The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for September 2015

abnormal horrors

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Salutations and Happy Wednesday, from here in the dimly lit Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one wandering about in the early evening, along the border betwixt Sunnyside, Woodside, and Astoria. Pictured above, a gas station found at the corner of Northern Blvd. and Woodside Avenue. It’s a Mobil station, as the corporate branding would imply, which historically means that it’s a SOCONY or Standard Oil Company of New York filling station.

SOCONY was based, of course, along my beloved Newtown Creek in Brooklyn. The modern world may be dross, but if you know what you’re looking at, history is writ large across it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was shot from a spot solidly within Astoria, and depicts the iconic credo of the LIC Turn Verein. The Turners were a Duetche organization, who are actually still around but based further east of Queens than formerly, who promulgated the idea that physical and spiritual exercise were inextricably linked. This rather esoteric idea is what’s behind their iconic combination of a dollar sign and a crucifix, as seen above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Woodside Avenue, one is happy to report, is still there. I will check in on and confirm the continuing presence of the ancient lane once the week long rain event that has begun today has reached its conclusion.

On the subject of Tropical Storm, or possibly Hurricane, Joaquin – this weekend’s walking tour of Calvary Cemetery with Atlas Obscura has been rescheduled for the following weekend, specifically for Saturday the tenth of October. It just ain’t going to be too safe to walk around on the saturated ground there, as my long experience with the property informs that the turf will be syrupy and difficult for perambulation. Last thing I ever want to happen on one of my tours is for someone to get hurt, and a slip and fall at Calvary could easily result in a serious injury, what with the vertical slabs of stone sticking up all over the place.

Also, lightning and open fields really aren’t a good combination.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Road’s terminus at Northern Blvd. is where you’ll find the NYCHA Woodside Houses, depicted in the shot above. Hopefully, Mayor Vain de Glorioso isn’t planning on instituting his asinine plan to build condos on the green space and playgrounds of this public housing development, but you never know. He is so tall that his head is literally lost in the clouds, and he walks upon the earth with gigantic feet that progressively crush all that are regressive enough to not get out of his way. When Ragnarok arrives in November of 2017, the Jotun (storm giant) is likely to experience some stormy weather and lightning. Hopefully, an electoral hammer will be thrown and find its mark, which will drive him and his ludicrous ideology back to the frosty shores of Park Slope.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 10th, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

khephrens gateway

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Shooting for the moon, in Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like everyone else in North America, a humble narrator was up on the roof the other night getting shots of the supermoon/lunar eclipse.

My experience was somewhat less than salubrious, due to the fact that the restaurant on the first floor of the building I live in was still open and their exhaust system operating. This equipment created a constant vibration in the concrete surface of the roof, which is ruinous for long lens shots. Pictured above, a view of the moonlight drenched Shining City as seen from Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The actual eclipse itself, a so called “blood moon.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking east from my vantage, and through a flight path leading to LaGuardia airport.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The moon as the eclipse was still forming up, moving towards penumbra.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A vertical shot looking eastward along Broadway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As long as I was up there, one last shot of the shining city. In an ideal world, the eclipse would have happened later in the night, when the moon was stationed above Manhattan.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 3rd, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm

another city

with one comment

A few shots from the 11103, here in the NYPD’s 114th precinct.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As expressed in last week’s posts, a humble narrator has had a whole lot of stuff going on. Details, things to do, meetings… the usual “blah blah blah” of the daily round. Our Lady of the Pentacle announced that she was going to be heading over to the Shining City for a social engagement last Friday evening, but I had already made plans to meet with a NY Times photographer to discuss his intentions for a series of essays on the harbor of NY and NJ at my “district office” – a pub called Doyle’s Corner found at the Times Square of Astoria at 42nd and Broadway.

My evening began with a trip to the local bank to deposit and withdraw, and along the way – a genuine articact of the pre digital world was spotted sitting on the sidewalk at the aforementioned Times Square of Astoria – an IBM Selecrtix typewriter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This brand and model of typewriter was the weapon of choice for business and professional writers during the 1980’s and early 90’s. It used to cost hundreds of dollars (which would translate into thousands these days) and was a highly coveted device. Today, it’s an analog artifact, and relegated to the corner trash pile. The hand written price tag on it, and the nearby proximity of a thrift store, allows me to hypothesize that it was likely liberated from sale utilizing the “five finger discount” method. Further supposition would suggest that the thief soon realized that there is little or no market value for a typewriter of this sort in 2015.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few quick shots of it were captured, and a paramount in my mind as I was gathering them was my pal Kevin Walsh of Forgotten-NY, who would have likely been swept up by a nostalgic wave at the sight of the thing. One continued up to Steinway Street to accomplish my banking, and then I headed back to my “district office” for my meeting with the NY Times guy. A few chums from the neighborhood also stopped by, and several pints of beer were consumed. While this mild debauch was underway, the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself disappeared, and the usual passion plays of Broadway ensued.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow pictured above appeared in front of the sidewalk cafe table I was sitting at, asking for a dollar while claiming he was hungry. He wasn’t hungry, instead he was blind drunk. He decided to lecture me, in fairly good English I would add, about the differences in generosity between the Mexican and American people when refusal to part with my dollar was offered. He’s one of the population of drunks who have been plaguing the neighborhood in recent months, incidentally, and a familiar face. He announced “Soy es un burracho” and tried to find a more generous person to give him a dollar.

