The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘sunnyside’ Category

negative impact

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Credos, declarations, statements on the street – in Today’s Post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst wandering about, your humble narrator likes to take note of the various missives and graffitos encountered. Most of the graffiti you see are “tags” left behind by “writers” which indicate mainly that they have been there before you. There’s also the “art” types who do renderings and or complex paintings. You’ve also got the gang stuff, which is meant as either provocation or an announcement of territorial preeminence. My favorites are the credos, seeming attempts to liberate the minds of those who read them. Often, these credos are placed in highly visible locations, what the graffiti community would refer to as “a good wall.”

The shot above is from 48th street in Sunnyside, along the LIRR overhead tracks. This particular writer has been quite busy in the recent past.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A similar typographic style and brand of rhetoric has been appearing all over the study area which I call the Newtown Pentacle in recent months. The messaging above is found in Queens Plaza, and my presumption of its authorship is that it’s the same as the missive in the first shot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Probably not the same graffiti enthusiast, but this less than monumental declaration was recently witnessed on Jackson Avenue nearby the Court Square subway station.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Astoria, nearby Steinway Street’s intersection with Broadway, this messaging appeared one morning in the late autumn. Again, I believe, it’s the work of the person(s) featured in shots 1&2.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over at Socrates Sculpture Garden, this polemic was observed on a lamp post during the summer, but you’ll always find a whole lot of “artsy fartsy” graffiti near the institution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in Sunnyside, on 48th street near Skillman, a more permanent sort of scrawl was observed which mirrors the sentiment of the block printed missives found along the LIRR tracks, in Astoria, and Queens Plaza.

It’s not quite as eloquent, but there you are.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 3, 2016 at 11:00 am

used in

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Spectacle on the Boulevard of Death, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I had a bit of Newtown Creek related business to take care of, and found myself visiting the offices of a certain City Councilman last week to discuss the matter. As always, the exchange was amiable and after accomplishing the delivery of my missive to the office, I found myself wandering down Queens Boulevard in pursuit of a return to Newtown Pentacle HQ. My phone rang, and I wandered onto the median of the so called “Boulevard of Death” to discuss a friend’s upcoming Birthday celebration when a caterwaul sounded from the east bound lanes at the corner of Locust – or 44th street if you must.

An “accidental” had occurred. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seemed that some unlucky fellow, who was riding a bicycle and got struck by an automobile, was laid out on the Boulevard. Luckily, passerby were already calling 911 and guiding the always heavy traffic around the scene. There was also a USPS employee on scene, who was talking to the 911 operator, and since the NYS DMV has always told me – emphatically – that postal traffic has the right of way in all things traffic related, I felt like it was being sorted and did not require my intervention as the Feds were on it.

So, I stood there taking pictures. We all have a role to play.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bicyclist, who seemed stunned when I came upon the scene, suddenly began to writhe about. The car’s driver and passenger managed the victim’s bicycle while the aforementioned postal employee and a member of the gathering crowd of gawkers chided the poor fellow to “not move” and “stay down.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Regardless, he sat up, but seemed thunderstruck (or at least Mazda struck). Off to the north, in the direction of Skillman Avenue, sirens began to ring out – no doubt in response to the multiple 911 calls coming in from the gathering crowd of “lookie loo’s.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Woodside Warriors, Engine 325, arrived. As mentioned in the past, my reaction to the arrival of FDNY units is “everything is going to be all right now.” Accordingly, I put the lens cap on my camera and started back on my path towards Astoria. Such is life in Western Queens, and the traffic corridor of Long Island.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Our Lady of the Pentacle, when I was relating the tale above to her, asked me if I did anything to help. She immediately regretted asking, as I went through a whole set of “photographer” morality plays with her. It’s an odd thing, actually. My moral dilemmas about recording an event versus participating in it are rather tame.

Look at the war photographers for the true soul searching about whether or not you should stand there taking pictures or intervene while someone is bleeding out.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 25, 2016 at 11:00 am

grotesque night

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Vampires be damned, I’m going out!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you might recall, last Thursday saw the Newtown Pentacle experiencing a temperature inversion whose unseasonable warmth generated a not insignificant amount of mist and fog. Atmospheric humidity was measured in the high end of the ninetieth percentiles, and the air temperature – even at night – never dipped below seventy degrees on that scale which was offered by and named for German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit in 1724. Accordingly, one decided to stay up and go out into the fuligin.

After preparing and quaffing several decanters of caffeinated beverages, and having slavishly outfitted the camera bag for “night shooting,” I left Astoria at four in the morning, with a certain destination in mind, and my full kit on my back (including tripod). The tripod wasn’t deployed for a while, however, and all of the shots you’ll see over the next couple of days are handheld.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One decided on 48th street as offering my best southern path from “a” to “b,” with “b” in mind as being the lugubrious Newtown Creek. This is essentially one long incline, passing from the former marshlands of Northern Blvd., over the ridge into which Sunnyside Gardens was embedded, and continuing up the crest of Laurel Hill whereupon a gradual descent to the elluvial flood plains of the Newtown Creek and its tributaries once suffused a vast and mosquito breeding wetland environment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thickening of the atmosphere – due to the high humidity – and combined with ascending the gradual slope, caused a heavy wave of perspiration to start which was soon oozing out of my skinvelope. This occult liquid, thick with secretions, began to soak into my clothing and cause no small amount of discomfort. Of more concern was the effect which the atmospherics might be having on my camera, which – unlike the meaty carriage utilized to carry my brain around – was functionally the same temperature as the surrounding mass of air so accretions of airborne moisture sought to coat it. I had long ago stored away my eye glasses, as their continual fogging made them more trouble than they were worth.

High humidity plus air temperatures in the chillier range, to the glassy parts of a lens, are a terrible combination. Condensation is ruinous. The prophylactic measure is to hold the camera close to my body, which warms it up a bit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Passing over Queens Blvd., and under the elevated concrete viaduct of the high flying IRT subway tracks, one began to feel a bit creeped out. It is an odd sensation moving through a City in the dark, knowing full well that any of the humans encountered will likely be inebriated or possessed of malign intent – or possibly some combination. Sex criminals and burglars are out at 4:30 in the morning – as well as photographers, it would seem.

As always, my headphones were in place, and the playlist of audio books employed for my night time jaunt were exclusively the writings of H.P. Lovecraft – as read in unabridged form by Wayne June.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maybe it was the Lovecraft, or June’s basso performance of the material, but one found himself looking over his shoulder a lot. In the shadows and mist, unccommented upon men – if men they were – moved about in a manner which suggested that some series of neighborhood bacchanals had been well attended. All around me were cemeteries, ancient burying grounds locked away behind high iron gates. The desire to trespass was cut down by the sure knowledge that there are some things one does not wish to know.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the height of Laurel Hill, the darkened streets began to brighten as the phosphorescence and sodium lighting of industrial West Maspeth began to illuminate the fog and mist. A quickness of step began to sharply increase my pace, which unfortunately began to increase the levels of perspiration one was experiencing.

Realization that my hair and clothing were saturated, and that although I was perspiring heavily, there was no way that this amount of liquid could have emerged out of me caused me to wonder – and more than wonder – why I was so moist.

The fact that I was walking through a gaseous vapor, a grounded cloud as it were, occurred when a casual touch revealed that my camera bag had become somewhat moistened as well. The closer I got to Newtown Creek, the more that an obsequious combination of automotive exhaust combining with the fog began to roil the olfactory senses, and my eyes began to sting. Regardless of discomfort, one had come this far, and the creeklands awaited.

Tomorrow – more.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm

lay supine

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Woodside into Sunnyside, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around one recent afternoon, a humble narrator found himself on the always fascinating Roosevelt Avenue. As mentioned in the past, the entire length of Roosevelt Avenue is a challenging spot to gather photographs due to the presence of the elevated tracks of the 7 subway line and the shadows which fall away from it and paint the streets. Combine this with the presence of bright afternoon light, and you’ve got a real pickle in terms of exposure.

One likes a challenge, and the shot above was captured at the spot in Woodside where the 7 meets the Long Island Railroad.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was meant to meet up with some folks in Sunnyside, at a pub on Skillman Avenue, at the end of my perambulation. That’s why one found himself staring at this bodega at the top of Skillman’s sloping hill, and a bit of graffiti caught my eye, so I crossed over to the north side of the street to get a better view.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just as I got into position, two Latino kids also appeared with their cameras (smartphones, natch) and we started to chat about the whole Trump thing. Personally, I’ve been enjoying watching “The Donald” use the National Republican Party’s well oiled “hate machine” against itself, but let me tell you – these kids were PISSED OFF, and they have every right to be. It’s been a long time since a Presidential candidate ran for office using race baiting as part of his platform – I think the last one might have been Strom Thurmond. We laughed a bit, and made a couple of “You’re Fired” jokes.

One of the kids then asked me how much I paid for my camera, so that’s when I decided it was time to get back on Skillman and go meet up with my chums.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 20th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 4, 2015 at 12:10 pm

well realized

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The native art form of Queens, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Venturi. That’s technically the name of the flame structure which a stove top burner is meant to form when gas is pumped through it and ignited by a pilot light. This burner was noticed on the corner of Queens Blvd. at 39th street, and won’t be heating up a can of Campbell’s Tomato soup anytime soon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This shattered sink basin was found way over on the northern side of Astoria, and artfully arranged in a tree pit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria Blvd. offered one this lovely bit of craft, and don’t think I didn’t notice the amount of effort which went into creating the floral motif. Illegal dumping, as I’ve often asserted, is the native art form of Western Queens. It’s done with a panache and attention to both detail and installed composition that you just don’t find elsewhere.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Skillman Avenue, alongside the Sunnyside Yards, a bit of furniture was posed provocatively for the pleasure of perambulating pedestrians to both peruse and ponder.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also on Skillman Avenue, a somewhat abstract expressionist amalgam of broken furniture boards was offset by a carefully placed mirror box by some unknown auteur.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Northern Blvd. displayed this graphic composition to me one morning, and I wondered if it was the same artisan responsible for the Astoria Blvd. radial flower that created this piece.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Purely modern – an installation, if you will – this composition was observed along Jackson Avenue in the Court Square area, across the street from the Citigroup Megalith.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

September 20th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

not describe

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You really just have to love them Astoria industrial zones.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While performing a perambulation back to Astoria’s southern border where Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself maintain our HQ, after taking a look at the Steinway Mansion found on the forbidden northern coast of Queens – one encountered this comical doorway on an industrial building.

