Articles on this Page
- 01/29/16--07:36: _This Is What Indiff...
- 01/29/16--12:30: _Man Matching Q's De...
- 01/31/16--15:23: _The Flabenue Goes F...
- 01/31/16--16:01: _New Winthrop Neighbors
- 02/02/16--15:23: _Neighbor Takes Some...
- 02/03/16--12:22: _Scrapping
- 02/04/16--11:03: _Prosecution...and D...
- 02/05/16--07:59: _Blogger's Band Play...
- 02/05/16--09:26: _CB9 Chair Removes t...
- 02/05/16--17:02: _Et tu, Imani? Imani...
- 02/09/16--10:37: _Comic Relief - Sat ...
- 02/10/16--13:05: _Sound and Fury, Sig...
- 02/12/16--09:45: _Scumbags Harassing ...
- 02/12/16--10:20: _Oy. The Q Gets Stil...
- 02/23/16--06:58: _What Could Possibly...
- 02/24/16--07:28: _Last Night's CB9 Me...
- 02/24/16--10:08: _LGCS Closing? A Pet...
- 02/25/16--07:07: _The Substance
- 02/26/16--09:49: _To Being Or Not To ...
- 02/26/16--11:19: _The Sensational Seven
- 01/29/16--07:36: This Is What Indifference Gets You
- 01/29/16--12:30: Man Matching Q's Description Busted Buying Viagara
- 01/31/16--15:23: The Flabenue Goes Fratbush? More Like Vegas.
- 01/31/16--16:01: New Winthrop Neighbors
- 02/02/16--15:23: Neighbor Takes Some De(Con)struction Pics
- 02/03/16--12:22: Scrapping
- 02/04/16--11:03: Prosecution...and Defense.
- 02/05/16--07:59: Blogger's Band Plays Rare Show - Tomorrow Saturday
- 02/05/16--09:26: CB9 Chair Removes the Q For...Being the Q
- 02/05/16--17:02: Et tu, Imani? Imani Henry Is Behind the Racism Charge
- 02/09/16--10:37: Comic Relief - Sat Night @ Bluebird
- 02/10/16--13:05: Sound and Fury, Signifying Not A Lot?
- 02/12/16--09:45: Scumbags Harassing Gardeners
- 02/12/16--10:20: Oy. The Q Gets Still More Neighbors and A Tall Building
- 02/23/16--06:58: What Could Possibly Be Better Than This? Tonight!
- 02/24/16--07:28: Last Night's CB9 Meeting
- 02/24/16--10:08: LGCS Closing? A Petition? And an Opening
- 02/25/16--07:07: The Substance
- 02/26/16--09:49: To Being Or Not To Being
- 02/26/16--11:19: The Sensational Seven
Those of you who've walked down Clarkson Ave recently must have noticed how dang much demolition and construction is happening. 195 Clarkson was two wood-frames that are about to become this:
|195 Clarkson Rendering|
Oh, and once again, none of these units will be means-tested a/k/a below market/rent stabilized.
Okay, so maybe only the age was the same. But a dude was arrested quite near my home buying Viagara at a not-so-deep discount of $35 for 3. According to reporter Rachel Holliday-Smith they were both arrested for buying and selling prescription medications. Rachel...don't you mean one for buying and one for selling? Or were they passing it back and forth? "Jacking Up" the price as they went.
From DNA Info
Questions abound. Was the seller from Canada? Were the pills placebos? And if so, did they do the job anyway? Did the guys stick around, or did they come and go? Is this the latest offering from Fresh Direct? Could you describe this as a Schwing Operation?
|A Wayne's World Fan or its inspiration?|
What's with all the flashing neon? Even Castillo de Jagua, soon to open where the last Dominican place was, has invested in some spectacular visuals to go with its victuals.
Given the recent uptick in neon and flash one might assume that either a) laws governing them have become more lax or b) the price has come down to within reach of the average store owner. All I know is that I'd prefer not to have one shining in MY window when I'm trying to sleep. Thoughts?
