The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Astoria’ Category

threat level

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Either go clean your room or go outside and play.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll go gather some proper shots of it next week, but as you can see from the shot above the second phase of the new Kosciuszcko Bridge project is coming along nicely. Those two new towers are rising from industrial Maspeth, right at the border with LIC’s Blissville, and are in the footprint of the old K-Bridge which was “energetically felled” last year. I’m going to be asking the K-Bridge team about an official update on the project sometime soon, but probably won’t hear back from them until the fall. Not too much happens in officialdom during the middle and late summer, as people who work for the government usually enjoy a 1950’s style work schedule that includes summer vacations and getting out of work at four or five. This is part of the disconnect between the citizenry and their Government these days. They have no idea about how corporate America operates in modernity, and what life is like for the rest of us.

It’s why they constantly design boxes to fit us all into that seem too small and constraining, just like our friends and family do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hallets Cove in Astoria, pictured above.

Boxes are what others want to build around you, in my experience. Folks want to quantify their friends and family, coworkers and neighbors, defining acceptable behavioral norms and expectations for others. Speaking as somebody who avoids doing this, as it always leads to disappointment and conflict, and personally speaking it can be quite annoying when somebody gets after me about not fitting in one of their “slots.” I’m not a player on anybody’s stage other than my own.

It’s funny how often I get accused of egomaniacal braggadocio. Is it bragging if you’re just stating things that you’ve actually done, and recounting the tales of your adventures? There’s never been a box offered that can actually contain me, and at least for the last decade the life of a humble narrator has been lived in pursuit of “envelope pushing.” What that means is that when I’m asked if I want to do something that makes me uncomfortable, or nervous, I say “yes.” People close to me will often tell me “you can’t,” mainly because it threatens the envelope of expectation they have formed about you. Just do it, and screw what others say, life is short and it’s your life you’re living, not theirs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dutch Kills, LIC, pictured above.

What I’ve discovered is that whereas I do have physical limits, their boundaries are far beyond anything I believed they were. Board a boat at four in the morning in January? Sure. NYC Parade Marshal? Why not? Testify in Federal Court about Newtown Creek and or Western Queens? OK. Advocate and argue for esoteric points of view with Government officialdom? Sounds good. The box I used to live in a decade ago before all of this madness began?

Shattered. 


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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menace to

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Luyster Creek, Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking a short break this week, and single images will be greeting you through the July 4th Holiday week while I’m out shvitzing and photographing things.

Today is July 6th, and just like the rest of the calendar, there’s always a series of events that occurred over the centuries which seems to suggest that history might not be all that random. Alternatively, it probably is, and it’s the nature of human beings to attempt to form ordered patterns out of chaos.

  • 1777 – American Revolutionary War: Siege of Fort Ticonderoga: After a bombardment by British artillery under General John Burgoyne,American forces retreat from Fort Ticonderoga, New York.
  • 1854 – The first convention of the United States Republican Party is held in Michigan.
  • 1892 – Three thousand eight hundred striking steelworkers engage in a day-long battle with Pinkerton agents during the Homestead Strike, leaving ten dead and dozens wounded.
  • 1944 – The Hartford circus fire, one of America’s worst fire disasters, kills approximately 168 people and injures over 700 in Hartford, Connecticut.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Astoria, Forbidden North Coast

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never fainted

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I now know it was you, Larry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Leaving HQ the other day, this is the scene which greeted me. Our Lady of the Pentacle spotted this tableau separately. Astoria, Queens is a place full of mystery, but you can’t beat the “block watchers” when you’re playing detective. On Saturday late afternoon/evening, while enjoying a few pints of beer at the “local” with some of the local commentariat, we put our heads together and pieced together the story of a skeleton cat wearing a collar that read “heartbreaker” which appeared in front of my door.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My neighbor Kenny, who is in many ways the adult man that Nelson from the Simpsons (the haw haw kid) would grow up to become, provided many of the individual pieces of the puzzle. He described seeing an affable fellow named Larry emerge from his building with the skeleton cat in hand, who thereupon placed it on the sidewalk with the intention of letting it find a new home.

Another neighbor described the Cat being picked up by ready hands and then abandoned again. It seems to have moved up and down the block a few times before coming to rest in the tree pit in front of HQ, one building lot from its original placement by the aforementioned Larry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heartbreaker apparently made it most of the way up to Newtown Road from the Broadway side of the block before track of it was lost. Having satisfyingly assembled the origin and travels of the thing, discussion of the articulation and manufacture of the skeleton cat ensued. Such are the minor points of interest upon which the neighborhood grinds away, here in Astoria. Whether or not Larry was the original owner of the thing, I cannot say, and speaking for the community – we’ve lost interest and moved on to other topics.

The possibility of having a block party during the late summer months came up, whereupon everyone turned to me in pursuance of getting a permit for said function.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 27, 2018 at 11:00 am

stinking ossuaries

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Scuttling, always scuttling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whenever I mention the 1980’s to those who grew up in Long Island City and Astoria, a shudder seems to go through them. I’ve always wondered if that shudder has anything to do with why all the trees are in cages.

I’ve asked a few of the lifers, but boiling down the answers offered by them reveals one singular truth, which is simply expressed by describing the Croatian people as being remarkably tight lipped. There’s some gesturing involved in their answers, and sometimes a few words in a language which I can never understand (I’ve tried). Regardless, something motivated several of them to build iron cages for the street trees around here. I’ve learned to just accept things over the years which I’ve dwelt here in Astoria, Queens. 

Such is my lot. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is in a weird place, in terms of his mood. Feeling increasingly obsequious, and often wondering who the old fellow staring back at me from the bathroom mirror is, a humble narrator nevertheless sallies forth. Like the trees here in Astoria, there are iron bars and fences all around me. Often it feels as if one is juggling chain saws, and that one slip up will result in disaster. The whole “angry young man” thing is no longer a valid posture, as I’ve instead found myself cast as a broken old man. Such is the wheel of life, however, and there’s no point in moaning about it.

There are still battles to fight, and wars to win.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of, that’s the Sunnyside Yards (est. 1909) pictured above. The shots in today’s post, from this point onward, were all captured along 43rd street while walking south. 43rd street, once you cross Northern Blvd. from the blessed rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria, used to be called Laurel Hill Blvd. It connected the eastern side of LIC’s Blissville over by Newtown Creek and Calvary Cemetery with Middleburgh, which modernity calls Sunnyside. That was before the Long Island Expressway and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, and even before Queens Blvd. and the IRT Flushing Line were created in the 20th century.

Referring to old maps of Western Queens requires the usage of three distinct sets of documents, as they’ve (a shadowy cabal, probably) renamed and reoriented the streets so many times in Queens that it’s confusing as all get out figuring out what something used to be called. There’s a few “landmark” lanes which you can use to figure out relative positioning, like Jackson Avenue or Steinway Street, but even then…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

43rd street, as a pathway to Newtown Creek, has been off my radar for the last few years due to the Koscisuzcko Bridge construction project. Just this last winter, the newly rebuilt pedestrian bridge spanning the onramp to the BQE from the LIE was opened. It replaced an older iteration as part of the bridge project, and I’m in the process of reinstalling this pathway as part of my mental map for “where do I want to go today” usage.

The scaffolding in the shot above obscures the Celtic Park apartment complex, so named for a former beer garden and complex of athletic fields which the development is named for. The Celtic Park, as it was known, was designed and situated to take advantage of the huge numbers of Irish Catholic New Yorkers who came to Queens to visit loved ones in the various properties maintained by Calvary Cemetery found nearby in Blissville and Woodside.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One improvement which hasn’t occurred, and I plan on getting after the K-Bridge team about it next time I see them, is the approach to the pedestrian and bicycle bridge that joins 43rd street with the stubby three block stretch of Laurel Hill Blvd. found on the south side of the LIE. The trestle seen above carries the Long Island Expressway, and acts as a seldom mentioned approach to the BQE and Koscisuzcko Bridge itself.

It’s fairly terrifying walking along this stretch of sidewalk, with traffic ramping up to highway speeds alongside of you. A series of jersey barriers would cheaply and effectively address the issue. I’m on it, don’t worry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Aforementioned, that’s the extant section of Laurel Hill Blvd. mentioned above. To the west (or right) is Blissville’s Calvary Cemetery, to the east (or left) is the BQE and industrial Maspeth. This is also more or less the legal border which once existed between the independent municipalities of Long Island City and Newtown, prior to the consolidation of the City of Greater New York.

Tomorrow – so, what’s going on with the Kosciuszcko Bridge project?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

blind courage

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Luggage, shoe, gloves – in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Since I am a vast physical coward, and feckless quisling, the normalized habit of a humble narrator is to avoid the horror of meeting another’s gaze by staring down at the pavement while scuttling along his path. This helps one pretend that others are not pointing, laughing, or otherwise reacting in shocked horror as he waxes and wanes through their visual field. The plus is that I seldom miss the discarded items which others strew across the public way. Most modern New Yorkers seem to leave a debris field of manufactured items behind in their wake, much like a torpedo stricken merchant ship would as it steams inexorably forward into the open sea with a crew of dead and dying men onboard.

The suitcase pictured above… what redolent cargo might it have hidden? The fetus of an albino Gorilla? A fortune in narcotics? A few pairs of dirty socks and a t-shirt? Never will I know, having been too wracked with terror to investigate any further than by recording its presence photographically.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On 31st Avenue at Crescent Street in Astoria, just a few days after encountering the portentous luggage, evidence of the latest outrage by the Queens Cobbler was observed. A likely serial killer whose ghoulish delight is leaving behind a singular shoe as a taunt to law enforcement and wholesome community members alike, the Queens Cobbler has been mentioned many times at this – your Newtown Pentacle. Last Christmas, the monster signaled that he or she knew where my home address was – as described in this post. This isn’t the first time that I’ve found a child’s shoe, as a note.

