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  • 04/18/16--07:47: Down In Bubbleland

  • The Q has a problem. Whenever he makes a musical joke in his head he can never undo the damage. When I first saw that the large laundromat at the SW corner of Woodruff and Flatbush would be dubbed Bubbleland, I inserted the famous bit from Bruce Springsteen's "Jungleland" there it will stay, each and every time I read the sign. The place sat quiet for months... and now, BAM! It's Duds in Suds galore.

    Welcome to the neighborhood Bubbleland. To think of all the stains that will be removed and collars de-ringed, conversations started and lovers met, it makes one misty. Perhaps a couple will meet, fall in love, get married, have a baby, and name him after the place that they met?

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    More signs of the times.

    60 Clarkson. From homeless shelter, to market rate in, what, four months?

    And what's the significance, you might ask? These were all big, livable rent stabilized apartments. Homes, as it were. Barry Hersko is moving lickety split towards deregulation. And he's $200 shy of getting there...

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  • 04/18/16--18:18: Tragedy Strikes Fenimore
  • Fire. Fast and furious. 203 Fenimore. A 64 year-old woman, Patricia Thomas, was caught in the fire and died. 8 firefighters injured. Dreadful, to say the least. A beautiful day in Lefferts, gone horribly wrong.

    pic by Bob Marvin

    Pretty sure this is the one, from a google street view:

    and now:
    trevor kapp for DNAInfo article

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    Maybe it's the two young daughters talking. Maybe I'm just old and "establishment." But I was around when Hillary first was getting dogged by the right and she hasn't had a day-off since. She logged her thousands of hours to bring us universal health care, and realized you might have to take the long view sometimes. The criticism against her has been 99.9% bullshit. Unlikable you say? How could you LIKE her, given the kind of hateful screen time she's gotten for the last quarter century?

    I love you Bernie, always have. And I'm looking forward to watching you support your President from the Senate, where you can lead the Banking Committee, and vote in the next two or three Supreme Court Justices. Do what you can to break up those banks, but like Hillary learned with healthcare, don't expect the world to change as a result of your tenacity. Frankly, your tirades on trade show you don't see the whole picture, or are merely using lost manufacturing jobs as a campaign ploy. I get it; it's politics. But we definitely need more folks like you, and I hope young people all over the country are serious about picking up the torch.

    Just a few of the images going through the Q's mind as he heads to the polls:

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    So many memories. So many cheeseburgers. And so many coffee tables that just didn't fit in the new apartment, but maybe one day! All this and more leads one to the conclusion - do nothing, keep Empire as is, in all its glory, for future generations to enjoy, locked in time. Like a theme park - Colonial Williamsburg or Plymouth Plantations even! Sell tickets! Real life recreations with live actors.

    For the past two years, a fight over the future of two blocks of Empire Blvd leading to the Park have turned neighbor against neighbor in an unusually heated argument about a once-arcane subject - zoning. Some see in Empire a place that embodies the sometimes conflicting goals of progress and preservation. What does the Q see? The marvels captured in the pictures below should make the case once and for all that Empire should be enshrined just as it is - a historic district, on the National Register of Historic Places, maybe even a World Heritage Site, or at the very least, an awesome place to snarf a burger and donut after working out at Planet Phitness.

    Fine fencing. Keeping the riffraff out, or the delicate beauty in? Nice parking spot!

    Where doth yonder doorway lead? To a storage room of earthly delights, no doubt.

    Makes me pine for my youth in the glorious Midwest

    Seriously, one of my favorite things on Empire - the roof of the Firestone

    Yep! That hole at Bedford & Empire Is Yet Another Storage Facility

    The irony is too sweet. Supplies, but no actual apartments to speak of.

    24-hour access! It's like an emergency room, for bric-a-brac!

    Terrific Use of Real Estate Near Park & Garden


    A relative newcomer - not but a few steps from the funeral home

    Vandals Stole the "E"

    Pretty hilarious that there's another BP just around the corner

    More underused non-public parking

    Awaiting...another storage facility?

    A terrific example of mid-century Brutalist crapitecture

    Sorry to see Toomey's go. Still, that's one butt-ugly building. Or two.

    Amazing. There's actually a strip mall a block from Prospect Park!

    Kinda cool carpet place - could go anywhere

    Is actual place where people live? Must keep that. Bet they're still stabilized.

    Always good to have a pumpin' weekend-only nightclub. Right down from the Botanic Garden.

    Sort of nouveau gulag

    Windows would absolutely ruin the vibe

    Before the internet, there was wheat paste!

    A-List Exterminators - 718-908-5933 (in case the sign blows off, bookmark this page for the digits!)

    Moved down the road a piece


    Such convenience - practically in the schoolyard

    What's with the blue chalk markings? Seriously, I don't get it.

    It's the leadup to the Park that'll take your breath away

    Parking, parking, parking! But you can't park there and go to the park. Or park at night.

    Loaded? Oy. Never liked the way USPKH cut up Kar and Ate. Who wants to study Kar Ate?

    This gives me an idea. Drive-thru church! Pentecostal Shakes. Baptist Burgers. Prayers on the go!

    A little slice of New Orleans, right here on the Empire, next to Phat Albert's rump

    Strolling Down the Boulevard. Can't you hear Joni singing "I was a free man in Paris..."

    One of just 5,435 DDs in the tristate area!

    I'll always have a soft spot for Wendy's and its "biggie" menu items

    Dave Thomas was adopted. So was the Q. Little known facts.

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    And they're giving away 10% of net profits to...drum roll...The Parkside Plaza! Now I won't quibble (I will nibble though). It's tough to turn a profit in your first year. BUT if we all agree not to go gluten-free for a year upon Nagle's opening, we stand a pretty good chance of keeping the Plaza rolling in the right direction. Props due to Seth Kaplan and the Lefferts Gardens Facebook community, and of course, the Parkside Committee that defied the odds and created an urban refuge where once there was none. And to think, an actual bagel place in Lefferts. I'm speechless, and feeling brunchy.

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  • 04/21/16--07:19: MTOPP Over the Big-Top
  • At last night's Board meeting - pure hilarity. Alicia and Janine et al offered incoming attendees a "program" for the evening that features yours truly as the "star." Which of course is fitting, given that I'm the "biggest racist" on the board, and thus demand top billing.

    And guess what? Stapled to each program was a bag of popcorn. Some of which was Kosher! Bravo.

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    Happy for them; still, surprised the NY Times is on the case
    They're usually behind by a year or two.
    That's Linda Jaquez's picture
    Never in a million years...but hey if you want a house you gotta start looking outside the "box."

    NY Times On House Hunting in E Flatbush

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  • 04/24/16--05:31: 626 Views
  • The developer of 626 Flatbush, the 23-story building that we love to hate and hate to love, has released a stunning promo video that reflects the kind of production values typically reserved for Manhattan and the brooklyn of the 'teens.

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    As neighborhood naysayers continues to thwart a Planning Study that would unquestionably lead to the creation of more affordable housing, word comes that 626 Flatbush and its 50 units of affordable rentals will be opening end of summer or so.

    And so, as the building spree continues, it turns out that the best hope for the future has been relegated to a 23 story building, much taller than we should have expected in exchange for the much needed working folks' units.

    How affordable? The units are designed for those making 40 to 50 % of AMI (Area Mean Income). That is, folks making around $35 - $40K. So when someone asks "affordable to whom," that's pretty much your answer. Apartments renting for around $1,000 or less.

    Yimby's Article

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    If it comes to pass, and it looks damn likely, the single biggest positive physical change to the neighborhood will happen within a year or so. The Phat Albert's clock will be restored to its former glory, along with some serious repairs to the building's facade. That alone would be enough. But wait...there's more!

