The Newtown Pentacle

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culminating horror

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The bus… I took… The bus

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Dedicated pedestrian that I am, utilizing any sort of mass transit is an admission of defeat. Bus travel, in particular, is something I’m fairly phobic about. Part of this comes from an experience mentioned in yesterday’s post, wherein a young narrator found himself caught up in a 1980’s race riot on the B78 back in Junior High School, which left an indelible psychological scar upon me. A significant part of my distaste for Bus travel also emanates from the fact that for many years, I lived in a exurb section of Brooklyn that had no train service and that I had to commute to the City using so called express buses. One cannot describe the wasted hours spent writhing at the back of the bus, riding to practically the last stop, nor the distaste that persists in me to this day regarding the usage of said conveyance.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, living in and traveling around Queens often involves the usage of motor vehicles rather than Subways to get around. The train is fantastic for getting into Manhattan, but unless I’m headed for Flushing or other eastern locations, there’s a vast swath of Brooklyn and Queens which is strictly “car country.” For instance, getting from Astoria to Ridgewood (roughly a 4 mile distance) by Subway involves an hour plus trip which loops through Manhattan, while taking a bus there takes around 30 minutes. Yes, I could purchase an automobile, but HQ is three stops from the City here in Astoria and I cannot justify having a car so close to the center of the entire universe.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the sort of thing I associate with “the bus.” An example of the retired model which once populated the MTA Bus Company’s fleet when a humble narrator was but a lad. As to why I found myself on the bus… Let’s just say that after two weeks of rain and sitting on my derrière – the walk from Astoria to, and around, Roosevelt Island took a bit longer than expected and it was growing dark. One does want to find himself out after dark in the Ravenswood neighborhood because… y’know… vampires.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm

many corridors

with one comment

Thursday? Hell yeah, Bro. THURSDAY!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Stupidly, last night one was sharing his nascent plans and aspirations for the coming year with Our Lady of the Pentacle. Our Lady is more than supportive of me, that’s not what was stupid. Instead it the falsehood that one such as myself has any control, whatsoever, over either his near or long term future. The captain of this ship offers that the old adage “life is what happens while you’re making other plans” sort of rules the roost, and that control of the wheelhouse is up for grabs.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, I allowed myself to have aspirations, most of which were vainglorious. Youthful vagaries turned into middle aged regrets, and those regrets have hardened into diamonds as time has gone by. At least there is some treasure for the old dragon to hoard, although there isn’t exactly a market out there slavering for regret diamonds and every time I try to breathe fire it brings on a jag of coughing and a runny nose.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There is desire, though, so I know I’m not dead. Some sort of adventure is required, and soon, however. A humble narrator feels like a ferret in a cage, thanks to these multiple weeks of non stop rain which have forced both myself and the camera into a sort of domestic incarceration. Desperation for a stimulating or exciting experience usually forces me into some sort of extreme at this time of year. In the meantime, I’m still working my way through Robert Caro’s “Power Broker” biography of Robert Moses, which is a very, very good book.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 11, 2014 at 11:19 am

been traversing

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I hate Mondays.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The short intervals of time when torrential rain was not falling in the last week have been quite productive for a humble narrator, as my post vacation energy levels have remained rather high. Unfortunately, the aforementioned inclement weather has been a bit of a drag. Saturday found me out and about, and by the time that a return to HQ was accomplished both my filthy black raincoat and camera bag had become thoroughly saturated with precipitants. A short visit to my beloved Newtown Creek confirmed that the CSO’s (combined sewer outfalls) had been barking into the waterway. E’au de Creek, indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Another brief moment between the storms found me on Broadway, here in almond eyed Astoria. A fellow decided that he could beat a Skaggs Walsh oil truck to the corner, both were attempting to turn right, when he discovered that his calculations of velocity and mass were skewed. The oil truck was unscathed, as it is literally and figuratively a tank. The fellow in the car, however, required the services of a tow truck and body shop after the encounter. Another “accidental.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at my Brownstoner column, the latest attempt to deck over the Sunnyside Yards is discussed in a post called “NIMBY.” For all of us who live here in Queens, the renewed interest in decking over the yards by the elites of Manhattan is a shot across the bow. The development plans currently approved and underway – Hunters Point South, Flushing Common, Astoria Point, Hallets Cove – will be bringing us close to 40,000 new neighbors in the next decade. Decking over the Yards to allow Manhattan its long desired jettisoning of the Javitz Center from midtown, and exporting it to Queens just stinks. Another example of an ugly something that the City people don’t want which they want to stick Queens with, just like their garbage. If at all possible, please click through to the NIMBY post and share it to your twitter and or Facebook accounts, as we Queensicans need to get mobilized on this topic.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 8, 2014 at 11:48 am

states suggested

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Drunkard of the week.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Back to the Kvetching, lords and ladies, and things that are definitively not alright.

