The Newtown Pentacle

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Wednesday linkage

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

So, it seems that the “In the Cold Waste” postings (1, 2, and 3) from last week stirred the fecal material a little bit when LIQcity and Queenscrap linked into them. If you’re inclined, check out the comment threads on their posts, my favorite one by far is from an anonymous commenter at LIQcity that said “The Newtown Pentacle person has to learn to write. I feel like Liberace or Elton John are his inspiration“.

If you want to hurt me, compare me to some latter day August Derleth, or call me an unlettered and revisionist neo-prudentialitarian with no scholarly legs to stand on- but Elton John? I’m just interested in stuff, some guy in a filthy black raincoat on the side of the road, nobody cares what I think but I still have the right to an opinion or two. Conversely, I can and will defend my opinions and admit when I’m wrong.

Maybe I do find the story of Liberace somewhat inspirational. I do prefer Elton’s vocals on “Pinball Wizard” from the movie album to the straight up Daltrey version.

– photo from wikipedia

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Discomforting and odd as it is, the theme music for most days is not Liberace or Elton John, it’s actually sides 2 & 3 of “The Wall“-

and speaking of England… Check out this post at BoingBoing about the “war on Photography” over in Britain.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also, I haven’t mentioned the podcast bliss that is Dan Carlin, have I? If podcasting could win an Academy Award, Dan would own many little statues for his recent “Ostfront” episodes of the Hardcore History series, exploring the deep history of the War on the Eastern Front between Nazi and Soviet during World War 2 (proving the point that you never want to piss off a Russian in his house, those people are insane and cannot be beaten on their home turf).

Ostfront factoid: During a spell of severe weather which had destroyed a road, the Russians marched their German POW’s to a ditch and forced them to lie down in it- spaced out in regular intervals. The Soviets poured water into the ditch, allowing the russian winter to freeze the dead solid and build them a corduroy road out of their enemies. Don’t screw around with a Russian in his house. Crazy.

Carlin’s “Common Sense” show is the most cogent discussion of modern politics I’ve been able to find anywhere. Available through iTunes, Podcast Alley, and others, follow this link to to check out the king of the hill and listen to some actual editorial journalism.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

And just as a note, today, January 6, is Three kings Day.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 6, 2010 at 4:44 am

Posted in linkage

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Some old movies

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sometimes, a humble narrator needs to admit defeat, kick off his shoes (which are showing signs of having picked up some of that queer colour observed around the odd shimmerings of the Newtown Creek) and soak in some passive entertainment.

courtesy of the Prelinger archives at

1940 ethnic New York

Focusing in on the “new community” concept of the ethnic melting pot in 1940. This is Roosevelt era propaganda, incidentally. First push to what NewSpeak calls multiculturalism (not for it or against it, just what it is).

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page link with info and multiple movie versions:

512k MP4 movie link

Unfit For the Living (ca. 1949)-

Robert Moses Propaganda, selling Public Housing as Panacea. Shows building of Alfred E. Smith Houses and makes the case for slum clearance with the promise of an ideal life in New York City Public Housing Projects.

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page link with info and multiple movie versions:

512k MP4 movie link

Social Class in America (ca. 1957)-

One of the “nose on your face” third rail topics in American Politics, which is not discussed in a modern “identity politic” defined culture. Poor people have a whole lot more in common with each other as a social class than they do with their ethnic groups. Dividing the city into groups based on how they comb their hair is Tammany Hall at its finest, there’s only 2 groups- the bosses and everyone else.

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page link with info and multiple movie versions:

512k MP4 movie link

Manhattan Waterfront (ca. 1937)-

Incredible infrastructure pornography for the tugboat and bridge fetishist crowd. Shots from Shore Road by Astoria Park of Hellgate and Triboro Bridges. Also, Manhattan waterfront shanty towns of indigent labor- not something that normally gets edited into the story of heroic modern New York.

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page link with info and multiple movie versions:

512k MP4 movie link

One of the money shots in the film is contrasted by the photo below, shot in summer of 2009.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despotism (ca. 1946)-

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A terrifying warning from “the greatest Generation” about how to determine how close to despotism your community is- which virtually predicts the modern United States after the first decade of the 21st century. Really, watch this one, scariest thing you’ll see today.

page link with info and multiple movie versions:

512k MP4 movie link

– photo by Mitch Waxman

and just as a note: December 18 is Robert Moses’s Birthday.

Written by Mitch Waxman

December 18, 2009 at 1:22 am

Posted in linkage, New York Harbor

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Linkage, and its Gettysburg Address day

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It’s the Eastern Orthodox feast day of Obadiah, and the anniversary of Christopher Columbus stepping his european foot on Puerto Rico.

Lostcity has been drilling down through the years on the enigmatic origins of the Brooks Restaurant in Long Island City.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel?

I am ashamed. For years, I’ve told myself: “One day, I’m going to get to the bottom of the mystery of 1890 Brooks Restaurant in Long Island City, and uncover its shrouded history.” But sloth and inertia took over, and now intrepid reader Ian Schoenherr is having all the “Eureka!”s.

via Lost City: The Light at the End of the Tunnel?.

just a warning, the bulleted links below lead to BRUTAL nature photos and GRAPHIC footage, if you’d rather not think about such things or are squeamish, feel free to skip these links:

Today is the anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, as well.

Here’s the little 10 sentence speech that Lincoln was rumored to have scribbled down on the back of an envelope.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate…we can not consecrate…we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Written by Mitch Waxman

November 19, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Posted in linkage, Uncategorized

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Linkage, and it’s Exploding Whale day

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Some really great stuff has come through the inbox this week, here’s some to check out

Ms. Heather, over at NYShitty

posted an amazing video of 2 Greenpointers attempting to report an oil slick floating down the Newtown Creek to the DEP and receiving brusque treatment in return for their efforts. Funny thing for the DEP operator, who forgot the call center maxim of “you don’t know who you’re talking to, so be polite”, is that the 2 Greenpointers were Laura Hoffman and Christine Holowicz.

This is the public part of who Christine is:

Christine Holowacz immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1972. She became involved in environmental issues in the Greenpoint community during the 1980s. President of the Greenpoint Property Owners since 1989, Christine devotes much of her time to issues concerning senior citizen homeowners. She is also the Church of St. Cecilia political and housing coordinator. Christine served on the Greenpoint Community Board #1’s 197a Committee as well as its Rezoning and Kosciusko Bridge upgrade Task Forces. She initiated the first meeting in the successful fight against the proposed Key Span/Con Edison power plant in Greenpoint, leading to the founding of GWAPP, which she co-chairs. She is currently part of the Greenpoint Coalition, St Nicholas Preservation and the Greenpoint Williamsburg Waterfront Task Force, and is the Community Liaison at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment plant for the Newntown Creek Monitor Committee (NCMC). Christine received the Woman of the Millennium and the Carmine “Dusty” De Chair Community awards from the Seneca Club, (2001 & 2002) for her work with GWAPP and a Citation in 2002 from the Borough President for her work in the Polish Community. She holds a BA in Economics and Accounting from Brooklyn College.

Laura is a member of the Newtown Creek Alliance, Greenpoint Waterfront Association for Planning and Parks, and did a great profile on her in 2007- which can be accessed here.

I know these two ladies from Newtown Creek Alliance meetings and they are formidable women. I actually feel bad for the DEP operator.

The EPA page

to watch for news and community coordinator for the Superfund Newtown Creek drama can be found here. Its the beginning of something very large, which will take decades, and will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. A river of federal money will wash out the creek, and all the poisons in the mud will be hatched out, or so say the G-Men. Every community along the Creek will be irrevocably altered by this process. The dragon of “Progress” is awakening again.


just posted a cool “slice” of Little Neck, click here

Just over the weekend, I mentioned the Moore Jackson Cemetery, in the “More on the White Lady of Astoria” post. I was sent a link to, which did a great workup on the place just yesterday- the 11th of November. Check it out here.


Queenscrap posted a great article…

on the efforts our friends at the Greater Astoria Historical Society are undertaking to preserve a piece of Queens history

from Queenscrap

Meeting to preserve the millstones


The Greater Astoria Historical Society and the community of Long Island City/Astoria, are concerned about the safety of the historic millstones located at Queens Plaza.

Hidden in plain site, the two millstones, some say, date from the 1600’s and are the oldest European artifacts in Queens. The city’s recent stewardship has not been very good. Photos over time show significant wear and tear to their fabric. Recently, a multimillion-dollar renovation at the Plaza has dropped them from view and construction debris litters the site.

The New York Daily News covered the issue:

Ancient millstones grist for historians

$43M Queens Plaza face-lift hits the fast lane

Colonial-era millstones in danger at Queens Plaza construction site, preservationists peeved

We ask the city to support the community’s heritage by:

  • Making the millstones available to the community by moving them from the hazards of a construction site to an exhibit space at the Greater Astoria Historical Society (or another location within the local neighborhood) where they will be not only safe, and on display, but accessible to the public along with an exhibit outlining their history.
  • Making the millstones available to historians and scholars to conduct research (during the period while they are out of the ground), and to support efforts to make them official New York City Designated Landmarks.
  • Open the millstones’ permanent installation process by selecting a location that will not only ensure their preservation within the community with an installation that will be marked with appropriate signage.

The Greater Astoria Historical Society, which not only has assumed the mantel as a watchdog over the LIC–Astoria community’s heritage, but has taken a very active role in their preservation, is calling for all interested parties, from the city planning, civics, preservation experts, and, most importantly, the general public, to come to a meeting at the Greater Astoria Historical Society, 4th Floor, 35–20 Broadway, LIC, at 6:30 PM on Wednesday, November 18, 2009.

All opinions and suggestions are welcome. Go to for additional information and pictures. Questions? Call 718–278–0700 or email

Now for the Exploding Whale.

Click here for the youtube link to the video, you’ve seen it before, but today’s the anniversary.

from wikipedia

On November 12, 1970, a 14 m (45 ft 11 in), eight-ton sperm whale died as a result of beaching itself near Florence, Oregon. All Oregon beaches are under the jurisdiction of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, but responsibility for disposing of the carcass fell upon a sister agency, the Oregon Highway Division (now known as the Oregon Department of Transportation, or ODOT). After consulting with officials from the United States Navy, they decided that it would be best to remove the whale as they would remove a boulder. They thought burying the whale would be ineffective, as it would soon be uncovered, and believed the dynamite would disintegrate the whale into pieces small enough for scavengers to clear up.

Thus, half a ton of dynamite was applied to the carcass. The engineer in charge of the operation, George Thornton, stated his fear that one set of charges might not be enough, and more might be needed. (Thornton later explained that he was chosen to remove the whale because the district engineer, Dale Allen, had gone hunting).

The resulting explosion was caught on film by cameraman Doug Brazil for a story reported by news reporter Paul Linnman of KATU-TV in Portland, Oregon. In his voiceover, Linnman alliteratively joked that “land-lubber newsmen” became “land-blubber newsmen … for the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds.” The explosion caused large pieces of blubber to land near buildings and in parking lots some distance away from the beach, one of which caused severe damage to a parked car. Only some of the whale was disintegrated; most of it remained on the beach for the Oregon Highway Division workers to clear away.

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