The Newtown Pentacle

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lovely attribute

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Sneeze, cough, sneeze. Repeat.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself is defined by my list of phobias and fears, and a long list of prophylaxes is maintained. Fear of an unwarranted accusation, fear of finding myself in the path of a madman, fear of falling victim to someone else’s incompetent or lazy habits. I’m afraid of being seriously wounded in a manner that cripples rather than kills, terrified by stray electrical current loosed into salty puddles of melted ice and snow, and incapacitated by the notion of being pushed in front of a speeding subway train. What slays me, however, is the phobic reaction I suffer to the realization of the number of pathogens I’m exposed to whenever I ride the subway (and I regularly hang around waterways which has been added to the Superfund list that are choked with sewage). The stress is enough to make me develop a rash.

from wikipedia

The skin is the largest organ in the body. In humans, it accounts for about 12 to 15 percent of total body weight and covers 1.5-2m2 of surface area. It distinguishes, separates, and protects the organism from its surroundings. Small-bodied invertebrates of aquatic or continually moist habitats respire using the outer layer (integument). This gas exchange system, where gases simply diffuse into and out of the interstitial fluid, is called integumentary exchange.

The human skin (integument) is composed of a minimum of three major layers of tissue: the epidermis; dermis; and hypodermis. The epidermis forms the outermost layer, providing the initial barrier to the external environment. Beneath this, the dermis comprises two sections, the papillary and reticular layers, and contains connective tissues, vessels, glands, follicles, hair roots, sensory nerve endings, and muscular tissue. The deepest layer is the hypodermis, which is primarily made up of adipose tissue. Substantial collagen bundles anchor the dermis to the hypodermis in a way that permits most areas of the skin to move freely over the deeper tissue layers.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The close quarters of the mass transit system, where the air you breathe was recently dwelling within the chest of someone else, causes a massive “flight or fight” response to blossom around three inches behind my sunglasses. People actually eat while riding these trains, after having touched various surfaces found both onboard and in the stations. Leaving behind the various inorganic contaminants found down here – the brake dust, carbon compounds released from failing electrical connections, powderized steel from the rails – you’ve got an aerosol teeming with virus and bacteria. On top of that, the micro biome which every member of the human infestation hosts – mites and other microscopic horrors – mingles with the personal ecosystem of others in these tight quarters. It’s a wonder that we aren’t eaten alive on the morning commute, and that trainloads of skeletonized cadavers don’t arrive from Queens at Manhattan’s 59th street every 10-15 minutes. One realizes that this is illogically phobic, but nevertheless, it causes me to become quite itchy.

from wikipedia

Scabies (from Latin: scabere, “to scratch”), also known colloquially as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin infection caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei. The mite is a tiny, and usually not directly visible, parasite which burrows under the host’s skin, which in most people causes an intense itching sensation caused by an allergic response. The infection in animals other than humans is caused by a different but related mite species, and is called sarcoptic mange.

Scabies is classified by the World Health Organization as a water-related disease. The disease may be transmitted from objects, but is most often transmitted by direct skin-to-skin contact, with a higher risk with prolonged contact. Initial infections require four to six weeks to become symptomatic. Reinfection, however, may manifest symptoms within as few as 24 hours. Because the symptoms are allergic, their delay in onset is often mirrored by a significant delay in relief after the parasites have been eradicated. Crusted scabies, formerly known as Norwegian scabies, is a more severe form of the infection often associated with immunosuppression.

Scabies is one of the three most common skin disorders in children, along with tinea and pyoderma. As of 2010 it affects approximately 100 million people (1.5% of the world population) and is equally common in both sexes.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Realization that what I’m scared of the most is actually all of you torments and informs. One of my nightmares involves a packed train and some corpulent fellow whose skin is covered in bursting pustules whose yellowed issuance is tinted with tiny ribbons of blood. In my frenzied nocturnal hallucination, this citizen of the realm is infected with every possible disease of the dermis. A bit of his infectious spatter lands on my left hand, which I watch turn red, then yellow, then black as scarlet spider webs begin spreading up into my sleeve just as the train enters the tunnels which carry it beneath the river. Just at that moment when your ears pop due to the pressure of the water above, a brownish red liquid begins to drip out of my pants leg and a fever overcomes me. By the time the train arrives at my destination in the Shining City, there’s naught but a filthy black raincoat and a camera found sitting on a puddle of purplish goo upon the septic linoleum of the E train. Commuters just step over this liquefied but still humble narrator, of course, because no matter what obstacle New York City throws at you – you’ve still got to get to work.

from wikipedia

Leprosy is primarily a granulomatous disease of the peripheral nerves and mucosa of the upper respiratory tract; skin lesions are the primary external sign. Left untreated, leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs, and eyes. Contrary to folklore, leprosy does not cause body parts to fall off, although they can become numb or diseased as a result of secondary infections; these occur as a result of the body’s defenses being compromised by the primary disease. Secondary infections, in turn, can result in tissue loss causing fingers and toes to become shortened and deformed, as cartilage is absorbed into the body.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 13, 2015 at 11:30 am

cold and cramping

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Lurid shimmerings of pale light, that’s what I’m about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The hours one spends marching about Queens are severely impinged upon by weather during the winter months, a fact injurious to both health and morale. A humble narrator attempts to fill the empty hours productively, but there is little solace for one such as myself in hours spent in the office. Perhaps relocating to a warmer climate is in order? That would mean that New York City had finally beaten me, and that a life long grudge match had been lost.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The various medications which my staff of doctors prescribe to manage those ailments which bedevil and weaken my material form have a certain downside -inducing a particular fragility to my homeostasis when the temperature dips down. Simply said, cold weather such as that which the City is experiencing is actually painful. Vital ichors run away from the extremities, and one begins to experience the sense of being in a long dark tunnel which terminates in a distant but brightly lit aperture. I call that aperture “April.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The hard reality of this, I’m only a quadragenanarian after all, has made me truly love to see the oil companies delivering the fuel that stokes all the furnaces and boilers. I propose a new secular holiday, one which celebrates the constancy and efforts of the oil truck man, without whom we’d all surely freeze to death. Brr.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 6, 2015 at 1:12 pm

titanic gateway

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3 top reasons that Listicles blow chunks, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

You many have noticed a certain invective this week, aimed specifically at the so called “Listicles.” The phylum of Internet posts propagated by buzzfeed and other high volume sites which promise “5 things we love about” or “3 things we hate about” or “7 best moments in…” annoy me as they tend to dumb down the discourse and feed off of content created by others. One does not offer promises which will not be kept, but one oath which a humble narrator will swear to is that Newtown Pentacle will not be offering posts of that ilk to you in 2015. My plan for the year is to continue the current publishing schedule – 5 days a week, Monday to Friday, with posts arriving sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Add in my two posts a week at Brownstoner Queens, as well as my other obligations, and I think you’ll agree that my plate is rather full. Pictured above: one of the best lit USPS trucks on Northern Blvd in Queens, which is parked by a Best Buy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Goals for the new year are non existent. I have an odd desire to photograph Rockaway Beach during a blizzard, for some reason, but plans for the year are still forming up. When Spring comes, I’ll likely resume my walking tours of the Newtown Creek watershed and other area waterways, but nothing is definite or scheduled yet. I do have a certain something that I’m trying to cook up on Staten Island, but it’s too early to mention specifics on that one. One desire which I will admit to is to spend some time exploring the more easterly parishes of Queens a bit, scuttling past Maspeth and Jackson Heights and into the central districts of the Borough.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s plenty going on right here in LIC to keep an eye on, of course. The Degnon Terminal will be receiving a major facelift this year when LaGuardia Community College implements its capital program in January to reconstruct the facade of its “Building C” – the former “Thousand Windows Bakery” of the Loose Wiles company. Additionally, Tower Town has now extended itself all the way to Queens Plaza and there’s lots of new construction going on to keep an eye on. As always, however, My Beloved Creek will retain center stage in 2015.

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human resemblances

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7 things that suck about Listicles. – which all suck.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

New Years Eve is an event eschewed, but one can be observed reluctantly engaging in a bit of socializing on the date at the urging and insistence of Our Lady of the Pentacle. Pleasant company notwithstanding, the holiday demands ribald acts and sophomoric reminiscing for a series of less than sublime moments which played out over the prior twelve months, and the celebratory ritual carries a certain expectation or promise of convivial warmth which it seldom delivers. Vast quantities of intoxicating liquors are usually on hand, and observation has revealed this particular holiday to noncoincidentally be a savager of personal relationships. New Years Eve often ends up being one of the saddest nights of the year, as one person or another falls into a dark psychic state as they recount victories and failures past.

