The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Astoria’ Category

potential menace

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It’s National Pecan Sandy Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After that crazy set of storms that blew threw Astoria earlier this week, an odd orange glow permeated the sky. I got shots of the double rainbow too, of course, but since everyone else in NYC had their phones out and Instagrammed it – what’s the point? I was far more interested in the stage lighting offered by nature.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One was also out on a boat in NY Harbor this week, specifically on the solstice, and the sky that presented on the longest day of 2017 did not disappoint. That shot is looking towards New Jersey, from the waters just off Red Hook.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in LIC, one was surmounting the Pulaski Bridge when a LIRR train began making its way towards the Hunters Point Avenue station. This is one of LIC’s great natural spectacles, for one such as myself.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek, Greenpoint to Hunters Point, walking tour with NYCH2O – June 29th, 7-9 p.m..

Experience and learn the history of the western side of Newtown Creek, as well as the East River Parks Hunters Point with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


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collective deliberation

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It’s National Onion Ring Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few odds and ends greet you today, lords and ladies. Pictured above is my beloved Newtown Creek, as seen from a bulkhead in Greenpoint. That barge is being filled with aggregate soil material by the Allocco recycling operation on Kingsland Avenue. Aggregates are an interesting side of the recycling industry, wherein excavated soil is sieved and graded according to particle size (gravel, sand etc.) and then sold in bulk for industrial “fill,” or packaged and sold at consumer hardware stores in fifty pound bags. It diverts the stuff from ending up in landfills. Who knew?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator was on his way out one fine afternoon, and caught this meteorological sight. A curtain of rain was trailing a storm cloud, on an otherwise sunny day, as the cell headed eastwards. For some reason, I’m fascinated by this sort of thing, but I also routinely throw rocks at the moon when it rises outside of my cave.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The weather down in the rotting concrete bunkers and tunnels of the Subway system never ceases to amaze me. Given that it’s a series of shaft ways open on both ends and which are open to the air at nearly every station, and have de facto pistons moving through them at somewhat regular intervals, how and why is it that the atmospherics in subway stations always seem to lag twenty four to forty eight hours behind the surface? Also, why is it also so damned hot at 34th street/Herald Square?

I avoid that station like the freaking plague because of the heat.


Upcoming Tours and events

Newtown Creek, Greenpoint to Hunters Point, walking tour with NYCH2O – June 29th, 7-9 p.m..

Experience and learn the history of the western side of Newtown Creek, as well as the East River Parks Hunters Point with NCA Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 22, 2017 at 11:00 am

miniature avalanche

with 5 comments

It’s National Strawberry Shortcake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the cool people I’ve met over the last few years is a fella named Matt Malina, who’s a showrunner at an environmental educational operation that calls itself NYC H2O. NYC H2O offers tours of High Bridge, resovoir paddles, Ridgewood Resovoir – if it involves water, Matt and his gang are there. I’ve done tours of Newtown Creek for Matt, btw, in fact I’ll be announcing an upcoming one is tomorrow’s post.

So, I got an email from NYC H2O offering a lecture for science educators that would occur at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn, which would discuss the ecology of the location and the biology of Horseshoe Crabs in particular. Soon, I found myself on the train, heading from Astoria in Queens to the old neighborhood back in Brooklyn.

Why? I had my reasons.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Until recently, I’d have just walked over to 31st street and caught the Q line there, but since the Second Avenue Subway opened, the Q doesn’t enter Queens anymore. A connection between the two goldenrod badged trains was instituted at 57th street in Manhattan, and off to Sheepshead Bay Road and deep into Brooklyn went I.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in high school, I used to work in a shop on this corner, for a locally owned photo finishing company called “Foto Depot.” Things haven’t changed too much around these parts, except for a change of the secondary “lingua Franca” from Spanish over to Russian. Didn’t linger and reminisce too long, however, as I still had a bit of walk ahead of me to get to the “House of Moses” at Plumb Beach.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I turned east on Emmons Avenue, and walked along the bulkheads of Sheepshead Bay. Last July, I offered a couple of posts about the area. This one discusses the Ocean Avenue Bridge pictured above, amongst other things.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A continuation of the same excursion, Mute Swans like the one above were discussed in this post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One continued along Emmons Avenue, and I beat down the urge to enter the Roll-N-Roaster to gorge on their wares.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The eastern side of Emmons Avenue terminates at the entrance to the Shore Parkway section of what’s now called just “The Belt Parkway” by the powers that be. This is another one of NYC’s master builder Robert Moses’s arterial road system projects, which opened in 1940.

from wikipedia

The Belt System is a series of connected limited-access highways that form a belt-like circle around the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. The system comprises four officially separate parkways; however, three of the four are signed as the Belt Parkway. The three parkways that make up the signed Belt Parkway—the Shore Parkway, the Southern Parkway (not to be confused with the Southern State Parkway), and the Laurelton Parkway—are a combined 25.29 miles (40.70 km) in length. The Cross Island Parkway makes up the fourth parkway in the system, but is signed separately.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Moses called certain of his high speed roadways “expressways,” others “highways,” but the Belt is a “parkway.”

In Moses speak, parkway means that it hosted what he referred to as “shoestring parks,” which are both the green shoulders of the roadway itself and the entrances to the “buttonhole” parks that can be found periodically along the way. Given the relatively undeveloped shoreline of South Eastern Brooklyn in the 1930’s, when construction on the Belt Parkway project began, Moses and his team had a lot of leeway in designing out this shoestring concept between Bay Ridge and Cross Bay Blvd.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Plumb Beach hosts a sandy littoral zone which rises from the surf to a series of dunes. Behind the dunes, there’s a tidal salt marsh which has a muddy rather than sandy character. Famously, it’s one of the spots in NY Harbor where – during the late afternoon and evenings of May and June – you can witness Horseshoe Crabs both mating and digging nests. If you hang out till dawn, you’ll then see what seems like millions of birds descend on the nests to feed.

Now… why did a humble narrator travel way across the City to attend the NYC H2O lecture? Was it just to watch the arthropoda snuggle?

from wikipedia

Plumb Beach (sometimes spelled “Plum”) is a beach and surrounding neighborhood along the north shore of Rockaway Inlet, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. It is located near the neighborhoods of Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach, just off the Belt Parkway. Originally an island, Hog Creek was filled in during the late 1930s. Since 1972 it has been a part of Gateway National Recreation Area, though the parking lot and greenway that provide primary access to the shore are the responsibility of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York City Department of Transportation. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community District 15, although a section of the beach is not part of a Community District.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It was actually the instructor which drew my interest this time around, a fellow named Alan Ascher.

Alan Ascher was my high school marine biology teacher. I apologized to him, for being thirty four years late to bio.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 14, 2017 at 11:00 am

inappropriate interludes

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It’s National Cupcake Lovers Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The lonely path one such as myself walks often reveals hidden facets of the great human hive which are unnoticed or uncommented upon by most. An often quoted line from the 1980’s film Buckaroo Banzai is “no matter where you go, there you are,” and that’s something I couldn’t agree with more. Under the LIRR tracks at 43rd street nearby Barnett Avenue, an enterprising family has been collating the collections of the neighborhood “Canners,” who harvest recyclable beverage containers from residential trash. These containers are literally “money left in the street” and prove out the old aphorism that the streets of NYC are paved in gold if you’re willing to work hard enough to get it.

I first became aware of the “collectors” around twenty years ago when I was working a night shift and living in Manhattan, and I’d encounter trucks filled with bags of bottles. The exchange rate was three or four cents a can (depending), as opposed to the five cents you’ll get at a redemption center, with the extra pennies compensating the truck driver and saving the canner the hassle of using the slow and often out of order bottle redemption mechanisms found at supermarkets.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s a timing thing, getting the blue arc of electrical energy that lights up the train on the local Queens bound track at Queens Plaza. Cannot tell you how many times I miss it, even though I can utterly predict when the flash will occur as the R line local enters the station. My normal predication is to walk home to Astoria, from Queens Plaza, but at night you need to be worried about the pestilential Vampires who are known to infest the area. The 108th and 114th precincts will both deny the existence of this crowd of blood drinkers.

