Park Slope is Dead, God Save Park Slope!

The New Yorker recently had a story called “Park Slope is Dead,” which consists mostly of the co-owner of Southpaw, Matt Roff, bitching about how the neighborhood has changed. He is closing his 5th Avenue club Southpaw not for financial reasons but  because Park Slope isn’t what it used to be, yet somehow he neglects to mention the other thriving music venues in the neighborhood (The Bell House, Union Hall, Littlefield.)

Matt says, “My folks came (to Park Slope) in the seventies and it was rough, dude. Just bodegas and stuff, and this wave of ex-hippies buying houses for twenty thousand dollars.” He is just keepin’ it real. Except that it was his parents who were the gentrifiers, at least in the eyes of the people they were pushing out.

Park Slope has become the punchline of jokes about yuppie parents, and overprotected children on a diet of pastured free range chicken and organic kale. The common wisdom among the blogs is that that yuppie families have killed Brooklyn, or at least Park Slope. In the last few years they have forced out the minorities and are destroying the fabric of this neighborhood with their gourmet coffee and cookies, and the neighborhood is now overrun with breeders and their double-wide strollers!

This is, of course, nonsense! Sure, gentrification is going on in Park Slope, but it started in the late ’60s when the middle class were being priced out of Manhattan, and they found they could afford brownstones in the blue collar Park Slope.

The Brooklyn lifers thought the people moving in were nuts, ”I couldn’t understand why a nice couple like that would buy into a neighborhood like this,” said a long time resident when the first “pioneers” moved in in the late ’60s.

But by the early 80’s the “post-pioneers” were complaining about new interlopers moving in and driving up the price of real estate.  They had to create an “other” to blame their problems on,  “lawyers from Manhattan,” ”People don’t know their neighbors. It isn’t families coming in any more.”

Can you believe that, people were complaining that there were not ENOUGH families in Park Slope?  They even had a name for them, “DINKs,” dual income, no kids.

Of course, people who moved in the 80’s complained about the people who were moving in in the ’90s and so on.  The moral of this is unless you were neighbors of Gil Hodges, you should probably not complain about gentrification.

POST SCRIPT- I’d like to correct one misconception in the newyorker article about Park Slope not being cool anymore. It is impossible for Park Slope to not be cool anymore, because PARK SLOPE WAS NEVER COOL!  It was always a bedroom community with a few nice restaurants and bars.  It was never the “It” neighborhood that Williamsburg, Dumbo, and Brooklyn Heights were. It was always the also-ran where you moved because you weren’t cool enough to live in “Greenpoint”.

The Parking-Savant on Residential Parking Permits

Have you ever complained about how cold it was only to be rebuffed by a friend from the mid-west or upstate who would say something like, “This is nothing, 20 degrees is a warm spring day in St Paul”?  Well, when it came to finding a parking in spot in Park Slope, I was the guy from St. Paul.

After college I lived in Hoboken for a few of years, and I can say with complete honesty, finding a parking spot in Park Slope is a piece of cake compared to getting a legal spot in Hoboken.  The average search time there was 45 minutes, and that wasn’t just looking for the “dream spot” in front of your building, your search radius had to be at least 10 blocks if you realistically wanted to find a space. Circling for 90 minutes was not unusual in the Mile Square City.

I don’t bring this up to say that The Slope has it easy on the parking front, we don’t. Parking here bites.  But I mention it because of recent talk about Brooklyn getting residential parking permits.  Parking has always been bad here but this is being discussed now because people are concerned about the influx of cars to the new Barclay’s Center. With residential parking permits, local residents would pay a yearly fee, and parking spaces would be allotted as resident parking only.

It looks good on paper, but Hoboken had residential parking, and it didn’t help at all.

I’m not entirely opposed to a residential parking permits, but I doubt they will be a panacea for the parking problem in Park Slope. The truth is there are more cars than there are spots, so there is now magic bullet to fix the problem.  But since I consider myself a parking-savant, I’ll propose my ideas on what could be done, long-term and short-term, to ease the parking burden.

More to come.

[UPDATE] Pre-K FAIL- A letter to the NYC DOE

The letter many parents received from the DOE.

UPDATE: Shortly after sending the letter (below) expressing my frustration with the NYC Pre-K admissions, I was contacted by someone from the DOE who apologized and helped me find a pre-k seat for my son.  They directed me to a new CBO that had just opened in our area. We were able to visit the school and we like the program and the teacher. My son attended his first day at pre-k today, and he said he had a great day.  This experience has given me a new hope in the New York City Public schools.

To Chancellor Walcott and the Office of Early Childhood Education:

As many of my friends and family have received an excellent education from New York City public schools, I have a great deal of respect for its teachers and administrators. But after receiving my second “we are unable to offer you a placement ” letter while trying to enroll my son in a New York City public pre-kindergarten, I cannot express my dismay enough in the New York City Department of Education. We applied to the maximum 12 schools in both round one and round two, all in our district or in the adjoining one (Brooklyn district 15 and 13), and we did not receive placement in any of them. We did not put all our eggs in one basket, hoping to get into one of the more competitive schools, we applied to nearly every school in the area, 24 in all. There is nothing I would have done differently, except put any faith in the NYC Department of Education.

I attended to the information session about New York City pre-kindergarten, so I know that there are more applying students then there are seats, but here are my main complaints with the way Pre-K admissions are handled:

* The DOE says pre-K is where children “develop skills that form the foundation for reading, writing, and mathematics.” You should not tout how important pre-k for a child’s development and then not make it available to one-third of the people applying. (And please do not blame it on budget constraints, if its so important, you should offer only half day slots, but twice as many!)

* In both rejection letters you say “There are still pre-kindergarten seats available at Community-Based Organizations (CBOs).” This is either willfully ignorant or a blatant lie. There are NOT seats available at our local CBOs. Why? Because you send admission notifications so late in the year that the local CBOs are already booked, not to mention any other private pre-ks, even if one could pay the tuition. Some private pre-k schools start this week!

* You should not have a “lottery” system with weighted criteria (sibling, zone, district, borough, etc) and then not be able to explain exactly how that criteria apply to the lottery process. At the information session, I asked exactly what method and from which pool the computer picked from first, as to make an informed choice as to what schools I should consider. No one was able to give me a straight answer. “Just pick the schools that you would like your child to attend” was the answer they parroted. I listened to them and went oh for twenty-four!

* You should not cut pre-kindergarten classes to make room for kindergarten class. Are you going to start cutting kindergarten classes to make room for the extra first graders next year, and the cut first grade classes the year after that, and so on? (Maybe you are hoping an increased drop-out rate will take care of this by high school and the cuts can end there.)

In your own pre-k literature, you state: “What happens in Pre-K matters!” “Our pre-kindergarten program will help prepare your child for school success.”

The only silver lining I can take from this experience is that the New York City Department of Education is so poorly run that those statements are merely platitudes, and my child is not at a severe disadvantage.

I honestly do not know what my son will be doing this fall. I put my faith in the New York City public education system, and it has failed me, and in doing so I have failed my son.

Brooklyn Bolsheviks Are Tough SOBs

I finally caved. Seeing the positives of the Park Slope Food Coop, I decided I’d like to join. Which is easier said than done. You need to attend an orientation before you can join, and you can only register for an orientation online, but every time I went to the site, all the orientation slots were filled and I was told to keep trying.  It felt like Marxist Mean Girls! But like a good proletariat, I persisted, and eventually got a slot for 4PM August 28th. “He who does not work shall not eat!”

While preparing my notebook (made from salvaged recycled paper) to take notes at the orientation, something caught my ear on NPR.  They said hurricane Irene was going to hit New York City around 4PM August 28th! Mayor Bloomberg was telling certain neighborhoods to evacuate, and the subways were shutting down at noon on Saturday. Surely my orientation would be canceled?  I called the Food Coop just to check.  Apparently my orientation is still scheduled for 4PM this Sunday.

Maybe I can canoe home with some organic kale?

New 5 Guys on Flatbush Makes 9 Burger Joints in Park Slope

This burger craze has officially gotten ridiculous.  The Patch reports that another 5 Guys Burgers is opening on Flatbush and &th Ave.  Including the 2 McDonalds, that make 9 restaurants selling exclusively hamburgers in Park Slope, and that isn’t even counting the dozen or so of diners, grills, and restaurants that mainly sell burgers.

I guess the burger Bürgermeister’s believe that they have a few years to clog the arteries of the youth of Park Slope before they start dropping off, or their parents get wise. Mark my words, in response to this I expect a spate vegetarian restaurants opening, either that or Zocor and Lipitor stores will start popping up.

According to my calculations the next burger place should open on the corner of 7th Avenue and Berkeley. The former La Taqueria space is still for rent, I'm talking to you Bobby Flay!

9 Burger Joints…and counting
5 Guys 7th Ave, 5 Guys Flatbush, 67 Burger (opening soon), Cheeburger Cheeburger, Corner Burger, Brooklyn Flipsters, Bare Burger (opening soon), McDonalds 4th Ave, McDonalds 9th St.

How Hot was it?

It was blistering yesterday, but I was very disappointed with the dearth of topical “Its so hot” jokes. So I channeled my inner Carson…

It’s so hot… Williamsburg hipsters have started wearing “wife beaters” for non-ironic reasons.

It’s so hot… in Queens they are using Huma Abedin’s stares at Anthony Weiner as a cooling stations.

It’s so hot… the guy who suntans in just a gold lame thong is switching to a more breathable linen thong.

It’s so hot… the temperature is higher than Jorge Posada’s batting average.

It’s so hot… Greenpoint barbers haven’t been able to keep with the demand for musicians shaving off their beards

It’s so hot… Park Slope moms are going to Bikram Yoga spas to cool down

It’s so hot…Dick Wolf introduces Law & Order: Special Cooling Center.

It’s so hot… David Chang opened a frozen yogurt stand Momofroyo (but lines are so long no one can get in.)

It’s so hot… Donald Trump is actually having a GOOD hair day.

It’s so hot… Brooklyn College is now offering a degree in the binary language of moisture vaporators.

It’s so hot… Uncle Louie Gee is going public with an IPO.

