The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

November 3rd and 4th found Our Lady of the Pentacle and a humble narrator wandering about in the South Hills section of Pittsburgh, and viewing a series of available rentals. There were a couple of real gems – buildings with great bones – as they say – which would seriously benefit from an investment in the modernization of the house’s physical plant but which didn’t fit our aims. We saw places with old fixtures, creaky stairs, and windows which seemed like they were about to fall away from the walls. We also saw a few “modern” places which also weren’t quite what we were looking for, neighborhood wise.

Luckily, Our Lady had expertly used the Zillow service to find the ideal landing pad for us in Pittsburgh, and we then secured the new address with a lease. This particular post is actually being written in that space, in the finished basement which is going to be my new office space. We now live in the Borough of Dormont, in the City of Pittsburgh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, I actually need to come back to NYC next weekend to manage the movers and tie down a few loose ends. Truly am I looking forward to driving the 400 miles back and forth, a humble narrator sarcastically offers. As of next week’s Wednesday, I’m no longer going to be a New Yorker. Well… I’ll always be an “I’M WALKIN HERE” New Yorker, but there you go.

We signed the lease for the new digs and then all of a sudden our calendars were clear. It was decided to go exploring a bit so we hopped into the car and set about that purpose.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Carnegie is another one of the many communities that are part of the Pittsburgh metropolitan setup. I had noticed an interesting series of Church towers while driving past the community on a highway, which I wanted to take a closer look at, and we headed over there for a bit of an “explore.”

Funnily enough, that building in the shot above houses the Carnegie Historical Society, and that white car in front of it is my own. We randomly parked in front of the place, and when I got out of the car, the showrunner of the Carnegie Historical Society was standing in the doorway, and broadly smiling at me like he had been expecting us to show up.

More tomorrow.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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

December 6, 2022 at 11:00 am

clustered towers

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

November 2nd found Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself waking up in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. As mentioned in Friday’s post, it was a particularly foggy morning, but we had a mission. This trip to the Paris of the Midwest involved finding a rental property for us to land in, and we had a combination of professional realtor and Zillow appointments to oblige. You gotta eat, though, and on our way to a local diner for a heavy breakfast the car was parked in a multi story lot building which sits alongside the streetcar or “T” Red Line.

I know, it’s crazy. The Government types don’t want you to take your car into the city center to alleviate congestion, so they’ve set up for pay parking nearby mass transit lines rather than shaming you for not riding a bike into the City. Lots of people ride bikes here, and use them to commute (there’s bike and scooter share systems), but they’re not the answer to cancer or the cure for baldness like the bicycle people will tell you they are back in NYC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The T is a smallish transit system, at least as compared to the Subways of NYC. It’s not 24 hour, but it offers fairly frequent service. Pittsburgh, historically, used to have an enormous web of street car or “trolley” systems prior to the age of the automobile, and the Eisenhower era’s Interstate Highway projects. You still see iron trolley poles all over the place, and I’ve read about streetcar lines that went all the way out to the exurbs like Butler – which is about fifty miles to the north of the City Center.

I should mention that I’m just starting to learn about this place which we’ve chosen to make our new home. Ignorance of this new place has been a fascinating experience for one such as myself, who can walk around Brooklyn and Queens and tell you where a building contractor sourced the bricks from for this structure or that one. It’s going to be a lot of fun to learn about Pittsburgh, I tell’s ya.

For instance – driving etiquette is different here. Look up the “Pittsburgh Left” as an example.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After we quaffed breakfast, we had a half hour or so to kill before our first appointment, and since there was an incredible Roman Catholic Church with a huge graveyard nearby, I drove us into the cemetery to take a quick lookie look.

Everything I’m up to at this stage of the process is basically scouting, but there’s LOTS of photographic opportunity here. After previous visits to the area, we had narrowed our search down to the South Hills area – a series of medium density suburbs found in the 5-10 miles from City Center zone. We felt an affinity for the neighborhoods found in the South Hills Borough of Dormont, in particular, so that’s where our focus point was placed.

More tomorrow.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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

December 5, 2022 at 11:00 am

crystal stream

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

On Halloween, Our Lady of the Pentacle and myself went to the local saloon here in Astoria for a spooky drink, and then headed back to HQ for the now daily ritual of packing boxes for our impending escape from New York.

