The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘Chrismastoria

hidden laboratory

with 3 comments

Don’t get snotty with me, pal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ChristmAstoria season has begun, I do declare. This was noticed this when my neighbor Tomas adorned his house, recently. Colloquially known as “Tom,” Tomas is remarkably detail oriented on the subject of home maintenance, and owns a personal power washer in pursuance of a gum and stains free sidewalk. In a neighborhood of slobs, Tom keeps his immediate vicinity neat and clean, and is quite timely when it comes to rolling out the holiday decorations. He is one of my seasonal bellwethers.

A pet peeve we share is the habit of spitting gobs of phlegm onto the sidewalk as practiced by the local youths. Another one of those “primate dominance display behaviors” which increasingly annoy me, there seems to be a societal fad underway which requires the late adolescence humans to expunge a mucosal charge onto the public way once about every four strides.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Ptooie! I’ve never been able to get a clear answer out of the medical establishment about exactly what mucus is, other than it is produced by “goblet cells.” I’ve looked into it. Composition wise, snot is about 95% water. The remaining 5% is a variable brew of glycoproteins, proteoglycans, proteins, and DNA. The proteins are what make the stuff sticky, I’m told. Mucus is everywhere inside of the human infestation’s various avatars, and the specific to the respiratory tract stuff is called Phlegm (which, since I’m from Brooklyn, is pronounced literally as “Fleg gumm.” Everybody else says “flemm.”). Once you bark it out, it’s called “Sputum.”

This Phlegm material is conventionally “snot” and it acts as a filtering mechanism for the respiratory system. Contaminants like dust, pollen, and smoke particles get caught up in it, as do infectious biota. When you hawk a loogie out, it’s carrying these active bacterial and viral agents along with it. As the goober dries up on the pavement, these microbes and contaminants are then carried off into the the air column. That’s where the “spit every four steps” fad crosses over into a public health issue.

If you’re like me, as soon as the weather turns cold, the spigot starts running on the snot cannon in the middle of your face, and you’ve got a constantly runny nose. I’ve always got a pocket full of tissues with me, but many do not. These unprepared souls will often use a finger to close off one nostril and then exhale powerfully through the other, causing a rifle shot of sputum to rocket forth. It’s lovely.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Such behaviors are why I try not to touch any public surfaces in NYC during the winter months. This year, in particular, I’ve instituted a new policy which has been hard to enforce as it disobeys several of those “primate display behaviors” mentioned above.

I’m avoiding hand shaking entirely, and when the greeting dance requires touching somebody, I’m trying to do it with a clothed part of my body – the elbow, for instance. Why anyone would wish to touch one such as myself is beyond me, frankly, but just the other night I was touched by multiple people in these greeting gestures and one of my friends actually snuck behind me and gave me a hug and kissed the side of my head for some reason.

Keep your epithelials to your self, bro.


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With Atlas ObscuraInfrastructure Creek! My favorite walking tour to conduct, and in a group limited to just twelve people! December 14th, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Click here for more information and tickets!

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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

December 5, 2019 at 11:00 am

perfume conquering

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having finally regained the ability to move about, your humble narrator is loosed once more upon an unsuspecting borough, slaking his jaws and coveting quivering delights. A short trip (via subway) to Greenpoint yesterday evening to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the estimable Newtown Creek Alliance, and today- glory of glories- a walk down Northern Boulevard. My destination was in midtown Manhattan, but I dared not risk walking the entire way as normal habit would demand, so I caught a different train after scuttling from Astoria to Queens Plaza.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Along the way, I spied this inflatable representation of a snow homunculus, which grabbed my attention for some reason. It adorned the shanty market of some french Canadian Christmas tree merchant, in front of the former Pathmark supermarket which has recently closed at the corner of 43rd street. Curiosity arises in me about these people, who camp out in their lots and run gasoline generators for light and heat on the sidewalks. Not enough to actually try and talk to them, but I’m curious nevertheless.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Growing up Jewish, the only part of Christmas that was kosher in my house were snowmen. My grandmother would adjure on the entire subject of the goyem and their Christmas mishegas and confabulate “yoyzel on de cross” with “Sanda Klause”, a tradition which my mother would gladly carry on. Secular, my parents once went so far as to buy a little plastic tree a few years after my Grandmother passed away. My father spray painted it blue and white, and mom decorated it with dreidels and white tinsel, and they stuck a star of David on top. They insisted we call it a Hannukah Bush.

Personally, I always stuck to the snow homonculii, as nobody objects to them.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 30, 2012 at 12:15 am

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