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    Thanks to Ditmas Park Blog for putting in the leg, and er, lap work.* Here's the pic from Avi:

    Anyone familiar with my rants and raves will know how excited I am about the first actual rehab of my beloved Q at Parkside in something like 30 years. Yes, there will be inconveniences, but thankfully most of us are within a few blocks of the express trains on Caton (Church Ave Station) or Lincoln Road (Prospect Park Station). At other times when they've skipped Parkside I've found it fairly easy to change my walk every day, and I lost just 5 minutes. Plus I got to use either the B or Q that way. (Feel free to complain here; I know not everyone is as happy as the Q. Frankly, Q is for Quivering With Excitement right now).

    Here's some past posting on the event, which is finally upon us.

    March 2012

    July 2012

    October 2012

    Bottom Line the Brighton Line has seen its share of repairs and upgrades, but the Q at P has deteriorated into a sorry, sad and dangerous state of affairs. The headhouse itself is a wreck, but the structures and ceilings need to be redone to avoid catastrophe. A little love for the station, and some love for the plaza, are all in the works. Things happen at a glacial pace in this City sometimes. Though after seeing a documentary on the rapid melting of the glaciers, maybe that's the lone good news that will come out of global warming - all things that move at a glacial pace will start to happen quicker?

    *that's laptop don't you know; the Q doesn't go in for double-entendres.

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  • 07/03/13--18:53: Baby City Food Inc
  • Sometimes, the name just bowls you over with its unsubtle oddness.

    On the east side of the Flabenue between Parkside and Clarkson, right next to the longtime Law Offices of A. Shoemaker (who clearly, making too little money as a cobbler, did what most disillusioned artisans end up doing...went back to law school), and a particularly mediocre Chinese takeout place, neighborhood shoppers were most recently treated to the outlandish stylings of "Flatbush Fashions." I have some excellent vacation photos of my wife and a good friend of hers wearing FF garb, and I was always charmed by the be-turbaned proprietor sitting on a stool under the shade of a street tree out front. I can't say I'm surprised that FF shuttered, given the fewness of the patrons and the eye-popping lowness of the prices. So what's next? BABY CITY FOOD INC. - that's what.

    I usually don't like making fun of store names or menus, and with Asian places the misplaced syntax is too easy a target.  God only knows what names the Q would come up with if he opened a gelato hut in Shanghai. But I'm always perplexed when a big (probably pretty expensive) sign goes up with such a strange use of language, and no one stopped along the way to say "are you sure you want it to say that?" Shouldn't it at least be Baby Food City Inc? The front window is packed to the ceiling with baby formula. The joint also features various baby supplies, and tons of inexpensive strollers. It looks like certain aisles at the GEM across the street - just the ones with baby stuff. Basically, the new joint is like, a small city. For babies. And food. And baby food. Incorporated.

    Buried down here I just thought I'd note that certain recent posts have been taken down on advice from a significant dude of the enforcement type who is undertaking an investigation. If you're looking for those posts, or you have something to share on them, or want to know more about why they're no longer floating freely on the internets, don't hesitate to email me.

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    A reader noted that the apartment building 320 Sterling Street (just off Nostrand towards New York) is having upcoming open houses for affordable rental units. If you meet income requirements, these might just end up being a great, great deal, especially as the years pass. And how often do affordable rentals come up, in stabilized buildings? Not so's the whole scoop.  320 Sterling Open Houses. Rent stabilized 1-beds go for $1,350, with a cap on your income. Granted, that ain't exactly CHEAP, but it's stabilized, meaning it can only rise so much year to year. It's a City sponsored deal...strangely, these were supposed to be coops if my cursory googling is true, and there was an attempt to sell them a few years ago. What happened I wonder. No takers? Too steep for the nabe?

    If any of you go to the Open Houses on Friday/Sat/Sun by all means comment and let us know what you find.

    However, for those of you as Qurious as the Q, you'll want to read the extraordinary history of this building, at least as told by the Village Voice back in 2002, when the Voice was still a fairly important part of NYC's cultural landscape (though it had been waning for some time by then). The woman who held the apartments in an iron grip, a tenant herself, used a phrase in the article that I still find amusing since the first time I heard it years ago. Here's the article: "Don't put your finger on me, 'cause I'm clean as a baby's butt," As a daddy of young'uns, I assure you that the clean only lasts for so long.

    Btw, newcomers and young-timers might not recognize the Village Voice as the once all-mighty and powerful entity that it was in our fair City back in the '70s, '80s and early '90s. Was a time, before the interwebs, that the VV was the bible for apartment seekers and those wanting a clue to the "downtown" world of cutting edge arts and culture, not to mention listings of everything worth seeing (it was like Time Out and Craigslist and any number of popular blogs all in one). In fact, folks used to line up late in the evening on Tuesday nights outside their offices near the Public Theater and Blue Man Group (which as I recall had not opened yet) to snatch a copy before it was distributed (for MONEY. As in, people paid money to find out about stuff. A buck or so when I moved here in 1988.) The apartment listings were worth their weight in gold, and you wanted to be the first person to call (yes, call) the landlord and put in an offer. Usually you didn't need any credit check either; the landlord would eyeball you and ask for a deposit, but that was usually enough to seal the deal. The only studio apartments over $1,000 back then were in the most desirable neighborhoods in Manhattan. Even one-bedrooms were usually less than a grand. My first "room" was $300 in the back of a converted commercial space, probably a former bodega. I don't think I paid more than $500 for many many years, though mostly in share situations. A giant warehouse loft on 3rd street between Hoyt and Bond cost $1,500 for a quirky giant space. Four guys were sharing of course, making it nearly uninhabitable to "girls," but that didn't stop them from coming by for the parties. Man, that was most definitely a different time. No one cared about restaurants and food (seriously, I knew no one.) There were maybe five kinds of beer anybody ever drank, and two of them were called Bud and Bud Lite. Real afficionados drank Corona.

