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 23, 2017

Let's Get Ready To Rumble - June 5


When Your Bank Says No, Champion Says YES!

Is it all just a game of good-cop bad-cop? Maybe. The City Planning Commission (read: the Mayor) is going forward with the current plans by BFC Partners for the Bedford-Union Armory - they just decided to start the official ULURP process, which does NOT mean a for-certain conclusion. But the battle lines have been drawn. Usually, though not always, the City Council sides with the council person on these matters. T'would be interesting if they didn't in this case, since Laurie has come around to finding the deal insufficiently community controlled. I've discussed the issue ad nauseum, but story keeps giving. It's a terrific metaphor for so many social, political, racial, economic zeitgeist issues.

Maybe my analysis is too grandiose. I think what's really going on is that Laurie Cumbo senses she cannot get re-elected if people feel she has not been sufficiently Lefty on the issue. And by Lefty, I mean Socialist (this is Brooklyn, USA after all). At this moment in political history, it's not enough to be a Democrat. You must defy the very forces of capital and the captains of industry! You must make certain that no one makes any money, even if a few good things might come of it.

Seriously...seriously. That sort of one-up-person-ship as to who is the true progressive - that's what I sense is happening, and not just around the Bedford-Union Armory. In my own life, at the kids' school and work and friendships, I see folks struggling for their very identity in a world turned upside down. It's not okay to side with forces that could be seen as reactionary or pro-business. To do so would be to betray one's liberal bonafides, to side with the Trumpers, to send the country back to its darkest days i.e. last Wednesday. Or was it Thursday?

If you want to know what the Socialist perspective is, why not go to the source? NY Communities for Change is one of the closest organized relatives of the World Workers Party we have going right here in the Windy Apple, as I like to call Brooklyn. Actually I think Brooklyn's outline looks more like an apple than Manhattan, which always struck me as more of a sawed-off shotgun. When I look at the outline of Brooklyn, I actually see the silhouette profile of a bear, sort of a Paddington like fellow, with a funny hat. See how his back leg (bottom right) is in the air, making him look like he's walking leftward? That leg is actually Floyd Bennett Field. And are those little shards of poop coming out of Canarsie, or maybe his backup ruptured sending cheese puffs a-flyin'?


Anyhow, the beef of the matter here is that NYCC is actually deeply involved in the Armory issue, and their participation has shown that the Left, as in the REAL Left, has plenty of kick left in her, not unlike Mrs. O'Leary's cow. It's never too late to set a City on fire, you know.

Here's the latest missive from NYCC, which many of you first encountered as ACORN:

We are not moving forward with the project.”

That’s what Council member Laurie Cumbo said last week about the Bedford Armory deal, but yesterday the City gave the development process the greenlight.1

That means that Mayor de Blasio’s administration will move forward with the project while Laurie Cumbo gets to tell her constituents she’s against this gentrification plan during the election season.

But we can still stop this deal from happening. Laurie Cumbo has the power to finally kill this deal and start over with a new plan for community-controlled, 100% affordable housing at the Bedford Armory.

Tell Council member Laurie Cumbo to stand up to Mayor de Blasio and demand that this project be pulled from the approval pipeline! Call her office at (718) 260-9191.

Laurie Cumbo and the administration are in the middle of playing good cop/bad cop with us, all while leaving Crown Heights stuck with a terrible housing deal.

This is completely unacceptable. Our neighborhoods, homes, and lives are not a game. Laurie Cumbo may say she’s fighting with us, but now she has an opportunity to actually step into the ring and stop this deal from happening.

This deal prioritizes private profit on public land, in a neighborhood that’s facing rapid gentrification and a homelessness crisis. We shouldn’t have to choose between a recreation center and the housing Crown Heights needs.

The only acceptable way forward is to kill the deal and start over under a framework that puts community control front and center. Council member Cumbo should demand that the City stop this process and start over with a deal for 100% affordable housing at the Armory.

Call her office now at (718) 260-9191 and urge her to demand that the City stop the approval process. Click here for a sample script of what to say.

Until we win,

Vaughn Armour
NYCC Member & Crown Heights resident of 16 years
 

Monday, May 22, 2017

War of the Armory


What better place to hold a war than an Armory?

Since the Q's last post, beleaguered councilperson Laurie Cumbo and BP Eric Adams have come out AGAINST the deal to create housing and a rec center from the Bedford-Union Armory. Politics is trumping Cumbo's realism and Adams' "Build Baby Build" rhetoric.

Folks this is a major teaching moment for us all. A relatively small - actually no, an ACTUALLY small - number of residents have struck big fear into elected officials around all manner of development and housing issues. Watching this up close has been fascinating and eye-opening. By keeping the pressure on, and using truly inspired propaganda like this website called Real Gentrifiers and a roving van with fancy LED screens calling out officials by name, this coalition of housing activists have created the unflattering attention needed to convince the Powers-that-Be to switch sides. Hungry wanna-bes are waiting in the wings to knock Cumbo, Adams, Hamilton and others out of position, by painting them as betrayers of the largely black and poor long-time residents of Central Brooklyn. Remember, this area is represented by a battalion of strong black politicians (our noble councilperson the exception to the "strong" rule). While young Caucasians may find themselves attracted to the assertive tactics and boisterous chanting, the underlying cries of "sell-out" and "Uncle Tom" may strike some as bizarre. Again, checking under the hood you sometimes find more there than just rusty spark plugs.

Great Facebook Live video on the demonstration (against AND for, it should be noted) and all the currents from Patch's Mark Torrence. Yours and my fave ballbuster Alicia Boyd aids a strong cast with her "look at me" antics:

THE LATEST FROM PATCH

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What's Under the Hood At the Bedford Union Armory?

 On the surface, it sounds so simple, so enticing. The City bids out a behemoth 110 year old drill hall in southern Crown Heights to be re-purposed for much-needed recreation. The drawings from the winning bidder show basketball courts, dancing classes, an indoor swimming pool, spaces for community groups to meet or host productions. The City's engine for Public-Private partnerships, the Economic Development Corporation, leads the way. After all, it knows how to get things done. While the City itself can't always be relied upon to produce big, big projects, EDC has a pretty solid track record. Sounds good so far, yes?

