The Newtown Pentacle

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incessant reverberations

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Cool cars are everywhere in Astoria, and I don’t even have a bike.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Scuttling along in building shadows, beneath outstretched awnings, along heavily wooded lanes, and under the dripping steel of the elevated subways are the only places one such as myself can hide from the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself as its burning gaze stares down upon Western Queens during the summer.

Wan, a pale enthusiast such as myself will quickly combust if overexposed to the ultraviolet and shrinks away from direct exposure. While huddling in these particular absences of light, wonders like the sedan pictured above are encountered. This shot was from fabled 31st street, here in Astoria.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On Broadway, still in Astoria but on the way to Woodside, a relic of different but still earlier times rolled by – a Volkswagen Camper van. Many a hippie will offer tales of exciting exploration and disappointing travel associated with this model of vehicle. This survivor seems to live in the neighborhood, as it has been observed while parked on area side streets. There have been several “hipster” spottings by members of our little community of late, but until now we seem to have been free of “hippies.”

A worrying development.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby the location of the passing VW Microbus, this outlandish roadster was racing its engine in anticipation of the changing nature of traffic signals. One congratulates at the style and panache of choosing an Italian made Ferrari, but is also dizzied by the ideation of sitting in stop and go traffic on Steinway Street in one. Cool cars, lords and ladies, Queens is full of them.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 27, 2014 at 11:00 am

states suggested

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Drunkard of the week.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Back to the Kvetching, lords and ladies, and things that are definitively not alright.

This fellow spent a lovely afternoon dozing in the sun, in an obviously inebriate state, at the corner of 41st and Broadway in front of the Loyal order of Moose building. He was sleeping one off, by all appearances. This shot was captured around 6:45 in the evening, but I had spotted him in the same spot earlier in the day, around 2 p.m. Nearly five hours.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

During the late afternoon, and into the early evening, vast numbers of people walked by this man. Mothers and children, old ladies and new immigrants took in the spectacle as they passed by. Hundreds of automobiles stopped at the red light on the corner, with this napping fellow in plain sight and actually illuminated by a setting sun. How many of those cars, I wonder, were driven by the Police?

How is this oft observed behavior in the public space OK, and shouldn’t some member of the Gendarmé have checked to see if this guy was dead or alive?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow singled out in today’s post is part of a small population of inebriated gentlemen who frequent the Steinway and Broadway intersection. A small population of junkies also seem to be favoring the corner of late, with many encamping themselves at the Library. Anybody who lives hereabouts will tell you this, yet, few complain or “kvetch” about it.

“What can you do about it? Don’t start trouble”- that’s the Astoria motto.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A shot from around 7:50 or so, when I was making my way back home. This guy actually gets more sleep than I do, by all appearances, and he remained unmolested by the Police or the people in the shops for more than 5 hours. All the while in public view from an intersection. There was a guy sleeping around 2 on the opposite corner, but he had removed himself by the time I came through around 6:45.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Sunday, August 3rd, Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 1, 2014 at 2:58 pm

as offerings

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Renewing my call for commercial freight service on the NYC Subway.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One has mentioned this before: why does the NYC Subway system not offer commercial freight service during the overnight hours? How many trucks could be circumvented from ever entering Manhattan if a cargo train on the E tracks were to carry just Federal Express shipments from Kennedy airport to one of the hubs in Queens or Manhattan?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Rush hour is obviously not the time period which I’m proposing this, in fact, if the sun is up – it’s probably a bad thing to cause any interruption or delay in passenger service. I’m talking about the late nights, when most of the trains are running less than 10% full.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The MTA does it now, for themselves. Moving garbage and construction supplies around on modified rolling stock, as you see in the shots displayed above and below. They used to move cash around in similar manner, onboard the fabled “Money Train.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Load the cargo on at the Corona yard, or at the 36th street one in Brooklyn, or at Hunts Point in the Bronx – any of the final destination stops, really – and bring commercial shipments into the City’s heart via the Subways. Why not? It would reduce the number of trucks on the streets, and help eliminate some of the congestion entering and leaving in Manhattan below 96th street. It would also create a brand new revenue stream for the MTA.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The fly in the ointment would be getting the bulk cargo up out of the station, but that’s something that would be easy to engineer around and one thing NYC is not lacking in are legions of stout young citizens with strong backs and a work ethic. See, it would create jobs too.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

This weekend-

Sunday, August 3rd, Kill Van Kull Walking Tour
With Brooklyn Brainery, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 30, 2014 at 11:31 am

adding to

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Even when I’m home, shit happens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

So, I’m sitting on the porch with the dog recently, when a fly lands on a table we keep outside. The fly looks at me, all haughty like, and proceeds to squeeze out this yellowish blob from what would be, on a mammal, its buttocks. You never know with insects, but if something came out of the analogous section of the dog…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Curious as to what this yellowish blob was, I grabbed my camera and soon discovered that it was beyond the limited “macro” focusing that my lineup of glass could capture. Macro photography is its own “thing” and is an area which I’m not really set up to explore. Therefore, I had to get all inventive.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

