and not ensure the safety of the people inside? How much does that even cost? More than the cost of human lives apparently. That was the sick calculus that led to this young woman's death. The cops might not haul you in, Barry. But in the court of morality, you are guilty of the most heinous crimes. May you suffer torment and the pangs of a guilty conscience, if not here, at least on the other side. Feel free to go there anytime. We won't miss you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Hell Yeah - Tonight at Garage 284

Leslie Ward, that d'lovely and indefatigable Trinidadian teacher of classical piano AND steel pans, has opened a joint down Clarkson way called Garage 284. It's a hoot, and you should stop by. Maybe even sign up for some lessons. And damned if she didn't just warm this irascible blogger's heart with this plan for tonight:


Extra Extra! Echo Echo!!

It's here! The only real Leffertonian Newspaper is out with its Spring Issue!





Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Winos on Every Block


Crazy y'all. You can't swing a dead cat around here without swatting a wine store. And each one has a slightly different spin on the world's oldest inebriator. Damone James, the affable Men-of-Lefferts Calendar-Ready gentleman in the photo, believes that wine is life, life is wine, and a big part of HIS life is owning a wine store in Lefferts. Called Vyne Yard. And it's on Rogers! So now you can get high-class wine on Nostrand (Little Mo), Rogers, Upper Flabenue (Drink) and Lower Flabenue (65 Fen). Dang. But still no Tapas or vinyl record stores? Long way to go folks...

Damone hails from Buffalo, where he met biz partner Michael Brooks at College. Their (presumably) beer guzzling days as proud members of the 100-year-old storied Phi Beta Sigma took a Europhisticated turn, and here we are, with Vyne Yard, their latest venture on Rogers Avenue. Inspiration struck in Barcelona at a place called the Torres Vineyard. So now you can experience true Spanish culture, and elsewheres, without having to endure the indignities of air travel. Just scoot, hobble, toddle, weave, saunter, strut or teeter over to 594 Rogers and reel in the aroma, drop a few Tubmans, and fill up your rack with vino.



The hours are Mon-Fri 2-9, Sat-Sun 12-9.

Wellness Day at Compound Cowork - Tuesday 4-8pm

Before Brooklyn Commons, there was the lovely Brooklyn Compound co-ork space, up above the beer store at Lefferts/Washington/Flatbush. Not to be outdone, they've got a swell program set:

Community Wellenss Open House
Tuesday May 10th from 4 - 8pm
Free Childcare provided by Maple Street School
Come over for a post-work wellness treatment atMINKAbrooklyn
Reiki
Zen Shiatsu
Flower Essence Therapy
Tarot Reading
Spiritual Reading
Community acupuncture @ Bikram Yoga


For childcare registration please emailwendy@maplestreetschool.org

Monday, May 9, 2016

Ta-Nehisi Coates - We Were Just Teasing!

The Q is stunned. Shocked. A week after embracing the idea of a great writer moving to the neighborhood, he's thinking of backing out on us? Because people know the address? EVERYONE knows EVERYONE'S ADDRESS, man! You have heard of the internet, yes? Edward Snowden? Some, in the halls of power, actually say we're more safe. With a straight face. Yes, they do.

Like we don't know where Woody Allen lives. Spike Lee. Nora Jones. Bjork. Ethan Hawke (yes, Ethan, that was me giving you a high five in Boerum Hill the other day). In L.A. they sell maps to the stars homes. And they're surprisingly easy to break into, according to the The Globe.

Mr. Coates, I hope you're ready to reconsider. You will not be anonymous anywhere you live. But you will never be safer than you'd be in Brooklyn.

The door's always open. And after a few weeks, no one will even remember you're here. Just ask A.O. Scott who lives down the block from you whether anyone pays for his coffee when he walks into Gratitude Cafe. You're a big star, yes. But not all THAT big. Speaking of big, maybe get a big dog. And a good lock. Ask the neighbors to keep an eye on things. You'll be leaving the windows wide open in no time! (Uh, it's still the big City. Maybe ixnay on the indowsway. But frankly you'd be safer here than in the 'burbs. The creepy, quiet, 'burbs. Or the serial killer exurbs. Or the...or the...Zika-Ridden Countryside!! Is nowhere safe? Nope. I mean yep.)


Trust me. You're in friendly territory here. But don't take my word for it. Take the word of all the interested parties who claim my interest is too fawning all the while taking time out of their otherwise fabulous days to comment on the comments. Oh, the hypocrisy. Oh, the leisure time. Oh, the times. Oh the time! Gotta run...

Coates Reconsiders

Friday, May 6, 2016

45 Lenox Rendering

This Is An Example of the "Better Than the Vacant Lot" School of Architecture
Another day, another new project in Flatbush. YIMBY recently stumbled across a rendering for a six-story apartment building coming to 45 Lenox Road, between Flatbush and Bedford avenues.
The Issac and Stern-designed development will fill a vacant lot between two pre-war apartment buildings, in a rapidly changing but still heavily Caribbean part of central Brooklyn. At the end of the block, the city plans to redevelop the colorful Flatbush Caton Market into an affordable apartment building with a new market and community spaces on the ground floor.

Full Buzz For 10% Less!

Come on by for DRINK's grand opening tomorrow, Saturday, and get 10% off purchases. That's 492 Flatbush, 'cross from (the soon to disappear?) Phat Albert's:
The place, to quote the Yiddish, is schwank but friendly. Me, I'm not a drinker, so a place like "Drink" would be like a place called "Gluten" for a Celiac sufferer. Frankly I thought Mad Dog 20/20 got the job done just fine. Mix it with Bud to give it an extra kick. So I'll let the proprietor do the talking. From Co-Owner and local resident Howard Gibbins:
From the outset we wanted to work with as many local people as possible. The store design was done in conjunction with local PLG architect Roberta Woelfling (Rutland 1) and three of our top suppliers are long time residents of PLG - Kurt Eckert of Marathon Selections (Midwood 1), Matt Sarno of Winebow (Rutland 2) and Rennie Alba with Opici (Hawthorne 2).   
DRINK now offers over 370 curated domestic and international wines along with close to 100 artisanal small batch spirits. We really wanted to make the store accessible for all PLG residents and so prices range from $7 to $260 - so something for everyone. Half our wines are under $20. We also now offer FREE SAME DAY DELIVERY in PLG. We are working to finish our outdoor space which will be used for wine tastings and wine education.  
We believe wine and spirits should inspire friendship and fun. Discovering really delicious new wine and spirits should never be intimidating or difficult so we have a very knowledgeable team led by General Manager Paul Arena. Paul has many years of experience including working at Chelsea Wine Vault and Grand Harvest Wines in Manhattan.   
Randy (Rutland 2, formerly an attorney) and I (Maple 2, formerly a tv producer) have both lived in PLG for 16 years so we're very happy to be able to invest in our neighborhood. We really hope it will inspire friends and neighbors to open other new businesses. 
Its our Grand Opening on Saturday May 7th and some of our favorite distributors will be at DRINK pouring from Noon throughout the day and we'll have live music too courtesy of guitarist and vocalist Charlie Jones and a standup bass from 6pm-9pm.
We've got quite a lineup of tastings for everyone and all details are on our website -www.drinkplg.com and we're also on Facebook (Drink PLG Wine & Spirits).
Here's the Grand Opening tastings info:
Noon-2pm - Trevor Hagstrom of Indie Wineries pouring two Italian gems from their book. 2pm-4pm - Nicole DiCicco of Skurnik pours a yummy Rhone Valley rose and a Finger Lakes Riesling - 4pm-6pm - Charlie from Welkin Vines will pour some of the Pacific Northwest's finest: What we think is THE top example of what the noble Riesling grape can do out of Washington State, and a plush, elegant Bordeaux-style red blend that offers tremendous value - 6pm-8pm - Matt Sarno from Winebow will be here pouring a killer Malbec from Argentina and a delicious unoaked chardonnay from the Mâconnaise.

Howard & Randy. Thx guys, for investing right here at home.. Nice and curvy, y'all. The space, I mean!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

It's Official. Ta-Nehisi Coates Is A-Comin'

But which coffee shop will he prefer? Odds on, Gratitude Cafe. It's closer. Lincoln Road y'all. I trust we'll all react like the cool New Yorkers that we are and be totally blasĂ© about it to his face, all the while gloating about it to our friends and enemies.

Coates Confirmed By NY Post

Did you hear it in the Q first? Of course you did.

Was the Q geeking out about him all summer? Of course he was.

Next up. I'm working on getting Henry Rollins and Bootsy Collins to move in and start a band. The Rollins-Collins Band, of course.



A Carnival For the Family - Saturday May 7

It's my kids's school, and it really is fun if you like bouncy castles and touching trucks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bob Marvin Talks the Walk

Who wouldn't say oui to a brunch-time stroll with 40+year Lefferts resident Bob Marvin? On a Saturday? In May? If Jane Jacobs got anything right, besides thwarting the excesses of Robert Moses, she encouraged us to slow down and smell the limestone. She also helped ensure that no one you know would ever be able to afford an apartment in Greenwich Village, but that's another story.



