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    This from a neighbor who's a Master Gardener and Master Composter who recently got the okay to create a community garden at the Flatbush Library on Linden just off Flatbush:

    We are planning to start a brand new community garden in Flatbush.

    Sunshine, Seeds, And Reads Community Garden Planning  Meeting (SSRCG)

    April 5, 2014  at 10:00 a.m. sharp

    Flatbush Library -  22 Linden Boulevard ( between Flatbush and Bedford Ave).

    Please bring your ideas, and children are welcome.
    I didn't have a chance yet to check with her to see if it's okay to email her directly, so send me a shout and I'll forward to her.


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    What I know about fiber optics could fit into the trunk of a mitochondria (pictured above).  But neighbor Rob pointed out that those optics being planted under the sidewalk on the hectic eastern block of of the Flabenue, Parkside to Winthrop are indeed fiber (pictured below).


    The Q has noted that folks up Manor way have been infuriated for many years about their lack of good internets. By gum this may be the beginning of a new day, as many, many fibers will be making their way optically to Lefferts. And from what I hear from the World Wide Web those fibers have internets on them.

    Speaking of fibers, the Q is a huge fan of Joni Mitchell. A few years ago I learned that she had contracted Morgellons Disease. This is an excruciating condition in which one is convince that one's skin is literally crawling with little parasites that produce fibers that they swear are coming out of their pores.
    This is not a joke, folks. The CDC has concluded that it is a mental condition, one in which patients are known to actually scratch their skin to the bone to stop the bugs. This disease has long been known to medicine as "delusional parasitosis," and so when CDC did its exhaustive study and concluded it was "all mental," few in the establishment were surprised. Google the word "Morgellons" and you will find yourself immersed in an alternate universe, where people suffer from what for them is utterly obvious - and are then told that it's all in their head. Doesn't that sound like a twisted nightmare science fiction tale? And what if they're NOT imagining it, and this is the beginning of the true plague that will wipe mankind off the planet?

    For all the pleasure her first few records have given me over the years, it really bums me out to hear that this is the way she's heading off into the sunset. The Q's adopted, raised by a wonderful ma and pa, better than I could have chosen from auditions. BUT, I've never once stayed dry-eyed when hearing one of Joni's greatest songs, from BLUE, about the child she gave up (and then reunited with many years later).

    Born with the moon in Cancer
    Choose her a name she will answer to
    Call her green and the winters cannot fade her
    Call her green for the children who've made her
    Little green, be a gypsy dancer


    He went to California
    Hearing that everything's warmer there
    So you write him a letter and say, "Her eyes are blue."
    He sends you a poem and she's lost to you
    Little green, he's a non-conformer

    Just a little green
    Like the color when the spring is born
    There'll be crocuses to bring to school tomorrow


    Just a little green
    Like the nights when the Northern Lights perform
    There'll be icicles and birthday clothes
    And sometimes there'll be sorrow

    Child with a child pretending
    Weary of lies you are sending home
    So you sign all the papers in the family name
    You're sad and you're sorry, but you're not ashamed
    Little green, have a happy ending








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    It's starting. We'll need your help, but it's starting.

    Everyone needs their White Whale, right? Ahab had his. Mine's the Green Flatbush Sheet Metal Trees. And the first strike of the harpoon has landed in their belly.

    It's been a long time coming, but the first steps are being taken to prepare the tree for its flowering by artist David Eppley. Those who recall (here), getting to this point has involved convincing DOT and the Community Board that this is the right way to go...for now. Rather than knock them down, which some would cheer and others boo, Eppley's plan was simplicity itself. He's going to use the basic structure and cover them with industrial strength handmade sign-stickers, so that it will eventually like (though not precisely like) this:


    Notice on the top picture, taken this morning, that the bent circle on the lower right has been taken down. It's currently being repaired by DOT's bridges repair unit, and other repairs will be made to ensure the structure is sleek and sound.

    Here's where you come in...the whole project needs about $10,000 all in. I'm gonna make a quick Kickstarter video and hopefully y'all can chip in $10 on up to help make it happen. Then everyone who gave will get their name on a plaque and we'll do an awesome "opening" party when it's done. How about dancing under the trees?

