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    They're our "Cagney and Lacey." Names? Needham & Gardner. They're YOUR cops, and they should be on your speed-email. and They're part of the new and long overdue community policing initiative from the new leadership.

    There's been a lot of talk in the news media about cops. The widespread belief in this country is that the Police view black folks as the enemy; that they too often profile; that they stop them more often, that they're more likely to use lethal force, and more likely to arrest and ultimately incarcerate blacks than whites. All of this is true, but as with any wide brush it belies the fact that there are many good cops who, when they take the oath to protect and serve, do so with a big heart and a desire to be fair and helpful. In my view, those cops need to be commended and promoted. The latter, well, there's always security work at the mall on Staten Island.

    So just as cops may internalize stereotypes about residents, so might we stereotype them. On some level we have to elevate the good and eliminate the bad. But we can't do without the police entirely. And so the Q would like to introduce you to two gentlemen who I believe have the neighborhood's well-being at heart - Officers Max Gardner and Sean Needham.

    Max & Sean
     The Q sat down with the two men in blue over tea and crumpets (okay, Officer Gardner was finishing up some fast food and I was chewing gum) at the 71st, which I must say could use an overhaul if they ever put even a little money into the police stations themselves; this modernist low-rise is tremendously ugly and out-of-character. Also, an interior designer's touch is in order to - liven the place up a bit. Anyhoo, some things I learned include:

    a) the new Community Policing effort is the baby of new NYPD Commissioner Jimmy O'Neil
    b) the above guys are known as Neighborhood Coordination Officers, or NCO's
    c) these guys cover Sector C (Charlie if you will) that means Ocean to NY Ave, Empire to Clarkson
    d) they ACTUALLY read the 311 reports from the previous day, meaning your 311 calls do not go completely unnoticed, as you might have assumed
    e) they tried giving out their cell phone #s but they're getting killed with texts, so please, email, and they promise to stay on top of them
    f) they know a lot of the not-so-nice fellas on my block and nearby, by name, which made me feel better that they know their stuff
    g) that most annoying drunk that hangs out on the stoop near Winthrop/Flatbush is named Roland
    h) they're encouraged by command to get to know the community and attend any local functions, block association meetings, church shindigs, book groups what-have-you
    i) they play a little hoops with the guys on Hawthorne
    j) the Parkside Playground has quieted down a lot and it really is mostly about playing ball these days
    k) there are pockets of gang members that they keep an eye on, but frankly there's only so much you can do without stepping over the line of good community policing
    l) I offered, and they concurred, that we will not be able to stop every gang retaliation murder, but we have to stay open to new ways of preventing them

    And that's where they won me over. They seem sincere about their desire to win our trust and work WITH us. But I gotta say that's going to be hard, and we all know it. They're going to have to be patient and tolerant of the anguish and resentment out there, because it's real, and it will fly in their face from time to time. On the other hand, it seems that they're off to a great start, and I'm a pretty good judge of character, and these guys are smart and sincere with a good sense of humor.

    Let's give 'em a warm Sector C welcome, shall we?

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    A couple years back there was a lot of chatter about the large number of registered sex offenders inhabiting 1785 Bedford Avenue up between Sterling and Lefferts, across from the Grace Church there. It's a halfway house, a home for those trying to transition from prison to life. As the Q did when this first came to light, I want to remind folks that "sex offender," as awful as that may be, is not the same as "sexual predator" of children. Still, the proximity of so many troubled men has had a lot of people uncomfortable at best, terrified at worst.

    It's for sale. So says an Eagle-Eyed Ely.

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    Don't ever let them tell you that one person can't make a difference!

    Alicia Boyd scored yet another knockout. CB9's third duly elected Chair in three years has resigned effective IMMEDIATELY. Admittedly he has a monster job in "real life" and this Chair stuff was taking too much of his mental and emotional energy. But I know Demetrius. He's a good guy, and he didn't deserve the dusting up by MTOPP. One frivolous lawsuit after another. Constant screaming and disruption. Lies, innuendo, name-calling. In the end, there's only so much a humble, generous and decent volunteer can take.