Over the years NYC EDC has been responsible for shepherding and helping finance everything from our beloved Lakeside Center to the Harlem River Park, the updated Whitehall Ferry Terminal, the Brooklyn Cyclones' MCU Ballpark and hundreds of projects throughout the City that make the City the City. Their secret? Land. It's all stuff that's on City-owned land. They essentially try to make the "best" use of what the City already has - land - to keep jobs here, bring jobs here, create housing opportunities and build civic amenities for all New Yorkers - not just for the super-rich. They issue bonds and provide financing and expertise. And it could be argued that the EDC's previous incarnations helped stave off the worst of the NYC downfall and abandonment of the '60s and '70s. You know, white flight, job flight, manufacturing flight, flight flight...all the stuff that led to the kind of poverty-choked decay that seems such a distant memory now. Unemployment is low; wages are up, housing is tight, land is scarce. It's a far cry, though not without its own set of Big Apple sized problems.

So that's the EDC, for better or not so. A lot of the coolest parts of the City owe their existence to it. And sometimes, fair to say, it bulldozes over the City's history. In the name, mind you, of progress. And sometimes EDC ushers in visions of the future that look like this:

BFC rendering - proposed
Enter the other Armory acronym - BFC. Easy to get them mixed up. But BFC is not the EDC. BFC Partners is the Developer. They're known for doing a lot of, der, developments. They do what developers do, better or worse. They make money by building stuff - a bunch in Staten Island, the East Village, now Brooklyn. (Important to note - without developers, in essence, you got no City as we know it. Folks who work for the City understand that Developers are as key to the City's economy as manure is to farming. A lot of times it stinks, but it's hard to grow without it.) Like many Developers, BFC has gotten pretty good at making money. Finding "undervalued" land and making it more valuable. The very act of development, it could be argued, is the stuff of gentrification, in the broadest sense. As land becomes more valuable, as the properties ON the land become more valuable, the surrounding neighborhood's living costs rise. The poorest folks get priced out. The newcomers stay for awhile, and even some of them eventually get priced out. Conversely, sometimes the bet doesn't pay off. (Don't cry; there are ways of shedding those losses, believe you me and your current president). Continental Capitalism does its thing as its done since the days of the Dutch. What was worth a few guilders and a bucket of tulip bulbs is now worth a few hundred million dollars and seat on the Board of the Met.
BFC Rendering - Proposed

As I wandered the massive spaces and hidden tombs of the Bedford-Union Armory last night as part of a CB9 ULURP tour, led by (don't get confused) both BFC and EDC, I couldn't help but be reminded of a simple fact. No project HAS to go the way it usually goes. We could, at any time, decide that our priorities for a given project are a) not to make money or b) not even to break even. We could decide to c) spend money. Yep. Tax money, the money that's MADE through gentrification and value-addition. And we could do so to, say, alleviate human suffering, build colleges or medical centers, house the homeless, or create new public spaces and amenities that aren't intended to pay for themselves but rather to make the City a more livable place for people of modest means, thereby shining dignity upon all our brethren and standing as a beacon to the entire nation. And if you do it right - and there's no assurances you would - you might just end up ennobling the Great Experiment of New York City, which in many ways stands as one of America's greatest living achievements. I'm not being ironic here - I believe this to the core of my being. Now, one might fall on one's face trying, of course. But guess what? For-profit and break-even projects fall apart ALL THE TIME. Folks brush themselves off and start again. Just because you can make it work out on paper doesn't mean it works out in real life. So yes, NYC COULD think big, like government did in the first age of public housing and the New Deal and the creation of Medicaid/Medicare and (this one always blows my mind) create a system of Upstate reservoirs that easily brings potable water to millions and millions of thirsty people who speak 200 languages and come in every conceivable size, shape, color, creed, sexual identity and (gulp) political philosophy.

Or, you could create a bunch of market rate condos, a bunch of below-market means-tested rentals (i.e. affordable housing), and a public/private recreational center that costs around $10 a month for memberships, with breaks for kids and seniors and maybe others. You could, essentially, play it safe. Not necessarily horrible, or inherently evil. Maybe even pretty darn good. And by doing so, you could help BFC Partners make a boat-load of money. On the one hand, you have an incredible Crown Heights resource - land, building, history, nearly unlimited potential. On the other hand, you have a bullet pointed prospectus and an achievable plan to turn the whole site around in a couple of years, barring a financial collapse or terrorist attack or both. Safe or visionary. Which would YOU choose?

There are many activists working overtime to "Kill the Deal." They might just be able to oust incumbent City Councilperson Laurie Cumbo as a result - her capable and popular challenger Ede Fox is building her campaign around tarring Laurie as a tool for developers and gentrification (not fair, in my view - this stuff is too nuanced to be so glib) and it seems to be working. Laurie's been blindsided by her own early acquiescence on this project, and her slow change of heart on the issue may have cost her deeply. At her State of the Union speech on Thursday, look for the activists from Bertha Lewis's Black Institute and NY Communities for Change (think Acorn renamed) and the Crown Heights Tenants Union and union leaders to be doing their best to intimidate and castigate and, yep, "Kill the Deal." The activists feel, with good reason I think, that the City is selling the neighborhood short, by not thinking big, and not thinking about how $$$ already budgeted to homeless housing should and could be going to low-income permanent housing, thus lowering the numbers of homeless. Okay, that reasoning is not entirely sound or as straight-up as it's portrayed, but sound enough to be worth a listen (because not all sounds are worth a listen natch). And the chanters claim that the high-cost condos will speed-up the neighborhood's already monsoon gentrification. And while these claims of secondary displacement are hard to prove, since there are too many variable to do a controlled study, they're certainly plausible, and anyway, the fear felt by many current residents is very real indeed. Another 16-story building of condos doesn't sound like the kind of plan that takes their needs to heart. And don't forget the NIMBYists! They don't like change, especially at the cost to light, views, architectural integrity, though they're usually okay with a new sit-down restaurant or two. Or as (I kid you not) the C in BFC partners, Don Capoccia delicately put it "once New Yorkers get their own housing sorted out its like screw everybody else." I'm actually floored by the deep truth in that statement, and plan on using it myself and probably not crediting the Don. Btw, Don is an openly gay die-hard Republican, who says NYC is the most anti-development City in the world. The world is complicated, man. But don't get me started on the F guy. I mean, F that guy, Joseph Ferarri or whatever the punk's name is. Massive Trumper. But he's a NYC Real Estate guy...you expected more? The idea of him pocketing green off City land turns my tummy. And it's a BIG tummy!

Is the Q neutral? Maybe I kinda was at first, if I was honest, but only because I'm cynical and figured NOTHING would happen if we walked away from this deal. I mean I think it's really, really important to get a rec center happening, and the economy could give way before anything at all happens. But then I asked myself...don't we have enough money to do the rec center already? The City has a budget of nearly $100 billion dollars a year. Just picture a pile of a million dollars. Then picture it again and again up to a thousand. Now do that again 100 times. Oh who am I kidding. Let's bring out the visuals! I'll leave you with this...

$10,000 in $100 bills


$1 million in $100 bills



$1 billion in $100 bills, a pallet, and a person with no gonads


$10 billion in $100 bills


$1 trillion in $100 bills


$1 trillion dollars, again



$15 trillion - why not? It'll warm your huddled masses if you light it on fire

By the way, I'm almost MORE into seeing the Statue of Liberty on a football field than trying to visualize $15 trillion dollars next to a 747. C'est moi.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Parkside Plaza Needs Support - Now!For

For god's sake it even has a logo!!!


If you're new to the neighborhood you can be forgiven for assuming that the Parkside Plaza was always a lovely, manicured, flora-filled, farmer's-market-hosting, pride-inducing paramour of our dear Q at Parkside station. I can assure you, dear neighbor, this was not always the case.

Up til about 3 years ago the plaza was about as lovely as an abandoned strip mall parking lot. That's until a group of locals banded together to lobby the City for funds to reclaim this public space for the greater good. I can still hardly believe that it's come to such frothy fruition. There were ups; there were downs. But in the end, good prevailed, the force is with us, and Tatooine wasn't destroyed by the Death Star, but rather nourished with water and turned into the Leffertsonian equivalent of a Garden of Eden. In-a-gadda-da-vida indeed.

So I ask you, I implore you, I beseech you, I importune, I demand, I expect, I solicit, I supplicate, I pray you will do the right thing and budget a wee bit of your wages for this communal jewel.

CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT

With a public commitment of just under $10,000, we signal to the City, to elected officials, to the DOT that maintains the plaza, and to our partners, that we care deeply about this ongoing project. We hope one day to get full funding from our elected officials, and you should all demand that our next Councilperson back this project 150%. For now, please show you care! If you read the Q even just once in a great while, consider this gift in support of the Q, for whom advertising is anathema, but whose love for you knows no bounds. I really, really love you. And I love you most when you're shedding your greenbacks in the name of greenery.

the project

We are thrilled to be celebrating the second anniversary of the Parkside Plaza. Over the past two years, the plaza has grown to become critical in displaying  the arts and culture of our community. 
For over 40 years, this space was barren concrete. However with your support, we were able to rejuvenate the plaza by:
-Installing benches and moveable seating for residents to sit and take in the splendor of the park;
-Hosting the Grow NYC farmers market every weekend during the spring, summer and fall seasons;
-Providing outdoor space for numerous cultural events (like PLG Art and local musicians), and
-Beautifing the landscape with plants, flowers and shrubbery

At a time in our society when we are all at risk for losing support and funding for arts, culture and green spaces, your donation to the Parkside Plaza matters now more than ever!

the steps

Every spring we work with local artists, organizations and merchants to host cultural events, resource events and showcase local talent. Our next steps will be to continue our outreach for local artists, further our relationships with resource providers and ensure that we continue to provide the community with a space to enjoy and programming and resources that benefit everyone.

why we're doing it

The Parkside Plaza is "A neighborhood plaza by and for the community".
The plaza exists to help the community and it needs the community to keep programming possible.
The plaza is now a part of our lives and we want our community plaza to continue to be accessible and enjoyable by everyone. The Parkside Plaza would not exist if it weren't for the individual donations from generous community members like you!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

PLG Music Festival - May 15-21

Or as some are calling it, PLeGnapalooza. (actually only the Q is calling it that at that moment).

Had it not come from the reliably truthful DNAInfo, I'd not have believed it. But here it is on the PLG Arts page:

What can you say? And have you been hearing the jazzy tunes wafting from the Parkside Pizza place lately? Dang. Positively swingin'! (By the way, while both this and the last post about the Tiki Bar could have been Q April Fool's gags in year's past, this ain't no joke folks. I'm just hoping a hair salon opens next to the new bar going in next to Peppa's and calls it Tiki Barbers)

Saxy Festival Player Kazemde George





Monday, May 8, 2017

Tiki Bar Opening Next To Peppa's



That space on the Flabenue btw Parkside and Woodruff/Clarkson next to Peppa's Jerk Chicken? You know the one that's being built-out as we digitally interact?

Tiki Bar. No effing kidding man. Right from the owner. Or rather the owner's neighbor. Very trustworthy citizen, she, so it's basically a done deal.

What is a Tiki Bar, precisely? My guess, my hunch, my suspicion, is that there is something not wholly politically correct in the concept, using Polynesian masks and silly umbrellas to doll up the pursuit of intoxication. From the Grail, a/k/a Wikipedia:
tiki bar is an exotic–themed drinking establishment that serves elaborate cocktails, especially rum-based mixed drinks such as the mai tai and zombie cocktail. Tiki bars are aesthetically defined by their tiki culture décor which is based upon a romanticized conception of tropical cultures, most commonly Polynesian.
The interiors and exteriors of tiki bars often include "tiki god" masks and carvings, grasscloth, tapa cloth and tropical fabrics, torches, woven fish traps, and glass floats, bamboo, plants, lava stone, hula girl, palm tree motifs, tropical murals and other South Pacific-themed decorations. Indoor fountains, waterfalls or even lagoons are popular features. Some tiki bars also incorporate a stage for live entertainment such as exotica-style bands or Polynesian dance floor shows.
Why does the Q suspect un-PC-ness? The words and phrases "zombie." "tiki culture." "romanticized conception of tropical cultures." "tiki god" "hula girl." "exotica-style bands." You know. Standard cultural appropriation stuff.

Apparently Trader Vic came up with the whole idea and it took off like wild-tapas. Trader Joe's is also indebted to Tiki Culture, the '50s-'60s fad that included the brilliant music of Martin Denny. If you don't know his lounge music, you gotta check it out. The style is known as Exotica, after his famous record of that name, and dozens more, that use every manner of instruments and gorgeous stereophic sound that just bubbles off your hi-fi. Given the comely come-hither poses of beautiful ladies showing off their "exotic" sexiness, I can only surmise that we have wandered into yet another land mine of insensitivity. And yet, people still do mock German, Russian and Transylvanian accents without backlash. We'll see. Perhaps "Tiki" is simply too silly to be offensive.

