The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘St. Michael's Cemetery’ Category

jutting promontory

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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.

 

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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 29, 2014 at 11:00 am

“The Statement of Randolph Carter” by H. P. Lovecraft

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

All text in today’s post from “The Statement of Randolph Carter” by H. P. Lovecraft, courtesy wikisource

I repeat to you gentlemen, that your inquisition is fruitless. Detain me here for ever if you will; confine or execute me if you must have a victim to propitiate the illusion you call justice; but I can say no more than I have said already. Everything that I can remember, I have told with perfect candor. Nothing has been distorted or concealed, and if anything remains vague, it is only because of the dark cloud which has come over my mind—that cloud and the nebulous nature of the horrors which brought it upon me.

Again I say, I do not know what has become of Harley Warren, though I think—almost hope—that he is in peaceful oblivion, if there be anywhere so blessed a thing. It is true that I have for five years been his closest friend, and a partial sharer of his terrible researches into the unknown. I will not deny, though my memory is uncertain and indistinct, that this witness of yours may have seen us together as he says, on the Gainsville pike, walking toward Big Cypress Swamp, at half past eleven on that awful night. That we bore electric lanterns, spades, and a curious coil of wire with attached instruments, I will even affirm; for these things all played a part in the single hideous scene which remains burned into my shaken recollection. But of what followed, and of the reason I was found alone and dazed on the edge of the swamp next morning, I must insist that I know nothing save what I have told you over and over again. You say to me that there is nothing in the swamp or near it which could form the setting of that frightful episode. I reply that I knew nothing beyond what I saw. Vision or nightmare it may have been—vision or nightmare I fervently hope it was—yet it is all that my mind retains of what took place in those shocking hours after we left the sight of men. And why Harley Warren did not return, he or his shade—or some nameless thing I cannot describe—alone can tell.

As I have said before, the weird studies of Harley Warren were well known to me, and to some extent shared by me. Of his vast collection of strange, rare books on forbidden subjects I have read all that are written in the languages of which I am master; but these are few as compared with those in languages I cannot understand. Most, I believe, are in Arabic; and the fiend-inspired book which brought on the end—the book which he carried in his pocket out of the world—was written in characters whose like I never saw elsewhere. Warren would never tell me just what was in that book. As to the nature of our studies—must I say again that I no longer retain full comprehension? It seems to me rather merciful that I do not, for they were terrible studies, which I pursued more through reluctant fascination than through actual inclination. Warren always dominated me, and sometimes I feared him. I remember how I shuddered at his facial expression on the night before the awful happening, when he talked so incessantly of his theory, why certain corpses never decay, but rest firm and fat in their tombs for a thousand years. But I do not fear him now, for I suspect that he has known horrors beyond my ken. Now I fear for him.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Once more I say that I have no clear idea of our object on that night. Certainly, it had much to do with something in the book which Warren carried with him—that ancient book in undecipherable characters which had come to him from India a month before—but I swear I do not know what it was that we expected to find. Your witness says he saw us at half past eleven on the Gainsville pike, headed for Big Cypress Swamp. This is probably true, but I have no distinct memory of it. The picture seared into my soul is of one scene only, and the hour must have been long after midnight; for a waning crescent moon was high in the vaporous heavens.

The place was an ancient cemetery; so ancient that I trembled at the manifold signs of immemorial years. It was in a deep, damp hollow, overgrown with rank grass, moss, and curious creeping weeds, and filled with a vague stench which my idle fancy associated absurdly with rotting stone. On every hand were the signs of neglect and decrepitude, and I seemed haunted by the notion that Warren and I were the first living creatures to invade a lethal silence of centuries. Over the valley’s rim a wan, waning crescent moon peered through the noisome vapors that seemed to emanate from unheard of catacombs, and by its feeble, wavering beams I could distinguish a repellent array of antique slabs, urns, cenotaphs, and mausoleum facades; all crumbling, moss-grown, and moisture-stained, and partly concealed by the gross luxuriance of the unhealthy vegetation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My first vivid impression of my own presence in this terrible necropolis concerns the act of pausing with Warren before a certain half-obliterated sepulcher and of throwing down some burdens which we seemed to have been carrying. I now observed that I had with me an electric lantern and two spades, whilst my companion was supplied with a similar lantern and a portable telephone outfit. No word was uttered, for the spot and the task seemed known to us; and without delay we seized our spades and commenced to clear away the grass, weeds, and drifted earth from the flat, archaic mortuary. After uncovering the entire surface, which consisted of three immense granite slabs, we stepped back some distance to survey the charnel scene; and Warren appeared to make some mental calculations. Then he returned to the sepulcher, and using his spade as a lever, sought to pry up the slab lying nearest to a stony ruin which may have been a monument in its day. He did not succeed, and motioned to me to come to his assistance. Finally our combined strength loosened the stone, which we raised and tipped to one side.

The removal of the slab revealed a black aperture, from which rushed an effluence of miasmal gases so nauseous that we started back in horror. After an interval, however, we approached the pit again, and found the exhalations less unbearable. Our lanterns disclosed the top of a flight of stone steps, dripping with some detestable ichor of the inner earth, and bordered by moist walls encrusted with niter. And now for the first time my memory records verbal discourse, Warren addressing me at length in his mellow tenor voice; a voice singularly unperturbed by our awesome surroundings.

“I’m sorry to have to ask you to stay on the surface,” he said, “but it would be a crime to let anyone with your frail nerves go down there. You can’t imagine, even from what you have read and from what I’ve told you, the things I shall have to see and do. It’s fiendish work, Carter, and I doubt if any man without ironclad sensibilities could ever see it through and come up alive and sane. I don’t wish to offend you, and Heaven knows I’d be glad enough to have you with me; but the responsibility is in a certain sense mine, and I couldn’t drag a bundle of nerves like you down to probable death or madness. I tell you, you can’t imagine what the thing is really like! But I promise to keep you informed over the telephone of every move—you see I’ve enough wire here to reach to the center of the earth and back!”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I can still hear, in memory, those coolly spoken words; and I can still remember my remonstrances. I seemed desperately anxious to accompany my friend into those sepulchral depths, yet he proved inflexibly obdurate. At one time he threatened to abandon the expedition if I remained insistent; a threat which proved effective, since he alone held the key to the thing. All this I can still remember, though I no longer know what manner of thing we sought. After he had obtained my reluctant acquiescence in his design, Warren picked up the reel of wire and adjusted the instruments. At his nod I took one of the latter and seated myself upon an aged, discolored gravestone close by the newly uncovered aperture. Then he shook my hand, shouldered the coil of wire, and disappeared within that indescribable ossuary.

For a minute I kept sight of the glow of his lantern, and heard the rustle of the wire as he laid it down after him; but the glow soon disappeared abruptly, as if a turn in the stone staircase had been encountered, and the sound died away almost as quickly. I was alone, yet bound to the unknown depths by those magic strands whose insulated surface lay green beneath the struggling beams of that waning crescent moon.

In the lone silence of that hoary and deserted city of the dead, my mind conceived the most ghastly fantasies and illusions; and the grotesque shrines and monoliths seemed to assume a hideous personality—a half-sentience. Amorphous shadows seemed to lurk in the darker recesses of the weed-choked hollow and to flit as in some blasphemous ceremonial procession past the portals of the mouldering tombs in the hillside; shadows which could not have been cast by that pallid, peering crescent moon.

I constantly consulted my watch by the light of my electric lantern, and listened with feverish anxiety at the receiver of the telephone; but for more than a quarter of an hour heard nothing. Then a faint clicking came from the instrument, and I called down to my friend in a tense voice. Apprehensive as I was, I was nevertheless unprepared for the words which came up from that uncanny vault in accents more alarmed and quivering than any I had heard before from Harley Warren. He who had so calmly left me a little while previously, now called from below in a shaky whisper more portentous than the loudest shriek: “God! If you could see what I am seeing!”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I could not answer. Speechless, I could only wait. Then came the frenzied tones again: “Carter, it’s terrible—monstrous—unbelievable!”

This time my voice did not fail me, and I poured into the transmitter a flood of excited questions. Terrified, I continued to repeat, “Warren, what is it? What is it?”

Once more came the voice of my friend, still hoarse with fear, and now apparently tinged with despair: “I can’t tell you, Carter! It’s too utterly beyond thought—I dare not tell you—no man could know it and live—Great God! I never dreamed of this!”

Stillness again, save for my now incoherent torrent of shuddering inquiry. Then the voice of Warren in a pitch of wilder consternation: “Carter! for the love of God, put back the slab and get out of this if you can! Quick!—leave everything else and make for the outside—it’s your only chance! Do as I say, and don’t ask me to explain!”

I heard, yet was able only to repeat my frantic questions. Around me were the tombs and the darkness and the shadows; below me, some peril beyond the radius of the human imagination. But my friend was in greater danger than I, and through my fear I felt a vague resentment that he should deem me capable of deserting him under such circumstances. More clicking, and after a pause a piteous cry from Warren: “Beat it! For God’s sake, put back the slab and beat it, Carter!”

