The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Linkage, and it’s Exploding Whale day

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Some really great stuff has come through the inbox this week, here’s some to check out

Ms. Heather, over at NYShitty

posted an amazing video of 2 Greenpointers attempting to report an oil slick floating down the Newtown Creek to the DEP and receiving brusque treatment in return for their efforts. Funny thing for the DEP operator, who forgot the call center maxim of “you don’t know who you’re talking to, so be polite”, is that the 2 Greenpointers were Laura Hoffman and Christine Holowicz.

This is the public part of who Christine is:

Christine Holowacz immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1972. She became involved in environmental issues in the Greenpoint community during the 1980s. President of the Greenpoint Property Owners since 1989, Christine devotes much of her time to issues concerning senior citizen homeowners. She is also the Church of St. Cecilia political and housing coordinator. Christine served on the Greenpoint Community Board #1’s 197a Committee as well as its Rezoning and Kosciusko Bridge upgrade Task Forces. She initiated the first meeting in the successful fight against the proposed Key Span/Con Edison power plant in Greenpoint, leading to the founding of GWAPP, which she co-chairs. She is currently part of the Greenpoint Coalition, St Nicholas Preservation and the Greenpoint Williamsburg Waterfront Task Force, and is the Community Liaison at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant for the Newntown Creek Monitor Committee (NCMC). Christine received the Woman of the Millennium and the Carmine “Dusty” De Chair Community awards from the Seneca Club, (2001 & 2002) for her work with GWAPP and a Citation in 2002 from the Borough President for her work in the Polish Community. She holds a BA in Economics and Accounting from Brooklyn College.

Laura is a member of the Newtown Creek Alliance, Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Planning and Parks, and did a great profile on her in 2007- which can be accessed here.

I know these two ladies from Newtown Creek Alliance meetings and they are formidable women. I actually feel bad for the DEP operator.

The EPA page

to watch for news and community coordinator for the Superfund Newtown Creek drama can be found here. Its the beginning of something very large, which will take decades, and will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. A river of federal money will wash out the creek, and all the poisons in the mud will be hatched out, or so say the G-Men. Every community along the Creek will be irrevocably altered by this process. The dragon of “Progress” is awakening again.


just posted a cool “slice” of Little Neck, click here

Just over the weekend, I mentioned the Moore Jackson Cemetery, in the “More on the White Lady of Astoria” post. I was sent a link to, which did a great workup on the place just yesterday- the 11th of November. Check it out here.


Queenscrap posted a great article…

on the efforts our friends at the Greater Astoria Historical Society are undertaking to preserve a piece of Queens history

from Queenscrap

Meeting to preserve the millstones


The Greater Astoria Historical Society and the community of Long Island City/Astoria, are concerned about the safety of the historic millstones located at Queens Plaza.

Hidden in plain site, the two millstones, some say, date from the 1600’s and are the oldest European artifacts in Queens. The city’s recent stewardship has not been very good. Photos over time show significant wear and tear to their fabric. Recently, a multimillion-dollar renovation at the Plaza has dropped them from view and construction debris litters the site.

The New York Daily News covered the issue:

Ancient millstones grist for historians

$43M Queens Plaza face-lift hits the fast lane

Colonial-era millstones in danger at Queens Plaza construction site, preservationists peeved

We ask the city to support the community’s heritage by:

  • Making the millstones available to the community by moving them from the hazards of a construction site to an exhibit space at the Greater Astoria Historical Society (or another location within the local neighborhood) where they will be not only safe, and on display, but accessible to the public along with an exhibit outlining their history.
  • Making the millstones available to historians and scholars to conduct research (during the period while they are out of the ground), and to support efforts to make them official New York City Designated Landmarks.
  • Open the millstones’ permanent installation process by selecting a location that will not only ensure their preservation within the community with an installation that will be marked with appropriate signage.

The Greater Astoria Historical Society, which not only has assumed the mantel as a watchdog over the LIC–Astoria community’s heritage, but has taken a very active role in their preservation, is calling for all interested parties, from the city planning, civics, preservation experts, and, most importantly, the general public, to come to a meeting at the Greater Astoria Historical Society, 4th Floor, 35–20 Broadway, LIC, at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, November 18, 2009.

All opinions and suggestions are welcome. Go to for additional information and pictures. Questions? Call 718–278–0700 or email

Now for the Exploding Whale.

Click here for the youtube link to the video, you’ve seen it before, but today’s the anniversary.

from wikipedia

On November 12, 1970, a 14 m (45 ft 11 in), eight-ton sperm whale died as a result of beaching itself near Florence, Oregon. All Oregon beaches are under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, but responsibility for disposing of the carcass fell upon a sister agency, the Oregon Highway Division (now known as the Oregon Department of Transportation, or ODOT). After consulting with officials from the United States Navy, they decided that it would be best to remove the whale as they would remove a boulder. They thought burying the whale would be ineffective, as it would soon be uncovered, and believed the dynamite would disintegrate the whale into pieces small enough for scavengers to clear up.

Thus, half a ton of dynamite was applied to the carcass. The engineer in charge of the operation, George Thornton, stated his fear that one set of charges might not be enough, and more might be needed. (Thornton later explained that he was chosen to remove the whale because the district engineer, Dale Allen, had gone hunting).

The resulting explosion was caught on film by cameraman Doug Brazil for a story reported by news reporter Paul Linnman of KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon. In his voiceover, Linnman alliteratively joked that “land-lubber newsmen” became “land-blubber newsmen … for the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds.” The explosion caused large pieces of blubber to land near buildings and in parking lots some distance away from the beach, one of which caused severe damage to a parked car. Only some of the whale was disintegrated; most of it remained on the beach for the Oregon Highway Division workers to clear away.

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