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    The rest of the story...for now anyway, and a continuation from that last post on the Big Man Of Central Brooklyn (BMOC-B).

    The Q was one of the few CB9 members to support Pearl Miles as she went down in a flurry of resentments last October. Her lawsuit is making its way through the courts, as she made, quite literally, a Federal Case of it. Age discrimination and political shenanigans, she charged. The real reason she got canned so quickly and without a lot of substantiated reasons (other than people not liking her) was that Borough Hall wanted her out. Why? Well, there certainly was no love lost between longtime BP aide Ingrid Lewis-Martin and Pearl. The two hated each other, to put it mildly, after years of tussles. Once Ingrid was in position to do so, with the support of BP Adams, she and he saw to it that the votes were in to ax Pearl. 18 new Board members swept in once Adams took office - an unprecedented number that only added to the tumult of the past couple years. My dear friend Alicia Boyd claims Adams even placed more than his allotted members onto the Board, and for once I tend to agree with her. Proof? My placement on the Board by none other than Mathieu Eugene. That's right, the councilman the Q worked hard to unseat, and whom I knock every chance I get (the guy is quite simply the worst councilperson since Zorg of the Far Caves, circa 22500 B.C.). Ever since, I have suspected that my reappointment was coming from someone else. Frankly, you'd think they'd have snuffed my participation, given my tendency to knock and snark. It's fair to assume this term of two years will be my last! If I last THAT long...

    In a nutshell.

    • A search committee of CB9 was created ad hoc to find three top candidates for the DM job from a pool of resumes
    • That committee held 13 meetings and at the end created minutes to reflect its findings
    • That report was not made public, nor did the Board itself see it
    • Chair and BP BFF Demetrius Lawrence rejected the work of the Committee, citing too many absences at committee meetings
    • Committee Chair Hector Robertson objected, noting outside pressure played a part in the decision
    • Many on the Board think they're being played for fools
    • It's really only fair that we see the names the committee put forward, so we can judge for ourselves whether to move forward with those names

    The reason for not accepting Hector's three candidates? There was no requirement about attendance. In fact, with a job like this, too many cooks can make the vetting even more difficult. Mr. Robertson's report needs to see the light of day. Clearly someone's not happy with the names on the list. Why else put everyone through another round of vetting? At the very least we should meet with the three, no?

    The Q's sentiment is - if Borough Hall wants to see someone in particular take the position, then just come out and say it. We'll probably consider the suggestion, maybe even add it to the pile. But what's happening now is just plain disruptive (at best) or corrosive (at medium) or corrupt (at worst).

    So who do the Power People want as OUR District Manager? None other than longtime Clarence Norman, Jr. ally Carmen Martinez, who was canned in 2014 for using work time for, get this, doing the business of her PLG block association, among other stuff. Clearly she shouldn't be considered anyhow, being a current board member and divisive political presence in a job that's supposed to serve ALL constituents equally. And hey, I think Carmen is terrific as Housing Committee chair - smart, knowledgeable, a good communicator. Though the cynic might wonder why she was placed on Housing at this serious juncture in the nabe's history, if not to position her for something else. A run for pol perhaps? Or the DM job?

    But the big question is WHY does Borough Hall and Norman and Lewis-Martin etc etc care so deeply about this civil servant position anyway? As is usually the case, follow the money, the power, and Clarence Norman, Jr. Because our District is ALL about development right now. As I noted before, the First Baptist Church of Crown Heights has a development arm (CHDC) that put in a proposal to redevelop the Bedford-Union Armory - with a hotel component to boot. When they failed, they even tried to submit another proposal with a different name. By putting loyal people in place at CB9 - both on the Board and in the office - one can imagine you'd have the insider track on any land use deals. Though I'm still skeptical it'd make a huge difference, as long as at least SOME members of the Board remain independent and aware.

    The Q is not accusing anyone of anything, other than disregard for the Board and its independence. But even if the current Machine has terrific intentions, it should just come out and say what they are. Because this sort of backroom dealing is so 1980s and '90s. And so damn unnecessary. I'm serious. This stuff is not so important that it can't be played out in public. I say people been watching too damn much TV. And now I says:

    "BP Adams et al - we want to support you, your work, your goals. You come down on the right side of nearly every issue. So why take us for a bunch of fools? Do the right thing. Come clean. Say what you want to do. And let us decide if we agree with you. If you want to build a political machine with REAL clout and power, do it with the power of truth and transparency. Because you're not far off the mark. You might find you have many more supporters that way."

