The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Queens’ Category

artisanal hatred

with one comment

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having fairly few tasks at hand the other night, one announced to Our Lady of the Pentacle that a dark light photowalk was in the offing, but that I was going to stay local and would be back in an hour or so. The first rumblings of some viral infection were on the horizon, and I figured that if I didn’t go out for a short walk with the tripod and camera while still relatively well… I would regret it as I suffered through the virus for the next couple of days.

I’m excellent at suffering.

Partially it’s Jewish tradition, this being good at suffering thing. I’m really into the operatic side of it all though. Since I seldom get sick, when I do… it’s pretty bad… so why not wallow in the misery and suffer like a boss?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this neighbor sleeping on a park bench along Northern Blvd. If you not savvy at reading the occluded messaging of NYC’s streets, there’s a whole story at work in this shot which isn’t the “homeless” trope. Those are new, clean clothes on display – which also color match. A newish leather bag was serving as a pillow, and there were no carts of possessions in view. There are three hypotheses which one can offer:

  • One is that this person was tired and needed a quick nap.
  • Two is that this person needed to get out of their domicile, or couldn’t go back to their domicile for some unknown reason.
  • Three is that this person is dead, as I had the shutter open for about thirty seconds and they never moved or twitched.

Whatever the reason, I moved on. If this individual was actually dead, at my age you’d just say “at least it ain’t me,” and get on with it. Which is what I did, as the suffering was beginning to present itself, and the last thing I needed was to explain to a bunch of cops why I was wandering about on Northern Blvd. with a camera, at night, when I had discovered a corpse across the street from Guitar Center.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, I was more than a little bored whilst waiting for the expected suffering to set in, hence a shot of the unbelievable amounts of garbage piled up on and around the corner collection basket on my block.

Notice the sewer in the left side of the shot? I’ll have you know that one of the biggest issues which the DEP (water and sewer) has to deal with is garbage swept into the sewer system. Now, you can’t expect people to change their behavior on this front around Astoria or most of Westrn Queens. A lot of this heap is actually household trash emanating from the hundreds of illegal basement apartments around these parts. If left on the curb in front of an actual address, Sanitation Inspector reports about abundant trash coming from what should be just a two family house will lead DOB (buildings) to investigate and fine the building owner for an illegal conversion and likely put the tenants out on the street. Hence the abundance of household trash at the collection basket, right next to the sewer.

The question I ask continually is “if trash getting swept into the sewers is such a big issue, why does the DSNY (garbage) put the collection bins literally right on top of the sewers?”

I pondered all of this as a semi delirious, painful, and sleep deprived state of suffering set in over the next 48 hours during which I behaved like a total diva.


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Sunday, December 10th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Advertisements

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

systematic collection

with one comment

It’s National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So – last week I had a few things to do over in the Hunters Point section of LIC on a particular afternoon. A short and rapid scuttle ensued, one which saw a humble narrator hurtling south towards Skillman Avenue in a staggering pursuance of arrival in certain points found westwards of the almond eyed Astoria he calls home. Avoidance of perambulatory transit through Queens Plaza has become a “thing” for me, as the alternative route – using Jackson Avenue – is less visually interesting, and is also a somewhat harrowing journey on foot due to omnipresent construction and heavy vehicular activity.

Besides – I have zero opportunity to shoot shots of trains using the Jackson Avenue route, and I know where just about every hole in the fenceline along the Sunnyside Yards can be found. I always advise those dear to me to “stand behind something” while waiting for the traffic signals to change and allow access to cross this Northern Boulevard, I would mention, so in the interest of practicing what I preach – one ducked down and cowered behind a fire hydrant (pictured above). 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

OK – Steinway Street in Astoria is analogous to 39th street in Sunnyside, and the two are connected by one of several truss bridges that span the Sunnyside Yards. It’s actually fairly “good cardio” walking over the 39th street span if you lean into it and push towards the apogee of the thing. At the top of the arch, there’s a worker access road that would carry Amtrak and other railroad employees down into the railyard, and that’s where I spotted a percussionist practicing his craft.

