The Newtown Pentacle

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where goeth

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Prognostication is a specialty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One considers himself able to not just look backward into history, but forward as well. I can make a reasonably good bet about a few subjects I know a bit about, and that have some historical context which instructs and informs. As an example of my thought process in this dimension, when I board a train or a plane I tend not to check the time too often while onboard. “Are we there yet” indicates that you didn’t think your journey through. You’ll know when you’re there, since the thing you’re riding in will stop and it’s operators will tell you to leave. Intervals are absolute, it seems, and you’re often disappointed if you don’t acknowledge that some things take time.

There are few, if any, moving sidewalks. No personal jet packs, or highways weaving around skyscrapers twenty stories up, and there is not a geodesic dome covering NYC. This is the 21st century, and none of that stuff exists in our daily lives, despite the promises of futurists from times gone by. We do possess computers, in our phones, that we can talk to, however. That’s pretty cool, but this ain’t the future we were supposed to get. Instead it’s kind of a pedantic and boring one, but, there you are. As the aphorism offers – wherever you go, there you are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Self driving vehicles got you worried? The futurists and engineers haven’t really figured that out for trains that operate on tracks yet, or for cargo ships guided by actual satellites, so my guess is that whereas the driverless car is certainly a fascinating experiment – it ain’t happening quite yet. As soon as it does, though, porn will be shot in them while the car is driving down highways and the AI is pretending it doesn’t know what’s happening inside the passenger cabin. That’s two prognostications for the price of one, right there.

Additionally, even if some form of ultra clean “Star Trek” style energy production technology were to emerge tomorrow, we’d still be using petroleum for fuel for at least another century. I know this because we’re still using coal and gas, which are centuries old technologies. There’s a technological concept called “installed base,” which governs such matters. In layman terms, you ain’t changing the furnace in your basement out until you have to, and the old Buick still runs pretty good. Saying that, I’m all for lurching blindly forward and declaring one of our futile and very American “wars” on Climate Change. The one on drugs worked out great, right? What could go wrong?

I’d recommend creating a non variable zoning regulation instead, demanding all new construction include a green roof, for our cities. Activation of the 4H club and the various Scouting organizations in pursuance of tree planting along highways in rural areas would also be a plus. Reforestation seems to part of the answer, but it’s probably best to ask the farmers what they’d do. The religious zealots? Tell ’em that God wants ‘Murica to recreate Eden, and they’ll burn litterers on the stake.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Warfare is the cheap harlot of history, with its pageant and tragedy. It’s also the substance of what most of “the powers that be” would want you to build the shelves of your mental bookcase with. Even the Real Estate guys use it, selling “pre war” apartments at significant markups. “Pre War”? Which war? Are we never not at war in the United States? There’s a cognitive dissidence often encountered which somehow equates the far more important cultural, economic, and industrial history of the nation state as being encapsulated by “eras” defined either by conflict or the coarse and often bellicose personalities of various politicians and their regimes. It wasn’t the “Reagan era,” or the “Vietnam era” that you should be building those shelves out of.

Can you imagine what the historians of the future will call our time? They’ll focus in on foreign war and bombastic politics (both of which provide an excess of documentation, making the job of piecing together a narrative easy) but I think they’ll miss the particular mood of our time. That weird “us” versus “them” mentality which needs to be torn out of the body politic root and stem. As mentioned at the start, one often looks backwards to understand the tyranny of the now.

Americans aren’t much different from the Ancient Egyptians, or more recently the citizenry of the late Roman Republic. Like the Egyptians, we’re obsessed with death and honor, deeply superstitious, and willing to tolerate a lot of nonsense in the name of not offending the gods, and we also have a well founded belief that we can beat the snot out of anyone who messes with us. The Egyptians weren’t all that different from the late in the game Republic of Rome, but the Romans are a bit more familiar in outlook. They saw warfare as a business opportunity, just like us. I read about Rome a lot. There’s a lot to read.

