The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for the ‘Ravenswood’ Category

burying dust

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Ferry rides never get old, man.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wednesday last, one spent the late afternoon riding around on a couple of the NYC Ferry system’s routes. My desire was to freshen up my recollections for this Saturday’s tour, which will play out on the Soundview route. To get from “A” to “M,” the Astoria line was accessed at Hallet’s Cove nearby the NYCHA Astoria houses. This particular line’s terminal stop is at the location above, then it stops at the east side of Roosevelt Island beneath the Queensboro Bridge, LIC North nearby Anable Basin, 34th street in the City, a new stop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard has just been added, and then it proceeds to Pier 11/Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. If you time it right, and I did, a free transfer is available to the Soundview line which carries you up to the Bronx.

There’s all sorts of amenity and inducement onboard to encourage the comfort of riders, but for me, the NYC Ferry is a cheap way to offer my camera a weapons platform for remote deployments. Pictured above are the Roosevelt Island Bridge and a section fo the Big Allis power plant in Queens’ Ravenswood section.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The view from the Brooklyn Navy Yard is offered above.

As of right now, it doesn’t look like the sort of boat tours which I’ve normally offered and or participated in during the last ten summers will be possible. The popularity of the NYC Ferry during the summer months has seen the service reserving or leasing every single boat in NY Harbor to buttress their own fleet, and its “taken the air out” of the rental boat market. There’s still plenty of higher end vessels you can hire, but they are either too large and expensively risky – Circleline, for instance – or are floating catering halls which are far too slow and costly. There’s also a few vessels which are just out of my price range, or would necessitate ticket prices that are stratospheric.

It’s funny, actually. What my friends and I have been advocating for over the last decade (and change) has come to pass. New Yorkers are once again embracing their waterways, and using maritime transit to get around. There’s no shortage of “normal people” advocating for waterfront access these days, not just us “harbor rats,” and there’s so many people paddling around in kayaks and canoes that it’s actually become quite crowded in certain parts of the harbor. Imagine that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here’s something I’ve learned over the last decade, take it for what it’s worth.

In the world of “tours,” you’ve got a couple of basic delineations; vehicle tours, site tours, walking tours. My pals at Turnstile Tours, who essentially have a franchise at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, offer the very definition of “site tours.” The folks who do the Grand Central Station tours also do “site tours,” or the extremely successful Empire State Building operation. That’s when you’ve got exclusive access to a particular place. Walking tours, which I offer regularly during the summer months, follow a particular route that expresses a certain narrative or story. Vehicle tours take a variety of forms, from the bus operations that feed off the tourist trade in Manhattan to CircleLine or even the sort of boat tours which I usually offer during the summer months that go to some out of the way but interesting place like Port Newark or Newtown Creek.

Then, there’s the “subway tour,” which take advantage of preexisting transit infrastructure to cover a large distance quickly. The NYC Ferry tour I’m conducting tomorrow, links below, will follow the model of a subway tour. If it works out, and so far there’s been quite a lot of interest in this one, I’m planning on doing more of them on the less travelled routes. The Rockaway line, for instance, is far too popular to even consider doing one during the summer months.

There’s just so much to see and talk about on the Soundview and Astoria lines, it boggles the mind.


Upcoming Tours and Events

June 15th – Exploring the East River,

From General Slocum Disaster to Abandoned Islands – with NY Adventure Club.

June 15th is one of those days in NYC history. In 1904, more than a thousand people boarded a boat in lower Manhattan, heading for a church picnic on Long Island — only 321 of them would return. This is the story of the General Slocum disaster, and how New York Harbor, the ferry industry, and a community were forever altered.

Join New York Adventure Club for a two-part aquatic adventure as we explore the General Slocum disaster, and historic sights and stories along the East River, all by NYC Ferry.

Tickets and more details
here.


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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 14, 2019 at 1:30 pm

assented without

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Color, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst wandering about the ruined flood plains of Ravenswood, here in Queens, one encountered this lot of out of service Taxi Cabs. As it was one of those rare days where the gloom had cleared away and allowed the warming emanations of the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself to shine down upon the concrete devastations, some effort was expelled in attempting to capture the scene in all of its chromatic splendor.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There is, soon to be was, a huge Taxi industry footprint in LIC.

