The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Queens’ Category

half impassable

with 2 comments

I’d say I was getting old, as if I wasn’t already there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A few archive shots in today’s post, as your humble narrator is busy licking his wounds. A tear to the skinvelope on my left foot, a minor injury, has been causing me to walk “funny,” or at least funnier than usual. The changes in my normal gait have, over the course of the last few days, created a few sore muscles in the lower back. This, in turn, has transmitted along the entire spine. Accordingly, today, I’m a hunched over malcontent given to emanating odd sighs and groans whenever a transition from sitting to standing is required.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The foot injury itself is decidedly superficial, a few irritated and or raw spots on the top layer of skin that don’t “hurt” but which are uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the affected area is found deep within my shoe, and walking mile after mile has caused further irritation on the tender spot. I’m a bit like a tropical flower, it would seem – delicate. I can tell you that twenty years ago, I could have laughed off a bleeding hole the size of a ping pong ball, whereas today an overly large pimple is capable of reducing me to bed rest. Summon the clergy.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, I have a long list of pedantic tasks to accomplish before the computer and a longer list of books that require reading. Unfortunately, infirmity means I won’t be walking that much for the next couple of days in the hope that my skinvelope will regenerate enough tissue to protect the underlying firmament of tendon and muscle. The back thing has to sort itself out, as usual.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 15, 2014 at 10:20 am

mournful planets

with one comment

Caedite eos. Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Many times have I commented on the odd causality surrounding certain dates in the historical record. Obviously – September 11 has become the center of attention for NY historians since 2001, but this is a week wherein propitious events seem to have happened over the centuries. To begin with, the European discovery and description of our little town seems to have begun some four hundred and five years ago today.

In 1609, September 12th was the day that a fellow named Henry Hudson sailed up a certain river after having noticed two or three large islands in a natural harbor, onboard a Dutch East India Company ship called the Halve Maen.

Oddly enough, September 12th is considered to be the anniversary of the Battle of Marathon by scholarly sources.

Then there’s the First World War, and September 12th is the day that Gerry decided to dig in – which began three and a half years of trench warfare.

from greatwar.co.uk

From 12th September 1914 the German Army began to “dig in” on the high ground of the Chemin des Dames ridge on the north bank of the river Aisne. The Germans dug defensive trenches with the intention of securing the position and preventing any further possibility of withdrawal. This battlefield area witnessed the beginnings of entrenched positions and the change from a mobile war to a static deadlock between the opposing forces. From this date the entrenchments would gradually spread along the whole length of the Western Front, would become deeper and more impregnable and would characterize the siege warfare fighting of the Western Front for the following three and a half years.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, your humble narrator has been writing a bi-weekly column over at Brownstoner Queens.

There’s a few of these posts which I’d direct you to check out, including:

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Oddly enough, I’ve got this weekend off from tours and obligations.

I plan on attending Kevin Walsh’s Forgotten Tour #83, which will explore Little Neck and Douglaston, in an effort to ameliorate my utter ignorance about eastern Queens. Also, I just received my paper back copy of Robert Caro’s “The Power Broker” from Amazon, so there’s  a bit of reading I’m anxious to get into.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, September 27th, 13 Steps Around Dutch Kills
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, September 28th, The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 12, 2014 at 11:16 am

plutonic gulf

with one comment

Supermoon, September version.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Monday last was when one might expect to witness the so called Harvest Moon, which was coincidentally a “Supermoon” as well. As one who seldom needs a reason to stare at the moon shaking his fist, with camera gear in hand I surmounted the roof of HQ and set up shop to do some night time photographic stuff. Nothing too esoteric was found in my camera bag, other than a 2x tele extender for my long lens, just for those who might be curious. The main bit of required kit was ultimately a tripod. The shot above is looking east along Astoria’s Broadway in the direction of Woodside and Jackson Heights.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Amongst the worst sorts of weather for trying to get shots of the night sky, there were vast seas of wind driven clouds that were boiling about and occluding the moon. Seeing that a break in the clouds was coming and that an interval of clear sky was blowing in from the west, I decided to just sit and be patient up on my roof, so I was soon texting Our Lady of the Pentacle to let her know that I hadn’t fallen off the building and that I’d be up occupied up here for awhile. While I was waiting, I listened to a historical podcast by Dan Carlin about the opening shots of the First World War.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, she popped out into somewhat clear sky, and Selene was wearing her halo. The light from this moon was strong enough to cast shadows, which illuminated the rooftops all around me. The podcast was busily describing the massive Wehrmacht efforts in France, and the absolute heroism of the French armies who were ground into bloody paste before it, while your humble narrator was busily clicking away at the one thing which all humans from the beginning of time have had in common – staring up at the full moon while awestruck by its otherworldly fluorescence.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm

ragged and dusty

leave a comment »

A few views of “Our Town” in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator has finally attained a few hours of sleep, and plans on spending a rare day off dealing with the abundances of laundry which have collected around HQ, then doing some banking, and attending a Newtown Creek Monitoring Committee meeting over in Greenpoint. If it doesn’t rain tonight, one plans on capturing some tripod shots of Newtown Creek on the way back home to Astoria. Things seem to come at me in bunches these days, with back to back events that are followed by long intervals in front of the computer developing shots.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Once upon a time, one was known for his ability to “multi task,” accomplishing several things simultaneously. This is what always made me a valuable hire in the advertising world, but the ravages of advancing age have reduced this quality. These days, one is happy if he can chew gum and walk at the same time, what with the calcification of the jellies in my head and all. Soon, I will be reduced to only being allowed to use spoons, in the name of safety. The sharp tines of a fork will be naught but the stuff of cherished memory.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All ‘effed up, this sort of whining about infirmity and the advance of personal entropy is the product of too much solitary time. For some reason, one is surprised when somebody recognizes me, or offers a compliment about one of my little histories and accompanying pictures. It is easy to brush aside what you have done, in the name of what you haven’t. Why is it that the “big” good stuff you’ve accomplished is so easy to forget, why the “small” bad stuff can easily keep you awake at night? Others seem to remember the former, while I’m obsessed with the latter. Odd.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

fancying that

with 2 comments

The new normal, the way we live now, and so on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The recent imbroglios surrounding breaches of security in and around the fabled Brooklyn Bridge does not surprise one at all. For several years, your humble narrator has been pointing out that there is no security whatsoever – outside of highly visible areas within Manhattan – being provided to NYC’s infrastructure other than “security theater” which is a sort of kabuki. Billions have disappeared into the black hole that is “homeland security” over the last decade, and when officialdom is asked where it has gone the response is often a play on “if I told you, I’d have to kill you to maintain the secret.” Meanwhile, within a period of just a few weeks over the summer, foreign nationals have managed to penetrate the so called “ring of steel” at the Brooklyn Bridge twice.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One cannot count the number of times that this blog has discussed this “apeshit security situation” – whether it be fences left unlocked and unguarded at the Sunnyside Yard on holiday weekends (or any of the hundreds of unmonitored infrastructure sites in LIC which are left to fend for themselves) or the abrogation of any semblance of sense that allows anonymous cars and trucks to be parked directly under the structural elements of area bridges. If a group of German hipsters can swap out the flag on the Brooklyn Bridge, they had time… and opportunity. Should a bad actor have gotten up there, and not some Russian tourist hoping to take a selfie just a few weeks after the flag incident, we’d be having a very different conversation than whether or not the Mayor’s family danced well at the Caribbean Day Parade or not.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m reminded of a presentation and speech offered by a certain Lieutenant in the NYPD Counter Terrorism Unit who showed up in Astoria at a community meeting around a year and a half ago. The officer instructed the citizenry that should they witness anyone taking pictures of the various area bridges, a call to the Police should be made, intoning that photographers are probably working with foreign Terrorist organizations as scouts. This fellow turned up in combat gear, wearing an aviation jumpsuit and sporting a speed holstered automatic weapon rather than a standard NYPD duty or even dress uniform. It should be pointed out that despite his rhetoric, and the billions that have been poured into securing the vital infrastructure of NYC, I still could have done whatever I wanted under the Queensboro bridge when shooting these pictures of its underpinnings just last week (and on the very same day the NYPD Commish announced a tightening of the reigns around such structures). There are no cameras, drones, sensors, or even some schmuck cop who has been consigned to walking a beat keeping an eye on things down here. Where has all that Homeland Security money gone? Are we allowed to know, or is that a state secret?

