The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for July 2019

feebly leaped

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A few archive shots today.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Meetings, have to’s, places to be and toes to break – these things affect us all and no one more so than I. Accordingly, a few archive shots are on offer today whilst one awaits the Götterdämmerung thunderstorm on schedule for this afternoon.

Pictured above and below are Flushing Bay, as captured one very cold night back in January of this year. In all actuality, the shot above actually depicts the intersection of Flushing Bay with Flushing Creek, but why get all technical?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All of this rain has caused an absolutely horrible consequence for the inland waterways of NYC, or so I’m led to believe by my friends who participate in the Citizen Science water testing program who have spoken of off the chart levels of sewage bacteria in their samples. The metric which is generally accepted by those in the know is that the Combined Sewer System can begin releasing untreated waste water into the harbor due to a tenth of an inch of rain falling on the City. A quarter inch of rain translates into a billion gallons of water entering the system, and virtually guarantees that the overage will start flowing into area waterways. Pictured above, you can see a containment boom surrounding one of the outfall pipes that empties into Flushing Bay.

Prior to today’s storm, the City has received 6.85 inches of rain just in July of 2019. Using the quarter inch equals a billion gallons equation, the City has had to deal with an extra 27.4 billion gallons of storm water just in the last month, which is on top of the normal wastewater flow coming from homes and businesses.

Bubble bubble, toil and trouble, indeed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Way on the other side of Queens, nearby Queens Plaza in LIC, you’ll find the Queensboro Bridge and the elevated tracks of the 7 line. Neither one of these structures has a drainage system directly feeding into the sewer system, instead, multi story tall pipes carry storm water and whatever else might get washed off the tracks or roadway down to street level where the water is expected to find its way to a sewer grate.

They look pretty, at least.


“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

July 31, 2019 at 2:00 pm

horrible yelps

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You see things in Astoria, Queens.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As predicate – two things; The first is that the Transportation Alternatives Bike Lane people never mention Unicycles in their agitprop for expanding the bike lane network. The second is that last Friday, an old friend was in town and I made it a point of getting to the local bar early to grab a choice outside table in the shade.

I wasn’t there five minutes before the fellow pictured above came rolling past.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I knew a guy in High School who rode a unicycle, but it was the smaller kind that circus clowns are known to frequent. The following series of shots are rare vertical format ones (rare for this publication, at least) as this specimen from Astoria put its rider’s center of gravity at least six to seven feet up from the pavement.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The fellow was doing a bit of a dance as he rode the thing, throwing his arms about in a somewhat comical fashion to maintain balance.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The best part of experiencing this was that he had a bluetooth speaker somewhere on his person, and he was loudly playing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” album while riding.

Specifically speaking, it was the song “Thriller.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I look forward to the day when the bike people begin advocating for Unicycles. #carnage? Someday, my friends, someday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Thrillercycle continued eastwards along Broadway in the direction of Woodside.

The first few people who had arrived at the bar for the gathering and I all looked at each other all quizzical like. Somebody asked “you saw that too, right”?

Yes, yes I did.


“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

July 30, 2019 at 1:30 pm

pierced stone

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Scuttling, always scuttling.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Last week, after finishing up the Greenpoint walking tour I conducted for NYC H2O, a humble narrator shuffled along the old mortal coil in pursuance of getting back home. Along the way, NYC was doing its thing and showing off. She does that during the summer. These shots were gotten with a recent addition to my lens kit, a bargain basement Canon 24mm pancake lens that’s little more than a body cap with a tiny piece of autofocusing glass in it. The “itty bitty” nature of this particular lens allows me to give the camera a fairly good look through chain link fencing, even the tight meshed sort that you’ll find on the Pulaski Bridge.

DOT likes the fine mesh stuff. The “diamonds” created by the overlapping wires can’t be more than 3/4 of an inch on the fine mesh variant of chain link fence, which is a ruinous thing when you’re using more traditional glass with front elements in the neighborhood of 77-100mm in diameter. Bother.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’m continually surprised at the pancake lens, as a note. It’s got few of the optical formula sorts of issues you’d expect to find in a “cheap” lens, and is f2.8 on the wide end which… as mentioned, is not what you’d expect to find on such an inexpensive device. In bright sunlight, the thing is tack sharp at f4 and above.

This isn’t meant to sound like a “sell” for the thing, I just really like it. Finally managed to get a shot of the Queens Midtown Tunnel, which I’ve been desirous of for awhile, with it – as seen above.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All of these turbulent storms, and high atmospheric humidity, has really made for some incredible sunsets of late – don’t you think?

Got the shot above on Broadway in Astoria sometime last week, and I’m fond of it.


“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

July 29, 2019 at 1:00 pm

moss grown

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When you hear the sound of three dogs barking…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A single night shot today, gathered at the Kosciuszcko Bridge job site a few months back. Two walking tours this week, accomplished with a broken toe attained on the first, so the second was a bit of limping tour but I didn’t let the group know about my situation until the very end up on the Pulaski Bridge. Pain and I are old friends, so we know how to coexist with one another.

Looking forward to a nice summer weekend, me, and I’ll be back Monday at this – your Newtown Pentacle – with a heartier meal for your hungry eyes.


“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

July 26, 2019 at 11:00 am

dissecting room

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This little piggie went to the urgent care?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Somehow, a humble narrator broke a toe last night while conducting a tour of Newtown Creek. No crack or pop was sensed, but upon returning to HQ, the sort of purplish red bruise one associates with a broken bone was present, and this morning the spreading hematoma flower on my left foot confirms it. Of course, that means that tonight’s walking tour will be very interesting indeed. Not too much you can do for a busted toe, I’d mention, you just use tape and splint it up to the one next to it.