    I learned a lot from this guy, about grace under pressure. He gave it his all. I honestly believe the neighborhood owes him a huge thanks for trying to move us forward. To the next chapter! See you round the 'hood bro.

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    People ask the Q all the time how they can get involved in local goings-on. The Community Board #9, from my perspective, is effectively dead for the moment while it tries once again to regain its composure and dignity in the face of a full-frontal attack by the group calling itself MTOPP. Unless you like your politics mean and dirty, I suggest you align yourself with Assembly person Diana Richardson's "Civic Minded." Granted, the Sour Sally's at MTOPP might come and make trouble there too, but let me tell you Diana don't play. She's got the smart tongue to put AB in her place should she come a-knockin.' Demetrius, god bless him, hadn't the heart to fight fire with fire.

    So...the biggest fight on the table, for the lower income good people of Brooklyn, is the fate of what was long a military outpost - The Bedford Union Armory, up on Bedford and, um, Union. While that might seem a decent hop from Lefferts, it really isn't. It's no farther than, say, mid-to-north Park Slope, and the Slope's got an armory with quite a nice YMCA rec center. But the Bedford Union Armory (not to be confused with the Bedford Armory on Atlantic) has become one of the last serious opportunities for the City to develop both affordable housing AND recreation AND community center. The EDC (that brought you Downtown Brooklyn, Hudson Yards, Battery Park City among others) chose a fairly conservative developer, Slate, that was quickly knocked out due to its sneaky-Pete dealings. But think about it - this is on of the largest City-owned properties around. The City could choose not to go with a for-profit model at all, and build ALL affordable housing.

    Check out this great article in the Guardian about the valiant efforts of the Crown Heights Tenants Union and others to stick it to the Man. Great reading, this, and lots of background info.

     Folks, this is where the true leanings of Brooklyn's leadership and lefty residents can be either heroes or goats. You hear a lot about how home owners care deeply about their low-income renting neighbors. But do they really? Let's see if they (you?) can put political muscle behind an All-Affordable complex with low-cost rec center. Let's be clear - NOT public housing, but damn close. If you're surviving on minimum wage, you need a place to live. And this, my friends, might be it. Close to trains, the Museum and Garden, schools and amenities. Come out on the 22nd of October and show your support and voice your opinion and meet your neighbors and leaders. It's a good time, y'all.

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    Gotta love the gumption!

    She writes all the copy herself, in the third person no less. Then she's spotted by locals plastering the neighborhood with her own propaganda. Ms. Alicia Boyd was accused of criminal wrongdoing, assault, but the Q never saw much sense in that lawsuit. Lots of people are pissed at her, but the incident in question was pretty minor as ruckus goes. She did LOOK like she was going to clock someone, and she most certainly did resist arrest, knocking over a table and kicking officers as they tried to escort her out of the meeting room over on Nostrand. In another incident that was excused, she assaulted a BBG worker on Washington. Rage against the machine indeed.

    What is truly unreal about her campaign to prevent ANY rezoning in the neighborhood - good, bad or indifferent - is that she's fighting her own neighbors in a manner that prevents even the most basic, civil discourse. There are many reasons the neighborhood, and the City, need to consider ways to increase housing stock and develop more rent stabilized affordable housing. But we'll never get there with her histrionics. I've watched with dismay as one local resident after another tries to calm her down long enough to get to the place where we could actually sit down with the City and plan our future. Trying to appease her is a lost cause. How could it be otherwise? Ms. Boyd is creating a cult of personality around herself. If you read her delusional self-aggrandizing copy, you'll see she's loving every minute of it.

    Take a look at the picture of her supporters. Do they think so little of you as a neighbor with intelligence and conscience, that they will go to any length to prevent your opinion from being registered? Apparently so.

    It's all fine, really. They have none of the power they think they have to prevent gentrification. That's always been the wedge they use to try to convince us they are on the side of the "little guy," when in fact nearly to a number they're all homeowners who've made a million or so dollars off gentrification, the "racism discount" that allowed them to buy homes in the first place. I should know; I'm one of them.

    And then there are the well-meaning other million-dollar home owners who will tell you they are for unbridled landmarking and creating a "human scale city." Hey, I like humans as much as the next guy. You know how I like to treat those humans? Let me give you a quick list.

    A) I don't call them Uncle Toms or "fat white fucks" and create petitions calling them racists
    B) I don't use the dog whistles of anti-Semitism to appeal to those already seething over perceived Jewish takeover of Crown Heights
    C) I allow them to discuss and vote in the spirit of democracy
    D) I don't waste their valuable time, especially that of neighbors who volunteer to work towards an equitable future
    E)  I don't claim moral high ground in a complex debate on class and race and neighborhood character
    F) I don't use my "healing" non-profit to raise money for my political and legal battles
    G) I don't call my neighborhood "all black" when it clearly is not (seen the subway platforms lately?)
    H) I don't ignore the very real need for new housing among lower income working people

    And most importantly perhaps, because I do like a brave "I don't give a fuck" activist, I'd love for MTOPP or Concerned Citizens to hear themselves as they fight ANY new development, even as it's happening all around them at market rates only. A "human scale City" might sound nice. But guess what? Humans need a place to live. And increasingly, "human scale" refers only to those humans who already have a comfortable and massively lucrative home of their own

    Jane Jacobs was racist and naive, but she had some great points and fought the excesses of an all-powerful city planner. But Jane Jacobs lived in a very different time, when the primary goal was to keep jobs and manufacturing and yes, middle-class whites, right here in the City as they were pouring out for the suburbs. The exact opposite is true today, except replace the word manufacturing with tech and small business entrepreneurship. Her strongest arguments were about public safety for gods sakes! Wonder how she'd have dealt with the crack wars of the '90s. Or what she'd think of the desolate and mostly vacant Empire Boulevard near the Park.

    Jane Jacobs is dead. We live in different times. And we need different solutions. Instead, we get the Kim Jong Il of Lefferts Gardens. Did I tell you about the time she bullied the Brooklyn Museum into accepting a "settlement" for having the audacity to host a real estate conference, wherein she would be the keynote speaker along with increasingly out-of-touch ex-planner Tom Angotti? Truly, we have spawned a movement. The word "bowel" might appropriately proceed it.

    Speaking of which, the other day a person took a dump between two parked cars in front of my house. Somehow human poo just smells worse and is more slippery and long-lasting than the canine variety. Dropping the kids off at the curb, I guess you could say.

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  • 10/12/16--20:16: Fall Is a Time For Stuff
  • Do you like going to meetings? No? What about meetings where you are stung by a thousand bees, like this?

    Oh shush, I'm just joshing. CB9 ULURP meetings are informative and powerfully invigorating. And there's one tomorrow night! Besides the usual updates, knick-knacks and paddy whacks, there will be some very titilating presentations by two local block associations in Lefferts who are the first off the blocks to submit applications to protect their blocks from unwanted development. The south side of Fenimore is applying to downzone, and Parkside Ave (Flat-Bed) is looking to Landmark. Will the City take up their causes? Stay close to your landline to find out! Ultimately, if they succeed, there's no reason to suspect a dozen more wouldn't follow. But is City Planning to work on these issues piecemeal? My spies say no, but maybe with the right finesse and backhand...

    Now don't tell me you haven't seen the scaffolding for the facade change at the Duane Reade at Flatbush and Parkside. That's all it is, according to sources who name sources named Seth Kaplan, he of the neighborhood Facebook page. According to the many well-wishers and congratulators, his letter to Walgreens headquarters (they own DR now) was received favorably and it apparently played no small role in the middle managers' decision to give our very own "deLish" and "Nice!" headquarters a makeover. (remember their mysterious "Apt 5" brand that crept on and off the scene awhile back?) The Q tries hard not to shop the DR - most things he and his family need are available at Ma & Pa's, but sometimes the bright fluorescents and reliable air conditioning just suck you in off the street. Every once or twice a week, one just has to bite the bullet, and then leave the DR with a sense that one's helped America feed its corporate coffers. And all is right in the world.

    Ooooh. And also tomorrow night, don't miss the big community meeting about the Parks Without Borders project, which will inevitably intersect our quality of life in important ways. 6 pm at the Lakeside Center.

    Lastly word is in that our Pioneer Supermarket landlord has chosen to subdivide his plot. With a new building coming? Stay right near that landline, folks. No bathroom breaks.

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    As the Q has tried (in vain) to point out, not all Development = bad Development. Sometimes it's good to build housing, especially in a tight and overpriced market. That's how prices come down. And given the Mayor's priorities and tactics, that's also how you get new affordable, rent-stabilized housing. Except on City-owned property, like the Bedford-Union Armory, your options are somewhat limited, given the law's basic assumptions of the right to build on privately owned land. Givens? Givens,

    Just saying you're against change doesn't mean that change stops. And many benefit from upward rent and development pressure. Actually, anyone who owns land or sells land or builds or does commerce, and let's face it, that's a lot a lot a lot of people who have financial incentive to gentrify and grow.

    Take real estate brokers. Now, I have nothing but respect for Bette Cunningham and her sisters and their wonderful home up in the Manor. They're lifers, full of love for the nabe and its inhabitants. But I was surprised at the enthusiasm she shows for tearing down buildings, talking up the oversized and disruptive 626 Flatbush and overzoned R7 distinction for much of the neighborhood (R7 led to 626 and is helping create elephantine structure all over Flatbush). Developers probably don't need much hyping. I'd frankly have left the house and lot sell themselves, to whomever. But then it IS the seller's choice and right to exact whatever they can from their property. A developer will probably pay twice what a single homeowner would. This is, we must resign ourselves, the age in which we live. And there's nothing that the CB's or your elected leaders seem interested in doing about it.

    Perhaps what bugs me the most is that folks in Historic Districts should really be content to enjoy the benefits of their low density housing, rather than promoting the destruction of buildings nearby.

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  • 10/13/16--12:49: Blessings Does Dinner
  • Hungry?
    You know it's gonna be good. Everything Lily & Co make is outasight.

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    On the plus side, Trump won't be there to grope the trucks. On the other plus side, you'll be helping support a great local school right here in the ol' 17th District.

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    Nutshell, with Nut Still in Shell, Prior to Shelling

    Went to the meeting set up by Parks Without Borders and the Prospect Park Alliance. About 40 people showed...seemed light for turnout, not well promoted. The basic idea is that there's money to fund new entrances and perimeter landscaping and wider sidewalks for the Flatbush Avenue side of the Park. I lobbied for a major entrance just north of the zoo, with a clearer zoo entrance. Everyone wanted bikelanes, though that's DOT's bailiwick. Seems like a MAJOR improvement is afoot. I want a 24-hour newstand at that middle entrance. Safer, and you can ride up and get a copy of the New Yorker at 4am when you can't sleep because you're mulling over your bourgeois problems.

    Then it was off (on bike, after a near collision at, you guessed it, Washington/Empire, fuck 'em, y'all, someone's gonna get killed real soon.) to the CB9 ULURP meeting, for a terrific presentation by landuse consultant Paul Graziano. The southside of Fenimore has logged its hours researching its houses, and found that they all have deed restrictions limiting to one-family homes. And while a lawsuit could probably prevent a developer tear-down, you have to pay for it, so the good folks of Fenimore want the extra protection the City zoning can provide. The Block Association wants to downzone the south side, Bed to Rog, and while some on the committee felt it was unfair and unwise to open up zoning conversation with the City, even if it's a private application, good-neighborliness prevailed. Three voted against co-applying with Fenimore. But the majority, Q included, sided with the Fen Block Association, many of whom attended and pleaded their case. They have the goods, and have paid the consultant, and should be allowed to get their downzoning, though the Q and others were understandably envious. The Q was additionally saddened to realize that MTOPP has so thoroughly convinced many of your neighbors that ANY collaboration with the City is not in our interest. It's pure bologna, but hey, some people really, really, really like their Sonic burgers and dilapidated warehouse buildings and storage facilities.

    Ben Edwards led a discussion of Parkside Ave, Flat to Bed, and their application to Landmark the houses there. Richard Walkes, who wants to landmark a whole swath of the nabe that's NOT currently included in the Historic District (South PLG if you will), felt that it was more practical for the neighborhood to go in together, and he's even created a non-profit to do just that. The CB tabled the vote on whether to support the Parkside application, citing, among other things, the need to hear from the residents themselves, none of whom showed for the meeting.

