The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Queens’ Category

ordinary courtship

with 2 comments

It’s National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gaze in awe upon the magnificent spectacle of the incredible Newtown Creek, that lugubrious cataract of urban neglect which doth form the currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens. Not saying how I got this shot, but perhaps in a great and atypical feat of athleticism a humble narrator leaped from one borough to the next. It’s possible.


Upcoming Tours and events

7 Line Centennial Ride, April 21st – TODAY.

With Access Queens and NYC Transit Museum, Free event, except for subway fare – details here.

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 21, 2017 at 11:00 am

atrocious mannerisms

leave a comment »

It’s National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A short one today, captured whilst wandering through the “House of Moses” in Woodside recently. You’re getting shortchanged on the post today, as I need to spend no small amount of time writing a concise series of comments and observations on the history and cultural significance of the IRT Flushing Line instead, for the celebratory events surrounding the centennial of the Corona Extension, which are tomorrow.

Do normal people ever say things like this?


Upcoming Tours and events

7 Line Centennial Ride, April 21st.

With Access Queens and NYC Transit Museum, Free event, except for subway fare – details here.

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm

suitable pressure

with 3 comments

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been “behind the eight ball” of late, as far as getting things done. There’s so much to do and see in Queens, but lately I can’t seem to climb outside the box of obligation which I’ve built for myself. Something as myopic as that previous sentence will sound hilarious to my friends with kids, of course. The truth is that I just can’t seem to get on top of my various deadlines for some reason, and this unpredictable weather pattern we’re in at the moment is “harshing my buzz.”

As a note, there’s a new event that just popped up on the “upcoming tours and events” section today, an event with Access Queens which will be celebrating the centennial of the opening of the “7’s 11” or Corona Extension in 1917. Come with?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor saw Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself celebrating our twentieth wedding anniversary at a rooftop bar and restaurant here in Astoria, and when the sun began to set – the ancient village was cast in a beautiful sculptural light. Long suffering, Our Lady knows that when my head starts twisting around at such moments, and I start fiddling with the controls on the camera, that I need to crack out some shots.

Pictured above is the Triborough and Hell Gate Bridges, as seen from high over Steinway Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On “Astoria Business” notation – I spotted this adorable bit of signage one night while walking my little dog Zuzu. I wish it hadn’t been screwed into the street tree, but there you go. That water main leak I mentioned the other day continues to magnify, despite my urgent warnings to the government officialdom who oversee such things. Accordingly, I’m spending today filling up sandbags and shoring up the levie here at HQ.


Upcoming Tours and events

7 Line Centennial Ride, April 21st.

With Access Queens and NYC Transit Museum, Free event, except for subway fare – details here.

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 19, 2017 at 11:30 am

impecuniuous residue

with 2 comments

It’s National Animal Crackers Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wandering about one recent afternoon, one found himself at the junction – or “angle” as I’ve coined it – between Woodside’s northern boundary, Astoria’s Southeast extent, and might be Jackson Heights’ western edge. Or at least I think that’s how you’d describe the zone found around Northern Blvd.’s intersection with Broadway. Over by the Newtown Creek, I can tell you the exact spot where it stops being LIC and starts being Maspeth, or say categorically where LIC ends and Woodside begins – but it’s these weird border spots – or angles – between the old municipalities where things get hazy. Suffice to say that if your zip code starts with “111” you live in what was once the independent municipality of LIC.

At any rate, I spotted a few cool cars on my walk which I figured I’d show you today. The one above looked to me like it had starred in an action movie and come back worse for wear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a Chevrolet above, whose styling makes me say “early 1960’s” but I’ll be damned if I can tell you exactly what model  or year it is is. It’s definitely been “modded” a bit, owing to the small tires and probable hydraulic shocks of the “LA gangbanger” style. I was more in the “get some exercise” than “photowalk” mode when it was encountered and didn’t really want to break stride to go and read the registration sticker. At the rear fender, there’s a bit of chrome that reads “ss” so maybe that’s a clue for one of your gear heads who might be reading this. 

