The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for January 2018

in researches

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A cholesterol festival.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Astoria has a reputation for being home to some of the best restaurants in NYC, which is something that I honestly cannot say that I agree with. There’s a few gems, just like in every neighborhood, but… “best?” Also, on the side of Astoria I live on, we ain’t got that many Greeks. People hailing from the former Yugoslavia actually seem to be the largest single “group” hereabouts, at least in my experience. Saying that, the population is so heterogenous that it’s hard to point at any one group that dominates, until you start looking at “racial” populations (Black, White, Latino etc.). Even then, things are pretty evenly distributed around here.

That’s actually pretty good news, as far as the restaurant thing goes, as there’s usually something new to try. I will always, however, regret trying the Bosnian Chicken Soup at some joint on 30th avenue which would have never be considered one of the City’s “best” we’re it still open. Feh… The dish above was served at a no longer extant operation called the Queens Kickshaw on Astoria’s Broadway nearby Steinway Street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a Mediterranean lunch pie dealie, which was on offer at Sacs Pizzeria on Astoria’s Broadway. If you haven’t been, Sacs is highly recommended. The pie was basically spinach, feta, onions, and a few other hits of green veg baked in a pastry shell. They do “normal” pizza as well, and there’s a sit down side to the place where you can do a whole Italian meal.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Also on Astoria’s Broadway, and just down the block from Newtown Pentacle HQ is Muncan’s. This is an old school European smoked and cured meats shop, and they make all sorts of sausages, salamis, prociutto on site. They have a smoke house in the back yard of their shop and my practice is to be out drinking my coffee when they open the flues of the place in the morning. The bacon wind, as I refer to it, offers all the joy of smoked pork with zero cholesterol. Win!

A recent bout of Flu has left a humble narrator a bit worse for wear, and short on new content this week. Accordingly, shots from the archives have been pulled and will be presented thusly, as this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 31, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Photowalks, Pickman

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other hand

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Did a shave and a haircut ever actually cost “two bits,” also, what’s a “bit” worth in 2018 money?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in 2015, whilst bumming around the East River waterfront in LIC, one took a picture of a seaplane. That’s it, right up there. Difficult shot to pull off, this was, what with the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself hanging directly behind the venerable Empire State Building. The City really was shining that day.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In 2017, I took a different photo, this time it was of a train. Specifically a Long Island Railroad train, crossing Borden Avenue in Long Island City and heading towards the Hunters Point Yard. This is one of my favorite spots in Queens, and a humble narrator will often be spotted while grievously squatting upon a pedestrian bridge over the track. Look for a corpulent vulture like thing with a camera, that’s me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Here in Astoria, this 1957 Pontiac Star-Chief was noticed and photographed on a lovely afternoon in 2013.

A recent bout of Flu has left a humble narrator a bit worse for wear, and short on new content this week. Accordingly, shots from the archives have been pulled and will be presented thusly, as this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 30, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Photowalks, Pickman

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assured by

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Critters I’ve met over the years… they all hated me, even the dead one.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Back in 2010, I scared the hell out of this rat in an Industrial Maspeth warehouse by setting off a camera flash. It said “Eep.” Then, it scurried behind a giant bale of cardboard just as the place returned to near darkness. The next time my flash went off, the rat was back, with a bunch of his pals. I skeddaddled, you can’t mess around with a squad of rats in the dark and expect to come home without some lasting physical or psychic scar tissue.

You don’t fool around in Industrial Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In 2016, this skeletonized cat was encountered up on the Montauk Cutoff railroad tracks. In recent years the number of carcasses I’ve been spotting along the streets has noticeably diminished. I’d estimate 2011 as being the recent high water mark for encountering “dead things” on the streets of Brooklyn and Queens. Lots of pigeons, and other birds too. Scores of what we’d call “flat rats” back in the old neighborhood. A few cats, one or two possums, or the odd raccoon.

You don’t see stray dogs anymore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

In 2013, this Rooster was encountered in upstate New York. He was kind of a jerk, if you ask me.

A recent bout of Flu has left a humble narrator a bit worse for wear, and short on new content this week. Accordingly, shots from the archives have been pulled and will be presented thusly, as this – your Newtown Pentacle.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 29, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in animals, Photowalks, Pickman

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smoldering hillocks

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One has never had the makings of a varsity athlete.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My “flutastic” week is nearly over, wherein a vast and somewhat hallucinatory experience with a viral infection has nearly been completed. This year’s variant of the influenza virus is a doozie, as compared to the prior iterations which I’ve experienced. The worst part of it, to me at least, was the inability to achieve a lasting period of sleep. For a couple of days there, the longest interval I could muster was no more than a few hours at a pop. These brief junctures were typified by bizarre dreams, typified by one in which I was counting the forks found in my silverware drawer in the kitchen. Worst part of that was that it was a serial dream. I’d get to fork number 42 (I don’t have that many forks, incidentally) and wake up.

A couple of hours later, I’d manage to pass out and immediately resume counting with fork number 43.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A doctor friend of mine, who often was concerned about my casual disobeyance of maintaining regular sleep patterns, advised me that you need a daily minimum of seven hours for your kidneys and liver to “turn over” your blood supply.  She knew me well, and by supplying an actual scientific index and practical reason for surrendering to unconsciousness guided one towards a bit more of a sustainable lifestyle. Saying that, I’ve always hated the biological need for sleep, and resented the notion that one third of my total existence on this planet will be spent while unconscious.

I’ve never been a “tough guy” but as it has turned out, I’m fairly resilient from a physical point of view. I can drink like a Russian, endure physical pain and discomfort that would make others blanch, and there is not a single paper bag on this planet that I can’t punch my way out of. This particular physical fortitude has made me vainglorious, unfortunately, and when a minor event like an influenza infection occurs it makes one question – and more than question – my entire conception of self. Losing a few days of sleep used to be something that would roll off my back like rain, these days it’s a hammer blow to the cranium.

Also, my fork count got all the way to 764, but that was Wednesday night, which is also when I decided not to drink any more cough syrup. Fever dreams are just bizarre.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is a bit short of content for this, your Newtown Pentacle, as a result of all this illness and hallucinatory counting. Accordingly, next week, expect a few posts of singular images which will act as placeholders while one resumes his wanderings.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 26, 2018 at 1:00 pm

plague borne

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That’s twice, in as many months now, that I have become infected.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator often likes to opine that due to constant proximity to the Newtown Creek, and the immune system’s response to the many bacterial and viral pathogens encountered, that he seldom gets sick. The statement continues that “when I do come down with something, it’s a whopper.”

So much so, that as I was writing this post, I accidentally hit “publish” before it was done, but that’s the sort of week I’ve had so far. One has been in “high suffer” with some sort of viral infection – not necessarily the flu – but something “flu like” which has interrupted both sleep and regular feeding schedules. For a couple of days there, not more than forty five minutes of sleep at a time occurred, which was punctuated by what I describe as cough syrup hallucinations.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

When sleep has occurred, it has been beneath multiple blankets, which have been found to be saturated with perspiration upon awakening. That’s how the shots of laundromats figure into today’s post, if you were wondering. Curiousity wasn’t conquered by this viral onslaught by the way.

According to the NY Times, ca. 1901, the term “blanket” is actually a brand name dating back to 1339 which has become ubiquitous. Thomas Blanket manufactured a revolutionary textile product in England’s Bristol back then, which gathered admiration and protection from the crown.

Back to my personal misery – this virus is “going around” and quite a few people I know have contracted it prior to my own infection. Chills and sweats, a violent cough, and general ennui typify the experience. I’ve actually been lucky inasmuch as I’ve been hosting a later stage version of it than what others have experienced.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For one such as myself, the worst part of the experience was missing out on the three or four days of spring like warmth and that night of heavy fog which one had been planning on exploiting fully for photographic pursuits.

All I want to do is play in traffic, after all.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 25, 2018 at 11:00 am

all opposition

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When you’re in a dark place, that’s what you should embrace.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent opportunity resulted in one needing to head over to Greenpoint for a reading by my friend Geoff Cobb from his new book about the Havemeyers of North Brooklyn – “The Rise and Fall of the Sugar King.” Owing to all of my recent sloth, when tying up all the layers of clothing to my sclerotic body, discovery of an uncomfortable level of tightness in the waistband of my pants acted as a chide and it was decided to walk rather than catch the train to Greenpoint from Astoria.

My path would take me past to that particular spot where Jackson Avenue transmogrifies into Northen Blvd. That’s one block north east of the historic pathway of the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, which still flows below the street in masonry sewerage tunnels, and as we all know – running water acts as a barrier for vampires. That’s whey we don’t have any Nosferatu in Astoria (we are fairly lousy with a specie of hirsute Greek goblin called the Kalikantzaros around these parts, as well as the Strigoi of the South Slavs, but that’s another story). I only know one vampire in Astoria, and his name is Matty.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the actual corner that Dutch Kills once ran to, and as late as the American Civil War, the United States Coast Guard listed this area as being navigable. From this spot on, my eyes kept darting up into the rafters of the elevated subway tracks overhead, scanning the ebon clad steel for morbid habitations.

Legend has it that a few of these Vampires attempted to form a hip hop group back in the 90’s. “NWV” was thought to be highly derivative, however, and few people bought their debut singles “Straight outta Queens Plaza” or “Look in mah eyes.” Members of the trio are reported to be part of the nightly assaults on the fortress like NY Blood Center on Vernon Avenue in LIC. In general, the population of the vampires are said to be fairly representative of the surrounding human population, with a recent influx of Asian and Latino members, but there are a few ancients amongst them who can only speak in an archaic form of the Dutch Language. The demographics are cloudy.

Thing is, once you’re a Vampire, that’s all that you are evermore.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Losing sight of the worth inherent, or causally dismissing, the stories of addicts, inebriates, or madmen is a bad habit of our modern times. Several members of the aforementioned classes have reported to me that the vampires hidden in the steel above wrap ropes around their waists, securing one end of the line high above. They spiral down from perches above on the ad hoc cables, snatching at the unwary on the sidewalks below, and then both vampire and victim are quickly pulled up by an undead cohort of fellow sanguinarians still in the rafters. One junkie told it me it looked to him like a yo yo made out of people.

I’m not kidding, lords and ladies, stay alert along the stretch of Jackson Avenue between Queens Plaza and 31st street.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This fellow pictured above, innocently waiting for the arrival of a bus which will never arrive, something those of us who live in Queens inherently know. He’s fresh meat to those who dwell above, he’s an easy meal, a free dinner. One has always wondered about the complicity of municipal officialdom in the presence of these cullers of the human herd in this area.

Every wonder why there aren’t any street lights focused on the pedestrian lane hereabouts? Take out your rectangular glass computational device in this spot, and see if its GPS can accurately define your position. Where did all the street signs go?

Who can guess, all there is, that might be hidden up there?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Heading west/south west along Jackson Avenue, and into a dystopian vision of the Real Estate Industrial Complex’s that men once called Queens Plaza, one wonders how the new population of tower dwellers will fare against the undead. When the Vampires begin to climb and skitter along the mirror glass of the new towers like bloated ticks, seeking the finely curated blood of the affluent, will acknowledgment of the presence of these ancestral monsters finally be acknowledged?

As a side note, is it racially prejudicial to hate and loathe Vampires? Are they part of the whole “diversity thing”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, once you pass through the crucible of Queens Plaza – having survived the predatory legion above and the vehicular traffic below – you’re pretty much ok. It’s about as safe in LIC as most places in NYC, y’know… except for the endemic environmental pollution, noise, heavy traffic, and roving bands of teenagers.

One scuttled off to Greenpoint, to the reading of Geoff Cobb’s new Sugar King book.


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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 24, 2018 at 11:00 am

small village

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Literally in a dark place, me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, over the weekend one was trekking through Industrial Maspeth. After catching up with a couple of old friends in Ridgewood later in the day, one began scuttling back to Astoria well after the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself had disappeared behind New Jersey. There’s only one efficient way to get “here” from “there” on foot, but luckily the walk is figuratively and literally all downhill from Ridgewood. My path carried me back into the hoary shadows of Industrial Maspeth, my happy place.

By the way, if you want to do something daring and scary – try to cross the intersection of Metropolitan and Flushing Avenues at night… brrr…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One always feels vulnerable in this place, even when the burning thermonuclear eye of God itself still hangs wanly in the sky. There’s always someone – or something – watching as I scuttle by. Paranoid wonderings pollute the thoughts of one such as myself in these times. Delusional visions of getting grabbed and dragged, shuttled off to some storage vault or basement room and left to expire by some nefarious character, abound in the area between the ears and behind the eyes. There’s also sharp pieces of metal protruding from the pavement in random spots which you need to watch out for, as well as some of the watery eyed derelicts who establish temporary camps at the edges of habitability.

Who can guess, all there is, that might be hidden around here?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Eerie and deserted by its diurnal army of laborers, industrial Maspeth nevertheless still serves as a thoroughfare for vehicular traffic preparing to exchange the streets of Queens for those of North Brooklyn, but in this lawless no man’s land of nighted warehouses they seldom offer anything other than a reluctant acknowledgement to traffic law. They eschew lane ordinances, roll through stop signs at speed, and can be observed laughing hysterically while blowing through traffic signals and ignoring intersectional regulations while traveling at cyclonic velocities.

The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume, which wouldn’t be forgotten.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are homes hereabouts, wholesome structures populated by those both stout and stubborn, and families whose multigenerational presence at the edges of Industrial Maspeth defy the impressions gathered by one such as myself. With the filthy black raincoat flapping about behind me, the arrangement of my sweatshirt hood and raised coat collar combinine with a usually shaved pate, and one lends no other impression to a casual viewer than that of a corpulent and aged vulture hybrid scuttling by in the dark. Essentially, who am I to cast the first stone? I’m some weirdo who likes wandering around in the dark with a camera while imagining that monsters, and witches, and a serial killer are chasing after me.

The reason that I love this area so much is its distinct lack of reflective surfaces, wherein true horror is revealed.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 23, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Maspeth, newtown creek

Tagged with , , ,

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