The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Astoria Tumbleweeds

rotting creation

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It’s National Cassoulet Day, here in these United States.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Astoria Tumbleweeds doth fly. In accordance with the ancient village’s calendrical notch on the wheel of the year, it’s time to abandon the holiday tree to the vagaries of the wind. All the neighbors scoff at the idea of driving the thing over to one of the many municipal mulching drop offs. That ain’t natural.

What you are supposed to do, according to Astoria tradition, is drag it over to the corner and then skulk away.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Often there’ll be an orderliness to it all. One forlorn tree, excommunicated from the warm embrace of a family home, acts as an anchor point for others. Soon a veritable wagon train of trees can be observed. A recent perambulation carried me across several of these evergreen middens, which persisted well beyond the close attention which the redoubtable DSNY crews offered to their more mundane sort of waste collection duty – the black bag or putrescent waste, and the various recyclables encased in their respective blue and clear bags.

Apparently, medical waste is meant to be housed in red bags, so there you go. You’re also supposed to put grease in a can or bottle labeled appropriately, and spent batteries should also be in a labeled container.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily for one such as myself, as my walk was coming to its conclusion the wind began to kick up and the astoria tumbleweeds began to explore their migratory patterns. Speaking strictly as “a member of the tribe,” one has often wondered about the annual tonnage of lumber which the holiday month celebrations imports into NYC, by the various goyim, can be quantified as. I’m sure there’s somebody at DSNY who could inform. I’m sure there’s also someone else at DSNY who could and would catechize on the efficacy of mulching your Christmas Tree before it becomes an urban runabout.

All I can say about the Jewish POV on this holiday tree madness is this – what, you paid how much… for a dead plant which you can’t eat, and that you threw out after just a month? Meshuggenehs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As seems to be a holiday tradition here in my neck of Astoria, wherein garbage and recycling pickup are dually scheduled for Sunday nights, the back to back “day off” for the long suffering truck crews of DSNY results in the neighborhood beginning to fill up with considerable amounts of trash. Add in the tidal wave of cardboard and wine bottles which appear in the domestic bin…

Astoria, our abundance runneth over, and the tumbleweeds doth fly.

btw – for those of you Luddites who don’t know what a Cassoulet is, click this link to Food Network for a recipe.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 9, 2017 at 11:00 am

measures appropriate

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The Astoria Tumbleweeds doth roll, and the wheel of the year turns.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The gloomy skies of late December and early January are less than inviting in the City of Greater New York. Cold – and rain – coupled with a general sense of annual ennui and thwarted personal ambition, contribute to a dire outlook and general sense of malaise. Bones creak, tendons stretch painfully, and the extremities are rendered numb as vital fluids retreat towards the core. Regardless, a humble narrator marches forth, in pursuance of presenting the truth of our times in graphic narrative – at this – your Newtown Pentacle.

Raised in the Hebraic culture, it has always struck one such as myself strange that the Goyem cut down trees and drag them into their homes in December, only to cast the dearly held verge aside in January.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tumbleweeds of Astoria have been often mentioned here. The corpses of trees abandoned, and carried by the sciroccos of Queens which cause them to drift along the concrete hereabouts unheralded. Thirty, sixty, even ninety days hence – their dehydrated corpses will be observed still rolling around the “via publica” – stripped of their verdance. Wild agglutinations of kindling will be observed sticking out of snow banks, or adorning the abandoned fence lines of construction lots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As opined, the native art form of the borough of Queens seems to be illegal dumping, and never has this statement been truer than when the subject of Christmas trees and decorations is brought up. Observance of the habits and mores of the Sanitation department has revealed an unexplainable, and certain, reluctance to collect this particular specie of refuse. Officialdom encourages the gentry to bring the cast away trees to certain locations, usually accessible only by motor vehicle, for mulching in pursuance of creating compost.

As this would require effort on the part of the citizenry, it’s simpler for the average Queensican to just leave the thing on the sidewalk, or dump it along Skillman Avenue, and allow the wind to carry it away.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Illegal dumping is something that a humble narrator sees everywhere he goes in the borough of Queens. Some of it is simply explained as emanating from low tier building contractors attempting to avoid the cost of disposing of construction waste – manifested as a pile of contractor bags filled with dry wall or plaster that you’ll see under a rail trestle or along an industrial facilities’ fence. There’s the domestic furniture as well, and odd agglutinations of paint cans and sometimes spoiled food stuffs. A recent change in the rules enacted by State and City Governments concerning curb side pickup will undoubtedly be feeding a new phyla of curbside dumping – electronics.

The State of New York recently changed the law regarding electronics disposal, which as of April 1st of this year, make it a fineable offense to place commonly held items on the curb for DSNY pickup. A full list of the offending items can be accessed here, and the City has created intake centers – one in each borough – for electronics to be disposed of legally. In Queens, it’s in College Point, which is fairly distant for most of us and impossible to access without a motor vehicle.

Get ready to witness a new flowering of the native art form of Queens this spring.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The reason I call it an art form rather than a misdemeanor in our fair Borough is due to the careful placement and juxtapositioning of abandoned trash. Brooklyn? Haphazard and rushed dumping with nary a consideration for negative space. Manhattan and the Bronx? Disorganized piles and middens of trash placed with no aesthetic care. Staten Island? You don’t see a lot of illegal dumping on Staten Island, or at least I don’t. That’s because you’ve got a predominance of DSNY workers living there, and the garbage men like their nests neat.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 8, 2016 at 11:15 am

these instruments

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It’s a real mess around these parts.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, here’s the skinny – bulk pickup and recycling day in my part of Astoria is Monday. More specifically, we are meant to stock the curb with refuse on Sunday nights. This routinely means that the neighbors and myself end up sitting on the clear plastic bags for a week or so, as legal holidays in January and February usually fall on a Monday. Problem is that snow storms seem to come on Sundays too, which further interrupts bulk and recycling pickup. Accordingly, there are mountains of garbage both within and on top of the mountains of rock hard ice lining the sidewalk. To wit, pictured above is a piece of what my friend Heather over at newyorkshitty.com would refer to as “feral furniture” found on Broadway. It’s sitting on top of a glaciated pile of recyclables.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite Christmas having come and gone some two months ago, holiday trees keep turning up on the pavement. This rather creative use of the corner waste pail was shot just last week, for instance. I don’t call these things the Astoria Tumbleweeds for nothing, y’know. My neighbor, a laconic Croatian lady who believes that cracking a smile might be deadly, simply offers that “it’s terrible” and blames the Mayor.

I don’t blame the Mayor, because the entire country seems to have been damned to Viking Hell (or more accurately “Hel”) and I don’t think that’s his fault. The Mayor is very tall, however, and just might be a Storm Giant (a Jotun),so he might be somehow complicit in the whole Viking Hell thing after all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This Astoria Tumbleweed just revealed itself to me on Tuesday, emerging along with a pile of newspapers from a sunlit section of the ice pack. It’s actually sort of grim, seeing a Christmas Tree – in February – which has been preserved in the sidewalk ice. One half expects a Wooly Mammoth to be found over on 19th avenue or something.

Reflecting on the recent cold snap, my thoughts turned first to Rankin Bass Christmas specials (because of the Tumbleweeds, I suppose) which featured the brothers Heat and Cold Miser. That led to wondering about the famous “hundred words for snow” which are attributed to the Inuit peoples of the Arctic, and why there are comparatively so few adjectives attached to winter weather, as opposed to the rich tapestry available for summer. You never hear someone say “yeah, but it’s a dry cold” or “it’s not that cold, temperature wise, but Oy it’s so humid.” Winter has a lot of Germanic sounding ones – bitter, biting, brutal.

What do I know, I’m freezing and there’s frozen garbage everywhere.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

February 19, 2015 at 11:00 am

splitting and chipping

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The Astoria Tumbleweeds doth roll about.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The little trees which the human infestation tends to adorn their hovels with during the month of December pile up on the sidewalks around these parts during the first weeks of January, waiting for the wind to take them to new and novel locales. Just last week, one of the abandoned tumbleweeds was observed laconically rolling about in the middle of the street, for instance. Everywhere you go, the Astoria Tumbleweeds doth roll.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Occasion carried me over to 36th avenue recently, nearby the Kaufman Astoria movie studio complex. That’s where the garish lighting affixed to the former Famous Players studio building, as seen in the shot above, was observed. One loves LED lighting, as the technology has allowed a new class of compact and inexpensive flashlights that possess incredible powers of illumination to find their way into my hands, but those color changing architectural ones have to go. You’ll notice these installations all over Astoria, and despite the splash of bright color, these LED color changing accent lights are somewhat lowbrow and tasteless, harkening one to remember the neon colors popular during the 1980’s – when it seemed that a box of highlighters had exploded and distributed their day glow inks all over the city.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in the past, the DSNY has issued instructions for the proper disposal of the resinous holiday trees, designed to aid the agency in putting this lumber to good use via the process of mulching. Unfortunately, the heavy winds typical of January and the presence of hundreds of illegally converted basement apartments (wherein the residents of said units are instructed by landlords to hide their presence from City officialdom by placing household trash in the street refuse wire collection baskets) result in these discarded bits of holiday cheer rolling about the street. Thusly are the Astoria Tumbleweeds released back into the wild, and freed to roam about the neighborhood.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 12, 2015 at 11:00 am

trickling from

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Those Astoria Tumbleweeds… they’re back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Friday the 3rd of January saw a humble narrator out early, as one had professional obligations to fulfill. While waiting for my breakfast sandwich to be assembled at a greasy spoon on Broadway, here in almond eyed Astoria, observation of a carefully placed and quite discarded Christmas tree occurred. It would have made the news if this coniferous corpse was placed in a bike lane, but instead…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ever reliable DSNY has posted an instructive page here, which describes the proper procedure for disposing of holiday cheer. The municipal organization has a large mulching operation set up to aid in the disposal of the seasonal cultivar, and no where in its list of specificities governing the process does it say “throw it into the middle of the street.” Ahh, Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The purchase of breakfast complete, one did not have time to watch the thing roll about in the street. Rather a somewhat epic journey was undertaken, wherein the longest and most expensive possible route (using mass transit) to Brooklyn was undertaken. Why do you need to leave the Long Island, traveling through Manhattan, to arrive at a spot on the Long Island less than 7 miles from your starting point? It’s just silly.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 7, 2015 at 11:00 am

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