    Hasta La Vista, my old Brooklyn. I say "my" old Brooklyn, because some old-timers are laughing at me right now for talking like an old-timer, though to them I'm just a newcomer. And so it goes...

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    Yes, it's true. The Q at Parkside has become more of a monorail, serving just one direction (towards Coney Island). It will be awhile folks, so get used to it. Anyone Parkside south is best served by the Caton entrance of the Church stop on the B/Q. Anyone Winthrop and up, probably best to walk to Prospect Park station. You know this of course; unless you don't. In which case, now you do.

    It will all be worth it in the end. The Q at Parkside (the blog) appreciates your patience.

    In the meantime, how about those new stores opening up on the Flabenue? Like next to Kreations, an "exotic intimate apparel shop" (near my fave pile of tree-pit garbage, which, due to constant complaining by the Q, I can confidently say that the management at 225 Parkside has finally been given notice that it's THEIR responsibility and has started cleaning it up fairly regularly). That's right. Exotic! Intimate! Apparel! (actually the apparel probably doesn't deserve an exclamation point). Given some of the blush-inducing sexy outfits regularly seen around these parts that AREN'T "intimate" I think we're all on pins and needles to see what this shop has in store (literally, in the store.)

    And the new joint opening in the old Dork Klub spot? An honest to goodness Atticus Finch by the name of Joyce B. David. Here's her deets:

    Joyce B. David, Esq., P.C.
    664 Flatbush Avenue
    Brooklyn, N.Y.,  11225
    718-643-5242 (fax)

    I'd like to make some sort of witty connection between the intimate apparel shop and a criminal defense lawyer but I came up with nothing. Joyce was kind enough to send me a shout out, and I'm shouting back: "Hey Joyce!! Good luck with your shingle hanging!"

    Joyce, btw, wrote a book brilliantly titled What You Should Know If You're Accused of a Crime (Shut up and call a lawyer!) Of course, by giving away the ending in the title, she probably cut her sales in half.And she was the first woman president of the Kings County Criminal Bar Association, if Google is telling the truth. And if google isn't telling the truth, does it even matter what the truth is?

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    If you're a reader of the Q, then you are most likely residing in the 40th Council District (map). Your current councilperson is Mathieu Eugene. He's been in office 6 years, and is therefore running as the incumbent. I've had a chance to meet with the Councilman on many occasions. I'd go as far as to say we've "worked" together. I like Mathieu Eugene, and I also think he hasn't the slightest idea what he's doing, or the desire to learn or grow. He's had six years to distinguish himself, and that is enough. I think as a district, as the greater Flatbush area, we deserve better. I'll be voting for Saundra Thomas, a longtime Ditmas Park resident, on September 10 in the all-crucial Democratic Party. I hope you'll consider her too, and more importantly, I hope you'll vote.

    Too few in our district take their civic duty seriously...and your vote is incredibly important, even by the numbers. Politics don't get much more local or crucial for us New Yorkers than City Council. Due to a top heavy City Charter, the Mayor's really got the power in this town, but a Councilperson speaks for her district, and can lead in so many ways - if only they have the spirit, passion and smarts to do so. They can respond, set agenda, identify problems, take City agencies to task, and see that money is allocated wisely for the District. They can take on causes and make them, by sheer force of will, the causes of the City itself. Witness Jumaane Williams and Stop and Frisk - his passion has led to new laws and heightened interest in dealing with human rights issues underlying the policy. So yeah, a council person is a big deal. Even if you're incredibly cynical about politics, you gotta admit it's nice to have someone you respect representing you.

    We're a rapidly changing district, with all the attendant growing pains. We're a wildly diverse area. We're full of newcomers from the world's nations and lately from the nation's colleges too (checked the subway platform lately? It's like campus library some days.) We've got old-timers of every stripe living in every type of domicile from every economic background and ethnicity imaginable. We've got giant houses with yards in "Victorian" Flatbush; giant troubled apartment buildings resembling a Dickensian NYC; we've got lots of new buyers in Dinkens-ian era coop conversions; plus a lot of Edwardian era built brownstones (built 100 years ago as tract homes, but now suggesting a Victorian Brooklyn that's all myth) changing hands at top dollar. Oh, and the neo-Tudor's on Chester Court and the Georgian Revivals of Albemarle Terrace, to run with the theme. There are so many gorgeous stabilized rental apartment buildings of the pre-war variety that our district will likely (hopefully anyway) remain livable, rowdy, exciting, surprising and full of the guts, brains and sweat of an honest-to-goodness REAL New York City neighborhood. We're the real deal, and we deserve a real representative in City Hall.

    (Speaking of City Hall, we've got a steaming hot mayoral race going on, and frankly I've been so buried in local community stuff I haven't really been paying attention. Seems to me de Blasio and Thompson will have the upper hand in our area. I have yet to meet a single person excited about Quinn. The rest of the field look like a bunch of dorks to me, though Liu has been fairly tough as a Comptroller. And Weiner? Really? Frankly, I don't WANT to know what my elected leaders looks like with their shirts off. And now, as is often the case, I'm on a tangent and talking out my asphalt. Feel free to comment on your thoughts for Mayor!)

    What this competitive mayoral race means, hopefully, is that this September 10 Democratic Primary will likely spur a much larger turnout than 2009, the last time we elected a council person. Our district tallied a pathetic 6,000 or so votes that cycle, and elected Eugene over two mediocre campaigners, and yet the incumbent tallied only about 58% of those who bothered to show up at the polls. Remember the district has over 120,000 people in it. You figure at least 50K can vote, and since most are registered as Democrats, and it's the primary where these things are won...well, Flatbush isn't exactly winning any Civic Responsibility Awards. Other neighboring districts voted at twice that rate. (Every wonder why so little gets done around here?) To those who DID vote, I know I'm preaching to the choir. (And what a wonderful richly voiced tapestry of a choir you are, too!) But we can do much better, and at least if the incumbent is reelected, we'll know democracy made it so. And we can cry into our loose chads.

    We have three challengers to Dr. Eugene's throne. John Grant is sweet; I met him at the CB9 meeting. He will not win many votes, if he can even accumulate enough signatures to get on the ballot. Sylvia Kinard is starting to rev her engines. Besides being the ex-spouse of Bill Thompson (here's a fantastically gossipy piece on their divorce), she's a lawyer who seems way too eager to step into the spotlight - she ran unsuccessfully for congress last year, so maybe (certainly) she has some extra bread in the collection plate, and needs to spend it on another campaign. Is she merely fishing for a job? Out to upstage her jerk husband? Maybe. She's smart, she's got experience, but her credentials reek of insider-ism, and same ol' same ol'. Prove me wrong, but she just seems too traditional a candidate for such a flashy district. Which leaves us with Saundra Thomas (no relation), and this is what she looks like when she's doing her favorite thing - hanging out with and listening to the needs of young people:

    I've only known her since February, but I gotta say I've grown to respect and dig her a lot in a short time. She's very, very real. And by that I mean she doesn't put on airs, she's not overly slick or politician-y. She knows the City well, its people, and most of all, she knows the way kids are often left behind, far behind, in this City of wealth, prestige and power. She'll listen to you, but she won't pander. She's not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, and she carries herself with dignity and respect for others. As they might say in Crown Heights, she's a mensch, and her reputation as such is echoed by those who know her.

    This would be her first elected office. In early conversations I could sense that despite her years as WABC TV's VP of Community Affairs, where it was her job to get out there in front of people, and assess the needs and efficacy of countless non-profits, and dole out philanthropic dough, and  get honored a time or two for her dedicated service, she was/is still new to the game of electioneering. However she's grown more confident in the last few weeks and is really strongest one-on-one with people. But most of you probably won't spend a lot of time with her between now and September, so in the spirit of active bloggery, I did what any Qurious Quasi-Journalistic Brooklynite would do...I asked her to come over to my house and sit on my stoop one night and talk turkey. My first question? How would someone with little experience in politics hit the ground running. Answer? It's all about your network, the hires and volunteers you surround yourself with. True, true. A council candidate needn't be an experienced legislator, but she dang well better hire one. And be a fast learner. Added Ms. Thomas:

    I would want someone strong in legislation, and someone, actually a few people who are really good at constituent services. This is a crucial part of a council person's job. People want a place to bring their problems. I did that a lot at WABC. We will be responsive and caring, and if we don't know the answer we will find out what we need to know and bring it to you.

    A NYC Councilperson needs to communicate. And it's important to know that different people have different access to technology. How do you deal with seniors and people who aren't technologically savvy? You must be able to reach out the old fashioned way, AND have a strong online presence.

    I want someone in my office who's excellent at being a liaison between the various constituencies. We need collaboration between the different parts of the district. We're not communicating with each other now. If we get something right somewhere, the other parts need to know about it. And I'd want a whole committee dedicated to youth and education, because that's where my passion lies.

    Q: Your social media person, Danny Hairston, said something that will always stick with me, I think. He talked about kids in Brownsville, surfing the subways. Not a crowd likely to be given much in the way of opportunity. And in his program, he comes up to these kids and says "hey, you wanna go snowboarding? we can sign you up for that." And once the kids are out of their neighborhood and all the stuff going down there, they can open up, maybe talk about the way they really want to live their life, not just the streets and dead-end jobs.

    ST: Danny's figured out how to bring youth to the table, and new ways to use their skills and talent. You look at kids who are into hip-hop culture and rap, they're amazing writers. Innovation is happening all over around this stuff. A program in Texas has former drug dealers, just out of prison, and hones their business skills. You gotta work with people where they are.

    Q: What about the most difficult kids, the known dealers, the ones who might have guns and that we hear about all the time.

    ST: I know where the drug dealers are in my neighborhood. These wild kids, I engage them, I'm not afraid to talk to young people. They're a lot more respectful than you'd think. People don't talk to them, they're afraid. And the problem gets worse. We've got to engage them, talk to them.

    Q: I feel like we've all become so fearful we just avoid people on the street we think might be into "the life." And I emphasize the word "might," because it's hard sometimes to tell who's cool and who's not. Tell me about the makeup of the district. People call Flatbush a black neighborhood. How black?

    ST: I was just looking at the numbers today. It's 59% black; less than 20% white; and among the other you've got Asian, Hispanic, Southeast Asian (Pakistan, Burma, Yemen), you name it.

