The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for August 4th, 2015

unknown things

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114th precinct, I’m talking to you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Broadway in Astoria is a lovely stretch of small shops and restaurants which are enjoyed by the largely working class population found hereabouts. Sure, there’s noise, bad actors, crime and all that – no different from you’d find along any commercial strip in the City of Greater New York but our local gendarme does a pretty reasonable job of keeping a lid on things. Luckily, Astoria is somewhat self policing, and there’s so much going on at all times that no one thing can ever really become a paramount concern.

What we’ve got a lot of, however – which the local Bulls inexplicably overlook – is public drunkenness and vagrancy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At 42nd street and Broadway, where you’ll find Tsigonia Paint, a colony of alcoholic vagrants has set up shop and have been present in this area for several years. Once upon a time, there were three of them, which became six, and now there’s around twenty regulars. Before any of you Columbia University people crawl up my back and announce that your liberal sensibilities are offended by this post, or opine that I’m some sort of caveman, let us first define the fact that these fellows aren’t homeless – they are in fact bums. How do I know this? Because unlike those of you in the Ivory Towers of scholastic solemnity, I’ve actually talked with them and learned their names and stories. The fellow in the shot below who is standing up is a tragic figure named Andres, for instance.

Not a week goes by that somebody in the neighborhood doesn’t have to threaten to call the police to get these guys to vacate a residential driveway, stoop, or doorway. For most of us it’s common practice to just step over them as they sleep one off. They inhabit this corner, and you’ll observe them composing a small fraction of the day laborer population that hangs around Tsigonia Paint hoping to pick up work. Nothing wrong with that, of course, a man has to work. These guys, however, aren’t here to work – except on their buzz.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve sat and watched patrol car after patrol car roll right past scenes like the ones depicted in today’s post. It has been pointed out by me to various neighbors and elected officials that this is the sort of thing which can kill a neighborhood. Government people have said to me that these drunks will not be arrested, and that the best I could hope to happen is that the cops will harass them a little bit in the hopes of getting them to move on.

One corrosive effect that the presence of these fellows in the neighborhood has created is generally transmitted to other Spanish speaking immigrants, 99% of whom are not just productive but SUPER productive members of the community, which is an ugly consequence.

Since it seems to be completely fine for drunks to congregate hereabouts, a population of heroin addicts has recently claimed the corner of 41st street and Broadway (at the Queens Library) for their turf. That’s what I mean about “corrosive effect” btw.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots above and below you’ve seen before, lords and ladies. The fellow in the shot below was personally rescued by your humble narrator back during the epic cold snap in February, when he fell asleep in front of my house and was turning blue as he froze to the sidewalk in front of HQ. A quick call to 911 saw FDNY arrive and take him off to Elmhurst Hospital. I ended up having to help the two EMT’s get him onto the stretcher, as he was fighting them.

NYPD? Never showed, not on their radar.

Is it legal to get drunk and pass out on the streets of Astoria with an open bottle of booze in your hand?

How about shitting in the street? Is that ok as well?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Seldom am I confrontational with NYPD officers, I would point out. Whatever the current political vogue is regarding them, I nevertheless have a terrific amount of respect for the badge and personal relationships with both on duty and retired officers inform as to how much crap they have to endure during any given workday.

Why, however, doesn’t this obvious “Quality of Life” issue merit their attentions? Is it because of Compstat? Is it something political? Is this some of that “vibrant diversity” that all the politicians go on about at work?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What shreds me is that people have to walk their kids around these vagrants, and explain to them why some man is drunkenly crapping between two parked cars. For these kids, this sort of thing is normal.

114th precinct, I implore you to do something about this problem before we begin to slide further back into the chaos of the 1980’s. I promise that I will vote for anybody else than the current Mayor in return.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

August 8th, 2015
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills – LIC Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 4, 2015 at 11:00 am

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