The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for May 2012

elysian realm

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Saturday, for a change, we’re not going to present a “Project Firebox” posting, and will instead talk a little bit about the holiday weekend. What the British (or most of the rest of the world) might call a “bank holiday”, the truth of what the three day weekend represents is lost within the dross usage and little understood idioms of the modern tongue.

The truth of the term is met by merely sounding it out. This is a secular holiday, a “holi” “day”, or holy day.

From a representative democratic point of view and sensibility, this “holiday” is meant to be like Yom Kippur or Good Friday- serious business.

from a November 2009 posting, “Tales of Calvary 2- Veterans Day“, about the antipode of this seasonal holiday- Veteran’s Day (which discusses the monument in some detail)

The statues here at Calvary’s Soldiers Monument seem to have been the original castings of a much reproduced statuary design. Placed here in 1866, they predate the identical statues found at Green-Wood Cemetery, and exact issuance of the mold has been confirmed in New England, North Carolina, and all over New York State. As early as 1875, fumes from a nearby Ammonia Factory at Newtown Creek were graving pitted marks into them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The original intent of the holiday was to honor the dead of the Civil War… well, all wars, supposedly… but they were really talking about the Civil War in 1868 when Memorial Day (then Decoration Day) appeared on the American Calendar. Someday the eleventh of September will replace Labor Day, as the term “Union” will mean little to future generations, and summer will end “officially” in the second week of the ninth month rather than the last of the eighth. Some politician will have assigned it a name by then- “Never Forget Day” or something, I’d wager.

There are some wounds which will never heal, even in the fullness of time.

from wikipedia

Memorial Day is a federal holiday observed annually in the United States on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers of the Civil War. (Southern ladies organizations and southern schoolchildren had decorated Confederate graves in Richmond and other cities during the Civil War, but each region had its own date. Most dates were in May.) By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died in all wars. Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. As a marker it typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The smell of BBQ will rise above Queens and Brooklyn, as always, and the Manhattan people will order take out Chinese and I really couldn’t tell you what will be happening in the Bronx and Staten Island. There will be parades of Veterans, kids will skin their knees playing ball, and many of their Moms and Dads will get way too drunk. Fatty meats and cold drinks will swell many bellies.

All the kids will get sunburns, and go to bed knowing that the freedom of summertime has finally arrived.

Somewhere far away, however, other American kids with rifles in their hands will nervously stare out into the darkness of the desert, or listen intently for movement at mountain passes, and desperately hope that this will be a quiet night. Their BBQ is back at base, and like freedom- home is infinitely far away.

from usmemorialday.org

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis’ birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Memorial Day holiday was created by those who would implicitly understand the situation of the latter. They suffered the same sort of dysentery, horror, and mission- and also watched friends get cut down by anonymous artillery fire in some faraway land.

By the end of the Civil War, there were no victors, only survivors. These survivors wanted us to learn from their trials, and set an annual date for us to sit and think- long and hard- about how high a price certain things are worth.

The same can be said of the veterans of every mechanized “modern conflict” fought since the advent and introduction of the war machines in the 1860’s.

from nycgo.com

Memorial Day isn’t just an excuse for springtime sales and a three-day weekend—it is, first and foremost, a time to honor those citizens who’ve served the United States in times of war. NYC honors our fallen heroes with parades all over the City. The Little Neck–Douglaston parade in Queens is reputedly the largest of its kind. You can also attend Brooklyn’s Memorial Day Parade (145 years old!), which begins at Third Avenue and 87th Street. In Manhattan, head uptown for a smaller parade in Inwood that begins at Broadway and Dyckman Street. Check the City’s events calendar for a full list of events and start times.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that this is also “Fleet Week”, might a humble narrator suggest that if you see a Marine or Sailor at the bar- have the bartender anonymously send over a beer on your tab.

Thanks of a grateful nation, and all that.