Naturally – One did not wish to interrupt his reverie, so I cannot describe who the fellow was, but he was positively “rocking out.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Observedly – It was a three piece drum set which this gentleman had set up for himself, and despite having noticed a humble narrator photographing him, he never skipped a beat.

Y’know – This sort of drum kit is relatively modern in origin, and whereas it is quite familiar to modern eyes, it was only originated in the 1860’s. It’s called a “trap drum” or “double drumming” kit, and prior to the semi modern era, each one of the instruments on view (base, cymbal, snare) would have required an individual musician to operate. The trap drum innovation was conducive to the development of the musical schools of ragtime, jazz, and rock-n-roll, I’m told.

But – I digress.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Then – Although I wish I could tell you that one got caught up in the wild al fresco rhythms offered by this anonymous percussionist, as mentioned at the top of the post – I had things to do and places to be. Utilizing one of those aforementioned holes big enough to stick a lens through – in the fences of the Sunnyside Yards – and which I keep a constantly updated mental map of, to capture a shot of Amtrak’s Acela train passing through the Harold Interlocking on its way towards Manhattan. It’s the busiest train junction in the United States, actually, the Harold Interlocking. The Mayor wants to build luxury housing upon a deck on top of it. Please vote for someone else today.

Ultimately – I had places to go, and headed west into the setting sun, scuttling along with a camera in hand.


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Sunday, December 10th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 7, 2017 at 11:00 am

centuried landmarks

leave a comment »

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The most consequential historical event of the 20th century in New York State had nothing to do with the building of great bridges, the digging of subway tunnels, nor the forging of business empires. In 1917, precisely one century ago, a seismic struggle that had begun with an upstate tea party in 1848 ended with the passing of a constitutional amendment in our Empire State acknowledging the right to vote for women.

Acknowledge is the correct word, by the way. The Constitution of our State or the Nation “grant” you nothing, they merely concede that individual rights are inherent and inalienable. When you boil it down, that’s the ultimate difference between “right and left” in politics. People on the “right” use the word “grant” whereas the left uses “acknowledge.” Women’s, and ultimately “universal,” suffrage was and is one of the political struggles which you don’t want to be on the wrong side of in the historical record. Women’s suffrage was passed nationally a couple of years later in 1919, and the world has never been the same, in a good way. A plurality of opinion and experience is required to have a functional Republic after all, and every citizen’s voice should carry the same weight whomever they are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also on this day, in 1894, what I refer to as “the great swindle” was voted into law, which resulted in the creation and consolidation of the City of Greater New York in January of 1898. This collossal mistake committed at the end of the 19th century rendered municipal supremacy unto Manhattan and eliminated its competitors in Richmond (Staten Island), Long Island City, and especially Brooklyn. It’s discussed in some detail in this 2011 post.

It’s when the term “Queens” was coined, and when Manhattan began to export its dirty industries, garbage, and sewage to the so called “outer boroughs.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On a lighter note, and given that a humble narrator is deep diving into the recent American history of today’s date, today is the birthday (1854) of the legendary John Philip Sousa. Sousa was known as the “American March King” and pretty much set the compositional and performance standards which American marching bands since him have strived to achieve during parades and public events.

He also invented the Sousaphone, as the name of the musical instrument would imply. His best-known compositions include “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (National March of the United States of America), “Semper Fidelis” (Official March of the United States Marine Corps), and “The Liberty Bell” (which is the opening theme music for Monty Python’s Flying Circus).


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.

Calvary Cemetery Walking Tour, with Atlas Obscura – Sunday, December 10th, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Explore NYC history, hidden inside sculptural monuments and mafioso grave sites, as you take in iconic city views on this walking tour, with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 6, 2017 at 11:00 am

brought about

leave a comment »

It’s National Deviled Egg Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As has become traditional in recent years – on Halloween, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself gather with some friends in front of a local bar here in Astoria and hand out candy to Trick or Treaters.

