The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for February 2013

eternal day

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last weekend, a social engagement found Our Lady and myself breaking bread with another couple at an Indian place here in Astoria. One of our quartet is a Federal Employee, who was describing the practical effects of the so called “sequestration” upon the mechanics of the Government. Simple transactions, such as getting a tax return check or obtaining a new passport, will be delayed. She continued that in her case, she would simply not be able to go to work for a period, despite the urgency of her task.

The paroled child molesters whom she normally polices will simply have no one looking after them.

What could go wrong?

All the way up the food chain, however, chaos will ensue as Federal functionaries are furloughed, and the Defense Department has to start laying off soldiers. Medical research will also be hard hit.

Remember that a motto of the far right wing, when referring to the Federal Government, is to “starve the beast.”

Remember that when the Cubans invade Texas next winter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Visions of the Roman Senate and Pompey Magnus danced in my head, and the sound of galloping horses approaching the Rubicon clouded my hearing. I tuned out my friend entirely, as I just couldn’t discuss the subject without blowing my cool. All I could taste was fire, but after all, I had just eaten an entrée at an Indian restaurant.

After dinner, a new policy was decided and is announced today.

As of now, whenever a subject upsets or annoys me, I am going to block it out and go to my happy place.

In my case, that happy place is a bakery, and I shall blot out the reality of my situation and just think about cake. No more parables, politicians nor portents for me, not anymore, just pastry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Intercession with the human hive is a good thing, allowing one to form opinions and offer new questions for expert answering. As many of the answers which have been offered in recent years have often forced one to retreat back into his “happy place” and resort to living in nothing more than a world of his own imagining- anticipation of visiting this inner paradise of baked goods often in the coming year nearly overwhelms.

Also, I make this sewer cover as 1910’s-20’s. How about y’all?


Written by Mitch Waxman

February 28, 2013 at 12:15 am

unthinkable gardens

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s a little slice of life, from Astoria…

The public litter baskets are regularly emptied around these parts, DSNY does its thing well. The thing is, DOB does its thing pretty good too. Hence- they spend a lot of time looking for illegal sublets and apartments. One of the methods they use to determine the address from which a particular violation might emanate from are reports submitted by the DSNY and DOH inspectors who enforce the recycling rules. If a two family house is putting out more than a certain amount of garbage, for instance, it triggers further interest from these inspectors.

The inspectors are good at their job too, by the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, what officialdom doesn’t reckon is whom they are dealing with, here amongst the blessed hills of raven haired Astoria. A significant proportion of the population hereabouts was born overseas, and will relate tales of civil disobedience and outright partisan warfare against varied regimes- those of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, and Tito are mentioned by older inhabitants. Younger residents will relate their antagonistic relationships with governments, and having stood tall before the dictatorial policies of (amongst others) Mubarak, Thatcher, and several South American military “Juntas.” They do not fear Michael Bloomberg.

Resistance to bureaucracy is baked into their bones, and it is impossible to make them do something which they don’t want to.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Accordingly, local custom has developed wherein the residents of these illegal apartment conversions are simply using the corner litter basket for household trash in order to not reveal the location where they are living.

Subsequently, the corner litter baskets are no longer usable for their intended purpose. Consequently, trash and litter are wind blown and gather wherever nature decides to deposit them, which is more often than not the sidewalks and fence lines of legal abodes. Said legal abodes are then ticketed for not cleaning the pavement, according to statute. Also, since the pavement is already covered in trash, there are no societal cues offered to discourage the populace from just dropping additional trash wherever they can.

The litter baskets are full up anyway.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 27, 2013 at 12:15 am

vainly requested

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My bet is that this is mid 1960’s, quite possibly a 1965, Buick LeSabre Custom Convertible which I spotted on Northern Blvd. a few months ago, here in Queens. For more on the storied history of the redoubtable LeSabre automobile line- check wikipedia.

The car was painted black, which magnified how bad ass it looked.

Gangster, in fact.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the businesses which one can expect to find along a busy thoroughfare called Northern Blvd., here in Queens, are used car dealers. Aside from high volume sellers like Major Auto World, there exist a loquacious group of classic car dealers and mechanics. There is also a large operation near Astoria Blvd. that offers older and more esoteric vehicles, whose inventory is a wonder for both area wag and young enthusiast alike.

By “classic,” we are generally referring to pre 1972 era vehicles. Essentially, cars were built heavy and fast back then, and burned through gasoline in a manner that did not anticipate the rise of OPEC.

from wikipedia

Americans are divided on the exact era in which a “classic car” can be identified.

Many Americans divide automobiles by separate eras:

horseless carriages (19th century experimental automobiles such as the Daimler Motor Carriage), antique cars (brass era cars such as the Ford Model T), and classic cars (typically 1930s cars such as the Cord 812 through the end of the muscle car period in the 1970s – a majority use the 1972 model year as the cutoff).

The late seventies are disputed as being “classics”, as the oil crisis of 1973 brought several now-infamous cars such as the Ford Pinto and AMC Gremlin.

The 1980s are often viewed as the early modern period due to the rise of Japanese automakers such as Toyota and Nissan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One should like to mention that there seems to be an inconsistency in the grill of this LeSabre with at least one other photo I’ve viewed, the sort revealed by google images, but am unsure as to its meaning- which one is “cherry” with the OEM grill?

Lords and ladies, if any of you are “car people,” please elucidate and educate using the “comments.”

I can tell you, however, that this was not the factory paint. Yeesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I was a young but already humble narrator, and became cognizant of those glories which were automobiles, these veritable land yachts had already begun to disappear due to the rising cost of gasoline and the concordant efforts of the Federal Government to encourage and command fuel efficiency standards for manufacturers. Modern cars are a wonder to behold and are far easier to drive safely while consuming a fraction of what this thirsty LeSabre would.

Still… just look at that…


Written by Mitch Waxman

February 26, 2013 at 12:15 am

doubly glad

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the “anxious band” posting a couple of weeks ago, an email was received from none other than the Historian of Old St. Pat’s Cathedral- Jim Garrity. Mr. Garrity’s message was gladly accepted, as he offered the key to unlock the mystery of who the enigmatic monument described was dedicated to.

First- it was Jeanne Du Lux and John P. Ferrie inscribed upon the stone, names which were familiar to one such as Mr. Garrity, whose expertise on the subject of the 19th century Irish experience in New York City will be questioned only by madmen and fools.

With the help of Mr. Garrity’s sound advice and excellent tomb stone deciphering skills, the story is now clear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“With these provisions of the code in force Jeanne Du Lux a woman of French extraction died November 15th, 1854 at an advanced age in the city of New York intestate leaving a large personal estate to be administered and distributed according to the laws of the place of her domicile.”

That’s from 1871’s “Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, Volume 80” (courtesy google books).

So’s this-

“Within a month of her decease John Pierre Ferrie applied to the surrogate of the county of New York for letters of administration on her estate claiming them on the ground that he was her only child and therefore her sole heir at law and next of kin.

This application was opposed… During the pendency of these proceedings, Benoit Julien Caujolle Bert Barthelemy Canjolle, and Mauretta Elie, with their respective wives, appeared before the surrogate and asked to be heard alleging that they were the next of kin and for that reason entitled to intervene in the matter of the administration and to share upon the distribution of the estate and asking to receive their distributive share of the same.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that Mr. Ferrie had to assert and prove his rights as heir in several high profile cases, included defending himself in his native France. The French Consulate and New York State ruled in his favor, but appeals elevated the dispute all the way to the Supreme Court.

At question was his status as having been born a bastard.

In the end, the bastard won, and is buried with his mom beneath an opulent monument that has carried both of their portraits for more than a century. You never know what you’re going to find at Calvary Cemetery in Queens- and sometimes- the things that you do find, you should ask a smart friend about. Thanks Jim!

from 1867’s New York Daily Tribune, courtesy

DeLux Ferrie

later developments

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a quick one for Maritime Sunday this week, of the Marjorie B. McAllister tug steaming out of the Kill Van Kull. Iconic backgrounds notwithstanding, this is a pretty cool little boat, and deserving of a hearty “Hi.”

Project Firebox 60

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perennial shadow is what it has dwelt in, surrounded on three sides by mammoth Astorian apartment blocks on 34th avenue at 45th street, for more than a half century. Regardless of the darkness, it stands eternal vigil, connecting a vulnerable corner to the grid via a tenuous sarabande of copper wire. Shine on, noble firebox, shine on.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 23, 2013 at 12:37 am

treasures offered

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lots to do next week, meetings and galas, all sorts of situations to feel socially awkward in are coming up. Smart and well positioned opinion will be available for the price of attendance, at Newtown Creek Alliance’s “Spotlight on Citizen Science” on Monday the 25th in Long Island City.


NCA’s February meeting will highlight the wide array of local citizen and student scientists exploring all angles of the creek. The meeting will be structured as a showcase, with quick presentations on each topic, and materials for you to peruse in person. Come mingle with your local citizen scientists.

NCA Spotlight on Citizen Science

February 25, 2013 at 6pm

LaGuardia Community College

E Building, Room E-242

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A different sort of gathering will be happening at The India House Club, when Working Harbor Committee hosts its annual Gala, and this year’s honoree is Lucy Ambrosino. A great party, the Gala gathers the movers and shakers of NY Harbor together, and proceeds from the event help fund the WHC’s education programs and summer boat tours.

That’s Tuesday the 26th.


Lucy Ambrosino is being honored for her ardent commitment to the Port of New York and New Jersey and the working harbor which supports it. An effective and committed consensus builder, Lucy is a strong advocate and enthusiastic participant in all efforts to educate the public about the value of the working harbor.

The award will be presented by Andrew McGovern, President, New Jersey Sandy Hook Pilots at 7:15 p.m.

Tuesday Evening – 26 February 2013

India House Club — Marine Room

One Hanover Square, New York City, NY 10004

6 o’clock — 8:30 o’clock – Business Attire

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A town hall meeting, with the NYS DOT and several local elected leaders, will discuss the upcoming Kosciuszko Bridge project. The meeting is being hosted by OUTRAGE, a community group concerned by the enormous footprint of truck based industry in North Brooklyn.

That’s Wednesday the 27th.


– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lastly, the unfortunate locale and long neglected and seldom considered municipality called Manhattan will be the setting for a “Long Term Control Plan: Citywide Modeling Workshop.”

Discussions of the recently experienced meteorological phenomena and concurrent flooding is necessitated and accordingly an understanding of the “New Normal” will be offered by the authorities. Ramifications will be explored, existential quandaries expounded upon and considered by representatives of the inestimable NYS DEC and the stalwart NYC DEP.

This one is Thursday the 28th, and I’m sure it will be a civil engineering and urban planning hootenanny.



Thursday, February 28, 2013 at US Customs House, Auditorium, 1 Bowling Green from 6:00pm – 8:00pm.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is co-hosting a citywide workshop to present and review the modeling processes that will be used to test potential alternatives identified as part of the Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) Program with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). At the workshop, DEP and DEC staff will review the Watershed/Landside and Hydrodynamic/Water Quality models and the proposed baseline assumptions for evaluating the benefits of CSO control alternatives.

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