This is just north of Queens Plaza, btw, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the area. These cabs all seemed to be missing “something.” Most of them had no roof lights, some were missing the “trade dress” stickers, and none of them were adorned with the valuable medallion indicating that they are licensed and ready for business. The area surrounding this lot is full of body shops, garages, and mechanic shops. There’s also a lot of taxi meter shops in the near vicinity.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst shooting these, the question “hey, what are you taking pictures of” came floating by from across the street, offered in a heavily accented voice. Again and again, I get asked this question is alarmed and defensive tones. Nobody notices the millions of smartphone cameras which seem to be at work, but the DSLR always gains the notice of someone who is somehow threatened by the idea that a photo is being captured. Funny thing is, if I was really looking to screw someone over by capturing some sort of incriminating shot, I would do it “cop style” with a long lens from a couple of blocks away – not with a wide angle lens while hanging over a fence.

Dichotomy, this.

Big announcements coming on Monday, so enjoy your holiday, Lords and Ladies.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 3, 2015 at 11:33 am

unseeing eyes

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Roosevelt Island, in today’s Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The path of penitence and perdition once led inexorably to Welfare Island, where Nellie Bly spent ten days in a mad house. Here in the Ravenswood section of Queens, the mad cries of a thousand lunatics once carried across the East River from a nearby East River island, which was once known as Blackwells and later as Roosevelt. A prisoner created cacophony of hammers striking rocks provided a rhythm for the screamers, as did the sound of the work mills operated by mission orphanages and municipal poor houses.

Today, one can merely walk, drive, or bike over the Roosevelt Island Bridge, eschewing any of the water borne transportation options once offered exclusively by Policemen and NYS mental health officials.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My purpose in visiting the island is discussed over at my Brownstoner column today, although the subject of that post is not the only reason that a humble narrator journeyed here. Paranoid wonderings about the true nature of those little metal and or plastic cuffs on the ends of shoe laces notwithstanding (they are called Aglets, by the way, and their purpose is sinister), one had elected to visit the fairly new FDR Four Freedoms Park. As my walking tour schedule and obligations for 2014 have been fulfilled – my weekends are mine to do with as I wish once more so off a humble narrator shambled.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Perambulation to and onto Roosevelt Island, due to the multiple inborn flaws and infirmities (as caused by degenerate behavior, an atavist outlook, and or certain weaknesses of character and constitution that can be described as constituting a disease process) which afflict one’s constitution, was quickly achieved but soon degenerated into a weak gait which might only be called a “scuttle.” The long periods of physical inactivity, brought on by a recent spate of storms and unstopping rain, seem to have sapped ones endurance and stamina. Perhaps, local honey would help.

Accordingly, a thoughtfully placed wall was leaned upon, and the shot above was captured. That’s Big Allis across the river, over in Ravenswood.

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Project Firebox 27

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Ninth Street in Ravenswood lurks this minaret of scarlet assurance, a lonely and stalwart island of municipal succor in an dark and industrial sea of factory and warehouses. Curiously noble, it stands astride 35th Avenue.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 7, 2012 at 12:15 am

Project Firebox 24

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

On the corner of Vernon Avenue at 38th, in venerable Ravenswood, stands this soldier of the city.

Clearly overburdened by duty, task, and “what could happen”- it nevertheless stands a lonely vigil as the throbbing harmonics of Big Allis wash over and through it.

What sights has it known, here in the fortress neighborhood of western Queens, and what stories might it tell?

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 27, 2011 at 2:53 pm

such a sight

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies for the dire tone of today’s post, this is the sort of narrative which Our Lady of the Pentacle usually asks me to pass her the hemlock following recitation, but I’m in a mood.

Knowledge of what might occur or exist behind these stout walls in Ravenswood, and the dire truth of what it might be that they guard against is strictly forbidden. The very pavement which provides a pedestrian path alongside these sky flung ribbons of masonry is delineated with the property line of the facility. Private security guards patrol in merciless boredom, watching for the itinerant photographer who might stray too close to this line.

In an age of terror, curiosity is an esoteric and questionable trait.

from wikipedia

Esotericism or Esoterism signifies the holding of esoteric opinions or beliefs, that is, ideas preserved or understood by a small group or those specially initiated, or of rare or unusual interest. The term derives from the Greek ἐσωτερικός (esôterikos), a compound of ἔσω (esô): “within”, thus “pertaining to the more inward”, mystic. Its antonym is “exoteric”.
The term can also refer to the academic study of esoteric religious movements and philosophies, or more generally of alternative or marginalized religious movements or philosophies whose proponents distinguish their beliefs, practices, and experiences from mainstream institutionalized traditions.

Examples of esoteric religious movements and philosophies include Alchemy, Astrology, Anthroposophy, Christian mysticism, Magic, Mesmerism, Rosicrucianism, Swedenborgianism, Spiritualism, the Christian Theosophy of Jacob Böhme and his followers, and the theosophical currents associated with Helena Blavatsky and her followers. There are competing views regarding the common traits uniting these currents, not all of which involve “inwardness”, mystery, occultism or secrecy as a crucial trait.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Angry and pessimistic, your humble narrator fears not, simply because the cosmos manifests and organizes itself in wild chaotics which are beyond all ability to predict or control. Comfort is found in a simple credo of “there is no “then”, there is no “future”, there is only “now”.” Tomorrow might bring a megatsunami or asteroid hit, or a simple infection whose result resolves lethally.

If one was to consider all the possible distopian end states of our civilization with clear eyed rationalism, it would engender longing for a new dark age of blissful ignorance.

from wikipedia

This is the argument that technological civilizations may usually or invariably destroy themselves before or shortly after developing radio or space flight technology. Possible means of annihilation include nuclear war, biological warfare or accidental contamination, nanotechnological catastrophe, ill-advised physics experiments, a badly programmed super-intelligence, or a Malthusian catastrophe after the deterioration of a planet’s ecosphere. This general theme is explored both in fiction and in mainstream scientific theorizing. Indeed, there are probabilistic arguments which suggest that human extinction may occur sooner rather than later. In 1966 Sagan and Shklovskii suggested that technological civilizations will either tend to destroy themselves within a century of developing interstellar communicative capability or master their self-destructive tendencies and survive for billion-year timescales. Self-annihilation may also be viewed in terms of thermodynamics: insofar as life is an ordered system that can sustain itself against the tendency to disorder, the “external transmission” or interstellar communicative phase may be the point at which the system becomes unstable and self-destructs.

From a Darwinian perspective, self-destruction would be a paradoxical outcome of evolutionary success. The evolutionary psychology that developed during the competition for scarce resources over the course of human evolution has left the species subject to aggressive, instinctual drives. These compel humanity to consume resources, extend longevity, and to reproduce—in part, the very motives that led to the development of technological society. It seems likely that intelligent extraterrestrial life would evolve in a similar fashion and thus face the same possibility of self-destruction. And yet, to provide a good answer to Fermi’s Question, self-destruction by technological species would have to be a near universal occurrence.

This argument does not require the civilization to entirely self-destruct, only to become once again non-technological. In other ways it could persist and even thrive according to evolutionary standards, which postulate producing offspring as the sole goal of life—not “progress”, be it in terms of technology or even intelligence.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Childishly, one attempts to explain away the inherited guilt of a thousand generations with the declaration of personal innocence as if some sort of absolution actually mattered. Fate is not malleable, and one born to be king will rule in luxury while those others born to labor will toil and sweat in Malthusian dross.

That thing which might exist at the summit of the sapphire megalith, which does not think or breathe but eternally hungers as it gazes down upon men, finds our antics both humorous and quite profitable.

from wikipedia

Predestination is the Divine foreordaining or foreknowledge of all that will happen; with regard to the salvation of some and not others. It has been particularly associated with the teachings of John Calvin. Predestination may sometimes be used to refer to other, materialistic, spiritualist, non-theistic or polytheistic ideas of determinism, destiny, fate, doom, or adrsta. Such beliefs or philosophical systems may hold that any outcome is finally determined by the complex interaction of multiple, possibly immanent, possibly impersonal, possibly equal forces, rather than the issue of a Creator’s conscious choice.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Civilizations under threat typically react to existential terror by crafting novel mythologies about Doomsday, populating their nightmares with demonic entity and barbarian horde. Vast sums are spent on throwing up city walls, procuring the services of night watch and city guard, and armoring vital infrastructure against the attentions of barbarian sappers. Paranoid imaginings, colored by the capability and abilities of the threatened culture, place god like powers in the hands of bogeymen. In our own age, it is supposed that the esoteric weaponry achieved by the vast industrial power of superstates can be cobbled together with grocery store items and incomplete scientific formulae downloaded from dubious sources.

