The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for the ‘Broadway’ Category

only crawl

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Astoria, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just the other night, while hanging out at my local pub here in the southern end of Astoria, some rough fellow accosted one with the usual “hey, what are taking pictures of?” thing. Bellicose, the gentleman began to advise me that I should spend my time photographing the skyline of Manhattan because “no one cares about Queens.”

He was rather insistent about this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This is kind of rallying cry for me, this “no one cares about Queens” thing, and it’s bothersome to have to argue about it with some guy who – as it later turned out – had a largish back tattoo whose motif included a shoulder to shoulder swastika.

I’m all for political expression of course, but a Nazi in Astoria?

Conversation with amiable bartenders over the weekend revealed that there seems to be a small population of like minded individuals in the neighborhood. They’ve actually had to reprimand one fellow who liked to read passages from “Mein Kampf” out loud at the bar.

“Really?” was all I could say.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s not strange that racists and other adherents to rather ugly philosophies can be found in Astoria. We’ve got Jihadi sympathizers on the ass end of Steinway Street, and those Greek “National Front” guys are here as well -heck- a few years ago I even ran into a small group of actual card carrying Bolsheviks who opined that the revolution was nigh. “Diversity” includes nut jobs and jerks too, it would seem.

Thing is – If you’re a racist, “politically” a racist that is, Astoria probably ain’t the sort of place you’re going to want to live in. It will be exhausting for you to merely identify or classify the human infestation hereabouts, let alone espouse a specific grievance about all the groups who are living and working here. We have everybody from Egyptians to Eskimos, Thai to Tibetan, Irish to Indian. There’s normal human prejudice and frictions encountered occasionally when these wildly different cultures rub up against each other, but Nazi’s?

How retro.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Historically speaking, Queens has a rather checkered past on this subject. Members of what we would call the American Nazi party – the so called German American Bund – were rather active in the years leading up to the Second World War here in Queens (and especially so in Ridgewood and Bushwick).

These neighborhoods hosted a rather large German population back then, who referred to their communities in New York City as “Kleine Deutschland” and the “bund” was usually in tune – politically speaking – with their distant homeland. All of that fell apart during the Second World War and the American Nazi’s became associated with extreme elements of the Ku Klux Klan, and prison gangs like the Aryan Nation.

Hey, when you grow up Jewish, you develop a certain sensitivity to this sort of thing. Swastika bad.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

July 12th, 2015
Glittering Realms Walking Tour
with Newtown Creek Alliance, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 22, 2015 at 11:00 am

sidetracked once

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Death, annihilation, and hatred… in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is not in a good mood, so bitching will ensue.

Psychological firmament at the moment would be best defined as reminiscent of the general anger and malaise one enjoyed in the late 1980’s. A neighbor casually asked me the other night “Howz yooz doins, brah?” and my only answer emanated from that era with “What this City needs is a good plague.” If it weren’t for the physical cowardice and generally avoidant set of behaviors which rule me, I might stamp my feet and cry out loud at passerby. A desire to craft a sandwich board vest which announces the nighness of the end compels and overtakes. The train is crowded, and so are my thoughts.

Why is it so noisy all the time, and why is there no place to pee?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’d bring up the whole dumb idea of decking over the Sunnyside Yards with these innocent travelers whom I’d acost with the truth of our times, and check off a list of realities associated with the population whose arrival in Western Queens is already scheduled. Thing is, if one was to become overexcited and display the wild eyed zeal and abundant mania which typified the behaviors of times gone by, one might fall into one of his states and need to be taken to a trauma center of some kind and the nearest one is found in Manhattan at Bellevue.

How could I achieve carbon neutrality after spending a hour in an Ambulance in Manhattan traffic? Ow, my algorithm.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Would one opine about the corrosive effects that afternoon drunkeness and public vagrancy cause in the minds of kids in particular and the community as a whole? Here, on Broadway in Astoria, populations of fellows like the gentlemen pictured above spend their days and nights wandering about in a drunken haze. Public urination, defecation, and drinking are commonly observed. As well, one routinely has to wake them up when they pass out in his doorway. Whether you feel sorry for these chaps or hate them, why aren’t the Police policing them?

