The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Steinway Street’ Category

once noble

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An archive shot from 2007.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

We call them “Shwarma Joe” but that’s not their name. This food cart has been operating at the corner of 34th Avenue and Steinway Street in Astoria for as long as I’ve lived here. They do a Halal menu, and offer one of the more affordable lunch options in the neighborhood. I favor the Chicken Kabob wrap myself, sans white sauce. This is an archive shot, as mentioned, captured during the heady days of the second Bush administration. Shwarma Joe never called their offerings “freedom fries,” however.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2013 at 9:43 am

known gods

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It certainly has been quite an interesting life.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

No man is a failure who’s got friends, or so they told George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Homespun aphorism and Capraesque cliche notwithstanding, I would argue that having the wrong friends is a wholly different sort of failure which far outweighs the dollars and cents of conventional success. A loner, malcontent, and altogether difficult and argumentative know it all- your humble narrator’s few acquaintances tolerate my presence, but only in small doses.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You’ve got to use it or lose it, but what if you never had “it” in the first place? One such as myself, bereft of natural advantages such as speed, grace, strength, or athletic prowess on any level knows full well the shame of fumbling, stumbling, and or striking out. The only advantage possessed by me is a rat like cunning, although given my standing amongst the humans it would be logical to presume that I would make a poor specimen of Rattus rattus.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Like some ancient mariner lost upon the storm tossed waves go I, lashed to the frozen deck of a broken life. My wants and desires are nonexistent beyond the purely existential issues of food and shelter, as I have long ago given up pursuit of material success. There is no plan, things just happen, and the daily round is just a series of dull events. Your humble narrator is not at all driven by avarice, vainglory, or ambition in the ways that most are. Just think of me solely as the battered, the disabused, the disenfranchised, and always an outsider- if you feel the strong urge to categorize or quantize me.

Upcoming Tours

Saturday – October 19, 2013
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek with Atlas Obscura- tickets on sale soon.

Sunday- October 20th, 2013
The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek with Brooklyn Brainery- tickets on sale now

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inexplicably weaker

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Today’s posting comes direct to you from Astoria, Queens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a short posting today, a couple of scenes recently recorded here amongst the blessed slopes of raven tressed Astoria. The couple shown in the shot above were observed on Steinway Street, taking an afternoon nap on one of the many new benches recently installed. Scenes reminiscent of the one above are the reason that the Koch administration removed this form of street furniture around the City in the first place, back in the 1980’s, as I recall.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Strongly contrasting with the first shot is this amazing hot rod Corvette parked just a few blocks away nearby Northern Blvd. Upon observation of this well appointed automobile, a humble narrator began to gibber and jump with acrimony over the fact that it is not his. It is high time that I have a midlife crisis, and this car would fit the bill for my last grasping attempts at youthful abandon. I would call it the Mitchmobile, and would be heard loudly and atonally singing “na na na Na Na, Wax-man” whilst touring the Newtown Creek at a thousand miles per hour.

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

inexorably crawling

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

One is fascinated by the automotive corridor through western Queens that is known as Northern Blvd. It is literally an “automotive corridor” as in the sense of it being a busy vehicular roadway, but it is also an industrial corridor which speaks of a forgotten moment in NY history when automobiles were manufactured in the five boroughs. This is largely a start of the twentieth century sort of thing, of course, but it was a pretty big deal back in the 1920’s.

That’s before the American auto industry consolidated itself around the City of Detroit, of course.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Standard Motor Products is still located at the corner of Steinway/39th street and Northern, of course, but they don’t make anything here anymore- it’s just offices. At that, SMP only uses a small section of their former factory, which famously carries a modern day rooftop farm at its crown. This “history of the automobile industry in Queens” thing is a topic which has been gathering steam and certain interest for your humble narrator of late, but my research has only just begun and intelligent presentation of fact is still far off in the future.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There is still a significant amount of auto related commerce going on around these parts, but it’s all about sales these days, not manufacture. An incalculable number of used… sorry… industry parlance is “pre owned”… cars are available along that stretch of Northern Blvd. which sits happily between Queens Plaza and the Grand Central Parkway. Something I’m working on, one of many background tasks and research projects performed and underway here at Newtown Pentacle HQ.

cursed season

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

During the snow storm on Friday, Our Lady of the Pentacle indicated that she had become a bit peckish and desired a meal. Unfortunately for us, many of the restaurants here in Astoria had wisely shuttered their doors early.

Accordingly, we set off across the frozen waste to find acceptable comestibles. Naturally, one brought a camera along with him.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This will be a week of darkness explored, here at your Newtown Pentacle.

As mentioned in an earlier post, an effort to betray normal sensibility and habit is underway, one of which is to shoot during the optimal hours of diurnal light. Nocturnal Astoria was fairly deserted, at least by Astoria standards, and an eerie pall of quiet hung about the place- punctuated only by the sound of plows and salt spreaders and the occasional exhalations of Spaniard revelry.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Small groups picked their way through the snow, as an obscuring miasma of wind blown ice particles occluded vision. It was not particularly cold, oddly enough, just windy. Road salt lent an oddly oceanic scent to the air, which mingled with those foul humours rising up from the subterranean sewage tunnels underlying the street.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A fine icy powder as it fell, the snow hardly interfered with my lens, as it did not cling to the glass. In the end, it was the always reliable Politos Pizza on Broadway just off Steinway which satisfied the gastronomic urges of Our Lady and myself. An alcoholic drink was procured next door at the venerable Cronin and Phelan pub for dessert.

At only ten at night, the barkeep announced last call, an indication that the storm was growing worse- for if a NYC Irish bar is closing up early…

Also:

Remember that event in the fall which got cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy?

The “Up the Creek” Magic Lantern Show- presented by the Obscura Society NYC- is back on at Observatory, on February the 15th- This Friday.

Click here or the image below for more information and tickets.

lantern_bucket

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 11, 2013 at 12:15 am

reflecting ribbon

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots emanate from a time in the past, an era when a young George W. Bush taught us all how to laugh. The colorful display, unfortunately, no longer graces the tableau found at the intersection of Northern Boulevard and Steinway Street. A car wash still inhabits the spot, but the variegated signage has since been removed and replaced by the banal.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The prevailing light and atmosphere of 2012’s last couple of weeks is epitomized, I think, by the shot above. A sincere desire to drink in chromatic splendor demanded that the first shot in today’s post be displayed, in order to break up the fungoid monotony of December.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 29, 2012 at 12:15 am

clammy mass

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Mayan Apocalypse Countdown: just 6 days left until the 13th b’ak’tun ends, initiating the Mayan Apocalypse on December 21st. Tick, tock.

Recent announcements by the reknowned archaeological scientists of North Korea discussed their discovery of the lair of a legendary unicorn high in the mountains. They needn’t have looked in such out of the way places, and instead visited Steinway Street here in Astoria. Unicorns abound.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

“Bing was not here” adjoins the wry graffiti, a response to an advertising campaign promoting a search engine. Such frivolity matters little to me, as preparation for the Mayan Doomsday is all consuming. The bunker, hidden deep below Astoria, has been activated. Your humble narrator is busy filling the vast pools of water and herding livestock into my subterranean grotto. Also, the still suits (modeled after the freemen models from dune) should be arriving from Amazon on Monday. The sleeper has awoken.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 15, 2012 at 12:15 am

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