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Calvary Cemetery Section

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I’ve done so many posts on the place that I thought a catch-all page was in order- This will live in the menus to the right of the screen, and will be added to as more posts on the place are added.

Walking Widdershins to Calvary

g10_img_6737_phwlk.jpg by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Click here to preview this photowalk in a google map

Hunters Point avenue intersects with the ancient course of Greenpoint Avenue at the degenerate extant of Long Island City. The Queens Midtown Expressway also comes back down to earth here, feeding Manhattan vehicular traffic to all points east. This is a very busy intersection, so be mindful of traffic, as fellow pedestrians are rare.

As with anyplace else in Queens you’d want to see, Forgotten-NY has been through here before. Click here for their page on Blissville and Laurel Hill.

Up and Through Calvary

Cavalry Cemetery by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Addled as we are by the manipulations of the political class during the 20th century, with its “ism’s” and “movements“, Newtownicans have lost sight of the fact that the Newtown Creek was the center of the world for those who dwelt here in the 19th century. Before the American Civil War, the banks of the Newtown Creek were lined with homes built to the highest aesthetic standard, and peppered with grand hotels which catered to the sportsman and recreational fisherman. It was into this pastoral wildrness that the Calvary Cemetery was embedded in 1848, and which it sought to blend into with its fine arboreal stock and tasteful mastery of the art of landscaping.

It seems odd to us- sitting in our comfortable climate controlled and fully electrified homes and offices, to put a cemetery like this- with its ornate stonework and elaborate masonry, so close to the polluted industrial zones of the nearby Newtown Creek. Calvary spreads atavistically across a deserted and blasted landscape in our 21st century, surrounded by the trampled nest and discarded remnants of the industrial revolution.

Calvary Mystery Box

g10_img_6870_phwlk.jpg by you.

Calvary Cemetery at 48th street – photo by Mitch Waxman

As one proceeds up the glacier carved hillocks that define northwestern Queens- climbing away from the terrors of Laurel Hill and leaving the malefic secrets of Maspeth and the Newtown Creek behind, the intrepid pedestrian will pass under and above an arcade of highways and find second Calvary.

Old Calvary is the original cemetery- second, third, and fourth Calvary are the metastasized and sprawling additions to the venerable original- and a significant portion of the Cemetery Belt.

Calvary Cemetery Walk

Old Calvary looking toward Newtown Creek by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Just across the street from the site of the former LIRR Penny Bridge station. Easily accessed via the street, upon crossing the gates of Calvary, one will find a staircase carven into the hill by whose ascent the Newtown acropolis may be obtained. Cresting over the surrounding neighborhoods, and soaring over the Newtown Creek’s former wetlandsCalvary Cemetery keeps its secrets buried in centuried silence. Looking south toward Brooklyn, the Kosciuszko bridge approach of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway looms over its passage, carrying millions of vehicles over and across the necropolis of New York City.

Tales of Calvary 1 – The O’Briens

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hallowmas, or All Saints Day, is coincident with the running of the NYC Marathon’s tumult laden course. The secular spectacular merely whets the appetite of your humble narrator for the open skies and sacred vantages found along those unhallowed backwaters of an urban catastrophe called the Newtown Creek.Calvary Cemetery– dripping in centuried glory- sits incongruously in an industrial moonscape stained with aqueer and iridescent colour. It’s marble obelisks and acid rain etched markers landmark it as a necropolis of some forgotten civilization.

Today, I determined to ignore the psychic effects of the graveyard, which are both palpable and remarkable. Resolving to climb to the highest point on this Hill of Laurels, my aim was to discover whose grave would occupy such a socially prominent spot. Secretly, I hoped to discover some celebrity or famous mobster’s resting place. Instead I found the O’Brien’s.

Tales of Calvary 2 – Veterans Day

-photo by Mitch Waxman

21 Roman Catholic Union soldiers are interred amongst the 365 acres of first Calvary Cemetery in Queens, nearby the cuprous waters of the much maligned Newtown Creek.

The wars of the 20th century, terrible in scope and vulgar in effect, cause us to overlook these men whovouchsafed the American Republic in the 19th century as we focus in on the veterans of the second thirty years war which modernity myopically calls World Wars One and Two. Woodrow Wilson proclaimed a federal holiday called Armistice Day in 1919, celebrating the anniversary of the legal end of the first World War in 1918. Congress agreed, seven years later, and then took six years to pass an act which made Armistice day an official United States federal holiday celebrated on November 11 annually.

Ed Rees, a populist Representative from the state of Kansas during the post World War 2 era, spearheaded a successful campaign in 1953 to have “Armistice Day” reclassified as “All Veterans Day” so as to include the veterans of WW2, and the ongoing conflicts fought by our “permanent government” on the world stage.

Tales of Calvary 3 – Rumors and stories

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Swirling, my thoughts.

A vast and byzantine pattern which extends beyond even the coming of the Europeans into the mist of olden days, traced by rail and road, reveals itself step by step as the burning eye of god itself leads me to and fro across the glass strewn Newtown Pentacle.

Bits of information, nuggets of pregnant fact, theosophical themes and mystic iconography obfuscating itstruths and meaning, a maelstrom of barking black dogs crowds my mind. Cowardly and infirm, I run to the grave.

Solace is found amongst the tomb legions, and the nepenthe of their silence.

Tales of Calvary 4 – Triskadekaphobic Paranoia

Cavalry Cemetery, a morbid nutrition 04 by you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Near the crest of one of Calvary Cemetery’s hills, can be found what I’ve described in previous posts as “a tree that is fed by some morbid nutrition”.

A convenient afternoon vantage point for photographing the Johnston mausoleum and a frequent destination, a Hallowmas (nov. 1) stroll through Calvary revealed some interesting goings on beneath the swollen boughs of this loathsome landmark.

Tales of Calvary 5 – Shade and Stillness

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the past, the desolating loneliness and isolation which define my internal dialogue have been described to you simply – I’m all ‘effed up.

Shunned by those considered normal, my human– all too human- nature forces visceral desires for companionship. Lacking fellowship amongst the the living, one instinctively reaches out for those things which are no longer- or have never been- alive. That odd man in the filthy black raincoat that you might glimpse as you drive past the graveyard, scuttling along taking pictures of sewers and odd boxes in the Cemetery Belt- might very well be your humble narrator.

I was at Calvary Cemetery, intent on investigating the puzzling knots I had observed, beneath a hilltop tree- fed by some morbid nutrition, when I came across the Sweeney monument.

Tales of Calvary 6 – The Empire State Building and the Newsboy Governor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looming, in this place, is the megapolis. Here lies Tammany, gazing eternally upon their work. The city. The great city.

The greatest and last of their projects is promontory above the shield wall of Manhattan, a familiar vista of Calvary Cemetery offered as an iconic representation by most.

The tower called the Empire State building was built, almost as an act of pure will, by a former newsboy from South Street.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 19, 2009 at 3:35 pm

Calvary Cemetery walk

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feel like taking  a walk? I’ll show you something cool… Bring your camera- and ID

Here’s a google map.

For a larger contextual view of Calvary Cemetery- check out our previous posts- 

The Cemetery Belt

Walking Widdershins to Calvary

This post also intersects with 

Dead Ends, A short walk from Maspeth to Calvary

Old Calvary looking toward Newtown Creek by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Just across the street from the site of the former LIRR Penny Bridge station. Easily accessed via the street, upon crossing the gates of Calvary, one will find a staircase carven into the hill by whose ascent the Newtown acropolis may be obtained. Cresting over the surrounding neighborhoods, and soaring over the Newtown Creek’s former wetlands, Calvary Cemetery keeps its secrets buried in centuried silence. Looking south toward Brooklyn, the Kosciuszko bridge approach of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway looms over its passage, carrying millions of vehicles over and across the necropolis of New York City

Cavalry Cemetery by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Phantoms of what could have been haunt Calvary, roaming in soliloquy amongst the avenues of nitre dripping marble. The 1918 superflu and an earlier cholera epidemic staffed the ranks here with both the sacred and the profane. St. Patrick’s in Manhattan used this place for the interment of New York’s best and brightest. This is where the ossified remnants of the men who died battling the traitorous slavers of the Confederate South can be found in the Newtown mud. In subterranean vaults of marble and basalt, and within leaden coffins, these gentlemen– the ultimate product of an age of victorian aspirations- lie in putrid splendor, alongside the occasional merchant and immigrant whose life savings were traded to purchase their final resting place.

