The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for January 2014

strenuous activity

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Liberté.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a short one today depicting the giant pile of copper and copper and steel which has been arranged, in NY Harbor, into a 111 feet and six inches tall simulacra of a french woman. Her nose is 4.5 feet long, and she has a 35 foot waistline, just in case you were wondering.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 31, 2014 at 11:27 am

not utter

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Curious marking, everywhere.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While wandering through the megalopolis, one is exposed to a constant barrage of information. Bill board, signage, even the streets have instructions and a complex code of symbols that instruct and inform. It is impossible, for the literate, to not translate these graphical representations of words directly into thought. You can’t “not” read something, if you can – in fact – read. It would be like ignoring a smell.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thing is though, and I’ve mentioned environmental adaptation before (in reference to the fact that I don’t really smell Newtown Creek or the sewer plant in Greenpoint anymore), unless something painted or posted to the wall is truly extraordinary, I can’t distinguish it out from the rest of the visual clutter. The way I see it is that even if only a letter or two of a word triggers recognition (that’s an “A” and that’s a “B”) in me, the graffiti person has won. Same thing goes for advertising, I guess. Either way, I don’t like being forced into thinking. That’s the direction in which trouble lies, when one begins to think.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is currently occupying a sidewalk here in Astoria, and a Brazilian fellow walking a strange dog told me that the word is Portuguese and translates as “corruption”. It really stands out, as no one else has written anything on any nearby sidewalks, or in front of other houses. My Brazilian friend shrugged his shoulders, and sauntered off with his odd pet. Also, I must compliment the handwriting on this graffito, and would love to own a font which follows its esthetic.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 30, 2014 at 7:30 am

only memories

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“Remember me when I’m gone” is what everyone is really asking the rest of us to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mt. Zion Cemetery over in ancient Maspeth has been discussed at some length at this blog, nearly 5 years ago – and yes, Newtown Pentacle has been in existence for nearly 5 years now.

Check out Mt. Zion 1 – imps of the perverse“, “Mt Zion 2- Palaces of Light“, “Mt Zion 3- threading precipitous lanes“, “Mt Zion 4- A 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 “traitorous somnolence” explores the evidence left behind by certain peasant magicians at the polyandrion’s fence lines, which is worth a look.

Further research on the place – and the enigmatic Rudari tribe that once occupied the land here – however, has birthed a postulate in my mind that the so called Maspeth Gypsies are a lost civilization.

from wikipedia

Tambora is a lost village and culture on Sumbawa Island buried by ash and pyroclastic flows from the massive 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora. The village had about 10,000 residents. Scientists unearthing the site have discovered ceramic pots, bronze bowls, glass bottles, and homes and villagers buried by ash in a manner similar to that of Pompeii. Scientists believe the customs and language of the culture were wiped out. The culture was visited by western explorers shortly before its demise. They are believed to have traded with Indochina, as their pottery resembles that found in Vietnam.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are several small communities with decidedly non mainstream cultures, ones which set out into the wooded interior of North America in the decades prior to the Civil War, that have either disappeared from the map or been absorbed into the national culture. Appalachian Hillbillies, the Shakers, the Maspeth Gypsies – all have become “civilized” and subsumed into the larger body politic. Rumor and half truths abound – suggesting that there were many, many more lost tribes of man on this continent than are commonly accepted, when the European Rationalists began to colonize the place.

from csicop.org

In one subset of the lost-civilization genre of pseudohistory, the lost civilization is not a previously unknown group of people residing in the clichéd “dim mists of time” but instead an otherwise well-known ancient society that is remarkable primarily as a result of its geography, not for its precocious level of technological sophistication. Even restricting ourselves to just North America, the list of such claims is long—though evidence is short—and includes: Celtic kingdoms in the northeastern United States thousands of years ago (Fell 1976); Coptic Christian settlements in ancient Michigan (based on the so-called Michigan Relics) (Halsey 2009); Roman Jews in Arizona (the Tucson Artifacts) (Burgess 2009); the Lost Tribes of Israel in Ohio (the Newark Holy Stones) (Lepper and Gill 2000); and strange mixtures of various ancient Old World peoples secreted in hideouts in the Grand Canyon in Arizona (“Explorations in Grand Canyon” 1909) and in a cave in southeastern Illinois (Burrows Cave) (Joltes 2003). These claims are predicated essentially on the same notion: ancient Europeans, Africans, or Asians came to the Americas long before Columbus and long—perhaps thousands of years—before the Norse; they settled here and had a huge impact on the native people but then somehow became lost, both to history and to historians.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Permanence is something which nearly every band of humans strives to achieve, and even those who are philosophically opposed to the concept – like Buddhists – nevertheless built colossal statuary and temples of stone to mark their tenancy in Asia and around the Pacific rim. The New York City way of commemorating a location is to stick a highly impermanent signboard at a noteworthy spot, but that’s mainly for Manhattan and areas which suffer a lot of pedestrian traffic. Since Mt. Zion is theoretically going to be here as long as NYC exists, how about we stick up a sign of some kind acknowledging the former presence of this tribe of wandering coppersmiths and circus animal trainers who were called the Rudari?

from wikipedia

The Boyash are a branch/caste of the Romani people who were held as slaves in Wallachia and Moldavia together with other Romani castes, up until the latter half of the 19th century; such slavery was abolished in Romanian states in 1864.

