The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas

elusive dreams

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Friday odds and ends for the endtimes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this wrecked “Boro Cab” on the south side of Steinway Street, all illuminated by the glow of a rotisserie chicken joint, and it caught my eye. I like to guess what happened when I see this sort of thing, and based on the bent up signboard and caved in roof, conjecture revolves around this vehicle as having been rolled during the accidental which rendered it non operational. I always say “accidental” rather than “accident” for what you see afterwards, as I find it clumsy using a verb to describe a noun. Brooklynese is the language of my inner voice – which would sound like “Brooklynese iz da langwadge a My innah voyse” if you were a telepath.

Conjecture is the word for this sort of wondering about things you see but are guessing about how they ended up in this state, and I’ve always wondered if it’s appropriate to use “conject” as a verb. There are a lot of words like “conjecture” that I wonder about, but you have to pass the time somehow when wandering around on a cold night during a pandemic as American civilization fractures. I get stuck on this sort of thing all the time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is, of course, an idiot. Regardless, there are thoughts which torment and inhabit. Beyond the whole “inflammable/flammable” dichotomy, I often turn words about in my thoughts, breaking them down into parts to discern deeper meaning – Dis-ease – hey, that’s a lack of ease.

My buddy Hank the elevator guy is an elevator mechanic, but doesn’t describe what he does at work as “mechanicing.” A guy I know in Astoria is Joe the insulator, and he spends his days insulating stuff. Mario the exterminator guy exterminates, Brendan the bar tender tends bar, but my landlord who owns a Butcher shop in the City doesn’t “butch.” This sort of thing absolutely consumes me sometimes.

Shouldn’t the workflow of a butcher be called “butching?”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Electricians wire, they don’t “electric.” Plumbers actually do plumb, but that’s a relatively small part of their job. Arborists don’t “arbor,” and these days only a very small subset of Sailors “sail.” Firefighters fight fires, Police police, Bakers bake. Photographers photograph. Artists don’t “art,” Musicians don’t “music,” Tailors don’t “tail.” It’s all very confusing. Don’t even ask me about Phlebotomists.

Not sure if I’ve shown you my favorite 2020 ChristmAstoria display, pictured above, from 43rd street between Broadway and 34th Avenue. I don’t know the people who live in this particular house, although I do know a few other people who live on this block. If there was an award for Christmas lights, they’d get my vote.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, January 11th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates here, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.


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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

January 15, 2021 at 2:00 pm

Christmas!

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More Christmas, more.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spotted this neatly dressed Nativity scene over on Houston and Sullivan (I think St. Anthony’s?) recently. Seemed appropriate fair for the day, but what do I know? I grew up Jewish and Christmas Day is when we would go the New China Inn on Flatbush Avenue for Lo Mein.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Astoria Tumbleweeds

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The tumbling remnants of happier times rolls about the ancient village of Astoria, and can be observed in many windblown places. These urban tumbleweeds are predominantly disposed of, according to custom, before the second week of January. The majority of these shots were taken in the first week of the new year. The vast amount of trash is atypical for this block, as holiday feasting and present opening produce an abundance of urban waste.

from nyc.gov

Collections will take place beginning on Monday, January 4, 2010 through Friday, January 15, 2010 .

Residents are encouraged to put out their discarded trees at curbside as early as possible during the collection period.

DSNY asks residents to remove all tree stands, tinsel, lights, and ornaments from trees before placing them out for collection. DO NOT place trees in plastic bags. Trees will be chipped into mulch that will be distributed to parks, playing fields, and community gardens throughout the city.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As longtime readers of this site know, I’m fascinated by New York’s infrastructure and the scale of endeavor it represents. Constantly amazed not by what the City screws up, but what it actually gets right. The extra tonnage of holiday trash, much of it paper, is just absorbed off the sidewalks without much fanfare.

