The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for January 2020

pacing nervously

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Hitting the road…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As of this post, so far in the month of January has a humble narrator walked some sixty six and a half purposeful miles in the dead of night around Queens. By “purposeful” I mean that it’s not shlepping through my normal daily round, rather it refers to leaving HQ all kitted up and ready to wave the camera around. By my standard, this number still represents baby steps, of course, but whereas the broken toe drama of 2019 is now just another one of my unpleasant memories there are still physical consequences to having just sat on my butt for two months at the end of last year. Mainly the effects involve the size of my butt, muscle tone in my calves, and a few other “conditioning” issues. A new regime of personal discipline has been established, incorporating changes to both diet and exercise.

This has nothing to do with a New Year’s Resolution, as a note, it’s merely self preservation and the need to experience the world directly after a couple of months of convalescent boredom. On the particular night which these shots were gathered, I was walking along the Woodside/Sunnyside border, where a tiny industrially zoned area bumps up against the fencelines of the second, third, and fourth divisions of Calvary Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My ultimate destination for the evening was – what else – Newtown Creek. From Astoria, you’ve got “corridor approaches” which lead you to the various sections of the waterway. 39th street to Skillman Avenue for Dutch Kills, Pulaski Bridge and LIC, or 39th street to Greenpoint Avenue for Blissville and the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge, 43rd street for Kosciuszcko Bridge and the DUKBO area, whereas 48th street takes you to the industrial Maspeth “Haberman” section where Maspeth Creek and the Maspeth Plank Road are found. The 48th street corridor also deposits you within throwing distance of the Grand Street Bridge, so I always pay it a visit when I’m in the neighborhood.

Coincidentally, 43rd street used to be called Laurel Hill Blvd. during earlier times, and it connected the Alsop properties along Newtown Creek to the south with the Berrian and Rycken holdings at Bowery Bay to the north in Astoria after crossing through the Moore and Jackson holdings nearby modern day Northern Blvd. 48th street in Maspeth was the Shell Road, which connected the southern waterfront with Middleburgh (Sunnyside) and Woodside, as well as Greenpoint and Flushing via modern day Greenpoint Avenue.

This and the previous shot were gathered along 49th street, rather than 48th, since a group of teenagers were walking towards me and I got scared. I scuttled over to 49th and hid behind a dumpster for a bit, as pictured above. A feckless quisling and vast physical coward remain I. On the plus side, I met a friendly cat whilst behind the dumpster.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A weird and lonely stretch of pedestrian space is found underneath the elevated Long Island Expressway section which bisects two of the Calvary’s. I’m told there’s a fair amount of drag racing here on summer weekend nights but I haven’t witnessed it directly. Notice that the NYS people haven’t felt compelled to replace the old sodium lamp luminaire heads for their street lighting to comply with NYC’s adoption of the cold blue LED units. You’ve still got that comfortable old orange glow hereabouts.

More next week, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


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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

January 31, 2020 at 11:00 am

uncouth time

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Death. Annihilation. Hatred.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

All night long, on my trek to the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek, I was noticing and recording the unnatural colour offered to the sky vault by the Kosciuszcko Bridge’s bizarre lighting system. It’s like no earthly colour, rather it’s like something out of space, in my opinion. Darth Cuomo, in his infinite wisdom and bowel quaking power, has decreed that this prismatic display must occur.

Soon, we shall all know the colour, and it will be a part of us.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A rare vertical or portrait format shot, the photo above was devilishly difficult to capture. There’s the super bright campus of the Federal Express shipping depot, which was absolutely and positively not part of a quid pro quo for their lost facility at what’s now Hudson Yards. You’ve also got the out of gamut color spectrum offered by the aforementioned lighting system installed at the order of the Governor by the New York State Department of Transportation. Everything else in the shot was cast into fuligin shadow, and what I wanted was to find a middle point between the extremes.

I guess “middle point between extremes” describes the general desire one has for his life, but has always been denied.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Borden Avenue Bridge was the midpoint in my mission for the night, where a humble narrator reoriented himself back towards Astoria, Our Lady of the Pentacle, and my little dog Zuzu. Checking my phone, it was realized that I had again lost track of time, and it was quite a bit later than my perception would have indicated. One or two last shots of the Long Island Expressway’s “Queens Midtown Expressway” truss were executed before I made my way back to civilization in Blissville.