This fellow spent a lovely afternoon dozing in the sun, in an obviously inebriate state, at the corner of 41st and Broadway in front of the Loyal order of Moose building. He was sleeping one off, by all appearances. This shot was captured around 6:45 in the evening, but I had spotted him in the same spot earlier in the day, around 2 p.m. Nearly five hours.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

During the late afternoon, and into the early evening, vast numbers of people walked by this man. Mothers and children, old ladies and new immigrants took in the spectacle as they passed by. Hundreds of automobiles stopped at the red light on the corner, with this napping fellow in plain sight and actually illuminated by a setting sun. How many of those cars, I wonder, were driven by the Police?

How is this oft observed behavior in the public space OK, and shouldn’t some member of the Gendarmé have checked to see if this guy was dead or alive?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow singled out in today’s post is part of a small population of inebriated gentlemen who frequent the Steinway and Broadway intersection. A small population of junkies also seem to be favoring the corner of late, with many encamping themselves at the Library. Anybody who lives hereabouts will tell you this, yet, few complain or “kvetch” about it.

“What can you do about it? Don’t start trouble”- that’s the Astoria motto.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A shot from around 7:50 or so, when I was making my way back home. This guy actually gets more sleep than I do, by all appearances, and he remained unmolested by the Police or the people in the shops for more than 5 hours. All the while in public view from an intersection. There was a guy sleeping around 2 on the opposite corner, but he had removed himself by the time I came through around 6:45.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Sunday, August 3rd, Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 1, 2014 at 2:58 pm

dwell along

with 3 comments

Ah, to retreat into the comforting ignorance of a new Dark Age…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The human infestation has got me down today, lords and ladies. Foibles, faults, and the mysteries of the utterly ‘effed up cloud my perceptions, and a humble narrator is ready to wash his hands of this fetid excuse for a life. Unfortunately, existence is a giant shit sandwich from which we all must, in fact, take a bite. It’s probably all my fault anyway, it usually is, so perhaps it would be best if I just avoid any further interaction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A prevailing and ongoing critique of my personality and habits as offered by loved ones and strangers alike is why I am largely nocturnal, existing in twilit grottos and forgotten places, and why I frequent the abandoned and irredeemable edges of civilization. If it wasn’t for Our Lady of the Pentacle and my little dog Zuzu, I’d likely become an urban legend that grade school children mention in hushed whispers around camp fires. “Did you know that there’s a hermit with a camera living in that abandoned coal mine?” would be what summer campers asked each other. My golden arm, indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Human interaction is something which I’ve never seemed to master, despite my studied and best efforts. Perhaps I should seek out the services of mental health professionals and secure a supply of some numbing agent, retreat into an Aldous Huxley-esque SOMA haze, and just enjoy my days lost in a narcotic bliss. This is what most do, why not me too? Perhaps I should just retreat into the ignominious shadows, a penniless mendicant doomed to wander the concrete devastations of the Megalopolis. Bah. If you see me today, it would be wise to avoid all contact.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

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

valley and grove

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Why do they only turn the air conditioners on when the trains reach Manhattan?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

If you live in the 80% of New York City that is not Manhattan, there is little doubt about the inequality exhibited by those who rule over the shining city when it comes to cutting up the municipal pie. The rest of us get to deal with Manhattan’s garbage, traffic, sewage, and everything else that they want to pretend isn’t a problem. Unfortunately, we need to go to work, and the vast majority of jobs are “over there.” What I can’t understand is why the air conditioning on the trains only seems to get switched on when the subways hit the East River Tunnels.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The ridiculous life I live routinely carries me all around the City, just last week I was in every borough but the Bronx, and found myself on something like 8 different train lines. Without exception, the AC was cut off when leaving Manhattan or turned on when entering it. I could accept this practice if it was close to the end of the line, like the Astoria elevated station pictured above, but an E train entering Queens Plaza has already travelled a considerable distance when it arrives at the station.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s likely a technical reason, or some union exemption, which necessitates that passengers sweat it out on the way to work. Perhaps it’s Sandy, or concerns about terrorism, which demand that the climate controls on the Subway remain off when the train is outside Manhattan. Either way, always remember that the Borough motto of Queens is “Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.”

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

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 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

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