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  • 06/12/13--08:09: Sign off, sign on.
  • Ahoy! Any typesetters out there know what font that it? I kinda miss the old hand-done sign. But I kinda don't.

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    The Q is busy working on yet another deadline at work, so I'll refer you to the May 31 post on D.A. Hynes and his plan to help the cops and neighborhood clean up the drugs, guns and gangs. Here 'tis:

    The D.A. Makes Us An Offer

    Info below:

    The Clarkson Ave Block Association will be hosting the first informational meeting about the effort to rid the area of guns, gangs and drugs on:

    June 12, 2013
    40 Clarkson Ave
    Basement Community Room
    7:30 PM

    You're all invited to join us and hear what the D.A.'s office is offering in the way of ideas and support. Remember, they claim to have "never failed."

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  • 06/13/13--18:58: Hard where?
  • Why, hard HERE of course. Right next to Patio Gardens. I have my doubts that it will be anything too fancy, but it's gotta beat that flashy 99cent game and cell phone place that opened and shut after Eric Adams moved out.

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    To all those who came out to 40 Clarkson to talk crime with the cops and D.A.'s office, thank you! I've been fielding emails today from people who'd like to step up and be block captains for their particular blocks, so that we can meet regularly, hopefully once a month, to determine how best to share info and keep the conversation productive with the D.A.'s office. In the past year since I started on this inch-by-inch quest to find out how you get the attention of the powers that be (including a petition last fall), I've been quite pleased at the response. There is nothing that motivates elected officials and cops more than to see big groups of people demanding specific things. Case in point. Did anyone notice the raid of the Woodruff street scene, even before the meeting broke up? Hey, I was as surprised as anyone to learn that most of those guys don't even live on the block, and that cocaine is helping keep the party going to the dawn. Good to know. I also learned that a massive fight at one of the dice tables ended with a guy bleeding profusely from the head, and that was likely the source of a long blood drip that started over there and wound its way down Clarkson. The screaming on Clarkson the other night? A family being dropped off at the de facto City financed privately owned homeless shelter was unpacking their things, dead tired from a day of intake in the Bronx, when the van took off with a sleeping kid in the car, and the mother, then her young daughter, went running and screaming after the van. Cops were on the scene within minutes; I'm told the kid was found. Would I have known had I not gone down there to see what was going on? I might have hypothesized all manner of things, but probably not THAT particular story. Another person at the meeting confirmed exactly which apartment was a crack house. A man gave inside information on a long-running problem building, and there finally seems to be real movement to get the problem dealt  with directly by enforcement with the landlord. Three major busts (and those are the only ones I know about) recently have resulted in crack and gun charges. One guy is now under constant surveillance and I get regular updates on progress - he's one of the higher-up thugs, here all the time, but lives a mile away. But I want your help, cuz frankly I'm fried, and it's too much info for one or even six people to keep up with. We need to create a log and a database of problem spots and track progress, Why us? Because if we don't do it, we'll get forgotten like every other time we bring up our beefs. Sustained pressure. That's the only way I can see it working, and the D.A. is offering us their resources. I don't doubt we'll see improvement in some places soon, but we need to be specific about what we see day in and day out.

    All I'm saying is this. Old-timers tell me that the old Neighborhood Watch groups really worked. Block by block, we can inform the powers that be about problem buildings and criminally-minded folks and see that we keep up the pressure until things change. And if they don't change, and crime is traced to these obvious hot spots, we can hold them partly to blame for not heeding the warnings. Common sense was spoken too about what to do about recidivism, how to give young folks a chance to change, programs that don't involve just handcuffs. I guess what I'm saying is, if you really want change, you can't just wait for it. They didn't wait in other neighborhoods that are now much safer. We're not the first part of town to witness a spike in gangs and shootings, and we won't be the last.

    Right now I'm just asking that anyone willing to act as "block captain" for the next six to nine months, during which time we'll regularly meet with the D.A.'s office, send me an email and let me know which block you can represent. And feel free to suggest the idea to others. I think we have about 10 blocks out of 40-50 or so that could be roughly considered the neighborhood. Say, the Park to Nostrand (or New York), down to Lenox, through Caledonia to the Parade Ground? Hey, if you feel like you live in the neighborhood, then you probably do. I'm certainly not here to draw lines on a map and tell you that you don't!

    The first meeting of the newly formed group, to be announced here and listservs, will be telling. If we get a great turnout, then yeah, I think we're in business. If not, well, we'll keep working anyway.


    SO...I know what you're REALLY wondering is...when's that dang Wholesome Market (no mealy, ribald bananas here!) gonna open?

    Well, let me first knock some wind out of your sails by saying that I've peeked through the window many times and the majority of items are the same crapola you can get anywhere else. Now, that's not to say that the Q is anti-crapola -- hardly. I'm eating a Dipsy Doodle as I write this. I'm just saying, don't expect Larder or Green Grape Provisions. There's a lot of Gerber and Kellogs on the shelf, though there do seem to be some zeitgeist specialty brands. And the place looks pretty sweet. The key will be in the produce, meats and take-out. If they "get it," it will be clear the moment you walk in.

    And WHEN will it open? Well, as I was saying to Milford Prewitt as I was snooping around the place, let me put my best Encyclopedia Brown hat on and say I'd be shocked if it wasn't open by the end of the weekend. Why? Because there's dairy and meat on the shelves that are stocked already. Not the sort of things a "Wholesome" market would want to leave on the shelves for too long, lest they become mealy and ribald.

    AND, the building next to the Q/B/S train, Prospect Park station? Tom Anderson (the developer) says (in an email response to me today) that he's still waiting to hear on financing; but it could be any day, as June is when the State announces. The nutty L shaped building will surely change the feel of those blocks around the park dramatically, but apparently you need old-fashioned green money to build a building. And here I thought all you needed was a credit card and some day-laborers to build something that looks, according to the rendering, like this, which is, in fact, the rendering:

    Rendering of 33 Lincoln Road, with other entrance on the Flabenue  

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    The Q has taken part in many, many fundraisers over the years. He's a fundraiser himself, and thought he'd seen 'em all. But this one takes the cake, er the fries.

    Tomorrow, Monday June 17, from 4-7PM, stop by our neighborhood McDonald's at Parkside  'n Ocean and order your favorite menu items, as you will be served by principal and teachers from the Caton School, the delightful neighborhood District 17 school located just south of the Parade Ground on Caton.

    Why would you do it? Because the profits for those three hours go to the school. You eat burgers, the school gets books. You suck down shakes, the school gets to retain that para.

    I know what you're saying. McDonald's and grade school kids don't mix. It's not the right message.  Childhood obesity is an epidemic and McDonald's is partly to blame. Well...okay. But...okay, you're right. Sort of, yes. BUT, and this is a big BUTT. The manager has shown a renewed interest in communicating with the community. And the renovation is 100% welcome. They've even loosened the policy on hanging out, so that seniors can linger over coffee, an issue that irked some of the old timers. And it is, after all, a fundraiser.

    So yeah, it's a little weird. Trying to put the best face on it. And I will definitely go get me some fries. And a shake. Probably not the burger though. Gooooooooooo CATON!!!

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    So...what do you think, North Lefferts? Impressed, meh, nonplussed? Other?

    The Rong Ge owned strip is now fully operational and awaiting your patronage. All aboard.

    P.S. If the title and body of this post make no sense to you at all, then you're not from around here, are you?

    The Q's Review:

    It's a bloody awesome deli. Bright, clean, nice selection of daily use items. Easy Lover blasting on the radio...It's not Union Market, it's not Joe's or Whole Foods, but if you don't see what you like tell them what it is right now and I'll bet they'll get it for you. Just a few years ago, this place would have been considered fancy. It's not run by hipsters, so it's only guessing what you're going to want. So why not tell them? They want your business, they invested a lot of money in the neighborhood, and they want to stay. If you don't let them down, I bet they won't let you down.

    Some things you couldn't get before that you can get now - decent to-go food and sandwiches, specialty chips, lox, decent packaged sausages, tate's chocolate chip cookie's, good selection of ice creams, muffins the size of a soccer ball...

    Just give 'em a nudge in the right direction...

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  • 06/18/13--05:11: Latest Q Tip from Parkside

  • Interesting. From Rudy came word that someone finally came and trimmed the trees on the south side of Parkside, and that the bag that had been there since at least 2008 finally came down. I put his picture up, meaning to post on it, got distracted and rode to work, then came back to the post to find that people had already commented on it. One person had gone so far as to get all angry-like. Well, Mr. Mad Man, my post was actually going to be a good news story about things taking a turn for the better. Although it appears that Maverick Comics is closing. As they sing in Fiddler on the Roof, "Sunrise, Sunset..."