    And if this is really about the development arm of the most powerful church in the Borough...well, that's a situation best addressed at the polls. There should be no "most powerful church." I suspect most Brooklynites don't even know this stuff goes on. Though given the culture in Albany, we shouldn't be surprised. Our guys (and gals) learn from the few, the proud, the NY State Legislature.

    Stay tuned y'all. It's about to get messier, or cleaner. But the choice right now resides in the seats of power. I hope they make the right decision.

    (Everything above is based on the Q's observations, emails and conversations with people-in-the-know willing to speak off-the-record. If you feel you've been misrepresented, by all means send me a note and I'll happily print your retort.)

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    I suggest, if you haven't already made plans to vote, to show up from 11-2 at the opening of Smorgasburg, or whatever they call it, at the Lincoln Road entrance parking lot.

    Here's the website. I'm going to go easy on the Councilman today, since this is a step in the right direction. But sometime you should check out his actual "website," an embarrassment to say the least. Oh, be sure to note that the latest deadline to submit proposals for his discretionary spending is over...for FY13. What a joke. Oh, but there's a Fax number you can reach him at! And he apparently hosts a cable access show. On a network that no longer exists, and whose videos are not available online.

    The items up for support:

    • Computer Lab Updates for Local Schools
      $35,000 per project 
      PS 249, PS 245, PS 139, PS 6 
      General technology updates at P.S. 249, P.S. 245, P.S. 139, and P.S. 6
    • Education
      Technology Updates for M.S. 2 Parkside Academy
      655 Parkside Avenue 
      Various technological updates at M.S. 2 Parkside Academy
    • Education
      Gymnasium Upgrades at Erasmus High School
      911 Flatbush Avenue 
      Physical upgrades to the gymnasium
    • Education
      Smartboards for P.S. 92
      601 Parkside Avenue 
      Twenty-nine smartboards are needed for PS 92.
    • Parks & Recreation
      Kensington Dog Run
      Parade Grounds 
      An enclosed Dog Run at the Parade Grounds
    • Parks & Recreation
      Replacement of 'Lake Mess Monster'
      Prospect Park Lake 
      A vessel that would grind up duck weed and other contaminants that cause visible pollution in the Prospect Park Lake.
    • Parks & Recreation
      Community Barbecue Sites in Prospect Park
      Lincoln Rd & E Drive; Parkside Ave & E Drive 
      New-style municipal grills, which are similar to those at Brooklyn Bridge Park Picnic Peninsula.
    • Transit
      Montessori School Sidewalk Extension
      $200,000 to $300,000 
      SE corner of Rogers Ave. and Rutland Rd. 
      Sidewalk extension on the South East corner matched by a painted curb extension with flexible post barriers
    • Transit
      Real-Time Passenger Information
      $20,000 per sign 
      Lincoln Rd Entrance; Church Ave. B35 Stop 
      Bus display signs that are visible from a distance and inform riders when their bus will arrive
    • Transit
      P.S. 92 Sidewalk Extension
      $100,000 to $300,000 
      SW corner of Rogers Ave. and Winthrop St. 
      A concrete sidewalk extension, which could be matched by a painted curb extension with flexible post barriers on the North West corner.
    • Transit
      Little Red Riding Hood Pre-K Sidewalk Extension
      NE corner of Rogers Ave. and Lefferts Ave. 
      Sidewalk extensions at this corner paired with heavy-duty bollards

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    Just walked past the new "First Class Liquors" sign on the proudly third class liquor store on Flatbush tween Parkside and Winthrop. But who was that superstar being shielded by handlers? Alicia Keys perhaps? Big ol' Star Buses and Everything. Big dude said it was a video shoot, so...

    No pics of the "Other Alicia" but here's a shot of the new gussied up liquor store:

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  • 03/31/16--08:02: Epic Scam
  • Some times you look into a place and the word "scam" hits the brain, you know? Epic Realty was next to Alotta on the Flabenue and dang if it didn't look like the LAST place I'd look for an apartment. And guess what? Check out the ever-dogged Nathan Tempey's latest tale of landlord woe:

    Quadir Lewis, he of Epic Realty at 703 Flatbush
    There he is folks. The guy who likes to take other people's money just as they finally feel they've found a place to live. It's one of NYC's great traditions - screwing innocent apartment hunters. Like stepping on dog poo or getting your bike nicked, it's a live and learn thing that shouldn't happen, but does, and then you get smarter. Unfortunately though, the scams get smarter too. Luckily, the dog poo DOESN'T get smarter. It's still just dog poo. Speaking of dog poo, is that dog poo on Quadir's shoes? From Nathan Tempey's piece:
    Police arrested a Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn real estate broker over the weekend on charges that he scammed three would-be renters out of more than $5,000 by taking money from them for apartments they didn't end up renting, and refusing to return it. Quadir Lewis, marketing manager for the now-defunct firm Epic NYC Realty, allegedly bilked the three apartment seekers in separate instances between August of last year and March 7th. According to an announcement by the neighborhood's 71st police precinct, "Mr. Lewis would falsely promise an apartment to a person and would collect thousands of dollars from that person, knowing that there was no chance of renting said apartment."
    From a Yelp reviewer (renter discretion advised):

     WARNING!!!!!!!!!…LUIS (718-288-7698 his current #) and the rest of Staff like to bait and switch. I reported them to Division of Licensing ,as should everyone else. He not only lied about move in dates, he charged me $650 for his services when I found the apartment. The Landlord only needed him to do a credit check and lease signing.  He kept asking me to pay my $1300 deposit in cash. I paid "EVERYTHING" in cashier's checks, which he looses just like every other review warns. To make matters worse he tries to convince the landlord, on 5 different occasions, to reject me so he can move his friends in. Little did he know me and the landlord are friends who planned out my move 4 months in advance. I confronted him nicely but instead he used harsh language and racism.  The whole transaction cost me $3,250 in less than two months. During the entire experience he refuses to give me receipts for our transactions. It should also be noted that he keeps taking bad reviews down (keep reposting). 

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    Guess someone's been calling Midwood Flats and saying some pretty messed up stuff. Rachel of DNAInfo can take it from here. I'm sure there are some who'll want to make a big deal out of a (supposedly) black guy calling a bar and complaining about gentrification and queers. As a guy (le Q) who gets crackpot emails and comments fairly frequently himself, often of a hateful variety, I consider such nonsense to be par for the course - the result of living publicly in modern America. No need to rationalize a response about how Midwood Flats is or isn't a "white bar" or this is or isn't a "black neighborhood." Or beer is or isn't for douchebags. That stuff is so 2015! And unnecessarily inflammatory, like gorging on gummy bears. The guy's a crackpot, end of story. In my mind, it devalues important issues to allow them to be framed by fools. But...

    The part that deserves attention, in my view, is the part where the caller "jokes" about coming out and shooting up a place. As a guy who likes the funny, revels in it, and can usually take what he dishes out, let me put it bluntly.

    That sir, is not funny. Not funny at all.

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    Some say it was inevitable. With house prices regularly topping $2 million, the extraordinary Lefferts Manor section of the Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens Historic District section of Lefferts Gardens section of Flatbush, Brooklyn has now conceded that it's time for change. According to longtime Lefferts Manor president Ben Edwards, a majority of Manor homeowners have now opted for some simple alterations to a nearly-hundred-year-old document known as the Manor Carta. The changes will go into effect in time for summer rentals.

    As anyone who's walked the gorgeous 8 block rectangle of stately homes will tell you, this is a proud neighborhood of SINGLE FAMILY HOMES (signs reinforce this notion, lest you try to force someone to rent you a room). But times have changed, and for some it's simply not feasible to pay enormous property taxes and mortgages without a little extra income. 45 year resident Bob Marvin, a local artist and neighborhood booster says "Plus, about half of us already rent rooms through AirBnb, which while technically not allowed, still kinda qualifies. AirBnb is sort of like a "single family" of users. Ask anyBoyd who does it. Being an AirBnb-er is like adding a few hundred-thousand cousins to your Holiday Card list."

    "Everybody needs a little pocket change" says Edwards. "Sure you might have a million or more dollars in equity, but twice-yearly European or Caribbean vacations don't pay for themselves" he chuckled. (Edwards is always chuckling. It's as if all day long someone is whispering the funniest joke you ever heard into his earpiece.)

    So AirBnb is allowed. But what about rentals? New resident Flora Camembert (or Cheese Flower to her friends) put it this way: "We decided that if you're allowed to let your extended family live here, and squeeze a bit of cash off the books, why not allow a single-family rental? For a lot of us, it would be a relief not to have let to rent the basement to, say, Uncle Max, who may not be an ideal tenant in the first place, what with his bathtub gin and frequent splashings of cheap cologne."

    The compromise, says Edwards, is to allow just one apartment per house. BUT (and this is a big but), the renter themselves must be a single family. No non-related roommates. This means that the covenant technically becomes "Two Single Families." Certain allowances will made, say, if the first Single Family encounters divorce or custody battles. In special circumstances, a Single Family that has legally become a Dual Family will still be able to rent to a third legal Single Family, provided IRS 1040s can be produced that show that the split family no longer files jointly.