There’s also teenagers, who are wildly unpredictable creatures given to sudden flights of fancy and best avoided.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As far as I’ve been able to discern, the only vampire we’ve got locally here in Southern Astoria is my pal Matty, pictured above. The shot above was captured just as he was about to lean in and suckle on my jugular, and I surprised him by suddenly spinning around to catch him in the act before he distended the fangs. Legend has it that Matty has been “living” in the neighborhood since the 1880’s, but it isn’t clear if he was already a nosferatu when he arrived or if it’s something that happened locally. No one, not even Matty, is sure where he nests – but as soon as the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself ducks below the horizon, he appears.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 13, 2017 at 12:15 pm

immature exemplar

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It’s National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, according to the National Peanut Council, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For those of you who didn’t get the notification, the City has updated the Queensboro Bridge’s firmware over the weekend. You’ll no longer find your driving directions in “citytunes,” instead they’re now in a separate app.

That’s a joke, of course, for those of you who are literally minded, but this last weekend was a commuter nightmare subway wise, which resulted in a surface transportation clusterfuck of vehicular traffic trying to exit or enter Queens. A classic example of “you can’t get there from here,” multiple subway lines were rerouted or nonexistent due to track work, and the entire experience of getting around town was framed by a couple of conversations I was a part of last week with the NYC EDC, regarding their Sunnyside Yards Feasibility study.

One had two opportunities last week to throw shade at them about the project. One was at the Queens Chamber of Commerce – while wearing my Newtown Creek Alliance Hat – which saw me asking EDC about truck routes and what exactly they think they’re going to be able to plug 28,000 units of housing into. The other was wearing my Access Queens hat (we don’t have actual AQ hats, btw) and I queried as to how half the population of Boulder Colorado would manage to get to work in the City using just three subway stations (33rd Street/Rawson and 40th street/Lowery on the 7, and 36th street on the R/M) every day. Other questions involved hospital beds, NYPD, FDNY, and we explored the chronology involved with transport to Elmhurst Hospital or Bellevue for a citizen who might be experiencing a heart attack or stroke from the ostensible center of the project at Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in Hunters Point, the dig for Captain Praa’s Golden Horde continues. The semi legendary Dutch sea Captain who settled on the northern side of the Mispat, or Newtown Creek, is meant to have buried a blasphemous treasure he collected on a journey to and from the mysterious Micronesian island of Pohnpei (formerly known as Ponape) in the South Pacific. In the native tongue, Pohnpei translates to “upon a stone altar,” and it is where you’ll find the archaeological site of Nan Modol (which translates to “the spaces between”). Legend has it that Praa was terrified by the latent occult implications of the golden treasure he carried home, and ensured that it would be forever lost in the mud and silt. The tall tale that frog headed monstrosities, reported as periodically rising from the Newtown Creek in the historical record, followed him back to NY Harbor is completely unsubstantiated and fantastic in implication.

from wikipedia

According to Pohnpeian legend, Nan Madol was constructed by twin sorcerers Olisihpa and Olosohpa from the mythical Western Katau, or Kanamwayso. The brothers arrived in a large canoe seeking a place to build an altar so that they could worship Nahnisohn Sahpw, the god of agriculture. After several false starts, the two brothers successfully built an altar off Temwen Island, where they performed their rituals. In legend, these brothers levitated the huge stones with the aid of a flying dragon. When Olisihpa died of old age, Olosohpa became the first Saudeleur. Olosohpa married a local woman and sired twelve generations, producing sixteen other Saudeleur rulers of the Dipwilap (“Great”) clan.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the weekend, one encountered an online conspiracy theory describing the retail giant Wal-Mart as playing a seminal role in a secretive FEMA plot which would see a declaration of martial law enacted in pursuance of the confiscation of personal firearms. This plot, as reported, had Hillary Clinton as its fountainhead. Mrs. Clinton was just an agent, however of a shadowy cabal populated by internationalist Jewish Bankers in league with the Bilderberg group, who are upset that Donald Trump has emerged to thwart their nefarious goals. Who knew?

