The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for May 2016

and madness

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Calvary Cemetery in Blissville, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happened across this extraordinary monument over in Calvary Cemetery the other day. Depicting a weeping angel holding a bouquet of flowers, the top name on the stone is “Anna Genovese.” A bit of research was conducted on the name and year (1932), which unfortunately coincides with the second marriage of gangland leader Vito Genovese to a woman named Anna. Vito and Anna are actually in St. John Cemetery here in Queens, so this monument wasn’t erected in memory of Mrs. G.

It is a pretty Angel statue, however, and far enough away from the Newtown Creek side of Calvary to have largely escaped the acidic effluents of the Phelps Dodge refinery. The south eastern side of the cemetery exhibits stones which have the appearance of melting ice cream due to this effect. Granite is largely unaffected, of course, but Marble and Limestone alike exhibit pitting and decayed surfaces.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One realizes that angels represent the beatific and divine to people, but the whole concept gives me the willies. Over the years, one has indulged in studying the belief systems and bestiaries of the major religions, and a particular study has been made of the lore surrounding the so called “sons of fire” commonly called “Angels” and “Demons.” The Angels are, after all, the demons of God. Like Demons, Angels have naught but contempt for the “sons of clay” known as Men.

As a note, according to the last Spider Man movie, the section of Calvary Cemetery pictured above is where you’ll find the grave of Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This odd arrangement of branches had nothing to do with Angels, I’m sure. Likely it’s a grounds keeper who recently watched the Blair Witch Project movie.

My take on Angels actually angers the religious folk out there. When asserting that the greatest and most loyal of the Angels is actually Lucifer – the original version of the “fall” story wasn’t the medieval Aquinas telling of a rebel prince denying his feudal master – instead it involved a divine command, offered to the assembled host of Angels in Eden, to “love” the Adamic pair and their offspring as if they were the creator deity itself. The Angel Lucifer questioned how he and his brothers could love any as much as they loved God itself, and it was the act of reason and doubt which damned both he and the fallen.

Some early versions of the tale see Lucifer as actually volunteering to play the role of adversary, as his God deserved a better enemy than the primeval “opposite” entity called Satan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Angels are meant to be asexual, incidentally, but usually referred to with male pronouns. Not Hermaphoditic at all, the race of Angels are instead meant to display qualities common to both human sexes, but are thought to be entirely “smooth” downstairs. Of course, the idea of a winged humanoid is likely an oversimplification for describing an extra dimensional race capable of evading the Newtonian laws of thermodynamics. In occult circles, the theory that all the human mind is capable of, as far as interpreting and visualizing the totality of the “sons of fire,” is the form of a winged medieval knight. Same thing with the God entity, which is so totally alien that all we are capable of seeing is a “burning bush.” It’s literally beyond human cognition, the supranatural.

I know, pretty deep stuff for a Tuesday. Tomorrow – something more concrete, steely, and material.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. -1:30 p.m. –
DUPBO: Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

tangible efforts

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From Bushwick Inlet, in Greenpoint.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Memorial Day, y’all. Never forget, never forgive.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. -1:30 p.m. –
DUPBO: Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 30, 2016 at 11:00 am

inner gallery

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Happy Memorial Day, y’all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator wishes all well, and chides some to remember the cost of those things held most dear.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Saturday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. -1:30 p.m. –
DUPBO: Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 27, 2016 at 11:15 am

and dauntless

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Things I’ve been lucky enough to see, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That Working Harbor Committee Students tour I mentioned the other day? One of the cool things I got to see while onboard was the FDNY’s Fireboat Three Forty Three doing some kind of exercise. There seemed to be a heck of a security presence, more so than usual, in Lower Manhattan and on the water last week.

They were probably performing security sweeps in preparation for Fleet Week, I imagine.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The thrilling moment when your train arrives, which signals that the moment when the ordeal of standing on the platform is over, and that the ordeal of riding the train is about to begin. For some reason, the Lexington Avenue tunnels seem to be lit theatrically, which always lends the appearance of the 4 or 5 into 59th Street a certain dramatic flair.

