The Newtown Pentacle

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addressed as

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Banal pedantry, and Western Queens, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst hanging around at my local bar, recently, one has been forced to eat a bunch of crow by the working guys who voted for “he who must not be named.” I don’t say the name of the President Elect, as it lends him power in the manner of a certain Harry Potter villain – as a note. The working guys are generally union members who became convinced that “the Mexicans are taking my job,” and voted accordingly. I have declared a moratorium amongst friend and foe alike, as I cannot spend another minute of my time discussing the 2016 Presidential election, which went on for what seemed like four or five years.

At the moment, I’ve got other fish to fry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Admiration is what I feel towards the “canners” of Queens, for instance. Observationally, I see mostly Latino or Asian folks pursuing this line of profiteering – picking through this bin or that one in pursuance of the deposit money for aluminum can and glass bottle. We native born Citizens generally leave our pocket change in the curbside recycling bags, but our newly arrived neighbors believe – rightly – that the streets of New York City are paved with gold, if you just expend a bit of effort to harvest it.

I wonder if the Catholics have assigned a patron saint for the canners?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While watching the humans in their daily rounds, one of the things which I’m currently observing and finding fascinating are their set of behaviors, social mores, and so on. One comment I can offer is that people spend a lot of extra energy on walking that they don’t need to in pursuance of looking “cool.” Bad shoes, pants falling down, lots of gestural movements that have little or nothing to do with locomotion. Focus, people, focus.

Ultimately, it’s all pretty depressing, but interesting nevertheless.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

looke backe

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Banal pedantry, Astoria, and the day the music died.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It is absolutely unfathomable to me how hidebound government is. The DEP has a problem with “floatable” solid materials entering the sewage flow. The DSNY is under orders to provide public waste receptacles for street trash. The DOB is on a crusade to discover illegally converted apartments in residential buildings.

DOB enforcement, which uses DSNY inspector data to discover the presence of illegal conversions, causes the residents of illegal apartments to not put their trash out on the curb for collection by DSNY, so they use the street corner trash bins to dispose of household garbage instead. This causes the bins to overflow, which causes the trash to fall on the sidewalk and street, where it enters the sewer system and bedevils the DEP  – which does nothing to control their sewage from flowing into waterways via open overflow pipes. The DSNY positions their overflowing trash bins  – overflowing due to DOB – right next to DEP’s sewer grates so… sigh…

We are all doomed, and hurtling towards destruction, aren’t we? When I mention this sort of thing to officialdom, their response isn’t “wow, we should rethink this,” it’s “that can’t happen because it’s illegal.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The City is all agog, under the leadership of the Dope from Park Slope, about affordable housing. Rather than process the fact that there is actually housing which ordinary and current residents CAN afford, but which is found in extant transit deserts outside of the City center – the DOB and City Planning assists the Real Estate Developer shit flies in demolishing existing housing stock within the center in pursuance of creating mega structures. They do not seem to consult with the sewer and water people at DEP about built capacity first, or the electrical and gas supply companies like ConEd or National Grid, or the transit folks at MTA as to the existential result of this population loading. The whole notion of expanding mass transit options to College Point or other outer circle spots – now that’s madness.

To put it plain – Bill De Blasio and his inane shit fly inspired “vision” is going to destroy New York City, or at least leave behind a series of bills to pay that will make the Presidency of George W. Bush look fiscally responsible.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Burrachos of Astoria’s Broadway, whose population has been seriously cut down by the 114th Pct. and the Dept. Of Homeless Services in the last year – largely due to the urging and cajoling of this, your Newtown Pentacle – have been exploring their creative side lately.

A series of deployed guitars have been observed, many of which have been strummed while chanties have been sung. I’m actually a casual fan of modern day Latin American folk music, much of which centers around the adventures and warfare of “Los Narcos” in their struggles with competitors and describes their resistance against “Los Federales.” Seriously – Google for some of the “El Chapo” songs and think about the early years of Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.

It’s been a pleasure to discover that the Burrachos are something other than just drunks and bums, but unfortunately – they still have a dark side that extends beyond defecating on the sidewalk. Pictured above is the consequence of using a guitar as a bludgeon, and it signifies the day that the music died on Broadway in Astoria, Queens.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 7, 2016 at 1:30 pm

blasphemous disturbance

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Evil lurks, in darkness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has long decried the presence of a horde of vampires in Queens Plaza, where they spend their days hiding in the steel of the elevated subways. The presence of the Baltic Strigoi and the Cretan Kalikantzaros in Astoria, the Liches and the syncretic wizardry of South America observed at St. Michael’s Cemetery, the Egyptian Djinn of Steinway Street, those curious Celtic creatures lurking in the post industrial subterrene voids of Blissville, and the unmentionable Dibbuks of the Chabad in Williamsburg have all been discussed in the past. These are all immigrant imps, however, carried to Brooklyn and Queens by the European masses. Supernatural immigrants from old world to new.