    Slowly and stealthily, the warehouse building that was once the Bond Bakery has been undergoing an extraordinary change from within, thanks to the attention of Jack Srour, son of Albert, who, by the way, is neither particularly fat OR phat. But danged if he didn't have some good timing, personally and professionally. Albert fled the start of the civil war in Lebanon nigh on 40 years ago and humbly built a humble retailing humble empire of humble goods. Jack's inherited the savvy. And as a Brooklyn resident himself, he knows precisely the enormous worth of the building his family owns. Trust me, he gets it.

    If "location, location, location" means anything, the old Bond Bakery has it in spades. Park, Garden, views and a plethora of trains and buses. Planet Fitness was the first new tenant to change the vibe, but it's the recently opened Bklyn Commons that will really remake the triangle. Maybe we should call it Flempwa (Flatbush Empire Washington?) Or Fleffwemp? (Flatbush Lefferts Washington Empire? Because it's actually a rhombus). Whatever. It's clear Srour would prefer to highlight the Bond Bakery aspect of the building. Old-timers will tell you they can still remember the wafting of baking bread in the neighborhood each morning. That and perhaps the smell of smog from the ghastly air quality of NYC in the '60s and '70s?

    The Brooklyn Commons is a top-notch first-rate ship-shape co-work space, with simple one-desk spaces running from $475 a month to larger multi-desk offices that look like, well, an office. You get complimentary coffee and tea, the utilities and wi-fi etc included. Air conditioning in summer (crucial) and you don't have to buy something once an hour from the barista to legitimize your hogging of table-space. You can come in hourly too and sit at communal desks, or do that by the month (around $150 unlimited). There's a sweet outdoor patio on the roof, and the design is all super-slick and up-to-date, replete with vintage photographs and graffiti. He's nearly 80% rented already, and that's why he's expanding into another big space at the Washington side of the building. Workers were doing demo and construction just today as I peeked into the cavernous room.

    You can do events at the Commons too. Apparently the Brooklyn Film Festival's coming (tenants have to agree to cede the common space for nighttime shindigs when they happen.) Rentals of the big space can hit $250 an hour, with breaks for community minded stuff. Jack wondered aloud if the Community Board might be interested. Wow, now THAT would be something. I told him that probably wouldn't be such a good idea, but I'll bet there are some groups out there that would be perfectly suited to the space. Like I says, location, location, location. Interested in renting for events? Contact Johanne Brierre, who just so happened to grow up on Hawthorne III, by the by.

    Events & Community Manager Johanne Brierre & Owner Jack Srour

    And what of Phat Albert's? Well, it's safe to say that the Savvy Srours will find a more profitable use for the downstairs space. He wasn't committing, but Jack and I did talk a bit about Berg'n over at 1000 Dean, you know, Brownstoner Jonathan Butler's old Studebaker factory cum chum-hang and offices. It's clearly not lost on him what a nice combo of businesses might look like on the upper Flabenue. Imagine, tons of workers, fitness space, bar and food. And with Wendy's just around the corner to provide Frosties at most any hour, what's not to like?

    Actually, speaking of sweet chilly treats, check out the pic below of the Bond Bakery and corner where the Wendy's is. Zoom in and you'll see an Ice Cream Parlor, right there where the beautiful parking lot is now.

    And lastly, yes, big plans are afoot to rejigger the long-forlorn clock and tower. New windows, newfangled electronic mechanisms, and pretty soon you got yourself a great countdown clock to New Year's.

    I'm telling you Jack. Fix up that clocktower and you will be, I assure you, a neighborhood hero.

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  • 05/04/16--08:52: Bob Marvin Talks the Walk
  • Who wouldn't say oui to a brunch-time stroll with 40+year Lefferts resident Bob Marvin? On a Saturday? In May? If Jane Jacobs got anything right, besides thwarting the excesses of Robert Moses, she encouraged us to slow down and smell the limestone. She also helped ensure that no one you know would ever be able to afford an apartment in Greenwich Village, but that's another story.

