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  • 11/01/13--18:04: On Nabes, Names and Nuance
  • So the Q has a confession to make. He's been cheating on Lefferts, almost daily, as each morning he mounts 4-year-old Little Miss Clarkson Flatbed Jr. onto his fixed gear cruiser bike (what else?) and glides up the Bedford bike lane towards Crown Heights and the school she got in for Universal Pre-K called PS705, also known as the Brooklyn Arts and Science Elementary School, or BASES, which is odd because we ride by a High School on Washington at Eastern Parkway called BASE, but 705 is a public elementary school that's actually in our district (17) and in its second year, not a charter, but the deal is it does this Dual Language thing, Tuesdays and Thursdays being all in Spanish, and we heard great things and enjoyed our tour and the principal and it's right on my way to work, so that now that I drop her off by 8:10 (are you serious?) I can get into work by 8:30 and plow through some labor before my youthful colleagues even get out of bed.

    So no, for Pre-K anyway we did not find a school within walking distance. Pre-K is all about the system-wide online lottery anyway, so a lot of it comes down to luck. I'm still hopeful for the future of the Lefferts Gardens Charter School (new principal) and even PS92 which will finally get a new principal next year and hopefully a new lease on life. (I've written about the area schools under the banner "Schools Tool" if you want to hear my whole song and dance on the topic.) This PS705 really isn't that far away, especially on the bike. The MTA version is to waddle 1/4 block to Flatbush and take the B41 up to Empire and jump on the S train. The S wasn't really part of my life until this whole school thing, and now it is and I gotta say it's a real eye-opener. Suddenly Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy feel like a part of my 'hood in a way they never did before. All the crazy shenanigans going on north of Eastern Parkway seem really dang close, and if you ride a bike it's, like, right here. At the same time, being on the Community Board has made me much more aware of the neighborhood going east even passed Kings County Hospital and Dodgertown and Wingate park and the Wingate high school with the amazing farm happening out front. And of the areas north of Empire. Streets with identities, like the absurdly fast-developing Franklin, have totally different feels south of the ridge, as I think of Eastern Parkway. It might not feel like a ridge, or plateau, if you're driving, but I assure you the bike will eagerly alert you to fact.

    Let me just break in here for a second and tell you a little pet peeve. Prospect Heights? It ends at Washington. That's it. There's a giant school called Prospect Heights High School on the SOUTH side of Eastern Parkway, which no one would dare call anything but Crown Heights. It's a Red Herring pure and simple. So don't give me that line about the High School being east of Washington and therefore P-Heights goes to Franklin or Classon or the other day someone tried to tell me Bedford. No sir. Not buying it. When I lived in Prospect Heights in the early '90s (Lincoln Place for two years and Vanderbilt for two years) there were a couple things that were perfectly clear. Crime got worse the father east you went (not that I cared that much - my place on Lincoln was next to a massive crack den and I hardly gave it a second thought, given my age, means and attitude). The other thing that I knew for certain was that everything north of Flatbush, from Grand Army Plaza to the Manhattan Bridges was a "black neighborhood." I'm not saying that because I decided it. EVERYONE told me. Including both of my landlords, who were quite surprised to have me for a tenant. People who'd lived in Brooklyn for decades told me. People would tell me of the high crime in Prospect Heights, and they weren't lying. Crack vials and screams and was all happening, but not quite so much south of good ol' Flatbush, the veritable train tracks at the time. (Seeing the movie "The Landlord" brought home the fact that now lily-white North Park Slope was pretty full-on funky back in the late '60s, full of street life, black-power, urban hippies, and cheap cheap cheap brownstones to BUY, which seemed like a strange bet at the time given the winds of razing whole blocks for Urban Renewal. But who wanted a whole house when you get a whole floor of a house for $100 a month and drop acid every other day? An old house didn't necessarily fit with the revolutionary life-style. I've often wondered if home sales took a nosedive when the counter-culture got into full swing in places where the counter-culture took hold. For a little while, at least, home ownership didn't seem quite so much the American Dream, though beneath the veneer of radicalism and socialism there were probably quite a few Yippies who secretly longed to mow a lawn. For the most part, they'd get their wish eventually.

