The Newtown Pentacle

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

Anxious, that’s the way a humble narrator recently described his state of mind to a medical professional who was catechizing him. Anxious is how one has felt for quite a while now. The pressure valve one regularly turns to relieve a few atmospheres of this background anxiety involves exercise and solitude, but that isn’t some new survival strategy one has evolved during this interminable pandemic period, it’s rather my “go-to.” Were this a normal summer, things I’d be complaining right now about; A) I want a weekend off from doing tours, B) how hot it is, C) my desires to just “get out there” by myself with the camera.

This isn’t a normal summer, but I’ll still complain about “B” and “C.” One fo my “go-to’s” throughout the pandemic has been to follow a pathway out of Astoria and into the industrial zones of Long Island City. Unfortunately, a lot of other people have discovered the areas surrounding Newtown Creek in recent months. This too makes me anxious.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve done a lot of cool stuff over the years, all of which caused me endless amounts of anxiety while in pursuit thereof. I’ve ghost hunted in Crete, for instance, which involved my father in law and I avoiding the attentions of shot gun toting bandits on a country road in Greece at 4 in the morning. I’ve worked on neat projects in the advertising world – a Times Square bill board, marquee ads placed in The NY Times magazine section, and for about 5 years everytime you walked into a Footlocker store to buy sneakers all that stuff on the walls and in the windows you saw promoting new shoes was probably something I had a hand in. There are comic books out there which I wrote and drew, and I was responsible for an entire comic company’s studio production schedule for a while. I’ve worked for major ad agencies, huge Wall Street companies, you name it. I’ve been happily married for decades, have friends whom I’ve been hanging out with since I was a teenager, and have multiple rings of friends and acquaintances that sound like a who’s who list of NYC. When I say it all out loud, it sounds like I’m bragging, but these are all things I’ve done. Saying that, every day when I wake up, it’s a “reset” and I have to find some way to justify my existence.

Right now, caught up in this wave of never ending tumult, it’s difficult to say that any of that stuff matters. Hence, anxiety.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One practices a thought modality which I call “branch logic.” It’s game theory, ultimately. Every action I take has two possible outcomes, which in turn offer further binary choices that branch off of whatever decision was undertaken. “If I cross Van Dam Street, when I get to the jail, I can either head north (Queens Plaza) or south (Greenpoint Avenue Bridge) – which is decision 1 – or just continue West towards decision 2. If I head west, I can go to Dutch Kills or follow it to Skillman Avenue. At Dutch Kills I can, or at Skillman I can… you get the idea. Interpersonally – I can punch this guy at the bar in the mouth, or I can just humor him. If I punch him, these two possibilities happen or if I humor him, another set of binaries occurs. This make the world somewhat predictable, which allows one to plan. If I save $20 a week, I’ll have a thousand bucks at the end of the year. If I have a thousand bucks in January, I can…

Thing is, and this is where all that anxiety is coming from, the world has become utterly and incomprehensibly unpredictable. I can’t predict anything more than two moves out right now, which is something that makes me anxious.

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, August 10th. 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 here, 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

August 10, 2020 at 1:00 pm

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