The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘birds’ Category

somehow managed

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Some archive shots, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One surprising thing, as revealed by a recent spurt of ultra violent propaganda videos offered by certain extremist groups, is how easy it is to behead a human being. These terrorist fellows are using kitchen knives, it seems. I’ve known a couple of people who were employed as butchers, of the beef and pork sort, and they were fiendishly strong but man – those cabezas really just seem to pop right off with minimal effort. It seems like the only thing that poses any sort of resistance in the neck is the spine, which is sort of interesting to me. I once had a tooth extraction that went on for more than an hour back in the early 90’s, one which saw a stout 250 pound Hasidic Dentist prying the thing out of my head with a weirdly shaped set of pliers in some Brooklyn basement office over in Midwood. In retrospect, he could have had the whole head off in a few seconds, rather than just taking a piece out of it.

BTW, Here’s a NYC tip for you from a lifer - if you have to get a tooth pulled on New Years Day or Christmas, Hasidic Dentists don’t observe these holidays and they will generally be open or available to see you. The beard can be weird, especially with a Dentist, but my guy was wearing a hospital mask style bib over his.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The whole “beheading thing” however, has led me down a dark path while trying to research it. It seems that the reason northern European swords and Chinese Swords are generally pretty heavy is to bust the spine up whilst beheading. This led me to reading up on the whole “broken on the wheel” thing, and a general exploration of well known medieval practices that involve all sorts of ugly. All of this is horrifying of course, to a 21st century fellow who was lucky enough to have been born an American. The great thing about bullets, bombs, and all the other high tech goodies our culture utilizes to kill and behead is that we don’t have to get our hands all dirty.

Americans don’t chop off one head with some crappy kitchen knife, we blow a thousand heads off at a time in an increasingly accurate and cost effective manner. America is like Superman in many ways, the hardest part of any conflict is not utterly annihilating every living thing within the determined “kill box” and holding back from using all you’ve got.

Me, I’m a bit more Scipio Africanus in my outlook, and I happen to know where we can find large quantities of salt.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the years, I’ve been stabbed, slashed, gashed, lacerated, scraped – you name it – regardless, I still find it shocking how easy it seems to be take off ones head. Why the expense and bother of the Guillotine, then? Why does an executioner carry that ridiculous axe in Europe, or Scimitar in Turkey and Arabia? In China, they use a pistol, or the old bailey, I’m told.

Unfortunately, I did click on the link to watch that immolation video, which is freaking horrible. One thing that jumped at me, however, is that whoever put that thing together is a pretty talented video editor. Not necessarily Hollywood level, but pretty talented, but doomed. Apparently, Superman is coming.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm

powdered exquisites

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The state of the Newtown Pentacle.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever I’m not pouring coffee or whiskey down my throat hole, I seem to be fretting. I’m not playing guitar (fret… get it? Ha!), instead one is usually sweating what the next post is going to be either here at Newtown Pentacle or for Brownstoner. There’s also freelance projects – I’m still sort of engaged with the Red Hook people, for instance, and there’s the whole NY Harbor thing as well.

2014 wasn’t exactly a banner year, financially speaking, but I’ve been keeping pretty busy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A bunch of cool posts have been produced over the last year for the O’Connell Organization’s Red Hook Waterfront site which I’d encourage you to check out. I’m the photographer for nearly everything at that website, and act as primary writer on most of the posts, although they are often heavily edited (which is a part of the process on freelance jobs). 

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at Brownstoner Queens, I’ve got two posts a week to fill. Of particular note in the last quarter of 2014 was when I scooped the NY Times and every news source in the City, this post about getting high in LIC, this one about finding where you used to be able to find a pint of Guinness, Halloween in Astoria, and my reactions to the latest attempts at decking over the Sunnyside Yards. More recently, a walk led by Queens Borough Historian Dr. Jack Eichenbaum was attended out in Willets Point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I tweet the Brownstoner and Red Hook postings out whenever they appear, so if you use Twitter and care about staying in touch with my various offerings, click through to the link below and subscribe to my feed. You can also follow Newtown Pentacle in a reader like Feedly or whatever via the handy RSS Feed link at top right of this page. Additionally, there’s an email signup box at top right which will deliver these posts to you whenever one is published. An appeal is offered to you to please share these posts of mine, if at all possible, on your Facebook wall or on twitter.

There’s a bunch of buttons at the bottom of every post which makes it easy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A few people have asked me when the Newtown Creek tours will start up again, and my answer is purposely vague. It’s likely that we’ll get going again in April or thereabouts, but right now… brrr. The weather is too unpredictable and the possibility of ice and snow causing slip hazards along the way is too great. There’s a couple of interesting things cooking, but nothing definite enough to mention yet.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 23, 2015 at 11:00 am

rattling and beating

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Meshuggenehs, all of us.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting exercise was undertaken recently, which involved the peeling back of hardened scabs and callouses. Whilst browsing the vast interwebs recently, a link carried me over to YouTube. A recording of “The Howard Stern show,” which was broadcasting live during the September 11th attacks, was perused. The reactions of Howard and his crew to the attacks as they happened put me in touch with my own experiences that day, and opened up an old wound. This touched off a spate of reviewing broadcasts, both news and scripted drama, produced in the aftermath of the attacks. One remembers the emotional numbness of the time, when it seemed that nothing would ever be funny again, and the paramount question of that moment in time – raised over and over – was “why do they hate us.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All these years later, the answers offered by the entertainment industry – whether asked by the hosts of what passes for news in our nation or as interpreted by dramaturges – boiled down to “freedom.” Aside from a childish lack of knowledge about the actual foreign policy of, and an unvarnished look at the actions of the United States in the second half of the 20th century, what struck me was the notion we held about ourselves back then. The general gist of what folks wanted in the months following the attacks was to “unleash” the CIA, and to teach the rest of the world “who’s the boss.” I guess we’ve got that now – with our fleets of flying robot assassins, institutional torture, and a gulag in Cuba. If you’ve got the time, I suggest you scan the web in a similar fashion, as it’s an interesting thing to see what our world was once like and how far we’ve travelled in a very short time. Remember “freedom fries”?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An urban myth is put to rest, incidentally, in the shot above. “Ever notice how you never see a dead pidgeon” is the particular yarn, something I’ve heard repeated over and over. I see a LOT of dead pidgeons, and have photos to prove it. An urban myth which the September 11th attacks actually put to bed was the efficacy of the so called “Emergency Alert System,” whose tests interrupted television and radio broadcast throughout my childhood. It was nowhere to be found on 911, despite there being an actual emergency in my area. Additionally, the Emergency Alert System didn’t seem to activate during Hurricane Sandy either.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

heavy with shadow

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Flip ‘em da boid, Mickey.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All male gulls, were their language translatable, would tell you that their name is either Mickey or Lou. The Mickeys and the Lous would tell you that all female gulls are called either Maeve, Lorettta, or Jennifer. It’s a bird thing, at least in New York.

A bird thing which I don’t understand at all is that New York City itself doesn’t seem to have an official bird – although the State of New York does.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It was Governor Nelson Rockefeller who - on May 18, 1970 – signed a piece of paper in Albany which officially adopted the State of New York’s avian mascot. The Eastern Bluebird was selected, a bird whose very appearance instinctually conjures visions of “New York State” to its admirers… the Eastern… Bluebird… I don’t know if I’ve ever even seen one of these things. Ever.

If we’re stuck with the Bluebird for our State bird, I’d like to propose the Gull as our official NYC bird.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Strong argument can be made for the Pigeon, I hear you. Thing is, the Pigeon iconography is more closely associated with London than anywhere else, and NYC ain’t gonna be nobodies second best.

Hear me out - the Gulls have been with us every step of the way, historically. They scavenged from the garbage of Stuyvesant and Cornwallis, followed the trade routes north and west via the Hudson and Erie Canal to the Great Lakes, and they are absolutely thriving in the ruined modern environment of New York Harbor. That’s my kind of boid.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 4, 2014 at 11:00 am

uttermost fields

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Night shooting in DUPBO, Down under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, your humble narrator attended the first half of the North Brooklyn Boat Club’s annual “Rock the Pulaski” party. One arrived a bit early, staked out a spot of the bulkhead, and waited for it to get dark. Pictured above, obviously, is Frederick Zurmuhlen’s 1954 vintage double bascule Pulaski Bridge – owned and operated by the NYC Department of Transportation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While squeezing out tripod shots of the Newtown Creek scenery, this critter suddenly made an appearance. I’m told that it’s a juvenile Night Heron. It seemed to be doing some hunting, and was rather non-plussed when I attached the flash to my camera.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The bird was hunting worms, of the aquatic variety, and using a floating plank of wood as a platform from which to do so. That’s actually a peanut shell in its beak in the shot above. Apparently, Night Herons like peanuts.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A long exposure shot of the scene, looking towards Long Island City’s Hunters Point neighborhood, and the Vernon Avenue Street end. Once upon a time, the Vernon Avenue Bridge and the Newtown Creek Towing Company (and an Ulmer Brewery saloon) would have been in the center of the shot. That’s what it looks like at night, in DUPBO.

“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 22, 2014 at 12:00 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

spectral summer

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Damnation, hell, and other allegories plague my days.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a gull catching the free ride on the Staten Island Ferry, a critter smarter than me who says “why walk (or fly) when you can ride?” Severe fatigue marks this day for a humble narrator. A freelance assignment carried one out to storied Red Hook yesterday, a trip made remarkable by the atypically wonderful weather. Having clicked the shutter while pointing the camera at my intended targets, and not having much else to do for the afternoon, one decided to walk home to Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above depicts what the City looks like from the water, at night. Walking from Red Hook to Astoria sounds insane, I know, but it’s only about 10 miles from A to B. Along the way, one gets to witness the majesty of the East River while moving out of Red Hook, into Brooklyn Bridge Park, through Vinegar Hill, past the Navy Yard, into Williamsburg and Greenpoint, over the Pulaski into Hunters Point, and then the Queensbridge, Ravenswood, and finally Astoria neighborhoods are encountered in Queens. It takes around four to five hours to do this section of the western coast of Long Island.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Dutch Kills, above. When you return home, a little puff of steam is released as you doff your shoes. You really do feel it the next day, mainly in the lateral part of the hips, which is where my feeling of fatigue comes in.

It’s actually so silly cool a walk that I’m considering organizing a free event on the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, the 29th of November, and calling it the “Red Hook to Astoria Challenge.” This won’t be a tour, per se, it’ll be more of a hang out. More to come on this.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, August 16th, LIC’s Modern Corridor
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

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