    Fast forward a couple decades, say to 1989. Yes, there was the occasional budget-conscious whitey then, trying to look cool walking down Vanderbilt, probably smoking a cigarette to show how nonchalant he was. Not often though. Back then the fast-track gentrification was happening on the Upper West and Lower East sides (interesting how gentrification involving Latinos plays differently in the media). But by the mid to late '90s, once the barn door of Flatbush busted down, the blocks became pricier and tonier and less black in Prospect Heights. They HAD to I suppose, given the desirability that was creeping back into Brooklyn by the middle class, which lets face it in America is still largely white and uptight about race. Thankfully in Brooklyn we can face these things a little more head on, since we have to live on top of each other. But as I watched back then with an anthropologist's distance, I NEVER could have seen the Franklin Avenue bourgeois renaissance. For fun one day not long after I moved to NYC, I took the S train just to see what it was and where it went. A graffiti covered train pulls up at Prospect Park station and I take it to the end - Fulton and Franklin. I get off, trying to get my bearings by looking at my fold-up Brooklyn map. An older lady comes up to me and asks where I'm going. I say I'm just looking around and she tells me I'd better get back on that train. This is a true story. Same thing happened to me just off the G at Clinton-Washington, though the person telling me was younger and male-er and used a more menacing phrasing. I remember exactly where it was because there's a playground there that I pass by when taking a cab home from LGA, and I remember I was taunted by the teenagers on the playground. "You're in the wrong neighborhood" was the nicest thing I heard when I walked by. Of course I'm sure I looked like I just got off the boat from Crackerland, and my outfits and hair practically screamed for comment. (I always expected those instances would repeat again and again. But they rarely happen at all. Most people have more important things to do than racial catcall, though when it happens, it is quite a shock. It's usually a matter of mental illness, cheap wine, or a combination. Most folks have the good sense to keep their comments to themselves or to hushed tones. Ever seen one of those racial outbursts on a diversely packed bus or train? Especially when it's a white lunatic it's always reassuring to look and see the smiles of understanding when you lock eyes for a moment with strangers. Yes, uncomfortable as it may be, there's something oddly poetic and powerful in those moments, when some of the reserve melts away and you see that we're all a bit nervous and all ultimately dealing with these things just below the surface.

    So the long and short of it is that these days I don't really think on the race of a Brooklyn neighborhood so much, not like I used to. I go for days without thinking much on race at all, at least the surface kind. I really DO notice when I'm in a place that's all white. Vermont. Very, very, very white. Windsor Terrace. Very, very, very white. Upper East Side? Not so much, not during the day. The nannies are almost ALL black or Latino, lots are Caribbean, many many hailing from Flatbush. ("The Rich They Are Raised on the Laps of the Poor") Hope they're getting benefits and enough cash to bring home and spend in the 'hood.

    But the other thing I really, really notice now is the speed of neighborhood change, sometimes referred to as gentrification, that oft-used word with willy different interpretations, like "hipster." It's impossible not to view it through your own lenses of a) class b) education c) race d) birthplace e) occupation f) political leanings g) renter or owner h) accent i) style and j) attitude.

    Which brings me back to my mistress, nabe-wise, this Crown Heights North, which recently went through a big rezoning effort as a direct result of indigestion from neighborhood churning. They had good reason to look at zoning, as they were being tossed about willy-nilly by the swash of capitalism. As you walk and ride around the blocks in the box bounded by Bedford, Washington, Atlantic and Eastern Parkway, you can't help but notice the wild hodge-podge of newly constructed four to six story buildings, often alongside old frame houses and light industrial warehouses. Many of the blocks pre-re-zoning look positively insane. When it comes to architecture, I don't know from pretty, but I know ugly when I see it. On some blocks it's like a bizarre building bazaar, take your pick folks, we've got something for everyone! Closer to Eastern Parkway you still find lots of the grand brownstone mansions of yore...some blocks outshine the Manor by a fair bit (the neighborhood had its fair share of rich, not just middle class, back in the day). Many of these big houses became home to multiple families by the '70s/'80s; many have been since renovated to single family abodes, or single family with, say, a first-floor rental. Those are blocks are now being or have been landmarked, which of course does tons for the neighborhood's character but not a lot for affordable housing. The new zoning looks at the housing issues a bit more holistically, and its plan is certainly a blueprint for what might work south of Eastern Parkway and (gasp) Empire Boulevard as well. Sort of.

