The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

looming up

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Continuing a night time stroll down Jackson Avenue.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For generations have the children of Queens cried out in anguish and despair that they were denied their birthright – a chance to live in a small to medium sized but quite expensive apartment in or near Queens Plaza. Luckily, the powers that be over in Manhattan heard the children’s pleas and have answered their prayers. The under construction structure pictured above will be capped off by an “infinity pool,” which should answer another group’s longings – specifically the statistically relevant number of people who have always wanted to swim in a pool high above Queens Plaza. It’s a magical place, after all.

I get nostalgic for the porn shops and hookers, personally. They really dressed the place up, back in the day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The stretch of Jackson Avenue lying betwixt Queens Plaza and 31st street is just horrible. You’ve got security fences and fortress walls on one side of the street, and long featureless construction fences on the other. A dizzying amount of automotive traffic occupies the center, and above there’s the tormenting sound of steel subway wheels grinding against the elevated rails. Jackson Avenue is too dark, and too bright, all at the same time. Everything is a confusion. It’s terrifying crossing the street, as every intersection is rumbling with traffic waiting to spring forth. Also, there’s vampires hiding up there in the steel.

God almighty, how I love places like this.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dormitory style living awaits just a few blocks away, where all of that traffic – both automotive and locomotive – is coincidentally heading towards. Queens Plaza is where an automotive choke point turn off of Jackson Avenue carries you towards the onramps of the Queensboro Bridge. It’s also where the Flushing line subway conjoins with the Astoria service, so you’ve got that extra bit of steel rail sound to contemplate. I could not hear anything playing on the headphones jammed in my ears while shooting these photos, which indicates just how loud Queens Plaza actually is.

There’s lots and lots of new construction here, so the kids of Queens can finally live the dream. There’s that.


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In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

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January 20, 2020 at 11:00 am

physician whispered

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Pedestrian unfriendly, I tell you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “angles’ between neighborhoods, which is the term I use for those “neither here nor there” spots you encounter around Queens, are seldom friendly to pedestrian pursuits. The corner of Northern Blvd. and 31st street, where Northern also transmogrifies into its ancestral name of Jackson Avenue, forms the angle between the Dutch Kills and Astoria zones. Y’know what? I’m not going to fall into the trap of describing the exact borders of Astoria, Woodside, Ravenswood, Dutch Kills, or Astoria.

If I did, somebody or group of bodies would excoriate and ridicule, scold or dismiss. One such as myself is too delicate of constitution to chance recrimination.

Fascination with the trails of light offered by automotive traffic continues. Additionally, given how dark and forbidding this section of Jackson Avenue normally is – due to a lack of street lighting at night and those overhead subway tracks during the day – the only time you get to visualize and marvel at the high flying structural steel is at night, due to those vehicle lights strobing about the utilitarian landscape.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured is the corner of Jackson Avenue and 29th street, where the head waters of Newtown Creek’s tributary Dutch Kills were once found, and the waterway lent its name to this section of Long Island City. That was before LIC separated itself from Newtown, and NYC consolidation, or the Queensboro Bridge, or Sunnyside Yards, or the Dual Contracts era of subway construction, or the highways – forever reshaped this fairly ancient part of Queens. There’s still a low point in the pavement where the waterway once collected into a pond, but in the deeps below all you’ll find are electrical cables, sewers, and the cut and cover tunnel which carries the tracks of the IND subways below. The tracks above, for those unfamiliar, carry rolling stock of the Astoria line subway emanating from the Queensboro Bridge towards a terminal stop at Ditmars Blvd.

In the distance is Queens Plaza, which is in the process of being converted over to high density residential usage from its former commercial and industrial zoning of the 20th century.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Realizing that I had missed a shot desired, one reversed course for a block to catch the illuminated passage of one of those Astoria line subways exiting the 31st street corridor and turning onto Jackson Avenue. Formerly, the Taxi Leasing company at the right of the shot enjoyed a gigantic parking lot for its fleet, but that lot has been developed into some new gargantua of a building. Might be rentals, or a hotel – I’m not sure. I met the fire safety director of a different hotel, while shooting this. He was out getting coffee, apparently. Nice guy.

More on Monday, at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 17, 2020 at 1:00 pm

Posted in newtown creek

chiseled formula

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This isn’t a costume, it’s a lifestyle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A too tight hat caused one’s circulatory system to malfunction in the head region during a recent walk down Northern Blvd. By the time Steinway Street was crossed, it felt as if one had drank a bottle of strong whiskey. Traffic was whizzing about, going wherever it is that people go. Having nowhere to go myself, I generally don’t whiz, and one rather prefers a gentle pace. I’ve timed it, my pace, and it’s about two miles an hour – presuming I don’t get distracted by something shiny or some flashing light.

Once, I got stuck in front of a lascivious “we’re open” sign for two hours, drooling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent encounters with the humans have left one numb and depressed.

