The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for March 2021

unnameable devourers

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Rue, Wednesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Long walks, short walks, all around the town. The shot above was gathered at the end of a long one, as I scuttled towards home. The swirling of a filthy black raincoat, caught in the atmospheric bluster of late winter, obscured this wandering mendicant from casual view. Most would have noticed a discard piece of black fabric loosed to the urban void, and carried on a climatologically dynamic firmament. Some would notice the decaying anthropoid contained within the wind blown shape, spying an over fed and shaved head goblin, but only a few would notice the camera and the purposely steeley gaze.

That’s the intersection of Queens Blvd. and Greenpoint/Roosevelt Avenue. This is yet another one of the colonial era holdouts in Queens, as a note. Greenpoint and Roosevelt Avenue sit in the path of the post road which once connected the Dutch colonies of Bosjwick in Breuklyn with Flisling in Nieuwtown. That’s Greenpoint’s waterfront and Flushing. Btw – if I misspelled the Dutch names, oops.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A different night, a different and shorter walk found me heading towards the Triborough Bridge here in Astoria to actuate the camera’s shutter at something visually interesting. At Steinway and 30th Avenue, this food truck was encountered. The puddle of light created by the truck drew me in.

A drug store chain occupies a former movie theater location here. I’m informed that back during the juvenile delinquent era of the 1950’s and 60’s there was a local “gang” whom considered this to be their corner. The Astoria Gents, apparently. I’ve seen the silky baseball jackets they used to wear. Talk about a sparsely documented subject, the local neighborhood JD era gangs are barely mentioned.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned several times and to different audiences, I’m a big fan of the train station redo that MTA and Darth Cuomo instituted along the 31st Street corridor. This is a dark and often scary set of streets, between Northern Blvd. and Ditmars. The new stations provide for an abundant scattering of light into the environ. Street lighting is critical, in my mind, as far as public safety goes.

More tomorrow at this – your Newtown Pentacle.


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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.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 31, 2021 at 1:30 pm

tenants thereof

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Hie, Tuesday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One question about NYC which non “lifers” don’t ask, a pondering query which has been mentioned in prior posts over the years, is what happened to all of those packs of feral dogs which used to wander about? Back in the 1970’s and 80’s, you needed to have dog fighting skills if you intended on walking through the sort of places I do. A lot of these puppers were former guard dogs, or runaways, or wild born strays. Speciation wise, you’d generally see large breeds at the head of the pack with the smaller dogs acting like naval corvettes protecting the flanks. You know my little missive “that in the neighborhood I grew up in you only ran when something was chasing you”? In my neighborhood, more often than not that “thing” was a pack of wild dogs. Seriously, if you walked down E. 59th bet Flatlands and Avenue J…

My supposition is that the heavy discounting of closed circuit television security camera systems in the early 1990’s is what put the guard dogs out of work. Without the need for guard dogs to protect your property, the feral population of dogs decreased to their current day level of near zero. Often do I ponder whether or not the abundance of raccoons, opossums, geese and other critters whose utter novelty is remarkable in the modern era is due to the lack of canine hunters.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another one which I ponder while endlessly dogging my way through the cold waste involves prostitutes. Used to be that working gals were everywhere you looked, prior to “Giuliani Time” as we referred to it “back in the day.” Just the other night, I wandered past what appeared to be a transaction based personal training assignation along the railroad tracks in Maspeth. The presumptively post coital participants split up afterwards, with the female soon finding shelter in the cab of a passing truck, and the male member headed off to the nearby regional HQ of a well known last mile delivery business. I don’t think they were talking politics, if you know what I’m saying, and they were both pulling their pants up, so… Can’t say for sure it was transactional, but it sure looked like it. Talk about rail fanning, huh?

