The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for January 8th, 2019

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Adolescent and Ghostly predation, it affects us all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Terrified by the sudden appearance of a group of teenagers, spotted while out for a recent nocturnal walk, a humble narrator embarked on a panic fueled scuttle across Long Island City seeking safe shelter from their probably malign notice. Convincing myself that they were indeed material and living creatures, rather than ghosts, my footsteps carried me into the upland industrial zone which separates the Degnon Terminal area surrounding the Dutch Kills tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek from residential Sunnyside and the lanes of shadow haunted Blissville. I pressed myself up against a factory window seeking help or shelter from the nearby adolescents, but like the key master

Really, you people have no idea how much fun it would be if you could listen to my inner dialogue. The voice(s) in my head are a freaking riot, one of them even sounds just like jackie mason doing the aardvark voice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

According to the historic record, there used to be quite a wolf problem around these parts. So much so that the Dutch, and later English, authorities over in Manhattan offered a bounty for wolf pelts right up until the Revolutionary War. The folks who settled into the parcels around these parts were farmers, mostly, and were happy to reduce the population of predators roaming around what we call Long Island City. Why all the wolves? Lots of deer. Why all the deer? Deciduous forest land punctuated by grassy marshes, creeks, and swamps. Know what else there was a lot of? Bears.

So, is Long Island City teeming with the specters of deer, wolves, and bears (as well as ghost teenagers)? Oh my.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve done a lot of targetted research looking for witch panics in the colonial era of Long Island City and Maspeth. There’s a couple of interesting stories, but nothing too crazy. It seems that the farmers of Newtown were a fairly laconic bunch who didn’t go in for a lot of hysterical jumping about and ecstatic garment tearing – unlike the folks who settled in New England. Generally, I try to avoid targetted research about social trends like witch panics since you end up finding only what you want to find. As an example, I’m famously not a fan of the current Mayor of NYC, so anything I read about him or any the policies he enacts are automatically interpreted negatively. I’m not the guy who should write his biography, as I’d paint the seven year old De Blasio as a scheming and disingenuous first grader with ridiculous ambitions.

It’s an entirely unscientific approach, history wise, when you go hunting for something you want to find, as a note. You can approach the record from a number of different “forensic” points of view, (economic, social, technological etc.) but you’re not supposed to say “I’m looking for” and then comb through the old books looking for what you want to find or to prove some political point about the modern world you’re trying to make. Directed research introduces a confirmation bias and you end up cherry picking the facts to prove your postulate, ignoring those which disprove it, in the same manner that a Prosecutor builds a case against the accused in court. Historical events can be interpreted through the various filters mentioned above, but what happened is what happened. This is something I learned while writing about Newtown Creek here at your Newtown Pentacle.

Ghosts, wolf ghosts, ghost teenagers, bears, witches.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 8, 2019 at 2:35 pm

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