Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Holidays, Crown Heights!

ILFA's spending Thanksgiving on the Avenue for the first time since 2008, and on the recommendation of Sonja Sharp at DNAInfo, I took a long, pleasant stroll through the neighborhood today on my way to Gombo's Heimishe Bakery on Kingston and President. The walk was beautiful, and the bakery was packed with people picking up donuts for Hanukkah. ILFA picked out a jelly donut and a cup of coffee to warm me on my stroll down the parkway, as well as a trio to box up and bring home. I also stopped along the way for hard dough bread, which, as I learned back in 2008, makes excellent stuffing. Now it's time to get everything ready, but before I go, happy thanksgiving and happy hanukkah to all!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Local Arts: Writing Workshop, Google Glass Documentary, LaunchPad's Holiday Appeal

Some things from the inbox. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

- Local scribe April Hope (who took part in a writing workshop with ILFA way back when) has launched a pair of local writing workshops on Monday afternoons and Wednesday (that's today) evenings. Complete info below.

Home alone struggling with procrastination?  Join us for inspiration!

The Crown Heights Writing Workshop is accepting members now for two FREE 8-week workshops.
The workshop is open to all genres. Each week we will have writing prompts, and feedback will be given for previously written work.
Join us for one, or both!

Every Monday from 1-3pm LAZY IBIS CAFE, 663 Franklin Ave. (at St. Marks) Brooklyn, (Park Place Shuttle)
Every Wednesday from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. NIMBA CAFE 619 St. Johns Pl. (at Franklin Ave) Brooklyn (2/3/4/5 Train Franklin Ave./Botanic Garden)

* Workshop is free but be sure to purchase delicious beverages and snacks to support these new businesses!
Space is limited, so contact April Hope at to reserve your place.

- The documentary Project 2x1, shot in part with Google Glass, opens next Sunday, December 8, at Mister Rogers on Rogers and President. Complete info from their press release is below:


Project 2x1, a Google Glass documentary, will premiere in Brooklyn on Sunday, December 8 with a film screening, Q&A with the filmmakers, and a cultural celebration of the film’s subjects: The West Indian and Hasidic communities of Crown Heights.

The event brings to life the film’s mission of cultural appreciation and inter-community dialogue through:
  •     Live music performances
  •     Ethnic cuisine
  •     Interactive photo installation

The audience will include film subjects and members from both the Hassidic and West Indian communities. The event is free and open to the public.

The event will be hosted on Sunday, December 8th, by Mister Rogers 
231 Rogers Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

Gallery opens at 7PM
Premiere starts promptly at 8PM


Shot in part with Google Glass, Project 2x1 is a short documentary film exploring the distinct cultures of the Hasidic and West Indian communities living side by side in the 2 mile x 1 mile radius of Crown Heights.

Project 2x1 tests the limits of Google Glass to tell a truly collaborative narrative about one of New York's most diverse neighborhoods. By putting the device on as many community members as possible, the filmmakers capture life through the eyes of Crown Heights’ Caribbean and Hasidic neighbors, documenting their rituals and routines,their parallels and unique differences.


Locally, Project 2x1 strives to increase cultural awareness and inspire inter-community dialogue in the Crown Heights, Brooklyn neighborhood. Universally, the project aims to spark a movement to encourage more people to get to know their neighbors and to tell the stories of their unique neighborhoods.

Visit the film’s site here:

- Finally, the folks from LaunchPad have just sent around their holiday appeal. It's copied below for your consideration.

Dear Artists, Curators, Art Lovers, and Community Members,

This has been an amazing year of growth for LaunchPad; we received 501(c)3 status, we've hosted over 300 events, we've recruited an amazing volunteer staff, and we've launched a grant-writing initiative. We want this growth to continue while we transform LaunchPad into a totally sustainable institution that will serve our community for years to come.

And now you can help us achieve this goal by contributing to our first-ever annual fundraising initiative. This year we are aiming to collect donations from 100 individuals - even donating just $5 will count towards our goal. Help us keep growing, and you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you are one of the original funders of this important organization. Please use this link to make a donation today: Donate Now. Or you can mail your donation to the address below.

When I was asked to take over the day-to-day operations of LaunchPad on a volunteer basis, it seemed like a daunting task. But, I felt an obligation to the community to keep this space running. As a musician and curator, I know that often the most difficult part of planning any event is finding a venue. LaunchPad eliminates this headache by booking any public event that is feasible, and by providing a beautiful, well-equipped space.  The friendly LaunchPad staff are an added bonus, they're always passionate about helping in any way they can.  By letting the community dictate our programming, LaunchPad is consistently hosting some of the most unique and exciting events in Brooklyn. Every night that I'm at LaunchPad, I can't help but be blown away by the creativity and talent of this community, and it makes me so proud to be part of this organization and to volunteer so much of my time and energy to the greater goal of community arts.

LaunchPad is a unique space that provides an alternative to the bar scene. Almost any night of the week you can come into LaunchPad, pay $5 (or less), experience something creative and exciting, and interact with all sorts of interesting people who live in the surrounding neighborhoods. I like to think of it as a clubhouse for our community where everyone can hang out and share what they've been working on without any pretense. If you're like me, there's been at least a couple times when you came home tired from your day job, walked into LaunchPad, and instantly felt rejuvenated by the energy and creativity within this space. And, if you haven't had a chance to visit, I encourage you to come visit and experience this for yourself.

We've grown a lot in the past year, but we still have a lot of growing to do. Please consider making a donation to help us take the next big step in this journey.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Exit Interviews: Brooklynian's whynot_31

(This is the second in a series of Exit Interviews that ILFA is soliciting. The first can be found here.)

Sonja Sharp over at DNAInfo did a very kind piece about ILFA wrapping up on Tuesday (my own "exit interview" of sorts) and it encouraged me to get back on the horse with this whole "wrap-up" thing. One of the great joys of writing ILFA over the past several years has been the conversations that spilt out across the local blogosphere, from this blog to local sites including Nostrand ParkEpichorus, and Brooklyn Born, and from there into the posts and comment threads of bigger sites like BrownstonerCurbedDNAInfo, and Gothamist. I've enjoyed cross-postings, links, and back-and-forth banter with all of these sites (and others), but in terms of consistency, longevity, and similarity of focus on northwestern Crown Heights, I've most frequently found myself in conversation with  the good people of Brooklynian's Crown Heights and Prospect Lefferts Gardens Forum

Brooklynian's forum is a message board, of course, and thus isn't the product of a single writer or editorial vision. Nonetheless, since March of 2006, whynot_31 has provided an impressive measure of their content. ILFA's proud to average 4 or 5 posts a week, but whynot has posted over 18,000 times. For those scoring at home, that's north of six postings per day, or more than one post every three hours (if they were posted at regular intervals), for the past seven and a half years. Now that, folks, is commitment. Whynot's dog serves as his avatar, but is also an important content generator, as a good portion of whynot's reporting on the neighborhood is researched while they're out for walks.  

ILFA and whynot (who also holds the title of most-frequent-ILFA-commentor as MikeF) have just enough in common - not-so-new-ish arrivals with experience in non-profits and city services and more than a passing interest in the dynamics of neighborhood change - to engage in robust debate on everything from census statistics to documentaries. We certainly don't always agree, and we differ significantly in our general tone and style, but one of the things I enjoy about inhabiting the local blogsophere, as opposed to the giant comment threads full of trolls and ranters, is that these debates are suffused with a measure of mutual (if occasionally grudging, eye-rolling, there-you-go-again) respect. While there are plenty of people who like to shoot it out online (and we certainly do), whynot and ILFA have also conversed and collaborated in the real world, most recently on the CHCA Town Halls last spring. Thus, it was only appropriate, as I wind this thing down, to sit down and chat with whynot about the past, present, and future of Brooklynian and his take on the ongoing reinvention of Franklin Avenue.

Brooklynian started out as a blog, Daily Heights, in 2003. The readership, cultivated by the founder at Soda, Mooney's (now Sharlene's) and other local watering holes, was centered in North Park Slope and Prospect Heights, comprised of folks in their late 20s and early 30s who were, at that time, renting at the edge of gentrifying Brooklyn in the vicinity of Vanderbilt Avenue. Franklin was a similar place when ILFA started up in 2008, and whynot thinks it was comparable to Kingston Avenue today, ten years on and a mile and a half to the east. 

As Daily Heights evolved into the Brooklynian message board, it acquired a loyal following of regulars who plotted frequent happy hours on its pages. The boards also attracted local businesses: by whynot's estimate, close to 1/3 of the business owners along Vanderbilt were regular readers and commentors by 2007. "They were as nervous as we were" he recalls, and wanted to know "did we make a good decision moving here?" 

Whynot_31 wrote the first of his 18,000 postings in March of 2006, after finding $400 down the block from where someone had been shot. He asked if anyone knew what had happened to the victim; if he had died, whynot felt the money should go toward funeral expenses (the victim lived). The replies he received include personal messages from those with a professional stake in the matter. The exchange captures one element of the Brooklynian message boards that's remained constant over the past decade: discussion about crime, often watched rather carefully by law enforcement professionals (some of whom were also regulars). As whynot remembers, the 77th Precinct (which stretched, until recently, from Flatbush to Ralph Avenue) "had more important things to do" further east in Crown Heights, and "we received no police protection." This didn't so much bother the Brooklynians as galvanize them, and some regular posters served as a sort of informal neighborhood watch. As whynot remembers, "we made it easy for the police to do their job." He recounted some of these efforts recently in this thread, as what had once been a deli known for attracting violence and police raids became Gladys, on the corner of Lincoln and Franklin. 

Through the years, Brooklynian's readership has moved east with gentrification, providing both constant novelty (there's always a new bar opening somewhere) and a certain sort of consistency. When I spun one of the questions I often get (what's the role of a blog, anyway?) off to whynot, he noted that first-time readers and posters on Brooklynian are, for the most part, "starving and scared." Insofar as the Brooklynians have a role, they "make the scared feel safe" (sometimes with heavy doses of get-real sarcasm). They also provide something of a sounding board for local businesses: as whynot put it, "we tell people if they suck, but we'll give them a chance to improve" Unlike Yelpers, whynot and company often pair their online reviews with in-person chats, in an effort to express a measure of sincerity about their comments, and their willingness to come back to a place if it does, indeed, improve.

Whynot will admit that regular Brooklynians have "a bit of an edge" that puts some folks off and has led to plenty of accusations of hard-heartedness and schadenfreude, particularly when neighborhood changes have upset people. The moderators (unlike ILFA, Brooklynian moderates comments) don't tolerate too much racism or nastiness, but if the site's regulars have an angle, it's a pro-change one, for the most part. While they're not surprised that this offends some people, and while they certainly welcome posts from people with rival opinions, they're aggressive in their defense of their right to exercise their preferences as they see fit.

In terms of readership, whynot reports that Brooklynian peaked during 2007 and 2008, amassing around 500 unique visits a day and as many as 50 people actively on the boards at any one time. Today, those numbers have dropped to closer to 150 unique visits with 4 or 5 folks patrolling the comment threads. Some of this can be attributed to longtime, frequent posters moving away or otherwise disengaging, and some to the glut of new coverage of Crown Heights, which has, at this point, been thoroughly discovered by the major blogs and news outlets. It's also part of a generational shift away from the independent world of internet message boards and toward discussions on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. While Brooklynian has no plans to shut down, and whynot has no plans to stop posting, the decline prompted me to ask for a pre-emptive postmortem of sorts. What, if anything, could be learned from 18,000+ posts on Brooklynian, about the message board and about the neighborhood?

While whynot is firmly in the camp that changes in Crown Heights are not particularly special or unique (any more so than the gentrification of the Lower East Side or Williamsburg were and are) he did note that Brooklynian had been a regular reminder of the value of "interpersonal capital." The boards have attracted lots of people with particular expertise - lawyers (ADAs and public defenders alike), cops, building inspectors, council members' staff, and others - and the forum has provided an opportunity to share that knowledge and, in certain cases, to make use of it in specific ways. With respect to gentrification at large, whynot note that it's not just the individual class position of the newly-arrived that drives change, but their ability to act collectively, whether to acquire property, demand an impact zone, or support a local business. While he'd agree that some changes are a product of the relative wealth of newcomers and the choices they make as individuals, their access to education (and similar socializing experiences) confers the ability to navigate and negotiate everything from jointly-held leases to the mazes that are municipal agencies. This kind of middle-class collective action affects not just local businesses, but also city policies and service delivery.

This, incidentally, is a point that ILFA and whynot agree on: newcomers often wield great power, not just in the way they move through gentrifying spaces but on account of their ability to leverage education and expertise collectively. Where we differ, as I noted above, has been on the question of style. Both in his local work and his writing, whynot eschews moral questions beyond what is and isn't legal. He'll happily offer guides to paths he knows, and he'll direct people to those who have similar expertise, but what people do with that, or with their own knowledge, is entirely up to them. As any ILFA reader knows, I'm much more the bully-pulpit type; I've got an idea of justice that's, in a way, all my own (though I could go on about where I'm getting it from), and I've used this blog to articulate it and push for it. 

Despite these differences (or perhaps because of them), whynot and ILFA have always had plenty to talk about. One place we'll be doing some of that talking is at the 9th Annual Brooklynian Festivus gathering, which takes place on December 15th. If you'd like to meet some of the characters that haunt your browsers in the flesh, it's as good a place as any. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Community Meetings This Week: CHCA Tuesday, SOS Thursday

The Crow Hill Community Association hosts its November meeting on Tuesday at 7:30pm in the Gospel Tabernacle Church on Franklin between Sterling and Park. The meeting will address bylaws and elections for 2014, with the nomination process for the Board beginning at the meeting.

On Thursday, SOS Crown Heights hosts the next in a series of community conversations:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Gentrification vs. Recession (Gentrification Wins)

This map from WNYC (screenshot above) uses data from the US Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) to compare median incomes in NYC neighborhoods from 2007-2009 and 2010-2012. Citywide, median income in NYC dropped from $54,057 to $50,711 in inflation-adjusted dollars during this period, showing the effects of the Great Recession on NYC. As a whole, New York wasn't hit nearly hard as some cities, but looking at city-level data obscures the deeply uneven impact of the crash. Back in 2009, when ILFA was a fresh young face in the blogosphere, my job took me through Ocean Hill, Brownsville, and East New York, neighborhoods that were hit very hard (as you can see on this map). Just taking photos on the street brought locals out to ask if the building I was photographing was in foreclosure. 

People (including yours truly) speculated about the effect the recession would have on gentrifying neighborhoods - would the process slow? would all the gentrifiers move back to Manhattan? - but a few years on, the data is here. While I'd want to look at the tract-level data for a lot of these areas, the overall picture is pretty clear. Gentrification 1, Recession 0. 

Play us out, Michael Che (who WOULD do that to a cookie?).

Get More: MTV Shows

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Links Roundup and Weekend Events, I Love Franklin Aze Edition

Bucolic Crown Heights got the full treatment as a "cultural neighborhood that's come a long way" from AMNewYork yesterday, complete with a bunch of quotes from some overeager community blogger named "Nick Jurazich." I've never heard of this schmuck, but maybe he'll want to take over ILFA after I resign in disgrace (this whole "the blog is ending soon!" routine is starting to look like one of those embarrassing end-of-days cults where they keep getting the date of the apocalypse wrong).

Other odds and ends from around the web:

- Seeds in the Middle, who also featured in the AMNewYork article, are plotting a run-a-thon at Brower Park on December 7th to raise money for their youth and community work. If you're interested in getting involved, be in touch with them here.

- SOS Crown Heights continues to be awesome. This past week, they've been lauded yet again in the NYTimes, celebrated the release of Praying with Our Feet, a new book, and published a re-entry resource guide for formerly incarcerated folks. If holiday giving is your thing, consider SOS. 

- This coming Thursday, the Brooklyn Historical Society hosts Crown Heights hip-hop legends Buckshoot and Evil Dee of Black Moon for an event titled "Told It First Hand." Complete info is on the flyer below, and tickets are available here

- In keeping with the whole "rapid change" thing, the numbers in last week's roundup will be rendered obsolete on Sunday, when Fez Hummus Bar officially opens to the public. On the same block, reports are that the former JamRock Kitchen is to become a burrito place.  

- A formal RFP has been issued to transform the Bedford-Union armory. We've got awhile yet until anything happens, if it does, but it'll be interesting to see what emerges. 

- Finally, LaunchPad has some fun things planned for this weekend. Complete info below. Happy weekend, everybody. 

Friday, November 15th @ 8pm
Laila and Smitty / The Patsys

Laila and Smitty

The Patsys

721 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn
2/3/4/5/C to Franklin Ave
8pm; $10 suggested donation


Saturday, November 16th @ 12pm
Free Sewing Class

This is a free sewing class for sewing newbies and novices. Students will learn basic information about sewing machines, sewing, patterns, and fabric. You are encouraged to bring scissors for cutting fabric and paper, some newspaper for making a pattern, a ruler, fabric, thread, pins, and a pencil or pen. Don't worry if you don't have everything; we will share. There will be access to a few sewing machines in the classroom as well. Once we have gone over the basics, we will learn how to make a pattern for a tote bag, cut out the fabric, and sew it up.

721 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn
2/3/4/5/C to Franklin Ave
Noon-3pm; Free


Saturday, November 16th @ 8pm
SiairaShawn's E.P. Release Party

An acoustic performance of songs from the singer/songwriter's new EP "Ghost" with a reception.

721 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn
2/3/4/5/C to Franklin Ave
8pm; $5 suggested donation


Sunday, November 17th @ 3pm
Clothing Swap + Secret Movie

You know those clothes you've been hoarding? Yeah, they're nice. Bring them to LaunchPad and swap them for other sweet threads. Come with a friend. Watch a movie with great fashion in it. Hang out and eat free popcorn.

Please bring clean, wearable clothes only -- leftovers will be donated. Gals and guys welcome. 

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2/3/4/5/C to Franklin Ave
3pm-6pm; $5 suggested donation


Monday, November 18th @ 8pm
Come Crafting: 3D Paper Stars

Come Craft folding 3-D Paper Stars! Make 24 and you could hang up one a day for advent or give them to friends as non-denominational holiday decorations.  Supplies will be provided if you let us know you're coming.  Optional equipment to bring: An MTA subway map (free from any remaining station agent), scissors, and tweezers.  

More Info:

721 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn
2/3/4/5/C to Franklin Ave
8pm; $5 suggested donation

Monday, November 11, 2013

Franklin Park Reading Series Tonight

I thought I'd written my last Franklin Park Reading Series post in October, but here it comes again! It's been a great month for Penina Roth and the reading series, as they were named Best Reading Series in New York City by the Village Voice, prompting a great interview with Penina from Brooklyn Based. Tonight, they celebrate with "Transgression Night" and, as always $4 pints!

From their FB page:

Join us for a night of Transgression with taboo-smashing authors SCOTT MCCLANAHAN (Hill William, Crapalachia), LINDSAY HUNTER (Don't Kiss Me), ADELLE WALDMAN (The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.), GRAZYNA PLEBANEK (Illegal Liaisons), and JAMES YEH (Gigantic Magazine)!

November 11, 8-10pm
Franklin Park
618 St. Johns Place, Between Classon and Franklin Avenues
Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Subway: 2/3/4/5 to Franklin Avenue

More about our authors:

SCOTT MCCLANAHAN is the author of the novel Hill William, the memoir Crapalachia, and four story collections, including Stories V! and The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan Vol. 1. He lives in West Virginia, where he is the co-founder of the music and film production company and small press Holler Presents (

LINDSAY HUNTER is the author of the story collections Don’t Kiss Me and Daddy’s. She lives in Chicago, where she is the co-founder and co-host of the flash-fiction reading series Quickies!

ADELLE WALDMAN is the author of the debut novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. Her articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, the New Republic, The Wall Street Journal, Slate, The Village Voice, and other publications. She worked as a reporter at the New Haven Register and the Cleveland Plain Dealer and wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal’s Web site before turning to fiction. She lives in Brooklyn.

GRAZYNA PLEBANEK was born in Warsaw, Poland. She is the author of the highly acclaimed and bestselling novels Pudełko ze szpilkami (Box of Stilettos), Dziewczyny z Portofino (Girls from Portofino), and Przystupa (A Girl Called Przystupa). Plebanek’s latest novel, Illegal Liaisons (Nielegalne związki), is her first book to be translated into English. Plebanek was awarded the Literary Prize Zlote Sowy in 2011 for her contribution to promoting Poland abroad.

JAMES YEH is a co-editor of Gigantic. His fiction has appeared recently in NOON, Fence, VICE, Tin House, BOMB Magazine, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Columbia University, and in 2011, he was named a Center for Fiction New York City Emerging Writers Fellow. He lives in Brooklyn, and occasionally he DJs.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Final ILFA Roundup: 70 New Businesses and Five Years of Commercial Changes on Franklin (Updated)

(Franklin and Sterling, NW corner, 2009)

ILFA has recently turned into a horror movie villain: every time you think the blog is finally dead, it comes alive for one more scare (or in this case, one more long-winded post on neighborhood change). But I just couldn't let ILFA fade to black without one more roundup, particularly since last year's roundup produced an honest-to-god "fact" - 52 new businesses along Franklin since 2008 - that now shows up as quick numerical shorthand for rapid change in western Crown Heights (it was also out of date the moment it was posted, of course). 

Without further ado, it's roundup time. The structure hasn't changed much this year: this is a count of businesses along Franklin avenue, charting openings, closings, renovations, and "coming soon" rumors. The exercise is focused on businesses on Franklin Avenue between Eastern Parkway and Atlantic Avenue, or those on side streets that are closer to Franklin than any other street (tie goes to the roundup, as in the case of Compare Foods). This has never been a complete portrait of gentrification in the neighborhood; to achieve that, I'd have to count openings and closings south of the Parkway and along Classon, Bedford, and Nostrand as well, and I'd also have to run residential and transit numbers, among others. This is a detailed slice, a look through one particular window onto a vast landscape of change. 

If you'd like a refresher on what was new in previous years (the data from which are folded into this roundup, as well), here are the roundups from 2012, 2011, and 2010, as well as a sort of precursor post from 2009 discussing issues of storefront turnover, commercial rent control, and the social impact of closings. You can also stroll back in time with Google streetview, which hasn't nearly kept up with the changes (clicking along the avenue, depending on the cross street, you appear to be somewhere between 2008 and 2010).

The list works north from Eastern Parkway. Streets are in italics, and this year's additions are in bold.

- 70 new businesses have opened since late July of 2008. 17 are new this year, and 16 have since closed or moved, which means the 6 blocks between Eastern Parkway and St. Marks Avenue (where the new business list ends) have seen a net gain of roughly 54 businesses in a little over 5 years.  

Eastern Parkway

The Pulp and The Bean
Yogumoo (replaced African Hair Braiding)
JamRock Kitchen (now closed)

Lincoln Place

Ecodermis and Wolfberry
Gladys (replaced Radha Grocercy)
Mazon Discount
Brooklyn Yoga Collective (replaced Marianne's Hair Braiding)
Jacob Smoke Shop (replaced Diallo Trading)
Brooklyn Inkspot
Dutch Boy Burger
The Breukelen Coffee House
Franklin Park

St. Johns Place

Nairobi's Knapsack (now closed)
Pine Tree Natural Organic Land (replaced Nairobi's Knapsack)
Crown Heights Animal Hospital
Away We Go Postal
The Beauty Boutique (now closed) 
Pearl Indian Restaurant

Sterling Place

Brooklyn Fit Lab 
Chavela's (moved from Classon, replaced J&B Deli)
Island Cz (replaced 3D's)
739 Franklin
Cool Pony (replaced The Candy Rush)
The Candy Rush (now closed)
TasteBuds (replaced About Time Boutique, both now closed)
Lily & Fig
It Takes a Village (now moved to Classon)
First Impressions Dental
Alternative Healing (now closed)
Black Ice NYC (replaced Alternative Healing, now closed)
Wedge (replaced Black Ice NYC)
Rosebud Vintage
Little Zelda
The Crown Inn (replaced El Baron Grocery)
Black Tree (sanwich place, shared space with Crown Inn, moved to LES)
Randall's BBQ (now sharing space with Crown Inn)
MySpace Realty
Owl and Thistle General Store (soon moving south of EP)
Installation (replaced Bella Greens)
Bella Greens (now closed)
Park Place Coffee
Park Place

BNI Express Laundromat
Hullabaloo Books (replaced Crow Hill Jewelry)
Crow Hill Jewelry (the pawn shop - now closed)
Sweet Basil
The Pana Store (closed, moving to Flatbush)
Modern and Vintage Shop
Calabar Imports (moved from Washington)
Excelsior Cycles (replaced United Community Church of God)
Franklin Roadhouse (now closed)
Mayfield (replaced Franklin Roadhouse)

Prospect Place

Rosco's (replaced A Slice of Brooklyn)
A Slice of Brooklyn (now closed)
Gueros Tacos (replaced Oaxaca Tacos)
Oaxaca Taco (now closed)
Posh Nails NYC (now closed)
Kecia J. Weaver Law Office
Lazy Ibis (replaced World Class People's Market)
Phone Doktor (adjacent to Eve and Mikes)
Eve and Mike's Pharmacy
Compare Foods

St. Marks Avenue

Cafe Allegria
The O Experience (salon above Imperial Bikers M.C.)
Bergen Street
Dean Street
Pacific Street
Atlantic Avenue

- 43 Businesses that were open in late July 2008 or sometime thereafter have closed or moved off Franklin (this doesn't take account of Brooklyn Inkspot or J's Wong, which moved to different locations on the Avenue). 15 closed or moved this year. 

Eastern Parkway
African Hair Braiding (now Yogumoo)
Passion Hair Salon (soon to be Fez Hummus Bar)
Translation Services (soon to be Fez Hummus Bar)
Scarlet Ribbons Thrift Shop (now wino(t), moved to Fulton)
Jam Rock Kitchen

Lincoln Place

Radha Grocery
Marianne Hair Braiding (now Brooklyn Yoga Collective)
Aissatou Hair Braiding
Fatima (soon to be Docklands)
790 Franklin (electronics place)
Diallo Trading (now Jacob Smoke Shop)
Diana's Desserts (now Inkspot, moved to Washington)
The Spice is Right (now half of Barboncino) 
Climax (soon to be Starbucks)
St. Johns Place

Bristen's (now Away We Go Postal)
Nairobi's Knapsack (now Pine Tree)
King Accessory (became The Beauty Boutique, now empty) 

Sterling Place

J's Salon
3D's (now Island Cz)
J&B Deli (now Chavela's)
About Time Boutique (became Tastebuds, now closed)
The Candy Rush (became Cool Pony)
Alternative Healing (became Black Ice NYC and is now Wedge)
Off the Hook Communications (now Little Zelda)
It Takes a Village (moved to Classon)
El Baron Grocery (soon to be The Crown Inn)
Black Tree Sandwiches (moved from Crown Inn to LES)
Bella Greens (became Installation)
West Indian Cafe (now J's Wong)
Homage (fire, now for lease)
Muslim Bookshop (fire, now Park Place Coffee)
Deli Food Plaza (soon to be an upscale deli)

Park Place

Crow Hill Jewelry (now Hullabaloo)
Saje (closed just before I got here, became Pana Store, now empty)
United Community Church of God (now Excelsior Cycles)
Franklin Roadhouse (now Mayfield)
Prospect Place

A Slice of Brooklyn (now Rosco's)
Ebita Real Estate Office (soon to be Bollywood Bar)
Insurance (became Oaxaca Taco, now Gueros Tacos)
Posh Nails BK
World Class People's Market (now Lazy Ibis)

St. Mark's Avenue
Bergen Street

Tabernacle of God's Glory Church (appears to be being renovated)

Dean Street
Pacific Street

Meat Market/Organic Deli Grocery (renovated, fire, now renovating again)

Atlantic Avenue

- 25 businesses have renovated (or are currently renovating) since late July of 2008. 5 of these have closed. 

