The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

terrific doctrines

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Today marks the 206th anniversary of Edgar Allen Poe’s birth.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent opportunity found a humble narrator tramping about in Machpela Cemetery over in the Glendale section, not far from the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. This cemetery was established in 1855, part of the build out of burying grounds that followed the Rural Cemeteries Act, and when it opened visitors would have told you that this non sectarian yet overwhelmingly Jewish polyandrion was found in Newtown.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Those of you knowledgable about Machpela have probably already guessed what drew me here – to a cemetery which sits across the street from the far larger Cypress Hills Cemetery – but I’ll be discussing “him” later in the week over at my Brownstoner column. Instead, since this is the first time that Machpela has been visited by a humble narrator, photos from a stroll around the place are presented today.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There seemed to be quite a lot of grounds keeping issues at Machpela, with ancient trees dropping large limbs, or as above – the entire tree went down. Pictured above was a tree whose trunk had been segmented by workmen. The thing appeared to have been struck by lightning, presuming that the blasted black char observed on several of the segments was caused by atmospheric electrical discharge. The fallen tree wiped out a whole section of monuments on its way down, which were tumbled about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Fallen limbs were observed everywhere at Machpela, and there were a couple of places which seemed none too safe. Perhaps the unusual amount of rain and wind we’ve experienced in the last few months contributed to the carnage, but as in the shot above – many of these broken branches seem to have sat undisturbed and in the position that gravity and inertia placed them in long enough for decay to set in.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

To be fair, older cemeteries like this one suffer from conditions of severe financial hardship. All across the so called “Cemetery Belt” in Queens and Brooklyn are graveyards which were largely filled by the end of the First World War a century ago. If any surviving relatives persist in the area, the cemetery corporations find it difficult to collect any funds for the upkeep of a great great grandfather’s grave from them. New interments are few, and the operating funds available to modern management of cemeteries like Machpela are slim pickings.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 19, 2015 at 11:00 am

rattling and beating

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Meshuggenehs, all of us.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting exercise was undertaken recently, which involved the peeling back of hardened scabs and callouses. Whilst browsing the vast interwebs recently, a link carried me over to YouTube. A recording of “The Howard Stern show,” which was broadcasting live during the September 11th attacks, was perused. The reactions of Howard and his crew to the attacks as they happened put me in touch with my own experiences that day, and opened up an old wound. This touched off a spate of reviewing broadcasts, both news and scripted drama, produced in the aftermath of the attacks. One remembers the emotional numbness of the time, when it seemed that nothing would ever be funny again, and the paramount question of that moment in time – raised over and over – was “why do they hate us.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All these years later, the answers offered by the entertainment industry – whether asked by the hosts of what passes for news in our nation or as interpreted by dramaturges – boiled down to “freedom.” Aside from a childish lack of knowledge about the actual foreign policy of, and an unvarnished look at the actions of the United States in the second half of the 20th century, what struck me was the notion we held about ourselves back then. The general gist of what folks wanted in the months following the attacks was to “unleash” the CIA, and to teach the rest of the world “who’s the boss.” I guess we’ve got that now – with our fleets of flying robot assassins, institutional torture, and a gulag in Cuba. If you’ve got the time, I suggest you scan the web in a similar fashion, as it’s an interesting thing to see what our world was once like and how far we’ve travelled in a very short time. Remember “freedom fries”?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An urban myth is put to rest, incidentally, in the shot above. “Ever notice how you never see a dead pidgeon” is the particular yarn, something I’ve heard repeated over and over. I see a LOT of dead pidgeons, and have photos to prove it. An urban myth which the September 11th attacks actually put to bed was the efficacy of the so called “Emergency Alert System,” whose tests interrupted television and radio broadcast throughout my childhood. It was nowhere to be found on 911, despite there being an actual emergency in my area. Additionally, the Emergency Alert System didn’t seem to activate during Hurricane Sandy either.

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terrible injuries

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Aching, painful butt? Get outside, I say.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, one forced himself off the couch, dared the frigid antibiome of Queens, and moved. Movement is difficult in this sort of weather, as one needs to swaddle himself in insulation. Sometimes I like to weigh myself unclothed, just out of the shower, and then get back on the scale after getting dressed. One recent day, I realized that I was wearing twenty seven pounds of clothes. We are all forced to carry baggage, I reckon, but no one is encouraging me to just sit on the couch so I picked myself up and went out – into the cold waste.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This crow was spotted over in Flushing, walking a cart of harvested alloys towards an Iron Triangle scrap yard for conversion into cash. He’s walking in a vehicle lane on the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge, which is ill considered – “vision zero” wise. Just before and about a minute after this shot was captured, vehicles moving at speed nearly struck him, dual events which really seemed to tick him off. The auto drivers offered the crazy notion that he should be using the pedestrian lane. Chalk this one up to “user error,” I guess.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Roaming into the park via the pedestrian bridge that connects the LIRR station with the Subway stop at Citifield, many sevens were present, but it was seven sevens that were focused upon. This is the MTA’s Corona Yard, which is next door to an MTA Bus terminal. All very exciting, except for the fact that due to track work, the train wasn’t running on the day I shot this and that I live way over in Astoria. Probably why there’s so many of them just standing around and apparently looking for something to do.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

considerable extent

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Just a short one today, but… Sludge Boat, baby, Sludge Boat!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, while on a ferry to Red Hook, (long story) the Port Richmond Sludge Boat was spotted. You might recall a recent post which described the christening and official launch of the three new exemplars of the NYC DEP’s sludge collection vessels, but if you don’t – here’s a link to a 2014 Newtown Pentacle post that discusses it. Long time readers know that I’m a bit obsessed with sludge boats, for some reason.

These boats are “MV’s” or municipal vehicles, which means that you and I own them. They are ours. Now if only DEP would lend me the keys.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

All three examples of this new class were designed with Newtown Creek in mind, as this kind of MV’s can pass under the Pulaski Bridge at high tide, without requiring the drawbridge to open. Gross tonnage is 2,772 on these vessels, they’re 290 feet long with a draught of 4.3m. There’s three of them operating in NY Harbor now – Hunts Point, Rockaway, and as pictured above Port Richmond.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 14, 2015 at 12:30 pm

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

splitting and chipping

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The Astoria Tumbleweeds doth roll about.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The little trees which the human infestation tends to adorn their hovels with during the month of December pile up on the sidewalks around these parts during the first weeks of January, waiting for the wind to take them to new and novel locales. Just last week, one of the abandoned tumbleweeds was observed laconically rolling about in the middle of the street, for instance. Everywhere you go, the Astoria Tumbleweeds doth roll.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion carried me over to 36th avenue recently, nearby the Kaufman Astoria movie studio complex. That’s where the garish lighting affixed to the former Famous Players studio building, as seen in the shot above, was observed. One loves LED lighting, as the technology has allowed a new class of compact and inexpensive flashlights that possess incredible powers of illumination to find their way into my hands, but those color changing architectural ones have to go. You’ll notice these installations all over Astoria, and despite the splash of bright color, these LED color changing accent lights are somewhat lowbrow and tasteless, harkening one to remember the neon colors popular during the 1980’s – when it seemed that a box of highlighters had exploded and distributed their day glow inks all over the city.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, the DSNY has issued instructions for the proper disposal of the resinous holiday trees, designed to aid the agency in putting this lumber to good use via the process of mulching. Unfortunately, the heavy winds typical of January and the presence of hundreds of illegally converted basement apartments (wherein the residents of said units are instructed by landlords to hide their presence from City officialdom by placing household trash in the street refuse wire collection baskets) result in these discarded bits of holiday cheer rolling about the street. Thusly are the Astoria Tumbleweeds released back into the wild, and freed to roam about the neighborhood.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

loftiest reward

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Twirling, ever twirling.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, occasion brought me to Red Hook to work on an assignment, and in accordance with my habit – a hasty retreat to the Smith 9th street station was enacted. One does not wish to find himself in Red Hook after dark, because… y’know, vampires. Just because you think they’re a myth doesn’t mean that your bloodless corpse won’t be found floating in the Gowanus early the next morning, nor that you won’t awaken as a starving lich on some coroners table in downtown Brooklyn.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Wonders can be observed here, in Red Hook, as it’s not all Lovecraftian horror around these parts. Well… allow me to rephrase that, as the area surrounding the Gowanus Expressway is fairly antithetical to human existence – but that’s why it makes such a great home for that colony of south Brooklyn vampires which have plagued the area for better than a century. It is said that the vampires arrived with a grain shipment from Germany in the early 1900’s, quickly established themselves in the neighborhood, and never left. Don’t be prejudiced against them, though, Vampires have to pay their tax just like everyone else. Dead or alive, no one beats the IRS.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Legend has it that the Quadrozzi company has finally evicted the squatting Nosferatu from their nearby grain terminal building, where these vampires had been firmly ensconced for better than half a century. Speculation about whether or not these displaced nocturnes have made a new home in the high flying rafters of the Gowanus Expressway (neighborhood legend suggests that they hang upside down like bats in the perennial shadows of the roadway) remains just that, although area residents offer the complaint that the local cops won’t investigate anything that even remotely sounds like an exsanguination nor answer complaints about missing dogs.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The living population of Red Hook actually miss the presence of NYC’s Five Families around these parts. Common knowledge states that the reason why the Vatican has so long tolerated the presence of the Italian Mafia is because of their track record when it comes to controlling and eliminating Vampires, which are the natural enemies of clerical and monkish populations. There are no greater Vampire killers than these racketeers, whose ranks have become sadly diminished around their former stronghold at the Gowanus.

Thanks Giuliani, thanks a whole lot.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 9, 2015 at 1:10 pm

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