The Newtown Pentacle

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rarest flowers

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A number of “Things to do” have materialized of late, so it is time for your Newtown Pentacle calendar of April events and/or fun things to do.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are a whole lot of things in the planning phases which I can’t tell you about yet, but suffice to say that this should be an amazing summer. Diversions on land and water will soon be announced, including boat tours of Newtown Creek and the greater harbor beyond.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First up, today there will be a protest in Manhattan concerning recent City plans- via

Rally to oppose Thermal “Waste-to-Energy” Facilities

April 9th, 2012

On Monday, April 9th at 10am,  environmental justice groups, environmental organizations, community leaders and elected officials from Brooklyn, the Bronx and Manhattan will rally to oppose the Bloomberg administration’s plan for thermal “Waste-to-Energy” facilities (a.k.a. incinerators). Two of the proposed sites for this facility are on the shores of Newtown Creek, and our communities host 40% of the city’s waste transfer facilities, so we are adding our voice to the cause. Click here for our previous post on the issue, and download two fact sheets on Waste-to-Energy here and here.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Secondly, from

All About Tugs—Inside the Tugboat Industry

Tuesday, April 17 at 6.p.m.

Special evening program will feature documentary films with commentary by tug captains and crew presenting an insider’s look at the tugboat industry—its colorful history, present-day work, and vital importance.

Community Church of New York, 40 East 35th Street, Manhattan

Tickets are $25 ($20 for seniors). They can be purchased at and include a reception with food, beer, wine and other beverages.

New York, NY, April 2, 2012 — Everybody loves tugboats, those iconic little workhorses that push ships ten times their size through narrow waterways and tow barges laden with fuel oil through busy harbors. “It is like the “Little Engine That Could,” or the mouse that pulled the thorn out of the lion’s paw,” said filmmaker Tom Garber, whose documentary, Tugging Through Time: The History of New York Harbor Tugboats, will be featured, The Working Harbor Committee (WHC), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about the history and present-day importance of the Port of New York and New Jersey, is sponsoring the presentation. Since 2002 WHC has taken more than 20,000 people on Hidden Harbor® boat tours to visit behind-the-scenes waterfront places that most people never get the chance to see. “Tugboats are always the biggest hit,” said Captain John Doswell, the organization’s executive director. WHC also runs the annual New York Harbor Tugboat Race. “People always ask what it is like to be on board. Our ‘All About Tugs’ program will answer that question.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Third, also from

Earth Day BYO Picnic Lunch at the Newtown Creek Nature Walk

Sunday, April 22nd at 1 p.m.

Come join in for this casual celebration of the victory that is the Newtown Creek Nature Walk. Bring your own brown bag lunch and join the Newtown Creek champions who worked hard for years to win this unique waterfront park.

Sunday, April 22nd at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Nature Walk between 1pm – 2pm.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Fourth, another NCA event, which I for one am pretty stoked about:

April NCA meeting hosts Dr. Eric Sanderson

April 26, 2012 at 6pm

Ridgewood Democratic Club, 
6070 Putnam Avenue, 
Ridgewood, NY 11385

In addition to important updates from our members – in particular the Bioremedition Workgroup has been very busy! – we will be hosting a special presentation on the “Historical Ecology of Newtown Creek”.

Dr. Eric Sanderson, senior conservation ecologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society and author of “Mannahatta:  A Natural History of New York City” (Abrams, 2009), will describe recent studies of the historical ecology of Newtown Creek, describing the original wetlands, creek channels, topography and vegetation of the area.  He will show a series of 18th and 19th century maps of the watershed of the creek and discuss the process of synthesizing them into an integrated ecological picture that can be used to inform and inspire natural restoration and cultural appreciation of the Newtown Creek watershed.  This work is part of the Welikia Project (, an investigation into the historical ecology of the five boroughs of New York City and surrounding waters.


Obscura Day 2012, Thirteen Steps around Dutch Kills

April 28th, 10 a.m.

Your humble narrator will be narrating humbly at this year’s Obscura Day event on April 28th, leading a walking tour of Dutch Kills. The tour is already half booked up, and as I’m just announcing it, grab your tickets while you can.

“Found less than one mile from the East River, Dutch Kills is home to four movable (and one fixed span) bridges, including one of only two retractible bridges remaining in New York City. Dutch Kills is considered to be the central artery of industrial Long Island City and is ringed with enormous factory buildings, titan rail yards — it’s where the industrial revolution actually happened. Bring your camera, as the tour will be revealing an incredible landscape along this section of the troubled Newtown Creek Watershed.”

For tickets and full details, click here :

Things To Do!!!

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Mr. Kevin Walsh, supreme and unyielding webmaster of the intrepid will be teaming up with Richard Melnick of the Greater Astoria Historical Society for a walking tour of Skillman Avenue, a street which begins in Long Island City at 49th avenue and ends in Woodside at Roosevelt Avenue. Your humble narrator will be along for the trip, and has been busy producing the snazzy collateral booklet for the trip, and folks- this one is a visual feast.

Photography enthusiasts will find themselves especially pleased, as will the general antiquarian community, as we move through a fast moving and epic landscape crowded with the sky flung monumental relics of an industrial revolution.

Trace the history of Queens from a civil war era rail road station, stagger through the mighty Degnon Terminal, marvel at the titan Sunnyside Yards, and experience the pastoral glories of entering the Sunnyside- all in under 3 miles on Saturday, April 16th at 11:30AM.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The price of this tour, and one just might think of it as tuition, for time spent with Mr. Walsh and Mr. Melnick often leaves one with the sense of having attended a scholarly dissertation- will be $25. This relative pittance, however, includes the price of an informative and handsome BW booklet written by Mr. Walsh and illustrated with photography whose odd style would be familiar to regular readers of this- your Newtown Pentacle.

The intended route is detailed here, or visit Forgotten-NY’s tour page here.

As mentioned, Mr. Melnick of the Greater Astoria Historical Society will be assisting Mr. Walsh, and has vouchsafed a discount of some 20% for the existing members of his esteemed group, bringing the price to a mere $20.

Happy Candlemas

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The wheel of the year turns and turns, and the foul weather being suffered by the Lords and Ladies of the Pentacle this day is actually a good thing- for it means that the hag Cailleach Bheur sleeps rather than gathering more firewood to outlast the winter. As is the case with several of these ancient calendrical milestones (November 1st for instance), February 2nd seems to be one of those special dates on which things just seem to happen.

Today, after all, is the anniversary of New Amsterdam gaining “municipal rights” from its degenerate Dutch masters in 1653– the day that a colony became incorporated as “The City” and the seedling megalopolis was established.

from wikipedia

Candlemas occurs 39 days after Christmas.

Traditionally the Western term “Candlemas” (or Candle Mass) referred to the practice whereby a priest on February 2 blessed beeswax candles for use throughout the year, some of which were distributed to the faithful for use in the home. In Poland the feast is called Święto Matki Bożej Gromnicznej (Święto, “Holiday” + Matka Boska, “Mother of God” + Gromnica, “Thunder”). This name refers to the candles that are blessed on this day and called gromnicy, since these candles are lit during (thunder) storms and placed in windows to ward off the storm.

Within the Roman Catholic Church, since the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council, this feast has been referred to as the Feast of Presentation of the Lord, with references to candles and the purification of Mary de-emphasised in favor of the Prophecy of Simeon the Righteous. Pope John Paul II connected the feast day with the renewal of religious vows.

According to over eight centuries of tradition, the swaddling clothes that baby Jesus wore during the presentation at the Temple are kept in Dubrovnik Cathedral, Croatia.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Today is the day that the Germans finally threw in the towel at Stalingrad in 1943, the anniversary of the opening of Grand Central Terminal in 1913, and the day that Sid Vicious died in 1979.

It’s also Groundhog day, of course, which is the modern enactment of certain more… ancient rites.

from wikipedia

Imbolc (also Imbolg or Oimelc), or St Brigid’s Day (Scots Gaelic Là Fhèill Brìghde, Irish Lá Fhéile Bríde, the feast day of St. Brigid), is an Irish festival marking the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is celebrated on February 1 or 2 (or February 12, according to the Old Calendar), which falls halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox in the northern hemisphere.

The festival was observed in Gaelic Ireland during the Middle Ages. Reference to Imbolc is made in Irish mythology, in the Tochmarc Emire of the Ulster Cycle. Imbolc was one of the four cross-quarter days referred to in Irish mythology, the others being Beltane, Lughnasadh and Samhain. It has been suggested that it was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brigid, who was later Christianised as St. Brigid.

In the 20th century, Imbolc was resurrected as a religious festival in Neopaganism, specifically in Wicca, Neo-druidry and Celtic reconstructionism.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 2, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Why I hate Ms. Heather

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

God damn that genius monkey in Greenpoint, she got here before me. The brilliant, prolific, and blazing Ms. Heather of NY Shitty beat me to this location, AND, she worked the same “angle” on it that I was going to use, months before I even found the place.

If you aren’t familiar with nyshitty’s world of North Brooklyn, the incisive sartorial “eye”, that unique sense of humor- you must live in Manhattan or something.

I found this place in on Vandam Street in Blissville, while on my way to the haunting elevations of First Calvary one fine afternoon, and started shooting.

My, what a wonderful posting this will make, muttered your humble narrator to himself. He forgot about the way that Ms. Heather kicks ass, every day.


