The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Clarkson Hood Love

Angel and Carlito outdid themselves. Over six hours of our block party, they transformed a dismal untended plywood barricade on a wildly overgrown vacant lot into a mural dedicated to the people of our block. Clarkson Hood Love indeed.


More Clarkson Hood Love below:
DJ Milk Money shows a young helper how to scratch, digital style

Melvina always leads the kids of 60 Clarkson in old-school games
Hanging out and playing on a traffic-less street

Strong showing from the karate klub

Janice Thomas (no relation), a force on the block for 30 years
Thanks to her and a collection plate, no one goes hungry
We think we finally figured out who's lived the longest on the block. Til recently it was "that Jewish lady," but now it appears that Irene Gonzales, who moved to 49 Clarkson in 1972 is leading the pack. Her twin sons Randy & Sandy are perhaps the hardest working handymen I've ever seen. They put their heart into every kind of job you can imagine, and always seem to be rushing from one gig to another. Like a few other folks on the block they look tough walking down the street, but turn out to be sweet as pie and always willing to lend a hand or chew the fat.

I may not be a religious guy, but today I'm feeling blessed to be living the Sesame Street of my dreams. I swear I came to NYC for days like these, and I know for a fact my young girls will never forget these fun-filled summer afternoons, surprises aplenty. All the better, my oldest (6) rode her bike by herself today for the very first time. On the street, the closed down street. It took my breath away to see her riding off in front, and away, from me. Now I know why parents bring that moment up when talking about their kids, even long after they're grown. It was the day I knew for sure that one day she would be leaving me.

And that, my friends, is my number one job. To prepare her for that day.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Shooting at Ali's Roti

D. Iudici for Daily News

A passer-by just noted a murder at Ali's, the Hookah bar and roti shoppe. Any word? Glass shattered, tons of cops and dudes in suits.

Here's the Daily News on it. Four wounded, one dead. Ugh.

From Vinnie at the 71st:

Today at approximately 3AM shots were fired inside of 589 Flatbush Ave. Three victims were shot. One male was shot numerous times in his head and body and was pronounced DOA at the scene. A second male was grazed. The other victim was female and was shot in her stomach. Both these victims are in stable condition. Anyone with information please call the 71 Precinct Detective Unit at 718-735-0501.

And further from the Daily News:

A dispute turned deadly when a man opened fire at a Brooklyn bar early Friday, killing his adversary and wounding three partygoers with stray bullets, officials said. The shooter was sitting calmly inside the Buda Hookah Lounge, a bar on Flatbush Ave. in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, before getting into an argument with his 27-year-old victim, cops said.

The killer whipped out a gun and shot the victim, whose name was not immediately released, in the head and midsection about 2:55 a.m., cops said.
The gunman fell to the ground as he fired, leaped back to his feet and fired wildly as he scrambled out of the lounge, packed with some 70 people for “Ladies Thursday.”

“I was standing outside letting people in and I heard one of the shots fly by my head,” said bar security guard James Cruz. “Everyone just started running. They were trying to get out any way they could, running out the front, back, side — however they could get out.” As customers fled, the victim lay dying. “I saw a guy lying between two tables,” said worker Sean Johnson. “His friend was standing over him saying, ‘Please don't die. Hang on. Don't die. Don't die!’”
The victim was rushed to Kings County Hospital, where he died 35 minutes later. He was a regular at the bar, employees said.

"I saw him when they wheeled him out,” Cruz said. “He was wearing all white, a white shirt and pants, but he was covered in blood. His eyes were open and rolled back into his beard. You could hear some breathing, like those very last gasps of air coming out his body.” Three other people hit by stray bullets were taken to Kings County Hospital, police said.

