The Newtown Pentacle

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fled absurdly

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Break time.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A single image greets you this morning, as will be the case through the Thanksgiving holiday.

A humble narrator requires a break periodically, to recharge and reinvent. Worry not, however, for pithy commentary and puckish intent returns on the Monday following Thanksgiving – the first of December.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 21, 2014 at 11:00 am

fled through

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Break time.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A single image greets you this morning, as will be the case through the Thanksgiving holiday.

A humble narrator requires a break periodically, to recharge and reinvent. Worry not, however, for pithy commentary and puckish intent returns on the Monday following Thanksgiving – the first of December.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 20, 2014 at 11:00 am

equal and largest

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More scenery from DUKBO, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Brooklyn’s DUKBO, or Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, is an agglutination of waste transfer stations, trucking companies, and the heaviest of industries. It sits beyond the Meeker Avenue Plumes, just east of the Newtown Creek Petroleum district and the Greenpoint Oil Spill. It is bisected and defined by the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume, and the dust carried upon the breeze is rife with volatile organic compounds and asbestos.

Other than that, it’s very nice, and totally “metal.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, DUKBO is the site of a huge infrastructure project which is just beginning – the replacement of the 1939 vintage Kosciuszko Bridge. The path of the new bridge will carry it through what used to be Cherry Street. The factories and industrial buildings which line Cherry Street are in the process of being demolished, and the rubble carted away. Who will miss the live poultry warehouse that once stood here, and the streams of chicken feces which once pooled laconically in the street, other than me?

One decided to have one last look at the place, in anticipation of last week’s “Poison Cauldron with Atlas Obscura” walk, before the Skanska Kiewit team kick into high gear in the coming months and this part of Brooklyn becomes a no-go zone due to the construction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One will miss these concrete devastations, along with that old blue beast of a bridge. As I understand the plan, the new bridge will stand on Cherry Street itself, span Newtown Creek albeit at a far lower altitude than the current structure, and enter Queens at about 43rd street. On the Maspeth side, no where near this level of activity has started yet, by the way. There’s a bunch of what seem to be union carpenters at work in the former NYPD tow yard, but I haven’t seen any demolition work going on.

Yet.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

good sized

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DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I can tell you many things about DUKBO in Greenpoint without ever mentioning an acid factory or a night soil dock. Just last week, one was compelled for professional reasons to enter the area during business hours. For those of you not in the know, the New York State Department of Transportation has engaged the Skanska Kiewit company to demolish an existing 1939 model Kosciuszko Bridge shortly after building the first half of a replacement span.

A massive undertaking, the DOT has bought up the easements and buildings that stand in the path of the project on both sides of the Newtown Creek. Cherry Street in Greenpoint no longer functionally exists, accordingly.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Demolition projects generate a lot of dust, which is kept under control via the usage of water. Unfortunately, an enormous pile of water has accumulated at Gardner Avenue and used to be Cherry Street. It makes for a nice photo, if I say so myself, but winter is coming and this is a neighborhood of trucks which are doing truckish things.

One would offer and infer that this pond in DUKBO might become known to the children of North Brooklyn as Lake Skanska.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One also envisions certain nightmarish winter scenarios wherein a speeding packer truck might suddenly encounter a frozen Lake Skanska, the water caught in the grip of some sort of environmental vortex. Whether polar, equatorial, antipodal, paranormal, or temporal – a vortex of any kind is never a good thing when heavy machinery is involved. The truck loses traction on the icy surface of Lake Skanska and careens through the nearby fence line of National Grid, impacting one of the LNG tanks, and… well, we’d see the flash, but the blast wave would certainly remove Western Queens and North Brooklyn from all but the most cautionary of conversations.

Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp, lords and ladies, DUKBO.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

very small

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Fall Foliage, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

First off, a brief grammatical note: the word “foliage” is pronounced thusly – foal-e-ajj or “foalyaj”- not “foylyaj.” This is something that drives one such as myself crazy, much like the common mispronunciation (favored by a certain recent President) of the word nuclear which renders it as “nookular.”

At any rate, as it is fall foliage season, when autumnal sprites splash the crimson and oranges about – your humble narrator delivers with a seasonal scene. Of course… it’s me, so I went to the overgrown Meeker Avenue Street end at the Newtown Creek for my foliage.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Not living cheek by jowl with the waterway as so many do is certainly a luxury to be enjoyed, just ask anyone in Manhattan.

This pleasure isn’t experienced by the folks who live over in Greenpoint, of course, but there you go. One has been taking a bit of a break from hanging around the Newtown Creek for the last month or so, allowing a bit of detoxification to take place. An interesting anecdote, which several of us that spend a lot of time around the place have commented to each other about, is that we tend not to get sick as often as other people during cold and flu season. Spouses might be on Day 3 of a flu, but we’re fine.

Is Newtown Creek a cure all, or is it merely an antibiotic?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By antibiotic, I mean anti life in the same sense that the DC Comics villain Darkseid would infer, of course. Best guess would be “environmental adaptation,” presuming that constant exposure to those sewage borne pathogens which find themselves in the Newtown Creek have jacked up our collective immune systems. Whenever I submit blood tests to a Doctor, I always ask if my white cell count seems unusually high.

The answer has been categorically “no,” but I keep on hoping.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 10, 2014 at 11:00 am

central and supreme

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I been everywhere, man.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Actually, despite the bold statement above, I’ve hardly been anywhere at all. There are spots which one is overly familiar with, of course, but the daily grind does tend to oppress. Just the other day, one had to undertake one of those ludicrous commutes which have been enjoyed throughout the last year, crossing from Astoria out to the New Jersey side of… Staten Island… via mass transit.

What I was doing on Staten Island will be the subject of a post later this week, but today I’m just complaining about how long it all took. Rapid transit indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The 59th and Lex Subway Station is surely meant to serve as a vast sculptural interpretation and exemplar of the spiritual concept known as “oppression.” Kafkaesque in layout, it always seems claustrophobic when I visit. The ceilings are lower, platforms narrower, stairs steeper… Last week, at least, I got to add a shot or two to my collection of “photographs of photographers photographing.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An somewhat accidental detour into Brooklyn occurred on the return trip, which I found rather ironic. It was nice to visit the Borough Hall station, but I needed to get back home before the indomitable bladder of Zuzu the Dog exploded. Has it ever been mentioned that my own personal version of hell is an eternity spent on a long commute through an endless labyrinth of tunnels?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

altars and colossi

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The Queens Cobbler, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For several years one has been documenting the appearance of single shoes, divorced from their life partners, scattered about the larger Newtown Pentacle. This topic has been mentioned before, as has the supposition that this might be evidence of a secretive serial killer amongst us, one who keeps a singular shoe as a trophy of their kill while discarding the other on area streets.

For lack of a better name, I have christened this possible predator the Queens Cobbler.

from nytimes.com

Is the Single Shoe Phenomenon characteristic of a particular ethnic group? Can they be categorized according to educational level? Is this a product of social class? Do they know one another? Are they organized? Is there a club? Are hundreds – possibly thousands – of people out there hopping around on one foot?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As far back as 2011, a humble narrator has been taking note and photographing these singular garments whenever and wherever they present themselves. There seems to be a lot of activity in the Skillman Avenue corridor, alongside the Sunnyside Yards, but in any deserted industrial area adjoining the Newtown Creek – you might find evidence of the Cobbler if you observe your surroundings carefully. That’s how the actions of the so called and still at large Gilgo Beach Killer came to light.

from wikipedia

The Long Island serial killer (also referred to by media sources as the Gilgo Beach Killer or the Seashore Serial Killer) is an unidentified suspected serial killer who is believed to have murdered 10 to 15 people associated with the sex trade over a period of nearly 20 years and dumped their bodies along the Ocean Parkway, near the remote Long Island beach towns of Gilgo Beach and Oak Beach in Suffolk County and the area of Jones Beach State Park in Nassau County.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual location where the Queens Cobbler might do his or her nefarious work is undoubtedly the sort of thing you’d expect to see in an Eli Roth “gorno” movie, but it is unrevealed and hidden still. Personally, a bit of quasi nausea is experienced at the notion that my revelations and descriptions of the Cobbler to the electorate might draw his or her attentions on to myself. Precautions have been taken – the wearing of a chain mail shirt and the carrying about of hatchets – in the style of the legendary “Mock Duck” who was the greatest warrior of Manhattan’s early 20th century Chinatown – has been undertaken.

from wikipedia

In 1900, Mock Duck demanded half of Lee’s revenue from illegal gambling operations. When Lee refused, within 48 hours Mock Duck declared a Tong war against the On Leongs. Hip Sing men set one of Lee’s boarding houses on fire, which resulted in the deaths of two men. In another incident, an On Leong man was decapitated by two Hip Sing hatchetmen, and open warfare began in Chinatown.

One Chinatown historian describes Mock Duck in 1904 as “strutting around on Pell Street, covered in diamonds,” adding that, at that time, “Mock Duck is firmly in control of the Hip Sing, his sinister image bolstered by his long, lethal-looking fingernails, which signal he is too grand to do the dirty work he assigns to others.”

