The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘New York City

unseeing eyes

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Roosevelt Island, in today’s Newtown Pentacle.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The path of penitence and perdition once led inexorably to Welfare Island, where Nellie Bly spent ten days in a mad house. Here in the Ravenswood section of Queens, the mad cries of a thousand lunatics once carried across the East River from a nearby East River island, which was once known as Blackwells and later as Roosevelt. A prisoner created cacophony of hammers striking rocks provided a rhythm for the screamers, as did the sound of the work mills operated by mission orphanages and municipal poor houses.

Today, one can merely walk, drive, or bike over the Roosevelt Island Bridge, eschewing any of the water borne transportation options once offered exclusively by Policemen and NYS mental health officials.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My purpose in visiting the island is discussed over at my Brownstoner column today, although the subject of that post is not the only reason that a humble narrator journeyed here. Paranoid wonderings about the true nature of those little metal and or plastic cuffs on the ends of shoe laces notwithstanding (they are called Aglets, by the way, and their purpose is sinister), one had elected to visit the fairly new FDR Four Freedoms Park. As my walking tour schedule and obligations for 2014 have been fulfilled – my weekends are mine to do with as I wish once more so off a humble narrator shambled.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Perambulation to and onto Roosevelt Island, due to the multiple inborn flaws and infirmities (as caused by degenerate behavior, an atavist outlook, and or certain weaknesses of character and constitution that can be described as constituting a disease process) which afflict one’s constitution, was quickly achieved but soon degenerated into a weak gait which might only be called a “scuttle.” The long periods of physical inactivity, brought on by a recent spate of storms and unstopping rain, seem to have sapped ones endurance and stamina. Perhaps, local honey would help.

Accordingly, a thoughtfully placed wall was leaned upon, and the shot above was captured. That’s Big Allis across the river, over in Ravenswood.

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culminating horror

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The bus… I took… The bus

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Dedicated pedestrian that I am, utilizing any sort of mass transit is an admission of defeat. Bus travel, in particular, is something I’m fairly phobic about. Part of this comes from an experience mentioned in yesterday’s post, wherein a young narrator found himself caught up in a 1980’s race riot on the B78 back in Junior High School, which left an indelible psychological scar upon me. A significant part of my distaste for Bus travel also emanates from the fact that for many years, I lived in a exurb section of Brooklyn that had no train service and that I had to commute to the City using so called express buses. One cannot describe the wasted hours spent writhing at the back of the bus, riding to practically the last stop, nor the distaste that persists in me to this day regarding the usage of said conveyance.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, living in and traveling around Queens often involves the usage of motor vehicles rather than Subways to get around. The train is fantastic for getting into Manhattan, but unless I’m headed for Flushing or other eastern locations, there’s a vast swath of Brooklyn and Queens which is strictly “car country.” For instance, getting from Astoria to Ridgewood (roughly a 4 mile distance) by Subway involves an hour plus trip which loops through Manhattan, while taking a bus there takes around 30 minutes. Yes, I could purchase an automobile, but HQ is three stops from the City here in Astoria and I cannot justify having a car so close to the center of the entire universe.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the sort of thing I associate with “the bus.” An example of the retired model which once populated the MTA Bus Company’s fleet when a humble narrator was but a lad. As to why I found myself on the bus… Let’s just say that after two weeks of rain and sitting on my derrière – the walk from Astoria to, and around, Roosevelt Island took a bit longer than expected and it was growing dark. One does want to find himself out after dark in the Ravenswood neighborhood because… y’know… vampires.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm

rythmic piping

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A dream to some…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recurring nightmares have plagued me since childhood. Many of them revolve around isolation, or being solitarily confined to a familiar place that is normally quite crowded with others. The Subway system, in particular, strikes several of my psychological fault lines. There’s the paranoia about being pushed onto the tracks by some lunatic, an unnamable dread about having the tunnel collapse while under the East River, an entirely reasonable fear of the pathogens that swirl about within the cars, and the notion that no matter how crowded the train might be – you are always quite alone down there.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

