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  • 09/01/14--19:55: A Great Day, Regardless
  • Yes, there was some trouble last night, and I'll quote the note from Vinnie below. But let me just say that to conflate the two - random stupid violence and J'ouvert and the West Indian Day Parade - is really knee-jerk. Every year it's a rush to blame the City's biggest celebration for the acts of a few knuckleheads with firearms. Considering that there's a party on every block for miles around, it's incredible there isn't MORE violence. I'm not forgiving it; I'm just saying that those who rush to judge probably don't go to the parade, probably don't come from the Islands, and probably have no idea how joyous an occasion it is for hundreds of thousands of non-violent revelers. An AP story went out on the wire to papers across the country saying NY West Indian Parade Marred By Nearby Slaying. What? Like there's not a slaying or three in Central Brooklyn every weekend? For some reason people love to knock the parade over this. I'm not buying it. Most of the violence is related to alcohol consumption anyway, not the parade itself. Sounds like this time around someone was more on dust. It's a terrible tragedy of course anytime someone is killed, and I don't mean to minimize that. But look at the times. 3:30 am and 5 am. Yes, J'ouvert kicks into high gear around those hours, but no reason to trash the whole shebang.

    My only complaint is the volume of the floats! As an aging rocker, I'm telling you that the volume coming off the trucks is actually incredibly dangerous. I know, I know, Islanders love their loud music. So do I!! But folks I know a thing about the terrible effects of sustained 125 plus decibel levels, and I have no doubt some floats are pumping levels closer to 140 or 150. I've seen little kids dancing around right in front of those speakers. So sorry if I sound like a namby pamby, but I think someone really ought to measuring the volume right off the stacks.

    Here's the police report, which I'm repeating only because it happened right in our backyard. My condolences to the family of the victim. (Note the menacing location of an unrelated firearm in the second incident.)

    Monday, September 1, 2014 at around 330 AM prior to the  Jouvert parade on Empire, one male identified as Derrik Goodings fired several shots from a handgun into a crowd of revelers for unknown reasons. Two individuals were stuck with bullets one with non life threatening injuries and unfortunately the other a 55 years of old male was struck in the chest and pronounced DOA at Kings County Hospital. Bullets also struck an unmarked Police van in which a Detective was sitting in shattering the window. Near by Officers immediately gave chase and one Officer fired a single shot at the perp. The perp was arrested after a short foot pursuit and a fireman was recovered at the seen.  

    Monday, September 1, 2014 around 5AM one 22 year old male was shot in the foot for unknown reasons inside the basketball courts located on McKeever Place behind Ebbets Field. During an evidence search one firearm was recovered from a garbage pale but we do not believe this firearm was used in this crime. Anyone with information please call the 71 Precinct Detective Unit at 718-735-0501

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    After a misguided attempt to place a principal of a failed school (PS22) into PS375 (and whose idea was THAT pray tell?), the zoned school for nearly all of Lefferts and Caledonia, the head office has stepped in and decided to take its time to find the right replacement for longtime principal Marion Wilson and her asst principal. Wilson will handle the transition in the meantime, not this lady, who stood less than zero chance of taking capable control of the school. (As an aside, PS22 was the school that PS705 took the place of, and that my first born attended last year. So I'm only talking out one side of my ass on this one).

    Thanks DOE. And thanks Chancellor Carmen Fariña. That's the right call, and all we parents would be mighty glad to see a new regime, some housecleaning, and a more progressive and inclusive strategy for all the neighborhood's kids. A fully integrated school will go a long way to closing achievement gaps, resource gaps, and encourage middle-class parents to interact with and better understand their direct neighbors. Let's hope for the best!

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    They're called Shamco. It's more and more likely that if you rent an apartment in central Brooklyn it's owned and perhaps operated by a company like it. (Like Pinnacle, as the Q recently reported and listed local buildings owned by 'em.)

    A flurry of buying in the past three years has meant more and more buildings in the area are owned by companies building massive portfolios. Used to was landlords owned one, two maybe three buildings. But it's now the norm that your large apartment building is owned by a major real estate concern, often one that manages as well. Why the sudden interest in long-neglected properties? Well, they're worth more, and potentially a LOT more, should most of the units leave rent stabilization.

    At the end of this post is a list of the Shamco buildings we're aware of, via the Flatbush Tenants Association.  We know there are more, and would love to hear from tenants in Shamco buildings - please email me if you write a check to Shamco.  Technically owned by a bunch of different LLCs, all ultimately owned by "Shamah Properties LLC"

    I sat down recently with Aga Trojniak of the Flatbush Tenants Coalition to discuss the state of affairs, and folks, it's as dire as a raging fire for many un-savvy tenants. Buy-outs are rampant, allowing landlords to bump up rent drastically, and by renting to a young mobile person they're chances are good that the tenant will stay just a year or two and they can bump again. Better yet, slap a few cheap renovations around, publicize it somewhere like this. The dollars being offered for buy-outs are not great compared to the cost over the long-run of higher rents. Unless you're actually planning a move out of town, they're really not a good deal at all. A building's worth, after all, is judged by current rent rolls, and right now buyers are overpaying and over-leveraging. So the landlord or holding company has the perverse incentive of making life miserable for tenants, or offering whatever sum they can negotiate to move. And folks, don't take the first offer if you DO consider moving. You're in the driver's seat on the price, though that's little solace for being targeted for displacement. 

    The Q can finally see where the REAL work needs to be done, if all this talk of affordability and displacement is more than just talk. We, all of us, need to be invested in helping people stay where they are. The Crown Heights Tenants Union and the Flatbush Coalition have it right - we need to use our resources to create unity, where right now, folks are pointing fingers and making accusations about each others character. I choose not to digress right now.

    Aga has this advice:

    If tenants in these buildings are experiencing harassment -- no repairs or bad repairs; late and legal and other fees; mci increases; frivolous court cases, etc.  they should contact us, either by email at, or by phone at 347.232.5417.  Tenants from different Shamco buildings are joining together and fighting back -- we are filing group overcharge complaints, security deposit complaints, and getting building-wide rent reductions for decreased services.  