Eastern Parkway

Fisher's/Bob & Betty's
Gourmet Deli Grocery (Lincoln and Franklin)

Lincoln Place

Golden Chopsticks
Franklin Express Laundry
Franklin Park (the big bar)
Breukelen Coffee House (the back room)
Brooklyn Inkspot (moved, now renovating)
Barboncino (added yard, event space coming)

St. Johns Place

Nam's (forever rearranging/renovating)
Happy Wok (new awning/new chairs)
Christopher Deli (new awning)
Bristen's/Island Thyme (now closed)
Sterling Place

About Time (renovated, became TasteBuds, now closed)
J&B Deli (now closed, became Chavela's)
J's Wong (moved, but the same guys)
Homage (closed, fire)
Park Place

Lasting Impressions Salon
Franklin Express Deli
Prospect Place

Bombay Masala (opened a garden, new interiors)
St. Marks Avenue

Kelso Restaurant

Bergen Street

Preschool (mural and some indoor work)
Franklyn Deli
Dean Deli Grocery

Dean Street

Sushi Tatsu (new awning, Thai menu, now renovating again)

Pacific Street

Organic Deli Grocery (closed, fire)

Atlantic Avenue

- 10 businesses are coming soon (based in part on rumors), and 6 storefronts are currently for lease (based on signs in the windows).

Eastern Parkway

Health Services Center (in 341 Eastern Parkway)
Restaurant (in 341 EP)
Capital One Bank (in 341 EP)
Fez Hummus Bar

Lincoln Place


St. Johns Place

Beauty Boutique space (purportedly leasing for $12,000/month)

Sterling Place

Upscale Deli

Park Place
Prospect Place

Bollywood Bar
Posh Nails BK space (for lease)

St. Marks Avenue
Bergen Street

Smorgasburg Food Court and Beer Hall (893 Bergen)
1000 Dean (retail on first floor)
Nassau Brewery (whole site for lease, will likely be a development)

Dean Street 

Two renovated storefronts (for lease)

Pacific Street

Meat Market/Organic Deli Grocery space (for lease)

Atlantic Avenue

The best part about the roundup is getting reader feedback, so I'll keep my own notes brief. 

- Last year, I wondered if the pace of change was accelerating; this year, it's easy to say that with confidence. Not only did more businesses open in this cycle than any other, more closed, too, and many that closed were new not too long ago. 

- In 2009 and 2010, I wrote that the mix of new businesses was relatively heterogenous, but that's no longer the case; Franklin fits the "rapidly-gentrifying-NYC-neighborhood" mold very snugly now, and businesses that don't (which is to say that they can't afford the skyrocketing rents) are either moving along with the "frontier" of turnover (east to Nostrand, south of Eastern on Franklin) or going in search of those customers who've been displaced (moving out to Eastern Crown Heights or down to Flatbush). 

- I've argued elsewhere that the latest round of new investments in businesses along Franklin represent changes in kind as well as degree, which is another way of saying that we're attracting big corporate dollars now (Starbucks, Goldman's investment on Dean, a bank branch). These aren't folks who are going to swing by community meetings or post on local blogs to encourage residents to support their new business, because they're not going to be worried about making payroll or rent month-to-month in their first year. It sounds a little obvious, but the change is changing (or, at least, changing gears).

- Finally, I've come back again and again to the point that commercial displacement is a part of gentrification worth paying attention to, in part because it's so visible (and thus media-friendly, in a way that accelerates the process), and also because commercial tenants are less protected (and thus the gentrification process can be even more cutthroat than residential turnover in these neighborhoods). Sometimes this means that commercial turnover precedes residential turnover, eliminating gathering places and raising the cost of living for longtime residents in the process. Other times, residential displacement goes before commercial displacement, as customers move and patterns of commerce change. 

At this point, of course, both of these things are happening along Franklin. This isn't news to anyone - the neighborhood has been anointed, proclaimed, had its turn at the debutante ball, and all the rest - but looking back over five years, it is remarkable just how much has changed, and just how different the Avenue has been in each year I've been here. There's lots of great stuff to see and do on Franklin now, but there's also so much that used to be here that was wonderful and that's gone. Once upon a time, going back through these old roundups to make this year's updates felt like current sociology, charting the present as it unfolded. This time around, it felt more like archaeology. 