If you recognize the model, please share with the rest of us in the comments section. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s an Oldsmobile Ninety Eight above, which is likely a “fifth generation” 1957 or 1958 model. They didn’t spell out “ninety eight” until 1958, which is how I can date it. Chevrolet used the numerals “98” instead for the prior models of their luxury models in this line. The “sixth generation” which began to be manufactured in 1959 is an entirely different sort of car with tail fins and a more “modern” profile. As you can see, this old road warrior is in fairly tremulous condition, but the good news is that the auto shop which I spotted it in front of on 32nd avenue specializes in restoring old cars.  


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 18, 2017 at 11:00 am

hushed conversation

with one comment

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lots of odds and ends today. A supposition which opines that I live on the most exciting corner in Astoria continues to play out, as evinced by a deployment of the ever reliable FDNY the other night. It seems that one of the neighbors discerned the olfactory evidence of combustion emerging from a storefront occupied by the local bagel shepherds, which was a report which the FDNY responded to with a fairly large deployment. The fellows on the big red trucks soon determined that this was a false alarm, and it all ended up being just another Astoria hullabaloo. 

My suspicions that I live on the most interesting corner in Astoria will soon bear a different kind of fruit, however, as the trickle of water which I reported to 311 as bubbling out of a manhole cover on the next block – about two weeks ago – has now grown into a small flowing stream. Never quiet – here in Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Hypothetically – due to having had to sign a non disclosure agreement with the State of New York today, one cannot tell you where I am this morning or what I am doing. I am precluded from sharing photographs or discussing my visit to some mysterious location where my camera has been brought to today until some indeterminate time in the future when the embargo on such collected material has been rescinded by NYS officials. There are no specific penalties described for violating this embargo (which is odd), nor was it originally offered with an “expiry” date, which is fairly standard for such situations (an open ended NDA contract for such matters isn’t strictly “kosher” legally, anyway, and there’s also that whole first amendment thing which NYS doesn’t get to suspend). Saying that, a humble narrator made a big stink about the imposition of an open ended image embargo with certain hypothetical people whose offices would be found in some theoretical minor City – which would be found around two hundred miles to the north of the de facto Capitol of New York State at the other end of the Hudson River – and eventually I will be able to describe in some excruciating detail where I went this morning and what I saw at some later date whenever they decide it’s no longer a state secret. 

The photo of the two Kosciuszcko Bridges seen above is merely a decorative addition to this post – filler, if you will – and does not in any way indicate where I am, or what I may be walking upon or over as you’re reading this. The shot was gathered a week ago in Greenpoint, on April 9th, for the legally minded and prosecutorially inclined amongst you. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of the bagel shop which drew the attentions of the FDNY to Astoria one recent night, while waiting for the bagel shepherds to construct a sandwich for me one recent afternoon, one was standing outside in the rain and glowering at passerby when I noticed these two pigeons working a flooded tree pit for bits of food and drinking from the puddles. Our normal flock of pigeons, who live in Astoria in fairly considerable numbers, have lately been harassed by a sudden explosion of super aggressive sparrows. This flock of avian bullies has been chasing the pigeons about, and driving them from their ledges. The Sparrows, on the other hand, have recently begun to be harassed by a bunch of Ravens. The multitudinous Sparrows will be loudly chirping when a single “caw” is sounded, which shuts them all up. Down below, the street cats watch, and wait. Luckily, after the bagel shepherds completed the construction of my sandwich, I was able to remove myself from this internecine urban warfare and return to the tranquil safety of HQ where my little dog Zuzu polices the behavior and habits of all the lower life forms. 