Op Sail

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– photos by Mitch Waxman

First shots from Op Sail

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 25, 2012 at 10:21 am

quivering through

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a short one today, a few unconnected images, and hints of what is to come. For the last couple of days, I’ve been out on the harbor, photographing Op Sail. I’ll have some shots for you to see in a day or two, lords and ladies, as a colossal amount of editing and digital darkroom work is underway here at HQ. Initial passes at the images are quite promising, as I shot the whole shebang from the water and the atmospherics were dramatic, to say the least.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s also a couple of announcements coming shortly regarding walking tours in June, at the Creek and elsewhere, and the Working Harbor Committee “Hidden Harbor” tours are about to kick into gear again so there will lots of fun things to do next month (and beyond). July is shaping up as well, and I hope to be able to offer a Newtown Creek boat tour mid month, but this is still forming up.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The last week or so is kind of a blur, you see- as I’ve been in four of the five boroughs, five if you count the harbor as the sixth- in the last few days. Must have shot something like three thousand photos since last Thursday, in fact. Sorry for the short post today, will be back tomorrow with something a bit more substantial for you at this, your Newtown Pentacle.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 24, 2012 at 2:54 am

uncorporeal life

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Torment and dread dog my steps, while an inescapable clarion of shame and self doubt provides texture to an otherwise fetid expanse of despair. The person which one pretends to be in the company of others is mere facade, a vainglorious edifice erected solely for the selfish aggrandizement of a fool. In the cold realities and jurisprudence of inquisition, your humble narrator is little more than some assassin of joy, an avatar of meaningless experience, and chronicler of topics best forgotten or swept away.

from wikipedia

Anthropophobia is an extreme, pathological form of shyness and timidity. Being a form of social phobia, it may manifest as fears of blushing or meeting others’ gaze, awkwardness and uneasiness when appearing in society, etc. A specific Japanese cultural form is known as taijin kyofusho.
Anthropophobia can be best defined as the fear of people in crowded situations, but can also go beyond and leave the person uncomfortable when being around just one person. Conditions vary depending on the person. Some cases are mild and can be handled while more serious cases can lead to complete social withdrawal and the exclusive use of written and electronic communication.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Vastly inadequate both personally and physically, the quaking surety of an intangible manifestation of malice lurking at my perceptual threshold is omnipresent, and solipsism rules. Extant paranoia and newfound phobias paint the landscape in thick impasto, with remote possibility and hazardous outcome providing chiaroscuro and contrast. Behind every unopened door or unexamined alley will surely lurk some horrible and quivering menace, perched lewdly on the threshold of sanity.

Truly- who can guess, all there is, that might be buried down there?

from wikipedia

Panphobia (from Greek πᾶν – pan, neuter of “πᾶς” – pas, “all” and φόβος – phobos, “fear”) also called omniphobia, pantophobia, or panophobia, is a phobia known as a “non-specific fear” or “the fear of everything” and is described as “a vague and persistent dread of some unknown evil”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Abandoned, bereft, confused, disillusioned, entangled, fragile, grandiose, histrionic, ipovlopsychophobic, jealous, kainophobic, limp, manic, narcissistic, onerous, passive, quadrumanous, repellant, sophistic, trite, unctuous, venal, xanthophobic, yonderly, and zoocytious- this is how your humble narrator spells his “abc’s”.

I’m all ‘effed up.

from wikipedia

In cognitive models of social anxiety disorder, social phobics experience dread over how they will be presented to others. They may be overly self-conscious, pay high self-attention after the activity, or have high performance standards for themselves. According to the social psychology theory of self-presentation, a sufferer attempts to create a well-mannered impression on others but believes he or she is unable to do so. Many times, prior to the potentially anxiety-provoking social situation, sufferers may deliberately go over what could go wrong and how to deal with each unexpected case. After the event, they may have the perception they performed unsatisfactorily. Consequently, they will review anything that may have possibly been abnormal or embarrassing. These thoughts do not just terminate soon after the encounter, but may extend for weeks or longer.

rustic words

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recoiling from recent company and time spent amongst the Manhattan elites, your humble narrator retreats into one of his little hobbies, locating and attempting identification of the various hatches observed to be adorning the pavement while aimlessly wandering through the megalopolis.

Contact with the landed gentry and officialdom of that tarted up island on the Hudson often reminds one of the jiggling jowls, legendary flatuence, and debased self obsession of those outrageous and decadent baronial lords found in eighteenth century Germany- resulting in and causing class rage to bubble up within this kid from working class Brooklyn.

from wirednewyork.com

The Manhole Cover Lady maintains an air of mystery. She lives alone in a studio apartment, where her files and photographs — “highly organized,” she says — leave no room for pets. She declines to reveal her age, which is about 50, because she sees herself as “ageless.” She also does not want her borough of origin made public. “Just say I’m a native New Yorker,” she says.

But she makes no secret of her crusade to save the ancient manhole covers, coal-chute covers and vault covers that dapple the city surface by the hundreds of thousands, some of them still-active portals to the netherworld. She estimates that a good 10 percent of the 400 covers featured in her book — “Designs Underfoot: The Art of Manhole Covers in New York City” — have already been paved over or tossed away since its publication in April.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thin skinned, opinionated, and -by all accounts- at least half mad, I often react to stimuli in uncommon ways.

For example: having dinner at an otherwise elegant and top notch U.S. Parks lodge restaurant on the rim of the Grand Canyon with the long suffering “Our Lady of the Pentacle” a few years ago, the evenings entertainment drove me into similar turf. A quartet of Native American dancers were presented, including two children. Now, this was obviously a “show biz” family which was likely earning good coin for the gig, but I found the scenario of having these Indian kids dancing for a roomful of pale faced conquerors uncomfortable at best.

Frankly, the analogy that came to mind was that this was a minstrel show, or a bunch of Jewish kids dancing merrily to entertain the Nazis. As mentioned, my world is strangely colored, and filtered through a strange and often disturbingly dark glass.

from wikipedia

Hasty generalization is a logical fallacy of faulty generalization by reaching an inductive generalization based on insufficient evidence — essentially making a hasty conclusion without considering all of the variables. In statistics, it may involve basing broad conclusions regarding the statistics of a survey from a small sample group that fails to sufficiently represent an entire population. Its opposite fallacy is called slothful induction, or denying the logical conclusion of an inductive argument (e.g. “it was just a coincidence”).

Context is also relevant; in mathematics, the Pólya conjecture is true for numbers less than 906,150,257, but fails for this number. Assuming something to be true for all numbers when it has been shown for over 906 million cases would not generally be considered hasty, but in mathematics a statement remains a conjecture until it is shown to be universally true.

Hasty generalization can also be a basis for racist beliefs and prejudices, in which inferences regarding a large group is based upon knowledge of only a small sample size of that group.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oddly enough, or logically, every inhabitant of the corridors of power wants to tell me what Newtown Creek is like- followed by their grandiose plans for it. They throw around buzzwords like sustainable, or “green”, peppering their conversation with dire prognostications about climate change and rising sea levels. Cocktail party environmentalists all, few of them have ever visited the watershed and would rather die than visit Queens, let alone Brooklyn.

To the elites of Manhattan, the population and geographic centers of New York City matter little, as long as whatever they flush or throw away disappears reliably down the drain.

from wikipedia

A cognitive bias describes a replicable pattern in perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality. They are the result of distortions in the human mind that always lead to the same pattern of poor judgment, often triggered by a particular situation. Identifying “poor judgment,” or more precisely, a “deviation in judgment,” requires a standard for comparison, i.e. “good judgment”. In scientific investigations of cognitive bias, the source of “good judgment” is that of people outside the situation hypothesized to cause the poor judgment, or, if possible, a set of independently verifiable facts. The existence of most of the particular cognitive biases listed below has been verified empirically in psychology experiments.

Cognitive biases are influenced by evolution and natural selection pressure. Some are presumably adaptive and beneficial, for example, because they lead to more effective actions in given contexts or enable faster decisions, when faster decisions are of greater value for reproductive success and survival. Others presumably result from a lack of appropriate mental mechanisms, i.e. a general fault in human brain structure, from the misapplication of a mechanism that is adaptive (beneficial) under different circumstances, or simply from noisy mental processes.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 22, 2012 at 12:15 am

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