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    It's finally happening. Vinnie Martinos says all are welcome. The patrol car is ready. All we need are the able-bodied volunteers. But you must show up tonight at 7pm at the 71st precinct, Empire at New York Ave. You're not committed to actually driving around in the Civilian Observation Patrol car just yet, but you must attend the orientation and get fingerprinted in order to be considered. The idea is for members of the community to cruise around and observe, then let the precinct know what we see - no fancy interventionist stuff. Plus, we get to know each other better. To me, it's all part of the neighborhood watch and D.A. block captain work we're doing already, per that meeting last week and other efforts. And I'll be posting in the next couple days about what up with that.

    So show up tonight at the precinct, And remember, there's a cool jacket in it for those who become "C.O.P.s" This is NOT vigilante justice. It's just another piece in the getting a handle on the Drugs 'n' Thugs nonsense that's plaguing the area and getting a lot of us down.

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  • 06/19/13--09:45: Mama Louisas
  • From deep in the deeply detailed thread on the new Wholesome Market (see below post) came a reminder that some in the neighborhood don't know about the sandwich treasure on New York Avenue - Mama Louisas. Which means you might also not know about Kings County Nurseries next door, or the truly unique "Disc Mart/Blackmind" Boutique across the street. Mama's is (amazingly)over 100 years old, dating back well back into the days when the area was called Pigtown) and makes outstanding heroes, so if Wholesome ain't cold-cutting it for you, there's another EGGScellent option.

    As to the griping about Wholesome, I'm wondering a) exactly what people were expecting and b) whether the gripers have plans to make their list of specialty item needs known to the amiable shopkeeps. As to the lack of organic produce, that's definitely a head-scratcher. Seems a no-brainer, but what they do have (non-organic) looks fairly decent to me, though slim-pickins'. I for one ain't given up my Food Coop membership over it. But dang people have gotten picky bout their delis! For your fresh bread, is it so hard to walk three doors down to ToTT? I thought that was part of the Urban Fantasy, that shop-to-shop bourgie boulangerie thang. By-the-by, ToTT let Tugboat keep the bagel market. I thought that was kinda magnanimous actually...

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  • 06/20/13--08:56: Milk It
  • With so much commentary flying about regarding "specialty items," I thought I'd point out that it was not so very long ago that you couldn't get organic milk in the neighborhood. Even three years ago I was trekking to the Slope on the Park for grass fed dairy products. Now I can get it 24-7 at Suzy Farm.

    Is all organic milk created equal? The Park Slope Food coop schooled me on the subject, and the answer, as with most organic products, is a resounding no. Take the most common brands available in local grocery stores, Horizon and Organic Valley. Being a commie-hippie-punk at heart, if not necessarily always in deed, I find the below wiki entries to be most revealing, and I'll leave it to y'all to make your own call:

    Horizon Milk

    Organic Valley

    I still find it useful to do even a teensy bit of research on every product consumed, even if it's just to make myself feel better, knowing that we're all going to hell for destroying god's greatest gift to humanity, after love of course, mother earth. Although if she'd just made it less humid, we wouldn't have had to invent air conditioning.

    Happy Thursday!

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    Last night as I pedaled home around 10pm I noticed a very festive and happy grand opening going down at 670 Flatbush, just a couple doors up from Play Kids. The boutique looked positively awesome, with what looked to my decidedly untrained eyes as '60s-ish tight fitting space-age outfits on the mannequins, lots of interesting eye-popping party jewelry, and the awesome name of Marcia Perfume Diva adorning the grand opening banner, though the place is actually named Marcia Diva's Boutique (the proprietor's name is Marcia Perfume though). I'll be sure to stop in and find out more on a less chaotic day, but a quick google search reveals Marcia is a public personality who puts on parties and is quite the extrovert. The Q wishes her the best. This is the kind of fun shop that makes walking down or up the Flabenue such a treat for qurious qats like me. I mean, sure I complain about the trash and all, and we're working on that, but last night looking into all the shops, so many of the hair places bustling with laughter, the 7th game of the NBA finals on and people shouting at the TVs, and having just come from the quiet streets of Park Slope, I was reminded how much I love my home and the way it reveals itself to me, layer upon layer.

