The Newtown Pentacle

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Used to be, long ago…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One remembers when there were people here. Loiterers, louts, loudmouths, lords, ladies, lingerers. They would walk dogs and smoke intoxicating substances and argue about bike lanes. Some would play athletic games until late in the night, trading an inflatable ball back and forth over a net while shouting at each other in some foreign tongue. They’re all hidden away now, and a humble narrator was the only midnight perambulator on Skillman Avenue during one recent midnight hour.

The quiet is quite deafening, in all actuality, punctuated as it is by bird song and a several blocks distant sound of empty locomotives performing the pantomime of passenger service. Spring has arrived in the quiet, and these echoing streets are in bloom. Raccoons sit on double yellow lines, fearing not the roar of trucks. Only silent electric delivery bikes were spied moving about, their operators staring out a thousand yards into the dark over their respiratory masks.

Whatever… at least I’m finding a way to get outside for some exercise and keep the camera busy.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One is always an outsider, no matter what or when or where, but this new world of ours is disconcerting even for me. Thousands are nearby, huddled in their apartments and presumptively gathered around the hearth of their televisions and phones. The sound of sirens in the distance, and that of the unseen but omnipresent helicopters overhead, punctuated with the clatter of the birds.

It’s lonely on Skillman Avenue. When somebody else who is out for a stroll passes by, a nervous wave is offered and is sometimes returned. Nobody gets too close on purpose, and all bear a sinister aspect. Unclean? Sick? Perhaps a criminal?

Paranoia abounds, but the pavement stretches forth and a humble narrator scuttles forward, camera in hand. Wonders, there are, wonders.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, I haven’t found any trouble whatsoever on these midnight walks of mine, or at least trouble hasn’t found me as of yet. As far as authority figures, back in April, a couple of cops inquired what I was taking pics of over in Blissville one night. Another, some MTA railroad cop was shooting me the hairy eyeball nearby the Sunnyside Yards, and a few people have asked me for spare change here and there. The cops drove off, the MTA cop never got out of his car when I waved and smiled, and I’m fairly sure that one of the rather ragged looking coin petitioners here in Astoria would have performed sexual acts in exchange for the spare change.

Saying all that, perched up in my digs in Astoria, I’ve been noticing a lot of new faces roaming around the neighborhood. One new “skel” found an empty drug bag along the curb and after carefully examining the thing, pocketed it. Another was trying household and automotive doors to see if they were locked or not. I’m a lot more worried about a few of the neighborhood troublemakers who have recently been released from Riker’s. Just the other night, the streets were suddenly populated by detectives or perhaps alienists searching for somebody. Additionally – one fellow, let’s call him Cicero – is back on the loose again. I overheard him petitioning random passerby about whether or not they would sell him a pistol.

Cicero got angry when the people he petitioned said they didn’t have a pistol to sell him. He’s still angry that the cops took his old gun away, when they caught him masturbating atop a step ladder while staring in someone’s back yard window.

Note: I’m writing this and several of the posts you’re going to see for the next week at the beginning of the week of Monday, April 27th. My plan is to continue doing my solo photo walks around LIC and the Newtown Creek in the dead of night as long as that’s feasible. If you continue to see regular updates as we move into April and beyond, that means everything is kosher as far as health and well being. If the blog stops updating, it means that things have gone badly for a humble narrator.

“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 for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

April 28, 2020 at 11:00 am

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