    This is a picture of Jane. Not Bob.

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    It's my kids's school, and it really is fun if you like bouncy castles and touching trucks.

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    But which coffee shop will he prefer? Odds on, Gratitude Cafe. It's closer. Lincoln Road y'all. I trust we'll all react like the cool New Yorkers that we are and be totally blasé about it to his face, all the while gloating about it to our friends and enemies.

    Coates Confirmed By NY Post

    Did you hear it in the Q first? Of course you did.

    Was the Q geeking out about him all summer? Of course he was.

    Next up. I'm working on getting Henry Rollins and Bootsy Collins to move in and start a band. The Rollins-Collins Band, of course.

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  • 05/06/16--08:11: Full Buzz For 10% Less!
  • Come on by for DRINK's grand opening tomorrow, Saturday, and get 10% off purchases. That's 492 Flatbush, 'cross from (the soon to disappear?) Phat Albert's:
    The place, to quote the Yiddish, is schwank but friendly. Me, I'm not a drinker, so a place like "Drink" would be like a place called "Gluten" for a Celiac sufferer. Frankly I thought Mad Dog 20/20 got the job done just fine. Mix it with Bud to give it an extra kick. So I'll let the proprietor do the talking. From Co-Owner and local resident Howard Gibbins:
    From the outset we wanted to work with as many local people as possible. The store design was done in conjunction with local PLG architect Roberta Woelfling (Rutland 1) and three of our top suppliers are long time residents of PLG - Kurt Eckert of Marathon Selections (Midwood 1), Matt Sarno of Winebow (Rutland 2) and Rennie Alba with Opici (Hawthorne 2).   
    DRINK now offers over 370 curated domestic and international wines along with close to 100 artisanal small batch spirits. We really wanted to make the store accessible for all PLG residents and so prices range from $7 to $260 - so something for everyone. Half our wines are under $20. We also now offer FREE SAME DAY DELIVERY in PLG. We are working to finish our outdoor space which will be used for wine tastings and wine education.  
    We believe wine and spirits should inspire friendship and fun. Discovering really delicious new wine and spirits should never be intimidating or difficult so we have a very knowledgeable team led by General Manager Paul Arena. Paul has many years of experience including working at Chelsea Wine Vault and Grand Harvest Wines in Manhattan.   
    Randy (Rutland 2, formerly an attorney) and I (Maple 2, formerly a tv producer) have both lived in PLG for 16 years so we're very happy to be able to invest in our neighborhood. We really hope it will inspire friends and neighbors to open other new businesses. 
    Its our Grand Opening on Saturday May 7th and some of our favorite distributors will be at DRINK pouring from Noon throughout the day and we'll have live music too courtesy of guitarist and vocalist Charlie Jones and a standup bass from 6pm-9pm.
    We've got quite a lineup of tastings for everyone and all details are on our website and we're also on Facebook (Drink PLG Wine & Spirits).
    Here's the Grand Opening tastings info:
    Noon-2pm - Trevor Hagstrom of Indie Wineries pouring two Italian gems from their book. 2pm-4pm - Nicole DiCicco of Skurnik pours a yummy Rhone Valley rose and a Finger Lakes Riesling - 4pm-6pm - Charlie from Welkin Vines will pour some of the Pacific Northwest's finest: What we think is THE top example of what the noble Riesling grape can do out of Washington State, and a plush, elegant Bordeaux-style red blend that offers tremendous value - 6pm-8pm - Matt Sarno from Winebow will be here pouring a killer Malbec from Argentina and a delicious unoaked chardonnay from the Mâconnaise.

    Howard & Randy. Thx guys, for investing right here at home.. Nice and curvy, y'all. The space, I mean!

