The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

abnormal ticking

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– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Empty Corridor is what I call those streets of Long Island City which are particularly shadowed by the ferrous gargantua that is the Long Island Expressway’s “Queens Midtown Expressway” elevated truss section. The blighting effect of this 160 feet at its apex, 1940 vintage, span is all encompassing – both because of its inescapable presence and for the supernal amount of automotive related pollution which it represents. 32 million vehicle trips a year, lords and ladies, push along this truss bridge on their way to and from Manhattan via the Queens Midtown Tunnel. Were these vehicle trips moving along the ground, at least Queensicans could benefit from it by selling bottles of water or bags of oranges to the drivers. Instead, we get all the bad and nothing good from its presence.

Pictured is a section of the centuried Montauk Cutoff elevated railroad tracks, mentioned many times here at Newtown Pentacle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has experienced a few close calls, human interaction wise, in the Empty Corridor in recent months, and this “zone” as a whole has impressed one as having become somewhat “crimey.” This is partially the paranoia of a middle aged fellow marching around in the dark by himself, of course, but it’s also the prosaic observation of a life long New Yorker who knows what trouble looks like when it’s walking your way. Be careful out there, keep an eye on others, and ask yourself why somebody might be making a beeline towards you despite there being a respiratory plague spreading. Nobody is that friendly.

Many of my younger friends believe that the stories we tell about “the bad old days” in NYC are reflections of systemic racism, outright fiction, or overblown reportage. What I can tell you is that what my younger friends think is uninformed and wishful thinking, romantic aspiration for who they wish sympathetic characters were, and that getting “jumped” is something that’s never happened to them – apparently. The late 1970’s and the entire 1980’s were no joke. Back then, you had to learn how to improvise weapons on the fly. Metal garbage can lids are no longer available for ready hands to use, and there’s fewer glass bottles lying around to break and use as a slashing weapon due to the return deposit cash in. Plastic bottles, as a note, make for shit shivs. When you hit a guy with a plastic bottle it makes a comical and hollow “blonk” sound.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One time in the mid 80’s, I was crossing the street at 21st street and Third in the City. Some guy had his back to traffic on 21st and got hit by a car. He hit the crosswalk with his forehead, which pretty much “asphalt erased” his face, and his corpse was set up in a tripod formation with his knees flat on the street along with what remained of his head, the arms were arranged straight back and it looked a lot like he was praying. The cops were so busy with handling corpses back then that they just threw a blanket over the body and set out a traffic cone while waiting for the Coroner to scoop up the mess, and the whole tableau was still in place about three hours later while I was walking the other way. His blood was running into the sewer. There’s a metaphor there, I thought.

Early 90’s, a guy got shot on the corner of 99th and Broadway while he was talking on the phone in one of those half size phone booths. An ice storm blew in, and the poor SOB’s body and in particular his hand froze up while he was still grasping the phone receiver. When I passed by on my way to work the next morning, his body was swaying in the wind and the phone cord was the fulcrum supporting him. The Cops smoked cigarettes and drank coffee while similarly waiting for the morgue’s meat wagon to appear.

I’m not arguing for any sort of Police state Götterdämmerung moment, by the way, I’m just saying that there’s always been a different set of rules on the street. A lot for these rules aren’t what you’d like them to be, aren’t fair, and have nothing to do with justice.

It’s all true. The Force, Luke Skywalker, the Death Star, all of it.

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, February 8th. 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

February 9, 2021 at 11:00 am

One Response

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  1. “L’enfers, c’est les autres.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

    georgetheatheist . . . mais oui

    February 9, 2021 at 12:17 pm

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