The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘sunnyside’ Category

by surprise

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Cool atmospherics in Sunnyside.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those periodic blasts of duty has been upon me for the last week or so, a lot to do with little time to do it, and the rain last week didn’t help. Got in the way of one project, delayed two others, and obliterated any semblance of free time when precipitants fell not. Accordingly, rather than walking everywhere, as I just did not have the time, mass transit was utilized.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unlike several of my friends, especially that walking encyclopedia of regional transport options – Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY, I generally don’t familiarize myself with transit lines that I don’t frequent. Limited space available on my internal hard drives, and the needs of the now often crowd out things I don’t need to use often. However, I was quite proud of myself while improvising a bus and train path on the fly, just the other day, which is how I ended up on the 7 train.

Normally, I’d just walk from Greenpoint to Flushing, as it’s only a few miles and carries one across a staggeringly interesting cross section of Brooklyn and Queens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that the first walking tour of 2014 is now accomplished, on Saturday I did the “13 Steps around Dutch Kills” tour with Atlas Obscura, which was one of the many things I had to do last week. Next tour with the Obscura Society will be “The Poison Cauldron of the Newtown Creek” on April 26, tickets are available here.

The reason I was heading to Flushing, and lucky enough to catch these cool atmospherics and lighting in Sunnyside, was to get some shots of the Unisphere for my Brownstoner column – check them out here.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

crush and engulf

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Late again, sorry. Here’s why.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Since the weather broke, your humble narrator has lost nary a minute to the Newtown Pentacle, and much in the way of shoe rubber has been expended in the last few days. Saturday, I walked the so called entire “upper creek” (the area of Newtown Creek found between Maspeth Creek and English Kills, which borders Ridgewood and Bushwick). Sunday, I was in Greenpoint all day, but sadly missed getting a shot of that baby seal which turned up at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Monday (yesterday), I conducted a tour of the lower Creek for a group of film students from Pratt University, and this afternoon, I’m hoping to find some time to pop over to Hell Gate in the hope of capturing some interesting images of maritime traffic.

Recent efforts of note - which appear on external websites – include a series of posts describing the non profit scene of Red Hook on the Red Hook Water Front site, and my coverage of Sunnyside’s St. Pat’s Day for All parade can be found at Brownstoner Queens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It is magnificent, this throwing off of the shackles of ice and snow, and returning to the streets. Conversely, a humble narrator’s physique has largely transformed into a quivering jelly over this long winter, and every muscle in my legs and back are liberally painted with lactic acids. Hopefully, within a few weeks, I’ll be back in fighting condition and enjoy a fineness of fettle.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 11, 2014 at 2:42 pm

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.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 10, 2014 at 9:30 am

terrible phantasms

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Photographing professional photographers while they photograph.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pro photographers, particularly the press folks, are know for… ahem… sharp elbows. When your dinner depends on getting the shot before the hundred other people standing around you can, this is a talent you learn to develop. Your humble narrator, a retiring sort of fellow who always aspires to let someone else have the last piece of cake, stood amongst this corps of elbows yesterday.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The event was the St. Pat’s Day for All parade, an annual event in Sunnyside. It attracts elected officials like flies, so an army descends upon Skillman Avenue assembled from Newspapers, TV Stations, and every “legitimate” news gatherer in New York. None of these people pay the slightest attention to Queens the rest of the time, so its kind of galling watching them take over for the afternoon.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Worst of all is when these photographing photographers and reporters “cock block” my shots. The TV people are the worst about this, as depicted above, when Bobby Cuza from NY1 starts interviewing Michael Gianaris right in front of me. I figured I’d get this as my shot instead of just the Senator, and if you hear a shutter flipping about in the NY1 interview footage when it airs, that’ll be me – as the TV camera was inches from my own lens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I can only imagine what Paparazzi work is like, what with having to fight off Alec Baldwin and all. That would require very sharp elbows, I think. Also, I need to figure out how to get myself a press pass. When I said “blog” to the NYPD Community Affairs Officer he actually made a “pffft” sound and told me to get behind the barrier. Luckily, I snuck in to the press pen by sticking close to NY1′s Bobby Cuza and his camera operator as they entered. Heh.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

March 3, 2014 at 9:31 am

singular beetles

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My friend Gil Lopez makes people in Queens want to eat bugs.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

“Discover Edible Insects” is what the invitation said, adjuring me to join with others interested in Entomophagic practice. My pal Gil Lopez, who works with Greening Queens Library, was going to be conducting the session at the Library on Greenpoint Avenue and 43rd street so I said “sure.”

from wikipedia

Entomophagy (from Greek ἔντομον éntomon, “insect”, and φᾰγεῖν phagein, “to eat”) is the consumption of insects as food. Insects are eaten by many animals, but the term is generally used to refer to human consumption of insects; animals that eat insects are known as insectivores. There are also some species of carnivorous plants that derive nutrients from insects.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Gil is from the Deep South, yet has no discernibly southern inflection to his voice, which is a little suspicious. He is, however, a heck of guy- and one of the proprietors at Smiling Hogshead Ranch (an urban farm in LIC). He pulled a pretty nice crowd, I have to say, especially for a library on a cold Monday night in Queens.

from livescience.com

As the human population continues to inch closer to 8 billion people, feeding all those hungry mouths will become increasingly difficult. A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Gil helps run a composting program at this and other libraries and is a pretty serious example of practicing what you preach. Like I said, cool guy. Except for when he makes children eat insects. He had several commercial preparations with him, and ordered several pizzas.

from insectsarefood.com

Bugs are safe to eat as long as you purchase them from a reliable source or raise them yourself. You do not want to take bugs from the wild because you don’t know what sort of pesticides or other chemical sources they’ve come into contact with. A good rule of thumb to follow is to avoid eating any brightly colored, hairy or spiny bugs, as they are likely to be poisonous. Most caterpillars are similarly inedible. In all cases of food consumption, a safe and reliable source equals a safe and healthy die

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The insects were sprinkled liberally about, which made the pizza appear to be a sort of comedy prop- not unlike latex vomit or a rubber chicken. Both of which I personally would eat first.

from fao.org

In Western societies – where protein is still largely derived from domesticated animals – insects are virtually synonymous with nuisance: mosquitoes and flies invade homes, the former leaving behind unwanted bites; termites destroy wood possessions; and some insects end up in meals (triggering the disgust factor).

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There are certain things which I just cannot do, lord and ladies. I don’t eat anything with mushrooms, for instance, because they are evil. The excuse that “that ain’t kosher” is only true in some cases, as apparently Moses had a taste for grasshoppers when he was living with the Goyem in Egypt.

Me, I ain’t Moses.

also from fao.org

Common prejudice against eating insects is not justified from a nutritional point of view. Insects are not inferior to other protein sources such as fish, chicken and beef. Feelings of disgust in the West towards entomophagy contributes to the common misconception that entomophagy in the developing world is prompted by starvation and is merely a survival mechanism. This is far from the truth. Although it will require considerable convincing to reverse this mentality, it is not an impossible feat (Pliner and Salvy, 2006). Arthropods like lobsters and shrimps, once considered poor-man’s food in the West, are now expensive delicacies there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Living the sort of life that I do, trying to be fully aware of everything all the time because if I don’t… I’m fully aware of the fact that I’m ingesting bugs all the time. How many times have I mentioned the presence of rat droppings in the slipstream atmospherics of the subway? Thing is, I’ve got to just chalk this one up to food prejudice. I’ll only consciously eat vertebrates, when meat is involved, when sitting down to a meal.

from eatocracy.cnn.com

By some experts’ estimates, the average person inadvertently downs about one pound of insect parts a year, in foods as varied as chocolate (which can contain 60 insect components per 100 grams by law in the United States), peanut butter (30 insect parts per 100 grams) and fruit juice (up to five fruitfly eggs and one to two larvae for every 250 milliliters).

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I took Marine Biology in High School, so instead of dissecting a fetal pig or frog we did lobsters and clams. You should never, ever, make an attempt to understand what the anatomical details and employment lifestyle of common table items if you desire to continue eating them. Never ate sea bugs on purpose, and especially since I learned the true meaning and ramifications of the word “bioaccumulator,” which will damn us all.

What I mainly learned in Marine bio was that ultimately, only the worms will win out.

from wikipedia

Details of delusional parasitosis vary among sufferers, but it is most commonly described as involving perceived parasites crawling upon or burrowing into the skin, sometimes accompanied by an actual physical sensation (known as formication). Sufferers may injure themselves in attempts to be rid of the “parasites”. Some are able to induce the condition in others through suggestion, in which case the term folie à deux may be applicable.

Nearly any marking upon the skin, or small object or particle found on the person or his clothing, can be interpreted as evidence for the parasitic infestation, and sufferers commonly compulsively gather such “evidence” and then present it to medical professionals when seeking help. This presenting of “evidence” is known as “the matchbox sign” because the “evidence” is frequently presented in a small container, such as a matchbox.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The photographer never eats at the same time as the guests, of course, so unfortunately all the bugs were consumed by the group shortly after service. A good time was had by all, and there were a few kids who obviously loved the whole “Edible Insect” experience. Eating bugs at the Queens Library on a Monday night in January, adrift on the sea of an entomophobic’s nightmarish visions.

from wikipedia

Entomophobia (also known as insectophobia) is a specific phobia of one or more classes of insect. More specific cases included apiphobia (fear of bees) and myrmecophobia (fear of ants).

The symptoms associated with this phobia are similar to the symptoms manifested with many other irrational fears. An entomophobic is likely to experience enough anxiety upon viewing or otherwise coming into contact with an insect that he or she experiences a full-blown series of panic attacks. With extreme cases, the individual may lose consciousness for a short period of time. Uncontrollable weeping or a strong desire to flee from the area are also common signs that indicate an individual is suffering with this particular phobia.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 9, 2014 at 7:30 am

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