The Newtown Pentacle

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frightened them

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The Queens Cobbler survived the cold, and Liberty walks the streets of Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been spotting evidence, once again, that the Queens Cobbler is active and amongst us. A likely serial killer who leaves behind a single shoe as a taunt to both community and law enforcement, the Cobbler has been a subject mentioned so many times at this – your Newtown Pentacle – that the monster has actually tracked me down and left one of his ghoulish trophies on the ornamental fence surrounding Newtown Pentacle HQ last Christmas. One refuses to be cowed.

The boot above was spotted recently on Northern Blvd. nearby 39th avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over in the still industrial section of Long Island City, not too far from Van Dam Street, the shoe above was noticed while a humble narrator was scuttling past. It is my belief that someday will a commercial self storage room, or an untenanted storeroom in some old factory, be opened and within will be hundreds and hundreds of single shoes – the mates to the ones which have been documented at this publication over the years. I believe the Cobbler keeps on of their victim’s shoes as a trophy, and discards the other as a taunt.

One would be hard pressed to describe the particular footwear of a missing loved one to the Police, I admit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a completely different note, this fellow has been wandering up and down Broadway here in Astoria throughout tax preparation season. He’s apparently employed by a local shop, whose corporate branding revolves around the Statue of Liberty, that handles financial matters to act as a living signboard and busker to drive potential customers to their door.

I’ve enjoyed a brief conversation with the gentleman, who attests that the costume is actually quite warm and comfortable, which he’s been glad of given the recent cold snap. Everybody has to make a living, I guess.


Upcoming Tours and Events

April 29 – Bushwick-Ridgewood borderline Walking Tour – with Newtown Historical Society.

Join Kevin Walsh and Mitch Waxman as they take us along the border of Brooklyn and Queens, Bushwick and Ridgewood, with stops at English Kills, an historic colonial Dutch home, and all kinds of fun and quirky locations. End with an optional dinner on Myrtle Avenue before heading back to the Myrtle-Wyckoff subway station. Tix are only $5 so reserve your space today!
Tickets and more details here.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm

lingered tenaciously

with one comment

Atmospheric temperature inversions are cool.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may recall, last Friday was unusually warm for a day in January, and a patch of heavy fog fairly permeated the ether. Later in the evening, when the temperature began to drop towards seasonal norms, many would have described weather conditions as rainy but in actuality it was a precipitating mist. A variety of social functions saw one flitting to and fro in the cloud of vapor which occluded human vision and lent a mutiplicity of illuminates full discourse to dissipate and diffuse into its heaving forms.

Paragraphs like the one above are part of the reason that I don’t get invited to many parties, so when I am on a guest list – I go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A soirée in Sunnyside to celebrate a friend’s birthday was attended, and after escorting a third party back to her home, one found himself close enough to home to walk. The City of Greater New York is always at its most photogenic when it’s moist, and given that the temperature was pleasant… why not?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The next time a temperature inversion occurs and misty banks of vapor are observably rolling across the concrete devastations, my intention is to cancel or back out of any and all interpersonal plans. One shall pack up the tripod and camera kit and head over to the Newtown Creek.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 17, 2018 at 11:00 am

almost snatched

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Project Queens is a work in progress, and always has been.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It often seems as if everyplace I find my heels clicking upon the sidewalks of Western Queens is a construction zone. This one got my attention the other day when I noticed a shaft of sunlight while riding a train, somewhere between the 46th Street and Steinway Street stops on the venerable R line tracks. After returning to the ancient village from points west and south, a brief investigatory wander revealed it to be a crew from the MTA construction division hard at work on Astoria’s Broadway. I walked up on the end of this process, but it seemed that they had cut a hole in the street in order to deliver bundles of lumber and other heavy materials to the sweating concrete bunkers below the street.

I know, that sounds ridiculous, cutting a hole in the street. Why go to such lengths and expense, inconveniencing an entire neighborhood, when you could just use a work train to transport materials to the job site… but… I did say “MTA” didn’t I?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Can you imagine the sort of existential horror that would ensue if the current Mayor of NYC’s mad plan to deck over the Sunnyside Yards happened? Often have I contemplated the nightmare scenario of materials laden heavy trucks criss crossing through Woodside, Astoria, Dutch Kills, Hunters Point, and Sunnyside while carrying tonnages of construction equipment and materials. The noise alone…

It would be less instructive, IMHO, if they were to just extend the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek a couple of blocks to the north and bring it all in via a maritime shipping channel. That is, in a scenario in which this Queens killing abomination actually happens, of course.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst marching about on Skillman Avenue nearby Queens Plaza, a work train crew was spotted on the overhead tracks. Presumptively, these folks were working on the long overdue CBTC signals project on the 7 line. This project, which seems like its been going on for decades (it has been) and must be millions over budget (it is) will allow the estimable scions of the MTA the opportunity to run one extra train per hour on the 7 line. Will the perfidy displayed by Jay Street ever end?