As a note, this section of Northern Blvd. is at the beginning of a period of profound alteration, in case you’re wondering why I’m paying so much attention to it lately. The “safe streets” crowd in City Hall has decided that pedestrian islands need to be installed, which is already a “done deal” and a project which will be starting up shortly. Additionally, the failure of NYC City Planning to launch a cohesive redevelopment plan for the section of Northern between Queens Plaza and Woodside Avenue they had been working on called “LIC Core,” has brought on a flood of speculative real estate investment along Northern Blvd., or as I call it – The Carridor – which will see the street transformed by new construction in the coming years. A humble narrator is making it a point of creating some sort of record of what “was” here at the start of the 21st century.

Despite the fact that my mind was numbed by the too tight hat, restricted blood flow did not alter me from my intended action. Focus, boy, focus.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Even the former LIC FDNY Hook and Ladder 66 firehouse which has been occupied in recent years by the NYPD Emergency Services Unit is up for sale at the moment.

Since the broken toe drama which brought 2019 to a crashing halt is seemingly resolved, one has been on a positive arc in the new year. A return to daily perambulatory and photographic pursuits has been undertaken, and such activity has assumed a level of primacy in my priorities. Muscle tone and endurance has begun to return, and two months of flabby fat accumulation has begun to melt away. I’ve been out and about with the camera constantly, wandering the streets while the rest of you sleep and dream.

If only I can remember not to affix my hat too tightly.


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In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 16, 2020 at 2:00 pm

nightmare pits

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Down the Carridor once more.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent endeavor found one desirous of some exercise with about two hours worth of time to get it. I left HQ and soon found myself scuttling down Northern Blvd. – or, as I call it: The Carridor. An abundance of used car lots, as well as a pernicious amount of automotive traffic, distinguishes the particular stretch of Northern Blvd., a section which one often inhabits. Until the 20th century, this part of the street was also called Jackson Avenue, just like the narrower continuation of it that snakes past the Queensboro Bridge and into LIC to its start at the corner of Vernon Blvd. The Carridor is part of NYS Route 25A, and continues eastwards from Vernon some 73 miles to Suffolk County’s Calverton. John C. Jackson is who the road was named for. The dates I’ve been able to track down for the creation of Northern Blvd., as a widened high speed road, start in 1927 and indicate that construction crews in Queens were busy throughout 1928 and possibly as late as 1929. This is hazy, though, and obscured by time.

Quite obviously, The Carridor is part of the House of Moses, as in Robert Moses.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While scuttling along, this jaunty and quite cool car was encountered over on 42nd street, nearby a mechanic shop and a motorcycle dealership. This block is “one of my spots” where I often check to see if interesting automobiles might be parked along the curb. With all the car dealerships in this section, you’ll often see historic cars or even specialty kit units like the one above.

One had screwed up when leaving the house, due to having made an attempt at maintaining his personal hygiene. I was wearing my lucky “NCA” baseball hat, which had recently been washed. When donning the thing before leaving HQ, I absentmindedly adjusted the fitting on it two notches too tight. Mistake.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

With my too tight hat cutting off blood flow, it soon induced a swooning vertigo in me, and the sort of mental state which normally occurs after a chance encounter with teenagers. Clear memory of the rest of my scuttle eludes, and I was forced to piece it all together after returning to HQ, from the contents of my camera’s memory card.

The horror…


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January 15, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Posted in newtown creek

sealed up

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Better late than never?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Sorry for the single shot today, but my schedule got the better of me. Back tomorrow with something that won’t leave you hungry an hour later.

Pictured is thirty seconds of recorded light and time on Astoria’s Broadway.


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In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

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January 14, 2020 at 2:30 pm

was unyielding

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Lurking through Astoria, always in fear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One attended a presentation by Tom Grech, show runner and the head poobah of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, last week at the offices of Community Board 1 here in Astoria. Tom, whom I’ve known for some time now, described his organization’s operation and history to the gathered members of this particular committee (I’m attending at least one meeting of every CB1 committee in addition to the two I’m actually assigned to – which are environmental and transit). Tom also explored some of the economic conditions, situations, and challenges here in the World’s Borough, and listened to experiential anecdotes from a gathered group which included several local business owners. All in all, a positive and optimistic conversation. The meeting ended, and despite several people offering me a ride home in their automobiles, one opted instead on scuttling back to HQ and photographing interesting sights encountered along the way.

This is my way.

