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.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Flatbush Zombie House - Expectations Be Damned

The Q is typically full of opinions, but I can't manage a single up, down or sidewise on this particular new business called Flatbush Zombie House, which seems to be taking off quite nicely as a new neighborhood nightclub, just next to famed Peppa's Jerk Chicken off Woodruff on Flatbush. Somehow without being from the Islands, the owners seem to have embraced the Caribbean flavor of the neighborhood in a big way. With a tiki bar. As if tiki is an actual thing. And it's named almost exactly after an acid-ingesting rap group, quite bizarre and oddly excellent band actually those Flatbush Zombies, but not related, though I'll bet they'll drop by off the Dollar Van at some point. Or Dollar Limo, cuz they sell a ton of music, and outcast kids really dig 'em. With a love for Dance Hall and hip-hop, and island-themed drinks, right next to a storied Jamaican take-out joint - so many things happening at the Flatbush Zombie House I can hardly make sense of it all. See for yourself on the vid below:

Every time I peek in (theQ don't drink so a peek is how I roll) it seems great. The crowd reflects the full range of neighborhood flavor, though (of course) skewing to the young, professional side. Drinks ain't cheap, even in dimly lit bars anymore. Hip, not trying too hard. Great reviews on the Online. Seems like a winner to me.

I'll be you're wondering what THE Q always thought would be a winner, and I'm sure you were. Check this out - I call it Chuck E Cheese After-Hours. You take that Chuck E Cheese at the Atlantic Mall, and once the kids stream out around 8pm you turn it into the wackiest club ever. Dance music, even live music (they have a stage after all), heavy bands etc. Maybe partner with the Chucky film franchise for a real chilly Halloween vibe.



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

New Coffee Shop Opens and The Q's Guide To Gentlemanly Behaviour

Since this is ostensibly a blog about the neighborhood, just let me note that a cute little coffee shop and kids clothes store opened on the west side of Flatbush between Parkside and Beekman, 696 to be exact. Called "Loud Baby." Love it! And a restaurant is going to move into 626 Flatbush's other retail space - that should put a lot of rumors to rest, though still not sure what sort of place. Methinks bourgie to go with the tower, but methinks wrong sometimes. Speaking of...

It has come to the Q's attention of late that many male titans of arts, politics & industry regularly read The Q at Parkside (too many to list, I'm afraid. too too many...) It has also come to the Q's attention that many of these powerful men (and they are nearly all men, let's admit) have allowed their God-given sexual appetites to cloud their moral vision. Any man of sound mind should understand the difference between consent and non-consent, and yet these very "sane" men often claim that they were engaging in consensual behaviour - over years and years and dozens of occasions -- only to find that "whoops," they're knee-deep in legal and professional scandal. My guess is that most of them loosened their definitions of consent over time to meet their fetishes and, receiving no push-back from their colleagues, media or law enforcement, came to the jaundiced conclusion that their behaviour was well within the limits of reasonable, though naughty, behavior. They were just being bold, taking the bull by the horns (so to speak), behaving with rough masculinity, or maybe they even managed to convince themselves that this was all well within the realm of kinky but normal sexual behavior.

So for those of you - ye great men of overflowing passions and enviable success - if you seem befuddled by the outcry, I would like to offer some advice from the heart. The Q is no Lothario or great lady's man, or even a particularly adept suitor. He has, however, mostly handled his personal and carnal affairs with a degree of dignity, and so I offer these few "Q" tips for your edification.

Business is Business: When conducting business, even informal or "after-hours" business, do not attempt to negotiate matters of the flesh. That is to stay - keep your jimmy in its cage. Don't refer to it. Don't engage it. In fact, don't press your luck by going in for anything more than a handshake where warranted. You are in a place of work, even when that place LOOKS like a place of play. If there is a current, past or potential business relationship involved, always err on the professional, the dignified, the gentlemanly.

Why? It is illegal, unseemly and abusive to use your professional standing to push your advantage sexually. That's it! Simple. Doesn't matter if you're a Senator or Manager of a Burger King. No sex, or even flirtation. If the woman is interested in pursuing something she will do so, and you will not miss the signs. Promise.

Done? Hardly.

Sex, if you hadn't noticed by your own predilections and histories, is a barely understood and somewhat distant bi-product of reproduction. At best. What turns you on is no one's businesses and anybody's guess, unless you come out and say it (or in frightfully many cases, SHOW it without so much as a warning.) But even the most taboo fetishes are difficult to contain, particularly for men I think. Some are relatively banal - guys who are turned on by this part of the anatomy or another, or tall or short or dark-skinned or platinum blondes or legs or fingers or, I dunno, nostrils. Then there are the somewhat socially acceptable fetishes - positions, activities, orientation, role playing. It gets kinkier of course, but even those things (so I hear) become erotic and playful within consenting situations. Some of them might even LOOK like illegal or inappropriate behavior. But again, the consenting adults have made plans and safe words and maybe even a list of do's and don'ts. Fair enough. Rules within rules.

All of that requires enormously clear communication and trust. And while many of us engage in or say we're fine with "casual" sex, particularly when participants are single, the words "casual" and "clear communication" don't really line up. What's the result? Lots of unwanted "hookups" and awkward, perhaps even demeaning experiences to relay down the road to friends, therapists or fellow inmates. Why, women might ask, would it be so hard for men to remain dignified in the sexual realm, to know how to keep their libidos in check, to recognize the signals accurately and to proceed only when given the clear green light? Ever seen a guy go uber-ape when he IS given the green light? There's your answer. The floodgates unleashed, watch out downstream. Same for women of course. Once the gloves are off, it's a fool's bet to figure what's to come of it.

Not for a minute would I excuse ungentlemenly behavior, in any way shape or form. But I have two young daughters, and I'm not going to leave them in the dark. Men want sex. They are clever animals, but animals nonetheless, with not a particularly noble ancestry. And they have but one primary biological imperative. To say that we have somehow moved beyond that basic animal fact is ludicrous. Try telling a horny teenager to better manage his hormones. Not bloody likely.

If we've decided (or perhaps I should say if we decide FOR REAL) that we want our boys to grow up understanding what's happening to them, sexually, when biology and maybe their buddies are telling them one thing but morality says another...we're going to have to do a hell of a lot better job explaining something that for many of us adults is barely comprehensible. The blind leading the blind; or the libidinally confused leading the pubescently challenged.

Are you, my male reader, fully in charge of your sex drive? If you do you must have an extra special chromosome that I've yet to encounter in the real world. Perhaps you've found a good mitigant - religion or some spiritual practice, some tonic or potion, maybe anti-depressants. Maybe you've been castrated (nothing wrong with that of course!) Or perhaps you've got one of those socially taboo fetishes that have forced you to push it all down, way way down, like so many Catholic priests have done to the detriment of legions of young boys (and girls) again and again and again and again. On some level, I can't believe this conversation hasn't been decided. There are temptations that will leave even the best-intentioned man to wander far from his supposed morals. Unchecked, by power or station, we have Mr. Hydes to contend with.

Biology does NOT favor women in the species when it comes to sexual coercion. Size, patriarchy, testosterone and physical strength conspire, as does the tendency for men to band together with like-minded brothers to reinforce the worst in behaviors. There is no progress without an open dialogue in the home, with boys, with colleagues, about the true power of the sex drive, and like absolute power, its ability to corrupt absolutely.