One of the military industrial complex concepts, which I wish the MTA would adopt in planning and spending, is the “resource to kill ratio.” In layman’s terms, that call that “bang for the buck.” You don’t use a million dollar missile to kill a guy on a camel, essentially. You use a sniper instead.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 15, 2018 at 11:00 am

with astonishment

with 3 comments

I’m not being paranoid, everybody hates me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Everywhere a humble narrator goes, people point and laugh. Some grasp at their purses, or point me out to their children as an example of what can happen if you don’t do your homework and behave properly. Sometimes, a mocking crowd will gather and hurl garbage collected off the street. The names I’m called by these assembled strangers are hurtful, because more often than not there’s a kernel of truth to their accusatory defamations. The guy above told me “You stink.”

The whole world is against me, I’m telling you.

from wikipedia

According to the DSM-IV-TR, persecutory delusions are the most common form of delusions in paranoid schizophrenia, where the person believes “he or she is being tormented, followed, tricked, spied on, or ridiculed.” They are also often seen in schizoaffective disorder and, as recognized by DSM-IV-TR, constitute the cardinal feature of the persecutory subtype of delusional disorder, by far the most common. Delusions of persecution may also appear in manic and mixed episodes of bipolar disease, polysubstance abuse, and severe depressive episodes with psychotic features, particularly when associated with bipolar illness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes, I’ll innocently greet a person whom I’ve met before. Instantly they will begin to offer excuses as to needing to be somewhere else, describe a sudden onset of nausea, or begin to speak in a different language. Shock and horror greet my arrivals, it seems. Often it seems as if groups of people have organized around ostracizing a humble narrator, forming into whispering circles with their backs turned towards me.

I don’t think I smell particularly bad, or at least no worse than other people.

from wikipedia

Paranoia is an instinct or thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of delusion and irrationality. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself (e.g. “Everyone is out to get me”, which is an American parochial phrase). Paranoia is distinct from phobias, which also involve irrational fear, but usually no blame. Making false accusations and the general distrust of others also frequently accompany paranoia. For example, an incident most people would view as an accident or coincidence, a paranoid person might believe was intentional.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One loves to argue, to be fair. A humble narrator will take on any argument, anytime, and if I had the funding to keep a legal professional on staff I would be constantly in court pursuing frivolous lawsuits over minor points. It’s my right to complain to anyone who will listen, after all, and especially so to government employees and officialdom. One did not like “the look” which a deputy commissioner of the DEP gave me one time back in 2011, and I’ve been saving up in my penny jar since to hire an attorney to pursue the slight.

Best served cold? Pfahh, what kind of revenge is served cold?

from wikipedia

In the legal profession and courts, a querulant (from the Latin querulus – “complaining”) is a person who obsessively feels wronged, particularly about minor causes of action. In particular the term is used for those who repeatedly petition authorities or pursue legal actions based on manifestly unfounded grounds. These applications include in particular complaints about petty offenses.

Querulant behavior is to be distinguished from either the obsessive pursuit of justice regarding major injustices, or the proportionate, reasonable, pursuit of justice regarding minor grievances. According to Mullen and Lester, the life of the querulant individual becomes consumed by their personal pursuit of justice in relation to minor grievances.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spends a lot of his time wringing hands and gnashing teeth, which partially contributes to the sorry state of my dentition. Acquaintances such as the fellow pictured above have counseled me to just relax and forget about the slings and arrows lest I be branded a contrarian lunatic. He also suggested that I invest in some decent aftershave or cologne to cancel out the stench of sewage and garbage which I carry about my person.

from wikipedia

Stigma is a Greek word that in its origins referred to a type of marking or tattoo that was cut or burned into the skin of criminals, slaves, or traitors in order to visibly identify them as blemished or morally polluted persons. These individuals were to be avoided particularly in public places.

Social stigmas can occur in many different forms. The most common deal with culture, obesity, gender, race, illness and disease. Many people who have been stigmatized, feel as though they are transforming from a whole person to a tainted one. They feel different and devalued by others. This can happen in the workplace, educational settings, health care, the criminal justice system, and even in their own family.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This stimatization and social suffering sucks. It’s gotten so bad that a humble narrator recognizes facial postures such as the one above as being one of normal greeting. I’m not just paranoid about being socially isolated and rejected, it’s getting to the point where I’m not even sure of whose face it is staring back at me from the bathroom mirror at three in the morning, after my nightly hysterical fit. There’s some old guy in the mirror, where I’m supposed to be.