Well after midnight, one summoned a ride share cab home. NYC’s sardonic sense of humor manifested then, as two yellow cabs and a bus appeared while I was waiting for a fellow named Singh to arrive in his minivan.


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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.

scrawled message

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Where I belong, leave my body here when I die.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I can now confirm that Dutch Kills is still where it was the last time I saw it. That was after the broken toe literally swept my leg out from under me. Despite the injury, I had to conduct a walking tour, or as I called it then – a limping tour – just two days after breaking the damned phalange. Only time ever that I fell down when conducting a tour. Ultimately, though, i screwed up by displaying weakness to the people in my life. Must never display weakness, because others will take advantage of it. If I’m taken advantage of, I have to respond in a widely inappropriate and disproportionate manner. Ask everyone who knows me – every single day is the first day in prison with me. I’m not locked up in here with you, you’re locked up in here with me. It’s exhausting, really, being me.

That’s the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge in the foreground, with the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek and the Long Island Expressway in the back. The original draw bridge on this site was made of wood, and was opened and closed by the actions of a donkey walking on a wooden wheel. Happy place.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Irving Subway Grate site continues to decompose, an island of calm in the chaotic development landscape of LIC. Just down the block, the patrons of what has been described to me as the second worst strip club in Queens were smoking the weed while I was shooting this. I’ve never been a strip club guy, as a note. Not saying it’s bad if you are, but like the Karaoke and Dance Club scenes, it’s just not for me. I also don’t see the point of Casinos, loathe musical theatre, and avoid poetry readings.

I like irish bars, poisoned and highly industrial waterways, junk yards, waste transfer stations, sewer plants, and cargo docks. These are the places I belong.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Looking westwards along Borden Avenue, and its eponymous bridge, towards the Empire State Building. Back when I started wandering around Newtown Creek, you could easily navigate the surrounding neighborhoods by the position of three large structures – Manhattan’s Empire State and Chrysler Buildings, and the Citigroup Megalith at LIC’s Court Square. Recent real estate development has obscured the Megalith and Chrysler Building, hiding then behind banalities. Luckily, the Empire State is still visible, although it’s silhouette is often ruined these days by the architecturally dubious Hudson Yards development on Manhattan’s west side.

This is where I plan to someday celebrate the detestation of the water lizard, when the corporeal residue of my body is tossed – like every other bit of wind blown trash in New York City – into Newtown Creek.


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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.

acrid scent

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I’m the thing on your doorstep at night.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Want to have people notice you? Stand on the corner of Skillman Avenue behind a tripod, while photographing scenes like the one above. People will literally walk directly in front of the camera lens and good naturedly ask you what you’re recording. “Right now, madam, your midsection” is something you can say. That’s why I had to stand there for about twenty minutes the other night, waiting for another 7 train to transit above. Shot needed the 7, after all, not some random woman’s abdomen. If you happen across a photographer who is set up with a tripod and all the other junk, and you’re feeling conversational, maybe it would make sense for you not to stand directly in front of their camera? As mentioned, hate for everyone and everything at the moment.

My goal, as mentioned in yesterday’s post, was to get down to Dutch Kills in LIC, which is one of my happy places. I need happy places at the moment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Hell is other people” as the saying goes. Of course, without the other people, these shots would have been gathered in a primeval and legendarily mosquito rich swamp that was supposedly avoided by the native americans. This section of LIC was historically undeveloped until the early 20th century, when the fields of both construction technology and financial capital management had finally attained levels sufficient to not just conquer but totally annihilate the natural environment. You can destroy an ecosystem the old fashioned way (Rome was great at this task), but to totally erase any trace of flowing or flooding water, you need modern tools and lots of money. The Pennsylvania Railroad, Michael Degnon, and the City of Greater New York itself had both requirements sorted out back “in the day.”

