The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Queens’ Category

corporeal tenement

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Wind, snow, rats, egg rolls, fear.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting visualization of the locations where rats were reported in 2014 in the City of Greater New York, as presented by the Village Voice, was reviewed over the weekend. The health department and the writer of the piece focused in on the seeming correlation between the addresses of Chinese restaurants and the location of rat colonies. Officialdom and the Voice writer speculated on whether or not the rodents have a preference for Chinese take out. When viewing the map, I couldn’t help but notice that the shape of the rat infestations closely mirrored that of the NYC Subway system. Follow the critters through Queens, and you can trace out the path of the R/M, 7, and F lines rather neatly. Same thing with Brooklyn, where you can trace out the G tunnels. Just saying… these restaurants are either located above subway tunnels or are nearby the entrances to the system.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Personal observation of the Chinese restaurants here in Astoria, a few of which are on the Voice map, reveals that the owners of these establishments consider the corner sewer drain as a handy receptacle for the issuance of both fryer oil and the emptying of mop buckets. Rats love fatty foods (who doesn’t, after all?) and hang around the local sewer interceptors and underground vaults knowing that the good stuff will be coming soon. Thing is, my belief is that these sorts of anecdotes are coincidental to the real issue of where the rats are coming from – which are the MTA tunnels.

Ask anyone who lives in public housing – the worst landlord in the City of New York is actually the City of New York, which passes strict rules and enacts a series of fines on the citizenry to enforce them, rules which it does not find itself obliged to follow. Show me a New Yorker who hasn’t seen a rat in the Subway and I will declare them a one percenter who normally gets around town in the back seat of a limo. Show me an apartment house owner with black mold on the walls and no available heat or hot water, who never gets fined, and I’ll automatically tell you the owner is the City of New York.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After the snow finishes falling, look around tomorrow. You’ll be able to discern which properties in your neighborhood are owned and operated by the City simply by noticing which sidewalks haven’t been shoveled (with the exception of schools, courthouses, and anything within camera range of Manhattan’s City Hall). These City owned stretches of pavement will remain covered in snow, which will shortly compact down into a plate of milky colored, rotting, wet ice that will persist until the spring thaw. Sadly, many of these spots will surround Subway stations and bus stops. This is one of the things which “I don’t get” as even the Soviet Commisars acknowledged that they had certain responsibilities to the Proletariat. The connection between high volume restaurants and rats is actually a correlation of the proximity of these establishments to Subway infrastructure. Dealing with NYC’s rat infestation should begin with that which connects us all – the subway tunnels. Then, we should work our way up to the surface and blame the Chinese restaurants.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 26, 2015 at 11:00 am

distant valley

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Ridgewood has its charms, lord and ladies.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I love the esthetics of the section of Ridgewood nearby Fresh Pond Road, which offers block after block of pretty as you please row houses – many of which utilize Kreischer bricks in their street facing facades. I don’t know this neighborhood as well as I’d like to, as it’s quite a hike to walk here from Astoria. Last week, occasion carried me to Ridgewood, where this view was gathered. One plans on spending a bit more time in this section in the coming months, although I’m still a bit uncomfortable in residential areas – preferring the concrete devastations and lonely industrial zones surrounding my beloved Creek.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This kids ride was sitting outside a deli, and it caught my eye. Haven’t seen this goofy Pelican sculpture before, normally you get horses and race cars on these things. One of my local bodega owners on Broadway in Astoria (he’s got one that sports a pink elephant) told me that he splits the earnings with the company that owns the unit 50/50, and that he can expect more than $300 a week from the thing. That’s a lot of quarters.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Street furniture like these kid rides are the sorts of things that the big league historians typically overlook, as the “college boys” prefer to focus in on structures, infrastructure, and demographic patterns. They tend to miss the little stuff in favor of broad swath trends, in my opinion. When, exactly did “penny candy” become surprisingly expensive? When did the Bearclaw disappear from NYC? That’s where I come in. Now, you got a quarter? I want to ride the pelican.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 22, 2015 at 11:00 am

terrific doctrines

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Today marks the 206th anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe’s birth.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent opportunity found a humble narrator tramping about in Machpela Cemetery over in the Glendale section, not far from the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. This cemetery was established in 1855, part of the build out of burying grounds that followed the Rural Cemeteries Act, and when it opened visitors would have told you that this non sectarian yet overwhelmingly Jewish polyandrion was found in Newtown.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Those of you knowledgable about Machpela have probably already guessed what drew me here – to a cemetery which sits across the street from the far larger Cypress Hills Cemetery – but I’ll be discussing “him” later in the week over at my Brownstoner column. Instead, since this is the first time that Machpela has been visited by a humble narrator, photos from a stroll around the place are presented today.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There seemed to be quite a lot of grounds keeping issues at Machpela, with ancient trees dropping large limbs, or as above – the entire tree went down. Pictured above was a tree whose trunk had been segmented by workmen. The thing appeared to have been struck by lightning, presuming that the blasted black char observed on several of the segments was caused by atmospheric electrical discharge. The fallen tree wiped out a whole section of monuments on its way down, which were tumbled about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Fallen limbs were observed everywhere at Machpela, and there were a couple of places which seemed none too safe. Perhaps the unusual amount of rain and wind we’ve experienced in the last few months contributed to the carnage, but as in the shot above – many of these broken branches seem to have sat undisturbed and in the position that gravity and inertia placed them in long enough for decay to set in.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