In particular, the Boyash were forced to settle in the 14th century and work in mining (a regionalism for mine in Romanian: “baie,” from Middle Age Slavonic.). Due to their close proximity with Romanian-speaking people, they lost the use of the Romani language. Some groups relearned Romani when they came in contact with other Romani-speaking Romanis, after they emigrated from Romania (for example, in Ecuador).

Another name for the Boyash, Rudari, comes from the Slavic ruda (“metal”, “ore”). However, a few centuries later, the mines became inefficient and the Boyash people were forced to readjust by earning their living making wood utensils (Lingurari means “spoon-makers” in Romanian; also cf. Serbian ruda, Hungarian rúd, Romanian rudă meaning “staff, rod, pole, stick”). The nickname Kashtale (“wood-workers”) was also given to them by the Romani-speaking Romanis and it has remained in Romani as a more general word for a Romani person who does not speak Romani.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 29, 2014 at 11:09 am

delvings into

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Adjusting to the frozen realities of our time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As a housebound invalid, which is what these frigid temperatures reduce one such as myself to, it has been a bit of trial accepting the simple fact that the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself will never again shine down upon and warm the good land of Queens. One can really get a sense of why the events which would signal the oncoming Viking apocalypse (Ragnarok) were called the “Fimbulvetr” – which translates as “awful, great winter” – after the last couple of weeks. Eschatology notwithstanding, a humble narrator wishes that something – anything – would happen, even an oncoming storm of vengeful Valkyrie, just to break the monotony of the “Frozone.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At this stage, it seems that I’ve watched everything which Netflix offers. I can recommend “Lilyhammer” without reservation, and I’ve finally caught up on “Sherlock” and can understand what everyone has been going on about. I’m rereading David McCollugh’s “The Great Bridge” and endeavoring to finally slog through the final chapters of “Gotham” by Mike Wallace and Edwin G. Burrows. Also, planning for this years series of walking tours is underway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll be doing an event at Brooklyn Brainery in February, which will be discussed in a post later this week, and preparation for this will occupy a bit of my time, but like my little dog Zuzu – I’m bouncing off the four walls right now. I should have become a slave to Opium at some point in the past, so as to pass through intervals in the frozone in a cloud of nepenthe.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 28, 2014 at 9:04 am

leading corridor

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What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in posts last week, a couple of trips to coastal Brooklyn popped onto my schedule. In the case of today’s post, I was in South Brooklyn at the angle found twixt Red Hook and Cobble Hill, and crossing the street beneath the extremely drippy Gowanus Expressway.

from wikipedia

After the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, I-278 continues into Brooklyn on the Gowanus Expressway. Immediately after the bridge, the freeway comes to an eastbound exit and westbound entrance for the Belt Parkway. After this, a full interchange serves 92nd Street at which point I-278 becomes a single-level six-lane freeway. Along this road, one of the eastbound lanes serves as a high-occupancy vehicle lane. The Gowanus Expressway continues northeast into urban residential neighborhoods and reaches an eastbound interchange at Fort Hamilton Parkway and a westbound interchange at 86th Street. Turning more to the north, I-278 comes to a partial interchange at 65th Street, with an exit eastbound and entrance westbound. The road curves northwest at this point and comes to a directional interchange providing access to 3rd Avenue and the Belt Parkway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A confession, seldom do I actually pay attention to the minute details when photographing an area with which I’m not overly familiar. Instead, I go for the big shot, and use my lens at its widest angles. In the street, I have a lot to worry about – traffic, criminal underclasses and malign manifestations of the street culture, and so on. Often, when I’m at my desk and examining the shot qualitatively (focus and exposure rather than composition and esthetics etc.), something will jump out at me. Notice the blue van, which I didn’t until I was back at HQ.

from nyc.gov

…standing on a street, walkway of a bridge, sidewalk, or other pedestrian passageway while using a handheld device and not otherwise asserting exclusive use by any means, including physical or verbal, is not activity that requires a permit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, there I stood, dirty black raincoat flapping about in the slipstream of truck and traffic and waving the camera about during a red light interval. Obviously, this registered in the mind of the driver of the blue van as suspicious activity, and he began to photograph me right back. The panopticon at work, lords and ladies, he saw something. Wonder if he said something?

from securetransit.org

Whether you’re following your regular commute route or on your way to a movie or meet up with friends, public transit is a key part of your day. You know public transit, and no one can spot something suspicious or out of place better than you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 1984 scenario offered by Orwell has only come partially true in 2014. The State is indeed watching, and listening. Unfortunately, its usually “Little Brother” (as Cory Doctorow coined it) who is watching. This is all good though, as what is good for the goose is literally good for the gander, and the Brooklyn way is to keep an eye on the neighborhood. On this day, under the Gowanus Expressway, there were at least two surveillance devices active and pointing at each other. Mine and his. Mine was bigger.

from wikipedia

Big Brother is a fictional character in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. He is the enigmatic dictator of Oceania, a totalitarian state taken to its utmost logical consequence – where the ruling Party wields total power for its own sake over the inhabitants.

In the society that Orwell describes, everyone is under complete surveillance by the authorities, mainly by telescreens. The people are constantly reminded of this by the phrase “Big Brother is watching you”, which is the core “truth” of the propaganda system in this state.

Since the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the term “Big Brother” has entered the lexicon as a synonym for abuse of government power, particularly in respect to civil liberties, often specifically related to mass surveillance.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 27, 2014 at 8:36 am

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