    The whole scenario is strikingly different from the Lefferts/Caton Park/Caledonian Flatbush area. With fewer huge apartment buildings, Northern Crown Heights has already and is still experiencing a major expansion in higher-income rentals and condos (the new construction) AND the typical Brownstonering wealth influx. Comparisons of Franklin Ave and Flatbush commerce are not particularly appropriate either. Franklin was on life-support just a few years ago, and the new money and energy lit it up like a light-bulb. So fast in fact that some of the first wave of new merchants are now being priced-out...just a few short years into their run.

    While the influx of "amenities" has been cheered by recently arrived Crown Heights locals aching to stay local for shopping, dining and nightlife, Lefferts has seen a much slower rate of change on the commercial strips. Density plays a part, as do demographics. For instance, a huge Caribbean middle-class continues to shop on the Flabenue. The hair suppliers and beauty salons continue to pack 'em in. Even cell phone stores and discount stores seem to stay in business despite high rents. You may not be able to find kale salads, but danged if you can't find all manner of fare from the West Indies. All in all, the Flabenue never fell off as far as Franklin. It continues to pay the rent, much to the consternation of some retail watchers.

    Speaking of which, the Q's attitude has always been contrary-wise, which is to say I continue to subconsciously, and sometimes consciously, make choices I believe to be in opposition to the mainstream. It's rooted in a jaunty pubescence and Devil's Advocate DNA. But the problem is that Brooklynites and the American zeitgeist are all doing it at the SAME time, making it very hard to make choices that run counter to the mainstream. In fact, try choosing an opposing idea, and I'll bet someone has already pickled it and is selling it at a charming shoppe along Manhattan or Myrtle or Fulton or Franklin.

    As the Q ages he laughs more at the silliness of it all, this need to choose an attitude or worldview w/condescension towards all others and stick with it. Who cares, I asks? Well, some people do, and if you're not looking closely you may miss their humanity and mistake their choices for the wrong choices and dismiss them entirely, or not even notice. Case in point...displacement. It's easy to assume that the displacement of long-residing folks in an "up-and-coming" neighborhoods is a result of simple market forces - supply and demand, stemming from the expression of a million Americans making the same contrary-wise choice at the same time - to buy real estate of the same ilk in the same places that were once shunned by the dominant culture and are now relatively cheap for those coming back. The Brownstoner movement, and the desire for new and rehabilitated housing in once-impoverished neighborhoods, has created a perverse incentive to speed the rate of change. After all, what person of considerable means with a quality baccalaureate education wants to live in "the ghetto?" Sure diversity is nice...but c'mon now, a feller needs a few goldarn amenities!

    Here the discussion breaks down into finger-pointing. Developers get called out. Whites and middle-class Blacks and Browns become usurpers. Ruffians get lumped in with honest folk. Privilege begets privilege and entitlement breeds contempt. Old resents young, young bemoans old, and new businesses take hold where others founder. The die gets cast, the cast dies, and the whole theatrical production becomes mired in labor redundancy, cancelling the final run and assuring a sequel with a new set of actors.

    And who gets off with nary a nick? Landlords of course. The single-most powerful link in the chain is the landlord who, seeing green, cheats-coerces-tricks-cons-or generally skirts the law to turn apartments protected by rent stabilization into cash cows and those folks on housing subsidies into pariah.