There are those who will say that these high-profile cases from C.K. to Harvey to Cosby to Trump to Roy "Dick" Moore are about power, not sex. And I will take heat for what I'm about to say next I'm sure. I will say they are about sex first - but that the men are using their power to get the sex. That is, they do what all men do at every station in life. They use whatever tools they have available to convince a woman to have sex with them. Good looks, nice bod, hot car, good sense of humor, good father instincts, good timing, liquor...yes, yes any man who tells the truth will tell you he uses whatever advantage he can find to attract a mate (and I do mean mate in the most carnal sense, as well as the more Victorian rituals of pair-bonding). OF COURSE there are also other aspects of mating that are special and outsized in our species - including love and friendship and a desire for lifelong mating and shared child-rearing. But when sex happens, it happens with a spark that's absolutely insane, counterintuitive, bizarre, and many times far beyond our control. I really don't think we can control the fantasy or the urge, any more than we can control our first thoughts on just a bout anything. We can only seek to choose the right action. But to deny that the urges are there only makes matters worse.

Take Bill Cosby, for example. One of things most people thought and said when they found out that he had essentially been a roofy rapist for years was...gee whiz, the guy is rich and famous and funny. He could have any girl he wants! Really? Well, what if the sex he wants must allow him to drug his partner and have his way with her? How many women might be turned off by that fact? Sure he could have, and probably DID have sex with lots of ladies consensually. But that's not what consumed him (of course I don't know this for a fact; this is conjecture). What drove him crazy to the point of acting out was immoral and illegal, and unlike homesexuality (which was and in some places IS both of those things) I don't see society deciding that roofie rape is suddenly hunky dory. There are probably tens of thousands of Bill Cosby's out there. To think otherwise is foolish. He had the enablers and resources to get away with it for longer than most. But I doubt his predatory predilection is that much different than the average necrophiliac, the pedophile, the person with desire for beasts or family members or any other horrendous sexual deviation that seems to happen in hundreds of thousands or who knows how many people worldwide. You can't lock them all up for their thoughts. You have to figure out how to prevent the acting-out in the first place.

How do we change a culture that encourages, or at least doesn't DIScourage, coercive sex? I don't know to be honest. But it will involve vigilant reporting and authority figures empowered to do something, to SAY something, whenever and however it happens. Men must stand up against other men. Much as I've argued here previously, Trump is WHITE AMERICA'S PROBLEM. He is a symptom of a deep sickness in a fearful and manipulated electorate. 60% of whites voted for the guy. That is ASTONISHING. Take that home to Thanksgiving, and remember to go easy. Screaming at the Trump voting relative is not going to change minds. Appeal to their hearts, to their sense of decency and patriotism. And if that doesn't work, kick them hard and fast in the groin.

It will require all women to recognize they cannot allow a man to get away with the behavior, since not doing so is just kicking it down the hall to the next victim. Women AND men can venerate the truth tellers and castigate the belittlers.

But we also have to tell our boys that they're not sick or immoral for having the fantasies or urges to control women or worse. We have to differentiate between fantasty and reality, and build empathy for those who are vulnerable as an opportunity to own our dignity as modern men, men capable of knowing the difference between right and wrong and then acting accordingly. 

Men: cop to your own darkest fears and fantasies about sex. Then relay your strategies for dealing with them. Your son is not weird for his fetishes. But his dignity, and ours, is in danger if he behaves badly to women. It's really that important, and our daughters deserve it.

Every victim deserves our attention. Every son is a potential sexual assaulter. Let's see that it's not ours, because ours is ALL of ours.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Friday, November 10, 2017

Judge Rules Against Alicia Boyd, Bigly

Attending a community meeting at which attacktivist Alicia Boyd is shouting and preening is a bit like enduring an un-anaesthetized tooth pulling, minus the relief afterwards. Especially if you're expected to attend, as a member of a committee or community board, to muscle through it without overreaction.  The Q has resolved to keep his Boyd-induced headaches to a minimum in the future. However, unbridled by Board membership, I will allow myself to let loose a roar of my own from time to time. I find her most enduring when she's calling me a fat white fuck, or FWF for short.

Because he has found her behavior so endlessly compelling, the Q kept you abreast of the self-taught lawsuits that brought the board to its knees, and caused not one, not two, but three chairs to step down. Not to mention the bitter firing of its longtime district manager, and the utter chaos that kept the neighborhood from engaging with the Dept of City Planning on a Zoning Study. (So glad we dodged THAT bullet! It's not like development isn't proceeding full-speed-ahead. Except for Empire, which remains incredibly dumpy considering a booming economy and full-fledge housing crisis. Ouch. I think I just felt my tooth hurting again...)

As I've said before, if you want a copy of the full ruling just email me. I've read the whole thing and here's the summary:

Boyd and Janine Nichols wanted the letter that was drafted to City Planning to be nullified because it was drafted "in secret." The judge said it was not drafted in secret. In fact, I was at the open-to-the-public meeting where we discussed it and voted on it.  A first draft had gone around to committee members by email, if that's what was bugging her. And no, she was not cc'd. What a shitshow that woulda been. The meeting she referred to ended in chaos, and accusations of violence, and the arresting of Ms. Boyd who took a table down with her while kicking cops. It was a tour-de-force performance, and you can see it on the youtube. It's quality reality TV.

Regarding that fateful meeting, the judge says we were well within our rights to request the study at all. And he said that the board must only take action at an open meeting, not that every meeting needs be open, though they generally always are. He also upheld the board's right to restrict non-board or community-member participation, but not attendance, at committee meetings, other than in matters involving privacy concerns or personnel issues or both. (In other words, sit down and shut up, Boyd. Or you'll be dragged out by your ankles. You can't just create a ruckus and stop people from debating issues in a civilized tone.)

The judge said Boyd's opposition to a Planning Study was understandable but that doesn't mean she can hijack the process as set forth in the City Charter. He acknowledged former City Planner and anti-DCP activist Tom Angotti's affidavit made potentially valid points, but it's not the judicial systems place to litigate matters that are clearly for legislative consideration. The spirit and letter of the ULURP process had been followed. So no-go on that one either.

Boyd and Nichols claimed Board members were placed illegally. They didn't provide proof that BP Eric Adams put more than his share of people on the Board all at once, thereby destabilizing it and making it possible for Boyd to bring it to its knees. Actually, it's longtime Adams deputy Ingrid Gordon who made THAT mess, but it's besides the point. The members appointed were all qualified and the City Councilmembers themselves didn't object (in fact, remember that guy Mathieu Eugene? He appointed me...not once but twice. Think he looked at the list? Hah! Not bloody likely. The dude hates me like vampires hate garlic. That's more proof than anything else right there.) Also neither the BP or Gordon were named in the suit, so that point was moot.

B&N wanted to nullify sections of CB9's by-laws that allow the committee chairs and overall board chair to appoint non-board community members to committees. Actually, it's people like Boyd and her followers that show why the rule is such a good one in the first place. It allows the board to keep them off, while at the same time offering up plenty of seats to people who DON'T disrupt meetings. I know lots of people who serve on committees, myself included now that I'm off the board proper, and there is no litmus test. All that's required is a desire to serve and show up at meetings. Oh, and NOT create a ruckus.

B&N said the board didn't respond to FOIL requests. Yes they did, said the judge.

And finally, and perhaps most importantly, B&N said the public wasn't allowed to speak at meetings as is required. It's actually not required, except on the agenda at the monthly board meetings.

In fact, the public is given ample opportunity, informally. But guess what? If you hurl insults or cause the meeting to stop functioning, you're gonna lose that opportunity. Basically the Board sets its own agenda and policies. The only meeting where the public is REQUIRED to be given an opportunity to speak is at the full Board meeting. And even then, only on the specific agenda items to be voted on. (Personally I find the bitch-and-moan open forum to be a waste of time, since its only used for Board bashing anyway.)

So there you have it. Two years after we tried to initiate a planning study, Boyd gets shut down legally. And it's probably all too late now anyway, so in fact, she wins. That doesn't mean she's going away. Expect more antics and more opportunities for the rest of us to kvetch and groan and keep our distance.