    To get their rent history, tenants can call DHCR, the state housing agency, at 718.739.6400.  Press 1 for english or 2 for spanish, then press 7.  Then ask for your COMPLETE rent history.  It's important to say complete, otherwise you won't get what you need.  Once you get your rent history, if you see a big jump in the rent (more than 30%) between you and the person before you (or between two other tenants), call us!  We can help you figure out if you might be overcharged.  If you are, you can get your rent lowered and your money back.  
    Do you live in a Shamco Building? Here's some of them (not all), and remember the focus of this list is deeper into Flatbush, but not by much. 

    1082-1092 President St
    1026 President St.
    1 St. Pauls Ct
    200 E 18th St
    2015 Foster Ave
    215 Martense St.
    255-259 Martense St.
    350 E 19th St
    538-546 E 21st St
    543-549 E. 21st St.
    75-89 Hawthorne St
    860 Ocean Ave
    1702-1722 Caton Ave
    50 E. 19th St.
    1911 Dorchester Rd.
    1901-1907 Dorchester Rd.
    65 E. 19th St.
    2110 Newkirk Avenue
    690 Rogers Ave
    566 Parkside
    558 Parkside
    2101 Bedford Ave
    1204 Ocean Ave
    1553 Ocean Ave
    2574 Bedford Ave
    79-93 Bristol St
    1650 Pitkin Ave

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    The building, Joseph Chetrit and David Bistricer, the owner/developers

    The former Caledonian Hospital has hit 50% capacity. That's right, 123 on the Park is now half-way full, w/ it's studio starting at $2,250, according to Mark Mauer and the Real Deal.

    I don't know what more I can say. Except that when I started writing this blog, I was bitching about how awful it was that someone would let that building decay, garbage, graffiti, weeds. That seems like a lifetime ago. And in many ways, it was.

    Here's a post from the archives in 2010.

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    From 123 on the Park's Website; Nothing Says Brooklyn Like Trendy Hardware!

    What's up Lefferts? How you feeling? And Caledonia - hitting your stride? So many shiny new apartments at 123 on the Park, with even ANOTHER new building going up next to that fully renovated erstwhile Caledonian Hospital. (A lot of people DIED there you know. Poltergeists abound - beware!) More than a dozen new residential projects coming up. New stores opening all the time, lots more to follow. Neighborhood groups have started to seriously organize, even becoming ferocious at times, flexing muscles too-long atrophied, around the changes that threaten to alter the neighborhood for decades. IMHO, it's a heady time.

    Also IMHO, IHOP has deeelectable griddle cakes, FWIW

    City Planning finally answered our phone calls and took up the task of rezoning. The Community Board has its first new leader in decades, Dwayne Nicholson, and tons of new members. The Haunted House of Clarkson is gone (some say its Poltergeist moved to Amityville out on the Island). Just minutes ago, I passed two wood-frame houses knocked down to make way for lux rentals. Just a few weeks ago I had looked at them thinking "I'll bet those aren't long for this world." The neighborhood is full of wood houses serving as multi-family apartments, and they'll go in ones and twos and threes, probably by the end of this year. The Brooklyn Frenzy is such now that we're all spectator speculators, and it seems IMPOSSIBLE to imagine anything but up, up, up. Or down, down, down, depending on your perspective. People are flipping again, big time, and flippers are flipping-out over their quick-fire returns. MTA fixed the worst failings of the Q at Parkside station, though they didn't put in the chandeliers I'd requested. The long moribund merchant's association on Flatbush has risen like a Phoenix. Lefferts Manor indie-film director Jeremy Saulnier's recently released movie "Blue Ruin" is critical smash and a delightful hoot - rent it and see. Our longtime State Senator now calls Borough Hall home. The Lakeside Project opened and continues to shout "well ain't I the Jewel of the Park" as you stroll about its manicured glory. There's hope for the Jackie Robinson school for the first time in ages. More epresso places than you can shake a cold brewed iced coffee at. Cocktail bars? Egads, where ARE we living? Flatbush, or Paris?

    Sounds like it's time for a bit of Q-nalysis®.

    Q-nalysis® in action. Picture of ClarksonFlatBed in his younger more Amish days

    The fact of the matter is, as much as I like to myopically muse about the macro and micro of it all, it's just capitalism doing its thang, gobbling up stuff and turning it green, creating and extending wealth, ownership being the mother of capital, and capital breeding more capital, and so on and so forth. We're not that unique; there's nothing all that special about what's happening here, other than this time it's our turn, and central Brooklyn plays it loud and proud, and we experience it in real time through frenzied media, mostly ivory-tower educated media, media who are often tone deaf to the ever-present twin specters of race and class, because they (we, I) are from that class and have never been particularly adept at identifying and relating, or frankly even bothering to ask those most affected, beyond reading the right books and watching the right movies. To which you say "get over it Q, why not switch topics in your long-winded essays?" and I wouldn't even if I could because this journal is about trying to find understanding, and besides I know you're all talking about it privately anyway. So can't we all admit that not that much else matters quite so much? Equality, justice? Peace, love and understanding? Heady stuff.

    Making money, spending money, making love, making babies, making art, making science, making war, making peace...we humans are remarkably predictable. What else IS there really to put at the top of the agenda, besides the pursuit of decency and fairness? It's WAY more important than where we're going to "summer" this year, our kitchen renovations and the remarkable acceptance of pork belly on the American dinner plate. Family. Family is important. That I'll give you. Health. Our primary relationships with spousal types. Preserving the right to protest the things you believe are wrong. The right to vote. Even if we're wrong when we protest, and even if we're right. To speak out, to gather together, to decry and to cry. Openly.

    Enough jibber-jabber. Let me lay it out plain. It bugs me when folks keep their cards too close or obfuscate with bad poetry. So I'll tell you where my thinking is at, and you can weigh in accordingly. (Btw, a super good read here from Tom Angotti, the guy who spoke at last week's forum at Tafari Cafe.)

    Build wisely on Empire Boulevard, say I, since in all likelihood you're going to do it anyway. Let's be real about that. Not too tall please - that kind of density can severely strain the neighborhood and Manhattanize what could continue to be a highly livable stretch of Kings County. The proximity to public transportation makes it ideal for density, since many people won't need cars to live there, putting less strain on pollution, carbon emissions, traffic and parking than otherwise would-be. And with plenty of subsidized units for affordable and middle-class folks, it could be done in a way to benefit the whole City, meanwhile allowing more people to enjoy the fantastic amenities of the nabe, namely Park, Botanic Garden, Lakeside, Carousel, Zoo, Museum etc. You've benefited, right? No reason to hog it all. This is where the City is heading in every community district, so let's not pretend we'll be immune, or even should be. We have terrific assets, and have already landmarked tons of our nicest streets - maybe more can get a move on. And anyway, right now, a developer could come in, pay for their own zoning study, and likely go ahead with whatever they want to build, since the powers-that-be are simply not going to see Empire as worth preserving. What, you want a historic district for the Western Beef? Get serious. But I'm prepared to be swayed. That's kinda where my thinking is at, because I don't believe that alienating every possible partner, from the BP on up and down, can possibly benefit us pragmatically, though I'm super psyched to see motivated people showing their dismay with smarts, tact and volume. I have ideas of where energy can be poured if you're not among those interested in protesting buildings or zoning, and I'll get to that in a post real soon. (As in, we could spend our energy organizing and informing tenants of their rights.)

    Lest you think my position on Empire runs contra my stance on 626 Flatbush, you're wrong. I never said I didn't want a building there...I just think it's a big mistake and perilous precedent to start building tall along the park. Right now, 16 feels tall. 23 will feel monstrous. I'm not kidding; it will. Til we get used to the new normal, and that's the problem. Once you create a new normal, you're stuck with it. Generations to come are stuck with it. That project was snuck right by us. On the perpendicular, up at Empire, we're having the Empire conversation now, not later, and will likely see zoning changes (or none) before any building takes place.

    BUT...and this is a mighty big butt...

    Those are issues of City Planning, density, design, aesthetics. And were new buildings designed for ALL, and all had equal access, we wouldn't have to question who's building them and where the money comes from. Money didn't exactly rush into this neighborhood until market makers saw the "whites" of our eyes. Capital resides with the powerful, and the powerful are white, and they build white. No one goes around designing neighborhoods to be black. Neighborhoods BECOME black. They "succumb" to blackness, ever since the Great Migration. In fact, nostalgists talk of Flatbush's glory days, and they're not talking the 1970's. Flatbush was a dreamland, they say, Ebbets field a sanctuary, stick ball on friendly streets, elegant movie palaces, great delicatessens, the world's greatest High School. Brother loved brother. An ethnic Shangri-La. It was all so grand, and then...and then...

    The "then" in that story is bullshit, almost as much hyperbole as the dreamscape part. The neighborhood has always been wonderful, full of families raising brilliant and loving children, right on through to today. I keep meeting them, these old-timers, and they blow my mind. Yes crime was higher. Yes there were problems. But Flatbush has always been a great place to raise a family, even when, or maybe especially when, it became a haven for blackness, black consciousness, black ownership. You don't get that part of the Brooklyn story in New York magazine. You get shit. Shit story after shit story full of shitty people saying shitty things. (I'm leaving out the NY Times here cuz that's my paper, but you read a lot of shit in there too.)

    As to "affordable housing," I wish someone could wish that phrase away. You simply cannot build your way out of 40 years of NYC's economic resurgence. EVERYBODY is being priced out, save a few lucky souls. We are huge, and getting bigger and richer. Was a time you could build housing projects or create a program or two and people would be housed, if not for life, then damn close. And their kids too, by succession. But we Americans just don't think that way anymore. No one stays in their job for but a few years, no one but maybe the City offers a pension, and no one designs ANYthing with a lifetime in mind. Not even the low-income units in the new 80/20 projects will be affordable forever. 20 years? That's like, a single generation. It flies by. By the time you're ready to retire, or send your kids to college, your rent's gonna shoot up. And let's face it, not even today's nicest new houses are built for longevity. They fit today's owner, but will likely come down when the trends shift. Or become tomorrow's version of tenements. World events could make that happen sooner than later. WWIII? Think we're immune?

    What else have we learned? Here's one. The renter is not a full citizen; the landlord is. Sound familiar? Plantations and share cropping, anyone? Maybe that's too severe, but the dynamic is the same as it ever was. The folks on the hill, the peasants. Is that more palatable? Thing is, now the peasants are being joined by the merchant class as the castoffs, though the merchant class is predominantly now in the business of "services," handling and talking about stuff related to things but not actually making or selling the things, then buying lots of things made by child labor with money made from handling and talking about stuff that they can use and talk about when they're not working at not-making things. The renter is a statistic in a game of give and take between government and industry, and has no real power save rent stabilization (til it's taken from him), except maybe to write on the walls or leave the apartment a wreck, only further incentivizing the landlord to renovate and raise rents.

    By the way, we made it like this. This is OUR doing. So is the racism that passes for not-racism. We did it. We made the Michael Browns of the world a problem because we ignored and dehumanized the Michael Browns, like we ignore the de facto segregation of our society by championing the achievements of a few assimilated blacks at the expense of the many. ("If we must endure a black president, then surely we must be allowed to knock off a few smart talking black punks, right? Just to keep things real?" Who needs the KKK when you got the nightly news and the DEA? There's some solid scholarship behind that statement by the way."The New Jim Crowe" is not hyperbole. But neither does it take into account ALL the ways the 1% screw the 99%, black and white and red and yellow and well-tanned. Only with the Crown Heights Tenants Union am I seeing a coalition that can really change the game - the white middle-class and the black underclass. NOW you could make some noise. But the powers-that-be keep us at each others throats, or at least at a distance. Course, we do plenty of the dividing ourselves.

