The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Mt Zion 6- Crystal Oblivion

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Awakening from the dead faint which had ended my ruminations on those oppressions suffered by both Jew and Roma in a war torn exemplar of peasant ignorance and malign oligarchy which is the European Peninsula, your humble narrator noticed the gloaming of late afternoon settling upon the centenarian graveyard and realized that one way or another- an escape must be hazarded from the oblivion of Mount Zion cemetery if I ever desired to return to the yellow brick lanes of Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The curious singsong chant of those odd children had stopped, and echoing along the tombstones was the sound of wholesome and cheerful laughing. From my vantage, I could discern that the first group of children were fleeing from a second, whose colorful clothing and raven hair marked them as the picturesque crowd I had spotted earlier on 53rd avenue. The flabby jowled, unblinking, scaly group of youths which had been tormenting me- and whose apparent leader was a girl carrying a curiously polydactyl cat whose aspect “I did not like”- were running off in the direction of that stygian cataract called the Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Regaining my composure, I realized that I had found the highest spot in Zion, and watched as the group of dark haired and festively adorned children jeered the fleeing “others”. I turned for a moment, looking south toward Brooklyn, along the gates of a Sanitation Dept. Garbage truck depot. This is a lonely spot, tragic and shunned.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Populated by graves of children, often stillborn, this is the highest point of elevation in Mt. Zion by my estimation. I resolved to make my way for the gates, and felt an eerie tiredness take over me. Cemeteries are uncomfortable places not because of the omnipresent reminders of mortality, but because they remind us that anonymity is the ultimate fate of nearly all of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All they were, and had done, and built- the ultimate meaning of themselves- led to centuried silence and the anonymity of the tomb. I’ve been asking myself, lately, why I’ve been so compelled to spend my time with them, instead of amongst the living. A lot of wise old jewish grandmothers are buried here, and my own would say that this recent pursuit is “no good for you, go see a movie instead”.

She also told me, when I told her I intended to follow a career in visual arts, that “all I wanted was to be a bum in the village with a needle in my arm”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mission Statements – 1 – Breaking character

One of my quasi mystical opinions is that by telling a story, transmitting the lore of civilization from one generation to another, you keep the subject of the story alive- in a sense. We know the story of Beowulf, and Christ, and Churchill. In my ham handed and alliterative patois of pop cultural imagery and historical allusion, this notion of “telling the hero’s story” (with the “hero” being the working class) is part of my motivation behind these explorations. In a sense, I fancy myself as C-3PO telling the story of Luke and Leia to the Ewoks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mission Statements – 2 – Horns and Dilemmas

A vast and shining monument to future archaeology is what I see the Cemetery Belt of western Queens and North Brooklyn as, awaiting the end of living memory and improved imaging technology. Vast dilemmas of conscience often plague me as I make the “selects” from the hundreds of shots I’ll gather at just one of the many locations explored at the Newtown Pentacle. That’s an identifiable face, or corporate trademark, or the ridiculous laws which require the owner of a skyscraper to approve the publication of an image of their structure. The graveyard stuff is touchy, and I attempt to only show graves of those who died well out of “living memory”, which is a flexible topic for me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mission Statements – 3 – Contradictions and Logic

Problematic, because it’s self defined, my “living memory” concept is roughly this- if the stone is older than the second world war- I consider it fair game and part of the public record. Saying that, if you’ve seen a gravestone of a relative in one of my shots that you’d really rather not have public, contact me and it’s pulled (I’m not a dick)- just know that the shot was chosen for either its odd qualities or historical significance (like the O’Brien monument in Old Calvary), or because it’s a beautiful piece of sculpture that was chosen to illustrate the esthetic or political milieu of an era I’m trying to describe. Any editorial implications of the accompanying quoted references (from abc.com, in italics) or “humble narrator” copy should be discarded as the product of a sick, cowardly, and weary man who is “all ‘effed up”. No one will visit my grave, Lords and Ladies of Newtown, except to gloat and defecate.

I also never trespass, enter onto Railroad properties uninvited, or use transportation of any kind other than my feet when I’m out on one of my little missions. Kissing the right posterior and being “nice” offers tremendous access to these places, “legally”, and brings insight and opportunity. Why make trouble?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back to the post:

When I passed out of the ancient cemetery, through the western section’s gates, I saw that group of gaily dressed children who had chased off those menacingly mutant urchins that had caused me to faint three times as I hid in the shadows of this garden of obelisks.

One of the oddest moments of the day occurred when a waste hauler’s truck sped down Maurice Avenue at top speed, occluding my view of them for a few seconds, during which they disappeared. Puzzled, I scuttled back to the waiting arms of Astoria, and the entire way I thought I heard the creaking agony of wooden carriage wheels.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 8, 2009 at 5:53 pm

One Response

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  1. […] Lurid Shimmering of Pale Light“, “Mt Zion 5- Sunken Houses of Sleep“, and “Mt Zion 6- Crystal Oblivion” for nearly everything I’d been able to scry about the place back in 2009. 2012′s […]


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