Would the presence of obvious brothels in storefront locations on the main shopping thoroughfare be mentioned, and would the seeming toleration of such establishments by the aforementioned local police come up as well? If you leave your car parked in the wrong place for just a few minutes, the gendarme are promptly on scene to issue a ticket. What about drunks sleeping in front of your grocery stores and in your driveways, or storefront whores performing their trade next door to the bagel shop?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“What this City needs is a good plague” was a standard answer for me when people asked “Howze it goin, dude” back in the 80’s. That era in NYC wasn’t the way that some are describing it these days, opining about “energy and vigor and…” It was a grimy shithole which had seen better days, where you took your life in your hands by getting off at an unfamiliar Subway stop. An era of “getting jumped” and “mugged,” when you’d routinely see trails of blood on the pavement which would lead you from place to place. Sometimes they’d lead back to a party, but you didn’t have to go far to find a house party somewhere in East Village back then. More often the trails would lead over the bridge from Alphabet City into Williamsburg, where a lot of people found themselves bleeding back then.

Meh, I’m going to go listen to some Black Flag.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 17, 2015 at 11:00 am

hysterical madness

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Shots and anecdotes from Astoria, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Queens Cobbler is at work again, this singular shoe was observed on the 21st street side of the ancient village while perambulation was underway. A trophy hunting predator walks amongst us, unseen and unnoticed by the Gendarmes. Mark my words, lords and ladies, soon you will see banner headlines about the Queens Cobbler and his nefarious work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My upstairs neighbor, one of the laconic Croatians who populate my particular neck of the woods, tells me that the price of food has become “terrible” hereabouts. She laments what has happened to her adopted country in the roughly three decades that she has dwelt here, and informs that once she reaches retirement age a return to Istria will be a top priority.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Newtown Pentacle’s district office is found at Doyle’s, an Irish bar on Broadway and 42nd street – the Times Square of Astoria. During the warm months, it is my habit to pack up Zuzu the dog and make an end of day pilgrimage to this District Office, in order to touch base with the neighbors and enjoy a pint or two of beer.

Not long ago, whilst engaged in this activity, a bird on a wire was observed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria, Queens… we now have wild Parrots infesting the neighborhood. There’s also Opossums, one of which showed up at my own door recently. Zuzu the dog bit it on the butt, which caused it to retreat back to whatever cryptid critter bolt hole is preferred by the out of place and unexpected fauna wandering about the ancient village.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

June 11th, 2015
BROOKLYN Waterfront Hidden Harbor Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee, click here for details and tickets.

June 13th, 2015
The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek Walking Tour
with Atlas Obscura, click here for details and tickets.

June 20th, 2015
Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
with Brooklyn Brainery, click here for details and tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

derided by

with one comment

Darkness, it’s all darkness.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Friends and acquaintances mock me for always having a camera at the ready. When I walk my little dog Zuzu about for her daily inspections of the neighborhood here in Astoria, I’m carrying a camera. When Our Lady of the Pentacle and I go out for dinner, I’m “armed” with a dslr. It is virtually impossible for me to leave the house without the thing. Why? Your very best bet that nothing “interesting” is going to happen to you when out and about is to be prepared to record it, whether it be trouble or one of the wonders which Queens randomly sends your way. Accordingly, I’m always popping off exposures of “slice of life” stuff – such as the lineup of Boro Cabs moving down Astoria’s Broadway in the shot above. It’s exactly this sort of mundane stuff which I think will be important in the long term. Queens, as we know it, is probably not going to look much like this in twenty years.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was captured while weaving home from a local bar, recently, after a “few drinks” ended up becoming a bit of a bacchnal that stretched well past its scheduled interval. One of those fiendishly loud private carting company packer trucks was following its route down Broadway, collecting commercial trash. Modern versions of this sort of truck are festooned with lights, creating an island of illumination around them. Unfortunately, the nocturnal necessities of the business it is engaged in also forces their crews to work as quickly as possible, which results in a terrific amount of noise and an outright disobeyance of traffic law and custom.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was captured in Astoria as well, at the extreme southern definition of the neighborhood at 34th avenue. A particularly dark spot, favored by Zuzu the dog for close inspection, made for a challenging capture. All of that experimentation in the fuligin depths of the Subway system which I’ve been engaged in has been in pursuit of this sort of photo, btw.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 30, 2015 –
The Skillman Corridor with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

May 11, 2015 at 11:00 am

nothing now

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Twirling, ever twirling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The POV at the 40th Lowery Street stop on the 7 train causes my jaw to drop everytime I see it. Given what it costs for acccess to the observation deck at “Top of the Rock” or the Empire State Building, the MTA really delivers value for money – view wise – here on Queens Blvd. Turn your head to the left – you can spy the Kosciuszko Bridge, look straight ahead and its the whole soup bowl of Manhattan, and to the right there’s Hells Gate Bridge. This view is fortuitous, as at least you have some diversion while wondering when the train will arrive.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This spring, I’m trying to mix things up a bit and do some shooting in parts of Western Queens which aren’t part of my normal “thing.” There’s a bit of tumult going on between my ears at the moment, so the curative – as always – is to just get out and do some photographing in challenging places. To wit, the combination of bright and dark offered by the 7 tracks as they exit Woodside and head towards Jackson Heights along Roosevelt Avenue. Exposing for both lighting conditions is a wicked conumndrum, camera wise, but all of the shooting I’ve been experimenting with in the underground system pays a certain dividend when attempting this sort of thing.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Roosevelt Avenue is, of course, pretty much antithetical to anyone who desires solitude or quiet. The blasting sound of passing trains that cascades down form the elevated’s steel is monstrous. One thing which always staggers the European University people whom I’ll conduct tours of Newtown Creek or Long Island City for is noise. It seems that the EU is several decades ahead of us in terms of what they legally define as “pollution” and that endemic urban background noise is taken as seriously as bad water or air.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

all massing

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Better late than never.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a community over on reddit which posts “shower thoughts.” It’s usually the deep revelation stuff: “buying a Lay Z Boy makes you a lazy boy” sort of ideas. My brain is a bit bruised today – one has been attempting to force the organ to fulfill its purpose (other than just acting as a counterweight for my butt) of late – so I won’t bore you with my little snippets of realized truth as they would all sound something like: “tired, so tired, tired, my foot hurts, tired…” and so on. That’s what my shower thoughts might sound like when I’m transversing Ravenswood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Speaking of Ravenswood, somebody went to no small amount of effort at creating a giant hole in the ground nearby Queens Plaza. This aperture was something like 30-40 feet across and of an unknown depth. I’d like to think that NYPD has finally found that vampire nest they’ve been searching for, you know, the ones that attack the Blood Center on Vernon every night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is sticking close to home this weekend, as next week “it begins.” “It” is Newtown Creek tour season, and I’m likely not going to see too much of home on Saturdays and Sundays for the next several months – a welcome counterpart to the frozen season recently past.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Tours –

May 3, 2015 –
DUBPO, Down Under the Pulaski Bridge Onramp
with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, a free tour offered as part of Janeswalk 2015, click here for tickets.

May 16, 2015 –
13 Steps Around Dutch Kills with Atlas Obscura

with Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for details and tickets.

May 31, 2015 –
Newtown Creek Boat Tour
with Working Harbor Committee and Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman, click here for tickets.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 24, 2015 at 4:26 pm

streaming out

with 2 comments

The law is an ass.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Frustrating, calling 311 is.

Having just spent thirty minutes attempting to report a violation of NYC’s anti idling law – there’s a large RV with a diesel engine parked in front of HQ, which also destroyed a series of branches of my street tree when pulling into its parking spot, and whose engine has been running for better than an hour – the 311 operator informed me that DEP would be out in ten days to investigate the report.

When one opined that the offending vehicle would likely not be there in ten days, and that this might be something properly assigned to the NYPD traffic unit for enforcement, the operator reluctantly agreed to inform the 114th pct. She suggested that I call 911 instead, but this sort of thing hardly qualifies as a Police emergency.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The process of calling 311 has gotten more and more painful over the years, and what was once a smooth point of contact between community and government has turned into a bureaucratic shit show. I had to make two separate reports with two different operators, and give them the same information twice. The street tree part of it went to Parks, and the idling complaint to DEP, when both are street enforcement actions best handled by NYPD ticket books. 311 now also insists on acquiring all the identifying information about the caller as possible, which is no doubt a) data mining and b) will cause me to think twice before calling 311 again. Meanwhile, an hour and a half after this vehicle parked in front of HQ – the engine is still idling.

I didn’t mention “who I am” on the call (because that’s kind of dickish), but next time I run into the Commissioner of the DEP, she’s going to get an earful about this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

People get after me for acting like an accusatory asshole towards our employees, but that’s the way that I perceive anybody from the Mayor on down who collects a check from the City. Speaking truth to power is my creed, and when these employees of ours screw the pooch, the boss has something to say about it. Their boss isn’t the Mayor, it’s you and me, and our employees are doing a shit job of late.

Citizen Mitch has seen something, said something, and the City damned well better do something.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 30, 2015 at 11:11 am

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