For several years, a recurring nocturnal hallucination finds one traveling on the NYC Subway system through an endless ride. The train never seems to stop, which would offer egress for escape from its confines, instead it just continues rattling and hurtling through the dripping concrete and steel havens of the rat.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The train speeds up when it comes to stations and terminals, rather than slowing down, acting in the manner of some sort of subterranean Mary Celeste. There are other potential victims of the endless train ride on the platforms, who see the panicked face and wild gesticulations of a humble narrator in one of the train windows and then begin to laugh and point.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The mephitic vapors of the underground mix with those powdered remnants of rat feces that fill the air, inside and out of the train, as the collection of electrically driven boxes speeds along rickety tracks which cause the conveyance to rattle and shake from side to side. A panic takes over me, as does the realization that the conductor might be some sort of demon swine herd and that riding the Subway itself might be the Sisyphean punishment that awaits me in the afterlife. A commute that takes an eternity, and one that starts over as soon as it ends… truly – Dante might have imagined this fate, were there Subways “back in the day.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Always, in these nightmare visualizations of being trapped down there, the train is empty. In New York City, the notion of being alone – true solitude – is somewhat terrifying. For those of us native to this wonderful and horrible place, there is always the notion that someone is watching. There is always the “presence” of others. Removing this externality of consciousness from the equation is terrifying enough, but being completely isolated on a moving Subway is both odd and disconcerting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Gazing out of the train, in these dreams of mine, reveals naught but hopelessness. Were one able to pry open a door, in an attempt to escape into the tunnel, momentum would crush and pulverize. The false hope of the blue lights (the blue lights in the Subway tunnels indicate the presence of a stairway which leads back up to the surface, either a sidewalk hatch or a station) are set in place to tantalize and torment by the foul council of elder demons (the MTA) whose will is made manifest down here.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

While caught up in the enchantment of these nightmares, basic physical needs begin to manifest. Urination, thirst, hunger. The worst, however is the boredom. Once, my recurring Subway nightmare played out over a week of dream time, an imaginary interval during which a humble narrator saw himself descend into atavist and ape like behavior. Licking the walls of the train car for condensed moisture was amongst the least horrible of my actions.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In waking life, one suffers from a certain form of claustrophobia. A bus trip in Junior High School which saw a 1980’s race riot spark up is the origin of it. The pushing and surging of the crowd of combatants during the internecine warfare of Brooklyn’s “Cujenes” and “Homeboys” left me with a real fear of being trapped in a mob, and to this day one avoids crowds. You will never see me at a protest, or attending a concert at some mega venue. These subway nightmares of mine seem to play on this trait, offering instead the hell of loneliness and solitary isolation.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Can any wonder why it is that I prefer the jittery solace of late night coffee, or question why I am routinely awake at 2, 3, or even 4 A.M.? That the notion of placing ones head upon a pillow is so terrifying that I resist the embrace of Morpheus? If only there was a way to escape the tyranny of biology, and avoid sleep. It’s during those intervals of unconscious hallucination that one truly understands terror, and the latent horror of an eternal commute.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 16, 2014 at 12:40 pm

binding cords

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A deep, shamanic connection to the Borough of Queens… required.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens is a troublesome mistress, hiding her secrets to all but the most dedicated of suitors. Meditation and fasting, as well as the consumption of vast quantities of certain hallucinogens during vision quest “Walkabouts,” are but a part of what goes into getting to know her. Don’t get me started on the sweat lodge visits to Jackson Heights.

It’s not like there are arrows painted on the pavement of Northern Boulevard’s Carridor, pointing out the cool stuff that needs noticing. It’s also not like the cool cars of Queens are left up on a pedestal or something.

from wikipedia

An omen (also called portent or presage) is a phenomenon that is believed to foretell the future, often signifying the advent of change. People in the ancient times believed that omens lie with a divine message from their gods.

These omens include natural phenomena for example an eclipse, freak births of animals and humans and behavior of the sacrificial lamb on its way to the slaughter.They had specialists, the diviners, to interpret these omens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My guess is that this is likely a 1957 Oldsmobile Super 88 2 door Hardtop, which featured a 371 CI V8 engine  and power steering. This was one of the fastest production automobiles of the 1950’s, accordingly. I can easily visualize Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry driving one of these.

Little Richard was a Cadillac guy, I believe.

from hagerty.com

The Oldsmobile 88 gained an all-new look in 1957, one year ahead of corporate siblings from Chevrolet and Pontiac. Rakish, lower rooflines with a larger hood and grille denoted the new bodies, while the famous “Rocket” V-8 was bored and stroked to a significantly larger 371 cid with 277 hp. The highly touted J-2 option, which only added $83 to the price, boosted power output to a remarkable 300 hp.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s funny, as just last week a realization that a humble narrator hadn’t encountered any truly cool cars for a while. Then, on Saturday morning, an Oldsmobile Golden Rocket 88.

Oh Queens, you’re such a bitch sometimes, but I love you.