This corner is where, instead of some nosey lady, I got to smile and wave at a couple of cops who were mildly curious about my activities. Not curious enough to roll down the window, or get out of the car, just curious enough to stare at me for a few minutes. I waved, smiled, and flipped the tail of my filthy black raincoat at them. Shaking their heads, they drove off.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Finally. When I say that I can only be happy when I’m in places like 29th street in LIC, a blasted railroad access route that masquerades as a proper city street. The bulkheads along the water side of the street have been collapsing for a couple of years now, but no one cares. The waters of the industrialized canal called Dutch Kills, which have tested positive for both Gonorrhea and Typhus, are poison but no one cares. Sick little trees line the banks, wicking up the heavy metals and other pollutants from the landfill used to conquer the swamp. I care.

Nepenthe.


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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.

horror somewhere

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Sick of it all, everyone and everything.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One of those wintry moods has struck, and a humble narrator is very much in “lone wolf” mode at the moment. I don’t want any part of anything which involves exchanges of words longer than a singular sentence. Accordingly, attempts at avoiding pedantry and excess explanatory conversation are liberally ignored by all. I’ve got too much to do and not enough time to do it. Not getting any younger, tick and tock.

Luckily, photography – especially night time photography – is a singular pursuit. I can be alone with the HP Lovecraft audiobooks, although I would mention that while shooting these photos it was an unabridged reading of Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” playing through my headphones. If you alter all the pronoun names of the characters in The Jungle from Lithuanian to Spanish – Jurgis to Jorge, for instance – it makes the thing even more depressing as nothing ever changes in this country – ever.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I would like to embrace the sophistry that we are living in some sort of simulation, a computer program which receives regular updates and patches to keep the players interested in us. Unfortunately, this sort of idea is the fever dream of paranoids, and like the worship of a divine sky father…

One left the house relatively early according to recent habit. It had just stopped raining, and heavy banks of clouds were positively hurtling across the dome. Perfect conditions, as far as I’m concerned. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times – NYC never looks as good as it does when it’s wet.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My goal for the evening was ultimately going to be a visit to Dutch Kills, the Long Island City tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek. Due to the shattered toe drama, there’s entire sections of my “beat” which haven’t been visited in months. Given that it’s relatively warm out for January, and my overwhelming desire to be completely and utterly alone, one geared up and scuttled forth.

What I really wanted to find was some eidolon of dissolution and chaos, a true monster. I did glimpse one periodically, when walking past reflective surfaces.


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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.

had lain

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That’s a parrot!

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My pal Jiminy the Parrot greets you today, for a single shot post. Back Monday with more midnight wanderings around the World’s Borough and beyond.


“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

January 24, 2020 at 2:00 pm

vitally encrouched

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Back to base.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Having decided it was time to head home, one nevertheless diverted his path over to Queens Blvd. to gather just a few more shots of the elevated tracks of the 7. This is at the western corner of Van Dam Street, which I can now describe to you as enjoying a major rat infestation. While approaching this spot, several large banks of clustered shadow along the sidewalk began to disassemble and scatter into hidey holes. Not sure why this particular spot is so attractive to mammalian scavengers, but it is, so there you are. Maybe there’s a cheese monger in the old Swingline Stapler building.

The 7 line runs fairly frequently, so it was decided to set myself up again at another nearby point of view and wait for a train set to appear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

What I wanted from the shot above was the light streak and ambience offered by the passing subway train, with the intention that it would provide a bit of illumination for the factory windows as well as providing some separation from the night sky. The temperature had been dropping the entire time I’d been out – lurking in fear down Northern Blvd., then shadowing in Queens Plaza, and scuttling towards Skillman Avenue. By the time these shots were gathered, gloves had been donned and my sweatshirt hood raised, and the filthy black raincoat buttoned.

As a note, I’m particularly fond of this year’s hoodie sweatshirt. The hood completely encloses my head, and all you can see of my face is the tip of the nose and a wisp of gray beard. The hood is large enough to to hook over the bill of my too tight baseball cap, too. I really look menacing, crazy, and kind of scary when it’s all done up. Win.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One last shot upon crossing Northern Blvd. and back up the hill into Astoria, of a Major Auto World Garage which won’t be there too much longer. There’s going to be a large footprint, and architecturally banal, apartment house rising in this spot before long.

It’s fair to say that nearly everything you’ve seen in this series of posts won’t be there too much longer, and that it all will be replaced by large footprint and architecturally banal apartment houses.


“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

January 23, 2020 at 2:00 pm

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