The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for March 2019

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Still way behind on schedule. 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Not sure if I’ve shown y’all the one above before, but it’s all I’ve got for today. Bunch of birds chilling on the remains of an old radio transmitter pier nearby the Astoria Houses. My understanding is that the pier won’t be long for this world, as there’s a boat house that will be built in its stead. 

I’m going to be conducting a free walk in LIC on the 30th of March, this Saturday afternoon. The Sunnyside Yards project has roared back to life in the aftermath of the Amazon debacle, and since the Manhattan people are going to all sorts of effort to get this thing done… Click here for details on the “Skillman Corridor” walk.


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.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 29, 2019 at 1:00 pm

mental cast

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A few more odds and ends today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is still attempting to dig himself out of a self created content hole; wherein a combination of weather, personal ennui, and “busy doing other stuff” factors have seen me record a historic low number of images in the month of March. I’m working on a couple of follow up books to the “In the Shadows at Newtown Creek” volume, as well as trying to figure out a tour schedule for the summer months. I’m behind on every possible schedule you can name, as a note.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shots in today’s post are actually from February, which were captured on a NYC Ferry ride. Today’s post is a placeholder, offered in place of a “regular” posting which would might offer some proverbial meat on the bone.

Hopefully, by next week I’ll be all current and caught up on my backlog. I currently have a few hundred raw file photos that I haven’t even looked at yet on my hard drive, so once I slog through that…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There really isn’t enough coffee to drink these days…


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spectacled stranger

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A few things to say, I have.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

To start with, this Saturday the 30th of March is the 110th anniversary of the opening of the Queensboro Bridge. It’s the official moment that you can stick a pin into for when Queens stopped being an agricultural backwater and began to develop into its modern form. Queens Plaza and the Sunnyside Yards occurred shortly thereafter, and then the subways began rolling and everything we know as Queens today began to get built up. If you’re crossing her on Saturday, tip your hat and offer the old girl a salutation. Extra karma points will be awarded if you say “Gustav Lindenthal.”

Lots of people cross that bridge everyday, unfortunately just last night that included the crew of loathsome sentience which calls itself the NYC EDC. They’re the ones who want to deck over the Sunnyside Yards. “Once in a lifetime opportunity,” they say. “Bring Queens into the 21st century” is also offered. Queens, and Queensboro made it just fine into the 21st century without the NYC EDC, although the bridge had to suffer the indignity of being renamed for Ed Koch. That wasn’t EDC’s fault, it was Bloomberg. The reason that the EDC was in Queens yesterday is sort of Bloomberg’s fault, as he elevated Dan Doctoroff to a position of influence and is a fellow whom our current Mayor (who is supposed to hate Bloomberg, right?) is under the sway of. Don’t forget, it was Doctoroff who kicked off this whole “deck the yards” thing in 2014.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Two evenings last week, I found myself in “private” meetings with members of EDC’s planning teams. Other folks were in the room, of course. We discussed open space and green space, transit and sewage, design and architecture. I insisted that our nomenclature for the conversations omitted usage of the word “will” in favor of “if” when referring to the possibilities of this project of theirs. There’s a few careers riding on this one, for the well bred and extremely well educated power brokers at the “public benefit” corporation called the New York City Economic Development Corporation. I’d point out, and I did during the meetings, that EDC doesn’t have the greatest track record. Amazon, the Staten Island Ferris Wheel, Brooklyn’s Bush Terminal… the list goes on and on.

At every juncture, I reminded them that I actually thought highly of the intellect and skills and pure moxy of their team, but that I view them as nothing more than an invading army sent in from Manhattan to destroy my home.

For some reason they were wounded by this statement. I guess that like any other abusive parent or bully, EDC wants you to thank them for and enjoy your beatings. It’s in your own best interest, as they’re doing this to help you, right?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve told EDC multiple times that they will not be allowed to do to Queens what they’ve done to Manhattan. For any of y’all EDC people reading this, I haven’t even gotten started yet on ensuring that it won’t. You’ll hear drums, first. Then the bagpipes. That’s when you’ll know it’s officially begun. You should pick some other community to fuck with, or wait for us to die out. There’s a line here in Queens, the same one you stepped on with Amazon, and my neighbors and I are standing on the other side of it.

I’m going to be conducting a free walk in LIC on the 30th of March, this Saturday afternoon. The Sunnyside Yards project has roared back to life in the aftermath of the Amazon debacle, and since the Manhattan people are going to all sorts of effort to get this thing done… Click here for details on the “Skillman Corridor” walk.


