The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘NY 11103’ Category

only crawl

with one comment

Astoria, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other night, while hanging out at my local pub here in the southern end of Astoria, some rough fellow accosted one with the usual “hey, what are taking pictures of?” thing. Bellicose, the gentleman began to advise me that I should spend my time photographing the skyline of Manhattan because “no one cares about Queens.”

He was rather insistent about this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is kind of rallying cry for me, this “no one cares about Queens” thing, and it’s bothersome to have to argue about it with some guy who – as it later turned out – had a largish back tattoo whose motif included a shoulder to shoulder swastika.

I’m all for political expression of course, but a Nazi in Astoria?

Conversation with amiable bartenders over the weekend revealed that there seems to be a small population of like minded individuals in the neighborhood. They’ve actually had to reprimand one fellow who liked to read passages from “Mein Kampf” out loud at the bar.

“Really?” was all I could say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s not strange that racists and other adherents to rather ugly philosophies can be found in Astoria. We’ve got Jihadi sympathizers on the ass end of Steinway Street, and those Greek “National Front” guys are here as well -heck- a few years ago I even ran into a small group of actual card carrying Bolsheviks who opined that the revolution was nigh. “Diversity” includes nut jobs and jerks too, it would seem.

Thing is – If you’re a racist, “politically” a racist that is, Astoria probably ain’t the sort of place you’re going to want to live in. It will be exhausting for you to merely identify or classify the human infestation hereabouts, let alone espouse a specific grievance about all the groups who are living and working here. We have everybody from Egyptians to Eskimos, Thai to Tibetan, Irish to Indian. There’s normal human prejudice and frictions encountered occasionally when these wildly different cultures rub up against each other, but Nazi’s?

How retro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Historically speaking, Queens has a rather checkered past on this subject. Members of what we would call the American Nazi party – the so called German American Bund – were rather active in the years leading up to the Second World War here in Queens (and especially so in Ridgewood and Bushwick).

These neighborhoods hosted a rather large German population back then, who referred to their communities in New York City as “Kleine Deutschland” and the “bund” was usually in tune – politically speaking – with their distant homeland. All of that fell apart during the Second World War and the American Nazi’s became associated with extreme elements of the Ku Klux Klan, and prison gangs like the Aryan Nation.

Hey, when you grow up Jewish, you develop a certain sensitivity to this sort of thing. Swastika bad.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 12th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 22, 2015 at 11:00 am

sidetracked once

with one comment

Death, annihilation, and hatred… in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is not in a good mood, so bitching will ensue.

Psychological firmament at the moment would be best defined as reminiscent of the general anger and malaise one enjoyed in the late 1980’s. A neighbor casually asked me the other night “Howz yooz doins, brah?” and my only answer emanated from that era with “What this City needs is a good plague.” If it weren’t for the physical cowardice and generally avoidant set of behaviors which rule me, I might stamp my feet and cry out loud at passerby. A desire to craft a sandwich board vest which announces the nighness of the end compels and overtakes. The train is crowded, and so are my thoughts.

Why is it so noisy all the time, and why is there no place to pee?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’d bring up the whole dumb idea of decking over the Sunnyside Yards with these innocent travelers whom I’d acost with the truth of our times, and check off a list of realities associated with the population whose arrival in Western Queens is already scheduled. Thing is, if one was to become overexcited and display the wild eyed zeal and abundant mania which typified the behaviors of times gone by, one might fall into one of his states and need to be taken to a trauma center of some kind and the nearest one is found in Manhattan at Bellevue.

How could I achieve carbon neutrality after spending a hour in an Ambulance in Manhattan traffic? Ow, my algorithm.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Would one opine about the corrosive effects that afternoon drunkeness and public vagrancy cause in the minds of kids in particular and the community as a whole? Here, on Broadway in Astoria, populations of fellows like the gentlemen pictured above spend their days and nights wandering about in a drunken haze. Public urination, defecation, and drinking are commonly observed. As well, one routinely has to wake them up when they pass out in his doorway. Whether you feel sorry for these chaps or hate them, why aren’t the Police policing them?

Would the presence of obvious brothels in storefront locations on the main shopping thoroughfare be mentioned, and would the seeming toleration of such establishments by the aforementioned local police come up as well? If you leave your car parked in the wrong place for just a few minutes, the gendarme are promptly on scene to issue a ticket. What about drunks sleeping in front of your grocery stores and in your driveways, or storefront whores performing their trade next door to the bagel shop?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“What this City needs is a good plague” was a standard answer for me when people asked “Howze it goin, dude” back in the 80’s. That era in NYC wasn’t the way that some are describing it these days, opining about “energy and vigor and…” It was a grimy shithole which had seen better days, where you took your life in your hands by getting off at an unfamiliar Subway stop. An era of “getting jumped” and “mugged,” when you’d routinely see trails of blood on the pavement which would lead you from place to place. Sometimes they’d lead back to a party, but you didn’t have to go far to find a house party somewhere in East Village back then. More often the trails would lead over the bridge from Alphabet City into Williamsburg, where a lot of people found themselves bleeding back then.

Meh, I’m going to go listen to some Black Flag.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 17, 2015 at 11:00 am

derided by

with one comment

Darkness, it’s all darkness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Friends and acquaintances mock me for always having a camera at the ready. When I walk my little dog Zuzu about for her daily inspections of the neighborhood here in Astoria, I’m carrying a camera. When Our Lady of the Pentacle and I go out for dinner, I’m “armed” with a dslr. It is virtually impossible for me to leave the house without the thing. Why? Your very best bet that nothing “interesting” is going to happen to you when out and about is to be prepared to record it, whether it be trouble or one of the wonders which Queens randomly sends your way. Accordingly, I’m always popping off exposures of “slice of life” stuff – such as the lineup of Boro Cabs moving down Astoria’s Broadway in the shot above. It’s exactly this sort of mundane stuff which I think will be important in the long term. Queens, as we know it, is probably not going to look much like this in twenty years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was captured while weaving home from a local bar, recently, after a “few drinks” ended up becoming a bit of a bacchnal that stretched well past its scheduled interval. One of those fiendishly loud private carting company packer trucks was following its route down Broadway, collecting commercial trash. Modern versions of this sort of truck are festooned with lights, creating an island of illumination around them. Unfortunately, the nocturnal necessities of the business it is engaged in also forces their crews to work as quickly as possible, which results in a terrific amount of noise and an outright disobeyance of traffic law and custom.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was captured in Astoria as well, at the extreme southern definition of the neighborhood at 34th avenue. A particularly dark spot, favored by Zuzu the dog for close inspection, made for a challenging capture. All of that experimentation in the fuligin depths of the Subway system which I’ve been engaged in has been in pursuit of this sort of photo, btw.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 11, 2015 at 11:00 am

glancing through

with one comment

Caution, everyone.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Famously, I wander the earth. There are few places that I won’t go. Photography and eventual postings at this, your Newtown Pentacle follow. When leaving the house, there are seldom objectives in mind, instead I literally just follow my path and keep the sun on my back. There are issues which one cares deeply about, with Newtown Creek at the paramount. For the last month or so, I’ve been talking to a LOT of people about the Sunnyside Yards and discussing my objections to the project proposed by the current Mayor which would deck them over and install the population of Albany atop them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Inevitably, sometime during the 21st century, some portion of the Sunnyside Yards will be so converted. Likely, it will be the area around 21st street – the so called Arch Street Yard. This is likely, as it adjoins the Jackson Avenue corridor leading from Queens Plaza to the Court Square neighborhood, a zone which is undergoing a radical amount of construction – as discussed in a recent posting at my Brownstoner column.

Thing is, Queens isn’t ready to handle the amount of people this will bring – from a hospital bed, school desk, police officer, fire fighter, transit, or sewage plant point of view. It’s a bad idea being propagated by a weak Mayor whose own electoral coalition is rebelling against him, and who has a terrible record of actually delivering on the affordable housing he offers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The effect that the Sunnyside Yards will have on my beloved Creek are somewhat terrifying, from a sewage runoff point of view. This is something I’ve been emphatically mentioning to all who would listen, which at this point is a significant number. Quite obviously, someone in City Hall has heard that I’ve been speaking out about this issue.

This is going to sound ridiculously paranoid, I realize, but the last few times that I went out for one of my long walks – I’ve been followed. I feel sorry for whomever has been assigned to do so, of course, as they’re being exposed to a ridiculous amount of pollution – but the surveillance hasn’t escaped me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last Saturday, while walking through Maspeth, a fellow – who I managed to get a shot of (the guy in the black jacket and jeans at the lower left hand corner of the shot, right by the Phelps Dodge property) – followed me for something like two miles. I ducked off the street into a bolt hole nearby Penny Bridge, and reappeared behind him, asking if he was lost and needed directions. His confusion at how to react was actually comical as I offered him walking directions by which he could reach the 7 or G from Review avenue. Yesterday, a plain clothes detective spent his day on the corner opposite my house, swiveling his head around, for something like six hours. I know that you know that I know, now.