    Why does the Q harp on it so much? He's pissed and feels helpless to help, and keeps searching for answers. The growing organization of 626 Flatbush opponents makes me wonder if there's appetite out there to take on the real problem, not so much the developer with incentive to build, but with the landlord with the incentive to destroy.

    I'm not out to scapegoat anyone. But there are some real goats out there, and if I could I would help identify them, alert folks to their methods and bring the worst of the lot to justice. Anything less is a failure of those with power and access to wield that power with compassion. When it's too late, it's too late.

    Is Northern Crown Heights heading towards its NoCro moment? CroHiNo? NoCroHi? Or like Ft. Greene is it now getting bigger - Prospect Heights with a splash of Crown? And when does Brownsville get its day? Don't be smirking...the next stop on the IRT express is calling out to become tomorrow's BroVee or ENY, pronounced Eenie, for East New York.

    "Yeah man, got priced out of BroVee and just found a loft in Eenie. Trevor just got married and moved into the "hot" school zone. He's gone totally mainstream and living over in bourgie E-Flab. Can you believe he was a rich kid, growing up in NoCro? I always thought he was more Oz Park. But even Oz Park is getting too trendy for me."

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    The Q has written extensively about the new building going up at 626 Flatbush. It's certainly been the talk of the neighborhood lately, and a packed committee meeting at CB9 last week on the topic showed that there were still plenty of folks willing to put up a fight over the building's proposed height. The name of the group that has organized around the issue is Prospect Park East Network (PPEN). They have created an online petition you can access from their site.

    Opponents suggest a shorter building with a bigger footprint could house as many people, and that the building received State backed financing and therefore should have involved community review, despite the as-of-right zoning.

    The Q has yet to hear from proponents of the height, though the Developer makes a strong case for the need for the upper views bringing in the cash to pay for the project. However, and this is an important point I think, I've heard very few folks who don't want the project to happen at all. I'd love to entertain thoughts on both sides below. At this point, it would probably take the involvement of the new Mayor and new Borough President (de Blasio and Adams) to stop a project that is already permitted and ready to roll.

    What do you think? Official rendering and an artist's vision of what the project would look like from the park below:

    quite clearly, this is just an estimation. perhaps the developer can come up with a response?

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  • 11/05/13--03:43: Voting is Sexy

  • Let's go to the polls, shall we? While NYC tends to suffer a bit of a letdown in November on non-presidential election years, since our largely Democratic city chooses most of its winners in the primaries. However, there's enough intrigue on the ballot to make a trip to the local school worth your while. Like...

    A) You can choose NOT to vote for your Democratic nominee in any election you like. Yes, you DO have free will!

    B) Vote Sylvia Kinard for Council on the "Rent Is Too Damn High" Party Line and send Councilman Eugene the scare of his life. The Q is done with trying to unseat him with zeal, but I'm still not giving him my vote. Though I do look forward to working with whomever the voters choose. That's how it works, right? You can't be fighting a battle for four years. Six months is plenty.

    C) Choose Bill de Blah Blah Blahsio and remember you're choosing the first full-on liberal Democrat for Mayor in 20 years. And if you don't like him after four years, you could always find another billionaire to run in 2017. God knows we got enough of 'em.

    D) Vote for Tish James for Public Advocate. Tish will kick ass, no question about it. She was born for the job.

    E) Vote for Eric Adams for Borough President. How cool is it that your State Senator will now be in  Borough Hall? Eric is awesome and accessible. I trust him to listen when we have issues we need dealt with. A lot of us know him personally. This is a great and historic vote for the borough.
    F) Ballot Measures!!

    The Q loves ballot measures! Today, you get to vote NO to Casino Gambling. YES to letting geezer judges serve as long as they're able. NO to mining in the Adirondacks. YES to letting towns slide on their debt for the purpose of sewage (hey, you gotta get rid of the sewage NOW and pay later). And YES to giving veterans a civil service credit.

    I can't tell you what to do with that 2nd District Supreme Court line because I don't know any of the candidates and it's fair to say neither do you. So why are we voting for them? This seems real weird, and an opportunity for the political parties to wield undue influence in picking the candidates.

    Question: How DO you choose when you have five to pick from seven? By name? Gender? Political Party? I'm not a fan of voting for anyone with a common name who uses their middle initial. Signifies pomposity if you ask me.

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    The Q just got word that the polling place at the Flatbush Library (22 Linden) was not only not ready for business at 7am, but it wasn't ready for a two full hours after. Seems someone didn't bother to open the building.

    The incompetence is astounding. The address of the person who alerted me was from 373 Ocean.

    Outrageous. This isn't a sport or a "meetup." This is the foundation of the whole dang country, state, city and judicial system we're talking. Disenfranchising citizens should be one of the highest crimes imaginable.

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  • 11/05/13--10:11: Safety First, Kids!
  • A local daycare center is showing kids how to cross the street the Brooklyn Way! Kids in Kings County are so precocious! Adorable!

    Elizabeth C.

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    Word reached the Q that a poll worker at the Jackie Robinson school, when asked how to do the paper ballot, told our neighbor to just fill in all the circles on "the left." That would be for the Democrats, folks.

    And I thought I had to "choose" my candidates. Silly me.

    And guess what? Same thing happened to me! I doubt that many people heard that the way it sounds -- vote for the people on the left, who happen to be the Dems. One of the strange things about voting with the paper ballots is how small everything is. And I really do feel we're trained to favor things that are on the top, or to the left, when choosing. I don't know if any solid evidence exists that placement leads to higher numbers.

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    Paul G. comes through big with his own self-described "crappy" re-rendering of a "crappy" rendering of 626 Flatbush, this time with Patio Gardens left in for good measure.

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    The Q's been digging the Peppa's, (nee Danny and Peppa's) jerk chicken and provision since the day he moved to the area. My only beef on the chicken has been their smoking out the neighborhood every few days with big bad barbecues out back (they deny even doing it, which suggests they know their chickens are choking the throng). Watching the above video, you'd have no idea they do it. It's actually quite remarkable on still days when the smoke hangs over the corner of Woodruff and Parkside like a cloud. Glad I don't have the asthma. All that said, it's nice to see Gavin get some airtime. Some know how to jerk, and then there's Peppa Hussey.

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  • 11/07/13--06:04: Must to Read
  • The guys with big smiles and dapper suits have certainly taken notice. The "trades" write about us all the time. Here's a general interest piece on recent apartment developments in Lefferts, and I can think of at least a half dozen more lots that are heading that way...of course, your definition of what is YOUR neighborhood might differ, but as we know nabes grow and contract with their desirability.

    Brooklyn Eagle Piece on Lefferts Developments

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    It's true folks. The Parkside Committee has been given word that the promised Trees of Parkside will be here in time for a Thanksgiving miracle. And the committee has been busy preparing for the big day, even securing a commitment from Pioneer grocery to water the trees as they take root. Thank you Hector and his uncle!

    A note from the Parkside Flora Ministree:

    Lend Your Muscle to Parkside! Sunday, Nov. 17 at Noon So. Does anyone think that Parkside Avenue is an ideal avenue, or that the Parkside subway station is an ideal introduction to our neighborhood? No and no. But is there any plan to make them better, and can you help? Yes and yes! Let's recap: In the spring of 2012 there was a design contest, to re-imagine the block.

    Winners Announced in Parkside Prize

    In the spring of 2013, CB9 approved a final plan.

    Makeover time for Q plaza.

    And now, in fall 2013, we are breaking ground. Sometime in the next few days, the Department of Parks and Rec is telling us, the first five trees will arrive on Parkside, right where they are most sorely needed, in front of Pioneer. The folks on the Parkside Committee are working to make sure that these five trees do better than the two poor ones in front of Popeyes. They've secured a commitment from Pioneer to water the trees. They've secured 250 daffodil bulbs to plant around the trees. They've even bought the timber to build the guards that will protect these trees. But they need your help putting the daffodils in the ground, and putting the tree guards in! So come on out. Bring your muscles and your gloves. Bring your enthusiasm. Bring your kids. When: Sunday, Nov. 17 at Noon Where: Parkside @ Pioneer Supermarket Who: You, your kids, your neighbors. What: Daffodil planting, tree guard construction, general merriment.

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    Times on Loews

    Bryan Thomas

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    Now from Mike Cetera's Pro Bono Design comes this:

    What child wouldn't love to play with THOSE blocks? I love how the houses between Fenimore and Hawthorne look like pocket lighters stacked side to side. I think I see the old Monk's Trunk in there! And Charles, is that you sunbathing?

    Then the irreverent Paul G. comes back, adding some Patio Gardens:

     and the recently permitted plans for a Japanese folk art exhibit:

    I think Paul's point is well-taken. If you're going to create a drawing to show the lopsided scale of 626, you need to include Patio Gardens for reference. Though it's clear to me as I rode around the park grounds yesterday that PG is nicely placed to avoid too much sky snarl. It's not nearly as upsetting to the rurality as, say, Tivoli Gardens. Ebbets? The whole lot of them were misguided if you ask me, but they're people's homes and they exist. 626, as I like to remind people, is still to be built.

    Have they created invisible building cloaking materials yet? Seems like about time...NASA's budget has been slashed to the point NONE of us will be getting jet packs in this lifetime.

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    In a move that brings us one step closer to having a giant indoor space all our own (and by "our" I mean Community District 9). The Daily News reports that the big ol' building on Bedford near Eastern Parkway is now open for bids from developers. If it is in fact turned to a community center, a lot of City and State dollars will be needed. Since CB9 does not have paid lobbyists, we'll have to make sure as a community that we lobby for the right sort of building with the right sort of amenities. The idea of basketball courts is strong of course, but the Q would like to see holistic services for young people and young adults, in a manner consistent with what, say, The Door does. In fact, I would love to find out what The Door is up to these days, seeing as Crown Heights could be a great location for the SoHo based center. I encourage you to see the kind of organization that the Door is, and imagine the possibilities. And home for a senior center. And an arts group, with theater and computer labs and recording studios. Because it's not just the one big space; there are cool rooms all over the complex. Whooopeeee!

    Kevin P Coughlin

    And yes, Lefferts, it's super close to you! Just walk or ride up Bedford past the Ebbets houses and you'll see for yourself. What an enormous opportunity.

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  • 11/08/13--08:26: Psssst...this one's big
  • Mr. Jim Mamary, he of the Lincoln Park Tavern, has placed for review a liquor license request for 504 Flatbush, the space right next to Elite Salon and the Coop Design Studio, just north of Lincoln Road.

    The working name? DJ Oyster. Not kidding folks. Restaurant. With seats. And bar. I suspect, though I'm not 100% certain, that they will serve oysters among other things.

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    Yes ma'am. That's where the Flatbush Trees now stand. That's the corner of Flatbush and Ocean and Empire (originally Malbone Street).

    Montrose Morris, you are my heroine. I don't know how you do it, but you write one brilliant entry after another. This from Montrose on the above.

    What's crazy is that so many of the brownstones around here are older than this picture, taken in 1915. It's amazing to think if I hopped on my bicycle out of the house I'm in now as I write this (not a lot has changed about it, except the laptop on my lap) I would take a right on Flatbush and end up here. I'm having the goosepimples thinking 'bout it. Everyone who lived at the time of this now DEAD!!!!!!!

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    Old-timers will laugh that the Q never knew, but I always assumed "Patio Gardens" was a reference to little outdoor patios on each unit. Yes I thought the word "patio" was odd, since they seem to be primarily outdoor mud rooms and storage spaces, but in fact there was a Patio Theater there before it was torn down to make room for the current building. People are quick to knock it for its sub-par architecture, but I've always found it quite easy on the eyes, which shows you why I.M. Pei hasn't called me for advice for some time. It's odd all right, at least in that location, but I know folks that live there and dig it. I have it on good authority that the management company is playing fast and loose with the rules on rent stabilization, but that's par for the course these days. It's an old trick - one rent on the lease ($2,500 perhaps?) and another in reality, say $1,500 (a little rebate let's call it).