Well… they hand out candy, I take pictures and drink beer.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Pentacle award for costumery – if there was one – would go to this family, encountered at Socrates Sculpture garden and all done up as characters from the movie “Aliens.” Even their dog was in on the act.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here on the southern side of ancient village of Astoria, along Broadway in the 40’s, Halloween is taken quite seriously by young and old alike. The neighbors go all out.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Over the top, and all out, that is.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

That’s a pal of mine under the makeup, which was creeptastic.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even Hank the elevator guy showed off his latest disguise. As a note, Hank wears masks all year long, whenever the mood strikes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lots of superheroes were floating around Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There was even a gnome or two.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Personally, I really dig the “sugar skull” makeup, and there was a LOT of it to be photographed.


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 2, 2017 at 11:00 am

avian menace

with 4 comments

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a single shot today, depicting a series of CSX locomotive engines which were observed hauling a freight train over the Hell Gate bridge recently. Busy today with developing the shots from Halloween in Astoria, which I hope to be able to show you tomorrow at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 1, 2017 at 1:00 pm

witchcraft panic

leave a comment »

It’s National Caramel Apple Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Rich Melnick is no witch, as far as I know. Instead, Mr. Melnick is instead one of the longstanding leaders of the Greater Astoria Historic Society, a heck of a guy, and last Saturday he performed and presented his “Haunted Waters Tour” along Hells Gate and Hallets Cove here in the ancient village. I hadn’t seen Rich for awhile and since I had my first weekend off in months, decided to tag along. As you can see, Rich pulls a pretty nice crowd. Still, he’s probably not a witch, but if he were that would be ok with me. This is America, after all, and if you want to be a witch, nobody can say “boo” to you. First Ammendment, yo! 

I’ve been on this “Haunted Waters” tour several times, I would mention, and upon my arrival volunteered to act as a second set of tour guide eyes for Mr. Melnick and so I took up a station at the back of the group, sometimes repeating something he had just said for somebody who missed it. While Rich was busy at the front of the group narrating, I helped keep the them from stretching out along multiple blocks, and assisted him with street crossings. Rich didn’t need me of course, but since I was there, why not help out? We’re all one big happy family out here in Western Queens, after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One noticed a couple of strange things over the course of the afternoon, while acting as “sweeper” for this tour of Hells Gate, as Rich Melnick explored and described the long history and fairly macabre lore concerning this riverine section of Astoria. He was discussing the odd history of Hells Gate, when I noticed the coppers were doing their thing.

The NYPD Harbor Unit seemed unusually busy for a Saturday afternoon in late October, and were buzzing around the river a bit, moving back and forth under the two bridges that define the former maelstrom of Hellegaat – as the decadent Dutch of New Amsterdam might have called it. 

There are legends about this spot which suggest that the largest intentional explosion in human history – until the advent of the Atomic Age – which the United States Army Corps of Engineers detonated under the river here at Hells Gate in 1885, was only partially in the name of eliminating the navigational dangers presented by the so called “Bright Passage.” These legends say that there was something else down there, something older than Henry Hudson, Adriaen Block, or even the aboriginal civilization of the Lenape (who avoided this spot like the plague). It was a “something” which the Federal Government saw fit to obliterate, as part of a clandestine nationwide campaign initiated after discoveries of certain conditions in a decayed Massachusetts fishing town – shortly after the Civil War – were revealed to the War Department. The Corps did a LOT of explosives work in the waters all around the northeast between the Civil War and the First World War, all supposedly in the name of “navigational improvements.” 

Yeah, right… pffft.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While Mr. Melnick was telling the tragic tale of the General Slocum disaster, a humble narrator decided to climb around a fenceline in pursuance of getting a shot of the two bridges which wasn’t occluded by foliage. Denied my desire, this red brick structure leading off into the river caught my attentions instead.

All sorts of individuals talk to me, it should be mentioned. 

Cops and robbers, ordained priests and devil worshippers, abolitionists and addicts. I know people who – if they say “run,” you do. I also know those whom “run” is followed by sitting down and asking them what’s wrong and inquiring as to whether or not they’re still “on their meds.” A few of the latter and far more numerous grouping – whom I consider to be “a few steps off the beaten track, and more than most” – have reported to me that they’ve seen man like “things” pulling themselves out of the water here in the dead of night. Fish like and unblinking eyes, accompanied by  an unbelievable stink and dripping with riverine slime – those are the commonalities. One or two highly circumspect witnesses describe these fish or frog men as wearing jewelry and tiaras made out of some queer kind of gold. 

Nonsense, say I, hallucinations arrived at by combining cheap liquor with questionable narcotic powders. Still… I wonder, and more than wonder…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The walk led by Mr. Melnick continued beyond Shore Road and Astoria Park, towards the sub neighborhood known as Old Astoria Village. While passing by an enormous and out of scale apartment house along the route, I noticed the handiwork of the Queens Cobbler. The single shoe phenomena, left behind by a probable serial killer whom I’ve christened as the “Queens Cobbler,” continues to grow in intensity in the area. 

As a note, Rich Melnick didn’t mention any of this to his group, neither the Nest of the Deep Ones which existed at Hell Gate until 1885 nor the reports of their continued occupancy, or the whole Queens Cobbler thing.

That’s because Rich pretty much sticks to a provable and sane version of reality, unlike me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anyway, that’s what I did last Saturday. Today, of course, is Hallomass, or Halloween if you must.

I’ll be in Astoria tonight, sitting outside with Our Lady of the Pentacle at the neighborhood saloon, giving away candy to kids and asking their parents if I can take photos of their costumery for future presentation at this – your Newtown Pentacle. 


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

old diarists

leave a comment »

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “ideation” (if it’s not some vision or prophetic message) came upon me again, the one wherein a humble narrator finds himself moving about and through a city of titanic oozy blocks of elder masonry – dripping with decay – whose ruinous facades nevertheless speak to the former habitancy of some race of giants within it. In these visions that occur when a sudden wave of physical weakness and psychic discohesion overcome a humble narrator – a condition which has recurred daily since childhood – inducing both unconsciousness and an accompanying series of wild hallucinations. One is aware of himself, as a wandering mendicant clad in a filthy black raincoat, lost and wandering along the shadow blasted streets. 

Half remembered snippets of barely realized imagery, sense shattering revelations harvested during these usually nocturnal hallucinatory episodes leave one with a sense of disquiet, even long after awakening from these daily lapses of consciousness. Groggy and congested upon the return of cognizant wakefulness, one will often try to jot down the experience but this is a usually fruitless enterprise. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Towers of cylcopean scope occlude the sky in this place, like daggers thrust violently upwards towards the soft belly of the heavens. The burning thermonuclear eye of God itself hangs wanly above the scene in these hallucinatory visions, irradiating and illuminating the dispossessed, the barren, the broken. Great cylinders rise into the sky, carrying poison effluents, as do enormous concrete and steel waste conduits snake greasily to the surrounding waters of the City. 

All is fouled, filthy, and fecund.

Great metallic insect like things roll about noisily in the open air and and stealthily hidden in burrows beneath the ground, accepting and vomiting forth the fleshy inhabitants of a city of dark secrets both cherished and kept. There is always a sense that the metropolis itself is sentient, an ancient coiling dragon possessed of a macabre sense of humor and dire intent, displaying naught but cynicism and contempt for those who dwell within the subaqueous boundaries of her archipelagic territory. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Disquieted, depressed, and disillusioned – a humble narrator’s dream avatar, wandering about in this shifting miasma of sound and image, found itself entering one the gargantuan metallic centipede “things” and surrendering to its destination. The chromium skin “thing” with the two glowing eyes I boarded was headed for the sclerotic heart of this metropolitan entity, where the psychic power and tumult of the City waxed rather than waned. Horror overtook this alternate reality’s narrator, as realization that the belly of the noisome beast was empty save for himself. 