Something in the boyish slang of my evidently stricken companion unleashed my faculties. I formed and shouted a resolution, “Warren, brace up! I’m coming down!” But at this offer the tone of my auditor changed to a scream of utter despair: “Don’t! You can’t understand! It’s too late—and my own fault. Put back the slab and run—there’s nothing else you or anyone can do now!”

The tone changed again, this time acquiring a softer quality, as of hopeless resignation. Yet it remained tense through anxiety for me.

“Quick—before it’s too late!”

I tried not to heed him; tried to break through the paralysis which held me, and to fulfil my vow to rush down to his aid. But his next whisper found me still held inert in the chains of stark horror.

“Carter—hurry! It’s no use—you must go—better one than two—the slab—”

A pause, more clicking, then the faint voice of Warren: “Nearly over now—don’t make it harder—cover up those damned steps and run for your life—you’re losing time—so long, Carter—won’t see you again.”

Here Warren’s whisper swelled into a cry; a cry that gradually rose to a shriek fraught with all the horror of the ages: “Curse these hellish things—legions—My God! Beat it! Beat it! BEAT IT!”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After that was silence. I know not how many interminable eons I sat stupefied; whispering, muttering, calling, screaming into that telephone. Over and over again through those eons I whispered and muttered, called, shouted, and screamed, “Warren! Warren! Answer me—are you there?”

And then there came to me the crowning horror of all—the unbelievable, unthinkable, almost unmentionable thing. I have said that eons seemed to elapse after Warren shrieked forth his last despairing warning, and that only my own cries now broke the hideous silence. But after a while there was a further clicking in the receiver, and I strained my ears to listen. Again I called down, “Warren, are you there?” and in answer heard the thing which has brought this cloud over my mind. I do not try, gentlemen, to account for that thing—that voice—nor can I venture to describe it in detail, since the first words took away my consciousness and created a mental blank which reaches to the time of my awakening in the hospital. Shall I say that the voice was deep; hollow; gelatinous; remote; unearthly; inhuman; disembodied? What shall I say? It was the end of my experience, and is the end of my story. I heard it, and knew no more—heard it as I sat petrified in that unknown cemetery in the hollow, amidst the crumbling stones and the falling tombs, the rank vegetation and the miasmal vapors—heard it well up from the innermost depths of that damnable open sepulcher as I watched amorphous, necrophagous shadows dance beneath an accursed waning moon.

And this is what it said: “You fool, Warren is DEAD!”

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 3, 2013 at 12:15 am

sepulchral resonances

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned earlier this week, a recent rip to St. Michael’s cemetery was accomplished on a lovely autumnal afternoon. Affinity for morbid settings notwithstanding, area cemeteries provide one with a peaceful and introspective interlude, free of the nonstop noise which typifies an existence in western Queens. Back home in Astoria, a never ending series of auditory distractions roll past beneath my windows and often elucidated is a desire for a few minutes of quiet. The well tailored grounds and open sight lines of the graveyard serve this purpose, and I was quite alone on this particular day, except for a rough looking trio who were celebrating a cannabis charged tribute to some departed compatriot.

from stmichaelscemetery.com

The original property for St. Michael’s Cemetery was purchased in 1852 by the Rev. Thomas McClure Peters and occupied seven acres. Over the years St. Michael’s gradually acquired additional land to its present size of approximately eighty-eight acres. Because it was Dr. Peters’ intention to provide a final dignified resting place for the poor who could not otherwise afford it, areas within the cemetery were assigned to other free churches and institutions of New York City. These areas are still held for the institutions they were assigned.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering about, I noticed this magnificent sepulchral portrait attached to a small monument. A once common practice, attaching a photographic portrait of the departed to their monument was accomplished by transferring the image to a ceramic matrix. Modern day mourners seem to be reviving the practice, although modern digital printing techniques involving the four color printing process and laser etching of the monument itself seem to be the preferred fashions. It offends some, referring to such practice as fashion- but if you spend as much time in cemeteries as I do- you discern certain typographic, linguistic, and symbolic patterns which seem to go in and out of vogue. For example- Obelisks, mausolea, usage of footstones or curbs, foliated columns, portraits etc.

The particular sepulchral portrait depicted in these shots is of Maria Concetta Niosi in life. 27 years old, she died on the 1st of April in 1919.

from thehistorychannelclub.com

In 1854 two French inventors patented a method for fixing a photographic image on enamel or porcelain by firing it in a kiln. These “enamels” were used for home viewing well into the 20th century, when the more convenient paper photos replaced them. The custom of attaching ceramic photos to tombstones spread throughout Southern and Eastern Europe and Latin America. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Italian and Jewish immigrants brought this practice to the United States. “Ceramic photo portraits . . . represent the first period in the history of gravestone manufacture in the United States when intense personalization became available—and affordable—on a large-scale basis,” says Richard E. Meyer, a professor at Western Oregon State College who has studied American cemeteries for more than 25 years. During the first decade of the 1900s, Sears-Roebuck advertised: “Imperishable Limoges porcelain portraits preserve the features of the deceased . . .” At “$11.20 for a photograph set in marble, $15.75 for one set in granite,” these portraits “competed with the cost of many burial plots.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Evidence of her life in the United States is scant, and although I have managed to find two people with similar names who appeared at the Ellis Island immigration facility- neither seems to fit the bill as being this individual. Perhaps Niosi was a married or assumed name she gained after immigration, or perhaps she came to the United States via Baltimore or Boston (with NY, all three were common ports of entry for the Italians).What struck me, other than the haunting image of a clearly formidable woman, was the pure physical size of this portrait. Normally, a sepulchral portrait is of a small oval or round shape and seldom larger than a modern 4×6 inch photographic print. The Niosi plaque was large, the size of a sheet of common day letter sized paper. This would have cost a small fortune in 1919, several times the price of the actual grave, and yet it was attached to this meager and barely noticeable stone marker.

Who was this woman?

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 16, 2012 at 12:15 am

common superstition

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Things have been relatively quiet over in St. Michael’s cemetery of late. The declaration refers to the lack of occultist activity, documented in earlier posts, at a certain spot which is high on a hill that has served some unknown individual in the past as an altar- likely in accordance with one of the syncretic Afro Cuban religions adhered to by many of the new neighbors in Queens who hail from the Caribbean and South American locales.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The week before Halloween, and Sandy, your humble narrator walked over to the polyandrion and surveyed the scene. By all appearances, there was little to report, with the exception of extraordinarily deep ruts in the ground thereabouts. By all appearances, it seemed that something quite heavy stood here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The ruts were in a roughly tripodal configuration, with a fourth that was not quite as deep. Other than this puzzling series of indentations, no bottles of fluid nor the presence of melted candles was detected. How I would love to set up a camera nest in a nearby tree on the night of a full moon, and witness what this unknowable cultist gets up to, but one does not hang around in cemeteries after the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself has set into the western sky. Not here, in the Newtown Pentacle.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 14, 2012 at 12:15 am

ecstasy and horror

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Although mysticism and the esoteric are dismissed casually (except for the dogma of organized religious denominations, of course, whose every fantastic claim of metacognition and supranormal “logic” is widely accepted as “gospel”), both the syncretic belief systems of foreign born peasant magick and long held folk superstitions are as much a part of the landscape of Western Queens and North Brooklyn as the concrete and steel which form it. The colonialists who conquered the western tip of Long Island were positive that witches, ghosts, and curses existed. Perhaps they were right, and perhaps we disregard their viewpoint at our peril. To wit, check out a posting which appeared here two years back- describing a haunting in Astoria.

The White Lady of Astoria, from a Halloween two years previous.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally witnessed, the vast cemeteries which distinguish and define western Queens and form the so called “Cemetery Belt” offer nocturnal privacy and ritual sanctity to 21st century sorcerers and other bizarre conjurors. Strange altars, burnt offerings, odd bits of symbolically knotted cord are so often observed by your humble narrator in these centuried polyandrions that scarce mention is made of them. One of the more obtuse and bold practitioners of the mystic arts used a certain hilltop in St. Michaels cemetery here in Astoria for rites that seemed to be tied to a lunar schedule for better than a year.

Pale Garden gathered together a series of postings on the weird activity at St. Michael’s Cemetery.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Found on a hill of Laurels, nearby that Lethe of New York City which is known as the Newtown Creek, First Calvary Cemetery was consecrated by the Archbishop of the Romans- Dagger John Hughes- in 1848. Visitors are warned not to spend too much time here, lest that which cannot possibly exist notice you. Sensitives and psychics avoid the place, for it is a font of buried ambition, and those who lie here refuse to be forgotten. Sanctified ground, the odd ceremonies which are observed at St. Michaels cannot take place here, due to the power of Dagger John’s wards, but still certain old world traditions and their leave behinds are observed in lonely corners and atop wind swept hills.

Remember the witch knots at Calvary, which were described in “Triskadekaphobic Paranoia“?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The high art of a prelate like Dagger John, or the disgusting practice of degenerates like Aleister Crowley find commonality in highly intellectual and overtly ritual observances. Peasant magick, however, whose tradition stretches back to the debauchment of slavery and the colonial oppression of the aboriginal cultures of the Americas may be observed everywhere one goes. Whether it is the “blue eye” talismanic wards of the Hellenes or the corner store Botanica of the Latinos, peasant magick surrounds and infiltrates our modern communities. Not long ago, this altar of handmade artifice was observed.