It’s so hot… Steve Jobs is wearing a black turtleneck dickey.

Hiyooo!

For Rent Signs on The Shame of 7th Avenue

I just saw “For Rent” signs and a half-ass paint job on the retail shops on 2nd St.,  connected to the derelict building on 187 7th Ave.  This may be in connection with the report that CB 6 is finally trying to do something about the abandoned eyesore. This follows the space being used as for a art gallery for a couple of weeks. But my guess is that the owner, Dorthy Nash, is once again just buying time by trying to make it look like she is working on improving the wreck, but without actually doing anything.  Like when she put up the scaffolding, but did no work on the building.  Or when she put the building for sale, but at such a high price, and with crazy stipulations that no one would buy it.

I am generally of the mind that a property holder has the right to do whatever they want with their real estate, within reason.  But the Shame of 7th Avenue is not just ugly, its falling apart and someone is going to eventually get hurt when the scaffolding falls, or  plywood and broken glass falling from the windows hits someone (which has already happen once), or a wall collapses due to years of neglect.  And I don’t even want to talk about the vermin that infest that dump.

If you aren’t familiar with 187 7th Ave, its quite a story.  Its been called The House of Whimsy by the NY Times and an “ugly mess” by others.  It use to be a quirky bar called Landmark.  The Bar was known more for its collection of children’s toys and opening at random hours than it was for its libations.  It is owned by Mrs. Nash and her two daughters,  (aspiring) fashion designer/socialites“, and they have a bit of a Grey Garden-esque reputation in Brooklyn.  Depending on who you ask the building is being made into a media/art space by the owner or the sale and development of the building is being held up due to legal issues, with someone claiming to have a 100 year lease on the property.

There is no confirmations to the rumors that it will be turned into the 6th burger joint on 7th Ave.

(And for more details than you probably need about the Nashes, there is a LONG thread on Brooklynian)

And here is a little background on the building, and the whole block of buildings, designed by John Deery in 1891.

18% of Kindergarteners at PS 107 Brooklyn Will Be Twins?!

One of the lucky ones accepted to PS 107 kindergarten

UPDATE:(see below)

Everyone in Park Slope is freaking out about the kindergarten waiting list fiasco. The NY Times says that nearly 1000 more students were wait-listed this year than last year.

But the part of the NY Times story that amazed me was this quote, “(PS 107 principal) Cynthia Holton, said that among the 100 kindergarten applicants who have been accepted are nine sets of twins.”

18% of 2011 PS 107 kindergarten class will be twins!!

Either there is Clomid in the South Slope’s water supply, or Brooklyn fertility docs were working overtime in 2006.

UPDATE: NY Times City Room must have read my post, but the 18% of the entering class didn’t catch their eye in their original story.

Hunting for Spots

Interesting post on Brokelyn about  finding free parking in Brooklyn, and other apps and tools to find spots (and how to get out of parking tickets.)  Unfortunately they did not mention the awesome map on Brooklyn.com that has a Google map of Park Slope that shows which day and which side of the street has alternate site parking. Between that map (which I’ve pretty much memorized) and the Twitter @NYCASP I’m usually ready for the hunt.

I spend way to much time looking for parking, and I often consider that it is not worth having a car in the city, the convenience it offers really doesn’t equal the aggravation it causes.

But I’m a little obsessed with parking. I get a perverse thrill looking for a spot.  In addition to it being one of the few times I get some solitude, I get a real adrenaline rush when I squeeze into a spot that I know others have passed because they thought it was too small. I know there are others hunting for spots, and there are not enough empty spaces for everyone, so every edge counts.

When to look for a spot- morning or night?
I prefer evening. There is more pressure in the morning to find a spot before work, and it creates a lot of aggression from other drivers. Also I’ve found that there is less competition in the evenings, the search time is spread out over a longer period.

What is the best weekday to look for a spot?
If you are lucky to get a Friday spot, then Thursday night is the best, the largest inventory of spots are available where you wont have to move it again until after the weekend.

What is the worst weekday to look for a spot?
Monday night is terrible.  Unless you want to move your car again that week, you only have Monday spots available, and people with Tuesday-Friday spots probably aren’t moving from their space until they need to.  Mondays are brutal, expect 30 minutes minimum for find a Monday spot.

Tip 1: Know where the fire hydrants are. Don’t waste time slowing down for a non-spot. Nothing is more annoying as a guy in front of you who slows down at every pump, “Is this a spot? No.  Is this a spot? No.”  Yr killing me!

Tip 2: Know how big you car is, dont waste time trying to get in a spot you dont fit in, and NEVER pass up a space that you think is just a bit too small.   You can get into a spot that is only 6 inches longer than your car, it takes patience, but it can be done. I’ve gotten into spots with only 2 inches from the cars in front and behind me.

What is your parking technique? Do you keep circling back looking for the nearest “dream spot” hoping someone will pull out or when the “dream spot” isn’t available, cut your losses and widen the search area?

How often do you get your “dream spot”?

How long will you look for a spot before giving up and taking a spot that you’ll need to move again in a day or two?

Do you call it s spot or a space?