The Newtown Pentacle

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certain theories

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Central planning likes homogeneity, which is why they hate Queens. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There really is no place like the Borough of Queens, and in particular the western half of it, for encountering sudden visual serendipity. You’ll notice the Triborough Bridge peeking out from a driveway between two semi detached houses in Astoria, a commanding view of the Manhattan skyline from a toilet’s window on Jackson Avenue in LIC, or a railroad train running through someone’s back yard at a BBQ in Woodside. Maspeth’s elevation offers grandiose views of the entire “soup bowl” surrounding the East River and Manhattan, as does Calvary Cemetery in Blissville, and I can tell you – Landing Lights Park in East Elmhurst is an exceptionally interesting place to bring a camera if you’re an aviation enthusiast. 

It’s the patchwork nature of Queens that makes it a special place. Up until a little over a hundred years ago, all the “111” zip codes of modernity were part of an independent Long Island City, Woodside was a seperate town, and so too was Winfield distinct. That’s why you sometimes feel like you’ve crossed from one distinct “zone” into another in Queens, and why we all use our individual community names instead of “Queens” on return address postal labels. Disturbingly heterogenous is the way I’d describe the alignment of street grids, abundance of dead ends, and the chaotic building stock in Queens. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Queens is still the way all of NYC used to be. Organic and quixotic, quite filthy in certain places, and there are entire blocks you’d be better off walking around than down. There’s too much traffic and not enough transit. It’s a Tower of Babel, with dozens of languages being casually overheard as you saunter along. There’s houses of worship to nearly every god you can imagine (haven’t been able to find a temple to Svarožič, the proto Slavic fire God yet, but give me time… it’ll probably be just north east of Elmhurst somewhere). There’s no form of food you cannot seek and find, product you can’t acquire, nor trouble you cannot get into hereabouts. I know a place in Jackson Heights that will custom tailor a gold thread embroidered Hindu wedding suit that comes with curly toe boots, for instance. The one governing rule in Queens is a complete lack of cross compatible unformity from one side of the street to another, and that there really aren’t any sort of rules. You do what you want or can do, until somebody from the City shows up and hands you either a ticket or a cease and desist order. 

It drives the urban planning crowd insane, Queens does. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The City Planning types like order, geometric precision, and clarity of purpose. They also like ordering things to be done to Queens in the hope of “fixing” it and making it palatable to Manhattan centric sensibilities, something that started with Robert Moses digging trenches through Astoria so that his arterial highway system could feed traffic to his Triborough Bridge. You don’t get a street with a “Utopia Parkway” cognomen if urban planners aren’t involved. 

These folks like “plazas” and theorize about “desire lines” while worrying about density restrictions and guide lines. They spend their working life at the exact intersection where politics and big money real estate crash together, and see some of their best laid plans laid to waste when a concession from a Real Estate Developer is paid to the exigent needs of the Politician who needs to ensure that “the International Brotherhood of Screw Turners Local 6” gets 15 on site positions for the duration of the project. They look and listen as the local community folks yell and scream about gentrification, displacement, and rising rents with calloused eyes. The same sort of eyes that a stripper looks at all males with, since they’ve seen only the toxic excesses and behavioral extremes of the gender. Urban planners, accordingly, have developed a thick skin to the voices of the “locals.” They call us “NIMBY’s” or some other derogatory term.

Thing is, out of chaos comes order, not the other way around. Chaos is life, and entropy is vibrant. Order is staid, banal, maddening. If you allow the urban planning crowd the chance, all of Queens will be covered in campuses visually reminiscent of NYCHA housing. Manhattan is not the model to follow for the “solution to Queens,” rather it’s the problem. I’d rather live in a forest than an orchard, personally.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

September 14, 2018 at 11:30 am

4 Responses

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  1. ” Urban planners, accordingly, have developed a thick skin to the voices of the “locals.” They call us “NIMBY’s” or some other derogatory term.

    Garet Garrett wrote about the change in relationship between the citizen and government in his book The Revolution that Was. As has been said regarding the recent Facebook imbroglio can be applied here too: If you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product or if you cry to the nanny state to protect you from all dangers, take the gubbermint entitlements and freestuff, you are bought and paid for, in a word, slave.
    And who listens to their bought and paid for slaves?

    It’s all in the power relationship.
    What the normies who protest gentrification, rising rents, etc, don’t understand is that by playing according to the State’s rules (which the apparatchicks and politicos don’t play by themselves), don’t protest the policy itself calling for it to be completely scrapped and the apparatchicks fired/politicos voted out, their relationship is that of a pathetic supplicant begging their betters for a favor.

    Of course the bureaucrat will sneer at the lowly proles as he rejects their pitiful, begging, pleas. They are acknowledged by the normie proles themselves as their masters and are playing the master’s game like rats in a maze.
    So let the unwashed NIMBY scum wail and rattle their chains in vain!

    Don’t like the policies we impose on your dumb asses? Yeah, cry me a river, bitch, so whaddya gonna do about it?

    I can explain this to you and the normies in every conceivable way but you will either not believe it or are incapable of understanding it. As a fool and his money are soon parted, stupid people will soon volunteer to become slaves and never realize it.

    So whaddya gonna do ’bout it? ….Nuttin!

    Maybe you all like it this way?

    Don Cavaioli

    Cav

    September 14, 2018 at 6:00 pm

  2. Well said, Mitch. Too much chaos is an anathema to life, but too little the same. Queens still has, in pockets, the pernicious freedom the City-centric bureaucrats would love to see stamped out and concreted over.

    Tommy Efreeti

    September 20, 2018 at 1:22 pm

  3. Well put Mitch. Too much Chaos is less an anathema to life than too little, and the City-centric bureaucrats would love to see our borough’s patchwork vibrancy put to rigid 90 angles, built up, and properly concreted over.

    Tommy Efreeti

    September 20, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    • Our managerial rulers do not want to eliminate the unassimilable multiculti disaster in the offing that you are pleased to euphemistically call “our borough’s patchwork diversity” which is both histrionic and ahistorical.

      The building rampage which has been going on in this borough since the early 1980’s is about our parasitical political/bureaucratic class need for money from real estate investors and gentrification without which we would be well on our way to becoming Detroit II rather than the toilet that is San Francisco.

      Are you familiar with the terms “anarcho-tyranny”, “managerial state” or the concept of divide and conquer by any chance? I recommend you read Garet Garrett’s The Revolution Was here. They are most germane to the current situation.

      Don Cavaioli

      Cav

      September 20, 2018 at 7:51 pm


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