    Onward...


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    As a guy who generally prefers frozen yogurt to hot yoga, I'm probably not one to judge, so I'll just tell you what I know. As reported here, some well-respected Park Slopey yogi is moving to the space above the beer place near the BP triangle. And that has lots of people stretching for joy (see To Bikram or Not To Bikram, That Is the Questionram). Responses have been super-positive, and the large number of page-views leads me to believe there's a real yen for nirvana round here. So if you're not already "enlightened," I should probably hip you to a two year-old yoga studio that's already here and quite beloved.

    Vero Yoga, run by Linda Gastaldello, is at 208 Midwood between Bedford and Rogers, in the garden level apartment. I hear it's cozy and pro, with all the spiritual doodads and doohickeys you need to become one with yourself. There are several teachers and lots of times throughout the week, and get this parents, there's even KIDS yoga on Friday afternoons at 4.

    An added plus is that nearly all the teachers are living right here in Lefferts, so you'll be taking a class from a neighbor. Greer Davis, Philip Wilson and Jennifer Pinna all self-identify as Leffertsians. The Q sun salutes you all!





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    Don't forget! Monday's the big day to turn out in numbers, so your elected officials can see how many of you are concerned about recent development developments. Borough President Eric Adams will be there. Assemblyman Karim Camara. Reps from Yvette Clarke and the Mayor will be there. City Planning and the Brooklyn czar for land use will be there. Jessie Hamilton and Demetrius Lawrence, both vying for the vacant State Senate seat will be there. I'll be there. PPEN will be there in big numbers. Ocean Ave's Celeste Lacy Davis (known round here as Ceeledee) will be there, as your MC and host. I mean, if you're not there, you won't be there, you know?

    Last CB9 meeting, a resolution came forward to start the long-overdue zoning study of the neighborhood. A bit of jostling back and forth about process notwithstanding, the Board voted in favor of adopting and sending to City Planning to formally begin the process. The resolution, whereas's and all, is below:


    Please come up and introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you.

    tim


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    Recently honored for her work in the community, Vivia Morgan of Friends of Wingate Park alerted the Q of a Stop Gun and Gang Violence Forum being held at Borough Hall on Wednesday April 16 from 2-5 pm. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes, that's the same Vivia Morgan who ran as a Green and Anti-Prohibition candidate for U.S. Congress and Senate, and as the first Jamaican born citizen to run for Senate. Sure it was a longshot, but so's the lottery, and that doesn't stop folks from trying!




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    Last December, some of us hit the Parkside Plaza and asked you to sign petitions so we could get a permit to use the plaza in front of the Q at Parkside for a farmers market on Friday afternoons. The non-profit Seeds in the Middle is moving towards starting this market and operating two others in the community district - most likely at Hamilton Metz Field and the Empire Blvd entrance to Prospect Park.


    SIGN PETITION HERE

    If you're one of those fussy people who actually likes to READ a petition before signing it, this is the verbiage, which you'll also fine at the Change.org site.

    FARMERS MARKETS FOR PARKSIDE PLAZA and other spots in Community District 9 in Brooklyn.

    We, the undersigned, believe that equal access to good health and nutritious food is a civil right.

    We strongly support Seeds in the Middle's efforts to operate farmers markets in the Lefferts Gardens neighborhood and bordering Crown Heights.

    We humbly request that all elected officials, private & public foundations, corporations, public servants and all voters to support Seeds in the Middle’s applications for funding for a farmers market/farmstand providing affordable, quality fresh produce in Crown Heights and Lefferts Gardens. We support Seeds in the Middle’s bid to create local jobs by hiring residents to work in neighborhood farmstands or farmers markets. I pledge to buy at the market. If everyone really cares about our children, please fund these genuine attempts to make fresh food and agricultural products nearby and accessible to all residents of New York City, while supporting our local farmers. Our zip codes have the highest NYC rates of obesity, diabetes and preventable diseases due to lack of nutritious food. We have the right to have healthy choices nearby so our community will not get these devastating illnesses.
     