As always, the true threat comes from within, and it is the product of isolated fear, paranoid loneliness, and economic doldrums. (If you believe in suitcase atomics, you know very little about nuclear weapons, and I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn that’s for sale)

from wikipedia

In Norse mythology, Ragnarök (Old Norse “final destiny of the gods”) is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures (including the gods Odin, Thor, Týr, Freyr, Heimdall, and Loki), the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterward, the world will resurface anew and fertile, the surviving and reborn gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors. Ragnarök is an important event in the Norse canon, and has been the subject of scholarly discourse and theory.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Race, ethnicity, and class have always been the fifth column in the American superstate- but a new and far more dangerous force now rages across the nation. Like scavengers biting at the heels of a wounded elephant, the demands of the quarterly profit report and the galvanizing competition of foreign nations has caused the financial industries of our nation to anatomize the American industrial base and render us a nation of waitresses and waiters.

Race and ethnicity are unimportant again, the only color anyone sees any more is green- whether it be rightist profiteering or amorphous leftist societal engineering.

from wikipedia

The terms ethnicity and ethnic group are derived from the Greek word ἔθνος ethnos, normally translated as “nation”. The terms refer currently to people thought to have common ancestry who share a distinctive culture.

Herodotus is the first who stated the main characteristics of ethnicity in the 5th century BCE, with his famous account of what defines Greek identity, where he lists kinship (Greek: ὅμαιμον – homaimon, “of the same blood”), language (Greek: ὁμόγλωσσον – homoglōsson, “speaking the same language”, cults and customs (Greek: ὁμότροπον – homotropon, “of the same habits or life”).

The term “ethnic” and related forms from the 14th through the middle of the 19th century CE were used in English in the meaning of “pagan, heathen”, as ethnikos (Greek: ἐθνικός, literally “national”) was used as the LXX translation of Hebrew goyim “the nations, non-Hebrews, non-Jews”.

The modern meaning emerged in the mid 19th century and expresses the notion of “a people” or “a nation”. The term ethnicity is of 20th century coinage, attested from the 1950s. The term nationality depending on context may either be used synonymously with ethnicity, or synonymously with citizenship (in a sovereign state).

The modern usage of “ethnic group” further came to reflect the different kinds of encounters industrialised states have had with external groups, such as immigrants and indigenous peoples; “ethnic” thus came to stand in opposition to “national”, to refer to people with distinct cultural identities who, through migration or conquest, had become subject to a state or “nation” with a different cultural mainstream. — with the first usage of the term ethnic group in 1935, and entering the Oxford English Dictionary in 1972.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The risks of living in the scientific era are many. The long comfortable childhood of religious fervor and spiritual ecstasy enjoyed by mankind has at long last begun to give way to prosaic logic and motivated self interest. The vast ennui commented on by Sartre and others in the years following the 2nd phase of the 20th centuries “Thirty Years War”, a vague sense that the Hiroshima bomb signaled the death of God itself and ignited the spiritual longings for times gone by and gnostic interests which have come to be known as “New Age” is the rallying cry for the religious ecstatics who populate and color modern discourse.

The Wahabbi is not so different from the fundamentalist Christian or the Hasidic Jew in terms of clinging to orthodox familiarity in the hope of returning to some mythical age of holy splendor. They’re willing to take the air conditioning and cell phones, fly on intercontinental jets, and use the Internet- but are unwilling to swallow the truth that these manifest technologies represent. You can’t cherry pick scientific fact, and cafeteria empiricism is as unctuous to me as similar approaches to Catholicism or Jewry are to adherents of those belief systems.

Of course- they’ve got angels, I’ve got the Hydrogen bomb to believe in.

from wikipedia

Historian Jacques Barzun termed science “a faith as fanatical as any in history” and warned against the use of scientific thought to suppress considerations of meaning as integral to human existence. Many recent thinkers, such as Carolyn Merchant, Theodor Adorno and E. F. Schumacher considered that the 17th century scientific revolution shifted science from a focus on understanding nature, or wisdom, to a focus on manipulating nature, i.e. power, and that science’s emphasis on manipulating nature leads it inevitably to manipulate people, as well. Science’s focus on quantitative measures has led to critiques that it is unable to recognize important qualitative aspects of the world.