The “blues and the greens” of Constantinople come to mind, but that’s really just a political analogy that sits nicely into our left/right narrative. Instead, I’m thinking about Caesar, and how the Liberators had absolutely no plan whatsoever in place to rule after those twenty seven stabbings in the Senate House happened. If you’re going to kill Caesar, you should have a really good plan for a post Caesar future. If you don’t, the Republic you were trying to save from a tyrant just might collapse, and give rise to a penultimate tyrant.

Interpret that last prognostication as you may. A smart auger leaves things a bit vague.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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

May 29, 2019 at 11:00 am

evidently achieved

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Ain’t Queens cool?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The views available from the IRT Flushing, or 7 Line subway, tracks along Queens Blvd. never fail to impress. The three shots in today’s post were captured at the 40th Lowery stop in Sunnyside one recent late afternoon/early evening. One was returning to the neighborhood from some adventure and I had decided that rather than transferring to R line in Jackson Heights, which comes quite a bit closer to HQ than the 7 does, I’d instead take the train to somewhere photogenic and then walk home instead. This is one of my little habits, and guilty pleasures.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve always loved the telephoto possibilities along the 7, as there aren’t all that many spots along the elevated lines where you can capture an entire train in one picture. In recent weeks, as mentioned in prior posts, a humble narrator has been beset by obligation and I haven’t had too many chances to say “cool” about the various sights which have rolled in front of the daily grind.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is fairly shattered – physically – today by yesterday’s Newtown Creekathon, which saw me guiding and narrating a walking tour of the entire Newtown Creek. It’s the shouting, ultimately, which exhausts. Couple that with the multiple miles crossed, and I found myself passing out on the couch in the early evening yesterday. At some point, one must’ve found his way into the bed, but a clear memory of moving from one set of cushions to the next doesn’t exist.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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

April 29, 2019 at 1:00 pm

nightmare ghouls

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A little bit of housekeeping.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

First off, I think I’ve conquered the fortress and can stop taking pictures of the Q104 bus on Astoria’s Broadway after the shot above. Nailed! Secondly, the profusion of advertising that’s appeared of late at Newtown Pentacle has absolutely nothing to do with me, rather it’s WordPress (which hosts and provides the tech underpinnings) which is both inserting and profiting off your attentions. It’s something that I’m going to have to deal with, but nothing profound is going to occur before June.

As I’ve mentioned, the week of June 6th will mark the tenth year of publication at Newtown Pentacle. I’m early planning a couple of things to celebrate, but then again I’m not really the celebration type. I’m more of the “tear your clothing and throw ash on your face type,” really.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For an interminable number of recent weeks, one has been involved with a series of “have to’s” that have taken me away from contemplation of the existential miseries, logical fallacies, and quirky historical commentary which I enjoy so much. It’s also really gotten in the way of the camera work. A lot of recent shots have been caught on the fly, as I move from one “have to” to another. Luckily, Queens is visually interesting and there’s always something to see that’s worth clicking the shutter over.

Now, if it ever stops raining…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This past weekend, I actually got to attend somebody else’s event and learn a thing or two. Luckily, that interval occurred in between sessions of rain, so one didn’t get soaked to the skin in the process. In the meantime, however…

I’ll be doing a book signing and slideshow tomorrow night in Greenpoint to support my new “In the Shadows at Newtown Creek” publication, and this weekend on Sunday the third annual Newtown Creekathon will be conducted. Come with? Links below.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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.


Events!

Slideshow and book signing, April 23rd, 6-8 p.m.

Join Newtown Creek Alliance at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for a slideshow, talk, and book signing and see what the incredible landscape of Newtown Creek looks like when the sun goes down with Mitch Waxman. The event is free, but space is limited. Please RSVP here. Light refreshments served.

Click here to attend.

The Third Annual, All Day, 100% Toxic, Newtown Creekathon. April 28th.

The Creekathon will start at Hunter’s Point South in LIC, and end at the Kingsland Wildflowers rooftop in Greenpoint. It will swing through the neighborhoods of LIC, Blissville, Maspeth, Ridgewood, East Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Greenpoint, visiting the numerous bridges that traverse the Creek. While we encourage folks to join us for the full adventure, attendees are welcome to join and depart as they wish. A full route map and logistics are forthcoming.This is an all day event. Your guides on this 12+ mile trek will be Mitch Waxman and Will Elkins of the Newtown Creek Alliance, and some of their amazing friends will likely show up along the way.

Click here to attend.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 22, 2019 at 2:00 pm

unmistakable replacement

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Truth tellers of the Subway!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion found me riding on the redoubtable IRT Flushing line recently, whereupon an older fellow noticed my camera and commented that I was an intelligence agent. I held my fingers up to my lips and made a shush sound, saying that the Russians were watching and asked him not to blow my cover. Once the train got under way, he took up position mid car and began a staggeringly well rehearsed speech about the Peoples Republic of China’s domestic security operations. What made this fellow stand out in my mind was – and I should mention that I’ve read a bit about how they handle dissent over there in the Middle Kingdom – was that he got a lot of it right. Names of the various agencies, location of reeducation centers and prisons… it’s scary when the paranoids are actually right about something.

He then began to opine that babies are traps set by female intelligence agents designed to snare unsuspecting males into child support servitude… but his info on the Chinese internal security system actually sounded fairly solid – and jibed with my admittedly limited knowledge of the subject. Maybe I’m destined to become one of those guys in my old age, the ones who carry a bunch of shopping bags and proclaim the truth of our times loudly to strangers on the 7 train.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Given the headlines in recent years, it’s hard not to believe any claim – no matter how wild it is. We seem to have abandoned evidence and data based thinking as a culture these days. Not too long ago, I called up my buddy Kevin from Forgotten-NY to discuss a couple of things and during our chat I opined that if he told that “a flying jelly candy horse” was spotted over Bayside I’d have to believe it since anything seems possible at the moment. I suggest you hit YouTube at some point and search for “Flat Earth” if you want to see what I mean, as far as the abandonment of evidence and data based decision making.

Back in high school and college, as my friends and I would engage in long conversations trying to figure the world out, we’d always apply Occam’s Razor (the simplest explanation is usually true) to any crazy story we came across. My answer to 911 conspiracy theorists has always been to remind them of every other thing which the George W. Bush White House tried to pull off, and ask if there was any indication that the same people who brought you the Federal response to Hurricane Katrina and the 2003 invasion of Iraq had it in them to pull off an absolutely perfect “false flag” operation. I then remind them of the complexities involved in arranging for six people to meet up for lunch at a diner on a Saturday afternoon (there’s always a Vegan to account for, and someone named Sharon who’s always late).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I don’t encounter the same sort of crazy on the IND lines, downstairs as it were, in the subways. The E/R/M lines are plagued by women doing the “Gypsy baby” routine, those acrobatic dancer kids, and the freaking mariachis. They’re all just grifting or busking though, and trying to earn a living. The Chinese conspiracy guy on the 7 line was highly entertaining, to me at least, and made my $2.75 fare a gladly spent trifle.

Here are three of my paranoid wonderings; 

The woman who calls herself Britney Spears currently performing in Las Vegas is a lookalike double. The real Britney Spears is being held prisoner by her managers in a Nevada mental asylum. #freebritney.

The plastic or metal tips on your shoelaces are called aglets. Their purpose is sinister. #thetruthwillcomeout

Given the relative scale of the Gummi Bear to the Gummi Worm, it’s obvious that the Gummi universe is actually based on the Dune universe, with the Bears being the Freemen and the Gummi Worm representing the sandworm Shai Halud. #thesleeperwillawaken

Repent!


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

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

March 4, 2019 at 1:00 pm

recent letters

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A day late, and a dollar short.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sorry for the single image today, a humble narrator’s scheduling got the best of him and that’s why you’ve got a shot of the 4 entering 59th/Lex instead of a proper post today. Back Monday with some of the interesting stuff I saw while riding the new Soundview Line of the NYC Ferry last week.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 22, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Manhattan, Photowalks, Pickman, Subway

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resonant tones

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Merry merry.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator is taking this week and the first half of next off, so singular images will be greeting you through the week. Have a joylessly laconic Festivus, a Merry Christmas, and a Kwazy Kwanzaa.

