The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for September 18th, 2017

enough rumors

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It’s National Cheeseburger Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My habit, when conducting a walking tour on any given Saturday or Sunday, is to rewalk the route a couple of days in advance of the actual event. The reason for this is twofold – first to scout any new or emergent obstacles along the path, second to reacquaint myself with all the little details. In the case of First Calvary Cemetery, which I conducted a tour of just last week, it’s about getting all the sight lines lined up. Everybody who comes to Calvary with me on one of these walks always comments about how I “find the needles in the haystack” so easily. Short answer is that I do, in fact, know the place like the back of my hand. Long answer is that I was just there a day or two ago and walked out the route to ensure that I don’t end up looking like a dope searching for the grave of Esther Ennis (the very first interment, which is marked by a tiny foot stone) in front of a group of people.

Accordingly, a couple of days before the tour, I trekked over to Blissville from Astoria to take a walk amongst the tomb legions. As always, the camera was dangling at my side.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a 24/7 line up of traffic on Greenpoint Avenue where drivers wait at a traffic light to enter the onramp for the Long Island Expressway, and of late two enterprising fellows have been working the lineup. The gentleman on the left is selling bottles of water and other consumable items to the passing motorists, whilst the fellow in the middle of the street is holding up a cardboard sign proclaiming his destitution and adjuring them to donate charitable contributions to help him weather an existential crisis.

There’s some kind of parable at work in the comparison between their two approaches at survival. Boot straps versus appealing to guilty compassion, that sort of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whatever approach any of us have evolved at survival, however, is ultimately pointless and doomed to failure.

All roads lead to Calvary, as they used to say back in Manhattan’s Five Points during the 19th century “Gangs of New York” era. If you think about it, that’s kind of a relief. Whenever my pal Mattie the Vampire back here in Astoria discusses Constantinople, he gets a sad look in his watery yellow eyes, and I get the sense that immortality – or at least Mattie’s version of it – ain’t all that it’s cracked up to be.


Upcoming Tours and events

The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour,
with Atlas Obscura – Saturday, September 23rd, 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Join us on the wrong side of the tracks for an exploration of the hidden industrial heartlands of Brooklyn and Queens, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Saturday, October 7th, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

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