    One key element of these markets is making sure they're EBT/Food Stamps accessible for low-income families, since healthy eating begins at home, in the earliest years.

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  • 04/07/14--07:10: OMG! BOP! WTGPC! YCWGY!
  • Oh My God! Benches on Parkside! Way to go Parkside Committee! You're Cooking With Gas, Y'all!


    And don't forget to put the following on your calendar:



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    Why not ride your bike on over to Kingston Avenue on Thursday? The 71st precinct will register that AND your cell phone, so that if they're recovered they can get them back to you.

    Here's the added bonus...if you haven't take a stroll up Kingston Avenue to Eastern Parkway from Crown (where this registration drive is taking place), you're in for a real treat. This is the heart of the orthodox Chabad Lubavitch business district, and full of unique shops and delicious noshes. It feels very old world. And if you're not familiar with Hasidic neighborhoods, this is the one to visit first, IMO. Chabad is a very open sect, much more engaged with the outside world than say the Satmars of Williamsburg. That's not a knock against them...just an observation from a curious goy. There's even a great kosher ice cream and candy joint!



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  • 04/08/14--21:15: Thank You Lefferts
  • Thanks for coming out on a rainy night, neighbors. It was good to see you. All 400 or so of you. You can read about the night on Curbed, or Brownstoner, or my favorite, Brooklyn Paper. It's my favorite because I got quoted COMPLETELY IN CONTEXT. (I've always wanted to write that, and now I had my chance.) That reporter got my quote EXACTLY right and placed it EXACTLY how it should have been placed, with just the right punctuation and spelling.

    My phone died so I'm relying on pictures from those other stories. And frankly, I don't have much to add. People came and said their piece. I said my piece. Eric Adams, Kevin Parker and our good councilman all said their pieces, and kept it short and sweet. And Diana Reyna, the deputy borough president spoke too long, but that was cool. She's definitely the right person for the job, if my first and second impressions are correct.

    Okay. I guess I do have something to add.

    It's not just about the tower, folks. Never was just about the tower. Yes, I think it's ridiculous to build that tall right next to Prospect Park. For sentimental lovers of the Park, like the Q, this will always be a building I'll look at from some of my favorite spots and say wow, if I'd been more involved, if we'd all been more involved, if we'd had leadership around here, I wouldn't have to be looking at that thing right now. We let ourselves down on this one. (Oh, and I'm really sick of the argument that we must build up in this, the most dense neighborhood in all of Brooklyn. That and "building more units will bring down rents." What borough you been living in where that's been happening? We keep building and they keep on coming, and ain't nobody's rent doing anything but skyrocketing. Maybe property tax reform could help, a bit...but c'mon, ain't nothing stopping the rocket right now.)

    But if you still think it's just about a tall building, you're not firing on all cylinders. The tower is a symbol, a stand-in for all that's happening all around us. We've decided (and I emphasize we, I'm not calling anyone out in particular) that we're into growth for growth's sake and we think it's good to grow up, even if it's butt ugly, and we've decided that in order to get affordable housing built we must give huge tax incentives to developers so that they'll build 20% of their units that are sort-of affordable. Our borough president says that building affordable housing is his number one priority. Our Mayor says he's going to build 200,000 units, come hook or crook. And we all know that "affordable housing" is an issue, so that's a laudable goal, right? One that should trump all other concerns, right?

    But let me ask you one question, and then I'll call it a night. If you build the bulk of these 200,000 units of affordable housing using this same 80/20 model...doesn't that mean you're building 800,000 units of unaffordable housing? On top of the hundreds of thousands of units of unaffordable housing happening WITHOUT the 80/20 plan? Doesn't that add up to millions of new people? What EXACTLY are we saying here? And how much growth is acceptable? And how dense is dense enough? At some point maybe we should call it a day and cede the next growth spurt to Hartford...

    For those of us who are counting on NYC to not only thrive but to be culturally and ethnically and racially and creatively diverse...what EXACTLY are we saying? Let's cut through the bull for a minute. If you're not building apartments that are 50/50, you're waging a losing battle that you'll never win because you loaded the dice against yourself. And the actual poor, as opposed to the lower middle class? Why not do what some social workers do, and just send 'em Upstate? We have no need for them anyway. Let it be some other city's problem.

    What EXACTLY are we up to? Who the hell are we? Do we even know? Or are we just throwing more shit against the wall and hoping it sticks?

    We used to develop policy to help the poor. Now we build luxury towers, hold a lottery, hold our noses, and hope for the best.



    credit: Kizzy from Curbed
    credit: cate, from Brownstoner

    credit: cate, from brownstoner



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  • 04/09/14--08:11: Raise the Checkers Flag
  • Checkers. It's been tantalizingly close to opening for, what, a year now?


    This lonely DJ marks the grand opening. If you happen to go, please comment here on the quality of the fast food. I've never been.

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    Here's a new one worth checking out, especially if your life responsibilities don't leave you exhausted by 6PM on Sunday nights.

    Neighbors Moon and Sammy live on Beekman and are DJs who go by Sammy B and Rafie Mama. They're hosting a night at D Avenue (pronounced d'avenue, with a long deee,mon) from 8 to midnight. Check out the "chill" flyer and the "dope" font and "tripping" imagery:

    This would have been right up my pant sleeve 25 years ago. Please, shake a leg for the old man? Oh, and drink a beer on my behalf as well.

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    Remember Brooklyn Clean Bean, the coffee/cafe/hangspot that y'all helped support through a Kickstarter campaign? Well, the wait is nearly over, save a few plumbing finishes, over at 499 Rogers, corner of Midwood.

    My friends, I do like the new name - who doesn't need a reminder to be grateful? But it's pretty darn spiritual that we now have a Gratitude and a Blessings as the latest appointments to the Lefferts Coffee Delegation, along with Tugboat and TotT of course.





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  • 04/11/14--15:51: Fire On the Bayou
  • A neighbor snapped this pic across Ocean of a fire in the park.

    Wow. Imagine what would happen if a real serious brushfire started there? That never even occurred to me. I guess it would have to be super dry. Storms of Fire. And what if the other 9 plagues visited Brooklyn in this modern age? Everything from the frogs and flies to the locusts and lice. Actually, the lice seems to already be a thing. Here's a great website to check out if you're into nitpickers, or need your nits picked. Great music too! Apparently the Hasidic community has the nits running scared.

    Actually this would be a great opportunity to introduce you to the "Lice Lady,"queen of the louse killers. Abigail Rosenfied at your service. 

    A Picture Paints A Thousand Words





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    Come down to Bles$ings at 5pm for a gander at work by neighbor Christopher Jones Marino. Check out more work at his website. And the flyer:

    From what the Q can tell, the artist makes cool looking panels that can either stand alone or be used decoratively, say in bunches. But what do I know? I play guitar. I know nothing from resins and acrylics. Or panels for that matter. Though I've sat on panels before. Not LITERALLY sat on panels, though I've probably done that too and didn't know I was doing it.

    On a purely cursory googling I can see that coffee houses have long been associated with sedition and art, even seditious art. It might just be my particular perspective, but aren't coffee houses almost inherently "liberal?" Dunkin' Donuts, not so much. In "fact," the act of "dunking one's donut" has long been the pastime of fiscal conservatives. Social conservatives on the other hand or more likely to eat the donut dry. Both however prefer Tim Horton's or Krispy Kreme to the Northeastern sensibility of Dunkin'.

    It would appear that the caffeine jolt is conducive to "big ideas," and thus many great discoveries, inventions and political movements have their origins in coffee houses. The first encyclopedia and the London Stock Market were born in coffee houses. Remember the Green Party? Coffee House. Double sided tape? Coffee House. Liquid Paper? Actually, that was invented by Mike Nesmith's mom. Mike Nesmith was a member of the faux rock group The Monkees. Mike made some terrific solo records in the 1970's with his backup band called The National Band, not to be confused with the ueber popular "indie" band The National, which lives right here in Flatbush, though further south in Ditmas.