    But never mind that for now. Take a look at this gem of a photo from the late '40s early '50s of the Patio Theater, then the Q's Google screen shot of the same scene 60 years later. And I did all that without even having to get out of bed!

    The same eagle-eyed reader sent the below picture from 1922 of 590 and 582 Flatbush, across from Midwood, John J. Vanderbilt's house (on the left) and another of the Vanderbilt clan on the right. And where might 590 and 582 Flatbush sit? You guessed it. On the site of the Patio Theater and Patio Gardens. My how time flies...

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    As long as Bob's the one shooting, the Q's got no reason to duck. In fact, I'm durn well tickled to tell you 'bout his pitchers hangin' at the Tugboat, with a shindig happening this coming Thursday the 14th from 6-9 pm. They're already on display, through to two nights before Pearl Harbor Day. In a manner analogous to a writer blogging in calligraphy, he spends hours meticulously developing his creations.

    A description:

    All of the 16 X 20 prints in this show are being exhibited for the first time and are images Bob has made in the past year in Brooklyn and southern Vermont. They emphasize form and texture in details of the landscape that might otherwise be overlooked. Bob uses traditional analog techniques for his landscape photography: mechanical cameras, mainly a Rolleiflex that has been his companion since his college days, medium format black and white film, and fiber-base silver gelatin photographic paper. He’s printed them all in his own darkroom.

    You've read his wonderful comments. Now go see, and perhaps purchase, his wonderful pictures.

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  • 11/12/13--12:21: Signs of the Times
  • I was always a fan of '70s and '80s graffiti (aesthetically only of course. I would never dreeeeam of tagging something myself), so I was pleasantly surprised to see that fleabag hotel magnate Moses Fried had his gate at 205 Parkside thusly:

    It actually brings some much needed color to the block. For those who don't know the whole sordid history of 205 Parkside, here's a primer. And this. And this. And this. And...there's a bunch more. People have asked me why I don't tag my posts so it's easier to go back on various topics, to which I say I dunno, you can just search for stuff in that little box on the upper left if you want to see if I shot my mouth off about's amazing that there's so much to write about in a 10 block square radius. (Er, diameter. Should it be radius or diameter? If I mean 10 blocks in any one direction from the Q at Parkside, give or take, the radius is actually on an angle isn't it? The radius of a square would be from the center to one of the corners, I think. So maybe what I mean is 10 blocks by 10 blocks, or 100 square blocks, with the Q at Parkside at the center? Or maybe I should do a circle? But that would be hard to define. How about up to E.P., down to Church, west to the tennis bubbles, east to anything interesting.)

    So then there's the whole Bedbug Dilemma. My mom used to always say "G'night, don't let the bedbugs bite" to me as a child. I thought it was some sort of reference to a fairy tale about mythical creatures. Who knew blood-sucking mini-monsters actually do come out at night to munch on people, leaving excrement and blood in their wake? Well, some fella or gal down the street from me has apparently HAD IT UP TO HERE with the situation, and decided to advertise said nightmare thusly:

    Finally, and again on Clarkson, avenue of dreams, they're taking down the three houses bought by a developer in tandem. And they're doing it piece by piece. It's quite an astonishing process really. Here's the latest.

    One night, from just the right angle, I could see the moon clear through the front third floor window from all the ways across the street. Were I a proper photographer, it would have made for a pretty pitcher.

    To those who continue to have a hard time conceptualizing that people get displaced due to rising rents and the forces of neighborhood desirability, I recall placing flyers advertising our block association meetings on these houses. I recall counting 17 mailboxes between these three big Victorian houses. That, I can conceptualize, particularly as those people's former homes get taken apart piece by piece.

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    The first person to say SoCro gets a shillelagh to the ol' noggin!