In the meantime, c'mon out and get your mai tais. Opening soon.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Ladies and Germs...the Echo!

Echo! Echo! Echo! Echo! Echo! Echo! Echo! Echo! Echo...

And it's the House Tour edition to boot!





The Pain of Trump and the Fact of Hypocrisy

Many of us have suffered anxiety and anger, even depression. We've taken it personally. I have a theory about this that I'm gonna air for the sake of airing it. My own reaction to the election was fairly cynical I guess - this is what you get when you're apathetic, like George W. before Trump. Having grown up far from the glare and glamor of the coasts, I have a fairly empathetic understanding of just how BIG and WHITE and CONSERVATIVE is the United States of America. It is difficult to comprehend when you live in Central Brooklyn, where we fight each other over relatively minor issues like "how affordable is affordable housing" and it's taken for granted that we agree that the police over-extend their power and that we incarcerate WAY too many young men of color and that LGBT rights are human rights and climate change and on and on.

But here's what I think may be at the root of the very personal distress that we feel at the core of our being. And it IS personal, not just political. It's called...hypocrisy.

We're hypocrites, many of us. Like:


  • We claim to be unified against climate change but we own cars, sometimes BIG cars, and we air condition like penguins would, and practically horde plastics and some own second homes outfitted with twice the number of "things," many that are frankly superfluous, and we use water with abandon and so much more. A few of us ride bicycles, and maybe feel a bit superior? Many of us do it because we can't afford a car and parking is a bitch, and it's a forced fitness program for our lardy asses. Frankly almost all the parents I know own cars anyway, and ride bikes only occasionally.
  • We claim solidarity with worker's rights, but buy from Amazon and Uniqlo and Apple and use Uber and even Target and other companies that have actively eroded progress and depressed pay and living standards all the while forcing manufacturers to cut costs and extract greater work for less pay from foreign workers who suffer for our leisure, and we ceaselessly shop for the best bargains just to maintain our own standards of living, complaining about the rich while hording for ourselves.
  • We don't really give much to charity, let's be honest here.
  • We live segregated lives in integrated cities, and send our kids to segregated schools 
  • We say we're for affordable housing, but we won't budge on our quality of life or allow the building of new housing near us. 
  • We claim to be for housing justice, but we move into poor neighborhoods and demand services and utilize such services that actively help price people and businesses out
  • We vote the "right" way but never show up to local meetings and events that would create true partnerships between elected officials and the communities they serve
  • We do precious little to understand the people we claim we want to protect
  • We check our phones constantly, and somehow convince ourselves that's a political act
  • We argue the merits of Sanders vs Clinton, rather than working for voting rights in states where the votes really matter, regardless of whom they end up voting for, it being their choice after all
  • We argue against White Privelege, all the while using it to our advantage without so much as a blush, or even realizing it
  • We think of Trump as someone else's fault - media, FBI, Putin, social media, fake news, bigots...anyone but us.
I could go on and on.

In essence, I know precious few who live their convictions. When I meet them and talk to them, I see and hear a version of myself that could be, but isn't. Sometimes their humility is awe-inspiring. Sometimes they're just dogged and tough and hard-to-like. But they don't live like hypocrites. And perhaps, when they lie awake at night, they don't take the fact of Trump so personally. They wake up in the morning, to once again wear the mantle of resistance and progress.


Just a hunch.

Monday, May 1, 2017

From Sneakers To...

Sneaker store. Don't Shoot mural on gates. Now...

flatbush at maple

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Aging Blogger's Band Still Kicks Ass" - Reliable Independent Source

The show is this Wednesday May 3. We play at 9. You'll be home by 11. You could even go to dinner first. Think about it. It's called a, um, a...shux I can't remember the word. When you go somewhere with your partner, away from children and work and chores, and you try to enjoy each other's company? Rhymes with fate. CRATE! You go out on a CRATE! Actually, we kind of DO go out on a crate. In a crate. The Q's going for cremation, though. Talk about rekindling that old flame!


Yep. Babe the Blue Ox is playing a mid-week early-ish show in NYC next Wednesday May 3, with friends Baby Spiders and He Arrived By Helicopter, a newish project of the indefatigable C.Gibbs. It's in Berlin. Or rather, AT Berlin, which is a club in a place called the East Village, where we once wheat-pasted posters on the regular. Was a time when we played a show every month in NY and toured 6 months of the year. Did that really happen? Yes it did. To prove it, Exhibit A, a scan of an old Village Voice from the early 1990's, for a late Friday gig at a place (do you remember?) called The Cooler, in a once desolate stretch of an area now known by tourists and tunnel-folk as the 24-hour 24-dollar-cocktail ueber-glamorous Meatpacking District. Actually, it was called that back then too, but the drinks were $2 - Bud 40's from the 9th Ave corner bodega.



And if you read this far, and you must have because you're reading this, we'll be happy to put you and a guest "on the list." Just email. That's it. And we'll see you there. - Leffertsonians Hanna, Eddie, Tim and Kensingtonian Rose.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Our Winning Participatory Budgeting Projects

And the envelope...

1. Air Conditioning for P.S. 92 and P.S. 139 
Locations: P.S. 92, 601 Parkside Avenue, and P.S. 139, 330 Rugby Road
Description: Install air conditioning in 46 rooms at these two Title I schools, so students and teachers can focus on learning.
Cost: $250,000
2. Technology Upgrades at P.S. 217Location: P.S. 217, 1100 Newkirk Avenue at Coney Island Avenue
Description: Purchase teacher resource stations, computers, and much-needed equipment to improve learning for diverse, often immigrant children.
Cost: $250,000
3. New Play Yard for P.S. 139
Location: P.S. 139, 330 Rugby Road at Cortelyou Road
Description: Renovate the cracked and often flooded asphalt lot, to create a safer and more engaging public space for families.
Cost: $500,000
4. Street Trees for Rogers Avenue
Location: Between Midwood and Winthrop Streets in Prospect-Lefferts
Description: Plant trees between Gardens — 4 blocks have only 7 trees. More trees help clean the air on this bus route and keep street cooler in the summer heat.
Cost: $39,900

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Caton Market - Town Hall Mtg and Hiring Director


It's one of the most iconic of buildings in the area - the Caribbean Carnival looking market at Caton and Flatbush. Most new folks probably don't know that this structure was built to house the many outdoor vendors who had come to populate this corner right next to the parking lot. The idea seemed strong - give the vendors proper stalls and year-round space to hawk their wares. But...it's never really drawn a lot of traffic. Last weekend I spent some time browsing and talking to shopkeeps, and there was a trickle of neighbors strolling by the stalls, but precious few. The problem is that you have to GO IN, and unless there's something specific that you need from one of these vendors (like a haircut from Orlando, to talk lefty politics no less), one isn't really drawn to the mostly dark and unappealing building, whose architecture feels more like a storage facility than a mall.

