The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Northern Blvd.’ Category

past imagining

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Wandering, wandering.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, a brief interval allowed me to escape from HQ, where a kitchen renovation has been underway for the last couple of weeks. My landlord, distressed by my reports of rodentine occupation in the so called “wet wall” found behind the 1970’s era cabinetry affixed to it, sent in the Croatians. Said Croatians have been doing a brilliant job, and are nearing completion of the project after two weeks of work (which is bit of a miracle itself here in Astoria), but I’ve been stuck here keeping an eye of things and ensuring that Zuzu the dog doesn’t wander into a tile saw or something.

Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle invoked a “work from home day” last week, allowing me the freedom to go on one of those ridiculously long walks across Queens for which I am sort of known. This time around, my path wasn’t towards the East River, nor Newtown Creek – instead, I headed east along Northern Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The first thing which caught my eye was, as always, something Robert Moses left behind – the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. This is literally the “Northern Blvd. exit” by the way, which empties the highway onto the local streets in a confusing series of curved and badly marked lanes. As with all things Moses, “pedestrian friendly” is at best an afterthought. The BQE does serve a purpose for me, however, as a geographic reference point.

It’s easy to know which community of Western Queens you’re moving through when on the neighborhood’s “main drag.” You have no doubt about whether it’s Jackson Heights or Woodside when you’re on Roosevelt Avenue, for instance. Same thing with Sunnyside, Woodside, or LIC. There’s a distinct “feel” to these neighborhoods.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Northern Boulevard, however, was built as a high volume road for automobiles. Most of what you’ll find along its length, from its transmogrification at 31st street from Jackson Avenue to Northern Boulevard all the way to its titular end of pedestrian friendliness at 114th street in Corona (and yes, I know route 25a continues all the way to Suffolk County) are automobile related businesses and chain store restaurants. Northern gets a bit more residential when you get out east into the 80’s, 90’s, and so on but it’s still pretty automobile focused. We’ll talk about that in subsequent posts that spawn out of this particular walk.

The funny thing is, of course, that a few phone calls were made to friends who grew up in Queens to double check my impressions of “where I was” while developing this set of shots. You can’t trust the real estate people, who will try to describe parts of East New York as Williamsburg if you let them.

As I said to Hank the Elevator Guy – “so if I’m on 78th and Northern…” There was some debate amongst my Queens natives on that one, incidentally, as to whether that particular area counts as Jackson Heights or Elmhurst. Consensus was achieved when several parties said “it depends on which side of Northern you’re on.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow pictured above, who made the absolutely terrible decision to stand on the off ramp of the BQE in what is definitively Woodside (62nd and Northern), bore a bit of signage adjuring passing motorists to toss him a few handfuls of loose change. A sign of the times, this fellow actually is. Emblematic of the current Mayoral admistration’s anitipathy towards the enforcement of “quality of life” regulations which have distinguished our municipal experience over the last twenty years. I’m sure he will be replaced shortly by some guy with a squeegee and a bottle of windex. I’d vote for the squeegee guy over our current First Citizen in a heartbeat. I’d also vote for a parakeet just to see the First Citizen sent packing back to Park Slope.

This walk, an escape from the domestic construction project mentioned at the top of the post, was a bit mad btw.  One emulated the proverbial “bat out of hell” and covered quite a bit of ground. Starting at Woodside Avenue and Northern Blvd., I walked east along Northern to 114th and then headed Northwest along Ditmars into East Elmhurst and then southwest back into Astoria.

Many interesting things were observed, which will be offered and described in subsequent posts at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

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Upcoming Tours –

July 26th, 2015
Modern Corridor – LIC, Queens Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

As detailed in this recent post, my camera was destroyed in an accident.

For those of you who have offered donations to pay for its replacement, the “Donate” button below will take you to paypal. Any contributions to the camera fund will be greatly appreciated, and rewarded when money isn’t quite as tight as it is at the moment.