    Just revving up now...

    While we're on the subject of blacks in 21st century American society, how about that rap music, and that language? So nasty! So vulgar! Well, I ask you, what kind of music would YOU make if you had zero power in the most powerful country on earth? Polkas? Smooth Jazz? No, you'd make the most muscular, nasty, powerful and scary music you could produce, the bass right up your ass. And you would DEFINITELY not smile. You'd scowl and emulate prison gangs, and ignore or denigrate the squares, and sag in tune with the gravity that is no jobs and no prospects. Except trying to become a rapper, which is...well, masculine and strong and silver-tongued or gold-muscled. The suburban white kids LOOOOVE this stuff. It flies into iPhones like Aderall into the bloodstreams of finals-takers. But for the richer, suburban younguns, it's all a fantasy, like Grand Theft Auto V, or X or whatever it's up to now. Hey, I'm not crazy about the mean spirited language either, but Tupac was a poet, and those in the know will tell you so. He's even got his own musical now, so you KNOW he's got the goods. You don't make it to the Great White Way when you're black unless you've been martyred and sainted. Last week I saw two Asian kids calling each other nigga. Now I know for sure, that is NOT the same word I thought brothers were saying when that trend started, though it can still send chills if you let it linger on the brain.

    Ah hell, now I'm off the rails again. Look, they're going to acquit a scared cop out in St. Louis, and the reaction is gonna be big, not because he did anything that 1,000 other cops wouldn't have done, and not because of anything particular to the story. But it may just be big (it is already) because it's one too many for the camel to carry. Face facts: if one white teenager got killed that way, it'd be a tragedy. If TWO white kids got killed that way, they'd call it sinister. If THREE white kids got killed that way, they'd call it an epidemic, and a national panel would be convened and millions or billions spent to correct the problem. For years though, we've merely scolded the cops, and told them to be more careful. "What are you gonna do?" That's it. Be more careful. And we let it go. Not everyone is gonna let it go this time. Or the next.

    Postlogue, as the blood rushes to the Q's face.

    Did Michael Brown go for the officer's gun? Did he physically assault the officer? Are you NUTS? That's suicide. He didn't want to commit suicide. He was going to go to college, had big plans, had friends and family. He had a bunch of Swisher Sweets and some weed to smoke. Like almost ANY other 18 year old. Wait for the investigation? What investigation? There's no real "investigation" when the investigators are the ones trying to save their ass! And the jurors think like the officer. Think about it...does any of the "defense" ring even remotely true? Did the initial story the cops told even make SENSE? Damn we live in some craaaazy times if anyone buys for a minute that this isn't a clear case of the State using its ultimate authority to shoot a man in cold blood. Not that you can't feel for Darren Wilson. He grew up in this backward culture. It's like hating the early presidents for owning slaves. It was just like that. And now, it's like this. It's just like this. The wheels of human progress suggest it can't be sustained. Like this.

    If your nephew can marry his boyfriend, we can figure out how to stop the war on young black men. But a little compassion will have to come first. And that seems absent sometimes, when its whites, thinking about blacks, who are only ever shooting each other in our thoughts, not raising families and working hard to get ahead. When we don't even go to school with each other. If, when you think of young black men, the first things you think of are drugs and violence, then you know exactly what I mean. We can do better. We have to. We could start by remembering that dignity for most men is signified by a job, earning money, supporting a family. That may sound old-fashioned, but we really can help make that happen, and the effect could just be astounding. A new WPA. Even just acknowledging that those last to be hired and first to be fired will languish and suffer, and we will all pay the price.

    Instead of punishing welfare moms, how about dignifying the whole human race with a Works Progress Administration for 2014? Try it for a bit. If the effects aren't noticeable, I'll be a monkey's uncle, and you can always go back to barely good enough.

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    Crazy. I didn't even know this tape existed, and it took being called out by Alicia and MTOPP to finally hear it. If I were a real journalist I would've of course. But I'm not. There, I said it. Again.

    The folks behind MTOPP have been telling us that Eric Adams has already decided that Empire Blvd will be "upzoned" for tall buildings. Leaving be the fact that "upzoned" is not the right term for going from commercial to residential (mixed use is the politically correct term apparently, though the money's in the housing), it would appear that in order to build "affordable," you must go high (look at 626 and scores of other buildings throughout the City). If low is what you want, you'd have to go market. But we all know where the City stands on that issue. They get none of their 200,000 units of affordable by building market rate.

    So MTOPP has a good point. If you don't want tall buildings along Empire, you should resist the zoning process, because (as Jesse Hamilton says in the below recorded conversation with MTOPP - his name is spelled Jesse by the way) it becomes a bait and switch the moment you get down to the Mayor and Council. Even if you decide to build six stories max, there are plenty of points along the process where one can use one's political clout to say "but what about the poor?" and get one's way. As it turns out, "helping the poor" has become somewhat synonymous with Eric's mantra of "build baby build." None of this is a surprise to me, and may not be to you. But let's get that all front and center. Where you stand on this issue should be informed, and Jesse and Alicia lay out pretty well in the tape. Just press play.

    A lot of the other statements on MTOPP's website are questionable in their analysis. And I think that calling Eric Adams, and the Community Board, and City Planning et al liars (and me a racist) aren't going to win them any favor with any of 'em. But that's not their point, and if you haven't been around for a good ol' protest movement, strap in becuase it appears they're going for the gusto.

    BUT, the facts is the facts, and Jesse, longtime confidant to Eric, states them plainly. Let me state that this is not, as MTOPP claims, a smoking gun. Jesse is not heard saying that Eric already has plans to build high. However, what he is saying, and he would know, is how the process works, and why we should be cynical.

    One last point. Jesse makes the case that what's happening here is analagous to what happened in Park Slope vis a vis 4th Avenue. He's right on target, and I've said so publicly many times. He says, and obviously it's what this crowd wanted to hear, that the rich upper Slope sold the lower Slope down the river by asking for downzoning, and let 4th Ave go higher. I would like to see more proof, rather than be another rumor monger, but it's quite likely true. People felt about 4th Avenue the way a lot of us feel about Empire.

    What I find troubling, and maybe some of you would find offensive, is the idea, expressed by Hamilton, that Lefferts Manor (a/k/a the Mansions as kids call it who go trick-or-treating there) would do what Park Slope did to 4th Ave. Sell it down the river, because Empire is "primarily people of color." That's a big assumption, and it hasn't been tested. Plus, there's lots of people of color in the Manor already. I would be more careful in the future not to label it "us against them."

    I stand with Eric Adams because I think his heart's in the right place, and I think he's someone you can work with. If he's been talking out of both sides of his mouth, and it can be proven, I will be very bummed. But I don't see that here. Someone else want to shoot some gunsmoke and catch some real meat? Hey, the truth is the truth.

    If you're white, and all this talk of race and class makes you uneasy, please stick with us. Maybe you grew up in an almost all-white place like I did in Ames, IA, and you feel like this is someone else's battle. I urge you not to take the fierce rhetoric to heart. In the end, it's up to us to decide what we want from our elected officials, and what we're willing to stand up for. And if you disagree with my analysis, and your name isn't NoSlappz or ParksideGuy, then I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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    Insiders tell me that the first choice to run mediocre school PS375 was the former principal of failed school PS22. Protests led to her dismissal before she even started. The new choice, it would appear, is no great shakes either. She comes without recommendation and is yet another friend of dismal District 17 superintendent Buffie Simmons. What gives?

    I'm also concerned that this principal has started the year making noises as being "anti-gentrification." How is this helpful to the state of the school? People are already here, and they want to go to public school. You are the principal of their zoned school. Are you suggesting that you don't want white or middle-class kids in your school? Even if you hold this opinion privately, you're stoking flames by stating it publicly.

    This, as you'll learn if you haven't already started looking, is among the greatest problems in the DOE. There is no coherent strategy to see that our schools reflect the neighborhoods they're in, OR, in the case of all one demographic schools, encourage enrollment from outside. And so you, dear parent, will likely end up going out of zone with your kid, like hundreds of families before you. And no will complain, because once you go through the process, it's no longer your problem.

    If you'd like to register your concern that yet another principal is going to fail the Lefferts Gardens neighborhood, I urge you to write me a note. I'll collect the email addresses and give you a sense, after I hear from the Chancellor, how best to register those concerns. Email here. Oh, and forward this post please. Argh.

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    So you're wondering whether to vote on Tuesday? Check out this piece on Diana Szochet, if you happen to wonder who would be an excellent choice for Civil Court Judge. You know, judges. The line on the ballot where you make a decision based on the name? I've done it; you've done it. Lesby real. (I'm not voting for someone named Lipschitz, no matter how fabulous is the whole Lipschitz family. Or maybe I would. My generation is big into "contrary," which is why we all end up doing the same things and using the same "unusual" baby names for our children.)

    Look, I don't know lipschitz about Civil Court law. I know that Diana Szochet has been endorsed by people I respect, and I know she's spent her whole life worrying about people that society leaves behind. I guess you could say she's very pro Pro Bono. Plus she's the only candidate who has been vetted and approved as qualified by all possible vetting orgs, like the NY and Brooklyn Bar Associations and even the Independent Judicial Election Qualifications Commissions, which is another way of saying she put herself out there for close inspection by her colleagues, and she passed muster.

    But please, just remember this. Whomever you vote for, just don't vote for Sharon Bourne Clarke. She's been deemed "unqualified" by that same IJEQC. And she sounds like she's running as a Clarke (her married name) despite spending most of her professional life as a Bourne, because to be a "Clarke" around these parts is really something. Remember what I said about choosing judges based on name? She gets that. Don't be fooled.

    I know, I know, you probably haven't lived here long enough to hear, but Una and Yvette are like demi-goddesses in the political world. Not that either of them is or was a particularly good elected official, but apparently in the Caribbean world, their word is to be followed like Ting after jerk.

    See you at the polling place! Okay, so if I actually do, it's unlikely there'll be a sea of faces between us, so remember...your vote really does count in these off-presidential primaries. Drink Ting! Vote Szochet!

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    A slow, steady mom-and-pop change from economically depressed and desperate to vibrant and friendly and profitable. Just the natural order of things. Another day in the life of a neighborhood restoring itself to former health, respecting the rich tapestry that is its heritage, while building on what's best.


    How's about a full-color digital marketing brochure to sell the displacement of six local businesses into a shiny new walking mall that will "bring the neighborhood together on an artisanal plane." I kid you not, that's what it says on the last page. Read it again. Wow.

    Read all about the Bawabeh Brothers development scheme in the Daily News.

    By the way, this block is right across the street from the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration complex, the Robert Kennedy approved "Special Impact Program" attempt to bring the neighborhood back from the scourges of the ghetto. What a difference 40 years since its opening makes...I wonder what will become of the BSRC complex itself?

    There's no reason to fault or even comment on the company proposing the changes and denigrating the current retailers. It's just biz as usual. Except to say that those who think reinvestment in a community is anything less than coordinated and viral would miss the way Bed-Stuy has been marketed and sold. Perhaps most galling is this statement right on the first page:

    "The neighborhood has emerged as a hotspot for arts and culture."

    Thank goodness! I imagine then, that artists, musicians and writers will start to take inspiration from this cultural backwater. About time! So little of any worth has come from this god-forsaken hellhole!* Laptoppers, start your operating systems!!! Time to put Bed-Stuy on the map.

    *google it. Nope. Nobody. Nothing. And if you include parts of Ft. Greene and Clinton Hill that USED to be known as Bed-Stuy, well, now you really know the meaning of cultural desert.

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  • 09/08/14--13:57: Cautionary Q
  • I know, I know. First a post about Bed-Stuy, now Ditmas Park. But it's a bit hard not to comment on this piece from the Daily News: The whole headline reads like this:

    Two Brooklyn women tired of 'white people moving into the area' force tenants out at gunpoint, then squat in apartment: police

    Precious Parker, 30, and Sabrina James, 23, were arrested Saturday after they allegedly kicked two men and a woman out of an Ocean Ave. apartment on Thursday. Authorities say the crime was partly motivated by race and class resentment.

     That's the kind of story that will make great fodder for all kinds of water-cooler and internet-cooler conversation.

    My take is that it would be about as useful to draw conclusions from this story as it would be to draw conclusions about "The Knockout Game" purportedly "played" by blacks against Jews. Shitty or criminal behavior is that. There are real resentments out there, to be sure. But these are not the first shots of an all-out war on Jews or white people. But god knows, people will run with it where they will..."Precious" indeed!

    I hope they nail them for armed robbery, a dang serious offense. The "race and class" part of it is immaterial as far as I'm concerned, and thrown in the headline to cause an uproar. I'd imagine that a lot of very nasty things get said when someone commits a violent crime. As to the squatting in the apartment after the robbery? That's just plain nuts. Unless it's a form of civil disobedience, you know the armed robbery kind, I would say these ladies were high out of their gourds. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the media, though I'm not hopeful for cool heads. Lest you think I have a problem with the term "hate crime," I don't. But I think it's worth waiting to find out whether these women were out to get whitey, or just out of their frigging gourds and excited to spend the next few years wearing orange - the new black?

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  • 09/09/14--06:29: Q's Pix
  • Wake Up! It's Election Day!

    Turnout will be low. It's not a presidential year. It's not a Mayoral and Council year. But it's worth noting that it DOES matter whom you pick in the Democratic primary, since the Dems typically roll in November.

    You're probably not looking to me for advice, BUT the Q is never when to shy from a fight.

    (just remember - two Dianas and a Tim)
    Vote for Diana Szochet as Civil Court judge.
    Vote for Diana Richardson as Female District Leader, 43rd
    Vote for Timothy Wu, the outsider, for Lt. Governor

    I'm probably gonna vote protest in the governor race and for the brother of the great slain councilman James E. Davis, Geoffrey, despite the fact that I know nada about him. I work in the James E. Davis building! Gotta represent.

    As for the big local contest to replace Eric Adams, I'm at a bit at a loss. I would have expected it to be a cakewalk for Eric's appointed successor Jesse Hamilton. But I'm also impressed with his challenger, Rubain Dorancy. I moderated a debate w/Milford Prewitt between the two at a Yeshiva in Crown Heights and I found them both knowledgeable, intelligent and engaged. Jesse has the edge as far as familiarity goes; he knows everyone in the neighborhood(s) and has been poking around for a job like this for years. Rubain on the other hand grew up here but moved to Mill Basin, and Jesse likes to remind folks of that. BUT, he's passionate and progressive and I like the way he articulates an issue close to my heart - the ways we treat and prepare young black boys and men for a harsh world. He knows his way around education issues. And I liked his specific answers to tough questions. Jesse's personable, at ease with every kind of constituency. I can't imagine their votes at in Albany would be too terribly different.

    In other'll be well represented in the 20th Senatorial district, whichever candidate you choose. Cop out? Maybe. But I made the above suggestions with a clear sense of who was best qualified. I just don't feel prepared to say that with certainty in the Senate.

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  • 09/10/14--10:28: Sometimes the News Sucks
  • Last weekend you may have heard some shots coming from Beekman, early morning Sunday to be exact. Seven, by some accounts. In a gangland scenario, two gentlemen were sitting in a car when they were ambushed and shot, clearly with homicidal intent. They were struck but not killed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the circumstances, neither victims are cooperating with police. Source, the 71st.

    Also, the same evening, tragedy struck two brothers who have long worked at Lincoln Park Tavern. They were attacked over the weekend and stabbed. One of them didn't survive. The crime took place over by the Marcy Houses in Bed-Stuy. Feel free to inquire after the family's well-being and make a donation towards funeral arrangements through managers at the restaurant. Source, a friend who works at LPT.

    Updated: This afternoon shots rang out on Parkside, near the McDonalds. Luckily no one hit or hurt. Still seeking suspect. Source, multiple.

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  • 09/10/14--18:54: Help for a Family in Need
  • More info on the tragedy that befell two longtime LPT workers, via Seth K, a/k/a PLOG:

    If you have ever enjoyed a meal or a drink at Lincoln Park Tavern, please read on.

    Last Sunday, Juan Carlos Luna-Juarez was senselessly murdered as he walked home from his job as a cook at the tavern. His brother Angel was stabbed in the shoulder. Juan came to the country last summer to better his life for himself and his family members. He was only 23-years-old.

    Please give to help the family of Juan and Angel to pay for funeral and medical expenses. Anything you can donate will go directly to the family and Youcaring takes no percentage of your contribution.

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    photo Elizabeth C.
    The flyer was one of many posted on Woodruff west of Ocean; there was also an unruly crowd, though to what degree they were related I can't say. There was a shooting on Woodruff that did not hit anyone - again it would be pure speculation to relate the two.

    A couple days ago I mused about how bloggers and media might respond to the armed robbery against some white folk in Ditmas. The robbers then squatted in the apartment after going on a racial diatribe. What I didn't consider was that someone in the mood for revolution might depict Sabrina and Precious into heroes, or at least a modern day black Butch and Sundance. Thelma and Louise? Bonnie and Clyde? Shields and Yarnell?

    Look, I've been writing for months about the injustice and anger simmering. And it's not just because white people, or people of different social class to be more accurate, are moving into Flatbush and Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy etc etc. It's that the move is far from organic. It's systematic, systemic in origin, and the speed is phenomenal. Everyone I meet has stories of bullying and lowball buy-outs and even extortion, which can happen if a landlord thinks they have something over a tenant and uses that as leverage to kick 'em out. I can think of no social change like it, except perhaps the remarkable speed with which whites moved "out" 50 years ago.

    We're living in a very historic moment, I believe. The way we behave and the way we react will be part of the American story. I really don't think that it's a time to simply look away or brush it off. Still, it's hard to say whether this particular incident, or poster, is more than an anomaly. But you can guarantee the street will blow this story into a myth, a metaphor, an allegory...and those too will be part of the historic narrative that we are writing as we witness it.

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  • 09/11/14--13:12: Like Dominoes They Will Fall
  • Recognize this house?

    Photo by Nicholas Strini for PropertyShark

    If not this one in particular, maybe one of its dozens of cousins all over the neighborhood? We lost three on Clarkson...each housing more than a dozen people. No, of course they're no brilliant remnants of architectural glory. But they are homes. And many of them were built quite well.

    While various local groups might argue the merits of rezonings and tall buildings, the real battle for the neighborhood will be fought house by house and rent-regulated building by rent-regulated building. While this particular wood-frame sits on New York Avenue, it's got lots of company, many already for sale I've noticed on my rides around the 'hood. And each is ripe for the picking - this particular lot will lead to more than 10,000 buildable feet. I'll just throw a conservative number out there...such a building could probably bring in $300K a year. And if you sold condos, well...

    Thanks B-stoner for the post.

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  • 09/12/14--07:40: Head Scratcher on Woodruff

  • Not sure what to make of this. Brownstoner today noted that 171 Woodruff is for rent - for $5,300. Sure it's a whole house. But the block..well, um, let's just say it surprises the Q. Hey, and I live on Clarkson, which is not exactly Park Avenue. Sandwiched as 171 it is by Moses Fried owned social service provider buildings and low-cost SRO rentals, the street life remains vibrant on Woodruff. I know this block super well. That is, I don't see it as an upscale renter's dream. And yet, for the hardy, I'd say a bunch of still inhaling recent grads, could find it a perfect party house. I certainly would have jumped at this kinda place in my youth - but it probably woulda been super cheap. I mean it's got a big backyard, and plenty of room to "get down." Still, three bedrooms means each person pays $1,766 to SHARE a place. Which means, by the old reliable standard of 1/3 gross pay, each person makes $64K. Or a young family, I suppose, where the gross is $190K. But if you make $190K, is Woodruff really your first choice? That's why I'm scratchin' my head like a bad case of dandruff.

    I guess this kinda gets at the heart of the class divide. No more needs to be said. The price, and the block, and the difference in financial means of prospective renters, say it all.

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  • 09/12/14--12:56: Black Girls Divine
  • The NY Times get a bit more adventurous in its City section than just about anywhere else in the paper. Well, beyond the international reportage, which is pretty damn great. Oh, and chess. It still covers chess. Great chess coverage. Every move. Every dang move!

    Vivian Yee started covering Brooklyn last year, and I was honored to be asked to walk her around the neighborhood not long after she got her start. She's been writing great stuff, and in particular, I applaud her work on this article about black-owned beauty supply stores, and the longtime Korean hold on the market. So much about what makes NYC commerce tick is hidden under the hood, unavailable to the untrained eye, or folks outside various immigrant communities.

    Here's here piece, and below is the pic of two gals on Church making a go of it. 

    Kadeian Brown, left, and Judian Brown own Black Girls Divine Beauty Supply and Salon, off Church Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn.Credit Kirsten Luce for The New York Times

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  • 09/13/14--15:37: Crime Time
  • Local crime-spotting duo Martinos & Fabri have once again compiled a list of Lefferts-specific crimes for the past couple months. Some of you will recall the rash of home burglaries in late'll see the spike in the blotter, and the 71st's arrests noted. Thx are due to the community for calling it in and remaining vigilant and cooperative.

    As Detective Jackie Gleason would say, and awaaaaayyyyy we go...

    Crime Report
    July 1 - August 31, 2014


    July 6th, 5:00PM. 215 Clarkson. Baseball bat used to rob money. 20 yr old male arrested.

    July 9th, 10AM. Nostrand and Sterling. Credit card and $200 cash taken by force. 28 yr old male arrested.

    July 11, 3AM. Hawthorne and Rogers. Cell phone taken by force.

    July 12th, 3AM. New York and Winthrop. Jewelry taken by physical force.

    July 13th, 4:30AM. 7 Ocean Avenue. Cell phone taken by force.

    July 13th, 8PM. 100 Winthrop Street. Cell phone taken by force. 25 yr old male arrested.

    July 15th, 1:45AM. 7 Clarkson. Money taken by force and threat of a stick.

    July 17th, 3AM. Flatbush and Hawthorne. Cell phone taken by force.

    July 21st, 7:30AM. Bedford and Winthrop. Cell phone taken by force. 30 yr old male arrested.

    July 22nd, 3:20AM. Maple and Nostrand. Physical force, robbed clothes.

    July 25th, 8PM. 695 Flatbush. Gunpoint robbery. Cash and jewelry taken.

    July 31st, 40 Lincoln Rd. Robbery, physical force. Handbag taken. Perp arrested.

    August 5th, 3AM. Bedford & Parkside. Cell phone taken by force. Threatened with box cutter.

    August 5th, 11PM. 615 Rogers. Cell phone taken by force. 31 yr old male arrested.

    August 5th, 5AM. Ocean and Lincoln. Physical force, wallet with cash taken.

    August 13th, 11AM. 731Flatbush. Jewelry and cash taken by physical force.

    August 20th, 8PM. 164 Winthrop. Cell phone taken by force.