Williamsburg was notorious for its “in your face” street prostitution during the late 80’s and 90’s, but I remember driving home from work from an uptown job in Manhattan and predictably hitting traffic jams caused by potential clientele pulling over to negotiate with the various entrepreneurs and service providers walking the streets in lingerie. There was a huge pimping operation on Park Avenue in the high 30’s in Murray Hill, and in the 8th and 9th Avenue sections of Hells Kitchen in the 40’s and 30’s. In Brooklyn, I can tell you that Coney Island and Brighton Beach also hosted a remarkable number of individual entrepreneurs who operated in this “personal touch” space. Crack, bro, made people do a lot of weird shit.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Lastly, the overarching question in my mind these days is “why so serious”? If somebody calls me a name – let’s use the one that motherflower reminds you of – am I going to empower the assignation by arguing that I don’t flower my mother or just ignore them entirely? In my experience, there is no worse “dis” than ignoring someone. If you want to argue with me in an abusive fashion, I refuse to engage. Physical threats? Same thing, turn around and walk away. The last time somebody told me he was going to “kick my ass,” I responded with the infuriating phrase “use your words, instead.” Given that this particular fellow had a fiery swastika planted in a base of yarmulke wearing skulls and the motto “a good start” tattooed on his back, what sense would it have made trying to either reason with or beat some sense into him? Why so serious? It’s better to mock and laugh at iceholes than it is to fight with them, since you’re giving them what they want. Try shaming them instead, and shaming anyone who suborns such behavioral tics or overtly offensive skin decorations.

TLDR: who let the dogs out, where the ladies at, check yo self fore yo wreck yo self.


“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

March 30, 2021 at 11:00 am

translate itself

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Lo, Monday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Industrial Maspeth is my happy place. Every visit fills me with ineluctable joy. A recent tiptoe through the industrial tulips, a few weeks back, found a humble narrator negotiating icy streets, mountainous piles of gray black snow, and heavy truck traffic on his nocturnal path to Newtown Creek. One has long offered the opinion that NYC never looks as good as it does when it’s wet, as evinced above. This is from 48th street, aka “the Shell Road,” which was a colonial era pathway from north to south paved with crushed oyster shells. Pictured is a lonely FDNY alarm box, sitting on a patch of sidewalk which barely exists anymore due to the expansion of corporate fencing.

The Shell Road slouches gently in altitude, down from the distant prominence of Greenpoint Avenue to the dark havens of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

People do live here in industrial Maspeth. I’m always surprised, finding a well cared for 1 or 2 family semi attached home plunked down in the middle of some otherwise hellacious industrial stretch. There might be constant noise and pollution, but there isn’t alternate side parking to contend with here in the industrial buisness zone, and it’s pretty quiet on the weekends. Want to park a boat on the street, bro? You do you.

Dichotomies abound, of course. When most say “Maspeth,” what one pictures are pretty as you please blocks of tract housing which have a somewhat suburban aspect that neighbors schools and shopping. When I say Maspeth, I’m picturing what’s generally referred to as “West Maspeth” in modernity, and it’s the darkest of the hillside thickets surrounding the fabulous Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The “Happy Place” has been nepenthe for a humble narrator during the plague year, a place where I can freely breathe sans mask or precautions due to the utter lack of population hereabout. I will also admit to enjoying the esthetics.

Night time walks around this area demand the usage of a safety vest or some other reflective material to signal your presence to the truck drivers and heavy equipment operators. A recent “hack” to my camera bag introduced a strip of reflective fabric tape to the bag’s strap, which Our Lady of the Pentacle handled for me using her darning skills. Hey, when you’re known for wearing all black clothing with a filthy black raincoat over it all, it can’t hurt to be a little bit visible.


“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

March 29, 2021 at 1:00 pm

shambleth about

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Godalmighty, it’s here again – Friday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Spooky. That’s what I was thinking while shooting this illuminated passage at the 1920’s era Sunnyside Gardens development. The actual gardens aren’t spooky at all, instead they’re rather quaint, but every now and then… what can I tell you, I like spooky. My father in law and I once left his house in Crete at 3:30 in the morning to go ghost hunting at the ruins of a Frankish castle called Fraggokastelle. Coincidentally, that’s the same time that I learned not to skimp on spending money on tripods as the cheap piece of crap I had carried halfway across the planet basically disassembled itself just as the sun was rising. Spooky.