After a quick trip to my desk for equipment – acquiring a small jewelers loupe and a pencil – I had set up a quickie magnifier for the fly goop. What I was hoping for was that was some sort of squamous egg cartridge which be sprouting worms, but I think it might have just been fly poop.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Obviously, this is far from a perfect situation – optical fidelity wise – shooting with an expensive lens through a cheap magnifying lens. There is a trick to this, one which involves disabling autofocus on the expensive glass attached to the camera. The camera desperately wanted to lock onto to the front of the loupe’s lens.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The trick is to get the focal point of the image set for the point in space at which the magnifying loupe was focused, as you see in the shot above. An interesting exercise, but I didn’t get any little worms as I hoped. Regardless, I doused the thing with Lysol and went along my merry way. The dog slept through the whole thing, but she’s a honey badger when you really get down to it.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 25, 2014 at 11:08 am

dwell along

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Ah, to retreat into the comforting ignorance of a new Dark Age…

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The human infestation has got me down today, lords and ladies. Foibles, faults, and the mysteries of the utterly ‘effed up cloud my perceptions, and a humble narrator is ready to wash his hands of this fetid excuse for a life. Unfortunately, existence is a giant shit sandwich from which we all must, in fact, take a bite. It’s probably all my fault anyway, it usually is, so perhaps it would be best if I just avoid any further interaction.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A prevailing and ongoing critique of my personality and habits as offered by loved ones and strangers alike is why I am largely nocturnal, existing in twilit grottos and forgotten places, and why I frequent the abandoned and irredeemable edges of civilization. If it wasn’t for Our Lady of the Pentacle and my little dog Zuzu, I’d likely become an urban legend that grade school children mention in hushed whispers around camp fires. “Did you know that there’s a hermit with a camera living in that abandoned coal mine?” would be what summer campers asked each other. My golden arm, indeed.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Human interaction is something which I’ve never seemed to master, despite my studied and best efforts. Perhaps I should seek out the services of mental health professionals and secure a supply of some numbing agent, retreat into an Aldous Huxley-esque SOMA haze, and just enjoy my days lost in a narcotic bliss. This is what most do, why not me too? Perhaps I should just retreat into the ignominious shadows, a penniless mendicant doomed to wander the concrete devastations of the Megalopolis. Bah. If you see me today, it would be wise to avoid all contact.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

There are two Newtown Creek walking tours coming up.

Saturday, July 26th, The Insalubrious Valley of the Newtown Creek
With Atlas Obscura, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Sunday, July 27th, Glittering Realms
With Brooklyn Brainery, lunch included, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 24, 2014 at 10:45 am

lavishly laden

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Parked on my block, a childhood aspiration.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Saturday last was a challenging day, and after performing certain actions and accomplishing a few obligations one headed back to HQ back in Astoria. Upon arriving on my block, one discovered a true American relic parked on the street – a 1980 Pontiac Trans AM!

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This particular line of automobiles held a sacred place in my teenage heart, although I favored the black variant with the gold eagle on the hood made famous by Burt Reynolds in the “Smokey and the Bandit” franchise of films back then (& now).Remembrances of building more than one plastic scale model of the 1980 Trans Am over the years comes to mind.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Competition in the form of the Camaro forced a change in body design sometime later in the 1980’s, a period of time when the American auto industry first lost its way and began the process of homogenizing their lineups. In the end, the Camaro and Trans Am became nearly identical fiberglass bodied vehicles.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The late 70’s and early 80’s Trans Am’s were late in the game muscle cars, driven hard by young drivers (guys mostly), and this one looks as if its been well taken care of bit did have a whole lot of cosmetic issues. Its amazing seeing one of these at all, as this is a thirty four year old car.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in the middle 1980’s, there used to be an impromptu drag strip which drew fast cars and idiot teenagers together on a backwater street found somewhere between East New York, Starret City, and Howard Beach which is called Fountain Avenue. I used to go there occasionally, and watch a few races. It’s since been resurfaced with a series of waves to discourage the racing.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

One night, some guy driving a souped up Trans Am floored the gas pedal when the flag dropped, signaling the start of the race. Spinning, his wheels produced a choking veil of smoke until the tires caught traction. It was all very dramatic. At the end of the course, which was the equivalent of about two blocks away, his rear wheels were still smoking and one had little wisps of blue flame at its base.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Illegal drag racing aside, I still want one of these cars, and the logo you see on the hood of this car is the singular image which one would consider getting as a tattoo. This logo is all hot dogs and coca cola and fried chicken and pretty girls who are wearing bikinis and cowboy hats while they’re playing baseball and some guy drinks Budweiser and smokes a Marlboro while thinking about … you get the idea.

Welcomes to Astoria, we got yer Americana, rights overs heres, bro.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 14, 2014 at 11:00 am

simple minded

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Fireworks in Queens, in today’s post.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

On the 4th, my neighbors Mario and Dario and I climbed up the little ladder which leads up to the roof hatch and surmounted our building. Arriving up at tar beach, we discovered that just about everyone else in Astoria had the same idea. Our view of the horizon and the Macy’s Fireworks show on the East River was hopelessly occluded, but who needs Manhattan’s little spectacle?

Queens never disappoints.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Off in the direction of Old Astoria, where the Triboro and Hells Gate Bridges can be found, the neighborhood was oddly quiet. There were the occasional detonations, as pictured above, but by Astoria standards – not too much was going on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It was the to southeast where the action was going on, and it seemed that Woodside was competing with Sunnyside and Maspeth from my vantage point.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 7, 2014 at 11:00 am

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