The Newtown Pentacle

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Want to see something cool?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I got to go to South Brother Island with the Audubon Society once, whereupon these three presented themselves. Baby Cormorants, soon after this shot was gathered, the one on the right vomited half a fish at me. Baby birds are bastards, but they are cool looking.

Nature wants to kill you, and one should never be seduced by its beauty. That’s nature’s game, and it’s why our ancestors paved over everything in retaliation, which brings me inexorably back to Newtown Creek.

There are three public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and one that walks the currently undefended border of the two boroughs. I have another iron in the fire, which I’ll tell you about later this week. As you’re reading this, I’m likely on a boat with the Working Harbor Committee’s Education program, showing off the harbor to a group of high school students.

Plank Road, with Newtown Creek Alliance, on April 19th. This one is free, click here to get on the list.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th. Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th. Click here for more info and ticketing.

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soared lonely

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Deep thought in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is being written while waiting for representatives of America’s very worst corporation, Time Warner Cable, to show up. This particular drama, one which has been intermittently causing late or missed postings at this and other blogs throughout 2014 and part of 2013, crystallizes the horrors of allowing a services company de facto monopoly status with zero municipal oversight. If ever there was a company’s which needed “looking into” by regulatory agencies, Time Warner Cable is it.

from wikipedia

Self-ownership (or sovereignty of the individual, individual sovereignty or individual autonomy) is the concept of property in one’s own person, expressed as the moral or natural right of a person to have bodily integrity, and be the exclusive controller of his own body and life. According to G. A. Cohen, the concept of self-ownership is that “each person enjoys, over himself and his powers, full and exclusive rights of control and use, and therefore owes no service or product to anyone else that he has not contracted to supply.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Under the rule of the Little Big Mayor, companies such as this were allowed a somewhat free hand in their operations with little municipal oversight. Remember the Astoria black out of 2006, when ConEd was allowed a pass for not getting the lights back on for an entire week by the former Mayor? That was standard operating procedure for better than a decade, hopefully under the new Big Little Mayor, things will be different – but I’m not that hopeful about it. This is about Internet service, by the way, not TV.

from wikipedia

Existentialism is a term applied to the work of certain late 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual. In existentialism, the individual’s starting point is characterized by what has been called “the existential attitude”, or a sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd world. Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human experience.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Intermittent is how you’d describe the problems affecting my service. It’s what I told them on the phone. They sent a guy out to replace the cable modem. Problem continues. They send out a higher level tech, who says that the problem isn’t with the box. They send out a line guy. The line guy tells me that the problem isn’t on the pole, rather its the wires itself that are faulty. Today, as this is being written, I’m waiting for the wire guy.

Comcast, do you understand what kind of a turd you’ve bought?

from wikipedia

In philosophy, “the Absurd” refers to the conflict between (a) the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and (b) the human inability to find any. In this context absurd does not mean “logically impossible”, but rather “humanly impossible”. The universe and the human mind do not each separately cause the Absurd, but rather, the Absurd arises by the contradictory nature of the two existing simultaneously. Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible. And yet, some absurdists state that one should embrace the absurd condition of humankind while conversely continuing to explore and search for meaning.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 20, 2014 at 12:44 pm

damnably irregular

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A curious bird, spotted in this dirty old part of the city, where the sun refuse to shine.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other day, a squamous thing wrapped in a dirty black raincoat was sashaying down sturdy Jackson Avenue and enjoying the glamorous environs of the Court Square section while anticipating, with palpitant heart, entering Queens Plaza when an odd avian seized all attentions. That squamous travesty, your humble narrator and faithful chronicler of all things odd here in the “Borough that Time Forgot,” accordingly stopped dead in his tracks and reached for the camera.

What, exactly, is up with those red and yellow feathers?

from wikipedia

Pigeons and doves constitute the bird clade Columbidae, that includes about 310 species. They are stout-bodied birds with short necks, and have short, slender bills with fleshy ceres. Doves feed on seeds, fruits, and plants. This family occurs worldwide, but the greatest variety is in the Indomalaya and Australasia ecozones.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It all started when a path was being negotiated through a herd of these so called ferals. Birds know that no ill will is borne for their kind from one such as myself, and they seldom scatter when my path carries me through their chaotic gatherings on the pavement. This is an issue, as great effort is expended in the attempt not to crush or kick them while in mid step.

Whilst picking my way amongst them, one bird stood out from the pack.

from wikipedia

Feral pigeons (Columba livia), also called city doves, city pigeons, or street pigeons, are derived from domestic pigeons that have returned to the wild. The domestic pigeon was originally bred from the wild Rock Dove, which naturally inhabits sea-cliffs and mountains. Rock (i.e., ‘wild’), domestic, and feral pigeons are all the same species and will readily interbreed. Feral pigeons find the ledges of buildings to be a substitute for sea cliffs, have become adapted to urban life, and are abundant in towns and cities throughout much of the world.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Disturbingly heterogenous, Pigeons exhibit multitudes of colorations naturally, something the normal urban observer would readily acknowledge. Never has a bird of this speciation displayed anything like what’s depicted in these shots in my presence. A Pigeon with red and yellow wings is something new, to me at least.