What’s real? I’ll tell you what’s real, people suck, and I don’t smell that bad.

from wikipedia

The most distinguishing symptoms of BPD are marked sensitivity to rejection or criticism, and intense fear of possible abandonment. Overall, the features of BPD include unusually intense sensitivity in relationships with others, difficulty regulating emotions, and impulsivity. Other symptoms may include feeling unsure of one’s personal identity, morals, and values; having paranoid thoughts when feeling stressed; dissociation and depersonalization; and, in moderate to severe cases, stress-induced breaks with reality or psychotic episodes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Numbed to such pain and rejection, what one truly worries about are the sometimes violent reactions people have when I’m near. When I say “I got stoned this afternoon,” it’s not a story of ingesting some cannibinoids instead it’s a report that people hurled chunks of masonry and rock at me. The whole world is out to get me, and not invite me to parties.

The fellow above, after accusing me of taking his picture, which I denied – punched me in the neck. Hard.

from wikipedia

Social anhedonia is defined as a trait-like disinterest in social contact and is characterized by social withdrawal and decreased pleasure in social situations. This characteristic typically manifests as an indifference to other people. In contrast to introversion, a nonpathological dimension of human personality, social anhedonia represents a deficit in the ability to experience pleasure. Additionally, social anhedonia differs from social anxiety in that social anhedonia is predominantly typified by diminished positive affect, while social anxiety is distinguished by both decreased positive affect and exaggerated negative affect. This trait is currently seen as a central characteristic to, as well as a predictor of, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, as it is seen as a potential evolution of most personality disorders, if the patient is above age 24, when prodromal schizophrenia may be excluded.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Social isolation, punches to the neck, hatred and thwarted vengeance, accusations of stink and carrying the odors of the tomb about wherever I go… I’m not sure why I leave the house sometimes. How do you think you would smell, if children were always hurling rotten eggs at you? What did I ever do to deserve all of this?

Maybe, I should get some aftershave? I’d have to shave more, or at all, then.

from wikipedia

In humans, the formation of body odors is caused my factors such as diet, gender, health, and medication, but the major contribution comes from skin gland secretions and bacterial activity. Humans have three types of sweat glands; eccrine sweat glands, apocrine sweat glands and sebaceous glandss. Eccrine sweat glands are present from birth, while the two latter becomes activated during puberty. Between the different types of human skin glands, the body odor is primarily the result of the apocrine sweat glands, which secrete the majority of chemical compounds needed for the skin flora to metabolize it into odorant substances. This happens mostly in the axillary (armpit) region, although the gland can also be found in the areola, anogenital region, and around the navel. In humans, the armpit regions seem more important than the genital region for body odor which may be related to human bipedalism.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 8, 2018 at 11:00 am

evidence itself

with 5 comments

It’s National Candy Cane Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Things have gotten a bit weirder than usual here in Astoria, as will be elucidated upon in today’s post. Pictured above, and submitted for you consideration is a single shoe whose sudden appearance thrust a cold dagger of latent terror and existential dread into the holiday season for Our Lady of the Pentacle and a humble narrator.

Even our little dog Zuzu has been displaying apprehension and nervous tics…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, upon exiting the domicile, a single shoe bearing a hand drawn scrawl was observed on the ornamental fence which defines my landlord’s property line. The message on the shoe, which was of the “Oxford” style and manufactured by a company called “Ecco” read “Season’s Greetings Mitch!” and continued on with “The Queens Cobbler, Ho Ho Ho.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been talking about the Queens Cobbler for several years at this point in time.

The first time I used the term was way back in 2014, and there have been posts mentioning the monster since then. Halloween of 2014, this one from March of 2015, another from April of 2015, and from the same month – the appearance of a potential copycat Cobbler was mentioned in this one. June of 2015 saw more evidence appear, and shoes continued to drop right on through 2016. 2017 brought more macabre trophies to the fore, and it seemed like the Queens Cobbler began to grow haughty. All through the summer of 2017, single shoe sightings began to grow in frequency. Even children aren’t safe from the Cobbler, and I should have taken the message when a singular shoe was found at my local saloon in October. Halloween of 2017? As late as middle December of 2017? Yep.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the name of creating some sort of evidentiary documentation for local, State, and possibly Federal authorities to analyze – the shoe was carefully transported upstairs where “studio shots” of the thing could be created. Additionally, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself activated all of our passive and active household defense systems and spent Christmas in the apocalypse bunker which we’ve been scratching deep into the loam of Western Queens for quite some time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One should have realized that the shoe pictured above, which was observed in October of this year at the neighborhood saloon I frequent, was a warning to not inquire too deeply into the Queens Cobbler’s nefarious purpose.

