The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

molecular motion

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First, you make a hole, then you fill the hole. Why bother?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not too many days ago, a humble narrator was startled by a positive cacophony arising from without. Even by the standards of Astoria, which seems to present one with oceans of variegated and unending noise, this was an outlandish amount of sound. Sounded like someone was tearing apart the very street. Turns out, they were.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This seemed to be a crew working for Verizon, the same ones I spotted on Queens Boulevard that were installing fiber optic lines and whose operation was examined in the post “nervous element.” They had the same saw truck thing, the CC155 Vermeer, which I feel deuty bound to point out the efficacy of – both in its intended role in sawing up the pavement, and for its potential as an anti “Horde of Zombies” weapon.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is endlessly fascinated by projects like this, wherein a cross section of “down there” stands revealed for a few moments. The layer cake of street, particularly over and around subways as in the case of Astoria’s Broadway, tells you a lot about how things actually work. You got sewers, pipes of all descriptions (many of which go nowhere and are connected to nothing that has existed above ground for a half century or more), that there’s all manner of buried items would suffice. There’s subway tracks below, so this actually isn’t a street at all – as in paved ground, so I suppose it’s actually a sort of roof that they’re noisily cutting into.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The operation kept on having to slow down and bring in guys with shovels, picks, and pry bars when the big zombie fighting saw machine started bringing up chunks of wood. The stuff splintered up, and seemed to be material that the crew needed to clear away manually. Some fairly large chunks of timber came out of the trench. A guess would be that’s it’s likely a layer of creosoted timber which is sitting on top of the steel and cement “cut and cover” subway tunnel that’s about 20 or so feet down. The scene also cast some doubt about the Vermeer being used against Zombies, whose splintered skulls would be similarly treated by the unit.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I turned away from the scene for a bit, made some coffee and answered a few emails. Suddenly, the sound of a giant “not so appropriate for killing Zombies or tearing through wet lumber but amazing at trenching concrete and asphalt saw machine” stopped, and the scent of hot asphalt filled the air. The only sounds enjoyed at this time were the driving rhythm of a ground tamper and the staccato of a dump truck diesel engine. Soon, the crew’s carefully dug trench was carefully filled in.

The Vermeer was seen last night, parked over on Jackson Avenue in LIC, near 23rd street and in front of the former 5ptz. The crew was nowhere to be found, but to be fair, it was something like 9 p.m.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

delicate adjustments

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The night time is the right time…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering about Astoria with a little dog called Zuzu, one observes a series of interesting tableaus. Zuzu requires a certain daily amount of marching about, so as to check her “pee mail” at every tree pit – and given her legendarily thick double coat of fur, this is best accomplished long after the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself has exited the scene and the pavement has cooled. Luckily, this puts me out on the street just as the party seems to be getting started for everyone else.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The human hive is surprisingly active well into the wee hours around these parts. Parental admonishment rings forth from open windows, queer foreign voices drunkenly slur and babble in unknown tongues, automobiles operated by adolescents screech along the streets. The smell of curry and burning olive oil are everywhere, along with the occasional wisps of cannabis. Eventually, things will quiet down, usually when the saloon keepers have served their “last call.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Lately, one finds himself yearning for elevation over the dross theater of Astoria. Vantage over the scene calls to me, although what one might encounter up here is no different than the sidewalks, except for its lower population numbers. You’ll find drunks and inebriates up here if you look, or forget to lock the door. Once or twice a week, when the LaGuardia flight path carries aeronauts over the neighborhood on the way to their landing strip, an NYPD helicopter will appear and play a light over these tar beaches – likely searching for foreign sappers seeking to cause chaos. Not up to anything more sinister than photographing one thing or another, your humble narrator usually just waves at the aerial gendarme. Zuzu could care less, as she cannot climb ladders.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 18, 2014 at 12:44 pm

disordered nucleus

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A short one today.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A late post from a humble narrator, depicting the scene on Woodside’s Roosevelt Avenue where the LIRR and MTA Subway systems overlay each other. Back tomorrow with something a bit more substantial.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

mad and fantastic

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Busy bees, and misanthropy, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The insect above was busily raiding Our Lady of the Pentacle’s herb garden one recent afternoon. Accordingly, I chased it around from blossom to blossom with a camera and flash. Soon, it was chasing me around. Such is my lot. The bee was merely attempting to shoo a representative of NYC’s human infestation away, something for which I can hardly blame it. There’s too many of us.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One shouldn’t be surprised at the various indignities and inequities commonly experienced along the daily round, I suppose, given that many of the places I find myself have the word “hell” in their place names. Over in Manhattan’s Hells Kitchen, for instance, this taxi garage was queerly devoid of human habitation. A good start, I guess, but there’s still too many of us.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Down on the Lower East Side, in an area once known as “Jew town,” this laundromat scene reminded me of certain Edward Hopper paintings. The facility was offering the humans housed therein a chance to remove the soils and bodily excreta which had accreted into their textile garb – using a variety of semi caustic chemicals, detergents, and mechanically agitated hot water. There’s way too many of us, and I fear that what this city could really use is a good plague.

Someday a real rain will come and wash these streets clean…

Sorry for the misanthropy, I get a bit “Travis Bickle” when my back hurts…

“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”

photo courtesy wikipedia

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 16, 2014 at 12:18 pm

half impassable

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I’d say I was getting old, as if I wasn’t already there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A few archive shots in today’s post, as your humble narrator is busy licking his wounds. A tear to the skinvelope on my left foot, a minor injury, has been causing me to walk “funny,” or at least funnier than usual. The changes in my normal gait have, over the course of the last few days, created a few sore muscles in the lower back. This, in turn, has transmitted along the entire spine. Accordingly, today, I’m a hunched over malcontent given to emanating odd sighs and groans whenever a transition from sitting to standing is required.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The foot injury itself is decidedly superficial, a few irritated and or raw spots on the top layer of skin that don’t “hurt” but which are uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the affected area is found deep within my shoe, and walking mile after mile has caused further irritation on the tender spot. I’m a bit like a tropical flower, it would seem – delicate. I can tell you that twenty years ago, I could have laughed off a bleeding hole the size of a ping pong ball, whereas today an overly large pimple is capable of reducing me to bed rest. Summon the clergy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, I have a long list of pedantic tasks to accomplish before the computer and a longer list of books that require reading. Unfortunately, infirmity means I won’t be walking that much for the next couple of days in the hope that my skinvelope will regenerate enough tissue to protect the underlying firmament of tendon and muscle. The back thing has to sort itself out, as usual.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 15, 2014 at 10:20 am

mournful planets

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Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Many times have I commented on the odd causality surrounding certain dates in the historical record. Obviously – September 11 has become the center of attention for NY historians since 2001, but this is a week wherein propitious events seem to have happened over the centuries. To begin with, the European discovery and description of our little town seems to have begun some four hundred and five years ago today.

In 1609, September 12th was the day that a fellow named Henry Hudson sailed up a certain river after having noticed two or three large islands in a natural harbor, onboard a Dutch East India Company ship called the Halve Maen.

Oddly enough, September 12th is considered to be the anniversary of the Battle of Marathon by scholarly sources.

Then there’s the First World War, and September 12th is the day that Gerry decided to dig in – which began three and a half years of trench warfare.

from greatwar.co.uk

From 12th September 1914 the German Army began to “dig in” on the high ground of the Chemin des Dames ridge on the north bank of the river Aisne. The Germans dug defensive trenches with the intention of securing the position and preventing any further possibility of withdrawal. This battlefield area witnessed the beginnings of entrenched positions and the change from a mobile war to a static deadlock between the opposing forces. From this date the entrenchments would gradually spread along the whole length of the Western Front, would become deeper and more impregnable and would characterize the siege warfare fighting of the Western Front for the following three and a half years.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, your humble narrator has been writing a bi-weekly column over at Brownstoner Queens.

There’s a few of these posts which I’d direct you to check out, including:

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Oddly enough, I’ve got this weekend off from tours and obligations.

I plan on attending Kevin Walsh’s Forgotten Tour #83, which will explore Little Neck and Douglaston, in an effort to ameliorate my utter ignorance about eastern Queens. Also, I just received my paper back copy of Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker” from Amazon, so there’s  a bit of reading I’m anxious to get into.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

cold and humorless

with one comment

Well, here we are again.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

September 11th is the only thing that can make a New Yorker flinch, a subject which causes all of our carefully cultivated callouses to fall away. City people have thick skins, but the subject is still raw around these parts.

A world ended thirteen years ago.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

War came to New York City that day, and we weren’t ready for it. There were no air defenses at the ready in the defacto capital city of the United States that morning, when the Twin Towers fell. This is something one still finds stunning.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s to absent friends.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 11, 2014 at 9:56 am

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