This is a picture of Jane. Not Bob.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

If it comes to pass, and it looks damn likely, the single biggest positive physical change to the neighborhood will happen within a year or so. The Phat Albert's clock will be restored to its former glory, along with some serious repairs to the building's facade. That alone would be enough. But wait...there's more!


Slowly and stealthily, the warehouse building that was once the Bond Bakery has been undergoing an extraordinary change from within, thanks to the attention of Jack Srour, son of Albert, who, by the way, is neither particularly fat OR phat. But danged if he didn't have some good timing, personally and professionally. Albert fled the start of the civil war in Lebanon nigh on 40 years ago and humbly built a humble retailing humble empire of humble goods. Jack's inherited the savvy. And as a Brooklyn resident himself, he knows precisely the enormous worth of the building his family owns. Trust me, he gets it.

If "location, location, location" means anything, the old Bond Bakery has it in spades. Park, Garden, views and a plethora of trains and buses. Planet Fitness was the first new tenant to change the vibe, but it's the recently opened Bklyn Commons that will really remake the triangle. Maybe we should call it Flempwa (Flatbush Empire Washington?) Or Fleffwemp? (Flatbush Lefferts Washington Empire? Because it's actually a rhombus). Whatever. It's clear Srour would prefer to highlight the Bond Bakery aspect of the building. Old-timers will tell you they can still remember the wafting of baking bread in the neighborhood each morning. That and perhaps the smell of smog from the ghastly air quality of NYC in the '60s and '70s?

The Brooklyn Commons is a top-notch first-rate ship-shape co-work space, with simple one-desk spaces running from $475 a month to larger multi-desk offices that look like, well, an office. You get complimentary coffee and tea, the utilities and wi-fi etc included. Air conditioning in summer (crucial) and you don't have to buy something once an hour from the barista to legitimize your hogging of table-space. You can come in hourly too and sit at communal desks, or do that by the month (around $150 unlimited). There's a sweet outdoor patio on the roof, and the design is all super-slick and up-to-date, replete with vintage photographs and graffiti. He's nearly 80% rented already, and that's why he's expanding into another big space at the Washington side of the building. Workers were doing demo and construction just today as I peeked into the cavernous room.

You can do events at the Commons too. Apparently the Brooklyn Film Festival's coming (tenants have to agree to cede the common space for nighttime shindigs when they happen.) Rentals of the big space can hit $250 an hour, with breaks for community minded stuff. Jack wondered aloud if the Community Board might be interested. Wow, now THAT would be something. I told him that probably wouldn't be such a good idea, but I'll bet there are some groups out there that would be perfectly suited to the space. Like I says, location, location, location. Interested in renting for events? Contact Johanne Brierre, who just so happened to grow up on Hawthorne III, by the by.

Events & Community Manager Johanne Brierre & Owner Jack Srour

And what of Phat Albert's? Well, it's safe to say that the Savvy Srours will find a more profitable use for the downstairs space. He wasn't committing, but Jack and I did talk a bit about Berg'n over at 1000 Dean, you know, Brownstoner Jonathan Butler's old Studebaker factory cum chum-hang and offices. It's clearly not lost on him what a nice combo of businesses might look like on the upper Flabenue. Imagine, tons of workers, fitness space, bar and food. And with Wendy's just around the corner to provide Frosties at most any hour, what's not to like?

Actually, speaking of sweet chilly treats, check out the pic below of the Bond Bakery and corner where the Wendy's is. Zoom in and you'll see an Ice Cream Parlor, right there where the beautiful parking lot is now.



And lastly, yes, big plans are afoot to rejigger the long-forlorn clock and tower. New windows, newfangled electronic mechanisms, and pretty soon you got yourself a great countdown clock to New Year's.

I'm telling you Jack. Fix up that clocktower and you will be, I assure you, a neighborhood hero.





Monday, May 2, 2016

Affordable to Whom? It's Not a Myth

As neighborhood naysayers continues to thwart a Planning Study that would unquestionably lead to the creation of more affordable housing, word comes that 626 Flatbush and its 50 units of affordable rentals will be opening end of summer or so.

And so, as the building spree continues, it turns out that the best hope for the future has been relegated to a 23 story building, much taller than we should have expected in exchange for the much needed working folks' units.

How affordable? The units are designed for those making 40 to 50 % of AMI (Area Mean Income). That is, folks making around $35 - $40K. So when someone asks "affordable to whom," that's pretty much your answer. Apartments renting for around $1,000 or less.

Yimby's Article