Be back on the 27th to finish up the year at this. your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 20, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Manhattan, Subway

Tagged with , ,

exceedingly gruesome

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I still need a vacation.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One spent an interval arguing with a proverbial “angry old white man keyboard warrior” type yesterday afternoon, who accused me of being a “hystrionic hipster clown.” I’ll accept clown, but hipster? I encounter this sort of fellow occasionally in real life, sometimes when I’m conducting a tour. You can always spot them; head cocked back, one eye slightly winced, sour look on the face. They showed up to see me screw up so they can then call me out on something. Usually, they will interject with some obvious thing – “you gonna mention the Long Island Railroad?” or something.

Yes, I will, when we get to that section of the tour. If they continue with the derision, I tend to bury them with a depth of knowledge that they aren’t prepared for, or introduce them to the group and hand them the microphone. Screw with the bull, you get the horns. Given my love of conflict and argument, if you come at me all aggressive like, I’m going to freaking bury you with a smile on my face as I do it. Brooklyn, that’s where I’m from.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Getting all granular about every little thing is something that I prefer not to do. I’ve never claimed to be an expert on all things – however – I do possess an enormous knowledge base which covers a lot of subjects. Subway and train people are the worst about this sort of thing, writing you off if you don’t know the model number of some twenty turn screw that the Dual Contracts era engineers had problems with. I know a lot about a lot of things, and know everything about one or two things. Given my particular interests, which generally revolve around Newtown Creek, anything that’s tangentially related to the waterway’s history is something I’ve read up on and at least tried to talk to an actual expert on the subject. That means I know far more than most “civilians” about wastewater management, trash hauling, maritime shipping, and the sociopolitical history of Brooklyn and Queens. It’s a pleasure to meet somebody who wants to share what they know about trolleys or some other esoteric subject, but the vast majority of these armchair scholars just want to hoard their knowledge.

The fellow who was being aggressive and nasty to me yesterday didn’t get the “full treatment,” which is what I call the vulgar display of my well honed internet research powers. Suffice to say that within fifteen minutes of his ugly attentions and nasty commentary, I knew his home address and had a photo of him sitting on his porch in Smithtown out on Long Island. As expected, he was a retired city employee pining for the “good old days.” Seriously, folks, there is no such thing as online anonymity unless you are very, very skilled in hiding your tracks. All I need is your email address and I can follow the wires back to, at least, the corner you live on. Imagine what the cops can do. Don’t make threatening statements online, with the ideation that you won’t get kicked in the skedooch.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not offended by the “hipster” or “clown” accusations, incidentally, although “hipster” is a bit of stretch. What pissed me off was the accusation that I’m some sort of transplanted Midwest suburbanite who recently arrived in NYC to disaffectedly enjoy soy mocha lattes at some upscale Williamsburg cafe. I’ve encountered this sort of thing before, and it just ticks me off. Other than something like six to eight composite weeks when I was off galavanting in New England or Europe on vacations, I’ve woken up in New York City every single day for the last fifty one years. I didn’t pick up and move to Long Island or Westchester or …Staten Island… like some goddamned little kid afraid of what he’s seen in the big bad City. That would be giving up, and admitting that the malefic intelligence of the City had beaten you.

It’s standard “keyboard warrior” technique, calling somebody names. Let’s talk face to face, on the street where things are tangible and real. Say it to my face, if you want to deploy your MAGA code words and veiled threats.

Feh. 

Upcoming events


Saturday, November 3rdTidal Toast, a fundraiser party to support Newtown Creek Alliance in our mission to “Reveal, Restore, Revitalize” the Newtown Creek. Since 2002 the Newtown Creek Alliance (NCA) has been the voice of Newtown Creek; working with industry, agencies, and residents alike to promote awareness, remediation, access, resilient businesses and ecological restoration. This celebration will champion the Vision for the future of the waterway and those that have contributed their time, energy and effort to it.
More information and tickets here. 


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 2, 2018 at 11:15 am

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