The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

Archive for November 2021

oddly corrobative

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Tuesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The routine one currently ascribes to involves a schedule of “one day out, one day in.” What that means is that if I’m out with the camera on Monday, Tuesday is the day I’m at HQ developing whatever I shot and delivering it to the Internet. One opines that internally lubricated parts like the knee or hip joints require regular flexion lest they lose function. Scuttling, always scuttling, that’s me. As a point of interest, the way that this shakes out this week is that tonight I’ll be out and scuttling.

One appears to be little more than a pile of filthy black fabric caught in a stiff breeze to most passerby, but for some reason I’m catching people’s eyes these days and I don’t like that. Some of the humans want to talk with me, whilst others are suspicious of my presence. Unfortunately, there are also those whom have seemingly developed a taste for human meat during the pandemic, and they gaze at me and my possessions hungrily.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Things have become odd out there, in this second winter of Covid. A winnowing of patience, the thinning of empathy, an acceptance of “that’s how things are now” has been arrived at. You can feel “the vibe” if you’re the sensitive type. Personally, I miss the illegal fireworks.

I’ve been observing the sort of things which hint at the continuing unraveling of civil order, encountered malign actors on the deserted streets, and have taken to swiveling my head around more than previously. Blame whatever you want to for this, I don’t care what others say, and I’m sure there’s a political narrative you’ll find comfort in. It’s going to be a real shit show when the Cops start doing their jobs again, which I predict as coinciding with the arrival of a new local political regime in January. It’s likely too late for that to have any real meaning, however, as the Djinn has escaped its bottle.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is a frontline of next year’s political bullshit here in Astoria. A mega project offered by the Kaufman Astoria people called “Innovation Queens” is slated to begin paying off local “voices” to sing the song of gentrification. If you want to know what it costs to buy off these voices – it’s about $5,000 a head. You’ll get all the usual characters – the street minister who’s secretly a gangster, the well thought of community leader who’s secretly the secret gangster’s mistress, the odd local business owner who was planning on selling his bar soon anyway. These sort of characters were all in for the LIC rezonings, the BQX, Amazon, etc. – whatever big idea City Hall and the EDC were flacking at the time and writing checks for. That’s why I can tell you what and how much they cost, because that’s what they cost the bosses last time, and the time before that. Five grand isn’t even bagel money for the real estate people.

The Innovation Queens people describe this little industrial zone along Northern Boulevard as “dark, deserted, dangerous.” In actuality, it didn’t used to be, but ever since they started acquiring/emptying/blighting the properties hereabouts…


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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.

think slowly

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Monday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

A humble narrator found himself wandering across the loquacious Newtown Creek, as is often the case, on the Pulaski Bridge. Count Casimir Pulaski, whom the bridge is named for, was a Polish noble and accomplished military man who – after meeting Ben Franklin and Lafayette while exiled in France – joined the Continental Army as a Cavalry General during the American Revolution. Part of Washington’s executive staff, Pulaski died of wounds he received at the Battle of Savannah in 1779.

The 1954 vintage bridge over Newtown Creek, connecting what’s now called McGuinness Blvd. in Brooklyn with LIC’s 11th street, was a product of Robert Moses’ long tenure as the high lord of transportation spending and construction in NYC. Actual construction of the double bascule draw bridge was accomplished by the Horn Construction Company, with the assistance of Bethlehem Steel and the American Bridge Company. An earlier bridge, connecting Brooklyn’s Manhattan Avenue with LIC’s Vernon Avenue (as it was known back then), was also removed as part of the project.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Surprisingly well used stair cases rise up on either side of the bridge, allowing pedestrian egress. The pedestrian lanes do indeed flow from on ramp to off ramp, but the stairs are located a lot closer to the center beam of the span. The LIC side stairs are found just south of the Midtown Tunnel and Long Island Rail Road Hunter’s Point yard.

One hasn’t used the Pulaski all that much during Covid times. One of the guiding principals for me during this interval has been the avoidance of other people. Given the increased population density of Hunters Point and Brooklyn’s Greenpoint section that has come with the real estate build out of the last twenty years…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Pictured above is the Greenpoint side, where McGuinness Blvd. slouches roughly downwards towards the waterfront. When the bridge was built, McGuinness Blvd. was created as a double wide “arterial” street designed to carry Brooklyn Queens Expressway bound traffic to Meeker Avenue, where the high speed road has travelled on an overpass since 1939. That overpass leads to another Robert Moses project – the Koscisuzcko Bridge – which leads to his 1940 vintage Long Island Expressway and his 1936 Grand Central Parkway.

It is no accident that the Pulaski and Kosciuszko bridges are named for Polish generals. Instead, it’s good politics, given the enormous community of Polish folks who live or lived in Greenpoint, Maspeth, and LIC’s Blissville.


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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

November 29, 2021 at 11:30 am

scoundrel out

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Friday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My beloved Creek. Pictured above and below are sections of the Whale Creek tributary of the fabulous Newtown Creek. This canalized section of the greater waterway is contained entirely within the confines of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment and Resource Recovery Plant – or simply, the sewer plant in Greenpoint. The DEP has part of its small navy here, utilizing these boats to execute the mandate laid out for it by NYC’s charter. The blue vessel at the right of the shot is one of DEP’s skimmer boats.

There’s a conveyor belt apparatus which dips down into the water as the Skimmer Boat navigates along, and this mechanism allows them to harvest “floatable” trash and garbage as well as flotsam and jetsam from the rivers and creeks of NYC. They have several variations on this design in their inventory, in addition to the larger “Sludge Boats” which are more commonly noticed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One enjoys creating long exposure photos of this material swirling around in the eddy currents at the end of the canals. Nothing fancies up a shot like garbage in the water, I always opine.