    Two things you may or may not know. Landmarking does not apply to houses only; rent stabilized big apartment buildings can be just as historically significant, often built by noted architects. And it needn't be contiguous old-time buildings - a single modern building does not a landmark neighborhood negate. so if you think you're unworthy of landmarking, take heart. It's not just about how purdy a building is; it's about history and the worthiness of protecting that history going forward. Paul nailed it though - Landmarking and the agency itself, are notoriously capricious. Who knows who will succeed and who will fail? Only time, and a lot of tears, will tell.

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  • 10/17/16--11:59: Big City Bullies
  • One of the 100 Worst Landlordsin NYC, in Kindergarten
    It should come as no surprise that more and more landlords are getting aggressive about dumping rent-stabilized tenants from their rent rolls. The latest lawsuit with teeth is hitting Empire Holdings, which owns (among others)

    434 Rogers Ave
    200 Rogers Ave
    229 Rogers Ave
    1604 Bedford Ave
    1146 President St

    Here's what Legal Services is saying:
    October 13, 2016, BROOKLYN, N.Y.—Legal Services NYC’s Brooklyn program today filed a lawsuit on behalf of twelve low-income, longtime tenants facing eviction because they cannot afford the exorbitant rent increases that their landlordEmpire Holdings L.P., is illegally demanding from them. The tenants, mostly seniors, are supported by IMPACCT Brooklyn (formerly known as Pratt Area Community Council). 

    And Public Advocate Leticia James just came out with her 100 worst landlords list. You can search for you building on her site. I'm going to print all their names below so there's one more place that they might show up on the internet in connection with their miserable loathsomeness.

    Rank Landlord Buildings Units Violations
    1 HARRY D SILVERSTEIN 8 575 2082
    2 ALLAN GOLDMAN 25 187 1208
    3 EFSTATHIOS VALIOTIS 8 237 1141
    4 MARTIN KIRZNER 11 280 1059
    5 VED PARKASH 4 257 1020
    6 MARK SILBER 10 216 1003
    8 FELIX GOMEZ 6 260 942
    9 RAWLE ISAACS 4 214 891
    10 JOEL KOHN 23 152 856
    11 ISKYO ARONOV 16 66 819
    12 LARRY HIRSCHFIELD 5 66 798
    13 DAVID DAVID 5 272 787
    14 BRUCE HALEY 7 153 783
    15 ISAAC SCHWARTZ 10 154 778
    16 JOSEPH HOFFMAN 1 287 762
    17 JONATHAN COHEN 17 144 761
    18 JAY MILLER 7 204 739
    19 ADAM STRYKER 10 182 724
    20 ZEV SALOMON 8 197 717
    21 JOEL GOLDSTEIN 11 218 696
    22 MARC CHEMTOB 5 169 692
    23 MEIR FRIED 19 139 690
    24 MARTIN BAUMRIND 12 113 679
    25 MARK TRESS 1 20 664
    26 YOSEF EMERGI 13 70 652
    27 DAVID BARON 4 177 645
    28 MOSHE DEUTSCH 15 112 638
    29 ELEANOR PATRICK 6 84 635
    30 NICK GAZIVODA 5 147 631
    31 RICHARD NUSSBAUM 2 116 627
    32 NARSINH DESAI 4 202 626
    33 RUBIN DUKLER 3 93 584
    34 SOLOMON GOTTLIEB 7 145 578
    35 AVRAHAM TARSHISH 6 25 576
    36 GETZ OBSTFELD 5 163 552
    37 NAZILA BARDI 7 42 544
    38 SETH A MILLER 2 45 542
    39 UZY STEIN 2 49 538
    40 RICHARD LIRIANO 3 152 535
    41 DOUGLAS ROSENBERG 3 80 533
    42 DEODAT LOWTAN 15 85 529
    43 THOMAS STEINER 2 145 529
    44 JOSEPH TEICHMAN 4 167 526
    45 ARI FRIEDMAN 12 62 522
    46 STEVEN E BREITMAN 1 72 517
    47 JOSEPH COOK 1 24 485
    48 ROBERT RAPHAEL 5 134 476
    49 JACOB GOLD 4 28 475
    50 JASON M GREEN 5 107 475
    51 NASIR SASOUNESS 4 60 473
    52 ROBERT KASZOVITZ 2 110 462
    53 RON NAHUM 6 58 458
    54 KAMRAN HAKIM 4 56 455
    55 ROBERT VILLATTA 5 148 448
    56 ROBERT KAYDANIAN 8 79 444
    57 RONALD J SWARTZ 4 120 442
    58 CHERYL IGHODARO 12 77 439
    59 KOBI ZAMIR 4 165 434
    60 BASHKIM CELAJ 3 134 432
    61 JAY DEUTCHMAN 2 22 424
    62 MORDECHAI G PILLER 6 106 421
    63 JOHN K ZI 3 42 418
    64 SARUHAN CAPIN 5 41 416
    65 JAIR GUTIERREZ 8 64 414
    66 ZALMEN WAGSCHAL 9 64 414
    67 MOSHE MEHLMAN 2 34 411
    68 IRIS NIEVES 1 92 409
    69 CHAIM GOLDBERGER 6 41 403
    70 ELAINE M GORLECHEN 7 64 402
    71 MALINA NEALIS 5 45 400
    72 DAVID GREEN 4 107 399
    73 HENRY CAMUSO 6 64 396
    74 DAVID SIEGEL 3 183 395
    75 BARRY HERS 3 144 393
    76 JOSEPH JEMAL 6 57 393
    78 ROBERT FARHADIAN 6 76 388
    79 ZAHAVA KADOSH 2 99 388
    80 RICHARD LAGANA 5 74 382
    81 FELICIA COLON 11 62 381
    82 ABE GREEN 7 39 375
    83 LAURENCE GLUCK 2 137 375
    84 JOEL ROLNITZKY 3 11 370
    85 BITA SASSOUNI 7 79 369
    86 HILLEL WEINBERGER 7 71 369
    87 STEVEN KATZ 6 43 369
    88 CHARLES ALPERT 2 79 364
    89 ROBERT D GOJCAJ 2 105 364
    90 JEAN SAINT-CYR 3 100 360
    91 DAVID SUTTON 1 49 359
    92 ABE PETERS 3 76 354
    93 ALFRED SAYEGH 3 105 353
    94 RICH LAUBSCH 1 37 353
    95 JASON KORN 3 104 350
    96 AMANDA REYES 4 61 346
    97 MENDEL GOLD 7 47 344
    98 EPHRAIM LANDAU 2 101 339
    99 JOSEPH EMILE 3 67 338
    100 DAVID BOWEN 8 53 336

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    The Q's band Babe the blue OX plays early enough on a Monday for you to get a good night's sleep, but late enough that you must make it a date night. When was the last time you went to the Lower East Side for dinner and some gender-parity rock-n-roll? Playing with ol' pals from bands Lotion and Dambuilders in their new incarnations.

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    Must viewing, for those who think the Republic is at its breaking point. Perhaps this election is a sign of powerful movements to come?

    When you strip away the parts of Trump that seem so cartoonish, you're left with the notion that this nation has always been, and may always be, the byproduct of tensions between revolution on the right and revolution on the left. The slow trudge towards a progressive politics may be frustrating, but the question it better to allow the free flow of ideas, no matter how painful or hurtful, or to work out our difference with bloody warfare in the streets? Hilary Clinton is in many ways a perfect embodiment of a bloodless civil war. On November 9, as the Donald announces his new venture into identity TV, and anti-Oprah channel, we will realize that we HAD to live through this in order to see ourselves more clearly. Really. It's actually a good thing. Much worse is the sublimation of the American id, only to emerge powerful and monstrous when we're at our weakest. Think about it...had Trump come on the scene at the nadir of 2008, and Hillary had won the primary? That might have been much, much worse.

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    Can't say enough for the local precinct-sponsored Trick or Treat route. If you're new, or if your kids just got old enough, come on out. Truly a highlight of the year, for all ages. And if you live ON the route, I'm so sorry you have to buy so much candy. Just consider it your contribution to the cause of Sugar Equality.

