The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘ChristmAstoria

thought them

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…a good night…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just imagine trying to find a spot to park a sleigh with a full team of magick reindeers in Western Queens… you’d take the train too if you were Santa. Giving presents out to nice kids in celebration of his boy’s birthday is what God forces Satan to do, after anagrammatically mixing up the devil’s name, on Christmas Eve. If you can’t enjoy the little things as a supreme being, what’s the point? That’s why the antichrist is forced to play Santa Claus every year.

It’s not an accident that Santa Claus can walk through millions of fireplaces without getting burned, knows everything about naughty and nice (which will come in handy when the kid eventually dies and gets judged), and can accurately discern that which we desire most for gifts. The only indication of who Santa actually is gets revealed when you discover that some Christmas present requires a certain kind of battery which you don’t possess and have to special order from a shady dealer on EBay.

That’s how he gets ya, that wiley Satan. Ho, Ho, bwahhh ha ha, Ho.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has always suspected, and sought knowledge in pursuance thereof, that Christmas lights are part of some evil conspiracy. Unlike aglets (the plastic or metal tips on the ends of shoelaces), proof of their sinister nature has never emerged. Electric Christmas lights were invented by a guy who worked for Con Ed, as a note, but those strings of blinking bulbs aren’t exactly a washer/drier or air conditioner in terms of energy usage. Maybe they are blinking out some sort of subliminal code?

Satan is probably involved in the holiday lights business somehow. He usually gets his claws into whatever pie is available for flicking, so…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having grown up Jewish, I would often react in credulity when my Mom would begin to decorate for the December holidays. She’d buy blue and white lights, tape together two xmas star ornaments to make a six pointed Star of David out of two fivers, and set up a blue and white plastic Christmas Tree. She called it a “Channukah Bush.” I call the thing in the shot above an inflatable antichrist, just to illustrate that you can call a thing whatever you want to but it doesn’t mean other people will adopt your terminologies. Channukah Bush, sheesh.

Being the asshole kid I was, which foreshadowed the professional asshole I became, I’d make it a point of reminding Mumsies that amongst the very few plantings mentioned in the Torah, there was prominently a burning bush. Suggestions that we drag it outside and douse the thing in lighter fluid were seldom greeted affectionately. My Uncle Marty said it might be borderline heresy to do so, and Marty knew a good heresy when he encountered it.

Merry Christmas, lords and ladies, and to all…


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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 24, 2019 at 11:00 am

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

impossible manifest

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Merry Christmas, y’all.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My Russian Jewish grandmother always pronounced Merry Christmas “Marry Kracksmerez,” and referred to the central object of veneration at Christian churches as “Yuyzel en da cruss.” Back Monday with more Newtown Creek stuff, see ya then.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

December 25, 2015 at 11:00 am

bleak ice pinnacles

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Happy Christmas, don’t eat too much and end up like the guy in the shot above.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 25, 2012 at 12:15 am

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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