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    So, you might ask, why should I attend some crime thing up on Classon? Well, to put it mildly, I think we're at a serious juncture in the world of police/community relations, and with the uptick in serious crime in the City, it might really be time to listen to what the cops are saying and speak our minds back at them. Hopefully in a civil environment! The topics include Youth Programs, Body Cameras, Gangs, Prevention...and here's the thing that recommends this one to me: it's run by Patrol Borough Brooklyn South. A strangely constructed phrase, this Patrol Borough Brooklyn South. But what PBBS means is that it's not about a single precinct, but rather the command and control center that deals with deploying resources, identifying hot spots, coordinating efforts with the D.A. and all that good stuff. It's the mysterious middle-management part of the NYPD that's actually very important to how the police engage with our neighborhoods. Deputy Chief Jeffrey Maddrey is "the Man," and he's the Bratton appointed head of PBBS. He's on the left in this pic:


    So come on out if you're even remotely interested in improving BOTH relations and enforcement.

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    See that word "Deli" to the left of popular swillery Midwood Flats? That's about to become an outpost of popular sushi joint Silver Rice, a place that earned raves up above Eastern Parkway. So what do we know besides the killer reviews on the Yelp?

    Heading over to their site the Q found just the description he was looking for. I find the verbiage charming to say the least. I suspect this will be a very welcome addition to the restaurant choices 'round here.


    "We are Hideki and Sonny, long-time friends and the proud owners of Silver Rice. Both from Nagoya, Japan, we were brought together, of course, by food (free pizza at a hostel in Chelsea, to be exact). Combining our individual knowledge of the food industry, we started throwing around ideas to bring Japanese food culture to New York City. Ten years after we met, we opened the doors to our first restaurant: Silver Rice. We are thrilled by the positive responses of our customers and are excited to continue building our business partnership through additional ventures in the food industry."

    thx Mindy for the tip!

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    Artist David Eppley has begun. Folks, YOU made this happen. We made it happen. It's starting. I happen to be in Miami this weekend. I just this afternoon walked around the many murals of the Wynwood neighborhood, marveling at the power of street art. And then, Mr. Eppley sends me this:

    If you've ever seen a large grown man cry, you can picture it in your head.

    It was three years ago now that we brought the idea before the Community Board. Approvals were gained, donors came through, and all through it David never lost his belief or his determination. The kids that helped him make the flowers were amazing, and now...I just know this is gonna be the talk of the town!

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    How could you not love the news that the Empire Blvd entrance to the Botanic Garden is open again, starting tomorrow? And the new "Discovery Garden" is open as well.

    But the Q has a bone to pick. What's up with the new "Yellow Magnolia" bullshit? I've been eating at that wonderful Garden cafe, and LOVING it, since 1989 when I got a job for $19,400 a year working at The Brooklyn Museum. Then some crappy zeitgeist caterer comes in and totally messes it up. The chili sucks. No more burgers. No Chunky Chicken Salad. The Hot Dog is too skinny. The salads are...weird.

    Anyone else bummin'?



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  • 06/06/15--17:23: It's Nationwide
  • Wynwood
    Lest we forget that the travails of our community are born of deeper social and economic issues, the Q finds himself in Miami, doing a tour of duty for work that includes shepherding musicians for a couple of gigs in the trendy Wynwood neighborhood. As I write this, I'm at an old-school motel NOT in Miami Beach, but rather on the old Highway 1, a/k/a Biscayne Boulevard. At night, a DJ thumps by the pool, mostly clubby pop tunes, not particularly inspired but adequate for the Pool Party vibe this retro "boutique" hotel wants to convey. Will Smith isn't about to roll into the parking lot, but it's definitely a destination spot, albeit one for less-than-mighty wallets. (The upscale eatery attached is tres expensive however, particularly since about half of the dishes we sampled were TV-Chef attractive to look at, but, and here I'll use the technical culinary term - gross.)

    Wynwood Again
    Then, within the blink of an Uber, it's down to Wynwood again. So what's the chatter around this lovely (see above) professionally muralled and graffitied neighborhood south of the Design District? Gentrification, of course. In the macro, it's about people moving to cities, and cities doing their best to attract the right sorts. People who have more money, and are willing to spend and earn it. The cities grow their tax bases. Poorer neighborhoods get developed into desirable areas for newcomers and wealthier residents. "Upzoning" can provide greater density along corridors that provide easy access to the job hubs. Bars and cafes cater to the new upscale residents. And of course, implicit in it all, actually EXplicit if your head's on tight, are the requisite assurances to the newcomers that they will be safe walking to and from their cars, despite the constant bombarding of evidence to the contrary provided by the News at Eleven. Because yes, Miami has a very, very significant and populous underclass. With an extraordinarily high crime rate, Miami's upper class has designed its super-chic neighborhoods with crime at the very top of the priority list. So, much like Brooklyn, the wave of not-so-rich newcomers is highly correlated to peoples' sense of personal safety. (I say "sense" because it is still much more likely you will be a victim of violent crime if you live in one of the poorest neighborhoods.)