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  • 06/22/13--07:50: And now...foreclosure?
  • And so the saga continues. I was just going to make a vow to start focusing more attention on my homestretch of southern Lefferts when an eagle-eyed reader snapped this pic attached to the door of the building owned by Rong Ge.

    On the one hand, I suppose the financial difficulties of one of our neighbors is really no one's business. But as the Q as pondered before, the financial difficulties of this particular landlord and this particular building, have been tied the dreams and aspiration of northern Leffertsians for years. I'm quite certain that more than $100,000 in neighbors' duckets pour into the tills weekly via the four businesses in Ms. Ge's building. And so, one wonders, after bizzes have gone up for lease, then mysteriously disappeared, and Rong's own house is for rent...what the heck is really going on? Owner of LPT Jim Mamary won't talk to me, but workers have, and I see him loading boxes in and out, suggesting he's not exactly rolling in dough either.

    I'm not really asking for speculation or mean-spirited gossip. Just saying it's quite the sitch.

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  • 06/22/13--11:49: South Lefferts News
  • A reader may have been a bit premature on Maverick comics. Seems it was just an awning change:

    And yes, the MTA has moved in semi-permanently onto the Q at Parkside Plaza. Work on the station begins soon, with over a year of work to go. No pain, no gain.

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  • 06/23/13--10:09: Tough Neighborhood

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    Need help holding that "perfect" spot for a barbecue 'n' picnic? A little yellow tape comes in mighty handy...and yes, the revelers came back to this spot later to hold their family event. Very clever.

    photo: Elizabeth C.

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    Since the Q moved to Clarkson a decade ago, the fabulous Haunted House near the corner of Bedford has remained a distinct fascination. Ah, there it is:

    Not long after moving here, I asked the folks in the weird front addition to the house to let me in...strangely they obliged. It was one of most Magnificent Ambersons moments of my life to date. Read all about the house here.

    It's back on the market. Here's the deets. Why not pony up the $3 million and sink another couple mill into it, and then you can really live like a Lion of Lefferts, plus you'll be within spitting distance of Gandhi and that bullet proof liquor store. Magnificent, indeed! More pics below...

    Thanks Matt P. for the heads up on this one. Something about biking in the Himalayas really helped hone his internet radar.

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  • 06/26/13--09:47: Just Q-urious...
  • Ever mysterious but always beguiling Parkside Court beckons with a two-bedroom rental listed by Corcoran. I'm a week behind on this one, so sue me - has full-time employees.

    The Q is Qurious as a Quat (his new motto), and wonders aloud: is $2,500 really reasonable for a single floor of a limestone building on P-Court?

    I'm thinking $1,800 is about right. $1,600 would allow you to be a bit picky about whom you rent to (within the law of course!) Maybe's it's the Corcoran name that's supposed to lend the rental some heft?

    See! I can do real estate based posts too!! (maybe they're ALL real estate based. maybe that's all that really matters anymore...sigh.)

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    No, that's not a typo. I'm just reminding everyone to stop in a local greengrocer or deli and grab yourself a Ting soda, the Jamaican-born grapefruit spritzer in the small glass bottle (it's since been bought by a U.K. conglomerate, but the taste's the same). Delicious and hits the spot on a hot summer day! To my palate it reminds me of a non-diet version of Fresca. Residents of Kingston are apparently treated to the Ting logo as often as we see Coke here. I'd also add that a favorite cocktail is Ting and Vodka, known to locals as Ving. Try one and let us know what you think. I'll be abstaining per usual.
    At the Community Board 9 meeting on Tuesday we learned more about the planned "fix" for traffic on Flatbush Avenue. It makes SO much sense to me that me can hardly contain me excitement.  More on the proposal and its history here. Let me just say though that this change is LONG overdue. There simply is not room for three lanes each direction (one parking and two driving). The constant darting back and forth has caused many a collision and injury. Cars feel they have a right to double-park, creating chaos. And anyone who says that merchants will be adversely affected by a plan to keep traffic moving is, in my view, placing a tiny bit of commercial convenience over safety and clean air for all. Double-parkers, please, please, stop!!! Delivery trucks only. Otherwise, you're just selfish, selfish, selfish. Okay, maybe if you're picking up an Air Conditioner or refrigerator or there's an emergency. But how often do we see people double-park to go get a Coke? Or a Ting? Or to WAIT for Peppa's (this one kills me; you've got plenty of time to find a place to park!) Or to just shoot the sh&t?

    (yes of course the dollar vans are a problem too. but with less darting in and out i'll bet things get better. if i'm wrong, i'll buy you a Ting!)

    Heading INTO town from 7-10am will be a No Standing situation...let's hope it's enforced so that cars, buses and vans get plenty of room to keep it moving. Left turn and right turn bays will get turners out of the way. And finally someone's had the good sense to kill the parking spots in front of the Popeye's-Family Pizza-Jeweler-TMobile stretch on Flatbush near Parkside, so that a right turn bay can be created. Drivers should now be able to SEE pedestrians in the crosswalk. If you've ever looked at the clusterf#ck at Parkside/Flatbush, or been stuck on a bus trying to navigate through it, you'll realize how crucial these changes are. To see how this all might look, you need only drive down Parkside towards the tennis courts. That's the same width, with just one lane of travel each way, and it works GREAT. Even the amount of double-parking has decreased, as folks choose not to stick out into the one lane of travel.

    One strange addendum. A couple years ago, DOT added a right turn bay, with a median, for right-turners from Empire onto Flatbush at the Botanic Garden. They're going to take it away. Apparently the community of drivers hated this change, and DOT had to admit it backed up traffic horribly. And to those who've won a victory and an unusual apology from DOT, all I can say is I hope this means you'll remember how many pedestrians cross here every day and keep it slow when rounding the curve. (Actually, the biggest problem is people turning left from Ocean onto Flatbush, but that's a fight for another day.) Another major issue on Empire will be addressed by closing that tiny bit of Franklin below Empire. If you doubt the effectiveness of that change, go out and take a look some afternoon. You'll see the problems it causes. (Disco Princess thinks they should shut Franklin north of Empire as well, or put an end to turners).

    Oh, and you won't be able to turn left from Lincoln Road onto Washington. That turn causes a pretzel in the middle of a very funky Flatbush/Lincoln/Washington intersection.

    And how bout that plan to recreate the library at Medgar Evers? This one kinda snuck up on me. Now that Medgar's hired Rudy Crew as president (remember Rudy? superintendent of education Rudy? Rudy G telling him he ought to lose some weight and step in line, Rudy?), they're also going to get a bright and cheery new visage. I think it's much needed. Right now when I ride by M.E.C. the main entrance looks a bit like a prison or modern municipal building. Soon, you can expect something more like this:

    Learn more about it all here.

    Oh, and I almost forgot! You need mulch? Greenwood Cemetary has mounds of it and you can go pick up as many bags as you can carry - for free. According to local greenthumb Amy M., you can go get it anytime. Probably best to call first though. Enter at 25th Street and 5th Avenue and ask the guard for the mulch pile. This entrance is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 718-210-3080 with any questions

    AND go see that free performance of Chekhov's The Seagull that's taking place by the rustic hut on the lake, just inside the park from my beloved Q at Parkside. It runs through Sunday.

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  • 06/28/13--09:02: Flatbush Corridor Project
  • Got word of a bad accident at the ridiculous intersection at Flatbush and Parkside. Any details folks?

    Here's the presentation for the new Flatbush, minus the changes at Lincoln/Washington/Flatbush. Those are happening too.

    I actually got an email from someone telling me I was making this all up. I assure you, it's for real.

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    What's the story at the Flatbush Caton Market? Many of the vendors moved outside, back to the parking lot, the very situation that the indoor market was meant to end, years ago. Frankly, the Mall is so poorly used and trafficked that I'll bet a lot of the vendors WISH they were still out doors, like before the Market was built. Read about its history here:

    But lest you think they're tearing down the brightly colored market, this just in (post it and they will come!):


    The roof on Caton Market has been leaking for some time.  The funds for repairs come from Eugene.  The work was scheduled to begin originally in late 2012, but kept getting pushed back.  It began in June, and is scheduled to last much of the summer.  The tents are meant to provide temporary spaces for the displaced vendors.  The funds for the tents also come via Eugene.*

    Then of course there's the White Whale to my inner Ahab - the tree pit next to the alley on Flatbush, behind the Great Whale of a Building at 225 Parkside. This pit is the pits, and every time we clean it up it goes right back. Someone's leaving their personal garbage here, which leads to a massive trashy pig pile. That someone's the first on Q's crumb list, last on his crumb list, and every crumb in between! For shame!

    *The Eugene referred to here is Councilman Mathieu Eugene, not Levy, Debs or O'Neil as you might have supposed.

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