    Q: And among that overarching group referred to as "black" the diversity is astounding. As a newcomer years ago, I don't think I had any idea how many ways a person could be "black." I mean I knew theroretically, but not up close and in person. African-Americans of every background and "class," West Indians from every island, Africans,'s just remarkable. And the district goes how far east?

    ST: To Kingston. And west to roughly Coney Island.

    Q: With Empire on the north and a weird step-like zig zag on the south, heading down towards the Junction. What's the key to victory?

    ST: I've got some good people in my corner. But being new you got prove you can do it. The Unions, for instance, ask "what's your number to win?"  And they want to see how much money you can raise, and how many ballot signatures you can get. In the end, it's gonna come down to who comes out to vote.

    Q: Does your partner, Susan Siegal, come up in conversations with folks?

    ST: Absolutely. She used to head Flatbush Development Corporation. She was very involved in getting Cortelyou Road off the ground, and starting the farmer's market. She was part of a group called Friends of Cortelyou Road, with Jan Rosenberg (Brooklyn Hearth Realty) long before the area became trendy. I'm always happy to talk about Susan. She's one of the deeply committed stakeholders in Ditmas.

    Q: Let's talk more about youth. Beyond the obvious other things that people are concerned about - like public safety and affordable housing - what to do for young people seems like a huge issue for the area.

    ST: You know I really want to figure out a way to engage businesses with young people in the community and bring clergy, schools, business owners together to talk about ways to bring youth in. There was a time when clergy could do this; we need to try again. And we need to create apprenticeships...we need a mechanism to do that. People don't know what to do with these kids...they're scared of them in some cases. Too scared to engage them.

    Q: And of primary importance to so many in the district - immigration?

    ST: I'm very progressive on pathways to citizenship. I will be every bit as effective working for the rights of immigrants in this neighborhood as we're seeing now, and better. I can see that so many people I talk to WANT to vote.

    Q: Let's talk about affordable housing. This seems like something politicians give a lot of lip service too. So many of the issues of housing come back to landlords for me. Politicians talk about rent stabilization, because that's something you can vote on. But I believe the power of capitalism is just too great. The lure of money, fast money, steady big money. That's where change happens, and it happens so quickly...

    At which point it started to sound like I was interviewing myself because I kept on talking about affordable housing like I was a politician. Saundra sounded  all the right notes, and echoed my frustration at the lack of real options to deal with rapid change and greedy landlords.

    AND now, for those brave enough to make it to the end of this post, I ask you to pose your own questions in the comments, and I'll ask Saundra to respond in a separate post once I've compiled them. Anyone game? You may consider this post 1 on the subject. I'll continue to check in with Saundra on the issues that you know, as a Q reader, are near and dear to my heart - from traffic and trash and crime to community building and plazas and the green metal Flatbush trees. Maybe we can get Saundra's partner Susan to come and help us start a green-market on the Q plaza? Hmm?

    Let me say it loud and clear - electing Saundra isn't the's just the beginning. And you have my word that I'll do my best to hold her feet to the fire. Not literally of course, that would be cruel and illegal. Probably more like a persistent nudging, but you get the idea.

    Don't forget to go to Saundra's website and get on her e-list or give, if you're so inclined. Her campaign wants people to weigh in on the "education issues" section of the site.  They'll be monitoring it closely.

    I guess this could be described as an endorsement. Maybe not the most important online endorsement, but definitely the first. And if you can't be the best, be the first, as my dear Auntie Merriwether used to say.*

    *this is a complete fiction used to bolster the Q's cred as a Will Rogers folksy type.

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    Honestly, Montrose Morris is such a gem of a historian I can't even begin to sing her praises highly enough. First, look at this awesome advertisement for the gorgeous duplexes on Parkside btw Flat & Bed. Then read Morris's outstanding story of Melrose Park, which stood on Bedford between Winthrop and Clarkson. The pictures are absolutely priceless.

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    Please note: address change!Right in the heart of Lefferts now...

    From Amy of the Youth Committee at Community Board 9, comes the following announcement. I'm absolutely blown away by these young kids. Establishing a relationship now with a local babysitter, when they're young, means they can grow with your family. Since they're still in school, they probably won't be right come fall for all your daycare needs. BUT it's incredibly helpful to have some names and numbers at your fingertips. Am I right? Also, you'll be investing in the community by hiring local. These kids need the gig - please come and give 'em a shot. What do you have to lose? :

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    Via the Times comes news that Chester Court resident Saul Bolton is opening a restaurant at the Brooklyn Museum. This is such HUGE news I can hardly believe it. I had to check the, not April 1.

    Wow. Congrats on inking the gig, Saul. Our own neighbor is about to transform our local institution. Dude has a Michelin star! This is big, big, big news.

    NY Times on Saul at BM (hee hee)

    Ruby Washington/The New York Times

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  • 07/11/13--11:26: PLG Arts Shows - Tonight!

  • If you're looking for something to do tonight, look no further (farther?) than these fun activities from local non-profit PLG Arts. Noel Hefele is an extraordinary landscape artist (seriously his stuff is sublime) and has a show that opens at TUGBOAT at 6PM. Sure to be stupendous; bring your checkbook (remember those?). Real artists don't take AmEx.

    The Inkwell on Rogers (what, you've never been? and you complain there are no cute bars around here?) has live jazz from vocalist Andrea Wolper and her trio. Go get a drink and check it out, then comment here. Would love to hear what you think (I'll be busy crimping my hair, painting my nails, and watching the kids or I'd be there too).