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  • 10/25/16--05:56: Poppin' Up Like Prairie Dogs
  • Someone noted the construction fence around the beloved BP station, one of the last of its kind (the triangle design where you're pretty much encouraged to make your own entrance and exit.) Per some sleuthing from neighborhood eagle-eyes, it appears they're merely replacing the tanks below the surface or some such. And I was hoping for a drive-thru Hardee's.

    And for kix, the Q is obliged to share random photos of stuff going up in the neighborhood, with a recent update on the Ballgreen building on Lenox. For those of us on the South Side, the Lenox/Bedford/Nostrand/Clarkson corridors are absolutely stunning examples of the building boom, while the protected "historic" areas on the north of Lefferts remain, understandably, largely untouched.. Head north of Empire, or east of Rogers however, and you'll see more than a dozen tear-downs and build-ups. What with that and 626 Flatbush, the new Lincoln Road building at the Q/B/S (location location location!) and the new building on Parkside next to 123 on the Park, you've got yourself a whole new neighborhood's worth of people. Again, location. As with the tens of thousands before us, the Park beckons.

    Surely you've heard of Blueballs? The Ballgreen complex suggests another condition, or perhaps, as is often the case, it's an amalgam of names, such as a Mr. Ball and a Mr. Green. We may never know.

    From YIMBY's on-the-ball Rebbecca come these pictures and Ballgreen update. A mere sampling of the more than 100 projects within a subway station from you.

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    The Q is kinda resigned to the fact that there's nothing to not-much that can be done at this point. It's become a spectator sport. The number of market rate units coming on line is absolutely staggering, particularly given the neighborhod the Q moved to a dozen years ago. At that time, 626 was a parking lot. 123 on the Park was a shuttered old Hospital covered in graffiti. Some blocks, like mine, looked a lot nicer than now, before the sell-off and vacant lots. With the tear-downs you have to root for something, anything, taking the place of garbage strewn "camping" sites. But whatevs. Development happens on someone else's time, unless you do something about it like, I dunno, plan.

    Checking in with Jacob's development map for the first time in a bit, it's helpful to remember that in 2003, NONE of these projects were happening. None, at least that I recall. At the time there was TALK of a building boom, but it was just rumors. K-dog, the ol' beloved coffee shoppe opened on Lincoln, and suddenly there was talk of a neighborhood sea-change. A group formed to encourage businesses to update and sell to the gentrifiers, though of course, it was not put in those terms. It seems quaint now, And now will seem quaint in a few short months, quainter still by 2020. There is no turning back; the time for planning is, I'm afraid, quite over.

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    The Q's so sorry to report that newcomer eatery Street Sweeper suffered a fire that's set it back something fierce. It was a welcome addition to the Rogers corridor, and at least for a short time, will be sorely missed.

    From their Facebook posting comes this eloquent heartbreaker:

    Late last night there was a fire at the Sweeper. It happened after closing, no one was in the restaurant and no one was hurt. The extent of the structural damage though, was, to say the least, significant. Now comes the nitty-gritty of insurance, contractors and other bureaucracy…. 

    We want to thank you, PLG- in particular that core group of cheerleaders and supporters who have seen us through and watched us grow thus far. Sometimes life deals you a bad hand but, young as we are, we’ve developed pretty formidable poker faces. It has been an incredible and motivating experience to watch, and actually be a part of, a community that is so steadfast and united in it’s effort to engineer gentrification by and for it’s own members. We hope you never take for granted that this place, this very small patch of a very big borough that is very quickly changing almost before our eyes- this neighborhood is unique in the ways in which it cultivates and encourages the aspirations of the Everyman.
    We will be sure to keep you all updated as to the future of StreetSweeper. But whether or not you see us around again, Moussa, Patrick, and Mike will be OK, and we know that all of you will do the same.
    Stay tuned.
    “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.’ ”
    -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    To those who've wondered about the name, now you know. Good luck, Moussa, Patrick, Mike et al.

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  • 10/27/16--11:21: Sheesh! It's Ix!
  • New coffee shoppe y'all - Guatemalan style. Learn to pronounce it; learn to love it. Cafe Ix. That's right, pronounced Eesh. That's Mayan for jaguar. Read the deets from Rachel at DNA:
    Cafe Ix

    Cafe Ix, named for the jaguar in the Mayan calendar, is set to open within days, its owners said, taking over the spot recently vacated by Tip of the Tongue at 43 Lincoln Rd. And, yes, partners Brenda of next door taqueria El Patron and her cousin Jorge Cardenas, seated, and ready to serve it up hot. Like, by this weekend maybe.

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    Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with, the classiest actually printed neighborhood newspaper around.

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    Down the Q's way, the Flabenue becomes way cleaner. The streets are regularly swept and bagged by employees of the Flatbush Avenue BID. There are also a ton of "taxpayers," those low-rise buildings that are commercial only, paying the bills for landlords but not much more. There are also a stunning number of three-story apartment buildings, over stores, that are vacant, some gutted some filled with storage. Painted fake windows adorn one - a nod to the bombed out looking buildings of northern Manhattan and the Bronx of yesteryear. When the Q first moved to NYC, you'd see those buildings out the windows of the trains as you headed north. Folks forget. You could buy those buildings for a song. An album cut, not even a chart-topper.

    It's also easy to assume that the move "back" to the cities by the middle and upper-middle classes (the super rich always had townhouses or pied a terres in the Big Apple) was the result of trends alone, and the growing-up of a fly-over crowd that grew up on Free To Be You and Me and Sesame Street. But that accounts for a mere fraction of the truth. Wealthier (and mostly whiter) folks have moved to the City(s) because jobs are once-again plentiful and the salaries decent or high. The urban "pioneers" from the '60s and '70s and '80s made it feel less uncomfortable for liberal young people to rent or buy, those still worried about crime and the appearance of downward mobility. The truth is, very few non-black-non-poor Americans want to live in poor-black neighborhoods. In my experience, not a lot of well-educated black folks want to live in poor-black neighborhoods either, but enough remained in Bed-Stuy and elsewhere that parts of Central Brooklyn never fell into utter ghetto-ness. When the Q used to drive the borough for kicks in his Mazda GLC in the late '80s, I often marveled at the beautiful homes and house-pride and neighborhood vibe of places the media would have told me not to visit. The Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue types moved in when they felt they had the okay from their peers, and when they could find a cool restaurant and bar and coffee shop nearby. It's not rocket science. A nice-paying or soul-fulfilling job doesn't hurt. Those, and a zillion creative gigs, are plentiful in the post-crash decade. A waiter or bartender can make decent cash money in this economy. Don't worry; it won't last forever. Perhaps we'd be advised to enjoy it while we can? I recall three distinct periods of downturn that made even the white-professionals shiver. Of course, the downturns hit the lower earners the hardest. Especially those without successful boomer parents to fall back on. But stress is stress, and we've seen our share of financial stress hit every stratum but the top. Actually, the one-percent are capable of money stress too. Think Bernie Madoff and the near utter financial collapse. We were really, really close.

    Back here. Owners of Flabenue taxpayers and under-performing buildings have a choice to make. Will this be the time to sell to developers? Lots of current landlords haven't the background to develop sites themselves. But everyone has their price. The prices now are undeniably attractive. And so you can start to imagine these:

    That's 850 Flatbush. It will soon be an 8 story mixed use building, and 8 stories will seem pretty high compared to current. All along Flatbush one can imagine 8-10 stories - more if you can cobble together the land. As you look north on Flatbush you can go higher with the R7-1 that comes with a "commercial overlay," which allows retail along the sidewalks. It's not the worst thing in the world of course. More apartments, newer buildings, perhaps even better facilities for businesses. But Flatbush will undoubtedly change in major ways that will make it unrecognizable a decade or two from now.

    And no, there is no reason to expect that any new housing will be affordable. Except of course the all-affordable-stabilized building going up over the current Caton Market. A building, it must be noted, that some have already scoffed at. Just why folks aren't jumping for joy, given the housing shortage on the low end, I will never fully understand. The public's will to build new affordable housing has hit a will-wall. When people realize it might somehow affect them personally, they recoil. And we are.

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