The Newtown Pentacle

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sinister resignation

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Gotham City.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been getting a big kick out of the “Gotham” television series. For those unfamiliar, it’s a prequel to the Batman storyline, focusing in on its early days when Bruce Wayne was but a child. The titular focus of the series is on the future Police Commissioner of Gotham City, James Gordon, and viewers get to meet early versions of the rogue’s gallery. Fun show.

What I’ve been particularly entertained by, of course, are the abundance of set pieces in Western Queens. The Waynes die on Davis Street between the Sunnyside Yard and Jackson Avenue, for instance.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Most of Gotham’s shots are digitally altered in some way, adding in skyscrapers or changing the shapes of instantly recognizable “NYC” landmarks, but just about everywhere they go on that show is quite familiar to me. Our Lady of the Pentacle has had to endure me pointing at the television screen whilst shouting out “hey, that’s John Quadrozzi’s pier in Red Hook” more than once.

When I’ve been out and about in recent weeks, on more than one occasion the thought that “LIC really is Gotham City, isn’t it?” has formed up some three inches behind my eyes. That led me to start casting the show with people I know, of course.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The question is, of course, which one of our local billionaires is going to start dressing up in black leather and emerging from his manse to beat the tar out of poor people in the dead of night, with the defacto endorsement of the Commissioner of Police. If any of you spot an elaborately outfitted automobile speeding along Jackson Avenue, particularly one with some sort of design motif related to bats – well…

If you see something, say something.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 24, 2015 at 11:00 am

directly upward

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Whence goeth I?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite my vulnerability to cold – hey, Superman’s got Kryptonite but he still gets out – last week I found myself wandering around Long Island City in what felt like a negative a thousand degrees air mass. Owing to my particular weakness, rather than walking from place to place, mass transit has been utilized. Of late, I’ve found myself on a staggering number of buses and Subway lines, which is a sobering reality for the inveterate pedestrian. Don’t forget, during warmer climes I routinely walk back and forth from Astoria to Red Hook. Funnily enough however, Long Island City – which is the concentrating point of rail and subway on Long Island – often forces you to walk great distances in search of conveyances. It’s virtually impossible to find a cab here as well, despite it being the de facto home of the Taxi industry.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Walking is my preferred methodology for getting around, of course. I detest using mass transit as it’s an admission of defeat. Problem is the derelict condition of the sidewalks – isn’t there a law about shoveling snow and clearing the pavement? There is such a law, but as in many other cases, the rules which the City of Greater New York enforces upon the citizenry does not apply to itself. I can actually spot city owned property by its unkempt state during the winter, and can report that when you’re in a municipal building things are not exactly “up to code.” There ain’t no water saving toilets or CO2 detectors readily visible on Chambers Street, in my limited observations of the municipal lairs. There are hundred year old marble stand up urinals, however, which are framed in black mold.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

At Queens Plaza, the old CN building complex has been obliterated. The Real Estate Industrial complex has seized control of the site, and construction crews are busily preparing the ground for yet another residential tower. I know what you’re thinking – “Wow, I’ve always wanted to live in Queens Plaza.” “Thank goodness that the “market” has finally responded to this desire, and I can have the 7 train and thousands of motor vehicles rolling right past my window 24/7.”

I hope that this new building will be one of the transformers – apartment towers which can autonomously turn into giant robots that defend the City – which are called “the CondoBots.” At the CN site, another one of the smaller transformers was sighted, that yellow earth mover in the shot above. It calls itself Diggity Dig Dig Dig. Nice enough cyber guy, but a bit single minded.

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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