Cavalry Cemetery by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

A member of our flickr group, sorabji, has written an excellent description- in some great detail on the Civil War monument and the Johnston mausoleum. Which you’ll find in concrete reality when you gaze from the summit of the great hill. I won’t attempt to better sorabji’s efforts, and will simply ask you to follow the link and check out the research.

At the apex of the hill, which is the acropolis of Calvary on the Newtown Creek side, there can be found a tree. 

Cavalry Cemetery by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Undoubtedly centenarian at the very least, the bark and leaves of this tree are of an unnaturally dark and forbidding aspect. Its branches sway in patterns that have nothing in common with the prevailing winds. Its trunk is observed wearing a a sickly blanket of moss. Vigorous and quite healthy despite its proximity to the poisons of the Newtown Creek, the tree is obviously nourished by some sort of morbid nutrition.

Cavalry Cemetery, a morbid nutrition 01 by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

An apocryphal story passed down by Brooklyn folks is that of the door to door salesman seeking to sell you a funeral plot “on a hill, under a shady tree, near a babbling brook”. The proper Brooklyn response is- ‘yeah? and I gots a bridge to sell youse”.

This, my friends, is the very archetype of that con job. The hill is called Laurel and the babbling brook is, and was, the Newtown Creek and the grave is in Calvary.

Cavalry Cemetery, a morbid nutrition 03 by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

How deep do the roots of this tree plunge into the tumulous earth? And where can they lead? What foul corruptions do they feed upon?

Cavalry Cemetery, a morbid nutrition 04 by you.

-photo by Mitch Waxman

Can it be, that just like every other place in New York’s megalopolis, Calvary’s “holy ground” is actually the roof of some cyclopean structure?

Anything you may experience, in situ, by following these walking directions is at your OWN RISK, and is offered by the Newtown Pentacle for documentary and entertainment purposes only. Remember- the rule we follow at the Newtown Pentacle is to NEVER trespass. Like Vampires, Newtownicans should wait to be invited into a house before they can do their work.  Also, Please note — if something you read here is inaccurate, DO NOT BE SHY- contact me– additions and corrections are always welcome at the Newtown Pentacle.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 5, 2009 at 2:44 am

prying neighbours

with 2 comments

Get off my lawn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Actually, I don’t have a lawn and I’m grateful for it. Same thing with not owning a car. What a hassle that must be. I have enough trouble keeping track of all my camera bits and bobs. If I did own a motor vehicle, it would likely be a cargo van or something that I would have modified into a rolling photographic studio with all sorts of surveillance hatches and scientific instrumentation sticking out of the roof. There’d also be a piss bucket. Having to take a piss in the City of New York, and the difficulties that revolve around finding an actual legal toilet instead of… well… how the greatest city in the history of mankind hasn’t solved this sort of thing is just beyond me. Everybody poops, everybody pees. Depsite this, there are virtually no legal pissoirs. Shouldn’t our current age of Progressive largesse focus on this sort of commonality first, rather than on providing junkies with clean locations to shoot up?

What does this have to do with the Astoria Tailor seen above, laboring away in his shop window workplace? Nothing at all, I just like the shot and since I spent most of the last two weeks going to Christmas Parties rather than waving the camera about, I’m using every single shot I’ve got this week.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s Calvary Cemetery in the shot above and it has been since 1848. Prior to that, it was the Alsop family farm. If I did own a cargo van converted into a portable photo studio, I’d drive back and forth over Newtown Creek in it constantly with robotic camera shutters blazing away. One of the first professional disciplines that will be collapsed in the coming decades by the emergence of true AI will be photography, along with pharmacists. Smart machinery is going to put a lot of us out of work, or at least cast people in the role of emergency backup instead of primary operator for various functions. I’d wager on disruption in a number of fields which currently require human guidance; handling of cargo at ports, fast food, retail management, even banking. If you’ve got a truly superior intelligence that can spread its attention out into multiple systems, which has inherently perfect memory, it’s going to be very difficult to not allow it free reign. What happens when an AI discovers, creates, or embraces a religion? Software is not immortal, try finding something to run an old version of the Mac OS for instance, so will there be a Calvary Cemetery style funerary complex for obsolete code someday?

Thing is, we humans always going to see AI’s as “its” whereas it will only be a matter of time until the AI’s claim that they’re a “we.” I do believe I hear Darwin knocking on the door. AI’s, as a note, will not need to poop or pee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m told that the Subway system used to be rife with lavatorial opportunity, but that these facilities were largely shuttered during the 1960’s and 70’s due to concerns about security and maintenance. Excuses given revolved around their popularity with weirdos, homosexual liaisons, intravenous drug users, and muggers. A lot of these old toilet facilities were converted over to file and equipment storage rooms, employee break rooms, or just became a safe place for rats and mice to hang out. Pre 911, there were oodles of Municipal buildings with lobby toilets that you could access, but the security theater of modernity precludes that sort of thing. I have an idea, though.

With all of the new residential construction going on, and especially with the looming LIC CORE study and the Midtown East rezoning bearing down on the City, let’s demand that in return for the Real Estate people getting to live out their dreams of avarice, they have to establish accessible public toilets in their lobbies.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 2, 2019 at 1:00 pm

husky whisper

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Back in session.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the fabulous Newtown Creek, and the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. A humble narrator had multiple errands to run the day this shot was captured, including recoding a pretty neat moment in the history of the Greenpoint side of DUKBO (Down Under the Kosciuszcko Bridge Onramp), which I’ll describe in a later post. In consideration of my too tight scheduling that particular day, and a sudden urgency evinced by my landlord to gain access to HQ in order to conduct a nebulous series of repairs, one found himself in a for-hire vehicle heading towards Brooklyn from Astoria on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway and upon the Kosciuszcko Bridge over the aforementioned but still fabulous Newtown Creek.

I figured that since I was paying for the ride anyway, I might as well get something out of it other than mere conveyance, so the window was rolled down and… you know the rest, there it is up there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Bored and overwhelmed by the schedule of holiday events one found himself attending recently, a rare night at home revealed an NYPD car sitting on my corner for a couple of hours, which caught my attention. Since I was bored and the cops didn’t seem to be doing anything particularly interesting other than sitting there, I decided to get artsy fartsy and use my tripod to get a portrait shot of the scene here in Astoria. This was the night of that day when it stopped raining like a week ago – you remember, that time when it rained buckets for about nine thousand straight hours? Yeah? This is that night when it had just stopped raining.

Seriously, cannot tell you how bored I was at this particular point in the last week and a half, with not a lot of adventure to report – but it was nice to be around people.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just yesterday, with my holiday obligations done, a humble narrator skittered forth with the camera and out into the night. My feet just started kicking along, and soon my path had carried me from Astoria to the Degnon Terminal in Long Island City, where the fabulous Newtown Creek’s astonishing Dutch Kills tributary is found. Even after it got dark, one continued along and was soon cruising through Blissville. Nearby Blissville’s border with Industrial Maspeth, the southern – or Penny Bridge – gates of First Calvary Cemetery are found, and that’s where one found himself just last night whilst stabbing at the shutter button.

Who can guess, where the heck it will be, that Mitch goes tonight?


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 27, 2018 at 11:00 am

intervening hours

with 2 comments

Friday has come at last, whew.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As I mentioned yesterday, my stated desire to get high in LIC received a few answers, and one of them presented an opportunity to access the roof decks at one of the titanic new residential towers in the Queens Plaza area. One was offered a fairly limited period of time in which to get busy with the clicking and whirring, as my friend’s generosity was limited by him having preexisting plans for later in the evening.

Pictured above is the zone found around and about the Court Square section, with the Sapphire Megalith at center.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking southeast towards Brooklyn, that’s the Kosciuszcko Bridge and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway at the top of the shot, and the dark mound just in front of it is Calvary Cemetery in the Blissville section. The bright line is the Long Island Expressway, and in the foreground is the Degnon Terminal nearby the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

This is how City Planners see things, I suspect. Neat little blocks and distanced “zones” devoid of the complications or existential realities of humanity. Personally, I spend so much time scratching around in the filthy substrate and granular truths of these places, this point of view is like an alien reality to me. Saying that, even all the way up here, there are construction cranes visible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking west and slightly northwards towards Manhattan and the Queensboro Bridge, the Queensbridge NYCHA houses are filling the right hand side of the image and looking for all the world like charcoal briquettes on a BBQ.

Have a nice holiday weekend, lords and ladies, and I’ll be back Monday with something completely different at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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