    "We're not trying to be the housing police" continues Marvin. "We just want to keep the loud parties, single people and hobos out, while keeping that warm small-town feel in. A lot of NYC neighborhoods have been literally torn apart by hobos. I'd like to think this would be the kind of neighborhood you could walk about without getting poked in the eye with knapsack sticks, you know?" Take it from the Q, who recently spent a few hours walking around Williamsburg and Greenpoint. It's positively lousy with hobos, and it's not even summer yet.

    Today's hobos are as likely to carry their knapsacks on the end of banjos.

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    Ah, Leslie Ward. Lovely human, super music teacher. And now she's opened her own storefront - Garage284 - that is warm, funky and fun. And functional. She teaches piano (and steel pans) out of the space, having built a successful business out of her home through the years. You can rent it for small functions too, and she's already hosted jam sessions and recitals. It has a great vibe. And the basement has been fitted for drum lessons (drum teacher to start soon). Is she good? Hell yeah. Ask anyone who's taken with her. She trained classically in the British tradition with enough Trinidadian (and New Wave) flair to ensure you get both the theory and the sass.

    Super swell location is at 284 Clarkson just off Nostrand (you know, across from where the gigantic Hudson complex is going up fast and furious). Her rates are great, her outlook sunny, her design sense one-of-a-kind. Call Leslie at 917-697-6850 for lessons (or to see the space for a possible rental).

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    Parkside, Rogers to Nostrand. Pretty darn serious.

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    Chauncey Gardener's House On New York Avenue - Big Apt Bldgs Going Up On Either Side

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    The gap between renter and owner is enormous. We're not living the same experience, and those who claim we're all in the same boat are higher than The Flatbush Zombies. More on that later...the boat, not the Zombies.

    WNYC and The Nation. Two peas in a pod? For now, I guess. A somewhat illuminating set of pieces on Gentrification are being peddled as the "There Goes the Neighborhood" series. It's worth noting that the phrase TGtN has been used countless times before, as has their supposedly "refreshing" look at a tired topic. And yet, there are interesting stories here worth hearing. I've been listening as I fall asleep, and that's had the effect of leaving some of the thoughts and stories resonating through the next day.

    Neighbor Chai Wright of The Nation
    Of course, the Q wouldn't be the Q if he didn't have problems with parts of this venture. First off, the ever-annoying snotty conversational tone of NPR is particularly egregious this time around, given the subject matter. The NPR set ARE the gentrifiers, so it's kinda like a bank auditing itself. (I know, it takes one to know one, right? But at least I'm not talking at you out loud. You're free to give me whatever nasality you like, in our head, when reading these words on the screen.) The guy doing the yakking on the WNYC is a local - Chai Wright - who's written extensively on race and inequality. He does a fair job and I can't complain about the Ira Glass generation's sense of what works on the radio. It's proven incredibly popular. Maybe it's just that I hear the ironic sensibility of my own generation in the mix. There's a sense of rising above it all that seems like the trap of the entitled class, regardless of color.

    DW Gibson - researcher, writer
    Another beef: I find the whole "hey, East New York is a real place too!" bit of Episode 2 incredibly patronizing. Anyone who's lived in NYC longer than a few minutes knows that every neighborhood is full of people living full and fascinating lives. Communities are communities, wherever you go - people raising families, struggling, high-fiving and fist-bumping, going to church, shopping for groceries. (Speaking of which the whole bit about how groceries are now two and three times as expensive in the gentrifier shops seems overstated. It's not like bodegas were known for their bargains, and to date they haven't disappeared. They just aren't ubiquitous. And yes, they've added a bit to their products, though often to keep pace with rents.) The notion that we somehow need to be told that poor black & latino communities are real neighborhoods, neighborhoods that are as worthy of preservation as any other, seems a bit like an anthropologist telling us that the Pygmies are people too - just look at how sophisticated they are! Though truth be told I always love hearing people talk about their lives in the first person, so it's not all for naught. Just so haughty. Especially when you just know the creators of this show are for the most gentrifiers themselves who congratulate each other on the excellent job of defending the underclass by drinking wine in upscale Bed-Stuy bistros. That's DW Gibson in the picture, a co-host, And I have no idea what he drinks. Maybe MadDog 20/20 for all I know. Though I doubt it.

    Your neighbor Janine Nicholson
    But Episode 4 is where, for me, I found some real meat. Because conversations about Gentrification often lack the financial savvy to explain the angles, the many ways that turning neighborhoods from poor to middle-class+ can be profitable. Also in Ep4 the notion of "camouflage gentrifier" gets a nod. Upper income or higher-educated POCs (people of color) are noted for how they often get a pass in the game of Gentrifier Tag. (Can you go plural with POC by adding an "s," since you don't know whether it's People or Person of color? Not sure. Apostrophe?) Speaking of which, when an educated white person joins the Anti-Gentrification movement do they lose the label? Your neighbor and MTOPP chum Janine Nicholson seems to think so. She's even got a blog called Whitey on Whitey, if you care to see how hard she's trying to be "own." She's also gummed up the works at CB9 and loves calling people out for their perceived misdeeds. A real piece of work, that one. Claims on her blog she's moving to Mexico because the whites are moving into our neighborhood. I shit you not. Gonna go gentrify down there now., then get pissy when the gringos find out about it...

    Ultimately, the story of neighborhood change in Urban America comes down to a very different scenario for Renters and Owners (what's new?) Renters have relatively few advantages, though they do have some rights here in NYC; owners get the lion's share of advantages AND rights. Owners can tear down a building and then build something bigger. In buildings with fewer than 6 units, and buildings built after a certain year, they can charge whatever they like and jack it up however much at the very next lease. Capitalism in a nutshell, ever since we "introduced" the concept to the Indians, whose land, by the way, was NOT rent stabilized. Sometimes, the price goes down too (I benefited from this after the recession of the late '80s). As long as a neighborhood's NY TIMES Desirability Rating wasn't too high. rents remained within reach of lower income New Yorkers. Provided, of course, that they were willing to move around when screwed or unstabilized. I never once rented a stabilized place in NYC, btw. Hardly knew about it frankly. Speaking of the NY Times, do you recall how hard it was to get a copy in this neighborhood? They didn't really sell it anywhere. Once you started seeing those blue condoms that they wrap it in on people's stoop steps, you knew (didn't you?) that it was just a matter of time.

    Now to you, Mr. Gentrifier Renter. Have you not already bought into this notion when you moved here to NYC? You recognized right off the bat, like millions of other New Yorkers, that certain neighborhoods were NOT for you. They were either too expensive or too poor or too something else. You made the decision based on a whole host of factors, not unlike your brethren at other price points. You weighed schools and shops and crime and vibe. And maybe, let's be honest, you weighed race. Because you, you awful, terrible soulless miscreant thought that renting in the best, most transportation-friendly neighborhood you could afford was your American birthright. You entitled fiend. Next time take heed when someone (perhaps Janine Nicholson?) says Whitey Go Home. It's rubbish and we all know it is, but it bears repeating. You've done nothing wrong, but you have an obligation not to be a dick.

    And if you rented a non-stabilized place, Mr. Gentrifier Renter, you are, like everyone else who is unstable (hah!) you might have to pick up stakes and move on. And your feelings of guilt about having moved into a neighborhood that wasn't "for you" will fade, and you'll just feel pissed and annoyed that NYC is so heartless even as it grows and prospers. And you'll hope and maybe save to one day "get in." Or you'll move. You have choices, and that's a good thing if you got 'em.

    Mr. Non-Gentrifier Renter. You are at the bottom of the food chain, and only the "law" protects you even a bit, though not as much as you'd hope, and not enforced with vigor or certainty. On fate of birth, you were relegated to rent only in certain neighborhoods where you were welcomed, or tolerated, and you made the best of things. You raised families and started businesses and prayed and suffered and rejoiced as is your birthright. And yet, since the cards were stacked against you, you probably always knew that your number would eventually come up, as it always does in this country, and you'd be asked, like the original Natives, to move along quietly, or by warrant and musket if necessary. Maybe you can get a few thousand dollars, forty acres and a mule? Or nothing, Nada, zip. The landlord will eventually figure out how to make your life unpleasant enough, or will catch you at a low enough point, that he will succeed. He nearly always does,

    Mr. Gentrifier Owner. You, sir, have benefited WAY beyond your talents and deeds.  NYC real estate being what it is - limited and generally desirable - you are a winner the moment you "get in," as some like to say. Now that you own, it's your responsibility to act responsibly and learn the culture of the neighborhood and not try to dictate. This is the Q. He is both ashamed at his good fortune and cursed by an insatiable curiosity.

