The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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

teetering sanity

with one comment

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

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The glorious IRT Flushing Line, or 7 line, opened in a couple of stages here in Queens. It wasn’t until 1928 that the line reached its modern terminal destination in Flushing, with the section in LIC between Manhattan and Queensboro Plaza having opened in 1915. The second section to open was the QB Plaza to 103rd st./Alburtis Avenue stop in Corona, and that happened on the 21st of April in 1917. That means that we have a centennial on our hands, lords and ladies, next Friday.

Luckily, a humble narrator and his friends are not the sort of people to allow such important matters to go unacknowledged.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As you may or may not know, I’ve been hanging out and working with the folks at Access Queens of late, a community group dedicated to transit advocacy issues. Next Friday, we are going to be commemorating the opening of the line – and I’ll supply details of the event with you as soon as possible next week (everything is still forming up) – and I wanted to advise those of you inveterate fans of the NYC Subway system to start the process of getting the afternoon off on the 21st (next Friday) if you want to join us in celebrating the “international express” which, in many ways, built modern day Queens.

There’s going to be some pretty cool stuff going on, I tell you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The plan, as it stands right now, involves the replication of a journey which the “hoi polloi” and politicians made a century ago, boarding the IRT Flushing Line at Grand Central at 2 in the afternoon. We are going to ride the line through the eleven stops after Queensboro Plaza to 103/Alburtis and then commemorate “our train.” Come with?

The history of Queens is often unacknowledged, ignored, or forgotten entirely. Not on my watch, however.


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 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm

creeping secularism

with one comment

It’s National Peach Cobbler Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those “cool cars” of Queens which was recently spotted, this time on Steinway Street here in raven tressed Astoria. This one was so over the top for usage on the streets of NYC… the mind boggles… but to each his own I always say. If you can afford it, why not? Personally, I’d like to see a bigger set of tires on this pickup, possibly spiked ones, and some sort of roof mounted chain gun – then you’d be ready for the inevitable horde of zombies which we all collectively know are just around the historical corner.

Don’t think that the artillery would help you too much with the vampires in Queens Plaza, but there you go.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Should a horde of zombies appear in Queens, a humble narrators plan is to shelter with Our Lady of the Pentacle and our little dog Zuzu down in the sweating concrete bunkers and tunnels found below. There’s lots of antechamber rooms that line the tunnels of the subway system which are “off the beaten track,” both literally and figuratively. Water wouldn’t be much of an issue given the fact that most everything down there is dripping, and there’s a whole lot of protein available if you can figure out how to trap the rats. My belief is that, after a couple of weeks, the undead hordes would have moved off in search of sustenance to Brooklyn or New Jersey and it would be somewhat safe for us to return to daylight and Newtown Pentacle HQ. We would need to remain vigilant, of course.

The Real Estate guys would likely see a zombie apocalypse as an opportunity, and as long as the Dope from Park Slope over in City Hall survived, and remained on their payroll, it would be an excellent opportunity for them to institute yet another rezoning and loosen height restrictions on new construction.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One does not believe that the unknown, inhuman, and impossible thing which dwells in the sapphire megalith would be responsible or endorse the zombies. Were such an impossible and inhuman thing to exist, staring down in covetous fashion upon the world of men with its three lobed burning eye, the thing in the cupola would see no profit in the mastication and depopulation of western Queens.

Its entire existence is dedicated to profit and exploitation, and revenants neither spend or borrow.


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 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm

prime exporters

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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

last straw

leave a comment »

It’s National Cinnamon Crescent Day, in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is a crispy critter today, after yesterday’s Newtown Creekathon. About halfway through, I was wishing that I had a car waiting to whisk me away at the end of it all. Then again, given what traffic is like…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m always spotting cool cars around the neighborhoods, though. Check out that Rolls Royce limo above. It had a bride in it and everything.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This neato Jeep was encountered along Northern Blvd. It looked like a giant matchbox car to me.

Back tomorrow with something a bit more profound, after I’ve rested up a bit.


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 10, 2017 at 1:00 pm

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