    So yes, there are two very, very different Miami's. One, the glitzy party-hearty expat capital of Latin America, built on a mound of cocaine and commerce, which in Miami are sort of one and the same. Last night I was talking to a lawyer, originally from Nebraska, very successful I suspect, who hasn't a single native English speaking client. He deals in wills and trusts and estates of wealthy Cubans and Nicaraguans and "residents" of the Cayman Islands. Miami is the place to park your money, buy a place and hold, in case all hell breaks loose back home. Sound familiar? Multi-million-dollar condos, sitting vacant most the year. And art. Moving down for the winter, out for the summer, over borders, sometimes to avoid taxation, sometimes to launder money. An art handler we met says that business is booming for those moving priceless artwork around, storing it, showing it, hiding it. And some of that work is strictly no-tell cash, benefiting those on each side of the transaction. Internationally famous Art Basel is HUGE business down here - it's grown hugely since hatching in 2001, just after 9/11. The whole neighborhoods of Wynwood and the Design District rely on its cache and its annual influx of wealth and polish. Some residents make most of their annual income during a couple weeks in December.

    So it comes as no surprise to read this from a local rag:

    A battle is brewing for the soul of Miami's most iconic neighborhood.
    Little Havana, the spiritual home of the Cuban diaspora that populated the area in droves following the 1959 revolution, is still mostly a blue-collar immigrant neighborhood. But proposed zoning changes for taller condos and more commercial development have activists worried those residents could be pushed out. Developers and city officials backing the changes argue they would revitalize an economically depressed neighborhood, but critics are pushing back.

    "The war is going to begin," Yvonne Bayona, a longtime resident and activist, tells New Times. "These high-rises are going to come, and they're going to eat us if we don't act quickly."
    And the artists, who once led the way in South Beach, then the Design District, then Wynwood...some say they're actually skipping over iconic Little Havana and heading right for Little Haiti. With development happening so quickly, why not just bypass the next "hot spot" altogether? So maybe, unlike Wynwood, the artists won't be needed. Build enough gated condos and perhaps you don't need the art. Artists, it appears, are seeing through the scheme and heading right past the next hot nabe to the NEXT hot nabe. Though let's be honest. "Artists" is a loose term. Many of the new residents called artists are really classic Bohemians, unshaven and unruly, searching for mates of the same temperament, in order to create children none-too-beholden to mom and dad's politics. Though even mom and dad have tattoos now and lived through grunge. (I know, I know, cynical Q. I was once one of those, so like a Borscht Belt comedian, I feel comfortable viciously mocking my people.)

    The war that Ms. Bayonda describes will be, as it will be elsewhere, short-lived. She cites the fact that she will fight because she is entitled to equal rights later in the article, but we all know the reality. An individual is not afforded rights that trump Trump. And in the case of Wynwood, the Trump is named Goldman. Tony Goldman. Or rather the David Walentas is named Tony Goldman, because Wynwood is a storyline ripped from Dumbo, a fabricated neighborhood, now one of the wealthiest in the nation. In a striking twist, Shepard Fairy, friend of Banksy and one-time noted for his outsider attitude, actually used Tony Goldman as the centerpiece of one of his Wynwood murals, toasting the Goldman family thusly:

    Kinda Creepy

    Largely portrayed as the redevelopment of underused urban neighborhoods, there's always another story under the surface, that of displacement, denial and disempowerment. For the greater good, mind you. In Wynwood, the good news, so we're told, is that less than 1,000 full-time residents have moved on. That's only in the fine print of course. Read a great conversation about the dueling Wynwood narratives, if you're interested.