The Old Gray Lady Speaks - 60 Clarkson

pic by Sam Hodgson

The Q is feeling good to day, that the Paper of Record's Vivian Yee has done a big piece on the implications and injustices of 60 Clarkson, my troubled neighbor. On the eve of our annual block party, when dozens of homeless children will hopefully be frolicking up and down the block and eating well for once, maybe grabbing some of the donated books or dancing to DJ Milk Money or a live band, we can only hope that the City can get this issue sorted out. In fact, just last night, I learned from CB9 District Manager Pearl Miles about a new housing subsidy program that can keep folks who have fallen behind on rent from becoming homeless in the first place. It used to be called Advantage, but it disappeared in a flash of legislative ineptitude. Here's to a brighter future, rather than the dog eat tail story inherent in the 60 Clarkson battle.

But if you live in the neighborhood, or anywhere in the fast-changing City, this one is a must-read:


And lest you doubt that Barry Hers is a class A scumbag, his assertion that he could get three times the rent he gets from the City, his chunk of which is $2300 a month? This is what he said when the City tried to cut it from $2300 to $2000 God save his soul:

 “I said, my rent, I’m not getting high rent,” Mr. Hers recalled in the interview. “People in this area are paying two and a half or three times that. If I took a cut, how would I be able to live?”

Shut up. Just shut up, Barry.  Just shut the f$%@ up already.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Soulful Dining On Nostrand

Nicole Thomas, Tyrell Turner and Dina Anderson - at your service

The Q might as well change his name to Nostrandamus. As in, I'm predicting more and more fabulous choices for dining and shopping along The Nose, as I like to call it, starting today.

Tonight I joined some cohorts on the Community Board for dinner at Soulful Bistro, a 4-month old eatery just north of Empire a couple blocks. Like it's name implies, soul food is definitely in the house, but the menus definitely more than you'd expect from a Southern restauranteur, who happens to be a dazzling lady from Tennessee named Dina Anderson. She's added her own family recipes, even thrown in some West Indian fare. The Q sampled catfish, ribs, macaroni and cheese, yams and chicken (it was a buffet for this special occasion, though normally you'd be doing bistro style, so no I didn't go all Orson Welles on the place). Killer iced tea. Nice small dining room, a bar that'll be open soon (byob for now) and the kind of sweet unassuming charm that would make this place the talk of the town if your town was a wee bit smaller than, say, NYC.

Along with the outstanding Food Sermon (5 stars on Yelp after 32 reviews!) just down the block on Rogers, there's some serious good eats happening north of Empire. Will East Lefferts keep up? Well, Taste of Brooklyn, also on Rogers but below the Mason Dixon seems to be packin' 'em in. Stick to the Q and he'll do the gorging so you don't have to. Or feel free to alert us to your own favorites that I've yet to mention.

Striking Fear Into the Deathstar

Did you read this? Streetsblog reports that DOT is afraid of Brooklyn Community Boards reactions and tailors bike lane proposals to suit each's temperature. From the below, you'll read my favorite line "have you read any coverage of CB9? They are literally disintegrating over gentrification." 

Look, I'm the incoming CB9 Transportation chair. If you don't like common sense proposals to keep traffic moving AND keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe...well, let's just say that you and I will have to agree to disagree? Come voice your thoughts, third Wednesday of every month at CB9 headquarters. But I don't want to hear any of this crap about how the city's being taken over by the "terrorists at Transportation Alternatives," as was recently shouted in a CB9 meeting. Terrorists? Wow. Hate to think what you're feeling is on ISIS.

Oh, and for a larf, check this out. I got the inside scoop today from an inside source on what happens each time Alicia Boyd gets hauled into the precinct. Smiles and hugs. That's right. She gets all quiet and sweet and tells 'em it's all an act, not to take it personally. Funny, she was never so backpedally with me or any of the other folks she hurled insults at! Not that you and I didn't suspect, but it was nice to get confirmation that her fits are full of merde. Problem is, now that she's started to get violent in order to get some good video, the cops aren't so warm to her tactics. The hugs aren't being returned anymore. 