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  • 05/06/16--11:22: 45 Lenox Rendering
  • This Is An Example of the "Better Than the Vacant Lot" School of Architecture
    Another day, another new project in Flatbush. YIMBY recently stumbled across a rendering for a six-story apartment building coming to 45 Lenox Road, between Flatbush and Bedford avenues.
    The Issac and Stern-designed development will fill a vacant lot between two pre-war apartment buildings, in a rapidly changing but still heavily Caribbean part of central Brooklyn. At the end of the block, the city plans to redevelop the colorful Flatbush Caton Market into an affordable apartment building with a new market and community spaces on the ground floor.

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    The Q is stunned. Shocked. A week after embracing the idea of a great writer moving to the neighborhood, he's thinking of backing out on us? Because people know the address? EVERYONE knows EVERYONE'S ADDRESS, man! You have heard of the internet, yes? Edward Snowden? Some, in the halls of power, actually say we're more safe. With a straight face. Yes, they do.

    Like we don't know where Woody Allen lives. Spike Lee. Nora Jones. Bjork. Ethan Hawke (yes, Ethan, that was me giving you a high five in Boerum Hill the other day). In L.A. they sell maps to the stars homes. And they're surprisingly easy to break into, according to the The Globe.

    Mr. Coates, I hope you're ready to reconsider. You will not be anonymous anywhere you live. But you will never be safer than you'd be in Brooklyn.

    Come home, man. The door's always open. We need you. We love you. And after a few weeks, no one will even remember you're here. Just ask A.O. Scott who lives down the block from you whether anyone pays for his coffee when he walks into Gratitude Cafe. You're a big star, yes. But not all THAT big. Get a big dog. And a good lock. Ask the neighbors to keep an eye on things. You'll be leaving the windows wide open in no time! (Uh, it's still the big City. Maybe ixnay on the indowsway. But frankly you'd be safer here than in the 'burbs. The creepy, quiet, 'burbs. Or the serial killer exurbs! Or the...or the...Zika-Ridden Countryside!!)

    And I'm sorry, but the The Atlantic Magazine readers are NOT the ones you should be scared of in the first place. The really scary guys could use a few more good take-downs IN the Atlantic though.

    Trust me. You're in friendly territory here, and we got yer back.

    Coates Reconsiders

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    Before Brooklyn Commons, there was the lovely Brooklyn Compound co-ork space, up above the beer store at Lefferts/Washington/Flatbush. Not to be outdone, they've got a swell program set:

    Community Wellenss Open House
    Tuesday May 10th from 4 - 8pm
    Free Childcare provided by Maple Street School
    Come over for a post-work wellness treatment atMINKAbrooklyn
    Zen Shiatsu
    Flower Essence Therapy
    Tarot Reading
    Spiritual Reading
    Community acupuncture @ Bikram Yoga

    For childcare registration please

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  • 05/10/16--06:48: Winos on Every Block

  • Crazy y'all. You can't swing a dead cat around here without swatting a wine store. And each one has a slightly different spin on the world's oldest inebriator. Damone Jones, the affable Men-of-Lefferts Calendar-Ready gentleman in the photo, believes that wine is life, life is wine, and a big part of HIS life is owning a wine store in Lefferts. Called Vyne Yard. And it's on Rogers! So now you can get high-class wine on Nostrand (Little Mo), Rogers, Upper Flabenue (Drink) and Lower Flabenue (65 Fen). Dang. But still no Tapas or vinyl record stores? Long way to go folks...

    Damone hails from Buffalo, where he met biz partner Michael Brooks at College. Their (presumably) beer guzzling days as proud members of the 100-year-old storied Phi Beta Sigma took a Europhisticated turn, and here we are, with Vyne Yard, their latest venture on Rogers Avenue. Inspiration struck in Barcelona at a place called the Torres Vineyard. So now you can experience true Spanish culture, and elsewheres, without having to endure the indignities of air travel. Just scoot, hobble, toddle, weave, saunter, strut or teeter over to 594 Rogers and reel in the aroma, drop a few Tubmans, and fill up your rack with vino.

    The hours are Mon-Fri 2-9, Sat-Sun 12-9.

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