Blah, blah, blah. I talk myself blue in the face about this issue and nobody cares. Litter on the street becomes litter in the water because of the combined sewer blah blah blah. Nothing changes, nobody cares, nothing matters except ‘Affordable housing’ (which is now going to be referred to as “deeply affordable housing,” if you want a preview of politic talk in 2022) and bike lanes.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s been quite a week, with Thanksgiving and all, huh? Personally, I’m getting prepared for another “away game.”

Another bit of travel is on my horizon, and I’m going to be passing through Pittsburgh again in the next couple of weeks. This time around, I’m hoping to pull off a few night time shots when I’m there.

Back next week with more, at this, your Newtown Pentacle.


“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.

altogether ignorant

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Thursday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Thanks. Thanks have therefore been given, go shop now.

The good news is that we’ve made it to another Thanksgiving. Personally, I’m thankful that most of my friends have made it through Covid with not much more than a few scars, although there’s a cohort of folks who aren’t with us anymore. I’m not thankful for the acrimony and weird ideations which have become mainstream thought, nor for being forced into starting conversations with “do you really believe that the government is omnipotent”?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Let’s pretend for a moment that the United States Government has the sort of far reaching technical acumen and information discipline that would result in them having secret technologies like “nanobots” available to them, which allow them to control minds and alter human genetics. Given everything you know about our Government, don’t you think that you’d see a battalion of Captain America’s raising a flag in Tehran if we had this sort of super hero movie tech? Wouldn’t the first thing America did with this new tech involve picking a drug or terror war fight with some 98 pound weakling of a country in the Third World, to test it out on the battlefield and develop tactics?

Now, saying that, the whole Newtown Creek dealie puts me in touch with all layers of Government on a regular basis. Federal, State, Local. Trust me when I tell you that the paper trail associated with telling somebody that their shoelaces are untied would be miles long, vulnerable to foil applications, and a Congressional Committee would investigate why loafers weren’t considered, given the laces issue, in the name of screwing with the Clintons. Conspiracies of anything other than indifference, or “that’s not my job,” or “procedure” are impossible for the simple reason of “ass covering.” They’re not that good, our government employees, largely because the pay sucks and they are doing this gig for the pension. If they were any good at their jobs, they’d be working in the corporate world for an oil company or an investment bank. Even there, it’s all about the cash and getting yours, not controlling a population of “sheeple.” The average citizen is considered to be little more than a consumer, a customer, a metaphorical member of a demographic cohort – an obstacle or an abstraction.

That’s something to be thankful about, ultimately.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I always find it odd that the same group of people who decry “the State” (in the Machiavellian definition) and demand that we “starve the beast,” relegate such omnipotent abilities and powers to it. When the Federal Leviathan – in particular – decides on a singular goal and its collective power is focused on a singular objective, you can indeed go to the moon, power a Naval ship using a nuclear reactor, or weaponize the upper atmosphere or hide military equipment in space.

Saying all that, the real world isn’t a Marvel movie and the X-Files was a tv show. Get a grip.

Sales, there are sales. Buy things. Go ahead. Shop.


“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

November 25, 2021 at 11:00 am

Posted in Astoria, Subway

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damned effrontery

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Wednesday

– photo by Mitch Waxman

My Tree of Paradise grows out from under a cosmetics factory found on a superfund site in Long Island City. It’s all I’ve got to cling to, really. It represents something to me. That’s why I left HQ at about 4:45 in the morning on a recent chilly morning, paid money for a cab to drop me here in Long Island City at Dutch Kills, and explains why I was standing there on the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge with a tripod setup just as the burning thermonuclear eye of god itself peeked up from behind Nassau County. I got what I wanted, which was the shadow of a factory roof pointing an arrow at my tree of paradise.

Why take a cab rather than walk or take the train? Have you read the headlines? Things have gotten a little weird out there these days and particularly nights, and it’s not worth taking the chance that you’re going to run into some malign actor in the dark while burdened down with bags of camera equipment.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

For those of you relatively new to New York City, which I’d describe as being any of you who moved here after “Giuliani Time,” there’s a series of sensible prophylactics you’ll want to acquaint yourself with.

First is that you keep your money and your wallet in separate pockets. This way, if you do get cornered by a mugger you can give them the cash, and avoid the pain in the ass of replacing all of the cards and documents in your wallet. Second is that even if you’re a millionaire, dress like you’re living rough on the street. Predators will not notice you that way, and they’ll instead stalk richer or fatter prey. Third is “keep moving.” Fourth is to carry a flashlight or some other piece of metal in your coat pocket to use as a bludgeon. Fifth is not to be embarrassed to yell for help at the top of your lungs. You’d be surprised at how well #2 and #5 work.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

One such as myself – a feckless quisling and vast physical coward – spends a lot of time alone on the deserted streets of NYC at night. I generally have a camera dangling off of me, which makes me “noticeable” and a bit of a target. Number six on my list of NYC survival tactics, which is built on the third motto of “keep moving,” is to not take unnecessary chances. Given that you know that the Subway system has been repurposed as a nocturnal shelter for people too high or crazy to be allowed into the homeless shelters during Covid, and that the cops aren’t going to do a single thing about anything until De Blasio is out of office, it’s best to just acknowledge that fact and take a cab.

Pictured above is a storm sewer found along Dutch Kills, underneath the Long Island Expressway. The water wasn’t actually glowing green, instead it was early morning light filtering through tree canopy that lent the hue to the water. Enjoy your giving of thanks.


“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

November 24, 2021 at 11:00 am

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