The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for August 2018

sallies abroad

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No matter where you go, there you are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spends a great deal of his time gazing in wonder and astonishment at the City of Greater New York, and no place moreso than Astoria here in the Borough of Queens. When I mention Astoria to people who live in other boroughs, they immediately go to the “Greek” thing, but whereas we still have a substantial Hellenic population hereabouts it ain’t the 1970’s no more. In my observation, there really isn’t a single dominant group in Astoria anymore, unless you start lumping folks together into “racial” groupings like “Latino” or “Black” or “Asian” or “European.” It’s a fairly unsophisticated way to look at people, in my opinion, using this sort of categorizing. One such as myself prefers to see people as individuals rather than as part of a cultural or socioeconomic super group, but I am famously not enamored with identity politics.

I guess it’s human nature to try and stick strangers into a tribal box, and define them by where they’re from. For the identity politics crowd, this means that they’re constantly surprised when assumptions about some stranger’s politics or lifestyle don’t turn out to be true. Identity politics are ultimately “nationalism” when you get down to it, just on a different side of the aisle from what you’d normally associate with the term. I find it dehumanizing when somebody categorizes me as “Jewish” or “a Yank,” and try not to do it myself. As I tell people constantly, it’s “way down the list” when I’m describing someone whom they like to noodle with or where their family is from.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Breaking into ever smaller groups seems to be the fashion at the moment, however, and folks do it to themselves. This sort  of fragmentation works beautifully for the political establishment, and allows them to target either the “one legged transgender Peruvians” or “three eyed second generation Lebanese home owners” vote during election season. Are you a white small business owner who fears clear blue skies since you have been selling umbrellas since 1987 on Steinway Street? A woman of color who receives too much mail? A non binary gender neutral hog butcher disturbed about the new LED street lamps? Like riding bikes? How about a shepherd in traditionally male dominated field who has become separated from one of your charges?

Don’t worry Little Bo Peep, I’ve proposed legislation in the Assembly to place a non GMO fed and cruelty free chicken specifically in your pot. Me, I’m a “big tent” kind of guy. What have we got in common, and why is it so hard to resist it when a politician insists on using our divisions to distract and work us?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bah. Old man shakes fist at cloud, right? 

Kids these days.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

terror withheld

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PSA: August 23 is the “Night of the Living Dead.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On 45th street, here in Astoria, a water main replacement project has been playing out. That’s the Tully company at work above, contractors for the NYC DEP, doing the work of trenching and replacing old pipe. There’s been a LOT of roadwork and utility construction work happening in the neighborhood for the last couple of years – replacing gas mains leading to either LaGuardia Airport or Astoria Energy on the forbidden northern shore, Vision Zero oriented work on street corners along 31st street, sewer line repairs along several of the avenues.

It’s never quiet for long around these parts, I tell’s ya.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s been an unusual amount of Police activity as well, here in the 114 pct. Just a couple of weeks ago, the neighborhood along Broadway in the 40’s and 30’s was all abuzz about the Machete Man Bandit, for instance. There there was the Peeping Tomás near by 36th street, and that crazy murder suicide near Hallets Cove which was all over the news.

Even Los Burrachos, the railroad bums that gather nearby the paint shop on 42nd street, have been startled by the sudden appearance of dozens of new homeless inebriates – whom even they look down on. Many have been given nicknames like “Shit his Pants, and American Flag shirt, guy” (which distinguishes this particular fellow from “shit his pants guy”) or “Krustie McGee” and “Surprisingly fat for a homeless guy Guy.” We’ve also suddenly amassed a group of retirement age junkies who have decided to base themselves around the Broadway Branch of the Queens Library and are charismatic but ultimately tragic characters.