Last night the Q walked down the Flabenue from Empire and was blown away by the nightlife activity. The salons were crowded and lively as usual, but so were the saloons. There was a party scene happening in Bluebird Cafe, a gallery opening at Tugboat, Midwood Flats could have been a college party, there was a packed house at Burger Mexicano, Erv's was filled to the gills with jovial inebriation, Westbury Inn was getting rolling, an elegant crowd raised wine glasses to their personal pan pizzas at Parkside, Mango Seed and Zurilee were jumping...all that to say the Flabenue has come a long way in just three or four years. And unlike Franklin Ave north of Eastern Parkway, the crowd seems more comfortably diverse, by age, race and style. I've not yet felt compelled to call Flatbush FRATbush, though somebody's gotta be the first. Okay, I'll be the first. Flatbush is becoming Fratbush. Too easy...and not really true. Where IS Fratbush? Ah yes. Near Barclay's and downtown. Particularly on game nights.
Okay, question. Who of you knows what this is? No reading!
When I was growing up most people had 'em. That's right, the Disposall. I always wondered why dad pronounced it so funny, but now I get it. The spelling suggests it. I never knew it looked like the above pic, though, just under the sink, usually covered by a cupboard. I just assumed there was some metal troll down there chewing up the orange and banana peels, and occasionally, a spoon. You had to run some water, and I guess people thought that was wasteful. These days the things don't take much water at all.
Some of you young-'uns might not know it, but there was a HUGE environmental movement in the 1970's. During the OPEC oil crisis everyone started looking to save on fossil fuels. "Don't heat up the whole outdoors!" was a favorite line when you left the front door open. "Kill-a-Watt" was an ad campaign. A guy named Eul Gibbons ate a whole tree when he wasn't hawking Grape Nuts cereal. (I think he might have died from too much bark; I can't remember the true story). My grandpa was way into organic foods and jarring. Granted he'd been a farmer his whole life, but he understood there was a big difference between what you grow to eat and what you grow to sell at market - usually food meant for cattle and pigs anyway. Everyone talked about how we were destroying the planet. There were books, and movies (remember Soylent Green?) about how overpopulation was going to make us all follow the vision of that Neil Young song.
Now everyone likes to talk compost. I compost (some). Do you compost? It's become a bit of a politically correct conversation. Smug, even, like saying "that's so easy" during a Trivial Pursuit question. So I goes over to neighbor Kendall Christensen's house (in le Manor) for coffee and a healthy fruit breakfast, and he entertains me with the story of Maple Street School's move to its Lincoln Road location about 10 years ago (he was instrumental in that difficult endeavor) and his current stewardship of the Linden Avenue extended care facility - the NY Congregational Nursing Home - you know, the site where the old building at 123 Linden is going to be taken down in exchange for 20+ story apartment building. Both those stories deserve their own posts! But then Kendall blurts forward and blows my mind with his beliefs, well-researched and documented by his core business, which is garbage, literally. Here's what he says:
We shouldn't be focusing on composting to solve our food waste needs. It's about turning the waste into watery goo and sending it to through the sewers. The time for the Disposall's return, ladies and gentlemen, is NOW. Here's his treatise:
Following the Philadelphia food scrap model
Philadelphia leaders recently amended the city's building code to require all new residences to include in-sink food waste disposers. In the wake of that action, a consultant with long-time ties to the country's largest producer of sink disposal systems offers his viewpoint on the state of residential food scrap diversion.
January 26, 2016
By Kendall Christiansen, principal of Gaia Strategies
The lowly garbage disposal is turning the corner to new-found respectability as an essential element in urban toolkits for managing household food scraps.
The latest evidence: In December, Philadelphia adopted a building code requirement for in-sink disposers in all new residential construction, beginning now. The City Council’s action, followed by then-Mayor Michael Nutter’s endorsement, emerged from three years of discussion and research, including a 175-home demonstration project conducted in partnership with InSinkErator.
Over the course of a year, moderate-income homeowners received a disposer and learned how to use it effectively; waste audits, surveys and focus groups confirmed high levels of satisfaction and use, which was not surprising, given that 60 million disposers are installed across the U.S.
Most importantly, the project found that food waste – approximately 10 percent of Philadelphia's residential waste – was reduced by 35 percent. Similar projects in five other cities (Boston; Calgary, Alberta; Chicago; Milwaukee; and Tacoma, Wash.) confirmed or improved on those results.