Cunningham to Challenge Eugene Electioneering

Good for him. Let's not get our hopes up about overturned results or sweeping voter reform just yet. But at least the message seems to be getting through...Mathieu Eugene's version of the Kings County Democratic Machine is built like bull dozer. Mathieu had no business being in ANY polling place where he wasn't voting. His supporters were not to be within a 100 feet of any precinct. Poll workers were only to respond to questions about the ballot, not instruct voters how to vote straight down the party line.

This from City Limits, says Cunningham is now planning to challenge the election formally. In the story you'll hear how hapless poll captains had no formal training on how to deal with complaints. Of course not - they're being chosen and paid by politicians, and they're far from neutral themselves. I heard a full on political argument happening between workers at PS92. They shouldn't even be talking about candidates at all. That said, an election is hard to get exactly right. For shits and giggles I tried signing my name in a completely different way, all loops, just initials. Not so much as a second look.

The Election Day antics all point to but one conclusion. Eugene's a fool. Why would one take a chance at all of breaking the law? He was the Democratic Party candidate in a district of Democrats - basically a shoo-in. Foolish. Reckless. And even if a judge rules no reason for a do-over, it's sad for the neighborhood and City that so many people have had their faith thrashed when it comes to voting and politicians. Then the Man goes and thanks God for his blessings? Oof. If you're gonna cheat you should at least own it.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Moving On - The Parkside Plaza Wants YOU Tomorrow

Come nurse your wounds and hang with the real "winners." The beloved Parkside Plaza Committee!!

Disappointed? Sure. But Not Demoralized.

Brian was a great candidate, particularly, the Q thought, this second time out. He exuded a new confidence, unafraid of speaking frankly about his opponent's shocking misgivings. But no, you don't dislodge a 10-year incumbent by just being the better candidate and campaigning fiercely. You're going against every last Eugene supporter that he's cultivated through the past years, and the stubborn willingness of voters to vote Democrat without pause. Veterans of previous campaigns privately confided they felt it was an outside chance at best. Roughly 60/40 numbers for the councilman, in all. And yet, it's hard to discount the feeling that the election was stolen, not least because of ME's shady electioneering. More on that from our good friends at Bklnr., replete with gotcha pictures.

Just remember though...nothing's changed. The district didn't get a lift, but neither was it dealt a death blow. I've been involved in community and political affairs in Flatbush for precisely as long as Mathieu has been in office. I was duped into thing that he was more than just smiles and cheap suits, and that he would be able to bridge the chasm between the many wonderful Haitians living in the community and the old-timers and newcomers of various stripes to address issues common to us all. Sure we knew he would be a beacon of hope and a champion (in front of the camera at least) of Haitian immigrant rights and TPS. But we never imagined he would be so absent, so vacuous and so uninvolved on a personal level with the needs of the neighborhood's wildly diverse residents. He leads on nothing. He follows through on nothing. He is, in essence, a nothing entity, at least for the majority of us. Let's just hope he isn't grooming a successor!

And so it goes, and so it goes. Imagine being a liberal Democrat in deeply red and regressive Alabama - it can't feel good to be so misrepresented in government. At least OUR guy is too inconsequential to do lasting damage. Politically, sometimes it feels like you're a fish out of water, unable to swim with the big fish (like tunas Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander and even Laurie Cumbo), In four years, we'll have our chance. And in the meantime, don't let the Councilman forget whom he's supposed to serve - everyone. That is, if you see him. I suspect we'll see even less of him now that he's a lame duck. Emphasis on the lame.
Is that the face of an innocent man? (from Bklyner.)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Welcome To the Undemocratic Democratic Republic of Flatbush

If you're new to the area, you can be forgiven for being shocked. Elections around here aren't an exact science - more like an approximation with a pinch of strong-arm. Our leaders and judges are pretty much chosen for us by current elected officials and the Kings County party. The somewhat Honorable Yvette Clarke can be blamed for choosing Mathieu Eugene as her successor. I guess she and her mom Una felt he'd sew up the Haitian vote from thence til kingdom come. And for 10 years at least that's been true. (Who knows, maybe kingdom will come in the next couple years, proving me right?)

Voting irregularities abound today, much as they do every election. This time, Eugene is running scared, and word is he's PISSED to have to electioneer at all. Much like elections in banana republics, or Oil-istocracies or just about anywhere in the world this is kinda what democracy looks like when the incumbent doesn't want to lose. Eugene showed up at polling places to glad-hand, his "volunteers" are pushy and pushing past the 100 yard zone around precincts. Some confused voters are being misled about how the ballot works - some even told to vote the straight Democratic line. Business as usual.

If you come from somewhere small-town, university town or suburban, perhaps this all seems a bit nutso - the thug tactics, patronage, paying people to intimidate, refusing to shake the hand of your opponent. Welcome to Brooklyn! Even our elections are, um, artisinal!

Keep an eye out. Alert polling captains of any infringement of rules. Take pictures. Report to the AG and BoE. And if the election is super close, expect a legal challenge.

Check out this hilarious defense from Adam Ullian of Eugene's office, as quoted in Patch, in classic Spicer/Huckabee form:

Adam Ullian, who works on the Eugene campaign, told Patch that Eugene was at the polls because he had been told that Cunningham was at the polls earlier in the day. Ullian said Eugene wanted to make sure the poll workers and election officers knew that wasn't allowed.

"That was his intent. Not because he wanted to break the campaign rules," Ullian said. "The intent was to let them know that, hey, he's not supposed to be there."

If You Don't Vote Today, You Lose Your Right To Complain!

Just trying out a new tactic for you naysayers out there.

Look, it's been an uphill battle to unseat the 10-year incumbent, the thuggish, nasty, arrogant, no-show, ignorant, impotent, incompetent, laughing stock of the City Council - "Dr." Mathieu Eugene. It's outrageous that he's lasted this long, but that's the power of incumbency. The good "doctor's" henchmen our out on the streets carrying signs and the candidate himself has been seen illegally electioneering in polling stations where he isn't even registered to vote (according to eyewitnesses - not independently confirmed). One of his placard-bearing soldiers told me he wasn't even being paid (others were of course). Really? Actually campaigning out of the goodness of your heart? Dang. And I thought America had fallen to pieces. You give me hope, young brainwashed Democrat!

Even if you do mistakenly vote for Eugene, you get to complain. I voted for him 10 years ago and I've been complaining ever since! Take a few minutes to educate yourself on this race, and maybe the ConCon proposal on the back of the ballot. (I voted yes, but there are those who swear it would lead to a stripping away of environmental and labor protections, to which I say that's fear-mongering and in fact, it could be argued, the proposals sent back to voters could provide MORE of such protections, and do so in a more democratic manner. But to each his/her own. Fear or Bravery, IMO.

Just vote. In the Q's opinion, massive voter turnout now and in the future is the only true protection we have against the Mathieu Eugenes and Donald Trumps and Roy Moores of the world. Regressive Populism can only be defeated with Progressive Big Big Numbers - in other words, Populism with Popularity. We the people, indeed. Makes an old lefty like the Q misty with patriotism, if not for the now, for the future.

Vote Cunningham.

Just a bit of day-of campaigning from the dictator at PS249

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Post-Debate Eugene Refuses To Shake Cunningham's Hand

Brian Cunningham crushed do-nada incumbent Mathieu Eugene tonight in a debate 48 hours before the Election Day polls close. The moderator's questions were solid, the event marred by raucous vapid applause from Eugene's small but loud gaggle of minions. But after final comments, Eugene blasted debate host (not moderator, host) Duane Joseph for being a biased moderator, a Cunningham surrogate. Craaaazy, y'all. Duane merely welcomed the crowd and ran the p.a. Why would you piick on the Gentle Giant? And if that weren't bad enough, Eugene refused to shake his opponent's hand, or as a rascally pundit noted, he went all-in with the Papa Doc optics (hey, I didn't say it, but he was posturing like a dictator). As in seriously, check this shit out:

For a more professional and unbiased account of the debate, check out this from your good friends at BKLYNER. Needless to say, many folks were shocked by Eugene's and his supporter's antics.

The basics of the debate went something like this. Solid question, solid answer from Cunningham, meandering pandering nonsense about "we must work together" and "I have been fighting hard" and then even a few lies like "my office is number 1 in constituents served" and perhaps the strangest answer to "are you pro-choice?" I think you could possibly concoct. I'm still trying to make sense of it.

Eugene was responding to the fact that Planned Parenthood refused to endorse him, because he hadn't come out against Pro-Life fake family planning clinics - abstaining in fact. Eugene talked about having delivered many babies (though he's lived in the U.S. for decades and never practiced here) and how when a mother is giving birth and is given the option save her life or her baby's, it is a very personal decision and she must make it, and of course she chooses the baby. You could almost see an entire roomful of people straining to figure out what the hell he was saying. But wait a a doctor isn't he SUPPOSED to save the mother's life? And how often does one even have time or inclination to present a mother with such a Sophie's Choice? I mean, is he just totally making this shit up??? I'm not even sure he answered the question at all, at least not as it was asked. So very, very strange. And whenever he equivocates, his accent gets suddenly WAY thicker, like he's purposely trying to be misunderstood (not mocking his accent here - but I've noticed this over the 10 years that he mumbles when hoping not to be heard). But seriously...what the fuck was he saying about life of mother/baby scenarios?? It's actually haunting me.

And even if the debate hadn't been so laughably Cunningham's victory, this next picture tells you all you need to know about whom to vote for on Tuesday. End of the night, after Eugene has long since left with his disrespectful supporters (I particularly like the Eugene groupie/staffer Soumia Chraibi who gave me the finger while calling ME out for booing his rejection of a handshake - classy!). BC spent the remainder of the eve taking questions from everyone who wanted a moment of his time; then Cunningham helped clean up the room.

Don't let this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change the neighborhood's course pass us by. And tell everyone you know.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Two Big Electric Fires - One Night

Came home from work to this happening at (oh god, not again) 60 Clarkson:

According to my pal Vina it was an electrical fire in 6E. She said the lady whose apartment it was is devastated. But nobody - nobody, is surprised by the occurrence of fire. Everyone knew slumlord Barry Hers was doing shitty work in the building and recently folks were complaining of smelling smoke, and not just the cheeby cheeby. To my knowledge no one was hurt, but the street was slammed with people. It's so incredible to see how many people file out of a single NYC apartment building - and this one only has 80-some units.

As I walked through the crowd I spotted a couple reporters. Without deaths, this fire wasn't going to make the 11 o'clock news I figured. But I'll bet Rachel Holliday-Smith will be here! You know, the intrepid local reporter for DNA Info that I link to three or so times a week? Except...I can't anymore. In fact, all those links are currently dead. Because...well, read for yourself.

Rachel's smart. She can write. She'll find another job and she'll nail that one too. But we just lost two of the most outstanding hyper-local news sources ever - DNA and Gothamist. After I started digging into the 60 Clarkson saga it was Nathan Tempey of Gothamist who really started to make the connections and nail the S.O.B. He was going longform on the story, and many others. These two reporters were among the young guns that you count on to make the Kleptocracy almost resemble Democracy. And with one fell swoop, billionaire Joe Rickets tossed 'em all out. Fact is, only billionaires can afford to run news organizations anymore. (maybe that's just the cost-of-living - it's always been a rich man's sport hasn't it Roop?). And Rickets wasn't doing it for his love of journalism. He saw a way to harness hyper-local advertising. But the fact is, we don't want to pay for content, do we? Like pretty much everything else, we feel entitled. Entitled to good journalism, good TV, free parking and regular trash collection that hauls our plastic and uneaten meat to the dump.

I'm going to eat a Halloween $100,000 bar and rue the day. THIS day. The one where two very different but somehow deeply related Electrical Fires hit home.

An Actual Debate! Check It Out on Sunday 4pm

Hard to believe it'll come off as advertised. But it will be great to see the candidates confront each other up close and personal.

Folks, this race is going to be a lot closer than anyone imagined...

Unwarranted Self-Promotion (no, not from him)

The Q has spent most of his adult life (and a good deal of his pre and post adult life) making music. Writing songs. Playing in bands, you know the drill. I can see in retrospect that there have been two complementary  tracks - one experimental and outrageous, the other poppy to the hilt. Both reside in the rock, skronk and folky veins. One, Babe the blue OX, happens to include two other Lefferts residents (actually ON Lefferts, as a matter of fact), while the bassist singer Rose lives in Kensington).

After a semi-successful run in the 1990's on Homestead and then RCA records, the Q (then known as Timothy James Thomas - his coming-out as the Q was but a twinkling in the groin) turned back to the straight-up rock and pop stylings of his youth. Then he briefly stopped making music to sober up, returning with a vengeance with music made in basements and crummy bars. The Babe continues, and the flame re-emerges every so often in the forms of nostalgia and melancholy. It must be noted, without boast, that the Q can still play the hell out of his Telecaster. You can fool a Strat, but you can't fool a Tele. If you know what that means, you must play at least a wee bit yourself.

Two super-long career-spanning records of material are now available to be freely streamed and cheaply purchased. And they're in alpha order, because who wants to decide what works and what doesn't? I've never had a clue. I'm stunned to see that I somehow managed to pen more than 100 songs that I actually still want to hear. The rest have been scrapped, but even they remind me of moments and emotions that have since faded into wistful, sometimes painful, memory. But like Poloroids in a shoe box, I can't help but be moved that we humans still have a desire to communicate in ways that language alone fails.

Here they are. Enjoy or scoff. They are now free to roam.

always an inspiration

always an inspiration

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Complacency Could Still Put Mathieu Eugene Back In City Council

It's Sad with a capital sssssssss to think that do-nothing, non-responsive, disinterested and uninformed City Councilperson Mathieu Eugene might just win a final four year term representing most of Flatbush. It is an indictment of us all to think that matters of urgency to us would mean so little to so many voters that they'd either care to ignore 10 years of negligent representation or forgo voting altogether.

Shame on us if he wins again. I know no person serious about politics who has even one good reason to vote for the man; yet he will come away with between 5,000 and 8,000 votes just by being a smiling man from Haiti who throws money at a few churches and hospitals. Money which, it should be said, is called "discretionary" because he doesn't actually have to work for it or champion these projects - he just gives it away like Santa. And to put even THAT in perspective, after more years in office than almost anyone on the Council, he gets the third fewest dollars. He's a joke on the council, he's a joke in the neighborhood, and like our president he likes to claim responsibility for little victories he had nothing to do with. Don't let him get away with it...again.

That's why it was heartening to see the Queen of Brooklyn Blogs (QBB) Liena Zagare tell it like it is about Eugene's anemic performance getting one measly stoplight installed over on Coney Island Avenue.

Liena's assessment here in BKLYNER. 

Mathieu Eugene: Always Happy To Take Credit For Things He Didn't Do Or Even Care About

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Diana Richardson Weighs In On Cunningham/Eugene Race Next Tuesday

Somehow this pic captures DeeRich perfectly
From your tell-it-like-it-is neighbor Diana Richardson, your State assembly-person, whose candor is always welcome in the Q's book. I urge you to read this, remembering that is highly, highly uncommon for a sitting elected official to come out against an incumbent in another office, as incumbents usually win and having to work with someone you worked to defeat is, to put it mildly, a tad uncomfortable and a smidge prickly. carefully! Particularly if you voted for Pia Raymond, an honorable candidate from the Democratic primary who is not on the ballot this time around. Brian is, on the sneaky upstart Reform line.