    Listen, I'm a modern, moderately trendy guy. I have a Zipcar card! So I dial up the app, and find a Zip just a few blocks away. I note that this old industrial "fashion district," mostly one-time wholesalers and sweatshops, has been re-conceived as an ultimate party destination neighborhood for tourists and the locally Hip. A far cry from the louder, skimpy-dress, jacket-and-jeans, cocaine and high-heels South Beach, you can actually wear your Brooklyn-like urban gear here while sipping a Kraft Beer. (I actually had no idea that the originators of instant macaroni and cheese had become the brew of choice for the young generation, but people just can't shut up about their Kraft Beers.)e The businesses have been curated to perfectly match the up-is-down rich-is-poor-is-rich curated murals, and the overall effect is both wildly impressive and soul-crushing at the same time. It's hard to tell which music wafting out of bars is ironic and which is for real, meaning you might as well just like what you like because no one over 30 really cares anyway. The concept of guilty pleasure has sort of dried up for me. It's all just pleasure. Or not. Maroon 5 song "Sugar?" Pleasure. Maroon 5 generally? Extreme displeasure.

    I'm actually surprised when the Zip Lock clicks, and now I'm in, blasting the air conditioning in honor of the near-certain demise of this booming City, since even a couple feet of sea-rise will surely destroy the barrier island itself, and most of the rest of the area. The highest point in Miami is 12 feet above sea level. A massive hurricane will surely be devastating (for football buffs, I'll remind you the nickname of the local college team). The Great Hurricane of 1926 cost the City more than $100 billion in today's currency. Expect the massively upscaled Miami Beach to disappear. Expect the rest of Miami to drown. There is no system of locks to protect it. No political will to do anything but wait for the inevitable. Sheer luck is responsible for getting it this far.

    As I drive north along 2nd Avenue, I enter Little Haiti. An elevated highway quite literally divides it from the Wynwood enclave. I drive through probably a couple miles of dilapidated houses, unsafe-looking cinder block structures with handpainted signs, many of the side streets are either unpaved or riddled with potholes to the point they'd be preferably dirt. Public housing is quite attractive in contrast, mostly low-rise, and lots of folks are hanging outside on steps and on sidewalks. Check-cashing, liquor stores, bodegas, hair places, cafeterias with signs written in Creole, store front churches and botanicas, it feels very much like a foreign country. Clearly most cars don't take this strikingly direct route to Midtown Miami and other points north. It's not a pleasant reminder of economic and racial disparity, though it's certainly not shocking to my Clarkson Avenue eyes. Still, the space between houses, like Compton (was? is?), and the sporadic palm trees and littered old tires remind one that it ain't the denser Northeast. There's a different look to the poverty. Some homes look unloved, even garbage strewn about, but every third is decorated and painted to the nines, a sign of serious house pride, flowers in the windows and cheerful decorations of mixed religious origin.

    What's that on the horizon? One of America's many Martin Luther King Blvds, and a veering to the right puts me on 79th Street, headed for the Causeway. We're coming near the water now, and on my right I see the familiar barriers of gated communities, too close to the poverty I guess, and too close to the public transportation (diesel-spewing buses mostly) for comfort. The bridge over the Waterway is probably 20 feet above sea level, higher than the highest point of land in the entire City. What's that? A Citibike. A tourist has taken one from the Beach and ridden it up the bridge, providing a bit of real exercise. He'll be heading back to the docking station soon. Citibike only exists in Miami Beach and Downtown, so I'm told. A brave commuter living in one of MB's many high-rises could ride to work. I imagine a few actually do.

    Except for the actively managed public beach, it's actually quite difficult to get to the sand in Miami, since there are so few points of public access. I've only got an hour, so I'll just head south on Collins to the next causeway and back over to the mainland. I can see Fisher Island now, one of the most exclusive addresses in the country. You get there by boat. Talk about gated community. More like moated.

    I got the Zipcar back within an hour...two minutes to spare. It's cost me, with tax less than $11. Welcome to Miami, indeed.



    Little Haiti
    Little Crazy






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    If you know more, please share. This picture came from a neighbor:



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    To those of us who follow these kinds of things, the investment of real estate brokers MySpace is a big effing deal in the development of the neighborhood. From their press release for their Grand Opening at 661 Flatbush. I don't know why but they left off the close quote, which somehow seems apropos to me.
    MySpace NYC has been handling Lefferts Gardens listings out of its Franklin Avenue office since it was founded in 2008. “A large percentage of our agents have lived in the area for years, and we realized it was finally time to establish an office in the neighborhood,” said Guy Hochman, owner of MySpace NYC.
    Lefferts Gardens has a lot going for it: proximity to Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, streets lined with historic Victorian houses, and new bars and restaurants opening all the time. It’s increasingly becoming a destination for Brooklyn residents looking for reasonable rent in a neighborhood on the rise.
    As with all of MySpace NYC offices, the Lefferts Gardens office is designed to fit in with its neighborhood. The agents understand better than anyone both sides of apartment hunt in Lefferts Gardens—they want to provide a service for those seeking to join the neighborhood as well as those looking to relocate within it.