Hey, @MTA – maybe that’s the answer to all your problems – theatrical lighting!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure if the shot above has been presented before, but when you’re talking about lighting, Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights does not disappoint.

Sorry for the short post today, but I’ve got to go get my notes ready for tonight’s Working Harbor “Brooklyn Waterfront: Past and Present” boat tour.

Upcoming Events and Tours

TONIGHT – Thursday, May 26th at 6 p.m. –
Brooklyn Waterfront: Past & Present Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

Saturday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. -1:30 p.m. –
DUPBO: Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 26, 2016 at 11:30 am

be ready

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Green Acres, that’s the place for me?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I grew up in a place called Brooklyn. I lived there nearly half my life, followed by a decade in Manhattan, and the most recent portion has been in Queens. Occasionally, I’ve visited… Staten Island… and the Bronx. The only time I’ve ever spent outside the City were a) day trips to various Aunts and Uncles who lived in New Jersey, Maryland, or Long Island when I was a kid, b) business trips around the Eastern Seaboard back when I was drawing comics, c) or on vacations with Our Lady of the Pentacle. When the news of the day reaches me, my first question always revolves around “how does this affect me?” This selfish interpretation of events makes me an archetypal New Yorker.

All told, I’ve probably spent all but an aggregate of maybe 3-4 months of my entire existence (nearly five decades now) outside of the Megalopolis. I always say that if I moved away, it would be ceding victory to the City that it had finally beaten the tar out of me.

I guess that makes me a “City Boy.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I’ve considered it a privilege to live my life at the very navel – the omphalos, if you will – of the American Civilization, but when I mention the fact that my experience in life is fairly well limited to the Megalopolis – a lot of people I mention this to get a sad or pitiful look in their eyes. My environmentalist buddies, in particular, will offer to take me camping or something with them so I can experience the wonders of untamed nature.

Blecchhh.

I went camping once, just once. I ended up sleeping in the car as it had doors which locked, it was dry, and there were cushioned seats. A day trip to the woods sounds like fun, but with a sunburn and mosquito bites, and the “Brooklyn” wiseass in me offers that I have an apartment with a bed in it. Like I said – City Boy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve often reminded people that the ocean is a giant stomach desperate to digest you, that woodlands are full of ticks and bears and other critters which are specifically designed to overpower and consume you, that there’s a reason our ancestors paved over everything, and that the entire history of mankind – up until the 1970’s – was about not just taming nature but utterly subjugating it. Look at the shot above for confirmation of this fact, which is the epitome of what was once called “Progress.”

Now, I’m not saying that my antipathy towards clouds of biting insects and giant Pleistocene era predators is normal, nor necessarily desirable, nor something you should make a part of yourself. If you enjoy this sort of activity – Mazel Tov. I like hanging out in Astoria and nursing a pint at my local. What I’m trying to get to is this:

The littoral environment hereabouts is somehow recovering from the centuries long hammer blows of open sewage, ocean dumping of garbage, and industrial effluent which it was been hit with. The continued existence of our own species is directly tied to this recovery, IMHO, which is why this City Boy has found himself constantly talking about environmental issues. If we can’t control and promote environmental health in the built environment of NYC, where a switch or lever can be thrown to control nearly everything you can think of – where else can you figure out how to fix the future?

NYC has always led the Nation, it’s the bow of the American ship. We need to find out, together, how to be a mega city for plants and animals and humans and commerce and be the global example on the subject of clean water in an urban environment. The City boy has spoken.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Thursday, May 26th at 6 p.m. –
Brooklyn Waterfront: Past & Present Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

Saturday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. -1:30 p.m. –
DUPBO: Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 25, 2016 at 12:00 pm

distance south

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Some tugboat action, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Working Harbor Committee, which I’m both a Steering Committee member and the Official Photographer of, is all about education. Our motto and mission is to “educate the public about the Harbor of New York and New Jersey” after all. To this end, there’s a bunch of public tours – I’ll likely be conducting the Newtown Creek boat tour in the fall, and on Thursday of this week will be part of a trio of narrators on the “Brooklyn Waterfront: Past and Present” excursion. Last week, our education director, Meg Black, invited me along for one of the student tours which WHC produces.