Greetings PLG:
I feel as your N.Y. State Assembly Member that it is time for me to speak to you personally regarding the District 40 Elections.
  1. I have heard the echos for the need for new leadership in the CD which has a underlay in my AD.
  2. After looking at the election data (Please note I stated data so this is not an emotional statement): PLG SPLIT their vote totally. When you look at PLG as a whole but especially in the Manor, the votes went to Raymond and Cunningham evenly.
  3. I totally understand the split because many of the candidates are good and hard working and to be honest I know them ALL personally (everyone who ran) (One of the reasons I did not get involved and let the community make their own decisions)
  4. Now that the Sept results are in there is only 1 option for change: 1) Vote for the Incumbent Mathieu Eugene or 2) Vote for Brian Cunningham on the Reform line. I have watched many discussions with my name in it as far a party lines go. Let me be the first to tell you that a party line is just that: A Party Line. Did you know WFP endorsed me at 7pm the night before the 12pm deadline to get a party line? Yes, I almost didn't have that line. I created my own line "Now is the time" I was going to run on that line and the Green Party Line. (You can Google the Green Party story) - Had I not obtained the WFP line those 2 lines is where my name would have appeared. 
  5. I recently saw a post where some one suggested "writing in additional names on the ballot when voting". I STRONGLY stand against  the write in of any names because that WILL NOT get you to the end result of the change that you desire.
  6. I know it's difficult when the candidate we support does not win. I have personally been on the end of losing and I know how painful it is.(trust me unless you have run for public office and lost PUBLICLY you don't know how bad it really hurts🙈) HOWEVER- we can't let our emotions cloud logic. This is a number games. 
  7. Again, I've looked at the numbers, if unified again if unified PLG WILL make the difference in this race.
  8. It is not enough to ppst online and engage in back an forth discussion. I am asking everyone to volunteer for they change they seek. Here are some things for you to consider doing. A) Knock on the doors of your neighbors to talk about the candidiate you support B) Make phone calls (aka phone banking) C) Put up a poster in your residential window, lawn or business D) Ask the local businesses you patronize to put up posters and assist them with doing so E) Make a list of 10 ppl and call to  remind them to vote on E-day.
  9. My personal statement - I have more going on internally than you can imagine. In the face of everything I feel that I represented the 43rd AD fully. I can not personally wrap my hands on this race. However, as your elected official if you take the advice I've written above you will have a fighting chance on Nov 7th.
  10. Everyone in this room is capabale of making decisions and I respect that. Note I never told you how to vote. But given the facts I think you know what to do.
- Diana Richardson

Monday, October 30, 2017

Skyscrapers To Replace Spice Factory

What defines a skyscraper? These days you have to top 60 stories or more, but back in the 19th century 15 or 20 would do. Heck in the musical Oklahoma! Will sings of a skyscraper 7 stories high - "about as tall as a building ought to grow!" This before confronting Ado Annie, who by her own admission was a girl who "cain't say no." To a Persian peddler no less! It's a scandal! It's an outrage!! God bless the Great American Musical, the most utterly optimistic of all forms of artistic expression...

The Q gets no great pleasure from saying he told you so. But here we are. The Wall Street Journal reports that builder bigwig Bruce Eichner claims to have found the money for a half billion dollar project to replace the Spice Factory and environs just above Lefferts on Franklin near the Botanic Garden with 25-35 story towers - four in all - that would surely create the appearance of a skyscraper city just to the east of the BBG, since Tivoli Towers and Ebbets already loom over the area.

Remember the outcry when Borough President Eric Adams suggested buildings near Empire that topped out at 10 or 12 stories in exchange for inner-block protections in the area? That reasonable sounding approach to development led to the outright demolishing of the Community Board by local attacktivists and a wholesale fight for the survival of McDonalds and Storage Marts, which are seemingly more precious than housing for humans. The irony is thick as muck. Because this project will involve large numbers of below-market apartments, I suspect the City under De Bloz will find this project very appealing. Will Laurie Cumbo agree? Remains to be seen. The Q suspects this will go through with room to spare.

The below write-up is from the Journal's Peter Grant, and reprinted with the assumed permission of Rupert Murdoch, a close personal friend who plays bass on the Q's latest album "Oligarchia." He's no Geddy Lee, but neither is Geddy Lee these days. Nice poppin' though, Roop!

Veteran developer Ian Bruce Eichner, who has hit numerous highs and lows in his 40-year career in real estate, has taken a big step toward his latest dream: a $500 million, 1.2 million-square-foot residential project in Crown Heights that would set aside half of its units as affordable housing.
Mr. Eichner has a tentative deal to obtain construction financing for the project from the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, he said, which is a mutual fund that invests for union pension funds. As part of the deal, the project would only use union workers, a major goal for organized labor in a city that is losing its status as a union town.
Mr. Eichner, who is partnering on the project with Lincoln Equities Group, said the venture is “about 10 days away” from closing on a deal to pay about $75 million for the land, which consists of about 3 acres at Franklin Avenue and Montgomery Street. The venture wants to build four buildings that would range in number of floors “from mid-20s to the mid-30s,” said Mr. Eichner, who heads Continuum Co.
The venture has begun talks with the city planning department to begin a rezoning process that would enable it to build that high. Part of the plan would be to earmark about 800 units for below-market rents, which would make the development one of the city’s largest such affordable projects on private land.
“We’re seeking an up-zoning, assuming this is something the city wants,” Mr. Eichner said. “Early indications from the local elected officials are that this is exactly what they want to see.” A Planning Department spokeswoman said the department hasn’t yet received a formal application for the project.
The project will still be scrutinized by the local community board, which has been tough on developers in the past. Mr. Eichner said he is planning a “robust” effort to include the community in terms of recruiting workers and tenants for the project. The deal marks the latest sign that the Brooklyn development juggernaut is continuing even as New York’s rental market is softening. If all goes well, the Continuum-Lincoln venture would break ground in the first quarter of 2019, Mr. Eichner said.
The development would mark the latest chapter in Mr. Eichner’s eventful career as a real-estate developer, which began in Park Slope, Brooklyn, during the 1970s. By the late 1980s, he was developing Manhattan skyscrapers but several of his projects—including CitySpire and the office tower at 1540 Broadway—ran into financial problems during the real estate crash of the early 1990s.
Mr. Eichner rebounded. In the real estate boom leading up to the 2008 crash, he developed the giant Cosmopolitan Resort Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. That project ran into trouble after the crash and was eventually taken over by its lender, Deutsche Bank AG .
In the most recent recovery, Mr. Eichner’s biggest project has been the luxury condominium at 45 East 22nd St. named Madison Square Park Tower. About 75 of the units have sold, with about 20 left, Mr. Eichner said. Median rents in Brooklyn rose to $2,460 a month in the third quarter of this year, up 0.6% from the third quarter of 2016, according to That marked the slowest growth rate since 2011, StreetEasy said.
The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, which has about $6.1 billion in assets under management, invests for about 400 union pension funds. If the deal being negotiated is finalized, the developers will likely do a bond financing through the New York Housing Development Corp. and the trust would buy the bonds, Mr. Eichner said. The trust only invests in projects that use 100% union labor. Lately nonunion shops have been doing more construction work in New York.
The Crown Heights project would counter that trend. “There’s obviously an awful lot of private residential work in the last few years that has gone nonunion,” Mr. Eichner said. Theodore Chandler, the chief operating officer of the trust, confirmed it had given the venture a “letter of interest” to provide financing for the Crown Heights project with the amount to be determined. “We’re very much looking forward to potentially being a part of the financing.”

