The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for July 2019

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

cracked whining

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Locusts, I predict locusts. Repent.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent wandering through Astoria revealed that the loathsome serial killer called the Queens Cobbler still stalks, and continues to taunt both community and law enforcement by leaving their macabre singular shoe trophies on public display. Also revealed is the continuing disobedience towards littering and sanitation law displayed by the citizens of Astoria. Sheesh, there’s a garbage can on the next corner, bro.

One is a bit worse for wear today, it was a weird week last time around, what with the pounding we took from the weather and my doctor appointments.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A few of you contacted me after I mentioned that I had visited a doctor to deal with a couple of weird things I had going on, evincing concern. Thanks, but everything is ok, I’m just in a process right now wherein instead of just “having” health insurance, I’m trying to “use” my health insurance. My goal in this is largely prophylactic, as other than a few normal aches and pains I’m largely healthy, but it’s been a good decade since a good full body head to toe (and into orifices) examination has been undertaken and baseline condition was determined by a team of Doctors. Given my calendrical age, and the statistical likelihood of things starting to randomly go to hell, it’s logical to establish a “state of Mitch” report. On Friday, I went to an optometrist for the first time in more than two years, for instance, and discovered that my spectacles prescription had changed.

I’m also trying to keep all of this local, as in here in Astoria. Formerly, I was rolling with Beth Israel over in Manhattan’s Union Square, but that got pretty nasty when I had to commute into the City to see a doc for flu or whatever, so I’m establishing relationships with medical professionals closer to home. I’ll be complaining about invasive procedures and the draining of vital fluids and ichors for months, I can assure you.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has no idea what’s going on with the shot above, other than offering a sure opinion that if you were to step into that chained off square you’d be transported into some blasphemous realm where the elder gods still gambol and play.

This is going to be a fairly busy week for a humble narrator. I’m doing two walking tours, and hopefully this week I won’t find myself huddled with the group on the Borden Avenue Bridge during a wild thunderstorm like I did last week. That sucked.

Keep an eye out for single shoes cast off and left around your neighborhood, for it means that the Queens Cobbler stalks in your midst.


“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 22, 2019 at 11:00 am

dark nether

with 2 comments

They brought the show to me!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator spends a great deal of time and effort trying to find something interesting to take pictures of. Often, upon stumbling across an interesting scene, one has to think fast about how to manipulate the camera in unfamiliar settings. Imagine then, my happiness when the most familiar of settings – the stretch of Broadway here in Astoria that I live along – was suddenly plastered with orange signs proclaiming that a road paving operation was nigh.

The shots in the embedded YouTube video above were gathered over the course of a few nights. Terrifically dusty and noisy, the first night saw a road milling contractor at work scratching away the asphalt roadbed of Broadway. On two subsequent evenings, workers of the NYC DOT arrived with a lot of heavy equipment to lay down a new asphalt roadbed. They were pretty noisy as well, and then there’s that delicious hot asphalt smell…

No sound on the slideshow video above, so no need to listen for something. Not yet, anyway. Hint, hint.


“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 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

unnamable now

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From Hells Gate, I stab at thee.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Wow, did we ever get caught in the rain last night on the Infrastructure Creek walking tour. Managed to not destroy my camera and gear, but holy moley. Sheets of rain, lightning, and I had to stick around until all the guests were on their way in ride shares or subway. Drenched. Single shot today, from Astoria, of the Triborough and Hell Gate Bridges. Back tomorrow with some more substance.


“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 18, 2019 at 2:00 pm

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