The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Graffiti

obsequious jackanape

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A quick one today.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted the other day on Vernon Blvd. in Hunters Point’s tower town. I’m a bit ragged from this weekend’s back to back tours with Atlas Obscura and Brooklyn Brainery, so forgive a humble narrator’s inability to supply a meaningful post today. Back tomorrow.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

May 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

carnivorous organisms

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Today’s post visits DUKBO, Down Under the Kosciuszko Bridge Onramp.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An angle between neighborhoods, this spot is in Maspeth and Sunnyside and Blissville and Laurel Hill all at the same time. It’s alongside the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and the Queens leg of the 1.1 mile long Kosciuszko Bridge Complex and the Long Island Expressway. To the west lies Calvary Cemetery and its tomb legions, and it is known to all simply and aptly as Laurel Hill Blvd.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the spots where Europeans originally settled in Queens, as early as the 1680’s there were farms and houses here, it is nevertheless a forgotten and desolate place seldom traveled to but rather through. In actuality, if you were to count all the humans who travelled by on any given day, the number would suggest one of the most crowded spots on the planet.

Luckily, local artisans have inscribed the spot.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Vast graffiti has been installed, decrying the clarion call of the outer boroughs upon the titan masonry of the bridge’s approach ramp. Epic wit emblazoned with such panache surely indicates the presence of a latter day bard here in this angle between neighborhoods.

Pithy expression, and the freedom to pursue it, indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Happily, everything in Queens faces Manhattan these days, and on a clear day one might be able to discern this delicate missive from the Shining City if atmospheric and lighting conditions are just right. Also, the thought paid by the artist to those visiting the interred at Calvary must be heeded.

Imagine the joy of describing to your grandchild what the word “Scumbag” means as he stands in front of a loved ones grave.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Want to see something cool? June 2013 Walking Tours-

The Poison Cauldron- Saturday, June 15, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Atlas Obscura, tickets now on sale.

Kill Van Kull- Saturday, June 22, 2013
Staten Island walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Working Harbor Committee, tickets now on sale.

The Insalubrious Valley- Saturday, June 29, 2013
Newtown Creek walking tour with Mitch Waxman and Newtown Creek Alliance, tickets now on sale.

tarnished plate

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens Plaza is that which greets visitors to our fair borough, the home to a great machine called Queensboro. This machine, utilitarian, is the backbone which carries vehicular and light rail traffic from the western tip of a long island to the eastern shore of the great human hive’s focal point in Manhattan. Grotesque, the area has been the focus of quite a bit of municipal thought and spending over the last few years.

Mayan Apocalypse Countdown: just 8 days left until the 13th b’ak’tun ends, initiating the Mayan Apocalypse on December 21st. Tick, tock.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An amenity, called Dutch Kills Green, has been installed as a city park. Controversy over its design and the opinions of area wags notwithstanding, your humble narrator has observed that the place is being well used. A nearby school offers daily crowds of scalawag teenagers, and the place seems popular with both indigent and office worker alike. Several interesting madmen cross the place regularly, including myself.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Annoying, artless graffito has appeared of late in the place. This post is offered in the hope that those of you, lords and ladies, who find themselves in the employ of those powers and potentates who enjoy official stewardship over the community might like to know the phone number of one of these “street artists”. It is realized that so much of the graffiti which turns up is anonymous, and that some minor satisfaction might arrive from being able to ring the person up.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Phone conversation is something generationally aberrant to those under a certain age, with SMS text or twitter replacing verbal communication, so you might wish to tweet the artist instead. Alternatively, Facebook might be your bag.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 13, 2012 at 12:15 am

ache horribly

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Down Under the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge Onramp, or DUGABO as I call it, on the Queens side of the loquacious Newtown Creek, is found south of the tracks of the Long Island Railroad. A largish industrial footprint, whose boot heels were dug into the swampy soil as early at the 1830’s, both describes and damns the area. The ghosts of fat renderer and yeast brewery alike haunt the spot, as does your humble narrator.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around down here recently, this intriguing bit of graffiti was observed. I’ve seen such markings before, over on Dutch Kills Street nearby Queens Plaza. It’s unusual mainly because of the figurative nature of the illustration, most area graffiti tends to be gang oriented, typographical in nature, or features the usage of a stylized and highly practiced logo or “tag”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Deeper meanings and interpretation are best left to curators and wonks, but I for one like the drawing. The text betrays the twee irony of the hipsters, in my opinion. Always remember, lords and ladies, I go to these places so you don’t have to.

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

aerial ocean

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a short one today, some of the interesting odds and ends observed during my travels over the last few weeks. The shot above is from 58th rd. in Maspeth, once known as the Maspeth Plank road and paved with crushed oyster shells. It led to Furman’s Island, a notorious spit of muddy land that was legendary in its time for the offensive industries located there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This curious collection of women’s shoes, singles not pairs, was spotted on Provost in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The mind boggles at where the mated shoes might have been dumped, but these are found on the street named for one of the “OG’s” – the Original Greenpointers. They were named Provoost rather than Provost, of course, but Dutch words seldom translate unscathed into english.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Also in Greenpoint, this time nearby Manhattan Avenue. Manhattan is a double wide street because there was a street car or Trolley line that ran down it, which broke off from the East River to Calvary line which plied Greenpoint Avenue. The Manhattan Avenue line went over the Vernon Avenue Bridge and connected with Long Island City. The street art or graffiti depicted in this shot is signed “Mara” and a humble narrator is glad that some of the conclusions I’ve drawn about Newtown Creek are seemingly being noticed by others.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 29, 2012 at 12:15 am

contradictory desire

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

The organization which owns this hoary structure, found at 41-05 Newtown Road amidst the trackless sands of Astoria, is a local Democratic club which boasts an influential and famous list of members and associates.

My understanding is that Peter Vallone is associated with the group, which makes it a frequent target for vandals and graffiti artists (Mr. Vallone of the New York City Council is an outspoken critic of graffiti and has legislated heavily to increase fines and legal penalties for “writers”. In doing so, he has become a target and foil for proponents of “street art”. Locales that he is associated with, such as the area around his offices or this building, are frequently “bombed” with graffiti tags).

That’s local politics, of course, and your humble narrator is aloof about such things, as I’m mainly interested in this two story structure which seems “stuck in time”.

from wikipedia

Chief Powhatan (died 1618), whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh (sometimes spelled Wahunsonacock), was the paramount chief of Tsenacommacah, an alliance of Algonquian-speaking Virginia Indians in the Tidewater region of Virginia at the time English settlers landed at Jamestown in 1607. Powhatan, who represented the main political and military power facing the early colonists, was the father of Pocahontas and probably the older brother of Opechancanough, who led attacks against the English in 1622 and 1644.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 2nd story windows look modern- energy efficient vinyl sashes, but everything else about this place harkens back to the early 20th century. I’ve been told by old timers that a lot of the building stock in Astoria and Long Island City on the whole used to look like this except, obviously, for the sign. Information is fairly scarce on the group or structure in the public record, other than the usual “food drives“, “charities”, “voter registration”- political mainstays that all such organizations put on their resume’s.

In the case of this group, however, I’ve found references to them that date back to the days of Mayor Seth Low.

from qgazette.com

Since its founding in 1900, the Powhatan-Pocahontas Regular Democratic Club has served and represented Democrats in Western Queens, promoting the political development and awareness of local residents while fighting for the needs of the voters it serves…

It is one of the oldest political organizations in the nation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Notice the neat herringbone brickwork on the cornices, and those crazy lights meant to illuminate the sign. Wish I could tell you more, or reveal some deeply hidden political secret about the place, but as mentioned earlier- that’s not my bag. Go ask a politician or wannabe aspirant, they can probably hand you a list of sins and accomplishments a mile long.

According to the Department of Buildings (whose records on anything outside of Manhattan are absolute crap, btw.) this structure was either erected in 1909 or 1921. 1921 would make more sense given the age of surrounding building stock (which includes an amazing block of double sided Matthews Model Flats) and the arrival of the subways on nearby Broadway ca. 1922.

Also:

Your humble narrator will be narrating humbly on Friday, February 24th at 7:30 P.M. for the “Ridgewood Democratic Club, 60-70 Putnam Avenue, Ridgewood, NY 11385” as the “Newtown Creek Magic Lantern Show” is presented to their esteemed group. The club hosts a public meeting, with guests and neighbors welcome, and say that refreshments will be served.

The “Magic Lantern Show” is actually a slideshow, packed with informative text and graphics, wherein we approach and explore the entire Newtown Creek. Every tributary, bridge, and significant spot are examined and illustrated with photography. This virtual tour will be augmented by personal observation and recollection by yours truly, with a question and answer period following.

For those of you who might have seen it last year, the presentation has been streamlined, augmented with new views, and updated with some of the emerging stories about Newtown Creek which have been exclusively reported on at this- your Newtown Pentacle.

For more information, please contact me here.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 9, 2012 at 12:15 am

chilly depths

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my little hobbies involves the recording of manhole covers, the large iron discs which act as a removable hatch for access tunnels to the stygian world of infrastructure that underlies the streets of New York City. Often, the cover will betray the age of the street, indicate the company or municipal organ that installed it, and provide some subtext to the relict building stock adjoins them.

This post isn’t about manholes, however, it’s about a beautiful bit of street art recently observed in the Dutch Kills neighborhood nearby the legend choked Queens Plaza.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This bit of graffiti surpasses the normal tags and scrawled affirmations common to the so called art form, due to its masterful draftsmanship and painterly quality. My own background in commercial illustration makes me a bit of snob when it comes to drawing, and this more than passes my rigid and stoic standards.

Owing allegiance more to Arisman than to Bode, this is no “cheech wizard smoking a doobie”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Check out the wonderful contour line drawing in the elephant, and the gorgeous use of highlight and tone in the face. Nice, nice work. Whoever the artist(s) is, they have a wonderful touch. This sort of thing is normally the province of Ms. Heather at NY-Shitty, as Newtown Pentacle seldom focuses on street art, and perhaps she might be able to identify the artist.

Normally, presentation of graffitis is only engendered when it is enigmatic or curious, suggests the hidden occult, or is a blatant example of time and opportunity available at a transportation center.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 27, 2011 at 12:15 am

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