And now, as the market gives way to a new building that will house ALL below-market housing, 250 units to be precise, it must be torn down to make way for both the building AND a reboot of the mini-mall itself. I applaud the affordable housing initiative, and was heartened to see that the OTHER QatParkside Community Board, numero 14, was supportive. Trust me, had this project been proposed for Empire Blvd all hell would have broken loose.

And hey, if you want to help market the Caton Market, you can get paid to do so. Check out the job listing:

Marketing Director Spot


Monday, April 24, 2017

Empanada Cloud In the Sky

Hello Muddah. Hello Faddah. I just ate an. Empanada.
Spring is very. Entertaining. And they said we'll have some fun when it's stops raining


Friday, April 21, 2017

The Wacky World of Brooklyn Retail Rents

I'll begin with an actual quote from an actual article on The Brooklyn Owl, soon to open on the Upper Flabenue near the Nets Arena (I refuse to say Barclay's anymore - get your damn bank's name on the friggin' subway map for chrisakes, for how much a year? There ought to be a law...). And no, this is not another April Fool's Day joke. The article's dated the 21st.
"It’s not just the normal gift shop with a million different brands," said Annie Bruce. "We’re really trying to give the customers a unicorn experience to make them feel special when they come into the shop." Upon entering the store, shoppers will be greeted with a list of instructions to help guide them through the transformation "from human being to unicorn being," Cory Bruce said. The metamorphosis concludes with a magic mirror that lights up and talks to shoppers, congratulating them on completing the journey.
Now that that's out of the way...

The Q has obtained documents that confirm the hearsay - retail rents and lease-terms and non-renewals along Flatbush Avenue are undergoing an absolutely dizzying change. Building after building is either denying new leases to tenants, for various given reasons, or applying 50% or more increases in cost. You know, I thought this sort of thing was the case a few years ago, but that was when there was just hint of gentrification in the air. (Now that hint in the air is more akin to the stench of the fancy perfume on the wealthy dowager sitting next to me last night at a schmancy benefit for the LGBT Center where Lana Wachowski, Marc Jacobs AND Hillary Clinton all spoke. Lana's was the most fun speech, all Matrixy and stuff, though Hilary did receive a tearful standing ovation and reminded everyone why she was so ridiculously more qualified to affix the Presidential Seal, and most specifically not to embarrass 2/3 of the nation every goddam day.)

It seemed every few months for the past couple decades there'd be rumblings of wholesale change about the Flabenue, or Rogers or Nostrand or SoFro (South Franklin, forget I said it, just messin' with ya) or Church Avenue and on and on. But we really haven't seen the crazy kind of flippage that happened to NoFro (North Franklin, forget I said that, just messin' with ya). Bizzes have come and gone, sure, but the general make-up of the area has remained roughly the same. Lots of busy hair and nail places, a couple coffee shops and bars, discount stores and bodegas and green grocers, then a toy store here a specialty foods store there, couple new hardware stores and a place to fix your i-Crap. Cell Phoneries. A wine shop. Another wine shop. Another wine shop. Another wine shop. A record store. Sure there are more middle-class or yuppie amenities than there were a few years ago, but the mix has simply diversified in drips and drabs, and that slowish pace has been reassuring to some of us old-farts who don't want our beloved 'hood to change TOO much. We are, after all, old-farts, and that means we like our change to come in bits and bobs, the better to assimilate it into our age-addled brains.  (The advent of the internet, for instance. Slowly you go from AltaVista to Yahoo to Google, downloading your first mp3 to streaming to podcasts to unrelenting constant connection to the world wide web, soul-crushing addiction to useless information, browser reloads, pointless games and vapid emails, posts and tweets. It took almost 25 years for my very existence to be usurped into the Wachowski Matrix, my intellect devolved to the desperate act of blogging, a cry for help if ever there was one, trapped behind a Keyboardian Hell of my own making. Help. Help.)

But the rumble's become a roar. When Nelson's and the Notary/Driving School at Flatbush/Parkside get booted just for being. When the beloved Maverick Comic Book store is up for rent (tis true). When three businesses get warehoused together at the corner of Rutland/Flatbush, awaiting god knows what to put in an offer. When brokers now routinely seek $60/sf and up in annual rent, and will WAIT until they get it, when longtime local bizzes are offered only short-term leases or none at all, when shops that don't fit the right "profile" don't make the cut, you know you're entering the Wacky World of Brooklyn Retail Rents. Storefronts are priced by the square footage - it's up to the business owner to determine what qualifies as the right combination of size, shape, price and location-location-location.

From the most recent REBNY report, comes some startling statistics (below): Use the $60/ sf mark to gauge where WE'RE now at, and you'll see that while we haven't reached Park Slope terrain, we're gaining. We're almost up to prime 5th Ave Park Slope, which took a dive to $80ish. Just 10 years ago you could expect to find a place in our neighborhood for $25/sf and a longterm lease, easy. If you struggle figuring how much the monthly rate is on a joint, I like to think of a typical 800 s/f store at $60 s/f is about $5K a month. The math is simple but daunting. Make that much (net after sales) just to break even. And that's on the LOW end of the spectrum in big bad BK. You'll need to clear $20 to $25 K each month in the toniest nabes. Just feast your eyes on these puppies:


  • Franklin Street between Meserole Avenue and Commercial Street in Greenpoint saw the highest increase in asking rent at 41% or $89/square foot compared to Winter 2016, while 7th Avenue in Park Slope came in second with a 35% increase at $129/square foot.
  • 86th Street between 4th Avenue and Fort Hamilton Pkwy in Bay Ridge came in third with a 29% increase at $110/square foot for ground floor retail space versus $85 from last year.
  • Washington Street between Main and Water Streets in DUMBO saw a 13% rise in asking rents at $127/square foot while the Fulton Street corridor between Boerum Place and Flatbush Avenue saw an 8% rise with a whopping asking rent of $326/square foot.
  • The Report states the increase on Fulton Street can be attributed to the seemingly endless numbers of residential towers being developed in the area as well as to new retailers hoping to attract “spillover” customers from City Point.\
  • Brooklyn Heights’ Montague Street spanning Hicks Street to Cadman Plaza, and Prospect Heights’ Flatbush Avenue from 5th Avenue to Grand Army Plaza both remained the same since Winter 2016, with asking rents at $188/square foot and $102/square foot, respectively.
  • The Report notes that the Flatbush Avenue corridor has remained the same since REBNY began compiling these reports in Summer 2015, however they see the strip’s potential to increase significantly with the Pacific Park residential project in the works.
  • Over in Cobble Hill, Court Street between Atlantic Avenue and Carroll Street experienced a -14% drop to $151/square foot whereas asking rents along this corridor were $175 in Winter 2016. Smith Street between the same borders also saw a decline of -12% down to $122 versus $139 in Winter 2016.
  • According to the Report, leasing on Court Street has slowed due to competition from the adjacent Smith Street which offers lower asking prices for ground floor retail spaces.
  • Park Slope’s 5th Avenue between Union to 9th Street also saw a decrease of -8% down to $78/square foot as opposed to $85/square foot from Winter 2016. Hopefully these lower asking prices will help to fill up the many empty storefronts currently lining 5th Avenue.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cornell Pulls Application - Garden "Safe" For Now

With a battalion of naysayers ready to speak out against the proposed upzoning near the Botanic Garden's by developer Cornell, it would appear the armada itself was deterrent enough to convince the applicant to pull its ULURP application at the last moment, leaving the entire project on hold for now. This may prove to be a phyrric victory, as Cornell has claimed to be seeking broader support for the project before proceeding. In translation, this means they had not obtained the backing of all the relevant players - BP, council person and Mayor. A cynic might note that all three have reelection campaigns running for September's primary, and it does not look good to shove a project down constituents' throats just in time for them to pull the lever.

One should not underestimate the power of sheer numbers, however. Clearly Cornell looked at the landscape and felt it was unfavorable for them to go ahead at this time. That's a testament to organizing prowess and heads-up ball displayed by the longtime gentry of the neighborhood. Eric Adams' right-hand woman Ingrid Gordon lives nearby. A slew of CB9 Eric-Adams appointees live and own nearby. And Councilperson Laurie Cumbo is facing a serious challenger in Ede Fox, and is often the target of anti-developer fervor. Though frankly I find much of it to be unfounded. She, like any thoughtful politician, is looking for creative ways to balance the need for new housing with the concerns of current residents. Thoughtfulness is not a quality much in abundance these days, however.

So what does it all mean? Two possibilities. One, Cornell tries again after tacit commitments from elected officials. Two, it builds what it can under current zoning. This will mean hundreds of market rate apartment with NO affordable, below-market, permanently rent-stabilized apartments. But it will be shorter, though you will certainly see it as a bridge between Ebbets Field apartments and Tivoli Towers. It won't, as might be the hope, simply disappear into the horizon.

This is where we are headed as a neighborhood. There is no credible study of what effect the extraordinary market-rate boom will have on our neighborhood in 5 or 10 years, but one need only look to other rapidly gentrified neighborhoods for clues. Upper West Side. Lower East Side. Ft. Greene, Clinton Hill, Park Slope. Each had its rapid-change-decade, and each saw massive changes in racial makeup, income levels and housing costs. South Crown Heights and Lefferts Gardens seem convinced that by fighting tall buildings it is somehow fighting those fights, but the words ring hollow to the Q's ears.

NIMBY - in its best and worst guises - does not equal progressive housing policy. Unless we remain committed to creating new housing that lower-income working people can afford, we stand no more chance of remaining a culturally and economically diverse neighborhood than any of those prior-mentions. In fact, we have LESS defense. We don't have the honest-to-god Public Housing that has helped keep Manhattan and many neighborhoods throughout the City from becoming wealthy enclaves.

Whatevs. The people have spoken, with a surprisingly singular voice. They don't want tall buildings, and they won't tolerate upzonings to build affordable housing. They also won't tolerate homeless housing, or social services housing. They also won't tolerate new market-rate housing. And if push comes to shove, I suspect they don't REALLY want low-income housing either. We shall see, won't we? I'm curious if when presented with the possibility of an enormous building with hundreds of new residents making less than $30,000, with the requested less-stringent credit requirements - will people will truly be as welcome to the prospect as they have heretofore suggested? One hopes the opportunity presents itself. I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Tonight's the big night for you to sound off on the application by Cornell Realty to rezone a couple key square blocks in order to build taller and (one would assume) more profitably along Franklin Avenue, just north of the Spice Factory.

I will leave to others to determine whether such uproar would have been needed had MTOPP and others not bullied-away a zoning study for the entire neighborhood. It would appear that residents are left fending for themselves, one project at a time, with no coherent strategy or underlying assumptions about what should and should not be protected, or height limits, or requirements for affordability. It gives me no great pleasure to tell y'all the Q told you so. And this is just the beginning.

So where are we? Come to Ebbets Field Middle School tonight and share your thoughts. But remember, your voice AGAINST the project is also against the creation of affordable below-market permanently rent stabilized housing, the very housing that gets created when developers are allowed to build taller, in this case 17 stories rather than 23 at 626 Flatbush. It is easy to assume a posture of offense, taking offense at plans to ruin one's views. But were actual people living in these proposed buildings, actual people as in actual neighbors, many of whom would likely be grateful for the apartment near garden, transit and park - would you feel any differently? What if that person were, say, you?

Either way, I suspect you don't like the height of these buildings, and should say so. Where and when?

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - 7 pm - Community Board 9 Land Use Committee Hearing on  at Ebberts Field Middle School 
46 McKeever Place, Brooklyn N.Y. 11225


I love some of the ominous looking caricatures floating about, especially this one on the online petition (sign if you like.) 
rendering by Fernando Conteli de Castro

"Soft sites" identified decades ago

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Let's Do the NIMBY, Again!

Not just a social phenomenon. The NIMBY is now a dance craze sweeping America. Everybody who owns a house now, to the tune of the Hokey Pokey:

You put your equity in
you file a lawsuit case
you cite your Quality of Life
and then you rub it in our face.

Relax, I'm only kidding around. It's good to laugh at our own hypocrisy now and then. Below, you gotta view the wildest local political propaganda I've seen in...well, ever! I suspect the Crown Heights Tenants Union or maybe MTOPP is behind it. Hats off, it's INCREDIBLY effective. As I shot this you can hear me explaining what it's about to a couple passers-by, many of whom were riveted by the LED images. I mean, people really don't know this is happening, especially since there are major changes afoot for TWO Brooklyn armories. That are both on Bedford Avenue for chrisakes! And both have plans that are related to affordable housing issues. Check this truck out, which, by the way, was idling to keep the power running. With no one in the truck and the doors locked! Just outside the Shirley Chisholm office building near the DMV:

video

Kill the Deal! Kill the Deal! Well, yeah, as it stands it doesn't seem low-income Crown Heights residents have a lot to cheer about. Current plans are to build a rec center that lots of folks probably can't afford, a ton of apartments that lots of folks probably can't afford, and a few dozen apartments they probably CAN afford if they win the lottery. Throw this in with the new massive homeless shelter opening in May on Rogers at Carroll, and the planned big ol' building on Franklin, and you've got yourself lots of new residents, and potentially a tall tower or two to boot, visible from the sacred BBG. But truth be told, you also have a lot of progressively minded projects to address a) a general housing shortage b) too few below-market rent-stabilized apartments and c) lousy facilities for transitional families, i.e. homeless, mostly as a result of the housing shortage and lack of rent-stabilized below-market housing.

Confused? Some folks aren't. And those folks would be the NIMBYists, who as far as I can tell, don't want ANY of it. Not housing where it realistically can go, not affordable housing if it comes with market rate, or as they like to say "luxury," not homeless housing, and let's be honest, they don't REALLY want low-income-only housing either, with eased-up credit requirements that (clear-minded) activists say is necessary to provide actual opportunities for most low-income folks. That's essentially Public Housing, and when you call it THAT, or Section 8, the real tough NIMBYism comes out, the kind with unkind words for poor people, lazy people, trash throwers and drug dealers. Yes, I've been to those meetings too. And god forbid you should have supportive housing for mentally ill folks!

Last thing that just BLOWS THIS BLOGGER'S BEAN - Remember when I was bellyaching about how First Baptist Church (of Clarence Norman Sr and Jr. fame) was getting $500,000 to help "sell" the Bedford Union Armory project? Guess who came out with an op-ed IN FAVOR of the Deal that so many want to Kill? Yep. And here it is, in all its developer-drenched glory. Them's some Almighty Huevos sizzlin' over at the rectory. This from the pastor, now that $500,000 landed in the church's development company's lap. (full disclosure, most of this I actually agree with, but still, this is the kind of politics we're dealing with here):

For Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Crown Heights has been offered a once-in-a-generation chance to revitalize the Bedford-Union Armory with a new recreational center, affordable office space for nonprofits and affordable housing — all resources our community has been demanding for years.
Let’s not squander this incredible opportunity by capitulating to a shortsighted approach that would “kill the deal.” Let’s work together to make it an even better deal for all Crown Heights families.
For more than a half century, the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights has been at the forefront of religious, political and social activity in our neighborhood. As First Baptist’s pastor, it would be a disservice for me to sit idly by without adding my voice to the chorus of those speaking out on the Bedford-Union Armory. Remember that First Baptist is not just a stakeholder in this process — the proposed development also encompasses the full block directly behind our church.
We strongly support the redevelopment of the armory because of the powerfully positive impact it will have on local residents of all backgrounds.
Young people and seniors — and everyone in between — will benefit from free and low-cost programming in the armory’s new quality athletic facilities, which will include basketball courts, indoor fields and a swimming pool. These facilities will also play a vital role in providing much-needed opportunities for local public schools, which often lack space for their sports teams to practice and play games.
Nonprofit organizations — such as the West Indian American Day Carnival Association and Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy — will gain the permanent homes they need in new affordable office space at the armory. These organizations serve tens of thousands of Crown Heights residents, including many of African and Caribbean heritages who have historically been underserved.
When it comes to affordable housing, I believe the mixed-income plan at the armory represents a positive step for our community. The proposed rental housing will be 50 percent affordable — a total of more than 160 affordable apartments — with homes for both low-income and middle-income individuals and families. While I agree that low-income housing is a huge priority in Crown Heights, we also need more homes for middle-income earners. The reality is that, yes, people of color in our community do make $75,000 per year, or $100,000 per year, or more. They will surely benefit from this deal — and that is a good thing.
This does not mean we think the armory proposal is perfect. While a mixed-income approach is good, we believe there should be more low-income housing at the armory. We are currently working with our elected officials and the developers — BFC Partners and the Local Development Corporation of Crown Heights — to discuss paths for achieving deeper affordability. It is likely that more city and state resources will be needed to accomplish that goal — and we are ready to push for those additional resources.
Here’s one thing I know for sure: If we kill the deal, we won’t get any more affordable housing. We will get nothing.  No rec center for our youth, no office space for our nonprofits and no housing for low- and middle-income families. The armory will simply sit vacant for many more years to come.
We can’t afford to lose this opportunity. Let’s work together to make the new Bedford-Union Armory a reality for our Crown Heights community.


Friday, April 7, 2017

What Would the Master Do?

Well, for one thing, he'd probably come up with a Master Plan, right? For housing the homeless, no less. Couldn't help being reminded of that famous question, usually phrased with "Jesus" where "Master" is. But I always liked "master" better, more romantic, the image of anxious acolytes questioning the teacher for guidance, a la Socrates or Confucius or Gwyneth Paltrow.

Look, the Q's no God Boy. My religious education ended with confirmation at the Memorial Presbyterian Church in Ames, IA. But somehow the phrase kept coming into my head with so many people upset last night, deadset against the City opening 267 Rogers, a/k/a the "ugly gentrifier building" a/k/a the site of the old St. Ignatius Church which is now slated for - you heard right - a state-of-the-art temporary housing shelter for homeless families. Folks from the Dept of Homeless Services joined the leaders of planned shelter manager Samaritan Village to bravely face down the unhappy residents of nearby blocks in a Town Hall on Thursday night at PS161. Most every speaker seemed to suggest that the better use of the finished but unusually small apartments would be for permanent low income housing. This seemed to be a refrain. What the Q wants to know is, well, a few things actually.

