The Newtown Pentacle

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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

perilous experiences

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Shut your trap.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

2012 and 2013 seem to have been years wherein I spent more time in Greenpoint than I did in Queens, which is something that great efforts  in the name of correction have been made in 2014. Lost in soliloquy and pondering the meaning of itself, North Brooklyn has plenty of folks watching over it, while Queens screams for attention and there seems to be only me paying it any mind. Spotted on Steinway Street in Astoria, this yellow horse offers vainglorious thrills, although it is a shadow of what is possible in the world of equestrian statuary.

I do not think that the apogee of horse sculptures will offer rides for 50 cents, however.

from wikipedia

The Genghis Khan Equestrian Statue, part of the Genghis Khan Statue Complex is a 40 metre (131 ft 3 in) tall statue of Genghis Khan on horseback, on the bank of the Tuul River at Tsonjin Boldog (54 km (33.55 mi) east of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar), where according to legend, he found a golden whip. The statue is symbolically pointed east towards his birthplace.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On Newtown Road in Astoria at its intersection with 41st street, one notices a rare artifact of an earlier age.

An uninterrupted block of Matthews Model Flats ends with a wrap around corner that hosts a commercial shop on the first floor. My network of Croatian informants tell me that they remember nothing about the storefront ever being anything other than what it is now, an electrician’s location, and one hopes that some Astorian reading this post can help fill the rest of us in on the past history of the spot.

from mas.org

The Mathews Model Flats were built by speculative developer Gustave X. Mathews and designed by Louis Allmendinger in the early part of the 20th Century. Considered to be some of the most innovative housing in the city, these “new law” tenements were designed with more space and better sanitation than their overcrowded 19th Century counterparts.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally- a shot from Brooklyn’s Bushwick, or East Wiiliamsburg as the Real Estate people call it.

This is the dead bang end of Newtown Creek - actually, its tributary English Kills.

More and more of the people I encounter from this neighborhood are coming down here, seeking vicarious thrills and “disaster tourism.” Some are actually dragging boats and kayaks through the sediments to get into the water.

Lords and Ladies… English Kills is an open sewer, and one of the most polluted spots in New York City if not the planet. I know a whole lot about what’s going on back here and try to limit my exposure to this spot down to 3 or 4 times a year. There’s a reason that the Feds are going to spend hundreds of millions to clean things up. If you’re going to insist on boating in Newtown Creek, please launch from someplace safer. Please?

from habitatmap.org

People using the creek for recreational purposes such as swimming and boating may come into direct contact with chemical contaminants and harmful biological organisms. People may come in contact with contaminants present in the shallow creek sediments while entering or exiting the creek during recreational activities.

“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.

from places

with 5 comments

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

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