What's more, the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) – recognized nationally for its innovative leadership – joined the project as it was being planned. PWD operates two state-of-the-art water resource recovery facilities that turn slurried food waste into clean water, biogas and Class A biosolids. It also confirmed findings from a dozen studies that additional water from disposer-using households is minimal.
Multiple methods a must
Prior to consideration of the in-sink disposer project, Philly had already resisted truck-based collection of household organics. For a host of reasons – including pest and odor management – it also has encouraged use of commercial disposers for more than 25 years.
Ultimately, the city's decision acknowledges the need for multiple tools to tackle the challenges – and harness opportunities – associated with managing food scraps as a resource, especially in dense urban areas with high percentages of apartment dwellers. Philadelphia also supports community-based composting and is reviewing other options as part of its current solid waste management plan process.
In addition, using food waste disposers in this manner addresses three key goals of Philadelphia's GreenWorks sustainability plan: less trash, more renewable energy, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Other cities – both those that participated in a demonstration project and those that did not – are considering in-sink disposers with a fresh perspective.
The method is no longer hidden under the sink. Philadelphia's decision to embrace and embed disposers into residential buildings and infrastructure systems will help advance similar initiatives elsewhere.
Kendall Christiansen is principal of Gaia Strategies, based in Brooklyn, NY. He formerly was senior consultant to InSinkErator, leading its public and environmental affairs work across the U.S.; he continues to support its engagement in the organics resource discussion across Canada.
Then, in response to my question about why Disposall's were banned from many new and old apartment buildings, he had this to say:
"This week the City Council is doing an oversight hearing on the pilot program to separately collect organic waste (food scraps and yard waste) in certain neighborhoods. One of our neighbors is intensely engaged in this issue - sharing the goal of getting food scraps out of our trash and landfills - but from the perspective of managing it as a liquid resource (which means underground pipes) rather than a solid (which means trucks). He played a small role in the city's legalization of in-sink food waste disposers (aka garbage disposals) in 1997, and has been working with cities across the U.S. and Canada for the past decade to promote their use. His home has kept virtually 100% of their food waste out of household trash for nearly 20 years.
Yes, there remains something of what i call the "old building pipes syndrome" - which is mostly a myth, but has been sufficient to keep some buildings from installing them; esp true of rentals, where disposers can be abused and present more of a maintenance issue (or at least the perception of, for NYers generally unfamiliar with them). After city-wide legalization in 1997, Battery Park City required them in its last six apartment buildings, and NYCHA began installing them - initially as a pilot and then as a standard appliance when renovating kitchens. I've had numerous discussions w/sanitary engineers who try to advise building clients to not be concerned; common sense would suggest that pulverizing food scraps makes it LESS likely for pipes to be obstructed - when compared with NOT having a disposer and people flushing leftovers down their toilets (yes; i've heard pretty amazing stories, even from folks that should know better). A pipes video here. on a going forward basis, IF apartment buildings are given a choice between managing a food scraps collection system, or installing/using disposers, it's pretty clear to me which option most will choose.
Holy cow. Why would the Q deprive readers of the verbal pyrotechnics in advance of my trial tonight to be removed as Transportation Chair of CB9? One of the reasons I joined the Board in the first place was to share a (big) bird's eye view on the mechanism of local government. So here's Alicia's latest "poem," sent to hundreds of her minions and plenty of swiped emails, and then my response. Happy reading!
Wow! Ms. Boyd, even for you, this is over-the-top. Since you've stated many lies and allegations to the world, I believe I should respond. The folks you sent this email to include dozens of community members, many of whom I consider friends. You have also sent it to elected officials and members of the media. Shame on you.