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cunningham for Council - Vote Nov 7

He's running a bold campaign outside the broken Kings County Democratic Party machine. Despite running on the obscure Reform Party line (the only way he could get on the ballot), this lifelong Democrat got more endorsments than the 10-year incumbent. Planned Parenthood considers him the Pro-choice candidate. Think about that - how hard you got to work to not get the endorsement of Planned Parenthood when you're the only Dem on the ticket. Eugene is a joke and a stain on on the neighborhood. Give the new guy a chance. We'll hold him accountable - this is no blank check. We've been rudderless for too long. Plus, he has a beard.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Alicia Boyd and Lorraine Thomas Claim Victory Against...You

Short version. Your community attacktivists Alicia Boyd (she of MTOPP) and Lorraine Thomas (the MTOPP mole actually ON the Board) are claiming victory over your Community Board, which is essentially like claiming victory over YOU. Because your CB9 is comprised of 50 of your neighbors, who have been held hostage and bludgeoned by Boyd and company for the better part of three years, often unable to accomplish even the simplest of tasks as mandated by the city charter. If there is an H Train to Hell, I suspect Boyd, Thomas and (others I shan't name since they aren't, by law, public figures), commute on it regularly, consulting with their ruddy deity on how best to thwart the good intentions of their neighbors. On this diabolical but reliable subway line they are guaranteed a seat, because even when one is not available they forcibly remove all pregnant and disabled passengers in order make room for their smug comfort.
Alicia Boyd in action; yours truly checking his phone while showering in her spit.
Background: MTOPP filed a suit over a year ago claiming the hiring of new District Manager Carmen Martinez did not conform to the letter of the law. This was after MTOPP managed to lead the charges against the former DM Pearl Miles. MTOPP's constant attacks and lawsuits against her and former Chair Jacob Goldstein got both of them canned, basically for little to nothing at all. Eric Adams didn't help, by replacing half the Board in the middle of the ruckus. MTOPP harassed the  board chair Dwayne Nicholson into resigning, then chair Demetrius Lawrence into resigning, and hasn't let up against the latest chair Musa Moore.

And now they claim victory, having "won" the removal of Carmen Martinez, who by all accounts has been doing a terrific job running the office. Regardless of how you feel about the various people involved, or how they were hired, or the machine behind the puppetry. Mizzes Boyd and Thomas and some truly mean-spirited others have torn your one City-mandated representative body to shreds. Boyd is clearly deranged, but she's no dummy. Were she on the side of justice and all that is right, I dare say she'd be a hero. As it is, she's a goat, an unruly goat at that. ready to "Keep Empire Blvd Shitty" to the detriment of all that is good and possible vis a vis le Great Experiment known as New York City.

What is a Community Board? To hear the critics rail, you'd think it was a bunch of faceless, corrupt bureaucrats out to take away your civil rights and force you to endure unwanted changes and development in your precious neighborhood.

Don't believe the hype.

Your CB9 is a bunch of your neighbors. Period. They come from all walks of life, and they're generally lifelong committed and engaged citizens looking to make sure their nabe gets its fair share of city attention and services. That's it. It has very little actual power. BUT, a well-functioning board is well-situated to advise the city on matters of importance. When it is respected by city officials, for its willingness to work with city objectives and personnel AND for its well-reasoned and well-organized operations, shit gets done. Look no further than CB6 across the park. Park Slope gets the job done. It's safer, cleaner, better responded to than "our" side. It's CB meetings are efficient models of hyper-local democracy. Sure things get heated sometimes. But the City listens, and the City abides.

Ms. Boyd, I hope that your next ride on the H-Train is one-way, and that your metrocard privileges are revoked. You have ripped the guts out of the body politic in Lefferts/CrownHeights, and yet somehow you claim victory. Even the judgement itself shows how hollow were your howls. Back to square one, for both board and neighborhood. The waste of time and effort knows no bounds.

(if you're the sort that likes to see the full rendering of court case and verdict, shoot me an email and I'll send you a copy)

Parents Of Wee Ones - Check Out This Playschool!

The Q loves, loves, loves the term "playschool." To me, that's what it's all about, and doesn't try to overstate the goal. A teensy bit of school, a lot of play, a chance for mom and dad to do their thing while the toddler gets a bit of the social thing happening. I would argue that at 51 it's still my ideal scenario, and we don't get nearly enough of it!

From a friend whom we (the royal WE) trust comes a recommendation for just sort of sitch right here in the 'hood. A HoodSitch, as I like to call it. Below is the info. (Maybe you're not ready or situated to commit to something like the more expensive, tres pro and it must be said lovely Maple Street School, of which the Q and Mrs. Q were satisfied clients before it went all uppity at 626 - the classrooms there are top notch by the way, so I'm by no means dissing MSS, quite the opposite. But each parent has her own needs. I love the look of Rutland.)

Monday, October 23, 2017

Halloween - Look No Further Than Home For Trick or Treatin'

What, you thought I was joking? Ladies and Gentlemen, Sia joins Applejack and Pinky Pie
Safe, sweet, and full of sweets, the local "safe walk" organized by the 71st precinct is quite simply the great secret of Brooklyn Halloween fun. Along the beautiful blocks of Lefferts Manor, you'll see many a neighbor decked out in the latest costumes. Who will go as Harvey Weinstein? Congresswoman Fredrica Wilson? Post-Fatwa Larry David? My girls both wanted to go as Sia, and a fight ensued. Thank GOD there's now a Sia Pony from the My Little Pony movie. One can be real Sia, one can be Pony Sia! Bless the marketing departments!!!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Tomorrow Oct 21: 3:30 pm. Let's Help Brian Cunningham Skewer the Lame Duck

It's time to get serious, y'all. Just a half-hour or hour of your time is required. Bring the whole family. Organized by a passionate neighbor, this event gives you a chance to meet the only hope we have that the next four years aren't as lame as the last 10. Let's get rid of the worst Councilman in NYC and replace him with a capable challenger, who managed to get his name on the Reform Party line for just this opportunity. Ironically, if elected, he'll be more of a Democrat than a certain State Senator around here who likes to tie his pony to the Republican hitch up in Albany. (Jesse, they're coming to get you!) So get on out there and vote for a true Democrat! (er, but on the Reform line).

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why Brian Cunningham Has A Chance In Hell

Good news for those who think Mathieu Eugene deserves only one vote (his own, that is if he hasn't switched his residence back to Canarsie where he mostly sleeps) in the upcoming November general election.  The Working Families Party, which notably refused to endorse Eugene as it has in the past, has come out in favor of his opponent , one Brian Cunningham, on the mysterious yet beguiling Reform line. That's big news to followers of union politics. The WFP tends to align itself with union interests (put the word "working" in your name and you should expect as much). Will they help sway the powerful local hospital workers unions next month? One can hope so.
This is not Brian Cunningham

When people meet Brian Cunningham, they like Brian Cunningham. Not because of his polish (or because he's Polish - which he's not - he has Jamaican roots). Not because of his beard, which he now sports despite being youthfully handsome without it. (Never vote for someone based on their facial hair. That's how we got stuck with that guy to the right, 21st president Chester Arthur, who, you must remember, gave us this gem: "“If it were not for the reporters, I would tell you the truth.” Hmm. Sounds familiar. He also famously said that his private life was none of our goddam business. Speaking of important political "business," it just occurred to me that Trump might actually be heavier than William Howard Taft. Trump is famous for fudging his weight (who doesn't?), but he's taller than Taft was, and if you look at him in golf clothes he's not just chubby - he's portly. Fat, if you will. I'm thinking he may be the heaviest president on record by the end of his term. First term. Gotta stay positive!

This is Brian Cunningham. And that's his real beard.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Burger Mexicano No Mas

Related to Trump pulling out of NAFTA?
New menu; new chef; new era. 545 Flatbush, where Burger Mexicano once was.

Empire Boulevard Gets A Wee Bit Of Residential

'Member the laundromat at the NE corner of Empire and Rogers? Gonna be "mixed use," which means they're going to get as many rental units as they can out of the outdated zoning. The housing advocate in me has to remind Q readers that this could have been a larger building with 30% or more apartments renting below market (i.e. "affordable"), but NIMBY Attacktivist Alicia Boyd led the call to make sure that wouldn't happen. So...look for some unaffordable units marketed as "luxury." Could be that this leads the way to a slew of development, or...the big money will simply wait til it can build what it wants. Needless to say in the meantime those fast food places are paying the tax bills...

More from your probably-not-so-good-friends at YIMBY.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

PLeGNA Pluggin' Away - Come on Down Oct 16

There's actually no "e" in PLGNA - just giving you a hint as to how to pronounce it. Still not quite as good a name as PHLeGNA (Prospect Heights Library Gardens Neighborhood Association) or SMEGNA (Southern Midwood Gardens Neighborhood Association) or MAGMA (Montessori Anthrax Groupon and Metamucil Advocates).

I love the good people of PLGNA and have watched them weather many an outburst from local "attacktivist" Alicia Boyd, including a lawsuit of zero merit meant to intimidate and fluster and destroy. But like Elton John, PLGNA's still standing, and needs your help and expertise to lead the neighborhood at its time of widespread change and unease.

All politics is local, except when it isn't of course. See you Monday!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Risbo - Unique, Charming, Delicious

The Q's no gourmand. Fact is the Q once tried to outsource all my restaurant posts, since I honestly prefer takeout on a park bench to white linen, white wine and white white white. But being a middle-class middle-aged man who doesn't go to bars, socializing is often focused on food, and so one does find oneself from time to time bellying up to a tightly spaced table in order to spend what would have in my youth seemed an OBSCENE amount of money on nicely arranged platefuls of things that taste pretty good but not OBSCENELY good enough to match the outlay. That's why I often order the burger. At least that way I can compare it to all the burgers I've had over the course of my life. And frankly, if you can't do a good burger, why are you even in the restaurant business?

Enter RISBO. No burgers. Great vibe. Terrific layout, outstanding food. A place you want to hang for more than just a meal - maybe stick around and head out to the garden for an after-drink. Just five days into what is sure to be a very successful run, the place is oozing with cool. Not hipster cool a la Billyburg, but real honest-to-goodness-I-can't-place-it-so-it-must-be-foreign cool. European cool. South American cool. French cool, with some Caribbean cool, and a Cosmo-Euro playlist with the music just a tad too loud and yet just right to ensure your conversation doesn't travel. Sorry. I don't want to hear about your love life or problems at work. I really don't. Not that I can't sympathize of course.

Address? 701 Flatbush btw Parkside and Winthrop. I know, right?

The emphasis of cuisine is on carne of various types, but the vegetarian sides and salads are delicious as well. As in really, really good. Garlic good. If you're allergic to garlic you may struggle here. And let's talk about the super sweet ordering style that seems to have caught on Stateside. Order here, pickup there, sit wherever. Not that it feels like a cafeteria. But the kitchen is so central to the proceedings you feel like at any moment chef Boris might ask you to toss him an onion. And you would. It feels communal that way.

The deep menu of yore is replaced by a few items done well. Yesterday I got the sliced lamb and it came with (get this) FIVE sides. Perfectly spiced and complementing one another. And the complementing didn't end there. My entire group of five parents-of-a-certain-age couldn't stop complimenting the owners/staff. A complement of compliments.

Cash only is a bummer, but I'm sure they'll take cards soon. The system is still being worked out. I liked the non-alcoholic offerings, and the winos seemed satisfied with the list. For now you pay and order from the host, then you bring your slip to the bartender. I got some sort of sorrel drink called bissap that was super righteous. I feel very cool having ordered and enjoyed bissap. Bissap.

But what impressed me most was the vibe. Great mixing of cultures and people. Didn't feel too pretentious, even though every detail has been considered. Thumbs up, y'all. Thumbs up.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Are We Little Haiti or Little Caribbean?

Well, like most contentious issues, depends on who you ask. For a summary of arguments, here's a well-drawn opinion of the pro "Little Caribbean argument."

For the Q's part, I only heard a couple weeks ago that founder of CaribBeing - Shelly Worrell - had effectively worked her way through the Labyrinth of Bureaucracy to actually come away with a near unanimously embraced win for the 'hood in terms of increased recognition and maybe even a commercial windfall. Tourism tends to follow such designations, don't you know.

Ah, but then...local NY State Assemblyperson Rodneyse Bichotte smelled something rotten in Kingston, as she claims that plans have been in the works for years to get a Little Haiti designation for the same area - roughly Empire Blvd down to the Junction along Flatbush Avenue. Why not both, say some? Say what, say others? And what's with lumping Haitians and Caribbeans together in the first place? (hint: it's not just about geography, or puerto rico would be in the mix)

The Q first caught wind of this while dying his hair green last weekend, not to be left out of the fun his girls were having going pink and blue. As I waddled off to the Susie Farm cum Flatbush Market, leaving them with shower caps on to speed the bleaching, I ran into gentle bear Duane Joseph and got the whole skinny from him. Upon further examination, it would seem that the issue of whether Haiti is part of or distinct from the culture identified as Caribbean goes back a spell. To be honest, I've often wondered whether the French and English speaking countries might bear some animosity, just from things I've observed and heard through the years, but this seems to confirm that there are lingering resentments that can come into play over seemingly harmless distinctions of neighborhood identity.

Bichotte huffed a letter to the Mayor; a local activist followed with one to Bichotte. The details here.

If your lineage is comes from North of Miami, I highly suggest you do your best to stay out of the kitchen while the frying pot is still scalding hot. And don't even dream of calling the neighborhood Little Hipster.

Update: And just after I suggested that it would be wise for non-Caribbean folks to stay out of the fray, along comes this from KCP's Stephen Witt. It's comedy, for sure, but I'm guessing it'll come back to haunt him. Just a hunch.

There Are Good Reasons To Be A NIMBY

Check out this article from the Guardian.

But don't pretend it's progressive.

That's the conclusion the Q has reached after my years of community upheaval, conversation and activism. (yeah I'm an activist - wanna try me?) The people who shout loudest against the creation of new apartments buildings, even those with affordable set-asides, are the people who claim their Quality of Life will be violated. And they're not necessarily wrong about that. If you moved to a neighborhood with a certain density, a certain cultural or architectural flavor, a certain je ne sais crois, you'd like to think it's gonna stay that way. This despite the fact that no NY neighborhood stays the same for long, unless it's heavily landmarked, and even then the prices of houses just go through the roof, then the stratosphere, then into the record books. Think West Village and Brooklyn Heights and parts of the Upper East Side among a hundred others.

Finally, some folks are starting to realize that you cannot freeze the creation of new buildings and units and at the same time prevent massive displacement. The fact is, displacement has more to do with market forces AND perverse incentives for landlords to be classist and racist AND the inherent unfairness of rent stabilization (you got it or you don't). If, as in San Francisco, you add half a million new jobs but only 50,000 units of housing - yeah, you're gonna have a problem. A big, ugly problem that leads to more homelessness, no place for low-income workers to even aspire to living, and a skewing towards the creation of "luxury" units. Whatever. Either you believe in economics or you don't. That's your choice I suppose. But I'll bet 9 out of 10 of you already own, or have a decent income from which to search for a new place if necessary.

Ten years ago (and counting) I looked at the expanses around Empire Blvd and said to myself, harmlessly enough, "wouldn't this be a great place to build affordable housing for working people?" Now granted, I was pretty naive at the time. I figured progressives like Eric Adams and Tish James would be all over this idea. In fact, as Eric Adams came into office saying "Build Baby Build" I thought he was going to take the idea and run with it. But I saw 626 Flatbush rising and thought "whoa, new housing is great and all, but does it need to be so dang tall?" Then out came the anti-housing activists, as I've now come to see them. They don't want new buildings. "The City is already too dense. Our infrastructure can't handle it. You're stealing my light and air." How about phrase that differently - you, homeowner, are HOGGING the light and air?

