The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

many went

with 5 comments

My favorite place, when I was a kid.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Facebook the other day, I mentioned to my little collection of friends that I had signed up for one of those NYCID cards in pursuance of all the free stuff you get in return. There’s a collection of institutions which normally cost a larger than you’d expect fee at the front door, and the NYCID card gets you a free membership which negates any sort of payment for 12 months.

One of them is the American Museum of Natural History. You present your NYCID at the front desk, and you get a complimentary year of membership to the institution.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I was in the City anyway, and had a couple of hours to kill in between appointments, so I hopped on the B and went over to 81st and Central Park West and did the deed. Having a little time to kill, I strolled around the museum before it got too crowded. By about 12:30 p.m., I had discovered where every tourist visiting NYC with small kids in tow goes in the afternoon and given my lack of patience with crowds – well, it was time to head back to Queens and get back to work at HQ anyway after about an hour and fifteen minutes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I did manage to visit a few exhibits. I’ve always been kind of partial to the ice age mammals, personally, but let’s face it – you don’t go to Natural History to see Mammoth bones. You go for the dinosaurs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned above, when I was a kid this was my favorite place in the world. Last time I spent any length of time at the museum was back in the early 90’s when I lived not too far away at the corner of 100th street and Broadway. I had been hanging around that section of the Upper West Side for awhile, going back to the late 80’s when I worked a college job as a non Union doorman in a building I would later live in.

Mostly boring work, but good for studying, and I had to get physical a few times with crack heads who wanted to use the lobby to smoke up. The neighborhood gentrified quickly, and became both crack head free and banal, back in the late 90’s and by 2003 – Astoria beckoned. I’ve been back to the Natural History museum just once in the interval since then, accompanying a buddy who was drawing a comic for Marvel and needed to do some Pterodactyl and Archaeopteryx research.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NYCID thing was actually kind of painless to handle. I made an appointment, at LaGuardia Community College of all places, and showed up with proof of address and a couple of other required documents. The whole thing took about 15 minutes and the card came in the mail about a week later. I’m signed up at Moving Image here in Astoria and at Natural History, so far.

The part I’m excited about is the free zoo membership, of course. Only problem with that is that I have to go to Bronx Zoo to do the signup, which is a great example of the macabre sense of humor which New York City exhibits. Expect many, many, copulating monkeys at this – your Newtown Pentacle – in 2016.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The crowds at American Museum of Natural History really begin to dense up in the early afternoon, and as I was leaving it was noticed that there was a good sized lineup of people out on the steps waiting their turn to stand on the lines inside. Have to say – one of the many things which has changed since a humble narrator was young is that back in the 80’s and 90’s you were pretty much alone in these museums on week days.

There’s no way you could just drop yourself down on the floor and throw open a sketch book with all the tourists clodding about these days. New York really isn’t for New Yorkers anymore, I guess.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Written by Mitch Waxman

February 22, 2016 at 11:00 am

5 Responses

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  1. It’s also jammed I suspect because of that Night at the Museum movie with Robin Williams as Teddy Roosevelt.

    I used to go there with my friend in our pre-pubescent days to watch the free nature/science movies on Saturday afternoons. You ever see “Hemo the Magnificent”? A tale of blood circulation in the body? And they also showed Walt Disney nature films.

    georgetheatheist . . . Those Were the Days

    February 22, 2016 at 12:12 pm

  2. AND . . . I could never understand why this equestrian statue of Roosevelt with an “Indian” and a “Negro” is permitted in this day of political correctness to grace the CPW entrance to the museum. A blatant allegory to white supremacy, no? And this exists, in of all places, the liberal Upper West Side of Manhattan! Check it out here:

    georgetheatheist . . . Those Were the Days

    February 22, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    • Or as Nietzsche might say an Übermensch protecting the Untermenschen?

      georgetheatheist . . . Those Were the Days

      February 22, 2016 at 1:10 pm

  3. This was my favorite place as a kid, too! I used to beg my dad to take me to see the bones and the stuffed animals. I have a vivid memory of the wolf diorama. A friend of mine went to the museum last year, and I asked her if it was still there, and she sent me a picture. Just like I remembered!

    Fiesta Cranberry

    February 22, 2016 at 3:44 pm

  4. A really sweet post, Mitch — thanks! It only now dawns on me (REALLY belatedly) how easily, and in how many quite different ways, the Natural History Museum can grab hold of a developing imagination. (Once, after a Broadway matinee for us young folk, a visiting cousin announced that he wanted to see the dinosaurs, and my aunt obligingly piled us all into a cab!)

    For me it was the Planetarium. Of course I’m thinking of the museum of my developing years. Later, I lived for well over 20 years just a couple of blocks from the place, and in all that time set foot in it at most once or twice. And I still haven’t been in the “new” Planetarium. (I realize I have to put quotation marks around “new.”) Every time I look at the admission fee and try to calculate how much consciousness-expanding I would have to get to break even, I can’t make it compute.

    I suppose that at the very least I ought to get my NYC ID!

    Cheers, Ken

    Kenneth Furie

    February 22, 2016 at 5:30 pm

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