Philosopher of science Paul K Feyerabend advanced the idea of epistemological anarchism, which holds that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge, and that the idea that science can or should operate according to universal and fixed rules is unrealistic, pernicious and detrimental to science itself. Feyerabend advocates treating science as an ideology alongside others such as religion, magic and mythology, and considers the dominance of science in society authoritarian and unjustified. He also contended (along with Imre Lakatos) that the demarcation problem of distinguishing science from pseudoscience on objective grounds is not possible and thus fatal to the notion of science running according to fixed, universal rules.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such thoughts are the reason why the long walks with my camera are best performed alone, for these are the sort of things that occupy my thoughts while perambulating the concrete realities of western Queens and the larger Newtown Pentacle. Notions of self importance and aggrandizement fall by the wayside when one witnesses Lindethal’s bridge with it’s double cantilevers, or the ruins of the centuried terracotta house on Vernon. The shoulders of giants are what we stand upon, as we gaze suspiciously at each other.

Btw, I got scooped on the revelation of the exquisite and baroque details of the Terracotta House being revealed, check out sugarnthunder.com for their far more timely set of images and comments.

from wikipedia

The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religion differs from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions have organized behaviors, including clerical hierarchies, a definition of what constitutes adherence or membership, congregations of laity, regular meetings or services for the purposes of veneration of a deity or for prayer, holy places (either natural or architectural), and/or scriptures. The practice of a religion may also include sermons, commemoration of the activities of a god or gods, sacrifices, festivals, feasts, trance, initiations, funerary services, matrimonial services, meditation, music, art, dance, public service, or other aspects of human culture.

The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religions place an emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus on the subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities of the religious community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing their laws and cosmology to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practiced only by a closely defined or localized group. In many places religion has been associated with public institutions such as education, hospitals, the family, government, and political hierarchies.

down interminably

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

A recent walk through Ravenswood, which is an ancient neighborhood found on the industrial western coastline of Queens, left an impression that the place has been undergoing some sort of siege for an interminable period. High masonry walls with imposing fences and warnings of 24 hour video surveillance admonish the passerby. At the crown of every barrier or at the angled corners of buildings one observes the “devil’s rope” with its wired barbs and razor edges. Everywhere dogs slaver at the end of long chains, hungering for delight.

What happens around here at night, which has made such armoring necessary, one is forced to wonder.

from barbwiremuseum.com

THE INVENTION OF BARBED WIRE

Joseph F. Glidden of Dekalb, Illinois attended a county fair where he observed a demonstration of a wooden rail with sharp nails protruding along its sides, hanging inside a smooth wire fence. This inspired him to invent and patent a successful barbed wire in the form we recognize today. Glidden fashioned barbs on an improvised coffee bean grinder, placed them at intervals along a smooth wire, and twisted another wire around the first to hold the barbs in a fixed position.

THE BARBED WIRE BOOM

The advent of Glidden’s successful invention set off a creative frenzy that eventually produced over 570 barbed wire patents. It also set the stage for a three-year legal battle over the rights to these patents.

THE FATHER OF BARBED WIRE

When the legal battles were over, Joseph Glidden was declared the winner and the Father of Barbed Wire. The aftermath forced many companies to merge facilities or sell their patent rights to the large wire and steel companies.

ACCEPTING THE DEVIL’S ROPE

When livestock encountered barbed wire for the first time, it was usually a painful experience. The injuries provided sufficient reason for the public to protest its use. Religious groups called it “the work of the devil,” or “The Devil’s Rope” and demanded removal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Take this snazzy little number, occupying a 2,500 square foot lot, the dwelling offers a princely 1,250 square feet of living space, 2 parking spots, and it’s historic.

It has a long history in Ravenswood- this structure was built all the way back in 1927, before Big Allis or the Roosevelt Island Bridge. When it went up, along with the rest of 9th street, this was the border of sanity and wholesomeness. Next stop after Ravenswood were the asylums and orphanages of Blackwell’s Island (now Roosevelt Island).

Futilely have I sought tales of escaped lunatics swimming here during escape attempts, but I’m certain that in 1927, the communal sounds of lament and madness would have been omnipresent.

from wikipedia

  • 1637 – Dutch Governor Wouter Van Twiller first purchases the island, then known as Hog Island, from the Canarsie Indians
  • 1666 – After the English defeat the Dutch, Captain John Manning seizes the island, which becomes known as Manning’s Island.
  • 1686 – Manning’s son-in-law, Robert Blackwell, becomes the island’s new owner and namesake
  • 1796 – Blackwell’s great-grandson Jacob Blackwell constructs the Blackwell House, the island’s oldest landmark, New York City’s sixth oldest house and one of the city’s few remaining examples of 18th-century architecture
  • 1828 – the City of New York purchases the island for $32,000
  • 1832 – The city erects a penitentiary on the island.
  • 1839 – The New York City Lunatic Asylum opens, including the Octagon Tower, still standing. The Asylum, which was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis, at one point holds 1,700 inmates, twice its designed capacity.
  • 1852 – A workhouse is built on the island to hold petty violators in 220 cells.
  • 1856 – The Smallpox Hospital, designed by James Renwick Jr. opens; later, when it falls into disrepair, it will be known as the “Renwick Ruin”
  • 1858 – The Asylum burns down, and is rebuilt in the same location.
  • 1872 -The Blackwell Island Light, a 50-foot (15 m) Gothic style lighthouse now on the National Register of Historic Places, is built by convict labor on the island’s northern tip under Renwick’s supervision.
  • 1889 – The Chapel of the Good Shepherd, designed by Frederick Clarke Withers, opens.
  • 1895 – Inmates from the Asylum are transferred to Ward’s Island, and patients from the hospital there are transferred to Blackwell’s Island. The Asylum is renamed Metropolitan Hospital.
  • 1909 – The Queensboro Bridge, which passes over the island but does not provide direct vehicular access to it, opens.
  • 1921 – Blackwell’s Island is renamed Welfare Island
  • 1935 – The penitentiary on Riker’s Island opens, and the last convicts on Welfare Island are transferred there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One common remark, whether it be from Charles Dickens or Nellie Bly or the host of sensationalist writers who described the island of asylums and orphanages in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, commented on the chorus of sobbing and madness which arose from the populations of lunatics and (what we would describe in modernity as developmentally disabled) retarded children imprisoned there. The fate of such unfortunates in early modern times was not a happy one, and analogies to both the German writer Kafka and the English asylum known as Bedlam are appropriate.

Of course, just as it is today, having such an institutional neighbor enriches the local economy. A mental hospital needs workers, and employs a vast supply chain to bring the necessities of life. Everything from vegetables to gurneys must be brought in, maintenance of boilers and the machinery of such places must be performed, and a vast staff of quasi medical workers are required. In many towns and cities across modern America, the local prison has replaced the industrial mill as the principal employer, and the prison industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the United States economy.

from pbs.org

Corporations are running many Americans prisons, but will they put profits before prisoners?

A grim new statistic: One in every hundred Americans is now locked behind bars. As the prison population grows faster than the government can build prisons, private companies see an opportunity for profit.

This week, NOW on PBS investigates the government’s trend to outsource prisons and prisoners to the private sector. Critics accuse private prisons of standing in the way of sentencing reform and sacrificing public safety to maximize profits.

“The notion that a corporation making a profit off this practice is more important to us than public safety or the human rights of prisoners is outrageous,” Judy Greene, a criminal policy analyst, tells NOW on PBS.


– photo by Mitch Waxman

That nameless thing which has never drawn a breath, whose queer intelligence lurks within the spire of the sapphire megalith and gazes hungrily down upon the world of men, encourages and makes such a prison economy viable. It will ensure that new laws and restrictions are put in place by an army of loyal acolytes that suck at it’s poison teats, and its many servants in the media conglomerates continue to propagate a general aura of fear and loathing of “the other” suggesting the presence of a predatory element amongst the populace which makes the existence of such institutions seem not just necessary but prudent. More importantly, this prison industry is extremely profitable, and above all else that thing in the megalith encourages profit.

