The Newtown Pentacle

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

My short(ish) wintertime walks around Western Queens often include walking the corridor along 31st street, under the elevated tracks of the N & W Subway lines. As I’ve mentioned a few times, when I’m wandering around the industrial zones of Newtown Creek – the “happy place” of industrial Maspeth or the “concrete devastations” of Long Island City – it’s an entirely solitary experience and I eschew wearing the mask since I’m literally the only person there and you can see anyone else coming from blocks away on the super wide industrial zone sidewalks. 31st street, with its crowded and narrow sidewalks and commercial strip intersections? Hell, yeah, I’ve got the thing strapped to my face. I don’t like the odds.

Leaving the house is a gambling kind of thing these days, and one thing my dad and his brothers taught me as a kid (they would bet on what color car was going to roll through the traffic light next) is that calculating whether your chances are favorable or not is a life skill. Probability of getting a parking ticket, or mugged, or having to wait overly long for a table at the local diner positively ruled my Dad’s decision making processes. I’ve got a little of that in me, but unlike one of my uncles, I’d never bet the family business in a poker game with 1970’s Williamsburg mafiosos.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The odds of some random virus particle suspended in the air flow in deserted areas like nocturnal Industrial Maspeth versus along a transit hub in a residential neighborhood? Do the math, Bud. What are the odds?

This method of thought has been working out for me for the last year, but as I often opine – you do you. I’ll say this, though, wearing one of these masks while also wearing spectacles is a world of no fun during the winter months. You clear the fog from your glasses with a lens cloth, and before you’ve even got them back in position they’re fogging up again. Respiratory plague versus crossing streets half blind…

Odds of getting Covid while crossing a street versus getting hit by some 18 year old driving a $75,000 fart car at 90 mph whom I couldn’t see because of fogged glasses… calculating… calculating…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The funny thing about 31st street, which I find visually exciting as a note, is that it’s deserted of population for most of its run. The section between Northern Blvd. and Broadway is fairly inert at night, except right around the odd corners where the stops are found. Most of the pedestrian and human (non automotive) activity you’ll observe occurs between the Broadway and Ditmars stops. Even in that stretch, though, there’s long blocks where you encounter nobody else on the sidewalk. Lots of drivers, a few bikes, the odd Cop car screaming past with lights and sirens.

Also, it’s really dark for some reason between Broadway and Northern. I passed that one onto the Government guys at a recent meeting. They filed a complaint,

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, January 25th. 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

January 28, 2021 at 2:05 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Just curious, Mitch. When you do these walks of yours, how long are you usually out? An hour, 2 hours, 3? You sure seem to get a lot of good, healthy exercise.

    georgetheatheist . . . pavement pounding

    January 28, 2021 at 2:22 pm

  2. Just commenting dutifully to continue the trend of h:mm all being the same numeral.

    Tommy Efreeti

    January 28, 2021 at 4:44 pm

  3. What you said about levels of life on 31st St pre- and post-B’way, same was true in the 1960’s.


    September 28, 2021 at 7:47 pm

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