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

quite ponderous

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Trucks with trucks on them, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was scuttling through the Carridor, or Northern Blvd. as the rest of the world calls it, recently. Nearby the thoroughfare’s intersection with Newtown Road, this semi appeared, and it was a truck carrying a series of other trucks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was reminded of some nature documentary I had once seen that showed a Momma turtle allowing her babies to hang onto her carapace as she moved through the water, with the offspring forming a conga line behind her.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here, you see a truck carrying a smaller truck which has another even smaller truck on it. If only there was a pickup with a bicycle in its bed upon the smaller truck…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The world is puzzling to me, and I really don’t understand many of the things I see.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

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 7, 2015 at 1:35 pm

biased witness

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Captain America?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this wonderful example of a three wheeled Motorcycle nearby the Harley Davidson dealership on Northern Blvd.’s “Carridor.”

The paint job on this trike was extraordinary, and as you can discern, was rather patriotic. It was exceptionally well executed and rendered, I would add. A lot of skilled draftsmanship, composition, and artistry went into this air brushed painting. It looked like the sort of thing that a super hero might ride around on, actually, except for it being a trike.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the bow of the unit is an icon and screed that reads “Nam Knights MC, America,” which is a nationwide Motorcycle Club whose members are military and law enforcement veterans.

On the stern of the thing, there are icons painted. A 4th Division Shield, and another depicting an Air Calvary unit alongside a Bronze star. One is embarrassed to admit that the numismatics of the Military are not familiar to me, so I can’t tell you more about the left side iconography. If one of you out there can, please use the comments section below to educate the rest of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The striking paint job on this patriotic vehicle drew me like a magnet.

What a fantastic bit of work, and wonderfully realistic rendering of the drapery. This was one sharp piece of work, wish that I knew the name of the artist.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 25, 2015 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

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

inferior body

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Friday’s all right.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sorry for today’s late update, a humble narrator was too busy crying in his coffee to get it done on time, what with the hubris and ennui and all that. Pictured above is the endangered sight of railroad traffic at the Sunnyside Yard, as seen from Skillman Avenue. That’s an AMTRAK train, for those of you interested in such things, with the continuing construction of the East Side Access project underway just behind it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Northern Blvd., these Christmas trees await the buyers who will watch them finish the dying process that began when they were cut away from their roots. Having grown up Jewish, this is one of the “goyem” things I’ve never really understood. You people kill millions of trees every year because… Christmas? Next month, these will be the Astoria tumbleweeds.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A borderland between two distinct sections of Queens, the automotive city and the locomotive one, is found at the cross of Queens Blvd. and Roosevelt Avenue. I’ve always loved this spot, despite it being one of the most confusing and dangerous pedestrian intersections in the borough.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm

nearly total

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Humbug.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everyone’s got a cool ride, it seems. Your humble narrator would particularly like a somewhat militarized version of the DSNY Earth Mover pictured above. Mine would be painted black, with an illustration of a dragon riding sword chick (wearing boob armor like Red Sonja, natch) dueling with a witch in front of an impossibly large full moon on the scoop. A less dated motif for my earth mover would be to entirely cover it in googly eyes that jiggled about as I drove around and… y’know… moved earth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This goldenrod VW micro bus hasn’t moved from this spot on 43rd street in Maspeth for at least a couple of months now, and I’m beginning to suspect a Dr. Who sort of thing might be going on. Is this Volkswagen bigger on the inside, despite what I remember about the automotive line’s interior dimensions? What’s odd, actually, is the fact that a brightly colored machine can remain in this location for so long without becoming soiled by the ambient airborne particulates and pollutants which distinguishes this part of the ancient village. The BQE is literally on the next corner, and Newtown Creek is just down the hill.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Northern Boulevard, this fellow was spotted providing the motive force required to actuate his ride along the busy thoroughfare. One applauds the desire to become energy independent, but cautions against this sort of thing. Northern Boulevard is an automotive death machine, from the pedestrian point of view, and you are far better off being inside of a giant metal box than without.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm

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