    All relevant info below:

    PLG ARTS is pleased to present a perfect summer evening of the Arts in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. We are presenting TWO events, minutes away from each other, all within the neighborhood.

    Starting at 6pm, join us at Tugboat Tea Company (546 Flatbush Ave) for an opening reception featuring the landscape paintings of Noel Hefele. Noel paints familiar landscapes with an evocative brush stroke. Many of the paintings are of places a mere stones throw away from the art show. PLG Arts is collaborating with Tugboat Tea Company, a great local coffee shop, to curate a monthly Local Artist Series. For more information on this project check out our website.

    Beginning at 8pm, Andrea Wolper Trio will perform at the Inkwell Cafe (408 Rogers Ave). Andrea is giant singer with an inventive, thrilling, appealing musical vision. With her long-time trio Michael Howell on guitar and Ken Filiano on bass, this singer/improviser/songwriter invites audiences to a spirited ride through terrain both familiar and full of surprises. PLG Arts is collaborating with the Inkwell Cafe to produce bi-monthly Jazz concerts, featuring a fabulous array of musical talent. For more information on this project check out our website.

    We look forward to seeing you! No need for the subway—you can walk!

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    Miss Carmen is at it again, and every Saturday. For your kids aged 3-6, you show up at the Lefferts Montessori on Rogers and spend 2 hours with the delightful Miss C, science teacher extraordinaire. During these summer months, a 2 hour thang to do with the kiddies is priceless. You can do single sessions at this point for $50, but they're filling up fast!

    Summer Science Saturdays.

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    First off, just do it. The survey takes like no time at all. It's desperately needed to get the Merchant's Association along the Flabenue off the ground for real. It's called FEPMA, and it's been on life support for many years. Let's revive it, folks. It's the first step towards a thriving commercial corridor, and I KNOW from the dozens of comments recently that this is vitally important to the vast majority of you. A survey is not much to ask, is it? Pretty please?

    Btw, the Pratt Area Community Council is involved now, and that's a big, big plus. They know how to do this stuff, and are consulting with the current FEPMA leaders, to do this thing right.

    Here's the whole story from Delroy Wright,

    Dear Community Leader:

    I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Pratt Area Community Council (PACC). PACC is a local non­profit organization that has served the central Brooklyn community for 49 years by developing and managing affordable housing opportunity and by providing direct technical assistance to small businesses. PACC has been very successful in its commercial revitalization initiative for over 15 years. One of PACC’s prominent successes in merchant organizing is the formation of the Fulton Area Business (FAB) Association now called the FAB Alliance Business Improvement District, a public­private partnership that provides extensive supplementary services such as increased sanitation, security, and marketing to the Fulton Street corridor.

    With that said, we have asked PACC to initially lead with our initiative to formally organize a merchants association that will work to create a vibrant commercial corridor along Flatbush Avenue. A primary mission of the association will be to strategically plan ways to support the quality businesses and to compliment the current retail mix along Flatbush Avenue. The merchants association will also be instrumental in addressing our neighborhood concerns such as vacancy, foot traffic and littered sidewalks. To further stimulate the development of Flatbush Avenue, the Flatbush Empire Parkside MerchantsAssociation (FEPMA) in collaboration with PACC is now conducting a Commercial Needs Survey.

    The Flatbush Avenue Commercial Needs Survey is designed to assess local residentsshopping experiences on Flatbush Avenue and gather their input on what types of businesses are needed/wanted in this area. Simply, this survey will assist in determining what residents enjoy in the neighborhood as well as determine what is lacking. The survey will also help FEPMA and PACC appropriately recruit businesses.

    This survey can be found by clicking on the link It takes less than 5 minutes to complete. So please take a moment to read each question carefully and answer to the best of your ability for your entire household. Thank you for your time!

    Delroy Wright
    Interim President ofFEPMA

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    Though some of the injuries were severe, it does not appear that anyone will die. 

    Three people were shot, two women, one man, when a small get together went terribly wrong. Seems the original guys at the soiree left, then came back with a gun, so it would stand to reason they were upset about something, an offense or dis no doubt, involving matters of amour or lust or turf. These folks were familiar to the cops, and youngish, and while it would be comforting (somewhat) to make sense of all the violence, a gang war perhaps, it would appear that the guns themselves, and a willingness to use them, are the real problem here, no matter what you hear from guns rights activists or racists.

    Arguments and resentments are inevitable. Shootings are not. There is an intractable reality, not just around here, but throughout America. that a dispute unchecked must be ultimately expressed with a lethal weapon. There would need to be intermediaries...brave friends, active leaders, "gang interventionists," and ADULTS...real adults - to stop the madness. When none are to be found, we're all treated to the gunfire, and young people are killed, or traumatized, or perhaps worse of all, not cared about at all. Occasionally someone will express concern for the players...mostly, it's just concern for our own safety, and understandably so I suppose.

    It's no joke. The answers take courage, and involve engagement - direct engagement. Who are the brave souls to take up the cause? Among my peers, I've met no one. Some of us are meeting to work with the D.A., and that's promising. But what that involves is more enforcement, more toughness, not love or parenting or mentoring or reasoning.

    No lessons learned. No warnings heeded. Nobody around, nothing but a "strategic"police tower just yards away, stopping nothing, solving nothing, meaning nothing.

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    Brownstoner reports that Hello Living, an oddly named developer of lots of apartments (like the one at right on Washington at Pacific)

    is going to build at 651 New York Ave at Hawthorne. Is this Lefferts? You be the judge. But I've always liked NY Ave and it's close to Kings County Nurseries and Mama Louisa's sammich shoppe.

    Apparently you can buy in to this kind of thing long before they even break ground. Facebook page here. Sounds like a risky leap of faith to me, but it sounds like Brooklyn real estate has flown off its rocker. (A commenter posted this warning story.) If I were looking for a place in the City right now I'd be looking anywhere but brownstone Brooklyn. Partly because it's red hot and I'm accustomed to going with the crowd that goes contrarywise (and we most certainly are a crowd unto ourselves), but there are so many great neighborhoods to discover in Queens, Bronx, YONKERS! Yes, Yonkers. I've been saying it for awhile and I'll say it again. Yonkers is going to be the cutting edge place to be, mark my words (if it isn't already. remember when you read about it in the Old Gray Lady it's already OVER).

    Here's B-stoner's pick of the location:

    I don't think it's finished yet, unless camping is the new thing in "green" living. I'm a fan of the guy who's reading the sign in the pic thinking "really? they want to build what in the where now?" I guess he doesn't read Brownstoner...

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    From green thumb Elizabeth C. comes this picture of the rare Sign Tree, thought to be extinct, but apparently thriving in the warm Caledonian sun on Parade Place. The old Caledonian Hospital, soon to be known as 123 on the Park, a major rental project developed by the Chetrit Group, was responsible for the genocide of these trees in pursuit of its healing sap, long sought after by Scottish Vikings for its ability to cure mortal cases of acid reflux and/or persistent hiccups.

    The Sign Tree is notable for its specific leaf structure, which often resemble missives from the NYC DOT and NYPD.

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  • 07/17/13--06:58: Crime Blotter for June
  • From Crime Fighting Duo Nicole/Vinnie comes the hand-made crime blotter for the 71st Precints "Lefferts" area. If you see something missing, please comment so we can forward to F/M and see why it was left out. They're not infallible of course, but we'd like this to be reasonably accurate, since it's just a chunk of the precinct. Please note that some crimes that feel like they happened near us actually happened in the 70th (southside of Clarkson, Parkside on down) or the 67th (east of Bedford south of Clarkson). There's a few recent crimes from Flatbush reported here, south of the 71. If someone wants to follow N/V's lead for the 70, call the community affairs division of the precinct and speak to either Kim Walker or Dominic Scotto at (718) 851-5557.

     Take it away N/V:

    Hi Folks, here is this month's crime report.
    Crime Report
    June 1 - July 15, 2013

    June 4th, 8PM. Flatbush and Lincoln. 14 yr old male robbed of cell phone, 18 yr old female arrested.

    June 6th, 11PM. 78 Midwood. Male robbed of cell phone and $100 in cash.

    June 9th, 11PM. 1199 Nostrand. Commercial store, robbery and arrest.

    June 18th, 6PM. Ocean and Flatbush. Cell phone robbery, 19 yr old male arrested.

    June 20th, 9:30PM. Bedford and Hawthorne, cell phone robbery.

    June 20th, midnight. 280 Parkside. $120 in cash stolen.

    June 21st, 7PM. Lefferts and Rogers. Cell phone taken, male arrested.

    June 22nd, 5PM. 75 Hawthorne. Attempted robbery but nothing was taken.

    June 22nd, 5:30PM. Midwood and Flatbush. Chain snatching.

    June 24th, 6:30pm. Lefferts and New York. Bike stolen.

    June 27nd, 8:30PM. Sterling & Rogers. Cell phone snatching.

    June 30th, 11PM. Flatbush and Maple. Attempted robbery with simulated firearm, perp ran away.

    July 4th, midnight. Flatbush and Ocean Ave. Attempted robbery of a car, three arrests.

    July 4th, 5PM. Sterling and Nostrand. $10 taken from victim.

    July 5th, 2:30AM. 305 Ocean Ave. Cell phone snatching.

    Felony Assaults
    June 2nd, 5:30PM. Parkside & Nostrand. Person stabbed.

    June 13, 2AM. 354 Rutland. Two people shot over a dispute over a girlfriend. One person is arrested; the other two are still at large.

    June 22nd, midnight. 130 Fennimore Street. two males shot, both in the right arm. No arrests, the police know who the shooter is but the victims refuse to ID the shooter.

    July 14th, 5AM. Nostrand and Sterling. Victim was attacked by five people. Suffered broken ankle. One person arrested.


    June 3rd, 8AM. 122 Fennimore. Perp came in through rear window, took government bonds.

    June 4th, 3AM. 59 Hawthorne. Came in through front door. Took unknown property.

    June 6th, noon .78 Hawthorn. Came in through front door, took electronics.

    June 8th, 8PM. 351 Clarkson. Perp broke into a commercial truck. Took tools.

    June 9th,6AM. 711 Flatbush. Came in through rear window, two arrests were made.

    June 24th, 7PM. 359 Clarkson. Perp broke into commercial truck. Took tools.

    July 5th, 6:30AM. 358 Lincoln Rd. Perp came in through front window and took jewelry and electronics.

    July 10th, 2:30PM. 244 Hawthorne. Per came in through window, unknown property taken.

    July 11th, 9AM. 611 Flatbush Ave. Came in through front door, took $400 in cash.

    Grand Larceny (No physical force between victim and perp)
    June 5th, 8PM. Ocean and Flatbush. Cell taken. Arrest made.