Weird.

from phys.org

Various forms of a gene named Tyrp1 make pigeons either blue-black (the grayish color of common city pigeons), red or brown. Mutations of a second gene, named Sox10, makes pigeons red no matter what the first gene does. And different forms of a third gene, named Slc45a2, make the pigeons’ colors either intense or washed out.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It didn’t seem to be paint or dye, it should be mentioned, which would betray itself by causing the appearance of the feathers to be matted. This ain’t “photoshop” either, lords and ladies, as a note for the jaded or suspicious amongst you.

That’s a wild NYC Pigeon, with wings and a tail which are red and yellow, spotted on Jackson Avenue in Long Island City on the 9th of March in 2014 – just for the record.

from feralpigeonproject.com

Scientists have long wondered why feral pigeon populations show such plumage diversity compared to other feral animals. Generally, feral animals revert to the wild or ancestral type (in this case a blue-bar colouration), yet towns and cities are full of pigeons of a wide variety of colours. The question is, what causes this variation? Is it that female pigeons are choosing particular coloured males or vice versa? Are particular coloured pigeons more or less vulnerable to predation?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 14, 2014 at 11:30 am

peopled with

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Today’s post is for the birds.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One remembers that time when the world was not frozen, an era when water ran freely, and there were wholesome creatures which existed in the open air. Some of these entities were classified as birds, holdovers and descendants of the mega saurians who ruled the planet in antiquity, and these bird things were actually capable of flight. This was, of course, before Ithaqua was given regency over the planet, and before New York City began to resemble the Plateau of Leng.

from wikipedia

Ithaqua is one of the Great Old Ones and appears as a horrifying giant with a roughly human shape and glowing red eyes. He has been reported from as far north as the Arctic to the Sub-Arctic, where Native Americans first encountered him. He is believed to prowl the Arctic waste, hunting down unwary travelers and slaying them gruesomely, and is said to have inspired the Native American legend of the Wendigo and possibly the Yeti.

Ithaqua’s cult is small, but he is greatly feared in the far north. Fearful denizens of Siberia and Alaska often leave sacrifices for Ithaqua—not as worship but as appeasement. Those who join his cult will gain the ability to be completely unaffected by cold. He often uses Shantaks, a dragon-like “lesser race”, as servitors. A race of subhuman cannibals, the Gnophkehs, also worshiped him, along with Rhan-Tegoth and Aphoom-Zhah.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

We dwell within now, building walls thickened by ice, cowering in the glow of electrical lights – and the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself occluded by frozen clouds. In the gloom and slush outside, shapes move about. Some are huddled masses of textiles wrapped around stiffly articulated ape things, others are vast encrustations of sodium with metallic endoskeletons and four robustly cylindrical rubber feet. The latter spews noxious gas which paints the ice black, and the former have been observed attacking the precipitants with curious tools and devices.

Remember the birds, remember the birds.

from hplovecraft.com

Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places. For them are the catacombs of Ptolemais, and the carven mausolea of the nightmare countries. They climb to the moonlit towers of ruined Rhine castles, and falter down black cobwebbed steps beneath the scattered stones of forgotten cities in Asia. The haunted wood and the desolate mountain are their shrines, and they linger around the sinister monoliths on uninhabited islands. But the true epicure in the terrible, to whom a new thrill of unutterable ghastliness is the chief end and justification of existence, esteems most of all the ancient, lonely farmhouses of backwoods New England; for there the dark elements of strength, solitude, grotesqueness, and ignorance combine to form the perfection of the hideous.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Televisual news and information services operate in a fever pitch, describing roof collapses and downed power lines, informing and feeding a populace anxious for elevated states of emotion and experience. A new dark age is upon us, perhaps, and the foolish notion that the titans retreated out of weakness is proven out. Woe to you, mankind, for the great old ones of primal myth – those towering, all conquering masses that once ruled this planet have been awoken from their icy tombs and are on the move. The birds have survived them before, and likely will again, what of humanity however?

Leviathan, Jörmungandr, Tiamat - whatever your culture describes them as – these frozen giants whose very body can swell to continental levels – the Glaciers are returning. Lament!

also from hplovecraft.com

It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 5, 2014 at 12:47 pm

little visible

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It ain’t winter time this year, it’s Ragnarok.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s snowing again, so hooray! It was nice being able to leave the house again this weekend, which temporarily alleviated my status as a housebound invalid. Unfortunately, today’s snow caused one to cancel an appointment with the Manhattan based team of physicians that maintain the delicate balancing act which describes my physiology. Alas, putting myself into a hospital by visiting the doctor would be the sort of ironic consequence which has and does define the miserable life path of a humble narrator.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Dreams of tropical splendor suffuse my thoughts, although the idea of suffering insectivorous assault and the deprivations offered by fungal and bacterial infections of the skinvelope retards my desire for the warmth and blooming foliage of the equatorial band. Ultimately, everything wishes to eat something, and your humble narrator is apparently delicious to contagion and pestilence alike.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

How one misses the halcyon days of spring and summer, when gazing upon the world and recording its little lessons are governed only by the long interval between dusk and dawn. Winter is definitely not nepenthe to me, and I’ve had to reschedule the visit with my team of physicians. Later in the week, it seems, will be the day that I go to the Shining City to have wires attached and be subjected to the examinations of esoteric machinery.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 3, 2014 at 11:18 am

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