Luckily, it’s a minor toe, and is basically the Delaware or Luxembourg of the foot. Sigh… I’m just falling apart these days, a delicate flower lost in the concrete devastations of Western Queens and North Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, one has always had the ability to psychologically isolate pain and “put it in my pocket” when it’s inconvenient, with the notable exception of dental issues. Can’t escape from tooth and mouth problems, they’re wired too closely to the brain. A life of disappointment, resentfulness, and emotional tumult coupled with an all too human physique which often lets me down has also caused one to actively cultivate “anhedonia” – a bodily and emotional numbness – as a defense mechanism.

Anhedonia keeps you even in an ever changing and often hazard rich world, I tell ya.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The good news is that the toe doesn’t hurt much at all. It just feels like I’ve got something stuck to it, due to the swelling. The bruise looks awful, but is pretty cool actually, as far as internal bleeding goes. Let’s see what happens to old Mitch today…

Maybe one of my ears will just fall right off, or a pinky finger will spontaneously combust. Take a guess. There’s still some spaces open for tonight’s Greenpoint Walking Limping Tour available, so for those of you who enjoy watching me suffer – a value add on the ticket price.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Greenpoint Walking Tour w NYCH20

Explore Greenpoint’s post industrial landscape and waterfront with Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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

July 25, 2019 at 1:00 pm

kindred wells

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The Astoria street furniture dance has begun anew.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The other night, one noticed the display above on the corner of Broadway and 43rd street. The cast off box spring somehow evaded the bulk pickup day efforts of the DSNY, or it came from an “illegal” apartment, and had made its way down to the corner, where some wise Astorian had decided to attempt disposal of the large item by putting it into proximity with the corner trash basket. The entirely accidental nature of its pleasing esthetic – with a slab laid in triangular fashion over the cylindrical trash barrel – is fairly common for these parts. Everyone is an artist, even if they don’t know it.

For those of you not in the know, or who sleep on the floor, a box spring (or Divan) is a wooden or metal frame covered in fabric that encapsulates metal springs. It provides a base for, and adds height to, a softer mattress which sits on top of it. Box Springs used to be a fairly western european and american “thing” but as the material and financial pleasures of a “modern western economy” have spread around the planet, so too has this style of bedding. A notable holdout on this are the Japanese people, who still prefer their traditional “futon” style bedding.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Box Springs, and mattresses for that matter, are fairly robust in construction and cause no small amount of trouble for DSNY (NYC Department of Sanitation) and other entities that handle the flow of waste and trash. Bedding is fairly huge, easily lights on fire, and is designed to resist both weight and pressure. Bedding items choke shredding machines, fill landfills and collection trucks up rather quickly, and given their central role in the citizenry’s off hour pursuits (sex, sleep, drooling etc.) are often biohazards. Recent years have seen regulations created here in NYC that demand box spring and mattresses left out for bulk collection be wrapped in specialized plastic sheeting to keep them from spreading the plague of bedbugs (or vantsem, in Yiddish).

Here in Astoria, where we have a fairly severe problem as far as the subject of illegally dumping unwanted items on the sidewalks on a good day, the dance of the street furniture has officially begun. This thing will be, and has been, moving around Broadway.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The shot above was captured the same night as the first two, just a few hours later when I was returning from my evening activities.

So… why did the box spring cross the road?

Short answer is the likely one, which is that the building owner on the side of Broadway where it was originally discarded didn’t want to take the chance of getting a ticket from the DSNY inspectors who would be showing up along with the collection trucks the next morning, so they shunted the problem off onto someone else. I’ve observed the “dance of the street furniture” before, and it’s entirely likely this thing is going to become very well travelled before it finally gets taken away.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Greenpoint Walking Tour w NYCH20

Explore Greenpoint’s post industrial landscape and waterfront with Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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

July 24, 2019 at 1:00 pm

mustered up

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Sometimes, they come back.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One found himself in Maspeth, just yesterday, whereupon discovery of a large industrial site’s demolition occurred. The site used to be a cardboard box factory (Star Corrugated Box Co. originally and then Cascades Containerboard), which had occupied this plot of land for several generations. The crews from Breeze Demolition were hard at work pulverizing the place, and coincidentally were replacing the plywood construction fencing surrounding it as I wandered by. It’s apparently a “big secret” as to who the new occupants of the land here will be.

I know the secret, and as loose lips sink ships…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

54-15, 55-15 and 56-19 Grand Avenue were acquired recently by a California based company called LBA Realty for $72 million. The deal involves a partnership with another realty company, RXR, to build a four story warehouse large enough for heavy trucks to drive up a ramp for loading and unloading. Statements from the developer indicate that this facility would be ideal for the “last mile” logistics of e-commerce companies. Hmmm.

Wonder what e-commerce company that might be?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

This project represents a fairly frightening intensification of the truck traffic issues afflicting both Maspeth and East Williamsburg, I would mention.

I would also like to change the subject and mention the importance of large continental river systems to human civilizations. The Mississippi, Colorado, and Hudson Rivers come to mind here in North America, as does the Yang Tse and the Ganges in Asia. There’s the Nile in Africa, of course, and the Rhine in Europe.

I’m forgetting a big and important river, I think, one that runs through South America or maybe Seattle? What’s that one called again?


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


Upcoming Tours and Events


Thursday, July 25, 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Greenpoint Walking Tour w NYCH20

Explore Greenpoint’s post industrial landscape and waterfront with Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman.

Click here for ticketing and more information.


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

July 23, 2019 at 11:00 am

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