I fear you no more than every other living human being, Cobbler, which is absolutely and completely.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Oddly enough, I’ve been seeing a lot of gloves lately, positioned neatly on the sidewalks upon which they were evulsed.

You don’t suppose that there’s a Queens Gaunter running about as well?


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 31, 2018 at 11:00 am

frenetic explosiveness

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What ever happened to the anal probes?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every chance I’ve had to get out on the water has been eagerly seized at in the last couple of weeks, despite the tepid nature of the springtime warmup. The weather was a lot better when Bloomberg and Obama were in office, so I blame DeBlasio and Trump for the unseasonable atmospherics.

One wonders if during the BloomBama years there was some sort of super scientific weather control technology at work, and that the DeTrumpio era of ascendant flat earthers and fake news decriers has ushered in a new dark age of ignorant speculation which has rendered formerly functioning technologies moot. Rhetoric over data, belief over baselines, and the truth is what they say it is because you can trust them not to lie like everybody else. Hell in a handbasket, us, with the Dope From Park Slope locally and a guy who actually went bankrupt in the Casino business nationally.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent conversations found me assuring a Republican friend that the Democrats did not, in fact, invite MS-13 into the country, and a liberal Democrat audience received a rousing lecture about first firearms and then political economies (the currency in that particular economy is called patronage, the discussion was about its value, who has it and who doesn’t). I also explained that we have the worst possible situation right now, where the children of politicians go to politician school where they get law degrees with a masters in politics, and then go to work for other politicians and amass fortunes of patronage until their respective parties decide it’s “their turn” to run. In Rome, these people would have been called patricians.

Has everyone lost their damned minds of late? Doesn’t anyone read a newspaper occasionally, or is it just posts titled “top 5 reasons why Republics fail” at buzzfeed?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Commonly held issues, like garbage and raw sewage in the river? Nope. Crumbling bridges and tunnels, a national locomotive freight system worth hanging your hat on, hospitals? Are we talking about the near future crisis in elder care when the baby boomers are fully immersed in senility and old age? A plan for national flood walls and levies… How about…

…Hey, I think I just saw Elvis Presley installing Hillary Clinton’s email server on Bigfoot’s UFO, which is staffed with Vladimir Putin’s spies and also Facebook transexuals. What about Veterans… and the illegal aliens… and who invited MS – 13 to my black panther party, those guys are high on goofballs. What ever happened to all those alien abductions anyway, isn’t that a thing anymore? Are the space aliens illegals, and if they are should we build a roof instead of a wall? You know who likes roofs? The Clintons and… Here’s the top ten reasons why Hillary Clinton is the worst and best thing since…

sheesh.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

splitting crescendo

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I get around.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ye olde Newtown Pentacle is back in session, I tell ‘ye. The weather has been bizarre and unpredictable, with the storm tossed wrath of jehovie breaking out randomly, but a humble narrator has nevertheless been scratching his way around and through the mortal coils of the great Metropolis. Pictured above is the Shining City itself, the eidolon of the system, according to those who rule over it. It’s where all the gears and works resolve back to, and where they get all gummed up in political patronage and intrigue. Imagine it as an outer borough, rather than as the center. That’s how an ‘effed up humble narrator thinks.

Manhattan is the problem, not the solution. Remember that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A big orange boat is pictured above, which one hadn’t been on in several months when this particular shot was captured. That situation has since been rectified, but such matters will be discussed in a future post. The big orange boat was originally privately owned, by Commodore Vanderbilt himself. Recent conversation with one of the bicycle fanatics forced one to describe the ludicrous state of affairs back in the days when the big orange boat charged a fee for riding it, and that the costs of employing the ticket sellers and takers and money counters was nearly that of operating the boat itself. It turned out that running it without a fare was cheaper than it was with one, given the size of the per passenger subsidy paid out by taxpayers. You listening NYC Ferry?

That’s why it’s free to ride the Staten Island Ferry, and one continually wonders why no thought is given to creating a third terminal for the service in Red Hook or Bay Ridge.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has also found himself on the subway several times in the last weeks, and I will reiterate my slogan that “The “A” in “MTA” is for adventure.” Several times over the last few weeks has one simply taken the first Queens bound train that comes, rather than the one that goes anywhere near my actual destination, under governance of the notion that getting out of the Shining City and back to Queens as expeditiously as possible is what matters. Once I’m back in Queens, I have options – walk, crawl, etc.

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a publicly section of the Queens shoreline left (which isn’t a park) that’s deep enough or expansive enough to dream of there being a terminal built for the big orange boat.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 9th – Exploring Long Island City – with NY Adventure Club.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail?

Tickets and more details
here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 28, 2018 at 11:00 am

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