The “danger” sign seemed apt, as there was a drop of about a yard from the door to the sidewalk. Somewhere out there, I thought, there’s an architect who has a bit of string tied around his finger to remind him to complete a task.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another view of it, just for perspective.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oddly, after rounding the corner, I discovered that there was another doorway on the eastern face of the building offering a similar hazard. Is this some kind of “thing”?

You really, really, have to just adore the industrial sections of Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oddly, on another walk, this time from the southern border of Queens at Newtown Creek back to Astoria’s Broadway section via Sunnyside – another structure was noticed which seemed to be missing something. This time around it was a residential structure whose entrances would be noticeably difficult to access. Perhaps that nameless architect has more than one piece of string tied about multitudinous digits.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

September 3rd, 2015
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Open House NY, click here for details and tickets.

September 20th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 2, 2015 at 11:00 am

no worse

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The world is not as it should be, rather it is as it is and always has been.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When a humble narrator was a boy, there were quite a few “doomsday scenarios” in play. Existential threats included the probable outbreak of a global thermonuclear war fought between the United States and the Soviet Union and the so called “population bomb” which was meant to cause mass starvation (predictions included the deaths of over 60 million Americans due to food shortages – a third of the population at the time). There was also an ozone hole which was meant to BBQ farm and city alike, an atmospheric phenomena whose formation was blamed on the presence of certain chemicals in aerosol hair spray cans. Additionally, an ice age was thought to be just around the corner, one which would depopulate the northern hemisphere and force humanity to cluster about Earth’s equator.

Slightly lower on the scale – but still terrifying – were threats posed by the rise of violent crime, disestablishmentarianism, and the rise of narcoterrorism. The world was ending, so say your prayers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a whole set of existential worries afoot these days – sea level rise, global warming, the rise of religion based terrorism, etc. Since these terrors are routinely explored in mainstream media, there’s no reason to repeat them as I’m sure you’re quite familiar with the various story lines. There’s a lot of drums that get beat upon by the “usual suspects.”

For those on the so called “left” – any factory or mill is by definition “satanic.”

For those on the so called “right” – the natural world is merely a collection of unharnessed natural resources.

The lefties want to see strict regulatory controls enacted on business, capital, and seek to curtail personal liberties in the name of protecting populations whom they have decided are vulnerable. The righties wish for an unfettered business environment, cessation of tax and regulation, and to curtail personal liberties in the name of protecting themselves. Both poles see society as teetering on the brink of destruction. Some predict a second American Civil War as being just around the corner.

Both sides populated by absolutists, who are dwellers in ivory towers. One set of towers is found in academia, the others on Wall Street. Both forget about the rest of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are no Mongol armies about to ride over the hill and force our village to submit to their yoke. If there were, these Mongols would meet the United States Marines, or the Russian Spetsnaz, or the British SAS and there would soon be no more Mongols. It’s no secret that the biggest problem encountered by the United States military in its recent wars was how to fight a war in which you don’t exterminate the entire population of any given country and instead just target the bad guys.

Superman would have to consciously pull his punches when apprehending bank robbers. One good punch from the big guy could reduce a human’s head to a spray of red mist, and his gaze could easily immolate. Criminals in Metropolis would seldom need to be reminded of what they’re dealing with. Neither would the ones in Gotham City.

The lefties would want Superman or Batman jailed for vigilante activity, and the righties would want them to go overseas and slaughter some Mongols.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I find both arguments pedantic. There are so many things commonly agreed upon, that are actionable, which get lost in this ideological tug of war that it actually depresses me. Don’t throw litter and garbage into the street? Be nice to each other and don’t call people ugly names? Don’t feign political naïveté? Don’t call yourself a “progressive” when you don’t understand what that means?

Maybe I’m just getting old. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Maybe everybody else is right, and the Mongols are in fact coming to get us – or we should celebrate their vibrant diversity. The division between the two points of view is exactly the sort of thing which wily old Chingis Khan would have expolited. The Khans viewed themselves as appointed by God itself to rule mankind, and Chingis often referred to himself as “God’s curse.” The Mongol term for submission and peace used the same word.

The Khans would send a rider to the village gates before an attack, who would pronounce the following (the actual quotation is lifted from a letter sent to Pope Innocent IV, in 1246, by Chingis Khan’s grandson Güyük):

“You must say with a sincere heart: “We will be your subjects; we will give you our strength”. You must in person come with your kings, all together, without exception, to render us service and pay us homage. Only then will we acknowledge your submission. And if you do not follow the order of God, and go against our orders, we will know you as our enemy.”

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 2nd, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek – Bushwick & Mapeth Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

August 8th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills – LIC Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 30, 2015 at 10:37 am

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