Occluded, however, are the belief systems of the original inhabitants of western Long Island.

from wikipedia

Kishelemukong is the creator god, not involved in the daily affairs of the Lenape. Instead, he directed the manitowak, the life-spirits of all living things, which were created by Kishelemukong. The manitowak were venerated in ceremonies, rituals, dreams, visions, games and ohtas (see below), as well as through the interventions of the Metinuwak, who were healers, spiritual and emotional guides, and religious leaders; they could communicate with the manitowak.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Living, as we do, in a time when the 19th and 20th cultures of Brooklyn and Queens are being dismantled and burned away in the crucible of “development,” one has been ruminating of late about the aboriginal cultures which were similarly dismantled by the Manhattan people during earlier eras. The “Lenapehoking” pre conquest era has captured my interest, but I’m dismayed at the primary source materials which I’ve been able to lay my hands on. Unfountuntely, much of the early source material on the subject I’ve scanned propagates the mythology of the “Noble Savage” and what Kipling called “The White Man’s Burden.”

Problem is that almost everything I’ve been able to find on the Lenape – and their various cultural splinters around New York Harbor – was written by the very same people who decimated and conquered them. It’s a bit like reading a Nazi history of the Second World War, or a British history of their empire in the Raj. I’m looking for some guidance on the subject, books to read, scholars to query. I’ve already reached out through my social network to modern day members of the surviving Lenape nation, but that’s a set of relationships I’m just beginning to develop. Any suggestions on “what to read” would be greatly appreciated, if you happen to be clever about the subject, and I’d ask you to share links and suggestions “with the group” by dropping links into the comments link below.

from wikipedia

A noble savage is a literary stock character who embodies the concept of an idealized indigene, outsider, or “other” who has not been “corrupted” by civilization, and therefore symbolizes humanity’s innate goodness. In English, the phrase first appeared in the 17th century in John Dryden’s heroic play The Conquest of Granada (1672), wherein it was used in reference to newly created man. “Savage” at that time could mean “wild beast” as well as “wild man”. The phrase later became identified with the idealized picture of “nature’s gentleman”, which was an aspect of 18th-century sentimentalism.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This line of inquiry was initiated for me by an argument I found myself in with an academic ignoramus who decided to describe the Lenape to an audience of students not too long ago. Her version of the Native Americans of New York Harbor was a composite of Hollywood representations of the Cree and Lakota cultures, which included teepees and solar worship.

I am quite familiar with the Native cultures of northern and central Mexico, as a note. The Mexica – or Aztec – imperial culture of Lake Texcoco is something which I’ve studied in great depth for instance. I can actually offer quotations of Aztec poetry, speak intelligently about their economy and agricultural systems, and have a more than passing knowledge of the complexity of their religious traditions. If the Mexica Triple Alliance Empire – Aztec is a Spanish word – had another hundred years to develop, the Europeans would have encountered an analogue of Cesarean Rome when they landed at Vera Cruz, and the story of the North American continent would have turned out VERY different than it did.

Wisdom of crowds time, lords and ladies – what and who should I be reading?

from wikipedia

The Lenape (/ləˈnɑːpɛ/) are a Native American tribe and First Nations band government. They are also called Delaware Indians and their historical territory included present day New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania along the Delaware River watershed, western Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley.

Most Lenape were pushed out of their homeland during the 18th century by expanding European colonies, exacerbated by losses from intertribal conflicts. Lenape communities were weakened by newly introduced diseases, mainly smallpox, and violent conflict with Europeans. Iroquois people occasionally fought the Lenape. Surviving Lenape moved west into the upper Ohio River basin. The American Revolutionary War and United States’ independence pushed them farther west. In the 1860s, the United States government sent most Lenape remaining in the eastern United States to the Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma and surrounding territory) under the Indian removal policy. In the 21st century, most Lenape now reside in the US state of Oklahoma, with some communities living also in Wisconsin, Ontario (Canada) and in their traditional homelands.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 16, 2016 at 2:00 pm

muffled conversation

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There was quite a hullabaloo, here in Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One received a text from a neighbor on the night of October 30th that there had been a vehicle collision involving the local gendarmes here in Astoria, so I grabbed the camera and headed down to take a look at what happened.