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    Apparently staffers for The Onion are now working for our Councilman. Perhaps most hilarious of all is the fact that I was reappointed to the Community Board by...you guessed it, Mathieu Eugene. Says so right there on the letter. I guess he thought I was a different Tim Thomas? The hockey player maybe? The basketball player? A guy who supports him?

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  • 06/09/15--07:25: The Birdman Stayeth
  • from flatbushed

    Fantastic piece on Winston of Rogers from Flatbushed. I've been dying to write a post on him for like the past hundred years. Thank you Flatbushed for a loving essay. (This cat can write!) Add him to your bloglist if you haven't already. And here's a piece on MY technician over on Flatbush, Voltan.

    A tidbit to whet your appetite:

    So Winston turned to his birds.
    For several hours each day, he shaves down raw cow horns. He then bends, manipulates, cuts and lacquers them until they’re reincarnated as miniature aquiline sculptures. Each bird, he estimated, requires roughly 80 hours of labor to complete.
    The origins of his self-created niche are not entirely clear. Winston said he recalls sculpting cow horns as a child and slowly perfecting his technique over the years. But he declined to explain why he only fashioned birds. Or why he selected cow horns as a lifelong medium.


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  • 06/10/15--10:01: Gunfight at the BP Corral
  • Surprise at the MTOPP demonstration today against Eric Adams and Community Board 9? A counter protest.


    photos by Warren B.
     The Borough President, it would appear, is not taking the constant berating without a counter-punch. Below, Alicia and all the MTOPP regulars behind bars. I mean, barricades.


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    Lenox at Bedford, and Lenox tween Rogers and Bedford. Bird cages. With birds. What gives?

    Birds Cooking In the Sun? Or Just Enjoying A Day Out On the Town?
    I don't know nothin' about birds, but beyond the curious imagery of the street art, is there a reason why one might not want the birds to bask in the hot sun for too long? Granted the temp outside is probably in the safe zone. But like Tantalus, I wonder if this isn't a Big Tease to these animals.

    I'm trusting, perhaps foolishly, that this is but a brief exhibition. Anybody know?



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    The march of progress? The marring of a neighborhood? Either way, Bedford is about to experience a serious makeover. This is but one new project, born of the death of two wood-frame houses. 1930 Bedford is between Hawthorne and Fenimore.


    Experts out there want to explain what's being said here? Four ambulatory medical offices. Gym. Class A apartments? 27 bikes, 21 cars...

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    thx RoxV
    I mean why not lie a bit in your rendering and make it look like something other than a holding cells? Actually, you ever notice that the world coop and the word coop are the same? As in 2 bedroom coop and chicken coop.

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    For years, the Flatbush Avenue street fair was a dismal affair. Poorly run, it often came down to a lot of noise but no fun. With a new grassroots merchants association ascendant, things might be much different. They're experimenting with a smaller swath of real estate as well, making it more compact. All good. Thx to Shelley at Play Kids for forwarding the below, lotsa questions you might have if you want to be a vendor. That could be anyone with a product or message! And table! Send a note to playkidsstore@gmail.com for an application and more information. And a street fair is happening this weekend as well, below Parkside. The poster is below the Parkside-Empire info.



    --



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  • 06/12/15--06:46: They're Gaining On Ya Empire
  • From, what else, The Real Deal, comes info on a building planned for 109 Montgomery, just north of MTOPP world headquarters. 12 stories. Does that count, in the vernacular, as a "Sky-Riser?" And what's up with this Karl Fischer guy? Every third new building in Brooklyn is designed by him. Talk about one guy remaking the look of an entire borough. Remember, if these things are built even remotely durably, they will be with us for decades. This is, again in the vernacular, positively NUTS.

    Handsome kid, that Asher (l.) Moonlights in a Boy Band Called 'N Mink
    Asher Abehsera and Aaron Lemma’s PWR realty firm has closed on the purchase of a Crown Heights development site near Prospect Park, The Real Deal has learned. The Brooklyn-based developer and partner Cornell Realty bought the site at 109-111 Montgomery Street from the nearby Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which owned the vacant lot since 1989. Building applications filed in March indicate plans for a 12-story residential building to be designed by architect Karl Fischer. PWR plans to move forward with the plans, which presently call for 172 residential units across 168,000 buildable square feet and 76 parking spaces. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cornell acquired a nearby development site last year, at 902 Franklin Avenue, that later also saw plans filed for 168,000 buildable square feet of residential space. 