You’re not being paranoid if someone is actually surveilling you, and I’ve noticed that they’ve noticed.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 10, 2015 at 11:01 am

nearby where

with 4 comments

This one just makes me angry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, the other day I’m walking up Steinway Street towards the Museum of the Moving Image to go shoot some party for my Brownstoner column. It’s not the sort of thing I’d EVER cover for your Newtown Pentacle, of course, but there you go. As I’m walking along, what seemed at first to be some sort of weird statuette in a store window began to move, and that’s when I noticed that this particular shop had a live and quite exotic bird living in its front window.

An extremely ill one, at that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Awww, hell. Cue the Sarah McLachlan music.

This poor thing had pecked and scratched itself bald. Our Lady of the Pentacle, upon examining these rather ugly photographs, offered that the bird likely has untreated mites or some other parasitic infection. It chest was quivering, and the beating of the heart and action of respiration was quite visible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I see a bloodied drunk laying face down in the street, I know what to do. Same thing with a fire, or car accident, or even who to complain to about excessive noise emanating from a commercial business. Smell the sewer? Spilt some oil? Yup, I can tell you whom to call and what to tell them. A sick bird?

Is it even my business, this? Who do you call? Sure doesn’t seem to be Police business. Am I meant to storm into the store and demand to speak to their Vet?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s just presume that this particular blog post is merely intended to point out that there seems to be a pretty sick bird, in a shop window on the west side of Steinway Street in Astoria, between 35th and 36th avenues. That bird… well, there might be certain signs that someone versed in handling this sort of situation could observe to find and help it.

I’m truly ignorant on the subject of avian veterinary health, perhaps that shivering miserable looking creature isn’t as bad off as it looked to me, and I’m simply over reacting.

Just saying.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

streaming out

with 2 comments

The law is an ass.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Frustrating, calling 311 is.

Having just spent thirty minutes attempting to report a violation of NYC’s anti idling law – there’s a large RV with a diesel engine parked in front of HQ, which also destroyed a series of branches of my street tree when pulling into its parking spot, and whose engine has been running for better than an hour – the 311 operator informed me that DEP would be out in ten days to investigate the report.

When one opined that the offending vehicle would likely not be there in ten days, and that this might be something properly assigned to the NYPD traffic unit for enforcement, the operator reluctantly agreed to inform the 114th pct. She suggested that I call 911 instead, but this sort of thing hardly qualifies as a Police emergency.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The process of calling 311 has gotten more and more painful over the years, and what was once a smooth point of contact between community and government has turned into a bureaucratic shit show. I had to make two separate reports with two different operators, and give them the same information twice. The street tree part of it went to Parks, and the idling complaint to DEP, when both are street enforcement actions best handled by NYPD ticket books. 311 now also insists on acquiring all the identifying information about the caller as possible, which is no doubt a) data mining and b) will cause me to think twice before calling 311 again. Meanwhile, an hour and a half after this vehicle parked in front of HQ – the engine is still idling.

I didn’t mention “who I am” on the call (because that’s kind of dickish), but next time I run into the Commissioner of the DEP, she’s going to get an earful about this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

People get after me for acting like an accusatory asshole towards our employees, but that’s the way that I perceive anybody from the Mayor on down who collects a check from the City. Speaking truth to power is my creed, and when these employees of ours screw the pooch, the boss has something to say about it. Their boss isn’t the Mayor, it’s you and me, and our employees are doing a shit job of late.

Citizen Mitch has seen something, said something, and the City damned well better do something.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 30, 2015 at 11:11 am

no end

with 3 comments

Queens Cobbler, have you no shame? A child?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For quite a while now, one has been noticing the abundances of single shoes arrayed on the sidewalks of Western Queens, and offered that there might be a serial killer walking amongst us whom I’ve christened as “The Queens Cobbler.” Should my supposition be correct, and that the singular shoes which litter our streets are in fact some sort of grisly trophy or taunt to the gendarmé left behind by a sociopath, then this person has finally crossed the line.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This infantile example was found on a lonely stretch of Newtown Road that spans the distance between Northern Blvd. and Broadway at the angle between Woodside and Astoria, and is the sort of shoe that an infant child would wear. It’s one thing for the Cobbler to be picking off adults, one would offer, but an innocent child?

For shame, Cobbler, for shame.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This more recent shot from Sunnyside is so much more your style, Cobbler, so why not just leave the kids out of this?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 20, 2015 at 11:20 am

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