Little Memories described the odd altar encountered on Broadway and 43rd street in Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator grows increasingly concerned that the dime store spiritualism of pop culture “ghost hunters” is propagating both an acceptance of unblinking credulity and “magical thinking” in our culture. Skepticism and high standards of proof are required for extraordinary claims, and pseudo scientific methodology masks the propagation of a mystical world view which has led the nation to the current circumstance which threatens not just our personal liberty but the very existence of constitutional republicanism. Don’t forget that the last President of this Republic started a war based on the notion that his personal Deity had put him in office to do so. Accordingly, one morning I set out for Calvary Cemetery with the intention of capturing a “ghost photo”.

Scenes familiar, and loved presented what might be a “ghost orb” or “dust” at Calvary Cemetery’s Almirall chapel.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Halloween, folks, and if you’re looking for me today- I’m heading down to the Newtown Creek and will be searching high and low for all evidences of the Blissville Banshee.

I’ll be listening to this on my headphones, and would remind you that the old adage “The best trick of the Devil is convincing you that he doesn’t exist” is most often repeated by scurrilous and ambitious prelates trying to convince the gullible that their particular avatar of divinity does exist.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 31, 2011 at 11:10 am

with palpitant heart

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Startlingly interesting is the only way to describe the experiences of the preceding year. Attempts have been made to cogently describe and colorfully illustrate the encounters your humble narrator has enjoyed in this 10th year of the millennium. For those of you who have just recently started to read this, your Newtown Pentacle, this is your chance to check out some of the highlights of 2010 (according to me), and for the veteran Lords and Ladies of the Pentacle an opportunity to review.

If you’ll indulge me…

January, 2010- The Abbot

The sort of posting which satisfies me deeply, “The Abbot” monument found at Calvary focused my attentions on certain realities of 19th century New York, and proved my theory that Calvary Cemetery is the single greatest historical resource in Queens. Obviation of my satisfaction with the posting is provided by the admission that I had noticed the stone peripherally, found it interesting, and started shooting it with no idea at all about its meaning. Only at home, when reviewing the photos did the whole story come together. Al Smith is buried at Calvary as well (he’s the fellow who built the skyscraper seen in the night shot at the head of this post) but this paragraph is about January 2010 and Governor Smith’s story was told in 2009.

January, 2010- The Great Machine

Also in January, a pet ideation was advanced, one not of theory but of perception. The notion of the megalopolis figures heavily in my thinking- a concept that sees the eastern seaboard of the United States not as a series of cities, but rather one vast urban zone of varying densities with New York City at the titular center of a web of industry, transport, and agricultural systems. The center of the web has a center itself, which is Manhattan- specifically where it connects to “the Great Machine” of the Queensboro bridge and it’s corollaries.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

February 2010- Affordable Housing Development on Borden Avenue

This post, “Affordable Housing Development on Borden Avenue“,  is included in the year end wrap up simply because it ended up being one of the more widely read and commented upon endeavors presented in 2010. Most likely, it was the linking shout out from Queenscrap that made it so, rather than any subjective quality or incisive observation. Homeless camps abound in the Newtown Pentacle, hidden away on seldom trodden lanes and along backwater pathways- in this case it’s alongside the oft delayed construction project at the Borden Avenue Bridge which spans Dutch Kills.

February 2010- horrible and unearthly ululations…

A lot of time was spent in 2010 trying to wrap my head fully around the story of the Newtown Creek (which culminated ultimately in the late October release of the first Newtown Pentacle book- Newtown Creek for the vulgarly curious) and “horrible and unearthly ululations…” was the first of several posts which attempted to boil complicated and obscure snippets of historical lore into a cohesive and accessible form. So much is made of the Greenpoint Oil Spill and the Meeker Avenue Plumes by the legal community, whose hungry jowls slaver and shake at the financial possibilities offered by the EPA’s superfund designation and various court decisions, that the true and terrible wonder of the Newtown Creek is often overlooked. This post and several others of its ilk attempt to present a fuller version of things, and act as reminders that what was may once again be.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

March 2010- The Shadow over Sunnyside

The St. Pat’s Day for All parade in Sunnyside is a yearly event which draws in a citywide coterie of political entities, all desperate for attention and attribution as being friendly to the GLTG members of the electorate. The parades origins are a reaction against the banning of outwardly gay marchers in the RC church’s own St. Patricks day parade in Manhattan. Despite its politically contentious birthing, the Sunnyside parade is actually a fun and light hearted event, and signals the coming of springtime in the Newtown Pentacle. While there principally to get shots of the political master race which rules over us, amongst the crowd I noticed small clots of dire intent armed with ugly signage. Research into this group, which was clearly coordinated and queerly ominous, revealed them to be adherents to a bastardized form of Catholic fundamentalism which has been outlawed and defined as a dangerous cult by several Nation-states. A shadow over Sunnyside indeed.

March 2010- Exhausted

A brighter experience for your humble narrator was the Manhattan Bridge Centennial Time Capsule event, on March 5. Interactions and conversations were enjoyed by the least of men with certain powers and potentates of the City of Greater New York and entry to the interior space of the Manhattan Bridge was obtained. One of the high points of my year, “Exhausted” detailed the embedding of a time capsule in the East River Bridge #2- aka the Manhattan Bridge. Remarkable self control was exercised when I met the DOT Commissioner, Jeanette Sadik-Khan. My sincerest desire was to bend her ear with my alleged wisdom about bike lanes and bridge safety- but self control was ascendent that day and only congratulations were offered to both her and the other staffers at DOT.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

April 2010- City of Marble and Beryl

Odd shenanigans were observed at St. Michael’s Cemetery here in Astoria, which were of a decidedly magickal nature. A ritual site that your humble narrator stumbled across was examined and evidentiary examination suggested that certain third world cults were extant here in the old village of Astoria, conducting midnight bacchanals concurrent with the lunar cycle. “City of Marble and Beryl” was but the first of many moons which witnessed a working of will amongst the desolations of our kind.

April 2010- Searching for Gilman

A good part of 2010 was spent “Searching for Gilman” at First Calvary Cemetery, which I am doing as you are reading this, assuming it’s the start of 2011 whenever you do. Gilman is the source of no small amount of pain and financial hardship around these parts, as your humble narrator has become dangerously obsessive and paranoid around the subject. A psychotic need to find Gilman’s grave torments me, coloring my days and painting my dreams a dull yellow.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

May 2010- the king in yellow, brick

Remiss would be apparent were I to not mention the “Madison Avenue Bridge Centennial” but “the king in yellow, brick” advanced another of my pet theories and served up a fascinating (to me at least) sequence of events and relationships which attempts to explain why those yellow Kreischer bricks are all over the older sections of Queens.

May 2010- after cycles incalculable

After cycles incalculable” is another one of those perfect posts, from a personal perspective. Wandering around with a friend, which is a disturbing trend which developed over the course of 2010, at Skillman Avenue’s start we observed the Lemuria hatching in concordance with the anniversary of the Roman festival of Lemuralia in Long Island City.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

June 2010- from Hells Gate, loosed upon the world

When I set out on my little walks, there is seldom a destination in mind. Literally wandering, obscure symbols and pseudo occultism guide my steps- I’ll follow a black cat, or merely adopt a roughly heliotropic path using my own shadow as compass. At the very end of May, my feet carried me toward Astoria Park and the notorious section of the East River known as Hells Gate. The odd craft, an “unidentified floating object” if you would, which sped past my lens required more than a small bit of detective work to identify- which was detailed in “from Hells Gate, loosed upon the world“.

June 2010- Gods Gift to Pain

English Kills, which is the logical and modern end of Newtown Creek, is a heavily industrialized and largely anaerobic tributary of the larger waterway and is seldom visited (by me, at least) at its extant. One fine day, while hanging out with another Creek enthusiast (you should not go to this place alone), we decided to enter the largely hidden urban foyer which leads here- despite the fact that we were most likely trespassing- which violates Newtown Pentacle policy. The title of the post- “Gods Gift to Pain” was lifted from an enigmatic and appropriate bit of graffiti observed in this forgotten pace of dissolution and poison.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason for Brooklyn, and Queens- why it was a viable alternative to living in Manhattan in the 19th century was defined by the horrors of tenement life. The grand old buildings with their high ceilings, thick plastered walls, convenient dumbwaiters, and incredibly ornate lobbies- the structures which distinguished and made life desirable in the incalculably distant boroughs, were built as an alternative to the crowded and dangerous tenements of “The City”- especially the warren which was known as the “Five Points“. Additionally, Calvary Cemetery (of particular interest to me, and perhaps, to you) was founded by the parishioners of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral which is smack dab in the middle of this ancient labyrinth of poverty, crime, and squalor. It was decided that to fully understand what one observes in the remains of the supposed “answer to the problem”, exploration of “the problem” itself is required.

July 2010- Bandits Roost, 2010

Ideal source material for the textural and societal milieu of the Five Points is the admittedly biased “How the Other Half Lives” by 19th century do-gooder Jacob Riis. Speaking the truth that power wants to hear is always a sound move if one considers fiscal realities and historical reputation. Attempts were made to find the modern locale in which Riis shot some of his more famous shots, such as this visit to “Bandits Roost 2010“.

July 2010- The house of Dagger John

Another critical visitation for me, as part of my larger education and study of the early development of the City of Greater New York was occasioned on the day when I went to “The house of Dagger John“. Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral satisfies both my continuing fascination with the counterpoint of sacred and profane in the story of the Megalopolis, and figures largely in the predictions of certain obscure lore which governs the schedule of my researches.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

August 2010- not to harsh anyone’s buzz… but…

August of 2010 brought a posting which garnered a lot of attention, due to curbed.com noticing and linking to it. Simply noticing that a growing proliferation of small boats were berthing illegally at the Vernon Avenue street end, it would be irresponsible of me- given everything that I know about the location not to point out the mortal and existential danger that the operators of these boats were placing themselves in. It’s not even the water, really, its the high pressure natural gas line- the enormous CSO which drains LIC- the omnipresent heavy industrial maritime traffic- which makes the spot so hazardous. Mortal threats were received via email (which I’ve kept private), and the comments thread displayed an angry and accusatory tone. As is the case with all such critique, these comments were presented verbatim- here’s a taste: “i have red your article in which you show a great deal of unger towards me and my friends . i believe that you base your article on many misconceptions that are rooted in a lack of communication”, “Blogger or not, the prudent journalist would make an effort to uncover basic facts before publishing a story full of assumptions”, “are you just the type of little man that tells teacher when the cool kids make you feel inferior. The water is public domain! And according to maritime law it is not illegal to moor a boat as long as it safe and looked after.”, “They are not bothering anyone. And get sick from the canal, come on. They are not living down there as far as I know. Parking your boat in the canal is not going to get them sick! Stop over doing it.” Check out “not to harsh anyone’s buzz… but…“.

August 2010- lively antics


One of the greatest joys of living in Queens are the chance encounters you’ll have with people who hail from the furthest points of the compass, such as this Bouzouki player during another visit to Hells Gate. His “lively antics” added splendor to a brightly lit walk around Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

September 2010- Lucky Shot

Although veteran photographers caution me against use of this term, I call the photo above my “shot of the year”. The steel structure attached to the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge was installed as part of a bridge painting and maintenance project, and I was luckily along on a Working Harbor trip just as the sun was setting. Right place, right time, it was a “Lucky Shot“.

September 2010- stronger than fear

The dynamic new Safeboats utilized by NYPD and other entities around the harbor were a frequent subject over several of the Working Harbor expeditions I was lucky enough to attend. The many shapes, colorways, and missions of these quick little patrol boats are a delight to observe- and to those who would work maritime malice upon the metropolis- they are the head of the spear. Check out “stronger than fear“.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A high of the year was the Newtown Creek Cruise which I had the honor of co-narrating with Bernard Ente on October 24th, of course, but the main topic of conversation amongst the antiquarian and environmental communities of the Newtown Pentacle in October revolved around the EPA’s superfund announcement about Newtown Creek at the very end of September. October is spooky time around these parts, and I spent a little time digging around the area for thrills and chills as well.

October 2010- blurred outlines

As part of series of postings detailing what might be seen in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint, “blurred outlines” discusses the alleged appearance of a pyrokinetic at 84 Guernsey Street in January of 1895.

October 2010- scenes familiar, and loved

One of my frequent walks through Calvary Cemetery took me to the curiously empty chapel which enjoys the paramount of Laurel Hill. I will admit that I came here this day seeking two things- one was a likely entrance to a vast subterranean structure which underlies the area- the other was a vain hope that the grave of Gilman might present itself in a section which was, at the time, not terribly familiar to me as I normally stay close to the fringes of the place where the whipporwills wail. I very well might have captured what mass media paranormal media sources describe as a ghost orb in “scenes familiar, and loved“.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

November 2010- peace rests nevermore

One of the goals of this, your Newtown Pentacle, is to provide some sort of documentation about this terrible and wonderful place called the Newtown Creek- and I’m happy to say that I was there when the then Attorney General and Governor Elect Andrew Cuomo announced the settlement of a lawsuit brought by his office on behalf of New York State against Exxon-Mobil which involved the Greenpoint Oil Spill. “Peace rests nevermore” indeed.

November 2010- shocking coruscations

Entertaining maritime folklore from past centuries was offered in “shocking coruscations“, which is told against a series of twilight photos from good old Hells Gate between the two great bridges.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

During the cold, when inclement clime restricts my movements and the black dog nips at my heels, I tend toward shorter postings- and in December of 2010 there were two “Then and Now” postings that really took my fancy. These posts are difficult because of the scarce source material available in the public domain, but fun nevertheless. In my usual fashion “dumb idiot” fashion, I had shot the modern views completely unaware of the original photo. Our friends at the Greater Astoria Historic Society have recently released a book of similar historical views, which is worthy of consideration.

December 2010- Bowery Savings Bank 2010 and 1903

As the title states, this is the iconic shell of a once essential and awesomely powerful institution called the Bowery Savings Bank in Manhattan, with a 1903 photo from a similar perspective.

December 2010- Hunters Point Avenue Bridge Centennial

If you told me a year ago that I’d end up doing a press conference with a United States Congresswoman, I’d have hit you. That’s how I ended up at the Degnon Terminal’s own Sunshine Biscuits (LaGuardia Community College) building though, and by an odd coincidence- found myself standing in nearly the same spot as some unknown photographer did in 1921. This posting was built around the announcement of the “Hunters Point Avenue Bridge Centennial” event.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Overall, a positive and exciting year, despite the deaths of several members of my family.

For a while, I enjoyed a spot on the board of the nascent Newtown Historical Society as a trustee, which is a position that I’ve had to resign for a variety of personal reasons- but I’d like to thank fellow board members Kevin Walsh, Christina Wilkinson, Steve Garza, and Bob Singleton for an interesting and educational experience. Kevin Walsh of forgotten-ny gets a personal call out, as his support, knowledge, and encouragement has been invaluable. Special thanks also are extended toward Capt. John Doswell and Meg Black of the Working Harbor Committee, all the guys and gals aboard the John J. Harvey fireboat, and everybody else who allowed a piss poor specimen such as myself to come along on adventures. Bernard Ente of the Newtown Creek Alliance, Working Harbor, and others also receives a heartfelt gratitude and shout out from this humble mendicant. Standing on the shoulders of giants is difficult if you suffer from altitude related nosebleeds.

What’s next?

Tell you what, feel like taking a walk?

Meet me at the border of Brooklyn and Queens – bring a camera… and ID…  I’ll show you something cool…

pale garden

with 6 comments

The first posting in this series was “City of Marble and Beryl“, from the 7th of April in 2010. 1 The second posting in this series was “effulgent valleys“, from the 7th of May in 2010. 1 The third posting in this series was “Strange Prayers “, from the 7th of June in 2010.

June 27, 2010

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There are more shots in the following series up at my flickr page, if you care to view a few more of them. On the 27th of June, the day after a full moon, I found a white candle in front of the seeming altar. A few other incidentals were scattered about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Two cigars were in place, both had been lit at some point, but not smoked.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There was a curious residue in the grass, which looked to me like candle wax or some other sort of resinous substance.

July 26, 2010

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The 26th of July was a full moon, and I showed up the day of… just to see if any preparatory elements had appeared for the night’s ceremony. There were charred bits of grain and burned bone in the spot where the candle wax or resin was last month.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The white candle was smashed, probably by groundskeepers during routine mowing. I actually ran into a groundskeeper on this trip, an amiable but suspicious man who volunteered “I see all kinds shit up around here, bottles- knives- whatnot” when I queried him about the spot.

August 26, 2010

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The full moon was on the 24th in August, and obligation kept me from St. Michael’s until the 26th. Luckily, whoever is working this ritual site is fastidious, whereas the groundskeeping crew were concentrating on other more… modern… sections of the cemetery.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, there was a pan of what looked like peanuts (a kind of nuts at least), beans, and some sort of grain floating about in a frothy bath of water. There was intense rain just the day before, and the water very well might have been a natural accumulation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This time around, the candle was green, and nestled close to the altar.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Melted white wax was also apparent.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Additionally, there was a broken egg in the grass.

September 23, 2010

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Almost disappointed that “my man” didn’t show up on the moon of September 23rd, a humble narrator instead decided to think about the history of the place and the set of assumptions I’ve been operating under in recording this macabre series of scenes.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

First, the things I know for certain. The frequency of events at this location have been dropping off, after a flurry of activity at the start of the holy year at Easter. The site is set up along the meridian points of a compass, and it seems to have been following a lunar calendar since the early summer.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Meridian points.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

South

- photo by Mitch Waxman

East

- photo by Mitch Waxman

West

- photo by Mitch Waxman

North and approximately 100-150 yards away.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

North and approximately 175 yards away. Bingo.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Clockwork.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A plate of great price, north of the new site.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An odd necklace just south.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Can this be a medicine bag?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just East was this torn apart bird. My first instinct was that this was a kill by one of the many felines which patrol the cemetery,

- photo by Mitch Waxman

But this isn’t how cats kill, and the bird’s sundered remains were all present and the tell tale signs of carnivorous consumption were absent.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2010 at 2:11 am

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