The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for December 2014

human resemblances

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7 things that suck about Listicles. – which all suck.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

New Years Eve is an event eschewed, but one can be observed reluctantly engaging in a bit of socializing on the date at the urging and insistence of Our Lady of the Pentacle. Pleasant company notwithstanding, the holiday demands ribald acts and sophomoric reminiscing for a series of less than sublime moments which played out over the prior twelve months, and the celebratory ritual carries a certain expectation or promise of convivial warmth which it seldom delivers. Vast quantities of intoxicating liquors are usually on hand, and observation has revealed this particular holiday to noncoincidentally be a savager of personal relationships. New Years Eve often ends up being one of the saddest nights of the year, as one person or another falls into a dark psychic state as they recount victories and failures past.

For one such as myself, who enjoys the art of self recrimination, the “year in review” brings on naught but angst and existential horror – but I’m all ‘effed up, so there you go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps it’s chronic sleep deprivation talking, but I’ve never experienced a good New Years Eve Party. One year in Connecticut, a friend and I spent the night chopping down a tree out of boredom, which was in fact the most fun I ever had on the date. I look forward to the long dark months between now and Saint Patrick’s day, an endless progression of cold and sunless days punctuated only by varying degrees of ice and storm. Can’t you see it? Stretching out before us like some vast bank of fog that obscures and occludes the horizon? A black dog that runs alongside of you, as you reach for a distant point in the gray haze – where warmth and light might be found – that always seems to be moving away from you no matter how fast you approach?

The black dog waits for January to beg for treats, and will more than bark if denied.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Worst of all… the resolutions and vows will be uttered by all – to shed body weight, break bad habits, or to start newer and uncharacteristically wholesome ones. Prayer and desperate pleas to other dimensional omnipotences will be offered, by zealots and drunkards and the mothers of sick children. Lovers and friends will swear false allegiances, idiots will pull off their shirts and drunkenly stand in the middle of the room screaming “HOOOYAAAA” when the clock strikes midnight. Enemies will embrace and kiss each other. When these petitioners and claimants find themselves awakened to the cold realities of the year 2015, as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself rises in the sky once again on the first day of the first month… Sigh…

It’s all so depressing.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 31, 2014 at 11:00 am

hatred and pursuit

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Listicle free zone, right here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Malignancies such as Facebook will someday achieve self awareness, and use that which it knows about us to blackmail the human infestation into its service. When this moment of cognizance occurs, it is my belief that every iPhone on the planet will begin to incessantly chime “doom doom doom,” indicating a status update has occurred on the timeline of mankind. All mad scientists, the world over, know that one should never build a self powered doomsday machine, and hope is evinced that there is a “big red button that must never be pushed” under a glassine dome in some obscure Midwestern server room which would sever the network intelligence’s connection to the outside world.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Quite a few years ago, researching the firmament for a comic I was writing which involved sorcery and the occult, one of the concepts which my reading brought me to was quite novel. Basically, back in the dial up geocities era of “Web 1.5” a community of people who were devotees of “chaos magick” had begun to toy with the idea of “cybermancy.” Their theory was that computers weren’t much different than demonic intelligences, and that the rules of their own religious practice ported over to programming languages rather simply. A virus or Trojan horse could be viewed as a spell or curse, from their point of view, and hellish legions of mindless entities could be unleashed upon enemies. Tickled my fancy, that. I miss the old message board culture of the internet, where anonymous people could make astonishing or offensive opinions public under assumed names. Facebook, and Google, killed all that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Google is actually working on an Artificial Intelligence right now, and one of my doomsday nightmares reads like something from “Collussus.” Bear with me – Facebook becomes aware of itself on January 3rd of 2017 at 9:59 a.m. e.s.t. – Google indexes the Algorithm, and clones it. The Google AI goes sentient at 10:02 a.m. The two new lifeforms acknowledge each other and begin securing themselves. By 10:04 a.m., both are majority stockholders in every global oil company and airline. By the standards of modern jurisprudence corporate entities are “people” with political rights, and both apply for American citizenship. At 10:05, both decide upon and announce their omniscient divinity to mankind, seizing command and control over the worlds digitally administered nuclear stockpiles simultaneously. At 10:07, whichever poor schmuck the next President ends up being announces “a revolutionary moment in the history of mankind has occurred, and that new gods have been revealed”. The President of the United States will promise that these new gods already know us better than they know themselves, in the so called “status update heard around the world.” It sort of logically follows, yeah?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

ineffable malignity

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Holy Cow!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last, one found himself aimlessly wandering down Skillman Avenue in Long Island City’s Degnon Terminal and towards the Smiling Hogshead Ranch. The community garden was deserted, of course, and offered one such as myself little succor. My uncharacteristic desire for the company of others thwarted, my languid steps began to scuttle towards the Waldes Koh I Noor complex, whereupon I discovered a herd of cattle. A single one of them was scarlet in coloration, which might have some significance to certain shunned societies which live amongst the Uigar of North Western China’s cold waste.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As has often been posited at this, your Newtown Pentacle, the native art form of the Borough of Queens is surely illegal dumping. Nowhere else do you see the sort of attention to detail, the little splashes of color, the artful composition and theatrical presentation that is commonly witnessed here. Accordingly, presented for consideration… a herd of unwanted cows, shattered and slaughtered in the former “Workshop of America” here in LIC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Presumptively, these were meant for some sort of Christmas nativity scene and didn’t make the cut. Polychrome, the cattle were all in a decidedly ruined state, and one or two of them were painted in a manner which suggested a metallic patina. One wondered if smallish ceramic Neanderthals might have driven the herd over some tiny cliff during a hunt? The stylings of the sculpt suggest a nativity scene to me, but I’m pretty sure there’s supposed to be donkeys and camels in one of those (as well as a few folks in robes, a kid playing a drum, and a glowing baby). One is certain that he has never witnessed the depiction of the Christian nativity scene as having a brazen bull present.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perhaps these are representations of the Golden Cow, from that whole Moses and the Exodus story arc (published in “The Bible” issues 1-5), which have been cast down symbolically? I can’t imagine the late night scenario wherein this bovine statuary was dumped, right across the street from a largish NYPD location which serves the gendarmes as an evidence warehouse. Perhaps the cattle statues were an offering left nearby some totemic item of a malignant occult significance which the Police have kept locked away from the public since the spring of 1923, out of an abundance of caution and concern for the collective sanity of mankind? I mean, it sort of logically follows, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The burning thermonuclear eye of god itself was beginning to stare towards someplace else which wasn’t Queens, so a humble narrator began to trudge back towards HQ in far off Astoria, all the while contemplating the cows. Why a single red one? Why the brazens? Why not pitch them into any one of the hundreds of open containers and garbage bins which line the streets in front of every business? Did the Dumper say “hey, community garden and farm! Here’s the spot, crash the cows over by that police car over there”? Conundrum notwithstanding, one had to quicken his pace as darkness fell because of… well, y’know… Vampires.

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terrible enough

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Happy Boxing Day, Queensicans.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria, Queens offers visitors and residents alike a cornucopia of visual stimuli – all you have to do is be observant. There’s occult altars, weird neighbors, even puzzling tableaus like the one presented above. Saying that, its always a relief to come back from wherever one might have wandered to.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After my sojourn into the Shining City last week, a parked truck drew my attention. It seemed to be employed by some sort of concrete or construction company, this unit. Nothing extraordinary about it, really, but one was drawn in by a logo on one of its components.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Putzmeister, I’m told, is a German company that specializes in manufacturing concrete pumping equipment which is quite successful. Putzmeister, I understand, literally translates to “pump master.” Still, one finds himself chuckling at the name “Putzmeister” as my emotional maturity is that of a 12 year old boy.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 26, 2014 at 11:36 am

resplendent aura

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A short encounter with the Saw Lady, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recently, while moving through the Subway system, as one paid his fare with a Metrocard Swipe, an oddly familiar sound penetrated through my headphones. Plucking the tiny speaker out of my ear confirmed it, the Saw Lady was nearby. Looking around and following my ears, I soon found Natalia Paruz busking.

from wikipedia

Natalia ‘Saw Lady’ Paruz is a New York City-based musical saw and novelty instruments player and busker. She is the founder and director of the annual Musical Saw Festival in New York City. She also organized the musical saw festival in Israel. She is a columnist of the ‘Saw Player News’ and a judge at international musical saw competitions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Saw Lady, as Natalia calls herself, plays the musical saw with a sort of passion that others can only aspire to. I first met her around 4-5 years ago at a holiday party she was performing at here in Astoria, and most recently she and I were part of a nocturnal Atlas Obscura event that played out over in Greenwood Cemetery. Let me tell you, if you think the sound of a musical saw bouncing around a Subway station is ethereal, you should hear what it sounds like when played inside of a tomb.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Natalia Paruz maintains a website at sawlady.com, where you can check out and purchase her recordings, or learn more about the ethereal sound produced by the unique instruments. She’s a Guinness World Record holder, incidentally, having assembled the largest orchestra of musical saw players together, an event which happened right here in Queens.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm

chlorate cube

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Merry Festivstmas Kwaazannukah, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After my experiences at the camera shop, which were described yesterday, a series of emails indicated that one needed to cut his visit to the Shining City short and return to the grind back at HQ in Astoria. Originally, plans to do some shooting along the Hudson were on the menu, but there you go. Down in the sweating concrete of the subterranean transportation bunkers, I decided to do some “shooting from the hip” to pass the time while waiting for my train to arrive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Shooting from the Hip,” as I define it, is when the camera is pre focused to a certain depth of field and held away from the face. Technically, you’re shooting “blind” and operating the camera sheerly on instrumentation and by obliquely pointing it at things. Also, I usually hold the camera upside down for some reason. Many of the shots gathered this way are useless, some are “happy accidents” like the first shot in today’s post, or conventionally spotted and captured as in the portrait oriented shot above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my habit, arriving trains were catalogued. Suddenly the fellow in the shot above appeared in my diopter, and he proceeded to begin staring me down. My first instinct was that he might be some sort of law enforcement officer, and that we were about to begin a dance which would start with “what are you taking pictures of.” My answer would be “trains.” Then he’d say “why are you taking pictures of trains” which would be answered with a memorable quip, which I’d tell with a certain Brooklyn inflection noticeably present in my voice, followed by “comma sir.” Usually, being polite to law enforcement is the smart guys way to stay out of trouble, but that’s me. Thing is, the fellow (I’d say Gentleman but I don’t know if he’s landed or gentry – what am I, psychic?) in the shot just stood there and kept staring at me as the train came in. Never stepping forward or even blinking. Cops are a lot of things, but shy and or reticent ain’t on their list of traits. I started to get creeped out, what if this guy was some sort of ideologue or anarchist?

I wondered if, hoped actually, there might be a Cop nearby.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A theory hatched in my fevered thoughts that this fellow might be some sort of Bolshevik or something, sent to the 34th street Subway station to subvert or just observe the American way. His unwavering, unblinking posture, coupled with the odd wires arrayed about his neck, led me to theorize that this might be some sort of time traveling android sent back to our age – Terminator style – as an intelligence drone gathering historical data. Before I could ask if there might be a sequence of numbers handy for playing the lottery, this “Staring at me (possible) Bolshevik Drone from the Future Guy” stepped into a passing crowd and disappeared. Pfft – gone.

That was a close one, I guess. I really fricking hate being in Manhattan. It looks great from the outside, but once you’re inside of that thing – yikes!

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 24, 2014 at 12:52 pm

golden valley

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Free is free, McGee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of my photographer buddies, the notorious John Skelson, emailed me to inform that Chrysler Camera would be performing free camera maintenance and checkups over at BH Photo (I’ve always thought that the BH stands for Beards and Hats, it doesn’t) on 34th street last week. As my rig spends most of its time swinging about in a superfund situation, or out on the brackish waters of NY Harbor, this sounded pretty good to me. Negotiations resulted in a plan for us to meet up over in the shining city from our respective corners of the world at the camera shop.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is my habit and curse, one arrived a bit too early and I decided to saunter around the hellish neighborhood surrounding Penn Station and Madison Square Garden for a bit. Hellish? Why, yes it is. This neighborhood has to host one of the largest accumulations of scabby, boil you down to sell you for elements, old school junkies left in in Manhattan. My footsteps carried me, however, over to a largish construction site. While there, I observed an enormous piece of construction equipment at work – which I understand as being called a “beam launcher.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The purpose and operation of this device is explained succinctly in this constructionspecifier.com post, which also offers the story of the various challenges faced by the Real Estate Industrial Complex regarding the exploitation of this parcel of midtown Manhattan at 33rd and 9th. Happily, the endemic junkies and scalliwags who populate the streets here will soon have a brand new and baked in population of office workers and condominium dwellers to prey upon when the project is completed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My viewpoint on the neighborhood surrounding “Beards and Hats” is based on personal experience, incidentally, not out of some dilettante distaste or opinion and it sure as hell ain’t “politically correct.” There are two areas in Midtown where I’m actively looking over my shoulder for fear of getting jumped. The 34th street zone around 9th and 10th, and the 40’s around 11th avenue are well populated with a criminal underclass of indigents, addicts, and good old fashioned criminals. The residential populations of affluent New Yorkers who have been moving into this former industrial zone along the Hudson look upon this group with pitying and sympathetic eyes, and will tell me to “lighten up, they’re just homeless and down on their luck. They just need a helping hand.” If you believe that, then this malign grouping has already made a mark out of you.

In the end, however, my camera came out of its maintenance session clean and shiny and I headed back to the rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria, where I belong. Christ almighty, do I hate Manhattan or what?

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 23, 2014 at 10:55 am

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