    August 21st, 6:30Pm. 539 Rogers Ave. Cell phone and tools taken by force. 60 yr old male arrested.

    August 23rd, 8:30PM. New York and Clarkson. Purse taken by force.

    August 24th, 1:30AM. 636 Rogers Ave. physical force, money taken. 3 females, 20. 27 and 28 yr old, arrested.

    August 26th, 2:30AM. 65 Ocean. Cell phone taken at gunpoint.

    August 28th, 2AM. 495 Flatbush. Physical force, credit card and debit card taken. 28 yr old male arrested.

    August 29th, 9PM. Nostrand and Clarkson. Cell phone taken by force. 16 yr old male arrested.

    August 31st 6AM. 40 Lincoln Rd. Cell phone taken by force inside lobby.

    Felony Assaults

    July 7th, 6AM. 11 Midwood. Person hit with bottle. 41 yr old male arrested.

    July 13th, 4PM. 115 Lincoln. Physical force, laceration to the head. 34 yr old male arrested.

    July 22nd, 9PM. 265 Hawthorne St. Person shot 3 times, taken to Kings County Hospital. No arrest.

    July 28th, 8PM. 388 Midwood. Bottle used to beat victim. 38 yr old male arrested.

    August 31st, 4:00PM. 41 Hawthorne. Perp threw bleach at a victim. 18 yr old female arrested.

    Burglaries (when the police have entrance as front door, without noting that it was forced entry, this can indicate that a person known to the location, who would have access, is the perpetrator)

    July 4th, 12PM. 2031 Bedford Ave (apartment). Rear window point of entry. Took electronics.

    July 10th, 1:15Pm. 260 Hawthorne (apartment). Rear window poin tof entry. Took electronics.

    July 19th, 10AM. 11 Midwood (apartment). Come in through front window, took electronics.

    July 22nd, 69 Hawthorne (apartment). Unknown point of entry. Took electronics.

    July 22nd, 3:30. Rutland II (private home). Rear window. Took electronics.

    July 23rd, 8:30AM. 125 Hawthorne (apartment). Rear window. Took electronics.

    July 23rd, 11AM. Maple I (private house). Took electronics.

    July 24th, 8AM. Lincoln II. Front window, took credit cards and cash.

    July 25th, Lincoln II. Front window. Took electronics.

    July 26th, 5AM. 347 Midwood Street. Side window. Took electronics.

    July 28th, 8PM. Rutland I (private house). Front window entry. Unknown property taken.

    July 28th, 9AM. 95 Rutland (apartment building) rear window entry. Took electronics.

    July 28th, Midwood I (private home). Front window entry. Took bicycles.

    July 28th, 8PM. Midwood III (private house). Rear window. Took electronics.

    July 28th, 8PM. Midwood II (private house). Front window. Took electronics.

    July 29th, Rutland I (private house). Front window entry. Took electronics.

    July 30, 9:30AM. 105 Lincoln Rd (apartment). Rear window, fire escape. Took electronics.

    August 7th, 9AM. 11 Midwood (apartment). Fire escape entry. Took electronics.

    August 10th, 5PM. 99 Ocean (apartment). Unknown point of entry. Took credit cards and jewelry.

    August 11th, 4AM. 1225 Nostrand Ave (bodega). Took ATM machine.

    August 13th, 7:30PM. 558 Parkside. Side window. Took electronics.
    There were a rash of burglaries in the area in this time period. With police vigilance and community communication, three arrests were made of a 16, 17 and 14 yr old male. They were knocking on people's doors to see who was home and then going to the back windows to break in.

    Grand Larceny (No physical force between victim and perp)

    July 5th, 4AM. Lincoln and Flatbush, gas station. Credit card and wallet taken from car.

    July 16th, 1:40AM. 646 Rogers. From person, cash, credit card and social security card were taken.

    July 28th, 3PM. Fenimore and Nostrand. On the bus, pickpocket took wallet (money, credit cards and driver's license.)

    July 29th, Nostrand and Clarkson. On the bus, pick pocket took cell phone.

    July 31st, Flatbush and Ocean (transit). Pickpocket took wallet (credit card, driver's license).

    August 1st, 2PM. Lincoln and Flatbush. Credit cards and money taken from person.

    August 6th, 7PM. 275 Ocean. $20 from person taken. 37 yr old male arrested.

    August 13th, 11PM. 566 Parkside. Electronics taken from car.

    August 14th, 3PM. Rogers and Hawthorne. Cell phone taken from person.

    Grand Larceny Auto

    July 10th, 8PM 600 New York. 2003 gray Nissan Ultima stolen.

    July 15th, 5PM. Nostrand and Lefferts. 2002 blue Volkswagen stolen.

    August 16th, 9PM. 113 Lefferts. 97 gray Dodge Caravan stolen.

    August 16th, 9AM. Midwood and Bedford. 2001 white Dodge Ram stolen.

    August 17th, 12:30AM. 361 Lincoln. 1999 white Ford stolen.

    August 17th, 11:30PM. 1023 Nostrand. 2003 silver Nissan Ultima stolen.

    August 19th, 9PM. 2101 Beekman. 97 brown Toyota stolen.


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  • 09/15/14--08:24: Enough Already
  • Oh, Pioneer. You claim you MUST have a bottle return operation right on the sidewalk that thousands of people use every day to go to and from the Q at Parkside. It's actually not a requirement that you allow an unlimited number of returns. The law allows you to set a limit. And I'm quite certain that sidewalk is not yours...perhaps a few inches in front of your property line, say as far your corral for shopping carts.

    If you, Q reader, feel as I do, that the barrels of broken glass are both a menace and a danger, and that the constant "canner" business is disruptive to the community, and to a pleasant walk to the train...

    Please tell Hector or any of the managers at Pioneer of your displeasure. Coming from me it would not be helpful (just trust me on that). But from you, to say something just after you've patronized his store, would be VERY cool.

    Need further proof that enough is enough? From last night:

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