There’s a gaggle of high school kids and their teachers onboard for these student tours, and the speakers WHC brought onboard were “Harbor Heavyweights” from the NYC EDC, Martime Association, Port Authority, and the like.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The goal behind these student excursions is to provide a concrete experience that backs up the kids’s classroom work, and to encourage them to consider a career in the maritime world. For a lot of inner city kids, they aren’t even aware that the Harbor is out there waiting to hire them. There’s hundreds of individual career paths that you can choose from in the maritime world – everything from Homeland Security to working on ships. The great news about these waterfront jobs is that wherever there’s a Port, which is just about everywhere that you’d want to go, you’ve got a skill set which is highly transportable.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular tour left from Pier 11 in Manhattan about a NY Waterways Ferry. We headed over to the busy Kill Van Kull waterway separating Staten Island’s North Shore from Bayonne’s Chemical Coast and then visited Port Elizabeth Newark and the Global Marine Terminal in Newark Bay, after passing under the Bayonne Bridge. There was a parade of working vessels, some of which are pictured in today’s post.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Thursday, May 26th at 6 p.m. –
Brooklyn Waterfront: Past & Present Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

Saturday, June 4, 11:00 a.m. -1:30 p.m. –
DUPBO: Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp,
with Brooklyn Brainery. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

along with

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I like a good door, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One could bore you endlessly with the metaphorical and philosophical significance of doors. They keep you in, or keep you out, in their simplest function. A lot of the doors in today’s post are simply gone, such as the one pictured above which used to found in Queens Plaza along Jackson Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hunterspoint Steel literally left their building in Queens well more than a decade ago, but their portal and signage nevertheless remained. Found just east of the Dutch Kills Tributary of Newtown Creek and Hunters Point Avenue Bridge, the old factory building has become home to a plumbing supply company in recent years – but their sign typography is nowhere near as cool as Hunterspoint Steel’s was. They also replaced the old yellow door with some modern piece of “store bought.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Brooklyn, at the Greenpoint Terminal Market, this second story number once connected with another building. That building burned away in the largest fire since 911, which – luckily enough – made lots of room available for the development of luxury condos on its lot.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In lower Manhattan’s Alphabet City, there’s a church which celebrates the Hispanic Mozarabic Rite of the Western Orthodox Catholic tradition. No, really. I did a whole post on this church back in August of 2012.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over on… Staten Island… there’s a bar on Richmond Terrace where you’ll find the front door always open, and within there’s a phone booth. If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s where Madonna called Danny Aiello from in the “Papa don’t preach” music video back in the 1980’s.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Queens, over in Ridgewood, there’s a pretty ancient set of doors you can walk through at the Onderdonk House. If you’re tall, you might want to duck down a bit while walking through, as our colonial ancestors didn’t necessarily possess the same stature which we assign to them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In Queens’s Woodside, along Broadway, there’s a church which is fairly well vouchsafed against Vampires. Of course, Woodside doesn’t have too much of an infestation – nosferatu wise. For a good chance of encountering Vampires, you’d want to go to Red Hook (under the Gowanus Expressway is a good bet). As a note, Vampires avoid this particular corner anyway, as there’s a Sikh temple on the opposite corner.

You don’t screw around with the Sikhs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There aren’t that many burial grounds in Lower Manhattan, but you can bet that when you do find one it will be vouchsafed by stout iron doors. Whether it’s to keep the Wall Street types from robbing the graves, or to keep the dead from exacting vengeance upon the living – who cares, it’s Manhattan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hidden doors are my favorites, of course. In Brooklyn’s Greenwood Cemetery, there’s hundreds of hidden doors designed to both protect and control the tomb legions.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My favorite doors are actually the elaborate bronze portal covers you’ll find adorning the Mausolea at one of the four Calvary Cemeteries here in Western Queens. Just look at that example above. Woof.

Upcoming Events and Tours

Thursday, May 26th at 6 p.m. –

Brooklyn Waterfront: Past & Present Boat Tour,
with Working Harbor Committee. Click here for more details.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 23, 2016 at 11:00 am

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