Walking around the deserted streets of Western Queens in the middle of the night is somewhat spooky, but you really have to look for it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Other large northeastern cities in these United States are folkloric gold mines when it comes to tales of specters and apparitions. Once you cross county lines moving in the four cardinal directions, there’s a rich and well described narrative describing ghosts, goblins, forest spirits, and hauntings all around us and particularly so in the Hudson Valley region. I’ve always ascribed NYC’s distinct lack of supernatural lore to real estate valuation. It would cut into the worth of your property if it was commonly thought to be haunted, after all. There’s actually a NYS law demanding that you disclose your haunted status prior to closing.

The real estate boom of the last 20 years, which has seen significant acreages of older buildings demolished and replaced by modern glass box towers, has likely created a large population of homeless or unhoused ghosts. Nobody ever talks about that.

Pfah. You only care about people when they’re alive, you god damned metabolists.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

If you cared, you’d get yourself a Quija board and invite some of these unhoused spirits into your house. Let them in, I say. So what if they occasionally knock the walls, or slide Granny’s porcelain off the counter? I mean, really, what’s the big deal about having to clean up a bit of ectoplasm every now and then? Sheesh.

Saying all that, I’m always up for a good NYC ghost story. If you’ve got one to share, leave it in the comments, or if you want to share a story and remain anonymous – email it to me here.

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, March 22nd. 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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 26, 2021 at 1:05 pm

vastness transcending

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Can you smell that, I think it’s Thursday.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator can now claim to be fully vaccinated against COVID, with the second shot of the Pfizer vaccine having been inserted on Tuesday. I did experience some after effects on this one, which can be described as the set of symptoms you’d normally be experiencing before telling a loved one “I’m getting sick.” No fever, but hot and cold intervals, lethargy, interrupted sleep and fever dreams. Yesterday I took a nap in the late afternoon. Normally, I don’t nap. This morning (Thursday) I feel like you do the day after you were sick – in need of a good stretch and fairly hungry. Not too much of a trial, really. Friends who have had actual COVID and subsequently got vaccinated have described a much deeper trough of symptoms after vaccination, but as of today, I’m back to wondering about wandering.

Fog and mist will just pull me out of HQ every time. I point the camera lens into it and follow. These shots came out of a “short walk” from back in February, which saw me marching about in the “industrial business zone” or “IBZ” found south of Queens Blvd. and Queens Plaza, and west of Sunnyside. Had my footsteps continued all the way down the hill, I would have ended up nearby the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned, this was a short walk, a “constitutional.” One cannot sleep properly without some exercise, and the human body which houses my consciousness is built from internally lubricating parts which require motive action. At 33rd street, nearby one of the elevated stations hosting the IRT 7 line subway service, a Consolidated Edison steam pipe was putting on quite a show. A pounding sound was echoing from its subterranean chamber, with vast gouts of aerosol escaping into the atmosphere. I hung around a bit, hoping for disaster to strike as I could really use the money I’d make for selling photos of a steam pipe explosion in LIC, but no luck. It just bubbled and boiled, this cauldron.

I also debated calling it in to 311 but this was another one of those times when I just didn’t care enough. Let somebody else deal with it, I thought. I’m tired of being the only person in Queens to say “this isn’t good enough.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned above, fog and mist are my jam these days. One anxiously checks the weather reports in search of that magic combination of high dew point and temperature inversion.

I was carrying my “two lens kit” on this particular night, and was armed with only a 35mm and 85mm lens. Both are fairly “bright” lenses, so perfect for night time operations. It was also one of those nights which I wished I had the whole kit and kaboodle with me, due to the atmospheric condition.

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, March 22nd. 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 blurb.com for $30.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 25, 2021 at 11:30 am

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