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Saturday, September 6th, The Insalubrious Valley of the the Newtown Creek
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 3, 2014 at 12:36 pm

jutting promontory

with one comment

Witches, or Warlocks, are at work in Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For several years, your humble narrator has been documenting an odd usage of St. Michael’s Cemetery here in Astoria. An adherent to a presumptively afro-cuban syncretic faith has been performing rituals in Section 10 since at least 2010. The phenomena is discussed at great length in the November 2010 post “pale garden.

By 2012, things had quieted down a bit here. Perhaps the postings alerted the cemetery management to the situation or the magick worker him or herself might have come across them and realized someone was watching.

The other day, one had an afternoon to fill, and scuttled over to St. Michael’s to see if any new developments might be observed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unfortunately, upon arriving at the graveyard, one observed a crew of groundkeepers hard at work. This meant that any evidence I might find would be disturbed by the actions of lawn mowers and weed whackers, but I headed over to section 10 anyway. That’s where the main “altar’ is.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the ground, as expected, there was naught but grass clippings and the odd piece of wind blown litter. On the ‘altar” there was a small metallic chalice.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It seemed to be made of fairly common materials, possibly a cheap alloy given the cosmetic qualities of brass.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Inside was ash. A particulate and grainy sort of ash.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

By the way, there’s two cool Working Harbor Committee events going on this weekend you might want to attend.

Saturday, the 30th is a Port Newark excursion onboard the Circle Line with Captain John Doswell, Ed Kelly of the Maritime Association of Port of NY/NJ and Maggie Flanagan – Marine Educator South Street Seaport Museum. The boat boards at 10:30, sails at 11, and returns at 1:30. Click here for more info and tix.

Sunday, the 31st is the annual Great North River Tugboat Race and Competition. 10:00 AM – Parade of tugs from Pier 84 to the start line. 10:30 AM – Race starts – From South of 79th Street Boat Basin (near Pier I) to Pier 84. 11 AM – Nose to nose pushing contests and line toss competition. Noon – Tugs tie up to Pier 84 for lunch and awards ceremony. Exhibits, amateur line toss, spinach eating contest 1 PM – Awards ceremony. Tugs depart at about 2 PM.

For tix on the spectator boat, click here.

 

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 29, 2014 at 11:00 am

defined apprehensions

leave a comment »

Twirling, ever twirling.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The affability of recent climate has seen me visiting old haunts and novel locale alike in recent weeks, which might be described as having been a somewhat pleasurable set of experiences. That would mean, of course, that your humble narrator was actually capable of experiencing a sensation called “pleasure.” A series of dull events punctuated by occasional gastro-intestinal distress, all sorts of bacterial and viral infections, and the oft bizarre actions of others is the way one such as myself describes “Life.”

One bright spark in the otherwise gathering clouds of existential horror which plague me are unexpected moments of serendipity.

A train passing by can excite one endlessly, and reminds that “you have to appreciate the little things.”

In my case, it’s big things that go “thruuummmm thruuuuuuummmm thruuummmm” or “claaacckkclaaacckkclaaacckk” as they pass by, but I’m all ‘effed up.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Good days are ones where I’m not walking to go anyplace in particular. Days when I leave the house and decide only which compass point to walk toward. For some reason, its not east that often, as that’s usually looking into the light. Instinct always points my path towards water, no matter where I am. It was kind of interesting finding myself in Queens Plaza, which I used to inhabit back in 2009 and 2010 during the Queensboro Bridge Centennial period but which I mainly cross through these days on my way to someplace in Brooklyn or Hunters Point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, Our Lady of the Pentacle had agreed to visit the Brooklyn Grange roof top farm here in Astoria with a friend of ours who subscribes to their CSA program and I tagged along. While they picked up some quality produce, I got busy with the camera. Serendipity at work, when I woke up that morning, seeing this vista overlooking the Sunnyside Yards and the Shining City of Manhattan was not on the menu.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 875 other followers

%d bloggers like this: