The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for August 3rd, 2011

distant ravine

with one comment

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The final product of my “Grand Walk” which was found on my camera card, which was populated by these puzzling images of centuried statuary lost amongst First Calvary’s emerald devastations.

The figure is life sized, according and conforming to the proportions and stature of the malnourished 19th century. In our modern era of gigantic milk, beef, and grain fed humans, when 6 feet of height is not an uncommon attainment for Italians, Irish, and Chinese alike (all 3 notoriously short statured groups according to historical anecdote), she seems to be a young girl- but this delicate figure conforms to statistical adult height records of 19th century immigrant New York.

We often forget, when discussing fashionable dining trends (locavore or vegan, organic or farm raised- bleh) that the primary goal of our forebears wasn’t ultimately financial acquisition, but was instead a guarantee of basic nutrition.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pithy commentary about the fallacies of a modern world, corporatized and commercialized, notwithstanding- attention is called to the plastic baubles which the monument has been adorned with. Such commemorate decoration is commonly observed at area cemeteries, although the rules and bylaws of these institutions publish severe limitations on acceptable grave ornamentation. Unless taste and or propriety are offended, the management seems to allow these minor decorative touches to subsist for a time, after which the activities of groundskeeping and upkeep sweep the place clean.

Behind a fence or near a seldom used entranceway at any of these urban polyandrions, once can easily locate a dumpster containing a polyglot of rotting flowers in cheap vases, joss paper idols, and a cacophony of sentimental or religious trinkets which lie glittering amidst the debris.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The trinket itself is pedestrian, a childish and injection molded representation of grapes on the vine. What sets me to wonder, and more than wonder, is that undeniable resemblance to the color of the purple bloom worn by the apostate Hibernian and his bizarre companions whose threatening aspect hurled me into a panicked state and meandering escape route through the ancient sections of New York City.

I’ve been queried via private email about this person by several people. Unfortunately, as mentioned in the last posting, I can only remember bits and pieces- but the flower in his lapel matched the color of these plastic beads exactly- of that I can be sure.

What does it mean? I cannot tell you, as it would be madness to attempt the connection of dots between a seemingly random series of events.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Did your humble narrator, stricken by terror induced delirium, randomly stumble along deeply buried trolley tracks past storefront mystics on Delancey Street and over the Williamsburg Bridge into the heart of 19th century Williamsburg?

It was in the piecing together of these seemingly random shots, in their proper order, that the various historical tidbits began to present themselves, and the journey across the Newtown Creek and through Maspeth led into places which I had never suspected- such as the story of Case’s Crew (the apostate Friends shunned by most, but welcomed here).

Local historical authorities reacted in a bizarre and hostile manner when queried about this group of apostate Friends, I would add. The impression of this exchange puzzled me, but for some, knowledge is meant to be suppressed and zealously hidden away in a vault rather than disseminated freely.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often, as I pack up my ridiculous “field kit” and leave the house for one of my “walks” about the vast human hive, I will joke that “I feel like Queens wants me to see something today, probably “that way”- as I gesture in some random direction to Our Lady of the Pentacle or my little dog Zuzu.

Our lady smiles and says “bless”, while Zuzu usually turns around to see what I’m pointing at.

I’ve learned it’s just best to listen to Queens, as it suffers beneath the load it bears for the rest of the City, and simply attempt to understand its terrible story. If some decide to stand in my way, or otherwise obstruct me, they will know what it means to burn away into ignominy and learn the meaning of the words inexorable, irresistible, and merciless.

The story, it’s parable, and the answers to the future offered by this ancient place are too important.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This “Grand Walk” ended at Greenpoint Avenue, apparently, or at least that’s when the pictures stopped.

The final shot was of the Long Island Expressway from First Calvary, an elevated roadway which hurtles as high as 106 feet above Borden Avenue and that liquid malignity which fills the banks of Dutch Kills. Borden Avenue, of course, is a counterpart to Grand Street in Brooklyn- another ferry to trolley road corridor which has been forgotten and obliterated by modernity.

Ultimately, all roads do indeed seem to lead to Calvary, here in the Newtown Pentacle.

from Documents of the Senate of the State of New York, Volume 5, 18dd, courtesy google books

The road is a double track line laid in the center of Borden avenue, from Vernon to Bradley avenues, and thence a single track along Bradley avenue to Green Point avenue and entrance to Calvary cemetery.

At Vernon avenue a junction is made, and tracks used of the Steinway and Hunter’s Point railroad, along Borden avenue to the Thirty-fourth street ferry slips fronting on East river. A piece of track is laid from Borden avenue along Front street to Third street, a portion of which is used for storing cars, and there is a short side track at the cemetery terminal.

The total length of road now owned and operated from Vernon to Green Point avenues is about one and two-fifths miles, and the portion of the Steinway railroad operated jointly is about one-fifth of a mile, making a total length of road owned, leased and operated by the Long Island City and Calvary Cemetery Railroad Company one and three fifths miles.

Borden avenue is paved with block stone as far south as the drawbridge over the Dutch Kills canal; the remainder of the track is laid upon and along the center of an ordinary earth roadway.

The superstructure is laid with fiat iron street rails where the street is paved, and also along Bradley avenue a distance of onefifth mile.

The general construction of the superstructure is not as permanent in character and condition of maintenance as generally found on surface roads. Ties are widely spaced, and flat rail not thoroughly secured to longitudinal timbers, and the line and surface imperfect. South of the draw-bridge, upon the earth road-bed, the track is laid with light T rails, secured at ends with fish plate, many of which are omitted, causing the ends to form an uneven vertical joint.

From the crossing of the Long Island railroad to Bradley avenue, Borden avenue is a roadway raised up about eight feet above the low flat lands bordering the Dutch Kill and Newton creek, and the portion of the avenue south of the canal is being raised each year, requiring a corresponding raise of superstructure, which may account in part for the imperfect condition of that portion of the tracks; no serious inconvenience can bo experienced, however, as the cars have good, easy springs, and they ride the rail fairly well; yet a thoroughly Constructed, lined and surfaced superstructure would add to the comfort of passengers, and insure greater speed at less outlay of power.

At Calvary cemetery no separate waiting-room is provided, those in hotels being used. At the northerly terminal the covered way and waiting-rooms of the ferry are conveniently near, and afford protection in inclement weather.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 3, 2011 at 2:38 am

%d bloggers like this: