The Newtown Pentacle

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lavishly laden

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Parked on my block, a childhood aspiration.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last was a challenging day, and after performing certain actions and accomplishing a few obligations one headed back to HQ back in Astoria. Upon arriving on my block, one discovered a true American relic parked on the street – a 1980 Pontiac Trans AM!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular line of automobiles held a sacred place in my teenage heart, although I favored the black variant with the gold eagle on the hood made famous by Burt Reynolds in the “Smokey and the Bandit” franchise of films back then (& now).Remembrances of building more than one plastic scale model of the 1980 Trans Am over the years comes to mind.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Competition in the form of the Camaro forced a change in body design sometime later in the 1980′s, a period of time when the American auto industry first lost its way and began the process of homogenizing their lineups. In the end, the Camaro and Trans Am became nearly identical fiberglass bodied vehicles.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The late 70′s and early 80′s Trans Am’s were late in the game muscle cars, driven hard by young drivers (guys mostly), and this one looks as if its been well taken care of bit did have a whole lot of cosmetic issues. Its amazing seeing one of these at all, as this is a thirty four year old car.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the middle 1980′s, there used to be an impromptu drag strip which drew fast cars and idiot teenagers together on a backwater street found somewhere between East New York, Starret City, and Howard Beach which is called Fountain Avenue. I used to go there occasionally, and watch a few races. It’s since been resurfaced with a series of waves to discourage the racing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One night, some guy driving a souped up Trans Am floored the gas pedal when the flag dropped, signaling the start of the race. Spinning, his wheels produced a choking veil of smoke until the tires caught traction. It was all very dramatic. At the end of the course, which was the equivalent of about two blocks away, his rear wheels were still smoking and one had little wisps of blue flame at its base.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Illegal drag racing aside, I still want one of these cars, and the logo you see on the hood of this car is the singular image which one would consider getting as a tattoo. This logo is all hot dogs and coca cola and fried chicken and pretty girls who are wearing bikinis and cowboy hats while they’re playing baseball and some guy drinks Budweiser and smokes a Marlboro while thinking about … you get the idea.

Welcomes to Astoria, we got yer Americana, rights overs heres, bro.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

simple minded

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Fireworks in Queens, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 4th, my neighbors Mario and Dario and I climbed up the little ladder which leads up to the roof hatch and surmounted our building. Arriving up at tar beach, we discovered that just about everyone else in Astoria had the same idea. Our view of the horizon and the Macy’s Fireworks show on the East River was hopelessly occluded, but who needs Manhattan’s little spectacle?

Queens never disappoints.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Off in the direction of Old Astoria, where the Triboro and Hells Gate Bridges can be found, the neighborhood was oddly quiet. There were the occasional detonations, as pictured above, but by Astoria standards – not too much was going on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It was the to southeast where the action was going on, and it seemed that Woodside was competing with Sunnyside and Maspeth from my vantage point.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

from places

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A nap, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This fellow, who was enjoying a nap on the sidewalk of Broadway in Astoria recently, is part of that large group of day laborers who congregate around a paint and hardware store found on the north side of the street between 41st and 42nd. These fellows are just looking to pick up a little work, and many are familiar faces in the neighborhood. Recently, the Salvation Army has been showing up to feed them, which has drawn a few ferals into their group.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s always been a certain “edge” to one or two of these guys, but again, what a man does to earn a living is his own business until it affects me. There’s a good amount of beer (and pizza) consumed by those unlucky enough to have not made the cut who are still on the scene in the afternoon. Old or small or unsavory, these are the guys who weren’t chosen by those passing contractors that employ the group as day laborers, but… working guys default to drinking beer. Some, like this gentleman, prefer the harder stuff and this is becoming an increasingly common sight in Astoria. Some guy passed out on the sidewalk, insensate and with the bottle in his hand, in full view of passing kids.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator is no virgin on the subject of spirits, lords and ladies. One was once able to quaff vast amounts of the stuff, spending entire days in the fog of youthful bacchanal, but not once did I ever find myself unconscious on the pavement (and I really, really tried). The idea of falling asleep on the streets of New York City like this… is terrifying. After capturing these shots, I walked over to the captain of the day labor crew, a fellow adorned with butterfly and “13″ tattoos (he acts as translator for the largely Spanish speaking group) and offered “Yo boss, y’all gotta help your man out, he gonna get clipped.” These guys do try to look out for each other, and a couple of them scooped the drunk up and dropped him around the corner, placing him in someone’s driveway so as to provide cover from police attention.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are three Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Sunday, June 21st, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 18, 2014 at 10:39 am

to assent

with 2 comments

Take a breath every now and then. Shhh.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Astoria can kick up quite a racket, which is my primary complaint at the moment. The not so accurate decibel meter on my phone tells me that the zone around my house is subsumed by a constant din of 60-70 decibels, which can amp up to as high as 80-95 on a regular basis. That’s just ambient noise, I’m not including the passing ambulance, fire engine, or police car in those calculations.

It’s enough to cause one to lose his last nerve, I tell you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Sonic pollution is something that doesn’t seem to register with New Yorkers, and most folks try to “tune it out.” What can you do about it? “That business with the bank of refrigeration units in its yard was here before you were” was what one of my neighbors opined when we were having a “kvetch.” There’s actually a LOT that I can do about it, but I try not to use the relationships with environmental officialdom that I’ve got lightly.

Luckily, there’s always Astoria Park to escape to, but it’s actually pretty noisy there too.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Seeking quiet, I walked over to Luyster Creek with a couple of friends recently and found this impromptu memorial. Set up to commemorate the death of those poor kids who drove into it a couple of months back, I see too much of this sort of thing all over the neighborhood. You’ll recall that a group of high schoolers met their end back here, when their vehicle left the road and the car landed in the drink.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s two FREE Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Sunday, June 15th, DUPBO – Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Sunday, June 21st, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

odd sense

with one comment

Here’s some of yer vibrant diversity right over dere.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this Frankenstein monster on Broadway, at the angle between Woodside and Astoria, recently. That’s an electric delivery motorcycle, although legally speaking it’s a bicycle or moped, with two supermarket shopping carts that are welded together and forming a caboose hitched to a homemade hinge on the back of the bike. Seriously speaking, the engineering of this arrangement is staggeringly competent, and this is a precise example of “American Ingenuity” parked on the sidewalk.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Friends in Manhattan, some of whom work for the City in regulatory positions, always make accusations that your humble narrator has a vivid imagination. That the circumstances and inventions witnessed on the streets of Queens, improvised by those who don’t have two pennies to rub together and which are cobbled together from available materials, cannot possibly exist. I remind them that a future president of the United States is sitting in a carriage on Roosevelt Avenue eating a Churrasco, and that her parents came here as undocumented immigrants.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There’s a Newtown Creek walking tour, and a Magic Lantern show, coming up.

Saturday, June 7th, 13 Steps around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Wednesday, June 11th, Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show with Brooklyn Brainery.
Click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 2, 2014 at 12:47 pm

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