The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

from places

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A nap, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This fellow, who was enjoying a nap on the sidewalk of Broadway in Astoria recently, is part of that large group of day laborers who congregate around a paint and hardware store found on the north side of the street between 41st and 42nd. These fellows are just looking to pick up a little work, and many are familiar faces in the neighborhood. Recently, the Salvation Army has been showing up to feed them, which has drawn a few ferals into their group.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s always been a certain “edge” to one or two of these guys, but again, what a man does to earn a living is his own business until it affects me. There’s a good amount of beer (and pizza) consumed by those unlucky enough to have not made the cut who are still on the scene in the afternoon. Old or small or unsavory, these are the guys who weren’t chosen by those passing contractors that employ the group as day laborers, but… working guys default to drinking beer. Some, like this gentleman, prefer the harder stuff and this is becoming an increasingly common sight in Astoria. Some guy passed out on the sidewalk, insensate and with the bottle in his hand, in full view of passing kids.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator is no virgin on the subject of spirits, lords and ladies. One was once able to quaff vast amounts of the stuff, spending entire days in the fog of youthful bacchanal, but not once did I ever find myself unconscious on the pavement (and I really, really tried). The idea of falling asleep on the streets of New York City like this… is terrifying. After capturing these shots, I walked over to the captain of the day labor crew, a fellow adorned with butterfly and “13” tattoos (he acts as translator for the largely Spanish speaking group) and offered “Yo boss, y’all gotta help your man out, he gonna get clipped.” These guys do try to look out for each other, and a couple of them scooped the drunk up and dropped him around the corner, placing him in someone’s driveway so as to provide cover from police attention.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are three Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Sunday, June 21st, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 18, 2014 at 10:39 am

5 Responses

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  1. “…cover from police attention”? Are you serious? The cops have been told to shut their eyes on this whole gaggle of illegals. Same outside Gleason’s Paint Store in Woodside and by the entry to the BQE on 69th and Broadway. You, however, did a nice photographic job showing what’s involved here. Where are the six-figure ($$$$) politicians who also know exactly what’s going on here? Did you call 911? And I mean 911? – not that ineffective 311. This drunk on the sidewalk needs emergency medical help . . . no?

    georgetheatheist...calling 'em as he sees 'em

    June 18, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    • Good point.
      Do NYC PD still pick up passed out drunks?

      Dibis Blastofs

      June 18, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      • What I usually observe is that they (the cops) call an ambulance and send these guys off to the hospital to sleep it off.

        Mitch Waxman

        June 18, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    • Not every human interaction needs to be mediated by the Police. His friends looked after him. These guys do that.

      Mitch Waxman

      June 18, 2014 at 11:02 pm

  2. […] is this oft observed behavior in the public space OK, and shouldn’t some member of the Gendarmé have checked to see if […]

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