The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Astoria’ Category

corporeal tenement

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Wind, snow, rats, egg rolls, fear.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting visualization of the locations where rats were reported in 2014 in the City of Greater New York, as presented by the Village Voice, was reviewed over the weekend. The health department and the writer of the piece focused in on the seeming correlation between the addresses of Chinese restaurants and the location of rat colonies. Officialdom and the Voice writer speculated on whether or not the rodents have a preference for Chinese take out. When viewing the map, I couldn’t help but notice that the shape of the rat infestations closely mirrored that of the NYC Subway system. Follow the critters through Queens, and you can trace out the path of the R/M, 7, and F lines rather neatly. Same thing with Brooklyn, where you can trace out the G tunnels. Just saying… these restaurants are either located above subway tunnels or are nearby the entrances to the system.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Personal observation of the Chinese restaurants here in Astoria, a few of which are on the Voice map, reveals that the owners of these establishments consider the corner sewer drain as a handy receptacle for the issuance of both fryer oil and the emptying of mop buckets. Rats love fatty foods (who doesn’t, after all?) and hang around the local sewer interceptors and underground vaults knowing that the good stuff will be coming soon. Thing is, my belief is that these sorts of anecdotes are coincidental to the real issue of where the rats are coming from – which are the MTA tunnels.

Ask anyone who lives in public housing – the worst landlord in the City of New York is actually the City of New York, which passes strict rules and enacts a series of fines on the citizenry to enforce them, rules which it does not find itself obliged to follow. Show me a New Yorker who hasn’t seen a rat in the Subway and I will declare them a one percenter who normally gets around town in the back seat of a limo. Show me an apartment house owner with black mold on the walls and no available heat or hot water, who never gets fined, and I’ll automatically tell you the owner is the City of New York.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After the snow finishes falling, look around tomorrow. You’ll be able to discern which properties in your neighborhood are owned and operated by the City simply by noticing which sidewalks haven’t been shoveled (with the exception of schools, courthouses, and anything within camera range of Manhattan’s City Hall). These City owned stretches of pavement will remain covered in snow, which will shortly compact down into a plate of milky colored, rotting, wet ice that will persist until the spring thaw. Sadly, many of these spots will surround Subway stations and bus stops. This is one of the things which “I don’t get” as even the Soviet Commisars acknowledged that they had certain responsibilities to the Proletariat. The connection between high volume restaurants and rats is actually a correlation of the proximity of these establishments to Subway infrastructure. Dealing with NYC’s rat infestation should begin with that which connects us all – the subway tunnels. Then, we should work our way up to the surface and blame the Chinese restaurants.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

terrible injuries

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Aching, painful butt? Get outside, I say.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, one forced himself off the couch, dared the frigid antibiome of Queens, and moved. Movement is difficult in this sort of weather, as one needs to swaddle himself in insulation. Sometimes I like to weigh myself unclothed, just out of the shower, and then get back on the scale after getting dressed. One recent day, I realized that I was wearing twenty seven pounds of clothes. We are all forced to carry baggage, I reckon, but no one is encouraging me to just sit on the couch so I picked myself up and went out – into the cold waste.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This crow was spotted over in Flushing, walking a cart of harvested alloys towards an Iron Triangle scrap yard for conversion into cash. He’s walking in a vehicle lane on the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge, which is ill considered – “vision zero” wise. Just before and about a minute after this shot was captured, vehicles moving at speed nearly struck him, dual events which really seemed to tick him off. The auto drivers offered the crazy notion that he should be using the pedestrian lane. Chalk this one up to “user error,” I guess.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Roaming into the park via the pedestrian bridge that connects the LIRR station with the Subway stop at Citifield, many sevens were present, but it was seven sevens that were focused upon. This is the MTA’s Corona Yard, which is next door to an MTA Bus terminal. All very exciting, except for the fact that due to track work, the train wasn’t running on the day I shot this and that I live way over in Astoria. Probably why there’s so many of them just standing around and apparently looking for something to do.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

lovely attribute

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Sneeze, cough, sneeze. Repeat.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is defined by my list of phobias and fears, and a long list of prophylaxes is maintained. Fear of an unwarranted accusation, fear of finding myself in the path of a madman, fear of falling victim to someone else’s incompetent or lazy habits. I’m afraid of being seriously wounded in a manner that cripples rather than kills, terrified by stray electrical current loosed into salty puddles of melted ice and snow, and incapacitated by the notion of being pushed in front of a speeding subway train. What slays me, however, is the phobic reaction I suffer to the realization of the number of pathogens I’m exposed to whenever I ride the subway (and I regularly hang around waterways which has been added to the Superfund list that are choked with sewage). The stress is enough to make me develop a rash.

from wikipedia

The skin is the largest organ in the body. In humans, it accounts for about 12 to 15 percent of total body weight and covers 1.5-2m2 of surface area. It distinguishes, separates, and protects the organism from its surroundings. Small-bodied invertebrates of aquatic or continually moist habitats respire using the outer layer (integument). This gas exchange system, where gases simply diffuse into and out of the interstitial fluid, is called integumentary exchange.