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

rythmic piping

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A dream to some…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recurring nightmares have plagued me since childhood. Many of them revolve around isolation, or being solitarily confined to a familiar place that is normally quite crowded with others. The Subway system, in particular, strikes several of my psychological fault lines. There’s the paranoia about being pushed onto the tracks by some lunatic, an unnamable dread about having the tunnel collapse while under the East River, an entirely reasonable fear of the pathogens that swirl about within the cars, and the notion that no matter how crowded the train might be – you are always quite alone down there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For several years, a recurring nocturnal hallucination finds one traveling on the NYC Subway system through an endless ride. The train never seems to stop, which would offer egress for escape from its confines, instead it just continues rattling and hurtling through the dripping concrete and steel havens of the rat.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The train speeds up when it comes to stations and terminals, rather than slowing down, acting in the manner of some sort of subterranean Mary Celeste. There are other potential victims of the endless train ride on the platforms, who see the panicked face and wild gesticulations of a humble narrator in one of the train windows and then begin to laugh and point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The mephitic vapors of the underground mix with those powdered remnants of rat feces that fill the air, inside and out of the train, as the collection of electrically driven boxes speeds along rickety tracks which cause the conveyance to rattle and shake from side to side. A panic takes over me, as does the realization that the conductor might be some sort of demon swine herd and that riding the Subway itself might be the Sisyphean punishment that awaits me in the afterlife. A commute that takes an eternity, and one that starts over as soon as it ends… truly – Dante might have imagined this fate, were there Subways “back in the day.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Always, in these nightmare visualizations of being trapped down there, the train is empty. In New York City, the notion of being alone – true solitude – is somewhat terrifying. For those of us native to this wonderful and horrible place, there is always the notion that someone is watching. There is always the “presence” of others. Removing this externality of consciousness from the equation is terrifying enough, but being completely isolated on a moving Subway is both odd and disconcerting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Gazing out of the train, in these dreams of mine, reveals naught but hopelessness. Were one able to pry open a door, in an attempt to escape into the tunnel, momentum would crush and pulverize. The false hope of the blue lights (the blue lights in the Subway tunnels indicate the presence of a stairway which leads back up to the surface, either a sidewalk hatch or a station) are set in place to tantalize and torment by the foul council of elder demons (the MTA) whose will is made manifest down here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While caught up in the enchantment of these nightmares, basic physical needs begin to manifest. Urination, thirst, hunger. The worst, however is the boredom. Once, my recurring Subway nightmare played out over a week of dream time, an imaginary interval during which a humble narrator saw himself descend into atavist and ape like behavior. Licking the walls of the train car for condensed moisture was amongst the least horrible of my actions.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In waking life, one suffers from a certain form of claustrophobia. A bus trip in Junior High School which saw a 1980’s race riot spark up is the origin of it. The pushing and surging of the crowd of combatants during the internecine warfare of Brooklyn’s “Cujenes” and “Homeboys” left me with a real fear of being trapped in a mob, and to this day one avoids crowds. You will never see me at a protest, or attending a concert at some mega venue. These subway nightmares of mine seem to play on this trait, offering instead the hell of loneliness and solitary isolation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Can any wonder why it is that I prefer the jittery solace of late night coffee, or question why I am routinely awake at 2, 3, or even 4 A.M.? That the notion of placing ones head upon a pillow is so terrifying that I resist the embrace of Morpheus? If only there was a way to escape the tyranny of biology, and avoid sleep. It’s during those intervals of unconscious hallucination that one truly understands terror, and the latent horror of an eternal commute.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

mocking instruments

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One dares, or he dares not.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, one found himself entering the death inducing environs of Queens Plaza last week. Navigating the cryptic signage painted onto the pavement, which mixes bike lane and pedestrian lanes intermittently, at night… Well, the NYC DOT really needs to be thinking about a do-over concerning them. Path finding is not based on any sort of recognizable municipal language, and there are few if any “tells” indicating where the pedestrian pathways fall. I walk through here all the time, and it scares the patootie off a humble narrator every time.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Automotive lanes suddenly appear in front of you, ones in which cars are already moving at a pretty good clip by the time they hit a badly marked cross walk. There’s nothing to “stand behind” while waiting for the light to change, and a feeling of exposure is experienced. This can’t be right. When the Dutch Kills Green park on the northern side of Queens Plaza opened a few years back, it dramatically improved the pedestrian situation on the Dutch Kills side, but the south eastern side is dangerous as all get out and difficult to navigate.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Don’t get me wrong, the northern side ain’t perfect, but it’s vastly easier to navigate through it than its opposite. As a note, I’ve been unable to stop noticing the super tall Manhattan building “432 Park Avenue” and everywhere I go these days it’s just popping up and demanding to be acknowledged. Here it is from Queens Plaza, a monster building as seen from the central gearbox of the Great Machine. One wonders, and more than wonders, what the weather is like up there.

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abhorrent discords

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Queens Plaza is antithetical to life.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Long has one theorized that the biblical Garden of Eden was actually located in what is now known to be North America, specifically at the corner of 42nd and Broadway in Manhattan. The metaphor of mankind turning a paradise into Times Square is somewhat delicious, but one wonders if perhaps this theorized location of the former Garden of Eden is just a little too far west and that paradise lost is actually found in Queens Plaza. A vile place, fraught with multiple hazards for the itinerant pedestrian, Queens Plaza wants you dead – and it will try to kill you.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All of the human senses are under severe assault in this place. Harsh light creates glaring contrasts, and oily shadows slither twixt and fore. From above, a cacophony that drowns out all other aural information is accrued as two elevated subway lines converge. The tumult is amplified by the roadways and their torrent of automotive flow, as well as the many vertical metal surfaces which tend to amplify and reflect noise rather than abate it, while steel columns heavily shadow the pavement. Engine exhaust fills the air, and lungs, with an oily miasma. From below – the thrumming vibrations of speeding locomotives burrow deep into the intestines, shaking the bowels. Bike lanes cross and intersect with pedestrian ones, allowing spandex clad missiles purchase to surprise and surpass an ambling innocent, and a truly byzantine series of street markings conflict, confuse, and astound.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s what one experiences just as you near Queens Plaza, as vague and existential dread overtakes you. Realization of the true randomness of fate blossoms upon reaching the locus of the Great Machine, where vehicles of many types and descriptions approach mighty Queensboro. One might trip while walking cracked pavement cloaked in shadows, be pummeled by some loosened piece of the overhead tracks, or be impacted upon by 200 pounds of spandex clad primate riding his bike at 10-15 mph on the sidewalk. A car might strike, a bus would hit, a truck could squish. There’s also the other pedestrians to consider… with their blood shot eyes rapaciously darting and or noticing passerby. The world is a scary place, for one such as myself, and Queens Plaza is especially scary.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

October 16, 2014 at 11:00 am

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