The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Posts Tagged ‘inebriates

from places

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A nap, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This fellow, who was enjoying a nap on the sidewalk of Broadway in Astoria recently, is part of that large group of day laborers who congregate around a paint and hardware store found on the north side of the street between 41st and 42nd. These fellows are just looking to pick up a little work, and many are familiar faces in the neighborhood. Recently, the Salvation Army has been showing up to feed them, which has drawn a few ferals into their group.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s always been a certain “edge” to one or two of these guys, but again, what a man does to earn a living is his own business until it affects me. There’s a good amount of beer (and pizza) consumed by those unlucky enough to have not made the cut who are still on the scene in the afternoon. Old or small or unsavory, these are the guys who weren’t chosen by those passing contractors that employ the group as day laborers, but… working guys default to drinking beer. Some, like this gentleman, prefer the harder stuff and this is becoming an increasingly common sight in Astoria. Some guy passed out on the sidewalk, insensate and with the bottle in his hand, in full view of passing kids.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Your humble narrator is no virgin on the subject of spirits, lords and ladies. One was once able to quaff vast amounts of the stuff, spending entire days in the fog of youthful bacchanal, but not once did I ever find myself unconscious on the pavement (and I really, really tried). The idea of falling asleep on the streets of New York City like this… is terrifying. After capturing these shots, I walked over to the captain of the day labor crew, a fellow adorned with butterfly and “13” tattoos (he acts as translator for the largely Spanish speaking group) and offered “Yo boss, y’all gotta help your man out, he gonna get clipped.” These guys do try to look out for each other, and a couple of them scooped the drunk up and dropped him around the corner, placing him in someone’s driveway so as to provide cover from police attention.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are three Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Sunday, June 21st, America’s Workshop
A FREE tour, courtesy of Green Shores NYC, click here for rsvp info

Saturday, June 28th, The Poison Cauldron
With Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, June 29th, The Insalubrious Valley
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 18, 2014 at 10:39 am

intently and shudderingly

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dissonant, the mad cacophonies of Western Queens often drive one such as myself beyond the brink of madness, and solace from this unending assault can only be found deep within the grounds of Calvary Cemetery. First Calvary, that is. To me, the name of the neighborhood which hosts the burial grounds of the Roman Catholics is aptly named, and Blissville is where one retreats to commune with the relative silence of the polyandrion.

Now, over the last few years, I have seen many strange and wonderful things, and witnessed places in New York City that only a select would even suspect to exist. I have seen dead animals of all sorts littering the streets, a few killed in rituals, but mostly from accidents. I have never seen a dead human being floating by in the rivers or the creeks, nor have I found some dude lying on the side of the road- I’m lucky like that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Imagine how excited I was, then, when this seeming casualty appeared on my jaunty stroll through First Calvary on a sunny March afternoon. Finally. That’s when the terror set in.

A question which a humble narrator often asks himself, when confronted with situations that require moral, legal, and philosophical contemplations is simply “How would I explain this to Judge Judy?.”

In the case of photographing a possibly deceased human (pondered as I shot these pictures so quite obviously one wasn’t exactly impaled on the horns of dilemma) do you photograph first and then call the cops? What exactly do you tell the cops? “Yeah… I do this blog… Yes sir, I walked here… No sir, nothing like that… Yes sir, Waxman with an x”… and so on?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As your humble narrator processed an answer which might be acceptable to both televised jurist and hard boiled gendarme, the corpse suddenly animated, its mouth parts bleating out a long and phlegmatic tone which reminded one most of snoring.

Deductive reason suggests that instead of dead, this fellow was merely asleep. A lovely place for a nap, despite the shocking suggestions offered by a prone positioned human laying stock still on the ground in a cemetery, as the sun was warm and bright, soft grass welcomes, and there is plentiful company. Below, three million lie.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The ground at Calvary is sown with “all too soon’s,” “should have been me instead’s,” and “why’s.” The soil is composed of the “they’ll never get to’s” and “cut down in their prime’s,” along with the good who died young and the bad who died old. If there is any place in New York City where one can sense that there very well might be a whole other side to existence that extends beyond the meat, it’s at Calvary.

Spending too much time here can be dangerous, a little over three hours usually does it, when a hypnagogic spell begins to infiltrate the mind of the visitor.

Lethargy and somnolence exert a pull inexorable, and afflicted day trippers experience a desire to just lay down on the ground… and nap.

“Just for a little while,” they will say. I always answer this with a single question.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What would one dream of, if they were to fall sleep in First Calvary Cemetery?

profound discouragement

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Odd things occur during the night, here in the rolling hills of Astoria.

Just last week, a thief arrived in the small hours of the night and stole two cement planters from in front of the building where Newtown Pentacle HQ is located. The planters were simple things, but quite heavy, and had stood outside the entry way to this building for decades (as I have been told by my neighbors). A stocky man and powerfully built, as revealed by security camera footage, pulled his car up to the curb and purloined the items in under a minute.

His manner was strange, displaying a jerky style of locomotion and there was something just “not right” about his appearance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Later in the week, a series of loud “pops” echoed through the night.

Fireworks were thought the culprit, detonations of which are a fairly common occurrence in the neighborhood, but area wags were set to wonder- and more than wonder- when a small army of Fire Department Personnel arrived in duty uniform and deployed in large numbers across several blocks. High above, helicopters circled, and the FDNY employees were observed operating a series of metering instruments.

Suddenly, they all returned to their units and left.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Police too have been busy in the area of late, and several nocturnal arrests of unlikely seeming suspects have also aroused rumormongering and gossip amongst the gentry.

More than once have I noticed the local constabulary collecting stricken or unconscious men off the street. These have not been the “usual suspects” either- the familiar cast of local inebriates or opiate devotees who provide regular annoyance and predictable chaos. Many of these men seem to be foreign born, display a low and common character, are oddly tattooed, and universally bear either craniofacial injuries or deformities. Often they are screaming something in an unintelligible and unfamiliar language, which Croat, Egyptian, and Greek alike refer to as some sort of gibberish.

Something odd seems to be going on, here amongst the concrete devastations of Western Queens…


Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming walking and boat tours of Newtown Creek, and Staten Island’s Kill Van Kull

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

for June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

July 8th, 2012- Atlas Obscura Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley

for July 8th tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 25, 2012 at 1:39 am

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