To be fair, older cemeteries like this one suffer from conditions of severe financial hardship. All across the so called “Cemetery Belt” in Queens and Brooklyn are graveyards which were largely filled by the end of the First World War a century ago. If any surviving relatives persist in the area, the cemetery corporations find it difficult to collect any funds for the upkeep of a great great grandfather’s grave from them. New interments are few, and the operating funds available to modern management of cemeteries like Machpela are slim pickings.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 19, 2015 at 11:00 am

terrible injuries

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Aching, painful butt? Get outside, I say.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, one forced himself off the couch, dared the frigid antibiome of Queens, and moved. Movement is difficult in this sort of weather, as one needs to swaddle himself in insulation. Sometimes I like to weigh myself unclothed, just out of the shower, and then get back on the scale after getting dressed. One recent day, I realized that I was wearing twenty seven pounds of clothes. We are all forced to carry baggage, I reckon, but no one is encouraging me to just sit on the couch so I picked myself up and went out – into the cold waste.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This crow was spotted over in Flushing, walking a cart of harvested alloys towards an Iron Triangle scrap yard for conversion into cash. He’s walking in a vehicle lane on the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge, which is ill considered – “vision zero” wise. Just before and about a minute after this shot was captured, vehicles moving at speed nearly struck him, dual events which really seemed to tick him off. The auto drivers offered the crazy notion that he should be using the pedestrian lane. Chalk this one up to “user error,” I guess.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Roaming into the park via the pedestrian bridge that connects the LIRR station with the Subway stop at Citifield, many sevens were present, but it was seven sevens that were focused upon. This is the MTA’s Corona Yard, which is next door to an MTA Bus terminal. All very exciting, except for the fact that due to track work, the train wasn’t running on the day I shot this and that I live way over in Astoria. Probably why there’s so many of them just standing around and apparently looking for something to do.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

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

splitting and chipping

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The Astoria Tumbleweeds doth roll about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The little trees which the human infestation tends to adorn their hovels with during the month of December pile up on the sidewalks around these parts during the first weeks of January, waiting for the wind to take them to new and novel locales. Just last week, one of the abandoned tumbleweeds was observed laconically rolling about in the middle of the street, for instance. Everywhere you go, the Astoria Tumbleweeds doth roll.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion carried me over to 36th avenue recently, nearby the Kaufman Astoria movie studio complex. That’s where the garish lighting affixed to the former Famous Players studio building, as seen in the shot above, was observed. One loves LED lighting, as the technology has allowed a new class of compact and inexpensive flashlights that possess incredible powers of illumination to find their way into my hands, but those color changing architectural ones have to go. You’ll notice these installations all over Astoria, and despite the splash of bright color, these LED color changing accent lights are somewhat lowbrow and tasteless, harkening one to remember the neon colors popular during the 1980’s – when it seemed that a box of highlighters had exploded and distributed their day glow inks all over the city.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, the DSNY has issued instructions for the proper disposal of the resinous holiday trees, designed to aid the agency in putting this lumber to good use via the process of mulching. Unfortunately, the heavy winds typical of January and the presence of hundreds of illegally converted basement apartments (wherein the residents of said units are instructed by landlords to hide their presence from City officialdom by placing household trash in the street refuse wire collection baskets) result in these discarded bits of holiday cheer rolling about the street. Thusly are the Astoria Tumbleweeds released back into the wild, and freed to roam about the neighborhood.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

trickling from

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Those Astoria Tumbleweeds… they’re back.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Friday the 3rd of January saw a humble narrator out early, as one had professional obligations to fulfill. While waiting for my breakfast sandwich to be assembled at a greasy spoon on Broadway, here in almond eyed Astoria, observation of a carefully placed and quite discarded Christmas tree occurred. It would have made the news if this coniferous corpse was placed in a bike lane, but instead…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The ever reliable DSNY has posted an instructive page here, which describes the proper procedure for disposing of holiday cheer. The municipal organization has a large mulching operation set up to aid in the disposal of the seasonal cultivar, and no where in its list of specificities governing the process does it say “throw it into the middle of the street.” Ahh, Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The purchase of breakfast complete, one did not have time to watch the thing roll about in the street. Rather a somewhat epic journey was undertaken, wherein the longest and most expensive possible route (using mass transit) to Brooklyn was undertaken. Why do you need to leave the Long Island, traveling through Manhattan, to arrive at a spot on the Long Island less than 7 miles from your starting point? It’s just silly.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

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