The NYPD unit involved was from the local precinct, the 114,  and they had collided – at speed- with a civilian vehicle at the intersection of 45th street here on Broadway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given that I’m a “yenta” and the whole neighborhood knows it, the neighbors began relating the story to me.

Apparently, the NYPD unit was in one of those big hurries that they periodically display, the kind when they don’t have their sirens or lights on. My understanding is that this is procedure when they’re trying to catch someone surreptitiously by sneaking up on them, or they’re enroute to assist another officer who is in a dicey situation.

Observationally, when Cops blow a light just cause they want to, they perform what could be best described as a rolling stop while doing so. They can also park pretty much anywhere they want to, and I see both as perks.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the local Greeks informed me that he had witnessed the incident. The cops were moving through a red light at the corner of 45th street and Broadway at a considerable velocity when they contacted the front end of a sedan which was proceeding at speed through the green light. They tore the front end of the civilian car up, but neither car’s occupants were seriously hurt. That’s what the Greek guy said.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s the bumper of the sedan, which was being operated by a fairly young guy who had two passengers with him. They were instructed to park around the corner, and seemed – to me at least – as quite anxious. On Broadway itself, there were multiple NYPD people investigating the event. There were ambulances, looking loo civilians like me, and the usual emergency crew that the City’s got.

Of course the three kids were anxious, how would you feel if you had just rammed a cop car?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I ran into a couple of officers from the 114 a couple of days later (long story) and inquired as to the condition and health of their comrades. They informed that the two officers in the unit were fine, but had taken a couple of days off to recuperate nevertheless. No word on the three kids, however.

My personal belief is that all five participants in the accident probably had to go shopping for new underwear.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 11, 2016 at 11:00 am

lustrous balustrade

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A few odds and ends, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

An ex-Cat, this skeleton was observed in Long Island City up on the Montauk Cutoff tracks about a week ago. There were raccoon tracks surrounding it, which probably explains a lot about where the rest of the cat is. Pretty gross shot, I guess, but there’s a whole lot of existential reality all over LIC when you peek into its shadowed places.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A renewal of my previously stated opinion that the 7 line is far and away the most photogenic of NYC’s subways is offered. A comparison to Michelle Pfeifer in the movie “Scarface” would be made, but it’s inappropriate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally, did you know that the “King of Shwarma and Falafel” food truck people have opened a brick and mortar storefront on Astoria’s Broadway at 31st street? Practically under the El? I do, which is why I was waiting for Our Lady of the Pentacle on that instersection recently, and I cracked out this noirish shot of the N/Q stairs to pass the time.

Mmm… Shwarma.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

inhuman squeals

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Shots from Halloween 2016, Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As stated, my plans for Halloween involved taking up station at the neighborhood pub and waving the camera about at people in costumes while Our Lady of the Pentacle and my pal Death handed out candy. This is sort of an annual tradition for us, and for those of you outside of NYC – hereabouts the trick or treaters don’t ring residential door bells for their candy, instead they go from shop to shop along the “commercial” streets like Broadway here in Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow above should have won some sort of award for his pumpkin themed business suit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were a lot of superheroes about. We counted around five Harley Quinn’s, dozens of Batmen, Jokers, and other comic characters. Supergirl was quite popular this year, I’m happy to report.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria goes “all in” on Halloween, whether it be just the kid or her mom too.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s my buddy Death.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Every few minutes, you’d hear bunches of people sighing “awww-wwuuhh.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Some kid’s parents let him buy the inflatable dinosaur suit seen above, which is something I would have sold my soul for when I was 6 or 7.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There were lots of grown ups all done up as well.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Awww-wwuuhh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This kid pretty much won Halloween.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So did these two. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When I pointed the camera at this family, Captain America there jumped right in front of the lens. Great thing about Halloween is hamming it up, I guess.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2016 at 11:00 am

leaden jars

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Failure is often the only option, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been on a holy tear of late on the real estate development and gentrification situation here in Western Queens. I’ve been pissing off a bunch of people I know in government by doing so, and have received the usual “who do you think you are?” accusations and chides. My standard response is “I’m a citizen, and how dare you act like some sort of landed gentry towards me when ultimately all you’ve got is a government job.” It was common sense when I was growing up that taking a government job (as opposed to working for a corporation) was all about the security and pension benefits. What you didn’t get in terms of annual salary today, you’d get back in the long term during retirement. In my neighborhood – DSNY was considered a good career bet, as well as becoming a teacher, as they had the strongest Unions with the best “bennys.” My pal “Special Ed”‘s dad told us all that we should seriously consider becoming court bailiffs.

Of course, that’s my “working class” outlook at work, and back then the gub’mint wasn’t the pathway one took in pursuance of eventually securing a high paid corporate consultancy job.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Something happened during the Bloomberg era, however. “Gubmint” jobs suddenly accrued a new status and the suits from corporate America began to talk about “service.” They took the pay cut, accepted a position at this agency or that, and began applying the rules of business to government policy. Now, don’t get me wrong, these are pretty clever folks and the amount of brain (and Rolodex) power they brought with them to lower Manhattan is impressive. Problem being, they have an inherently profit based modus operandi due to their experiences in the “real world.” The “Gubmint” ain’t supposed to turn a profit.

Thing is, most of these “Gubmint” people aren’t from “here,” and they seem to regard New York City with a thinly veiled disgust.

For example – remember when Dan Doctoroff described the Sunnyside Yards as “a scar” he saw from his office window in Manhattan a couple of years ago? Mr. Doctoroff was born in Newark, but grew up in Birmingham, Michigan and then attended Harvard University. A suburb of Detroit, the demographics of Birmingham are 96% Caucasian (according to the 2000 census), and a mere 1.6% of the population of Birmingham lives below the poverty line. The median income for a household in that city in 2000 was $80,861, and the median income for a family was $110,627. Not exactly East New York, or the South Bronx, or Astoria. Mr. Doctoroff is famously Michael Bloomberg’s right hand man and the fellow who ran Bloomberg LLC while his boss was Mayor, and is accordingly quite affluent. He’s the very definition of the “one percent” and a leading member of the “elite.” I don’t imagine Mr. Doctoroff goes fishing in his penny jar for bagel money when it’s the Thursday before payday, has never had to “borrow from Peter to pay Paul,” or lived in financial fear that the City DOB might impoverish him with an unexpected order to repair or replace his concrete sidewalk.

In other words, what in hell does Dan Doctoroff know about life in working class Queens?

Doctoroff and his cohorts created the term “affordable housing” which the current Mayor has made his own. The question often asked is “affordable by who”? The Citizens Budget Commission boiled that down in this post from last year. The upshot of it is that in order to create this so called “affordable” apartment stock, which is unaffordable to the low income people it’s meant to serve, the rent on “market” rate apartments actually has to go up to cover the cost. This redistribution of wealth hits the middle and working class on two fronts – higher monthly rents, and the application of their tax dollars to subsidize the real estate development which reluctantly includes the so called “affordable” units.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personal experience from having actually grown up in NYC suggests that whomever the politicians and planners set out to “help” end up getting hurt.

Having grown up in what would be considered a “low income” family under modern terms, we members of the Waxman clan migrated to the outer edges of the City (Brooklyn’s Canarsie section) where housing was found that we could afford. That’s where relative affluence and dire poverty comingled, and created a culture. This was possible due to a preexisting infrastructure of subways and highways that allowed egress to and from the commercial center in Manhattan, but there were still plenty of jobs to be had locally. Manufacturing, commercial, shops. If you played your cards right, you could earn a living and never once have to go into the City. That’s changed, and the ongoing loss of this manufacturing and commercial side of the working class economy is excaberated by this affordable housing craze which perceives any large footprint lot as being a potential development site.

If a building went up in the 1970’s or 80’s, which included low income housing, that had a separate entrance or “poor door” there would have been bloody riots.

The reason for that is the City planners and “Gubmint” officialdom were mostly native New Yorkers who lived in and were loyal to the neighborhoods they oversaw, and who understood that “it’s not all about Manhattan.” Doctoroff and his acolytes see the City as the solution and not the problem. The looming infrastructure crisis this rapid development is causing will impoverish the City. A century ago, when the newly consolidated City of Greater New York was being similarly developed – the politicians built the subways and sewers first, then they sold off or awarded the adjoining properties at bargain prices to their cronies like Cord Meyer and Fred Trump.

The infrastructure investments made between 1898 and 1940 allowed NYC to grow beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Unfortunately, these days we are doing the opposite, and allowing the buildings to be erected first. The bill for all of the municipal machinery will come after the population loading is finished.


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