In the early 21st century, prison technologies now adorn private homes of substance and taste, and Orwell’s Big Brother need not surveil the streets for the private citizenry has already installed video security systems and razor wire which accomplish the goal for it. The gaol needs no walls, for terror has made us all inmates.

from wikipedia

In 1984, there is a perpetual war between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia, the super-states which emerged from the atomic global war. “The book”, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchic Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein, explains that each state is so strong it cannot be defeated, even with the combined forces of two super-states—despite changing alliances. To hide such contradictions, history is re-written to explain that the (new) alliance always was so; the populaces accustomed to doublethink accept it. The war is not fought in Oceanian, Eurasian or Eastasian territory but in the arctic wastes and a disputed zone comprising the sea and land from Tangiers (northern Africa) to Darwin (Australia). At the start, Oceania and Eastasia are allies combatting Eurasia in northern Africa.

That alliance ends and Oceania allied with Eurasia fights Eastasia, a change which occurred during the Hate Week dedicated to creating patriotic fervour for the Party’s perpetual war. The public are blind to the change; in mid-sentence an orator changes the name of the enemy from “Eurasia” to “Eastasia” without pause. When the public are enraged at noticing that the wrong flags and posters are displayed they tear them down—thus the origin of the idiom “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”; later the Party claims to have captured Africa.

“The book” explains that the purpose of the unwinnable, perpetual war is to consume human labour and commodities, hence the economy of a super-state cannot support economic equality (a high standard of life) for every citizen. Goldstein also details an Oceanian strategy of attacking enemy cities with atomic rockets before invasion, yet dismisses it as unfeasible and contrary to the war’s purpose; despite the atomic bombing of cities in the 1950s the super-states stopped such warfare lest it imbalance the powers. The military technology in 1984 differs little from that of the Second World War, yet strategic bomber aeroplanes were replaced with Rocket Bombs, helicopters were heavily used as weapons of war (while they didn’t figure in WW2 in any form but prototypes) and surface combat units have been all but replaced by immense and unsinkable Floating Fortresses, island-like contraptions concentrating the firepower of a whole naval task force in a single, semi-mobile platform (in the novel one is said to have been anchored between Iceland and the Faroe Islands, suggesting a preference for sea lane interdiction and denial).



– photo by Mitch Waxman

Modernity looks back on Blackwell’s Island, with its snake pit asylums and communal poor houses as some sort of anachronism. Left behind in the starry past, along with witch hunts and bad science, we have evolved past such childish attempts at mercy and embraced a more open and kind philosophy toward our challenged or confused or socially unacceptable brethren. This is a new age, enlightened and informed by scientific reason rather than instinct and custom. Right?

Ever wonder how they’ll describe us in 100 years, when some unborn academics perform their dissertations on the “age of terror”?

Remember, in a war of terror, whichever side scares the other more is the winner. A decade in, which side has become more terrifying to you, the nuclear armed super state with a well armed and paranoid population or the dusty mafiosos of a failed desert empire?

Incidentally, today is the anniversary of the General Slocum disaster, which was the greatest disaster in the history of New York City prior to the events of 2001, and which bears mention at this- your Newtown Pentacle.

from wikipedia

Some analysts, such as Noam Chomsky, posit that a state of perpetual war is an aid to (and is promoted by) the powerful members of dominant political and economic classes, helping maintain their positions of economic and political superiority.

Some have also suggested that entering a state of perpetual war becomes progressively easier in a modern democratic republic such as the United States due to the continuing development of interlocking relationships between those who benefit directly from war and the large and powerful companies that indirectly benefit and shape the presentation of the effects and consequences of war (i.e., the formation of a military-industrial complex).

There has been some criticism from anti-war activists and Bush critics, for example, that the Bush administration’s ties to Halliburton influenced the decision to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. These claims have been denied by the George W. Bush White House.

However, the concept of a military-industrial complex was first suggested by President Eisenhower and the idea that military action can be seen as a form of market-creation goes at least as far back as speeches beginning in 1930 prior to the publication of War Is a Racket in 1935. The economic make-up of the 5th century BC Athens-led Delian League also bears resemblance to the economic ramifications of preparing for perpetual war.

With the advent of perpetual war, communities have begun to construct War Memorials with names of the dead while the wars are ongoing. See Northwood Community Park’s memorial which has space for 8000 names (approximately 4,500 used at time of construction) and plans to update it yearly.


Written by Mitch Waxman

June 15, 2011 at 6:39 am

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