The Newtown Pentacle

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Archive for April 2021

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Monday’s, amirite?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My dream for Dutch Kills, post superfund, involves carnivorous plants. Just imagine how cool it would to visit this Long Island City tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek and look down on a quivering shoreline with thousands of tiny mouths snapping their flowery jaws at you. You’d carry a bit of meat there – jerky, raw, whatever – tossing it down towards the undulating banks of green, purple, and scarlet iridescence. Small birds and rats would become stuck in the vegetative glue and winding tendrils of this carpet of carnivores, and we certainly wouldn’t have to worry about mosquitoes or gnats anymore here in the Degnon Terminal. Speciation wise, I’m thinking pitcher plants, sundews, bladderworts, and or butterworts.

I’d also like to see all sorts of lizard living here. The little gecko looking buggers you see at the cemeteries in Woodside and Maspeth somehow survive the winters, so let’s get a bunch of whatever the hell they are are start up a colony here. Also, we could use more bats, so bats. Giant spiders too. You get enough bats and giant spiders, you might be able to seed in some dog sized monitor lizards.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Once we’ve established a sticky mat of flesh hungry plantings, populated every nook and cranny with eye licking lizards, web spurting Araneae, and every utility pole has a house designed for creepy bats – then we can begin a vetting process for mad scientists to take up residence in the ruins of some of these old factories. It’s been too long since somebody attempted to build their own race of atomic mutants back here in Long Island City. I’m wondering what a cross between a Coyote and a Baboon might look like. What could go wrong? We can tell everyone they’re artists.

Think of all the corollary industries which would prosper due to the super science sector basing itself here in LIC – clone tanks, giant electrodes, lightning gathering kites, steel restraining clamps – all of this could be made locally. I mean… weed and sodomy are now totally legal, we need to find a new frontier. I think “mad science” might be it.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Giant robot work, however, is something which would need to be suppressed for climate change related issues. Purely biological, or even partially cybernetic, abominations are probably ok but we need to remember what happened over in Maspeth during the 1950’s after the aluminum plant was abandoned. It took the Marines an entire summer to get that one under control, and the area around Haberman has never fully recovered.

If you want to work with robots, I’d suggest instead finding a way to first control ants and then improvising a method for aggrandizing them to the size of cargo vans (you’d want to do it in that particular order, btw). Giant robots tend to get busted up by the military and then end up in a landfill, whereas you can compost the corpses of giant insects. Think about the future.

Even mad scientists need to be ecologically conscious these days, lords and ladies.


“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

April 19, 2021 at 11:00 am

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Friday is frizzled, yo.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another set of Sunnyside Yards shots are on offer today, with the one above depicting the Acela maintenance operation on the north side of the gargantuan rail coach yard here in Long Island City. It’s also right about at this point in time, roughly a month ago on March 15th, that I was able to begin saying that I knew how to handle the new camera and lenses properly and predictably. What I mean by that, is that I was able to spot a scene and say “hey, switch to the 85mm for this one, using x aperture and y iso” without a trial and error phase baked into the process. Funnily enough, since I’ve been moving around in daylight again, it’s been something of a challenge to shoot when the “lights” are on, burning thermonuclear eye of god wise.

Hey, I carried the old camera (technically there were two, since one got smashed, but same model) for around ten years and it had become an extension of my arm in many ways. Didn’t even have to think about the technical side of things, since while shooting all those dials and buttons were being whirred and clicked on muscle memory. One fo the challenges of the new device has actually been teaching my fingers where the buttons and dials are.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One has not had a terrific amount of fun this last week due to inclement clime, personal obligation, and official business. I found out several disconcerting things this past week that revolve around Newtown Creek, but the good news is that I was able to help organize a cleanup effort at the 19th Avenue street end in Astoria, at Luyster Creek. Great bunch of neighbors showed up, and got sweaty. The NYC DEP sent us a dumpster to collect up the garbage peeled off the shoreline, which was awesome.

This is the way.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Despite my obstacles and obligations, I still found myself standing in three of the five boroughs, which is more travel than I can describe for the last year. Looks like next week is going to involve an apocalypse of Zoom meetings. I just got renewed for another two years on the Community Board here in Astoria so there’s a long swearing in ceremony I need to virtually attend, followed by an actual CB1 meeting on Tuesday, followed by a Newtown Creek CAG meeting on… it really doesn’t ever seem to end.

Three Zoom meetings in a row are a holocaust, 4 or more are an apocalypse. A few weeks ago, I had to be in two Zoom meetings simultaneously. Whiskey was required afterwards.

Every single one of these Zoom’s feels like my soul is being run through a delicatessen meat slicer and a centimeter of my identity is being removed. Get vaxxed, lords and ladies, so we can annoy each other in person again.


“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

April 16, 2021 at 2:00 pm

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Thursday is gristle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As described previously, a humble narrator decided to inspect the Triborough Bridge’s rather well used bike and pedestrian path recently. It’s illegal to take photos up there, as I discovered post facto. When an Government Agency doesn’t want you taking photos somewhere, there’s usually a reason. The reason they give will involve the words “security” and or “terrorism,” whereas the words I’d offer include “corruption, incompetence, or malfeasance.”

So, who uses this pathway? Observationally, a lot of bike riders and pedestrians. What they encounter is an (incredibly) unlit and narrow space with stair cases that just sort of appear in front of you without warning.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The bike rider approaching my position above is also breaking the law, since the MTA Bridges and Tunnels operation instructs that riders on the bike path MUST dismount and walk their bikes. Quite obviously, this isn’t something that happens too often. I saw people riding on electric skateboards and scooters as well.

I’m actually planning on how and with whom I’m going to deal with on this subject. It makes me angry, especially so because Triborough is a toll bridge and fairly flush with maintenance budget cash, unlike the NYC DOT bridges like Queensboro or Brooklyn.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, just as I git to one of the fairly steep stairs, a couple of riders with profoundly bright LED bike lights appeared. Their colorful light helped paint the picture, as it were, of what’s happening up here. Literally the only light other than automotive headlights was being pumped out by these two bikes. Luckily, I always carry a pocket flashlight, but sheesh.

Something different tomorrow, and this won’t be the last time you hear about this particular situation.


“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

April 15, 2021 at 1:00 pm

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Wednesdays just drizzle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

As mentioned yesterday, these photos are criminal in nature. Post 911, a lot of NYC became “no photo” zones. The press photographer’s association actually sued the MTA to guarantee the right to take photos in the subways, and as far as the East River and Hudson bridges go – they’re largely owned by three entities – Port Authority, NYC DOT, and MTA Bridges and Tunnels. PA and DOT were out of the banning photography business by 2008 or so, although you still encounter the odd Cop or Security Guard who’d aggressively inquire “why are you taking pictures”?

MTA, on the other hand never explicitly banned photography, instead they invoke some obscure “NY State Authorities” rule which offers the opinion that facilities like the Triborough Bridge are a) private property, b) that whether you’re on the thing or even around them you must follow all instructions on posted signs – even if the sign is missing or you’re not on “their” property. Technically speaking, everybody who’s taken a photo in Astoria Park of a kid’s birthday party which the Triborough is in the background of is a potential member of Al Quaeda to MTA. Remember them? Haven’t thought about Al Quaeda in years. Who’s the enemy nowadays?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Now, to my point of view, if the Government – and specifically the political patronage mill section of it called the MTA – doesn’t want you to take pictures of something, that’s precisely what you should be taking pictures of. To wit, you’re looking at the unlit and unmarked pedestrian/bike path of the Triborough above.

In some ways I was kind of hoping a cop would show up and ticket me for this, as I’d make a whole megillah out of it. Glad one didn’t, but if photography is such a burning security issue here where were the MTA cops? One way or another, I’m going to start talking about this with the people who sign MTA’s checks soon.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There isn’t a splash of glitter paint anywhere near the unlit stairwells which just appear in front of you in the dark. The path is set in such a manner that the headlights of oncoming bridge traffic are at eye level while you’re walking in deep shadow. There’s zero path lighting – a string of xmas LED lights secured to the deck would vastly improve things. Then there’s the section over the East River where the “Suicide Fencing” stops and you’re suddenly experiencing a waist high rail as the only thing standing between you and a 105 foot drop to the waters of Hells Gate…

Yeah, I bet there’s a bunch of reason they don’t want cameras up here.


“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

April 14, 2021 at 1:30 pm

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Tuesday, it’s a fizzle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A bunch of years ago, a humble narrator was employed by an ad agency called Ogilvy & Mather, specifically their Ogilvy Interactive division. The founder of the company was a guy named David Ogilvy, and one of his maxims was that you should use the products you’re advertising. Selling IBM Typewriters? Buy and use one. Buicks? Guess what you should be driving? It’s actually a fairly good thing to do, getting to know the particular frammistat or whatsis or widget you’re working with or for. Over the years I’ve found myself carrying a FirstUSA credit card, wearing shoes from Nike, or Timberlands, and so on. In my life these days, this takes the form of consuming municipal services.

I’m heavily involved with the whole Newtown Creek thing, therefore I interact with the waterway and the people who work and live along it all the time, as well as the regulators of officialdom. A couple of years ago, my pals at Access Queens and I decided to get smarter about the bus system of Queens so I started riding the bus everywhere I went, often eschewing the much faster mode of transit offered by the subway. If you want to truly understand a product or service, you have to be a customer and a consumer of it first.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For the last year, I’ve been co-chair of the Queens Community Board 1 Transportation Committee. Recently, I noticed a lot of online chatter about the Triborough Bridge’s bike and pedestrian path, and decided to go investigate the situation for myself. If it comes up, I’d like to have, at least, an informed opinion on the matter. Besides, I’d literally never – ever – walked over Triborough. Kind of crazy when you think about it, given how many other bridges I’ve walked over the last decade, but there you go.

After crossing west of 31st street, Astoria Blvd. becomes Hoyt Avenue. At Hoyt Ave. North and 27th street, there’s a stairway which leads up to the aforementioned path. You’ll encounter a neat metallic bas relief map there, describing the Triborough bridge complex and it’s relationship to Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, and Randalls/Wards Islands. Hidden behind a fence was another sign, one which adjures against the usage of camera equipment on the pathway and threatens strict enforcement, but I’ll swear on a stack of bibles that I didn’t see it until I was exiting the path on my way back to rolling hills of almond eyed Astoria.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There’s a rail for bicyclists to roll their ride down on the stairs, which is in tune with the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority’s rules stating that cyclists need to dismount and walk their bikes over the span. Yes, stairs, on a bike path. Yes, pedestrian and bikes coexisting within a very narrow space…

You want to understand something, use it, Ogilvy indicated.

TBTA, once the crown jewel and center of the “House of Moses,” is now a division of the larger MTA Bridges and Tunnels operation. That’s Moses as in Robert Moses. As much as MTA would enjoy being able to do so, the suspension of First Amendment rights and the specific suppression of photography isn’t something they can do. What they can do is invoke a rule that says “must follow instructions on posted signs.” By their logic, if you encounter a sign that says “jump” and you don’t leap to your death, you’re fair game for prosecution, fines and or tickets. Grrr.

Of course, as mentioned, I didn’t see any posted signs when entering the path since it was hidden and obscured. Ignorance of the law is no defense, they’ll tell you. Thereby – I’m now a villain, a rebel, a pentagenarian delinquent…

Tomorrow – photos from the forbidden zone and my daring foray into the criminal scene of the overworld of the Triborough Bridge, high above Astoria.


“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

April 13, 2021 at 11:00 am

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