The human skin (integument) is composed of a minimum of three major layers of tissue: the epidermis; dermis; and hypodermis. The epidermis forms the outermost layer, providing the initial barrier to the external environment. Beneath this, the dermis comprises two sections, the papillary and reticular layers, and contains connective tissues, vessels, glands, follicles, hair roots, sensory nerve endings, and muscular tissue. The deepest layer is the hypodermis, which is primarily made up of adipose tissue. Substantial collagen bundles anchor the dermis to the hypodermis in a way that permits most areas of the skin to move freely over the deeper tissue layers.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The close quarters of the mass transit system, where the air you breathe was recently dwelling within the chest of someone else, causes a massive “flight or fight” response to blossom around three inches behind my sunglasses. People actually eat while riding these trains, after having touched various surfaces found both onboard and in the stations. Leaving behind the various inorganic contaminants found down here – the brake dust, carbon compounds released from failing electrical connections, powderized steel from the rails – you’ve got an aerosol teeming with virus and bacteria. On top of that, the micro biome which every member of the human infestation hosts – mites and other microscopic horrors – mingles with the personal ecosystem of others in these tight quarters. It’s a wonder that we aren’t eaten alive on the morning commute, and that trainloads of skeletonized cadavers don’t arrive from Queens at Manhattan’s 59th street every 10-15 minutes. One realizes that this is illogically phobic, but nevertheless, it causes me to become quite itchy.

from wikipedia

Scabies (from Latin: scabere, “to scratch”), also known colloquially as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infection caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The mite is a tiny, and usually not directly visible, parasite which burrows under the host’s skin, which in most people causes an intense itching sensation caused by an allergic response. The infection in animals other than humans is caused by a different but related mite species, and is called sarcoptic mange.

Scabies is classified by the World Health Organization as a water-related disease. The disease may be transmitted from objects, but is most often transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, with a higher risk with prolonged contact. Initial infections require four to six weeks to become symptomatic. Reinfection, however, may manifest symptoms within as few as 24 hours. Because the symptoms are allergic, their delay in onset is often mirrored by a significant delay in relief after the parasites have been eradicated. Crusted scabies, formerly known as Norwegian scabies, is a more severe form of the infection often associated with immunosuppression.

Scabies is one of the three most common skin disorders in children, along with tinea and pyoderma. As of 2010 it affects approximately 100 million people (1.5% of the world population) and is equally common in both sexes.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Realization that what I’m scared of the most is actually all of you torments and informs. One of my nightmares involves a packed train and some corpulent fellow whose skin is covered in bursting pustules whose yellowed issuance is tinted with tiny ribbons of blood. In my frenzied nocturnal hallucination, this citizen of the realm is infected with every possible disease of the dermis. A bit of his infectious spatter lands on my left hand, which I watch turn red, then yellow, then black as scarlet spider webs begin spreading up into my sleeve just as the train enters the tunnels which carry it beneath the river. Just at that moment when your ears pop due to the pressure of the water above, a brownish red liquid begins to drip out of my pants leg and a fever overcomes me. By the time the train arrives at my destination in the Shining City, there’s naught but a filthy black raincoat and a camera found sitting on a puddle of purplish goo upon the septic linoleum of the E train. Commuters just step over this liquefied but still humble narrator, of course, because no matter what obstacle New York City throws at you – you’ve still got to get to work.

from wikipedia

Leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions are the primary external sign. Left untreated, leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes. Contrary to folklore, leprosy does not cause body parts to fall off, although they can become numb or diseased as a result of secondary infections; these occur as a result of the body’s defenses being compromised by the primary disease. Secondary infections, in turn, can result in tissue loss causing fingers and toes to become shortened and deformed, as cartilage is absorbed into the body.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 13, 2015 at 11:30 am