It made me wonder, and more than wonder, what role the Harley Davidson people might be playing in this global power grab. What other large scale American corporations might be working to subvert individual liberty and institute a new world order?

Moreover, why isn’t anyone talking or worrying about the antediluvian horrors lurking in the seas of the South Pacific just off Pohnpei, specifically located at 47°9′S 126°43′W – where the nightmare corpse city of R’lyeh lies sunken beneath the waves…  in all of its slimy green immensity – which was built in the measureless eons behind history by those vast, loathsome shapes that seeped down from the dark stars?

I think we can all guess who that flying dragon that Olisihpa and Olosohpa built Nan Modol with is, after all.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

contraband nature

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It’s National Jelly Donut Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been on a non stop run across the City of Greater New York for the last six weeks, and my dogs are barking. Haven’t been to Staten Island (except by water, twice) or the Bronx at all, but tomorrow I’m going to Plumb Beach nearby Sheepshead Bay to attend a lecture on Horseshoe Crabs which, as it turns out, is being led by my tenth grade biology teacher. Small world, big City, I guess. The shot above was captured at the Grand Avenue station in Elmhurst, where I’ve been three times in the last six weeks, but was just passing through.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was gathered onboard the new Citywide Ferry Rockaway service, which left from Pier 11 in Manhattan and proceeded to Bay 108 in Rockaway in about fifty minutes with a stop in Sunset Park. I was puzzled as to the end goal destination, across the street from the DEP’s Rockaway waste water treatment plant. B 108 isn’t exactly “Main Street” if you know what I mean, but putting two and two together, I figure that the City probably owns the land there due to the Rockaway Plant’s long tenancy and it was likely the only affordable spot along the Rockaway waterfront where you could install the dock.

Pictured, of course, is a NY Water Taxi rather than a Citywide Ferry boat. The Water Taxi was exiting Erie Basin while performing part of its’ IKEA ferry route.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering around Astoria one recent day, this coal chute cover was encountered and I decided to do a bit of detective work on the address embossed into its legend. The folks at Greater Astoria Historic Society host a page which describes the various name changes that the streets in Astoria have assumed over the years, which provided for some of the hard slog footwork in translating “329 9th Ave., Astoria, L.I.” into the modern day street grid.

What was once known as “Kowenhoven St.” in a city of Newtown called Astoria, which was later renamed as “9th avenue by the independent municipality of Long Island City, became 38th street in the Borough of Queens and a part of the Consolidated City of Greater New York in the early 20th century. The sections of Belcher Hyde Fire Insurance Maps included in today’s post date from 1919, and still carry the LIC era street names and addresses.

– Belcher Hyde map 1919

Broadway is always so named, and Steinway Street was once an avenue but is still named after the local Piano Baron, and 31st avenue used to be called first Jamaica and then Patterson Avenue. 9th street is now 38th street, and if I’m reading the map correctly, the street address (329) of the Atlantic Iron Works would correspond with that of the no longer extant Public School no. 6 (which is a whole other story) and is coterminous with the modern day “Sean’s Place” playground.

– Belcher Hyde map 1919

As a note, the track lines indicated are Trolley, or Streetcar tracks. The arrival of the IND subway line was still a few years away at the stage of the game, and the “cut and cover” work was likely underway but not indicated.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

June 8, 2017 at 1:00 pm

troublesome phrase

with 5 comments

It’s National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The humans are quarrelsome and troubling creatures in my opinion, given to irrational ideas. Worship of imaginary sky fathers is just one of these ideations which annoy me, and if you follow current events, the practice causes no small amount of trouble. If there is a “god,” my perception and description of it would be that of an extra dimensional and utterly alien being who deigns to sit in judgement over the natives of this planet which is given to random fits of pique that are expressed as extreme weather events. Personally, a humble narrator doesn’t cling to the idea that some “thing” in the sky is watching over me, other than the omnipresent mechanisms launched by certain global military super powers. To each his own, I guess, but I for one am fairly tired of having my lack of neolithic era superstitions seen as some sort of moral turpitude. One goes out of his way to not impose my beliefs upon others in violent or aggressive ways, which seems to be at odds with those who “believe.” If “faith” is so fragile that you need to murder others to prove it, or shun those who follow a different path – exactly what kind of God are you worshipping? Best to get yourself a better God then the one you’ve got, one who will give you what you want or need – I’d suggest Dagon, Cthulhu, or Lucifer in that case. You’d probably have the best run with Lucifer, if the lifestyle of the Rolling Stones or Jimmy Page are any sort of indication. At any rate, I don’t care what you think or believe, unless it affects me or you start trying to proselytize about it. I never inject my personal opinions about this sort of thing on the true believers, but they are always trying to do the opposite and evangelize me. That’s rude, in my version of morality.

Somehow, this little polemic was conjured up in my mind by the image of that horned pickup in the shot above, a cool car spotted on the streets of Astoria, Queens recently while a humble narrator was enjoying a pint of beer with friends at the local pub. The horned God, in the belief systems of Eurasia, is traditionally the foeman of the sky father. Jung and others described this imagery in terms of the “denied herd leader or gelded bull,” and it emerged during the early days of farming – as did Beer, oddly enough.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While my fellow Astorians and I spent a couple of enjoyable Sunday afternoon hours quaffing beer and discussing the events of the day, another Astoria Hullabaloo sprung up when a Consolidated Edison crew arrived and began to cordon off the corner of 42nd street at Broadway. They were installing electrical equipment into a street vault. The Con Ed guys were busy, but quite an affable group and they bemoaned the fact that they had to work and couldn’t join in with our festivities. I wonder which God they’d worship if we lived in pagan times?

The Saint of Electrical Workers (text lifted from Wikipedia) is probably “Saint Eligius (also Eloy or Loye) (French: Éloi) (c. 588 – 1 December 660) is the patron saint of goldsmiths, other metalworkers, and coin collectors. He is also the patron saint of veterinarians, the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), a corps of the British Army, but he is best known for being the patron saint of horses and those who work with them.” There’s also a traditional Catholic association of electrical workers with Santa Lucia, but she’s more generally connected to artillery men as the lightning bolt in her story actually killed someone. Additionally, St. Elmo is often associated with electrical workers, and there’s a whole contingent of saints competing for the affections of those who work up on utility poles.

Santa Veronica is the patron saint of Photographers, incidentally. Also, from Wikipedia – “According to Church tradition, Veronica was moved with pity when she saw Jesus carrying his cross to Golgotha and gave him her veil that he might wipe his forehead. Jesus accepted the offering, held it to his face, and then handed it back to her—the image of his face miraculously impressed upon it. This piece of cloth became known as the Veil of Veronica.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Rabbit holes are an existential hazard for me, so…

The Patron Saint of the United States in the Roman Catholic tradition is Mary, in her guise as “Our Lady of the immaculate conception.” Saint Patrick is in charge of the Archdiocese of New York, in case you were wondering. The diocese of Brooklyn (and Queens, thank you), is part of the ecclesial parish of the larger Archdiocese, so presumptively they’ve got St. Pat too. Helps to explain why you see so few “actual” snakes slithering around, but puzzles as to why there are so many of the two legged variety hereabouts.

Not too sure about the other big churches and faiths, and I don’t want to start a research paper on this, so we’ll just end that thought.

Wonder what the patron deity of NYC would be, if we followed the model of the old Greek city states. Mammon, probably. Thoughts? Post ’em in the comments section.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 7, 2017 at 11:00 am

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