This particular predicate is offered to explain why one such as myself was wandering around the Grand Central Parkway in the late evening recently, as I’m forced these days into excusing and explaining my activities, motivations, and very existence to any random petitioner who might inquire. Advice is often graciously offered to a humble narrator as well by well wishers – about how to right his life, conform to societal norms, or prepare for an uncertain future. A wandering mendicant remain I.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A trench carved out of Astoria carries the Grand Central Parkway, a principal arterial high speed road designed to funnel Manhattan bound automotive traffic – pulsing out of Nassau and Suffolk counties – towards the toll plazas of the Triborough Bridge. According to a 2015 study by the NYC DOT, approximately 165,000 vehicle trips are calculated as occurring along the Grand Central Parkway daily. The Grand Central Parkway is found entirely within the Borough of Queens, is roughly 14.6 miles long, was created in 1936, and its designation as a parkway is due to it once having wooded land on either side of the road that was publicly accessible. A widening project in 1961 eliminated the “park” concept, but the name “parkway” is still used. If I had my way, you’d see this road decked over, with parks built on the local streets grade level.

One was drawing attention to himself while photographing these shots, notably from a Police Officer who was lying in wait for speeding vehicles. There is an air of vulnerability in this section of Astoria, a sense of “nowhere to run or hide,” and the sure knowledge that if trouble arrived you’d be dealing with it all on your own. Well, on this night, I’d have that Cop who was eyeballing me, but… The streets surrounding the Grand Central hereabouts are part of an “IBZ” or Industrial Business Zone, and therefore deserted at night. Damaged throwaways, lunatics, addicts, nefarious ruffians, and social outsiders like myself wander about the area at night. Everywhere do the cyclopean eyes of security cameras scan and record.

It was cold, dark, and I had to make pee pee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The local street elevation provides an interesting window for a long exposure exploration of how traffic flow patterns play out in the “real world.” In the near future, should those postdeluvian prognostications of the scholarly climatologists come true, this will be the site of a Grand Central Canal, filled with six to ten feet of water. Imagine what sort of battrachian monstrosities will be spotted swimming in its depths of this trench, having migrated out of Long Island Sound and the northern stretches of the East River.

In a century, will we see hundreds of thousands of amphibious watercraft moving to and from Manhattan along this stretch of the Grand Central? What of the tentacled horrors which would lurk in its voluminous murk? Will this be the Astoria Abyss?


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January 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

beyond certain

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Flat out in the hood.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other night, while scuttling down Northern Blvd., a group of teenagers walked by. One reacted badly to their presence, and although I was able to maintain a placid facade of indifference as they passed, it wasn’t long after that a humble narrator swooned down onto the pavement in a paroxysm of panic. It has been a while since my vast reservoir of physical cowardice initiated “one of my states,” but you take the good with the bad I always say. Adolescents are unpredictable and possibly ferocious creatures, after all, and despite the fact that this particular group didn’t seem to be over 14 years in age, nor over 100 pounds in weight, their threatening nature was clearly implied. Two of the females in particular seemed like they might be rather mean spirited, and apt to utter comments of the cutting variety. I managed to maintain composure until they disappeared from view, whereupon I then fell into a triggered heap. I’m not meant to be around the humans, particularly the young ones.

Of course, in my neck of the woods here in Queens, it’s become a rather common sight to see a grown man passed out on the sidewalk, so… Nobody cares.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has been fastidious about his return to regular perambulatory pursuits, and on the night these images were captured, a perfunctory local route was chosen. The veritable spring is returning to one’s step, after the broken toe drama which defined the last months of 2019, but muscle tone has definitely degraded during my recovery period. Daily scuttling is required, therefore. A minimum interval of 4-5 miles a day dedicated photowalking time is my goal, although inclement weather can easily derail that routine. So can the sudden and jarring appearance of young adolescents.

After picking myself up from that puddle of tears one shed during the nervous fit, the camera began to be actuated again, a pursuit which corrected ones mood. Several years ago, a group of 12 year olds so thoroughly spooked me that I hid behind a tombstone in Maspeth’s Mt. Zion cemetery for so long that I narrowly avoided getting locked into the facility by its attendants. Amongst men, I am no fierce lion, rather am I tremulous, a fainting goat.

One such as myself is meant for the gentle pursuits of the parlor, and controlled circumstance. No surprises, either. I’m delicate.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On my way back to HQ here in Astoria, several lumbering steps carried me up to the hoary hills of Newtown Road, where a smallish green house has always demanded a certain fascination. The property hosts a driveway set onto a path diagonal to the street grid, and it very well might be a remnant of “Old Ridge Road.” This enigmatic structure is found at the corner of 46th street if you want to examine it for yourself. There’s are obvious additions welded onto an older structure (see the diagonal roofed section, for instance), but you can still see the rugged outline of a small farmhouse in the central section.

Another group of adolescents were noticed approaching from the direction of Woodside, silhouetted lasciviously by street lamps, and from deep within a humble narrator did a wave of anticipate panic begin to rise. One spun on his heels while they were still several blocks away, and I walked at a quick pace back towards the safety of HQ, with its layers of stoutly locked doors.


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Buy a book!

In the Shadows at Newtown Creek,” an 88 page softcover 8.5×11 magazine format photo book by Mitch Waxman, is now on sale at blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 10, 2020 at 11:00 am

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