from wikipedia

For 1957 only, the basic 88 was officially named Golden Rocket 88, taken from Olds’ 1956 Motorama two-passenger show car. However, the only badging was an “88” underneath each taillight. Also for 1957 the “J2″ option was offered, with three 2-barrel (0.32 m3) carburetors, similar to the Pontiac Tri-Power. The Super 88 continued as the upscale mid-line series. Under the hood, the Rocket V8 increased in displacement to 371 cubic inches and 277 horsepower (207 kW) for all models across the board. Although rare, three speed manual transmissions were still available. Styling highlights were more evolutional than radical overall with three-piece rear window styling utilized on some models. Oldsmobile revived station wagons for the first time since 1950 with the Super 88 Fiesta being a four-door hardtop design. In 1957, Oldsmobile added a safety deep-recessed steering wheel.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

inferior body

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Friday’s all right.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Sorry for today’s late update, a humble narrator was too busy crying in his coffee to get it done on time, what with the hubris and ennui and all that. Pictured above is the endangered sight of railroad traffic at the Sunnyside Yard, as seen from Skillman Avenue. That’s an AMTRAK train, for those of you interested in such things, with the continuing construction of the East Side Access project underway just behind it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on Northern Blvd., these Christmas trees await the buyers who will watch them finish the dying process that began when they were cut away from their roots. Having grown up Jewish, this is one of the “goyem” things I’ve never really understood. You people kill millions of trees every year because… Christmas? Next month, these will be the Astoria tumbleweeds.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A borderland between two distinct sections of Queens, the automotive city and the locomotive one, is found at the cross of Queens Blvd. and Roosevelt Avenue. I’ve always loved this spot, despite it being one of the most confusing and dangerous pedestrian intersections in the borough.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm

many corridors

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Thursday? Hell yeah, Bro. THURSDAY!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Stupidly, last night one was sharing his nascent plans and aspirations for the coming year with Our Lady of the Pentacle. Our Lady is more than supportive of me, that’s not what was stupid. Instead it the falsehood that one such as myself has any control, whatsoever, over either his near or long term future. The captain of this ship offers that the old adage “life is what happens while you’re making other plans” sort of rules the roost, and that control of the wheelhouse is up for grabs.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Once, I allowed myself to have aspirations, most of which were vainglorious. Youthful vagaries turned into middle aged regrets, and those regrets have hardened into diamonds as time has gone by. At least there is some treasure for the old dragon to hoard, although there isn’t exactly a market out there slavering for regret diamonds and every time I try to breathe fire it brings on a jag of coughing and a runny nose.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There is desire, though, so I know I’m not dead. Some sort of adventure is required, and soon, however. A humble narrator feels like a ferret in a cage, thanks to these multiple weeks of non stop rain which have forced both myself and the camera into a sort of domestic incarceration. Desperation for a stimulating or exciting experience usually forces me into some sort of extreme at this time of year. In the meantime, I’m still working my way through Robert Caro’s “Power Broker” biography of Robert Moses, which is a very, very good book.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 11, 2014 at 11:19 am

common attributes

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Wednesdays? I can take ‘em or leave ‘em.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Curmudgeon, that’s what one fears he is best described as these days. It is best to be alone, I think. At least that way the only person that can disappoint or malign, and the methods utilized thereof, is well known. Frankly, I’ve grown tired of watching others play out their passion plays and foibles, while heading toward obvious conclusions. I’m not going to be saving anyone from themselves anymore, as that circuitry has become burned out in my brain. Go ahead and grasp that wire which has fallen into a puddle, for I’m not going to caution you not to. Not anymore. Go ahead, see what happens.

from wikipedia

Misanthropy is the general hatred, distrust or disdain of the human species or human nature. A misanthrope, or misanthropist is someone who holds such views or feelings. The word’s origin is from Greek words μῖσος (misos, “hatred”) and ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos, “man, human”). The condition is often confused with asociality.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Logical progressions, falling dominoes… I can see these things clearly. Incompetence is rewarded in modern discourse, where “trying” is a worthy alternative to succeeding. Everybody is a winner and there is no qualitative scale by which to judge the efficacy of action. The human hive has driven me to the edge of wit, and everywhere I look – what drives our society is the notion of what should be rather than what is. A humble narrator wishes nothing more than to emulate Ezekiel and retreat to the hermitage of wild mountain tops to enjoy some alone time.

from wikipedia

A loner is a person who avoids or does not actively seek human interaction. There are many reasons for solitude, intentional or otherwise. Intentional reasons include spiritual, mystic and religious considerations or personal philosophies. Unintentional reasons involve being introverted, highly sensitive, extremely shy, or having various mental disorders.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Vain glory and hubris rule. False faith and political equivalency rule over the hive, with carefully selected cautionary tales presented by self elected elites as exemplars of the “way things should be.” All these ideations drive one towards isolation, the status of a curmudgeon, and are exactly the sort of emotionally callous states that the forces shaping our society hope we will all embrace.

note: Today’s “depressive” post will likely be followed by a “manic” one tomorrow, btw.

from wikipedia

Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar affective disorder (and originally called manic-depressive illness), is a mental disorder characterized by periods of elevated mood and periods of depression. The elevated mood is significant and is known as mania or hypomania depending on the severity or whether there is psychosis. During mania an individual feels or acts abnormally happy, energetic, or irritable. They often make poorly thought out decisions with little regard to the consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced. During periods of depression there may be crying, poor eye contact with others, and a negative outlook on life.

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