The final plea is always the same: readers, your thoughts (corrections and additions most welcome, of course)?

Monday, November 04, 2013

VOTE Today!

It's Election Day, y'all! Get out and VOTE today.

ILFA will be voting for de Blasio (no surprises there), who's got this thing all locked up. ILFA put together a blog post about this for Dissent, but if you're excited about the possibility of de Blasio's politics, then today is the beginning, not the end, of getting mobilized to help push the mayor-elect to enact progressive changes in NYC.

Lazy Ibis Opens at Franklin and St. Marks

Friday, November 01, 2013

Lots of Weekend Fun: The Cave, LaunchPad, Marathon, and More

ILFA has become such a shadow of its former self that even this long goodbye has petered out and become boring. This is, in part, because team ILFA is gearing up to ramble through 26.2 miles of NYC as part of the marathon on Sunday. (Semi)-interesting wrap-up postings are promised thereafter, along with the final annual roundup. In the meantime, there's lots of fun to be had tomorrow around the Avenue, including a big event over at 964 Dean Street (The Cave) and good times at LaunchPad. Also, there's more to come on local businesses, but in the meantime, Stork is in the running for a big-time grant. Help them out and click here.

- The Cave:

Please come join us at
Saturday, November 2nd and 9th
Doors @ 7:30PM
Inline image 1
964 Dean St.
Between Franklin ave and Classon.
TRAIN: Franklin AVE AC or 2345
$10 online / $12 at the door

Dance & Music performance by Archaic Remnants &
The Methods of Transfer
In collaboration with:
Laura Cuille, Justin James Hampton, Craig Harff, Kathryn Nusa Logan, Amanda MacLeod, Jon Montefu, Don Panicko, Justin Passmore and Robyn Rikoon
Jess Ledbetter (BULLIT)
Matt Howels Blues Project
$7 at the door
DJs Anthony Morin, José Hamilton, Ace Baron and more will be mixing house, techno, disco, funk, dance hall, breaks and bass in the basement until late night. Jam session and after hours to follow.

Limited seating available for the dance performance so please get your tickets ahead of time!
*Please note that performance will begin at 8:00. Following the performance we will have two live bands and a DJ. If you can't make it at 8PM doors will reopen at 9 for the live musical performances. Bring your dancing shoes.  
We will have a bar so PLEASE NO BYOB.
We look forward to seeing you in THE CAVE!

Inline image 2

- LaunchPad:

Saturday, November 2nd @ 8pm

It's time to get ghastly with your favorite ghouls, gals and undead pals! Coming in costume is EXTREMELY encouraged. And y'all better come prepped with your best open mic material: we'll be holding a contest where the winner receives a slot to play the next Pulsewave!


OxygenStar is a scatterbrain. He creates music by all means necessary. His live set can include drums, old laptops running MS-DOS, the original NES, guitars, keyboards, all of the above or none of the above. And just when you think he has stuck to one style of music, he will drop an album on your face that doesn't relate to anything. Tell your sister.

♫ an0va as QUEEN

an0va is a chiptune musician from Philadelphia who specializes in energetic and technical rock. This Pulsewave, an0va will be performing as a tribute to Queen. aka pretty much the best rock band of all time. I mean, come on.




721 Franklin Ave
2/3/4/5/C Franklin Ave
8pm; $10 suggested donation


Sunday, November 3rd @ 4pm
NYC Physics and Math Self-Learners Group

At the NYC Physics & Math Self-Learners, we basically work our way through graduate physics materials, and meet on the first Sunday afternoon of each month to discuss what we've learned and to answer one anothers' questions.  The emphasis is on intuition rather than problem-solving methods, but we do both.

721 Franklin Ave
2/3/4/5/C Franklin Ave
4pm; Pay what you wish


Sunday, November 3rd @ 6:30pm
Financial Planning for Freelancers and Artists

Today we are faced with more financial decisions than ever before. If you are one of the many freelancers, contractors, part-timers, artists, all creative types working nontraditional hours for nontraditional pay this seminar is for you. You will get practical advice for all the decisions you have to make--managing the money you are bringing home, knowing how to deal with the unexpected (illness, break up or debt) and how to save.
Professional financial planner and MSF, Inna Babenko, specializing in non-profits and freelancers will share her insider knowledge which will help you navigate the choppy waters of today’s economy.
She will also talk about the Obamacare--something that we all have heard about but don’t quite understand what it means for us.

721 Franklin Ave
2/3/4/5/C Franklin Ave
6:30pm; $5 suggested donation