The xmas trees, however, seem to be the last to be collected, which allows the wind to take them where it wants to go. Just today, during the last week of January, I saw one swirling about on the corner and there were a couple over by the local park (which is a perennial target for dumping of household trash from illegally converted area apartments).

from wikipedia

It was around Christmas 1851 when a farmer in the U.S. state of New York’s Catskill Mountains, Mark Carr, began a journey with two oxen drawn sleds toward New York City with a crop of Christmas trees in tow. When he arrived in New York the first Christmas tree market was born, from which he sold all the trees. Though Christmas trees have been sold commercially in the United States since Carr’s 1851 journey from the Catskills, the first American Christmas tree farm was not established until about 50 years later. Until then, most U.S.Christmas trees were simply harvested from forests.

from nytimes.com- click here for an article from 1880 about Mr. Carr

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Like the tumbleweeds in some stereotypical western movie, the last vestiges of ChristmAstoria just roll along and out of frame. I like to think that there’s a wall somewhere near Flushing Bay that they all pile up against, but probably not. The weather will reduce them to wireframes by Valentines Day.

from ci.nyc.ny.us

Christmas Tree Collection –

Citywide Christmas tree collection is also an important part of the Departmentʼs recycling program. In January 2008, approximately 160,250 discarded Christmas trees were collected by dedicated tree trucks over a 12-work day period, January 3 through 16, 2008. Two (2) primary disposal sites were utilized: Fresh Kills and Wards Island.

All trees delivered to Wards Island were chipped by the Department of Parks and Recreation. This joint agency partnership in processing trees proved to be extremely successful. In Fresh Kills a private company, under contract to the Department, chipped the trees.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The sad specimen above was my own humble tree. Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself often choose the “Charlie Brown” tree for our holiday decorations.

from christmastree.org

MYTH #9: Real Christmas Trees end up in landfills.

BUSTED: Christmas Tree recycling programs are available nationwide, and many are quite creative. A farm-grown Christmas tree is 100% biodegradable, so it can be used for all kinds of things in nature, from mulch to erosion control. Fake trees?….see Myth #4 above. People often lament the sight of Christmas trees at the curb after Christmas…but they don’t realize that many communities have curb-side pick up as part of their recycling program. They’re not “being thrown in the trash” or ending up in landfills. They’re waiting to be put into the recycling program.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Tumbling Tumbleweeds by Sons of the Pioneers- Click here for the song

I’m a roaming cowboy riding all day long,

Tumbleweeds around me sing their lonely song.

Nights underneath the prairie moon,

I ride along and sing this tune.

See them tumbling down

Pledging their love to the ground

Lonely but free I’ll be found

Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

Cares of the past are behind

Nowhere to go but I’ll find

Just where the trail will wind

Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

I know when night has gone

That a new world’s born at dawn.

I’ll keep rolling along

Deep in my heart is a song

Here on the range I belong

Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 26, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Posted in Astoria

Tagged with , , ,

ChristmAstoria 3

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

All right, I’ll admit it- the last couple of posts about ChristmAstoria have painted the seasonal holiday in a somewhat sarcastic veneer. I grew up Jewish and have always been a little jealous of a holiday with such a rich mythology. Channukah, like Christmas, is all about celebrating “having survived the Romans”, but the Christmas iconography is just so much more compelling. There are also NO Rankin-Bass stop motion Channukah cartoons, and Heat Miser would have to be rethought entirely. The Winter Warlock, however, ports directly over – from an interfaith perspective.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator and the extensive staff here at Newtown Pentacle HQ (its a bit like TMZ around here- swimming pools and movie stars) just wanted to say thanks for following us around and checking in at the blog periodically, as well as wishing you all a healthy and happy holiday. The plan around here is to have one last feast day (or two) and get back to work. I’ll be wandering around the empty streets this weekend whenever I get a break- weather and feast wise. Look for a crazy looking old man in a filthy black raincoat taking pictures of dead rats- that’ll be me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My little dog, Zuzu (left), has extensive obligations all weekend as well, I am told.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ll be taking a day or two off, but will most likely get rolling again on Saturday. Have a merry christmas, or at least a couple of days you don’t have to go to work.

(Don’t worry if anything good happens, I’ll post it. Why not subscribe to the RSS feed- found in the column to the right, and updates will just pop up in the gadget or browser of your choice?)

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 24, 2009 at 3:23 am

ChristmAstoria 2

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let me preface today’s post by mentioning that the anagrammatic transposition of Santa and Satan is no accident.

Given the macabre sense of humor that the most high god itself is suggested to have by scripture- making its arch enemy transmogrify into a nice old man who gives presents to children- on its birthday- is exactly the sort of thing one would expect from the sun god of a desert people.

