The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for January 5th, 2010

Tales of Calvary 7

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

I just can’t sit on this one anymore. After a spree of “all cemetery” postings in November and December, I decided to take a step back from the grave, but I just can’t stop myself…

Promises would be offered to you, lords and ladies of Newtown, not to spend too much time amongst the dead in these first days of the new year, but I’d probably break them.

Paper fades, buildings fall, but Calvary is eternal and undying. Dripping in its centuried silence and nitre choked glory, the emerald desolations of Calvary Cemetery offer a pastoral transit between tumultuous neighborhoods in the Newtown Pentacle, and that weird old man in the filthy black raincoat you might glimpse as you drive by is often your humble narrator.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On this particular day, a sunny Saturday (Thanksgiving weekend in 2009), I wasn’t transiting Calvary.

I had come here with a definite purpose, searching for the grave of a man who died in the early 30’s rumored to have been involved with the illegal smuggling of strange statuettes into the United States in the 1920’s from some impossibly remote pacific island. This man, a Massachusetts merchant named Gilman, was killed in a freak nocturnal accident, apparently by a bale of paper which had fallen out of some warehouse window along the Newtown Creek. His oddly deformed body was found by workmen the next morning, and the Coroner pronounced the death accidental. The victim was buried in Calvary’s public section as an act of charity, and under the assumption that Gilman was an Irish name. His belongings and personal valuables, made from some queer kind of gold sculpted into wild and heretical forms, were collected by a schooner captain whose three masted ship appeared unbidden at the Penny Bridge docks one night during an unnaturally thick fog. The Captain, a Massachusetts trader named Marsh, paid for a custom and eccentric grave marker to be erected for this Gilman fellow somewhere in Calvary. It remains elusive, but I shall find it- I found Al Smith!

As is often the case, my befuddled and inept investigations were swept wildly off course by a highly suggestible and credulous nature which makes me vulnerable to wild flights of shivering cowardice and shameful paranoia. Such timidity does not suit one who stands and stares into whatever abyss happens to be before him, and what I saw chilled me with its wild possibilities. It was Thanksgiving weekend, and Calvary was as quiet as… well… a tomb.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As seen in the above shots, the overgrown monument with its vine covered cupola intrigued and drew my attention. In accordance with usual methods, the object was photographed from many angles, and my path led me widdershins around it. As mentioned in the last paragraph, thanksgiving weekend had evinced a general evacuation of the area surrounding that bulkheaded duct of urban horror called the Newtown Creek, and like their counterparts in the spires of Manhattan it would seem that the workers of Calvary got off early on the previous Wednesday. Just dropped their shovels, as it were.

That’s when I saw it, said “oh. oh… no… just keep walking… don’t take any pictures of…”. Unfortunately, my finger was already depressing the button on my camera. I had lost all control, and still can’t stop myself from posting about it weeks later… I’m all ‘effed up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the interest of full disclosure, the names on the two grave markers are obscured as they were modern burials. If a grave is at least older than me, I feel fine about publishing a photo or talking about who it holds. If it’s an early 1900’s burial- fair game. (note: a cool thing happened recently- a sepulchral portrait, randomly chosen and published in the Mt. Zion series of postings, resulted in a certain Pentacle reader seeing his grandmother’s face for the first time) These interments, however, date from the early 1990’s and later. The context of this post demands some discretion, and censoring the names of the deceased whose graves are seen is definitely the right thing to do.

Now on to something you don’t normally see… and I am cognizant that the presentation of the following is vulgar and in very bad taste. I just can’t stop myself… Its like some alien thing is controlling me…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is a limited amount of time that one can tolerate solitary exposure to Calvary Cemetery, as the marble crown of Laurel Hill is a sort of psychic Chernobyl. It preys upon you- this place- in subtle ways, and comes at you in a manner not unlike the gradual stupefaction brought on by liquor. On New Year’s Eve, someone offered me three plots here for free, and withdrew the offer when I explained what a gravesite in Old Calvary is actually worth. Coincidence? hmmm… The place has noticed me, and it is trying to draw me further in…

Like ionizing radiation, whose damage to healthy living flesh is calculated by a multiplex of intensity and duration, whatever it is that lurks in the aether of Calvary is invisible, insidious, and real. Looking into an open grave like this, in this place, carries the comparable psychic risks of unshielded exposure to the thermonuclear eye of god itself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I can’t do, is use my favorite catch phrase. The “who can guess…” one. Horrors too horrible for the graves holding lurk into the abyss, and loathsomeness waits below, but…

That’s what I was thinking as I passed out, again, in a dead faint. Luckily I fell backwards.

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