Mock Duck survived repeated attempts on his life and wore a chain mail vest. He was named by the press the “Clay Pigeon of Chinatown” and the “Mayor of Chinatown”. During several attempts on his life, Mock Duck reportedly squatted down in the street and fired at his attackers with two handguns with his eyes closed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Police officials offer a wry and patient smile when a humble narrator inquires as to their thoughts on the Queens Cobbler, and local elected officialdom refuses to even acknowledge the possibility that a killer might walk amongst us. How many people disappear in NYC annually, with the assumption made by neighbors that they’ve simply moved away?

I remember the tales of the “Brooklyn Vampire,” Albert Fish, does anyone else?

from wikipedia

Hamilton Howard “Albert” Fish (May 19, 1870 – January 16, 1936) was an American serial killer. He was also known as the Gray Man, the Werewolf of Wysteria, the Brooklyn Vampire, the Moon Maniac, and The Boogey Man. A child rapist and cannibal, he boasted that he “had children in every state”, and at one time stated the number was about 100. However, it is not known whether he was talking about rapes or cannibalization, less still whether he was telling the truth. He was a suspect in at least five murders during his lifetime. Fish confessed to three murders that police were able to trace to a known homicide, and he confessed to stabbing at least two other people. He was put on trial for the kidnapping and murder of Grace Budd, and was convicted and executed by electric chair.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Profiling such a creature as the Queens Cobbler is surely an action that the FBI experts in Quantico, Virginia could undertake. I’m sure NYPD would reject their help, due to the stupid internecine battles over turf common between the two organizations. In the meantime, the Cobbler(s?) can walk freely amongst us, picking and taking out their future victims.

Nobody believed that prostitutes from the Lower East Side were disappearing back in the 1990′s, until the cops busted Joel Rifkin.

from wikipedia

Joel David Rifkin (born January 20, 1959) is an American serial killer convicted of the murders of nine women (although it is believed he killed as many as 17, mostly drug addicted prostitutes, between 1989 and 1993 in New York City. Also, he is suspected by some to be responsible for some of the Long Island Prostitute Murders whose remains were found in March and April 2011, as four of his victims’ bodies were never found. In an April 2011 prison interview with Newsday, Rifkin denied having anything to do with recently discovered remains. Experts and victims’ rights advocates, however, believe that Rifkin’s recent statements have no value. Although Rifkin often hired prostitutes in Brooklyn and Manhattan, he lived in East Meadow, a suburban town on Long Island.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

How many singular shoe finds do will it take for officialdom to acknowledge the Queens Cobbler, and for the community to demand action? Does every shoe displayed in today’s post represent a human life cut short by the actions of a madman? Will we eventually see news reports of some grisly trophy room found in an abandoned factory in Maspeth or East Williamsburg?

Could the satanic cult that David Berkowitz was a member of in Yonkers still be active, and operating in Brooklyn and Queens?

from wikipedia

In 1979, Berkowitz mailed a book about witchcraft to police in North Dakota. He had underlined several passages and written a few marginal notes, including the phrase: “Arliss [sic] Perry, Hunted, Stalked and Slain. Followed to Calif. Stanford University.” The reference was to Arlis Perry, a 19-year-old North Dakota newlywed who had been murdered at Stanford on October 12, 1974. Her death, and the notorious abuse of her corpse in a Christian chapel on campus, was a widely reported case. Berkowitz mentioned the Perry attack in other letters, suggesting that he knew details of it from the perpetrator himself. Local police investigators interviewed him but “now [2004] believe he has nothing of value to offer” and the Perry case remains unsolved.

After his admission to Sullivan prison, Berkowitz began to claim that he had joined a Satanic cult in the spring of 1975. He had met some of its members at a party, and initially thought the group was involved only in occult activities such as séances and fortune telling; the group, however, gradually introduced him to drug use, sadism, crime and murder. Berkowitz states that he knew roughly two dozen core members in New York – the “twenty-two disciples of hell” mentioned in the Breslin letter – and that the group had ties across the U.S. in drug smuggling and other illegal activities.

In 1993, Berkowitz first made these claims known when he announced to the press that he had killed only three of the Son of Sam victims: Donna Lauria, Alexander Esau and Valentina Suriani. In this revised confession, Berkowitz says that there were other shooters involved and that he personally fired the gun only in the first attack (Lauria and Valenti) and the sixth (Esau and Suriani). He says that he and several other cult members were involved in every incident by planning the events, providing early surveillance of the victims, and acting as lookouts and drivers at the crime scenes. Berkowitz states that he cannot divulge the names of most of his accomplices without putting his family directly at risk.