Soon, he collapsed onto the sidewalk and surrendered to his inebriation. Remarking to myself that he had the wrong idea about Americans, I flagged down a passing FDNY hook and ladder truck and informed them that they had a customer. An ambulance arrived, and carted him off to a hospital where he would sleep it off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At home, later in the evening, one was hanging out with Zuzu the dog when that amiable canine began to utter a low growl. Coming from the sidewalk below was a string of Spanish curses, “puta madre” and the like. That’s when I noticed this fellow literally crawling home via the gutter.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After an interminable struggle he managed to right himself by hand holding parked cars, which were alternatively vomited and urinated on as he headed north. As mentioned at the top of the post, a humble narrator is the first one to suggest enjoying a few pints of beer. It would be hypocritical of me to say that getting a bit drunk isn’t an enjoyable yet occasional diversion. The photos of the drunks which I’ve been sharing with you, lords and ladies, are not of casual passerby who happen to be a little “effed up.” These are serial offenders. The guy in the shots above, well, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen him crawling through the gutter on his way home. The fellow passed out on the sidewalk who wanted a dollar? Same guy you see in the final shot of this post.

What we’ve been experiencing in Astoria, here in the 11103, is more than a bit over the top. This is a siege.

Just another Friday night, here in the 114th precinct, thought I.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 3rd, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 28, 2015 at 2:30 pm

consistently toward

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It has been one heck of a couple of weeks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One tends to become a bit overwhelmed at times, and the last couple of weeks are an exemplar of this truism. Accordingly, posts at this – your Newtown Pentacle – have been a bit… light on the hidden facts and occluded history and all the other stuff I’m normally obsessed with bringing you. A particular series of recent imbroglios surrounding my beloved Newtown Creek have occupied a bit of the brain space. Pictured above is the Kosciuszko Bridge spanning the troubled waterway.

Recent meetings and presentations offered by the various powers that be in the Superfund story have been generating a tremendous amount of debate amongst the activist community on the Creek – which is actually a great thing. It is only through hand wringing and intellectual conflict that a community can find the correct path towards the future by finding the “middle way.” There is a corporate side, a governmental side, and a community side to the story of rectifying Newtown Creek’s environmental issues. All have valid interests, and all must be acknowledged as we proceed through the superfund process.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor, the sort of thing one occupies himself with when the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself dips below the horizon offered by the shield wall of Manhattan, is presented in the “table shot” above. The photographic exercise was less about the technical aspects of the shot than it was about color purity and reproduction. The pencils were part of my old kit from back when I was drawing comics, and representative of the sort of palette which was often employed in the manufacture of my four color fantasies. This was a one light source one camera flash shot, for you curious shutterbugs out there.

The big flaw in the image is the color pollution notable in the orange brown shadows falling on the white substrate at the bottom of the shot, something which I’d retouch away if it was a “commerical” image rather than an exercise.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Around two in the morning one recent night, the sound of an angry toddler screaming drifted through my windows from the sidewalk below. Turns out that this kid wanted to go for a midnight walk and his VERY patient Dad was trying to explain to him why that was a bad idea. This fellow deserved the “Dad of the Year” award, imho. The kid kept on trying for the street, and Poppa kept on pulling him back in a kind manner, patiently explaining that playing in the streets was a bad idea.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lastly, the 5 train entering the bunker found at 59th street in Manhattan. For the last year or so, my normal habit of just getting on some Manhattan bound local train and lazily “sitting out” the trip has been avoided. I’ve been trying to use the system in a somewhat more intelligent way, which involves a lot of transfers. Don’t want you to think I’ve become a transit nerd… but I’m becoming a transit nerd.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 3rd, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 25, 2015 at 1:05 pm

darted curious

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Just a quick one today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one of the many, many drunks here on Astoria’s Broadway greets you today.

A humble narrator is a dollar short and a day late to the table, and accordingly a single shot from the 11103 greets you. Back tomorrow with something more substantial.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 3rd, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 24, 2015 at 1:53 pm

breezed aperture

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Wandering, ever wandering, and warnings.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself in Maspeth and scuttling past Mount Zion Cemetery recently, on the Maurice Avenue side. As is my habit, vast self recrimination and a certain series of guilty remembrances was underway. One likes to pull at scabs, feel the texture of the many scars which scribe, and generally feel rotten about every decision I’ve ever made. This thought process is actually something I schedule away for when I’m by myself on these long walks around the Newtown Pentacle, so as to keep others from having to experience who – and what – I really am.