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

March 27, 2019 at 12:00 pm

apparent bit

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Astoria odds and ends, in today’s post.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m fascinated by illegal dumping, as you may have noticed over the years. The bucket above was abandoned in front of the post office on Broadway here in Astoria, where it persisted as street furniture for a good couple of weeks. Given my acquired obsession with trash and litter, which I acquired due to my obsession with Newtown Creek, noticing this sort of thing has become an obsession in itself. Saying that, we really have to start some sort of public service announcement campaign on the subject of litter. NYC is a mess these days, and on windy or stormy days there’s a tsunami wave of trash heading toward the sewers.

Is it so hard to just hang onto your waste products for the block or two it would take to encounter a bin? Sheesh.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above is technically not Astoria, it’s actually Sunnsyide, but I just can’t resist peeling paint. It reminds me of my own physical dissolution and decay, I guess, and like is attracted to like.

You’d think that were you spending the money associated with the largest capital project in the United States, and had been involved with adding an additional trackway for a Federal railroad right of way over a decades long period, that you’d have figured in or budgeted for sprucing up the underpass with a paint job, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Just like the MTA, one continues to struggle in the direction of getting back on and maintaining his schedule. I’m fairly nocturnal these days (or nights), and the daily post keep son sneaking up on me. I’m about to transition back to normal, as tour season and summertime obligation are nearly arrived.

I’m going to be conducting a free walk in LIC on the 30th of March, this Saturday afternoon. The Sunnyside Yards project has roared back to life in the aftermath of the Amazon debacle, and since the Manhattan people are going to all sorts of effort to get this thing done… Click here for details on the “Skillman Corridor” walk.


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

March 26, 2019 at 3:08 pm

archaic hand

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A few leftovers from Maspeth.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of the things which I realized, whilst compiling shots for the new “In the Shadows at Newtown Creek” book (ahem, available at the link at the bottom of this post) was that I need to remind myself to turn the camera on its side periodically and capture “portrait” format shots. My habit, and compositional preference, is for landscape oriented shots – the sort you see displayed here all the time. Problem with that scenario is that when I need to fill a vertical space like a book cover or magazine page, the shot ends up being cropped so severely that it’s no longer the same image I worked on capturing.

C’est le vie, huh?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

These shots were gathered on the night I mentioned last week when a raccoon in industrial Maspeth was trying to eat me, and were shot at the Maspeth Plank Road site. I’ll be out and about shooting tonight and in fact just about every night this week, but at the moment that this post was being written I’m still sort of hard pressed as to where I’ll be. It’s entirely possible that I may find myself over in the City, looking wistfully across the river at Queens and Brooklyn, but I really can’t say yet. A bit of wanderlust is upon a humble narrator, and beyond having a singular obligation tomorrow night, my time is my own to fill.

Any suggestions? 

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My default state is to head on over to the Newtown Creek, and in particular, industrial Maspeth. Saying that, I’ve been hitting this area a LOT in recent months and want to take pictures of something different for a bit. The atmosphere really isn’t on my side this particular Monday, what with the milky white sky. Cloudy conditions are meant to continue through the evening, I’m told, but you work with what you’ve been given.

Let’s see where my feet take me, it could be anywhere really.


“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

March 25, 2019 at 2:30 pm

vital nature

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Engine 400? New toys at NY&A?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, after a series of puzzling moments over on the Newtown Creek side of industrial Maspeth, a humble narrator decided to begin the journey back to HQ and headed northwards. Often have I described how ridiculous I look when I’m out night scuttling – as the usual filthy lack raincoat has a yellow reflective vest draped over it. In addition, I’ve got the tripod, camera, and a knapsack full of camera stuff. I’m the lone pedestrian you see when driving down the truck routes and waterfront edges, and it’s not unknown for me to walk for hours at night around the Creek without seeing another living soul. Not Monday.

Just as I got to a particular intersection near a certain burnt out diner that I used to frequent, a New York and Atlantic train set rolled by on a spur of the Lower Montauk tracks. I asked one of the crew who was working the signals if he anticipated that the train old be coming back anytime soon and he indicated that it indeed would be. I inquired as to a safe spot to stand and shoot from that wouldn’t interfere with their operations, and in the zone indicated I found a relatively photogenic spot, and began to set up for my shots.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This section of Maspeth was once like Chicago, with lots and lots of rail customers amongst the industrial powers back here. These days, there’s still industrial freight clientele around these parts, but the rail spurs (secondary tracks) that serve these businesses are largely inaccessible without straight up trespassing through all sorts of property – government, private, you name it. While I was waiting for the train to return, a van with MTA branding on it pulled up next to me and the two Cops inside inquired as to what I was up to. “Nothing sinister, I assure you” was my reply. I explained my purpose, identified myself without being asked, and offered the two badges a short history lesson about the Long Island Railroad in Maspeth and described my night photography project to them. They said “no problem” and explained they had to inquire as it looked odd seeing someone take pictures in the dark around the properties they patrol. They drove off and the train rolled in. Not a problem.

I offered part of the above missive to some friends on Facebook, and was surprised at their sentiments towards the cops. Speaking strictly as someone who expresses his First Ammendment rights regularly, I full throatedly say that I bloody well want the cops inquiring when they see some weirdo in a black raincoat and safety vest standing near a rail line in the middle of the night with a tripod setup in NYC. They didn’t interfere with me, or even get out of the van, just were asking what was up and why I was there. As a counterpoint, the MTA’s Security Guard/Rent A Cops at the nearby Grand Avenue Bus Depot are aggressive and have chastised and interfered with photographers – including me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The NY& A folks had seemingly visited another customer on a hidden spur found to the west of the intersection. The signal arms went up and I crossed the tracks over to the north side of the street. The signal arms triggered again and I got into position for one last shot as they descended.

So, I’m going to be conducting a free walk in LIC on the 30th of March, it would seem. The Sunnyside Yards project has roared back to life in the aftermath of the Amazon debacle, and since the Manhattan people are going to all sorts of effort to get this thing done… Click here for details on the “Skillman Corridor” walk.


“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.

strict watch

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This environmental craze has gone too far.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m not proud of it, but I once had to punch a Canada Goose in the face at Calvary Cemetery. I normally get along with birds, even known aggressors like geese and swans. He started it, getting all freaking territorial on me in Section 9 of the cemetery and then pursuing me as I retreated towards Section 1 (if you know the place, picture the hills I ran up and down). At the top of the hill, right near Esther Ennis’s grave, he was coming at me and doing that goose “head flip whip” thing that whacks you with their heads. Geese are dicks. A lot of animals can be dicks, but let’s face it, what “nature” really wants to do is find a way to digest you or parts of you. The ocean is just one big open stomach that’s full of worms with teeth. There’s a reason our ancestors cut down the forests, paved over the meadows, and poured poison into the water – to teach “nature” who’s the boss.

The other night at the Maspeth Plank Road, where a humble narrator could be found near midnight, I met another speciation which decided it didn’t like me, a raccoon this time.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There I am, standing in near complete darkness, gathering the shot seen above when suddenly – wham, something heavy lands on tree trunk about three to four feet to my right. I had a stout metal barreled flashlight out and in my hand (it makes for a good truncheon, should need arise) and illumination revealed the glowing green eyes of one of the semi legendary trash pandas of Newtown Creek. It climbed down off of its perch, lowered its head while fixing its eyes upon me, and advanced. Overcoming my urge to regard it in the same way I’d handle an approaching dog or cat (it was actually really, really cute with the button nose and everything), one instead uttered a sound not unlike “chiit” which caused it break stride and bristle its fur. Again did it advance, and again did I “chiit” at it, which didn’t seem to impress the beast as much the second time. The long duration shutter speed of the shot above finished its interval, and my tripod legs were brandished at the wildling while I moved backwards a few steps.

Riveting, ain’t it? Seriously, this was the high point of Monday for me.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few more “chiit’s” were offered from my new and more defensible position, and so did the dick raccoon begin a slinking retreat into the poisoned shadows of the incredible Newtown Creek’s Maspeth shoreline. Luckily, I didn’t have to punch it in the face or aim a kick at its’ skedooch.

All kidding aside, how freaking awesome is it that you’ve got wild mammals wandering around doing mammal things at Newtown Creek these days? After leaving the Plank Road, I turned east on 47th street (where I had to uneventfully maneuver my way through a herd of geese inexplicably standing on the sidewalk) and anticipated taking a few more shots of the Grand Street bridge for my archives, but spotted something weird going on. There was a group of men standing around on the Brooklyn side, who were watching one of their number – said individual was wearing tight fitting black clothing and a hat with horns on it (at least I hope it was a hat) – who was dancing around in a peculiar manner. I know it sounds like I’m making that up, and I did not take a shot of them to back my statement up… but… dancing guy with horns and a group of male admirers. Stack of bibles, I swear.

I decided to go the other way, as I had gotten fairly lucky in not getting bit by a raccoon, and north into Queens along Grand Avenue. More on that 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

March 21, 2019 at 1:05 pm

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