Before you ask, these folks are generally what the pros would call “services resistant,” and I reached out to Jimmy Van Bramer about them, and the councilman sent out a DHS counseling crew whom they pretty much ignored. They’re not homeless because of a run of bad luck. Drunks, junkies, bums, street urchins – this is their life and they’re the ones living it, not you. Best you can do by them is to call 911 when you find them passed out on the sidewalk, so they can go sleep it off in a supervised bed, get a shower, and eat a meal on the City at Elmhurst Hospital.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Omnipresent is the thing in the sapphire megalith of Long Island City, gazing down upon the world of men through its unblinking and three lobed burning eye. This thing, which cannot possibly exist, covets. Through its global armies of often unsuspecting acolytes, this thing which does not nor cannot breathe or feel gnaws into the flesh of the world and feeds passively. From the cupola of that sapphire dagger, dug deeply into the heart of Queens, the thing watches men and their folly. It enjoys itself, and plans to someday reveal to mankind new ways for us to revel, and feed, and enjoy ourselves in its manner. 

That last paragraph was just for me, as a note. It’s my birthday, and I’ll cry if I want to.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

very haggard

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I miss the old days when “troll” meant you hung out under bridges.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My Monday meander meant saw this wandering mendicant patrolling about half of the East River coastline of Queens this week, and since I had packed my “full kit,” setting up the tripod and all the frammistats and whatsits a few times. That’s future Superfund site Anable Basin in the shot above, which has served as the delineation point and northern border for the hyperdrive real estate development zone of the LIC waterfront for a couple of decades now. That’s about to change.

I’ve got maps of what this zone used to host about a hundred years ago, and I can tell you that there’s a lot of poison in the mud hereabouts which is just itching to leach out and find its way into living organisms. I don’t know if petroleum byproducts could accurately be described as “desirous to join with your liver” but Anable Basin is a good place to find out, so the powers that be are planning to surround it with residential towers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

DURIBO? Down Under the Roosevelt Island Bridge Onramp… can we just start calling this section of Ravenswood that?

The powers at that be in Manhattan (and their anxious lapdogs in elected office in Queens) have designated Ravenswood, which is the most “Gotham City” of all the place names in the borough of Queens, as being part of a “tech corridor” which will reinvigorate the area from a sleepy industrial zone defined by two massive housing projects with the highest rates of childhood asthma in the United States into a Silicon Valley style eutopia of bicycle commuting technocrats. “Central Planning” has decreed that there will be street level retail, and tower apartments, and that the “Big Allis” power plant will not be noticed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Waterfront post industrial property is ultra valuable, you see. There’s lots of examples in Brooklyn and here in LIC where endemic environmental concerns have been quietly covered over, remediated, or just ignored. Stick a park on top of the land that’s too expensive to fully clean up, let it be an amenity or “draw” for real estate development sited on spots that you get the State to pony up the money to clean through one of the “brownfield” programs located a few hundred feet back, and “Central Planning” has created another success story.

What do they care if somebody gets sick down the road, as they’ll have moved on to private consultancies and maybe even a good paying job in Singapore by then. The job with “Central Planning” is just another click on their resumes, a notch on their career oriented belts.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm

night watchman

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Smooth, original flavors, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always had a tendency to ignore the diurnal nature of the human specie, preferring instead to exist in the darkness when the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself is occluded by the planetary body. Accordingly, when a humble narrator was in his early years, it was not uncommon to find myself employed during overnight shifts at Manhattan’s corporate salt mines. Other than putting a dent in an otherwise nonexistent social life, this particular style of life afforded one rare sights and uncommon experiences. It played to a certain sense of self, wherein one was out of sync with the rest of the world, wanting to eat dinner whilst the menu offered only breakfast fare. The weekends were difficult, as a note, since I was waking up on “Saturday morning” at about seven p.m.

If you want to experience hypnogogic hallucinations regularly, the night shift is the best way to get there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s late night, as in one or two in the morning, and then there’s the “hour of the wolf” as its called by European peasantry. The latter are the fuligin depths experienced between three a.m. and the rising of the burning thermonuclear eye in the eastern skies. That’s when the animals of the Shining City have regency over the streets. One of my overnight jobs, which was an astounding number of decades ago, saw a humble narrator working in the complex of “international style” office buildings at Rockefeller Center adjoining that hive of villainy and perversion called Times Square.