Perhaps you've heard the racket coming out of a basement on Lefferts. Babe the blue OX, once a fixture of Lower East Side dens of iniquity, plays a show at the Dad-Rock friendly hour of 3:30 pm sharp (3pm doors) on Saturday Feb 6 at the Owl Music Parlor right here in Lefferts at 497 Rogers. Some of you Daddy and Mommy rockers may know Elizabeth Mitchell, who's child-friendly records for Smithsonian Folkways make excellent entries into the American folk canon. She'll be playing with her sweet singing band IDA. With appearances by Karla and Matt Schickele (of "K" and Beekeeper fame - Karla also runs the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls.), and Chris Rael& Tom Kotik. Should be a great time. The sets are short, the whole shebang will be over by 6, in time for some late afternoon pie at Pels or sammiches at Gratitude Cafe.
$10 at the door, all proceeds benefit the kids of beloved lost brother Jan Kotik, a gem of a musician and artist who will be missed til the day we die. He moved to Prague a dozen years ago, married, had two adorable boys, and died at a tender age.
Tim,Good morning.I want to first Thank you for attending last night’s special executive committee meeting.We appreciate and Thank you for your service as Chair of the Transportation committee, however at this time as Chairman of this Community Board 9 and in accordance with our by laws; Article VII sec. 8.2 (The committee chairpersons shall be appointed members, shall be appointed annually by the Chairperson of the Board and shall serve at the pleasure of the Chairperson of the Board), I will remove you as Chair of the Transportation committee effective immediately.Myself or another executive committee member will be chairing next weeks transportation committee meeting. Please share with Terri and myself any additional information for the February 10th Transportation committee meeting.Tim as you offer a wealth of knowledge and information to this board, we would like for you to remain as a member of our ULURP committee.Sincerely,Demetrius LawrenceChairman - CB9
The Q had always wondered where all the talk of my racist blog started. I combed old posts for things I might have written that could be misconstrued. I guess I figured my sense of humor was such that sarcasm could get me in trouble. I blame David Letterman. I was a pretty sincere kid, then I caught the irony bug. It's really hard to wash it out in the tub.
A couple years ago I came across a guy named Imani Henry. His group "Equality for Flatbush" sounded great on the surface. The anti-gentrification thing seemed a tough sell, but he'd been priced out of various neighborhoods (who hasn't?) and felt that black Brooklyn was being colonized. Basically, I agreed, and we spoke on the phone about his efforts to film cops doing bad stuff. Cop Watch. I think it's become a lot tougher for police to go all Rodney King knowing they'll be filmed, but clearly it hasn't stopped the insanity. I never imagined what would happen next. He went crazy on me at a CB9 meeting after I called out Alicia Boyd as a jerk. This was, in his mind, paramount of treason.
When Imani hooked up with Alicia and MTOPP they saw that they were birds of a feather. They were willing to go to any length to achieve their objectives...actually, I still don't fully understand what their objectives are. Clearly there's a power thing there, the ability to say you're leading a movement, that you have substance, that your thoughts and values have worth in society. (Wait...why does that sound so familiar?)
Last year a petition was put out asking for my removal from CB9. I wasn't surprised to hear that MTOPP was pushing it. The racism cry was painful but I kinda got it. Nobody likes a big white guy yelling at you. Nobody. Except maybe at a football game. My bad.
So who was behind the petition? Who was pushing it and making it such a big deal? I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to learn it was Imani Henry. "Equality" for Flatbush indeed. What a sad excuse for an activist, sinking to lying about people and skulking behind the scenes. Oh, he'd deny it of course. But this time Mr. Henry, you've been caught red-handed. The Q has unearthed the following email, and clearly Mr. Henry did NOT want to go one the record as having written and promoted the petition. As a local blogger I guess this as close as I'm going to get to the Pentagon Papers.
Whoa, Nelly! Time to step back into the light of love, joy and stand-up comedy. Right in the P.L. of G. Designed to coincide with everyone's least favorite holiday...even those in love stress out about it. Amiright?
Nice guys, these Makhani Brothers. So incensed are they that someone might challenge their allegedly faked deed to the land under the Maple Street Garden that they've taken to harassing the gardeners with all manner of legal mumbo jumbo. Story from Nathan Tempey at Gothamist. What was that Public Enemy song? Bring the Lawyers?
|The Q's loving this pic! I like pretending they're watching an environmentally friendly mime promoting composting.|
Brookland Capital is taking Prospect Lefferts Gardens and Flatbush by storm. Yesterday the Bed-Stuy-based developer filed plans for an eight-story building at 88 Clarkson Avenue, which will be its fifth new project in the area.