Back to the article from Streetsblog on DOT:
Community Board 9 has a mixed record on bike lanes — its members pushed DOT to add them to an Empire Boulevard road diet in 2009, yet weren’t able to muster enough votes last year to support a road diet with bike lanes on Franklin Avenue.
On both Kingston and Brooklyn, DOT proposed keeping two motor vehicle lanes on the southernmost blocks near Kings County Hospital and going down to one lane north of Lefferts Avenue. Though there is plenty of room for bike lanes in CB 9, the plan doesn’t include them. Instead, parking lanes on both sides of the street would be enlarged to up to 13 feet wide [PDF].
Why didn’t DOT propose extending the bike lanes south into CB 9? I asked DOT Deputy Commissioner Ryan Russo after a press conference this morning. “There’s differences in widths and traffic flow, and those sorts of things,” he said.
Later, he cited rapid neighborhood change as a factor. “Have you read any coverage of CB 9? They are literally disintegrating because of gentrification. Literally disintegrating,” Russo said, referring to rancor over a rezoning study for Empire Boulevard.
Trouble is, ditching the bike lanes didn’t help DOT get CB 9’s support. Although its transportation committee backed the proposal in June [PDF], the full board voted it down later that month, DOT says.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Gamechangers on Nostrand

What, huh? Daily goods from farmers plus coffee and curated edibles? On Nostrand at Hawthorne? For the fresh eggs and chicken alone I'd sell my soul. I love egg salad. I love chicken salad. I wonder which came first?

You've GOT to have heard about it by now, and maybe you're pinching yourself. Killer coffee and tea, Balthazaar pastries, fresh sandwiches, a light and airy cafe, curated specialty thangs, and this is the part that kills me - freshly delivered farm stuff from the owner's family farm Upstate. Say what? This must be Cobble Gardens Greene, no?

Actually, it's the corner of Hawthorne and Nostrand. It's called the Starliner Cafe & Market and I'll be damned, it's even open now for lotsa said stuff and more coming. So what I'm saying is...hustle over and share your thoughts here. Or hustle over and forget the thoughts. Just enjoy. Because this place is going to get found out, and once the world finds out about it, well, you won't be among the first to know anymore now will you? Btw, that's Isaac and Gail Peachin from the left, proud mom and formerly .com son, who apparently survived Jeff Bezos to tell the tale and...start a cool business near YOU dear reader. Right on.

And as if that weren't enough, any day now Desserts by Michael Allen is gonna open up on Nostrand as well, just north of Rutland. From what the Q hears, this guy is some sort of Chairman of Chocolate, and I for one can't wait to sample his stash. IM Pastry too a few doors up? I mean dang, Nostrand. What the HELL is going on?

and of course Tiffany & Jo-Laine at IM:

Landmark or Pockmark? Meeting September 16

Takes lots and lots of work. But if you're in it for the long haul, there's always landmarking. Since South Crown Heights is just north of "the border," words to the wise:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Little Bit About A Lot Of Things

Not much to say about that picture, really. A few years back the big talk was of the house that had been knocked down at the end of the townhouses, and the modern condo building that went up at the north end of this lovely set of parkside limestones. Owners rallied and created a small landmark district to protect this row as a result - "Ocean on the Park" they call it. No one could have foreseen the behemoth coming behind. What's done is done. Can't say this picture makes me very happy, though the six story modern condo building has become part of the landscape and I hardly think on it anymore. Though have you noticed the outside walls are already warped and cracking? Not great construction, but no one expected more.

The new apartment building on Lincoln near the train station is finally coming along. Do you remember the building there before? So easy to forget. I think we'll all be glad to have the sidewalk back again. But it's this view below, from the Flatbush side, that really blows my mind. How the hell did that tree survive? It's hilarious really. And awesome. That tree deserves its own address, or at least a name. I'm calling it Mendous. Great name for a tree.

 In my extra-humble opinion, this building is just about the limit to how high you should be able to go, if you're going to add apartments to the area during a housing shortage. I'd prefer six stories, but who am I but that annoying guy on the Community Board who begs for sanity. And as we've already seen, a-partments a-plenty are being added anyhow and anyway all over the place - more than 30 projects and counting. I just wish we could force developers to build at least 25% affordable units. The chance may never come again. It seemed such a no-brainer, and then...let it go Q. Make like Elsa and Let It Go.

Right up there next to the train station I see that the Garden Deli has closed. Which despite its proximity to the Botanic Garden, the name was hardly what one has come to expect from a business with the name "garden" in it. There were usually a couple bananas and some onions. The most gardeny thing in there was probably the watermelon Jolly Ranchers, which I'll admit to having "picked" a time or too. "Pick Your Own" Watermelons. You know this spot is going to be a wine store, yes? I wrote about that ages ago and I'm too lazy to link to it. Wine store. Yep. Wine Store.

And lastly...

This week is the Clarkson from Flat to Bed Block Party. It's total chaos as usual, and I love it. Will there be bouncies? Maybe. There's gonna be a band, or not. I think so. DJ Milk Money is in the house, or rather, On the Street. Popcorn. Lots of grilling. Maybe some new and/or old goods sold. Kids everywhere. All my neighbors are excited. You just say the word block party and eyes light up. We've been trying to identify the longest living resident of the block. People keep telling me "it's that Jewish lady I forget her name" but apparently she died like over a decade ago and it didn't bother to tell anyone. Seemed she'd been in 60 Clarkson since it'd been built like 100 years ago. 60 Clarkson was "where the rich folks lived" according to Randy and Sandy, twin sons of Irene Gonzales, who, it turns out, is the ACTUAL longest living resident, going back to 1967. Or something like that. Hard figures are hard to come by. But it's all good.

Saturday. August 29. Come by and say hey.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cut Lola Cut

The Q's got two young daughters. Little Miss Clarkson Flatbed Jr. is 6; Little Miss Clarkson Flatbed, III is 3. They need haircuts fairly regularly, and they have to be nice. And not too expensive please. So for longer than not, we went to Lulu's over on Fifth Ave. It's kinda the Shake Shack for kids haircuts - seems like a great idea going in but you always feel unspeakably humiliated walking out. Especially when you're held hostage for a toy. Or ice cream. Or both. Because Lulu's and Shake Shack are within waddling distance of each other.

So on the advice of a friend, we tried Lola. Not Lola who has the Roller Skating parties at Lakeside. Lola the hair stylist, who just opened her first brick & mortar on Nostrand. Ironically, Style Lola actually does Roller Lola's hair. LOL, Lolas!
No, No. Not this Lola.

THIS is the right Lola, circa 2012. Is that a styling, or brain surgery? Looks serious.
So the Q takes the Little Misses over to 1092 Nostrand and settles in. Lola Lorraine is super welcoming, and I can see we'll be in good hands. The kids take a shine to her immediately. It's a real salon, and unlike the 15-minute hatchet-job assembly line of Lulu's, you can see that Lola means to take her time. I take a deep breath, and try to relax. This is most assuredly NOT a Barbershop, like Nelson's or Dr. Cuts where I get my the lox snipped off my bagel for $15 plus tip. And there's trip hop happening on the hi-fi. Instrumental, maybe even Boards of Canada. It sounds nice in here, with the air conditioning and mirrors and my two darling sweetlings entranced by the actor getting her hair did a strong red.

Lola's cool, she's fun, she's talented, she looks a bit like Frances McDormand, and she's covered in body art. She's still crushed out on the band Ministry and Madonna and had a Goth phase, and she can reminisce fondly on the '90s. She might, in fact, be your sister or ex-girlfriend, were you born to a certain X Generation somewhere in regular-old America. Jersey maybe. Or Massachusetts. Or Arizona. Or Portland, all places she lived. She's a colorist. She styles all kinds of hair, and even gave my daughter some gold extensions. Sold me on them, actually. My daughter's eyes suggested those little bands of hair might as well have been REAL gold. It was like she had been living Plato's Cave until now, and suddenly the world revealed to her its glorious possibilities in all their multi-colored tressal glory. This will be, if I may foretell, a lifelong hair affair. I'm not being sexist; guys get it too, though not so often, especially for hetro dudes. I had hair down to my ass when my band would play the Satyricon in Portland (maybe I spilled a beer on Lola at some point?) and I was proud of my curls and sweaty faux-fro. But it was all to fit the suit, and I never really liked taking care of it, nor did I enjoy wheeling around to catch myself in a Motel 6 mirror. I was relieved when I went legit and cut it all off. Not relieved about the legit part, that sucked. The hair was, for me, the best part about getting a real job.

