The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

bewildering jarring

with 3 comments

Today’s post is of an entirely pedestrian manner.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For about a year, I’ve been noticing this odd pattern all around the Newtown Pentacle, wherein a seemingly discarded single shoe is left conspicuously placed. As mentioned often, my particular curse is to notice everything, and these castaway garments have captured no small amount of my attentions. What’s odd about this is not that someone is discarding an item in the street, a common enough occurrence, its that shoes come in pairs and you seldom discharge one from service but keep its antipode. The boot in the shot above was in Astoria, at the corner of 43rd street and 34th avenue.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, or DUPBO as I refer to it, is a spot beloved by those that engage in the native art form of Queens- illegal dumping- and it is unsurprising to see entire wardrobes of clothing abandoned here. I once saw an entire dining room set down here, posed as if it was awaiting the gathering of a family to dinner.

Yet, once again, you find a single shoe.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as the weather began to warm up in 2013, a change in the pattern was observed.

Suddenly shoes began to appear in matched pairs.

This shot is from Northern Blvd. nearby Steinway Street in Queens. At first, it seems almost normal, just a pair of abandoned shoes. Unfortunately, that’s what triggers another of my curses- which is to ask “Why?” Why would somebody remove their shoes on a busy glass strewn road, and in front of a gas station? What is the logical chain of dominoes which fell into place that brought this footwear to this particular spot? Was it the Rapture?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Presumptively, the fellow who carefully placed this abandoned set of kicks on 30th avenue and 45th street had another pair ready to go, but why not change them out at home? My habits, at least, include the sustained usage of footwear when out of the house. It is one of my deeply held beliefs that unless you’re arriving at the beach, park, or a pool and find yourself removing your shoes when out of the house- you’re either in need of medical attention or being arrested and searched (or visiting someone who made the calamitous decision to buy light colored carpets). I stay laced, but that’s me.

I grew up in a version of New York which considered smashing beer bottles on the sidewalk as being huge fun, and a City in which wearing heavy boots was an absolute necessity which had nothing to do with fashion.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The pair above were encountered in on Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside, and for once I had a witness along (Hi Tim) who can attest that they were neatly set out upon a stoop. Probably some generous soul, we surmised, setting out used shoes for the needy. Still, I wonder, and need to invoke my secondary curse. “Why”?

Personally, I have never set a pair of shoes on the curb with such a motive, and am puzzled by the offer of such back handed charity. Also, having personally known “the needy”, I can report that I’ve never seen one of them grab a pair of curbside shoes and say “huzzah.”

What is the worst part of going bowling, and if you need to wear someone else’s shoes, would it be any of these?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other day, on Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn- nearby Greenpoint Avenue and the Newtown Creek- a single shoe awaited me as I shambled past. It was sporty model, meant for a right foot. Back to my first curse, the one which compels me to carry a camera around and obsessively record everything encountered, and an odd detail about each and every shoe displayed in these shots- which is that they all have their laces arranged neatly.

Just to reiterate my belief that there’s something odd going on here, and demonstrate that this is “a thing” – check out the great Cecil Adams over at “The Straight Dope” struggle with the phenomena.

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 27, 2013 at 1:28 am

3 Responses

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  1. When Ed Sullivan introduced his Sunday night extravaganza as “Ladies and Gentlemen, tonight we have a reaaaally big “shoe” for you. . . .”, why could he not pronounce correctly the word “show”? Was it a speech defect he had?. A particular regionalism? The influence of alcohol? I never heard anyone else, anytime, anywhere pronounce “show” as “shoe”. Have you?

    georgetheatheist . . . equally arcane

    June 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm

  2. single shoes looking for a single sock

    araneus1

    June 29, 2013 at 10:20 am

  3. […] interest in the phenomena of the single shoe was piqued when it was noticed that were in fact 4 different shoes in this pile, none of which […]


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