The 75-foot-tall building will rise only two and a half blocks from Prospect Park, between Flatbush and Bedford avenues. The Parkside Avenue Q stop is close by, and so is the Winthrop Street stop on the 2 and 5 trains.
The development will hold 46 apartments and 31,750 square feet of residential space. Apartments will average just 690 square feet, signaling lots of studios and one-bedrooms and possibly rentals.
The ground floor will be devoted to recreation space, parking, and a lobby. Each of the upper floors will host six to seven units. The parking garage on the first floor will include 14 spots – the minimum required to satisfy zoning.
The 8,500-square-foot development site is currently home to a squat single-story church and two wood frame houses clad in vinyl siding. Demolition permits have not yet been filed to knock down the old structures.
(back from Mexico City and ready to rumble like a Lucha Libre warrior! Just call me El Q-sadilla. )
Now that yours truly has been dumped fom the Transportation Committee, I can sit back and enjoy the show once more without fear of walking into booby traps. Actually, there's a suit that's been filed to have me, Warren Berke, Michael Liburd and Chair Demetrius Lawrence removed for the board for being, um, active and involved? Men? Not sure precisely. That's coming from MTOPP, so look for a judge to dismiss it as fast as a cowboy Dollar Van rips up the Flabenue.
Tonight, after nearly two years of braying and naying, the good folks at MTOPP and their more politically palatable Empire Study Group (their Sinn Fein?) have an opportunity to present their plan for the two blocks of Empire Blvd currently zoned for commercial uses only. Having heard the yarn already, wanna know the secret? They'd like to keep it that way, but encourage festive uses of the low rise variety.
Other agenda items and their flyer below. See y'all there! (Oh, and if you're curious about the history of "The Bridge" agenda item, here's some background. And if you'd like a copy of CB9's draft budget requests to the City, just shoot me an email and I'll send it to you. It's 31 pages long, but an easy read. And it needs a LOT of review.)
The Q gets it. You have better things to do with your time than have Cabia Doily's spit get spat on your pate. So here's the deal in a nutshell.
MTOPP/Empire Study Group presented their hopes for Empire, as I've noted previously. Professor Tom Angotti continued his spurious claims that only his version of "planning" is actual planning. He's tussled with NYC City Planning for years about his distaste for new housing, so there's no surprise there that he thinks Planning does not actually plan. Actually, I think he's a bit out of touch, locked in his Ivory tower, having long ago left the NYC agency. In a private aside, he told me that demanding affordable housing from developers is a terrible idea. While I'd agree that the City should do more to build deeply affordable subsidized housing on its own, I hardly see why it's a problem to get some lower-income working-folks housing built during boom times. I guess, as they say, we can agree to disagree? Actually, no, that's not the MTOPP way. There shall be no disagreeing; just shouting and demanding utter allegiance, and there was plenty of THAT last night.
The Brooklyn Flea founder Jonathan Butler was there. The Board voted lopsidedly to support his request for a full liquor license for his Smorgasbord thingy in Prospect Park on summer Sundays. It proved successful last year, though the Q doesn't particularly care for all the new fangled sliders and Korean Tacos and veggie things that really shouldn't be veggie, OR $10. To each his own. I've decided to support any new business, so long as its not run by felons, felon accomplices, or ne'er-do-wells more generally. (see comments for disclaimers on that.)
Blessings got full support for wine and beer license, as did Castillo de Jagua. Both joints are near each other in Lower Flabenue. Lakeside will add outdoor liquor space.
The contentious liquor license app-of-the-eve came from a new restaurant/bar tentatively and poorly monikered Crow Bar. You might recall the gay bar of the same name in Manhattan, but that's not why I say poorly named. If anything we could use a gay bar around here. The Crow Hill area of Crown Heights was named, many say, for the prison that stood there, and was a derogatory reference to black folks. Others contend a less racial derivation, though I'm inclined to side with the story that exposes the worst of human nature. The vote on that one - at 820 Franklin at Union - was 17 yes, 12 no, 5 abstentions. That means there wasn't a majority in favor, so the app did not pass. Or DID it?