splitting and chipping

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The Astoria Tumbleweeds doth roll about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The little trees which the human infestation tends to adorn their hovels with during the month of December pile up on the sidewalks around these parts during the first weeks of January, waiting for the wind to take them to new and novel locales. Just last week, one of the abandoned tumbleweeds was observed laconically rolling about in the middle of the street, for instance. Everywhere you go, the Astoria Tumbleweeds doth roll.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion carried me over to 36th avenue recently, nearby the Kaufman Astoria movie studio complex. That’s where the garish lighting affixed to the former Famous Players studio building, as seen in the shot above, was observed. One loves LED lighting, as the technology has allowed a new class of compact and inexpensive flashlights that possess incredible powers of illumination to find their way into my hands, but those color changing architectural ones have to go. You’ll notice these installations all over Astoria, and despite the splash of bright color, these LED color changing accent lights are somewhat lowbrow and tasteless, harkening one to remember the neon colors popular during the 1980’s – when it seemed that a box of highlighters had exploded and distributed their day glow inks all over the city.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, the DSNY has issued instructions for the proper disposal of the resinous holiday trees, designed to aid the agency in putting this lumber to good use via the process of mulching. Unfortunately, the heavy winds typical of January and the presence of hundreds of illegally converted basement apartments (wherein the residents of said units are instructed by landlords to hide their presence from City officialdom by placing household trash in the street refuse wire collection baskets) result in these discarded bits of holiday cheer rolling about the street. Thusly are the Astoria Tumbleweeds released back into the wild, and freed to roam about the neighborhood.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

trickling from

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Those Astoria Tumbleweeds… they’re back.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Friday the 3rd of January saw a humble narrator out early, as one had professional obligations to fulfill. While waiting for my breakfast sandwich to be assembled at a greasy spoon on Broadway, here in almond eyed Astoria, observation of a carefully placed and quite discarded Christmas tree occurred. It would have made the news if this coniferous corpse was placed in a bike lane, but instead…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The ever reliable DSNY has posted an instructive page here, which describes the proper procedure for disposing of holiday cheer. The municipal organization has a large mulching operation set up to aid in the disposal of the seasonal cultivar, and no where in its list of specificities governing the process does it say “throw it into the middle of the street.” Ahh, Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The purchase of breakfast complete, one did not have time to watch the thing roll about in the street. Rather a somewhat epic journey was undertaken, wherein the longest and most expensive possible route (using mass transit) to Brooklyn was undertaken. Why do you need to leave the Long Island, traveling through Manhattan, to arrive at a spot on the Long Island less than 7 miles from your starting point? It’s just silly.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

cold and cramping

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Lurid shimmerings of pale light, that’s what I’m about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The hours one spends marching about Queens are severely impinged upon by weather during the winter months, a fact injurious to both health and morale. A humble narrator attempts to fill the empty hours productively, but there is little solace for one such as myself in hours spent in the office. Perhaps relocating to a warmer climate is in order? That would mean that New York City had finally beaten me, and that a life long grudge match had been lost.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The various medications which my staff of doctors prescribe to manage those ailments which bedevil and weaken my material form have a certain downside -inducing a particular fragility to my homeostasis when the temperature dips down. Simply said, cold weather such as that which the City is experiencing is actually painful. Vital ichors run away from the extremities, and one begins to experience the sense of being in a long dark tunnel which terminates in a distant but brightly lit aperture. I call that aperture “April.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The hard reality of this, I’m only a quadragenanarian after all, has made me truly love to see the oil companies delivering the fuel that stokes all the furnaces and boilers. I propose a new secular holiday, one which celebrates the constancy and efforts of the oil truck man, without whom we’d all surely freeze to death. Brr.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 6, 2015 at 1:12 pm

titanic gateway

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3 top reasons that Listicles blow chunks, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You many have noticed a certain invective this week, aimed specifically at the so called “Listicles.” The phylum of Internet posts propagated by buzzfeed and other high volume sites which promise “5 things we love about” or “3 things we hate about” or “7 best moments in…” annoy me as they tend to dumb down the discourse and feed off of content created by others. One does not offer promises which will not be kept, but one oath which a humble narrator will swear to is that Newtown Pentacle will not be offering posts of that ilk to you in 2015. My plan for the year is to continue the current publishing schedule – 5 days a week, Monday to Friday, with posts arriving sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Add in my two posts a week at Brownstoner Queens, as well as my other obligations, and I think you’ll agree that my plate is rather full. Pictured above: one of the best lit USPS trucks on Northern Blvd in Queens, which is parked by a Best Buy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Goals for the new year are non existent. I have an odd desire to photograph Rockaway Beach during a blizzard, for some reason, but plans for the year are still forming up. When Spring comes, I’ll likely resume my walking tours of the Newtown Creek watershed and other area waterways, but nothing is definite or scheduled yet. I do have a certain something that I’m trying to cook up on Staten Island, but it’s too early to mention specifics on that one. One desire which I will admit to is to spend some time exploring the more easterly parishes of Queens a bit, scuttling past Maspeth and Jackson Heights and into the central districts of the Borough.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s plenty going on right here in LIC to keep an eye on, of course. The Degnon Terminal will be receiving a major facelift this year when LaGuardia Community College implements its capital program in January to reconstruct the facade of its “Building C” – the former “Thousand Windows Bakery” of the Loose Wiles company. Additionally, Tower Town has now extended itself all the way to Queens Plaza and there’s lots of new construction going on to keep an eye on. As always, however, My Beloved Creek will retain center stage in 2015.

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