    The developer bought that site for $14.5 million, or $86 per buildable square foot. - See more at: http://therealdeal.com/blog/2015/06/11/abehseras-pwr-picks-up-crown-heights-development-site/#sthash.FXoyuyqS.dpuf

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     Any info? Please send me a note and I'll forward anonymously. 

    Cops tell me one is dead, scene is on Flatbush between Parkside and Woodruff. But it would appear that one got hit but survived and took off, leaving Woodruff.

    This was at it appears 10:30 am Saturday:


     The Daily News picked up the story. Seems one victim got to the hospital after being hit in the chin. Authorities are investigating whether the shooter may have been someone else that also got hit.

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    The Q was worried that this follow-up meeting on crime in the neighborhood would get lost after a couple weeks of quiet. Surprise! Another shooting/murder, this time on Flatbush between Parkside and Woodruff, and we're starting to look like savants!


    Join Rebecca F., me, and members of local law enforcement for a follow-up to our meeting on April 20, wherein Eric Adams spent some time telling us how best to organize. Since then, Rebecca has done a great job working with a few committed neighbors on creating a "hot spots" map that can be shared with the precincts. Part of the idea is to hold the PsTB (powers that be) responsible for improving the safety of certain corners and buildings. If we say "there's a real problem with drugs and gangs at the corner of X&Y," we hope they'll not want to have to deal with explaining why a major crime took place there later.

    Come on down, and add your name to the email list. I for one would like to come out of this meeting with a little more intel on what exactly is the "gang" situation and whether any of the crime around here is related or random. For instance, Inspector Fitzgibbon told me a major bust was going to take place in the SW corner of the 71st Precinct (Bedford/Hawthorne area). Was that successful? What was going on and where? Etc.
    More on the shooting 4am Saturday morning.

    If you zoom out a bit, you'll see that we're hardly alone. Areas north, east, south and southwest of us are experiencing plenty of shootings too. It's easy to think we're under siege, but lots of times these crimes are disputes that just happen to blow up near your home. But sometimes it IS something that's happening next door or down the street, and we want to make sure we're getting the attention we deserve.

    If you're new, don't feel too, too bad. This stuff has been going on for a long, long time. And gratefully no innocent bystanders were hurt. We live in a very dense neighborhood, with a pretty sizable underclass and a fair amount of gang activity. This is true throughout central Brooklyn. It's a reality. And clearly not going away anytime soon. To pretend otherwise, would be deceitful.


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  • 06/15/15--05:22: More Violence On Flatbush
  • Four shot outside "restaurant." Oy gevalt. What does anyone know about this one? Near Winthrop, I'm told. No one dead, so we hear.

    UPDATE: Definitely not related to the bad guy shooting two early mornings before. D Avenue is cooperating, and arrests are imminent.

    http://7online.com/news/four-men-shot-outside-restaurant-in-brooklyn/785191/


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    This Chart Begs A Ton Of Questions

    Wow. What a great article. Thx for sending, PG! The first question...if the police were making nearly 700,000 stops in 2011, and just 45,000 last year...what are they doing with all that extra time?

    More to the point, while we are experiencing one of those awful closing-in-on-you feelings, the City in general (there's a great interactive map in that article that I can't embed) seems to be seeing an uptick in certain precincts, but certainly not all over. Well, I suppose that would be the case in any situation where Citywide went up. Though even in the nearby precincts, until recently, the levels were pretty level. Plus, murders went down even as stops & frisks dropped dramatically.

    Anyhoo, thought I'd share lest we all get caught up in some sort of frenzy about what S&F did or didn't do for violent crime statistics.

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  • 06/15/15--20:29: Extraordinary Food on Rogers
  • Dang. Me and Rudy just came back from a truly mind-blowing dinner at The Food Sermon. It's at 355 Rogers, one block above Empire. I know, I know, Caribbean food in Crofferts, big whoop. But Rawlston Williams and his chef make incredible dishes, like the Island Bowl where you pick your protein and sauce and rice and a beautiful, fresh and tasty salad. Drink the sorrel - it's the perfect blend of sweet and tang. I don't write about food, and you have no reason to trust my Neanderthal palate. Just do yourself a favor and go. It's small, you'll sit along the window. But trust me word is out and only gonna get outer.



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