One was musing about footprints while walking past the great burial ground. There’s the environmentalist and hiker etho about “leaving behind nothing but footprints,” the historian’s one about “tracking the footprints of giants,” and the Brooklyn one about “sticking my boot up yo ass.” The latter is what I’m focused on at the moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Being Creative” doesn’t necessarily mean wanting to draw a picture in my current world view. When I use that statement these days, I’m mainly thinking about Dharma. You can either create or destroy in this world we commonly hold, and the choice you make between those two poles reflects whom you aspire to be. Struggling to be “creative” against my darker urges to “crush, kill, and cause anyone I disagree with to perish in fire” is sort of what one has been aspiring to in the last decade.

Saying that, one grows weary of having to contantly reaffirm that I am exactly who I claim to be and not the shadow agent of some moneyed cabal. I have no agenda, no goal, no desire. All I want is for environmental conditions to not suck as hard as they do, and for the City to stop dumping raw sewage into the water. I also want to remind people that places like Mount Zion have a long and storied past, and that few remember the Maspeth Gypsies or the Native Americans who once called this place home as institutional memory is in short supply amongst modern people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is enough to breed paranoia, and the next person who accuses me of being a shill for some malign corporate or governmental entity is going to receive the full Brooklyn footprint mentioned above, and I wear a size 11 shoe. This line of thought, however, is what one struggles against. It’s “not creative,” rather it’s destructive.

Nothing is achieved by destruction save the feeling of superiority over others. It gets nothing done, and the divisive process of internecine warfare amongst like minded individuals actually results in those aforementioned malign corporate or governmental entities winning the day as the field has been cleared of opponents. We agree on more than we disagree about, let’s fix the things we agree on and then argue the rest when the work is done.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Green and growing places are good. Concrete and highways are bad. Can we agree on that?

Thoughts like these are what one prefers to think about, rather than planning the destruction of enemies and anticipating the lamentations of their women and children. Don’t mess with a humble narrator, accusers, because a great wheel will roll right the hell over you and crush you down into the poison loam of Queens.

You don’t want to make me angry, as you won’t like me when I’m angry.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 3rd, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 23, 2015 at 12:30 pm

noisome herd

with one comment

There really is no hope for the future, is there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor saw a humble narrator headed eastwards towards the ancient hillocks of Maspeth from Astoria, and since time was short, a bit of the old mass transit was called for. My plan involved getting to Elmhurst by train and grabbing a Q53 bus at Queens Blvd. which would carry me up the surprisingly steep slope that 69th street is set into to my eventual destination nearby Borden Avenue and the LIE. Accordingly, one found himself at the estimable Steinway Street stop of the R and M lines.

This particular subway station is one of two I frequent, the other being 46th street. Both are in somewhat deleterious condition, as least as far as the passenger visible areas are concerned, but are fairly serviceable. A bit of steam, bleach, and elbow grease could work wonders for these facilities but… well… the borough motto is… after all… Welcome to Queens, now go fuck yourself.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a lot of fingers you can accusingly point at our commonly held municipal employees, particularly the ones who work for the NYCTA division of the MTA. The transit system is the last true home of trade unionist sentiment, and often it seems that if a fire was to break out down in the sweating concrete bunkers that the trains move through, it would be allowed to spread if no representative of “Fire Alarm Pullers Local 103” were present.

Fair enough, I guess, as the Union guys and gals who work down here are battling against the Doctor Doom of faceless bureaucracy on a daily basis. Nobody beats the MTA for what the military would call “fold up fucktard” policies, or at least that’s what I’ve been told by people who work for them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The situation, however, pictured above isn’t the fault of either Union Labor nor Albany Wonk. This one is on us. There’s observably been a growing issue with litter citywide, wherein entire generations of New Yorkers seem to have been able to get all the way from Kindergarden to College without once being exposed to the concept that you shouldn’t just abandon your trash wherever you feel like it. The concept of finding a proper receptacle for trash is alien to most, it would seem.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Never mind the eclectic collection of beverage containers and bits of paper, who tosses a soccer ball into a Subway pit? If a train’s leading edge caught this ball in Astoria…

Seriously, what is wrong with you people, would you do this at home?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not to be a scold, but here’s the way it’s supposed to work:

If you have generated trash during your daily rounds – say, a water bottle or crumpled up piece of foil from a sandwich or something – you are meant to hold on to it until you spot a proper receptacle. Said receptacle is called a “garbage can.” A group of Municpal employees will ostensibly come by at somewhat regular intervals to empty these cans. What you don’t do is a) just drop it, b) throw it onto the Subway tracks.

I swear, what this City needs is a good plague.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

October 3rd, 2015
Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets

Written by Mitch Waxman

September 22, 2015 at 11:17 am

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