Something I can tell you is that Rockefeller Center sits upon a connected complex, and that beneath the banal glass frontages of the office buildings is a subterrene series of basements, tunnels, and facilities that maintain the physical plant of the offices above. Many times I had occasion to enter this underground complex, as the company I labored for on the overnight shift maintained a small print shop down there which I’d periodically have to deliver and pick up work from. They have golf carts with flashy siren lights on them down below, and a small army of maintenance workers. I never saw a map, but this series of interconnected basements and underground floors has to cover at least five to six square city blocks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been inside the Manhattan Bridge, officially. Never have I entered the vaults of the Brooklyn Bridge, nor the towers of Queensborough. “As above, so below” is something an occult scholar will tell you, and one of my obsessive desires is to gain nocturnal entrance to the dripping network of maintenance tunnels and underground caverns maintained by the City someday. How far down have we tunneled and chipped away? It’s always night underground, so I should fit right in.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be hidden down there?


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 21, 2018 at 11:30 am

despair’s profundity

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Just another day in paradise, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

At the height of last week’s “hot” one found himself at Hallets Cove here in Astoria, killing some time with the camera whilst waiting for the NYC Ferry to arrive. Unfortunately, the long exposure shots from Hallets Cove didn’t turn out well, as in the midst of calculating exposure times and compositional angles, a humble narrator omitting calculating the effect of setting up a tripod on sand. It was my firm belief that that the tripod legs were spread out far enough to create a stable enough platform for the camera, but alas, like sand through the hourglass (or within five feet of the tide line) so are the days of my life – shifting, insubstantial, and without foundation. The long exposure above and below were actually gathered at Socrates Sculpture Garden where a more solid firmament is found.

Accordingly, I spent the entire weekend beating myself up over coming home from Hallets Cove with a bunch of motion blurred shots which would have otherwise been quite fetching.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As is always the case this time of the year, one is more introspective and self critical than is usual, which is usually “very.” I still retain vague recollections of the impending doom felt during childhood for the “back to school” part of the late summer, an atavist memory which always colors my mood. It’s also a particularly depressing week for me personally, since I have a birthday coming up and my birthdays never seem to go well. There’s been like fifty of them so far, and maybe five haven’t resulted in some sort of traumatic experience. Our Lady of the Pentacle and my coterie of friends try their hardest, but I’m just jinxed when it comes to birthdays.

Speaking of, today is H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Check out the link (below) to a boat tour I’m going to be conducting on the 30th of August, after all this birthday business has passed. It’s underwritten by a grant that my pals at Waterfront Alliance and Working Harbor Committee managed to get that commemorates the bicentennial of the opening of the Erie Canal. Only five smackers for this one, and we’re going to be onboard a NY Water Taxi leaving from Red Hook. First, we’re heading north along the East River as far as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, then reversing and going south towards Erie Basin and Industry City in South Brooklyn and eventually returning to Red Hook. 

I’ll be on the mike for this one, and I’m planning on regaling the folks onboard with maritime history. It should be a fairly vulgar display of my rhetorical prowess. Also, it’s only $5, so if I’m as disappointing in real life as many tell me you don’t have much to lose.


Tours and Events


Canal to Coast: Reuniting the Waters Boat Tour. Only $5!
Thurs, August 30, 2018, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM with Waterfront Alliance

Learn about the origins of Brooklyn’s Erie Basin as the Erie Canal’s ultimate destination, and its current role as a vital resource for maritime industry on this guided tour of Red Hook’s Erie Basin and the Brooklyn working waterfront, departing from and returning to New York Water Taxi’s Red Hook Dock. Tickets here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 20, 2018 at 11:15 am

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