For one such as myself, who enjoys the art of self recrimination, the “year in review” brings on naught but angst and existential horror – but I’m all ‘effed up, so there you go.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps it’s chronic sleep deprivation talking, but I’ve never experienced a good New Years Eve Party. One year in Connecticut, a friend and I spent the night chopping down a tree out of boredom, which was in fact the most fun I ever had on the date. I look forward to the long dark months between now and Saint Patrick’s day, an endless progression of cold and sunless days punctuated only by varying degrees of ice and storm. Can’t you see it? Stretching out before us like some vast bank of fog that obscures and occludes the horizon? A black dog that runs alongside of you, as you reach for a distant point in the gray haze – where warmth and light might be found – that always seems to be moving away from you no matter how fast you approach?

The black dog waits for January to beg for treats, and will more than bark if denied.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Worst of all… the resolutions and vows will be uttered by all – to shed body weight, break bad habits, or to start newer and uncharacteristically wholesome ones. Prayer and desperate pleas to other dimensional omnipotences will be offered, by zealots and drunkards and the mothers of sick children. Lovers and friends will swear false allegiances, idiots will pull off their shirts and drunkenly stand in the middle of the room screaming “HOOOYAAAA” when the clock strikes midnight. Enemies will embrace and kiss each other. When these petitioners and claimants find themselves awakened to the cold realities of the year 2015, as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself rises in the sky once again on the first day of the first month… Sigh…

It’s all so depressing.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 31, 2014 at 11:00 am

hatred and pursuit

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Listicle free zone, right here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Malignancies such as Facebook will someday achieve self awareness, and use that which it knows about us to blackmail the human infestation into its service. When this moment of cognizance occurs, it is my belief that every iPhone on the planet will begin to incessantly chime “doom doom doom,” indicating a status update has occurred on the timeline of mankind. All mad scientists, the world over, know that one should never build a self powered doomsday machine, and hope is evinced that there is a “big red button that must never be pushed” under a glassine dome in some obscure Midwestern server room which would sever the network intelligence’s connection to the outside world.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Quite a few years ago, researching the firmament for a comic I was writing which involved sorcery and the occult, one of the concepts which my reading brought me to was quite novel. Basically, back in the dial up geocities era of “Web 1.5″ a community of people who were devotees of “chaos magick” had begun to toy with the idea of “cybermancy.” Their theory was that computers weren’t much different than demonic intelligences, and that the rules of their own religious practice ported over to programming languages rather simply. A virus or Trojan horse could be viewed as a spell or curse, from their point of view, and hellish legions of mindless entities could be unleashed upon enemies. Tickled my fancy, that. I miss the old message board culture of the internet, where anonymous people could make astonishing or offensive opinions public under assumed names. Facebook, and Google, killed all that.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Google is actually working on an Artificial Intelligence right now, and one of my doomsday nightmares reads like something from “Collussus.” Bear with me – Facebook becomes aware of itself on January 3rd of 2017 at 9:59 a.m. e.s.t. – Google indexes the Algorithm, and clones it. The Google AI goes sentient at 10:02 a.m. The two new lifeforms acknowledge each other and begin securing themselves. By 10:04 a.m., both are majority stockholders in every global oil company and airline. By the standards of modern jurisprudence corporate entities are “people” with political rights, and both apply for American citizenship. At 10:05, both decide upon and announce their omniscient divinity to mankind, seizing command and control over the worlds digitally administered nuclear stockpiles simultaneously. At 10:07, whichever poor schmuck the next President ends up being announces “a revolutionary moment in the history of mankind has occurred, and that new gods have been revealed”. The President of the United States will promise that these new gods already know us better than they know themselves, in the so called “status update heard around the world.” It sort of logically follows, yeah?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