It was raining, and one set out to capture the local milieu from up on the porch. That’s the bodega across the street from me here in Astoria, which I’ve shown you countless images of over the last decade. I couldn’t put much time into this sort of pursuit this time around, as on November 1st I’d be climbing in behind the wheel of the new car and driving it to Pittsburgh. We had a week’s worth of real estate listings to see, and the goal was to sign a lease in Pittsburgh before we came back to NYC.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The 1st of November was a travel day. With piss breaks and a meal or two factored in, the 370 miles or so to Pittsburgh from Queens is about a 7-8 hour long day of driving. 90% of that interval are highway hours, on fairly good roads with 70 MPH speed limits. From Astoria in Queens, it’s Triborough to the GW Bridge, and crossing the heavy road volumes of the Hudson River coastline of New Jersey will cost you a minimum of an hour’s worth of stop and go traffic. Once you’re about a third of the way into New Jersey heading west, it’s pretty clear sailing. The only thing that makes the drive concerning are the numbers of semi trucks encountered and the reckless abandon of about 50% of your fellow drivers who think 70 MPH isn’t fast enough.

Long story short, we drove to Pittsburgh. We stayed in an AirBNB, which we arrived at after picking up some groceries at a convenience store, drank a bunch of the wine we bought at the aforementioned shop, and woke up very early the next morning – November 2nd – to a heavy blanket of 1/4 mile visibility fog which had suffused into Pittsburgh and it’s suburbs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

While drinking my morning coffee, I couldn’t help but record the scene from the AirBNB’s back yard deck. This was in an area which I’m told is called “the South Hills,” which is basically the sloping side of the highest point of elevation in the city’s center – Mount Washington.

We had a full day’s worth of realtor meetings, Zillow appointments, and all sorts of far flung destinations to visit. We literally had to drive to Moon, and Mars, and I had the desire to visit Carnegie sometime during the week’s time we’d be here.

More to come next week, from the misty mysteries of Pittsburgh.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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

December 2, 2022 at 11:00 am

humming music

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The John J Harvey Fireboat stopped at the dock in Blissville, along Newtown Creek, where we picked up the majority of the people who accompanied me on my last navigation of the waterway. The crowd debarked, although some of us stayed onboard for the ride back to Manhattan’s West Side. The Greenpoint Avenue Bridge had opened again, and allowed us to pass.

The Captain of the Fireboat, Huntley Gill, decided to offer me a salute and fired the water monitors onboard the Harvey for a display.

My pal Scott Wolpow managed to grab some video of that, here it is:

– video by Scott Wolpow

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I managed to get one or two last shots from the water on our way back to the East River, and eventual docking on the Hudson at Manhattan’s Pier 66. That’s the recycling company which I got rid of all my electronic and metallic junk at, dubbed Allocco Recycling, by the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek was a masters class in environmentalism, government, and the non profit business world for me. I learned so much, from so many smart people. I stayed honest here, even when I had to compromise, which is something I’m proud to say. Unfortunately, a definitive answer to the only question that truly matters was never arrived at. The question?

Who can guess, all that there is, which might be buried down there – in the sedimentary black mayonnaise – underlying the lugubrious waters of the fabulous Newtown Creek?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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

December 1, 2022 at 11:00 am

sunlight lies

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Captain Huntley Gill and the crew of the John J Harvey Fireboat navigated their vessel some three miles back from the East River into English Kills, a tributary of Newtown Creek, and executed a turnaround nearby the Metropolitan Avenue Bridge. We started heading westwards then, and back towards the East River.

To say that a humble narrator’s emotional state was complicated would be a bit of an understatement. It’s not always apparent when the cover closes on a chapter of your life.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s really all over, now. Especially right now.

As you’re reading this post, which published at 11 am on November 30th, Our Lady of the Pentacle and I are currently driving to Pittsburgh. Literally – right now – and as of 11 am, I’ve been on the road for about 5 hours. We’ve got a car full of the sort of things that you don’t entrust to a mover – cameras, computers, valuables – with us. Tomorrow morning, we’re taking possession of our new digs and starting the “moving in” process.

This wasn’t – as it turned out – the last time I’d be on the Fireboat, but it was the last time that I’d be taking a group out on Newtown Creek. More on my last trip on the Harvey in a future post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To everything there is a season, huh?

More tomorrow.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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

November 30, 2022 at 11:00 am

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