    Mr. Non-Gentrifier Owner. At some point, you or your family set down roots and bought a piece of the American Dream. You are to be commending for holding the neighborhood together, along with the non-gentrifier renters. But you will one day reap enormous financial benefits, or your children will, and for this you are likely incredibly grateful, but perhaps wistful, since it wasn't necessarily going to be like this. The City nearly came apart, and nearly destroyed itself many times.

    I'm only writing this to sort my thoughts. I have no idea if it's helpful to you, but it was helpful to me, and sure, I'll keep listening to the podcast. I just wish it wasn't so, um, gentrifiery you know? Ah hell, who gives a damn. It's a good effort and we all benefit from hearing what others are going through, and a slice of the economic incentives that make this all happen.

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  • 04/08/16--06:33: Veg Out With the PLG CSA

  • Ideally, I suppose, we would all be growing our own produce to share with one another. I'll give you cucumbers to your kumquats. (Never written kumquat before. It's quite satisfying, actually.)  But you could also grab a coffee at ToTT and stumble over to the Maple Street School and grab a box of green goodies PLUS meats from Herondale and the comradery of your fellow Bernie Sanders supporters (I'm keeeeding, don't get so defensive! Good Lord so many liberals with bunched panties these days!)

    SIGN UP now or forever hold your peas!
    All shares will be delivered to Maple Street School at 21 Lincoln Road, right next to the Prospect Park stop on the Q train (map). Pickup is on Saturday morning, roughly from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.
    We offer:
    Single and Double Vegetable Shares from the Farm at Millers CrossingSingle and Double Fruit Shares from Samascott OrchardsDozen and Half Dozen Egg Shares from McMurry Sunset Farms.
    We also offer:
    Herondale Farm Beef, Lamb, Pork and Chicken Sharescoffee. a la cart from Dean’s Beans

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    A wonderful addition to our Flatbush commercial corridor

    Did you learn, as did I, that we have 5 senses? To learn otherwise is like a shock to the senses. All 7 of them.

    This is one of the things confirmed to me by the excellent Occupational Therapist Beatrice Hector, or Miss Bea, who's shop Sensory Street has greatly enlivened the eastern side of the Flabenue betwixt Parkside and Winthrop - a block, I must say, that's always been a feast for the senses. It's still pretty hectic, but Bea's presence has been terrific, and you should probably know what she does, and the results she can achieve, particularly if you or someone you know has kids (or older adults!) struggling to keep up in one or more areas of physicality. A lot of these sorts of early (or late!) interventions can be covered by insurances or school programs, so by all means stop in for a consultation. Bea grew up right here (on Crooke!) and has the fondest of memories of hanging with her Crooke Girls, going to PS92 and MS61, and later off to Howard University, where she and classmates regularly shaked and baked to a certain Sean Combs, the BMOC at Howard at the time who was nursing some silly aspirations about hitting the big time in the entertainment business. (Did you know he was a Howard man? His parties were legendary, and he dropped out after two years, but he WAS a business major. The name puff came from how he'd huff and puff when he got mad as a kid. Huh. And I always thought it was something else. But then I thought that about Puff the Magic Dragon, too, and PP&M are steadfast in their claim that it has NOTHING to do with cheeba cheeb. Or grass. Or reefer. Or whatever the kids are calling it these days.)

    It occurs to me as I age, and as I watch my parents age, that there are a host of activities that we once took for granted that are no longer so easy to, for instance, tackle. For me (and it's not just my weight - I've been this big since college and was medium-okay at playing ball), running, jumping, falling, skating, spelunking, rock climbing, tether-ball, skeet shooting, swashbuckling and Chinese Checkers have all become more difficult and potentially dangerous. Seriously, how many of us are forced to confront the reality of a loved-one's ailing health only after they suffer a severe tumble, often while doing something as basic as walking to the kitchen? That just happened to my aunt, and it was likely her sense of balance and her sense of her body in space that led to her, ahem, downfall. It wasn't pretty, and thank goodness her brother (me Pa) bothered to stop by unannounced. Think about it - as we age, our hearing and sight are likely to decline. So why not assume the other 3? Or rather, 5? Actually, DO assume the others.

    Besides touch, smell and taste, what are those others? Why the Vestibular, and Proprioception senses, of course. (Vest and Prope, as I like to call them)
    The vestibular system explains the perception of our body in relation to gravity, movement and balance. The vestibular system measures acceleration, g-force, body movements and head position.  Examples of the vestibular system in practice include knowing that you are moving when you are in an elevator, knowing whether you are lying down or sat up, and being able to walk along a balance beam.