Gang warfare, of the feathered variety, affects us all. It’s best to have an elderly dog around to keep things straight.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

prime exporters

leave a comment »

It’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often, it seems to me that for most of the 20th century New York City waged an unyielding war against the natural environment. The process of city building, of course, has always been a tale of harnessing and controlling nature – but the 20th century in NYC saw something tantamount to a military campaign waged against clean water and air. The highways were driven through wetlands (called waste meadows at the time), and anything that could be plated over in concrete received a few inches of the stuff. Sewage and industrial runoff was channeled directly into waterways like my beloved Newtown Creek, garbage was burned in municipal incinerators or dumped into the ocean, and there doesn’t seem to have been any regard given to the natural world at all other than in the name of conquering it.

What can you do about it, though? This is the world as we received it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a lot of hair pulling and teeth gnashing these days, in government circles, about how to rectify this inheritance. Partially its because the government people have to worry about fiscal responsibility, as related to flooding and storm resilience. It’s also about the fact that scientific opinion now points at the efficacy and effect which a healthy biome has on the welfare and earning potential of the citizenry, and the effect that environmental factors have on the economic prosperity of urban areas. Here, at your Newtown Pentacle – and on my many walking tours of the creeklands – I’ve been known to rattle on about storm water, green roofs, the Maspeth heat island effect, bioswales, and all other the other types of so called “Green Infrastructure” which officialdom has been experimenting with in the attempt to get a handle on this inheritance from earlier generations.

“Gray Infrastructure” is defined as sewer plants, retention tanks, various sorts of concrete structural devices which are found deep below the street – that sort of thing. “Gray” is incredibly expensive, and disruptive to the day to day lives of the citizenry as it disturbs the flow of traffic during construction and also generates noise and dust. “Green” is far cheaper, and uses the mechanisms of nature itself to accomplish the same goal as gray. The corollary of using the “green” approach is that you also get the aesthetic and practical benefits of having vegetation in your neighborhood – trees which shade both buildings and pavement for instance, meaning that summer heatwaves are theoretically less severe in terms of energy costs. Green is a win, win – essentially.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s one of the literally hundreds of outfall pipes you will observe in Long Island City which descend from the elevated highways – in this case an onramp to the Long Island Expressway on Borden Avenue. To my knowledge – there is not a single bridge, elevated highway, or subway in the City of New York which doesn’t ultimately drain into the combined sewer system or – in fact – directly into area waterways. Even the brand spanking new Kosciuszko Bridge that the NYS DOT is building over my beloved Newtown Creek right now will drain into the creek via a system called a “vortex drain.”

This post is not meant as a chide, however, rather it’s meant to point out to anybody in the world of officialdom who might be reading this that there’s a huge opportunity to do something curative around these outfall pipes using the “Green Infrastructure” approach.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That overpass, spillway, and pipe – in this case – are the property of the State government. The drain, sewer, and sidewalk are likely owned by the City government. What if the spillway contained a small rain garden designed to drink up water and catch the trash coming down from the highway? The City wins in not paying fines to the State for clean water violations, and the State solves a problem it caused, and all for the price of a bit of gardening.

These hundreds of outfall pipes and their spillways would make for a brilliant spot to install some of that “Green Infrastructure” mentioned above. As far as maintenance of the installation, local community boards could “adopt” these outfalls and parcel out the care and maintenance duties (trash removal mainly) to their constituent businesses and community organizations (Boy Scouts, Kiwanis clubs, etc.) in the same manner as upstate communities do with the “adopt a highway” program. Win?

What if?


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 12, 2017 at 3:15 pm

poor excuse

with one comment

It’s National Cheese Fondue Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sorry, sorry, sorry – another placeholder post today. Fresh stuff is in the pipes, I promise.


Upcoming Tours and events

First Calvary Cemetery walking tour, May 6th.

With Atlas Obscura’s Obscura Day 2017, Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour – details and tix here.

MAS Janeswalk free walking tour, May 7th.

Visit the new Newtown Creek Alliance/Broadway Stages green roof, and the NCA North Henry Street Project – details and tix here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 11, 2017 at 1:00 pm

%d bloggers like this: