The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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Drunkard of the week.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Back to the Kvetching, lords and ladies, and things that are definitively not alright.

This fellow spent a lovely afternoon dozing in the sun, in an obviously inebriate state, at the corner of 41st and Broadway in front of the Loyal order of Moose building. He was sleeping one off, by all appearances. This shot was captured around 6:45 in the evening, but I had spotted him in the same spot earlier in the day, around 2 p.m. Nearly five hours.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

During the late afternoon, and into the early evening, vast numbers of people walked by this man. Mothers and children, old ladies and new immigrants took in the spectacle as they passed by. Hundreds of automobiles stopped at the red light on the corner, with this napping fellow in plain sight and actually illuminated by a setting sun. How many of those cars, I wonder, were driven by the Police?

How is this oft observed behavior in the public space OK, and shouldn’t some member of the Gendarmé have checked to see if this guy was dead or alive?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow singled out in today’s post is part of a small population of inebriated gentlemen who frequent the Steinway and Broadway intersection. A small population of junkies also seem to be favoring the corner of late, with many encamping themselves at the Library. Anybody who lives hereabouts will tell you this, yet, few complain or “kvetch” about it.

“What can you do about it? Don’t start trouble”- that’s the Astoria motto.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A shot from around 7:50 or so, when I was making my way back home. This guy actually gets more sleep than I do, by all appearances, and he remained unmolested by the Police or the people in the shops for more than 5 hours. All the while in public view from an intersection. There was a guy sleeping around 2 on the opposite corner, but he had removed himself by the time I came through around 6:45.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Sunday, August 3rd, Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 1, 2014 at 2:58 pm

any idea

with one comment

A giant boulder, encountered.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While walking through the Dutch Kills section – up 32nd street towards 36th avenue just yesterday – one encountered a giant rock. It was more of a boulder, really, it was in fact a glacial erratic.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Fairly sure am I that I would have noticed this before, given the orange safety bollards surrounding it, but I haven’t walked through here in a month or so (normally, I stick to Northern Blvd. on my way back from ye old Creek).

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, the neighborhood hereabouts seems to have embraced the erratic, adorning it in the names of nation states. No doubt, this is symptomatic of the recent World Cup tournament fever which gripped Western Queens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One does wonder if this is some sort of manifestation of the native art form of Queens – illegal dumping – but it’s likely related to some work going on further down the street. Wonder how long this has been here without me noticing?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

When I got home and mentioned the rock to Our Lady of the Pentacle, she handed me a Union Jack flag and told me to go back and claim it for the Queen. She’s English, and that’s her people’s vibrant diversity at work. You see a never before noticed chunk of rock, anywhere, and you claim it for the Queen. I claim it for Queens instead.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Sunday, August 3rd, Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 31, 2014 at 11:00 am

as offerings

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Renewing my call for commercial freight service on the NYC Subway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One has mentioned this before: why does the NYC Subway system not offer commercial freight service during the overnight hours? How many trucks could be circumvented from ever entering Manhattan if a cargo train on the E tracks were to carry just Federal Express shipments from Kennedy airport to one of the hubs in Queens or Manhattan?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Rush hour is obviously not the time period which I’m proposing this, in fact, if the sun is up – it’s probably a bad thing to cause any interruption or delay in passenger service. I’m talking about the late nights, when most of the trains are running less than 10% full.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The MTA does it now, for themselves. Moving garbage and construction supplies around on modified rolling stock, as you see in the shots displayed above and below. They used to move cash around in similar manner, onboard the fabled “Money Train.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Load the cargo on at the Corona yard, or at the 36th street one in Brooklyn, or at Hunts Point in the Bronx – any of the final destination stops, really – and bring commercial shipments into the City’s heart via the Subways. Why not? It would reduce the number of trucks on the streets, and help eliminate some of the congestion entering and leaving in Manhattan below 96th street. It would also create a brand new revenue stream for the MTA.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The fly in the ointment would be getting the bulk cargo up out of the station, but that’s something that would be easy to engineer around and one thing NYC is not lacking in are legions of stout young citizens with strong backs and a work ethic. See, it would create jobs too.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Sunday, August 3rd, Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 30, 2014 at 11:31 am

record scroll

with 5 comments

One does not complain, it is “Kvetching,” which is a whole other thing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Several comments received both here, at your Newtown Pentacle, and in the real world “meatspace” have opined that your humble narrator spends too much time complaining about this or that. My obviate ranting about the singularly horrible Time Warner Cable, the inebriate legions who pollute the sidewalks of Astoria with their besotted carcasses, or the ludicrous amount of environmental noise offered freely by the neighbors – it would seem – have struck an odd chord and lent an incorrect impression to my narrative.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

First off – I grew up Jewish, and “kvetching” is as much a part of my culture as is coffee and cake – so respect the hell out of my vibrant diversity or I’ll slap a hate crime sticker on you. Secondly, one of the things that I’ve observed about the Borough of Queens over the years is the stoicism which the citizenry hereabouts displays in the face of the daily avalanches of those improprieties which they suffer. Nothing changes unless you speak about it aloud, and “just get used to it” is the precursor to a commonly quoted parable about a frog in a pot of water on a stove who doesn’t realize he’s being boiled alive because the temperature of the water is being raised in a slow and subtle fashion.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Kvetching is a running sarcastic commentary on existential woes, a general call out to others commenting on the sisyphean suffering which existentialist goyem like Albert Camus or Franz Kafka made their careers out of. Kvetching is an attempt at voicing an unease with the status quo, in the hopes of discovering other unfortunates who share in the misery. Kvetching is an attempt to stimulate a conversation about that which is wrong, one which the powers and potentates of this world might take notice of and attempt to ameliorate. Kvetching is your right, as an American, it’s called “speech.” Complaining is something else entirely.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Sunday, August 3rd, Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 29, 2014 at 12:49 pm

night gaunts

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The Suydam tomb, at Greenwood Cemetery.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Monday, Atlas Obscura produced an event at Greenwood Cemetery wherein your humble narrator would join with authors Clay Chapman and Bess Lovejoy in reading H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook” for a group of pale enthusiasts. The excursion was nocturnal, and offered cocktail selections from the East Village’s forthcoming Lovecraft Bar.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the charms of the evening, as organized by Atlas’s Megan Roberts and Allison C. Meier, was the opportunity to visit the interior of two mausolea at the ancient burying ground of Brooklyn.

One of them was the Stephen Whitney monument, which was discussed last year in the posting ” fastened ajar ” which described another nighted exploration of the place.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the thousands of cool things about Greenwood, the sets of keys which govern admission to the mausolea. More often than not, these keys are hand carved, early 19th century affairs. The sort of keys you’d see on a heavy metal album cover from the 1980’s, essentially. When they turn the bars inside the locking mechanisms of the heavy gates and slab doors, there’s an audible “klunk” sound as the lock disengages.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One is happy to report that within the tomb itself, the marble slabs were indeed crusted with a powdery Nitre, and the smell of mold and decay were omnipresent but quite tolerable. Of course, the ghastly contents contained in these walls include little more than mouldering bones after their long occupancy here, but there is a distinct perfume found in old tombs – something which is sensed rather than smelled.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Suydams are one of the ancient Knickerbocker families, landed gentry whose founders helped build a Dutch colony called New Amsterdam into something. The tomb’s official dedication is to Lambert Suydam, who died on April Fools day in 1833 in his 89th year, but there are many other members of the clan here, including his wife Sarah. It is very odd to stand in a structure like this, which is just shy of 150-175 years old, and more than one person along for the excursion commented on the bizarre acoustic excesses experienced within.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, a humble narrator is given to letting his mind wander, and the ideation of what might be carried by the static volume of air within the tomb began to prey upon me. Miasmic liquors would be found just beyond these marble slabs, pooling amongst those buckles and buttons and bits of bone which had survived the corruptions of the grave and persisted in perspicuous dissolution just in eyes away.

This is the kingdom of the conqueror worm, after all.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My fellow narrators and I all used artificial illumination when reading our sections of the text of “The Horror at Red Hook,” and the crew of curious tapophiles which participated in the evening all carried lanterns (that’s Clay Chapman in the shot above, at the Pierpont monument). I opted to read off my iPad so that my face would be underlit and I’d look extra creepy. It was all quite an atmospheric evening, and I hope we might be able to arrange another at some future date.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 28, 2014 at 11:53 am

adding to

with 2 comments

Even when I’m home, shit happens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

So, I’m sitting on the porch with the dog recently, when a fly lands on a table we keep outside. The fly looks at me, all haughty like, and proceeds to squeeze out this yellowish blob from what would be, on a mammal, its buttocks. You never know with insects, but if something came out of the analogous section of the dog…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Curious as to what this yellowish blob was, I grabbed my camera and soon discovered that it was beyond the limited “macro” focusing that my lineup of glass could capture. Macro photography is its own “thing” and is an area which I’m not really set up to explore. Therefore, I had to get all inventive.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After a quick trip to my desk for equipment – acquiring a small jewelers loupe and a pencil – I had set up a quickie magnifier for the fly goop. What I was hoping for was that was some sort of squamous egg cartridge which be sprouting worms, but I think it might have just been fly poop.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Obviously, this is far from a perfect situation – optical fidelity wise – shooting with an expensive lens through a cheap magnifying lens. There is a trick to this, one which involves disabling autofocus on the expensive glass attached to the camera. The camera desperately wanted to lock onto to the front of the loupe’s lens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The trick is to get the focal point of the image set for the point in space at which the magnifying loupe was focused, as you see in the shot above. An interesting exercise, but I didn’t get any little worms as I hoped. Regardless, I doused the thing with Lysol and went along my merry way. The dog slept through the whole thing, but she’s a honey badger when you really get down to it.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 25, 2014 at 11:08 am

dwell along

with 3 comments

Ah, to retreat into the comforting ignorance of a new Dark Age…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The human infestation has got me down today, lords and ladies. Foibles, faults, and the mysteries of the utterly ‘effed up cloud my perceptions, and a humble narrator is ready to wash his hands of this fetid excuse for a life. Unfortunately, existence is a giant shit sandwich from which we all must, in fact, take a bite. It’s probably all my fault anyway, it usually is, so perhaps it would be best if I just avoid any further interaction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A prevailing and ongoing critique of my personality and habits as offered by loved ones and strangers alike is why I am largely nocturnal, existing in twilit grottos and forgotten places, and why I frequent the abandoned and irredeemable edges of civilization. If it wasn’t for Our Lady of the Pentacle and my little dog Zuzu, I’d likely become an urban legend that grade school children mention in hushed whispers around camp fires. “Did you know that there’s a hermit with a camera living in that abandoned coal mine?” would be what summer campers asked each other. My golden arm, indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Human interaction is something which I’ve never seemed to master, despite my studied and best efforts. Perhaps I should seek out the services of mental health professionals and secure a supply of some numbing agent, retreat into an Aldous Huxley-esque SOMA haze, and just enjoy my days lost in a narcotic bliss. This is what most do, why not me too? Perhaps I should just retreat into the ignominious shadows, a penniless mendicant doomed to wander the concrete devastations of the Megalopolis. Bah. If you see me today, it would be wise to avoid all contact.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

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