The Newtown Pentacle

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flushed and excited

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Come on now, this is just someone messing with my head.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The other day, Friday to be exact, a buddy of mine who is new to the neighborhood was subjected to a short examination of the tripartite borders of Sunnyside, Woodside, and Astoria. We found ourselves on Skillman Avenue headed for Roosevelt Avenue when this scene presented itself. Like some sort of monstrous hybridization of “Project Firebox” and the “Mystery of the Single Shoes,” this mysterious tableau shed its birth caul and revealed itself to us.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, a pet theory that there’s a serial killer stalking the concrete devastations of Western Queens and North Brooklyn who leaves single shoes in deserted places has taken root in my mind. Having published several posts about the phenomena at this – your Newtown Pentacle – the sociopath has likely found out that I’ve noticed him and has begun leaving trophies for me to find. The firebox thing makes it obvious. Who else notices fireboxes?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m going to refer to the hidden menace, who must be an ever watchful and lurking fear, as “The Queens Cobbler” from now one, and and I’m going to double knot the laces of my shoes whenever I leave the house. I will never wear loafers again, and have long avoided the perils of sandal or flip flops. The Queens Cobbler will not drag me partially bare footed into that good night.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 10, 2014 at 9:30 am

clumsy modification

with 2 comments

I call thee vibrant and diverse, names by which thou shalt be known.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Bland and homogenous, the rest of New York City must be a wasteland ruled by a monolithic uniculture wherein all speak the same language and subsist on a flavorless protein paste. Woe to the quartet of other boroughs, for Queens has locked up all the color and intrigue, and it is both illegal and immoral to cook with curry or cumin in Staten Island or the Bronx. We got all the peppers out here as well, so enjoy your bland gravies Manhattanites.

I have come to this realization the last time somebody in the City reacted to the unexpected news that I live in Astoria with the ubiquitous “I love Queens, it’s so vibrant and diverse, and I was in Astoria sometime in the 70′s when I had Greek food.”

By the by, the two kids in the shot above had a small table with signage that read “everything, a dollar.”

from wikipedia

Astoria is a middle class and commercial neighborhood with a 154,000 population in the northwestern corner of the New York City borough of Queens. Located in Community Board 1, Astoria is bounded by the East River and is adjacent to three other Queens neighborhoods: Long Island City, Sunnyside (bordering at Northern Boulevard), and Woodside (bordering at 50th Street). Astoria is patrolled by the New York City Police Department’s 114th Precinct.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

To begin with, Astoria ain’t all that Greek anymore, they’ve largely moved on and are renting out restaurant space to the highest bidder. The section I live in is equal parts Croatian, Brazilian, Mexican, Ecuadorean, African American, and everybody else is a product of the old 20th century melting pot. The societal engineering that drove my grandparents to speak heavily accented english is gone, and the best way to describe the modern system is to reference the old testament.

This “vibrant and diverse” thing drives me crazy, something that is touted by Manhattan liberals who live in vertical affluence and believe what Time Warner Cables’ NY1 tells them and who haven’t visited Queens since that time in the 70′s they went out for Greek. Get to Queens and talk to somebody who doesn’t look like or agree with you, cliff dwellers.

from airbnb.com

If you’re looking for great Greek food or an exotic microbrew, look no further than Astoria. This northern Queens neighborhood exudes a youthful charm and welcoming attitude. In Astoria, mom-and-pop shops snuggle up to humble townhouses whose residents address one another by name. Strikingly diverse groups of people intermingle with appreciative ease in this laid-back neighborhood’s various culinary destinations and quiet streets.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Some of our vibrancy is expressed in illegal dumping, the native art form of western Queens. To wit, recently observed is yet another iteration of the single shoe phenomena on Broadway nearby the 46th street stop on the R. I’ve written about this a couple of times, and am not altogether convinced that there isn’t some amputee serial killer at work in the neighborhood. Vibrant diversity, however, would explain the presence of a population of peg legged sociopaths.

from oddshoefinder.com

Welcome to Oddshoefinder.com, a free site that connects people with odd shoes with people who need odd shoes! Many people with feet of different sizes buy one pair of shoes for each shoe size and use only one shoe from each pair, leaving a closet full of unused shoes. The purpose of this site is to help you get those shoes out of your closet and put money into your pocket.

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek - Saturday, August 24, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 22, 2013 at 7:30 am

bewildering jarring

with 3 comments

Today’s post is of an entirely pedestrian manner.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For about a year, I’ve been noticing this odd pattern all around the Newtown Pentacle, wherein a seemingly discarded single shoe is left conspicuously placed. As mentioned often, my particular curse is to notice everything, and these castaway garments have captured no small amount of my attentions. What’s odd about this is not that someone is discarding an item in the street, a common enough occurrence, its that shoes come in pairs and you seldom discharge one from service but keep its antipode. The boot in the shot above was in Astoria, at the corner of 43rd street and 34th avenue.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp, or DUPBO as I refer to it, is a spot beloved by those that engage in the native art form of Queens- illegal dumping- and it is unsurprising to see entire wardrobes of clothing abandoned here. I once saw an entire dining room set down here, posed as if it was awaiting the gathering of a family to dinner.

Yet, once again, you find a single shoe.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as the weather began to warm up in 2013, a change in the pattern was observed.

Suddenly shoes began to appear in matched pairs.

This shot is from Northern Blvd. nearby Steinway Street in Queens. At first, it seems almost normal, just a pair of abandoned shoes. Unfortunately, that’s what triggers another of my curses- which is to ask “Why?” Why would somebody remove their shoes on a busy glass strewn road, and in front of a gas station? What is the logical chain of dominoes which fell into place that brought this footwear to this particular spot? Was it the Rapture?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Presumptively, the fellow who carefully placed this abandoned set of kicks on 30th avenue and 45th street had another pair ready to go, but why not change them out at home? My habits, at least, include the sustained usage of footwear when out of the house. It is one of my deeply held beliefs that unless you’re arriving at the beach, park, or a pool and find yourself removing your shoes when out of the house- you’re either in need of medical attention or being arrested and searched (or visiting someone who made the calamitous decision to buy light colored carpets). I stay laced, but that’s me.

I grew up in a version of New York which considered smashing beer bottles on the sidewalk as being huge fun, and a City in which wearing heavy boots was an absolute necessity which had nothing to do with fashion.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The pair above were encountered in on Skillman Avenue in Sunnyside, and for once I had a witness along (Hi Tim) who can attest that they were neatly set out upon a stoop. Probably some generous soul, we surmised, setting out used shoes for the needy. Still, I wonder, and need to invoke my secondary curse. “Why”?

Personally, I have never set a pair of shoes on the curb with such a motive, and am puzzled by the offer of such back handed charity. Also, having personally known “the needy”, I can report that I’ve never seen one of them grab a pair of curbside shoes and say “huzzah.”

What is the worst part of going bowling, and if you need to wear someone else’s shoes, would it be any of these?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other day, on Kingsland Avenue in Brooklyn- nearby Greenpoint Avenue and the Newtown Creek- a single shoe awaited me as I shambled past. It was sporty model, meant for a right foot. Back to my first curse, the one which compels me to carry a camera around and obsessively record everything encountered, and an odd detail about each and every shoe displayed in these shots- which is that they all have their laces arranged neatly.

Just to reiterate my belief that there’s something odd going on here, and demonstrate that this is “a thing” – check out the great Cecil Adams over at “The Straight Dope” struggle with the phenomena.

Want to see something cool? Summer 2013 Walking Tours-

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

Modern Corridor- Saturday, July 13, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets on sale soon.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 27, 2013 at 1:28 am

smaller detail

with 4 comments

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The continuing saga of the single shoes shows no sign of surcease. All about the Pentacle, this singular displays of just one half of mated pairs continues, and my suspicions of some malign operation and intent are extant and growing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This sporty number was observed on Skillman Avenue, alongside the titan Sunnyside Yard. A concentration point of sorts for the phenomena, many of the castoff examples of footwear have been observed here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Mention should be made, for new readers and old, that your humble narrator never poses a found object or alters the scene from the condition in which it is found. What you see is what I saw, in exact situ.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 17, 2013 at 12:15 am

day’s gropings

with 3 comments

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In the bizarre world which your humble narrator inhabits, a Christmas Eve post is as good a time as any to expand on a little enigma which has been bugging me. As you all well know by now, the long walks around the pentacle often offer bizarre or odd details which torment and tantalize ones imagination. On a recent perambulation, I noticed yet another one of the single shoes.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My curse is to notice things like this. For much of 2012, I have been observing shoes- always singular, never in pairs- discarded along my route. Once or twice, I’ve seen multiple examples of castoff footwear, but even then- orphaned individuals rather than matched sets.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots above were gathered at 43rd street, off Northern Blvd. in Queens. Satisfied that I had documented this oddity, I continued on my path to a destination down in Long Island City. In accordance with habit, I found a moment to photograph and add to my library a few shots of the Megalith. Walking along Skillman Avenue, I was scanning the ground for more shoes.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It was around 36th street and Skillman that it occurred to me, suddenly, that I should look up. What did I spy, with my little eye?

Have a merry one lords and ladies.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 24, 2012 at 12:15 am

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