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    Go here for the full package.

    Our Councilperson, Mathieu Eugene of the 40th District, doesn't have a website, after seven years in office. (Here's what's been under construction for three years.) His Facebook page has no resources on it, 41 likes, and a calendar from 2011. He's the chair of Youth Services at the City Council, as he likes to remind us, because he cares about the future of our young people. He sent out an email, yes on the internets, reminding kids to sign up for the City's Department of Summer Youth Programs application. Are there even any kids on his email list? Do kids even USE email anymore? Nicely done, sir! Ahead of the curve again!

    District 35, much of Crown Heights and Clinton Hill and Ft. Greene and Bed-Stuy, are represented by MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts) founder Laurie Cumbo. Thoughtful, funny and passionate, she's a go-getter, who believes in herself and the power to change things that need changing. She, like many other local leaders, has identified programs for youth as a priority, particularly those that can help guide a generation of kids "left out" of the hunt for social and economic success. (That's socio-lingo for brown kids get shafted, and sometimes a lift here and there along the way is crucial to avoid the negative spiral into a life of second or third class citizenship.)

    Can you believe we even have to SAY this thing about skin tone in 2014? Wouldn't the elder civil rights leaders of the '60s be stunned if they were here to see how poorly we've done? Look around I wrong to suggest that by a thousand little daggers the world is stacked against the average dark-skinned kid in America? We treat young black men like dangerous animals, jail them on minor offenses, and leave them there to harden and lose heart. We harass them, and cross the street, avoid their eyes, and shun their participation and labor. We expect them to behave like Barack Obamas at all times, though we permit white kids to rove the streets in long-haired packs and playfully tag it "adolescence." We insist the bright poor black boys attend "no excuses" schools, where they're taught to tow the line, not dream, play and make art. The more averagely intelligent black kids? They go to schools no white parent would dream of enrolling in. And when their mothers are single, we blame them for having the kids in the first place, and barely offer the real assistance they need. Cuts in housing subsidies, crappy or costly day-care, rare paid maternity leave. You're on your own sister...the dude that did it likely fits the description above, and the cycle continues, and the rest of us just pray your son doesn't stab us randomly on the street someday.

    As to that, do we even acknowledge how wildly rare black-on-white crime is? That's what we're really afraid of, isn't it? It's crazy rare, in a City that we're told suffers from racial violence. Even the criminals generally know to stay away from the white folks, lest they attract the attention of cops all too eager to cite probable-cause and move in for the jugular. No offense, but the traffic dragnet down at Church and Flatbush is outrageously racially profiled by its location alone. See any checkpoints on Henry Street, and Clinton, Hicks and Court, notorious race tracks? Thought not.

    Next time you see Laurie Cumbo, thank her for continuing to reach out in meaningful ways to young people. 

    As to Eugene? His most recent act as Chair of Youth Services was to honor the boy who was hit in the eye during a dreadful shooting last month. Here's what he says in his press release:

    “Gama Droiville is an inspiration to all of us.  Despite having been dealt great hardship so suddenly at such a young age, Gama has demonstrated incredible strength, compassion and resiliency.  Gama has an inner calmness and wisdom beyond his years that I firmly believe will lead to him achieving many great things in life.  As the Chairman of the Youth Services Committee, and a longtime advocate for our youth, I recognize Gama Droiville as someone whose heroic qualities make him an exemplary role model for all young people who may feel that life’s challenges are too great to overcome.”  

    That's right. While Laurie was compiling priceless information for young people, and reaching them over multiple platforms and in person, ME was honoring a kid for getting shot in the face. No offense, Gama, we love you. But this is not a productive use of the Councilman's mandate, the faith placed in him by a minority of voters in the primary (let's remember he did not reach the 50% threshold during the Dem primary).

    It's true though. If we could ALL get shot in the eye and react with an inner calmness, this world would be a much better place.

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    After many months of hard work, Rich and Annalisa are opening their homespun cafe on Rogers at Midwood.I took a peek in a couple days ago, and it's super sweet, with even a nice play area for the little ones.

    Address is 499 Rogers Ave, corner of Midwood Street. Saturday they're open from 8am-5pm and Sunday 9am-3pm (maybe later if they're super busy).

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    Here come the trucks

    And out come the handcuffs
    The big rigs were there, ready with tons of mixed concrete to pour into the foundation of 626 Flatbush, the 23-story monster tower going up overlooking Prospect Park. A few brave neighbors tried to block the trucks with their bodies, and at least a couple were arrested, according to reports. (by reports, I mean a couple people sent me emails, including Mrs. Q. What, you think this is CNN over here?)

    It's quite an impressive sight, seeing viscous cement goo poured over rebar to make a strong enough foundation for a building of that size. Granted, this process is done to mammoth proportions all over the Big Apple. But I honestly never expected to see such an enormous enterprise right here in Lefferts.

    To those wondering about the lawsuit, well, since Hudson is charging ahead with building, the judge will now undoubtedly see it's the time for a ruling. Apparently, said barrister was awaiting an "imminent crisis" to the community in order to rule whether the company had dotted its i's and crossed its t's on the way to getting nearly $100 million in government backed funds.

    I know there will be those of you who don't understand the despair and disgust being exhibited by the protesters, who see the building as too tall and too symbolic of takeover by forces outside the 'hood. But I do hope you'll admire their tenacity and fortitude. I for one am super proud to know that when folks feel the spirit of protest, they act on it. God bless America.

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  • 05/30/14--12:28: Coincidence?
  • Practically next door to 626 Flatbush lies 17 Chester Court, on the cute Tudor style cul-de-sac known as Chester Court. Less than a year ago, another of these houses went on sale for less than a million bucks. But according to hype-blog BK to the Fullest, this one just went for $1.5 million. Is it because of the wild decorating of the previous owners? Or is it the smell of upscale change for the neighborhood? Or the fact that Chester's on its way to historic district status? Or all three?

    FWIW, that kid who writes BK seems like a real snot-nose to me, creating his own universe of panicked buyers. He simultaneously pokes fun at sky-high prices while hawking his services to worried-they'll-miss-out brownstone buyers. He reminds me of those know-it-all record store guys who snicker at your lack of knowledge about the core cannon of not-very-popular music, then sells you a 10-record box set of European noise that you listen to once and use as a shim for an old dresser. I mean, I'm one to talk, snot coming out my nose and all as well. But for some reason, lots of folks love watching a slow moving accident in progress, like the wild run up in real estate prices. There's no small amount of schadenfreude going round, of course, since most folks won't be able to afford a house in Brooklyn anymore, and it'll be fun to watch the rich get duped into overspending. But hey, folks did that in 2008, and now they're starting to look smart again. And some, rumor has it, are ready to sell their way out of the nabe, out of fear and loathing.

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    Please note: the below should not be construed as conflating the protest with the judge's decision. The judge is looking at the merits of the suit, and while the protests are being watched closely by locals, politicians and the media, the judge is expected to rule on the merits of the case. The TRO basically says that by laying the foundation, there is imminent potential environmental harm to those cited in the lawsuit, i.e., the neighborhood. And thus, the fact that the defendant did or didn't conduct necessary reviews needs to be considered before Hudson can continue construction.

    In what appears to be a temporary victory for David against Goliath, or maybe little David against big David (Kramer), a judge this afternoon issued a temporary restraining order against Hudson Companies to stop pouring concrete til the judge rules, maybe two weeks hence. It would appear that Hudson was strangely eager to move things along, as they even started to line up the trucks before the legal starting time of 7am.

    Not long after 6am, neighbors heard the trucks a-comin' and alerted various folks in PPEN and the recently formed MTOPP. or (Coalition Moratorium To Protection of Prospect Park (no I don't understand that org's word order either, nor the letters used for the acronym), and a small but feisty group formed to try to block the trucks from entering. At least one person, Alicia Boyd of CMPPP, or rather MTOPP, also of the Sterling Street Block Association, was arrested. According to a trusted source, by later this afternoon, David Kramer of Hudson had showed up in court with a lawyer who actually made the odd choice to question the NY State Supreme Court judge's legal authority to issue a TRO. Well, the judge HAD that authority, and was more than happy to show Hudson how it works.

    Speaking of barristers, another lawyer, representing PPEN said it was quite possibly the first time in Brooklyn that a judge stopped a building from being built as of right, simply because a local community had come out against the project. And so...two weeks from now, we'll look for a ruling as to whether Hudson violated key provisions of its agreement with the State to use government-backed loans for construction.

    Stay tuned. The intrigue is intriguing..

    BONUS: A press release from Legal Services NYC to fill you in on details:

    May 30th, 2014, Brooklyn, NY—Justice Peter Moulton this afternoon ordered that the developers of a 23-story residential tower in Prospect Lefferts Gardens stop laying the foundation of the building pending his decision on a lawsuit filed by residents and community groups. The judge issued a temporary restraining order against Hudson Companies and Lettire Construction company after opponents of the tower argued that it violated state environmental laws.

    “Our clients are pleased that the judge has recognized the potential this tower has to cause irreparable harm to the surrounding community,” said Rachel Hannaford, Senior Staff Attorney at Legal Services NYC’s Brooklyn program, which represents the petitioners alongside law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. “We understand a TRO of this nature is rare and that its effect will be immediate and powerful.”

    David B. Bassett, Partner at WilmerHale, adds, “Our clients hope this decision will encourage Hudson to listen to their concerns, and be open to a more socially and environmentally responsible alternative.”

    Residents and community groups in Brooklyn’s Prospect Lefferts Gardens neighborhood filed suit in December, asking that the development of the residential tower in their low-rise, mixed income neighborhood be halted. The lawsuit against the New York State Housing Finance Agency, Hudson Companies Incorporated (a private real estate development company), and other defendants contends that more than $72 million in public funds were approved for the development without the proper environmental impact study required by state law.

    Community residents and organizations have formed a coalition to fight the development of the high rise luxury tower. The Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) is not opposed to new construction, but does ask that the development be contextual and respectful of the existing architecture and environment in the neighborhood. Petitioners also include the Flatbush Development Corporation, the Flatbush Tenant Coalition, the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA), and six individual community residents.

    While the area has always been mixed-income, the addition of the tower would change the rental market so that long-time residents living on fixed incomes would not be able to afford to stay. The new residents who would occupy the luxury tower would impact the nature of local businesses which have long served the economically and ethnically diverse community. Low-income tenants and businesses would be priced out of the neighborhood.

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    Frequent Q commenter The Snob has volunteered to share his culinary expertise in a column I'm calling Snobbnobbin', at least until I hear from the masked man himself that the name is simply too annoying, in which case I may call it Schwartz Shorts. 

    First up, a joint I'm sure you've seen in your travels...but how many have wandered in? Snob did, more than once I suspect, and filed this report:

    Opus 1
    1227 Nostrand Avenue

    Prospect Lefferts is not exactly a prime place for proper pastry. Respect to Tip of the Tongue for finally bringing serious croissants and pains a choclat, but beyond Lincoln Road, the best specimen you'll find is more likely to be larded with spicy beef or herring. These are the fine, flaky patties -- pates -- you'll find at Immaculee Bakery II on Nostrand. The Haitian bakeshop (their original location is down the road at Linden) has much more on offer than just bread. Start with the pate, a quintessential Haitian street food, and understand just what sets cuisine kreyol apart from the rest of the islands. A square of folded dough, rich with buttery layers, cushions a dollop of spicy meat filling. At just a dollar, it's likely the best flavor bargain in the ever less affordable NYC. "Just one?" you'll be asked when you order a single... and it's a good question. But beyond street eats, Immaculee dishes out more substantial fare, and it's a good place to dip into Haitian food. The steam table (and when you see a crummy restaurant grade in a storefront like this, it's always because of the steam table) is piping hot and stocked with a varied menu. There's griot, the roasted-then-fried pork dish made bright with snappy, vinegary shredded carrot and cabbage pikliz atop. Some fish in sauce. Black rice with pigeon peas and mushrooms. And most unique of all, legume, the Haitian vegetable mash that's akin to Indian saag in texture, and not exactly vegetarian -- there's usually some pig or crab frolicking in the green. Vegetables and herbs -- parsley and thyme anoint most dishes -- give Haitian food a Franco-African feel that's at some remove from the neighborhood's usual jerk and curry. Don't be intimidated by the language barrier, the customer is always right here, even when he's mixing the pwa nwa with the wrong riz. Most foods can be ordered by the dollar ("$5 of griot, please"). Just don't forget that pikliz!

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    If you've been sitting on the sidelines til now, but the whole darn thing has your Irish up for one reason or a-tuther, strap on your protest boots and head on down to City Hall this Friday the 6th at 1pm. They say a moratorium on new construction while zoning can be changed is a long, long shot. But making some noise is never a bad thing, when outsized development is breathing down your neck, and casting shadows on your shoulders. you feel strongly either way? Here's your chance to add your voice to the fray, in a way that would meaningfully demonstrate your true feelings.

    From the release:

    The Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) will host the rally on June 6, between 1-2 PM on the steps of City Hall, calling for a temporary moratorium on high rise construction along the east side of Prospect Park. The rally follows a decision on Friday by Justice Peter Moulton ordering developers of a 23-story residential tower in Prospect Lefferts Gardens to cease from laying the foundation of the building, pending his decision on a lawsuit filed by residents and community groups.

    Beginning in 2008, the area east of Prospect Park has become a magnet for grossly out of context luxury towers, including a proposed 20-story tower at Lincoln Road that has since been downscaled, and the proposed 23-story tower at Flatbush and Fenimore today.  Since 2008, Community Board 9 and residents of Prospect Lefferts Gardens have made repeated written requests to City Planning for contextual rezoning of this area.  In view of the delays involved in rezoning, and the imminent and ongoing threats to the character and affordability of our neighborhood, PPEN is calling for a temporary halt to high-rise development to allow time for the area to be studied and rezoned to match the height restrictions already in place along the other borders of Prospect Park.
    Neighborhood residents are concerned that the high market-rate rental prices proposed for the tower will cause a ripple effect on rents throughout the neighborhood, displacing residents and small businesses. In anticipation of these higher rents, landlords are warehousing apartments and small businesses are getting short-term leases. PPEN previously organized an April 7 Town Hall Meeting with Borough President Eric Adams, which drew over 500 residents, while a petition from PPEN calling for contextual zoning has received over 2000 signatures.

    During a meeting with neighborhood residents at his office on May 22, Council Member Eugene agreed to introduce legislation for a moratorium. Eugene also promised to seek a coalition with other City Council members in order to ensure a responsible approach by developers.
    City Council Member Mathieu Eugene, who represents residents of this area, will speak at the June 6 rally in support of a moratorium. Co-sponsors of the rally include the Flatbush Tenants Coalition, Lefferts Manor Association and the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association.

    Prospect Park East Network (PPEN) is a coalition of concerned Brooklyn residents and has the support of many community groups formed to address the out of context high-rise development at 626 Flatbush and the larger concerns it raises, including the urgent need for contextual zoning to preserve affordable housing, prevent residential displacement, and protect Prospect Park. These groups include: Lefferts Manor Association (LMA), Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association (PLGNA), Prospect Park Alliance, Flatbush Development Corporation, The Flatbush Tenants Coalition, Ocean By The Park Block Association, Chester Court Block Association and many other block associations.

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    Nice logo. Nice people. Great food. Local parents Doug Singleton and Shari Stadel have big plans for a bistro in the neighborhood. They'll be showing off their edible wares at a debut Pop-Up shop from 1pm - 6pm on Saturday, June 14 in front of the Maple Street School at the Lincoln Road entrance to the Prospect Park Q/B/S station. They'll serve smoked pulled pork sandwiches (from a family recipe) with local pickles, kale salad, veggie sandwiches of goat cheese with pickled tomato (and possibly baked yam fries). And they're serving the asparagus and gruyere tarts they’ve been making at home for years. You see, Shari and Doug love hosting friends and serving food. How do I know? I've been fortunate enough to tag along to a few Singleton/Stadel affairs, and I will attest to their skills with making good food and good vibes.

    Slightly related: if you were to take a guess what will be moving into the prime retail space of the Tom Anderson building going up on Lincoln Road, what do you suppose it would be? An insider has a pretty sure line...keep your eyes on the Q for more.

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    She's our very own Bill Nye the Science Guy, except her name is Carmen. And once again she's seeking your support as she builds up her non-profit Kiddie Science programs. June 21 at Lark Cafe, you can help support the cause. Go here to learn more about Kiddie Science, which often runs classes and programs out of the Montessori School on Rogers and Play Kids on Flatbush.

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    First, the Snob goes Snobnobbin'at a local bakery/take-out place, now this! Debra Kirschner is a writer-filmmaker best known for her indie feature THE TOLLBOOTH and a local gourmand who wants to encourage fellow PLG residents to try neighborhood eateries by offering to try them all first and give a full report to readers of the Q. More on Debra at
    For many of us who watched as Gino opened his restaurant next door to his long running pizza place, you had to wonder if and when it'd catch on But he stuck it out, and now I frequently ride by and see the place fairly busy. Cue drum roll...the first of what we hope will be many happy returns from the Prospect Lefferts Gourmand (PLG):

    Spotlight on Gino’s Tratoria and Brick Oven Pizza

    For 27 years Gino’s has been serving delicious Italian fare on Flatbush Ave near Lincoln Road. Beginning with one storefront that was primarily a pizza place and eventually expanding to include a sit-down Trattoria, this restaurant has survived and thrived through numerous shake-ups in the neighborhood. You get the feeling that no matter where PLG is headed, this restaurant will stay exactly the same. And that is a very good thing! This is the type of Italian restaurant every neighborhood needs, a place you can bring anyone to; kids, parents, grandparents, friends from college, relatives from the ‘burbs, and even Manhattanites will easily enjoy traditional Italian dishes like Chicken Marsala, Chicken Francaise, Spaghetti Bolognaise, Veal Parmigiana, Shrimp Marinara, Lasanga and my favorite, Chicken Pizzaiola. Everything is delicious and done exactly right. The portions are huge – great for sharing or a doggie bag AKA next day’s lunch. There are terrific daily specials like the Red Snapper I
    had the other day – fresh and cooked perfectly – tender and tasty – without any fancy bells and whistles that I usually find off-putting like heavy cream sauces or artisanal pickled whatever. Just the real deal.

    Gino’s feels authentic through and through from the moment you walk in and are greeted by the Italian waiter, to the fresh warm foaccia bread baskets brought to you soon after and the welcome presence of Gino himself – the owner, who wants to know what everyone in your party is ordering and will to speak to you extensively about what you might like. And he will stop by later in the meal to make sure you are happy!

    I highly recommend asking Gino about his early years in the neighborhood. He has some hilarious stories. I have no idea how many of them are true – but when I’m looking for a fun evening out, entertaining is way more important to me than true.

    Gino’s has live music some evenings, which is always enjoyable and never loud enough to overpower dinner conversation. There is a fun bar in the front where locals socialize and always seem to be smiling and laughing. The pizza place next door is great for a slice or a hero and both the pizza place and trattoria deliver.

    Definitely give Gino’s a shot. I bet it will remind you of the best Italian restaurant you went to as a kid. And if you grew up in Prospect Lefferts Garden, it IS that wonderful restaurant you went to as a kid!

    - Debra Kirschner

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  • 06/05/14--13:03: R.I.P. Meytex Cafe
  • One of the borough's true Ghanian "Chop Shops" is no more.

    Seems like only yesterday that an SUV rammed into it's glass windows. But that was over a year ago now...

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    They're back. The grooving DJ bash at D Avenue, with spinners Sammy Be, Rafie Mama and Uno Who Knows. Sunday night, 8pm - 1am. After a weekend of protesting and beach-going, you'll need a relaxed beer hang, right? Ain't dat d'truth?!

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    Want to know where the cool chicks and dapper daddies will be swinging at or around One O'Clock? Head to the Ocean, Ocean Avenue that is, for an event destined to make you feel prouder and happier about your home-nabe. Catch the wave, eat a donut. From the good folks at Ocean on the Park Tree Club.

    60 Tree Beds up and down Ocean Avenue need care and attention!
    300 Perennials (from Kings County Nursery) need planting!
    60 bags of Compost (made in NYC homes and green markets) needs spreading!
    1 HUGE pile of Mulch (from Prospect Park) also needs spreading!
    Gardening gloves, supplies & tools (from MillionTreesNYC and GreenThumbNYC) provided!
    Free Cider & Cider Donuts (from tomorrow's Grand Army Plaza Farmers Market)!
    Drawing for Kids prizes!

    We are the Ocean by the Park Tree Club and we are hosting a planting event - please join us:

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  • 06/07/14--13:50: Frothy Protest At City Hall
  • It was a damn near perfect day yesterday, Friday June 6. At 1pm, a 100 or more of your neighbors set their lunchtime aside to protest overzealous development in Lefferts and demand contextual zoning. The quick fix, say protesters, would be a moratorium of non-contextual building til new zoning rules can be established. The reasons they've become radicalized, these neighbors of yours, vary. Perhaps that's why it's so hard for some to fully appreciate the level of distrust and disgust being displayed. People are mad. REALLY mad. Cue quote from "Network..."

    A lot of folks have asked me what the protests about 626 Flatbush hope to achieve. I find the question perplexing, since by the time folks become organized and start making noise, they're usually pretty convinced that they've identified a problem and hope to mitigate its negative effects to the greatest extent possible. My point being that it's not one simple fix that's being presented, but a whole range of ways that the aggrieved could be made whole. Picture another protest with a totally different subject - a protest against the Iraq War for instance. A whole range of solutions might be presented - from using diplomacy to dismantling the military altogether - but that doesn't prevent the protests from being seen as anti one thing in particular. Or...rarely are grievances so easy to reconcile. Was it the one war? Many wars? The implications of the war? Anger over Gore's loss? An anti-anti-Muslim thing? About the past, about the present, the future. 9/11. I'm not saying 626 is a "war," just that it's implications go beyond the surface.

    Solutions aren't always easy, and in the case of a tower with both logistical and symbolic implications, you've got an awfully big target.

    Put another way, people are pissed, and feel shat on by the powers that be. PPEN has repeatedly stressed that they'd like to see Hudson drop the 23-stories to something more contextual. So in answer to the question "what do the protests hope to achieve," that's your best answer. A building of 8 or 9 stories, with just as many apartments or more, would be a huge victory. Add to that the gravy - more affordable units, stronger leadership from our electeds, more acknowledgments of the consequences of civically encouraging gentrification, the strengthening of rent laws and housing rights, even long-simmering grievances with the police...the list could go on and on.

    But as I've tried to stress from the beginning, when people gradually learned of the plan to turn a non-descript "tax payer" and parking lot into a giant tower with 80% luxury apartments, you could see many long-time residents and people of color react with disbelief and horror. I've seen the other side too - middle-to-upper-middle class parents of young kids wondering what's the fuss - isn't development and economic activity a great engine for raising all boats? When confronted with that sort of disparate reaction, you start to wonder - are we really so different in our basic assumptions that we see the world through entirely different lenses? It's got me rethinking everything I thought I knew about life in this City.

    Take the story of Kimani Gray (a piece in the Observer here), a young kid killed by cops early last year. He was shot with 11 bullets, and 7 of them hit. When I asked white folks or black the same question - do you think Kimani had a gun like the cops say - the whites mostly assumed what the cops said was true, and that the backstory, that Kimani was a bad egg mixed up with the bad folks, was substantively true. Not so with blacks. One person whom I respect a great deal looked me straight in the eye and said "Tim, he did not have a gun, it was "discovered" after the fact, and we're so used to that lie we hardly flinch when we hear it." A quote from that news story still swirls in my head:

    “Right now, if I have a problem with you, I wouldn’t call the police,” he continued. “People come inside here and rob me, and I would never call the police. Never!”

    Does that quote describe you feelings, whether you were a resident or small business owner? If not, you see things one way. Is it even possible to see them the other? Or are our powers of empathy and understanding that weak? Or do we, with all historical hindsight and wisdom, do what generations before us have done...assume the "other side" has it all wrong, and is simply too ignorant or brainwashed to see the truth.

    When a neighborhood changes dramatically, there are winners and losers. It's so easy, and so often reinforced politically and in the media, to say that increases in economic activity are always positive. Who doesn't love a nice restaurant and lawfully lively (and safer) streets, full of the things "we" like to shop for? But what if those very things that make YOU more comfortable and confident, breed fear and suspicion in others?

    And then there's your council person, mangling the term "text amendment" as if he only just heard what one is, and generally following rather than leading. Remember, two of the biggest responsibilities of the Council involve land use and budgets, and he's had 7 years to learn this stuff. God help us then, no matter which side of the ideological or cultural divide.

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    Man-o-man-o-manischewitz. With 3,000 names on the waitlist to see it (mine included, as a gawker), the leasing has begun for 123 On the Park, known to those of us with long memories in Brooklyn as the Caledonian Hospital on Parkside Avenue at St. Paul's Place. Read the full account at Curbed whose pics are below.

    At $2,200 for a studio (if I'm correct that still stands for one-room apartment), a single person living in one would have to make $90K to live there comfortably. The three-bedrooms (quite unusual in this day and age) will go for close to $4K. When I moved to 11226 in the early '00s, the median (that's middle of the pack) FAMILY income was just over $30,000. And most of the folks in what I call "Caledonia" were at middle or under. It was (and still largely is) a lower income area with TONS of pre-war buildings, largely rent stabilized (for now.) If I recall, the latest census in 2010 didn't have the median income budging up much. Amazing.

    Not that I can't see wanting to live there. It's an outstanding address, close to the Q and B, across from the Park, next to the Parade Grounds and within spitting distance of Prospect Park's own bizarre version of the "Acropolis." I'm not a stranger to these kinds of rents...but I never thought I'd see them this soon in this bit of Flatbush.

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  • 06/08/14--10:14: Two Shot At Party
  • Early this morning around 5:30am, two men were shot at a party at 539 Rogers, between Rutland and Fenimore. It would appear the wounds were not lethal.

    Party. 5:30am. Dispute. Alcohol and/or drugs. Access to a firearm. No good can come of that. Vinnie asked that if you hear of parties happening or about to happen outside of the usual "friends coming over" variety, you have his (and for what it's worth my) permission to call 911. In my experience of paying attention to these things, parties lefted uncheck are often the scene of horrific violence. And if come from out of town and you think you haven't the right because it would be culturally insensitive, think about whether you'd feel any differently if it were a bunch of frat kids while you were trying to sleep before a big day at work. Take a second to see if it's a happy party of friends and family at a decent hour or something wilder, particularly with younger folks. Where after-hours parties are concerned, you have more than a passing right to call and complain. Also, if you see flyers up about a party at someone's crib, that's an illegal house party, and not to be tolerated. These parties seem to act like gravity for trouble.

    You may disagree with the Q on this one, but I stand firm. Like I always say, we're the adults now.

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  • 06/09/14--07:14: Snobnobbin' With Mark S.
  • While his handle may be "The Snob," he's hardly a snob when it comes to what he dunks in his milk or coffee. I actually think the term "snob" might actually be an acronym for Smart Nice Ornery Boy. Only time will tell which of those adjectives and/or the noun stand up.

    Nostrand Donut Shop
    1449 Nostrand Ave

    Scientists say we are experiencing a peak level of extinction events around the globe, with over 200 species of plants and animals lost to time every day. You gotta wonder, how long will Nostrand Donuts last? This cheery counter (the very term, like "luncheonette," sounds antique enough to conjure a T. rex watering hole) has been in operation near the corner of Church Ave. since 1963. Inside, a bustling takeout business can't obscure the spacious, undulating counter and stools, arcing around the white-aproned staff like a slot car track. Have a seat, order a container of coffee regular, or light and sweet. Too much caffeine make you nervous? Don't worry, there's Sanka. The donuts are fresh, homemade, and while they are not the precious marvels you'd pay $4 -$5 for at Dough or Donut Plant, you don't have to wait in line for them, either, and as they say, the smiles are free. The cruller (the standard by which cake donuts should be judged) is crisp and savory, and cremes and jellies abound for yeast-donut fans. What's more, you can get almost anything you want for breakfast, so long as it's eggs, and sandwiches and soup appear in the afternoon. Show up with a couple of kids and you've won the lottery -- the multigenerational crew and owners John and Angela Pissias (baking here since 1974) will treat you like royalty and stuff the little ones full of donut holes. Service like this is indeed an endangered species. As are the prices -- a family of four can breakfast for less than a pair of tens. Add that to the sugar and caffeine and it's impossible to leave here unhappy. When you're done, push all the napkins and styrofoam over the counter to the waiting trash can. Leave a nice tip. So ends all things.

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    Hmm. Pilar Beauty Salon is about to get a huge makeover, to open in a month. or so. Don't remember Pilar? This should jog your closed only recently.

    A woman walking out of the place today noted that it would be a baked goods, sandwiches and grocery sort of place. Most likely of the upscale variety, if one can still read books by their cover in the Kindle age. I'm confused by that threesome - baked goods, sandwiches and grocery. If it's not a bodega, then it must be more like the old Green Grape's Provisions or Larder, right? The space isn't big enough for a Union Market. I'm still looking for someone with the balls to open a hair cutting AND sandwich shop. And auto parts.

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    Not in these heady times, apparently.

    Check out the leaflet being handed out at 626 Flatbush about Hudson and its contractor and subs...

    Along with the 23-story tower, we may soon be treated to a certain two-story inflatable rat.

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  • 06/11/14--10:26: Mango Seed From PLGourmand
  • How great is it that the Q currently has not one but TWO food reviewers? One male and one female to boot! Debra Kirschner clocks in with her second review, this time of local hotspot Mango Seed. Seems every time I walk by there's a nice crowd at the bar, and the few occasions that I've wandered in the staff is always friendly. One related thing - I've grown very fond of mangoes of late, and yes that seed is really something. Big as a baseball. And despite many attempts, I can't seem to cut and eat the delicious orange fruit without becoming soaked in sticky juice. I've seen Mexicans slice it up rápidamente with no muss or fuss, and come to think of it I do enjoy the Mexican mangoes the best. So, just thinking out loud here, perhaps I should ask a Mexican how to manhandle a mango. Off to do that now...take it away Debra...

    MangoSeed Restaurant
    757 Flatbush, between Clarkson and Lenox

    Caribbean flavors, fresh ingredients, delicious rum drinks and a backyard – what more could anyone want? This area gem serves dinner Tuesday through Sunday as well as brunch on Sunday with friendly Caribbean hospitality and fruity drinks that make you feel like you’re on vacation. My favorite meal is the Mango Pico de Gallo Jerk Salmon – it’s spicy and fresh and savory and fruity and just an all-around treat. Both Jerk Salmon and Jerk Chicken are delicious, but warning they are quite spicy. If you’re on the fence about how much hot you can handle, I recommend trying these dishes at brunch – where they serve waffles with jerk chicken, jerk salmon or coconut fried chicken. That extra dose of sweet from the waffles and whipped cream cuts into the spice perfectly. If you’re sitting there counting calories STOP! Walk around the park a couple of times rather than skip this experience, trust me. Also amazing at brunch – the Sorrel Mimosa. YUM! If you have no idea what Sorrel is, join the club. I had to ask the bartender and she answered me by giving me a sample. (This is why you ask bartenders everything!) Turns out, it is an herb that tastes like a fruity iced tea that’s yummy on its own but even better with champagne. Other dinner and brunch favorites include Braised Oxtail, Island Burger, Mac and Cheese, Coconut Smothered Fish with Cheesy Grits, and Jerk Fish Red Tacos.

    Like many restaurants, they enforce one of those annoying policies where they won’t seat you until your entire party arrives – and they don’t take reservations for more than four people – so tell your chronically tardy friends to hustle their bustles! But definitely tell them it will be worth the rush – the food is terrific and once you get seated the service is great. Friendly waiters and bartenders remember you from one visit to the next. But read the reservation policy on their website, they are no joke.

    A great strategy for waiting until you’re whole group arrives is timing that wait during happy hour. Mangoseed has some sweet happy hour specials – $5 rum drinks Tuesday-Friday from 4-7pm and10pm-close and on Saturdays 2pm-5pm. Drinks are delicious – and definitely not watered down. Just beware – you might find yourself so happy you fail to notice it is no longer happy hour while you’re still liberally ordering rum lemonades at full price. Happened once to a friend of mine... They also have tequila specials on Tuesday nights.

    This is a terrific place to go when you have something to celebrate and it is right on Flatbush between Clarkson and Lenox. Again – really – what more can anyone want?

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