Chanina Sperlin contends his vote wasn't counted!
|Chanina Sperlin: Did he, or didn't he?|
Mr. Sperlin, it must be noted, has a habit of getting up and walking out of the room to take or place phone calls. What to do about the dispute? His name is strikingly similar to Rabbi Spellman's! Was that the cause of confusion? Or was he, as Chair Lawrence contended, out of the room at the time of the vote? Well...there's tons of video tape going on these days. More intrigue...will the video-makers allow the use of their film for this purpose, as it would potentially contradict their desire to see the application rejected?
Oh, the suspense. As Jonathan Butler, who is also the Founder of Brownstoner.com, said to me - "I've never seen anything like this, anywhere." Well said. The Greatest Show On Earth continues to wow and amaze. No need for elephants or tigers or PETA protests.
Sad to hear the Chancellor has plans to close the local Lefferts Gardens Charter School. It opened with such optimism 6 years ago, but staff and board issues made the early days anything but smooth sailing, and some say it struggled to gain its footing. Still, my impression that principal Michael Windram had put things on a strong course in the past couple years. If you'd like to see LGCS remain as an option in the 'hood, please sign the petition!
In brighter news, right down on the corner, at Rogers and Parkside, the terrific Gratitude Cafe has opened a second location. Please stop in and join the chorus of congrats to Richard Otto & Annalisa Riordan. They've been nothing but sweet and gracious boosters of everything Lefferts since they opened up at Midwood/Rogers. Their food is delicious and homemade, the space welcoming, and the smiles genuine. Feeling certain this new location will hit all the right chords. Good luck R&A!
Beyond the outrageous rhetoric, MTOPP and the Empire Study Group that it spawned have pretty much controlled the discussion of what should happen to the two blocks leading up to Prospect Park. They have invested considerable time in preempting any City-led Planning Study for the ENTIRE western portion of the district (New York Ave to the Park, Empire Blvd to Clarkson). It's hard to believe, but what started as a desire on the part of many of us to plan the growth strategy for the neighborhood became class and race warfare over that tiny chunk of real estate. Yet, there it is.
The Q would hate to disqualify their ideas outright as woefully impractical, so I'm publishing their entire Power Point presentation without comment - except this. All of the safety, bike lane, and landscaping improvements would be part of a City plan too, one that would include market rate and affordable housing capped at around 12-14 stories (not the ludicrous 25 stories that ESG insists). I think it would be disingenuous to suggest this the most universally embraced ideas come from MTOPP. Many of them are, in fact, already on the table, study or not. That said...
|photo by Sarah Crean and DPC|
What a terrific piece from Sarah Crean at Ditmas Park Corner on the CaribBEING House. Don't tell me you weren't curious when you saw the "box car" on the plaza at the Caton Market. Not just for lovable hobos anymore, these old rail and truck containers are being repurposed for every kind of use from housing to small business storefronts. I won't give away the myriad purposes of this colorful spot...please read Sarah's piece. But I'll risk ridicule by placing right here my submission for best neighborhood artist's name, as referenced in the article, the first artist in residence at the CaribBEING House: Shakespeare Guirand of Haiti.
Forgive me if I "borrow" another of Sarah's photos to tease with you what's inside the metallic barrier:
|photo by Sarah Crean for Ditmas Park Blog|
Were you to wander one shoppe north of Tafari Tribe on the Flabenue, with the frustratingly tantalizing name Tafari Cafe (where's the Ethiopian coffee we were promised?) above the entrance, you might peer in at a wildly eclectic collection of handmade crafts, jewelry and clothing and wonder what it's all about. Well I'm here to tell you - this is a store you simply must experience, because the breadth of goods and gifts is staggering. It's a (hopefully) longterm Pop-Up shop known as Brooklyn Flair and it deserves your patronage.
Something I found when I started working with older-generation folks in our neighborhood was that it wasn't so easy to "google" their accomplishments and affiliations. Was this because of race and culture? Sort of. But have you ever tried to google your own mom or grandpa, and found nary a trace? Unless of course they had some sort of celebrity - say an artist or politician or captain of industry. The history of the world up until 1995 was primarily told by newspapers and historians, who were always waxing subjective about their subjects. And their subjects were rarely middle managers, aspiring this-or-thats, teachers, community leaders, clergy etc.