Was this some sort of snare? A ruse?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As the great centipede picked up speed and hurtled upon its course, observation revealed no other living soul within the segment ahead of mine, and in the segment behind there was similarly no occupation. Panic began to set in, as the disconnect was realized. You are never alone within the belly of this particular beast, after all. Was this charonic conveyance contrived simply to corral and control one such as myself? Producing a pocket tool, attempts were made to extricate, but the great metal beast was held together with some sort of proprietary headed screws which were impossible to budge.

Throwing ones body against both plasticine armored glass or polished metal wall was both futile and somewhat painful. Whatever the sentience of the city wanted of me – or wanted to do to me – acceptance of it was my only option. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A tunnel was entered, and the gargantuan metallic insect thing sped into the gelatinous darkness of the subterrene. Without its metal shell, weird shadowed entities were glimpsed in the tunnel only briefly, but it was enough to drive one into a fit of wild panic. Organisms – both micro and macroscopic – beyond counting have been reported by scientific observers as inhabiting these subterrene bolt holes, punched through the very flesh of this sentient metropolis or “magna mater.” Collectively, these beings are her bridegroom, slithering in and scratching away at her decay in the safety of the dark. It is said that there are things which fester, and crawl, and slither, and even some that walk about on two legs – down there.

It is only when the glowing eyes of the metallic centipede flashes in their direction that can that they can be glimpsed, and even then, only dimly. But… I mean… this was only a vivid hallucination, experienced while passed out… right… I mean… right? A place like this… it cannot be…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Familiar locations were observed in the dreamscape… but the great hurtling metal insect like thing did not stop in them, despite the presence of the City’s loathsomely abundant population therein. This population, disturbingly heterogenous individually – and as a group willfully ignorant of their surrounding, due to a societal preference for staring into small glowing rectangles of handheld polished glass – barely noticed as the centipede thing shot past them. 

None seemed cognizant of a terrified face, nor the panicky pounding of fists on the window being offered by a strange man in a filthy black raincoat, instead preferring to stare blankly at the little slabs of glass that illuminate their faces with a peculiar and quite pale bluish glow. The tunnel ahead swallowed this metallic leviathan one had been trapped in, and the sudden air pressure differential offered by billions of gallons of river water outside the tunnel suddenly caused one’s eardrums to compress. 

This altered the timbre of hearing for that alternate or dream avatar of my own personality, trapped in this lucid landscape of existential dread and daemonic dementia. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One wonders, and more than wonders, if what I remember hearing was more than just a combination of the metallic centipedes many steel feet striking against the tunnel floor, combined with both the scalar reflections of its speedy passage through the tunnel and accompanying atmospheric compression, mixing seamlessly with the rythmic thrumming of my own terrorized pulse which was omnipresent in my ears. 

There should be nothing down there which can speak, in those rock hewn tunnels beneath the river of sound – or East River as it is known in modernity…

There is nothing down there that can speak, damnit… nothing… 

This is not some charnel house of horror, redolent of the foulest abominations of the pit and absent from the sight of the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself, this is… but I heard what I heard… and it deeply struck terror in my quickly beating heart as I began to realize that this was no idle nocturnal vision, but that instead I had been fully awake the whole time. 

“Ia, Ia, shug nigguarth,” the sounds seemed to say, which was followed by “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” 

Then the worst thing of all was vocalized, and the ultimate horrorific revelation arrived, when a voice suddenly said: 

“This train is being held due to Police action, and a sick passenger at Grand Central…”


Upcoming Tours and events

Exploring Long Island City, from Luxury Waterfront to Abandoned Factories Walking Tour,
with NY Adventure Club – Sunday, November 12th, 2:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Long Island City is a tale of two cities; one filled with glittering water-front skyscrapers and manicured parks, and the other, a highly active ground transportation & distribution zone vital to the New York economy — which will prevail? With Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman details here.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 30, 2017 at 1:00 pm

%d bloggers like this: