The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

sane harborage

with 2 comments


– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, one was wandering through Blissville. For one reason or another, a humble narrator decided it would be good to get a few shots of the enormous masonry wall offered by First Calvary cemetery for the amusement of passerby on Review Avenue.

My understanding of the function of this structure is that it acts as a retaining wall. Laurel Hill, the landform which Calvary was carved into starting in 1848, used to slope down towards Newtown Creek. Review Avenue is a “cut” and the engineers who worked for the Church probably had to worry about mudslides when laying out the place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The wall itself is enormous, and based on observation from within the cemetery and atop it, around ten feet thick at the top and an unknown width at bottom. It’s composed on concrete and boulders, and likely bottoms out several yards under the level of the street and sidewalk. The boulders are typical glacial till, likely harvested from native soils, and nothing special.

My intention when shooting this was in theoretical pursuance of doing a cutaway illustration of the wall and subterrene, which was going to be accompanied by a bit of narrative reminiscent of an HP Lovecraft short story called “The Statement of Randolph Carter” wherein the exploration of a mortuary complex’s underground chambers results in a typically horrifying conclusion for a Lovecraft tale. That’s my actual thought process leading up to actuating the camera shutter.

That’s when I spotted them.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When queried as to why I always have a camera with me, the answer is usually “if I don’t have this, then a ufo would land in the intersection and Bigfoot and Elvis would disembark from it.” Usually, a camera is your best defense against anything interesting happening within eyeshot.

These two defied that maxim, however, and they are to be applauded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They seemed to be a couple, these two, just picking their way along the rock wall.

So intent on their task were they that notice of the strange old fellow with a camera trained on them standing across the street and laughing hysterically didn’t seem to register. This genuinely amused me, and I like to believe that one of them said to the other that “the floor is lava.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

They never got more than five or six feet off the lava, I would mention.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As I’m often quoted as saying – you never know what you’re going to see at Calvary Cemetery. Even when the place has remained inexplicably closed to the public at exactly the moment when its acres of green space have been most needed, the people of LIC will make it their own.

Awesome sauce.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, September 14th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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

September 14, 2020 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Calvary is part of the elusive Archdiocese that closes schools with no explanation……………………………

    Judith BerdyPresident, Roosevelt Island Historical Societyrihs.us531 Main Street, #1704New York, NY  10044jbird134@aol.com212-688-4836917-744-3721


    September 14, 2020 at 11:17 am

  2. Clearly these young men are learning/practicing rock climbing. One kid even has on rock climbing shoes. If they lived up here in Maine they could easily find a real rock face outcrop to practice their skills. In Blissville, they got the wall at Calvary I. BTW, Mitch, my parents and step mother are buried in Calvary I; my stepmom just a few feet from the location of these images. If you look at the writing above the garage doors to your right, one says “Receiving.” That’s what I use as a landmark to find her grave every Christmas when I come down to visit. The graves are pretty well packed into this section of the cemetery and she is in third row from the outer wall. Say hello to Ma for me!


    September 14, 2020 at 12:57 pm

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