    Proprioception is the sense of the relative position of neighbouring parts of the body and strength of effort being employed in movement.  This sense is very important as it lets us know exactly where our body parts are, how we are positioned in space and to plan our movements.  Examples of our proprioception in practice include being able to clap our hands together with our eyes closed, write with a pencil and apply with correct pressure, and navigate through a narrow space.
    How's YOUR vest and prope? For some, these senses are developed early in childhood and happen right on or close to schedule. Sometimes, as with so many other milestones, something goes awry. It's often not such a big deal, but a solid early intervention can make a world of difference. Say your kid doesn't seem able to jump or grasp things. Have 'em checked out, just like you would their sight. Bea's job is to exercise those behaviors in a fun and shame-free environment, important because it's the very fact of doing something over and over that gets abandoned by a kid who feels they can't do something. And that's an unable-to-catch-22, in the awkward parlance of the Q.

    So...Bea's cool. Her space is awesome. She's doing an art show of the students soon (the Q will let you know). And she's planning Open Gym sessions on third Saturdays, and she does have a nice safe area for young ones to tumble and play. Let's wish her a long run, shall we? A safe, coordinated run, that leads to a higher quality of life, and the ability to catch buses just as they're about to leave the stop. The Q, I'm sad to say, has stopped running for buses.

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    Whoa! Emboldened, the Q guesses, by her "show" at The Brooklyn Museum, Ms. Boyd has taken her insults to the big stage...the tiny anti-gentrification rally staged by the aptly named Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network, whose co-founder Imani Henry used clandestine means to grow his anti-Q efforts to scar yours truly as anti-black-and-brown. A bonafide racist, out to expel every black or brown person from Flatbush. The toughest insult you can hurl at a white guy, and certainly worthy of his unsubstantiation campaign to tar and feather anyone who finds his rhetoric deplorable, is, of course, "racist." The conversation stopper is not altogether different than calling a fellow POC an "Uncle Tom."

    Beware, good people of Lefferts, black-brown-white or Jew! You too could be labeled a racist if you dare question a) her efforts to shut-down meaningful dialogue about Planning or b) her efforts to prevent residential buildings in, quite literally, her own backyard or c) any efforts to downzone parts of the neighborhood to prevent the rampant random development that we're now seeing everywhere. She will lie, smear, sue, chastise, boo, and otherwise drag you through the mud if you so much as question her tactics or views. And now, in a stunning display of topsy-turvy, she wants CB's to have MORE power, even enough to veto City policies. This would mean, of course, an entire rewriting of the City's Charter, its Constitution. No small feat. And as the Q has gone on record with the media, giving CB's real power spell a disaster for the sorts of City-wide initiatives that lead to real and meaningful progress. Imagine each CB, its own little fiefdom, some "dry" and some "wet," some open to immigrants and some not, some accepting safety improvements, some not. You'd have your Alabama's and your California's, right here in NYC!

    If you are black, the term "Uncle Tom" is right up there with calling white's "racist," in the sense that it's like firing a stun-gun, a Taser if you will. How do you respond effectively? Most would say...don't. That's been Adams' response, and of course, I would be well-advised to do the same. And while I don't always agree with Adams, I do often enough, and know his policies well enough, to know that he is an engaged and ardent supporter of all people of Brooklyn, but never without consideration of the needs of the black community. For someone who wants desperately to lead a movement, Boyd callously disregards the possibility of ever working with anyone with any credibility.

    This is not an unusual tactic for someone on the fringes, fighting for their vision of justice. But folks, she is not at all on the fringes - she's basically running the show around here, while we sit back (apparently) helplessly. Your CB9 has caved to her demands again and again, and as she's gained power she only reaches for more. She got a CB9 chair canned, and drove away other strong members. She canned a progressive Transportation Chair, she got CB9 to rescind its own Planning initiatives, she shut down a second attempt at Planning by constant attacks on the Board. She got the District Manager Pearl Miles fired, leaving a gaping hole and leading to yet another power struggle. She's working hard to get a sensible re-design of Empire Blvd shut down, and given her track record, she might well succeed.

    Hilarious bit: the way Boyd constantly calls people out for their behavior at CB9. If you've been to as many meetings as I have, that have been shut down by her outrageous attacks and childish stomping about, that's rich. Rich indeed, though perhaps not quite as rich as the people she says will be moving to our neighborhood in droves if we don't "Keep Empire Shitty" thereby screwing your neighbors and kowtowing to the neighborhood bully.