Should I disappear one day whilst scuttling along the bulkheads, I’d ask for all of you to search for a size 11 Merrel hiking boot at Newtown Creek, as that’ll be all that’s left of me to bury.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 26, 2017 at 11:00 am

cupboard linings

with one comment

It’s National Sangria Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

File this one under “Old Man shakes fist at passing cloud.” We really have to do something about these utility wires here in Western Queens. You’re looking at an amalgamated twenty five to thirty years of wire in the shots today. Somebody moves in to an apartment, they order cable or internet service, and next thing you know – there’s a new lead coming off of the utility pole that gets tacked loosely onto their wall.

Thing is, the cable people never seem to remove the old wire, and just leave it in place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s when it snows that you can really discern the clot of coaxial cabling which owns the sky here in Astoria. The scene hereabouts is reminiscent of those old photos of Manhattan, the ones from the late 19th century when the telegraph and telephones had just come to town.

There has to be close to a ton of cable criss crossing back and forth on every single block in Western Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I say Western Queens, I really mean the totality of it, incidentally. I see this mess everywhere that the local community board didn’t force the cable people to put their wires underground, as they are in Sunnyside Gardens and other parts of Community Board 2.

It’s not just the cable folks either, Verizon and Con Ed can boast rather impressive bundles of electronic spaghetti mingling with the street trees.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve witnessed a couple of disasters, and a few near disasters associated with this utility wire situation. Thanks to the intervention of Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, the NYS Utility Commission compelled Cond Ed to replace a bowing utility pole on Astoria’s Broadway last year. Saying that, neither RCN nor Spectrum have bothered to move their wire hookups to the new pole yet, and their conductive tonnages are still being supported by the ancient wooden one.

Additionally, as a note, the Spectrum Installers Union strike is still going on.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A summer ago, the entire RCN grid began to simmer and smoke on the poles. To their credit, the company brought in extra crews and got their customers back online in a day or two. To their detriment, they left all the damaged cables in place. One hopes that at some point in the future, a cohesive plan to rationalize this situation will be undertaken wherein Government officialdom will compel the utilities…

Aww. Crap. Forgot the Borough motto. “Welcome to Queens. Now go fuck yourself.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nothing will be done, and everything will get worse. Storm clouds will gather, rain will fall, and the puppies will be unhappy all about the neighborhood. The cables will fall and randomly kill us all, falling like asps from the sky. Ruination and death will be answered by calls for a rezoning by City Planning, with increased height and residential density in mind.

That’s when the wires will disappear into the ground.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All is ruination and death. Everywhere you look.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 20, 2017 at 11:00 am

insinuated lapse

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It’s National Hard Candy Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

We recently had some company staying over, at HQ here in Astoria. Amongst our lodgers was a 12 year old fellow who lives in the (extremely) exurbs of Denver out in Colorado, which is a somewhat “sheltered” place as far as the tangible realities of life go. As we were moving along, he pointed out an older woman on Broadway who was collecting cans and bottles for recycling and cash redemption, and asked me if she was homeless. The kid had apparently never seen a homeless person before, which is a whole other story, and I had to explain to him about the industry of the “canners.”

Somehow I ended up in a lefty speech about personal initiative and the streets being paved with gold from an immigrants point of view, lauding the canners for their pluck and chiding native born New Yorkers for literally throwing money out in the garbage. The kid wasn’t impressed and went back to playing with his phone. He just wanted to say he saw a bum when he was in the City, I think.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My dog Zuzu is quite used to these little invectives and flights of politique fancy. Whomever to and whenever I’m trying to make some long winded and esoteric point, Zuzu just sort of hunkers down and waits. She knows it’s going to be awhile, especially when my response to someone starts with “No, that’s not how things work… it’s complicated…”

Don’t get me started, really.

Funnily enough, I’ve recently had several of the people in my “social media” world label me as a “liberal.” Most of the real lefties I know think of me as a “stealth Conservative,” whereas I argue that none of these labels actually mean anything anymore. Might as well call me a Whig.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are, of course, things encountered in NYC that just defy description, and if you didn’t take a picture of them – nobody would believe you. Zuzu the dog won’t commit to anything more than a quick sniffing of such anomalous items, and the kid from Colorado barely seemed to register most of what was going on around him.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 19, 2017 at 1:00 pm

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