It is clear to anyone who walks into Brooklyn Flair that the six vivacious figures selling their wares are the sorts of women who really should have their own Wikipedia entries with lots of footnotes. (Have you ever googled someone and thought "well she seems to be very accomplished" and then realized you've merely seen a bunch of reiterations of the same tired copy that accompanies their website or press release? As in, it doesn't take much to "appear accomplished" on the latenight web search. And the aforementioned Sir Charles aside, beware the word "consultant." It might more accurately be phrased "under-employed." Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you. Many of my best friends could thusly be described.)
The Q stopped in on the coldest day of the year just to shoot a picture and determine what PLGNA's Brenda Edwards-Gueye had latched herself onto. What I found was a bunch of long-time residents with stories to tell and histories to recount, about a neighborhood often called "in-transition," but in-transition from what exactly? The newcomers tend to come with google-able attributes and careers. The older generation not so much. But their stories would bore a hole in your noggin.
Brenda was telling me that despite being a schoolteacher herself, she like many others in the '70s, sent their kids to private cooperative schools with names you've likely never heard of. While white hippies were inventing any number of counter-cultural education options, Afro-centric Americans were also dropping out of the mainstream to re-contextualize the American experience outside the typical canon of "white men, their wars, language and art." Whole academies and schools of thought and fashion and music and art and literature grew from the minds of newly radicalized imaginations. Much of that idea is familiar to middle class-and-up whites, the stories told by their older generation or memorialized in books, movies and memorabilia. But another story existed right alongside, a black world, a black neighborhood, a black REALITY. And as is also true of contemporary Brooklyn, it existed right alongside the other realities, rarely crossing the others in any meaningful ways, except on the subway or at the bodega.
Perhaps the one place where the Q's lily-white world collided with this black consciousness was in music. Once I discovered (in high school in Ames, IA at the public library) Funkadelic, Miles Davis, the Ohio Players and later the early rap of Grandmaster Five and the beatbox music of Afrika Bambaataa and his Zulu Nation, the books Malcolm X and Roots by Alex Haley, poetry-essays-art then in college, it became clear that two very distinct versions of America were being expressed and explored.
Sometimes the two WOULD connect - the younger of you will probably never fully appreciate what a nation-wide moment was the telecast of Roots. (Actually, the idea of a "telecast" is probably meaningless to begin with. This is before videotape and DVDs, or even Cable TV). With Roots, for the first time (perhaps not the BEST time), the story of slavery was told from the black point of view. It was required viewing. As in REQUIRED. Our history teacher made us write and report on each episode. Nearly 40 million people tuned in to Roots' final episode on ABC. This at a time when the population of the country was around 200 million. And yet, soon after its airing, the "conversation" turned to the hostages in Iran. Remember that? The revolution that's still burning? From that came Nightline with Ted Koppel, and soon the downfall of Jimmy Carter. Ronald Reagan arrived. Coincidence that America's black consciousness seemed to ebb thereafter? By 1982 the Reagan Revolution had essentially declared war on the inner cities and its lawlessness and drugs. Any gains in race relations were, in my view, set back a generation. By the late '80s, Crack and Black were synonymous. The Central Park Rape case, that horrible twisted modern lynching, took control of the tabloids. Riots in Crown Heights, in Los Angeles. The rise of Gangsta Rap, much more a response than a cause, gave rise to even uglier depictions of young black men as being unreachable, unrepentant and unemployable. We were suckered into believing that the great hope of MLK had been a mirage, except for the reality of fully assimilated black folks, one of whom would one day become President. And even as we celebrated MLK's legacy, we ignored its deepest messages, that the deepest legacy of slavery itslef was not in the character of the freed blacks and their grandchildren and great-great-great grandchildren. The deepest legacy was in the hearts and minds of the descendants of slave owners, still in power, but unable to escape the prison of their own minds and fears.
Back to the real business of America though...SHOPPING!!! Pictures below...