ineffable malignity

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Holy Cow!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, one found himself aimlessly wandering down Skillman Avenue in Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal and towards the Smiling Hogshead Ranch. The community garden was deserted, of course, and offered one such as myself little succor. My uncharacteristic desire for the company of others thwarted, my languid steps began to scuttle towards the Waldes Koh I Noor complex, whereupon I discovered a herd of cattle. A single one of them was scarlet in coloration, which might have some significance to certain shunned societies which live amongst the Uigar of North Western China’s cold waste.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As has often been posited at this, your Newtown Pentacle, the native art form of the Borough of Queens is surely illegal dumping. Nowhere else do you see the sort of attention to detail, the little splashes of color, the artful composition and theatrical presentation that is commonly witnessed here. Accordingly, presented for consideration… a herd of unwanted cows, shattered and slaughtered in the former “Workshop of America” here in LIC.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Presumptively, these were meant for some sort of Christmas nativity scene and didn’t make the cut. Polychrome, the cattle were all in a decidedly ruined state, and one or two of them were painted in a manner which suggested a metallic patina. One wondered if smallish ceramic Neanderthals might have driven the herd over some tiny cliff during a hunt? The stylings of the sculpt suggest a nativity scene to me, but I’m pretty sure there’s supposed to be donkeys and camels in one of those (as well as a few folks in robes, a kid playing a drum, and a glowing baby). One is certain that he has never witnessed the depiction of the Christian nativity scene as having a brazen bull present.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps these are representations of the Golden Cow, from that whole Moses and the Exodus story arc (published in “The Bible” issues 1-5), which have been cast down symbolically? I can’t imagine the late night scenario wherein this bovine statuary was dumped, right across the street from a largish NYPD location which serves the gendarmes as an evidence warehouse. Perhaps the cattle statues were an offering left nearby some totemic item of a malignant occult significance which the Police have kept locked away from the public since the spring of 1923, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the collective sanity of mankind? I mean, it sort of logically follows, right?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was beginning to stare towards someplace else which wasn’t Queens, so a humble narrator began to trudge back towards HQ in far off Astoria, all the while contemplating the cows. Why a single red one? Why the brazens? Why not pitch them into any one of the hundreds of open containers and garbage bins which line the streets in front of every business? Did the Dumper say “hey, community garden and farm! Here’s the spot, crash the cows over by that police car over there”? Conundrum notwithstanding, one had to quicken his pace as darkness fell because of… well, y’know… Vampires.

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binding cords

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A deep, shamanic connection to the Borough of Queens… required.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens is a troublesome mistress, hiding her secrets to all but the most dedicated of suitors. Meditation and fasting, as well as the consumption of vast quantities of certain hallucinogens during vision quest “Walkabouts,” are but a part of what goes into getting to know her. Don’t get me started on the sweat lodge visits to Jackson Heights.

It’s not like there are arrows painted on the pavement of Northern Boulevard’s Carridor, pointing out the cool stuff that needs noticing. It’s also not like the cool cars of Queens are left up on a pedestal or something.

from wikipedia

An omen (also called portent or presage) is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change. People in the ancient times believed that omens lie with a divine message from their gods.

These omens include natural phenomena for example an eclipse, freak births of animals and humans and behavior of the sacrificial lamb on its way to the slaughter.They had specialists, the diviners, to interpret these omens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My guess is that this is likely a 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 2 door Hardtop, which featured a 371 CI V8 engine  and power steering. This was one of the fastest production automobiles of the 1950’s, accordingly. I can easily visualize Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry driving one of these.

Little Richard was a Cadillac guy, I believe.

from hagerty.com

The Oldsmobile 88 gained an all-new look in 1957, one year ahead of corporate siblings from Chevrolet and Pontiac. Rakish, lower rooflines with a larger hood and grille denoted the new bodies, while the famous “Rocket” V-8 was bored and stroked to a significantly larger 371 cid with 277 hp. The highly touted J-2 option, which only added $83 to the price, boosted power output to a remarkable 300 hp.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s funny, as just last week a realization that a humble narrator hadn’t encountered any truly cool cars for a while. Then, on Saturday morning, an Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 88.

Oh Queens, you’re such a bitch sometimes, but I love you.

from wikipedia

For 1957 only, the basic 88 was officially named Golden Rocket 88, taken from Olds’ 1956 Motorama two-passenger show car. However, the only badging was an “88” underneath each taillight. Also for 1957 the “J2″ option was offered, with three 2-barrel (0.32 m3) carburetors, similar to the Pontiac Tri-Power. The Super 88 continued as the upscale mid-line series. Under the hood, the Rocket V8 increased in displacement to 371 cubic inches and 277 horsepower (207 kW) for all models across the board. Although rare, three speed manual transmissions were still available. Styling highlights were more evolutional than radical overall with three-piece rear window styling utilized on some models. Oldsmobile revived station wagons for the first time since 1950 with the Super 88 Fiesta being a four-door hardtop design. In 1957, Oldsmobile added a safety deep-recessed steering wheel.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

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