Last night, as I sat on a bench near Picket Fence, taking in the sounds of the jazz band wafting from the restaurant's rear garden, the whole neighborhood just seemed to come alive in exactly the way I love. It was a balmy Saturday night, and men, women and children of all ages, from all kinds of backgrounds, some local and some from outside the immediate area, were heading to their various destinations, the air charged with just a hint of electricity. Coexistence not only seemed possible...it was really happening. One of those spontaneous moments when everything just seems to snap into place. A parade of beautiful, smiling faces in every flavor imaginable, from deep chocolate to peaches 'n' cream, and everything in between, floated by, their conversation and laughter filling the night with a rich sense of warmth and connection, of home and hearth, of unity in diversity, of...neighborhood. As the area continues to evolve in fits and starts, I received a glimpse of an increasingly probable future, different - and better - than quite what any one person or group has previously experienced or envisioned. Last night, there was no "them"...every last person was one of "us."
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I was chatting with the manager of the DPW Connecticut Muffin last week, and he mentioned that Vox Pop had opened a new location on the Lower East Side; I see from VP's web site that it's true. I wonder if Sander is simply expanding into a receptive market, or if he's thinking about the danger of keeping all his eggs in one basket. For a brief period, the Ditmas Park West section of Flatbush might have seemed poised to become a bastion of leftie politics and the punk rock ethos (or whatever it is), but as pleased as I was to see Vox Pop open here, I was a little puzzled as to the choice of location; the cafe/bookstore/performance venue does have a real LES/Williamsburg kind of vibe. As great a neighborhood as this is, it has never struck me as having a terribly strident activist/street artist feel to it. I notice the majority of customers of Vox Pop these days tend to have pretty ordinary conversations about things like roommates, real estate, babies, the occasional novel. It's not exactly the Left Bank; although one gets the sense it was kind of intended to be. Personally, I feel caught in the middle; I'd love it if there was a local cafe that fell somewhere between the poles of Vox and CT Muffin (the music choices exemplify this problem - I'd really rather not hear Matchbox 20 or Tortoise while I'm drinking my coffee...how about, I don't know...Elliott Smith...or Miles Davis?) A place like the Ozzie's on 5th Avenue in the Slope would be perfect. Maybe in the spot being vacated by the FFC...
Well, despite the fact that it's 5 blocks away instead of around the corner, I've been finding myself in the Flatbush Food Co-op increasingly often since they moved across the street into their incredible new digs on April 18, taking over the old Associated Supermarket's space, which had been empty for quite a while. Some items are truly overpriced, but the overall shopping experience is very pleasant, and the selection is excellent. Keeping an eye on coupons and sales also helps. Natural Frontier is likely to continue to get much of my default/impulse business, but when I know what I'm looking for, and am on a "mission", FFC is definitely on my radar. And, although, a wide range of folks have been railing against the new FFC (and against coops in general - in different places, I've seen accusations of creeping communism and of bourgeois elitism leveled at them!), a wide range of customers, from a diverse range of socioeconomic backgrounds, were to be seen shopping there today. And, call me sentimental, but it kinda gets me right here to see the word "Flatbush" emblazoned in massive letters on an awning on Cortelyou Road between Rugby and Marlborough.