If you think about it, Santa is principally red in color and flies about with a wild hunt of magickal herd animals. He is also invulnerable to chimney fires and possessed of a menacing laugh. Ergo- Santa Claus (saint nick) might actually be Satan (old nick). This link will be handy on Christmas eve, as the Strategic Air Command’s NORAD will be tracking the demon as it makes its way south from the polar wastelands toward the Newtown Pentacle.

from wikipedia

Numerous parallels have been drawn between Santa Claus and the figure of Odin, a major god amongst the Germanic peoples prior to their Christianization. Since many of these elements are unrelated to Christianity, there are theories regarding the pagan origins of various customs of the holiday stemming from areas where the Germanic peoples were Christianized and retained elements of their indigenous traditions, surviving in various forms into modern depictions of Santa Claus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In the early days of the American Colonies, which modern politics and propaganda instruct its citizenry to believe was a time of “freedom and liberty”, personal or non standard expressions of religion were frowned upon. Of course, that was up north in New England. New York City and its citizens are actually the authors of the modern Christmas.

Thomas Nast created the visuals in 1863 for “Harper’s Weekly”, Washington Irving turned Sinterklaas into Santa Claus in 1809’s “A History of New York”  and also inserted the reindeer and sleigh, Clement Clarke Moore (whose family got their start in colonial Newtown) is said to have written “Twas the night before Christmas” in 1823, and the NY Sun published the famous “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” in 1897.

from wikipedia

Christmas celebrations in Puritan New England (1620-1850?) were culturally and legally suppressed and thus, virtually non-existent. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry. The earliest years of the Plymouth colony were troubled with non-Puritans attempting to make merry, and Governor William Bradford was forced to reprimand offenders. English laws suppressing the holiday were enacted in the Interregnum, but repealed late in the 17th century. However, the Puritan view of Christmas and its celebration had gained cultural ascendancy in New England, and Christmas celebrations continued to be discouraged despite being legal. When Christmas became a Federal holiday in 1870, the Puritan view was relaxed and late nineteenth century Americans fashioned the day into the Christmas of commercialism, liberal spirituality, and nostalgia that most Americans recognize today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In modern times, the garish lighting adorning Astoria is also equipped with tiny electronic speakers which blare endless loops of the first movement of “Jingle Bells”. Were one prone to paranoid and conspiratorial thinking, it would seem that some vast cabal of industrial and economic powers have convinced the citizenry of these United States to consume electricity unabashedly. Such thinking is faulty, however, as the tradition of christmas lights is far older than the nation- isn’t it?

from wikipedia

The first known electrically illuminated Christmas tree was the creation of Edward H. Johnson, an associate of inventor Thomas Edison. While he was vice president of the Edison Electric Light Company, a predecessor of today’s Con Edison electric utility, he had Christmas tree light bulbs especially made for him. He proudly displayed his Christmas tree, which was hand-wired with 80 red, white and blue electric incandescent light bulbs the size of walnuts, on December 22, 1882 at his home on Fifth Avenue in New York City. Local newspapers ignored the story, seeing it as a publicity stunt. However, it was published by a Detroit newspaper reporter, and Johnson has become widely regarded as the Father of Electric Christmas Tree Lights. By 1900, businesses started stringing up Christmas lights behind their windows. Christmas lights were too expensive for the average person; as such, electric Christmas lights did not become the majority replacement for candles until 1930.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just to ensure that the Newtown Pentacle doesn’t accidentally cause a remonstrance to spring up, we need to give equal time to all faiths in these ChristmAstoria posts- thus- December 23 is the date on which a surprisingly large number of Americans will celebrate Festivus. Watch out for feats of strength being performed, and gather round the Aluminum pole, its time for the airing of grievances.

from wikipedia

The practice of putting up special decorations at Christmas has a long history. From pre-Christian times, people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter. Christian people incorporated such customs in their developing practices. In the fifteenth century, it was recorded that in London, it was the custom at Christmas for every house and all the parish churches to be “decked with holm, ivy, bays, and whatsoever the season of the year afforded to be green”. The heart-shaped leaves of ivy were said to symbolise the coming to earth of Jesus, while holly was seen as protection against pagans and witches, its thorns and red berries held to represent the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus at the crucifixion and the blood he shed.

and just as a note- this is the Anniversary of Vincent van Gogh cutting off his ear lobe in 1888

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 23, 2009 at 3:48 am

Posted in Astoria

Tagged with , , , ,

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