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    Not everyone loves cats, of course. The Q, however, has adored the little fuzzballs his whole life. After doing the old Trap-Neuter-Return thang in the compound behind my house here in Brooklyn ten years ago, I've had the pleasure of watching the colony dwindle in size NATURALLY. Once neutered, cats stop being stinky and loud, and generally enjoy their outdoor lives in relative peace. But eventually some dastardly dude throws out their pet and starts the whole dang thing over again. We're starting to see a few fertile ferals out back, and I'm hearing that pained screaming of kitties in heat. Ugh. Where's Michael "the crazy cat lady" Showalter when you need him? Come back Michael!!

    Over at the Q Gardens community garden near the Q at Church a couple felines turn out to be people-ready and need homes. From Elizabeth C:

    This older gentlemen is Morris! He was living in the colony but clearly was a companion pet in some past life. He was extremely ill with a respiratory infection and barbed wire embedded in his leg-- but even that couldn't keep him from being friendly and sweet as sugar. Now he is all healthy and ready for his own residence with a lap to curl into, and purrs to rumble the walls!
    Interested: Barbarathecatlady.org.



    And just when you thought it couldn't get any cuter, take a gander at these lovelies!


    These are the first set of Q Garden Kittens Remus and Romulus. They are seven weeks old, and playful and sweet! They were found in a basement where a super gave us an hour to get them. We swooped in, and the cuteness just kept coming. We'd like to keep them together, if possible.
    Contact is BarbaratheCatLady.org

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  • 04/14/14--08:32: Keep Your Eye On the Armory
  • Your name on this petition will help show that the community wants to retain a say over how the Bedford-Union Armory is developed. Please take a moment to sign so we can show numbers. We want to make sure we have a chance to weigh in before the City sells its development rights or leases longterm. A group has formed called the Community Armory Committee to create an alternative proposal. FYI, while the online petition is just getting going, I'm told by CAC that nearly 1,200 have signed the paper petition so far. So you're not alone.

    Over the past couple years, a lot of folks have become increasingly excited about plans to rehabilitate the Bedford-Union Armory (located oddly enough at Bedford and Union). From the moment it was announced that the big building, with its massive drill hall and ample grounds, would be turned over to the City from the State, folks have wondered aloud about the myriad possibilities. Youth center. Sports facilities. After-school programs. Even areas for seniors or arts or daycare. (One idea I hope has gone by the wayside is "roller rink." Seems we've got that olde tyme entertainment covered at Lakeside).

    But here's the catch. NYU grad students did a study, and the City released an RFP last fall, due end of January. We, the people, have yet to see the proposals. It's not clear yet whether we, the people, will have any say in what happens there. From the get-go, it's been suggested that there must be some sort of housing development component in order to pay for the overhaul. This despite the fact that the Park Slope Armory needed no such selling of development rights. I'm not necessarily sure the housing piece couldn't be an excellent trade-off, IF it were structured in a manner beneficial to the many residents seeking to stay in their neighborhood - i.e. that catch-all phrase "affordable housing." But why start from the supposition that commercial uses are necessary? Is that ALWAYS gonna be the story now, even as the City's coffers refill?

    Because, and I know not everyone agrees, the site has ALWAYS, until now, been in the hands of the people and managed with tax dollars. It's a friggin' ARMORY for chrisakes. Now that the State of NY admits it's no longer needed for military purposes, doesn't it make sense that the "peace dividend" be paid back to the neighborhood from whence many young men trained and fought and died for their country? Exactly how far back do people's memories go anymore, anyhow? This things was built in the time of Teddy Roosevelt. What do you think Mr. National Parks would have to say were he not stuck inside that South Dakotan cliff? I'll be he wouldn't say "give me some luxury towers to pay for that community crap"

    What I'm saying is that I don't think people have much vision anymore. The go-to line is "public-private partnership," under the guise of which really dubious decisions are often made. No one has the guts to put real public money towards projects, so they resort to an ass-kissing stance designed to keep donors and developers (redundant?) happy.

    I've got a better idea, so listen up powers-that-be! Why not put up $50 million bucks in public money IF a private donor comes in at same. That's right; match a billionaire's gift 1:1, and he/she can get their name on it. The purpose of the place will be for 100% public use on a scale far more equitable than what the YMCA runs in P-slope. Young people under 21 and schools can use the facility for free. Students over 21, free. Seniors, free. The rest of us, $100 a year for the family. Some groud-floor retail available. $25 million set aside for longterm operation and maintenance. 501c3 "Friends of the Armory" set up to raise funds for special projects and shortfalls. Once a year giant Armory Ball fundraiser - a fancy event for everyone, live olde time big band music - think "The Savoy," tickets starting at $50 up to $5,000 for a table and dinner. Might look like this scene from the '20s:


    I mean, c'mon, here's what it looks like now:


    Which reminds me, I haven't seen that great Lindy scene from Spike Lee's Malcolm X in awhile:





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    Sometimes landlords can't tell the decent folk from the bad, but they've decided to make the place more attractive to those willing to pay higher rents. So they do what any good racist would do, and try their darndest to switch out the blacks for whites. Much easier to determine race than character.

    Tomorrow, a press conference is scheduled to broadcast a lawsuit against one such building on Hawthorne. It's notoriously hard to prove racial discrimination. Let's hope the plaintiffs have their case in order.

    Tenants File Federal Lawsuit Against Landlords Who Target Black Renters

    Suit alleges violations of Fair Housing Act, New York State and New York City Human Rights laws 

    WHAT: Press conference announcing the filing of a federal lawsuit against a landlord who has aggressively harassed and targeted Black tenants in an effort to displace them from Prospect-Lefferts Gardens apartments.

    WHO:  Tenants, Flatbush Tenant Coalition, Attorneys from Legal Services NYC’s Brooklyn program, Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna, Council Member Mathieu Eugene
    WHERE: 414 Hawthorne Street, Brooklyn, 11225 (Map)

    WHEN: Tuesday, April 15th, 9:30 AM

    WHY: Tenants and advocates will announce the filing of a federal lawsuit against landlords who have aggressively harassed and targeted Black tenants in an effort to compel them to move so that their apartments can be rented almost exclusively to younger, white tenants. The landlords’ discriminatory tactics have included refusing to cash Black tenants’ rent checks for months on end and then sending rent demands for tens of thousands of dollars, refusing to make repairs, and bringing baseless housing court cases against Black tenants. Since purchasing these buildings a few years ago, the landlords have succeeded in pushing out approximately 20 families out of a total of 52. Plaintiffs (eleven tenants and the Flatbush Tenant Coalition) allege violations of the Fair Housing Act and the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws.

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    Word just in from the 71st - don't place your valuables in the lockers while working out. Too easy to bust 'em open, apparently. Everyone the Q's spoken to about Planet Phitness's Phat Albert's location is ecstatic to have a low cost gym nearby. Says local dad E.G. "I like getting in shape. And I like TV. What's not to love?"

    Also, Vinny reminds us not to leave our keys in the car. Apparently, so-called "Super Bandits" are able to open the door, enter your vehicle, turn the ignition and drive away. WITHOUT your consent.

    Be careful out there guys. It may be the NEW Brooklyn, but it's the same old story.

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    If you've been to the new Bles$ings coffee and herbs and flowers shop on Flatbush near Hawthorne, you've undoubtedly seen Tabitha Holbert. All the folks at the shop are super-friendly, and Tabitha especially so. As with many baristas across the City of Dreams, Tabitha has a primary talent that soaks up her other available waking hours; she's an actress and writer and probably a hundred other things as well.

    I know it seems like folks are always asking for money these days, but the Q is more than happy to spread the word. Look at it this way - fundraising campaigns are also marketing opportunities to let the world know what you're doing. And so, yes, give if you can to the making of her film "Bottleneck." But at the very least, give the video a spin to get a sense of what she's about. And maybe next time you see her steaming your latte, give her a thumbs up and a good luck.

    And man-o-man, that little girl actor seems quite special indeed.


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