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    Why, you ask, does the Q continue to attend these meetings and care about the Planning Study that he helped ask for in spring of 2014, but that has since been buried by the unconscionable tactics of MTOPP, with no small help from "Concerned Citizens" I might add, who've helped spread misinformation and make bogus claims about 25 story towers and massive displacement?

    Why do I care? Because they're screwing the neighborhood. Royally. Just look at the stupid market-rate cheap-ass buildings going up all over the area, adding to the very density they so despise. They've stopped neither gentrification nor development. They've sacrificed real people's Quality of Life for their own. They're selfish, they're misinformed, and their attitude towards elected officials suggests they want absolutely no help from the City now or in the future, to address the severe shortage of housing for regular working Joe's and Jane's. They claim to care about the diversity of the neighborhood, but I ask you...what have they DONE to prevent its loss? They've pitted neighbor against neighbor, black against white against Jew, owner against renter, activist against activist, City against Citizens. And very, very few seem willing to try to stop them. Just last night I spoke to a Councilmember (one I respect btw) who said they'd never seen such a total disaster at a Community Board, of such complete dysfunction, with no clear way forward.

    That's what MTOPP brought y'all. Our potential friends have been reduced to throwing their hands in the air, and basically writing off our neighborhood as hopeless. Unless we come together and push back.

    And now they want to slow the process of a Planning Study even further. It's too late for 19 Clarkson, next to my neighbors at 17 and 21 who've lived their forever. The demolition of the attached limestone rowhouse between them is emblematic of the very development that we at CB9 sought to prevent - and WOULD HAVE, had the measure been allowed to stand. We were on our way to limiting height all over the neighborhood and downzoning where it made sense, which was basically anywhere that the current build-out was dense and tall enough. We've been swindled, hoodwinked, dissed, smeared, and forced to endure yet another attack on a decent and well-meaning group trying to take an even-handed approach to working with the City.

    I get it. You don't want to come. You don't need the spike in blood pressure or the verbal abuse. I keep wondering where my limit is. I feel like I'm on the rack in civic dungeon being stretched inch by inch. Actually, some time in a dungeon like that might help me lose weight and lessen back pain. Screw CB9. I'm off to the castle!

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    Opens TODAY. Hours are 11-10 M-Sat. 12-9 on Sunday.

    Your new wine & spirits store at 492 Flatbush has a tremendous pre-opening "buzz." Pick up a bottle on your way out of the B/Q/S stop at Prospect Park. Tell 'em the Q sent you and get two bottles for the price of one! *

    * offer prohibited wherever fine wine is sold.

    Swirlie Like a Girlie! Or the Guggenheim separated like an Oreo cookie

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    From the Participatory Budgeting requests, our Councilman released the following list of support. But it doesn't add up. As an informed reader points out, we asked for $20,000 for Real-Time Passenger Info, not $200,000. Plus, the Lake Mess Monster was also funded by Brad Lander. Mr. Councilman, we're seriously short here. Are we missing something? Or are you?

    DISTRICT 40 984 voters Cost
    1. Computer Lab Updates for Local Schools
    (PS 249, PS 245, PS 139, PS 6)
    803 $140,000
    2. Community Barbecue Sites in Prospect Park  522 $80,000
    3. Gymnasium Upgrades at Erasmus High School  514 $150,000
    4. Technology Updates for M.S. 2 Parkside Academy  489 $35,000
    5. Replacement of "Lake Mess Monster"  440 $140,000
    6. Smartboards for P.S. 92  396 $175,000
    7. Real-Time Passenger Information  385 $200,000

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  • 04/15/16--05:58: Forcing the Issue
  • Just sharing a note I sent to members of the ULURP committee. I wonder if we can jumpstart the idea of affordability AND call the question of whether we are really talking about affordable housing, or pure selfish NIMBYism. Curious what Q readers think...

    Dear All:

    At the next Committee meeting I would like to place a motion on the floor for consideration.
    Since to a number we have all questioned the affordability of units that would be built on Empire Blvd, and since the Mayor and Council have placed affordable housing at the top of the agenda, what if we asked for something TRULY radical and progressive.
    With support from our elected officials at state, city and federal levels, we could ask that Empire Blvd be a bold new case study for building ALL affordable units. The governments could pool resources to buy up all the commercial land (by eminent domain if necessary) and build low-income housing, real low-income housing. ALL affordable. With height limits, of course.
    With a non-profit developer, like CAMBA, we create a model for low income housing in a desirable neighborhood for the first time in decades. Priority could be given for people who are currently living, or have recently been displaced, from CB9.
    At the same time, the City should consider the best places to downzone, to address the distress and pressure faced by residents of inner blocks.

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