A) This building at 267 looked fishy to me from the get-go.  I suspect it was always going to be a shelter, but the City had the good sense to keep it under wraps til they finished, lest they'd never get past the design stage. Heck, the first residents will be moving in in MAY. So this is no recent decision. Once it started to rise, 267 looked suspiciously like dormitories to me, and the 160+ apartments meant the average apartment size was gonna be pretty dang small. Also it was right in the thick of the Medgar Evers constellation. No one would have been surprised if it had been intended to house a few students at what to date has been a commuter school. Here's the before and after:




B) Was the architect chosen for their shelter experties? Go to Think Architecture's website and social services housing is something they do, and they're clearly proud of it. Check it out.

C) Is this the fate of 33 Lincoln Road as well? An astute reader pointed out that the listings for 33 Lincoln haven't really come on line, even as 510 Flatbush have - they could easily be marketed as two separate buildings, separate entrances and all. There was a point a couple years ago when it seemed builder Thomas Anderson had lost his initial state financing to build a bunch of affordable units as part of the original plan. Could it be that he found new financing, a/k/a the Mayor's plan to create a bunch of updated and (hopefully) well-run shelters? And if it happens, don't be surprised if neighbors become equally agitated by the proposition, again with all sorts of politically-correct sounding mumbo-jumbo to back their discrimination. And ultimately, that's what it is. The Big D.

The "Master Plan" involves the City closing down the hundreds of poorly operated slum-shelters and scattersite housing that they can't seem to control, and opening new buildings wherever it can, and trying to house recently homeless families locally so the kids can stay in local schools and the parent(s) can get back on their feet without unnecessary disruption. Ideally, this shelter would be OUR shelter.

Because, you see, this is what a compassionate and progressive City does. But just try to get people to see it that way. Oh, and when they close Rikers and start putting "community based" jails on Empire Boulevard? Not so far-fetched by the way (thanks Andrew!) It would be OUR jail. Follow?

So what were people, including electeds Laurie Cumbo, Diana Richardson, Jesse Hamilton, Letitia James and others crying out for at 267 Rogers? Permanent low-income housing. Not "affordable," not based on 40% of AMI or 60% of AMI, but "low-income." Hmm.

What exactly is the difference between permanent low-income housing and PUBLIC housing? You know, the kind that lots of the same anti-shelter folks would NOT welcome into their community? (I've been to those meetings too, the ones where people are concerned about crackheads throwing garbage out their windows.) The whole POINT of public housing (a/k/a "the Projects") is to subsidize housing to meet every income, including those of the "low income" variety. Mostly low-income, matter of fact. I'm a bit tired of hearing euphemisms bandied about, especially when the whole point from local residents seems to be:

I don't like change, and I especially don't like it when it involves people who are not like me and are not like those I consider to be my TRUE neighbors. Which, coincidentally, are usually a lot like me. - Your Average Longtime Local Resident
Sound like discrimination to you? Perhaps my favorite refrain in all these meetings is "would they do this in Park Slope?" I wonder if Park Slopers have any idea how often their neighborhood's name is taken in vain at meetings in Central BK. Problem with this line of attack is that the Mayor plans to put up new shelters there too. It's his home nabe, so I guess he feels obliged to take on "his fair share." Good for him. That's the attitude, Billy old boy!

Now I'm not so idealistic that I miss the not-subtle cultural differences between a) whiter younger single folks and 2) mostly-POC low to moderate income folks and 3) long-term residents who rent and 4) long-term residents who own homes and even rental property and 5) religious Jewish residents who have low incomes and rent and 6) religious Jewish residents who own homes and 7) Asian residents wondering whether they're considered POCs, white or "other" in this equation and 8) mixed-race families with either low-incomes or moderate incomes or middle incomes or upper incomes or 9) white families who rent or 10) white families who own. Oh, and childless couples, and childless GAY couples, and soon-to-have children gay couples, and oh, and then there's the question of how LONG you've lived here. One year? 10 years? 20 years? Born here? New Yorker or Ausländer? Disabled? Seniors? Nuns? How about Muslims? Africans? Latinos? And don't even try to qualify/quantify folks from the Caribbean, more adequately broken down by Haitian, Trinidadian, Jamaican, Grenadan, Turkses & Caicoses and, and, and. And what one's grandparents are Haitian, Caucasian, African-American and Latino? Born in the Midwest, 10 years living here in a condo, with a hairlip and a pants problem?

Maybe we can just cut through the bull here and get real. Black folks feel their reliably black neighborhoods are being taken over by whites, via City collusion with Developers. And that makes a lot of sense to me, and probably to you, even if you're part of "the problem." If this were really about affordable housing, and AMI and income requirements and homelessness alone, I really don't think every public meeting would end in acrimony and grandstanding. Last night started with MTOPP's Alicia Boyd cussing out councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, but thankfully thinks got more civil from there.

Guess who brought the heat down a notch and cheekily pointed out that Ms. Boyd had just given an example of "what not to do" with your turn to speak? A minister of course. A guy who might actually ask that question once in awhile. "What would the Master do?"

But here's the rub. We can't be both FOR equal access to housing and AGAINST it. The law can't, and shouldn't, make exceptions based on your personal preference of who you want to live around. That just gets us right back where we were, and we've made such precious little progress, we can't afford to give an inch. But we also seem to place a great deal of weight in private property, in the ability to buy or sell, and the idea that the highest bidding farmer gets the cow. Or condo.
So while we're all mixed up inside, why NOT accept homeless families into our neighborhoods? Why NOT consider the possibility that mixed income buildings and neighborhoods can be encouraged by enlightened policy? And for god's sake, what's so damn wrong with saying PUBLIC HOUSING done right is a hell of a lot better than any other answer to homelessness, affordable housing crises and the like? Bring it on, baby. We can take it.

As was made clear by the Powers That Be last night, you don't have a say in the matter anyway. You can vote de Blasio out of office. (Er, except he has no viable opponent.) We get him for another four years, and I don't think he's budging on this one. They've already invested much too much time and money closing the current shelters and buying, leasing or building new ones. And good riddance to the old ones, say I. 60 Clarkson had none of the amenities of this new place, and none of the security either. When you have families ravaged by domestic abuse, how can they possibly move on when every Harry Dick or Tom can waltz through the door at any hour of the night? When dealers take up residence? When the children call the rats their pets?

I say you go, de Blo. Close crappy shelters and create new ones that work for their intended purpose. And when the whole world tells you to go to hell, just remember to ask it loud for all the righteous to hear: What Would the Master Do? 

Whomever that "master" is to you. Swami. Conscience. Secular Humanism. Or just plain human decency and compassion. Suck it up NYC. If we can't all get along, no one can. Say it loud, I care and I'm proud.