Lola's lovely sidekick is Aisha Carter. You can call her just Carter; that seems to be her nom de plumage. She too was attractive and confident, and had Lola not been there that particular day I think we'd have done just fine. (For the uninitiated, as I was til just recently, Aisha was the name of one of Mohamed's wives, and a particularly young one at that. I shall reserve judgment out of deference to the Messenger, lest a fatwa and its reward be placed upon my head. Actually, I believe Alicia Boyd has already taken one out, so what's another fatwa between neighbors? You can read about the wives yourself, but be discreet! I didn't say a word. Did you know that Fatwa is an acronym? It stands for Fat White American. Don't ask me how I know.) 

So here we were, and what we got in terms of a French Bob and a chic trim with a couple streaks was downright lovely. Not over the top expensive either. My girls had a ball. We were there over an hour (guys, it's not gonna be Shake Shack In-and-Out). But the conversation was fun, the music pleasant, and all in all I was glad to have gone and will be happy to return. She does men's hair too, but she seemed pretty bent on recommending a gentleman named Massive who cuts at a shop right next to hers. I imagine me going for a fade at Massive's while the Little Misses submit to Lola's magic scissors then we'd meet up after for an IM Pastry. FYI Lola's a big fan of Culpeppers chicken, which if you haven't tried, you must before Labor Day or we'll have to beat you like the steel pans that you are. Seriously good food. I like the fish too.

Here's a bit of colorist poetry that Lola penned on a website I came across. She clearly takes her art quite seriously:

Luminosity is what makes Color the most beautiful compliment to hair.
When hair shines, reflecting a light-show of rich, subtly shifting
hues, it is the most beautiful natural fiber in existence. More
stunning than fine silks. Like butterfly wings or peacock feathers, it
literally glows. Picture a stunning blonde on a grey winter sidewalk
in NYC. Everyone is dressed in black and other drab tones; heavy wools
and tweeds, gloves and hats…  She is a luminous pearl in a frozen,
dark sea and people are literally startled when they see her, like
deer caught in headlights… Captivated! Amidst the bleak cityscape, she
is her own light source.  I have seen men look up and involuntarily
gasp, caught in a moment of surprise, when women like this walk by.
And don’t think it’s NOT the hair! Trust me, if the same woman walked
by in a cap, nobody would have the same response.

Hair color has the ability to irridesce, because both the pigments and
the hair itself have a transluscent quality. Pigments can be layered,
and warm and cool tones even juxtaposed. The fact that the artistic
medium is so versatile and unique is what I love most about Hair
Color. What’s better than a gorgeous, natural light-show with
enhancements? Our cosmopolitan world is all about enhancements. The
limitless possibilities of expression and change. Everyone who wears
Color and Fashion is a unique muse with special desires.

Single process doesn’t always have to be ALL one color. What makes a
flame flicker and leap alive to the eye of the beholder? What makes a
fiery redhead so incredibly HOT? It’s the variation of shimmering
tones, blending multi-facets. Sectioning techniques can be used to
apply multiple, complimentary formulas, giving hair an iridescent
quality as the style moves. Varying shades shift.  Autumn’s pallet
allures with gold, copper, red-copper, crimson and red-violet shades.
Even the cool power of pewter, platinum and cobalt may find  fierce,
glamorous muses this coming winter!
 I leave you with the logo and the website.

Good Vibes for Parkside Playground - This Thursday

Come out on Thursday for the Back to School Barbecue hosted by the 71st Precinct Explorers. This is the sort of stuff that can make a big difference in Cop/Community relations, and I'll be there to meet some young'uns and eat some flesh. The Parkside Playground is ground zero for tapping positive energy, if we make it so. Just bring out the kids to play and make a show of support! Or bring your ball, if you got game. And if you don't, then the Q'll play you for money.

I know the graphics leave something to be desired, but don't let the incredibly hard to read fonts dissuade you. If you live in spittin' distance, please come.