    On the Q's  6 minute bike trip up to Community Board 9's office I often ride by the grounds of once-grand St. Ignatius Catholic Church on Rogers. Brownstoner points out that much of this open land will soon be apartments. I was just wondering the other day what a Church might do with land like much grassy knoll. Well, I guess I have my answer.

    Here's the pic and story from Brownstoner:

    Some may seek comment from the forever opining Q, but there's not much to say really. Developers are looking for anything they can find, and this was ripe for the picking. Zoning must be put on the fast track. I'll keep you apprised, as this area is part of our Community District, and to my mind, it's very much part of our neighborhood.

    In 2011 came "The Plex" at Nostrand and Sullivan.
    People were calling those developers crazy for assuming that the neighborhood was "ready." Now they're looking prescient. I rented a Zipcar from there last summer, and while the whole nabe hasn't gone upscale, there were plenty of bourgies happily residing there. And how would a Zipcar renting guy like the Q know one when he sees one? Hmmm. That reminds me I need some Seventh Generation window cleaner for my mirrors.

    Rogers, or SoRo, has always been a bit depressing, and Franklin, or SoFra downright rough. But with new businesses planned, or NeBuPla, the North Franklin boom will undoubtedly take hold south - it's all about the express IRT y'all, and heavy marketing by the powers that rent. The only thing that might stem the tide is the relative poverty of the Ebbets Houses, though proximity to low-income housing did little to stop booms in Boerum Hill and Red Hook and Clinton Hill.

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    I don't know about y'all, but I'm tickled pink that the new Select Buses are coming to, or rather through, Lefferts. Rogers and Nostrand ride like ice these days, thanks to the new B44 SBS thang happening and concurrent repairs to the streets. If you haven't gotten on an SBS bus before you're in for a treat. You just hop on. No fare reader. You pay before you play. It's like, it's's like EUROPE! There are even KGB-like spies that ride the buses just to catch fare evaders. The whole wacky production looks like this:

    Here's a key to the numbers:
    1. Pay on the streetMore than a third of all bus delays can be attributed to the time it takes passengers to board. Here they will swipe their MetroCards at street kiosks before the bus arrives.
    2. Enter at the backA new fleet of buses improve boarding time by being lower to the ground—and allowing rear-door entrance.
    3. Hold the light greenSoon after Select Bus Service launches, buses will be equipped with “signal prioritization” technology that tells upcoming traffic lights to delay turning red.
    4. Own the laneA painted lane will be reserved for buses, and cameras will photograph stray cars and trucks. But some activists—and politicians—criticize the program for not including physically separated lanes.

    If you've ridden an SBS in Manhattan then you know why I'm hyped. These buses are faster by quite a bit, and the experience of boarding a bus at any orifice without swiping a card is practically luxurious.

    But here's the question you may be asking, which I reached around and grabbed right out of the back of your head: WHY SHOULD I GIVE A DAMN ABOUT A BUS I NEVER TAKE AND HAVE NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT IN MY LIFE? Well I'll tell you why. This thing runs the length of the borough, from Cheepshead Bay (as a Chilean friend calls it) to the Williamsburg Bridge. Folks, there are times when you will WANT to go somewhere in the borough that falls along that line, or intersects with a bus or train on that line, and now you have a way to get there quickly. And check out the lines it crosses with at these always EXPRESS express stops. The A at Fulton? Hello Rockaways and JFK. The G at Lafayette? Hello Greenpoint. Hello north Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy and...drum roll. Hello Williamsburg! South Williamburg, sure, but hey there's a bunch of hip happenin' hot spots now within a slick bus ride of your home. You can go and find out just how old you are AND drop a cool Benjamin on artisanal sliders and designer brews for two. Just hop on at Clarkson or Empire on Rogers and you're golden and poorer. And they run pretty often too. Just look at the map:

    Check out the bus "bulbs." Check out the service and speed. Because the SBS 44 starts this Sunday, November 17th, and a seat is waiting with YOUR name on it.

    Oh, and yes, those were street painters out today, getting ready to rewrite the book on Flatbush Avenue driving lanes. Not a moment too soon...

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