None of those problems are insignificant, but with compromise and sufficient funding, they can all be addressed. That's why I so supported a neighborhood planning and zoning study that looked for new places to build affordable housing. It's why I supported Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. It's why I keep championing projects that are all or include large set-asides for means-tested housing. And yeah, we needs lots more PUBLIC HOUSING too. That's what I believe belongs at the Union-Armory project, but no one so far has ponied up the dough. It's there - the will is not.

Ah well. Maybe the City will simply exert its authority over us and do as it so pleases. After all, we gave up what little bargaining power we had when NIMBYists organized to the point of bullying. And as I've always said, there are very good reason to be NIMBY. There are never good reasons to bully, name-call and shut down respectful conversations.

True progressives understand that social progress doesn't happen without one group giving up something to help satisfy the needs of another. It's about levelling the playing field. What have you done lately to help someone find an apartment they can afford? Not just the "poor." But anyone who wants to live in our wonderful neighborhood but just can't quite make the rent?

Lastly, a word about developers. Some are assholes; some are tolerable; some are even forward-thinking. But you could say that about any capitalist industry. What's different is that you equate them with change, the kind you don't like. But guess what - that apartment or house you're living in? The result of a developer, plus the real estate industry and market through the years. My cute little house was consider the ruin of the neighborhood back in the early 20th century - the tract houses of the day.

But I'm no apologist for the development industry. Fact is, though, they're the ones that build stuff, and saying you want them to go away is to say you want the city to stop being a city. You need to work with them, speak their language, cajole with the right kind of incentives and zoning and partnerships. Or, you better just get out of their way. Ultimately they, like YOU, are out to make a buck. If you hate all Developers, then I suspect you also buy no goods from China, have no investments or retirement earnings in the stock market, don't rely on "free" offerings on internet or TV, never shop Amazon, own no cheap clothes etc. Because it's all part of the same web of supply and demand and frankly human suffering. You like McDonalds; I like Shake Shack. You like Sun in Bloom; I like falafel trucks. But thank your lucky stars that (as Tom Petty would say) "you don't have to live like a refugee." Unless of course you're broke without a home, in which case, you pretty much do live like a refugee.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

DIY Recording of Ta-Nehesi Coates Talk

Is it a bootleg if it was just a conversation?

Regardless, the venerable Bard of Brooklyn Blogs - Liena Zagare - was at last night's fully packed Kings Theater conversation between boss and star writer at The Atlantic magazine. If you want to know more about why yours truly had the great pleasure of getting personally scolded by Mr. Coates, go back into the Q archives. I'm not going to do you the favor of a link!

Here's the link to Liena's piece and recording from BKLNR.

Thx Liena!

picture by Dina Rabiner for BKLYNR

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Yo Whitey - Donald Trump Is YOUR Problem

So many rationalizations of the Trump problem being bandied about. It was misogyny! Blue collars didn't come out for the Dem! Russia stole it! Blacks didn't turn out! (Really now. You expected that black voters would rally round a Clinton the way they did Obama? How much more for granted could you take their vote?) It was Sanders! It was Stein! It was Facebook and Google! It was Fox News and Breitbart!! It Not each of us, but it was us. The very folks who've benefited most from white supremacy.

Rarely do I hear anyone taking full responsibility. particularly among "whites." And I ask you, if it makes you uncomfortable to be lumped in with such a large, unruly group, imagine how it must feel to be lumped into equally unruly and wildly diverse groups like "blacks," "Hispanics," Jews, Muslims, Soccer Moms, White Collar Older Men, Red State Middle Class Professionals and others. For better or worse, you, dear Whitey (sorry to segregate this post) are a demographic, a voting bloc, and a big-ass problem in America's present and future. Nearly 60% of you (that's a fact, Monterey Jack) voted for Donald Trump. So don't go blaming anyone but yourselves for a Wicked White House.

The fact is, Trump is but a manifestation of the ugly underbelly of White America, or overbelly really. His politics - so supposedly foreign to we liberal-arts educated elites - are in reality wildly familiar. Donald Trump a/k/a Archie Bunker as Rich Snake Oil Salesman, is a particular sort of relative or family friend. You know him, but you pretend you don't. "How dare he" you say, "sully the Presidency thusly." "He has no decency" we bemoan. "He's patently racist, uncivilized, misogynistic and egad, an unbridled egomaniac!"

Yeah he's all those. But he's merely a bigger-than-life stereotypical version of the American White Male. Entitled, chauvinistic, dismissive, combative, obscenely cocksure. And other Americanisms abound. He's obsessed with image. Prone to fantasy. Ratings driven. Consumerist. Hypocritical. Surrounded by television and echo-chamber politics. He fires at whimsy with fuck-you money to boot. Even THAT he lies about - he's not nearly as rich as pretends, nor as handsome as he feels. He eats greasy junk food - he's fat and thinks he's healthy. Loves his hair and takes meds to grow it. I'm sure he downs Viagara, though he'll never cop to it. Thinks he's an ideal dad. Trusts his "instincts." Is more white supremacist than even white supremacists, because he doesn't have to hide behind radical dogma to believe it, to KNOW it, deep in his being. America reinforces his white supremacy, not so much in its laws but in its judicial nuance and police preference and tax policy.

This man, this PROBLEM, is yours white America. No influx of Puerto Ricans to the mainland, no redistricting or un-gerrymandering or motor-voter laws or "education" or party-switching or gross missteps or political intrigue is going to change that fact. Four in ten Americans, nearly all white, will continue to fight for the right to Trump, either he or another. They will bully and nag and create fake news cycles full of hatred and distrust of liberal whites (they already KNOW the people of color and immigrants will be against them) and they will twist themselves into pretzels proving themselves right, as you prove yourself right on Facebook and the Daily Outrage (sorry, Huffington Post). They're NOT going to change, anymore than your Uncle Frank or Aunt Pat. The only hope is that YOU will help them change, that YOU will marry a black man and bear black children, that YOU will foster a Syrian orphan, that YOU will live like their politics didn't exist all the while respecting their very existence to the point of forgiveness. You won't forgive the hate, but you will forgive them for falling prey to the fear, the fear of the "other," and the fear of failure and irrelevance. And you will convince every last person you can to stand up against the negativity, and vote, but you will never again try to sweep them under the rug or cast them from your awareness.

America, the political state, is gun-crazy and money-obsessed, craven and greedy, fame-fucking and at the same time, somehow, to-date, indestructible. You gotta hand it to the Founders. They wrote a prenup so tight you can't break it, not even by slavery and civil war or foreign wars or culture wars or gender wars. They wrote that document because, I think, whether conscious or not, they knew they couldn't trust you, White America, to do the right thing.

I love you, Whitey, but you've a problem and no, Donald Trump is not it. You're the problem, and Trump has woke you. The question should be what are you going to do about it? Are you really ready to fight for values, or more likely to dismiss Uncle Jack and Aunt Sarah as you always have as painfully old-fashioned and well-meaning but ignorant and misguided? You've been blessed with the benefits of Donald Bunker and Archie Trump's America, but are you willing to change, maybe get a little uncomfortable and a lot more amped? Are you willing to take to the streets with your kids in tow, and show up and pony up for candidates in other states that need your help more than New York City? And instead of simply praising diversity, are you willing to embrace it, truly embrace it, and the people all around you who are more than props in your liberal fantasy?

And perhaps most importantly, will you talk with firm compassion with your Trump-loving brethren, and tell them why you feel the way you do, and how you respect their conscience but disagree with their conclusions. It's easy to condemn, and probably right to do so. But they're your relatives and your legacy and they desperately need attention and convincing, because as the polls and blogs and Fox News keep proving, they ain't going nowhere.

But they, and Trump and his ilk are yours, and without him and his forebears, your world doesn't exist. Think about that - you are living white supremacy even as you denounce it. Ironic isn't it?