The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for December 5th, 2019

hidden laboratory

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Don’t get snotty with me, pal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ChristmAstoria season has begun, I do declare. This was noticed this when my neighbor Tomas adorned his house, recently. Colloquially known as “Tom,” Tomas is remarkably detail oriented on the subject of home maintenance, and owns a personal power washer in pursuance of a gum and stains free sidewalk. In a neighborhood of slobs, Tom keeps his immediate vicinity neat and clean, and is quite timely when it comes to rolling out the holiday decorations. He is one of my seasonal bellwethers.

A pet peeve we share is the habit of spitting gobs of phlegm onto the sidewalk as practiced by the local youths. Another one of those “primate dominance display behaviors” which increasingly annoy me, there seems to be a societal fad underway which requires the late adolescence humans to expunge a mucosal charge onto the public way once about every four strides.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ptooie! I’ve never been able to get a clear answer out of the medical establishment about exactly what mucus is, other than it is produced by “goblet cells.” I’ve looked into it. Composition wise, snot is about 95% water. The remaining 5% is a variable brew of glycoproteins, proteoglycans, proteins, and DNA. The proteins are what make the stuff sticky, I’m told. Mucus is everywhere inside of the human infestation’s various avatars, and the specific to the respiratory tract stuff is called Phlegm (which, since I’m from Brooklyn, is pronounced literally as “Fleg gumm.” Everybody else says “flemm.”). Once you bark it out, it’s called “Sputum.”

This Phlegm material is conventionally “snot” and it acts as a filtering mechanism for the respiratory system. Contaminants like dust, pollen, and smoke particles get caught up in it, as do infectious biota. When you hawk a loogie out, it’s carrying these active bacterial and viral agents along with it. As the goober dries up on the pavement, these microbes and contaminants are then carried off into the the air column. That’s where the “spit every four steps” fad crosses over into a public health issue.

If you’re like me, as soon as the weather turns cold, the spigot starts running on the snot cannon in the middle of your face, and you’ve got a constantly runny nose. I’ve always got a pocket full of tissues with me, but many do not. These unprepared souls will often use a finger to close off one nostril and then exhale powerfully through the other, causing a rifle shot of sputum to rocket forth. It’s lovely.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such behaviors are why I try not to touch any public surfaces in NYC during the winter months. This year, in particular, I’ve instituted a new policy which has been hard to enforce as it disobeys several of those “primate display behaviors” mentioned above.

I’m avoiding hand shaking entirely, and when the greeting dance requires touching somebody, I’m trying to do it with a clothed part of my body – the elbow, for instance. Why anyone would wish to touch one such as myself is beyond me, frankly, but just the other night I was touched by multiple people in these greeting gestures and one of my friends actually snuck behind me and gave me a hug and kissed the side of my head for some reason.

Keep your epithelials to your self, bro.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Come on a tour!

With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 5, 2019 at 11:00 am

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