If you disagree with anything I have posted, wish to correct something I might have overlooked and/or fudged; or simply want to chime in I’m all for it. In fact, I encourage this. I want this site to be a public forum where north Brooklynites and New York Shittites (if not in locality, at heart) can talk shop. Respectfully.

Terse and even downright angry is acceptable. What I will not tolerate is abuse. Be it directed at me or other commenters. In other words, if what you have in mind has an “ism” to describe it don’t bother. I won’t approve it.

The more surly and self-righteous among you might decry this as a denial of your “free speech”. It isn’t. This web site is powered by free speech. My free speech. If you have something you want to say so badly that is circumscribed by my (albeit vague) terms of use, start your own blog. It’s your right too. Go for it.

Otherwise, I look forward to hearing from you!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Brooklyn Vault Light Co., with an address?

Easy post, and it will make the lords and ladies believe my personal mythology of “omniscient and timeless wisdom” when I reveal a forgotten industrial corridor to them. Oh, how wise will I seem.

Then… I get back to Newtown Pentacle HQ here in fuligin haired Astoria and begin my researches, and discover that the thrice damned Ms. Heather presented this location- and its associated history- in a concise and attractive post well before I had even found the site.

How does she do it? Relentless, she is like an ocean- tidal, ever present, timeless.


The accounts of Greenpoint life that make up most of New York Shitty aren’t all as negative as the name implies. “It was initially premised on the dog-shit problem in my community,” Miss Heather tells us. “I reached my breaking point one day when I was coming home from the Franklin Corner Store laden with bags of groceries. I was literally dodging dog bombs every two or three feet.”

Her first public service when she started New York Shitty in 2006 was a series of “Crap Maps” of the Brooklyn neighborhood where she’s lived for 10 years. Then, she says, “something happened I could never have anticipated: People started paying attention.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All I can tell you, gentle readers, is that to learn the tale of this iron lid and the meaning of its enigmatic typography- you must visit her and know her wisdom- click here.

I would also mention that I’m kind of a gigantic fan of Chez Shitty, in case you haven’t put that together yet. If you’re not- you should be.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 16, 2010 at 12:15 am

One of those days

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

March 25th… this is one of those days on which a random series of events lend the day a sense of odd concurrence and portentous destiny. Cherry picking any series of historical events in the name of stitching together a narrative is an easy thing to do, and its best practice is expressed by the art of propaganda. Certain patterns, moments of causality and traditional celebration, however, do seem to cluster around parts of the year. Equinoxes or traditional holidays that transcend temporal distance and cultural extinctions, the remarkable October 31Nov. 2 period, the end of december and first week of january, middle-late march, and the last week of august all have long chains of historical events that coincide with ancient Roman feast days- which were post modern celebrations of antiquity even in their own time.

from wikipedia

At an equinox, the Sun is at one of two opposite points on the celestial sphere where the celestial equator (i.e. declination 0) and ecliptic intersect. These points of intersection are called equinoctial points: the vernal point and the autumnal point. By extension, the term equinox may denote an equinoctial point.

An equinox happens each year at two specific moments in time (rather than two whole days), when there is a location on the Earth’s equator where the centre of the Sun can be observed to be vertically overhead, occurring around March 20/21 and September 22/23 each year.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Roman feast of Hilaria Matris Deûm (honoring Cybele) fell to it’s apex today, and of course its the Christian Feast of the Anunciation, and the British Empire legally abolished the Slave Trade on March 25 in 1807.

Today is also the anniversary of the 1947 Centralia Mine disaster (a seminal moment in the history of the American Labor movement), the Rev. Martin Luther King’s 3rd march on the state capitol in Montgomery, and closer to home- it’s the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire which happened in 1911.

from wikipedia

The Annunciation is the Christian celebration of the announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel that she would become the Theotokos (God-bearer). Even though a virgin, Mary would conceive a child who would be the Son of God. Gabriel told Mary to name her son Jesus (“Yahweh delivers”). Most of Christianity observes this event with the Feast of the Annunciation on 25 March.

According to the Bible, the Annunciation occurred in “the sixth month” of Elizabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:26) with the child who would become known as John the Baptist. This celebration of Jesus′ incarnation falls nine months before that of his Nativity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Deep in our colonial past, prior to 1752- in fact all across the early British Empire – March 25th was actually New Year’s Day. Commonly called Lady’s Day, it dates from the days of the Julian Calendar, which was established by Caesar.

from wikipedia

The logic of using Lady Day as the start of the year is that it roughly coincides with Equinox (when the length of day and night is equal) and it is worthy to note many ancient cultures still utilse this time frame as the start of the new year, for example Iranian new year. In some traditions it also reckons years A.D. from the moment of the Annunciation, which is considered to take place at the moment of the conception of Jesus at the Annunciation rather than at the moment of his birth at Christmas.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 25, 2010 at 12:12 am

Posted in linkage, Photowalks, Pickman

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