    June 14th, 8:30PM. Washington and Lefferst. Cell phone taken, arrest was made.

    June 28, 6PM. 205 Clarkson. Cell phone taken.

    July 7th, 4PM. 199 Parkside. Pickpocket took $120 in cash.

    July 14th, 3AM. 321 Clarskon. Took electronics from car.

    Grand Larceny Auto
    June 26th, 10AM. 1117 Nostrand Ave. 2005 Blue Mercury Grand Marquis stolen. Arrest was made.



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  • 07/17/13--19:20: The Parade Pound?
  • Hard to say who would do such a thing. A stolen dog ended up being dumped in the Parade Ground, after being dognapped from his owners in Mill Basin earlier this week. Seems the mutt was tossed in the equipment holding area, and was scaring passers by with his heft and size and bark before being identified as a lovable "marshmallow" of a doggy.

    Dog is safely back with owner. I'm not an avid dog follower (though my dear old cat Raymond just died, so I do understand pet love), but if someone can explain to me why such a thing happens I'll perhaps be able to make sense of it. Elizabeth C. says they sometimes steal 'em to breed 'em. Is this dog some sort of valuable pure breed? Anyone? Nice mug though!

    Elizabeth C.
    (the photographer is Elizabeth C. not the dog.
    Elizabeth C. is a human being and becoming something of a
    Caledonian correspondent of late. Thanks EC!)


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    With just 24 hours left in their Kickstarter Campaign, Ocean Avenue residents Justine and Tom are planning a new restaurant "Mountain," which has the tagline Apothecary Kitchen. You got to see the video to hear it described - it's very unusual but I think I get it! They're both acupuncturists and herbal experts, Tom owned and was chef for a successful '90s West Village restaurant (Miracle Grill) AND they plan to have performances and use fresh and healthy stuff.

    So they're locals, and that would be enough for a Q post. BUT they're also negotiating as I write this to move into the old Chinese Restaurant next to the Associated on Franklin near Carroll (903 Franklin). So it's South Franklin, not the much-hyped Franklin north of Eastern Parkway. True commercial pioneers you could call them I suppose, since that stretch is a bit drab at the moment.

    View Larger Map
    Since they're talking money with the landlord, it looks like they'll need closer to $30,000 than the nearly $23,000 they've raised through this campaign. If you like what you see, please contribute to the creation of the very Zen joint.


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  • 07/20/13--04:57: Our Leper Colony
  • Ever get the the powerful sense that gun violence is an inevitable part of life in Central Brooklyn? Serious, persistent, yes. And though easy access to guns is a major drag, it probably won't go away at the wave of a magic pistol. As I've tried to understand the recent spate of shootings in the 71st and 70th precincts, I've noticed that other neighborhoods are trying new tactics, while I see little evidence of innovation around here.

    Friday's NY Times highlights the Man Up! Program which is quite literally saving lives in East New York, which is currently experiences serious drops in crime while the shooting continues unabated elsewhere. The Man Up! approach echoes other efforts seen in detail in the film The Interrupters, which you can watch on PBS for free at that link, and it's required viewing for anyone trying to understand the widespread use of guns to settle dispute. The brave souls (usually ex-toughs themselves) who stand between warring factions, are often the only ones capable of understanding and mediating these issues before they become mortal.

    From the Times article:

    The founder of Man Up!, Andre T. Mitchell, said the group was trained in public health approaches developed first in Chicago by the Cure Violence Initiative. The creator of the initiative, Gary Slutkin, an epidemiologist, advocated fighting violence as if it were an epidemic, so that it was essential to interrupt its spread — just as a contagious disease is contained or prevented.
    “People think the violence is just about gangs, but it’s not really,” Mr. Mitchell said. “The majority are interpersonal disputes: ‘Why you looking at me?’ ‘No, why you looking at me?’ Our job is to get them before they reach for the gun.”
    The Q catches some flack from time to time for taking up so much blog acreage talking about crime. I apologize if it's a bummer, but I don't apologize for focusing my attention on an issue that is literally killing people. As the cops like to remind me, I guess to make me feel safer (which is pretty perverse when you think about it), the story of shootings in Central Brooklyn is a story of black men shooting black men. And so, it stands to reason, if you're concerned about black men killing black men, you're probably going to look for solutions to the epidemic. However, if you're primary concern is your own safety (despite the remarkably low chance of being caught in the middle of gunfire), you're likely to focus your attention on ways to contain the men doing the violence, through incarceration, stop-and-frisks, more and more cops, surveillance, etc.

    Were the epidemic to happen to a less pariah-like group, I think it's safe to say that the emphasis would be on solutions rather than containment. If young white women were dying in numbers out of proportion to the general society, we'd bust our butts trying to find a cure. The way we deal with poor black men reminds me of the way poor people with tuberculosis were thrown into "sanitariums" to keep them from the general population. If you had more money, you might get better treatment (think minimum security prisons). This from Wikipedia:

     Tuberculosis caused the most widespread public concern in the 19th and early 20th centuries as an endemic disease of the urban poor. In 1815, one in four deaths in England was due to "consumption". By 1918, one in six deaths in France was still caused by TB. After determining the disease was contagious in the 1880s, TB was put on a notifiable disease list in Britain, campaigns were started to stop people from spitting in public places, and the infected poor were "encouraged" to enter sanatoria that resembled prisons (the sanatoria for the middle and upper classes offered excellent care and constant medical attention). Whatever the (purported) benefits of the "fresh air" and labor in the sanatoria, even under the best conditions, 50% of those who entered died within five years (circa 1916).
    You might think the analogy far-fetched, but I don't think so at all. In fact, I'd take it a step further, and say that what WE, as members of mainstream society, are most scared of is CATCHING the bug, i.e. getting shot ourselves. Thus, containment. We identified the problem, and we don't want it to infect us, but rather than treating it as a sickness in the whole body (society), we've decided to create leper colonies.

    And the biggest problem? The president put his finger on it yesterday. It is EXTREMELY hard to tell who has the bug and who doesn't. Therefore, Trayvon or Barak could easily be misdiagnosed by an amateur doctor like George Zimmerman. And since our fear as a culture is outsized, an amateur like George might take them out, rather than risk infection. How would you like to mistaken for a person contagious with a deadly disease? The stigma could be devastating to your life, social development, self-esteem.

    Okay, I've taken that line of reasoning far enough. you get the point.

    Man Up! gets its dough from none other than the wonder boys Michael Bloomberg and George Soros, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year, to find solutions to young mens' struggles that don't resort to incarceration, incarceration, incarceration.  The Young Men's Initiative has this mission statement:

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg launched the Young Men’s Initiative (YMI) in August 2011. This cross-agency enterprise is the culmination of 18 months of work, begun when the Mayor committed in his 2010 State of the City address to finding new ways to tackle the crisis affecting young black and Latino men in New York City. Over the next three years, the City will invest a combination of public and private funds, totaling $42 million annually, to support new programs and policies designed to address disparities between young black and Latino men and their peers across numerous outcomes related to education, health, employment and the criminal justice system. These programs and policies will break down barriers to success and help young black and Latino men achieve their professional, educational and personal goals. The Young Men’s Initiative is funded through a combination of city funding and generous contributions from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Campaign for Black Male Achievement at the Open Society Foundation.
    It may be a blip, but right now, violent crime is going dramatically down in E.NY (read the article). It's going up around here, and the main culprit is unmediated disputes.

    Any leaders out there going to step up and see that Flatbush gets its share of the resources? Anyone?

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    A few days ago, the Q reported that a Hello Living development is going up at New York Avenue and Hawthorne. Now, from a reader, comes word of another project on the north side of Lenox near Nostrand. Forget for a moment that this time out they are DEFINITELY stretching the limits of a neighborhood known as Prospect Lefferts Gardens (though followers of the Q will know I am not a fan of such rigid nabe boundaries, and I don't care for the name at all. Well, I like "Prospect Lefferts Gardens" a lot more than "PLG," though Prospect like the park, Lefferts like the original homestead and Manor I get. But it does not excuse the Garden(s) when there is only one Botanic Garden. The hyphen sometimes employed between Prospect and Lefferts is simply inexplicable and indefensible, no matter WHAT our delightful neighborhood historians might tell you. But now I've lost focus...)

    What's news, beyond the fact that development is heating up around here, is that HL asks that YOU the buyer pony up dough long before the building is built. $25K initially, then at least $300K before even seeing the final product. Now, I understand the idea of buying before receiving. I do it on all the time. this really a legitimate way to sell apartments? I thought developers had to get their own financing for buildings. And it seems awful risky for the buyer. What if the project falls through? I read the contract and I can SEE that you get your money back. But seeing it written and actually getting a certified check for $325,000 seems like quite a bridge from clouds to earth. Not exactly a rainbow either (did you see that on Saturday after the downfall? Goosebumps...)

    Here's the publicly available brochure. Ping* me if you want a copy of the "confidential" terms statements.

    *A certain NY Times employee living in Lefferts tells me "ping" means communicate with me whatever quick way you know how. Email's best for me, thank you. Or rather Electronic-Mail, wherein the hyphen is okay with me. And shouldn't there be a comma after Hello in Hello Living? hee hee

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  • 07/22/13--19:18: East Flatbush Thrashcore
  • Y'all need to be aware that stardom looms for three nearby-ers...12ish-year-olds Malcolm Brickhouse, Jarad Dawkins and Alec Atkins, whose East Flatbush basement roars with the rock of ages. Inspired (clearly) by Metalica, these guys have gotten notice by playing (how brilliant is this) at Times Square. Clearly moms and/or dads are involved, getting their gear out there and setting up all kamikaze style. Check out this amazing curbside video and if you're feeling it, jump to 4:50 for a killer drum intro and thrash moment. Probably good they don't sing...singers really can get in the way of a good riff. Rock on with your sixth grade (going into seventh) selves!

    From Ebony magazine:“I started playing when I was about 5 or 6, because my mom’s friend told her to get me a guitar,” Malcolm says from the rehearsal space of a parent’s basement. (Sporting an Afro the size of The Boondocks’ Huey Freeman, he’s currently wearing a cast on his arm, dislocated doing monkey-bar backflips at day camp.) “At the time, she was trying to see what my different talents were. She tried me out for piano but it didn’t work, and then she tried me out for guitar. So that’s what I’m playing now.” “I’m waiting to get drum lessons from Steve Jordan,” says Jarad Dawkins. The John Mayer Trio drummer has recently taken Jarad under his wing. “Other than that, I’m just working from home with my electric drum kit to make songs better.” Unlocking the Truth is almost done with their second full-length collection of original songs, inspired per usual by the likes of Slipknot and Metallica, and written by the tweeners themselves.

    More on the band here:

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