Among Berkowitz’s unnamed associates was a female cult member who he claims fired the gun at Denaro and Keenan: the victims survived, he said, because she was unfamiliar with the powerful recoil of a .44 Bulldog. Berkowitz declared that “at least five” cult members were at the scene of the Freund–Diel shooting, but the actual shooter was a prominent cult associate who had been brought in from outside New York with an unspecified motive – a cult member whom he identified only by his nickname, “Manson II”. Another unnamed figure was the gunman in the Moskowitz–Violante case, a male cult member who had arrived from North Dakota for the occasion, also without explanation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Lock your doors, lords and ladies, and especially today – for Samhain is upon us and the wheel of the year is once again turning toward the dissolution of winter. If there is someone who seems to be taking an odd interest in what you are wearing on your feet – well… if you see something, say something.

from wikipedia

Irish mythology was originally a spoken tradition, but the tales were eventually written down by Christian monks in the Middle Ages, who are thought to have Christianized many of them. According to Irish mythology, Samhain (like Beltane) was a time when the doorways to the Otherworld opened, allowing the spirits and the dead to come into our world; but while Beltane was a summer festival for the living, Samhain “was essentially a festival for the dead.”[ The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn says that the sídhe (fairy mounds or portals to the Otherworld) “were always open at Samhain.” Like Beltane, Lughnasadh and Imbolc, Samhain also involved great feasts. Mythology suggests that drinking alcohol was part of the feast, and it is noteworthy that every tale that features drunkenness is said to take place at Samhain.

Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. The invasion of Ulster that makes up the main action of the Táin Bó Cúailnge (Cattle Raid of Cooley) begins on Samhain. As cattle-raiding typically was a summer activity, the invasion during this off-season surprised the Ulstermen. The Second Battle of Maighe Tuireadh also begins on Samhain. The Morrígan (Morríghan) and The Dagda (Daghdha) meet and have sex before the battle against the Fomorians; in this way the Morrígan acts as a sovereignty figure and gives the victory to the Dagda’s people, the Tuatha Dé Danann.

According to the Dindsenchas and Annals of the Four Masters, which were written by Christian monks, Samhain in ancient Ireland was associated with the god Crom Cruach. The texts claim that King Tigernmas (Tighearnmhas) made offerings to Crom Cruach each Samhain, sacrificing a first-born child by smashing their head against a stone idol of the god.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Focused on entirely modern tropes such as lone wolf jihadists, school age shooters, or the unlikely attack of a Cobra like terrorist organization armed with the sort of weapons enjoyed by only the strongest of national militaries – our municipal security apparatus might be unable to spot a possible serial killer whose only calling card is the scattering of singular shoes around the neighborhood. In their defense, however, terrorist bombings are an entirely modern phenomena, with little or no historical precedent – according to modern political narrative.

Oh, how one longs for the good old days when you could leave your door unlocked and or sleep out on the fire escape as described by New Yorkers born in the 1930′s and 40′s.

from wikipedia

George P. Metesky (November 2, 1903 – May 23, 1994), better known as the Mad Bomber, terrorized New York City for 16 years in the 1940s and 1950s with explosives that he planted in theaters, terminals, libraries, and offices. Bombs were left in phone booths, storage lockers, and restrooms in public buildings, including Grand Central Terminal, Pennsylvania Station, Radio City Music Hall, the New York Public Library, the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the RCA Building, as well as in the New York City Subway. Metesky also bombed movie theaters, where he cut into seat upholstery and slipped his explosive devices inside.

Angry and resentful about events surrounding a workplace injury suffered years earlier, Metesky planted at least 33 bombs, of which 22 exploded, injuring 15 people. He was apprehended based on an early use of offender profiling and clues given in letters he wrote to a newspaper. He was found legally insane and committed to a state mental hospital.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Whence goeth the Queens Cobbler? Is it an individual, or is some group of murder happy characters and killer cultists amongst us? Nobody believed that the “Midtown Slasher” was a single individual until the Police accidentally found evidence of his crimes, after all.

Happy Halloween, y’all, and keep your eyes peeled.

from wikipedia

Joseph Christopher (1955 – 1992/1993) was an American serial killer, active from September 22, 1980 until his arrest on May 10, 1981. He was known as the “Midtown Slasher.” It is believed that he killed twelve individuals and wounded numerous others, almost all of them African American, with one Hispanic male.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, November 8th, Poison Cauldron
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Note: This is the last Newtown Creek walking tour of 2014, and probably the last time this tour will be presented in its current form due to the Kosciuszko Bridge construction project. 

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 31, 2014 at 12:49 pm

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